Friday, January 31, 2014

Photo of the Day - January 31, 2014

Taken during the 2002 season, this photo shows the Wilfred Sykes sliding in behind the unloading Maumee at the Wirt Stone dock in Bay City.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Photo of the Day - January 30, 2014

I took this photo of the JAW Iglehart and EM Ford at the Lafarge Cement Terminal in Carrollton during the 2002 season.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Photo of the Day - January 29, 2014

I took this photo of the Joseph H. Frantz upbound on the Saginaw River during the 2003 season.  She is seen here wearing the Steinbrenner/Kinsman colors on her stack.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Saginaw River 2013 Season - Year in Review

Well, better late than never.  I have finally completed the 2013 season review for the Saginaw River.  Enjoy!  I will begin posting classic Saginaw River Photos during this cold off-season soon, so remember to check back!

Saginaw River 2013 Shipping Season Wrap-Up

As I always do, I began the 2013 shipping season hoping to see an increase in vessel passages and number of cargos being delivered to the Saginaw River.  I long to see the downward trend recorded over the past six years reversed.  So, it was encouraging to see that downward spiral finally stopped in 2013.  Not only did it stop, but the numbers improved slightly over the previous season.  The following is a look back at what took place along the banks of the Saginaw River during this past season.

The 2013 shipping season officially started on April 16th, with the arrival of the tug Spartan and her tank barge, Spartan II, calling on the Dow Chemical Dock in Bay City.  The start to the season was 14 days later than the 2012 open.  The 2013 season came to a close when the tug Samuel de Champlain and her cement barge, Innovation, departed the Lafarge Cement Terminal in Essexville on December 19th, five days later than the 2012 close.  For the year, there were a total of 139 commercial vessel passages, by 33 different vessels, for a season lasting 249 days. These numbers represent an INCREASE in vessel passages, though not by many, over the previous season. During the 2012 season, there were five fewer vessel passages, from eleven fewer boats, with the 2012 season actually lasting nine days longer.

Looking at some of the other statistics from the 2013 season, 16 different docks along the Saginaw River saw cargo deliveries. This has remained the same for the past four seasons.  The difference in 2013 was the start of product deliveries to the Port Fisher Fertilizer Dock in Bay City and the elimination of deliveries to the Lafarge Cement Terminal in Carrollton. The dock that saw the most traffic in 2013 was the Bay Aggregates Dock in Bay City, seeing 31 vessel deliveries.  This was up by seven from the previous year. Coming in second was the Wirt Stone Dock in Bay City, with 27 cargo deliveries, an increase of four from last years total of 23. The third place dock was the Wirt Stone Dock in Saginaw, with 19 deliveries. These three docks combined accounted for 45% of the vessel deliveries to the Saginaw River in 2013.  The top three in 2012 were the Wirt Stone Dock in Bay City, Bay Aggregates Dock, and The Consumers Energy Dock in Essexville.  In all, accounting for split cargos by some vessels that unloaded at two different docks, there were 172 deliveries to the various docks along the Saginaw River.

The workhorse of the Saginaw River, without question, continues to be the tug Olive L. Moore, paired with the self-unloading barge Lewis J. Kuber. This pair made 48 trips to the river, two fewer trips than they made in 2012, and 30 more than the next highest visitor, Manitowoc, who had 10. Third place went to the Calumet, who logged 9 passages.  The top three were all Lower Lakes Transportation Company vessels.  The Indiana Harbor was next with 7 passages and the Alpena, Mississagi, and the tug Defiance-barge Ashtabula all came in with 5 passages each.  This is the seventh year in a row that the Olive L. Moore – Lewis J. Kuber have had the most passages.  Over this seven year period, they have visited the Saginaw River a total of 284 times!

Again in 2013 Lower Lakes Towing/Grand River Navigation blew all of the other fleets out of the water when it came to total visits by a fleet, logging 82 vessel passages. This was the seventh year in a row for LLT/GRN in the #1 position. With twelve more deliveries in 2013 than in 2012, they accounted for 59% of the vessel passages on the Saginaw River.  The next busiest fleet was the American Steamship Company with 22 passages, and then in third was Lafarge North America Inc., managed by Andrie Inc. with 6. These three companies accounted for a whopping 79% of all deliveries on the Saginaw River in 2013.

There were a few vessels that were seen on the Saginaw River in 2012, that did not make a return visit in 2013, namely the American Mariner, Stephen B. Roman, and the tugs Barbara Andrie, and Colonel.  The list of boats that were not visitors in 2012, but made a return to the Saginaw River in 2013 was much longer:  American Courage, Buffalo, Sam Laud, Alpena, Cuyahoga, Michipicoten, Saginaw, and Undaunted – Pere Marquette 41.  Four vessels made their first ever deliveries to the Saginaw River: Elevit, Sloman Hermes, Thalassa Desgagnes and the tug Defiance pushing the self unloading barge, Ashtabula.  The tugs Mary E. Hannah and Champion were also visitors. The USCG Cutter Hollyhock also made her traditional spring and fall visits to work aids to navigation in the Saginaw River Entrance Channel and she did some icebreaking for the Alpena as well.  The USCG Cutter Bristol Bay made a late season visit, breaking ice for the Samuel de Champlain – Innovation.  The US Army Corp. of Engineers tug, Demolen, and barge, Veler, worked a project near the Essexville Turning Basin, while the G-Tugs Superior and Wyoming safely assisted the Algoway out of the Saginaw River during a time of very high river current during the spring.

There were a number of other notable stories during 2013. One of the biggest was the return of the Tall Ship Festival to Bay City.  Eleven of the majestic sailing vessels made their way to the Saginaw River, arriving on July 11th.  Luedtke Engineering crews continued maintenance dredging of the Saginaw River shipping channel, and Fisher Companies opened the Port Fisher Fertilizer dock to vessel deliveries of liquid Ammonium Nitrate. These cargos were brought in by foreign flagged, saltwater vessels.  The USS Edson made the move from her temporary dock in Essexville, at the Wirt Sand and Stone dock, to her new, permanent home just below the Independence Bridge in Bay City, and finally, the tug Manitou made a dead ship tow of the Lower Lakes Towing vessel, Saginaw, to her namesake river.  Saginaw was brought to the Bay Aggregates dock for repairs needed before continuing her trip to Buffalo to unload grain.

Hopefully, the momentum gained in 2013 will continue into 2014, bringing increased traffic and more product to the docks along the banks of the Saginaw River. Since 2005, when there were 347 vessel passages that season, the number of passages has steadily decreased every year, down to the low of 134 recorded in 2012. The 2013 season thankfully showed the first positive numbers since then.

Here is wishing everyone a safe and prosperous shipping season in 2014!

Disclaimer: The information contained in the report is 99.9% accurate and error free, but there is always the possibility there may have been a vessel or dock delivery missed, as tracking vessels for the entire season is not an easy or exact science.  Thank you for taking the time to read this year end report.  I will see everyone again in 2014 for my tenth season of logging commercial vessel movements on the Saginaw River.

Thanks for your support,

Todd A. Shorkey

Saginaw River Images