Stewart J. Cort

Stewart J. Cort

1972-Present

Stewart J. Cort on a flat St. Marys River, September 20, 2019. Photo by Roger LeLievre

Specs

Build Information

Bow & Stern Sections

Year Built: 1970

Builder: Ingalls Shipbuilding Division, Pascagoula, MS [Litton Industries]

Hull #1173

Laid Down: —

Launch Date: December 16, 1970

Cargo Section

Year Built: 1972

Builder: Erie Marine, Erie, PA [Litton Industries]

Hull #101

Entire Vessel

Registry: U.S. 532272

IMO #7105495

Launch Date: Early 1971

Commissioned: May 1, 1972

Construction

The Stewart J. Cort was constructed as the Great Lakes’ First 1,000′ ship. The construction practice for this massive vessel was quite unusual. The bow accomodations section and stern engine room section were constructed as one hull at Litton Industries’ Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Mississippi. Hull #1173, nicknamed “Stubby”, was built only to a 75′ width to be able to pass through the locks in the St. Lawrence Seaway. The remaining ballast tanks that would bring her to her full width of 105′ would be added at the shipyard in Erie. “Stubby” arrived at Litton’s Erie Marine in June of 1970. The cargo section of the ship was constructed at Erie. The bow and stern sections were moved to drydock where they were cut apart, and welded to their respective ends of the cargo section. The additional ballast tanks were added to the bow and stern sections, and the Stewart J. Cort was launched in early 1971. Sea Trials were conducted over the summer of 1971, but due to issues with the unloading system and bow thrusters, she did not enter service until 1972.

Her self-unloading equipment consists of a single hold belt system that feeds an aft rotary elevator, leading to a transverse shuttle boom on her stern.

The Stewart J. Cort was the first of three 1,000-Footers built for Bethlehem Steel, the other two being indentical to the other Bay Shipbuilding constructed footers. They were the Lewis Wilson Foy and the Burns Harbor.


General Stats

Length Overall: 1,000′

Length Between Perpendiculars: 988’06”

Breadth: 105′

Depth: 49′

Loaded Draft: 27’11”

Capacity: 58,000 Tons

Vessel Type: Rotary-Bucket-Elevator Self-Unloader

Self-Unloading Boom Length: Aft-Mounted Shuttle Boom, 40′

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

Number of Hatches: 18 [Dimensions: 20’x11’06”]

Primary Operations: Ore Trade

Propellers: 2 Controllable Pitch Propellers

Rudders: 2


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: 4

Rated HP: 14,400 BHP


History

Lineage

Stewart J. Cort – 1972-2000

Owner: Bethlehem Steel Corp., Cleveland OH

Operator: Bethlehem Steel Corp., Marine Division

Flag: United States

Home Port: Wilmington, DE


Stewart J. Cort – 2000-2003

Owner: — Leased to Bethlehem Steel Corp.

Operator: Bethlehem Steel Corp., Marine Division

Flag: United States

Home Port: Wilmington, DE


Stewart J. Cort – 2004-2005

Owner: — Leased to International Steel Group

Operator: International Steel Group, Cleveland, OH

Flag: United States

Home Port: Wilmington, DE


Stewart J. Cort – 2005-Present

Owner: Mass Mutual Asset Finance — Chartered to Interlake Steamship Co.

Operator: Interlake Steamship Co., Middleburg Heights, OH

Flag: United States

Home Port: Wilmington, DE


Her Story

During the late 1960’s, Litton Industries constructed a new modern shipyard at Erie, Pennsylvania, to construct ships that took full advantage of the new Poe Lock under construction at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. Litton officials approached Marine Consultants & Designers of Cleveland to develop a ship design for the highly automated shipyard. Litton signed a contract with Bethlehem Steel Corporation in 1968 to construct a 1,000′ ship for them, ordering MC&D to slightly alter their prepared design for the new ship.

The bow accomodations section and stern engine room section were constructed as one hull at Litton Industries’ Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Mississippi, beginning in 1968. Ingalls’ Hull #1173, nicknamed “Stubby”, was built only to a 75′ width to be able to pass through the locks in the St. Lawrence Seaway. The remaining ballast tanks that would bring her to her full width of 105′ would be added at the shipyard in Erie. “Stubby” arrived at Litton’s Erie Marine in June of 1970. The cargo section of the ship was already constructed at the Erie shipyard. The bow and stern sections were moved into the drydock where they were cut apart, and welded to their respective ends of the cargo section. The additional ballast tanks were added to the bow and stern sections, and the Stewart J. Cort was launched in early 1971. Sea Trials were conducted over the summer of 1971, but due to issues with the unloading system and bow thrusters, she did not enter service until 1972.

The Stewart J. Cort sailed out of Erie on her maiden voyage on May 1, 1972, headed for Taconite Harbor, Minnesota. She quickly settled into her new trade route of carrying ore from Taconite Harbor and Superior, Wisconsin to Bethlehem’s Burns Harbor mill. Since the Cort is equipped with a shuttle-type unloading boom, she is restricted to unloading in Burns Harbor.

The Stewart J. Cort has run into some trouble in her time on the lakes. She collided with the saltwater vessel Joanna at Sault Ste. Marie. Both vessel only sustained minor damage. The Cort sat out for the 1983 season at Erie, Pennsylvania, due to lack of demand. She returned to service in 1984. The Stewart J. Cort and the Edgar B. Speer broke loose from their moorings on December 2, 1985, while in layup at Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin.

The Stewart J. Cort loaded 56,251 tons of ore pellets in a whopping 3 hours and 35 minutes on July 18, 1987 at Superior, Wisconsin. This was in part thanks to her speedy ballast pumps.

The Stewart J. Cort grounded at the Burlington Northern ore dock at Superior, Wisconsin on December 30, 1993, suffering bottom damage. She also struck a pier at the Soo Locks on April 24, 1995.

The Cort was sold to an investment group in late 2000, being leased back to Bethlehem Steel. Bethlehem was struggling financially at this point in time, declaring bankruptcy on October 15, 2001. Their assets were sold to the International Steel Group in late 2003. International Steel took over operation of the Cort and her remaining fleetmate Burns Harbor as well.

In October 2002, the Stewart J. Cort was loaded with the incorrect load of taconite at Superior, Wisconsin, requiring her to unload at Indiana Harbor, a location that cannot accomodate the Cort‘s unloading system. To solve this problem, the Cort unloaded into the holds of the Sam Laud, which in turn unloaded onto the dock.

After International Steel was sold foreign in late 2004, operation and management of the Stewart J. Cort was taken over by the Interlake Steamship Company. She has remained on her primary trade route throughout all of these changes. The Cort spent the 2009 season in layup at Milwaukee due to the economic downturn. She returned to service in 2010, and continues in her shuttle of taconite pellets from Superior, Wisconsin to Burns Harbor, Indiana.


Compiled By Brendan Falkowski

Updated on April 21, 2020


Gallery


Sources

Aho, Jody L. “Stewart J. Cort”. Great Lakes and Seaway Shipping Online, N.d. Accessed 19 April 2020. <http://boatnerd.com/pictures/fleet/cort.htm>

Ahoy & Farewell II. Marine Historical Society of Detroit, 1996. Pp. 16.

Bawal, Raymond A., Jr. Superships of the Great Lakes. Inland Expressions, 2011. Pp. 8-16.

Berry, Sterling P. “Cort, Stewart J.”. Great Lakes Vessel History: Vessel Histories of Sterling P. Berry. N.d. Accessed 19 April 2020. <https://www.greatlakesvesselhistory.com/histories-by-name/c/cort-stewart-j>

Devendorf, John F. Great Lakes Bulk Carriers, 1869-1985. John F. Devendorf, 1996. Pp. 188.

Greenwood’s Guide to Great Lakes Shipping 2016, Harbor House Publishers, 2016. Pp. 4.8.

Thompson, Mark L. Queen of the Lakes. Wayne State University Press, 1994. Pp. 189-193.