Paul R. Tregurtha, The reigning “Queen of the Lakes” title holder as the longest vessel on the Great Lakes at 1,013’ 06” (308.91m) was constructed in two sections. With her keel being laid July 12, 1979; the bow and part of the cargo section was built at American Ship Building Co., Toledo, OH and towed upon completion to American Ship Building Co., Lorain, OH where it was mated with the stern portion as hull # 909 and formally launched February 4, 1981. The vessel was christened April 25, 1981 as the William J. De Lancey for Interlake Steamship Co., Richfield, OH. The large self-unloader was built for Interlake's customer Republic Steel and was named in honor of its Chairman. Mr. De Lancey was in attendance and participated in the launching of his namesake.
The large self-unloading bulk carrier is powered by 2 Colt-Pielstick model 16PC2-3V-400 V-16 cylinder, four stroke, single acting diesel engines each rated at 8,560 b.h.p. built by Fairbanks Morse Engine Div., Colt Industries, Beloit, WI. Burning intermediate grade 280 fuel, power is directed through a Falk single reduction gear box to twin 17’06” (5.33m) diameter controllable pitch propellers giving the vessel a rated service speed of 15.5 m.p.h. She is equipped with a 1,500 h.p. bow thruster. Equipped with 36 hatches servicing 5 holds; the vessel is capable of carrying 68,000 long tons (69,092 mt) of iron ore at a mid-summer draft of 30’ 01” (9.17m) or a cubic capacity for 71,250 net tons of coal (equivalent of 63,616 long tons by comparison). Her Stephens-Adamson design loop belt elevator system feeds a stern mounted 260’ (79.25m) discharge boom that can be swung 100 degrees to port or starboard and is capable of unloading at a rate of 10,000 tons (10,161 mt) of ore per hour or 6,000 net tons of coal per hour. The self-unloader displaces 14,497 tons (14,730 mt) lightweight.
The William J. De Lancey was designed specifically for carrying ore for Republic Steel from Lake Superior ports to their mill at Indiana Harbor, IN or to their transshipment terminal at Lorain, OH. Built at an approximate cost of $60 million, she became the flagship of the Interlake fleet. Included in her construction were elaborate luxurious passenger accommodations to be used by Interlake’s most important business customers. For her crew, the William J. De Lancey’s construction included air conditioning throughout, elevators, and luxurious décor in the dining, mess rooms, and crew’s quarters. She was thusly and affectionately given the nickname “Fancy De Lancey”. The William J. De Lancey 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 American Ship Building, Lorain, OH