John G. Munson departs Duluth

After spending the winter at the Fraser Shipyards, the John G. Munson loaded iron ore pellets at the CN Dock in West Duluth. She is seen here departing with the first cargo of the new season, taking it down to Gary. She left at 5:29 pm on Monday, March 23rd, almost a week later than our usual first departure.


  1. Mackinaw is now about 5 miles north of the Point with Gott and Blough halted about 3 miles NE of the Point. Mackinaw is only about 2 miles from Alder but they are having to back and ram. This explains why Alder and Munson had to stop last night.

    Mackinaw has closed to within 1 mile of Alder. Gott is still halted so I assume the track isn’t wide enough yet.

    • Mackinaw headed back down SE toward the freighters and is presumably widening the track. Alder is trying to back and ram. I’ve seen them moving in five different directions. Right now it’s like an equilateral triangle with Munson as the lower left corner, Mackinaw as the lower right corner and Alder at the top. There’s about six miles separation from Alder to Munson to Mackinaw.

      Munson has started moving. They were heading NW but have veered to the right and are now heading NE. They seem to be moving at a good pace at the moment so they aren’t in thick ice like Alder.

      It’s not a triangle anymore. Munson has almost reached Mackinaw’s track. Alder is still trying to make progress. Mackinaw is still working, widening the track and they are in heavy ice, moving less than 4 knots.

  2. This afternoon it was one in the poe and one at the pier, the Mackinaw above, now its two at the pier and one of the Bays in the Poe. What is the music they play for this kind of musical chairs ?? Really, they backed both of the big boys out of the Poe and down the pier???? AIS confirms two on the Pier. I was thinking the cameras were on reverse or something. Last year i could hear conversations between the locks and the captains of ships any help for me where that audio traffic was and is it there now ??

    • Looks like Mackinaw escorted Edwin Gott up the St Marys to Whitefish Bay. Gott is only a couple of miles behind Mackinaw. Roger Blough has cycled through Poe right now (2:13am Eastern). So, Gott was first through and Blough is second.

      I don’t know how bad the ice is above the lock; if it isn’t bad then Blough will presumably steam up the river and park behind Gott. However, Mackinaw is going to have a break out a siding area (probably near Ile Parisienne) so that the up bound ships can move out of the track and give room for the down bound ships to pass.

      • Mackinaw hasn’t stopped to break out a siding area. Mackinaw is now only 6 miles miles from Alder which is stationary. Mackinaw is steaming directly towards them at 11 knots with Gott and Blough following with 2 mile separation. This should get interesting very soon.

        I see that Mesabi Miner has returned to Duluth. And, surprisingly, Edgar Speer is now in the dry dock at Sturgeon Bay.

        Joyce is crossing Lake St Clair and Dorothy is still taking ore up the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland.

        It looks like the Escanaba fleet is being joined by Joe Thompson.

        • great to see your reports, brent!

          • Thank you.

            Okay, Gott and Blough halted when Gott was about 3 miles from the Point (with Blough trailing about 2 miles to the SSE). Whitefish Point is where the land on the west side of the entrance to Whitefish Bay sticks out like a horn. The Whitefish Point Lighthouse is located there. Mackinaw turned around and broke a track on the east side all the way back past Blough. Then they turned north again and broke another track until they were ahead of Gott again. I saw them slow to under 4 knots but didn’t see them have to back and ram like they did when they broke the original track.

            Apparently, that has worked. All three ships are now past the Point. Mackinaw has swung west and their current course will take them in between Alder and Munson. I’m sure the crew on Alder is eager to get working.

  3. Munson is making good time now. I assume they are following a fissure in the ice sheet near the coast. You can see the satellite image of the ice sheet from yesterday here:

    I assume that wasn’t their original route since they did not swing south toward Marquette. And, of course, the bad thing about a fissure is that the wind can close it. The good news though is that the heavy ice appears to only be east of Caribou Island.

    We’ll see if Munson can make it in now. If not, Mackinaw looks ready to assist.

  4. Thanks for sharing Duluth’s first departure … still waiting in Marquette … might be a week or more

  5. currently, the gott is unable to break free of the ice and exit the poe lock. mackinaw is there to assist. blough is waiting.

    • The two ships are lined up at the pier again. I thought something was odd. Was the Gott actually stuck within the lock?

  6. Paul Sando says:

    Have you seen the drone video of the Munson leaving that is posted online? Very cool indeed.

  7. Have some spare time? The Soo Locks cams are showing images of the Gott and Blough- the images are on delay for security

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