Click on image for a full screen view
| St. Marys River, July 1,
-- Mesabi Miner --
by George Wharton
The keel for this "super carrier", the fourth of
thirteen "1,000 footers" built for various American flag carriers on the Great
Lakes, was laid at the American Ship Building Company's Lorain, OH yard on May
15, 1975 as their hull # 906. The bow and stern sections were built at
Lorain and the 550' (167.64m) mid-body was built at Am Ship's Toledo, OH yard.
The completed mid-body was towed to Lorain and moved into the drydock in
mid-October of 1976 to be joined to the stern section. Hull # 906 was
built at a cost of $45.1 million. The new, giant self-unloader was one of
a number of American ships built under Title XI of the Merchant Marine Act of
1970 which allowed U.S. shipping companies to build new vessels or modernize
their existing fleets by government guaranteed financing and tax deferred
The new self-unloading bulk carrier was launched
February 14, 1977 as the Mesabi Miner. The Mesabi Miner
sailed on her maiden voyage June 7, 1977 from Lorain to load iron ore at
Superior, WI. On June 11, 1977 after arriving at the twin-ports of
Duluth / Superior, the vessel was formally christened
at Duluth, MN for Moore-McCormack Leasing, Inc. and managers, the Interlake
Steamship Co. (Pickands Mather & Co.) of Cleveland, OH by Mrs. Hubert H.
Humphrey. The Mesabi Miner was named to honor the people of the
Mesabi Iron Range who had encouraged the development of the mining industry in
Minnesota. She was the second of an initial 2-ship building program
commissioned by her owners; the first vessel being her sister-ship and
fleet-mate James R. Barker.
The Mesabi Miner is powered by 2 Pielstick
16PC2-2V-400 single acting, 4 stroke cycle V-16 cylinder 8,000 b.h.p.
(5,968 kW) turbo-charged diesel engines burning intermediate grade 280 fuel and driving 2
controllable pitch propellers giving the vessel a rated service speed of 15.5
m.p.h. These engines were built by the Fairbanks Morse Engine
Div. of Colt Industries International, Inc. of Beloit, WI. She is equipped
with a 1,500 h.p. (1,119 kW) bow thruster. The vessel is capable of carrying 63,300
gross tons (64,317 mt) of iron ore at a mid-summer draft of 29' 01" (8.86m);
the product being contained in 7 holds serviced by 36 hatches. Her cubic
carrying capacity for coal is 57,200 net tons* (51,892 mt). The
Mesabi Miner's self-unloading system consists of a gravity fed 3-belt
hopper/belt system feeding a stern mounted 265' (80.77m) discharge boom that can
unload up to 10,000 tons of iron ore or 6,000 net tons of coal per hour.
She is equipped with modern pollution control systems that effectively handle
the ship's waste and cargo dust.
After her christening, the
became the first "1,000 footer" to load at Superior's Burlington Northern Dock #
5 when a record 54,321 gross tons (55,194 mt) of iron ore was loaded on
board on June 14, 1977 bound for Burns Harbor, IN. This was the
self-unloader's first cargo. In 1979, the giant laker delivered a record
38,850 net tons (35,245 mt) of coal to the shallow port of Port Washington,
WI. A port record for Conneaut, OH was established by the Mesabi Miner
when, on April 11, 1980, she took on 46,915 net tons (42,561 mt) of coal.
Also in 1980, the Mesabi Miner set a port record for that year at
Escanaba, MI when 60,999 tons (61,979 mt) of iron ore were loaded on board.
The self-unloader was noted on June 15, 1985 to have been the first vessel of
her size to have navigated the Saginaw River. Then in October, 1987, the Mesabi Miner was sent in ballast to the Stelco docks at Nanticoke, ON to
test the docking facilities there for their ability to handle these large
The Mesabi Miner has been involved in very
few major reportable incidents while sailing the Great Lakes. On March
27, 1989, she ran aground in the St. Marys River while downbound with iron
ore. She was freed on March 29 but not until after ice pressure on the
hull caused a small hole in her bow. After leaving her lay-up port of
Sturgeon Bay, WI, the self-unloader was damaged by ice again; this time while
transiting the Straits of Mackinac on March 24, 2004. She returned to
Sturgeon Bay to have a resulting 6' (1.83m) crack in her starboard hull plating
at the # 3 hatch just a few inches above the water line repaired.
At the conclusion of the 2006 navigation season, the
Mesabi Miner was the final vessel to arrive for lay-up at the twin ports of
Duluth / Superior arriving at Superior's SMET dock on January 19, 2007.
The large self-unloader opened the twin ports 2007 navigation season when she
departed Superior on March 16, 2007 with a load of low sulfur western coal bound
for the unloading dock at Marquette, MI, arriving there on March 17 becoming the
first arrival of the 2007 season at that port.
The Mesabi Miner continues to sail the
Great Lakes under the Interlake Steamship Co. flag in the coal and iron ore
(taconite pellet) trades much as she has since her launch in 1977.
* The shipping industry standard measurement for
coal is the net or short ton (2,000 lbs.).
|| 1004' 00"
|| 105' 00"
|| 50' 00"
tons (64,317 mt)
at draft of 29'01" (8.86m)
| Power (diesel)
b.h.p. (11,936 kW)
Turning into Dock #2 at Two Harbors, MN,
June 23, 2007. Andrew Huxman
Lake St. Clair, June 29, 2007.
Alex & Max Mager
Passing Mission Point on the St. Marys River,
July 1, 2007. Herm Klein
Bow view, Escanaba, MI Jan. 2005.
Escanaba, MI Jan. 2005. Lee Rowe
Soo Locks, Rod Burdick
Detroit River, Sept. 2005. Mike Nicholls
Arriving Marquette, MI Dec. 2005.
Marquette, Dec. 2005. Lee Rowe
Soo Locks. Sean Whelan
Marquette. Rod Burdick
Marquette. Lee Rowe
Close up Marquette. Lee Rowe
Heading for the Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal and winter lay-up as the Mesabi
Miner follows in the distance. Wendell Wilke
Detroit River. Mike Nicholls
Marquette. Lee Rowe
Crew change from mail boat. N.S.