Maritime Community to Pay Tribute Oberstar

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

May 7, 2014

M/V Hon. James L. Oberstar (Photo courtesy The Interlake Steamship Company)

M/V Hon. James L. Oberstar (Photo courtesy The Interlake Steamship Company)

The Great Lakes Maritime community will honor Former Rep. James Oberstar on Thursday, May 8. All U.S.-flag vessels working the Great Lakes will lower their flags to half-mast in honor of Congressman Oberstar.

Also on May 8, at almost the same time funeral services for Congressman James L. Oberstar are scheduled to get under way in Washington D.C., the U.S.-flag laker that bears his name is scheduled to arrive in the Port of Duluth-Superior to load iron ore pellets – a Great Lakes transit reflective of both the mining and maritime industries he so tirelessly advocated for during his 36 years in Congress.

According to the Interlake Steamship Company, the Hon. James. L. Oberstar is scheduled to approach the Duluth Ship Canal at 9:30 a.m. CDT on Thurs., May 8, 2014. Once the ship’s bow nears the Aerial Lift Bridge, the ship’s master will blow a full, formal Interlake Fleet Salute in honor of Mr. Oberstar. 

The Interlake Fleet Salute is two long blasts, followed by three short. The captain will draw out the salute for full effect, and as is maritime tradition, the bridge will return the salute.

“Interlake and all U.S.-flag operators on the Lakes owed Congressman Oberstar a tremendous debt of gratitude, and it was our pleasure to place his name on the bow and stern of a Great Lakes freighter,” said James. R. Barker, chairman of Interlake. “It was a most fortunate coincidence for all of us that the nation’s foremost authority on the maritime industry also represented the largest port on the Great Lakes and its largest concentration of iron ore. It is fitting that his name graces the hull of this ship, for just as he fought for American workers for decades, this ship will, for decades to come, deliver Minnesota iron ore to steel mills throughout the Great Lakes basin and keep America strong.”

Interlake invites boat watchers lining the Duluth Ship Canal (and those watching the harborcam online at to observe a moment of silence immediately after the salute to reflect on the countless contributions the Congressman made to this region, the Great Lakes and this nation.

After entering the harbor, the 806-foot laker will turn left and follow the Duluth and Superior front channels to the BNSF ore dock in Superior where it will load approximately 28,000 tons of pellets bound for Burns Harbor, Indiana. One more coincidence … the ship is under the command of Captain Steve Hughes, who also happens to hail from the Twin Ports. 

Interlake Steamship Company held its christening ceremony for the Hon. James L. Oberstar in Duluth on May 24, 2011.  “I never imagined having my name on a vessel of this significance,” Mr. Oberstar said at that event. He shared that his father, who was an iron miner, had once dreamed of being a merchant marine, which made the christening even more poignant. “My heart, my family’s tradition, is on that ship.”

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