Fincantieri’s Sturgeon Bay shipyard in Wisconsin (credit: Fincantieri).Fincantieri’s Sturgeon Bay shipyard in Wisconsin (credit: Fincantieri).

Reckoned to be the first ship for Great Lakes trade built on the Great Lakes since 1983, keel-laying for Interlake Steamship Company’s 28,000dwt self-unloading bulk carrier took place on 23 June at Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, writes David Tinsley.

Scheduled for completion by Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding in mid-2022, the start of the assembly process for the new-generation Laker followed nine months of engineering and prefabrication of the 195m bulker’s modular section.

As the Mark W.Barker, the vessel will transport raw materials such as salt, iron ore and stone to support industry throughout the Great Lakes region, with additional capability for project shipments, heavy and outsized items of freight.

The design has been jointly developed by the owner and builder in cooperation with technical consultancy Bay Engineering, and incorporates a self-unloading boom conveyor about 76m in length pivoted forward, enabling cargo to be deposited directly ashore well beyond the quayline. The vessel will feature what is described as a unique hold arrangement and hatch covers conceived to achieve maximum cubic volume, plus ease and rapidity of cargo handling.

The configuration suits not only the gamut of regular business in bulk goods, but also other cargoes such as windmill towers, steel coils and slabs, and large pieces of machinery and plant.

The five hatchways are 16.5m wide by 24.4m long, and will be operated by one crew member. This arrangement differs markedly from typical Lakes of similar size, which have 16-18 hatches and a multitude of clamps requiring release and manual securing at every loading and discharge. From either of the unloading control rooms forward and aft, the operator will be able to control the large basket gates, conveyor belt speed, slew, raise and lower the discharge boom, and manage the ballast system.

The Mark W.Barker has been specified with home-grown two-stroke, medium-speed diesel power, in the shape of two 16-cylinder EMD710 engines. The combined output of around 5,800kW will be delivered through reduction gearbox to a single Kongsberg controllable pitch propeller of 5.5-metre diameter.

The 710-series from Electro-Motive Diesel (EMD), owned by the Caterpillar subsidiary Progress Rail Services, is an established design favoured for its acceleration and fast response performance. The machinery in this latest application is certified to both EPA Tier 4 and IMO Tier III emissions standards. The high degree of manoeuvrability and terminal access flexibility required is reflected in the use of a flap rudder and both bow and stern thrusters.

The ship’s electrical power requirements will be met by a single diesel genset of 940kW and two 2,500kW shaft generators, with a 274kW unit available for emergency duty.

The regional as well as national element to the Jones Act newbuild project chimes well with business and the wider community. Interlake elected to purchase American-produced steel from ArcelorMittal, using taconite pellets of US-mined ore transported by company ships from the Upper Lakes to the steel mill in Burns Harbor, Indiana. Domestic sourcing of major equipment included the Lufkin reduction gearing as well as main engines and ship service generator.

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