Thursday, March 25, 2010

Saginaw River Passage - March 25th

The USCGC Hollyhock got underway from the Consumers Energy dock Thursday morning and headed out to the Saginaw River Entrance Channel. She worked throughout the day commissioning summer markers and then departed the area Thursday evening.

Saginaw River Docks - Wirt Stone Dock Bay City

The final dock on the lower Saginaw River,before the long, twisting, trip upriver to Zilwaukee, is the Wirt Stone Dock. Located just above the Independence bridge in Bay City, it is one of the biggest and busiest docks on the Saginaw River. Last year, there were 36 cargo's dropped on the dock there. Back in 2005 when the economy was a little better, there were 51 cargo's delivered.

The dock is serviced by vessels from Lower Lakes, K&K, and Algoma primarily, with the odd load thrown in here and there from another company. Bay City Wirt sees a lot of partial unloads as a number of vessels drop part of their cargo in Bay City, before heading upriver to finish unloading at the Wirt Stone dock in Saginaw. This was especially true when water levels were down and the river was in desperate need of dredging.

Coming soon: Docks of the upper Saginaw River......

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Saginaw River Passage - March 24th

The USCG Cutter Hollyhock transited the Saginaw Bay on Wednesday, arriving at the Consumers Energy dock around 7:15 Wednesday evening. This is the first vessel to call on the Saginaw River for 2010.

Saginaw River Docks - Blueknight Energy Partners Dock

Jutting out into the river, next to the North Star dock in Essexville, is a small dock with a pipeline for offloading tank barges. This is the Blueknight Energy Partners dock and the pipeline runs to its nearby tank farm.

Blueknight Energy dock

This used to be known a few years back as the Triple Clean Liquifuels dock. More recently as the SEM Materials dock, and over the winter becoming Blueknight Energy.

Karen Andrie and her barge unloading at SEM in 2009

Primarily serviced by tag and barges from Andrie and before they went out of business, Hannah Marine, This dock had 2 deliveries during the 2009 season. On average, there are usually four to six deliveries during a shipping season. Back in better times, it was not uncommon for the dock to receive deliveries during the off season, with help from an icebreaker, much to the dismay of the local ice fishermen. In 2005 Triple Clean had 15 deliveries.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Saginaw River Docks - North Star Dock

Just upstream from Wirt Sand and Stone in Essexville and sharing the same dock space is the North Star fertilizer dock. Mainly serviced by boats from Algoma or Upper Lakes, the large covered domes here hold potash delivered through unloading holes at the top of the structures.

In 2009, there were two deliveries to North Star. This is down from the average of five per season. The boats are able to turn off the dock here in what is known as the Essexville turning basin. It is positioned between the North Star and Sand & Stone docks and across from the Dow Chemical dock.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Saginaw River Docks - Essexville Wirt Sand & Stone

Crossing back across the river and into Essexville is Wirt's Essexville Sand and Stone dock. Directly across the river from the Dow Chemical Dock. Sand & Stone has not seen much traffic the past few years. Usually averaging between 5 to 8 cargo's per season, there were no deliveries here in 2009.

This dock is basically for extra product or a special product not normally carried at the Bay City or Saginaw Wirt docks.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Saginaw River Docks - Dow Chemical Dock

Staying on the Bangor Township side of the river, adjoining the property at Bit-Mat, is the Dow Chemical dock. There is not much traffic at the Dow dock these days. Just the occational tug/tank barge delivering Calcium Chloride.

In past years, tugs from the Hannah Marine would be the ones making the deliveries, but with Hannah now being out of business, the tug Zeus and tank barge Robert F. Deegan get the call. The pair made all seven deliveries to Dow Chamical in 2009.

Tug Zeus and barge Robert F. Deegan unloading at Dow Chemincal in 2009.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Saginaw River Docks - Bay Aggregates Dock

Sharing the slip with Bit-Mat and located in Bangor Township, the Bay Aggregates dock is one of the busiest docks on the Saginaw River. Also known as the Port Fisher dock by some Captains, there were 29 deliveries there in 2009. This is down from 2008 when there were 38.

Herbert C. Jackson stuck across the opening of the Bay Aggregates slip

Bay Aggregates is serviced primarily by American Steamship Company vessels, with trips in also by Interlake Steamship and Lower Lakes, and K&K.

View of the Bay Aggregates dock from the entrance gate

This is a long slip with vessels unloading on either side. Entering and exiting the slip is tricky, especially when there is a strong current flowing in the river. The slip is a sharp starboard turn when inbound from the lake. In 2009, the Herbert C. Jackson grounded while trying to enter the slip due to strong currents.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Saginaw River Docks - Bit-Mat Dock

Directly across the river from the Essroc and Lafarge docks in Essexville is the Bit-Mat dock, which sets in Bangor Township. A subsidiary of British Petroleum, the Bit-Mat dock is a liquid asphalt facility. Serviced primarily by tug/barge units form Andrie, the offloading pipe is located at the mouth of the Bay Aggregates slip. Occasionally, there is some shifting around if a freighter has to enter or exit the Bay Agg. slip.

Last season, there were only 3 deliveries to the dock as compared to 10 and 16 in the years prior.

Note the silver offloading pipeling running the length of the dock

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Saginaw River Docks - Lafarge Essexville Dock

Sitting next to the Essroc dock in Essexville is the Lafarge Stone dock. Up until a few months ago, this dock had been known as the Sargent Essexville dock. Now under new ownership, it will be interesting to see if there are any changes in cargo's, vessels and amount of material moved through this dock.

With a somewhat shallow water level just off the dock, the freighters who unload here put their wires out, pull themselves up against the mud and keep pulling closer as the vessel gets lighter and rides higher in the water.

Another interesting note about this dock; it was created back in 1990 after the M/V Jupiter exploded on the Saginaw River and blocked the shipping channel. With the river closed, the Sargent docks in Saginaw could not get any product, so they started using this relatively small piece of land to be able to receive product.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Saginaw River Docks - Essroc Cement Dock

The next dock up the Saginaw River is the Essroc Cement dock in Essexville. This dock is unique with its two large concrete domes which clinker is offloaded into and the tall cement powder silos. It is located right at the Essexville range lights and the first turn in the river, a sharp bend to the west heading towards Bay City.

Close up of the cement unloading/storage domes

Essroc has a short dock, long enough for one vessel to unload into the domes. Serviced by the Canada Steamship Lines vessels, CSL Tadoussac and Frontenac, primarily with clinker from Picton, on occasion, a ground pile of aggregate is delivered by vessels from other fleets.

Wide view of the Essroc facility, March 2010

In 2009, there were only three deliveries to the Essroc dock. All by the Frontenac. This was way down from the average of around 17 vessel deliveries per year.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Saginaw River Docks - Consumers Energy

The first dock incoming vessels see is the Consumers Energy dock in Essexville. Located just off the Front Range of the Saginaw River, it is the longest dock on the river at over a half mile long. This dock was rebuilt and lengthened just over a year ago making it the newest along the river.

Walter J McCarthy unloading at Consumers with the Joyce L. - Great Lakes Trader passing outbound

The Consumers dock is serviced mainly by American Steamship Company footers delivering coal, but on occasion, equipment for the power plant is delivered by tug and barge. In 2009, there were 21 deliveries to the dock which is about average. in 2007 there were a total of 46 deliveries by a variety of vessels both large and small. This was due to problems with a shoreside unloader for the trains that also bring coal to the plant, forcing more deliveries by water to make up the difference.

Consumers Energy Dock as seen March 2010

There are plans in the works to add another coal-fired generating plant to the site in the near future. If this takes place, it would almost surly increase vessel traffic to the Consumers Energy dock.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Docks of the Saginaw River

Hi everyone,

With the start of the shipping season coming soon, I thought I would do a series on the various docks located along the Saginaw River. Hopefully, it will give you a little better knowledge of the docks and the products traded here on the Saginaw River.

Look for it starting tomorrow with the first commercial dock on the Saginaw, the Consumers Energy dock in Essexville.