I’m very interested to know what the Great Lakes record is for how long a freighter has held the same name and paint scheme. At 64 years and counting, the Wilfred Sykes has to be a contender. American Ship Building of Lorain, Ohio built this vessel in 1949 for Inland Steel. She entered service that year as Wilfred Sykes, and holds the honor of being the first American laker built after World War II. The stylish 678′ long steamer became the centerpiece in the Inland Steel fleet, and remained so until the launch of the Edward L. Ryerson in 1960. In 1975, Fraser Shipyards converted the vessel to a self-unloader in Superior, Wisconsin, greatly increasing the vessel’s versatility and keeping her around well past when we thought we’d see the end of her. In 1998 her ownership changed to Central Marine Logistics as foreign steel giants began to juggle ownership of Inland Steel. Currently ArcelorMittal is the company they work for.
Mighty Wilfred keeps busy in the stone and ore trades, and is usually confined to Lake Michigan by these routes. Her stone cargoes usually come from the Chicago area or Port Inland, while her ore cargoes originate in Escanaba. She can usually be observed working well into winter, and often gets out early in the Spring also. The stylish and enduring Sykes is a favorite of boatnerds and should be around for many more years still.