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The gales of April

Samuel Hankinson/Ships Log • Apr 18, 2018 at 1:00 PM

Gales of November in April? That seemed to be the case this past weekend, as a storm system descended upon the Great Lakes, causing ships to either anchor or seek shelter in a safe harbor.

Despite this, the port of Grand Haven still received one cargo this past week.

On Saturday afternoon, people could view three ships anchored off Grand Haven. To the south was the Cason J. Callaway. To the north, the John G. Munson and Kaye E. Barker. The Callaway and Munson were waiting for the weather to clear so that they could continue on to their respective destinations. The Barker was loaded with coal and was waiting for more favorable conditions so that the ship could come into Grand Haven and unload at the Board of Light & Power plant on Harbor Island.

On Sunday, all three vessels continued on to their destinations. The Callaway proceeded north, the Munson headed south and the Barker arrived in Grand Haven.

Amid snow flurries, the Barker discharged coal at the power plant and departed in the late afternoon. It was the ship’s first visit to Grand Haven for the season.

The arrival of the Barker at the power plant is the first by an Interlake Steamship Co. vessel since 2001. In more recent seasons, coal has been supplied to the plant by Grand River Navigation vessels.

The Kaye E. Barker was built in 1952 as the steamship Edward B. Greene by the American Shipbuilding Co. for the Cleveland Cliffs Steamship Co. It was lengthened 120 feet in 1976 at Fraser Shipyards in Superior, Wisconsin. In 1985, it was sold to the Ford Motor Co. and renamed the Benson Ford. Ford’s ships were sold to Interlake Steamship Co. in 1989 and the Benson Ford was renamed the Kaye E. Barker in 1990.

It is named for Kaye Elizabeth Barker, the wife of Interlake Steamship’s current chairman, James Rex Barker. Mr. Barker also has a ship named after him — the 1,000-footer James R. Barker.

The Kaye E. Barker was repowered to a diesel engine in 2012. It is currently powered by two Rolls-Royce Bergen (B32:40L6P) diesel engines rated at 8,160 shaft horsepower. It also has a bow thruster.

The Defiance/Ashtabula, the tug/barge which I profiled last week, is still in port as of Tuesday. I am unsure when the pair will depart.

Other than that, the adverse weather over the weekend likely had an impact on any vessels scheduled for Grand Haven in the future. Watch for a cement boat later this week.

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