Great Lakes & Seaway Shipping News Archive

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Twin Trillium class bulkers launched at shipyard

1/31 - On January 25, CSL’s two newbuild Trillium class bulk carriers were successfully launched at Yangfan shipyard in Zhoushan, China. The 36,100-DWT, seaway size gearless bulkers are part of CSL’s ambitious fleet renewal program which oversaw the delivery of four new Trillium Class self-unloading lakers and three Panamax self-unloaders in 2012-2013.

The two new vessels are scheduled to enter the Canada Steamship Lines fleet later this year and will operate in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway system. New names have not been announced.

Featuring IMO Tier II-compliant main engines and the latest environmental and safety technologies, the state-of-the art new bulkers will be consistent with the high standards set by the Trillium Class of operational efficiency, reliability and environmental sustainability.



Port Reports -  January 31

Soo – Bonnie Barnes
The 360-foot-long barge PML Ironmaster remains stuck in the ice south of Six Mile Point, St. Marys River, in an area of ice the barge cannot navigate through. The barge, which is currently not in any danger and is waiting for a track to be made, could possibly be moved on Saturday, the Coast Guard said. They are unsure which boat will be used for ice breaking and its removal.

Straits of Mackinac - Robert Bemben
If there were an award for self-sufficiency of a cargo ship in extreme ice conditions, the Joyce L Van Enkevort would be a top contender. Thursday afternoon, for example, the Van Enkevort entered the St. Clair River at a speed of around 8 knots, and appears to be the only cargo ship moving there with an AIS destination of Cleveland. We will see how she does on frozen Lake Erie. Wednesday morning, the Van Enkevort appeared to transit the Straits of Mackinac eastbound largely on its own, with the Manitowoc following, as the CG cutter Biscayne Bay broke out and escorted the Algowood eastbound. There must be something about the tug-barge combo that gives it an advantage, and not just its ability to back out of the notch and work as a tug-icebreaker. There was no freighter traffic on the Straits on Thursday, and the CG cutter Biscayne Bay has been moored in St. Ignace since Wednesday.


Coast Guard warning residents of upcoming ice-breaking activities in Ludington

1/31 - Ludington, Mich. – The Coast Guard is alerting residents, particularly ice fishermen and other recreational users of Pere Marquette Lake, of ice-breaking activities scheduled to begin Saturday morning and last one week. The nearest towns to Pere Marquette Lake are Ludington and Scottville, Mich.

The tug Spartan and barge Spartan II, assisted by the commercial icebreaking tug Manitou, are scheduled to transit through Pere Marquette Lake for cargo deliveries Feb. 1-8. The crew of Coast Guard Cutter Biscayne Bay will establish an initial track line for the Manitou. The commercial tug crew will then continue to break ice for the Spartan and Spartan II, and the Biscayne Bay will depart.

The tugs and barge will make two transits, stopping at Ludington’s Occidental Chemical Facility. All ice fishermen should remove their ice shanties and equipment from these areas.



Stranded ships on Great Lakes create icebreaking logjam

1/31 - Sarnia, Ont. – The list of frozen freighters in just the Lake St. Clair and Detroit River region stands at six.

Lara Barrett, the commanding officer on the Canadian Cost Guard's icebreaker Griffon, said the vessel's crew of 28 has been running day and night, from Windsor, Ont., to Quebec City.

"There's been lots of requests for icebreaker assistance from ourselves and the American Coast Guard," Barrett said. "There's been some vessels stuck in the ice. They're unable to move any longer."

Barrett said the icebreaker has been working all month. The hardest-hit region has been the western basin of Lake Erie, where ice is jamming up.

The Griffon has been breaking ice in front of ships and escorting them out of the lakes, up toward the St. Lawrence River. Doug Ireland, captain of the cargo ship Algoway, and his crew were stuck in ice Toledo, Ohio, for nearly three days.

They were freed by a U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker Tuesday morning.

"This has been going on since December all the way down from the St. Lawrence," Ireland said late Tuesday from a dock in Windsor. "It’s as bad as I can ever remember. It’s not going to get much better the next day and a half, either."

The Great Lakes are under the largest cover of ice in 20 years. The last time the lakes had this much ice cover this early in the year was during the 1993-94 winter season. Lake Erie, while the southernmost lake, is also shallowest of the lakes. It is virtually locked in ice, with 95 per cent coverage.

Ireland got stuck twice between Toledo and Windsor. He needed coast guard assistance the first time and freed himself the second time.

"We backed up. We don’t like to do that too much. We’re putting the business end of the ship – the stern – back into the ice," Ireland said.

The thickness of the ice varies. "Brash ice" is a little slushier and approximately 35 centimetres deep. "It’s more like running into glue than running into a hard iceberg. It’s not a sudden stop, it’s gradual. It just gets slower and slower," Ireland said. "And we have 6,500 horsepower behind us.

"Windrows" of ice are solid and run about a metre deep. "It’s almost unmanageable when it gets like that," Ireland said.

Ireland said it takes a strong icebreaker and skilled crew to cut through ice a metre deep.

The Griffon spent Tuesday night docked at Dieppe Gardens in Windsor on the Detroit River. On Wednesday morning, the crew changed and sailed off to Sarnia, Ont. That's also where Ireland and his crew are headed after one last of salt, picked up in Windsor. It's the last run of the season for the Algoway.

Cargo shipments on the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway generate $34.6 billion in economic activity in Canada and the U.S. every year.

Meanwhile, residents of BobLo Island on the Detroit River, between Amherstburg, Ont., and Detroit, have no ferry service. An icebreaker freed the frozen BobLo Island Ferry on Monday night, but in temperatures that dipped below –22 C, the river has already iced over again. I will likely be another week before the ferry is free again.

The ferry company has been using airboats or fanboats to bring the private island's 70 residents to and from the mainland.

CBC News


Will all the snow help Lake Michigan's water level?

1/31 - Muskegon, Mich. – All the snow and ice in the Midwest will eventually melt and that is expected to bring the Great Lakes' water levels up. But where the storms come from and how they form could determine how high the water will rise.

At the Annis Water Resources Institute, scientists like Alan Steinman are already thinking about summer and water levels on Lake Michigan. "From a scientific perspective this is an important time of the year," said Steinman.

It's important because what happens in the next two months will impact water levels on Lake Michigan. Snowstorms caused by lake effect are not as beneficial as storms that suck moisture from sources other than Lake Michigan.

"One of the questions we have to ask is how much of that snow is from lake effect and how much is from outside the basin?" said Steinman. "The lake effect snow is a wash – that is from the lake and goes back into the lake. It could even be a net loss, some of it may move outside the basin. Storms from outside the basin, that is new precipitation."

This year there is plenty of ice covering the lake and that protects water from evaporation. So at this point in the winter, Steinman is leaning toward this prediction. "Going into the next summer we should have higher water levels than we had last year. If we can reach the long term mean, we are still a good 12 to 14 inches below the long term mean for Lake Michigan and Huron, so we have a ways to go."



Lookback #75 – Dundee January 31, 1917

1/31 - Dundee was part of the original fleet of Canada Steamship Lines. It had been built at Dundee, Scotland, in 1906 and the 259-foot-long package freighter crossed the Atlantic for Great Lakes service under the banner of R.O. and A.B. Mackay.

This was an era of corporate changes around the Great Lakes and this ship moved to the Inland Navigation Co. in 1908, became part of Inland Lines Ltd. in 1910 and then Canada Steamship Lines in 1913.

The vessel was requisitioned for war service in 1915 and departed North American waters for overseas service.

Dundee was attacked 97 years ago today while traveling in ballast from London to Swansea. The German submarine U-55 struck with a torpedo about 10 miles north and west of Ives Head, Cornwall, United Kingdom, and Dundee sank with the loss of one life.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  January 31

Lay-up list updated


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.


Port Reports -  January 30

Sturgeon Bay, Wis.
Arthur M. Anderson was finally laid up on berth 10, stern first next to American Mariner. It took most of the day Wednesday to maneuver the Anderson into the slip due to the very thick ice. Phillip R. Clarke is expected to arrive in the next week.


Ice cover on Great Lakes surges to 62 percent: What that means for Michigan's weather

1/30 - The Great Lakes have reached 62 percent ice coverage due to extreme cold, and in the weeks ahead that can have a triple-barreled consequence on Michigan's weather: More cold. Less lake-effect snow. More sun.

The coverage is growing rapidly. The ice area more than doubled in just one recent week, from 22 percent coverage on Jan. 15 to 48 percent by Jan. 22. From Jan. 22-Jan. 28 the average Great Lakes ice grew another 14 percent.

Lake Superior is 69 percent covered in ice. Lake Michigan has 46 percent ice cover, while Lake Huron is 71 percent ice covered. Lake Erie is almost totally covered with ice, at 96 percent. Lake Ontario has 26 percent ice cover.

George Leshkevich, physical scientist at NOAA's Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory, says the oddity this year is how early in the winter this amount of ice cover has formed. The 62 percent ice cover already ranks this year as 17th in maximum ice coverage in the last 40 years. 1994 had the highest ice cover at 94.8 percent.

Western Lake Superior is near freezing, and should ice over quickly. Eastern Lake Superior has water temperatures between 32 and 37 degrees. Lake Michigan and Lake Huron still have pockets of water with surface temperatures around 40 degrees. So it is not a coincidence that inland areas downwind of these warmer waters have continued to get pounded with lake effect snow. Some parts of western Michigan have had over 15 inches of lake effect snow in the last five days.

It looks like the Great Lakes will become mostly ice covered in the next few weeks. This will have a big impact on weather in Michigan. First off, the lake effect snow will abate for much of the winter. Late in the season when the ice melts, there can be some light lake effect snow.

The flip side of no lake effect clouds is more sunshine. You will probably notice more sunshine over the next month, especially on cold, dry days. Eventually in February that sunshine may even warm our skin as it shines through our car windows. I think we all will agree that will be nice.

But you may not like the last consequence of frozen Great Lakes. We won't have the warming effect from Lake Superior and Lake Michigan anymore. In the recent two arctic outbreaks, while Michigan had low temperatures of five to 10 below zero, just across the lake in Wisconsin it was 20 below zero. Our "warmth" was due to Lake Michigan's 40-degree waters.

When the ice forms, Lake Michigan won't help us anymore. So if we get a third arctic outbreak to move down into Michigan, we may plunge to our coldest temperatures of the winter. This will have to happen in the next three weeks. As we get into late February, the increased power of the sun usually helps warm Michigan up a few degrees.

M Live


Fraser Shipyard seeks state grant for upgrade

1/30 - Superior, Wis. - Fraser Shipyard is making plans for the third phase of its facility modernization plan, and the city of Superior is hoping to lend a hand.

The Superior City Council last week approved a resolution to apply for a grant through the Wisconsin Department of Transportations Harbor Assistance Program. The $2.9 million grant would cover 80 percent of the proposed $3.6 million project to extend the existing sheet-pile dock wall at Fraser, which would allow ships to more readily access the berthing area.

We have been asked on behalf of Fraser Shipyards to submit an application, said Jason Serck, planning, economic development and port director. Serck said the city should find out in March if the project is awarded grant funding.

If successful, it would be the second grant awarded by the state. Phase 1, which consisted of repairing 856 feet of dock wall, installing a newly coated pit and filling in an existing dry, received $4.7 million in state funding. The second phase of the project was awarded $2 million in federal funding through the offices of former U.S. Rep. Dave Obey and Sen. Herb Kohl.

The second phase should be completed shortly, Serck said.

The third phase is part of a $10 million, three-phase plan to expand the 123-year-old shipyard. “We have to update in order to accommodate,” said Tom Curelli of Fraser Shipyard. Curelli said the shipyard was originally built to handle much smaller vessels than today’s 700- to 800-foot average ship, and the project is needed to ensure the shipyards viability into the future.

With 10 vessels in the port this year, Curelli said the berthing area for those ships is virtually exhausted. He said Phase Three will help establish 2,000 linear feet of dockage. “If we squeeze it just right, we can get three vessels in there,” Curelli said.

“Each vessel in there can be up to 15,000 to 20,000 man-hours of work, and we use this to sustain us,” Curelli said. “It’s a lot of hours of employment and a lot of revenue comes in. The yard’s been there for 123 years. We want it to stay there another 123 years.”

Duluth News Tribune


Fisheries management topic of next Maritime Speaker Series program

1/30 - Sturgeon Bay, Wis. – The Door County Maritime Museum’s Maritime Speaker Series continues Thursday evening, Feb. 6, with a presentation by Mark Holey, Project Leader for the United States Fish and Wildlife Service office in Green Bay.

The Department of the Interior is the principle conservation agency of the United States government and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office delivers the federal fisheries in the Great Lakes, said Holey, who has held his position at the Fish and Wildlife Service office in Green Bay for the past 21 years.

Topics of Holey’s presentation include the effort to restore lake trout, lake sturgeon, deep-water ciscoes and implementation of mass marking of trout and salmon in Lake Michigan and Great Lakes. Specific restoration tools include sea lamprey control, propagating hatchery fish for stocking, fish passage over dams and fisheries management, said Holey, a former station supervisor of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Sturgeon Bay Field Office. He also spent five years as a fish biologist in Milwaukee.

All programs begin at 7 p.m. in the Reddin Bridge Room at the Sturgeon Bay museum and are free and open to the public. visit for more information.


Loockback #74 – Carlo stranded at North Gare Breakwater on January 30, 1901

1/30 - Carlo, a Norwegian freighter, was one of the early steel-hulled vessels to visit the Great Lakes from overseas. The 242-foot long by 32-foot, 2-inch wide ship had been built at Newcastle, England, in 1879.

It had sailed as Hugh Sleigh, under British registry, until sold to Blom & Ohlsen of Norway in 1898. Renamed Carlo, it operated on saltwater routes until coming to the Great Lakes in 1900.

While inland, the ship loaded iron ore at Two Harbors for the Hamilton Steel & Iron Co. of Hamilton, Ontario, and there is also a photo of the ship at Conneaut, Ohio. It may have been at the latter location for a cargo of coal.

The 22-year old Carlo became a total loss 113 years ago today. The vessel stranded on the North Gare breakwater while inbound for Middlesborough, England, with a cargo of iron ore that had been loaded at Bilbao, Spain.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  January 30

Lay-up list updated


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.


Port Reports -  January 29

St. Marys River - Bonnie Barnes
The 360-foot barge PML Ironmaster remains in the ice south of Six Mile Point. The area has experienced extreme cold weather, and the barge cannot travel through the thickening ice. The tugs Anglian Lady and Wilfred M. Cohen were forced to leave the barge in place Monday. The USCG Mackinaw is expected to help with ice breaking to allow the barge to be pulled back to Sault, Ontario, probably the end of this week. They left the Soo on December 30 with a barge-load of steel coils, making it over a 28-day round trip to Detroit and back.

Straits of Mackinac - Robert Bemben
On Monday, the USCG cutter Biscayne Bay escorted the Arthur M. Anderson (destination Sturgeon Bay) approximately 50 nautical miles from a point east of Round Island Passage to navigable ice waters just southwest of Lansing Shoal. It then overnighted near the eastbound Manitowoc, beset in the ice field. Biscayne Bay was expected to escort the Manitowoc to Round Island Passage Tuesday morning. Tuesday night, Manitowoc, Algowood and Joyce L. VanEnkevort were all in the Straits area west of the bridge.

Sturgeon Bay, Wis. - Mitch Custer
Arthur M. Anderson came down the shipping canal and into the ship yard at Bay Shipbuilding on Tuesday. It will be sitting out in the ice Tuesday night and be moved into its place in the morning when the tugs Jimmy L. and Mary Page Selvick will come out and break up the ice and help the Anderson into place.

Owen Sound, Ont. - Denny Dushane
Algomarine arrived for winter layup on Jan. 28.


Muskegon has port development on the table for 2014

1/29 - Muskegon, Mich. – The coming months will determine whether 2014 will be looked upon as the year of the Port of Muskegon. The biggest head-turner concerning Port of Muskegon development last year was the Michigan Agri-Business Association’s interest in pursuing a river barge operation on Muskegon Lake.

The expressed interest is to ship Michigan-based farm products such as grains out of Muskegon, through Chicago and into the Mississippi river system for export on the Gulf Coast. A meeting in Muskegon in December brought together more than 70 interested parties from across the state and around the Lake Michigan basin.

Garner said that the regulatory approval to allow river barges on to Lake Michigan as far north as Muskegon is pending before the U.S. Coast Guard. Federal authorities have opened a “docket” for the Muskegon request to allow river barge traffic here as has been allowed in Milwaukee for two decades. The Coast Guard public comment period of two or three months has yet to begin, Garner said. River barge proponents were hoping for a late spring or early summer decision by federal regulators but that timeframe might not be possible now, he said.

“Agri-business is very interested in this,” Garner said of exploring river barge operations. “They think it is a game-changer but there are some that really don’t see it working.”

The pending decision by Consumers Energy to close the 60-plus-year-old coal-fired power plant at the east end of Muskegon Lake in 2016 will lead to an eventual decision on the future use of the 300-acre site at the mouth of the Muskegon River. The plant includes the newest and one of the longest lake-freighter docks on Muskegon Lake.

Muskegon Area First – the local economic development agency – and Grand Rapids-based logistics company Rockford Berge are studying the future use of the Cobb property and other uses for the Port of Muskegon on the east end of Muskegon Lake.

“The goal of Consumers is to assist the community to find other materials to come in and out of the port,” Garner said of the Rockford-Berge study that is being paid for by the public utility.

At issue is a minimum of 1 million tons of material moving through the local port, which keeps the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers maintaining the harbor water depth. Consumers Cobb plant deliveries amount to about 600,000 tons of coal a year, a huge amount of tonnage for Muskegon to make up once the power plant is closed, Garner said.

The Next Michigan program of regional economic partnerships and state tax incentives to quickly market and sell properties for development resulted in the Muskegon-Kent agreement in 2013. Muskegon’s “subzones” in the partnership includes the east end of Muskegon Lake from just before the B.C. Cobb plant to the south and west to the Mart Dock – the historic Sand Products Corp. commercial dock on Muskegon Lake.

The West Michigan Economic Partnership subzones, including the Port of Muskegon sites, are expected to be approved by the Michigan Strategic Fund Board in February, Garner said. That will lead to a $40,000 marketing effort to entice developers to propose job-creating projects for those properties.

“One of the goals of this partnership is to find an end user, locate them in the port, have them do production here and ship that product out of Muskegon,” Garner said. “These are projects that put boots on the ground and create jobs here.”

Consumers Energy, Rockford Berge, Sand Products, Verplank Trucking and Energetx Composites have joined forces with other companies to explore an energy technology initiative for Muskegon Lake. Sand Products and Verplank are major operators in the Port of Muskegon and Energetx is the Holland-based wind blade manufacturer interested in shipping the huge blades out of the Port of Muskegon.

Garner said that the group is formally organizing as a trade association and will continue to brand itself a 43-Degrees North – the latitude of Muskegon. Michigan State University is working with the group of companies on its port efforts in Muskegon.

Grand Valley State University’s Annis Water Resources Institute in Muskegon has launched a statewide study of the potential of the “blue economy” in the Great Lake state. GVSU received a $75,000 grant from the Mott Foundation and the university has hired Michigan Economic Center's John Austin to conduct the research.

Port development and the economic development and jobs that can come with such activity are key components of the GVSU study, Garner said.

Finally, the state’s Office of the Great Lakes is working on a statewide “water strategy” that would not only look at port development but recreational, commercial and tourism uses of Michigan’s waters. A report is expected to be sent to Gov. Rick Snyder in the spring and it should include information from the Muskegon-area as state officials have met with those involved with water-based development along the Lakeshore, Garner said.

Only time will tell if 2014 becomes the year of the port in Muskegon.

“I don’t anticipate any major announcement,” Sabo said. “But there are many, many moving parts and we just have to see how it all plays out.”



Littoral shipbuilding in Marinette in jeopardy

1/29 - Marinette, Wis. - A U.S. Navy shipbuilding program that has created thousands of jobs in Wisconsin is in jeopardy again after having withstood earlier attacks and criticisms about the ships' performance and capabilities.

The office of the Secretary of Defense has directed the Navy to limit its purchase of littoral combat ships to 32, forgoing 20 of the small, fast warships built in Marinette and Mobile, Ala., the Navy Times reported recently, citing Pentagon sources.

The preliminary order could be overturned or modified before the Pentagon completes its next five-year plan in conjunction with its budget proposal for fiscal 2015, Defense officials told Bloomberg News.

It wouldn't be the first time the littoral combat ship program fended off critics and attempts to delay or shut down the program.

Still, more questions have been raised about the ships' mission, firepower, defenses and survivability as the Pentagon evaluates the $32 billion program, which has been a boon to the economy of northeastern Wisconsin.

The reliability of the Navy's first three littoral combat ships, which include the USS Freedom built in Marinette, "has been degraded by frequent critical system failures" in early operations, the Pentagon's chief weapons tester said in a report obtained by Bloomberg News before its public release.

The report cites failures of USS Freedom during testing and a nine-month deployment to Singapore. The ship had trouble with its diesel-powered generators, air compressors and propulsion system, according to the report.

Also, the "operational reliability" of USS Independence, built by Austal USA in Mobile, Ala., has been degraded by failures including problems with operator consoles, power generation equipment, computer systems, propulsion drivetrain components, communications systems and mission package support systems, the report notes.

Navy officials envision a fleet of fast ships that can operate in waters as shallow as 20 feet and reach speeds topping 46 mph. The 377-foot vessels could be used to hunt submarines and pirates, search for underwater mines and launch unmanned aerial drones.

Thus far, the Navy says it's committed to acquiring the 52-ship fleet instead of 32 vessels as directed by Acting Deputy Defense Secretary Christine Fox.

"Whether this program gets to the full 52 ships will depend almost entirely on unwavering support from the Navy leadership," said Loren Thompson, chief operating officer of the Lexington Institute, an Arlington, Va., policy research group. "If there's any signal of faltering in support from the Navy, the budget cutters in the Pentagon and on Capitol Hill will claim it quickly.

"The littoral combat ship is the Navy's best hope for maintaining a large fleet that can cover the world. But it's a tough (fiscal) environment for every weapons system these days, and it's especially tough for new ideas that haven't proven themselves," Thompson said.

If the program remains intact, it could maintain thousands of jobs at the Marinette shipyard and its suppliers for many years to come. If the program is curtailed, the shipbuilding could end as early as 2020, resulting in layoffs throughout the region.

"The LCS program is huge for our community here in Wisconsin and Michigan, and for our nation's national security," Chuck Goddard, Marinette Marine president and CEO, said in a statement.

"We are providing the most capable warship to the Navy and our country. We have more than 2,000 men and women in our shipyard in Marinette on any given day working on this critical program," Goddard added.

It's premature to speculate on what will happen, according to defense contractor Lockheed-Martin Corp., which is responsible for the littoral combat ship construction in Marinette.

Still, defense industry experts are skeptical whether the Navy will get approval for the full fleet of 52 ships anytime soon.

"I would be very surprised if that happens," said Jim Hasik, senior fellow at the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security, in Washington, D.C. "It's pretty clear that not everything fits in the budget for any of the (military) services, so everybody has to throw something overboard, at least in the short term to midterm," Hasik said.

The program will probably be capped at 32 ships, Hasik said.

And, he added, the Navy likely will choose one ship design over the other for the remaining vessels after the current order for 20 is filled. That could put Marinette Marine out of the running for additional ships.

Marinette is building a version with a traditional steel hull, while its competitor in Alabama is producing a nontraditional aluminum version that's a trimaran, or three-hulled ship. Marinette's shipyard is not configured to build aluminum-hull ships, so if the Navy selects that design it's doubtful the work would come to northeast Wisconsin.

Also, if the new ships fail tests aimed at showing performance of the weapons systems and survivability during combat, then it's not clear what happens to the program.

Navy officials say they're confident the technical issues will be sorted out. They're not backing away from the ships' plug-and-play modules, which can be loaded on the vessels for specific missions such as minesweeping.

The ships will be adaptable to new tactics and technologies, according to Rear Adm. Thomas Rowden, who has defended the program.

Some hard decisions about the program and its fate in northeast Wisconsin are coming soon, defense industry experts say, as the Pentagon weighs billions of dollars in spending cuts and winds down the war in Afghanistan.

Navy officials have strenuously defended their plan to build a fleet of littoral combat ships, with Navy Secretary Ray Mabus personally arguing his case before Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, urging the program's continuation, Defense News reported.

Congress criticized the littoral program for early cost overruns and questioned whether the ships built in Marinette are capable of performing as expected. The program was funded but singled out for more scrutiny in the $632 billion National Defense Authorization Act that President Barack Obama signed into law recently.

"The Navy has to show they have the 'real stuff' nailed down in this program. They have to continue to get the bugs out of the system," said John Rogers, a former high-ranking Department of Defense official and now president of Capstone National Partners, a Milwaukee consulting firm.

"Clearly there are people in the Office of the Secretary of Defense who are not sold on it, but a program does not start or end with one person," Rogers said.

Navy officials say they're continuing to work with the Pentagon on ship acquisition plans, and that nothing's been finalized for the next few years.

"It's going to take a lot of effort from a lot of people to keep this program," Rogers said. "I would never build a strategy based on the presumption that everything's going to be OK because you can't leave things to chance."

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel


Free entertainment series announced at Duluth museum

1/29 - Duluth, Minn. – Lake Superior Marine Museum Association is offering free Evening Entertainment Series programs at the Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center (also known as the Marine Museum) in Canal Park, 600 S. Lake Ave., Duluth, Minn. Dates are Feb. 6 and 20. Programs begin at 7 p.m.

Thursday, February 6 – “The Alder and the Ice," featuring LCDR Tony Maffia, Commanding Officer CGC ALDER to discuss the Coast Guard’s role in this ever-changing and challenging ice season.

Thursday, February 20 – “25 years photographing the Canal - True Confessions of a Nautical Nut.” Dennis O’Hara, owner of Northern Images Photography and to discuss Canal Park - “What’s the Big Deal” Photographing the Canal - when once is never enough!

Details at LSMMA at 218-727-2497 or visit Evening Entertainment Series programs are always free.


Lookback #73 – Rattray Head lost in Galway Bay on January 29, 1975

1/29 - The Rattray Head was built at Wallsend, England, and launched on August 26, 1965. The 274-foot-long, British-flag freighter was operated by A.F. Henry & MacGregor Ltd. and first came to the Great Lakes in 1971.

The ship joined Christian Salvesen (Shipping) Ltd. in 1972 and then Stephenson Clarke Shipping a year later as Angmering.

The vessel was approaching its destination of Galway, Ireland, with a cargo of 2,400 tons of coal from Gdansk, Poland, when it ran aground off Black Rock Shoal, in Galway Bay, 39 years ago today.

The 10-year old freighter became a total loss but the cargo was salvaged. The hull rests at a depth of about 60 feet.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  January 29

News Photo Gallery
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.


Port Reports -  January 28

St. Marys River – Bonnie Barnes
The 360 foot barge PML Ironmaster remains in the ice south of Six Mile Point. The area has experienced extreme cold weather, and the barge cannot travel through the thickening ice. The tugs Anglian Lady and Wilfred M. Cohen were forced to leave the barge in place Monday. The USCG Mackinaw is expected to help with ice breaking to allow the barge to be pulled back to Sault Ontario, probably the end of this week. They left the Soo on December 30 with a barge-load of steel coils, making it over a 28-day round trip to Detroit and back.

DeTour, Mich. - Arnesh Misra
The U.S. Coast Guard cutter Mackinaw was assisting the Algomarine downbound from the St. Marys River Monday night heading for lay-up in to Owen Sound. Algomarine was stuck off Detour just above the Drummond island ferry track since Thursday. The temperature was -14 degrees Monday morning. Mackinaw will next help Algosteel get into Goderich.

Straits of Mackinac - Robert Bemben
Sunday evening the Manitowoc, upbound on Lake Michigan, made a run into the ice field southwest of Lansing Shoal. By 11 p.m. it had slowed to a stop in the ice, approximately eight nautical miles SW of Lansing Shoal, and it will need icebreaking assistance to transit eastbound. The westbound Arthur M. Anderson, with an AIS destination of Sturgeon Bay, will likely require assistance to transit the Straits and northern Lake Michigan as well.


Frozen Lake Michigan delays some Illinois salt shipments

1/28 - Chicago, Ill. – Illinois cities waiting for their salt shipments during this very cold and snowy winter are running into a headache because of frozen Lake Michigan. With the lake about 70 percent frozen, cargo ships have had to navigate other ways to get the salt to the Chicago area.

The city of Orland Park is waiting for more salt that will now arrive by barge through the canals to Joliet, rather than at Calumet Harbor. The salt is also being shipped by rail.

Those in the plowing and salting business say salt doesn't work on the snowy streets when the temperatures reach the single digits. There are other materials, of course, but they are very expensive.

With all of the snow this winter, Orland Park has sent out plows 34 times so far this season. That's the same number for all of the 2012-2013 winter season.

NBC Chicago


Historic St. Clair Inn shuts its doors

1/28 - St. Clair, Mich. – The residents and business people of St. Clair have been crossing their fingers for nearly two decades in hopes that a rebirth of the historic St. Clair Inn would revive the stream of tourists and conventions that once made the city pulse with activity.

They hoped Remo Poselli and his Waterfront Hotel Ventures LLC would be able to turn the inn around following their $3.5 million purchase of the property in 1997. Instead, Poselli ended up in prison for federal tax violations.

They hoped Firoz Lokhandwala, of India, and his St. Clair Inn LLC would be able to turn the inn around following their $3,575,000 purchase of the property in 2005. But the new regime never proved able to attract sufficient local or convention business. The Great Recession of 2008 hampered the inn further.

Residents hoped hometown realtor Joe Joachim would be able to sell the property to a local hotelier with deep pockets and a commitment to the city when he listed the property early in 2012 for the same price Lokhandwala paid for it.

Instead, after nearly a decade of struggle, the 88-year old, 78-room hotel shut its doors on Jan. 20. Someone taped a piece of printer paper with “closed” written on it in light green crayon to the main entrance, the doors of which were chained from the inside.

“It’s an unfortunate situation,” said Mayor Bill Cedar. “I think people saw it coming. Now maybe it’ll be a chance for someone to come in and bring it back.”

“In the short term, the St. Clair Inn’s closing is not good news for the community,” said Dan Casey, executive director of the Economic Development Alliance of St. Clair County. “It’s a historical property. It’s an anchor. There’ll be a negative impact on the city and the county. In the long term, however, any time you have the opportunity to reinvigorate an historic facility like the Inn, it can create a positive. In the long term, it’s probably good news.”

Known for its English Tudor architecture and its cozy perch on the banks of the St. Clair River, the inn has long been the centerpiece of downtown St. Clair. It has deep historical ties to the residents of the city. With the Oakland Hotel on the south side of the city closing in 1911 and burning in 1915 and the Somerville Hotel on the north side of the city closing in 1917 and burning in the early 1920s, St. Clair lacked a major hotel. The St. Clair Rotary Club stepped into the void and sold stock to St. Clair residents to build a community-owned hotel, according to Charles Homberg in his book “St. Clair, Michigan,” a strategy that was popular nationally in the years before the Great Depression. The rotary club raised $180,000 from St. Clair residents to buy the land and construct the hotel.

Built according to the plans of Port Huron architect Walter Wyeth, the St. Clair Inn opened in 1926 on the site of the old Myron Mill, which was razed to clear the property.

Over the next seven decades, through multiple ownership changes, the inn sat at the center of social and economic life in St. Clair. The inn became a Michigan Registered Historical Site in 1995, the same year the National Register of Historic Places included it on its roster.

Over nearly a decade and a half as mayor, Cedar has performed a half-dozen weddings at the inn. “People really like it,” said Cedar. “It’s a cute setting.”

But those years have not been easy ones for the inn as local and regional tastes in dining, leisure and shopping changed and the economy crashed.

TransCapital Bank, the holder of the mortgage, foreclosed on St. Clair Inn LLC in August, according to City Attorney Jim Downey. By the looks of the current situation, with the doors chained, Downey said it does not appear likely the LLC will try to redeem the property. The redemption deadline is Feb. 10, Downey said.

According to public records in the St. Clair City Assessor’s office, the state equalized value of the inn dropped to $998,200 in 2012, down from $1,148,000 in 2011, $1,204,974 in 2010 and $1,227,400 in 2009. The state equalized value of a property is generally considered to be about half of its market value.

According to city tax information, the inn had not paid its summer or winter taxes for 2013 at 500 N. Riverside of $57,105 or $2,543, which the assessor turns over to the county for collection on March 1. The inn has not paid its summer or winter taxes at 511 North Riverside of $247 and $5,536, respectively; nor at 507 N. Riverside, $213 and $4,775; nor at 115 Vine Street of $16 and $366; nor at 503 N. Riverside of $70 and $1564.

The Voice


Lookback #72 – Seaway visitor Adel Weert Wiards caught fire on January 28, 1986

1/28 - Some will remember that the West German freighter Adel Weert Wiards was on the cover of “Know Your Ships” in 1971. The ship had been completed in July 1970 and had come to the Great Lakes that year for Wiards Seereederei.

The 410-foot, 2-inch-long freighter did not see a lot of Seaway service. It was sold and registered in Liberia as Cape Sear in 1973 and in Libya as Ebn Magid in 1975

In January 1986, the vessel had loaded at Rotterdam and Antwerp and was bound for Libya when fire broke out at sea, off Anvil Point, 28 years ago today. This cargo carrier was able to dock at Portland, UK, on the English Channel, the next day. Then, on January 30, two explosions and a subsequent fire rocked the ship and it was beached.

With the fires out, the former Seaway trader was refloated on February 10 and arrived at Milford Haven, England, on March 23 to be unloaded. Following a sale for scrap, the vessel was taken to Brugse, Belgium, on November 5, 1986, and the dismantling of the hull was begun within a week.

Skip Gillham


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 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, 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.


Port Reports -  January 27

St. Marys River
Arthur M. Anderson was downbound in the river Sunday after unloading coal at the Carbide dock. Her destination was listed as Sturgeon Bay, Wis. for a Jan. 28 arrival.

Owen Sound, Ont.
The Coast Guard will be conducting icebreaking operations as vessels escort the Algomarine from Lake Michigan to Owen Sound for a winter lay-up. Operations for these areas are expected to take place on January 25-26.


Lake Erie “essentially” frozen over

1/27 - Erie, Pa. – Lake-effect snowstorms have helped make Erie the snowiest city in the country so far this winter, but the now ice-covered Lake Erie might not be creating as much snow during the rest of the season. The lake was about 95 percent covered by ice as of Thursday, according to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory.

NOAA physical scientist George Leshkevich described the lake as "essentially" frozen over, which means it is covered enough to slow lake waters from evaporating and creating lake-effect snow and cloud cover.

Brian Mitchell, meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Cleveland, warns the lake effect isn't entirely gone. "It cuts down the lake-effect snow amounts quite significantly," Mitchell said. "But some moisture can still be pulled up to dump snows on some isolated areas."

Mitchell said those snows won't last as long as some storms earlier in the season, and an ice-covered lake does increase the chance of clear skies.

Leshkevich said ice is likely thicker this year than in 2013, when only 80 percent of the lake was covered at its peak, and much of that ice was only an inch thick. He said at least one spot on the lake now has ice as thick as 4 feet because winds forced the ice to pile onto itself.

Especially cold temperatures and arctic winds have helped make the Great Lakes particularly icy this year. Leshkevich said ice coverage doesn't usually peak until February, but the lakes are already the iciest they have been since early 2009.

As of Wednesday, the lakes were about 59 percent covered in ice. Leshkevich said early forecasts called for between 57 and 62 percent to be covered this winter, but he said it now looks like the lakes could see even more ice cover if cold weather persists.

The Great Lakes as a whole were only about 38 percent covered at their iciest point of 2013.

Erie Times-News


Saginaw River 2013 shipping season wrap-up

1/27 - Here is a look back at what took place along the banks of the Saginaw River during the past season. It was encouraging to see the downward spiral in traffic the past six years finally stopped in 2013, with the numbers improving slightly over the previous season.

The 2013 shipping season officially started on April 16th, with the arrival of the tug Spartan and her tank barge, Spartan II, calling on the Dow Chemical Dock in Bay City. The start to the season was 14 days later than the 2012 open. The 2013 season came to a close when the tug Samuel de Champlain and her cement barge, Innovation, departed the Lafarge Cement Terminal in Essexville on December 19th, five days later than the 2012 close. For the year, there were a total of 139 commercial vessel passages, by 33 different vessels, for a season lasting 249 days. These numbers represent an increase in vessel passages, though not by many, over the previous season. During the 2012 season, there were five fewer vessel passages, from eleven fewer boats, with the 2012 season actually lasting nine days longer.

Looking at some of the other statistics from the 2013 season, 16 different docks along the Saginaw River saw cargo deliveries. This has remained the same for the past four seasons. The difference in 2013 was the start of product deliveries to the Port Fisher Fertilizer Dock in Bay City and the elimination of deliveries to the Lafarge Cement Terminal in Carrollton. The dock that saw the most traffic in 2013 was the Bay Aggregates Dock in Bay City, seeing 31 vessel deliveries. This was up by seven from the previous year. Coming in second was the Wirt Stone Dock in Bay City, with 27 cargo deliveries, an increase of four from last years total of 23. The third place dock was the Wirt Stone Dock in Saginaw, with 19 deliveries. These three docks combined accounted for 45 percent of the vessel deliveries to the Saginaw River in 2013. The top three in 2012 were the Wirt Stone Dock in Bay City, Bay Aggregates Dock, and the Consumers Energy Dock in Essexville. In all, accounting for split cargos by some vessels that unloaded at two different docks, there were 172 deliveries to the various docks along the Saginaw River.

The workhorse of the Saginaw River, without question, continues to be the tug Olive L. Moore, paired with the self-unloading barge Lewis J. Kuber. This pair made 48 trips to the river, two fewer trips than they made in 2012, and 30 more than the next highest visitor, Manitowoc, which had 10. Third place went to the Calumet, which logged 9 passages. The top three were all Lower Lakes Transportation Company vessels. The Indiana Harbor was next with 7 passages and the Alpena, Mississagi, and the tug Defiance-barge Ashtabula all came in with 5 passages each. This is the seventh year in a row that the Olive L. Moore / Lewis J. Kuber have had the most passages. Over this seven-year period, they have visited the Saginaw River a total of 284 times.

Again in 2013 Lower Lakes Towing/Grand River Navigation blew all of the other fleets out of the water when it came to total visits by a fleet, logging 82 vessel passages. This was the seventh year in a row for LLT/GRN in the #1 position. With 12 more deliveries in 2013 than in 2012, they accounted for 59 percent of the vessel passages on the Saginaw River. The next busiest fleet was American Steamship Company with 22 passages, and then in third was Lafarge North America Inc., managed by Andrie Inc., with six. These three companies accounted for 79 percent of all deliveries on the Saginaw River in 2013.

There were a few vessels that were seen on the Saginaw River in 2012, that did not make a return visit in 2013, namely the American Mariner, Stephen B. Roman, and the tugs Barbara Andrie, and Colonel. The list of boats that were not visitors in 2012, but made a return to the Saginaw River in 2013 was much longer: American Courage, Buffalo, Sam Laud, Alpena, Cuyahoga, Michipicoten, Saginaw, and Undaunted Pere Marquette 41. Four vessels made their first ever deliveries to the Saginaw River: Elevit, Sloman Hermes, Thalassa Desgagnes and the tug Defiance pushing the self unloading barge Ashtabula. The tugs Mary E. Hannah and Champion were also visitors. The USCG Cutter Hollyhock also made her traditional spring and fall visits to work aids to navigation in the Saginaw River Entrance Channel and she did some icebreaking for the Alpena as well. The USCG Cutter Bristol Bay made a late season visit, breaking ice for the Samuel de Champlain / Innovation. The US Army Corps of Engineers tug, Demolen and barge Veler, worked a project near the Essexville Turning Basin, while the G-Tugs Superior and Wyoming safely assisted the Algoway out of the Saginaw River during a time of very high river current during the spring.

There were a number of other notable stories during 2013. One of the biggest was the return of the Tall Ship Festival to Bay City. Eleven of the majestic sailing vessels made their way to the Saginaw River, arriving on July 11th. Luedtke Engineering crews continued maintenance dredging of the Saginaw River shipping channel, and Fisher Companies opened the Port Fisher Fertilizer dock to vessel deliveries of liquid ammonium nitrate. These cargos were brought in by foreign-flagged, saltwater vessels. The USS Edson made the move from her temporary dock in Essexville at the Wirt Sand and Stone dock to her new, permanent home just below the Independence Bridge in Bay City. Finally, the tug Manitou made a dead ship tow of the Lower Lakes Towing vessel, Saginaw, to her namesake river. Saginaw was brought to the Bay Aggregates dock for repairs needed before continuing her trip to Buffalo to unload grain.

Hopefully, the momentum gained in 2013 will continue into 2014, bringing increased traffic and more product to the docks along the banks of the Saginaw River. Since 2005, when there were 347 vessel passages that season, the number of passages has steadily decreased every year, down to the low of 134 recorded in 2012. The 2013 season showed the first positive numbers since then.

Todd Shorkey


Great Lakes have most ice in decades thanks to bitter winter

1/27 - This winter's frigid temperatures have produced the largest amount of ice cover on the Great Lakes in at least 25 years. Nearly 60 percent of the lakes are now under a cover of ice, according to the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory in Ann Arbor, Mich.

The ice cover could help lake levels this summer, but that is far from certain. And biologists are keeping a close eye on northern Lake Superior in the hope that an ice bridge will link Ontario to Isle Royale.

The island is the home to a struggling gray wolf population in desperate need of new genetic stock — and more wolves.

One possible effect of so much ice this winter is that come summer the "lake effect" in cities such as Milwaukee, Chicago and Duluth, Minn., could be even cooler.

The ice cover this winter is a stark contrast to last winter, when the five lakes had only 38 percent cover, according to the research laboratory, which tracks ice conditions on the lakes. The long-term average of the lakes is about 50 percent, according to George Leshkevich, a scientist with the laboratory, which is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Of all of the lakes, Lake Michigan has the smallest amount of ice — about 38 percent. But Lake Erie is almost entirely covered. Leshkevich says Erie often gets the most ice because it is the shallowest of the Great Lakes.

To the north, 57 percent of Lake Superior is covered with ice. As the deepest of the Great Lakes, Leshkevich said, Lake Superior takes more sustained cold air to freeze, and because it produces considerable wave action from prevailing westerly winds, ice is slower to form.

With record low water levels on Lake Michigan and Lake Erie, the massive amount of ice could have a beneficial effect by slowing evaporation from the lake, but other factors could limit the effect.

Last February, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reported that Lake Michigan and Lake Erie hit their lowest recorded levels. Last summer, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported on 14 years of below-average water levels on the lakes.

But the relationship between ice cover, evaporation and water levels is complex. Researcher Jay Austin of the University of Minnesota-Duluth says the ice "acts like a giant piece of plastic" over the lake. That means water can't evaporate as readily from sunlight.

Austin says this season's cold weather in late fall and early winter, combined with the relatively warmer water, created conditions that are "tremendously evaporative."

"Lake smoke" in cities such as Milwaukee and Duluth can often be seen rising from the lake. That's evaporation, Austin says. "So to get to all of this ice, there had to be a lot of evaporation in the first place," Austin said.

In his research, Austin has found that in years of extensive ice cover, lakes take much longer to warm the next summer. That could mean cooler lakeside temperatures this spring and summer.

Satellite maps show northern Lake Superior socked in with ice. On Isle Royale, as late as Thursday, wolf researcher Rolf Peterson of Michigan Tech said by email that he could still see gaps in the ice and it was premature to say a bridge had formed.

Biologists hope that will happen — the last time was 2008. If ice from Ontario stretches to the island, it could mean the introduction of new wolves, which could help boost the population and diversify the gene pool.

The last time a wolf migrated across the ice was 1997. The wolf population on the island dropped from 16 in 2011 to eight in 2013. In their first 2014 post from the island on Jan. 12, researchers from Michigan Tech tracking the wolf and moose population on the island wrote:

"If climate projections are accurate, only one or two more ice bridges are likely before the lake is expected to be perpetually free of any significant ice formation (by 2040.)

"Ice bridges are important because they represent the possibility that a wolf can migrate from Canada and infuse the population with new genetic material — this appears vital for the population's vitality."

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel


Lookback #71 – Tug Allegheny sank at Traverse City on January 27, 1978

1/27 - A wild winter blizzard and a build up of ice on the superstructure resulted in the tug Allegheny capsizing at the dock in Traverse City, Mich., 36 years ago today.

Originally a deep-sea tug, the vessel was built at Orange, Texas, for the United States Navy in 1944. It was known as ATA-179 until 1948.

The ship came to the Great Lakes in 1969 and was operated as a training vessel by the Great Lakes Maritime Academy of Traverse City. It was owned by them when the storm of January 27, 1988, sent the tug to the bottom.

Allegheny was sold to Malcolm Marine, salvaged and towed to Port Huron for a refit. The ship resumed service that year as Tug Malcolm and used in a variety of towing projects.

Following a resale to Florida based interests, Tug Malcolm passed down the Welland Canal on July 5, 1998. It was turned over to a new crew at Montreal and renamed Matthew Beyel later that year. In 2005, became Alejandro for American Tugs Inc.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  January 27

News Photo Gallery
Lay-up list updated


Today in Great Lakes History -  January 27

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

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

January 27, 1985 - 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.

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 Swa yze, Father Dowling Collection, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series


Port Reports -  January 26

St. Marys Rivers
Arthur M. Anderson remained at the Carbide Dock Saturday after unloading a cargo of coal. The tugs Anglian Lady and Wilfred M. Cohen, along with the USCG Mackinaw were in the Nine Mile anchorage for the night.

Straits of Mackinac - Robert Bemben
After waiting out Friday’s winter storm on the Straits with 50-60 knot southwesterly winds pressuring the ice pack and whiteout snow conditions, the USCG icebreaker Mobile Bay was moving again, however it appeared to be the only vessel out on N. Lake Michigan on Saturday. In the evening it was cruising at 10.5 knots along the Upper Peninsula shoreline off of Manistique, likely seeking out a protected ice anchorage from the new wind direction - winds veered to the northwest after the cold front passed. Presumably, the icebreakers mission is still to keep the Straits and N. Lake Michigan open to commercial traffic, although at this time most of the traffic appears to be in layup or headed there.

Toledo, Ohio
Algoway arrived Saturday to unload salt.


Can ice on the Great Lakes be a good thing?

1/26 - Milwaukee, Wis. – It’s been cold this winter, but unless you’re a snowbird reading this from Florida, Arizona, or anywhere south of the Mason-Dixon Line then you already know this very well.

Our cold winter, which includes a 2 to 1 ratio of cold vs. warm days since Dec. 1 (35 days colder than normal, 17 days warmer than normal), has iced over southeast Wisconsin. It has also iced over much of the Great Lakes. As of January 21, Lake Michigan was about 32 percent covered.

While the shallowest of the five, Lake Erie, freezes over nearly every year the other four rarely do. In fact since 1900, Lake Michigan has only reached +90 percent ice coverage three times in the winters of 1903-1904, 1976-1977, and 1978-1979 (other years where +90 percent may have occurred were 1935-1936, and 1962-1963).

Lake Superior, which often faces the brunt of a cold, Canadian, northwest wind, freezes to +90 percent about once every 20 years despite being the largest and deepest lake. A frozen Great Lake doesn’t sound like a pleasant thing, especially for any business needing to load or unload cargo to or from a ship. But it can help the economy in other ways.

This winter, the Port of Milwaukee has three ships anchored until spring. Workers were only expecting one, but their workload tripled as the ships remain iced in port. That’s extra money in the pockets of workers, vendors, and repair facilities performing needed maintenance.

The ice can also play an important role in the health of the lakes. All winter long cold, dry air flows over the lakes collecting moisture. By comparison, very little is returned in the form of snow or rain. The lake levels drop. But as ice continues to cover more and more of a lake’s open water the theft of moisture by the air is cut off. And when the moisture stops leaving the lake through evaporation, you can close the book on any chance of lake effect snow until the following winter.

In addition, larger than normal ice coverage in winter can also lead to cooler water in spring. This in turn lowers the amount of water evaporating, even after the ice is gone.

Lake Michigan reached its all time lowest level on record last January falling 29 inches below its long-term average. A wet 2013 helped the lake recover a bit. The forecast for the next week includes this Arctic air sticking around, meaning more ice will be claiming territory (while the open waters give up moisture to the dry air above).

While the chance of Lake Michigan freezing over from shore to shore is minimal, the chance for Lake Superior is looking better. If the biggest brother of the Great Lakes family does ice up, it could mean even easier access for bitter cold air to reach us.

In a normal scenario, cold air flowing over Superior on its way to northern Wisconsin is warmed as it collects heat from the water. But if the lake is covered in ice, winds blowing over the lake won’t see a temperature rise before arriving on our doorstep. And prospects for an early break from this harsh winter vanish into the icy air.

Fox 6


Lookback #70 – Thomas F. Cole launched on January 26, 1907

1/26 - Thomas F. Cole was built by the Great Lakes Engineering Works and launched at Ecorse, Mich., 107 years ago today. The 606-foot, 6-inch-long bulk carrier was soon at work for the Pittsburgh Steamship Co., which was part of United States Steel.

Iron ore was the main staple of cargo duties and, in the first season the ship carried 248,000 tons while traveling 36,000 miles around the upper four Great Lakes.

Fog was blamed for a collision with the Inverewe off the southern end of Pipe Island, in the lower St. Mary's River, on November 12, 1964. This resulted in heavy damage to the port bow of Thomas F. Cole and repairs included the construction of a new pilothouse.

The ship tied up at Duluth on November 24, 1974, and never sailed again. After being sold for scrap, it departed under tow on July 27, 1980, and arrived at Thunder Bay a few days later. Scrapping proceeded over the next few months and into 1981 before the last of what had become a 74-year-old ship disappeared.

Ironically Inverewe, then sailing as Theokeetor, had another collision in fog, this time with Marina L., and sank in the Pacific off the coast of Mexico on June 20, 1973.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  January 26

Lay-up list updated


Today in Great Lakes History -  January 26

In 1994 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 engine room 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.


Early, harsh winter costs U.S.-flag fleets opportunity to end 2013 on plus side

1/25 - Cleveland, Ohio – Significant weather and ice delays and cancelled cargos limited U.S.-flag cargo movement on the Great Lakes to just 7.1 million tons in December and as a result, the fleet’s year-end total slipped to 89.2 million tons, a decrease of 0.4 percent compared to 2012.

Iron ore cargos carried in U.S.-flag lakers totaled 43.9 million tons in 2013, a decrease of 3 percent compared to 2012. Those cargos represented 75.2 percent of all the iron ore moved on the system last year. Through November, U.S.-flag ore cargos had been just slightly behind 2012s pace, but the brutal weather in December slashed shipments to just 4 million tons, a decrease of 21 percent compared to December 2012.

Coal cargos totaled 18.2 million tons in 2013, an increase of 3.7 percent, and 74 percent of all Lakes coal last year. The total would have been higher, but several coal cargos were cancelled in December.

The limestone trade in U.S. bottoms also registered a slight increase over 2012. Shipments totaled 22.1 million tons, an increase of 1.5 percent, and the highest volume since 2008. The 22.1 million tons also represent 80 percent of the Lakes stone trade. Shipments of cement, salt, sand and grain were largely in line with 2012.

Lake Carriers Association


Port Reports -  January 25

St. Marys River
Arthur M. Anderson was still at the Carbide Dock Friday.

Straits of Mackinac - Robert Bemben
The USCG icebreaker Mobile Bay has been firmly anchored in the ice approximately four nautical miles WSW of St. Helena Island since late Thursday night. It must have been an interesting day out in the ice with whiteout conditions and a high ice pressure warning for northern Lake Michigan. The Mackinac Bridge was closed much of the day, as was Highway 2 along the Upper Peninsula shoreline of Lake Michigan. An Arctic cold front is expected to arrive at the Straits early Saturday morning.


Lookback #69 – La Grande Hermine hit by arsonist on January 25, 2003

1/25 - Eleven years ago today, an arson fire destroyed La Grande Hermine aground at the Beacon Marina, just off the Queen Elizabeth Highway, west of St. Catharines, at Jordan Station, Ontario. The replica ship, built on the hull of a former St. Lawrence River car ferry, seems even more popular today as a rusted, burned out relic. It has become a tourist attraction for visitors to the area wanting to have their photograph taken with the remains of the ship.

This vessel was built 100 years ago and designed as a St. Lawrence River ferry. It was first based at Trois Rivieres as Le Progress and renamed La Verendrye in 1930. It lasted in this service until the mid-1950s.

The hull was rebuilt as a coastal freighter in 1956 and returned to service as La Marjolaine. The 126'6” long vessel also saw some work as a winter ferry to Ile aux Coudres and was in regular duty until 1968.

Later the vessel became a spare boat and, from 1974 to 1981, worked between Montmagny and Ile aux Grues on the St. Lawrence.

In 1981, the engine was removed and the hull was converted into a floating restaurant and bar at Cote St. Catherine near Montreal. It was towed to Quebec City in 1984, later laid up at Ile aux Coudres and then arrived back at Montreal under tow on Sept. 14, 1988.

In 1991, investors had the ship rebuilt as a replica of La Grande Hermine, one of explorer Jacques Cartier's vessels, and then taken to Valleyfield, QC for work as a restaurant and bar once again.

The power was cut off in November 1994 due to unpaid bills and, in January 1995, the vessel sprang a leak and sank. Once it was refloated, the ship went to a marina on the Akwesasne Reserve. The ship remained there until towed to Jordan in June 1997 and moored at the Beacon Marina.

There was talk that La Grande Hermine would become a restaurant again or a floating casino, but it remained idle and deteriorating until an arsonist set the ship on fire on January 25, 2003.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  January 25

Lay-up list updated


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.


Port Reports -  January 24

St. Marys River
Arthur M. Anderson was upbound at Mission Point led by the USCG Mackinaw as Thursday night came to a close. She as carrying another cargo of Canada-bound coal that will be unloaded at the Carbide Dock on the U.S. side and trucked across the border. The tug Anglian Lady remained beset in ice at the lower end of the east Neebish Channel, with the tug Wilfred M. Cohen assisting.

Straits of Mackinac - Robert Bemben
Thursday was a long work day for the USCG cutter Mobile Bay. It began by escorting the Philip R. Clarke (AIS destination of Ashtabula) and Algosteel (Goderich) eastbound from near Lansing Shoal to just past Grays Reef with the eastbound tanker Algoeast (Sarnia) playing catch-up in their track. The three lakers then continued eastbound, passing the Algowood, which was beset in ice just east of Round Island Passage. Meanwhile, the Mobile Bay had turned around and headed west to give relief to the Algomarine, which was beset for nearly 24 hours southwest of Lansing Shoal and had drifted with the ice field about four miles to the SW. Mobile Bay escorted the Algomarine eastbound around 50 nautical miles to reach the Algowood, which it broke out at Round Island Passage and escorted westbound. At 9:30 p.m. the  Mobile Bay and Algowood were just north of Hog Island, and they noted in a radio communication that the ice was getting easier there. The toughest stretch appeared to be between Grays Reef and Hog Island, which had slowed the convoy earlier in the day to around 4-5 knots. By the end of the night, the Mobile Bay will have likely covered 150 nautical miles.


Marine City ferry remains closed due to ice

1/24 - Marine City, Mich. – Icebreakers remained busy this week on the St. Clair River and the Great Lakes it connects.

The Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Samuel Risley was in Sarnia Wednesday clearing ice from wharfs and was scheduled to head south to assist a tug and barge waiting to travel from Windsor to Sarnia, said Andy Maillet, superintendent of operations with the Canadian Coast Guard.

The Bluewater Ferry between Sombra and Marine City was closed Wednesday because of ice conditions. “We still have our trouble area down the bottom end of the river,” Maillet said. With Lake St. Clair frozen, “there’s no place for the ice to go,” he said.

“The cold snap we’re in is solidifying the ice a bit,” and allowing new ice to form quickly, Maillet added. “As soon as the winds die, you have instant ice everywhere.”

The Canadian icebreaker Griffin also has been assisting traffic in the region, including in Lake Erie. “We have a couple of U.S. Coast Guard vessels also in the fray,” Maillet said. “It has been a very interesting year so far.” That’s because of the deep freeze the region experienced earlier this month.

“That came really early in the season,” Maillet said. A thaw that followed helped ice-breaking operations across the country, he added. “But, the problem is, we’re back into a deep freeze, and we’ll see what this hand is going to deal us.”

The U.S. National Weather Service is forecasting a high Thursday of 15 and a low of -4 Thursday night.

Port Huron Times Herald


Lake-effect storms may ease as ice cover nears 100 percent

1/24 - Lake Erie today is nearly fully encapsulated in ice. Subfreezing temperatures straight on through next week should finish the job. Most Buffalo Niagara residents know that means the lake-effect snow machine will grind to a halt.

But there’s another potential benefit: more sunshine.

Vitamin D was plentiful Wednesday across the region – if you could brave the single-digit temperatures. Days like Wednesday, absent any significant weather-making systems, could continue so long as Lake Erie stays frozen, forecasters say.

That’s because warmer, open waters of Lake Erie during winter months promote evaporation. The moisture rises, creating all those steely-gray, snow-laden, lake-effect clouds that block the sun, oftentimes quickly turning our landscape a deep white.

“It’s like putting a lid on a pot,” said Jim Mitchell, meteorologist with the National Weather Service, of the ice cover on lake-effect clouds and snow. “It cuts it right off completely. You don’t have the water there for the moisture source. It’s basically acting like dry land.”

Lake-effect cloud cover during November, December and usually January is what can make the sky seem like never-ending gray. Freezing out that evaporation can clear those skies above us.

As of Wednesday, the lake was 95.1 percent covered with ice. Only a very small area of the lake along the Canadian shoreline just east of Long Point showed more than 10 percent open water, according to ice concentration maps from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory.

Daytime highs will remain below freezing through at least Wednesday, according to forecasts that also show the mercury dipping into the single digits or below zero for four of the next five nights. That should be enough to freeze over the remaining areas, Mitchell projected.

If that happens, it would be the most – and earliest – the lake has frozen over in recent years. The largest ice concentrations on Lake Erie over the last five years have occurred in early February – 95.8 percent on Feb. 1, 2011 and 95.5 percent on Feb. 5, 2009.

“We’ve had an early ice cover this year,” said George Leshkevich a research scientist at the Great Lakes laboratory in Ann Arbor, Mich. “It’s earlier than normal. Lake Erie usually sees its maximum ice in early February to mid-February.

“It’s getting near that point right now.”

Leshkevich was a little less bullish on prognosticating more sunny days for Buffalo Niagara. The laboratory doesn’t keep statistics to back up such a theory.

“Certainly, Lake Erie can generate low cloud cover, but then you can get clouds coming in also from the west and northwest,” said Leshkevich. “If the lake is ice-covered, it will certainly cut down on evaporation and lake-effect snow.”

But just because there may be more clear skies with an iced-over Lake Erie, it doesn’t necessarily translate into warmth.

Much to the contrary, especially at night when cloud cover often acts as a form of insulation from the most bitter cold air. “It’s like a blanket,” Mitchell said of the clouds.

When that “blanket” is removed, there’s nothing keeping that frigid air from nipping your nose, fingers and toes.

A lot of factors have combined this season to produce the cold winter, most notably repeated airflows from the polar regions. It is what has led to the quick freezing of Lake Erie. And, it’s not just Lake Erie that’s getting the chill this winter. Across the Great Lakes, waters are turning to ice.

As of Wednesday, Lake Huron was 72 percent ice-covered, Superior is nearly 58 percent and Michigan and Ontario were showing about 29 and 33 percent, respectively. Both lakes Michigan and Ontario are more southerly and deep – more than 800 feet in places.

The highest Great Lakes ice cover occurred in a frosty 1979 when 94.7 percent of the lake water was iced over. Laboratory figures show the lowest occurred in 2002 when only 9.5 percent was covered.

The 2014 forecast by the laboratory – that the lakes will eventually be up to 62 percent ice covered regionwide – would be the third-highest since 1996. Last year only about 38 percent was covered.

“We’re well on our way,” Leshkevich said.

The Buffalo News


Lookback #68 – Enders M. Voorhees broke in two on January 24, 1988

1/24 - Late season transatlantic tows to an overseas scrapyard have presented problems for some of our retired lakers. The Enders M. Voorhees was buffeted by Force 9 winds on the Mediterranean in January 1988 while bound for Aliaga, Turkey. The retired United States Steel Corp. bulk carrier had been under tow of the Greek tug Everest when the line parted and the 46-year-old laker went aground.

The 639-foot, 6-inch-long, 18,325-ton capacity bulk carrier stranded at Kythnos Island, about 60 miles south of Athens, and broke in two 26 years ago today. The sections were salvaged in 1989. The bow and the stern were able to complete the tow to Aliaga, Turkey, on August 23, 1989, where they were eventually dismantled by Kalkavanlar Gemi Sokum Ticaret A.S.

Enders M. Voorhees was built by the Great Lakes Engineering Works and launched at Ecorse, Mich., on April 11, 1942. This was the second of the five “Super” lakers built for U.S. Steel and they set cargo records during the critical movement of raw materials during World War Two.

Over the years, this vessel operated around the Great Lakes in the ore trade but also ventured down the St. Lawrence delivering grain for overseas export and then loading iron ore from Eastern Canadian mines. The ship was also part of the winter navigation project in the late 1970s.

The vessel was tied up at Duluth on December 16, 1981, and never sailed again. The bow thruster was removed for the John G. Munson in 1986 and the ship was sold for scrap in 1987. It departed Duluth August 22, 1987, between the tugs Avenger IV and Chippewa and then left Quebec City, under tow of the Irving Cedar, and in tandem with the Thomas W. Lamont, on September 15.

They arrived at Algeciras, Spain, on October 24 and headed east on the Mediterranean separately. After the Thomas W. Lamont was safely delivered to Aliaga, Turkey, on December 27, the Greek tug Everest returned for the Enders M. Voorhees and departed on January 13, 1988, for the ill-fated voyage.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  January 24

Lay-up list updated


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.


Great Lakes coal trade down 2.8 percent in 2013

1/23 - Cleveland, Ohio – Shipments of coal on the Great Lakes totaled 24.6 million tons in 2013, a decrease of 2.8 percent compared to 2012. Some of the decrease can be attributed to the early onset of winter in December, which lead to a 17-percent decrease in loadings on Lake Superior.

Individual cargos were further reduced toward the end of the month when vessels voluntarily lightened their drafts to ease transits through an ice-clogged stretch of the St. Marys River that connects Lake Superior to the lower Great Lakes. One 1,000-foot-long vessel experienced a 4,474-ton reduction in payload when its first and last cargos of December were compared.

For the year, coal loadings at Lake Superior terminals totaled 15 million tons, a decrease of 62,000 tons compared to 2012. Overseas coal exports from Superior Midwest Energy Terminal in Superior, Wisconsin, totaled 1,381,000 tons in 2013, a 38,000-ton increase compared to 2012.

Coal loadings out of Chicago, Illinois, totaled 2.9 million tons in 2013, a decrease of 11.4 percent or 370,000 tons compared to 2012. Coal loadings at Lake Erie docks totaled 6.7 million tons, a decrease of 4 percent or 280,000 tons compared to 2012.

Lake Carriers Association


Port Reports -  January 23

St. Marys River
Wednesday night the downbound Algocanda, tug Victory and her barge James L. Kuber and the USCG icebreaker Mackinaw were stopped for the night in the vicinity of Nine Mile Point. Arthur M. Anderson was inbound at DeTour bound for the Carbide Dock to unload coal.

Straits of Mackinac - Robert Bemben
Algomarine, upbound on northern Lake Michigan, became beset in ice around 10 a.m. Wednesday after making a run into the ice field near Lansing Shoal. The USCG cutter Mobile Bay departed St. Ignace late Wednesday afternoon, presumably to assist the Algomarine and likely the Philip R. Clarke as well. The Clarke was upbound on Lake Michigan off the Door Peninsula Wednesday evening with an AIS destination of Ashtabula. The CG Mobile Bay was spending the night stationary in the ice field just NE of Hog Island. Thursday morning, the CG Mobile Bay will likely cut a 25-mile track west, towards the two lakers, and escort them eastbound to the Mackinaw Bridge, some 45 nautical miles away.

Sturgeon Bay, Wis.
Wilfred Sykes docked for winter lay-up at Bay Ship Wednesday morning.

Goderich, Ont.
On January 12, the Calumet reported a fracture on the port side of its hull. Repairs were carried out alongside the berth. No injuries or pollution reported.

Lake St. Clair
On January 18, the tug Stormont ran aground on Lake St. Clair off Windsor, Ont. The vessel was assisted by a tug and was refloated. No damage, injuries, or pollution reported.

Colchester, Ont.
On January 19 the tug Leonard M sustained a failure of its starboard side main engine while pushing the barge Huron Spirit on Lake Erie off Colchester, Ont. The tug and barge were beset in ice; the crew is awaiting the delivery of a tool in order to make the repairs. No injuries or pollution reported.


Coast Guard warning residents of ice-breaking activities in Ludington

1/23 - Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. – The Coast Guard is alerting residents, particularly ice fishermen and other recreational users of Pere Marquette Lake, of ice-breaking activities scheduled to begin Friday and last one week. The nearest towns to Pere Marquette Lake are Ludington and Scottville, Mich.

The tug Spartan and barge Spartan II, assisted by the tug Manitou, are scheduled to transit through Pere Marquette Lake for cargo deliveries Jan. 24-31. The tugs and barge will make two transits, stopping at Ludington’s Occidental Chemical Facility. All ice fishermen should remove their ice shanties and equipment from these areas.

Recreational users of the ice should plan their activities carefully, avoid shipping channels and use caution near these areas of operation.



Fact trumps rumors on Carbide Dock cargo pile

1/23 - Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. – Working quickly to get in front of the rumor mill, Acting City Manager Robin Troyer provided assurances that the large black piles at the Carbide Dock are comprised of metallurgical coal destined to be trucked to Essar Steel.

A vocal contingent of city residents began spreading the word over the weekend that petroleum coke had been delivered and made a convincing case with their false claims. Going beyond identifying the controversial substance early Monday morning, they were warning that even more was destined for the Sault and hinted at a pending environmental catastrophe.

Troyer indicated that there are no health or safety issues related to the use of the Carbide Dock for coal shipments and further allied any fears by saying that pet coke is not a product Essar Steel uses.

“This is what happens with rumors,” said Commissioner Bill Lynn, “because that’s exactly what it was.” Lynn also noted the Carbide Dock is zoned as industrial and, as a result, the off-loading and subsequent transport of coal is one of the acceptable uses. The City of Sault Ste. Marie collects a fee when the dock is used and all of that money is placed in a special fund designated for future improvements and repairs.

Essar Steel requested use of the Carbide Dock after the early onset of ice made it difficult, if not impossible, for the coal shipments to come into the steel plant, according to Troyer’s background information. The original plan was for the coal to be shipped by truck over the International Bridge to its final destination roughly from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day, but the Sault Ste. Marie City Commission unanimously approved a measure Monday evening, allowing the trucking company to work 24/7 on the project.

“The sooner we get it out of there the better,” said Mayor Anthony Bosbous after the commission approved round-the-clock transport.

Troyer provided more assurances under questioning, saying a berm system had already been installed to contain salt shipments at the site and it would be effective in containing the coal as well.

Bosbous also noted that the folks at Essar Steel have been very accommodating and have pledged to clean the site up to the city’s satisfaction once the coal is removed.

Soo Evening News


Locks maintenance work planned during shipping break

1/23 - Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is planning maintenance work on the navigational lock system at Sault Ste. Marie, which has shut down for the winter. The Soo Locks closed last week, halting most cargo shipping on the Great Lakes. They’ll reopen in mid-March.

The Army corps says its crews will install hydraulic pump units for the Poe Lock operating gates and make other improvements and repairs.

Vessels make more than 4,500 trips through the locks annually, hauling 80 million tons of freight including iron ore, coal, limestone and grain.

The Lake Carriers Association represents 17 American companies that operate 57 U.S.-flag vessels on the Great Lakes. The organization says its members will spend $70 million tuning up the fleet during the winter break.

Soo Evening News


Council to decide museum ship Norgoma's fate

1/23 - Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. – The non-profit entity that runs the Norgoma tourist attraction wants to keep its operation afloat. And while the Norgoma has had its ups and downs in recent year, the St. Marys River Marine Heritage Centre is keeping its head above water, a financial statement will show city council next month.

Last week, council received an information report with options it must consider if it wants to cut ties with the downtown tourist site.

The city provides annual funding of $15,000 to the Norgoma and council's five year commitment was extended last year for one more year, providing the operators with a chance to make something of the venue. And some success has been realized, said Ward 3 Coun. Brian Watkins, who also sits as a member on the board of directors.

“The cheapest option for the city and our taxpayers is to continue to run the Norgoma with the $15,000 from the budget,” Watkins said. Watkins said the 2013 operational season saw a 35 per cent increase in visits.

The Norgoma is also part of the downtown cultural corridor and is packaged with other tourist locations, also helping with its growth, he said.

“It's still in the infancy and there is room to grow but we've had a number of groups and boards and committees booking for events and meetings and that's new to us,” Watkins said.

In recent years, the St. Marys River Marine Heritage Centre has spent $50,000 on upgrading the facility and Watkins said it's the only activity that is showcased from the city's waterfront. “There is a presence, a culture there that we need to maintain and preserve,” he said.

Last year, the St. Marys River Marine Heritage Centre also requested continued funding and sharing of resources, something city staff has recommended against. The St. Marys River Marine Heritage Centre will make a presentation to the board at a February council meeting.

At that time, council will decide the fate of the Norgoma, including the option of halting funding and cutting ties with the group. Options to cut ties with the docked ship were also examined briefly last year.

The report to council recommends that that area be dredged and the Norgoma moved off site to a ship breaking yard for demolition. It's estimated the procedure would cost between $200,000 to $300,000.

Other mitigating factors for that option include the least amount of involvement by the city, reduced exposure to environmental liability, partial dredging of the marina for improved options and significantly less disturbance to the surrounding site, the report reads.

It's also anticipated that this option would allow the city to dredge the entire marina to a desired depth while the docks are temporarily removed.

Other options from the city’s consultant, STEM Engineering Group, include demolishing the Norgoma on-site at a cost of about $500,000 or partially demolishing the upper portion on site and then removing the remaining portion to a ship breaking yard. That option is expected to cost between $200,000 to $240,000.

Consultants conclude that the costs associated with decommissioning and removing the Norgoma would exceed its salvage value.

The Norgoma was built in 1950 as a steamship and was used to transport passengers and cargo between Owen Sound and Sault Ste. Marie for 13 years. In 1975 it was purchased by the city for $1 to be used as a museum ship and the ownership was later transferred to the non-profit corporation established as the St. Marys River Marine Centre in 1981. The Norgoma was named a historic site in 2011 with a plaque unveiling at the waterfront location in September 2011.

In an email to council, MP Bryan Hayes said he has not been approached formally for any funding requests specific to the Norgoma and he doesn't know if any are available but would explore options if formally asked.

He notes there are no guarantees of funding but that being said, considering the federal government under Parks Canada does have a stake in this in consideration of the plaque that was dedicated, perhaps it would be appropriate to at least advise the federal government of your intent in the event there are any implications from the federal perspective, he writes.

Sault Star


Lookback #67 – Captain M. Lyras arrived at scrapyard on January 23, 1983

1/23 - Captain M. Lyras was originally a Liberian registered general cargo carrier with some limited refrigerated cargo space. It was reflagged to Greece in 1960 and first came to the Great Lakes for a single trip that year. It returned again in 1963 for Evermia Cia Naviera S.A.

The 500 foot, 4 inch long vessel could carry 13,727 tons of cargo deadweight and had been built by Brodogradiliste 3 Maj. in Rijeka, Yugoslavia, in 1958.

The ship was still registered in Greece when renamed Angeliki L. in 1964 and was back through the Seaway the next year. It became Anamaria in 1972, still Greek flag, and then moved to Panamanian registry a decade later.

The former Seaway Salty was laid up at Jebel Ali, Dubai, on August 29, 1982, and sold for scrap the following year. It arrived at Gadani Beach, Pakistan, 31 years ago today. Scrapping of the hull commenced on February 20, 1983, and the dismantling of the 25-year old former Great Lakes trader was done by Tarakkal Ltd.

Skip Gillham


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.

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.


Port Reports -  January 22

St. Marys River
Victory and her barge James L. Kuber were unloading another coal cargo at the Carbide Dock Tuesday. Arthur M. Anderson was entering the lower St. Clair River Tuesday night, also headed to the Soo with coal.

Lake Michigan
Wilfred Sykes was off Algoma, Wis., Tuesday night, headed for Sturgeon Bay and layup.

Straits of Mackinac - Robert Bemben
In keeping with the Coast Guard’s announced mission to keep the Straits of Mackinac open to shipping all winter, the CG cutter Mobile Bay remains on station north of Hog Island. Keeping the Straits open also means keeping a large stretch of northern Lake Michigan open to Lansing Shoal and beyond. On Monday morning, the CG Mobile Bay escorted the Algomarine westbound, and its next escort will likely be the Algosteel, which is westbound. The typical approach is to let a westbound laker make a run down the track until they slow to a stop, which in recent weeks has been in ice windrows just west of White Shoal Light. Then they are freed from the ice and escorted the rest of the way. In escorting the Algomarine, the CG cutter Mobile Bay must have encountered tough ice just west of Whiskey Island, and it deviated east for an easier track. As the ice field thickens and expands in the latest influx of Arctic air, escorts are going further distances well south of Lansing Shoal.


Sault, Ont. museum ship Norgoma likely to be scrapped

1/22 - Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. – The former Owen Sound-based package freighter turned museum ship Norgoma is likely to be broken up as Sault Ste. Marie city council weighs options to abandon ship.

The former passenger ferry was purchased by the City of Sault Ste. Marie for a dollar in 1975. Docked at Roberta Bondar Marina near Foster Drive, the museum ship draws little tourism traffic and finds few allies at city hall willing to keep it afloat.

Annual Sault Ste. Marie funding of $15,000 for St. Marys River Marine Heritage Centre was supposed to end in 2012. But the group responsible to operate the vessel asked for, and received, an extra year’s boatload of dollars last spring. At the same time, council asked how the city could cut its nearly 40-year ties with the ferry.

A report from STEM Engineering offers three suggestions. The Norgoma could be demolished on site. Estimated cost is more than $500,000. Or, the Norgoma could be partially demolished at its current location and then tugged to a ship breaking yard for demolition. Estimated cost is $200,000 to $240,000. Or, the marina docks could be removed, the marina basin around the Norgoma’s stern dredged and the ferry brought by tug to a shipbreaking yard. This choice could cost $200,000 to $300,000.

STEM Engineering recommends the city opt for the third possibility.

“The option is comparable in price to the option with the lowest estimated cost, but has the benefit of least involvement by the city, reduced exposure to environmental liability, partial dredging of the marina for improved operations and significantly less disturbance to the surrounding site,” reads the document.

In his report to council, commissioner of community services Nick Apostle says the third option would also allow the city “to dredge the entire marina to desired depths while the docks are temporarily removed:’

The engineering firm mentions another possible fate for the Norgoma. It could be turned over to Grand Traverse Bay Underwater Preserve for use as a dive site. Only brief contact was made with the Michigan preserve’s past president.

The preserve features seven vessels and a car. “Depending on the requirements of the GTBUP the ship may need to have all hazardous material removed before the GTBUP would be willing to take ownership of it,” the report says.

“More discussions with the GTBUP are required to determine their interest in the project and what level of participation they would have in the removal costs:’ The Norgoma contains lead paint, asbestos and potential ozone depleting refrigerants in the galley refrigerator.

Built in Collingwood 1950, the Norgoma carried passengers and cargo between Owen Sound and the Soo for 13 years. Highway improvements made the route less profitable and it was refitted for car ferry service between Tobermory and South Baymouth, which it started in 1964 alongside the Norisle. The two ships were replaced by the much larger Chi-Cheemaun in 1974.

Owen Sound Sun Times.


Badger 2014 sailing season announced; work begins on combustion control system

1/22 - Ludington, Mich. – The Lake Michigan Carferry S.S. Badger has announced the following schedule for this season: Start of season May 16 (Friday); Start of doubles: June 6 (Friday); End of doubles: September 2 (Tuesday); End of season: October 26 (Sunday).

Shoreline cruises are scheduled as follows: May 31 - Manitowoc Shoreline Cruise; June 7 - Ludington Shoreline Cruise; July 4 - Fourth of July Shoreline Cruise. Reservations available in the spring.

At this time, LMC is making progress implementing a modern combustion control system for the boilers aboard the S. S. Badger. The new combustion system will allow the ship to be more efficient - burning less coal and generating less ash. At this time, we have started receiving components for the boilers combustion control system.

The Marine Shop "Winter Gang" is making good progress in the preparations for installing the Badger's new combustion controls. The stokers have been removed from all four boilers and we are ready to tackle removing the boiler fronts.


Lookback #66 – Former Seaway trader Ingrid Weide stranded on January 22, 1976

1/22 - The newly-built Ingrid Weide began Great Lakes trading in 1953. The 259-foot-long West German freighter had been completed at Hamburg during October 1953, and visited the Great Lakes before the navigation season ended.

During an early trip inland, the vessel was bound for Muskegon, Michigan, but missed that port and arrived at Grand Haven to the south. A U.S. Coast Guard vessel provided an escort back to Muskegon. The ship was also a regular user of the newly-built St. Lawrence Seaway making 23 trips up bound in the waterway from 1959 through 1965.

Sold and renamed Deneb in 1968, the vessel operated under the flag of Italy and then, beginning in early 1976, as Deneb B. with registry in Cyprus.

The latter did not sail long as it stranded at Borkum Island, West Germany, 38 years ago today, during a voyage from Arklow, Ireland, to Emden, West Germany, with a cargo of stone. The hull broke in two the next day and eventually sank. All on board were rescued.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  January 22

News Photo Gallery
Lay-up list updated


Today in Great Lakes History -  January 22

The c.) WOODLAND, a.) FRENCH RIVER) was sold to International Capital Equipment of Canada and cleared 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.


Port Reports -  January 21

St. Marys River
The tug Victory and her barge were upbound in the lower river Monday night headed for the Carbide Dock with coal eventually consigned to Essar Steel, they were assisted by the USCG Mackinaw. The tug Wilfred M. Cohen and the Anglian Lady with barge have been struggling to get up the river.

Escanaba, Mich.
Joyce L. Van Enkevort and Great Lakes Trader were loading taconite Monday night. Philip R. Clarke was downbound on Lake Michigan with destination of Gary, Ind., listed. Algomarine was headed to Milwaukee with salt. Wilfred Sykes was unloading at Indiana Harbor, after which she is expected to head to layup at Sturgeon Bay.

Toledo, Ohio – Jim Hoffman
The CCGS Samuel Risley escorted the Barbara Andrie and the Meredith Ashton with her barge through the Toledo Ship Channel Monday. The cargo was a Knockout Drum for BP's refinery expansion. The drum was manufactured in Oklahoma and transloaded onto a heavy-lift barge in South Chicago.


U.S.-flag fleets plan to invest more than $70 million in their vessels this winter

1/21 - Cleveland, Ohio – After a season in which U.S.-flag lakers will have sailed more than 2,500,000 miles and carried nearly 90 million tons of cargo, a $70-plus million tune-up awaits the fleet. One ship arrived in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, to undergo conversion to a barge in early November, but the bulk of the fleet began tying up at their winter berths starting in late December and the final lay-ups will come in short order now that the locks at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, are closed. Upwards of 1,200 shipyard workers then will labor virtually non-stop to ready the vessels for the 2014 season that will begin in mid-March.

Despite the challenges that winter weather presents in the Great Lakes region, the first quarter of the year is the prime time for maintaining and modernizing vessels. Vessels have to operate 24/7 during the season to meet the needs of commerce, so the closing of the Soo Locks means employment at Great Lakes shipyards is about to peak.

The steel industry is Great Lakes shipping’s largest customer, so it is perhaps fitting that steel is the primary material used in maintaining and modernizing the fleet each year. This winter approximately 1,100 tons of steel will be used to renew sections of hulls and cargo holds. The various grades of steel used in vessels must meet exacting standards set by the American Bureau of Shipping and so must be ordered months in advance.

While the Lakes freshwater environment is gentle on vessels, U.S. law requires lakers be dry-docked at regularly scheduled intervals so the U.S. Coast Guard and American Bureau of Shipping can examine the hull below the waterline. Massive concrete and wooden blocks are positioned in the drydock and support the vessel once the chamber has been drained. Several vessels will undergo out-of-water inspections this winter.

Much attention will be paid to the vessels massive engines, some capable of generating nearly 20,000 horsepower. The engines are shut down only long enough to load and discharge cargo during the late March/mid-January shipping season, so must be primed for nearly continuous operation. Navigation, fire fighting and lifesaving equipment will also be carefully checked.

The major shipyards on the Lakes are located in Sturgeon Bay and Superior, Wisconsin; Erie, Pennsylvania; and Toledo, Ohio. Smaller top-side repair operations are located in Cleveland, Ohio; Escanaba, Michigan; Buffalo, New York; and several cities in Michigan. The industry’s annual payroll approaches $50 million and it is estimated that additional $800,000 in economic activity is generated per vessel in the community in which it is wintering.

Great Lakes shipyards made a number of improvements during the year to better service the fleet this winter. One yard in Wisconsin added a 7,000-ton floating drydock. Another yard in Wisconsin continued to add hundreds of feet of sheet pile berthing dock to allow it to service more vessels.

Communities far from the Lakes also benefit from the winter work program. Hundreds of feet of high-strength conveyor belts for the vessels unloading systems are being manufactured in Marysville, Ohio, and new galley ranges to feed the crew of 23 on a 1,000-foot-long vessel are being produced in Smithsville, Tennessee.

Over the course of the season, about 1,600 men and women work on U.S.-flag lakers. Some will assist with maintenance of the vessels during the winter. Others will upgrade their skills at classes sponsored by their employers and unions.

Lake Carriers Association


Historic St. Clair Inn has closed

1/21 - St. Clair, Mich. – After opening its doors 88 years ago, the St. Clair Inn has closed. Glenn Staley, the inn's general manager, said Saturday was the last day in operation.

"We had to give up," he said. Staley said the closure was due to a lack of support from the community. "It's a sad thing for this city," he said. The inn went into foreclosure in August. The six-month redemption period ends Feb. 9.

The redemption period allows the current owners, St. Clair Inn LLC, a chance to get up-to-date on payments for the property. St. Clair Inn LLC owes more than $95,000 in taxes, $2.1 million to the bank plus about $355 in interest per day since the foreclosure Aug. 8.

Port Huron Times Herald


Brent Michaels funeral information

1/21 - The funeral will be at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, January 21st at The Evangelical Covenant Church (or simply, The Covenant Church) which is located at 3424 E US Hwy 23 in Cheboygan, MI. (approximately 2 miles east of town; be cautious with GPS/online maps which sometimes give a wrong location). There will be visitation from 10-11 immediately before the service.  Click here for more information


LOOKBACK #65 – MacGilvray Shiras on the loose at Buffalo on January 21, 1959

1/21 - Gale force winds and a winter storm resulted in an unusually heavy current flowing in the Buffalo River 55 years ago today. Soon after nightfall, the steamer MacGilvray Shiras, moored for the winter, broke loose and drifted down the river.

Two other laid up bulk carriers, Merton E. Farr and Michael K. Tewksbury, were struck with the latter also getting loose. Efforts to raise the Michigan Ave. bridge were unsuccessful and the structure was hit, heavily damaged and eventually had to be demolished.

The fate of the MacGilvray Shiras, a Kinsman Transit steamship, was no better. The 440 foot long, 55-year member of the Kinsman fleet was declared beyond economical repair and arrived at Hamilton, under tow, in June 1959 for scrapping by the Steel Co. of Canada.

The other two ships involved in the escapade were later sold to Canadian interests with Merton E. Farr becoming Nixon Berry in the Misener fleet and Michael K. Tewksbury sailing for Quebec & Ontario Transportation as their second Outarde.


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.


Port Reports -  January 20

Straits of Mackinac - Robert Bemben
With the Soo Locks closed, iron ore traffic has shifted to Escanaba. Other than the various Algoma lakers escorted across the Straits on Friday, traffic has been very quiet. Gale warnings were posted for all of Lake Michigan Sunday as a strong cold front moves through followed by several days of single-digit arctic chill that will consolidate the ice. The USCG icebreaker Mackinaw is moored at the State Dock in Mackinaw City for the third day.

Escanaba, Mich.
Wilfred Sykes and Great Lakes Trader spent most of Sunday at the shiploader. By early evening, the Sykes was headed downbound for Indiana Harbor, escorted by the tug Erika Kobasic.

Sturgeon Bay, Wis. - Mitch Custer
James R. Barker arrived in Sturgeon Bay Sunday for winter lay-up. It took two tries to get through the Old Steel Bridge downtown (also known as the Michigan Street Bridge).


Most Great Lakes shipping frozen over for the winter

1/20 - Escanaba, Mich. – While the winter season shows no signs of letting up, shipping on the Great Lakes has slowed down considerably. The Soo Locks in Sault Ste. Marie were closed Wednesday and will not reopen until March 25, according to Randy Elliott, vessel traffic manager for the U.S. Coast Guard in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.

"That does not end the shipping season, but it certainly curtails much of the shipping," he said.

As part of the locks' closure, one of the Coast Guard's missions is finding ships a pier to dock at, or to lay up, as the vast majority of ships are tied up for the winter, said Elliott.

"Everything quiets down because nature has told the shipping industry over many, many years, that it's a difficult time to run," he noted of the winter season.

Most ships that trade on the Great Lakes go to lay up at or near a shipyard for maintenance and repairs so they are ready to start back up again come spring.

Despite the locks' closure through the end of March, Elliott said waters such as the Green Bay waterway into Escanaba, the Straits of Mackinac, and St. Marys River remain open all winter long, but see limited traffic.

There is also some limited tanker traffic that continues on the Great Lakes over the next few months, with ships transporting fuel, diesel, and gasoline, but that is down to only a fraction of what shipping had been just one week ago, said Elliott.

As for the biggest struggle facing the Coast Guard with the shipping season slow-down? "As we approach the close of the shipping season, this is the worst ice we've seen in 20 years," said Elliott.

He noted that many times the Coast Guard does not dispatch icebreakers until the beginning of January, but this year they started around Dec. 9 - close to a month earlier than usual.

Elliott suspects the 2013 shipping season is comparative to 2012, but noted iron ore was likely down overall.

Glen Nekvasil, vice president of the Lake Carriers' Association (LCA), a trade organization that represents U.S.-flag vessel operators on the Great Lakes, said in general, iron ore trade on the Great Lakes was down a bit from 2012, which he attributes in part due to the early, harsh winter causing many delays in December. On the other hand, shipments out of Escanaba were up from previous years, he said.

According to a press release issued by the LCA, shipments of iron ore on the Great Lakes totaled 58.3 million tons in 2013, down 5.3 percent from 2012.

The totals account for the Great Lakes and seaway ports of Escanaba and Presque Isle, Mich.; Duluth, Two Harbors, and Silver Bay, Minn.; Superior, Wis., and Cleveland, Ohio; as well as the Canadian seaway ports of Pointe Noire, Port Cartier, and Sept Iles, Quebec.

Shipments from U.S. only Great Lakes ports totaled 51.8 million tons in 2013, down 3.5 percent from a year ago. Shipments from Canadian ports to Great Lakes destinations totaled 6.5 million tons in 2013 - down 18.2 percent from 2012.

The LCA said, in total, the trade had been significantly behind 2012's pace through November, but the gap grew significantly when an early and harsh start to winter limited total shipments to just 5.1 million tons in December - a decrease of 20 percent from last year.

In Escanaba, 3.7 million tons of iron ore was shipped in 2013 - more than the 2.7 million tons shipped in 2012, but down slightly from its 2008-2012 average of 3.8 million tons and its highest year in recent memory of 5.3 million tons in 2008.

The Daily Press


Lookback #64 – William Nottingham aground on January 20, 1907

1/20 - A ferocious winter storm struck Buffalo with reported winds of 84 mph, and flooding 107 years ago today. Numerous ships broke loose, and when the winds and high water subsided the five-year-old bulk carrier William Nottingham was aground a quarter mile from the river. The 400-foot-long steamer was high and dry. A channel had to be dug to refloat the ship and bring it back to the shipping lane.

William Nottingham had been built at Buffalo in 1902 and was part of the United States Transportation Co. It moved to the Great Lakes Steamship Company, when the latter was formed in 1911, and remained in their colors to the end of World War II.

This ship was part of a trade of obsolete tonnage with the United States Maritime Commission in 1943 that resulted in two of the new Maritime Class bulk carriers, J. Burton Ayers and J.H. Hillman Jr., moving to the G.L.S.S. Co. William Nottingham was chartered back to Great Lakes for the duration of the war and then retired.

In 1946, the vessel was sold to the Steel Company of Canada, towed to Hamilton, and broken up for scrap. Meanwhile, the two Maritimers that joined G.L.S.S. are still with us. The J. Burton Ayers continues to sail as Cuyahoga while the mid-body and bow of the J.H. Hillman Jr. form part of the Algoma Transfer.

Ship Gillham


Updates -  January 20

News Photo Gallery
Lay-up list updated


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.


Port Reports -  January 19

St. Marys River
Ashtabula and Defiance were in the Nine Mile Anchorage Saturday night.

Escanaba, Mich.
Wildred Sykes was loading Saturday night. Great Lakes Trader arrived to load earlier in the day.

Erie, Pa. - Gene Polaski
CSL Laurentian arrived in Erie harbor about 9 a.m. Saturday from anchor. She proceeded through open water to her dock space at DonJon Shipyard and just fit into the slip next to the McKee Sons, which has been there since last winter. The temperature was 17F with a light wind and light snow.

Port Colborne, Ont. – Denny Dushane
Whitefish Bay arrived early this afternoon the 18th and was secured at Wharf 18-2 Port Colborne Fuel Dock. Also earlier Saturday the Baie Comeau arrived at the Southeast Wall Lock 8 during the afternoon for winter lay-up.


Great Lakes see sizable gains in water levels over 2013

1/19 - Macomb County, Mich. — The Great Lakes have come closer than they have in years to returning to their long-term average water levels, thanks to 2013’s wet weather, according to hydrologists with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Lake Erie rose 4 inches from December 2012 to December 2013, the Lake Michigan-Huron system rose 11 inches, and Lake St. Clair was up 8 inches, according to Jim Lewis, hydraulic engineer with the Corps of Engineers.

“It was a really wet year in 2013,” Lewis said. “For example, the Michigan-Huron level stayed steady from October to November this fall, and that time of year is when it’s at its deepest decline.”

NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Lab Hydrologist Drew Gronewald said the lake levels in Erie, Superior and Michigan-Huron — which is counted as one lake system — dropped around 1998, and did not change much for the ensuing decade.

“The water levels on all the Great Lakes go up and down over a variety of different timescales,” he said. “For example, the natural range on Michigan and Huron is around 2 meters, or six feet.”

That stability ended in 2012, however, due to a dry winter and ensuing drought, he said. The aftermath saw lake levels drop to record lows. The long-term data showed the last time they had dropped that low was in the 1960s, Gronewald said.

“Water temperatures were very high and we had above-average evaporation rates, which led to precipitous drop in water levels,” Gronewald said of 2012. “It was unprecedented. Lake Erie has never failed to rise in the spring, but it did that year because of drought.”

Lewis said the standard lake cycle sees water levels decline in the fall and winter before getting boosted back up in the spring and summer from precipitation and the snowpack melting. The snowfall in early 2013, coupled with the rest of the year seeing above-average rainfall even into the typically drier October and November seasons, brought water levels close to where they should be.

Gronewald said that January tends to be the point where the lakes are at their lowest in the entire year, but they have recovered to the point they were all at two years ago, before the drought.

Additionally, Lewis said that while it is difficult to guess what will happen down the line, the Corps is forecasting that the lakes will, at the least, likely stay where they currently are through June, in terms of water levels.

Lewis said that if precipitation is reasonably strong, it is possible that Lake St. Clair and Lake Erie could hit or exceed their long-term average amounts of water within that six-month span, as both are near that point already. The Lake Michigan-Huron system is 14 inches below its long-term average, however, and will take more time and precipitation to return.

Precipitation is only one factor in the water levels in the lakes, Lewis said. Evaporation is an issue that the lakes face throughout the year, but the temperature difference between the water and air can help slow it down or exacerbate it.

Evaporation occurs in the winter when colder air moves across warmer water, he said, but if a layer of ice develops, it will slow down evaporation.

“In a given winter, you may have a bunch of evaporation from the cold air, but you also may develop a lot of ice, so it’s not always easy to identify,” Lewis said. “If we do have a lot of ice as it gets into spring and early summer, the water temperature stays cooler. That can influence the next fall, as the water stays the lower temperature and doesn’t evaporate as much.”

Gronewald said the water levels in the Great Lakes have a very limited impact on inland rivers and lakes, though those can see their own water levels impacted by the same meteorological trends.

“The regional climate factors that draw the flow in the tributaries of the lakes and the inland lakes are similar across certain special scales, but the lakes themselves don’t have that much of an effect, in terms of near-shore hydrology into the rivers and lakes,” Gronewald said. “But they do have impact on the climate of the region, in terms of how moisture leaves the lake into the air and into the rest of the system — like the lake-effect snow.”

He said smaller lakes could have a different material as a lakebed, such as a bed of clay, which impacts how water gets out of the lake and into the ground, as well.

“Not necessarily everything is different, but there is a lot of variability on what can affect smaller lakes,” Gronewald said.

C & G News


Obituary: Brent Michaels

1/19 - Brent Michaels, former chief engineer on the original U.S.C.G. Mackinaw, passed away suddenly at Northern Michigan Hospital in Petoskey, Mich., on January 18 from cardiac arrest after a short stay in hospital. He was a week shy of his 62nd birthday.

Brent grew up in Flint and enlisted in the Coast Guard in 1969, working his way through the ranks to become a chief engineer. He served on a number of Coast Guard vessels on saltwater and around the lakes before his retirement as a Lt. Commander after 30 years of service. He was living in Cheboygan, Mich., at the time of his passing.

Brent was the son of the late Paul and Lois Michaels, and his dad was a well-known marine photographer. He and his brother Jon Paul spent many weekends with their dad under the Bluewater Bridge photographing lakers and the saltwater visitors to our shores.

Brent and Jon Paul co-authored “Collision Under The Bridge,” the story of the sinking of the Sidney E. Smith Jr. following its collision with the Parker Evans on June 5, 1972. The well-illustrated book was published in 2008. They were collaborating on another book on the “Consort Barges” when Brent passed away.

Brent was a great fan of "Boatnerd" and contributed on a regular basis as "Chief" on the Information Page. He is survived by his wife Pamela, three children and five grandsons, as well as his brother Jon Paul. Funeral arrangements are pending.

Skip Gillham


Obituary: William A. Moss

1/19 - William A. Moss, 70, passed away peacefully at his home in Silver Point, Tenn., after a short illness. He was born in 1943 and grew up near the river in Detroit. He was a proud graduate of Cass Tech High School and earned a degree in Fine Arts from Wayne State University. He was retired from a career as an Architectural Delineator and professional artist. He was well known for his painting of local Detroit buildings and Great Lakes ships.

Mr. Moss was active at the Dossin Great Lakes Museum from the time he was a teenager until he moved to Tennessee, and still continued his support of the museum at its various fundraisers. He is well known for the model he created of the D & C sidewheel steamer Greater Detroit, which he and artist Bob McGreevy built together when they were in high school. One of his drawings of the St. Marys Challenger was featured in Chris Winters’ book, "Centennial, Steaming Through the American Century."

He has been cremated and will be interred in the family plot in Tennessee in a private service. He is survived by a sister and his niece and nephews.


Lookback #63 – Former Elmbay aground off Brazil on January 19, 1967

1/19 - The Bay Line Navigation Co., later the Tree Line Navigation Co., had several ships engaged in Great Lakes trading from about 1922 until the remaining units were sold to Canada Steamship Lines in 1937.

Their Elmbay had been built at St. Nazaire, France, in 1919 and first operated by the French Government in coastal and English Channel runs as Perceur. It was renamed Nantes in 1922 and came to Canada in 1923 to become Elmbay.

The latter carried grain for Ogilvie Mills, as well as some coal, sugar, pulpwood and package freight. The 230-foot-long steamship joined C.S.L. in 1937 but was sold to Brazilian interests in 1942 and left the Great Lakes for South American service.

Renamed Siderurgica Dois in 1942 and Simansur in 1956, the vessel kept active in coastal trading. The ship ran aground forty-seven years ago today near Barra Grande, a beautiful area in Maranhao province of Northern Brazil. Simansur was traveling in ballast from the two Brazilian ports of Belem, at the entrance to the Amazon River, to Chaval, Ceara province when it stranded. The crew abandoned ship on January 22, 1967, and the vessel was a total loss.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  January 19

Lay-up list updated


Today in Great Lakes History -  January 19

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

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.

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.


Great Lakes iron ore trade down 5.3 percent in 2013

1/18 - Cleveland, Ohio – Shipments of iron ore on the Great Lakes totaled 58.3 million tons in 2013, a decrease of 5.3 percent from 2012. While the trade had been slightly behind 2012’s pace through November, the gap grew significantly when an early and harsh start to winter limited shipments to 5.1 million tons in December, a decrease of 20 percent compared to a year ago. There were weather-related delays at loadings docks and vessels were either slowed by or beset in heavy ice.

Shipments from U.S. Great Lakes ports totaled 51.8 million tons in 2013, a decrease of 3.5 percent compared to a year ago. December loadings were again almost 20 below the level of a year ago. Another factor affecting shipments from Lake Superior ports was a voluntary reduction in loaded drafts toward the end of the month to facilitate transits of an ice-clogged stretch of the St. Marys River. Some companies reduced loaded drafts by more than a foot between Christmas and New Years. For a 1,000-foot-long vessel, that reduced draft translated into 4,000 tons of taconite pellets left at the loading dock.

Shipments from Canadian ports to Great Lakes destinations totaled 6.5 million tons in 2013, a decrease of 18.2 percent compared to 2012. Heavy ice developed in the Seaway and that segment of the iron ore trade was down nearly 27 percent in December.

Lake Carriers Association


Port Reports -  January 18

St. Marys River - T. Parker
Robert S. Pierson laid up Friday at Essar Steel in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. Ashtabula/Defiance were at the Carbide Dock on the Michigan side unloading coal.

Escanaba, Mich.
Paul R. Tregurtha was loading taconite Friday, with Wilfred Sykes waiting to load.

Straits of Mackinac - Robert Bemben
The USCG cutter Mackinaw entered the Straits via Round Island passage early Thursday evening. While still east of the passage it was hailed by the tug Barbara Andrie, which was sitting in ice just north of the track line near the bridge. The Mackinaw noted that it was running into 6 to 12 inch plate ice. The few lakers still attempting to transit are still getting stuck west of the bridge. Algoeast was beset in ice just WSW of St. Helena Island, about 8 miles west of the bridge. By 5 p.m. the USCG Biscayne Bay was escorting the Algoeast to Lansing Shoal. She eventually was downbound on Lake Michigan. The Biscayne Bay was heading to the St. Marys River, since the USCG Mobile Bay, called up from Sturgeon Bay, Wis., was taking over icebreaking duty. Its mission is to free the three eastbound lakers – Algosteel, Algoma Olympic, Algomarine – that are beset in ice north of Hog Island.

Sturgeon Bay, Wis. - Wendell Wilke
The yard tug Bayship, along with Selvick tugs Susan L., Cameron O., Sharon M. Selvick and Jimmy L., assisted the Rt. Hon. Paul J. Martin out of drydock at Bay Shipbuilding during the morning Friday, while Selvick's Mary Page Hannah kept sweeping making the dockside winter berth ready for the Martin.


Ice-breaking to begin Monday between South Bass and Catawba islands on Lake Erie

1/18 - Detroit, Mich. – The Coast Guard is warning residents of southern Lake Erie islands that commercial ice-breaking operations are scheduled to take place Monday, and possibly Tuesday, between South Bass and Catawba islands.

Operations are scheduled to begin Monday at about 1 a.m. when the tug Ohio departs Cleveland and transits to South Bass Island between Kellys and Middle islands.

At about 10 a.m., the Ohio will then depart South Bass Island from Put-in-Bay, Ohio, and will be followed by the tug Bessie J, which will be towing one barge. All vessels will travel around the eastern part of South Bass Island toward the Miller Ferry Dock on Catawba Island and will utilize the Miller ferry route. The vessels plan to remain in Catawba Island for about two hours during loading operations.

At about 1 p.m., the vessels will depart Catawba Island and transit back to South Bass Island again by way of the ferry route. After unloading, they will then return to Cleveland.

Should a delay occur during loading operations, the vessels may need to remain overnight on Catawba Island. Departure to South Bass Island would then take place on Tuesday morning. Transit times and locations are subject to change based on weather conditions.


Early cold snap keeps cutters busy in the St. Clair River

1/18 - Seventeen crew members and one cat have spent more than a month — including Christmas and New Year’s — breaking through a frozen landscape.

The United States Coast Guard Cutter Neah Bay left its home port of Cleveland on Dec. 14, and hasn’t returned since because of an early onset of ice on Midwest waterways.

“At least in the couple seasons I’ve been on board, this has been significantly colder earlier in the year than I’ve seen in the past,” said Neah Bay Commanding Officer Molly Waters. “We’ve seen some pretty extraordinary ice conditions.”

The 140-foot Neah Bay is part of Operation Coal Shovel, a group of four ice breakers assigned to the Detroit and St. Clair rivers, and the western basin of Lake Erie.

Waters said the crew’s priority on the St. Clair River is to break ice to prevent flooding. But the vessel spends much of its time clearing the way for commercial traffic on the rivers.

Waters said the long time away from port and the loud rattle and shake of constant ice breaking takes its toll on the crew and the ship. “Ice breaking is a fairly violent industry, even in the sloppier brash we’re in right now,” Waters said.

The demand for a clear path through the broken piles of ice turns what should be a 12-hour day into a 16- or 18-hour battle against the ice. “It’s been an icy year,” Boatswain Mate Second Class Mike Klopp said.

It’s not just any old ice that’s clogging the St. Clair River. It’s brash ice, or broken ice, that swallows the cutter’s path almost as soon as it’s made.

Ice breakers on the St. Mary’s River connecting Lake Superior with Lake Huron typically deal with plate ice, which holds a path better after it’s cut, Klopp said. “Brash ice is much worse because it plugs up an area more than just plate ice,” Klopp said.

Fireman Zack Seyfried has spent about two years on the Neah Bay. The Great Lakes are a change of pace and temperature from his hometown of Pensacola, Fla.

“I went from no seasons and 70 and above all year round to minus 13 here,” Seyfried said. “I want to get back to warmer weather, that’s for sure.”

The crew has a full-time cook, workout equipment, berthing areas and the company of Casca, a Himalayan cat Waters rescued during a stint in Alaska.

With the Soo Locks closure Wednesday, the extended navigation season is over until March 25. But the Neah Bay still had work Wednesday, clearing the southeast bend of the St. Clair River for local traffic and the ships still trickling in from farther north.

The 33-year-old Neah Bay left Algonac shortly after 7 a.m. Wednesday, about an hour before sunrise. It broke its way into the river and headed south, where it began to loosen a path in the southeast bend of the St. Clair River.

Boatswain Mate Chief Matt Disco said the southeast bend is notorious for ice buildup. The Neah Bay breaks up that clog so ice continues flushing down the river into Lake St. Clair.

Passing vessels — like the Philip R. Clarke, Algosea and Algocanada — took advantage of the path cleared by the Neah Bay. Waters said the football-shaped hull of the Neah Bay breaks up the ice and leaves a wake that also helps to clear the brash.

The effort to widen and maintain a clear path through the St. Clair River is a constant struggle. But with a decrease in traffic after the Soo Locks closure, the Neah Bay crew hopes to return to Cleveland on Jan. 19.

“Christmas and New Year’s were canceled and so we spent those far away from home,” Waters said. “Hopefully, when we get home for maintenance period, we’ll be able to catch up with our families, get a little down time.”

Port Huron Times Herald


Lookback #62 – Former Minas Conjuro caught fire on January 18, 1983

1/18 - A Seaway salty under three different names caught fire and burned as a total loss thirty-one years ago today. The vessel was traveling between Recife, Brazil, and a Black Sea port when the blaze broke out while in the Ionian Sea, south of Italy.

The 554-foot, 6-inch-long bulk carrier had been built at Seville, Spain, and completed in June 1961 as Minas Conjuro. It traded on saltwater routes, under the flag of Spain, until coming through the Seaway for the first time in 1969. It returned inland as Eugenio in 1979 after being sold to the California Shipping Corp. and registered in Panama.

Another sale in 1980 found the ship operating for Rosa Naviera S.A., still Panamanian, as Kimoliaki Pistis and it came to the Great Lakes again in 1981.

After the fire, Kimoliaki Pistis was towed to Piraeus, Greece, arriving on January 27, 1983, and declared a total loss. Following a sale to Brodospas, the ship left, again under tow, for Split, Yugoslavia, on February 16, 1984, and arrived five days later for demolition.

Skip Gillham


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, is now 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.


Seaway concludes season with surge in grain shipments

1/17 - Cornwall, Ont. – For the second consecutive year, a surge in grain movements led to a strong finish for the St. Lawrence Seaway.

The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SLSMC) announced Thursday that the Seaway closed for the season on Jan. 1 with the eastbound vessel Orsula transiting the St. Lambert Lock in Montreal at 1:29 p.m. The last vessel to exit the Welland Canal was the CSL Laurentien, which transited Lock 8 at 3:38 p.m. the same day. Consequently, both sections of the Seaway were open for 286 days, given an opening date of March 22.

A relatively late harvest in the Prairies producing record-breaking volumes led to a delay in the movement of grain. Once the grain began to move, the Seaway played a key role in enabling farmers to move their crops to market, contributing to a surge in Seaway cargo during December. Despite the cold snap enveloping much of North America, a total of 4.4 million tonnes of cargo moved through the Seaway in December, exceeding last years December volume by 130,000 tonnes, and eclipsing the five year December average by some 20 percent.

“The record breaking crop proved to be both a bounty for farmers and a logistical challenge for the grain handling industry” said Terence Bowles, President and CEO of the SLSMC. “Once again, marine carriers moving grain through the Seaway proved to be an invaluable part of the transportation network, enabling farmers to reach markets that they may otherwise not have been able to profit from.

“While we had planned to close the season on December 30, the unusually cold weather brought about transit delays, necessitating an additional two days of operation. We are particularly proud of our employees who worked tirelessly during late December’s frigid conditions, to enable vessels to finish their transits.”

Seaway tonnage for the 2013 navigation season, which began on March 22, amounted to 37 million tonnes, some 5.3 percent lower than the volumes experienced in 2012. Despite the late season surge in grain, overall grain tonnage was down 3.2 percent in 2013 as much of the record crop was quite late. However, the high volumes of grain currently going into storage and the pent up demand for grain movements bodes well for the start of the Seaway’s 2014 navigation season.

The bright spot in the Seaway’s cargo mix was a 12 percent increase in liquid bulk, as double-hulled tankers moved volumes of petroleum distillates between distribution locations to smooth out inventory levels and ensure adequate supplies in key markets. In other sectors, iron ore was down 4 percent, reflecting the challenging climate within the North American steel industry. Reduced imports of steel products contributed to a 20 percent decline in break-bulk cargo. Movements of dry bulk were down 12 percent as reduced construction activity in infrastructure projects lowered the demand for cargoes such as cement and aggregates.

The influx of new state-of-the art vessels, purpose built for Seaway use, continued during the 2013 navigation season. Boasting sharp increases in fuel efficiency and reductions in emission levels, these new vessels are part of a billion dollar fleet renewal effort being undertaken by both domestic and ocean carriers. Combined with a $400 million program underway at the SLSMC to renew infrastructure, these investments testify to the Seaway’s enduring value and the faith of both carriers and the government in its future.

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

St. Lawrence Seaway


Port Reports -  January 17

Duluth/Superior - Mark Jackson & Ed Labernik
On Thursday, as the Cason J. Callaway entered the Duluth Harbor for winter layup, the USCG Cutter Alder was breaking ice near the Fraser Shipyard in Superior as well as Superior Bay and St. Louis Bay. The ice breaking was primarily for the later inbound Mesabi Miner and the Kaye E. Barker. The Miner was due to tie up for the winter at Superior Midwest Energy and the Barker was headed for the Fraser Shipyards.

Marquette, Mich. - Rod Burdick
Michipicoten arrived at the Upper Harbor ore dock Thursday morning on what could be her last trip of the shipping season and Marquette's last vessel of the season.

Philip R. Clarke arrived Thursday with coal for the Carbide Dock. The coal will eventually be trucked across the border to Essar Steel. The Clarke will remain at the dock until Friday morning before proceeding down the river. A few more coal shipments are scheduled, and tanker transits to Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., are anticipated a couple times a month over the winter. Late Thursday night, Robert S. Pierson was in the upper river headed to Essar with ore from Marquette.

Straits of Mackinac - Robert Bemben
Calumet spent the night firmly anchored in the ice north of Garden Island and was broken free Thursday by the USCG cutter Biscayne Bay and escorted to Lansing Shoal. Late Thursday night she was downbound off Washington Island.

South Chicago - Lou Gerard and Matt M.
Algosteel arrived at the North American Salt dock Wednesday night for a partial unload. By mid-morning Thursday, she had completed the unload and was headed toward the lake in early afternoon.


Icebreaking planned for Lake Manistee

1/17 - The U.S. Coast Guard is alerting residents, particularly ice fishermen and other recreational users of Lake Manistee, of ice-breaking activities scheduled begin Saturday and continue for the next two weeks. The vessels Calumet and Manitowoc, assisted by the tug Manitou, are scheduled to transit through Lake Manistee for coal deliveries Jan. 18-26. The tug and freighters will make four transits, making stops at the Tondu Energy Station at the southwest corner of Lake Manistee and the Morton Terminal in the northwest.


Great Lakes visitor has trouble in Atlantic

1/17 - The tanker Hellespont Charger lost power in Force 7 winds and close to 10 foot waves in the Atlantic about 118 miles west of Loop Island, Ireland, on Jan. 12. The 472-foot-long vessel was traveling from Corpus Christi, Texas, to Aughinish, Ireland, and carrying 15,000 metric tonnes of caustic soda when the trouble began.

While the vessel rolled badly, it appeared that the ship and the 22-member crew were in no danger. The Irish Naval Service patrol ship LE Aisling arrived on the scene and stood by in rough seas and poor visibility. The tug Thrax arrived and took up the tow on January 14, bound for the Aughinish Alumina plant on the River Shannon sailing at 3 knots.

Hellespont Charger was built at Mokpo, South Korea, and completed in December 2009. It first came through the Seaway in May 2011 headed to Nanticoke and Sarnia. It is registered in the Marshall Islands.

Barry Andersen & Skip Gillham


Saguenay scrapping continues at brisk pace in Turkey

1/17 - The scrapping of the former Canada Steamship Lines bulk carrier Saguenay is proceeding quickly at Aliaga, Turkey. The vessel departed Montreal under her own power on Nov 6, 2013, and arrived off Aliaga on Nov. 30. The ship was soon beached and scrapping got underway immediately. As of Jan. 15, over half of the hull had been dismantled and cutting was just beginning at the top of the pilothouse. The former saltwater ship had also been a regular Seaway trader from 1981 through 2012 under her two previous names, Federal Thames and Lake Superior.

Skip Gillham



Shipping season ends on upper Great Lakes

1/17 - Duluth, Minn. – The Cason J. Callaway was the first of three last ships expected to enter the Port of Duluth-Superior on Wednesday as the closing of the Soo Locks at midnight marks the official end to the Great Lakes shipping season.

The Callaway was preparing to go into dock for layup at 10 a.m., said Mike Ojard, owner of Heritage Marine. His tugs have been breaking ice in the harbor for most of the late season and escorting ships that have come and gone through several weeks of subzero temperatures this winter.

The Mesabi Miner was expected for layup Wednesday evening and the Kaye E. Barker early Thursday after a run to Silver Bay for iron ore pellets. The Presque Isle came in Tuesday.

Ten Great Lakes freighters will be wintering in the Twin Ports this year, including two that didn’t go out for the past shipping season.

The shipping end means things ramp up for the hundreds of engineers, welders, pipefitters, mechanics, electricians and others who will spend the next eight weeks doing heavy-duty repair and maintenance work at places like the Fraser Shipyards in Superior. On average, $500,000 to $1 million of work is done on each ship during the offseason.

The locks are set to open March 25.

Duluth News Tribune


Port of Thunder Bay ends shipping season

1/17 - Thunder Bay, Ont. – The Port of Thunder Bay has seen the last ship of the season depart. This brings an end to the 2013 shipping season. On Monday with the departure of Saginaw, the last ship of the season, left port. The vessel loaded a total of 13,000 tonnes of canola at two elevators: Viterra A and Superior Elevator.

The vessel sailed at 21:20 on Monday, January 13. The Saginaw passed through the Soo Locks just ahead of their seasonal closure, which took place at midnight Wednesday.

Two vessels have laid up for the winter in the Port of Thunder Bay: Capt. Henry Jackman will spend the winter at Lakehead Marine Industrial and CSL Tadoussac will winter at Keefer Terminal.

Net News Ledger


First freighter arrives in Erie for winter repairs

1/17 - Erie, Pa. – Thick ice on the Great Lakes made it a difficult trip. But Tuesday, the first of four large lake freighters arrived in Erie for winter repairs. The work will keep crews and contractors busy for the next couple of months.

The 1,000 foot freighter Edwin H. Gott was delayed by ice in the Detroit River and then the crew had to cope with ice on Presque Isle Bay. The ship spent about four hours in the icy bay to get into the proper position to move into the old ore dock. It is expected to remain in Erie for about two months for steel and cargo bay repairs.

In the coming days, three more large ships are due at the Don Jon Shipyard. Two of the freighters are scheduled for normal repairs, while the third ship – Kaministiqua – will be in the massive dry dock.

"Ships have to be dry docked every 6 years. When you dry dock then you don't know how much work has to be done but normally it is substantial,” Ray Schreckengost of the Erie Port Authority said.

The schedules can vary but the big ships usually leave Erie in mid-March to resume hauling freight on the Great Lakes.

Erie TV News


Toledo Maritime Academy to get simulators upgrade

1/17 - Toledo, Ohio – The installation of a high-tech, virtual-reality simulator center is set to begin at the Maritime Academy of Toledo once the preparations are completed next week.

The first simulator is expected to be installed in January and be up and running by Feb. 1 so that students at the academy can learn to pilot various types of ships through various types of waterways, ports, and weather.

This would not be possible without the preparatory work donated by two local unions, academy officials said.

The academy, 803 Water St., which offers classes to students in the 5th through 12th grades, will first get a radar-simulation classroom and a full-mission bridge, at which students will have a 240-degree frontal view and 60-degree rear view, and later” a tugboat simulator and an engine-room simulator, complete with 10 years of support and updates.

“We are very excited,” said Renee Marazon, president and superintendent of the 246-student charter school. “I express my deepest gratitude and appreciation, and sincerest thanks to the 20 skilled union carpenters of Local 351 and to the IBEW Local 8 [electrical construction] workers.”

“Their dedication and commitment is forever etched in our minds and literally in the footprint of the new bridge-and-radar simulator, making them a significant part of our history and of our mission,” she said.

The preparations for the project were expected to be complete Friday but were pushed back a few days by bad weather. The project was announced in September.

Ms. Marazon said the academy had only $30,000 and a short period of time to complete the reconfiguration of the second floor of the academy building at One Maritime Plaza.

Without the donations, the academy would have never completed it on time, she said.

Over the last two months, about 20 members of Local 351 and some of their contractors donated more than 690 hours of labor, working daily.

They built new bridge walls, painted the bridge simulator area, raised the floor for the new bridge simulator, and removed walls from the radar classroom. They also painted the radar classroom, and installed new ceilings in the bridge and radar classroom. Plus they donated and laid new carpeting for the radar simulator room, and donated materials for the new simulator consoles.

“The thing that really got us is the fact that the kids really needed that simulator for their course work. And if we weren’t going to do it, the kids wouldn’t have their simulator in time for their program,” Dan Morey, financial secretary for Local 351, said.

Workers with the IBEW Local 8 reviewed all electrical requirements for the new simulators, moved existing outlets, and moved and installed electrical equipment for the simulator center. The IBEW Local 8 donated more than 120 hours of labor, and about $5,000 worth of electrical supplies.

“We wanted to be involved in the community,” Joe Cousino, business manager at Local 8, said. “The maritime academy is an organization that is educating the students who will be getting decent middle-class jobs. ... Our members are not just electricians but community members who are willing to help.”

The volunteer work sets the stage for an engineering team from VSTEP, a Netherlands-based company, to install a full-mission bridge simulator and a radar simulation Class-A bridge simulator.

Most of the work is scheduled for completion by early February, with the simulators expected to become operational in several phases through 2017.

The company agreed on a significant discount in return for using the academy as the company’s first U.S. demonstration site, with the school’s initial investment of about $100,000 for the simulators that normally would retail for about $1 million, academy officials have said. Replacement parts for the academy’s old, DOS-based simulators from the early 1990s were no longer available and the cost of new, high-tech simulators was prohibitive.

In addition to the donations from the unions, the academy received a $30,000 economic development grant from the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority in November to help fund the project.

Toledo Blade


Coast Guard icebreakers come to rescue of frozen Great Lakes

1/17 - CBS News – Thick ice is crippling the shipping industry in the Great Lakes. The Coast Guard is working around the clock to cut through the ice, but this winter's weather is making the battle unusually tough.

Freighters loaded with vital cargo are trying to make their way through frozen waters to steel mills and factories before a crucial passageway is closed for the winter. Leading the way are the battering rams of the U.S. Coast Guard icebreakers.

If you absolutely need a shipment of iron ore for your steel mill in Indiana, the crew members of the Coast Guard icebreaker, the Mackinaw, are your best friends. Captain Mike Davanzo is a 30-year veteran.

"It really impacts the Great Lakes region and really the global economy,” he said.

Without the Coast Guard icebreaker ships, freighters would never make it through the icy waters on cold winter days. That doesn't just impact the freight companies, but it also impacts the plants and the people who work at the plants using the coal and ore they're carrying.

Sub-zero temperatures arrived early this year and one freighter got so trapped in the ice it took the Coast Guard icebreaker 17 hours to free it.

Davanzo told CBS News’ Don Dahler that last week’s bitter-cold weather was a “difficult and challenging” time for his team. “Boats were getting stuck,” he said. “It was a lot of work real close aboard to other ships to break them free."

Most icebreakers use their weight to break the ice; the 3,500-ton Mackinaw does too, but it has another trick. Ensign Michael Cooper manipulates the ship's propulsion system to churn up the ice like a blender, creating a path wide enough for freighters, but the thick ice made for a challenging few days.

“When you're getting reports from a range finder saying you're six feet away from a 1,000-foot vessel, you get pretty nervous,” he said.

Seaman Terrence McCabe is one of those range finders, who had to stand outside in minus-18 degree temperatures to measure distances. “Any exposed skin would pretty much start burning,” he said. “Your eyes were watering, then once the water would start freezing shut your eyes, your eye lashes.”

Members of the ship were limited to only 10 minutes outside during the worst of the frigid weather, but more than the cold, they told Dahler that the constant vibrations from the ships smashing the ice is the hard part, making it feel like they're living in an earthquake, 18 hours a day.

Despite the weather, the Mackinaw and eight other Coast Guard icebreaker will be out in the water all winter, but weather predictions say that most of the shipping channels will be iced over until late March.

Video from this story

CBS News


St. Clair Inn's fate in tangles: Broker says he has interested buyers

1/17 - Port Huron, Mich. – The deadline for the St. Clair Inn LLC to retain ownership of the icon on the river is just about up. The six-month foreclosure redemption period ends Feb. 9.

The redemption period allows the current owners, St. Clair Inn LLC, a chance to get up-to-date on payments for the property. St. Clair Inn LLC owes more than $95,000 in taxes, $2.1 million to the bank plus about $355 in interest per day since the foreclosure Aug. 8.

Joe Joachim of Premier Properties has been working to sell the inn for the past two years. It was listed for $3.5 million in 2012.

Florida-based TransCapital Bank has purchased the sheriff deed and paid the taxes, according to the St. Clair County Register of Deeds.

While rumors have swirled about the inn’s closure, Joachim said it will remain in operation, although the restaurant and bar are no longer open seven days a week. “I do know things are tight for them, but I think they’ll be able to stay open until the 9th,” he said.

Joachim said it’s important for the inn to stay in operation so the property is maintained in sellable condition. He said two developers are interested in the 88-year-old riverside landmark. “I have two, but I can’t clear the title, even yet,” Joachim said.

The title issues stem from the hotel’s 2005 sale. When Waterfront Hotel Ventures sold to St. Clair Inn LLC, it held on to one of the parcels that comprise the hotel site. Waterfront kept back the parcel south of the inn, known as the location of the former captain’s house.

Joachim said that violated the city’s zoning ordinance, which wouldn’t allow the parcels to be separated. Without the separation, Waterfront and St. Clair Inn LLC could not get clear title to either property.And without clear title, the St. Clair Inn LLC can’t sell the property. It sued Waterfront Hotel Ventures, and won.

Nick Chapie, who represented the inn, said Waterfront Ventures filed an appeal, leaving the title in limbo. “That’s common. That’s not necessarily anything abnormal,” he said.

But Joachim said it needs to come to an end. There have been discussions and he hopes a settlement will be reached. He said no one will win if the case remains open for another year, putting a hold on the sale and future development of the site.

While he’s spent two years trying to sell it, Joachim said he hasn’t given up hope the inn will thrive once again. “The two people we have interested in the property are capable of restoring it,” he said. “This is the last icon left of anything that’s St. Clair.”

The inn was opened in 1926 at 500 N. Riverside Ave. In October 1994, the inn became a Michigan Historic Landmark. In 1995, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Mayor Bill Cedar said he hopes the next owner brings in fine dining and renovates the inn. “I hope whoever it is is from around this area,” he said. “These people who live a thousand miles away, I don’t think an absent owner is what’s best for the St. Clair Inn.”

Cedar said the inn is vital not just to St. Clair, but to the Blue Water Area. Turning it back into a destination will boost tourism.

Calls to Waterfront Hotel Ventures and TransCapital Bank were not returned. A woman who answered the phone at the inn said no one was available to comment.

Port Huron Times Herald


Lookback #61 – Currents and ice pack caught Federal Vibeke on January 17, 2000

1/17 - The ocean going bulk carrier Federal Vibeke came through the Seaway to the Great Lakes under six of its eight names. It got caught in an ice pack on the St. Lawrence, 14 years ago today, and was at the mercy of the winds and currents. Fortunately, there was a happy ending but, for a time, it appeared that a collision with the bridge at Quebec City was a possibility.

This ship was built at Sunderland, England, as Nosira Lin in 1981 and came to the Great Lakes for the first time that year. The 617 foot, 4 inch long freighter was under British registry and made several calls inland.

It was sold and renamed Don Bauta in 1989 and came to our shores under the flag of Denmark. It was back as Kristianiafjord for Norwegian service in 1990 before a charter to Fednav brought a rename of Federal Vibeke in 1993. It then traveled to the lakes on a regular basis making its final trip in August 1999.

Sold to Greek interests and renamed Kalisti in 2000, it resumed Seaway service that May making a total of three trips inland until another sale and rename of Nobility in 2002. But, it was back again in 2004, still flying the flag of Greece.

The ship acquired Liberian registry as Ability in 2007 and moved under the flag of Panama as Opal II in 2009. Neither ship returned to the once familiar Great Lakes.

On November 1, 2012, following a sale to shipbreakers in India, the vessel arrived at Alang. It was beached November 12 and dismantled by Kasturi Commodities Pte. Ltd.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  January 17

News Photo Gallery


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.


Soo Locks close for season with downbound passages

1/16 - Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. - With the downbound passage of the U.S.C.G. Cutter Bristol Bay, the 2013 navigation season came to an end at the Soo Locks around 4 p.m. Wednesday. Earlier in the afternoon, the downbound tug Victory and barge James L. Kuber were the final commercial vessels through the locks for the season. Crews will be busy at the Soo Locks with maintenance projects until they re-open March 25.


Port Reports -  January 16

St. Marys River
Philip R. Clarke was upbound in Lake Huron off Alpena Wednesday night, bound for the former Carbide Dock in Soo Harbor with a cargo of coal. The coal will be trucked across the border to Essar Steel. She should arrive Thursday. Michipicoten was upbound from Essar Wednesday night, headed for Marquette.

Marquette, Mich. - Rod Burdick
Robert S. Pierson arrived early Wednesday morning at the Upper Harbor ore dock and waited to load ore during the day into the evening.

Straits of Mackinac - Robert Bemben
Algowood and the Coast Guard cutter Biscayne Bay spent Tuesday night west of the Mackinac Bridge, locked in firm ice. Icebreaking began early Wednesday morning and the Biscayne Bay freed the Algowood. The next westbound vessel was the Manitowoc, while the CG Biscayne Bay was cutting track and escorting the Edgar B. Speer through the tougher ice near White Shoal Light. One more laker, the Calumet, will pass westbound Thursday on its way to Gary.

Milwaukee, Wis. - John N. Vogel
Roger Blough arrived in Milwaukee at 5 p.m. on Wednesday for winter lay up.

Toledo, Ohio - Denny Dushane
Joyce L. Van Enkevort and Great Lakes Trader are expected to arrive in Toledo on Thursday, January 30 to unload iron ore pellets at the Torco Dock. They are scheduled to return once again on Thursday, February 13. Manistee arrived for lay-up late on Tuesday evening. Manistee's arrival brings a total of eight ships now wintering in Toledo. The list also includes American Century, American, Integrity, American Courage, H. Lee White, Buffalo, Ken Boothe Sr./Lakes Contender, Olive L. Moore/Lewis J. Kuber.

Erie, Pa. - Gene Polaski
Kaministiqua arrived at the channel entrance light at 8:20 a.m. Wednesday to be put into dry dock at the DonJon Shipyard. She proceeded into the bay only to find out that the dock was not ready; a barge had to be moved out, and then the gates of the dry dock would not open. Kaministiqua reported to be without her bow thrusters and went to anchor in the bay with a starboard anchor. Two tugs, the New York and the Rhode Island, had arrived earlier from Ashtabula and were busy breaking ice in preparation to move the barge and assist the Kaministiqua if needed. The ice was broken Tuesday with the arrival of the Edwin H. Gott.


Duluth-Superior shipping season winds to a close; lakers arrive for winter layup

1/16 - Duluth, Minn. – For ship savvy boatnerds, Wednesday was a day of mixed emotions as the Soo Locks closed for the season and the last three wintering vessels headed for the Port of Duluth-Superior, officially heralding the end of the 2013 Great Lakes shipping season in the Twin Ports. Cason J Callaway arrives for winter layup at 9:55 a.m. Wednesday, with Mesabi Miner and Kaye E. Barker expected to follow. In all, 10 Great Lakes freighters will be wintering here; that total includes two vessels that remain in layup from last year.

While ships crews take the next few, well-deserved weeks off, there is no real down time on the waterfront. Hundreds of workers engineers, welders, pipefitters, mechanics, electricians and others will spend the next eight weeks doing heavy-duty repair and maintenance work so these vessels are ready to sail when the Soo Locks reopen on March 25 and the 2014 shipping season gets underway. On average, that equates to investments of approximately $500,000 to $1 million per vessel.

Duluth Seaway Port Authority


Next generation of eco-friendly Great Lakes vessels unveiled in Toronto

1/16 - Toronto, Ont. – Algoma Central Corporation, Canada’s largest domestic ship operator in the Great Lakes, unveiled its new environmentally and technologically advanced vessel Algoma Equinox to the media and customers during the shipping industry’s annual Marine Club gathering in Toronto.

Part of a $400 million investment in fleet renewal by St. Catharines-based Algoma Central, the vessel is the first dry-bulk cargo ship in the Great Lakes to be designed to operate with fully integrated, closed loop, exhaust gas scrubbing system that eliminates 97 per cent of all sulphur oxide emissions from its engines.

This ship and seven sister vessels that will arrive throughout 2014 and 2015 will meet the most stringent new air emission standards being phased in over the next 10 years. Designed to reduce every aspect of its environmental footprint and equipped with the most advanced technology available, Algoma’s Equinox Class vessels are part of a fleet renewal that moves Great Lakes shipping into the 21st century.

The Equinox class of vessels are being built at Nantong Mingde Shipyard in China. All of the vessels are Canadian-flagged with Canadian crews. Six of the vessels will be owned by Algoma Central and two will be owned by CWB Inc., formerly the Canadian Wheat Board, and managed and operated by Algoma Central.

Algoma Equinox, will carry iron ore for companies like ArcelorMittal Dofasco, as well as North American grain.

Marine Delivers


Marine Mart Saturday at Brockville Museum

1/16 - Brockville, Ont. - 1:30-3:30 p.m. for this month only, ship-related books, photos, and memorabilia will be available for sale or swap (there are likely to be some rail or aviation items too). All members of the public are welcome to look around and find things to add to their collections. Anyone wishing to set up a table of items that they wish to part with are welcome to do so (table fees are 10% of sales). Free admission. If you are interested in ships, the Seaway, or shipping on the Great Lakes please join us, the Seaway Ship Enthusiasts. We meet every second month in the Carriage Hall of the Brockville Museum, 5 Henry St. Brockville, Ont. For more information please contact Viktor at the Brockville Museum at


Help Wanted: Port of Milwaukee Trade Development Representative-Senior

1/16 - The City of Milwaukee is accepting applications for the Trade Development Representative-Senior (Port of Milwaukee)

Purpose: Under the direction of the Port Marketing Manager, the Trade Development Representative-Senior develops business opportunities for the Port of Milwaukee and brings this potential to fruition, generating cargo, revenue, job growth, and economic development in the region.

Click here for more details  


Lookback #60 – Ashland dragged anchor and grounded on January 16, 1988

1/16 - Ashland was one of the sixteen “Maritime Class” bulk carriers of World War II. The 620-foot-long vessel was a product of the Great Lakes Engineering Works and launched at Ashtabula, Ohio, on December 19, 1942. It was completed the next year and traded to the Pioneer Steamship Co. for obsolete tonnage enabling the company to upgrade its fleet and carry more raw materials during the war era.

The vessel entered service as Clarence B. Randall, heading to Two Harbors to load iron ore on July 19, 1943. It made many similar trips up and down the lakes and this continued in peacetime.

In 1962, the ship was sold to the Columbia Transportation Co. (Oglebay-Norton) and was renamed Ashland. It continued Great Lakes service until tying up at Toledo on December 19, 1979.

Following a sale for scrap, the vessel was towed down the Welland Canal by the tugs Tusker and Thunder Cape on September 17, 1987, en route to Lauzon, Quebec, and a rendezvous with the deep-sea tug Osa Ravensturm. They departed there, along with another Maritime Class and former Columbia Transportation steamer, the Thomas Wilson.

The towline broke off Cape Hatteras and the two ships drifted for miles. Thomas Wilson was never recovered, but the Ashland was eventually taken in tow again and arrived at Bermuda and anchored on January 10, 1988. Severe winds caused the anchors to drag and Ashland ended up on the rocks 26 years ago today.

While Ashland was refloated, it was leaking badly. The tow eventually reached Mamonal, Colombia, on February 5, 1988, just in time, as officials believed the vessel would only have lasted one more day on the high seas. Instead, after being pumped out, the hull was broken up for scrap at Mamonal beginning in July 1988.

Skip Gillham


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.


Soo Locks close

1/15 - Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. - With the downbound passage of the U.S.C.G. Cutter Bristol Bay, the 2013 navigation season came to an end at the Soo Locks around 4 p.m. Wednesday. Earlier in the afternoon the tug Victory and barge James L. Kuber were the final commercial vessel through the locks for the season. Crews will be constantly busy at the Soo Locks with maintenance projects until they re-open March 25.


Port Reports -  January 15

St. Marys River
Kaye E. Barker was upbound headed for winter layup at Superior Tuesday night. Saginaw was downbound in the lower river and Edgar B. Speer was inbound at DeTour, also headed for layup. The tug Victory and her barge Lewis J. Kuber were downbound off the Keweenaw Peninsula with an AIS destination listed as Detroit on Jan. 17. The Soo Locks close for the winter at midnight Wednesday.

St. Clair River - Chuck Miller
The downbound Joyce L. Van Enkevort volunteered to help the Coast Guard in freeing the beset Anglian Lady in the Southeast Bend. Joyce L. decoupled from her barge, Great Lakes Trader, just above buoy 20 in the South Channel and headed downriver to help in the ongoing effort around buoy 11.

Toledo, Ohio - Denny Dushane
Lee A. Tregurtha arrived at the Torco Dock in the early morning on Tuesday to unload iron ore pellets. After completing her unload, it is expected the vessel will head to Nicholson's Dock in Ecorse, Mich., for layup. Joyce L. Van Enkevort/Great Lakes Trader are due to arrive at the Torco Dock Wednesday, January 29, during the late evening, weather and ice conditions permitting.

Erie, Pa. - Gene Polaski
Edwin H. Gott arrived at the Erie harbor entrance about 8:15 a.m. Monday after anchoring in the lake overnight. While the channel entrance was open, there was ice in the turning basin in the bay and the Gott had to move forward and astern in order to make a path sufficiently open to turn and back into the west slip next to DonJon Shipyard. The ice appeared to be 10 inches in some places but mostly thinner elsewhere. Several ice fishermen did not seem to be deterred and set up their hut less than 0.8 miles from the turning basin. The Gott will layup for the winter at DonJon. Several other vessels are expected this week also.


Coast Guard closes Neebish Channel

1/15 -  Sault Ste. Marie, Mi. – The Coast Guard will close the downbound West Neebish Channel at 8 a.m. Friday. Alternating one-way traffic will be established through the normally upbound only Munuscong and Middle Neebish channels. With the locks closed at that time the only traffic affected will be those headed to or from Sault St. Marie.


Coast Guard Air Station aids drifting ship that lost power on Lake Michigan

1/15 - Traverse City, Mich. – Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City crews recently aided a drifting carrier that lost power on Lake Michigan.

The Air Station posted on its Facebook page Monday, Jan. 13, that Coast Guard personnel received a radio call from Algoma Olympic stating the ship had lost power and was unable to move from its position about 16 nautical miles south of Sheboygan, Wis. The vessel was drifting northeast.

The Algoma Olympic's satellite phone wasn't working and crews contacted Coast Guard personnel with a handheld VHF radio that had about 11 hours of battery life. An Air Station helicopter launched from Traverse City and delivered two radios to prevent a loss of communication.

The Algoma Olympic later received temporary repairs to restore its navigation lights and some power and was headed south toward Milwaukee on Monday night, according to the Coast Guard.



Polar vortex drives Great Lakes to highest ice cover in 20 years

1/15 - Click here to view this story from Minnesota Public Radio. The story uses many images and is best viewed in its original format.


Lookback #59 – Former Paulina C. aground on January 15, 1986

1/15 - Paulina C. was flying the flag of Greece on the stern when the 585-foot-long bulk carrier came to the Great Lakes for the first time in 1976. The vessel had been built at La Spezia, Italy, and completed in January 1971 as Rosewood for the St. Helen's Shipping Co. Ltd. of Great Britain.

It moved to John I. Jacobs & Co. in 1972 and operated on saltwater routes before being sold and renamed Paulina C. in 1975. The diesel-powered vessel could handle 25,478 dead weight tons of cargo at saltwater draft.

Paulina C. traded through the Seaway on several occasions, but got into trouble striking the ship arrester and lock gates at Beauharnois on November 1, 1983. The accident held up shipping for a period of time, and when released Paulina C. sailed to Baie Comeau to top up her cargo of grain.

After being sold and renamed Rio Grande in 1984, the ship never returned to our shores. Registered in Malta, the vessel went hard aground off the Dutch coast, not far from Rotterdam, 28 years ago today. It was stuck for eight days before being pulled free on January 23, 1986.

Sold to Honduras flag interests later in 1986, this vessel spent its final months as Neptunia. It was soon resold the ship breakers in India and arrived at Bombay, on December 3, 1986, for dismantling in 1987.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  January 15

News Photo Gallery
Lay-up list updated


Today in Great Lakes History -  January 15

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

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

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

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

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

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.


Formidable ice has had a major impact on shipping

1/14 - Ships, including iron ore freighters bound for Northwest Indiana steel mills, have been jamming up the ice-choked St. Marys River in recent weeks as they rush to make deliveries before the Soo Locks close this week.

The river that separates Michigan from Canada and connects Lake Superior to the rest of the Great Lakes serves as a key shipping channel that links the local steel industry with the raw materials — iron ore, coal and limestone — it forges into metal.

Bitterly cold winter weather caused the river and the Great Lakes to start freezing over in late November — the earliest point in recent history. Since early December, U.S. Coast Guard icebreakers have been shearing through ice that is so thick it has knitted back up after the ships passed through.

Freezing temperatures have turned shipping on the Great Lakes into an ice-gripped struggle this winter. Lake Michigan is now more than 35 percent frozen over, a level of iciness that has not occurred in five years, let alone at such an early juncture, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration data.

"It's had a major impact on shipping," said Glen Nekvasil, vice president of the Lake Carriers' Association, which represents the commercial shipping industry on the Great Lakes. "We've had to cancel cargoes. We've been dealing with formidable ice conditions."

The Great Lakes shipping industry has not grappled with such extreme cold and inhospitable conditions since 2004, Nekvasil said. Ships are getting stuck in ice, or moving slowly through it. Voyages are being delayed by 40 to 50 hours. Shipments are being canceled.

Lake Michigan usually does not get this frozen until February, and it has not had such extensive ice coverage at all over the past few mild winters, said National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientist George Leshkevich, who studies ice, snow and chlorophyll on the Great Lakes.

In an average winter, about 55 percent of Lake Michigan's surface gets covered with ice. Ice coverage has been more in the range of 20 percent over the past four years, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration data.

This year, the extreme cold may freeze over as much as 62 percent of Lake Michigan, Leshkevich said. The lake is now about 36 percent frozen over, as compared to 2 percent at the same time last year.

"The very cold and frigid temperatures helped the ice to form and to build in the lakes a little earlier this year," he said.

Freighters and other ships have had to wait on U.S. Coast Guard icebreakers to clear paths and lead them in convoys. But one of the nine icebreakers the Coast Guard deploys to escort commercial ships during the winter has been sidelined because of mechanical issues. A second cutter — the Hollyhock — collided with a nearly 1,000-foot-long super-carrier after a chunk of ice proved sturdier than it appeared.

The icebreakers have been battling thick ice that has clogged two main points of passage: the Straits of Mackinac and the Saint Marys River. Both channels are key links that allow lake freighters to haul iron ore pellets mined in the Iron Range in upper Minnesota to the Northwest Indiana steel mills.

"The reason the steel mills are on Lake Michigan is that it's most cost-effective to move raw materials by boat," Nekvasil said. "It's very raw material-intensive. It takes 1.5 tons of iron ore to make a ton of steel."

Typically, 50 million tons to 60 million tons of iron ore gets shipped across the Great Lakes on the average year. About 25 million tons to 35 million go to Northwest Indiana ports at steel mills in East Chicago, Gary and Burns Harbor.

Much of it goes from ports in upper Minnesota across Lake Superior, into the Saint Marys River, through the Soo Locks at Sault Ste. Marie in Northern Michigan, down past the Straits of Mackinac and south to the mills at Lake Michigan's southern shore. The voyage usually lasts two and a half days but has been taking nearly twice as long because of the ice. A further delay occurs because the Coast Guard will not break ice at night for safety reasons, Nekvasil said.

As much as 20 percent of the ore gets shipped during the icebreaking season, which runs between mid-December and mid-April. The past few weeks have been especially crucial since steel mills have been stockpiling iron ore pellets in anticipation of the Soo Locks in Sault Ste. Marie closing Wednesday. They won't reopen until late March.

The port of Escanaba in upper Michigan will continue to send iron ore shipments for a few more weeks, but mills largely will have to get by on stockpiled inventory.

"Escanaba alone cannot supply the entire steel industry," Nekvasil said.

When the Soo Locks close and the iron ore freighters stop coming, the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor in Portage will continue to handle barges from the Illinois, Mississippi and Ohio rivers. Much of the cargo passes through the inland rivers and the Gulf of Mexico on its way to international markets.

The port also continues to get a fair amount of lake vessels after the traditional shipping season ends. When needed, icebreakers will help them move their cargo.

For now, tug boats have been able to manage the wintry conditions, which include icing in the harbor, spokeswoman Heather Bunning said. The tugboats bring in the ships when they decide it is safe to do so. Last Friday, the 1,000-foot-long Burns Harbor freighter stopped in port to make a delivery to ArcerlorMittal.

"It's a year-round operation," Bunning said.

North West Indiana Times


Algoma Olympic loses power on Lake Michigan

1/14 - About 10 p.m. Sunday, the Algoma Olympic lost power and was drifting in Lake Michigan off Sheboygan, Wis. At about 5 a.m. Monday, the tug Mary E. Hannah left South Chicago to take the ship to Milwaukee. Algoma Olympic did have electrical power, however there were steering limitations. There were also gale warnings on Lake Michigan at the time. AIS showed the vessel had arrived at Milwaukee Monday.

Mike Garza and F.W.Selstrom


St. Marys River ice thickest in decades

1/14 - Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. – Winter came early this year to Sault Ste. Marie and area residents, with sub-zero temperatures throughout December and snow piling up unusually high compared to recent years.

The sustained cold has also caused thicker ice than usual to develop in the St. Marys River and Great Lakes region, which has slowed traffic in river and shipping channels in recent weeks.

“We've pretty much been handling each delay on a case-by-case” basis, said Justin Bravatto, a Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., based vessel traffic management specialist with the U.S. Coast Guard.

A few vessels have been delayed for about a day while waiting for cutters to clear a path through the one-to-three-foot ice, but general delays have been “less than that.”

“We've been putting a cutter on everybody,” Bravatto said Thursday afternoon. “We're having our assets out there working the vessels along as they become stopped ... You try to get a convoy together and take everybody at once.”

The U.S. service has four icebreakers working in the area, which is more than usual for this time of year, Bravatto said. And they've been busy.

Cutters include the Bristol Bay, from Detroit; the Mackinaw, homeported in Cheboygan; and the Biscayne Bay, out of St. Ignace. Mobile Bay, from Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, is working the Mackinaw Straits area.

“We're just rotating them around,” Bravatto said. “They've been putting in a lot of hours working these boats through. Typically we don't see this amount of ice for this time of year.”

He said the ice is probably thicker than it has been “in the last 30 years. The most ice we've seen in this area, as far as in the river.”

The heavy ice has not hindered Purvis Marine Ltd. tugs from plying the St. Marys River. Jack Purvis, owner of the local business, says his ships have ferried crew, and in one case supplies, out to vessels that had been delayed in the river. But those trips weren't made because ships had been delayed for an unusual length of time.

“We took a crew out yesterday (Wednesday) and some groceries out the day before. There's nothing different about it, nothing unusual,” Purvis said Thursday. He agreed ice is exceptionally thick this year.

“Probably the heaviest (it's been) in the last 20 years ... I don't know officially about that, but that's what I hear.”

In a related incident, the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Hollyhock was damaged last Sunday morning while breaking ice in northern Lake Michigan.

The 225-foot sea-going buoy tender Hollyhock, homeported in Port Huron, Mich., was rammed from behind by the Mesabi Miner, a 1000-foot freighter. Both vessels were damaged but able to continue.

The Hollyhock suffered significant damage to the stern and fantail, as well as two punctures in the hull about 20 feet above the waterline. Mesabi Miner reported a 12-inch crack in the bow about four feet above the waterline.

The Michigan Sault locks will close Jan. 15, which means traffic to Lake Superior will ceases for the season. Limited shipping traffic will continue in other areas.

Sault Star


Ice no stranger to Lake Michigan, but hard to predict complete freezeover

1/14 - Question: How many times has Lake Michigan frozen over so much that it stopped all navigation? Answer: OK, it’s a bit of a trick question. You’d be hard pressed to find any kind of watercraft on Lake Michigan now. Even the Soo Locks at Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., which allow ships to pass down into Lake Michigan from Lake Superior, close from Jan. 15 to March 25.

The U.S. Coast Guard cutter in Sturgeon Bay helps break up the ice to keep the shipping lanes open to the northeast before the locks close each winter, said Petty Officer Colleen McCarthy, senior officer in charge of the Coast Guard Station in Kenosha.

As for a complete freeze-over, that’s another complicated answer. Certainly very large sections of the lake turn to ice.

According to the Great Lakes Environmental Research Lab at Ann Arbor, Mich., there have been times when Lake Michigan was more than 90 percent ice-covered, including the winters of 1903-’04, 1976-’77 and 1978-’79.

In an average winter, ice will cover a little less than half the lake. Most of the open water is at the south end where the cold is less severe, according to WGN chief meteorologist Tom Skilling in a 2002 Chicago Tribune article.

At present, it is estimated the lake is 36 percent frozen over.


Most powerful Canadian icebreaking tug enters service

1/14 - The tug Ocean Tundra has been commissioned by owners Ocean Groupe Inc. (Ocean) of Quebec City, Canada. This icebreaking escort tug, say designers Robert Allan, becomes the most powerful tug in Canadian registry, and heralds a new generation of tugs which will provide year-round escort towing to Canada’s east coast and the St. Lawrence River and Seaway system.

The 36m long Ocean Tundra is the latest addition to the TundRA 100 series (with a nominal 100 tonnes bollard pull) of icebreaking tugs designed by Robert Allan Ltd., Naval Architects of Vancouver B.C. This tug was built to the highest standards at Ocean’s own shipyard, Ocean Industries, on Iles aux Coudres, Quebec. The launching of te heavy tug was a major challenge for the shipyard, due to its high weight and draft. The tug was therefore launched with additional flotation provided by inflatable bags surrounding the hull.

This powerful tug has been designed to provide a wide range of services, including tanker escort, terminal support, general ship-docking operations and icebreaking/ice-management services in various ports along the St. Lawrence River. The vessel is also equipped for coastal and rescue towing and is equipped with a major fire-fighting capability. In addition the vessel is equipped to carry lube oil as cargo, for transfer to transiting ships.

Trials of the Ocean Tundra, classed by LR, were completed in early January 2014, and a free running speed of 15.12 knots was recorded. The range is 3,700 nautical miles at 12 knots. The ahead bollard pull was 110.3 tonnes.

The main propulsion for Ocean Tundra consists of a pair of MAK 9M25C diesel engines, each rated 3000 kW at 750 rpm, and each driving a Rolls-Royce US 305 CPP, 3000 mm. diameter Z-drive unit, in ASD configuration. The main engines, auxiliary engines are resiliently mounted for maximum noise and vibration isolation.

The electrical plant comprises three identical diesel gen-sets, Caterpillar C9, each with a power output of 250ekW, designed for independent or parallel operation.

Marline Link


Lookback #58 – Maitland No. 1 tipped over on January 14, 1981

1/14 - The former Lake Erie rail car ferry Maitland No. 1 had an eventful career. It was built at Ecorse, Mich., in 1916 for the Toronto, Hamilton & Buffalo Navigation Co. and served both Canadian Pacific and the New York Central rail interests under the American flag.

The 350-foot-long steamer initially operated across Lake Erie between Ashtabula, Ohio, and Port Maitland, Ontario, until being retired on June 28, 1932. It found a second career carrying autos between Milwaukee and Muskegon but had to tie up after 16 months because the ship was partly Canadian owned while operating between two American ports.

Maitland No.1 was laid up at Ashtabula from 1937 until 1942 when the engines were purchased and removed. The intent was to scrap the hull but it was resold for use as a barge in the pulpwood trade. It also saw service as lighter, a lumber carrier, steel ingot and cement carrier. It also brought parts for a new distillery to Oswego, NY, in 1975 and then loaded scrap steel for its departure from the lakes in 1980.

Thirty-two years ago today Maitland No.1 was under tow for Port Everglades, Fla., when it tipped over between Yarmouth, NS and Rockland, Maine. An attempt to tow the hull, bottom up, was not successful and the 65-year old vessel slipped beneath the surface.

There has been speculation that the barge was renamed Trio Trado at Quebec City on the way to the Atlantic but this is not definite. It was slated for new service the Gulf of Mexico carrying scrap to Progresso, Mexico, under Honduran registry.

Skip Gillham


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

St. Marys River
Baie Comeau resumed her downbound passage on Sunday and in the late evening was in the lower river above Lime Island. She had spent the previous night anchored in Whitefish Bay undergoing unspecified repairs. Robert S. Pierson was headed upbound in the upper river. Those were the only two commercial vessels in the system Sunday night.

Marquette, Mich. - Rod Burdick
Robert S. Pierson loaded ore Sunday morning at the Upper Harbor. The visit was her first since fall 2011.

Sturgeon Bay, Wis. - Jim Comlon and Wendell Wilke
Joseph L. Block came into BayShip at noon Saturday, followed by American Mariner in the late afternoon. On Sunday, Stewart J. Cort arrived just after noon. All three ships battled heavy ice conditions from Lake Michigan through the three downtown bridges and were assisted by two Selvick tugs.

Toledo, Ohio - Denny Dushane
Lee A. Tregurtha is expected to arrive at the Torco Dock during the morning on Wednesday. The Joyce L. Van Enkevort / Great Lakes Trader are expected to arrive on Wednesday, January 29 in the late evening. Both arrivals are subject to change due to the weather and ice conditions. The tug Olive L. Moore along with its barge Lewis J. Kuber arrived for lay-up late on Saturday evening. A total of seven vessels have arrived for lay-up in Toledo this winter: American Century, American Courage, American Integrity, Buffalo, H. Lee White, Ken Boothe Sr./Lakes Contender and Moore / Kuber. Three ASC vessels are in long-term layup: Adam E. Cornelius, American Fortitude and American Valor. The ferry Jiimaan remains in port.


USCG Hollyhock returns to ice breaking duty

1/13 - Port Huron, Mich. – The U.S. Coast Guard cutter Hollyhock has left St. Ignace, Mich., according to information from Petty Officer 3rd Class Christopher Yaw, Coast Guard 9th District Public Affairs.

The Hollyhock, which is normally berthed on the St. Clair River in Port Huron, was hit by the freighter Mesabi Miner while breaking ice Jan. 5 in Lake Michigan. There were no injuries, but both ships were damaged.

According to information from Yaw, the crew has made temporary repairs to the Hollyhock, and the ship is back breaking ice. The cause of the collision still is being investigated.

Port Huron Times Herald


Ice coverage grows on Great Lakes

1/13 - West Michigan - It’s no secret that around and across the Great Lakes in the winter we see ice. What is unusual this time is how quick the coverage has increased with the recent Arctic blast.

Ice concentration across Lake Superior went from 14 percent ice cover on January 1 to 37 percent ice cover on January 10. Lake Michigan went from 19 percent ice cover on January 1 to 36 percent ice cover now.

Lake Huron went from 32 percent ice to 46 percent ice coverage in the same time frame, while Lake Erie had 25 percent ice cover on January 1 and is now 80 percent covered in ice. It’s common for Lake Erie, which usually freezes over completely since it’s so shallow.

All the Door County peninsula around Green Bay, Wisconsin has completely iced over.

Fox 17


Lake Erie ice likely to survive warm-up

1/13 - Erie, Pa. – Officials at the National Weather Service in Cleveland now say Lake Erie is about 80 percent covered with ice, and they don't expect that to change much even with the warm temperatures and rains expected over the weekend.

Weather service meteorologists estimated the lake was about 75 percent covered immediately following the extreme cold temperatures caused by the polar vortex, but cautioned those numbers were a rough estimate because of cloud cover on satellite photos of the lake.

The shallower western half of the lake is completely frozen over. The deeper eastern half is traditionally harder to freeze, and a few patches closer to Buffalo are still open as of Sunday.

Saturday's high temperature was expected to hit 48 degrees, but that might not translate to melting ice.

"We're not thinking there will be much of any change over the weekend," said National Weather Service meteorologist Brian Mitchell. "There could be some shifting of the ice, leaving some areas that are currently covered now uncovered."

Less than half of the lake is usually frozen over in early January.

Erie Times-News


Lookback #57 – Shipyard fire aboard Sir Denys Lowson on January 13, 1964

1/13 - Algoma Central was expanding its fleet in the early years of the St. Lawrence Seaway and ordered a 605-foot long by 62-foot wide bulk carrier from the Collingwood shipyard. The keel for the 16,325-ton capacity vessel was laid on May 15, 1963, and the modern freighter was launched on November 27, 1963.

Christened Sir Denys Lowson, the ship was undergoing final work in preparation to begin service with the opening of the 1964 navigation season when a fire broke out in the forward cabin 50 years ago today.

The blaze did considerable damage to the structure and the loss was reported at $250,000. Once the fire was out, crews got to work, cleaned up the mess, and still managed to complete the ship on schedule. Sir Denys Lowson began sea trials on March 26 and was in service up bound at Sault Ste. Marie on April 2.

The vessel was part of the Algoma fleet until sold to N.M. Paterson & Sons Ltd. in 1979. Renamed Vandoc, it is remembered for a grounding, apparently due to a steering failure, in the Brockville Narrows on November 13, 1979. The accident sent the vessel to Port Weller Dry Docks for repairs.

Vandoc arrived at Thunder Bay for lay-up on December 21, 1991, and never sailed again. It was sold to Purvis Marine for scrap in 2002 and arrived at Sault Ste. Marie for dismantling, under tow of the tug Reliance, on June 12, 2002.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  January 13

News Photo Gallery


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

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

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

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


Ice convoy passes downbound in St. Clair River

1/12 - Saturday morning the USCG Neah Bay escorted a convoy of ships from lower Lake Huron through the troublesome St. Clair Flats. Mild temperatures in the 40s combined with rain allowed the tracks in the ice that had been broken by the Coast Guard to allow a relatively easy passage of the convoy.

Boatwatchers were treated to a parade of freighters that included the Kaministiqua, Philip R. Clarke, Kaye E. Barker, CSL Assiniboine and Ojibway.

Mark Dease and Frank Frisk


Port Reports -  January 12

St. Marys River
Saturday night, Mesabi Miner (headed for Duluth/Superior), Saginaw (bound for Essar Steel) and CSL Tadoussac (headed for Thunder Bay) were upbound at the locks and the Arthur M. Anderson and tug Victory were upbound in Whitefish Bay. Baie Comeau was anchored in Whitefish Bay with unknown issues and being contacted by the USCG every hour for a position confirmation report. USCG Mackinaw and Bristol Bay, with the G-tug Missouri, were assisting the tug Leonard M and the steel coil-laden barge Huron Spirit downbound through the east Neebish channel. Wilfred M. Cohen was also part of the tow. USCG Hollyhock and Presque Isle were hove to in Mud Lake and Cuyahoga was outbound at DeTour headed for winter lay-up.

Milwaukee, Wis. - Mark Jackson
Lee A. Tregurtha arrived Saturday morning from Escanaba for repairs to damage suffered while operating in heavy ice. Once repairs are complete, she will head to Toledo, Ohio, to unload.

Toronto, Ont. - Jens Juhl
Early this week the infamous Polar Vortex generated subzero temperatures and brisk southwest winds that pushed lake ice into the harbor through both the east and west gaps. This past Tuesday the heavy ice caused the Ongiara to break down and it was back to the bus and airport ferry routine for the islanders. Spare parts were flown in from Texas and the Ongiara was back in operation Wednesday. On Friday morning, Stephen B. Roman delivered what could be the last load of cement for the season. The Roman had to push through heavy ice in the east gap and the east end of the harbor.

Kingston, Ont. - Ron Walsh
Stephen B. Roman was inbound at the Upper Gap Saturday afternoon, going to Picton.


Several boats arriving this week for winter fleet

1/12 - Sturgeon Bay, Wis. – The Hon. James L. Oberstar, the first true winter fleet vessel, arrived Wednesday and made its way to the ship yard at Bay Shipbuilding in Sturgeon Bay via the ship canal. But several more are on their way.

The Oberstar is one of many ships that lay over for winter at Bay Shipbuilding as the commercial season comes to a close.

Commercial shipping on the Great Lakes comes to a halt after Jan. 15, when the Soo Locks shut down for yearly maintenance, explained U.S. Coast Guard Commander John Stone, who heads the ice cutter Mobile Bay stationed in Sturgeon Bay. Stone and a crew of 22 are currently breaking ice along the St. Marys River, escorting vessels back and forth through the Straits of Mackinac.

This year’s ice is the worst Stone has ever seen.

“This is the largest accumulation of ice in the past 24 years,” he said, “and it is the second largest in the past 34 years.”

The Mobile Bay began its icebreaking mission Dec. 16, and came back to port in Sturgeon Bay on Christmas Eve. It left again Dec. 26 in time to escort the Rt. Hon. Paul J. Martin arriving at Bay Ship. Stone said they don’t know exactly when they will return home, but the cold temperatures have been both challenging and busy.

“The ice came early in December and affected our aids to navigation run,” he said. “It’s been a long couple weeks. We’re pretty tired.”

There were buoys in Green Bay that were shifted by early ice floes. One buoy was found about seven miles from its station after being pushed away by ice, he said.

Stone said he was not concerned about being stuck, but there were locations at the top end of the Mobile Bays capabilities. The main difference between the icebreaker and large vessels is the shape of the hull, which cuts through the ice. The Mobile Bay breaks ice by rising up on it, then coming down, throwing a tremendous weight to break it apart, he said. For commercial ships now entering the Sturgeon Bay canal, Selvick Marine’s tug, the Jimmy L, does the job.

This year’s early and heavy ice also means commercial shippers are all clamoring to finish their runs before lay-up. The commercial vessels are trying to get salt, fuel oil, coal and iron ore to ports. The industry will start up again when the locks reopen March 25.

Todd Thayse, vice president and general manager of Bay Shipbuilding, also said the winter conditions over the past 10 days have caused delays in the winter fleet arrivals as navigation became difficult.

“Vessels are stuck in ice or moving very slowly throughout the Great Lakes and, in several cases, final layup ports have been re-directed due to the difficulty of transiting through the ice-covered navigational routes,” Thayse said. “Passage to the yard from the north is going to be very difficult.”

Winter is also a busy time for work for Bay Shipbuilding, as workers are needed for repairs and maintenance as ships are tied up over the next couple of months. The company has called back all workers previously laid off, he said, and is now hiring weekly.

“We are certainly in a hiring mode,” he said,” looking for basically all disciplines of the ship building and repairing trades. Experience is a plus but on-the-job training will be offered.”

For those who prefer watching the ships come in rather than working on them, Thayse provided a schedule, but all dates change daily and some expected have not yet arrived. On Friday, the Stewart J. Cort was the next expected to arrive, but several could appear over the weekend.

Stone also cautioned those who use the ice for fishing, snowmobiling and other recreation that water is open for the shipping channels. These channels are marked on charts but visually there are no markers, so plan activities carefully.

Door County Advocate


Lookback #56 – Explosion aboard Western Engineer at Thunder Bay on January 12, 1979

1/12 - The tug Western Engineer, of Western Engineering, provided a mobile repair service at what is now Thunder Bay. The handy vessel met ships at the docks where they were loading or unloading. The tug brought company employees and their skills to the working ship. This reduced down time for the customers.

The tug had been built at Chester, Nova Scotia, in 1941 as Betty and was later known as Daisy and Col. McDonald. It was sold, brought to the Great Lakes, rebuilt and repowered. On August 16, 1948, the ship was renamed Western Engineer.

The 39-foot-long tug spent the next 31 years in and around the Canadian Lakehead communities of Fort William and Port Arthur, which became Thunder Bay on January 1, 1970. Its longest trip was reported as a 50-mile jaunt to Little Trout Bay to work on the pulpwood barge Swederope.

Thirty-five years ago today, a propane explosion on board Western Engineer resulted in extensive damage and injuries to two men. The vessel was never repaired and, on June 2, 1980, had been reported as having been broken up. However, Canadian registry was not closed until January 14, 1983.

Skip Gillham


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.


Ships battle ice as Great Lakes shipping season wraps up

1/11 - Duluth, Minn. – It’s a fight against the ice to keep the Great Lakes shipping season open, and Mike Ojard and his tug boats are being tested. “I’m 68,” the owner of Heritage Marine said. “I’ve never seen a winter like this.”

Extreme cold for most of December and into the New Year has meant slow going for ships trying to work before the Soo Locks close on Wednesday. If they don’t make the window for deliveries or layups, they’ll be stuck until the next shipping season opens in late March.

“There’s so much ice,” Ojard said.

His Knife River-based team had to perform double duty Thursday in escorting the Baie Comeau out of the harbor. Although the U.S. Coast Guard’s cutter, the Alder, returned from Thunder Bay, Ontario, overnight, it was moored in Duluth. So Heritage Marine had to break ice and help guide the ship under the Aerial Lift Bridge and out to open water.

“It’s just nuts,” Ojard said. “This has been a killer. The cold is hard on equipment. You can’t believe the vibration on the hull and propeller from the ice.”

Eight ships that were active during the shipping season are planning layovers in the Twin Ports. Four have arrived while four remain in operation. The Presque Isle was in Detroit on Thursday. The Cason J. Callaway was in Sandusky, Ohio. The Mesabi Miner was on Lake Michigan and is underway, despite having its hull pierced in an accident with a Coast Guard cutter on Sunday. The Kaye E. Barker was near the Soo Locks with a plan to get one more load of ore in Silver Bay.

Tom Curelli, director of operations at Superior’s Fraser Shipyards, said conditions on the lake and in the ports is what one would usually expect in late January or February, after the shipping season has closed.

“I’ve seen it like this but not this early,” he said. “The ice is tough as steel, and it can cause some damage.”

Ships occasionally miss making it in for scheduled layups, when Fraser’s workers scramble to refurbish and ready ships for the next season a little more than two months away. One ship didn’t get to the locks in time last year.

Curelli said work hasn’t been slowed by the frigid weather. The ships that are already in came in early, allowing a head start.

The ice has been a problem across the Great Lakes. Sunday’s collision between the Mesabi Miner and the Coast Guard cutter Hollyhock, clearing a path on upper Lake Michigan, left the laker with a puncture about 4 feet above its waterline, the Coast Guard reported. The Hollyhock had stern and fantail damage and is moored in St. Ignace, Mich., for a damage assessment.

Other ships have been trapped in ice or are moving extremely slowly through it, the Coast Guard reported. Coast Guard maps show 80 to 90 percent ice coverage on Lake Superior from Duluth through the Apostle Islands.

There’s plenty of work to do to get all of the ships where they want to be, Ojard said. He’ll be looking for the Laurentien today. The Mesabi Miner plans to load coal Saturday for a run to Taconite Harbor before laying up. The Algowood also is expected Saturday. The remaining ships expected for layup are scheduled to arrive Monday.

“We’ll muscle our way through,” Ojard said.

Duluth News Tribune


Port Reports -  January 11

St. Marys River
The Sugar Islander II was stranded at her Sugar Island dock Thursday due to ice in Little Rapids Cut. There was pretty steady traffic at the locks Friday morning after the upbound convoy of vessels made it through the ice. Traffic included Edgar B. Speer, Robert S. Pierson, the tug/barge Victory/James L. Kuber and Cuyahoga. Dowbound vessels waiting in Whitefish Bay included the Tecumseh, Defiance/Ashtabula, Edwin H. Gott and the Whitefish Bay.

Straits of Mackinac - Robert Bemben
Friday was the first quiet day in a while for shipping on the Straits of Mackinac. Thursday evening, the USCG cutter Mobile Bay worked hard to free the Arthur M. Anderson, and it escorted the Anderson and the Mesabi Miner eastbound from Lansing Shoal to the bridge late at night. No vessels were upbound on Lake Michigan early Friday.

Toledo, Ohio - Denny Dushane
Lee A. Tregurtha is tentatively scheduled to arrive at the Torco Dock on Sunday during the morning. Also expected are the tug Joyce L. Van Enkevort and barge Great Lakes Trader, due to arrive on Sunday, January 26 in the evening. Both vessel arrivals are tentative and can change with weather and ice conditions. Besides the Adam E. Cornelius, American Fortitude and American Valor, all of which are in Toledo for long-term lay-up, there are also six other ASC vessels that have berthed for the winter. Another vessel is also expected to arrive in the next few days for lay-up - the tug Olive L. Moore and barge Lewis J. Kuber. The ferry Jiimaan still remains in port and the tug John Spence has departed the port for Port Maitland, Ontario and winter lay-up.


Lake Erie icier, but not frozen over

1/11 - Lake Erie is freezing over in a hurry. The single-digit and subzero temperatures of the past few days has rapidly transformed Lake Erie from mostly open to nearly frozen over.

The lake is usually about 40 percent covered at this point of the year, said National Weather Service meteorologist Karen Clark. But the record low temperatures of the past week have left Lake Erie about 75 percent covered by ice.

Just 10 days ago, a very small part of the lake's western tip held ice.

The western half of the lake has completely frozen over, but satellite images suggest there are still open areas or areas with thin ice on the lake's eastern end near Buffalo.

What this means to Erie-area residents is the threat of lake-effect snow will be around for at least the near future. When the lake freezes over, it cuts off the supply of relatively warm moisture needed to feed the lake effect and generate large amounts of snowfall.

But with portions still uncovered, or under just thin ice, that moisture is far from shut off, said John Mayers, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Cleveland.

"I wouldn't expect the lake effect to shut off any time soon," Mayers said. "Especially with the warming trend we'll see over the weekend."

Clark said it is hard to estimate how much of the ice cover will melt away with a weekend's worth of temperatures in the low 30s and high 40s and rain.

She said ice from Long Point, Ontario, and farther west is likely thick enough to survive the warm weekend, but the ice cover is much thinner in the eastern portions of the lake, particularly near Buffalo.

Erie Times-News


Lookback #55 – Arcturus sank in Atlantic on January 11, 1962

1/11 - The Arcturus was laid up after sustaining considerable damage resulting from a collision with the T-2 tanker Wang Cavalier. The accident occurred on the Detroit River in June 1959 and the 53-year-old bulk carrier was tied up at River Rouge, Mich.

The 534-foot-long Arcturus had been built at West Bay City, and launched as James B. Wood on December 3, 1905. It began service the following year for the Gilchrist Transportation Co.

The ship joined the Interlake Steamship Co., on their formation in 1913, and was renamed Arcturus. It was engaged in the ore, coal and grain trades until the 1959 collision.

Following a sale to Norwegian shipbreakers, the ship was towed down the Welland Canal on October 23, 1961, by the tugs Graeme Stewart and Youville. They stopped at Toronto to load scrap steel before continuing on to the St. Lawrence.

Arcturus was prepared for the transatlantic tow and set out behind the tug Pria Grande. Trouble was encountered off the Azores and the ship sank 52 years ago today in position 46.10 N by 9.50 W.

Skip Gillham


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.


Icebreakers keep commercial shipping moving on Great Lakes

1/10 - Icebreakers from the U.S. and Canada are operating at full capacity as they work to keep shipping lanes open to Lake Michigan and Lake Superior. The Coast Guard cutter Biscayne Bay is putting in 12- to 14-hour days breaking 1-3 foot thick ice around the Soo Locks and St. Marys River. Captain Tom Przybyla says they've had two days off since December 12.

“We were lucky to be able to get Christmas off. We didn't get to pull in until two in the morning the day of Christmas. Then we got some sleep and got to have Christmas off,” Przybyla said. “We were back at it the next day.”

The long spells of subzero temperatures has all nine U.S. Great Lakes cutters on duty. Przybyla says virtually every ship needs help. So far, his Biscayne Bay has assisted some 20 lakers ... and, he says, it's gut-busting work.

“The ship vibrates a ton. You're vibrating all day. You're using a lot of power. The propellers are vibrating. The engines are vibrating, he says. It's pretty fun, too, but it is jarring to be doing that day after day. Absolutely.”

The 730-foot bulk freighter American Mariner was stuck in ice in the St. Marys River for two days before the Coast Guard cutter Mackinaw freed it Tuesday. (Then the Mariner was again caught in ice later that same day.)

Lieutenant Michael Patterson is the captain of the 140-foot ice breaker Katmai Bay. His boat was dead in the water Monday and had to be towed for repairs. Patterson says the ice is tough, and so is the job.

“It is. It's very noisy. It makes things like sleeping during ice breaking evolution for the crew that's not on watch difficult. But it's what these vessels were designed to do and they take that impact very well.”

The cutters will be on the job in the St. Marys River until the Soo Locks close January 15. Then they'll have to keep the Straits of Mackinaw clear for the rest of the winter for boats to go between Lakes Erie, Huron and Michigan.

Wisconsin Public Radio


Port Reports -  January 10

St. Marys River
Ice operations were mostly shut down for the night Thursday after the downbound Roger Blough reported it was beset in the ice above Six Mile Point. This left the James R. Barker tied up at the lower locks pier and Edwin H. Gott, Tecumseh, Defiance/Ashtabula and Whitefish Bay on the hook in Whitefish Bay. A flotilla of upbounders were also stopped below the Mud Lake junction buoy. Joyce L. Van Enkevort, Edgar B. Speer, Robert S. Pierson will be convoyed up the river in the morning by the USCG Mackinaw.

Sturgeon Bay, Wis. - Wendell Wilke
Hon. James L. Oberstar arrived overnight and was assisted into her slip Thursday by Selvick tugs.

Straits of Mackinac - Robert Bemben
The USCG cutter Mobile Bay was working much of the day Thursday on the brash field near Lansing Shoal and was breaking ice near the beset Arthur M Anderson, approximately 3.5 nm WSW of Lansing Shoal. Mesabi Miner was approaching Lansing Shoal returning from Lake Michigan with a listed destination of Superior. Earlier, the Mobile Bay assisted the westbound Algoma Olympic and American Mariner. Transit times are long for these escorts covering a distance of approx. 47 nautical miles across ice fields with some difficult spots that appear to be concentrated between Lansing Shoal and White Shoal Light.

Alpena, Mich. - Ben & Chanda McClain
Manitowoc unloaded at Lafarge during the night and departed early Thursday morning. The tug Manitou helped the Calumet return to Lafarge Thursday morning so it could finish unloading coal. Around 9 pm the Manitou left its dock in the river to help the Calumet out through the bay. The Manitou is heading to Cheboygan, Mich., to do more icebreaking work.

Port Colborne - Peter Bates
On Thursday the CCGS Griffon is assisted Algoma Enterprise to enter Port Colborne piers for winter lay-up.

Kingston, Ont. - Ron Walsh
The shipping season has not quite ended in this area. At 1400 Thursday, Stephen B. Roman was approaching Picton to load cement. She will be battling ice in the Adolphus Reach. The Kingston harbor area is completely frozen over except for the ferry track. The ice was broken in the recent wind but is now a complete sheet. Last winter the harbor never froze over. The Frontenac II and the Frontenac Howe Islander had to stop service at times, in the recent winds, cold temperatures and snow. The Wolfe Islander III has been delayed due to broken ice in their track. The three “BIG” grain barges in Elevator Bay are frozen in solid.


Lookback #54 – Prindoc – January 10, 1967

1/10 - Sixty mile an hour winds dislodged the Prindoc from her winter berth at Cardinal 47 years ago today. The wayward ship began heading down the St. Lawrence with a crew of one, the shipkeeper, on board. He managed to get the vessel anchored before it reached the Iroquois Dam.

Prindoc, the third vessel of this name in the Paterson fleet, had been built by Davie Shipbuilding at Lauzon, Quebec, in 1966 and entered service in April of that year. It saw early work in the coal trade but, was soon handling a wide variety of cargoes.

The 315-foot long freighter was also engaged in coastal work venturing south along the Atlantic seaboard and on to Caribbean destinations. In 1973, the ship went to Colombia and then returned to Canada with sulphur loaded at New Orleans for Contrecouer.

Prindoc was sold and renamed Hankey in 1982. It loaded at Hamilton, Valleyfield and Cacouna before heading south. The ship was resold in 1990 and renamed CLARET III, again in 1992 becoming S. Saranta and finally Platana in 1997.

The 31 year old ship arrived at Aliaga,Turkey, on July 23, 1997, under her own power, and was broken up by Dortel Gemi Sokum Ticaret.

Skip Gillham


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 anchor 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.


Coast Guard leading convoys through the St. Clair River

1/9 - Port Huron, Mich. – The United States Coast Guard is working with freighters along the St. Clair River to provide safe escort through the ice. Lt. Jillian Lamb, command center chief for the United States Coast Guard Sector Detroit, said convoys are required for all commercial vessels traveling the St. Clair River because of the ice.

Lamb said U.S. and Canadian Coast Guard officials are in regular contact with vessels, coordinating groups to be escorted down the St. Clair River by an icebreaker.

She said it’s not uncommon for freighters to anchor or moor along the river while they wait for members of their convoy or their lead icebreaker.

Four icebreakers are working in the areas of responsibility from the western basin of Lake Erie to the lower part of Lake Huron: The Canadian Coast Guard Ship Samuel Risley, the CCGS Griffon, the United States Coast Guard Cutter Morro Bay and the USCGC Neah Bay.

Port Huron Times Herald


Port Reports -  January 9

St. Marys River – Jerry Masson
After a full day of icebreaking on the St Marys River, most icebreakers were heading for the dock Wednesday night. Ten to 18-hour days are being spent on breaking ice for stranded ships at the narrow turns in the river. As Rock Cut ice continues to clog the downbound lane, some are transiting through the upbound lane past Neebish and St Joseph islands. The Sugar Island ferry has been unable to make dock due to heavy ice packs on mainland side, and the cutter Mackinaw has been called to assist. As night fell, the CSL Assiniboine was downbound through the upbound Neebish Channel but was having difficulty in the Stribling Point area and at 10 p.m. was not moving. The downbound Kaye E. Barker was stopped below Six Mile Point for the night. The downbound Philip R. Clarke was tied up for the night on the lower Poe Lock pier. Several vessels were either stuck in the ice or stopped for the night above the locks, including Ojibway, James R. Barker and Roger Blough. Tecumseh was coming in past Ile Parisienne. The upbound Edgar B. Speer was stopped in the lower river north of Lime Island.

Straits of Mackinac - Robert Bemben
After being escorted across the ice fields north of Beaver Island Tuesday by the USCG cutter Mobile Bay, Paul R. Tregurtha was cruising on the open waters of Lake Michigan until Wednesday morning when it entered the ice of Green Bay and was approaching Escanaba. Tuesday night, the Mobile Bay escorted the eastbound Manitowoc and Algoeast through the tough ice field between Lansing Shoal and White Shoal Light, then all three ships overnighted in the ice. Robert S. Pierson did not join this group and remained at Lansing Shoal. After escorting the Manitowoc and Algoeast through Round Island Passage Wednesday morning, Mobile Bay was headed back west for more Straits ice duty and likely to escort the Robert S. Pierson and possibly the Joyce Van Enkevort, which was headed up Lake Michigan towards Lansing Shoal.

Alpena, Mich. - Ben & Chanda McClain
The tugboat Manitou broke up ice in the shipping channel and into Lafarge for the Calumet late Monday night. Ice was 6-8 inches thick and the Calumet slowly made its way in with assistance from the Manitou as it docked on a frigid night. The Calumet proceeded to slowly unload coal on Tuesday and Wednesday. Fleetmate Manitowoc was headed for the same dock at Lafarge Wednesday evening so the Calumet was pushed by the tug Manitou out into the bay where it will have to wait to finish its unload once the Manitowoc departs. The Manitowoc unloaded into the storage hopper.

Detroit River - Robert Burns
On Wednesday around 11:30 a.m. the Manistee plowed through ice in the Trenton Channel on its way to the Trenton DTE power plant to unload coal. The Great Lakes Towing tug Superior assisted in the passage by breaking a path through the channel. This is the first time in over a decade that this part of the channel has frozen across this early in the year.

Toledo, Ohio - Denny Dushane
H. Lee White arrived at the Torco Dock Tuesday to unload iron ore and was still there on Wednesday. After unloading, she will lay-up in Toledo for the winter. The updated schedule for the Torco Dock now has Lee A. Tregurtha arriving on Saturday, January 11 in the early morning and the tug Joyce L. Van Enkevort / barge Great Lakes Trader due on Saturday, January 25. Both arrivals are subject to change due to weather and ice conditions. The ASC 1,000 footer American Integrity arrived on Tuesday for winter lay-up in Toledo and now joins her ASC fleetmates American Courage, American Century, Buffalo and the tug Ken Boothe Sr. and barge Lakes Contender. Adam E. Cornelius, American Fortitude and the American Valor still remain in long-term lay-up. The ferry Jiimaan remains in port as well.


Great Lakes limestone trade up slightly in 2013

1/9 - Cleveland, Ohio – Shipments of limestone on the Great Lakes totaled 27.6 million tons in 2013, an increase of 1.7 percent compared to 2012. The trade was, however, 4 percent below its long-term average.

Shipments from U.S. ports totaled 23.9 million tons, an increase of 5.7 percent compared to 2012. That total is also the highest for U.S. ports since 2008. Shipments from Canadian ports totaled 3.7 million tons, a decrease of 18 percent compared to 2013.

The stone trade was pretty well wrapped by mid-December. Shipments during the ice season that statistically began on December 16 totaled 313,000 tons, or 25 percent of the December float. The limestone trade does typically end sooner than iron ore and coal as much of the stone moving on the Lakes is washed prior to loading into vessels and hence susceptible to freezing as temperature plummet.

Lake Carriers Association


Winter fleet coming to Sturgeon Bay

1/9 - January is expected to be a busy month for the movement of vessels scheduled to over-winter in Sturgeon Bay. According to the tentative schedule put together for the Bay Shipbuilding winter fleet, the plan is for the Joseph Block and the Wilfred Sykes to arrive on Friday. The Arthur M. Anderson, which was previously set to reach port on Thursday of this week, is not expected to arrive until Sunday, January 12th, along with the Hon. James L. Oberstar. The tentative schedule also calls for eight other vessels to reach Sturgeon Bay in January.



New saltwater visitors in 2013

1/9 - The following is a list of 51 new saltwater visitors that traded on the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Seaway during the 2013 shipping season.

The 51 first-time visitors were less than the 89 first-time visitors in the 2012 shipping season. The list includes AK Brother, Algoma Hansa, Anuket Ruby, As Omaria, Avonborg, Ayane, BBC Celina, BBC Fuji, BBC Kwiatkowski, BBC Queensland, BBC Rushmore, Bum Eun, Chem Hydra, Chem Norma, Cl Hanse Gate, Clipper Karina, CT Dublin, El Zorro, Elisabeth Schulte, Everhard Schulte, Exeborg, Fairchem Charger, Flevogracht, Harbour Fountain, Harbour Pioneer, Hellespont Crusader, Hollandia, Hr Maria, Industrial Eagle, Intrepid Republic, Jan S, Kristin Knutsen, Lady Doris, Lalandia Swan, Ocean Crescent, Panthera, Peter Schulte, Qamutik, Raba, Regalica, Rio Dauphin, Sloman Herakles, Sloman Hermes, Tiwala, Volgaborg, Weser, Yulia, Zealand Beatrix, Zealand Delilah, Zealand Juliana and Zhuang Yuan Ao. Of the 51 vessles, the Avonborg has an interesting history. This is the second vessel in the Wagenborg fleet to bear the name. The first Avonborg was built in 2009 for Wagenborg Shipping, however this vessel was sold and renamed the Jose Leonardo Chirnos from Venezuela in July 2011. Later, Wagenborg ordered a new Avonborg built in 2012 and this newer Avonborg entered the Great Lakes/Seaway in 2013. One other new visitor to the Great Lakes/Seaway in 2013, the Algoma Hansa, is also a sistership to Algoma Central Corporation's tanker Algosea which is a common site on the Great Lakes/Seaway system. Algoma Hansa is registered in Nassau, Bahamas. Denny Dushane


Steel production rises by 7,000 tons in Great Lakes states

1/9 - Raw steel production in the country's Great Lakes region fell to 666,000 tons in the week that ended Saturday, according to an American Iron and Steel Institute estimate.

Production dropped by about 7,000 tons, or about 1 percent, from the week prior. Most of the raw steel production in the Great Lakes region takes place in Indiana and the Chicago area.

Production in the Southern District was estimated at 607,000 tons, up from 569,000 tons a week earlier. Total domestic raw steel production last week was about 1.82 million tons, up from 1.77 million tons a week earlier.

U.S. steel mills had a capacity utilization rate of 76.1 percent last week, up from 74 percent a week earlier. The capacity utilization rate had been 74.4 percent at the same time last year.

Domestic mills have produced an estimated 1.82 million tons of steel this year, up 0.6 percent from the same period last year. The mills had made about 1.81 million tons of steel by Jan. 4, 2013.

Steel imports fell by 17 percent to 2.32 million tons in December, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute.

The United States imported about 31.9 tons of steel in 2013, a 5 percent decrease from 2012. Imports grabbed a 21 percent market share last year.

North West Indiana Times


Lookback #53 – Santona stranded in Red Sea on January 9, 1983

1/9 - The British freighter Santona was built at Aberdeen, Scotland, in 1959, the year the St. Lawrence Seaway opened, and the 294-foot long vessel made two trips to the Great Lakes during that navigation season.

Santona served the Donaldson Line and was a frequent caller at ports around the inland seas. By the end of 1967 the ship had made 36 Seaway transits in each direction. It was lengthened to 355 feet in 1966 increasing carrying capacity from 2530 tons deadweight to 3426 tons.

The vessel was sold to Maldives Shipping Ltd. in 1974 and renamed Maldive Trader. It stranded on North Jumna Shoal, in the Red Sea off Sudan, 31 years ago today. The hull was refloated, taken to Karachi, Pakistan, for examination and then sold for scrap. It arrived at Gadani Beach for dismantling on April 2, 1983, at the age of 24.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  January 9

News Photo Gallery
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.


Great Lakes Towing assists USCG Katmai Bay at Soo

1/8 - Cleveland, Ohio – The Great Lakes Towing Company came to the aid of the United States Coast Guard Monday night in the St. Marys River just two miles east of the U.S. Coast Guard Station, Sector Sault Ste. Marie. The 140-foot Bay-class Icebreaking tug Katmai Bay (WTGB 101) was dead in the icy waters and required towing assistance to its homeport dock. Around 10:45 pm Monday, the tug Missouri was dispatched to break ice and assist the Katmai Bay back to its dock two hours later.

The Missouri is homeported in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan to assist vessels through the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers locks and to provide emergency rescue assistance and icebreaking when needed. This winter, the Missouri and other tugs of The Great Lakes Towing Company fleet have been extremely busy providing icebreaking assistance to vessels on all the Great Lakes.

The Great Lakes Towing Company collaborates and coordinates its ice breaking operations with the U.S. Coast Guard icebreaking task groups on the Great Lakes, namely Sector Detroit’s Operation Taconite and Sector Sault Ste. Marie’s Operation Coal Shovel. Operation Taconite is the largest domestic icebreaking operation in the United States.

For the past 115 years, the Towing Company has provided commercial ice breaking in ports and harbors throughout the Great Lakes. The U.S. and Canadian Coast Guards provide icebreaking assistance in waters where commercial icebreaking resources are either unavailable or incapable of handling the difficult ice conditions.

Great Lakes Towing Company


Port Reports -  January 8

St. Marys River
The downbound American Mariner, which had been caught in ice in the Rock Cut for almost two days, was finally freed Tuesday afternoon by the USCG Mackinaw and the G tug Missouri. However she soon encountered more ice difficulty near Moon Island, from which she was ultimately extricated later in the evening. CSL Assiniboine was stopped at the locks waiting for the American Mariner to be freed. It took nearly 24 hours and assistance from the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Biscayne Bay for the CSL Assiniboine to makes its way from Isle Parisienne to the locks, a trip that takes about two hours in good weather. Meanwhile, the USCG Bristol Bay was assisting the upbound CSL Laurentien in the lower river Tuesday afternoon and evening, while USCG Biscayne Bay was helping the downbound Algocanada in the vicinity of Lime Island. Kaministiqua was also upbound north of Pipe Island.

Straits of Mackinac - Robert Bemben
Tuesday morning the USCG cutter Mobile Bay was escorting the Paul R. Tregurtha westbound to Lansing Shoal after freeing it from ice just east of the Mackinac Bridge. The two vessels were in what the Coast Guard cutter’s master referred to as a minefield of windrows around one mile NNE of White Shoal Light. The two vessels are cutting a track just south of the LCA track to avoid the worst of them. At Lansing Shoal, the Mobile Bay will break out eastbound vessels Manitowoc, Algoeast and the Robert S. Pierson.

St. Clair River Although Edgar B. Speer and Algoma Olympic made it through upbound through heavy ice on Tuesday, Cuyahoga and the tug Victory and her barge were either stuck or hove to at the entrance to the St. Clair River south of Algonac late Tuesday night.

Toledo, Ohio - Denny Dushane
H. Lee White was anchored off of Toledo in ice in Western Lake Erie on Tuesday waiting to unload an iron ore cargo from Marquette for the Torco Dock. The revised schedule for Torco now lists H. Lee White arriving on Wednesday during the morning, followed by the Lee A. Tregurtha on Saturday, January 11 in the early morning. Joyce L. Van Enkevort and Great Lakes Trader are expected to arrive on Saturday, January 25 to unload at the Torco Dock. On Sunday, in addition to the Buffalo arriving for winter lay-up another ASC vessel, the tug Ken Boothe Sr. and barge Lakes Contender also arrived on Sunday for lay-up at the CSX Docks. This is the first time that the duo has ever laid-up for the winter in Toledo. There are now four vessels that have arrived for winter lay-up with the American Courage, American Century, Buffalo and the Ken Boothe Sr. and Lakes Contender. Three ASC vessels still are in long-term lay-up the Adam E. Cornelius at the Old Interlake Iron Dock, while fleetmates American Fortitude and American Valor are out at the Lakefront Docks. The ferry Jiimaan still remains in port.

Buffalo, N.Y. - Brian W.
Heavy ice in the Niagara River caused a jam in the area of the North Grand Island bridge on January 7th. Strong winds out of west caused lake levels to surge and ice to overflow the Niagara River Boom in Buffalo. U.S. and Canadian Power Authorities sent out their ice breakers to try and get the ice moving again. Some flooding had been observed along the shore that evening. A blizzard rolled into town making conditions even worse and that much harder for crews to deal with it.


Storm of 1913 exhibit in Port Huron extended

1/8 - Port Huron, Mich. – The Port Huron Museum has extended had an exhibit the exhibit commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Great Lakes Storm of 1913 through February 2

The 1913 Great Lakes storm exhibit has many special exhibits and displays along with short videos and films along with many artifacts and art displays of each vessel lost in the storm especially the ships from Lake Huron which took the worst and full force of the storm.

Visit for more details


In search of historic Cana Island Lighthouse photos

1/8 - Sturgeon Bay, Wis. - The Door County Maritime Museum is seeking period pictures of the historic Cana Island lighthouse in Baileys Harbor to aid with upcoming restoration efforts. Any photos taken at Cana Island between 1921 and 1939 will help the museum in confirming the configuration of the iconic lighthouse during this time period. “We have a lot of photos of Cana in our archives,” said the museum’s executive director Bob Desh, “but we could use some additional images of the light tower and keepers quarters as it looked from 1921 to 1939 to help us confirm the timing and details of changes made to the structure.” Desh added that since Cana Island has been a popular place for Door County residents to visit for decades “we’re hoping someone will have a photo or two in their family album that will help with our information quest. We want to ensure our restoration efforts are as historically accurate as possible.”

The Door County Parks Department in cooperation with the Maritime Museum will embark on a major restoration project at the historic Cana Island Light Station in the spring of 2014. The museum has been involved with preservation of the light station since 1970. The island property and historic buildings were officially transferred to the County in 2006. Currently, five buildings remain on the site: the light tower, keeper’s residence, oil house, privy, and storage shed. The combination of remote rustic setting and intact historic structures provides visitors to Cana Island with a rare glimpse into the Door Peninsula’s maritime past.

Anyone having photos of Cana Island taken between 1921 and 1939 is requested to contact the Maritime Museum at (920) 743-5958. All photos will be carefully scanned and returned to the owner.


Lookback #52 – Cousteau's Calypso sank in a collision on January 8, 1996

1/8 - French oceanographer Jacques Cousteau was known all over the world. His famous vessel Calypso, converted from wooden hulled World War Two vintage minesweeper, was part of his research activity from 1951 until it sank, following a collision with a barge off the west coast of Singapore, 18 years ago today. The 332-gross ton vessel came to the Great Lakes in 1980 for exploratory work. It found the wreck of the Gunilda in 260 feet of water in Lake Superior on September 20. It also sent a mini-submarine to view and film the final resting places of the Edmund Fitzgerald near Whitefish Point and the gunboats Hamilton and Scourge in Lake Ontario. He made two films based on his research from this trip. These were “Cries from the Deep” and “St. Lawrence: Stairway to the Sea.” Following the sinking off Singapore, Calypso was refloated but did not resume its unique service. The ship was taken to Marseilles, France, and laid up pending possible restoration. Various controversies arose concerning the future of the ship and it was erroneously reported as sold for display at Nassau, Bahamas, as a tourist attraction. The ship is still intact, partially restored, and at a French shipyard as officials as the courts sort out the future of the well-known vessel. Cousteau died of a heart attack at Paris, France, on June 25, 1997, at the age of 87. Skip Gillham


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.


Ice pulls Thalassa Desgagnes from dock

1/7 - Heavy ice in the St. Lawrence River caused the Thalassa Desgagnés to break free from her dock at the port of Sorel-Tracy and set the tanker adrift in the river.

"The vessel has drifted from its home port and maneuvers will be carried out to allow a tug to join him and bring him back safely," said Nathalie Letendre, spokesman for the Canadian Coast Guard.

A tug from Montreal is already in place and a second is on its way. There were no injuries or spill, and the ship suffered only minor damage.

The Desgagnes is carrying 6500 cubic meters of heavy fuel oil.

The ice on the river has also forced the interruption of ferry service between Sorel-Tracy at Saint-Ignace-de-Loyola "until the situation improves", said Ferry Company Quebec.

Sunday, all ferry trips between Matane in Baie-Comeau-Godbout were also canceled.

The Canadian Coast Guard has dispatched three icebreakers on Lake Saint-Pierre and near Trois-Rivières to prevent the formation of an ice jam. Two are already in place, a third is on the way.

The Coast Guard hopes to get a little boost from the weather. Warmer temperatures and winds in the direction of ice flow would help to move the ice.

Five ships are currently docked in Trois-Rivières. Two other boats were anchored in the middle of the fairway waiting to continue their trips.

Three ships carrying bauxite, alumina and coke to the port of La Baie are blocked by ice on the St. Lawrence, at different locations along the North Shore .

CBC Radio


Port Reports -  January 7

St. Marys River
USCG Katmai Bay was overheard stating they would be unable to start the mains following several radio conversations with the Mackinaw and Biscayne Bay. During these conversations, the Katmai Bay was requesting a particular type of fuse. All three vessels were in the Little Rapids Cut shortly after 9 p.m.

Toronto, Ont. - Charlie Gibbons
Stephen B. Roman came in late Sunday afternoon to her usual berth.


Hollyhock hull, stern, fantail damaged

1/7 - Port Huron, Mich. - Officials said the United States Coast Guard Cutter Hollyhock sustained damage to its hull, as well as its stern and fantail, after a freighter collided with the cutter in Lake Michigan Sunday.

The Hollyhock is undergoing damage assessment in St. Ignace this morning, said Levi Read, petty officer second class and public affairs specialist at the USCG District Office in Cleveland.

The collision happened about 10:45 a.m., 22 nautical miles west of the Straits of Mackinac.

The Hollyhock was breaking ice for the 1,004-foot Mesabi Miner when it hit a hard spot in the ice. The Mesabi Miner collided with the Hollyhocks stern, Coast Guard officials said Sunday.

According to a statement from the USCG District Office in Cleveland, the Hollyhock sustained two punctures to its hull about 20 feet above the waterline as well as significant damage to its stern and fantail.

The Mesabi Miner reported a 12-inch crack in the bow about 4 feet above the water line. The bow reportedly is pushed in 8 to 12 inches.

The collision resulted in no injuries and no pollution, Read said. Neither vessel reported any flooding.

The Hollyhock arrived at St. Ignace about 8:30 p.m. Sunday, escorted by the USCG Cutter Biscayne Bay.

There are a total of nine cutters capable of ice breaking in the Great Lakes, Read said. The 225-foot Hollyhock was launched in 2003. When its not breaking ice or tending buoys, the Hollyhock is stationed on the St. Clair River at 2700 Omar Street, Port Huron.

Port Huron Times Herald


Lookback #51 Former Orient Explorer burned at Colombo on January 7, 1977

1/7 - The Orient Mid-East Line sent a number of ships into the Great Lakes in the early years of the Seaway. Some were noteworthy, such as Orient Merchant and Orient Trader, for the troubles they encountered on the Great Lakes. Another, the former Orient Explorer, caught fire at Colombo, Sri Lanka, thirty-seven years ago today.

The ship had been a Seaway saltie under three different names. It first came inland as the Norwegian flag freighter Barfonn in 1959 and returned as such in 1966. The 493-foot long, French-built, cargo carrier came back again as Orient Explorer on behalf of the Orient Mid-East Line in 1967 and 1968 and then as Aegean in 1971. The latter two visits were under the flag of Greece.

The ship was sold and registered in Singapore as Tong Thay in 1972 and was at Colombo when fire broke out on January 7, 1977. The 21-year old general cargo carrier was badly damaged and it arrived at Singapore Roads on January 10 for lay-up.

Following a sale to E. Chong Iron & Steel Works, the ship was taken to Kaohsiung, Taiwan, arriving March 24, 1978. Scrapping began on May 16, 1978, and another of our Seaway visitors was dismantled.

Skip Gillham


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.


St. Clair River delays

1/6 - 2:30 p.m. update - Heavy ice packed in the sharp and relatively narrow Southeast Bend of the St. Clair River has delayed the second 1000-footer in three days. American Integrity encountered the same conditions that plagued her fleetmate the American Century; the vessels can’t readily maneuver the tight curve required before lining up for the straight run out the cutoff channel. The ice pressure against the stern inhibits the turning radius of the large freighters. Monday afternoon following traffic was holding position above San Suci on Harsens Island, while the cutters work to relieve the ice pressure.

Chuck Miller


Sunday collision with Mesabi Miner in Straits ice sidelines cutter Hollyhock

1/6 - St. Ignace, Mich. – As night fell Sunday night, the United States Coast Guard cutter Hollyhock was docked in St. Ignace after a collision earlier in the day in the ice-choked Straits of Mackinac west of the Mackinac Bridge.

Meanwhile, some of the vessels that had been jammed in the ice were on the move again, while others were waiting for daylight for Coast Guard assistance.

The collision, at about 10:45 am Sunday with the 1,004-long motor vessel Mesabi Miner, occurred as the Hollyhock was leading a convoy of ships through a particularly solid ridge of ice. Mesabi Miner was astern of the Hollyhock and hit the Hollyhock’s stern when the cutter became stalled by ice and the Miner was unable to stop in time.

Keith Showalter, operations specialist first class for the USCG Sector Sault Ste. Marie, said the Hollyhock sustained significant damage to its stern and fantail. Mesabi Miner sustained damage to its bow.

No injuries and no pollution resulted from the collision, the Coast Guard said.

After her crew assessed damage to the stern port quarter, Hollyhock started toward St. Ignace, escorted by the USCG cutter Biscayne Bay, which was called from its icebreaking mission in the lower St. Marys River.

According to radio traffic from the Mesabi Miner, the vessel was stuck in two windrows, or compression ridges, one amidship and one at the bow. It was those windrows that caused the trouble Sunday morning. Mesabi Miner is carrying iron ore to Gary, Ind.

With Hollyhock sidelined, the USCG cutter Mobile Bay took up the mantle, working to free the other vessels in the Straits. Late in the afternoon, the tug Joyce L. Van Enkevort dropped her barge Great Lakes Trader in the ice and headed east to cut a track to the side to get around the other vessels before picking the barge back up and resuming her westerly course.

The Hon. James L. Oberstar and Indiana Harbor decided to follow the Joyce L Van Enkevort’s lead and try to head west. The Oberstar called the Van Enkevort, saying he’d stay around one and a half miles back. The Van Enkevort’s captain replied that keeping clear was a good idea, since he could see some ice windrows ahead.

As midnight approached, Stewart J. Cort and Arthur M. Anderson were moving at a good speed, however the eastbound Calumet and Lee A. Tregurtha were stopped. The Coast Guard said cutter assistance would return at first light Monday.

Hollyhock damaged on Sunday
hollyhock1-5-14.jpg (30804 bytes) hollyhockc1-5-14.jpg (22324 bytes)
Damage on the stern where she was struck by the Mesabi Miner while escorting the 1000-footer through the ice.
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Damage to the stern and fantail during a collision with the Mesabi Mine
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Mesabi Miner suffered a puncture in its bow about 4 feet above the waterline during a collision with the Coast Guard Cutter Hollyhock
Minerdamage1-5-14.jpg (86335 bytes)
Damage from inside the Miner

Robert Bemben, Port Huron Times Herald


Shifting ice complicates Coast Guard effort in St. Clair River

1/6 - Most traffic in the southern end of the St. Clair River was moving again Sunday night, thanks to the efforts to the CCGS Samuel Risley and the USCG cutters Neah Bay and Morro Bay. Earlier in the day, the dounbound Herbert C. Jackson had been beset, with the upbound CSL Laurentien and Algosteel had to stop in the ice off Buoy 14 in Lake St. Clair waiting for the downbound Jackson to clear. As midnight approached, the Jackson had reached her dock at Severstal Steel in the Rouge River. Algosteel was at anchor in the St. Clair River north of Marine City, with Sam Laud and Paul R. Tregurtha nearby.

Chuck Miller


Big boats battle icy harbor at Thunder Bay

1/6 - Thunder Bay, Ont. – The challenge is on to get boats in and out of Thunder Bay Harbor ahead of the Soo Locks’ closure on Jan. 15. It’s a challenge because of the thick ice that has settled into the harbor amid the cold snap that has embraced much of Canada.

“I haven’t seen ice this thick in 25 years,” Gerry Dawson, owner of the Point Valour tugboat that provides ice breaking services, said Thursday after leading the way for the Frontenac, which docked at Keefer Terminal to refuel before heading to the Mission grain terminal.

The thick ice called for some slick moves by both vessels.

“We have been spoiled in the last 5 to 10 years with minimal ice at this time of year,’’ said Dawson. “There is 15 inches of solid blue ice, and it’s making two to three inches every night on top of that,” he said.

Harbour master Guy Jarvis said the locks in Sault Ste. Marie officially close on Jan. 15 and the Port of Thunder Bay is expecting its last boat on Jan. 9 or 10.

“As long as the vessel operators can get icebreaking assistance through our local tug operators and the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Alder, they will continue doing traffic to the latest possible date,” said Jarvis. The locks are to reopen on March 25, launching the 2014 shipping season.

The Chronicle-Journal


Port Reports -  January 6

St. Marys River
Traffic was moving with little trouble for most of Sunday, however in the evening the downbound American Mariner became beset in the Rock Cut. She was being assisted by the G-tug Missouri, which had accompanied her down the river. USCG Bristol Bay was hove to in Mud Lake. The tug Leonard M and barge Huron Spirit, which have been loading steel coils for more than at week at Essar Steel, were expected to depart downbound on Monday morning.

Toledo, Ohio - Denny Dushane
H. Lee White is expected to arrive at the Torco Dock on Monday in the morning to unload iron ore pellets, weather and ice permitting. After her will be the Herbert C. Jackson, expected to arrive at Torco on Friday, January 10 in the late morning. Buffalo also arrived in Toledo in the morning on Sunday and is now in winter-layup, joining the American Courage and the American Century, all of which have since arrived for lay-up. The ferry Jiimaan and the tug John Spence remain in port as well.


More ice on Lake Michigan than seen in decades

1/6 - Muskegon, Mich. - Lake Michigan water levels hit historical lows last year, but this cold winter may be helping in the Great Lakes' recovery. According to Environment Canada, the Great Lakes haven't had this much ice so early in the season since the late 1980s.

Great Lakes ice can be a bad thing, especially for shipping: a week before Christmas, a freighter carrying 17,000 tons of coal got stuck on thick ice on Muskegon Lake. This meant Consumers Energy had to cancel its last two coal shipments of the winter.

On the plus side, ice has the benefit of raising water levels in the Great Lakes. Alan Steinman of the Annis Water Resources Institute explains, "When you have more ice formation, you have less direct contact with the atmosphere, less opportunity for evaporation and that keeps the water levels up."

For the last 20 years with lower ice coverage, more water had evaporated, contributing to the low water levels seen last year. "We were setting records for the lowest water level in recorded history," explains Steinman.

Another benefit to more ice coverage and less evaporation is less cloud cover and less lake effect snow. In other words, you will see the sun more.

From a historical perspective, the current ice level is on track to do something we haven't seen in decades: cover most of Lake Michigan. Looking at a NOAA ice coverage map from January of 1977 it looks a lot like the current ice coverage map today, according to WZZM 13 Chief Meteorologist George Lessens, "1977 was one of the coldest winters on record."



ArcelorMittal to sell $1.1 billion stake in Canadian unit

1/6 - ArcelorMittal, the world's biggest steelmaker, will sell a 15 percent stake in one of its Canadian iron ore operations, raising $1.1 billion to help pay off debt at a time of sluggish demand. The group, which makes about 6-7 percent of the world's steel, will sell the stake in ArcelorMittal Mines Canada to a consortium including South Korean steelmaker POSCO and Taiwan-listed China Steel, it said on January 2.

It is the latest in a series of steps to raise funds as slow global economic growth and spending cuts in Europe dampen demand for steel used in the car and construction industry. "It's one of the more readily disposable parts of the business, and given they need to reduce debt I don't think its a massive surprise they are selling it," said Nomura analyst Neil Sampat.

ArcelorMittal wrote down the value of its European business by $4.3 billion last month and has had its credit rating cut to non-investment grade by all credit rating agencies.

Its net debt rose by $1.2 billion during the third quarter to $23.2 billion at the end of September. The World Steel Association in October forecast steel demand would rise 2.1 percent in 2012, down from 6.2 percent in 2011.

ArcelorMittal Mines Canada operates two large open-pit mines in the province of Quebec, where it also owns the Port-Cartier industrial complex that includes a pellet plant, storage areas and port facilities for shipping.

ArcelorMittal also owns the huge Mary River iron ore project in Canada's arctic, in which it sold a 20 percent stake to joint venture partner Nunavut last month. As part of the deal POSCO, China Steel and ArcelorMittal Mines Canada will enter into long-term iron ore supply agreements, ArcelorMittal said.

ArcelorMittal's shares rose 3.7 percent in January 02 trading after the deal was announced, while POSCO shares were up 2.6 percent and China Steel rose 0.9 percent.

The group needs the funds to help compensate a slump in Europe, where demand is estimated to have fallen about 8 percent in 2012 and 29 percent since the start of the financial crisis in 2007.

ArcelorMittal has already announced the closure of blast furnaces in Belgium and France, with other operations on the continent also being temporarily idled due to overcapacity. The Canadian deal will give POSCO, the world's fourth-biggest steelmaker, increased access to iron ore. POSCO currently imports nearly all of its key raw materials and owns a 12.5 percent stake in Australia's $10 billion Roy Hill project.

Earlier, a South Korean wire service Yonhap Infomax reported China Steel and POSCO would jointly contribute $540 million, while the remainder was expected to be paid by financial investors including South Korea's National Pension Service.

A POSCO spokeswoman confirmed a consortium involving POSCO signed a stock purchase agreement to acquire a stake in the iron ore mine operator, but declined to give details.

ArcelorMittal is one of Canada's top exporters of iron ore to steel markets around the world and its operations account for about 40 percent of Canada's iron ore output. The transaction is subject to approval from the Taiwanese government, and is expected to close in two installments in the first and second quarters of 2013.

Business Recorder


Lookback #50 – Rough voyage for Ontario No. 1 on January 6-7, 1924

1/6 - - It was not a pleasant ride across Lake Ontario for the crew of the Ontario No. 1 ninety years ago tonight. The rail car carrier was in service between Cobourg, Ontario, and Rochester, New York, for the Ontario Car Ferry Company, which was owned by the Buffalo, Rochester & Pittsburgh Railway.

The 316-foot, 1-inch long steamer was built at Toronto and began service on November 14, 1907. The ship might get in two round trips a day, usually with rail cars full of coal for use by Canadian locomotives, returning with the empty cars.

A wild winter storm churned up Lake Ontario on January 6, 1924, catching Ontario No. 1 out on the lake. The vessel kept heading into the wind, as it did not have a sea gate on the stern. The captain was finally able to anchor off Port Credit and, as the winds subsided, he took the ship into Toronto with an estimated three feet of ice on deck.

Ontario No. 1 operated until August 1, 1949. It was sold for scrap and towed to Port Colborne by the tug H.J.D. No. 1 on July 9, 1950. There the hull was dismantled at Ramey's Bend by Marine Salvage.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  January 6

News Photo Gallery


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.


Ice delays in the Straits

1/5 - 8:30 p.m. update - As the Hollyhock limps home behind the Biscayne Bay, the USCG Mobile Bay arrived at the site of the collision earlier today, freeing the Mesabi Miner with assistance from the USCG Katmai Bay.

According to the Mesabi Miner, he was stuck in two windrows, or compression ridges, one amidship and one at his bow. He also said it was these windrows that caused the 'snafu' this morning.

The Mobile Bay is waiting for the Arthur M. Anderson, which is not beset, to head out on the track of the Stewart J. Cort, and will then cut a track from ahead of the Mesabi Miner, towards its bow, and will then break ice on the freighter's port and starboard sides to relief ice pressure and break a track for the 1000-footer to head out on.

5:30 p.m. update - The USCG Hollyhock was underway moving at 4.5 knots on the track broken by the Biscayne Bay, returning to St. Ignace.

Joyce L Van Enkevort was moving at 8 knots and heading to open water that is just one-quarter mile or so past the Lee A Tregurtha according to the Tregurtha. However, the Oberstar and Indiana Harbor are slowing down behind the Van Enkevort. The Stewart J. Cort, Arthur M. Anderson and Mesabi Miner will likely shut down for the night and wait for assistance.

4 p.m. update - The USCG cutter Biscayne Bay, which is now underway west of the bridge to escort the Hollyhock back to St. Ignace and will then take over as the Straits asset for icebreaking. The Biscayne Bay noted that at this point it does not look like it will be breaking ice at night. When it returns to the convoy will depend in part on how smoothly the escort back to St. Ignace goes.

The Joyce L Van Enkevort returned east to the convoy briefly and now appears to be following its own track west again, possibly in an effort to avoid hard freezing of its barge notch and to try to make westward progress towards the Tregurtha and Calumet which are holding positions just North West of Garden Island.

The Oberstar and Indiana Harbor decided to follow the Joyce L Van Enkevort’s lead and try to head west. The Oberstar called the Van Enkevort, saying he’d stay around one and a half miles back. The Van Enkevort replied that keeping clear was a good idea, since he could see some ice windrows ahead.

12:30 p.m. update - USCG Sector Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan issued a securite call to vessels transiting the Straits of Mackinac informing them of a collision between the Mesabi Miner and the USCG cutter Hollyhock. At the time of the collision, the Mesabi Miner was the lead freighter in a convoy of 6 freighters following the track being cut by the Hollyhock. Shortly before the collision, the Hollyhock had reported to other vessels in the convoy on Marine Ch. 8 that it had encountered an ice pressure ridge and had to slow down, requesting that following vessels do the same.

All convoy vessels are stopped at a position northeast of Hog Island, around 22 nautical miles west of the Mackinac Bridge.

Original report: Several lakers overnighted west of the Mackinac Bridge, beset in ice, and icebreaking operations began at dawn Sunday morning to free them and break a westbound track. 

USCG icebreaker Hollyhock first made a starboard pass around the Hon. James L. Oberstar, best just one-quarter mile west of the bridge, then it freed the Stewart J. Cort and the Arthur M. Andersen and led the convoy west toward the Mesabi Miner, which was beset in ice just northeast of Grays Reef. The westbound Indiana Harbor caught up with the group took up a position behind the Oberstar, not wanting to miss out on the convoy.

As it approached the Mesabi Miner, the Hollyhock slowed from around 8 knots to 4 knots in some tough ice, and the lakers, all maintaining around 1 mile spacing slowed in response. About 11 a.m. the Mesabi Miner reported that they had suffered bow damage and would report back. Unconfirmed reports say she may have made contact with the Hollyhock.

Robert Bemben


Shifting Ice Complicates Coast Guard Effort in the Southeast Bend

1/5 - 8:30 p.m. update - Canadian Coast Guard Ship Samuel Risley arrived downbound about 4:30 p.m. to assist the smaller U.S. Coast Guard cutters working to free the Herbert C. Jackson.

The extra icebreaker quickly had the Jackson moving downbound with the USCG Neah Bay escorting. The Morro Bay and Samuel Risley took the Algosteel and CSL Laurentien upbound. Algosteel, who had been waiting to transit since Friday afternoon, made it through without incident but the Laurentien became stuck and required close escort.

By 8:30 p.m. traffic was moving upbound and the USCG Neah Bay returned upbound to work track maintenance in the St. Clair Flats.

2:30 p.m. update - The cutters Morro Bay and Neah Bay continue to work the Herbert C. Jackson through the Southeast Bend ice jam. Meanwhile, CSL Laurentien and Algosteel have been stopped in the ice off Buoy 14 in Lake St. Clair waiting for the downbound Jackson to clear. A recent report from the Laurentian indicates the ice has started to move in the Lake and the movement is raising concern of being pushed outside of the narrow channel. Laurentien and Algosteel will attempt to move up into the cutoff channel to gain shelter while they await the Jackson’s progress.

Original Report:
The Herbert C. Jackson became beset above the Southeast bend at 9:50 a.m. With the USCG Neah Bay in support, as of 11:15 a.m., they have moved less than 1/4 mile in the thick tightly-packed brash.

The Algosteel and CSL Laurentien are stopped below the Lake St. Clair Crib Light waiting, while the Algoma Olympic and tug Victory are in the Belle Isle Anchorage.

Chuck Miller


USCG Hollyhock, Mesabi Miner involved in Straits ice collision

1/5 - The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Hollyhock was hit from behind by a freighter earlier Sunday morning in the Straits of Mackinac. The collision happened about 10:45 a.m. Sunday about 22 nautical miles west of the Mackinac Bridge, said Keith Showalter, operations specialist first class for the USCG Sector Sault Ste. Marie.

The Hollyhock was breaking ice, cutting a line west, and hit a hard spot in the ice, Showalter said. The 1,004-foot Mesabi Miner was astern of the Hollyhock and hit the Hollyhock's stern. Showalter said the Hollyhock sustained significant damage to its stern and fantail. The Mesabi Miner sustained damage to its bow.

The Hollyhock is headed back to St. Ignace. The USCG cutter Biscayne Bay is coming south to help clear the Hollyhock's path back to shore, Showalter said. Biscayne Bay was breaking ice in the lower St. Marys River at the time of the collision.

At the time of the incident, the Hollyhock was leading a convoy of vessels through the ice that also included Stewart J. Cort, Arthur M. Anderson, Indiana Harbor and the Hon. James L. Oberstar. At 3 p.m., none of the vessels were moving.

The Mesabi Miner was carrying iron ore for Gary, Ind. It will continue toward Gary, Showalter said.

No injuries and no pollution resulted from the collision, said Levi Read, petty officer second class, public affairs specialist at the USCG district office in Cleveland.

Port Huron Times Herald, staff


Port Reports -  January 5

Marquette, Mich. - Rod Burdick
American Mariner loaded ore at the Upper Harbor on a snowy Saturday. Ice is rapidly forming around the ore dock but the harbor is mostly clear.

Toledo, Ohio - Denny Dushane
Algoma Enterprise was still at the Torco Dock unloading an iron ore cargo on Saturday. Saginaw was also in port, unloading grain from Thunder Bay. The revised schedule for Torco lists the H. Lee White, expected to arrive Sunday in the late afternoon, followed by Herbert C. Jackson due on Thursday, January 9 in the late afternoon. Both arrivals can change due to the weather and ice conditions. Vessels arriving for lay-up in Toledo include American Courage and American Century, which arrived late Friday evening and is berthed at the CSX #2 Dock. The tug John Spence and the ferry Jiimaan are still in port.


Winter work kicks off at Great Lakes Shipyard

1/5 - Cleveland, Ohio – The start of the winter layup season at Great Lakes Shipyard is marked by the arrival of Interlake Steamship Company’s articulated tug-barge Dorothy Ann and Pathfinder. The ATB will remain berthed in the yard for planned repairs and routine maintenance, as well as various inspections and miscellaneous renewals.

Other winter layup and repair work scheduled for this winter will include Inland Lakes Management’s Alpena, American Steamship Company’s Sam Laud, and McKeil Marine’s tug Leonard M and Barge Huron Spirit.

To learn more, visit


‘Captain’ John launches lawsuit in bid to save ship from salvage at Toronto waterfront

1/5 - Toronto, Ont. – In a last-ditch effort to prevent his now-defunct floating restaurant from being seized and scrapped, “Captain” John Letnik has launched a countersuit against the Toronto Port Authority seeking more than $1.2 million in damages.

Letnik’s lawsuit, filed Dec. 31, claims the Port Authority has effectively sabotaged his efforts to find a buyer for the ship by refusing to provide a long-term lease for the slip at the foot of Yonge Street or an alternative site on Toronto’s shoreline.

The Port Authority has also violated the Landlord and Tenant Act by forcing Letnik, 75, out of the on-board apartment where he lived after bringing the ship, the Jadran, from his native Yugoslavia in the 1970s, the suit claims.

Port Authority, City of Toronto and Waterfront Toronto officials moved in tandem in June 2012 to turn off the water and shut down the restaurant over years of nonpayment of realty taxes, berthing and other fees that, with penalties, now exceed $1 million.

There are more than $650,000 worth of mortgages outstanding on the ship, according to a statement of claim filed by the Port Authority with the Federal Court on Dec. 2, the critical first step in moving to seize the ship.

Since the shutdown, the rusting relic has become even more of an eyesore and an irritant for civic officials: In the next few weeks, condo buyers will start moving into their upscale suites in the Residences of Pier 27 development right next door, although the developer of the project had been told the ship, now firmly wedged in frozen Lake Ontario, would be gone months ago.

Work was supposed to start last fall on a park that will run under the gangplank of the 300-foot-long ship.

“I may be down, but I’m not out,” a defiant Letnik says. “I am not running away. What they are doing to me is not fair. I started begging them 10 years ago for a (long-term) lease and they just ignored me.”

At least one potential buyer, a multi-millionaire who’d hoped to turn the ship into an entertainment venue, had also asked for a long-term lease as assurance the ship would have a home long enough to make it worthwhile spending millions in restoration.

Port Authority officials declined to comment Friday, but have made it clear in the past there are no alternative sites, especially with the parking, water and sewage capacity to handle crowds.

Both the authority’s December court filing and a marine survey commissioned last November paint a stark picture of a badly listing ship that’s now become more unsightly albatross than civic landmark.

“The vessel’s age and condition preclude any value as an economical going concern,” says the assessment by Bahamas-based surveyor Intamico Shipping Ltd. There are traces of asbestos on some piping, “old toxic paint flaking throughout” and the strong stench of rot and mildew permeates the main deck, it notes.

Meanwhile, the costs keep climbing every day the ship sits at the foot of Yonge Street: Some $137,414.50 in berthing fees haven’t been paid from May 1, 2009 to Nov. 30, 2013, and those continue to climb at about $85 per day.

The authority’s statement of claim also seeks repayment of $18,830 for charges “incurred to preserve and maintain the integrity, safety and security of the ship and the environment.” It’s asked the Federal Court to approve the seizure and sale of the ship and an order forcing Letnik to repay the difference between the sale price and money owed to the Port Authority.

The court document describes the ship’s current value as “negligible.”

Letnik plans to represent himself. His only “legal” experience is the few times he’s appeared before Landlord and Tenant tribunals, dealing with tenants of a small Scarborough apartment building he owns who have defaulted on rent.

Letnik’s ultimate goal is to have the case go all the way to the Supreme Court in hopes he can once again challenge a key issue — which he’s lost in the past — that he shouldn’t have to pay back realty taxes because the Jadran is a ship floating in water, not a house anchored on land.

Toronto Star


Lookback # 49 - A.S. Glossbrenner hit bottom January 5, 1976

1/5 - Things were looking good aboard the A.S. Glossbrenner 38 years ago today. The crew had missed Christmas at home and New Year's parties but, as they approached Port McNicoll for winter lay-up, their work would soon be done. However, there was trouble ahead.

The 730-foot long, 10-year old bulk carrier hit something entering the harbor, ripping open the bottom of the hull. The ship had to be unloaded immediately due to the extensive damage and, come spring, proceeded to Port Weller Dry Docks in St. Catharines for repairs. Once out of the water, it was discovered that the big laker had picked up a very large rock in the accident and this had to be removed before the ship could be repaired.

Originally part of the Labrador Steamship Co., A.S. Glossbrenner joined Algoma Central in 1971 and was renamed Algogulf by them in 1987. The ship was idle much of 1989 as preparatory work proceeded to have the vessel rebuilt at a self-unloader. The reported $15.7 million conversion was completed at Port Weller in March 1990 and the vessel returned to service as Algosteel. It continues to operate for Algoma under this name and is active in the aggregates trades.

Skip Gillham


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.


St. Clair River ice continues to halt shipping

1/4 - Tug Defiance and tug Everlast with their barges were cleared to proceed upbound early Friday afternoon. The small convoy reached the St. Clair Cutoff Channel before grinding to a halt about 2p.m. in the same area the downbound 1000-footer American Century was stuck.

The USCG Morro Bay worked with the pair, finally getting the Defiance and barge Ashtabula past Russell Island about 7:30 p.m. Morro Bay led the Defiance upbound, entering Lake Huron about 9:30 while the Defiance was stopping for fuel in Sarnia.

Tug Everlast and her barge remained stuck in the St. Clair Cutoff Channel all afternoon. The USCG Neah Bay arrived upbound to assist about 9:30 p.m.

Traffic delayed by the ice included Algosteel, anchored off Detroit, and Herbert C. Jack son and tug Olive L. Moore, anchored off Port Huron.


Port Reports -  January 4

Marquette, Mich. - Rod Burdick
American Mariner unloaded the final cargo of the season for the Lower Harbor Shiras Dock on Friday. She delivered western coal from Superior and shifted to LS&I ore dock at the Upper Harbor late in the afternoon.

St. Marys River
Downbound traffic was moving slowly Friday morning at the Soo, with the Mesabi Miner clearing the first of the trouble spots at the Rock Cut around noon with the assistance of USCG Mackinaw. Sam Laud and American Integrity were lining up astern. However James R. Barker was having difficulty in the upbound channel near Johnson's Point and was was being assisted by CCGS Samuel Risley. Ojibway, Baie Comeau and Edwin H. Gott were waiting astern of the Barker for the way to become clear. The Barker, which had difficulty with ice getting into the Poe Lock when it eventually reached the harbor, finally locked upbound around 9 p.m. As the evening drew to a close, Hon. James L. Oberstar was waiting on the lower pier at the Soo Locks for daylight before resuming her downbound trip. Arthur M. Anderson, Stewart J. Cort and Paul R. Tregurtha were stopped in Hay Lake, waiting for morning before attempting the challenging West Neebish Cut.

Toledo, Ohio - Denny Dushane
Algoma Enterprise arrived in the mid-afternoon on a very cold Friday afternoon to unload iron ore pellets at the Torco Dock. Two vessels both from American Steamship are tentatively scheduled for arrivals at Torco, weather and ice permitting: H. Lee White is expected to arrive on Sunday in the early morning, followed by her ASC fleetmate American Mariner on Monday in the early morning. American Courage was the first vessel of the season to lay up in this port, arriving late on Thursday evening. Her ASC fleetmate American Century arrived for winter layup. There were several other vessels in port, including the ferry Jiimaan and the tug John Spence. The Saginaw was also in port unloading a grain cargo from Thunder Bay.

Sandusky, Ohio - Jim Spencer
The Canadian Coast Guard cutter Griffon was expected to begin breaking ice in Western Lake Erie over the weekend. A U.S. Coast Guard spokesman said Friday the Canadian icebreaker was moving westward from Port Colborne, Ont. Among those awaiting the arrival of the Griffon is the Cuyahoga. Bright sunshine and few clouds did not prove helpful Friday as the Cuyahoga slowly and carefully edged her way through the iced-over outbound shipping channel in Sandusky Bay as she was finally able to pull away from the NS coal dock. The Lower Lakes Towing Co.’s 620-footer managed to make it to the end of the shipping channel and into Lake Erie before being force to hove to because of heavily packed lake ice. The self-unloader remained ice-bound well after dark. She had originally arrived at the NS dock on Tuesday, and began loading on New Year’s Day. Her destination has now been changed to Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.


Ice delays shipping traffic at Soo Locks

1/4 - Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. – Ice has slowed shipping traffic through the Soo Locks and on the surrounding Great Lakes. Crews have been working around the clock to clear paths to help ships travel since early December.

"You know, I've been here for 21 years and this is the worst I can remember this soon," Kurt Bunker, Soo Locks St. Marys River chief said. In fact, it's the earliest the ice has formed since the 1930s.

Over the course of the last month, the temperatures keep dropping and the ice continues to be a problem for shipping traffic. That's why the Coast Guard has been out in full force. Four out of the 11 Great Lakes ice cutters are on the St. Marys River.

"As the cutters in the lakes drive through the ice they turn it into smaller pieces which refreezes," Captain Steve Teschendor, USCG Sector Sault Ste. Marie Commander, said.

The USCG says in some areas along the river, ice chunks have clumped together creating ice that is nearly ten feet deep. "That blocks up and it has caught some freighters in the ice down there, which slows the traffic all the way up here," Bunker added.

1,000 foot freighters are waiting until a large enough path is cleared for travel. And for other ships making the trip, they might experience a few roadblocks when trying to get through the locks.

"When you get a lot of ice into the locks, we either have to flush the ice through, or we will send tugs in the scrape the ice off the walls," Bunker said.

Soo Locks and USCG crews have been doing their best to keep this multi-billion dollar shipping industry moving. "It's caused some delays, but we have not had any of what we call a waterway closure at this point, so things of been slowed but they are moving," Captain Teschendor said.

Ship captains are noticing delayed travel times and if they plan on making it through the locks they need to do so by January 15th. That's when the locks close for the season until March.

Up North Live


Lake Superior closer to normal level

1/4 - The level of Lake Superior dropped 2 inches in December, a month when the big lake usually goes down 3 inches, according to the International Lake Superior Board of Control.

The smaller-than- usual decline is thanks in part to above-normal precipitation. The big lake is now just 1 inch away from its long-term normal level for Jan. 1, and is a full foot above the level on Jan. 1, 2013. The lake generally has been trending closer to normal for about a year.

Meanwhile, the level of lakes Huron and Michigan declined by 2 inches in December, a month they usually drop by an inch. The lakes now sit 14 inches below their long-term normal to start the year but 14 inches higher than their level on Jan. 1, 2013.

Duluth News Tribune


Lookback # 48 – Nipiwan Park torpedoed off Nova Scotia on January 4, 1945

1/4 - The small Canadian tanker Nipiwan Park was built as Hull 123 of the Collingwood shipyard. It was launched on October 25, 1943, and delivered to the Government of Canada on November 28.

The 259-foot-long vessel left the lakes for saltwater service and was torpedoed 69 years ago today. The vessel was being operated by Imperial Oil when it was attacked in the Atlantic, off Egg Island, Nova Scotia, on January 4, 1945. The bow was blown away but the ship remained afloat, towed safely to Halifax and eventually repaired.

A new 150-foot bow, built by Pictou Foundry and Machine of Pictou, Nova Scotia, was attached and the vessel was returned to service on November 30, 1946.

Nipiwan Park saw Great Lakes service in 1950-1951 on charter to the British-American Oil Company, but spent most of its career around Maritime Canada. The vessel was purchased by the Irving Oil Company in 1952 and renamed Irvinglake.

The ship was re-powered with a GMC diesel engine about 1955 after mechanical problems. It grounded off Quebec City on August 7, 1956, and went to the Davie shipyard for repairs. There, on August 14, the vessel was wracked by an explosion that left nine injured.

Irvinglake stranded in the Baie of Chaleur, near Bathurst, New Brunswick, on November 27, 1963, during high winds and a rain squall. It struck off Bellona Point and became a total loss. The oil on board was pumped out in 1970 as concern over a potential pollution hazard developed. The remains of the hull may still be there.

Skip Gillham


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 floe 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.


Building ice in the St. Clair and Detroit Rivers stops shipping

1/3 - 3 p.m. update - Tug Defiance and tug Everlast with their barges were cleared to proceed upbound early Friday afternoon. The small convoy reached the St. Clair Cutoff Channel before grinding to a halt in the same area the downbound 1000-footert was stuck.

Original report: Building ice in the St. Clair and Detroit Rivers delay shipping American Century became stuck Friday morning while downbound in the lower St. Clair River at the South end of Harsen's Island. With assistance from the USCG Cutter Morro Bay, the 1,000-footer was moving through the ice at 11:30 a.m., headed for Toledo to unload and lay up for the winter. The Morro Bay remained in the St. Clair flats area to flush ice into Lake St. Clair.

Meanwhile, the tug Everlast and her barge stopped on Lake St. Clair upbound to wait for the Century to clear, but she became stuck in the ice at Light 14 and thought they would require assistance from the Morro Bay to proceed. The American Century was able to pass the Everlast and continue downbound.

In the upper Detroit River, the Algosteel was unable to reach a dock in the Detroit River due to ice and was proceeding slowly upriver waiting for traffic to start moving on Lake St. Clair. At 11:45 the Coast Guard requested that upbound vessels hold in the Detroit River until they can flush out the lower St. Clair River. Algosteel went to the Belle Isle Anchorage to wait.

With temperatures forecast to remain well below freezing for the next week the problem will only worsen in the St. Clair and Detroit River systems. The St. Marys River is already choked with ice requiring the heavy ice breaking resources of the Mackinaw and Samuel Risley. It will likely force most vessels to lay-up a few weeks shy of the January 15 closing of the Soo Locks.


Vessels waiting for weather around the lakes

1/3 - The blizzard that has held the Great Lakes tightly within its grasp for most of the week by Thursday night had made the anchor the most popular tool on board lake ships. On the hook off Toledo were the Algoma Enterprise, the 135-foot tug John Spence, and the tug Ken Boothe Sr., which is mated with the barge Lakes Contender. The tug Dorothy Ann and barge Pathfinder remained at anchor off Cleveland where they have been for the past two days. At Sandusky, Cuyahoga remained at the NS coal dock for a third day. Due to sail for Hamilton when the storm breaks, the 630-footer loaded on Wednesday.

Elsewhere, similar tales of being at anchor, waiting for the weather or for daylight, were being told. The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Hollyhock was on the hook just west of the Straits of Mackinac where she has been helping freighters through heavy ice in the vicinity of Gray's Reef. Ice continued to slow traffic on the St. Marys River.

Weathermen are predicting the heavy snow and high winds will ease on Friday and Saturday, but very cold temperatures are expected across the Great Lakes in next week, continuing the warnings of ice build-up on vessel hulls, a NOAA spokesman said.

Jim Spencer


First ocean-going vessel of the year arrives in Montreal

1/3 - Montreal, QC – It was 2:02 p.m. on Jan. 1 when the Federal Spey crossed the Port of Montreal’s limits near Sorel - making it the first ocean-going vessel of the year to enter the port. The bulk carrier arrived filled with sugar, waving the flags of the Marshall Islands.

The vessel made its voyage under the command of Captain Vijayendra Gurukant Chodanka, departing from Port of Maceio in Brazil on Dec. 14. A ceremony is set for Jan. 3 to present the captain with the Gold-Headed Cane, a trophy traditionally presented at the beginning of each year to the captain of the ship to first reach Montreal without a stopover.

The race was tight this year, as the second vessel of the year to arrive came only a brief 20 minutes later. This year’s ceremony is especially important, as it will mark the 175th anniversary of the tradition, and the 50th year that the St. Lawrence River to Montreal is navigable year-round.



Icebreaker Griffon heads to Upper Lakes

1/3 - The Canadian Coast Guard Ship Griffon transited the Welland Canal upbound late Wednesday evening, well after the scheduled closure of the canal to commercial traffic. As of 5 p.m. Thursday the cutter was tied up at Port Colborne. Each winter the Griffon works the lower lakes ice breaking.

Tom Hynes


Port Reports -  January 3

St. Marys River – Soo Locks
Downbound traffic was moving slowly Friday morning at the Soo, with the Mesabi Miner clearing the first of the downbound trouble sports at the Rock Cut around noon, with the assistance of USCG Mackinaw. Sam Laud and American Integrity were astern. However James R. Barker was having difficulty in the upbound channel near Johnson's Point and was was being assisted by CCGS Samuel Risley. Ojibway, Baie Comeau and Edwin H. Gott were waiting astern of the Barker for the way to become clear.
Low temperatures stopped the upbound Roger Blough in lower lock approach Thursday evening due to heavy ice buildup at the lock piers. Earlier it had been stuck making the turn at Six Mile. The temperature at the Soo is minus 15 and falling. Most of the traffic in the river has stopped for the night, with one exception being the upbound Walter J. McCarthy Jr., which battled ice most of the day in the upbound channel on the north end of Neebish Island. Also upbound but stopped were Ojibway, Baie Comeau and James R. Barker. The downbound Mesabi Miner was anchored in Hay Lake awaiting daylight before transiting the ice-choked West Neebish channel, where the tug Olive L. Moore / barge Lewis J. Kuber had been stuck most of Thursday. In Lake Superior's Whitefish Bay, the Stewart J. Cort, H. Lee White, Paul R. Tregurtha and American Integrity stopped as night fell.

Escanaba, Mich. - Rod Burdick
Wilfred Sykes loaded ore at CN on Thursday. She was outbound after dark with the help of the tug Erica Kobasic.

Toledo, Ohio - Denny Dushane
Algoma Enterprise was stuck in ice in Lake Erie off of Toledo on Thursday. She is loaded with iron ore pellets for the Torco Dock. There are two vessels listed to arrive at Torco with iron ore – H. Lee White due on Saturday in the early morning followed by the American Mariner, due to arrive on Sunday in the mid-afternoon. Both vessel arrivals are subject to change due to weather and ice conditions. So far no vessels have entered lay-up in Toledo although, the American Century is on her way to Toledo from Lake Michigan and is expected to arrive for winter layup sometime in the next few days. The American Courage also appeared to be stuck in ice as well off of Toledo on Thursday and she is probably be heading into Toledo for winter lay-up. The ferry Jiimaan still is in port.

Seaway and Welland - Ron Beaupre
Wednesday the grounding-damaged saltie Orsula cleared St. Lambert lock at 13:30 and docked in Montreal harbor. She will be loaded with additional grain for the trip overseas. According to the Port of Montreal web site, her next destination is a port in Spain. The lighted buoys near the shoal had been removed prior to the stranding, but in light of today's advanced navigation systems, that could hardly be used as a legitimate excuse. The next downbound lockages at St. Lambert were the tugs Salvor and Groupe Ocean's Ocean Ross Gaudrault, followed by CCGS Martha L Black. The latter had plenty of work getting the last several ships through thick ice. They were the last vessels with one exception being the tug La Prairie. Upbound through the Welland Canal Thursday were CSL Laurentien followed by CCGS Griffon.


Lookback #47 – Former Koiku Maru wrecked overnight off Tartous, Syria in 1979

1/3 - The Japanese general cargo carrier Koiku Maru was nine years old when it first came through the Seaway in 1967. The 479-foot-long vessel was part of the Japan Line Ltd. and it made two trips inland that year.

The ship was sold and registered in Cyprus as Elna in 1971 and put under the flag of Greece as Eurowave following another sale in 1977.

During the overnight hours of January 3-4, 1979, the ship ran aground in stormy weather off Tartous, Syria. The accident of 35 years ago today resulted in Eurowave becoming a total loss, but it appears that all on board were saved.

Skip Gillham


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, 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

Two Harbors, Minn.
Mesabi Miner was in Two Harbors loading ore for three days; normal loading time is roughly eight hours. They have been having major problems loading, as temperatures have not been above zero for the last five days.

Marquette, Mich. - Rod Burdick
H. Lee White and Michipicoten loaded ore at the Upper Harbor on New Year's Day.

St. Marys River
As night fell, the tug Olive L. Moore and her barge Lewis J. Kuber were stuck in the downbound West Neebish channel. Icebreakers appear to be waiting until first light to resume their efforts to free the pair. Herbert C. Jackson was hove to above the Rock Cut, waiting for the way to be cleared. Capt. Henry Jackman, Walter J. McCarthy and Roger Blough were nearing DeTour as the day drew to a close, after being free from the ice in the Straits earlier in the day.

Straits of Mackinac
Vessels were fighting ice for most of New Year’s Day west of the Mackinac Bridge. The USCG cutter Hollyhock freed several freighters Wednesday afternoon beset in ice NE of Gray's Reef, including Samuel de Champlain and her barge, and the Manitowoc. Algoeast followed westbound in the tracks of the Hollyhock as it extricated the two other freighters. Also freed were Roger Blough, Buffalo and Capt. Henry Jackman, beset in ice north of Garden Island.

St. Clair, Mich.- Denny Dushane
The Interlake 1,000 footer James R. Barker was expected to arrive at the St. Clair Power Plant in the early afternoon on New Year's Eve to unload the last coal cargo for the year 2013. There are still three more coal shipments by vessel to arrive at the power plant during January, two by Paul R. Tregurtha and one by Mesabi Miner. The Tregurtha is expected to unload the last coal cargo of the season at the St. Clair Power Plant. She is scheduled to arrive on January 9 in the early morning, however this is subject to change due to weather and ice conditions. It has been a busy year at the St. Clair Power Plant with almost 160 visits by vessel as of the end of the 2013 year. With three more shipments to arrive in January, this total will end up at about 162 to 163 visits by vessels. It is also the first time in quite a few years that the St. Clair Power Plant has received coal shipments by vessel into January.

Toledo, Ohio - Denny Dushane
Whitefish Bay arrived at the Torco Dock on Monday and unloaded iron ore. She was still in port on New Year's Eve unloading. Two vessels were due on New Year's Day, with the Algoma Enterprise arriving first followed by H. Lee White. American Mariner is due on Saturday, January 4 during the early afternoon. Rounding out the schedule will be the Ken Boothe Sr. and the Lakes Contender, due on Monday, January 6 in the late morning. The ferry Jiimaan remains in port, as do the tug Victory and the barge James L. Kuber.

Buffalo, N.Y. – Brian W.
Algomarine departed the Gateway Metroport Main Dock in Lackawanna Wednesday and was making 1.6 knots through the ice towards the Outer Harbor piers with an AIS destination of Thunder Bay.

Toronto, Ont. - Jens Juhl
During New Year’s Eve, the Algoma Olympic arrived to lay up at Terminal 35. At the same time, the venerable Algoma Navigator tied up at Terminal 52 north wall for winter lay up. Shortly before noon the new Algoma Equinox arrived and laid up at Terminal 52 west wall. It has been a few years since Toronto has had this many lakers tie up for the winter.

Toronto, Ont. - Charlie Gibbons and Jens Juhl
Algoma navigator tied up for the winter at Pier 52 North Tuesday afternoon, assisted the by tug M. R. Kane breaking the ice in the shipping channel for her. Algoma Progress came in to Pier 35 just before midnight Tuesday to tie up for the winter. Algoma Equinox came in for lay-up early New Year's Day, at Pier 52 West.

Kingston, Ont. - Ron Walsh
Algoma Equinox was the last ship to pass Cape Vincent Tuesday. The CCGS Griffon passed upbound earlier and is now at Port Weller. The Evans McKeil, with the Lambert Spirit in tow, departed Cape Vincent Wednesday morning, headed for Hamilton. This barge was used in the Orsula lightering and her original tug, Salvor, shadowed the Orsula to Montreal. Stephen B. Roman left Picton Wednesday morning and appeared to be headed for Toronto. The three "Big" grain barges appear to be in winter layup here. Tuesday the CCGS Griffon was westbound with an eta of 10:30 p.m. for Sodus Point. Tim S. Dool anchored in Prince Edward Bay due to weather. She has a destination of Hamilton. Gale warnings were effect with west winds of 35 knots, which will fall to 25 knots near midnight.


Lookback #46 – Former Pre-Seaway trader Grenland sank on January 2, 1967

1/2 - The saltwater freighter Raagan sank on the North Sea, about 60 miles north of the Dutch coast, 47 years ago today. The vessel began leaking while traveling from Egersund, Denmark, to Dordrecht, Netherlands, with a cargo of titanium ore, forcing the crew to abandon the sinking ship. All were rescued.

While Raagan had not been a Great Lakes trader, the ship had been inland in the pre-Seaway era under three previous names. The 257-foot, 10-inch long freighter had been built at Bergen, Norway, in 1919 and first came to our shores as Erich Lindoe in the 1920s.

It was sold and renamed Grenland in 1928 and returned to the lakes in at least 1933. After becoming Hildur I in 1937, the ship came back in both the pre and post war era.

It was renamed Raagan in 1956 and spent all of its 48 years in Norwegian registry.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  January 2

Saltie Gallery updated with pictures of the AK Brother, Anuket Ruby, BBC Celina, Fairchem Charger, and Federal Satsuki
Lay-up list updated
New Video on our YouTube Channel 2013 season highlights


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.


Traffic moving on the St. Marys as New Year's Eve draws to close

1/1 - The St. Marys River was a busy place New Year's Eve. Downbound traffic lined up at or above the locks most of the day for the tug Wilfred M. Cohen and her barge to clear the ice-jammed Rock Cut. When she was freed by the USCG Mackinaw, with Anglian Lady and and G tug Missouri, traffic slowly started moving downbound, led by Defiance/Ashtabula. Downbound vessels were still lined up for the Poe Lock as the evening came to a close. Meanwhile, upbound traffic that had been delayed by the American Spirit being beset in the east Neebish Channel were proceeding upbound on a slow bell due to congestion at the locks. Those included Presque Isle, Algowood and Kaministiqua. Earlier in the day, CSL Assiniboine left her dock at Essar Steel, a rare unload port for her, and headed up Lake Superior, passing fleetmate Frontenac, anchored for weather in the lee of Whitefish Point.


Lookback #45 Hamildoc foundered on Caribbean on January 1, 1943

1/1 - The first of three ships to sail as Hamildoc in the Paterson Steamship fleet foundered on the Caribbean 71 years ago today. The ship was at anchor due to a three day gale when it broke in two in position 9.10 N / 60.30 W. The vessel had been en route from Georgetown, British Guiana, to Trinidad & Tobago when it was lost. All of the crew were rescued.

Hamildoc had been built by Swan Hunter & Wigham Richardson at Sunderland, England, and launched on April 29, 1927. It set out for Canada in May and service in the bulk trades through the existing canals of that day. The 259 foot length and 43 foot, 4 inch beam made the vessel a good fit in the St. Lawrence and Third Welland Canals.

During World War Two, the size and shallow draft also made Hamildoc, and a number of running mates, very useful in the South American bauxite trade. They brought cargoes from inland river ports to the transshipment center at the island of Trinidad. Several of these ships did not survive the war, falling victim to Nazi U-boats or stormy weather.

Hamildoc had been chartered to Saguenay Terminals on May 5, 1941, and had completed a number of successful voyages before being overwhelmed by the storm on January 1, 1943.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  January 1

Happy New Year to all, and thanks to everyone for your continued support of the BoatNerd Web site.  


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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