Newest Ship on the Great Lakes makes first Monroe call

Monroe, MI – The M/V Mark W. Barker, the newest ship on the Great Lakes, visited the Port of Monroe for the first time this past week.

The ship loaded a cargo of synthetic gypsum at the turning basin dock for delivery to Port Colborne, Ontario.

While moored at the Turning basin dock, the newest ship sailing the Great Lakes shared dock space with the oldest operating vessel on the inland seas. The Great Lakes Towing Tug Georgia dates all the way back to 1897 and is still active out of Monroe providing ship assistance and ice breaking services.

The Barker was built at Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, and entered service earlier this year. It is the first Great Lakes bulk carrier to be built on the Great Lakes in over 35 years, and is the first new vessel in Interlake’s fleet since 1981.

The Barker has a square-shaped, flat-bottomed cargo hold instead of a traditional V-shaped angled bottom found on most self-unloaders. The ship also has five large hydraulically controlled stackable MacGregor hatches that offer enhanced flexibility with project cargoes and expedite loading operations.

This combination of larger hatch openings and additional cargo hold space will allow the Barker to handle traditional bulk cargoes on the Great Lakes, as well as breakbulk cargoes like wind tower components.

“Any time a vessel of the Interlake Steamship Co. calls upon the Port, it is special. In this case, it is historic,” said Capt. Paul C. LaMarre III, Port Director, Port of Monroe. “Interlake’s continued support of our growth and cargo diversification has made them a major piece of the Port’s living Great Lakes legacy.”

The Mark W. Barker is named after Interlake’s current President and second-generation leader of the family owned and operated Interlake Steamship fleet.

More on the Mark W. Barker here:

Port of Monroe and partners strengthen Great Lakes short sea shipping network

Port of Monroe and partners strengthen Great Lakes short-sea-shipping network

MONROE, MI – The Port of Monroe (Port) recently commissioned a new Manitowoc crawler crane. Its first job was to load approximately 400 tons of special bar quality (SBQ) steel onto Interlake Steamship Company’s M/V Paul R. Tregurtha, the largest ship sailing the Great Lakes.

The crane was purchased with funds through the U.S. Maritime Administration’s Marine Highway program. MARAD designated the Port of Monroe as part of Marine Highway Route M-90 in 2016. As a Marine Highway, the Port and its stakeholders are committed to developing and expanding marine highway service options in the United States to expand the use of America’s navigable waterways.

This latest cargo evolution is a perfect example of how the Port is working with its industry partners and local stakeholders to create new short-sea-shipping opportunities on the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Seaway system.

“Every ton counts. Though small by volume, the enormity of this cargo evolution rivals anything that the Port has done in the last decade,” said Capt. Paul C. LaMarre, Port Director, Port of Monroe. “This trial cargo is the epitome of U. S. flagged, short sea shipping on the Great Lakes.”

The Port’s industrial partner and neighbor Gerdau Special Steel was looking for the most economical way to move SBQ manufactured in Monroe to their grinding ball mill in Duluth, Minnesota. The SBQ is used as a feedstock to manufacture grinding balls used in the mining industry.

The Tregurtha, one of the Port’s most frequent visitors, was identified as the perfect vessel to move the SBQ as it is on a dedicated route between Monroe and the twin ports of Duluth/Superior. The cargo was efficiently transported on an all-marine route, through the Soo Locks, saving at least 13,000 highway miles and 275 driving hours in truck resources on America’s congested roadways.

The port’s diversity will continue to grow through collective stakeholder efforts, a new heavy-lift crane and continued use of congestion-free Great Lakes marine highway routes.

2022 Shipping Season

Watch this page for updates on the 2022 shipping season at the Port of Monroe!

2021 Shipping Season

During the 2021 Shipping season, the Port of Monroe saw significant cargo increases in steel coils onboard McKeil Marine vessels. The Port also worked with Interlake Steamship Company to move bottom ash and synthetic gypsum to beneficial reuse markets onboard the tug/barge Undaunted/Pere Marquette 41 & motor vessel Herbert C. Jackson.

2020 Shipping Season

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the Port of Monroe’s facilities stayed busy in 2020, buoyed by inbound wind tower components carried by the Happy River of BigLift. The towers were staged at the Port with other wind energy components and transported up to mid-Michigan for a large renewable energy project. The Calumet made a late season trip amid a snowy backdrop to take on a load of bottom ash.

2019 Shipping Season

In the spring, the Port had three vessels occupying each of the Port’s active docks. McKeil Marine’s Gagliarda (sailing the lakes now as Blair McKeil) ended its maiden voyage into the Great Lakes at the Port of Monroe. In the fall, the Port of Monroe facilitated a direct ship-to-rail transfer with the heavy lift vessel Happy Ranger of BigLift discharging a 350-ton generator stator to a specialized railcar positioned on a new rail spur that had been completed over the summer. The Happy Ranger then shifted over to the riverfront dock and loaded a full cargo of wind tower components for delivery to Peru.

2018 Shipping Season

The season got off to a quick start when the motor vessel Mississagi called on the Port of Monroe for emergency repairs. The new Riverfront dock saw frequent use with several steel coil cargoes inbound and bulk cargoes outbound. The Port welcomed the foreign-flagged tanker Iver Bright on its maiden trip into the Great Lakes later in the season.

2017 Shipping Season

The 2017 season saw a significant increase in international cargo. Construction began on a new dock face along the riverfront to handle additional vessel activity for the growing port.

2016 Shipping Season

The highlight of the season was the Port of Monroe’s handling of a unique cargo, crushed refractory brick. The material was loaded aboard the Herbert C. Jackson and taken to Alpena, Michigan for use in the cement making process.