Blast injures two crewmen on laker off Whitefish Point
A boiler explosion Sunday morning on the Kaye E. Barker severely injured two crew members. The laker, which is part of the Interlake Steamship Co. fleet, was downbound with a load of taconite from Marquette, Mich., when one of its boilers blew ab...
A boiler explosion Sunday morning on the Kaye E. Barker severely injured two crew members. The laker, which is part of the Interlake Steamship Co. fleet, was downbound with a load of taconite from Marquette, Mich., when one of its boilers blew about a half-mile off Whitefish Point, Mich.
The accident occurred about 8 a.m., and the vessel temporarily lost propulsion. The U.S. Coast Guard was notified of the situation and dispatched an HH-65 rescue helicopter from its air station in Traverse City. The two injured crew members sustained second- and third-degree burns to their hands, neck and face, according to a report from the Coast Guard, which did not release the mariners' identities. They were transported to Sault Ste. Marie's War Memorial Hospital for initial treatment, then were transferred to the burn unit at University Hospital in Ann Arbor, Mich.
The 767-foot Kaye E. Barker was able to limp to the Carbide Dock in Sault Ste. Marie by tapping auxiliary boilers typically used to power other equipment aboard the ship, according to the Evening News in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.
After undergoing inspections and repairs, the vessel resumed its downbound journey Monday afternoon, according to boatnerd.com, a Web site dedicated to shipwatchers on the Great Lakes.
Boiler explosions used to be a common danger on lakers, but thanks to improved equipment and safety standards, such incidents are rare aboard modern vessels.
The Kaye E. Barker began its life in 1952 as the Edward B. Green, sailing for Cleveland-Cliffs. In 1976, it was lengthened 120 feet; and in 1981 it was converted into a self-unloader.