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Tag Archives: Superior Harbor

Every winter I try to drive around and photograph the ships that are spending winter layup in Duluth. This year there are seven ships that will be spending the winter in Duluth. They will remain in port until about the third week in March when the tugs will start freeing them from the winter ice. Most of them will undergo some maintenance work. This year the Herbert C. Jackson will spend six months in Fraser Shipyards where it will be repowered with state-of-the-art diesel engines.

Edwin H. Gott At Port Terminal

Edwin H. Gott At Port Terminal

 

Philip R. Clarke At Port Terminal

Philip R. Clarke At Port Terminal

 

Paul-R.-Tregurtha-At-Midwest-Energy

Paul R. Tregurtha At Midwest Energy

 

Indiana-Harbor-At-Embridge Docks

Indiana Harbor At Embridge Docks

 

-Herbert-C-Jackson-At-Fraser-Shipyards

Herbert C Jackson At Fraser Shipyards

 

American-Century-At-Port-Terminal

American Century At Port Terminal

As I mentioned in my previous blog we drove over to Bayfield, Wisconsin to watch the Apostle Islands Sled Dog Races. When we left the race it was raining but by the time we reached Superior, Wisconsin the sun was peeking out.

Northern Pacific Ore Dock-No. 1

Northern Pacific Ore Dock-No. 1

We stopped at the Kwik Trip in Superior to get gas I noticed the light was shining on one of the abandon Iron ore docks. There were folks fishing out along the dock so I figured it was a good chance to walk out and get some photos. I had been wanting to photograph the docs but didn’t have a way to get close to them until the ice formed.

Northern Pacific Ore Dock-No. 1

Northern Pacific Ore Dock-No. 1

Apparently the docks are in the process of being removed. There was a crane working alongside the docks.

GN-BN Allouez Ore Docks

GN-BN Allouez Ore Docks

One of the fishermen I talked to said they were going to make a marina out of the area. There were a number of boats stored on shore and under the docks. At one point I noticed a car driving along inside the docks so they must be massive.

Northern Pacific Ore Dock-No. 1

Northern Pacific Ore Dock-No. 1

As we were leaving Duluth I notice on my Marine Tracker that the Indiana Harbor going to come through Wisconsin Point on its way to winter Layup. It was one of the last ships to enter the harbor during the 2014-15 shipping season and the last one to come through the Wisconsin Entry.

Indiana-Harbor-Wisconsin-Point-15-1-_1782

Ironically I was at Wisconsin Point to see the first ship of the season enter the harbor through the Wisconsin Entry. That was the Coast Guard Cutter Alder shown here as it returned from its first ice breaking run. We were on our way back to Duluth from a visit to the Apostle Islands Ice Caves when we noticed the Alder was returning to Superior.

Coast Guard Cutter Alder

Coast Guard Cutter Alder

It was a really gloomy day when the Indiana Harbor came through the entry. It rained as we drove out to Wisconsin Point. Fortunately it quit while we were waiting for the Indiana Harbor to arrive. I suspect the crew was happy to be done for what turned out to be a long season fighting the ice.

Indiana-Harbor-Wisconsin-Point-15-1-_1831

As usual there were quite a few boat nerds out taking photos of the ship as it came in. I’m on a first name basis with some of them since I see them frequently when I’m out photographing around Duluth/Superior.

Indiana-Harbor-Wisconsin-Point-15-1-_1851

The great lakes shipping season will start again in late March.

One of the main activities in Duluth, Minnesota is ship watching in Canal Park. Duluth is the cargo capital of the great lakes with over 1,000 ship visits every year. Ship watching usually starts the end of March and runs through January of the next year. Peak times are in the summer months when Canal Park is loaded with tourists. Unfortunately there are not always ships entering or leaving the harbor so without good planning you may not see many ships.

CSL Laurentine

CSL Laurentine

The first place I always check when planning a trip to Duluth is the Duluth Shipping News website. This provides a ship schedule which lists ships that are expected to arrive and depart from Duluth and Superior harbors as well as the harbors along the north shore. It also provides an approximate time when the ships will arrive and depart and a hot link to additional information on the ship. Unfortunately the times given are in “ship time” which means they may or may not depart around the times given or even on the day given. Never the less you can get a good idea of expected ship activity for a given time period.

Indiana Harbor

Indiana Harbor

The Shipping News also provides information on any special activities that are taking place. This includes the arrival or departure of a special ship or maybe ice breaking activities taking place in the harbor. It also provides historical information on all of the ships that enter the harbor.

Edgar B. Speer

Edgar B. Speer

As I mentioned this is always the first place I check when planning a trip. Unfortunately the times given for the ships are not always accurate so once I arrive in Duluth I then start following ships on MarineTraffic.com. This website uses AIS (Automatic Identification System) data to track ships around the world. This is the first shipping season that it has tracked ships in the Duluth Superior area.

Cason J. Callaway

Cason J. Callaway

When you initially connect to the site you will encounter a world map of shipping. All you need to do is to zoom into Lake Superior. Once you start watching shipping in the Duluth area you are ready to go. The next time you enter the site it will automatically open to the last location you were looking at.

Biscayne Bay

Biscayne Bay

The ships are identified by various types and colors of icons. The icons differ depending on whether or not the ship is moving. When you click on the icon a window will pop up that provides you with the flag of the ship, photo of the ship, ship type, its status, speed, destination and estimated time of arrival in UTC time.

US-Coast-Guard-cutter-Mackinaw-

US Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw

You can also click on a link that shows the vessel’s track. This link shows where the ship has been over a given period of time. When you are finished looking at the track just right click and the track will disappear. Usually what I’m interested in is where the ship is going and how long it will take it to arrive. To do this click on the distance too.. link. A waypoint balloon will appear on the map. Click on the destination and a second balloon will appear. For example if you were tracking the American Spirit and wanted to know how long before it arrived in Duluth click on the distance too… link and then click a second time on Duluth. When the second balloon appears it will tell you approximately how long will take the ship to arrive in Duluth at its current speed. A right click will clear the map.

Rt. Hon. Paul J. Martin

Rt. Hon. Paul J. Martin

If you really get into things you can add ships to your fleet and track you fleet. You can also get notification of vessel arrival and departures etc.

Arthur M. Anderson

Arthur M. Anderson

In addition to the web base site Marine Traffic also has an app for phones that allows you to track the status of ships. It provides much of the same information that the web site does. It is very useful if you are out and about and want to track ships.

Tug/barge Spartan and Spartan II

Tug/barge Spartan and Spartan II

Up until this year the only site that tracked marine traffic in the Duluth/Superior area was AIS/Marine Information from Thunder Bay. I still use this site occasionally. Sometimes I know a ship is in a particular location and the Marine Traffic website is not picking it up and it shows up on the Thunder Bay site. The Thunder Bay site does not provide as much information particularly it does not display the destination and the ETA. I end up using the Duluth Shipping News to see where the ship is headed and then follow its progress on the Thunder Bay site.

Mesabi Miner

Mesabi Miner

Following the ships will be even more interesting this year because the tall ships will be coming to Duluth the end of July. All of the tall ships have tracking devices on them so you will be able to follow them as they arrive, sail and depart from Duluth. This photo of the Niagara was taken a few years ago when it visited Duluth.

U.S. Brig Niagara

U.S. Brig Niagara

Even with the AIS tracking available things don’t always go according to plan. When shipping season opened this year I was tracking the Mesabi Miner as it steamed toward Duluth. It was supposed to be the first ship to arrive for the season. There were a number of photographers in Canal Park to observe the arrival. As the ship neared the canal entrance it moved off to the south. Word spread that it was heading for the Superior entrance and they all jumped in their cars and took off. A little while later I heard it drop anchor. It turned out that another ship was already docked where it was going to dock so it had to anchor until that ship departed. In retrospect I could have probably figured this out if I had looked a little more closely at the ships that were already in the harbor and check the Duluth Shipping News to see which dock the Mesabi Miner was going to use.

Mesabi Miner

Mesabi Miner

A little later in the season I observed the Federal Kamano which arrived around the end of April and anchored out in the harbor. Apparently there were some problems with its papers and it wasn’t until a month later entered port to pick up grain. I happened to be in Duluth when it arrived and again when it was going to depart. I normally check the Marine Traffic site the first thing in the morning to see if any ships are arriving or departing. Fortunately I live close enough to Canal Park so I can just walk down to the ship canal if I see activity. On this day I noticed that the Kamano had departed from the dock and was heading out to Lake Superior. There was a lot of fog that morning and when I arrived at the ship canal the tracker indicated the ship was steaming down the harbor toward the ship canal. It never showed up. the next time I looked at the tracker the ship was anchored out in the harbor. Apparently the fog was too thick for it to leave the harbor.

Federal Kumano

Federal Kumano

Late in the spring I was tracking a ship as it came under the Blatnik Bridge heading for the ship canal. I grabbed my camera gear and headed down to Canal Park. The ship never came out. I noticed a ship at the fueling docks but could see the name. I later checked the Duluth Shipping News which noted the ship intended to leave the docks and then stop for fuel before leaving Duluth. If I had checked the Duluth Shipping News I would have know that. A couple of hours later the ship finally went out of the harbor.

James R. Barker

James R. Barker

It is also possible to listen into the Duluth Harbor Marine broadcasts. I’ve not had a lot of success with this probably because there is not that much marine traffic. A complete listing of radio channels can be found at this link. the information was provided by the Duluth Marine Museum. Probably the biggest day for marine radio traffic was April 13 of this year. Because of a big storm there were fourteen ships either in port of anchored outside the harbor. When the storm finally lifted all of the ships were jockeying for position to either leave the harbor or get into the harbor. There was a lot of marine broadcast traffic during that time and some of the captains were a little upset. There is no harbor master in Duluth so the ships had to work out who was going to go first etc. between themselves.