Archives for April 2014

Convoy here, three at a time

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Above, the Hon James L. Oberstar came in at 12:20, April 30, 2014. Right behind her was the Cason J. Callaway, and then the Thunder Bay
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Mesabi Miner In

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Convoy Departs!

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The St Clair departed Duluth around noon on April 15, 2014 (above) to join the convoy forming off the Duluth piers to cross Lake Superior. She arrived in Duluth for winter layup on January 2, 2014. She left port yesterday at 6:15 am and I think went to anchor. She came back in at 5pm.
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The American Spirit also arrived for winter layup on January 2, 2014. When the Presque Isle returned to port with hull damage due to ice on April 3rd, at least some of her cargo of iron ore pellets was offloaded into the American Spirit. She left here on May 9th to load iron ore pellets in Two Harbors and then returned here later that day. Above, she is leaving Duluth early afternoon today to join the convoy.
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Convoy arrived!

20140414-102The convoy of boats led by US and Canadian ice breakers arrived in Duluth early Monday morning, April 14th, 2014. The Stewart J. Cort came under the Lift Bridge at 4:54 and went over to the BN to begin loading iron ore pellets. The St. Clair left port, under the Lift Bridge at 6:15 am, going to the anchorage to wait for the eastbound convoy. At 6:47, the CSL Tadoussac arrived followed by the Mackinaw an hour later. The Sam Laud, here to load iron ore pellets at the CN in Duluth, came under the bridge at 7:54.
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At noon on Monday, the St. Clair (above left) was at anchor and next to her, the Algoma Discovery (formerly the Daviken), waited to load iron ore pellets at the BN. And, the Mackinaw, having done her job, was at the DECC, perhaps relaxing for a couple moments.
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A season like no other

Click on any picture to see a larger version

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katmaibay20140409-080This is what I think, but don’t bet on it. The Presque Isle left here on March 22th with a partial load of pellets and I think loaded pellets at Two Harbors and then tried to get to the other end of Lake Superior but had ice trouble and came back here for repairs, arriving on March 29th still with her pellets. Some of those pellets were off loaded into the American Spirit, which had not yet left Duluth. She offloaded pellets to make repairs easier. The American Spirit left here on April 7th with pellets loaded from the Presque Isle. She went to Two Harbors to load pellets and then came back this morning (above) with both loads of pellets. To wait, I presume.
Back on March 24th the Mackinaw, Katmai Bay and Morro Bay arrived Duluth and left here on March 26th. Two days later, on March 28th, the Alder arrived Duluth with an ice-wounded Morro Bay lashed to her side with the Katmai Bay leading them under the Lift Bridge.
convoy Several days later, the Katmai Bay departed to return to ice breaking duties while the Morro Bay stayed here for repairs to her rudder. That happened early this week and she left but did not go very far away. The Katmai Bay returned to Duluth this morning, April 9th  (above), and the Morro Bay was back at the DECC with the Katmai Bay by late this afternoon.
Meanwhile at the other end of the Lake, late this afternoon, the Canadian ice breaker Pierre Radisson left the Soo leading a convoy of boats trying to get to Duluth (Click on the the map above). The Mackinaw was going to be with the convoy but as I write this, she was still at the Soo.
t1140981646LakeSuperior143250m-ps So here is my guess. When the convoy arrives here, perhaps on Thursday or Friday, we will have 5 ice breakers here, counting the Alder. All of a sudden, we will/may have a bunch of boats here to load cargo and then go back out to the lake, I would guess with the help of some of our flotilla of ice breakers. And presumably the American Spirit came back and is waiting to be a part of that convey. Or Not!
You can find the satellite images here: http://coastwatch.glerl.noaa.gov/index.html Just click on MODIS Imagery; Great Lakes MODIS True Color; and then select the lake you want, such as Superior

Spring has sprung again, maybe

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The American Spirit departed Duluth in the early afternoon today (April 7, 2014). She is the former George A. Stinson, originally built for the National Steel Corporation in 1978. When the Presque Isle returned to port on March 29 for repairs to damage from ice on Lake Superior, her cargo was offloaded into the American Spirit the next day. She left port today with that taconite still with her. She will complete a full cargo in Two Harbors.

Ice is hurting my work from the early 60’s

No14_blast_furnaceGWpsThis year’s ice is probably the biggest news event to happen here in the 18 years I have been doing the Duluth Shipping News. The implications to the outside world are becoming severe. That is a little harder for us to see here since we see nothing, no boat traffic. The US Steel Company, at the other end of the pipe, sees a lack of iron ore pellets they need to make steel.
They just announced they are curtailing operations at their Gary, Indiana steel works because of the lack of iron ore pellets coming from Lake Superior ports. That is the first time in 30 years they have done that.
Great Lakes Fleet, located in Duluth, and formerly the Pittsburgh Steamship Company, uses their entire fleet to take iron ore pellets from Great Lakes ports to Gary, Indiana. That includes the Arthur M. Anderson,  Cason J. Callaway, Edgar B. Speer, Edwin H. Gott, Great Republic, John G. Munson, Philip R. Clarke, Presque Isle and Roger Blough.
blast_furnace_tappsLittle did I know when I was working at a research plant in Pittsburgh in the early 60’s,  developing machines to pelletize iron ore on the Iron Range that ice problems in Duluth would delay shipment of my pellets. Well, not exactly my pellets; I worked on the lowest rung of the labor force there (Dravo Corporation) but when not cleaning the floor, I  was given a new recipe to mix iron ore, limestone and other stuff we (they) were experimenting with. I then climbed the steps to the top of a platform where I carefully poured my (their) latest mix into the ball mill. Most days, pellets came out the other end which created my first task for the next day, testing them for strength by breaking them one at a time. My results were then given to people who actually knew what they were doing and several hours later, they handed me that day’s recipe.
Of course, because of my work there, when there is no ice, the pellets are strong and stay pellets from the ball mill on the Iron Range until the blast furnace in Gary.
Now you ask, “Ken, why pellets.”
Direct from Wikipedia: The configuration of iron ore pellets as packed spheres in the blast furnace allows air to flow between the pellets, decreasing the resistance to the air that flows up through the layers of material during the smelting. The configuration of iron ore powder in a blast furnace is more tightly-packed and restricts the air flow. This is the reason that iron ore is preferred in the form of pellets rather than in the form of finer particles.
I couldn’t have said it better.
(Images of the inside and outside of a blast furnace, from US Steel, Pittsurgh, PA)