St. Marys River

Greg Barber

Great Lakes Fleet Page Vessel Feature - Kaye E. Barker

By Todd Davidson


Constructed in 1951-51, for the Cleveland Cliffs Steamship Company, the Edward B. Greene was the first vessel in the history of the Great Lakes to be built completely in drydock, She was 1 of 8 of the new AAA-Korea class boats to be built for the ore and coal trades. The first AAA to be launched was the Philip R. Clarke of the Pittsburg Steamship Company in November, 1951. The last one delivered was the Ford fleet's William Clay Ford, in May of 1953. The design was so well liked by naval architects, the Canadian shipbuilders built lakers similar to the specs of the AAA's, including the James Norris, Sir James Dunn, Gordon C. Leitch (i), and Senator of Canada.

The Greene was built from the keel up in drydock at the American Shipbuilding Company's yard in Toledo, Ohio. She was christened on January 10, 1952 and her sea-trials commenced on June 18, 1952. She did not depart Toledo for Marquette until July 29th, due to a Steelworkers strike, there she loaded 19,788 tons of iron ore for Cleveland. The Greene differed from her other 7 sisters, mainly due to her modified triple deck forward house, this provided large guest accommodations for her corporate passengers.

The AAA's were all 647-feet in length, with a beam of 70-feet and had a mid-summer capacity of 20,150 tons of ore. They shared the same power plant, a 7,700 horsepower 2 cylinder steam turbine engine. In the winter of 1975-76, Cleveland Cliffs contracted the Fraser Ship Yard of Superior, Wisconsin to lengthen the Greene 120-feet to 767-feet overall. This increased her capacity to 26,750 tons. All of her sister ships were lengthened during that same time period, except for the J.L. Mauthe of the Pickands Mather fleet. In the winter lay-up of 1980-81, she was back in the Toledo yard to be converted to a self-unloader. A 250-feet aft mounted boom was installed, only decreasing her capacity to 25,900 tons, but her obvious turn-around times would be greatly increased.

Cleveland Cliffs sold the Greene to the Rouge Steel Corporation, a division of the Ford Corporation and renamed her the Benson Ford (III). Now the Benson Ford was on the run from Marquette to Detroit, making the slow, winding trip up the Rouge River to the Ford Plant. With the dissolvement of the Ford fleet in 1989, the Interlake Steamship Company purchased the remaining Ford boats and signed an exclusive contract to haul iron ore to the Rouge Steel plant, thus creating the Lakes Shipping Company, a division of Interlake. Renamed the Kaye E. Barker, she was christened on August 2, 1990 in honor of the wife of James R. Barker of the Interlake/Mormac Group.

The fine AAA-Korea class vessels still sail the lakes today, with the exception of the now scrapped William Clay Ford (1989) and the conversion of the J.L. Mauthe to the integrated tug-barge Pathfinder, still part of the Interlake fleet. The Kaye E. Barker continues sailing today, still making the Marquette ore runs, but is also very active in the stone and coal trades. She is a very attractive boat and remains a favorite of boatwatchers around the Great Lakes.

The Barker laid up at Bay Shipbuilding, Sturgeon Bay WI on January 19, 2012 for the replacement of her steam turbine with new diesel main engines and auxiliary equipment. The new powerplant consists of two Rolls-Royce Bergen B32:40L6P 6 cylinder diesels that produce a combined 8,160 BHP and can push her at speeds up to 17 mph. These engines had originally been intended for use in the stalled John Sherwin conversion project. In addition to the new powerplant, the Barker also received modifications to her stern, including the replacement of the rudder and stock to accommodate the counter clockwise rotation of the newly installed controllable pitch propeller. The new motor vessel returned to service in August 2012.


Overall dimensions
Length 767'00"
Beam 70'00"
Depth 36'00"
Capacity (tons) 25,900
Self unloading boom 250'


Cold trip up the Rouge. John Belliveau

Foggy day in Marquette. Lee Rowe

Refueling in Detroit. Mike Nicholls

Storm building on Lake Superior. Eric & Sandy Chapman

Loading in Escanaba. Dick Lund

Marquette. Lee Rowe

St. Clair River. N. Schultheiss

St. Clair River. N. Schultheiss

Outbound Rouge River Short Cut.

South Chicago. Gary Clark

Rouge Short Cut. Todd Davidson

St. Marys River. Roger LeLievre

Rouge River. Mike Nicholls

Downbound Lake St. Clair at Windmill Point. Don Coles

Stern view Detroit River.

Marquette in July, 2005. Lee Rowe

Mission Point

Mail boat approaching. N. Schultheiss

Detroit River. Mike Nicholls

Stern view.

Unloading coal at the Lambton Generating Station. John Meyland

Marquette, Jan. 2005. Lee Rowe

Rouge River, Oct. 04. Mike Nicholls.

Stern view. Mike Nicholls

More pictures from our archives


As the Edward B. Greene. Gene Onchulenko

Another view. Luke Collection

Great Northern Railway ore docks, Allouez, WI in November, 1959 MHSD

As the Benson Ford. Jim Hoffman

Stern view as the Benson Ford. L. Mager

Kaye E. Barker aerial view. Don Coles

Lay-up at Rouge Steel Detroit. Don Coles

Rouge River. John Belliveau

Stern view at Rouge Steel. Wade Streeter.

Stern view.

Marquette Lee Rowe

Christmas Lights

Loading in S. Chicago. Gary Clark

Passing a 1000-footer. Don Coles

Detroit River.

Close up.

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