Shipwatcher News was started in 2014 by Brendan Falkowski as a small handwritten news bulletin on Great Lakes freighters.  The newsletter, now called the Freighters, is a digital edition sent out bi-monthly throughout the year.

Meet the Shipwatcher News team

Brendan R. Falkowski

A Great Lakes ship enthusiast since his early childhood, Brendan shares his passion for the freighters through his newsletter, research, and photography. Brendan is a 2022 graduate of Bath High School, and is currently attending University of Michigan’s College of Engineering studying Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering before pursuing a degree in Business Management.

Outside of his newsletter work, Brendan is a consultant serving the needs of businesses with services varying from research and document presentation to scale model sailboat design and construction to photography.

He is an avid musician, having served as the drum major for his high school band, and now is a member of the trumpet section in the University of Michigan Marching Band.

He also is a competitive sailor, helping to found the Bath High School Sailing Team and serving as the Team Captain for its inaugural season. He enjoys sailing, photography, and spending time with his friends and family.

Brendan is a member of the National and Michigan Societies of Professional Engineers (NSPE and MSPE), Marine Historical Society of Detroit (MHSD), and the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers (SNAME).

Brendan Falkowski at the christening of the Mark W. Barker

See Brendan Falkowski’s Freshwater Photography at FineArtAmerica and Pixels!

Brendan’s writings can be found in the Detroit Marine Historian, the monthly newsletter of the Marine Historical Society of Detroit, Boatnerd.com, Great Lakes-Seaway Review, and more.

Brendan Falkowski from Shipwatcher News was featured as a guest writer for the “Generations” column of Great Lakes-Seaway Review in the July-September 2021 edition. Check out the article at this link. See page 53.

Samuel C. Hankinson

A 2021 graduate of Central Michigan University, Sam is currently the Port Development Coordinator at the Port of Monroe primarily tasked with identifying new cargo and infrastructure opportunities, improving current operations, and promoting the port in social media circles.

In the past he has been involved with high-level research projects in partnership with the University of Michigan’s Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy relating to port governance and beneficial reuse.

He currently serves on the board of both the Marine Historical Society of Detroit (MHSD) and Boatnerd.com, serving as secretary of MHSD.

He is involved with the annual publication Know Your Ships and writes the weekly Ship’s Log column in the Grand Haven Tribune, profiling the maritime commerce in his hometown harbor of Grand Haven.

In addition, he is a Young Professional Member of the Inland Waterways Committee as part of the Transportation Research Board.

His favorite places on the Great Lakes include Grand Haven’s South Pier, the Rock Cut on the St. Marys River, the Marine City lighthouse on the St. Clair River, and Flood Bay outside Two Harbors, MN.

Sam Hankinson with the Michigan Trader
Sam Hankinson with the Herbert C. Jackson


I would like to thank everyone who has supported and helped me with Shipwatcher News. Special thanks goes to my original subscribers, parents, family, friends, and teachers who all encouraged me in the early years of SN. I also would like to thank all of those who have helped me expand SN, with help from the teams at Sand Products Corporation, Shepler’s Mackinac Island Ferry, Bay Engineering, Interlake Steamship Company, NETSCo., VanEnkevort Tug & Barge, Sam Hankinson, and Roger LeLievre with Know Your Ships. Thank you to my “team” of photographers, Sam Hankinson, Jim Hoffman, Daniel Lindner, Roger LeLievre, Isaac Pennock, Gus & David Schauer, and Logan Vasicek, who have all allowed me to share their photos in the SN newsletters. Freighters newsletter would not look the same without their fantastic work! Thank you to Fred Miller III, who freshened up the Shipwatcher News logo for me. If you like the new logo, check out his work on Etsy at FreeEyesFM. Finally, I would like to thank the naval architects and marine engineers, Travis Martin, Fred Koller, and Nicholas Posh from Bay Engineering, Eric Helder from Interlake Steamship Company, Nick Hunter from NETSCo., and Andrew MacDonald from Port City Marine Services, who have assisted me and provided insight into the field of Naval Architecture & Marine Engineering for the Engineering Department articles. Working with them has continued to inspire me and excite me about the field that I someday hope to make a career. Without you all, and many more, Shipwatcher News would not be where it is today.

~Brendan Falkowski

All of the images on this website are copyright Brendan Falkowski unless otherwise noted.  Nothing from this website may be republished, reproduced, or rewritten in any way, shape, or form.