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Current Pushes Freighter Against Bridge

September 25, 1986

BAY CITY, Mich. (AP) _ A Great Lakes freighter remained stuck in the Saginaw River today after three tug boats failed to free it, the Coast Guard said.

A strong current caused by high water levels pushed the 600-foot Joseph Frantz off course Wednesday and into a drawbridge, where it lodged, said Coast Guard Petty Officer Todd Babbitt.

The accident halted most river traffic, except for small boats, Petty Officer George Stuart said today. One boat was waiting for the freighter to move, while others took alternate routes, he said.

The freighter was traveling from Saginaw Bay on Lake Huron to the Wirt Stone Dock in Bay City when the accident occurred Wednesday morning, Babbitt said.

Three tug boats tried to free the freighter by pulling at its bow and stern, engineer Chris Dougherty said.

A barge arrived Wednesday night to lighten the ship by unloading its cargo of rock and gravel, said Seaman Dean Branstein.

There were no injuries and the vessel was undamaged, Babbitt said.

The bridge was stuck open, and Babbitt said officials would not know if it was damaged until it is closed. The vessel damaged a cluster of wooden pilings near the base of the bridge.

Babbitt did not know the owner of the ship, the name of the captain or the vessel’s origin.

The Saginaw River was above its normal level due to recent heavy rainfall, Babbitt said.

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