Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding has cut steel on a new 639'x78' Great Lakes bulk carrier for The Interlake Steamship Co., Middleburg Heights, Ohio.
A ceremony was held at the Sturgeon Bay, Wis., shipyard Wednesday celebrating the start of construction on the first new U.S.-flagged Great Lakes bulk carrier to be built in more than 35 years.
After careful preparation by Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding’s blast and prime team, its fabrication team prepped and then cut the steel with automated precision within the shipyard’s largest fabrication building in Sturgeon Bay.
The new River-class, self-unloading bulk carrier is believed to be the first ship for U.S. Great Lakes service built on the Great Lakes since 1983. The bulk carrier will transport raw materials to support manufacturing throughout the Great Lakes region. Interlake Steamship, Bay Shipbuilding and Bay Engineering are jointly designing the bulk carrier, complete with advanced vessel and unloading systems automation.
Scheduled for completion in mid-2022, the carrier will be built by Bay Shipbuilding’s nearly 700 skilled trade workers and will generate business for partnering contractors, vendors and suppliers. Major partners for the project include the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS); Bay Engineering (BEI); EMD Engines; Caterpillar; EMS-Tech Inc.; Lufkin (a GE company) and MacGregor.
“The first cut of steel is a major milestone that signifies we, along with Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding, are ready to begin production on this historic project,” Interlake president Mark W. Barker said during the ceremony. “We are extremely proud to build our company’s first ship since 1981 on these freshwater shores with the hardworking women and men who help power our industry and with American-made steel from the iron ore we carry on our U.S.-flag fleet vessels. It’s a true Great Lakes success story.”
“Our workforce is very proud to begin construction on what will become a “homeport ship” so to speak,” said Bay Shipbuilding’s vice president and general manager Todd Thayse. “This large-scale bulk carrier will be built on the Great Lakes and operate right here on the Great Lakes, which creates a sense of local and regional pride. Today’s ceremony with Interlake was a great way to demonstrate how excited and appreciative we are for their continued confidence in the quality of our work.”
The first plate of steel used in the ceremony was sourced from ArcelorMittal’s Burns Harbor steelworks location. ArcelorMittal is the premiere steel provider for the project.
“ArcelorMittal is privileged to serve as a steel supplier for the newest bulk carrier on the Great Lakes,” said Gary Mohr, vice president of supply chain management at ArcelorMittal USA. “The expansion of Interlake’s fleet will further support water commerce and the movement of raw materials using the safest, most efficient and environmentally friendly method of transportation. The construction of a new bulk carrier is a great example of how the steelmaking process comes full circle.”