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Mark W. Barker.
A worker paints draft marks at the stern of the Mark W. Barker before the ship’s propeller and rudder are installed. The ship’s hull design optimizes the flow of water through the propeller.
Contributed / Interlake Steamship Company

Introducing: The Mark W. Barker

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Scheduled to launch its working life later this year, the Mark W. Barker will enter sea trials soon this spring. It’s the first Great Lakes ship to be built by an American company since 1983, which marked the end of a lengthy boom time that included the arrival of the immense 1,000-footers.

Duluth News Tribune reporter Brady Slater, photographer Steve Kuchera and digital producer Samantha Erkkila visited Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding on Lake Michigan’s Sturgeon Bay to tour the new vessel and see what makes it different from a standard bulk-cargo hauler like those built four decades ago.


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The first U.S.-built lake freighter in almost 40 years nears completion at a shipyard in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin.

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