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Damaged laker Michipicoten preparing to leave Thunder Bay

The vessel's cargo of iron ore pellets has been transferred to a sister ship

THUNDER BAY — Preparations appear nearly complete for moving the damaged Great Lakes bulk carrier Michipicoten from Thunder Bay, most likely to an American shipyard.

A Port of Thunder Bay spokesperson confirms the 72-year-old vessel is expected to leave Keefer Terminal some time this week.

According to another source, the owner — Lower Lakes Towing — has arranged for the Michipicoten to go to Fraser Shipyards in Superior, Wisconsin.

TBnewswatch has been told this could happen as early as Wednesday, but local port officials aren't authorized to release details, and the company has not responded to media inquiries.

The Michipicoten suffered a four-metre-long crack in the bottom of its hull en route from Two Harbors, Minnesota to Sault Ste. Marie on June 8.

The ship's crew reported hearing a loud bang, and a preliminary investigation pointed to stress or fatigue as the possible cause of hull failure that resulted in flooding.

Shortly after the vessel limped into Thunder Bay, a local dive crew welded a temporary patch over the crack, and the remaining water was removed.

This past weekend, the owner — Lower Lakes Towing — transferred the Michipicoten's cargo of taconite pellets for Algoma Steel to a sister ship, the Manitoulin.

Both vessels are self-unloaders.

The shipyard in Thunder Bay was idled by owner Ontario Shipyards earlier this year, with the company citing market conditions and the unavailability of skilled labour.

— TBnewswatch