Erol Y. Beker

Erol Y. Beker – Mary Turner – Ashtabula


Articulated Barge, Self-Unloading Bulk Carrier; Paired with Tugboat Defiance

Ashtabula/Defiance on the St. Marys River, August 4, 2014. Photo by Roger LeLievre


Build Information

Year Built: 1982

Builder: Bay Shipbuilding Corporation, Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin

Hull #728

Registry: U.S. 626730

IMO #8637495

Laid Down: —

Launch Date: April 22, 1982

Commissioned: Summer 1982

Paired Tugboats:


The Ashtabula was constructed as the ocean-going self-unloading barge Erol Y. Beker for Beker Transportation. The barge and her paired tug were built under Title XI of the Merchant Marine Act of 1970. She was paired with the tugboat April T. Beker, now the Defiance, which she remains paired with to this day. The barge was built to ocean standards, with a deep hull and large hatch covers. Though, it did still feature common Great Lakes ship design elements, such as a loop belt unloading system. The barge was originally fitted with a short 80′ unloading boom to unload into shoreside hoppers.

Her self-unloading equipment consists of a single hold belt with a forward loop belt system feeding a 250′ deck mounted boom.


  • Retrofitted with Bludworth Articulated Tug/Barge System, 2007.
  • Unloading boom replaced with new 250′ boom, Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding, Sturgeon Bay, WI, 2012.
  • Bow thruster installed, Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding, Sturgeon Bay, WI, 2012.

General Stats

Length Overall [Combined Tug & Barge]: 705′

Length Overall [Barge]: 610′

Length Between Perpendiculars: 610′

Breadth: 78′

Depth: 51′

Loaded Draft: 30′

Capacity: 25,891 Tons

Vessel Type: Loop-Belt Self-Unloader; Articulated Barge

Self-Unloading Boom Length: Forward-Mounted; 250′

Number of Cargo Holds: 5

Number of Hatches: 14 [Dimensions: 46’08”626730”]

Primary Operations: Ore, Coal, Stone, Sand, Salt Trades



Erol Y. Beker – 1982-1987

Owner: Beker Transportation, Greenwich, CT

Operator: Beker Transportation

Flag: United States

Home Port: Wilmington, DE

Mary Turner – 1987-2002

Owner: Gulfcoast Transit Co., Tampa, FL [Tampa Electric (TECO)]

Operator: Gulfcoast Transit Co.

Flag: United States

Home Port: Tampa, FL

Mary Turner – 2002-2007

Owner: Tampa Electric Co., Tampa, FL

Operator: Tampa Electric Co.

Flag: United States

Home Port: Tampa, FL

Mary Turner – 2007-2011

Owner: U.S. United Ocean Services, Tampa, FL

Operator: U.S. United Ocean Services

Flag: United States

Home Port: Tampa, FL

Ashtabula – 2012-Present

Owner: Grand River Navigation Co., Traverse City, MI [Rand Logistics]

Operator: Grand River Navigation Co.

Flag: United States

Home Port: Cleveland, OH

Her Story

The barge Ashtabula was built in 1982 as the self-unloading barge Erol Y. Beker for Beker Industries’ subsidiary Beker Transportation. The barge was paired with the tugboat April T. Beker, which she remains paired with to this day as the tug Defiance. The tug/barge pair were constructed to operate on the Atlantic Ocean in the Gulf of Mexico coal trade. The barge was launched on April 22, 1982, and the pair entered service that summer on the Gulf of Mexico.

The tug/barge pair April T. Beker and Erol Y. Beker soon fell into their usual trade route, carrying coal from the New Orleans region to power plants in Tampa, Florida. The barge ran aground in the Gulf of Mexico on January 21, 1983, requiring drydocking.

In 1985, Beker Industries filed for bankruptcy, and the tug/barge pair were acquired by Tampa Electric Company’s subsidiary Gulfcoast Transit. The tug was renamed Beverly Anderson while the barge was renamed Mary Turner. The tug Beverly Anderson suffered a major engine room fire while on Tampa Bay on April 16, 1992.

Gulfcoast Transit was reorganized as TECO Ocean Shipping in 2002, with the pair remaining under their ownership and operation. In 2007, the pair were sold to the United Marine Group. Operation of the tug and barge was taken over by their subsidiary, U.S. United Ocean Services. The pair were retrofitted with a Bludworth Articulated Tug/Barge connection system, making them an official ATB unit.

On December 6, 2011, Rand Logistics announced that they had purchased the tug/barge pair Beverly Anderson / Mary Turner and their fleetmate Tina Litrico as part of a $25 Million deal. The tug/barge pair made their way up the St. Lawrence Seaway in April 2012, stopping in Port Colborne, Ontario, where the Mary Turner‘s old 80′ self-unloading boom was removed and the 250’ boom from the scrapped vessel Joseph H. Frantz was placed on her deck. The pair sailed to their builder’s yard in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, for a 6-month refit, drydocking, repainting into Lower Lakes Towing/Grand River Navigation fleet colors, and installation of the unloading boom on the barge.

They departed the shipyard on October 23, 2012, heading for Sand Products Corporation’s loading dock in Brevort, Michigan, to load sand. The pair then sailed for Sarnia, Ontario, where the tug was christened Defiance and the barge was christened Ashtabula on October 27, 2012. After the christening ceremonies, they proceeded to Buffalo, New York, to unload their cargo of sand.

The tug/barge pair Defiance / Ashtabula remain an active member of the Grand River Navigation fleet, serving the ore, coal, stone, sand, and salt trades.

Compiled By Brendan Falkowski

Updated on April 20, 2023



“Ashtabula Integrated with tug Defiance”. Rand Logistics, N.d. Accessed 8 June 2020.

Greenwood’s Guide to Great Lakes Shipping 2016, Harbor House Publishers, 2016. Pp. 4.14.

Hynes, Tom. “Ashtabula”. Great Lakes and Seaway Shipping Online. N.d. Accessed 8 June 2020.