Duluth-Superior shipping season winds to a close; seven lakers to be in port for winter layup

The Port of Duluth-Superior is welcoming seven ships for winter layup this year. In fact, the Indiana Harbor laid up early on November 3 and a major repowering project is already underway at Fraser Shipyards on the Herbert C. Jackson, in drydock since early December.

The Soo Locks at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan closed at midnight January 15. Four more wintering vessels are expected to arrive in the Twin Ports—the Edwin H. Gott, followed by the American CenturyKaye E. Barker and Philip R. Clarke.

The Port of Duluth-Superior is welcoming seven ships for winter layup this year. In fact, the Indiana Harbor laid up early on November 3 and a major repowering project is already underway at Fraser Shipyards on the Herbert C. Jackson, in drydock since early December.

The Soo Locks at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan closed at midnight January 15. Four more wintering vessels are expected to arrive in the Twin Ports—the Edwin H. Gott, followed by the American CenturyKaye E. Barker and Philip R. Clarke.

Boatwatchers will have to wait just a little longer for the arrival of the very last laker—the Paul R. Tregurtha—as the 1,000-footer is making one or two late season, intra-lake deliveries of iron ore. Her arrival beneath the Aerial Bridge next week will officially mark the end of the 2015 Great Lakes shipping season here in the Twin Ports. The last saltie of the season, Federal Bering, departed Duluth December 18; the St. Lawrence Seaway closed December 31.

In all, seven Great Lakes freighters will be wintering in the Twin Ports this year:

  • Indiana Harbor, Enbridge Dock
  • Herbert C. Jackson, Fraser Shipyards
  • Kaye E. Barker, Fraser Shipyards
  • Edwin H. Gott, Port Terminal Berth 1
  • Philip R. Clarke, Port Terminal Berth 4
  • American Century, Port Terminal Berth 6/7
  • Paul R. Tregurtha, Midwest Energy Resources Co.

While ships’ crews will take the next few, well-deserved weeks off, there is no real “down time” on the waterfront. Hundreds of workers—engineers, welders, pipefitters, mechanics, electricians and others—will spend the next eight weeks doing heavy-duty maintenance and repair work so these vessels are ready to sail when the Soo Locks reopen March 25 and the 2016 Great Lakes/Seaway shipping season gets underway.

The Jackson’s conversion is part of $110 million that U.S. vessel operators will spend on maintaining/modernizing ships during this offseason, according to Lake Carriers’ Association. Repairs and maintenance work will constitute $60 million of that total while the rest will be taken up by special project work, such as repowering or installing exhaust scrubbers.

Maritime Editorial