Huge Laker Leaving Duluth Isn’t Actually A Ship, It’s Something Different
I was driving over the Blatnik Bridge early this morning on my way to work. I looked over at the sunrise coming up over Lake Superior and noticed that below me was a large laker making its way toward the lift bridge. This one looked different than what I normally see. Fortunately, I got to work and I was able to pull up the harbor cam and get a closer look.
The name on the hull of the ship says Erie Trader. However, the back of the boat had different writing I just couldn't quite make out. Were these two boats pushed together? What's going on here?
It turns out that this isn't a ship, but it's a tug pushing a large barge. The tug is kind of interesting. It has a large tower on it, but it's a short boat.
It's part of the Van Enkevort Tug & Barge. They have several tugs that can push any of their barges. It's a pretty cool way to be able to adjust your shipping and be more versatile. They're actually referred to as "pushers."
The fleet consists of 4 similar barges. The Michigan Trader, Erie Trader, Great Lakes Trader, and Joseph H Thompson. They also have other barges for hauling phosphoric acid that are differently designed.
The fleet also has four different tugs: The Clyde S Vanankevort, Joyce L Vanenkevort, Dirk S Vanenkevort, and Laura L Vanenkevort. Call me crazy, but I would imagine they were named after family members.
The fleet is actually the youngest in the great lakes. The average age of the vessels is only 13 years old. Keep in mind, some ships on the Great Lakes are still operating and are as old as the Edmund Fitzgerald.