Watch: Huge freighter dodges sightseeing ship let loose in Duluth Harbor

Someone unmoored two ships – and police want to know who's responsible.
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A 1,000-foot freighter narrowly dodged a sightseeing ship that had been let loose in Duluth Harbor.

Two boats from Duluth's Vista Fleet were apparently unmoored and set adrift – without anyone onboard – near the Aerial Lift Bridge around 2:47 a.m. Thursday, Lt. Chuck O'Connor of the Duluth Police Department told GoMN. 

Video posted to YouTube (watch it below) by Dennis O'Hara of Duluth Harbor Cam shows one of the loose ships, the Vista Queen, slowly floating in front of the Lift Bridge.

At the same time, the John D. Letich freighter is making its way under the bridge. 

If you scroll to the 5:30 mark, you can see a U.S. Coast Guard boat coming to the rescue, maneuvering between the Vista Queen and the Letich. 

They missed each other by about 40 yards, O'Connor said. The other sightseeing boat – the Vista Star – was farther away from the freighter. 

Vista Fleet thanked the U.S. Coast Guard in a Facebook post, saying they're "indebted" to the agency for keeping the ship clear of the freighter after a "vandal unmoored her in the middle of the night." 

The two ships were returned to the dock by about 7 a.m., O'Connor said. However, it's unclear if they sustained any damage. 

The Duluth Police Department is asking anyone with information about who set the ships loose to call police. 

O'Connor said they'll work with the county attorney's office to "get creative" on charges, which could include theft of a vehicle and disorderly conduct, among other things. 

This wasn't an easy task

O'Connor told GoMN surveillance video shows a man guiding one of the ships by hand out of the slip and into the harbor, after untying the moorings and unplugging a huge electrical cord.

He said the task would be "pretty tough" for one person, noting Justin Steinbach – the owner of Vista Fleet – says it takes three crew members to unmoor their ships. 

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