By George Wharton
Great Lakes Fleet Page Vessel Feature -- George A. Sloan
This L6-S-B1 designated "Maritime Class" straight-deck bulk carrier was built in 1943 for the United States Maritime Commission as the Hill Annex by the Great Lakes Engineering Works, River Rouge, MI at a cost of approximately $2.2 million
The Hill Annex was the eighth of sixteen "Maritimers" built for the U.S. Maritime Commission during World War II. The L6-S-B1 designation meant that it was a Great Lakes vessel (L), 600-699 feet long (6), steam powered (S), particular design (B), and sub-design (1). The Hill Annex was initially powered by a 2,500 horsepower triple expansion steam engine.
After being rechristened George A. Sloan, the vessel was delivered to the Pittsburgh Steamship Company on July 22, 1943. The George A. Sloan was one of three "Maritimers" acquired by the Pittsburgh Steamship Company in 1943 for a modest cost plus the exchange of obslete vessels of equivalent tonnage. The other 2 vessels acquired were the Sewell Avery (sold for use as a sunken dock 1987) and the Robert C. Stanley (scrapped 1989). The 6 vessels traded in were all nearly 50 years old at the time. These vessels were the Zenith City, Robert Fulton, Queen City, Rensselaer, Pentecost Mitchell, and the Herman C. Strom. The primary function of these new vessels was to carry iron ore from Lake Superior ports to the steel mills on the lower lakes on behalf of the U.S. Steel Corp.
Bradley Transportation Co. acquired the George A. Sloan in 1966 from Pittsburgh Steamships following the loss of one of its vessels, the Cedarville, in 1965. Bradley had the Sloan converted to a self-unloader by Fraser Shipyards, Superior, WI in 1966/66. July 1, 1967 saw the George A. Sloan return to the Pittsburgh Steamship fleet as a result of U.S. Steel Corporation's merging of the Bradley fleet into the Pittsburgh Steamship fleet.
The Sloan was repowered in 1984/85 with a 4,500 horsepower 12-cylinder Caterpillar model 3612 diesel engine. Her boilers were retained to provide steam for the steering engine, winches, and ballast pumps. At this time, she also received a variable pitch propeller and a new rudder (new hydraulic steering gear installed on the Sloan in 1996 now allows the vessel's rudder to turn up to 70 degrees). She is equipped with a bow thruster. Her 16 hatches feed into 4 compartments where she is capable of carrying 15800 tons at her maximum mid-summer draft of 25 feet 5 1/2 inches. She has a 262 foot bow-mounted self-unloading boom that can be swung 100 degrees to port or starboard.
Although U.S. Steel remains the USS Great Lakes Fleet's largest customer (the fleet was renamed in 1980 and is now owned by Transtar Inc.); only the Sloan's larger fleet mates now carry the majority of the taconite pellets required by this customer. The George A. Sloan now serves special niche customers handling cargoes such as coal, limestone, salt, stone, sand, and other aggregates into and out of large and small ports on the Great Lakes and the rivers feeding into them. She may also carry the odd spot load of iron ore as needed.
The George A. Sloan is an excellent example of a true classic hard-working lakeboat.
Overall dimensions Length 620'06" Beam 60'00" Depth 35'00" Capacity (tons) 15,800