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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Above, the Oberstar departs Duluth on May 27, 2013 with a cargo of iron ore pellets.
(The image just below and above were taken by and appear here courtesy of Roger LeLievre)
(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 later this spring (In Duluth on May24th, 2011).
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.
oberstarrogerlvDSC_1521Congressman 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.
The M/V Hon. James L. Oberstar (formerly the M/V Charles M. Beeghly) is 806’ long with a beam of 75’, and has a carrying capacity of 27,500 net tons. The Vessel was built in 1958 at the American Shipbuilding Company in Toledo, Ohio, and christened the Str. Shenango II in 1959. The Vessel has undergone numerous efficiency improvements, including a mid-body insert that increased its length by 96’ in 1972, conversion to a self-unloader in 1981, and repowering from a steam powered vessel to a diesel powered vessel in 2009.
charlesmbeeghly20090821_1656“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.
The Charles M. Beeghly was built in 1959 by the American Ship Building Company in Toledo, as Shenango II (59-67) after the Shenango Furnace Company in Cleveland. She was 806 feet long with 24 hatches on deck that open into 5 cargo holds. She was lengthened by 96 feet in 1972 and a self-unloader was added to her deck in 1981. Both upgrades were performed at the Fraser Shipyard in Superior.
charlesmbeeghly20070818_1809In 1967, she joined the Interlake Steamship Company and was renamed Charles M. Beeghly after Charles Milton Beeghly, then-president and chairman of the board of the Jones & Laughlin Steel Corporation. 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.The Hon. James L. Oberstar made 13 visits to Duluth during the 2012-13 shipping season. Picture above taken Saturday, August 18, 2007
Picture above taken Monday, January 8, 2007
Above. the Charles M. Beeghly is at the DM&IR (now CN) Dock in West Duluth in a picture taken from the Coast Guard cutter Sundew in November, 1997. Below, she is at the same dock in March the next year.
Picture above taken Wednesday, June 14, 2006
Picture above taken Monday, February 27, 2006: at winter layup at Fraser Shipyard in Superior
Picture above taken Thursday, June 12, 2003
Picture above taken Thursday, September 26, 2002: departing Duluth
Picture above taken Monday, July 8, 2002: about to depart Duluth


  1. 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????

  2. 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.

  3. 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

  4. 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.

  5. 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!

  6. Who doesn’t like ships?

  7. 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.😀

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

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

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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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