A New View of a Not-So-New Shipyard

This past Saturday, I was up in Sturgeon Bay for the annual open house, an event that is only held once each year. I (surprisingly) have never been able to tour the shipyard on this day in years past, however I was glad to have finally gotten the opportunity. Being able to see the shipyard from the inside was absolutely amazing, and the tour was set up with employees or retired employees at each location to provide information and answer any questions.


The tour started with Bay Shipbuilding’s massive graving dock, the only operating one on the Great Lakes large enough to accommodate the 1,000 footers. The dock measures a massive 1,158 feet long, and is somewhere around 150 feet wide. Unfortunately, the dock wasn’t holding any large lakers on Saturday, however the hull of one of Bay Shipbuilding’s new tug-barge combos was being assembled.


The next stop on the tour was the tug Invincible. She has been laid up in Sturgeon Bay since 2014, when the owners of her former barge McKee Sons reclaimed their barge and laid it up in Muskegon, leaving Lower Lakes with no choice but to send the tug into layup.


Some reports indicate that the tug will eventually be mated with the barge Lewis J. Kuber, to replace the aging Olive L. Moore. However, rumor at the shipyard is that Lower Lakes has listed the tug for sale.


Just astern of the Invincible is Bay Shipbuilding’s other in-ground graving dock, this one obviously much smaller. It measures 225 feet long and 40 feet wide, and is actually the repurposed hull of a former steamer that ran aground in the 1900’s. The shipyard uses this dock for tugs and other small vessels.


Docked in the shipyard was the appropriately named tug Bay Ship. The yard uses the tug (in addition to the Selvick fleet) to move vessels between berths, break thin ice, and perform any other necessary work.


The next stop was Bay Shipbuilding’s floating drydock. I didn’t expect that we would get to actually climb onto it, but doing so provided some excellent shots! This drydock, completed in 2013, measures 654 feet long, 117 feet wide, and is completely automated. These two tugs, Bradshaw McKee¬†(foreground) and G.L. Ostrander, were being worked on in the drydock on Saturday.


Bradshaw McKee is owned by Michigan-Ohio Barge, a division of Port City Marine Services, and is mated with the barge Cleveland Rocks, which was also in the shipyard. While we were watching, the worker that can be seen on the left was working with the tug’s anchor chain, which was being arranged on the drydock floor by a crane above.


The tug G.L. Ostrander was behind the McKee in the drydock, and is currently receiving her five-year inspection. Her barge, Integrity, was on the other side of the shipyard. The cement-hauling pair are owned by Lafarge. Note the tug’s large bow thruster opening near the keel at the front of her hull.


The next slip over held Bay Shipbuilding’s newest construction, the chemical barge Kirby 155-02. This barge was launched last fall, and spent the winter at the Centerpointe Yacht Services dock between the Michigan and Oregon Street bridges.


The barge is the second in a series of ATB units being built for Kirby. The first ATB, Kirby 155-01 and tug Heath Wood, were delivered in November 2016.


The barges have a capacity of 155,000 barrels, and are designed to carry petroleum and other chemical products.


I was unable to get a close-up photo of the tug that will be mated with Kirby 155-02, named Paul McLernan, however this photo that I took in August of 2016 of her sister Heath Wood provides an example as to what the new tug looks like.


Across the slip from Kirby 155-02 was the Cleveland Rocks, mated to Bradshaw McKee. You can see the Paul McLernan docked behind the barge. Prior to Saturday, I had just assumed that Cleveland Rocks was in port so her tug could receive hull work, however according to shipyard employees, the barge is in for a major refit herself. Her owners want to convert the open-topped barge, built in 1957, to a self-unloading powdered cement carrier. This will require lengthening of the barge by approximately 150 feet, the addition of an entirely new bow, and the installation of a spar deck as well as hatch covers. The conversion won’t be complete until at least the summer of 2018.


The next stop was the shipyard’s main and largest building, where I was very surprised to find the incomplete hull of another new tug. The most obvious part of the tug that is visible here are her twin Kort nozzles, into which the propellers will go eventually.


The tug’s name, Millville, has already been welded onto the hull. The employees showing us the tug told us that it will be rolled out of the building into the shipyard on Saturday, May 13. I’m assuming that this tug will eventually be mated with the barge that is being assembled in the graving dock.


The last stop in the shipyard tour was the lifeboat of the 1,004-foot Edwin H. Gott, on display near the main gate.

I was unable to get pictures of the three vessels on the other side of the shipyard, and the tour unfortunately didn’t extend to them. American Courage is still in long-term layup there, as well as Manitowoc, which is waiting to enter the graving dock to receive her five-year inspection. The cement barge Integrity is also docked on the south side of the shipyard, waiting for the inspection on her tug G.L. Ostrander to be completed. However, there were other events going on in Sturgeon Bay on Saturday.


At the cruise ship dock next to the Oregon Street bridge, the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Mobile Bay was open for tours, along with her barge CGB 12002.


The Mobile Bay, part of the Coast Guard’s 140-foot “Bay” class of cutters, was built in 1978, and has served in Sturgeon Bay for most of her career.


Her 120-foot barge was built at Marinette, WI in 1992, and is equipped with a bow thruster to aid in maneuverability.


After the tours ended, I stuck around to watch the pair depart from the dock and return to the Coast Guard dock, just across the harbor.


The tug swung out from the dock stern first, before beginning to back out into the harbor.IMG_4508

The crane that you can see on the deck of the barge has a lifting capacity of 20 tons, making the buoys the vessel handles no problem.


And with that, the pair turned and headed for their home dock at the end of the day.

That was all from Sturgeon Bay on Saturday. I’m really glad I was able to finally make it to the shipyard tour, and I hope to be able to do it again next year to share more photos of hopefully different vessels!

Bay Shipbuilding Open House this Weekend!

This Saturday, May 6, Bay Shipbuilding in Sturgeon Bay, WI will be hosting its annual open house. This is the only day of the year when the public gets a chance to see the expansive shipyard from the inside. Guided walking tours of Bay Shipbuilding and Centerpointe Yacht Services will be provided, which includes the grounds and various buildings at the shipyard. Across the harbor, the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Mobile Bay will be open for tours. At the nearby Graham Park dock, an emergency rescue boat and city police boat will also be available for tours. The Door County Maritime Museum, located at the south end of the Michigan Street Bridge, will be hosting various events and tours as well.

Tickets for the event will be sold on Saturday at both shipyard entry gates and the Maritime Museum. Prices are $15 for adults, $6 for children ages 11 to 17, and free for children 10 and under.

I’m excited to attend this event, as it is surprisingly my first time actually being able to tour the shipyard. I look forward to sharing photos later this weekend!