Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding of Sturgeon Bay has signed an agreement with The Interlake Steamship Co. of Ohio to construct a U.S.-flagged Great Lakes bulk carrier that will be the first of its kind to be built in 35 years.
The new River-Class, self-unloading bulk carrier is believed to be the first ship for U.S. Great Lakes service built on the Great Lakes since 1983, according to a press release from Interlake and Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding, a unit of the Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri S.p.A. The ship, which will transport unpackaged raw materials to support manufacturing throughout the Great Lakes region, also represents hundreds of jobs for U.S. merchant mariners and Wisconsin shipyard workers, Fincantieri said.
The ship, measuring 639 feet long and 75 feet wide, will be constructed in Fincantieri’s Sturgeon Bay shipyard by its nearly 700 employees. The work will will generate business for partnering contractors, vendors and suppliers. Major partners include American Bureau of Shipping (ABS), Bay Engineering (BEI), EMD Engines, Caterpillar, EMS-Tech Inc., Lufkin (a GE company) and MacGregor. Construction is expected to be completed in mid-2022.
The Interlake Steamship Co., based in Middleburg Heights, Ohio, is the largest privately held U.S.-flagged fleet on the Great Lakes with nine vessels. Based on the length, the new bulk carrier will be the smallest ship in Interlake’s fleet, but the company hasn’t built a new ship in 40 years, according to Interlake president Mark Barker.