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From the Victora Times, Canada -

VANCOUVER - A freighter loaded with grain ran aground Monday just off Vancouver's Stanley Park, blocking shipping traffic and snarling vehicle traffic as drivers gawked from the Lions Gate Bridge high above.

The Malta-registered Krateros hit bottom at about 4:45 p.m.

"It suffered a major malfunction, causing it to go aground," said Vancouver Port Authority spokeswoman Grace Battiston. "We don't know if it's mechanical, or if it was the rudder that caused it to go aground."

Three members of the Vancouver branch of the World Ship Society happened to be on the Lions Gate Bridge photographing vessels leaving Vancouver's Burrard Inlet.

"She was coming down the channel here, and just off Vancouver wharves, she lost her steering," said amateur photographer Robert Etchell. "When a ship is turning in mid-channel, you can tell something's wrong. She started to go off course and she drifted toward the shore."

As the Krateros headed nose-first toward the Stanley Park seawall, it dropped its anchors.

"You could hear her anchors dragging," said photographer Frank Bolla. "There was a splash when she hit."

The port authority contacted local tugboat operators to assist with the situation.

A Coast Guard patrol boat and hovercraft attended the scene until it was determined there were no injuries and the environment wasn't damaged.

Five tugboats spent more than two hours pushing and pulling the 186-metre-long vessel, which was built in 1992 in a Japanese shipyard.

The spectacle drew a crowd on the seawall, as walkers, joggers, cyclists and in-line skaters stopped to watch.

"This is really cool," said Heather Osler, 27, who just moved to Vancouver from Toronto, and had been in-line skating with her cousin Christina Osler, also a recent arrival from Toronto.

"You tend not to see this inside the Toronto harbour," said Christina, 32.

The operation was visible from the Lions Gate Bridge, and commuters slowed down and craned their necks to see it, causing a massive traffic jam.

A rising tide, which was to peak at 7:38 p.m., aided the tugboat crews, who finally freed the ship at about 7 p.m.

The Krateros' hull did not appear to have been penetrated, said port authority vice-president of operations Chris Badger, adding it was not known Monday night what the vessel hit. The federal Transportation Safety Board has started an investigation to determine the cause of the accident.

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