Benjamin F. Fairless

The 639-foot long steel bulk carrier, Benjamin F. Fairless, was launched at the Lorain yard of American Shipbuilding Company in 1942, built for the Pittsburgh Steamship Company. The Fairless and four other vessels; Leon Fraser, Enders M. Voorhees, A.H. Ferbert, and Irving S. Olds, became the longest vessels on the Lakes, more commonly known as the “Queen of the Lakes” surpassing the 623-foot-long Carl D. Bradley built in 1927. This swallowtail name flag was used in the launching of Benjamin F. Fairless. A name flag is not very commonly used, typically name flags are used for ceremonial purposes, such as the vessel’s launching and maiden voyages. The Fairless name flag is the largest flag in the collection of the National Museum of the Great Lakes at a whopping thirty feet long! Twice as long as the Norman F. Foy name flag on display in our museum gallery. A massive flag for a massive boat.

Benjamin F. Fairless earned its name in recognition of the influential steel entrepreneur Benjamin Franklin Fairless. Mr. Fairless had ties with many major steel companies such as American Steel Company, Republic Steel, Carnegie-Illinois Steel Company, and US Steel. He served as vice-president, president, and sat on the board of directors for these companies. Benjamin was a well-known humanitarian and one of the few steel executives to permit unionization within the industry. The bulk carrier became an instant favorite for ship watchers and “boat nerds.” The Fairless sailed for forty years ending its service with US Steel having been laid up in 1942 and later sent overseas to be scrapped in 1988. 

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