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Thompson makes its first visit of the season

Sam Hankinson/Ships Log • Aug 30, 2018 at 12:00 PM

The port of Grand Haven received four commercial deliveries this past week.

Action began with both of Port City Marine’s tug/barge combinations delivering cement cargoes to the St. Marys Cement terminal in Ferrysburg.

The Prentiss Brown/St. Marys Challenger brought in a partial load last Thursday morning, Aug. 23, and had departed by mid-afternoon. The next morning, the Bradshaw McKee/St. Marys Conquest delivered a full load to the terminal, backing out to the lake Saturday morning.

Late Sunday night, amid thunderstorms, VanEnkevort Tug & Barge’s articulated tug/barge combination Joseph H. Thompson Jr./Joseph H. Thompson arrived in port with a load of stone for Meekhof’s D&M on Harbor Island. The pair departed the next morning.

Interlake Steamship Co.’s self-unloading motor vessel Kaye E. Barker was anchored offshore for several hours Tuesday before arriving in port in the afternoon. The Barker delivered a load of stone to the Verplank dock and was gone by morning.

The companies that had tug/barges visit this week — Port City Marine and VanEnkevort — have their vessels frequently in the port of Grand Haven. The Challenger and Conquest visit often with cement deliveries and the Joe Thompson has been a consistent visitor in port for the past few seasons.

Both companies are in the process of adding new tonnage to their fleet.

Port City is currently converting the dry-bulk barge Cleveland Rocks to a cement carrier at Bay Shipbuilding in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. The barge, upon completion, will be named Commander.

VanEnkevort recently announced that they will be constructing a new 740-foot barge for Great Lakes service. It will also be built at Bay Shipbuilding.

Since the Thompson visited for the first time this season, I’ll give a little information on the pair.

The barge was originally a C4 ocean-going cargo carrier named Marine Robin. It was built in 1944. It was active in World War II and sailed across the Atlantic several times.

After the war, the Marine Robin was laid up before being pressed into Great Lakes service as a result of high demand for iron ore during the Korean War.

After construction at Maryland Drydock in Baltimore, Maryland, the ship was towed in two sections up the Mississippi River to the American Shipbuilding yard in Chicago for final assembly.

The Thompson sailed as a powered vessel until it was laid up in 1982. It was sold to Upper Lakes Towing for conversion to a barge in 1984; the operation took place at Bay Shipbuilding. The tug was built using leftover steel from the barge conversion.

The barge measures 706 feet, 6 inches long; 71 feet, 6 inches wide; and 38 feet, 6 inches deep. It has a carrying capacity of 21,200 tons and is equipped with a bow thruster.

Joe Jr. is 146 feet, 6 inches long; 38 feet wide; and 35 feet deep. It is powered by two Caterpillar diesel engines.

For many years, the two vessels were owned by Upper Lakes Towing. They recently came under the ownership of VanEnkevort.

Watch for the Wilfred Sykes this coming week at D&M or Verplank’s.

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