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Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding (FBS) and The Interlake Steamship Company have performed the keel-laying ceremony for a Great Lakes bulk carrier.

It is the first US-flagged Great Lakes bulk carrier constructed in over 35 years.

The ceremony was held at shipyard’s graving dock in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, US, on 23 June after the engineering and prefabrication work.

The ship was revealed by Interlake chairman James R Barker who named it Mark W Barker, after his son.

Barker said: “This ship is more than the steel assembled here by Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding.

“This ship represents Interlake’s determination to be an active and responsible participant in all aspects of Great Lakes trade.”

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“This ship is being named for my son, Mark W Barker, to recognise the many contributions that he has made to the company, the industry and to our community. In addition, this naming reflects the successful management team that he has put together.”

The ceremony saw the third-generation members of the Interlake placing of the newly minted silver and gold coins under the keel, on which the ship will be built.

Luke and Eli Barker were selected as the symbolic ‘young apprentices’.

The new River-class self-unloading bulk carrier will be 639ft-long and will be used to transport salt, iron ore and stone among other raw materials to support the Great Lakes region.

Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding vice-president and general manager Todd Thayse said: “Our workforce is very proud to construct what will become a ‘homeport ship’.

“This large-scale bulk carrier is being built on the Great Lakes and will operate right here on the Great Lakes, which creates a sense of local and regional pride. Today’s ceremony with Interlake and the naming of the vessel really brings this ship to life. We are excited and appreciative for Interlake’s continued confidence in the quality of our work.”