Bay Shipbuilding in Sturgeon Bay has seen quite a bit of traffic over the past week. Late last week, Walter J. McCarthy Jr. departed from winter layup and headed to Lake Superior to begin her 2017 season. On Monday evening, Interlake’s Mesabi Miner departed from Bay Shipbuilding and headed towards the Soo Locks to load her first cargo of the season at Duluth. Over the winter, the Miner was outfitted with exhaust gas scrubbers, similar to those added to her fleetmates James R. Barker and Lee A. Tregurtha last winter. The Miner is Interlake’s fourth vessel to be fitted with the new system, which is designed to remove sulfur and other emissions from the ship’s exhaust. Also on Monday evening, Pathfinder/tug Dorothy Ann left the shipyard after spending the past two weeks there for some sort of unspecified repairs. She headed for Stoneport to load. Great Republic arrived soon after the Pathfinder’s departure, presumably also for repairs of some sort. John G. Munson remains docked, but is expected to begin her sea trials for her new engines within the next few days. Manitowoc, Calumet, and American Courage all remain in layup.
Algoma Central’s John B. Aird arrived in Montreal last week Wednesday under her own power after unloading her final cargo of salt at Ogdensburg and Prescott, Ontario. Although Algoma has made no official announcement, the vessel’s name has been shortened to John B. and her stack markings have been painted out in preparation for an overseas scrap tow. The Aird has had a rather short and uneventful career – she was constructed in 1983 for Algoma Central, and has operated for them since. Although she wouldn’t seem like a likely candidate for the scrapyard, keep in mind that Algoma is building seven new Equinox Class vessels, and is most likely trying to weed out their older vessels so they can be replaced.
In Toledo, Ohio, workers were removing the name from Lower Lakes Towing’s barge Lewis J. Kuber. She will be renamed Menominee. She and her fleetmate James L. Kuber, as well as their tugs Victory and Olive L. Moore, were purchased from the now-bankrupt K&K Integrated Logistics in early 2011. Part of the sale agreement was that the vessels would retain their K&K names for at least five years before Lower Lakes could rename them. With Lewis J. Kuber‘s renaming, new names are also expected for the barge James L. Kuber and their respective tugs. It is also rumored that Lower Lakes will retire the Olive L. Moore, and the Menominee will be pushed instead by the tug Invincible, currently laid up in Sturgeon Bay.
Algoma Central’s newest addition to their Great Lakes fleet, Algoma Strongfield, has departed from her builder’s yard in China and begun her delivery voyage to the Great Lakes. She is the fourth vessel constructed as part of Algoma’s newest class of ships, the Equinox Class. The vessel is currently on her way to the Philippines to refuel before making the voyage across the Pacific Ocean, through the Panama Canal, and up the U.S. East Coast before entering the St. Lawrence Seaway. Algoma Strongfield is expected to arrive on the Lakes in June. The ship will join her sisters Algoma Equinox, Algoma Harvester, and G3 Marquis in the grain and iron ore trades.
Algoma Strongfield will be the first Equinox Class vessel to arrive on the Great Lakes since January of 2015. The Chinese shipyard that was to build all eight vessels had already delivered the first three and was constructing Algoma Strongfield when they filed for bankruptcy, which brought the entire project to a halt. However, Algoma was able to acquire the vessel and complete her construction. According to the company, there are another seven Equinox Class vessels that will still be delivered. Two of those vessels, which will be 650′ self-unloaders, are likely intended to replace the aging Algoway and Algorail. The other five vessels will all be sisters to the current Equinox gearless bulk carriers, and all five will be self-unloaders. Two of these ships are expected to arrive on the Lakes before the 2017 shipping season comes to a close.