WHAT’S IN PORT: The “Burns Harbor”


Tom Wenstadt, contributor

The merchant vessel (M/V) Burns Harbor arrived at the mouth of Sturgeon Bay before noon on Saturday, Jan. 20. The tugs William C. Gaynor and Jimmy L  spent several hours breaking the way through the frozen pack-ice covering the bay. The Burns Harbor pivoted, then backed for six miles to the Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding yard – the site of the 1,000-footer’s christening on May 24, 1980.

The ship’s name came from Bethlehem Steel’s new Burns Harbor plant.  She has carried her name throughout her life and has been owned and operated by The American Steamship Co. of Buffalo, New York since 2005.  

This giant of the lakes – in winter layup with a couple of her other 1,000-foot friends – has a beam (width) of 105 feet, a depth of 56 feet, and a carrying capacity of 78,850 tons with four, 3,600 horsepower EMD V20 diesel engines turning two propellers and bow and stern thrusters. The ship has a self-unloading rate of 9,000 tons per hour. Look for a large vessel with a black hull and white super superstructure, aft mounted pilot house and self-unloading boom. 

The winter fleet can be viewed from both sides of the bay as well as from the lighthouse tower at the Door County Maritime Museum. 

Also check out the two large fabrication buildings that are being used to build large subassemblies for the new series of U.S. Navy frigates. The pieces are put on a large barge and towed across Green Bay for final assembly at Fincantieri Marinette Marine.