Great Lakes & Seaway Shipping News Archive

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Winds cause problems in Buffalo area

1/31 - Buffalo - Gale force winds caused massive problems in the Buffalo area Wednesday night.

High water levels on the East end of Lake Erie caused heavy pack ice to overrun the Niagara River Ice Boom and large flows were seen racing down the upper Niagara River. The Army Corps of Engineers were unable to determine the extent of the damage to the boom itself, since it remained partially submerged due to the large volume of ice passing over and high water levels. The boom is intended to hold back floating ice to avoid damage down stream hydroelectric plants.

The Black Rock Canal became plugged with ice causing water to back up in Scajaquada Creek, flooding the viaduct under the CSX Niagara Branch bridge on Niagara St.

The Buffalo River then jammed with ice and caused major flooding throughout the surrounding neighborhoods from the base of the Skyway Bridge all the way upstream to the Ohio St. Lift Bridge area of the old First Ward.

Reported by Brian Wroblewski


Updates - January 31

News Photo Gallery updated

Lay Up List updated

News Photo Submission Guidelines Revised


Today in Great Lakes History - January 31

The MANZZUTTI was launched January 31, 1903, as a.) J S KEEFE (Hull#203) at Buffalo, New York by the Buffalo Dry Dock Co.

January 31, 1930 - While the Grand Trunk carferry MADISON was leading the way across Lake Michigan to Grand Haven, she was struck from behind by her sister ship GRAND RAPIDS.

Data from: Max Hanley, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series. This is a small sample, the books includes many other vessels with a much more detailed history.


High Winds Cause Seiche on Lake Erie

1/30 - Lake Erie - A low pressure system moving across the region has brought high winds causing the water levels to drop on the west end of Lake Erie. With gale warnings post across the lakes, Lake Erie was experiencing a sieche effect where the winds and low pressure move the water from one end of the lake to the other.

The western basin of Lake Erie was measuring over 6 feet below chart datum while the water level at Buffalo was reported to be 10 feet above low water datum.

On the east end of the lake in Port Colborne, ice was been pushed up over the wall at the former fuel dock and surrounds Canadian Transport and Canadian Enterprise. Two cars were on the dock in the water and surrounded by ice.

At 7 a.m. a water gauge station at Monroe, Michigan reported a water level of minus 46.7 inches below chart datum. At Buffalo the water gauge reported 118.2 inches above chart datum. By 4 p.m. the water level on the west end of the lake at Monroe had risen to 1.5 inches above datum while the level at Buffalo had dropped to 48 inches above.


Winds blow train cars into Sandusky Bay
Freight Car Carrying Hazardous Materials Missing

1/30 - Bay Bridge, OH - Authorities said a train has derailed on a bridge over northern Ohio's Sandusky Bay, sending as many as four cars into the water below.

Ottawa County Sheriff Robert Bratton said one freight car known to be carrying hazardous materials has not been accounted for and may be among those in the bay. He did not have further information on the car's load.

Bratton said the derailment occurred around 4:15 a.m. Wednesday and said authorities are assuming the train cars were blown off the bridge by high winds. The National Weather Service said gusts of more than 50 mph were recorded across northern Ohio overnight.

The rail bridge runs between the Sandusky area in Erie County and the Ottawa County peninsula that includes Port Clinton.

From Cleveland Newsnet5


Walter J. McCarthy Jr. Update

1/30 - Duluth - The McCarthy's owners were expected to meet Tuesday with the American Bureau of Shipping and U.S. Coast Guard to develop a plan to permanently repair the laker’s hull.

“Once that’s approved we’ll get started on repairing the hull,” Rhonda S. Johnson, spokeswoman for GATX, the parent company of the McCarthy’s owner, the American Steamship Company, said this afternoon. “The repair of the engines is ongoing.”

The McCarthy’s engine rooms flooded Jan. 14 after the ship’s hull was holed by a submerged object as the ship was backing into a slip at Superior’s Hallett No. 8 Dock. The McCarthy’s crew closed the engine rooms’ watertight doors and evacuated the rooms as the ship’s stern settled to the bottom in 20 feet of water. The water covered the ship’s four 3,500-horsepower General Motors Electro Motive Division diesel engines.

Salvage efforts began that week, with workers pumping water from the ship’s ballast tanks. That brought the ship’s stern up in the water, until only about five feet of water remained in the engine rooms. Workers installed a coffer dam over the hull in the ship’s bottom Friday, and the two engine rooms were pumped dry Friday and over the weekend. The water and oil was pumped into trucks on the dock and taken away to be treated.

It’s not known how long it will take to repair the ship. “Both engine rooms have been steam cleaned,” Johnson said. “We’re still looking at taking apart the engines and all of the equipment, working on the parts and seeing what we can do. At this point we don’t know for sure how long it will take. It could take several months, but we want to get it out sailing as soon as possible.”

Workers found a hole about 7 feet by 4 feet in size in the bottom of the ship. “It appears that there was a piece of concrete sitting on the bottom,” Johnson said. “It’s sealed off, so there is no more threat of pollution. We’ll be able to repair it from the inside, so we won’t have to dry dock it.”

From the Duluth News Tribune


Port Reports - January 30

Cheboygan - Jon Paul Michael
The tug Michigan and barge Great Lakes arrived Tuesday afternoon from Whiting, IN with a load for the BP Tank Facility. With the approaching winter storm and high winds it is anticipated that they will remain in Cheboygan several days.

Goderich - Dale Baechler
Canadian Olympic was able to get to the Sifto Salt dock after a couple of attempts on Tuesday afternoon. After heading into the outer harbour to turn and back in, she became stuck and had to head back out into the lake while the CCGS Samuel Risley and the MacDonald Marine tugs worked in the channel. She is sitting on the dock Wednesday morning but not loading, with very high winds blowing.


Port Colborne marine businesses pitch for new fuel dock on Port's east side

1/30 - Port Colborne, ON - Two local marine families were in council Monday with plans to build a new fuel dock on the city's east side.

Wayne Elliott, of the International Marine Group; and Ken Snider, of Snider Dock Services; came to council to ask for its blessing on a plan to build three fuel tanks in 2008 and possibly 21 more in the future on Canada Lands property that was once owned by Canada Furnace.

Elliott and Snider, who appeared representing Great Lakes Petroleum Co., plan to build a fuel dock to replace the Shell fuel dock - which moved out of Port Colborne in 2007, dismantling its equipment at the King Street site. That property is now owned by Nyon Oil Inc. Elliott said the ambitious plan would service 400 ships per year and provide economic spin-offs to other businesses in Port Colborne. He said the city would benefit from increased taxes.

"We would like to proceed with the purchase of land from Canada Land Corp.," Elliott said. He asked the city to draft a letter informing Canada Lands Corp. that it has no interest in the property, which is located on the city's east side, south of the Clarence Street Bridge.

Elliott said the new venture would be built to "state-of-the-art" specification and include clay berms. The tanks would be set back from the canal about 300 feet and the largest tank (of the first three being built) would hold 60,000 barrels of fuel. The two smaller tanks would hold an estimated seven tonnes of fuel each.

"There is no doubt the closing of Shell has been detrimental," Coun. David Barrick said. "This is a valid option. It is, after all, a working canal."

In his presentation, Elliott noted the city had been looking to develop lands on the east side of Port Colborne, with the possible construction of a community centre in mind. Elliott said the east side of the canal is better suited to fueling ships because of the prevailing winds that hold ships to the dock.

"We are negotiating with a company in the marine fueling business," Elliott said. "We expect to conclude those negotiations soon. What we want from the city is a letter confirming that it has no further interest in the land. We are also looking for council's blessing to open a new business in Port Colborne." Elliott said the company would like to either buy the land or enter into a long-term lease arrangement.

After the meeting, Elliott said Great Lakes Petroleum Co. could be in a position to move forward in as little as 60 days if the city were to back the project. He said the company could be fueling ships in Port Colborne by June of this year. Elliott estimates a working fuel dock in Port Colborne could inject $75 million annually into the local economy.

Snider said the new fuel dock would replace jobs and create new jobs. "Everybody wants this in Port Colborne," Elliott added. He agreed there are other locations that a community centre can be built.

From the Welland Tribune


Updates - January 30

News Photo Gallery updated

Lay Up List updated

News Photo Submission Guidelines Revised


Today in Great Lakes History - January 30

The ELMDALE was launched in 1909, as a.) CLIFFORD F MOLL (Hull#56) at Ecorse, Michigan by the Great Lakes Engineering Works.

The CHIEF WAWATAM was held up in the ice for a period of three weeks. On January 30, 1927, she went aground at North Graham Shoal in the Straits. She was later dry-docked at Great Lakes Engineering Works in Detroit where her forward propeller and after port wheel were replaced.

January 30, 1911 - The second PERE MARQUETTE 18 arrived Ludington, Michigan on her maiden voyage.

On 30 January 1881, ST ALBANS (wooden propeller passenger/package freight vessel, 135 foot, 435 tons, built in 1869, at Cleveland, Ohio) was carrying general merchandise, flour, cattle and 22 passengers in Lake Michigan. She rammed a cake of ice that filled the hole it made in her hull. She rushed for shore, but as the ice melted, the vessel filled with water. She sank 8 miles from Milwaukee. The crew and passengers made it to safety in the lifeboats. Her loss was valued at $35,000.

On 30 January 2000, crew began the removal of the four Hulett Ore Unloaders on Whiskey Island in Cleveland.

Data from: Max Hanley, Joe Barr, Dave Swayze, Father Dowling Collection, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series. This is a small sample, the books includes many other vessels with a much more detailed history.


Updates - January 29

News Photo Gallery updated

Lay Up List updated

News Photo Submission Guidelines Revised


Today in Great Lakes History - January 29

The BUCKEYE was launched January 29, 1910, as the straight decker a.) LEONARD B MILLER (Hull#447) at Cleveland, Ohio by the American Ship Building Co.

JOHN P REISS (Hull#377) was also launched this date in 1910, at Lorain, Ohio by American Ship Building Co.

January 29, 1987 - The BADGER almost capsized at her dock due to a broken water intake pipe.

On 29 January 1953, RICHARD M MARSHALL (steel propeller freighter, 643 foot, 10,606 gross tons) was launched in Bay City, Michigan at Defoe's shipyard (Hull #424). Later she was named JOSEPH S WOOD in 1957, JOHN DYKSTRA in 1966, and BENSON FORD in 1983. She was scrapped in 1987 at Recife, Brazil.

Data from: Max Hanley, Joe Barr, Dave Swayze, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series. This is a small sample, the books includes many other vessels with a much more detailed history.


Shipyards Fight Shortage of Workers

1/28 - Erie, Pa. -- Dirk VanEnkevort wanted to take advantage of a shipbuilding boom when his family's company leased one of the largest dry docks in the Great Lakes region in 2005. But now he is so short-handed he has turned to robots to help keep up.

His company, Erie Shipbuilding LLC, has since hired about 150 workers and equipped the facility on Lake Erie with sophisticated metalworking tools -- including robots. It now has orders to build eight oceangoing barges and plans to hire additional workers as needed. But as his order book fills, VanEnkevort faces a problem hampering dozens of other midsize commercial shipyards across the country: a shortage of skilled, experienced workers capable of assembling and welding freight ships.

To fight the shortage, VanEnkevort and other shipbuilders have scoured the country and recruited from afar. They have appealed to prospective employees at local high schools and started in-house training programs. VanEnkevort says his company plans to use robotic welders extensively.

Some shipyards have temporarily hired foreign laborers, including from Mexico and countries in Eastern Europe, under a federal program that allows businesses to obtain so-called H2B visas if they prove efforts to hire locally were unsuccessful. "There hasn't been any shipbuilding in Erie for quite some time," said VanEnkevort, 52. "So those people that were here are doing other things or moved away. We've just got to find people and train them, which is what we're doing."

After topping 100,000 in 1998, employment in the U.S. commercial shipbuilding and repair industry hovered around 91,000 to 92,000 for six years before climbing to 93,600 in 2006, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. At the same time, demand has soared, mostly at midsize shipyards. The industry -- though tiny on a global scale and prone to dramatic boom-and-bust cycles -- has seen its largest expansion since the 1970s in recent years.

The growth has been propelled by demand from shipping companies that are replacing or expanding fleets of aging tankers, tug boats, offshore supply vessels and other boats, in some cases to meet the fast-changing needs of the energy sector.

Single-hull tankers must be phased out and replaced with double-hulled tankers by 2015 under a federal law passed after the single-hull Exxon Valdez ran aground and spilled 11 million gallons of oil in Alaska in 1989. And oil and gas companies are ordering ever larger and more complex ships to support drilling activities in deeper waters of the Gulf of Mexico, said John Snyder, editor of the New York-based trade publication Marine Log.

The labor crunch in U.S. shipyards has been spawned by several factors, including competition from other trades that offer lucrative work, such as construction in areas hit by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, said Matthew Paxton, president of the Shipbuilders Council of America, a Washington-based trade group that represents more than 35 companies that operate about 100 shipyards nationwide.

"What we've found is there's been a lack of interest in some of the work that our shipyards are doing," Paxton said, citing government figures showing there are about 180 commercial shipyards of various sizes across the country.

Industry representatives have fought back by trying to promote the trade in communities near shipyards, and some firms have established training programs for welders and shipfitters -- workers who construct the vessels from parts, Paxton said. "A lot of our shipyards carry significant costs in training and getting people to come to their yards, and there's no guarantee they'll stay," Paxton said. "But they're still willing to do it."

"We have had to look at foreign labor when things get extremely tight," he said, noting that shipyards have tapped workers from Mexico and Eastern European countries with a history of shipbuilding, such as Croatia.

Bollinger Shipyards Inc. of Lockport, La., which operates 12 shipyards in Louisiana and one in Texas, has spent millions on housing for laborers, said Robert Socha, the company's executive vice president of sales and marketing. "It's not a cost-saving measure," he said. "It's a measure to keep your business flowing."

Bollinger's use of contract labor has also risen significantly, with contractors now comprising roughly 65 percent of its 3,200-strong work force compared with about 20 percent in the past, Socha said. "It's all based on people shortage." The company's chief administrative officer, Craig Roussel, said he could realistically "hire 400 people today," if they were qualified and available.

Tim Colton, an independent consultant based in Florida, said the labor shortage arose partly because the industry has never been high-paying. It's not a particularly large industry, he said, and most companies are family owned. A top welder at Erie Shipbuilding earns $18.50 an hour, an amount VanEnkevort said was comparable to pay offered by other companies in the industry. The shortage extends not only to hourly paid workers, but to supervisors, planners and engineers, "all the people that make the shipyard function," Colton said. "It's terrible."

Sean T. Connaughton, head of the U.S. Maritime Administration, said it was difficult to open a new commercial shipyard, even in the current robust market, because of regulatory hurdles. And the revival of existing facilities may be unattractive, he said. "They can make a lot more money selling that land to a condominium developer," he said.

But Dirk VanEnkevort hopes his company, with a 44-acre facility where ships had not been produced for decades, will become internationally competitive. He said he plans to expand his work force to 200. Employees' cars and trucks hint at the competition for labor within the industry, carrying license plates not only from Pennsylvania, but also from Louisiana and Ontario. Erie Shipbuilding's general manager was hired away from Bollinger.

One of the company's welders, Charlie Potter, 59, of Erie, said he had worked at a shingle factory for 24 years before it closed last year and he entered a training program at Erie Shipbuilding. "I learned flat welds, verticals, horizontals, overheads," he said, preparing to weld a deck section. "I love it. It's a young man's game, but I didn't have any choice."

From Yahoo News


Photo Submission Guidelines Revised

1/28 - The Photo Submission Guidelines for photographs sent in for the BoatNerd News Photo Gallery have been revised and updated.

In preparation for the coming boat watching season, please visit News Photo Submission Guidelines and review the updates to the guidelines. This will be a big help to the editorial staff who spend a lot of time keeping the site current.

Looking forward to the 2008-09 season, we want to say thanks to all who donated their time and photos to share with other viewers through the News Channel and News Photo Gallery. Keep them coming.


Updates - January 28

News Photo Gallery updated

Lay Up List updated


Today in Great Lakes History - January 28

SELKIRK SETTLER (Hull#256) was launched January 28, 1983, at Govan, Scotland by Govan Shipbuilding Ltd.

At 4:00 a.m. on 28 January 1879, the ferry SARNIA was discovered to be on fire while lying at Fitzgerald's yard in Port Huron. All of the cabins were destroyed although the fire department had the fire out within an hour. About $3,000 damage was done. She was in the shipyard to be remodeled and to have a stern wheel installed. Arson was suspected.

On 28 January 1889, The Port Huron Times announced that the Toledo & Saginaw Transportation Company went out of business and sold all of its vessel and its shipyard. The shipyard went to Curtis & Brainard along with the PAWNEE and MIAMI. The BUFFALO, TEMPEST, BRAINARD and ORTON went to Thomas Lester. The C F CURTIS, FASSET, REED and HOLLAND went to R. C. Holland. The DAYTON went to J. A. Ward and M. P. Lester. The TROY and EDWARDS were sold, but the new owners were not listed.

Data from: Joe Barr, Father Dowling Collection, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series. This is a small sample, the books includes many other vessels with a much more detailed history.


Updates - January 27

News Photo Gallery updated

Lay Up List updated


Today in Great Lakes History - January 27

In 1912, the Great Lakes Engineering Works' Ecorse yard launched the steel bulk freighter WILLIAM P SNYDER JR (Hull#83), for the Shenango Furnace Co.

The LEON FALK JR closed the 1974, season at Superior by loading 17,542 tons of ore bound for Detroit.

January 27, 1985 - The CITY OF MIDLAND 41 had to return to port (Ludington) after heavy seas caused a 30-ton crane to fall off a truck on her car deck.

On 27 January 1978, ALLEGHENY, the training vessel of the Great Lakes Maritime Academy (built in 1944, at Orange, Texas as a sea-going naval tug) capsized at her winter dock at Traverse City, Michigan from the weight of accumulated ice. She was recovered but required and expensive rebuild and was sold and renamed TUG MALCOLM in 1979.

On 27 January 1893, Charles Lonsby and Louis Wolf purchased the 161 foot wooden steam barge THOMAS D STIMSON for $28,000. The vessel was built in 1881, by W. J. Daley & Sons at Mt. Clemens, Michigan as a schooner and was originally named VIRGINIUS. She was converted to a steamship in 1887.

Data from: Max Hanley, Joe Barr, Dave Swayze, Father Dowling Collection, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series.


Program Cancelled - Willis B. Boyer program at Vantage Point

1/26 - Port Huron - The program has been cancelled, check the Calendar of Events page for future updates.

The Lake Huron Lore Marine Society presents its 3rd Annual Winter Steamboat Night on Saturday, January 26, at the Great Lakes Maritime Center in Port Huron.


Kraft proposes new dock for Nabisco mill

1/26 - Toledo - An East Toledo flour mill soon could receive grain by ship, along with its current truck and rail deliveries, if it proceeds with plans to build a dock and conveyor system on the Maumee River.

"Receiving grain by ship is not new to the Toledo mill, but we haven't done this since the '60s or the '70s," said Cathy Pernu, a spokesman for Kraft Foods Global Inc., which through merger eight years ago acquired the Nabisco Foods flour mill on Front Street. "We would like to have this transportation option available to us again."

To build the dock as proposed, Kraft will need occasional use of wharf space in front of part of the neighboring Toledo Shipyard, owned by the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority. The authority's board of directors was scheduled to consider a resolution Thursday approving an access agreement between Kraft and shipyard operator Ironhead Marine Inc. "The new Marine Terminal will generate significant new tonnage via marine transportation and will support a new bagging operation and trucking operation that will, in turn, generate new employment and significant economic development locally," according to a staff report to the port directors.

Neither the port authority nor Ironhead would be paid for Kraft's use of the shipyard wharf, but would benefit from improvements Kraft would undertake to make it usable and from river dredging that would improve navigation not only to the mill but to the shipyard, port officials said. All of Kraft's unloading equipment and conveyors would be on its side of the property line.

"Finally, the economics of water transportation are coming out," James Hartung, the port authority's president, told the seaport committee last week before it voted to recommend board approval for the deal. "Essentially, it's a new terminal on the Maumee, and that hasn't happened in a while. It's exciting," Mr. Hartung said. "It's a company investing in their local facility, with a new bagging plant and new trucking operations," agreed Warren McCrimmon, the port authority's seaport director.

Ms. Pernu declined to divulge how much the project might cost to build or to forecast any employment boost it might bring to the mill. "We are in very preliminary stages of this project and it is too soon to say whether there will be incremental hiring at the mill because of it," she said. Mr. McCrimmon said he had been told up to 1 million tons of Canadian wheat could arrive by ship annually at the mill, potentially including during the winter months when most ship activity in Toledo ceases.

Once milled and bagged, the flour would be trucked to Kraft bakeries throughout the lower Great Lakes region, he said.

Flour milling on the Front Street site dates to 1892, and National Biscuit Co. bought the operation in 1926, Ms. Pernu said. A Nabisco company magazine from 1948 shows a ship unloading grain there, but after that Kraft does not know when the last ship delivery to the old mill occurred. The current facility was built in 1976.

From the Toledo Blade


Port Report - January 26

Milwaukee - John N. Vogel
The barge St. Mary's Conquest and tug Susan W. Hannah were at the St. Mary's Cement Kinnickinnic River Terminal early Friday afternoon. The pair are in port for the winter.


Coast Guard channel closure

1/26 - Sault Ste. Marie, MI - The captain of the Port of Sault Ste. Marie will close the waters between St. Ignace and Mackinac Island, effective 9 a.m. on January 28. The Coast Guard would like to remind all recreational ice users to plan their activities carefully, use caution on the ice, and stay away from shipping channels.

USCG News Release


Updates - January 26

News Photo Gallery updated

Lay Up List updated


Today in Great Lakes History - January 26

The keel for the CLIFFS VICTORY, a). NOTRE DAME VICTORY (Hull#1229) was laid on January 26, 1945, at Portland, Oregon by Oregon Shipbuilding Corp.

THOMAS F COLE (Hull #27) was launched January 26, 1907, by the Great Lakes Engineering Works, Ecorse, Michigan for the Pittsburgh Steamship Co..

J F SCHOELLKOPF JR was launched January 26, 1907, as a.) HUGH KENNEDY (Hull#349) at Lorain, Ohio by the American Ship Building Co.

The THALASSA DESGAGNES entered service for Le Groupe Desgagnes on January 26, 1994.

ST LAWRENCE NAVIGATOR was launched in 1967, as a.) DEMETERTON (Hull#619) at South Shields, United Kingdom by John Readhead & Sons, Ltd.

On 26 January 1898, the CITY OF DULUTH (wooden passenger/package freight vessel, 202 foot, 1,310 gross tons, built in 1874, at Marine City, Michigan as a passenger vessel) was carrying passengers, corn, flour and general merchandise from Chicago to St. Joseph, Michigan during a late season run when she struck an uncharted bar in a storm inbound to St. Joseph. She was heavily damaged and driven ashore 350 feet west of the north pier where she broke up. The Lifesaving Service rescued all 24 passengers and 17 crew members using breeches' buoy.

26 January 1994 - The THALASSA DESGAGNES (steel propeller tanker, 131.43 m, 5746 gt, built in 1976 in Norway, formerly RIO ORINOCO) entered service for Le Groupe Desgagnes.

Data from: Steve Haverty, Joe Barr, Dave Swayze, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series.


Port Reports - January 25

Goderich - Dale Baechler
On Thursday morning the Canadian Coast Guard Ship Samuel Risley and the MacDonald Marine tugs assisted Algomarine to the Sifto Salt dock. She backed in the channel in moderate ice conditions and was on the dock at 11 a.m.

Grand Haven - Dick Fox
The Grand Haven season closed on Sunday when the last boat left our port. The Lake Michigan port had 81 cargos received, 14 shipped out on 17 different boats for the 2007/2008 season.


Updates - January 25

News Photo Gallery updated

Lay Up List updated


Today in Great Lakes History - January 25

On January 25, 1988, the tanker LÕORME NO 1 was involved in an accident at Ultramar Refinery near Quebec City when attempting to tie up during foggy weather. She struck the dock and the impact started a fire that extensively damaged the wharf and the forward section of the ship.

Scrapping on the E J BLOCK began at Port Colborne, Ontario on January 25, 1988.

The JOSHUA A HATFIELD (Hull#782) was launched January 25, 1923, at Lorain, Ohio by the American Ship Building Co.

25 January 2003 - The LE GRANDE HERMINE. a replica of a historic sailing ship, was destroyed by fire in Jordan Harbor just west of St. Catharines, Ontario. The vessel had become a southern Ontario landmark and was well known to boat watchers heading to the Welland Canal. Police say it was almost certainly the work of an arsonist.

The W C RICHARDSON was launched January 25, 1908, as the a.) WAINWRIGHT (Hull#175) at Wyandotte, Michigan by the Detroit Ship Building Co.

On 25 January 1890, ALEX NIMICK (wooden propeller, 298 foot, 1,968 gross tons) was launched at W. Bay City, Michigan. She was built by J. Davidson (Hull # 30).

Data from: Joe Barr, Dave Swayze, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series.


St. Ignace Council accepts gift steam engine

1/24 - St. Ignace - The City Council in St. Ignace, Michigan formally accepted the gift of a triple-expansion marine steam engine and gave consensus approval to repairs on its Fort du Buade property Monday night.

The Council voted to formally accept the gift of one of three steam engines removed from the hull of the carferry Chief Wawatam after her retirement and eventual sale in the late 1980s. The impressive 1912-vintage steam engine, standing 16 feet tall and weighing 60 tons when fully assembled was donated to the St. Ignace Downtown Development Authority (DDA) by Jack Purvis of Purvis Marine Ltd. of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.

Purvis purchased the old carferry from the State of Michigan and has since converted the rugged carferry's hull into a barge that retains the “Chief” name. Over the years, the Purvis company has donated artifacts removed from the “Chief” to a variety of civic projects, including innovative wind chimes in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. and the Wisconsin Maritime Museum in Manitowoc, Wisc.

City Manager Eric Dodson told the Council that one of the three steam engines that once powered the Chief Wawatam has been re-assembled for display and demonstration inside the Wisconsin museum. The museum uses the engine to demonstrate operation of piston-powered steam engines, using an electric motoraqsz in place of the original steam.

Dodson, DDA President Gene Elmer and Public Works Director Les Therrian took turns describing the engine and its planned move to St. Ignace. Dodson said very preliminary plans for a state-funded transportation museum at St. Ignace could incorporate the old steam engine into its displays. He noted that a 100-foot scale model of the Mackinac Bridge is another large display that could be placed into the museum.

Dodson asked the Council to formally accept the gift steam engine, currently stored in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. The Council readily agreed, though a number of questions arose about moving the massive machine, border arrangements and storage in St. Ignace. Elmer said the engine is currently disassembled in component parts, the largest of which is its massive engine bed, itself weighing 35 tons.

Elmer said the preliminary plan for moving the engine calls for trucking the smaller components south to St. Ignace, leaving the very-heavy crankshaft and engine bed for special handling. He said logistics of the move have yet to be determined but noted that Purvis is anxious to have the engine moved. Elmer reported that Purvis will handle border arrangements for moving the engine. He added that a volunteer with expert knowledge of the “Chief” engines is available to supervise the engine's re-assembly.

He said he is not sure if Purvis will hold onto the heavier components until spring, when barge transportation may be available to move the largest components. “The base is the big piece to worry about,” he said.

Therrian said outdoor storage space is available at the City Garage for temporary storage of the steam engine. Elmer said Purvis had the engine coated with a preservative to keep the huge iron engine from deteriorating in outdoor storage.

By Jack Storey for the Soo Evening News


Job Opportunity: Great Lakes Pilotage Authority

1/24 - Hamilton - The Great Lakes Pilotage Authority Administration de pilotage des Grands lacs is accepting applications for positions as Ships' Pilot (anticipated staffing) for the following District: - Lake Ontario District.

Qualifications include: (a) be a Canadian citizen or landed immigrant; (b) be a holder of (i) a certificate of competency not lower than Master local voyage, (ii) a valid Restricted Radiotelephone Operator's Certificate, (iii) a certificate indicating that, within two years immediately preceding the date of the application, the applicant has successfully completed a course in simulated electronic navigation (SEN)level II that included training in the use of an automatic radar plotting aid (ARPA).

Applicants shall have served as a master for at least 12 months; or as a deck watch officer for at least 24 months and have, during the last three (3) years, completed a minimum of fifteen (15) trips in the district for which application is made; d) pass a medical examination in accordance with the General Pilotage Regulations; and e) pass an examination conducted by a Board of Examiners.

Copies of supporting documents relating to (a) - (c) above must accompany each application. Applications should be submitted no later than February 15, 2008 to: Great Lakes Pilotage Authority, P. O. Box 95, Cornwall, Ontario K6H 5R9. The Great Lakes Pilotage Authority endorses the principle of employment equity.

The fee for the examination listed in the above-mentioned paragraph (e) is $500.00.

From The Hamilton Spectator


Updates - January 24

News Photo Gallery updated

Lay Up List updated


Today in Great Lakes History - January 24

The JOHNSTOWN (Hull#4504) was launched January 24, 1952, at Sparrows Point, Maryland by Bethlehem Sparrows Point Shipyard.

SPRUCEGLEN was launched January 24, 1924, as a.) WILLIAM K FIELD (Hull#176) at Toledo, Ohio by the Toledo Ship Building Co.

The steel barge MADEIRA (Hull#38) was launched on January 24, 1900, at Chicago, Illinois by the Chicago Ship Building Co.

In 1988, while under tow of German tug EVEREST of 1960, the ENDERS M VOORHEES encountered force 9 winds, parted her towline and went aground and subsequently broke in two at Profitis Elais, Kythnos Island (Thermia) in the Cyclades between the Mirto and Aegean Seas. She was on her way to Turkey for scrapping at the time.

Data from: Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series.


Cold in Northland makes it hard to plug Walter J. McCarthy's hole

1/23 - Duluth - The recent cold weather has slowed repaired efforts on the Walter J. McCarthy Jr.

Workers had hoped to have the hole in the laker’s hull covered by a coffer dam by now, said U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Aaron Gross, chief of port operations for the Duluth Marine Safety Unit. “The weather has slowed them up,” Gross said this morning. “The divers need to get down there and look at the hull, but ice has built up on the exterior of the hull.”

Workers have finished pumping water from the ship’s ballast tanks, which as dropped the level of water in the McCarthy’s engine room from 20 to five feet. Once the coffer dam is in place, workers will “slip that down, seal up the damage and make repairs from the inside and finish pumping off the water.” The water in the engine room will be treated in case it has been contaminated with oil, fuel or grease.

Once the engine room is pumped dry, officials will be able to determine if the ship’s four engines can be repaired where the ship is or whether it will have to enter dry dock.

The 1,000-foot-long laker’s engine room flooded Jan. 14 after a submerged object punctured the McCarthy’s hull as the ship was backing into a slip at Superior’s Hallett No. 8 Dock about 11:30 a.m. The McCarthy’s crew closed the engine room’s watertight doors and evacuated the room as the ship’s stern settled to the bottom in 20 feet of water.

From the Duluth News Tribune


Port Reports - January 23

Port Huron - Frank Frisk
The tug John M. Selvick that brought the Algosteel from Chicago to Toledo for repairs, started her trip back to Chicago on Tuesday.

Cheboygan - Jon Paul Michaels
The tug Michigan and barge Great Lakes arrived Tuesday morning in Cheboygan to unload. They had loaded in Whiting, IN.
The USCGC Mackinaw arrived at her berth at 11 a.m. to take on supplies after their last tour of ice breaking duty.

Toronto - Jerry Oderkirk and Frank Hood
Algocape was unloading its storage cargo of raw sugar at Redpath on Monday. It was assisted into the slip by McKeil's Jarrett M and Wyatt M., which came over from Hamilton for the shift. The tugs are now stationed at Toronto for the winter to facilitate to movements of the other storage vessels.
Retaining wall reconstruction continues at the foot of Spadina Street. The Sonderholm tug Diver III and barges Y & F No. 1 and Y & F No. 2 have been joined in the project by Galcon's spud barge Pitts Carillon and Bermingham Construction Co.'s tug William.
The Island ferry Ongiara, and the airport ferry TCCA 1 are still running. There isn't much ice in the harbor, despite the cold snap.

Goderich - Dale Baechler
Canadian Olympic made her way into port Tuesday evening with moderate ice conditions from the breakwalls in to the inner harbour. She is still loading at the Sifto Salt dock on Wednesday morning.


Rudi Rabe passes

1/23 Detroit - Rudi Rabe, a regular Historical Perspective contributor to the BoatNerd News Photo Gallery, has died at age 52.

He was employed as a tugboat engineer on the tugs Kinsale, Kilkenny and Donegal for Gaelic Tugboat, working his way through college to become a Registered Nurse.

He worked as a nurse at the Veterans Hospital, and was employed at the time of his death at University of Michigan hospital.


Updates - January 23

News Photo Gallery updated

Lay Up List updated


Today in Great Lakes History - January 23

January 23 - The CELTIC (wooden schooner-barge, 190 foot, 716 gross tons, built 1890, at W. Bay City, Michigan) broke away from the steamer H E RUNNELS during a fierce gale on Lake Huron on 29 November 1902, and was lost with all hands. No wreckage was found until 23 January 1903, when a yawl and the captain's desk with the ship's papers was found on Boom Point, southeast of Cockburn Island.

The GEORGE A STINSON struck a wall of the Poe Lock at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan on January 23, 1979. The damage was estimated at $200,000.

The rail car ferry GRAND HAVEN sailed on her first trip as a roll on/roll off carrier from Port Burwell on January 23, 1965, loaded with 125 tons of coiled steel bound for Cleveland and Walton Hills, Ohio.

January 23, 1980 - Protesting the Russian invasion of Afghanistan, workers refused to unload the Russian freighter docked at Dow Chemical in Ludington.

Data from: Max Hanley, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series. This is a small sample, the books includes many other vessels with a much more detailed history.


Algosteel Arrives

1/22 - The Algosteel tow continued downbound on Monday passing the Detroit River Light about 11:40 a.m. When the tow reached Lake Erie they were reported to have been working in ice that slowed the tow. The Manitou was towing with the Selvick running ahead to cut a track in the new ice. The tow reached Toledo around 5:30 p.m.

Reported by: Joe Provost and D. Cozens


Port Reports - January 22

Grand Haven - Dick Fox
After waiting improvement in the weather since Thursday, the tug Susan W. Hannah and barge St. Mary's Conquest departed about 9 p.m. Sunday night. The pair backed out the channel maneuvering back and forth, using the bow thruster as well, to get through the ice that had formed in the river and the channel.

Escanaba - Lee Rowe
Although the Soo Locks are closed, Escanaba is having a busy time. A balky reclaimer kept the barge Great Lakes Trader and tug Joyce L. VanEnkevort at the dock waiting to finish her load while the Burns Harbor arrived and anchored in the harbor. Later in the afternoon the Erika Kobasic led the Joseph L Block into the harbor. The Block proceeded to the dock and tied up behind the Joseph Thompson which is laid up on the south side of the dock. The Wilfred Sykes was expected to arrive later in the evening.

Twin Ports - Al Miller
As expected, the Mesabi Miner returned to Superior over the weekend and laid up at Midwest Energy Terminal.


Updates - January 22

News Photo Gallery updated

Lay Up List updated


Today in Great Lakes History - January 22

The c.) WOODLAND, a.) FRENCH RIVER) was sold to International Capital Equipment of Canada and cleared off the Lakes from Montreal January 22, 1991, under the Bahamian flag with the modified name to d.) WOODLANDS.

The GOLDEN HIND was sold on January 22, 1973, to Trico Enterprises Ltd., Hamilton, Bermuda (Quebec & Ontario Transportation Co. Ltd., Thorold, Ontario, mgr.)

January 22, 1913 - The SAINTE MARIE (Hull#127) was launched at Toledo, Ohio by Craig Shipbuilding Co.

Data from: Max Hanley, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series.


Algosteel downbound

1/21 - The Algosteel was downbound above Port Huron Sunday morning after a long tow from Chicago. The vessel was reported to have damaged the rudder in Chicago last week and is being towed to Toledo for repairs and winter lay-up. Sunday at noon the tow was off Port Sanilac moving at reduced speed. Pulling the tow was the 1898-built John M. Selvick from Calumet River Fleeting. Malcolm Marine's tug Manitou was preparing to meet the tow in the Huron Cut to accompany the Algosteel and Selvick through the St. Clair and Detroit Rivers.

At 4 p.m. the tow was continuing downbound with the John M. Selvick taking up position as the trailing tug about 30 minutes above Lights 11 and 12 in the Huron Cut.  The tow passed under the Blue Water Bridges at 5:15 p.m. and was docked at Imperial Oil in Sarnia by 6 p.m.

The tow was once again downbound in the St. Clair River after spending about three hours at Imperial Oil. The tug Manitou continued to lead with the John M. Selvick trailing.  The transit continued downbound overnight making a brief stop in the Belle Isle Anchorage off Detroit Monday morning. The tow was underway at 7:45 a.m. Monday.

Pictures of the tow in the News Photo Gallery


Updates - January 21

News Photo Gallery updated

Lay Up List updated


Today in Great Lakes History - January 21

On this day on 1959, gale force winds and ice at Buffalo, New York caused the steamer MAC GILVRAY SHIRAS to break lose from its moorings and on the way down the Buffalo River collided with the MICHAEL K TEWKSBURY and severed her moorings. Both vessels crashed into the Michigan Avenue Bridge causing millions of dollars in damage.

On 21 January 1895, CHICORA (wooden propeller passenger/package freight vessel, 199 foot, 1,123 gross tons, built in 1892, at Detroit, Michigan) was bound from Milwaukee for St. Joseph on a mid-winter run when he foundered with little trace. All 25 on board were lost. The ship's dog was found wandering on the beach by St. Joseph, Michigan a few days later. A well organized search for the wreck continued until mid-June. Many small pieces of wreckage were washed ashore in the Spring.

On January 21, 1978, the Multifood Elevator #4 at Duluth, Minnesota caught fire and collapsed onto the deck of the steamer HARRY L ALLEN which was laid up beneath the elevator. Her pilothouse was destroyed by fire. Severe warping and cracking of her plating occurred when cold water was poured onto her red-hot deck. Declared a constructive total loss, she was scrapped at Duluth in 1978.

Data from: Brian Wroblewski, Joe Barr, Dave Swayze, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series. This is a small sample, the books includes many other vessels with a much more detailed history.


Port Reports - January 20

Marquette - Lee Rowe
The Mesabi Miner was the last boat of the season in Marquette on a very frosty Saturday. She brought a load of coal to the WE Power Plant in the upper harbor. Mesabi Miner also opened the Upper Harbor back on March 17, 2007.

Goderich - Dale Baechler
Algomarine was a Saturday afternoon visitor, entering the harbour with stiff breezes blowing. She was on the Sifto Salt dock at 2:15 p.m.


The sheriff is auctioning off the little rusty boat that doesn't measure up in a post-9/11 world

1/20 - Hamilton, Ont. -Every now and then the sheriff has a garage sale.

Maybe you saw the notices in the classifieds last weekend. There's a property the sheriff seized on Amherst Circle, near Upper Sherman and Stone Church. Somebody owes the TD Bank and unless they make good, the place will be auctioned off. That's common enough. But the notice beside it says the sheriff has also seized a tugboat. It's called the Batchawana, built in 1912, and he will "offer it for sale by public auction at the John Sopinka Court House 45 Main Street East, Suite 126, Hamilton on Jan. 23, 2008 at 11 a.m."

The tug is owned by one Arthur Gray. He is a legend in diving circles. He is 84 and has been in the business since 1952. We reach him and he talks about this matter reluctantly. "I don't need any bad publicity for the few years I've got left." The Batchawana, named for a settlement at the eastern tip of Lake Superior, was built at the Polson Iron Works in Toronto for the government. It later became the property of McNamara Marine. Gray bought her from that outfit. He's not sure when.

He lives near the lake in Grimsby and we find him in ill health. He was a diesel engineer and diver with the navy in the Second World War and says the heavy lifting he did then and ever since has caught up with him. His back's acting up. For now, he can't drive and has to use a cane or wheelchair.

Many years ago, Gray arrived with a boat and scow at the foot of Strathearne, east end of Hamilton Harbour. It was just marsh there, and Gray built a temporary dock to get out past the weeds. In more recent times, that area got cleaned up and rebuilt and Gray had to move on.

He approached Blair McKeil, president of McKeil Marine, which has a fleet of barges, tugs and larger ships that work all over the Great Lakes, the eastern seaboard, the Arctic. The company was founded in Hamilton 52 years ago by Blair's father Evans, a friend of Gray's. Gray asked Blair McKeil for a temporary home for the Batchawana. McKeil said he could pull the tug in with some company vessels and it went on that way for years.

Right now, the Batchawana is tucked in between a couple of larger McKeil tugs alongside Pier 10, in what's called the Navy Basin. That's home to the HMCS Star base and the old battleship Haida. The 50-foot Batchawana, top speed 10 knots, is a battered vessel these days. Its faded letters are barely legible on the rust-coloured hull.

Brent Kinnaird is manager of communications for the Hamilton Port Authority. He says that two years ago they stopped taking dockage fees from Gray and asked him to leave. Kinnaird says "the reality of post 9/11 is security enhancements." The port is spending millions on this, following the dictates of Transport Canada -- new fences, new locks, more surveillance cameras. Under the new rules, Gray would have to obtain something called "a declaration of security." That never happened.

Kinnaird says the port is also concerned with "potential safety hazards with that vessel." They point out there's history there -- some years ago, a scow of Gray's did sink in the harbour.

Blair McKeil says Gray "seems like a rough guy, but he's a sweetheart." He will not be going after Gray's tug. McKeil has bids in other sheriff's sales, including one on the courthouse steps in Orlando, Fla. But he just doesn't need the Batchawana. If he did, he'd be prepared to pay $10,000. "It's got character, kind of a little toot. It would be a nice little pleasure boat for somebody."

Arthur Gray says there was just no other good place to tie up his tug. He seems resigned to losing her. "I don't have the money to fight this. You're up against big people."

From the Hamilton Ontario Spectator


Updates - January 20

News Photo Gallery updated

Lay Up List updated


Today in Great Lakes History - January 20

NORDIC BLOSSOM was launched January 20, 1981 as the a.) NORDIC SUN.

On January 20, 1917, American Ship Building's Lorain yard launched the steel bulk freighter EUGENE W PARGNY for the Pittsburgh Steamship Co.

January 20, 1911 - The ANN ARBOR NO 5 made her first trip into Kewaunee.

On 20 January 1923, CHOCTAW (steel propeller packet, 75 foot, 53 gross tons, built in 1911, at Collingwood) burned at her dock at Port Stanley, Ontario.

20 January 1980 – The E. M. FORD (steel propeller self-unloader cement carrier, 406’, 4498 gt, built in 1898 at Lorain, OH as a bulk freighter, Converted to self-unloading bulk cement carrier in 1956 at Sturgeon Bay, WI) was raised at her dock in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She sank on Christmas Eve of 1979 when gale force winds forced her from her moorings and repeatedly slammed her bow into the dock facing. Crews had to remove a solid 3 feet of hardened cement and patch her holed bow before she could be re-floated.

On 20 January 1978, HARRY L ALLEN (formerly JOHN B COWLE, built in 1910) burned at her winter lay-up berth at Capital 4 grain elevator dock in Duluth. She was declared a total loss.

Data from: Joe Barr, Dave Swayze, Max Hanley, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series.

This is a small sample, the books includes many other vessels with a much more detailed history. Please e-mail if you would like to contribute a significant event in Great Lakes history.


Port Reports - January 19

Toledo - Bob Vincent
The American Century came in around 5:30 p.m. Thursday, and laid up along # 2 wall at the CSX Coal Dock, in front of the Buffalo.

Twin Ports - Al Miller
Mesabi Miner departed Midwest Energy Terminal in Superior about 7 a.m. Friday, proceeding slowly through the ice that covered the channel overnight. The vessel will unload about 58,000 tons of coal at the Presque Isle power plant near Marquette. This may be one of the harshest trips of the season because temperatures in the region are expected to remain near zero or below zero throughout the weekend. The Miner is expected to return to Superior on Sunday, when it will lay up for the remainder of the winter at Midwest Energy Terminal. That means chances are good it will be the first vessel to start moving in March. USCG Cutter Alder will be breaking ice this weekend to enable the Miner to reach its layup berth. The Miner will use Superior Entry because the Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge will be in the down position undergoing maintenance.


Milwaukee's port to clean ballast
State funds experiment in effort to ward off invasive species

1/19 - Milwaukee - Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle announced Thursday that Wisconsin will spend $6 million to invest in experimental ballast water treatment systems for the state's Great Lakes ports, including Milwaukee.

Contaminated ballast discharges from oceangoing vessels have been blamed for a host of environmental problems in the Great Lakes, including a decline in native fish, a rise in noxious algae and, more recently, widespread bird die-offs on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan.

Congress has been mulling legislation for years that would require ocean-going vessels to treat their ballast water to kill any unwanted hitchhikers, but it has gotten nowhere. A big problem is shipping companies have maintained that there are a host of technical problems in designing onboard treatment systems that effectively kill unwanted organisms in ballast tanks. Ballast water is used to steady a less-than-full ship on open seas and is discharged in exchange for cargo when a ship arrives at port.

Now Wisconsin is going to take a different tack in its fight against this "biological pollution." The $6 million in grants will go toward building a system in Milwaukee that would involve discharging ballast to a facility onshore, treating it and returning it to the lake. Preliminary estimates peg the cost for such a system at $1 million to $2 million.

The ports of Green Bay and Superior also are eligible to tap into the funds for similar purposes, according to Doyle spokesman Lee Sensenbrenner.

The Great Lakes are home to dozens of ports, so treating water at one or even three sites won't do much to protect the region from the next zebra mussel. The hope is the Milwaukee project could pave the way for similar facilities across the Great Lakes.

"We're looking at a demonstration program," said Roger Larson, deputy director of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources' bureau of watershed management. The goal, according to Doyle, is to keep commerce moving and to protect the deteriorating lakes.

"We have an opportunity to strengthen our shipping industry and protect our lakes from invasive species," Doyle said. "The federal government is failing to take serious action, and it's our time to be leaders in treating ballast water here on Lake Michigan."

Conservationists have lobbied hard for onboard treatment systems, and many have argued that oceangoing vessels should be blocked from even entering the Great Lakes until Congress passes a law requiring such systems.

Great Lakes United's Jennifer Nalbone said Thursday that she hadn't heard of Wisconsin's plan. But she said the logical place to put such an onshore facility would be at a port outside the Great Lakes, so all ships would arrive in the Great Lakes with clean water. "That would be ideal," she said. "But we encourage the states to take their own actions."

Absent overarching federal legislation, that is exactly what Great Lakes states have started to do. Michigan recently passed a law requiring ships to clean their ballast before discharging in state waters, and the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board is considering adopting a similar rule.

From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel


Mariner Service planned in Owen Sound

1/19 - Owen Sound - The 15th Owen Sound Mariner's Service and Blessing of the Great Lakes Fleet will be held at St. George's Anglican Church in Owen Sound on Sunday February 3rd, 2008, at 10 am.

All Mariners are invited including Merchant Navy/Marine, Georgian College Marine Students, Royal Canadian Sea Cadets, Royal Canadian Navy, Canadian Power & Sail Squadron, Canadian Coast Guard, CG Auxiliary, OPP & Police & Fire Marine Units, Great Lakes Cruising Club, Commercial & Charter fishermen, Sea Cadets, Sea Scouts, Georgian Bay & Lake Huron Yacht Clubs, and Great Lakes & Seaway Shipping members.

This service is open to all Mariners, their families and friends. It is sponsored by the Ship Masters’ Association, Georgian Bay-Huronia Lodge. A light lunch of sandwiches, sweets, coffee , and tea, will be served in the Parish Hall to all friends and guests following the service. Uniforms are encouraged, though not required.

All Mariners are asked to assemble in the church basement gathering room at 10:00 am, prior to the service. Mariners will then be led into the church by a Sea and Navy League Cadet Honour Guard and Flag Colour party.


Updates - January 19

News Photo Gallery updated

Lay Up List updated


Today in Great Lakes History - January 19

On 19 January 1824, the Welland Canal Company was incorporated to build the first Welland Canal.

The DAVID M WHITNEY (steel propeller freighter, 412 foot, 4,626 gross tons) was launched on 19 January 1901, by the Detroit Ship Building Company (Hull #138) in Wyandotte, Michigan for the Gilchrist Transportation Company of Cleveland, Ohio. Renamed b.) EDWIN L BOOTH in 1914, c.) G N WILSON in 1921, d.) THOMAS BRITT in 1928, and e.) BUCKEYE in 1943. She lasted until 1969, when she was scrapped in Spain.

January 19, 1927 - The Grand Trunk carferry MADISON was christened with a bottle of Wisconsin milk. She entered service in March of 1927.

The CLARENCE B RANDALL, the a.) J J SULLIVAN of 1907, was towed to Windsor, Ontario on January 19, 1987, for scrapping.

Data from: Joe Barr, Father Dowling Collection, Historical Collections of the Great Lakes, Max Hanley, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series. This is a small sample, the books includes many other vessels with a much more detailed history.


Crews continue to work on Walter J. McCarthy

1/18 - Duluth, Minn. — Crews are pumping water out of the ship that sprung a leak Monday in the Duluth-Superior harbor. The Walter J. McCarthy's engine room flooded after the ship struck an unidentified object under water while docking in Superior. The ship's stern sank to the bottom next to the dock.

The McCarthy is one of the big ships - the 1,000-ft. carriers that haul coal and taconite across the Great Lakes. The McCarthy's stern has been sitting on the bottom in about 20 feet of water since Monday. It struck something while docking for the winter in Superior.

Jim Sharrow of the Duluth Seaway Port Authority, says the McCarthy isn't really sunk. One end of it, the stern, is what Sharrow calls down-flooded. The heavy engines are in the back, and with the engine room flooded, the stern has settled to the bottom. But the front still floats.

The McCarthy isn't entirely empty. It carries thousands of gallons of water ballast, and that ballast may be the key to refloating the stern. Sharrow says you can get the ship off the bottom by emptying the water out of its ballast tanks, which would then fill with air.

"I don't know exactly how much ballast might be aboard but it's probably about 30,000 tons of water ballast," says Sharrow. "When you create a hole that down-floods the engine room, then as you raise the ship just by pumping the ballast out, the water that's in the engine room would just seek its own level as the ship comes up." That also releases water from the flooded engine room, which will flow back through the breach and into the harbor.

The most important thing, Sharrow says, is to get the water out of those ballast tanks before it freezes. The ship has no heat or power, and very cold weather is moving in. "There is a real severe question about that. The big problem would be freezing up of the ballast tanks, and the piping systems to and from those tanks. That could create lots of damage," says Sharrow.

The ship is owned by the American Steamship Co., a division of GATX Corp. in Chicago. Corporate spokeswoman Rhonda Johnson says the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources signed off on a permit late Tuesday that lets the company begin pumping water out of those ballast tanks.

"So we did begin doing that. That's a process that should probably take about a day or two to fully complete," explains Johnson. "They did do all kinds of testing on the water and determined that it was clean and not contaminated. So once the water's emptied from the tanks, we'll have a diver going down to inspect the damage and to begin repairs to close up the hole."

Depending on the extent of damage, divers could weld a patch over the tear with the ship in place. But there's lots more to be done. Johnson says the ship's four 3,500-horsepower diesel engines are going to need a thorough going over. "We're going to have to take the engines apart and basically rebuild the engines. You've got to see what kind of damage has been done, if there's any rust, if there's any issues at all with the engines. And that's going to take some time to figure out," says Johnson.

It's going to an expensive repair for the Walter J. McCarthy, and the work could keep the ship off the lakes for months, well past the resumption of lake shipping in March. There's no doubt the owners will try to quickly return the McCarthy to service, since there's a limited number of the 1,000 foot ships on the Great Lakes and plenty of coal and taconite to keep the fleet busy.

From Minnesota Public Radio


Port Reports - January 18

Twin Ports - Al Miller
Great Lakes Fleet’s Edwin H. Gott and John G. Munson arrived in Duluth overnight Wednesday-Thursday and laid up at the Duluth port terminal.
The Mesabi Miner was loading coal at Midwest Energy Terminal late Thursday afternoon. This is expected to be the last load of the season before the Miner lays up at the terminal dock on Sunday.

Goderich - Dale Baechler
Canadian Olympic arrived early Thursday morning, went to the inner harbour to turn, then went to the Sifto Salt dock to load.


Coal, ore fuel Toledo port's cargo gains
Greater tonnage offsets drop in grain shipments

1/18 - Toledo - Rebounding coal and iron ore business more than offset a grain decline at Toledo's port last year, leading to an overall 7.7 percent increase in cargo tonnage during 2007, year-end Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority statistics show.

For the fourth straight year, iron ore was the port's top cargo, its 5,053,615 tons representing a 32.6 percent jump over 2006 and exceeding coal, historically Toledo's primary marine commodity, by 1.8 million tons. Port officials attributed much of the ore growth to a ship-transfer operation that Midwest Terminals of Toledo International developed at the International Cargo Dock that is a revenue generator for the port authority.

In fact, 585,803 tons of the iron ore that 1,000-foot, U.S.-flagged lake vessels delivered to the Midwest-managed dock were counted twice in the port's statistics: once upon arrival, then again after reloading onto smaller Canadian ships that carried it through the Welland Canal and St. Lawrence Seaway to St. Lawrence River ports for transfer to ocean-going ships.

"But it's [port] revenue on both legs too," William Carroll, a port authority director, observed during a seaport committee meeting Tuesday. Overall, "It was a good year for us, but we can always do better - hopefully in 2008," said Joe Cappel, the port authority's seaport marketing representative.

The cargo increase last year was the port's third straight after several years of steady declines, attributable mainly to long-term declining consumption of Appalachian coal by Great Lakes electricity generators. But since 2004, coal business has been relatively stable, and it was up by 12.5 percent in 2007 compared with 2006, to 3.24 million tons. At least some of the coal increase in 2007 was destined for Toledo Edison's Bay Shore power plant in Oregon, which historically has received all of its coal by train.

Grain volume, which is always volatile because of uncertain harvests and world markets, fell to 1.62 million tons during 2007, a 24.3 percent year-to-year decline but higher than 2004 or 2005. Seaport Director Warren McCrimmon blamed much of that drop on increased ethanol production, which consumed corn that otherwise might have been exported, along with reduced U.S. steel imports that meant fewer overseas ships came into the Great Lakes last year.

Fewer foreign ships coming in means fewer vessels to carry grain out. During 2007, only 35 "salties" visited Toledo, less than half the 81 that called on the port during 2006. Overseas cargoes to or from Toledo increased nonetheless because of the iron-ore transshipment business.

Toledo's most celebrated cargo of the year was two heavy transformers shipped in from South Korea and transferred to railcars for delivery to Detroit Edison's Fermi 2 nuclear plant north of Monroe. They were among several "project cargoes" that included season-long shipments of German pipe for a Colorado-Ohio natural gas pipeline project and, late in the year, towers for wind turbines to be built in Michigan.

While relatively small contributors to the Toledo port's cargo tonnage, such high-value shipments are big money-makers for Midwest Terminals, the port authority, and dock workers - the latter because of the labor involved in handling them. They also helped keep "general and miscellaneous cargo" traffic close to even with 2006 - down by just 1.3 percent, to 154,085 tons - even though imported lumber traffic disappeared because of a weak construction market and aluminum business shifted elsewhere during the season.

From the Toledo Blade


Updates - January 18

News Photo Gallery updated

and more News Photo Gallery updated

Lay Up List updated


Today in Great Lakes History - January 18

On 18 January 2004, the Great Lakes Fleet's 1000-footer EDGAR B SPEER became stuck in the ice in the Rock Cut in the St. Marys River. Over the next two days, the U.S.C.G.C. MACKINAW tried to free her, but unsuccessfully. On 21 January, the tugs RELIANCE, MISSOURI, JOSEPH H THOMPSON JR and JOYCE L VAN ENKEVORT all coordinated their efforts under the direction of Wellington Maritime's Captain John Wellington and got the SPEER free.

The CABOT was refloated on January 18, 1967. On December 16, 1966, while loading at Montreal, the CABOT rolled over on her side and sank. The CABOT's stern section, used in the interim as the stern section of the b.) CANADIAN EXPLORER, now sails as the stern section of c.) CANADIAN TRANSFER.

The MONDOC had her Canadian registry closed on January 18, 1979. The vessel had been renamed b) CORAH ANN and sold to Jamaican company. CORAH ANN was scrapped in 2003.

The National Steamship Co. was incorporated January 18, 1906.

L. P. Mason and Company of E. Saginaw, Michigan sold the steam barge PORTER CHAMBERLAIN (wooden steam barge, 134 foot, 257 gross tons, built in 1874, at Marine City, Michigan) on 18 January 1888, to Comstock Brothers and L. & H. D. Churchill of Alpena, Michigan.

Data from: Joe Barr, Father Dowling Collection, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series

This is a small sample, the books includes many other vessels with a much more detailed history.


Salvagers pumping water from ballast tank to refloat McCarthy

1/17 - Duluth - Work was under way Wednesday to refloat the Walter J. McCarthy Jr. by pumping water out of the laker’s ballast tanks.

The 1,000-foot-long laker’s engine room flooded Monday after a submerged object punctured the McCarthy’s hull as the ship was backing into a slip at Superior’s Hallett No. 8 Dock about 11:30 a.m. The McCarthy’s crew closed the engine room’s watertight doors and evacuated the room as the ship’s stern settled to the bottom in 20 feet of water.

“Calculations support that the vessel will float regardless of the flooded engine room if de-ballasting occurs,” the U.S. Coast Guard said in a news release. “To do so, the vessel will utilize shore power to operate internal and external pumps. Engineers involved in the salvage believe it will take two to three days to complete the de-ballasting.”

Work to empty the ship’s ballast tanks began Tuesday evening. The tanks hold lake water to help stabilize the ship when it is empty or lightly loaded.

Once the ship is refloated, divers will be able to determine the extent of the damage to the McCarthy’s hall. After the ship’s hull is patched, the water in the engine room will be pumped to trucks for proper treatment and disposal.

The water fills the engine room to a depth of 20 feet, covering the ship’s four 3,500-horsepower General Motors Electro Motive Division diesel engines. Response personnel estimate that approximately 450 gallons of miscellaneous oils have been removed from the flooded engine room, the Coast Guard said. There are an additional 2,500 to 3,000 gallons of oil and fuel in adjacent tanks, engines and generators, but there is no threat of those liquids escaping, the Coast Guard said.

Once the engine room is pumped dry, officials will be able to determine if the ship can be repaired where it is or whether it will have to enter dry dock.

Workers may rebuild the ship’s engines where it sits now, said Rhonda S. Johnson, spokeswoman for GATX, the parent company of the McCarthy’s owner, the American Steamship Co.

From the Duluth News Tribune


Port Report - January 17

Goderich - Dale Baechler
Halifax was making her approach to the piers at 9 a.m. on a calm, cool Wednesday morning. She turned in the outer harbour just inside the breakwall, then backed into the Sifto Salt dock. She was loading by 10:30 a.m.


Iron ore shipping season wraps up

1/17 - Marquette - The last iron ore freighter of the season shipped out from Marquette’s Upper Harbor ore dock Monday.

The Soo Locks closed Tuesday, ushering in the official winter break for the Lake Superior shipping season.
Now, workers at the Cleveland Cliffs Inc.-owned docks will begin the “off season” work of maintenance as they prepare for another busy season come spring.

“There is a lot of maintenance that takes place,” said Dale Hemmila, the district manager of public affairs for CCI. “There are a lot of things that will have to be done between the end of the shipping season and when shipping resumes.”

According the Hemmila, 2007 shipping tonnage showed a slight decline compared to the 2006 shipping season. About 6.4 million tons of ore was shipped in 2006 on more than 300 boats, while numbers were lower this year due to two scheduled blast furnace outages in steel plants in Sault Ste. Marie and Dearborn. “They took less ore because of those scheduled outages,” Hemmila said. Official tonnage for the 2007 season won’t be available until February.

While some ore is shipped via railroad lines, Hemmila said a majority of the ore processed during the usual January through April break would be stored here in the Upper Peninsula. “Production isn’t affected,” he said. “Shipping is because we can’t ship on Lake Superior in the winter time. With the locks closed, there’s not much we can do.”

From the Marquette Mining Journal


U.S.-Flag Cargo Movement on Lakes Down 5.2 Percent in 2007
Great Lakes Coal Trade Slips by 6.6 Percent in 2007
Fleet Can’t Overcome Effect of Light Loading

1/17 - Cleveland — With U.S.-Flag Great Lakes vessels light loading a thousand times or more in 2007, U.S.-Flag cargo movement fell to 104 million net tons, a decrease of 5.2 percent compared to 2006.

Iron ore cargos slipped 3.6 percent. Coal loadings were down by 160,000 tons. Limestone cargos plunged 12 percent.

Economic factors behind the decline include lower steel production and a slowdown in the construction industry that reduced demand for aggregate. Weather delays also affected shipments in the final two months of the year.

The effects of the dredging crisis and falling water levels became even more pronounced as the year ended. Vessels that have carried nearly 71,000 tons of coal in a single trip saw their payloads shrink to 60,000 tons. Even though the record iron ore cargo through the locks at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, tops 72,000 tons, December’s best ore load totaled only 62,260 tons.

Coal shipments on the Great Lakes fell below 39.3 million net tons in 2007, a decrease of 6.6 percent compared to 2006. Loadings were 4.9 percent off the trade’s 5-year average.

Light loading impacted the trade all year, and turned into a virtual stranglehold in December. By month’s end, the largest coal cargos barely topped 60,000 tons. When water levels were high in the late 1990s and offset the lack of adequate dredging, the same vessels were carrying nearly 71,000 tons each trip. A vessel that can carry 54,000 tons of limestone in a single trip had to settle for 49,000 tons on its best run in December.

Shipments of iron ore on the Great Lakes/Seaway system totaled 58.1 million net tons in 2007, a decrease of 3 percent compared to 2006. The trade was 1.5 percent behind its 5-year average.

While the decrease partially reflects lower demand from steelmakers, the shortfall in tonnage –1.8 million tons – could have easily been carried if U.S.-Flag Lakers had been able to load to full capacity. For those ships to leave port with only 60,000 tons in their holds meant more than 15 percent of the vessels’ optimum carrying capacity was unused.

More information is available at

Source: Lake Carriers’ Association


Seaway ballast water management standards enhanced again

1/17 - Cornwall, Ontario – The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SLSMC) announced Wednesday a further strengthening of ballast water management practices for the 2008 season. The initiative by its U.S. partner, the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation, to obtain regulatory authority to set ballast water management rules will result in all ocean vessels being subjected to a consistent and rigorous inspection process in Montreal, before they enter the Seaway/Great Lakes.

Since 2006, all ocean vessels bound for a Canadian port have been subjected to ballast water inspections, to ensure that water within the ballast tanks adheres to a minimum level of salinity of 30 parts per thousand. With the harmonization of U.S. and Canadian standards, all vessels entering the Seaway, irrespective of their destination, will be subjected to the same inspection process.

Beginning with the 2008 navigation season, all ocean vessels, including those with ‘no ballast on board’, will be subjected to an inspection, covering 100% of ballast water tanks. This inspection process will ensure that the vessel - while still a minimum of 200 km offshore - flushed all of its tanks with salt water. On subsequent transits during the year, the vessel will again be subjected to a series of inspections, with the objective of ensuring that the vessel’s crew is strictly adhering to the salt water flushing practice.

Salt water acts as a natural biocide against fresh water organisms found in ballast water. A recent study led by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the University of Michigan found this practice to be a highly effective means to eradicate organisms suspended in ballast water (including zebra mussels). The new harmonized regulations will ensure that all ocean vessels flush their ballast tanks with salt water, well before they enter U.S. or Canadian waters.

Richard Corfe, President and CEO of the SLSMC, stated that “this agreement demonstrates the resolve of the Seaway corporations, the Canadian and U.S. governments, and that of the marine industry to effectively manage ballast water, and apply industry leading best practices to each and every ocean vessel entering our system.

Source - Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway System


'Pigboats' once called on Grand Traverse Bay

1/17 - Leelanau - They were called "pigboats" or "whalebacks," and they sailed by Leelanau's shores and discharged cargoes here, too.

The Meteor, a "pigboat" that once called on Greilickville, is now a marine museum in Superior, Wis.

They were called pigboats not because they carried pigs, but because they had a distinctive pig-like bow. The unique form of Great Lakes vessel was invented by Captain Alexander McDougall. Altogether, 40-some were built on the lakes between the years 1888-98.

For a number of years, they were so closely identified with the Great Lakes that some people thought all the lakes ships were whalebacks, even though the “pigs” never constituted more than a small fraction of the large inland fleet.

McDougall’s idea was that a ship should offer as little resistance to the waves as possible, and his design featured sides that curved inward to the main deck and a rounded bow. It was the bow that inspired the derisive term “pigboat” and some observers likened one of the steamers with barges in tow as “a sow with her piglets.”

Actually, most of the whalebacks were built as barges and only 16 were built as steamers. The other most distinctive feature of the design was a turret, forward and aft, mounted on the main deck.

The first whaleback launched, a barge, was simply named No. 101. Legend has it that the number wasn’t an arbitrary one, however. The story goes that McDougall was given 10-to-1 odds by some skeptic that his craft would never complete its maiden voyage.

All but one of the steamers was constructed as a bulk carrier. The exception was a passenger-carrying whaleback – and what an exception it was. The day steamer, Christopher Columbus, built in 1892, could carry 5,600 passengers.

This ship was built for service at the World’s Fair at Chicago, where Michigan furnished a sleigh with a stupendous load of logs from the Upper Peninsula (the state was still famous for its lumbering industry at the time, having peaked out only a few years earlier).

During the course of its career, the Columbus is said to have carried more passengers (about two million during the World’s Fair alone) than any other ship ever to operate on the Great Lakes.

Only one serious accident marred an otherwise excellent safety record, and it was directly related to the ship’s unique design. On June 30, 1917, while being towed from her Milwaukee berth, the ship’s “snout” slipped over the dock facing and knocked the legs out from under a water tower. The tower crashed onto the bow of the ship, smashing the wheelhouse and killing 16 people.

The Columbus was repaired at Manitowoc, Wis., and returned to service. The steamer also inspired an unknown poet to write a verse about The Passenger Hog:

"The hogs that are loaded with iron or wheat
They seem to be handy fer use,
But the passenger hog is a mean one to meet,
An’ when you’re in dock she’s the deuce.
She’d ought to be given a port all her own,
Where no one would care how she’d jog,
Where she’d leave us poor freighters an’ others alone,
The ugly old passenger hog."

This was probably composed because the Columbus was noted for moving at a relatively fast clip, particularly under the command of her veteran master of 36 years, Capt. Charles Moody. He knew how the ship handled so well that he invariably took her wheel while in port.

Historian James Elliot writes “the wake of the fast-moving Columbus often raised havoc with ships that were moored at the various docks.” On the open lake, the ship’s 18 foot propeller easily pushed the ship forward at a steady 20 miles an hour. Idled by the Great Depression at Manitowoc for several seasons, the once proud ship was cut up for scrap, which went to Japan.

Whalebacks even served as automobile carriers. While in this service, the South Park, on Nov. 15, 1942, struck the breakwater at Manistique, Mich., where the Northport carferry once regularly called. At the time, carferries out of Frankfort still called there and rendered assistance. Although the South Park was badly damaged, it was rebuilt, but as an oil tanker for Cleveland Tankers.

The old whaleback (built in 1896) seems to have been well suited for this newest role, and remained in service for almost another 30 years. It survived all of the other steamers and barges. As a tanker, the vessel discharged petroleum products at Greilickville, and a crewman conceded the unusual ship drew a lot of attention.

In the larger ports, crowds would sometimes gather, and such was the case when the Meteor was once passing under a bridge. “What in the world kind of ship are you?” someone in the crowd shouted. “We’re a submarine and we’re about to submerge!” one of the crewmen shouted back. The crowd quickly scattered.

Other units of the Cleveland Tankers fleet that called at Greilickville – all named after celestial objects – include Gemini, Saturn, Jupiter, Pleiades, Blue Comet, Mercury and Polaris.

The last vessel, like the Meteor, was a conversion. The Polaris was originally an LST (Landing Ship Tank), built during World War II. The whaleback was originally named Frank Rockefeller and its first cargo was Mesabi iron ore.

Another whaleback, barge No. 102, carried the first cargo of Mesabi ore to Cleveland only a few years earlier. This great range proved to be the richest of all of those of the Great Lakes region.

Most of the high-grade ore from this range had already been mined when, after over 70 years of faithful service, the Meteor struck the rocks outside of Manitowoc harbor and sustained considerable damage. She was taken up the river there and tied up – just about where, decades earlier, the Christopher Columbus routinely spent the winters and was finally cut up.

If you wonder what a whaleback was really like, you can visit the Meteor. She’s now a marine museum at Superior, Wis.

From the Leelanau Enterprise


Updates - January 17

News Photo Gallery updated

Lay Up List updated


Today in Great Lakes History - January 17

NORTHERN VENTURE closed the Welland Canal for the season as she passed down bound for Hamilton with coal in 1975.

In 1978, the CLIFFS VICTORY, JOSEPH H FRANTZ, WILLIAM G MATHER, ROBERT C NORTON, CRISPIN OGLEBAY and J BURTON AYERS formed a convoy in the Detroit River bound for Cleveland.

The PHILIP D BLOCK (Hull#789) was launched at Lorain, Ohio, by the American Ship Building in 1925.

The tanker GREAT LAKES was launched in 1963, as the a.) SINCLAIR GREAT LAKES (Hull#1577) at Decatur, Alabama by Ingalls Iron Works Co.

JOHN E F MISENER was float launched in 1951, as a.) SCOTT MISENER (Hull#11) at St. Catharines, Ontario by Port Weller Drydocks, Ltd.

January 17, 1902 - The PERE MARQUETTE 2 ran aground at Ludington.

PERE MARQUETTE 19 grounded in limited visibility on January 17, 1916, two miles south of Big Point Sable, Michigan, 600 feet off shore. The captain made three unsuccessful attempts to find the Ludington Harbor entrance and on the turn around for the fourth attempt she grounded.

On 17 January 1899, the GERMANIA (wooden propeller freighter, 136 foot, 237 gross tons, built in 1875, at Marine City, Michigan) caught fire and burned to the water's edge at Ecorse, Michigan. The previous day, Norman Reno of Ecorse did some painting inside the cabin and it was presumed that the stove used to heat the cabin may have caused the blaze. The vessel was in winter lay-up at the rear of the home of Mr. W. G. Smith, her owner.

Data from: Max Hanley, Brian Bernard, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series. This is a small sample, the books includes many other vessels with a much more detailed history.


Michipicoten Closes the Soo Locks

1/16 - The Soo Locks closed at midnight Tuesday ending the 2007 shipping season.  The final down bound transit was the Michipicoten clearing the locks downbound at 11:10 p.m. Tuesday night. Closing the locks for upbound traffic was the Edwin H. Gott who locked through Tuesday night en route to winter lay-up in Duluth. The 2008 navigation season for the locks will begin with the opening of the Poe Lock on March 25.

Reported by Jerry Mason


Walter J. McCarthy Update

1/16 - Duluth - It’s not known yet whether the Walter J. McCarthy Jr. will be repaired in time for the start of the 2008 shipping season.

“It is really hard to know at this point,” Rhonda S. Johnson, spokeswoman for GATX, the parent company of the McCarthy’s owner, the American Steamship Company, said late this morning. “Having the water in the engine room is the biggest concern with how long it will take to make repairs just what kind of damage has been done to the engines by the water.”

The 1,000-foot-long laker’s engine room flooded Monday after the ship’s hull was holed by a submerged object as the ship was backing into a slip at Superior’s Hallett No. 8 Dock around 11:30 a.m. Johnson believes the ship was punctured on its bottom. The McCarthy’s crew closed the engine room’s watertight doors and evacuated the room as the ship’s stern settled to the bottom in 20 feet of water.

The water is covering the ship’s four 3,500-horsepower General Motors Electro Motive Division diesel engines.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, there were no reports of oil escaping from the ship into the harbor. However, because the water is covering the engines and may contain oil, grease and fuel, it can not simply be pumped out into the harbor.

Representatives from the American Steamship Company, Fraser Ship Yard, the Coast Guard, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and Minnesota Pollution Control Agency met Tuesday morning to review options to safely remove and dispose of the water and repair the vessel, Lt. Aaron Gross of the Coast Guard’s Duluth Marine Safety Unit said.

“We’re not executing any operations yet,” Gross said. “I believe they have done testing to see what contaminants, if any, are in water.” Officials may approve a repair plan as soon as Wednesday. The McCarthy’s owners hope to pump the water out before it freezes and causes more damage. “Once all parties are happy with a plan then we’ll be able to take the water out,” Johnson said. “Once that is done we’ll be able to start repairs.”

Authorities haven’t determined what the ship hit or how large a hole was punched through the hull. “That’s one of the problems with the engine room being under water,” Johnson said. “It’s difficult to know the extent of the hole, the extent of the damage to the engines from the water. Therefore it is hard to know how long it will take us to complete the repairs to the vessel.”

Officials will have a better idea of what may have holed the McCarthy once divers have examined the hole and the ship is refloated. “Your best bet is either ice or concrete pilings,” Gross said. Divers will examine the ship as soon as a salvage plan is agreed upon. It’s not known yet if the ship can be repaired where it is or if it will have to be moved to dry dock.

The ship primarily transports low-sulfur western coal from Superior to Detroit Edison’s St. Clair and Monroe, Mich., power plants. Built as the Belle River by the Bay Shipbuilding Corp at Sturgeon Bay, Wis., the ship entered service in 1977. It was renamed the McCarthy in 1990 to honor the former chairman of the Detroit Edison Company.

From the Duluth News tribune


Port Reports - January 16

Grand Haven - Dick Fox
The barge St. Mary's Conquest and tug Susan W. Hannah was due at the St. Mary's Terminal in Ferrysburg early on Wednesday.

Twin Ports - Al Miller
The St. Clair arrived in Duluth on Tuesday and proceeded to lay up in Fraser Shipyards.


Erie Shipbuilding close to $50 million deal

1/16 - Erie, PA - Erie Shipbuilding Co. is in the final stages of negotiating a $50 million shipbuilding contract — the largest by far since it took over the facility in late 2006.

Ned Smith, Erie Shipbuilding’s chief executive, said the contract is for construction of an 840-foot tug-barge. He is optimistic the contract will be reached. “I’m 90 percent confident it’s going to get done,” he said. The project would start in March and be completed by the end of the year.

Smith said employment could rise to 175 to 200. The shipyard currently has more than 140 employees. The tug-barge will service a major stone supplier on the Great Lakes, he said.

Smith outlined the potential tug-barge contract and the status of the shipyard’s operations Friday to the Erie-Western Pennsylvania Port Authority, which leases the facility to the company. “The outlook is bright for Erie Shipbuilding and the potential is great,” he told the authority.

This winter, he said, the shipyard will be busy with about $2 million to $2.5 million worth of maintenance work. By comparison, there was about $500,000 of maintenance work last winter.

Source : Erie Times-News


Maritime "Art Expo at Vantage Point"

1/16 - Port Huron - “Art Expo at Vantage Point” will be held on Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 19 and 20.

Maritime Art in various mediums will be on display from the Acheson Ventures collection. At 10 a.m. Saturday, there will be an unveiling of an Historic Rendering of Marysville, Michigan.

The art expo will be located within the Great Lakes Maritime Center, 51 Water Street, Port Huron, MI. Where the Black River and the St. Clair River meet. The winter hours are from 7 a.m. until 6 p.m. daily.


Updates - January 16

News Photo Gallery updated

Lay Up List updated

Calendar of Events updated


Today in Great Lakes History - January 16

The COLONEL JAMES PICKANDS (Hull#791) was launched in 1926, at Lorain, Ohio by the American Ship Building Co.

In 1987, the DETROIT EDISON was at Brownsville, Texas for scrapping, she was raised after being scuttled by vandals.

On her way to the cutters torch, the dead ship ASHLAND was anchored off Bermuda in 1988, when she dragged her anchors and was swept onto rocks. She suffered massive bottom damage but the tow continued.

On 16 January 1909, TECUMSEH (wooden propeller bulk freighter, 200 foot, 839 gross tons, built in 1873, at Chatham, Ontario) burned to a total loss at her winter berth at Goderich, Ontario.

In 1978, the CANADIAN CENTURY and NORTHERN VENTURE departed Toronto for Hamilton with coal after laying up at that port due to the bridge tenders strike which closed the Burlington Lift Bridge to navigation.

On 16 January 1875, The Port Huron Times printed the following list of vessels that were total losses in 1874: Tug IDA H LEE by collision in Milwaukee, Tug TAWAS by explosion off Sand Beach, Steamer W H BARNUM by collision in the Pelee Passage, Steamer TOLEDO by partially burning at Manistee, Tug WAVE by burning on Saginaw Bay, Tug DOUGLAS by burning on the Detroit River, Steamer BROOKLYN by explosion on the Detroit River, Steamer LOTTA BERNARD by foundering on Lake Superior.

Data from: Joe Barr, Brian Bernard, Dave Swayze, Father Dowling Collection, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series.

This is a small sample, the books includes many other vessels with a much more detailed history.


Walter J. McCarthy holed when docking

1/15 - Update - A submerged object pierced the hull of the Walter J. McCarthy Jr. on Monday as it was backing into a slip at Superior’s Hallett No. 8 Dock.

The 1,000-foot laker’s engine room took on “a substantial amount of water” and the vessel was evacuated, said Lt. Aaron Gross, chief of port operations for the marine safety unit of the U.S. Coast Guard in Duluth. The freighter was in Superior to lay up for the winter and was minutes from being secured to a pier, he said, before it was breached about 11:30 a.m.

Gross said the struck object could have been ice or a concrete piling. The vessel has come to rest on the bottom of the harbor in about 20 feet of water. No one was injured during the evacuation. The freighter, secured where it was meant to be for the winter, is not a threat to navigation or the environment, Gross said. “There was no oil in the water, no discharge,” he said. “But we’re taking precautions.”

The Coast Guard is working with the vessel’s owner, American Steamship to repair it, but had no damage estimates available Monday night. Gross said the engine room is flooded, so the size of the breach is not yet known.

The McCarthy is used mostly to carry coal from the Superior Midwest Energy terminal to Michigan. The vessel is a self-unloading bulk carrier christened in 1977 as the Belle River and was renamed for the retired chairman of the board of Detroit Edison in 1990.

From the Duluth News Tribune


Port Reports - January 15

Twin Ports - Al Miller
The Twin Ports layup fleet grew over the weekend with Roger Blough tying up at Cargill dock adjacent to the port terminal, American Mariner at the port terminal, Lee A. Tregurtha entering Fraser Shipyards, Walter J. McCarthy Jr, at Hallett Dock 8 (the first time in recent memory this dock has been used for a layup berth), and American Spirit at the Lakehead Pipeline dock.
St. Clair and Edwin H. Gott are expected to arrive for layup on Jan. 15.
Michipicoten loaded Monday at CN/DMIR ore dock while Mesabi Miner was due to load at Midwest Energy Terminal. The Miner is scheduled to load coal again Thursday before returning to the terminal for layup on Sunday.

Toronto - Clive Reddin
About 8:30 p.m. the Stephen B. Roman entered Toronto Harbour and moored unassisted by tugs.

Alpena - Ben & Chanda McClain
The tug Samuel de Champlain and barge Innovation arrived at Lafarge Sunday night. It loaded cement under the silos and finished up the 07/08 season. The Innovation is expected to arrive on Tuesday in Milwaukee for winter lay-up.

Milwaukee - Paul Erspamer
Agawa Canyon backed into Milwaukee's inner harbor at about 9:30 p.m. Sunday, delivering salt at the bulk cargo dock.
Also Sunday evening, another Algoma self-unloader (perhaps Algosteel) was anchored off Milwaukee's Bradford Beach. On Monday, the Algoma vessel remained at anchor with a tug or work boat secured at its port bow.
Stewart J. Cort proceeded into Milwaukee's inner harbor at about 6:30 p.m. Monday for winter lay-up, berthing at the heavy lift dock on Jones Island.

Goderich - Dale Baechler
Algomarine entered the harbour early Monday evening and went to the Sifto Salt dock to load.


Updates - January 15

News Photo Gallery updated

Lay Up List updated

Calendar of Events updated


Today in Great Lakes History - January 15

In 1978, the up bound McKEE SONS, LEON FALK JR, WILLIAM P SNYDER JR, A H FERBERT and CHAMPLAIN became stuck in heavy ice outside Cleveland Harbor. Eventually they were freed with the help of the U.S.C.G. icebreaker NORTHWIND and the U.S.C.G. MARIPOSA.

FORT YORK (Hull#160) was launched January 15, 1958, at Collingwood, Ontario by Collingwood Shipyards, Ltd.

In 1917, the ANN ARBOR NO 6 left Ecorse for Frankfort on her maiden voyage.

On 15 January 1873, A. Muir began building a wooden 3-mast schooner ("full sized canaler") at his shipyard in Port Huron. Fourteen men were employed to work on her, including master builder James Perry. The schooner was to be the exact counterpart of the GROTON, the first vessel built at that yard. The vessel's dimensions were 138 foot keel, 145 foot overall, 26 foot 2 inches beam and 11 foot 6 inch depth.

On 15 January 1886, the tug KITTIE HAIGHT was sold to Mr. Fisken of Toronto for $3,900.

Data from: Joe Barr, Brian Bernard, Dave Swayze, Father Dowling Collection, Max Hanley, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series. This is a small sample, the books includes many other vessels with a much more detailed history.


Fraser Shipyards is keeping boats afloat

1/14 - Duluth/Superior - Fraser Shipyards has been more than a century in the making, but there’s nothing staid about the attitude of this Superior company’s newly installed management team as they enter 2008.

“We want to become more active, and to do that, we need to start looking harder at how to meet the needs of our customers on a day-to-day basis,” said James Korthals, who was named Fraser’s new president and chief operating officer several weeks ago.

Among other things, the shipyard is looking to expand the range of services it offers. “In the past, we’ve had to turn down a lot of work because of aging facilities, but our ownership has made it clear that, if the business demand is there in the future, we will upgrade accordingly,” said John Boutin, a project engineer for Fraser. Boutin sees opportunities for the business to become more involved in custom metal fabrication work, including bending and forming jobs. He also believes Fraser can make more extensive use of its dry dock facilities in the future.

Gene Walroos, the shipyard’s general manager, said Fraser will pursue work helping lake carriers tackle large jobs, such as repowering lakers, replacing worn cargo holds or converting vessels to new configurations. The shipyard may even try building new barges or ships from scratch, Walroos said. The shipyard is owned by Reuben Johnson & Son Inc., a company perhaps best-known as the operator of a Superior-based construction firm.

Todd Johnson, who joined the family business in 1981, becoming its third-generation leader, said shipyard staff has rededicated itself to boosting Fraser’s activity. Johnson has personally called on lake carriers, both American and Canadian, to let them know of Fraser’s interest in taking on more work.

This winter, for the first time in Johnson’s memory, a Canadian vessel — the Frontenac — will go into dry dock at Fraser for inspection and maintenance. “We think we have a unique opportunity to serve Canadian carriers,” said Johnson, noting: “With the dollar weaker than the loonie, it’s now economical for them to do business with us.”

Johnson confirmed that he’s willing to invest in new facilities and equipment, as needed, to increase business. As evidence of that commitment, he pointed to the shipyard’s recent purchase of four new 75-ton rough-terrain cranes.

Fraser is now entering the busiest time of the year — the winter layup. The shipyard employs about 120 people during this period. In all, 12 ships are expected to tie up in the Twin Ports this winter, and Fraser expects to perform work on all of them. It’s quite common for carriers to invest anywhere from $500,000 to $800,000 in a single vessel during the brief winter layup.

“The economic impact extends beyond Fraser and its employees. A number of other vendors also benefit, such as Benson Electric and Central Sheet Metal,” said Andy Lisak, executive director of the Superior-Douglas County Development Association. “The great thing is that this is all money coming into the community from outside — from places like New York, Buffalo or where-have-you,” Lisak added. “We’re not just retreading a local dollar,” Korthals interjected.

Davis Helberg, a local historian and former director of the Duluth Superior Seaway Authority, said Fraser deserves much of the credit for bringing so many vessels to the Twin Ports during the winter layup. “The fact that we’ve had this shipyard plus its experienced crew in place has been a primary reason why we’ve had so many lakers come here,” he said.

Helberg likened the fleet of winter vessels to “a floating community” in need of all manner of equipment, gear and services. Come the fit-out for a new season in late March, ships also will lay on supplies for their crews. “Economically, it’s a good shot in the arm,” Helberg observed.

After the layup, Fraser’s personnel needs diminish considerably, typically falling to about 35 people post-April in recent years. Korthals acknowledged that the peaks and valleys of the business and the specialized nature of the skills involved can make staffing a challenge. “We need to look at what we can do to carry the peak further into the year,” Korthals said, stressing the need for more prolonged employment opportunities.

In this respect, Fraser also benefits from its relationship with a construction firm.

Todd Johnson said some seasonal workers at Fraser are offered the opportunity to cross-train for jobs in construction with Reuben Johnson & Sons. “We have done that for years with varying degrees of success,” he said, adding: “We want to utilize the skills and talents of our workers to the best of our abilities.”

Johnson noted that his construction company also is able to make use of some of Fraser’s equipment, such as its portable cranes during the off-season. “In many ways, the shipyard really is a nice complement to our construction services business,” he said.

Going forward, Korthals said that recruiting and keeping skilled workers will be critical to Fraser’s success. “We live and die by the quality of our work force,” he said.

Korthals also observed that staffing is likely to become an even greater challenge in the coming years, with the potential expansion of Murphy Oil’s refinery in Superior and several planned mine expansion projects on the Iron Range all competing for skilled workers. Still, Fraser’s staffing issues may appear modest compared to those it faced in the past. In the early 1980s, the shipyard employed about 600 people.

Helberg said Fraser played an instrumental role in helping modify lakers for the changing needs of the industry, lengthening vessels after the opening of the Poe Lock during the 1968-69 season, repowering vessels and equipping former straight deckers with self-unloading equipment.

Adolph Ojard, executive director of the Duluth Seaway Port Authority, believes Fraser could play a similar role, helping Great Lakes fleets adapt for the future. “The Canadians are going through a modernizing program right now, and there’s no reason Fraser can’t be a player in that market,” he said.

Ojard also sees opportunities for Fraser to prolong the lives of ships that have been in service for years. “Fraser has always been very strong in maintenance, and with all the old ships that are still in service, there’s going to be more and more maintenance to do,” he said.

From the Duluth News Tribune


Port Report - January 14

South Chicago - Tom Milton
Sunday evening at 7 p.m. the Algorail's bow was near the 100th Street Bridge unloading a cargo of salt.


Updates - January 14

News Photo Gallery updated

Lay Up List Updated


Today in Great Lakes History - January 14

On this day in 1970, the IRVING S OLDS entered winter layup at Lorain to close the longest season in Great Lakes shipping history.

On 14 January 1945, the W. Butler Shipyard built C1-M-AV1 ship LEBANON (Hull#40) was the last vessel through the Soo Locks. Ice was a serious problem. The newly commissioned ice breaker U.S.C.G.C. MACKINAW escorted the LEBANON to Lake Huron. The Locks had never before been open this late in January. They were kept open to allow newly built cargo vessels to sail from Superior, Wisconsin to the Atlantic Ocean where they were needed for the war effort.

Scrapping began on the CHICAGO TRIBUNE in 1989, by International Marine Salvage in Port Colborne, Ontario.

January 14, 1920 - The Grand Trunk carferry GRAND HAVEN was fast in the ice three miles out of Grand Haven.

In 1977, the CANADIAN MARINER laid up at the Consol Fuel dock in Windsor after her attempt to reach Port Colborne was thwarted by heavy ice off Long Point.

On Jan 14, 1978, the JAMES R BARKER departed the Soo Line ore dock in Ashland, Wisconsin, where she had been laid-up since August 7, 1977, due to the iron ore miners strike.

Data from: Max Hanley, Brian Bernard, Russ Plumb, Ahoy & Farewell II, Father Dowling Collection and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series. This is a small sample, the books includes many other vessels with a much more detailed history.


Port Report - January 13

Goderich - Dale Baechler and Wayne Brown
Halifax arrived early Saturday morning, turned in the inner harbour, then went to the Sifto Salt dock to load, a product that is desperately needed at the Lake Michigan ports.


Today in Great Lakes History - January 13

On 13 January 1918, the Goodrich Line's ALABAMA and the Grand Trunk ferries MILWAUKEE and GRAND HAVEN all became stuck in the ice off Grand Haven, Michigan. The vessels remained imprisoned in the ice for the next two weeks. When the wind changed, they were freed but Grand Haven's harbor was still inaccessible. The ALABAMA sailed for Muskegon and stalled in the 18 inch thick ice on Muskegon Lake.

After lightering 3,000 tons of coal, the a.) BENSON FORD was refloated in 1974, and proceeded to the Toledo Overseas Terminal to be reloaded.

In 1979, the U.S.C.G. tug ARUNDEL is beset by windrowed ice at Minneapolis Shoal in Green Bay. Strong winds piled the ice on her stern and soon she had a 25 degree list. The crew feared that she may sink and abandoned the tug, walking across the ice with the help of a spotlight onboard the ACACIA which also became beset by the heavy ice. The MACKINAW, SUNDEW and a Coast Guard helicopter were dispatched to the scene, but northwest winds relieved the ice pressure and the crew was able to reboard the ARUNDEL. The ARUNDEL sails today as the tug c.) ERIKA KOBASIC.

13 January 2005 - The GENESIS EXPLORER (steel propeller tanker, 435’, built in 1974 at Port Weller, Ontario, formerly IMPERIAL ST. CLAIR & ALGOSAR) sailed from Halifax for Quebec City. She was registered in the Comoros Islands. She is carrying a few members of her former crew for training purposes, but her new crew is African.

On January 13, 1970, the lower engine room and holds of the SEWELL AVERY accidentally flooded sinking her to the bottom of Duluth Harbor causing minimal damage other than an immense cleanup effort.

January 13, 1909 - The PERE MARQUETTE 17 was freed after her grounding the previous December.

Data from: Max Hanley, Brian Bernard, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series. This is a small sample, the books includes many other vessels with a much more detailed history.


Ship that hit bottom slightly damaged

1/12 - Muskegon - The Great Lakes freighter Manistee sustained minor bow damage when it ran aground outside the Muskegon harbor Tuesday, the first of four reported groundings in Muskegon this fall to require repairs. The ship, owned by Grand River Navigation of Cleveland, was attempting to deliver 19,000 tons of salt to Verplank Dock Co. on Muskegon Lake when it was stopped short at about 10 p.m.

The 620-foot vessel was en route to Detroit for repairs Friday, according to Tony Walker, engineering superintendent for Lower Lakes Towing, the firm's Canadian branch in Dover, Ontario.

After freeing itself, two hours after running aground in the vicinity of Muskegon's pierheads, the Manistee left Muskegon for Milwaukee to offload some of its cargo, and was expected to return to Muskegon for a second attempt. The Coast Guard was notified of the incident in Muskegon, as required after any reportable grounding, and a hull inspection showed minor damage to the ship's bow.

Although he described the damage as "minimal," Walker said repairs had to be made before the ship could resume normal operations. "It's been reported and noted by the regulatory agencies, so it has to be attended to immediately," he said.

A decision will be made shortly as to whether to order another load of salt for delivery to Muskegon. "I would just make one other comment, Walker added: "Dredging ... dredging ... dredging." Muskegon's harbor was last dredged in 2004. Its next dredging is scheduled for April of this year.

The Manistee was the fourth ship to run aground in Muskegon in less than five months. Two 1,000-foot ships, the Indiana Harbor and the American Integrity, ran aground in August and September while attempting to deliver coal to the B.C. Cobb generating plant on Muskegon Lake. Those groundings were followed by one in November involving the 630-foot Earl W.

From the Muskegon Chronicle


Port Reports - January 12

Marquette - Rod Burdick
On a snowy Friday at the Upper Harbor ore dock, Earl W. and Michipicoten loaded taconite.

Goderich - Dale Baechler
Agawa Canyon made her way into port Friday morning with stiff breezes blowing. She went into the inner harbour to turn, which has little ice now, then went to the Sifto Salt dock to load.

Al Miller - Twin Ports
Frontenac arrived in the Twin Ports on Friday morning and proceeded to Fraser Shipyards in Superior, where it entered the big drydock.
Later in the day, Indiana Harbor arrived in Duluth to lay up at the Hallett Dock.
Late in the afternoon, Lee A. Tregurtha was loading coal at Midwest Energy Terminal while Sam Laud and CSL Niagara waited at the port terminal for a chance to load at the CN/DMIR ore dock.


Mum’s the word on high-level meetings at Minntac Mine

1/12 - Duluth - Several top-level U.S. Steel executives made a rare visit to Minntac Mine in Mountain Iron this week to discuss company strategies with Iron Range legislators. Such visits usually signal a major company decision. Iron Range legislators said U.S. Steel asked them to keep the subject of the meeting confidential.

State Sen. Tom Bakk (DFL-Cook) characterized Wednesday’s meeting as positive, saying that U.S. Steel’s strategies could lead to a significant boost for the Iron Range. U.S. Steel officials have also contacted steelworker leaders about company strategies.

U.S. Steel owns and operates two Iron Range taconite plants, Minntac Mine and KeeTac in Keewatin. KeeTac produces about 5.4 million tons of iron ore pellets annually. However, it has one production line that has been mothballed for years. Minntac can produce about 14.6 million tons of iron ore pellets annually.

Scott Coleman, Minnesota Ore Operations general manager, said Thursday he could not comment on the nature of the discussion.

Iron ore pellets are in high demand globally as rapidly developing countries such as China and India build infrastructure. An 800,000-ton per year expansion at Northshore Mining Co. in Silver Bay is due to become operational near the end of the first quarter.

From the Duluth News tribune


ISMA Lodge #2 Port Huron Announces 2008 Scholarship

1/12 - Port Huron - Captain James C. Acheson and the International Shipmasters’ Lodge #2 Port Huron, MI have established the Blue Water Shipmaster’s Fund to assist a Blue Water resident in furthering their education in the Deck or Engineering program at either the Great Lakes Maritime Academy or the Georgian College Marine Program.

The scholarship will provide up to one $1,000 scholarship annually. The Blue Water Shipmasters’ Scholarship recipient will be announced no later than May 31st.

To be considered, candidates must be (1) a Blue Water Resident (St. Clair County, Michigan or Lambton County, Ontario), (2) currently enrolled or accepted into the deck or engineering program at the Great Lakes Maritime Academy, Traverse City, MI, the St. Clair County Community College (Port Huron, MI) Transfer Program for the Great Lakes Maritime Academy, or the Georgian College Marine Program, Owen Sound, Ontario.

Candidates must also currently have a 2.0 grade point average for U.S. applicants; 65 or 2.5 (on 5.0 scale) for Canadian applicants. Academic record, extra circular activities and job experience will be taken into account.

For further information or to obtain an application package, please visit the Community Foundation of St. Clair County website.  and click on Blue Water Shipmasters' Fund, or contact Lindsay Redlawsk at 810-984-4761.


Updates - January 12

News Photo Gallery updated

Lay Up List Updated


Today in Great Lakes History - January 12

The CHI-CHEEMAUN (Hull#205) was launched January 12, 1974, at Collingwood, Ontario by Collingwood Shipyards, Ltd.

The GRAND HAVEN was gutted by fire on January 12, 1970, during scrapping operations at the United Steel & Refining Co. Ltd. dock at Hamilton, Ontario.

MENIHEK LAKE (Hull#163) was launched January 12, 1959, at Collingwood, Ontario by Collingwood Shipyards, Ltd. She was used in a unique experiment with shunters in the Welland Canal in 1980. She was scrapped at Gijon, Spain in 1985.

On January 12, 1973, the VENUS had an engine room explosion shortly after unloading at Kipling, Michigan, near Gladstone on Little Bay De Noc, causing one loss of life.

On 12 January 1956, ANABEL II (probably a fish tug, 62 tons, built in 1928) was destroyed by fire at her winter lay-up at the Roen Steamship Co. dock at Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin.

January 12, 1911 - The ANN ARBOR No. 5 hit the rocks close to the south breakwater when entering Manistique harbor, tearing off her starboard shaft and wheel.

The wooden steam barge O O CARPENTER (127.5 foot, 364 gross tons) was sold by the Jenks Shipbuilding Company on 12 January 1892, to Mr. H. E. Runnels and Capt. Sinclair for $26,000. The vessel had been launched at Jenks yard on 13 May 1891.

The new EDWIN H GOTT departed Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin in 1979, for final fit out at Milwaukee.

Data from: Max Hanley, Joe Barr, Brian Bernard, Dave Swayze, Father Dowling Collection, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series.

This is a small sample, the books includes many other vessels with a much more detailed history.


Lake Erie Ferry still in works
Officials from 10 port authorities meet to review two proposals for an Ohio-Ontario link.

1/11 - London, Ont. - A Lake Erie ferry linking Ohio and Ontario is among the issues port authorities on the American side of the lake have resolved to work on together.

A gathering of officials from 10 Ohio port authorities and lakeside municipal officials this week looked at two ferry proposals and issues such as dredging and government assistance and plan to do so again next month.

"It was very positive, it was a good meeting," said Chris Conley, mayor of Grand River, Ohio, whose village has partnered with a private operator to promote a ferry linking nearby Fairport Harbor to Port Burwell. He said he particularly appreciated a willingness by officials from Cleveland who have proposed a Cleveland-Port Stanley link to express a willingness to work with his group.

Proponents of both ferry plans outlined their proposals to the gathering near Mentor, Ohio. A third proponent, which has been pushing a fast-ferry passenger service between Erie, Pa., and Port Dover, did not attend. Conley said he believes that plan has died.

In Norfolk County, manager of tourism and economic development Clark Hoskin said the county still has a memorandum of understanding with the Erie-based proponents, but has heard little from them recently. "They are in the driver's seat," Hoskin said of the American principals. "But I wouldn't link their lack of attendance to a lack of willingness to proceed." The head of the Erie- Western Pennsylvania Port Authority, which proposed the 80-minute fast ferry, did not return calls.

Meanwhile, Rose Ann DeLeon, vice-president of strategic development for the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority, said her authority's bid to run a ferry is still very much alive. "We still have Port Stanley as a partner," she said. Like Conley of Grand River, DeLeon said the gathering of port officials was worthwhile and a smaller working group will now assess possible collaboration on many issues, including ferries.

Meanwhile, Central Elgin, where Port Stanley is located, is still negotiating with Transport Canada, which is anxious to divest itself of the port at Port Stanley. MP Joe Preston (C - Elgin-Middlesex-London) said talks have gone on long enough and he's hopeful the issue can be resolved this year. "Central Elgin has to be satisfied that what they are taking on is viable," he said.

Preston conceded until the ownership issue is resolved, talks about a ferry service can't go far.

From the London Ontario Free Press


Port Reports - January 11

Marquette - Rod Burdick and Lee Rowe
Weather delays created heavy traffic at the Upper Harbor Thursday afternoon. At the ore dock, Herbert C. Jackson loaded taconite, and Lee A. Tregurtha unloaded coal.
Fleetmates Earl W. and Wolverine were anchored off the Upper Harbor. When Tregurtha departed light for western Lake Superior, Wolverine moved to the ore dock.

Lorain - C. Mackin
Both McKee Sons and the John J. Boland made stops in Lorain on Wednesday night. McKee Sons went to the Jonick dock and the Boland went to R.E.P.

Goderich - Dale Baechler
Algomarine was able to back into the ice free channel to the Sifto Salt dock to load Thursday morning. The inner harbour is packed with ice after the westerly breezes but beyond that and out to the lake, smooth sailing.


Steel shipments within Lakes could boost Cleveland port

1/11 - Cleveland - An unprecedented movement of steel coils by barge within the Great Lakes could boost the Cleveland port and area industries, officials say.

In the last six weeks, the port has received four steel shipments from Algoma Steel in Ontario, via Lake Huron to Lake Erie, the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority reported Tuesday.

Typically, the port's steel imports arrive by foreign vessel through the St. Lawrence Seaway. That business sagged 30 percent to about 400,000 tons in 2007, due partly to the weakening American dollar, said Steve Pfeiffer, the port's vice president of maritime services. The Algoma shipments -- from a Sault Ste. Marie steel mill -- could add more than 100,000 tons a year to the port's business, Pfeiffer said.

Shipping by water competes well with trucks and railroad lines because of rising fuel costs and other factors, officials said. A barge delivered 4,500 tons this week. A bigger shipment is expected today or Friday, said Joe Thornton, general manager for Federal Marine Terminals Inc., which operates the port authority docks east of the Cuyahoga River.

Algoma wants to deliver 9,000 tons a month to the Cleveland port, for steel-service centers and other users in the Youngstown-Sharon, Pa., area, Thornton said. "We're handling 215 coils today," Thornton said of the barge delivery Tuesday. "That's one or two diesel engines and a crew of seven. On the road, that's 215 trucks and 215 drivers."

The barge shipments exemplify the promise of short-sea shipping -- inter-lake movement of cargo that Pfeiffer and port President Adam Wasserman believe could build more business for the port and the local economy.

From the Cleveland Plain Dealer


Updates - January 11

News Photo Gallery updated

Reserve Conversion Gallery updated

Lay Up List Updated


Today in Great Lakes History - January 11

The steamer ROBERT S MC NAMARA, under tow reached her intended destination of Santander, Spain on January 11, 1974, for scrapping.

In 1970, the IRVING S OLDS was the last ship of the season at the Soo Locks as she followed the PHILIP R CLARKE down bound.

In 1973, the ROGER BLOUGH collided with the PHILIP R CLARKE after the CLARKE encountered an ice pressure ridge and came to a stop in the Straits of Mackinac.

On 11 January 1962, ARCTURUS, formerly JAMES B WOOD, was under tow of the Portuguese tug PRAIA GRANDE on the way to Norway to be scrapped when she foundered off the Azores at position 46.10N x 8.50W.

January 11, 1911 - The ANN ARBOR NO 5 arrived in Frankfort, Michigan on her maiden voyage.

On 11 January 1883, The Port Huron Times reported that a citizens' committee met to help Port Huron businesses. "A. N. Moffat decried the taxation of vessel property. High taxation of vessel property had driven much of it away from Port Huron. He cited the case of Capt. David Lester of Marine City who came to Port Huron a few years ago to live and would have brought here one of the largest fleets on the Great Lakes, but when he found what taxes would be, returned to Marine City."

Data from: Max Hanley, Brian Bernard, Joe Barr, Dave Swayze, Father Dowling Collection, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series. This is a small sample, the books includes many other vessels with a much more detailed history.


Another Grounding at Muskegon

1/10 - Muskegon - Shoaling that has apparently been worsening in Muskegon's outer harbor denied passage to yet another lake freighter Tuesday night.

The 620-foot Manistee hit the sandy bottom outside the Muskegon pierheads at about 10 p.m., Tuesday, becoming the fourth cargo ship to do so since the 1,000-foot Indiana Harbor became mired at the same spot for four hours last Aug. 22. The Manistee, loaded with about 13,000 tons of salt, was bound for the Verplank Co. dock on Muskegon Lake.

Nathan Gates, Verplank's sales and logistics manager, said the ship freed itself and departed Muskegon for Milwaukee at around midnight. It was expected to unload some salt there and try again to reach Verplank early Friday. Gates said the same ship carried a shipment to Muskegon nearly two weeks ago and departed without incident. "My suspicion is that once a shoal starts it continues to get worse as we get certain weather patterns," Gates said.

The grounding of the Indiana Harbor was followed by that of another 1,000-footer, the American Integrity, on Sept. 10. It wiggled free after about an hour, then offloaded coal to another ship before proceeding to the B.C. Cobb electrical generating plant at the east end of Muskegon Lake. Then, on Nov. 13, a smaller ship, the 630-foot Earl W went aground in the same area with about 19,000 tons of limestone.

Muskegon's harbor is scheduled for dredging this spring. However, the current low lake levels are causing problems for shippers all around the Great Lakes, according to the Lake Carriers Association. Shippers have had to lighten loads, resulting in increased costs.

Last month, another 620-foot ship, the Mississagi, ran aground at the entrance of the Grand Haven channel with a load of limestone. It was forced to drop some of that cargo at Muskegon before returning to Grand Haven.

From the Muskegon Chronicle


Port Reports - January 10

Milwaukee - John N. Vogel
Early Wednesday afternoon the Agawa Canyon was at the bulk cargo pier in the outer harbor discharging salt. At the same time Lower Lakes' Manistee was anchored beyond the harbor entrance, likely waiting its turn to unload salt. The barge St. Mary's Conquest and its tug Susan W. Hannah were passing by the breakwater's harbor light and heading out onto the lake.

Al Miller - Twin Ports
Edward L. Ryerson, now in Fraser Shipyards, is the first of 12 vessels expected to lay up in the Twin Ports. The only vessel named so far is the Mesabi Miner, now due to tie up at Midwest Energy Terminal on Jan. 20. Tuesday’s vessel traffic was sparse: Philip R. Clarke arrived to load at the CN/DMIR ore dock while Burns Harbor was loading at BNSF in Superior. Midwest Energy Terminal’s revised schedule has six scheduled vessel loads and two additional tentative loads. St. Clair, Canadian Olympic and Canadian Transport were all listed as anchored in Whitefish Bay but due at the terminal on Jan. 10 or Jan. 11. Indiana Harbor was listed as tentative for Jan. 11.


Midwest Energy Resources Co. installing $3 million unloader

1/10 - Duluth - Midwest Energy Resources Co. probably will ship the season’s last boatload of coal out of Superior next week, but the facility won’t shift into idle when lakers tie up for the winter.

The coal terminal will use its down time to replace the rotary railcar unloader at the heart of its receiving operations. This massive piece of equipment lifts and tips whole railcars 160 degrees, enabling the facility to unload each arriving railcar in less than 1½ minutes. A single railcar typically carries about 118 tons of coal.

The cost of the new unloader plus installation is expected to exceed $3 million, said Fred Shusterich, Midwest’s president. He said the new equipment has been guaranteed by its manufacturer to handle at least 400 million tons of coal, extending the life of the coal terminal for an additional 15 years at recent operating levels.

U.S. Maritime Administrator Sean Connaughton toured Midwest on Tuesday, saying that he had come to see the largest bulk-loading facility on the Great Lakes. Midwest transships 21 million to 22 million tons of coal per year from train to laker. Shusterich said that staff members had made great strides to boost the throughput of the facility, which was originally designed to handle about 12 million tons of coal.

The facility receives its coal by rail, mostly from the low-sulfur Powder River and Hanna Basin coal formations in Montana and Wyoming. Up to 5 million tons of coal can be stored on site in Superior.

Connaughton said facilities like Midwest’s help relieve some of the pressure on already-overburdened surface transportation systems by shifting cargo to waterways. “We want to take as many cars and trucks off the road as we can,” Connaughton said.

The highly automated terminal in Superior can load a laker at a rate of 11,500 tons per hour. Some of the freighters that call on the facility are capable of taking on up to 68,000 tons of coal. It would take a five-mile-long train to move such a load by land.

Connaughton said his department is doing what it can to promote water transportation and is working to address several issues that could hinder its further development. Those include identifying technologies that could halt the transport of invasive species, freeing up funds to dredge shipping channels so that freighters can be fully loaded and exploring opportunities for year-round short-sea shipping on the lakes.

The last sitting U.S. maritime administrator to call on the Twin Ports was Clyde Hart Jr., a Clinton administration appointee who visited in the late 1990s.

From the Duluth News-Tribune


Cleveland-Cliffs increases quarterly dividend

1/10 - Duluth - The board of directors of iron ore supplier Cleveland-Cliffs has approved a 40 percent increase in the company's regular quarterly cash dividend paid to shareholders.

A dividend of $0.175 per common share will be paid effective March 3, up from $0.125 per common share, according to a Cleveland-Cliffs news release. The dividend increase brings the annualized dividend on Cleveland-Cliffs common stock to $0.70 per common share.

Joe Carrabba, Cleveland-Cliffs' chairman, president, and chief executive officer, said it's the third time since 2005 that the company has increased its common stock dividend.

Cleveland-Cliffs operates six iron ore mines in Minnesota, Michigan, and eastern Canada; three coking mines in West Virginia and Alabama, iron ore facilities in Australia, interest in an iron ore project in Brazil and a coking and thermal coal project in Australia.

From the Duluth News Tribune


Updates - January 10

News Photo Gallery updated

Reserve Conversion Gallery updated

Lay Up List Updated


Today in Great Lakes History - January 10

On this day in 1952, the EDWARD B GREENE was launched at the at the American Shipbuilding yards at Toledo, Ohio. The 647 foot vessel joined the Cleveland Cliffs fleet. After lengthening over the winter of 1975-1976 and conversion to a self unloader in 1981, the GREENE sailed briefly as the b.) BENSON FORD for Rouge Steel. She sails today as the c.) KAYE E BARKER of the Interlake fleet.

ONTADOC (Hull#207) was launched January 10, 1975, at Collingwood, Ontario by Collingwood Shipyards, Ltd. For N.M. Paterson & Sons. Renamed b.) MELISSA DESGAGNES in 1990.

On January 10, 1977, the CHESTER A POLING, b.) MOBIL ALBANY) broke in two and sank off the coast of Massachusetts.

January 10, 1998 - Glen Bowden, former co-owner of the Michigan-Wisconsin Transportation Company (MWT) died.

In 1974, the W C RICHARDSON was towed from her winter berth in Toledo to assist in lightering the grounded a.) BENSON FORD.

On Jan 10, 1978, the tanker JUPITER became stuck in 3 to 5-foor ridged ice off Erie, Pennsylvania The U.S.C.G. tug OJIBWA is sent from Buffalo, New York to free her, but she too became beset in the ice 3 miles from the JUPITER's position. The JUPITER was lost after an explosion at Bay City in 1990. The OJIBWA is now the tug GEN OGLETHORPE in Savannah, Georgia.

On 10 January 1898, Alexander Anderson of Marine City was awarded a contract to build a wooden steamer for A. F. Price of Fremont, Ohio, Isaac Lincoln of Dakota, and Capt. Peter Ekhert of Port Huron, Michigan. The vessel was to be named ISAAC LINCOLN and was to be 130 feet long and capable of carrying 400,000 feet of lumber. The contract price was $28,000. Her engine and boiler were to be built by Samuel F. Hodge of Detroit. The vessel was launched on 10 May 1898, and her cost had increased to $40,000. She lasted until 1931 when she was abandoned.

Data from: Max Hanley, Brian Bernard, Russ Plumb, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series. This is a small sample, the books includes many other vessels with a much more detailed history.


Port Reports - January 9

Toledo - Bob Vincent
The American Victory came in early Sunday morning for winter lay-up.

St. Marys River - Jon Paul Michaels
Soo Traffic closed the St. Marys River to all traffic between Mud Lake Junction Buoy and 9 Mile Point at 12:15 a.m. Tuesday morning. Dense fog creating zero visibility caused the closure. The Roger Blough downbound, had called in to Soo Traffic at 11 p.m. to report the worsening conditions but was able to proceed outbound Detour. The American Fortitude, Canadian Transfer, CSL Assiniboine and H. Lee White after entering the River upbound, went to anchor between Pipe Island and Lime Island. It was also reported that ice conditions in the lower river were improving due to the warmer temperatures and rain.

Port Colborne -
Petite Forte and Sea Eagle II have been moved south to wharf 17 immediately behind Windoc with St. Marys Cement II still at wharf 16. Looks like they may be there for the winter. Perhaps making room for another ship to lay-up at wharf 16. St Mary's Cement II arrived with Sea Eagle II before canal closed. St. Marys Cement II was moved south to the area of wharf 17 immediately behind Petite Forte and Sea Eagle II. No clear indication that they are preparing to sail to Toledo where the cargo on St. Mary's Cement II was reported to be going.

Twin Ports - Al Miller
Vessel activity in the Twin Ports is winding down. Midwest Energy Terminal, the busiest dock, has only three vessel loads remaining on its schedule. Canadian Olympic is due Wednesday to load for Nanticoke, and Mesabi Miner is scheduled to load January 13 and 16 with coal for Presque Isle near Marquette. The Miner is expected to lay up at the terminal on January 19. As of December 31, the dock had loaded more than 21 million tons of coal, posting its second-highest total in its history. The dock keeps records by the calendar year.


Great Lakes Limestone Trade Slips to Lowest Level Since 1995

1/9 - Cleveland---Sluggish demand, inadequate dredging, and weather-related delays in the final two months of 2007 combined to produce the lowest total for limestone shipments on the Great Lakes in 12 years. Loadings totaled only 34 million net tons in 2007. The previous low point for the trade was 34.6 million tons in 1995.

Compared to 2006, limestone shipments fell nearly 13 percent in 2007. The trade fared somewhat better in relation to its 5-year average. The 2007 total is 9.9 percent behind the average for the years 2002-2006.

Vessels’ inability to carry full loads impacted the limestone trade every day the quarries were loading. Although the largest limestone cargo ever to move on the Great Lakes totals 59,078 tons, not one cargo ever topped 50,000 tons in 2007. Even the smaller vessels sized to serve customers along industrial rivers were forced to leave hundreds of tons behind each trip because of low water levels and decades of inadequate dredging system wide.

Weather Delays Add to Effects of Light Loading on Coal in November
Shipments Down 17 Percent

1/9 Cleveland—As if the impacts of the dredging crisis weren’t bad enough, weather-related vessel delays further reduced coal shipments on the Great Lakes in November. Loadings totaled only 3.3 million net tons, a decrease 17 percent compared to a year ago.

The comparison with the month’s 5-year average is even worse: Shipments represent a decrease of 19 percent.

Lack of adequate dredging and falling water levels again slashed vessel carrying capacity in November. Even though Class X U.S.-Flag Lakers (the 1,000-footers) have carried nearly 71,000 tons of coal in a single trip when water levels were high in the late 1990s, not one cargo that

transited the locks at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, even approached 63,000 tons. A 66,000-ton cargo that was loaded and delivered on Lake Superior fell more than 5,300 tons short of the benchmark for that trade.

For the year, the Lakes coal trade stands at 34.6 million tons, a decrease of 8.8 percent compared to the same point in 2006. Compared to the 5-year average, shipments are 7.6 percent off the pace.

More information is available at

Source: Lake Carriers’ Association


Updates - January 9

News Photo Gallery updated

Reserve Conversion Gallery updated

Lay Up List Updated


Today in Great Lakes History - January 09

On this day in 1973, the CHARLES M BEEGHLY was the latest running Interlake vessel when she entered winter layup at Toledo, Ohio.

BAIE COMEAU II was laid up on January 9, 1983, at Sorel, Quebec and was sold the following April to Progress Overseas Co. S.A., Panama renamed c.) AGIA TRIAS.

January 9, 1977 - The last survivor of the PERE MARQUETTE 18 disaster, Mike Bucholtz, died.

In 1974, a combination of wind and ice forced the beset BENSON FORD, of 1924, from the shipping channel in Western Lake Erie, running aground.

Data from: Max Hanley, Russ Plumb, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series.

This is a small sample, the books includes many other vessels with a much more detailed history.


Port Reports - January 8

South Chicago - Steve B.
Monday morning found the Algorail unloading salt at the Morton Salt dock at 100th St.  Algomarine arrived at North American salt at 92nd St., with assistance from the G tug South Carolina, at 2 p.m. The Lee A. Tregurtha departed Indiana Harbor at about 2:30 p.m. with a destination of KCBX at 100th St to load coal.
The Algorail had to wait for the Algomarine to discharge some of its load before it could pass. The Algomarine was winched up 30 feet out from the dock due to water levels. The Lee A. Tregurtha waited outside the harbor for the Algorail to depart the Calumet River before heading to KCBX.

Goderich - Dale Baechler
Agawa Canyon sat outside the breakwall blowing its fog horn all Monday morning, unable to enter the harbour because of the very thick fog. She finally came into the inner harbour at noon to do the turn, then went to Sifto Salt to load.

Twin Ports - Al Miller
Amid mild temperatures in the 30's and a resulting haze over the water, the Edward L. Ryerson entered Duluth harbor shortly after 4 p.m. Monday, apparently headed for winter lay up at Fraser Shipyards. Reports are that the Ryerson will spend part of the winter in drydock.

Alpena - Ben & Chanda McClain
Monday morning at 7a.m. the Alpena was making its way into port. As the day progressed fog rolled in and the Alpena remained at Lafarge after loading because of poor visibility. By early evening heavy rain and thunderstorms went through the area, but the Alpena was able to depart for Cleveland.
The tug Samuel de Champlain and barge Innovation were expected to return Tuesday morning.

Milwaukee - Paul Erspamer
St. Marys Conquest and tug Susan W. Hannah entered Milwaukee's inner harbor Monday at 1:30 p.m., proceeding up the Kinnickinnic River to their terminal to unload dry cement.


Today in Great Lakes History - January 08

On 08 January 2004, Mc Keil Marine's CAPT RALPH TUCKER was the first vessel of 2004, to arrive at the port of Manistee, Michigan. Once docked at the General Chemical facilities, Captain Bill Sullivan and Chief Engineer Otto Cooper were each presented with hand carved Hackberry canes. This was a notable way for the vessel to start her last year of operation. Later that year she was sold for scrap.

JOHN HULST (Hull#286) was launched in 1938, at River Rouge, Michigan by Great Lakes Engineering Works for the Pittsburgh Steamship Co.

On 8 January 1877, the tug KATE FELCHER burned at East Saginaw, Michigan. Her loss was valued at $3,000, but she was insured for only $2,000. She was named after the wife of her owner, the well known Capt. James Felcher of E. Saginaw.

In 1939, several tugs helped release the grounded CHIEF WAWATAM, which had been aground since January 3.

In 1974, the BENSON FORD, of 1924, became beset by ice in Western Lake Erie.

January 8, 1976, the LEON FALK JR closed the season at Superior, Wisconsin after she departed the Burlington-Northern ore docks.

Data from: Joe Barr, Dave Swayze, Father Dowling Collection, Brian Bernard, Max Hanley, Jody Aho, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series.


The annual buoy removal

1/7 - Port Huron - When the last 6-ton buoy was secured with gripe chains on the deck of the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Hollyhock, a seasonal anthem blared across the ship’s public address system. “Jingle bell, jingle bell, jingle bell rock!”

For about five weeks, the 50 men who comprise the Hollyhock’s crew have traveled from Buffalo, N.Y., to the Straits of Mackinac collecting more than 100 buoys. At the end of the last buoy-tending trip on Dec. 21, the men smiled and some patted each other or nodded. Generally, the end of the buoy-tending season was greeted with as much hoopla as a pilot gives a successful airplane landing. No doubt the prospect of reversing course come spring and putting all of the seasonal buoys back into the water had something to do with that.

The Hollyhock will spend the next few months breaking ice in Saginaw Bay and throughout the area — it’s rated to cut ice up to 3 feet thick. Search and rescue also is part of its mission, but primarily the cutter is an “Aids to Navigation” (ATON) ship, or a buoy tender.

Buoys line the shipping lanes from the Minnesota edge of the Great Lakes through the St. Lawrence Seaway to the Atlantic Ocean. They are placed at precise spots, marking the best route for vessels with deep drafts. Some buoys are equipped with solar cells, lanterns, sound signals and radio transmitters. They are anchored with 4-ton concrete blocks called “sinkers” that must be dragged to the surface as the buoys are retrieved.

Tending the buoys is what Chief Warrant Officer Jonathan Franchebois, 35, of Niagara Falls, N.Y., called the “blue-collar work” of the Coast Guard. It’s hard and dangerous. Franchebois said it’s been a couple of years since the last “mishap” on the Hollyhock and that accidents may mean loss of limbs or worse.

To appreciate the danger, consider a few things. First, each working crewman literally is backed up by another crewman whose sole duty is to hold onto his shipmate’s pants to prevent him from falling over the side of the deck and into freezing water.

Second, the chains that connect the buoys to the sinkers weigh thousands of pounds. Each link is the size of a gorilla’s fist, but the chain appears small between the two larger objects.

Third, lifting buoys out of the water with a large crane, securing the heavy chain on the deck, then pulling the sinker is all done from a shifting and slick platform, often in low visibility and in conditions Mother Nature intended to slow any natural process on the planet.

On some days, the snow blows sideways, and the cold makes men cry, Franchebois said. Crying is the body’s way of warming eyeballs.

A few of the Hollyhock’s officers, including the captain, Lt. Cmdr. Mike Davanzo, called the Hollyhock “a well-oiled machine.” Nothing demonstrates how wedded the crew is to the cutter like the language used on the bridge.

“Come left zero, four, one,” conning officer Lt. j.g. Benjamin Chamberlain, 23, of San Diego, called as the ship traveled north on the St. Clair River. “Zero, four, one, aye,” said helmsman, yeoman 1st Class Jeremy Hann, 33, of Breezewood, Pa. “Steady zero, four, one, checking zero, three, two.”

Between the bridge and the buoy deck the language changes. A crewman piling a tray with food in the “mess” is “walking the line.”

On the buoy deck, motivation from the mouth of the buoy deck chief, Mike Pipech, 40, of St. Petersburg, Fla., sounds like this: “Eyes on the prize! Whoo-hoo!” Popping “original Double Bubble” between his teeth and clapping occasionally, Pipech looks like Dennis the Menace if Dennis the Menace grew up and got really tough.

When one of his “deck force” makes a mistake, Pipech orders him to drop to the wet platform and give him push-ups until he can’t push himself up anymore. “I make it fun,” he said later. “I’ve been in the Coast Guard a lot of these guys’ whole life.”

The only thing that makes his job difficult is “guys who don’t want to be here,” men who hate to work the gripe chains and sledgehammers. “Some guys aren’t into manual labor.” Pipech, on the other hand, bleeds blue. “This is the king’s work is what I call it. Every time I put on the blues is a good day,” he said.

From the Port Huron Times-Herald


Port Report - January 7

South Chicago - Brian Z.
On Saturday, Algoma's Agawa Canyon was unloading salt at the old Sifto Salt Works on the Calumet River. Unloading was completed in the early afternoon and the Agawa Canyon departed onto Lake Michigan headed to the north.


Updates - January 7

News Photo Gallery updated

Reserve Conversion Gallery updated

Lay Up List Updated


Today in Great Lakes History - January 07

On January 7, 1970, the e.) ONG, a.) REDHEAD of 1930, had her Canadian registry closed. The tanker had been sold for use as a water tender at Antigua in the Lesser Antilles and had departed Toronto on December 1, 1969. In 1970, ONG was renamed f.) WINDOC.

07 January 1974 - The EDMUND FITZGERALD (steel propeller bulk freighter, 711’, 13632 gt, built in 1958 at River Rouge, MI) lost her anchor in the Detroit River when it snagged on ice. It was raised in July 1992. The anchor is six feet tall and 12 feet wide and weighs 12,000 pounds. It now resides outside the Dossin Great Lakes Museum on Belle Isle in Detroit, Michigan.

Data from: Max Hanley, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series.

This is a small sample, the books includes many other vessels with a much more detailed history.


Lake ice seals in cement ships

1/6 - Milwaukee - Lafarge North America has roughly 39,000 tons of cement stockpiled at the Port of Milwaukee. Bruce Scott, Lafarge’s senior terminal manager at the port, hopes that stockpile lasts until March.

Every winter, the barges that carry cement to Milwaukee dock in a harbor and wait for the ice to thaw. Lafarge gets its shipments from Alpena, which is on Michigan’s eastern coast along Lake Huron, and the 30-hour trip requires that ships pass under the Mackinac Bridge and through the narrow strait separating northern Michigan from its Upper Peninsula.

Although the freeze came relatively late this year, there comes a point when the icebreakers can’t do the job, and the shipments must stop, Scott said. “I’ve seen them run as late as the end of January,” he said. “The real limiting factor is the straits and how much they ice up.”

One of the two barges Lafarge uses, the Integrity, is already docked at the Port of Milwaukee, and the Innovation will settle there in mid-January, Scott said. To ensure the cement supply lasts, both ships carry a full load of 1,500 tons for the final trip and Lafarge fills its terminal, which can handle 36,000 tons. “Typically,” Scott said, “it’ll last.”

The Port of Milwaukee received 421,015 metric tons of cement in 2006, a 21 percent increase over 2005’s numbers, said Betty Nowak, marketing manager for the port. The numbers were lower in 2007, with the port receiving 307,000 tons of cement through October, she said. Those figures include shipping for Lafarge and St. Marys Cement Inc., both of which lease property from the port.

Scott said the increased shipping in 2006 was due to the Marquette Interchange project, and he said he hoped numbers would go back up some big projects on the horizon. “We’re hopeful in (the north-south Inter-state 94 project),” he said, “and we’re hopeful the housing market rebounds a little.”

Lafarge receives about 60 cement shipments a year, but those deliveries don’t always require a full boatload. Since the Port of Milwaukee is deeper than other Lake Michigan ports, ships stop there first to drop off some cement and lighten their load before heading to shallower harbors, like the Waukegan Harbor in Illinois, Scott said.

The two-month winter break in port lets the ships’ owners, Andrie Transportation Group, Muskegon, Mich., do repairs so the ships can run nonstop when the weather breaks. “This year they’ve had some down time due to maintenance issues,” Scott said, “but the intent is to get her done during winter.”

Milwaukee-based Midwest Maritime is doing the repairs on the Integrity and Innovation this year. Tom Balistreri, president of Midwest Maritime, said he sends his employees out with the boats before the freeze to inspect them and see what work they need. His crew hasn’t been able to start work yet, but the Integrity will need a gearbox overhaul and some more routine maintenance.

“The thing just came in, so the crew is still on it taking this out,” said Balistreri, talking on Thursday from his cell phone while piloting a tug boat in the harbor.

Balistreri said each large ship needs at least $500,000 per year in maintenance work. He said the work keeps a couple dozen of his employees busy each winter, but there’s also a series of specialists coming in from manufacturers around the world to fix individual parts in the boats.

On top of the Integrity and Innovation, the Port of Milwaukee is waiting for two larger ships to come in for the winter. The 1,000-foot-long coal and ore barge Stewart J. Cort will arrive around Jan. 11, and the 1,000-foot Burns Harbor, which carries iron ore pellets, will show up a few days later.

Balistreri said there used to be more than four ships in Milwaukee, but the boats are bigger these days. “Years ago,” he said, “we used to pack them in here pretty lively.”

From the Daily Reporter


Port Reports - December 6

Menominee - Scott Best and Dick Lund
Saturday morning the Tug Victory and barge Lewis J Kuber arrived in Menominee for winter lay-up. The pair backed stern first up river through the Ogden St. Bridge past fleetmate Reserve which was docked  and K&K late early Saturday. The Victory and Kuber will tie up behind the Reserve, joining the Viking I and Manitowoc at the KK docks for the winter.

Twin Ports - Al Miller
The backlog of vessels at Duluth and Superior was cleared up by midday Saturday. Shortly before noon, CLS Tadoussac was in the turning basin off the end of the CN/DMIR ore docks turning in to load. Canadian Enterprise was out on the lake, disappearing into the haze.

Buffalo - Brian Wroblewski
The Rt. Hon. Paul Martin departed Gateway Metroport in Lackawanna at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.


Cargill sells Duluth elevator to hedge fund

1/6 - Duluth - Cargill Inc. has agreed to sell its Duluth elevator to a Minneapolis-based family of hedge funds called Whitebox Advisors LLC.

David Feider, a Cargill spokesman, said Friday his company has signed a purchase agreement pledging to sell the waterfront facility to W. B. Duluth Storage LLC, a subsidiary of Whitebox. The deal is expected to close Jan. 31. Feider declined to disclose financial terms of the pending sale.

The 10.85 million-bushel elevator was built by Cargill in 1978 and employs 15 people. Feider said he did not know what will become of those workers, suggesting the question be put instead to Whitebox. John Stich, a Whitebox representative involved in the acquisition, did not respond to messages left at his office Friday afternoon.

Feider said Cargill still will maintain a presence in the port as owner/operator of Rogers Terminal & Shipping Corp., a stevedoring firm which employs 28 people in Duluth.

Cargill has deep roots in the Twin Ports, having built its first elevator on the Superior side of the harbor in 1893. The company proceeded to buy up additional elevators before consolidating its operations at a new state-of-the-art Duluth facility in 1978. The elevator was the first in the port capable of handling 110-car unit trains.

“It’s a first-class facility that probably could compete with just about anything else operating in the U.S. today,” said Chuck Hilleren, president of Guthrie-Hubner Inc., a Duluth ship agent. He said the elevator can handle about 3,000 tons of grain per hour, making it the most efficient facility in the port. “Without a doubt, it’s the most modern elevator in this port,” Hilleren said

“The Cargill facility is an integral part of the terminal-elevator structure we have here in Duluth-Superior,” said Ron Johnson, trade development director for the Duluth Seaway Port Authority. “In its heyday, it handled a lot of grain, but the markets have changed, and it’s not as big a player as it used to be,” Johnson said. “That capacity is still there.”

In recent years, Anheuser-Busch has leased much of the terminal’s capacity to store malting barley and oats. Hilleren estimates 70 percent to 75 percent of the elevator’s capacity has been dedicated to the needs of the beer-maker, whose grains typically are shipped via truck or train, not by water. This commitment to Anheuser-Busch has limited Cargill’s ability to participate in the grain export market. Twin Ports elevators operated by CHS, General Mills and AGP all have exported more grain than Cargill during recent shipping seasons.

If the pending sale frees up additional capacity, the former Cargill facility could see more traffic from salties — ocean-going ships — in the future, Hilleren said. “This sale may turn out to be a positive development,” he said. “I fully expect these investors are looking at this as a financial opportunity, and they intend to operate the facility to the fullest possible extent.”

Although hedge funds often play commodity futures markets, it’s a bit unusual for a firm to own actual grain-handling facilities. Still, Whitebox made that leap to begin physically handling grain in February, when it bought two elevators from ConAgra: one in Minneapolis and another in Shakopee. The $3.1 billion family of funds has holdings in a variety of industries. In October 1996, it partnered with Petters Group Worldwide to purchase Sun Country Airlines.

From the Duluth News-Tribune


Updates - January 6

News Photo Gallery updated

Reserve Conversion Gallery updated

Lay Up List Updated


Today in Great Lakes History - January 06

While under tow heading for scrap, the HARRY R JONES went aground at Androsan, Scotland on January 6, 1961, and it wasn't until February 15, that she arrived at her final port of Troon, Scotland.

January 6, 1999 - The Dow Chemical plant in Ludington, Michigan announced a plan to close their lime plant, eliminating the need for Great Lakes freighters to deliver limestone.

In 1973, the JOSEPH H THOMPSON ran aground at Escanaba, Michigan after departing that port.

Data from: Max Hanley, Brian Bernard, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series.

This is a small sample, the books includes many other vessels with a much more detailed history.


Reserve tow reaches Menominee

1/5 - Menominee - The tow of the barge Reserve from Sturgeon Bay, WI to Menominee, MI was completed after over 8 grueling hours out on the bay of Green Bay on Friday. The tow departed Sturgeon Bay around 2 p.m.

The ship was stopped in the bay of Green Bay off Red Arrow Park in Marinette around 6 p.m. as one of the three Selvick tugs that assisted the tow came into the Menominee River to break ice up-river from the Ogden Street Bridge to KK Integrated Logistics docks.

The tow reached the channel off Menominee North Pier Lighthouse around 7 p.m. and waited 3 - 1/2 hours before passing through the bridge and almost another hour before they were at the dock.

Coming into the river stern-first meant that the notch acted as a "catch-all" for the broken-up ice. The Selvick tugs, Jimmy L, Susan L, and William C. Selvick, were in attendance. The barge is coming back from Bay Shipbuilding, where work on the notch was completed.

Reported by Dick Lund


Cargo Causes Concern in New Brunswick

1/5 - Saint John, NB - Petroleum coke unloaded in Saint John for use at the Coleson Cove Generator power station appears to have been exposed to wind while being transferred into a storage facility.

The Atlantic Erie arrived in port on Jan. 1 and spent two days unloading the first shipment of the chunks of solidified petroleum. An environmental screening previously done on the project required the petroleum coke to be dumped through roof hatches by an elephant chute lowered down into a specially designed storage facility.

The concern with unloading it at the port inside city limits has always been the possibility of petroleum dust escaping during unloading and polluting the local environment.  Footage of the operation by CBC News shows the fuel dropping from a conveyer belt hanging above the roof hatch of the storage facility. Capt. Al Soppit of the Port of Saint John told CBC News Thursday he was unaware petroleum coke had been exposed to the elements during unloading and he would be reviewing the situation.

NB Power is testing petroleum coke as an alternative to burning much more expensive Bunker C oil. If the tests are favourable at Coleson Cove, the utility has said it could convert up to three units at the plant to burn the fuel with a projected savings of approximately $30 million per year. An environmental assessment of the petroleum coke project required it to be dropped through covered conveyer belt through roof hatches. An environmental assessment of the petroleum coke project required it to be dropped through covered conveyer belt through roof hatches.

The power company received permission from the province in April to burn petroleum coke mixed with heavy oil as a pilot project at its giant thermal generating station located about 10 kilometres west of Saint John. Petroleum coke is a solid derived from processes at oil refineries and can be burned like coal.

Reported by Paul Beesley from CBC News


Port Reports - January 5, 2008

Marquette - Rod Burdick and Lee Rowe
Thursday night the Charles M Beeghly delivered coal, then loaded ore. The Kaye E Barker came in later to also load ore, after waiting in the harbor for another ship to depart. On Thursday, Michipicoten and Wolverine were anchored out waiting to load.
While the Kaye E Barker loaded, the Charles M Beeghly finished her load and left Friday afternoon. The Michipicoten, which had been anchored for a day in the harbor, took the Beeghly's place. She was followed to the dock by the Wolverine, which tied up behind the Michipicoten. The Wolverine was to move to the north side of the dock to replace the Barker once she finished her load. Ships are being loaded directly from trains, which takes longer than loading from full pockets.

Clarkson - Eric Holmes
The James Norris continues to make trips between Colborne and Clarkson (St. Lawrence Cement), arriving Friday morning at 10:30 a.m. to unload stone.

Twin Ports - Al Miller
Duluth looked like the doctor’s waiting room Friday morning as vessels lined up to load at Midwest Energy Terminal and the CN/DMIR ore docks. About sunrise, a vessel that appeared to be Algowood was just leaving Midwest Energy Terminal outbound at the Blatnik Bridge.
Two vessels docked at the Duluth port terminal – they appeared to be Canadian Enterprise and Walter J. McCarthy Jr. – were next in line for the coal dock.
Vessels have been anchoring off Duluth for the past few days as they wait to load. Two vessels were out there Friday at sunrise – probably Halifax waiting for the ore dock and John D. Leitch. Several more vessels were due later in the day.

Buffalo - Brian Wroblewski
At 10 a.m. Friday, the Rt. Hon. Paul R. Martin was docked stern first about half way down on the East pier face of the Bethlehem Slip with the unloading boom swung 90 degrees over the starboard side and raised high in the air between two fresh coal piles. Gateway's two portable loading rigs were positioned alongside with one amidships and the other up forward. The flood lights of the amidships loader were turned on and the ship was riding slightly high by the bow. It appeared that there may have been a problem either unloading the cargo or the dock was having trouble reloading her at the time.

Alpena - Ben & Chanda McClain
The Alpena left the old dock and loaded cement under the silos on Wednesday. It was outbound in the bay around 5:30 p.m. and will be making stops at Milwaukee and South Chicago. Thursday night the tug Samuel de Champlain and  barge Innovation arrived at Lafarge to take on cargo for Cleveland.

Goderich - Dave Cooper
Algosteel and Algomarine were both in the harbour at 11 p.m. on Friday. Algosteel was loading salt at Sifto first. Canadian Transfer laid up for the winter in the harbor.


Retired Navy ship one step closer to berth in Sheboygan

1/5 - Sheboygan, WI - A veterans group seeking to permanently berth the USS Edson in Sheboygan took a significant step forward this week, submitting an extensive application for the 418-foot retired warship just ahead of a U.S. Navy deadline.

The Wisconsin Naval Ship Association announced Thursday night that a 436-page application had been submitted to bring the ship to Sheboygan’s South Pier as a museum, education center, veterans’ memorial and tourist attraction. “A major milestone has been achieved,” said WINSA President Dick Caswell, a retired Navy Reserve captain, said in a press release. “Efforts will now concentrate on raising the required funds.”

Caswell said WINSA expects it will cost $5.4 million to bring the ship to Sheboygan, less than the original estimate of $8.5 million. A consultant hired last summer to oversee the application provided the lower estimate, he said.

The Navy announced in May that any interested groups must submit an application for the Edson by Jan. 3. WINSA is competing for the ship with a veterans group from Bay City, Mich. WINSA and the City of Sheboygan signed a contingent lease for berthing the ship in December 2006, with plans calling for the vessel to occupy a notch built into the base of South Pier. The lease is contingent on the group conducting a feasibility study — since completed — as well as raising the necessary funds and obtaining other government approvals.

The group projects the USS Edson will provide $7 million in tourism revenue annually, an estimate it says is based on the Wisconsin Department of Tourism’s spending estimates for day trippers and overnight visitors. “The beauty of this major economic benefit for Sheboygan is that it will be accomplished at no cost or risk to the city or county,” said Chad Sorce, WINSA museum director.

The ship has been on donation hold in Philadelphia since June 2004, having been displayed for 15 years before that at the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum in New York City.

The application includes sections that deal with the ship’s mooring system, maintenance, museum development and financial goals and projections. The business, marketing and educational plans that WINSA completed helped lay the groundwork for the application, Caswell said.

From the Green Bay Press-Gazette


Updates - January 5

News Photo Gallery updated

Reserve Conversion Gallery updated

Lay Up List Updated


Today in Great Lakes History - January 05

The keel was laid January 5, 1972, for the ALGOWAY (Hull#200) at Collingwood, Ontario by Collingwood Shipyards, Ltd.

The wooden tug A J WRIGHT caught fire on 5 January 1893, while laid up at Grand Haven, Michigan. She burned to the water's edge. Her loss was valued at $20,000. She was owned by C. D. Thompson.

In 1970, the PETER REISS broke her tail shaft while backing in heavy ice at the mouth of the Detroit River.

On January 5, 1976, Halco's tanker CHEMICAL TRANSPORT cleared Thunder Bay, Ontario closing that port for the season.

Data from: Joe Barr, Brian Bernard Father Dowling Collection, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series.

This is a small sample, the books includes many other vessels with a much more detailed history.


Reserve Departs Bay Ship

1/4 - Sturgeon Bay - The Reserve departed Bayship Building at 2 p.m. Friday under tow.  The hull will be towed back to the KK Integrated Logistics dock in Menominee, MI where crews will complete the conversion to a barge.  The tug William C. Selvick is on the bow, Susan L. on the stern with the Jimmy L breaking ice.

The hull was dry docked on December 19 to remove the remains of the stern, inside and aft of notch. Once the conversion is completed, the new barge will be renamed James J. Kuber and paired with the tug Victory. The maiden voyage of the barge is expected to take place at the end of March.

Reported by Scott Tomlinson


Dredging Crisis Makes U.S.-Flag 1,000-Footers Only 900 Feet Long

1/4 - Cleveland — The continued inability to carry full loads, coupled with significant weather-related delays, produced an 8.5 percent decrease in U.S.-Flag cargo movement on the Great Lakes in November. U.S.-Flag Lakers were able to deliver only 9.7 million net tons of cargo during the month.

The impacts of the dredging crisis were readily apparent. Not one iron ore or coal cargo topped 63,000 tons, yet 1,000-foot-long U.S.-Flag Lakers have carried more than 72,000 tons in one trip when high water levels offset inadequate dredging. The top loads in November then represented less than 90 percent of the vessels’ capability.

Moreover, the 9,000-plus tons being left behind are roughly equal to the capacity of one cargo hold on vessels this size, so in practical terms, the dredging crisis has shrunk their length to 900 feet.

Through November, U.S.-Flag carriage stands at 94.6 million tons, a decrease of 5.1 percent from the same point in 2006, and nearly 1 million tons behind the 5-year average for the January-November timeframe.

More information is available at

Source: Lake Carriers’ Association.


Port Reports - January 4

Grand Haven - Dick Fox
The barge St. Mary's Conquest and tug Susan W. Hannah delivered a load of cement to the St. Mary's Terminal in Ferrysburg Thursday. It was expected to stay for eight hours. Current high winds may delay its departure.

Marquette - Rod Burdick
On a cold and blustery Thursday afternoon four vessels were at the Upper Harbor. Charles M. Beeghly finished unloading coal and prepared to load ore.
Herbert C. Jackson loaded ore.
Kaye E. Barker and Michipicoten were anchored off the Upper Harbor waiting to load ore.


Update on Lake Superior Outflow

1/4 - Detroit - The International Lake Superior Board of Control, under authority granted to it by the International Joint Commission, has set the Lake Superior outflow to 1,730 cubic metres per second (m3/s) (61.1 thousand cubic feet per second (tcfs)) for the month January. This is the outflow recommended by the regulation plan for the month of January and is an increase from the December outflow, which was 1,650 m3/s (58.3 tcfs).

The January outflow will be released by discharging about 1,624 m3/s (57.4 tcfs) through the three hydropower plants and passing most of the remaining flow through the control structure at the head of the St. Marys rapids. The gate setting of the control structure will be maintained at the existing setting equivalent to one-half gate open (four gates open 20 cm, or about 8 inches each). There will be no change to the setting of Gate #1 that supplies the Fishery Remedial Works.

This past month the water supply to the Lake Superior basin was above its long-term average for December, while the supply to the Lakes Michigan-Huron basin was near average. Lake Superior is currently 10 cm (4 inches) below its chart datum level. The level of Lake Superior is expected to fall slightly in January.

Currently, the Lake Superior level is about 28 cm (11 inches) below its long-term average beginning-of-January level, and 14 cm (6 inches) above the level recorded a year ago. This past month the level of Lake Superior fell 6 cm (2 inches), while on average the level falls by 7 cm (3 inches) in December.

The level of Lakes Michigan-Huron declined by 5 cm (2 inches) this December, while on average these lakes decline by 4 cm (2 inches) in December. The level of Lakes Michigan-Huron is now about 67 cm (26 inches) below its longterm average beginning-of-January level, and is 33 cm (13 inches) lower than it was a year ago, and 34 cm (13 inches) below chart datum.

The Board continues to monitor conditions both on Lake Superior and downstream and will advise the International Joint Commission accordingly on those conditions.

For more information click here or visit this link

US Army Corps of Engineers News Release


Dick Moehl Named Founding Director Emeritus of DRLPS
DRLPS Elects Officers for 2008

1/4 - Drummond Island, MI - At the December meeting of the Board of Directors of the DeTour Reef Light Preservation Society (DRLPS), Richard (Dick) L. Moehl was unanimously named Founding Director Emeritus. Officers for 2008 were also elected.

Dick is a well known lighthouse preservationist. In August 1997, when he was made aware of the U.S. Coast Guard’s excessing of the DeTour Reef Light, he contacted Bob Jones and Jim Charles of DeTour Village. Together they took a boat ride out to the lighthouse to investigate its condition. This boat ride was the inspiration for the community to come together for a common cause to save the DeTour Reef Light. In January 1998, the DeTour Reef Light Preservation Society was formed as a nonprofit 501(c)(3) volunteer organization to restore and preserve the lighthouse.

Dick has served as an interface with the national lighthouse community. He is a member of the original DRLPS Board of Directors and has been an integral part of the Society’s successes for the past 10 years. He has been President of the Great Lakes Lighthouse Keepers Association (GLLKA) since 1985, and the project manager for restoration of St. Helena Island Light Station since 1986. He is a staunch advocate of preserving lighthouses, and has testified before a number of Federal House and Senate hearings regarding the transfer process of the nations’ lighthouses. These hearings resulted in the passing of the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act.

In 2000, Dick was presented with the Governor George Romney Lifetime Achievement Award, one of Michigan's most prestigious volunteer recognition events.

In 2007, the American Lighthouse Coordinating Committee (ALCC) selected Dick to receive the Holland Award, to recognize his truly exceptional contributions. The Holland Award is the major national honor bestowed by the lighthouse preservation community. Dick is also a past president of the ALCC.

Officers elected by the DRLPS Board of Directors include: Russ Norris, President; David Bardsley, Vice-President; Glenn Lahti, Secretary, and Chuck Feltner, Treasurer. Ann Method Green, Public Relations Chair, was elected by the board to fill Dick Moehl’s vacated directorship.

The DeTour Reef Light Preservation Society (DRLPS) has worked diligently since 1998 to restore and preserve the 1931 DeTour Reef Light located one mile offshore in northern Lake Huron at the far eastern end of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula between DeTour Village and Drummond Island.

The DRLPS is preparing a gala celebration to mark their 10 years of restoration and preservation efforts. The celebration will be held at the Easter Upper Peninsula Fine Arts Center in DeTour Village, MI, on August 30, 2008. To learn more  visit

DRLPS News Release


Updates - January 4

News Photo Gallery updated

Lay Up List Updated


Today in Great Lakes History - January 4

On January 4, 1978, the IRVING S OLDS was involved in a collision with the steamer ARMCO while convoying in heavy ice in the Livingstone Channel of the lower Detroit River. The OLDS hit a flow of heavy ice, came to a complete stop and the ARMCO, unable to stop, hit the OLDS' stern.

In 1952, the car ferry SPARTAN (Hull#369) was launched at Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin by Christy Corp.

Data from: Max Hanley, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series. This is a small sample, the books includes many other vessels with a much more detailed history


Reserve Removed from Dry Dock

1/3 - Sturgeon Bay - 2:30 p.m. Update: The Reserve was removed from the dry dock at Bayship Building about 6 a.m. Thursday morning and tied up at Berth 15 to wait out high winds. The tow back to Menominee could take place on Saturday depending on weather.

Original Report:
The Reserve is expected to be removed from the dry dock at Bay Shipbuilding early Thursday morning. Once clear of the dry dock the hull will be towed back to the KK Integrated Logistics dock in Menominee, MI where crews will complete the conversion to a barge. The hull could leave the ship yard as early as 6 a.m. Thursday, ice conditions may delay her departure.

The hull was dry docked on December 19 to remove the remains of the stern, inside and aft of notch. Once the conversion is completed, the new barge will be renamed James J. Kuber and paired with the tug Victory. The maiden voyage of the barge is expected to take place at the end of March.

Tug Victory is currently pushing fleet mate Lewis J. Kuber. Next season the Lewis J. will be pushed by the tug Olive L. Moore, which is currently under going upgrades to its reduction gear.

Reported by Scott Tomlinson


Port Reports - December 3

Port Colborne -
Algosoo arrived Tuesday evening and backed into the harbour at sunrise Wednesday morning, apparently to lay up.
Windoc has been ballasted down at the bow apparently to allow cutting work to continue on the stern. The move appears to be in preparation of conversion to a notch for a tug, as she has been moved out of the scrapping berth to Wharf 17.

Milwaukee - John N. Vogel
Lower Lakes' Manistee was at the bulk dock in the outer harbor about noon on Wednesday.

Twin Ports - Al Miller
CSL Niagara, sporting its bright red and green Christmas lights, came to a stop off Duluth early Wednesday to wait for another vessel to depart through the Duluth ship canal. After that, the CSL Niagara proceed to the CN/DMIR ore docks to load. Elsewhere, Paul R. Tregurtha was loading at Midwest Energy Terminal. James R. Barker and Frontenac were both expected later in the day to load at CN/DMIR. Edwin H. Gott spent part of New Year’s Day at anchor off Duluth waiting for an opportunity to load at the CN/DMIR ore dock in Two Harbors. It was in line behind the Lee A. Tregurtha and the Arthur M. Anderson, which was expecting a slow 15-hour load.


Few Lakers still trading outside the St. Lawrence Seaway

1/3 - As of Wednesday, a few lakers are still trading outside of the Great Lakes and seaway system.

Canadian Miner in Quebec City section #52 loading sugar. Spruceglen and Birchglen will be running deep sea most of the winter under Canadian Flag.

Algoport and Sauniere are still active in the salt water trade. Algontario is running between Port Cartier and Contrecoeur for part of January.

All tankers of Desgagnes, Algoma and Rigel are still trading. First one to lay up should normally be Thalassa Desgagnes in Quebec City.

Reported by Bruno Boissonneault


Winners selected in book cover photo contest

1/3 - Avery Color Studios has announced that there are two winners in the contest held last month for the cover photos of Great Lakes author Wes Oleszewski's next book.

The winners are: Terry Charbeneau with his American Valor at Sunset shot and Shelley Vickers with her Atlantic Erie just off of Anticosti Island storm shot.

After sifting through scores of terrific photos submitted by the BoatNerd.Com readers, the author and the publishers narrowed it down to two. Avery Color Studios, the publisher, decided that both images would reside on the cover of Wes' 13th book "Shipwrecks and Rescues- Forgotten Great Lakes History" which will be released in the spring of 2008.


Today in Great Lakes History - January 03

In 1939, the CHIEF WAWATAM ran aground on the shoals of the north shore near St. Ignace, Michigan.

On Jan 3, 1971, BEN W CALVIN ran aground at the mouth of the Detroit River after becoming caught in a moving ice field.

In 1972, the TADOUSSAC clears Thunder Bay, Ontario for Hamilton with 24,085 tons of iron ore, closing that port for the season.

03 January 2003 - For the second year in a row the tanker GEMINI (steel propeller tanker, 420’, 5853 gt, built in 1978 at Orange, Texas) was the first vessel of the year in Manistee, Michigan. She headed to the General Chemical dock to load 8,000 tons of brine for Amherstburg, Ontario. The vessel arrived at Manistee in 2002 on January first, and Captain Riley Messer was presented a hackberry cane, crafted by local resident Ken Jilbert. A similar cane was presented to the vessel Saturday morning.

Data from: Joe Barr, Brian Bernard , Dave Swayze, Max Hanley, Mike Nicholls, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series. Marine Historical Society of Detroit.

This is a small sample, the books includes many other vessels with a much more detailed history.


Saginaw River 2007 Shipping Season Report

Another year of commercial shipping is in the books, and 2007 has been a notable year for a number of reasons. Most notably was the effect the economy played on the number of cargos delivered to the various docks situated along the Saginaw River. Once again, the depth of the navigation channel was also news as the new dredging spoils site under construction along the river at the Bay County – Saginaw County line has yet to be opened to material dredged from the upper river. The year also saw some unique visitors to the Saginaw River, as well as many of her regular visitors, and sadly a regular who has been sent to the scrap yard, her career on the Great Lakes over.

It would be hard to argue that the current state of the economy in Michigan did not play a role in a greatly decreased number of vessel passages in 2007. Passages on the Saginaw River were down by 61 over 2006. If you go back to 2005 that number increases to 88 fewer passages. This adds up to a lot of tonnage. The most frequent visitor to the Saginaw River this year was also the most frequent in 2006, the Lewis J. Kuber with 33 visits. Of those, she was pushed by the tug Olive L. Moore 22 times, and when the Moore went in for repairs partway through the season, the tug Victory picked up the other 11 trips. This is up from 24 visits last season. The next three vessels with the most trips were the CSL Tadoussac with 20 trips and a tie at 18 between the Maumee and her fleet mate, Calumet. Looking at this from the perspective of fleets, Lower Lakes Towing – Grand River Navigation was tops logging 69 visits. They were also the leader in 2006, but had a decrease of four this year from last. Next was American Steamship Company with 51, an increase of 12 over last year, and followed by K&K Integrated Shipping with 33 trips, nine more than last season.

Two dredging projects took place on the Saginaw River in 2007. MCM Marine was contracted to work on the navigation channel from the Front Range out to the Confined Disposal Island, while Luedtke Engineering was tasked with hitting trouble spots from Veterans Memorial Bridge down to the U.S. Coast Guard Station in Essexville. Both of these projects were located in the lower river with the spoils taken to the disposal island out in the Saginaw Bay. Dredging was supposed to have started this fall on the upper river, where the water depths are reaching dangerously shallow levels, but construction and legal issues have prevented the newly constructed confined disposal facility, located upriver, from beginning operation. It is predicted that early 2008 will mark the start of the badly needed dredging of the upper Saginaw River.

There were a few surprise visitors to the Saginaw River in 2007. Interlake Steamship’s Lee A. Tregurtha is the first to come to mind. The Tregurtha has not visited the Saginaw River in recent memory, but made 5 trips this year, delivering coal to the Consumers Energy dock in Essexville. Canada Steamship Lines vessel, Nanticoke, had one visit, calling on the Essroc dock, American Steamship’s American Century made her first visits under her new ownership and name, and the Lower Lakes vessel, Michipicoten, made her first visit to the Saginaw River. The David Z made her return to the Saginaw River after no trips here in 2006. Other surprise visitors were the tugs Shenandoah and Mary Page Hannah. A big surprise was the absence of the Saginaw to her namesake river. Also missed in 2007 were the Frontenac, J.A.W. Iglehart, Herbert C. Jackson, Canadian Transfer, G. L. Ostrander/Integrity, Samuel de Champlain/Innovation, and the tug Cleveland-barge Cleveland Rocks, all who were visitors in 2006.

On a sad note, we will no longer see the vessel, Calumet, along the Saginaw River. With 18 trips again in 2007, she was consistently one of the most frequent visitors to the river since her purchase by Lower Lakes and name change from the Myron C. Taylor, a number of years back.

Looking at the docks along the Saginaw River the big story here would be the Consumers Energy dock in Essexville. Consumers was by far the leading dock with 46 deliveries. This is up from 9 in 2006. That is a whopping 37 more cargos this year and still more that both 2005 and 2006 combined. The Wirt Stone dock in Bay City was next with 37, Saginaw Wirt with 33, and Bay Aggregates with 30. A big story would also be the Lafarge Cement plant in Carrollton only receiving two cargos, both by the Alpena. Lafarge had 10 cargos in 2006 ad 21 in 2005. Other noteworthy items would be the Ashland-Marathon dock having no vessels call in 2007 and the sale of the Triple Clean Liquifuels dock in Essexville to SEM Materials.

A few other notes. The USCG Cutter Hollyhock made four trips to the Saginaw River in 2007. The last of which had her working aids to navigation up to the end of the river navigation channel. This was the Hollyhock’s first ever trip up through the Bay City bridges and upriver. The USCG Cutter Neah Bay also visited at the start of the season to break up the ice in the Saginaw Bay. The Navel Cadet Training Ship Grey Fox called on the Saginaw River in July, giving tours during the 4th of July holiday weekend, and the local tug Gregory J. Busch spent a large part of the season tied up at her dock in Carrollton.

Reported by Todd Shorkey


Port Reports - January 2

Toronto - Charlie Gibbons
Earlier this week the Canadian Miner arrived at Pier 51 with a storage load of sugar. English River is in at the Lafarge dock. The barge ATL 2701 (ex-Irving Whale) was unloaded and was shifted to Pier 35, where it will likely spend the winter. Tug Wyatt M. has returned to Hamilton. Stephen B. Roman arrived on Sunday and departed again Monday.

Marinette - Dick Lund
The Pineglen arrived at Marinette Fuel & Dock Co. with a load of pig iron on New Year's Eve, about one hour before New year's Day. This is believed to be a first-ever trip for this ship to Marinette. The Erika Kobasic came in on New Year's Eve to break up an ice-covered inner harbor prior to the arrival of the Pineglen and then assisted the ship into port.

Alpena - Ben & Chanda McClain
The Alpena returned from Green Bay, WI on Sunday night and remained tied up at the old dock. On Tuesday a tug and barge, possibly the Joseph H. Thompson was anchored in the bay, likely waiting out the weather.


Updates - January 2

News Photo Gallery updated

Holiday Card Gallery

Lay Up List Updated


Today in Great Lakes History - January 01
Compiled by Mike Nicholls

On this day in 1958, Seventy-six year old Rangvald Gunderson retired as wheelsman from the ELTON HOYT 2ND. Mr. Gunderson sailed on the lakes for 60 years.

On January 1, 1973, the PAUL H CARNAHAN became the last vessel of the 1972, shipping season to load at the Burlington Northern (now Burlington Northern Santa Fe) ore docks in Superior, Wisconsin. Interestingly, the CARNAHAN also opened the Superior docks for the season in the spring of 1972.

On 1 January 1930, HELEN TAYLOR (wooden propeller steam barge, 56 foot, 43 gross tons, built in 1894, at Grand Haven, Michigan) foundered eight miles off Michigan City, Indiana. She was nicknamed "Pumpkin Seed" due to her odd shape.

January 1, 1900 - The Flint & Pere Marquette Railroad merged with the Chicago & West Michigan and the Detroit, Grand Rapids and Western Railroads to form the Pere Marquette Railway Co.

On 1 January 1937, MAROLD II (steel propeller, 129 foot, 165 gross tons, built in 1911, at Camden, New Jersey as a yacht) was siphoning gasoline off the stranded tanker J OSWALD BOYD (244 foot, 1,806 gross tons , built in 1913, in Scotland) which was loaded with 900,000 gallons of gasoline and was stranded on Simmons Reef on the north side of Beaver Island. A tremendous explosion occurred which totally destroyed MAROLD II and all five of her crew. Only pieces of MAROLD II were found. Her captain's body washed ashore in Green Bay the next year. At time of loss, she was the local Beaver Island boat. The remains of the BOYD were removed to Sault Ste. Marie in June 1937.

Data from: Joe Barr, Dave Swayze, Russ Plumb, Father Dowling Collection, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series. Marine Historical Society of Detroit. This is a small sample, the books includes many other vessels with a much more detailed history.


Today in Great Lakes History - January 02

While on the North Atlantic under tow for scrapping, the ASHLAND parted her towline but was tracked by U.S. Coast Guard aircraft and was retrieved by her tug on January 2nd, 1988, some 300 miles off course.

The 3-mast wooden schooner M J CUMMINGS was launched at the shipyard of Goble & Mac Farlane in Oswego, New York. Her owners were Mrs. Goble & Mac Farlane, Daniel Lyons and E. Caulfield. Her dimensions were 142 foot 6 inches X 25 foot 2 inches X 11 foot 6 inches, 325 tons and she cost $28,000.

January 2, 1925 - The ANN ARBOR NO 7 (Hull#214) was launched at Manitowoc, Wisconsin by Manitowoc Shipbuilding Corp. She was sponsored by Jane Reynolds, daughter of R. H. Reynolds, marine superintendent of the railroad. Renamed b.) VIKING in 1983.

Data from: Joe Barr, Dave Swayze, Father Dowling Collection, Max Hanley, Jody Aho, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series.This is a small sample, the books includes many other vessels with a much more detailed history.Please e-mail if you would like to contribute a significant event in Great Lakes history.


Port Reports - January 1

Hamilton - Eric Holmes
The Canadian Navigator arrived in Hamilton Monday morning at 6 a.m. for winter lay up at Pier 26S. James Norris continues to make trips between Colborne and Clarkson (St. Lawrence Cement).

Goderich - Dale Baechler
New Years morning the Canadian Transfer was turning in the inner harbour, then going to lay up on the northeast wall. Agawa Canyon was waiting at the new harbour dock then will head over to the Sifto Salt dock to load

Owen Sound - Peter Bowers
Hourly radio reports have been warning people to keep off the ice at Owen Sound Tuesday as the icebreaker will be breaking ice to allow ships to get in. However, as far as you can see in the bay there is no sign of ice and the harbour, except for a bit of ice south of the cement silos.


Updates - January 1

News Photo Gallery updated

Holiday Card Gallery

Lay Up List Updated


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