Chem Norma freed

Tanker Chem Norma is anchored at the side of the St. Lawrence-Seaway shipping channel June 3rd west of the Morrisburg dock. The ship was freed just before 4 p.m. June 3rd after the water levels were increased on Lake St. Lawrence. (The Leader/Blancher photo)

MORRISBURG – The Chem Norma, a tanker ship that has been stuck off-channel since Tuesday morning, was freed just before 4 p.m. Sunday.

Since Wednesday, two tugboats have been on the scene trying to pull the vessel out of the underwater canal berm it was aground on. The berm is part of the flooded remnants of Lock 23, which predates the St. Lawrence-Seaway. A third tugboat arrived on the scene June 2nd, but was unable to pull the vessel free.

Saturday night the International Joint Commission – St. Lawrence River board announced it was reducing the outflow rate at the Long Sault control dam, raising the water level of Lake St. Lawrence to assist in freeing the boat.

Once the Chem Norma was freed, the tugboats assisted moving the vessel to the edge of the shipping channel, where it is now anchored. The ship appeared to have a 10-15 degree list to the channel side at 4:30 p.m. Sunday. Previous attempt to free the ship involved redistributing the cargo to one side of the ship.

Michael Folsom, a US-based ship watcher reported via Twitter that the “Crew will work to redistribute that weight and level out the ship.”

There was some confusion on the shoreline while curious residents and visitors were looking on. Two reported hearing a “crunching” noise before the Chem Norma was anchored.

A release issued Sunday evening by the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation said, “the ship is now undergoing an inspection process, to ensure that it is ready to resume its transit.”

Officials with the IJC have said the outflows through the control dam will increase, with levels returning to where they were Saturday morning. The commission said that water levels increased by as much as 40 centimetres over the past 18 hours.

The Leader will continue to follow this story as it develops.