Great Lakes & Seaway Shipping News Archive

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Bramble sold, will remain in Port Huron

1/31 - Port Huron, Mich. – The former U.S. Coast Guard ship Bramble isn’t going anywhere — for now. The Port Huron Museum sold the ship to Robert B. and Sara Klingler, of Marine City, Mich. The sale became official at 11:06 a.m. Wednesday, when the final paperwork was signed on the ship.

“This is a great moment. The ship is so historic. It has so many accolades and has such a wonderful history,” Robert B. Klingler said. “… The ship is absolutely pristine, and we’re very excited.”

Originally listed at $300,000, the price was reduced to $200,000 late last year. Both Robert B. Klingler and Susan Bennett, executive director at the museum, declined to say for how much the ship was sold Bennett said it was less than the list price. She said 76 percent of the proceeds will go toward closing fees and clearing debt the museum acquired in the last five to 10 years.

The Klinglers plan to upgrade and re-open the ship as a tourist attraction providing tours and overnight opportunities.

“We’re going to be tremendous stewards of this very historic ship,” Robert B. Klingler said. “… We’re going to run it like it deserves to be run. It’s going to be upgraded. We’re going to take everything that was supposed to run and work and get it going again.”

Built in 1943 and commissioned a year later, the Bramble was donated to the Port Huron Museum after it was decommissioned in 2003. The museum’s board of trustees decided to sell the ship in December 2009 because it was too expensive for the museum to manage. It was listed in April 2010.

A variety of interested parties looked into buying the ship, but nothing had panned out.

The Klinglers own two companies, Rockford Carving Co., which manufactures guitar parts, and Klingler Automatic, which specializes in the exploration, development, production and storage of oil and natural gas, according to its website.

They also own two other World War II-era vessels — a 1942 U.S. Coast Guard rescue boat and Hackercraft target boat.

“As far as natural progression, this is a big boat; this is a tremendous boat, but we didn’t want to see it leave and go down to the Bahamas and turn into a working boat and lose any of its tremendous history and character,” Klingler said.

The ship will remain at its current location at the Seaway Terminal for three years as part of an agreement with Acheson Ventures.

“The location is absolutely beautiful and excellent for the ship itself,” Klingler said. “Our primary concern is to keep the ship as good or better condition and keep improving it, so where it’s at is ideal at this point. In the long run, we do plan on getting it started, changing its status and possibly taking Sea Cadets or other groups to go out and go for a cruise and learn what it’s all about, learn what history does for the young people as it makes them choose a really great career.”

Bennett said the museum has given the Klinglers a lot of information about starting educational programs and will be available to answer questions. She said officials are excited to see the ship will remain in the area and still be part of the community. “Many people’s wishes are granted that it’s going to stay here,” Bennett said.

Sara Klingler stressed the ship will not be altered. “It’s not going to be changed,” she said, “just improved.”

Port Huron Times Herald


Great Lakes shipping in 2012 good, not great

1/31 - Duluth, Minn. – Great Lakes cargo numbers weren’t great in the season that just ended: not bad, but not great.

Saltie traffic carrying cargo from overseas saw a 4 percent increase, but U.S-flagged shipping on the Great Lakes was down 4.5 percent. The largest of the Great Lakes ports, Duluth-Superior, was down about 1 percent. Port Director Adolph Ojard says iron ore continued to be their mainstay.

“We’re hoping that that stays strong in 2013,” he said. “Coal, relatively flat, as the previous year as were most of the other commodities. So all in all a good year, but not what we’re used to back prior to the 2007 downturn.”

Sixty-eight foreign vessels called on Duluth-Superior last year, about the same as 2011. Ojard says economic stability in Europe and Asia is a big part of an overall recovery.

“So you really want to see an improvement in the world economy. We’re starting to see that,” he said. “I think it will be led by the U.S. so that’s very positive.”

Cargo aside, there’s always the boat watchers. Ken Newhams edits “Duluth Shipping News.” He says tourists love the streamlined salties and the thousand-foot lakers.

“People who visit in the summer go bonkers when they see a big ship,” he said. “Many tourists, ‘Whoa, that’s the biggest ship on the Great Lakes? I can’t believe it.’ I mean, when I take a picture of a boat, I like to get people in it and almost invariably they’re holding their phone up.”

Ice will hold ships in their winter berths for another two months. Newhams says he can use the break.

Superior Telegram


Power plant switch to natural gas

1/31 - A Lake Superior power plant that uses coal shipped by lake freighter from Midwest Energy Terminal will be switching to natural gas for fuel, according to an article in the Duluth News Tribune.

The newspaper reported on its website Wednesday that Minnesota Power is converting its Hoyt Lakes power plant from coal to natural gas. Work to convert the plant will take place in 2015.

In addition, Minnesota Power is retiring one of three coal-burning units at Taconite Harbor. Two other coal-burning units will continue operating because they previously received anti-pollution equipment to reduce mercury emissions.

Both the Hoyt Lakes and the Taconite Harbor power plants receive coal from Midwest Energy Terminal. In recent years, vessels from Interlake Steamship Company have handled most of those cargoes.


Lake Erie off to another slow start for ice cover

1/31 - Cleveland, Ohio – The snowbelt took a beating last week. Thompson Township in Geauga County had 26.3 inches of snow on the ground on Friday. Chardon had 21 inches, Kirtland had 18, and Mentor had just over 9.

Blame it on a lack of ice on Lake Erie. Open water means it's open season for the snow belt.

Over the weekend the lake was about 40 percent covered with ice, according to Great Lakes CoastWatch, and it's concentrated in the west near Toledo and the Detroit River. The lake was mostly open until last week, when a cold front sent temperatures plunging across the region.

"Actually, (the ice formation) did happen pretty quickly," said meteorologist Karen Oudeman of the National Weather Service in Cleveland. "It was open water on the 17th (of January)."

A lot of that open water will return early this week when temperatures approach the 60s. However, it will turn cold again by Thursday, and Friday's high is expected to be about 20 degrees.

"Things will slow down on lake with that warm spell," Oudeman said. "Then it will be able to grow that ice a little more."

So what's with lack of ice? It's the end of January and Lake Erie still isn't at least mostly frozen?

Actually, maximum ice on the lake usually doesn't occur until mid-February, said George Leshkevich, manager of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association's Great Lakes CoastWatch in Ann Arbor, Mich. However, the ice cover on the Great Lakes is at near-historic lows. Last year, Lake Erie didn't even reach 20 percent of ice cover.

"It's quite variable from year to year, and it seems like it's getting more variable in recent years," Leshkevich said. "In the last 40 years or so, the trend would be for less ice on the Great Lakes."

In fact, data from Leshkevich and other scientists show a drop in ice cover on the Great Lakes of 71 percent during that time.

Lake Erie did nearly reach 100 percent ice coverage in 2010-11, according to CoastWatch data It also came close in 2008-09 and 2009-10, Leshkevich said. Lake Superior had nearly no ice on it in 2002, but in 2003 it was almost 100 percent covered.

"That's what can happen from one year to the next," he said.

All of that open water this year doesn't just mean a better chance for lake-effect snow. Leshkevich says the lack of ice cover has an environmental impact on the lake.

"It can affect fisheries," he said. "Whitefish, yellow perch and some other types of fish rely on stable ice cover to protect spawning beds from winter weather."

The lack of ice also leads to more evaporation, which is a concern because lake levels already are low. Leshkevich said the lack of ice also means the lake heats up quickly in the spring and is susceptible to warmer temperatures in the summer, and that can lead to abnormally high levels of nutrients and the formation of thick algae blooms.

"We've seen some pretty warm temperatures on all the lakes in recent years," Leshkevich said.

And while part of the variability is from natural causes, human influence on the climate is also playing a role, climatologists say.

"You had variability years ago, but it seems to be more intense the last few years," Leshkevich said.

Cleveland Plain Dealer


Lake levels sinking to new lows

1/31 - Windsor, Ont. – The dried-out water markings on the steel breakwalls around Lakeview Marina tell the story of water levels dropping to lows on the Detroit River and Great Lakes not seen since the mid-1960s. In some cases the levels are breaking all-time records.

The situation is so dire that Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder announced Friday the state will develop "emergency" action plans to deal with low levels of Great Lakes harbors and waterways that threaten both the pleasure boat and shipping industries.

There were dozens of people ice fishing around Windsor's Lakeview Marina on Sunday. Their depth finders indicated only about five to six feet below them - roughly half of what the water levels were just a couple of years ago, they said.

Among options Michigan will consider are pumping dollars into dredging harbors, canals and waterways connected to the lakes - no easy feat for the cash-strapped state.

"A lot of Michiganders don't realize that lake levels are extremely low," the governor said at the Michigan Press Association conference in Grand Rapids. "It is critically important to tourism and other things in Michigan, in terms of normal business and commerce."

Lake Huron and Lake Michigan matched record lows for December set back in the mid-1960s, said the U.S. army Corps of Engineers, which monitors water levels. Lake Superior, Erie, Ontario and St. Clair also are well below long-term averages.

A lack of snowfall, ice and rain the past couple of years is being blamed for the shockingly shallow depths, the army corps said.

Lake Superior is currently about 34 centimetres below its long-term average for January, and three centimetres below a year ago, reports the Lake Superior Board of Control, which includes Environment Canada officials and regulates outflow.

The flow of water in the Great Lakes starts at Lake Superior, travels down through lakes Michigan and Huron, through Lake St. Clair and the Detroit River, before moving east through Lake Erie, Lake Ontario and into the St. Lawrence Seaway.

The control board indicated earlier this month that levels for Lake Michigan-Huron are roughly 71 centimetres below its long-term average and 41 centimetres below where it was last year.

Peter Berry, harbour master for the Windsor Port Authority, said the Detroit River has dropped roughly two feet from a year ago. He expects commercial shipping in this area will remain fine despite the big drop. But the trend is troubling for everybody, he said.

"This is an issue for all of us," Berry said. "Marinas are having issues. Shipping eventually will be affected. Low water levels are a big concern.

"What we need is snow, rain and ice. We need to replenish the Great Lakes in the natural way. The marina is fine to this point, but we will see what the spring and summer bring us."

Commercial shipping docks in the Windsor area are not so problematic because most cargo ships have no need to go against the docks. They have capability to off-load automatically from 100 feet offshore, he said.

The current flow through the Detroit River is so strong it creates natural dredging through the shipping channel, Berry said.

"The Detroit River definitely has less water, but we haven't faced what other shipping channels have had to go through," he said.

"But there is displacement all through the lakes. A beachfront owner has suddenly got more beach. People who always had water against their wall, don't now. Instead they've got a beach."

Windsor Star


Live the life of a Victorian-era light keeper at Tawas Point Lighthouse

1/31 - East Tawas, Mich. – The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is seeking volunteers to spend a week or two between March 1 and Dec. 20 acting as lighthouse keepers for the Tawas Point Lighthouse during the 2013 lighthouse keeper season.

The lighthouse is located on the grounds of Tawas Point State Park along the shores of Lake Huron in East Tawas. Volunteers must be willing to study up on the lighthouse’s rich maritime history in order to lead visitor tours, work in the museum’s gift shop or perform other miscellaneous duties. In exchange for their work contribution, volunteers can stay in the newly renovated keeper’s quarters for a cost of $250 per person, per week.

The living quarters include two bedrooms and a modern kitchen and bath.

“The lighthouse has been in operation since 1876 and is still an active aid to navigation,” said Chuck Allen, unit supervisor for Tawas Point. “It’s one of only nine lighthouses on the Great Lakes with a working Fresnel lens.”

According to Allen, 62 volunteer lighthouse keepers stayed in the lighthouse from April through Christmas in 2012.

The lighthouse keeper program is open to singles and couples 18 years and older. Allen suggested that volunteers should be physically able to lead tours through the lighthouse and tower and perform housekeeping duties such as light maintenance or lawn care. Applications can be obtained at Dates and prices are effective through 2013. For details, call 989-362-5658.



Today in Great Lakes History -  January 31

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.

1917: DUNDEE, which left the Great Lakes in 1915 after service in several fleets including Canada Steamship Lines, was torpedoed and sunk by U-55. The vessel was 10 miles north and west of Ives Head, Cornwall, England, while enroute, in ballast, from London to Swansea. One life was lost.

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


Attempts to raise fish tug Sandy continue

1/30 - Ludington, Mich. – Commercial fishermen worked Monday and Tuesday morning to raise a fishing boat the Sandy that sank over the weekend at its mooring off Water Street on Pere Marquette Lake.

Divers connected cables suspended from a boom truck to the Sandy, which as of early this morning remained completely submerged. Larry Gustafson used his boom truck to attempt to raise the boat. Because of the Sandy being moored outside of another tribally-licensed boat, the Judy B, the operation could not be completed Monday.

The plan was to move more ice away from the Judy B so it could be moved down the wall to allow the Sandy to be raised closer to the wall. Once the Sandy can be brought partially to the surface, the plan is to pump water out of it. As the water is removed they plan to continue to use the boom truck to raise it.

According to the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, some oil/fuel spillage was noticed during the weekend. The Natural Resources Department of the tribal government deployed its oil spill response trailer to contain the spill. Each of the fishing tribes in the Chippewa Ottawa Resource Authority (CORA) on Lake Michigan and Lake Huron have these trailers and have received training in use of the containment equipment as part of their emergency management responsibility.

Ludington Daily News


Shipmasters to convene in Traverse City

1/30 - Traverse City, Mich. – The International Shipmasters Association Grand Lodge Convention will be held Feb- 6-10 at the Park Place hotel in Traverse City. At this convention, Rebecca Hancock, the current Grand Lodge First Vice President, will assume the office of Grand President. She will replace Captain Seann O'Donoughue.

Click here to view the convention program



Wanted: Ludington-area lighthouse keepers

1/30 - Ludington, Mich. – If being a lighthouse keeper is on your bucket list, here’s an opportunity to check it off.

The Sable Points Lighthouse Keepers Association (SPLKA) is seeking volunteers to man the Ludington North Breakwater Light and the Little Sable Point Lighthouse in the Mears area. One week “tours of duty” are available at these beachside lights and lodging is provided within cabins at the nearby state parks.

Locals can also choose to commute for a full weekend or daylong “tour of duty” at the White River Light Station in Whitehall, but no lodging is available at this site.

Matt Varnum, operations manager of the lighthouse association, urges everyone interested to apply, especially because the experience comes with benefits.

“It’s a rewarding experience because the people who are keepers get to spend their time on beautiful Lake Michigan. These volunteers get to meet a wide range of people from across the country and from different countries of the world.” He added, “They can not only share information about Michigan maritime history, but also stories from their own lives. New friendships are made along with new experiences that one may never of had if they were not lighthouse keepers.”

Everyone is invited to apply, but it does help to have an outgoing personality. “The type of personality that makes a good keeper is someone who is a people person, they have no trouble interacting with a various range of people from different age groups and personalities of their own,” said Varnum. “Someone who is a hard worker would also make a good keeper along with someone who has a passion for history and has no trouble sharing that history with people.”

And, once you spend some time at these lighthouses, it may be hard to stop. Some of the volunteers have been with SPLKA for 12 years.

Holland Sentinel


Wisconsin Maritime Museum announces February events

1/30 - Manitowoc, Wis. – In February, the Wisconsin Maritime Museum, 75 Maritime Dr. in Manitowoc, will host a variety of talks exploring ships, schooners and lighthouses and offer more of its popular Nook & Cranny submarine tours.

Saturday Learning Series: Sturgeon Bay Shipbuilding History
Saturday, February 2, 1:00 p.m.
Join Door County Maritime Museums Executive Director, Bob Desh, for a lively look at the rich heritage of shipping and shipbuilding in Sturgeon Bay.

Saturday Learning Series: The Schooner Era in Wisconsin
Saturday, February 9, 1:00 p.m.
Peter Hirthe of the Wisconsin Marine Historical Society will share an overview of the schooner age with numerous photos from the Great Lakes Marine Collection.

Saturday Learning Series: Women in the History of the U.S. Lighthouses
Saturday, February 16
The position of light keeper was the first U.S. government managerial position open to women.

Lighthouse historian John Enright will share the adventurous lives of more than 20 female keepers – brave, stalwart, hard-working women who served their country and brought safety to the mariners who sailed within the range of their lights.

Each Saturday talk is free for museum members. For those who are not members, the presentations are $5 or free with paid admission to the museum.

Nook & Cranny Tour of USS Cobia
Sunday, February 10, 1:00 p.m.
Sunday, February 24, 1:00 p.m.

The Nook & Cranny tours offer visitors a special opportunity to go behind-the-scenes for an extensive look at USS Cobia, the most completely restored WWII submarine in the United States and a National Historic Landmark.

The small group tours last two to three hours, depending on the number of questions, and give guests a chance to explore areas of the submarine not normally covered. Hear about daily life for the 80-man crew who served aboard Cobia and learn how they managed with just three showers on the sub. See the 24 torpedoes that were fired to sink enemy warships and learn about hot bunking. The tour includes visits to the conning tower, officers quarters, crews quarters, mess hall, forward and aft torpedo rooms, pump room, lower engine room and more.

Visit for more information


Today in Great Lakes History -  January 30

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

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, crews began the removal of the four Hulett ore unloaders on Whiskey Island in Cleveland.

1999: The SD 14 freighter LITSA first came through the Seaway in 1977 as a) SANTA THERESA and was the last saltwater ship of the year downbound through that waterway in 1981. It was sailing as e) LITSA when fire broke out in the engine room off Senegal on this date. The blaze spread through the accommodation area and the crew got off safely. The hull was first towed to Dakar, Senegal, and then, after a sale to Turkish shipbreakers, it arrived at Aliaga on August 6, 2001.

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


Lower Lakes re-registers two more vessels

1/29 - On January 28 Lower Lakes Towing re-registered Michipicoten and Saginaw in Port Dover. This follows the transfer to Port Dover registry on January 18 of the other ships in the fleet that were also once registered in Nanticoke.

Mac Mackay


Seaway salties renamed

1/29 - The following is a list of salties that have been renamed all of which made appearances on the Great Lakes.

Ziemia Tarnowska is now Lord G from Belize while Ziemia Zamojska is now Sakhalin from Dominica. Warta is now the Abdullatif from Belize while the Utviken is now the Zoloto Kolymy from Russia. Stavrodromi is now the Ice Hawk from Liberia, Sichem Padua is now the True Colors from Liberia, Sichem Peace is now the Pacific Ocean from Singapore. The Olympic Melody is now the Mimar Sinan from Cook Islands while the Olympic Mentor was renamed the Cornilios has been renamed again to the At 30 from Togo. Corn Hill is now the Seagrand from Russia. Clipper Golfito is now Oriental Clematis from Singapore. Odra is now Hekmeh of Saint Kitts and Nevis registration.

Denny Dushane


Obituary: Norm Wood

1/29 - Norm Wood of St. Catharines, Ont., passed away in St. Catharines General Hospital on January 26 in his 88th year. He had lost his wife of 68 years earlier in the month. Norm enjoyed taking photos of ships in the Welland Canal and around Hamilton. He willingly shared his images with others.


Updates -  January 29

Lay-up list updated


Today in Great Lakes History -  January 29

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 - 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.

1975: RATTRAY HEAD, a Seaway trader first in 1971, ran aground on Black Rock Shoal, Galway Bay, while inbound with a cargo of coal. The ship was a total loss.

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


John G Munson remains at Port Terminal

1/28 - Duluth, Minn. – On Friday The John G. Munson did not move to Fraser Shipyards as reported she would after fueling. She instead shifted to her usual wintering spot for last few years about a boat length up from the fueling dock, on the corner of the Port Terminal. She was seen releasing her ballast, which caused a lot of steam to cloud about her as she rose up higher in the water in preparation for her layup.

D. Edward Clark


Michigan considers emergency measures for low lake levels

1/28 - Grand Rapids, Mich. – Gov. Rick Snyder said Friday his administration is developing plans to take "emergency" action to deal with Great Lakes harbors plagued by record-low water levels that threaten to keep large pleasure boats docked next summer.

With lake levels at their lowest point since the mid-1960s, Snyder said the specter of recreational and commercial fishing boats being unable to get in and out of harbors requires an "urgent or emergency kind of option." A likely option is dredging harbors, canals and waterways that connect to the lakes, some of which haven't been dredged in decades.

"A lot of Michiganders don't realize that lake levels are extremely low," Snyder said at the Michigan Press Association conference in Grand Rapids. "It is critically important to tourism and other things in Michigan, in terms of normal business and commerce."

Snyder would not say Friday what his funding plan for dredging is or how much he believes needs to be spent immediately and in the long term.

As the Snyder administration formulates its plan to be unveiled Feb. 7 as part of the governor's 2013-14 fiscal year budget presentation legislation was introduced Thursday that could provide state funding for dredging harbors that serve recreational boats.

House Bill 4106 would allow municipalities and harbor authorities to apply for funding through the $500 million Natural Resource Trust Fund, which is normally used for buying state recreation and hunting land.

Local governments would have to cover at least 10 percent of the dredging costs to get a grant.

Rep. Bob Genetski, the bill sponsor, said Lake Kalamazoo in his Allegan County district is dangerously low at the mouth of Lake Michigan.

"Right now, if you've got a boat with a keel, you're not going to get up in the lake at all," said Genetski, R-Saugatuck. "You'd be scraping bottom, easily."

Lake Huron and Lake Michigan, which sit at the same level, set record December lows last month and are on their way to an all-time January low. For the first 24 days of this month, their mean level was 576.03 feet, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which monitors water levels.

The previous January low was 576.10 feet, set in 1965.

Those two lakes are significantly below typical marks, but lakes Superior, Erie, Ontario and St. Clair all trail their long-term averages after 2012 precipitation in the Great Lakes basin fell far below normal.

"We're just keeping our fingers crossed for a bunch of snow as much as I hate to say it," said Chris Button, owner of Rose Harbor along Woodchuck Creek south of Monroe.

The Natural Resources Trust Fund consists of mineral royalties the state collected from 1976 to 2011, when the revenue source was diverted to a fund for state parks. The fund is restricted to spending $25 million to $35 million in annual interest earnings on land acquisitions and recreational development projects, fund manager Steve DeBrabander said.

Dredging harbors may not qualify for trust fund grants under constitutional guidelines, DeBrabander said.

"I think it needs to be resolved whether dredging is development or maintenance," he said. "If it's maintenance, then it's not eligible under the Michigan Constitution."

House Speaker Jase Bolger, who also attended the Michigan Press Association convention, said he would favor tapping the Natural Resources Trust Fund for harbor dredging projects "instead of simply buying more land."

Pete Beauregard Sr., owner of Algonac Harbor in Algonac, said Friday the state should create a low-interest loan program for private harbors to borrow money for dredging projects and fast-track the permit approval process, which normally takes three to six months.

"It would have to have the Gov. Snyder approach of let's get it done don't let the bureaucracy kill it," said Beauregard, who is having his docks along the St. Clair River lowered 2 feet this spring to account for the lower water level.

Since calling for $1.2 billion more in new revenue for roads and bridges in his State of the State address last week, Snyder has included harbors, freight rail and passenger rail as infrastructure projects that would benefit from the extra funds.

Commercial harbors for freight and shipping canals are dredged by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Genetski said.

This spring, the corps plans to dredge Grand Haven Harbor on Lake Michigan, according to the corps' Detroit district office.

Snyder also has made Great Lakes water management a top priority this year. He's planning a summit of Great Lakes governors and Canadian premiers in June on Mackinac Island to talk about the health of the lakes and combating invasive species like Asian carp.

"I think it's time to make a big deal over the Great Lakes," Snyder said Tuesday.

The Detroit News


Refiner considers shipping oil via Great Lakes

1/28 - Milwaukee, Wis. – A petroleum refiner is exploring whether to build a crude oil loading dock on Lake Superior, near its refinery in Superior, Wis., to ship crude oil on the Great Lakes.

Jennifer Straumins, president of Calumet Specialty Product Partners, says the project would provide refineries more access to heavy crude oil from Canada as well as light crude from western North Dakota and eastern Montana.

Todd Borgmann, a vice president at Indianapolis-based Calumet, said in the same statement Friday that they would expect to have the project fully operational during the 2015 shipping season. "Calumet is currently assessing the viability of the project and gauging interest in the marketplace," he wrote.

Environmental groups already are fighting a proposed pipeline that would bring more crude from Canada into the U.S. They're not thrilled about shipping oil via the Great Lakes.



Cold spell sends icebreakers to work

1/28 - Sarnia, Ont. – The recent stretch of winter weather is sending ice into the St. Clair River and putting Canadian and U.S. icebreakers into action.

Carol Launderville, spokesperson for the Canadian Coast Guard, said, “You can expect to see both the Canadian Coast Guard Ship Griffon and the Canadian Coast Guard Ship Samuel Risley carrying out their icebreaking duties in the Sarnia area in the days and weeks to come.” In fact, it started last week.

Barb Molyneaux, an ice service specialist with Environment Canada in Sarnia, said a freeze up has been occurring in southern Lake Huron.

“But, I think the ice is developing more because of the snow squalls,” she added, pointing to the lack of ice forming along the shores of the lake, even with the recent cold temperatures. “It almost looks like there’s more of a snow influence this year, that’s freezing as soon as it hits the water.”

Currently, there is “quite a bit more ice” developing in southern Lake Huron but an ice bridge that could stop it from entering the river hasn’t formed yet, she said Friday. “Right now, there’s a lot more movement.”

Molyneaux said she’s watching the warming trend and possible rain forecast to hit early next week, to be followed by another drop in temperatures. That combination could cause an ice bridge to form later in the week, she said.

Launderville said the coast guard’s ships are busy escorting commercial vessels through the ice between the western basin of Lake Erie and Sarnia. Those icebreaking duties in the river are shared between the Canadian and U.S. coast guards.

She warned that ice along the shipping route “should be considered unsafe and the coast guard advises everyone to stay clear.”

Sarnia Observer


Updates -  January 28

Weekly Website Updates
News Photo Gallery
Lay-up list updated


Today in Great Lakes History -  January 28

SELKIRK SETTLER (Hull #256) was launched January 28, 1983, at Govan, Scotland by Govan Shipbuilding Ltd. She sails today as SPRUCEGLEN for Canada Steamship Lines.

At 4 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.

1965: TRANSWARREN, a T-2 tanker, made three trips through the Seaway in 1960. The vessel began flooding on the Atlantic and sent out a distress call enroute from Bahamas to Ijmuiden, Holland. The ship made it to Ponta Delgada, Azores, for repairs but these were only temporary. On arrival at drydock in Marseilles, France, the vessel was declared a total loss and sold to Spanish shipbreakers at Castellon.

1966: The passenger ship STELLA MARIS came to the Great Lakes in 1959. It caught fire while bunkering at Sarroch Roads, Italy, as e) WESTAR after being refitted for the Alaska trade. Two died, another three were injured and the ship was declared a total loss. It arrived at La Spezia, Italy, for scrapping on April 30, 1966.

1975: CHRISTIAN SARTORI was the closest ship to the CARL D. BRADLEY when it sank in Lake Michigan on November 18, 1958, and helped in the search for survivors. The West German freighter continued to travel to the Great Lakes through 1967 and returned as b) CHRISTIAN in 1968. It ran aground at Puerto Isabel, Nicaragua, on this date after breaking its moorings as e) ROMEO BERNARD. The vessel had to be abandoned as a total loss.

1983: JALAJAYA went aground at the Los Angeles breakwater after the anchors dragged in bad weather. The ship was released and operated until tying up at Bombay, India, on October 3, 1987. It was subsequently scrapped there in 1988. The vessel had not been in service long when it first came through the Seaway in 1967.

1986: ADEL WEERT WIARDS, on the cover of Know Your Ships for 1971, caught fire as c) EBN MAGID enroute from northern Europe to Libya. The vessel docked at Portland, U.K., on the English Channel, the next day but, following two explosions and additional fire on January 30, it was towed away and beached. The vessel was a total loss and scrapped at Bruges, Belgium, later in the year.

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


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.

1972: The Canadian coastal freighter VOYAGEUR D. hit a shoal off Pointe au Pic, Quebec, and was holed. It was able to make the wharf at St. Irenee but sank at the dock. The cargo of aluminum ingots was removed before the wreck was blow up with explosives on November 8, 1972.

1978: A major winter storm caught the American tanker SATURN on Lake Michigan and the ship was reported to be unable to make any headway in 20 foot waves. It left the Seaway for Caribbean service in 2003 and was renamed b) CENTENARIO TRADER at Sorel on the way south.

1978: The tug ALLEGHENY capsized at the dock in a blizzard at Traverse City, Michigan, due to a heavy build up of ice on deck. The vessel was salvaged, towed to Port Huron and returned to service as b) TUG MALCOLM. It left the Great Lakes in July 1998 for saltwater service.

2002: SJARD first came through the Seaway in 2000. It was lost in a raging snowstorm 350 miles east of St. John's Newfoundland with a cargo of oil pipes while inbound from Kalinigrad, Russia. The crew of 14 took to the lifeboat and were picked up by the BEIRAMAR TRES.

2006: PINTAIL received extensive damage in a collision off Callao, Peru, with the TWIN STAR. The latter broke in two and sank. PINTAIL began Seaway service in 1996 and had been a regular Great Lakes trader as a) PUNICA beginning in 1983. The ship arrived at Chittagong, Bangladesh, for scrapping as c) ANATHASIOS G. CALLITSIS and was beached on September 19. 2012. It had also traded inland under the final name in 2008 and 2009.

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


Port Reports -  January 26

Duluth, Minn.
John G. Munson arrived Friday for winter layup.


Green Bay ice breaking operations warning issued

1/26 - Green Bay, Wis. – The tug Erica Kobasic will be conducting ice breaking operations in Green Bay between Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin and the Marinette/Menominee harbor breakwall in order to take a barge into Marinette/Menominee Harbor. The tug will then depart Marinette/Menominee Harbor (light tug) and proceed to Escanaba. This operation will likely occur between Monday afternoon, Jan. 28 and Wednesday, Jan. 30.


Warning: Ice not all it's cracked up to be

1/26 - After a week of the coldest temperatures north central Ohio has seen in four years, ponds, lakes and even some rivers and streams appear to have frozen nicely. In some cases, that’s surely the case. Ponds and some of the smaller lakes have built up several inches of ice, thick enough to be walked on, but fishermen hoping Lake Erie’s new ice cover is dependable should think again.

The lake’s western basin is frozen now from Vermilion all the way across to Canada’s Point Pelee, but the U.S. Coast Guard is warning that it’s not safe enough yet for anyone to venture out and fish on the ice, particularly off the Marblehead Peninsula.

“In a state where it’s just forming, I wouldn’t think it’s safe at all,” George Leshkevich, a research physical scientist at the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory in Ann Arbor, Mich., said. “Temperatures can affect ice fairly rapidly, and winds can also affect your safety on the ice,” he said. “Winds on Lake Erie will set up waves, which can break up the ice sheet, and once the ice sheet starts to go up and down it will crack.”

And if the forecast for temperatures in the 40s and rain early next week comes to pass, “that may change the whole story over again,” Leshkevich said.

Typically, Lake Erie’s ice-fishing season doesn’t kick into high gear until February, although last year’s mild winter erased the season completely.

“Pretty much on all the Great Lakes, if you drew a trend line through the period of maximum ice cover, it’s downward for the last 40 years,” Leshkevich said. “You can go from almost nothing to total coverage from year to year, but in general the trend is for less ice.”

Ice on the smaller bodies of water around here may be easier to gauge, but no ice is ever 100 percent safe. “New ice is stronger than aging ice that has been subjected to changes in air temperature, snow, sleet and rain,” JoAnn Kleinfelder, community health education coordinator for the Huron County General Health District, said.

However, “air temperature above 32 degrees for six hours over a 24-hour period can cause ice to quickly become unsafe. Ice also becomes weaker the more times it thaws and refreezes,” she said.

Ice that formed this week is new and hasn’t had a change to start melting yet, but it takes several days of freezing temperatures for ice to attain a thickness of four inches, what’s considered safe for walking, according to The Ohio State University Extension. It takes about twice that much ice to support a car or light truck.

All ice is not the same, and can vary widely based on its age, location and what type of body of water it’s covering.

“Ice is weakest in the center, along the edge of the water and in areas where there are cracks,” Kleinfelder said, although most of the cracks you hear as you walk on ice are normal, and can simply be a sign that the ice is expanding at the upper level because it’s building on the bottom.

“Currents under the ice, wave action and wind can cause weak spots. River ice is even more unpredictable than lake or pond ice and should be avoided,” Kleinfelder said.

Ice density and color are the best indicators of what’s safest to venture onto. Clear ice, often tinged blue or green, is the strongest frozen surface, and when drilling into ice, its best to see it breaking apart in chunks, not flakes.

If you find yourself on the ice and it starts to show signs of giving way, disburse your weight by lying down and spreading out your arms and legs, then gently roll away from the weak spot.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources recommends going out on the ice with a personal flotation device and ice picks, both of which can be lifesavers in the event that you fall through.

The most common mistake made by people on land is rushing to save other people, or animals, who have broken through the ice. If it’s broken once, the ice will break again. The best thing one can do in that situation is call for help, and let emergency personnel equipped for the job make the rescue.

The Marion Star


Today in Great Lakes History -  January 26

In 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.

1986: The saltwater ship f) MARIKA L. was sold at auction to Scrap Hellas Ltd. on this date The vessel had arrived at Eleusis, Greece, under tow, on April 25, 1981, after an engineroom fire on the Mediterranean. The ship had been arrested and partially sunk prior to being sold. It made one trip through the Seaway as a) DONATELLA PARODI in 1965 and was ultimately resold for scrapping at Aliaga, Turkey.

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


Final Laker to Arrive Friday

1/25 - Duluth, Minn. – The US-flag laker John G. Munson was sitting at anchor Thursday just outside the Duluth Ship Canal. The vessel is scheduled to sail into the Port of Duluth-Superior Friday morning for winter layup.

Her arrival will officially wrap up the 2012 commercial shipping season in the Port of Duluth-Superior.

Though the Soo Locks (at Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.), closed at midnight on January 15, the Munson was able to make a handful of late season deliveries of iron ore across the eastern tip of Lake Superior.

U.S. Coast Guard cutter Alder is in transit, and is expected to arrive in the Twin Ports sometime after sunrise to assist with ice breaking in the harbor already underway with tugs from Heritage Marine.

After passing beneath the Aerial Bridge, the Munson will fuel at the Port Terminal prior to moving, with tug assistance, to Fraser Shipyards.

Final tonnage totals will be released soon, but it appears that the Port of Duluth-Superior will wind up the 2012 season just shy of 37 million short tons, according to Adolph Ojard, executive director of the Duluth Seaway Port Authority.

The Soo Locks are scheduled to reopen on March 25 for the start of the 2013 shipping season.



Lyubov Orlova is adrift off Newfoundland on way to scrapyard

1/25 - The derelict Russian cruise ship Lyubov Orlova, which was tied up at the St. John's waterfront for two and a half years after its owners ran into financial trouble, left with much fanfare Wednesday afternoon. The coast guard says the towline to the tug Orlova broke Thursday just east of Cape Race. There was no one onboard the ship. A coast guard vessel is on its' way to monitor as the tugboat attempts to reconnect the line. The Lyubov Orlova will be towed to the Dominican Republic, where it has been sold for scrap. The voyage should take three to four weeks.

The ship was arrested in St. John's in September 2010 after a creditor put a lien on the vessel. A Russian company, Locso Shipping, owned the 90-metre Orlova. At the time of the ship's arrest, the company owed Cruise North Expeditions $250,000. The company also owed 51 crew on the vessel more than $300,000 in wages.

Since 2010, the abandoned ship has been sold and resold, all the while being moored on the St. John's waterfront. Reza Shoeybi, owner of the Charlene Hunt, a tugboat from Boston, arrived in St. John's in early December to prepare the Orlova for towing, and has been waiting for five to six weeks for the right conditions in which to move the vessel.

CBC St. John's


Obituary: Violet Mae Bostwick – the Lady Pirate

1/25 - Boatnerd Violet Mae Bostwick, 58, died early Thursday after a battle with cancer. Known fondly as the Lady Pirate, her favorite boat was the George A. Stinson (and she refused to call it anything else, even when it was renamed American Spirit). She loved lighthouses and tried to visit as many as she could. A voracious reader, she especially loved Stephen King books.

Visitation will be Sat, Feb. 2, 3 p.m. until 7 p.m. (time of funeral) at Wujek-Calcaterra & Sons, Inc. 36900 Schoenherr Metro Parkway (16 Mile), Sterling Heights, Mich.
Share memories with the family at their On-Line Guest Book at She is survived by her husband Larry.


Today in Great Lakes History -  January 25

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

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).

1964: MAX MANUS dated from 1937 and appeared on the Great Lakes for one trip in 1959. An engine room explosion and fire at Ibiza, Spain, as c) FLORA N. took the lives of three crew and extensively damaged the midships area of the vessel. The freighter had been discharging cement but was towed out of the port and beached three miles south as a total loss.

1981: MANUEL CAMPOS first came through the Seaway when new in 1968. It sank off Crete on this date as c) DENIZ SOMNEZ after developing a severe list in heavy seas. The vessel was traveling from Sfax, Tunisia, to Mersin, Turkey, with a cargo of phosphate ore and all 34 on board were lost.

1992: NORDSTERN came through the Seaway in 1968 and returned as b) GEORG RUSS in 1975 and c) CAPTAIN VENIAMIS in 1984. It was beached on the South Korean coast on this date after the hull began to flood during heavy weather on a long voyage from Europe to Yantai, China. The vessel was refloated on February 1 but was declared a total loss, sold to Chinese shipbreakers and arrived at Qinhuangdao under tow for scrapping on March 1, 1992.

2003: An arson fire aboard LA GRANDE HERMINE, a replica sailing ship, at Jordan Harbour, Ontario, destroyed the wooden superstructure and interior of the idle ship. The vessel was built in 1914 as a ferry across the St. Lawrence and had several subsequent uses under a variety of names. The listing and burned out hull has become a tourist attraction with many passers-by stopping to take photos. The vessel has become a southern Ontario landmark and was well known to boat watchers heading to the Welland Canal.

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


Drought, low water hurt Great Lakes shipping

1/24 - Ashtabula, Ohio – Harbors filled with sediment and sustained drought conditions in the Midwest continue to take their toll on the efficiency of the Great Lakes shipping industry.

The Lake Carriers’ Association is reporting U.S.-flag lakers carried 89.5 million tons of dry-bulk cargo last year, a decrease of 4.6 percent compared to 2011. The 2012 season also was 1.5 percent below the five-year average for the U.S. carriers.

Coal was a major player in pulling down the numbers. U.S. flag carriers moved 17.6 tons on the lakes last year, a decrease of 13.1 percent from the prior year’s tonnage. The decrease in coal shipments is due to much less coal moving from U.S. ports like Ashtabula and Toledo, to power plants in Canada, which is phasing out coal-burning power generation plants.

Long-term drought and poor harbor maintenance, the “dredging crisis,” are to blame for the decrease in other cargos. The Lake Carrier’s Association reports that shipments of limestone from U.S. ports fell 2.4 percent in 2012, when compared to 2011. At Canadian quarries, the decrease in loadings was 9 percent compared to the prior year. Falling water levels and the dredging crisis necessitate lighter cargo loads, which makes freighters less efficient and each trip more expensive.

The Transportation Institute notes one inch of lost capacity due to decreased water level results in a loss of 50 to 270 tons of capacity for ships that sail the lakes. A 1,000-foot freighter, capable of lifting 70,000 tons, has to sail about 8,000 tons light because harbor and channel depths are inadequate.

The term “Great Lakes dredging crisis” was coined in 2006 by the Great Lakes Maritime Task Force, a shipping advocacy group. Unfortunately, the situation has not improved since then, and the droughts have caused even lower lake levels than existed when the alarm was first sounded. At least one commercial harbor, Dunkirk, N.Y., had to shut down in 2005 because the harbor was too shallow for ships. Meanwhile, Glen Nekvasil of the Lake Carriers Association estimates that 17 million cubic yards of sediment clog the 60 commercial ports the federal government maintains.

The new year does not bring much hope for improvement. Nekvasil said the record iron ore cargo through the Soo Locks was 72,300 tons; The largest cargos so far in 2013 were slightly over 60 tons.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is responsible for harbor dredging on the Great Lakes; funding comes through the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund, which has a surplus of about $3 billion.

The institute estimates that at least $200 million is needed to restore proper harbor and channel dimensions in the Greek Lakes systems. Last month, U.S. Senators Amy Klobouchar and Al Franken called upon colleagues to address the Great Lakes water crisis by appropriating more money for dredging. The senators, both from Minnesota, said the drought of 2012 and the lack of dredging are threatening jobs in the Great Lakes.

“This year’s drought has put many harbors and channels on the Great Lakes at risk of becoming impassable in the months to come. I pressed my colleagues to include funding to dredge these waterways because we need to make sure our shipping industry, and the people it employs, are safe from harm,” the Minnesota senators stated in a letter to colleagues.

Ashtabula City Port Authority Chairman Ron Kister said dredging is a problem in the Ashtabula River, especially farther up the river toward West 24th Street. The upper stretch is being dredged, but that work stopped in December and won’t resume until May. He said there are places where it is “almost impossible” to get a watercraft through the low water.

The lower portion of the river was dredged several years ago as part of the massive Superfund Site cleanup work. Kister said he has not received any concerns from users of the coal or Pinney Dock company docks regarding low water level being a limitation to traffic at the docks.

The bright spot in lake shipping was from the Great Lakes iron ore industry, which moved 61.6 million tons in 2012, a slight improvement over 2011. Shipments from U.S. ports, however, showed a 2.5 percent decrease compared to the prior year. Overall, shipments from U.S. ports totaled 53.7 million tons (3.7 million tons of which were loaded at Quebec City for loading into oceangoing vessels).

Despite the stronger numbers for iron ore, the fleet is not operating at optimum efficiency because of the dredging crisis. A 1,000-foot freighter that operated at 2012 draft levels had to make four trips to haul 245,000 tons of ore. In 1997, when the lakes were near their record depths, only 3.4 trips would have been required to move that same quantity of cargo.

Star Beacon


Boblo boat Columbia advocate dies; future of restoration project uncertain

1/24 - New York, N.Y. – Richard Anderson, an outspoken advocate and head of a nonprofit group dedicated to the restoration of the former Boblo boat Columbia, has died. Lori Feret, the main Michigan organizer of an annual fundraising cruise on the Detroit River, said she was made aware of Anderson’s death by an email sent by Barbara Gerson, a volunteer in the organizations New York office.

Contacted by phone Wednesday afternoon, Gerson confirmed she forwarded an email that came from Whitney Pennell, a member of the organization’s board of directors. “It is with a heavy heart that I write to share the sad news of Richard’s passing,” Pennell said in the email.

Anderson was taken to a hospital after dinner Sunday night and died early Monday afternoon. Further details of his passing were not immediately available. Gerson said she could not answer any questions about Anderson’s death, saying she would leave a message for a board member to return a reporters phone call.

Feret was told the board probably will meet in the near future to determine the next steps for the Columbia.

The SS Columbia Project purchased the vessel, which for decades ferried thousands of metro Detroiters down the Detroit River to the amusement park on Boblo Island, in May 2006 and has been working diligently to stabilize the deteriorating boat so it can be restored and placed back into service on the Hudson River as a type of floating museum to promote heritage tourism. The ship currently is moored at the U.S. Steel dock in Ecorse.

Anderson was president of the SS Columbia Project and the driving force behind the project.

The News Herald


Norgoma supporters request continued funding

1/24 - Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. – If you’ve been downtown in the past few decades, chances are you’ve seen the MS Norgoma, a museum ship that is docked by the boardwalk. Maybe you’ve taken your kids on board for a tour. Now, supporters of the boat are hoping for continued funding from the city to ensure its survival as a museum and tourist attraction.

At January 21st’s City Council meeting, Jim Wacik, a volunteer member of the Norgoma board, presented an update and asked for continued funding to ensure that the boat will “retain, enhance, and promote our rich maritime heritage.”

With the economy as fragile as it is, it’s a difficult time for cultural facilities, including the Norgoma. “We all have a balancing act here,” said Wacik. Financially speaking, “We certainly do need your support in our funding,” he added.

That requested funding takes the form of donations from the city, which Wacik requested continue for the duration of council.

Ward Two Coun. Susan Myers asked what the financial impact to the Norgoma would be should they not receive grant money. Wacik answered, “We don’t know.” The grant money received from the city “keeps us operating.” He added, “I’m not very optimistic without funding.”

At Myers’ request, Bill Freiburger, Commissioner of Finance & Treasurer, confirmed that $15,000 for the MS Norgoma was still in the city’s budget.

Wacik also requested sharing of resources, such as marina and accounting staff. Presently, the Norgoma is successful primarily because of the support of volunteers, who are “keeping it open,” Wacik said. “Everything that has to be done has been done by volunteers.”

The MS Norgoma is facing further challenges, including succession planning for members of the board. Additionally, Wacik mentioned that “our numbers are down.” He added, “I don’t think that’s reflective of the museum ship itself” but rather the industry.

Wacik stressed the importance of the MS Norgoma from a historical standpoint. Built more than 60 years ago, it “was the last boat ever built of [its] style” and “has graced our waterfront for 37 years,” Wacik said. The boat was even provided with heritage designation back in 2011, he said. “It’s the vessel that opened up the North.”

However, the MS Norgoma’s contribution to the city extends far beyond its historical value, Wacik explained. It provides employment opportunities (e.g., internships as well as construction workers during renovations). And, of course it appeals to tourists.

Wacik stressed that he wants to make sure that the ship is “an attraction, not a detraction, to the city.”

Wacik also outlined some future goals for the MS Norgoma, helping it to draw in even more tourists. While there have been suggestions of scrapping the boat or converting it into a bed and breakfast, those are not plans for the immediate future. “We hope to liaise and work with all waterfront cultural organizations,” he said, “to develop a comprehensive cultural mall on our waterfront.” Grant money from the city would go towards developing and implementing that concept.

The goal is to continue to make the ship available to the community and to work with other cultural attractions, such as the bush plane museum, the art gallery, and the tour train, to name a few. “Together,” said Wacik, “we can offer a full day of cultural activity.”

Councillors were largely supportive of the MS Norgoma.

Ward Three Coun. Brian Watkins commented that “we live on the river… we cling to that history. But we don’t always look at the city from the water. We sit on the land and look out.” He said that he saw the boat as a being culturally valuable and a means of keeping people interested in more nautical aspects. He wished Wacik luck and hoped for a future “successful venue.”

“I am a strong supporter of the Norgoma and always have been,” Myers said, stressing the boat’s importance for tourism and marine history education. She urged council to “not even consider” removing funding.

Ward One Coun. Steve Butland stressed the importance of “strength in numbers” for attractions, referencing the concept of working with other tourist attractions for mutual benefit. “Obviously, the Norgoma cannot survive as a standalone.”

Ward Five Coun. Frank Fata questioned how much longer the city could continue providing $15,000 grants, especially with succession problems with respect to the Norgoma board.

In response, Wacik stressed that he wanted to make sure the boat became “a viable tourist attraction for the city.” The funding is necessary “to get through a couple more years and try to develop something that’s sustainable.”

Wacik said that he hopes that, by working together with other tourist attractions, they can encourage visitors to “come through the Sault and stay in the Sault.”

A motion was put forward to refer to appropriate staff, who would then review and report back to Council. The motion carried.

Sault This Week


Smoke, but no fire on ship docked in canal

1/24 - St. Catharines, Ont. ­ Heavy smoke inside the cabin of a docked ship in the Welland Canal Wednesday morning turned out to be a furnace blower malfunction.

Four trucks from the St. Catharines Fire Department responded to the ASI Clipper, a commercial dive support ship that was docked on the east side of the Welland Canal north of Lock 1.

Firefighters arrived to find the boat's cabin filled with smoke, but they couldn't immediately locate the source of the problem.

After clearing out the cabin, it was determined the smoke was coming from a faulty blower in the ship's furnace.

Welland Tribune


Updates -  January 24

Historical Perspectives Gallery updated - New pictures in the Valley Camp and Normac galleries


Today in Great Lakes History -  January 24

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.

1964: RUTH ANN, a Liberian freighter that came through the Seaway in 1960, ran aground on the Chinchorro Bank off the Yucatan Peninsula enroute from Tampico to Puerto Barrios, Guatemala, as d) GLENVIEW. It later broke up as a total loss.

1967: DAMMTOR, a West German flag pre-Seaway trader, foundered in heavy weather as b) HASHLOSHA while about 80 miles west of Naples, Italy, enroute from Greece to Marseilles, France. A distress call was sent but the vessel went down with the loss of 21 lives before help could arrive. The ship had also made four Seaway voyages in 1959,

1988: ENDERS M. VOORHEES, under tow on the Mediterranean, broke loose in gale force winds and went aground about 56 miles south of Athens off Kythnos Island and broke up. The hull was salvaged in sections and the bow and stern reached the scrapyard at Aliaga, Turkey, in August 1989.

2009: DIAMOND QUEEN sank at the Gaelic Tugboat Co. dock at River Rouge. It was refloated on January 27, 2009.

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


Firefighters still on scene of Oshawa asphalt plant destroyed in massive blaze

1/23 - Oshawa, Ont. – Hours after flames were extinguished, firefighters remain at the scene of a massive blaze that destroyed an Oshawa asphalt plant Saturday and forced area residents to evacuate and others to stay indoors.

This is the plant that the tug Everlast and barge Norman Mcleod and the tug Victorious and barge John J Carrick deliver to regularly in Oshawa Harbor.

Fire crews were on the lookout for flare-ups on Sunday, according to Oshawa Fire officials. The fire started around 5:30 a.m. Saturday at McAsphalt Industries Limited and filled the sky with a wall of thick, black smoke.

Firefighters had the blaze under control around 9 a.m. but it flared back up and spread throughout the asphalt plant’s warehouse. The plant is located on Farewell St., just south of Highway 401 near the Oshawa Port. Nearby businesses were evacuated and area residents were told to stay inside and keep their windows closed. These orders were lifted Saturday around 6:30 p.m., said Oshawa Chief Fire Prevention Officer Susan King.

King said concerns about carcinogenic smoke were unwarranted. “The Ministry of the Environment was on scene doing air quality checks and it was well within the acceptable limits of ministry requirements for air quality,” King said.

An investigator from the Office of the Ontario Fire Marshal will visit the site Monday to look into what caused the blaze. “The building is not salvageable. It’s a total loss,” King said.

Toronto Star


Port Reports -  January 23

Toledo, Ohio - Jim Hoffman On Tuesday evening, the tug/barge combo Defiance/Ashtabula arrived at the Midwest Overseas Terminal Dock for winter layup. They spent several hours Tuesday afternoon in the western end of Lake Erie to clean out her cargo holds first before heading in for layup.


Ice coverage to build over Great Lakes

1/23 - The warmth that has tagged along with this winter season has made ice fishing in the Great Lakes more of a distant memory than an upcoming weekend plan, but that could soon change.

"There has been some spotty ice fishing this winter, but for the serious fisherman, it's probably been pretty disappointing so far," AccuWeather Expert Senior Meteorologist Dave Dombek said.

Lake Erie is most prone to freezing as it is the shallowest of all the lakes, but it is still not up to par for ice fishing just yet. According to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, as of the week of Jan. 17, Lake Erie's ice was still not safe.

"For safe ice, you really need 4 inches or more," Dombek said. "Typically, ice on the lakes would reach their maximum point by February and sometimes in March, if it stays cold."

It's too soon to rule out a decent ice-fishing season, however. Despite a milder pattern approaching next week, where temperatures could rise as much as 20 degrees, early February is likely to yield colder temperatures and a more conducive setup for ice growth.

"You can build up ice pretty quickly if you have the right conditions," Dombek said. "With this colder weather pattern coming up, we're definitely going to see more extensive ice coverage."



Mackinaw does escort duty

1/23 - Call it a case of helping out a brother in need.

The U.S. Coast Guard cutter Mackinaw did exactly that when the icebreaking buoy-tender sailed down Lake Huron accompanying the cutter Biscayne Bay to a Detroit shipyard.

Biscayne Bay, home-ported in St. Ignace, developed an engine problem that needed repair so the Mac hiked along to be ready in case the situation developed to the point that the Biscayne Bay lost power and needed immediate assistance, if not moral support. If that should happen, what better vessel to have nearby than the Mackinaw?

Estimates are that the work on the Biscayne Bay’s engine should take about 10 days, when it would be ready to return to the Straits of Mackinac for duty breaking ice that is expected to form within the next two weeks.

The Mackinaw spent Thursday in the river north of Lake St. Clair, always a trouble spot for ice jams. The reconnaissance will likely prove invaluable later in the spring when ships resume moving commerce downbound through the Soo Locks.

Cheboygan Tribune


Steel production rises 7,000 tons in Great Lakes states

1/23 - Raw steel production in the country's Great Lakes region was 667,000 tons in the week that ended Saturday, according to estimates from the American Iron and Steel Institute.

Production was up 7,000 tons from the week prior. The majority of raw steel production in the Great Lakes region occurs in Indiana and the Chicago area.

Production in the Southern District was estimated at 617,000 tons during the period that ended Jan. 19, down from about 620,000 tons a week earlier.

Domestic mills produced about 5.4 million tons of steel last week, down 5.9 percent from the same period in 2012.

U.S. steel mills had a capacity utilization rate of 76.1 percent last week, which is up from a 75.9 percent production rate a week earlier.

Northwest Indiana Times


Lake St. Clair boat-barge crash garners $8 million judgments

1/23 - The estates of three people who died in a horrific 2008 boat-barge crash and two other occupants gained $8.1 million in judgments against the barge owner but will not see the money for at least a year or possibly ever.

Most of the money – $7.5 million – was awarded by default several months ago to the estates of the three people killed when the boat they were riding in crashed into a 120-foot barge off the shore on Anchor Bay on Lake St. Clair.

But the money right now is uncollectible. The judgments were made against barge owner Shepard Marine Construction Inc. in Roseville, the only remaining defendant of an original dozen. Shepard has since gone out of business and at the time of the incident its liability insurance had not been renewed. That oversight is being blamed on Shepard’s insurance agency, Guy Hurley Blaser & Heuer in Troy, which the plaintiffs sued Wednesday in Macomb Circuit Court.

“Defendant Guy has acknowledged in its file that defendant Shepard explicitly requested that it obtain, secure and maintain liability insurance coverage prior to the subject incident,” the lawsuit says.

The tragic crash marred the 2008 Memorial Day holiday weekend. Lepp was operating his 38-foot watercraft called “Rum Runner” the night of May 24 when it crashed at high rate of speed into the dimly lit barge. Lepp and Diegel, who were on the top area of the boat, suffered head injuries and have recovered, attorneys said, while the three deceased were in the lower cabin compartment.

The barge was removed within days.

The Macomb County Sheriff’s Office cleared Shepard and Lepp from wrongdoing, although officials indicated had asked Shepard to remove the barge since it was no longer in use. The barge was placed there in 2007 to store mud collected during a canal-dredging operation for a Harrison township subdivision.

But a subsequent U.S. Coast Guard investigation concluded Lepp may have been driving too fast and that the barge may have had insufficient lighting to warn boaters in the MacRay Harbor.

“Excessive speed from the R/V (recreation vessel) Rum Runner and an improperly lighted barge may have contributed to this casualty,” the report says.

Instead of the two dim amber lights typically used for road barricades, the barge should have been illuminated by “all-around white lights of an intensity to be visible for at least one nautical mile,” the Coast Guard report says.

The report recommends a $6,500 fine against Shepard for the lighting deficiency. A Coast Guard spokesman could not confirm whether the fine was assessed, nor could a conviction be located at federal and district courts.

Macomb Daily


Ship hits lock, closing Mississippi River near St. Louis

1/23 - Commercial traffic on the Mississippi River north of St. Louis was halted on Tuesday after a vessel collided with a gate at Lock 27 near Granite City, Ill., the system's busiest lock, an Army Corps of Engineers spokesperson said.

The accident occurred in the lock's auxiliary chamber, the only operational lock with the main chamber closed for scheduled repairs until March.

Corps personnel were assessing damages and could not immediately estimate how long the lock would remain out of service. Nine upriver vessels and five downriver vessels were waiting to pass through the lock as of 12:45 p.m. CST (1845 GMT), according to the Corps' Lock Performance Monitoring System website.

Though traffic on the mid-Mississippi River is seasonally slow, the lock closure was the latest logistics headache for shippers that rely on inland waterways to haul billions of dollars of grain, coal, fertilizer and other commodities.

Low water along a busy stretch between St. Louis and Cairo, Ill., has been threatening to disrupt traffic on the drought-drained river since December.

Dredging operations have slowed traffic at various points of the river for months.

A six-mile stretch at Thebes, Ill., has been closed for 16 hours a day since December as the Army Corps removes river-bottom rock pinnacles that threaten boats during low water conditions.



Lake Superior Marine Museum Association presents free program

1/23 - Duluth, Minn. – Lake Superior Marine Museum Association (LSMMA), in conjunction with Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center, has coordinated a free Evening Entertainment Series program at Canal Park Lodge in Duluth, Minn., from 7 p.m. - 9 p.m. Feb.12. The night’s subject is the S.S. Meteor. In the 10 years from 1888 to 1898 the Twin Ports hummed with activity as the American Steel Barge Company built over 40 barges and steamships to Duluthian Alexander McDougall’s patented whaleback design. S.S. Meteor, is the last of these iconic ships. Meteor museum volunteer Roger Pellett will discuss the life of this historic vessel with emphasis of the many changes made over the years to allow her to survive.


Updates -  January 23

Lay-up list updated


Today in Great Lakes History -  January 23

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

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

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

1983: The Greek freighter CAPTAIN M. LYRAS visited the Seaway in 1960 and 1961 and returned as b) ANGELIKI L. in 1965. It arrived at Gadani Beach on this date as c) ANAMARIA for scrapping.

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


Toledo port records 13 percent decline in cargo

1/22 - Toledo, Ohio – Record-low coal business and a steep drop in salt shipments after a warm winter were the main factors in a nearly 13 percent decline in cargo traffic through the Port of Toledo during 2012, the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority’s year-end statistics show.

Ships loaded or unloaded 10,018,487 tons of cargo in Toledo last year, down 12.95 percent from the 11,509,180 tons that crossed the local docks in 2011, according to the port authority.

Coal led the decline, dropping from 3,609,598 tons to 2,387,977 tons — the lowest volume since the 1947 start of Toledo port records now kept by the port authority. Toledo’s numerous coal docks handled more than 23 million tons in 1947; the previous record low was the 2.74 million tons through the port in 2004.

The biggest drop involved domestic coal shipments, which fell from 2,055,614 tons to 1,033,235 tons. Domestic coal shipments from Toledo primarily go to power plants, and utility-coal consumption lagged in 2012 as electric firms shifted power generation to plants burning cheaper natural gas and announced coal-plant closings they blamed on stricter pollution regulations.

Shipments to Canada, Toledo’s other primary coal market, fell by a relatively modest 15.5 percent, but Joe Cappel, the port authority’s director of cargo development, said electric utilities there also face clean-air mandates that are taking coal plants off line.

“We ship a lot of coal to Canada, and we’re not alone in that,” Mr. Cappel said.

CSX Transportation, which runs the port-owned coal dock under a long-term lease, “assure[s] me that they’re seeking out new customers,” including overseas, to make up for some of the lost business, he said.

Dry-bulk commodities, the category that includes salt, had the other big tonnage decline, falling by more than 440,000 tons or 22 percent. Salt from mines in the United States and Canada that is shipped into Toledo primarily for winter ice control accounted for more than half that drop.

“With such a mild winter, we didn’t really need to resupply,” Mr. Cappel said.

Iron ore, which last year surpassed coal as the Toledo port’s biggest cargo by weight, fell by about 128,000 tons, or 2.63 percent, while the petroleum and liquid bulk sector was down by about 65,000 tons, a 27.6 percent decline.

Grain business, which rose by more than 340,000 tons despite a drought-impaired harvest, and general cargo traffic were the local port’s bright spots in 2012.

Jim McKinstray, vice president of central merchandising and transportation for The Andersons, credited the improvement mainly to a strong export market for soybeans, which were in high demand late last year.

“The crops were a little better than the worst fears [from the drought], especially north of I-80 and in soybeans,” he said.

Furthermore, he said, increasing soybean cultivation in Brazil, where the harvest occurs in February and March, is reducing spring futures prices for American beans, so better fall prices provide an incentive to move beans then.

Mr. Cappel said import shipments of oats also contributed to the grain increase, while “really strong” aluminum imports helped the general-cargo sector. While the smallest part of the port’s business by weight, general cargo generates the highest per-ton revenue for the port authority and is more labor-intensive.

The cargo-development director said efforts continue by the port authority and Midwest Terminals of Toledo, the general cargo dock operator, to identify new markets for Toledo’s port. “If some of these traditional cargoes are being replaced by other commodities, what other commodities can we pursue?” he said.

The Lake Carriers Association reported Friday that the 57-vessel U.S.-flag Great Lakes fleet carried 89.5 million tons of cargo during 2012, down 4.6 percent from 2011’s float and 1.5 percent below the five-year average. The American fleet carries primarily iron ore, limestone, and coal, along with smaller volumes of other domestic bulk cargoes.

At least some of Toledo’s iron-ore traffic could be endangered two years from now, when a planned iron-processing plant in northwest Indiana is slated to open.

Magnetation LLC plans to process iron concentrate reclaimed from tailings piles at northern Minnesota iron mines into iron-ore pellets at the $300 million plant in Reynolds, Ind., for which a groundbreaking is planned by March. AK Steel, which owns 49.9 percent of Magnetation LLC, expects the plant’s production to satisfy half of its iron-ore needs.

AK Steel’s mills in Middletown, Ohio, and Ashland, Ky., are the primary destinations for iron ore shipped through the Port of Toledo. An AK spokesman declined to say, however, what percentage of that firm’s iron ore uses the Toledo port.

Mr. Cappel said it would be speculative to discuss how the Magnetation project will affect Toledo.

“We don’t really know what percentage could be taken away,” Mr. Cappel said. “Or maybe they [AK Steel] plan on growing, and it won’t change at all.”

Toledo Blade


Sterling Fuels purchases Hamilton’s Provmar Fuels Inc.

1/22 - Windsor Ont. – Sterling Fuels Limited (a division of McAsphalt Industries Limited) has announced the purchase of Provmar Fuels Inc., located in Hamilton Ont., from the Upper Lakes Group Inc.

“This is a strategic move to expand our marine fueling and marine lubricants offer on the Great Lakes,” said John Carrick, president of McAsphalt Industries Limited. “It will not only allow us to better serve our customers with quality marine products and services but will put Sterling Fuels in a strong position to meet the ever changing demands of the marine industry well into the future.”

“Sterling Fuels will now have marine offers not only at our large fueling facility in Windsor, but also by barge in ports on Western Lake Ontario,” added Peter Kelly, president of Sterling Fuels.

“Additionally, we will continue to serve our customers via truck delivery throughout the region. The synergies between Provmar and Sterling made this a natural fit, which we believe will truly benefit the Great Lakes Marine Industry. This acquisition now makes Sterling the largest supplier of marine fuels and lubricants on the Great Lakes.”

There are changes ahead as well for the Hamilton-based bunkering services long-provided by the vessel Hamilton Energy.

“In 2013 we plan to replace the Hamilton Energy with a newly-purchased state-of-the-art 2002 OPA 90 double-hulled product tanker. The new vessel will be named the Sterling Energy,” said Adrian Mitterhuber, Vice President of Sterling Fuels Limited.

“The Hamilton Energy has served Provmar and its customers dependably for nearly 28 years. While it will be sad to see it go, all good things come to an end. We are confident that our new vessel will proudly follow in the wake of the Hamilton Energy.”


Port Reports -  January 22

Marquette, Mich. - Rod Burdick
John G. Munson and Manitowoc arrived to load ore on a frigid Monday morning at the Upper Harbor. Future trips are dependent on weather, according to dock officials.


Updates -  January 22

Historical Perspectives Gallery updated - New pictures in the E B Barber and Thomas F. Cole galleries.


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.

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

1976: INGRID WEIDE first came to the Great Lakes in 1953, and the West German freighter returned on many occasions including 23 trips through the Seaway to the end of 1965. The vessel stranded as c) DENEB B. off Borkum Island, West Germany, while inbound for Emden with a cargo of stone. The hull broke in two and sank but all on board were rescued.

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


Cargo movement on the Great Lakes in U.S.-flag vessels down 4.6 percent in 2012

1/21 - Cleveland, Ohio – U.S.-flag Great Lakes freighters carried 89.5 million tons of dry-bulk cargo in 2012, a decrease of 4.6 percent compared to 2011. The 2012 float was 1.5 percent off the 5-year average for U.S.-flag lakers.

U.S.-flag lakers carried 45.2 million tons of iron ore in 2012, or 73.3 percent of the total volume of iron ore moved on the Great Lakes last year. The 45.2 million tons of iron ore carried by U.S.-flag lakers represented a decrease of 4.3 percent from 2011.

Coal cargos moved in U.S. bottoms totaled 17.6 million tons in 2012, or 69.3 percent of the total volume of coal moved on the Great Lakes last year. The 17.6 million tons of coal carried by U.S.-flag lakers represented a decrease of 13.1 percent from 2011.

The limestone trade in U.S.-flag hulls totaled 21.8 million tons in 2012, or 79 percent of the total volume of limestone moved on the Great Lakes last year. The 21.8 million tons of limestone carried by U.S.-flag lakers represented an increase of 1.7 percent (360,000 tons) over 2011.

Year-end totals for the other commodities are not yet available for vessels of all flags, but U.S.-flag cargos of cement increased 13 percent. Loadings of salt in U.S.-flag lakers slipped almost 30 percent. The sand trade in U.S. bottoms was virtually unchanged from 2011, but grain cargos in U.S.-flag hulls rose 31 percent.

Lake Carriers Association


Port Reports -  January 21

Alpena, Mich. - Ben & Chanda McClain
Algoma Enterprise was anchored in Thunder Bay off Alpena on Sunday afternoon. It was likely waiting out the windy weather conditions that affected the area most of the day.

Erie. Pa. - Phil Nash
Edwin H. Gott arrived for lay-up Friday.


Museum prepares for centennial of 1913 Great Lakes storm that left more than 250 dead

1/21 - Port Huron, Mich. - The Great Lakes Storm of 1913 claimed more than 250 lives from Nov. 7 through Nov. 10, 1913. A century later, the Port Huron Museum has plans to commemorate the storm’s centennial on an international scale.

The Port Huron Museum will observe the 100th anniversary this fall with memorials, re-enactments and a special exhibit dedicated to the storm’s impact on the Blue Water Area.

“Its maybe the biggest undertaking we’ve had in a very long time at the museum,” Susan Bennett, museum executive director, said.

On Jan. 29, the museum will transport a busload of local historians, college professors, divers, exhibit creators and community members to the “Extreme Deep: Mission to the Abyss” exhibit at Cranbrook Institute of Science. The exhibit features a special section on the Great Lakes Storm of 1913.

Bennett said the group will receive a private tour of the exhibit, which uses some artifacts from Port Huron Museum galleries and archives.

Stephen Pagnani, head of marketing for the Cranbrook Institute of Science, said some of the artifacts borrowed from the Port Huron Museum include a lantern, letters, a hammer and parts of a porthole. Pagnani said the exhibit is very popular. “It’s a total Great Lakes focus, and we find people are really interested in that because it’s something that we’re surrounded by everyday,” he said.

Cranbrook will be loaning the graphics created for its storm exhibit to Port Huron Museum for the fall exhibit, Pagnani said.

Bennett hopes the trip will serve as a springboard for local exhibits and memorials this fall. “We’re developing the ‘Storm of 1913: Remembered’ as our own,” Bennett said.

Brian Martin is on the planning committee for the Great Lakes Storm remembrance. He said the storm has many local ties. Eight of the ships lost during the storm are still at the bottom of Lake Huron, including the wreck of the Charles S. Price near Point Edward, Ontario.

“The Great (Lakes) Storm of 1913 is what I consider a local tourist attraction,” Martin said. “We were kind of a treasure trove of mariners in those days.”

Bennett said the museum will be working with representatives in Ontario, sharing resources such as logos and speakers between the two areas affected by the storm.

Lansing State Journal


Former Canadian laker Ambassador renamed

1/21 - A former Canadian laker with ties to the Great Lakes has been renamed. Ambassador, who was launched in 1983 for the Upper Lakes Shipping as Canadian Ambassador, has been renamed Pramudita. She continues to fly the flag of Vanuatu.

During the 1986 season, Canadian Ambassador was renamed Ambassador and registered in the Republic of Vanuatu (South Pacific). At that time, the vessel sailed for Marbulk Shipping, which was an Upper Lakes subsidiary under Barber Ship Management Ltd.

The vessel traded mostly on the East Coast of North America along with visits to South America, Europe and Asia. In 2000, the CSL Group purchased ULS's 50 percent share of Marbulk while Algoma retained the remaining 50 percent share that was acquired from ULS in 1998. During the 2000 shipping season, Algoma Central entered into a long-term charter for the Ambassador and had her re-registered Canadian while at Halifax and renamed Algosea, the second vessel to bear that name with Sauniere being the first. Algosea's main trade route was to be between Contrecoeur and Port Cartier, Quebec along the St. Lawrence River. The charter ended with the 2000 shipping season and Algosea returned to Marbulk and she was again renamed Ambassador and also reflagged back to Vanuatu.

As Ambassador, the vessel seldom made any visits to the Great Lakes/Seaway system. Her sistership Pioneer, also a former ULS vessel built at Port Weller Drydocks as Canadian Pioneer, continues to sail with that name and is still registered in Vanuatu.

Denny Dushane


Familiar Seaway salties renamed

1/21 - Some familiar salties that have visited the Great Lakes/Seaway system have been renamed. The list includes the Magdalena Green now Clipper Magdalena, Marinus Green now Clipper Marinus, Marlene Green now Clipper Marlene. All are registered in the Bahamas. Also, Marneborg is now the Arne from Antigua/Barbuda, while Michiganborg is now the Paramushir from Panama, Munteborg is Simushir from Russia, Ellen Knutsen is now Indisun II from Belize, Kopalnia Borynia is now the Sereen G from Malta and Nida is now the Joy M from Panama.

Denny Dushane


Updates -  January 21

News Photo Gallery
Lay-up list updated


Today in Great Lakes History -  January 21

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.

1904: HENDRICK S. HOLDEN was torn loose by flooding on the Black River at Lorain, Ohio, and the vessel smashed a coal dump. It also crushed and sank the tug GULL on its way into Lake Erie. The bulk carrier last sailed as VANDOC (i) in 1965.

1921: G.J. BOYCE had been sold off-lakes in 1916. It was inbound for a Cuban port when it lost its rudder. The wooden schooner stranded near Porto Padre and broke up as a total loss.

1928: The Lake Michigan rail car ferry MADISON struck a sand bar off Grand Haven and went aground with close to $50,000 in damage. High winds and ice were a factor.

1959: High winds at Buffalo tore the MacGILVRAY SHIRAS loose when a heavy current swept the Buffalo River. The wayward vessel struck MICHAEL K. TEWSBURY and MERTON E. FARR and eventually demolished the Michigan Ave. Bridge. The damaged SHIRAS was not repaired and arrived in Hamilton in June 1959 for scrapping.

1978: VESLEFJELL was sailing as e) MARLEN when abandoned by the crew after developing leaks in heavy seas near the Canary Islands. The vessel was enroute to Nigeria with cement when it went down. It had been a Great Lakes trader beginning in 1951 and last called inland in 1962.

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


Coast Guard announces channel closures

1/20 - West Neebish Channel – VTS St Marys River will close the West Neebish Channel at 8 a.m. on Monday. Alternating one-way traffic will be established in the Munuscong and Middle Neebish Channels.

Grays Reef Passage, the South Channel (the waters between Cheboygan, Michigan, and Bois Blanc Island Michigan) and the waters between St Ignace and Mackinac Island will close at 9 a.m. Tuesday.

The Coast Guard would like to remind all recreational ice users to plan their activity carefully, use caution on the ice, and stay away from shipping channels.


Cason J. Callaway last arrival at Bayship for winter

1/20 - Cason J. Callaway entered via the Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal, arriving in the inner harbor around noon Saturday, heading for Bay Ship Building for winter layup. She is the last vessel scheduled in for the winter layup season.

Wendell Wilke


Lower Lakes changes registry of vessels

1/20 - On January 18 Lower Lakes Towing Ltd. re-registered four ships, changing the port of registry from Nanticoke to Port Dover, Ont. The four ships – Cuyahoga, Kaministiqua, Mississagi and Robert S. Pierson – now join most of the Lower Lakes Towing fleet, which is registered in the company's home town of Port Dover. Ojibway was re-registered in Port Dover on July 12, 2012. Michipicoten and Saginaw are still registered in Nanticoke.

Mac Mackay


Today in Great Lakes History -  January 20

20 January 1980 - The E. M. FORD (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 three 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.

1907: WILLIAM NOTTINGHAM broke loose in wild winds and flooding at Buffalo. When the storm subsided, the ship had come to rest high and dry about 440 yards from the channel. A total of 12 vessels stranded in the storm but this one was the biggest challenge. A new channel had to be dug to refloat the vessel.

1960: LAKE KYTTLE, under tow as b) JAMES SHERIDAN, foundered in a storm on Long Island Sound. The ship had been built at Manitowoc in 1918 and converted to a barge at River Rouge in 1927 before returning to the sea about 1945.

1962: The Liberty ship FIDES was a Seaway visitor in 1961. It went aground at Grosser Vogelsand, in the Elbe Estuary and broke in two as a total loss.

1975: The tug CATHY McALLISTER sank alongside the dock at Montreal after suffering some grounding damage on the St. Lawrence. The vessel was salvaged on February 13, 1975. It was scrapped at Port Weller as d) DOC MORIN in the fall of 2011.

1979: ZAMOSC first came to the Great Lakes in 1971. It was enroute from Montreal to Antwerp when in a collision with the JINEI MARU off Terneuzen, Holland. The damaged ship was beached but it heeled over in the sand and had to be broken up.

1981: The former SILVER FIR, a Seaway caller in 1977, ran aground and became a total off Libya as d) GALAXY II.

1983: The YDRA sustained an engine room fire and went aground about a mile east of Bizerta, Tunisia, as a total loss. All on board were saved and the hull is still there. The ship first came to the Great Lakes as a) MANCHESTER PORT in 1966 and was back as b) BIOKOVO in 1972.

1990: IMPERIAL ACADIA received major damage at the island of Miquelon due to a storm and had to be transported to Halifax aboard the semi-submersible MIGHT SERVANT for repairs. The vessel arrived at Chittagong, Bangladesh, for scrapping as e) RALPH TUCKER on October 26, 2004.

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


Low lake levels force change for Washington Island Ferry Line

1/19 - Visitors, residents, and cargo traveling to Washington Island will be taking a different approach once the ice sets in on Lake Michigan. After weeks of dredging and retrofitting, the island's so-called Potato Dock has been set up as the Washington Island Ferry Line's winter port of call.

Washington Island Ferry Line President Hoyt Purinton said the recent record drop in the lake level has made it impossible to run the line's icebreaking ferry, the Arni J. Richter, safely into Detroit Harbor, necessitating the dredging project at the Potato Dock.

In June, the water level was sitting at about three inches above Detroit Harbor's low water datum mark. As of this month the water level is sitting at about 24 inches below the mark, leaving only 12 feet of water for ferries to navigate in.

"The navigable level [for the Richter] is 11 feet," said Purinton. "And there're other things you have to take into consideration like dips and swells caused by the wind."

Detroit Harbor is still usable for the ferry line's smaller, non-icebreaking vessels because they require less water to navigate in. Purinton said further dredging work there, with the intent of making it usable by larger vessels, would essentially be a waste of time.

"For all intents and purposes we're within a foot or so of the channel depth there," said Purinton. "There's a limit physically and economically to what we can tackle by dredging."

The dredging work at the Potato Dock, which is surrounded by much deeper water than Detroit Harbor, was slow-go for much of the project because of inclement weather, but around-the-clock work by Roen Salvage and Tom's Excavating during the week after New Year's brought the project mostly to completion on Jan. 7.

Now that the work is done, the Arni J. Richter has a safe harbor to load and unload from. Purinton's also looking to get some minor dredging done at Northport and Detroit Harbor before the inclement weather truly sets in, bringing the ferry line's total expenses for the project to $750,000.

Thinking past this year's dredging, Purinton said he's been working with the town of Washington to make a case for state or federal intervention in the Detroit Harbor channel.

"We applied last year, unsuccessfully, for harbor assistance, and the DOT requested more information," said Purinton. "So we're studying it. Hopefully we'll have something soon to market to the state or federal government."

Purinton's hopeful the water level will come up again in the spring, but said he's thought about what the ferry line would do if levels continue to drop.

"Those are days we'd not be running or figure something out with the Potato Dock," said Purinton. "If Detroit Harbor becomes a no go, we'd have to push for an expansion of the Potato Dock. Luckily we have a ways to go before we'd have to do that."

Peninsula Pulse


Great Lakes shipwrecks the focus of MLive and Muskegon Chronicle live chat

1/19 - Muskegon, Mich. – Shipwrecks, especially those uncovered by low water levels near Harbor Island in Grand Haven and others off the West Michigan shoreline, will be the focus of an online live chat next week hosted by MLive and The Muskegon Chronicle.

Valerie van Heest, director of Holland-based Michigan Shipwreck Research Associates and a maritime historian, and Kenneth Pott, director of Tri-Cities Historical Museum and a maritime archaeologist, are scheduled to answer reader questions during the live chat at 11 a.m. Tuesday. They were involved in the investigation into the 290-foot wooden steamer Aurora’s wreckage found near shore in the Grand River.

The shipwrecks near Harbor Island and others in Lake Michigan may be discussed during the live chat. Van Heest’s group has discovered and identified several shipwrecks in Lake Michigan off of West Michigan.

Readers are invited to join the live chat on For those who can’t make the chat, they are encouraged to share their questions in the comment section here and an MLive reporter will attempt to include as many as possible in the live chat.



Updates -  January 19

Lay-up list updated
Historical Perspectives Gallery updated - New pictures in the Thomas F Cole gallery


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.

1967: The former ELMBAY ran aground near Barra Grande along the coast of northern Brazil as e) SIMANSUR and was abandoned as a total loss. The ship saw Great Lakes service from 1923 until 1942 for several firms including Canada Steamship Lines.

1998: The Cypriot freighter FLARE was south of Newfoundland when it broke in two while inbound in ballast for Montreal. The stern section sank quickly. The bow drifted for several days before it too went down. Four members of the crew clung to an overturned lifeboat and were saved. The ship had been a Seaway trader as a) DORIC FLAME in 1977 and returned as b) FLAME in 1987 and as c) FLARE in 1993.

Data from: Skip Gillham, 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

Alpena, Mich. - Ben & Chanda McClain
Calumet arrived off Alpena Thursday afternoon and backed into Lafarge. Once it tied up at the dock she began to unload coal.

Owen Sound, Ont. - Torben Hawksbridge
Lower Lakes’ Saginaw turned and was loading corn at the Great Lakes Elevator bound for Toledo. Meanwhile, the CSL Niagara arrived and was preparing for winter lay-up on the east harbor wall north of the Algomarine.

Toledo, Ohio - Jim Hoffman
Olive L. Moore/Lewis J. Kuber finished unloading ore at the Torco Ore Dock early Thursday morning and proceeded to the Midwest Terminal International Cargo Dock for winter layup. This is the same dock site where she arrived at for layup in December. Also early Thursday morning, American Mariner arrived at the former CSX Ore Dock for winter layup. She is directly across from the Great Republic. On Thursday morning the strong river currents on the Maumee River subsided enough to where Algoma Enterprise was able to depart from the Kuhlman Dock and proceed downriver. She has been at the dock since Sunday evening due to the strong river current. She is bound for Goderich, Ontario, to load a salt cargo.

This is a listing of the boats that are now in winter layup at Toledo. Torco Dock: Arthur M. Anderson. Lakefront Dock (next to Torco): Manistee, American Fortitude, American Valor. CSX Ore Dock: American Mariner. CSX# 1 Dock: Great Republic. CSX#2 Dock: St. Clair, H. Lee White. Midwest Terminal International Cargo Dock: Olive L. Moore/Lewis J. Kuber, Rt. Hon. Paul J. Martin. Former Interlake Iron Dock: Adam E. Cornelius, Sam Laud. Ironhead Shipyard area: Sea Eagle II/St. Mary's Cement II, Algosar. In dry dock: Phoenix Star. New Great Lakes Historical Society Museum site: Col. James M. Schoonmaker. A total of 16 vessels are spending the winter at Toledo not including various tugs, and barges.


Dorothy Ann and Pathfinder at Great Lakes Shipyard for winter work

1/18 - Cleveland, Ohio – Great Lakes Shipyard has been contracted by Interlake Steamship Company to perform winter work services on their tug Dorothy Ann and barge Pathfinder, which arrived in Cleveland and is docked on site at the shipyard’s facility.

The shipyard will be performing a variety of work, such as miscellaneous steel work, generator maintenance, main drive unit maintenance, and other miscellaneous tug and barge repairs and maintenance. To learn more, visit


Duluth icebreaker keeps lake traffic moving in winter

1/18 - Duluth, Minn. – Believe it or not, there are still ships on the Great Lakes headed for Duluth even though its harbor is clotted with ice.

Their routes are made possible by the Coast Guard Cutter Alder, stationed in Duluth to cut through the ice and keep shipping channels open. The 2,000-ton boat can ram through ice that’s three feet thick, and leave a trail of open water – even in the depth of a Duluth winter.

On a recent morning, for the last time until early March, the Alder blew its whistle as it left its berth in the Duluth harbor next to the Aerial Lift Bridge. At three below zero with a wind chill of minus 23, the air was so cold that the whistle appeared to freeze, blowing a longer than the typical blast of four seconds.

As the 225-foot cutter moved through the last stretch of open water towards a ridge of ice, Coast Guard Petty Officer Andre Pinault stood on the bow and pointed out how the 1,000-foot lakers that haul coal and iron ore wouldn’t be able to make it to their slips without the Alder.

“Especially when it gets hard, frozen over, they can’t really break their own way, because the ships aren’t made for that,” Pinault said. “So we’ll go out, we’ll break tracks for them, and make sure they can keep moving their products.”

As the Alder moved down Superior Bay, it hit a thin sheet of ice that cracked and split into big flat squares and trapezoids — which the crew calls “pancake ice.” Coast Guard Seaman Allyson Raby peered over the ship’s edge, studying the shards as they break and crash against the hull.

“I’m just watching, checking how thick the ice is getting so I can let the bridge know,” Raby said. “Right now, it’s about 2 inches.”

Soon, the ship hits thicker ice and slows down as it powers through the “brash” — big jagged slabs of ice left behind from prior missions that have refrozen several times. As the ice reached a thickness of nearly a foot, the Alder bounced up and down.

“Think of us, like, we’re the snowplows,” said Lt. Cmdr. Tony Maffia, who leads the Alder and its 50-person crew.

Maffia oversees the operation from the bridge, a high-tech center perched 50 feet above the water, with a glorious panoramic view of the harbor.

The Great Lakes shipping season runs every year until about Jan. 15, when the Soo Locks close between Lake Superior and the lower lakes. Seven ships will lay up in Duluth this winter. Maffia said the locks open up again March 15.

“Usually about two weeks before that, we have what’s called the breakout part of the ice season,” Maffia said, “where they get all the Coast Guard cutters spun up again, to do this, get the tracks ready for the lakers that are doing their first runs as soon as the locks open.”

That’s the time of year when ice conditions on the lake are typically most severe, said Jim Sharrow, facilities manager at the Duluth Seaway Port Authority.

“The ice conditions in the spring can extend well into Lake Superior, generally from Duluth to beyond Two Harbors in an average year, and in a colder than average year, you can have ice virtually across the lake,” he said.

In the late 1970s, several shipping companies took part in an extended season demonstration program, where they carried goods across the Great Lakes straight through the winter, Sharrow said. That was an extremely cold period, when there was as much as three feet of ice across all of Lake Superior.

“There were ships that would load in Two Harbors, and go to Gary, Ind., and never see open water,” he said. Icebreakers had to shepherd ships across the lakes.

“We demonstrated during that time that it is technically feasible,” explained Sharrow, “but we also demonstrated it has a real high reliance on very costly icebreaking.”

More recently, however, the ice buildup has been much less severe. A recent study in the Journal of Climate reported a 79 percent decline of ice cover on Lake Superior since 1973. As a result, Sharrow said, shipping companies are discussing pushing back the day the Soo Locks close.

“The weather has changed quite a bit in the last 30 years, and ice on an average is forming quite a bit later than it did for a number of years,” he said.

On the Duluth harbor, Coast Guard crewmembers slowly guide the Alder back to pier. The Alder completed its last ice-breaking mission of the season Wednesday. It will start smashing through the ice again in early March.

Duluth News Tribune


Satellites reveal scant Great Lakes ice cover

1/18 - A composite map of the Great Lakes produced by NOAA’s CoastWatch organization shows near-historic low ice coverage across the region.

The map, known as the Great Lakes Surface Environmental Analysis, is a composite of data taken from NOAA satellites orbiting the earth’s poles and radar scans of the lakes by the National Ice Center. The resulting image shows surface water temperature and ice coverage, important data for region scientists, fishermen and boaters. The map’s data is updated daily.

“Previously, the lowest ice coverage year was 2002,” CoastWatch manager George Leshkevich said. “2012 came very close to 2002, and this year is looking very similar to last year.” Lack of ice cover leads to increased water evaporation, a serious concern in light of already-low lake levels.

The map is used by people in many different fields, Leshkevich said. It began as a tool to help hydrodynamic modelers who needed daily temperature readings across the entire Great Lakes region. It has since been used by fishermen and charter boat captains in order to find warmer areas of the lakes where fish gather, as well as by ecologists studying temperature-sensitive species like the zebra mussel.

“It’s a fairly accurate product,” Leshkevich said. “We’ve validated it against data buoys in the lakes and against visual data we’ve been able to get on clear days, and it’s always been very close.”

According to Leshkevich, inaccuracies can result from cloud cover and solar warming of the lakes during the day. Many of these issues have been reduced by the introduction of more satellites into NOAA’s system. Originally only two satellites were positioned to retrieve data. Now there are four, with a fifth expected to begin transmitting data within the next week.

Great Lakes Echo


Updates -  January 18

Lay-up list updated


Today in Great Lakes History -  January 18

On 18 January 2004, the Great Lakes Fleet’s 1000 footer EDGAR B. SPEER became stuck in the ice in the Rock Cut in the St. 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.) ALGOMA 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.

1925: JOHN RUGEE, a wooden steamer in the George Hall Coal Co. fleet, was destroyed by a fire while spending the winter at Ogdensburg.

1938: The passenger ship WAUBIC was damaged by a fire at Kingsville, Ontario, while at winter quarters. It was rebuilt at Port Dover later in the year as b) ERIE ISLE.

1942: LAKE FLAMBEAU was built at Duluth in 1919. It was sailing as c) FRANCES SALMAN when it was sunk by U-552 off the coast of Newfoundland with the loss of 28 lives.

1983: The Greek freighter KIMOLIAKI PISTIS came through the Seaway in 1981. It caught fire on this date in 1983 and was abandoned enroute from Recife, Brazil, to a Black Sea port. The hull was towed into Piraeus, Greece, January 27 and declared a total loss. It first traveled to the Great Lakes as a) MINAS CONJURO in 1969 and then as b) EUGENIO in 1979. The vessel arrived at Split, Yugoslavia, for scrapping on February 21, 1984

1998: The second MAPLEGLEN caught fire in the engine room while in lay-up at Owen Sound and sustained about $40,000 in damage.

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


Port Reports -  January 17

Twin Ports – Al Miller
Roger Blough arrived in Duluth at mid-morning Wednesday to lay up at Fraser Shipyards in Superior. The Blough waited at anchor for winds to subside before motoring into port. The vessel's master blew three long and two short whistle blasts as a salute to the Aerial Lift Bridge as the Blough passed through the ship canal. The area immediately inside the canal was free of ice but the Blough did encounter broken ice as it proceeded through Duluth Harbor to the shipyard.

Marquette, Mich. - Rod Burdick
John G. Munson and Manitowoc loaded ore at the Upper Harbor on Wednesday.

Milwaukee, Wis. - Tom Q. and Jake Heffernan
Stewart J. Cort arrived in Milwaukee on Wednesday at 4 p.m. for winter lay-up at the Heavy Lift dock - inner harbor.

Owen Sound, Ont. - Torben Hawksbridge
The Lower Lakes Towing Co.’s Saginaw was in Owen Sound Wednesday to unload at the Great Lakes Elevator terminal.

Toledo, Ohio – Jim Hoffman
Great Republic arrived at the Torco Ore Dock early Wednesday morning to unload ore. When finished unloading, the Republic proceeded to the CSX No.1 Dock for winter layup (same dock as last year). Olive L. Moore/Lewis J. Kuber are due in at the Torco Ore Dock Wednesday evening to unload ore. This will be the last vessel of the season for the Torco Dock. When finished unloading, they will re-enter winter layup, assumed to be at her previous winter layup dock at the Midwest Terminal International. Algoma Enterprise still remains at the Kuhlman Dock waiting for the strong currents in the Maumee River to subside. It is unknown at this time when the Enterprise will be able to depart.


Port Clinton lighthouse restoration stalls over location spat

1/17 - Port Clinton, Ohio – Efforts to restore a historic Port Clinton lighthouse that once guided boaters into the entrance of the Portage River have stalled because the city and the lighthouses owners can’t agree on where the structure should be relocated.

The Port Clinton Lighthouse Conservancy, which is spearheading the project, wants the wooden lighthouse placed at Waterworks Park, just off the Lake Erie shore near the river's mouth once restoration is completed. The city wants it farther from the waterfront.

After a 13-month stalemate, the conservancy is taking its case to the public. The group will hold a community meeting from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Ida Rupp Public Library. The group hopes to rally community support and in turn pressure city officials to adopt their plan, said Richard Norgard, president of the conservancy.

“We believe that the full restoration of the lighthouse and its placement on the waterfront will do more than preserve a vital piece of local history for future generations,” Mr. Norgard wrote in a recent letter to The Blade. “It will also serve as an unparalleled attraction for visitors from far and wide, and help fuel the citys economy into the foreseeable future.”

The lighthouse, built in 1896, is owned by Darrell Brand, owner of Brands Marina in Port Clinton. It has sat on the marina property located further west down the river for more than 60 years. It was relocated from the west pier of the Portage River after previous marina owners bought it from the city to keep it from being destroyed.

In November, 2011, Mr. Brand, the conservancy, and city officials began discussing the potential a relocated lighthouse could have on revitalizing downtown. That led to Port Clinton City Council voting unanimously on Dec. 20, 2011, to accept Mr. Brand’s offer to transfer lighthouse ownership to the city. That’s when negotiations broke down.

Mayor Vincent P. Leone said the problems began when the city asked Mr. Brand to sign a contract releasing the city from any liability that could result from the transfer. Mr. Brand countered with the demand that the lighthouse be placed in Waterworks Park and ownership revert back to him if the structure was ever moved, Mr. Leone said.

“Anytime we can secure an important part of our history we think it’s a good idea,” Mr. Leone said. “But it was a gift with a lot of conditions, so I was unwilling to accept those.” He said the city would like to keep its options open.

Marina employees said Mr. Brand is on vacation and could not be reached for comment. Mr. Norgard and other members of the restoration group acknowledged the reasons for the impasse.

“We haven’t agreed where to put it,” said John Smothers, a member of the restoration group. Despite the uncertainty, the group has already raised about $13,000 through donations and a local grant to do the restoration work, Mr. Smothers said. The total project is expected to cost about $30,000.

The top of the lighthouse was removed in late 2011, and Mr. Smothers and other volunteers started refurbishing efforts, which included placing new siding on the lantern house. The next challenge is to try to replace rotted wood and the base.

The Port Clinton Lighthouse, a four-sided, pyramidal wooden structure, guided vessels into the Portage River until about 1927.

Toledo Blade


January Marine News - Demolitions

1/17 - Marine News, the monthly journal of the World Ship Society, reports the following Seaway salties going for scrap in the January 2013 issue.

The Algerian freighter BLIDA first visited the Seaway in 1983 and returned in 1984. The ship was seized by Somali pirates on January 1, 2011, and held until a $3.5 million ransom was paid. The freed freighter developed mechanical problems on the Indian Ocean in November 2011 and, on arrival in Tanzania, was declared a total loss. The 33-year old vessel was later placed under arrest, sold to Cambodian interests as b) BEENA and resold to Indian shipbreakers. The bulk carrier was beached at Alang on November 12, 2012, for dismantling.

FAHIM arrived at Aliaga, Turkey, on November 13, 2012. The ship was only a year old when it first came to the Great Lakes in 1976 as a) CUPID. The vessel was sailing under a 6th name when it reached the scrapyard.

GULMAR was beached at Alang on November 11, 2012, after 31 years of service. This ship had been a frequent Seaway trader beginning in 1983 as b) SOREN TOUBRO and its visits included a grounding in the St. Marys River on April 27, 1988, that required the help of the tug CHIPPEWA. After two inland trips in 1998, the vessel was sold and returned in September 1998 as c) MILLENIUM FALCON delivering steel to Chicago before loading at Sarnia on the way out. It continued Seaway service through 2002 before another sale. The vessel made its last trip inland as f) GULMAR in 2006 and was now owned by Turkish interests.

KIMON A. arrived at Alang on October 31, 2012, and was beached on November 4. This Friendship Class cargo carrier came through the Seaway first as a) AMARYLLIS in 1989 and returned as b) CLIPPER AMARYLLIS in 1996.

KULSAMUT arrived at Mumbai, India, on November 20, 2012, and was beached two days later. Originally the VICTORY, this bulk carrier first appeared in the Seaway bound for Burns Harbor in November 1984, and returned as b) VICTORY in 1988.

LANGERON arrived at Alang on November 13, 2012, and was beached on November 21. This ship was known as b) PACIFIC DEFENDER when it first traded through the Seaway in April 1985. It returned as c) LORI J. on several occasions beginning in 1989 and as d) YICK HUA starting in June 1994.

OKOLTCHITZA carried the same name from its completion in 1982 until the final trip to Alang, India, in 2012. It arrived at the latter location on November 10, 2012, and was beached for demolition on November 18. The Bulgarian-flag bulk carrier was a Seaway trader beginning in 1989 and returned in the 1990s and 2000s.

OPAL II visited the Seaway under six of its eight names. The vessel was built as NOSIRA LIN in 1981 and came to the Great Lakes the first year. It was back as b) DAN BAUTA in 1989, c) KRISTIANIAFJORD in 1991, d) FEDERAL VIBEKE in 1993, e) KALISTI in 2000 and f) NOBILITY in 2004. The vessel arrived at Alang, India, as h) OPAL II on November 1, 2012, and was beached on November 14.

We acknowledge the annual publication Seaway Salties, compiled by Rene Beauchamp, as an excellent resource and it has provided us with the years that the above ships first came to the Great Lakes.

Submitted by Barry Andersen, Rene Beauchamp and Skip Gillham


Help wanted: Great Lakes Shipyard hiring Quality, Safety and Environmental Manager

1/17 - Great Lakes Shipyard, located in Cleveland, Ohio, is currently hiring a Quality, Safety and Environmental Manager. We operate a full-service shipyard with a 770-ton Travelift and a dry dock specializing in all types marine construction, fabrication, repairs, and off-site topside work of every kind for various types of vessels and barges.

This in-house position includes, but is not limited to, the following responsibilities: manage all shipyard quality, safety, and environmental issues; review current policies and create new plans to improve quality standards; develop key metrics and record keeping criteria for all quality testing, procedures and protocols; develop and maintain document control system and develop evaluation criteria for key metrics; ensure that all activities conform to health and safety regulations and legislation; maintain a safe and hazard-free environment; propose, develop and implement improvements in the areas of production control, budget development, efficiency, scheduling, and quality engineering and monitoring; etc.

We offer an excellent benefits package that includes healthcare, dental, vision, short-term and long term disability insurance, employee assistance program, 401(k) profit sharing plan, vacation time, sick time, company paid holidays and a friendly working environment. Candidates must be able to pass background check and have E-Verify authorization.

Submit cover letter, resume, certifications, and salary requirements: by email: For more information on the Company, visit


Updates -  January 17

Lay-up list updated
Historical Perspectives Gallery updated - New pictures in the Meaford, Howard L Shaw, Soo Harbor 1904, Amoco Illinois, and George M. Carl. galleries


Today in Great Lakes History -  January 17

NORTHERN VENTURE closed the Welland Canal for the season as she passed downbound 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.

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 - 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.

2000: FEDERAL VIBEKE got stuck in the ice on the St. Lawrence and was almost carried into the bridge at Quebec City. The vessel was bound for Sorel with steel. It first came to the Great Lakes in 1993 after previous visits as a) NOSIRA LIN beginning in 1981, b) DAN BAUTA in 1989, and c) KRISTIANIAFJORD in 1991. It was back as e) KALISTI in 2000 and f) NOBILITY in 2004. This bulk carrier arrived at Alang, India, for scrapping as h) OPAL II and was beached on November 14, 2012.

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


Cason J. Callaway closes locks season on Tuesday

1/16 - Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. – Cason J. Callaway was the last vessel of the 2012/13 shipping season to pass through the Soo Locks, clearing at 6:43 p.m. The official closing time was midnight, which she beat by nearly five hours. The Callaway, of the Duluth-based Great Lakes Fleet, is loaded with taconite from Two Harbors, Minn., bound for Indiana Harbor. After discharging her cargo, she will head for lay-up in Sturgeon Bay at Bay Shipbuilding.

Earlier in the day, the Saginaw also locked down, with grain from Thunder Bay for Owen Sound, Ont. Wilfred M. Cohen and barge 9000 were last to transit upbound, passing through at mid-day. The locks are due to reopen just after midnight on March 25.

Other traffic Tuesday included Manitowoc, heading in to Essar Steel. John G. Munson departed Essar upbound to Marquette in the afternoon for couple taconite runs to Essar in the following days.

The locks were opened on March 24, 2012 with Mesabi Miner the first ship of the year. Interlake's Stewart J. Cort was the first upbound vessel for the 2012 season.

Now that the locks are closed, annual maintenance and repairs will begin, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

District personnel will perform a five-year periodic inspection of the MacArthur Lock, while work crews repair watertight doors and miter gates, and install a new air bubbler ice suppression system on the MacArthur Lock gates. Concrete upgrades and installation of gate fenders are also planned in the MacArthur Lock. Piping will be installed in the Poe Lock for a new hydraulic system to operate the gates, booms and valves.

More than 4,500 vessel passages carrying up to 80 million tons of cargo maneuver through the locks annually. Iron ore, coal and limestone are among the most frequently carried commodities. Built in 1968, the Poe is 1,200 feet long. The MacArthur was built in 1943 and is 800 feet long.

Denny Dushane, Mark H., Jim Spencer, Soo Evening News, Michelle Hill (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers)


Great Lakes iron ore trade up slightly in 2012

1/16 - Cleveland, Ohio – Shipments of iron ore on the Great Lakes totaled 61.6 million tons in 2012, a slight improvement over 2011. The increase, 245,000 tons, is equal to about four cargos in a 1,000-foot-long vessel operating at current drafts, which are significantly reduced by the dredging crisis and falling water levels. If a vessel that size was able to load to depths available when the lakes were at near record highs in 1997, it could carry that much cargo in 3.4 trips.

Shipments from U.S. ports totaled 53.7 million tons, a decrease of 2.5 percent compared to 2011. Included in that total were 3.7 million tons transshipped to Quebec City for loading into oceangoing vessels.

Loadings at Canadian ports in the St. Lawrence Seaway totaled 7.9 million tons, an increase of 25.3 percent.

The first loads of 2013 make clear the dredging crisis and record low water levels will challenge the industry this year. The biggest cargos were just slightly over 60,000 tons. The record for the iron ore trade through the Soo Locks is 72,300 tons, and that cargo dates from 1997, the last time water levels approached record highs.

Lake Carriers Association


Port Reports -  January 16

Sturgeon Bay, Wis. - Wendell Wilke
A freshly-painted Michipicoten came out of drydock Tuesday morning with assistance from the Selvick tugs Jimmy L., Susan L., Cameron O. and Sharon M. Selvick. She was rafted next to the Walter J. McCarthy, Jr. taking on fuel. Around 1 p.m., the Selvick tugs Jimmy L. and Susan L. towed her out beyond Sherwood Point closer to open waters where she headed for layup, presumably at Sarnia.

Toledo, Ohio - Jim Hoffman
Tuesday during the morning two vessels arrived for winter layup. Rt. Hon. Paul J.Martin arrived at the Midwest Terminals International Cargo Dock. Sam Laud arrived at the former Interlake Iron Company Dock near the Ironhead Shipyard. She is behind the Adam E. Cornelius. Algoma Enterprise remains at the Kuhlman Dock waiting out the strong currents on the Maumee River, and it is unknown when she will be able to leave. Great Republic and Olive L.Moore/Lewis J. Kuber are due in on Wednesday to unload ore at the Torco Ore Dock. These will be the last two vessels scheduled at this dock for the season. There are five vessels docked at the Ironhead Shipyard area/ Phoenix Star is in drydock. Algosar, Sea Eagle II/St. Marys Cement II, Sam Laud and Adam E. Cornelius are moored at the riverfront dock area of the shipyard. More vessels are scheduled to arrive at Toledo for winter layup during the next several days.


Coast Guard cutter Morro Bay being transferred to Great Lakes

1/16 - New London, Conn. – A Coast Guard cutter is leaving the city for a new home in Cleveland. Adm. Robert J. Papp Jr. said the Morro Bay will transfer this summer so it will be available to break ice on the Great Lakes. There are no plans to assign another ship to New London to take the Morro Bay's place anytime in the near future, Papp, the Coast Guard commandant, added.

The Morro Bay, a 140-foot icebreaker, was commissioned in 1981 and operated on the Chesapeake Bay. It was decommissioned in 1998.But after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, Papp said, the Coast Guard wanted more resources on the East Coast for security operations. The cutter, which was at a Baltimore shipyard for retired ships, rejoined the fleet and moved to New London.

"Morro Bay was never brought back because we needed an icebreaker in New London," said Papp, who was at the Coast Guard Academy Wednesday to give his annual leadership address. The Morro Bay will be more useful in Cleveland, Papp said, because the Coast Guard needs to break ice on the Great Lakes every year and the cutter can also take the place of other icebreakers when they are sent to the shipyard for renovations.

The Morro Bay is normally responsible for the waters near Nantucket as well as the Cape Cod Canal and Cape Cod Bay. The crew is typically made up of three officers and 14 enlisted personnel. They have traveled from New London to break ice in the Great Lakes and cleared paths for ships in New York's Hudson River and Maine's Penobscot Bay, when there wasn't ice near Nantucket and Cape Cod.

The Cutter Chinook, an 87-foot patrol boat, will remain in New London, Papp said. Papp said he is not sending another ship to the city right now because the Coast Guard does not have a lot of pier space here. "While I think New London is a great homeport, we just haven't been able to come up with shore infrastructure money to be able to replace the pier," he said.

The Day of New London McClatchy-Tribune News Service


Updates -  January 16

Lay-up list updated
Historical Perspectives Gallery updated - New pictures in the Thomas F. Cole gallery


Today in Great Lakes History -  January 16

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

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

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, 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.

1926: The wooden steamer PALM BAY caught fire while laid up at Portsmouth, Ontario, and was scuttled in Lake Ontario the next year. It had previously sailed as a) PUEBLO and b) RICHARD W.

1988: ASHLAND, enroute to scrapping in Taiwan, dragged anchor off Bermuda and ran aground on the rocks in severe winds. It was pulled free 4 days later with heavy bottom damage and barely made Mamonal, Colombia, for scrapping on February 5.

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


Orderly parade wraps up 2012 shipping season at Soo

1/15 - The 2012 shipping season entered its final hours Monday as handful of heavily-laden ore boats plodded through the waters of Lake Superior.

The boats and their crews were moving toward the locks at Sault Ste. Marie as workmen undertook the final tasks required in preparing to shut down the cavernous tubs that raise and lower the vessels moving along America's Great Lakes waterway. The locks will close Tuesday night and maintenance of the system will begin soon thereafter.

Making everything easier for the crews, Mother Nature was in a benevolent mood – the weather was generally quiet on all the Great Lakes, seas and temperatures were moderate, the winds were generally light and visibility was good. It was near perfect weather for those who had to be on deck. It was just another day at the locks that produced very little gnashing of wheelhouse teeth and the orderly transit of at least six boats downbound before darkness settled.

Vessels locking downbound Monday included the tug Defiance and barge Ashtabula, James R. Barker and the tug Olive L. Moore and barge Lewis J. Kuber. Also locking down were the Edwin H. Gott and Great Republic.

Early afternoon Monday saw the 850-foot Roger Blough locking through enroute to her layup berth in Superior. The tug Joyce L. Van Enkevort and barge Great Lakes Trader were headed up Lake Huron for Escanaba and the late season Lake Michigan taconite trade.

Only the Cason J. Callaway, sailing from Silver Bay for Indiana Harbor, and the American Mariner, which sailed from two Harbors shortly after midnight Sunday, had yet to lock downbound as of Monday night.

Jim Spencer


Lakes limestone trade down 3.6 percent in 2012

1/15 - Cleveland, Ohio – Shipments of limestone on the Great Lakes totaled 27,145,219 tons in 2012, a decrease of 3.6 percent compared to 2011. The trade was 7 percent below its 5-year average.

Shipments from U.S. ports fell 2.4 percent when compared to 2011, and slightly more – 4.1 percent –when compared to their 5-year average. Loadings at Canadian quarries decreased 9 percent compared to 2011, and slipped almost 19 percent compared to their 5-year average.

Falling water levels and the dredging crisis took a toll in 2012. By year’s end, a vessel that has carried as much as 35,457 tons in a single trip averaged only 29,796 tons on the three stone loads it moved in December. The cargos were loaded at a quarry on Lake Huron and that body of water has fallen to a new record low.

Lake Carriers Association


St. Lawrence Seaway wraps up 2012 with late-season surge

1/15 - Cornwall, Ont. – The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SLSMC) has announced that tonnage increased by 4 percent to 38.9 million tonnes during the 2012 navigation season, exceeding the SLSMCs original forecast by 300,000 tonnes, thanks in part to a late-season surge in grain movements.

Strong performance within a number of core markets contributed to an overall gain of 1.4 million tonnes for the year, when compared to the Seaway’s 2011 result of 37.5 million tonnes.

Demand for low sulphur coal in Europe led to a substantial increase in coal volumes, while busy Chinese steel mills triggered an upsurge in the demand for iron ore. The shipments of coal and iron ore were brought to the Great Lakes and loaded on domestic lakers. The lakers then proceeded from the Great Lakes to the lower St. Lawrence River, where the commodities were trans-shipped to larger ocean vessels, for export to overseas destinations.

On the grain front, 2012 was a story of contrasts, as strong Canadian grain movements offset a sharp drop in U.S. grain movements, due to the drought that impacted the majority of the U.S. grain belt. Terence Bowles, President and CEO of the SLSMC, emphasized the essential role that the Seaway plays within the North American transportation network. “The Seaway was instrumental in providing grain shippers with the means to rapidly respond and capitalize on market opportunities late in the season,” said Bowles.

A number of newly built state-of-the art vessels came into service within the Seaway in 2012, boasting sharp increases in fuel efficiency and reductions in emission levels. “These new vessels, part of a billion dollar fleet renewal effort by domestic and ocean carriers, combined with our marketing efforts which have recorded 10.6 million tonnes in new business over the past five years, underscore the Seaway’s future potential,” added Bowles.

The 2012 season also witnessed an important advance in navigational technology.

“The commissioning of the Draft Information System (DIS) further enhances vessel safety and efficiency,” said Craig Middlebrook, Deputy Administrator of the U.S. Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation. “A vessel equipped with DIS can now precisely gauge the amount of water under the ship’s keel, given satellite guided navigation combined with highly precise models of the channel floor.”

The St. Lawrence Seaway closed for the season on December 29 with the westbound vessel John B. Aird transiting the Iroquois Lock at 8:59 p.m. The Aird then proceeded further west and served as the last vessel to transit the Seaway’s Welland Canal, clearing Lock 8 at Port Colborne on December 31st at 4:23 a.m.

Some 227,000 jobs and $34 billion in economic activity are supported by the movement of goods within the Great Lakes / Seaway waterway. For more information on the Seaway, consult the website.


Port Reports -  January 15

Marquette, Mich. - Rod Burdick
Fleetmates Great Republic and John G. Munson met off the Upper Harbor Monday morning. Republic was departing after loading ore during the night and Munson was arriving to load.

Sturgeon Bay, Wis. - Wendell Wilke
Wilfred Sykes arrived Bay Shipbuilding in the early morning Monday after coming down the Bay of Green Bay. She was assisted into Berth 3 by the Selvick tugs Jimmy L., Susan L. and Cameron O. Shortly after, Walter J. McCarthy Jr. entered the Bay of Green Bay, also heading for Bayship. As she was turning preparing to make her turn to back down to the yard, she needed some ice flushing around her hull, thus the Jimmy L. went out to assist and by noon she was well underway to the yard and was assisted to Berth 15.

Toledo, Ohio – Jim Hoffman
On Monday afternoon, the St.Clair arrived at the CSX #2 Dock for winter layup. She tied up in front of H. Lee White. Algoma Enterprise, after unloading her salt cargo, remains at the Kuhlman Dock. She is unable to proceed down the Maumee River due to the strong current that has developed from the snowmelt and recent heavy rains. It is unknown at this time when she will be able to depart. Great Republic and the Olive L. Moore/Lewis J. Kuber are due in at the Torco Ore Dock to unload ore on Wednesday. Both vessels loaded their ore cargoes at Marquette recently. These two vessels will be the last ore boats for the season for the Torco Ore Dock. Several more vessels are scheduled to arrive at Toledo this week for winter layup.


Great Lakes Shipyard appoints three new management positions

1/15 - Cleveland, Ohio – Great Lakes Shipyard recently appointed three management positions because of continued shipyard expansion.

Paul W. Deterding has been appointed as Vice President & General Manager. Formerly the General Manager at Donjon Shipbuilding and Repair Inc. LLC, Deterding brings over 25 years of experience in the marine, electrical and fire protection industries, mostly in the roles of Business Development and Team Leadership.

David Dudley has been appointed as Shipyard Foreman - New Construction & Repair. Dudley previously worked for International Ship Repair & Marine Service Inc. as Ship Superintendent. He has 15 years maritime experience, extensive background in ship repairs, and six years of experience as a Coating Superintendent.

Paul M. Hendricks has been appointed as Assistant Vice President of New Construction. Formerly Project Manager for Newport News Industrial, Hendricks was responsible for all aspects of large-scale construction projects. Prior, he worked for Newport News Shipbuilding for over 20 years in a variety of capacities.

Great Lakes Shipyard is a full-service yard specializing in new construction, fabrication, repairs, and winter work of all types of vessels and barges. The shipyard’s current order book includes drydock and repair on the ferry Islander for Miller Boat Line, the construction of two new state-of-the-art ASD tractor tugs for Caribbean Tugz LLC, an affiliate of SEACOR Holdings, Inc, and winter work scheduled for The Interlake Steamship Company’s Dorothy Ann/Pathfinder and American Steamship Company’s American Courage.

To learn more, visit


Updates -  January 15

Lay-up list updated
Historical Perspectives Gallery updated - New gallery for January - Thomas F. Cole


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.

1986: The former Greek freighter PAULINA C., a Seaway trader beginning in 1976, ran aground off the Dutch coast near Rotterdam as c) RIO GRANDE. It was refloated January 23 and became d) NEPTUNIA later in 1986. It arrived at Bombay, India, for scrapping on December 3, 1986.

1990: The tanker MAYA FARBER came through the Seaway in 1981. It was anchored off Port Sudan as e) RAAD AL-BAKRY VIII when there was an explosion in a cargo tank. Fire broke out and the vessel was gutted. The hull later broke in two and the after end sank. The forebody was sold for scrap and arrived at Alang, India, for dismantling on March 28, 1990.

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


Sailor humor shows up on AIS with interesting season-ending ports

1/14 - Season-ending destinations for Great Lakes freighters and their crews may reveal more about some wheelhouse personnel than just where the boats are headed for winter layup. While many vessels were showing their next ports in normal fashion on the AIS system, others crews were plainly ready for a change of scenery.

According to the AIS postings, one boat and crew were bound for the "Winter Burrow.” Another was going to be putting the mooring lines over the side at "Home Sweet Home." Still another was simply heading "Home." Sailing for "The Barn,” or "Hamilton Barn" were noted as well.

But one wag aboard the 1,000-footer Paul R. Tregurtha, that made its layup Sturgeon Bay on Saturday, let the world know he wasn't looking for a rocking chair: "Disney World," proclaimed the automated ship tracker.

Jim Spencer


Port Reports -  January 14

Milwaukee, Wis. - John N. Vogel and Jason Heindel
American Steamship's American Integrity arrived in Milwaukee Sunday morning for winter lay-up. It is on the east wall, at the south end of the inner harbor. Burns Harbor is on the west wall, south end, inner harbor.

Grand Haven, Mich. - Dick Fox
The arrival of the Central Marine Logistics steamer Wilfred Sykes closed the port’s season on Jan. 10. This is the first time in five years that the season has carried over into January. The season opened on March 23 with the tug Prentiss Brown and barge St. Marys Conquest.

The port saw a slight improvement in the number of visits from last season, receiving 61 vs. 54 cargos at the four active docks. However the number of boats remained the same at 14. The most frequent visitor was the tug Undaunted and barge Pere Marquette 41 with 14 visits. Wilfred Sykes and the Manitowoc tied for second with 10 visits each.

Toledo, Ohio - Jim Hoffman
Arthur M. Anderson arrived at the Torco Ore Dock late Sunday afternoon for winter layup. She originally arrived Saturday evening to unload ore that was loaded at Marquette, Michigan. When finished unloading early Sunday morning she backed out into Lake Erie to clean the cargo holds. When this was completed, she headed back to Toledo for winter layup at Torco.

Early Sunday afternoon Algoma Enterprise, under tow of the tugs Mississippi and Nebraska, arrived at the Kuhlman Dock to unload salt. The Enterprise was expected to depart Sunday evening, however with the recent heavy rains and snowmelt in the Maumee River watershed area the river is now on the rise and creating a very strong current that will last for several days. There are several more boats due in to Toledo for winter layup during the next week.

Sandusky, Ohio - Jim Spencer
CSL's Rt. Hon. Paul J. Martin was nearing Nanticoke, Ont. Sunday night, making ready to unload another cargo of coal at the large steel mill located along the north shore of Lake Erie east of Long Point. The 730-footer loaded overnight Saturday-Sunday at the NS coal dock. The dock - the only one remaining open as the shipping season winds down - is expected to stay open throughout the winter.


Fishing company fined $5,000 for fishing in Ohio

1/14 - Port Clinton, Ohio – Pisces Fisheries Inc. of Wheatley, Ontario, was fined $5,000 for fishing illegally in Ohio waters, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR). Pisces Fisheries was sentenced by the Ottawa County Municipal Court in Port Clinton on Dec. 21, 2012, by Magistrate Louis P. Wargo III.

"This was a great multi-agency response," said Gino Barna, ODNR Division of Wildlife law supervisor for the Lake Erie Law Enforcement Unit. "Gill nets have not been a major issue on Lake Erie in recent years because of the cooperation with other agencies. Because of this support network, incidents like this do not go undetected, and Ohio's resources are better protected."

The charges were the result of the Adco II, a gill net tug owned by Pisces Fisheries, fishing with gill nets in Ohio waters on two separate occasions. On May 5, 2012, the ODNR Division of Wildlife, with the assistance of the U.S. Border Patrol, the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) Station Marblehead and ODNR Division of Watercraft, five nets belonging to the Adco II were found in Ohio waters north of North Bass Island.

On May 9, 2012, five more nets set by the Adco II were found by the U.S. Border Patrol south of Middle Sister Island in Ohio waters. The USCG monitored the nets throughout the night and boarded the Adco II the following morning.

Wildlife investigators from the Lake Erie Law Enforcement Unit investigated the incidents. Two charges were filed for possessing gill nets in Ohio, and two charges were filed for fishing with commercial nets in Ohio without a commercial license.

The use of gill nets is not a legal method for taking fish in Ohio. Although commercial fishermen may use other types of nets, such as trap nets and seines, gill nets were outlawed in Ohio in 1983.


New water lows for Great Lakes could drain local economies

1/14 - Chris Berkey makes his living plying the often treacherous waters of the Great Lakes, delivering staples like cement to industries nestled in the myriad harbors that dot a coastline that's equal to nearly half of the circumference of the globe. It's not glamorous work, but it is critical to the U.S. economy. And it's getting harder.

Water levels in Lake Michigan and Lake Huron fell to record low levels for December, and are expected to break the all-time low sometime in the next few months.

Cargo ships like Berkey's are being forced to lighten their loads, some harbors have already been forced to close and the tourist trade is bracing for an impact as well. "In years past, there was always a buffer," he said. "That buffer's gone."

It's not a new problem. Lake levels have been below average for at least 13 years, said Keith Kompoltowicz, chief of watershed hydrology for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Detroit. But it is an increasingly serious one:

• The coal trade on the Great Lakes declined 8.2% in 2012 from the previous year, and down a quarter off the 5-year-averge -- in large part due to falling water levels and a $200 million backlog in necessary dredging throughout the lakes, according to the Lake Carriers' Association.

• Commercial fishing boats are finding it increasingly difficult to navigate some harbors, risking a downturn in a vital part of the Great Lakes economy, said Mark Breederland, an educator with Michigan SeaGrant, which works with coastal communities on water-level issues, among other things.

• Charter boat operations and other businesses in coastal communities that depend on tourism fear the impact lower water levels will have from spring to fall, when tens of thousands of people flow into the state to boat, fish, eat out and shop.

In Frankfort, Michigan, a popular salmon run on the Betsie River draws tourists drawn by the lure of fishing a rare naturally replenished population of the prized fish, said city manager Josh Mills. "We see people from Texas, from Georgia, from Ohio, Illinois, other areas of Michigan," he said.

But low lake levels last year dried up the run, leaving salmon flopping in the mud, and forcing the state Department of Natural Resources to close to run to protect the population.

It appears a good number of the fish made it to their spawning grounds, but if water levels don't recover in the spring, the narrow channel through which the fish pass could dry up once again -- prompting tourists to find someplace else to go, Breederland said. Also of concern: potential access problems at some of the private marinas dotting Betsie Bay, Mills said.

Despite efforts to diversify the city's economy in recent years, such problems would be a huge blow to the tiny community of 1,300, the city manager said. "I'm confident the community will step up," he said. "But if there's no water, we're going to miss out on a lot of activity."

The problem is a long-term cycle of too little water from melting snow and rain to counter the effects of evaporation on the lakes, Kompoltowicz. Last winter, too little snow fell on the Great Lakes region to fully replenish the lakes. While Lake Michigan and Lake Huron typically rise a foot after the spring melt, the lakes only rose four inches last spring, Kompoltowicz said.

Add that tiny rise to a very hot, very dry summer that sucked water out of the lake like a straw, and you have a recipe for the decline in lake levels under way today, he said. There's too little data to say the problem is a product of global warming, he said. It's also a cycle that's been seen before.

Lake levels were nearly this low in December 1964, and it's the March 1964 record that's likely to fall in the next few months.

There is hope, he said. Records dating back to 1918 would seem to indicate a cyclical pattern that could well result in record lake levels in the next few years, he said. Such swings occurred in the 1970s and 1980s after similar low points. But even if the water returns, what would appear to be a more intractable problem looms: Congress.

Groups with interests in the economy of the Great Lakes say Congress has failed to appropriate enough money to keep up with a growing backlog of dredging jobs needed to keep harbors clear for larger boats.

As a result, 17 million tons of sediment -- runoff from farms, mostly -- built up in harbors and other critical areas, said Glen Nekvasil, vice president of the Lake Carriers' Association, a trade association for commercial cargo interests.

Michigan Sen. Carl Levin has been pushing Congress to appropriate an unspent balance of nearly $7 billion in a trust fund designed to pay for such work, but to little avail so far -- much to the chagrin of interests along the lakeshore.

The fund takes in $1.6 billion a year, but only spends $800 million a year nationside, Nevkasil said. "The money is there," he said. "They just need to use it."

The concern about lake levels has even spread to Chicago's wastewater treatment program, where a spate of recent media coverage worried that declining lake levels could cause the heavily managed Chicago River to reverse its course and dump sewage into Lake Michigan.

Chicago's Metropolitan Water Reclamation District issued a press released Friday batting down the theory, saying “it's just not possible for such a thing to happen.”

But it could result in restrictions on river traffic as the agency works with the Corps to ensure problems with low oxygen levels in the river, the agency said in its release.

"We are not in a crisis at this time nor do we anticipate being in a crisis this year even if the drought should continue," the agency said.

While the big deepwater ships that carry huge quantities of the nation's iron ore, coal and other goods are able to steam the deep waters of the Great Lakes as they always have, they must carry ever lighter loads to avoid grounding on the increasingly shallow harbors where they unload.

For instance, Nekvasil visited a ship Friday in Indiana Harbor, Indiana that's designed to carry 76,000 tons of iron ore. Because of low water levels and the harbors filing with silt, it can only carry 58,000 tons, he said.

As of now, light-loading is merely a matter of efficency, Nevkasil said. But that's in large part because the fragile economic recovery has not yet put a full burner under the nation's industry.

"We can meet demand now because the economy is not fully recovered," he said. "If demand for all of the cargo we move was at peak levels, we could not."

While the situation has not yet resulted in job losses among ship crews, Burkey said some of the businesses to which he's long delivered supplies are shutting down because the harbors are just too unreliable. Others are switching to truck and rail to bring supplies.

Some harbors also are planning to shut down, said Breederland, while others may not be able to accommodate some larger recreational and charter boats that bring tourists to the region when the weather warms.

That worries Steve Christian, the owner of Dinghy's restaurant in Frankfort. About 70 percent of his sales come during the summer fishing season.

"If they can't get into the harbor and go fish, they're not going to be coming into my restaurant and ordering food and beverages," he said.

Still he said, he's pretty sure things will return to normal in a few years. "This has happened before in the living man's memory," he said. "It's cyclical, and we'll recover."



Obituary: Capt. John Bissell, last C&O carferry captain

1/14 - Captain John Francis Bissell, age 88 of Dade City Florida, formally from Scottville, Ludington and Charlevoix, Mich., passed away peacefully in the care of Hospice on Jan. 2.

Capt. John, considered by many the best boat handler on the lakes and the last of the Chesapeake & Ohio captains, was born in Cleveland, Ohio, on March 4, 1924. His parents were Joseph and Anna (McFadden) Bissell. He moved to Charlevoix as a child with his family where the Bissells owned and operated a commercial fishing business. Growing up, John worked in the family business in Charlevoix and on Beaver Island. He repaired nets and fished with his father and brothers.

World War II started when Bissel was in high school, and as soon as he graduated he joined the U.S. Navy, where he became a swimming instructor for naval pilots at the Naval Air Station in Ottumwa, Iowa. When the war ended, he was honorably discharged and he returned to Charlevoix and continued in the fishing business. When the fishing business slowed, he went to work for the Michigan state ferries between Mackinaw and St. Ignace as an able-bodied seaman.

When construction began on the Mackinac Bride, Bissel signed on in the 1951 sailing season aboard the steamer Wilfred Sykes, where he worked as a watchman and a wheelsman. During the 1952 sailing season he signed on with the steamer the W.E. Fitzgerald as a wheelsman. Late in 1952, he took a job with the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad and in 1953 he was assigned to the carferry Pere Marquette 21. In 1957, he became a licensed deck officer, serving as 3rd Mate on all seven carferries at Ludington. He later became 2nd and then 1st Mate. For the next 20 years, he and his wife Theresa raised a family while he worked on the carferries out of Ludington.

By the early 1970s, the carferry business was slowing down to only three boats in Ludington, so Bissel began to explore new sailing careers. He flew to see the Panama Canal and cruised the Mississippi. He thought if the ferries went out of business he would become a ship’s pilot. At this time he was studying for his captain’s license, which he received in 1975. He started working as a relief captain for not only the C&O at Ludington and Port Huron but also the Grand Trunk carferries Madison and City of Milwaukee. Capt. John had the distinction of being the last captain of the steamers Madison and Spartan.

When Michigan-Wisconsin Transportation took over the boats at Ludington, Capt. John was given command of the Badger and was the last captain to sail the Ludington ferry out of Milwaukee. Captain John loved to have his family on the boats. His wife Theresa took many trips with him as did his children and grandchildren. On Sept 28, 1985, Capt. John retired. He made his last trip as captain on the City of Midland with his wife Theresa, many family members and friends on board.

Capt. John’s sailing career spanned over 50 years. During that time he worked on 18 different boats. The last five ships he served as captain. He was a devout Catholic, being a member of St. Stanislaus, St. Simons Parishes of Ludington and St. Jeromes in Scottville. He was a member of the Seamans Union and the Masters, Mates and Pilots Union.

There will not be a funeral. Capt. John Bissell’s remains have been cremated and his ashes will be returned to Ludington this summer; at that time there will be a memorial service to honor his life.


Lighthouses shine for archaeologists

1/14 - Port Huron, Mich. – The grounds surrounding Michigan’s oldest surviving lighthouse could see an archaeological excavation as experts work to learn more about the past while preserving it.

The Fort Gratiot Light Station in Port Huron was built in the 1820s and was transferred to St. Clair County from the U.S. Coast Guard as a historic site in 2010. It was built just north of the site that formerly held Fort Gratiot, a post built in 1814 and occupied by soldiers intermittently until 1879.

Now the local recreation department is searching for appropriate spots to dig for artifacts.

“We’ve always had the intention of doing an archaeological survey on the site,” said Dennis Delor, special events, marketing and volunteer coordinator for the St. Clair County Parks and Recreation Department. “We’re hoping that maybe in 2013, we’ll be able to do so.”

Delor said the county is working with colleges and universities in the hopes of coordinating an archaeological project at Fort Gratiot Light Station.

The location is largely undisturbed by development and other outside influences, so Delor said the area is ripe for further investigation.

“I have been involved in lighthouse archaeology projects before, and I’ve seen the benefits that are reaped from harvesting items related to the past keepers and their families,” he said.

Historic lighthouses and the surrounding grounds often prove fruitful locations for archaeological studies, and the number of lighthouses excavated for archaeological purposes has grown as the interest in them has grown, said Dean Anderson, the state’s archaeologist.

“Lighthouses are getting a little more attention archaeologically because they’re getting more attention from everyone,” Anderson said. “There’s a lot of interest in lighthouses these days, and I hope that people pay attention to the fact that studying them archaeologically is one way to learn more about them.”

For example, a dig last year conducted by Central Michigan University archaeologists at the McGulpin Point Lighthouse site in Mackinaw City led to the discovery of objects dating to the 19th and early 20th century and provided some insight into the daily lives of lighthouse keepers and their families, said Sarah Surface-Evans, a post-doctoral fellow in archaeology at the university and one the lead researcher on the project.

Surface-Evans said the objects found, which included animal remains, toys from the former lighthouse keeper’s children and other remnants of 1800s life, show a side of lighthouse life not previously in view.

“Our discoveries provided interesting details for telling the story of the McGulpin Point Lighthouse,” Surface-Evans said. “Michigan has tremendous maritime history at terrestrial and underwater sites throughout the state. Lighthouses were one facet of this history.

“Professional research conducted at lighthouses can help us paint a more accurate picture of their lives and gain a better understanding of their role in maritime Michigan’s history,” she said.

The investigations at McGlupin Point will continue in summer 2013 with support from Emmet County, and the findings from the dig will eventually be put on display at the site, Surface-Evans said.

Excavations and digs have also been conducted in other lighthouse locations, including the Grand Traverse Lighthouse and the nearby Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore on Lake Michigan and the Copper Harbor Lighthouse on Lake Superior.

Discoveries gleaned from archaeological research shine new light on the historic lighthouse structures, said Jennifer Radcliff, president of the Clarkston-based preservation group Michigan Lighthouse Fund.

“Archaeological research pulls the curtain back beyond what people had time to write down in journals and shows how life was actually lived,” Radcliff said.

A dig at the Fort Gratiot Lighthouse on Lake Huron could prove interesting, and more digs in more locations would lead to an even better understanding of the lives of lighthouse keepers and their families, even though they lived more than 100 years ago.

“If it was possible to do digs like that at every light station, we would see a much clearer picture of what their lives were like,” she said.

Great Lakes Echo


Updates -  January 14

News Photo Gallery
Lay-up list updated


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 miner’s strike.

1946: The BADGER STATE, a former Great Lakes canal ship as a) FORDONIAN, b) YUKONDOC and c) GEORGIAN, foundered off the mouth of the Grijalva River in the Gulf of Mexico.

1969: SAGAMO, retired former flagship of the Lake Muskoka passenger ships in Central Ontario, burned at the dock in Gravenhurst as a total loss.

1981: The former Lake Erie rail car ferry and later barge MAITLAND NO. 1 rolled over between Yarmouth, NS and Rockland, ME. An attempt to tow the vessel upside down failed and it sank. The ship was under tow of IRVING MAPLE and bound for Port Everglades, FL with a load of scrap. It may have been renamed b) TRIO TRADO at Quebec City on the way south.

Data from: Skip Gillham, Max Hanley, Brian Bernard, Russ Plumb, Ahoy & Farewell II, Father Dowling Collection and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series.


Port Reports -  January 13

Duluth, Minn. - Glenn Blaszkiewicz
Tug Victory with her barge James L. Kuber were loading at the CN Dock in Duluth Saturday morning.

Marquette, Mich. - Rod Burdick
The busy end to the shipping season at the Upper Harbor continued on Saturday. Pathfinder and Manitowoc were at the ore dock while Great Republic and Olive L. Moore/Lewis J. Kuber waited at anchor.

Milwaukee, Wis. - Jason Heindel
Burns Harbor has arrived for winter lay up.

Toledo, Ohio - Denny Dushane
The revised for the Torco Dock in Toledo has the Arthur M. Anderson due on Saturday in the late afternoon to deliver iron ore pellets. Following the Anderson is the Great Lakes Trader on Sunday in the late evening. Due next is the Lewis J. Kuber on Wednesday very early in the morning along with the Great Republic also Wednesday in the late morning. Rounding out the Torco lineup and possibly what could be the last visit of the season is the Arthur M. Anderson, due to arrive on January 17 in the early morning to unload, after which she will lay up at the Ironhead Shipyard. Vessels now in layup at Toledo include H. Lee White, which arrived on Friday and laid-up at the CSX #2 Dock. The tanker Algosar remains laid-up at the Kraft Foods Elevator Dock however, she will at some point be going into the small drydock at Ironhead. Phoenix Star is laid-up at the large drydock, Tug Sea Eagle II and barge St. Marys Cement II are at the St. Marys Cement Dock, Adam E. Cornelius is at the Old Interlake Iron Company Dock, Manistee is at the Torco Dock Slip #2 while ASC fleetmates American Fortitude and American Valor remain in long-term layup at the Lakefront Docks.

Sandusky, Ohio - Jim Spencer
Rt. Hon. Paul J. Martin began loading at the NS coal dock Saturday night.

Meanwhile, Sandusky was the winner among Lake Erie ports in the annual tussle to determine which port loads the greatest amount of coal. According to the Lake Carriers Association, Sandusky's Norfolk Southern coal dock loaded 3,032,083 tons during 2012. Toledo loaded 2.3-million tons, LCA said, while Ashtabula shipped another 1.6-million tons. No other Lake Erie ports ship coal. Overall, coal shipments on Lake Erie were down nearly 19-per cent, while across all the Great Lakes, the volume of coal tonnage carried by the freighters fell slightly more than eight percent. LCA said Great Lakes coal loadings were down by 25 per cent from the five-year average.


Group eyes partial preservation, new future for Ashland’s ore dock

1/13 - Ashland, Wis. – A non-profit Ashland-area group has formed "Save Our Oredock" (SOO) in an attempt to retain a portion of the world's largest ore loading facility before it's total dismantled.

The group has enlisted support from Ashland native and former Nextel CEO John Chapple, who grew up fishing and swimming off the dock, formerly operated by Soo Line Railroad. Chapple said the ore dock, currently being taken down by owner Canadian National Railway, can still play a vital role in the future of his hometown.

“My grandfather, father, siblings, cousins, and I regularly fished and swam at this historical landmark. It is a cathedral-like experience walking over the 1,850-foot monument. To see it demolished is heartbreaking, tragic, and the elimination of an American treasure,” said Chapple, an Ashland native.

SOO hopes to save some of the superstructure from the wrecking ball and to eventually build a maritime interpretive center that could include a cruise ship terminal, areas dedicated to fishing, picnic areas, and transient boat docking facilities amid a park-like atmosphere that uses Lake Superior to its full advantage.

“This is the perfect location for a multi-use facility that would educate the public about the vast history of this area including the Apostle Islands and other ports on the Great Lakes,” SOO director Jeff Peters said, noting SOO has been in contact with officials at Canadian National Railway.

“I prefer to remain optimistic,” Peters said. “I firmly think we can come to an agreement to make this a win-win situation for all parties involved. We can create something truly remarkable if we work together, but we must act with a sense of urgency.

“With careful and creative planning, the ore dock has the potential to once again boost northern Wisconsin’s economy and make it a true destination while preserving our heritage,” added Peters, whose late grandfather worked on the ore dock.

The ore dock is the largest of dozens of piers that once dotted the waterfront of Ashland. Built in 1916, Ashland's ore dock helped fuel a mining boom that started in the late 19th century and ended when the iron ore mines closed in 1965. The dock allowed iron ore to be transferred from trains to vessels for shipment down the Great Lakes to the steel mills that were vital to America’s growth. Steel was also in high demand during World War I and II.

CNR is planning to continue demolition of the ore dock if an agreement is not reached by mid-January.

“The clock is ticking now is the time for people who want to preserve this icon to step forward,” said Peters. For more information, please contact Jeff Peters at


Updates -  January 13

Lay-up list 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.

1964: A fire at the Collingwood shipyard did major damage to the forward cabin of the SIR DENYS LOWSON under construction. Despite the setback, the ship was still completed on schedule.

1968: The first LAKETON, under tow for scrapping in Vado, Italy, broke loose of the tug KORAL and foundered in the Atlantic.

1981: DUTEOUS broke loose at Montreal due to high water, smashed the dock and toppled two cranes. The runaway ship drifted downriver until the Coast Guard lowered pilots from a helicopter and they brought it under control.

1989: ENERCHEM CATALYST went aground at Round Island in the Straits of Mackinac. It was lightered to ENERCHEM REFINER and released January 17.

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


Victory loading in Duluth

1/12 - The barge that went missing on Lake Superior last weekend is back in service after a short down time for repairs. Tug Victory and barge James L. Kuber departed the Essar Steel mill in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. Thursday afternoon and headed upbound for Duluth.

The pair arrived late Friday night one week after the tug was released from the barge’s notch while transiting Lake Superior in heavy weather.

The incident is being blamed on human error, though no official cause has been given for the unplanned separation of the tug and barge.


Port Reports -  January 12

Marquette, Mich. - Rod Burdick
Great Lakes Trader and Herbert C. Jackson loaded ore at the Upper Harbor on Friday. Dorothy Ann and Pathfinder arrived and went to anchor.

Toledo, Ohio - Jim Hoffman
H. Lee White arrived for winter layup late Friday afternoon at the CSX # 2 Dock (all the way back in the corner). More vessels are scheduled to arrive here for winter layup during the next week.

Cleveland, Ohio - Herm Phillips
Alpena arrived at the Lafarge dock in Cleveland on Wednesday, January 9 for winter lay-up.


Grand Haven now owns 2 lighthouses: Formal transfer in a couple of months

1/12 - Grand Haven, Mich. – The city of Grand Haven officially is the legal owner of two lighthouses on the city's south pier leading out to Lake Michigan. City manager Pat McGinnis told WGHN the deed from the U.S. Coast Guard arrived last month.

The radio station reported Thursday that a formal deed transfer ceremony will take place during a dinner in a couple of months. A recent community-wide campaign raised $99,000 in 99 days, funding that was used by local volunteers to restore the exterior of the structures this past fall. The Coast Guard also made some recent channel wall improvements near the entrance light as part of the ownership hand-off.

Associated Press


Updates -  January 12

Lay-up list updated


Today in Great Lakes History -  January 12

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1970: BARON BERWICK made one trip inland in 1959 and returned as b) FILTRIC in 1967. The latter was abandoned 5 miles south of Cape Finistere on the northwest coast of Spain after the cargo shifted. The vessel was enroute from Copenhagen, Denmark, to Alexandria, Egypt, and it drifted aground the next day as a total loss.

1971: The West German freighter BRANDENBURG sank in the Straits of Dover, 7 miles south of Folkestone, England, after apparently hitting the wreck of TEXACO CARIBBEAN which had gone down the previous day following a collision. The former had been through the Seaway in 1969.

1979: A propane explosion aboard the tug WESTERN ENGINEER at Thunder Bay resulted in extensive damage. Two were injured. The ship was never repaired and noted as broken up in 1980.

1985: ATLANTIC HOPE first came inland when it was fresh from the shipyard in 1965. It was gutted by a fire in the accommodation area in position 9.22 N / 60.37 W as b) ALIVERI HOPE. The ship was abandoned but towed to Barbados and eventually into Mamonal, Colombia, on October 14, 1985, for dismantling.

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


Port Reports -  January 11

Marquette, Mich. - Rod Burdick
Lee A. Tregurtha, Arthur M. Anderson and Manitowoc arrived at the Upper Harbor Thursday afternoon. Tregurtha and Anderson loaded ore while Manitowoc went to anchor.

Grand Haven, Mich. - Dick Fox
After a series of reschedules, Wilfred Sykes came in with the last load of the 2012/2013 season. The load was delivered to the D & M Dock just upriver from the power plant on Harbor Island in Grand Haven. She sounded a farewell salute as she departed at 10 a.m.

Toronto, Ont. - Gerry O.
Stephen B. Roman departed for Picton Tuesday evening.


Updates -  January 11

Lay-up list 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, 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."

1919: The laker CASTALIA left the lakes in two pieces and was rejoined at Lauzon, Quebec, for a new career on the Atlantic in 1918. The ship broke in two 65 miles off Sable Island, Nova Scotia, and the crew was rescued by the BERGENFJORD.

1962: The retired Interlake Steamship Company bulk carrier ARCTURUS was under tow of the tug PRIA GRANDE for scrapping in Europe when it sank in the Atlantic in position 46.10 N / 8.50 W.

1965: CELIA B. made 15 trips through the Seaway in 1959-1962 under Liberian registry. The vessel arrived at Willemstad, Netherlands Antilles, as f) SEA MAID with engine damage and having lost its propeller. The ship was ultimately deemed not worth repairing and arrived at Rotterdam, Netherlands, under tow for scrapping on June 22, 1966.

1974: The first FEDERAL HUDSON to visit the Great Lakes was sailing as d) GOLDEN KING when it struck the wreck of the THETIS off Chittagong, Bangladesh, while inbound from Singapore Roads. It was beached in sinking condition and sustained water damage at high tide. The vessel was refloated on February 13, 1974, and taken to Chittagong to unload and get repaired. It was scrapped at Kaohsiung, Taiwan, as d) CHAR HSIUNG in 1980.

1981: ARNA began Seaway trading in 1965. It stranded off Shimonoseki, Japan, as b) IQBALBAKSH and was declared a total loss. The vessel was sold to South Korean shipbreakers and arrived at Busan, under tow on August 2, 1981.

1993: EUROJOY was anchored off Cadiz, Spain, when a spontaneous combustion fire broke out in the cargo of coal that had been bound for Turkey. The ship was listed as a total loss and sold for scrap but was repaired. It sailed additional years until scrapping at Alang, India, as g) LENA II in 1998. It first visited the Seaway as a) ATLANTIC CHALLENGE in 1971 and returned as b) ANGEBALTIC in 1981, c) ASTURIAS in 1986 and e) EUROJOY in 1990.

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


Coal shipments keep falling

1/10 - Coal shipments from Ashtabula continued their decline in November, reflecting a trend at Lake Erie ports that service Ontario, Canada, power plants.

According to the Lake Carriers’ Association, coal shipments from Ashtabula were 135,702 net tons in November, or 38 percent of the tonnage shipped a year ago. Overall for January through November, Ashtabula shipped 1,569,187 net tons, compared to 2,744,583 for the same 11 months last year.

In 2008, Ashtabula shipped 4.2 million tons of coal during the entire year, according to association data. That earned the port the reputation of being the busiest of the five Lake Erie ports that ship coal and are tracked by the association. Toledo, the next closest, loaded 2.9 million tons in 2008.

Ashtabula has been losing ground since then. Sandusky, with 2.7 million tons loaded thus far this year, leads the pack in 2012. The reason for Ashtabula’s decline is a combination of its specialized market and a phase-out of coal-fired power-generating plants across the lake in Ontario.

“Ashtabula is mostly utility coal,” said Kristopher Sandlin, system manager of coal transportation for Norfolk-Southern, which owns the Ashtabula coal dock.

Ontario began phasing out coal-fired generation in 2003 as a way to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. The plan is to completely eliminate all coal-fired generation in the province by 2014.

Sandlin said there is not a lot of other business that can be picked up to replace the utility coal shipments to Canada. He said it is “hard to tell” if the tonnage leaving Ashtabula has leveled off.

“The coal market is going up and down,” he said.

Both Ashtabula and Conneaut have long been associated with coal shipments to Canada. Both ports once had car ferry operations that transported rail cars full of coal across the lake — Ashtabula to Port Burwell and Conneaut to Port Dover. The Conneaut carferry business dried up in the early years of the Great Depression; Ashtabula’s hung on until 1958, when the carferry Ashtabula sank. Freighters have continued carried coal across the lake to power plants long after the relatively inefficient carferries ended their runs.

Conneaut last shipped coal in 2008, when more than 1 million tons were loaded through the port. The Lake Carriers Association reports no shipments from Conneaut from 2009 to 2012. Buffalo has not shipped coal since 2009. Other coal shipping ports on Lake Erie are Toledo and Sandusky.

Toledo’s coal business suffered when Conrail was broken up and CSX was thereby given access to a coal dock at Ashtabula in 1999. Previously, Toledo had the only Great Lakes coal dock on the CSX transportation line. Shipping coal from Toledo to southern Ontario power plants was less efficient than shipping from ports at Ashtabula or Conneaut.

According to the Norfolk Southern website, the Ashtabula coal pier handles bituminous coals from Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. The coal is destined for generating utilities and cement producers in Canada and the Great Lakes basin.

Shipments of coal at all Great Lakes ports totaled 2.9 million tons in November, which was an increase compared to October. Loadings at Lake Superior ports carried the increase, however. At Lake Erie terminals, shipments decreased by 24.5 percent in November, according to data from the association.

In addition, the Lake Carriers Association reported that shipments from Lake Superior ports - 15.1 million tons - were just about even with 2011. Included in that total were 1.3 million tons shipped to Quebec City for loading into oceangoing vessels and delivery overseas.

Loadings at Chicago terminals totaled 3.2 million tons, a decrease of 14.5 percent from 2011, but a slight increase over their 5-year average. Shipments from Lake Erie ports totaled 7 million tons, a decrease of nearly 19 percent compared to 2011.

The impacts of falling water levels and lack of adequate dredging were clearly evident as the year came to a close. The largest coal cargo shipped through the locks at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, in December totaled 62,043 tons. The largest coal cargo passing through the locks during 2012 was 64,706 tons. When near record-high water levels offset the lack of dredging in the late 1990s, a U.S.-flag laker was able to carry nearly 71,000 tons in a single trip.

According to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers estimates, more than 17 million cubic yards of sediment must be removed from Great Lakes ports and waterways before vessels will be able to carry full loads.

Star Beacon, Lake Carriers Association


Port Reports -  January 10

Twin Ports - Al Miller
Seven vessels will lay up for the winter in the Twin Ports over the next several days. American Steamship Co. is expected to dock American Century at the Duluth port terminal, Indiana Harbor at the Enbridge Dock (formerly Lakehead Pipeline dock) in Superior, American Spirit at the Elevator M dock in Superior, and John J. Boland in Fraser Shipyard in Superior. Interlake's Mesabi Miner is at the Duluth port terminal for a belt replacement. It will shortly move tot he Midwest Energy dock for the remainder of its layup. Great Lakes Fleet will have John G. Munson in drydock at Fraser Shipyards while Roger Blough will be docked in the shipyard along its recently replaced dock wall.

Toledo, Ohio - Jim Hoffman
Olive L. Moore and Lewis J. Kuber have fit out and re-entered service. She was in winter layup at the Midwest International Dock at Toledo. The pair departed early Wednesday evening. It is believed that she is taking over the cargo runs for the damaged Victory/James L. Kuber. It is unknown at this time if they will return back to Toledo for winter layup. Algosar has not been placed in drydock at Ironhead Shipyard for the time being. She still remains in layup at the Kraft Food Elevator Dock.


Worker injured after fall into John B. Aird’s hold

1/10 - Port Colborne, Ont. – A 54-year-old man was airlifted to a Hamilton hospital after falling into the hold of a ship Tuesday afternoon.

“It was reported he fell anywhere between 10 and 17 metres,” said Port Colborne Fire and Emergency Services Chief Tom Cartwright. Firefighters were called to the John B. Aird, an Algoma Central Corp. vessel, at about 1:30 p.m.

In an email Tuesday night, Niagara Regional Police spokesman Const. Derek Watson said the man's injuries were not considered life-threatening, though he's still undergoing tests and X-rays.

Cartwright said the vessel, tied up for winter repairs, is docked right across the Welland Canal from the fire hall, and that firefighters had visited John B. Aird earlier in the day.

“Our on-duty crew was in the process of inspecting the ships when the call came in.”

Each year, the fire service checks on ships that are docked for winter repairs and also conducts training exercises on board for just such emergencies. The fire service has responded to numerous medical calls and other emergencies on board vessels over the years.

Cartwright said the man injured Tuesday landed on the steel hull at the bottom of the ship, which had no load on board.

“Our technical rescue team went on board, down into the hold and provided medical care for him,” the chief said.

Capt. Joe Henry, a member of that rescue team, said firefighter Brandon Chevalier was lowered into the hold first and assessed the patient. Two other members were then sent down to help Chevalier get the patient ready for removal from the ship.

The man, a subcontractor installing a scaffold system in the hold, was put into a basket and a rope system was used to bring him to the deck of the ship. There he was further assessed by Niagara EMS paramedics Jon Brunarski and Mike Franklin.

“We had a second system set up with the aerial (ladder truck) to bring him off the ship. It was a pretty straightforward rescue … just a bit time consuming,” Henry said.

While firefighters were setting up the rope system to get the man from the ship, an ORNGE helicopter flew overhead and landed at the Mellanby Ave. fire hall. Air ambulance paramedics came over to the ship to assess the injured worker, then rode with Niagara paramedics back to the fire hall.

The man was transported to a Hamilton hospital. Earlier, Watson said Ministry of Labour investigators were called to the scene.

Watson did not have a name for the man, the company he was working for nor the seriousness of his injuries.

St. Catharines Standard


Lake Michigan’s low levels affecting shipping industry

1/10 - St. Joseph, Mich. - The commercial shipping industry is fighting to stay alive as Lake Michigan continues to drop to record lows. A local company had to spend tens of thousands of dollars of its own money to dredge a federally operated harbor.

Water levels in Lake Michigan are dropping so fast, the commercial shipping industry says it can’t keep up. At Lafarge in St. Joseph, Mich., high winds are shifting sand into the harbor to the point where cement has to be transported by trucks. That's proving to be costly.

"Every time there's a wind storm, we grit our teeth, fold our hands, and start praying,” said Larry LaValley, St. Joseph Harbor Master.

"With the lake being low right now, it's just one more thing hurting the boating industry,” said Rich Lenardson, of of Great Lakes Towing. Lenardson says he's seen a few more grounded boats this season, but he's hurting overall because fewer people are out on the water. "Same case down in Indiana, the whole lake is shallow. With the water being lower than normal, one good storm could blow the piers and the ports shut,” said Lenardson. That would leave companies like Lafarge waiting and hoping for government intervention.

"The way the situation is right now, the St. Joseph Harbor is completely useless,” said LaValley.

The Army Corps of Engineers hopes to dredge early this spring if Congress will provide the funding.

ABC 57 News


“Seaway Ships” volume released

1/10 - Rene Beauchamp has released another ebook, “54 Years of Seaway Salties.” Over 8,000 names of salties are listed. It is a complete list of all ocean-going freighters which have called at Great Lakes ports since 1959.

Click here to view


Updates -  January 10

Lay-up list updated


Today in Great Lakes History -  January 10

On this day in 1952, EDWARD B. GREENE was launched at the American Shipbuilding yard 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, Pennsylvania. 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.

1967: PRINDOC (iii) was laid up for the winter at Cardinal, Ontario, when it broke its moorings in a storm and drifted down the St. Lawrence. The shipkeeper was able to get the anchors down and they held just above the Iroquois power dam, averting a major problem.

1970: IOANNA stranded near Sete, France, in a gale while inbound from Barcelona,Spain and had to be sold for scrap. The ship had been a Seaway trader as a) A.J. FALKLAND in 1959 and returned as b) PETER in 1960 and 1961.

1971: CATTARO came through the Seaway in 1959 for the Ellerman's Wilson Line. It caught fire in the engine room at Galatz, Romania, as b) VRACHOS and had to be beached. It was subsequently broken up for scrap.

1977: The tanker CHESTER A. POLING broke in two and sank off the coast of Massachusetts in a storm after an explosion in the forward pump room. Two members of the crew were lost. The ship had been a Great Lakes trader as a) PLATTSBURG SOCONY and as b) MOBIL ALBANY.

1981: SOL RIVER came to the Great Lakes in 1968. It ran aground as f) LIZA near Combi, Lemnos Island, Greece. The hull broke in two and sank January 15. The ship was carrying phosphate enroute from Sfax, Tunisia, to Kavalla, Greece, when it went down on the Aegean Sea with the loss of 5 lives.

2001: The Cypriot freighter ARETHUSA first came through the Seaway in 1987. Fire broke out in the engine room and spread to the bridge and accommodation area while the ship was in the northern Great Belt. The vessel, enroute from Casablanca, Morocco, to Gdansk, Poland, with phosphate, was towed to Gydnia, Poland, after the blaze was extinguished. Repairs to the 28-year-old vessel were not worthwhile and it arrived at the scrapyard at Aliaga, Turkey, for dismantling on March 26, 2001.

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


Barge that went missing on Lake Superior last weekend unloaded Tuesday

1/9 - Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. - Tuesday afternoon the tug Victory departed Essar Steel mill in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., and met up with the barge James L. Kuber that has been anchored off Bay Mills Point, 3-4 miles above the Soo Locks since Sunday night.

Victory connected to the notch of the barge and moved back down to the steel mill to unload at the north slip, arriving about 6:30 p.m. After unloading, the pair shifted to the South Slip and will remain there overnight. It is unknown what types of repairs, if any, remain to be made. The barge will be inspected by the USCG and repairs conducted as necessary.


Port Reports -  January 9

Twin Ports – Al Miller
Mesabi Miner was expected to arrive late Tuesday or early Wednesday in the Twin Ports for winter layup. The vessel is expected to dock first at the Duluth port terminal to have a conveyor belt replaced and then proceed to its layup berth at Midwest Energy Terminal. A total of seven active vessels are expected to spend the winter in Superior and Duluth. Elsewhere Tuesday, Walter J. McCarthy Jr. arrived in Superior to load at BNSF ore dock.

Toronto, Ont. - Charlie Gibbons
Stephen B. Roman had a brief holiday layover. She arrived back in port Monday night with a cargo of cement from Picton, after having done a similar trip to Oswego earlier in the week.


Updates -  January 9

Lay-up list updated


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.

1974: MARDINA REEFER ran aground at the breakwall at Stephenville, Newfoundland, while inbound in stormy weather. The ship was scheduled to load pickled herring for Europe but became a total loss. Salvage efforts failed and the hull was pounded on the rocks and eventually split in two. The crew was rescued. The vessel had been through the Seaway in 1973.

1974: LUCIE SCHULTE had been a Pre-Seaway and Seaway visitor to the Great Lakes. It sank in bad weather as b) TEVEGA in the Bay of Biscay while enroute from Antwerp, Belgium, to Casablanca, Morocco, with a cargo of barley. Only one member of the crew survived.

1979: MARIGO M.F. had been a Seaway trader in 1973 and earlier as a) NEGO ANNE in 1971. The ship went aground off Alexandria, Egypt, and sustained hull and water damage. The bulk carrier was not worth repairing and sold to Brodospas of Split, Yugoslavia, for scrap. It arrived August 13, 1979, for dismantling.

1980: BILL CROSBIE was carrying steel when it got into trouble on the Atlantic on January 4, 1980. The vessel, a Seaway trader in 1974, was listing badly when it was brought into St. John's, Newfoundland, only to roll over and sink at the wharf on this date. The hull was towed out to sea, bottom up, on November 3, 1980, and scuttled 12 miles off shore.

1983: SANTONA stranded in the Red Sea off Sudan at North Jumna Shoal. The hull was refloated but sold for scrap. It arrived at Gadani Beach, Pakistan, on April 4, 1983, for dismantling. It was a busy Seaway trader and had made 36 trips to the Great Lakes from 1959 to 1967.

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


Port Reports -  January 8

Marquette, Mich. - Rod Burdick
Calumet and Kaye E. Barker loaded ore at the Upper Harbor on Monday. Calumet's visit was her first of the 2012-13 shipping season.

St. Marys River
Windy conditions at the Soo stopped or slowed most ships in the river system Monday, while the tug Victory remained at the dock for another overnight tie-up at Essar Steel. Plans are to rejoin with her barge, James L. Kuber, Tuesday morning, or when conditions calm down. The Kuber is at anchor in the upper river off Bay Mills Point, 3-4 miles above the Soo Locks. The Purvis tug Adenac III will stay with the barge overnight. The status of repairs to the Victory are unknown at this time. The tug and barge became separated in heavy weather on Lake Superior late last Friday night.

Toledo, Ohio - Jim Hoffman
Algosar arrived at the Kraft Foods Elevator Dock early Monday afternoon. She will be entering the small drydock at Ironhead Shipyard on Tuesday morning. Several more boats are scheduled to arrive at Toledo for winter layup during the next week and a half.

Sandusky, Ohio - Jim Spencer
Grand River Navigation's tug Defiance and barge Ashtabula sailed Monday night, having loaded at the NS coal dock. The tug and barge were posted for Nanticoke, Ont.


History: Hundreds of barrels dumped by weapons plant

1/8 - Duluth, Minn. – Between 1957 and 1962, an estimated 1,457 industrial steel drums were trucked from a Honeywell weapons plant in the Twin Cities to Duluth and secretly dumped off barges into Lake Superior. The dumped 55-gallon barrels formed a line from the eastern Duluth city limits nearly to Two Harbors, from a mile to five miles off shore.

What was in the barrels? Theories developed over the years, ranging from radioactive nuclear waste to a purple, toxic ooze to live explosives.

Since 1977, when the existence of the barrels was first confirmed by the military, several attempts were made to retrieve them and check their contents. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency spent more than $400,000 looking for and examining the barrels between 1990 and 1994.

A 1990 search recovered two barrels that contained grenade parts, concrete and even a Honeywell coffee cup — but nothing highly toxic or dangerous.

A 1993 PCA search using high-tech sonar and video equipment mapped hundreds of the barrels, along with crates of unused ammunition and even junked vehicles and other big chunks of trash in the area a few miles off the Duluth ship canal.

The most recent and elaborate search occurred in 1994 when a U.S. Navy deep-water robotic submarine was used. That effort recovered seven more barrels containing scrap parts from hand grenades or cluster bombs and other military ordnance, along with garbage, ash and concrete.

Tests of the barrel contents also revealed trace amounts of 15 toxic chemicals — including PCBs, barium, lead, cadmium and benzene — in levels above drinking water standards but which PCA officials said were too low to be considered an environmental or human health threat or even hazardous waste.

None of the chemicals was ever found in unusual levels in the nearby Duluth water supply intake. And PCB levels in lake trout have actually declined in recent years.

In November 1994, News Tribune stories cited Nuclear Regulatory Commission and PCA documents that raised questions about the possible mingling of Honeywell and 3M radioactive waste in some of the barrels that ended up in Lake Superior. Both companies handled radioactive materials at the same time at the same munitions plant. And some low-level radioactive waste from the plant was illegally buried near Kerrick in Pine County at the same time.

Underwater testing devices used by the EPA in 1995, however, showed no sign of elevated radioactivity around the underwater barrels, and no evidence had turned up in any of the barrels recovered up to that point.

PCA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials eventually concluded that there was no need to search for or test more barrels, and that leaving the remaining barrels rusting under 200 feet of water posed no major health or environmental risk. Pollution officials have said their limited staff and money would be better spent on more pressing Great Lakes issues, such as invasive species, mercury contamination and polluted runoff and erosion runoff.

Still, the barrels issue has lingered, especially among some parts of the Twin Ports environmental community who allege the military is covering up the existence of dangerous barrel contents and shirking its duty to remove them from the lake. Some groups have called for more sampling from more piles of barrels, saying testing just nine or even 79 of 1,457 barrels isn’t enough to declare the entire number harmless.

Duluth News Tribune


Obituary: Robert "Bob" Fischer

1/8 - Robert "Bob" Fischer, 74, of Sturgeon Bay, Wis., passed away at home on Jan. 3, with his family at his side. He was born on Feb. 20, 1938, in Waukesha. Following high school, he served a tour of duty with the U. S. Coast Guard. He later graduated from the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee and went to work for General Motors in their finance department. He left G.M. in 1976, and went to work for Bay Shipbuilding in Sturgeon Bay as vice-president, secretary-treasurer. After 15 years, he left Bay Shipbuilding and went to work for the Manitowoc Company as the corporate manager of internal controls. He enjoyed traveling with his wife, golfing with friends, reading, collecting maritime memorabilia, and spending time with his family. A celebration of life will be held on Feb. 2, starting at 2 p.m. at the Jaycee Club House in Sturgeon Bay. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to the Door County Humane Society, the Amvets, or the Maritime Museum. The Forbes Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements (

Door County Advocate


Obituary: Gerry Folgmann

1/8 - Gerry Folgmann passed away from congestive heart failure on Friday, January 4 at St. Mary Mercy Hospital in Livonia. Born in Detroit on July 27, 1927, he was 85 years of age. Mr. Folgmann was a 1945 graduate of Cooley High School and served in the United States Navy towards the end of World War II. A resident of Livonia, he was a licensed electrician with International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 58 for 55 years. After retiring he worked part time as an inspector for the City of Southfield, Mich. For many years he was a member of the Century Boat Club, and was often seen at the antique boat exhibit at the Detroit Boat Show. After joining the lodge, he volunteered to work the Dossin Great Lakes Museum exhibit at the Boat Show, refurbished some early electrical motors for the museum, and did electrical work for some of the museum’s webcam features. As a skilled electrician, he was instrumental in restoring the electrical systems on the mailboat J.W. Westcott II during refurbishment following its tragic sinking in 2001. He also shared his talents aboard other vessels in the Detroit area, including the Bob-Lo steamer Columbia, and the M/V Friendship. He is survived by his wife of 64 years, Joyce, as well as five children and two grandchildren. Funeral services were held on January 7 at the L.J. Griffin Funeral Home in Westland, Mich.

ISMA Lodge 7


Updates -  January 8

Weekly Website Updates
Lay-up list updated


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 East Saginaw.

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

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

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

1996: The research ship CALYPSO, a converted wooden minesweeper, served noted deep-sea diver Jacques Cousteau for many years. It came to the Great Lakes in 1980 and explored several wrecks including the EDMUND FITZGERALD and GUNILDA. It sank at Singapore following a collision on this date. The hull was refloated but never repaired. Subsequently, there were disputes over ownership, with a later report saying the vessel would be displayed at the Bahamas as a tourist attraction.

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


Port Reports -  January 7

St. Marys River
The tug Victory was south of Ile Parisienne Sunday night, with the tug Anglian Lady towing her barge James L. Kuber, headed for Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. The Purvis tugs Adanac III and W.I. Scott Purvis appeared on AIS to be headed for a rendezvous with the tow. Kaministiqua, which had shadowed the tow at reduced speed for most of Sunday, had resumed her full speed and drawn ahead, headed for Windsor. Victory/Kuber became separated in heavy weather late last Friday night, possibly due to a failure of their connection system.

Toledo, Ohio - Denny Dushane
Philip R. Clarke was due arrive at the Torco Dock to unload a cargo of iron ore pellets late on Sunday evening. Following the Clarke, the next vessel due is the Great Lakes Trader for a late evening arrival at Torco on Monday. Calumet is due on Tuesday in the evening, followed by Kaye E. Barker on Thursday in the early morning. Rounding out the Torco lineup is a return visit January 12 by Great Lakes Trader. Vessels in lay-up in Toledo include the Phoenix Star at the Ironhead Shipyard, tug Sea Eagle II and the barge St. Marys Cement II at the St. Marys Cement, Adam E. Cornelius at the Old Interlake Iron Company Dock, tug Olive L. Moore and barge Lewis J. Kuber at the Midwest International Overseas Dock, American Valor and American Fortitude at the Lakefront docks and Manistee at the Torco Dock Slip #2.

Sandusky, Ohio - Jim Spencer
CSL Niagara sailed Sunday evening for Nanticoke, carrying coal. She had arrived 24 hours earlier from the Canadian Lake Erie port east of Long Point. As the Niagara was pulling away from the pierhead light, the Lower Lakes tug-barge Defiance and Ashtabula were entering the harbor, bound for the NS coal dock.

Lake Erie - Jim Spencer
The late season push to deliver as much iron ore as possible to the dock in Cleveland created a bit of a traffic jamb Sunday evening. The Lee A Tregurtha, downbound with a Silver Bay cargo of taconite, was forced to anchor east of Kelly's Island. Two other vessels - American Courage and St. Clair - were unloading at the lakefront ore dock, a fact which delayed the scheduled arrival of the Tregurtha until Monday. The end-of-season push may also create problems at the ore loading docks in Duluth-Superior, Two Harbors or Silver Bay with at lease 11 vessels hurrying north on Lakes Michigan and Huron in search of the final load for the 2012 season, or into lay-up at the Lake Superior ports before the January 15 closing of the Soo Locks.

Oswego, N.Y. - Ned Goebricher
Stephen B. Roman arrived Sunday with cement.


Analysis: Saginaw River 2012 shipping season wrap-up

1/7 - Saginaw, Mich. – Once again, I began the 2012 shipping season with high hopes for a rebound from the declining number of vessel passages and cargos that have been recorded over the past five years. It was my feeling that this season would be the year to reverse that downward trend. Sadly, this was not the case, as the numbers show. This is a look back at what happened along the banks of the Saginaw River during this past season.

The 2012 shipping season officially started on April 2nd, with the arrival of the tug Samuel De Champlain and her cement barge, Innovation, which arrived to unload their cargo at the Lafarge Cement Terminal in Carrollton. This was 10 days earlier than their visit to open the 2011 season. The 2012 season came to a close when the tug Olive L. Moore and her barge, Lewis J. Kuber, departed the Wirt Stone Dock in Saginaw on December 14th. For the year, there were a total of 134 commercial vessel passages, by 22 different vessels, for a season lasting 258 days. These numbers are once again a decrease, though not by many, over the previous season. During the 2011 season, there were four more vessel passages, from four more boats, and the season was four days shorter.

Looking at some of the other statistics from the 2012 season, 16 different docks along the Saginaw River saw cargo deliveries. This has now been the same for past three years. The dock that saw the most traffic was the Wirt Stone Dock in Bay City, seeing 24 deliveries, up 10 from 2011. Coming in second was the Bay Aggregates Dock in Bay City, with 23 cargo deliveries, which is down six from last years total of 29. The third place dock was the Consumers Energy dock in Essexville, with 15 deliveries. These three docks accounted for 39 percent of the cargo delivered to the Saginaw River in 2012. The top three in 2011 were Bay Aggregates, Lafarge Stone in Saginaw, and Wirt Stone in Bay City. In all, accounting for split cargos for some vessels that unloaded at two different docks, there were 161 deliveries to the various docks along the Saginaw River.

The workhorse of the Saginaw River, without question, had to be the tug Olive L. Moore, paired with the self-unloading barge Lewis J. Kuber. This pair made 50 trips to the river, two fewer trips than they made in 2011, and 37 more than the next highest visitor, the Algorail, which had 13. Third place went to the Manitowoc, who logged 10 passages. The American Century and Stephen B. Roman were next, tied with 8 passages each. This is the sixth year in a row that the Olive L. Moore Lewis J. Kuber have had the most passages.

There was no contest for the most represented fleet for 2012. Lower Lakes Towing/Grand River Navigation blew the other fleets out of the water, logging 71 vessel passages. This was the sixth year in a row for LLT/GRN in the #1 position. Even though they had four fewer deliveries than in 2011 they still accounted for 53 percent of the vessel passages on the Saginaw River in 2012. The next busiest fleet was Algoma Central Marine with 13 passages, and then in third was the American Steamship Company with 17. These three companies accounted for 79 percent of all deliveries on the Saginaw River in 2012.

There were a number of vessels seen on the Saginaw River in 2011, but not making a visit here in 2012. These boats were Alpena, Michipicoten, Saginaw, tug Invincible-barge McKee Sons, tug Undaunted-barge Pere Marquette 41, tug Cleveland-barge Cleveland Rocks, and the James Norris. Sadly, we will never see again the Norris, as she was scrapped at IMS in Port Colborne, Ont. The last visit by the Norris was November 14, 2011. Vessels that we did not see in 2011, but made calls on the Saginaw River in 2012 were American Integrity, American Mariner, H. Lee White, Walter J. McCarthy, Jr., and the tug G.L. Ostrander-barge Integrity. A number of tugs – Kurt Luedtke, Karl Luedtke, Krista S, Manitou, Nickelena, Ohio, Colonel and Gregory J. Busch – were active on the Saginaw River, and the research vessels Channel Cat, Mudpuppy II, and Chinook were also seen. The USCG Cutter Hollyhock also made her traditional spring and fall visits to work aids to navigation in the Saginaw River Entrance Channel.

Of the other stories of 2012, one of the biggest would be the long-awaited arrival of the retired Navy Destroyer USS Edson, DD-946, on August 7th. Under tow of the big Dann Marine tug Colonel, and Malcolm Marine tug Manitou, the “Grey Ghost of the Vietnam Coast” arrived to much fanfare and celebration. Edson is currently tied up at the Wirt Sand and Stone dock in Essexville awaiting the move to her permanent dock just below the Independence Bridge in Bangor Township. Dredging of the Saginaw River took place again in 2012 with Luedtke Engineering working the upper river, from the Sixth Street turning basin in Saginaw, down to the Cheboyganing Creek, during the late fall. The SCS Greyfox made her usual appearance in July, giving tours and cruises during the week of the Fourth of July.

Hopefully 2013 will bring increased traffic and more product to the docks along the banks of the Saginaw River. In 2005 there were 347 passages. This number has decreased every year since, down to the 2012 total of 134. Will this year be the rebound year? Time will tell.

The information contained in the report is as accurate and error free as possible.

Todd Shorkey


HMCS Athabaskan damaged after tow

1/7 - The Royal Canadian Navy has acknowledged that HMCS Athabaskan was damaged during its voyage from Ontario to Nova Scotia last week, though officials would not say how or when it happened or discuss the extent of the damage.

The Iroquois-class destroyer, which is currently berthed in North Sydney, broke loose from its tow line last week and went adrift near Scatarie Island off the northeast coast of Cape Breton.

"At this time, we acknowledge that there appears to be some damage," said Cmdr. Matthew Coates. "We've seen the pictures. We have a team from Maritime Forces Atlantic, some experts, who have gone to Sydney to do an assessment of that perceived damage.

"The objective at this point is to assess the damage, determine when the ship will be safe to return to Halifax, and obviously that is contingent upon that assessment as well as weather conditions."

HMCS Athabaskan was in Welland, Ont., for a $21-million refit and was on its way to Halifax for the winter when it went adrift for several hours on Friday night.

The tow line to the 130-metre vessel was reconnected early Saturday morning with the help of a Cormorant helicopter from the airbase in Greenwood, N.S.

There are at least at least seven holes in the hull of the Athabaskan along with several dents and scrapes. It also appears the ship's frame may be warped along the waterline.

Coates would not say whether the damage occurred as the Athabaskan was adrift and would only say it happened "between the time that the tug company took it under tow and the time it arrived in Sydney."

He told reporters on Thursday: "At this particular point, I don't think one can rule out when specifically it happened. On Friday and into Saturday morning the focus was reattaching the tow.

"We are comfortable that it did not occur in the [St. Lawrence] Seaway."

Capt. Doug Keirstead of the Royal Canadian Navy said HMCS Athabaskan was supposed to have undergone a routine refit by the end of November last year and was expected to be capable of sailing after that work was completed at Seaway Marine and Industrial Inc. in Welland, Ont. But Keirstead told The Canadian Press the ship couldn't return to Halifax without assistance due to maintenance delays and other problems.

"The reason why Athabaskan is not returning under her own power is because there have been delays in some of the required maintenance and further unforeseen maintenance required," he said.

Keirstead said the ship will remain in Sydney Harbour until the hull damage has been assessed and officers determine how to return it safely to Halifax to complete the refit and repair the latest damage.

Mac Mackay, who blogs about ships in Nova Scotia's harbours, said he wants to know why the Athabaskan was being towed during high winds. "You don't see very much being towed around this time of year," he told CBC News. "Most of the towing work gets done when the weather is much better.

"Will we ever know some of the other questions that have come of out recent navy incidents? The Preserver colliding with the drydock, the submarine running aground. We'll be told something, but we won't know everything, that's for sure."

Coates said the towing company made the decision on whether the weather was appropriate for towing.

"What actually happens is the towing company provides a voyage plan which is a fancy word to say, here's how they intend on conducting the tow. The navy reviewed that, had a look at it, and was in agreement with it," he said.

"It's not significant damage, but we need to allow the experts to do that assessment and their focus is to ensure that the ship is safe to return to Halifax."

CBC News


Updates -  January 7

Weekly Website Updates
News Photo Gallery
Lay-up list updated


Today in Great Lakes History -  January 7

07 January 1974 - 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 weighs 12,000 pounds and 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.

1924: The rail car ferry ONTARIO NO. 1 had a rough overnight crossing of Lake Ontario. The ship was diverted to Toronto with three feet of ice on the deck and anchored off Port Credit. With no seagate, it had to sail into the wind and could not make its docking at Cobourg as scheduled.

1943: ORNEFJELL came to the Great Lakes beginning in 1933 and returned as b) AKABAHRA after being sold in 1937. It was torpedoed and sunk on the Mediterranean in position 37.07 N / 4.38 E.

1977: BARFONN had visited the Seaway beginning in 1959 and returned as b) ORIENT EXPLORER in 1967 and as c) AEGEAN in 1971. It caught fire at Colombo, Sri Lanka, as d) TONG THAY and became a total loss. The vessel was taken to Singapore Roads, laid up, sold for scrap and arrived at Kaohsiung, Taiwan, for dismantling on March 24, 1978.

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


Tug/barge headed for Soo for repairs after connection breaks on Lake Superior

1/6 - After a near-escape from disaster early Saturday, the tug Victory and her barge, James L. Kuber, were headed for safe harbor at Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., on Sunday.

Late Friday night the Victory became separated from the 703-foot Kuber while transiting Lake Superior in the vicinity of Manitou Island in heavy weather off the tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula, possibly due to a failure of the its connection system.

At approximately 1:45 a.m. Saturday, Coast Guard Sector Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. received a mayday call from the tug Victory reporting that the Kuber had broken loose. The barge was carrying a load of iron ore and had 8,500 gallons of diesel fuel aboard.

The tug Victory had 15 crewmembers aboard and all were accounted for. At the time of the breakaway the weather and sea conditions were 31 degrees with 10-12 foot seas and winds of over 20 mph.

The Coast Guard directed the launch of a helicopter from Air Station Traverse City and diverted the Coast Guard Cutter Thunder Bay, a 140-foot ice breaking tug homeported in Rockland, Maine, temporarily assigned to the 9th Coast Guard District to assist with ice breaking.

While the Victory was waiting for the weather to subside before attempting to reestablish the tow, the tug lost sight of the barge. Meanwhile the Saginaw, which had departed Marquette Friday evening, arrived on scene and provided a lee to the tug Victory to minimize the effects of the weather on the tug. The two vessels then search for and located the adrift James L. Kuber. The Saginaw rafted the barge alongside and headed back south.

The Coast Guard aircrew arrived on scene at approximately 12:30 p.m. and reported no damage to the tug and no pollution and the cutter Thunder Bay was stood down.

The James L. Kuber’s owner, Grand River Navigation, arranged for tug Anglian Lady to assist the tug Victory. The Anglian Lady arrived on scene at approximately 1:30 p.m. about 45 nautical miles north of Marquette. The tug Victory does not have a towing winch and would make the towing the barge back to the Soo difficult. The Anglian Lady began towing the barge to Essar Steel in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario for repairs to the connection system.

Coast Guard marine inspectors will investigate the cause of the breakaway and will conduct an initial damage assessment with a comprehensive exam to follow.

The incident was likely the result of a failure in the Hydraconn connection system. Experts on the operation of articulated tug barge combinations report that disconnecting in in this type of weather is not something that would be done by choice.

The tug uses hydraulic pins with a toothed head that locks into a toothed rack on the barge. This system allows the tug to pitch independently of the barge but rolls with the barge. The connection system is good for up to 18-foot seas and is also used on the tugs Joseph H. Thompson, Dorothy Ann, Jane Ann IV, Joyce L. VanEnkevort, Olive L. Moore, Undaunted and Ken Boothe Sr.

The Kuber is the former powered vessel Reserve, which was converted to a barge in 2007.

Click here for pictures and video of the tug

U.S. Coast Guard, BoatNerd staff


Port Reports -  January 6

Marquette, Mich. - Rod Burdick
Philip R. Clarke and Saginaw loaded ore at the Upper Harbor on Friday.

Sandusky, Ohio – Jim Spencer
Manitowoc finally sailed Saturday night, having remained in port at the NS coal dock since early Thursday. Following in the wake of her Lower Lake fleetmate Calumet, Manitowoc is bound for the Soo. No reason has been given for the delay at the dock of either vessel. CSL Niagara is expected Sunday morning at the NS dock.


Obituary: Bill Ross

1/6 - William "Billy" Ross, 64, former Vice President of the Seafarer's International Union, Great Lakes and Inland Waters, passed away at home in St. Catharines, Ont., on December 30. He had previously worked out of S.I.U. halls in Thorold, Toronto and Thunder Bay. He was past President of the Hamilton Port Council and served on the Marine Advisory Board of Georgian College.


Updates -  January 6

Lay-up list updated


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.

1976: The former GLADYS BOWATER was sailing as c) AGINOR when it caught fire and had to be abandoned off southwest Sicily. The hull was towed to Palermo, Italy, with serious damage and then to Piraeus, Greece, where it was laid up unrepaired. But the ship was resold, rebuilt and returned to service as d) ALEXANDRA in 1977. It was scrapped at Gadani Beach, Pakistan, as e) LAMYAA in 1985.

1979: OTTO NUBEL first came to the Great Lakes in 1953 and returned regularly until the final four trips in 1959. The ship was sailing as b) MARIA III when there was an explosion in the engine room on January 6, 1979, near Tamomago Island, Spain. A fire followed and the vessel went aground where it was abandoned as a total loss.

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


All reported safe after incident on Lake Superior

1/4 - Lake Superior – Late Friday night the tug Victory became separated from the 703-foot barge James L. Kuber while transiting Lake Superior in heavy weather. The tug joined with its Lower Lakes Towing fleetmate Saginaw, which came out of Marquette, and recovered the barge.

The Saginaw stood by throughout the evening to ensure the safety of the Victory and crew. It now has the James L. Kuber safely rafted alongside preparing it to be towed by the Anglian Lady to the Soo for repairs to the connection system.

 All crewmembers are reported safe aboard the Victory, the barge does not have living spaces for crew. The Kuber is the former powered vessel Reserve, which was converted to a barge in 2007.

Saturday afternoon the tow got underway heading for the Soo.

Click here for a video of the search efforts from AIS. Visit for live data.


Port Reports -  January 5

Twin Ports - Al Miller
With the end of the season drawing near, vessel traffic in the Twin Ports is focused on iron ore pellets. Again on Friday, several vessels were waiting out on the lake off Duluth and Superior for their turns to load at Head of the Lakes ore docks. In port Friday morning, American Spirit was fueling at the Calumet dock and then waiting for the CN ore dock. Out on the lake, American Century was at anchor waiting for an opening at Two Harbors while two other vessels, Burns Harbor and Great Republic, were at anchor off Superior.

Saginaw River - Todd Shorkey
On Friday, the USCG cutter Hollyhock escorted the Alpena through the ice on the Saginaw Bay. Once at the front range, Hollyhock stopped at Consumers Energy, leaving Alpena to bust through the ice on the Saginaw River herself, as she made her way to the Essroc dock in Essexville. This was Alpena's first visit of 2013 for the Saginaw River. This was an unusual trip for the Alpena, as I haven't seen an ILM vessel unload on the Saginaw River anywhere other than Lafarge. In 2012, the G.L. Ostrander - Integrity also unloaded at Essroc.

Sandusky, Ohio – Jim Spencer
Lower Lakes' Calumet got underway Friday afternoon, having been at the NS coal dock since Wednesday evening. The loading process was apparently interrupted Thursday by the loading of the Rt. Hon. Paul J. Martin. Calumet sailed for the Soo. Still at the NS dock Friday night was the Lower Lakes fleet's Manitowoc, which entered the port Thursday.


Updates -  January 5

Lay-up list updated


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, 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.

1976: A.S. GLOSSBRENNER struck bottom entering Port McNicoll and had to be unloaded immediately due to the extensive hull damage. The ship was repaired at Port Weller Dry Docks in the spring. The vessel became b) ALGOGULF (ii) in 1987 and c) ALGOSTEEL (ii) in 1990.

1982: The Norwegian freighter NORHOLT first came through the Seaway in 1962 and made a total of 15 inland voyages. It was renamed b) SALVADOR in 1966 and returned once in 1967. The ship went aground as c) SAN JUAN off Shadwan Island enroute to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on this date. It was refloated January 22, 1982, towed to Suez Bay and laid up. Fire broke out on August 26, 1982, and the ship was abandoned and later beached. It was taken over by the Suez Canal Authority in 1983 and scrapped.

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


U.S. and Canadian coast guards commence Operation Coal Shovel

1/4 - Detroit, Mich. – The U.S. and Canadian Coast Guards have commenced Operation Coal Shovel, seasonal domestic ice breaking operations in the southern part of Lake Huron, Lake St. Clair, the St. Clair and Detroit River systems, Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, starting Thursday.

The U.S. and Canadian Coast Guard icebreakers work together to prevent ice jams in these vital economic waterways as conditions worsen throughout the winter.

Ice jams can create a disruption to the flow of maritime commerce, so the icebreakers work diligently to flush ice down the river to facilitate transportation of vital winter cargoes. U.S. and Canadian crewmembers coordinate, conduct and track maintenance, provide vessel assistance and conduct flushing operations to minimize the potential for residential flooding. The mission of Operation Coal Shovel is to quickly reopen the Great Lakes maritime transportation system for the movement of commercial vessels that may become beset in the ice.

Mild temperatures last winter precluded the need for icebreaking assets in the lower lakes and the Coast Guard did not conduct Operation Coal Shovel.

As the 2013 Operation Coal Shovel begins, Coast Guard Sector Detroit and the Canadian Coast Guard will continue to monitor and identify declining waterway conditions and potential hazardous ice conditions. Sector Detroit provides command and control for Operation Coal Shovel and may close or open the waterways as ice conditions dictate. Sector Detroit also considers the protection of the marine environment and waterways, aids to navigation, the need for cross channel traffic (e.g. ferries), the availability of icebreakers, and the safety of the island residents who use naturally formed ice bridges for transportation to and from the mainland when making closure decisions.

U.S. Coast Guard


Port Reports -  January 4

Sturgeon Bay, Wis. - Wendell Wilke
Michipicoten arrived off Sturgeon Bay Thursday (after coming down the Bay of Green Bay) at 6:45 a.m. Selvick tugs Jimmy L. and Susan L. assisted with ice flushing and assisted her to Berth 15, until the graving dock is prepared for her drydocking. She is not slated for layup here and is said to tentatively depart after drydocking for layup elsewhere.

Sandusky, Ohio - Jim Spencer
The Rt. Hon. Paul J. Martin loaded Thursday at the NS coal dock and sailed during the early evening for Duluth. She was quickly replaced under the loading chute by the Manitowoc, which is presently posted for Marquette. Both vessels are likely trying to squeeze in one more load of iron range ore before the locks at the Soo close for the season in mid-January. Remaining at the coal dock late Thursday was the Calumet. It was not clear as to why the Lower Lakes fleet boat remained in port. She had loaded overnight Wednesday-Thursday.


Lakes Huron, Michigan fall to record low

1/4 - After flirting with historic low levels through 2012, Lakes Michigan and Huron closed the year with the lowest December levels on record, preliminary figures show. The lake system finished December with a mean of 576.15 feet above sea level for the month. That's just beneath the all-time low mean of 576.2 feet for the month set in 1964.

The record highlights one of the worst years in recent memory for levels on the Great Lakes. While Michigan and Huron reached record low levels, other lakes flirted with all-time lows after a winter and spring that produced far less rain and snow than normal.

Preliminary results for December, compiled by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, included:

Lake Superior finished the month with a mean of 600.59 feet. The all-time low, set in 1925, was 600.1 feet. Lake St. Clair finished the month with a mean of 572.63 feet. The all-time low, set in 1964, was 571.1 feet. Lake Erie finished December with a mean of 570.27 feet. Its all-time low was set in 1934 with 568.2 feet. Lake Ontario finished the month with a mean of 243.69 feet. Its all-time low came in 1934 at 241.9 feet.

The statistics aren't considered official until U.S. Army Corps of Engineers numbers are combined with data collected by Canadian officials. The final results will be released in late February at the earliest. The lakes did not get the spring seasonal rise that results when melted snow and rain run off into Lake Superior and make their way to the lower lakes.

Keith Kompoltowicz, the corps' chief of watershed hydrology, said Michigan and Huron rose only about 4 inches this year compared to a normal foot or so. The losses had a huge impact on the region ¬ from vastly expanded shorelines and beaches, to boats running aground in normally navigable waters, to shipping companies having to drastically reduce freighter cargo.

"We're losing about 10,000 tons of cargo on some ships each trip," said Glen Nekvasil, vice president of the Lake Carriers Association.

Around the lakes, harbor and marina operators have had to consider dredging their waterways to keep boats moving safely in and out. That includes work that could be done in St. Clair Shores' Blossom Heath Harbor.

"We have permit applications in with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality right now," said Greg Esler, director of the city's parks and recreation department. "We plan on doing some dredging in the springtime."

Detroit News


Plans in the works for Keewatin’s upcoming tourist season

1/4 - Port McNicoll, Ont. – The first tourist season for the historic Great Lakes steamer Keewatin at its new home in Canada was a success with big plans for the new year.

“It’s all been fantastic,” said Eric Conroy who coordinated the purchase and move of the 105-year-old, 350-foot ship from Douglas to Port McNicoll, Ontario, last summer. “We’ve had tremendous acceptance here. It is its home.”

The ship was open to the public Sept. 22 through Oct. 23 and had 5,100 paying visitors. Tours are $10 per person.

The ship was purchased in 2011 by Gil Blutrich, chairman and president of Skyline International Development Inc., a private Canadian investment and management company. It will be the center of a redeveloped waterfront park in Port McNicoll. The vessel will be transformed into a social center with a movie theater and museums of Georgian Bay maritime history.

The ship was built in 1907 in Scotland then brought to the Great Lakes where it carried cargo and passengers for the Canadian Pacific Railway. It was retired in 1965 and headed for the scrap yard. R.J. Peterson, owner of Tower Marina in Douglas, bought the Keewatin and had it towed to Douglas in 1967 where it was preserved as a museum.

It was pulled into Lake Michigan on June 4 and arrived in Port McNicoll on June 23, the 100th anniversary of the when the ship first arrived in the port and the 45th anniversary of the year Peterson had it towed to West Michigan.

People with links to the vessel have been bringing back items ¬ “all kinds of stuff,” said Conroy, such as documents, clocks and uniforms ¬ to be displayed in the ship. A baggage cart that was used on the train platform to transfer baggage from rails to the ship was donated as well as a collection of dinner settings, silver, flatware and other maritime artifacts.

Plans for this year include tours of the engine room. The pistons will rotate and the boilers will have realistic coal fires reproduced in them. “This will be a feature that is certainly something worth seeing,” Conroy said in his blog

Many of the visitors to the ship have been from Michigan and the Saugatuck-Douglas area, he said.

“We’re grateful for everybody, for their support,” he said of people from West Michigan who supported the move, stood in the rain to watch the ship pulled from the mud at the end of Union Street in Douglas and lined the piers as the ship was pulled into Lake Michigan.

And the offer made last summer still stands: People from the Saugatuck and Douglas area get tours of the ship for free. The ship is operated by the nonprofit Friends of Keewatin. The official name of the facility is the R.J. and Diane Peterson Great Lakes Foundation and Keewatin Museum.

The Holland Sentinel


Updates -  January 4

Lay-up list updated


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.

1966: FARO, a Liberty ship that had visited the Seaway in 1965, ran aground in heavy weather off Nojima, Japan, enroute from Muroran, Japan, to Keelung, Taiwan, in ballast. It had to be abandoned as a total loss. It was sold to Japanese shipbreakers in 1967 and broken up.

2012: FEDERAL MIRAMICHI was disabled by a mechanical problem during stormy weather on the English Channel, 12.8 miles northwest of Guernsey enroute from St. Petersburg, Russia, to Paranagua, Brazil, with 22,900 tons of urea. French authorities, fearing the ship could blow ashore, dispatched a tug and the vessel was towed into Cherbourg for repairs. It has been a frequent Seaway trader since 2006.

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


Port Reports -  January 3

Marquette, Mich. - Rod Burdick
Michipicoten and Herbert C. Jackson loaded ore at the Upper Harbor on New Year's Day. On Wednesday, James R. Barker unloaded the last coal cargo of the season into the Upper Harbor hopper and fleetmate Kaye E. Barker arrived for ore.

Midland, Ont. - Andre Blanchard
On Wednesday, CSL's Frontenac arrived in Midland assisted by ice breaking tug USCGC Mobile Bay. It is likely Frontenac will be wintering here.

Toledo, Ohio - Jim Hoffman
The tug Sea Eagle II and cement barge St. Marys Cement II arrived at the St. Marys Cement Dock by the Ironhead Shipyard for winter lay-up Wednesday. She was denied a downbound passage in the Welland Canal as she arrived several hours late after the canal closed down for the winter. She spent several days anchored near Nanticoke, Ontario, before arriving at Toledo for lay-up. There are several more vessels scheduled to arrive in Toledo for winter layup during the next 2 weeks.


Coast Guard Cutter Hollyhock to break ice in Saginaw Bay

1/3 - Detroit, Mich. - The Coast Guard is scheduled to start ice-breaking operations in the Saginaw Bay area starting Friday.

The Coast Guard is advising Saginaw area residents that they will be inbound the Saginaw Bay shipping channel to conduct ice breaking operations. The estimated time of arrival for the Hollyhock is between early afternoon and late evening Friday.

Any ice in this area should be considered unsafe and the Coast Guard advises everyone to stay clear.


St. Marys River channel closures announced

1/3 - Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. – The Coast Guard will close Pipe Island Passage, East of Pipe Island Shoal and North of Pipe Island Twins from Watson Reef Light to Sweets Point. The channel will close effective at noon on Saturday. The Pipe Island course will become a two-way route.

The Coast Guard would like to remind all recreational ice users to plan their activity carefully, use caution on the ice, and stay away from shipping channels.

U.S. Coast Guard


Holland weather buoy returning in 2013

1/3 - Holland, Mich. – Next summer’s boaters will again be able to get real-time data on Lake Michigan after a weather buoy that spent part of 2012 off the Holland shore received a grant to keep it afloat. Extra funds are still needed, though, to add other equipment that could record other information.

A $100,000 grant from the Great Lakes Observing System will fund a large part of the purchase, deployment, maintenance and retrieval of the buoy for the next three years, according to Ed Verhamme, project engineer of LimnoTech, an environmental engineering company in Ann Arbor.

The grant money comes through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Coastal Storms Program to better the prediction of rip currents and high wind and waves in West Michigan through the use of a real-time buoy, he said.

The buoy will be deployed in May three miles off Port Sheldon and stay in the water through November.

“As part of our discussion with the National Weather Service office in Grand Rapids about the best location for the weather buoy, we both agreed that the buoy should be placed between Grand Haven and Holland so that both communities could benefit by having a weather buoy close by,” Verhamme said.

The grant covers the minimum requirements of what the National Weather Service requires on a weather buoy — wind speed and direction, air temperature, relative humidity, pressure, wave height and period and surface water temperature, Verhamme said.

He would like to add sensors to measure water temperature all the way to the bottom or a webcam to provide a real-time image and video. Each option costs about $5,000.

Anyone interested in donating or helping with the fundraising can contact Verhamme at

The Holland Sentinel


Updates -  January 3

Lay-up list updated


Today in Great Lakes History -  January 3

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 (i).

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 cleared Thunder Bay, Ontario, for Hamilton with 24,085 tons of iron ore, closing that port for the season.

1945: While not a Great Lakes event, what is considered the deadliest marine disaster in world history occurred on this date. The little-remembered event claimed the German passenger liner WILHELM GUSTLOFF loaded with over 10,000 refugees and naval personnel fleeing Germany in the latter stages of World War Two. It was torpedoed by a Russian submarine on the Baltic Sea and a reported 9,343 lives were lost. Another 1,239 reached safety

1979: KOIKU MARU first visited the Seaway in 1967. It ran aground near Tartous, Syria, in stormy weather overnight and had to be abandoned as a total loss.

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


Port Reports -  January 2

Erie, Pa. – Kevin Fenton
Tecumseh, which left her dock at Sarnia Monday evening, docked at Erie, Pa., New Year’s Day. She will undergo unspecified topside work this winter at Donjon Marine.


Updates -  January 2

Lay-up list updated


Today in Great Lakes History -  January 2

While on the North Atlantic under tow for scrapping, 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-masted 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.

1967: The small Norwegian freighter RAAGAN dated from 1919 and had been a Pre-Seaway visitor to the Great Lakes as a) ERICH LINDOE, b) GRENLAND and c) HILDUR I. It sank in the North Sea about 60 miles north of the Dutch coast after developing leaks on a voyage from Egersund, Denmark, to Dordrecht, Netherlands, with a cargo of titanium. The crew was rescued.

1976: The XENY, which was towed into Cadiz Roads on January 1, capsized and sank on her side. The ship had caught fire on December 2 and was abandoned by the crew. It had first visited the Great Lakes as a) PRINS WILLEM II in 1955 and had been back as d) XENY in 1971.

1981: The heavy lift vessel MAMMOTH SCAN had heeled over while unloading at Abu Dhabi on October 15, 1980. The ship was righted and under tow when the towline parted off Algeria on December 28, 1980. The listing vessel was brought to Malaga Roads, Spain, on this date, healed over and sank as a total loss

1987: A fire in the cargo hold of REMADA at Barcelona, Spain, resulted in heavy damage and the ship had to be sold for scrap. It had made one trip through the Seaway in November 1973 as b) ONTARIO.

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


Welland Canal closes for season

1/1 - The Welland Canal closed for the season on Sunday with the upbound transit of the John B. Aird, heading to Port Colborne for winter lay-up. The last downbound transit was the Cuyahoga, clearing Port Weller about 11:30 p.m. Saturday night. The Soo Locks are scheduled to close on January 15.


Port Reports -  January 1

Marquette, Mich. - Rod Burdick
Manitowoc and Cason J. Callaway arrived and waited to load ore on New Year's Eve at the Upper Harbor.

Halifax. N.S. - Mac Mackay
Atlantic Superior arrived late in the evening of December 29, and berthed stern in at pier 25-26. Today crew could be seen setting out extra mooring lines and the ship has been de-ballasted so that her steering nozzle is about half out of water. These are all the signs for a lengthy layup. Meanwhile at the adjacent pier 27-28 Algoma Mariner arrived earlier in the day on December 29, and today could be seen loading grain. This may well be the first instance of a laker loading grain in Halifax. Western grain has been arriving by rail car for several weeks.


Great Lakes shipping vessels carry less cargo in 2012

1/1 - Port Huron, Mich. – If you spot a freighter passing by on the St. Clair River, chances are it will be sitting higher in the water than it did a decade ago. Some freighters are about 10,000 tons lighter in cargo than they were back then and, according to officials, declining coal demand and lower water levels will only lighten the loads further.

Officials said shipments over the Great Lakes from January to November 2012 are about 4 percent less than shipments at this same time last year. The biggest part of that decrease is the decrease in coal, said Glen Nekvasil, vice president for Lake Carriers Association. By November, coal shipments for 2012 were at 23 million tons about 25 percent lower than the five-year average.

Nekvasil said a decrease in the shipments of coal to Canada has contributed to the shrinking shipments. “Canada is phasing out the use of coal for power generation,” Nekvasil said.

Shipments of the other two main cargoes moved on the Great Lakes, iron ore and limestone, are similar to numbers from years past.

Nekvasil said that through November, the iron ore trade is at 55 million tons, which is up slightly from a year ago. Limestone shipments through November 2012 added up to about 26 million tons, Nekvasil said. The 26 million tons are about 1 percent lower than last year’s shipments through November.

“Limestone has been sluggish here for a couple years,” Nekvasil said, adding that a slow construction industry has contributed to the decrease in demand.

Despite lower water levels, Frank Frisk, maritime consultant for Vantage Point at the Great Lakes Maritime Center, said shipping traffic on the St. Clair River has been good.

“We were running neck and neck with levels last year,” he said. Frisk said record-breaking low water levels in Lake Michigan-Huron are affecting shipping throughout the Great Lakes.

Port Huron Times Herald


2012 power plant delivery totals

1/1 - The St. Clair of the American Steamship Company unloaded the final coal cargo of the 2012 shipping season on Dec. 30 at the St. Clair Power Plant. St. Clair's arrival ended a busy season that saw 158 visits by vessels to the facility.

Leading the way again with the most visits was the Paul R. Tregurtha with 36, and she also had 21 split loads for both St. Clair and Monroe. The 21 split loads by the Tregurtha was also the most split loads to Monroe in 2012 by a vessel.

Following the Tregurtha, the American Integrity was next with 26 visits and 10 split loads were to Monroe and 2 to Essexville. American Century was next with 24 visits and 5 split loads to Monroe and 8 to Essexville. The American Century's 8 visits to Essexville were the most visits for that dock and facility by a vessel during the 2012 season.

James R. Barker was next with 22 visits and 15 split loads to the Monroe Power Plant. The Walter J. McCarthy Jr. was next with 21 visits and 9 split loads to Monroe and 4 to Essexville. The McCarthy's 21 visits to the St. Clair Power Plant alone is up 16 visits from her 2011 season total of only five visits.

Following the McCarthy, the next vessel on the list was the Indiana Harbor, with 15 visits and 9 split loads for the Monroe Power Plant and 1 to Essexville.

Mesabi Miner had 13 visits to the St. Clair Power Plant with 9 split loads for St. Clair and Monroe, and the ASC self-unloader St. Clair had only one shipment of coal for the St. Clair Power Plant in 2012 and it was her first visit since the 2010 season. One vessel that did not deliver any coal cargoes to the St. Clair Power Plant was ASC's 1,000 footer American Spirit (she had one lone coal cargo there in April 2011).

A monthly total of visits by vessel to the St. Clair Power Plant during the 2012 season is: March – 4, April – 14, May – 16, June – 15, July – 16, August – 16, September – 20, October – 19, November – 22 and December – 16. The July total could have been higher had it not been for heavy rain and flooding in Duluth-Superior that caused damage and delays to the MERC Coal loading dock and facilities. For the Monroe Power Plant, 2012 monthly totals saw significant increases with many loads of coal shipment by vessels.

The monthly totals for Monroe: April – 4, May – 8, June – 6, July – 5, August – 10, September – 13, October – 14, November – 12 and December – 6. The October monthly total of 14 was the most split loads of coal cargoes that the Monroe Power Plant had ever seen in any month in its history.

For Essexville and the Consumers Energy Dock monthly coal shipments were: April – 1, May – 1, June – 2, July – 0, August – 2, September – 3, October – 3 and November with 3 shipments.

Denny Dushane


Updates -  January 1

Happy New Year to all, and thanks to everyone for your continued support of the BoatNerd Web site.

The Gatherings Page has been updated to show the annual Badger Gathering scheduled for June 1, 2013. The overnight aboard the Badger will be on Friday, May 31. Details will be posted on the Gatherings Page as soon as they are available.


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.

1943: HAMILDOC (i) went south during World War Two to assist in the bauxite trade. The N.M. Paterson & Sons bulk canaller sank in the Caribbean after a three-day gale. The vessel, enroute from Georgetown, British Guiana, to Trinidad, was at anchor when the hull broke in two. All on board were saved.

2000: WISTERIA was built at Imabari, Japan, in 1976 and came through the Seaway that year. It was taking water in #1 hold as c) AIS MAMAS while enroute from West Africa to India with a cargo of logs. The crew was removed but the ship was taken in tow and reached Capetown, South Africa, on January 5. It was subsequently sold for scrap and arrived at Alang, India, for dismantling on April 23, 2000 and was beached the next day.

Data from: Skip Gillham, Joe Barr, Dave Swayze, Russ Plumb, Father Dowling Collection, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series from the Marine Historical Society of Detroit.


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