Thursday, January 22, 2009


I have received word that Erie Shipbuilding, due to problems stemming from obtaining funding to continue building the new tug-barge unit the company is building, has laid off its entire work force. Reports are that the layoff is only planned to be for two weeks.

I will update as I learn more.

Sunday, January 18, 2009


After long delays over the past several days, the ROGER BLOUGH and PRESQUE ISLE encountered one more delay last night when the Great Lakes Ice Center decided to change Coast Guard cutters and dispatch USCG NEAH BAY to Erie instead of the Canadian Coast Guard Ship GRIFFON, which stayed near Southeast Shoal to break ice for the upbound ALGOEAST.

NEAH BAY arrived on scene at 0300 this morning, but due to inclement weather, decided to wait until daybreak to begin breaking open Erie harbor for the BLOUGH and PRESQUE ISLE.

The NEAH BAY got underway at 0730 this morning bound for Erie harbor, and was inbound through the piers by 0800. Shortly behind her was the ice-covered ROGER BLOUGH, which proceeded through the channel churning its propeller to clear the channel for the PRESQUE ISLE. By 0920 the ROGER BLOUGH was in Presque Isle Bay with the NEAH BAY standing by as the BLOUGH attempted to turn and back into the Old Ore Dock. At this time the PRESQUE ISLE raised his anchor and proceeded inbound on a slow bell to allow the BLOUGH to finish his manouever in Erie harbor before proceeding to the Mountfort Terminal.

With the BLOUGH unable to complete his turn to back into the Old Ore Dock, the vessel proceeded to back about 1000 feet in the harbor in order to use its propeller wash to flush ice away from the Mountfort Terminal. By 0930, the Mountfort Terminal was about 60% clear of ice and the BLOUGH began turning to pull into the Old Ore Dock.

At 0943, the BLOUGH thanked the NEAH BAY, with the captain telling the NEAH BAY he couldn't have gotten in without his assistance. The NEAH BAY proceeded to call the PRESQUE ISLE and let him know they'd be clear of the harbor before the PRESQUE ISLE, then about 4 miles out, got into the harbor.

At 1008, the PRESQUE ISLE called the NEAH BAY and thanked them for their assistance, and told them they'd see the NEAH BAY in the spring. The master on the PRESQUE ISLE quickly retracted that statement: "I take that back. I don't want to see you in the Spring. I want the ice gone."

By 1013 hours, the ROGER BLOUGH was at the end of the Old Ore Dock and became stuck. The NEAH BAY had not broken out the slip because the policy of Operation Coal Shovel, the operation group that the NEAH BAY is part of, is that slips are an opportunity for commercial icebreaking assistance. Unfortunately, with no commercial icebreaking assistance available in Erie, the BLOUGH had to request the NEAH BAY return to Erie and break open the Old Ore Dock.

The NEAH BAY returned to Erie at 1100 and began using the bubbler system installed on the icebreaking tug to break the ice and flush it from the slip. This manouever was complete by 1110 and the NEAH BAY moved to allow the BLOUGH into his dock. The BLOUGH was all secured for the winter by 1130 hours.

As this was going on, the PRESQUE ISLE was inbound and proceeded to the Mountfort Terminal. The vessel moved forward and backed along the length of the dock to flush the ice free before securing. PRESQUE ISLE was secured for the winter by 1230 this afternoon.

NEAH BAY inbound.

The NEAH BAY made quick work of the ice that was between 8 and 12 inches thick in spots.

Stern view.

BLOUGH enters the channel. This is only the third time the BLOUGH has ever been to Erie.

Another view.

Close up.

Stern view of the unique BLOUGH. At 858 feet long the BLOUGH is the 14th-longest vessel on the Great Lakes.

Close up of the stern of the BLOUGH, churning water in the channel. Note the opening in the stern. This is the BLOUGH's 54-foot long unloading boom, capable of unloading at only three docks on the Great Lakes--the one at the Gary, Indiana U.S. Steel mill, the one at Burns Harbor, Indiana and at Conneaut, Ohio.

Stern view.

Stopped in the channel, waiting for the NEAH BAY to finish icebreaking operations.

NEAH BAY standing by in Erie harbor.

BLOUGH backing in Erie harbor.

Turning for the Old Ore Dock.

BLOUGH approaching the Old Ore Dock.

NEAH BAY passes the BLOUGH on its way out of Erie Harbor.

NEAH BAY departs.

Another view.

Bow-on showing the 105-foot beam of the BLOUGH.

Bow-on showing the 105-foot beam of the BLOUGH.

Stuck fast at 1015.

NEAH BAY returns to Erie to break out the BLOUGH.

NEAH BAY works in Erie harbor.

Alongside the BLOUGH.

Another view.


Coming forward into the Old Ore Dock.


Backing around to clear the BLOUGH.

Another view.

Making one more pass at the Old Ore Dock.


Another view.

Passing the lighthouse.

Close up.

Icy bow.

Close up of the tug.

Stern view.

Coming ahead in order to back along the dock and flush ice.

BLOUGH heads into the Old Ore Dock as the PRESQUE ISLE backs for the Mountfort Terminal.

Another view. Note the large number of onlookers in the parking lot, due to the large amount of publicity their arrivals have generated in the Erie Times News, local TV stations, and on this website.

All secure.

Saturday, January 17, 2009


This afternoon the Great Lakes Ice Coordination Center cancelled the GRIFFON's trip to Erie. The ROGER BLOUGH and PRESQUE ISLE remain at anchor off of Erie. U.S. Coast Guard cutter NEAH BAY is getting underway from Detroit and is due at Southeast Shoal at 1900 tonight, and should be arriving in Erie at around dawn tomorrow to escort the two into the port.

ROGER BLOUGH in Conneaut on Friday, awaiting the departure of the PRESQUE ISLE.

Stuck in ice this morning.

The view from the peninsula.


This morning the ROGER BLOUGH attempted to enter Erie harbor at 0600, and became stuck near buoys 1 and 2. The vessel was pushed by the ice and wind to the north of the red buoys before the BLOUGH finally slid off the ice and dropped anchor.

The BLOUGH and PRESQUE ISLE both are now at anchor right off of Erie harbor awaiting the Canadian Coast Guard ship GRIFFON, which departed its base in Amherstburg, Ontario this morning bound for Erie to break the harbor open. The GRIFFON was due at Southeast Shoal at 1300 and should arrive in Erie sometime late tonight to assist the two vessels.

Photos will follow later today.

Friday, January 16, 2009


ROGER BLOUGH and PRESQUE ISLE are both now scheduled into Erie at around 0730 on Saturday morning. PRESQUE ISLE will enter Erie harbor first to break ice and will dock at the Mountfort Terminal. ROGER BLOUGH will then proceed inbound and dock at the Old Ore Dock.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


Both ROGER BLOUGH and PRESQUE ISLE have been delayed, and will both depart Conneaut on Friday morning. BLOUGH is now expected sometime Friday afternoon, with the PRESQUE ISLE due in Erie late Friday evening or early Saturday morning.

I will update throughout the day on Friday as I learn more information.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


ROGER BLOUGH, as of this afternoon, was waiting to unload at Conneaut and should be getting out sometime late tonight or early tomorrow morning. This will put the BLOUGH in Erie during the morning hours on Thursday. PRESQUE ISLE will take the unloading dock from the BLOUGH and will arrive in Erie sometime during the morning on Friday.


ROGER BLOUGH arrived in Conneaut ahead of schedule at around 0700 this morning. Barring any breakdowns or delays, this should put the BLOUGH out of Conneaut sometime this evening. After cleaning out her holds in the lake, she'll probably arrive in the middle of the night tonight.

PRESQUE ISLE, meanwhile, should anchor off of Conneaut sometime around noon today and will take the unloading dock once the ROGER BLOUGH departs. This should, if the schedule holds, put the PRESQUE ISLE in Erie during daylight on Thursday afternoon.

Stay tuned to Erie Shipping News throughout the day today for updates.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


The latest update on the PRESQUE ISLE and ROGER BLOUGH has changed their schedules dramatically. After being more than 15 hours behind the PRESQUE ISLE, the BLOUGH, by using an alternate route down the St. Mary's River, passed the PRESQUE ISLE and is now about four hours ahead of the vessel.

The BLOUGH is expected to arrive in Conneaut at 0800 on Wednesday, and is expected in Erie during the morning hours on Thursday. The PRESQUE ISLE will arrive off Conneaut at noon on Wednesday, and after waiting for the BLOUGH to finish unloading will arrive in Erie during the afternoon on Thursday. All times are ice and weather permitting.

One of the projects scheduled for the PRESQUE ISLE this winter will involve separating the tug and barge. The last time this was done in Erie was during the winter of 2005-06.

Tug PRESQUE ISLE returns to Erie to pick up its barge after undergoing its six-year survey at Port Weller Dry Dock in St. Catherines, Ontario. The date is July 31, 2005.

PRESQUE ISLE is shown while separated from its barge on March 21, 2006. Two days later the vessel departed from Erie on its first trip. Note the oil boom around the tug.

Dockside view on March 21, 2006.

Another view.

With the barge.

Monday, January 12, 2009


The latest update on the ROGER BLOUGH and PRESQUE ISLE that both of the vessels spent time today trapped in ice in the St. Mary's River. Now that they are underway, however, the BLOUGH is apparently ahead of the PRESQUE ISLE and both should arrive in Conneaut on the 14th and in Erie sometime on Thursday. However, these times are subject to change and very likely will.

Sunday, January 11, 2009


PRESQUE ISLE is currently downbound and expected in Conneaut at around 0900 on Tuesday to unload. Behind her by about 15 hours is the ROGER BLOUGH, due in Conneaut at 0030 on Wednesday. After unloading, the BLOUGH, due to the fact that she will be mooring at the Old Ore Dock, will then sail for Erie, where it is expected sometime on the afternoon or in the evening on Wednesday. PRESQUE ISLE will follow the BLOUGH into Erie harbor and lay up at the Mountfort Terminal.

All of these times right now are subject to change, and more than likely will change before the vessels arrive for the winter.

Thursday, January 8, 2009


PRESQUE ISLE is now due in Two Harbors tomorrow morning, and if loading goes as scheduled should arrive in Conneaut at 2100 hours on Monday, January 12. That would put the vessel in Erie sometime on Tuesday. ROGER BLOUGH is expected to arrive in Two Harbors tomorrow at 1600, and will load after the PRESQUE ISLE, which would put the vessel in Conneaut around 0800 on Tuesday, January 13 and in Erie late that day or early on the 14th.

However, these times are subject to change due to ice, and also frozen ore delaying loadings in Two Harbors.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


Both the PRESQUE ISLE and ROGER BLOUGH are upbound on their last trips of the season before laying up in Erie for the winter. As of today the BLOUGH is ahead of the PRESQUE ISLE and due in Two Harbors, MN to load on the 9th at 1500. The PRESQUE ISLE is due later that evening; both are loading for Conneaut, which puts them there late on the 12th or early on the 13th, and in Erie late that day or on January 14.

I will continue to update they vessels' progress toward their winter layup in Erie.

Saturday, January 3, 2009


Both the PRESQUE ISLE and her 858-foot long fleetmate ROGER BLOUGH are scheduled to arrive within the next two weeks for winter layup in Erie harbor. The PRESQUE ISLE will layup at the Mountfort Terminal, where the cofferdam will be installed to facilitate work underneath the tug, and the ROGER BLOUGH will tie up at the Old Ore Dock.