Sparrows Point

Sparrows Point – Buckeye {3} – Lewis J. Kuber – Menominee {3}

1952-Present

Articulated Barge, Self-Unloading Bulk Carrier; Paired with Tugboat Olive L. Moore

Menominee / Olive L. Moore on the Saginaw River, August 3, 2019. Photo by Isaac Pennock

Specs

Build Information

Year Built: 1952

Builder: Bethlehem Shipbuilding & Drydock, Sparrows Point, MD

Hull #4505

Registry: U.S. 264391

IMO #5336351

Laid Down: —

Launch Date: April 18, 1952

Commissioned: November 16, 1952

Paired Tugboats:

Construction

The Sparrows Point was constructed in 1952 as a gearless bulk carrier by Bethlehem Shipbuilding & Drydock at their Sparrows Point, Maryland shipyard for Bethlehem’s Marine Division. Due to long waiting lists on Great Lakes shipyards, shipping companies were forced to look elsewhere to build ships. The Sparrows Point was constructed in Sparrows Point, Maryland, and after launching, her superstructures were placed on the spar deck in pieces so that she could be towed up the Mississippi River, and through Chicago. She was put together and underwent final fit-out at American Shipbuilding’s South Chicago shipyard before entering service.

The Sparrows Point was the third of three similar sister ships constructed by Bethlehem Shipbuilding & Drydock for Great Lakes service. The other two were the Johnstown [Scrapped, 1985] and Elton Hoyt 2nd [Michipicoten, 2003;].

The Sparrows Point was originally constructed as a gearless bulk carrier, with large box holds designed for maximum efficiency for carrying iron ore and coal. She was converted to a self-unloader in 1980, and her self-unloading equipment consists of a single hold belt with an aft loop-belt system feeding a 250′ deck mounted boom.

Modifications

  • Lengthened by 72′, American Shipbuilding Co., South Chicago, IL, 1958.
  • Converted to self-unloader, Fraser Shipyards, Superior, WI, 1980.
  • Bow thruster installed, 1980.
  • Converted to barge, Erie Marine, Erie, PA, 2006.

General Stats

As Constructed

Length Overall: 626′

Length Between Perpendiculars: 611′

Breadth: 70′

Depth: 37′

Loaded Draft: 26’11”

Capacity: 19,595 Tons

Vessel Type: Gearless Bulk Carrier

Number of Cargo Holds: —

Number of Hatches: 17 [Dimensions: 35’x11′]

Primary Operations: Ore, Coal Trades

Propellers: 1

Rudders: 1

After Lengthening, 1957

Length Overall: 698′

Length Between Perpendiculars: 683′

Breadth: 70′

Depth: 37′

Loaded Draft: 26’11”

Capacity: 23,350 Tons

Vessel Type: Gearless Bulk Carrier

Number of Cargo Holds: 5

Number of Hatches: 20 [Dimensions: 35’x11′]

Primary Operations: Ore, Coal Trades

Propellers: 1

Rudders: 1

After conversion to self-unloader, 1980

Length Overall: 698′

Length Between Perpendiculars: 683′

Breadth: 70′

Depth: 37′

Loaded Draft: 26’11”

Capacity: 22,300 Tons

Vessel Type: Loop-Belt Self-Unloader

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

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

Number of Hatches: 20 [Dimensions: #1-18 – 35’x11′; #19-20 – 35’x7’06”]

Primary Operations: Ore, Coal, Stone Trades

Propellers: 1

Rudders: 1

After conversion to a barge, 2006

Length Overall [Combined Tug & Barge]: 728′

Length Overall [Barge]: 616′

Length Between Perpendiculars: 601′

Breadth: 70′

Depth: 37′

Loaded Draft: 26’11”

Capacity: 22,300 Tons

Vessel Type: Loop Belt Self-Unloader; Articulated Barge

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

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

Number of Hatches: 20 [Dimensions: #1-18 – 35’x11′; #19-20 – 35’x7’06”]

Primary Operations: Stone Trade


Engineering Equipment [Removed, 2006]

Original

Engine

Engine Type: Steam Turbine

Engine Manufacturer: Bethlehem Shipbuilding, Sparrows Point, MD

Engine Model: Double reduction-geared Cross Compound Steam Turbine

Number of Engines: 1

Rated HP: 7700 SHP


Boiler

Boiler Type: Oil-Fired Water Tube Boiler

Boiler Manufacturer: Foster-Wheeler, Baar, Switzerland

Boiler Size: 17760 sq. ft.

Number of Boilers: 2


History

Lineage

Sparrows Point – 1952-1991

Owner: Bethlehem Steel Corp., Great Lakes Steamship Division, Cleveland, OH

Operator: Bethlehem Steel Corp., Great Lakes Steamship Division

Flag: United States

Home Port: Wilmington, DE


Buckeye {3} – 1991-1994

Owner: Columbia Transportation Division, Oglebay Norton Co., Cleveland, OH

Operator: Columbia Transportation Divison

Flag: United States

Home Port: Wilmington, DE


Buckeye {3} – 1994-2005

Owner: Oglebay Norton Company, Cleveland, OH

Operator: Oglebay Norton Company

Flag: United States

Home Port: Wilmington, DE


Buckeye {3} – 2005-2006

Owner: Buckeye Holdings LLC, Menominee, MI

Operator: Buckeye Holdings LLC

Flag: United States

Home Port: Menominee, MI


Lewis J. Kuber – 2006-2011

Owner: K&K Integrated Logistics, Menominee, MI

Operator: K&K Integrated Logistics

Flag: United States

Home Port: Menominee, MI


Lewis J. Kuber – 2011-2017

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

Operator: Grand River Navigation Co.

Flag: United States

Home Port: Cleveland, OH


Menominee {3} – 2017-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 Sparrows Point was constructed in 1952 as a gearless bulk carrier by Bethlehem Shipbuilding & Drydock at their Sparrows Point, Maryland shipyard for Bethlehem’s Marine Division. Due to long waiting lists on Great Lakes shipyards, shipping companies were forced to look elsewhere to build ships. The Sparrows Point was constructed in Sparrows Point, Maryland, and after launching, her superstructures were placed on the spar deck in pieces so that she could be towed up the Mississippi River, and through Chicago. She was put together and underwent final fit-out at American Shipbuilding’s South Chicago shipyard before entering service.

The Sparrows Point was launched at Sparrows Point, Maryland, on April 18, 1952. Soon after, her superstructures were dismantled and placed on her spar deck, and she was towed up the Mississippi River system to South Chicago, Illinois, where her superstructure was completed and she underwent final fit out at American Shipbuilding Company’s yard. She entered service on November 16, 1952, departing South Chicago to load iron ore at Superior, Wisconsin.

It was found that even though the Sparrows Point was one of the largest vessels on the lakes, she could be a more efficient carrier after a lengthening. She was sent back to American Shipbuilding’s South Chicago, Illinois yard, at the end of the 1957 season, where she would be lengthened by 72′ over the winter. The Sparrows Point was placed in drydock, where she was cut in half just aft of midship, and her stern section floated out of the drydock. The new 72′ long mid-body was floated in and lined up with the bow, followed by the stern section, and the sections were welded together. She returned to service at the beginning of the 1958 season.

On September 1, 1976, the Sparrows Point damaged her rudder while backing away from an ore dock at Duluth, Minnesota, requiring a tow to Superior, Wisconsin, for repairs to her rudder. She ran aground on the St. Lawrence Seaway near the Beauharnois Canal in December of 1977. After unloading her cargo, she laid up early for the winter to receive repairs.

In late 1979, the Sparrows Point laid up at Fraser Shipyards in Superior, Wisconsin, where her cargo hold bottom was removed and new sloped sections were lowered through her cargo hatches and welded together. Conveyor belts running lengthwise of the ship were installed in the hold. A loop-belt elevator system was installed just forward of the aft deckhouse with a 250’ cargo boom to deliver the cargo to the dock. She returned to service for the 1980 season.

By the late 1980’s, the Sparrows Point was made obsolete by her larger, more efficient fleetmates. On July 16, 1990, Bethlehem Steel announced plans to sell the Sparrows Point and her fleetmate Lewis Wilson Foy to Oglebay Norton’s Columbia Transportation Division. The deal was finalized later that year, and the Sparrows Point was repainted in Columbia Transportation colors and renamed Buckeye {3} in March 1991. In October 1994, Oglebay Norton Company assumed full ownership of the Buckeye, after the Columbia Transportation Division was dissolved. The Oglebay Norton logo was applied to the bow of the ship as well as the stacks soon after the restructuring.

On April 6, 1996, the Buckeye suffered ice damage while sailing downbound off of the Rock of Ages lighthouse near Isle Royale in Lake Superior. She then proceeded to Thunder Bay, Ontario, to unload her cargo into her fleetmate Fred R. White Jr., but in the process, the White sustained ice damage, requiring repairs as well. The Buckeye changed course for Sault Ste. Marie, unloading her cargo into her fleetmate Courtney Burton on April 7 on the St. Marys River before heading back to Superior, Wisconsin, for repairs.

On October 10, 1999, a crew member aboard the Buckeye fell overboard after the ship rolled, while sailing near the Keweenaw Peninsula on Lake Superior. He then swam to nearby Eagle Harbor, where he found shelter. The crew of the Buckeye rescued two men stranded on a sinking bass boat on Lake Erie on July 30, 2001.

The Buckeye spent the early 2000’s in sporadic layup, not even sailing at all for the 2003 and most of the 2004 seasons. Oglebay Norton filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy in February 2004.  After grounding near Port Inland, Michigan, on December 20, 2004, she laid up at Toledo, Ohio for the final time in Oglebay Norton colors.

The Buckeye was sold to Buckeye Holdings LLC, under the ownership of K&K Warehousing of Menominee, Michigan, on November 29, 2004. K&K planned to convert the vessel to a barge, having her towed to Erie marine at Erie, Pennsylvania, on December 4, 2005. She was placed in drydock in February 2006, and her cabins were cut off, engine removed, and a notch cut into her stern for a tug to push her. She was renamed Lewis J. Kuber, being paired with the veteran tug Olive L. Moore upon the completion of her conversion. The barge was fitted with a Hydraconn Articulated Tug-Barge system rack to connect with the tug. The pair entered service in September of 2006 for K&K Integrated Logistics.

In February 2011, Rand Logistics announced that they had acquired the vessels of the K&K Integrated Logistics fleet, those being their two Articulated tug-barge units, Lewis J. Kuber / Olive L. Moore and James L. Kuber / Victory. The tug-barge units were placed under the ownership of Rand’s Grand River Navigation Company. Part of the agreement was that the barges must keep their names for five years after the purchase.

The Lewis J. Kuber was renamed Menominee in May 2017. She remains paired with the tug Olive L. Moore, though rumors indicate that the tug Invincible is to be reconstructed to be paired with the barge. Nothing has moved forward with this project. The Menominee / Olive L. Moore continue to be active members of the Grand River Navigation fleet, serving the stone trades.


Compiled By Brendan Falkowski

Updated on July 7, 2020


Gallery


Sources

Berry, Sterling P. “Sparrows Point”. Great Lakes Vessel History: Vessel Histories of Sterling P. Berry. N.d. Accessed 1 July 2020. <https://www.greatlakesvesselhistory.com/histories-by-name/s/sparrows-point>

Devendorf, John F. Great Lakes Bulk Carriers, 1869-1985. John F. Devendorf, 1996. Pp. 172.

Greenwood’s Guide to Great Lakes Shipping 2016, Harbor House Publishers, 2016. Pp. 4.11.

“Menominee Integrated with tug Olive L. Moore”. Rand Logistics, N.d. Accessed 7 July 2020. <https://www.randlog.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Rand-Vessel-Profile-MEN-8-2019.pdf>

Wharton, George “Menominee {3}”. Great Lakes and Seaway Shipping Online, N.d. Accessed 7 July 2020. <http://boatnerd.com/pictures/fleet/Menominee3.htm>