We are winding the clock back this week to take a look at a veteran Laker. SS Alpena was built in 1942 for the Pittsburgh Steamship Company and remains in service on the Great Lakes today. She is employed in moving cement from the Lafarge Corporation plant in Alpena, Michigan to a number of Great Lakes’ ports, including Milwaukee, Green Bay, Chicago, Muskegon, Detroit, St. Joseph, Cleveland, and Buffalo. She makes makes about 100 trips a year, arriving in Duluth-Superior about once a month.
Built by Great Lakes Engineering Works, Ecorse, MI, USA
Owned and managed by Inland Lakes Management, Grand Rapids, MI, USA
GRT 8018 tons
DWT 19,414 MT
Propulsion: 4,000 HP steam turbine
Speed 13 knots
Home port Cleveland, Ohio
Former Name: Leon Fraser until 1991
As the Leon Fraser, Alpena was laid up in Lorain, Ohio, in 1982, and remained there until 1989. She was sold to Inland Lakes Management in 1990 and re-named Alpena in 1991 before being shortened by 36m at the Fraser Shipyard in Superior as part of a full converion into a bulk cement carrier. In service she carries around 13,50 tons of cement in her 7 holds. In December 2015, a major fire in the aft end of this vessel caused by aging wiring, while in drydock at Bay Shipbuilding Co., Sturgeon Bay, Wis., could have seen this classic Laker emerging as razor blades but despite her advanced age, the decision was made to repair her and return her to service. You have to wonder if this will be extended to the installation of an expensive ballast water treatment system when the Ballast Water Management Convention comes into force in September 2017, albeit with some wriggle room given the uncertainties created by the delay in the U.S. issuing type approvals to treatment systems.
The vessel’s namesake, Mr. Leon Fraser, was born in Boston in 1889 and was admitted to the New York Bar Association in 1914. After holding a number of distinguished positions in the business world he retired in 1937 as Vice President of the First National Bank of New York. Mr. Fraser was a director of United States Steel (Pittsburgh Steamship's parent company) when the vessel was initially christened in his honor at the peak of World War II.
Incorporated in 1871, the City of Alpena overlooks Lake Huron's Thunder Bay. The city’s wood, cement, and heavy machinery industries stemmed from a long industrial heritage that started with logging in the 1800s.
See the video of Alpena in service: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j8JKUvr4HbI
Ship of the Week contributed by Captain Stephen Brown, West Pacific Marine Ltd.