Near collision in Duluth Ship Canal

BBC Orinoco headed for the wall of the Duluth Ship Canal South Pier

BBC Orinoco after evasive maneuvers

The BBC Orinoco came uncomfortably close today to a collision with the South Pier Lighthouse. At the time, a thick fog was on the lake, and a strong current was running out of the Duluth Ship Canal. Even as the announcer from the Marine Museum was announcing the arrival of the boat, the boat itself could barely be seen in the fog.

As the ship’s bow came out of the fog at 2:00pm, the ship was headed directly for the edge of the South Pier rather than for the middle of the Canal as most ships align. The ship turned in to the Canal and away from the lighthouse and pier head at the last moment, appearing to miss by a few yards. 

BBC Orinoco in Duluth Ship Canal after narrowly missing South Pier

 The BBC Orinoco had left Thunder Bay yesterday and will load beet pulp pellets in Duluth, according to Duluth Shipping News.

The current at the mouth of the Duluth Ship Canal has been noted and feared by Great Lakes navigators for over a century. When the Mataafa collided with the piers in 1905, partial blame was placed on the currents. Lighthouses stand at the end of both the South and North piers to help ensure safe passage into the piers.

Incidentally, it appears that the fog horn located in the South Pier lighthouse was not operating at the time.


Add your thoughts, or comment via facebook

4 Responses

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Last incident I recall is a ship
    grounding on Canal park sand in about 1985 or so? It was at anchor and drifted into the beach. I hate to admit this however as I’m showing my age. Hard to steer a ship that big quickly away from the south pier! Wow!

  3. Andrew Slade says:

    You’re thinking of the Socrates, the salty that blew onto Park Point. You’re right on with the date…November 1985.Nothing quite that dramatic today.

  4. Didn’t a ship hit the north side of the canal within the past five years? I think the navigation went out as it was making the turn to go under the lift bridge if what I heard was correct.

What do you think?