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| Departed Sturgeon Bay 2013
Great Lakes Fleet Page
Vessel Feature - Wilfred Sykes
Built by American Shipbuilding Co., Lorain, OH in 1949 for Inland Steel
Co., the streamlined bulk freighter Wilfred Sykes was the first new
American-built Great Lakes vessel constructed after World War II. At
the time of her launch, she was the largest vessel on the Great Lakes.
The Sykes is powered by 2 steam turbine engines producing a combined
7,000 horsepower driving an 18 1/2 foot diameter four-blade propeller
giving her a speed of up to 16 mph. Being the first steamship built to
burn "bunker C" heavy oil for fuel instead of coal, her fuel tanks can
hold 165,000 gallons giving her a cruising range of 4,500 miles. She is
also equipped with a bow thruster.
Her 18 hatches feed into 6 compartments where she can carry 20150 tons
at maximum Seaway draft of 26 feet and is capable of carrying 21500 tons
at her maximum mid-summer draft of 27 feet 7 1/2 inches. The Sykes was
the first Great Lakes vessel built with a 70-foot beam and was also the
first laker built capable of carrying in excess of 20,000 tons. She set
iron ore cargo records during her first three seasons of operations
(1950, 51, & 52). At the time of her design, Inland Steel determined
that the needs of the iron ore trade dictated that this vessel be the
largest and fastest that the yards were capable of building and still be
able to pass through the existing locks at Sault Ste. Marie. Her
hatches are 44 feet wide, 11 feet long, and spaced on 24-foot centers.
The one-piece hatch covers are moved by a 25 hp. electric motor driven
tracked hatch crane which is equipped with 2 lifting hooks powered by a
separate 10 hp. motor.
Private rooms are provided for all licensed officers and double rooms
for the unlicensed personnel with each room having a private bathroom.
Fore and aft recreation rooms are also provided. The Sykes was designed
so that the crew could go anywhere on board without having to step
outside (including stairways & passageways).
She is equipped with two 12,000 lb. bow anchors, each attached to 540
feet of 2 1/8-inch forged alloy steel chains. Her 10,000 lb. stern
anchor is fitted to 540 feet of 1 7/8-inch steel chain. She also has
six 50 hp. electric mooring winches with 1 1/2-inch plow steel mooring
cables. Her lifesaving equipment includes two 31-person lifeboats
carried on stern davits with power winches for raising and lowering as
well as several inflatable rafts stowed in containers on deck.
The straight-decker was converted to a self-unloader in 1975 by Fraser
Shipyards, Superior, WI. She is equipped with a 250-foot stern mounted
discharge boom that can be swung 90 degrees to port or starboard for
Inland Steel has had the Sykes' activity focused on the Lake Michigan
taconite, stone, and coal trades. Inland Steel was acquired by Ispat
International of the Netherlands in 1998. Ispat, in turn, sold the 3
Inland Steel lakers to the newly formed Central Marine Logistics,
Highland, IN. The 3 vessels were the Wilfred Sykes, Joseph L. Block,
and the Edward L. Ryerson. This move was to comply with the Jones Act
which dictates that vessels moving cargoes between U.S. ports be U.S.
owned, operated, crewed, and built. After the change in ownership, the
Wilfred Sykes' activity has continued to be focused on the Lake Michigan
taconite trade into Indiana Harbor.
The year 1999 marked "50 yrs of Smooth Sailing" for the Wilfred Sykes.
This lake boat is a true classic steamer of the post World War II era.
May her future years on the Lakes be as profitable and productive as her
|horsepower steam turbine
Lake Michigan just ahead, the Sykes passes
through the last of the Ship Canal, with the lighthouse on the north side.
Unloading at Indiana Harbor. Gary Clark
Loading in Marquette. Lee Rowe
Loading Escanaba, "50 years of smooth sailing." Rod Burdick
Mate watching over the stern. Wade Streeter.
Stern view. Wade Streeter
Unloading at Wirt Stone on the Saginaw River.
Aerial view Don Coles
Grand Haven Steve Vander Bosch
View from the boom. Roger LeLievre
As a straight decker. Luke Collection
Later in her career. Jim Hoffman
December passage on the Saginaw River. Todd