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Michipicoten makes delayed visit

Sam Hankinson/Ships Log • Nov 29, 2017 at 1:00 PM

Grand Haven received three cargoes in the past week.

Lower Lakes Towing’s motor vessel Michipicoten was due into Grand Haven last Monday, Nov. 20. However, weather on Lake Michigan was not cooperating at the time, and so the ship dropped anchor off Milwaukee to wait for more favorable conditions to cross the lake.

On Wednesday morning, the Michipicoten was able to come in and traveled up the Grand River to Verplank’s dock in Ferrysburg to discharge a cargo of trap rock. The Michipicoten unloaded into the afternoon and departed before sunset.

Port City’s articulated tug/barge Bradshaw McKee/St. Marys Conquest was offshore and came into port to unload at the cement terminal in Ferrysburg after the Michipicoten cleared.

On Thanksgiving morning, the McKee/Conquest departed. The pair traveled north to Charlevoix to load another cargo of cement and returned to port on Monday morning.

The Michipicoten was visiting for the first time this season and is, so far, our 10th Canadian cargo. We had the same amount of Canadian cargoes last season.

It was built as the steamer Elton Hoyt II. Construction was started by Bethlehem Steel at Sparrows Point, Maryland, in 1952. The partially completed ship was towed up the Mississippi River to American Shipbuilding Co.’s South Chicago yard, where assembly was completed.

The Hoyt entered service for the Interlake Steamship Co. later in 1952. It was lengthened in 1957 and was given a bow thruster in 1965. In 1980, the ship was converted to a self-unloader and a new bow thruster was installed.

Despite these modifications, the Hoyt was one of the smallest ships in Interlake’s fleet. This meant that the Hoyt was subject to periods of idle more often than other ships due to its size. It spent time in layup for varying degrees of time during the 1980s and 1990s.

After the 2000 season, the Hoyt laid up in Superior, Wisconsin, which proved to be the ship’s final stretch of inactivity for Interlake.

In 2003, Lower Lakes Towing Ltd. purchased the Hoyt and reflagged it Canadian, renaming it the Michipicoten after the river of the same name that flows into Lake Superior.

Today, the Michipicoten’s money-making run is between Marquette and Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. The ship loads iron ore in Marquette and delivers it to the Essar Steel plant in Ontario. The Michipicoten has been dubbed “The Essar Express” because of how frequently it makes this trip.

Currently, the Michipicoten measures 698 feet long, 70 feet wide and 37 feet deep. It has a capacity of 22,300 tons. In 2011, it was repowered with a MaK 6M32C diesel engine.

As I mentioned last week, keep watch for the Joseph L. Block to visit our port at either Meekoff’s D&M or Verplank’s in the coming days.

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