‘Sure looks beautiful’: Freshly painted, SS Badger gets to work
Ludington, MI – Decked in fresh paint and outfitted with several upgrades, the SS Badger made its first trip of the season to Manitowoc, Wisconsin and back on Thursday.
It was an “absolutely beautiful day for a first sail,” said Shelby Soberalski, Director of Marketing and Sales for Lake Michigan Carferry. “Perfect weather. Couldn’t have asked for anything better.” On the ground in Manitowoc, speaking between honks of the Badger’s horn, Soberalski said the ride was “so much fun. … It’s been a great day.”
Thursday marked the Badger’s first trip since the 69-year-old National Historic Landmark was sandblasted and covered with 800 gallons of fresh paint late last year.
“It’s a definite visual testament to the future of the Badger,” Soberalski said. “Some passengers specifically wanted to come and see the new paint. … People were very excited to see that she’s being so well taken care of.”
The Badger also crossed the lake equipped with renovated crew quarters and a new system for passengers to stream movies and shows on their devices, but on Thursday, “a lot of passengers were excited to be outside on the open air decks,” she said.
Arcade games are set to be installed on the ship this week, and from June 10 to Sept. 7, the ship will get back to running doubles — taking a night trip back to Manitowoc and returning to Ludington by morning.
“We’re really excited to bring back doubles,” Soberalski said. “This is something that we had hosted in the past, that we had a lot of demand for, and people are getting really excited for an opportunity to see the sunset, see night sky stargazing opportunities.”
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Ludington Daily News
Great Lakes iron ore trade down in April
Cleveland, OH – Iron ore shipments on the Great Lakes totaled 3 million tons in April, a decrease of 44.7 percent compared to last year. Shipments were 41.3 percent below the month’s 5-year average.
Year-to-date the iron ore trade stands at 5.5 million tons, a decrease of 41.7 percent compared to the same point in 2021. Through April, iron ore shipments are 37.4 percent below their 5-year average for four months of the year.
Lake Carriers’ Association
Great Lakes limestone trade down in April
Cleveland, OH – Shipments totaled 2 million net tons, a decrease of 16.6 percent compared to a year ago. Loadings were above the month’s 5-year average by 5.5 percent.
Loadings at U.S. ports totaled 1.6 million tons, a decrease of 14.6 percent. Shipments from Canadian quarries decreased by 24.4 percent to 370,107 tons.
Year-to-date the limestone trade stands at 2 million tons, a decrease of 19.1 percent from 2021. Shipments from U.S. ports decreased by 16.5 percent from the previous year, while shipments from Canadian ports decreased by 28.8 percent.
Lake Carriers’ Association
Guests tour giant vessels, old and new
Sturgeon Bay, WI – Visitors saw more history-making Great Lakes vessels than usual during this year’s tours at the Sturgeon Bay shipyards.
Some years, the winter fleet has sailed away for freight-hauling duty before the Rotary Club’s annual shipyard-tour fundraiser takes place, but this year, 1,000 people who bought $20 tickets for the tours got a chance to approach and learn about two of the oldest Great Lakes super-freighters.
They also saw a 1,004-foot-long vessel up on blocks, without its props or rudder, in Fincantieri’s large graving dock, and they got a close look at the exterior of the newest freighter on the Great Lakes.
Docked along the bay of Sturgeon Bay, the 858-foot-long bulk freighter M/V Roger Blough floated high in the water, wedged and winched between the 1,000-foot-long Stewart Cort and a 70-year-old, oil-fired steamship, the Cason J. Callaway. At least this month, the Stewart Cort had a much different cargo, said tour volunteer Stu Fett, who retired after 47 years at the shipyard.
“The Stewart Cort is being used as hotel accommodations for the crew that is going to be on the Mark W. Barker,” Fett said, motioning northeastward toward a somewhat shorter, new vessel.
Fett said that while carrying taconite or other freight, the Cort would need 23 or 24 crew members to operate, but the Mark W. Barker, built by Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding, could need as few as 16 or 17 crew members.
Visitors on the tour asked about the future of the Roger Blough, which caught fire and sustained millions of dollars’ worth of damage 15 months ago. Fett said he couldn’t speak to the future of the vessel, which is part of the Canadian National Railway Great Lakes Fleet, along with the Callaway. Fett said U.S. Steel originally wanted the Blough to be the first 1,000-foot freighter on the Great Lakes, but a week before its scheduled 1971 launch in Lorain, Ohio, a fire on board killed four workers. The company scaled back on the size while doing repairs to complete the Blough.
The Cort, built for Bethlehem Steel, became the first “thousand-footer” on the Great Lakes, Fett said. Launched in 1972, it had construction delays, too. A Mississippi yard built and connected its fore and aft sections so it could navigate the Atlantic Coast and seaway to Erie, Pennsylvania, where its center sections were added. Fett said its side tanks were added after it got through some locks that could not handle its 105-foot total width.
The anticipated christening this spring of Interlake Steamship’s Mark W. Barker will make history – and not just for the Sturgeon Bay yard, said Craig Perciavalle, Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding vice president and general manager, who was hired for the shipyard’s top spot after Todd Thayse retired in January of this year.
“That will be the first bulk carrier built in the Great Lakes for 40 years, so that’s a pretty big milestone for U.S. shipbuilding,” Perciavalle said. “We have a lot of great customers. Interlake is one of them. We were happy to win that contract and to finish that up.” When the 639-foot-long vessel was floated out of dry dock at Sturgeon Bay in November 2021, it marked the first launch of a large bulk freighter in the lakes since 1983, and the first for Interlake since 1981.
Perciavalle said Fincantieri did not allow any public access to the south yard, where the company has been helping Fincantieri Marinette Marine complete sections of frigates for the Saudi Arabian navy. Though he did not specify a date or month, he confirmed that it won’t be long before the company needs to ramp up to build sections of modern frigates for the U.S. Navy.
Perciavalle said there’s still plenty to see on the commercial side of the shipyard, and the annual Rotary Club tours should continue as the years go on.
“This is really phenomenal,” Perciavalle told the Peninsula Pulse. “To have this open to the public through the Rotary, I think is a great thing for us. I think it’s a great opportunity, and we look forward to this every year. We’re very proud to be a part of this and to do all we can for a community that provides a tremendous amount of support for us.” Perciavalle said the Rotarians seem to have the tour routes “down to a science. They pretty much run the show, and we provide the support.”
This is the 29th year that the Rotary Club has held the event. Tour proceeds go to the club’s scholarship funds and student-exchange program, tour chair Keith Mutchler said. The Rotary Club did not have tours in 2020, and it delayed the 2021 tours until September because of COVID-19 concerns.
Years ago, the Rotary Club did not limit crowd sizes. “A couple of years, we had way too many people, and we were pushing things and pushing the volunteers,” Mutchler said. The club now ensures a high-quality event by limiting the number of visitors it allows in, and it always sells all of the available tickets. “We sold out about two weeks ago, and we continued to have people emailing or approaching us for more tickets,” Mutchler said.
Door County Pulse
Time running out for Boatnerd freighter-chasing cruise early bird rate
After going on pandemic hiatus for the last two years, the Annual Boatnerd Soo Freighter Chasing Cruise is back in business!
• When: Friday – June 24, 6–9 pm, rain or shine
• Where: Soo Locks Boat Tours, Dock #2 (next to the Valley Camp)
• Limit: 100 passengers
• Food: Pizza and salad included with paid passage
• General Admission (US funds): Early Bird rate $30.00 each, $35.00 each from June 1-June 17
• Youth Admission (US funds): Early Bird rate $20.00 each, $25.00 each from June 1-June 17. Youth admission applies to those under 18.
This year’s St. Marys River cruise will be aboard a Famous Soo Locks Boat Tours boat on Friday, June 24. Boarding begins at 5:30 pm, and we cast off at 6pm. The cruise is three hours long. We plan to travel through the U.S. Locks, but that may change in order to chase freighters. (NOTE: At this time, we can approach the Canadian Locks, but not transit through them. We can also approach Algoma Steel, but we cannot enter the slip.)
Pizza and salad are included in paid passage. There will be a cash bar on board. You can bring your own food and beverages (no alcohol).
Reservations are a must, as the group is limited to 100 passengers. Reservations (both online and mail-in) must be received no later than Friday, June 17. Buy tickets here: https://tinyurl.com/2p86wujf
If the cruise is not sold out, Angie Williams will take CASH ONLY reservations through the end of the Boatnerd Picnic on Thursday, June 23, at the Procrastinator Price of $40.00 per General Admission ticket, and $30 per youth ticket.
Contact Angie at [email protected] or 734-386-0899 if you have questions or wish to reserve without using EventBrite,.
The Boatnerd Picnic will be Thursday, June 23, from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. at Sherman Park, just west of the locks. Bring a dish to pass. Burgers, hot dogs, buns and condiments will be provided by Boatnerd. Free.) Save the date and think early about your travel plans and lodging. The event will be held rain or shine, but lets hope for sunshine!
Events are in conjunction with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers annual Engineer’s Day (Friday, June 24) open house at the Soo Locks, Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan.
Have a good weekend everyone!