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On the St. Clair River.

Frank Frisk

Great Lakes Fleet Page Vessel Feature -- Pere Marquette 41

By Brian Ferguson

If one were to make a list of the hardest working vessels on the Great Lakes, they would have to make mention of the articulated tug and barge Pere Marquette 41. In her more then a half-century on the Great Lakes she has served her owners well in two very different trades.

Her first life began on March 21, 1940 as the keel to Hull #311 was laid at Manitowoc WI. This keel would eventually become the rail car ferry City of Midland 41, named in honor of The Central Michigan City of same name. The vessel was to be 406' 00" with a beam of 58' 02". She would be powered by two Skinner Uniflow steam engines producing 6,000 i.h.p. and carry 376 passengers in her 60 staterooms and 12 parlors. She would also carry up to 34 rail freight cars and 50 autos on each trip. The vessel was launched on September 18, 1940 and her sea trials were conducted March 9, 1941. She was then delivered to her owners The Pere Marquette railway, and set out on her maiden voyage March 12, 1941. At the time she was considered to be the most luxurious ferry ever built.

The vessel provided reliable service for Pere Marquette and then later owner the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway Co until 1985 when cross-lake service was discontinued. Rumors stated that her former owners would start her in a new serviced based out of Port City, but all speculations came to an end in 1988. By that time the ship had changed management again and when eventual owners Lake Michigan Car Ferry found her boiler foundations to be beyond repair the classic ship was retired.

The Midland spent the better part of the next nine years tied up in Ludington, until October 2, 1997 when the tugs Mary Page Hannah, and Bonnie G. Selvick towed the Midland to Muskegon to begin her conversion to an open-deck barge. On March 28, 1998 the 2 Skinner engines were removed ending her life as a self-propelled vessel. When the stripping of her deck cabins were complete the Midland was under tow once again for Sturgeon Bay WI departing on April 21, and arriving on April 23.

While at Sturgeon Bay a notch containing a rack system for engaging her tow vessel was fabricated on the former ferry’s stern.

Also at this time Lake Michigan Carferry purchased the tug Krystal K. from Basic Marine of Escanaba MI. A historic vessel in her own right the Krystal K. was laid down on November 27, 1943 at Gulfport Boiler and Welding Works, Port Arthur TX as the Rescue Ocean class tug ATR 126. She was then reclassified as an Auxiliary Ocean tug ATA 199 and commissioned in 1944.

The ATA class tug was used to assist in the salvage and service of U.S. war ships. These vessels were typically 500-600 ton (lt.), 143 feet in length, 34 feet at the beam, and when loaded capable of a 13 foot draft. Not designed to take part in offensive hostile actions the ATA 199 had diesel electric power, utilizing 2 GM - Cleveland Diesel Div. - 12-278A ­ engines that made 2,400 b.h.p. to power an electric propulsion motor, and a single screw, which enabled her to cruise at 13 knots. The vessel was armed with one single 3"/50-gun mount and two twin 40mm gun mounts.

Shortly after the end of World War II the vessel was deemed surplus tonnage and was decommissioned in 1947. Under Maritime Commission management, the boat was renamed Undaunted (ATA 199) and was laid up as part of the National Defense Fleet July 16, 1948. In 1963 NOAA Bureau of Commercial Fisheries took control of the Undaunted for use as a research vessel, only to relinquish control to the US Merchant Marine Academy, at Kings Point, NY later that same year.

Renamed T/V Kings Pointer she would operate at the Academy for 30 years. In 1993 the venerable tug made her debut on the Great Lakes when Basic Marine purchased the Kings Pointer. Renaming her Krystal K. the tug joined a small group of ATA’s to operate on the Great Lakes. Included is the (ATA 172) which sailed as the William Carl Selvik, and Daryl C.Hannah, (ATA 179) operating as the Allegheny and Tug Malcolm, and the (ATA 220) under the name Samuel J. Dark. In 1998 Basic would deal the Tug to Lake Michigan Carferry’s Pere Marquette Shipping Company, who would in turn revert her name back to Undaunted. She was also modified to push the newly reconstructed barge City of Midland. With the addition of pin equipped metal sponsors on the sides of the boat, the Undaunted would be able to control the barge better than if she were secured by the traditional towline. She would also have a tower constructed in the place of her old pilothouse containing one crew cabin, and a raised wheelhouse for better vision.

The pair conducted sea trials on June 16 then proceeded to they’re new home of Ludington MI. June 18, 1998 the vessels second life began at Ludington, when the articulated barge was christened Pere Marquette 41 by Mrs. Elsie Conrad, and Mrs. Dorothy Manglitz. The new dimensions of the Marquette were 403-feet long, 58' 03" beam and a molded depth of 23' 06". Teamed with the Undaunted the vessel is 493' 06" in overall length. The barge was also equipped with an 80-foot conveyor-unloading boom, along with two 25 ton unloading material handlers (hook, bucket, or magnet capable). The barge can carry 5,000 net tons of dry bulk or 240,000 cubic feet of large or oversized cargo, on what was the former car deck. The floor of the hold is lined with hundreds of oak beams roughly the size of railroad ties. The beams are there to prevent the various loaders and equipment on deck from sliding and slipping. Spaces that were once engine rooms under the cargo deck are now used for work shops and storage spaces. The barge is also equipped with a diesel bow thruster.

After a successful first season the pair settled into routine trade patterns until October 8, 2000. While unbound for Marinette WI on Lake Michigan, shortly after mid-night, the barge's load of 5,000 tons of pig iron, and four pieces of heavy equipment shifted in 15-foot seas. The port sidewall dividing the hold from the wings of the barge collapsed and both cargo and equipment were lost. The tug's crew was forced to execute emergency breakaway procedures, releasing the barge from the tug. As the barge was released it ripped a 2-foot by 1-foot hole in the tug at the waterline. The tug was forced to head for shore where it ran aground 400 yards northeast of Wilmette Harbor.

The U.S. Coast Guard Station at Wilmette Harbor, responded to the Mayday call from the Undaunted, and removed four crewmen using their 21-foot rigid hull inflatable boat. A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter rescued seven other crewmen. As the barge Pere Marquette 41 drifted south at 4 knots, a Coast Guard search and rescue helicopter from Muskegon, MI. located the barge and directed efforts to regain its control. After initial efforts from a second tug failed, the Coast Guard helicopter hoisted a crewmember from the Undaunted and transported him to the drifting barge. At 7:30 a.m., the crewmember dropped the barge's anchor and stopped the barge 3.5 miles northeast of Calumet Harbor, 24 miles south of the position where it was released. At 8:23 a.m. the tug Donald C. Hannah took the barge in tow. The barge was then taken to Calumet Harbor. The tug Undaunted was later freed and towed to Calumet Harbor, Illinois. Temporary repairs were made, and then the pair sailed for Sturgeon Bay WI for permanent repairs.

With the loss of her unloading equipment, the tug and barge continued to sail for the balance of the 2000 season, and sat out all of 2001. While at the wall extensive up grades were performed. One of which was the addition of a new conveyor system designed and built for the barge, by Caterpillar of Michigan, which is able to handle aggregate up to 15 inches in diameter. The lost material handling equipment was replaced. And extensive overhauls were performed on the tug’s engines. In early April, 2002 the Pere Marquette 41 and Undaunted once again headed out on the lakes to resume a market niche for a versatile, relatively small-capacity, and shallow draft vessel.

In its short and eventful life as a barge the Marquette has hauled anything practically everywhere. Although her primary focus of late has been on stone, she has also handled pig iron, scrap, slag, steel I beams, and steel slabs. Built to run with a crew of 12 and able to operate on as few as 9, the advantages presented by this vessel will keep her out when newer and larger ships are still at the wall.

Overall dimensions
Length 403'
Beam 58'.3"
Depth 23'6"
Capacity (tons) 5,000

Unloading. Max Hanley

Tug Undaunted. Max Hanley

Underway.  Max Hanley

underway. Jeff Thoreson

Bow view. Jeff Thoreson

Unloading. Max Hanley

Unloading. Dick Lund


Stern view. Dick Lund

Unloading. Dick Lund
Pictures below taken after
the 2000 accident. J. Kelly

Looking forward from the tug.

The Undaunted from the barge.

Damage to the tug.

From the stern of the barge.

Close up of the barge's deck.

Close up of damage to the hull.

Unloading at Marinette Fuel & Dock,
Dec. 4, 2000. Dick Lund

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