By George Wharton
Great Lakes Fleet Page Vessel Feature -- Charles E. Wilson
This self-unloading lake bulk carrier was built by the Bay Shipbuilding Co., Sturgeon Bay, WI and launched March 10, 1973 for the American Steamship Co., Buffalo, NY. The Charles E. Wilson is powered by twin 3,600 horsepower GM diesel engines giving her a rated service speed of 13 knots. She is equipped with both bow and stern thrusters. Her 22 hatches feed into 6 holds where she is capable of carrying 33,800 tons at her maximum mid-summer draft of 30 feet 7 inches. The stern-mounted self-unloading conveyor system feeds a 250 foot boom that can be swung left or right a maximum of 105 degrees.
The Wilson was the first of ten vessels launched (though the second to enter service) for the American Steamship Co. under Title X1 of the Merchant Marine Act of 1970 at a cost of $13.7 million. Under this Act, U.S. shipping companies could build or modernize their fleets by receiving guaranteed government financing and tax deferred benefits. The other vessels included in this program were the Roger M. Kyes (now Adam E. Cornelius 4), H. Lee White (2), Sam Laud, St. Clair (2), Belle River (now Walter J. McCarthy Jr.), Buffalo, Indiana Harbor, American Mariner, and American Republic.
During the winter of 1997/98, a new Sperry adaptive digital gyroscope steering control sustem was installed on the Wilson. A vessel with very few mishaps, the Charles E. Wilson remains a very active carrier for the American Steamship Co.
Overall dimensions Length 680'00" Beam 78'00" Depth 45'00" Capacity (tons) 33,800 tons