Jeramey Jannene

Track Ships Coming Into The Port

New feature on Port Milwaukee's website allows you to track all ships entering and leaving the port.

By - Dec 27th, 2021 05:43 pm
Isolda docks in Milwaukee. Photo by Jack Fennimore.

Isolda docks in Milwaukee. File photo by Jack Fennimore.

Ever wonder what’s coming into Milwaukee’s port?

A feature on Port Milwaukee’s new website allows the public to track ships entering and exiting the 467-acre port.

The vessels come from other Great Lakes ports, coastal ports, Canada, Europe and north Africa.

You’ll see more than freighters. Vessels like the Lake Express High-Speed Ferry, which in warmer months makes daily trips between Milwaukee and Muskegon, appear on the tracker. When cruise ships return to the Great Lakes, expected in 2022, they will appear as well.

The most recent ship to visit Milwaukee’s port was the G.L. Olstrander, a tug boat that pushes cement barges for LaFarge. It arrived on Christmas and departed Monday.

Milwaukee’s harbor and the Great Lakes may soon see plenty of ice cover. The sheet of ice doesn’t totally prohibit traffic, but it does substantially slow the number of ships that will call on Milwaukee’s port until spring.

Come spring a steady stream of ships will return, including the Isolda (pictured above). The bulk carrier is flagged out of Cyprus and is currently en route from Montreal, Canada to Belfast, Northern Ireland.

In 2020, the city-owned Port Milwaukee and its private tenants handled 2.81 million metric tons of cargo. Major commodities include salt, cement, limestone, grain and steel.

A total of 349 vessels called on the port last year, including 30 foreign ships.

There are two ships you won’t see on the track: the St. Mary’s Challenger and St. Mary’s Conquest. The cement ships, which run frequently between Michigan and other Great Lakes ports, were cut down to barges and require another ship to move. If you want to track them you’ll want to look for their tugboats, the Prentiss Brown and the Bradshaw McKee. The Challenger and Brown are currently paired together, headed towards Cleveland. The Conquest and McKee are returning to Charlevoix, MI from Manitowoc.

In the coming years, port officials are expecting a boom in traffic. Construction is underway on a $35 million agricultural maritime export facility on Jones Island. It’s the biggest investment in the port since the St. Lawrence Seaway opened in the 1950s. The facility will primarily ship an ethanol byproduct to Europe, the Middle East and Africa for use as animal feed.

And you can use the vessel-tracking service to see far more than Milwaukee. Visit The service powers the special window on the port’s website, but its full website shows ships across the globe.

If you think stories like this are important, become a member of Urban Milwaukee and help support real, independent journalism. Plus you get some cool added benefits.

Categories: Transportation, Weekly

Leave a Reply

You must be an Urban Milwaukee member to leave a comment. Membership, which includes a host of perks, including an ad-free website, tickets to marquee events like Summerfest, the Wisconsin State Fair and the Florentine Opera, a better photo browser and access to members-only, behind-the-scenes tours, starts at $9/month. Learn more.

Join now and cancel anytime.

If you are an existing member, sign-in to leave a comment.

Have questions? Need to report an error? Contact Us