Monday, January 9, 2017

Saginaw River 2016 Year End Season Report

Saginaw River 2016 Shipping Season Wrap-Up

After an increase in commercial vessel passages on the Saginaw River during the 2015 season, there was optimism that we would again see an increase in commercial traffic for the 2016 season.   That optimism however, never became a reality, with numbers coming in more like the dismal 2014 season.  The following is a look back at what took place along the banks of the Saginaw River during this past year:

The 2016 shipping season officially started on March 19th, with the arrival of the tug Samuel de Champlain and her cement barge, Innovation.  This was the second year in a row that the pair called on the Lafarge Cement dock in Essexville to start the season, this time, starting the season twenty one days earlier than the 2015 season opener.  The 2016 season came to a close on December 18th, when the American Integrity, departed the Consumers Energy dock in Essexville.  This was five days sooner than the 2015 close, for a season lasting 274 days.  For 2016, there were a total of 113 commercial vessel passages.  That is 19 fewer than the previous season.  These passages were made by 28 different vessels, representing fourteen different companies, an increase of one more unique vessel and one more company as compared to the 2015 numbers.

Looking at some of the other statistics from the 2016 season, there were 14 docks receiving cargos this season. While this number was unchanged from last year, the docks receiving product however, did change, as the GM Dock in Saginaw, received two cargos, after not receiving any in 2015.  The North Star Fertilizer Dock in Essexville did not receive any deliveries by boat in 2016, after receiving two in 2015.  The dock seeing the most traffic in 2016 was the Wirt Stone Dock in Bay City, seeing 25 vessel deliveries.  This was the same number of deliveries as in the 2015 season.  Coming in second was the Bay Aggregates Dock in Bay City, with 22 cargo deliveries, nine fewer than the previous season, and the Wirt Stone Dock in Saginaw coming in third, with 20 cargo deliveries. These three docks accounted for 47% of all vessel deliveries to the Saginaw River in 2016.  The top two docks, Bay Aggregates and Bay City Wirt, have now been the two busiest docks for the past five years running.  In all, accounting for split cargos by some vessels that unloaded at two different docks on the same visit, there were 143 deliveries to the various docks along the Saginaw River.  This is 19 fewer actual dock deliveries than in 2015.

For the tenth year in a row, the tug Olive L. Moore, paired with the self-unloading barge Lewis J. Kuber, made the most trips to the Saginaw River, logging 25 visits.  This is a huge decrease from 2015, when the pair made 55 trips to the river.  The vessel with the second most trips to the Saginaw River, logging 18 trips, and cutting into the total of the Moore-Kuber due to a new contract acquisition, is Interlake Steamship Company’s tug Dorothy Ann, paired with the self-unloading barge Pathfinder. The top two were followed by Manitowoc, with 6 passages and then the Alpena and the Herbert C. Jackson with 5 visits each.

Lower Lakes Towing/Grand River Navigation, as they have for many years now, logged the most visits by a fleet in 2016, with 44 vessel passages.  This was 19 fewer than 2015, but was still good enough for the tenth year in a row for LLT/GRN in the #1 position, accounting for 39% of the vessel passages on the Saginaw River.  The next busiest fleet was the Interlake Steamship Company with 23 vessel passages, and then in third was American Steamship Company with 16 passages. These three companies accounted for 73% of all deliveries on the Saginaw River in 2016.

There were a number of vessels that were visitors to the Saginaw River in 2015, that did not make a delivery here in 2016, with those vessels being American Courage, American Mariner, Buffalo, Indiana Harbor, Sam Laud, Manistee, Harbour Fountain, Larsholmen, and Chem Norma.  The list of boats that were not visitors in 2015, but visited the Saginaw River in 2016 were:  John J. Boland, Sjard, Dorothy Ann – Pathfinder, Calumet, Defiance – Ashtabula, Robert S. Pierson, Saginaw, Harbour Fashion, Happy Ranger, and Floretgracht.  The Floretgracht, Happy Ranger, and Sjard made their first ever deliveries to the Saginaw River in 2016.  The tugs Manitou and Kimberly Anne were also visitors. The USCG Cutter Hollyhock made visits to work aids to navigation in the Saginaw River Entrance Channel, and the tug Gregory J. Busch, who calls the Saginaw River home, was also up and down the river numerous times.

There were a few notable stories during 2016.   Crews from Dean Marine & Excavating worked out in the Saginaw Bay, west of the Saginaw River Front Range, dredging the Kawkawlin River Entrance Channel.  As mentioned earlier, neither the North Star Dock in Essexville, nor the Bit-Mat dock in Bay City received any cargo deliveries by water this season.  Another exciting story of note was the arrival of wind turbine components and blades, brought in to the Port Fisher Dock in Bay City, by foreign flagged cargo ships.  Port Fisher also received turbine components and blades by rail as well.  Finally, the tall ship festival returned to the Saginaw River in 2016, with the following vessels taking part: Pride of Baltimore II, Denis Sullivan, US Brig Niagara, El Galleon Andalucía, Draken Harald Harfagre, Madeline, Mist of Avalon, Pathfinder, Playfair, When and If, Appledore IV, and Appledore V.

The upcoming 2017 season will hopefully be a safe and profitable one for everyone involved. As I write this, ice is just now taking a firm hold on the Saginaw River and Saginaw Bay.  Hopefully we will see all of our regular vessels again during the upcoming season, as well as some new boats, or boats that have not visited in some time.  We will also see if there is any maintenance dredging to be done on the Saginaw River this season.

Here is wishing everyone a safe and prosperous shipping season in 2017!