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Innovative Innovator makes GH debut

By Sam Hankinson/Ships Log • Jul 10, 2019 at 9:00 AM

Most of the freighter traffic we receive in Grand Haven is done by vessels that have spent years coming in and out of the Grand River, dropping off cargoes to local docks. But there is a first for everything, and every ship that visits our port has had a first visit.

This past week, we saw four vessels visit, three of which were frequent visitors and one that was calling on the port of Grand Haven for the first time.

Pere Marquette Shipping’s articulated tug/barge Undaunted/Pere Marquette 41 arrived in port July 4, navigating through the flurry of pleasure boat traffic that was on the Grand River and Lake Michigan for the holiday. The duo was bound for the Verplank dock in Ferrysburg to unload a stone cargo from Cedarville. They were in town for the fireworks and backed out to Lake Michigan early Friday morning.

Interlake Steamship Co.’s motor vessel Kaye E. Barker had arrived off Grand Haven on Thursday night and was waiting for the Undaunted/PM41 to depart. Both freighters had to unload their cargoes at the same area of Verplank’s, so the Barker had to wait until the PM41 was gone.

The Barker started unloading at Verplank’s before sunrise and was backing out to Lake Michigan by mid-morning.

Saturday afternoon saw the Wilfred Sykes visit with a load of slag for Meekhof’s D&M on Harbor Island. The Sykes was outbound to the lake at around midnight.

At dawn Sunday, Algoma Central Corp.’s motor vessel Algoma Innovator came in with a load of stone for the D&M dock. The vessel backed out shortly after noon.

The Algoma Innovator is a new vessel that we have not seen before in Grand Haven. It entered service last season as part of Algoma’s fleet renewal program that began in 2012.

Built in 2017 at 3 Maj Shipyard in Croatia, the Algoma Innovator’s design is, well, innovative. Its boom is mounted forward, while the pilothouse is located aft. This gives the vessel incredible versatility, as it can make deliveries to docks that are hard to access by vessels with stern-mounted unloading equipment.

While other new vessels have been built to the maximum dimensions the St. Lawrence Seaway and Welland Canal locks will allow, the Innovator is the first of two river-class ships Algoma ordered. The Innovator and its sister ship (which has yet to arrive on the Great Lakes) are 650 feet, 8 inches long; 78 feet wide; and 44 feet, 9 inches deep.

They have replaced the Algorail and Algoway, both of which were very common visitors to Grand Haven and West Michigan during their careers for Algoma. These two vessels are currently being cut up at International Marine Salvage in Port Colborne, Ontario.

While it is sad to see old, classic vessels being scrapped, boatwatchers will enjoy seeing some of the most technologically advanced vessels on the Great Lakes for years to come.

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