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German ship held in Duluth port during probe

Beach grass and trees frame the Cornelia as seen from Park Point in Duluth on Friday afternoon. The 581-foot long ship is being held at anchor by the U.S. Coast Guard in Lake Superior. (Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com)

A foreign ship is being held at anchor in Lake Superior as part of a federal probe, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said Friday.

The German-owned vessel, Cornelia, is being held in the Duluth harbor outside the Duluth Ship Canal.

The nature of the investigation is unknown at this time. The U.S. Coast Guard is also involved in the investigation.

“The U.S. Attorney’s Office declines to comment on any details of the investigation,” said Ben Petok, director of communications in the U.S. Attorney’s District of Minnesota office in the Twin Cities. Petok explained it is general practice not to comment on an active investigation.

He confirmed that no individual person has been detained.

“There is no threat to public safety,” Petok added.

The Cornelia has been in the port of Duluth-Superior for several days and took on grain at the CHS Inc. elevator in Superior, loading Tuesday and Wednesday, said Greg Ukkola, grain operations manager for the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture Grain Regulation in Superior.

“We did an initial stowage examination on the ship to see that it was fit to load grain into, and we examined the grain as it was being loaded,” Ukkola said.

The stowage exam of the vessel and its holds was done last Sunday, while the ship was anchored in Duluth harbor. Everything about the exams was routine, Ukkola said.

“We inspect all export grain shipments,” Ukkola said. “It’s a federal requirement.”

After being loaded midweek, the Cornelia never got underway. The ship has been stopped at anchor since Thursday. The 9th Coast Guard District in Cleveland was the first federal agency to confirm the investigation to the News Tribune, but referred all questions to the U.S. Attorney’s District of Minnesota office.

The Cornelia is owned by the German company MST, which operates dry bulk carriers on the Atlantic Ocean. MST could not be reached for comment and the captain of the vessel refused to comment when reached by the News Tribune.

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