|The Roger Blough opened the shipping season in Duluth this morning (March 22, 2017) at 7:30. Above, at left, she starts down the Duluth harbor on her way to the Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge. Just to the right is the American Spirit, expected to break away from her winter layup berth on Saturday (March 25, 2017) to go over to CN Duluth to load iron ore pellets. The American Century is seen at the right. She is expected to depart on Thursday (March 23, 2017) for Silver Bay to load iron ore pellets.|
|Above, the Blough goes under the Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge this morning; below, there were many folks out to get a picture of the ‘first ship.’ The only ice to be found was a couple spots on the pavement. The harbor, ship canal and the lake (at this end, at least) were ice free.|
|Below, Jason Fyten had his Boatwatcher flag out to celebrate the occasion. Duluth News Tribune Photo Editor Bob King stands next to Jason, waiting for the Blough.|
2017 Commercial Shipping Season gets underway Wednesday in Port of Duluth-Superior, from Duluth Seaway Port Authority
Duluth, Minn., USA (March 21, 2017)— The first U.S.-flag lakers are expected to depart the Port of Duluth-Superior tomorrow, Wednesday, March 22, signaling the start of the 2017 commercial shipping season at this, the farthest inland port on the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway system.
Exact times are difficult to pinpoint during start-up (i.e. ‘fit-out,’ in industry terms), but the first departure may very well take place while most folks are still asleep! The Roger Blough is expected to leave its berth at the Clure Public Marine Terminal at first light Wednesday and depart beneath Duluth’s famed Aerial Bridge en route to the CN Docks in Two Harbors to load iron ore. After fueling late afternoon/early evening, another Great Lakes Fleet vessel, the Philip R. Clarke, will also head to Two Harbors to take on its first cargo of the season. Both vessels, with deliveries to make to steel mills on the Lower Lakes, will proceed across Lake Superior toward Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., to await the opening of the Soo Locks at 12:01 a.m. on Sat., March 25. The Blough is expected to be the lead ship downbound as she was in 2016.
Interlake’s flagship, the 1013.5-ft Paul R. Tregurtha, wintered at the Superior Midwest Energy Terminal and is scheduled to load coal there Wednesday, then move to the Clure Terminal for final preparations before leaving for Silver Bay tomorrow night/early Thursday. After discharge, that vessel will return to Superior to load coal for its first inter-lake delivery to the St. Clair Power Plant in Michigan.
Two more Interlake Steamship Co. freighters that wintered in the Twin Ports – the Lee A. Tregurtha and the Herbert C. Jackson – are expected to depart late Wednesday, as well. The Lee A. is in position to leave Fraser Shipyards first, sometime midday. Both vessels will stop to fuel at the Calumet dock in Duluth before heading out to Two Harbors and Silver Bay, respectively, to load iron ore.
The Burns Harbor is due to move from its layup berth to the BNSF Railway Dock to load iron ore Wednesday before departing via the Superior Entry. American Century is set to leave Thursday to load in Silver Bay while fleet mate, the American Spirit, is expected to move to the CN Duluth Dock to load iron ore over the weekend before getting underway.
NOTE: All vessel departure/arrival times are estimates and are subject to change without notice.
With the Soo Locks opening Saturday and virtually ice-free conditions across the Lakes, Port of Duluth-Superior could see its first arrival from the Soo on Sunday, most likely the Stewart J. Cort, the James R. Barker or the Cason J. Callaway, but that’s still too close to call. For updates, www.duluthboats.com. Watch real-time transits at www.marinetraffic.com or http://ais.boatnerd.com or on mobile devices with Marine Traffic or Ship Finder apps.
|The Roger Blough ran aground Friday, May 27, 2016 in Whitefish Bay in Lake Superior. Information and pictures below, courtesy of US Coast Guard Sector Sault Ste. Marie, in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. They are ordered from first to most recent|
|May 27, 2016|
|Coast Guard crews and the Aids to Navigation Team from Sault Ste Marie, and the air crew from Air Station Traverse City, Michigan responded. Coast Guard pollution responders, vessel inspectors and marine casualty investigator arrived on board the vessel to assess vessel damage and crew safety. The Coast Guard has dispatched the cutter, Mobile Bay, a 140-foot ice breaking tug out of Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin to assist in on-going response operations. The Coast Guard is currently monitoring the situation and overseeing future salvage operations.|
|May 28, 2016|
|Throughout the night, U.S. Coast Guard boat crews conducted hourly exterior draft readings of the vessel while the crew of the Roger Blough also conducted interior soundings to the tanks each hour through the evening. Based on the stabilized draft readings and tank soundings, the flooding appears to be under control. Plans to safely remove the Roger Blough from the reef have begun. A U.S. Coast Guard Dolphin helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City, Michigan, was launched to provide aerial photos but was diverted due to dense fog.|
|May 29, 2016|
|The crew of Coast Guard Cutter Mobile Bay (below, right), enforced a 500 yard safety zone alongside the motor vessel Roger Blough to protect passing vessels from potential hazards associated with salvage operations. Sault Ste. Marie Vessel Traffic Service has also increased its measures on commercial traffic to ensure the safe passage of shipping near the safety zone.|
| The Roger Blough activated its vessel response plan, taking precautionary measures to ensure safety of the the environment. This includes coordination with their oil spill response organization to deploy oil containment equipment as well as underwater dive surveys to more effectively assess the damage and unground the vessel.
“All indications thus far seem to reveal that the damage is in the forward section of the vessel and all fuel tanks are in the rear section,” said Ken Gerasimos, a representative of Key Lakes Inc., the operating company of the Roger Blough. “No fuel tanks are connected to the outer skin of the ship.”
A Coast Guard Auxiliary aircrew conducted an overflight of the area Sunday morning and reported no signs of pollution.
The chance of a fuel spill remains minimal and flooding on the Blough remains stable. The crew remains in good condition.
The National Transportation Safety Board is scheduled to arrive on Monday, May 30, to assist the Coast Guard in the investigation into the cause of the grounding.
|May 29, 2016|
Plans continue to progress to safely free the Blough from Gros Cap Reef in conjunction with Canadian partners and company representatives.
|May 30, 2016|
|Responders placed a protective boom around the stern of the Blough strictly as a preventative measure around the location of the Blough’s fuel tanks.|
|The motor vessel Edgar B. Speer (above) safely passes the 500 yard safety zone around the motor vessel Roger Blough.|
|Lt. Gordon Gertiser, a marine inspector with U.S. Coast Guard Sector Sault Ste. Marie, inspects the engine room for possible damage aboard the motor vessel Roger Blough, May 30, 2016, in Lake Superior.|
|Watch the Soo Locks open for the season on March 25, 2016.|
|The Peter Rönna arrived this morning (above) on her first visit to the Twin Ports. She brought the 15th shipment of wind turbine parts to come here by ship for Minnesota Power. They loaded the cargo in Brande, Denmark, where the equipment is manufactured by Siemens. After the equipment is discharged here, trucks will take the over 2 dozen pieces to the Bison Wind Energy Center near New Salem, N.D. As she moved up the Duluth harbor, she was greeted by the departing Roger Blough, going to Two Harbors to load iron ore pellets after some repairs were made at Fraser Shipyards.|
|The Roger Blough came under the Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge (right) at 11:52 this morning (January 16, 2013). She then moved over to the Port Terminal dock (below) before going to Fraser Shipyards for winter layup. Last year, she stayed at the Port Terminal for winter layup. In between winter vacations, she was here for cargo only 8 times this past season, only 6 times the year before.|