Mesabi Miner In




  1. Eliot Haycock says:

    Anyone think the Ryerson or American Victory laid up in Superior for a number of years could be pressed into service to pick up the slack?

  2. What’s this strong northeast wind doing to the lake ice outside Duluth?

    Will this be a repeat of 1984 or 1971 when there was miles of “Slurpee” brash ice outside the entrance?

  3. It won’t be long before the freighters will be able to travel without convoys and shipping on the lakes will become routine. At that point, there won’t be much to talk about. However, today, there are still interesting going on.

    The MacArthur Lock is open. I’m not sure exactly when it opened but it is clearly being used now. Here, we see Cedar Glen leaving the lock. So, the Soo Locks are up to full capacity for shipping.

    When I looked at the tracks for Mackinaw and Radisson, they didn’t make sense. Then I realized that they had done a hand-off. Radisson was steaming west from Whitefish Bay and handed off her six ships to Mackinaw and picked up Mackinaw’s three ships heading east. Then Mackinaw returned west while Radisson returned to Whitefish Bay. In the radio track, Madisson’s route out from Whitefish and back is clearly visible.

    As expected, Alder is leading the four ships from Marquette east towards Whitefish. However, what was not expected was that Ken Boothe left the convoy and steamed south towards Marquette without an escort. This suggests that Boothe has a bit tougher hull than the four ships that were there.

    In the St Marys River, the western channel is not open yet. This again means that the freighters cannot be fully loaded or they risk grounding in the eastern channel. However, they are working on it. In this image we can see that the Coast Guard ship, Buckthorn, was in the area and that the Army Corps of Engineers ship, Owen M Fredrick, is in the western channel.

    This track seemed really puzzling.
    St Clair is supposed to be heading for Silver Bay, Arthur Anderson for Two Harbors, and James Oberstar for Superior. Yet, instead of turning south, they went north. Apparently, the wind is blowing over 30mph and they are seeking shelter either behind Isle Royale or perhaps inside Thunder Bay. I assume that the wind would be less of a problem if these ships were loaded. But, taking wind from the side in an unloaded ship is not such a good idea. I suppose this is one more indication that shipping is not always routine.

    • I do not see the Frontenac anywhere on AIS even though it is scheduled to arrive in Duluth this AM. I suppose ice or wind has something to do with this.

      • She was stopped at a dock in Thunder Bay as of 18:02 UTC.
        Shipping Schedule says due to wind.

        • My bad I didn’t do the close up to see her in TB, I see there has been a scatter on the convoy some headed to TB and looks like the rest headed to Duluth.

        • Can understand how wind could be keeping them in its blowing to 30 here 200 miles south of the big lake and raining horizontally!! Am sure its blowing up there too can see waves in the inner harbor. Wind like that will move some ice and pile it up. Its not blowing as hard as the night Big Fitz went down but it will still cause problems I am sure.

            I hope it’s ok to refer to other sites I’m not savvy on web copyright . But Dennis has a fantastic photo today showing what wind can do with ice in a canal.

          • Gord Campbell says:

            I rather suspect that those two vessels were on the standby list as there might not be a loading dock available. What ever weather you got on land its two to three times worse on the water especially when gusting winds are involved. The ships you mentioned were running deadhead no cargo, and they probably began dumping bilge earlier. Even then there are some areas of Lake Superior where its hard to set anchor. Ships don’t like to drag anchors. That’s when they break and get lost on the bottom. Them things are damned expensive. There are some salvage operators that specialize in recovering anchors. So its better to put the ship into open waters into the wind on Dead Slow.

  4. Is the Superior entrance blocked with ice? It seems as if all ships are entering under the Duluth bridge.

  5. This shows the Mackinaw and Radisson convoys passing each other around 9pm eastern last night:

    This is Risley’s track from yesterday and this morning. She has been busy breaking ice in Whitefish Bay.

    This image show how quickly things are moving now. You can see Radisson in the upper left leading her three ships into Whitefish Bay. You can see that only Walter McCarthy is up by Ile Parisienne. Saginaw and Cason Calloway are farther south in the bay. H Lee White, Ken Booth, and Federal Elbe are at the first bend of the St Marys River. In the lower right, you can see Baie St Paul and Whitefish Bay steaming up the St Marys River towards the locks, presumably hoping to catch the next convoy out with Radisson. I’m reminded of someone hurrying to catch a bus. Those last two would make eight ships.

    In this one from a little later, you can see the six freighters formed up into a line behind Radisson. The convoy is now steaming north at 9 knots. Down in the river you can see Baie St Paul and Whitefish Bay moving up towards the bay. St Paul is the last ship assigned to the 7th convoy. Whitefish Bay is the 1st ship assigned to the 8th convoy.

    At the top of the Keweenaw peninsula, we can see Alder waiting with three eastbound ships and Mackinaw approaching with her convoy of eight ships. My guess would be that one of these two Coast Guard ships will lead a convoy back to Whitefish Bay and the other one will head south to Marquette.

    There are currently only three ships waiting for an eastbound convoy. Indiana Harbor and American Century are steaming in that direction but the convoy may not wait that long.

    • My previous comment on current ship movements is awaiting moderation. I’ve read some of the Coast Guard documents that were published today. The convoys have officially been expanded to eight ships and renumbered.

      Radisson’s current convoy is #6 and both the freighters, Baie St Paul and Whitefish Bay, are assigned to it.

      So, let’s look at the next ships in line.

      7) Maple Glen (lower St Marys River, heading up)
      7) Thunder Bay (lower St Marys River, heading up)
      7) Baie Comeau (upper Huron, moving towards St Marys)
      7) Pine Glen (upper Huron)
      7) Federal Nakagawa (waiting in lower St Marys River)
      7) Tadoussac (upper Lake Huron)
      7) Federal Rideau (upper Lake Huron)
      7) Federal Danube (upper Lake Huron)

      8) Federal Satsuki (upper Lake Huron)
      8) Algowood (St Marys River, near locks)
      8) Algomarine (St Marys, near locks)
      8) Federal Miramichi (lower Lake Huron)
      8) Luebbert (lower Lake Huron)
      8) Federal Ems (lower Lake Huron)
      8) Federal Shimanto (Burns Harbor, Indiana)
      8) Algoma Transport (upper Huron)

      If you wanted to read these documents yourself, they are on the Coast Guard home page for the port of Sault Sainte Marie:
      They are in the lower right were it says:
      Coast Guard Unit Information

      It appears that neither Morro Bay nor Bristol Bay are assigned to Operation Taconite. I assume this means that Bristol Bay is using her special barge to set out navigation buoys.

      Alder is assigned to go to Marquette and escort the ships to the Soo locks.

      Risley is assigned to the St Marys River above the locks, Katmai Bay to the St Marys below the locks, Hollyhock and Biscayne Bay to the Mackinac Straits, Mobile Bay to Green Bay, and Neah Bay is down for maintenance.

  6. The satellite image from today shows that the ice in Superior is rapidly deteriorating. But it is still heavy enough in places to cause problems (like Marquette).

    Peter gets his wish. Alder worked inside the harbor today and then left at about 12:30pm eastern time on the Superior side. I guess we’ll have to wait and see where she is going. You can see the freighter, Indiana Harbor, in port at Silver Bay which is up the coast from Two Harbors. You can also see Algoma Equinox heading up for a return to Whitefish.

    This is probably one of the cutest images this season but also one of the most telling. There were only three ships ready near the top of the Keweenaw peninsula so Radisson’s eastbound convoy is small. However, Mackinaw has eight freighters following her like a line of ducklings.

    Let’s look over Mackinaw’s convoy in terms of convoy slots:

    5 Kaministiqua
    5 Fontenac
    5 Edwin H Gott
    5 Hon James L Oberstar
    5 Ojibway

    6 Arthur Anderson
    6 American Courage
    6 St Clair

    So Mackinaw not only took the five ships in the #5 convoy but also three of the ships in #6 leaving only three ships in Whitefish Bay. This jump in the schedule has left the next in-line ships scrambling hard to move up into position.

    6 Walter J McCarthy (Whitefish Bay by Ile Parisienne)
    6 Cason Calloway (lower Whitefish Bay, moving up)

    7 Ken Booth (lower Whitefish Bay, moving up)
    7 Saginaw (moving up St Marys River from locks)
    7 H Lee White (moving up St Marys River from locks)
    7 Federal Elbe (approaching locks from downstream)
    7 Baie St Paul (lower St Marys River, heading up)

    8 Whitefish Bay (lower St Marys River, heading up)
    8 Thunder Bay (mid Huron, steaming north)
    8 Maple Glen (mid Huron, steaming north)
    8 Baie Comeau (mid Huron, steaming north)
    8 Pine Glen (lower Huron, steaming north)

    9 Federal Rideau (lower Huron, steaming north)

    We can see that if Radisson wanted to escort eight ships, two of these are now in the lower St Marys River. The logjam seems to have broken.

    Other than the four ships still trapped in Marquette, there must be some very, very happy freighter captains this evening.

    Today’s east and west bound convoys are doing well. This is a radio track of Radisson’s convoy heading west. They will reach the top of the Keweenaw peninsula at about 10 pm eastern which is 13 hours after they left Whitefish Point. It’s 150 miles so they’ve made about 10 knots. That is excellent time. The Mackinaw convoy should reach Whitefish Point about an hour later. The total distance down to Duluth is about 350 miles, I think. That’s about 31 hours total steaming. Not too long ago, we were having 5 days steaming in one direction. A day and a half is much better.

    I can see Lee Tregurtha and American Integrity waiting east of Isle Royale. I’m still wondering though when Radisson is going to port. Admittedly, Radisson probably has twice the range of Mackinaw. Even while breaking ice, she can probably go 3,500 miles and that would be a lot of trips across Superior. And, for Mackinaw, there are 8 freighters waiting in Whitefish to go west.

    • There is huge political pressure in Canada to get grain out of Thunder Bay ASAP. I would think the only relief for the Radisson would come from another boat, as to not slow down shipping progress. Maybe once the Martha Black is done in Thunder Bay? How much longer until those Salties sitting N of Sarnia figure it is safe to go? Also what has The Alder been up to and where does she go next? She has been sitting in Duluth for a couple of days hasn’t she?

      I guess the Coast Guard knew what they were doing getting that direct shipping lane open, although it seem painfully slow early in the week. They are making pretty good time now.

      • You thanked me for my posts earlier, so I wanted to say that you’re welcome.

        This is Martha Black’s radio track April 25.
        She left the dock at 7:39am eastern and returned at 7:08pm. So, they were breaking ice for over 11 hours.

        When you are breaking ice, it is hard for the crew to get any sleep because of the grinding noise and vibration. One person described it as a 24 hour earthquake. If you are down at night or you are running in open water then the crew can sleep. The reason to go to port is refuel or provisions. Apparently, Radisson has enough because they have not gone to port yet. In contrast, we see Mackinaw heading to port now in Sault Sainte Marie.

        On April 22, there were 70 ships waiting to get through the Soo locks. But, since these need convoys, the Coast Guard has been making convoy assignments. The convoy that Radisson just dropped off at the top of the Keweenaw peninsula (Burns Harbor, Indiana Harbor, Asssiniboine, American Century, Robert Pierson) was convoy number 4. These convoy assignments were made two weeks ago. So, let’s see what is scheduled for Thunder Bay and where the ships are now.

        5) Kaministiqua (Whitefish Bay)
        Ojibway (Whitefish Bay)

        6) None

        7) Federal Elbe (lower St Marys River)
        Saginaw (upper Lake Huron)

        8) Maple Glen (Sarnia, upper St Clair River)
        Pine Glen (Sarnia)
        Baie Comeau (Sarnia)

        9) Tadoussac (Sarnia)
        Federal Nakagawa (upper Lake Michigan)
        Federal Rideau (lower Lake Huron)
        Federal Danube (lower Lake Huron)
        Federal Satsuki (lower Lake Huron)

        10) Federal Shimanto (Burns Harbor, Indiana)
        Federal Miramichi (lower Lake Huron)
        Luebbert (lower Lake Huron)
        Federal Ems (Detroit River)
        Algowood (lower St Marys River)

        Alder’s main job once the ice is gone is to set out the navigation buoys with her crane. Right now, I assume they are keeping her near Duluth to break ice if we get a strong wind from the north that causes ice to pile up near the harbor. I’m not sure what other job she could do right now unless they sent her all the way back to Marquette like they did to retrieve Mesabi Miner.

  8. This is a good day. We can see that Radisson is escorting a new convoy westward. It consists of Burns Harbor, Indiana Harbor, American Century, Assiniboine, and Robert Pierson. We can also see that Risley is helping the three freighters that spent last night in the ice into Whitefish Bay.

    Mackinaw already has three ships trailing: Paul Tregurtha, Henry Jackman, and Algoma Enterprise. Mackinaw is only moving at about 1 knot so it may be intended that Roger Blough and James Barker catch up.

    In Thunder Bay, Martha Black is hard at work, busting ice. We can also see that Tecumseh is heading out.

    Here we see Lee Tregurtha and American Integrity steaming up the coast past Two Harbors.

    There are 8 freighters in Whitefish Bay and two on the upstream side of the locks.

    We have 10 freighters in convoy. We also have three freighters moving to form up between Isle Royale and the top of the Keweenaw peninsula. We have freighters downbound in Whitefish Bay and more waiting to head west. It now seems like shipping is finally moving on Lake Superior.

  9. Roger Blough and Great Republic are heading out of Duluth. Republic is on her way to Two Harbors. However, Blough will presumably join Paul Tregurtha and Algoma Enterprise for a return convoy. James Barker and Lee Tregurtha could possibly join too.

    That makes sense. However, I have not yet been able to make sense of Radisson’s convoy.
    I would expect the three ships to be following in a line behind Radisson. Instead, they have left Radisson’s track and are heading towards the coast. I guess we’ll have to keep watching.

    • Thing that strikes me as remarkable here is the Equinox – she has been traveling alone with no escort, virtually all the way from Whitefish Bay, and appears to be in the clear now, destination listed as Two Harbors. Wonder if that new ship is better in ice, very impressive!
      Capt Henry Jackman came from the west (Thunder Bay?) by itself as well to the waiting Mackinaw (to go to Whitefish Bay). Curious to see if those 2 will wait for PRT / Enterprise / Blough / maybe Lee A Tregurtha, or keep moving east. They currently look to be slowing to a stop.

      • Actually, Equinox was part of the Mackinaw convoy from Whitefish Bay. However, as Peter mentioned below, four of the ships were going to Marquette. So, when Mackinaw veered southward toward Marquette, Equinox remained behind at roughly 50 miles WNW of Whitefish Point. Then as Radisson came by with an eastbound convoy, Equinox moved perhaps 15 miles alone to intersect their course. The difficult parts of this were made at a speed between 3 and 5 knots. Equinox then followed their track westward. That works if the track is not quickly closing up.

        Henry Jackman came from Two Harbors which is just up the coast from Duluth. Great Republic is in Two Harbors right now. There is also Silver Bay and Taconite Harbor farther up the coast. Those three along with Duluth/Superior are close to the iron mines which stretch NE from Grand Rapids (Mesabi Range).

      Well, that mystery is solved. Apparently the three freighters didn’t want to try to navigate through the crowded bay in the dark. And, since the wind is blowing about 10mph to the west, they didn’t want to drift. So, they moved south to ground themselves in the unmoving ice near the coast.

      However, the three northernmost ships in the bay are also edging northward. They are moving at speeds of less than 2 knots. These ships are probably just moving up to make more room behind them.

      And here:
      You can see a return convoy forming up in western Superior. At the moment this looks like it will be: Henry Jackman, Algoma Enterprise, Paul Tregurtha, Roger Blough, and James Barker.

      There were already five other freighters in western Superior: Radcliffe Latimer and Tecumseh in Thunder Bay; Lee Tregurtha and American Integrity in Duluth; and Great Republic in Two Harbors. So, the just arrived Algoma Equinox makes six. This suggests that a return convoy will be ready when the next westbound convoy arrives. It’s roughly 200 miles from Duluth to the top of the Keweenaw peninsula. So, if you can average 12.5 mph, it still takes 16 hours of steaming.

    • Gord Campbell says:


      Its all weather related.

  10. It looks like the Radisson with Mesabi Miner, Algosteel, and Algoma Olympic are making a run at Manito Island headed ESE at about 8 kn headed for the Soo locks. And there’s a whole raft of ships lined up and waiting the way it looks to come to Duluth, Superior, Thunder Bay, and other hot spots in between.

  11. Does the Baie St. Paul qualified as being the first saltwater vessel in Port this year as I am sure it being a new vessel in 2012 if there wasn’t availability of freight locally that they probably ran it all winter to other ports. Of course I may just be splitting hairs here

    • Actually in addition almost any of the Canadian ships that work beyond the Welland Canal I believe if they traveled to foreign ports would qualify them on their return to the upper Great Lakes as Salties, unless the term salty is only used for ships that do not do local trade i.e. from thunder Bay or Duluth to other ports in the Great Lakes.

        I count 13 freighters in Whitefish Bay. There are two more at the locks and one coming up the St Marys River. That’s 16 ships. They seem to expect that they will be able to leave the bay soon.

        This is probably the reason for their optimism:
        Radisson is escorting three ships and is approaching Whitefish Point right now.

        I’m not quite sure what Mackinaw has in mind. She is approaching the tip of the Keweenaw peninsula:

        This image should show what is going on:
        Mackinaw escorted four ships to Marquette. The only one showing here is Kaye Barker. Henry Jackman continued west using the track made by Radisson as she passed. Algoma Equinox has left Thunder Bay and is now at the top of the Keweenaw peninsula heading east toward Whitefish. Paul Tregurtha is coming up from Duluth and Algoma Enterprise is also coming out from Thunder Bay. To be honest, I’m not sure what Martha Black is doing. She’s been in port for over 12 hours. Equinox and Enterprise left without her assistance. However, she did have a pretty good run from Quebec so maybe she’ll be breaking ice tomorrow.

        My guess would be that Radisson will bring another group back west. I don’t know if they plan to go to port first; Radisson has been working for awhile now. She might need to refuel and take on supplies. Mackinaw might be planning to escort Algoma Equinox east or she might be planning to create a better track west of the top of the Keweenaw peninsula. Or she might be planning wait for Tregurtha and Enterprise. The good news is that this is the first time this season where it looks like we could get a steady movement of ships across Lake Superior.

      • Gord Campbell says:

        No. Again. The only regular ship owner that operates internationally is the Federal group. You can’t miss a Salty in comparison to a bulk laker. The bow is more streamlined to plough through waves in the middle of the ocean.

        I surveyed all the waiting ships as best I could. The earliest Salty listed for the American Lakehead is the Olza now steaming north up through St. Clair. I probably missed one.

        Most of the salties listed for Thunder Bay are moored just north of Sarnia, Ontario. The Lubie was the first salty to the Lakeheads but after it discharged the load of sugar into Toronto it was diverted Milwaukee.

        Most salties have a rake bow above the water line and a big old bulb bow under. They also have deck cranes to load and unload ship at plain docks.

        Usually most lake vessels have some ice capability. Despite that several lakers have been holed due to ice already. Salty owners are loathe to put their ships at risk until the ice conditions on Lake Superior improve.

    • Gord Campbell says:

      No. CSL classes Baie St. Paul as a Laker.

      Usually, the salties ship grain and are more likely to head to the Canadian Lakehead. Two salties were diverted from going to Thunder Bay as owners picked up alternative cargos in light of the serious ice conditions on Superior.

      • I thought that was probably the case but with the number of ships that the Canadian carriers have that work beyond the Welland Canal you can never tell how they will look at them.

        • Gord Campbell says:

          Yes some of the modern lakers do run down the American Coast. The Jackman has been in the Caribbean I believe. But these are special loads and not transoceanic trips. They are also restricted to offloading in third world ports. They have no cranes. Unless the destination has loading cranes or a cargo the backhaul is all deadhead.

          Lakers are usually specific bulk carriers. Tonnes of wheat, iron ore, gravel. Whereas salty’s carry bulk one trip, engine parts or containers the next.

          On the great lakes with the shorter wavelengths the lakers are more efficient through the water. On the Ocean the hull shapes of the Salties are far more durable.

  12. For those of you who are not watching the radio track, this is amazing.

    Martha Black and the five freighters have passed into open water southeast of Isle Royale. Martha and Tecumseh are heading for Thunder Bay; the other four appear to be heading down the coast towards the Duluth area. That is to be expected.

    Here is the amazing part. Radisson has stopped at the top of the Keweenaw peninsula. There are now three freighters from the last convoy steaming northeast towards Radisson. These are Mesabi Miner, Algosteel, and Algoma Olympic. But, even more amazing is that Mackinaw is now leading five freighters WNW from Whitefish Point by herself. These are: Algoma Equinox, Herbert Jackson, Michipicoten, Kaye Barker, and Victory. The tail of the convoy is perhaps 20 miles from the point. They are moving about 8 knots. This seems to be awfully gutsy to do alone, but perhaps it’s because with Radisson waiting, Mackinaw can get assistance. Or, maybe it’s even better than that. What if Radisson intends to hand off the eastbound freighters to Mackinaw and Mackinaw will hand off the westbound to Radisson? This would allow Radisson to get to port before the next convoy and allow Mackinaw to get back to Whitefish for another five.

    This could be a winning strategy.

    • Here’s the radio track showing where everyone is.

      • Brent,

        Thank you for your ongoing commentary. I am a rookie to the Great Lakes shipping game and my sole interest was to see boats leave Thunder Bay full of grain. I learned about the radio a couple of weeks ago and am hooked. I new something cool or crazy was happening when the Radisson stopped moving this afternoon and the Mackinaw made a run for it. It looks like four of the five in her convoy are headed for Marquette, so maybe they are all meeting there? I never knew Great Lakes shipping was so cool.

    • Gord Campbell says:

      The CGS Mackinaw led Marquette bound convoy stalled out for the night. Radisson still waits at the tip of Keweenaw for three downbound vessels out of American Lakehead. Mary L. Black arrives Thunder Bay.

      The Western part of Lake Superior seems to be loosening up just in time for tomorrow’s blizzard. The eastern half ice is losing hardness and thickness. Strong southerly winds due for Thursday should push those floes away from the south shore.

  13. There is a little bit of activity. The Army Corps of Engineers tug, Own Frederick, was over by the MacArthur lock. Perhaps inspecting it. This was the same tug that was down by the west channel yesterday. I noticed the Coast Guard buoy tender, Buckthorne, was also out of port in Sault Sainte Marie.

    Surprisingly, there are freighters steaming up the St Marys River: Kaministiqua, Arthur Anderson, Frontenac, Ojibway, and James Oberstar. With American Century, this will put six ships downstream of the lock. There are things going on upstream of the lock. Burns Harbor is headed up the St. Marys to Whitefish Bay. There are six other freighters already in the bay. However, Mackinaw steamed up with the pusher tug, Victory. This tug normally pushes the self-unloading barge, James L Kuber, which carries about the same load as Arthur Anderson. So, that would be eight freighters in the bay. I wouldn’t think that Mackinaw could escort a convoy by herself so I assume she is just going to break a track north so that the freighters can line up better next to Ile Parisienne. That’s 14 ships plus you have Algowood and Algomarine still down in the lower St Marys and you Federal Elbe now approaching in Huron. Okay, so 17 ships now waiting for escort. And, even if Radisson brings back five, that will still leave two ships in Duluth. Unless they do more double convoys, I don’t see how this is going to work.

    • Great coverage, Brent and others. It’s been real interesting reading.

      One thing to consider in all this is the weather. The winds have generally been light to heavy out of the northwest the last few days. Now there is a strong band of southeast wind coming, it’s currently running from around the Cities northwest and contains winds up to 25 MPH over land in areas.

      As this band moves northeast it could start moving ice on the lake and close up the north shore passage. Every time the wind changes it blows the ice on the lake against the opposite shore, seeming to loose a little each time.

      If this comes to pass the north shore might be a very bad place for a ship to be with all the ice coming in and it could be that the Radisson / Black convoy may be trying to make the shortest run to their destinations, almost down the normal shipping lanes.

      The face of this wind is just southwest of Duluth right now and moving northeast. This wind will probably hit the lake tonight or tomorrow.

      All just guesses.

  14. Shipping status is not a simple concept this morning. The radio coverage was spotty but it looked to me like Katmai Bay broke out the western channel next to Neebish Island yesterday. There was also an Army Corps of Engineers tug at the head of the channel but I’m not sure what the operation was. The ships that were having problems have moved out. Algoma Equinox has moved up the St Marys into Whitefish Bay and Presque Isle is now in Lake Erie and heading east.

    It’s 150 miles from Whitefish Point to the top of the Keweenaw peninsula.The Radisson/Martha convoy steamed for 14 hours yesterday and traveled 75 miles. At one point, Radisson spent two hours slamming the ice northward before giving up and heading east. I’m not sure that they chose the best route. Hopefully, they can make better time today.

    There are five ships waiting in Whitefish Bay. The Michipicoten has just joined. Kaye Barker is docked upstream of the locks and Burns Harbor is just downstream of the locks. Algowood and Algomarine are in the lower St Marys. American Century is something of a surprise. She steamed up the St Marys and passed through the locks, then turned around and is now heading back down the river.

    Neah and Mobile are working Green Bay. Presumably Mobile is still breaking ice and is therefore not pushing the barge yet. I’m seeing an increasing number of ferries such as Emerald Island running out to Beaver Island. I’m also seeing more private tug service. Manitou is apparently escorting Prentice Brown which visited Port Medusa.

    I’m not sure what is going on with Mesabi Miner. She is steaming NE up the coast toward Thunder Bay. She is moving at about 6 knots which suggests that she is concerned about ice. I don’t know if a return convoy is going to form up in Thunder or what. There are currently two ships in Thunder Bay so Mesabi would be a third. It looks like Algosteel is also heading in that direction. There are other ships in Duluth/Superior that could join a return convoy but even if five ships return, the volume will still be lagging.

    The truth is that there could be two dozen ships in Whitefish Bay today if there was anyplace to go. Biscayne Bay is also in the lower St Marys. Clearly these ships desperately need escort but I’m not sure where it would come from. I suppose theoretically Mackinaw and Katmai (and possibly Biscayne) could escort some ships but they would have to pick a better route than the previous convoy, assuming one is possible. I guess we’ll have to see if anything can be done.

    • One obvious correct. Radisson headed west, not east. The Radisson convoy seems to have speeded up. They may be moving as much as 12 knots now. Mesabi is even more confusing. She just did a complete loop and is now heading SW in the opposite direction. Meanwhile, Algosteel continues NE up the coast and is about halfway to Two Harbors. I assume we’ll eventually figure out what Mesabi is up to.

  15. The ships are anchored waiting to go up the St Mary’s River. The Coast Guard is moving the ship’s up the river and staging them in Whitefish Bay as quickly as they can.

  16. Anybody know why all those ships are anchored east of Mackinaw? Ice?

    • Gord Campbell says:

      All over the place. Ice up the yin yang. Ship owners aren’t moving these ships up the St. Mary’s river just in case an alternative cargo becomes available ie MV Tim S. Dool, MV Lubie.

      • The ships are anchored waiting to go up the St Mary’s River. The Coast Guard is moving the ship’s up the river and staging them in Whitefish Bay as quickly as they can.

  17. Gord Campbell says:

    0845am – June 22
    The very next up bound convoy with Radisson and Black now getting underway.

    • Radisson was at the head of the convoy last night so I figured they planned to head out this morning. And, apparently Martha is wanted for ice-breaking in Thunder Bay. Of course, one would assume that Radisson could break ice there as well. I’ve seen reports that the ice is 36-40″ in the bay. That would require a breaker of the size of Mackinaw which Martha Black is. And, Radisson is even larger.

      The obvious question is why Mackinaw is not joining this convoy. I suppose if I had to guess then I’d say she is going to break out the western channel by Neebish Island today. Katmai Bay is in the St Marys River but may not be heavy enough to clear the ice.

      Some may have heard that the US Coast Guard has concluded Operation Coal Shovel. This is the general ice-breaking plan for the St Lawrence Seaway, Lake Ontario, Welland Canal, Lake Erie, St Clair River, Lake St Clair, Detroit River, and the southern half of both Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. During the colder months before the locks opened, the bulk of this activity was on the three lakes without locks, Michigan, Huron, and Erie. What is continuing is Operation Taconite which is upper Lake Michigan from Green Bay across the Mackinaw Straits to upper Huron, the St Marys River and Lake Superior.

      It will be interesting to see the route that Radisson takes. The satellite images seem to show very heavy ice east of Caribou. I suppose if it was me I might try heading straight west and then north but staying far enough east to avoid the pack ice near the top of the Keweenaw Peninsula. It wasn’t that long ago that Radisson and Mackinaw had to ram the ice to get into Whitefish Bay. Now, the satellite shows an open area from Ile Parisienne all the way out to Superior.

      So, just when it looked like the convoys were going to become routine, the last convoy got bogged down for an entire day in the ice. And we have close to 50 ships that want to traverse Lake Superior. I’m not sure what it is going to take to improve things. I heavy storm could help break up some of the ice. High winds could push the ice over in one direction and open up more water. And, as long as the temperature is above freezing, the ice does melt. I might have expected a more aggressive approach with perhaps Des Groseilliers coming up and then running two convoys. But, today, we are still dealing with the logjam of a single, five-ship convoy. Well, let’s hope that no other ship gets damaged and that they make the passage without getting bogged down again.

      • Gord Campbell says:

        Brent, you are in love with the satellite stuff. However if you read last night’s ice report from the Canadian Ice Services.

        You can see what the route is going to be… In another hour or so they will veer right about 18 – 25 about 290 degrees wnw starboard on a heading that will catch that good ice just north of the Keweenaw then turn on a course about 270 on after clearing the peninsula and make for a point about 20nm SW of Isle Royale where the convoy will split with the two vessels Black and Tecumseh going to Thunder Bay and the rest heading for the American Lakehead.

        As for the Radisson, I don’t know she will have to resupply and bunker pretty soon. Likely as you said in Thunder Bay.

        According to Boatnerd the DesGroseilliers is headed for home down the St. Lawrence. It has to get ready for the Arctic season in four weeks. Unlike down south here in the tropics, the arctic has no roads in or out and must depend on summer shipping to bring in the lion’s part of the annual supply.

        It is a slight possibility that the Risley will take a turn or so on convoy as the St Mary’s river ice is finally loosening up. The Radisson might turn back at Isle Royale and it might be joined by the Mackinaw on the next convoy. Of course, there is the matter of setting out the navigation markers now which is getting to be a priority on every other seaway route except Superior.

        • The Canadian Ice Services report shows the same thing I saw with the satellite images. I guess if it was me I would have stayed in the P band until I was clear of the I zone ice and then at roughly north of Grand Island, headed NW to clear Keweenaw. However, I see that Radisson is taking a course of 307 degrees well to the east of Au Sable Point and West Bay. And that will take them right through the I zone.

          You are correct about navigation buoys. Now that Operation Coal Shovel is concluded, I assume Mobile Bay and Bristol Bay will hook up to the operations barges that include cranes for setting buoys. Hollyhock will be needed for this as well. This means that presumably the spare ships are the four Bays that do not have the barges: Katmai, Biscayne, Neah, and Morro. From the looks of things, one of these is going to be needed in Green Bay and another is still going to have to work the Straits. That means only one or two Bays that could possibly help in Superior.

    • The five ships are Paul R Tregurtha, James R Barker, American Integrity, Lee A Tregurtha, and Tecumseh. Of these five ships, Paul, Barker, and Integrity are giants. The arrival of any giant in Duluth is always impressive. However, those in Duluth are anticipating the arrival of Paul Tregurtha for another reason. She has a distinctive whistle. In the past, this whistle has been echoed by the Lift Bridge Master and even by other ships. It has not yet been mentioned but the arrival of the Paul is big event for ship watchers. Whether or not we get to share in this is not known. It depends on the time of the day and the weather and it would have to be recorded on video to hear the whistle. It is one more thing to hope for.

    • Katmai Bay is heading north up the western channel. I wonder if she intends to break the ice out by herself.

  18. Nice picture. I lucked out and was able to catch her on the harbor cam as she came in.

    Did she have some problems last night as she approached Duluth?

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