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Alpena, July 2005

Ben & Chanda McClain 

Great Lakes Fleet Page Vessel Feature -- Manistee

By George Wharton

This L6-S-B1 design "Maritimer" class bulk freighter was built by Great Lakes Engineering Works, River Rouge (Detroit), MI at a cost of $2.2 million. The second of sixteen similar vessels built for the U.S Maritime Commission during World War II, this laker was launched as the Adirondack and delivered to the Reiss Steamship Co. (part of the C. Reiss Coal Co.) on May 25, 1943. Shortly after her delivery (on May 28th), she was rechristened Richard J. Reiss(2) at the company's home port of Sheboygan, WI. In exchange for this new tonnage, the Reiss Co. was required to turn over to the U.S. Maritime Commission older obsolete vessels. These older vessels were the steamers Richard J. Reiss(1) which was renamed Superior(3) in 1943 and the Alex B. Uhrig. Both of these vessels were scrapped shortly after the war. The Richard J. Reiss(2) was powered by a 2,500 horsepower triple expansion steam engine. The "L6-S-B1" designation meant that this was a Great Lakes vessel (L), 600-699 feet long (6), steam powered (S), particular design (B), and sub-design(1).

She continued sailing as a staight-decker for Reiss Steamships until 1964 when she was converted to a self-unloader. In addition to coal, she also carried other bulk commodities such as limestone and iron ore. On June 27,1969, the C. Reiss Coal Co. sold all of its vessel assets to American Steamship for a price of $10.5 million. The Reiss Steamship Co. continued to operate as a separate entity until July 23,1986 when Reiss Steamship was merged into the American Steamships fleet. The Richard J. Reiss (2) was chartered to the Erie Sand Steamship Co. (managed by Erie Sand & Gravel Co., Erie, PA) in 1986 who shortened her name to Richard Reiss at that time. Some say the name was shortened because crews believed it was unlucky for a vessel to sail with a 13 letter name.

The Richard Reiss is now powered by a 2,950 horsepower diesel engine (her original power plant being replaced in 1976) and is equipped with a bow thruster. Her 16 hatches feed into 6 compartments where she is capable of carrying 14,900 tons at her maximum mid-summer draft of 24 feet 7 inches. She is equipped with a 250 foot bow-mounted self-unloading discharge boom that can be swung 105 degrees to port or starboard.

On Dec. 18, 2001 the Reiss entered what was expected to be normal winter lay-up at Erie, Penn.  In January 2002 the Erie Sand & Gravel Company, including the Reiss, was purchased by the Oglebay Norton Company.

Ships sailing in the Oglebay Norton fleet took over the routes normally served by the Reiss and the steamer remained in lay-up.

As the Oglebay Norton Company struggled through financial difficulties in 2003 and 2004 the vessel was sold to Grand River Navigation in January, 2004 for 1.8 million dollars.

The new owners kept the Reiss name and paint scheme for the 2004 season with only the stack being painted in the Grand River Navigation colors. On December 17th, 2004 the Reiss entered the Bayship graving dock at Sturgeon Bay, WI for its five-year inspection and was painted in the Lower Lakes / Grand River Navigation colors.  Emerging from the drydock on Dec. 30th, 2004, the Richard Reiss proceeded to Sarnia, ON where, on March 14th, 2005, her new name Manistee was painted onto her hull.  Of historical significance, this renaming ends an era of almost 100 years of the Reiss name appearing on the hull of a vessel on the Great Lakes.

Length 620' 06"
Beam 60' 03"
Depth 35' 00"
Capacity (tons) 14,900
Diesel engine horsepower 2,950


Moved from the drydock after painting and survey 12/30/04.  Andy LaBorde

Arriving at the Ontario 4 dock in Cleveland. TZ

Unloading. TZ

Close up of bow. TZ

Inside the pilothouse. TZ

Close up of wheel. TZ

View from the boom. TZ

View aft from the pilothouse. TZ

Passing the Lorain, OH Light. TZ

Close up of her stern. TZ
Departing Cleveland. TZ

Downbound Port Huron. Rod Burdick

In Erie, PA. Jeff Thoreson

Sarnia, March 2005.
Dave Wobser 

Unloading Alpena. Ben & Chanda McClain

Inbound Alpena. Ben & Chanda McClain

Inbound Milwaukee

Saginaw River. Todd Shorkey

Stern view. Todd Shorkey

Detroit River Mike Nicholls

Stern view.
Mike Nicholls

Saginaw River. Todd Shorkey

Stern view. Todd Shorkey

On the St. Clair River. Don Coles

Detroit River Mike Nicholls

Stern view. Mike Nicholls

Loading in Marble Head. TZ

Arriving in Cleveland. TZ

Stern view. TZ

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