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Upbound St. Marys River, June 4, 2011.

Herm Klein

Great Republic
(American Republic 1981 - 2011)

by Todd Davidson

Launched in 1981 at the Bay Shipbuilding Company in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. Her owners, American Steamship Company, were delivered their answer to the Lorain to Cleveland ore shuttle problems. ASC needed a highly specialized vessel to transit the long and winding Cuyahoga River, and this modern Great Lakes self-unloader fit the plan perfectly. With eight rudders, both bow and stern thrusters, twin diesel engines (producing 7,200 b.h.p.) driving the two variable pitch propellers housed in strengthened Kort Nozzles. She is considered to be the most nimble and manoeuvrable ship in the world.

Each propeller has two sets of rudders. Two are found in the normal position behind the Kort Nozzle. The other two rudders are flanking rudders placed in front of the nozzle. The rudders are controlled by a sophisticated system that controls which rudders are used depending on the pitch of the propellers and position for the wheel.

Her name is derived from the one time owners of the steel mill she would serve, Republic Steel, in which she would deliver taconite pellets from the Lorain Pellet Terminal in Lorain, Ohio. There had been many ideas in easier ways to deliver ore to the mill, including a long conveyor that would carry the pellets from a lakefront dock all the way up to the Republic mill, but this plan was soon scrapped due to the numerous disturbances it would cause along its route.

The pilot house of the American Republic is placed as far back as possible to give the deck officers the best view of the often needed twists and turns. There is not a blocked view within the pilot house, which has four operating/controlling stations within.

At 634'10" (193.50m) loa x 68' (20.73m) beam x 40' (12.19m) depth, her capacity at a mid-summer draft of 28'04" (8.61m) is  approximately 24,800 tons (25,198.39 tonnes). Before the closing of LTV Steel she would make regular trips to the steel mill at the head of Cuyahoga River. Due to the shallow draft restrictions of the Cuyahoga it limits her to around 20,000 tons (20,321.28 tonnes) per trip. She could usually complete a round trip from Lorain to Cleveland and back within a days time. The Republic has a very high block-coefficient of boats her size because of the design of moving her all aft quarters as far back as possible and utilizing short twin rudders, allowing her Kort Nozzles positioned extremely aft. She can carry approximately 1,000 tons (1,016.06 tonnes) more of another conventional vessel of her size.

In the summer of 1996, she had the distinct honor of carrying the Olympic Flame on her deck. A large cauldron was placed upon her deck on top of hatch #4, and at 10:15am July 6, amidst a heavy downpour, the Olympic torch was brought aboard the ship and the cauldron was lit. She departed the Hart Plaza, Detroit River dock and continued downbound for her destination of Cleveland, Ohio. Arriving shortly before 8:00pm, the American Republic, with a huge Olympic banner on both sides of her bow, finally made her dock at the Rock-n-Roll museum waterfront. This was a great moment for The American Steamship Company and for the whole of Great Lakes Shipping.

LTV Steel was purchased by ISG in 2002. The Cleveland Mill reopened and the Republic spent most of the season working the lakes in other trades. The Republic's high capacity for her size should guarantee many more successful seasons for the unique and maneuverable vessel.

With the expiry of American Steamship's long-term lease for the American Republic in the spring of 2011, on June 2, 2011 the vessel departed her lay-up berth at Toledo, OH bearing her new name Great Republic.  The Great Republic is now sailing under the management of Key Lakes Inc., Duluth, MN for the Great Lakes Fleet.  The self-unloader was bound for Marquette, MI on her first trip under her new name to load iron ore for Toledo.

Overall Dimensions (metric)
Length 634'10" (193.50m)
Beam 68'00" (20.73m)
Depth 40'00" (12.19m)
Capacity 24,800 tons (25,198.39 tonnes)
Power (diesel) 7,200 b.h.p.



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St. Marys River stern view, June 4, 2011.
Herm Klein
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Loading at Marquette, MI, June 9, 2011.
Lee Rowe
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After renaming at Toledo, OH, June 2, 2011.
Jim Hoffman
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Stern view. Jim Hoffman
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Upbound St. Marys River below Mission Point,
June 4, 2011. Herm Klein
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American Republic at Toledo, OH,
April 1, 2011. Jim Hoffman
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Stern view with an all black stack.
Jim Hoffman
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Close-up of the removal of the American Steamship markings. Jim Hoffman

Cuyahoga River. Todd Davidson

2001 mid-season lay-up in Toledo with fleet mate American Mariner. Jim Hoffman

Cuyahoga River 2000. TZ

Detroit River. Mike Nicholls

Ashtabula. TZ

Cleveland. TZ

Stern view on the Cuyahoga. TZ

All weather operation. TZ

Unloading stone. TZ

Engine room gangway door. TZ

Close up of Kort Nozzle and rudders.
N. Schultheiss

Flanking rudders

Rudders. Mike Nicholls

Details view. Todd Shorkey

Another view in Cleveland. TZ

St. Clair Cut Off. Don Coles

Aerial view. Don Coles

Detroit River, Dec. 3, 2001.
Mike Nicholls

Stern view entering the Rouge River.  Mike Nicholls

Arriving in Cleveland from Lorain. TZ

Mission Point. Jan. 2004. Lee Rowe

Designed for the tight turns of the Cuyahoga. TZ

Backing to the Lorain Pellet Terminal. TZ

Detroit River 2001. Mike Nicholls

For the 2001 season the Republic carried a "Go Tribe" banner. Mike Nicholls

Inbound Cleveland Harbor. TZ

Lay-up in Toledo, April 2002

Another lay-up view.  TZ

Green Bay. Wendell Wilke

Cleveland. Todd Davidson

Bow close up. Jan. 2004. Lee Rowe

Detail shots

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