The keel was laid on April 16, 1979 for this self-unloading bulk freighter at Bay Shipbuilding Co., Sturgeon Bay, WI as their hull # 720. The new "1,000-footer" was launched October 28, 1979 and christened Burns Harbor on May 24, 1980 for Wilmington Trust, Wilmington, DE (Bethlehem Steel Corp., Great Lakes Steamship Div., Cleveland, OH, managers). The new self-unloader was the tenth "1,000-footer" to enter service on the Great Lakes and the third to enter service for this fleet. The other two were the Stewart J. Cort still operating with the fleet and the Lewis Wilson Foy now sailing as the Oglebay Norton for the Oglebay Norton Marine Services fleet. The Burns Harbor was named to honor Bethlehem Steel's newest steelmaking complex at the time of her launch, the complex being located at Burns Harbor, IN.