On Tuesday morning, the American Spirit made her way into the harbor at Sturgeon Bay, where she then docked at the shipyard to begin her winter layup. The Spirit is the first ship to arrive in Sturgeon Bay for the 2015-16 winter season, and there should be about 12 or so more following. But something is different about this year: normally, the ships don’t start heading in for layup until late December or January. The November 3rd arrival of American Steamship Company’s largest vessel is a sign of how few ships are currently needed to meet the needs of the shipping companies’ customers. This is mainly due to a decreased need for iron ore pellets being shipped, and this is because of the high amount of foreign steel being imported to the U.S. Other vessels, including ASC’s John J. Boland and Adam E. Cornelius and Great Lakes Fleet’s Arthur M. Anderson, never saw service this season because of this. So for now, it looks like the Spirit will be in Sturgeon Bay until next spring. The plus side to that is that I will definitely be able to get some good shots of her, as she normally winters elsewhere. In fact, I believe this is her first time wintering in Sturgeon Bay in at least five or six years.
That wasn’t all that happened on Tuesday, though. Later in the afternoon, the newbuild tug Leigh Ann Moran and her barge Mississippi departed Sturgeon Bay, bound for Corpus Christi, Texas, where she will follow in the footsteps of her sister combo Texas/tug Mariya Moran. I saw the pair in Sturgeon Bay at the end of the summer, when Mississippi was still in drydock being finished. The departure of that pair completes Bay Shipbuilding’s constructions for Moran, and both tug/barge combos will remain in active service along the U.S. East and Gulf Coasts. Bay Shipbuilding is also currently in the process of purchasing the buildings Palmer Johnson has owned for many years. Now that their final yacht has been taken off the Lakes on the saltie Tracer, the company is officially ending operations. Luckily, Bay Ship saw fit to use the massive buildings that housed the yachts, and the shipyard will certainly find a purpose for them.