Sailing the Great Lakes, you'll see a number of bulk carrier vessels. In fact, I follow one account on TikTok chronicling life shipping on the Great Lakes. But the majority of those ships you see were built no later than the 1980s.

That changed this week with the launch of the Mark W. Barker - the first Great Lakes-made bulk carrier vessel put to sea in 35 years.

Get our free mobile app

The Mark W. Barker is named for the Interlake Steamship Company's President, and second-generation leader, of the family-owned and operated shipping fleet. Built in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, the Mark W. Barker is the first new build for the company since 1981.

"This is a monumental day for our company and the U.S. flag fleet as our much-anticipated freighter departs on her first voyage in what will be a long life of service on the Great Lakes!" - Mark W. Barker

The Interlake Steamship Company
The Interlake Steamship Company
loading...

The ship is 639-feet long, 45-feet deep, and 78-feet wide, with nearly 8,000 horsepower in its engines, which it will need to haul up to 26,000 gross tons of product across the Great lakes. The shorter length of the ship makes it a river-class ship, which is smaller than some of the 1,000-footers you'll see on the Great Lakes at times. In fact, the Mark W. Barker more closely resembles some of the World War II-era ships that still carry cargo on the Great Lakes.

The Interlake Steamship Company
The Interlake Steamship Company
loading...

She'll be based out of Cleveland, Ohio, but the majority of the ship's work will be transporting stone from Port Inland, Michigan, to Muskegon, though some shipments of salt, iron, and ore will also be in its repertoire.

The Interlake Steamship Company
The Interlake Steamship Company
loading...

And this ship oozes Great Lakes culture, as it was assembled in Wisconsin, officially launched in Ohio, shipping primarily across Michigan, and the iron used to construct her was made in Indiana.

"[This] reinforces our long-term commitment to shipping and delivering essential cargoes for our customers throughout the region." - Mark W. Barker

Five Ghost Ships of the Great Lakes