|Tug barges are interesting vessel(s). The Great Lakes Trader (barge) and the Joyce L. VanEnkevort (tug) were loading iron ore pellets at the CN dock in West Duluth on Thursday (January 2, 2014). Click the image for a larger version. Ice was an obvious problem but a tug/barge has a unique tool for breaking it up: the tug. Here the tug (right) had unleashed herself from the barge and was out shoveling the driveway while the dock was loading iron ore pellets into the Great Lakes Trader cargo holds. The tug later moved out into the river to clear a space for the vessel to back away from the slip and make the turn in the river so she could depart. Turning is a much bigger problem in an icy river than cruising down (or up) the river and needs more space.That done the tug returned to reconnect to the barge and they departed the slip together, using the newly created space in the river to make the turn. High winds on Lake Superior delayed her departure after she cleared the Duluth ship canal so she dropped anchor off the Duluth piers to wait.American Steamship has called in their vessels for the season but other shipping companies are continuing operations, if more slowly than usual. The Coast Guard has many vessels below the Soo working to keep the shipping lanes open on the St. Mary’s River, the St. Clair River and the often troubling Rock Cut.
In this article in UpNorthLive on January 2, 2014, the Coast Guard reports that Coast Guard crews have been doing their best to keep this multi-billion dollar shipping industry moving.
Capt. Steve Teschendorf is now Coast Guard Sector Sault Ste. Marie Commander. He is remembered here as the last captain on the Sundew and the first captain on the Alder. In the article, he is quoted as saying, "It’s (the ice) caused some delays, but we have not had any of what we call a waterway closure at this point, so things of been slowed but they are moving." He reported that ships are noticing delayed travel times and if they plan on making it through the locks they need to do so by January 15th. That’s when the locks close for the season until March.
Ken Gerasimos, Key Lakes/ Great Lakes Fleet, took this picture of the disengaged pair on Thursday.