The barge Erie Trader, pushed by her tug Clyde S. VanEnkevort, made her way out of the Port Terminal slip in Duluth on Tuesday, where she has spent the last few months in winter layup. After departing, the pair encountered thick ice outside the harbor, and were forced to stop for a few hours while the tug worked to free her barge. By evening, the pair was underway for Two Harbors, where they will load their first cargo of iron ore pellets. Edwin H. Gott and Kaye E. Barker are currently set to leave the harbor on Thursday, while James R. Barker and Burns Harbor should depart on Friday. Lee A. Tregurtha is expected to get underway in the following days. The Soo Locks open for the season on Sunday, March 25, and Duluth should see its first arrival of the season early next week.
In addition, Sturgeon Bay will start to see its first departures of the season later this week. Numerous vessels are set to depart on Friday, while others will follow soon after. Paul R. Tregurtha, which is currently having exhaust gas scrubbers installed at Bay Shipbuilding, will likely remain laid up until mid-May when the installation is complete.
American Steamship’s former river-class vessel Adam E. Cornelius will be renamed Algoma Compass to reflect her recent change of ownership. She, along with the Buffalo, American Valor, and American Victory, was sold to Algoma in a surprise move by ASC late last season. Although not official yet, the Buffalo‘s new name will likely be Algoma Buffalo. The Compass is currently undergoing preliminary work at Huron, and will be drydocked before entering service for Algoma this season, while Buffalo is currently moored at Sarnia, Ontario. The company has not yet announced their plans for the two steamers. The Valor is laid up in Toledo, Ohio, while the Victory is tied in Superior. Neither vessel has seen service since 2008.
Meanwhile, two of Algoma’s new Equinox-class vessels are currently on their delivery voyages to Canada. Algoma Sault, the second of Algoma’s 740′ self-unloading vessels, is expected to transit the Panama Canal this weekend, and should arrive on the Lakes sometime in the next month. The ship was built in China, and stopped for fuel in the Philippines before making the trans-Pacific voyage. Algoma Innovator, the first of two 650′ Equinox vessels, is due to arrive in Montreal next weekend. She is carrying a cargo of bauxite that was loaded in Greece. The Innovator and her sister, Algoma Endurance, were constructed at the 3 Maj shipyard in Croatia. Aside from having a shorter overall length and a forward-mounted self-unloading boom, the vessels are similar to their larger Equinox counterparts.
The arrivals of the Sault and Innovator will bring a total of seven Equinox-class ships in service for Algoma. Algoma Equinox arrived in 2013, and was followed by Algoma Harvester and G3 Marquis in 2014. Algoma Strongfield joined in mid-2017, and Algoma Niagara arrived later in the season. Algoma Endurance is still under construction in Croatia, but should join the fleet later in 2018.
The above two photos show Algoma Innovator and Algoma Sault, respectively, at their builders’ yards prior to departure. (Both photos courtesy Algoma Central Corp.)