The vessel came in on Friday and delivered a load of slag to Meekoff’s D&M on Harbor Island. The Sykes was expected to return to D&M on the June 19, but because of the publication date for this article, I’ll have to confirm that next week.
The ship was built as an oil-fired, steam turbine powered bulk carrier in 1949 by American Ship Building Co. at Lorain, Ohio, for the Inland Steel Co.
It was built at the American Ship Building Co. in 1949 for the Inland Steel Co., and was the first “laker” to be built after World War II. Because of this designation, its design was considered a prototype for future ships. With its trendsetter status, it’s no surprise that the Sykes set many cargo records in its first few years of operation.
It is named for a former president of Inland Steel who retired in 1949 and died in 1964. The Sykes was converted to a self-unloader in 1975 at Fraser Shipyards Inc. in Superior, Wisconsin. Inland Steel was acquired by Arcelor Mittal, one of the world’s largest international steel makers, during the steel industry consolidations of the late 1990s.
The Sykes is part of a dying breed on the Great Lakes, as it is one of a handful of vessels that are still powered by steam. Ships on the Great Lakes are now powered by diesel, or sail as tug/barge combinations. Several ships on the lakes rely on liquefied natural gas for propulsion.
The Sykes is 678 feet long, 70 feet wide and 37 feet deep. It has a cargo capacity of 21,500 tons, and is equipped with a 250-foot unloading boom. It also has a bow thruster.
There are a few vessels to keep watch for in the next week or so. The Kaye E. Barker and Saginaw are expected at the Verplank dock, and D&M is expecting a vessel sometime this weekend.