Effort to free ship apparently coming soon

wwny A closeup look at the grounded ship in the St. Lawrence River

ST. LAWRENCE RIVER, N.Y. (WWNY) - Tug boats and barges were headed to the Rt. hon. Paul J. Martin Wednesday, veteran ship watcher Michael Folsom reported.

Folsom, who has long been a source of reliable information about the St. Lawrence Seaway, tweeted that a “major salvage operation” is being coordinated for the ship, which ran aground Sunday night in Canadian waters across from Lisbon.

Folsom said two tugs, the Ocean Comeau and Ocean Echo II, were en route Wednesday. He also tweeted “barges for offloading of cargo” are being sent.

Typically, ships are freed by removing some of their cargo, making them lighter and allowing them to float free.

There was no official word Wednesday on plans to free the ship.

Earlier, 7 News reporter Keith Benman reported from the scene of the ship grounding...

People are keeping watch over a grounded ship in the St. Lawrence River.

The Paul J. Martin looks big and even bigger close up. Other ships keep a careful watch as they pass the grounded tanker. Others are watching as well. It's not a common site.

“It's just unusual that it's there. In that spot. Because they travel this corridor all the time. Two ships at a time go up through here,” said Todd Miller, town of Lisbon resident.

People were also watching Sunday night. In Cardinal, Ontario, they could see the lights of a ship moving very, very slowly. And then...

“It appeared to stop. And the appearance is it was reversing. But just a very little bit...And one thing that I could see is that they had a searchlight from probably the bridge shining down on the port side,” said Lawrence Levere, Cardinal, Ontario resident.

The ship is hidden from ship gazers in Lisbon by Galop Island. The U.S. Coast Guard says plans are being made to free the ship. People who know these waters say it can be a tricky passage.

“I mean we're always checking our depth finders when we're fishing to see the depth in the water. So the only way you know is, you look, 'Uh oh! You're in shallow water,'” said Miller.

The Paul J. Martin was on its way to Quebec with a load of iron ore. The Coast Guard says the ship is taking on some water but pumps onboard can keep up.

It could be several days or even more, before the Paul J. Martin gets freed. Until then, shippers on this river are going to have to be very cautious.

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