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Laid up at Muskegon, MI, May 24, 2009.

Roger LeLievre

Great Lakes Fleet Page Vessel Feature -- Paul H. Townsend

By George Wharton

This ship was built to meet the requirements of the U.S. Maritime Commission near the end of the Second World War for a smaller cargo vessel designed for short coastal runs on routes that did not call for fast ships. Designated as type “C1-M-AV1”, this small cargo ship was built in 1945 at the Consolidated Steel Corp., Wilmington, CA as the yard’s hull number 1328. Although launched in 1945 as the Hickory Coll, the vessel entered service in September of 1945 as the Coastal Delegate for the U.S. Department of Commerce, Washington, DC under charter to and operated by the Southern Steamship Co. of Philadelphia, PA. The Coastal Delegate’s original overall dimensions were: 339’ 04” (103.4m) loa x 50’ 00” (15.24m) beam x 29’ 00” (8.84m) depth; GRT 3,822 (gross registered tonnage), NRT 2,123 (net registered tonnage), 6,020 ton (6,117 mt) capacity, displacing 8,375 tons (8,510 mt). The vessel was (and still is) powered by a single Nordberg TSM-216 slow turning, direct drive, 6 cylinder diesel engine originally rated at 1,750 b.h.p. (1,287 kW), later rated at 2,150 b.h.p. (1,581 KW), built by Nordberg Manufacturing Co., St. Louis, MO.  Burning marine diesel oil, the engine's power is fed to a single fixed pitch propeller.

On November 7, 1951; the Coastal Delegate was acquired by the Huron Transportation Co., Detroit, MI (a subsidiary of the Huron Portland Cement Co.). During 1952, the vessel was converted to a self unloading cement carrier; the conversion being started at the Bethlehem Steel Co., Shipbuilding Division, Hoboken, NJ before being brought to the Great Lakes by the Mississippi River system where the conversion was completed in early 1953 by the Calumet Shipyard, Chicago, IL. This self unloading system moves the cement by screw conveyors and can discharge at a rate of 536 tons (544 mt) per hour. Upon completion, the vessel’s new tonnage figures became GRT 3,581, NRT 1,870, and 5,200 ton (5,284 mt) capacity.

The new cement carrier was christened Paul H. Townsend on April 30, 1953 at Detroit, MI. The vessel’s namesake, Mr. Paul Henson Townsend, was born December 19, 1889 and served as President and Chairman of Huron Portland Cement Co. He also served as director of Huron Cement, the Lake Carriers’ Association, the Detroit Board of Commerce, and other esteemed organizations. Mr. Townsend died November 22, 1981.

During the 1957/58 winter lay up, the Paul H. Townsend was lengthened and rebuilt to her current dimensions by Great Lakes Engineering Works, Ashtabula, OH. The rebuilding included the moving of the wheelhouse to its now familiar forward location. The new tonnage figures became GRT 4,302 and NRT 2,825. The Paul H. Townsend can carry 7,850 tons (7,976 mt) at her mid summer draft of 22’ 01.5” (6.74m) in 6 holds. The original Nordberg diesel can move the vessel at a rated speed of 13.5 M.P.H. and the cement carrier is equipped with a bow thruster.

On May 15, 1959; the Townsend and her fleet mates came under the umbrella ownership of National Gypsum Co. sailing for Huron Cement Division, National Gypsum Co., Alpena, MI. following the acquisition of Huron Portland Cement by National Gypsum. About a year later, on May 20, 1960; the Paul H. Townsend was in collision with the British motor vessel Tynemouth 2 miles north of Port Huron, MI in Lake Huron while in heavy fog. The Townsend was attempting to avoid an earlier collision between the August Ziesing and the Standard Portland Cement when the collision occurred.

In recent years, there have been only a couple of noted incidents. In January of 1999, the Paul H. Townsend received ice damage in the Strait of Mackinac after leaving Milwaukee, WI bound for Alpena, MI. On May 11, 2000; the vessel grounded in the Saginaw River while attempting to turn around. Strong currents resulting from heavy rains contributed to the Townsend ending up crosswise in the river blocking the channel. The cement carrier was freed with the assistance of tug Kurt Luedtke with no resulting damage.

The Paul H. Townsend is currently operated and managed by Inland Lakes Management, Inc., Alpena, MI (affiliated with Andrie, Inc., Muskegon, MI) being bareboat chartered from owners and sailing under a contract of affreightment with Lafarge Corp., Reston, VA to carry bulk cement and flyash between various loading ports to distribution terminals on the Great Lakes. Inland Lakes Management was formed in March of 1987 to operate and manage the Huron Cement (National Gypsum) fleet following the purchase of National Gypsum by Lafarge Corp. on January 1, 1987.

The Paul H. Townsend has often laid up for varying periods of time during the navigation seasons due to the fluctuating demands of the construction industry for which she serves. On December 15, 2005 however, the small cement carrier went into long-term lay-up at Muskegon, MI.  Having received a fresh coat of paint in 2006 though, the Paul H. Townsend remains laid up at Muskegon serving at times as a cement storage barge.  The only operating member of the Inland Lakes fleet now is the classic steamer Alpena.  The cement cargoes are now being carried by Lafarge's new, efficient integrated tug/barge units.


Overall Dimensions (metric)
 Length  447' 00" (136.25m)
 Beam  50' 00" (15.24m)
 Depth  29' 00" (8.84m)
 Capacity (mid-summer)  7,850 tons (7,976 mt)
at draft of 22' 01.5" (6.74m)
 Power (diesel)  2,150 b.h.p. (1,581 kW)

IMG_0963.jpg (81726 bytes)
Laid up at Muskegon, MI in 2008 prior to painting.
Herman Phillips
IMG_1362.jpg (73686 bytes)
After painting, March 2009.
Herman Phillips
TownsendPaulL52409-1rl.jpg (64040 bytes)
Bow view at Muskegon, May 24, 2009.
Roger LeLievre

Dock view at Muskegon, MI, May 26, 2007.
Joe Barr

Stack. Joe Barr

Another view, Sept. 13, 2008.
Danny Hecko

Saginaw River, Oct. 5, 2003. Todd Shorkey

Bow view, 2002.

Saginaw River, May 23, 2001. Todd Shorkey

Saginaw River, Oct. 5, 2000. Todd Shorkey

Arriving Cleveland, view is the reflection on the porthole of the Officers Dining Room on the museum ship William G. Mather, B. Martel

Saginaw River, Dec. 5, 2002. Todd Shorkey

Milwaukee Lay-up. David French

Unloading Detroit.



Heading for Bayship, Apr. 19, 2001. Orrin Royce

Green Bay, June 30, 2002. Scott Best

Saginaw River, June 11, 2004. Todd Shorkey

Stern view. Todd Shorkey

Muskegon, MI, Oct. 2004. Peter Zagorac

Unloading at Muskegon, Aug. 1, 2004.
Rod Burdick

Saginaw River, July 29, 2004. Stephen Hause

Muskegon, Mar. 16, 2005. Dale Rosema

Another view. Dale Rosema

Stern view, Lafarge, Detroit, June 26, 2005.
Mike Nicholls

Inbound the Saginaw River, May 18, 2005.
Todd Shorkey

Bow profile. Todd Shorkey

Stern view. Todd Shorkey

Detroit River, July 22, 2005. Mike Nicholls

Preparing to unload at Lafarge, Detroit,
July 22, 2005. Mike Nicholls

Stern view. Mike Nicholls

Saginaw River, Aug. 9, 2005. Todd Shorkey

Stern view. Todd Shorkey

With cement storage barge E.M Ford at Carrollton
Lafarge Terminal on the Saginaw River, Sept. 11, 2005.
Gordy Garris

Saginaw River, Oct. 1, 2005. Gordy Garris

Bow profile. Gordy Garris

Laid up at Muskegon sporting a new paint job,
Sept. 25, 2006. Mike Nicholls

Undergoing conversion to a cement carrier at Hoboken, NJ in 1952.  Notice wheelhouse resting on the foredeck before being refitted aft.
Brian Wroblewski

As she appeared after her conversion at her christening in 1953.
Marc Vander Meulen

Battling ice on the St. Clair River,
Apr. 18, 1996. John Knecht

St. Marys River, Aug. 1996. Mark Peabody

Detroit River, Aug. 17, 2001. Mike Nicholls   

Stern view.  Mike Nicholls   

Aerial view. Don Coles

Winter passage
. Terry Doyon

Docked. John Philbin

Along side J.B. Ford in Chicago 1997.G
Gary Clark

Along side St. Crapo Green Bay,
June 30, 2002. Scott Best

Saginaw River, Oct. 5, 2003. Todd Shorkey

Unloading in Detroit, June 16, 2001.
 Mike Nicholls   

Green Bay, June 30, 2002. Scott Best

Saginaw River, May 23, 2001. Todd Shorkey

Muskegon Scott Golin

Detroit River, May 28, 2003.  Mike Nicholls   


Saginaw River, June 15, 2003. Todd Shorkey

At Lafarge, Detroit, June 26, 2005.
Mike Nicholls

Muskegon, another view, Sept. 25, 2006.
Mike Nicholls

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