Thursday, December 31, 2009

Season Wrap-Up

The poor economy is to blame for making 2009 probably the most forgettable season in the history of the port of Erie. The season saw only 18 stone deliveries to the port, down from 22 in 2008, 43 in 2007 and 41 in 2006. The season saw a total of 36 commercial vessels visit the port (excluding passenger vessels and Coast Guard vessels), which is down from 46 in 2008, 63 in 2007, and 56 in 2006. These commercial visits included vessels arriving with cargo, to wait weather, or arriving for repairs.

Among other cargoes, the number of salt deliveries to the port (four) remained the same as in 2008, due to the harsh winter conditions generally expected in the Erie region. This was up from three in 2007 and two in 2006. Sand deliveries to Presque Isle for beach replenishment totaled three in 2009, up from two in 2007 and 2008, but down from four in 2006.

Biodiesel shipments from the port fell from seven in 2008 to only two this season. Likewise, miscellaneous cargoes (machinery, paper products, etc.) fell from three in 2008 to two in 2009.

The once-familiar black, silver and red bands of the stacks of American Steamship Company vessels became a rarer and rarer sight in the port of Erie in 2009, replaced by the Indian-headed grey and black funnels of Lower Lakes Towing and its affiliate Grand River Navigation, which logged 14 visits to the port in 2009. For the second year in a row Lower Lakes led the port in visits, having logged 13 visits in 2008, a total which narrowly nudged out American Steamship’s 12. American Steamship tied with K&K Integrated Shipping for second place in number of visits this year with only five.

K&K Integrated Shipping’s tug and barge VICTORY/JAMES L. KUBER was the leading visitor to the port of Erie in 2009, with five visits. The KUBER’s five visits equal the total the vessel made to the port in 2006 as the steamer RESERVE, and are the most since its conversion to a barge in 2008. The CALUMET and MANISTEE tied for second place with four. In 2008, the CALUMET led the port with four visits. In 2006 and 2007 the leading visitor was the AMERICAN COURAGE with seven visits per year.

First time visitors to the port of Erie this year included the ROBERT S. PIERSON, SEDNA DESGAGNES, HARBOUR CLOUD, and CLIPPER LOYALTY. The next expected vessel traffic to the port will be the winter layup arrivals of the PRESQUE ISLE and EDGAR B. SPEER in mid-January.

Coming tomorrow: a look back at the top stories of 2009 and a look ahead to 2010.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Lakeshore Towing Finishes Dredging; Announcing Donjon Shipbuilding and Repair; Notes on Donjon Marine; Miscellaneous News and Notes

Lakeshore Towing Services completed dredging of the Old Ore Dock on Friday. Although the job was not complete ice is beginning to form in the harbor and is making it impractical to continue to dredge. However, the company was able to get quite a bit of dredging done.

The Old Ore Dock will likely have to be dredged every few years, as ships docking there stir up sediment with their propellers and that sediment is deposited along the east side of the dock, where ships dock to unload. With more sediment deposited there ships must load less cargo to dock there, and dredging is a cheaper alternative to getting more ships into the dock.

Donjon Marine has announced the formation of their new shipyard, Donjon Shipbuilding and Repair (DSR). DSR has purchased the assets of Erie Shipbuilding and is working under a new long-term lease with the Erie Western-Pennsylvania Port Authority to establish a shipbuilding and ship repair facility at the yard. No word as to yet as to what their first projects will be, or what will become of the tug CLYDE VANENKEVORT and barge ERIE TRADER that were under construction at the yard. Rumors floating around were that the tug would be finished and go to the ocean to push an oil barge, but I'm not sure if that will happen.

Longtime readers of the Erie Shipping News will recall that Donjon is the largest customer Erie Shipbuilding ever had, with their order for a dumpscow (WITTE 4003) and five deck barges (WITTE 1401, WITTE 1402, WITTE 1403, WITTE 1404, and WITTE 1405). In addition, their then-subsidiary Port Albany Ventures ordered several other deck barges. Less than a month ago Donjon sold their 1/2 interest in PAV to their partner. I'm not sure if that was related to their purchase of ESB, but sources tell me that Donjon is extremely serious about making the shipyard the best facility possible. The only disadvantage DSR will have is that the facility only has about 4,000 feet of dock space, some of which is falling apart, particularly on the east side of the property adjacent to the Old Ore Dock.

Donjon also operates a full-service marine operation that includes towing and salvage.

In other harbor news and notes, EDGAR B. SPEER and PRESQUE ISLE should be arriving in Erie sometime after the first of the year for winter layup. PRESQUE ISLE will, as usual, be going to the Mountfort Terminal where the cofferdam will be installed on the vessel to allow for replacement of the ever-problematic shaft seals.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Donjon Marine, owners of Erie-built WITTE 4003 and several deck barges built here, signed a long-term lease with the Port Authority today to take over the former Erie Shipbuilding property. All of the company's employees will hopefully be back to work sometime in the near future.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Dredging Begins at Old Ore Dock

Lakeshore Towing Services began dredging work at the Old Ore Dock yesterday, marking the second time since 2007 that the slip has been dredged. The Old Ore Dock silts badly as ships use their propellers when approaching the dock, which stirs up sediment on the bottom and deposits it along the east side of the slip.

Dredging is supposed to be completed by the end of December. Weather, however, may delay that, and is expected to shut crews down for the rest of the week.

I will post photos of today's activities later today.

Photo caption.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Historical: December 6

On this date in Erie shipping history:

1985- Erie Sand's CONSUMERS POWER lays up in Erie for the last time. In May 1988 the vessel is towed overseas for scrapping.