Edgar B. Speer

Edgar B. Speer


Edgar B. Speer docked at the Duluth Port Terminal, Duluth, Minnesota, June 2, 2018. Photo by Isaac Pennock


Build Information

Year Built: 1980

Builder: American Shipbuilding Company, Lorain, OH

Hull #908

Registry: U.S. 621104

IMO #7625952

Laid Down: Spring 1977

Launch Date: May 8, 1980

Commissioned: September 19, 1980


The Edgar B. Speer was constructed as a self-unloading bulk carrier for Connecticut Bank & Trust of Hartford, Connecticut, to be managed by United States Steel’s Marine Division, USS Great Lakes Fleet. She was the tenth 1,000-Footer constructed and the second one built for U.S. Steel. She was built under Title XI of the Merchant Marine Act of 1970.

The Edgar B. Speer was similar in design to the other Bay Shipbuilding 1,000-Footers, except she featured a different cargo hold layout and accommodations block layout, and that she was built by the American Shipbuilding Company. She featured a strengthened hull for operations in winter conditions. The Speer was designed specifically for the iron ore trade and was designed for the maximum tonnage of taconite pellets.

The Speer is a nearly identical sister ship to the first 1,000-Footer constructed during this time period for U.S. Steel, the Edwin H. Gott, which entered service in early 1979.

The Speer‘s hull was constructed at American Shipbuilding’s Lorain and Toledo, Ohio yards while her deck house was constructed at their South Chicago yard, being transported to Lorain on the deck of the Kinsman Enterprise {1}.

Her self-unloading equipment consists of a single hold belt leading to an aft loop-belt system to 52′ shuttle boom. She was originally equipped with a short shuttle type unloading boom mounted forward of her accommodations block that extended about 50′ to either side of the ship. With this arrangement, she was only capable of unloading at Gary, Indiana, and Conneaut, Ohio. The Speer was designed to be easily converted to be equipped with a more conventional tubular deck-mounted boom, but she still retains her original shuttle boom.


  • Lifeboat replaced, Bay Shipbuilding, Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, 2015.

General Stats

Length Overall: 1,004′

Length Between Perpendiculars: 990′

Breadth: 105′

Depth: 56′

Loaded Draft: 32’01”

Capacity: 73,700 Tons

Vessel Type: Loop-Belt Self-Unloader

Self-Unloading Boom Length: Aft-Mounted Shuttle Boom; 52′

Number of Cargo Holds: 5 [Hatch-Hold Arrangement: 3-4-4-4-5]

Number of Hatches: 20 [Dimensions: 28’x11′]

Primary Operations: Ore Trade

Propellers: 2 Controllable Pitch Propellers

Rudders: 2

Engineering Equipment



Engine Type: Diesel Engine

Engine Manufacturer: Pielstick, Beloit, WI

Engine Model: 18PC2-3V-400; V-18 Cylinder,

Number of Engines: 2

Rated HP: 19,260 BHP



Edgar B. Speer – 1980-1981

Owner: Connecticut Bank & Trust, Hartford, CT [Managed by USS Great Lakes Fleet]

Operator: USS Great Lakes Fleet, New York, NY [U.S. Steel Corp.]

Flag: United States

Home Port: New York, NY

Edgar B. Speer – 1981-1988

Owner: Connecticut Bank & Trust, Hartford, CT [Managed by USX Great Lakes Fleet]

Operator: USX Great Lakes Fleet, Duluth, MN

Flag: United States

Home Port: New York, NY

Edgar B. Speer – 1988-2004

Owner: Connecticut Bank & Trust, Hartford, CT [Managed by USX Great Lakes Fleet]

Operator: USX Great Lakes Fleet, Inc., Duluth, MN [Blackstone Capital Partners]

Flag: United States

Home Port: New York, NY

Edgar B. Speer – 2004-Present

Owner: Banc of America Leasing & Capital LLC, San Francisco, CA [Managed by Great Lakes Fleet Inc., Duluth, MN]

Operator: Key Lakes Inc., Duluth, MN

Flag: United States

Home Port: New York, NY

Her Story

In 1976, U.S. Steel officials signed a contract with American Shipbuilding Company of Lorain, Ohio to construct a 1,000′ super ship to a similar design of their Edwin H. Gott, which at the time was under construction in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. The new ship incorporated the design features of the Gott, with as well a strengthened hull for ice operations and all accommodations and engineering spaces aft, as featured new improvements to the Gott‘s original design.

The keel for this ship was laid in spring of 1977, with a portion of the midbody being constructed at American Shipbuilding’s Toledo, Ohio yard and the remainder of the hull being constructed at their Lorain, Ohio yard. The aft accommodations block was constructed at American Shipbuilding’s South Chicago yard, being transported to Lorain on the deck of the Kinsman Enterprise {1}. The pieces of the vessel were put together in the drydock at Lorain, and launched on May 8, 1980. Launching and hull construction experienced delays due to a shipyard strike. The vessel was christened Edgar B. Speer on June 4, 1980, entering service on September 19, 1980.

The Edgar B. Speer and the Stewart J. Cort broke loose from their moorings on December 2, 1985, while in layup at Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. The Speer laid up in August of 1986 due to labor disputes within U.S. Steel. She returned to service in May of 1987.

 In 1988, majority stock in USS Great Lakes Fleet was acquired by Blackstone Capital Partners. The Speer remained on her usual trade routes, with the only change being the addition of a black and grey diagonal stripe to either side of her bow at the beginning of the 1990 season.

The Edgar B. Speer was involved in several ship-to-ship transfers during the late 1980’s and 1990’s. On November 27, 1987, she brought taconite pellets to Lorain, Ohio, but since the dock could not accommodate her unloading boom, she unloaded into her fleetmate Philip R. Clarke, which in turn, transported the cargo up the Black River and unloaded onto the dock. The Clarke had to make three trips to completely unload the Speer. Then, on August 25, 1993, the Speer unloaded into the holds of her fleetmate Cason J. Callaway, which unloaded directly onto the dock at Cleveland, Ohio. The Edgar B. Speer unloaded into the holds of the Canadian vessel Jean Parisien, which unloaded onto the dock at Nanticoke, Ontario, on July 11, 1994.

On March 24, 2001, the Edgar B. Speer towed her fleetmate Arthur M. Anderson in a side-by-side fashion after the Anderson became disabled in the Straits of Mackinac, taking her to Bay Shipbuilding in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. The Speer lost one of her twin rudders while transiting the St. Marys River on December 3, 2003, proceeding to Sturgeon Bay for repairs.

Blackstone Capital Partners sold the fleet in 2004, being renamed Great Lakes Fleet, Inc. after ownership was transferred to the Canadian National Railway. The fleet’s ships remained under U.S. ownership.

The Edgar B. Speer became stuck in ice in the Rock Cut in the St. Marys River on January 18, 2004. She required the assistance of the USCGC Mackinaw [WAGB-83], taking three days and further assistance of four tugs to be freed. The Speer came to the assistance of her fleetmate Roger Blough, who had lost her rudder in the St. Marys River on August 5, 2006. The Speer towed the Blough side-by-side to Gary, Indiana, where they unloaded their cargoes, towing the Blough up to Bay Shipbuilding in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, for repairs.

The Edgar B. Speer continues to be an active carrier for Great Lakes Fleet, Inc., supplying U.S. Steel mills with iron ore from Lake Superior.

Compiled By Brendan Falkowski

Updated on June 2, 2020


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