I always enjoy driving past the shipyard in Sturgeon Bay. To see all the freighters in for repair is truly an amazing sight. When you think about it, ships were very important to Wisconsin back in the day and continue to be just as important. Ships provide a source for moving goods around the county.
I found out that Milwaukee and Manitowoc were the first shipyards in Wisconsin, opening in the mid-1830s. In 1896, Rieboldt, Wolter and company moved their shipbuilding operations to Sturgeon Bay from Sheboygan. Their company, Sturgeon Bay Shipbuilding became one of the leading shipbuilders in the area.
In 2009, Italian shipbuilding company Fincantieri, the fourth-largest shipbuilder in the world, bought the Manitowoc Company’s marine segment, which included Marinette Marine and Bay Shipbuilding.
I tend to count the freighters when I drive past the shipyard. In the winter months, you will see more freighters in the shipyard waiting for repair. Which when you think about it, it makes sense. Get the work done during the winter months so they are ready for the waters of the Great Lakes as it gets warmer.
The freighters measure from 500-1000 feet. Once the ship reaches the canal, a tug boat directs them to the shipyard. Once docked at the shipyard, workers have 70-90 days to complete repairs, working 24-7. It’s so important to make sure the ships are repaired on time.
In addition to the heavy schedule of the winter fleet, Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding also has vessels under construction. They recently finished the “Madonna” a passenger/car ferry that services Washington Island from Door County. The year-round ferry measures 124-ft. She can handle 28 vehicles and 150 passengers.
No matter what time of year, keep a look out for a freighter from a far or coming into the shipping canal. It’s something very special to see.
Posted by: Jill