2011: Laker Christened in Honor of Oberstar

Updated: 05/24/2011 11:50 PM
Created: 05/24/2011 4:21 PM
By: Renee Passal

Congressman Jim Oberstar's transportation legacy will live on, on the Great Lakes.

In May 2011, an Interlake Steamship vessel was re-named the Hon. James L. Oberstar.

A large group of people were invited to the official christening of the laker. The ceremony took place behind the DECC, in a brisk wind.

"I'm thrilled with this honor," Oberstar said. "This vessel has carried 1.5 million tons of iron ore from the Iron Range to the steel mills on the lower lakes." On a more personal note, he said that his father dreamt of being in the Merchant Marines, and now the Oberstar name will be included in the Merchant Marine fleet.

His former colleague in Congress, Dave Obey of Wisconsin, said, "There's no one else who knows the issues of the Great Lakes like Jim does." Oberstar is an 18-term Congressman, who served as the Chairman of the Transportation Committee as well.

Oberstar's wife Jean is the sponsor of the ship, which by tradition means she's an advocate for the vessel and shares her personality with it. She also did the ceremonial bottle breaking on the ship.

"She's a perfect fit. She's feisty, she's on time like vessels should be. She loves the water, she loves to sail," said her husband.

The Oberstar's first task was to load iron ore pellets and head to Indiana.

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