First New Great Lakes Freighter in 36 Years to be Built Near Lake Michigan


A new freighter ordered for Interlake Steamship Company will be more than 600 feet long


A new 639-foot freighter is being built over the next three years at a sprawling shipyard at the edge of Lake Michigan.

Constructed for Interlake Steamship Company, the new self-unloading bulk carrier is believed to be the first U.S. flagged freighter being built for the Great Lakes since 1983, the company announced this spring.

The new freighter is being built at the 63-acre Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding plant in Sturgeon Bay, Wis.

It’s being designed to carry raw materials throughout the Great Lakes region.

Builders and Interlake say the project equals hundreds of jobs not only for shipyard workers, but for U.S. Merchant Mariners.

Interlake Steamship Company, with headquarters in Ohio, is the largest privately-held U.S. flag fleet on the Great Lakes. It has nine vessels, including ship-fan favorites like the Paul R. Tregurtha, the Mesabi Miner, the Stewart J. Cort, and the Herbert C. Jackson.

“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,” Interlake President Mark W. Barker said in a press release.

While this new freighter won’t be a 1,000-footer like some others in Interlake’s fleet, it’s being built to specifications the company drew up after listening to the logistical needs of its customers.

“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 design on this bulk carrier is being handled jointly by Interlake, Fincantieri and Bay Engineering.

“We are excited to construct this historic large-scale bulk carrier on the Great Lakes for Great Lakes operation,” said Todd Thayse, Fincantieri’s vice president and general manager. “We are very proud of our long-term relationship with Interlake, and we appreciate their continued confidence in our shipyard and in our shipbuilding team. This new project and our past work are indicative of the quality and attention to detail that our customers have come to expect from Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding.”

“It brings steady employment to the hundreds of women and men we employ from across the region, and the economic benefit to our suppliers and others is widespread.”

The new freighter should be ready by 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 said. “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.”

Interlake recently released some fast facts about this new freighter:


This newest self-unloading bulk carrier has a unique cargo hold arrangement and cargo hatch covers designed for maximum cubic space and the ability to handle difficult cargoes.


The vessel incorporates a flap rudder as well as bow and stern thrusters for high-level maneuverability.

Environmentally friendly.

All aspects of the vessel have been looked at to ensure that it will have a low environmental impact to the Great Lakes and to those who work aboard. The hull has been optimized for efficiency and all systems have been designed to ensure low energy consumption.

Power and speed.

The vessel is designed for 7,800 shaft horsepower produced by two sixteen-cylinder Electro-Motive Diesel (EMD) diesel engines that are EPA Tier 4 and IMO Tier III certified and is expected to have a top speed in excess of 15 m.p.h.


The vessel will be propelled by a single-screw, 18’ diameter, Kongsberg, controllable pitch propeller.

Electrical Power.

For its electrical power requirements, the vessel is provided with one 940 kW ship service diesel generator, two 2500 kW shaft generators and one 274 kW emergency generator.