Fincantieri Bay ship Sturgeon Bay launches new Great Lakes freighter


STURGEON BAY – The first U.S.-flagged Great Lakes freighter to be built on the lakes in nearly 40 years entered the water for the first time during its launch ceremony Thursday at Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding.

Fincantieri and Interlake Steamship Co. staff and workers, as well as members of the public, were on hand for the launch of the Mark W. Barker, which will become the new addition to Interlake’s fleet.

The launch is a formal maritime tradition to mark the first time a boat is transferred from land to water. The ceremony is meant to celebrate and bless the new ship and her crew and bring good fortune on her future voyages.

For the ceremony, the ship was floated in the dry dock of the shipyard. It is not yet ready to leave for the lakes, work continues on its interior housing and mechanical and engineering systems, but it should be ready for work in the spring.

“Today is truly gratifying for our company to commemorate the first time the completed hull of our new vessel has touched the water,” said Mark W. Barker, President of Interlake and namesake of the new vessel, in a statement. Press.

Helen Sharp smashes a bottle of champagne against the hull of the Mark W. Barker, which had its launching ceremony on October 28 at Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding in Sturgeon Bay.  Sharp is married to Ian Sharp, Director of Fleet Projects for Interlake Steamship Co., for whom Fincantieri is building the new Great Lakes freighter.

After a bottle of champagne was smashed against its hull to christen the ship, the shipyard tugs blew horns in greeting. The workers then opened the valves in the dry dock to let the water run out. The process of floating the boat took about six hours.

According to a press release, the Barker is the first vessel built on the Great Lakes and designed to work on the lakes since 1983. Fincantieri, Interlake and Bay Engineering jointly designed it, with Ian Sharp, director of fleet projects at Interlake, credited with leading the design from its conceptual phase to completion.

The River-class self-unloading freighter is 639 feet long, 78 feet wide, 45 feet high, and 28,000 DWT (deadweight tonnage or weight it can carry, including cargo, crew, fuel, fresh water and ballast, among others). It is expected to transport raw materials, such as salt, iron ore and stone, to customers throughout the Great Lakes region.

Guests pose at the bow of the Mark W. Barker, the new Great Lakes freighter for Interlake Steamship Co. built by Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding in Sturgeon Bay.  A launch ceremony was held for the ship on October 28.

Based in Ohio, Interlake is the largest private U.S.-flagged fleet on the Great Lakes, with nine ships carrying 20 million tonnes of raw materials per year, including iron ore and melting stone for the steel industry. , stone for construction, coal for electricity production. and salt for de-icing roads and highways.

The Barker is the first new vessel built for the Interlake fleet since 1981, when it launched the Paul M. Tregurtha. It will be the shortest ship in its fleet, with the Tregurtha and two others exceeding the 1,000-foot mark, but Barker said he will have easier access to a number of ports on the Great Lakes.

Navy buffs who follow the whereabouts of the Winter Fleet at Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding, which accommodates a dozen or more Great Lakes freighters ranging in length from 500 to over 1,000 feet per year for the winter, probably know the Tregurtha and a number of other Interlake bulk carriers who have spent the offseason resting, maintaining and repairing at the Sturgeon Bay shipyard. Among the Interlake ships that wintered in the yard were the James R. Barker, the Lee A. Tregurtha and the Mesabi Miner.

Contact Christopher Clough at 920-741-7952, 920-562-8900 or [email protected]


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