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.


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