John G. Munson
IMO 5173670

Downbound at Lake Huron cut Buoys 1 & 2, Sept. 20, 2008.
(John McCreery)


The self-unloading bulk freighter John G. Munson (2) was built in 1952 as hull # 415 by Manitowoc Shipbuilding, Inc., Manitowoc, WI. The construction was a result of a contract awarded to Manitowoc Shipbuilding by Irvin L. Clymer, president of Bradley Transportation Line in 1950. The new vessel was to be used in the stone trade, limestone in particular. The new self-unloader was launched November 28, 1951 for the Bradley Transportation Line, Rogers City, MI which was part of the Michigan Lime and Chemical Co. division of U.S. Steel Corp. The John G. Munson completed her sea trials on August 12, 1952 and departed on her maiden voyage August 21, 1952 bound for Calcite, MI and her first of many loads of limestone. Of note, the president of Bradley's sister fleet Pittsburgh Steamship Co. also owned by U.S. Steel Corp. announced in 1950 the awarding of contracts to build 3 bulk carriers coincidentally of similar size and power to the Munson but not self-unloaders. Unknown at the time would be the classification confusion later as the 2 fleets amalgamated.

The John G. Munson was named after Mr. John Gephart Munson. Mr. Munson was elected president of both Michigan Limestone and its Bradley Transportation Division until 1939 when he became a vice president for the parent United States Steel Corp. He retained this position until his retirement in 1951. Mr. Munson died March 28, 1952. This was the second vessel in the Bradley Transportation Co. fleet to bear the John G. Munson name. The John G. Munson (1) was built as a self-unloader in 1917 by the American Ship Building Co., Lorain, OH as the Carl. D. Bradley for the Bradley Transportation Co. She was renamed John G. Munson (1) in 1927, holding this name until 1951 at which time she was renamed Irvin L. Clymer. This renaming freed the Munson name to be applied to the current vessel. The first Munson's dimensions were 552' (168.25m) loa x 60' (18.29m) beam x 32' 9.75m) depth, 11,920 ton (12,111 mt) capacity. She was powered by a shipyard built 2,100 i.h.p. (1,567 KW) triple expansion steam engine. The vessel was dismantled for scrap in Duluth, MN in 1994-95.

The John G. Munson's dimensions at the time of her launch were 666' 03" (203.07m) loa x 72' 00" (21.95m) beam x 36' 00" (10.97m) depth. Six holds were serviced by 18 hatches where the vessel had a 20,900 ton (21,236 mt) capacity at a mid-summer draft of 25' 10" (7.86m). The holds had the cubic capacity to carry 18,000 net tons of coal (equivalent to 16,175 tons or 16,330 mt). Coal-fired Foster-Wheeler water tube boilers fed a General Electric cross compound steam turbine engine rated at 7,700 s.h.p.(5,744 KW) built by General Electric Co., Lynn, MA. The power was fed to a single fixed pitch propeller giving her a speed of 16 m.p.h. The vessel was rebuilt during the 1975-76 winter lay-up including the addition of a 102' (31.09m) mid-section, automating and converting her coal-fired boilers to burn heavy fuel oil and the installation of a bow thruster. The work was completed by Fraser Shipyards, Superior, WI. The Munson's stern thruster was installed later as it was originally the bow thruster removed from the Enders. M. Voorhees in May of 1986. Her 22 hatches service 7 holds where she is capable of carrying 25,550 tons (25,960 mt) at a mid-summer draft of 27' 04" (8.33m). The holds now have the cubic capacity to handle 21,990 net tons of coal (equivalent to 19,634 tons or 19,949 mt). The 250' (76.20m) forward mounted self-unloading boom can be swung 110 degrees to port or starboard and can discharge at a rate of up to 5,600 net tons per hour.

The John G. Munson (2) set her first record cargo on September 9, 1952 with 20,871 tons (21,206 mt) of limestone from Calcite, MI to Buffington, IN. This load set a Great Lakes limestone cargo record. The vessel broke her own cargo record on July 4, 1953 with 21,011 tons (21,349 mt) of limestone from Calcite, MI to Gary, IN, a limestone record that stood until 1966 when it was broken by a newer Canadian self-unloader. She continued to sail under the Bradley Fleet banner until July 1, 1967; when, for economic reason, U.S.

The John G. Munson was an active participant in the year-round navigation experiment conducted in 1974-75. In addition to carrying iron ore downbound, the Munson also carried twenty coal cargoes from Conneaut, OH to Duluth, MN. She suffered a fire in her forward end on Feb. 2, 1983 while in winter lay-up. The fire started in the ship's machine shop resulting in three people being hospitalized for smoke inhalation. On March 21, 1984, the self unloader hit the Lorain, OH breakwall receiving some bow damage and losing her port anchor (later recovered). More recently, a mechanical failure was reported to have caused the vessel to strike the Shell Canada fuel dock along the St. Clair River at Corunna, ON on November 7, 2006 as she was pulling into the dock to fuel. About 200' (61m) of the structure sank into the river. Repairs to the dock were completed during the upcoming winter and into the spring of 2007. Vessels were still able to use the middle and south berths for fueling as normal. Damages to the self unloader were minor.

On June 5, 1981; U.S. Steel turned its fleet into an owned subsidiary renaming it USS Great Lakes Fleet and designating it as a common carrier. This designation allowed the fleet's management to seek business opportunities elsewhere while fulfilling the transportation requirements of U.S. Steel. The Munson, though, retained her Bradley grey hull color until 1990 when she was painted her current fleet color scheme. When U.S. Steel completely divested itself from any involvement in transportation, the John G. Munson and her fleet mates then sailed for the new fleet owners USS Great Lakes Fleet, Inc., Duluth, MN; a subsidiary of Great Lakes Transportation, Monroeville, PA. By 2003, the fleet name was shortened to just Great Lakes Fleet, Inc. Then in 2004, Great Lakes Fleet, Inc. was acquired by CN Rail (Canadian National Railway Co., Montreal, QC). The fleet remains U.S.-flagged and based in Duluth but now sails under the management of Keystone Shipping Co., Bala-Cynwyd, PA in compliance with the Jones Act.

There has been an ongoing debate as to whether or not the John G. Munson falls into the "AAA" class designation with her fleet mates Arthur M. Anderson, Cason J. Callaway, and Philip R. Clarke. Though constructed at about the same time and of similar size and power, the Munson was conceived and built as a self-unloader whereas the three fleet mates were built as straight-deckers later to be converted to self-unloaders. The confusion exists on paper though, as U.S. Steel's accounting office at the time classified the Munson as an "AAA" boat because of her age, size and power similarities to the other three boats. The "AAA" designation was an internal U.S. Steel accounting code used for fleet vessel classification in determining pay for shipboard personnel. Basically the larger and more powerful the vessel, the more the officers were paid. Since the Munson, Anderson, Callaway, and Clarke all fit the similar criteria, thus the common accounting code designation.

The John G. Munson's cargoes have traditionally been focused in the limestone, sand, stone and aggregates trade. Over the years, her cargoes have expanded into the iron ore, taconite pellets and coal trades. Her 7,700 s.h.p steam turbine engine was replaced by two new MAK diesels at Bay Shipbuilding Co., Sturgeon Bay, Wis., during the 2016 shipping season.


Written by George Wharton.



Ship Particulars
Length 768' 03" (234.17m)
Beam 72' 00" (21.95m)
Depth 36' 00" (10.97m)
Midsummer Draft 27' 04" (8.33m)
Unloading Boom Length 250' (76.2m)
Capacity 25,550 tons
Engine Power 7,000 bhp diesel

 


John G. Munson just prior to launch on November 28, 1951.
(Rich Weiss collection)

John G. Munson at the fitout dock in 1952, still a long way to go before she is completed and ready to sail.
(Great Lakes Lore Museum)

Stern shot of the Munson at the fit out dock in 1952.
(Great Lakes Lore Museum)

Munson being towed out of Manitowoc by the Reiss tug Green Bay on her way to her maiden voyage.
(Great Lakes Lore Museum)

Leaving the breakwall in Manitowoc.
(Great Lakes Lore Museum)

On the St. Clair River near Marysville, 1954.
(Rob Butler)

Bradley fleet at winter lay up.

With grey hull downbound at Six Mile Point, 1970.
(Roger LeLievre)

Munson passes Middletown at the Soo Locks in 1976 wearing her Bicentennial stars and stripes.
(Roger LeLievre)

1980's.
(Rudi Rabe)

Unloading stone at the Carmeuse River Rouge lime plant, Aug. 12, 2008.
(Chuck Wagner)

Approaching Lake Huron cut buoys 1 & 2, Sept. 15, 2008.
(Marc Dease)

Entering the St. Clair River at Point Edward, ON with the James Norris following, Sept. 15, 2008.
(John McCreery)

Waiting to load at Marquette, MI, May 26, 2008.
(Rod Burdick)

Taking on bunkers from the William L. Warner while unloading at S. Chicago, June 1, 2008.
(Chuck Wagner)

Ready to load at Stoneport, MI, July 9, 2008.
(Ben & Chanda McClain)

Finished loading coal at Toledo, OH, Apr. 4, 2008.
(Bob Vincent)

Upbound the St. Clair River at Sarnia, Apr. 5, 2008.
(John McCreery)

Into Lake Huron.
(John McCreery)

Loading at Stoneport, MI, Nov. 21, 2007.
(Ben & Chanda McClain)

Downbound the St. Clair River at the Algonac State Park, Dec. 31, 2007.
(Don Detloff)

Arriving at Toledo, OH, Jan. 4, 2008.
(Bob Vincent)

Arriving at Ontonagon, July 28, 2007.
(Rod Burdick)

Unloading coal at Ontonagon.
(Rod Burdick)

Lower Lake Huron, Aug. 14, 2007.
(Marc Dease)

Upbound the St. Clair River at Port Huron, June 26, 2007.
(Bruce Hurd)

Bow view.
(Bruce Hurd)

Port side.
(Bruce Hurd)

Downbound the St. Clair River, May 27, 2007.
(Rob Butler)

Bow profile.
(Rob Butler)

Off of Lake Huron at Point Edward, June 24, 2007.
(Marc Dease)

At the dock, Stoneport, Apr. 19, 2007.
(Ben & Chanda McClain)

Loading at Stoneport.
(Ben & Chanda McClain)

Leaving Stoneport.
(Ben & Chanda McClain)

Upbound light ship, Detroit River, Aug. 18, 2001.
(Mike Nicholls)

Stern view, St. Marys River

Detroit River, Aug. 11, 2002.
(Mike Nicholls)

Detroit River, Oct. 14, 2001.
(Mike Nicholls)

St. Clair River.
(Todd Davidson)

Detroit River, Sept. 2, 2001.
(Mike Nicholls)

Stern view.
(Mike Nicholls)

Heading for Duluth.
(Al Miller)

Duluth.
(Gordon A. Williams)

Rouge River Short Cut.
(Mike Nicholls)

Departing Duluth Fuel Dock.
(Glenn Blaszkiewicz)

Stern view.
(Scott Best)

Unloading.
(Scott Best)

Unloading.
(Dick Lund)

Winter Lay-up.
(Al Miller)

Duluth.
(Paul Beesley)

Stern view.
(Scott Best)

Unloading.
(Dick Lund)

First downbound St. Marys River 2015.
(Terri Shull Snook)

Inbound Duluth.
(Glenn Blaszkiewicz)

Detroit River.
(John Belliveau)

Stern view, Detroit River.
(Mike Nicholls)

Aerial view.
(Don Coles)

Rock Cut.
(Todd L. Davidson)

Bow view.
(Clayton Sharrad)

Unloading in Buffington.
(Gary Clark)

Detroit River.
(Mike Nicholls)

Inbound Duluth.
(Al Miller)

Port Huron.
(Clayton Sharrad)

Profile.
(Roger LeLievre)

Detroit River.
(Mike Nicholls)

Outbound Superior.
(Glenn Blaszkiewicz)

Outbound Duluth.
(Gordon A. Williams)

Port Huron.
(Clayton Sharrad)

Fueling in Duluth.
(Al Miller)

Outbound Superior.
(Glenn Blaszkiewicz)

Departing Duluth.
(Al Miller)

Silhouetted by a Lake Michigan Sunset off Ludington, June 18, 2004.
(Alan Culley)

Downbound the St. Clair River at Port Huronm, May 15, 2007.
(Bill Bird)


More pictures from our archives


Return to Great Lakes & Seaway Shipping    Great Lakes Fleet Photo Gallery
Copyright Boatnerd.com. All Rights Reserved.