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MV Paul R. Tregurtha is a Great Lakes-based bulk carrier freighter. She is the current Queen of the Lakes, an unofficial but widely recognized title given to the longest vessel active on the Great Lakes.[1] Launched as the William J. De Lancey, she was the last of the 13 "thousand footers" to enter service on the Great Lakes, and was also the last Great Lakes vessel built at the American Ship Building Company yard in Lorain, Ohio.

Paul R. Tregurtha.jpg
MV Paul R. Tregurtha laid up over the winter in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin
United States
Name: Paul R. Tregurtha
Owner: Interlake Steamship Company
Operator: Interlake Steamship Company
Port of registry: Flag of the United States.svg Wilmington, Delaware, United States
Builder: American Ship Building Company
Yard number: 909
Laid down: July 12, 1979
Launched: February 4, 1981
Christened: April 25, 1981
Maiden voyage: May 10, 1981
Nickname(s): The Big Paul, Fancy De Lancey
Status: Operational
General characteristics
Class and type: Lake freighter
Length: 1,013.5 ft (308.9 m)
Beam: 105 ft (32 m)
Depth: 56 ft (17 m)
Installed power: 2x MaK M43C 6-Cylinder Inline Four-Stroke Diesel Engines Rated at 8,560 b.h.p each
Speed: 15.5 knots
  • Iron ore: 68,000 long tons
  • Coal: 63,616 long tons



The Interlake Steamship Company was given a contract in 1979 by its customer Republic Steel, to transport iron ore from Lake Superior ports to their steel mill at Indiana Harbor, or to their transshipment terminal at Lorain.[1]

Designed by the American Ship Building Company to fulfil two briefs:

  • Bulk carrier
  • Executive passenger transportation

With the second brief in mind, she was one of the first freighters with full air conditioning, elevators, and luxurious décor. Built in two parts, her keel was laid down on July 12, 1979, at the American Ship Building Company yard in Toledo, Ohio. On completion, the forward section was towed to their yard in Lorain, where it was mated with the stern portion. The completed hull No. 909 has a total length of 1,013 feet (309 m).[1]

Stephens-Adamson designed a loop belt elevator system, that feeds a stern mounted 79.25 meters (260.0 ft) discharge boom that can be swung 100 degrees to port or starboard. Capable of unloading at a rate of 10,000 long tons of iron ore per hour, or 6,000 net tons of coal per hour, the total system displaces 14,497 tons.[1]

Formally launched on February 4, 1981, the vessel was christened on April 25, 1981, as the William J. De Lancey, named in honor of Republic Steel's chairman who participated in the launch.[1] In 1990 she received her current name. Paul R. Tregurtha, born 1935, was the Vice Chairman of Interlake Steamship Company's Board.


The William J. De Lancey departed Lorain on her maiden voyage May 10, 1981, sailing in ballast to Silver Bay, Minnesota, to load 55,944 tons of iron ore pellets. She arrived back in Lorain on May 16, 1981. She holds a number of cargo records:[1]

  • August 7, 1982: 63,007 ton (64,019 tonne) load at Escanaba, Michigan, for Indiana Harbor
  • July 20, 1983: broke the Lorain port record delivering 61,846 tons (61,846 mt) of iron ore pellets from Escanaba. She then established a lower lakes record by loading
  • first 71 cargos totaled 4,151,398 tons (4,218,086 mt), averaging 58,450 tons (59,389 mt) per load, restricted due to the lower draft in Lorain (less draft) and Escanaba to Indiana Harbor
  • holds lower lakes record of 50,239 net tons of coal, shipped from Ashtabula, Ohio, to Consumers Power
  • 2001 season: most cargo through the Soo Locks, 3,004,957 net tons

On termination of the Republic Steel contract, on May 23, 1990, she was rechristened MV Paul R. Tregurtha at Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, named in honor of the Vice Chairman of Interlake Steamship Co. On May 3, 2002, her only captain died in his cabin, Captain Mitch Hallin, aged 55.[1]

In winter 2004, she was asked to transport a reserve of coal to Algoma Steel in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, necessitating a mid-winter voyage. Loading 43,000 net tons in Conneaut, Ohio, both United States and Canadian Coast Guard services provided ice breaking assistance so that the voyage was completed without any delays. After unloading on January 29, she departed for her normal winter lay-up in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin.[1]

She was the subject of a television program in the second series of Discovery Channel Canada's series Mighty Ships.

In 2009, while leaving Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, the Paul R Tregurtha got stuck in ice and steel plating on the port side of the bow cracked, causing ballast tank water to leak out. She underwent repairs at the MERC dock in Superior, Wisconsin. She then loaded coal at the dock and left for Detroit, Michigan.[citation needed]

2012 and 2014 grounding incidentsEdit

MV Paul R. Tregurtha aground in the outbound channel of the St. Marys River, August 15, 2012

At around 3 a.m. on August 15, 2012, as she was proceeding downbound with 62,000 tons of coal, the bow of MV Paul R. Tregurtha became grounded in the outbound channel of the St. Marys River, just North of the Neebish Island Ferry crossing, near Sault Ste. Marie. Her stern then pivoted and grounded on the opposite side of the channel, completely blocking the approach to the Rock Cut in the Lower St. Marys River.[2] With assistance from the U.S. Coast Guard, at 5:30 a.m. on August 19, two tugs with a combined 4,000 horsepower moved the stern of the ship into the middle of the channel. This enabled salvage experts to successfully raise the ship's bow by filling stern voids which reduced the amount of forward weight on the rocks, and hence refloat the vessel.[3]

During the afternoon of September 20, 2014, she was involved in an incident in Duluth, Minnesota, when she ran aground just off the Bayfront Festival Park in the Duluth Harbor Basin, just west of the Aerial Lift Bridge.[4]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "M/V Paul R. Tregurtha". Archived from the original on August 1, 2010. Retrieved August 8, 2010.
  2. ^ "1,000-foot coal freighter stuck in St. Marys River". The Detroit News. Associated Press. August 15, 2012. Retrieved August 15, 2012.[permanent dead link]
  3. ^
  4. ^ "1,000-foot Laker Stuck near Bayfront Park". The Detroit News. WDIO-DT. September 20, 2014. Retrieved September 20, 2014.

External linksEdit