John G. Munson

 James R. Barker

John G. Munson was built in 1952, is 768 feet long and flies the U.S. flag

John J. Boland
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Click just below to hear her whistle on September 1, 2015
Note: The Munson arrived at Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding on Dec 17, 2015 so she could have her steam power engine replaced by a diesel engine. That work was finished in early 2017; sea trials were expected to begin in April, 2017
The John G. Munson was built in 1952 at Manitowoc, Wisconsin. She was johngmunson20090427_5199lengthened by 102 feet in 1976, an upgrade that extended her useful life on the Great Lakes. Unlike many boats built in the 50’s, the Munson had a self-unloading boom from the beginning. She has 22 hatches on her deck that open into 7 cargo holds and provide a cargo capacity of 25,900 tons. She had one of the best steam whistles on the Great Lakes but it has been replaced by an air whistle that is still quite loud.
She was powered by a 7,700-hp steam turbine and is eqjohnmunson2008Jun28_4844uipped with both bow and stern thrusters that allow her to maneuver in tight situations, particularly close to docks. In many ways, these engines replace the work done by a tugboat in previous years. Her stern thruster was originally the bow thruster from the Enders. M. Voorhees, and was installed in 1986. She was named after the president of Michigan Limestone who became an officer for United States Steel Corporation in 1939. He retired in 1951 and died the next year. A new boat, launched that year, took his name while the older version became the Irvin L. Clymer.
Today the Munson often brings limestone when she comes to the Twin Ports but she carries a wide variety of cargos including iron ore pellets and coal. During the 2012-13 season, she came to Duluth-Superior 21 times.
Above, the Munson arrives Duluth on April 27, 2009; below on December 27th.


Picture above taken Wednesday, December 31, 2008: The Munson loading iron ore pellets at the CN dock in West Duluth on the last day of the year, 2008. Her self unloader is swung out over the water (ice) to provide room for the gravity chutes to fill her cargo holds with taconite
Picture above and below taken on March 9, 2007 while the Munson spent winter layup in the Fraser Shipyards dry dock.  Out of the water, you can see her prop below and the rudder to the left of the prop.
The 2007 shipping season opened with a lot of ice; above, on March 30, the Munson was on her way to Two Harbors but got caught by some ice. Check the link for more information.
Picture above taken Saturday, December 16, 2006
Picture above taken Sunday, September 4, 2005; below taken Sunday, September 4, 2005
Picture above and the 2 below taken Friday, December 24, 2004
Picture above taken April 21; below on Sunday, August 24, 2003
Picture above taken Sunday, March 24, 2002
Picture above taken may 19, 2001; just below on June 30, and below that on December 9.
Above taken on May 14; below on June 28
Above taken November 16, 1999


  1. Jim Fisher says:

    Along about 1995 maybe, I was lucky to be a guest aboard. With a load of coal bound for the upper lakes. Then on to Two Rivers to load taconite. Unloaded at Lorain,Ohio. All thanks to a man named Frank Sullivan. He bought the Benson Ford and had the bow put on land on South Bass Island, Lake Erie. What a greT experience for me.

  2. Bob Gallenberger says:

    I saw the Munson launched in Manitowoc 1952. My entire school was paraded to the river to view the launch.

  3. Christian says:

    The Munson looks similar to the Lower Lakes Towing Freighter M/V Saginaw

  4. Munson on the lake headed to Gary. 2015 is under way!

  5. William Mueller says:

    Nothing like a nice AAA lakeboat. :)The best kind.

  6. Richard Neuwirth says:

    The article states she had a steam whistle converted to air. For what purpose? An entirely new whistle or just fed by air now? Why not stick with steam?

  7. Jeffrey Mehlhorn says:

    Why was the Munson laid up for all of 2013?

  8. It would be interesting to see what they do to bring A ship like the Munson back to life after being off for more than a year, ships stores, dry and fresh goods freezers and such.(the chef in me wondering) Fuel and lube load. Generally everything the crew has been doing for the last week or so to get the ship livable. What the Officers have been planning for routing with the ice breakers, and planning timing with the other ships that will convoy out.
    And as always Ken thank you for the wonderful job you do keeping us informed.

  9. Looks like the Munson starts the parade out early this year.

  10. Tristin (loves ships) says:

    Sadly, along with John J. Boland and others, starting the 2013 season she is not needed. Hopefully later in the season she will run.

  11. Does the crew stay on the ship when the start of the ship season.Or do they work for so many weeks and have off for so long.And a new crew comes on.

  12. David Marlette says:

    Has to be one of the best looking laker, iced or sunning.

  13. For a 62 year old still the nicest lines on the lakes

  14. Don from Down South says:

    To me, one of the coolest ships on the lakes.

  15. Tristin (loves ships) says:

    pretty ship

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