History Series Premiere 'Great Lake Warriors': Thursday July 19

Categories: Network TV Press Releases

Written By

July 2nd, 2012

via press release:


The lake, it is said, never gives up her dead

When the skies of November turn gloomy.



Thursday, July 19th, at 10pm ET/9pm CT


New York, NY, July 2, 2012 - In the heart of America, on a deadly inland sea that has claimed as many as 6000 vessels and 30,000 lives, a way of life exists that few ever witness. Men who breathe diesel fumes and watch every step they take on shifting decks. Men who battle the elements, wrestle with runaway vessels, fight fatigue and sometimes risk all in the struggle to make a living.


They are tugboat men, sailors in constant combat with the deadly storms and hazards of the Great Lakes– men who work against the clock, fighting thick ice forming in every direction under treacherous winter conditions - winds whip so fierce it could knock an entire crew off deck in the blink of an eye. A new 8-part HISTORY series, GREAT LAKE WARRIORS, premiering Thursday, July 19, 10pm ET/9C, will dive into the lives of the tough crews who call 94,000 square miles of wild blue water home.


The lakes continue to be a thriving industrial highway that delivers nearly 200 million tons of cargo to the heart of America.  But for the months leading up to the dead of winter, only a few courageous men dare to brave these turbulent waters, where winds can hit 70 miles an hour, and waves over 30 feet high.


For some, the tug business is the family heritage.  For others, it’s a lifelong dream.  But for all of the GREAT LAKE WARRIORS, it’s a life-on-the-line mission to get the job done and make it back home alive.


The main characters:

Captain John Selvick Known as ‘The Legend’ on the lakes, Selvick has been behind the controls of tugboats since he was seven when his father, Curly Selvick, took him on board in the cold waters around Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. It has not been an easy life for John, now owner of Calumet River Fleeting in Chicago and Selvick Marine Towing in Sturgeon Bay. He lost his grandfather and a brother in tugboat accidents. Their bodies were never recovered.

Capt. Ted Long A workhorse of Calumet River Fleeting, Long is known as “Capt. Nice” for his penchant for chewing out deckhands who have slacked off. He has followed in the footsteps of his father, a tug captain who dropped him off on a boat on Christmas Eve when he was 14. Ted never looked back.

Capt. Mike Ojard A dreamer and a doer, Mike has put his money and sometimes his life on the line in Duluth, Minnesota to start a tug company on Lake Superior, the deadliest and wildest of all five Great Lakes. He has enlisted a corps of volunteers from his circle of family and friends to carve out a piece of the tug trade on Superior. He hopes to create a new generation of sailors in his family, one that has marine heritage in its blood.

Patrick Ojard He still has his day job, but he loves boats as much as his father Mike. So he and his wife sunk $50,000 into the operation to help buy a tug. Now a volunteer on deck and in the engine room, he is working to make sure his father’s dream comes true so that tug boating will be the family heritage.

Capt. Gerry Dawson In Thunder Bay, Ontario, on the wild north shore of Lake Superior, Gerry owns and operates a tug company that does everything – ship tows, ice breaking, salvage, and sometimes search and rescue. He once put his own life on the line to rescue crew from a foundering vessel in 15-foot waves and 70 knot winds. He and his crew were awarded medals for their bravery.

Capt. Stan Dawson Older brother of Gerry, Stan is the wild one and claims that you “don’t have to be crazy to do this, but it helps.” He has been on the lakes since he was a teenager, working for his father. “I can make a tugboat dance,” Stan says.


Filming was done on Lake Michigan, including Calumet Harbor, Illinois; Gary and Burns Harbors, Indiana; Milwaukee, Oak Creek, Sturgeon Bay, and Marinette, Wisconsin; and on Lake Superior, including Duluth-Superior Harbor and Thunder Bay, Ontario Canada.


GREAT LAKE WARRIORS was produced for History by Towers Productions, LLC and Compass Point Productions, LLC; Executive Producers JONATHAN TOWERS, JIM CAMPBELL, GEORGE HOUDE and MARTY BERNSTEIN, and Show Runner/Co-Executive Producer JOSEPH BOYLE.  Executive Producer for History is MATTHEW GINSBURG.

  • Michelle

    I know Tugs are an important part of the big ship’s day to day travels. I’ve seen them in action in a river in Cleveland Ohio. I’ve even seen a big ship break ice for another big ship! Teamwork is vital among the vessels of our Great Lakes. Bless all of the sailors on Tugs and Ships alike during their travels and hard work every season!

  • Debbie

    As an avid student of Great Lakes shipping since I was a small child, I am thrilled to see the heroic Great Lakes skippers get the recognition they deserve. For people who have never seen or sailed on them, the Great Lakes are difficult to comprehend. They are rough, treacherous seas, much easier to churn up than the oceans, due to their relative “shallow” depths. Beautiful and awe-inspiring, it is going to be wonderful for the uninitiated to get acquainted with our “Inland Seas”.

  • Kelly

    I grew up as a US Steel sailor’s daughter and still have a brother who works the ore boats on the great lakes. I have sailed them and grew up on the shore of Lake Superior, I have feared them and always respected them. Our family lost friends on the Fitzgerald and understand “the witch of November” better than most. I can’t tell you how excited I am to watch this program! Most people have no concept of what these lakes are and what they mean to those of us who grew up with them as an integral part of our everyday lives!



  • Daniel Stephen

    Cool show. I would think a veteran boat Captain from the Great Lakes would know there were 29 lives lost on the Edmund Fitzgerald, not 34 like he said during the show.

  • Phil Schneider

    I’ve only watched the one show so far.
    I just KNOW there’s got to be more to the Great Lakes story than what’s been shown so far.
    I grew up in Milwaukee and watched the shipping industry from that harbor and many others. I touched the Edmund Fitzgerald when it was wintered @ Jones island in the 70s. I just recently visited the Whitefish Point Great Lakes Maritime Museum and viewed the Fitzgerald memorial there.
    There’s thousands of ships on the bottom of those Great Lakes and a thousand stories to go with them.
    Come on History Channel give us MORE of the Great Lakes LORE!

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