Coast Guard issues warning after laser pointed at laker passing through Duluth Ship Canal

The fine for pointing a laser at a vessel can reach up to $25,000.


DULUTH — A bright-green laser was pointed at the pilot house window of a laker entering the Duluth Ship Canal last month.

The U.S. Coast Guard warned it could have damaged the eyesight of crew members, presenting a dangerous situation as they maneuvered the 728-foot-long Joseph L. Block into the Port of Duluth.

"Laser pointers have the potential to blind someone temporarily or permanently if pointed in their eyes," the Coast Guard said in a news release Monday. "When a laser is pointed at a vessel underway, this can create a hazard to the navigable waterway. The Coast Guard takes these incidents seriously and will be working with law enforcement to track these kind of activities as well as fine those responsible."

The laser was pointed at the ship April 21, but was discovered later when someone who had filmed the ship entering the port was editing their video. They then reported the incident to the Coast Guard.

The YouTube channel "1 Long 2 Short" posted a video of the laser appearing on the ship's pilot house.


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The Coast Guard said anyone who sees a laser pointed at a vessel should contact Coast Guard Investigation Services at or 503-247-4002.

The CGIS Tips app can also be downloaded from the App Store for iPhone or Google Play for Android devices.

The Coast Guard pointed to a 2021 law called the Aiming Laser Pointer at Vessel : “It shall be unlawful to cause the beam of a laser pointer to strike a vessel operating on the navigable waters of the United States.”

A violation can lead to a fine of up to $25,000.

Jimmy Lovrien covers energy, mining and the 8th Congressional District for the Duluth News Tribune. He can be reached at or 218-723-5332.
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