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GH shipping season opens with arrival of PM41

By Sam Hankinson/Ships Log • Apr 3, 2019 at 10:00 AM

Grand Haven’s 2019-20 shipping season began last week with the arrival of the articulated tug/barge Undaunted/Pere Marquette 41.

The pair arrived in port after dark last Thursday with a load of slag for the Verplank dock in Ferrysburg. By Friday morning, they were heading back out to Lake Michigan and their next port of call.

The Pere Marquette 41 was built in 1941 as the car ferry City of Midland 41. It sailed between Michigan and Wisconsin with passengers and freight cars for the Pere Marquette and C&O railroads.

It was idled in Ludington from 1988-97 as the need for ferries on the lakes declined. It was towed to Muskegon, where its deck cabins and steam engines were removed. It was then taken to Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, where a notch for a tug was installed.

The 41 part of the name was retained, but it was renamed Pere Marquette for its original owner, the Pere Marquette Railroad. It currently measures 403 feet long; 58 feet wide; and 23 feet, 6 inches deep. It is equipped with a bow thruster.

The tug Undaunted was built in 1944. It is diesel powered and 142 feet long, 33 feet wide and 18 feet deep. With the tug in the notch, these two vessels measure 493 feet, 6 inches in length.

The vessels are owned and operated by Pere Marquette Shipping of Ludington, where the pair spent their winter slumber.

After several months of inactivity, it is nice to see crews report back for spring fit-out and vessels depart from their layup berths.

The first sign of spring, at least for me, is the opening of the Soo Locks. I was at the Soo last Monday to see Interlake Steamship Co.’s motor vessel Stewart J. Cort lock through as the first commercial passage of the season. The Welland Canal and St. Lawrence Seaway have recently opened to commercial traffic, as well.

Ice is always a factor this early in the season. The Straits of Mackinac and St. Marys River, as well as the eastern end of Lake Erie, have been the most difficult areas to navigate. Ice breakers from the United States and Canada have been working to assist vessels through the ice.

There are no vessels scheduled for our port in the near future, but that may change. You can use marinetraffic.com to track vessels that may be coming to Grand Haven.

I also want to mention that the new edition of “Know Your Ships” was recently released. This year’s edition features the Wilfred Sykes, a frequent Grand Haven visitor, on the cover. I highly recommend you visit knowyourships.com if you haven’t heard of this publication before.

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