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Wednesday, June 24, 2020 

Fincantieriís US-based subsidiary Bay Shipbuilding and Interlake Steamship Company have hosted a ceremonial keel laying to celebrating the start of assembly on the first US-flagged Great Lakes bulk carrier built in more than 35 years.

After more than nine months of engineering and pre-fabrication work of modular sections, the keel was laid in the Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding (FBS) large graving dock in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. The event recognised the keel laying as the first joining of modular components, or the lowering of the first modules into place in the graving dock.

Interlake’s Chairman James R Barker, revealed the new vessel would bear the name of his son and second-generation leader of the Company, Mark W Barker.

“This ship is more than the steel assembled here by Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding,” said Barker, who has led the family-run company for more than three decades. “This ship represents Interlake’s determination to be an active and responsible participant in all aspects of Great Lakes trade. This ship is being named for my son, Mark W. Barker, to recognise the many contributions that he has made to the Company, the industry, and to our community. In addition, this naming reflects the successful management team that he has put together. Finally, it reflects that we are a family company and our commitment to staying one.”

FBS VP and General Manager Todd Thayse said: “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.”

“It is truly amazing to have a ship that is built here in Wisconsin and made from steel from Indiana that came from iron ore mined in Minnesota with US crews, US workers, and US 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 US fleet.”

The new River-Class, self-unloading bulk carrier is believed to be the first ship for US Great Lakes service built on the Great Lakes since 1983. Measuring 639ft in length and 28,000 dwt capacity, the ship will transport raw materials such as salt, iron ore, and stone to support manufacturing throughout the Great Lakes region.

The Interlake Steamship Company, Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding and Bay Engineering jointly designed the bulk carrier, which is scheduled for completion in mid-2022. Major partners for the project include: American Bureau of Shipping (ABS); ArcelorMittal, Bay Engineering (BEI); EMD Engines; Caterpillar; EMS-Tech, Lufkin (a GE Company), Kongsberg and MacGregor.

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