Great Lakes' longest ship set free after running aground in Duluth


People in Duluth got an unexpected show Saturday as the longest ship on the Great Lakes failed to turn, getting stuck near Bayfront Festival Park.

The 1,013.5-foot Paul R. Tregurtha, an Interlake Steamship Company laker, was hauling a full load of coal when it ran aground just after 3 p.m. and was freed by two tugboats about four hours later, the Duluth News Tribune reports.

"[The freighter] was making the turn to go under the [Aerial Lift Bridge], but it didn’t turn,” Adele Yorde, a spokeswoman for the Duluth Seaway Port Authority, told the newspaper. “It went straight toward Bayfront Park.”

Interlake Steamship hasn't said what caused the freighter, which is called the "Queen of Lakes," to miss the turn, but eyewitnesses told Northland's News Center the ship was trying to avoid a smaller watercraft in the shipping channel.

"I heard it blow its horn at least eight times to most likely warn people near the shore," Jeremy O'Connor, who works at the Great Lakes Aquarium in Duluth, told the Star Tribune.

The ship came to rest about 50 feet from shore. Onlookers said the bow thrusters were churning, but it appeared to be stuck, the newspaper notes. Tug boats freed the freighter around 7 p.m. The ship is being inspected in the Port Terminal, WDIO says.

There were no injuries and no signs of pollution, according to reports. The ship's position probably didn't impede traffic in the harbor and didn't affect lift bridge operations, Yorde told the Duluth News Tribune.

Interlake Steamship spokesman Tom Whynne said the ship has only gotten stuck twice in the eight years he's worked for the company – the last time was in 2012 in the St. Mary's River, the Duluth News Tribune says. According to Duluth Shipping News, the Tregurtha comes to Duluth about once a week and almost always loads coal.

Saturday's incident drew many spectators. Here's a sampling of tweets:

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