Defiance (tug) with barge Ashtabula


D. L. Billmaier

Tug Defiance is 48 feet long and flies the US flag

Donald C. Hannah
Previous names: Tug
April T. Beker: 1982-1987
Beverly Anderson: 1987-2012
Defiance: 2012-
Previous names: Barge
Erol Y. Beker: 1982-1987
Mary Turner: 1987-2012
Ashtabula: 2012-

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The tug Defiance and barge Ashtabula departed Duluth on June 13, 2014, with a cargo of iron nuggets loaded at the Hallett #5 dock in West Duluth. Both were built in 1982 although they have had other names during that time. They are both owned by a Canadian Company, Lower Lakes Towing, and operated by the US company Lower Lakes Transportation. The vessel therefore sails under a US flag.  

Nick Stenstrup took this picture of the the tug Defiance and the barge Ashtabula when she was here on December 22, 2012 loading iron ore pellets at the BN Dock in Superior.

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

patrick Swartz July 18, 2014 at 10:43 pm

Is the tug guided from the closed in crows nest area up high on the tugs tower?


Nelson flackus June 13, 2014 at 5:01 am

Why is it a tug?
Is it really only 48 feet long?


Nick June 13, 2014 at 10:12 am

It is a tug because the tug/barge combo is the cheapest way to ship cargo. You don’t need that large of a crew, it’s more energy efficient, and the number one to the company: it doesn’t cost much to build (still a hefty amount, but not as much as re-powering an older vessel or building a new one in general).
And yes, it really only is 48 feet long.


Tristin (loves ships) July 18, 2014 at 8:25 am

only the tug is 48 feet long. with the combination of the tug and barge, it is much longer that 48 feet.


john erickson June 12, 2014 at 3:48 pm

When reading the shipping reports,they report some boats loading iron ore pellets or taconite pellets and sometimes just plain nuggets, could you tell me what the difference is?


Nick June 13, 2014 at 10:14 am

Taconite is a finer version of iron ore. Simply that’s all there is. They both still come in pellet form. Not sure about the nuggets, though, that would be closer in relation to stone.


Kenneth Newhams June 13, 2014 at 12:37 pm

I think that taconite refers to the ore, usually less than 30% iron content, dug up from the ground. I list here info from Wikipedia. I usually refer to the stuff loaded into boats in Duluth as iron ore pellets, which contain taconite –
Taconite is a variety of iron formation, an iron-bearing (> 15% iron) sedimentary rock, in which the iron minerals are interlayered with quartz, chert, or carbonate. Newton Horace Winchell, the Minnesota State Geologist, coined the term during his pioneering investigations of the Precambrian Biwabik Iron Formation of northeastern Minnesota. He noted the rock had a superficial resemblance to iron-bearing rocks from the Taconic Mountains of New York.

The iron content of taconite, commonly present as finely dispersed magnetite, is generally 25 to 30%.

To process taconite, the ore is ground into a fine powder, the magnetite is separated from the gangue by strong magnets, and the powdered iron concentrate is combined with a binder such as bentonite clay and limestone as a flux. As a last step, it is rolled into pellets about one centimeter in diameter that contain approximately 65% iron. The pellets are fired at a very high temperatures to harden them and make them durable. This is to ensure that the blast furnace charge remains porous enough to allow heated gas to pass through and react with the pelletized ore. Firing the pellet oxidizes the magnetite (Fe3O4) to hematite (Fe2O3), an exothermic reaction that reduces the cost of pelletizing the concentrate. E. W. Davis of the University of Minnesota Mines Experiment Station is credited with developing the pelletizing process. Since the commercial development of this process in the Lake Superior region in the 1950s, the term taconite has been used globally to refer to iron ores amenable to upgrading by similar processes.


john erickson September 24, 2014 at 10:49 am

Thanks—now I’m over-educated.


Denny Dushane October 16, 2013 at 3:46 pm

I have never yet seen this tug/barge combo on the St. Clair River and anxiously awaiting to see them in order to add them to my large photo collection sometime.


Tristin (loves ships) April 21, 2013 at 8:16 am

It’s too bad that this boat doesn’t go to Duluth.


Nick April 21, 2013 at 8:52 am

She will most likely make 1-3 trips a season for ore. LLT mainly has the Michipicoten get ore from Duluth.


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