Fincantieri Bay launches the first American-flagged Great Lakes bulk carrier in nearly 40 years


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Mrk W. Brker is the first new Great Lakes bulk carrier to be built since 1983.

Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding and the Interlake Steamship Company held a launch ceremony on Thursday which marked the final step in building the new 639ft M / V Mark W. Barker, her float comes out of the large dry dock at the Sturgeon Bay shipyard.

“Today is truly gratifying for our company to commemorate the first time that the completed hull of our new vessel has touched the water,” said Mark W. Barker, President of the Interlake Steamship Company and namesake of the new vessel, the first new vessel built for the company since 1981.

Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding Vice President and General Manager Todd Thayse invited all of the shipyard’s crews to attend the short ceremony.

“It is a proud day for the men and women of our shipyard to celebrate the progress made on the M / V Mark W. Barker“Said Thayse.” Sharing this launch ceremony with the Interlake Steamship team with Helen and Ian Sharp makes this day even more special. “

Staff from the Interlake office were also in Sturgeon Bay to participate in the launch celebration. For many, it was their first time in a shipyard.

“We dedicate this historic launch of our new vessel to the men and women who have been building these Great Lakes vessels on our freshwater shores for over 100 years,” said James R. Barker, President of the Interlake Steamship Company . “We pay tribute to all the skilled professionals who have worked countless hours, day after day, year after year, behind the scenes in the construction of these formidable bulk carriers. Their craftsmanship and talent are fused with every seam of these ships that will lead long, productive lives on the lakes, safely transporting sailors and the raw materials that are America’s building blocks.

In particular, James R. Barker highlighted the contribution of Ian Sharp, Director of Fleet Projects at Interlake, who has led the design of the new build internally from its conceptual phase until today.

Sharp, originally from Scotland, brought his talents in design and shipbuilding to create a legacy that includes dozens of ships throughout his career spanning more than five decades.

His wife and main supporter of 56 years, Helen Sharp, was chosen as the honorary sponsor of the launch.

“Motor ship Mark W. Barker, your last name is strong, you are built strong by hard working men and women and you will work hard. God bless you and all who sail with you, ”said Helen Sharp as she smashed the ceremonial champagne bottle against the bow of the ship, just above the ship’s nameplate.

Getting out of the ship from the dock took about six hours

The shipyard tugs gave congratulatory salutes, and then the shipyard workers opened the drydock valves to let the water in. The process of floating the vessel took about six hours.

Fincantieri Marine Group President and CEO Dario Deste congratulated the Bay Shipbuilding and Interlake teams. “Well done,” Deste said. “May this ship demonstrate not only the importance of trade on the Great Lakes, but also the power of partnerships between two great companies. “

The vessel is expected to be completed and underway in spring 2022. In the meantime, interior work on the vessel’s accommodations and mechanical and technical systems continues.

The new River-class self-unloading bulk carrier is considered the first vessel for the United States Great Lakes Service built on the Great Lakes since 1983. Measuring 639 feet long, 78 feet wide and 45 feet high, the vessel of 28,000 dwt will transport raw materials such as salt, iron ore and stone to support manufacturing throughout the Great Lakes region.

Interlake Steamship Company, Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding and Bay Engineering jointly designed the bulk carrier, featuring advanced automation of the ship and unloading systems. The transporter is built by nearly 700 skilled FBS workers and will generate business for subcontractors, vendors and supplier partners. The main partners of the project are the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS); ArcelorMittal, Bay Engineering (BEI); EMD motors; Caterpillar; EMS-Tech, Inc., Lufkin (a GE Company), Kongsberg, and MacGregor.

The ship is 639 feet long

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