Enjoy the snow and the ice with the Duluth Shipping News

Watch the tugs and the cutters and the ship in the ice and the pretty landscape

The Federal Mattawa has been at anchor off the Duluth piers since May 19th. With all other salt water vessels at the start of the season, she was delayed by ice and a pilot shortage when the season first began. She arrived in Montreal at the beginning of the St. Lawrence Seaway system on April 21. She made it to Hamilton to discharge some cargo on April 26. She left there on May 7, likely delayed there by ice. She arrived in Thunder Bay anchorage on May 8 and finally arrived to the Duluth anchorage on May 19.

Several ships have joined her from time to time. They left and she stayed. Above, the Vancouverborg, is in front, then the Apollon, and the Federal Mattaway. Below still with the Apollon and below, she shines bright, alone in the sun and ice.

Why the delay? In part, this is still catching up from the delays caused by ice in the seaway. She is waiting for grain to arrive in port by train, and rail cars are in short supply. This is her 3rd trip to the Twin Ports. On her first trip, in August, 2007, she loaded bentonite and the second trip, in May, 2008, she loaded grain, as she will this trip whenever the grain arrives.



We didn’t have a lot of ship traffic today (Memorial Day, May 26, 2014) but we had 2 salt water vessels sitting in the ice field just beyond the Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge. In back, the Federal Mattawa has been at anchor for over a week. In front, the Apollon had been at anchor for sometime. Then last Friday evening, she came in from the anchorage to load durum wheat for Ravenna, Italy, a port on the north eastern coast of Italy, on the Adriatic Sea. They finished that and went back to the anchorage to wait for a pilot be become available, probably early this evening. We send a lot of wheat to Italy, and not surprisingly, it will eventually be used for pasta. The next time you are eating pasta in Italy, it might have come from Minnesota. The Apollon was built in 1996 as the Spring Laker. This is her 3rd trip to the Twin Ports. Last November, she was here to load bentonite. Her home port is in Athens, Greece where the ship’s officers live. The crew is from the Philippines.

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Top, the Federal Mattawa waits in the ice to load grain. Likewise, just below her (in the picture) is the Greek owned Apollon (the officers are  Greek; the crew is from the Philippines). The Vancouverborg, below them, is getting the hell out, with a cargo of beet pulp pellets for Greenore, Ireland, a deep water port on the Irish Sea. The port is privately owned, the town has a population of 898 people (in 2002) and it is famous for whiskey with the same name. There must be animals somewhere since beet pulp pellets are normally used for animal feed,  and are not known to be an ingredient in whiskey. Click any picture to see the ice better or the Google Earth map which locates Greenore.


The John J. Boland departing today (May 17, 2014) is one happy result of the delayed start to the shipping season. The Boland came in for winter layup on January 12th, 2013 and has been sitting at Fraser Shipyards in Superior until today when she was called back into service to help with the backlog of cargo. She left under the Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge this afternoon, on her way to Silver Bay to load iron ore pellets for hungry steel mills on the lower lakes.  She will discharge the pellets at the Cleveland Bulk Terminal at the mouth of the Cuyahoga River. Those pellets will be loaded into smaller, river boats and carried to steel mills up river.
The saltwater vessel Apollon sits at anchor just beyond the Lift Bridge surrounded by the ice that refuses to melt.


Convoy here, three at a time

April 30, 2014

Above, the Hon James L. Oberstar came in at 12:20, April 30, 2014. Right behind her was the Cason J. Callaway, and then the Thunder Bay

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2003, another spring to remember

April 28, 2014

(Click on any image for larger version) March 20: the Mackinaw (below) arrives Duluth. March 24: the Edgar B. Speer (below), Edwin H. Gott, and Roger Blough depart Duluth March 29: The Frontenac is our first arrival of the year. April 1: The Walter J. McCarthy, Jr. (not pictured) departed Duluth, the last commercial traffic […]

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A season like no other

April 9, 2014

 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 […]

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Morro Bay gets local help

March 29, 2014

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, […]

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Ice is not nice to ships

March 28, 2014

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 […]

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NBC News comes to Duluth to see ice

March 12, 2014

The long, cold, snowy, icy winter has attracted a lot of attention this ‘spring.’ We humans may have seen the worst of it but March brings out the next victims, the big ships that start every season in the Great Lakes battling ice. For better or worse, at this time every year, Duluth gets her […]

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Alder turns ice into water!

March 11, 2014

This  video was taken March 10, 2014, and is a little less polished than others but I wanted to get it up quick.

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Ice? How about blue water!

March 10, 2014

I took the pictures in the post below this post with my phone on the Alder and then emailed them to Holly in Arizona. She posted them here. Just below are pictures I took aboard the Alder today (Monday, March 10. 2014. (Click a pic for a larger version) The Alder performed well making the […]

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Going home

March 7, 2014

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 […]

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Ice is not nice and it is everywhere

March 2, 2014

In 18 years,  I fear I have been wrong every time I made any predictions about ice on Lake Superior. But I don’t let things like that stop me. Here are some pictures I took on Sunday, March 2, 2014. The temperature last night was –14, it is 5 this afternoon and it will be […]

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Lake Superior Ice, not 100% covered

February 15, 2014

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Water and Ice

February 8, 2014

We are still looking for all ice at this end of the Lake. Below, top to bottom, the Cason J. Callaway, the Presque Isle and the St. Clair seem happy enough.

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As I saw the port on April 13, 2013

April 18, 2013

For 18 years, I have been watching the East wind blow ice into the funnel at the western end of Lake Superior known as Duluth. My office is next to the Lift Bridge. So I know. Or rather, even now, I still don’t know. A week ago, I thought I knew Lake Superior was clear […]

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The ice is bad now; check out the fun in 2003

April 15, 2013

March, 2003 seemed like the beginning of a normal Duluth spring, just like this past spring also seemed pretty normal. Above, the Sundew broke away from her winter moorings on March 12th, 2003. Below, the Mackinaw arrived on the 20th. Above, the Frontenac arrived on March 29, the first boat to transit the entire Seaway […]

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Still moving, very slowly

April 15, 2013

Note: this post is in chronological order, earliest pictures first With help from the Great Lakes tug North Carolina, the CSL Tadoussac departed Duluth this morning (April 15, 2013) around 8:25. Next, the North Carolina was off to help the Indiana Harbor.   A little later, the Birchglen arrived and slowly made her way under […]

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April 13, 2013

Click picture above to see boat names better

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Where did this come from?

April 12, 2013

4:45: the Tregurtha called the tug North Carolina in for the day. It appears that all boats will wait until morning when they hope the Alder will be able to open up a wider track. The Paul R. Tregurtha asked the tug North Carolina to check the ice between the piers. The tug is able […]

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Watch the Mackinaw azipods in action

March 25, 2013

The Mackinaw has a unique method to break open large ice fields

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Mackinaw breaks ice in Duluth

March 17, 2013

The US Coast Guard cutter Mackinaw left her moorings at the DECC at 9 am this morning (March 17, 2013) to break ice in the Duluth Superior harbor. She returned to the DECC around 11:30, dropped some folks off, and then went under the Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge on her way to Whitefish Point at […]

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Alder goes out in the lake

March 13, 2013

The Coast Guard cutter Alder covered all the bases today (March 13, 2013), first going under the Lift Bridge and to the edge of the ice sheet, about 5 1/2 miles out. The ship made quick work of the ice, easily breaking open a track and then coming back in to break up more ice […]

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Spring has sprung

March 11, 2013

… and the Alder didn’t seem to have any trouble breaking the ice around her this morning (March 11, 2013) when she pulled away from her moorings, the first vessel to move in the port this new season.  

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