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Undaunted/Pere Marquette visits Grand Haven

Samuel Hankinson • Dec 19, 2018 at 11:00 AM

Pere Marquette Shipping’s articulated tug/barge Undaunted/Pere Marquette 41 was the only traffic in our port over the past week

The pair came in Tuesday, December 18th, with a load of stone from Calcite, Michigan for the Verplank dock in Ferrysburg.

The PM41/Undaunted are frequent callers to our port, typically logging double digit visits in a season. Between the two vessels, there is quite a bit of history.

The barge began life as a car ferry in 1941 that carried railroad cars and automobiles across Lake Michigan. Built by the Manitowoc Shipbuilding Company, 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 Company. A decrease in demand for ferry services combined with boiler issues resulted in the City of Midland 41 laying up 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. The barge was then taken to Sturgeon Bay, Wis. and a notch was installed in which a tug could rest. The “new” barge was then renamed Pere Marquette 41, which paid 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.

This machinery is different from the traditional Great Lakes self-unloader but allows the barge to carry a wide variety of products. The open layout of the barge is an advantage as well, as material can be loaded much faster than other vessels that need cargo loaded hatch by hatch.

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 and renamed Kings Pointer. For 30 years, the tug served as a training vessel for the Academy in Kings Point, N.Y.

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 Company in 1997 to push the Pere Marquette 41. It is diesel powered and 142 feet long, 33 feet 1 inch wide, and 18 feet deep. When the tug is in the notch of the barge, the pair measures 493 feet 6 inches in length.

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