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 St. Clair River, June 14, 2006.

Wade P. Streeter   

Great Lakes Fleet Page Vessel Feature -- American Century

By George Wharton

This Great Lakes self-unloading bulk carrier was built by Bay Shipbuilding Co., Sturgeon Bay, WI and was launched as Columbia Star on November 8, 1980 for Columbia Transportation Division, Oglebay Norton Co., Cleveland , OH. She is powered by 4 V-20 cylinder 3,560 horsepower G.M. diesel engines driving through a gear reduction box to 2 controllable pitch propellers giving her a rated service speed of 15 knots. She is equipped with both bow and stern thrusters. The Columbia Star has 37 hatches feeding into 7 holds where she is capable of carrying 78850 tons at her maximum mid-summer draft of 34 feet. Her stern-mounted 260 foot self-unloading boom can be swung 92 degrees to port or starboard and can discharge at a rate of up to 10,000 tons per hour.

The Columbia Transportation name was phased out in 1994 resulting in the Columbia Star's stack paint scheme changing to Oglebay Norton's with the Oglebay Norton logo being placed on her bow beneath her name. The Columbia Star's current activity (1999 navigation season) has been focused on the coal trade from the SMET docks in Duluth, MN to the Edison power plants in St. Clair and Monroe, MI. She has also taken coal from Superior, WI to Muskegon, MI and taconite from Taconite Harbor, MN to Lorain, OH. The Columbia Star currently holds the Soo record for western coal of 70,903 net tons set in 1997.

The first of two modern super carriers in Oglebay Norton's 12 vessel fleet, the future of the Columbia Star should remain secure for many years to come. The other vessels in the current Oglebay Norton fleet include the super carrier Oglebay Norton; and the self-unloaders Armco, Buckeye, Courtney Burton, Joseph H. Frantz, Middletown, David Z. Norton, Earl W. Oglebay, Reserve, Fred R. White Jr., and Wolverine.

On June 6, 2006 in a joint announcement made with American Steamship Co. of Williamsville, NY, Oglebay Norton Co. announced the sale of the Columbia Star and five of her fleetmates to American Steamship Co. (ASC) for $120 million.  With the sale came a new name: American Century.  The other vessels going to ASC were the Armco, Courtney Burton, Fred R. White Jr., Middletown and Oglebay Norton.


Overall dimensions
Length 1000'00"
Beam 105'00"
Depth 56'00"
Capacity (tons) 78,850


Muskegon. Steve Vanden Bosch

Passing Amherstburg, Ont. Don Coles

Inbound Duluth. Al Miller

Duluth Harbor. Al Miller

Another view. Al Miller

Mission Point. Dick Lund

Escanaba. Dick Lund

Lake Huron. N. Schultheiss

Nicolet Ranges, St. Marys River. Paul Beesley

Cadet's stateroom. Jason LaDue

Wheelhouse. Jason LaDue

Inbound Duluth, Michael Sipper

Stern view, June 14, 2006.
Wade P. Streeter

Aerial view.  Don Coles

St. Clair River. Andy Severson

Turning for the Recor Edison Power Plant. Don Coles

Duluth Gordon A. Williams

Zug Island. Mike Nicholls

Stern view. Mike Nicholls

Above the Soo Locks. Roger LeLievre

Bow view. Escanaba. Dick Lund

View from the ore dock. Dick Lund

Loading in Escanaba. Rod Burdick

Duluth. Rob Farrow

Lake Superior from the pilot house of the Columbia Star. Sharon Bouchonville

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