STURGEON BAY, WISCONSIN: Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding and The Interlake Steamship Company hosted a ceremonial first-cut-of-steel event Wednesday, celebrating the historic start of construction on the first U.S.-flagged Great Lakes bulk carrier built in more than 35 years.
After careful preparation by Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding’s blast and prime team, its fabrication team prepped and then cut the steel with automated precision within the shipyard’s largest fabrication building in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin.
“The first cut of steel is a major milestone that signifies we, along with Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding, are ready to begin production on this historic project,” says Interlake President Mark W. Barker. “We are extremely proud to build our company’s first ship since 1981 on these freshwater shores with the hardworking women and men who help power our industry and with American-made steel from the iron ore we carry on our U.S. flag fleet vessels. It’s a true Great Lakes success story.”
“Our workforce is very proud to begin construction on what will become a “homeport ship” so to speak,” says Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding’s Vice President and General Manager Todd Thayse. “This large-scale bulk carrier will be built on the Great Lakes and operate right here on the Great Lakes, which creates a sense of local and regional pride. Today’s ceremony with Interlake was a great way to demonstrate how excited and appreciative we are for their continued confidence in the quality of our work.”
The first plate of steel used in the ceremony was sourced from ArcelorMittal’s Burns Harbor steelworks location. ArcelorMittal is the premiere steel provider for the project.
“ArcelorMittal is privileged to serve as a steel supplier for the newest bulk carrier on the Great Lakes,” says Gary Mohr, Vice President of Supply Chain Management at ArcelorMittal USA. “The expansion of Interlake’s fleet will further support water commerce and the movement of raw materials using the safest, most efficient and environmentally friendly method of transportation. The construction of a new bulk carrier is a great example of how the steelmaking process comes full circle.”
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. Measuring 639 feet in length (78 feet W, 45 feet H, 28,000 DWT), the ship will transport raw materials to support manufacturing throughout the Great Lakes region. The Interlake Steamship Company, Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding and Bay Engineering are jointly designing the bulk carrier, complete with advanced vessel and unloading systems automation.
Scheduled for completion in mid-2022, the carrier will be built by Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding’s nearly 700 skilled trade workers and will generate business for partnering contractors, vendors and suppliers. Major partners for the project include: American Bureau of Shipping (ABS); Bay Engineering (BEI); EMD Engines; Caterpillar; EMS-Tech, Inc.; Lufkin (a GE Company) and MacGregor.
“The Interlake Steamship Company is always proud to build locally, supporting surrounding communities and states – a legacy that we began more than 100 years ago,” Barker says. “We live and work in the Great Lakes region, and promoting growth and the positive economic impact of Great Lakes shipping is integral to our mission and vision as a leader in this industry.”
Melissa Wollering, Fincantieri Marine Group, Senior Manager – Communications at 715.587.2993
Chrissy Kadleck, Interlake Steamship Company, Public Relations Director at 440.935.1275
About Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding
Located in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding (FBS) is an industry leader in the construction, conversion and repair of large ships – tracing its rich history back more than 100 years. The diversified FBS portfolio includes all types of vessels including articulated tug-barge units, dredges and dredging support equipment, automated loading carriers, ferries and offshore support vessels. On the repair side, FBS is expert at managing critical deadlines in the repair and sustainment of bulk carriers and other ships of the Great Lakes Winter Fleet.
Shipbuilding facilities at the 63-acre plant include a large graving dock, a U.S. Navy-certified drydock, and lifting capacity to meet the most demanding requirements. Erection buildings are climate-controlled and equipped with sophisticated computer-aided manufacturing equipment. Fincantieri’s skilled workforce has extensive shipyard construction experience, in-house engineering, and a management team focused on client satisfaction and on-time delivery.
Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding is an operating unit of Fincantieri Marine Group (FMG), the United States division of global shipbuilding giant Fincantieri. fincantieribayshipbuilding.com
Fincantieri is one of the world’s largest shipbuilding groups and has built more than 7,000 vessels in over 230 years of maritime history. It is a leader in cruise ship design and construction and a reference player in all high-tech shipbuilding industry’s sectors, from naval to offshore vessels, from high-complexity special vessels and ferries to mega-yachts, ship repairs and conversions, systems and components production and after-sales services. Fincantieri operates in the United States through its subsidiary Fincantieri Marine Group (FMG). This company, which serves commercial and government customers in the USA, including the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard, has three shipyards (Fincantieri Marinette Marine, Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding and Fincantieri ACE Marine) located in the Great Lakes.
About The Interlake Steamship Company
As the largest privately held U.S.-flag fleet on the Lakes, Interlake has been carrying the bulk cargoes that have been fueling the region’s economy since its founding more than 100 years ago. A second-generation, family run company, Interlake is propelled by a long-term vision to make its fleet of nine vessels the most efficient and environmentally responsible in the shipping industry. The company has invested more than $100 million to modernize and improve its ships to safely and reliably transport 20 million tons of raw materials annually, including iron ore and flux stone for the steel industry, stone for the construction industry, coal for power generation and salt for de-icing needs on roads and highways. Interlake employs about 400 men and women who live and work in the region and the cargoes they deliver help generate and sustain more than 103,000 jobs in the eight Great Lakes states.