Winter Layup Updates

With the Soo Locks now closed for the winter, most vessels have arrived at their layup ports. Duluth is hosting a total of six vessels this winter, among them James R. Barker at Midwest Energy, Lee A. Tregurtha and Kaye E. Barker at Fraser Shipyards, Edwin H. Gott and Erie Trader/tug Clyde S. VanEnkevort at Port Terminal, and Burns Harbor at Elevator M. Arthur M. Anderson, which sat out the 2017 season, is laid up at the CN dock. It is rumored that she will have some sort of work done this winter and will operate next season. American Victory is moored at the NP ore dock near BN in Superior, and Edward L. Ryerson is at the Barko dock near CHS.

The last vessel to join Sturgeon Bay’s layup fleet, Mesabi Miner, arrived over the weekend. She became the twelfth ship to arrive there for the winter. Also laid up are Wilfred Sykes, Roger Blough, James L. Kuber/tug Victory, Paul R. Tregurtha, Robert S. Pierson, Stewart J. Cort, John G. Munson, Joseph L. Block, and Cason J. Callaway. The Tregurtha is in the process of having exhaust gas scrubbers installed, a procedure which Bay Shipbuilding has already completed four other times for Interlake. American Courage and the Lower Lakes tug Invincible both remain in long-term layup. The barge Cleveland Rocks is also spending the winter at the shipyard, and is being converted into a self-unloading cement carrier.

I hope to make it up to both Duluth and Sturgeon Bay at some point this winter to photograph the vessels in layup, and look forward to sharing them!

First Vessels arrive Duluth for Layup

Just after sunrise on the morning of January 9, Interlake’s Kaye E. Barker made her way into Duluth to lay up at Fraser Shipyards, becoming the first vessel to arrive there for the winter of 2017-18. Later that day, her fleetmate James R. Barker arrived, and after stopping for fuel at the Husky Energy (formerly Calumet fuel) dock, she backed through the harbor to Midwest Energy, which will serve as her home for the next few months. The following day, Lee A. Tregurtha arrived, and joined Kaye E. Barker at Fraser Shipyards. As of now, no further information is available regarding other vessels that will spend the winter in Duluth, however I will update as vessels arrive!

Since mid-December, the barge James L. Kuber and tug Victory, Paul R. Tregurtha, and Robert S. Pierson have all arrived in Sturgeon Bay for the winter. Interlake’s Mesabi Miner and Stewart J. Cort are expected soon, as are Cason J. Callaway, John G. Munson, and Joseph L. Block. The rapid buildup of ice in the St. Marys River and other parts of the Lakes has prevented traffic from moving much, and many vessels are behind schedule for their last loads of the season.

A Smoky Arrival

This past weekend, I traveled up to Duluth for the first time in over a year, and was able to get some amazing shots because of the freezing temperatures! It never breached zero all weekend, with most days around -10 to -15 degrees. Unfortunately, due to the weather and constantly changing schedules, I was only able to see one vessel arrive through the ship canal.


The sub-zero temperatures, combined with the much warmer water, creates a thick fog-like substance known as sea smoke. There wasn’t a point in the weekend where sea smoke was absent, and it made for some excellent yet somewhat ominous shots of the inbound ship.


The vessel in question is Mesabi Miner, a 1,004 foot vessel owned by the Interlake Steamship Company.


The ship had been sitting at anchor outside the Duluth harbor for a few days, and was arriving on Sunday to refuel at the Calumet fuel dock.


Those keeping up with current vessel positions know that a small party of at least six or seven ships are currently sitting at anchor outside the Duluth harbor, some waiting to load at Burlington Northern in Superior and some waiting for Two Harbors.


The Miner is on the western end of Lake Superior to pick up a load of iron ore pellets from Burlington Northern, however she, like the other anchored ships, has a long wait ahead of her due to the loading delays that come along with the weather.


The ship’s ice-coated bow silently pushed the ice out of her path as she made her way toward the harbor.


To my surprise, the Miner‘s horn was in good working condition when she saluted the bridge – at this time of year, most ships’ horns are frozen over.


Notice Mesabi Miner‘s rather wide stack – she spent last winter in Sturgeon Bay, where, like many fleetmates before her, she was outfitted with exhaust gas scrubbers to reduce emissions. The extra equipment necessitated the reduction of stacks from two to one.


After the Miner‘s arrival, we headed into the visitor’s center to warm up. I grabbed this shot while there, focusing on the top of the Canal Park tug Bayfield‘s mast. In the background but not in focus are Algoma Equinox, G3 Marquis, and Whitefish Bay.


Later in the afternoon, the sea smoke cleared enough to allow me to shoot the party of vessels sitting outside the harbor. St. Clair, shown here, had arrived Duluth earlier in the day, fueled, and departed, dropping anchor to wait her turn to load in Superior. I had been planning on seeing her arrival, but of course her schedule changed too quickly for me to keep up with.


Anchored nearby was her fleetmate Walter J. McCarthy Jr. The McCarthy was waiting to load in Two Harbors, and arrived there on Monday to pick up her cargo.


To the right of St. Clair are Whitefish Bay and G3 Marquis.


This was the closest shot I could get of the two vessels, which were on the hook closer to the Superior entry.


The final two ships in the party were Algoma Equinox (foreground) and Algoma Discovery.


I then headed up to Two Harbors, where the Erie Trader and her tug Clyde S. VanEnkevort were loading ore.


Up until last year (feels weird saying that now, doesn’t it?), the pair were operated by American Steamship, however their charter came to an end and the vessels were purchased by VanEnkevort.


Just before leaving the breakwall, I grabbed a shot of the sun setting over Lake Superior. The temperature was close to -20, and there was a stiff breeze blowing as well, but the results of the trip were well worth it!

That was all from my latest Duluth trip. I hope to make it up at some point during the winter to photograph the winter layup fleet, but until then, hopefully these photos will hold you over.

And last but certainly not least, I would like to sincerely wish all of my readers a very happy New Year and extend my thanks to you for your continued support! I cannot wait for the adventures 2018 will bring, and I look forward to sharing many more photos with you.