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“Salties” with wind turbine parts attracting lots of attention in Muskegon

This week people in Muskegon have been checking out a rare sight; several giant foreign ships that have docked there to unload cargo.

Crews in neon hard hats carefully lower a nearly 200-foot-long wind turbine blade from a massive ship onto a special truck that’s three times as long as a normal semi-trailer. The carbon fiber blades from Germany weigh about 22,000 pounds. The tower sections shipped from Korea can weigh up to 68 tons.

Credit Lindsey smith / Michigan Radio
Michigan Radio
German crews on board the ship help guide the blade down to a custom semi-truck on shore.

These thirty blades are destined for a wind farm in Ithaca, south of Mount Pleasant.

About fifty people gathered Thursday afternoon to watch. Families with small children snapped photos.

Life-long Muskegon resident Judy Dobberstein says she’s only seen the foreign ships, or “salties,” a couple of times before.

“This is the best viewing of salties that I think I’ve ever seen; one after another like this. This is really cool,” Dobberstien said.

Max McKee is President of West Michigan Dock & Market Corporation, known as “The Mart Dock.” The company has run the deep water port in Muskegon since 1933. He says a foreign vessel like this usually only comes once every several years.

“We’ve had seven come in this fall for this project. It’s safe to say that this is the biggest project of exporting goods into Muskegon possibly ever,” McKee said, “This would be big for any port in the Great Lakes.”

It's not clear exactly how much of an impact the project will have on the region's economy. But McKee is thrilled with the business. McKee says Muskegon could continue to benefit if wind power develops and grows in the Great Lakes region.

“Especially (Muskegon) that’s blessed with this deep port. The things that we could do here could really transform this community and it’s a hurting community right now,’ McKee said.

Lindsey Smith helps lead the station'sAmplify Team. She previously served as Michigan Public's Morning News Editor, Investigative Reporter and West Michigan Reporter.
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