Every year, around the time the Soo Lucks close on January 15, the vessels that make up the U.S. and Canadian Great Lakes fleets, with a few exceptions, lay up for the winter and their crews head home to their families for a well-deserved vacation. At this time, scores of shoreside personnel go to work. Led in Erie by Great Lakes Electrical Services and Erie Sand & Gravel, and supported by various outside contractors, these firms are tasked with completing repairs and upgrades to the vessels before they begin the new season about ten weeks after laying up.
This winter, Great Lakes Electrical Services and Erie Sand & Gravel have a long list of projects worth several hundred thousand dollars to be performed on the ROGER BLOUGH and PRESQUE ISLE while they spend the winter in Erie.
On the BLOUGH, these include engine room piping and electrical repairs, overhauling a generator and installing a rewound generator, repairs to the ECPINS navigation system and other pilothouse electronics, flooring repairs in the crew quarters, and ballast valve upgrades.
On the PRESQUE ISLE, overhauls of both the starboard engine and a generator, and various other engine room work are the main tasks scheduled for the winter. In addition, repairs to the ship's unloading system and conveyors are on the agenda, as long as a great deal of ballast tank steel replacement. The steel replacement is the reason the tug and barge were separated this winter; their separation allows the normal winter ballast to be pumped from the barge to allow the work inside the ballast tanks.
Yearly work to keep the vessels in compliance with U.S. Coast Guard and American Bureau of Shipping regulations is also scheduled for both the BLOUGH and PRESQUE ISLE.
In other harbor news, Erie Shipbuilding LLC remains closed as the company works to secure financing to continue construction on a new 135' tug and 740' self-unloading barge they are in the process of building. I have received confirmation through several sources that the new tug is scheduled to be named CLYDE VANENKEVORT, after the father of shipyard President Dirk S. VanEnkevort. Tentatively, the new barge, being constructed for VanEnkevort Tug & Barge subsidiary Erie Trader LLC, is scheduled to be named ERIE TRADER. The unit, when complete, will be utilized primarily to haul stone to and from various Great Lakes ports for LaFarge North America on a long-term contract.
ROGER BLOUGH at dock on Sunday.