A freighter ship longer than two football fields collided with something underwater in Lake Superior Saturday morning and began taking on water, the U.S. Coast Guard says.

The Coast Guard Great Lakes district said the Michipicoten, a 689-ft ship, collided with something around 6:53 a.m. and started taking on water approximately 35 miles southwest of Isle Royale, which is part of the state of Michigan.

“#USCG received report at 6:53 a.m. from 689’ M/V MICHIPICOTEN w/ 22 POB, that they allided with something underwater and are taking on water, approx. 35 miles SW of #IsleRoyale #LakeSuperior,” USCG Great Lakes posted Saturday morning.

“The ship was carrying taconite, which is a low-grade iron ore, and had 22 people aboard,” the Associated Press noted.

From the Associated Press:

Water pumps onboard began displacing water, authorities said, and there were no signs that anything spilled from the ship. By 9:15 a.m., water pumps had reduced the listing of the freighter from 15 degrees to 5 degrees, the Coast Guard said.

Helicopter and boat crews were responding, the Coast Guard said.

Around 12:30 p. m. the Coast Guard said half of the people on board had been evacuated from the vessel for safety. The ship was on its way to a port for inspection and repairs.

Authorities say the cause of the collision will be investigated.

The collision occurred in the northwest part of the lake, which straddles the U.S.-Canadian border and is the largest freshwater lake in the world by surface area.

“The vessel is currently carrying taconite. There are pumps onboard to displace some water entering spaces and there are currently no signs of spillage,” USCG Great Lakes said.

“Pumps operating onboard M/V MICHIPICOTEN have reduced the listing of the vessel from the initial reported 15 degrees to 5 degrees,” it continued.

“Half of the 22-person crew has been removed from the MICHIPICOTEN for safety,” it added.

“The bulk carrier Edwin H. Gott is currently alongside the Michipicoten, and U.S. Coast Guard, Border Patrol, and National Park Service vessels remain actively involved,” the U.S. Coast Guard stated in a press release.

StarTribune reports:

According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, such ships sail to Indiana, Ohio and other steel-making areas around the Great Lakes where the taconite is melted into steel.

None of the taconite on board the Michipicoten was believed to have spilled so far.

Isle Royale is about 20 miles east of Grand Portage, Minn., just south of the Canadian border. It’s not immediately clear whether the ship is in Minnesota or Michigan waters.

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