Monday 23 July 2018

Tug & Barge KATHERINE & WEEKS 2901

I'm not always this lucky πŸ€ when it comes to photographing ships. On July 9th, we were motoring home on the 401 with no extra time to snap any boat pics along the way because my wife had to pick up her truck at the mechanic's by 5:30 pm. Even though we left Toronto very close to on time and had virtual no traffic delays, it was going to be tight to get there on time. But as luck πŸ€ had it Janice got a call from the mechanic saying they needed to keep her Ranger until the next morning which meant ship photo op time had returned. YES!!! πŸ‘πŸ“·πŸ‘Then soon after we had passed Gananoque (GAN-a-NOK-way) we saw that there was an accident ahead after Mallorytown. No problem, just a simple diversion or "Plan B" south to the St. Lawrence River and then motor to Brockville and beyond to the 416 if need be via the scenic Thousand Island Parkway and the old # 2 or now known as,  the Loyalist Highway because the pressure to get home ASAP was no more.
Just beyond the Thousand Island National Park at Mallorytown Landing, we stopped at a parking area and as luck πŸ€ had it, we saw that the 656' FEDERAL BALTIC was heading our way and at the time was passing through the Brockville Narrows.
We were also across from Chimney Island which had a block- house on it during the War of 1812 and all that remains now of the army outpost is the stone chimney which is a National Historic Site and an excellent landmark when plotting your course. While panning the choppy shoreline I noticed what I first thought was a lighthouse but then it moved. No, it wasn't a lighthouse but instead the elevated wheelhouse of a tug.  Interesting, who can she be? A closer look on my MarineTraffic phone app indicated she was the U.S. flagged 99' tug KATHERINE and according to the St. Lawrence Seaway website she was pushing the barge WEEKS 2901. πŸ‘πŸ“·πŸ‘

When built in 1979 at McDermott Shipyards in New Iberia, Louisiana, the tug's name was OCEAN CHIEF and began working for L & L Marine Company of St. Louis, Missouri. Her name has been KATHERINE since 1986 when she was sold to Weeks Marine of Cranford, New Jersey. The twin screw 3000 hp KATHERINE has a maximum speed of 12 knots which as luck πŸ€ had it is the max speed when transiting the St Lawrence Seaway.
American ship passages isn't something we see that often in these parts. True we have seen the odd U.S. flagged self unloader hauling iron ore to Quebec City that would eventually be loaded into huge bulk carriers for overseas markets, but seldom have we seen ongoing American tug passages like what I’ve seen on many rivers south of the border other than the ROBINSON BAY and the smaller PERFORMANCE which are both owned and operated by the U.S. counterpart of the St. Lawrence Seaway. More often than not we'd see them when navigation aid needed to maintained before or near the end of the Seaway's shipping season.

While the KATHERINE and her 180' ABS-class ocean barge WEEKS 2901 which was built in 2012 at the Tell City Boatworks in Tell City, Illinois on the Ohio River, was making good speed in the downstream current, there'd be no such luck πŸ€ to get a much better view of them because even though the river is very wide along there, the nearby channel was cluttered with small islands and shallow shoals everywhere. 
As you can see on the above, I-Boating: Nautical/Marine app chart for that area, the depth in feet from where I was near Chimney Island (the one with a chimney illustration on the island graphic) to Dark Island near the bottom right corner of the chart is inconsistent compared to the shipping channel (the red line with arrows up anddown) to the right of the island. By the way, Dark Island is where the Singer "Sewing Machine" family's mansion or castle is located and with it's high red roofs it's quite the site to see when motoring on the river. From the rock that I was standing on at water’s edge by the Thousand Island Parkway, the distance to the KATHERINE and her cargo-less deck barge was about 3 kilometres, so the photo you take from there will only be as good as your zoom lens.

Photo by Joanne Crack at Prescott, Ontario

Photo by Michel Gosselin below Welland Canal's Lock 1 at Port Weller.
Joanne Crack, who is the administrator of the Facebook ship watching group, "The Prescott ⚓ Anchor", took a great photo as per usual of the upbound KATHERINE and her cargo laden barge destined for Cleveland, Ohio on June 30th from her apartment's balcony that looks square on to the St. Lawrence River. Great vantage point Joanne πŸ‘πŸ“·πŸ‘. According to Michel Gosselin who snapped the well maintained KATHERINE with her tall elevated bridge in Port Weller, WEEKS 2901 was carrying 2 Seimens H-class gas turbines which would eventually be installed at the Hickory Run Energy Center in New Castle, Pennsylvania, approximately 45 miles northwest of Pittsburgh.
Cargo delivered, the hardworking tandem were pushing there way past Chimney Island and an osprey with a much better bird's eye view than me, eagerly making their way to home to Jersey City, New Jersey where they have since arrived.
I actually never did get a snap of the FEDERAL BALTIC. I was hoping to get her and the KATHERINE duo meeting each other near Crossover Island, the point where the shipping channel crosses over from the American side to the Canadian side of the St. Lawrence, but when I got to my vantage point at Butternut Bay, my view was covered over with green foliage. What more can I say other than, "better luck πŸ€ next time" πŸ˜€ 

If anyone else has photos of the KATHERINE or WEEKS 2901, send them my way and I'll include them right here πŸ‘‰


  1. Great blog Carl. Did u ever hear anymore of the tug and barge we saw on the St Clair river?

  2. Yes, Kirby I have a friend that met the captain and crew in Chicago. They had stopped there to lower the mast before the tug & barge could continue up the Calumet River where many bridges did not raise to the final destination, Lemont, Illinois with the two boilers on the barge. The boilers were built in St. Catharines. Another lucky find to write about someday soon.