Freight ship stuck in the Elizabeth River

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) – A 590-foot freight ship ran aground in the Elizabeth River near the Naval Medical Center in Portsmouth Wednesday night, according to a U.S. Coast Guard spokesperson.

The Coast Guard told that crew members were contacted by a pilot on the Hanze Goteborg, a Netherlands-flagged freighter carrying soy beans, around 10:30 p.m. No injuries, pollution or damage were reported.

Around 11:45 p.m., a crew on a 45-foot Response Boat – Medium arrived and found “though the waterway was partially obstructed, it was still open to vessel traffic.”

Commander Kevin Carroll with the Coast Guard said the ship had a mechanical issue that forced it out of the channel: “They were leaving the southern branch of the Elizabeth River, they were coming just over here by Town Point Reach.  Right about Buoy 13, that’s when they had a loss of steering.”

Losing steering forced the ship into water almost 10 feet too shallow. Carroll said a local harbor pilot helped keep things in control.

“Having the Virginia state pilot on board is actually very critical in that he understands the port and he’s able to take quick effective action when there are obviously unplanned mechanical problems,” Carroll said.

The Coast Guard decided to wait for a higher tide around 5 a.m. and requested tugboats hold the ship in place until then. Three tugboats were able to free the ship around 6:45 a.m. and it was escorted to Lambert’s Point.

Dive teams were inspecting the ship for any problems while it was docked at Lambert’s Point. The ship was headed to Russia when it ran aground.

To see WAVY’s Erin Kelly walk through what happened, using a special website that tracks all sorts of vessels in our area, click here.

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