Great Lakes & Seaway Shipping News Archive

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Port Reports - January 31

Goderich, Ont. - Jacob Smith
Canadian Progress finished loading salt and departed for Chicago late Saturday morning.

St. Clair River
Ice has again filled the lower St. Clair River around Algonac, Mich. This is lighter river ice, about one to to one and a half inches thick. It has stopped moving at North Algonac south of Locust Point, but is still moving in large chunks at the Algonac State Park. The Harsen’s Island ferry had managed to keep running as of 11 a.m. Saturday morning, but the Walpole ferry stopped after operating for only a little over a day.


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.


Market demand prompts Mittal to fire up furnace at Indiana Harbor

1/30 - ArcelorMittal is planning to restart a blast furnace and steel- producing operation at Indiana Harbor Works in East Chicago, company and union officials confirmed Thursday.

The steelmaker is bringing back online the No. 4 blast furnace and No. 3 steel-producing shop. The company said in a statement the restarts are in response to improving market demand. Neither the company or union disclosed a timeline for the project or number of employees who would be rehired.

Calling the restart "good news," Tom Tyrka, president of United Steelworkers Local 1011, said the company notified him last week of its intentions. "It's good news for our people and it's good news for our future," Tyrka said. The union is in the process of reaching employees who worked in that part of Indiana Harbor because some may have left the company or started working in other production areas, he said.

ArcelorMittal indicated it wanted to idle iron-making operations on the west side of Indiana Harbor in May because of a lack of demand in an "extraordinary economic environment." At the time, Tyrka said about 750 employees would be affected by the idling of the No. 4 blast furnace. Local 1011 represents a portion of production and maintenance employees at Indiana Harbor.

ArcelorMittal isn't the only steelmaker to ramp up raw steel production capacity. New York-based steel analyst Charles Bradford said companies such as United States Steel Corp. and OAO Severstal are also bringing back capacity this year.

Raw steel capacity utilization for U.S. steel mills was estimated to be 65.6 percent during the week ending Jan. 23, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute. Last week's production level is up more than 50 percent from the same time in 2009.

Although there is marked improvement, Bradford said he's worried because a few of the steelmakers to report their earnings already gave less-than-stellar outlooks for 2010. "(ArcelorMittal) were the first to shut down things and they're being a bit more conservative to where the market is going to go," Bradford said.

Bradford also anticipates domestic competition to increase when ThyssenKrupp's steel and stainless steel processing facility in Alabama opens in the second quarter.

ArcelorMittal will release its fourth-quarter earnings and full-year results Feb. 10.


Port Reports - January 30

Sturgeon Bay, Wis. - Wendell Wilke
Joseph L. Block entered the Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal around 9 a.m. heading for layup at Bay Shipbuilding.

Owen Sound – Mike and Ian McFaul
Algosteel arrived in port on Thursday amidst a raging snow squall. She anchored in the outer bay until the wind dropped. As of Friday morning she was being tied up bow to bow with Canadian Transfer.

St. Clair River
Thursday the river was mostly clear of ice around Algonac with the North Channel clear below the Harsens Island ferry. The Walpole Island ferry was operating. Friday morning river ice was drifting down the river. At 9 a.m. the Walpole ferry was still operating through the thin river ice, but this may soon change.

Buffalo, N.Y. - Brian Wroblewski
Some minor ice jam flooding occurred in South Buffalo Wednesday due to a snap thaw and heavy rains. The level of Cazenovia Creek rose up high enough for ice to hit the under frame of the Stevenson Street Bridge. Heavy floes clogged the confluence of the Buffalo River and Caz Creek, sending broken ice as far down as the South Park Avenue Lift Bridge. The leading edge of this flow stopped between South Park and the old DL&W Rail Road’s Buffalo River drawbridge abutments to refreeze over the next week into a solid mass of thick ice chunks. A massive amount of ice will be flowing downriver when spring rolls around and the fire tug Cotter heads up to break it out.


Sifto Salt laying off 80 people at its salt mine in Goderich, Ont.

1/30 - Goderich, Ont. - The Sifto Salt mine in Goderich, Ont., is laying off about 80 people. Communications manager Kelly Barton says several factors led to the move, including the mild winter and lack of storage.

Sifto is also reducing its operations from seven days a week to five. Barton says the layoff is temporary, and most of the laid off employees will be called back in the second quarter of the year.

The Sifto mine employs about 400 people and ships salt by freighter.

The Canadian Press


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.


Harsen's Island ferry reopened to traffic

1/29 - The Harsen's Island ferry reopened Wednesday morning. The ferry had been closed since early Monday when Coast Guard ice cutters moved into the area to break up substantial ice jams. The ferry's status is subject to change based upon ice conditions in the St. Clair River, authorities stated.

New Baltimore Voice Newspapers


Port Reports - January 29

Halifax, N.S. - Mac Mackay
Spruceglen arrived in Halifax late Thursday morning and sailed at 9 p.m. She anchored in Bedford Basin with the tug Atlantic Spruce standing by at all times (the ship did not have use of its main engine.) She also refueled from Algoma Dartmouth. Spruceglen is on a voyage from Port Cartier to New Orleans. Atlantic Huron is in winter layup at pier 25-26, but there is activity on board. A tank cleaning truck was observed this morning at the after end of the ship and a boom truck was landing material forward this afternoon.


Parks Canada continues Superior project

1/29 - Thunder Bay, Ont. – Parks Canada is mapping out a marine conservation area along the North Shore of Lake Superior.

Parks Canada officials say they are working on plans to establish a National Marine Conservation Area in a 10,000-square kilometre area of the lake, which stretches from Silver Islet to Terrace Bay and down to the American border.

Officials with the federal government announced details of the project more than two years ago. Parks Canada spokesperson Marcia Morash said they’ve been working with a 20-member advisory board on a five-year plan to protect that part of the lake and encourage the use of it.

Right now, they're mapping out the exact borders.

A few jobs have already been created because of the project, and Morash said up to eight full-time positions will be created and filled sometime this year. They're currently operating out of temporary office space in Nipigon and have yet to determine where their permanent offices will be located.

Morash hopes the plan is completed by late spring, at which time they expect to hold open houses to gain public input for the final draft.

TB New Watch


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.

In 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.


Welland Canal’s Lock 7 getting some TLC

1/28 - St. Catharines, Ont. – Lock 7 is getting some extra attention this year as the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp. does its usual winter maintenance and then some.

A new wall just below the lock and improvements to a new mooring system for ships once inside the enclosure are all in the works, said Seaway spokesman Andrew Bogora.

The concrete of three monoliths is being replaced after years of weathering by fluctuating water levels, run-ins with boat hulls, and freeze and thaw cycles, he said. "It's difficult sometimes to put a finger on why one particular section may be subjected to more wear and tear. I think it's safe to say it was simply this section's turn to be rehabilitated," Bogora said.

Canal watchers will be able to take in the action until mid-March, when the $1.5 million face lift is expected to be finished.

In the lock itself, more workers are toiling away at upgrades to the experimental, hands-free vacuum mooring system that was moved there last year after a trial at Lock 8 in 2008. Lock 7 is one of the best opportunities to test this technology in a typical lock. If you look at Lock 8 ... it's basically a water-control lock. It doesn't raise or lower a vessel by significant amounts," Bogora said.

Bogora said the test in Lock 7 "delivered promising results" for the system that uses suction to secure boats as the water lifts and lowers them. But more fine-tuning is needed before it can be used in other locks to replace the wire and line system for mooring lakers.

Bogora said vacuum mooring do away with the need for vessels to be outfitted with equipment required only by the Seaway.

Whatever upgrades are being done, the vacuum moors need it, said one boat patrolman with the Seafarers International Union of Canada. Paul MacDonald said the most ships have bumps and bruises from their lengthy travels, making it difficult for the four pads to properly attach to a vessel. MacDonald has other concerns about the new technology. "For safety and for jobs, it takes at least three lock personnel to tie up a ship. If you have that in every lock, there goes their job," he said.

But, Bogora said, the system remains a work in progress. "Any change is often greeted with a certain degree of caution," he said.

St. Catharines Standard


Port Reports - January 28

Sturgeon Bay, Wis. – Matt Clark
Joseph L. Block was expected inbound through the Sturgeon Bay Canal Thursday afternoon heading to the ship yard and winter lay-up. Her last two trips were canceled.

Indiana Harbor - Brian Z.
Joseph L. Block was unloading taconite pellets on a snowy Wednesday at Arcelor Mittal for the # 7 blast furnace. The harbor and lower end of Lake Michigan remain ice-free.

Straits of Mackinac – Fred Stone
Wednesday afternoon Algosteel was eastbound returning from Milwaukee heading for winter lay-up in Owen Sound.

Port Huron, Mich. – Brad Simpson
Canadian Progress was upbound in ballast on the St. Clair River Wednesday after unloading salt in Detroit. She was escorted upbound through the lower St. Clair River by the Canadian Coast Guard Ship Griffon. The Progress is headed back to Goderich though it is unclear if she will load another cargo or remain in port for lay-up.


Brownfield redevelopment project on the horizon

1/28 - Duluth, Minn. – The Duluth Seaway Port Authority Board of Commissioners voted Wednesday to approve a purchase agreement with United States Steel Corporation to acquire a portion of the company’s former Duluth Works site in the city’s Morgan Park neighborhood.

This 123-acre parcel is part of one of the largest listed Superfund sites in Minnesota. The redevelopment of this first section will serve as a catalyst to the delisting, redevelopment and revitalization of the rest of the property.

State, city and Morgan Park community leaders are excited about the prospects for redevelopment as the 550-acre industrial property has sat dormant since the steel mill closed in the 1970s. In the interim, United States Steel has been working with the MPCA to decommission and remediate the site. Prior to closing on this acquisition, a soil investigation must be completed to determine if any additional remediation needs to be undertaken to delist the property from Superfund site status.

With the support of Morgan Park community leaders, the Port Authority has worked with United States Steel for nearly three years to acquire the first 123 acres of what could become a historic brownfield redevelopment project for this region.

“The Port Authority made the decision to acquire this property to satisfy the need for larger-scale industrial development sites within the port district,” noted Adolph Ojard, executive director. “We’ve simply run out of space in the Duluth area. There is no suitable land in parcels larger than 10 acres, particularly in such close proximity to the harbor.”

“United States Steel Corporation is eager to work with the Duluth Seaway Port Authority to transform this brownfield site into a development project that could have a significant, positive, long-term impact on the local economy,” said USS Real Estate President George A. Manos.

“The Port Authority has fielded several inquiries in recent years from large-scale manufacturing and distribution companies that would be prime candidates for 50-acre or larger parcels. Acquiring United States Steels former Duluth Works site will go a long way toward satisfying pent-up demand. While it is our intention to redevelop this site into parcels suitable for large-scale development, the investigation and potential remediation of this property will not happen overnight,” added Ojard. “We hope to have buildable sites available by 2012.”

Duluth Seaway Port Authority


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.



Section of Welland Canal collapses at St. Catharines

1/27 - St. Catharines, Ont. - A section of the Welland Canal collapsed Tuesday morning.

The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation said the area below Lock 2, north of Scott Street in St. Catharines, was quickly secured shortly after the 9 a.m. incident. There were no injuries reported. After inspection, it was determined that the bike path on the embankment is stable and safe.

The cause of the collapse is being investigated, but the Seaway said the cause is likely linked to heavy rainfall in the area over the preceding 72 hours, together with the mild temperatures. The bank slid under a timber pile wall, one of five timber pile approach walls along the canal.

The incident will not affect the 2010 opening of the Welland Canal, the Seaway said.

Hamilton Spectator


Coast Guard to break up St. Clair River ice

1/27 - Port Huron, Mich. – The U.S. Coast Guard plans to be back on the St. Clair River Wednesday morning to break ice and make the ferry route to Harsen’s Island passable.

Champions Ferry was shutdown throughout the day Tuesday because of ice build up on the river.

Lt. Dixon Whitley, ice operations officer for the U.S. Coast Guard’s Detroit sector, said the cutter Bristol Bay made several passes to break up the ice. But he said those attempts only were somewhat successful and ice remains blocking the path of the ferry.

Whitley said the cutter is expected to be back out in the river this morning to open up the route.

“The main idea is to get it to break up so it flows through the river,” he said. “Once you break it up, you just have to let the current do its job.”

Port Huron Times Herald


U.S. Coast Guard rescues three in Saginaw Bay

1/27 - Cleveland, Ohio - U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Detroit rescued three ice fishermen in Saginaw Bay Tuesday at approximately 7 p.m., when they were unable to return to shore due to a widening crack in the ice.

“We picked up one individual on the first hoist, ferried him to shore, and then went and picked up the other two,” said Lt. Brian Ward, co-pilot of the rescue helicopter. All three appeared to be wearing survival suits. All three were transported to shore with no apparent injuries.

An HH-65 Dolphin Helicopter was dispatched after a passerby saw the crack preventing the men from return to shore and called 911.

The rescue helicopter transported the three men to local responders on shore, and was subsequently dispatched to Bay City, Mich., after receiving a report of five individuals stuck on the ice.

All five were directed to shore by local law enforcement with no reported injuries.

“We got to the mouth of the Saginaw River and saw what appeared to be gear left behind by those individuals, said Ward. We flew over the river for approximately 10 or 15 minutes making sure there was no one else in distress.”



Updates - January 27

Public Gallery 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 an expensive rebuild, was sold and renamed 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


New owner of Erie shipyard hopes for growth

1/26 - Erie, Pa. – The new owner of the shipyard on Erie Pennsylvania’s east bayfront promises to bring expertise and experience to grow the business.

J. Arnold Witte, 71, has purchased Erie Shipbuilding LLC and renamed it DonJon Shipbuilding and Repair. Witte is the owner of DonJon Marine Co. in Hillside, N.J., a company he founded in 1964 and named after his son and daughter.

His business began as a marine salvage and towing company. Now it also performs dredging services, heavy lifting and recycling operations. It will expand into shipbuilding and repair at the Erie shipyard, the largest of its kind on the Great Lakes.

Before Witte decided to buy Erie Shipbuilding, he was its biggest customer, purchasing 11 barges in recent years. He liked the company's products, but also realized it was in financial trouble. He studied its prospects, then offered to buy it.

"I think the core of the business is the people I have found here in Erie," Witte said. "We have the experience to operate this business successfully."

Witte is cautious about making projections related to employment growth just yet. Currently, DonJon Shipbuilding and Repair employs about 35 people. He'd like to boost employment to about 150 -- when the company is ready.

We know there are skeptics who have heard such promises before about potential jobs being created in Erie, including jobs at the shipyard. But there is good reason to have confidence in Witte. DonJon Marine hasn't laid off any of its 650 employees despite the rough economy. "That has to tell you something about how they value people and how they manage their business," Jake Rouch, vice president of economic development for the Erie Regional Chamber and Growth Partnership, said. "I think we have a winner."

The shipyard boasts a storied past in Erie, and the type of work done there is a natural fit for a city that has long depended on waterfront-related work to thrive. Originally known as the Litton Shipyard in the 1960s and early '70s, this is the place where two of the largest freighters on the Great Lakes, the Presque Isle and the Stewart J. Cort, were built. The Presque Isle, whose home port is in Duluth, Minn., is spending the winter in Erie. Its imposing size reflects our pride of workmanship.

Witte described his company's business philosophy: "We are a conservative company that looks very carefully at mergers and acquisitions. We are willing to risk our capital and our time in Erie ... because we think this shipyard has a future," he said. Once he commits to a new business venture, he wants to "take it just as far as you can go."

Erie Times News


Port Reports - January 26

Indiana Harbor - Brian Z.
Great Lakes Trader departed Arcleor Mittal's # 6 Dock after discharging taconite pellets early Monday afternoon. The tug and barge headed north onto a relatively ice-free Lake Michigan.

Harsen’s Island -
Champion’s Auto Ferry to Harse’ns Island shut down on Friday due to heavy ice in the North Channel. No word on when the ferry will resume operations. An airboat is running from the Algonac DNR Launch Site to the Harsen’s Island Boys Club.

Buffalo, N.Y. – Brian Wroblewski
The fire tug Edward M. Cotter was out breaking ice on the Buffalo River over the weekend, there was a freshly- broken track from the entrance channel all the way up to the CSX River Bridge. The area above the CSX bridges remains frozen over with solid plate ice.


Lawmakers push to base new USCG cutter in Charlevoix

1/26 - Charlevoix, Mich. — Michigan State Rep. Kevin Elsenheimer and Sen. Jason Allen have teamed up to fight for Charlevoix’s nautical future.

The lawmakers each introduced a resolution this week which urges the United States Coast Guard to locate a vessel in Charlevoix, whose waters have been without an ice cutter since the Acacia was decommissioned more than three years ago.

“There are supposedly new funds available for a new cutter and they are going to commission one on the Great Lakes, but now they have to determine where it goes,” said Charlevoix Mayor Norman Carlson Jr.

The announcement in late-September 2009, that the Coast Guard would receive $153 million to build a new cutter has prompted speculation on where the ship may ultimately be assigned.

“Charlevoix provided a good post before for the Coast Guard. We have three lakes and a long history with the coast guard,” Carlson said. “It just fits.”

Nearly identical, Allen’s resolution 109 and Elsenheimer’s resolution 201 detail Charlevoix’s long history with the Coast Guard dating back to 1889.

“Its work tending to nearly 200 navigation aids and keeping channels open by breaking ice was paramount to public safety,” the resolutions stated. “Reducing the number of ships providing buoy-tending and ice-cutting services continues to be a major concern to the individuals and businesses that relied upon the services of the Acacia. Charlevoix's role in lifesaving and promoting safe and efficient transportation on the Great Lakes is well-established.”

According to Allen and Elsenheimer, ships based in Port Huron and Duluth, Minn. are now left to deal with potential security and safety issues which may arise in the region.

“Aside from the safety benefits from having a cutter here to help keep the shipping lanes open, it would help our local economy,” Carlson said.

And, while the process is moving slower than he would have liked, Carlson said he is holding out hope.

“When you get to the state and federal level it’s just snail speed,” he said. “This is something that takes a lot of patience ... and if we end up with one (cutter) here we will be very fortunate.”

The proposals are now awaiting Michigan House and Senate approval.

Charlevoix Courier


‘Dirty Jobs’ program to highlight Soo Locks

1/26 - 1/26 - The Discovery Channel will broadcast a new “Dirty Jobs” episodes featuring the Soo Locks tonight at 9 p.m., with host Mike Rowe.


History of Welland Canal terrorist attacks being explored

1/26 - Welland, Ont. — Welland Historical Museum's annual general meeting will feature Brock University geography professor Alun Hughes, who will speak about terrorist attacks on the Welland Canal. Because the original canal was a "crucial transportation link," it became a target for attacks on more than one occasion throughout the years, Hughes said.

A successful attack on the canal would have lead to "huge disruption" of waterway transportation, he said, as well as damage to surrounding areas. During his presentation, Hughes will address the history behind each of the attacks, which spanned from 1841 to 1915.

Plans for attack on the canal were masterminded by a variety of groups over the waterway's history, each with their own reasoning for destroying the transportation system. Hughes will discuss the men behind the attacks, such as Dynamite Luke, who was the "ring leader" in a plan to destroy Lock 24 of the third canal in 1900. If Josh Nolin and John Walsh — the men sent to set up and detonate the explosives in the attack — had been successful in their attempts, there would have been "huge damage and loss of life," Hughes said.

Fortunately for those living in nearby Niagara Falls, the men placed the dynamite on the wrong portion of the lock gates. Damage was caused by the explosion which was "heard as far as Port Dalhousie," but no one was injured, Hughes said.

To learn more join the meeting Feb. 17 at Welland Civic Square.

Welland Tribune


Updates - January 26

Weekly Website Updates
News Photo Gallery
Public Gallery updated


Today in Great Lakes History - January 26

6 January 1994 - The THALASSA DESGAGNES (steel propeller tanker, 131.43 meters, 5,746 gross tons, built in 1976, in Norway, as the a.) JOASLA, renamed b.) ORINOCO in 1979, c.) RIO ORINOCO in 1982) entered service for Groupe Desgagnes.

The keel for 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.

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.

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


Port Reports - January 25

Detroit - Ken Borg and Dan Jackson
Sunday afternoon, Canadian Progress was downbound with a load of salt from Goderich for the Rouge River. She was escorted by the Canadian Coast Guard Ship Griffon through the lower St. Clair River and Lake St. Clair.

The Penobscot Bay was upbound on Lake St. Clair and passed the Griffon and appeared to lose power on lower Lake St. Clair. The Griffon returned to the Penobscot Bay and appeared to tow it into the Belle Isle anchorage. Temperatures were in the mid 40s when the Griffon reached the anchorage.

Progress continued downbound to the Rouge River where she was assisted by the tug Idaho and Wyoming to the Motor City Material Dock.


Coast Guard rescues four after they fell through the ice helping others

1/25 - Cleveland, Ohio - U.S. Coast Guard Station Saginaw River, Mich., rescued four good samaritans Saturday at approximately 9:30 p.m., after they fell through the ice after trying to assist two people in distress one mile offshore Saginaw Bay in Linwood, Mich. All people were recovered and released in good condition.

"We brought two males and two females aboard after they fell in trying to help a 32-year-old man and a six-year-old boy in waist-deep water," said Boatswain's Mate 3rd Class Todd Murray. "The ice is deteriorating and was totally unsafe."

A 20-foot airboat crew pulled the four from the ice and transferred them safely to awaiting Emergency Medical Services on shore. The four had no reported injuries. Initially, a 32-year-old male and a 6-year-old boy fell through the ice while ice fishing. The four went on to the ice to assist them and they fell through as well. The 32-year old and six-year-old were assisted out of the ice by the Pinconning Fire Department. They were cold but refused treatment.


Updates - January 25

Weekly Website Updates
News Photo Gallery
Historical Perspective Gallery Viking gallery updated
Public Gallery updated


Today in Great Lakes History - January 25

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.

On January 25, 1988, the tanker L’ORME 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.

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.


Michigan/ Great Lakes combo listed for sale or charter

1/24 -   The articulated tug/barge combo Michigan/ Great Lakes has been listed as available for sale or charter at the Marcon International Inc. web site. The price was not listed. The pair, built in 1982 at Bay Shipbuilding Co. in Sturgeon Bay, was operated in the gasoline and jet fuel trade trades on the lakes by Keystone Shipping, mostly from the BP oil terminal in Toledo. Reports indicate the vessel’s long-term charter has not been renewed. The pair, which did see service in 2009, is laid up at Bay Shipbuilding Co.


Updates - January 24

News Photo Gallery
Public Gallery 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.


Port Reports - January 23

Milwaukee, Wis. - John N. Vogel
American Steamship's Burns Harbor backed into Milwaukee's inner harbor shortly after noon on Friday and tied up at its winter berth. It was followed by the Great Lakes Fleet's Roger Blough, which backed into the inner harbor with the aid of a tug shortly before 2 p.m. The Blough had been out in the lake, just beyond the breakwater, for a couple of days awaiting the Burns Harbor's arrival since she was to berth first.


Updates - January 23

Lay-up list updated - please send updates to


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.

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


Lake Erie and Ohio River designated Ohio Marine Highway Corridors

1/22 - Cleveland, Ohio – The Ohio Department of Transportation won't ever have to pave, plow or patch its two newest highways.

The Ohio River and Lake Erie have been designated Marine Highway Corridors to promote the use of waterways to move people and freight and ease congestion on roads and rail lines.

"Ohio has 716 navigable miles of waterways, and they are utilized at 30 percent of the capacity," ODOT spokesman Scott Varner said. "There is so much room for growth. Ohio is really a maritime state despite what people think."

While ships ply the Great Lakes with coal, iron ore and grain, ODOT officials envision container ships, passenger ferries and other vessels on those waterways, easing congestion on Interstate 90.

The Ohio River could see considerable increases in shipping in five years once the Panama Canal opens a wider and deeper third lock in 2014, said Mark Locker, ODOT's new director of the Office of Maritime and Freight Mobility. Container ships could travel through the Gulf of Mexico to ports in New Orleans and Mobile, Ala. -- with cargo continuing to the Ohio River via the Mississippi River and Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway.

"With gas prices going up, Washington is looking at alternate green ways which are cleaner, cheaper and lower the transportation costs of moving goods," Locker said. "Water is the natural choice."

A federal program to create Marine Highways was mandated by Congress in December 2007. The U.S. Maritime Administration, an agency in the U.S. Department of Transportation, is expected to publish its final rules in the Federal Register early this year.

Once the program is under way, federal money will be available for projects to bring more commercial and passenger traffic on waterways -- either by expanding existing services or developing new ones, Locker said. ODOT hopes to be in the forefront since it was one of the first states to apply to the maritime administration to establish corridors in January 2009. It received approval to establish corridors along the Great Lakes, called the Interstate 90/Marine Highway Corridor, and the Ohio River -- the Marine One Corridor, Locker said.

All Great Lakes states have agreed to form a coalition, with Ohio as the lead state, he said.

"We want to get more international traffic in and out of the St. Lawrence Seaway," he said. "But the large cargo vessels from Europe and Asia would have to downsize to a smaller vessel because it is fairly narrow." The group will also work with Canadian officials to establish short sea shipping of cargo and passengers, he said.

He plans to separately meet with state officials from both corridors to discuss proposals, and a port inventory will determine what products are going in and out. They will also look at how rail, roads and airports can be linked to waterways.

Railroads and trucking firms do not oppose marine highways because rail systems are at capacity and moving double-stacked containers, and trucks will always be a vital part of the transporting goods and services, he said.

"Whether it comes in from rail or water at some point, the door-to-door delivery has to be by truck," he said. "They see it as a really good collaboration."

Shipping by water is the most efficient way to move large quantities of materials, said Glen G. Nekvasil, spokesman for the Lake Carriers' Association, which endorses the marine corridor program. Ships carry more cargo, burn less fuel and produce fewer emissions, he said.

Virtually no ships carry containers on the lakes, mainly because ports do not have cranes to unload them, Locker said. Another deterrent to Great Lakes shipping is weather -- the St. Lawrence Seaway closes in the winter.

"During that time you would have to find another way to ship goods," Locker said.

Cleveland Plain Dealer


Toronto ferry named after first person to swim across Lake Ontario

1/22 - Toronto, Ont. – Marilyn Bell — the first person to swim across Lake Ontario — has a new namesake: A ferry to the island airport.

Now going by her married name, Bell-Di Lascio, 72, got choked up as she saw the white ferry approach the dock Wednesday, after the public voted in an online contest to have the vessel named after her. She was 16 when she swam across the lake in 1954.

“I was awestruck when I heard about it, but I didn’t expect I’d react this way,” she said.

“It’s very special. It’s like the name, Bell, keeps resurfacing.”

The Toronto Port Authority, which operates the Toronto City Centre Airport, ran a contest last month, asking people to log onto its website and cast a vote for one of 1,000 possible names for the ferry. The airport ferry will officially be pushed into service for passengers making the short trek to and from the mainland on Friday.

Another ferry, currently in operation, has been named after Lt. David Ernest Hornell, a pilot with the Royal Canadian Air Force during the Second World War.

“I was thinking about all the e-mails I’ve gotten over the years from strangers and people who are inspired from my story and people persevered,” said Bell-Di Lascio, a retired school teacher, who resides in New Jersey.

“I’m thinking those people will take the ferry to (the airport) go on vacation or business. And it’s about motivation to do what you love.”

In September 1954, Bell-Di Lascio swam 51.5 km from Youngstown, N.Y., to Toronto in 21 hours, enduring frigid water, lamprey eels, pollution and overwhelming fatigue. When she reached the area, just west of Exhibition Place at what is now Marilyn Bell Park, she was greeted by thousands of cheering supporters.

Bell-Di Lascio also became the youngest person to swim the English Channel as well as the Strait of Juan de Fuca, between Vancouver Island and Washington State.

“I’ve never lost that marathon spirit,” she said. “It’s ingrained in me.”

Toronto Sun


Port authority provides grant for solar energy generating facility

1/22 - Toledo, Ohio - The Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority Board of Directors has granted City of Compassion CDC $35,000 for predevelopment costs to develop a solar photovoltaic generating facility on a 19 acre site adjacent to the Xunlight Corporation. The award comes from the Port Authority Community Economic Development Initiative grant and loan program.

The grant funds will be used for predevelopment costs for development of a solar field including legal and environmental services.

The Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority Community Economic Development Initiative funding comes from tax levy dollars. This grant and loan program is designed to assist community based organizations in creating new or revitalizing existing commercial structures that will attract or retain businesses in Lucas County and facilitate new employment opportunities. Grants and loans are awarded to economic development projects undertaken by eligible, neighborhood-based organizations. Grant or loan recipients must be 501(c) 3 organizations in good standing and must demonstrate the capacity to manage funds and develop real estate. Applicants must demonstrate that they are a neighborhood-based, community development organization and must operate within Lucas County.

“This project is ideal for the Community Economic Development Initiative as it promotes energy efficiency and renewable energy (EERE) opportunity and job training,” said Paul Toth, President and CEO of the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority.

“We thank the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority for this predevelopment grant and for their commitment to innovative alternative energy projects,” said Dr. William James, Board President and CEO of City of Compassion CDC. Council President Wilma Brown also was a major contributor to this project. The sit is in District 1, the Council District she represents.

The grant recipient has worked in collaboration with the Lucas County Improvement Corporation (LCIC) who is providing technical support, Hull and Associates who is providing environmental support, and Dovetail Solar & Wind providing technical support in the area of Renewable Energy. The grant recipient continues to identify additional development partners. The project also has support from Mayor Mike Bell who added “This is a perfect example of local agencies coordinating to put local funding into local projects. I look forward to ongoing opportunities for the city of Toledo to work with agencies like the Port and LCIC to ensure we continue to spur regional development. "

The Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority


Updates - January 22

Lay-up list updated - please send updates to
Public Gallery 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.


Toledo man pleads guilty, sentenced for making false distress call to Coast Guard

1/21 - Cleveland, Ohio – Cory Crockett, of Toledo, Ohio, was sentenced to three years supervised release and ordered to pay $112,735 in restitution to the U.S Coast Guard for making a false distress call to the U.S. Coast Guard on March 12, 2009.

Crockett, who pled guilty on January 15, 2010, used a hand-held VHF radio and transmitted several false distress calls over channel 16 to U.S. Coast Guard Sector Detroit during a 27-hour time frame.

The false distress calls were transmitted from an apartment complex in Toledo, and caused numerous Coast Guard and local emergency response assets to search for hours for what was believed to be a vessel in distress. The cost of the search exceeded $112,000.

A coordinated effort between U.S. Coast Guard Sector Detroit, U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service and the Federal Communications Commission, determined the source and location of the transmission and led to the arrest of Crockett.

Anyone who knowingly and willfully communicates a false distress message to the U.S. Coast Guard or causes the Coast Guard to attempt to save lives and property when no help is needed is a violation of 14 U.S.C. 88(c). The penalties for this federal felony can include up to six years in prison; $250,000 fine; $5,000 civil penalty and the possible reimbursement to the U.S. Coast Guard for performing the search.

"False distress calls are a tremendous concern, not only because of the waste of resources, but especially because resources responding to a false distress are not available to respond to an actual person in distress. It could cost someone more than money," said Rear Adm. Neffenger, Commander of the Ninth Coast Guard District.

"I commend Sector Detroit, CGIS, and the FCC for their efforts in locating the source and arresting the violator; and Asst. U.S. Attorney Thomas O. Secor and Special Asst. U.S. Attorney Ted Fowles, of the Coast Guard, for their efforts to prosecute the violator," added Neffenger.

Crockett's co-defendant, Frederico C. Flores, 22, of Toledo, pled guilty on June 29, 2009, and received a similar sentence.


Changes to Soo Locks park to be discussed Feb. 18

1/21 - Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. – An information meeting on the Soo Locks Facility Master Plan will be held at the Ontario Room at the Cisler Center Feb. 18 at 6 p.m. The Cisler Center is located on Lake Superior State University's campus. It is open to the public.

This site plan will serve as a long term maintenance and development guide for the Soo Locks facility site. The plan will guide U.S. Army Corps of Engineers personnel in properly maintaining and effectively changing the site to meet operating constraints while honoring the site's natural beauty, historic value and visitors' experiences in an environmentally sustainable way. Included in the Soo Locks Facility Master Site Plan are plans regarding the landscaping and lighting of the parks and pier, construction of a new observation deck, reconfiguration of parking Lots and installation of a bandstand. Each of these plans will be addressed in detail and public questions and comments will be welcomed and addressed. In addition to USACE personnel, representatives from the National Park Service, the State Historic Preservation Office and Wilcox, the designer of the plan, will be on-site to answer questions.

This informational meeting is being held in compliance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act. The purpose of the meeting is to provide the public, as well as interested parties, with information on the proposed landscape plan and to seek comment and input regarding the proposed plan.


Port Reports - January 21

Milwaukee, Wis. - John N. Vogel
Upper Lakes Group's Canadian Progress was docked at the bulk pier in the outer harbor early Wednesday evening discharging salt.

St. Clair River and Western Lake Erie –
Canadian Transport was upbound Wednesday afternoon and about noon was assisted through the lower St. Clair River by the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Neah Bay. Neah Bay remained in the area working on track maintenance before departing upbound.

CCGS Griffon was downbound from her Amherstburg base Wednesday evening to assist Algoeast upbound through Pelee Passage and Western Lake Erie. McKee Sons was eastbound on Lake Erie for Ashtabula, Ohio.


Coast Guard Air Station Detroit crew conducts medical evacuations in support of the Haitian operations

1/21 - Detroit, Mich. - A local U.S. Coast Guard aircrew from Detroit has been flying around the clock in support of earthquake relief efforts in Haiti.

Flying the HH-65C Dolphin rescue helicopter, the mission involved evacuation of several trauma patients from the small village of Milot, which is nestled in the mountains 60 miles north of Port Au Prince. U.S. Coast Guard and United Nations security was required in the small village, as mobs of local residents rushed the helicopter as it landed.

Avionics Electrical Technician 2nd Class Duane Zitta handled the loading and care of the patients, and on several occasions had to assist in marshalling the crowd away from the turning helicopter.

Multiple trips from the village to awaiting Coast Guard Cutters in the bay resulted in the successful evacuation of nine trauma patients throughout an arduous six-hour flight. Patients included a small girl and a young boy with severely injured legs.


Updates - January 21

Lay-up list updated - please send updates to
Public Gallery 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.


David Foster appointed president of American Steamship

1/20 - GATX Corporation announced Tuesday that David W. Foster has been appointed president of American Steamship Company (ASC). ASC, GATX's Great Lakes dry-bulk shipping unit, is the largest U.S.-flag fleet of fresh-water self-unloading vessels and serves the steel, energy and construction industries.

"We are very fortunate to have someone of Dave's caliber and experience join our industry-leading ASC team," said Clifford Porzenheim, chief executive officer of ASC and senior vice president of GATX. "I am confident Dave's extensive experience in the shipping industry, customer focus and management acumen will help guide ASC in all aspects."

Mr. Foster's 30-year marine career includes a progression of more senior positions in marine-related organizations in both the United States and Canada as well as project work in Europe. Most recently, he served as president of Northern Transportation Company Limited, a Canadian Arctic marine transportation and fuel supply company. Mr. Foster is a Registered Professional Engineer holding a Diploma in Naval Architecture as well as a Master's Degree in Business Administration and a Bachelor's Degree in Engineering from Memorial University of Newfoundland.


Ripples of recession reach Port of Green Bay

1/20 - Green Bay, Wisc. – The Port of Green Bay saw an 18 percent decrease in cargo last year, while the Great Lakes shipping industry as a whole saw tonnages fall off about 34 percent from 2008.

Both the port and Lake Carriers Association released year-end figures last week showing declines.

Tonnages were depressed most of the shipping season — which generally runs from March to late December — thanks to a recession that slowed the overall economy.

While tonnage numbers dipped dramatically early in the year, the Port of Green Bay made up ground most of the season, before a slow December cemented the season's tonnage decline from 2008 at 18 percent.

Port manager Dean Haen said Green Bay's decline wasn't as steep as that of other ports.

"Our stable economy is reflected by our tonnage not being down as much as others," he said. "This year is going to be better than, I'm sure, last year.

"This is the first time we've been under 2 million tons in five or six years."

While most of the major commodities for the port were down, salt was up 22 percent at 297,025 tons, thanks to the severity of recent winters.

At the regional level, the Lake Carriers Association said its vessels hauled 66.5 million tons of cargo, 34.2 percent less than 2008 and almost 38 percent less than the industry's five-year average.

Iron ore for the steel industry showed the largest decline with 24 million tons shipped last year, down 50 percent from 2008 and off about 60 percent from boom years like 1998.

While most commodities were down last year, the Lake Carriers Association said salt was up 36,000 tons, and grain increased by 57,000 tons.

Seven ships in the Great Lakes fleet represented by the association didn't sail in 2009.

Haen said that given the gains the port made in the last half of the shipping season, he was disappointed to see numbers settle at 18 percent under last year.

"We kept closing that gap month after month after month; we started off some 40 percent down by losing the first two months of the season," he said. "By November we were 12 to 14 percent down and then December just dropped off. Cargo just stopped coming in.

"We kept closing that gap, and then in December we just stopped moving stuff again," Haen said. "I don't know what happened."

Green Bay Press Gazette


Port Reports - January 20

Escanaba, Mich. - Lee Rowe
Joseph L. Block and the barge Great Lakes Trader and tug Joyce L. VanEnkevort continue to make runs to Escanaba for ore. Both were in Tuesday.


Hundreds turn out for meeting on proposed Lake Michigan wind farm

1/20 - Shelby, Mich. – Hundreds of lakeshore residents asked questions and voiced concerns Monday night about a proposal to build an offshore wind farm between Silver Lake and Ludington.

People packed the Shelby High School Auditorium where Harald Dirdal, a representative from Havgul Clean Energy of Norway, addressed the crowd. The company, in partnership with Scandia Wind Offshore, wants to put 100 to 200 wind turbines within a 100 square mile section of Lake Michigan. The turbines would be 300 to 450 feet high and visible from the shores of Oceana County and southern Mason County.

A large number of people are opposed to the project, while others hope it will eventually create jobs and harness a natural resource for alternative energy. Opponents call the plan nothing but an eyesore detracting from the lakeshore, others welcome the possibility of new jobs.

"How can we appreciate the benefit of what you are suggesting when there doesn't seem to be any benefit to the local community?" asked Pentwater resident Bill Brewis.

Dirdal answered, "I think the benefit is personal."

"No it's not personal, its a very public thing," Brewis responded. "That's why in the middle of January many homeowners have come here tonight to say thumb's down, thumb's down," he finished with a thundering applause.

Others however, welcomed the idea of new jobs in a very depressed economy.

Amanda Putnam of Montague said to the crowd, "I am proud that we're considered for this entire thing you have going on. We are not only in need as a West Michigan community as a whole we are in need of an opportunity like this to get out of this late 80's, 90's industrial rust belt cess pit we are in right now."

Groups have already formed protesting the proposed wind farm.

"My main reason for being against it is that no studies have ever been done to prove that wind power reduces carbon emissions into the atmosphere," said Paul Slotsema, co-founder of People Against Lake Michigan Wind Farm. "A proposed 100 to 200 wind mill wind farm over a 100 square mile radius is not a first step. That's a giant industrial complex into a beautiful setting."

Spokesmen from both companies assured the public that they would conduct environmental research and feasibility studies. They said they would follow Michigan and federal laws. They also made it clear they want input from residents.

Michigan's 101st District State Representative, Dan Scripps, was also in attendance.

"I want to make sure that we've got something in place and we find that right balance between creating jobs and the opportunity that offshore winds presents, but also protecting our water and making sure that people's views are heard before we go forward with anything like this. There's a right way and a wrong way to do offshore wind, and we want to make sure that we in Michigan are finding the right way forward. I think it does present an opportunity both in terms of meeting our energy needs, but also creating jobs and helping to diversify our economy."

Another public meeting was scheduled for Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Ludington High School's Peterson Auditorium.



Asian carp DNA found in Lake Michigan; Supreme Court rejects remedy

1/20 - Milwaukee, Wisc. – Water samples taken in Lake Michigan reveal that Asian carp have made the jump into the world's largest freshwater system.

Earlier Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to force the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to slam shut two lakeside navigation locks to prevent the super-sized, north-migrating carp from making the jump into the lake. The court issued its announcement Tuesday with no explanation. Now the Army Corps is poised to announce that two "environmental" DNA samples show the presence of leaping silver carp above the O'Brien lock south of downtown Chicago.

One of those samples, taken Dec. 8, reveals the presence of DNA in Lake Michigan. The Army Corps was scheduled to make an announcement at 1:30 Tuesday afternoon.

The court, meanwhile, has denied a request for a preliminary injunction to shut a lock at Navy Pier and O'Brien lock, the lock that the carp have apparently already bypassed. While no actual fish have been found above the barrier, biologists say the presence of DNA in lake waters is essentially as good as finding a fish. The technology can detect even the tiniest trace of fish DNA, and scientists say it indicates a fish has been in the area within the past two days.

The material likely comes from a carp's digestive tract, and while there are other possible explanations for the material to be found in a body of water - contaminated ballast discharges from a barge, for example - the scientists behind the technology say that is highly unlikely.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency dispatched a team to the laboratories at the University of Notre Dame where the DNA tests are being conducted, and concluded that the tests are a reliable means of detecting presence of a fish.

What the tests do not reveal, however, are how many fish may be in an area, or the size or age of the fish.

The news did not come as a surprise to Phil Moy, a University of Wisconsin Sea Grant biologist who has co-chaired the panel that helped the Army Corps construct an electric fish barrier on the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal about 20 miles downstream from Lake Michigan. "The fish have probably been up there around the locks for a year," Moy said.

The reason: the Army Corps turned off the power to the barrier system in October of 2008 for about a week's worth of maintenance, and Moy said the fish likely slipped through at that time. The barrier that was turned off at that time was the first one to operate in the canal, and was not built to operate at level strong enough to repel juvenile fish, which need a bigger jolt. A second, stronger barrier was subsequently turned on in April 2009, but it was not turned up to a level strong enough to deter small fish until last August.

Case not over
The Supreme Court, meanwhile, did not rule on a separate request from the State of Michigan to re-open an ongoing case over the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, which is a provides an artificial link between the Mississippi River basin and Lake Michigan.

"They just denied the motion for preliminary injunction to shut the locks, they're completely silent on the petition to re-open the case," said Noah Hall, a Wayne State University law professor who has followed the case closely.

In that portion of the case, the State of Michigan, backed by Wisconsin, New York, Ohio and Minnesota, is hoping the court will re-open a decades-old lawsuit over the operation of the Chicago canal.

Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox said he was disappointed the court decided not to push the "pause button on this crisis" by closing the locks on an emergency basis, but he said briefs in the petition to re-open the case are due Feb. 19.

The canal, which opened in 1900, was built to flush Chicago sewage toward the Gulf of Mexico. It worked wonders for Chicago sanitation, but it also permanently lowered Lake Michigan and upset Illinois' downstream neighbors. The case dragged on for years, but in 1967 the court ruled the diversion of Lake Michigan water could continue, provided it was capped at about 2.1 billion gallons a day. The court, however, left the door open for future action if the neighboring states could demonstrate that the canal was causing them harm.

Cox, who is running for governor, hopes the carp invasion will fit that bill, and he is asking the court to force Illinois and the Army Corps to re-engineer the canal system to once again separate Lake Michigan from the Mississippi.

Biologists: Fish may not breed
Biologists have said all is not lost if a small population of fish make it into Lake Michigan, because it can be very difficult for a breeding population to get established. "If a few fish get into the Great Lakes, it's not game over," Duane Chapman, a U.S. Geological Survey researcher who has made a career out of studying the fish on the heavily infested Missouri River, said last month.

The fish can grow to 50 pounds and consume up to 20% of their weight in plankton per day - food upon which every other species in a water system either directly or indirectly depends. Chapman said they do indeed pose a dire threat to fishing and recreational boating on the world's largest freshwater system. But he said what matters now is how many get into the lake. That will determine whether a breeding population gets established.

For invasion biologists, numbers are everything. First, the invading fish have to find each other. Then they have to find a place to spawn. Asian carp probably won't be able to breed in open lake waters. Research shows that fertilized Asian carp eggs require long free-flowing rivers; without a current to keep them afloat, they sink to the bottom and die. Surveys have shown there are 22 tributaries on the U.S. side of the Great Lakes that may provide suitable spawning habitat. More such rivers flow into the lakes from Canada.

"The number of fish that get in is everything - it will control whether these fish have a chance of putting together a population or not," Chapman said.

The worry is what the carp will do to Lake Michigan's $7 billion commercial and recreational fishery, as well as the recreational boating industry.

The two Asian carp species now threatening the Great Lakes were first imported to the United States by an Arkansas fish farmer in the early 1970s. He wasn't interested in the fish and turned them over to Arkansas fishery officials, and they in turn used them in sewage treatment experiments funded in part by an $81,000 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, according to a 2006 Journal Sentinel investigation.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel


Speaker series starts Sunday at Maritime Center in Port Huron

1/20 - Sundays beginning Jan. 24 at 2 p.m. at The Great Lakes Maritime Center, Brian Cylkowski presents an essay titled “What’s really in a name: The Schooner Red Jacket.” The essay investigates the schooner Red Jacket and its namesake and the people who built and owned her.

Cylkowski will present a series of these essays over the next nine weeks at 2 p.m. at the GLMC.


Updates - January 20

News Photo Gallery
Lay-up list updated - please send updates to
Public Gallery updated


Today in Great Lakes History - January 20

20 January 1980 - The E. M. FORD (steel propeller self-unloader cement carrier, 406 foot, 4,498 gross tons, built in 1898, at Lorain, Ohio as a bulk freighter, converted to self-unloading bulk cement carrier in 1956, at Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin) 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.

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.

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.


Toledo traffic declines for second year in a row

1/19 - Toledo, Ohio – Cargo traffic through the Port of Toledo declined for a second consecutive year in 2009, with steel and steel-related freight leading the 8.75 percent drop.

Iron ore, the primary ingredient for steel production, fell to less than 2.9 million tons last year, down 39 percent from 2008, according to year-end statistics released by the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority. Total cargo tonnage was off by nearly 1 million tons, from nearly 11 million tons in 2008 to about 10 million tons last year.

Only nine oceangoing vessels visited the Toledo docks during the year, the lowest count since 1947, a dozen years before the St. Lawrence Seaway opened.

As recently as 1989, 100 or more so-called salty visits per year were the norm in Toledo, but the last year for that amount was 1994, when 116 salty dockings were logged.

The drop from 38 salties in 2007 to 22 the next year and nine last year was a result of lower steel imports throughout the Great Lakes, said Joe Cappel, the port authority's senior manager of seaport business development.

That also meant fewer ships in the system to handle outbound cargo, such as grain, Mr. Cappel said. But grain rebounded locally from a "dismal" 2008, he said, thanks both to Kraft Foods' full-year operation of a new marine terminal at its flour mill on Front Street in East Toledo and to higher volume at Maumee River elevators.

Mr. Cappel and Seaport Director Warren McCrimmon both were optimistic about a port rebound during 2010.

"Some of our terminals are bullish on the coming season," Mr. McCrimmon said, naming the Kraft facility and Kuhlman Corp., which receives construction materials by water. Mr. Cappel, meanwhile, said the installation this year of cranes at the port-owned docks should be a boon to business.

"We're going to be out marketing our new equipment this winter to potential shippers," the business development manager said. "We hope that gives us a leg up on the competition." Last year, general cargo business at the port-owned international cargo docks fell 42.2 percent, mostly because of steel's decline. It was kept from falling further by aluminum traffic attributable to Toledo having gained a listing as a London Metals Exchange delivery point.

Petroleum and general cargo also were down, while coal and dry-bulk freight increased last year. While much of the drop in iron ore resulted from the end of "trans-shipment" cargo at the port-owned international cargo docks, last year's iron-ore volume also was nearly 1 million ton lower than in 2006, the year before such intermediate-destination shipments began.

Reduced iron-ore shipments last year were reflective of the domestic steel industry's lowered production, especially during the first half of 2009.

A significant portion of the U.S. lake-freighter fleet remained idle well into the year, including several vessels that were parked at Toledo wharves until late summer or early fall.

The trans-shipment cargo involved pelletized iron ore brought to Toledo from Minnesota in 1,000-foot lakers, emptied onto the dock, and reloaded into St. Lawrence Seaway-size ships. It was forwarded to the St. Lawrence River, where the ore was transferred once again into ocean freighters.

The unusual cargo movement was supported by robust demand from Chinese steelmakers for imported ore during a massive construction boom in that country during 2007 and 2008.

Toledo Blade


Channels in St. Marys River close for the winter

1/19 - Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. – Soo Traffic has closed Pipe Island Passage (east of Pipe Island Shoal and north of Pipe Island Twins from Watson Reef Light to Sweets Point). The channel closed on Sunday, the Pipe Island course will become a two-way route.

The captain of the port Sault Ste, Marie closed the West Neebish Channel Sunday morning. Alternating one-way traffic will be established in the Munuscong and Middle Neebish Channels.


Port Reports - January 19

Marquette, Mich . - Rod Burdick
Shipping continues from the Upper Harbor ore dock as Michipicoten arrived Monday morning and loaded taconite into the early afternoon.

Sturgeon Bay, Wis. - Wendell Wilke
Monday afternoon H. Lee White arrived at Bay Shipbuilding for lay-up. She arrived off of Lake Michigan through the Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal and was assisted to the Oregon Street Bridge by the tugs Jimmy L. and John M. Selvick.


Making waves of behalf of Michigan’s coastal towns

1/19 - Monroe, Mich. – Michigan touts the Great Lakes as an economic asset, crucial to both transportation and recreation.

But some port and coastal Great Lakes communities in the state figure they’re being left high and dry when it comes to funding to support those roles.

Among them are the cities of Monroe and Luna Pier, which have joined a group hoping to make some waves on behalf of Michigan’s coastal towns.

They are part of the Michigan Port Collaborative, a relatively new organization formed to advocate for Michigan’s port communities and coastal cities.

"Our whole marketing campaign at the state level talks about how fortunate we are to have the Great Lakes, but there’s no policy or funding for it," said Pam Stanley, economic development director for the Port of Monroe. "There’s no funding you can go after for infrastructure improvements or anything like that at the state level."

Both she and Greg Stewart, Luna Pier administrator, are among the collaborative’s 19-member interim steering committee, helping to set up the parameters of the new group. Its goal is to get better recognition for Michigan ports and harbors at the state and federal level.

"We’re trying to put together a strong organization for this collaborative to seek funding and policies that would enhance our ports and harbors," Ms. Stanley said.

The Port of Monroe has been able to get dredging done over the past three years, thanks to Congressional earmark legislation pushed through by U.S. Rep. John D. Dingell, D-Dearborn. But this year, no dredging money appears on the horizon. Nor is there money for infrastructure projects to support economic development projects, such as the wind turbine tower manufacturing company that is planning a plant at the Port of Monroe.

Ms. Stanley said the port will have to invest in heavy concrete pads to support cranes, dock and rail improvements to serve the new manufacturer because transport of the towers is most efficient via water.

"We’re faced with trying to provide financing for that infrastructure and that’s very difficult," she said. A financing plan is being developed, but no formal state program exists for enhancing the water transportation that the state views as so critical to its commerce.

She said one of the goals of the group is for advocacy on behalf of ports and coastal towns that will result in policy that provides money for infrastructure improvements. "Several states have done this and have been able to provide policy at the state level that provides them with dollars for their infrastructure," she said.

Mr. Stewart said his community is hoping its involvement in the group will have multiple benefits.

"What we’re looking for is, first of all, ideas," said Mr. Stewart. "I think a number of port cities in Michigan have gotten their acts together. We’re looking for best practices of what’s been done, but we’re also looking at ways to collaborate to either find grant money or influence what’s going on with the Great Lakes.

He said the town also hopes to get info on grant opportunities that other communities have used in the past. "There seems to be a lot of activity in the Great Lakes and I don’t know that Lake Erie, especially its west side, has gotten its share," he said.

"The federal government and state have been doing grants for docks and piers and that’s exactly one of the areas were looking at," he said. "How do we find those grants and be able to make this whole thing happen."

Luna Pier has been interested in making the town an access point for ferry service to the Lake Erie islands. Army Corps funding normally is available only for improvements at commercial ports, not recreational venues such as Luna Pier.

Mr. Stewart said hundreds of people representing more than 50 ports and coastal towns showed up for a summit of the collaborative in October, including many from private industry, tourism and shipping businesses. "A lot of people are interested in what’s going on on the shoreline," Mr. Stewart said.

"I think this is an excellent opportunity for Monroe County communities on Lake Erie, such as Luna Pier and Monroe," said Chris Heid, a Luna Pier city councilman. "We can learn from the western and northern Michigan port communities, find out what works, and what doesn’t. They can help us identify funding opportunities and speak as an effective voice in Lansing as well as Washington."

Mr. Stewart said he and Ms. Stanley, along with John Kerr of the Detroit/Wayne County Port Authority, are the three Southeast Michigan representatives on the group’s steering committee. He said the Detroit officials expressed keen interest in the ideas Luna Pier is exploring.

Water transportation remains among the most efficient methods for moving bulk commodities and other products, Monroe port officials said. "A lake barge can move one ton of cargo 514 miles on a gallon of fuel," said Thomas Krzyston, chairman of the Monroe Port Commission. "Michigan ports are an intricate part of our state’s multi-modal transportation network."

Monroe News


Updates - January 19

Weekly Website Updates
News Photo Gallery
Lay-up list updated - please send updates to
Public Gallery 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.


Port Reports - January 18

St. Marys River
Michipicoten was unloading at Essar Algoma on Sunday.

Goderich, Ont. – Glen Stephens
Algosteel was loading salt on Sunday.

Toledo, Ohio - Jim Hoffman
Saginaw arrived at the Kraft Food elevator Sunday evening to unload grain. The grain was loaded at Goderich, Ontario. She is expected to leave on Monday.

Western Lake Erie – Brian Moore
Western Lake Erie saw a fair amount of late season traffic Sunday. Tug Salvor and Evans McKeil were upbound for Windsor. Tug Invincible and McKee Sons were east bound for Ashtabula. Tug Dorothy Ann and barge Pathfinder departed Cleveland and was escorted upbound by the Neah Bay.


Cargo breakdown for 2009 shipping season

1/18 - As reported last week, dry-bulk cargo shipping on the Great Lakes fell more than 34 percent to 66.4 million tons last year compared to 2008’s 100.9 million tons.

Other highlights in the year over year report:
• Coal: Down to 20.6 million tons versus 24.9 million tons in 2008
• Cement: Down to 2.8 million tons from 3.2 million tons
• Limestone: Down to 17 million tons from 23.6 million tons
• Salt: Up slightly to 1.26 million tons from 1.22 million tons
• Sand: Down to 262,805 tons from 359,191 tons
• Grain: Up to 304,507 tons from 247,597 tons


Coast Guard Cutter Penobscot Bay keeps busy on the lakes

1/18 - Cleveland, Ohio – The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Penobscot Bay assisted the Ninth Coast Guard District, Jan. 11-15, 2010, with one of the busiest ice breaking operations on the Great Lakes.

The Penobscot Bay, a 140-foot ice breaking tug homeported in Bayonne, N.J., was one of five U.S. Coast Guard cutters that broke a navigational path through the ice for nearly 20 commercial vessels in the Lake St. Clair River system, which includes Lake St. Clair, and the Detroit and St. Clair Rivers.

Along with the cutters Mackinaw, Neah Bay, Bristol Bay and Hollyhock, the Penobscot Bay facilitated the transit of critical supplies, to Great Lakes communities, valued at approximately $80 million.

Penobscot Bays is temporarily assigned to assist with Operation Coal Shovel, an ice-breaking operation that encompasses southern Lake Huron, St. Clair/Detroit River systems, and Lakes Erie and Ontario, including the St. Lawrence Seaway.

"Having the Penobscot Bay here was invaluable; it afforded us the opportunity to not have to move cutters assigned to (Operation) Taconite [an ice breaking operation that encompasses Lake Superior, the St. Marys River, the Straits of Mackinac, Lake Michigan and northern Lake Huron] down to Lakes Erie and Ontario," said Lt. Cmdr. Brian Donahue, Chief of Aids to Navigation, Domestic Ice Breaking, Ninth Coast Guard District.

Penobscot Bay cleared paths for 13 commercial freighters on Jan 12, 2010. Their day's efforts facilitated the safe transit of 300,000 tons of cargo valued at approximately $20 million. This includes assisting the 730-foot bulk carrier Algosteel that was beset in 10-15 foot thick brash ice on the St. Clair River, Mich.

The Penobscot Bay arrived at the Coast Guard's Cleveland Moorings on Dec. 22, 2009, for temporary assignment to the Great Lakes Region to augment the Ninth District's eight ice breakers. The cutter last assisted the Ninth District during part of the 2007-2008 ice breaking season.


Updates - January 18

Weekly Website Updates
Public Gallery updated


May 2010 lighthouse and freighter cruise

1/18 - BoatNerd and the Great Lakes Lighthouse Keepers Association have joined with Keweenaw Excursions to organize the first lighthouse/freighter chasing event of 2010. This unusual trip will take place from May 19 to May 21.

The fun will begin and end in Sault Ste. Marie, and features a two-day cruise aboard the Keweenaw Star which will travel from Marquette across Lake Superior, down the St. Marys River, overnight in the Soo, continue down thru the Rock Cut, DeTour, and across the top of Lake Huron. The cruise will pass under the Mackinac Bridge and sail down Lake Michigan to Charlevoix. The boat will provide photo opportunities at 20 lighthouses and all the vessels in the busy shipping lanes along the way.

Due to bus availability, this event is limited to the first 46 people who make reservations. Make yours today. Click here for details.


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. Mary’s 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.


Algosar freed from ice, St. Marys River season closes

1/17 - The tanker Algosar was freed from the ice-choked West Neebish Rock Cut Saturday morning with the added help of the USCG Mackinaw. Roger Blough, which spent the night tied to the Soo Locks East Center Pier, followed her down and was outbound at DeTour around 2 p.m. headed for Gary, Ind. The tanker Algocanada, escorted by Katmai Bay, was also outbound DeTour about the same time, and the Mackinaw was heading back to her Cheboygan, Mich., homeport. Meanwhile the tug Reliance and her barge were upbound in the lower St. Marys River, with the tug Wilfred M. Cohen. Michipicoten was unloading at Essar Algoma and Great Lakes Trader was loading in Escanaba at mid-afternoon. As of midnight Saturday, Katmai Bay was at her dock at the Soo USCG base, Algosar was downbound off Harbor Beach and Saginaw was loading in Goderich.

Jerry Masson, Roger LeLievre


After 47 years on the Great Lakes, Algoisle sails into the sunset

1/17 - The Algoisle slowly eased off her berth at Thunder Bay’s Mission Terminals on a frigid Dec. 17 at precisely 8:29 p.m. The sailing marked the end of an era; after 47 years at sea, Algoisle was embarking on her final voyage.

Laden with 24,326 tonnes of wheat, the ship was bound for Port Cartier, Quebec. Capt. Seann O’Donoughue, a seasoned veteran of 25 years at sea, reminisced about the many years his ship had plied the Great Lakes.

Built in Cork, Ireland, by Verolme Cork Shipyard, the straight-deck bulk carrier, measuring 222.5 metres and displacing 38,700 tonnes, was launched on Nov. 23, 1962 for the Mohawk Navigation Co. of Montreal. The new ship, constructed specifically for the dimensions of the St. Lawrence Seaway, was the first laker ever built from the keel up at an overseas shipyard.

With the opening of the Seaway in 1959, Canadian shipyards were booked to capacity as vessel owners scrambled to keep up with the competition. As a result, the federal government granted permission for newbuilds at foreign shipyards. The new policy proved prescient, filling the void in developing new and modern ships for a burgeoning shipping industry.

After crossing the Atlantic Ocean from Ireland, the newly minted laker was christened Silver Isle, in honour of the area where she was built, on May 8, 1963, at Sept-Îles. Three days after the christening she was sailing upbound through the Welland Canal with a cargo of iron ore on her maiden voyage to Cleveland.

Silver Isle continued to sail under Mohawk Navigation ownership until 1980. From 1970 to 1980, her owners chartered her out under the management of Scott Misener Steamships Ltd. In early 1980, Pioneer Shipping Ltd., an affiliate of Pioneer Grain, a division of James Richardson and Sons, acquired her and her fleet mate Senneville. Misener Transportation Ltd. of St. Catharines managed the vessels.

With the new owners came the distinctive Pioneer Shipping colour scheme – red and orange hulls, yellow forecastles, white cabins with ‘JR’ on the stacks, and white-lettered ‘Pioneer’ painted on the sides of the hulls.

Silver Isle was the first major Great Lakes vessel constructed with all accommodations aft, maximizing her lift capabilities and enabling her to carry almost 25,500 tonnes of cargo in six gigantic holds.

Between 1991 and 1994, the Silver Isle was operated by Great Lakes Bulk Carriers Inc., a consortium of shipowners comprising the bulker fleets of Canada Steamship Lines, Misener Holdings and Pioneer Shipping. The short-lived venture aimed to cut costs but collapsed in 1994, opening up the opportunity for Algoma Central Marine, of St. Catharines, to buy the Silver Isle and Senneville from Pioneer Shipping for a bargain-basement cost of $5.7 million.

After the sale to Algoma Central Marine, the ship was renamed Algoisle and, on June 1, 1994, officially became a part of the Algoma Central fleet. During the next six seasons she mainly carried cargoes in the iron ore and grain trades but also handled diverse commodities such as cement, bauxite, sugar and petcoke. On Dec. 21, 2000, with the downturn in grain shipments, she tied up in Toronto and was used for storage until 2004.

With economic conditions improving over the next three seasons, her owners decided to move her to Hamilton in December 2003 for winter lay-up and repairs to prepare for re-entry into service in spring 2004. Departing Hamilton on April 24 of that year, she set course for Thunder Bay for her first grain cargo in almost four long years.

Capt. O’Donoughue has been the Algoisle’s master since 2007.

“Though it’s sad to see the ship go, as it is with all ships, she has done her time and service,” he said. “She was built to be a workhorse of the Great Lakes. It’s amazing to think this ship has sailed roughly 1.5 million miles in her career, equivalent to about 60 circumnavigations around the Earth, carrying a staggering 20 million tonnes of cargo up and down the lakes.”

It is hard to curb Capt. O’Donoughue’s enthusiasm for his ship, describing her as the leading edge in technology when launched in 1963. “The ship was the first to have a large slow speed diesel engine in lieu of a steam plant (standard installation at the time) and the first with a controllable pitch propeller,” he said. “She was designed for operating in extreme winter weather with a state-of-the-art heating and insulation system ideally suited for the lakes.”

Capt. O’Donoughue said the bow is heavy-ice strengthened, with a ‘wave-breaking shear’ that left the bow area dry and free of spray in heavy seas.

“There is still a lot of life left in the ship as cargo carriers are concerned. The vessel was designed and built to last well over the years. At times I am amazed as I walk through the ship – the strength that was put into the hull and the durability of equipment like windlasses and winches.

“With changing economic times, new government regulations on ballast water, new fuel emissions regulations combined with greatly improved fuel efficiency of engines and equipment, most of the older fleet will be phased out over the over the next decade and will be replaced by newer and more efficient ships.”

Alongside Capt. O’Donoughue on the last voyage from Thunder Bay was chief engineer Waclaw Janda, with 25 years of engineering experience, and first mate John Hewetson, with 53 years at sea and 37 seasons of trading into Thunder Bay.

Sailing a distance of 1,876 nautical miles through four of the five Great Lakes and four connecting rivers, the Algoisle arrived at Port Cartier early on Christmas Day. She commenced discharging operations on Dec. 26 and then sailed for Montreal on Dec. 28.

She arrived in Montreal for the last time on Dec. 30. Capt. O’Donoughue will be placed in command of another Algoma fleet ship this coming spring.

Algoisle will remain in long-term lay-up until she is sold to new owners. Her future is still to be determined.

Canadian Sailings


Port Reports - January 17

Marquetee, Mich. – Lee Rowe
The open harbor in Marquette has allowed shipping to continue above the locks as the Michipicoten arrived on Friday evening for a load of taconite.

Escanaba, Mich. – Lee Rowe
Escanaba continues its busy shipping season with Joseph L. Block and H. Lee White at the dock on Friday and the Joyce VanEnkevort and Great Lakes Trader there on Saturday.


Supreme Court takes no action on Asian carp

1/17 - Detroit, Mich. – The U.S. Supreme Court, which met Friday in a closed conference, took no action on the Michigan attorney general’s request for an injunction to shut down Chicago-area locks to keep Asian carp out. The court is closed Monday. No dates are set for the court to decide on the injunction or even whether to accept the case.

Michigan is seeking to reopen a case first filed in 1922 by the state of Wisconsin against Illinois over the building of a shipping canal that diverted water from Lake Michigan. Four states — Wisconsin, New York, Minnesota and Ohio — have joined Michigan asking for a shutdown to protect the Great Lakes from bighead and silver carp, which are considered to be voracious feeders that could wreck the lakes’ ecosystem. Illinois and the U.S. government oppose Michigan’s request and say the case should not be heard by the Supreme Court, but by a lower court.

Evidence of Asian carp has been found within a mile of Lake Michigan at the Wilmette pumping station north of Chicago, as well as the O’Brien lock leading to Lake Michigan. Barge operators and marinas argue closing the locks would severely restrict their business, while Michigan and other states say their fishing and tourism industries would be harmed if carp move in.

"We are very pleased with the response we are getting from people concerned about the Great Lakes and look forward to the Supreme Court's decision,” said John Sellek, spokesman for Cox. Cox set up a Web site to urge Great Lakes residents to push for action against carp.

Detroit Free Press


Updates - January 17

Historical Perspective Gallery Viking and Cliffs Victory updated
Public Gallery updated


Today in Great Lakes History - January 17

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.


Roger Blough closes Soo Locks, Algosar spends Friday stuck in ice

1/16 - Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.3 p.m. update - The tanker Algosar was freed from the ice-choked West Neebish Rock Cut Saturday morning with the added help of the USCG Mackinaw. Roger Blough, which spent the night tied to the Soo Locks East Center Pier, followed her down and was outbound at DeTour around 2 p.m. The tanker Algocanada was also outbound DeTour about the same time, and the Mackinaw was heading back to her Cheboygan, Mich., homeport. Meanwhile the tug Reliance and her barge were upbound in the lower St. Marys River, with the tug Wilfred M. Cohen. Michipicoten was unloading at Essar Algoma and Great Lakes Trader was loading in Escanaba at mid-afternoon.

Original report - As expected, the downbound Roger Blough closed the Soo Locks shipping season Friday when she locked through around 6 p.m. She immediately tied up on the East Center Pier to wait for daylight. She will not be able to continue downriver until the tanker Algosar, which has been beset in the Rock Cut’s downbound channel since Thursday, is freed. Efforts by two USCG cutters on Friday were unsuccessful. Algosar had difficulty in the St. Clair River last week stuck for multiple days even with close Coast Guard escort.

Friday morning, Manitowoc, Evans McKeil with barge, Salvor and barge and Saginaw were all downbound in the vicinity of Neebish Island, using the upbound channel. By 2 p.m., all had passed Lime Island. Algocanada spent the day unloading at Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.

Michipicoten departed Essar Algoma by midmorning and was headed upbound, meeting the Blough around 2 p.m. off Whitefish Point.

Elsewhere on Thursday, USCG Mackinaw was in her home port of Cheboygan, however late Thursday she was underway and may be headed to the St. Marys River to help free Algosar. Joseph L. Block and H. Lee White loaded in Escanaba and Canadian Transport was downbound in Lake Huron. Great Lakes Trader arrived at Escanaba in the late evening.

Roger LeLievre and Jerry Mason


U.S. Coast Guard ice breaking efforts complete a busy operational week

1/16 - Cleveland, Ohio - Ninth Coast Guard District cutters concluded a busy week of ice breaking operations on the Great Lakes, Friday, with a majority of this week's operations occurring on the Lake St. Clair River system.

A combination of five U.S. Coast Guard cutters broke paths for nearly 20 commercial vessels in the Lake St. Clair River system, which includes Lake St. Clair and the Detroit and St. Clair Rivers. All of the cutters opened channels and ensured the delivery of critical supplies of food and heating oil.

This week, Jan. 11-15, 2010, the Coast Guard facilitated approximately $80 million in commerce vital to the Great Lakes economy. In particular, Coast Guard cutters on Jan. 12, 2010, assisted freighters carrying 300,000 tons of cargo with an estimated value of $20 million.

"The ice choked up the St. Clair River this year much sooner than usual, and we recommended that shippers not transit without a Coast Guard escort," said Lt. Cmdr. Brian Donahue, Chief of Domestic Ice Breaking, Ninth Coast Guard District. "At the end of the day, it's all about getting people and their product there safely."

U.S. Coast Guard Cutters Neah Bay, homeported in Cleveland; Penobscot Bay, home-ported in Bayonne, N.J., but temporarily home-ported here for the winter; Hollyhock, homeported in Port Huron, Mich.; the Bristol Bay, home-ported in Detroit, and the Mackinaw, home-ported in Cheboygan, Mich., coordinated operations to create navigable tracks for commercial vessels to transit. The commercial vessels then transited one after another in an order determined by each vessel's horsepower.

All five cutters were underway in support of Operation Coal Shovel, which encompasses southern Lake Huron, St. Clair/Detroit River systems and Lakes Erie and Ontario, including the St. Lawrence Seaway. Operation Taconite, the other icebreaking mission on the Great Lakes, encompasses Lake Superior, the St. Marys River, the Straits of Mackinac, Lake Michigan and northern Lake Huron.

The Coast Guard cutters Katmai Bay and Biscayne Bay, under Operation Taconite, assisted the tanker Algocanada, while the Canadian Coast Guard Ship Griffon assisted the Neebish Island ferry and then headed to work the St. Clair River.

Operations Coal Shovel and Taconite direct icebreaking resources to the highest priority areas and missions based on the most current ice conditions.



Port Reports - January 16

Sturgeon Bay, Wis. - Wendell Wilke
Edwin H. Gott arrived at the Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal shortly before noon, heading for Bay Shipbuilding Co. for winter Layup. As she reached the Oregon and Michigan Street bridges she encountered heavy ice, thus needing assistance from the tug Jimmy L. After getting underway, she again ran into ice problems between the two bridges causing more downtime, and reached the yard about 4 p.m. She was berthed at the face of the dock in line with the channel, which required the Arthur M. Anderson to be moved out, which was done with the tugs Susan L., Mary E. Hannah and Bayship.

Milwaukee, Wis. - John N. Vogel
American Steamship's H. Lee White entered the inner harbor shortly after 9 a.m. Wednesday morning with a load of coal discharged at WE Energies Greenfield Avenue dock. The White departed at about 18:45 for Escanaba.


Updates - January 16

Public Gallery 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 tender’s 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.


Ice causing some trouble at the Soo; Locks close for the season at midnight

1/15 - 2 p.m. update - Friday morning, Manitowoc, Evans McKeil/barge, Salvor/barge and Saginaw were all downbound in the vicinity of Neebish Island, using the upbound channel. By 2 p.m., all had passed Lime Island and were headed out of the river. The tanker Algosar was still stuck fast in the Rock Cut in the downbound channel, with the USCG Biscayne Bay abd Katmai Bay assisting.

Michipicoten departed Essar Algoma by midmorning and was headed upbound, meeting the downbound Roger Blough around 2 p.m. off Whitefish Point.

USCG Mackinaw was in her home port of Cheboygan, Joseph L. Block and H. Lee White were loading in Escanaba and Canadian Transport was downbound in Lake Huron.

Original Report - The ice-choked waters around Essar Algoma were busy Thursday, with McKee Sons, Manitowoc and Saginaw, plus plus the tugs Evans McKeil, Salvor and their barges all in the area. McKee Sons left late in the day downbound, however the Michipicoten arrived at the plant around 6 p.m.

Indiana Harbor was upbound in the early afternoon.

Later in the day, the tanker Algosar, which had departed its unloading dock in Soo, Canada, was stuck downbound in the West Neebish channel at the lower end of the Rock Cut. Hence McKee Sons proceeded down the upbound channel, with Biscayne Bay leading. The Evans McKeil and Salvor with their barges spent the night on the Soo Locks East Center pier. Late in the evening the upbound tanker Algocanada appeared to be hove to near Lime Island, with the Biscayne Bay and Katmai Bay a few miles above her position, most likely waiting for first light to resume their ice battle. Alsosar will probably remain where she is until morning as well.

Meanwhile, Roger Blough was downbound on Lake Superor Thursday and was expected at the locks in plenty of time to beat the midnight Friday closing time. The Soo Locks will reopen March 25, meanwhile the downtime will be used for maintenance.


Most traffic moving in ice-clogged St. Clair River

1/15 - Edwin H. Gott and Mesabi Miner cleared the lower river Wednesday night and were upbound on lower Lake Huron at 8 a.m. Thursday. John J. Boland had passed downbound and was at Grassy Island. Edgar B. Speer was also downbound, passing Harsens Island heading for Conneaut, Ohio. USCG Neah Bay escorted the Speer to Pelee Passage on Lake Erie.

At 10 p.m. Thursday, the tug Reliance and barge – after struggling in the ice most of the day – were waiting in the channel off Harsen’s Island to resume their upbound trip at daylight, most likely assisted by the USCG Penobscot Bay, which was stopped in Algonac for the night. The tug Patricia Hoey was also on the scene, but was headed back to Detroit at 10 p.m.

The Canadian Coast Guard Ship Griffon arrived downbound 10:45 to assist. Normally the Canadian Coast Guard Ship Samuel Risley can be found working the area when ice conditions become difficult but she is in Sarnia undergoing repairs that are expected to be completed the last week of January.

Icebreaker Mackinaw passed the crib light around 10 a.m. and proceeded upbound; by 4 p.m. she was in lower Lake Huron heading for her home port of Cheboygan, Mich. Canadian Transport was up at the crib light at 3 p.m. and entered cut around 4 p.m. She cleared Russell Island about 5:30 p.m., the last upbounder for the day.

The tug Dorothy Ann and barge Pathfinder successfully transited the St. Clair and Detroit rivers, and were inbound at Toledo late Thursday night.


Port Reports - January 15

Duluth, Minn. - Ed Labernik
Roger Blough departed Duluth Thursday. After many mechanical problems, the Blough passed under the Aerial Lift Bridge at 13:41, CDT, downbound for Gary. She was assisted by the tug Edward H. to get through the ice floes.

Sturgeon Bay, Wis. - Wendell Wilke and Scott Best
Early Thursday morning, CSL Laurentien arrived at Bayship building for winter layup. Laurentien arrived at the Sturgeon Bay ship canal entrance around 6 a.m., and by 9 a.m. they were just about into Berth 9 at the shipyard for layup. The Selvick tugs Jimmy L and Susan L assisted the Laurentien as she arrived and into her layup slip. This is believed to be the first time the Laurentien has transited the ship canal.

Sarnia, Ont. - Barry Hiscocks
Cuyahoga arrived Thursday for lay-up at the north end of the North Slip. Saginaw and Manitowoc are expected to lay-up in port within the next week.

Toledo , Ohio - Jim Hoffman
Thursday afternoon John J. Boland arrived for winter lay-up at the Old Interlake Iron. The tug Dorothy Ann with the barge Pathfinder are due into the Torco Ore Dock late on Thursday. This will be the last ore boat of the 2009 season for this dock site.


13 ships to winter in Twin Ports

1/15 - Duluth, Minn. – The Twin Ports will have a lucky 13 ships staying over this winter. That’s normal, says Duluth Seaway Port Authority Facilities Manager Jim Sharrow. What is unusual is that three of those ships, the American Victory, Kaye E. Barker and St. Clair…didn’t leave port all season. And a fourth ship…the Edward L. Ryerson…stopped working in May.

Sharrow says that could mean less work on the 13 ships.

Sharrow says usually they figure each laker contributes from half a million to $800,000 to the local economy during winter lay-up.

The Soo Locks close Friday, ending the Lake Superior shipping season. That’s when the Indiana Harbor is expected to pull up at the Enbridge Dock. The last ship into the Twin Ports this season is expected to be the Edwin H. Gott docking at the Port Terminal.

Six ships will spend the winter at Fraser Shipyards, but three are the ships that have been tied up all season.

91.3 KUWS


Lee Murdock sings the stories of the Great Lakes

1/15 - Lee Murdock grew up in Algonquin, Lombard and Barrington before settling down after college in rural Kaneville, Ill., at the western edge of Kane County. Since 1980 he has recorded over a dozen albums - his latest, "The View From the Harbor" was released in 2009 - most with strong ties to the music and songs of the Great Lakes.

"What I often make sure people understand is that I'm a folksinger, not a sailor," said Murdock. "At an early age I was indoctrinated with folk music. I learned all different types of American and Irish folk songs, but I have been focused on the Great Lakes maritime music for close to 25 years. I liked the sense of place that many of these songs had and that's what keeps me really excited about folk music in general."

Murdock calls the Great Lakes the most dangerous waters on the planet, but he says the songs he presents are much more than just tales of storms and shipwrecks.

"It's average everyday experiences: food, characters, beautiful vistas, loneliness, as well as storms and human frailty that leads to making mistakes out on the water."

For his appearance in Illinois this weekend Murdock promises a concert of Great Lakes folk music with an emphasis on local history, that of Chicago and Lake Michigan.

"If I'm in Cleveland, I focus on Lake Erie. It makes it fun to adapt to the local area."

Songs he'll likely sing include "I Am Still Here" about the 1891 mystery schooner Thomas Hume and "Lost On The Lady Elgin," a historic ballad describing the fate of the Chicago-bound vessel which sunk off the shores of Winnekta in 1860.

Drawing from a repertoire of over 200 traditional and original songs, Murdock said it's not too late in the season to sing his audience favorite, "The Christmas Ship."

"It's just an amazing story and invariably I get requests for that year-round," he said.

Although born in a downtown Chicago hospital located on Erie Street, Murdock credits finding his niche in Great Lakes maritime music with the discovery of the traditional 19th and 20th century songs collected from 1930 to 1959 by the late Professor Ivan Walton of the University of Michigan.

"I started to study those songs and adapt them for the stage and the classroom and that has been the foundation of my life's work over the last 20 years or so," he said.

Murdock first picked up a guitar at age 11 while living in Barrington. He started playing for money in 1973 while studying geology at Drake University in Des Moines.

He credits his selection of careers to Joanne Murdock, his wife of 31 years who has served as his manager/agent since 1984.

"She saw the fact that I really loved this music and wanted it to be a large part of my life. She told me she didn't want me to go to grad school, she thought I ought to try music first."

One of Murdock's first songs was "The Ghost In Blue," an American Civil War ballad.

"When I find a story that speaks of heroism or has a very interesting human angle it sometimes ends up in a song."

Murdock said as his reputation grew he was invited to sail on every kind of vessel from three-masted schooners to some of the big freighters. "The Lady Of Old Maumee Bay," from his new album is based on such a trip.

"I saw the lighthouse at Toledo Harbor from the deck of a 765-footlong iron ore freighter. Seeing that lighthouse, on its own man-made island with small craft pirouetting around it almost like a lady presiding over a ball in the mid-19th century, proved inspiring."

Over the years Murdock has performed on vessels in each of the five Great Lakes.

"But I never sing shipwreck songs when I'm on a floating stage."

Lee Murdock performs at 7 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 17 at El Barrio Restaurant & Lounge, 1122 Diamond Lake Road, Mundelein. $12. (847) 271-1584 or or



Coast Guard to begin ice rescue training Jan. 21 near Bay City State Park

1/15 - Bay City, Mich. – The U.S. Coast Guard Station Saginaw River in Essexville will conduct ice rescue training in the vicinity of Bay City State Park from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on four consecutive Thursdays from Jan. 21 to Feb. 11.

The training, part of the Coast Guard’s annual Ice Rescue Train the Trainer course, involves simulated rescues, said Petty Officer 1st Class Danny Graves. Residents and visitors in the area should keep in mind that the exercises involve setting off white parachute flares, Graves said.

Station Saginaw River personnel have cut two holes in the ice which they have marked with retro-reflective tape, he said. “We conduct this training to maintain our legacy mission of saving lives and protecting the environment,” said Master Chief Petty Officer Gerald Backus, officer in charge. “We are ‘guardians’ and must train in the environment that we operate to provide the best service to the Great Lakes communities.”

The Bay City Times


Door County Marine Museum hosts workshop

1/15 - Sturgeon Bay, Wisc. – Door County Maritime Museum is presenting a workshop in Artifact Conservation, Curation & Interpretation. The workshop begins on February 6 and will meet each Saturday. This 7-week workshop is designed to give interested adults and students a hands-on experience with the procedures, techniques, and processes a museum uses to professionally curate an artifact in its collection.

The course is laid out chronologically to follow an artifact from acquisition to display. Subjects include artifact photography, measuring, researching, conservation, drawing, and museum curation. Each participant will take a museum artifact through the processes from start to finish. Participants interested in expanding their knowledge in the field of history, archaeology, museum work or other related fields will find the course fascinating and useful. Volunteers interested in working with artifacts and those simply interested in how museums document and conserve artifacts are also encouraged to apply.

The workshop is limited to the first 12 applicants. Cost for the workshop is $50 for Museum members and $75 for guests. The price includes all needed materials. For more information visit


Boatnerd passes 17 million mark

1/15 - Thursday 17,000,000 visits had been recorded to the main page of the Great Lakes & Seaway Shipping home page. The counter was started as the page was launched in 1995.

It is interesting to note that the first month the page was live in 1995, 590 visits were recorded. This counter was started as the page was launched in 1995 and topped one million visits in October 2000, two million in November 2001, three million in September, 2002, four million in June, 2003, five million in February, 2004, six million in October, 2004, seven million in June, 2005, eight million in December, 2005, 9 million in June, 2006, 10 million in November 2006, 11 million in May 2007, 12 million in November, 2007, 13 million in April 2008, 14 million in October, 2008, 15 million in March, 2009, 16 million in August, 2009.

The counter only records visits to the main page, all web pages on the site (not including the discussion boards) average over 1.75 million page views per month.

The site represents a huge time commitment by the staff of volunteers and we would like to thank to all the viewers and contributors for making the web site what it is today.

In 2006, Great Lakes & Seaway Shipping Online, Inc. was organized as a 501 (c) (3) non-profit to support the BoatNerd site.



Updates - January 15

News Photo Gallery
Lay-up list updated - please send updates to
Public Gallery updated


Today in Great Lakes History - January 15

In 1978, the upbound 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 canaller") 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.


St. Clair River ice breaking continued Wednesday

1/14 - Algonac, Mich. - 8 a.m. update - The Gott and Miner cleared the lower river overnight and were upbound on lower Lake Huron at 8 a.m. The Boland had passed downbound and was at Grassy Island. Edgar B. Speer was downbound passing Harsens Island heading for Conneaut.

Tug Reliance and barge were waiting in Lake St. Clair to pass upbound with the tug Patricia Hoey Mackinaw was expected to reach them around 10 a.m.

Original Report
Wednesday afternoon the USCG cutters Penobscot Bay, Bristol Bay and Mackinaw were all working to get Michipicoten and Cuyahoga through channel off Harsens Island.

The two vessels departed Detroit in convoy Wednesday morning and entered the cut off at 9:25. About 10 a.m. they began requiring close escort in the South Channel, becoming stuck at times. The difficulties continued off Russell Island and with assistance finally cleared the river by 4:30 p.m.

Edwin H. Gott left Detroit upbound and at 1 p.m. and stopped off the Crib Light waiting for Algoeast to clear downbound about 7 p.m.

Algoeast was assisted by the Mackinaw, Penobscot Bay and Bristol Bay and cleared the St. Clair Cutoff Channel about 7 p.m., as Mesabi Miner arrived behind the Gott. USCG Neah Bay was upbound for the lower river heading to Algonac to stop for the night. Penobscot Bay also stopped for the night at Algonac while the Mackinaw headed to Windsor and the Bristol Bay to Detroit.

Gott and Miner slugged it out in the ice late into the night without assistance, getting stuck in the Southeast Bend near Harsen’s Island, backing and ramming to make progress. Early Thursday morning they were making slow progress near Russell Island.  Both vessels are headed to Sturgeon Bay for winter lay-up

John J. Boland was downbound for Toledo and stopped off Recor Point in the St. Clair River.

Please send pictures to


Recession trims 2009 U.S.-Flag lakes cargos almost 35 percent

1/14 - Cleveland - The recession that engulfed the U.S. economy in 2009 significantly slowed the pace of U.S.-Flag shipping on the Great Lakes. The major U.S.-Flag carriers hauled 66.5 million tons of dry-bulk cargo in 2009, a decrease of 34.2 percent compared to 2008. The decline was even greater when compared to the industry’s five-year average of 37.8 percent.

The largest drop off came in iron ore cargos for the steel industry. The fleet moved only 24 million tons in 2009, a decrease of almost 50 percent compared to 2008. However, the 2008 total was deflated by the recession that began in the fall of that year. In times of booming demand for steel, such as 1998, the U.S.-Flag Lakes fleet hauled 63.5 million tons of iron ore. Compared to that year, the 2009 float was down more than 60 percent.

Coal cargos were down 17 percent compared to a year ago. In addition to the weak economy that lowered demand for electricity from industrial users, the coal trade was impacted by a generally cool summer and fewer exports to Canada. In 2009, U.S.-Flag lakers delivered 1.2 million tons of coal to Canadian customers. Just a few years ago - 2005 - coal exports to Canada in U.S. bottoms approached 5 million tons.

The 28-percent decrease in limestone cargos primarily reflects the struggles of the construction industry, but also reduced demand for fluxstone from the steel industry.

Two commodities actually registered tiny increases in 2009. The salt trade was up by 36,000 tons and grain cargos increased by 57,000 tons. Nonetheless, demand was so shaken by the recession that seven U.S.-Flag lakers never operated in 2009.

Lake Carriers' Association


Duluth-Superior Shipping Season winds down; Last 3 lakers headed in for winter layup

1/14 - Duluth, Minn. – As the shipping winds down this week, the Port of Duluth-Superior, the Great Lakes, and the entire Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway System are closing the books on one of the most difficult navigation seasons in the waterway’s history. The recession hammered the construction, automotive, steel and appliance industries in the U.S. and Canada reducing demand for raw materials. All sectors of the freight industry felt the ill effects, in particular, maritime.

“Mid-summer, we thought the Port might reach 34 million short tons this year,” noted Adolph Ojard, executive director of the Duluth Seaway Port Authority. “But it looks like we’ll end up closer to 31 million tons once the navigation season closes.”

While final tonnage figures for the 2009 navigation season for the Port of Duluth-Superior won’t be available until next week, here is a recap of where things stood through December:

Overall tonnage for Duluth-Superior off 32 percent from last year
Largest decline in Iron Ore – lagging 57 percent behind last year’s numbers
Coal tonnage running 17 percent behind last year
Grain up some 32 percent from this time last year
Other commodities off just over 21 percent (e.g. limestone, cement, salt, etc. + general cargo/freight)

Local declines in tonnage mirror those reported at ports across the Great Lakes. The largest drop came in iron ore cargos for the steel industry. The Port of Duluth-Superior will top 8 million tons handled locally by the end of this navigation season, less than half the ore shipments for 2008.

As reported recently by the Lake Carriers’ Association, iron ore shipments on the Great Lakes, long the backbone of the navigation system, fell to their lowest level in 71 years in 2009. Iron ore cargoes totaled only 31,792,629 short tons – off 50 percent compared to 2008, and the lowest level recorded since 1938 when the trade finished the year at 21,574,573 tons.” (Note: Duluth-Superior recorded 11,642,507 short tons in ’38).

Ojard sounded hopeful for the upcoming shipping season. “It (2009) was a tough year for maritime on our inland waterway. But signs indicate an uptick in demand. Some regional steel mills began re-firing blast furnaces near year-end, Keetac resumed operations and steel prices have shown some firming. We actually had lakers moving product this month compared to this time last year, when no ore moved in January. Signs are positive that by mid-2010 we will start seeing shipments of iron ore, limestone and coal rebounding to levels of previous years.”

Though the Seaway system may not see the same volume of ‘salties’ due to a weakened U.S. dollar and decreased demand for imports in the Lower Lakes (e.g. steel), Ojard anticipates greater activity in inbound wind turbine shipments, which bodes well for backhauls of grain to Northern Europe and the Mediterranean. “If the economy continues to move forward, the Port of Duluth-Superior should be much nearer a 40 million-ton mark for overall tonnage at this time next year.”

Duluth Seaway Port Authority


Cleveland: 'Nose surgery' on the Miller Ferry

1/14 - Cleveland, Ohio – The nautical surgery is being performed on the Miller Ferry Put In Bay at the Great Lakes Shipyard on the banks of the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland. After chopping off the nose of the boat, the crews are adding 40 feet to its deck. The bow was to be re-attached Wednesday morning.

Despite the recession in Northeast Ohio, the Miller Ferry Boat Line that services South Bass and Middle Bass Islands has been doing well. Business has been so good that the company decided that it needed a bigger ferry to accommodate the increased traffic to South Bass Island.

Scott Market, vice president of the Miller Boat Line, looked at the big ferry in the dry dock and said, "We are very blessed with our business. I don't know what else to say." Market added, "At the beginning of this season, no one was sure how things were going to be with this economy. We did great."

The 40-foot section was fabricated inside the yard at the Great Lakes Shipyard and then carefully positioned to the hull.

Great Lakes Shipyard Project Engineer Thomas Perk stepped ashore from the floating workstation and said, "Now that it's in place, right now we're just aligning everything. That’s the detailed part, making sure every inch, every millimeter, matches and lines up perfectly." Added Perk, "So far, so good."

All of the work on the ferry is being supervised by the U. S. Coast Guard Marine Inspection Unit, headquartered in Cleveland.

U.S.C.G inspector Nick Suvak said, "We've been checking the welds and inspecting the steel, making sure that it's the proper grade of steel and making sure it's American-made." The addition will make the Put In Bay 136 feet overall. Ferry Captain David Bianchi will be at the helm in the spring when the ferry is ready for delivery back to South Bass Island.

Bianchi said, "Every boat has its own personality and it handles differently than every other boat."

"This will be our biggest boat," said Bianchi. "I remember the first time I got on the Islander, which was the first of our bigger boats at the time. I stood on the bridge and thought, 'my God, this thing is huge!' Of course, it was much smaller than this boat."

Captain Bianchi says handling the new boat will be "exciting, and at times challenging."

As the bow of the boat rose high into the air, Market looked up and said, "I have a lot of pride that we're a tight run family business. All our employees are local and we work together as a big family." Added Market, "This is big for all of us."

2010 WKYC-TV



Port Reports - January 14

Twin Ports – Al Miller
James R. Barker arrived at the Midwest Energy Terminal on Tuesday, Jan. 12, for winter layup. The ice jam in the St. Clair River is changing vessel schedules and may affect some layup berths. Duluth-based Great Lakes Fleet reported that Edgar B. Speer is due in Conneaut on Friday, ice permitting, and then will lay up in Erie on Friday or Saturday; Edwin H. Gott is due at Sturgeon Bay on Friday; Presque Isle was due in Conneaut on Wednesday and then was expected in Erie on Thursday; and Roger Blough was expected to remain in Duluth until Thursday and then was to proceed to Gary to unload on Sunday. No word on the reason for the delay, but the dock appears to be stockpiling pellets without any trouble. The Blough was scheduled to lay up in Duluth but that now may not be possible. American Mariner arrived at Fraser Shipyards in Superior overnight Jan. 12 for winter layup. American Integrity arrived in Duluth late in the afternoon of Jan. 13 to lay up at Garfield D dock.

Marquette, Mich. - Rod Burdick
Shipping continues at the Upper Harbor ore dock as Saginaw arrived and loaded taconite Wednesday morning. Loads are scheduled into the weekend.

St. Marys River
Wednesday traffic includes Walter J.McCarthy Jr., Evans McKeil and barge Salvor and McKee Sons upbound and Burns Harbor downbound. Salvor and McKee Songs went to Essar Algoma; Algosar was unloading at her Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., dock.



Updates - January 14

News Photo Gallery


Today in Great Lakes History - January 14

On this day in 1970, 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 icebreaker 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 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, 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, 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.


St. Clair River traffic on the move, thanks to icebreakers

1/13 - Algonac, Mich. - With the ice jam that had stalled vessels since Saturday finally broken, downbound vessels that had been held at anchor above Port Huron were released Tuesday morning to resume their trips.

About 11:10 a.m., Edwin H. Gott was plowing through the heaviest ice off Russell Island with the USCG Neah Bay and USCG Mackinaw leading the way. The Gott's speed dropped to just under six knots at the difficult turn at Russell Island, but she was still moving and began to gain speed in the South Channel off Harsen's Island. At 11:20, Mesabi Miner entered the turn at Russell Island with Kaministiqua tucked in close behind. With the 105-foot wide track left by the Gott, the Miner and Kaministiqua passed easily through the area, only slowing a few miles per hour. Canadian Transport also made it through the area with little difficulty.

Mackinaw, Neah Bay and USCG Bristol Bay were working the lower part of the river in an area between Southeast Bend and the Cutoff Channel leading into Lake St. Clair. The Gott made the turn at Southeast Bend and into the Cutoff Channel without losing speed, at noon she was half way through the channel and had slowed a few knots, but was regaining that speed. At 12:30 p.m., she had reached Lake St. Clair.

The second group of the convoy, led by Presque Isle, reached the channel off Russell Island at 12:15 and passed downbound with no issues. Charles M. Beeghly passed Russell Island about 12:30 and reported a problem cooling the engines. A common issue in winter navigation is deep brash ice clogging cooling water intakes located deep on a vessel's hull. The problem was quickly resolved and the Beeghly continued on without delay, while fleetmate Lee A. Tregurtha passed Russell Island at 12:50. Samuel de Champlain and Innovation passed Russell Island shortly after 1 p.m. as the last vessel in the downbound convoy.

The tug Reliance and barge were moving slowly in the upper river and were no longer part of the convoy; the tug Manitou was escorting the tug and barge to Detroit. They were joined in the lower river by the USCG cutter Penobscot Bay.

After the downbounders cleared, Mackinaw returned upbound on Lake St. Clair and a waiting upbound convoy got underway about 2 p.m. with Algoeast leading Manitowoc and McKee Sons. They cleared the lower St. Clair River without incident about 6:30 p.m. Mackinaw turned downbound to assist the Bristol Bay and Hollyhock with the Reliance escort. The tug and barge had been working through the lower river since 3 p.m. and entered Lake St. Clair at 9 p.m.

Neah Bay accompanied the downbound convoy, breaking off below to the Detroit River Light about 8 p.m. to escort Michipicoten upbound through the east outer channel and Detroit River.

On Monday, a backlog of icebound lakers headed upbound were released. The ice has also hampered ferry service to Harsens Island.

The urgent need felt on Sunday for ice breaking has now faded, as many vessels are heading to lay-up with the Jan. 15 closing of the Soo Locks.

Meanwhile, traffic was light on the St. Marys River, with American Mariner and Dorothy Ann/Pathfinder upbound. The USCG cutter Katmai Bay remained on station in the lower river.

Please send pictures to


Port Reports - January 13

Marquette, Mich. - Rod Burdick
Dorothy Ann and Pathfinder loaded taconite and departed the Upper Harbor ore dock Tuesday morning. Dock workers were unsure if the load would be the last of season. If the load stands as the last, tug and barge units will have opened and closed the Upper Harbor for the 2009-2010 shipping season. Joyce L. VanEnkevort and Great Lakes Trader opened the Upper Harbor on March 27, 2009.

St. Marys River
Tuesday traffic included American Integrity upbound and Algocanada downbound during the morning. Dorothy Ann and Pathfinder were headed for the locks around midnight, and Walter J. McCarthy Jr. was upbound at Neebish Island. The CCGS Griffon was standing by to assist traffic in the lower river if needed.

Detroit - Mark Shumaker
Lee A. Tregurtha anchored off Nicholson's Terminal for the night. When the Charles M. Beeghly finishes unloading at Severstal, it will winter at Nicholson's Terminal and the Tregurtha will tie up alongside Beeghly.

Toledo, Ohio - Jim Hoffman
The revised schedule for the Torco Ore Dock has Mesabi Miner due in early Wednesday morning followed by the tug Dorothy Ann and barge Pathfinder on Thursday evening. The barge Pathfinder is the last ore boat scheduled into the Torco Ore Dock for the 2009 shipping season. Charles M. Beeghly was cancelled due to the delays caused by the St. Clair River ice jam. American Fortitude, American Valor and American Republic are in winter layup. Winter 2010 will see the lowest number of boats in winter layup that the Port of Toledo has ever seen.


Duluth’s Vista Fleet too large, owners say

1/13 - Duluth, Minn. – The owners of the Vista Fleet are looking to sell at least one of their three cruise boats to streamline operations.

“We’re trying to decide whether we had too much inventory or not,” said John Goldfine, spokesman for the family business, which provides harbor cruises in Duluth and Superior. “We’re considering our options.”

Targeted for sale is the Vista King, the fleet’s oldest boat that did most of the fleet’s sightseeing tours and can carry 200 passengers. “We’re looking at putting it up for sale, but we haven’t made a decision yet,” Goldfine said. “It’s an older boat, and it doesn’t fit with the plan.”

While the Vista Star, the largest and most popular boat, won’t be sold, Goldfine said they may put both the Vista King and the Vista Queen the smallest boat with a 70-passenger capacity up up for sale at the same time and see which sells first.

The move is to increase efficiency, Goldfine said. “It’s not like business is terrible and we’re desperate,” he said “We’re having a philosophical change. We’re trying different strategies.”

Indeed, attendance has held relatively stable at 80,000 to 100,000 passengers a season for some time, according to Sarah Steinbach, the fleet’s sales director. “The economy has not affected us,” she said of Duluth’s tourism industry. Rather, there were too many cruises, too many options for passengers. And often, cruise boats departed with only 50 to 100 passengers, far short of capacity. The largest, the Vista Star, can carry 250 passengers.

“We were running so many times,” Goldfine said. “The problem was customers were getting downright confused. We’re trying to simplify the product, with less cruises with more capacity.”

Gene Shaw of Visit Duluth doesn’t think the fleet reduction will hurt tourism. “They’re their own competition,” he said. “Some people would go on one boat, some on the other boat. So they were running two boats and attracting the same customers. This way, you’re only fueling one boat.”

But Shaw said harbor cruises in a working port like Duluth are important for the visitor experience, not only to get out on the big lake but to learn about the port’s history. “Every time I take the cruise, I learn something new,” he said.

Duluth News Tribune


Ontario ferry study released

1/13 - Port Burwell, Ont. – The results are in on an international ferry service feasibility study and they are getting mixed reviews.

Bayham, Ontario, officials released the report to the public this week on the municipal Web site, and Bayham Council is expected to discuss it at a meeting Thursday. The council may decide whether to proceed with the impact portion of the study.

The report, prepared by Canadian-based CPCS Transcom Limited, assessed the market feasibility of a ferry service across Lake Erie between Port Burwell and four potential U.S. ports: Fairport Harbor, Ashtabula, Cleveland and Erie, Pa. In the report, feasibility was defined as being able to operate on an ongoing basis with sufficient traffic to cover costs.

The consultant looked at how fast, costly and reliable the service would be relative to driving around either end of Lake Erie, and the value of such a proposition to shippers and passengers as well.

The overall assessment by CPCS indicates that the most promising type of service to offer, on the basis of cost savings, would be a ferry running year-round between Port Burwell and Fairport Harbor or Cleveland.

In addition, the assessment states that:

• Some stakeholders consulted have indicated interest in a ferry service as outlined, even given the potential for minimal cost savings.

• The study analysis was presented with consideration for potential changes in underlying assumptions, including trucking rates, interest rates and energy costs.

• Neither cross-lake ferry service nor the market for such services is proven.

• Few ferry services in Canada operate on commercial terms. In most instances, governments subsidize both the capital and operating costs of ferries for reasons of interregional equity, economic development, environmental and other social benefits, including removing heavy trucks from highways. If the Port Burwell ferry cannot be operated on a commercial basis, government support based on public policy objectives is the alternative.

"While such a service is feasible, it must be viewed as speculative. Put another way, the proposed ferry service is neither a clear winner nor a clear loser and the risks are high," the report states.

The study lists options to improve market feasibility of the ferry service, including the government providing time-limited financial support to promote a successful start-up. The objective would be to provide enough time for the service to attract sufficient traffic to become viable without government support. There is no clear indication, however, that the service would survive once the period of financial support ends, according to the report.

"This option offers a possible way forward for the development of ferry service between Port Burwell and Ohio, given that this service would not likely be commercially viable on its own," the report said. "Should Bayham wish to proceed to Phase 2 of this study, the above option can be explored and developed further ... with the aim of defining a viable plan for a cross-Lake Erie ferry service."

Kent Kristensen, a Chagrin Falls resident who floated the ferry idea to area officials six years ago, took issue with the report. He is chairman of Ontario-based Seaport Management Corp., which is overseeing the project, and owner of Short Sea Lines, a private company that would operate the ferry service.

I think the report is pretty generic and it's analyzing a stand-alone ferry service versus what we have proposed, which is a full-fledged border crossing — an integrated transportation system. The difference between a stand-alone ferry and a system is we're considering more ships and better integrating highway, rail and other intermodal services. ... There's a huge difference."

He noted that the report has its redeeming qualities. "With the limited time they had to put this together, I can understand why many of these other aspects weren't considered," he said.

Mentor Council President Robert M. Shiner, who has touted the ferry service as a potential major economic development engine, also has reviewed the report.

"It doesn't say it's a failure, it just says it would be hard to make a profit unless you get the customers to sign on," he said. "The consultant is saying they don't have enough of the facts (about) who would be signing on. ... Really it's up to Bayham Council right now."

Bayham Administrator Kyle Kruger would only say, "We're satisfied that (the consultant has) given it an adequate review."

Grand River Village Mayor Chris Conley, whose community is working with Fairport Harbor and Mentor on the project, sent Bayham officials a lengthy response listing a number of "discrepancies" between the report and information he has acquired during the last several years.

He disputed figures involving capacity issues, profit margins needed by truckers, the ice impediment during winter months, transit times and more.

"We need to conclude this project to answer any and all future inquiries as to its viability," Conley said.

The full International Ferry Service Feasibility report can be viewed at

The News Herald


Updates - January 13

News Photo Gallery
Public Gallery updated


Today in Great Lakes History - January 13

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

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 re-board the ARUNDEL. The ARUNDEL sails today as the tug c.) ERIKA KOBASIC.

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


Downbound vessels tackle St. Clair River ice

1/12 - Algonac, Mich.7:30 p.m. update - The Mackinaw returned upbound on Lake St. Clair as the upbound convoy got underway about 2 p.m. with the Algoeast leading the Manitowoc and McKee Sons. They cleared the lower St. Clair River without incident about 6:30 p.m. Mackinaw turned downbound to assist the Bristol Bay and Hollyhock with the Reliance escort. The tug and barge had been working through the lower river Since 3 p.m.

1 p.m. Update - About 11:10 a.m. the Edwin H. Gott was plowing through the heaviest ice off Russell Island with the Neah Bay and Mackinaw leading the way in front of her. The Gott's speed had dropped to just under six knots at the difficult turn at Russel Island but she was still moving and began to gain speed in the South Channel off Harsen's Island. At 11:20 the Mesabi Miner entered the turn at Russell Island with the Kaministiqua tucked in close behind. With the 105-foot wide track left by the Gott, the Miner and Kaministiqua passed through the area only slowing a few miles per hour. The Canadian Transport also made it through the area with little difficulty.

The Mackinaw, Neah Bay and Bristol Bay were working the lower part of the river in an area between Southeast Bend and the Cutoff Channel leading into Lake St. Clair. The Gott made the turn at Southeast Bend and into the Cutoff Channel without losing speed, at noon she was half way through the channel and had slowed a few knots but was regaining that speed. At 12:30 she had reached Lake St. Clair.

The second group of the convoy, lead by the Presque Isle, reached the channel off Russell Island at 12:15 and passed downbound with no issues. Charles M. Beeghly passed Russell Island about 12:30 and reported a problem cooling the engines. A common cause in winter navigation is deep brash ice clogging to the cooling water intakes located deep on the vessel's hull. The problem was quickly resolved and the Beeghly continued on without delay while fleetmate Lee A. Tregurtha passed Russell Island at 12:50. The Samuel D. Champlain and Innovation passed Russell Island shortly after 1 p.m. as the last vessel in the downbound convoy.

The tug Reliance and barge were moving slowly in the upper river and were no longer part of the convoy, the tug Manitou will escort the tug and barge to Detroit. They were joined in the lower river by the cutter Penobscot Bay.

 Ice is now moving through the track made by the downbound vessels with patches of blue water appearing near Algonac.

10:30 a.m. update - Tuesday morning the St. Clair River was busy with the U.S. Coast Guard Cutters working in the lower river to prepare the channel for the flood of traffic downbound from the Lake Huron anchorage. At 8 a.m. the fleet at anchor was warmed up and falling in behind the 1000-foot Edwin H. Gott. Gott was chosen to the lead the packed in an order that was based on vessel horsepower.

The cutters Mackinaw, Bristol Bay, Neah Bay and Penobscot Bay were all working to clear the track around Russell Island and below. The USCG Hollyhock was upbound to Port Huron stopping at Recor Point to allow the traffic downbound. The Penobscot Bay refueled at the Algonac City park at 10 a.m.

At 10:30 a.m. the downbound convoy had spread out with the Gott in the lead escorted by the Neah Bay. The first group of ships are separated by about 10 minutes, they include the Gott, Miner, Kaministiqua, and Canadian Transport. The Presque Isle with the Beeghly and Tregurtha follow about 20 minutes behind the Transport making the second grouping of the convoy. Samuel D. Champlain and Innovation were downbound at Vantage Point and the tug Reliance and her barge were still on Lake Huron waiting to be joined by the tug Manitou. The ice edge was reported to be just below Recor Point, this is the area where the ice field begins and gets heavier down river.

Original report - With the upbound backlog of icebound lakers released on Monday, U.S. Coast Guard cutters worked to flush ice jamming the lower St. Clair River into Lake St. Clair so a flotilla of vessels that has been anchored above Port Huron can continue their downbound trips.

The downbound order at 8 a.m. should be, in order of horsepower, Edwin H. Gott, Mesabi Miner, Kaministiqua, Canadian Transport, Presque Isle, Charles M. Beeghly, Lee A. Tregurtha, Samuel D. Champlain / Innovation and the tug Reliance and barge. Following their passage, Manitowoc, Algoeast and McKee Sons will be escorted upbound.

The USCG cutter Mackinaw arrived Monday evening and docked at Detroit Edison Recor coal dock in St. Clair with the USCG Hollyhock. The cutters Bristol Bay, Neah Bay and Penobscot Bay are stopped at Algonac.

On Monday, Hollyhock, Bristol Bay, Neah Bay and Penobscot Bay finally released the beset Algosar. Previously, Herbert C. Jackson and Lee A. Tregurtha were released and headed up river.

After being freed from ice and passing upbound at Port Huron around noon Monday, the Tregurtha received a change of orders directing her to head back downbound with a destination of the Nicholson's slip in Detroit, likely for winter lay-up.

The type of ice blocking the channel is brash ice. Brash ice is smaller pieces of ice that have been broken up and piled on top of each other. This type of ice is difficult for icebreakers to manage, as once the breaker has passed through, the track tends to close very quickly. With each vessel passage the ice becomes broken into smaller pieces and can pile up all the way to the bottom of the channel.

The ice has also hampered ferry service to Harsens Island.

Meanwhile, traffic was light on the St. Marys River, with American Mariner and Dorothy Ann/Pathfinder upbound. The USCG cutter Katmai Bay remained on station in the lower river.

Please send pictures to


Port Reports - January 12

Toronto, Ont. - Gerry Ouderkirk
Stephen B. Roman arrived in port for winter lay-up on Saturday Jan. 9. She was due on the 10th but arrived earlier than expected and previously reported.


Steel Winds project will add six windmills near Buffalo

1/12 - Buffalo, N.Y. – Six new windmills will be built on the old Bethlehem Steel site this year, and the state is announcing plans to study construction of other windmills — although smaller — at local Thruway interchanges.

First Wind, the company behind the Steel Winds project at the former Bethlehem Steel site, plans to build four new turbines on the Hamburg side of the site and two more in Lackawanna, according to First Wind spokesman John Lamontagne. “We hope to build sometime this year, I couldn’t tell you when,” Lamontagne said.

The new towers will be about 240 feet tall, and with the blades, the windmills will be about 400 feet tall, Lamontagne said. They are the same as the eight turbines that the company operates along the Lackawanna shoreline. Problems encountered two years ago with the gearboxes and blades have been addressed, he said.  “They’re running fine and operating well,” Lamontagne.

Frontier Central School District and the Town of Hamburg will split most of the payments for the turbines. While the project is tax exempt, First Wind agreed to a payment in lieu of taxes of $10,000 for each megawatt generated by the turbines, Hamburg Supervisor Steven J. Walters said. “We don’t know the figures of what we’re going to get because nothing’s been built yet,” he said.

Buffalo News


Parker Evans, of the Hindman fleet, dies in Owen Sound

1/12 - At the age of 95, William Mabee Parker Evans passed away on Saturday January 9. Predeceased by his wife of 68 years Helen Margaret (Hindman); Parker is missed by his son Paul (Nancy) and daughter Patricia. He was involved with Hindman Transportation & the Hindman Evans Timber Company for most of his professional life. Messages of condolence and online guest book at


Updates - January 12

Weekly Website Updates
News Photo Gallery
Historical Perspective Gallery Viking updated
Public Gallery updated


Today in Great Lakes History - January 12

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

In 1970, 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, 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 - 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.


Ice continues to stall traffic in lower St. Clair River

1/11 - Algonac, Mich.6 p.m. update - The Algosar was underway about 3 p.m. Monday afternoon thanks to the efforts of Bristol Bay, Neah Bay and Penobscot Bay. She was moving at a slow speed and will meet the Hollyhock off Algonac State Park and continue upbound for Sarnia. After Algosar was freed, the three Bay-class cutters went back to work trying to flush the ice down river and into Lake St. Clair. Bristol Bay was working in the South Channel and the Neah Bay and Penobscot Bay were in the North Channel.

The USCG Mackinaw was downbound in lower Lake Huron, and will dock at Recor Point in St. Clair until morning. Downbound traffic will be allowed to proceed according to horsepower Tuesday starting at 8 a.m., after the Coast Guard determines that the lower river is navigable.

2 p.m. update - The Bay class cutters continued their efforts to clear a path for the Algosar, progress was measured in feet. At 2 p.m. they had moved to a position just north of Russell Island. 

The type of ice in the channel is brash ice. Brash ice is smaller pieces of ice that have been broken up and piled on top of each other. This type of ice is difficult for ice breakers to manage as once the breaker has passed through, the track tends to close very quickly. With each vessel passage the ice becomes broken into smaller pieces and can pile up all the way to the bottom of the channel.

After being freed from ice and passing upbound at Port Huron around noon Monday, Lee A. Tregurtha received a change of orders directing her to head back downbound with a destination of the Nicholson's slip in Detroit, likely for winter lay-up. She will join the lineup of vessels waiting to proceed downbound once ice in the lower St. Clair River clears.

11:30 a.m. update - The Bristol Bay, Neah Bay and Penobscot Bay have spent the morning working in the difficult area off Russell Island. The Algosar remains stuck at the tip of Russell Island with the three Bay Class cutters providing close escort. She has had the most trouble operating in the ice and was the first vessel to become stuck, delaying the other river traffic.

About 10 a.m. the Herbert C. Jackson had moved around the Algosar and was moving slowly through the heaviest ice above Russell Island. The Lee A. Tregurtha then passed the Algosar and was assisted unbound, she reached the Marine City Salt Dock at 11:30 a.m.

Anchored above Port Huron waiting to transit downbound are the Kaministiqua, Edwin H. Gott, Charles M. Beeghly Samuel D. Champlain/ Innovation, tug Reliance and the Mesabi Miner.

Canadian Transport arrived Sunday night and proceeded downbound to Imperial Fuel in Sarnia to take on fuel. She will join the downbounders once traffic is moving again. Frontenac passed downbound Monday morning heading for lay-up in Sarnia's North Slip. The American Integrity departed the Recor Point power station Monday morning and headed upbound.

Sarnia Traffic has advised the anchored fleet, above Port Huron, that they do not expect downbound transits before Tuesday. The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw is downbound and should arrive around 6 p.m. They plan to work with the other cutters to flush the ice down river before any more transits. Once traffic is allowed to get moving the vessel order would be by horsepower.

The Canadian Coast Guard Ship Samuel Risley is reported to be out of commission and undergoing repairs. The Risley normally works this area when ice conditions become difficult.

Original report: Vessel traffic in the lower St. Clair River was moving slowly Sunday, thanks to the efforts of several U.S. Coast Guard icebreakers.

By mid-afternoon Sunday, the USCG Hollyhock, USCG Bristol Bay and USCG Neah Bay had joined the USCG Penobscot Bay in assisting the upbound included Algosteel, Dorothy Ann/Pathfinder, CSL Laurentien and American Mariner through the ice-chocked passage adjacent to Russell, Walpole and and Harsen’s islands. As night fell, Algosar, Herbert C. Jackson and Lee A. Tregurtha were still beset, with cutter assistance suspended until dawn.

Meanwhile, all downbound vessel traffic has been halted until the upbounders have been released. Waiting at anchor above the Blue Water Bridge Sunday night were Edwin H. Gott, Kaministiqua, Charles M. Beeghly and Samuel de Champlain/Innovation. Manitowoc spent Sunday in the Belle Isle anchorage waiting to go upbound. American Integrity spent Sunday at the Recor Edison Coal Dock in St. Clair with her boom in, not unloading.

Work is expected to begin anew at first light Monday to get St. Clair River traffic on the move again.

Elsewhere, the Joseph L. Block was loading at Escanaba Sunday and Presque Isle was downbound above the Soo Locks during the late evening. USCG Biscayne Bay was stationed in the lower river in case assistance is required. The locks close for the season on Friday.


Port Reports - January 11

Twin Ports – Al Miller
Roger Blough and Edgar B. Speer were still loading taconite pellets on Sunday. The Blough was at the CN Duluth dock on Saturday and still there Sunday morning. The dock has little ore stockpiled, which probably was contributing to the slow load. The stacker/reclaimer was stockpiling ore on Sunday morning. The Speer was due at the BNSF dock Saturday and was still there Sunday. BNSF ore trains are running again, with a northbound empty headed to the Iron Range on Saturday afternoon.

Alpena, Mich. - Ben & Chanda McClain
Sunday morning, Samuel de Champlain and barge Innovation departed Alpena after loading cement overnight. This was its last load of the season and it is expected to head to Cleveland for lay-up. The tug Manitou left the river where it was docked and made sure any that ice in the bay or at Lafarge would not give the Innovation any problems. The Manitou left Alpena Sunday morning to head back home to St. Clair, Mich.


Updates - January 11

Weekly Website Updates
News Photo Gallery
Public Gallery updated


Today in Great Lakes History - January 11

The steamer ROBERT S. McNAMARA, 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 downbound.

In 1973, ROGER BLOUGH collided with 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 - 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.


Ice stops traffic in lower St. Clair River

8 p.m. Update -  American Mariner had broken loose and was upbound at Marysville. The Algosar, Jackson and Tregurtha remain where they have been all day, stopped off Harsen's Island. The USCG Bristol Bay stopped for the night off Algonac in the entrance to the north channel. The Neah Bay and Penobscot Bay also stopped for the night. Hollyhock stopped at the Recor Edison Coal Dock in St. Clair where the American Integrity remained all day with her boom in not unloading. Samuel de Champlain has joined the group at anchor above Port Huron waiting for permission to travel downbound.

4:30 p.m. Update - CSL Laurentien has broken out of the ice jam and is moving upbound at a reasonable speed at the Salt Dock near Marine City. She is reporting clear water ahead. The other four vessels remain stopped below Algonac. The Algosar is having considerable difficulty making it past the heavy ice at the tip of Russel Island.

USCG Cutter Neah Bay has left Detroit and was crossing Lake St. Clair enroute to assist. She will join the Hollyhock, Bristol Bay and Penobscot already in the area. The worst area appears to be the narrow channel at the north end of Russel Island on the U.S. side and the Canadian Walpole Island.

2:30 p.m. Update - Dorothy Ann/Pathfinder has cleared Port Huron and is up bound in Lake Huron.

The five other up bound vessels are still below Algonac. CSL Laurentian and American Mariner are making less that 4 mph, while the Jackson, Algosar and Tregurtha remain stopped. All other vessels above Port Huron and near Detroit remain in place.

USCGC Neah Bay has made her way from Cleveland and is moored at Hart Plaza in downtown Detroit.

1/10 - 1:30 p.m. - Update - Dorothy Ann and Pathfinder were up at Stag Island and making normal speed.

Algosar was moving slowly passed Russel Island, they would move ahead a few ship lengths, then back. Working closely with the Algosar were the U.S. Coast Guard cutters Penobscot Bay and Bristol Bay, Hollyhock remained up river. Behind the Algosar were CSL Laurentian, American Mariner, Herbert C. Jackson and Lee A. Tregurtha, none of whom were moving.

Manitowoc and Algoeast were in the Bell Isle anchorage waiting for permission to go upbound. Charles M. Beeghly has joined the Gott and Kaministiqua and at anchor above Port Huron waiting for traffic to clear.

1/10 - 11:15 update -  The Dorothy Ann and Pathfinder were moving upbound behind the Bristol Bay at the Salt Dock above Algonac and had cleared the heaviest ice. The Penobscot Bay was off Russel Island working with the Algosar. The Hollyhock was downbound below Stag Island.

8:00 a.m. update - Upbound Dorothy Ann/Pathfinder were making slow progress opposite the town of Algonac near the head of Harsen's Island. CSL Laurentian and Algosar are stopped behind the tug/barge near Grand Point of Harsen's Island.

Further downriver, American Mariner and USCG Penobscot Bay remain stationary in the South Channel. Herbert C. Jackson and Lee A. Tregurtha are stopped in the north end of Lake St. Clair.

USCGC Bristol Bay reported to Sarnia Traffic that they were underway for a crew change then would be heading up help the vessels above Lake St. Clair.

The downbound Edwin H. Gott and Kaministiqua and at anchor above Port Huron waiting for traffic to clear. Charles M. Beeghly was approaching the anchorage and Sarnia Traffic advised that no downbound traffic was allowed in the river until the traffic jam had been cleared.

1/10 - 1:30 a.m. update - The cutters continued working with the Algosteel into the early morning and were making progress. At 1:30 a.m. the Algosteel was moving slowly approaching Willow Point under escort of the cutters. The Hollyhock was underway and appeared to be taking the Algosteel under escort from the Bay Class cutters.

Original report: Continuous days of below-freezing temperatures have caused ice to develop quickly in the region. The lower St. Clair River at Algonac, Mich., has been filled with ice since Friday evening. On Saturday afternoon the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Penobscot Bay passed downbound through the St. Clair cut off as the Algosteel passed upbound and began having difficulty just north of Russell Island off Algonac. about 1:30 p.m. Penobscot Bay returned upbound and provided close escort.

By 7 p.m., little progress had been made moving the Algosteel. She managed to move about a 1/4 mile upstream but retreated to a position at Russell Island Light angled slightly toward the American shore. Behind her were the Dorothy Ann and Pathfinder. The Port Huron-based Hollyhock is stationary about two miles north just south of the Algonac State Park.

The Penobscot Bay put in overtime Saturday night making continuous passes around the Algosteel and farther down river trying to get traffic moving again. The upbound CSL Laurentien stopped behind the Algosar waiting for traffic to begin moving. The U.S. Coast Guard cutter Bristol Bay arrived on scene about 10:30 p.m. and began working with the Penobscot Bay.

Algosteel is upbound in ballast for Goderich, Ont.

Meanwhile, American Mariner departed the Detroit Mistersky Power Station dock after fueling about 10:45 p.m. Saturday and planned to slowly head up Lake St. Clair and stop in the ice waiting for the traffic to start moving. She was followed by the Herbert C. Jackson and Lee A. Tregurtha.

Stewart R. Mac Donald


Port Reports - January 10

Traffic flowing in the St. Marys River
Colder weather has helped Mother Nature make ice in the St. Marys River, although traffic is still moving smoothly with a little help from the U.S. Coast Guard. On Saturday, Mobile Bay helped the upbound Burns Harbor through the tight turns behind Neebish Island in the morning, with Algocanada, assisted by Biscayne Bay, upbound in the afternoon.

The downbound Edwin H. Gott early in the day left a track for Kaministiqua, Charles M. Beeghly and Indiana Harbor to follow. Mesabi Miner was approaching the locks downbound at 10 p.m.

Saginaw remained at Essar Algoma on Saturday.


Sargent docks acquired by Lafarge North America

1/10 - Saginaw, Mich. – Sargent Docks has sold two of its four docks to Ohio-based Lafarge North America.

The company sold its docks in Saginaw and Essexville but still own ones in Zilwaukee and Carrollton, owner William G. Webber said.

"We're going to use the Zilwaukee dock to further commodities and help develop new markets other than crushed limestone (on the Saginaw River)," said Webber, president of the Saginaw River Alliance, a group of 22 companies that use the river for moving materials.

Aside from its docks in Michigan, Lafarge owns aggregate docks in Ohio and Canada.

The Saginaw News


Updates - January 10

News Photo Gallery
Public Gallery updated


Today in Great Lakes History - January 10

On this day in 1952, 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-foot ridged ice off Erie, Pennsylvani. The U.S.C.G. tug OJIBWA was 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 Freemont, 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.


Ice Stops traffic in lower St. Clair River

1/9 - 10 p.m. - Penobscot Bay put in overtime Saturday night making continuous passes around the Algosteel and farther down river trying to get traffic moving again the in the lower St. Clair River. The upbound CSL Laurentien stopped behind the Algosar waiting for traffic to begin moving. At 10 p.m. the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Bristol Bay was upbound in northern Lake St. Clair heading to assist.

7 p.m. update - Little progress has been made in moving the Algosteel. She managed to move about a 1/4 mile upstream but is now back to a position at the Russsell Island Light angled slightly toward the American shore. Behind her is visible the Dorothy Ann and Pathfinder. The Port Huron based Hollyhock is stationary about two miles north just south of the Algonac State Park. The Penobscot Bay has been working up and down the river around the Algosteel.

Original report
The lower St. Clair River at Algonac has been filled with ice since Friday evening. Saturday afternoon the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Penobscot Bay passed downbound through the St. Clair Cut Off as the Algosteel passed upbound. The Algosteel began having difficulty just north of Russell Island off Algonac, Mich. about 1:30 p.m. The Penobscot Bay returned upbound and provided close escort.

About 2:15 p.m. the tug Dorothy and barge Pathfinder and Algosar arrived upbound, they stopped in the ice waiting for the Algosteel to clear. The Hollyhock arrived about 3:30 p.m. to assist.

At 6 p.m. the Coast Guard cutters continued working to move the Algosteel through the river. Algosteel is upbound in ballast for Goderich, Ont.

Stewart R. Mac Donald


Three Algoma vessels to be transferred to Canadian flag

1/9 - Seaway Marine Transport on Friday announced that it had reached agreement with its parent companies to add the Algoma Spirit, Algoma Discovery and Algoma Guardian to SMT’s operating fleet through the course of the 2010 season.

These units are currently owned and operated by a foreign subsidiary of Algoma Central Corporation and are time-chartered to Fednav International. Algoma is working with Fednav to coordinate early termination of these agreements for delivery of the units to Canada.

Under SMT’s new arrangement, the vessels’ ownership and operation will be transferred to Algoma Central Corporation and time chartered to SMT under agreements extending through 2014. The ships will be deployed as part of SMT’s fleet and used primarily in the grain and iron ore trades.

The three maximum Seaway-sized saltwater bulk carriers owned by Algoma Central Corporation will join the SMT pool in 2010. While these vessels will be primarily deployed in grain /ore cycles on the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway, they will have the ability to carry cargoes to and from ports outside of the Great Lakes/St Lawrence River system (i.e. Gulf of St. Lawrence).

Algoma Spirit was built in 1986 and the Algoma Discovery and Algoma Guardian were both built in 1987. The vessels feature seven cargo holds with McGregor-style folding hatches. As presently configured the units are each equipped with four cargo cranes. It is expected that these cranes will be removed prior to the commencement of operations in Canada.



Slow December caps disappointing year for lakes coal trade

1/9 - Cleveland, Ohio – A significant slowdown in coal shipments in December brought down the curtain on a difficult year for the Great Lakes coal trade. Loadings in December totaled only 2.3 million tons, a decrease of 28 percent compared to November, and a drop of 37 percent compared to a year ago.

Only one port registered an increase in loadings in December. Toledo, Ohio saw its shipments increase 140,000 tons compared to a year ago. In terms of decreases, the largest came at Superior, Wisconsin, where loadings fell by almost 800,000 tons.

For the year, coal shipments finished at 29,924,432 tons, a decrease of 25 percent compared to a year ago, and a dip of nearly 27 percent compared to the trade’s 5-year average. The last time the coal trade slipped below 30 million tons was in 1932, when loadings totaled 24,857,369 tons. The record for the trade is 60,563,530 tons, shipped in 1948.

Lake Carriers’ Association.


Port Reports - January 9

Marquette , Mich. - Rod Burdick and Lee Rowe
Mesabi Miner loaded taconite Friday afternoon at the Upper Harbor ore dock. She became the second 1,000-footer during the 2009-2010 season to load ore. In early May, fleetmate James R. Barker took on ore.

Mackinac Island – Andrew Severson
The last Arnold Ferry passenger service to Mackinac Island was January 7. Great Lakes Air will provide passage now for winter travel to the island, until an ice bridge forms.

Sturgeon Bay, Wis. - Wendell Wilke and Chris Wesendorf
Friday American Spirit entered the Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal at 1 p.m. on her way to Bay Ship Building for lay-up and dry docking. With winds somewhat strong coming off Lake Michigan they were met beyond the breakwall for assistance from the tugs Jimmy L. and John M. Selvick.

Sarnia, Ont. – Marc Dease
With the departure of Cuyahoga from the elevator early Friday morning, there were several changes in the lay-up locations in Sarnia. Calumet moved from the north end of the north slip in Point Edward to the east end of the Elevator in Sarnia. Mississagi also shifted to the west end of the elevator from the south end of the north slip in Point Edward.

Toledo, Ohio - Jim Hoffman
On Friday morning, the USCGC Bristol Bay departed from the Midwest Terminal Dock for ice breaking operations on the Toledo Ship Channel in Maumee Bay and western Lake Erie and to assist as needed Michipicoten, Cuyahoga, and American Republic into Toledo. Michipicoten arrived at the A.R.M.S. Dock early Friday afternoon to unload grain. About 45 minutes later Cuyahoga arrived at the Kraft Food Elevator to unload grain. Following the Cuyahoga was American Republic, which turned around in front of the CSX Coal Docks and backed up river for her winter layup berth at the old Interlake Iron Dock just north of the shipyard. Several Great Lakes Towing Company tugs broke ice at the various docksites and assisted the vessels as needed. The tug Dorothy Ann with the barge Pathfinder arrived at the Torco Ore Docks Friday evening to unload ore. The next ore boats due into the Torco Ore Dock will be American Mariner on Saturday and Mesabi Miner on Tuesday. The tug Dorothy Ann with the barge Pathfinder is expected on Thursday followed by Charles M. Beeghly on Friday (15th). The Beeghly will be the last vessel scheduled into the Torco Ore Dock.

Sandusky, Ohio - Jim Spencer
The Great Lakes Towing Co. tug Ohio crunched through moderate ice in the inner and outer channels of Sandusky Bay for several hours Friday, clearing a path for the Algoma Central freighter Algosteel.

The 729-foot freighter - not a frequent Sandusky visitor in recent years - made an unusual entry to the bay, moving slowly westward along the outer channel, which is most often favored by vessels departing the NorfolkSouthern coal dock. Algosteel slipped past the steamer Herbert C. Jackson loading at the coal dock before turning east into the inner channel to approach the Gradel dock and later off-loaded her cargo of Goderich salt.

It appeared from a distance that the Ohio assisted the Algosteel as she made the near 90-degree turn from the coal dock into the inner channel. Ice in the shipping channels appeared to measure about four to five inches in thickness near the Jackson Street pier, a favorite summertime location for boat watchers. The crew of the Ohio in ship to ship radio traffic described the ice as "not heavy."

Toronto, Ont. - Charlie Gibbons
Stephen B. Roman is due in port on Sunday and will go into lay-up. It was announced Thursday that the new forebody, which was intended for Algoport, will be transferred to the Upper Lakes group, and will come out with a new stern (as yet to be found), manned by ULS employees.


Welland Canal traffic fell 21 percent last year amid recession

1/9 - Buffalo, N.Y. – The weak economy showed up on the waters of the Welland Canal last year.

The amount of cargo shipped on the link between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario dropped 21 percent last year. Total cargo was 26.4 million metric tons, down from 33.6 million metric tons the year before, according to the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp., which operates the canal.

Transits for the year were down 20 percent. A transit is recorded when a vessel passes through anywhere from one lock to all of the locks of the canal.

The navigation season for the canal, which is part of the St. Lawrence Seaway, ended in late December. The Seaway marked its 50th anniversary last year, but the shipping results were not much cause for celebration. “The severity of the economic recession had a direct impact on our traffic levels,” said Andrew Boroga, a spokesman for the corporation.

Total cargo shipments on the Seaway, which includes the Montreal/Lake Ontario portion, fell 25 percent from 2008, to 30.5 million metric tons. The last time the year-end figure was in the 30 million range was 1961, Boroga said. Total transits on the Seaway dropped 14 percent, according to corporation data.

On the Welland Canal, all but one of the five cargo categories tracked by the corporation recorded a decline. General cargo fell 46 percent, while iron ore dropped 35 percent, reflecting a sharp decline in shipments out of steel mills in Hamilton, Ont., and the United States. Coal and other bulk cargo shipments also dropped.

The lone increase was in grain shipments, which were up 9 percent.

The Buffalo News


Ship model builder subject of cable TV program

1/9 – A program produced for the public access channel Up North 2 (Charter Cable 97 in northwest lower Michigan) is broadcasting the program “Great Lakes Model Ships Parts 1 & 2,” featuring Ted McCutcheon Jr., a model builder and historian, and his current project the Alvin Clark. The Alvin Clark was a schooner that sail the Great Lakes in the 1840’s to the 1860’s and sunk off Green Bay. It was later raised by Frank Hoffman and displayed in Menominee Mich., for a brief period in the 1970s. The program will be broadcast on Charter Cable 97 Saturday at 7:30 a.m., Sunday at noon, and Wednesday at 9 a.m. The program will also be streamed at


Updates - January 9

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Today in Great Lakes History - January 9

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.


Great Lakes iron ore numbers lowest since Great Depression

1/8 - Superior, Wisc. – Some depressing numbers, shades of the Great Depression, released today about the 2009 Great Lakes iron ore cargo. At 31-million tons, that figure is the lowest since 1938.

With demand for iron ore at a 71 year low, Lake Carriers’ Association Vice-President Glen Nekvasil says it’s a reflection of the whole economy in 2009.

“It wasn’t just iron ore. The limestone total was the lowest in 25 years. Coal is going to be down significantly. Great Lakes shipping serves the economy. If they’re not making steel, they don’t need iron ore. If the construction industry is sluggish, they don’t need aggregate. So, this is a reflection of just how tough things are in our economy.”

“I’m going to try to forget 2009 as best I can. This was a very, very hard year for everybody.”

That’s Duluth Seaway Port Authority Director Adolph Ojard. While he’s glad to wave goodbye to 2009, he’s looking forward to this year’s shipping season. After starting last year at just 30% capacity, steel blast furnaces are now at 70% and iron mines in northern Minnesota are calling back workers.

"We should be returning to near normal levels by the middle of the shipping season so we went through an extremely bad time of inventory adjustment. Now the economy is slowly starting to pick up.”

Ojard says last year, no iron ore was shipped in January. This year he says ships will carry that cargo right to the season ends January 15.

By the way, 2009's 31,792,629 net tons of iron ore shipped on the Great Lakes is just 25,000 net tons more than 1935.

In 1938, 21,574,573 tons of ore was carried on the Great Lakes. The all-time low was in 1932 when the bottom fell out. Only 3,996,441 tons were shipped in 1932.



Seaway shipments bottom out

1/8 - Brockville, Ont. – Increased grain shipments in 2009 couldn't prevent an overall decline of close to 25 per cent in total cargo tonnage carried on the St. Lawrence Seaway compared with the previous year.

Figures released by the seaway corporation indicate grain was the only cargo item to increase in 2009 -by about seven per cent from 7.6 to 8.1 million tonnes.

Overall cargo volume fell from 40.8 million tonnes in 2008 to 30.5 million tonnes to Dec. 31.

"It's very easy to see the depth of the recession and the corresponding impact on seaway traffic levels," communications officer Andrew Bogora told The Recorder and Times on Wednesday.

Even the increase in grain shipments has to be taken with a pinch of salt. Shipments remain almost 40 per cent off the 2007 shipping season.

But an encouraging trend noted by Bogora after the release of November's statistics December.

Iron ore shipments spurred by a rebounding auto industry this fall show month-over-month improvement in December, said Bogora.

Yet, total iron ore cargoes of 6.9 million tonnes in 2009 remain well off the nearly 12 million tonnes shipped the previous year.

"We simply hope the domestic economy for autos continues to rebound," said Bogora.

He said a full prognosis for seaway operations in 2010 will be presented soon by Richard Corfe, president and CEO of the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation.

"It will help to set the tone for the year ahead," said Bogora.

He said sections of the seaway are expected to be open in March, but traffic and cargo numbers for the end of the fiscal year March 31 won't likely change much from the year-end figures.

"I think it's fair to say these are just about the final numbers," said Bogora.

Those numbers include a 15 per cent decline in total transits to 3,639 in 2009 compared with 4,235 the previous year.

That includes a reduction of almost 300 vessels passing by Brockville on the Lake Ontario to Montreal section to 2,415 in 2009 as opposed to 2,706 during 2008.

Vessels throughout the system carried 2.8 million tonnes of coal, down from 3.6 million in 2008; 11.6 million tonnes of bulk cargo, down from 15.7 million tonnes in 2008; and 926,000 tonnes of general cargo, a reduction from 1.9 million tonnes a year earlier.

Brockville Recorder and Times


Vessels transit St. Marys River with little trouble

1/8 - January ice buildup in the St. Marys River is not impeding shipping, a spokesman for Soo Traffic said Thursday afternoon.

However, ice behind Neebish Island in the vicinity of the Johnson’s Point turn proved troublesome Thursday for the upbound 1,000-footer Mesabi Miner, which was assisted through the area by the USCG Mackinaw, which then headed downbound bound for Midland, Ont.

The 140-foot USCG Mobile Bay was working the lower river Thursday preparing tracks for several downbound vessels. Manitowoc left Essar Algoma downbound at midday followed later in the evening by Walter J. McCarthy Jr. and American Mariner. American Integrity was nearing the locks at midnight, followed by Frontenac.. James R. Barker was also upbound in the lower river during the late evening, as was Roger Blough, in at DeTour at 8 p.m.

Ice has not been a problem in the upper river, however the McCarthy experienced some difficulty with ice as it transited the Poe Lock. During winter operations, ice often gets between the boat and the lock wall, or gets pushed ahead of the vessel, slowing its passage and making it more difficult to swing the gates open.

Elsewhere in the northland, Joseph L. Block was loading in Escanaba Thursday.


USCG Mackinaw, now on ice duty, heads for Midland

1/8 - The U.S. Coast Guard cutter Mackinaw slipped lines and departed Cheboygan at 9 a.m. Wednesday, ready for ice calls from Great Lakes freighters who may need help if frigid temperatures persist. “We’ll be ready,” said Cmdr. Scott Smith, the Mackinaw’s skipper, while preparing for departure.

“Things are pretty well status quo right now for shipping; a lot of ships have laid up early for the winter and things are winding down now for the closing of the Soo Locks. We will be available if anybody needs assistance.”

Smith indicated that the Mackinaw’s crew will undergo training and visit more locations where ice-breaking will take place.

On Thursday the Mackinaw was heading for Midland, Ont. Cheboygan Daily Tribune


Port Reports - January 8

Twin Ports – Al Miller
BNSF ore dock has seen relatively little traffic this season but it’s closing out the season with Edwin H. Gott loading there Thursday and Edgar B. Speer due in Saturday. Roger Blough is due at CN Duluth on Saturday while Presque Isle is scheduled to load at Two Harbors on Friday. Also due in Superior on Friday is James R. Barker to load at Midwest Energy Terminal. In the past week or two many vessels have been using a tug for icebreaking. Adam E. Cornelius arrived in Superior on Wednesday to lay up in Fraser Shipyards.

Thunder Bay, Ont. - Murray Latham
Cedarglen arrived at the Keefer Terminal in Thunder Bay for winter lay-up Wednesday afternoon. John D. Leitch is also at Keefer Terminal layed-up.

Toledo, Ohio - Bob Vincent and Jim Hoffman
USCGC Bristol Bay was breaking ice in the Toledo ship channel area in western Lake Erie and Maumee Bay in preparation for several vessels arriving at this port. American Republic departed from Cleveland and will be arriving for layup at Toledo on Friday. Ice and weather has caused delays for vessels scheduled into the Torco Ore Dock. The latest update has the tug Dorothy Ann and barge Pathfinder due in Friday evening, American Mariner on Saturday and Mesabi Miner on Wednesday (13th). The tug Dorothy Ann and barge Pathfinder is expected back on Thursday (14th) followed by the Charles M. Beeghly on Saturday (16th). Beeghly is supposed to be the last ore boat of the season for the Torco Ore Dock. Great Lakes Towing Company tugs will be doing icebreaking work at the docksites and will assist vessels as needed.


Coast Guard announces to terminate the Loran-C signal

1/8 - Cleveland, Ohio - The U.S. Coast announced Thursday the decision to decommission the Loran-C program and terminate the North American Loran-C signal.

This decision, which will begin plans to cease broadcasting the North American Loran-C signal Feb. 8, 2010, will result in the decommissioning of two Ninth Coast Guard District Loran-C stations: Seneca, N.Y., and Baudette, Minn.

As a result of technological advancements during the last 20 years and the emergence of the U.S. Global Positioning System, Loran-C is no longer required by the armed forces, the transportation sector or the nation's security interests, and is used by only a small segment of the population.

The 2010 Federal Budget supported the termination of outdated systems and specifically cited the terrestrial-based North American Loran-C system as such an example.

The Loran-C system was never intended to be a backup for GPS. If a single, domestic national system to back up GPS is identified as being necessary, the Department of Homeland Security will complete an analysis of potential backups to GPS. The continued active operation of Loran-C is not necessary to advance this evaluation.


‘Dirty Jobs’ program to highlight Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

1/8 - The Discovery Channel will be broadcasting three new “Dirty Jobs” episodes featuring the Soo Locks, Mackinac Island and Grand Hotel. On January 26 Mike Rowe visits the Soo Locks. February 9, Mike chats with two of his biggest fans on Grand Hotel's front lawn. On February 23, Mike and the crew have fun with some very dirty jobs on Mackinac Island.


Updates - January 8

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Today in Great Lakes History - January 8

On 08 January 2004, McKeil 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.


Hamilton Port Authority is closing out one of its toughest years yet

1/7 - Hamilton, Ont. - The Welland Canal shut down for the winter Dec. 30, marking the official end of the Seaway shipping season. It was a year that saw a 30 per cent drop in shipping tonnage through Hamilton Harbor.

The passage on the St. Lawrence Seaway between Hamilton and Montreal will remain open into early January and the port will close once any ships looking to winter over have come into the bay.

The closure will mean the start of repairs and repainting work on the lift bridge over the Burlington Canal. Along with those repairs will be lane reductions that will last until mid-March.

While 2009 was one of the worst years ever, port authority vice-president Ian Hamilton said the year ended with a buoyant fourth quarter, after the city's steel mills picked up some of the activity that had been cut as a result of the recession.

In an average year, nearly 12 million tonnes of cargo pass through the port. Spokesperson Brent Kinnaird said as of late November, that was only at 7.5 tonnes, compared with 10.5 tonnes at the same time last year.

Of that three million tonne reduction, about 2.5 million is directly related to the slowdown at the steel mills, he said.

It was the resumption in steel mill activity that caused ship traffic to pick up again in late October and early November.

"There is some production coming back on side as demand is starting to build," Kinnaird said. "And the other piece is the fact that with the seaway closing for its traditional weeks over winter, typical practice is for the steel mills to be stockpiling their inventory for the winter while the seaway is closed."

Kinnaird says on top of reduced shipping of raw materials to steel mills, imports of semi-finished steel that typically come from Europe have also decreased -- something that is "symptomatic of the global steel industry," he said.

He said exports, many agricultural such as corn and wheat, remained fairly even with 2008.

Most of the ships traveling through the harbor and the canal are carrying materials such as coal, iron ore, petroleum or grain.

Hamilton expects 11 ships will stay in the port for the winter.

He says Hamilton has the highest number (or close to it) of ships wintering in its harbor compared with any port along the seaway. He says the down time is typically used for ship maintenance.

The Welland Canal typically reopens March 20, give or take a few days.

The Hamilton Spectator


Cutter Alder gets to work clearing Duluth harbor ice

1/7 - Duluth, Minn - Cold temperatures mean more work for the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Alder.

The Alder was doing track maintenance Wednesday morning, breaking out Howard's Pocket in Duluth Harbor.

In some places ice is stacking up to just over a foot and the Alder will be busy breaking it at least three times a week for the next two weeks.

"Ships are laying up, starting to lay up now," said Lieutenant Junior Grade Benjamin Weber. "So, we'll be breaking here for another two, three weeks or so, but we'll be down with the rest of the fleet once the Soo Locks close on January 15th."

The Alder has been out breaking ice less than 10 times so far this winter season.

FOX 21 News


Port Reports - January 7

Marquette, Mich. - Lee Rowe
Manitowoc loaded ore on Wednesday at Marquette while an icy American Mariner waited her turn.

Cheboygan, Mich. - Brent Michaels and Dianne Donati
Algocanada and a Coast Guard 140-footer arrived in Cheboygan Wednesday and the Mackinaw departed. This is believed to be the first time an Algoma Tanker has visited Cheboygan. The usual visitor to the BP Terminal is the tug Michigan and barge Great Lakes. In years past, when the tug and barge were not available, Gemini would take their place. Algocanada was anchored for five days at Zela Point off Bois Blanc Island waiting for the Cheboygan River to be dredged so the ship could deliver the oil.

Alpena, Mich. - Ben & Chanda McClain
Cuyahoga brought a late season load of road salt to the Alpena Oil Dock early Wednesday morning. It broke through the ice in the river and pulled up next to the tugboat Manitou were it unloaded salt during the morning.


Rising lake levels threaten tip of Point Pelee

1/7 - Leamington, Ont. – Point Pelee’s shrinking tip could get even shorter as lake levels rise, park officials say. It’s shrinking every year, project manager for Point Pelee Brian Craig said Monday.

The sandy southernmost point of mainland Canada was once more than a kilometre long past the trees. That distance is now about 30 metres.

In the winter of 2006-07, the tip disappeared along with a viewing platform. Now the trail to the sandy tip ends with a few trees. Depending on the weather conditions, the tip can be covered with water.

Water levels on Lake Erie were above the long-term average in 2009.

The Canadian Hydrographic Services online graphs forecast the lake level could increase above average in the first half of 2010 with wet weather or it could drop back below average if its a drier winter.

The lake level on Lake Erie was at 174.02 metres in December which was slightly higher than December 2008 and the average December over the last 10 years, the online stats say.

With the higher water levels there’s a good chance you’re going to get more severe erosion as we get storms, Craig said.

Even in low lake levels there is a concern about erosion, Craig said.

The point is eroding on the west side where the sand used to build up and on the east side where shoreline development and marinas keep sand from migrating to the point, he said.

Point Pelee National Park along with the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Essex Region Conservation Authority are getting studies done on both sides of the point.

Craig said one study is looking at ways to prevent erosion on the east side and could be done in a month or so.

Lake Erie is still about 90 centimeters below the peak set in 1986. The last time lake levels were high was in 1997 when levels reached close to the 1986 mark. Lake levels tend to rise in the spring and drop in the fall.

Water levels on Lake St. Clair were above average for much of 2009 and were at about average in December.

Lake Huron which feeds Lake St. Clair and Lake Erie has lake levels below average by more than 10 centimeters.

The Windsor Star


Updates - January 7

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Today in Great Lakes History - January 7

07 January 1974 - The EDMUND FITZGERALD (steel propeller bulk freighter, 711 foot, 13,632 gross tons, built in 1958, at River Rouge, Michigan) 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.

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.

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


Rough waters in 2009

1/6 - Detroit, Mich. – They've been doing this work for almost 50 years now -- pushing the mammoth freighters on the Detroit River into port, towing them out and occasionally breaking the ice ahead of them. But the Gaelic Tugboat Co. has rarely seen a year like it endured in 2009.

Along with the entire shipping industry, the family-owned, Detroit-based operation has been strangled by the stagnant national economy. Tough times mean fewer operations and projects requiring the iron ore, limestone and coal that make up the bulk of what is shipped on the lakes.

And without that demand, the big ships spent far less time on the lakes this year -- a trickle-down situation felt by the major shipping companies at the top, and smaller, peripheral operations like Gaelic.

"This is the worst year we've ever seen," said Steve Carrothers, whose father-in-law started Gaelic in the 1960s. "If I had to guess, I'd say our business is down by about 50 percent or so."

All over the Great Lakes states, the story was the same. Ships that normally spend March through December moving from port to port worked only part of the season. Some never made it out at all. Through the end of November, Great Lakes shipping moved 60.35 million tons of materials in 2009. During the same period in 2008, the industry moved 95.18 million tons.

That's a loss of almost 35 percent in one year.

When the Soo Locks opened at the end of March -- the beginning of the shipping year -- there was no rush onto the lakes as in most years. The outlook for 2009 was already so bleak, many ships remained in port.

For some, that call to come out never came.

"We had two ships that didn't sail at all this year," said Mark Barker, president of the Interlake Steamship Co. "We had ships that tied up for part of the year before, as recently as back in 2003. But I would say this is the worst year for the industry since the early 1980s."

The companies that own the ships, as well as the men and women who crew them, have been hard hit. But the impacts don't stop there. They reach to companies like Gaelic and beyond.

Shipping touches roughly 236,000 jobs in various industries around the region, according to a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers study. Of those:

44,000 are based in maritime transportation.
54,000 are in the mining industry.
138,000 are in the steel industry.

Vessel agents are responsible for tackling the needs of ships and crew members when in port. In a letter posted on the Web site of the United States Great Lakes Shipping Association -- which represents the agents -- executive director Stuart Theis laid out the industry's grim situation.

"We all know that from the standpoint of total ship calls handled by member agents, the 2009 navigation season will be the lowest since records were kept, as far as I can determine," Theis wrote.

"Looking at prospects for 2010, while it may be too early to predict with complete accuracy, there is nothing that currently appears to indicate that a turnaround is near, nor does there appear to be a change in some of the conditions which may be contributing to these dismal numbers." Icebreaker comes late

It might be a sign that the shipping industry is truly snake-bitten these days, but the timing of the economic downturn is somewhat ironic. For years, shipping officials have bemoaned the shortage of icebreaking ships on the Great Lakes.

The dearth of boats to cut through the ice pack in late December and early January has shortened the shipping season and forced freighters into lay up earlier than their owners might want.

Late last month, however, the U.S. Coast Guard responded to years of lobbying by sending the 140-foot cutter Penobscot Bay from its home port in New Jersey to the Great Lakes for the winter season. It will join the region's eight other icebreakers.

Only there aren't nearly as many freighters on the water at the end of this season as in past years.

"We had seven total ships that never even sailed this year," said Glen Nekvasil, vice president of corporate communications for the Lake Carriers' Association, an industry group.

In another odd twist, the industry has been hampered since 2000 by six years of declining lake levels. Each lost inch of water cut into the amount of materials ships could carry.

But this month, the lakes are back to within an inch or two of their historic averages. And with no demand for materials right now, shipping companies are unable to capitalize.

A note of optimism
"Next year, if the steel mills are operating at 96 percent of capacity, the full slate of ships will be going out again," Nekvasil said. "If the construction industry gets ramped up and boosted by federal stimulus dollars, the ships moving limestone will fit out and sail from April through the end of the year. But you can't haul limestone the customer doesn't need."

The Detroit News


Port Reports - January 6

Twin Ports – Al Miller
American Integrity arrived in the Twin Ports on Tuesday morning to fuel before proceeding to Midwest Energy Terminal to load coal for St. Clair and Monroe. A GLT tug was active in the harbor, apparently breaking ice and ready to assist the vessel if necessary. With overnight temperatures well below zero and little vessel traffic, harbor ice is building. After American Integrity, only three vessels are scheduled to load at the terminal: James R. Barker on Friday, American Century on Saturday and McKee Sons next Wednesday.

The former LaFarge cement terminal in Duluth, a long-standing waterfront landmark, has been sold to a local investment group that hopes to redevelop the site and structure. The site and its concrete cement silos, which still bear the faint markings of a Huron Cement Co. painted sign, were sold for $1.3 million in a deal closed Dec. 30. The terminal has been idle for the past several years since LaFarge began shipping all its product to its Superior terminal. The Duluth terminal in recent decades generally was served by the J.A.W. Iglehart and the Alpena. The Alpena often attracted attention by unloading first in Superior and then backing for about a mile across the harbor into the shallower Duluth slip.

Sturgeon Bay, Wis. - Wendell Wilke
Late Tuesday morning Manistee came out of the drydock at Bay Shipbuilding with a fresh coat of paint. She was assisted into the slip alongside Cason J. Callaway. Assistance and ice breaking were provided by the tugs Bayship, Jimmy L. (on the bow), Steven Selvick (on the stern) along with John M. Selvick, Sharon M. Selvick and Susan L.

Toronto, Ont. - Frank Hood
Stephen B. Roman arrived in Toronto on Tuesday.


Saginaw River 2009 shipping season recap: Economy hurt traffic

1/6 - Saginaw, Mich. – Another year of commercial shipping on the Saginaw River has come to a close and, like last season, 2009 had many interesting stories. The effects of the economy once again had a very noticeable impact on the number of commercial deliveries on the Saginaw River.

With a decreased demand for construction materials such as aggregates and concrete, fewer vessels called on Saginaw River docks this season than did in 2008. The shipping season began over three weeks later than the previous season with the first delivery not arriving until April 18. Between the first boat on April 18 and the last boat on December 7, there were 163 commercial vessel passages by 37 different boats. Compare that to 214 vessel passages in 2008, by 38 boats, and you see a decline of 51 commercial deliveries to local docks. Looking back further, you can see the trend has been continual over the past five years with the biggest difference being a decrease of 184 passages as compared to the 2005 season. The state of the economy did not play the only role in this decline however. Water levels on the Saginaw River continued to creep higher in 2009, allowing the boats that did visit to load a little deeper, carrying more tonnage in fewer trips. Also helping was dredging of the upper river that took place during early 2009, with the spoils deposited in the new confined disposal facility located on the Bay/Saginaw county line. Additional dredging of both the upper and lower sections of the Saginaw River is set to begin in 2010.

Looking at some of the other numbers from 2009, 16 different commercial docks along the river saw cargo deliveries. Leading the way with 36 was the Wirt Stone Dock in Bay City, down three deliveries from 2008. The Wirt Stone Dock in Saginaw was next with 31 deliveries, up two from last year, followed by the Bay Aggregates dock in Bay City with 29 deliveries. The top five were rounded out by the Consumers Energy Dock in Essexville, and the Sargent Dock in Zilwaukee, each with 21.

Looking at the boats, leading the way for the fourth year in a row was the tug Olive L. Moore and her self unloading barge, Lewis J. Kuber. The pair logged 36 passages in 2009, down from 45 last year. Coming in next with 21 deliveries was the Calumet. The remainder of the top five was the Manitowoc with 16, and tied with 10 visits each were fleetmates Algoway and Agawa Canyon.

Turning to the fleets, the boats from Lower Lakes Towing and its subsidiary, Grand River Navigation had more passages than any other fleet for the third straight year. LLT/GRN logged 48 visits, fourteen fewer than last year. K&K Integrated Shipping was next with 40 passages, down 5 from 2008. Following with 21 visits each were both the American Steamship Company and Algoma Central Marine.

There were a number of boats that were regular visitors in past years that did not visit the Saginaw River in 2009. That list includes the CSL Tadoussac, James Norris, Cuyahoga, American Mariner, American Republic, Buffalo, John J. Boland, tugs Rebecca Lynn, James A. Hannah, Donald C. Hannah, Mark Hannah, Mary E. Hannah and the Ivory Coast Also absent in 2009 from her namesake river was the Saginaw. Making return visits in 2009 after not seeing the Saginaw River for a season or more were Michipicoten, Walter J. McCarthy, Jr., Herbert C. Jackson, and Joyce L. Van Enkevort/Great Lakes Trader. Some other seldom seen, infrequent, or new visitors to the Saginaw River were the tug Zeus, G-tug Superior, tugs Steven Selvick, John M. Selvick, and Krista S., and the tug Karen Andrie with the new tank barge, Endeavour.

Here are a few other interesting notes about the 2009 season: On July 5, the Saginaw Bay received a rare visit by a saltwater vessel, the OXL Lotus. She arrived with equipment for the Consumers Energy dock in Essexville, but was loaded too deep to come into the river and make the dock. The tug Gregory J. Busch and her barge began shuttling the cargo between the OXL Lotus and the dock until all the cargo was moved. The SCS Grey Fox made her annual Fourth of July visit to help raise funds for the effort to bring the USS Edson to Bay City. It is looking more and more that this long-in-the-works project will finally come to fruition in 2010. Some other visitors to the Saginaw River in 2009 were the USCG Cutter Hollyhock and the tugs Manitou, Mohawk, and Fisher Hayden. Another big story was the lack of cargos for usually busy docks. The Essroc dock in Essexville only had three cargo deliveries in 2009, compared to 17 in 2008 and the Bit-Mat dock, which also received three deliveries in 2009, compared to over 20 only a few years before.

Todd A. Shorkey


Coast Guard looking for Kentucky marine inspector

1/6 - The U.S. Coast Guard is searching for highly qualified candidates to apply for the civilian position of Marine Inspector in Paducah, KY. The full time position will serve as Senior Marine Inspector and lead instructor at the new Towing Vessel National Center of Expertise.

Click here for more information


Updates - January 6

Historic Gallery updates Viking and Pinedale gallery
Lay-up list updated - please send updates to


Today in Great Lakes History - January 6

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 its 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.


Tug Sinks at Egg Harbor Marina

1/5 - Egg Harbor, Wisc. - A tug being used by McMullen & Pitz Marine Contractors, a subcontractor working on the Egg Harbor marina reconstruction project, sank overnight Sunday in about 12 feet of water. Egg Harbor is located on Green Bay on the Door County Peninsula north of Sturgeon Bay, Wis.

Village officials do not know what caused the tug Dauntless to sink, and Andrew Wight of the United States Coast Guard said they won't be able to determine a cause until the tug is resurfaced. Wight, a Marine Safety Technician First Class stationed with the Marine Safety Attachment in Sturgeon Bay, said a salvage plan is being worked out in cooperation with McMullen and Pitts to raise the tug. That plan will have to be approved by the Coast Guard officials in Washington D.C. before work can commence.

Ted Jennejohn, project manager for McMullen & Pitz, said the plan had been submitted to the Coast Guard as of 4 pm Sunday. He hoped for a quick approval so they could surface the tug Sunday night.

"The tug's probably going to be a loss," Jennejohn said. "We're just focusing on preventing any environmental damage."

It's estimated the vessel is storing about 600 gallons of diesel fuel in its tanks.

"On the way is a containment boom that will be used to surround the vessel in case of a leak," Wight said, though he indicated a leak is unlikely.

Jennejohn said the Dauntless, built in 1964, was inspected last spring at Burger Boats in Manitowoc, when the hull was rebuilt and called the sinking "kind of mind-boggling."

Wight said a crane and divers were on their way to the site and were expected to arrive by 4 pm to assist with de-watering and re-floating the vessel.

McMullen & Pitz is a Manitowoc-based company that was subcontracted by Luhr Bros. to work on the bin wall of the marina. Wight gave no timetable on when the vessel would be re-surfaced, but officials said work could start Sunday evening. It's hoped the tug is raised by Monday afternoon.

McMullen & Pitz had already completed their work at the marina and hoped to get their equipment out of the harbor this week when weather and ice conditions improved.

Peninsula Pulse


Port Reports - January 5

Twin Ports – Al Miller
American Century was loading coal at Midwest Energy Terminal on Monday and was expected to depart during the day. James R. Barker loaded at the terminal on Sunday and departed in early afternoon with a Great Lakes Towing tug breaking ice in the harbor.

Marquette, Mich. – Lee Rowe
The tug Dorothy Ann and Pathfinder waited at the Marquette ore dock on a stormy Monday.

Detroit, Mich. – Jeff Mast and Ken Borg
Charles M. Beeghly was inbound at the Rouge River Monday afternoon. Unable to turn completely in the ice, once through the short cut bridge the Beeghly backed and made the turn and broke her way slowly on up the ice-covered river enroute to Severstal Steel

Detroit River – Sam Buchanan
The mailboat J.W. Westcott II was laid up Monday due to heavy ice on the Detroit River. The vessel will undergo extensive work this winter starting in February. The mail boat remained in service providing water taxi service to Zug Island.


Second Coast Guard ice cutter to spend winter in Cleveland

1/5 - Cleveland, Ohio – For the past couple winters, the U.S. Coast Guard in Cleveland has needed more than its ice breaker Neah Bay to keep Lake Erie shipping lanes open.

So this year, the Coast Guard Cutter Penobscot Bay and its crew will spend the winter stationed in Cleveland. The Penobscot Bay, an ice breaking tug from Bayonne, N.J., arrived Dec. 15th.

"Last year it (Penobscot Bay) assisted us at various times," said Petty Officer Bill Colclough, with the 9th Coast Guard District in Cleveland.

This year, in anticipation of similar needs, the Cleveland station asked for the assistance for the entire winter.

"It was based on the previous ice breaking seasons ... the expected temperatures and the expected level of similar ice this year," Colclough said.

The Neah Bay is permanently based in Cleveland.

The Coast Guard works closely with the Lake Carrier's Association and Canadian Shipowner's Association, which on average each winter ships about $2 billion dollars of cargo, including steel, coal, heating oil and grain. It also works with the Canadian Coast Guard to keep the Great Lakes' navigation lanes open.

The Penobscot Bay, like the Neah Bay, is an 140-foot Bay Class icebreaking tug that can break 22 inches of ice by running at three and a half miles per hour. It can break thicker ice using a back-and-ram technique, according to the Coast Guard.

Besides keeping a navigation channel open, the ice breakers enable the Coast Guard to provide search and rescue, such as when ice fishermen become stranded. They also help break up potential flood-creating ice jams on local rivers.

About three years ago, the Coast Guard used three ice cutters to try to break up a severe ice jam on the Grand River in Fairport Harbor.

The Coast Guard also breaks ice so that ferries can bring food and other supplies to the year-round residents of the Lake Erie Islands.

Cleveland Plain Dealer


Cutter Mobile Bay familiar with Great Lakes ice rhythms

1/5 - Green Bay, Wisc. – Its hull a small black spot defiant against the surrounding field of white, the Coast Guard’s 140-foot Mobile Bay has cut through ice encumbering the waters of Green Bay each winter for three decades.

Icebreaking is such a massive task, the Coast Guard calls it Operation Taconite – keeping the way clear for commercial vessels in Lakes Michigan and Superior, the St. Marys River, and the Straits of Mackinac.

But, aside from the Coast Guard-plus the occasional polar bear plunger or diehard ice fishermen, few humans pay close attention to the complex rhythms of lake ice building and receding that play out across the Great Lakes annually.

However George Leshkevich, a scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory (GLERL) in Ann Arbor, Mich., has been studying lake ice for several decades.

According to Leshkevich, differences in the lakes’ depths and regional air temperatures affect their potential to develop ice cover. Lake Erie, for example, is the shallowest of the lakes and typically sees the most extensive ice cover each winter, relative to its surface area. Lake Superior, farthest north and subjected to colder temperatures, is next on the list, followed by Lakes Huron, Michigan, and Ontario.

The extent of ice cover on the Great Lakes can also vary greatly from year to year, Leshkevich said.

For example, between 1963 and 2001, the maximum extent of ice cover on Lake Michigan over the course of a single winter ranged from 13 percent (in 1963-64) to 96 percent (in 1978-79) of the lake’s surface, according to one study. The average over that same period was 40 percent.

Along with such year-to-year fluctuations, the Great Lakes have seen an overall downward trend in winter ice cover over the last 30 to 40 years, said Leshkevich. That decline has coincided with an overall increase in global air temperatures.

Both natural variability and human-induced climate change can influence Great Lakes ice cover, said Leshkevich and fellow GLERL scientist Jia Wang. However, the more dominant influence is natural variability, which drives the year-to-year fluctuations in ice cover, Wang said.

“Our region is very complex because it is affected by two [natural] climate patterns,” said Wang. One pattern comes from the Pacific and brings either warmer “El Niño” or colder “La Niña” temperatures to the Great Lakes region. A second pattern that comes from the Arctic likewise affects the region’s temperatures with its warmer “positive” and colder “negative” phases.

The Great Lakes generally have lower ice cover in years when both the Pacific and Arctic patterns are warm, and higher ice cover in years when both patterns are cold, Wang said. When the patterns differ, they either moderate each other’s effects or the stronger pattern dominates. Last winter, the patterns combined to bring to the Great Lakes one of the more extensive ice covers of the past decade, a period during which ice cover was generally low.

Regional & Local Effects
Lake ice affects both the environment and the economy of the Great Lakes. Ice is good at reflecting sunlight, so its presence decreases the ability of the lakes to absorb heat and keeps them colder, said Jay Austin, a scientist at the University of Minnesota-Duluth’s Large Lakes Observatory.

What’s more, said Austin, “the effect of ice is felt long after the ice is gone. The amount of ice during the winter can significantly affect lake temperatures throughout the summer.” His research shows that summer surface water temperatures of the northern Great Lakes-Michigan, Superior and Huron generally are warmer after winters with low ice cover, and colder after winters with high ice cover. He believes this is because ice cover delays the springtime stratification of the lake into layers of different densities, a phenomenon that promotes rapid warming of the surface layer in the summer.

Everything from algae to fish could be impacted by changes in lake temperatures and stratification that result from long-term changes in ice cover, according to Austin’s study.

Ice affects other aspects of the environment, too. In shallow areas, it can help protect the eggs of whitefish and other fall-spawning fish from currents and waves generated by strong winter winds. Ice cover also inhibits evaporation by shielding the lakes from dry, cold winter air. As a result, lake levels are often lower after winters with low ice cover, and higher after winters with high ice cover, said Wang.

Ice has implications for Great Lakes industries such as power production and shipping. Ice jams that form on the rivers connecting the lakes can constrict water flow and result in less water for downstream hydropower plants. Heavy ice can delay the opening of the shipping season and be a hazard to navigation, but it also can lead to higher water levels, allowing ships to carry more cargo.

Given ice’s environmental and economic importance to the Great Lakes region, scientists have good reason to continue studying it. In the future, Leshkevich plans to study ice cover thickness, and Austin is interested in developing numerical models that better explain ice’s connections to other phenomena. Wang is currently working on a model for forecasting ice cover.

Forms of Great Lake Ice
• Pancake ice - circular, flat pieces of ice with turned-up edges that are shaped by wind- and wave-driven collisions with one another
• Brash ice - angular pieces of broken ice often piled on each other by wind and waves or ice with the constancy of slush after vessels have passed through the area grinding up the ice.
• Lake/black ice - clear ice that looks dark when viewed from an aircraft or satellite
• Snow ice - milky white ice containing many bubbles, formed from water-soaked snow
• Frazil ice - fine spicules or plates of ice suspended in the water, formed during the first stage of freezing

The Bay View Compass


Stable water levels projected for Great Lakes

1/5 - Toledo, Ohio – Predicting water levels in the Great Lakes – which collectively hold six quadrillion gallons, more fresh water than anywhere else on Earth except Russia's Lake Baikal – is no easy task. The lakes have shown themselves to be far more fickle than many people have realized since the federal government began keeping statistics on them in 1860.

Even though the Great Lakes hold 20 percent of the world's fresh surface water, they are prone to rising and falling without notice – with trends lasting up to 30 years, then suddenly reversing. An inch or two up or down can affect property values, algae growth, beach access, marina sales, the cost of shipping goods across America's heartland, and the reproduction of sportfish as well as the ability of anglers to get to them.

While 2009 was a cruel year for North Americans in many respects, it was one of the better years of late for the lakes, which are the source of drinking water for 33 million of the continent's people.

Records compiled by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory in Ann Arbor and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Detroit district office show that as of late December the lakes had rebounded close to their historical mean levels.

Lake Superior, which holds more water than all of the other four lakes combined and is largely responsible for replenishing them, has come back from its record low of August and September of 2007, Keith Kompoltowicz, a Corps meteorologist in Detroit, said.

Though it's still four inches below its historic average, Lake Superior was four inches higher last month than it was in December, 2008, he said.

The comeback has been slightly more impressive for lakes Michigan and Huron, which are hydrologically viewed as one body of water. Though five inches below their historic average, the Michigan-Huron pairing was 10 inches higher than it was in December, 2008, Mr. Kompoltowicz said.

Lake Erie is right about at its historic mean.
Eighty percent of Lake Erie's water comes down the Detroit River from Lake St. Clair and the three upper Great Lakes of Superior, Michigan, and Huron.

"We're expected to stay right at its long-term level for the next six months for Lake Erie," Mr. Kompoltowicz said. Lake Ontario finished 2009 three inches lower than it was in December, 2008.

The current era of low water levels came in the late 1990s, after 30 years of usually high water. The fact that other 30-year eras preceded that one shows that at least part of the fluctuation is natural and occurs in cycles, scientists have said.

But experts say it's probably too soon to declare the latest decade-old era of low water levels over, especially with the Earth's climate warming and lower lake levels predicted as a consequence.

A study issued in the fall of 2007 by 75 area scientists from nearly 50 government, business, academic, and public-interest groups claimed warming and evaporation trends could cause Lake Erie water levels to drop 3.28 feet to 6.56 feet by 2066.

The estimates were based on findings by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the world's most prestigious group of climatologists.

A subsequent paper that appeared in Environmental Science & Technology suggested Lake Erie and Lake Ontario water levels will become largely dependent on the rainfall they pick up from additional hurricanes and tropical storms. More violent weather is anticipated as the climate warms. Lakes Superior, Michigan, and Huron are too far north to pick up substantial amounts of rain from storms, the report stated.

The resurgence for the three Upper Great Lakes in 2009 is attributed to "some very active weather through the lakes the past two years," Mr. Kompoltowicz said.

That includes a larger snowpack on the Canadian side of Lake Superior than had been seen in years past. Snow holds a lot of water and is among the most efficient ways of recharging lakes. But while the outlook is promising now for the summer of 2010, things could all come crashing down if more ice doesn't form soon - especially in western Lake Erie, the shallowest part of the Great Lakes region.

Unbeknownst to many, late fall and early winter are the cruelest times for lakes. Far more evaporation occurs then than in summer, because there is a greater disparity between the air and water temperatures when it's cold.

John Hageman, a longtime Lake Erie ice-fishing guide and manager of Ohio State University's Stone Laboratory near Put-in-Bay, said last week the "quiet water" near the Lake Erie Islands had started to freeze. "Everything west of the islands is frozen," he said.

Lake Erie has been freezing later and more infrequently in recent years. It failed to freeze over in 2002, 2004, and 2006, Mr. Hageman said. He said he does not consider a lake frozen until it has ice six to eight inches thick.

"I don't take anybody out [icefishing] until we have at least eight," Mr. Hageman said. Jeff Reutter, director of NOAA's Ohio Sea Grant program and Ohio State University's Stone Laboratory near Put-in-Bay, said people shouldn't read too much into stabilized water levels. Climate scientists have documented changes under way in the Great Lakes region, including a rise in evening temperatures over the past 20-some years.

They've documented less snow and ice over the past 20 years, too, notwithstanding Ontario's snowfall over the past two years.

In the future, they expect the Great Lakes regions to get more rain. But it's expected to come in the form of fast-moving storms and far short of what is needed to compensate for increased evaporation, Mr. Reutter said.

Toledo Blade


Volunteers sought for sailing adventures

1/5 - Traverse City, Mich. - Two area maritime-related organizations hope to boost their volunteer rosters thanks to training sessions kicking off this week. Both sailing novices with no previous experience required and veterans of the water or specific programs are welcome to participate.

On Wednesday evening, the Inland Seas Education Association begins its annual instructor's training at the organization's Suttons Bay facility. Weekly sessions, except for a public seminar Jan. 13, run through March 24, each covering a station aboard the schoolship.

An intensive, all-day training will also be offered in April as an alternative for those who cannot make the weekly evening sessions. On-water session for all new instructors will be held in April to finish the training.

With a roster of just more than 200 volunteers, each winter Inland Seas looks to replace the 20-30 instructors who move on every year. And to build up a cushion of trained instructors.

"We're always looking to increase our volunteer corps because there are times of the year when we are really busy and, even with 200 people, we don't have enough," said Tom Kelly, who founded the organization in 1989 and serves as executive director.

"We just could not do these school programs without our volunteers," he said.

Thursday evening, the Maritime Heritage Alliance launches its own five-session crew training at the organization's Discovery Center – Great Lakes, located on South West Bayshore Drive in Traverse City. Attendees will master skills required to sail the organization's schooner Madeline and the armed sloop Welcome. In the spring new crew members will complete on-water training in West Grand Traverse Bay.

After a busy season last summer, 2010 voyage destinations aboard these ships will include Bay City, Green Bay and Chicago. Excitement and adventure will abound for these volunteer crew members, said Mark Thompson, executive director for the Maritime Heritage Association.

"There will be a lot of cool sailing opportunities this year," he said. "We're really looking to build our crew of capable sailors for Welcome this year."

The 2009 crew training session drew more than 50 new students, with about 35 going on to sail with the organization.

"Our program is about history; we've got about 30 boats total in our fleet, though not all of them are currently sailing," Thompson said.

With a mission to protect the Great Lakes through education, Inland Seas and its 77-foot, two-masted schooner, appropriately named Inland Seas, teaches nearly 3,500 school children annually. About half of these children have never been aboard a ship before. Summer programs reach another 1,500 people.

The vision is that all will leave with a greater appreciation of these unique waters.

"The concept here is we're teaching science about how the Great Lakes work and by doing that we try to get kids excited about science and try to get them interested in protecting the Great Lakes for all of their lives," Kelly said. "Because after they've been out, and seen and experienced it firsthand, it makes a big difference."

For more information on Maritime Heritage Alliance basic crew training visit And for information on Inland Seas instructor training visit

Traverse City Record-Eagle


Closing Midwest waterway would disrupt U.S. economy, group says

1/5 - A multistate effort to close parts of a key Midwest waterway would hurt the U.S. economy, according to a business-lobby group.

The closure is intended to prevent an invasive fish species from reaching Lake Michigan. Briefs are due with the U.S. Supreme Court Thursday after Michigan's attorney general last week filed a suit calling for the closure of two locks in a system that links the lake to the Mississippi River. Ohio and Wisconsin backed the move.

The move caught Illinois by surprise and triggered a legal battle over the economic impact of a proposed "ecological separation" of the Great Lakes from the inland U.S. waterway system around Chicago.

The suit filed against Illinois, the waterway operator and the Army Corp of Engineers comes amid mounting concerns that the feared Asian carp could reach the lakes, potentially wreaking havoc on the annual $7.2 billion leisure and fishing sector.

While all sides agree on the need to block the advance of the carp, business groups are gearing up to battle any plan that effectively bars traffic between the lakes and the inland U.S. waterway system -- a key route for agricultural, petrochemical and construction traffic.

Opponents of any closure warn the move could inflate prices for agricultural commodities and other goods, including materials used in infrastructure projects tied to the federal stimulus package.

Jim Farrell, executive vice president of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, said closing the locks would divert thousands of shipments onto the region's roads. He estimated the move could add $500 million to transportation costs for the U.S. corn industry.

The Alliance for the Great lakes, a non-partisan group, maintains the lakes and waterways "could be separated with minimal impacts on the flow of goods and to recreational boaters."

The chamber is calling for more "inventive solutions" and working up its own economic impact analysis on behalf of Illinois, which declined comment ahead of filing its brief with the Supreme Court.

Preventing an invasion by massive fish species "is paramount in avoiding an ecologic and economic disaster," Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson wrote in the state's brief to the Supreme Court.

Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox is pressing for quick action on the request. "The time to do this is now," spokesman Nick De Leeuw said. "If a few [carp] get into the Great Lakes, it will devastate fishing for good."

A single Asian carp was found earlier this month in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, seven miles from the lake, having passed an underwater electrical barrier designed to block their path.

Permanently closing the O'Brien Lock in the Calumet Sag Channel would effectively block dozens of industrial businesses with waterfront sites in the Port of Chicago area on the city's far South Side from accessing the Illinois and Mississippi rivers and the Gulf of Mexico.

"Obviously, everybody on the maritime side is supportive of the [Army] Corps [of Engineers] keeping the waterways open," said Anthony Ianello, executive director of the Illinois International Port District, which operates Iroquois Landing, a 100-acre barge and ship terminal at the mouth of the Calumet River at Lake Michigan.

Ianello said it's unlikely the locks would be permanently closed because transferring waterborne bulk materials like salt and coal from to trucks or rail cars -- even for short distances -- would be prohibitively expensive.

"I don't foresee that happening," he said. "The minute we touch a piece of cargo, there is a cost."

Concrete ready-mix operators in the Chicago area that receive sand, gravel and Portland cement on barges predict their costs would increase by 20% to 30% if they had to rely on truck deliveries of aggregate materials.

Wall Street Journal


Updates - January 5

News Photo Gallery
Lay-up list updated - please send updates to


Today in Great Lakes History - January 5

The keel was laid January 5, 1972, for 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.


Seaway upgrade plans depend on federal funds

1/4 - Massena, N.Y. — A gloomy shipping season will not affect the St. Lawrence Seaway's improvement plans, as officials begin to look forward to the list of projects they are trying to complete in 2010.

However, that does not mean all the money slated for construction projects is a sure thing.

"How good a year we have or how bad a year we have does not dictate how much we will get," said Salvatore E. Pisani, regional director of the Seaway Development Corp. "What does dictate it is the overall economy. In hard economic times, we could see a reduction in those monies."

Mr. Pisani could not say how much of an impact the weak economy might have on the government's willingness to give the federal Department of Transportation, which administers the Seaway, extra money to continue the construction projects.

The Seaway is scheduled to get about $17 million from the federal government, in addition to its regular annual budget of about the same amount, to improve Seaway facilities, many of which have not been touched since the shipping route was built five decades ago.

"Will it change? There's a possibility it may change, and if it does, then our engineers will have to take a harder look at projects that were slated to be done," Mr. Pisani said.

The government announced a decade-long "asset renewal plan" last winter, while the Seaway was closed for routine winter maintenance. In the 10 years outlined in the plan, Seaway administrators hope to complete 50 projects, from updating lock equipment to repaving roads and repainting the south span of the Seaway International Bridge.

The St. Lawrence Seaway had one of its worst shipping seasons last year since it opened in 1959, spokeswoman Nancy T. Alcade said. Total cargo was down almost 30 percent, according to the latest numbers available, released in November.

Some of the projects begun in 2009 will be completed this year, such as dredging the area between the Snell and Eisenhower locks and upgrading buoys. If the full amount of promised federal funding comes through, work on the Seaway International Bridge will begin, as well as road improvements at the Seaway's facilities.

Routine winter maintenance will begin this month. The Seaway will find out in the spring how much money it will get through the asset renewal plan. Until then, none of the projects slated for 2010 can begin, though officials are planning for the extra construction.

"When the budget is passed, we take a look at what we were given and what we can do," Mr. Pisani said. "All we're doing now is engineering work."

Watertown Daily Times


Port Reports - January 4

Marquette, Mich. - Rod Burdick
Mississagi waited to load ore at the Upper Harbor on a snowy, blustery Saturday. She has been in port since Wednesday.

Alpena, Mich. - Ben & Chanda McClain
The tug Manitou arrived in Alpena Thursday night. It will be in the area to break ice in the bay and at the Lafarge slip for the Samuel de Champlain and barge Innovation. Innovation was in port on Friday afternoon loading cement. It headed out during the evening but ended up anchoring in the bay because of the weather. The Innovation remained at anchor on Saturday as the weather continued to be nasty with strong winds, snow showers and very cold temperatures. Canadian Progress was also at anchor off Alpena on Saturday.

Toledo, Ohio - Jim Hoffman
The Torco Ore Dock remains open for the season with the following vessels due in: tug Dorothy Ann and barge Pathfinder on Wednesday, American Mariner on Thursday, Charles M. Beeghly on Friday and tug Dorothy Ann and barge Pathfinder and Mesabi Miner on Monday (11th). This vessel schedule depends on weather and ice conditions. The CSX Coal Dock and Midwest Terminal Stone Dock are closed for the season. American Fortitude and the American Valor remain in lay-up. As the shipping season winds down, several vessels are expected to arrive at Toledo for winter layup during the next two weeks.


Updates - January 4

Weekly Website Updates
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Lay-up list updated - please send updates to


Today in Great Lakes History - January 4

On January 4, 1978, 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.


Today in Great Lakes History - January 3

03 January 2003 - For the second year in a row the tanker GEMINI (steel propeller tanker, 420 foot, 5,853 gross tons, 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. Sold Canadian in 2005, renamed b.) ALGOSAR.

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.

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.


Montreal port welcomes the first ship of 2010

1/2 - Montreal, Que. – OOCL Belgium has become the first ship to sail into Montreal's port in 2010.The vessel arrived in the port's downstream limits 51 minutes after midnight.

Port President Sylvie Vachon was on hand to greet Capt. Steven Lloyd and crew when the vessel finally docked in Montreal.

Vachon and the crew toasted a new year of commercial navigation.

On Monday, Lloyd will be presented with a golden-headed cane - a trophy given to the captain of the first ship to sail into the port each year as part of a tradition dating back to 1840.

The OOCL Belgium sailed from Liverpool, in the United Kingdom, on Dec. 24.

The Canadian Press


Port Reports - January 2

Buffalo, N.Y. – Brian Wroblewski
December ended with very little vessel activity when compared to years past. The only action for the last week of 2009 was the Leudtke dredge. The Leudtke #16 was working just off the observation tower of the Erie Basin on Friday, still inside the Black Rock Canal Entrance Channel, but further North than they were the week before. Waves driven by high winds were crashing over the seawall that morning. The harbor and lake were ice-free, but the Buffalo River and City Ship Canal were frozen over. The river had been broken out from Michigan Street, downstream to the North Entrance. There was a lot of loose ice in the reach between the bridge and the Watson Basin, but the rest of the river was solid plate ice at that time.


Today in Great Lakes History - January 2

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 & MacFarlane in Oswego, New York. Her owners were Mrs. Goble & MacFarlane, 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.


Icebreaker headed for Georgian Bay

1/1 - Midland, Ont. - An American icebreaker will be in Midland Harbor next week to clear a path in the shipping channel. From Monday until Thursday, U.S. Coast Guard cutter Mobile Bay will break ice for various vessels into Georgian Bay.

The Barrie Examiner


Port Reports - January 1

Twin Ports – Al Miller
American Mariner departed Midwest Energy Terminal in Superior late Thursday morning, proceeding slowly through broken ice. USCGC Alder was working ice in the morning, including the front channel and the turning basin off the port terminal. The cutter was standing by at the turning basin as the Mariner departed.

Marquette, Mich. - Rod Burdick and Lee Rowe
New Year's Eve found McKee Sons and Manitowoc secured on the north side of the Upper Harbor ore dock and Charles M. Beeghly on the south side. Mississagi remained at anchor off the Lower Harbor.

St. Marys River
Lower Lakes Towing was well represented on the river Thursday, with Kaministiqua and Ojibway downbound and Cuyahoga upbound. Evans McKeil and her barge, Niagara Spirit, returned upbound for Essar Algoma while Lee A. Tregurtha and Adam E. Cornelius were downbound in the late morning. Roger Blough and Dorothy Ann/Pathfinder made upbound transits in the late evening.

Buffalo, N.Y. – Brian Wroblewski
The pump out barge Lucille T was back at the Army Corps Disposal Pond at Stony Point with her flood lights blazing in the darkness around 8 p.m. on Wednesday. The tug Kurt Leudtke could be seen pushing a scow down the Outer Harbor towards the South Entrance.


Algosea draws spectators at Port Huron

1/1 - Port Huron, Mich. – The tanker Algosea docked shortly before 2 p.m. last Sunday at the Port Huron Seaway Terminal on the St. Clair River. The Canadian tankers normally lay-up across the river in Sarnia.

"We haven't laid up a ship there in a long time," said Wayne Smith, senior vice president of the commercial department for Algoma Central Corporation. "She's there with a maintenance crew doing some maintenance work."

Smith said the ship isn't carrying cargo and could be in Port Huron for two weeks or more than two months awaiting orders.

He said they often have scattered layups throughout the fleet in the winter. Smith said it's likely the Algosea will return to the waterways depending, in part, on demand.

"She's an ice-class ship, well suited for winter operations," he said.

Smith said the Algosea is the second largest ship in their fleet of tankers, with a capacity of 16,700 tons and a crew of 12. The Algosea worked much of last winter along the Canadian East coast, he said.

The full double-hull tanker built in 1998 in Alabama carries a variety of petroleum products.

Port Huron Times Herald


Updates - January 1

Lay-up list updated - please send updates to
Happy New Year from the BoatNerd.Com crew!


Today in Great Lakes History - January 1

On this day in 1958, 76-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.


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