The large tug Samuel de Champlain was built in 1976 by Mangone Shipbuilding of Houston, TX as the Musketeer Fury for Bernhard Hansen AS of Norway. In 1978 she was sold and renamed Tender Panther. The following year she was sold again and renamed Margarita. She was sold Italian in 1983 and renamed Vortice. In 1993, the Vortice suffered a major fire off the Azores in the Atlantic Ocean. The tug was laid up in Trieste, Italy until 1996, when McKeil Marine of Hamilton, Ontario acquired the burned-out hulk. It was towed across the Atlantic to McKeil’s yard in Hamilton on Lake Ontario. McKeil re-sold the Vortice to Sea Force Marine of Norfolk, Virginia in 1998. In Norfolk the tug was completely rebuilt and renamed Norfolk in 1999, but never saw any service for Sea Force. LaFarge North America purchased the Norfolk in 2005 and brought her back into the Great Lakes for conversion to an articulated tug. A Bludworth coupler system was added and the tug was renamed Samuel de Champlain. The tug is paired with the cement barge Innovation.
The Samuel de Champlain keeps busy carrying powdered cement out of Alpena, Michigan to ports across the Great Lakes.
- Type: Twin Screw Articulated Tugboat
- Year Built: 1976
- Builder: Mangone Shipbuilding, Houston, TX
- Hull No.: 120
- Engines: 2 EMD 20-645-E5
- Horsepower: 7,200 bhp
- Length: 140′ 02″
- Breadth: 39′ 02″
- Depth: 20′ 00″
- Port of Registry: Cleveland, OH