Freighter Ship Stuck in Detroit River Has Been Freed — Here's Why It Got Stuck

Anna Garrison - Author

Nov. 29 2023, Updated 11:16 a.m. ET

The Gist:

  • On Nov. 26, 2023, a freighter ship called Barbro G arrived in Detroit from Canada, intending to depart for Italy on Nov. 27. The ship carries over roughly 19,000 tons of wheat.
  • However, on Nov. 27, the ship was unexpectedly grounded in the Detroit River.
  • Thankfully, on Nov. 28, the ship was freed around 2 p.m. ET.
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If you remember the Suez Canal ship disaster of 2021, headlines from the Detroit River may begin to sound familiar. On Nov. 26, 2023, a freighter ship called Barbro G arrived in Detroit from Canada, intending to depart for Italy the next day. The ship was carrying an estimated 19,000 tons of wheat.

Unfortunately, Barbro G didn't quite reach its destination as the ship ran aground in the early morning of Nov. 27. There is a happy ending to the story — read on to find out more!

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A ship carrying wheat to Italy became stuck in the Detroit River on Nov. 27.

On Nov. 27, 2023, at approximately 7:37 a.m. ET, the freighter Barbro G ran aground, according to ClickOnDetroit. The ship had been docked in Belle Isle Anchorage in Detroit on the evening of Nov. 26 with intentions to leave the morning of Nov. 27.

The ship ran aground because the "bow thrusters were inoperable," and its anchor "dragged," causing it to become stuck.

Initially, small tugboats were used to free the ship but they were unsuccessful. The U.S. Coast Guard then stepped in to try to move the ship to open water. The U.S. Coast Guard Great Lakes X account (formerly known as Twitter) confirmed that officials would attempt to free the ship using tugboats at 8 a.m. on Nov. 28, 2023.

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The ship was freed from the Detroit River on Nov. 28.

On Nov. 29, 2023, the CBC confirmed that Barbro G was successfully freed by the U.S. Coast Guard around 2 p.m. ET after seeking help from a third tugboat.

Windsor Harbour Master Peter Berry also clarified that the ship was "soft aground," meaning it was stuck in mud. Berry also said the bottom of the river is "much like a dark toothpaste," and has a lot of suction, making it easier for ships to get stuck.

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This isn't the first time a freighter has become stuck in the Detroit River.

The November 2023 incident is only the most recent in a series of incidents featuring freighter ships becoming grounded in the Detroit River. Detroit News harkens to May 2023, when freighter M/V Mark W. Barker, carrying 21,000 tons of salt, became stuck in the Detroit River for four hours after running aground just feet from where the Barbro G got stuck in November.

Lt. j.g. Adeeb Ahmad told the outlet that the Coast Guard does not see connections between the two grounding incidents. "We don't believe the two separate groundings are related," Ahmad told Detroit News.

Now that Barbro G has been re-floated, the ship will get an inspection to ensure it can continue safely on its journey.

This article, originally published on Nov. 28, 2023, has been updated.

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