McKee Sons
IMO 5216458

Laid up in Muskegon, Nov. 8, 2015.
(Matt Miner)


The self-unloading barge McKee Sons was built in 1945 as a type C4-S-B2 fast troop transport by Sun Shipbuilding and Drydock Co., Chester, PA, christened as the Marine Angel. Her overall length was approximately 510 feet with power coming from a 9,900 shp steam turbine engine. Marine Angel was acquired by Amerisand Steamship Co. in 1952, with partial ownership shared with Boland & Cornelius (American Steamship Co.), whose fleet would operate the converted vessel for Great Lakes use. The retrofit included lengthening of 123 feet; a new, fuller bow; replacing the midship pilothouse with a new bow pilothouse; and an overhaul of her engine. This was completed at Maryland Drydock Co., Baltimore, MD. After being towed up the Mississippi River into the Great Lakes, her conversion to a self-unloader was finished at Manitowoc Shipbuilding Inc., Manitowoc, WI in 1953. She was christened McKee Sons and entered service that same year. As such, she became the first saltwater vessel to sail as a self-unloader on the Great Lakes. The vessel was named in honor of the 11 sons of the three McKee brothers who were the principals of Sand Products Corporation, Detroit, MI.

McKee Sons sailed as a steamer until 1979. From 1980-1990 she lay idle in Toledo, OH. Upper Lakes Towing Co., Escanaba, MI, acquired the idle steamer in late 1990, converting her to a barge and shortening her hull by 53 feet 10 inches in 1991. The conversion included removing her aft accommodations and propulsion system as well as the installation of a notch in her stern. Her six holds are fed by 28 hatches where she can carry 18,400 tons at maximum Seaway draft of 26 feet and is capable of carrying 19,900 tons at her maximum mid-summer draft of 27 feet 6 inches. She is equipped with a bow thruster. McKee Sons has a 250-foot bow-mounted self-unloading boom that can be swung 120 degrees to port or starboard. The barge was paired up with the 297 GRT Upper Lakes Towing tug Olive L. Moore. The 6,000 bhp diesel powered Olive L. Moore was built in 1928 and rebuilt in 1980.

McKee Sons and the Olive L. Moore sailed as a pair for the first time in 1992, first for Lakes Shipping Service Co. (managed by Upper Lakes Towing) in 1996, then for Upper Lakes Barge Line Inc., Bark River, MI from, 1997 into the 2000 navigation season.

In June 1997, the pair became stuck on the Saginaw River due to current due to high water, which caught them and swept them sideways. Four tugs were required to free her. Then, in October 1998, the pair ran aground in the Saginaw River, but was released after unloading about 7,000 tons of stone into the Joseph H. Frantz.

After the McKee Sonsí charter was terminated in early 2000, she was long-term bareboat chartered to Grand River Navigation Co., Cleveland, OH, an affiliate of Lower Lakes Towing Ltd., Port Dover, ON. After being refurbished and painted in Lower Lakesí colors at Sarnia, ON, she was paired with the articulated notch tug Invincible. This tug was built in 1979 at Jacksonville, FL, as the R. W. Sesler, a name she retained until 1991 when she was renamed Invincible. The tug is 99' x 35', is equipped with an upper pilothouse with a 60-foot height of eye, and has a Budworth linkage. Her twin screws are powered by EMD diesel engines rated at 5,750 bhp. The tug was purchased from Dixie Fuels Ltd., Houston, TX, where she had been engaged in pushing the 18,816 dwt hopper barge Mary Cecilia. Leaving Texas on June 6, 2000, the Invincible arrived in Sarnia via the St. Lawrence Seaway on June 20. McKee Sons and Invincible left Sarnia on their first voyage together Sept. 4, 2000.

McKee Sons arrived up in Erie at the end of the 2012 season to be drydocked for its five-year inspection, however the steel work needed was never carried out and the charter to Grand River came to an end. Tug and barge stayed in Erie until departing for Muskegon and further layup, arriving there on December 20, 2014. McKee Sons remains there still. Invincible arrived at Sturgeon Bay December 20 for layup and has been inactive since, first at Sturgeon Bay and, as of October 2018, at Ashtabula, Ohio, where she was towed by the tug Manitou.


Written by George Wharton.



Ship Particulars
Length 579' 02" (176.56m)
Beam 71' 06" (21.79m)
Depth 38' 06" (11.73m)
Midsummer Draft 27' 05" (8.36m)
Unloading Boom Conveyor Length 250' (76.2m)
Capacity 19,900 tons
Previous Names
Marine Angel (stern) 1945 - 1952
McKee Sons 1952 - Today
Tugs paired with barge
Olive L. Moore 1990 - 2000
Invincible 2000 - 2014

 


Marine Angel 1945 - 1952
(U.S. Navy)
         
Marine Angel 1952 - 1953
(American Steamship Co.)

Departing Baltimore under tow for the Great Lakes, April 1953.
(Roger LeLievre collection)

Passing through the Ciecero Ave. Bridge on the Chicago Sanitary & Ship Canal, March 4, 1953.
(Photo by Bill Qunn, Peter Worden collection)

Approaching downtown Chicago, March 6, 1953.
(Peter Worden collection)

Passing through Michigan Ave. Bridge, March 6, 1953.
(Matt Miner collection)

 
McKee Sons 1953 - 1990
(American Steamship Co.)

General arrangement plans.
(Roger LeLievre collection)

McKee Sons underway in 1962.
(Peter Worden collection)

Stern view.
(Peter Worden collection)

McKee Sons underway in 1962.
(Photo by Keith Gale. From Stuart Evans collection)

Stern view on the Detroit River.
(Rudi Rabe)

Lay-up at Toledo March 1973 with Ben W. Calvin.
(Rudi Rabe)

Sporting bicentenial markings, 1976.
(Jim Hoffman)

Passing Mission Pt. downbound.
(Tom Manse)

J. R. Sensibar & Sylvania along side in the Frog Pond, Toledo, Dec. 28, 1980.
(Matt Miner collection)

Laid up at the Frog Pond, Toledo, early 1980's.
(Rudi Rabe)

Champlain along side in the Frog Pond, Toledo, Oct. 6, 1984.
(Cy Hudson)

William G. Mather & Kinsman Independent (2) along side in the Frog Pond, Toledo, Oct. 4, 1987.
(Matt Miner collection)

At the C&O Coal Docks Frog Pond, Toledo, area with the Henry Ford II alongside. Late 1980's.
(Jim Hoffman)

   
McKee Sons 1990 - 2000
(Upper Lakes Towing Co.)

Barge with Olive L. Moore.
(Rob Burdick)

       
McKee Sons 2000 - 2014
(Grand River Navigation Co.)

Fit out in Sarnia. May 30, 2000.
(Teresa Parker)

Tied up in Sarnia, 2000.
(Don Coles)

Looking down the deck while loading ore in Lorain, Sept. 12, 2000.
(TZ)

Looking down at the notch.
(TZ)

Close up of tug.
(TZ)

Close up of name.
(TZ)

Close up of name.
(Jim Hoffman)

Outbound Saginaw.
(Stephen Hause)

Stern view Cuyahoga River, Sept. 15, 2000.
(TZ)

Aerial view in Lake Huron, April 18, 2001.
(Don Coles)

Another view.
(Don Coles)

Stern view.
(Don Coles)

Inbound Cleveland, May 3, 2001.
(TZ)

Early morning on the Detroit River, June 24, 2001.
(Mike Nicholls)

Stern view.
(Mike Nicholls)

Bow view while unloading in Cleveland, Oct. 20, 2001.
(TZ)

Tug Invincible out of the notch, May 14, 2003.
(Todd Shorkey)

Another view.
(Todd Shorkey)

Saginaw River, May 5, 2004.
(Todd Shorkey)

Stern view.
(Todd Shorkey)

Tied up in the old river bed for the winter, Jan. 25, 2005.
(Mike Nicholls)

Loaded on the St. Clair River, July 23, 2005.
(John Meyland)

Unloading at Bay City Wirt, July 8, 2006.
(Todd Shorkey)

The business end at work.
(Todd Shorkey)

Out on Lake St. Clair, Oct. 8, 2007.
(Alex and Max Mager)

Stern view.
(Alex and Max Mager)

Tied up for the winter in the North Slip with the Saginaw and CSL Assinaboine, Feb. 16, 2008.
(Matt Miner)

Close up of the bow.
(Matt Miner)

Close up of the two bows.
(Matt Miner)

Stern veiw.
(Matt Miner)

Saginaw and McKee Sons on a cool, clear winter day in Point Edward, March 5, 2008.
(BoatNerd Staff)

Invincible tied up at Cargil, Sarnia, March 22, 2008.
(BoatNerd Staff)

Unloading sand on a cold Buffalo day, Nov. 20, 2008.
(Rob Wolcott)

Full length view in the Buffalo Ship Canal.
(Rob Wolcott)

Bow profile of self unloading system and A-frame.
(Rob Wolcott)

Over-all view of the sand unloading operation.
(Rob Wolcott)

Passing the Essroc dock in Essexville, Aug. 19, 2009.
(Galen Witham)

Passing through the Lake States Railway Bridge.
(Galen Witham)

Approaching Independence St. Bridge.
(Galen Witham)

Nearing Liberty bridge in Bay City, Sept. 1, 2009.
(Todd Shorkey)

Stern view.
(Todd Shorkey)

Unloading at the GM Dock in Saginaw, Sept. 1, 2009.
(Galen Witham)

Closer view of the McKee Sons.
(Galen Witham)

Loading CSX Coal Dock, Sept. 20, 2009.
(Bob Vincent)

Stern view.
(Bob Vincent)

Looking down on the notch in the stern.
(Bob Vincent)

Unloading stone in Holland, Oct. 13, 2009.
(Matt Hughes)

Passing the Menominee North Pier Lighthouse, Nov. 11, 2009.
(Dick Lund)

Closer view.
(Dick Lund)

Preparing to unload coal at Menominee Paper Co.
(Dick Lund)

Ready to load ore in Marquette with the Manitowoc at the stern and the Charles M Beeghly visible on the other side, Dec. 31, 2009.
(Lee Rowe)

Closer view.
(Rod Burdick)

Unloading stone at the Osborne Dock on the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland, April 15, 2010.
(Paul Magyar)

Clear of the Soo Locks bound for Essar Steel, May 4, 2010.
(Roger LeLievre)

Aground in the Trenton Channel behind Grosse Isle, Dec. 25, 2010.
(unknown)

Another view, Dec. 25, 2010.
(Ken Borg)

The tugs Rebecca Lynn, Vermont, Carolyn Hoey, and Patricia Hoey pull.
(Ken Borg)

While the Idaho, Vermont and Wyoming push.
(Ken Borg)

The stern slowly coming around.
(Ken Borg)

Nearly straightened out.
(Ken Borg)

Finally secured at the dock.
(Ken Borg)

Loading at Beemsterboer's at 106th St., South Chicago, Sept. 26, 2011
(Ken Borg)

Tied up at the far end of the Cargil Dock in Sarnia, Jan. 31, 2012.
(Marc Dease)

Tied up for the winter at the Cargil Dock with the Robert S. Pierson behind, Feb. 18, 2012.
(Matt Miner)

Stern view.
(Matt Miner)

Downbound above the Neebish Island ferry, April 6, 2012.
(Roger LeLievre)

Close up of the Invincible in the notch.
(Roger LeLievre)

Backing down the reach of the Buffalo Ship Canal below the Great Northern Elevator, Aug. 21, 2012.
(Brian Wroblewski)

Abeam of the General Mills Frontier Elevator.
(Brian Wroblewski)

Coming clear of the Buffalo River with downtown in the background as seen from the North Pier.
(Brian Wroblewski)

Clear of the river entrance and starting into the Buffalo Outer Harbor.
(Brian Wroblewski)

McKee Sons and the Tecumseh with the tug Victory in the background laid up for the winter in Erie, Jan. 27, 2013.
(Brian Wroblewski)

Close up of the bow.
(Brian Wroblewski)

McKee Son's hull section to the right is the cargo hold built in the 1950's, the center w/ portholes is from the WW II C-4 freighter Marine Angle, & left is the newer steel fabricated for the tug notch in the stern.
(Brian Wroblewski)

McKee Sons & the CSL Laurentian at the Don Jon Shipyard, Feb. 22, 2014.
(Brian Wroblewski)

Close up of the bows.
(Brian Wroblewski)

Invincible still in the notch.
(Brian Wroblewski)

     
McKee Sons 2000 - 2014
(Grand River Navigation Co.)

Laid up in Muskegon, Nov. 8, 2015.
(Matt Miner)

       

 


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