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New US-flagged Laker is First to Be Launched in Nearly 40 Years

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

October 28, 2021

(Photo: The Interlake Steamship Company)

(Photo: The Interlake Steamship Company)

A ceremony held at Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding on Thursday marked the launch of the first U.S.-flagged Great Lakes bulk carrier to be built in nearly four decades. 

The 639-foot Mark W. Barker, currently under construction for Ohio-based The Interlake Steamship Company, was floated in the large drydock at the Sturgeon Bay, Wis. shipyard.

“Today is truly gratifying for our company to commemorate the first time the completed hull of our new ship has touched water,” said Mark W. Barker, president of The Interlake Steamship Company and namesake of the new vessel—the company's first newbuild since 1981.

The ship is expected to be complete and underway in Spring 2022. In the meantime, interior work on the vessel’s accommodations and mechanical and engineering systems continues.

The new River-class, self-unloading bulk carrier is believed to be the first ship for U.S. Great Lakes service built on the Great Lakes since 1983. Measuring 639 feet in length (78 feet W, 45 feet H, 28,000 DWT), the ship will transport raw materials such as salt, iron ore, and stone to support manufacturing throughout the Great Lakes region.

The Interlake Steamship Company, Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding and Bay Engineering jointly designed the bulk carrier, complete with advanced vessel and unloading systems automation. Major partners for the project include American Bureau of Shipping (ABS);ArcelorMittal, Bay Engineering (BEI); EMD Engines; Caterpillar; EMS-Tech, Inc., Lufkin (a G.E. Company), Kongsberg and MacGregor.

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