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1,000-foot barge quarantines at Port Milwaukee after crew members test positive for COVID-19

Posted at 3:36 PM, Apr 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-01 23:29:49-04

MILWAUKEE — A 1,000-foot barge has quarantined at anchor at Port Milwaukee Thursday, after crew members tested positive for COVID-19.

A spokesperson for the City of Milwaukee said in a statement that the M/V Presque Isle, one of the largest ships on the Great Lakes, will remain at anchor at the city's heavy-lift dock for the duration of the quarantine.

The port will be working with the city's health department to make sure COVID-19 protocols are in place and the virus does not spread. The owner of the vessel is meanwhile following established plans for the "possibility of a viral outbreak among its crew," according to the city spokesperson.

The vessel was not scheduled to stop in Milwaukee after making a delivery in Gary, Indiana Thursday. Officials tell TMJ4 News that two crew members are hospitalized, while the rest quarantine aboard the ship.

Port officials say about half of the crew has tested positive for the virus. The cargo ship typically has 20 to 25 crewmembers.

Presque Isle
The Presque Isle out on Lake Michigan Thursday.

Port Milwaukee director Adam Schlicht says they were notified of the outbreak late Wednesday night. He says the ship will likely stay in Milwaukee until next week, after a deep cleaning and crew change.

"It would likely take a day, day and a half to clean the entirety of the vessel before the new crew can come in and she can return to service," he says.

While the owner of the vessel, the Great Lakes Fleet, declined to comment, they are reportedly using a plan created by the Lake Carriers Association last March to safely navigate such a situation.

This isn't the first time the Presque Isle has landed into trouble. Last summer, the vessel, loaded with iron ore, ran aground and hit part of a pier in the Duluth Ship Canal, the Duluth News Tribune reported then.

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