Skip to main content

The U.S. Coast Guard continues to work on a tugboat that's partially underwater in the Duluth Harbor to remove fuel and water from the vessel. 

The retired U.S. Army Corps tugboat, named Lake Superior, "was listing over the weekend but was supported by ice," Joseph McGinnis, the waterways management branch chief with the Coast Guard, told Bring Me The News on Monday. 

Related [March 21]: Coast Guard investigating sinking tugboat on Lake Superior in Duluth

But by Monday morning, the stern of the vessel sunk because the ice started melting, McGinnis said. The U.S. Coast Guard learned of the issue at about 9 a.m. Monday and responded to the tugboat's slip, off Railroad Street near Pier B and the Compass Minerals dock, to mitigate any potential environmental hazards.

It's still not clear what caused the tugboat to start taking on water, with McGinnis telling Bring Me The News on Wednesday the hope is that question will be answered when the vessel is lifted out of the water.

Contractors were headed to the tugboat on Wednesday to "perform lightering and dewater operations," McGinnis said, with the goal being to remove any fuel, lube oil and water in the vessel. Then, it will be up to the owner of the tugboat, Billington Contracting, to determine what to do from there. 

The U.S. Coast Guard says it wants to ensure the tugboat will not pose a threat to the waterway or the environment. 

"Being that the vessel is in a slip, there is no threat to the waterway and does not present a hazard to other vessels. As for safety of the environment, the Coast Guard is monitoring the vessel for any pollution. As soon as all potential pollutants, such as the diesel fuel, lube oil, etc., are removed from the vessel, the Coast Guard will not be involved with the vessel since there will be no threat to the environment," McGinnis said. 

The Coast Guard pollution responders continue to monitor the vessel and are staying in touch with the contractors at the scene.

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.

Sign up: Subscribe to our BREAKING NEWS newsletters

Lake Superior's storied history

Here is the Lake Superior not sinking.

Here is the Lake Superior not sinking.

The tugboat has worn many hats since it was built in 1943 for the U.S. Army and named Maj. Emil H. Block, according to the website Great Lakes Tugs and Workboats

She worked in the South Pacific moving barges and sank in 1950, the Star Tribune said. The vessel was fixed up and then transferred to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1950 and renamed Lake Superior, Great Lakes Tugs and Workboats says. 

The tug was retired from service in about 1995 and was donated to the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center, which used it as a floating museum, the website said. A private owner —Billington Contracting of Duluth — bought the vessel in 2007.

The live-aboard, 114-foot steel hull tug was listed previously listed for sale, according to an old ad that touted the vessel's stainless galley, oak and mahogany wood, brass fixtures and ceramic tile floors. 

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.

Next Up

Screen Shot 2022-06-25 at 7.55.28 PM

Charges: Cop feared for his life during struggle for gun with suspect

Allen Denzel Oliver-Hall has been charged with second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon.

Burnsville, Minnesota - May 2019 (2)

Shootout near Erik's Bike Shop, Lunds & Byerlys in Burnsville

Police say youths were shooting at each other on Saturday afternoon.

minnesota river

Fishermen find body floating in Minnesota River in Shakopee

The body was found upstream from Minnesota River Heritage Park.

Screen Shot 2022-06-25 at 11.01.17 AM

Woman breaks free after being kidnapped and taken to Brooklyn Park

The woman was taken by force as she arrived at her work in Plymouth.

image

How the fastest animal on the planet returned to MN after local extinction

The fastest animal on Earth had once vanished from Minnesota and Wisconsin.

image

St. Paul's new 'skate trail' brings non-traditional park to life

Gateway Park is the first of four parks to open in the Highland Bridge redevelopment.

FWDqyh6UEAENgIG

80 mph winds, large hail possible with severe storms in MN

A severe thunderstorm watch is in effect for much of the state until 3 a.m. Saturday.

290376311_5009722282489162_198055240351933487_n

30 people evacuated as flooding hammers small town

It's assumed that at least eight inches of rain fell in Randall, with more heavy rain expected Friday night into Saturday morning.

Intersection in Rochester.

Boy dies in motorcycle crash in Rochester

Police are investigating as of Friday afternoon.

Related

tugboat duluth

So there's a tugboat sinking on Lake Superior in Duluth

It's "very early" in the response efforts.

ice rescue 4

26 anglers rescued after Lake Superior ice sheet floats away in Duluth

After multiple trips, all the anglers were safely rescued from the ice and brought to shore.

coast guard north station grand marais 1

US Coast Guard plans to close its Grand Marais station by next summer

The plan is to consolidate the seasonal station with the one in Duluth.

The Coast Guard towed the boat to Rice's Point Landing.

Coast Guard rescues Duluth family from Lake Superior fishing trip

The Monday afternoon operation involved several public safety agencies.

duluth harbor cam

Videos: Winter storm creates massive waves on Lake Superior

Surfers even took to the icy waters on Wednesday.

grand marais harbor cam

Gales of November: Giant waves on Lake Superior flood Grand Marais

Enormous waves hammered Minnesota's North Shore on Thursday, from Grand Portage to Duluth.

duluth fire department rescue

Firefighters rescue teenager who got swept 350 feet out into Lake Superior

Four teens were swimming together off Park Point in Duluth when they began struggling.