American Spirit
IMO 7423392

Lake St. Clair River, Aug. 4, 2008.
(Alex & Max Mager)


The seventh of 13 self-unloading 1,000-footers built on the Great Lakes was launched as George A. Stinson for the National Steel Corp., Cleveland, OH. The bow and stern sections were completed at American Ship Building Co., Lorain, OH, as hull #907, while the mid-body was built at American Ship Building's Toledo, OH, yard and towed to Lorain on Nov. 15, 1977. The new self-unloader was launched July 15, 1978 with formal christening ceremonies held August 21, 1978 at Detroit, MI.

Named in honor of National Steel Company's chairman of the board at the time, Mr. Stinson dedicated the vessel to the city of Detroit and to the people and industry supporting National Steel's Great Lakes Steel Division on Zug Island. Sailing under the management of Hanna Mining Co., the George A. Stinson departed on her maiden voyage Oct. 14, 1978 in ballast to Superior, WI, to load iron ore pellets for Zug Island, Detroit, MI. Not only was the George A. Stinson the only 1,000-footer in the National Steel fleet, it was the fleet's first self-unloader. The other members of the fleet in 1978 were all straight-deck bulk carriers, namely George M. Humphrey (2), Leon Falk Jr., and Paul H. Carnahan, all of which were scrapped in the few years following the Stinsonís entry into service.

George A. Stinson was powered by two Pielstick model 16PC2-2V-400 four-stroke cycle, single-acting 8,000 b.h.p. (5,968 kW) V-16 cylinder diesel engines burning intermediate grade 280 fuel; the engines being built by Fairbanks Morse Engine Division of Colt Industries International, Beloit, WI. The engines drive two controllable pitch propellers giving the vessel a rated service speed of 17.3 m.p.h. She is equipped with a 1,000 h.p. (746 kW) bow thruster. The vessel is capable of carrying 62,400 tons (63,402 mt) at a mid-summer draft of 28' 11" (8.81m), the cargo being fed into seven compartments through 36 hatches. The vessel's self unloading system feeds a stern-mounted loop belt elevator to a 260' (79.25m) discharge boom that can unload the vessel at a rate of up to 10,000 tons (10,161 mt) per hour. Other capacities include 580 tons (589.4 mt) of fuel oil and 45,069 tons (45,793.4 mt) of ballast water. The self-unloader displaces 15,936 tons (16,192 mt) light ship.

Only three months into her career, American Spirit struck a wall of the Poe Lock at Sault Ste. Marie, MI, causing an estimated $200,000 in damages. While operating late into her first season, on January 23, 1979, the vessel became stuck in ice north of Port Huron, MI, on Lake Huron. Later, on April 17, 1983, the self-unloading boom collapsed due to a mechanical failure while unloading at Detroit. She continued operating as a straight decker until the boom was replaced on Sept. 20, 1983 at Sturgeon Bay, WI. April 20, 1984 saw the Stinson aground in the St. Clair River near Marine City, MI, due to an ice jam. Part of her cargo of iron ore pellets was lightered into the Paul H. Carnahan before she could be freed four days later. The vessel was also noted to have run aground while anchoring in heavy fog on September 5, 1996 off Gros Cap.

Skar-Ore Corp., Cleveland, OH, assumed ownership of the vessel in 1986, followed by Stinson, Inc. in 1989 with M. A. Hanna Co. as agents for both owners. With Stinson, Inc. retaining ownership, the vessel was leased to Interlake Steamship Co. in March 1992. Upon expiration of the lease in 1996, American Steamship Co., Williamsville, NY, leased the George A. Stinson. The large self unloader, painted in American Steamship colors displaying the National Steel red "N" just in front of her name on either side of her bow, operated on a dedicated basis for National Steel Co. carrying iron ore pellets from various upper lakes ports to its steel mill in Ecorse, MI, until May 2003. Even though the vessel was managed by American Steamship Co., the pooling of American Steamship and Oglebay Norton fleets (United Shipping Alliance, LLC) exempted the George A. Stinson due to the dedicated National Steel operation.

George A. Stinson laid up in mid-May 2003 following the purchase of National Steel by U.S. Steel, thus leaving the vessel without a cargo contract. She re-entered service on November 10, 2003 (with a freshly repainted bow after the removal of the red "N") after being chartered by Great Lakes Transportation, Duluth, MN, for the remainder of the 2003 navigation season.

In January 2004, the Stinson entered lay-up at Bay Shipbuilding in Sturgeon Bay, WI. Among winter projects was the renaming of the vessel. In late February, the George A. Stinson name was sandblasted off and the new name American Spirit was painted on. The new name honored "the spirit of the company's workers and the spirit of America" as stated by American Steamship Co.'s president and CEO Jerome K. Welsch during the naming ceremony at Sturgeon Bay. The self-unloader's new name was officially registered with the American Bureau of Shipping on March 15, 2004.

American Spirit grounded on the afternoon of Sept. 4, 2014 in Round Island Passage off Mackinaw Island possibly due to a seiche or other bad weather that moved through the Straits and knocked out power for much of the Eastern Upper Peninsula. The vessel was bound from Two Harbors to Indiana Harbor with taconite. After lightering 5,700 tons of taconite into flee mate Sam Laud, American Spirit was freed the following day and cleared to sail with no damage recorded.

American Spirit is owned, operated and managed by the American Steamship Co. of Williamsville, NY, a wholly-owned subsidiary of GATX Corporation of Chicago, IL.


Written by George Wharton.



Ship Particulars
Length 1,004' 00" (306.02m)
Beam 105' 00" (32.0m)
Depth 50' 00" (15.24m)
Midsummer Draft 28' 00" (8.53m)
Unloading Boom Length 260' (79.25m)
Capacity 62,400 tons
Engine Power 16,000 bhp diesel
Previous Names
George A. Stinson 1978 - 2004
American Spirit 2004 - Today

 


George A. Stinson 1978 - 1992
(National Steel Corp.)

Arriving in Detroit under tow to be christened, Aug. 1978.
(Bill Hoey)

The tug America helping to push her to the dock, Aug. 1978.
(Bill Hoey)

Christening Day, Aug. 21, 1978.
(Press Photo, Roger LeLievre collection)

Wintery day in Detroit with the William A. Whitney passing by, 1981.
(Bill Hoey)

Downbound in the lower St. Clair River.
(Peter Worden collection)

Going into Nicholson's for winter lay up with the help of the Gaelic tugs.
(Peter Worden collection)

Bow view of the effort.
(Peter Worden collection)

View of the wrecked boom from the winch station, April 17, 1983.
(Dave Cook)

View from the pilothouse.
(Dave Cook)

View of the ram lying on the Spar Deck. The wooden bench and plastic sheet are covering a hole that was punched through the deck when the ram hit.
(Dave Cook)

Unloading at Zug Isand by bridge crane, May 1983.
(Marc Dease)

Bridge crane working the aft hold.
(Marc Dease)

Close up of the stern without the boom, May 19, 1983.
(Marc Dease)

Stern view.
(Marc Dease)

Upbound in Soo Harbor as a straight decker, May 20, 1983.
(Mike Cleary)

Preparing to go into the Nicholson's Dock for winter lay up with the help of the Gaelic tugs.
(Peter Worden collection)

Tugs William A. Whitney and Olive L. Moore assiting in the St. Clair River ice jam, 1984.
(Jo Dan Hartingh)

Tipperary bringing the bow around in Detroit.
(Bill Hoey)

Laid up for the winter at the Nicholson's Dock in Ecorse, Feb. 8, 1992.
(Jim Bearman)

St. Clair, 1991.
(Dave Marcoux)

Upbound in the lower St. Marys River, 1991.
(Roger LeLievre)

Downbound at Mission Pt.
(Peter Worden collection)

Arriving in Superior with an ice covered bow.
(Roger LeLievre)

   
George A. Stinson 1992 - 1996
(Interlake Steamship Co.)

Unloading at Zug Island, May 3, 1993.
(Skip Meier)

       
George A. Stinson 1996 - 2004
(American Steamship Co.)

Close up of the bow, 1998.
(Roger LeLievre)

Downbound in the St. Marys River with the help of the Missouri, 1999.
(Roger LeLievre)

Open lake, May 30, 2001.
(Don Coles)

Zug Island, July 5, 2001.
(Mike Nicholls)

Summer view. St. Marys River, July 2001.
(Jim Hoffman)

Detroit River, Sept. 30, 2001.
(Mike Nicholls)

Stern view.
(Mike Nicholls)

Stern view Detroit River, April 13, 2002.
(Neil Schultheiss)

Delivery by mail boat.
(Neil Schultheiss)

Supplies loaded.
(Neil Schultheiss)

Icy St. Marys River, May 22, 2002.
(Paul Beesley)

Lake St. Clair, Aug. 6, 2002.
(Wade Streeter)

Close up.
(Wade Streeter)

Stern view Lake St. Clair.
(Wade Streeter)

Zug Island, Aug. 11, 2002.
(Mike Nicholls)

Close-up of the freshly painted bow on November 10, 2003. It no longer bears the stylized N representing National Steel Corp.
(Al Miller)

       
American Spirit 2004 - Today
(American Steamship Co.)

Newly renamed in Sturgeon Bay, March 10, 2004.
(Dick Lund)

Lake St. Clair, April 7, 2004.
(Neil Schultheiss)

Another view.
(Neil Schultheiss)

Loading in Escanaba, May 3, 2004.
(Lee Rowe)

Another view.
(Lee Rowe)

At the dock, May 3, 2004.
(Dick Lund)

Downbound approaching the Neebish Island ferry crossing, 2004.
(Jim Lindholm)

Zug Island, May 26, 2004.
(Mike Nicholls)

Below Mission Point, Sept. 5, 2004.
(Roger LeLievre)

Detroit River, Sept. 26, 2004.
(Mike Nicholls)

The Soo, March 25, 2005.
(Lee Rowe)

Zug Island with the Edwin H. Gott astern, May 22, 2005.
(Mike Nicholls)

Downbound, Grassy Island. June 20, 2005.
(Mike Nicholls)

Stern view.
(Mike Nicholls)

Downbound the Detroit River, Aug. 20, 2005.
(Mike Nicholls)

Being assisted by G-tugs at Nicholson's on the Detroit River.
(Mike Nicholls)

Downbound the Detroit River Sept. 11, 2005.
(Neil Schultheiss)

Starboard view.
(Neil Schultheiss)

Wheelhouse close up.
(Neil Schultheiss)

Winter lay-up at Toledo, Jan. 2006.
(Steve Dains)

Loading at Two Harbors, May 19, 2006.
(Kent Rengo)

Under the Bluewater Bridges, Nov. 2006.
(Dave Wobser)

>Lake St. Clair, Oct. 26, 2006.
(Alex & Max Mager)

Winter lay-up at Duluth, Mar. 2007.
(Andrea Asleson)

Close up of wheelhouse.
(Andrea Asleson)

West Pier, upbound at the Soo, June 27, 2007.
(Lee Rowe)

Lake St. Clair, Aug. 26, 2007.
(Alex & Max Mager)

Stern view.
(Alex & Max Mager)

Downbound lower Lake Huron at Point Edward, Mar. 28, 2008.
(Marc Dease)

Entering the St. Clair River at Point Edward, June 11, 2008.
(Wayne Brown)

Detroit River, June 11, 2008.
(Chuck Wagner)

Lake St. Clair, Aug. 4, 2008.
(Alex & Max Mager)

Stern silhouette.
(Alex & Max Mager)

Tied up at Bayship and ballasted down in the bow to raise the stern up so work can be done on the props, Aug. 30, 2008.
(Mike Schultz)

St. Marys River approaching the Rock Cut with the Frontenac in the background, Aug. 30, 2008.
(Roger LeLievre)

Downbound lower Lake Huron at Point Edward followed by the Algosteel, Sept. 6, 2008.
(Marc Dease)

Lower Lake Huron at Point Edward, Nov. 28, 2008.
(Marc Dease)

Loading taconite at Superior, May 26, 2009.
(Travis Chadwick)

Below Six-Mile Point on the St. Marys River, Mar. 27, 2011.
(Roger LeLievre)

Lower St. Clair River, Mar. 28, 2011.
(Violet Bostwick)

Close up of the stern.
(Violet Bostwick)

Stern view.
(Violet Bostwick)

Lower Lake Huron turning at buoys 1 & 2, April 18, 2011.
(Marc Dease)

Lower S. Clair River, Mar. 28, 2011.
(Violet Bostwick)

Rock Cut, St. Marys River, May 21, 2011.
(Roger LeLievre)

Upbound in Detroit, Aug. 5, 2012.
(Matt Miner)

Close up of the stern.
(Matt Miner)

Stern view.
(Matt Miner)

Passing under the Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge for Lake Superior, 2013.
(Roger LeLievre)

Unloading at Zug Island, Sept. 21, 2013.
(Matt Miner)

Upbound at Mission Pt., June 27, 2015.
(Matt Miner)

Stern view.
(Matt Miner)

Downbound at Mission Pt., June 24, 2016.
(Matt Miner)

Stern view.
(Matt Miner)

 

 


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