Sunday, 22 September 2013

Self Unloader EDGAR B. SPEERS


We're Baaack! Yes, another whirlwind boat hunting and/or scenic tour is behind us. Over the last six days, our trusty black Ford Fusion motored along without incident and accepted another 2500 'klicks' to its life (or perhaps, eventual demise). This go round, JBLACK1 allowed us to snap all kinds of boats in motion or moored in harbours like Port McNicholl, Blind River,  Sault Ste. Marie (Ontario and Michigan), Mackinaw City, Cheboygan, Port Huron, Sarnia, and Corunna which is a small village with a great view of the St. Clair River. We also saw the rugged but picturesque landscapes of the Canadian Shield, ruins and historical sites that date back to the War of 1812 and earlier, and both the New and Old Soo Locks in action. Our adventure took us along many single to multi-lane roadways, the Trans-Canada Highway, and we safely crossed to the other side on the massive but lasting steel and concrete spans of the Sault Ste. Marie International Bridge, the Mackinac Straits Bridge, and the Blue Water Bridge back to Canada where the water beneath us was truly, BLUE!!
I also got to see my first 1000 footer, the land-locked monster ships that can only operate from Lake Erie to the upper Great Lakes because they're too long and wide to transit any of the locks along the St. Lawrence Seaway. As the sun continued to set in the west and while situated at a park located across from the eastern end to the American Soo Locks, I was able to snap these shots of the 1,004'x105' self unloader EDGAR B. SPEERS as she slowly motored out of the 1200' Poe Lock heading downbound to destinations unknown. When the SPEERS was launched in 1980, her forward section was built in Toledo, OH and then towed to Lorain, OH where it was attached to the aft accommodations section. Though the EDGAR B. SPEERS appears to be a bulk carrier, she actually is equipped with a 52' retractable boom (seen straddling the deck below the ship's bridge in the top snap) which when extended is positioned over special hoppers that have been built in Gary, IN and Conneaut, OH to accept the SPEERS cargo of taconite pellets from Duluth and other the Lake Superior ports. Owned by Great Lakes Fleets of Duluth, the huge EDGAR B. SPEERS is actually registered in the 'Big Apple' - New York, New York.
The SPEERS can carry over 73,700 tons of cargo which is almost double that of any of Canada's largest ore carrying lakers like the CSL's ATLANTIC ERIE (http://carlzboats.blogspot.ca/2013/06/self-unloader-atlantic-erie-revisited.html). Also, when the EDGAR B. SPEERS started operating, seven smaller ore carrying lakers in Great Lakes Fleet were sold for scrap. Inefficient assets replaced with a mammoth ship almost twice their size while dramatically reducing their overall carbon foot print. Sign of the times.

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