First Vessels arrive Duluth for Layup

Just after sunrise on the morning of January 9, Interlake’s Kaye E. Barker made her way into Duluth to lay up at Fraser Shipyards, becoming the first vessel to arrive there for the winter of 2017-18. Later that day, her fleetmate James R. Barker arrived, and after stopping for fuel at the Husky Energy (formerly Calumet fuel) dock, she backed through the harbor to Midwest Energy, which will serve as her home for the next few months. The following day, Lee A. Tregurtha arrived, and joined Kaye E. Barker at Fraser Shipyards. As of now, no further information is available regarding other vessels that will spend the winter in Duluth, however I will update as vessels arrive!

Since mid-December, the barge James L. Kuber and tug Victory, Paul R. Tregurtha, and Robert S. Pierson have all arrived in Sturgeon Bay for the winter. Interlake’s Mesabi Miner and Stewart J. Cort are expected soon, as are Cason J. Callaway, John G. Munson, and Joseph L. Block. The rapid buildup of ice in the St. Marys River and other parts of the Lakes has prevented traffic from moving much, and many vessels are behind schedule for their last loads of the season.


A Smoky Arrival

This past weekend, I traveled up to Duluth for the first time in over a year, and was able to get some amazing shots because of the freezing temperatures! It never breached zero all weekend, with most days around -10 to -15 degrees. Unfortunately, due to the weather and constantly changing schedules, I was only able to see one vessel arrive through the ship canal.


The sub-zero temperatures, combined with the much warmer water, creates a thick fog-like substance known as sea smoke. There wasn’t a point in the weekend where sea smoke was absent, and it made for some excellent yet somewhat ominous shots of the inbound ship.


The vessel in question is Mesabi Miner, a 1,004 foot vessel owned by the Interlake Steamship Company.


The ship had been sitting at anchor outside the Duluth harbor for a few days, and was arriving on Sunday to refuel at the Calumet fuel dock.


Those keeping up with current vessel positions know that a small party of at least six or seven ships are currently sitting at anchor outside the Duluth harbor, some waiting to load at Burlington Northern in Superior and some waiting for Two Harbors.


The Miner is on the western end of Lake Superior to pick up a load of iron ore pellets from Burlington Northern, however she, like the other anchored ships, has a long wait ahead of her due to the loading delays that come along with the weather.


The ship’s ice-coated bow silently pushed the ice out of her path as she made her way toward the harbor.


To my surprise, the Miner‘s horn was in good working condition when she saluted the bridge – at this time of year, most ships’ horns are frozen over.


Notice Mesabi Miner‘s rather wide stack – she spent last winter in Sturgeon Bay, where, like many fleetmates before her, she was outfitted with exhaust gas scrubbers to reduce emissions. The extra equipment necessitated the reduction of stacks from two to one.


After the Miner‘s arrival, we headed into the visitor’s center to warm up. I grabbed this shot while there, focusing on the top of the Canal Park tug Bayfield‘s mast. In the background but not in focus are Algoma Equinox, G3 Marquis, and Whitefish Bay.


Later in the afternoon, the sea smoke cleared enough to allow me to shoot the party of vessels sitting outside the harbor. St. Clair, shown here, had arrived Duluth earlier in the day, fueled, and departed, dropping anchor to wait her turn to load in Superior. I had been planning on seeing her arrival, but of course her schedule changed too quickly for me to keep up with.


Anchored nearby was her fleetmate Walter J. McCarthy Jr. The McCarthy was waiting to load in Two Harbors, and arrived there on Monday to pick up her cargo.


To the right of St. Clair are Whitefish Bay and G3 Marquis.


This was the closest shot I could get of the two vessels, which were on the hook closer to the Superior entry.


The final two ships in the party were Algoma Equinox (foreground) and Algoma Discovery.


I then headed up to Two Harbors, where the Erie Trader and her tug Clyde S. VanEnkevort were loading ore.


Up until last year (feels weird saying that now, doesn’t it?), the pair were operated by American Steamship, however their charter came to an end and the vessels were purchased by VanEnkevort.


Just before leaving the breakwall, I grabbed a shot of the sun setting over Lake Superior. The temperature was close to -20, and there was a stiff breeze blowing as well, but the results of the trip were well worth it!

That was all from my latest Duluth trip. I hope to make it up at some point during the winter to photograph the winter layup fleet, but until then, hopefully these photos will hold you over.

And last but certainly not least, I would like to sincerely wish all of my readers a very happy New Year and extend my thanks to you for your continued support! I cannot wait for the adventures 2018 will bring, and I look forward to sharing many more photos with you.

Algoma Central purchases Four Vessels from American Steamship

Algoma Central, the operator of the largest Canadian fleet of Great Lakes vessels, has announced that it has acquired four ships from the American Steamship Company. Three of those vessels – American Valor, American Victory, and Adam E. Cornelius – are currently in long-term layup, while the fourth, Buffalo, has been in active service for the company. Late last week, Buffalo arrived in Sarnia, Ontario, and is currently moored at the Government Dock with her ballast water pumped out. It is unclear whether Algoma will continue to sail her for the remainder of the 2017 shipping season or lay her up in Sarnia. Adam E. Cornelius is currently tied up in Huron, Ohio, and has sat out the last three seasons. American Victory is laid up at Elevator M in Superior, Wisconsin, and the Valor is docked in Toledo, Ohio. Neither of those vessels have seen service since 2008.

According to the company’s announcement: “The availability of these vessels presented an opportunity to expand Algoma’s vessel fleet and capacity at extremely attractive values. Both the Buffalo and Adam E. Cornelius will provide efficient capacity to serve customers in the river-class segment of Algoma’s Domestic Dry Bulk market. Both ships will complement the Company’s existing fleet to ship salt, aggregates, and other commodities. These additions enhance Algoma’s versatility in offering its customers different cargo sizes and vessel configurations to meet their specific needs.” In regard to the Victory and Valor, Algoma is keeping its options open and has not yet made a definitive plan for either ship. Because both vessels are still steamers, there is the possibility that they may be re-powered as motor vessels, or converted into articulated tug-barge units.

Algoma has not yet announced potential names for any of the vessels, and it is presumed that the three currently in layup will be towed and/or sailed to Canadian ports in the spring. I will be heading to Duluth this coming weekend, as it has been well over a year since my last visit, and I hope to be able to photograph the Victory laid up for potentially the last time. Stay tuned for updates on this sale!

Winter Updates!

First off, I apologize for not posting much as of late – there hasn’t been a whole lot to report on until just recently! But here is the latest on the shipping front.

In Sturgeon Bay, Roger Blough arrived last Thursday, December 14, becoming the second vessel to lay up there for the coming winter. Wilfred Sykes was the first, however she laid up before Thanksgiving. The Blough entered the graving dock to receive her 5-year Coast Guard inspection. Also laid up is American Courage, however she has not seen service in either of the past two seasons. So as of now, there are three vessels laid up for the winter of 2017-18, with plenty more expected in the coming weeks as the shipping season winds down.

On Monday in Duluth, Wagenborg’s Beatrix arrived to load wheat at CHS 2, becoming the last saltie to arrive for the 2017 season. With the closing of the St. Lawrence Seaway looming on New Year’s Eve, she will be quickly making her way for Montreal after she completes loading. Her fleetmate Finnborg is also in Duluth loading, and should depart by Tuesday for Montreal.

At the Uljanik d.d. shipyard over in Croatia, Algoma Central has announced that it has taken delivery of it’s newest Equinox vessel, Algoma Innovator. She is one of two vessels being built as a variation of the original Equinox design, with an overall length of 650 feet and a forward-mounted self-unloading boom. Although the Innovator is complete, she won’t depart for the Lakes until February, when conditions on the Atlantic Ocean are more favorable for the transit of a lake vessel. She is expected to arrive in time for the start of the 2018 shipping season in March. Her sister ship, Algoma Endurance, is nearing completion at the shipyard, and should be ready for service in mid-2018.


Algoma Innovator, with her name not yet painted on the hull, is shown here underway in Croatia. (Courtesy of ShipSpotting)


Another photo of Algoma Innovator. (Courtesy of VesselFinder)


This photo shows her sister ship, Algoma Endurance, under construction at the shipyard. (Courtesy of ShipSpotting)


Shown here at her builder’s yard in China is Algoma Niagara, which arrived on the Lakes earlier this fall and promptly entered service as the newest member of Algoma’s Equinox class. (Courtesy of World Maritime News)


Algoma Niagara is the fifth vessel in the Equinox class, and is the first to have a self-unloading boom. The other four vessels in the class thus far, Algoma Equinox, Algoma Harvester, G3 Marquis, and Algoma Strongfield, are all straight deck bulk carriers. Aside from the two 650-foot vessels being built in Croatia, at least one more sister to the Niagara is confirmed to be under construction, with the possibility of more in the future. (Photo courtesy of ShipSpotting)

Fire causes Extensive Damage at Midwest Energy in Superior

Early Saturday morning, the Midwest Energy coal terminal in Superior, Wisconsin suffered a fire in its coal transportation belt system. The following article was posted to regarding the incident:

“An early morning fire at Midwest Energy in Superior Saturday caused extensive damage. The Superior Fire Department responded to reports of a fire at 2400 Winter Street around 5:30 a.m. Saturday, according to a press release from Battalion Chief Scott Gordon.

Firefighters located the fire in the belt system that transports coal 100 feet in the air, and the fire had traveled down that system to approximately 50 feet below ground where it was extinguished by 7:30 a.m., the report noted. The belt was not in operation when the fire was reported.

Gold Cross Ambulance also responded to the scene, but no injuries were reported.

According to the Superior Fire Department, the cause of the fire is under investigation and estimated damages are between $500,000 and $1 million. Gordon reported that Midwest employees estimate it will take at least one week to repair the system to allow trains to enter the facility and drop off coal. As of now, all incoming trains have been diverted to alternate locations, but Gordon stressed that Midwest Energy is still operational in loading ships with coal, since that system was not affected by the fire.”

Paul H. Townsend to be scrapped

The cement carrier Paul H. Townsend, owned by Inland Lakes Management, was towed out of Muskegon, MI today by the tug Barbara Andrie en route to Port Colborne, Ontario, where she will be scrapped. The vessel has not sailed since 2005, and has been used as a cement storage vessel in recent years.

The Townsend was built in 1945 as Coastal Delegate for service in World War II, and was originally built with her accommodations and pilothouse at the stern. She only operated on the ocean for a few years, and was sold and brought onto the lakes in 1951. She sat out most of the 1952 season while being converted to a self-unloading cement carrier, and was given her current name upon completion of the conversion in early 1953. During the winter of 1957/58, the Townsend was lengthened to 447 feet and rebuilt, which included the addition of a new forward-mounted pilothouse. She has operated on the lakes with a mostly uneventful career, and laid up for the final time on December 15, 2005. The vessel has been used as for cement storage on multiple occasions, however none of them recently.

Besides Paul H. Townsend, Inland Lakes Management owns three other vessels, two of which are in long-term layup. The classic steamer Alpena, a favorite among boatwatchers, is still in active service. J.A.W. Iglehart is laid up in Duluth, and is used as a storage and transfer vessel, and S.T. Crapo sits idle in Green Bay, Wisconsin, at a remote dock on the Fox River. Neither of these vessels are likely to see active service in the future, and will most likely be sent for the boneyard in the coming years.


This photo shows the Townsend‘s christening ceremony in 1953, just after her conversion to a cement carrier.


Here, the vessel loads in Detroit in 2005, in what would prove to be her last season of operation.


This has been the Townsend‘s layup dock in Muskegon since 2005 – the photo was taken in 2009. (All photos above courtesy of

Engineer’s Day 2017, Part II

Today will be my final post from my Engineer’s Weekend trip. In yesterday’s post, I left off with the tug W. I. Scott Purvis at Essar Steel.


Our next stop after the Essar Steel plant was the Essar export dock, where the saltie Federal Columbia was moored.


The ship’s four deck cranes, which have a lifting capacity of 35 tons apiece, were actively loading the vessel as we maneuvered around her – here, you can see one crane lifting a large container into her cargo hold.


Federal Columbia is one of FedNav’s newer vessels – she was just constructed last year, and visited the Lakes late in the 2016 season before the closing of the Seaway.


Here, you can see her unique bow, which is designed to increase the vessel’s efficiency.


After taking on a partial load here, Federal Columbia would depart and head for Duluth to top off her holds with wheat.


We spent plenty of time maneuvering around the vessel, giving everyone aboard the Le Voyageur plenty of photo opportunities.


We then headed a little further upriver for wider shots, and to meet the next vessel in the river.


HHL Amur was slowly making her way down the river and towards the locks.


The 2007-built vessel is a frequent visitor on the Lakes, and has made several trips to Lake Superior in the past few years.


Here’s a close-up of her bow – notice how her name is written at an angle to convey an image of speed.


The ship’s owners, Hansa Heavy Lift, are from Germany, although the ship is flagged in St. Johns, Antigua.


There isn’t really much to say about HHL Amur – her career thus far has been basically the same.


Here’s a wide shot showing Federal Colombia at the Essar export dock while HHL Amur passes on her way to the locks.


We then picked up speed, and caught up to HHL Amur, all while the skies became more and more threatening.


It hadn’t yet started raining, although the threatening clouds made an excellent backdrop.


The ship was traveling rather slowly at this point, presumably waiting for the lock to be made ready for her transit. After grabbing our last shots, we increased speed and headed back down the river via the Poe Lock. We then sped downriver at 13 knots to meet the next vessel heading upbound.


Just above Six Mile Point, we met the CSL Niagara steaming up the river.


We were treated to a salute from the Niagara‘s captain, and her crew seemed to enjoy the attention from our cameras!


CSL Niagara was built in 1972 as J.W. McGiffin.


Over the winter of 1998-99, the ship was given a new forebody that was slightly larger than the previous one. She was also given a new self-unloading system. These upgrades increased her cargo capacity, and probably extended her career as well.


She was given her current name in early 1999, after the conversion was complete.


As we followed the vessel upriver, the setting sun glinted off her hull.


As CSL Niagara headed off into the sunset, our cruise came to an end, and we headed back to the dock. After not seeing any vessels during the day, the traffic during the cruise more than made up for it.

That will conclude my photos from Engineer’s Weekend 2017. I’m glad I had the opportunity to visit the St. Clair River area, as well as return to Sault Ste. Marie, and I hope you enjoyed reading this saga!