Updates Around the Lakes (And YES the Anderson is Coming Back!)

With the 2019 shipping season underway, there are quite a few updates of vessel-related activities happening around the lakes (and beyond). Below, I’ll go through some of those listed in the 2019 edition of Know Your Ships, as well as some that have occurred since the book’s release – sort of a synopsis of the KYS book. If you haven’t yet ordered your copy of the new book, do so here. And you did read that title correctly, Arthur M. Anderson will be returning to service this season! Read on for more.


We’ll start this off by recapping the vessels that were retired last season, as we lost a number of classic lakers to the scrapper’s torch. Per the usual over the last few years, the majority of those vessels were former members of the Algoma Central fleet. From that fleet, the list of vessels towed overseas to the breaker’s yard in Aliaga, Turkey includes Algoma Olympic, Algolake, Algosteel, and American Victory. Algoway and Algorail were both towed to Marine Recycling Corp. in Port Colborne, Ontario. Lower Lakes Towing also sent its former grain carrier Manitoba for scrap overseas in 2018.

The cement carriers English River and Stephen B. Roman were both retired in 2018, with the former heading to the MRC yard and the latter sailing overseas to Aliaga. Their runs were taken over in 2018 by NACC Argonaut and NACC Quebec of the new company NovaAlgoma Cement Carriers, as well as McKeil Marine’s McKeil Spirit.

Stephen B. Roman is seen here departing Toronto, Ontario, on November 14, 2018, on her final trip to the Aliaga scrapyard (courtesy of Bill Bird, Boatnerd.com).

In this aerial image, English River is rafted to Paul H. Townsend at the Marine Recycling Corp. yard in Port Colborne awaiting the scrapper’s torch (courtesy of Matt Miner, Boatnerd.com).

Two more Algoma Central vessels, Algowood and Capt. Henry Jackman, laid up for the final time at Montreal in January, and both will be towed overseas to be cut up in 2019. In addition, Lower Lakes Towing’s tug Olive L. Moore is expected to be sent for scrap this season. The 1928-vintage tug will most likely start the season pushing her barge Menominee, however she is expected to be replaced by Invincible at some point in 2019.

New Arrivals

With all the scrapping activity come some new hulls. In 2019, Algoma Central will take delivery of Algoma Conveyor, a sister to Algoma Sault and Algoma Niagara. The Conveyor will arrive on the Lakes in April from the Chinese shipyard where she was constructed. Also possibly arriving for Algoma this year is Algoma Endurance, the second 650-foot Equinox vessel that was to follow Algoma Innovator in 2018. Algoma cancelled the contracts for the Endurance and five other vessels that were to be built at the Croatian shipyard, however there is still a possibility that the company will find a way to acquire the nearly-complete Endurance and bring her to the Lakes. Two new tankers will enter service for Algoma Tankers Ltd. this season as well. The saltwater vessels Ramira and Louise Knutsen were recently acquired by ATL from their overseas owners, and will begin Great Lakes/Seaway service in 2019 as Algonorth and Algoterra, respectively.

Two new tankers that were launched in 2018 in Turkey will begin operations this year for Groupe Desgagnés. Paul A. Desgagnés and Rossi A. Desgagnés can be powered by any of three types of fuel – heavy fuel oil, marine diesel, or liquified natural gas, and will enter service for Petro-Nav Inc., a division of Groupe Desgagnés.

Paul A. Desgagnés leaving her builder’s yard in Turkey (courtesy of Groupe Desgagnés).

The former open-topped barge Cleveland Rocks re-enters service in 2019 as an almost entirely rebuilt powdered cement carrier, after spending a year and a half at Bay Shipbuilding in Sturgeon Bay. Commander will operate for Port City Marine as part of their fleet that now consists of 3 cement barges.

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This photo shows the Commander/tug Bradshaw McKee arriving at Chicago with her first payload of cement (courtesy of Christine Douglas, Facebook).

McKeil Marine has also acquired two Turkey-built tankers for service in the St. Lawrence  Seaway. New names have not yet been announced for the vessels, currently known as Topaz I and Turquoise I. 

A new hull to look out for in the future is under construction at Bay Shipbuilding in Sturgeon Bay. Michigan Trader, a 740-foot self-unloading barge, is being built for VanEnkevort Tug & Barge, and is expected to be completed by mid-2020. The barge will be pushed by Laura L. VanEnkevort, a former saltwater tug recently acquired by the company.

New Names/General Updates

Early in 2018, Algoma revealed new names for two of the vessels acquired from ASC in late 2017. Buffalo was rechristened Algoma Buffalo, and Adam E. Cornelius’ name was changed to Algoma Compass. The third vessel, American Valor, remains laid up in Toledo, and Algoma has yet to announce a new name or a possible future for the AAA-class vessel. A few rumors have speculated that she will be drydocked and have a section of her hull removed (she is 767′ in length, and the maximum length for a ship to pass through the Welland Canal and St. Lawrence Seaway is 740′), however this actually happening is unlikely.

Algoma Compass shows off her new paint while unbound on the St. Clair River (courtesy of Fred Miller II, Boatnerd.com).

Lower Lakes Towing’s barge James L. Kuber enters service this season as Maumee, a name 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.

Maumee/tug Victory arrive at Marquette, Michigan, to load her first cargo under her new name (courtesy of Becky Barclay, Boatnerd.com).

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 right away when they began operating for Grand River Navigation. LLT rechristened the Lewis J. to Menominee in 2017, 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 this year, and the barge will instead be pushed by Invincible. The Moore is currently in Erie receiving some form of repair work, likely indicating that she will at least start the season pushing Menominee. Rumor is that the Invincible has not yet been prepped to push Menominee, and her connection pins must be adjusted before she can began service. The new Maumee will continue to be pushed by the tug Victory.

Algoma’s two oldest vessels re-enter service in 2019 with a silver lining: Tim S. Dool and John D. Leitch were both drydocked over the winter, and each received a 5-year survey and a fresh coat of paint, guaranteeing them at least a few more years of service.

Tim S. Dool in dry dock at Fraser, showing off her new coat of Algoma blue (courtesy of David Schauer, Facebook).


Now, some news that boatwatchers will be happy to hear! Two vessels that have spent the past few seasons at the wall will re-enter service in 2019. American Courage was drydocked over the winter for hull work, and will be back out on the Lakes in 2019 after spending three seasons tied up at Bay Shipbuilding in Sturgeon Bay.


American Courage is seen here in drydock at Bay Shipbuilding in December 2018 preparing for her return to service.

However, the more prominent news is that Arthur M. Anderson, a long-time boatwatcher favorite, will return to service after two years in layup. The Anderson was towed from her layup dock at Canadian National in Duluth to Fraser Shipyard on Tuesday, April 2. Soon, she will be placed in drydock, and a $4 million refit will commence that includes a 5-year survey and necessary hull and cargo hold repairs the ship desperately needs that will allow her to continue sailing. If all goes according to plan, she should be back in regular service in June or July of this year.


I last saw Arthur M. Anderson tied up at Canadian National Dock #5 in Duluth back in February.

A number of vessels still remain in long-term layup, waiting for either better economic conditions or an eventual trip to the scrapyard. The classic Edward L. Ryerson is moored in Superior, and Interlake’s John Sherwin is in long-term layup at DeTour, Michigan. American Valor, Manistee, and the barge Sarah Spencer are all tied up in Toledo, with the latter two expected to be towed for scrap eventually. The barge McKee Sons is sidelined at Muskegon, Michigan. Only time will tell if any of these vessels see service again, as many are in need of repairs or are older vessels that would require modern upgrades to make them efficient and worth operating.

Manistee is seen here laid up in Toledo, Ohio, with little hope of ever operating again (courtesy of Matt Miner, Boatnerd.com).

Burns Harbor Towed Back to Bay Shipbuilding after Bow Thruster Fire

American Steamship’s 1,000-footer Burns Harbor departed Bay Shipbuilding at 07:30 on Tuesday morning, March 26, and passed through downtown Sturgeon Bay on her way to the ship canal to begin her 2019 season. However, she stopped short of the canal due to a fire that had broken out in her bow thruster. Tugs were called to her aid, and crews from the Sturgeon Bay fire department immediately boarded Burns Harbor. Thankfully, the fire was contained and put out rather quickly, and no one was injured.  The tugs on scene, William C. Gaynor, Jacquelyn Yvonne, and Susan L., then towed the ship backwards through the bridges and back to her layup dock at the shipyard. Burns Harbor remains at the shipyard today, and it is unknown when she will depart for the second time.

This is the second ASC vessel to suffer a fire in two months – many will recall the February 16th fire on the laid up St. Clair in Toledo that burned for days and destroyed much of the vessel. The investigation into the cause and damage of that fire is ongoing, and likely will be for months to come.

The photos below show Burns Harbor being towed back to the shipyard on the morning of March 26. All are courtesy of Bob Kuhn, Facebook.

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Image may contain: sky, ocean, cloud, outdoor and water

Image may contain: sky, ocean, outdoor and water

Image may contain: sky, ocean, outdoor and water


Joseph L. Block’s Technical Difficulties

Last week, I made my usual winter visit to Sturgeon Bay to photograph the winter layup fleet. The fleet is a little small this year at eleven vessels, with two of those being barges, however some of those are either new to Sturgeon Bay or haven’t visited in a number of years.


This, however, was the first time that I was able to witness winter activity at the shipyard. Typically, there are quite a few vessels drydocked each winter for various types of off-season work, but I always miss the days that vessels are being shifted around. This year was my lucky one, as Joseph L. Block was being shifted from her layup berth to the graving dock when I arrived.


Of course it was dark and snowing heavily, so my shots didn’t turn out as I wanted, but that’s the tug William C. Gaynor on the Block‘s bow.


On her stern is Barbara Andrie (the blue tug on the left), which arrived with the barge A-397 and has been in and out of layup as she has had a few jobs this winter. Susan L. is on the right, and was headed astern of the Block to break up the ice.


No, this isn’t the same photo as above. I moved around a bit after getting the snowy shots to try and find a better angle, but within minutes the snow cleared and the sun made an appearance! I quickly headed onto the ice (as I always seem to be doing) and got this much better shot of the Gaynor and Block. 


Susan L. was on the Block‘s bow now, and all three tugs were slowly maneuvering the dead ship into drydock (since she is in layup and has no crew on board, the ship is providing no power).


Here’s a much better shot of Barbara Andrie, which has been quite the workhorse this winter. She escorted a few vessels in and out of Green Bay in late January/early February, and has provided assistance with moving vessels around the shipyard as well.


As much as I wanted to stay and shoot the Block disappearing behind the 1,000 footers, I wanted to use the sunlight I had before it disappeared again. That proved to be a smart choice, as the ice was clogging up the drydock and the Block had to be pulled out a few times over the course of the rest of the day, including after I left, to allow ice to be cleared from behind the ship (hence the title of this post).


Docked in “Footers Row” this year, from left to right, is James R. Barker, Burns Harbor, and Paul R. Tregurtha.


The Tregurtha is a regular in Sturgeon Bay, wintering there almost every year, and had just emerged from drydock a few days prior after having work done on her propellers and rudders.


It has been probably a good five to ten years since Burns Harbor spent a winter in Sturgeon Bay. She was here back in December to receive her 5-year survey and a much-needed coat of paint, and had been expected to lay up in Superior. However, since she didn’t make it back to the locks before they closed, ASC sent her here.


Progress was slowly being made with the Block as I worked my way over to the rest of the shipyard.


I like this wide view that makes the rest of the layup fleet look much further away than they actually are – I guess that’s the effect the Queen of the Lakes has.


Here’s a much wider shot of the Tregurtha hiding the other 1,000 footers behind her – poor James R. Barker will hardly be mentioned in this post thanks to the fact that she’s buried in the back.


One last shot of Paul R. and the recently broken ice (don’t worry, still very solid).


She blends into the background a bit, but Andrie’s barge A-397 is moored alone in the next slip over from the footers. When Barbara Andrie isn’t working in the shipyard, she is docked astern of her barge.


And now on to the rest of the shipyard. Tucked tightly into the main slip on the left are John G. Munson, Cason J. Callaway, and American CourageRoger Blough is in the same spot she was last year.


Although there’s a large buoy in the way, here’s a decent bow view of the Blough.


All four of these vessels wintered in Sturgeon Bay last year as well, and are definitely regulars. American Courage has spent more time tied up here than sailing in the last five years, though that will change next season as she’ll be back in service (finally).


I continued to work my way across the ice, with one more ship in mind.


Here’s the bows of all three GLF ships together, and the red cranes certainly match the color scheme well.


The sun disappeared again when I reached the Blough‘s stern, but I was plenty happy with the awesome shots it had allowed me to get earlier.


This was a new spot for me to shoot from – I’ve never ventured this far across the shipyard before. I don’t know why that is though, since the ice provides angles much better than the shore can.


Here’s another stern shot of the 105-foot wide Blough, because why not?


And one last view, this time with Paul R. Tregurtha visible on the left.


Remember that one last ship I had in mind earlier? Here it is, and the sun came out again ever-so-slightly just in time!


The Wilfred Sykes is docked at this end of the yard each winter, and I didn’t want this to be another year where my only shots of her were blocked stern views from the yard. Another reason why I don’t know why I’ve never ventured this far on the ice!

That was pretty much it from the day, and at a good time – as I started heading back, the clouds and snow returned, and the Block had been pulled back out into the bay for a third attempt at placing her in drydock. There’s only one vessel I didn’t get pictures of, the barge Huron Spirit, however she was already in drydock. I might make another trip up to Sturgeon Bay before the 2019 season begins to see if I can get any better shots, but now that it’s March, the start of the new season is only a few weeks out!