Lee A. Tregurtha

Lake Superior (tug)

Lee A. Tregurtha was built in 1942, is 826 feet long and flies a U.S. flag

Olive L. Moore/Lewis J. Kuber (Buckeye)
Previous names:
Samoset: 1942-1942
USS Chiwawa (see picture just below): 1942-1946 Chiwawa: 1946-1961
Walter A. Sterling: 1961-1985
William Clay Ford (2): 1985-1989
Lee A. Tregurtha: 1989-

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Listen to her whistle on April 4, 2012
USS Chiwawa at the Norfolk Navy Yard January 31, 1943 – from the BoatNerd.com collection
leeatregurtharbattleribbons2008Sep27_3147The Lee A. Tregurtha has a long past with many names. Built in 1942 as an ocean tanker and used in the Atlantic to refuel allied boats in the Second World War, she was awarded two battle stars for service in the war and was decommissioned in 1946. Her battle ribbons are displayed on the boat, on the side of the pilot house (at right). (more information below)
Above, arriving Duluth on January 16, 2017 for winter layup
Above, after discharging limestone at the Grayont Superior lime plant and loading iron ore pellets at the CN dock, the Lee A. Tregurtha departed on September 1, 2016
In 1961, the Lee A. Tregurtha was rebuilt, lengthened by 228 feet, converted into a bulk freighter on the Great Lakes and renamed the Walter A. Sterling. In 1976 she was lengthened again by 96 feet at the Fraser Shipyards in Superior. Two years later a 250-foot self-unloading boom was added on her deck.
In 1985 she was renamed the William Clay Ford (2), and in 1989 she received her present name after the wife of Paul R. Tregurtha, currently Vice Chairman of the Board of Interlake Steamship Company, the ship’s owner. She made 18 trips to Duluth during the 2012-13 season.
Above and below, July 1, 2015, she arrived Duluth to load iron ore pellets at the CN dock.
Above, Holly caught the Lee A. Tregurtha departing Duluth on September 18, 2014  after loading iron ore pellets at the CN dock in West Duluth.
Above, she was here in April, 2013 to discharge coal at the Hallett Dock before going next door to the CN dock to load iron ore pellets. Below, she departed Duluth on August 11, 2013
Above and below, she arrives Duluth in April, 2012 to load iron ore pellets at the CN dock in West Duluth.
Above, she got waved into the Duluth harbor on June 21, 2011 to load iron ore pellets at the CN. The two below taken when she was here on December 26, 2011 to load iron ore pellets.
Above, she spent the 2008-09 winter layup at Fraser Shipyard, here sitting behind her sister Kaye E. Barker. Below, she was back in port on April 27, 2009 to load coal at Midwest Energy.
Picture above taken January 11, 2008, below taken a month later on February 22, 2008, at Fraser Shipyard during winter layup, 2007-08.
Picture below taken Sunday, March 23, 2008 when she left layup on her first trip of the new season.
Above, on Tuesday, April 22, 2008, when she was here to load coal; below on July 23, 2008 as she departed after loading iron ore pellets at the CN.
Below, arriving September 27, 2008 to load iron ore pellets at the CN
Departing Duluth on January 5, 2007
Picture above taken Saturday, March 26, 2005. She was the first boat to come to Duluth from the other side of the Soo Locks. She went to the DMIR Dock to load iron ore pellets. I went over to check out the first arrival; and had a nice talk with Captain James Nuzzo. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. and began his sailing career with the U.S. Coast Guard. From 1968 to 1972 he served at the Toledo small boat station, onboard the Coast Guard Cutter Mesquite and at the Rescue Center in Cleveland. That’s him walking down the deck of the Tregurtha during my visit.
He sailed with Ford Motor Company’s fleet from 1976 to 1989 and sailed for Interlake since then. He was permanent master of the Lee A. since 1992. He is now retired from the big boat, but he races sailboats on the Great Lakes. He restored a classic wood Chriscraft runabout.
He brought his boat here many times, along with his extremely loud, two tone whistle that he thought was original equipment from 1942 when the boat was built. It is so loud he never uses it between 10 pm and 7 am. The whistle has since been replaced.
Below, she was back at the same dock  on April 11, 2005.
She arrived Duluth on September 7, 2002
Picture above and below taken July 3, 2001 while she was discharging limestone. Below that, she departs Duluth after finishing her limestone discharge.
Picture above as she arrived on July 4, 2000
Above, in the Duluth harbor in June, 1997; below arriving July, 1997


  1. Austin loves ships says:


  2. Oh dear, Ken – floaters on the lake and the Tregurtha iced on the bow! Can’t believe that another shipping season will be slowing down! I do love the “lakers” — they are majestic ships! Happy belated Thanksgiving to all lovers of the Great Lakes! We are blessed to have this site which enables us to enjoy all related activities on the lakes!

  3. Thank you very much ! My dad will be excited to know this about his old ore carrier. I will pass this onto him today. Regards Larry

  4. My dad sailed on the JC Morse in the 1950’s. It was owned by Interlake Steamship Co. I wonder if the ship still exists? Anyone have any info?

  5. She’s anchored in front of my house on an inner anchor. Wow, close up view.

  6. Tristin (loves ships) says:

    Love the old picture. 🙂

  7. Thank you crewmen!!

  8. Paul Wesley says:

    shipped from May 1979 to January 1980 aboard the ship.

  9. just saw it leave Duluth, MN today. She still looks good.

  10. Having lived in Cleveland OH for 20 yrs in the 80s & 90s, I remember benefit parties where the big prize was a cruise aboard one of the ore boats. I also remember the wives of the owners christening the boats, Mrs James Barker and Mrs Fred White, are a couple of them I recall. Happy days and a bit of history.

  11. me too suzanne!

  12. Great pictures and information. I didn’t know that the Lee A. Tregurtha was named for Paul R. Tregurtha’s wife. I thought that maybe Lee and Paul were brothers or father and son. There aren’t many ships named for women. I like the style of the older vessels – I like the look of the fore and aft cabins. I hope that these older ships remain in service for many years to come.

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