Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Joseph H. Thompson Again...

As I said in my last post, I decided to head down to Detroit to do a little shipwatching. According to boatnerd, there were at least three ships that would be heading down the Detroit River. Sometimes there are bonus ships that head upbound as the people that maintain the Detroit River section don't always get those.

Anyways, I was amazed at how many people were on Belle Isle tonight. For a while, I thought I wasn't going to find a spot to park. I got a little more anxious as I saw this ship heading down the river. I finally found a spot to park and hurried out of the car to get my pictures.

Many of the ships that ply the Lakes have a history. There a few that have served in wartime. This is one of them.

The Joseph H. Thompson started life as the 515 foot cargo vessel called the Marine Robin. She was originally built by the Sun Shipbuilding Company in Chester, PA in 1944. She was a normal looking transport with the pilot house in the center of the ship. She was used to transport cargo across the Atlantic and made an appearance during the Normandy Invasion.

At the completion of the war, she was put into mothballs and probably would have been destined for the scrapyard had the Korean War not created a demand for iron ore. Both American and Canadian shipyards could not keep up with demands for freighters. As a solution, several companies looked to ocean going ships and converted them.The conversion was performed by the Ingalls Shipbuilding Company in Mississippi and she was lengthened to 714 feet and could carry over 20,000 tons of cargo. She was named the Joseph H. Thompson and used by the Hansand Steamship Company of Cleveland. She took to the water in her new shape in 1952 and continued until 1981 when the bottom fell out of the ore market.In 1985, she was bought by Escanaba towing and converted to her current configuration. The conversion was completed in 1991. One of the advantages of this is that it takes less crew.

I still don't like it as I think these ships are ugly but at least it keeps a historic ship on the lakes.

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