Great Lakes freighter Mark W. Barker briefly touches down on the Detroit River

The 639 foot Great Lakes Freighter Mark W Barker ran aground on the Detroit River Wednesday but was later refloated without incident.

The Mark W Barker is known for being the first US-flagged bulk carrier on the Great Lakes in nearly 40 years. It was built by Fancantieri Bay Shipbuilding in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin and delivered to the Interlake Steamship Company in spring 2022.

Interlake confirmed details of the incident in a statement to gCaptain.

“Around 07:35 this morning local time, MS Mark W. Barker was en route up the Detroit River, passing Belle Isle, with a cargo of salt from Cleveland to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, when she suffered a loss in performance and manoeuvrability,” it said in the statement.

“The ship turned unexpectedly to port and the captain dropped anchor before the bow struck the soft bank of the channel.”

No casualties were reported and there appears to be no risk of pollution or damage to the ship.

The Mark W. Barker was later freed with the help of a tugboat.

“The ship was able to pull away from shore and make its way to Belle Isle Anchorage where the crew will continue to investigate the ship and work to determine the cause of the incident,” Interlake said.

Once anchored, U.S. Coast Guard investigators will board the ship to assess any damage and make repairs as necessary.

The Mark W Barker is a new River-class self-unloading bulk carrier developed in-house by Interlake Steamship Company, Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding and Bay Engineering. The ship features an innovative cargo hold layout and hatch covers designed for maximum cubic capacity and the ability to handle difficult cargo.

With a deadweight tonnage of 28,000 tons, the ship is used to transport raw materials such as salt, iron ore and stone to support production throughout the Great Lakes region. The ship is believed to be the first ship built for the US Great Lakes service since 1983.

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