Friday, January 29, 2010

Navel Destroyer USS Edson Update

According to Freighter Frank's Great Lakes Marine Review, the USS Edson has been given approval by the US Navy to start the spring tow to her new home along the banks of the Saginaw River in Bay City Michigan. Moran Towing has the contract to tow her to Quebec and G-Tugs will pick her up from there and deliver her to Bay City. The departure date will be given in the spring.

More information to come when it becomes available.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

2009 Year End Saginaw River Report

Saginaw River 2009 Shipping Season Report

Another year of commercial shipping on the Saginaw River has come to a close and like last season, 2009 had many interesting stories. The effects of the economy once again had a very noticeable impact on the number of commercial deliveries on the Saginaw River. With a decreased demand for construction materials such as aggregates and concrete, fewer vessels called on Saginaw River docks this season than did in 2008. The shipping season began over three weeks later than the previous season with the first delivery not arriving until April 18th. Between the first boat on April 18th and the last boat on December 7th, there were 163 commercial vessel passages by 37 different boats. Compare that to 214 vessel passages in 2008, by 38 boats, and you see a decline of 51 commercial deliveries to local docks. Looking back further, you can see the trend has been continual over the past five years with the biggest difference being a decrease of 184 passages as compared to the 2005 season. The state of the economy did not play the only role in this decline however. Water levels on the Saginaw River continued to creep higher in 2009, resulting in the boats that did visit, being able to load a little deeper, carrying more tonnage in fewer trips. Also helping was dredging of the upper river that took place during the early months of 2009, with the spoils being deposited in the new confined disposal facility located on the Bay/Saginaw county line. Additional dredging of both the upper and lower sections of the Saginaw River is set to begin in 2010.

Looking at some of the other numbers from 2009, sixteen different commercial docks along the river saw cargo deliveries this season. Leading the way with 36 was the Wirt Stone Dock in Bay City, down three deliveries from 2008. The Wirt Stone Dock in Saginaw was next with 31 deliveries, up two from last year, followed by the Bay Aggregates dock in Bay City with 29 deliveries. The top five were rounded out by the Consumers Energy Dock in Essexville, and the Sargent Dock in Zilwaukee, each with 21.

Looking at the boats, leading the way for the fourth year in a row was the tug Olive L. Moore and her self unloading barge, Lewis J. Kuber. The pair logged 36 passages in 2009, down from 45 last year. Coming in next with 21 deliveries was the Calumet. The remainder of the top five was the Manitowoc with 16, and tied with 10 visits each were fleetmates Algoway and Agawa Canyon.

Turning to the fleets, the boats from Lower Lakes Towing and its subsidiary, Grand River Navigation had more passages than any other fleet for the third straight year. LLT/GRN logged 48 visits, fourteen fewer than last year. K&K Integrated Shipping was next with 40 passages, down 5 from 2008. Following with 21 visits each were both the American Steamship Company and Algoma Central Marine.

There were a number of boats who were regular visitors in past years that did not visit the Saginaw River in 2009. That list includes the CSL Tadoussac, James Norris, Cuyahoga, American Mariner, American Republic, Buffalo, John J. Boland, tugs Rebecca Lynn, James A. Hannah, Donald C. Hannah, Mark Hannah, Mary E. Hannah and the Ivory Coast Also absent in 2009 from her namesake river was the Saginaw. Making return visits in 2009 after not seeing the Saginaw River for a season or more were the Michipicoten, Walter J. McCarthy, Jr., Herbert C. Jackson, and the Joyce L. Van Enkevort/Great Lakes Trader. Some other seldom seen, infrequent, or new visitors to the Saginaw River were the tug Zeus, G-tug Superior, tugs Steven Selvick, John M. Selvick, and Krista S., and the tug Karen Andrie with the new tank barge, Endeavour.

Here are a few other interesting notes about the 2009 season: On July 5th, the Saginaw Bay received a rare visit by a saltwater vessel, the OXL Lotus. She arrived with equipment for the Consumers Energy dock in Essexville, but was loaded too deep to come into the river and make the dock. The tug Gregory J. Busch and her barge then began shuttling the cargo between the OXL Lotus and the dock until all the cargo was moved. The SCS Grey Fox made her annual 4th of July visit to help raise funds for the effort to bring the USS Edson to Bay City. It is looking more and more that this long in the works project will finally come to fruition in 2010. Some other visitors to the Saginaw River in 2009 were the USCG Cutter Hollyhock, and the tugs Manitou, Mohawk, and Fisher Hayden. Another big story was the lack of cargos for usually busy docks. The Essroc dock in Essexville only had 3 cargo deliveries in 2009, compared to 17 in 2008 and the Bit-Mat dock, which also received 3 deliveries in 2009, compared to over 20 only a few years before.

Here is wishing everyone a safe and prosperous shipping season in 2010!

The information contained in the report is as accurate and error free as possible, but is possible there may have been a vessel or dock delivery missed as tracking vessels for the entire season is not an exact science. Thank you for taking the time to read this year end report. I will see everyone again in 2010 for my sixth season of logging commercial vessel movements on the Saginaw River.

Thanks for you support,

Todd A. Shorkey