First Bulk Carrier Built in 35 Years Will Travel the Great Lakes


It's been quite some time since the U.S. has seen a new bulk carrier ship in production, but the Great Lakes will see its newest freighter since 1983. The Interlake Steamship Company recently awarded a contract to Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding to build this new bulk carrier.

The new River-Class, self-unloading bulk carrier will transport raw materials to support manufacturing throughout the Great Lakes region.

Measuring 639 feet in length, the vessel will be constructed in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. The Interlake Steamship Company, headquartered in Middleburg Heights, Ohio, is the largest privately held U.S.-flag fleet on the Great Lakes, with nine vessels carrying bulk cargoes and a rich history dating more than 100 years.

“When we approached a historic project of this magnitude — building our company’s first ship since 1981 — we knew it was critical to choose the right partners. Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding is the shipyard that has the experience and skill to execute on our long-term vision,” says Interlake President Mark W. Barker. "We’ve had a long and positive relationship of partnering with Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding as we have modernized and reinvested heavily in our fleet. They have skillfully handled four repowers, five exhaust gas scrubber installations, as well as regular maintenance and regulatory dry-dockings on our vessels.”

The Interlake Steamship Company, Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding and Bay Engineering are jointly designing the bulk carrier, complete with advanced vessel and unloading systems automation. The vessel is scheduled for completion in mid-2022.

“The Interlake Steamship Company is also extremely 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.”

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Photo courtesy of Interlake Steamship Company.