MASSENA, N.Y. – A cruise ship taking European tourists to Ontario, Canada, crashed into a wall while entering a lock on the St. Lawrence Seaway in northern New York, injuring 19 passengers and three crew members, officials said Friday.
The U.S. Coast Guard said the 286-foot Saint Laurent was headed from Montreal to Toronto when it hit a wall in the Eisenhower Lock in Massena, near the Canadian border, shortly after 9 p.m. Thursday. There were 273 people on board, including 81 crew members and 192 passengers who are mainly French and Swiss nationals.
The ship's operator, Miami-based FleetPro, said 19 passengers and three crew members were treated at Massena Memorial Hospital and released. The company said all the injuries were minor.
The Saint Laurent was entering the lock when it struck an approach wall bumper, according to Petty Officer 2nd Class Lauren Laughlin of the Coast Guard's Cleveland-based Ninth District, which covers the St. Lawrence River and the seaway. The impact punched a hole in the ship's hull, causing it to take on water, she said.
The lock's doors were closed and the water drained out so the boat wouldn't sink, Laughlin said. A salvage crew and Coast Guard team were assessing the damage Friday to determine how best to move the vessel, she said.
The Washington, D.C.-based Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corp. said the ship is stable and the uninjured passengers remained on board overnight. The agency that operates the international shipping route said seven commercial vessels are backed up in the seaway because of the accident. There was no immediate estimate on when the lock would reopen.
FleetPro, formerly International Shipping Partners, said all shipboard services are fully functional for passengers. The company said the ship was a day into a 10-day roundtrip excursion out of Montreal, with stops in between, when the accident occurred.
The passengers were disembarking the ship at the lock Friday afternoon and put on buses that would take them back to Montreal. The company said it didn't know yet if the trip to Toronto would be resumed.
The Saint Laurent is owned by Nassau, Bahamas-based Adventurer Owner Ltd.
The crash remains under investigation.