The first ship of the season arrived at the Lafarge Presque Isle Quarry in Michigan on Tuesday, April 3, 2018, The Alpena News reports. The 20-year-old vessel, the Great Lakes Trader, is both a tug boat and a barge capable of hauling 34,000 tons of aggregate and is operated by Capt. Bruce Messersmith and Chief Engineer Nelson.
“One of the benefits of the tug and barge design is we can break our own ice,” Nelson told the news agency, explaining that two large steel pins connect the tugboat to the barge, and the tugboat can disconnect, cut up ice, and then reconnect to the barge and continue on its path.
The International Shipmasters Association Northeast Michigan Lodge 19 and Lafarge Presque Isle employees met the ship and received a tour before it was loaded with 32,500 tons of limestone headed to Windsor 18 hours away.
Lafarge Materials Performance Supervisor Tim Cordes said there is a lot of preparation involved for the first ship of the season. “The weather is unpredictable, and we’re trying to accommodate the winds, ice, and any possible precipitation,” he told the news outlet, adding that, typically, 200 to 300 barges travel to the Presque Isle port each season.