Goodbye to Wes Harkins

At the age of 96, Wes Harkins died peacefully last night (May 26, 2017, the last of the big three ‘old guys’ in Duluth. (Dick Bibby and “Gil” Porter left Wes to us a few years ago).
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Wes was a wonderful help to me as I tried to catch up to the shipping business in Duluth; Wes was always there for me. Above left, he was a frequent visitor to my office (left). In March, 2000 as the finishing touches were applied to the nearly rebuilt Aerial Lift Bridge,  we had a raffle at the end of the meeting; Wes won the beautiful replica he had in his hands. We were happy for Wes but he should not have been allowed to participate in the raffle. In his house, he had many pieces, some big, given to him by many people over the years. He didn’t need this.
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Wes retired in the early 80’s, but 30 years later, he still knew people all over the Great Lakes. And he was listened to; people wanted to know what he thought about things. Above, he attended the rechristening of the Hon. James R. Oberstar in May, 2011. Many from Interlake were here; it was their party but Wes was sought out by old friends. I am not sure who these old friends were.
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It was not hard for USS Freedom executive officer Commander Kris Doyle (second from left), to impress four Duluth old timers with her brand new ship after it arrived in Duluth in October, 2008. While winding up the tour on the deck of the ship (below), Wes Harkins, at left, retired, Fraser Shipyard, showed Doyle a picture of the USS Paducah, a ship Wes left Duluth on in 1940. To Doyle’s left, Dick Bibby, retired, M.A. Hanna Co. and World War 2 merchant marine, Commander “Gil” Porter, retired US Coast Guard and former Great Lakes pilot and at right, Davis Helberg, former Duluth Seaway Port Authority director all agreed it was a new Navy. I don’t want to go into detail but there was some concern about hearing about the ship from a ‘woman.’ Those concerns were quickly dashed as Commander Doyle gave them a seminar on ships in the new Navy. (Commander Doyle later took command of the ship.)
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Late in 1999, Lower Lakes Towing purchased the John J. Boland, a boat that had been sitting in Fraser Shipyard for some years. In October, 2009, Captain John Wellington (above) was hired to bring the tug Roger Stahl to Duluth to tow the newly purchased boat, to be called the Saginaw, to Sarnia. Wellington arrived on October 24, 1999. Wellington has a long history with Duluth so it was no surprise that Wes Harkins (left) and Dick Bibby (right) were down to greet Wellington (center) in the Roger Stahl pilot house.  Below, Wes worked the lines as we pulled away from the Port Authority dock to go over to Fraser.
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Authors Bill Beck and C. Patrick Labadie published  the Pride of the Inland Seas: An Illustrated History of the Port of Duluth-Superior in collaboration with the Duluth Seaway Port Authority in July 2004. Wes and Gil were a large part of that history; they were there (above) to get their copy. Just below, Fred Cummings is making sure everyone is behaving as they lined up to get their books signed,
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More about Wes on Duluth Shipping News.
Wes took this shot of Cason J. Callaway and his family coming down from his boat in July, 1958
He took this shot during winter layup at Fraser Shipyards in 1964-65

Blacky and Trudy slowed by rain

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The Blacky arrived Duluth on May 14, 2017 to load wheat at Riverside Ag (above). She departed 5 days later, on May 19, for the port of Cadiz in Spain. The Blacky is owned by Navarone Marine Enterprises on Cyprus and is on long term charter to Canadian Forest Navigation (Canfornav), headquartered in Montreal. They operate a fleet of over 40 ocean-going vessels that they use to connect Great Lakes ports to the rest of the world. Many of their ships are named for ducks, such as Bluebill, Chestnut, Maccoa, Mottler, Ruddy, and Tufty.  Most have been to Duluth on several occasions.

Trudy arrived Duluth on May 12 to discharge kaolin clay at the Port Terminal. She also left 7 days later, on May 19 (below). Both were handling bulk cargo that is not usually moved when it is raining, as it was in Duluth this past week, delaying both ships.

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Blacky blows into town

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Blacky is back for her second visit to Duluth. When she was here in April, 2011, she loaded spring wheat for the Spanish port of Cadiz. She will be loading wheat at Riverland Ag on this trip.

Molly M1 back with more stuff

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The tug Molly M1 arrived Duluth this morning at 5:19 with a barge loaded with 2 pressure container vessels that will be taken from Duluth to Alberta, Canada where they will be used in oil recovery operations. She was here once before, in July, 2015, with a cargo of machinery to discharge. In the picture, piece to the left is still on the barge; the other piece (right) has already been discharged

2 boats full of durum wheat please

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The Federal Yukon arrived under the Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge on May 4, 2017 and is now loading durum wheat from North Dakota at CHS. She should complete that this evening and depart soon thereafter. The Federal Kumano arrived off the Duluth ship canal last night and is at anchor (above) waiting for the Federal Yukon to complete. The world’s grain trade is very complicated but these two ships make it a little easier to comprehend. Thcouscousey are both here to load durum wheat from North Dakota for Algeria and they are both supplying wheat to fill one order made by a customer. After that, it gets complicated. A middleman, I am told that someone works in London, was tasked to arrange for the delivery of that amount of wheat to the Algerian customer. If the particular grade of wheat comes only from North Dakota, then this person’s job is simplified. Find ships that have the cargo space to carry that order; then find ships that can get to Duluth or perhaps ships that will be in Duluth, say to discharge wind turbine equipment and are looking for a cargo to pick up in Duluth. However it was arranged, these two ships here now are able to load the full order and deliver it to Algeria where it is used to make couscous, a dish made with semolina, created after the durum wheat is milled. The round white balls in the picture are the semolina. And as in the picture, the dish often includes a variety of other ingredients including lamb, beef and vegetables. It is a staple on tables throughout Northern Africa. I decided to stop here, rather than sharing the history of couscous and some great recipes using couscous.

American Integrity arrives for coal

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No roses yet but I like to go over to the Rose Garden once in a while to get another angle on our ship traffic. This was the American Integrity arriving this morning (May 5, 2017) to load 68,000 tons of coal at Midwest Energy Resources. This is her 4th trip to Duluth this season; she made 31 trips here last season. She loaded coal on her 1st three trips this year; taking 2 cargos to Presque Isle, Michigan and one to Detroit Edison, as she will do today.

Blacky to be here for wheat on Monday

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This will be her second trip to Duluth. She was here back in April, 2011 on her first trip. Click here to read about my rough ride to meet her at the anchorage on her first trip (above).