Ship traffic on parts of the St. Lawrence Seaway was halted on Friday after an oil tanker ran aground near Morrisburg, Ont.
There were no injuries or spills when the Damia Desgagnés struck the tip of Ogden Island after its propulsion system failed early on Friday, said Serge Le Guellec, president of Quebec-based shipowner Transport Desgagnés Inc.
Mr. Le Guellec said the ship's propulsion system failed as it was sailing west toward the locks at Iroquois, Ont. "At that point in time, the bridge team used all the steering equipment that was available, but the event was so sudden and so fast that the ship veered to the starboard side and grounded," he said by phone.
"Thankfully no one was injured and there was no spillage."
A spokesman for the federal Transportation Safety Board said three investigators were on their way to the site on Friday afternoon.
Freighters sailing the St. Lawrence Seaway are under speed and passing restrictions because of unusually strong currents as a result of higher outflows from Lake Ontario. The dams that control the water moving toward Montreal are releasing larger volumes in order to reduce upstream levels that have caused widespread flooding on the shorelines of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River.
Mr. Le Guellec and Andrew Bogora, a spokesman for the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp., said the stronger currents played no role in the incident.
Wallace James, a ship captain who works for Algoma Central Corp., told The Globe and Mail this week the stronger currents have made it more difficult to guide ships into locks.
Mr. Bogora said the seaway sees a "handful" of similar incidents every year and normally allows ships to pass by a grounded vessel if it is to the side of the shipping lane. "However, given the higher [water] flow rates we are suspending [traffic] as an added margin of safety," Mr. Bogora said.
Ships are expected to resume sailing on Saturday, once the grounded vessel is moved by two tugboats.
The ship was carrying vacuum gas oil, a heavy petroleum product, on its way to Lake Erie.
About nine freighters a day travel the stretch between Lake Ontario and Montreal.