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The past few years Duluth Minnesota has been receiving huge electricity generating windmill parts. While the parts arrive in many different bottoms the majority this year are BBC Chartering - bbc-chartering.com. Right now as I write this there are three BBC ships alongside and three anchored out in Lake Superior. Two loaded with windmill parts waiting to replace their company ships plus one that delivered windmill parts now reconfigured waiting for a grain cargo.

Three other BBC ships are showing on AIS but still in eastern waters. The windmill parts of these six ships + one that left yesterday originated in the ports of seven different countries: Croatia, France, Germany, India, Mexico, Spain and the Netherlands.

These BBC ships are neat they can easily convert to carry three different types of cargoes bulk, containers, and heavy lift with a pair of 80 ton cranes. The windmill parts are heavy even the 100 feet long aluminum blades. They use both cranes to discharge the LONG blades. The vessels are configured with upper and lower cargo holds when carrying windmill parts plus the main deck.

This also the time of the year - grain harvest season - when Duluth and Superior export a lot of grains. So far all of these recent BBC vessels, upon completing discharge of windmill parts, they go out in the lake and reconfigure for bulk cargoes and get in line for a grain cargo.

I watched on one DHC cam the BBC Mississippi begin to reconfigure while still alongside. They restored the spaces between the hatches that seemed to snap into place? I did not see anyone using tools. Then they removed the bulkheads from the hold and stored them on deck vertically between the hatches. They left before I saw what they did with the tween deck pontoons but a picture on the BBC website shows them stored stacked atop the # 1 hatch and # 6 on a cargo of containers. They have capacity for just shy of 1,000 TEU.

The ships nominally have six hatches but for windmill blades the entire hatch can be opened up. The spaces between the hatches are temporarily removable and stored on the wharf alongside. When the cargo discharge is down to the tween deck. The pontoons are only slightly smaller than the hatch openings and are built in one piece from ballast tank to ballast tank. The pontoons are stacked atop each other on the wharf alongside.

Denny O'Hara a successful Duluth photographer - northernimages.com - has eleven streaming video cameras - duluthharborcam.com - eight in Duluth and Superior including both entries plus two camera's in Two Harbors MN and one camera in Silver Bay MN. Duluth, Superior, Two Harbors and Silver Bay each have one taconite loading dock.

From Duluth the windmill parts are trucked all over the US mid-west and into Canada. With Duluth being about twenty five hundred miles from the sea vessels need to transit the St Lawrence River and Seaway. Then cross Lake Ontario and transit the Welland Canal. Then Lakes Erie, and Huron before reaching Lake Superior.

Duluth ac***ulates the delivered windmill parts. In the winter months semi-tractors and flat bed trailers deliver the parts when there is less highway traffic. The 100 feet long blades become part of the truck when transported. The blade base is anchored down on a flat bed trailer behind the tractor. Then way back at the end is another trailer that is strapped to the blade. Four pilot vehicles are used when transporting blades two in the front and two bringing up the rear. In the summer months the deep concrete foundations are dug, formed and poured. The work in erecting the windmills is done during the winter when the ground is frozen to support the heavy trucks and cranes.
 
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