Dick Bibby

20120601_2742Dick Bibby died yesterday (Sunday, December 20, 2015) at St. Luke’s Hospital in Duluth. Having suffered an aortic aneurysm, he recovered well enough to call for help and, by afternoon, was in the hospital, conscious and fairly alert (with the Vikings game on TV). But the prognosis was poor, and Dick eventually slipped away early evening. He was 93. Funeral services are being planned for after Christmas. Please keep Dick’s family and friends in your thoughts and prayers, particularly during this holiday season.


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 on Wednesday. While winding up the tour on the deck of the ship (above), 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. They asked all the old questions, but the answers from Doyle were all new. As an example, she explained how the ship can do 50 mph without a rudder or propeller. Think Jet Ski at a much higher level. Photo taken on October 29,2008
Above, from the left: Robert Fuhrman, Executive Director Richard I. Bong World War II Heritage Center, Marvin Hall, Merchant Marine WWII, Floyd Miras, Deputy Director, Great Lakes Gateway, US Maritime Administration, Richard Bibby, Ken Johanson, Merchant Marine and former chief engineer, Paul R. Tregurtha, Richard Stewart, Director, Great Lakes Maritime Research
Institute.I took the picture above at the Richard I. Bong World War II Heritage Center in Superior on September 24th, 2008. The Great Lakes Maritime Research Institute was hosting an exhibit honoring World War II Merchant Marine Veterans. In the ceremony, Dick was actually the middle man in a quick transaction. He was given a set of Merchant Marine medals from the Second World War and his job was to turn and present the medals to Robert Fuhrman, Executive Director at the Bong.As in everything Dick does, this was done with his usual flare. The pictures, as you will note, will forever look as if Dick was giving the medals to the museum rather than just passing them over.Boats such as the Lee A. Tregurtha were vessels in the Merchant Marine as Dick Bibby was a mariner in the Merchant Marine. When the war was over, they were back to the normal work of moving cargos of all kinds from one port to another, in these two cases, eventually on the Great Lakes. And if we were to go to war again, boats and sailors on the Great Lakes would most likely be recruited into the Merchant Marine again.The Merchant Marine is always the same group of sailors and vessels with the same task, moving commercial goods from one port to another. The difference is in leadership. In peace time, it operates as we see it every day at the Duluth ship canal. During a war, the Merchant Marine becomes an auxiliary to the Navy and is available to transport cargo, equipment and soldiers in behalf of the war effort. I read that it took 7 to 15 tons of supplies to support one soldier for one year during a war. Providing that service is the job of the Merchant Marine.
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 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. After arriving at Fraser Shipyard, Saginaw Captain Scott Bravener, also the President of Lower Lakes Towing, the company buying the boat, was down to talk with Wellington about the upcoming tow. Below, Bibby (an expert in all things related to tugs) consults with Bravener before the tow.
Untitled-1The Port of Duluth quarterly magazine, North Star Port, has several articles that feature Mr. Bibby. Read about a visit to the Bibby basement. It was a trip back in history, his and ours (on page 23).
winter200809portmagA nice article by Davis Helberg from the Port of Duluth magazine of winter 2008-09 issue (Page 14)

Holly and Doug arrive Welland: meet Julie

Holly and Doug went south and into Canada, arriving at the Welland Canal where Julie, culinary and hospitality expert supreme from many, many Canadian vessels, met them and showed them around. When she was in Duluth, Julie always fed me on the boat so I was happy to hear that Holly and Doug took Julie to lunch at the local Tim Horton’s Restaurant.

3 boats off the Duluth piers

Becca Nelson, foreground, was giving some kayaking tips to Victoria Pfingsten while the Baltic Carrier was sitting at anchor off the Duluth piers. This on October 1, 2011; notice no ice or snow, or falling leaves for that matter, but Becca’s woolen cap is proof enough that it was a bit cold out there.

Mike and Marnie from Thunder Bay

Mike Wolowich and his daughter Marnie came down from Thunder Bay to watch the ships come under the Lift Bridge, a trip he has made for many years; Marnie has many  memories  of great family trips to Duluth to see the ships but those trips don’t go back nearly so far as Mike’s. We took pictures of each other while we took pictures of the Adam E. Cornelius coming in. Click pic for large version.

Oglebay Norton sold six boats

20090425_5160In June, 2006, Oglebay Norton sold six boats to American Steamship. In many cases, the crews moved with their boats, but jobs were lost in the consolidation. The current economic recession has kept many boats across the Great Lakes in winter layup. That keeps many of their crews at home waiting for a call. American Victory captain Mark Adamson (above right) brought his boat, formerly the Middletown when owned by Oglebay Norton, into winter layup at Fraser Shipyards on November 11th. The boat is still there but Adamson is now second mate on the American Integrity. Lance Nelson (left) had been Captain on a number of Oglebay Norton boats, including the Wolverine and the Earl L. Oglebay. He is now second mate on the American Integrity. In the middle is Captain Pat Nelson, living proof that seniority is a good thing. He was captain of the Oglebay Norton when it was owned by the company with the same name. He moved with the boat to American Steamship and became the captain on the newly named American Integrity. He still is. He and his crew of captains came into port on Friday night. I caught up with them on the deck of the boat shortly after they docked at the Murphy Fuel Dock. It is the same boat referred to on Saturday that was perpendicularly placed in the inner anchorage on Friday evening. Boats with three captains can do that.

Beluga Constitution students

The Beluga Group, located in Bremen, Germany, owns and operates the Beluga Constitution, a ship in town to discharge wind turbine parts and then also load them. The ship has a school on board. Six students, called cadets while they are on the ship, live in four two person cabins on the ‘X’ deck, which also has a fully equipped classroom. They are students at the Maritime Campus at Elsfleth, part of a public private partnership between Beluga Group, Lower Saxony and the city of Elsfleth. Above, they were in the classroom on Sunday learning about the use of the anchor. All from Germany, they are front row, from the left: Benjamin Zerhusen (21), Bremen, Henryk Tinius (24), Berlin, Marlene Eberl (21), Hannover and Jennifer Witt (20), Geesthacht. Back row, from left: standing, Marius Thomas (30), Bad Bertrich, training officer (the teacher). Seated, Johannes Brydda (21), Stralsund and Ole Piehl (23), Brunsbüttel. Other members of the crew live in Poland, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Croatia and Russia. Captain Andrzej Kocmiel, the cadets and several other crew members went up to Gooseberry Falls and Split Rock on Saturday.
*submitted to the Duluth News Tribune for publication on 07-23-2007

Chase car and dog assist with Umiavut discharging

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The Dutch flagged Umiavut has been discharging parts for 32 wind turbines that will next go to a wind farm in Iowa. But first, each piece was discharged from the ship to trailer trucks that carried the pieces to another part of the Port Terminal where they will soon be put back on trucks and taken south. The pieces are big and very heavy and they need a big, specially built trailer truck to move them. And big very heavy trailer trucks need a chase car behind them to alert traffic coming up on them and to give the driver another set of eyes at the end of the very long trailer. That’s Stacy Wudtke in the driver’s seat of the chase car for one of the many half-mile trips they made on Friday from one end of the Port Authority terminal to the other. Her dog Tyler takes up the back seat, and Gus Johnson is to her left. Both work for Badger Transport Inc. in Clintonville, Wisconsin. Stacy lives in Montana. Photo taken on June 15, 2007.
*submitted to the Duluth News Tribune for publication on 06-16-2007

Walter J. McCarthy Jr. hosts favorite son

In 1986, a Polish sailor named Derek Czepczynski walked off the Ziemia Opolska while it was in Duluth loading grain. He sought out immigration officials to seek asylum and was allowed to stay. Two years later he sent for his wife Maria and son Art, making Duluth their new home. After working as a cook on Polish ships for 18 years, in 1990, he moved over to the US flagged Kinsman Independent where his menus changed a little. He has continued to work on US flagged ships and has worked on the Walter J. McCarthy Jr. for the last 4 years. Happily, the McCarthy stops in Duluth about once a week, allowing them to spend some time together. Art just came back from several tours of duty in Iraq and is now attending UMD as a sophomore. On Sunday, he was visiting his father in the galley of the McCarthy (above), and even got to sample some of his father’s food for lunch. Photo taken on May 13, 2007.
*submitted to the Duluth News Tribune for publication on 05-14-2007

H. Lee White first in from beyond the Soo

We had another first of the season event on Monday. Only a couple more firsts and we can declare the season started. This first: the H. Lee White arrived late Monday morning to load taconite at the Burlington Northern Santa Fe dock in Superior. It was the first boat to arrive here from beyond the Soo Locks. They opened at 12:01 on Sunday morning. The H. Lee White usually loads taconite at Silver Bay so we don’t see it so often. Above, Port Authority Promotion Manager Lisa Marciniak stands with H. Lee White captain Steve Hooton shortly after the boat arrived. The Port Authority regularly greets the first boat from beyond the Soo. The last first will be the first boat that arrives here after transiting the entire St. Lawrence Seaway System. That is usually a salt water ship. Three 1,000-footers will be arriving today from beyond the Soo and two of them that spent the winter here will be departing. And the Canadian Provider should be here to load the first grain of the season. Photo taken on March 26, 2007.
*submitted to the Duluth News Tribune for publication on 03-27-2007

Anders and Donna from Algolake

Algolake Captain Anders Rasmussen and his wife Donna say good-bye to Duluth late yesterday afternoon as they head off to Thunder Bay to discharge the 30,000 tons of coal they loaded at Midwest Energy Resources earlier in the day. That will be used by Ontario Power Generation. After discharging that coal, they will take on more coal (a different grade) in Thunder Bay for the Great Lakes Steel dock in Detroit. They then turn around and come back to the Twin Ports for more coal, taking it to Ontario Power Generation, this time in Nanticoke. Officers on Great Lakes boats often have family members on board with them for at least one trip each season.
*submitted to the Duluth News Tribune for publication on 12-20-2006

Alder gets attention

There was a waiting line at the Midwest Energy Resources coal dock last night. That means we started the day with departures from there. The American Mariner may have already departed and the Algolake should complete later this morning. That should give the Walter J. McCarthy Jr. a clear shot at going right in to take on its load of coal when it arrives this afternoon. The Alder came back to town yesterday after 19 days of buoy tending on Lake Superior and Lake Michigan. Above, the Alder is moving through the harbor as a photographer follows. Shortly after this, the ship turned toward its dock to tie up for a holiday break. It will then be ready to break some ice, if there is any.
*submitted to the Duluth News Tribune for publication on 12-19-2006