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Ship hobbled in harbor

A Canadian laker, heading into the Duluth harbor early Thursday morning, got its anchor chain tangled in the propeller, which crippled the ship and caused an oil leak. The ship drifted into the channel and blocked shipping traffic.

A Canadian laker, heading into the Duluth harbor early Thursday morning, got its anchor chain tangled in the propeller, which crippled the ship and caused an oil leak. The ship drifted into the channel and blocked shipping traffic.
The Canadian Olympic, a 730-foot vessel, was scheduled to load coal at Midwest Energy Terminal. When it arrived in the Twin Ports at 2 a.m. Thursday, another ship was at Midwest Terminal, so the Canadian Olympic headed for the anchorage, a designated area of the harbor where ships wait for berths to open up. While maneuvering to drop its stern anchor, the anchor chain wrapped around the propeller and damaged the propeller's shaft.
"We're still looking for all the causes," said Andrew Palmiotto, with the U.S. Coast Guard. "I think what happened, as they were going to put the anchor down, the ship was drifting. When they let the anchor down (while the propeller was still turning), that combination sucked the chain in, and it wrapped around the shaft."
Sailors aboard the Canadian Olympic knew something was wrong right away.
"They could feel when the chain wrapped around the propeller, they could hear the screech, they could feel the torque when the propeller stopped," Palmiotto said.
With the obvious signs that something was amiss, the crew went to the stern to investigate. When they did, they discovered an oil leak. Approximately 100 gallons of oil used to lubricate the shaft spilled into the harbor.
"Most of it was contained," Palmiotto said. "The crew had pretty good initiative. They had absorbent, sausage-like padding. They used that, and also used the ship's mooring lines to try and contain the oil. The fact that it was relatively calm out, that actually worked pretty good."
After the oil was cleaned up, tugs were used to move the stern of the ship out of the way and cut the anchor chain. During these operations, it was discovered that the anchor was no longer attached to the chain, and a search of the immediate area turned up empty. The vessel was safely moved to the Port Authority pier as planned, and officials expected the ship to be towed to Fraser Shipyard Friday for repairs.
However, divers continued the search for the anchor Friday, and part of the harbor was to remain closed until it was found.
Palmiotto says the ship's crew was doing nothing unusual when they let out the anchor, and he does not expect any charges to be filed in the mishap.

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