GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — After the S.S. Badger’s ramp system was damaged, leaders say the repairs will take several months and necessitated a temporary shutdown, but they’re confident the vessel will be running for the 2024 season.
The ramp of the S.S. Badger, which runs between Ludington and Manitowoc, Wisconsin, was created to handle the weight of loaded rail cars, according to Mark Barker, president of Interlake Maritime Services — the parent company of the company that runs the S.S. Badger, Lake Michigan Carferry.
That’s why the ramp is large: It weighs about 250 tons and has towers on both sides, Barker said in a statement Saturday.
To raise and lower the ramp, the S.S. Badger uses a system of counterweights, he said.
“It was one of those towers that unexpectedly failed and toppled into the water on July 21,” Barker said.
“The exact cause of this failure is still unknown at the time, but it was not a result of any crew action or collision,” Barker said, noting that the S.S. Badger did not sustain any damage and nobody was hurt.
He said it was lucky that when the tower failed, the S.S. Badger was at the dock and the heavy ramp was down, resting on the vessel’s stern.
According to Barker, the tower, counterweight and concrete weigh many hundreds of tons, and the repairs are “extensive” and “complicated.”
“It needs to be methodically cut apart underwater and removed before a new system can be installed,” he said in a statement.
Contractors estimated the process would take several months.
“It is that timeline that drove the difficult decision to suspend service for the remainder of the season,” Barker said.
The team in Ludington is already making progress in removing the fallen structure and getting the site ready for long-term repairs, according to Barker.
“I want to assure everyone that we are fully committed, and we are already underway making the necessary repairs to ramping systems so the Badger can come back better and stronger in 2024,” he said.