Tug Cleveland being built in Cleveland

nprmarketplacegreatlakestoving-tugclevelandJoeStarckpresgltmarketplace.The February 10th, 2017 edition of NRP’s Marketplace (click above to listen) carried a nice story about the Great Lakes Towing Company building a new tug, the Cleveland (model at left), during the Great Lakes winter break. Below, workers are building the new tug in Great Lakes Towing’s own shipyard in Cleveland. At the right, GLT’s president Joe Starck talking to the Marketplace reporter about their new tug. Pictures from Markeplace web page.

New tug for port arrives

Built in 1974 by the Marinette Marine Corporation of Marinette, Wisconsin for the United States Navy, this 107 foot long tug was purchased from the Navy in 2002 by McAllister Towing and Transportation of New York, and named Daniel McAllister. In 2015, she was purchased by Great Lakes Towing and renamed Huron. She arrived Duluth to join the Great Lakes Towing Twin Ports fleet on January 2, 2017.
More pictures and information here

2 First-time visitors to Duluth

The Canadian flagged Leonard M. (above) arrived last night at 7:40 pushing the barge Huron Spirit filled with steel coils from Essar Steel Algoma Inc. located at Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada. At 7:13 this morning (June 16, 2016), the Marselisborg arrived with wind turbine parts she is discharging at the Port Terminal.

Heritage Marine story in Professional Mariner

20130413_8316The current issue of Professional Mariner (December-January 2016) has a wonderful article on Michael Ojard and his company Heritage Marine, located in Knife River and providing tug service in the Port of Duluth Superior. At right is my picture of his tug Nels J. working in the ice on April 13, 2013.

Sara Summers found the sun and the J.B. Ford

The Heritage Marine tugs Nels J. (at left below) and Helen H. (above and on the right below) escorted the J. B. Ford on her last trip on October 9, 2015, going from her long time layup dock in Superior to the Azcon scrapyard in Duluth. The three vessels made the trip with the just rising sun making good shots a challenge but Sara Summers, a Park Ranger at the Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center (the Marine Museum at the Duluth ship canal), was up to the task, as these two shots demonstrate.

Four tugs in a row on a summer day in Duluth

In the old days, I took pictures of the front end of boats. But I am slowing down in my old age and are now happy to get the back ends. So here are the back ends of a flotilla of all the tugs from Heritage Marine, out to get their picture taken (from the front, mostly). In the background, at right, notice the very red, or orange, HHL Amur discharging wind turbines pieces at the Port Terminal. Above, left to right, the Nels J., Helen H. Nancy J. and the Edward H.
Above, left to right, the Helen H., Nels J., Nancy J. and Edward H.  Below, the Nancy J., Nels J. and the Helen H.

First movement of the season

Above, the John G. Munson is backing out from Howard’s Pocket and her winter berth, while the Heritage Marine tug Nels J. moves ahead of her. They are both headed for the Calumet Fuel Dock. The Munson to fuel before going to CN Duluth to load iron ore pellets for Gary  and the Nels J. to make sure the ice did not cause any problems (and it did not). Just below, the Munson eases by the winter berth of the American Integrity.

Clear and cold

The Whitefish Bay arrived Duluth at noon on Monday, January 5, 2015 to get fuel at Calumet before moving over to the Burlington Northern to load iron ore pellets. The North Carolina was waiting at the bridge for the Whitefish Bay to arrived before she went out into the lake.

Tug Nickelena brings Ro-Ro barge to Duluth

Ro-Ro being Roll on Roll off, as in Roll that pressure vessel onto the barge,  take it to Duluth and Roll it Off. Here the Nickelena is moving the barge up to the back of the slip at the Port Terminal, where the cargo will come off the barge.
Below is a video of the Ro-Ro arrival this morning that I took off my webcam page


Arkansas gets to work quickly

The tug Arkansas arrived here on October 17th, 2014.  Two days later, Carole Lent got a nice shot of her helping the Orla move through the Duluth harbor on the 19th. The Orla picked up a cargo of wheat at CHS in Superior.

Tug Missouri leaves town with 2 tugs in tow

The Great Lakes Towing tug Missouri brought the tugs Indiana and Arkansas into port yesterday to replace the tugs North Dakota and Kentucky. Today (October 18, 2014), she departed with the Kentucky and the North Dakota, two tugs that take with them a lot of harbor history guiding salt water ships as well as thousand footers around the port and  breaking ice in the harbor for all who needed a clear path.

New tugs for old tugs

We started the day (Friday, October 17, 2014) with 4 Great Lakes Towing tugs, the Minnesota, Kentucky, North Carolina and North Dakota tied up at  their dock in Duluth. By noon, the tugs Indiana and Arkansas  had joined the lineup replacing the Kentucky and North Dakota. Above, the Indiana (2nd from left) and Arkansas (third from left) had joined the lineup.
That’s the Kentucky still tied up on the left; she will be leaving and the North Carolina is at the head of the line here. She will be staying along with the Minnesota. Below, the tug Missouri pulled the Arkansas and Indiana under the Lift Bridge this morning.
Above, the Missouri (left) is still pulling the Arkansas and the Indiana while the North Dakota and Minnesota are behind them.
Below, they break up while they get the new tugs tied up at the dock, one at a time. The Minnesota is bringing the Indiana in first.

New tugs for the port.

The Kentucky and the North Dakota will be replaced by the Arkansas and Indiana. They should be here between 10 am and 2 pm Friday (October 17, 2014).

Nancy J. is number 4

Heritage Marine brought their 4th tug, the Nancy J., into Duluth on September 18, 2014, finishing a long trip that started in Texas. DSN ace photographer Holly took these pictures while Heritage Marine owner Mike Ojard filled in our ace reporter with all the details.

Three boats at the end of the day

The Heloise came in from the anchorage at 6:30 in the evening of July 30, 2014. Right behind her, fishing boats were going home for the day while the tug Kentucky gave an assist to the Heloise as she made her way over to CHS 1 to load grain.

Defiance pushes an Ashtabula full of coke breeze into Duluth

The tug Defiance pushed the barge Ashtabula into the Duluth harbor on Friday, July 18, 2014. She is bringing in coke breeze to discharge at Hallett #8 in Superior. When that is done, she will cross the St. Louis River and load iron nuggets at the Hallett #5 dock in Duluth.

Another try for the Presque Isle

First, the Heritage Marine tug Helen H. broke up the ice to clear a path for the Presque Isle to make another attempt to start her season, going to Two Harbors to load iron ore pellets. They then circled around to the stern of the large tug barge to make sure there were no problems. Helen H. then returned to her dock in Superior. The Presque Isle was the first large boat to depart the port since the Mesabi Miner left for Taconite Harbor on March 27th.

Take a ride on the Nels J.

Callaway home for the winter

Two Heritage Marine tugs helped the Cason J. Callaway tie up at the Port Terminal for the winter this morning (January 15, 2014). Here the Helen H. is clearing ice along the dock. I took the picture from the Nels J., also assisting the Callaway. Earlier (below), Heritage Tug owner Mike Ojard (in the boat, works with Bob Hom, on shore, as they were getting the tug off their dock in Superior.
Below, Captain Mike Ojard runs the Helen H. along the edge of the dock, clearing ice so the Callaway can tie up close to the dock.
The goal is to get the Callaway as close to the dock as possible. Above, the Helen H. does her part while we (the Nels J.) do the same at the bow of the Callaway.

Good-byes all around

Launched earlier this year, the Canadian flagged Baie Comeau made 7 trips to the Twin Ports this season, discharging grain on one trip and loading coal 3 times. She departed today (January 9,  2014) with her 3rd cargo of iron ore pellets. Two Heritage Marine tugs, the Helen H. above, and the Nels J. below cleared a path through the ice on her departure.

American Century gets help from Kentucky

She is about to make the turn toward the Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge on her way out to Lake Superior with a cargo of iron ore pellets loaded at the CN in West Duluth. More on the American Century.

Icy cold in Duluth

December 9, 2013: winter in Duluth began early and hard. Ice and cold have brought the tugs out early to keep traffic moving. This morning, the Arthur M. Anderson received help from the Nels J., below, getting close to the Calumet Fuel Dock at the Port Terminal in Duluth.

The tug Nels J. approaches the Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge

… on Saturday morning, December 7, 2013.

Raba arrives with assist from North Dakota

The Polish owned and Liberian flagged Raba arrived here on Sunday afternoon, October 6, 2013. On this, her first trip to Duluth Superior, she will be loading grain at CHS in Superior.

Ryerson moves to a new home in Duluth

The Edward L. Ryerson was moved this morning from her berth at Fraser Shipyards by two Heritage Marine tugs, the Nels J. on her stern and the Helen H. on the bow. Below, they are moving under the Blatnik Bridge and out of Howard’s Pocket. At the far right is the John J. Boland, still residing at the shipyard.
Above and below, the Helen H. is handling the difficult job of maneuvering the boat between two bridge supports
They pulled the Ryerson from her slip at Fraser, stern first. Here they are starting to turn her around so they can bring her into her new home bow first.
From Google Earth, we see the short route taken. The tugs pulled the Ryerson away from her slip at Fraser Shipyards, under the Blatnik Bridge, around CHS and into the CHS slip, at the Barko Hydraulics, just across from CHS. 
Above, we are looking from behind the CHS elevator. Below, the tugs are bringing her into the slip bow first. The CHS towers are now on the right.
Above, the Ryerson bow is secure to the dock and the lines from the Helen H.  have been taken up. At the stern of the boat, the Nels J. is still connected and is pulling the stern of the Ryerson toward the Barko Hydraulics dock, her new home.
Below, the Helen H. is now gently helping to move the whole boat next to the dock while the Nels J. is still pulling the Ryerson toward her new dock.
The Nels J., no longer connected by rope to the Ryerson, moves to the side to help the Helen H. move the boat closer to her dock, where line handlers on the other side will tie her securely to the dock.
Almost done! While the Helen H. pulls away and prepares to go home, the Nels J. is still providing a little push to the Ryerson.
Mission accomplished; time to go home; I am exhausted

Watch tug Wilfred M. Cohen in Duluth

Click here for more info on the Wilfred M. Cohen

Edwin H. Gott, last to come in for the winter

Nice for the boats; winter arrived here within minutes of the Heritage Marine tug Nels J making sure the last boat to come in, the Edwin H. Gott, was secure against the dock at the Port Terminal on Wednesday morning, January 18, 2012. The temperature plunged, down to -31 at my home, and a big snow storm, the largest we have had yet, at least ¾ of an inch, maybe even 1/8 more. The Alder was close by but was not needed, so she went back to her dock, probably not moving from there until March 7th or so.

Medemborg arrives for bentonite

Medemborg makes her 10th trip to Duluth to load bentonite
medemborgnelsj20111014_6047The Medemborg arrived Duluth on Friday afternoon, October 14, 2011. This is her 10th visit to the Twin Ports since she was built in 1997, her first visit this season. She was here twice last year. She will be loading bentonite on this trip; in past trips, she has loaded beet pulp pellets and other grains. She was assisted by the Heritage Marine tug Nels J. seen below on her way to the Medemborg just after the ship came under the Lift Bridge; at left, she has moved closer.
I caught the Medemborg’s whistle as she came in.

Heritage Marine buys tug #3

Heritage Marine has been working with 2 tugs in the Duluth Superior port, the Nels J. and the Edward H. Mike Ojard has just purchased tug number 3. She will be called the Helen H. See notes from the trip to the Twin Ports below, thanks to crew member Paul von Goertz.
The picture above taken on Lake Superior on the way to Duluth. They arrived Duluth on Sunday morning, August 21st, 2011 going under the Aerial Lift Bridge at 3:50 am. The new tug will be named: Helen H.
heritagemarphotoNotes from the trip to Duluth: Mike bought the tug in Galveston, TX, then he hired a pilot to run it from Galveston to New Orleans and then to Baton Rouge. He and son Pat went along. From Baton Rouge the boat was made part of a barge tow and brought up the Mississippi and then the Illinois Waterway as far as Peru, IL. There the boat’s stern was lifted by a barge to reduce it’s draft and towed to Lemont, IL. Here the boat was ballasted down to get under a railroad bridge, which it just cleared by inches. As luck would have it, a train went over the bridge as the boat went under. When inches count, we did not need a train to go over! To what degree did the bridge bend under the strain of the train? From Lemont the boat was again towed north, this time to S. Chicago where we once again took over the boat and replaced everything that was removed from the pilot house in order to clear the Lemont Bridge. We left S. Chicago about noon on Wed. and arrived in Duluth Sunday 3:50 AM. We laid over one night at Lime Island at the southern tip of the St. Mary’s so we could run the river in daylight. We also stopped for a couple of hours in Houghton to take on another 1500 gallons of fuel.

After 3 weeks at anchor off the Duluth piers…

The Nogat finally came into port to load grain on Sunday afternoon, May 8, 2011. Above and below, she is assisted by the tug North Dakota as she made her way to the Duluth Storage (formerly Cargill)

Munson last boat to arrive for Winter

The John G. Munson came into port this morning (January 19, 2011). She is the last of 10 boats that will spend the winter in the Duluth Superior port. She was assisted by the Heritage Marine tug Nels J. The tug is helping the Munson get close to the dock after which the boat will slowly move forward, kicking the ice along the dock out as the boat moves along the dock until she is alongside and tied up just south of the Murphy Fuel Terminal.

Ice is nice

On Monday, the American Century came into Duluth with a boat load of ice. The salt water ship Orsula can be seen at anchor waiting to come in to load wheat for Italy. On Tuesday she was in and loading wheat at CHS1 in Superior (just below). Ice is the news of the day as you can see in both pictures. Where there is ice, you will often find the Nels J. out breaking the ice. I was on the Orsula working with a production company from the twin cities that was up here to find out what happens in the port. We sent some of them out on the Nels J. and below, we came back to pick them up as the big tug was pulling up to her dock in Superior. Yes, it was cold!!

Duluth Storage, formerly Cargill, is now loading the Federal Pioneer

She is seen above just after coming under the Lift Bridge, around 1 pm Friday afternoon, October 15, 2010. Above, the tug Kentucky is helping the ship (Federal Pioneer) turn around before backing into the slip at Duluth Storage (formerly Cargill), alongside the grain terminal at the right of the picture.

Olympic Melody, one of many salt water ships coming to Duluth

The Olympic Melody came into the Duluth harbor on September 29th, 2010 with the aid of two Great Lakes Towing tugs, the Kentucky on the stern and the Minnesota, just disappearing around the bow of the ship. She loaded grain at the CHS terminal in Superior.

The end is near ………

At 11:00 this morning (January 9, 2010) the Great Lakes tug North Carolina moved away from her moorings and headed down the harbor to await the arrival of the James R. Barker. The Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge is up, awaiting the big 1,000 footer’s arrival. (more coming)
The Barker was here to pick up 58,000 tons of coal at Midwest Energy Resources to take to Marquette, Michigan. She is expected back here on Tuesday to go into winter layup at Midwest Energy.
With the Barker slowly making her way to the Murphy Fuel Dock (at right), the North Carolina doubled back to take a pass along the dock while the John G. Munson patiently watched the Saturday morning activity.

The North Carolina helps the American Integrity

The American Integrity came into port this afternoon to go over to Midwest Energy Resources in Superior to get another load of coal. In the background, you see the John G. Munson at her dock at the Port Authority for winter layup. She came in on December 26th. You see the Great Lakes tug North Carolina just off the bow of the Integrity. While the Integrity stopped at Murphy Fuel, the North Carolina went just beyond the Munson in the area known as the turning basin. That’s where the American Integrity would go next, making a quarter turn so she could back up to the dock at Midwest Energy. That is how most of the big boats go to Midwest. They are then facing in the right direction when it is time to leave. The tug broke up the ice in the turning basin and then cleared the track to Midwest and did some ice breaking close by the Midwest dock.

Heritage Marine gets a second tug

Heritage Marine bought a second tug for their fleet. Called the Ares, Heritage Marine owner Mike Ojard brought her to Duluth on Tuesday, October 27. 2009. She had been used as a supply tug for oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico. Heritage owner Mike Ojard had the tug’s hull reinforced in New Orleans to increase her ice breaking capability up here. A bow thruster was also added to the vessel. She was then convoyed up the Mississippi River and into the Illinois River and up to Lemont, Illinois as a part of a tug barge combination. Ojard took it from there, bringing her up Lake Michigan and across Lake Superior to Duluth. Two years ago, Ojard purchased the tug Forney, brought it up here and renamed her Edward H. after his father, who was the chief engineer on the Edna G.

Mauthe returns as the Pathfinder

The J. L. Mauthe was built at River Rouge, Michigan in 1953. After a long and steady career, she entered layup at Fraser Shipyards in Superior in 1993. On the last day of 1996, she was towed from Fraser to the Bay Shipbuilding Company to be converted into a barge called the Pathfinder. At about the same time, Interlake Steamship also built the tug Dorothy Ann. They entered Great Lakes Service in 1999 as the barge/tug combination Dorothy Ann/Pathfinder. They arrived in Duluth to load coal last night (October 21, 2009), their first trip here as a tug barge combination. Captain Gary Schmidt and First Mate Jeremy Mock made sure the Pathfinder and Dorothy Ann had a safe passage through the wind, the rain, the snow and the ice last night.

The tug Undaunted pushed the barge Pere Marquette 41 through the Duluth ship canal and out into Lake Superior today (September 14, 2009).

Cargo? Scrap metal from Azcon Corporation. This was the 5th trip to the Twin Ports for the tug Undaunted and barge Pere Marquette this year. On the first trip, she loaded taconite rock at the Hallett Dock. The next 3 trips, she loaded scrap at the Hallet Dock and this trip as above. It is hard to believe that the barge started life in 1941 as a ferry, considered by many to be the most luxurious ferry ever built. She had other names in between then and now.

Pere Marquette taking scrap out

In late May, the barge Pere Marquette 41 arrived at the Hallett Dock to load a cargo of taconite rock. It was the first trip to the Twin Ports for either the barge or its tug, Undaunted. On Tuesday, they were back, and going to the Hallett Dock, but this time, they loaded scrap steel to take to Algoma Steel at the other end of Lake Superior. It will be recycled into their blast furnaces and made into steel again. The barge left on Wednesday morning (pictured). Photo taken on July 15, 2009
*submitted to the Duluth News Tribune for publication on 07-16-2009

Erika Kobasic brings large piece of cargo

Usually, high pressure containers that come here for oil and gasification projects were built in Japan and brought in on a heavy lift ship. On Tuesday afternoon, one arrived on a barge pulled by the tug Erika Kobasic. It was built in Bellevue, Ohio, taken by truck to Sandusky, put on the barge and brought to Duluth. The vessel was pulled off the barge at the Port Terminal on Tuesday afternoon. Notice in the picture the container is sitting in a metal frame with lots of wheels on it. A special tractor, not pictured, was brought to Duluth to pull the piece very slowly off the barge. As soon as it was off, the tug Erika Kobasic departed for the next job. From here the high pressure container will go by train or truck to Cambridge where it will be split open for more work, put back together and then taken by either truck or train to Beula, North Dakota where a company called Dakota Gasification will use it in their plant. And you thought your job was complicated. Photo taken on June 30, 2009
*submitted to the Duluth News Tribune for publication on 07-01-2009

A new (to the port) vessel came into port today (June 30, 2009)

The tug Erika Kobasic brought a high pressure vessel into port today. It was loaded in Sandusky and will eventually be taken to Beulah, North Dakota. It was discharged at the Port Terminal today (June 30, 2009). For more pictures, click here: http://www.lswci.com/erikakobasic2009.html

Ostrander and Integrity arrive Duluth

The tug G. L. Ostrander pushed the barge Integrity through a rainy, even cold, Duluth ship canal on Saturday morning (pictured). One family and a photographer were the only people in sight. More should be there this afternoon when the same combination departs. It has replaced the Alpena as the Lafarge vessel to deliver cement to the Twin Ports. The Alpena is in temporary dry dock in Alpena, Michigan, waiting one supposes for the economy, particularly the construction industry, to improve. The port does have a lot of integrity today. Along with the barge Integrity, the American Integrity will be here to load coal. Photo taken on June 27, 2009
*submitted to the Duluth News Tribune for publication on 06-28-2009

Party for Pere Marquette 41-Undaunted

The barge Pere Marquette 41 arrived at the Hallett Dock on Thursday afternoon (above) ready to load a cargo of taconite rock, also called Mesabi hard rock by project sponsor Natural Resources Research Institute (NRRI) at UMD. A large group of reporters, port officials, and project members were at the dock to greet the vessel when it arrived. It was a celebration heralding a potential new business venture, using taconite rock from the Iron Range as road bed aggregate, in this case, in Chicago. Dock-side celebrations have been few and far between with diminished boat traffic and increased security measures. It was good for the port to pay attention to the tug and barge and good for the region that we were watching what many hope will be a new cargo going through the Twin Ports. Several people pointed out that more jobs was the bottom line in the project. Photo taken on May 29, 2009
*submitted to the Duluth News Tribune for publication on 05-30-2009

Big day at the Hallett Dock #5

pm20090529_6181The tug Undaunted pulled her barge, the Pere Marquette 41, into the Hallett Dock #5 in West Duluth on Thursday afternoon, May 28th. Both were making their first trip on Lake Superior and they are here to pick up the first cargo of taconite rock to be taken from Duluth.
Reporters, cameras and project members all awaited the vessel as she backed into the dock.
It is a project developed at the UMD Natural Resources Research Institute (NRRI) that is finding new ways to use taconite ore from the Iron Range. This rock has a very low level of iron content in it and would not be used to make pellets but it is an ideal material to serve as aggregate in making road surfaces. This rock is going to Chicago for a test run.
Mike McCoshen, Hallett Dock President, is interviewed about the project
Above, Peter Passi of the Duluth News Tribune interviews Ron Johnson from the Duluth Seaway Port Authority
The taconite pile about to be loaded is seen just behind an anxious audience. Behind the pile, the ship loader (blue) is slowly moving into position.
pm20090529_6246There were two front-end loaders picking up the taconite rock and dropping it in the hopper that fed the conveyor belt up to the barge. Above, foreground, you see one of them picking up a load at the pile while the other one, top right, is about to dump the rock into the hopper.Taconite is moving up the ship loader conveyor and into the vessel’s cargo hold. The hard work begins and for the rest of us, it is time to go home.

Pere Marquette and Undaunted arrive Duluth

The Pere Marquette 41 and tug Undaunted arrived in Duluth late this afternoon (above). They are here to load taconite rock that will be taken to Chicago to be used as a surface treatment on roads. It may also be used in the manufacture of cement. This is an entirely new use for taconite taken directly out of the ground. Usually, we receive iron ore pellets from the Iron Range that have been processed in large ball mills that take ground-up taconite and combine it with other ingredients including limestone and turn it into pellets that eventually get fed to giant blast furnaces in steel mills such as US Steel in Gary.

G.L. Ostrander exits Duluth with Integrity

On Sunday morning, the tug G.L. Ostrander arrived in Duluth pushing the barge Integrity that was loaded with a cargo of cement. On Monday afternoon, the pair departed the Twin Ports by way of a very windy Duluth ship canal (above). There was a line for the coal dock on Monday that will probably last through today. Both the Canadian Progress and Canadian Olympic were at anchor waiting on the Paul R. Tregurtha on Monday. Both likely came in, loaded coal and departed by first light today. That left the coal dock for the Indiana Harbor unless the American Mariner, expected last night with limestone, discharged that cargo and got over to the coal dock first.
*submitted to the Duluth News Tribune for publication on 05-26-2009

Undaunted brings the Pere Marquette to Duluth


Thanks to Frank Frisk for the picture above, taken on the St. Clair River.

I don’t know which is more interesting; the history of the barge Pere Marquette and tug Undaunted, or the trip they are making to Duluth on Thursday, May 28th. I refer you to the article by  Brian Ferguson  on the Boatnerd for the long and illustrious story. You will learn in the article that "… the Marquette has hauled anything practically everywhere." That pretty much covers it but the details are fascinating.
   On this trip, the everywhere is the Hallett Dock in West Duluth. The anything is taconite rock. The destination is Chicago, but not to a steel mill. This taconite will be used as a road surface. Some of the shipment will also go to a Chicago area cement and concrete manufacturer because the silica and iron ore in taconite are major ingredients in the manufacturing of Portland cement. I refer you to a press release from Natural Resources Research Institute (NRRI) at the University of  Minnesota at Duluth, reprinted below.

Iron Range to ship new product to Chicago via tug/barge

DULUTH, Minn. – Taconite rock, found in overabundance on Minnesota’s Iron Range, makes an extremely durable and high-performing aggregate, according to research at the University of Minnesota Duluth’s Natural Resources Research Institute (NRRI). It has been used extensively in the northland, but this week it will be transported from Duluth to Chicago via the Great Lakes, testing its “shipability” and potential as a new, readily available aggregate product for other areas.

   Chicago’s local aggregate sources are primarily limestone-based, a softer rock than taconite. Iron Range aggregate could meet their needs for a tougher surface treatment on roads. That could mean longer lasting roads for the greater Chicago area, less road construction and less overall cost. NRRI’s research also shows that hard taconite rock has excellent friction characteristics for safer driving conditions when applied to the road surface. Some of the shipment will also go to a Chicago area cement and concrete manufacturer because the silica and iron ore in taconite are major ingredients in the manufacturing of Portland cement.
   Millions of tons of Iron Range taconite rock are available in northern Minnesota, without the need to create or expand gravel quarries in busy urban areas where aggregate is needed.
   “The logistics of moving the aggregate in a cost effective way has been the tough part,” said NRRI geologist Larry Zanko, principal investigator on the project. “But the tug and barge system offers promise for efficient transportation.”
   The vintage barge Pere Marquette 41 and tug Undaunted have been in operation on the Great Lakes since 1997, but this is her first trip on Lake Superior. The barge can carry 5,000 net tons of dry bulk or 240,000 cubic feet of cargo. Depending on weather, it will take four to five days to move the 5,000 tons of aggregate rock to Chicago.
   “Not a single taconite pellet is being produced right now on the Iron Range,” said Zanko. “This highlights the importance of tapping into taconite rock as a more durable, more sustainable, and more energy efficient alternative to lesser-quality crushed stone, especially as the nation’s transportation infrastructure needs serious upgrading.”
   Many port businesses are excited about the possibilities in a new product from the Iron Range. Hallett Dock Company hopes to attract customers that can take advantage of the movement by bringing their bulk products to Duluth on the up-bound trip, according to Hallett Dock President Mike McCoshen.
   “We’re unique because we’re not product-specific like the coal docks, ore docks or grain elevators,” said McCoshen. “We’re more of a bulk commodities boutique, and can ship 500,000 tons to 5,000 tons, like this project. We hope there is potential for the long-term on this one.”
   The Duluth Seaway Port Authority anticipates that, if demand for taconite aggregate grows, it could eventually be carried on larger vessels at an even lower cost per ton.    “This shipment of taconite aggregate is a great example of how the cost and fuel efficiencies of waterborne transportation can open up new, niche markets around the Great Lakes,” noted Ron Johnson, the Port Authorities’ trade development director.
   Earlier this month, the Lake Carriers’ Association reported that Great Lakes iron ore shipments are down 70 percent from last year at this time because of the economic downturn. A new potential product from the Iron Range is a welcome bit of good news.
   “For those of us in the shipping business, this is a ray of sunshine in a cloudy sky,” said Pere Marquette Operations Manager Chuck Leonard.
   Laurentian Aggregate of Duluth worked closely with NRRI and was instrumental in facilitating this shipment. Funding for NRRI’s aggregate research is provided by the U.S. Department of Commerce (Economic Development Administration), Iron Range Resources, Blandin Foundation, Minnesota Power, Minnesota Technology, Inc., and the University of Minnesota Permanent Trust Fund.
   The mission of NRRI is to foster the economic development of Minnesota’s natural resources in an environmentally sound manner to promote private sector employment. —end—

G.L. Ostrander enters Duluth with Integrity

For many years, the Alpena has been used by Lafarge North America to bring cement to the Twin Ports, averaging about 15 trips a year. It has not been back since its first trip here this season at the end of March. Shortly after that, it was placed in temporary layup. On Sunday, the tug G.L. Ostrander arrived in Duluth with the barge Integrity loaded with cement (above). It is the first cement delivery from Lafarge since that last trip by the Alpena. The tug barge combination is owned and operated by Lafarge. The Integrity was built in 1996 and was here twice that year and twice in 2006. This is its 5th trip to the Twin Ports. Tug/barge combinations are less expensive to operate than Great Lakes freighters due in part to lower manpower requirements. That may be one reason why Lafarge switched vessels in a year when the construction industry is not doing well. Photo taken on May 24, 2009
*submitted to the Duluth News Tribune for publication on 05-25-2009

Sea Robin/barge Hugh in Duluth harbor

The tug Sea Robin arrived in Duluth on Tuesday afternoon at 2:30 (above). It was pushing the barge Hugh with a cargo of calcium chloride for the Hallett #8 dock in Superior. Calcium chloride is a high grade liquid (42% salt content) that needs to be diluted a bit here before it is sent to the end customer, mostly county highway departments in Minnesota. They use it to keep the dust down on road construction and maintenance projects. Photo taken on May 05, 2009
*submitted to the Duluth News Tribune for publication on 05-06-2009

Tug barge makes first Twin Ports appearance

The tug barge combination Sea Robin and barge Hugh came under the Lift Bridge on Tuesday afternoon at 2:30. Cargo: liquid calcium chloride loaded near Ludington, Michigan.

Spring is close, maybe

With bright sun and melting snow, the Mesabi Miner departed the port today (April 9, 2009) with coal for Detroit Edison. She often spends the winter in the Twin Ports, but this layup, she was in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. This was her second trip to the Twin Ports this year. The Marine Museum’s tug Bayfield is at the right foreground.

The tug Edward H. is getting ready to work

The tug Edward H. spent the winter behind the DECC. Mike Ojard and his son Patrick were down there installing some new pumps for their engines today. That’s Patrick waving to the camera. Mike’s other son, Vince, is the third member of the family partnership. They are open for business and waiting for the season to start like everybody else. They may go to Two Harbors shortly to break up the ice. That will take them by their home port of Knife River.

Joseph H. Thompson kicks up some ice fog

The tug barge Joseph H. Thompson departed Duluth on Sunday morning sending some birds from the thin ice into the air. With a cargo of iron ore pellets in the barge, it was completing its 23rd trip here this season. It was only here 15 times last year and 5 the year before that. When it moved out of the ship canal and into Lake Superior, the crew no doubt saw the Polish owned Irma at anchor, a sight we have not seen much this season. No other boats were active in the port. Late last night, the Kaye E. Barker was expected to pass by the Irma on its way to Midwest Energy Resources to load coal for Marquette. The Irma was expected to come in at first light this morning. Photo taken on December 07, 2008
*submitted to the Duluth News Tribune for publication on 12-08-2008

Joseph H. Thompson has lively history

The tug-barge Joseph H. Thompson (seen above entering the Duluth harbor in 2005) is due today with a load of salt. This is the 19th trip here this season but only the 5th one with salt. It usually brings in limestone. As today, it has almost always departed with a cargo of iron ore pellets, sometimes from the CN dock in West Duluth, other times as today from the BNSF dock in Superior. The barge part is still most of the hull of a boat built in 1944 as the Marine Robin. It crossed the Atlantic several times during the war and was one of the many boats used in the Normandy invasion. In 1990, the vessel was turned into a barge when the stern and part of the hull were removed. A tug was built from the steel that was removed and was then inserted into a notch built into the back of the barge.
*submitted to the Duluth News Tribune for publication on 11-03-2008

Great Lakes Trader departs with Joyce

Since 2003, there have never been more than 10 arrivals at the Duluth entry in one day. Since then we have had that many arrivals in one day 7 times. We have had 9 ships arrive in one day 9 times since 2003. Today should push that number to 10. During that time, the average number of daily ship arrivals at the Duluth entry is 3.84. Included in the mix today are two tug barges, two river class boats, two thousand footers and three boats between 730 and 770 feet long. The self-unloading barge Great Lakes Trader pushed by the tug Joyce L. Van Enkevort should be the first to arrive and may be gone by the time the sun is up.
*submitted to the Duluth News Tribune for publication on 10-15-2008

Tug W.N.Twolan and barge McAllister 132

The tug W. N. Twolan came into port on Monday morning pushing the barge McAllister 132 (above). The barge was loaded with wood pulp bales. The tower you see in the middle of the picture is an elevated pilothouse that sits on the barge and not on the tug. The tug itself has the main pilothouse which is used when cargo on the barge does not obscure the view. Here, with a large load, the captain is navigating from the elevated pilothouse. The barge is being discharged by longshoremen at Lake Superior Warehousing at the Port Terminal. Photo taken on September 29, 2008
*submitted to the Duluth News Tribune for publication on 09-30-2008

Three boats in the Duluth harbor

After a wait at anchor off the Duluth piers, the Federal Ems came into port today (Wednesday, September 24th, 2008) to load grain. The Vista King was right behind her giving tourists a close up view of the action. The tug North Dakota is at right, moving in to help the Federal Ems make her way to the CHS dock in Superior.

Tug Billmaier bringing in the tow

A Corp of Engineers tow came back to its home port (above) after a summer of working breakwaters in the Great Lakes. They left in June for Two Harbors and then went down to Burns Harbor. On the way back, they did more breakwater work at Marquette before returning to Two Harbors and then home yesterday. Breakwaters are created and maintained with very large pieces of stone and concrete. The Corps maintains piles of stone all over the Great Lakes that the tow can load on to their two barges rather than carrying the material long distances. From right to left, the tug Billmaier is pulling the entire tow, as the combination of vessels is called. Behind the tug is the derrick barge H. J. Schwartz and behind the Schwartz are two more barges, often carrying the stone they use. Attached to the side of the derrick barge is the Hammond Bay, a work tug that is used for a variety of tasks. After the tow entered the harbor on Monday, the Hammond Bay was detached and went to the back to help the Billmaier turn the entire lineup into the Corps of Engineers vessel yard. Photo taken on September 23, 2008
*submitted to the Duluth News Tribune for publication on 09-24-2008

Edward H. newest tug for Heritage Marine

The Edward H. came under the Lift Bridge on Monday afternoon (above) ready to get to work as a new tug for hire in the Twin Ports. The former US Corp of Engineers tug Forney was purchased by Mike Ojard and his sons, Pat and Vince last year and renamed in honor of Mike’s father. They are open for business as Heritage Marine, accepting general towing jobs, particularly assisting salt water ships as they enter the harbor. They also anticipate breaking ice for boats needing assistance this winter. There will be a need since the shipping season usually continues until mid January. Photo taken on September 08, 2008
*submitted to the Duluth News Tribune for publication on 09-09-2008

Tug Margot & barge Lockwood 1000 here from Newport News, Virginia

It’s enough that the tug Margot brought the barge Lockwood 1000 here from Newport News, Virginia by way of the Atlantic Ocean, the Hudson River, the Erie Canal and the Great Lakes. The cargo, 2 very large steam turbines and a smaller generator, is so difficult to handle that the same people who loaded it in Newport News came up to Duluth, by truck, to discharge the cargo from the barge. A gantry crane on the barge will pick up the cargo, and a special truck the crew from Newport News brought with them will move onto the barge and under the gantry crane. The crane will place the cargo on the truck, the truck will back off the barge and place the cargo on the ground. The barge’s gantry crane will then be brought down to pick the cargo up so it can be placed on a special rail car. Some of the cargo will also be placed on a truck. I am not sure if it is a special truck. Everything else about the move is special. The discharge should take place this morning at the Port Terminal.
*submitted to the Duluth News Tribune for publication on 06-26-2008

Tug Margot pushed the barge Lockwood 1000

On Monday morning, the tug Margot pushed the barge Lockwood 1000 under the Lift Bridge to complete a trip that started in Newport News, Virginia and went up the Atlantic Ocean and entered the Hudson River at New York and then up the Hudson River and into the Erie Canal. From there the tug pushed into Lake Erie and up to Duluth. It was felt that was the only way to move 2 very large steam turbines and a smaller generator from Newport News to the final destination in Calgary. The barge is a ro-ro, with a ramp allowing cargo to be rolled on and rolled off the barge. The barge has its own gantry crane that will lift the pieces straight up so in this case, a special truck will use the ramp to get on the barge and under the pieces. They will be lowered onto the truck and taken off the barge and then placed onto a special rail car for the final leg of the trip from Duluth to Calgary. In the picture above, you can see the lifting mechanism on the barge just left of center.
*submitted to the Duluth News Tribune for publication on 06-25-2008

W. N. Twolan brings baled wood pulp

Stevedores at Lake Superior Warehousing Company began to discharge baled wood pulp from the barge McAllister 132 (above) on Wednesday morning. The barge was brought down from Thunder Bay by the tug W. N. Twolan. One lift truck is on the barge, taking one stack at a time and moving it to the opening at the side of the barge where another lift truck is picking them up to take to the warehouse. The bow of the barge is visible at the right. The picture was taken from just inside the warehouse. With favorable weather, they will complete the discharge on Friday evening.
*submitted to the Duluth News Tribune for publication on 06-05-2008

W. N. Twolan arrives with the wind

An east wind with gusts up to 33 mph blew behind the tug W. N. Twolan as it entered the Duluth harbor at 6:30 last night (above). The tug was pushing a barge filled with a cargo of baled wood pulp that will be discharged at the Port Terminal today. The captain was navigating from an elevated pilothouse built on the barge, an unusual combination. They came from Thunder Bay, about a 25 hour trip, perhaps a little faster this time with the wind at their back.
*submitted to the Duluth News Tribune for publication on 06-04-2008

Walter J. McCarthy Jr. has a problem

On January 14th, the Walter J. McCarthy Jr. arrived in port for winter layup but hit a submerged object while backing into the dock at Hallett 8 in Superior. It stayed there until Tuesday morning when three tugs moved it to the Enbridge Dock in Superior for continued repairs (above). The tug North Carolina is tied to the bow of the boat and is pulling, or towing, the McCarthy behind it. For the most part, it was able to pull the boat by itself. The tug Kentucky was tied to the stern of the boat, performing the job of the break pedal if there was a problem and the maneuver had to be stopped. In such a case, it would shift into reverse to slow the forward movement of the boat. Unseen in this picture is the tug Minnesota. It was not tied to the boat, but provided pushing power when needed, usually in making a slight course correction.
*submitted to the Duluth News Tribune for publication on 04-09-2008

Tug North Carolina icebreaking

Captain George LaTour had the Great Lakes tug North Carolina out on Sunday morning (above) to help the Mesabi Miner get away from its berth at Midwest Energy Resources and down the Superior channel to the open water just beyond the Superior entry. The Miner is taking coal to Marquette and then returning to Superior to load coal for Taconite Harbor. As last year, the Miner was the first boat to depart the port and will be the first boat to arrive in port when it comes back, probably on Wednesday. It will then, as last year, become the second departure of the new season and the second arrival when it returns from Taconite Harbor to load more coal for Marquette. In the photo, the North Carolina is running along side the Alder breaking ice on the edge of the track made by the Coast Guard cutter Alder, making it a little wider for the 1,000 footer about to come down the channel. Photo taken on March 16, 2008
*submitted to the Duluth News Tribune for publication on 03-17-2008

Miner here (with help) for winter layup

The Mesabi Miner came under the Lift Bridge on Monday morning at 6:15. Just after clearing the Bridge, the 1,000-footer ground to a halt in the ice behind the DECC. The tug Kentucky had trouble breaking away from the ice at the tug berth but was soon on the scene opening a crack in the ice in front of the Mesabi Miner. After a half hour in the ice, the Miner broke free, and with the Kentucky leading the way, moved over to the Murphy Fuel Dock. Meanwhile, the Alder also had trouble getting away from its dock, but after a half hour, it was away in time to clear a track for the Mesabi Miner to move from the Fuel Dock to its winter berth at Midwest Energy Resources in Superior. The Kentucky stayed close by the Miner (above) until it was safely and securely tied up at the dock, thus ending the 2007-08 shipping season in the Twin Ports. The three boats will likely meet again in 2 months when the new season will open and the ice will likely be a lot thicker. Hopefully, the temperature will be a bit higher. Photo taken on January 21, 2008
*submitted to the Duluth News Tribune for publication on 01-22-2008

Kentucky provides tug assist

In the summer, the Great Lakes tugs can often be seen helping vessels make their way around the harbor and up to a berth. Above, the tug Kentucky is pulling the Canadian flagged Algoisle from a berth at CHS in Superior in November, 2004 so it can move down the Duluth harbor and out the Duluth entry to Lake Superior. In the winter, the same tugs can be found backing and ramming ice in the harbor to break open or clear a track for a US or Canadian laker trying to move through the ice. Today, or last night, the Kentucky will break, or broke, ice in front of the Mesabi Miner as it returned from Marquette after the last delivery of cargo from or to the port. The state of the ice is an unknown since there has been no traffic within the port since the Mesabi Miner left on Friday and more important, the temperatures have plummeted. Almost for sure, the Mesabi Miner will come in, or has come in, the Duluth entry and will or has made it to its winter berth at Midwest Energy Resources in Superior. It was due here around 2 am this morning, but could easily have been delayed by weather. It may try to make it as far as it can in the ice and then wait there for morning, when additional tugs and or the Alder can provide more assistance. The Miner will not have to drop an anchor while it waits since being surrounded by ice performs the same service of keeping the vessel from moving. Photo taken on November 09, 2004
*submitted to the Duluth News Tribune for publication on 01-21-2008

Anna Marie moving some ice

Bad weather at the other end of Lake Superior pushed Wednesday’s full schedule to today. Warm weather here has stalled the ice buildup in the harbor, but this late in the season, most boats still need help. Above, the Philip R. Clarke is moving slowly through the harbor on its way to the CN Dock in West Duluth. In front, the tug Anna Marie Altman is leading the way. The Coast Guard cutter Alder was out clearing the ice in the main channels. The picture above, taken from the Alder, shows the Anna Marie clearing ice in front of the Clarke (in the background). Photo taken on January 09, 2008
*submitted to the Duluth News Tribune for publication on 01-10-2008

North Dakota helps Gadwall

The Gadwall arrived last night for the second time this year. After coming under the Lift Bridge, the tug North Dakota gave it an assist as it made the turn into the harbor and then to the berth at AGP (above). The Birchglen sailed in shortly after the Gadwall, on its way to load grain at the Cargill elevator in Duluth, just next to AGP. This may be the single most diverse ship we see here. It does a little of everything. Some years ago, it loaded coal here and took it out the Seaway and down the Atlantic Coast to Belledune, a small port in the province of New Brunswick, just north of Maine. Once, it loaded taconite pellets here that it took to China. It was built in Scotland as the Canada Marquis, it has sailed as the Federal Richelieu and has been here many times as the Federal Mackenzie and even just Mackenzie. Both ships are loading grain. The Birchglen may depart this evening. Photo taken on August 09, 2007.
*submitted to the Duluth News Tribune for publication on 08-10-2007

Busch Buffalo bound

The tug Gregory J. Busch came into port a couple days ago to load wind turbine base units built by DMI Industries in West Fargo, North Dakota. They were brought down here by truck. For two days, longshoremen at Lake Superior Warehousing have been loading those units onto the barge the Busch brought with it. Specially built hardware was attached to each piece and the port’s two gantry cranes slowly lifted the piece, with hardware, onto the barge. Above, you can see they were starting on the second, and last, tier yesterday, using the hardware to connect the first tier units with those on the second tier. When they complete loading the barge, possibly later today, they will depart the port for Buffalo where the base units will be discharged onto trucks and taken to a wind farm in upper New York State. Photo taken on June 01, 2007.
*submitted to the Duluth News Tribune for publication on 06-02-2007

Joseph H. Thompson has long history

The tug-barge Joseph H. Thompson is due today with a load of limestone. After discharging that cargo, it will load taconite at the Burlington Northern before departing the Superior entry. The barge part is still most of the hull of a boat built in 1944 as the Marine Robin. It crossed the Atlantic several times during the war and was one of the many boats used in the Normandy invasion. In 1990, the vessel was turned into a barge when the stern and part of the hull were removed. A tug was built from the steel that was removed and was then inserted into a notch built into the back of the barge. It was here 14 times in 2003, and has been making fewer trips since then, coming only 5 times last year. This is the second trip this season.
*submitted to the Duluth News Tribune for publication on 05-27-2007

Great Lakes Trader arrives Duluth

The self-unloading barge Great Lakes Trader arrived yesterday afternoon (above) with a load of limestone. The barge is pushed by the tug Joyce L. Van Enkevort. The barge was built in 2000 in Mississippi and the tug was built in 1998 in Sturgeon Bay. They have been together since 2000. You can see the tug’s elevated pilot house that allows the captain better vision when navigating the vessel. The barge has a self unloader on the deck. After discharging their cargo of limestone, they will move over to the Burlington Northern Dock in Superior to load taconite for a down-bound cargo. Photo taken on May 09, 2007.
*submitted to the Duluth News Tribune for publication on 05-10-2007

The tug Mark Hannah brings salt water

The tug Mark Hannah arrived in port on Thursday morning with a barge filled with calcium chloride, otherwise known as saltwater. The cargo was pumped from salt mines near Ludington, Michigan. The source of the calcium chloride is essentially a well near or in a salt mine. It is a high grade liquid (42% salt content) that needs to be diluted a bit here before it is sent to the end customer, mostly county highway departments in Minnesota. They use it to keep the dust down on road construction or maintenance projects. The tug barge is owned and operated by Hannah Marine, located in a suburb of Chicago. They have the largest U.S. flagged liquid bulk fleet on the Great Lakes.
*submitted to the Duluth News Tribune for publication on 04-27-2007

Rebecca comes to Duluth

Spring can’t be too far away if our tugs are bringing salt water ships into port to load grain. The Rebecca was the first saltie of the year, coming in yesterday afternoon. It is now loading grain at the CHS terminal in Superior. Above, the tug Minnesota had the stern of the Rebecca while the North Dakota was at the bow. Salt water ships are built for speed on the oceans and not for navigating inside harbors, so tugs are often called upon to help the ships maneuver around the turns and into the berths where they will be loading. In the picture above, you can see several patches of ice. The inner harbor was about half full of ice last night as the east wind is giving us all the ice that Lake Superior doesn’t want. If the predicted snow arrived last night, a walk down by the harbor today will look like a day in December with nothing but ice and snow.
*submitted to the Duluth News Tribune for publication on 4/11/2007