Traffic on St. Lawrence Seaway blocked by disabled freighter

May 28, 2014

A large freighter stuck in a narrow part of the St. Lawrence Seaway since yesterday afternoon is beginning to cause a backup of shipping traffic along the waterway.

The Federal Kivalina lost power yesterday afternoon in the "American Narrows" section of the seaway and ran aground a third of a mile north of the Thousand Islands Bridge, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. The bridge, west of Alexandria Bay, carries Interstate 81 over the St. Lawrence River.

The Kivalina, a 656-foot Hong Kong-flagged vessel, was on its way to Montreal with 23,000 tons of canola seeds on board. None of the 22 crew members on board were injured. The ship dropped three anchors around 2 p.m. Tuesday to slow itself down. 

The Federal Kivalina is disabled near Collins Landing, N.Y.
The Federal Kivalina is disabled near Collins Landing, N.Y.
Credit U.S. Coast Guard / via St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corp.

The ship remains grounded while it awaits a salvage team to arrive. A dive crew assessed the hull this morning, the coast guard said.

"We don’t have a timeline. Our main concern is it to make sure that the people, the vessel, all get away safely and the environment is not impacted," said Petty Officer Second Class Levi Read, a public information officer for the coast guard.

Nothing has leaked from the ship and the crew remains on board.

There are now a number of ships in a "holding pattern," said Nancy Alcalde, a spokeswoman for the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation. 

Alcalde said they don't know when traffic will resume on the seaway. The coast guard will have to approve the salvage plan.

As the name implies, Alcalde said, this section of the seaway is narrow and there's no room for other ships to safely get around the Kivalina.

The approximate location of the disabled Federal Kivalina:

CORRECTION: The location of the Federal Kivalina on the map above has been changed.