It looks like a slow-motion game of chicken between ships.
But video shows neither blinked, and the Florence Spirit and the MV Alanis collided in the Welland Canal in Ontario, Canada, on Saturday.
Navigational conditions were reported to be normal when the vessels collided at 3:55 p.m. Saturday south of Port Robinson, according to the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp. (SLSMC).
In audio accompanying the videos provided to FreightWaves by witnesses Jeremy Barton and Alex Stewart, an alarm is followed by the sounds of metal meeting metal. The only voices that can be heard are those of the astonished bystanders on shore.
The Welland Canal, which has eight locks, is a 26.7-mile-long waterway connecting lakes Erie and Ontario. Jean Aubry-Morin, vice president of external relations for the SLSMC, said the collision occurred between locks 7 and 8, “a common place to meet and pass.”
“Over the year we experience in excess of 2,800 transits in the Welland Canal and a fair number” of ships meet and pass at that same point, Aubry-Morin said. “This is a rare occurrence and the Canadian Transportation Safety Board team has initiated their investigation to answer all questions.”
The Florence Spirit is owned by McKeil Marine, headquartered in Burlington, Ontario. A 446-foot cargo ship built in 2005, the Florence Spirit was en route to Quebec City with a load of coal at the time of the collision.
The dship Carriers’ MV Alanis was bound for the Port of Duluth-Superior with a cargo of wind turbine components, according to the SLSMC.
Built in 2010, the Alanis, at about 452 feet long, is a bit bigger than the Florence Spirit. Family-owned dship Carriers was founded in 2014 and is headquartered in Hamburg, Germany. It has a North American office in Houston.
Aubry-Morin said personnel from the SLSMC’s operations control center “responded swiftly to the incident, directing both ships to proceed to wharfs, where they were secured for inspection. Officials from Transport Canada and the Transportation Safety Board, supported by marine officers from the SLSMC, attended the scene to begin the investigation process.”
Transport Canada said there were no injuries or pollution associated with the collision.
“Transport Canada marine safety officials are in contact with the vessel operators and are gathering information on the circumstances of this incident, and a Transport Canada senior marine safety inspector has boarded the vessels,” said Simon Rivet, acting media relations manager for Transport Canada.
“Transport Canada will determine if there were any violations of the Canada Shipping Act of 2001 or its regulations and/or the Pilotage Act and will take appropriate follow-up action as warranted,” Rivet said.