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The Rt. Hon. Paul J. Martin, a 740-foot vessel loaded with iron ore and ships fuel, is freed from its grounding Saturday morning in the St. Lawrence River. Christopher Lenney/Watertown Daily Times

CARDINAL, ONTARIO — Nearly seven days in a St. Lawrence Seaway rut, The Rt. Hon. Paul J. Martin, a 740-foot vessel loaded with iron ore and ships fuel, was freed from its grounding Saturday morning.

The news, which came from veteran ship watcher Michael Folsom in a Tweet about 9:20 a.m. Saturday which read “There it is... free at last and sitting in the channel,” followed days of planning and work to free the ship which was on its way to Quebec City.

Mr. Folsom told the Times the ship was freed at about 9:15 a.m. and five tug boats were used in the effort with three large Ocean Group tugs “doing the heavy work.” The ship was then guided by tug boats “downbound” after being freed.

The tugs, Ocean Echo and the Ocean Comeau, were used in the freeing efforts.

The Unified Command overseeing the ship, which was stuck just off Galop Island, approved a salvage plan which included the removal of an estimated 5,000 metric tons of iron ore from the vessel onto awaiting barges to lighten the vessel, according to Ensign Josoph Neff of the United States Coast Guard.

The Seaway in the vicinity of Galop Island was closed to all vessel traffic during salvage operations.

The United States Coast Guard reported the ship stable and that there were no injuries or environmental damage associated with the grounding.

The Coast Guard initially reported that the vessel was taking on water at a slow rate, but installed pumps are keeping up with the leaks and that no fuel or cargo tanks have been breached.

It is still not known what resulted in the ships running aground.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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