Great Lakes Freighter Catches Fire on Lake Erie

By Thomas F. Keefer, The Chicago Times

May 25, 2023

LAKE ERIE – A fire broke out Tuesday night on a lake freighter off the western shores of Lake Erie.

According to the US Coast Guard, an engine-room fire broke out on the Canadian owned MV Cuyahoga around 10 pm Tuesday off the Canadian coast near Pelee Island.  The fire was reported to be contained to the engine room.  Eight crew members were removed for safety Wednesday morning, by the Canadian Coast Guard vessel Cape Dundas, while 12 remained aboard to monitor the situation.

MV Cuyahoga of Pelee Island. Photo: US Coast Guard, Twitter.

It was reported that two US Coast Guard vessels from the Marblehead station (Atlantic Area), two civilian freighters, and two Canadian Coast Guard vessels rendered aid to the stricken Cuyahoga.  According to, the Cuyahoga was launched in 1943 as the J. Burton Ayers and later sold to the Canadian owned Lower Lakes Towing Ltd and was re-christened the Cuyahoga.  As of today, the Cuyahoga is the second oldest vessel in the Canadian fleet.

Lake freighters generally carry loads of rock, ore, salt, or grain throughout the Great Lakes region and generally operate from Spring to late Fall.  The Cuyahoga engine fire comes nearly one week after the grounding of the lake freighter MV Mark W. Barker in the Detroit River.

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.

Coast Guard Conducts Exercise on Beaver Island April 28-29

By Paul J. Jones, The Chicago Times

April 28, 2023

CHARLEVOIX, MI – The US Coast Guard Sector Sault Ste. Marie and local agencies announced Wednesday that they will be conducting an emergency response training exercise in Charlevoix and Beaver Island April 28 and 29.

The Coast Guard said local residents might see increased emergency response activities as multiple agencies, led by Coast Guard Sector Sault Ste. Marie, will be testing response and law enforcement capabilities.

The operation, titled Maritime Resolve, will combine multiple Coast Guard units, Charlevoix Emergency Management, the Charlevoix County Sheriff’s Office, Michigan State Police, the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, and other government and civil emergency response agencies in Northern Michigan to confirm and test response capabilities.