Wolverine {2}

Wolverine {2} – Robert S. Pierson {2}


Robert S. Pierson on the St. Marys River, August 2, 2019. Photo by Roger LeLievre


Build Information

Year Built: 1974

Builder: American Shipbuilding Co., Lorain, OH

Hull #903

Registry: US 650339 [1974-2008] CAN 832253

IMO #7366403

Laid Down: June 1, 1973

Launch Date: September 9, 1973

Commissioned: October 15, 1974


The Wolverine was constructed as a self-unloading bulk carrier for Union Commerce Bank, trustee, of Cleveland, Ohio, to be managed by Oglebay Norton Company’s Columbia Transportation Division. She was the final of three similar sister ships, the other two being the Paul Thayer [Earl W. Oglebay, 1995; Earl W., 2006; Manitowoc, 2008;] and the William R. Roesch [David Z. Norton, 1995; David Z. 2006; Calumet {4}, 2008;]. They were also similar in appearance to the larger Roger M. Kyes [Adam E. Cornelius {4}, 1989; Algoma Compass, 2018;].

The Wolverine was constructed under Title XI of the Merchant Marine Act of 1970 at a cost of $14.1 Million. She 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.

General Stats

Length Overall: 630′

Length Between Perpendiculars: 610′

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: 4 [Hatch-Hold Arrangement: 4-5-5-3]

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

Primary Operations: Ore, Coal, Stone, Grain, Cement Clinker, Salt Trades

Propellers: 1 Controllable Pitch Propeller

Rudders: 1

Engineering Equipment



Engine Type: Diesel Engine

Engine Manufacturer: Alco, Schenectady, NY

Engine Model: 16V251E

Number of Engines: 2

Rated HP: 5600 BHP



Wolverine {2} – 1974-1994

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

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

Flag: United States

Home Port: Wilmington, DE

Wolverine {2} – 1994-2006

Owner: Oglebay Norton Co., Cleveland, OH

Operator: Oglebay Norton Co., Marine Division

Flag: United States

Home Port: Wilmington, DE

Wolverine {2} – 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: Wilmington, DE

Robert S. Pierson {2} – 2008-Present

Owner: Lower Lakes Towing, LTD., Port Dover, ON

Operator: Lower Lakes Towing LTD.

Flag: Canada

Home Port: Port Dover, ON

Her Story

The Wolverine was constructed as a self-unloading bulk carrier for the Union Commerce Bank, trustee, of Cleveland, Ohio, originally to be managed by Kinsman Marine Transit Co. This changed and the yard contract was transferred to Oglebay Norton Company’s Columbia Transportation Division, with the bank remaining on as the actual owner of the vessel. She was to operate in the Lorain-Cleveland ore shuttles.

The Wolverine departed on her maiden voyage on October 15, 1974, to load at Stoneport, Michigan. She was noted to have grounded a few times during the 1980’s and 1990’s, usually being freed with little to no damage. Of note, the Wolverine grounded on April 27, 1993 on Surveyor’s Reef off of Cedarville, Michigan. She required repairs after being freed, and proceeded to Toledo for drydocking.

In October 1994, Oglebay Norton Company assumed full ownership of the Wolverine, 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.

Oglebay Norton filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy in February 2004. The Wolverine and her fleetmates David Z. Norton and Earl W. Oglebay were sold on August 2, 2006, to Wisconsin Michigan Steamship Company, a subsidiary of the Sand Products Corporation, owned by the McKee family at a cost of $18.7 Million. The ships were operated by Grand River Navigation, under time charter, with an option to purchase the ships. The Wolverine retained her name through this sale, with the only change being that her hull was painted in Lower Lakes livery. Her superstructures remained painted in Oglebay Norton creme and red.

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. The Wolverine was transferred to Rand’s Canadian subsidiary Lower Lakes Towing while her sisters were transferred to the Grand River Navigation fleet. She was renamed Robert S. Pierson {2} after the sale, being christened on March 22, 2008.

The Robert S. Pierson {2} continues to be an active member of the Lower Lakes Towing fleet, serving the River class trades and visiting ports small and large across the Great Lakes.

Compiled By Brendan Falkowski

Updated on April 18, 2023



Ahoy & Farewell II. Marine Historical Society of Detroit, 1996. Pp. 40.

Berry, Sterling P. “Wolverine 2”. Great Lakes Vessel History: Vessel Histories of Sterling P. Berry. N.d. Accessed 11 May 2020. https://www.greatlakesvesselhistory.com/histories-by-name/w/wolverine-2

Greenwood’s Guide to Great Lakes Shipping 2016, Harbor House Publishers, 2016. Pp. 4.14.

“M/V Robert S. Pierson”. Rand Logistics, N.d. Accessed 11 May 2020. https://www.randlog.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Rand-Vessel-Profile-RSP-8-2019.pdf

Marine News. Toronto Marine Historical Society Scanner, 1974. https://www.maritimehistoryofthegreatlakes.ca/documents/scanner/07/01/default.asp?ID=c003

Wharton, George. “Robert S. Pierson (2)”. Great Lakes and Seaway Shipping Online. N.d. Accessed May 11 2020. http://boatnerd.com/pictures/fleet/robertspierson.htm