Shipping and Logistics

The M/V James R Barker

Written by John Packard

Why are we writing about an iron ore vessel? In a little more than a week, Steel Market Update founder and publisher, John Packard, will board the M/V James R Barker along with Interlake Steamship Vice President Brendan O’Conner. The ship’s itinerary calls for the vessel to self-load approximately 58,000 tons of iron ore pellets in Two Harbors, Minnesota and then travel across Lake Superior, go through the Sault Locks and down the full length of Lake Michigan before unloading its cargo at Indiana Harbor.

According to the Interlake Steamship website, the “M/V James R. Barker was the first 1000-foot class vessel constructed entirely on the Great Lakes, where she was built by American Ship Building Company at Lorain, Ohio. Her self-unloading system includes three cargo hold belts and a 250-foot boom, and is capable of discharging a cargo in about eight hours. The James R. Barker is named for Interlake’s President and Chairman of the Board.  The ship has always been part of the Interlake Steamship fleet.”

The plan is for John to tour one of the Minnesota iron ore operations before boarding the vessel. Once on board John will be writing about life aboard the vessel. The articles will be published in the Steel Market Update blog as well as our newsletter. He will also be “tweeting” throughout the voyage using the Steel Market Update Twitter account which is #SMUsteel. He will be using the hashtag #bonvoyage in his tweets to make them easier to find.

If you have questions about the iron ore business, transportation of iron ore pellets (or coal as Interlake Steamship moves coal as well), the Jones Act as well as any issues which may affect transportation on the Great Lakes, inland waterways or even ocean-going vessels please send them to

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