With the Soo Locks now closed for the season, most of the Great Lakes fleet has tied up for the winter. On Lake Superior, there are a total of six active vessels laid up in the Twin Ports this winter. Mesabi Miner is moored at Midwest Energy; ASC fleetmates H. Lee White and American Spirit are laid up at Elevator M and Lakehead Pipeline, respectively; and Tim S. Dool, Lee A. Tregurtha, and Kaye E. Barker are all wintering at Fraser. Also at the shipyard is William A. Irvin, which will be drydocked after the Dool‘s work is complete. The Irvin will receive hull maintenance and repairs as well as a new coat of paint before being returned to the Minnesota Slip in the spring, where she will be reopened for tours. Two additional vessels, American Century and Burns Harbor, were both expected to lay up in Duluth, however neither ship made it up through the Soo Locks before they closed on January 15. The Century ended up in Toledo for the winter, while ASC surprisingly sent Burns Harbor back to Sturgeon Bay. In long-term layup in the Twin Ports are Arthur M. Anderson, tied at CN, and Edward L. Ryerson, at the Barko dock near the CHS elevators. Unlike recent rumors have indicated, there are no plans to scrap either vessel, and they may return to service at any time as economic conditions warrant.
There are ten ships laid up at Bay Shipbuilding in Sturgeon Bay so far, and the shipyard has been full of activity as of late. The McKeil barge Huron Spirit arrived last week Friday morning, pushed by the tug Sharon M I. The tug departed shortly after dropping her barge off to continue winter operations. Paul R. Tregurtha also arrived on Friday, and was immediately placed in drydock. This year’s layup fleet at the shipyard includes American Courage, John G. Munson, Joseph L. Block, barge A-397, Roger Blough, James R. Barker, Burns Harbor, Cason J. Callaway, barge Huron Spirit, and Paul R. Tregurtha. Wilfred Sykes is still running cargo between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, and will likely be the last arrival in Sturgeon Bay for the 2018 season when she lays up at the end of January. The new barge Commander, pushed by Bradshaw McKee, departed the shipyard last week, and headed for Charlevoix to load her first cargo of cement. The barge has spent the last two seasons at BayShip being converted from an open-topped cargo barge to an articulated, self-unloading powdered cement carrier. Work included the addition of an entirely new bow, cargo holds, and a bow thruster, and the barge was lengthened significantly to increase her cargo capacity.
For comparison’s sake, here’s a “before” shot of the barge before conversion work began. She was previously known as Cleveland Rocks, and primarily hauled bulk cargo on the lower lakes.
I took this shot back in November, showing the newly converted barge tied up at Bay Shipbuilding and awaiting pickup.
This photo shows the Commander/tug Bradshaw McKee arriving at Chicago with her first payload of cement (courtesy of Christine Douglas, Facebook).
Lastly, Lower Lakes Towing has finally given a new name to their James L. Kuber. The barge just emerged from drydock at the DonJon Shipyard in Erie, and the name Maumee is now displayed on her freshly painted hull. This name was last carried by a 1929-built vessel that previously operated for U.S. Steel as the Calcite II. She was sold to Lower Lakes in 2001, and was scrapped at Port Colborne, Ontario, in 2011.
When K&K Integrated Logistics disbanded and sold their two barges (James L. Kuber and Lewis J. Kuber) to Lower Lakes in 2011, part of the contract was that the vessels would retain their names for a certain number of years, which is why they weren’t renamed when they began operating for Grand River Navigation. LLT renamed the Lewis J. to Menominee last year, and have now finally changed James L.‘s name. The dedicated tug that has been paired with Menominee, Olive L. Moore, will be sent for scrap next year, and the barge will be pushed by Invincible starting next season. The new Maumee will continue to be pushed by the tug Victory.