Joseph L. Block

Joseph L. Block

1976-Present

Joseph L. Block on the St. Marys River, September 12, 2018. Photo by Roger LeLievre

Specs

Build Information

Year Built: 1976

Builder: Bay Shipbuilding Corp., Sturgeon Bay, WI

Hull #715

Registry: U.S. 574870

IMO #7502320

Laid Down: —

Launch Date: February 26, 1976

Commissioned: August 15, 1976

Construction

The Joseph L. Block was constructed as a self-unloading bulk carrier for Inland Steel Company. She was the only vessel built for Inland Steel under Title XI of the Merchant Marine Act of 1970.

The Joseph L. Block was the third of four similar sister ships, the others being the Charles E. Wilson, H. Lee White, and American Mariner. The following ships were each slightly longer versions of the Charles E. Wilson, with the Block being 48′ longer than the Wilson and 24′ longer than the White. The Joseph L. Block and the American Mariner were the closest to being identical, with the main differences being that the Mariner‘s forecastle is raked forward by 2’, and that she lacks the larger guest accommodations of the Block.

Her self-unloading equipment consists of a single hold belt leading to an aft-incline belt system to a 250′ deck-mounted boom.


General Stats

Length Overall: 728′

Length Between Perpendiculars: 714′

Breadth: 78′

Depth: 45′

Loaded Draft: 30’11”

Capacity: 37,200 Tons

Vessel Type: Incline-Belt Self-Unloader

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

Number of Cargo Holds: 7 [Hatch-Hold Arrangement: 3-3-3-4-4-4-3]

Number of Hatches: 24 [Dimensions: 44’x11”]

Primary Operations: Ore, Stone Trades

Propellers: 1 Controllable Pitch Propeller

Rudders: 1


Engineering Equipment

Original

Engine

Engine Type: Diesel Engine

Engine Manufacturer: General Motors Electro-Motive Division, Chicago, IL

Engine Model: 20-645-E7

Number of Engines:

Rated HP: 7000 BHP


History

Lineage

Joseph L. Block – 1976-1998

Owner: Inland Steel Company, Chicago, IL

Operator: Inland Steel Co.

Flag: United States

Home Port: Indiana Harbor, IN


Joseph L. Block – 1998-2008

Owner: Indiana Harbor Steamship Co., Griffith, IN

Operator: Central Marine Logistics, Griffith, IN [chartered to Ispat International]

Flag: United States

Home Port: Indiana Harbor, IN


Joseph L. Block – 2008-2020

Owner: Indiana Harbor Steamship Company, Griffith, IN

Operator: Central Marine Logistics, Griffith, IN [chartered to Arcelor Mittal]

Flag: United States

Home Port: Indiana Harbor, IN


Joseph L. Block – 2020-Present

Owner: Indiana Harbor Steamship Company, Griffith, IN

Operator: Central Marine Logistics, Griffith, IN [chartered to Cleveland-Cliffs]

Flag: United States

Home Port: Indiana Harbor, IN


Her Story

The Joseph L. Block was built in 1976 as a self-unloading bulk carrier for Inland Steel. She was launched on February 26, 1976 at Sturgeon bay, Wisconsin, and christened on June 29, 1976. The Block sailed on her maiden voyage light for Escanaba, Michigan to load ore for Inland’s mill at Indiana Harbor, Indiana. This would be a common trade route for the Block up until the Escanaba ore dock’s closing in April 2017. The Block would prove to be the only Inland Steel freighter to have an aft pilothouse, and would also have the largest cargo capacity of the fleet.

The Joseph L. Block rubbed the bottom of the St. Marys River on October 12, 1990, requiring drydocking and repairs at Fraser Shipyards in Superior, Wisconsin. She also suffered early season ice damage during the 1996 and 1997 season. The Joseph L. Block closed the 1997 season at the Soo Locks on January 14, 1998.

In 1998, Inland Steel was purchased by Dutch steelmaker Ispat International, taking over Inland Steel operations on July 15, 1998. Inland’s fleet was in turn sold to Indiana Harbor Steamship Co. to remain Jones Act-compliant. The vessels were operated by Central Marine Logistics, being chartered by Ispat until 2008 when Ispat was involved in a European steel manufacturer merger. The vessels were then chartered by Arcelor Mittal, the resulting firm of the merger.

The Joseph L. Block continues to be an active member of the Central Marine Logistics fleet, hauling ore and limestone to supply the Arcelor Mittal mills and various docks around the lakes.


Compiled By Brendan Falkowski

Updated on May 14, 2020


Gallery


Sources

Ahoy & Farewell II. Marine Historical Society of Detroit, 1996. Pp. 8.

Berry, Sterling P. “Block, Joseph L.”. Great Lakes Vessel History: Vessel Histories of Sterling P. Berry. N.d. Accessed 12 May 2020. <https://www.greatlakesvesselhistory.com/histories-by-name/b/block-joseph-l>

Devendorf, John F. Great Lakes Bulk Carriers, 1869-1985. John F. Devendorf, 1996. Pp. 190.

Greenwood’s Guide to Great Lakes Shipping 2016, Harbor House Publishers, 2016. Pp. 4.6.

Reaume, Earl J., Jr. U.S. Freighters of the Great Lakes. Border Publishing, 2000. Pp. 32-33.

Wharton, George. “Joseph L. Block”. Great Lakes and Seaway Shipping Online. N.d. Accessed 12 May 2020. <http://boatnerd.com/pictures/fleet/jlblock.htm>