MaK Repower Gives Great Lakes Steamship a New Lease on Life

Well into her sixth decade of operation, the S.S. Herbert C. Jackson still plies the waters of the Great Lakes, regularly carrying a bellyful of iron ore between Marquette and Detroit, Michigan. But an aging steam turbine and boiler present challenges for her owner, the Interlake Steamship Company, both in terms of maintenance and emissions. So this December, the Herbert C. Jackson will enter dry dock. She’ll emerge next summer powered by two MaK 6 M 32 E engines—and with a new lease on life.

“The engine system was going to require considerable capital to maintain,” says Mark Barker, Interlake’s president. “We have a long-term vision for this industry, and we made the decision to invest in new technology that will allow us to reduce our carbon footprint and environmental impact, while increasing reliability for our customers.”

With the new MaK engines, Barker expects to maintain vessel speed as well as improve control and maneuverability. That’s important as the Herbert C. Jackson often winds through narrow waterways—in fact, she’s the largest vessel ever to transit the Cuyahoga River, which runs through the heart of Cleveland, Ohio.

“Full pilot house control of the engines will allow the captain to control the exact speed or direction of the ship constantly,” Barker says. “That will allow us to have better maneuverability in navigating the rivers and making docks, as well as better control of the engine in restricted water to ensure the vessel is operating in the most efficient way possible.”

Emissions reductions should also be significant, with estimated drops of 35% in particulate matter, 57% in CO2 and 63% in sulfur oxides (SOx) anticipated. Plus, with the MaK engines in place, Interlake has the option to convert to even more sustainable operation in the future.

“Not only are these engines extremely efficient, but they can be converted into dual-fuel LNG [liquid natural gas] if the infrastructure is built out to support implementation around the Great Lakes,” Barker says. “By choosing these engines, we have the enhanced capability to lower our footprint in the future.”

The decision to repower the Herbert C. Jackson—the last steam-powered vessel in Interlake’s fleet—with MaK engines was an easy one for Barker, based on previous experience with Caterpillar and dealer Toromont Cat Power Systems.

“We installed MaK engines in our Paul R. Tregurtha in 2010, and we have been very pleased with their performance and reliability and the service that we’ve received from Toromont and Caterpillar,” he says. “They offer a highly skilled technical team and a sales force that is extremely supportive and easy to work with—all qualities you want and need when you tackle large-scale, complex projects with many moving parts and players.”

Currently, the two MaK 6 M 32 E engines—which will be the first M 32 Es to power a vessel on the Great Lakes—are making their way from Germany to the U.S., and the vessel should arrive at the shipyard in mid-December. With the repower expected to take about six months, the Herbert C. Jackson should be ready to make a fresh start on her regular Great Lakes routes by mid-June 2016.

When she returns to service on the Great Lakes in mid-2016 powered by new MaK engines, the Herbert C. Jackson will operate much more efficiently and produce significantly fewer emissions. (Photo credit: Dave Brendorfer)

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MaK M 32 E

Available in 6-, 8- and 9-cylinder versions, the durable M 32 E offers reduced generator costs, class-leading maintenance intervals and competitive fuel consumption.

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