King & Queen of The Great Lakes

Lee A. Tregurhta and Paul R. Tregurtha, are large bulk carrier freighters and commonly known as “The King & Queen of the Lakes”.

MV Paul R. Tregurtha is the current Queen of the Lakes (the largest ship operating on the Great Lakes complex).[1] She was the subject of a television program in the second series of Discovery Channel Canada‘s series Mighty Ships.





Launched as the William J. De Lancey, she was the last of the 13 “thousand footers” to enter service on the Great Lakes, and was also the last Great Lakes vessel built at the American Ship Building Company yard in Lorain, Ohio.


The Interlake Steamship Company was given a contract in 1979 by its customer Republic Steel, to transport iron ore from Lake Superior ports to their steel mill at Indiana Harbor, or to their transshipment terminal at Lorain.[1]

Designed by the American Ship Building Company to fulfil two briefs:

  • Bulk carrier
  • Executive passenger transportation

With the second brief in mind, she was one of the first freighters with full air conditioning, elevators, and luxurious décor. Built in two parts, her keel was laid down on July 12, 1979, at the American Ship Building Company yard in Toledo, Ohio. On completion, the forward section was towed to their yard in Lorain, where it was mated with the stern portion. The completed hull #909 has a total length of 1,013 feet (309 m).[1]

Stephens-Adamson designed a loop belt elevator system, that feeds a stern mounted 79.25 meters (260.0 ft) discharge boom that can be swung 100 degrees to port or starboard. Capable of unloading at a rate of 10,000 long tons of iron ore per hour, or 6,000 net tons of coal per hour, the total system displaces 14,497 tons.[1]

Formally launched on February 4, 1981, the vessel was christened on April 25, 1981, as the William J. De Lancey, named in honor of Republic Steel’s chairman who participated in the launch.[1]


The William J. De Lancey departed Lorain on her maiden voyage May 10, 1981, sailing in ballast to Silver Bay, Minnesota, to load 55,944 tons of iron ore pellets. She arrived back in Lorain on May 16, 1981. She holds a number of cargo records:[1]

  • August 7, 1982: 63,007 ton (64,019 tonne) load at Escanaba, Michigan, for Indiana Harbor
  • July 20, 1983: broke the Lorain port record delivering 61,846 tons (61,846 mt) of iron ore pellets from Escanaba. She then established a lower lakes record by loading
  • first 71 cargos totaled 4,151,398 tons (4,218,086 mt), averaging 58,450 tons (59,389 mt) per load, restricted due to the lower draft in Lorain (less draft) and Escanaba to Indiana Harbor
  • holds lower lakes record of 50,239 net tons of coal, shipped from Ashtabula, Ohio, to Consumers Power
  • 2001 season: most cargo through the Soo Locks, 3,004,957 net tons

On termination of the Republic Steel contract, on May 23, 1990, she was rechristened MV Paul R. Tregurtha at Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, named in honor of the Vice Chairman of Interlake Steamship Co. On May 3, 2002, her only captain died in his cabin, Captain Mitch Hallin, aged 55.[1]

In winter 2004, she was asked to transport a reserve of coal to Algoma Steel in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, necessitating a mid-winter voyage. Loading 43,000 net tons in Conneaut, Ohio, both United States and Canadian Coast Guard services provided ice breaking assistance so that the voyage was completed without any delays. After unloading on January 29, she departed for her normal winter lay-up in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin.[1]

Lee A. Tregurtha

Launched 1942 as the Walter A. Sterling, and later renamed Lee A. Tregurtha the ship shared the title of “Queen of the Lakes” during the year of 1962.l-a-tregurtha-csx-4 leea5-30-02-rl

Paul R Tregurtha at Soo bow