Wilfred Sykes
IMO 5389554

Departing Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal, April 3, 2013.
(Monica Sawyn)


Built by American Shipbuilding Co., Lorain, OH in 1949 for Inland Steel Co., the streamlined bulk freighter Wilfred Sykes was the first new American-built Great Lakes vessel constructed after World War II. At the time of her launch, she was the largest vessel on the Great Lakes. The Sykes is powered by 2 steam turbine engines producing a combined 7,700 horsepower driving an 18 1/2 foot diameter four-blade propeller giving her a speed of up to 16 mph. Being the first steamship built to burn "bunker C" heavy oil for fuel instead of coal, her fuel tanks can hold 165,000 gallons giving her a cruising range of 4,500 miles. She is also equipped with a bow thruster.

Her 18 hatches feed into 6 compartments where she can carry 20,150 tons at maximum Seaway draft of 26 feet and is capable of carrying 21,500 tons at her maximum mid-summer draft of 26 feet 11 inches. The Sykes was the first Great Lakes vessel built with a 70-foot beam and was also the first laker built capable of carrying in excess of 20,000 tons. She set iron ore cargo records during her first three seasons of operations (1950, 51, & 52). At the time of her design, Inland Steel determined that the needs of the iron ore trade dictated that this vessel be the largest and fastest that the yards were capable of building and still be able to pass through the existing locks at Sault Ste. Marie. Her hatches are 44 feet wide, 11 feet long, and spaced on 24-foot centers. The one-piece hatch covers are moved by a 25 hp. electric motor driven tracked hatch crane which is equipped with 2 lifting hooks powered by a separate 10 hp. motor.

Private rooms are provided for all licensed officers and double rooms for the unlicensed personnel with each room having a private bathroom. Fore and aft recreation rooms are also provided. The Sykes was designed so that the crew could go anywhere on board without having to step outside (including stairways & passageways.

She is equipped with two 12,000 lb. bow anchors, each attached to 540 feet of 2 1/8-inch forged alloy steel chains. Her 10,000 lb. stern anchor is fitted to 540 feet of 1 7/8-inch steel chain. She also has six 50 hp. electric mooring winches with 1 1/2-inch plow steel mooring cables. Her lifesaving equipment includes two 31-person lifeboats carried on stern davits with power winches for raising and lowering as well as several inflatable rafts stowed in containers on deck.

The straight-decker was converted to a self-unloader in 1975 by Fraser Shipyards, Superior, WI. She is equipped with a 250-foot stern mounted discharge boom that can be swung 90 degrees to port or starboard for unloading.

Inland Steel has had the Sykes' activity focused on the Lake Michigan taconite, stone, and coal trades. Inland Steel was acquired by Ispat International of the Netherlands in 1998. Ispat, in turn, sold the 3 Inland Steel lakers to the newly formed Central Marine Logistics, Highland, IN. The 3 vessels were the Wilfred Sykes, Joseph L. Block, and the Edward L. Ryerson. This move was to comply with the Jones Act which dictates that vessels moving cargoes between U.S. ports be U.S. owned, operated, crewed, and built. After the change in ownership, the Wilfred Sykes' activity has continued to be focused on the Lake Michigan taconite trade into Indiana Harbor.

The year 1999 found the words "50 Years of Smooth Sailing" painted on the front of her pilothouse celebrating a milestone anniversary. Plagued with boiler problems during the fal of 2017, the Sykes entered layup at Sturgeon Bay, Wis. on November 19. Her boilers were rebuilt over the winter and she was back in service the following spring. The Sykes also spent a week at Toledo’s Ironhead Shipyard in the fall of 2018 for repairs to injuries sustained in a late November incident after striking a dock on the Canadian side of the St. Clair River. She departed several times from her usual Lake Michigan trade routes in 2018, making four rare trips to Lake Superior ports and two to Detroit in the fall. Boatwatchers were thrilled, and turned out in droves to photograph this Great Lakes beauty.


Written by George Wharton.



Ship Particulars
Length 678' 00" (206.66m)
Beam 70' 00" (21.34m)
Depth 37' 00" (11.28m)
Midsummer Draft 26' 11" (8.2m)
Unloading Boom Conveyor Length 250' (76.2m)
Capacity 21,500 tons
Engine Power 7,700 shp steam turbine

 


Wilfred Sykes 1949 - 1975
(Inland Steel)

Launching day in Lorain.
(Robert Kramer)

Maiden Voyage up bound the Amherstburg Channel.
(Rudi Rabe Collection)

As a straight decker.
(Luke Collection)

As a straight decker.
(Tony Paquette Collection)

 
Wilfred Sykes 1975 - 1998
(Inland Steel)

Under the Blue Water Bridge, Sept. 14, 1986.
(Marc Dease)

Winter day passage.
(Wendell Wilke)

Outbound Green Bay.
(Wendell Wilke)

Unloading in Ashtabula, April 10, 1998.
(J.T.)

Downbound on Lake St. Clair, one of the 1998 season trips to the lower lakes.
(Dave Marcoux)

Along side in 1998 from the mail boat.
(Dave Marcoux)

Loading in Escanaba. "50 years of smooth sailing".
(Rod Burdick)

     
Wilfred Sykes 1998 - 2015
(Ispat International)

Coming into Toledo.
(Jim Hoffman)

Coming into Ludington, May 7, 2000.
(Max Hanley)

Full view at the piers.
(Max Hanley)

Unloading at Indiana Harbor, 2000.
(Gary Clark)

Laid up in Sturgeon Bay along side the Kaye E. Barker and Lee A. Tregurtha, Feb. 2001.
(Dick Lund)

Tied up for the winter in Sturgeon Bay with the Arthur M. Anderson, March 18, 2001.
(Scott Best)

Close up of stack.
(Roger LeLievre)

View from the boom.
(Roger LeLievre)

Heading for the Mackinac Bridge.
(Roger LeLievre)

Out on the lake at dusk.
(Roger LeLievre)

View aft.
(Roger LeLievre)

Inbound Saginaw River.
(Roger LeLievre)

Pilothouse.
(Roger LeLievre)

Another view.
(Roger LeLievre)

Chart room.
(Roger LeLievre)

Chart table in pilothouse.
(Roger LeLievre)

Wheel Stand.
(Roger LeLievre)

Engine room from above.
(Roger LeLievre)

Passenger lounge.
(Roger LeLievre)

Commendation.
(Roger LeLievre)

Galley.
(Roger LeLievre)

Arriving at Wirt Stone Dock in Saginaw, April 9, 2002.
(Roger LeLievre)

Boom out and ready to unload.
(Roger LeLievre)

Empty hold.
(Roger LeLievre)

Unloading belt on the boom.
(Roger Lelievre)

View from the boom.
(Roger LeLievre)

Unloading in Saginaw.
(Roger LeLievre)

Unloading at Wirt Stone on the Saginaw River.
(Roger LeLievre)

Straits of Mackinac Sunrise from the pilothouse, April 2002.
(Eric Treece)

Summer storm, May 2002.
(Eric Treece)

Lighting strike.
(Eric Treece)

On the Maumee River, May 8, 2002.
(Jim Hoffman)

Loading coal in Toledo.
(Jim Hoffman)

Clear of I-75 on the Rouge River, May 7, 2002.
(Mike Nicholls)

Another view loading in Toledo, May 8, 2002.
(Bob Vincent)

Coal into the hold.
(Bob Vincent)

View from the coal loading machine.
(Bob Vincent)

Departing Holland, May 10, 2002.
(Steve VandenBosch)

Grand Haven, May 10, 2002.
(Steve VandenBosch)

Inbound in the Rouge River, May 15, 2002.
(Wade P. Streeter)

Back side of the forward cabins.
(Wade P. Streeter)

Stern view.
(Wade P. Streeter)

Passing the Gaelic Tug Dock outbound, May 15, 2002.
(Wade P. Streeter)

Clear of I-75 on the Rouge River.
(Mike Nicholls)

Heading for Dix Street Bridge.
(Mike Nicholls)

Foggy Detroit River, June 9, 2002.
(Mike Nicholls)

Closer view.
(Mike Nicholls)

Stern view.
(Mike Nicholls)

Stern view in the Detroit River, June 9, 2002.
(Wade P. Streeter)

Inbound through the Jefferson Street Bridge.
(Wade P. Streeter)

Passing under I-75 on the Rouge River.
(Wade P. Streeter)

Bow view at Fort Street.
(Wade P. Streeter)

Approaching Rouge Steel, Dearborn.
(Wade P. Streeter)

Capt. Ronald Berzinski (L) is presented with an official Read Wings flag to fly from the mast.
(Wade P. Streeter)

Unloading at Bay City Wirt, July 7, 2002.
(Todd Shorkey)

Bow view in the turning basin.
(Todd Shorkey)

Bow on view.
(Todd Shorkey)

Turn nearly complete.
(Todd Shorkey)

Another view.
(Todd Shorkey)

Loading in Marquette, July 24, 2002.
(Lee Rowe)

Bow view.
(Lee Rowe)

After sunset.
(Lee Rowe)

Aerial view in Lake Huron, July 25, 2002.
(Don Coles)

Bow on view.
(Don Coles)

Bow view.
(Don Coles)

Stern view.
(Don Coles)

Stern view.
(Don Coles)

Rouge River, July 30, 2002.
(Mike Nicholls)

Backing from the dock, July 30, 2002.
(Wade P. Streeter)

Mate watching over the stern.
(Wade P. Streeter)

In the turning basin.
(Wade P. Streeter)

Outbound on the Rouge River.
(Wade P. Streeter)

Upbound in the Saginaw River at Wheeler's Landing, Aug. 16, 2002.
(Todd Shorkey)

Downbound in the Saginaw River approaching Smith Park, Sept. 3, 2002.
(Todd Shorkey)

Bow close up.
(Todd Shorkey)

Outbound at Liberty Bridge in the Saginaw River, Sept. 22, 2002.
(Todd Shorkey)

Unloading at Bay City Wirt, Oct. 9, 2002.
(Todd Shorkey)

Coming into the Dock with the Maumee ahead, Oct. 21, 2002.
(Todd Shorkey)

Working in towards the dock in Bay City.
(Todd Shorkey)

The crew using the boom to get to shore.
(Todd Shorkey)

Cutting through the ice in the Saginaw River, Dec. 10, 2002.
(Todd Shorkey)

Stern view at Cheboyganing Creek.
(Todd Shorkey)

Passaging Veteran's Park in Zilwaukee.
(Todd Shorkey)

Stern view.
(Todd Shorkey)

Pilothouse Engine room telegraph's (Chaburn) inner workings. (Lay-up picture).
(Wade P. Streeter)

Winter lay-up in Sturgeon Bay, Jan. 8, 2003.
(Scott Best)

       
Wilfred Sykes 2015 - Today
(ArcelorMittal)

Undergoing unloading boom repair at Sturgeon Bay, Aug. 25, 2010.
(Matt Ludvigson)

Between 92nd and 95th on the Calumet River, April 20, 2011.
(Lou Gerard)

Coming through NS 5 bridges.
(Lou Gerard)

Docking at KCBX.
(Lou Gerard)

Departing Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal, April 3, 2013.
(Monica Sawyn)

Lake Michigan just ahead, the Sykes passes through the last of the Ship Canal, with the lighthouse on the north side.
(Monica Sawyn)

Wilfred Sykes and Lee A. Tregurtha above the Soo Locks, July 17, 2018.
(Roger LeLievre)

Entering the MacArthur Lock downbound.
(Roger LeLievre)

Captain Eric Treece.
(Roger LeLievre)

Supporting their favorite teams.
(Roger LeLievre)

Making the turn into Rock Cut.
(Roger LeLievre)

Downbound in Detroit, Dec. 16, 2018.
(Matt Miner)

Close up of the bow.
(Matt Miner)

Passing under the Ambassador Bridge.
(Matt Miner)

Stern view.
(Matt Miner)

Clear of the Short Cut Bridge on the Rouge River.
(Matt Miner)

Approaching Jefferson St. Bridge.
(Matt Miner)

Clear of Jefferson.
(Matt Miner)

Heading for Conrail Bridge.
(Matt Miner)

 
Various videos

 


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