Presque Isle (tug)
IMO 7303877

Returning from 2005 drydocking.
(Rob Bennett)

The Presque Isle was constructed as a self-unloading integrated tug/barge unit for Litton Great Lakes Corporation. The tug/barge unit was intended to operate as part of Litton's Wilson Transit Company, but Litton sold Wilson before the barge was completed. The tugboat was constructed by Halter Marine of New Orleans, Louisiana. The tug/barge Presque Isle was designed as an integrated tug/barge unit, with the tug fitting into a specially-designed notch where it would rigidly lock in, and the pair would sail as one vessel. It was designed with intentions to take advantage of the U.S. Coast Guard's tug/barge manning requirements, but since the tug was not deemed seaworthy on its own, it had to operate with a full-size crew. The pair was built at a cost of about $35 Million under Title XI of the Merchant Marine Act of 1970.The tug portion of the unit was 153' 03" long, 54' wide, and 31' 03" deep, and was powered by two Mirrlees Blackstone KVMR-16 diesel engines providing 14,840 BHP.

The tugboat was constructed by Halter Marine of New Orleans, Louisiana, being launched on December 12, 1972. She departed New Orleans after completion on October 29, 1973, bound for the shipyard in Erie. The pair entered service on December 16, 1973, hauling one load of ore before laying up at Erie, Pennsylvania, for the winter.

In 1975, the United States Steel Corporation, experiencing shipyard delays, signed a 25-year lease on the Presque Isle with Litton Great Lakes Corporation. U. S. Steel wanted to build a few 1,000-Footers, but backlogs at shipyards forced them to wait. The agreement proved to be a win-win, as U.S. Steel needed a 1,000-Footer, and Litton wanted to find a home for theirs.

The Presque Isle fit in well with the U.S. Steel trade routes, carrying ore from their upper lakes docks to their mill in Gary. If demand was low, the Presque Isle had large enough cubic capacities to be efficient in the coal and stone trades as well. Upon entering service for U.S. Steel, she went right to work as part of their winter navigation fleet during the late 1970's.

On April 12, 1990, the Presque Isle rammed the approach wall to the Poe Lock at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. She was repaired at Superior, Wisconsin a few days later.

The Presque Isle became the first vessel to utilize the unloading hopper at the DM&IR ore dock at Duluth on July 25, 1995. The hopper was installed to receive shipments of limestone for use in making taconite pellets.

USS Great Lakes Fleet, Presque Isle's operator, acquired 100% of Litton Great Lakes Corporation stock on November 1, 1997. Full ownership of the tug/barge pair was taken over by USS Great Lakes Fleet in 1998.

Blackstone Capital Partners, majority stockholders of USS Great Lakes Fleet, sold the fleet in 2001, being renamed Great Lakes Fleet, Inc. after ownership was transferred to the Canadian National Railway. The fleet's ships remained under U.S. ownership. The Presque Isle finally received her black and grey diagonal stripes on her bow in the early 2010's.

The Presque Isle continues to serve the iron ore, coal, and stone trades on the Great Lakes for Great Lakes Fleet, Inc. of Duluth, Minnesota.

Written by Brendan Falkowski.

Tug Particulars
Length 153' 03" (46.71m)
Beam 54' 00" (16.46m)
Depth 31' 03" (9.53m)
Barges paired with barge
Presque Isle 1973 - Today


Presque Isle 1973 - 1997
(Litton Great Lakes Corporation)

Port Weller Dry Docks in early 1979 for her 5 year survey.
(Barry Andersen)

Presque Isle 1997 - 2001
(USS Great Lakes Fleet)

Port Weller Dry Docks in 1999 for her 5 year survey.
(Trish Atwood)

Stern view.
(Trish Atwood)

Wide view.
(Trish Atwood)

Tug in Milwaukee.
(Andy LaBorde)

Tug out of the notch, March 22, 2001.
(Orrin Royce)

Presque Isle 2001 - Today
(Great Lakes Fleet)

Tug returning to Erie to mate up with barge.
(Rob Bennett)

Returning from 2005 drydocking.
(Rob Bennett)

Because of hull depth can only dry dock at PWDD.
(Rob Bennett)

Back to the barge.
(Rob Bennett)

Tug and the unloading equipment in Gary, Aug. 19, 2009.
(Tom Kort)

Departing Lock 8 for Erie, June 30, 2011.
(Michel Gosselin)

Close up of the bow.
(Michel Gosselin)

The forward notch the barge locks into.
(Michel Gosselin)

Stern notch.
(Michel Gosselin)

Profile view of the tug.
(Michel Gosselin)

Stern view.
(Michel Gosselin)

Approaching the tie up wall above Lock 1, June 20, 2017.
(Bill Bird)

Moving across the Canal to the drydock.
(Bill Bird)

Entering the drydock in Port Weller.
(Bill Bird)



More pictures from our archives

    Click here for
Presque Isle


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