4 boats for the Fourth of July

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In the afternoon on July 4th, 2016,the tug Ken Boothe, Sr. pushed the barge Lakes Contender through the Duluth harbor, on her way to discharge a cargo of limestone at the Graymont dock in Superior. They loaded their cargo in Calcite, Michigan. The tug barge is owned by the American Steamship Company in Buffalo, New York. They also operate the American Mariner; after loading coal at Midwest Energy, she departed at 5:25 this afternoon.
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The US Coast Guard ice breaker Mackinaw arrived in port Sunday morning, hoping to get (I assume) a good spot to watch the fireworks tonight. Notice the sleeping bags and blankets on the ground, left by folks hoping to save their spots for the fireworks 4 hours later. There were also two ladies with blankets and a basket of food sitting on the grass with the Mackinaw directly in front of them. Perhaps they were hoping a crew member would take pity on them and bring them aboard for a better seat.  (click the link just above, to the Mackinaw page and watch her launch on April 2, 2005. And yes, I managed to stay on my feet and to hold my camera, proof of which is the video you see.
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The Sjard arrived  just before 6 pm and with an assist from the tug Kentucky, made her way over to the CHS dock in Superior where she will begin to load grain on Tuesday morning. Earlier in June, she brought a cargo of wind turbine parts that she discharged at the Port Terminal.

Mackinaw leaves her mark in Duluth

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After a couple days relaxing in the warm Duluth weather, Saturday  morning, January 9, 2016, woke up cold and getting colder so the Mackinaw went back to work, moving slowly down the Duluth harbor, past the ice fishing shacks and then turning up the Superior channel.
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Mackinaw joins our Arctic gull to celebrate winter

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The very rare-to-see in Duluth ivory gull has been here awhile instead of at her usual home on the ice in the Arctic Ocean. It is snowing and the temperature is about to take a nose dive. All that is left would be for the US Coast Guard cutter Mackinaw to make her arrival and that she did, this morning (Thursday, January 7, 2016) at 8:30. She is now docked behind the DECC.
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Shortly after arriving in Duluth, Commander Vasilios Tasikas gathered his crew to make sure they all knew what a nice place Duluth is. The ship and crew are here, in part, to familiarize new crew members with ports on Lake Superior. They will be here until Saturday morning, with at least one ski trip to Spirit Mountain planned. Note that Commander Tasikas is using a Duluth Shipping News calendar to make a point.
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3 again and still 1 more and then the Mac

The Mackinaw led a convoy of boats that arrived off the Duluth piers this morning (April 30, 2014).  Before they came in, the CSL Assiniboine departed around 8:25 morning and ran into some ice problems. The bad news; there were 7 boats in front of her waiting to come in. The good news: the Mackinaw was right there and after a couple hours of working the ice, the Assiniboine was on her way. The first three were the CSL Assiniboine, Cason J. Callaway and the Thunder Bay.
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Half an hour later, the Whitefish Bay came in, followed by the Baie Comeau and then the CSL Tadoussac.
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After the Bridge went down to clear some traffic, the Baie St. Paul came in alone. A little later, the Mackinaw, having watched her charges safely make it into the Duluth harbor, came in herself.
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Convoy Departs!

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The St Clair departed Duluth around noon on April 15, 2014 (above) to join the convoy forming off the Duluth piers to cross Lake Superior. She arrived in Duluth for winter layup on January 2, 2014. She left port yesterday at 6:15 am and I think went to anchor. She came back in at 5pm.
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The American Spirit also arrived for winter layup on January 2, 2014. When the Presque Isle returned to port with hull damage due to ice on April 3rd, at least some of her cargo of iron ore pellets was offloaded into the American Spirit. She left here on May 9th to load iron ore pellets in Two Harbors and then returned here later that day. Above, she is leaving Duluth early afternoon today to join the convoy.
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Convoy arrived!

20140414-102The convoy of boats led by US and Canadian ice breakers arrived in Duluth early Monday morning, April 14th, 2014. The Stewart J. Cort came under the Lift Bridge at 4:54 and went over to the BN to begin loading iron ore pellets. The St. Clair left port, under the Lift Bridge at 6:15 am, going to the anchorage to wait for the eastbound convoy. At 6:47, the CSL Tadoussac arrived followed by the Mackinaw an hour later. The Sam Laud, here to load iron ore pellets at the CN in Duluth, came under the bridge at 7:54.
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At noon on Monday, the St. Clair (above left) was at anchor and next to her, the Algoma Discovery (formerly the Daviken), waited to load iron ore pellets at the BN. And, the Mackinaw, having done her job, was at the DECC, perhaps relaxing for a couple moments.
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A season like no other

Click on any picture to see a larger version

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katmaibay20140409-080This is what I think, but don’t bet on it. The Presque Isle left here on March 22th with a partial load of pellets and I think loaded pellets at Two Harbors and then tried to get to the other end of Lake Superior but had ice trouble and came back here for repairs, arriving on March 29th still with her pellets. Some of those pellets were off loaded into the American Spirit, which had not yet left Duluth. She offloaded pellets to make repairs easier. The American Spirit left here on April 7th with pellets loaded from the Presque Isle. She went to Two Harbors to load pellets and then came back this morning (above) with both loads of pellets. To wait, I presume.
Back on March 24th the Mackinaw, Katmai Bay and Morro Bay arrived Duluth and left here on March 26th. Two days later, on March 28th, the Alder arrived Duluth with an ice-wounded Morro Bay lashed to her side with the Katmai Bay leading them under the Lift Bridge.
convoy Several days later, the Katmai Bay departed to return to ice breaking duties while the Morro Bay stayed here for repairs to her rudder. That happened early this week and she left but did not go very far away. The Katmai Bay returned to Duluth this morning, April 9th  (above), and the Morro Bay was back at the DECC with the Katmai Bay by late this afternoon.
Meanwhile at the other end of the Lake, late this afternoon, the Canadian ice breaker Pierre Radisson left the Soo leading a convoy of boats trying to get to Duluth (Click on the the map above). The Mackinaw was going to be with the convoy but as I write this, she was still at the Soo.
t1140981646LakeSuperior143250m-ps So here is my guess. When the convoy arrives here, perhaps on Thursday or Friday, we will have 5 ice breakers here, counting the Alder. All of a sudden, we will/may have a bunch of boats here to load cargo and then go back out to the lake, I would guess with the help of some of our flotilla of ice breakers. And presumably the American Spirit came back and is waiting to be a part of that convey. Or Not!
You can find the satellite images here: http://coastwatch.glerl.noaa.gov/index.html Just click on MODIS Imagery; Great Lakes MODIS True Color; and then select the lake you want, such as Superior

Mackinaw and 2 friends

Three Coast Guard cutters arrive Duluth on March 25, 2014 (from my window)

Coast Guard cutters coming to Duluth

We are expecting 3 Coast Guard cutters to arrive here late this afternoon or early evening. The Mackinaw, the Katmai Bay and the Morro Bay will be here to get fuel and provisions before leading a convoy of 3 boats from Two Harbors  to the Soo Locks. (Unless plans change which is always possible when dealing with wind, ice and Lake Superior. (Click to see larger version of AIS taken at 4:40 pm, Monday, March 24, 2014)
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Watch the Mackinaw azipods in action

The Mackinaw has a unique method to break open large ice fields

Mackinaw breaks ice in Duluth

The US Coast Guard cutter Mackinaw left her moorings at the DECC at 9 am this morning (March 17, 2013) to break ice in the Duluth Superior harbor. She returned to the DECC around 11:30, dropped some folks off, and then went under the Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge on her way to Whitefish Point at the other end of Lake Superior.
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Mackinaw arrives Duluth

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Above, the Coast Guard cutter Mackinaw arrived Duluth on Saturday afternoon, March 16, 2013.

Watch my wet video of the launch of the Mackinaw in April, 2005

The Duluth Shipping News has 18 pages about the Mackinaw here

Mackinaw here; maybe Thunder Bay later

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The Coast Guard cutter Mackinaw has been in the Twin Ports for a couple weeks for bow thruster repairs at the Fraser Shipyards. She is currently (Friday, December 16, 2011) moored at the DECC (above) but is expected to depart in the next couple days to begin another season of ice breaking on the Great Lakes.
111212-G-JL323-050 CGC Thunder Bay arrives in Cleveland

The US Coast Guard cutter Thunder Bay departed their home port in Rockland, Maine to come to the Great Lakes to assist in any ice breaking operations that may be needed. Bringing an east coast ship into the Great Lakes has been a Coast Guard tradition for some years, and provides them with an additional opportunity to cross train the crews and put the ship into a different environment, although the Thunder Bay is an ice breaking tug and is very good at that job. The 140-foot icebreaking tug was built to break ice; they use a low-pressure-air hull lubrication or bubbler system that forces air and water between the hull and ice. This system improves icebreaking capabilities by reducing resistance against the hull.

They arrived in Cleveland on December 12, 2011. Although currently based in Maine, she is named for the town of Thunder Bay, Michigan, on Lake Huron near Alpena.

Mackinaw gone for the summer

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The US Coast Guard ice breaker Mackinaw came under the Lift Bridge on June 9th to get repairs made at Fraser Shipyards to its unique Azipod propulsion units. It left there yesterday (above) and went under the Lift Bridge. They circled around beyond the piers for a while and then headed out into the Lake. I received a greeting of, “Have a nice summer.” I take that to mean they were satisfied that the repairs worked. The Alder is expected to go to Fraser on Thursday and will probably go into the dry dock in Saturday. Actually, they will probably go into the dock on Thursday. On Saturday, they will drain the dock, and it will then become a dry dock. Photo taken on June 16, 2009
*submitted to the Duluth News Tribune for publication on 06-17-2009

Mackinaw comes out of dry dock, departs under the Lift Bridge

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The Coast Guard cutter Mackinaw left Fraser Shipyards today (June 16, 2009), seen above going by the H. Lee White on her way to the Lift Bridge. This at 11:30 this morning. She is still in the area off the piers, checking out the repaired Azipods; not sure they will leave if everything is ok, or whether they will come back in. (Note at 4:00; after moving around just outside the Duluth piers, she has gone out into the lake, on her way, I presume, to her next job.

Mackinaw about to get out of dry dock

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The US Coast Guard cutter Mackinaw arrived here on June 9th to get repair work done on their  2 Azipod thruster engines mounted on pods at the stern of the ship. The propulsion units are below water, so the Mackinaw went into the dry dock at Fraser Shipyards in Superior. They expect to come out on Friday June 12, 2009) and may move to a dock at the Port Terminal on Saturday for further inspection before heading back to work, possibly early next week. In the photos here, taken on Wednesday, workers, many here from Finland where the Azipods were developed, are completing their work. Both Azipods can be rotated 360 degrees, providing great maneuverability. She goes backward as easily as it goes forward.

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Mackinaw in dry dock

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The US Coast Guard cutter Mackinaw came under the Lift Bridge on June 9th to get repair work done on their 2 Azipod thruster engines mounted on pods at the stern of the ship (above). The propulsion units are below water, so the Mackinaw went into the dry dock at Fraser Shipyards in Superior. They expect to come out on Friday and may move to a dock at the Port Terminal on Saturday for further inspection before heading back to work, possibly early next week. In the photo above taken on Wednesday, workers, many here from Finland where the Azipods were developed, are completing their work. Both Azipods can be rotated 360 degrees, providing great maneuverability. She goes backward as easily as forward. Photo taken on June 10, 2009
*submitted to the Duluth News Tribune for publication on 06-11-2009

Mackinaw enters Duluth with big waves

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The US Coast Guard cutter Mackinaw arrived in Duluth just after 6 pm last night. It is here for some repairs in the dry dock at Fraser Shipyard and is expected to move over there today. Kevin Wirth (left foreground), commanding officer on the Alder, was out to greet the Mackinaw when it arrived. Wind gusts up to 36 mph made the trip through the Duluth ship canal a little more interesting than usual. Mackinaw Commander Scott Smith had originally planned to dock behind the DECC but after approaching the DECC, he decided to go to the Port Terminal instead. Smith and Wirth planned to have dinner together last night. There will be much to talk about. Smith served in Duluth on the Sundew as executive officer from 1995 to 1997. The Alder has its own problems and will shortly go into dry dock for some repairs. We have high winds but no ice so the two ships have some time to recover from their wounds. Photo taken on May 19, 2009
*submitted to the Duluth News Tribune for publication on 05-20-2009

Mackinaw returns to Duluth for repairs

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The US Coast Guard cutter Mackinaw arrived in Duluth on Tuesday evening, May 19th, 2009. Wind gusts up to 39 mph added to the fun. The Mac is here to go into dry dock at Fraser Shipyards for some repairs to their Azipod propulsion units.
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The twin, fixed pitch Azipods can be seen facing each other just as the ship was sliding down the rails and into the Menominee River when she was launched on April 2nd, 2005. The Azipods can be rotated 360 degrees and are used to steer the ship. They eliminate the need of a rudder.
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Duluth Fire Department visits Mackinaw


The Coast Guard cutter Mackinaw arrived in Duluth on Friday morning, coming in the Superior entry and moving down to moorings at the DECC. On Friday afternoon, members of the Duluth Fire Department visited the ship. The two groups share many duties. Like all ships, the Mackinaw is its own fire department when under way. Both groups are trained to handle a variety of emergencies. And, when they are in Duluth, the Duluth fire department is the ship’s fire department. The fire fighters were down to check on the ship and its fire fighting capability in case of an incident. Another thing they have in common; the fire fighters would love to take a ride on the Mackinaw and the crew on the Mac would love to get a trip on a fire truck. Crew members of the ship were offered a tour of the fire house. In the picture above, Electricians Mate First Class Robert Bytlewood, back to the camera, is talking to fire department members, Capt. Perry Ludwig, Lisa Consie and Ed Schumacher. Bytlewood was explaining his duties in the ECC, Engineering Control Center.

Mackinaw Commander Scott Smith

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Mackinaw Commander Scott Smith (above, left) hosted a well attended community visit on Saturday afternoon. It was a homecoming of sorts for Smith. From 1995 to 1997, he served as executive officer on the Sundew, then our ice breaker and now a museum easily seen from the pilot house of the Mac. Above, he is on the bridge explaining how the Mackinaw breaks up ice to Jim and Tina Rogers of Duluth. Since leaving the Sundew in 1997, he served aboard the Bramble in Port Huron, and has commanded the cutter Anacapa in Alaska and the cutter Bristol Bay in Detroit. He took command of the Mackinaw last May.
*submitted to the Duluth News Tribune for publication on 04-05-2009

Fire Department visits the Mackinaw

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The Coast Guard cutter Mackinaw arrived in Duluth on Friday morning, coming in the Superior entry and moving down to moorings at the DECC. On Friday afternoon, members of the Duluth Fire Department visited the ship. The two groups share many duties. Like all ships, the Mackinaw is its own fire department when under way. Both groups are trained to handle a variety of emergencies. And, when they are in Duluth, the Duluth fire department is the ship’s fire department. The fire fighters were down to check on the ship and its fire fighting capability in case of an incident.
Another thing they have in common; the fire fighters would love to take a ride on the Mackinaw and the crew on the Mac would love to get a trip on a fire truck. Crew members of the ship were offered a tour of the fire house. In the picture above, Electricians Mate First Class Robert Bytlewood, back to the camera, is talking to fire department members, Capt. Perry Ludwig, Lisa Consie and Ed Schumacher. Bytlewood was explaining his duties in the ECC, Engineering Control Center.
*submitted to the Duluth News Tribune for publication on 04-04-2009

Moving the Mackinaw along

mackinawpodsbeforelaunch250401-124The Mackinaw is propelled through the water by two Finnish azipods at the stern of the ship. An azipod is a propeller mounted on a pod that can be rotated 360 degrees to control the movement and direction of the ship. I took the photo at the right just before the ship was launched. You can see the two azipods in the picture turned toward each other, something I don’ think would happen under normal circumstances. Both pods are independently controlled from the pilot house; each of the two handles with the red stripes in the picture below controls one of the pods. In normal conditions, the pods are computer controlled. Manual control is use in tighter situations perhaps near a dock, or another ship, or breaking ice in a river. These along with bow thrusters at the other end of the ship, give the ship exceptional maneuverability. The pods can be turned toward the ship allowing the ship to go in reverse as easily and as fast as going forward. That is sometimes used when breaking ice.

mackinawpodcontrols20090403_4393They can also “walk the ship sideways” using both pods and the thrusters. They have received some strange looks when seen from the shore moving sideways in a channel. This is often done to give them a wider berth when they are trying to clear out broken ice.

Mackinaw launch 2005

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On Wednesday afternoon, the Coast Guard dispatched their new ice breaker Mackinaw to Duluth to help with the ice off the Duluth piers and in the harbor. The west wind blew that away, and the Mackinaw was called back. The Coast Guard now says the Mackinaw will be arriving in Duluth around noon today. This is the new Mackinaw, launched in April, 2005 (above) at Marinette Marine Corporation, in Marinette, Wisconsin where it was built. It replaced the ‘old’ Mackinaw built in 1944 that was the biggest ice breaker the Coast Guard had on the Great Lakes. It was here many times over the years to help get our shipping season started. It is now a museum in Mackinaw City, Michigan. Like the old Mac in the later years, the new Mac is bright red. The new Mac is also our largest icebreaker on the Great Lakes.
*submitted to the Duluth News Tribune for publication on 04-03-2009

The ‘new’ Mackinaw arrives in the Twin Ports

Friday morning: The Mackinaw, seen below in the Duluth harbor just after arriving around 11 am on Friday morning,  will be hosting public tours on Saturday afternoon from 1 to 3 pm at their berth at the back of the DECC.

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