The title of this post describes what Spring has done. However, it’s done it very slowly. I haven’t been to Detroit in two weeks, and do I really want to go to all the trouble to head down there on a soggy, overcast afternoon?


Something tells me I should go anyway.

CCGS Samuel Risley

Before you stop reading, this is not about to be a repeat of my last post, which was a bit of an overdose on Samuel Risley photos.

CCGS Samuel Risley

The mighty Canadian icebreaker is back on escort duty, leading a ship off a mostly ice-free Lake St. Clair.

CCGS Samuel Risley

She has a pretty big lead over the ship she’s escorting though.

CCGS Samuel Risley

So off goes the Risley. She proceeded to dock in downtown Windsor to await her next job.


Now, here’s the ship!


And what a ship it is… it’s the Alpena on her way to open the Port of Detroit for the 2014 season.


She departed lay-up in Cleveland on the 15th, and is carrying the first cargo of her 72nd year on the Lakes. She is also now the oldest operating ship on the Lakes.


So what better vessel to open the port for the season than the Alpena.


Built in 1942 in River Rouge, the Alpena spent most of her life as the 640′ bulk carrier Leon Fraser. Now 519′, she fits her new role as a cement carrier perfectly. She is always one of the first vessels to enter service each Spring.


The graceful little ship has put together a historic career, and one that should continue for many seasons to come.


She is the last surviving “AA” class ship built for U.S. Steel in 1942. The other four were scrapped in the 1980s, but the Fraser got a reprieve hauling cement, and lost about 120 feet of hull in the process.


But that’s a small price to pay to still have this relic steaming around the Great Lakes. In fact, she’s one of only six steamers that are expected to be in service this year. Six. Just two years ago there were 11. 10 years ago? 24 of them. They are a dying breed.


But hey… six is better than none, and someday that number will hit zero. But not this year. So adieu, Alpena, and enjoy another season of hauling powdered cement.


And hello, Spring. Please melt the ice on the upper lakes so that we can get more ships moving.

That’s all for today. The shipping season is underway, and while it’s getting off to a slow start, let’s hope it turns out to be a busy one!

Also, if you prefer a more news-like approach to boat-blogging, check out my newest venture: http://motorcityships.wordpress.com

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2 thoughts on “Sprung

  1. Pingback: PHOTOS: Alpena’s Arrival | Detroit River Shipping

  2. Pingback: A, AA, AMA, AAA? | tugboathunter

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