Last Friday, the pair came in under the cover of darkness in the early morning and tied up at the Verplank dock in Ferrysburg to unload a cargo of stone from Cedarville. They were gone by noon.
The Undaunted/Pere Marquette 41 are frequent visitors to our port. This was their third visit of the season so far.
Ever hear of the SS Badger? The car ferry runs between Ludington, Michigan, and Manitowoc, Wisconsin, on a daily basis during its sailing season. Ludington is also the homeport of the Undaunted/Pere Marquette 41.
The Badger and Pere Marquette 41 have more in common than you may think. The barge PM41 was actually built as a car ferry in 1941 that carried railroad cars and automobiles across Lake Michigan. Built by the Manitowoc Shipbuilding Co., it was originally named the City of Midland 41. After launching, the vessel spent many years sailing back and forth between ports on Lake Michigan, first for the Pere Marquette Railroad, and then for the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway Co. A combination of declining demand for ferry service and boiler problems sent the City of Midland 41 to layup in Ludington in 1988.
In 1997, the idled car ferry was towed out of Ludington to be cut down to a barge. A conversion process began in Muskegon with the removal of the ship’s engines and ended in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, with the installation of a notch for a tug to rest in. The “new” barge was then renamed Pere Marquette 41, which pays homage to the vessel’s original owners, the Pere Marquette Railway.
The barge currently measures 403 feet long; 58 feet wide; and 23 feet, 6 inches deep; and is equipped with a bow thruster. It carries a crane with a clamshell bucket, a bucket loader, as well as a material conveyor with a receiving hopper. While different from a traditional Great Lakes self-unloader, this setup allows the barge to carry a wide variety of products.
The tug Undaunted was built in 1944 by Gulfport Boiler/Welding in Port Arthur, Texas. The hull was laid down as the rescue tug USS Undaunted (ATR-126), but was later reclassified to ATA-199, which meant it was an auxiliary ocean tug. The tug’s role was to aid U.S. warships during World War II.
The USS Undaunted was decommissioned in 1947 and wound up under the ownership of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in 1963 when the vessel was renamed Kings Pointer. For 30 years, the tug served as a training vessel for the academy in Kings Point, New York.
In 1993, the tug was brought to the Great Lakes and served Basic Marine for a few years before being purchased by the Pere Marquette Shipping Co. in 1997 to push the Pere Marquette 41. It is diesel powered and 142 feet long, 33 feet wide and 18 feet deep. When the tug is in the notch of the barge, the pair measures 493 feet, 6 inches in length.
There are a number of vessels scheduled to visit Grand Haven in the next week or so. First, the Wilfred Sykes is due at Meekoff’s D&M and may have already visited by the time this is printed. There’s also the possibility for an unnamed vessel at D&M this weekend. There should be both cement and coal deliveries coming up sometime next week, as well.