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Traffic jam in St. Lawrence Seaway clearing

The saga of the foreign grain ship Orsula continued on the last day of the year as it plied its way through the St. Lawrence Seaway after a traffic jam that extended the planned closing date for the lane.

A blog entry on the Ship Watcher website said the seaway probably wouldn't be cleared of ships until late on New Year's Eve, a full day after the lane was set to close.

The Orsula, which ran aground on Christmas Day at the entrance to the seaway off Lake Ontario, was lifted off rocks late Sunday and was outbound again. It sat halfway to Montreal overnight Monday, waiting for the inbound Algoma Equinox to clear the U.S. locks, Ship Watcher reported. Maps showed the ships had passed each other by Tuesday morning. The Orsula was the last outgoing ship on the seaway.

Michael Folsom, who blogs at the Ship Watcher, said the removal of buoys before the seaway closed might have contributed to the Orsula running aground on rocks that are usually marked.

The Orsula, loaded with more than 20,000 metric tons of durum wheat bound for Italy, was the last saltie to leave the Twin Ports, on Dec. 19. It ran aground at 12:37 a.m. on Christmas Day near Tibbetts Point in New York at the entrance of the seaway. There had been at least 20 ships lined up to enter the seaway after early icing on the St. Lawrence River caused delays.