WBEZ | ports http://www.wbez.org/tags/ports Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Mystery boat: Alone and idle in a waterlogged corner of Chicago http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/mystery-boat-alone-and-idle-waterlogged-corner-chicago-112735 <p><p>There is something incongruous, maybe even outlandish, about seeing a big rusty ship from a freeway in America&rsquo;s Breadbasket.</p><p>Have you ever seen it? The 620-foot vessel docked up on the Calumet River under the Illinois International Port sign, clearly visible by anyone driving north on the Bishop Ford Expressway.</p><p>Our questioner, Chicagoan Samantha Kruse, saw it while out on her uncle&rsquo;s boat. They&rsquo;d set out for a leisurely cruise on the Calumet River when, there she blew: a giant old hulk of a ship. Seemingly abandoned. Covered in rust.</p><p>She joked with her uncle that it was likely haunted and filled with ghosts. But ultimately, she wondered, &ldquo;What is the deal with that ship?&rdquo;</p><p>So she came to Curious City for help. (As did two other people who asked about this boat).</p><p>An answer, though? This turned out to be a bit of a head scratcher. Initial research brought up very little. And most people we asked had absolutely no clue. Even the security guard who guards the Port&rsquo;s entrance, where the ship is docked, had no idea why the boat was there. He just knew it never moved.</p><p>But we do have an account of the boat&rsquo;s predicament, one that reveals a lot about the fate of a regional industry as well as a waterlogged corner of the city that &mdash; when it&rsquo;s not just passed up entirely &mdash; is probably best known for heavy industry, as well as black clouds of swirling <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/state-city-move-crack-down-petcoke-chicago-109412">petroleum coke pollution</a> or a <a href="http://www.calumetfisheries.com/">colorful shack that produces famous smoked shrimp and sturgeon</a>.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">The mystery boat, uncovered</span></p><p>Our research produced a name for the vessel: <a href="http://www.boatnerd.com/pictures/fleet/ctcno1.htm" target="_blank">the C.T.C No. 1</a>.</p><p>The C.T.C No. 1 &mdash; just the latest in a string of five names given by each new owner &mdash; was built in 1942 and moved iron ore to steel mills throughout the Great Lakes. It was wartime, and the country was hungry for raw materials to produce more ships, tanks and aircraft. The ship continued to ferry bulk materials around the Great Lakes until 1980, when it was converted into a cement storage facility, a job it stopped doing in 2009.</p><p>So, clearly the ship had been useful at one point, but what was it doing now? And why didn&rsquo;t it ever move?</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="400" scrolling="no" src="https://www.google.com/maps/embed?pb=!1m13!1m8!1m3!1d3325.873456615632!2d-87.58940332364065!3d41.666989634240146!3m2!1i1024!2i768!4f13.1!3m2!1m1!1s0x880e26c7283a4ef7%3A0x614fbf32bcd2ea29!5e1!3m2!1sen!2sus!4v1440623973334" style="border:0" width="620"></iframe></p><p>Even in the Google age, you can&rsquo;t get a succinct account of why the boat&rsquo;s idle. To get a fuller picture, I interviewed people in the ship&rsquo;s neighborhood, a sleepy industrial swath on the city&rsquo;s Southeast Side that&rsquo;s home steel processing facilities, the Ford Motor Co. plant, as well as yacht clubs and tugboat companies.</p><p>I got some of the most useful information from the<a href="http://www.chicagoshipmasters.com/"> International Shipmasters Association</a>, which, lucky for me, was holding its monthly meeting at Georgie&rsquo;s Tavern on 134th Street. Several members said the boat had been a mystery to them, too.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;ve heard the question many, many, many times,&rdquo; said Marshal Bundren, the chaplain of the shipmasters local. &ldquo;Because there is a great big ship and here we are in the middle of the Midwest on a ten-lane highway driving by. Why is that there?&rdquo;</p><p>But Bob Hansen, the shipmasters secretary, was familiar with the mystery boat and its history.</p><p>&ldquo;[It&rsquo;s the] Bethlehem Steel boat,&rdquo; he said, referring to an earlier owner. &ldquo;It says C.T.C. 1 on it because they use it for storing cement.&rdquo; (The C.T.C comes from its time in service for Cement Transit Co. of Detroit.)</p><p>Hansen went on to say, in rapid-fire succession, what our earlier research had shown: that the ship was built in 1942 and was used to move iron ore throughout the Great Lakes during World War II.</p><p>&ldquo;She&rsquo;s empty and there is no place for her to go. She has no home,&rdquo; Hansen said. He went on to explain that the walls of the ship contain asbestos, <a href="http://www2.epa.gov/asbestos/learn-about-asbestos#asbestos">a highly carcinogenic mineral fiber once commonly used for insulation and fireproofing</a>. Scrapping the boat, he added, would likely require expensive safety procedures.</p><p>And with the shipping industry as it is, struggling, it was too expensive to justify the rehab.</p><p>&ldquo;So for the moment it&rsquo;s sitting,&rdquo; he said of the vessel.</p><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="410" id="iframe" scrolling="no" src="//flickrit.com/slideshowholder.php?height=400&amp;width=620&amp;size=medium&amp;speed=stop&amp;setId=72157657382651669&amp;click=true&amp;caption=on&amp;credit=2&amp;trans=1&amp;theme=1&amp;thumbnails=0&amp;transition=0&amp;layoutType=fixed&amp;sort=0" width="620"></iframe></p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">Why it doesn&rsquo;t shove off</span></p><p>Scott Bravener, the president of Grand River Navigation, who owns the C.T.C. No. 1, assured me that the asbestos is well contained, though its future is unknown. He said it would cost the company roughly $30 million to rehabilitate the ship and integrate it back into the company&rsquo;s fleet as a working barge. (The boat no longer has an engine.) The company already owns three of its sister ships. And with the C.T.C.&rsquo;s hull still in relatively good condition, the ship acts almost like an insurance policy if something goes wrong with one of the other vessels.</p><p>It&rsquo;s also pretty inexpensive to keep it where it is. According to the Port, Grand River pays $600 per month to keep the C.T.C. No.1 docked there.</p><p>But, according to Bravener, the ultimate reason the ship sits idle is because there isn&rsquo;t enough demand to justify putting it into service, a view corroborated by William Strauss, a senior economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago specializing in manufacturing and shipping on the Great Lakes.</p><p>Strauss said softness in the shipping industry is due to sluggish global growth and a lack of investment in the country&rsquo;s infrastructure for shipping.</p><p>&ldquo;Low commodity prices [and] some struggle with regard to growth of different markets for commodities, has really left a challenge to justify the expenditure,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Overall, the shipping industry is still relatively active, but the Port of Chicago is not the economic engine it once was. According to a 2011 report, the most recent data available, the Port generates nearly 2,700 jobs, 25 percent less than it did nearly a decade prior. And the jobs the Port creates indirectly have dropped by 22 percent over the same period. Industry-wide, shipping on the Great Lakes faces headwinds, due to the phasing out of coal and a steel industry that has yet to return to its pre-Recession peak. &nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s an industry that will never die. But it will never get better,&rdquo; Hansen said. &ldquo;It just gets smaller and smaller and smaller. As we lose our steel. As we lose our cement. As we lose our coal.&rdquo;</p><p>Still, marine transport is the most economic way to get cargo from one place to another &mdash; <a href="http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d11134.pdf">far cheaper than trucking and even rail</a>.</p><p>But a struggling manufacturing sector mixed with low commodity prices, means ships like the C.T.C. No. 1 are left waiting in the wings, stuck in a kind of limbo where they&rsquo;re too valuable to ditch, but not useful enough to repair.</p><p>However, there is one thing working in the favor of Great Lakes shipping. Despite the rusty look of the ship, Strauss said the fresh water of the Great Lakes is forgiving on vessels, nearly tripling their lifespan compared to their ocean-going counterparts. Boats like C.T.C. No. 1 have the possibility of being reintroduced to fleet, even after years spent idle.</p><p>When I told our questioner, Samantha Kruse, that her mystery ship was not abandoned, but just empty and unused, she wasn&rsquo;t all that surprised. &ldquo;I think that is where I thought it was heading,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>What&rsquo;s more, she said she&rsquo;s glad to be reminded that the Calumet River isn&rsquo;t just for recreational boating. That in fact, there is an active shipping industry still there.</p><p>&ldquo;There are all these people working on barges. It&rsquo;s not something I think about everyday,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>One thing she is a little bummed about, she said: &ldquo;That I probably can&rsquo;t make the boat into an awesome haunted house one day.&rdquo;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/samanthastudio.jpg" style="height: 420px; width: 280px; float: left;" title="Questioner Samantha Kruse at the WBEZ studios. (WBEZ/Logan Jaffe)" /><span style="font-size:24px;">More about our questioner</span></p><p>Samantha Kruse grew up in the South suburb of Lansing, Illinois. The 27-year-old program adviser at the University of Illinois at Chicago said she noticed the ship &mdash; never moving, always there &mdash; for years. But it wasn&rsquo;t until she saw the mammoth ship from the waterside that her curiosity peaked.\</p><p>She tried the usual Googling spree, but couldn&rsquo;t find much of anything. Only one article that referred to it as simply, &ldquo;a rusted boat.&rdquo; Clearly, she knew that already.</p><p>&ldquo;I was so fascinated that this whole other part of Chicago existed that I never really thought about,&rdquo; Kruse says, referring to the shipping industry on the Great Lakes. &ldquo;Then we came close to that rusted boat and I was like what&rsquo;s the deal with that boat.&rdquo;</p><p>Her family has always been big boaters, but even they didn&rsquo;t know anything about the ship. &ldquo;It was accepted. It was just there,&rdquo; she says.</p><p>Kruse lives in Logan Square with her rescue dog. She says she&rsquo;s glad to know the ship had a past, though she&rsquo;s not all that surprised it&rsquo;s idle and empty.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s good to know she had a name and where she was from &hellip; and people cared about her,&rdquo; she says.</p></p> Wed, 26 Aug 2015 15:02:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/mystery-boat-alone-and-idle-waterlogged-corner-chicago-112735 Dredging: Shipping industry declares state of emergency http://www.wbez.org/frontandcenter/2011-07-04/dredging-shipping-industry-declares-state-emergency-88579 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//frontandcenter/photo/2011-06-30/88579/Coal-Fired Power Plant, Grand Haven.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>The Great Lakes form a sprawling ecosystem of nature and industry.&nbsp; In a strong economy, ships can transport up to 200 million tons of cargo across these waters each year.&nbsp; But now the shipping industry has declared a state of emergency.&nbsp; The cause is a region-wide dredging backlog.&nbsp; Shippers worry that sediment buildup threatens to choke some navigation channels.</p><p>But before we begin this tale of sediment buildup and dredging and the government raiding crucial funds…let’s talk about…well…me.&nbsp;</p><p>I’m between four and six feet tall.&nbsp; Five foot four, to be exact.&nbsp;</p><p>In one year, that’s how much sediment can build up in the mouths of harbors around the Great Lakes.&nbsp; That’s when you call for a dredge.</p><p> <style type="text/css"> div .inline { width: 290px; float: left; margin-right: 19px; margin-left: 3px; clear: left; } div .inlineContent { border-top: 1px dotted #aa211d; border-top-width: 1px; border-top-style: dotted; border-top-color: #aa211d; margin-bottom: 5px; margin-top: 2px; } ul { margin-left: 15px; } li { font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: 1em; background-repeat: no-repeat; background-repeat-x: no-repeat; background-repeat-y: no-repeat; background-position: 0 5px; background-position-x: 0px; background-position-y: 5px; padding-left: 3px; margin-bottom: 0.5em; }</style> </p><div class="inline"><div class="inlineContent"><a href="http://www.wbez.org/frontandcenter"><img alt="" src="http://www.wbez.org/sites/default/files/story/insert-image/2011-June/2011-06-28/FNC-inset-promo.jpg" style="width: 280px; height: 50px;" title=""></a><ul><li><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/about-front-and-center-%E2%80%93-depth-reporting-great-lakes-87655">About Front and Center</a></strong></li><li><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/frontandcenter/2011-07-05/when-inch-means-ton-or-267-tons-be-precise-88748">When an Inch Means a Ton. Or 267 Tons, To Be Precise</a></strong></li><li><a href="http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-06-24/front-and-center-cant-we-all-just-get-along-disagreements-st-lawrence-88"><strong>Can't we all just get along? </strong></a></li></ul></div></div><p>“Basically it’s a vacuum that chews up the bottom of the sand,” said engineer Tom O’Bryan.&nbsp; “Sucks up the sand with water.&nbsp; And then we pipe that material 5,000 feet down the shoreline.”O’Bryan is with the Army Corps of Engineers in Grand Haven, Michigan.&nbsp; On one side of this dredge lies Lake Michigan.&nbsp; On the other, the inner harbor and one of its shipping targets: the city’s coal-fired power plant.&nbsp; The deeper this passage, the more coal each ship can carry without getting stuck.&nbsp; O’Bryan feels that efficiency helps consumers like him.</p><p>“If I can get coal to that plant cheaper, then I’m going to get cheaper electricity to my house and therefore my bill’s gonna be less,” he said.</p><p>But because of the dredging backlog, between 15 and 18 million cubic yards of excess sediment have built up in Great Lakes channels, according to the Army Corps of Engineers.&nbsp; That’s like pouring in a bag of mulch … 200 million times.&nbsp; Add in low water levels and many ships have to light load, meaning carry less.&nbsp; So costs go up.&nbsp;</p><p>At the port in Marblehead, Ohio, a long conveyer belt rumbled steadily, carrying limestone from a quarry to one of Mark Barker’s ships below.&nbsp; Barker is president of The Interlake Steamship Company.&nbsp;</p><p>He’s also a man who measures revenue with a ruler.&nbsp; For every inch of draft – that’s how deep a boat sits in the water –this 700 foot ship holds 110 tons of cargo.</p><p>“Our thousand-foot vessel, the largest vessel on the lakes, can lose over 250 tons per inch,” he said.&nbsp;</p><p>Barker said “lose” because he’s loading between six and ten inches less than he did last year.&nbsp; He said that could subtract millions of dollars from his bottom line.&nbsp;</p><p>Glen Nekvasil is vice president of a trade group called the Lake Carriers’ Association.&nbsp; He said early in the season, before a lot of snow melt, some ships left behind as much as 12,000 tons of iron ore or coal.</p><p>“That much iron ore will make the steel that’s used in 10,000 automobiles,” he said, “And that much coal will keep a couple big power plants going for thirteen hours.&nbsp; So that’s the impact of light loading.”&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>But light loading on the Great Lakes is already common.&nbsp; Nekvasil said the outlook for next year makes it worse.&nbsp;</p><p>Under President Obama’s budget proposal, only 11 of the 60 federal commercial harbors on the Great Lakes would get dredged next year.&nbsp; That’s because of a proposed 30 percent funding reduction for the region.&nbsp; Officials with the Army Corps of Engineers say if that stands, some commercial harbors could essentially close to big ships.&nbsp; In other words, channels might silt in too much to remain economical.</p><p>Under the current proposal, no port that sees less than a million tons of cargo transport would get dredged next year.&nbsp;</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://www.wbez.org/sites/default/files/blog/insert-image/2011-June/2011-06-30/Cargo%20Load%2C%20Marblehead.JPG" style="width: 400px; height: 266px; float: left; margin-left: 5px; margin-right: 5px;" title="">All this is happening despite the fact that billions of dollars have been collected over the years precisely for harbor maintenance and dredging.&nbsp; Commercial shippers pay taxes on their cargo and that money goes into something called the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund.&nbsp; But that fund has been plundered by pirates … or in this case, the federal government.&nbsp; Just ask Candice Miller.</p><p>“They are raiding this fund,” she said.&nbsp; “They’re raiding it for other kinds of things.”</p><p>Miller is a Republican congresswoman from a Michigan district on Lake Huron.&nbsp; She’s also co-sponsor of a bill that would require every penny of the fund be spent on harbor maintenance, instead of being used to reduce the federal deficit.</p><p>“Think about your gasoline tax, those taxes go into the Highway Trust Fund,” Miller said.&nbsp; “And that money can’t be siphoned off for anything other than highway projects.&nbsp; We pay the tax, it fixes your roads.”</p><p>The idea of putting a firewall around the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund has bipartisan support in both chambers of Congress.&nbsp; As for shippers, they say remember the many thousands of jobs they support – in mining, in steel mills, in manufacturing, in construction.&nbsp; They say those jobs demand that Great Lakes shipping remains efficient.</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://www.wbez.org/sites/default/files/blog/insert-image/2011-June/2011-06-30/FY%20%2712%20Dredging%20Map.PNG" style="width: 600px; height: 417px;" title="Courtesy of Army Corps of Engineers "></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 04 Jul 2011 13:57:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/frontandcenter/2011-07-04/dredging-shipping-industry-declares-state-emergency-88579