Sunday, April 8, 2012


Tug KEN BOOTHE SR. and barge LAKES CONTENDER will be christened in a ceremony at Donjon Shipbuilding and Repair on Tuesday afternoon, bringing to a close a nearly four-year long construction process that began when the tug was laid down for VanEnkevort Tug & Barge at the former Erie Shipbuilding facility in late 2008. The tug was laid down as CLYDE VanENKEVORT, named for Erie Shipbuilding owner Dirk VanEnkevort's father, one of the pioneers of the articulated tug-barge (ATB) trades on the Great Lakes. The tug was designed to push a 740' bulk barge to be named ERIE TRADER.

However, the economy collapsed and Erie Shipbuilding, quite simply, ran out of money to complete construction of $50 million duo for VanEnkevort's interests. The yard closed in late January 2009 and work on the duo stopped.

In December 2009 the Erie Western Pennsylvania Port Authority and Donjon Marine of Hillside, New Jersey announced Donjon's purchase of Erie Shipbuilding's assets, including the ATB under construction.

The tug was named KEN BOOTHE SR., after the former President of Donjon Shipbuilding and Repair after he died suddenly in June, 2010. The barge was originally known by Donjon as SEAJON ENTERPRISE, to honor the partnership between Donjon Marine and Seacor, with whom Donjon partnered in the shipyard.

Donjon made quick work of the tug, which was floated a year and a day (December 22, 2010) after Donjon's announcement of the purchase of Erie Shipbuilding. The tug was fitted out and sat idle at Donjon's yard awaiting her barge throughout 2011, though Donjon offered it on the spot charter market. Interlake Steamship looked at the tug to push its barge PATHFINDER this winter while their tug DOROTHY ANN was having work done at the Rolls-Royce Great Lakes Marine Service Center in Cleveland. In the end, Interlake decided to pass and laid both the DOROTHY ANN and barge PATHFINDER up for the winter.

The newly-named barge LAKES CONTENDER finally emerged from drydock on January 8, 2012 after being delayed a day for weather. Sea trials for KEN BOOTHE SR./LAKES CONTENDER were conducted on March 29, after being delayed a day for weather.

The following is a long, photographic look at the construction process of the tug and barge from initial construction to completion. Watch Erie Shipping News this week for coverage of the christening.

Tomorrow, I will post video of the tug KEN BOOTHE SR. when it went on sea trials in March, 2011.

The new tug, then named CLYDE VanENKEVORT, with construction halted in early 2009.

Another section of the tug.

CLYDE VanENKEVORT welded into the stern.

Looking forward.

The house and cabins of the tug.

KEN BOOTHE SR. floating in drydock on Saturday, September 18, 2010.

NEW YORK pulls the KEN BOOTHE SR out of drydock on December 22, 2010.

Releasing the tow line.

NEW YORK backs around the KEN BOOTHE SR.

KEN BOOTHE SR. is the first powered vessel to be built entirely in Erie. Although PRESQUE ISLE and the STEWART J. CORT were assembled here, they were not completely built here.

NEW YORK swings the BOOTHE around.

Stern-on view as the NEW YORK moves the tug.

Approaching the slip.

Nearing the dock.

Approaching the dock.

Pulling on the tug.

This 135-foot long, 10,700 horespower tug is a near-sister to the JOYCE L. VANENKEVORT.

NEW YORK pushes the BOOTHE into position.

Lowering a gangway onto the KEN BOOTHE SR.

KEN BOOTHE SR. behind the CASON J. CALLAWAY at Donjon on January 23, 2011. Note that the CALLAWAY had only arrived three days earlier and the ice was already stable enough to be walked on.

Another view.

With the CALLAWAY.

Close up.

Straight on.

Another view of the 10,700 horsepower tug.

BOOTHE SR. inbound after sea trials on Monday, March 21, 2011.

Another view of the new tug.

Outbound for its second day of sea trials on Tuesday, March 22, 2011.

Another view as the tug clears the channel.

BOOTHE returns later in the day.


Passing the Coast Guard Station.

KEN BOOTHE SR. has engines capable of producing 10,700 horsepower.

Stern view.

Passing another tug-barge unit assembled in Erie.

Approaching the West Slip.

Into the dock.

The tug's articulated pins have been retracted for now.


KEN BOOTHE SR. awaits the completion of its new barge in the West Slip on October 8, 2011.

Close up.

Stern view.

Approaching the West Slip with the new barge in tow on January 8, 2012.

APALACHEE works hard.

Straightening out.

Getting ready to approach the West Slip.

Inbound the West Slip.

Close up of the LAKES CONTENDER.

APALACHEE working to straighten the LAKES CONTENDER.

Working to dock the barge.

Another view.

BOOTHE SR. and her barge in the late afternoon sunlight.

The barge is 740 feet long and capable of carrying 38,000 tons of cargo.

LAKES CONTENDER in the late afternoon sun.

BOOTHE/CONTENDER backing away from Donjon for sea trials on March 29, 2012.

Backing around MANITOWOC.

Turning for the channel.


Stern view.

Clearing the piers for the first time.


Anonymous said...

Very cool. My family and I are at the limestone quarry in Rogers City, Michigan. We happened to catch a barge loading and it is the Lakes Contender and the Ken Boothe, Sr. We googled the name to find out where they were from and got a slew of information from your post. Thank you!!

Genny Sterenberg said...

The Ken Boothe Sr is on its way to Muskegon, MI according to MarineTraffic. So pleased to find your post on the Internet!

Barry Griffiths said...

We saw the Ken Boothe Sr. / Lakes Contender going through the Soo Locks on Aug. 6th. This was our first experience with the locks and it was quite a sight to see.