|The Roger Blough ran aground Friday, May 27, 2016 in Whitefish Bay in Lake Superior. Information and pictures below, courtesy of US Coast Guard Sector Sault Ste. Marie, in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. They are ordered from first to most recent|
|May 27, 2016|
|Coast Guard crews and the Aids to Navigation Team from Sault Ste Marie, and the air crew from Air Station Traverse City, Michigan responded. Coast Guard pollution responders, vessel inspectors and marine casualty investigator arrived on board the vessel to assess vessel damage and crew safety. The Coast Guard has dispatched the cutter, Mobile Bay, a 140-foot ice breaking tug out of Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin to assist in on-going response operations. The Coast Guard is currently monitoring the situation and overseeing future salvage operations.|
|May 28, 2016|
|Throughout the night, U.S. Coast Guard boat crews conducted hourly exterior draft readings of the vessel while the crew of the Roger Blough also conducted interior soundings to the tanks each hour through the evening. Based on the stabilized draft readings and tank soundings, the flooding appears to be under control. Plans to safely remove the Roger Blough from the reef have begun. A U.S. Coast Guard Dolphin helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City, Michigan, was launched to provide aerial photos but was diverted due to dense fog.|
|May 29, 2016|
|The crew of Coast Guard Cutter Mobile Bay (below, right), enforced a 500 yard safety zone alongside the motor vessel Roger Blough to protect passing vessels from potential hazards associated with salvage operations. Sault Ste. Marie Vessel Traffic Service has also increased its measures on commercial traffic to ensure the safe passage of shipping near the safety zone.|
| The Roger Blough activated its vessel response plan, taking precautionary measures to ensure safety of the the environment. This includes coordination with their oil spill response organization to deploy oil containment equipment as well as underwater dive surveys to more effectively assess the damage and unground the vessel.
“All indications thus far seem to reveal that the damage is in the forward section of the vessel and all fuel tanks are in the rear section,” said Ken Gerasimos, a representative of Key Lakes Inc., the operating company of the Roger Blough. “No fuel tanks are connected to the outer skin of the ship.”
A Coast Guard Auxiliary aircrew conducted an overflight of the area Sunday morning and reported no signs of pollution.
The chance of a fuel spill remains minimal and flooding on the Blough remains stable. The crew remains in good condition.
The National Transportation Safety Board is scheduled to arrive on Monday, May 30, to assist the Coast Guard in the investigation into the cause of the grounding.
|May 29, 2016|
Plans continue to progress to safely free the Blough from Gros Cap Reef in conjunction with Canadian partners and company representatives.
|May 30, 2016|
|Responders placed a protective boom around the stern of the Blough strictly as a preventative measure around the location of the Blough’s fuel tanks.|
|The motor vessel Edgar B. Speer (above) safely passes the 500 yard safety zone around the motor vessel Roger Blough.|
|Lt. Gordon Gertiser, a marine inspector with U.S. Coast Guard Sector Sault Ste. Marie, inspects the engine room for possible damage aboard the motor vessel Roger Blough, May 30, 2016, in Lake Superior.|
The Coast Guard cutter Mobile Bay pulled up to the dock at the DECC early Sunday morning, March 21st. Earlier this season, they were part of a large effort to break up the ice in the St. Clair River, an operation that obviously succeeded in its task as commercial vessels are now moving easily. They were called to check out the ice conditions in the Keweenaw and the Apostle Islands but the ice was thick there and it was too early to send the ice fishermen back to shore. Those fishermen are lucky they don’t have to share their part of the lake with commercial traffic as much as Duluth Superior. The ice fishermen here were told to leave a week or more ago so the Alder could begin to clear the shipping channels for the approaching commercial traffic. So with too much ice at those destinations, the ice breaker Mobile Bay were sent to Duluth where they brought more ice in on their bow than they saw in the harbor. But Duluth is a good place to stop to take care of the necessities of life such as food, garbage and a little rest and relaxation. They will leave Tuesday morning for the Soo, although still ready for a change in plans as ice conditions change.
The Mobile Bay is 140 feet long and has a crew of 19 on board. When they aren’t breaking ice, they can usually be found pushing their 120 foot barge in front of them. The barge is back at their home port of Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. When the ice is gone, they switch over to their other personality, a buoy tender. Since they don’t have a deck large enough hold the buoys they pick up and drop off, they bring the barge along for that. The barge also has a crane on board, something the Mobile Bay lacks since she is primarily an ice breaking cutter.