Interlake Steamship Company has ordered a self-unloading, U.S.-flag bulk carrier from Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding in Sturgeon Bay, Wis., which is owned by the Italian shipbuilding giant Fincantieri.
The two companies believe it is the first new U.S.-flag bulk carrier built for the Great Lakes trade in more than 35 years.
The new 28,000 deadweight ton-capacity ship will transport raw materials to support manufacturing throughout the Great Lakes region.
"This ship will be a new addition to our fleet and once underway in 2022, will give us a versatile fleet of 10 active vessels," said Mark W. Barker, the president of Interlake.
The company said it is a "river class" vessel, terminology generally used to indicate that ship less than 700 feet in length that can call ports and terminals on the many rivers that feed into the Great Lakes. The company did not specify where the new ship would trade, but examples of rivers feeding into the Great Lakes include the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland; Black River in Lorain, Ohio; Maumee River in Toledo, Saginaw in Saginaw, Michigan; and Calumet River in Chicago.
The ship would be small enough to pass through the locks in the St. Lawrence Seaway.
The ship is scheduled for completion in mid-2022.
The company said it will have “a unique cargo hold arrangement and cargo hatch covers designed for maximum cubic space and the ability to handle difficult cargoes.”
The ship will be powered with two diesel-electric engines and have a flap rudder and bow and stern thrusters so that it is highly maneuverable.
Interlake, headquartered in Middleburg Heights, Ohio, said it transports about 20 million tons of raw materials annually and has the largest privately held U.S.-flag fleet on the Great Lakes, with nine vessels carrying bulk cargoes ranging in size up to 68,000 dwt.
Interlake did not say how much the new ship will cost. It said in the past Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding has repowered four of its ships, installed exhaust gas scrubber on five ships and performed regular maintenance and regulatory dry dockings of its ships. As the new ship will ultra low sulfur fuel, it will not have a scrubber.
According to the Lake Carriers Association, U.S.-flag vessels carried about 84 million tons of cargo on the Great Lakes, including 45.8 million tons of iron ore, 22 million tons of limestone and 11.8 million tons of coal. Other major cargoes transported on the lakes include cement and stone used for construction and salt for deicing roads and highways.