Great Lakes Freighter Freed From Detroit River

By Thomas F. Keefer, The Chicago Times

May 19, 2023

DETROIT – A lake freighter that was stuck in the Detroit River was freed on Thursday under the direction of the US Coast Guard.

According to the US Coast Guard Sector Detroit, the 639-foot MV Mark W. Barker, ran soft aground in the Detroit River due to an electronics malfunction and was successfully re-floated at approximately 12:10 pm on Thursday with the assistance of commercial towing.

MV Mark W. Barker. Photo: US Coast Guard Sector Detroit.

Coast Guard Sector Detroit said the freighter lost propulsion and ran soft aground near the south side of Belle Isle at 8 am on Wednesday.  They reported that there were no immediate threats to persons and advised mariners to stay clear of the area.  Throughout the grounding, the river still remained passable to traffic.  The Mark W. Barker was reported to be carrying approximately 21,000 metric tons of salt and 105,000 gallons of diesel fuel.

“We worked closely with all relevant parties to ensure the safety of our waterways and the prompt resolution of this incident,” said Lt. j.g. Adeeb Ahmad, Sector Detroit’s public affairs officer. “The successful re-floating of the Mark W. Barker highlights our commitment to maintaining the safety and continuity of our maritime transportation system.”

The Coast Guard reportedly worked closely with the Interlake Steamship Company, owner of the freighter, as well as the Canadian Coast Guard to re-float the vessel.  The ship was later towed to the Belle Isle anchorage, where Coast Guard investigators will investigate damage and ensure repairs are made before the freighter continues its transit.

The Mark W. Barker was launched in the spring of 2022 and underwent sea trials in June and July of that year.  Christened on September 1, 2022, she was also the first American-built lake freighter since 1983.  Her maiden voyage was to Port Inland, Michigan to load stone for transit to Muskegon, Michigan.  The Mark W. Barker is powered by two 8,000-horsepower, 16-cylinder Electro-Motive Diesel engines.