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Defiance/Ashtabula make rare visit to GH

By Sam Hankinson • Aug 23, 2017 at 4:00 PM

Two tug/barges visited Grand Haven in the past week.

On Aug. 18, Pere Marquette Shipping’s duo Undaunted/Pere Marquette 41 came in with a load of stone for Verplank’s in Ferrysburg. They departed the next morning.

Grand River Navigation’s tug/barge Defiance/Ashtabula were expected in port Tuesday night with another stone cargo for Verplank’s.

The PM41 is a frequent visitor; the Defiance/Ashtabula duo is not.

It’s interesting to note that these vessels were constructed for service on saltwater at shipyards on the Great Lakes, and have now returned to where they were built.

The barge was built as the Erol T. Beker in 1982 at Bay Shipbuilding in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, in 1982. The tug was built as the April T. Beker by Marinette Marine Corp. in Marinette, Wisconsin, the same year. The pair entered service under operation for a subsidiary of Beker Industries.

In 1987, the barge was renamed the Mary Turner and the tug Beverly Anderson when Gulfcoast Transit Co. took over ownership of them. That company became TECO (Tampa Electric) Ocean Shipping in 2002, and then TECO was sold off to the United Marine Group’s subsidiary. U.S. United Ocean Services, in 2007.

In 2011, Rand Logistics purchased the pair, and they sailed to the Great Lakes in the spring of 2012.

The barge was built with an 80-foot unloading boom that was specifically designed for certain docks on the Gulf of Mexico. This was too small to trade with on the Great Lakes.

While the pair was passing through the Welland Canal on their first trip back to the Great Lakes, they stopped at International Marine Salvage in Port Colborne, Ontario. The boom from the scrapped ship Joseph H. Frantz was placed on deck and the duo proceeded to Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, where they were drydocked, refitted and renamed.

The Ashtabula is named after the river of the same name in the city of the same name in Ohio. Ashtabula has an active port, exporting coal and importing iron ore, salt and stone, as well as breakbulk cargos carried by saltwater ships. Sometimes the Ashtabula will visit Ashtabula.

The Defiance does not have a specific namesake.

The Pere Marquette 41/Undaunted should return later this week, and a coal boat may be in port this weekend.

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