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Barker, Port City's combo visit Grand Haven

By Sam Hankinson • Sep 13, 2017 at 1:00 PM

Two ships visited Grand Haven in the past week.

As expected, Interlake Steamship Co.’s motor vessel Kaye E. Barker delivered a load of stone to Verplank’s dock in Ferrysburg early Saturday morning.

On Sunday morning, Port City’s articulated tug/barge combination Prentiss Brown/St. Marys Challenger delivered a partial load of cement to the St. Marys Cement dock in Ferrysburg. The pair had unloaded in Milwaukee prior to coming to Grand Haven.

It took the pair almost seven hours to get from Milwaukee to Grand Haven. For comparison, the Lake Express in Muskegon can make the same trip in two and a half hours. I’ll keep in that in mind if I need to get to Wisconsin fast: I should take the ferry over hitching a ride on a tug/barge.

Speaking of Muskegon, the long-idled cement carrier Paul H. Townsend, which has spent the past 13 seasons tied up at the Mart Dock on Muskegon Lake, was towed out of port on Sept. 7 by Andrie Inc.’s tug Barbara Andrie for scrapping in Port Colborne, Ontario.

The Townsend was built in 1945 at Consolidated Steel Corp. in Wilmington, California, as a C1-M-AV1 cargo ship named the Coastal Delegate. In 1951, the Huron Transportation Co. purchased the ship and it went to a shipyard in Hoboken, New Jersey, to be converted to a cement carrier.

The ship traveled up the Mississippi River and the conversion process was completed at Calumet Shipyard in Chicago.

The new cement carrier was christened Paul H. Townsend in Detroit in 1953. Paul Henson Townsend, the namesake, was a former president and chairman of the Portland Cement Co. He died in 1981.

I passed up a great day of college football this past Saturday and headed to Port Huron to see the Townsend pass downbound one last time. Plenty of people were out to photograph the vessel, and I saw several people that made the trek from West Michigan.

I followed the Townsend down the river, starting in Port Huron, then Marysville and St. Clair. As the sun set, I said my last goodbye to the ship in Marine City.

The Townsend was a longtime landmark on Muskegon Lake, and it will be weird to drive past without it there anymore. A ship going to scrap means one less ship to photograph, and that’s unfortunate. While the Townsend will be reduced to scrap metal in the coming weeks, I won’t soon forget that evening I spent chasing it down the St. Clair River.

The Wilfred Sykes is due at D&M later this week, and the Mississagi is scheduled to call on Verplank’s over the weekend.

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