|All hands on deck aboard the Alder on December 14, 2016, breaking ice on their deck as they moved across Lake Superior. All of this while US Coast Guard Sector Soo began Operation Taconite, their annual push to clear shipping channels of ice so lakers can get another 2 or 3 weeks before the season ends. For now, the Alder was assigned the western end of Lake Superior for their ice breaking operations. That seems logical but in others years, they were breaking ice in Lake Michigan and cutters like the Biscayne Bay came here to break up our ice. All pictures here courtesy of the Alder.|
|Alder approaches the Portage Lake Lift Bridge in Houghton, Mich., Dec. 16, 2016.|
|Alder breaks a path through the ice in the Keweenaw Waterway near Houghton, Michigan on Dec. 16, 2016.|
|Join the Alder and 25 members of LSMMA as they open the 2016 shipping season in Duluth Minnesota|
|Our Coast Guard cutter Alder made a quick trip into the harbor this morning (February 22, 2016) to reposition the ship, bow pointing out, for her first ice breaking session this season, sometime in early March. In the pictures here, she is slowly backing into her mooring.|
|The Alder was out this morning (Wednesday, January 13, 2016), preparing a path for the last vessel traffic of the season. (see picture of harbor and the tracks the Alder laid down at the bottom of this page)|
|Information from the Duluth Seaway Port Authority
Duluth-Superior shipping season winds to a close;
7 lakers to be in Port for winter layup
Duluth, Minn., U.S.A. (1/12/16) – The Port of Duluth-Superior is welcoming seven ships for winter layup this year. In fact, the Indiana Harbor laid up early (on Nov. 3) and a major repowering project is already underway at Fraser Shipyards on the Herbert C. Jackson, in dry dock since early December.
The Soo Locks (at Sault Ste. Marie) are set to close at midnight on Friday, Jan. 15. By then, four more wintering vessels are expected to have arrived in the Twin Ports beginning Thursday morning with the anticipated arrival of the Edwin H. Gott, followed Friday or later by the American Century, the Kaye E. Barker and the Philip R. Clarke. We say “expected” to arrive as transit times vary with wind and weather.
Boatwatchers will have to wait just a little longer for the arrival of the very last laker – the Paul R. Tregurtha – as the thousand-footer is making one or two late season, intra-lake deliveries of iron ore. Her arrival beneath the Aerial Bridge next week will officially mark the end of the 2015 Great Lakes shipping season here in the Twin Ports. [Note: Last ‘saltie’ of the season, Federal Bering, departed Duluth on Dec. 18; the St. Lawrence Seaway closed on Dec. 31.]
In all, seven (7) Great Lakes freighters will be wintering in the Twin Ports this year:
Vessel Location ARRIVAL
Indiana Harbor Enbridge Dock 11/03/15
Herbert C. Jackson Fraser Shipyards 12/11/15
Kaye E. Barker Fraser Shipyards
Edwin H. Gott Port Terminal Berth 1
Philip R. Clarke Port Terminal Berth 4
American Century Port Terminal Berth 6/7
Paul R. Tregurtha Midwest Energy Resources Co.
While ships’ crews will take the next few, well-deserved weeks off, there is no real ‘down time’ on the waterfront. Hundreds of workers – engineers, welders, pipefitters, mechanics, electricians and others –will spend the next eight weeks doing heavy-duty maintenance and repair work so these vessels are ready to sail when the Soo Locks reopen on March 25 and the 2016 Great Lakes-Seaway shipping season gets underway.
|The very rare-to-see in Duluth ivory gull has been here awhile instead of at her usual home on the ice in the Arctic Ocean. It is snowing and the temperature is about to take a nose dive. All that is left would be for the US Coast Guard cutter Mackinaw to make her arrival and that she did, this morning (Thursday, January 7, 2016) at 8:30. She is now docked behind the DECC.|
|Shortly after arriving in Duluth, Commander Vasilios Tasikas gathered his crew to make sure they all knew what a nice place Duluth is. The ship and crew are here, in part, to familiarize new crew members with ports on Lake Superior. They will be here until Saturday morning, with at least one ski trip to Spirit Mountain planned. Note that Commander Tasikas is using a Duluth Shipping News calendar to make a point.|
|In the old days, I was sometimes a good source for information about the port. Sometimes I even knew stuff I wasn’t supposed to talk about. Other times, I could and that was fun. Nowadays, I read the paper to find out about the exciting stuff; well not yet so exiting. The Duluth News Tribune had a picture of the Cornelia at anchor off the Duluth piers on their front page this morning (November 7, 2015). The above is the picture I took this morning. There was big news but the News Tribune didn’t know what the news was. I was happy to find out from them that there was news. I still don’t know why she is out there either. I refer you to the article for the list of people who will not tell them (us) what is going on. The US Attorney says the ship is being held there (by the Coast Guard, I assume) as a part of a federal probe. Hmmm.
Many years ago, when I was better connected (before 9-11), I found out a ship was coming to Duluth under armed guard. I got a ride out to the ship at anchor and was lucky enough to come in with her later in the day. She had many other names before she was decommissioned in 2011.
Read below to find out about that adventure.
|On July 5 the Grant Carrier and her crew of 27 left Odessa, a Ukrainian city on the Black Sea, on their way to Duluth. At the time, no ship with Yugoslavian officers was allowed in U.S. waters unless accompanied by armed guards, supplied by the Coast Guard and paid for by the shipowner. That was because our (NATO) planes were bombing their cities at the time.
So the Grant Carrier came to Duluth on August 17, 1999 with a contingent of five armed (but friendly) Coast Guard sailors. The officers and crew were indeed from Yugoslavia, many from Kotor, a city on the coast of the Adriatic Sea in Montenegro.
|The ship arrived and dropped anchor and waited for a party of local port officials to come out. I went out with them and took a gamble and asked the captain if I could stay aboard until the ship came in later that afternoon. (The gamble being the possibility that plans would change and the ship would stay at anchor, perhaps for days. There is no regularly scheduled transportation between the Duluth shore and a ship at anchor.|
|Above, Ship Captain Tomislav Radovic is at his desk talking with his guards; below, he is reading the latest issue of the Duluth Shipping News.|
|Above, and 2 below, Grant Carrier crew members.|
|The guards and the guarded lined up in a row. Below, later that afternoon, the ship, the guards and me come into Duluth|
|We came in under the Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge late that afternoon, as promised. Both the Coast Guard and Captain Radovic and crew were out waving to the crowd, none of whom had any idea the guys in blue outfits were wearing pistols and guarding the ship.|
|As soon as we docked, the Coast Guard left the ship for more private quarters in a local hotel, glad to be back on American soil. The officers and crew were just as interested in getting off the ship to see the sights in Duluth. The next evening, I was walking down Lake Avenue in Canal Park with Captain Radovic and First Mate Pajovic when we passed Grandma’s Sport’s Garden. Both men started to wave at someone playing pool inside. As we walked on, I asked whom they could possibly know in Duluth. Answer: their friendly Coast Guard ‘protectors’ were taking a break playing a few games of pool. I of course set aside the thought that they might be following us, although the captain did tell me that he had also run into them the night before.
On the evening the ship left Duluth, I went aboard with an armful of Port Authority coffee cups and passed them out to the crew. Some crewmembers left our deck party immediately but returned within minutes with gifts for me. They started with cigarettes and lighters, even though I insisted I didn’t smoke. I quickly realized that it was the thought that counts in these matters.
Others came back with beautiful maps of the area around Kotor. Kotor is a medieval city, and the pictures clearly showed the remains of the wall built centuries ago to protect the city from invaders. As we sat on the deck in Duluth, five of them pointed to houses in the pictures where they live, or once lived. They were so insistent on making sure I knew that they were nice, peace-loving people, as were the people of Montenegro, that I almost could not get off the ship. I was surely convinced, as I walked down the gangway to drive back to the ship canal.
|Above and below, my scans of the 2 posters the crew gave me.|
|Old salts tell me the Grant Carrier was the first ship ever to come into Duluth under armed guard, and I had the scoop. I went up and down the piers passing out the Duluth Shipping News and telling people that the ship with the armed guards was coming soon. The crew was hyped, and I had suggested to the captain that he do some serious work with the ship’s whistle when they came under the bridge.
I was still not prepared for what happened. As the ship came around the buoy and approached the bridge, the entire crew was out on the deck, and not just standing there. They were all jumping up and down and waving. The captain hit the horn just before the ship went under the bridge, and he didn’t take his hand off until the ship was leaving the canal.
Those of us on the ground returned the jumping and the noise to the ship; it was quite a moment. I felt we had all made a small contribution to a better world given that our two countries were at war.
|And, I almost forgot, the Grant Carrier was docked the Cargill Elevator to load grain.|
|The US Coast Guard cutter Alder departed her dock right on time, 9 am, March 9, 2015. As always, she was the first vessel movement in the port since January.|
|The Mackinaw led a convoy of boats that arrived off the Duluth piers this morning (April 30, 2014). Before they came in, the CSL Assiniboine departed around 8:25 morning and ran into some ice problems. The bad news; there were 7 boats in front of her waiting to come in. The good news: the Mackinaw was right there and after a couple hours of working the ice, the Assiniboine was on her way. The first three were the CSL Assiniboine, Cason J. Callaway and the Thunder Bay.|
|Half an hour later, the Whitefish Bay came in, followed by the Baie Comeau and then the CSL Tadoussac.|
|After the Bridge went down to clear some traffic, the Baie St. Paul came in alone. A little later, the Mackinaw, having watched her charges safely make it into the Duluth harbor, came in herself.|
|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.|
|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.|
|The 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.|
|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.|
Click on any picture to see a larger version
|This 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.
|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.|
|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|
|The Cleveland based Coast Guard cutter Morro Bay is still docked behind the DECC (above) after being towed into Port by the Alder and Katmai Bay after ice breaking work in Thunder Bay damaged the ship’s rudder. She arrived here on March 28. Since then, naval engineers have determined that she sustained damage to a rudder that had already been damaged. Five out of the 6 bolts used to hold the rudder in place were lost. Repairs will be made on Sunday and/or Monday and she will then immediately return to service.|
|The US Coast Guard cutter Alder brought her sister ship, Morro Bay, into port last night with damage to her rudder. They docked at the DECC and this morning (March 29, 2014), divers from a local company, J. Norick & Sons, were there to assess the damage. Actually, the rudder itself was apparently not damaged, but all but one of the bolts holding it to the ship were broken off while breaking ice. Today, they were checking the damage. Probably later today, the ship will be towed to Fraser Shipyard to complete repairs. New, 2 inch bolts are being made locally and will probably be ready for use early next week. The Katmai Bay is also here; my guess is she will tow the Morro Bay to Fraser but I am not sure of that.|
|The US Coast Guard cutter Morro Bay left here a week ago and today (March 28, 2014), she was towed back to port by the Alder after sustaining damage to her rudder while breaking ice. Outside the Duluth piers, they lashed the Morro Bay to the side of the Alder for the trip through the ship canal. The Katmai Bay, also here a week ago, led them in to port. The Presque Isle is also coming back to Duluth to repair damage to her hull caused by the ice.|
|Three Coast Guard cutters arrive Duluth on March 25, 2014 (from my window)|
|We are expecting 3 Coast Guard cutters to arrive here late this afternoon or early evening. The Mackinaw, the Katmai Bay and the Morro Bay will be here to get fuel and provisions before leading a convoy of 3 boats from Two Harbors to the Soo Locks. (Unless plans change which is always possible when dealing with wind, ice and Lake Superior. (Click to see larger version of AIS taken at 4:40 pm, Monday, March 24, 2014)|
|This video was taken March 10, 2014, and is a little less polished than others but I wanted to get it posted quickly.|
|Dan Rau took this picture on Wednesday (March 5, 2014), as the Alder was returning from a long day breaking ice. While following the path she opened on the way out, you can notice the ship has moved to the right so she can widen the original path for the next trip. (click pic to enlarge)|