Engineer’s Day 2017, Part II

Today will be my final post from my Engineer’s Weekend trip. In yesterday’s post, I left off with the tug W. I. Scott Purvis at Essar Steel.


Our next stop after the Essar Steel plant was the Essar export dock, where the saltie Federal Columbia was moored.


The ship’s four deck cranes, which have a lifting capacity of 35 tons apiece, were actively loading the vessel as we maneuvered around her – here, you can see one crane lifting a large container into her cargo hold.


Federal Columbia is one of FedNav’s newer vessels – she was just constructed last year, and visited the Lakes late in the 2016 season before the closing of the Seaway.


Here, you can see her unique bow, which is designed to increase the vessel’s efficiency.


After taking on a partial load here, Federal Columbia would depart and head for Duluth to top off her holds with wheat.


We spent plenty of time maneuvering around the vessel, giving everyone aboard the Le Voyageur plenty of photo opportunities.


We then headed a little further upriver for wider shots, and to meet the next vessel in the river.


HHL Amur was slowly making her way down the river and towards the locks.


The 2007-built vessel is a frequent visitor on the Lakes, and has made several trips to Lake Superior in the past few years.


Here’s a close-up of her bow – notice how her name is written at an angle to convey an image of speed.


The ship’s owners, Hansa Heavy Lift, are from Germany, although the ship is flagged in St. Johns, Antigua.


There isn’t really much to say about HHL Amur – her career thus far has been basically the same.


Here’s a wide shot showing Federal Colombia at the Essar export dock while HHL Amur passes on her way to the locks.


We then picked up speed, and caught up to HHL Amur, all while the skies became more and more threatening.


It hadn’t yet started raining, although the threatening clouds made an excellent backdrop.


The ship was traveling rather slowly at this point, presumably waiting for the lock to be made ready for her transit. After grabbing our last shots, we increased speed and headed back down the river via the Poe Lock. We then sped downriver at 13 knots to meet the next vessel heading upbound.


Just above Six Mile Point, we met the CSL Niagara steaming up the river.


We were treated to a salute from the Niagara‘s captain, and her crew seemed to enjoy the attention from our cameras!


CSL Niagara was built in 1972 as J.W. McGiffin.


Over the winter of 1998-99, the ship was given a new forebody that was slightly larger than the previous one. She was also given a new self-unloading system. These upgrades increased her cargo capacity, and probably extended her career as well.


She was given her current name in early 1999, after the conversion was complete.


As we followed the vessel upriver, the setting sun glinted off her hull.


As CSL Niagara headed off into the sunset, our cruise came to an end, and we headed back to the dock. After not seeing any vessels during the day, the traffic during the cruise more than made up for it.

That will conclude my photos from Engineer’s Weekend 2017. I’m glad I had the opportunity to visit the St. Clair River area, as well as return to Sault Ste. Marie, and I hope you enjoyed reading this saga!



Engineer’s Day 2017, Part I

I concluded yesterday’s post with the last of my photos from Port Huron. We spent the day Thursday driving up to Sault Ste. Marie, and arrived late in the evening.


There were no vessels in the locks, however Algocanada was moored across the river in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, unloading.


This year’s Engineer’s Day had almost no vessels passing through the locks during the day. Joseph L. Block locked up early in the morning, but we didn’t arrive in time to see her. The next vessel to pass through the locks, Spruceglen, didn’t arrive until after the open house portion of the day had ended.


I was down near Mission Point to catch the vessel heading downbound.


Spruceglen was built in Scotland in 1983 for Misener Transportation of Canada as Selkirk Settler. She carried various cargoes on both the Great Lakes and to destinations across the Atlantic Ocean.


She was sold to a divison of Fednav Inc. in 1991, and renamed Federal St. Louis. Her name was changed the following year to Federal Fraser. She changed owners numerous times, all while remaining under charter to Fednav. Her name was shortened to Fraser in 2001.


In October of 2002, Canada Steamship Lines acquired the vessel from Fednav, and she was given her current name. She has operated for them since.


So anyway, Spruceglen headed away and down the St. Marys River.


Shortly after Spruceglen passed, we boarded the Soo Locks tour boat Le Voyageur for the annual Boatnerd cruise. Our first stop was on the Canadian side of the river, where the cruise ship Victory I was docked.


Victory I was most recently known as Saint Laurent, and was operated by Haimark Cruise Lines.


Many remember Saint Laurent‘s June 2015 collision with the Eisenhower Lock in the St. Lawrence Seaway, which caused significant damage to the vessel and forced her operators to file for bankruptcy. Her current owners purchased her in early 2016, when she was given the name Victory I.


The ship cruises the Great Lakes for most of the summer season, before heading south into the ocean for the winter.


As we approached the Canadian Lock to make our upbound passage, we passed the moored Canadian Coast Guard vessel Constable Carriére.


The unique vessel is a member of the Hero Class of patrol vessels built for the Canadian Coast Guard between 2012 and 2014. Constable Carriére was launched in 2013 by her builders in Nova Scotia, and measures 140 feet long and 23 feet wide.


Earlier in the day, during the U.S. Coast Guard station’s open house, the vessel was open for tours, and I was able to climb aboard her and see how she operated.


After locking upbound, we explored the docks of the Algoma Essar Steel plant. This is Purvis Marine’s barge PML 9000, which was docked loading steel coils.


Docked near the barge was the tug W. I. Scott Purvis. The historic tug was built in 1938 in Sorel, Quebec.


Since the tug’s duties include moving barges around, I assume the tug was waiting for PML 9000 to finish loading.

And that’s where I’ll end – for now. I have one more post to finish this saga tomorrow, so stay tuned!



A Few New Ships

I left off yesterday in Sarnia, Ontario, where I saw the laid-up Lower Lakes vessel Ojibway. After enjoying lunch in downtown Sarnia, I headed back across the Blue Water Bridge, only to find that Algoma Equinox was passing beneath it! As soon as I got back into the U.S., I rushed downriver to hopefully catch the vessel. I stopped at the Boatnerd headquarters, where I found an even bigger surprise: CSL’s Baie Comeau was also there, on her way upbound!


I didn’t arrive in time for any bow shots of Algoma Equinox, unfortunately, but here she is.


Both vessels are still fairly new – Baie Comeau arrived on the Lakes from her builders in China in the summer of 2013, and Algoma Equinox entered service in December 2013.


Both vessels also have nearly the same dimensions – they measure 740 feet long and 78 feet wide, and both can carry nearly 40,000 tons of cargo.


Baie Comeau is a member of CSL’s Trillium Class, which consists of sister ships Baie St. Paul, Thunder Bay, and Whitefish Bay, as well as the gearless bulk carriers CSL St-Laurent and CSL Welland.


Just as quickly as she arrived, Baie Comeau rounded the corner and disappeared. But not for long…


As Algoma Equinox headed downriver, she approached the Algoma tanker Algoscotia that was docked in Sarnia.


Here’s a close up of the tanker, which was built in 2004 and measures 488 feet in length.


After the pass was completed, I headed back up to the Blue Water Bridge to catch Baie Comeau heading into Lake Huron. Unfortunately, I didn’t arrive in time for bow shots, but the angles were much better from this vantage point.


The ship has a total of 25 hatches on her deck, which open into 5 cargo holds below.


The ship’s unloading system consists of a gravity-fed two-belt system that feeds onto her discharge boom, which can unload cargo at a rate of up to 5,450 tons per hour.


The ship quickly picked up speed as she entered the open waters of Lake Huron.


I forget where she was headed on this trip – most likely Duluth, Two Harbors, or Thunder Bay to load.


But as Baie Comeau headed off into the distance, I noticed another vessel approaching.


The barge GM 6506, pushed by the tug Genesis Victory, made a little bit of a splash as she hit the waves produced by the much larger Baie Comeau.


The two vessels passed quickly, and Baie Comeau headed on her way.


The pair are owned and operated by Genesis Energy, and are registered in Houston, Texas.


The barge was built in 2007 in Louisiana, and measures 345 feet long.


Although the pair are from Texas, they spend most of the summer trading on the Great Lakes, and head back into the ocean late in the season.


Here’s a close up of the bow of GM 6506.


The tug Genesis Victory measures 104 feet long, and was purchased by Genesis Energy and paired with her barge upon its construction in 2007.


I don’t know where the barge was headed on this voyage, however my guess is it was bound for a destination on the St. Lawrence Seaway.


GM 6506 then passed under the international bridge and began her journey down the St. Clair River.

That concluded my time in Port Huron. We did stop in Detroit, however we were unable to visit the docks and get any good shots of the vessels docked along the river. Tomorrow, I’ll start with my photos from Sault Ste. Marie, which I’ll also break up into two shorter posts.




A Whole Bunch of Laid Up Ships

This past weekend, I returned from my trip to the St. Clair/Detroit Rivers and Sault Ste. Marie. Being able to finally visit the St. Clair River to boatwatch was definitely one of the highlights – it offers some excellent angles! But we started our trip a little farther south, in Toledo, Ohio, where we stopped for a short time to check out the vessels in the harbor.


First, we did a little exploring to see how close we could get to the laid-up American Valor, and the results weren’t bad. The Triple-A class vessel has been in layup since 2008, with little hope of entering service anytime soon. She isn’t visible here, but Lower Lakes’ Manistee is docked just in front of the Valor, also in layup.


We then headed across the river to a park that offered pretty decent views of the docks. I was surprised to find the barge Sarah Spencer laid up so close to the CSX coal dock – I was expecting her to be a little farther downriver.


Sarah Spencer was built in 1959 as Adam E. Cornelius, a powered steamer for American Steamship Company. She was converted to a barge in 1989, and served various owners until 2005, when she and her tug were listed for sale. She has remained in layup at Toledo since.


Jane Ann IV, the tug that pushes Sarah Spencer, was built in 1978, and was mated with the barge in 2000.


Of course, right as I was getting to the rest of the vessels in port, the sun disappeared. That’s CSL Laurentien on the left, taking on coal at the CSX dock. St. Clair is on the right, also in layup.


CSL Laurentien, built in 1977, was really the only active vessel in Toledo when I visited besides McKeil’s Evans Spirit, which I was unfortunately unable to get shots of.


St. Clair has been in and out of service for the past few years as demand requires – she has not yet entered service in the 2017 season.


Here’s a closeup of St. Clair‘s bow and CSL Laurentien‘s stern.


After our stop in Toledo, we drove up to Port Huron. The next morning, we headed down to the St. Clair River, where we found the US Coast Guard cutter Hollyhock at her dock.


Hollyhock is a sister ship to the cutter Alder, which is based out of Duluth. Hollyhock measures 225 feet long, and entered service in 2003.


Shortly after we arrived, the first vessel of the day entered the river: Lee A. Tregurtha.


The historic vessel was built in 1942, and served in World War II before being converted for Great Lakes service.


The vessel was downbound from Lake Superior with iron ore pellets on this trip.


Over the winter of 2015-16, Lee A. Tregurtha was fitted with exhaust gas scrubbers at Bay Shipbuilding, which reduce emissions released into the atmosphere by up to something like 90 percent.


The sun didn’t make these stern shots any better, but the angles were perfect.


And with that, the Tregurtha continued on with her journey.IMG_4749

Next, we crossed the international bridge into Canada, and headed for the harbor in Sarnia, Ontario, where we found Lower Lakes Towing’s Ojibway in layup.


The classic vessel was built in Bay City, Michigan, in 1952 as Charles L. Hutchinson. She served various owners before being acquired by Lower Lakes in 2007, when she was given her current name.


Like many others, the vessel has been in and out of service for the past few years as demand requires. There certainly wasn’t a lack of activity aboard the ship, so I’m assuming she’ll be re-entering service in the near future.

That will close today’s post. Tomorrow, I’ll post the rest of my photos from Port Huron, and then Sault Ste. Marie is next! Stay tuned!

Engineer’s Day at the Soo Locks next Weekend!

Next week Friday, June 30, the Soo Locks in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan will host their annual Engineer’s Day open house. From 9:00 am to 4:00 pm, the public will get the opportunity to walk across the gates of the MacArthur Lock to the area between the MacArthur and Poe Locks. The Administration building will also be open for tours. In addition, there will be a large tent set up between the locks with a variety of displays. The area between the locks offers some very unique views of passing ship traffic that can’t be found anywhere else! Also open on that Friday will be the Edison Sault Electric Plant, which is located just down the river from the locks.

I will be attending the Engineer’s Day open house, as well as the Boatnerd cruise taking place on Friday evening with Soo Locks Boat Tours. However, prior to Engineer’s Day, I’ll be making the extra-long trip around Lake Michigan to boat watch along the Detroit and St. Clair Rivers, something that I’ve never gotten the opportunity to do! I look forward to sharing my photos after I return!

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!