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Sykes makes its first visit

Sam Hankinson • May 16, 2018 at 11:00 AM

The port of Grand Haven received two cargoes this past week.

As discussed in my previous article, Grand Haven was expecting the arrival of the Wilfred Sykes sometime last week on what would be its first trip into port for the season. The Sykes arrived offshore on the afternoon of Wednesday, May 9 — but, at the time, the wind was too strong to make an attempt to enter the port. The ship dropped anchor and waited for calmer seas.

After dark Wednesday night, the Sykes was able to come in. It was bound for Meekoff’s D&M on Harbor Island. Once there, the vessel unloaded a cargo of slag that was loaded in Burns Harbor, Indiana.

The Sykes was long gone by daybreak Thursday morning.

The other ship that visited Grand Haven this week was Interlake Steamship Co.’s self-unloading motor vessel Kaye E. Barker late Sunday night. The Barker, like the Sykes, came in after dark and left before daybreak. The ship delivered a load of stone to the Verplank dock in Ferrysburg. It was the Barker’s third visit of the season.

The Sykes was built as an oil-fired, steam turbine-powered bulk carrier in 1949 by the American Ship Building Co. at Lorain, Ohio, for the Inland Steel Co. The Sykes has the distinction of being the first laker to be built after World War II and the vessel’s design was considered to be a prototype for other ships that would be built in the following years.

The Sykes was converted to a self-unloader in 1975 at Fraser Shipyards Inc. in Superior, Wisconsin. It measures 678 feet long, 70 feet wide and 37 feet deep, with a cargo capacity of 21,500 tons. It is driven by a 3,500-horsepower Skinner Uniflow Engine. It is named for a former president of Inland Steel who retired in 1949 and died in 1964.

The Sykes is due back in our port as early as Friday.

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