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Maiden voyage underway: first U.S. Great Lakes bulk carrier in 40 years

Posted at 4:01 PM, Jul 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-28 17:01:07-04

STURGEON BAY (NBC 26) — The first Great Lakes freighter in nearly 40 years, the M/V Mark W. Barker, embarked on its maiden voyage on July 28 from Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding.

M/V Mark W. Barker departed from Sturgeon Bay at 10:36 a.m. for a 110-mile journey to Port Inland, Michigan where a crew of 21 professional mariners will load stone to deliver to Muskegon, Michigan.

“This is a monumental day for our company and the US flag fleet as our much-anticipated freighter departs on her first voyage in what will be a long life of service on the Great Lakes,” says Mark W. Barker, President of The Interlake Steamship Company and namesake of the vessel – the company’s first new-build since 1981. “The construction of this vessel, which was made from steel manufactured in Indiana, from iron ore delivered by vessel from Minnesota, reinforces our long-term commitment to shipping and delivering essential cargoes for our customers throughout the region.”

The ship is a River-Class, self-unloading bulk carrier that 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, the ship is designed to transport raw materials such as salt, iron ore and stone to support manufacturing throughout the Great Lakes region.

“This new vessel not only brings with it additional cargo carrying capacity and capabilities, it is the most versatile in our fleet and strategically sized to navigate into nearly any port on the Great Lakes,” says Brendan P. O’Connor, Vice President of Marketing and Marine Traffic. “The M/V Mark W. Barker will give us unmatched ability for cargo operations and to carry unique project cargoes because of both her square-shaped cargo hold and larger hatch openings. She truly was designed to be a vessel for the future.”

Construction of the ship began in August 2019.

To learn more about the new ship,