Capt. Jakob “Jake” Van Reenen was watchful as the 10-wheeler fuel truck inched down the dock and into the cargo well of Seaway Supplier, a 1954 landing craft.
The instant the truck’s front tires touched Seaway Supplier’s deck, it began to push the vessel away from the dock. Van Reenen reacted, throttling forward to keep his vessel flush with the dock, until loading was completed safely. The fuel truck was then carried across the St. Lawrence River to Grindstone Island to deliver its cargo. At the dock on Grindstone, the same careful control of the vessel throttle was necessary for an uneventful offloading.
Seaway Supplier is the newest acquisition of Seaway Marine Group, owned and operated by Van Reenen in the St. Lawrence River town of Clayton, N.Y. His other boats are smaller and associated with TowBoatUS, although Seaway Supplier is also used in small boat salvage. His family has spent summers in the Thousand Islands since his great-grandfather kept a houseboat there. He now lives in Clayton year-round.
Locally, what Seaway Supplier does is called barging. A customer would say something like, “What is the charge for barging my car over to Grindstone?” But whether you call it a self-propelled barge, LCM-8, or Mike-8, as others say, Seaway Supplier is U.S. Coast Guard-certificated and classified as a freight ship. It was launched in 1954 as U.S. Army LCM-8010, a product of Higgins Industries in New Orleans. Two twin-pack Detroit Diesel engines (four 6-71s) generate about 600 hp, turning two 34-inch-diameter three-bladed screws. The outboard engines of each twin pack also drive air compressors for the air-assist ramp and steering. The inboard engines are belted to battery chargers as well as dewatering and fire pumps.