J. L. Mauthe

J. L. Mauthe – Pathfinder {2}


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

Pathfinder / Dorothy Ann, St. Marys River, 5/29/2021. Roger LeLievre


Build Information

Year Built: 1953

Builder: Great Lakes Engineering Works, River Rouge, MI

Hull #298

Registry: U.S. 263748

IMO #5166768

Laid Down: February 15, 1951

Launch Date: June 21, 1952

Commissioned: April 2, 1953

Paired Tugboats:


The J. L. Mauthe was constructed in 1953 as a gearless bulk carrier by the Great Lakes Engineering Works at their River Rouge, Michigan, shipyard for the Interlake Steamship Company of Cleveland, Ohio. She was a member of the AAA Class, or the “Pittsburgh” Class, originally designed for the Pittsburgh Steamship Division of U.S. Steel. The AAA Class ships were designed with refined hull streamlining and an asymmetrical stern to help improve water flow to the propeller. Adding to this, the rudder was slightly offset for more efficiency. All vessels of the class were originally 647’ long, 70’ wide, and 36’ deep with a cargo capacity of about 21,000 tons. The AAA ships were outfitted with oil fired boilers that provided steam for a large Westinghouse geared steam turbine, giving them around 7,000 HP. These engines pushed the ships along at around 16 MPH, making a round trip in just over 5 days, an improvement over the 6-7 day passages by older vessels. There were also some minor differences between the American Shipbuilding and Great Lakes Engineering Works units, those being that the Great Lakes Engineering ships had a slightly larger pilothouse but a slightly lower gross registered tonnage.

The Mauthe was one of eight ships built along the AAA class lines, the others being her near identical sisters Arthur M. AndersonCason J. CallawayPhilip R. Clarke, Reserve, and William Clay Ford, and the near-identical Armco and Edward B. Greene. The Mauthe was distinguished from her sisters by her different forward cabin arrangement and her much smaller poop deck house, which was just a small fan house beneath the stack.

The J. L. Mauthe was originally constructed as a gearless bulk carrier, being designed with large box holds to make her an efficient carrier in the iron ore trade. She was converted to a self-unloading barge in 1997, and her self-unloading equipment consists of a single hold belt leading to an aft loop-belt system feeding a 250′ deck-mounted boom.


  • Bow thruster installed, 1965.
  • Converted into a self-unloading articulated barge, Bay Shipbuilding, Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, 1997.
  • Cargo hold slopes added, 1999.

General Stats

As Constructed

Length Overall: 647′

Length Between Perpendiculars: 629’03”

Breadth: 70′

Depth: 36′

Loaded Draft: 26’02”

Capacity: 21,000 Tons

Vessel Type: Gearless Bulk Carrier

Number of Cargo Holds: 3 [Hatch-Hold Arrangement: 6-7-6]

Number of Hatches: 19 [Dimensions: 46’x11′]

Primary Operations: Ore Trade

Propellers: 1

Rudders: 1

After Conversion to a Self-Unloader Barge, 1998

Length Overall [Combined Tug & Barge]: 700’02”

Length Overall [Barge]: 606’02”

Length Between Perpendiculars: 580’07”

Breadth: 70′

Depth: 36′

Loaded Draft: 26’03”

Capacity: 26,700 Tons

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

Self-Unloading Boom Length: Aft-Mounted; 260′

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

Number of Hatches: 18 [Dimensions: 46’x11′]

Primary Operations: Ore, Stone, Salt Trades

Engineering Equipment [Removed, 1998]



Engine Type: Steam Turbine

Engine Manufacturer: Westinghouse Electric Co., Pittsburgh, PA

Engine Model: Double-Reduction Geared Steam Turbine

Number of Engines: 1

Rated HP: 7700 SHP


Boiler Type: Oil-Fired Water Tube Boilers

Boiler Manufacturer: Foster-Wheeler, Baar, Switzerland

Boiler Size: 15466 sq. ft.

Number of Boilers: 2



J. L. Mauthe – 1953-1966

Owner: Interlake Steamship Co., Cleveland, OH [Pickands Mather & Co.]

Operator: Interlake Steamship Co.

Flag: United States

Home Port: Wilmington, DE

J. L. Mauthe – 1966-1973

Owner: Pickands Mather & Co., Cleveland, OH

Operator: Interlake Steamship Co., Cleveland, OH [Pickands Mather & Co.]

Flag: United States

Home Port: Wilmington, DE

J. L. Mauthe – 1973-1987

Owner: Interlake Steamship Co., Cleveland, OH [Pickands Mather & Co.]

Operator: Interlake Steamship Co.

Flag: United States

Home Port: Wilmington, DE

J. L. Mauthe – 1987-1998

Owner: Interlake Steamship Co., Middleburg Heights, OH

Operator: Interlake Steamship Co.

Flag: United States

Home Port: Wilmington, DE

Pathfinder {2} – 1998-Present

Owner: Interlake Steamship Co., Middleburg Heights, OH

Operator: Interlake Steamship Co.

Flag: United States

Home Port: Cleveland, OH

Her Story

In 1950, the Interlake Steamship Company signed a contract with the Great Lakes Engineering Works of River Rouge, Michigan, to construct a variation of an AAA class ship. The new vessel would have a slightly different forward cabin arrangement as well as a much smaller aft poop deck house, consisting of only a fan room beneath the stack.

The keel for the new vessel was laid on February 15, 1951 at the River Rouge yard, being christened J. L. Mauthe and launched into the waters of the Detroit River on June 21, 1952. The Mauthe was completed by December 1, 1952, but since it was the end of the shipping season, she did not enter service until April 2, 1953, when she departed Detroit bound for Duluth, Minnesota, to load iron ore. She soon settled into her usual trade route, hauling ore from Duluth/Superior to several lower Lakes ports.

In 1965, a bow thruster was installed to increase her maneuverability. By 1979, the Mauthe was the only member of the AAA class to not be modified, as all of her sisters had been lengthened by 120′, and one was in the process of being converted into a self-unloader. With the economic downturn of the 1980’s, the Mauthe shifted over to primarily serving the grain trade.

In 1987, Interlake Steamship Company was purchased from their parent company by James R. Barker, who thus became chairman of the board, remaining in that position today.

After transiting the St. Lawrence Seaway with a load of grain for Montreal, Quebec in June of 1993, the Mauthe sailed light up to Superior, Wisconsin, where she was laid up on July 5, 1993.

In early 1996, Interlake Steamship Company began making plans for rebuilding the Mauthe into a self-unloading barge, with design work being done by Northeast Technical Services and Interlake’s own design staff. The project was put into motion on December 31, 1996, when the tug John Purves towed the idle J. L. Mauthe out of her layup berth in Superior, bound for Bay Shipbuilding in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. After encountering heavy ice on Lake Superior and the St. Marys River, the tow arrived at Sturgeon Bay on January 7, 1997.

While at the shipyard, the Mauthe‘s stern and engine room were cut down, and her engine and boilers removed. A notch for a tugboat was fabricated where her engine compartment used to be, and a Hydraconn Articulated Tug-Barge system rack to connect with the tug. Her cargo hold bottom was removed to install conveyor belts running lengthwise of the ship in the hold. A loop-belt elevator system was installed just forward of the notch with a 260’ cargo boom to deliver the cargo to the dock. Since she was designed to have a flat cargo hold bottom rather than sloped holds, two front-end loaders were placed in the hold to move cargo to the belt system. The loaders would be stowed in garages in the forward end of the hold. Her cargo elevator was designed to be a smaller radius loop belt to make her elevator casing shorter.

A new tugboat was also being constructed simultaneously to push the Mauthe. She would not be completed for another year after the barge would be ready, so Interlake contracted VanEnkevort Tug & Barge to push the Mauthe for the 1998 and part of the 1999 season.

Prior to entering service, the J. L. Mauthe was renamed Pathfinder {2}. The tug Joyce L. VanEnkevort arrived at the shipyard and connected to Pathfinder on March 20, 1998, and the pair entered service on March 21, 1998, heading out of Sturgeon Bay bound for Escanaba, Michigan, to load iron ore. In 1997, the pair became the longest ship to traverse the Cuyahoga River at 710′ long when connected.

Over the winter of 1998/1999, cargo hold slopes were installed in the Pathfinder to help ease unloading.

On June 23, 1999, the Pathfinder was paired with her tug Dorothy Ann for the first time, and the pair headed to Escanaba from Sturgeon Bay to load iron ore. The Pathfinder / Dorothy Ann were christened at the Cleveland Port Authority Docks on June 28, 1999.

The Pathfinder / Dorothy Ann operate primarily in the ore and stone trades, running ore shuttles up the Cuyahoga river and hauling stone out of northern Lake Huron ports. Since the 2019 season, the Pathfinder has been hauling more salt cargoes as well, fulfilling Interlake’s salt contracts with Cargill and Compass Minerals until the arrival of their new ship Mark W. Barker.

Compiled By Brendan Falkowski

Updated on August 3, 2020


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Devendorf, John F. Great Lakes Bulk Carriers, 1869-1985. John F. Devendorf, 1996. Pp. 170.

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