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Three ships in one day

Sam Hankinson/Ships Log • Nov 1, 2017 at 11:00 AM

To close out October, the port of Grand Haven received three cargos in one day.

Interlake Steamship Co.’s self-unloading motor vessel Herbert C. Jackson came into port Oct. 26 with a load of stone for Verplank’s dock in Ferrysburg. The Jackson had to seek shelter up north by Port Inland due to the adverse weather conditions on Lake Michigan last week before it could travel down the lake to Grand Haven.

This past Sunday was a busy day for Grand Haven’s port. It started shortly after midnight with the arrival of VanEnkevort Tug and Barge’s articulated tug/barge Joseph H. Thompson Jr./Joseph H. Thompson to Meekoff’s D&M dock. Central Marine Logistics’ steam-powered Wilfred Sykes arrived offshore a few hours later and anchored, waiting for the Thompson to depart.

The Thompson backed out at about 11 a.m. Sunday and the Sykes came in after the tug/barge cleared. The Sykes traveled up the river to Verplank’s dock in Ferrysburg to unload a cargo of slag. The Sykes unloaded quickly and was gone before sunset.

After the Sykes cleared, Port City’s articulated tug/barge Bradshaw McKee/St. Marys Conquest came in with a load of cement for the St. Marys Cement terminal in Ferrysburg, the third ship to visit the port that day.

The Herbert C. Jackson was making its second visit of the season. It was built as a straight-deck bulk carrier in 1959 by Great Lakes Engineering Works of River Rouge for the Interlake Steamship Co. In 1975, it was converted to a self-unloader by Defoe Shipbuilding Co. of Bay City.

The ship is named for Mr. Herbert Cooper Jackson, a former executive vice president and director of Pickands Mather & Co.

During last season, the ship was converted to diesel power by Fraser Shipyards in Superior, Wisconsin. It was formerly powered by a single General Electric steam turbine engine, and is now sailing with two MaK-6M32E diesel engines. 

With this repowering, it decreases the number of active steamships on the Great Lakes to five. Companies are finding ways to make their ships last longer and the solution is to remove outdated propulsion systems and replace them with new environmentally friendly, economically viable power plants.

The Jackson was the last vessel in Interlake’s fleet to be converted to diesel and the ship should be able to operate for many more years with these upgrades.

The Jackson is 690 feet long; 75 feet wide; and 37 feet, 6 inches deep. It has a cargo capacity of 24,800 tons. It is a very versatile ship and calls on many ports during a season, such as Buffalo, New York; Cleveland, Ohio; and Dearborn, Michigan.

Through last month, there have been 90 commercial deliveries brought in by 16 different boats (12 American flagged and four Canadian flagged). This is an increase of 5 percent when compared with last season, and a 37 percent increase based on data from the past five seasons.

The Wilfred Sykes leads all vessels with 17 visits and accounts for 19 percent of all activity into Grand Haven.

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