View From The Ship
M/V HONORABLE JAMES L. OBERSTAR ON A PELLET RUN 32
Source: Great Lakes Seaway Review – Volume 48 – Number 3 – January-March
The most common view of vessels sailing the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Seaway is from the shore. But sailing shows both the beauty and economic impact of these vessels. Here is an excerpt of Paul C. LaMarre III’s recent pellet run. Thanks to my friends at The Interlake Steamship Company, I was able to take a shipboard retreat on the M/V Honorable James L. Oberstar, or the “Honorable,” as she is sometimes called. This fine ship’s existence is a floating testament to an age of industrial beauty when man and steel united in a form that can only be described as “iron elegance.” The pride with which she was built is apparent in the care she continues to receive today. Boarding during the final hours of October 12, the glowing lights of AK Steel illuminate the Oberstar as she unloads taconite pellets onto the same dock Henry Ford constructed for receiving similar shipments at the turn of the century. Holds emptied, she heads out the winding Rouge River at daybreak under the command of Captain Joseph C. Ruch, on one of the final voyages of his 30-year sailing career. Heading north past industrial Detroit, across Lake St. Clair, toward Lake Huron and the St. Clair River, Honorable is at home, echoing each shoreside wave with a master’s solute. All’s quiet as she plies the blue water expanse of Lake Huron. When the sun peeks through the clouds October 14 following a morning storm, Detour Reed Light passes port side, marking entrance to the St. Marys River. Sliding past mission point where shipwatchers abound, we turn for the locks where the 806-foot ship raises 21 feet. Within a short time, we were passing Gros Cap Reef Light and entering the “Big Lake.” Squalling weather breaks to a rainbow. Soon the moon is lighting our way to Marquette, where we’ll load the next 31,000 tons of iron ore pellets and depart for the downbound return to offload what will make the steel that helps build our toasters, cars, offices and parking decks. While my personal holds are filled for another year, a picture is worth a thousand words. May these images provoke the inspiration that keeps your engine turning.
Paul C. LaMarre III, Port Director, Port of Monroe