The Interlake Steamship Company & Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding Officially Kick-off Construction of a New Great Lakes Bulk Carrier
Wisconsin maritime had one of its finest moments this Tuesday in Sturgeon Bay, as powerhouses Interlake Steamship (Interlake) and Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding (FBS) jointly laid the keel for the next state-of-the-art Great Lakes laker, the M/V Mark W. Barker.
In mid-2022 it will join the other nine bulk carriers in Interlake’s U.S.-flag fleet and fuel the region’s economy as the company has done for more than 100 years by transporting raw materials, such as salt, iron ore, and stone to support manufacturing throughout the Great Lakes region.
“This ship is more than the steel assembled here by Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding. It represents Interlake’s determination to be an active and responsible participant in all aspects of Great Lakes trade. This ship is being named after my son to recognize the many contributions he has made to Interlake, the industry, and our community. The naming also reflects the successful management team that he has put together and that we are a family company,”said Interlake Chairman James R. Barker, as he revealed that the new vessel will bear the name of his son and second-generation leader of the company, Mark W. Barker.
“It is truly amazing to have a ship that is built here in Wisconsin and made of steel from Indiana that came from iron ore mined in Minnesota with U.S. crews, U.S. workers, and U.S. miners all doing this for our great country,”said Mark W. Barker, President of Interlake. “This is just an amazing story that I am absolutely privileged and so proud to be a part of, as we continue the long tradition in this country of building, running, and operating the U.S. fleet.”
Construction of the M/V Mark W. Barker will further solidify Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding‘s position as a leader in shipbuilding, conversion and repair. It will engage FBS’s 700-strong skilled workforce and stimulate downstream business for partnering contractors, vendors, and suppliers.
FBS’s Vice President and General Manager Todd Thayse stated, “Our workforce is very proud to construct what will become a “homeport ship.” This large-scale bulk carrier is being built on the Great Lakes and will operate right here on the Great Lakes, which creates a sense of local and regional pride. Today’s ceremony with Interlake and the naming of the vessel really brings this ship to life. We are excited and appreciative for Interlake’s continued confidence in the quality of our work.”
During the keel laying ceremony in the graving dock, third-generation members of the family company, Luke and Eli Barker, served as young apprentices and blessed the ship with good fortune by nailing newly minted silver and gold coins into the oak block upon which the keel would be set. Modular hull sections 11-1-C and 12-1-C were then lowered and joined together with a resounding applause.
Luke & Eli Barker carry on the coin-setting tradition by placing newly minted silver and gold coins into the oak block that will support the keel.
American maritime powerhouses, Interlake Steamship and Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding, stand together to celebrate the milestone event and in promotion of American craftsmanship and the continuation of Wisconsin’s rich maritime heritage.
The keel of Interlake Steamship’s M/V Mark W. Barker is laid as the first modular components of the hull are connected at Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding in Sturgeon Bay, WI.
President Trump Visits Fincantieri Marinette Marine
Celebrates U.S. Shipbuilding, Jobs, and National Security
Yesterday, President Trump toured the facilities of U.S. shipbuilder Fincantieri Marinette Marine (FMM) in Northeast Wisconsin and addressed an audience of 500+ skilled FMM men and women. Before standing in front of the future USS Cooperstown (LCS-23), the President met with employees and community members and viewed a variety of FMM’s naval combat ships going through the construction and delivery process.
On stage the President celebrated FMM’s long tradition of shipbuilding excellence, saluted its skilled workforce, and recognized its new $5.5 billion defense contract to build up to ten state-of-the-art next generation U.S. navy warships, the Guided Missile Frigate (FFG(X)). This will stimulate a $200 million investment in the facility and the hiring of 1,000+ additional skilled U.S. workers, benefitting both the local and state economies. It will furthermore put the U.S. on a path to rebuilding its navy and restoring American power and prestige with a healthy shipyard industrial base, top priorities for the President.
Wrapping up, President Trump stressed that “he will always live by two simple rules: Buy American and Hire American,” and that “as long as I’m your President, America will never lose shipbuilding talent or capability.” – quotes that ignited the crowd.
The Wisconsin domestic maritime industry is a huge economic driver for the state. It annually contributes over $2.2 billion in economic output (30% generated by shipyards), over $635 million in worker income (70% generated by shipyards), and nearly 10,000 family wage jobs (80% generated by shipyards).
President of WIDMAC Michael Gerhardt comments, “These new guided missile frigates built by these patriots will have positive, long-lasting impacts for all Americans, ensuring our strength at sea and our security here at home. Fincantieri Marinette Marine and its sister shipyards in Sturgeon Bay (Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding) and Green Bay (Fincantieri Ace Marine) are leaders in the commercial and military shipbuilding space – always have been and always will be. On behalf of WIDMAC and the broader U.S.-flag maritime industry, I thank you President Trump for your unwavering commitment to U.S. jobs and for putting your trust in Wisconsin maritime and the Wisconsin worker to secure and advance our future.”
Fincantieri Marinette Marine was founded in 1942 along the Menominee River in Marinette, Wisconsin, to meet America’s growing demand for wartime naval construction. From humble beginnings with a contract to build five wooden barges, Fincantieri Marinette Marine has grown into a world-class shipbuilder, having designed and built more than 1,500 vessels. The shipyard’s government portfolio includes ships for the United States Coast Guard and Navy, including icebreakers, buoy tenders, research vessels, and among the most technologically advanced vessels in the world, the U.S. Navy’s Freedom-variant Littoral Combat Ship. The shipyard employs highly efficient modular subassembly and assembly line manufacturing techniques to build these ships in simultaneous serial production.
Celebrating the Jones Act Centennial
This month, the American maritime industry celebrated the Centennial of the U.S. Merchant Marine Act – also known as the Jones Act – on June 5, 2020. This vital security law ensures that only American vessels serve American domestic commerce, enabling hundreds of thousands of jobs. It continues to have broad and deep bipartisan support in Congress while being recognized by military leaders as essential to American national, homeland and economic security.
Released on this historic milestone, this commemorative videohighlights the importance of the American maritime industry over the last century during times of both peace and crisis – an assurance provided by the Jones Act. Today, 650,000 American men and women make up this essential industry, with nearly 10,000 in Wisconsin, keeping American supply chains working at full strength. Their work follows in the same tradition of U.S. merchant mariners who delivered for U.S. soldiers during prior world wars and national emergencies.
Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS), Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), and Rep. Sam Graves, (R-MO) further described the significance of the Jones Act for American shipbuilding, a vital industry in Wisconsin, in a recent Defense News opinion piece. They write: “The Jones Act advances our national security by helping maintain a vibrant domestic shipbuilding industry and maritime workforce. Our shipbuilders supply the military with warships, and U.S. mariners play a key role in transporting military personnel and equipment overseas in times of crisis.”
On this Centennial, thousands joined together to pause and recognize the significance of the Jones Act and the men and women employed by this vital industry. Their work continues, and with a pandemic at hand, the Jones Act has only shown to be more valuable to the nation’s security and economic interests. To learn more, visit www.americanmaritimepartnership.com
Remembering Kurt Luedtke
Last month we said goodbye to a dredging titan who positively impacted Wisconsin’s maritime industry for decades. Kurt Robert Luedtke and his Michigan-based company Luedtke Engineering dredged the majority, if not all, of the Badger State’s commercial ports and recreational harbors, keeping commerce and tourism thriving.
Kurt was born on July 15, 1956 in Kenosha, Wisconsin. In 1980 he graduated from Michigan State University with a civil engineering degree and married Kelene Fairchild. In 1984 he began working for the family company, eventually becoming president and co-owner with his brother Paul.
During his distinguished professional career he served as President and Small Business Chairman of the Dredging Contractors of America and worked on numerous task forces, advocating for dredging and environmental stewardship on the Great Lakes.
Kurt was active in local Frankfort politics and played bass in the Sub-Prime Blues Band and the Standing Hamptons.
He will be tremendously missed by his family, the Frankfort community, and all those who knew him.
Kurt’s legacy and his family business live on with his daughter Jacqueline and brother Paul at the helm, and his contributions to Wisconsin will always be remembered.
Thank you for your continued interest in the WIDMAC newsletter, designed to deliver important news, industry updates, and feature stories about the men and women of Wisconsin’s vibrant domestic maritime industry.
Wisconsin Domestic Maritime Coalition (WIDMAC) | 3515 N. Summit Ave., Shorewood, WI 53211