Last updated: 11:30 AM ET, Thu July 02 2015

Saint Laurent Cruise Ship Hits Lock Wall in New York

Impacting Travel | Theresa Norton | June 19, 2015

Saint Laurent Cruise Ship Hits Lock Wall in New York

Crews work overnight to evacuate passengers from the Saint Laurent. (Via Twitter/Isaac McDonald/@theshipwatcher)


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UPDATE: 4:53 pm ET June 19, 2015: Evacuation is now underway.

The Saint Laurent, a small cruise ship in its inaugural season for Haimark Line, struck a wall in a lock on the Saint Lawrence Seaway in New York at about 9:15 p.m. Thursday, damaging its hull.

The U.S. Coast Guard said 27 passengers and three crew members were injured, two people seriously. However, the ship's management company, FleetPro, said 19 guests and three crew members suffered minor injuries. The passengers are mainly of French and Swiss nationality.

The Coast Guard said 274 passengers and crew were onboard the vessel when it hit the Eisenhower Lock in Massena, N.Y. The ship remained in the lock while response crews evacuated the injured.

"There is damage to the hull, but the extent of the damage is part of our ongoing investigation," said Lt. Commander Marvin Kimmel of the Coast Guard unit based in Cleveland. "We are working to assure the safety of the passengers onboard. We are looking this morning to determine whether or not the vessel is seaworthy enough to move out of the lock to a place where the passengers can exit the vessel in a safe manner."

Most of the injured people returned to the ship by morning, said Coast Guard Petty Officer Second Class Lauren Laughlin. Kimmel said uninjured passengers and crew members remained on the ship, which had power to operate onboard services.

"When the cruise ship hit the wall, it did create a hole and was taking on water," Laughlin said. "They shut the lock doors and drained out enough water so it couldn’t take on any more water. The ship is still floating and is secure."

Injured passengers were taken to Massena Memorial Hospital for treatment, but the majority of passengers remained in the ship’s lobby, the Watertown Daily Times reported. It also said an emergency room doctor from the hospital helped treat the injured on the scene, as did the ship's doctor. A volunteer fire department ladder truck responded to help evacuate the injured passengers.

The Coast Guard said the cause of the accident is under investigation. A crew aboard a 25-foot boat from Coast Guard Station Alexandria Bay, N.Y., responded along with a marine inspector from Coast Guard Marine Safety Detachment Massena.

The upscale Saint Laurent operates with up to 210 guests onboard and a crew of 90. Haimark markets the ship under its banner, but leases the vessel from FleetPro.

The 4,954-ton ship was built in 2001 as the Cape May Light and was also previously known as Sea Voyager and Clipper Voyager. It underwent a $3.5 million refurbishment before resuming sailing in May for Haimark under the Bahamian flag.

This season, the ship is scheduled to sail in New England, the Great Lakes and Maritime Canada through the fall foliage season. From late fall to early spring 2016, the Saint Laurent was set to operate in the Caribbean, Central and South America.

Two Twitter feeds, in particular -- @theshipwatcher and @SeawayNNY -- have been providing steady updates throughout the efforts to evacuate passengers.

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