Sunday 6 January 2019

Classic Self Unloader KAYE E. BARKER

While the locks along the St. Lawrence and Welland Canal sections of the Seaway closed for transiting on December 31st, the Poe Lock at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan remains open so American and Canadian lakers are rushing this way and that way to get another load of iron ore and grain from Lake Superior ports before the 1,200 foot lock closes for winter repairs at midnight on January 15th.
The ship activity now is much like what we experienced during our visit along the St. Clair River in 2016 when while standing on the dock at the Bluewater Resort in St. Clair, Michigan on September 20th, no sooner had the 1000 foot articulated tug & barge (ATB) PRESQUE ISLE motored by upbound, from the distance downbound on her way to Detroit was the 767' classic straight-deck self unloader, KAYE E. BARKER minutes later. What a great venue the Bluewater Resort is.  
When she went into service in 1952 her name was EDWARD B. GREENE and was one of eight AAA KOREA-class bulk carriers especially built due to the domestic demand of ore and coal after WWII and during the Korean conflict. Like the other triple A's, the EDWARD B. GREENE was 647 feet long and built for the Cleveland Cliff Steamship Company at American Shipbuilding of Toledo, Ohio to haul iron ore from Marquette, Michigan on Lake Superior to Cleveland, Ohio on Lake Erie. However unlike the other, she had a distinctive triple deck forward house which provided large guest accommodations for her corporate passengers.
In 1976 she was lengthen to her current 767' at Fraser Shipyards in Superior, Wisconsin to increase her cargo capacity to 26,750 tons. In 1981 the GREENE returned to her original builder, in Toledo when she was converted into a self unloader with a 250' boom mounted onto her stern section which slightly reduced her cargo capacity to 25,900 tons but her turn around time to pick up another load of ore in Marquette was greatly reduced.
In 1985, her name was changed to BENSON FORD when sold to Rouge River Steel a division of Ford Corporation and began hauling ore from Marquette to Detroit. Her name was changed to KAYE E. BARKER after the wife of the Chairman of the Board and President of Interlakes Steamships, James R. Barker, when the Ford fleet was sold to the company started an exclusive contract to continue to haul Marquette ore to Ford's Rouge plant in 1989.

Riding high in ballast and pushing a white wake passed the Algoma tanker ALGOSOO and the oil refineries in Sarnia, I snapped the KAYE again upriver at Port Huron on the next day while she was motoring back to Marquette and obviously getting good use of her 8,160 horsepower diesel engines which replaced her original steam turbines in 2012.

Skimming along Michigan's upper peninsula is where I found the feisty KAYE E. BARKER this afternoon making one more run to Marquette and then back to the Rouge River  before laying up for winter. She's not the only boat out there as you can see from the MarineTraffic map. Battling strong gusts from the northeast on Lake Superior, is FAYE's husband, so to speak, the "footer" JAMES R. BARKER was well on her way to Whitefish Bay with a load of ore from Two Harbors for Nanticoke, Ontario on Lake Erie.
Until the Soo lock closes, every minute and cargo counts. But the good news is, it'll be business as usual before we know it in two and a half months. Meanwhile the rest will do us all good, don't you think? c):-D

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