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TSB investigating  two-vessel collision in Welland Canal

Florence Spirit and Alanis moments after the collision (courtesy of Jeremy Barton)

The Transportation Safety Board (TSB) has sent investigators on site following a rare head-on collision Saturday between two cargo vessels in the Welland Canal section of the St. Lawrence Seaway. There  was no interruption to Seaway traffic or reported injuries or fuel spills causing environmental damage. The TSB confirmed on Sunday (July 12) it was deploying a team of investigators to “gather information and assess the occurrence.”

The accident occurred near Port Robinson around 4 pm Saturday during what should have normally been a routine passing manoeuvre. It involved the Canadian-flag Florence Spirit, a gearless bulker owned by McKeil Marine which was carrying coal on its way to Québec City, and the MV Alanis, a multi-purpose vessel managed by Hamburg-based dship Carriers GmBh which was carrying windmill parts to Duluth, Minnesota.

Videos shared on social media showed the two vessels suddenly colliding head-on, inflicting damages to their bows.

Both vessels were able to move afterwards to safe locations. The MV Alanis docked at Port Colborne while the Florence Spirit berthed at Thorold.

Jean-Aubry-Morin, VP External Relations for the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation, told CBC News the accident site was in fact “a preferred location for passing because there is plenty of space, speed is limited and it’s typically a safe area for passage.”