Mega-freighter makes a detour to drop injured crewman in Port

TAKING ADVANTAGE OF the calm between two gales, the 1,000-foot freighter Stewart J. Cort stopped off Port Washington Tuesday morning to transfer an injured crewman to a Coast Guard boat, which brought him to an ambulance waiting in the marina parking lot. The freighter then continued steaming north to Lake Superior. Photo by Bill Schanen IV
Ozaukee Press staff

Tuesday’s calm weather was a welcome sight for the Port Washington rescue squad, which was called to the lakefront to pick up a crew member from the freighter Stewart J. Cort about 9 a.m.

While the rescue itself was relatively easy, the process wasn’t.

A crew member aboard the freighter, which was on its way from Burns Harbor, Ind., to the Port of Duluth-Superior, had struck his head on a valve, Fire Chief Mark Mitchell said. Although the man never lost consciousness, he required medical attention according to the company’s protocol.

So the 1,000-foot-long ship notified the Coast Guard, which sent a boat from Milwaukee to meet the Stewart J. Cort outside the Port breakwater.

The crew member was transferred to the Coast Guard vessel, which brought him to the marina. There, he was transferred to a Port ambulance and taken to Aurora Medical Center in Grafton, Mitchell said.

“I think he (the crew member) seemed more upset that he had to go through this than he was about the injury,” he said. “He was sitting up, talking to the ambulance crew.”

The Cort then headed north while the Coast Guard vessel returned to Milwaukee, Mitchell said.

It was a good thing the Stewart J. Cort arrived in Port when it did, Mitchell said.

Monday, a southeast gale caused massive waves in the harbor.

“We wouldn’t have gone out there,” Mitchell said. 

And later Tuesday, another gale struck.

But when the rescue occurred, “It was like glass,” Harbormaster Dennis Cherny said. “You wouldn’t know there was a storm yesterday.”

Tuesday’s rescue was also unique in that it gave area residents a glimpse of a unique boat, as the Steward J. Cort was the first 1,000-foot freighter to ply the Great Lakes.

The Cort, which can carry 58,000 gross tons of cargo, is operated by Interlake Steamship Co., which notes it began sailing on the Great Lakes in 1972. 

Her bow and stern sections were built by Ingalls Shipbuilding in Mississippi, then joined together for her trip to the Great Lakes.

Once at Erie Marine in Erie, Penn., the boat — which at that point was nicknamed Stubby — was cut apart at an area designated by the “Cut Here” instructions painted on the hull. 

The boat’s midsection was then built and joined with the bow and stern. The Cort is also the only 1,000-foot freighter with a forward pilot house.

In honor of the fact the vessel was the first 1,000-footer on the Great Lakes, the numeral one is painted on her aft house.

The boat was named after the late vice president of Bethlehem Steel and took its maiden voyage on May 1, 1972.


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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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