Great Lakes Seaway REview - 2000

Articles from Great Lakes/Seaway Review

  • January/March 1999
  • July/September 1998


January/March 1999

Great Lakes Seaway Review - Ship Building/1999

Self-unloading barge under construction

With displacement of over 46,000 tons. Great lakes Trader will be the 16th largest bulk carrier on the Lakes.

Principal characteristics of Great Lakes Trader

  • Length, overall, molded: 740'
  • Length, waterline: 740'
  • Beam, molded: 78'
  • Depth, main deck at side, molded: 45'
  • Depth, scantling, molded: 30'
  • Draft, keel (DWL): 27'-6"
  • Displacement, total at DWL: 40,922 tons
  • Cargo, deadweight at DWL: 34,157 tons
  • Accommodations: None
  • Auxillary power: 7 CAT 3406 diesel engines
  • Unloading boom length: 265'

The largest bulk carrier to be built for the Great Lakes in almost two decades has been ordered from a Mississippi shipyard.

Halter Marine Group, Inc. of Gulfport, Miss. has signed a contract with Great Lakes Marine Leasing, LLC, to build a 740-foot self-loading dry bulk cargo barge. The barge, to be named Great Lakes Trader, will be operated by VanEnkevort Tug and Barge of Escanaba, Mich.

The firm is headed by Clyde VanEnkevort of Bark River, Mich., a specialist in integrated tug/barge design who also operates the tug/barge Olive L. Moore/McKee Sons under the Upper Lakes Barge Lines Inc. corporate flag.

The new barge will be paired with VanEnkevort’s 135-foot, 10,200 HP, twin screw tug, Joyce L. VanEnkevort which was built at Bay Shipbuilding in 1997 and has been paired with Interlake’s converted self-unloading barge Pathinder (former laker J.L. Mauthe). That will change later this year when Interlake Steampship Co. links its own newly-built tug with Pathfinder.

Because the Halter yard is not equipped to launch a hull as large as Great Lakes Trader, the unit will be built and launched in two halves at Halter’s Gulf Coast Fabrication, Inc. in Pearlington, Miss. The two halves will then be towed to New Orleans where they will be joined in Halter Gulf Repair’s large floating drydock. Final outfitting will be completed at Halter Gulf Repair by VanEnkevort.

His desire to perform much of the construction work with his own personnel—and Halter’s willingness to accommodate him—was a major factor in VanEnkevort’s awarding the contract to the Gulf Coast shipbuilder.

“We talked to yards in the Great Lakes but they required that all the work be done by their people,” said VanEnkevort, who has taken a hands-on approach to all his vessel conversion and construction projects. The cost difference between Great Lakes shipyards and Halter was initially very small, he said.

At 740 feet overall lenght with a 78-foot beam and 45-foot depth, Great Lakes Trader will be the largest vessel ever constructed by Halter and the maximum width permitted through the St. Lawrence Seaway, which she will transit when delivered in the spring of 2000.

Said John Dane III, chairman, president and CEO of Halter Marine Group, Inc., “We are proud to have been selected to build this very large vessel, not just because of her record size for Halter, but because it is another indication of our versatility and ability to build vessels for a wide variety of uses and markets.”

Halter is one of the largest shipbuilding and repair concerns in the U.S. with 26 domestic productions facilities, fiver international ventures and a work force of more than 8,200. Halter has built other vessels involved in Great Lakes trades, including the tug portion of the integrated tug/barge Presque Isle, and the tug Jacklyn M. which is paired with the Lafarge cement carrying barge Integrity.

Great Lakes Trader will have a deadweight capacity of 38,200 long tons at a maximum draft of 30 feet in fresh water. Only 15 vessels on the Great Lakes will have a larger capacity, noted Joseph P. Fischer of Bay Engineering, Inc. of Sturgeon Bay which designed both the barge and the tug which will be coupled to her.

Available for Jones Act service in the iron ore, stone and coal trades, Great Lakes Trader will feature a single, continuous hold/elevator conveyor belt an a 265-foot boom conveyor with a discharge rate of 6,000 tons per hour.

She will operate with the tug Joyce L. VanEnkevort as a dual mode, integrated tug/barge (ITB) with an articulated connection system devloped by Clyde VanEnkevort. When coupled in the push mode, the combined unit will be 844 feet 10 inches in lenght and displace 46,290 long tons.

Great Lakes Trader will be classed Maltese Cross A1, Circle E for Great Lakes service by the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS), will have ABS Register of Cargo Gear and will be fully inspected by the U.S. Coast Guard.


July/September 1998

Blazing the trail in integrated tug/barges

Clyde VanEnkevort has been instrumental in the development of a new generation of tug/barges on the Great Lakes

A knack for mechanical tinkering, a shrewd business sense and an enterprising spirit have made Clyde VanEnkevort one of the leader in integrated tug/barge activity on the Great Lakes.

VanEnkevort, of Bark River Michigan, first sailed on the Lakes in 1968 as a tug engineer out of Escanaba. In 1975 he and his partner John Stropich formed Upper Lakes Towing Co. and in 1989 the firm acquired the bulker Joseph H. Thompson and converted her into an integrated tug/barge. In 1991 another retired U.S. bulk carrier, the self-unloader McKee Sons, underwent a similar conversion.

Since then, VanEnkevort established his own firm, Upper Lakes Barge Lines Inc., which owns and operates the McKee Sons, paired with the tug Olive L. Moore.

In 1997 VanEnkevort built a new tug designed specifically for an articulated tug/barge application. The hull was fabricated at Bay Shipbuilding and the rest of the work was done by VanEnkevort in Escanaba.

The Joyce VanEnkevort, a 10,200 HP twin screw tug, incorporated a new type of barge connector utilizing transverse-mounted hydraulic rams. That tug is now paired with the self-unloading barge Pathfinder (which was converted by Interlake Steamship Co. from its retired straight decker J.L Mauthe) and the duo is operated by another VanEnkevort firm, VM Shipping.

VanEnkevort installed a similar connector unit on the converted naval tug Undaunted, which propels the self-unloading barge Pere Marquette 41, recently converted by the Lake Michigan Carferry Co. from the former carferry City of Midland.Great Lakes Seaway Review - Towing/Barging - 1998

In a recent interview, VanEnkevort talked with Great Lakes/Seaway Review Editor David L. Knight about tug/barge technology and its current and future role in the Great Lakes dry bulk trades.

Great Lakes/Seaway Review: Was the concept of using a hydraulic ram as a barge connector your own idea?
VanEnkevort: A Japanese outfit had developed it before. We took the concept and customized it for our use. What we are doing is a little bit different but the same principle. The Joyce VanEnkevort was the very first one on the Great Lakes.

Great Lakes/Seaway Review: Have you ever had any formal marine design training?
VanEnkevort: Not really. But I was always mechanically inclined and always had new ideas.

Great Lakes/Seaway Review: The only new cargo capacity added to the U.S. fleet on the Great Lakes since the early 1980s have been tug/barges. Do you think anyone will build self-propelled ships on the Lakes again?
VanEnkevort: It's hard to say, but it sounds like everybody is talking tug/barge. American Steamship just bought the American Gulf V, Oglebay Norton has been talking about tug/barging. Everybody is talking about it.

Great Lakes/Seaway Review: So most of the barge units added on the Lakes have been made of surplus laker hulls. What happens when the supply runs out?
VanEnkevort: There are only two U.S. straight deckers left to convert: the John Sherwin, which is laid up in Duluth, and the Edward L. Ryerson, which is still operating. There is also the L.E. Block sitting in Escanaba but, for our needs, she is too small. The money is in size.

Great Lakes/Seaway Review: What is the ideal size for a tug/barge?
VanEnkevort: I think 730 feet would be the biggest. I would not build one any bigger than that. McKee Sons is 586 feet without the tug and we can go many places where a lot of other boats cannot.

Great Lakes/Seaway Review: With few existing hulls left to convert, what would the cost range be for a completely new-built tug/barge?
VanEnkevort: Our tug Joyce VanEnkevort cost us $9 million to build and we built it a couple of millions cheaper than anyone else could have. A barge that we would want to put with that would cost about $25 million.

Great Lakes/Seaway Review: Is that still cheaper than a new self-propelled self-unloader?
VanEnkevort: Actually you could build a self-unloader cheaper. All the things you would put into a tug, also normally goes into a ship. Where you would saves is in not having to build a separate hull for the tug. So the ship could be built cheaper.

Great Lakes/Seaway Review: But the tug/barge would pay off in operating costs because of the much lower crewing requirements.
VanEnkevort: Essentially, yes.

Great Lakes/Seaway Review: How do the two modes compare in fuel efficiency?
VanEnkevort: There is extra drag between the tug and barge, compared to a ship, so the fuel economy is not quite as good.

Great Lakes/Seaway Review: Will increased automation figure prominently in future tug/barge design?
VanEnkevort: I don't really believe in too much automation on a barge. I'm more the mechanical type. If there is not a clear savings in labor, why automate?

Great Lakes/Seaway Review: How do you assess the business climate in the Great Lakes bulk trades right now?
VanEnkevort: I think it is really good. There are always a lot of pessimistic people, particularly the ones who have gotten caught in downturns before, like the 1979-82 period. But I see an increase in cargoes right along, not a real speedy one, but a gradual increase. It looks to me like there are opportunities in all the dry bulk markets; they all look healthy. We are getting calls all the time.

Great Lakes/Seaway Review: Are railroads competing more aggressively, such as for direct rail movements of iron ore?
VanEnkevort: They are trying very hard. We have a real aggressive one right here in Wisconsin Central. But how much do the steel companies want all that traffic in their yard?

Great Lakes/Seaway Review: What's your next project?
VanEnkevort: I'd like to build our own barge, but it's just so expensive to get set up to do it. You need something to launch them with. It is just too costly to get geared up for a project like that.

Great Lakes/Seaway Review: What else are thinking about for the future?
VanEnkevort: I'm 74 years old and I should be thinking of retiring. But I'm not sure I would enjoy that. The people who were dissatisfied with their work are very happy to retire. But the people who love their work and then retire are always sorry they did.