Alder in and out

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2017-0126-1076I took the picture above and to the right this morning, January 26, 2017. I was curious why the Alder was going out since the season was over since the Lee A. Tregurtha came under the Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge on January 16. I do not remember the Alder ever moving after the end of the season, much less 10 days after. Shortly after I took the picture, she turned around and returned to her dock at Coast Guard Station Duluth. We are having a very mild winter. That is open water on the bottom of the picture, even if it looks gray. I think she made that short trip to reposition herself at the dock for her first trip out in the ice in early March. She will break up the ice in preparation for the new season. By then, it might be a very cold winter. Since she breaks ice, she is the first ship to move in the new season, often around March 8. That means she needs to break her own ice that has formed since January around the vessel before she can help other vessels.
2008Jan21_4130PRODJanuary, 2008 was a very cold winter. I took the picture of the Mesabi Miner (right) arriving Duluth on January 21, 2008. She was the last traffic for that season. I went back to the South Pier Inn to warm up when the night nurse there told me there was a ship outside the window that was not moving. I politely suggested that he was wrong since I  just took a picture of her going under the Lift Bridge. I looked anyway. Sure enough, she was sitting in the ice, not moving (below). This was big news; Duluth was about to wake up and see a 1,000 footer stopped in the ice just behind the DECC.
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The Alder was planning to leave her dock about this time so she would be out to open up the channel for the Miner and wait to make sure she had no problems. This was a problem! I had been invited to go out with the Alder but had decided to stay warm in my office. I immediately drove down to Coast Guard Duluth and boarded the Alder just as they were ready to leave the dock. They were monitoring the Miner’s problem. Captain Marty Lightner was ready to get his tug Kentucky away from her dock to help the Miner get to her winter layup dock at Midwest Energy. He reported trouble getting away because of ice. The Alder fired up her engines and found she could not break out of the ice that had formed around her hull. Three boats were stuck in the ice. Two of them were ice breakers that were supposed to help the other boats. After a few minutes trying to get away, the Alder decided to fire up her buoy crane so she could move it back and forth from one side of the boat to the other.
2008Jan21_4145In the top right portion of the picture below, you can see the crane was moved over the ice on one side of the ship. It was then moved to the other side as they tried to rock the boat out of the ice. It worked. As we moved out, Lightner reported he was also under way and was close by the Miner, helping her to break away. That worked too. Three vessels got stuck and unstuck before they created a scene to show the populace of Duluth as they were getting up for work.
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We have it pretty good this year (so far).

Barker last thousand footer to leave

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The James R. Barker departed Duluth late this afternoon (January 12, 2017) with a cargo of iron ore pellets she loaded at the CN dock in West Duluth. That is the Great Lakes Towing tug Kentucky assisting her through the Duluth harbor. She is the last 1,000 footer to depart the Twin Ports this season. Four other 1,000-footers are already in port for winter layup: the Paul R. Tregurtha, American Spirit, Burns Harbor and the American Century
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Tug Missouri leaves town with 2 tugs in tow

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The Great Lakes Towing tug Missouri brought the tugs Indiana and Arkansas into port yesterday to replace the tugs North Dakota and Kentucky. Today (October 18, 2014), she departed with the Kentucky and the North Dakota, two tugs that take with them a lot of harbor history guiding salt water ships as well as thousand footers around the port and  breaking ice in the harbor for all who needed a clear path.
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New tugs for old tugs

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We started the day (Friday, October 17, 2014) with 4 Great Lakes Towing tugs, the Minnesota, Kentucky, North Carolina and North Dakota tied up at  their dock in Duluth. By noon, the tugs Indiana and Arkansas  had joined the lineup replacing the Kentucky and North Dakota. Above, the Indiana (2nd from left) and Arkansas (third from left) had joined the lineup.
That’s the Kentucky still tied up on the left; she will be leaving and the North Carolina is at the head of the line here. She will be staying along with the Minnesota. Below, the tug Missouri pulled the Arkansas and Indiana under the Lift Bridge this morning.
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Above, the Missouri (left) is still pulling the Arkansas and the Indiana while the North Dakota and Minnesota are behind them.
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Below, they break up while they get the new tugs tied up at the dock, one at a time. The Minnesota is bringing the Indiana in first.
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American Century gets help from Kentucky

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She is about to make the turn toward the Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge on her way out to Lake Superior with a cargo of iron ore pellets loaded at the CN in West Duluth. More on the American Century.
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Miner here (with help) for winter layup

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The Mesabi Miner came under the Lift Bridge on Monday morning at 6:15. Just after clearing the Bridge, the 1,000-footer ground to a halt in the ice behind the DECC. The tug Kentucky had trouble breaking away from the ice at the tug berth but was soon on the scene opening a crack in the ice in front of the Mesabi Miner. After a half hour in the ice, the Miner broke free, and with the Kentucky leading the way, moved over to the Murphy Fuel Dock. Meanwhile, the Alder also had trouble getting away from its dock, but after a half hour, it was away in time to clear a track for the Mesabi Miner to move from the Fuel Dock to its winter berth at Midwest Energy Resources in Superior. The Kentucky stayed close by the Miner (above) until it was safely and securely tied up at the dock, thus ending the 2007-08 shipping season in the Twin Ports. The three boats will likely meet again in 2 months when the new season will open and the ice will likely be a lot thicker. Hopefully, the temperature will be a bit higher. Photo taken on January 21, 2008
*submitted to the Duluth News Tribune for publication on 01-22-2008

Kentucky provides tug assist

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In the summer, the Great Lakes tugs can often be seen helping vessels make their way around the harbor and up to a berth. Above, the tug Kentucky is pulling the Canadian flagged Algoisle from a berth at CHS in Superior in November, 2004 so it can move down the Duluth harbor and out the Duluth entry to Lake Superior. In the winter, the same tugs can be found backing and ramming ice in the harbor to break open or clear a track for a US or Canadian laker trying to move through the ice. Today, or last night, the Kentucky will break, or broke, ice in front of the Mesabi Miner as it returned from Marquette after the last delivery of cargo from or to the port. The state of the ice is an unknown since there has been no traffic within the port since the Mesabi Miner left on Friday and more important, the temperatures have plummeted. Almost for sure, the Mesabi Miner will come in, or has come in, the Duluth entry and will or has made it to its winter berth at Midwest Energy Resources in Superior. It was due here around 2 am this morning, but could easily have been delayed by weather. It may try to make it as far as it can in the ice and then wait there for morning, when additional tugs and or the Alder can provide more assistance. The Miner will not have to drop an anchor while it waits since being surrounded by ice performs the same service of keeping the vessel from moving. Photo taken on November 09, 2004
*submitted to the Duluth News Tribune for publication on 01-21-2008