As I reported in my last article, Interlake Steamship Co.’s motor vessel Kaye E. Barker was expected to arrive in port sometime last Wednesday with a load of stone from Port Inland. The Barker ended up arriving under the cover of darkness and was gone shortly after daybreak.
Grand River Navigation’s self-unloading motor vessel Calumet followed a similar pattern when it arrived Sunday. It entered during the wee hours of the morning and was finished unloading shortly after sunrise. The Calumet also unloaded at the Verplank dock.
This is the fourth time this season that the Calumet has visited our port.
It is a modern river-class vessel that was built in 1973 with the sole purpose of servicing docks on narrow rivers. While the vessel’s name and ownership has changed multiple times, the trade routes and ports have remained relatively the same.
The vessel entered service as the William R. Roesch, owned by the Union Commerce Bank and managed by Kinsman Marine Transit. After departing the American Shipbuilding Co. in Lorain, Ohio (where it was built), the Roesch headed north to a Lake Superior port to pick up a load of iron ore. The cargo was delivered to the Jones & Laughlin Steel Co.’s steel mill on the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland, Ohio. This was fitting for the Roesch’s maiden voyage, because the ship was actually named in honor of the active chairman and CEO of Jones & Laughlin.
William R. Roesch worked for Jones & Laughlin for 28 years. He began as a mechanic and ascended to chairman and CEO in 1972. He later became the president of U.S. Steel in 1979. Roesch died in 1983 after an illustrious career in the steel industry.
In 1995, the Roesch wound up in the Oglebay Norton fleet and was rechristened the David Z. Norton, now named after one of the founders of the company, a former banker that left his job in the 1890s to help form the Oglebay Norton Co.
The Norton was sold to the Wisconsin and Michigan Steamship Co. in 2007 after Oglebay Norton exited the shipping business. Its name was shortened to David Z. During this time, it was operated by Lower Lakes Transportation. 2008 saw Lower Lakes Transportation purchase the vessel and renamed it the Calumet.
It is now named after the Calumet River in Chicago and replaced an older vessel of the same name in the fleet. It is 630 feet long; 68 feet, 2 inches wide; and 36 feet, 11 inches deep. It has a capacity of 19,500 tons, with an unloading boom 260 feet long. The Calumet is powered by two 5,600-horsepower Alco 16V251E diesel engines that allow the vessel to operate at a speed of 16.1 knots. Additionally, it is equipped with a bow thruster.