Duluth, Sturgeon Bay Winter Layup Updates

On Wednesday, Kaye E. Barker moved out of Fraser Shipyards and departed from winter layup. Later in the evening, she was followed out of port by the 1,000 footer American Century, departing from Port Terminal. Their departures leave Indiana Harbor laid up at Lakehead Pipeline, and Herbert C. Jackson being repowered in Fraser Shipyards. In Sturgeon Bay, Joseph L. Block departed winter layup earlier this week, and 1,000 footers Mesabi Miner and American Spirit departed on Wednesday. Wilfred Sykes also departed on Wednesday, sporting a fresh coat of paint. There are now seven vessels still laid up – two of which, John G. Munson and American Courage, are not expected to sail this season unless economic conditions improve. John G. Munson is also being repowered, and that project is not supposed to be finished until June. The other vessels are James R. Barker, Alpena, Lee A. Tregurtha, and the tugs Invincible and Michigan.


Anderson, Callaway depart Sturgeon Bay

Great Lakes Fleet’s sister ships Arthur M. Anderson and Cason J. Callaway both departed Sturgeon Bay on Easter Sunday to begin the 2016 shipping season. More ships should be departing this week, so stay tuned for updates!

Winter Layup in Duluth, Part II

This post will conclude my photos form this past weekend in Duluth. Yesterday’s post featured the Superior side of the harbor, where Indiana Harbor, American Victory, Kaye E. Barker, and Herbert C. Jackson are laid up.


Just as with yesterday, I didn’t think I would be able to get a good view of the laid up Edward L. Ryerson, either. It only took a bit of searching to produce this excellent vantage point!


I wasn’t happy with the lighting, because it was late afternoon, so I brightened up this shot before I took it, and I kind of like the white-ish background.


The Ryerson was launched in early 1960, and has been in layup at Duluth since 2009. She was moved to the dock opposite the CHS elevator when Fraser began their dock renovation project last year.


However, I made one mistake on this trip: I forgot to bring my good camera along, which I normally use. I do rather like the camera on my iPhone – the pictures in yesterday’s post turned out pretty well. But the thing iPhone cameras aren’t good for is zoomed-in shots, which is exactly what I had to do to get shots from the Blatnik Bridge. The bridge gives probably one of the best viewpoints for seeing ship traffic, so I decided to take photos anyway. This was the best shot I could get of Paul R. Tregurtha, which was laid up at Midwest Energy until her departure yesterday.


I think my best shots of the American Century, laid up at the Holcim Cement Dock (otherwise known as Port Terminal berths 6 and 7) were from the old railroad bridge, which is now used as a fishing pier.


The American Century was built in 1981, making her the newest of the 13 1,000 footers. Paul R. Tregurtha comes in a close second – launched just a few months prior to the Century.


I then decided to take a panorama of the Blatnik Bridge, now that the renovation project is complete. Note the ice on the left side of the harbor, but the right side was fairly clear.


I find the former railroad bridge very interesting – the tracks were on top of the iron beams at the top of the photo, and the walking bridge was added below. The bridge is a good spot for watching ships coming to and from Midwest Energy and the CN ore docks.


Now on the Blatnik Bridge, I made two different attempts at photos. I didn’t like the lighting as much the first time, but I really like the vantage point.


I don’t know why this photo turned out so dark and crooked – its actually one of my least favorites, even though I again love the angle! This photo gives a better view of Philip R. Clarke, laid up at the fueling dock.


I like this photo from my second pass-over much better, as it was a bright, sunny day. Although it turned out a bit crooked too…


The Philip R. Clarke can be seen here over the buildings at Port Terminal. This was probably the best shot I got of her!


Next, at Port Terminal berth 1, is Philip R. Clarke‘s larger fleetmate Edwin H. Gott. She was the first departure from the port on Thursday morning.


I was also able to grab one last shot of the 1898-built J.B. Ford, although she blends into her background quite well! Until this past November, a group had been working to save the ship and have it preserved, but the overwhelming cost of asbestos removal proved to be too much for the group. Tugs towed the ship to this slip last fall for scrapping, which I assume will begin soon.


That was all for the ships in port, but I was also able to get a shot of the 225-foot Coast Guard cutter Alder. Note Philip R. Clarke to the left of her bow mast.


On my final night in Duluth, the sky was beautiful, and I couldn’t resist grabbing a shot of the very photogenic Aerial Lift Bridge.


And to close out this post, we’ll throw in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers tug Bayfield, lit up with red and blue rope lights.

That was all from my trip to Duluth this past weekend. With the opening of the Soo Locks at 12:01 a.m. this morning, the 2016 shipping season has officially started. Duluth’s first arrival of the season, Michipicoten, is expected to arrive early Saturday morning for a load of iron ore pellets, and traffic will only be increasing from there. So for now, stay tuned for updates on vessel departures!

Winter Layup in Duluth, Part I

This past weekend, I made the four and a half hour drive north to Duluth, MN – one of my favorite boatwatching spots. Unfortunately, my trip wasn’t as well-timed as I hoped: I returned home on Monday evening, and had I stayed until Tuesday, I would have been able to catch the departures of Edwin H. Gott and Philip R. Clarke. Both vessels loaded iron ore pellets in Two Harbors, MN, before arriving at the Soo Locks Thursday afternoon to wait for their opening on Friday. The 1,013 foot Paul R. Tregurtha, loaded with coal from Midwest Energy in Duluth, departed at 9:00 on Thursday night, also for the locks. But I was able to get photos of the vessels in layup, which I will be posting over the next few days.

I’ll start my “tour” in Superior, where the Indiana Harbor is laid up at the Odgensburg Pier, also known as Lakehead Pipeline. I was also able to get some photos of American Victory, in long-term layup at Elevator M.


Until this trip, I had thought the best photos I could get of these slips were from the road. But after a little exploring, and walking across the train tracks, I came to a chain link fence, which gave me the opportunity for this photo of the 1,000 foot Indiana Harbor.


I then walked along the perimeter of the fence, and, as I discovered, you can actually walk right up to the slip! I barely got the whole ship in one frame, and her propellers are the main event here.


The ropes forming a “V” in front of each propeller are supporting the “bubble” systems that keep the ice from forming around the propellers.


I really like this photo – it really gives a perspective as to how huge Indiana Harbor really is.


I had to take a propeller close-up: I mean, why not? Propellers usually go unseen, so this is an interesting and different part of boatwatching.


I then continued along the slip a bit more for a profile shot, which turned out pretty well also. Note the blue Shedd Aquarium and ASC banners on the side of her cabins.


And one final profile view of her port propeller (with a wood piling) should do the trick. This photo gives you a view of her propeller shaft.

209I grabbed one final shot as I headed next door to see the American Victory. So long, Indiana Harbor.


As with Indiana Harbor, I didn’t think I would be able to get this close to the Victory; I’m very glad, however, that I did! The Victory was moved to Elevator M last year, when Fraser Shipyards began their dock renovation project and needed the Victory and Edward L. Ryerson moved.


The ship has a very long history. To make it short, she entered service in 1943 as the USS Neshanic and served the U.S. Navy as an oiler in both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans and also survived a bombing from Japanese aircraft. After the war, she entered service for the Gulf Oil Company as Gulfoil, and on August 7, 1958, she collided with the tanker S.E. Graham and exploded. She was taken to Baltimore, where it was determined that the ship could be repaired, and converted to a Great Lakes bulk carrier. She entered service as Pioneer Challenger on July 16, 1961.


The ship was purchased by Oglebay Norton Company in 1962, and she was renamed Middletown. She had an uneventful career until Oglebay Norton sold her and five fleetmates to American Steamship Company in 2006. American Victory only saw two years of service, before being laid up for good in 2008. Her future remains uncertain – I personally would love to see her become a museum, but only time will tell.


For the final part of this post, we have Interlake fleetmates Kaye E. Barker and Herbert C. Jackson at Fraser Shipyards. This somewhat-panorama was the best stern view I could get of Kaye E. Barker.


The Barker has had a fairly uneventful career, since her launch in 1952. She is one of eight AAA-class vessels built during the early 1950s.


The Barker has visited Fraser Shipyards numerous times over the years – she was lengthened 120 feet in 1975, and has returned for winter layup every few years.


Besides that, there really isn’t much to talk about her. So, um, here’s a bow view…


And here’s another one. I did attempt a stern shot from the Blatnik Bridge, but it didn’t turn out very well.


Now turning to my left is her smaller fleetmate Herbert C. Jackson, being converted to diesel in the drydock.


Along with having her steam turbine replaced with new diesel engines, the ship is having internal steel replacements and a fresh coat of paint.


Here’s a shot of both Herbert C. Jackson and Kaye E. Barker, with the Blatnik Bridge just behind.


My final shot definitely isn’t as good – I was trying to capture the ship from the road, showing the black tarps covering the length of her hull where she is being painted. Of course, those electrical poles just had to be in the way.

So that’s all for post number one. I will finish up tomorrow with photos from the Duluth side of the harbor.

Joseph L. Block departs Sturgeon Bay

Late Thursday morning, the 730-foot Joseph L. Block departed Sturgeon Bay and headed for Escanaba, MI, to load her first cargo of iron ore pellets. Her departure leaves 11 vessels still in port. According to a report on boatnerd.com, American Courage is not expected to sail in 2016, while the Arthur M. Anderson, which did not see service in 2015, is expected to sail in 2016. With the opening of the Soo Locks on Thursday, more vessels should be departing within the next few days.

The Silent Shipyard

First of all, I’m sorry for the lack of activity on this blog in the past few weeks! As you know, during the winter season there isn’t really much to do – except visit Sturgeon Bay and check out the layup fleet, which I did the last weekend in February. However, I wasn’t able to post the photos right away as I soon left on vacation! So here are my pictures from Sturgeon Bay.


I headed over to Bullheads Point, across from the shipyard, to get my photos. This is a wide view of the layup fleet. From left to right: James R. Barker, American Spirit, Alpena, tug Invincible, tug Michigan, Arthur M. Anderson, American Courage, Lee A. Tregurtha, John G. Munson, and Mesabi Miner. The Wilfred Sykes was in the drydock getting a fresh coat of paint, and behind Mesabi Miner but not visible are Joseph L. Block and Cason J. Callaway. I was unfortunately unable to get photos of either of those three ships due to a lack of time!


Here’s a closer view of James R. Barker, American Spirit, Alpena, and the two tugs. The barge Great Lakes, which is paired with the tug Michigan, was somewhere else in the shipyard.


And here’s another view of what could be called the “Footers Row.” Compared to previous years, there isn’t a very big Footers Row this year with only two thousand foot ships there. But notice the size comparison: American Spirit is 1,004 feet long, and Alpena is 519 feet long!


I then hiked out onto the ice (it was anywhere between 6-12 inches thick) to get a closer view. I rather like this shot, because the only part of the Barker visible behind American Spirit is her cabins just to the left of American Spirit‘s. This shot also really shows the size difference between Alpena and her much larger rivals!


This shot shows Alpena on the left, and the tug Invincible on the right. The 99-foot long tug is currently in long-term layup awaiting a barge to be mated with, now that her former barge McKee Sons was laid up in Muskegon, MI.


And here’s the closest photo I got of Alpena. As many will remember, the steamer experienced a fire near her engine while in drydock for her 5-year survey back in November. After the exterior damage was repaired, the ship was given a brand new coat of paint and looks as good as new. I don’t know if repairs to the interior of the ship have been completed yet.


Now moving to the right side of the shipyard, we have the rest of the fleet. Tug Michigan is on the far left, and then Arthur M. Anderson and American Courage sit side by side. Both Lee A. Tregurtha and John G. Munson (only her pilothouse is visible above Mesabi Miner) had their stacks removed at the time. Lee A. Tregurtha is having exhaust gas scrubbers installed, while John G. Munson is being repowered with a brand new, environmentally friendly diesel engine. Mesabi Miner clearly takes up most of the frame, as she is moored perpendicular to the other vessels.


Here’s a close up of Mesabi Miner. Just to the right of the large concrete buoy above the Miner‘s deck, you can see the very top of Joseph L. Block‘s pilothouse.


This is the closest shot I could get of the main group of ships. You can see a good portion of Lee A. Tregurtha‘s hull, but I wasn’t able to get any more of John G. Munson.


My final shot is a nice close-up view of Arthur M. Anderson and American Courage moored together. Note that below the waterline on the Courage, her black paint that was applied in 2011 has worn off and shows the off-white undercoat.

That was all for this trip. A bit short, yes, but I am planning another trip up to Duluth, MN, this weekend to get some photos of the layup fleet there before they all depart for the lower lakes. The Soo Locks open for the 2016 shipping season on March 25, which is only two weeks away, so stay tuned for more!