Earlier this week, I made one last visit to Sturgeon Bay before I head off to college. There wasn’t a whole lot of activity at the shipyard, but I photographed what was there anyway.
The most activity at Bay Shipbuilding was occurring in drydock, where the US Coast Guard heavy icebreaker Mackinaw was on the blocks while a new vessel was taking shape behind her.
I’m not exactly sure what the Mackinaw was in for – I’m guessing her five year and some regular maintenance work, but I could be wrong.
Behind the cutter is Bay Shipbuilding’s newest construction – the hull of the new barge Michigan Trader is slowly being pieced together.
Although I’ve seen Mackinaw before, I can’t remember the last time I photographed her, so even though these shots aren’t ideal, they’re better than nothing.
The 240′ cutter, constructed in 2004 to replace the previous Mackinaw (now open to the public as a museum in Mackinaw City, Michigan), is one of the most advanced in the USCG fleet, and is the largest stationed on the Great Lakes.
She is propelled by twin azipod thrusters, which are capable of rotating 360 degrees to direct thrust in any direction. Coupled with her 550 horsepower bow thruster, the ship is incredibly maneuverable.
The large gray mass you see here is the hull of Michigan Trader, a 740′ self-unloading barge being constructed for VanEnkevort that will be delivered next year.
Here you can see the struts supporting the vessel’s spar deck, with her cargo hold being the large open space below.
In the next slip over, the barge St. Marys Conquest was tied up.
Operated by Port City Marine Services, the powdered cement hauler was recently drydocked and repainted at the shipyard, and is now awaiting pickup.
Unfortunately for Port City Marine, the completed conversion of the barge Commander last season meant that the fleet had three barges, but only two tugs to push them.
As a result, the tugs Bradshaw McKee and Prentiss Brown rotate between pushing Commander, St. Marys Challenger, and St. Marys Conquest. So basically, one barge is always stationary at a time.
Commander is the largest of the three barges and can only be pushed by Bradshaw McKee, so the Conquest and Challenger are rotated in and out of service depending on routes and contracts.
Even though Conquest‘s hull work was finished a few weeks ago, Prentiss Brown hasn’t yet had the chance to come pick up the barge, meaning it will continue to sit at the yard until the Challenger is given a temporary break.
Meanwhile, we worked our way down the freshly painted hull of the barge towards her stern.
The vessel’s notch is an interesting one – the piece extending down into the water from the stern resembles a fin, and is there to maintain stabilization and a connection point between the barge and tug.
The barge is not fitted with a coupling system like many new barges are, meaning that the only connection between Conquest and Prentiss Brown are ropes and cables tied between the pair.
It could be a few days or a few weeks before St. Marys Conquest will be picked up, so until then, she’ll continue to sit in limbo at the shipyard.
The other item of interest I wanted to photograph was the self-unloading boom of the former American Victory. After being removed from the classic steamer, the boom sat at Fraser Shipyard in Superior for a year before being brought by barge to Sturgeon Bay earlier this summer.
Although currently a home for seagulls (and their droppings), the boom will be refurbished and eventually placed on the deck of the new vessel that will be constructed for Interlake in the next few years.
My last target of the trip was the USCG Katmai Bay, a smaller 140′ icebreaking tug. She was docked downtown near the Oregon Street Bridge and was open to the public for tours.
Normally based in Sault Ste. Marie, I’m not sure why the vessel was in Sturgeon Bay, or if she’ll be staying or returning to her home port in the near future.
The cutter normally based in Sturgeon Bay, Mobile Bay, is currently on the East Coast undergoing a major refit and maintenance work as part of the Coast Guard’s fleet modernization effort.
The colorful markings below the port pilothouse window are the service ribbons Katmai Bay has earned since she was commissioned in 1979.
I’m not sure what each of the many flags flying on the vessel represent, however according to a USCG officer, they are all various symbols within the Coast Guard.
I’ll end with this final shot, taken from open Lake Michigan – the ship canal and USCG station can be seen just to the right of this buoy.
That was all from Sturgeon Bay, and the last photos you’ll get from me for a while. This weekend, I’ll travel to Traverse City to begin my college career at the Great Lakes Maritime Academy. But don’t worry, this won’t be the end of Freighter Freak – I’ll still update the blog with Great Lakes news and events when I can, and of course I’ll share any photos I do manage to take. But in the meantime, it’s been so exciting for me to watch this blog grow, and I hope that trend continues even during the coming periods of inactivity. So thanks for sticking with me and I hope you’ve enjoyed reading, because the real adventures have yet to come.