Officials investigate how tanker ship got stuck in St. Lawrence River

CAPE VINCENT — The investigation into the running aground of the tanker Chem Norma near Morrisburg, Ontario, and Waddington has, as yet, yielded no answers.

“Control relays and stuff like that are going to be sent to our lab in Ottawa to get the technical expertise to find out what caused the steering-gear failure,” said Francois Dumont, regional senior investigator for the Transport Safety Board of Canada.

Dumont said that there were no signs as to what could have caused the failure, therefore prompting further analysis.

The ship was freed over a week ago but faced more technical difficulties only days later, this time caused by its running aground into the clay bottom of the St. Lawrence River, according to Dumont.

The boat was aided to Tibbets Point in Cape Vincent by tug boats. Since then, Dumont and other investigators have interviewed the crew and collected data on the ship, which is the first phase in a three-phase process: field phase, examination and analysis phase and report phase, according to the safety board website.

The rudder of the ship was damaged and bent at some point during the freeing of the boat, but nothing else was seriously damaged.

“There was no damage to the hull bottom except for a few dents,” Dumont said.

The ship became stuck at 4:09 a.m. on May 29. Over the following five days, three tug boats were sent to help pull the boat back into the channel.

Late on June 2, the International Joint Commission took the step of slowing outflow on the river to temporarily raise water levels, and then just before 4 p.m. the ship was yanked from the grip of the St. Lawrence River bottom.

The Chem Norma is a double-hulled tanker and is transporting a refined petroleum product. It was confirmed by multiple government agencies that no pollution occurred during the incident.

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