Hon. James L. Oberstar


Hon. James L. Oberstar was built in 1959, is 806 feet long and flies a U.S. flag

Indiana Harbor
Previous names:
Shenango II: 1959-1967
Charles M. Beeghly: 1967-2011
Hon. James L. Oberstar: 2011-

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The M/V Hon. James L. Oberstar (formerly the M/V Charles M. Beeghly) is 806 feet long with a beam of 75 feet. She has a carrying capacity of 27,500 net tons in her 5 cargo holds. The Vessel was built in 1958 at the American Shipbuilding Company in Toledo, Ohio, and christened the Str. Shenango II in 1959.
2008Jun08_2494In 1967, she joined the Interlake Steamship Company and was renamed Charles M. Beeghly (at right arriving Duluth on June 8, 2008) after Charles Milton Beeghly, then-president and chairman of the board of the Jones & Laughlin Steel Corporation.The vessel has undergone numerous efficiency improvements, including a mid-body insert that increased her length by 96 feet in 1972 and a conversion to a self-unloader in 1981.The Beeghly went to Bay Shipbuilding in Sturgeon Bay in November, 2008 to have her 8500 hp steam engine replaced by 2 Bergen 6-cylinder diesel engines which will extend the life and increase the efficiency of the Beeghly.  In addition, the new diesels meet the latest EPA marine diesel engine standards.

This boat is the sister ship to the John Sherwin, a boat that sat in the water here for many years, providing spare parts occasionally for other Interlake boats. The addition of a self-unloader undoubtedly spared the Beeghly of the same fate

And in the spring of 2011: (From the Interlake Steamship Company) The Interlake Steamship Company is pleased to announce the renaming of the M/V Charles M. Beeghly in recognition of the Honorable James L. Oberstar, retired United States Congressman from the State of Minnesota. The Vessel will sail from layup this March as the M/V Hon. James L. Oberstar, and will be rechristened in Duluth on May 24th, 2011. (see more below)
These 3 pictures were taken on August 5, 2015 after she loaded iron ore pellets at the CN in Duluth and was departing
Arriving Duluth on May 8, 2014. She gave a special whistle salute to honor her name sake Rep. James L. Oberstar, who died 5 days earlier on May 3, 2014. She then went to the BN dock to load iron ore pellets.
Above, she arrived Duluth on May 11, 2013 with coal she discharged at the C. Reiss Terminal in Duluth. She then went to Two Harbors to load iron ore pellets. Below, she departs Duluth on May 27, 2013 after loading iron ore pellets at the CN dock in West Duluth.
Above, she arrived Duluth on April 22, 2013 with coal she discharged at the C. Reiss Terminal in Duluth. She then went to the BN in Superior to load iron ore pellets.

The Beeghly was rechristened the Hon. James L. Oberstar, the former long term Congressman from the Duluth area, on May 24th, 2011. Interlake Steamship Company in Cleveland chartered 3 planes to bring almost their entire home office staff up here for the ceremony. It was an honor for Congressman Oberstar and many of us felt the company was also honoring Duluth.
Above, boat is ready for the ceremonies; below, I had a chance to visit the boat before the ceremonies.
Congressman Oberstar is a distinguished Minnesota legislator and legislative leader who dedicated nearly half a century to service in the U.S. House of Representatives. Congressman Oberstar’s tenure on Capitol Hill stretched over 36 years as a Member of Congress and 11 years as a senior Congressional aide. Most recently, he served as Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, where he earned a reputation as Congress’ primary expert on transportation issues. Congressman Oberstar was a featured speaker at the christening of Interlake’s M/V Mesabi Miner in Duluth in 1977.
Congressman Oberstar’s exposure to the iron ore industry and Great Lakes shipping started at an early age, as his father was an ore miner. As a legislator, Congressman Oberstar was well known as a tireless champion of maritime issues, particular those on the Great Lakes. He represented Minnesota’s Mesabi Iron Range, a region that depends upon Great Lakes shipping to move iron ore pellets to market, often through the westernmost Great Lakes port of Duluth, Minnesota. Congressman Oberstar fought for adequate Great Lakes’ icebreaking resources to keep iron ore moving to the nation’s steel mills during the winter months, an effort that culminated in the 2006 launching of the new U.S. Coast Guard cutter Mackinaw. He also worked to legislate funding for a critically needed second lock capable of handling the Great Lake’s largest 1,000’ long vessels at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, the construction of which is now underway. Among his many other accomplishments, Congressman Oberstar was a vocal advocate for adequate and fair funding for dredging across the Great Lakes basin, a critical component to the efficient movement of maritime commerce across the Great Lakes.
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Above, James R. Barker, Chairman of the Board of the Interlake Steamship Company was here along with his wife, Kaye E. Barker. Of course, both provided their names to two boats in the Interlake fleet, the James R. Barker and the Kaye E. Barker.

“Interlake is honored to be able to recognize Congressman Oberstar’s service and dedication to our Country by naming a vessel after him,” stated Mark Barker, Interlake’s President. “Few legislators have made more contributions to Great Lakes shipping and the United States maritime industry.”
The Interlake Steamship Company, headquartered in Richfield, Ohio, operates a fleet of nine self-unloading bulk carriers on the Great Lakes. Interlake, a family owned business, is one of the largest U.S-flag fleets operating on the Great Lakes, and carries approximately 20 million tons of bulk cargo throughout the Great Lakes annually. Those cargoes include iron ore, low-sulfur coal, grain and limestone. Interlake was founded in 1913, with roots that can be traced back to 1883.
Above, Jean Oberstar christens the M/V HON. JAMES L. OBERSTAR while James R. Barker and Congressman Oberstar look on.
Above and below, Interlake hosted a luncheon at the DECC, in a room with ceiling high windows that looked right out on the newly Christened Oberstar.
Below, she is departing Duluth a month later, on June 4, after loading iron ore pellets at the CN in Duluth.
On August 21, 2009, the Beeghly departed Duluth
Above, she arrived Duluth August 30, 2008 to load iron ore pellets at the CN dock in West Duluth.
She arrived on January 8, 2007 to load coal at Midwest Energy Resources.
Above, she is on winter layup at Fraser Shipyard in Superior. She arrived for layup on January 15, 2006 and left for the new season on March 24, 2006. I took the picture on February 27, 2006.
On June 12, 2003, she arrived Duluth with limestone. After stopping at the fuel dock, she went to the Cutler stone dock to discharge the cargo before departing for Silver Bay on the 13th.
Above, she arrived Duluth on October 12, 2001.
Above, at the DM&IR (now CN) Dock in West Duluth
Above, the Beeghly departs Duluth; below; she is at the DM&IR (now CN) Dock in West Duluth in a picture I took from the Coast Guard cutter Sundew in November, 1996.


  1. David E Dunn says:

    I was wondering why the James L Oberstar always emits so much smoke from it stacks. White smoke, not diesel smoke.

  2. Why did the bridge tender not salute the Oberstar when it arrived at 20:20 this evening. The Oberstar blew but no response from the Aerial Bridge. Strange????

  3. To answer the above on the fate of the John Sherwin, the vessel was towed to Sturgeon Bay in 2008 for a refit, but the economy collapsed and Interlake put a hold on the refit. This refit will take place when the demand returns.

  4. May I have permission to use the photo of the “Honorable James L. Oberstar” ship for a story we are writing in our e-zine about the late James L. Oberstar.

    We are an all volunteer magazine, published once a month. We do not accept advertising (so no pay cheque), but we have over 5,000 subscribers.

    My problem is the author only sent the story to me today and the magazine will go live on the evening of the 14th, two days from now.

    I will credit the deluthshippingnews.com and any other credit you wish.

    Susan W. Smith, Editor, http://www.thousandislandslife.com

  5. I was sorry to here of Mr. Oberstar’s passing this past weekend. Northern Minnesota and the Great Lakes have lost a great champion and he shall be missed.

  6. I’m watching her come in from my hotel window this morning. Very interesting write-up you have done on her. Your website brings Duluth to life for visitors like me!

  7. Who doesn’t like ships?

  8. Watching the Oberstar coming under the Lift Bridge just after 2 p.m. CDT Sunday April 22. Anyone know what has become of her sister ship, the John Sherwin? Last I heard, it was tugged to Chicago and appeared briefly in one scene of the “Dark Knight” Batman movie.

    • Tristin (loves ships) says:

      Rob, the John Sherwin was towed to Chicago and is permanently docked and was turned into a storage barge.

      • I wonder/hope that someone will have the money to renovate the M/V John Sherwin and get her put back into service and hope she runs someday. It would be a site if she was back up and running again.?

  9. Watched this ship steam under the Duluth bridge about midnight, Dec 25, with my dogs! Pretty interesting…

  10. she is a beauty, suzanne, and bearing the name of such an “honorable” man!

  11. I love the lines of older ships such as this one. May she sail the waters of the Great Lakes safely for many years to come.

  12. Donnie Ray says:

    Just returned from Duluth tonight. Saw this beautiful ship but did not witness christening. My wife is from that area and we will be returning in July. Looking forward to seeing as many ships as possible. Congratulations to the congressman.

  13. Dorothy says:

    Thank you for the info-

    I now live in AZ but I was born and lived most of my life in Duluth. What a wonderful article; I can not think of a more deserving man then Rep. Oberstar for this honor. Just wish I was there to see it happen.

    Well Done,

    Dorothy Turnbloom

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