A tugboat on Lake Superior in Duluth is sinking, and the U.S. Coast Guard is investigating.
A photo posted to Facebook by Paul Scinocca shows the stern of the boat under the icy water Monday morning. Scinocca told Bring Me The News he snapped the photo of the vessel, named Lake Superior, at 8:45 a.m. Monday from the Compass Minerals dock, right across from the tug.
In a statement to Bring Me The News, the Coast Guard's Ninth District, which includes Duluth, said:
"The Coast Guard is aware of this situation and investigators from the Marine Safety Unit Duluth are responding. There have been no reports of any pollution or impacts to the environment."
Jayson Hron with the Duluth Seaway Port Authority told Bring Me The News the vessel is formerly a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers tugboat, but it's now privately owned.
"The U.S. Coast Guard is currently investigating, but very early in the response efforts," Hron said at 11:16 a.m. Monday.
Joseph McGinnis, the waterways management branch chief with the Coast Guard, told Bring Me The News Monday afternoon the investigation is ongoing after the Coast Guard was notified at 9 a.m. Monday that the vessel was sinking.
"The vessel was listing over the weekend but was supported by ice. Since the ice started melting, the stern of the vessel sunk," McGinnis said.
The Coast Guard's pollution responders examined the vessel and are "still working diligently on mitigating any potential environmental hazards."
As of Monday afternoon, only the stern of the vessel was submerged and crews had dewatering pumps on the scene to remove water from the tugboat, McGinnis said, adding he "Can't say for sure if the vessel will fully submerge."
According to the website Great Lakes Tugs and Workboats, the Lake Superior was built in 1943 for the U.S. Army and named Major Emil H. Block before being transferred to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1950 and renamed Lake Superior
The tug was retired from service in about 1995 and was acquired by the City of Duluth, which used it as a floating museum, the website said. A private owner —Billington Contracting of Duluth — bought the vessel in 2007 and it has remained inactive.
The live-aboard, 114-foot steel hull tug was listed as for sale, according to an ad that has since expired.
Here she is not sinking:
McGinnis encourages members of the public to call 218-725-3800 or 906-635-3233 if they see a vessel sinking or notice "any large sheens of oil" in the water.
The Lake Superior isn't the first former U.S. Army Corps of Engineers tugboat to take on water in Duluth. The Essayons, which was built in 1908, sank to the bottom of its slip on Lake Superior on March 24, 2009, according to media reports. A local businessman had owned the tug since 1994 and was hoping to convert it into a bed and breakfast.
The engine of the Essayons is now on display at the Duluth Marine Museum in Canal Park.
This is a developing story that will be updated as we get more information.