Paul Thayer

Paul Thayer – Earl W. Oglebay – Earl W. – Manitowoc


Manitowoc on the St. Clair River, July 5, 2019. Photo by Isaac Pennock


Build Information

Year Built: 1973

Builder: American Shipbuilding Co., Lorain, OH

Hull #902

Registry: US 552395

IMO #7366398

Laid Down: —

Launch Date: October 7, 1973

Commissioned: November 15, 1973


The Paul Thayer was constructed as a self-unloading bulk carrier for Union Commerce Bank, trustee, of Cleveland, Ohio, to be managed by Kinsman Marine Transit. She was the second of three similar sister ships, the other two being the William R. Roesch [David Z. Norton, 1995; David Z. 2006; Calumet {4}, 2008;] and the Wolverine {2} [Robert S. Pierson {2}, 2008;]. They were also similar in appearance to the larger Roger M. Kyes [Adam E. Cornelius {4}, 1989; Algoma Compass, 2018;].

The Paul Thayer was built to “River Class” standards, being able to navigate the Cuyahoga and other tight rivers, delivering cargo to hard-to-reach docks.

Her self-unloading equipment consists of a single hold belt leading to an aft incline-belt system to a 260′ deck-mounted boom.


  • Cargo hold rebuilt by American Shipbuilding Co., Toledo, OH, 1978.

General Stats

Length Overall: 630′

Length Between Perpendiculars: 612’01”

Breadth: 68′

Depth: 36’11”

Loaded Draft: 26′

Capacity: 19,650 Tons

Vessel Type: Incline-Belt Self-Unloader

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

Number of Cargo Holds: 5 [Hatch-Hold Arrangement: 2-2-5-5-3]

Number of Hatches: 17 [Dimensions: 40’x11′]

Primary Operations: Ore, Coal, Stone, Trade

Propellers: 1 Controllable Pitch Propeller

Rudders: 1

Engineering Equipment



Engine Type: Diesel

Engine Manufacturer: Alco, Schenectady, NY

Engine Model: 16V251E

Number of Engines: 2

Rated HP: 5600 BHP



Paul Thayer – 1973-1976

Owner: Union Commerce Bank, Cleveland, OH [Trustee]

Operator: Kinsman Marine Transit, Cleveland, OH

Flag: United States

Home Port: Cleveland, OH

Paul Thayer – 1976-1994

Owner: Pringle Transit Co., Division of Oglebay Norton Co., Cleveland, OH

Operator: Pringle Transit Co.

Flag: United States

Home Port: Cleveland, OH

Earl W. Oglebay – 1995-2006

Owner: Oglebay Norton Co., Cleveland, OH

Operator: Oglebay Norton Co., Marine Division

Flag: United States

Home Port: Cleveland, OH

Earl W. – 2006-2008

Owner: Wisconsin Michigan Steamship Co., Cleveland, OH [Sand Products Corp.]

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

Flag: United States

Home Port: Cleveland, OH

Manitowoc – 2008-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 Paul Thayer was constructed in 1973 as a self-unloading bulk carrier for Union Commerce Bank, Trustee, of Cleveland, Ohio, to be operated by Kinsman Marine Transit. Kinsman had recently been awarded a contract to haul ore to the Jones & Laughlin Steel mill up the Cuyahoga River.

The Paul Thayer was sold in 1976 to the Pringle Transit Company, a division of the Oglebay Norton Company of Cleveland. Pringle was created to manage the Thayer and her sister William R. Roesch. The former Kinsman ships were managed by a different union than those of Oglebay Norton. Rather than switch or integrate the unions, Oglebay Norton organized a separate entity.

The Paul Thayer underwent a major cargo hold rebuilt in early 1978 at the American Shipbuilding yard in Toledo. She spent the 1992 season at the wall due to poor economic conditions.

In early 1994, Pringle Transit was dissolved and management of the Paul Thayer and William R. Roesch was transferred to Oglebay Norton. The Columbia Transportation fleet was also dissolved at this time, with their ships being transferred to Oglebay Norton as well. On March 31, 1995, the Thayer and the Roesch were renamed Earl W. Oglebay and David Z. Norton, respectively, in a joint christening ceremony at Cleveland.

Oglebay Norton filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy in February 2004. The Earl W. Oglebay and her fleetmates David Z. Norton and Wolverine were sold on August 2, 2006, to Wisconsin Michigan Steamship Company, a subsidiary of the Sand Products Corporation, owned by the McKee family. The ships were operated by Grand River Navigation. Her name was shortened to Earl W. in early 2007.

On February 13, 2008, Rand Logistics, parent company of Lower Lakes Towing and Grand River Navigation, announced that they had acquired the three ships from the Wisconsin Michigan Steamship Company. Ownership of the Earl W. was taken over by Grand River Navigation. She was renamed Manitowoc in honor of the Manitowoc River in Wisconsin.

The Manitowoc continues to serve the ore, coal, and stone trades as she has her entire life.

Compiled By Brendan Falkowski

Updated on April 23, 2020



Ahoy & Farewell II. Marine Historical Society of Detroit, 1996. Pp. 38.

Berry, Sterling P. “Thayer, Paul”. Great Lakes Vessel History: Vessel Histories of Sterling P. Berry. N.d. Accessed 23 April 2020. <>

Devendorf, John F. Great Lakes Bulk Carriers, 1869-1985. John F. Devendorf, 1996. Pp. 189.

Ferguson, Brian. “Manitowoc”. Great Lakes and Seaway Shipping Online. N.d. Accessed 23 April 2020. <>

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

“M/V Manitowoc”. Rand Logistics, N.d. Accessed 23 April 2020. <>