Mesabi Miner

Mesabi Miner


Mesabi Miner on the St. Marys River, June 26, 2020. Photo by Daniel Lindner


Build Information

Year Built: 1977

Builder: American Shipbuilding Co., Lorain, OH

Hull #906

Registry: U.S. 581479

IMO #7390272

Laid Down: May 15, 1975

Launch Date: February 14, 1977

Commissioned: June 14, 1977


The Mesabi Miner was constructed as a self-unloading bulk carrier for the Interlake Steamship Company. She was the fourth 1,000-Footer built, and was built under Title XI of the Merchant Marine Act of 1970 at a cost of $45.1 Million.

The Miner‘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 George D. Goble.

The Mesabi Miner was the second of four similar sister ships constructed by American Shipbuilding, the others being the James R. BarkerGeorge A. Stinson [American Spirit, 2004;], and the William J. DeLancey [Paul R. Tregurtha, 1990;].

Her self-unloading equipment consists of a triple hold belt system leading to an aft loop-belt system to a 265′ deck-mounted boom.


  • Diesel Exhaust Scrubbers installed, Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding, Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, 2017.

General Stats

Length Overall: 1004′

Length Between Perpendiculars: 990’06”

Breadth: 105′

Depth: 50′

Loaded Draft: 29’01”

Capacity: 63,300 Tons

Vessel Type: Loop-Belt Self-Unloader

Self-Unloading Boom Length: Aft-Mounted; 265′

Number of Cargo Holds: 7 [Hatch-Hold Arrangement: 5-5-5-5-5-5-6]

Number of Hatches: 36 [Dimensions: 65’x11′]

Primary Operations: Ore, Coal Trades

Propellers: 2 Controllable Pitch Propellers

Rudders: 2

Engineering Equipment



Engine Type: Diesel Engines

Engine Manufacturer: Pielstick, Beloit, WI

Engine Model: 16PC2-2V-400

Number of Engines: 2

Rated HP: 16,000 BHP



Mesabi Miner – 1977-1987

Owner: Moore-McCormack Leasing, Inc., [Owner of Pickands-Mather Co., parent company of Interlake Steamship Co.]

Operator: Interlake Steamship Co., Cleveland, OH

Flag: United States

Home Port: Wilmington, DE

Mesabi Miner – 1987-Present

Owner: Interlake Steamship Co., Middleburg Heights, OH

Operator: Interlake Steamship Co.

Flag: United States

Home Port: Wilmington, DE

Her Story

On November 19, 1973, officials at Pickands Mather, then parent company of Interlake Steamship Company, announced a contract with the American Shipbuilding Company to build two 1,000′ ships at a cost of $75 Million. These two ships, the James R. Barker and Mesabi Miner, would be the first 1,000-Footers built entirely on the Great Lakes. The concept drawings for the ships initially portrayed them as having forward pilothouses, but the design was revised later on. The new ships were also equipped with C-Loop belt style self-unloading systems with a three-belt cargo hold arrangement, to help maximize cargo space for low density cargoes like coal while remaining efficient in the iron ore trade. The ships were also equipped with an elevator and air-conditioned cabins, and boasted luxurious guest quarters.

The Mesabi Miner was constructed in multiple sections, being built by American Shipbuilding’s three shipyards at the time. The keel for the Mesabi Miner was laid on May 15, 1975, in drydock at American Shipbuilding’s Lorain, Ohio yard. The cabins for the Mesabi Miner and her older sister James R. Barker were constructed at American’s South Chicago yard, being transported to Lorain in pieces on the deck of the George D. Goble. The midbody portion of the Mesabi Miner‘s cargo hold was constructed at American Shipbuilding’s Toledo, Ohio, yard, being towed to Lorain in September 1976. The midbody was placed in drydock and joined with the bow and stern sections, as well as the remaining hull sections for the midbody of the ship.

The completed hull was launched on February 14, 1977, sailing on her maiden voyage on June 7, 1977, bound for Duluth, Minnesota for her christening ceremonies. She was christened Mesabi Miner on June 11, 1977, after the miners of Minnesota’s Mesabi Range, after a suggestion by company official Elton Hoyt III, who declined to have the ship named after himself. She shifted over to the Burlington Northern ore dock in Superior, Wisconsin, to load on June 14, 1977, becoming the first 1,000-Footer to load at that dock.

The Miner loaded the first cargo at DM&IR’s ore loading facility at Two Harbors, Minnesota in 1978. On October 24, 1979, the Mesabi Miner loaded coal at Conneaut, Ohio, becoming the first 1,000-Footer to load at that dock, for Port Washington, Wisconsin, becoming the first 1,000-Footer to visit that port. The Miner laid up in July 1983 at the Pickands-Mather dock at DeTour, Michigan, along side her sister James R. Barker, because of an economic recession. She returned to service in October.

The Mesabi Miner became the first 1,000-Footer to deliver to the Saginaw River, delivering coal to Consumers Energy’s power plant at the mouth of the Saginaw River on June 15, 1985.

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.

She ran aground in the St. Marys River on March 27, 1989, while laden with ore for Lorain, Ohio. She was freed two days later with assistance from tugboats. Like many other ships, the Miner fell victim to ice damage while operating in icy conditions. She ran aground once again on the St. Marys River on July 13, 1992, requiring drydocking for repairs afterwards.

On January 5, 2014, the Mesabi Miner collided with the USCGC Hollyhock while in a convoy in heavy ice conditions. The Miner was unable to stop and rammed the stern of the Hollyhock, causing minor damage to both ships.

The Mesabi Miner was outfitted with special diesel exhaust scrubbers as part of Interlake’s fleet improvement program. The work was completed by Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding of Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin in early 2017.

The Mesabi Miner continues to be an active member of the Interlake Steamship Company fleet, hauling iron ore and coal to ports across the Upper Great Lakes.

Compiled By Brendan Falkowski

Updated on May 20, 2020



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