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Cargo ship aground at Muskegon Harbor entrance 'refloated,' to remain overnight

Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News

A commercial bulk carrier that ran aground at the entrance of the Muskegon Channel is closer to moving ahead, U.S. Coast Guard officials said Friday.

The 750-foot-long vessel, the Kaye E. Barker, ran aground on a sand bar at the channel's entrance late Thursday evening, the U.S. Coast Guard Sector Lake Michigan said. The ship was heading inbound toward Muskegon with a load of stone aggregate.

A NOAA webcam shows the M/V Kaye E. Barker aground in the Muskegon channel entrance, Friday, April 29, 2022.

The agency and the Marine Safety Detachment Grand Haven had been working with the ship's owner, local salvage organizations and the vessel's crew to free the stranded boat.

They said work Friday was aimed at transferring cargo to another vessel to free it from the sand bar.

By 5:30 p.m. Friday, the ship had been "refloated" thanks to a lightened load, the Coast Guard said on Twitter.

"It is no longer aground. However, there is some concern about whether it’s light enough to make port," said Lt. Phillip Gurtler, public affairs officer for the Coast Guard sector.

The ship was expected to remain anchored overnight with plans to have additional cargo moved Saturday, Gurtler said.

No injuries have been reported and initial inspections indicated no pollution, officials said.

Meanwhile, the coast guard continues to investigate the cause of the ship's grounding. 

The shipping company that owns the vessel, the Interlake Shipping Company, said in a statement on its Facebook page that the ship ran aground at about 8:30 p.m. Thursday as it was approaching the harbor. 

The company is based in Middleburg Heights, Ohio. According to its website, the Kaye E. Barker was built in Toledo in 1952 and can carry about 26,000 gross tons of cargo.

"The vessel is loaded with approximately 25,000 net tons of stone from Port Inland," it said. "When making the approach, the ship was positioned in the center of the channel and was traveling at a slow speed before the incident."

It also said a survey of the lake bottom confirmed there is sand around the vessel.

"No injuries have been reported," it said. "There has been no pollution or any harm to the environment. Additionally, there does not appear to be any damage to the vessel.

"Interlake is working diligently with the United States Coast Guard and developing a plan to free the vessel from the sandbar to get back underway."

A closer look at the Kaye E. Barker.