Tregurtha departs for Marquette

The Paul R. Tregurtha departed Duluth on Wednesday morning, November 19, 2914 with 66,000 tons of coal for Presque Isle in Michigan. This was her 34th trip here this season; she was here 49 times last year.


  1. You’re welcome, Kelly. And, thanks to Jim, too. I assume discussion will pick up as we get closer to the end of the season.

  2. Brent R, Thaanks for the info,big help, Kelly

  3. Jim, that makes sense for the busier locks if you have to break the tows up so that passage could still be made with a single tug. You can also do the configuration where you leave out the center barge in the back and put the tug there instead. This obviously reduces your tow by one barge but then everything fits and you can lock through with the tow. Theoretically, you can fit a 17 barge tow through a long lock with the tug embedded in the tow. And, yes, where the river is wide with no sharp turns, you can do giant tows. Below the Ohio, you can get tows as big as 40 barges.

    Kelly, Poe is used everyday since it is the only lock capable of the passing the largest (Class 10) bulk carriers. I’m guessing you meant Sabin and Davis. Sabin is shutdown so it is no longer in use. Theoretically it is in preparation to replace Sabin and Davis with a second lock the size of Poe. However, money for this has never been allocated. Davis would only be useful for a ship that was too long for MacArthur but still narrow enough to pass through the 80′ wide limit on the Welland Canal. All of the salties can pass through MacArthur. The only ships that come to mind are the two tug barges I already mentioned (Joyce and Ken Boothe) where the barge alone will fit through a Welland lock but not with the tug attached. I have no idea if they actually use Davis for this or simply lock them through the larger Poe. These are the only two ships where it would be any advantage.

    The USACE lists them as:
    Sabin (North Canal – 80’W x 1350’L x 23’D) – Inactive with Coffer Cells
    Davis (North Canal – 80’W x 1350’L x 23’D) – Rarely Utilized
    Poe (South Canal – 110’ W x 1200’ L x 32’ D) Only lock capable of passing 1000’ Lakers, the Great Lake Fleets largest vessels
    MacArthur (South Canal – 80’W x 800’L x 29.5’ D) Active, passing smaller vessels

    There are also a few vessels (like fishing boats and pleasure craft) that pass through the small, Canadian lock but none of the freighters. I think theoretically you could pass the Bay class tugs through the Canadian lock.

  4. Brent, just a minor correction. On the Mississippi you don’t need two tugs to lock through. There is a mechanical “donkey” that pulls the barges out of the lock. Typical tows are 15 barges pushed by the tug. They are broken into 9 barges which are locked through and then the other 6 barges with the tug are locked through. They are then mated up again and continue on their way.

    • Occasionally you will see an extra barge go through the lock if there were 10 barges to go but normal up-river tow is 9 barges and the tow boat that pushes not tows. on the Columbia river you see more barges beside the tow boat. on the Columbia the locks are 85′ wide and 675′ long, on the Mississippi they are 100′ or 105′ wide and 600′ long. the barges out west I believe are wider.

  5. when is/was the last time the poe and sabin were used, and when will they be used again if ever??

  6. I see that Joyce L. Van Enkevort is also now in port. This is the tug that pushes the barge, Great Lakes Trader. This tug/barge has something in common with Ken Boothe Sr which pushes the barge, Lakes Contender.

    Joyce L Van Enkevort: 135′ x 50′; 10,200 HP
    Great Lakes Trader: 740′ x 78′; 39,600 HP

    Ken Boothe Sr: 135′ x 50′; 10,876 HP
    Lakes Contender: 740′ x 78′; 33,892 tons

    Notice that each barge is 740′ x 78′ which is the largest size that can pass through the Welland locks. Clearly this leaves no room for the tug to cycle with the barge. However, with the assistance of another tug, these barges could pass through the St. Lawrence Seaway system. These are the only two St. Lawrence maximum sized barges on the lakes. The combined length of these two tug/barges makes them Class 8.

  7. Let’s talk about locks for a minute.

    There are about 275 locks in the US which are operated by the US Army Corps of Engineers. These locks are normally sized for barges. This might come as a surprise to people who follow cargo ships up on the Great Lakes. However, there are some 26,000 barges currently in use within the US. And, moving these barges around are some 1,200 tugboats. A barge is 195′ long and 35′ wide. A short lock is 600′ x 110′. This lets you create a tow (raft) of barges that is three barges long (585′) and three barges wide (105′). Since this doesn’t leave room for the tug, you have to have a tug on both sides: one to push the tow in and the other to pull it out after the lock cycles. If you don’t want to deal with nine separate barges, there is a newer, jumbo barge that is 290 x 50. You can create a tow that is 4 x 4 that carries about the same weight. A long lock is 1200 x 110. A typical tow through a long lock is either 5×3 standard barges (975 x 105) or 3×2 jumbo barges (870 x 100).

    This means that Poe at Sioux St. Marie is the only standard, long lock in the entire Great Lakes system (Soo/Welland/St. Lawrence) and there are no standard short locks. The Welland Canal locks are 800′ long which is halfway in length between a short and long lock. This would be pretty good if it wasn’t for the width. These locks are only 80′ wide. The MacArthur lock at Sioux St. Marie is basically the same as the Welland locks. The Davis and Sabin locks are similar but much longer at 1350′.

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