McKee Sons

Marine Angel – McKee Sons

1945-Present

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

McKee Sons on the St. Marys River, June 18, 2011. Photo by Roger LeLievre

Specs

Build Information

Stern Section

Year Built: 1945

Builder: Sun Shipbuilding & Drydock, Chester, Pennsylvania

Hull #354

Registry: U.S. 247490

Laid Down: —

Launch Date: —

Commissioned: April 7, 1945

Forebody

Year Built: 1952

Builder: Ingalls Shipbuilding, Pascagoula, MS

Hull #578

Laid Down: —

Launch Date: November 20, 1952

Entire Vessel

Registry: U.S. 247490

IMO #5216458

Commissioned: October 28, 1953

Paired Tugboats:

Construction

The USNS Marine Angel was constructed in 1944 as a C4-S-B2 cargo/troop ship by Sun Shipbuilding & Dry Dock at Chester, Pennsylvania, for the U. S. Maritime Commission for service in World War II.

In 1952, the Marine Angel was rebuilt as a Great Lakes Bulk carrier by Maryland Dry Dock and Manitowoc Shipbuilding. She was renamed McKee Sons. She was one of two C4’s converted into Great Lakes bulk carriers, the other being the bulk carrier Joseph H. Thompson. Another C4, the Marine Star, was converted to a passenger liner for Great Lakes service and renamed Aquarama.

The McKee Sons was originally converted to self-unloading bulk carrier, featuring a forward mounted bucket elevator style self-unloading system to make her efficient in the ore, coal, stone, and sand trades. She was converted into a in 1991.

Modifications

  • Converted into a Great Lakes Bulk Carrier, Maryland Dry Dock, Baltimore, Maryland / Manitowoc Shipbuilding Company, Manitowoc, Wisconsin, 1953.
  • Bow thruster installed, 1976.
  • Converted into self-unloading barge, Upper Lakes Towing, Escanaba, Michigan, 1991.

General Stats

As Constructed as a C4-S-B2 Cargo Ship

Length Overall: 520′

Length Between Perpendiculars: 496′

Breadth: 71’06”

Depth: 43’06”

Loaded Draft: —

Capacity: 11,757 Gross Tons, 8182 Net Tons

Vessel Type: Cargo/Troop Ship

Propellers: 1

Rudders: 1

After Conversion to a Self-Unloading Great Lakes Bulk Carrier, 1953

Length Overall: 633′

Length Between Perpendiculars: 619’10”

Breadth: 71’06”

Depth: 38’06”

Loaded Draft: 27’05”

Capacity: 18,400 Tons

Vessel Type: Bucket Elevator Self-Unloader

Number of Cargo Holds: 6 [Hatch-Hold Arrangement: 5-6-4-5-5-3]

Number of Hatches: 28 [Dimensions: 46’x9′]

Primary Operations: Ore, Coal, Stone, Sand Trades

Propellers: 1

Rudders: 1

After Conversion to a Barge, 1990

Length Overall [Combined Tug & Barge]: —

Length Overall [Barge]: 579’02”

Length Between Perpendiculars: 555’04”

Breadth: 71’06”

Depth: 38’06”

Loaded Draft: 27’05”

Capacity: 18,400 Tons

Vessel Type: Bucket Elevator Self-Unloader

Number of Cargo Holds: 6 [Hatch-Hold Arrangement: 5-6-4-5-5-3]

Number of Hatches: 28 [Dimensions: 46’x9′]

Primary Operations: Ore, Coal, Stone, Sand Trades


Engineering Equipment [Removed, 1991]

Original

Engine

Engine Type: Steam Turbine

Engine Manufacturer: General Electric Co., Boston, MA

Engine Model: Double Reduction-Geared Cross-Compound Steam Turbine

Number of Engines: 1

Rated HP: 9900 SHP


Boiler

Boiler Type: oil-fired Water Tube Boilers

Boiler Manufacturer: Babcock & Wilcox, Akron, OH

Boiler Size: 12,488 sq. ft.

Number of Boilers: 2


History

Lineage

Marine Angel – 1945-1947

Owner: U.S. Maritime Commission

Operator: Moore-McCormack Lines, New York, NY

Flag: United States

Home Port: —


Marine Angel – 1947-1951

Owner: U.S. Maritime Commission

Operator: —

Flag: United States

Home Port: —


Marine Angel – 1951-1951

Owner: Wisconsin & Michigan Steamship Co., Milwaukee, WI [Sand Products Corporation]

Operator: —

Flag: United States

Home Port: —


McKee Sons – 1951-1990

Owner: Amerisand Steamship Co., Cleveland, Ohio [Owned equally by Sand Products Corp., Muskegon, MI & American Steamship Co., Buffalo, NY]

Operator: American Steamship Co., Buffalo, NY

Flag: United States

Home Port: Wilmington, DE


McKee Sons – 1990-2000

Owner: Lake Service Shipping, Muskegon, MI [Sand Products Corp.]

Operator: Upper Lakes Towing, Escanaba, MI [VanEnkevort]

Flag: United States

Home Port: Escanaba, MI


McKee Sons – 2000-2014

Owner: Lake Service Shipping, Muskegon, MI [Sand Products Corp.]

Operator: Grand River Navigation, Traverse City, MI [Rand Logistics]

Flag: United States

Home Port: Cleveland, OH


McKee Sons – 2014-Present

Owner: Lake Service Shipping, Muskegon, MI [Sand Products Corporation]

Operator: —

Flag: United States

Home Port: Cleveland, OH


Her Story

The USNS Marine Angel was constructed in 1945 by Sun Shipbuilding & Drydock of Chester, Pennsylvania, as a cargo/troop ship for the United States Maritime Commission for service in World War II. She was chartered to Moore-McCormack Lines, being delivered on April 7, 1945. She began operations from U.S. east coast ports to Le Havre, Cherbourg, and Marseilles, France. By October 1945, she headed eastbound through the Suez canal to trade routes from east Asian ports to Seattle, WA. Marine Angel was laid up in the James River Reserve fleet on March 20, 1947.

With the onset of the Korean War, the need for new capacity in the Great Lakes fleet increased. Great Lakes shipyards were booked solid, and shipping fleets had to look to other sources to find new vessels. On December 29, 1950, Sand Products Corporation, through their subsidiary Wisconsin & Michigan Steamship Co., entered talks with the U.S. Maritime Commission to purchase three C4 cargo ships from the James River Reserve Fleet that were made available through the Great Lakes Vessel Sales Act of 1950. The sale was completed on June 29, 1951, and the Marine Angel was held under the custody of the Maritime Administration for the time being.

In October 1951, ownership of the Marine Angel was transferred to Amersand Steamship Co., a 50/50 partnership between American Steamship Co. and Sand Products Corp. As part of the agreement, American Steamship Co. would manage the vessel. Soon after, Marine Angel was taken to the Maryland Dry Dock shipyard in Baltimore, Maryland, to begin her conversion. She was then placed in drydock, where she was cut in half just aft of her midship pilothouse and accommodations, where her forebody was removed for scrapping. Her after cargo section was then reconstructed for Great Lakes service, and her stern and engine room were refurbished. A new midbody and bow section were constructed by Ingalls Shipbuilding of Pascagoula, MS, and towed to the shipyard to be welded onto the stern. The deckhouses and stack were placed on the spar deck for her trip up the Mississippi River. She was then towed up the Mississippi River and to Manitowoc, Wisconsin, where her self-unloading equipment was installed by Manitowoc Shipbuilding. After final fit-out, the new ship, renamed McKee Sons, sailed on her maiden voyage on October 28, 1953, loading limestone at Port Inland, MI, for delivery to Indiana Harbor, IN.

The McKee Sons was laid up for the final time as a powered vessel on December 21, 1979 at Toledo, Ohio, where she would sit idle for the next decade. In 1990, ownership was transferred to Lake Service Shipping, under the ownership of Sand Products Corporation. Upper Lakes Towing of Escanaba, Michigan, was contracted to convert the steamer into an articulated barge. She was towed out of Toledo on January 4, 1991, bound for Menominee, Michigan, where her stern was cut down and a notch for a tug was constructed where her engine room was previously located. After being drydocked at Bay Shipbuilding, she was taken to Escanaba, Michigan, for final fit-out in early 1992. The McKee Sons entered service in 1992 with the tug Olive L. Moore, operating under charter to Upper Lakes Towing.

The McKee Sons ran aground on the Saginaw River twice during the 1990’s, receiving minor damage.

In late 1999, the charter to Upper Lakes Towing was terminated, and Grand River Navigation of Traverse City, Michigan, chartered the McKee Sons and paired her with their recently-purchased tug Invincible. The barge was fitted with the receiving end of the Bludworth style Articulated Tug-Barge system to be mated with her tug. The pair entered service together on September 4, 2000.

The McKee Sons / Invincible were laid up at Erie, Pennsylvania in late 2012 after it was decided that the repairs needed aboard the barge were too costly at the time to be justified. The charter to Grand River Navigation was terminated in late 2014, and the tug pushed the McKee Sons to Muskegon, Michigan, where the barge was laid up on December 20, 2014. The tug Invincible then proceeded to Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, for continued layup.


Compiled By Brendan Falkowski

Updated on April 14, 2021


Gallery


Sources

Ahoy & Farewell Revised Edition, Marine Historical Society of Detroit, 2001. Pp. 23-24.

Berry, Sterling P. “McKee Sons”. Great Lakes Vessel History: Vessel Histories of Sterling P. Berry. N.d. Accessed 3 August 2020. <https://www.greatlakesvesselhistory.com/histories-by-name/m/mckee-sons>

Devendorf, John F. Great Lakes Bulk Carriers, 1869-1985. John F. Devendorf, 1996. Pp. 173.

Greenwood’s Guide to Great Lakes Shipping 2016, Harbor House Publishers, 2016. Pp. 4.13.

Wharton, George. “McKee Sons”. Great Lakes & Seaway Shipping Online. N.d. Accessed 3 August 2020. <http://boatnerd.com/pictures/fleet/McKeeSons.htm>