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Sykes makes late-season visit to port

Dick Fox • Nov 25, 2015 at 12:00 AM

The Central Marine Logistics operated steam ship Wilfred Sykes came in very early on Saturday morning, Nov. 21. It unloaded its cargo at Verplank’s Dock in Ferrysburg and was outbound around 9 a.m.

The Sykes is named for a former president of Inland Steel, who retired in 1949 and died in 1964. Inland Steel was acquired by Arcelor Mittal, one of the world’s largest international steel makers, during the steel industry consolidations of the late 1990s. The vessel is an oil-fired, steam turbine-powered vessel built as a bulk freighter — the first laker built after World War II — in 1949 by American Ship Building Company at Lorain, Ohio.

It is powered by a 3500 horsepower Skinner Uniflow Engine. When built, it was considered a prototype for future boats and set many cargo records in its early years. It was converted to a self-unloader in 1975 at Fraser Shipyards Incorporated in Superior, Wis. This boat has a cargo capacity of 21,500 tons. It is 678 feet long, 70 feet side and a depth of 37 feet. The boom is 250 feet long and it is equipped with a bow thruster.

Our season is not yet over but is now really dependent on the weather.

Storms send ships to anchor as happened this past week. Cold temperatures make mining and loading more difficult. We were in Las Vegas this past weekend. It was really impressive to see our lighthouses, piers and channel on national television. If you are interested in keeping these structures for the future, please support the fundraising efforts to restore the catwalk and repair the lighthouses. I believe there are funds set up with the Grand Haven Area Community Foundation.

We may see the Sykes a few more times this season.

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