Joseph L. Block

 Joseph H. Thompson

Joseph L. Block was built in 1976, is 728 feet long and flies a U.S. flag

Katmai  Bay

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The Joseph L. Block was built for Inland Steel by the Bay Shipbuilding Company of Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin and was named for a former chairman of the board of Inland Steel who was born in 1902. He was chairman from 1959 to 1967.
2008Jul20_6138Mittal Steel, an international company home based in India, bought Inland Steel in 1998 and had to immediately divest itself of the three boats working the Great Lakes for Inland because of US restrictions in the foreign ownership of US vessels (the Jones Act). So the Joseph L. Block and her two sister ships, the Edward L. Ryerson and the Wilfred Sykes, are now owned by Central Marine Logistics in Griffith, Indiana.
The Joseph L. Block has a 250-foot self-unloading boom on her deck with both bow and stern thrusters that allow her to maneuver in tight situations such as those found in river channels and close to berths. She has 24 hatches that open into 7 cargo holds below deck. And, most important, she has through all the changes over the years kept her original name.
She made 14 trips to the Twin Ports in 2010, usually bringing limestone in to discharge before loading iron ore pellets, a pattern she has followed for many years. During the 2012-2013 shipping season, she came to Duluth-Superior 13 times.
Picture above taken Sunday, July 20, 2008: Discharging limestone at the CN (formerly DM&IR) Dock in West Duluth
Above, the Block has just come under the Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge (June 27, 2013) and is making her way up the Duluth harbor. Below, on August 4, 2009, she is in about the same place except she is departing Duluth.
Above, just before the picture above it was taken, the Block was moving by the H. Lee White, docked at the Port Terminal. And just before that, the Canadian Navigator went by the Block  on her way out.
Above, that’s the Federal Agno approaching the Duluth Ship Canal as the Block is moving out into Lake Superior on November, 2006.
Picture above taken Thursday, December 6, 2007
Picture above taken Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Picture above taken Saturday, August 25, 2007
Picture above taken Thursday, November 23, 2006
Picture above taken Wednesday, November 22, 2006: Discharging limestone at the Hallett #8 Dock in Superior
Picture above taken Wednesday, November 22, 2006: Looking at the self unloader from the deck of the boat
Picture above taken Wednesday, November 22, 2000: Steward Tom Anderson of Escanaba, Michigan prepares for Thanksgiving, the day after my badly timed visit. The menu also included crab legs, prime rib and Cornish game hens with shrimp cocktail and all the usual trimmings
Picture above taken Wednesday, November 22, 2006 Looking at the Block discharge limestone at Hallett 8 in Superior.
Picture above taken Tuesday, September 7, 2004
Picture above taken Thursday, August 8, 2002: entering the Duluth harbor
Picture above taken Thursday, June 20, 2002: entering the Duluth harbor
Picture above taken Tuesday, August 28, 2001: in the Duluth harbor
Picture above taken Tuesday, August 28, 2001
Picture above taken Tuesday, August 28, 2001: just entering the Duluth harbor


  1. I see it saying loading BFT. What is BFT? Have not been able to find reference to it online.

  2. I can see the J L Block heading southbound on Lake Michigan right now, 17 degrees outside. Heading from Sturgeon Bay WI. Seen lots of ships during this icy winter.

  3. Beverly L. Gallagher says:

    I work at Arcelor-Mittal and am right on the lake. I saw this ship 9-11-13. I’ve also seen the Manitowoc, Wilfred Sykes, Mesabi Miner, Endeavor and American Spirit. Cool!

  4. Tristin (loves ships) says:

    Love the paint scheme

  5. saw the block yesterrday afternoon cruise through the west neebish channel

  6. We saw her in Two Harbors October 31, 2011 coming in between two loading docks. It was amazing to see such a large ship maneuver between, what looked like, such a narrow space. Thanks for your information about her. We wondered about her length.

  7. Great pictures of the Block. I especially liked the ones taken on deck and in the galley.

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