Great Lakes & Seaway Shipping News Archive

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Saginaw to stay in Owen Sound

1/31 - Owen Sound, Ont. - Saginaw will be laying up at Owen Sound., she arrived Jan. 28 with a load of salt from Cleveland and was partially unloaded when she suffered a breakdown in her unloading equipment. After repairs she will complete unloading and is expected to be moved to her lay-up dock on the west wall extension north of the elevator where hydro connections are located. Algomarine is also expected the first week of February for layup on the east wall.

Peter Bowers


Lookback #440 – U.S.S. Edson struck from the Naval Record on Jan. 31, 1989

The Forrest-Sherman Class naval destroyer U.S.S. Edson arrived at Bay City, Mich., for preservation as a museum ship on August 7, 2012, after a 2,436-mile tow from Philadelphia, Pa. The ship had been laid up there since 2004.

U.S.S. Edson was built by the Bath Iron Works, at Bath, Me., and commissioned on Nov. 7, 1958. The 418-foot-long by 45-foot-wide destroyer was powered by 70,000 shp Worthington steam turbine engines and carried 17 officers and 218 enlisted navy personnel.

The ship was based at Long Beach, Calif., and on April 29, 1959, rescued three aviators from a downed plane from the U.S.S. Ranger. Edson received three naval commendations for service in the Western Pacific, Strait of Taiwan and off Vietnam.

The ship was active as a support vessel during the Vietnam War and helped in the evacuation of Phnom Penh and Saigon. In 1967, the vessel was hit by a shell fired by North Vietnamese land forces.

On Dec. 12, 1974, oil from a leaking lube oil line ignited and this resulted in an engineroom fire. Fortunately, there was only limited damage and this was repaired at Hawaii.

U.S.S. Edson was decommissioned on Dec. 15, 1988, towed to the Inactive Ships Maintenance facility in Philadelphia for storage and stricken from the Naval Record 26-years ago today.

The ship was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1990 and served as a museum ship at the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum from June 30, 1989, to June 14, 2004. It then went to the Brooklyn Navy Yard for hull repairs before being returned to lay-up at Philadelphia and an eventual tow to the Great Lakes.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  January 31

News Photo Gallery
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

Toledo. Ohio – Jim Hoffman
On Thursday, the Canadian Coast Guard cutter Samuel Risley was entering Lake Erie from the Detroit River escorting the Calumet and the Victory/James L. Kuber to Toledo, Ohio. Both boats were bound for the Torco Ore Dock to unload ore. Meanwhile the Defiance/Ashtabula will be departing the Torco Ore Dock bound for the Detroit River just before the Calumet and James L. Kuber arrive at Toledo. The cutter Risley most likely will escort the Ashtabula back to Detroit. The next ore boat due in Toledo will be the Manitowoc, anchored in the Detroit River waiting for the James L. Kuber to finish unloading. After the Manitowoc, the Ashtabula makes a return trip to unload ore at the Torco Ore Dock with a tentative eta for Sunday Feb. 8. The Ashtabula ETA will depend on weather and ice conditions.

Erie, Pa. – Gene P.
The Canadian Coast Guard vessel Griffon cut out the Thunder Bay in Lake Erie and escorted her into the Erie harbor about 9 a.m. Thursday. The icebreaker continued to break ice in the DonJon west slip where the Thunder Bay is to spend the winter. The ice appeared to be 8-10 inches, but had been broken a few weeks ago with the arrival of the Roger Blough and the Dorothy Ann/Pathfinder.


A busy season at the Duluth/Superior docks

1/30 - Duluth, Minn. – Before Phil Moore led a media tour of a massive ship in dry dock Wednesday, he offered a few words of advice for the novices in tow.

“Keep one hand for the ship and one hand for yourself,” the fleet superintendent of the Ohio-based Interlake Steamship Co. said as a reminder to use the handrails.

The ship, a 767-foot iron ore and coal-hauler named the Kaye E. Barker, is docked at Fraser Shipyards in Superior. The tour wound across catwalks, up narrow staircases and onto the deck that towers above the deep cargo holds of its interior.

The ship bustled with workers in oil-stained coveralls and overalls. They moved freely, clipping in and out of scaffolding when necessary. The media members moved gingerly.

“There’s no falling here,” said Todd Pietrowski, a 30-year Fraser man clad in welding leathers. “If you did, we’d have to finish you off with a hammer. It’d be the only humane thing to do.”

Looking over the side of the Barker at the dry dock floor several stories below, Pietrowski’s words resonated. Even when the ship is not being rocked by waves, theirs is not a job for the faint at heart.

The Barker is one of five ships wintering in Duluth during an off season that started Jan. 15 with the closing of the Soo Locks, which separate Lake Superior from the lower Great Lakes, and ends when the locks reopen March 25. Compared with the 10-year average of 10 ships in layup in the Duluth-Superior port, 2015 is a down year. But there are reasons for that, said Tom Curelli, Fraser’s director of operations.

“Five is a little low, but last year there were some issues with extreme weather, and people were being a little more conservative this year,” he said. “They were less aggressive because they didn’t want to get stuck in a bind.”

Additionally, a sixth ship scheduled for Duluth, the 1,000-foot Edwin H. Gott, did not make it through the Soo Locks in time because of ice delays.

Still, Fraser has more than 200 workers hustling along different local docks, addressing the ships that are berthed here.

In the roughly nine weeks of offseason, there is much to do. The Barker requires several new plates of steel along what’s called the turn of the bilge — the steel that curves low along the length of both sides of the vessel to meet at a point underneath.

“It’s a nice wear point,” Curelli said of the turn of the bilge.

Much of the other work is routine maintenance. Two men, among a small group near the exposed metal flower that is the propeller, strained in tandem to rachet a come-along. They were replacing seals, inspecting rudder bearings, all as part of a mandatory five-year dry dock inspection.

Normally “ship-shape with everything stowed away,” Moore said, it’s all now open work space. Tool boxes that are typically battened down are rolled into the aisles, displaying sockets the size of coffee cans and wrenches that look like splitting mauls. There are welding machines everywhere, and the red and green lines that indicate acetylene and oxygen, respectively, snake along the length of the top deck and to all points that require attention.

“The name of the game with ships is keeping them highly maintained,” Moore said.

The Barker was built in 1951 and was repowered in 2012, exchanging a steam engine for diesel. There is a place along the hull, too, where rivet construction meets up with a more modern welded section.

“Here’s a piece of trivia,” said Curelli. “In the late 1970s, this boat was lengthened by 120 feet.”

The ship is also now what Moore called “highly automated with an unmanned engine room” that has computer access points throughout the vessel. But near the end of the tour, in the pilothouse at the bow of the ship, one can still find the ship’s wooden wheel. It’s under a sheet of plastic, like all the rest of the currently dormant instrumentation, and protected from the sparks and dust from the work going on around it.

Out of dry dock, a typical route for the Barker will find her running from Marquette, Mich., to steel plants in Detroit, Moore said. That will come soon enough. In the meantime, there’s plenty of work to do.

Duluth News Tribune


Great Lakes Shipyard awarded contract by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

1/30 - Cleveland, Ohio – Great Lakes Shipyard has been awarded a repair contract by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Buffalo District for two tugs and two barges.

The shipyard will perform drydocking, maintenance and repairs of the 109-foot tug Cheraw and 53-foot tug Mike Donlon, and the 120-foot deck barges BD-6259 and BC-6472. Work includes underwater hull cleaning and maintenance, as well as inspection and testing of propulsion systems; overhaul of sea valves and shaft bearings and assemblies; and other routine cleaning, inspections, maintenance and repairs. In addition, the scope of work includes major overhauls of the propulsion engines, fendering replacements, and major steel renewals.

This will be the first time the Corps’ tugs and barges have been drydocked using Great Lakes Shipyard’s 700-metric-ton capacity Marine Travelift. All four vessels will be hauled out within a few days of arrival. Work will commence immediately and proceed on all vessels on a concurrent basis until completed in April.

Great Lakes Shipyard


Coast Guard rescues two from icy Saginaw River

1/30 - Cleveland, Ohio – A U.S. Coast Guard crew rescued two men from the Saginaw River after they fell through the ice with their snowmobiles near the Consumers Power Plant early Thursday morning.

Just after 8 a.m., the watchstander at Coast Guard Station Saginaw River, in Essexville, Mich., received a report of a person through the ice at the mouth of the Saginaw River near the Consumers Power Plant.

A Station Saginaw River crew responded aboard a 20-foot airboat, arrived on scene and rescued two men from the water. One was reported to be responsive, while the other was reported as unresponsive.

Both men were transferred to emergency medical services personnel and taken to McLaren Bay Region hospital in Bay City, Mich.

"Ice is very unpredictable in nature and it's important that outdoor enthusiasts remember to prepare before heading out," said Chief Petty Officer Gabriel Settel, the assistant command center chief at Coast Guard Sector Detroit. "Ice is especially unpredictable near power plants, water intakes and other structures where current and other factors significantly affect it."

Coast Guard crews plan to assess the scene and monitor the situation for any potential pollution related to the snowmobiles.


Lookback #439 – Massive loss of life when Wilhelm Gustloff sank on Jan. 30, 1945

While we normally look at Great Lakes and Seaway related events in this series, today will be an exception, as the tragic loss of the Wilhelm Gustloff, 70 years ago today, is not likely known by many of our readers.

This passenger liner was built in 1938 to provide recreational and cultural activities for German workers. The original plan was to name the ship Adolf Hitler but the latter individual decided to change the name to Wilhelm Gustloff in honor of a colleague who had been assassinated in 1936. Due to the changing political climate in Europe, the ship did not see much service in the intended capacity.

Wilhelm Gustloff was soon involved in the political struggle. On May 24, 1939, it arrived Vigo, Spain, and loaded 1,405 men who had helped overthrow Gen. Franco and returned them to Hamburg.

The vessel was taken over by the Kreigsmarine on Sept. 1, 1939, and served in a variety of capacities during the war including as a hospital ship off Danzig and Oslo, as a floating barracks for naval personnel at Gotenhafen (Gdynia), Poland, and finally as an evacuation ship.

With the Russian army advancing on Poland and Germany, the Wilhelm Gustloff loaded an estimated 10,582 refugees and military personnel at Gotenhafen on Jan. 27, 1945, in an effort to transport them to safety.

But the Soviet submarine S-13 sent a torpedo into the hull on Jan. 30, 1945, sinking the Wilhelm Gustloff on the Baltic Sea with the loss of an estimated 9,343 lives.

Another 1,239 on board landed safely at Kolberg, Germany, but this was, and still is, the deadliest maritime disaster in world history and most are not aware.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  January 30

News Photo Gallery
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

Owen Sound, Ont. – Paul Martin
Saginaw arrived in Owen Sound at approximately 10:30 a.m. Wednesday with a partial load of road salt. She was assisted through the entry of the sound by USCG Katmai Bay.

Sarnia, Ont. – Denny Dushane, Barry Hiscocks
CSL Niagara arrived in Sarnia, Ontario for winter lay-up on Wednesday morning. She tied up at Cargill Elevator. Niagara becomes the fourth vessel to arrive, joining the Algoma Olympic at the Government Dock, the Cuyahoga at the north end of the North Slip and Robert S. Pierson at the south end of the North Slip astern of the Cuyahoga. Saginaw is also expected in the next few days, after delivering a load of salt to Owen Sound, Ont.

Detroit River
Upbound traffic Wednesday included James R. Barker, Arthur M. Anderson, Algoma Hansa and John B. Aird. Rt. Hon. Paul J. Martin and Manitowoc were downbound.


Lookback #438 – BBC Fuji launched in China on January 29, 2011

The Seaway saltie BBC Fuji was built at Tianjin, China, and launched four years ago today. The 412-foot, 8-inch long by 72-foot, 2-inch wide cargo carrier was registered at 8,255 gross tons.

BBC Fuji is operated by BBC Chartering and Logistecs GmbH & Co.K.G. and came through the Seaway under the flag of Germany for the first time in 2013. The vessel proceeded up the lakes for Thunder Bay and likely loaded grain for overseas delivery.

As of late 2014, BBC Fuji was trading on the Persian Gulf region between Umm Qasr, a port city in southern Iraq and Hamriyah, in the United Arab Emirates.

This week the ship left the Durban, South Africa, anchorage and was about to round the Cape of Good Hope on a voyage to Lagos, Nigeria, with a scheduled arrival date of Feb. 7.

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.


Coast guards conclude St. Clair River operations

1/28 - Detroit, Mich. – After three days of concentrated effort, U.S. and Canadian Coast Guard icebreakers concluded flushing operations and cleared two significant plugs in the St. Clair River as part of Operation Coal Shovel.

The combined efforts of the Coast Guard cutters Bristol Bay, Mackinaw, Neah Bay and Canadian Coast Guard ships Griffon and Samuel Risley to break the St. Clair River, South Channel, Middle Channel and North Channel, relieved near-flood-stage water levels throughout the St. Clair River while reestablishing current and ice flow in the area.

Following flushing operations, the Mackinaw remained overnight in the North Channel and by Tuesday afternoon had redirected ice damns caused by the flushing in an effort to clear the local ferry's path so it may resume normal operation.

Working with maritime industry partners, U.S. and Canadian Coast Guard icebreakers developed a plan to clear 12 commercial vessels, north and south of the St. Clair River, that were unable to transit the river due to severe ice conditions.

Throughout the remaining winter season, U.S. and Canadian Coast Guard icebreakers will continue escorting commercial vessels in the St. Clair River and the Great Lakes as weather conditions dictate.



Boat that replaced ill-fated Edmund Fitzgerald docked for winter at Oswego

1/28 - Oswego, N.Y. – Need a bigger boat? There are few larger than American Fortitude - a 690-foot vessel docked this winter at the Port of Oswego Authority. For perspective, it's longer than two football fields and in its prime once carried 21,057 tons of iron ore.

The boat's time on the Great Lakes, however, has come to end. A Texas holding company now owns it and is considering whether to cut it up for scrap or sell it for use overseas, according to Zelko Kirincich, executive director of the Oswego Port Authority.

"It has a rich history. It's one of the longest, fastest vessels on the Great Lakes. It is steam powered and in great shape. Unfortunately it's out of class and requires a lot of labor to keep it up," Kirincich said.

The boat was built in 1953 as a straight deck bulk carrier with coal-fired boilers by the former American Ship Building Co. in Lorain, Ohio. Its original name was the Ernest T. Weir, after Ernest Tener Weir who formed the National Steel Corp. in 1927, according to BoatNerd.Com.

In 1978, the Oglebay Norton's Transportation Division acquired the vessel and renamed it the Courtney Burton in honor of a grandson of one of the company officials. It became the flagship of the company's fleet, replacing the S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald.

The Courtney Burton's last cargo load for Oglebay Norton, according to, was loaded at Calcite, Mich. on June 3, 2006 and delivered to Superior, Wis., on June 6. Upon its arrival, an announcement was made of its sale and five other vessels to the American Steamship Co., of Williamsville, N.Y.

Following the sale, it was renamed American Fortitude. At Superior harbor, it was loaded with grain from General Mills and transported it to Buffalo. It continued to transport bulk loads of agricultural products.

The ship has been idle since tying up at Toledo on Nov. 11, 2008, reported

According to Duluth Shipping News, "On Nov. 26, 2014, American Fortitude left Toledo under tow of the tug Evans McKeil, presumably destined for a scrapyard in Brownsville, Texas."

The vessel is scheduled to stay in Oswego until the St. Lawrence Seaway opens in April.


Windsor’s ports see drop in cargo as parkway construction nears completion

1/28 - Windsor, Ont. – Construction of the $1.4-billion Herb Gray Parkway boosted cargo shipments at Windsor’s ports to historical record levels in 2013.

But with parkway construction nearly completed, the local ports returned to more normal levels in 2014 with total shipment volumes dropping by 9.9 per cent to just over 5.43 million tonnes, according to the Windsor Port Authority.

The volumes equate to the port’s five-year average.

“The huge volumes of construction aggregates required for the Herb Gray Parkway pushed total tonnages handled in 2013 above six million,” said David Cree, the port authority’s CEO. “We had anticipated a drop off in this commodity and that accounts for the overall decline in total cargo.”

All other major cargo handled in the port – which includes salt, grain and petroleum – experienced “solid gains” of between 25 and 60 per cent, he said.

“We are very proud the port played such a significant role in the development of the new parkway,” said Charlie Pingle, chairman of the port authority. “We are positioned to play a similar role in the construction of the new bridge and plaza.”

The port has helped generate 1,000 jobs and more than $130 million of direct and indirect spending in the local community, he said.

“Projections for the future, remain very positive,” Pingle said. “The port of Windsor will continue to be an important partner in Windsor’s growth and development.”

Windsor Star


Help wanted: Lower Lakes Towing

Lower Lakes Towing is continuing expansion into the Great Lakes market and is looking for sailors from Captain/Chief Engineer to Deckhand/Chef. Lower Lakes is a company started by sailors for sailors. If you wish to join our family or would like more information please send resumes or questions to:
Capt. Brandon Durant or Jill Soenen


Lookback #437 – Former Christian Sartori blown aground on Jan. 28, 1975

1/28 - The West German general cargo freighter Christian Sartori was built at Hamburg in 1955. The 255-foot, 10-inch-long vessel served Sartori & Burger and included some Great Lakes as well as deep sea trading.

Christian Sartori was on Lake Michigan when the Carl D. Bradley was lost on Nov. 18, 1958, and helped in the search for survivors as it was the closest ship at the time that the big laker broke in two and sank.

The deep-sea ship was lengthened to 285 feet, 4 inches overall in 1959 and resumed Great Lakes trading through the new Seaway with 3 trips inland in 1959. It had made a total of 18 voyages in and out of the Great Lakes through the new system to the end of 1967.

The vessel was sold and registered in Cyprus in 1968 and returned to the lakes in 1968 as b) Christian.

It subsequently became c) Independent Pioneer in 1970, d) Renaissance in 1973 and e) Roman Bernard early in 1975. All were under Liberian registry.

Roman Bernard broke loose at Puerto Isabel, Nicaragua, on Jan. 28, 1975, and was blown aground in the wild weather. The ship was considered a total loss and abandoned.

However, it was salvaged and repaired managing to sail again as Caribcliffe, Texacano and Texana before being broken up for scrap in March 1981.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  January 28

News Photo Gallery


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.


Sen. John McCain's maritime proposal sunk, for now

1/27 - Newport News, Va. – Sen. John McCain appears to have been stymied – at least for now in his attempt to repeal a 1920 law that protects U.S. shipping, which will be welcome news to the maritime industry.

The Arizona Republican had wanted to repeal a key provision of what is commonly called the Jones Act, a law that governs shipping in America's coastal waters and between domestic ports, including the Great Lakes. His move sparked an uproar in shipping circles from Virginia and around the country.

Critics had said it would cost jobs in the shipbuilding and ship repair industry, which would have translated into a problem for the Navy and contractors such as Newport News Shipbuilding, because it would have reduced the industry's skilled labor pool. The Norfolk-based Virginia Ship Repair Association had opposed McCain, as did the Shipbuilders Council of America.

McCain had attached the provision as an amendment to an unrelated bill on the Keystone Pipeline. Amendments on Keystone came up for debate last Thursday night, but McCain's was never considered, according to the office of Sen. Mark Warner, whose staffers followed the action.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell cut off debate late in the evening and scheduled a final vote on Keystone for next week, according to media reports.

Thursday's action doesn't mean McCain's idea is dead. The powerful chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee could attempt to revive the issue by other means.

If and when the debate restarts, McCain will face opposition from not only the maritime industry, but House members in Hampton Roads and elsewhere who are concerned about shipbuilding jobs.

Before Thursday's vote, 32 House members from both parties sent a letter to Senate leaders urging them to leave the Jones Act alone, expressing "serious concern" at McCain's proposal.

Among the signers were three Republicans from Hampton Roads: Randy Forbes of Chesapeake, Rob Wittman of Westmoreland and Scott Rigell of Virginia Beach.

The signers also included Rep. Steve Palazzo, a Mississippi Republican whose district includes Ingalls Shipbuilding, a division of Newport News-based Huntington Ingalls Industries, as is the Newport News shipyard.

Another signer was Rep. Joe Courtney, D-Conn. His district includes General Dynamics Electric Boat of Groton. Electric Boat and Newport News work in partnership as the sole builders of nuclear-powered submarines.

"One of the reasons our Navy is strong is because of the U.S. shipyard industrial base," the letter states. "This measure, however, would gut the nation's shipbuilding capacity and have far reaching impacts across the nation."

Daily Press, Newport News, Va.


Ice disrupts coal shipments from Lake Superior region

1/27 - At least one Great Lakes coal cargo could not be loaded this month due to heavy icing and several others were delayed, and this week's winter storm has the potential to further disrupt shipments, a Lake Carriers' Association official said Monday.

"For sure, I know we lost at least one 1,000-footer coal load out of Superior and a number of other coal cargoes have been at least delayed," said Glen Nekvasil, vice president of the Lake Carriers' Association. "So there will be impacts on the coal trade in January."

The 1,000-foot freighter, the largest on the lakes and capable of carrying 88,000 tons of coal, had been traveling on connecting channels near Lake Superior when the locks were closed and the cargo cancelled, Nekvasil said.

The Great Lakes came to a "virtual standstill" last winter due to heavy ice that cost an estimated $700 million, according to the association. This week's winter storm has the potential to further affect coal traffic, Nekvasil said.

"A lot of boats have finished their season, but this storm will have impacts on boats that are still running," he said.

Despite a nearly 1 million st increase in coal shipments that took place on the Great Lakes in December, shipments for the year totaled 24.5 million st, down slightly from 2013, according to the association.

Lake Superior ports decreased 6.2% to 14.1 million st while loadings out of Chicago fell 34%, according to the year-end report.



Cutters wrap North Channel ice breaking Monday

1/27 - Algonac, Mich. – Icebreaking operations on the North Channel of the St. Clair River were expected to wrap up sometime Monday, said Commander Kevin Floyd, chief of the prevention department for the U.S. Coast Guard Sector Detroit.

Floyd said five ice breakers – U.S. Coast Guard cutters Mackinaw, Neah Bay, and Bristol Bay and Canadian Coast Guard ships Griffon and Samuel Risley – have worked since Sunday morning and all through the night to break ice on the St. Clair River.

“It has improved the flow of ice and water in the St. Clair River,” Floyd said. “It has helped tremendously.”

The operation has shut down ferry service to and from Harsens Island, as well as airboat services to and from the island. Champions Auto Ferry President Dave Bryson said the ferry will remain closed while U.S. and Canadian Coast Guard vessels continue breaking ice in the North Channel.

“When they finish up ice breaking, then we’ll have to go out and see if we’ll be able to break a path through,” Bryson said.

Bryson said his brother, Bob Bryson, will be unable to operate his airboat to and from the island until ice breaking is complete.

Floyd said a plug near Marine City was increasing the risk of flooding near St. Clair, and freighters trying to transit through the river were becoming beset in the ice. He added that breaking the North Channel is a last resort. It increases flow by allowing ice to transit through both the South and North channels.

“It’s actually the worst ice conditions they’ve seen in over 20 years on the St. Clair River,” he said.

About a dozen freighters are waiting to transit through the river, Floyd said. He hopes to have them moving through either tonight or tomorrow morning.

Floyd said the Coast Guard contacted police, fire, EMS and the St. Clair County Emergency Operation Center to discuss the North Channel break and the disruption to transportation.

He said, in the event of a medical emergency, the Coast Guard would provide transportation to the mainland.

Algonac Community Schools Superintendent John Strycker said about 30 students usually take the ferry from Harsens Island to the mainland for classes. Strycker said the school district is in contact with some of the parents on the island, and is sending homework to the affected students.

On Saturday and Sunday morning, people stood at the mouth of the North Channel with picket signs that said “No cutter in North Channel.” The protesters were concerned that cutting the ice would disrupt the cleared path from Harsens Island to Algonac, preventing residents from traveling to the island and back safely.

Port Huron Times Herald


Iron ore collapses to lowest in five years

1/27 - Singapore – Iron ore retreated to the lowest level in more than five years as a slowdown in China hurt the outlook for demand in the world’s biggest user while the largest mining companies add to supply, boosting a surplus.

Ore with 62 percent content delivered to Qingdao, China, tumbled 4.3 percent to $63.54 a dry metric ton, according to data by Metal Bulletin Ltd. That’s the lowest price on record going back to May 2009, and was the biggest one-day fall since Nov. 18. The commodity is 11 percent lower this year.

The raw material has been in a bear market since March after Rio Tinto Group, BHP Billiton Ltd. and Vale SA spent billions of dollars to boost low-cost output even as China slowed. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. joined global banks on Friday in cutting price forecasts for 2015, predicting a return to a bull market is probably more than a decade away. The love affair between China and iron ore is cooling, the bank said.

The decline in prices is mainly due to “slower demand growth for steel in China, together with the expected new iron ore supply,” Vanessa Lau, a Hong Kong-based analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein Ltd., said before the figure was released. Steel mills in China are also cutting output before the Lunar New Year, putting further pressure on prices, she said, referring to the national holiday next month when industrial activity slows.

The commodity may average $66 a ton this year from an earlier prediction of $80, Goldman Sachs said in the Jan. 23 report. The New York-based bank is at least the fifth lender this month to lower price estimates after Citigroup Inc. and UBS Group AG were among those cutting forecasts.

Gripped by a property downturn and excess capacity, China’s economy expanded 7.4 percent last year, the slowest pace since 1990, data on Tuesday showed. Crude-steel production rose 0.9 percent in 2014 compared with 7.5 percent the previous year, according to China’s National Bureau of Statistics. That was the weakest growth in steel output in data going back 24 years.

The world’s biggest miners are still expanding iron ore output, betting that higher-cost suppliers and including sites in China will be forced to close. BHP produced 56.4 million tons in the three months to Dec. 31, 16 percent more than a year earlier, the Melbourne-based company said on Wednesday. Rio plans to boost output to 330 million tons this year after an 11 percent rise to 295 million tons in 2014.

The expansions will probably continue as the major producers are still mining at a profit, Goldman said. That will expand the global surplus from 47 million tons this year to 260 million tons by 2018, the bank estimated.

Shippers from Australia are gaining market share in China, accounting for 59 percent of imports last year from 51 percent in 2013, according to customs data on Friday. Brazil’s share was 18 percent from 19 percent, while exports from the rest of the world fell to 23 percent from 30 percent.

Rio fell as much as 3.1 percent to 2,795 pence in London, and traded at 2,852 pence 12:54 p.m. local time, while BHP lost 2.1 percent to 1,395 pence. In Brazil, Vale’s shares are 4.7 percent lower this year after falling 41 percent in 2014.

Cliffs Natural Resources Inc., the largest U.S. producer, will stop paying a dividend as it tries to cut borrowings amid the slump in iron ore prices, according to a statement on Monday. The elimination will give the Cleveland-based company $92 million a year of extra free cash to pay down debt, it said.

Montreal Gazette


New art exhibit to open at National Museum in Toledo

1/27 - Toledo, Ohio – The National Museum of the Great Lakes will open "Great Lakes Masters: 150 Years of Great Lakes Marine Art" to the public on Feb. 8 in Toledo. The art exhibit features original works of art by eight different artists who are or were active on the Great Lakes since the 1860s.

"The practice of marine art goes back centuries,” said Christopher Gillcrist, executive director of the museum. “On the Great Lakes it truly begins to take off around the mid 19th century as the region became more populated."

Three of the 19th century artists featured are V. D. Nickerson, Howard Sprague and Huntington. Biographical information on these artists is limited, but Huntington is the most elusive of these early ship portrait painters.

In the first 75 years of the 20th century, Kinley Shogren became one of the most prolific Great Lakes portrait painters, delivering hundreds of private commissions. Rolf Stoll, not typically considered a Great Lakes painter, delivered two fascinating Cleveland lakefront scenes in the early 1930's.

Living artists in the exhibit are Alexander Cook, Paul LaMarre Jr. and Robert McGreevy. Cook is an artist member of the American Society of Marine Artist. His works have been used to grace the covers of several Great Lakes books as well as at the museum. LaMarre's talents, often compared to those of Shogren, are highly sought by shipping companies and private collectors. McGreevy's exacting detail often defines his work. Many consider his work to be the most historically researched paintings today.

"Great Lakes Masters: 150 Years of Marine Art" runs through March 22, 2015 at the National Museum of the Great Lakes. Regular admission fees apply. A "Living Legends Reception" featuring LaMarre and McGreevy will be held on Saturday Feb. 7 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Membership in the National Museum of the Great Lakes/Great Lakes Historical Society is required for the reception. Individual can join the museum by calling 419-214-5000.

National Museum of the Great Lakes


Hamilton’s 2014 cargo results show highest overseas tonnage in a decade

1/27 - Hamilton, Ont. – The Port of Hamilton has released its tonnage results for the 2014 shipping season. Total cargo volumes were 10,526,732 metric tonnes (MT) in 2014, representing a 5% increase over 2013.

The port welcomed 157 overseas vessels in 2014, with the balance (462) operating within the Canada/US Great Lakes. Overseas tonnage was 2 million MT, a gain of 39% year-over-year and the highest volume of overseas cargo in a decade.

The Port of Hamilton is the largest port in Ontario. A multimodal hub with full Seaway-depth marine capacity, goods can be imported from, and exported to, anywhere in the world. Direct rail and truck service puts some of North America’s largest consumer markets within a day’s reach.

“Efficient transportation can offer a critical advantage in global markets where margins are tight,” said Hamilton Port Authority President & CEO Bruce Wood. “More shippers in more markets are finding value in bringing their cargo through Hamilton.”

As the 2014 results show, the composition of cargo transiting the Port of Hamilton comprises a diversified mix representing the port’s service to the entire regional economy.

Agricultural commodities have grown steadily, from 12% of total tonnage in 2010, to more than 19% of the port’s tonnage today. Grain from all over southern Ontario is exported to international markets through the Port of Hamilton; and the port is also a primary gateway for imported fertilizer used on Ontario farms.

Many overseas vessels in 2014 carried finished steel, imported from Europe, the Middle East, Asia and South America. Finished steel tonnages totaled more than half a million tonnes and exceeded the port’s five-year average by 68%. The growth is due in part to dampened global prices for the commodity, as well as increased demand in regional manufacturing and construction sectors.

Manufacturing / Project Cargo
The Port of Hamilton’s strong connection with the region’s manufacturing industry was also behind the high volume of project cargo shipments in 2014. Project cargo shipments totaled 58,647 m3 (or 14,000 MT), an increase of 51% over 2013. A range of interesting project cargoes transited the port in 2014, such as: windmill blades and turbines; power plant components; construction machinery and vehicles; steel cables and pipes; and even a recreational yacht.

“Our job is to help Ontario businesses compete,” said Wood. “We’ve brought together a set of transportation and logistics supports that give our customers a competitive edge.”

Hamilton Port Authority


Lookback #436 – Saturn rode out winter storm on Jan. 27, 1978

Winter navigation comes with its hazards on the Great Lakes. It was 37-years ago today that the tanker Saturn finally got relief from a bout of wild weather out on Lake Michigan.

The vessel was still delivering fuel products on Jan. 26-27, 1978, when it encountered 80 knot winds and twenty foot waves. The surging seas made it very difficult to make any headway but the storm passed and the vessel survived the relentless pummeling of nature.

Saturn had been built at Jennings, Louisiana, in 1974 and was the first new powered tanker constructed for Cleveland Tankers in many years. The 384 foot, 6 inch long vessel had a double-skinned hull and was used to handle bunker fuels and asphalt as well as other petroleum products.

The ship was built with the ability of the pilothouse, stack and masts to be raised and lowered to enable navigation under fixed bridges that made docks unavailable to higher profile ships.

Saturn later sailed for Enerchem USA and, in 1991, spent much of the year trading on Lake Ontario between Oakville and Oswego. Then, in 1992, the ship made two trips to Hamilton with liquid asphalt.

The ship headed down the Seaway for the last time on Oct. 3, 2003. It was tied up at Sorel when sold to Mar Shipping and registered in Panama as b) Centenario Trader. The vessel departed for the south on Nov. 14, 2003, and service as a bunkering tanker on the Pacific side of the Panama Canal.

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


Coast Guard begins breaking ice despite protests; ships delayed

1/26 - Port Huron, Mich. – The U.S. Coast Guard began breaking ice in the North Channel of the St. Clair River despite protests.

On Saturday, four people stood at the mouth of the North Channel with picket signs that said “no cutter in North Channel.” The protesters were back Sunday morning.

The protesters were concerned that cutting the ice would disrupt the cleared path from Harsens Island to Algonac, preventing residents from traveling to the island and back safely.

Lt. Commander Jillian Lamb, command center chief for the U.S. Coast Guard Sector Detroit, said the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Bristol Bay began cutting around 10 a.m. this morning.

Bob Bryson, who operates an airboat on Harsens Island, said near 20 protesters stood on the edge of the ice on Harsens Island in the North Channel from 9:30 to 11 a.m. this morning.

Bryson said the protesters left once the cutter began working.

Meanwhile, The U.S. Coast Guard will be breaking ice in the St. Clair River throughout the night.

Lt. Commander Jillian Lamb, command center chief for the U.S. Coast Guard Sector Detroit, said progress has been slow. U.S. Coast Guard ships Bristol Bay, Neah Bay and Mackinaw were joined by the Canadian Samuel Risley and Griffon, working through the ice in the river's channels Sunday.

Lamb said the Coast Guard stopped trying to escort freighters through the area, and is instead focusing on clearing the ice. She said the majority of the overnight work will be in the river.

It is hoped that by Monday evening a convoy of freighters will be able to pass through the river.

Port Huron Times Herald


Lookback #435 – Wirta launched at South Shields, England, on Jan. 26, 1948

The Finnish freighter Wirta made one visit to the Great Lakes in 1960 and returned on three occasions in 1961. The vessel was sailing under its third name by the time it came inland.

The ship had been built at South Shields, England, and it was launched there as a) Viktun, 67 years ago today. The 405-foot, 10-inch-long vessel was completed in May and entered service under the flag of Panama.

It was sold and registered in Switzerland as b) Calanda in 1951 and moved to Finnish service as c) Wirta in 1955. During most of its career, this ship sailed on saltwater routes.

In 1965, the freighter was sold again, this time for Liberian flag service, and renamed d) Marindi Jubami. The ship made its first, and perhaps its only, trip through the Seaway that year.

Another sale in 1969 brought the name e) Karina I, and this was shortened to f) Ina following a sale for scrap in 1973. The former Seaway trader was under tow when it broke loose and sank in the Atlantic, west of Spain, on Dec. 19, 1973.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  January 26

News Photo Gallery
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.


CSL St-Laurent arrives at the Panama Canal

1/25 - CSL St-Laurent, the second of two new Trillium-class bulk carriers built in China at the Yangfan Shipyard, arrived on Saturday at 6:05 p.m. at the Pacific entrance to the Panama Canal.

CSL St-Laurent departed from Yangfan on Dec. 13, beginning their maiden voyage to Canada. The vessel, after departing China, made a brief stop in Davao, Philippines, for fuel on Dec. 19 before arriving at the Panama Canal. It was expected to take the CSL St-Laurent between 50-60 days to complete her maiden voyage to Canada. The CSL St-Laurent brings to a close CSL's new-build program that was started in 2012 with the Baie St. Paul.

Denny Dushane


Islanders protesting North Channel ice breaking by Mackinaw

1/25 - Algonac, Mich. – A group of Harsens Island residents is protesting the U.S. Coast Guard's plan to break ice in the North Channel of the St. Clair River.

Four people were at the mouth of the North Channel on Saturday with picket signs telling the Coast Guard to "Go Home." They plan to protest again from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, when the ice breaking begins.

Susan Bryson, one of the protest organizers, said the group wants the Coast Guard to know the plan is dangerous.

"The cutter (Mackinaw) is going to come down the North Channel," she said. "The North Channel is our only access for the ferry to go back and forth. It will disrupt the path we already have and will landlock us for a long time."

The ferries from Champion's Auto Ferry maintain a clear path from the mainland to Harsens Island. Champion's provides the only commercial access to the island.

"I'm against the cutter coming down the North Channel," Bryson said. "The reason is the ferry would not be able to run."

The Coast Guard plans to break ice in the North Channel to relieve brash ice in the South Channel that reportedly is two feet or more in spots. Lt. Commander Jillian Lamb, command center chief for the U.S. Coast Guard Sector Detroit, said the Coast Guard does not want to break ice in the North Channel, but feels it must to move ice through the river system.

She said the Coast Guard is sensitive to residents' concerns. The Coast Guard intends to start ice breaking on Sunday, she said. Residents, however, believe the North Channel will jam with ice as it has in the past.

"It may relieve the South Channel a little bit, but it has no benefit coming down the North Channel," Bryson said. "We're just trying to get our voices heard. They don't realize how dangerous it is when they come down the North Channel."

Mike Balan has lived on Harsens Island for 16 years. "The North Channel empties into Anchor Bay," he said. "It's shallow down there ... There's no place for the ice to go. I'm retired, so I stocked up on toilet paper and frozen foods," he said. "I don't have to leave the island. I feel sorry for the working people and students. They're going to be the ones to suffer."

Bud Breitmeyer has a cottage on Russell Island, where the St. Clair River splits into the North and South channels. He operates the ferry to Russell Island. He pointed to a ledge of ice in a boat well that had formed a couple of feet above the current surface of the ice.

"We need the water," he said. "The water dropped two feet because of the blockage (up river near Marine City)."

He said he thinks the Coast Guard does a good job, but he's concerned what will happen if the North Channel jams with ice.

"I've been out here 40 years battling Mother Nature and I've learned if she wants to move her furniture, she's going to move it," he said. "To break up what we've got now, I'm afraid of what could happen. If we come through here and make a path with anything at all, I'm afraid it's going to jam up. I've seen the ice where the Coast Guard came and broke it up for the freighters, and that flooded the city of Algonac and Russell Island."

Bryson said when the ferry shuts down, islanders have to use airboats to get to the mainland.

"There's children that have to take the airboat to school," she said. "... You have to take the airboat across to get to the ambulance. ... People can't get to work."

Bryson's husband, Bob, operates an airboat but, "we don't want to do the airboat. That ice will be so jagged that it will be dangerous."

Balan said riding the airboat soon loses its appeal. "The airboat is fun and a novelty the first time you take it, but the second time it isn't," he said.

Some airboat owners had talked about trying to block the Mackinaw and other Coast Guard craft, but Bryson said she was not sure if they were still planning that action.

"We have never really voiced our opinion, and why haven't we?" she said. "Maybe it will make a difference."

Port Huron Times Herald


Port Reports -  January 25

Thessalon, Ont.
CSL’s Whitefish Bay and Rt. Hon. Paul J. Martin were unloading coal from Sandusky late last week. The Soo-based tug Wilfred M. Cohen has been assisting with ice. The coal is bound for Essar Steel in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.


Lawmakers: Repealing Jones Act would have a 'harmful effect on our economy'

1/25 - A small cadre of lawmakers came together this week to jointly voice their concern about an amendment being pushed by Sen. John McCain that would end preferential treatment for American-made ships.

Repealing the Merchant Marine Act of 1920 has been something of a pet project for the Arizona republican for some time now. Earlier this month, his aversion to the law, widely known as the Jones Act, surfaced again.

But this time, it was attached to the controversial Keystone XL pipeline legislation. McCain, who is the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, introduced an amendment to the legislation that could come up for a vote as early as this week.

Industry groups have also came out against the amendment, claiming it would ruin the shipbuilding industry and disturb the networks of suppliers that support it.

Under the law, only ships owned by American citizens, operating with a predominantly American crew and built in the United States, can operate on the nation's waterways between U.S. ports.

Coastal Alabama is home to a number of shipyards, who jointly support more than 5,000 jobs. Austal USA alone employs upwards of 4,000 people, building littoral combat ships and the joint high speed vessels for the U.S. Navy. There's also BAE Systems, Horizon Shipbuilding and Ingalls Shipbuilding in nearby Pascagoula, Miss.

While the Jones Act is concerned specifically with vessel operators carrying cargoes, industry advocates say it's those medium-sized companies that help support the base of suppliers and a ready workforce that big defense contractors rely on.

"If you don't have the competition of suppliers and vendors that support the commercial side of things; you have less competition; you have less workforce [and] you have less capability for the Austals of the world and the Ingalls of the world," said Matt Paxton, president of the Shipbuilders Council of America.

"Those shipyards benefit from the fact that we have healthy commercial shipbuilding and ship repair..."

The impact is not lost on federal lawmakers, at least not the 32 of them who signed on to the letter, including U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne. The 1st Congressional District ranks 12th out of 435 districts for jobs related to Jones Act industries, Byrne said, adding that the law is "vitally important" to the country's maritime economy.

Joe Mayhall, a vice president at Signal Ship Repair, said the episode is a familiar one witnessed by the maritime industry. And that the threat, although they never gain much support, is taken to be a real one.

Signal employs about 250 workers at its shipyard in Mobile, and another 250 workers at other locations on the Gulf Coast.

"We take it seriously everytime it comes up," Mayhall said, "but do we think that he has much support -- no we don't think he has much support at all."

The Arizona republican has been a known critic of the 95-year-old law, speaking out against its "unnecessary, protectionist restrictions" on foreign-flagged ships.

Citing a Congressional Research Service report, McCain says it costs more to move crude oil from the Gulf Coast to the Northeast U. S. relying on a Jones Act tanker, whereas a foreign-flagged tanker could do the same job for less than half the cost.

The argument doesn't add up, Paxton said in response to McCain's rationale, pointing to a Government Accountability Office report. The document released by the federal government's watchdog agency highlighted the added cost of doing business in the U.S. foreign ships would also have to pay due to regulations.

"If you were to repeal the Jones Act, you would repeal the U.S. build requirement," Paxton said, "but these foreign vessels who would have better price bargains would still still have to meet environmental regulations; they would have to meet tax regulations; they would have to meet workforce regulation; they would have to pay better wages."


Lookback #434 – Max Manus suffered an engine room explosion on Jan. 25, 1964

By the time that the Norwegian freighter Max Manus came through the Seaway for its only visit in 1959, the ship had survived some wild adventures.

The vessel had been built at Sunderland, England, and completed in August 1937 as Troma for Norwegian service. The 129.3 metre long ship was unloading South American grain at Moss, Norway, when that country was overrun by invading German forces.

The ship was taken over by the Nazis to work on their account during the war. On Oct. 18, 1940, the vessel went aground in the Storebelt off Denmark and, in January 1942, it suffered ice damage while on a voyage from Hamburg, Germany, back to Norway.

Troma struck a mine off Holland on May 4, 1942, and had to be towed to Rotterdam for repairs. Shortly after returning to service, it hit another mine on July 10, 1942, and again was taken back to Rotterdam.

Then, for the third time that year, the vessel again hit a mine while bound from Rotterdam to Horten, Norway, but made in to port for additional repairs. The ship was damaged in an air attack at Hamburg, on July 25, 1943, and, while at the shipyard in Oslo, it was sunk in an act of sabotage on Nov. 24, 1944.

With the arrival of a hard fought peace, the ship was refloated in 1946 and taken to Antwerp, Belgium, for repairs. It returned to service as the Max Manus, named for the Norwegian resistance hero who was involved in its sabotage while under German control.

Max Manus was a success on deep sea routes and made a routine visit to the Great Lakes in 1959, likely to pick up grain. It was sold and renamed Flora N. in 1963.

The ship was discharging cement at Ibiza, Spain, when an engineroom explosion touched off a fire on Jan. 25, 1964 (51-years ago today). Local officials arranged to tow the blazing vessel out of the port and it was beached to burn itself out. Three members of the crew perished as the midsection was gutted and the heat buckled the deck. The hull was abandoned but may have been subsequently broken up on site or moved to a scrapping berth.

Skip Gillham – from his column of Sept. 25, 2014, in the Port Colborne Leader


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.


Mackinaw stops in Port Huron

1/24 - Port Huron, Mich. – The only U.S. Coast Guard heavy ice breaking vessel on the Great Lakes arrived at the Bean Dock in Port Huron Friday.

The 240-foot U.S. Coast Guard ship Mackinaw will assist four other Coast Guard ships breaking ice on the St. Clair River.

On Sunday, U.S. Coast Guard ships Mackinaw, Bristol Bay, and Neah Bay and Canadian Coast Guard ships Griffon and Samuel Risley will work to break up the North Channel of the St. Clair River.

Breaking the North Channel is a last resort used when ice further up river threaten flooding.

The icebreaking in the North Channel likely will disrupt ferry service in Harsens Island.

Commander Kevin Floyd, chief of the prevention department for the U.S. Coast Guard Sector Detroit, said brash ice has piled up throughout the river, and is two feet or more in some areas.

The ice has plugged near Marine City, raising concerns of flooding in St. Clair.

Port Huron Times Herald


Despite strong finish, lakes coal comes up short in 2014

1/24 - Cleveland, Ohio – A nearly 1-million ton increase in coal shipments on the Great Lakes in December was not enough to enable the trade to outperform 2013. Shipments for the year totaled 24.5 million tons, a slight decrease compared to 2013.

The December surge was possible because heavy ice did not form on the Lakes until January of this year. Shipments totaled 3.1 million tons, an increase of 43 percent compared to a year ago. Shipments from Superior, Wisconsin, rose by 39 percent. Loadings at Lake Erie terminals soared by more than 70 percent.

However, for the year, only the Ohio port range registered an increase. Shipments from Toledo, Sandusky, Ashtabula and Conneaut totaled 8.5 million tons, an increase of 26.3 percent. The 706,000 tons loaded in Conneaut were the first that dock has shipped since 2008.

Shipments from Lake Superior ports totaled 14.1 million tons, a decrease of 6.2 percent. Loadings out of Chicago fell 34 percent.

Lake Carriers’ Association


Port Reports -  January 24

Toledo, Ohio – Denny Dushane
The 1,000-footer James R. Barker arrived in Toledo to unload iron ore pellets at the Torco Dock on Friday afternoon. Due next at Torco will be the tug Defiance and barge Ashtabula expected to arrive on Saturday in the early morning. Also expected to arrive on Saturday during the late evening will be the tug Victory and barge James L. Kuber for the Torco Dock. The Calumet is due on Sunday at noon and the Manitowoc rounds out the schedule arriving on Monday in the mid-afternoon.


Lookback #433 – Former Dammtor sank in heavy weather on Jan. 24, 1967

Dammtor was a West German freighter that dated from 1953. It was built at Papenburg and launched there on Aug. 29, 1953. The 233-foot-long freighter entered service for Fisser & Doornum in October 1953.

Dammtor saw early saltwater service but came to the Great Lakes in 1957, if not earlier. It also made four trips through the newly opened St. Lawrence Seaway locks in 1959, but its small size and limited capacity did not fit the new era.

Dammtor was sold and registered in Israel as Hash Losha in 1962 and did not come back to the Great Lakes.

It was trading on the Mediterranean when it encountered heavy weather on Jan. 24, 1967, while sailing some 80 miles west of Naples, Italy. The ship sent out distress calls during its voyage from Kimolos Island, Greece, to Marseilles, France, but no one got there on time.

The former Great Lakes traveler was overwhelmed by the stormy seas and sank 48 years ago today. All 21 sailors on board were lost.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  January 24

News Photo Gallery
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.


Less ice means more ore ships on lakes in December

1/23 - Cleveland, Ohio – A relatively mild December on the Great Lakes allowed iron ore shipments to increase dramatically compared to a year ago when an early arriving winter blanketed the system with thick ice. Shipments totaled 6.3 million tons, an increase of 23.6 percent compared to a year ago. The biggest increase came from U.S. ports on Lake Superior. Loadings out of Duluth, Minnesota, Superior, Wisconsin, Two Harbors and Silver Bay, Minnesota, and Marquette, Michigan, totaled 5,124,525 tons, an increase of 41.8 percent compared to December 2013.

The December surge allowed the iron ore trade to erase the deficit with 2013, at least on paper. Lakes-wide, the iron ore trade totaled 59.6 million tons, an increase of 2.2 percent. However, even with higher water levels allowing for bigger loads and the activation of three U.S.-flag lakers that had not been scheduled to operate in 2014, not all the iron ore that was contracted to be hauled was delivered. The heavy ice that carpeted the Lakes between December 2013 and May 2014 delayed and/or cancelled so many voyages that the next seven months were not sufficient to meet all commitments.

January 2015 was not as cooperative ice-and weather-wise as December. A number of delays were incurred and cargo totals, when finalized, will reflect that.

Lake Carriers’ Association


Remains of Canadian Miner may be gone by March

1/23 - About half of the hull of the former Canadian Miner has been removed from Scatarie Island.

Canada Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Geoff MacLellan said Thursday the remaining portions will be cut into smaller pieces and hauled from the area by barge.

“Once the vessel is gone, then the complications become the (work) camp itself. It’s a really complex operation they have there, with different facilities set up; obviously, pretty significantly sized generators. So that will be the challenge, getting those things off on a barge, given the North Atlantic weather.”

MacLellan said the timelines are tricky, but it continues to look like the ship will be completely removed by the end of February.

“The key date now, as we get into the spring, is that fishing season. By mid-May, we should be in a pretty good spot. But, again, we’ll keep that dialogue open with the fishers and with the community.”

Given the discovery of hazardous materials — 30 tonnes of asbestos and 30,000 litres of diesel fuel — MacLellan has previously indicated the province would seek assistance from the federal government for the cost of cleanup. He said the department would wait for a final cost before having further discussions with Ottawa.

“With these additional contaminants, given the fact that it was … Transport Canada that provided the initial numbers that were clearly incorrect, we think they have a financial role to play here,” said the minister.

“The minute we have that, we are going to obviously make it public so that people know the exact number that we’re dealing with, and then we bring it back to the feds.”

MacLellan said the final number will very likely be higher than the $11.9 million budgeted for the removal project. All contaminants have been removed from the site, and he said there is no evidence there was any impact to the surrounding environment.

Chronicle Herald


Port Reports -  January 23

Erie, Pa.
Roger Blough has laid up for the winter at the Erie Sand & Gravel Dock. Presque Isle is due at ES&G Friday morning.


North Channel ice breaking could disrupt Harsens Island ferry

1/23 - Harsens Island, Mich. – The U.S. Coast Guard plans to begin icebreaking in the North Channel of the St. Clair River Sunday, possibly disrupting ferry traffic to and from Harsens Island.

Breaking the North Channel is a last resort used during periods of significant ice coverage, according to Commander Kevin Floyd, chief of the prevention department for the U.S. Coast Guard Sector Detroit.

"It's a resource or capability we have, but we don't like to use it very often," Floyd said. "It disrupts Harsens Island and the residents."

Ships will begin breaking ice at 10 a.m. Sunday. Floyd said efforts could last one to two days.

Typically, ice breakers move ice through the South Channel of the St. Clair River to avoid ruining the Harsens Island ferry's track across the river.

But Floyd said ice conditions on the St. Clair River are worse than this time last winter, and the North Channel provides another outlet for ice that's accumulated further up river.

Floyd said brash ice has piled up throughout the river and is two feet or more in spots. He said the ice is plugged near Marine City, raising concerns of flooding near St. Clair. Floyd said the Coast Guard has been working closely with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to monitor water levels.

"It's been a rough, rough go," Floyd said. "It froze very, very quickly and jammed up very quickly. "This usually happens in spring, but the water levels this year, even before the ice, were significantly higher than last year."

Floyd said the U.S. Coast Guard ship Mackinaw, made for heavy icebreaking, will travel from the northern Great Lakes to assist in ice breaking on the St. Clair River.

On Sunday, U.S. Coast Guard ships Mackinaw, Bristol Bay and Neah Bay and Canadian Coast Guard ships Griffon and Samuel Risley will be assisting in ice breaking on the St. Clair River.

"It's not just one boat by itself," Floyd said. "We'll have a whole team of boats out."

He said, recently, at least one freighter a day has been getting stuck in the ice. Freighter traffic is one-way through the river and all vessels are required to have a U.S. or Canadian Coast Guard escort.

Artie Bryson, supervisor for Clay Township, said island residents are being notified of the possibility of a ferry closure online and through postings at the ferry.

"Right now, we have a good path going across for the ferry," Bryson said. "And, basically, when they send a cutter up and down the channel, it kind of collapses the path and puts the ferry out of business for a while."

Bryson said it also could affect the township's capability of running an airboat across the river in the event of an emergency.

Artie Bryson's brother, Dave Bryson, operates the Harsens Island ferry, and his brother, Bob Bryson, operates an airboat. The Clay Township Fire Department also has an airboat.

He said the township is discussing emergency response with the Coast Guard. Bryson said the township will ensure the fire station on the island is manned and leave a police car there. He said the police department has officers who live on the island.

The township's water department, and DTE and Semco also will stage equipment on the island, Bryson said.

Port Huron Times Herald


McCain defends his Jones Act Amendment in Senate

1/23 - U.S. Senator John McCain (R-Az) took to the floor of the Senate Thursday to defend his amendment to repeal the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, also known as the Jones Act.

Senator McCain is trying to attach the amendment to a bill that would permit the construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, known as the Keystone XL Pipeline Act (S.1), which last week past an initial hurdle in the Senate. The amendment specifically targets the U.S. build requirement of the Jones Act.

McCain’s amendment has been met with heavy criticism from both maritime and shipbuilding industry stakeholders and lawmakers alike, such as Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-2) and Congressman Steven Palazzo (MS-4) who, along with 30 other bipartisan House Members, have sent a letter to Senate leadership urging opposition to the amendment, stating that its passing would “gut” the U.S shipbuilding industry.

McCain’s full floor statement is below:

“Mr. President, I come to the floor today to discuss an amendment I have filed to the pending legislation. This is an amendment to modify the Jones Act, an archaic 1920s-era law that hinders free trade, stifles the economy and hurts consumers – largely for the benefit of labor unions. Specifically, my amendment would effectively repeal a law that prevents U.S. shippers from purchasing, or otherwise affordably procuring the services of, vessels built outside the United States for use in American waters.

“From time to time, here in Congress we find that legislation still remains on the books many decades after it has served its original, stated purpose – if it ever had one. I think one of the best examples of this is a law called the Jones Act.

“As many of you know, the Jones Act is simply a continuation of laws passed through U.S. history addressing cabotage (or port-to-port coastal shipping). Those laws have been used to protect U.S. domestic shipping, dating back to the very first session of Congress.

“The Jones Act may have had some rationale back in the 1920s when it was enacted. But today, it serves only to raise shipping costs, making U.S. farmers and businesses less competitive in the global marketplace and increasing costs for American consumers.

“According to a 2002 U.S. International Trade Commission economic study, repealing the Jones Act would lower shipping costs by about 22 percent. The Commission also found that repealing the Jones Act would have an annual positive welfare effect of $656 million on the overall U.S. economy. Since these decade-old studies are the most recent statistics available, imagine the impact that Jones Act repeal would have today: far more than a $656 million annual positive welfare impact – likely closer to $1 billion, truly stimulating our economy in the midst of an anemic economic recovery.

“The requirement that U.S. shippers must purchase vessels in the United States comes at a tremendous cost that is passed onto U.S. consumers. For example:

“Just recently, U.S. container-line Matson placed a $418 million order for two 3,600 twenty-foot equivalent unit (T.E.U.) containerships in a U.S. shipyard. The high price of $209 million per vessel reflects that the ships will be carrying goods within the U.S. and, therefore, governed by the protectionist Jones Act.

“The fact is that Matson’s order at $209 million per ship is more than five times more expensive than those same ships were procured outside the United States. Ships of that size built outside the U.S. would cost closer to $40 million each. For comparison, even Maersk Line’s far larger 18,270 T.E.U. ships cost millions less, at an average of $185 million apiece.

“Further, the U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) has found that the cost to operate U.S. flag vessels – at $22,000 per day – is about 2.7 times higher than foreign-flag vessels – just $6,000 per day. A significant factor in these increased costs is obviously the Jones Act.

“There is no doubt that these inflated costs are eventually passed on to shipping customers. In the energy sector, for example, the price for moving crude oil from the Gulf Coast to the Northeastern United States on Jones Act tankers is $5 to $6 dollars per barrel, while moving it to eastern Canada on foreign-flag tankers is $2. That can mean an additional $1 million per tanker in shipping costs for oil producers. This increased cost is why, according the Congressional Research Service, more than twice as much Gulf Coast crude oil was shipped by water to Canada as was shipped to Northeastern U.S. refineries over the last year – all in an effort to avoid paying Jones Act vessels shipping rates.

“The implications of this act touches just about every American who buys gasoline. It is American consumers who pay exorbitantly higher prices because of a law that protects the shipbuilding industry and domestically-manufactured ships that transport crude and other refined products.

“But, it’s not just the energy sector that deals with the distorted effects of the Jones Act. Cattlemen in Hawaii that want to bring their cattle to the U.S. mainland market, for example, have actually resorted to flying the cattle on 747 jumbo jets to work around the restrictions of the Jones Act. Their only alternative is to ship the cattle to Canada because all livestock carriers in the world are foreign-owned.

“I am deeply concerned about the impact of any barrier to free trade. I believe U.S. trade barriers invite other countries to put up or retain their own barriers and that, at the end of the day, the U.S. consumer and the economy at-large pays the price.

“Throughout my career, I have always been a strong supporter of free trade. Opening markets to the free flow of goods and services benefits America, and benefits our trading partners. Trade liberalization creates jobs, expands economic growth, and provides consumers with access to lower cost goods and services. Simply put, free trade means greater growth, greater growth means more jobs, and more jobs mean greater individual prosperity for more Americans.

“And yet, as clear as the benefits of free trade are, actually taking action to remove trade barriers and open markets can be almost impossible here in Congress. Special interests that have long and richly benefited from protectionism flex their muscles and issue doomsday warnings about the consequences of moving forward on free trade. And, judging from the hysterical reaction by some of the special interests to my simply filing this amendment, the debate over the Jones Act will be no different.

“Mr. President, the domestic shipbuilding requirement of the Jones Act is outdated and must to be abolished.

“U.S. consumers are free to buy a foreign-built car. U.S. trucking companies are free to buy a foreign-built truck. U.S. railroads are free to buy a foreign-built locomotive. U.S. airlines are free to buy a foreign-built airplane. Why can’t U.S. maritime commercial interests more affordably ship goods on foreign-made vessels? Why do U.S. consumers, particularly those in Hawaii, Alaska, and Puerto Rico, need to pay for ships that are five times more expensive?

“If there was ever a law that has long ago outlived its usefulness – if it ever had any – it is the Jones Act. On the Jones Act, it is time to change course – today.”



Centuries-old Erie Canal boats discovered at bottom of Lake Ontario

1/23 - Rochester, N.Y. – The wrecks of two 19th-century canal boats have been found on the bottom of Lake Ontario, an unusual discovery because such vessels typically weren’t used on open water, a team of New York shipwreck hunters said Wednesday.

The three-member team from the Rochester area said they discovered the boats using side-scan sonar last year while searching for shipwrecks on Lake Ontario’s eastern end. The sunken canal boats – one 65 feet long and the other 78 feet long – were found within a few miles of each other about midway between Oswego and Sackets Harbor, said Jim Kennard of Fairport.

The discovery was made by a team of shipwreck explorer funded by the National Museum of the Great Lakes.

Two professional divers using apparatus for deep-water work captured video images of the wrecks, located more than 200 feet below the surface, Kennard said. The wrecks’ identifications haven’t been determined, but Kennard and fellow explorers Roger Pawlowski of Gates and Roland Stevens of Pultneyville believe the vessels were built in the mid-1800s when the Erie Canal was widened to accommodate larger boats.

Records of more than 600 Lake Ontario shipwrecks didn’t turn up a match for either canal vessel, the explorers said.

Kennard said the two shallow-draft boats were probably being towed by steamboats when they sunk. Both showed damage indicating that their cargoes may have shifted during fast-changing weather conditions typical for Lake Ontario, he said.

Kennard said the vessels were likely older boats whose owners tried to get one more voyage out of them hauling cargo on the lake, which is connected to the Erie Canal by the Oswego Canal.

“They took a chance,” Kennard said. “It didn’t work.”

The Guardian


Lookback #432 – The first Cartierdoc was launched on Jan. 23, 1928

The original Cartierdoc was a small, bulk carrying canal-sized ship. It was built by Swan Hunter & Wigham Richardson and launched at Wallsend, England, on Jan. 23, 1928. This was the latest addition to the Paterson Steamship Co. fleet when it was completed in March 1928.

The 1,919-gross-ton vessel crossed the Atlantic and soon settled into the Great Lakes trades. It was deepened by four feet at Montreal in 1949 and this enabled it to carry 3,000 tons deadweight or 110,000 bushels of grain.

When the Seaway opened on April 25, 1959, this vessel, in tandem with the Hastings of Canada Steamship Lines, was part of the second lockage on that historic day.

After being idle at Kingston, Cartierdoc was sold to Marine Salvage and towed to Port Colborne during the spring of 1962. There it was stripped to the deck for use as a chemical storage barge for Tank Truck Transport at Point Edward, Ont.

Renamed Chembarge No. 3, it would appear that the ship did not make a revenue voyage and was resold and arrived at Windsor, under tow, on Nov. 18, 1963.

There was some thought of sinking the hull as a breakwall at Windsor but the ship remained idle at Ojibway until resold and towed to Muskegon, Mich., departing Oct. 28, 1967. The hull was sunk the next year as a breakwall at Palasaides, Mich., along with Imperial Hamilton and Ann Arbor No. 5.

During 1969-1970, Chembarge No. 3 was clammed out and dismantled. The career that started with its launching 87 years ago today, had come to an end.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  January 23

News Photo Gallery
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 were 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.


New laker CWB Strongfield registered

1/22 - The new laker CWB Strongfield was registered January 20, 2015 in Winnipeg, home of its owners the Canadian Wheat Board. It was assigned Official Number 838693, and its gross tonnage was listed as 24,451. Builders are Nantong Mingde Heavy Industry Stock Co Ltd, Jiangsu, China. Build date was given as 2013, indicating the year construction started, rather than when it was completed.

Mac Mackay


Last vessel of 2014 shipping season enters Duluth-Superior harbor

1/22 - Duluth, Minn. – The last cargo vessel of the 2014 shipping season arrived in the Duluth harbor Tuesday morning. The John G. Munson is one of five ships that will lay up in the Duluth-Superior harbor this winter for maintenance and repair.

Mild winter weather so far has allowed ships to catch up on cargo deliveries after record ice cover drastically slowed shipping last winter. December shipments on the Great Lakes increased nearly 35 percent compared to a year ago.

"It's a bittersweet moment, I think, for all the folks who tried so hard to catch up with the very rough ice conditions at the start of the season," said Adele Yorde, spokeswoman for the Duluth Seaway Port Authority. "We were able to see a nice cargo surge in December and January this time around."

The next shipping season on Lake Superior will begin in late March, when crews return to prepare for the reopening of the Soo Locks between Lake Superior and Lakes Michigan and Huron. "It's called fit-out," Yorde said. "They get everything started up again, fire up the engines, get everything working, because they'll want to get in a queue to be downbound and ready for the locks to open on March 25."

Minnesota Public Radio


Great Lakes water levels to hit 20-year high

1/22 - Detroit, Mich. – Great Lakes water levels are predicted to rise nine inches above average this summer. Lakes will be more than two feet higher than the record low experienced in January 2013. Tom O’Brien is with the US Army Corps of Engineers Lake Michigan Area. He says higher water levels allow commercial vessels to carry heavier cargo, and recreational boats to move around more easily. But he says they don’t help everyone.

“When you’re coming up two feet in water levels with a beach that’s on a one to twenty slope, you know, you’re certainly losing a lot of land out there, probably a hundred feet or more.”

O’Brien says he’s already heard from many property owners about waves and erosion causing damage to their homes. He says last year’s polar vortex is partially responsible for the rising water levels.



Port Reports -  January 22

Sturgeon Bay, Wis. – Daniel Lindner
Two more ships have arrived in Sturgeon Bay for winter layup. American Century arrived at 6:30 a.m. on Wednesday morning, and Joseph L. Block arrived in mid-afternoon. American Century was placed in the graving dock, possibly to receive her five-year survey or a new paint job. Their two arrivals brings the total number of ships laid up so far to 13, counting the two tugs in port for the winter. James R. Barker was expected to lay up in Sturgeon Bay on Jan. 22, but is still above the St. Clair River waiting for a downbound passage to deliver her final ore cargo to the Torco dock in Toledo, OH. Both Cason J. Callaway and Arthur M. Anderson are expected to arrive late this week into early next week for the winter.

Erie, Pa. – Gene P.
Roger Blough, after spending a few days cleaning tanks off of Presque Isle, entered the harbor about 9 a.m. Wednesday. It moved slowly thru the ice which looked to be about eight inches thick and then was met in the harbor by the tug New York, which broke up the ice so the Blough could turn and back into the Erie Sand & Gravel on the east side of DonJon shipyard. She will spend the winter in Erie. Presque Isle should be arriving at ES&G Friday morning.


Film festival in Alpena will show more than 30 Great Lakes-inspired films

1/22 - Alpena, Mich. – A film about Alpena students competing in an underwater robot competition is among 30 Great Lakes-inspired films that will be shown this week at the Thunder Bay International Film Festival.

Also on tap is Project: Ice, a documentary on the history and science of Great Lakes freshwater supply through ice that has attracted national attention, said Stephanie Gandullla, film festival medial coordinator.

The festival, working in partnership with the San Francisco International Ocean Film, is today through Sunday.

“Through the powerful form of visual communication, the Thunder Bay International Film Festival offers both a means to communicate ocean and Great Lakes issues and brings new and different cultural events to northeast Michigan,” said Gandulla.

Films from the San Francisco International Ocean Film Festival will also be featured. The festival, launched in 2004, showcases films largely unavailable to the general public, according to its website.

Along with viewing the films, attendees can meet professional filmmakers and attend a wrap party on the last day, according to the festival’s program.

Films from the festival’s filmmakers workshop taught by University of Michigan graduate Joseph Rybarczyk will be premiered on Sunday.

The Thunder Bay International Film Festival combines the area’s love for water and film, Mary Beth Stutzman, president of the Alpena Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, said in a press release.

Events on Wednesday will be held in Rogers City with tickets available for $10. Thursday’s events are free and open to the public, with a portion of wine sales going to the Friends of Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, Gandulla said. Tickets for the reception and films on Friday are $30, and $5 extra for each following program, according to the press release. Weekend passes can also be bought for $50.

Great Lakes Echo


Lookback #431 – Alcoa Puritian, a lakes trader in 1959, sold for scrap on Jan. 22, 1965

1/22 - Alcoa Puritan was the first of three Alcoa-named ships to enter the Seaway. It was up bound through the newly-opened waterway in 1959 and only made a single trip to our inland shores.

This 417-foot-long steamship was one of the C-1 designed freighters built during World War Two to assist the transportation needs of the war effort. It was constructed by Consolidated Steel and launched at Wilmington, CA on Sept. 27, 1942.

The vessel was named after a previous Alcoa Puritan that had been shelled by gunfire and then torpedoed and sunk on May 6, 1942. It was carrying bauxite from Port au Spain, Trinidad, to Mobile, Ala., at the time. All on board made it to the lifeboats and were saved. The U-boat commander climbed out on deck of his submarine, apologized for having to sink their ship, and wished them well. He did not make it through the war as his submarine was sunk off Brazil in January 1943.

Both of these ships were owned by the Alcoa Steamship Co. and used to transport the vital supplies of bauxite for the production of aluminum. They operated on the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico and could carry 9,524 tons deadweight.

The second Alcoa Puritian was acquired by the U.S. Dept. of Commerce in 1963. The vessel was laid up when it was sold for scrap on Jan. 22, 1965, which was 50 years ago today. The 23-year-old freighter was broken up by the Pinta Island Metals Co. in Mobile, AL beginning in February 1965.

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

Duluth, Minn. – Daniel Lindner and Denny Dushane
John G. Munson arrived Duluth at 9:24 a.m. on Tuesday morning, becoming the last ship to arrive Duluth for winter layup. The Munson's arrival brings a total of five ships spending the winter in Duluth. This is the smallest layup fleet Duluth has had in quite a few years.

American Integrity, arrived Jan. 7, at Port Terminal Berth 6
Kaye E. Barker, arrived Jan. 12, at Fraser Shipyards
Indiana Harbor, arrived Jan. 17, at Enbridge Dock
Mesabi Miner, arrived Jan. 19, at Midwest Energy
John G. Munson, arrived Jan. 20, at Fraser Shipyards

Milwaukee, Wis. – Denny Dushane
The 1,000-footer Edwin H. Gott arrived in Milwaukee on Tuesday morning for winter lay-up. This brings to five the total number vessels that will be spending the winter here. The others are are the tug G.L. Ostrander/barge Integrity, tug Samuel de Champlain with the barge Innovation, Burns Harbor and the Stewart J. Cort. This is the first time in many years that the Gott has laid-up in Milwaukee.

Toledo, Ohio – Denny Dushane
Three more vessels – Philip R. Clarke, St. Clair and Great Republic – arrived in Toledo for winter lay-up on Tuesday, bringing the total number of vessels to 13. The list of the vessels wintering in Toledo now includes the Algorail, which is at the Ironhead Shipyard Drydock for its five-year Coast Guard inspection/survey; American Courage at the CSX Coal Dock; American Mariner at CSX #1 Wall; St. Clair and American Spirit at CSX #2 Wall; H. Lee White at the CSX #3 Wall; Sam Laud at the Old Interlake Iron Co. Dock, and Manistee and the tug Ken Boothe Sr. / barge Lakes Contender at Midwest Terminals of Toledo Dock. The tug Olive L. Moore and barge Lewis J. Kuber are laid up across from the Torco Ore Dock slip. Great Republic and Philip R. Clarke are laid-up at the Torco Slip #2, East Wall. American Valor remains in long-term lay-up near the Lakefront Docks. Among the vessels expected to arrive for unloading at the Torco Dock will be the James R. Barker, tug Defiance/barge Ashtabula, Calumet along with the tug Victory/barge James L. Kuber in the next few days ahead.


All invited to ISMA Grand Lodge Dinner, Ball Feb. 6

1/21 - Duluth, Minn. – The International Ship Masters Association, the Great Lakes region’s largest fraternal organization of vessel captains, crewman and executives, will hold its 125th consecutive Grand Lodge National Convention at Duluth Feb. 5-8. The Twin Ports Lodge 12 will host the event.

This year’s convention theme is "Deep Blue Is The New Green.”

Boatnerds and the general public are invited to the elegant Grand Lodge Dinner and Ball the evening of Friday, Feb. 6. It will be held at the Duluth Entertainment & Convention Center’s Harborside Ballroom. As in the past this dressy affair, with its stunning views of the Aerial Bridge and Twin Ports harbor, will be the maritime social event of the year. The keynote speaker will be Dr. Richard Stewart of the Great Lakes Maritime Research Institute, a recognized and leading educator in the development of green fuels for marine use. As well, there will be a Silent Auction and music provided by the 16-piece North Shore Big Band.

Dinner choices include prime rib, king salmon or cheese tortellini. Reservations must be made by phone before Wednesday, Jan. 28. Cost is $55 per person, payable only online at, using by Wednesday, Jan. 28. Social hour is at 5 p.m., with the dinner, program and ball starting at 6:30 p.m. Dress is requested to be uniform or business attire. Please call (715) 392-6287 with your meal choice and reservation.

ISMA Lodge 12


Lookback #430 – Former Veslefjell abandoned by the crew on Jan. 21, 1978

The former Fjell Line freighter Veslefjell was sailing as e) Marlen when it began leaking in heavy weather while on a voyage from Aigion, Greece, to Nigeria with a cargo that included cement and fibre pipes.

The crew took to the lifeboats 37 years ago today and their ship was last seen in position 30.01 N / 11.37 W which put it in the vicinity of the Canary Islands. It is listed as “presumed sunk.”

This ship was a pre-Seaway and early Seaway caller to the Great Lakes. It began inland service in 1951, the year it was built and was a regular caller to American and Canadian ports around the inland seas.

On April 17, 1958, the last year before the Seaway, Veslefjell opened the Lachine Canal heading upbound on April 17 for Chicago with 1,200 tons of liquor, bicycle parts and miscellaneous cargo from Belgium, France, Germany and Holland.

In 1960 the ship was lengthened from 258'7” to 297'4” at Sunderland, England, and re-registered from 1550 to 1851 gross tons. Capacity was now listed at 3355 deadweight, which allowed additional profitable service into the Great Lakes. Veslefjell made a total of 11 trips through the Seaway and was last inland in 1962.

The ship was sold and renamed Sea Carrier in 1962, Veslefjell again in 1964, Asteri in 1965 and finally Marlen in 1969.

Skip Gillham


Help Wanted

Western Great Lakes Pilots Association is currently accepting applications for open Applicant Pilot positions starting Spring 2015. All interested parties should visit: for general information about pilotage in District #3 which encompasses Lakes Huron, Michigan, the St. Marys River, and Lake Superior.

For Applications please visit:

Operations Staff
Central Marine Logistics is accepting application for Operations staff in commercial cargo ship management. Responsibility will include management of vessel schedules, coordinating stevedoring operations, cargo documentation, and customer relations of waterborne cargo movements on Lake Michigan. Position requires attending various ports on Lakes Michigan and boarding large vessels. Some overnight travel required. Qualifications include a marine background, good communication, organizational and computer skills.

Based in Griffith Indiana, Central Marine Logistics is an operator of bulk freighters sailing on the Great Lakes and steamship agent for numerous foreign vessels trading on Lake Michigan.

Interested candidates should contact


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.


Ship-watching season has arrived at Sturgeon Bay

1/20 - Sturgeon Bay, Wis. – The big Great Lakes freighters have started making their way to Bay Shipbuilding Co. in Sturgeon Bay for their winter layup.

By week's end 16 vessels are scheduled to arrive for maintenance and docking during the off-season for Great Lakes shipping. At least four made their way through the Sturgeon Bay canal and between the downtown bridges over the weekend.

The 2014-15 winter fleet at Bay Ship, in the order of their scheduled arrival:

• CSL Laurentien (740 feet long), owned by Canada Steamship Lines, arrived Nov. 29 for repowering.
•Tug Invincible (100), Grand River, Dec. 20.
•Tug Rebecca Lynn (113), Andrie, Dec. 27.
•CSL Assiniboine (740), CSL, Dec. 28, for repowering.
•Algolake (730), Algoma, Jan. 2.
•Hon. James L. Oberstar (806), Interlake, Jan. 12.
•Edgar B. Speer (1,000), Key Lakes, Jan. 16.
•Buffalo (634), American, Jan. 17.
•Paul R. Tregurtha (1,013), Interlake, Jan. 18.
•Wilfred Sykes (690), Central Marine, Jan. 18.
•American Century (1,000), American, Jan. 19.
•Walter J. McCarthy Jr. (1,000), American, Jan. 19.
•Joseph L. Block (728), Central Marine, Jan. 22.
•James R. Barker (1,000), Interlake, Jan.22.
•Cason J. Callaway (767), Key Lakes, Jan. 23.
•Arthur M. Anderson (767), Key Lakes, Jan. 29.

In addition, the tug Samuel De Champlain arrived Nov. 29 and departed Jan. 5.

Green Bay Press Gazette


Work progressing on dismantling Canadian Miner wreck

1/20 - Sydney, N.S. – What's left of the derelict former lakes vessel Canadian Miner is becoming less by the day as crews work through the winter to dismantle the ship. "They're making pretty good progress now," said Gary Campbell, president of Nova Scotia Lands, which is managing the removal of the Miner on behalf of the province. "They're cutting the ship in sections now and they've got a big set of cable and chain pullers out there that they hook onto the sections and actually bring them to shore where it's a lot safer and easier for the other equipment, the big shears, to cut the pieces up."

CanMiner-Jan9.jpg (138529 bytes)Antigonish firm RJ MacIsaac Contruction, which was awarded the $12-million contract to remove the vessel, began work on the Scatarie Island site early last fall and the project is now expected to be completed sometime this spring.

Officials originally hoped the job would be finished by the end of 2014, but a number of delays and setbacks put things behind schedule.

"There was a whole number of things that took longer than I think they had originally anticipated," said Campbell.

Everything from getting rock for the berm, to securing the proper permits, to sourcing the right equipment presented challenges, as did the fact that asbestos levels on the ship were five times more than estimated and 30,000 litres of diesel was discovered aboard, when a study had indicated it had all been removed.

Difficult weather conditions and the need to repair or replace equipment as the job goes on have also added to the project's timeline.

Campbell said the company has brought in some new gear, including a diamond cable cutter, to cut apart the ship.

"The toughest part was the aft section where the engine room was and then the forward section where the bridge and those things were. Both of those have pretty much been taken care of," he said. "Hopefully by the end of next month or early March, they'll have everything brought in and brought to shore where they can cut it up into the various sizes they need to ship it off site."

Crews will then work to load the pieces of the ship onto barges.

"The options were they'd bring them into Sydney and ship them out, or bring them up to the strait at Port Hawkesbury and they'll undoubtedly now be looking for their best deal for the scrap value," he said. "They'll be talking to various scrap companies across the country."

Campbell said they expect the Miner removal project to be completed in the spring, noting officials will be monitoring any impacts on the upcoming lobster season.

"We'll have to be careful around moving barges to take stuff off shore if there's lobster traps everywhere, so that will be an issue that'll have to be watched," he said.

Once all pieces of the Miner are taken off Scatarie Island, crews will then have to clean up the site, remove the rock berms and dismantle the camp.

Campbell said the cost of the project will exceed the original $12-million price tag, but the final tally will be determined in the months ahead.

"There was a lot of things that we hadn't planned for so we're discussing with the contractor right now what the extra costs will be," he said.

The Canadian Miner, a 12,000-tonne, 223-metre bulk carrier, ran aground on Scatarie Island after a tow line snapped in rough seas during transit to Turkey from Montreal in September 2011.

Cape Breton Post


Great Lakes rebound, but rising levels pose problems

1/20 - The Great Lakes are coming back, but the rising water levels are reminding some Michiganians to be careful what they wish for.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials are predicting that Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron and Erie will likely be several inches above their long-term average in June. Lake Ontario's level, which is controlled, should be right at its historic level. Lake St. Clair, which is not part of the Great Lakes, will be 10 inches over that mark.

This is a reversal of fortunes from the past dozen years, when Michigan's boating season outlook included lake levels that fell below their historical average. Those low waters have meant headaches for anglers, marina operators and the shipping industry.

Many in and around the lakes have been waiting for lake levels to rebound closer to their historical averages because they allow commercial vessels to carry more cargo, recreational boats to get in and out of marinas and harbors more easily, and property owners to enjoy their more traditional shorelines. They also help stop the development of algae in shallow areas, which have created toxic blooms.

But the return of higher waters isn't necessarily welcomed by all, including the homeowners along Shore Drive in the southwest Michigan community of New Buffalo.

Since Halloween, when a major storm on Lake Michigan sent 20 foot-plus waves crashing onto shore for more than a day, the stability of the small bluff where homes sit has been a question mark. In years past, when the water level was as much as three feet lower, the storm wouldn't have been as much of a problem for the community near the Indiana border.

In the last two months, however, the ground between the water and the houses has been eaten away. As her backyard gradually disappeared, one homeowner moved out, fearing for her safety.

"The homeowner did not feel comfortable staying there, so she actually vacated the property and had all of the utilities disconnected," said Jay Guetschow, New Buffalo's acting city manager. "Our building inspector is keeping tabs on it because if it erodes back further to expose the foundation, then he'll have no choice but to tag it as uninhabitable."

Beaches around Michigan widened in recent years as the lake waters receded. The exposed sands can be washed or eroded away quickly.

"We expect to see rapid changes to the beaches," said Guy Meadows, director of the Great Lakes Research Center at Michigan Technological University. "What has built up over time can sometimes go away in a single storm."

The shifting sands can also make for dangerous beaches. Only the Polar Bear Club is likely to be swimming in the lakes anytime soon, but unstable beaches also can increase the opportunity for the creation of riptides. The dangerous tides, often linked to drownings, are created when currents break through off-shore sandbars, creating something like a jet stream.

The dilemma is different for marina owners 90 miles to the north of New Buffalo at Barrett Boat Works in Grand Haven.

Two years ago, with levels several feet below where they are now, the marina oversaw a $40,000 project to lower the facility's docks. Now that the waters are higher, it may be time to raise them.

"We spent a lot of money to lower the docks ... to make it easier for people to get in and out of the boats — which was great two years ago," general manager Randy Styburski told WXMI last month. "But now that the water level is higher, now when you pull a boat in there, you've got three feet of boat that you have to climb over to get back in ..."

Two years ago, these kinds of problems seemed unlikely. Early in 2013, Lakes Michigan and Huron set the record for the lowest mean average for any month since researchers began keeping track. The mean level for January — 576.02 feet above sea level — beat the March 1964 mark of 576.05.

Conditions since have been on a quick upward trajectory.

"This trend stretches across two years of very wet conditions," said Keith Kompoltowicz, chief of watershed hydrology for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. "The spring of 2013 was extremely wet, and we all remember the winter of 2013-2014 with the record levels of snow. And since then, 2014 was a very wet year across the board."

The Army Corps makes lake level predictions six months ahead of time and the estimates for June show:

• Lake Superior will be close to last year's level and five inches above its historical average.

• Lakes Michigan and Huron: 14 inches above last year and eight inches above their historical average.

• Lake St. Clair: eight inches over last year and 10 inches above its historical average.

• Lake Erie: six inches over last year and nine inches above its historical average.

• Lake Ontario will be slightly below its level of last year and right around its historical average.

The increases will be welcomed by the shipping industry, which was forced to take less cargo on ships when lowered waters produced shallower ports. The decreased payloads translated into millions of dollars in lost revenues in recent years, according to officials with the Lake Carriers' Association.

Those losses were compounded by last year's harsh winter weather that shut down shipping, resulting in an estimated loss of $705 million and 3,800 jobs.

With no relief in sight from Mother Nature, industry officials had been pushing for the federal government to address a backlog of dredging projects at ports around the Great Lakes. Now, the rising levels are being greeted as a positive, but not a cure-all.

"It's certainly great news if the water levels are going to remain up there," said Glen Nekvasil, vice president of the Lake Carriers' Association. "But there is still the need for the dredging work. Projections have been wrong before, and the lake levels are always fluctuating."

Detroit News


Port Reports -  January 20

Duluth, Minn. – Daniel Lindner
Mesabi Miner arrived Duluth at 6 a.m. on Monday, and stopped at the Calumet Fuel Dock to fuel before heading to Midwest Energy for the winter. John G. Munson, the final ship expected in Duluth for this winter, is due to arrive early Tuesday morning for Fraser Shipyards.

Sturgeon Bay, Wis. – Daniel Lindner
Walter J. McCarthy Jr. and Wilfred Sykes arrived in Sturgeon Bay for winter layup on Monday. A few more ships are still expected to arrive in the next few days for the winter.

Toledo, Ohio – Jim Hoffman. Denny Dushane
Tuesday should see the Great Republic and Philip R. Clarke arrive at Toledo for winter layup. They will be going over to the Lakefront Dock and tie up at the dock where the American Fortitude was laid up. Sam Laud arrived on Monday. The cutter Hollyhock was anchored in western Lake Erie near The Toledo Ship Channel and most likely will be assisting these boats in to Toledo. Ice is estimated at 1 to 2 feet thick with thicker amounts of up to 5 foot in areas of windrowed ice in the ship channel. Eventually the James R. Barker, Defiance/Ashtabula, and Calumet will be arriving at the Torco Ore Dock to unload ore. They are presently anchored in Lake Huron above Port Huron waiting for clearance by the Coast Guard to sail down the St. Clair River. Eventually, after the Calumet, the Victory/James L. Kuber will also be bound for the Torco dock to unload ore. She is at Escanaba waiting to load. Conneaut, Ohio – Tom Heagerty
Three U.S. Steel boats were in the harbor at the same time on Monday. Arthur M. Anderson unloaded ore and then moved to the coal dock to load. Roger Blough was unloading ore and the Cason J. Callaway was docked behind her waiting her turn. Thunder Bay is anchored outside the wall waiting to load coal and Presque Isle may be on her way also.

Port Colborne, Ont. – Nathan Attard
Algowood arrived Monday afternoon for winter layup.

Toronto, Ont. – Jens Juhl
The Toronto Port Authority standby ferry David Hornell V.C. went into service on Saturday and Sunday while the Marilyn Bell was alongside at Hanger #1 undergoing repairs to its rubber rub rail. Early Sunday the Toronto Drydock tug M.R.Kane broke ice in the ship channel in preparation for the arrival of the Stephen B. Roman.


Cruise ship Saint Laurent coming to the Great Lakes this season

1/20 - A new cruise operation, Haimark Line, is getting ready to make its debut in the Great Lakes/Seaway market this summer.

Haimark’s vessel Saint Laurent, now undergoing a $3.5 million major refurbishment, is scheduled to sail in May. The 105-stateroom craft may be familiar to inland shipwatchers as the former Cape May Light, which came to the lakes in 2001 under the ownership of American Classic Voyages Co. That company went out of business after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in the U.S. crippled the travel industry and economy. Cape May Light was eventually operated as Sea Voyager, but remained largely unused aside from a charter to the US government to house aid workers after the 2010 Haiti earthquake.

“We are extremely proud to unveil our first ocean going vessel and have already sold 50 percent of the 2015 departures,” said Tom Markwell, managing partner of sales and marketing, in a press release.

Saint Laurent’s itineraries in the Northern Atlantic includes coastal New England and the Canadian Maritimes and will pass through the waterways of the Bay of Fundy, the St. Lawrence Seaway, Georgian Bay and the Five Great Lakes. The new itineraries include: 10-day, “Canada’s Atlantic Coast and the St. Lawrence Seaway”; 10-day, “The Five Great Lakes – A Freshwater Paradise” and 10-day, “Georgian Bay and The Five Great Lakes.” In addition, the 13-day, “Historic Coastal America” traverses the entire Atlantic Seaboard and will feature many famous and historic US ports along the way.

Haimark Line is a sister company to the Denver, Colo.-based luxury river expedition and destination management company, Haimark Ltd., as well as Haimark Travel, which operates cruises worldwide, including to Southeast Asia, the Peruvian Amazon and other areas.

For additional information, contact Haimark Line at 1-855-HAIMARK Haimark Line


St. Lawrence River: 334 spills in 10 years

1/20 - Montreal, QC – The 28,000 litres of diesel that spewed into the St. Lawrence River last week — and led to a municipal drinking water advisory in Longueuil, Que. — is just the latest in a long list of oil spills into the river.

There were 334 spills involving ships in the St. Lawrence River between February 2002 and November 2012, according to federal documents obtained by Radio-Canada.

The documents also show the limits of the system used by the federal and provincial governments to track the extent of spills and their potential environmental impacts.

Most of the cases involved diesel, but the documents indicate fuel oil, heavy oil and lubricating oil also leaked into the river.

The amounts varied: Half of the spills were for an amount less than 10 litres. One-quarter were for between 10,000 and 50,000 litres. One-quarter were of an "unknown quantity."

A capsized tug near Trois-Rivières, for example, leaked an unknown amount of diesel into the water in December 2014. Neither the provincial nor federal governments could say how much of the 22,000 litres of diesel on the ship went into the water.

Michel Plamondon, a spokesman for the Canadian Coast Guard, said "10,000 litres of pure hydrocarbons were recovered," but said it's impossible to know how much additional oil leaked into the water.

That's a major problem according to Steven Guilbeault, the co-founder and senior director of the environmental group Équiterre.

"We have no information, so is it tens of thousands of litres that end up in the Saint Lawrence River and all of a sudden we’re wondering why beluga whales are doing so bad and the species is declining? We should know. We should have better information," Guilbeault said, adding that much of the onus falls on the companies to report the extent of spills.

The numbers detailed in the documents don't include spills stemming from a source other than a ship, such as the generator leak at the water filtration plant in Longueuil.

Transport Canada said it could not comment on the numbers Radio-Canada obtained, but a spokeswoman told CBC News that reporting spills is a complex process. She said there are many factors that can influence how a spill is reported — such as where the ship is located when it begins to leak — which in turn can affect which government body is responsible for the cleanup.



Lookback #429 – Fides wrecked in the Elbe Estuary on Jan. 20, 1962

The Liberty ship Fides was a Great Lakes trader making one trip through the Seaway in 1961. It lasted less than a year after appearing on the inland seas.

Fides had been built as James A. Wilder and launched at Los Angeles, CA on Jan. 14, 1944. The 441-foot, 6-inch-long cargo carrier was completed before the month was out and soon hauling war-time cargoes for the United States Maritime Commission. In May 1947, the vessel was sold to the Italian Government and renamed Fides. It was resold to private interests in 1948 and put in 14 years of trading before being wrecked.

On Jan. 20, 1962, 53 years ago today, the vessel ran aground at Grosser Vogelsand, a sand bank in the Elbe Estuary, while on a voyage from Corpus Christi, Texas, to Gdynia, Poland, with a load of iron ore. Before any salvage could be completed, the hull broke in two and became a total loss.

Skip 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

Duluth, Minn. – Daniel Lindner
On Sunday evening, Mesabi Miner passed the Apostle Islands on her way to Duluth and was due to arrive for winter layup at Midwest Energy early Monday. John G. Munson finished unloading her cargo of coal at Essar Steel in Sault Ste. Marie on Sunday morning and headed upbound for Duluth to lay up at Fraser Shipyards. So far, American Integrity is at Port Terminal Berth 6, Kaye E. Barker is at Fraser Shipyards, and Indiana Harbor is at the Enbridge dock in Superior for the winter.

Sturgeon Bay, Wis. – Daniel Lindner
Paul R. Tregurtha and Buffalo arrived in Sturgeon Bay on Sunday morning for winter lay-up. The two arrivals brought the total number of ships laid up in port so far to seven. The list includes CSL Laurentien, CSL Assiniboine, Algolake, Hon. James L. Oberstar, Edgar B. Speer, Buffalo, and Paul R. Tregurtha.

Milwaukee, Wis. – Denny Dushane
The 1,000-footer Burns Harbor arrived for winter lay-up just before noon on Sunday. The Stewart J. Cort is expected to arrive for layup in the Port of Milwaukee on Monday. Burns Harbor and the Cort will join the tug G.L. Ostrander and barge Integrity along with the tug Samuel de Champlain and barge Innovation. Both tugs and barges arrived the past week.

Alpena, Mich. – Ben & Chanda McClain
On January 9 the tug G.L Ostrander and barge Integrity departed Alpena after loading at Lafarge. The pair was going to Milwaukee, Wis. The tug Samuel de Champlain and barge Innovation arrived on the morning of January 10 to load at Lafarge and departed the next day also heading for Milwaukee. The tugboat Manitou has remained at Lafarge to assist vessels if needed. On Monday January 12, the Alpena came in and tied up at the dock. It had to wait for product most of the week and didn't depart until Friday afternoon for Detroit, MI. Late Saturday night the Manitowoc arrived at Lafarge to unload and left Sunday morning along with the tugboat Manitou. Both vessels are headed to Lake Michigan ports.


Icebreaking ops ahead at Manistee

1/19 - Manistee, Mich. – The U.S. Coast Guard will conduct icebreaking operations in Manistee Jan. 21-22 in support of domestic shipping operations.

The UCGC Mackinaw will establish a track through the ice in advance of the Manitowoc’s transit of Lake Manistee to delivery coal to the Morton Terminal on the upper west side of Lake Manistee. The tug Manitou will assist the Manitowoc with their movements into and out of the Lake Manistee.


Frozen In #19 – Ice strengthened Kiisla carried chemicals during the winters of 1985-1993

The Finnish tanker Kiisla was deliberately left on the Great Lakes for winter service. The ship first entered the Seaway in December 1985 and worked on charter to Sun Oil to carry a variety of chemicals, solvents and industrial alcohols between Sarnia and Chicago.

The ship also made two trips to Sault Ste. Marie in February 1986 and also visited Cleveland and Toledo. When the Welland Canal opened on April 3, 1986, Kiisla was the first down bound traveler through the waterway.

Kiisla returned inland in subsequent winters through 1993. Most of the work was without incident, although icebreaker assistance was needed from time to time. However, on Dec. 29, 1989, the ship went aground outside of Buffalo and received a gash in the outer hull but there was no leaking of any of the chemicals on board.

The ship left the Great Lakes in June 1993 although it did return as b) Kasla in 1998. The vessel spent recent years under the flag of Russia with Vladivostok as home port.

As of Oct. 30, 2014, Kasla was anchored in the Bay of Bengal off Chittagong, Bangladesh, having arrived from Busan, South Korea. Yesterday morning, the former lakes visitor was listed as "decommissioned or lost" and I suspect it has been beached at Chittagong and is being broken up for scrap.

Skip Gillham


Lookback #428 – Third Mapleglen launched as Federal Maas on Jan. 19, 1981

It was 34 years ago today that the first Federal Maas was launched at Hoboken, Belgium. The ship was initially registered in Belgium and arrived on the Great Lakes that spring with a variety of goods including steel, aluminum, coffee, brandies, herbs and bicycle rims.

The 730-foot-long saltwater vessel was operated by Federal Commerce & Navigation, now Fednav, and was a regular Seaway saltie. While steel and grain were the most common cargoes, the ship arrived at Montreal from Germany on June 17, 1992, with a Swedish steam locomotive for use on the route between Ottawa and Wakefield, Que.

The ship was sold and re-registered in the Marshall Islands as b) Lake Michigan in 1995 but remained active on charter to Fednav. It continued regular Great Lakes service with pig iron, granite, low sulfur coal, sugar, flax, potash coke, sunflower seeds as well as the usual steel and wheat.

Lake Michigan made 42 trips into the Great Lakes before it was sold to Canada Steamship Lines and registered in Montreal, on their behalf, on Oct. 22, 2008. It was renamed c) Mapleglen (iii) for the 2009 season.

Mapleglen now concentrates its work on the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence hauling iron ore and grain. It made its first trip back through the Seaway on Sept. 24, 2009, heading for Hamilton. The ship remained active in Great Lakes service in 2014 and is tied up at Montreal for the winter.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  January 19

News Photo Gallery
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.


Defiance/Ashtabula close Soo Locks season Saturday morning

1/18 - The final cargo vessel to pass through the locks was the tug/barge Defiance/Ashtabula enroute to Toledo, Ohio with a load of taconite. The pair cleared the Poe Lock at 7:23 Saturday morning, then tied up at the east center pier waiting for cutters to get the vessels that locked down ahead of her on Friday moving. Saturday afternoon, Katmai Bay was working with American Century above Six Mile Point. Saginaw and James L. Kuber were stopped above their position. Presque Isle was stopped at Nine Mile.


Port Reports -  January 18

Duluth, Minn. – Denny Dushane
The 1,000-footer Indiana Harbor was expected for winter lay-up on Saturday at the Enbridge Dock. American Integrity and Kaye E. Barker have already arrived, the Integrity on January 7 for the Port Terminal Berth 6 and the Barker on January 12 for Fraser Shipyards. John G. Munson is due at Fraser sometime on January 18. Due on January 19 in the morning will be Mesabi Miner to lay up at the Midwest Energy Coal Terminal in Superior. This will bring a total of five lakers to lay-up in the Twin Ports. The 1,000-footer Edwin H. Gott had been expected to lay-up in Duluth at the Port Terminal Berth 1, however they were delayed due to ice conditions in the St. Clair River and could not unload their cargo in Detroit and return to Duluth before the Soo Locks closed for the winter. The five vessels are the fewest in terms of vessel totals in many seasons for the Twin Ports. Mesabi Miner's arrival on Monday will be the last inbound vessel to arrive in the Twin Ports for the winter and the 2014/15 shipping season.

Sturgeon Bay, Wis. - Daniel Lindner
After being stuck in heavy ice between the Highway Bridge and Oregon Street Bridge for over four hours, the Edgar B. Speer docked at a slip at the shipyard late Friday night. Both Paul R. Tregurtha and Buffalo were west of the Mackinaw Bridge on Saturday night, headed for Sturgeon Bay for winter lay-up.

Toledo, Ohio – Denny Dushane
The revised schedule for the Torco Dock now lists the 1,000-footer James R. Barker arriving on Monday in the early evening to unload iron ore pellets at Torco. They will be followed by the tug Defiance / barge Ashtabula. Calumet is due at Torco on Tuesday in the early evening. Expected to arrive on Wednesday will be the tug Victory / barge James L. Kuber in the early evening. The list of vessels wintering in Toledo includes Algorail for its five-year coast guard survey and inspection at the Ironhead Shipyard, American Spirit at the CSX #2 Dock, Manistee and the tug Ken Boothe Sr. / barge Lakes Contender at the Midwest Terminal International Dock. Several other vessels have also arrived for lay-up, among them American Mariner, which arrived for lay-up on Thursday at the CSX #1 Dock. American Courage arrived late Friday evening to lay up at one of the CSX Docks. The tug Olive L. Moore / barge Lewis J. Kuber also arrived for lay-up. Expected in the next few days will be the H. Lee White.

Port Colborne, Ont.
Baie Comeau is laid up in Port Colborne just south of Lock 8 and above the Clarence Street Bridge No 21. She arrived Friday afternoon and is headed downbound. Thunder Bay arrived Thursday with a cargo of salt, could not enter the harbor and proceeded out into the lake overnight. It would appear USCG Hollyhock escorted both through the apparent ice jam with Baie Comeau leading and Thunder Bay backing in after to unload salt at wharf 18-3. Thunder Bay was gone by the morning Saturday.

Hamilton, Ont. – Ted Wilush
Mississagi is on the Heddle floating drydock receiving some attention to her propeller. Algoma Harvester has had the outwardly visible portions of her delivery strengthening supports removed; she is now looking identical to the Algoma Equinox.


Frozen In #18 – Federal Rhine spent the winter of 1986-1987 at Detroit

A lack of contracts rather that the need for repairs resulted in the first Federal Rhine spending the winter of 1986–1987 at Detroit. The ship proved a regular Seaway trader from its first visit in 1978 until its last in 1999.

The vessel had been built at Ulsan, South Korea, and launched on June 20, 1977. It served Federal Commerce and Navigation, now Fednav, until 1993 and often carried steel into the lakes before loading grain for overseas delivery.

In 1992, during the 350th Anniversary of the founding of Montreal, this vessel was featured on a 42-cent Canadian postage stamp.

The 730-foot-long bulk carrier was sold and renamed b) Steel Flower in 1993. The ship returned inland the next year, the first of about a dozen visits, and was carrying cosmetic talc from China for delivery to Ogdensburg, N.Y., on the initial occasion.

It became c) Narragansett in 1997 and resumed inland service, heading up the Seaway on May 30, 1997, with steel for Burns Harbor, Ind.

Narragansett made three trips through the Seaway in 1997 and was the last to pass downbound in the waterway on Dec. 26. It returned for two more visits in 1998 and 1999 before being sold for scrap. It entered the Seaway for the last time on Aug. 16, 1999, headed for Chicago.

Following a sale for scrap, Narragansett arrived at Alang, India, on Nov. 19, 1999, and was broken up.

Skip Gillham


Lookback #427 – John Rugee burned at Ogdensurg, N.Y., on Jan. 18, 1925

Fire was not a new enemy to the wooden bulk freighter John Rugee. The 1888-vintage steamer had been built at Milwaukee and was tied up for the winter at Ogdensburg, N.Y. when it caught fire on Dec. 9, 1890.

The blaze left damage to the engine room, after cabin and part of the winter storage cargo of corn. But come spring, the American vessel was rebuilt and returned to service.

John Rugee joined the George Hall Coal Co. in 1902 and caught fire for the second time, again at Ogdensburg, on April 12, 1910. This time the bill to repair the damage was in the range of $10,000.

It came to Canadian registry under the George Hall Coal & Shipping Co. in 1919 only to burn again 90 years ago today. Once again, the 223'6”-long vessel was tied up at Ogdensburg, N.Y. when the fire broke out. This time the ship was a total loss.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  January 18

News Photo Gallery
Lay-up list updated


Today in Great Lakes History -  January 18

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

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



Defiance/Ashtabula close Soo Locks season Saturday morning

1/17 - Update - The final cargo vessel to pass through the locks was the tug/barge Defiance/Ashtabula enroute to Toledo, Ohio with a load of taconite. It cleared the lock at 7:23 Saturday morning, then tied up at the east center pier waiting for cutters to get the vessels that locked down ahead of her on Friday moving. At 1 p.m. Saturday, Katmai Bay was working with American Century above Six Mile Point. Saginaw and James L. Kuber were stopped above that position. Presque Isle was stopped at Nine Mile.

Original report - After being extended for 24 hours to accommodate late traffic that had been delayed by ice, the Soo Locks were scheduled to close at 12:01 a.m. Saturday. But heavy ice at the locks made that deadline come and go.

At 10 p.m. Friday, the crew of the Corps tug Owen M. Frederick was called to head up through the Poe Lock to try and scrape some of the ice off the approach wall so the downbound American Century could make her way into the chamber.

As Friday faded into Saturday, American Century was still fighting the battle. to get into the Poe. Waiting to lock through after American Century were the Saginaw (bound for Cleveland from Essar Steel), James L. Kuber/Victory (headed for Escanaba from Essar) and the Ashtabula/Defiance. The latter pair may be the last passage of the season.

Meanwhile, CSL Tadoussac, headed for Thunder Bay, and John G. Munson were the last upbounders. The latter, bound for Essar Steel with coal, spent some time stuck below Mission Point and required the help of two Bay-class cutters to make it through. At 11 p.m., she was waiting near Point Louise for traffic to clear before entering the Canadian channel. When finished, the Munson will either head to Marquette to load, or to Duluth/Superior to lay up. The Purvis tugs Wilfred M. Cohen and Adanac III were working the ice track off Essar.

Mesabi Miner was also downbound on Lake Superior Friday, headed to Marquette with coal.


St. Clair River ice still causing bottleneck near Algonac

1/17 - The Canadian Coast Guard Ship Samuel Risley was leading the Buffalo through the ice Friday night. Kaministiqua, Frontenac, Philip R. Clarke, John B. Aird and St. Clair were all anchored at the lower end of Lake Huron waiting for permission to proceed downbound once conditions allow. Alpena was downbound off Harbor Beach Friday night with a destination of Detroit listed.


Port Reports -  January 17

Straits of Mackinac – Robert Bemben
On Thursday, the 140-foot CG icebreaker Mobile Bay was assisting four freighters that were beset in ice just southwest of St. Helena Island. They were the westbound Stewart J. Cort, James R. Barker, Calumet and Burns Harbor. Around 10:30 am, the Mobile Bay broke out the Calumet and directed it to a side track so that it could cut plate ice to give relief to the Burns Harbor, at the back of the pack, and lead it ahead. It was tough going in the windrows near White Shoal Light – which was a problem spot in winter 2013/2014 as well. It was impossible to form a convoy due to the strong wind conditions with up to 30 knot NW winds and shifting ice that closed up the track quickly. So the Mobile Bay focused on escorting the Burns Harbor first. By 1:30 pm, the Burns Harbor had made it just west of White Shoal Light. That's around nine nautical miles after three hours of work. Later on, the Mobile Bay also cleared the way to Lansing Shoal for the Cort, Barker and Calumet, which were southbound on Lake Michigan late Thursday night.

Suttons Bay, Mich. – Al Miller
With gale warnings posted for Lake Michigan, the tug Prentiss Brown and barge St. Mary's Conquest pulled into Suttons Bay on Friday evening. Tug and barge are bound for Milwaukee.

Sturgeon Bay, Wis. – Daniel Lindner
Edgar B. Speer arrived Sturgeon Bay for winter layup at 4 p.m. on Friday, making her the fifth ship laid up there so far. At least five more ships are expected to arrive within the next few days for the winter.


West Neebish Channel to close Monday

Following the closure of the Soo Locks, Director Vessel Traffic Service St Marys River will close the West Neebish Channel effective 8 a.m. on Monday, January 19. Alternating one-way traffic will be established in the Munuscong and Middle Neebish Channels. The Coast Guard would like to remind all recreational ice users to plan their activity carefully, use caution on the ice, and stay away from shipping channels.

Soo Evening News and USCG


Nearly 60,000 shipping jobs at stake in amendment to Keystone Bill

1/17 - Duluth, Minn. – The Great Lakes Maritime Task Force is standing strongly against an effort aiming to remove the U.S.-build requirement from the Jones Act.

The task force believes there is no reason to let foreign-built shipping vessels carry cargo between U.S. ports, and if they do, about 60,000 jobs in the Great Lakes would be at stake.

That amount of people could lose their jobs if the Keystone Pipeline Bill being offered by John McCain (R) Arizona is accepted.

While this amendment has nothing to do with the Keystone Pipeline, lawmakers are able to make amendments to unrelated bills under the open amendment rule.

Tom Curelli, Director of Operations for Fraser Ship Yard in Superior, says the amendment would open the door for foreign competition making the U.S shipping industry less profitable.

"When you open it up to foreign markets the probability of them having service done here is pretty slight. Therefore when we can't be as profitable and we can't reinvest in ourselves, we can't move forward," said Curelli.

The Lake Carriers' Association (LCA) believes the passage of the McCain amendment would send shock waves through the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard; the Navy League was one of the first organizations to stand against the amendment.

"It would be just a matter of time before someone proposed completely gutting our maritime cabotage laws. Do we really want to take the risk that terrorists could be among crew members on foreign-flag vessels moving cargo down the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland or the Saginaw River in Michigan?" the third Vice President of GLMTF said.

The first Vice President of GLMTF points out that the vessels built by Fraser Shipyards in the Great Lakes travel more than 600 miles on one gallon of fuel per ton of cargo. They add that a 1,000-ton cargo moved by a laker produces 90% less carbon dioxide compared to a truck, and 70% less than the same cargo moved by rail.

"The vessels built in Great Lakes shipyards are so efficient that year in, year out they save their customers billions of dollars in freight costs compared to the land-based transportation modes. What shortcoming, what failing can be found there?" International Longshoremen's Association's Great Lakes District Council President said.

LCA laid out the following shipyards they think will be affected by this: Sturgeon Bay, Superior and Marinette, Wisconsin; Erie, Pennsylvania; and Toledo, Ohio, and that smaller "top-side" repair operations are located in Cleveland, Ohio; Escanaba, Michigan; Buffalo, New York; and several cities in Michigan.

"There is no reason to even consider this amendment," the current president of GLMTF, John D. Baker, said.


Frozen In #17 – President Harrison rebuilt at Sturgeon Bay for U.S. Navy in 1983–84

1/17 - The general cargo and container carrier President Harrison was laid up at Norfolk, Va., when it was acquired by the U.S. Navy. The vessel was towed to the Great Lakes and passed up bound in the Welland Canal with the tugs Doris Moran, Minnie Selvick and John M. Selvick on April 23, 1983.

In the months ahead, the freighter was rebuilt as the crane ship Keystone State and returned to the sea, under its own power, passing down through the Welland Canal on April 27, 1984.

The ship had been built at San Diego, Calif., and completed for the American President Lines in January 1966. President Harrison was lengthened in 1973 but was laid up within ten years, sold to the navy and placed in the National Defense Reserve Fleet in the James River.

Keystone State ran aground near Annapolis, Md., on Jan. 6, 1986, en route to the Bethlehem shipyard at Sparrow's Point but was refloated the next day.

The ship was reported laid up in the James River Reserve Fleet about 1987, but in recent years has been tied at Alameda, Calif., under the Military Sealift Command and maintained on a five-day Readiness Status.

Skip Gillham


Lookback #426 – Ferbec renamed at Montreal on Jan. 17, 2005

1/17 - While the Canada Steamship Lines bulk carrier Ferbec spent 28 years sailing up and down the St. Lawrence, it never came to the Great Lakes. At 732 feet in overall length by 104 feet at the beam, the ship was far too wide for the locks of the St. Lawrence.

Ferbec had been built at Tokyo, Japan, in 1966 as Fugaku Maru and joined CSL in 1977. It was one of four sisterships and the Canadian service provided longevity, as the other three vessels were all broken up between 1985 and 1997.

Ferbec saw some saltwater service for CSL but spent the majority of its time operating from Havre St. Pierre and Sorel carrying at 52,000 tons of ilmenite ore per trip. It did venture south to Brazil in 1978 and operated between Baltimore, Maryland, and Antwerp, Belgium in the winter of 1979-1980.

It was 10 years ago today that Ferbec was renamed at Montreal. The ship had been sold, re-registered in Mongolia and became c) Michalakis on Jan. 17, 2005. It cleared Feb. 4 under its own power but was soon resold for scrap.

Michalakis arrived at Alang, India, on March 24, 2005, and was broken up.

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.


Milder weather in 2014 allows U.S.-flag cargo movement to surge at end of year

1/16 - Cleveland, Ohio – With the vast ice fields of December 2013 a distant but still troubling memory, U.S.-flag cargo movement on the Great Lakes this past December rebounded significantly. Shipments totaled 9.6 million tons, an increase of nearly 35 percent compared to a year ago. Every commodity – iron ore, coal, limestone, cement, salt, sand and grain, registered increases ranging from 10 to 209 percent.

“The increases recorded this past December dramatically illustrate just how badly the early onset of ice in December 2013 slowed Great Lakes shipping,” said James H.I. Weakley, President of Lake Carriers’ Association.

“This is why we have begun our effort to build another heavy icebreaker to partner with the U.S. Coast Guard’s Mackinaw. It would be foolhardy to imagine we won’t face daunting ice fields again. In fact, shipping has slowed considerably in January as a result of thick ice in Whitefish Bay, the upper St. Marys River, and more recently, the St. Clair River.”

For the year, U.S.-flag lakers carried 90.1 million tons of cargo, an increase of 1.1 percent over 2013. Iron ore cargos increased 4 percent to 46.5 million tons. Coal loadings dipped 2.6 percent and limestone shipments slipped 3 percent. Cement cargos rose by 3.7 percent. Salt’s 39-percent surge reflects that many communities exhausted their supplies battling the winter of 2013/2014. Sand cargos were essentially unchanged from 2013, but grain cargos decreased by 42 percent.

Weakley noted two factors helped the fleet carry slightly more cargo than in 2013: Higher water levels and the activation of three ships not scheduled to operate in 2014. Still, Weakley cautioned that neither option is guaranteed going forward.

“Water levels fluctuate. The next decline could start sooner than anyone expects. And there are no more idle vessels that can be put into service quickly. The vessels that did not sail in 2014 require varying amounts of work before being commissioned.

“The best guarantee that the delays of December 2013 remain a painful memory is twinning the Mackinaw and assigning another 140-foot-long icebreaking tug to the Lakes. We also urge Canada to reassess its icebreaking resources stationed on the Lakes.”

Lake Carriers’ Association


Lakes rise to defend U.S.-build requirement of Jones Act

1/16 - Toledo, Ohio – An effort to remove the U.S.-build requirement from the Jones Act is being soundly rejected by Great Lakes Maritime Task Force, the largest labor/management coalition ever assembled to promote shipping on America’s Fourth Sea Coast.

The Task Force sees no benefit to allowing foreign-built vessels to carry cargo between U.S. ports, but warns that nearly 60,000 jobs in the Great Lakes states will be sacrificed for no good reason if the amendment to the Keystone pipeline bill offered by Senator John McCain (R-Az.) is accepted.

“There is no reason to even consider this amendment,” said John D. Baker, President of GLMTF and President Emeritus of the ILA’s Great Lakes District Council “The vessels built in Great Lakes shipyards are so efficient that year in, year out they save their customers billions of dollars in freight costs compared to the land-based transportation modes. What shortcoming, what failing can be found there?”

Thomas Curelli, 1st Vice President of GLMTF and Director of Operations for Fraser Shipyards, noted that vessels built in Great Lakes shipyards are also environmental pacesetters.

“A Corps of Engineers study found that the ships we build here travel more than 600 miles on one gallon of fuel per ton of cargo. A train travels just 200 miles using the same measure, a truck, 59. A 1,000-ton cargo moved by a laker produces 90 percent less carbon dioxide compared to a truck, and 70 percent less than the same cargo moved by rail. Why would anyone subject an industry that produces such superior products to unfair competition from government-subsidized shipyards throughout the world? It’s not just about the new construction we’d be losing, it’s all the work related to keeping the vessels in service. Without construction, we cannot sustain this industry.

“Make no mistake about it, this is about keeping good-paying jobs in America,” said Brian D. Krus, 2nd Vice President of GLMTF and Senior National Assistant Vice President of American Maritime Officers. “Right now tens of thousands of men and women are busy building new vessels at Great Lakes shipyards. The large yards and smaller topside facilities around the Lakes have a payroll that tops $125 million. What gain is there from making shipbuilding another American industry that ‘used to be’?”

Jim Weakley, 3rd Vice President of GLMTF and President of Lake Carriers’ Association warned that eliminating the build requirement will open the doors to dismantling the U.S. crews and U.S. ownership requirements of the law.

“It would be just a matter of time before someone proposed completely gutting our maritime cabotage laws. Do we really want to take the risk that terrorists could be among crewmembers on foreign-flag vessels moving cargo down the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland or the Saginaw River in Michigan? Foreign ownership would mean the companies that operate these vessels would be flying the latest flag of convenience and be largely unregulated. America’s strict safety and operational requirements would not apply.”

Weakley also cautioned that this assault affects more than the shipyards. “If Jones Act ships suddenly could be built in China, it would destabilize and devalue all the current LCA ships on the Lakes. Millions, if not billions in assets, would be affected.”

The major shipyards on the Lakes are located in Sturgeon Bay, Superior and Marinette, Wisconsin; Erie, Pa; and Toledo, Ohio. Smaller topside repair operations are located in Cleveland, Ohio; Escanaba, Mich.; Buffalo, New York; and several cities in Michigan.

Passage of the McCain amendment would also send shockwaves through the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard. Loss of commercial work would swell the cost of building the vessels that defend America’s interests worldwide. The Navy League of the United States was among the first organizations to reject the amendment.

The Task Force has urged Great Lakes Senators to vote “No” when the amendment is offered, perhaps as early as next Tuesday. “The Lakes Jones Act fleet moved more than 90 million tons of cargo in 2014 and did it safely and efficiently,” said Baker.” “There is no reason to change the build requirement of the Jones Act. Domestic waterborne commerce has been well served by Great Lakes shipyards. There is nothing to be gained by removing the build requirement from the Jones Act.”

Lake Carriers’ Association


Report: Tests of ballast water treatment systems are flawed

1/16 - Traverse City, Mich. – Government-sanctioned tests of equipment designed to cleanse ship ballast water of invasive species are seriously flawed because they don’t determine whether the systems will remove microbes that cause gastrointestinal illnesses, scientists said Wednesday.

Ballast water provides stability for cargo ships in rough seas. But it’s believed to have introduced numerous invaders to U.S. coastal waters and the Great Lakes, including zebra mussels, spotted jellyfish and Japanese shore crabs, along with bacteria and viruses.

The Environmental Protection Agency and the Coast Guard have set limits on the number of live organisms ballast water can contain, based on standards proposed by an international agency in 2004. To comply, ship companies must install technology that kills enough creatures to meet the limits.

Laboratory testing of treatment systems has been conducted for 10 years. But a newly published paper in the Marine Pollution Bulletin contends the evaluations have a crucial defect: They don’t adequately measure the systems’ effectiveness against three disease-carrying microbes that the regulations target. One of them, E. coli, can indicate the presence of fecal sewage.

“This is a real problem,” said Andrew Cohen of the Center for Research on Aquatic Bioinvasions in Richmond, California, who wrote the paper with Fred Dobbs of Old Dominion University in Virginia. “We know there are serious pathogens in ballast water. There’s good evidence that ballast water has moved them around the world and into U.S. waters.”

The Coast Guard declined to comment and EPA had no immediate reaction to the report.

Some experts believe ballast water from Asia caused a 1991 cholera outbreak in South America that killed 10,000 people, Cohen said. According to the paper, at least 38 species of disease-causing bacteria have been detected in ballast tanks. Companies are developing on-board cleansing systems using tools such as filters, chemicals, ozone and ultraviolet light. University and private laboratories are testing how well they work. Fifty-three systems have won approval from at least one country with membership in the International Maritime Organization.

The U.S. Coast Guard and EPA have yet to certify any system but have allowed the temporary use of 45 endorsed by other nations.

Cohen and Dobbs said they obtained data from 390 tests conducted on 38 treatment systems between 2004 and 2013. They said in 95 percent of the tests, the water samples contained so few of the targeted microbes from the start that they met the standards even before the treatments began.

“The equipment being tested would have passed the microbe tests even if it hadn’t been turned on,” Cohen said. “You need to begin with at least enough microbes in the water so that if the system is turned off, the (sample) will fail.”

The process should be improved and all tests conducted thus far redone using water containing microbial levels “comparable to what ships would encounter in a bad situation out in the real world,” he said.

Allegra Cangelosi, principal investigator with one of the organizations conducting the testing, said the absence of high pathogen levels in water samples is well known and doesn’t invalidate the tests’ effectiveness. She said there’s no proof that treatment methods shown to kill aquatic plants, animals and other forms of bacteria are less lethal for disease-carrying bacteria.

“I don’t think this is as drastic a situation as (Cohen’s) rhetoric would cause you to believe,” said Cangelosi, of the Great Ships Initiative, which evaluates ballast treatment systems in the Great Lakes region.

Associated Press


Port Reports -  January 16

Marquette, Mich. – Rod Burdick
Tug and Barge Defiance and Ashtabula loaded ore at LS&I on Thursday. The visit was a first for the pair and possibly the last ore boat in Marquette for 2014-15. Dockworkers were unsure if another Essar load would head out during the weekend.

Escanaba, Mich.
Joseph L. Block finished loading Thursday and departed for southern Lake Michigan. Wilfred Sykes took her place at the dock for what is expected to be her last load of the season before winter layup.

St. Clair River – Jim Hoffman
The St. Clair, Roger Blough and John B. Aird were approaching the southern end of Lake Huron Thursday evening and will be going to anchor. That would make for a total of 11 boats anchored, with more on the way, as ice is cleared from the lower St. Clair River near Algonac. The icebreakers Griffon, Samuel Risley and Bristol Bay were assisting the Barbara Andrie and her barge upbound in the St. Clair River just above Algonac Thursday, making very slow progress during the entire day. There are also several upbound vessels waiting at Detroit to travel up the St. Clair River.


Great Lakes Captains Association meets in Traverse City

1/16 - Traverse City, Mich. – The onset of winter means shipping season on the Great Lakes is nearly over. Ship captains from across the region met Thursday in Traverse City to discuss the season's highs and lows.

The Great Lakes Captains Association talked about technology, training and – not surprisingly – ice. The hot topic this year: the damage done by last year's deep freeze. The numbers are in--the economy saw more than 700 million dollars in losses.

Shippers say they're still trying to catch up. Bob Schallip has captained commercial boats on the great lakes for 24 years. There aren't too many things out there that surprise him. Last winter proved to be an exception.

“If you were a shipper, if you were a receiver, it was a terribly bad season,” said Schallip, an association board member who also captains the Soo Locks tour boat Holiday. “It impacted everybody.”

Ships, big and small, battled the ice and lost.

“There are a lot of deliveries that did not get made,” related Schallip. “The ice around the boats in early May was over four feet thick.”

“It was just unprecedented,” said Captain Mark Mather, Pere Marquette Shipping's assistant operations manager and association board member. “We have never seen anything quite like last year.”

Captaining a ship on the Great Lakes, you're used to hauling important cargo – that's why last year's delays put things so off course. “The railroads and the trucking industry can't begin to haul the amount that was required,” asserted Schallip.

“The power plant in Marquette… they were at a critical level,” shared Mather. “The furnaces were running out of ore. It was mission critical.”

The deep freeze cost hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenue and eliminated thousands of jobs. But last winter's loss was this season's gain – a blessing in disguise in the form of higher water levels once the ice thawed.

“The water rose very quickly, much quicker than anybody expected,” said Schallip. “They can … carry way more per shipload.”

Shipping companies tell us they're still struggling to make up for the hit – and now, everyone's just hoping that history doesn't repeat itself.

“Already this year, we're seeing another fairly decent winter…,” said Mather, fearing the worst. “We'll be looking to get out as soon as possible in the spring, otherwise it will have a domino effect.”



LMC prepares to install ash conveyor on SS Badger in preparation for 2015 season

1/16 - Ludington, Mich. – Like a Christmas gift that arrives with some assembly required, Senior Chief Engineer Chuck Cart and the crew at Lake Michigan Carferry have on hand the new conveyor system to transport ash from the SS Badger's boiler to retention units that will be built on the car deck of the 410-foot Badger, but the system needs to be assembled.

The good news, according to Cart, who has been chief engineer of the Badger for 19 years, is that the conveyor will be in place in time for the start of sailing May 15 and it will allow the Badger to operate in compliance with the EPA's mandate to stop discharging coal ash before sailing this year. The mandate is part of the terms of a U.S. Department of Justice-approved consent decree between LMC and the Environmental Protection Agency concerning what is the last coal-fired steamship operating in the U.S.

This week, installation begins in earnest on the conveyor system designed for the Badger and built by Hapman Conveyors out of Kalamazoo. On Monday, pallets of blue, 7-inch pipe and components for the chain and disc system were arranged along the perimeter of the port side and the bow on the car deck awaiting installation.

Once in operation, the conveyor system will move ash from the boiler room to the car deck 180 feet away. There, ash will be stored in four containment bins.

Installation of the three-part system is expected to take six weeks. It involves separate collection loop conveyors for the bow and aft boiler systems. They will feed into a collection conveyor, moving the ash from the boiler room up to the car deck and to the containment bins.

The dry ash system, Cart said, will be enclosed, controlled for dust, and it will meet national fire safety standards.

Previously, ash was transported from the boiler to an onboard retention area, mixed with Lake Michigan water and discharged in a slurry into the lake, according to Environmental Protection Agency guidelines. That practice is now history and the ash will be retained on board and removed while in dock in Ludington. LMC estimates a day's sailing may fill one and a portion of another ash containment unit.

LMC plans to market the ash for use in cement-making, Chuck Leonard, vice president in charge of navigation, said. Any storage at the dock would be of ash in the enclosed bins. None is to be piled on the ground, Leonard and Cart said.

"Mr. Manglitz made it clear, only our feet are to be on the ground," Cart said, not ash or anything else, of a directive from LMC President and CEO Bob Manglitz

Together with the improved combustion system added last winter, the projects represent about a $2.2 million to $2.4 million investment by LMC in the Badger over the past two years, Leonard said.

The combustion system met required reductions in coal used and coal ash discharged into Lake Michigan during the 2014 season, Leonard said.

According to Leonard, the Badger used 15 percent less coal during the 2014 sailing season than in the 2013 season.

It produced 18 percent less ash in 2014 than in 2013. Over the 2013 and 2014 season, the Badger's ash was reduced by 40 percent from 2012. "We're very pleased by that," Leonard said.

A change in the type of coal used and changes in how the Badger operates also factored into those reductions, Leonard said.

The new combustion controls system operation was fine-tuned throughout the 2014 sailing season. Steady adjustments depending on conditions and other variable factors likely, the parameters for how the new combustion system operates were worked out during the 2014 season, he said.

Cart is philosophical about the change to store and remove ash, calling it the latest evolution among many that the more than 60-year-old carferry has gone through since it was first launched in Sturgeon Bay, Wis., in 1953.

The Badger, he said, was built to the standards of its day - standards that once allowed trash and sewage of all lake vessels to be jettisoned overboard. As those standards have changed, the Badger has been modified to meet the new standards. The latest change required the coal ash discharge to end.

As the legislation has changed, the ship has been modified to meet the standards of the day. "We weren't doing anything wrong," Cart said, "just meeting the standards."

"We will operate the vessel in compliance in 2015," Leonard added.

Ludington Daily News


Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor had best year in its 44-year history

1/16 - Portage, Ind. – Nearly 30 massive beer fermentation tanks, each with a capacity of more than 20,000 gallons, voyaged from Germany to the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor, where they were loaded on trucks and shipped to the new Lagunitas Brewing Co. brewery in Chicago last year.

The major shipment to one of the largest craft breweries in the United States was one of many last year at the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor, which just had the best year in its 44-year history and was so busy stevedores had to work longer hours, even on weekends.

Portage's deepwater port on Lake Michigan handled more tonnage last year than at any point since it first opened in 1970. The previous record had been set in 1994, when more than 3 million tons passed through. The total cargo in 2014 exceeded the previous record by 3 percent, spokesman Rich Allen said.

The Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor’s 2014 total cargo tonnage exceeded 1994, the port’s highest year on record, by about three percent.

"It was a terrific year thanks to our port companies, steelmakers and businesses that use our port," said Rich Cooper, CEO for the Ports of Indiana. "Federal Marine Terminals, the port's terminal operator, and its labor force did a tremendous job handling the significant cargo increases that arrived at the port by ship and barge. They extended their work hours and even worked weekends on a number of occasions to meet customer expectations."

Shipments rose by more than 30 percent over 2013 as more steel, salt and grain came through the port. About 35 percent more ocean vessels docked at the port than did in 2013, and barges coming in from the Illinois and Mississippi rivers were up 25 percent. Those river systems give the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor access to 20 states and year-round access to international markets, since ocean vessels can come up through the Gulf of Mexico when the ice-choked St. Lawrence Seaway is closed during the winter.

Imports of steel were up by 37 percent last year, after domestic steelmakers tried to raise prices for the first time in years and a number of customers opted instead to buy foreign steel, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. Steel exports were down 6 percent through the end of November. Steel made up about 40 percent of the port's total cargo last year.

"Steel going into the manufacturing sector was a key driver for the increase in port shipments," said Port Director Rick Heimann. "In 2013, the port handled its highest steel volume since 2006 and 2014's steel tonnage more than doubled the previous year's total. The port also handled over 500 barges in 2014 for the first time in several years."

Last year, NLMK invested $8 million to grow its steel mini-mill at the port, while Carmeuse Lime and Stone pumped $11 million into a facility at the port that processes limestone for Northwest Indiana's steel industry.

"The Ports of Indiana, Portage are critical to the entire Midwest's transportation infrastructure," Portage Mayor James Snyder said. "We are grateful for their success this year and believe they will continue to grow and Portage will provide them and their tenants with continued first class public safety, the best local economic development team and critical utility infrastructure."

The Indianapolis-based Ports of Indiana, which operates the Lake Michigan port and two ports on the Ohio River in southern Indiana, has invested $20 million on infrastructure over the last four years, according to a recently released survey by the U.S. Canadian Great Lakes maritime industry.

In 2013, the ports system invested more than $5.9 million in infrastructure projects, including a reconstruction of the main railroad line at the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor. About 1,900 feet of sanitary sewer pipe also was replaced, the harbor was dredged, and roads were paved. Dock walls were repaired, mooring bollards were rehabilitated, and security cameras were installed.

A total of $7 billion is being spent on infrastructure improvements at all the ports on the Great Lakes, the survey found. An estimated $4.7 billion had been invested by both the public and private sectors in ships, ports, terminals and waterway infrastructure between 2009 and 2013.

"The survey results quantify what the Great Lakes maritime industry has long suspected — that businesses are bullish on the future of the region's economy," said Steve Fisher, executive director of the American Great Lakes Ports Association. "Hundreds of individual companies have independently made the same decision — to risk capital and reinvest in the Great Lakes maritime industry. The monies being spent reflect a commitment to the health and safety of the workforce as well as the environment. New technology and equipment will ensure that cargo moves efficiently, sustainably, and safely."

NW Indiana Times


Frozen In #16 – Samaru spent several winters on the Great Lakes from 1979 to 1988

The general cargo freighter Samaru came to the Great Lakes in 1979 for planned service in the newsprint trade. The Panamanian-registered freighter spent considerable time inland but not much of this was in service.

At various times the vessel was tied up at Collingwood, Lambton and Port Dover, occasionally under arrest and often for sale.

It was sold and refitted for the Caribbean under the flag of Singapore and renamed c) Sa-Maru in 1988. It passed down the Welland Canal on Aug. 1, 1988, but tied below Lock 1 to await a new compressor before finally departing on Aug. 20. After loading powdered milk at Montreal, the ship sailed to Nicaragua.

Renamed d) Trinity I, the ship spent the winter of 1989 – 1990 idle on the Miami River. It was sold and renamed e) St. Pierre in 1990, f) Betty Express in 1992 and g) Captain Admiral in 1993. The vessel was deleted from Lloyd's Register in 2002.

Originally known as a) Pluto, the ship had been built in West Germany in 1957 and sailed on saltwater routes becoming Samaru in 1976.

Skip Gillham


Lookback #425 – Palm Bay caught fire at Portsmouth, ON, on Jan. 16, 1926

Fire ended the career of a number of wooden ships. Among the many casualties over the years was the Palm Bay. It was damaged in a blaze at Portsmouth, Ont., west of Kingston, on Jan. 16, 1926.

This wooden-hulled bulk steamer had been built at Milwaukee, WI in 1891 and operated as Pueblo from Lake Michigan ports to Oswego and Ogdensburg. The 236- foot-long vessel was registered at 1349 gross tons.

Pueblo was sold to Canada Cement Transport Ltd. and shortened at Montreal in 1913. It joined the Canada Import Co. as Richard W. in 1916 and had moved to Bay Line Navigation during the winter of 1922-1923.

The latter applied the name Palm Bay and the ship worked on their behalf until the fateful fire of 89 years ago today.

The damaged freighter was not repaired but it did not go anywhere right away. Finally, in 1937, the hull was towed out into Lake Ontario and scuttled.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  January 16

News Photo Gallery (updated)


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.


Ice fight continues around the Great Lakes as season slows

1/15 - At the Soo, St. Clair, Roger Blough and Paul R. Tregurtha were on the move above the Rock Cut Wednesday night, followed by Cason J. Callaway and Arthur M. Anderson. At 11 p.m., Stewart J. Cort was in the locks. The downbound John B. Aird, Michipicoten and Walter J. McCarthy Jr. were downbound above Point Louise. Kaministiqua and Michipicoten were downbound above Ile Parisienne, while Philip R. Clarke and Algosteel were off the Keweenaw Peninsula. Joyce L. VanEnkevort / Great Lakes Trader were downbound on the western end of the lake.

Below Algonac, the Canadian Coast Guard Ships Griffon and Samuel Risley were working to get John G. Munson, CSL Tadoussac and Saginaw through the ice late Wednesday. Capt. Henry Jackman, Great Republic and Edwin H. Gott were anchored at the lower end of Lake Huron waiting to be allowed to proceed down. The upbound convoy that had left Detroit was near Marine City with the Everlast and Barbara Andrie falling behind in the lower river and eventually becoming stuck, the Risley may be in for a long night assisting the tugs and barges.

In Lake Erie, the convoy had made it through the toughest ice by 10 p.m. and was continuing eastbound. American Courage and Sam Laud were heading to Cleveland while the Thunder Bay, H. Lee White, Rt. Hon Paul J. Martin and Baie Comeau continued east at mid lake. American Mariner, on her way to Toledo for winter lay-up, remained stopped near Point Pelee Wednesday night. She is waiting to pass westbound near where the Neah Bay stopped for the night. USCG Hollyhock was stopped off Colchester and the CSL Niagara was a few miles east heading for Nanticoke unescorted in the tracks left by the convoy.


McCain uses Keystone Pipeline bill to continue his quest to repeal Jones Act

1/15 - Senator John McCain (R-Az.) has again launched an attack on the Jones Act, announcing Tuesday that he has filed an amendment to a bill to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline that would repeal the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, aka the Jones Act, requiring that all goods shipped between ports of the United States be carried by vessels built in the United States and owned and operated by Americans.

“I have long advocated for a full repeal of The Jones Act, an antiquated law that has for too long hindered free trade, made U.S. industry less competitive and raised prices for American consumers,” said Senator John McCain in a press release issued Tuesday. “The amendment I am introducing again today would eliminate this unnecessary, protectionist restriction.

Legislation approving the construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline cleared an initial Senate hurdle on Monday by a vote of 63-32, a measure that opens the bill up for debate and the offering of amendments, such as the one introduced by McCain, to the bill.

“[Monday] evening’s vote means it will now advance to the floor for open debate and every member will have an opportunity to offer amendments they believe will strengthen the bill,” said Senator John Hoeven, a North Dakota Republican and co-sponsor of the Keystone bill, reports Reuters.

Responding to Senator McCain’s new attack, the American Maritime Partnership, representing the voice of the U.S. domestic maritime, has issued the following statement obviously opposing McCain’s latest actions:

“The McCain amendment would gut the nation’s shipbuilding capacity, outsource our U.S. Naval shipbuilding to foreign builders, and cost hundreds of thousands of family-wage jobs across this country,” said AMP Chairman Tom Allegretti.

“The shipbuilding requirement, which Senator McCain seeks to eliminate, is in place to ensure that the United States maintains the industrial capacity to build its own ships, so as to protect and defend the American homeland. It is hard to believe that the Congress would endorse a change to the law that would outsource U.S. jobs and reduce national security by effectively creating dependence on foreign countries to build our ships.”

A primary purpose of the Jones Act is to promote national and homeland security. The Navy’s position is clear – repeal of the Jones Act would “hamper [America’s] ability to meet strategic sealift requirements and Navy shipbuilding.” Similarly, just a month ago, Congress enacted legislation reaffirming the Jones Act and calling a strong commercial shipbuilding industry “particularly important as Federal budget cuts may reduce the number of new constructed military vessels.” The independent Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, said America’s military power is dependent on a strong “shipyard industrial base to support national defense needs.”

The McCain amendment would undermine and devalue tens of billions of dollars of investments in existing U.S. constructed vessels throughout the American domestic maritime industry. The Jones Act is the foundation of the American domestic maritime infrastructure—vessels, mariners, and shipyards—that is critical to military sealift. The same is true of homeland security, where American workers on American vessels work closely with local, state and federal agencies to perform a critical domestic protection function.

The American domestic maritime industry is investing record amounts in new ship construction in virtually every trade, a “tremendous renaissance,” according to Paul “Chip” Jaenichen, administrator of the U.S. Maritime Administration. American shipyards are building record numbers of modern, state-of-the-art vessels in all sectors with more on order.

The amendment is particularly troubling because shipyards are among the largest employers in many states, providing stable manufacturing jobs that pay far above the national average. A recent study by the U.S. Maritime Administration cited the “economic importance” of the American shipbuilding and repair industry, with annual employment of more than 400,000, annual labor income of about $24 billion, and annual gross domestic product of $36 billion.

In December, Senator John McCain vowed the eventual full repeal of the Jones Act despite tough opposition.

“It’s one of these things you just propose amendments to bills and encourage hearings and sooner or later the dam breaks,” McCain said after a speech at The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, in December.

“But I have to tell you … the power of this maritime lobby is as powerful as anybody or any organization I have run up against in my political career. All I can do is appeal to the patron saint of lost causes and keep pressing and pressing and sooner or later you have to succeed,” he said.

In addition to AMP’s strong statement opposing Senator McCain’s Jones Act amendment, there seems to be a rising chorus of voices stating their opposition to the measure.

“This amendment has no place in the Keystone bill or in Congress,” stated Seafarers International Union President Michael Sacco. “It is just another attack on the Jones Act, one that could cripple the U.S.-flag maritime industry. We need all hands on deck to defeat this amendment.”



Interlake to install gas scrubbers on Hon. James L. Oberstar

1/15 - U.S. shipowner Interlake Steamship will install exhaust gas scrubber systems on a bulk carrier it operates in the Great Lakes, scrubber manufacturer Belco Technologies said.

The vessel, Hon. James L. Oberstar, will this month have two scrubbers installed in Wisconsin, with testing to follow in April, Belco said Monday. Belco is a division of DuPont.

Emission Control Areas are 200-mile zones extending from US and other shores in which ships must use fuel with a maximum sulfur content of 0.1% from January 1, down from 1% previously, according to International Maritime Organization regulation.

However, vessels can apply for exemptions if they find alternative means of compliance, such as scrubbers, which strip sulfur out of emissions.

Interlake President Mark Barker said the scrubbers will allow it to comply with the sulfur requirements "while continuing to operate its vessels on heavy fuel oil," according to a statement.

Interlake Steamship is one of many companies exploring scrubber systems for ECA compliance. Last week, Horizon Lines said it will spend $18 million installing scrubbers on three ships that operate on a Washington-to-Alaska route.


Cliffs CEO: Let Essar sink or swim on its own

1/15 - Duluth, Minn. – Cliffs Natural Resources is shedding its Canadian operations, selling U.S. coal mines and looking to get out of iron mining in Australia.

What apparently will remain of the shrinking Cleveland-based company will be its Minnesota and Michigan taconite iron ore operations. And that’s exactly the way Lourenco Goncalves wants it.

Goncalves has been the chief executive officer of Cliffs just since August, but he’s already making headlines as he tries to shed debt as well as money-losing foreign operations to save the company’s U.S.-based taconite iron ore mines and processing plants.

“Cliffs will be a 100 percent U.S.-focused operation; Minnesota and Michigan,” Goncalves told the News Tribune in a telephone interview Tuesday. “That’s where the money is. That’s where we can be a profitable and sustainable business.”

On Monday night Goncalves met with Iron Range lawmakers and asked them not to provide an additional state subsidy to Essar Steel Minnesota, the fledgling taconite plant slowly being built in Nashwauk that Goncalves said threatens Cliffs’ operations because it will create a glut of taconite in the U.S.

Now, “pellet supply is in balance with demand,” Goncalves said, adding that any pellets produced by Essar will mean a reduction in pellets produced at Cliffs’ existing facilities.

Essar is asking Minnesota lawmakers to change the requirements of the 2007 legislation that saw the state give Essar $67 million to build a taconite mine and processing center and steel mill in Nashwauk. The 2007 legislation required that both the taconite operations and steel mill be operating by October 2015, or the state could recall the money.

After years of setbacks, however, Essar won’t have the taconite plant done until 2016 at the earliest. And the company now says a steel mill is unlikely ever to be built at the site. Unable to meet the October deadline, Essar wants legislation passed this year offering an extension to 2022 to meet the other requirements of the $67 million incentives package.

But Goncalves says the state should not continue to subsidize Essar over the Iron Range’s already operating taconite plants. Minnesota offered the incentives in 2007 based on Essar creating not just 7 million tons of new taconite supply, but also a steel mill that would consume all that new taconite.

“Now, all they are doing is adding supply that the industry doesn’t need,” Goncalves said. “It doesn’t do any good for the region. The (300 Essar jobs) that would be generated will be destroyed somewhere else. And the jobs that would be destroyed would be Cliffs jobs.”

Among Minnesota’s major taconite operations, Cliffs is the most vulnerable to an increase in supply because it must sell everything it produces on the open market. While U.S. Steel and ArcelorMittal produce ore for their own blast furnaces, Cliffs doesn’t make any steel on its own.

An Essar spokesman did not immediately return a request for comment. Essar Steel Minnesota is a subsidiary of Mumbai, India-based steel giant Essar Group, a $20 billion firm with about 70,000 employees worldwide.

Monday night’s meeting in St. Paul was the first time Iron Range lawmakers had met with Goncalves. But the Brazilian-born executive clearly impressed.

“He is very committed to the Mesabi (Iron Range). He’s very committed to their operations in the U.P. And he’s very concerned about an infusion of 7 million tons of pellets from Essar and what that might do to their Minnesota and Michigan facilities,” said state Rep Tom Anzelc, DFL-Balsam Township.

Anzelc said that at a time of massive oversupply of iron ore on the global market, the U.S market should not be expanding.

Several Iron Range lawmakers have said they face a quandary. On one hand, they feel they should support Essar and the potential of 300 new jobs, along with protecting the state’s $67 million investment and another $6 million the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board has invested in Essar.

On the other hand are the more-than-1,800 workers at Cliffs’ Northshore Mining, United Taconite and Hibbing Taconite operations in Minnesota.

Anzelc said he is leaning against supporting an extension for Essar, saying protecting the region’s nearly 4,000 existing taconite jobs is a safer bet that trying to promote 300 new jobs at Essar.

“I’m reaching the conclusion that it’s in the best interest of Minnesota if there is no new pellet production. It’s not needed, at least not for the next two years,” Anzelc said.

Duluth News Tribune


$7 billion makeover for Great Lakes-St. Lawrence system

1/15 - A new study released today reveals that $7 billion is being spent on asset renewal and infrastructure improvements in the bi-national Great Lakes-St. Lawrence shipping system.

The investment survey, compiled by maritime trade consultants, Martin Associates, tallies US$ 6.9 billion in capital spending on ships, ports and terminals and waterway infrastructure in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence waterway.

Of that total, $4.7 billion has been invested in the navigation system from 2009-2013 and another $2.2 billion is committed to improvements from 2014-2018. Two-thirds of the capital (67 percent) was invested by private companies with 33 percent coming from government funding.

Amongst the most significant investments, American, Canadian and international ship owners are spending $4 billion on the biggest renewal of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence fleets in 30 years. The U.S. and Canadian federal governments, through respectively the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation and The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation, have dedicated close to $1 billion to modernize the Seaway’s lock infrastructure and technology over the 10-year period — the Seaway’s most significant transformation in five decades. And Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River ports and terminals are also collectively investing more than $1.7 billion on expanding their docks, equipment, facilities and intermodal connections.

The bi-national Chamber of Marine Commerce, one of the trade associations that commissioned the survey, adds that the right regulatory climate has been key for the flurry of capital expenditures, citing New York State’s decision to not move ahead with unachievable standards for ballast water treatment systems, which would have effectively blocked marine ships from passing through the St. Lawrence Seaway, as a prime example.


Isle Royale Queen III to join Mackinac Island ferry fleet

1/15 - Mackinac Island, Mich. – Those who take annual pilgrimages to Mackinac Island will see a new ship in the straits this summer.

The Isle Royale Queen III, which previously sailed from Marquette, will join the Arnold Mackinac Island Ferry fleet.

The owner of the Queen III and the general manager of Arnold Transit are saying the 81–foot steel–hulled ship will offer more sophisticated options to current services. With heated cabins, an interior bar and other amenities, the Queen III will offer better flexibility for those who want to charter private events.

The Isle Royale Queen III was commissioned in the 1950s to ferry passengers from Copper Harbor to Isle Royale.

It’s been operated as a passenger ship by Pure Michigan Boat Cruises LLC for Marquette harbor cruises for the past three years.

The journey of the Isle Royale Queen III began when the T.D. Vinette Boat Company in Escanaba, Michigan was commissioned in the 1950s to build a ferry that would carry passengers across Lake Superior to Isle Royale National Park. The IRQ III serviced Isle Royale National Park for over 45 years sailing out of Copper Harbor in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

Arnold Transit Co. General Manager Veronica Dobrowolski said the company is continuing to survey its fleet and assess the economics and logistics of adding other vessels such as a catamaran and additional service boats back into the fleet.

"We appreciate the tremendous amount of support this past season as we worked through some financial difficulties. Times have changed,” said Dobrowolski “and we will continue to look at improving our services and meeting the demands of the public commensurate with the history of the Arnold Line, all at affordable prices.", Arnold Line


Frozen In #15 – Archangelos spent the winter of 1979 – 1980 at Port Weller after grounding

The Greek flag freighter Archangelos ended up spending the winter of 1979 – 1980 tied up below Lock 1 of the Welland Canal. It had been trying to leave the Seaway with a late season cargo of scrap steel when it went aground in the St. Lawrence on Dec. 16, 1979.

By the time Archangelos was lightered and refloated on Dec. 21, the last ship of the season, had passed through the Seaway system. As a result, the 15,929 gross ton freighter headed back to the Welland Canal to tie up. It resumed the voyage to the sea in March 1980.

Archangelos had been built at Split, Yugoslavia, and completed in May 1963. The name was changed to b) Archangel the first year and then back to c) Archangelos in 1968. It began trading into the Great Lakes in 1972.

The vessel was sold and renamed d) Lenio CH in 1981, e) Rini in 1983 and f) Express in 1986. Following a sale for scrap, the ship arrived at New Mangalore, India, on Aug. 28, 1986 and was broken up by Nalhani Industries.

Skip Gillham


Lookback #424 – Former Maya Farber hit by an explosion and fire at sea on Jan. 15, 1990

The Seaway trading tanker Maya Farber was sailing as Raad Al-Bakry VIII when it was rocked by an explosion in one of the cargo tanks while at sea on Jan. 15, 1990.

The ship went to anchor 15-years ago today about 14 miles from Port Sudan, Sudan, while an effort was made to fight the fire. It was to no avail.

The ship subsequently broke in two and the after end sank. The bow section remained afloat and was sold to shipbreakers in India. It successfully made the tow to Alang for dismantling arriving on March 28, 1990.

This tanker dated from 1960 having been built as Lysefjell for Olsen and Ugelstad. The 577 foot, 11 inch long vessel was sailing under a third name of Maya Farber when it came through the Seaway for the first time in 1981 under Panamanian registry. It was sold again in 1983 and had sailed as Raad Al-Bakry VIII until the fateful explosion and fire of Jan. 15, 1990.

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.


Traffic clears St. Clair, stops on Lake Erie

1/14 - 4:45 p.m. update
Slow day for icebreaking The Canadian Coast Guard Ship Samuel Risley reached Belle Isle about 4:45 p.m. escorting the CSL Niagara and Karen Andrie with barge. Once the two vessel reach Belle Isle the Risley will turn and escort a waiting upbound convoy including: John. G. Munson, CSL Tadoussac, Saginaw, tug Barbara Andrie and tug Everlast and barge.

It has been slow going on Lake Erie. The USCG Hollyhock spent the day breaking a track between Colchester and Pelee Passage. About 2:30 p.m. the Hollyhock returned to where the American Courage was waiting near Colchester and took up close escort. After a few miles the Courage became stuck and the Hollyhock continued on to break a track to Pelee while handing off escort to the downbound USCG Neah Bay who was arriving on scene about 4:45.

Still waiting in the ice a few miles west are the H. Lee White, Thunder Bay, Rt. Hon Paul J. Martin and Baie Comeau.

Original report - The Rt. Hon Paul J. Martin and Baie Comeau were escorted through the lower St. Clair River Tuesday evening entering Lake St. Clair about 9 p.m. The Samuel Risley, Neah Bay and Bristol Bay stopped for the night in the area for a well-deserved rest, while the Griffon docked in Windsor.

The Traffic that cleared the St. Clair River is now stopped in the East Outer Channel in Lake Erie. Vessels waiting to get underway in the morning included the American Courage, USCG Hollyhock, H. Lee White, Thunder Bay, Sam Laud, Olive L. Moore and Algomarine.


Man suffers serious injuries in Port of Montreal fall

1/14 - Montreal, Que. – Specialized rescue teams were brought in to help a worker who fell 15 metres into the cargo bay of a ship docked at the Port of Montreal Tuesday evening.

The man, 28, was listed in stable condition in hospital as of 9 p.m. following the ordeal. He suffered serious injuries to his legs as well as head injuries in the fall. The accident occurred just before 6 p.m., and according to officials, firefighters were dispatched from firehouses 13, 27 and 47 to assist in the rescue.

The man had to be pulled out of the cargo bay using special equipment. The ship was docked near the Jacques Cartier Bridge at the time. The name of the injured man has not been released, nor was the identity of the vessel.

Montreal Gazette


Port Reports -  January 14

St. Marys River
Downbound traffic Tuesday as the shipping season dwindled down included Frontenac, Roger Blough, St. Clair and Paul R. Tregurtha. Ashtabula/Defiance were upbound. All had to deal with ice, and by mid-evening traffic had come to a halt, with the Frontenac and St. Clair tied up on the locks’ east piers. Blough, Tregurtha and Robert S. Pierson were stopped west of Light 26 for the night, while Cason J. Callaway was downbound below Ile Parisienne. Arthur M. Anderson was approaching Whitefish Point downbound at 10 p.m.

Sarnia, Ont. – Barry Hiscocks
Tanker Algoma Hansa left temporary lay up in Sarnia Tuesday and backed down the river to load at Imperial Oil.

Toledo, Ohio – Denny Dushane
The revised vessel lineup for the Torco Dock in Toledo lists the Calumet arriving on Saturday in the morning to unload an iron ore cargo. Manitowoc is due to arrive on Saturday in the late afternoon. The 1,000-footer James R. is expected to arrive at Torco on Sunday in the early afternoon. James L. Kuber is expected to arrive at Torco on Tuesday, January 20 in the early morning. There are now four vessels that have arrived for winter lay-up in Toledo and the list includes Algorail at the Ironhead Shipyard Drydock for its 5-year survey and inspection. Manistee is laid-up at the Midwest Terminal Overseas Dock. The tug Ken Boothe Sr. and barge Lakes Contender arrived in Toledo for winter lay-up on Monday at the same dock. American Spirit arrived on Tuesday morning at one of the CSX docks for winter lay-up. Also expected to arrive in the next few days will be the American Mariner. Algomarine was departing from Toledo in the morning on Tuesday after unloading a cargo from Thunder Bay. American Valor remains in long-term layup near the Lakefront Docks.


Are the Great Lakes’ water levels normal?

1/14 - Madison, Wis. – For the first time in about 25 years, the water level of the all the Great Lakes is above normal. Lakes Superior, Michigan and Huron are about 5 inches above the long-term average.

This ends a 15-year period where lake levels have been below historic averages.

Lakes Huron and Michigan were at record low levels in January 2013; that is a rapid rise in water level to be above normal two years later. Such a rapid increase has not been measured since observations began in the mid-1800s. The water levels of the Great Lakes are determined by the amount of water flowing in and out of the lakes.

Precipitation, runoff, and water from streams and groundwater supply water to the lakes, while evaporation and water flowing out of the Great Lakes system are water losses. When the input exceeds the output, the levels rise.

The water cycle of the lakes is complex, and weather has played a role in this turnaround in lake levels. Above-average precipitation and above average runoff in the Great Lakes watershed, particularly in the springs of 2013 and 2014, helped to restore lake levels.

The frigid winter of 2013-2014 also helped by reducing evaporation. Ice on the lake and cold waters reduce evaporation, which also reduces snowfall in the snow-belt regions of the lakes.

Information on and forecasts of Great Lakes water levels is available from several agencies in the United States and Canada. The forecast for the water levels is to continue to be above average, though levels could change relatively quickly.


Lookback #423 – Retired laker Canadian Venture beached at Alang, India, Jan. 14, 2005

It was 10 years ago today that the retired bulk carrier Canadian Venture was beached at Alang, India, for scrapping. The vessel had arrived a week earlier but there was a delay in bringing the ship ashore to be broken up.

Canadian Venture left Montreal on Sept. 2, 2004, under tow of the tug Strong Deliverer and was joined by long-time fleetmate Canadian Trader off Les Escoumins. It took over four months to make the trip.

Canadian Venture had been built at Lauzon, Quebec, and was commissioned by the Hall Corporation on June 5, 1965, as Lawrencecliffe Hall. Within months the 730 foot long bulk carrier was lying on the bottom of the St. Lawrence River following a collision with the Sunek near Ile D'Orleans. The ore laden ship had been successfully beached after the accident but high tide caused the vessel to float free, move offshore and roll on her side.

A massive salvage project succeeded in righting and then refloating the new ship. Following reconditioning and repairs it returned to work for Halco and sailed on their behalf until the company sold their ships in 1988.

The big laker joined the Misener fleet as David K. Gardiner in 1988 and then became Canadian Venture when it moved to U.L.S. in 1994. It last sailed in 2001 and had been idle until departing for the long tow to the scrapyard.

Skip Gillham


Frozen In #14 – Liberty ship Harry L. Glucksman spent three winters undergoing rebuild

The Liberty ship Harry L. Glucksman was built at Savannah, Ga., in 1944 and operated for the United States Maritime Commission. It was later managed by the Isthmian Line before being placed in the Reserve Fleet.

The ship was towed up the Welland Canal by the tugs Jean Turecamo and Francis Turecamo on Sept. 22, 1966, and headed for Erie, Pa. There the hull was stripped and then taken to Lorain, Ohio, to be converted to a minesweeper for the United States Navy.

Renamed MSS-1, the ship underwent extensive modification and hull strengthened for use in exploding pressure mines. The tug Doris Moran took the rebuilt vessel back down the Welland Canal on June 4, 1969, after spending three winters on the Great Lakes.

The ship was decommissioned on March 15, 1973. It was sold for scrap in 1975 and dismantled at Brownsville, Texas.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  January 14

News Photo Gallery - we are getting caught up on the backlog of pictures, please continue to send in your pictures.
Lay-up list updated


Today in Great Lakes History -  January 14

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

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

Scrapping began on CHICAGO TRIBUNE in 1989, by International Marine Salvage in Port Colborne, Ontario. January 14, 1920 - The Grand Trunk carferry GRAND HAVEN was fast in the ice three miles out of Grand Haven.

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

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

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

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

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

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


Ice delays continue

1/13 - St. Clair River - 5 p.m. update - Overnight the Canadian Coast Guard Ship Griffon escorted the American Courage into Western Lake Erie. She turned back about 1:30 a.m. leaving the Courage in the ice.

Arriving overnight on Lake Huron was the James R. Barker and Edwin H. Gott. The Barker entered the river downbound for the St. Clair power plant while the Gott went to anchor with the other vessels.

Icebreaking efforts in the lower St. Clair River resumed Tuesday morning with the Canadian Coast Guard Ship Samuel Risley and USCG Neah Bay working track maintenance at day break. The Griffon arrived from her all night run to Lake Erie to join the efforts about 7:30 a.m. The Barker stopped above Marine City about 8 a.m. and was joined by the Rt. Hon Paul J. Martin and Baie Comeau about 4:15 p.m.

The Griffon and Risley met the downbound H. Lee White and Sam Laud near Algonac shortly after 8 a.m. to assist them through the heavy ice. Neah Bay continued to work track maintenance and flush ice into Lake St. Clair.

The USCG Bristol Bay arrived in the Lake St. Clair Cut Off Channel just as the H. Lee White was moving downbound about 2:30 p.m. with the Sam Laud under close assistance through the ice.

H. Lee White continued downbound followed by the USCG Hollyhock. They passed near Belle Isle about 4:30 and were joined by the Thunder Bay who had loaded salt in Windsor. About 30 minutes behind was the Sam Laud.

The Hollyhock planned on reaching the East Outer Channel in Lake Erie below the Detroit River and stopping for the night. The Risley, Griffon and Neah Bay continued track maintenance in the lower river.

Waiting in Western Lake Erie are the Algomarine heading out of Toledo and the American Courage heading to Cleveland. Ice is very heavy in Western Lake Erie and requires icebreaker escort.

Waiting above Port Huron are the CSL Niagara, Capt. Henry Jackman, Great Republic and Edwin H. Gott.


Locks season extended by 24 hours

1/13 - Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. – There has been a 24-hour extension for downbound vessels to pass through the Soo Locks. Boats leaving their Lake Superior ports by midnight the 15th will be allowed to lock through.

US Army Corps of Engineers


Salt-laden Atlantic Erie grounded off Îles-de-la-Madeleine

1/13 - Magdalen Islands – A bulk carrier ship full of salt has been grounded off Îles-de-la-Madeleine since Sunday afternoon, according to Canada's Transportation Safety Board.

The Atlantic Erie, owned by Canada Steamship Lines, was leaving Grand Entrée when it grounded on a sandbar.

"There is no injury or pollution, and we've been told the outer shell suffered only minor damage," said John Sypnowich, CSL's chief legal officer.

The TSB has dispatched a team of investigators to look into the incident. Conditions were windy at the time, says TSB spokesperson John Cottreau.

"No pollution is apparent now," said Cottreau, adding that no salt appears to have spilled. Tow operations are still ongoing.

The Atlantic Erie had been chartered by Seleine Mines to carry the salt to Quebec.

CBC, Mac Mackay


Freighters wait for path through river ice

1/13 - Port Huron, Mich. – U.S. and Canadian coast guard ships have been working to clear the St. Clair River of ice to keep freighters moving through the area.

U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Danny Hinesly said the U.S. Coast Guard ship Bristol Bay and Canadian Coast Guard ship Griffon spent most of Monday morning and early afternoon breaking ice near Algonac for the Algomarine and American Spirit.

The two ships passed safely through St. Clair River and into Lake St. Clair, Hinesly said.

Monday afternoon, the U.S. Coast Guard ship Neah Bay and Canadian Coast Guard ship Samuel Risley were en route to break out the lower St. Clair River.

The Risley entered the St. Clair River downbound about 11 a.m. Monday morning. She careful transited the river maneuvering to keep the stationary ice fields from moving down river and compounding the ice problem in the lower river.

About 3:45 p.m. the Griffon and Risley escorted the stuck American Spirit through the heavy ice near Russell Island. The Risley then returned upbound to escort the American Courage downbound with the Neah Bay arriving on scene to assist.

There are six vessels anchored in lower Lake Huron waiting to come down when conditions permit. They will most likely start moving Tuesday morning and include: the Sam Laud, Baie Comeau, H. Lee White, Capt. Henry Jackman and Rt. Hon. Paul J. Martin.

Hinesly said ice is compacting in the St. Clair River near Algonac, creating impassable waters for freighters.

The Blue Water Ferry, that runs from Marine City to Sombra, Ont., was closed again Monday due to ice.

See today’s News Gallery for video

Port Huron Times Herald


Badger’s ash collection and conveyance system arrives

1/13 - Ludington, Mich. – The second phase of the 2-phase ash retention system aboard the S. S. Badger is scheduled to begin this week in earnest. The conveyor system has been delivered and the new system will be in place and operational for the maiden voyage of the vessel’s 2015 sailing season on May 15.

Lake Michigan Carferry


Ice cover data – NOAA

As of Monday: Lake Superior 15%, Lake Michigan 22.7%, Lake Huron 33.3%, Lake Erie 57.6%, Lake Ontario 12.2% and Lake St. Clair at 94.4%


Port Reports -  January 13

Sturgeon Bay, Wis.
Hon. James L. Oberstar arrived at Bayship for winter layup on Monday.

Detroit, Mich.
Herbert C. Jackson and Lee A. Tregurtha went into lay-up at Nicholson's Monday afternoon.

Erie, Pa.
The tug Dorothy Ann and barge Pathfinder arrived in Erie Monday morning about 8:05 a.m. in a light snow. The tug New York was breaking ice in the slip and the turning basin. The ice in the channel was broken up and the pair had no trouble coming in and docking in the west slip for winter lay-up.


Seaway hits post recession high with 40 million tonnes of cargo

1/13 - Cornwall, Ont. – The St. Lawrence Seaway concluded the 2014 navigation season with 40 million tonnes of cargo, which represents a full recovery from the 2009 global financial crisis and its ensuing aftermath.

The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SLSMC) announced Monday that the Seaway closed for the season on January 1, 2015, with the eastbound vessel Sten Bergen transiting the St. Lambert Lock in Montreal at 00:22 a.m. The last vessel to exit the Welland Canal was the Algoma Navigator at 8 a.m. on December 31. Given an opening date of March 28 (about a week later than usual, reflecting frigid conditions in early spring) the 2014 Seaway navigation season amounted to 280 days in length.

A blowout volume of grain moving through the Seaway was the standout feature of the season, as farmers and grain merchants furiously sought avenues to move the bumper crop from 2013 that had clogged rail lines.

“There can be little question that the Seaway proved its value as a vital transportation artery in 2014” said Terence Bowles, President and CEO of the SLSMC. “Carriers moved over 12 million tonnes of grain through our locks, the highest volume since the turn of the century some 14 years ago. We are also pleased with our various marketing initiatives and toll incentives, to which we attribute about 2.5 million tonnes of new business during 2014.”

The rebound to 40 million tonnes of cargo in 2014, a 7% increase over the 2013 result, was principally due to the boom in grain shipments, accompanied by strong volumes of iron and steel products, and shipments of road salt to replenish inventories that had been severely depleted during the harsh winter of 2013. The influx of ocean vessels into the St. Lawrence Seaway was unprecedented in recent history. On multiple occasions in 2014, there were over 50 ocean vessels within the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway System.

U.S. Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation Administrator Betty Sutton said “the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway System plays a strong role in facilitating economic growth throughout the Great Lakes region, which is quickly becoming the opportunity belt of North America. In particular, the increases in iron and steel cargo this shipping season reflect new growth in manufacturing, construction, energy and other industries throughout the region. The strong finish to the Seaway’s 2014 navigation season contributed to the resurgence in the overall economy and foreshadows a positive outlook for increasing use of maritime transportation to move goods throughout the region.”

During the 2014 navigation season, the SLSMC commissioned three additional locks with Hands Free Mooring equipment, bringing the total number of locks equipped with vacuum pads as a means of mooring ships to four. As part of the SLSMC’s five-year $500 million asset renewal and modernization program, the Seaway is forging the means for a waterway that is yet safer and more efficient. By the end of 2017, all Seaway high-lift locks will be equipped with the automated mooring equipment, eliminating the need to manually tie-up vessels using lines.

Likewise in 2014, Seaway carriers continued to modernize its operations, taking delivery of new state-of-the art vessels, purpose-built for Seaway use. 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. These investments underline the Seaway’s enduring value and the faith of key stakeholders in its future



Frozen In #13 – Fire damage kept Orient Trader on lakes over winter of 1965-1966

A second saltwater vessel to lay up at Toronto for the winter of 1965-1966 was Orient Trader. The cargo of rubber aboard the ship had caught fire at the dock in that port on July 21, 1965, leaving considerable damage to the vessel.

Orient Trader had made eight previous trips to the Great Lakes beginning in 1960 and was on its ninth and final inland voyage when the blaze broke out. The ship was towed from the dock to the harbor where the fire was brought under control.

Unfortunately, Orient Trader was a total loss and sold for scrap to Marine Salvage of Port Colborne. The hull was used for the filming of several episodes of the Canadian television series “Seaway” before it was resold to Spanish shipbreakers.

Orient Trader passed down the Seaway behind the tug Salvage Monarch on May 7, 1966. The ship loaded a cargo of scrap at Montreal East and then left for overseas. The vessel arrived at Valencia, Spain, under tow of the tug Praia da Adraga, on July 11, 1966, and was broken up by Aguilar y Peris.

This was originally the Victory ship Stamford Victory and had been built at Baltimore, Md. It was launched on April 15, 1945, and saw some work as a troop transport for the British Ministry of War Transport.

It was sold to private interests in 1948 and sailed as b) British Prince to 1957 and then as c) Mandagala until becoming d) Orient Trader in 1960.

Skip Gillham


Lookback #422 – Laketon broke loose and foundered in the Atlantic on Jan. 13, 1968

The first Laketon, a member of the Mathews and then the Misener fleet, served under Canadian registry from 1968 until being sold for scrap in 1967. The 426-foot-long vessel dated from 1903 and construction at Cleveland, Ohio.

Originally the Saxona, this bulk carrier sailed for the Zenith Steamship Co. under Tomlinson management. Its travels were not without incident.

On April 16, 1906, it collided with and sank the Eugene Zimmerman on its maiden voyage upbound in the St. Mary's River. Both vessels were repaired and returned to service.

Saxona also collided head-on with the Pentecost Mitchell on May 14, 1917, and this time the two ships went down locked together. Again refloated after being abandoned to the underwriters, Saxona was taken to Collingwood and rebuilt.

Renamed Laketon, the ship joined the Mathews fleet in 1918 and remained with them until taken over by the Receivers in 1932 and sold to the Colonial Steamship Co. of Capt. R. Scott Misener in 1933.

Laketon laid up at Goderich after the 1964 season but raised steam for the final trip clearing the Seaway on Aug. 15, 1965. It was used for grain storage at St. John's, NF before being resold, via Steel Factors, to Italian shipbreakers.

Laketon departed St. John's on Dec. 29, 1967 behind the Polish tug Koral and in tandem with the retired Canadian Coast Guard ship Saurel. Only the latter made it to Vado, Italy, as Laketon foundered in the Atlantic after breaking loose 47-years ago today. It went to the bottom in a position recorded as 39.42 N by 30.36 W.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  January 13

News Photo Gallery We are working on getting caught up, please continue to send in your pictures.
Lay-up list updated
New Video on our YouTube Channel
Public Gallery updated


Today in Great Lakes History -  January 13

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

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

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

In 1979, the U.S.C.G. tug ARUNDEL 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.


Locks season extended by 24 hours

1/12 - Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. – There has been a 24-hour extension for downbound vessels to pass through the Soo Locks. Boats leaving their Lake Superior ports by midnight the 15th will be allowed to lock through.

US Army Corps of Engineers


Freighters still waiting for ice to be cleared in St. Clair River

1/12 - Port Huron, Mich. – Due to an excessive amount of ice in the St. Clair River, four freighters are sitting in the river just north of Algonac waiting for ice to be cleared.

U.S. Coast Guard ship Bristol Bay and Canadian Coast Guard ship Griffon were working Sunday to clear the ice for lead cargo ship Herbert C. Jackson, said U.S. Coast Guard Detroit Sector Command Duty Officer Gene Davis. The Jackson was freed in the late afternoon and attention was turned to the next ship in line, Algomarine.

Davis said he was not sure when the ships would be able to get through since there is heavy ice buildup.

This morning, a freighter required some assistance in the same location. The U.S. Coast Guard ship Bristol Bay and Canadian Coast Guard ship Griffon responded at 7:30 a.m. to free the Canadian vessel Whitefish Bay, said U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Danny Hinesley. The Whitefish Bay made it to Lake St. Clair with the assistance of Canadian Coast Guard ship Griffon.

One vessel, the American Courage, went crosswise to the channel on Saturday afternoon and was still in that position Sunday as cutters worked to free vessels downstream.

The Blue Water Ferry, that runs from Marine City to Sombra, Ontario, Canada, is closed due to ice.

Port Huron Times Herald


Port Reports -  January 12

Two Harbors, Minn.
Roger Blough arrived Sunday afternoon to load pellets. Cason J. Callaway and Arthur M. Anderson are next on the schedule.

St. Marys River
Traffic was moving getting through the river Saturday, with the downbound Cuyahoga, Capt. Henry Jackman and Algowood making it out of the system. Philip R. Clarke, Presque Isle, Mesabi Miner and American Century were all in the area of the locks at mid-to-late evening. The USCG Mackinaw was standing by above Light 26 in the upper river to render aid, while CCG Samuel Risley was at DeTour, escorting the downbounds into Lake Huron.

Grand Haven, Mich. – Sam Hankinson
Ice caused trouble for two vessels attempting to enter port Sunday afternoon. First, the barge St. Marys Challenger and tug Bradshaw McKee fought the ice, assisted by the tug Meredith Ashton. The Challenger was followed by the coal-laden Calumet.

Rochester, NY – Tom Brewer
The Stephen B. Roman departed Rochester, NY Sunday morning. Had to break through ice to get from her dock to the lake.


Frozen In #12 – Liberty ship Protostatis forced to stay behind in 1965-66 due to grounding

The first Seaway trip to the Great Lakes of the Greek Liberty ship Protostatis in 1965 was uneventful. The second was anything but.

The 441-foot, 6-inch-long vessel was loaded with scrap from Detroit when it stranded in Lake Ontario on Traverse Shoal on Sept. 30, 1965. The lighter Mapleheath removed some of the steel and tugs pulled Protostatis free. They traveled to the shelter of Wolfe Island off Kingston to reload and then, en route to the Seaway, the salty stranded again at the eastern end of the same island.

This time, Protostatis got frozen in and many of the crew went home. The retired canaller Keyshey was brought out from Kingston early in 1966 and took on some of the steel so the well-traveled Liberty would float once again.

Following a tow to Toronto, where pumps helped keep the ship afloat, the cargo was again reloaded and, come spring, the vessel departed the Great Lakes under tow. A second tow took the ship to Valencia, Spain, instead of the original destination of Genoa, Italy, and Protostatis arrived there on July 5, 1966, to be broken up by Aguilar y Peris.

The vessel had been built at Jacksonville, Fla., as John Philip Sousa in 1943 and later sailed as b) Erato and c) Taxiarchis under the flag of Honduras, before becoming Protostatis in 1960.

Skip Gillham


Lookback #421 – Baron Berwick abandoned off Cape Finisterre on Jan. 12, 1970

The British freighter Baron Berwick made only one trip through the newly opened St. Lawrence Seaway in 1959. The 456- -foot, 7-inch-long vessel had been launched on July 25, 1956, and completed in October for the Kelvin Shipping Co.

The ship was sold in 1965 and first registered in Haiti as Filtric but this was changed to Greece a year later. It made a single return trip to the Great Lakes under this name in 1967.

Filtric was on a voyage from Copenhagen, Denmark, to Alexandria, Egypt, when the cargo shifted off El Pindo, Cape Finisterre 45 years ago today. The crew took to the lifeboats and the listing, abandoned hull drifted aground on the northwest coast of Spain the next day. The former Seaway trader was a total loss.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  January 12

Public Gallery updated


Today in Great Lakes History -  January 12

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The new EDWIN H GOTT departed Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, in 1979, for final fitout at Milwaukee. 1970: BARON BERWICK made one trip inland in 1959 and returned as b) FILTRIC in 1967. The latter was abandoned 5 miles south of Cape Finistere on the northwest coast of Spain after the cargo shifted. The vessel was enroute from Copenhagen, Denmark, to Alexandria, Egypt, and it drifted aground the next day as a total loss.

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

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

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

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


Ice slows ships all around the lakes

1/11 - At the Soo on Saturday afternoon, Kaministiqua was stuck at Point Louise, being assisted by Katmai Bay. After she was freed, she went to anchor in the lee of Whitefish Point. Cuyahoga was beset below Mission Point, and was still there at 10 p.m., after being assisted by the cutter Biscayne Bay and tug Missouri. Walter J. McCarthy Jr. was upbound below their position and, after getting cutter assistance, she moved to the Carbide Dock for fuel. Stewart J. Cort was moving slowly upbound in the east Neebish Channel, assisted by Biscayne Bay, Saturday afternoon. She made it though the locks and was headed upbound after 10 p.m., although her captain was unsure of how far he would get in the ice. The upbound John B. Aird was having trouble at Point Louise as night fell, and Katmai Bay was assisting. Robert S. Pierson was downbound waiting for the Aird to clear. Arthur M. Anderson, which had been anchored in the lee of Whitefish since Tuesday, resumed her trip to 2 Harbors Saturday night.

The westbound Philip R. Clarke was stuck west of the Mackinaw Bridge, with Mobile Bay assisting, Saturday afternoon. As night fell, she was upbound in the St. Marys River and preparing to spend the night in the ice in Mud Lake. By late evening, the Mobile Bay was helping the Hon. James L. Oberstar. Anglian Lady and Ashtabula/Defiance were also beset in the Straits.

Ice piling up in the lower St. Clair River at Algonac stopped traffic in the lower St. Clair River on Saturday. Saturday night the Canadian Coast Guard Ship Griffon and USCG Bristol Bay were working to free the downbound Whitefish Bay. Waiting in the lower river behind them for traffic to begin moving were the Herbert C. Jackson, Algomarine, American Spirit and American Courage. Sam Laud, Baie Comeau and H. Lee White were anchored off Port Huron. There were several more downbound boats that left the St. Marys River earlier Saturday and most likely will have to go to anchor once they reach Port Huron. There appears to be several vessels in Detroit waiting to go up to Lake St. Clair and the St. Clair River. There is unconfirmed talk going around that the St. Clair River is now closed down to all navigation.

Saturday night the cutter Samuel Risley was on Lake Superior between the Keweenaw Peninsula and Marquette. She is bound from Thunder Bay for the St. Marys River area where she will help out with the ice breaking. The cutter Bristol Bay came up from Lake Erie to the St. Clair River to help out the Griffon at Algonac.

Neah Bay is handling the ice breaking operations at the western end of Lake Erie. Mobile Bay is handling the ice breaking operations at the Straits of Mackinac. The cutters Biscayne Bay, Katmai Bay and Mackinaw are working the St. Marys River.


Port Reports -  January 11

Toledo, Ohio – Denny Dushane
Lee A. Tregurtha arrived at the Torco Dock early on Saturday morning to unload a cargo of pellets. There are three vessels expected to arrive at Torco on Thursday, Jan. 15. Due first is the Manitowoc in the early morning, followed later in the morning by the James L. Kuber. Fleetmate Lewis J. Kuber rounds out the schedule also arriving at about noon on Thursday, January 15. Manistee is laid up in Toledo at the Midwest Terminal Overseas Dock. Algorail is in drydock at Ironhead Shipyard. American Valor remains in long-term layup near the Lakefront Docks. Expected to arrive for winter lay-up in the next few days will be the 1,000-footer American Spirit. The Saginaw was also in port at the time of this report unloading a grain cargo along the Maumee River at one of the grain elevators from Thunder Bay, Ont.

Huron, Ohio – Steven Myers
John J. Boland has joined the Adam E. Cornelius for lay-up at Huron, Ohio in Slip #2 at the former ore dock.


Frozen In #11 – T-3 tanker Passumpsic rebuilt at Lorain over the winter of 1964-65

The United States Navy tanker Passumpsic was built at Chester, Pa., and completed in April 1946. It served overseas during the Korean War and received nine battle stars for its service.

The ship arrived at Lorain, Ohio, for reconstruction on Nov. 26, 1964, and the work carried on over the winter months.

A new midbody was constructed and fitted and this increased the ship's carrying capacity by 50 percent. The $16 million project was completed and, following lake trials on Nov. 15, 1965, Passumpsic sailed for the Atlantic.

The old mid-body was used to lengthen the tanker Transbay in 1966 and that vessel later sailed as Transhuron.

Passumpsic was also active as a replenishment tanker in the Vietnam War. It was deommissioned on July 24, 1973, and transferred to the Military Sealift Command. This service ended in Dec. 1991 and the ship was sold to shipbreakers in India on July 1, 1992, and scrapped.

Skip Gillham


Lookback #420 – Spontaneous combustion fire ignited Eurojoy on Jan. 11, 1993

The Greek flag Seaway trader Eurojoy was anchored off Cadiz, Spain, 22-years ago today when fire broke out in the cargo of coal. The blaze spread leaving the 591-foot, 6-inch-long bulk carrier a total loss.

The vessel was sold for scrap and departed under tow for Thessaloniki, Greece on May 13, 1994, and was reported, falsely, as broken up for scrap. The ship gained a reprieve and was repaired for a return to service as f) Olympos II later in the year. It was soon resold and spent its final years trading under the flag of Malta as g) Lena II.

Following a sale to shipbreakers in India, the bulk carrier arrived at Alang on Mach 19, 1998, and was broken up by Arya Steel.

Eurojoy was built at Hakodate, Japan, and completed in October 1970 as Atlantic Challenge. It came through the Seaway as such in 1971 and returned as b) Angebaltic in 1981 and as c) Asturias in 1985.

The ship was sold and re-registered in Malta as d) Sturia in 1986 and then became e) Eurojoy in 1990. It made its first trip back to the Great Lakes under this name heading up bound for Toledo with magnetite ore on June 20, 1990.

The ship managed 28 years of service, under four nationalities and seven names, four of which traded into the Great Lakes.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  January 11

Lay-up list updated
Public Gallery updated


Today in Great Lakes History -  January 11

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

In 1970, 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.


Catherine Desgagnés towed to Quebec City

1/10 - The veteran bulk carrier Catherine Desgagnés was met Friday morning on the St. Lawrence River below Quebec City by the tug Océan Henry Bain. It appears to have taken the ship in tow off Ile-aux-Grues / Cap Tourmente, northwest of the downstream tip of Ile d'Oréans. By late morning they were stationary in the St-Michel anchorage area. By Friday evening they had reached Quebec City, where the ship was tied up along side wintering fleet mates. It had been due to winter over in Montreal, but it appears that the voyage has been cut short.

Mac Mackay / Shipfax


First ship docks in the Twin Ports for winter layup

1/10 - Duluth, Minn. – The final push of the shipping season is officially underway in the Twin Ports as the first ship docked for winter layup on Wednesday.

The American Integrity came through the canal around 11:30 a.m., the first of six ships. The 2014 shipping season comes to an end when the Soo Locks close on January 15th, and the 2015 season starts when they reopen on March 25th.

For the next ten weeks, Adele Yorde with the Duluth Seaway Port Authority says there's a lot of work to be done. "Whether it's engine work, electric work, haul repairs, hatch repairs that need to be made, it's an amazing amount of work that those crews fit in in that period," Yorde said.

Jim Sharrow, the facility manager, explained the specifics.

"The deck department closes up their quarters area, shut off navigation equipment, do some cleaning, and depart," said Sharrow. "The engine staff opens up equipment that has to be maintained and inspected."

It's all determined by the weather, which last year caused some problems. Yorde said only three ships were able to leave last March, and she's hopeful the ice isn't an issue this season.



Port Reports -  January 10

St. Clair River
Friday afternoon the Saginaw was headed downbound, she turned around near DTE in East China about at 2:50 p.m. and anchored.

Lake Erie - Phil Leon
A low water advisory in effect until 9 a.m. Saturday morning. Strong Southwest winds were causing the water level to be several inches below the critical mark. At 9:45 p.m. the water level at Toledo was 4 inches below the critical mark for safe navigation which is 1 inch above low water datum. The water level will remain several inches below the critical mark until daybreak Saturday and then should rise above the critical mark as the winds diminish some.

A low water advisory means water levels are expected to be below the critical mark for safe navigation. Vessels may bottom out or become grounded.


Frozen In #10 – Flying Independent sailed back to Chicago to spend winter of 1964–65

The Flying Independent of the American Export Lines was the only one of the four ships frozen in for the winter of 1964 – 1965 to spend those months somewhere other than Toronto. This American flag freighter headed back up the lakes and was tied up at Chicago.

This C-1 cargo carrier was not a stranger to the Great Lakes and had been coming inland since the Seaway opened in 1959. The 6,735 gross ton carrier had been inland in 1959, 1962 and 1963 and was on its fourth trip of 1964 when it got caught by the early freeze-up.

Originally the Cape Domingo, it was built in 1944 and sailed for the United States Maritime Commission before being sold and renamed Flying Independent in 1947.

The vessel served its owners well until 1965 when it was sold and renamed c) Harbor Hills. It remained under the U.S. flag until it resold to Taiwan shipbreakers. Harbor Hills arrived at Kaohsiung during Sept. 1968 and was broken up by the Jui Cheng Co.

Skip Gillham


Lookback #419 – Arethusa caught fire in the northern Great Belt on Jan. 10, 2001

Arethusa was sailing under its third name when it came to the Great Lakes in 1987. The ship dated from 1973 and construction at Tokyo, Japan, as the Fortune Class bulk carrier Maria N. It was launched on Jan. 16, 1973, and joined the Seawind Navigation Co. S.A. of Greece.

The vessel came under Panamanian registry as Winner in 1984 and began flying the flag of Cyprus on becoming Arethusa of the Bismilah Shipping Co. Ltd. in 1987.

This ship also visited the Seaway in 1988 and again in 1992 with stops at Hamilton, Milwaukee and Thunder Bay.

A fire broke out in the engine room on Jan. 10, 2001, as the ship was on a voyage from Casablanca, Morocco, to Gdansk, Poland, with a cargo of phosphate. The blaze of 14-years ago today spread to the bridge and accommodation areas as the vessel was traversing the Great Belt, a 37-mile waterway that separates two Danish islands.

A Danish naval vessel arrived on the scene and removed 17 of the 22 sailors on board the ship. The fire was eventually extinguished but Arethusa was a total loss. Following a sale to Turkish shipbreakers, the former Seaway saltie arrived at Aliaga, on March 26, 2001, and was broken up by Ege Gemi Sokum A.S.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  January 10

Lay-up list updated
Public Gallery updated


Today in Great Lakes History -  January 10

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1967: PRINDOC (iii) was laid up for the winter at Cardinal, Ontario, when it broke its moorings in a storm and drifted down the St. Lawrence. The shipkeeper was able to get the 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.


Traffic moving in the St. Marys River

1/9 - Thursday saw traffic moving again, with downbound and upbound vessels that had been stuck Wednesday finally making it through the Soo Locks. After waiting at Nine Mile Point for two days, Paul R. Tregurtha, Edwin H. Gott and Cuyahoga finally made it to the locks. Downbounders included Joseph L. Block, Saginaw, Great Lakes Trader and Algomarine. The latter stopped at the Carbide Dock for fuel. Late Thursday, Michipicoten, Whitefish Bay and Indiana Harbor were all in the upper river headed for the locks. USC Katmai Bay was standing by in the area of Light 23 to assist if needed. In the lower river, the USCG Mackinaw was assisting Edgar B. Speer at the upper end of Neebish Island, with Roger Blough upbound behind her. Kaye E. Barker, St. Clair and Arthur M. Anderson were all anchored in the lee of Whitefish Point.


Operation Coal Shovel icebreaking operations begin

1/9 - Detroit, Mich. – The U.S. and Canadian coast guards have commenced Operation Coal Shovel, the seasonal domestic ice breaking operations in the southern part of Lake Huron, Lake St. Clair, the St. Clair and Detroit River systems, Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, starting Thursday.

The U.S. and Canadian Coast Guard icebreakers work together to prevent ice jams in these vital economic waterways as conditions worsen throughout the winter.

Ice jams can create a disruption to the flow of maritime commerce, so the icebreakers work diligently to flush ice down the river to facilitate transportation of vital winter cargoes. U.S. and Canadian crewmembers coordinate, conduct and track maintenance, provide vessel assistance and conduct flushing operations to minimize the potential for residential flooding. The mission of Operation Coal Shovel is to quickly reopen the Great Lakes maritime transportation system for the movement of commercial vessels that may become beset in the ice.

The winter of 2013-2014 presented some of the harshest ice conditions ever recorded in the Great Lakes. At one point during March 2014, 92.5 percent of the Great Lakes were covered by ice; this was the highest percentage of ice coverage seen since 1979. Operation Coal Shovel started in December 2013 and lasted for a total of 128 days.

The U.S. and Canadian Coast Guard played a vital role in allowing the movement of vital iron ore, coal, salt, limestone, oil derivatives, cement and other cargoes during those historic ice conditions.

As Operation Coal Shovel begins, the U.S. and Canadian Coast Guard will continue to monitor potential hazardous ice conditions and conduct ice-breaking operations throughout the Great Lakes.



Dry docks get short lease for Algoma work

1/9 - Port Weller, Ont. – Algoma Central Corp. has entered into a three-month lease at the Port Weller dry docks. Peter Winkley, Algoma's chief financial officer, said maintenance work is being done on the Algoma Enterprise which is required every five years.

"We are doing work on the Enterprise and it's our own folks doing that work," Winkley said. "It's only over that short period this winter... we're hoping to have it complete by the end of March."

He said some workers handling the project on the bulk carrier are seasonal and hired every winter.

The previous dry docks tenant, Seaway Marine and Industrial, went bankrupt in 2013, throwing more than 100 people out of work.

Winkley said his company has no intentions "at this time" of a longer or more permanent lease at the dry docks.

Kyle Groulx — business representative for International Brotherhood of Boilermakers Local 128 representing the hourly workers — said many have since found work.

Some are also currently working on the project as seasonal workers.

"We are … looking at a few things (about the current lease) from a legal standpoint," he said. "We're looking as to whether there are grounds for a successor employer claim," he said. Any such claim would pertain to whether or not the Steelworkers have the right to represent workers there.

"We would file and say that it should be done under our collective agreement," Groulx said.

Bruce Hodgson, director of market development at the Seaway, said the corporation is open to discussion for longer leases at the dry docks. But there's nothing yet on deck.

St. Catharines Standard


Mackinac Island ferry, freight lines running until ice becomes impassable

1/9 - St. Ignace, Mich. – The frigid temperatures across the Straits mean ice is forming all over, and fast. So the time window to take a ferry or freight from St. Ignace to Mackinac Island is getting smaller.

"It is unpredictable out here in the Straits. It's Northern Michigan, you never what to expect in this area. But we'll keep plugging away and do our best to continue taking passengers and commuters to Mackinac Island until our route becomes impassable," said Veronica Dobrowolski, general manager for Arnold Line.

Already running later than last year, Arnold Line and Shepler's Mackinac Island Ferry service are still on the move.

They say they have to play it by ear taking freight and commuters to and from the island.

"It's pretty unpredictable. It's a day-by-day operation this time of year...right now it's 60-80 people each morning, construction projects going on each day and several residents that go to the island, I think now they're stocking up on all of their goods in preparation for a harsh winter," said Dobrowolski.

"(The wind) blew out all the ice out for us, but in the case of the British landing dock it blew in there so we can't get in there because of the wind. Today we took a freight of food and lumber, there's some small projects there. Anyone who ships with us, we'll communicate and let them know but were a day to day operation right now, the conditions are so that we could be done tomorrow for all we know," said Armand Horn, general manager of Shepler's.

"Its funny how quick things change...once it gets this cold the water is already cold enough to freeze it's just getting cold nights and calm conditions."

Shepler's says if the wind keeps up, and temperatures rise, they could run for at least another week.

9&10 News


Seaway end-of-season statistics

1/9 - • Last upbound vessel at St. Lambert: Algoma Harvester on Dec. 29 bound for Hamilton from Port Cartier.

• Last vessel of the season at Iroquois lock: Sten Bergen on Dec. 31 bound for Amsterdam from Sarnia.

• Last vessel of the season upbound at Iroquois lock: Mississagi on Dec. 30 bound for Hamilton from Valleyfield.

• Last new foreign-flag vessel upbound: Active on Dec. 24 bound for Oshawa. • Last foreign-flag vessel upbound at St. Lambert: Active on Dec. 24 bound for Oshawa.

• Last vessel of the season downbound: Sten Bergen bound for Amsterdam on Jan. 1st from Sarnia.

• Last Canadian ship downbound: Sarah Desgagnés on Dec. 29 bound for Montreal from Sarnia.

For the third time in the Seaway history, the last ship of the season cleared the St.Lambert Lock on Jan. 1. It happened previously last year when Orsula transited that day and also during the 1984 season when Steelcliffe Hall transited on Jan. 1, 1985.

60 salties transited the Seaway for the first time under their current name in 2014. Compared to 59 in 2013, 93 in 2012, 78 in 2011, 83 in 2010 and 54 in 2009. Altogether, 225 salties transited including three vessels under two different names, Hellespont Crusader renamed Larsholmen, Hellespont Centurion renamed Lokholmen and Clipper Mari renamed Nordic Mari. A few went only as far as Côte Ste. Catherine, namely Adriaticborg, Julie C, Nomadic Milde, Thorco Conquest and Thorco Dolphin, most of them to load scrap metals. Going as far as Valleyfield only were BBC Baltic, Halit Bey and Oslo Bulk 2. Last year, a total of 204 names were logged.

René Beauchamp


Frozen In #9 – Van Fu, a Liberty ship, spent the winter of 1964 – 1965 at Toronto

The Liberty ship Van Fu only made one trip through the Seaway. This occurred late in 1964 and before the ship could get back to saltwater, it was frozen in for the winter.

Van Fu had been built at Los Angeles, CA and completed in Dec. 1943. It first sailed ad Philip C. Shera and was managed by the American-Hawaiian Steamship Co. on behalf of the United States Maritime Commission. It closed out the war years and, in Feb. 1947, was sold to Greek interests and renamed b) Igor.

The vessel operated on their account until being sold to the Taiwan Chung Hsing Steamship Co. in 1960 and registered in Nationalist China, as Taiwan was then known, as c) Van Fu.

During its only voyage to the Great Lakes in 1964, Van Fu loaded a cargo of scrap which, fortunately was not damaged by remaining aboard all winter. Come spring, the ship resumed its voyage to Italy but not many more trips remained.

Van Fu was sold for scrap and arrived at Kaohsiung, Taiwan, for dismantling prior to Nov. 18, 1968.

Skip Gillham


Lookback #418 – Former Lucie Schulte sank on Jan. 9, 1974

Only one sailor survived the sinking of the former Lucie Schulte. The ship went down 41 years ago today as Tevega and the other 15 crewmembers perished.

This vessel was built at Emden, West Germany, and completed in January 1954. The 259-foot, 1-inch-long cargo carrier had been a pre-Seaway trader to the Great Lakes. It later made three additional trips through the newly opened waterway with two visits in 1960 and the final call in 1962.

Lucie Schulte continued in saltwater service for Schulte & Bruns until being sold and renamed Tevega in 1969. It retained West Germany registry until coming under the flag of Cyprus in 1971.

Tevega had loaded a cargo of barley at Antwerp, Belgium, for Casablanca, Morocco, when it encountered foul winter weather in the Atlantic. The small ship was overwhelmed in the Bay of Biscay and sank on Jan. 9, 1974.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  January 9

Lay-up list updated
Public Gallery 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.


Worsening ice conditions delay traffic on St. Marys River

1/8 - Early Wednesday the downbound Mesabi Miner became stuck in the Point Louise area and needed help from the USCG Katmai Bay, which locked up from her Sault Ste. Marie base around noon.

After freeing the Miner, the cutter went to work loosening ice in the turn before heading to assist John B. Aird, which was also having trouble enroute to Essar Steel. With the ice broken up, Robert S. Pierson departed Essar upbound in the afternoon, ultimately going to anchor in the lee of Whitefish Point.

After the Miner locked downbound, a process that was delayed by ice that prevented the lock gates from fully opening, the upbound Burns Harbor, which had been on the lower Poe Lock pier, was given permission to lock up.

At 10 p.m. Wednesday, Mesabi Miner was either stuck or stopped for the night above Six Mile Point, upstream from Paul R. Tregurtha, Edwin H. Gott and Cuyahoga, which spent Wednesday below Nine Mile Point waiting for downbounder traffic to clear. It had been hoped to move several vessels from Whitefish Bay down through the lower river on Wednesday but that did not come to pass. Downbound traffic scheduled for Thursday, ice conditions permitting, include Dorothy Ann/Pathfinder (underway at 10 p.m. Wednesday), Joseph L. Block, Algomarine, Saginaw and Joyce L. VanEnkevort/Great Lakes Trader.

The USCG Mackinaw was also hove to in the vicinity of Nine Mile Wednesday night.


Port Reports -  January 8

Duluth, Minn. – Daniel Lindner
ASC's 1,000-foot American Integrity arrived in Duluth at 11:30 on Wednesday morning and docked at Port Terminal for winter layup. The Integrity is the first of the expected 6 ships in Duluth for the winter.

Marquette, Mich. – Rod Burdick
Fleetmates Robert S. Pierson and Michipicoten loaded ore at the Upper Harbor on Tuesday. Pierson's visit was a first since January 2014 and only the third Canadian vessel into Marquette during the shipping season.

Montreal, Que. – René Beauchamp
CWB Marquis arrived in Montreal on Jan. 7 on her delivery trip from China and docked at section 25 at about 6 p.m. Her port of registry is Winnipeg.


Ice stops Madeline Island ferries for winter

1/8 - The Madeline Island Ferry Lines ceased operation after battling thickening ice for a full schedule of trips on Jan. 6. Ice thickness away from the ferry track between Madeline Island and Bayfield, Wisconsin, ranged from six to eight inches. Strong winds forecast for Wednesday helped with the decision. Travel to the mainland will probably resume Thursday when the Town of La Pointe on the island puts its fleet of windsleds into operation. Car travel on a town-funded ice road will open when the ice thickness increases and stabilizes.


Museum offering previews of Great Lakes Shipwreck Festival

1/8 - Detroit, Mich. – Two free preview events are planned in Detroit before the 34th Great Lakes Shipwreck Festival.

The first is Saturday and features historian and dive master Tony Gramer presenting “Tragedy Strikes in Seven Minutes: The Loss of the Steamer Fred McBrier.” Diver Russ Haeberle also will present “Isle Royale: Lake Superior Wreck Divers Paradise.”

A second preview scheduled for Feb. 14 will feature presentations on diving in The Philippines and Dominica in the eastern Caribbean.

Both events will be held at the Dossin Great Lakes Museum on Belle Isle, an island park in the Detroit River.

The Great Lakes Shipwreck Festival is March 7 at Washtenaw Community College in Ann Arbor. Tickets are available online or at the door.


Frozen In #8 – Olau Gorm trapped on lakes when Seaway closed on Dec. 10, 1964

The Danish general cargo carrier Olau Gorm was caught on the Great Lakes when ice forced the closure of the St. Lawrence Seaway on Dec. 10, 1964. The vessel had been inland for one trip in 1964 after two visits to the inland seas in 1963.

Olau Gorm was forced to spend the winter at Toronto and remained there until April 1965 before milder weather allowed a return to the sea.

This vessel was built at Aalborg, Denmark, and was delivered to J. Lauritzen as Greta Dan on April 7, 1952. It was sold to the Olau Line, also a Danish company, on July 30, 1963, and renamed Olau Gorm.

It was resold on July 14, 1970, and moved under the flag of Greece as c) Santa Evdocia. Additional transactions brought the names of d) Athalnikolas in 1973, e) Ayios Nikolas in 1974 and f) Fast Breeze in 1976.

The 4687-gross-ton freighter ran aground in the Red Sea on July 13, 1978, while on a voyage from Piraeus, Greece, to Gizan, Saudi Arabia. The ship was refloated on July 16 and resumed the voyage but the grounding damage was significant and the ship was soon sold for scrap.

It anchored off Gadani Beach, Pakistan, on Sept. 27, 1978, but not beached until January 1979. The vessel was broken up by the Mercantile Trading Co. Ltd.

Skip Gillham


Lookback #417 – Former Labradoc left Montreal as Falcon Crest on Jan. 8, 1989

When the second Labradoc tied up at Montreal on Sept. 22, 1988, its sailing days in the Paterson fleet and under the Canadian flag had come to an end. The ship remained idle for several months, but following a sale to the Genav Maritime Co., it departed the port for Sorel-Tracy as Falcon Crest 26 years ago today. After loading there, the ship headed overseas and a new career on saltwater under the flag of Malta.

Labradoc had been built by the Davie Shipbuilding Co. and launched at Lauzon, QC, on Nov. 24, 1965. The 315-foot-long freighter entered service in April 1966. The ship was diesel powered, able to carry cargoes in the 5,725 tons range or 212,000 bushels of grain.

It served the Paterson fleet on Great Lakes, coastal and some deep-sea routes. In 1969, for example, Labradoc crossed the Atlantic with concentrates for Spain and then returned with steel products from Caen, France, for Montreal, Cleveland and Chicago.

The vessel was almost a casualty crossing Lake Erie on April 6, 1979, when the cargo shifted and this led to a significant list. The crew abandoned the vessel but Labradoc was towed to safety, righted and repaired. It resumed trading on May 29, 1979.

Falcon Crest only saw five more years of service before being sold to Pakistan shipbreakers. It arrived at Gadani Beach on June 14, 1994, and was delivered the next day for dismantling by Iqbal Javes & Co.

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.


Whitefish Point shelters several vessels from winter weather, others delayed by ice

1/7 - Several vessels sought shelter Tuesday evening from northwest winds in the lee of Whitefish Point. Among those at anchor were Joseph L. Block, Kaye E. Barker, Algomarine, American Mariner, Arthur M. Anderson, Saginaw, Victory, Mesabi Miner, Great Lakes Trader/Joyce L. VanEnkevort and Dorothy Ann/Pathfinder. The weather forecast called for wind, snow and bitterly cold wind chill.

Due to ice, the upper river is alternating one way traffic also delaying vessels. USCG Mackinaw was anchored for the night in the lower St. Mars River near Nine Mile Point.


CSL Welland arrives at Montreal, completing maiden voyage

1/7 - Montreal, Que. - Canada Steamship Lines welcomed CSL Welland, the latest addition to its Trillium Class fleet on the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway, as she docked at the Port of Montreal on Jan. 2 at 13:48 EST.

The 36,100 tonne deadweight, Seawaymax gearless bulker's arrival marked the end of a 57-day maiden voyage that took CSL Welland across the East China Sea and Pacific Ocean, through the Panama Canal and up the east coast of North America. Captain Andriy Bondarenko and Chief Engineer Nicolas Lavoie were in command of CSL Welland for the voyage. Rod Jones, CSL Group President and CEO, and Allister Paterson, President of Canada Steamship Lines, were on hand to welcome them and the CSL Welland crew to Canada.

“Captain Bondarenko and his crew safely and skillfully navigated a vessel designed for the Lakes on a demanding transoceanic journey from Yangfan shipyard in China to the Port of Montreal,” said Allister Paterson. “This is a remarkable achievement by a very talented group of seafarers, and it is certainly an inspirational start to the New Year for CSL.”

In preparation for the 2015 Great Lakes shipping season, CSL Welland will undergo alterations to remove the temporary reinforcing structures that made her ocean passage possible.

CSL Welland’s sister ship, CSL St-Laurent, began her maiden voyage from China on Dec. 13, 2014, and is expected in Canada at the end of January.

Like all Trillium Class ships, CSL Welland and CSL St-Laurent are built according to the highest safety, environmental and operational standards, using the most advanced technologies available today. Trillium Class ships use less fuel, reduce emissions significantly, and provide overall operational efficiency to the benefit of customers and the environment alike.



Lakes deep freeze cost economy $705 million and 3,800 jobs

1/7 - Cleveland, Ohio – The seemingly glacial ice that brought shipping on the Great Lakes to a virtual standstill last winter cost the economy more than $700 million and nearly 4,000 jobs and has prompted Lake Carriers’ Association to call for construction of a second heavy icebreaker to partner with the U.S. Coast Guard’s Mackinaw to keep the shipping lanes open in the harshest of conditions.

The winter of 2013/2014 was so brutal that U.S.-flag cargo movement between December 1, 2013 and May 30, 2014, plummeted nearly 7 million tons compared the same period in 2012/2013. At least two steelmakers had to curtail production and some power plants were extremely low on coal. The limestone trade did not resume in earnest until well into April, and U.S.-flag lakers suffered nearly $6 million in damage trying to resupply customers. Eventually three vessels that had not been scheduled to operate last year were fit out to help overcome the shortfall in deliveries during the ice season, but the industry played catch-up the rest of the year.

“I want to stress that Lake Carriers’ Association and our members’ customers deeply appreciate the efforts of the U.S. and Canadian Coast Guards this past ice season,” said James H.I. Weakley, President of the trade association representing U.S.-flag vessel operators on the Great Lakes.

“They are the only reason we were able to move nearly 10 million tons of cargo under such challenging conditions. Still, it is clear that the ice conditions that prevailed last winter call for a reassessment of both nations’ icebreaking fleets. At a minimum, Congress must authorize construction of a twin to the Mackinaw so we can have two high-powered American icebreakers on the Lakes. Another 140-foot-long icebreaking tug must be assigned to the Lakes at least until the service life extension program currently underway for the six existing 140s is completed later this decade.”

Canada has only two icebreakers assigned to the Great Lakes. “Given that there are often as many Canadian lakers in service during the ice season as there are American, Canada should reassess its icebreaking forces. We appreciate that they temporarily moved in some assets to respond to difficult conditions, but it takes time to get icebreakers from the East Coast to the Lakes, and once the Seaway closes, that option is no longer available.”

Weakley noted that Great Lakes basin industries such as steelmaking, power generation, and construction are now geared to receive cargo nearly year-round. “The Soo Locks open on March 25 and close on January 15. After the locks close, iron ore will continue to load out of Escanaba, Michigan, at least until the end of January, often into February. The cement trade on the lower Lakes often resumes about March 1 and iron ore shipments on Lake Michigan and Lake Erie start back up not long after that. Demand for U.S.-flag cargos during periods of ice cover can approach 20 million tons. That’s why the U.S. Coast Guard has nine icebreakers on the Lakes, although one is currently undergoing modernization at the Coast Guard yard in Baltimore and so will be unavailable this ice season.”

A recent study found that the cargo U.S.-flag lakers carry supports nearly 130,000 jobs in the eight Great Lakes states, but an analysis of the past winter determined nearly 4,000 jobs were lost due to the heavy ice. “Make no mistake about it, some economic activity was lost forever because of the difficulties in keeping the shipping lanes open. Steel that had been ordered was not made, which means either some products were not produced or made with foreign steel. Worst yet, some North American products were outright replaced with imports. We estimate the lost business revenue topped $700 million.”

Weakley acknowledged the winter of 2013/2014 was particularly harsh, but warned that there are very few options for customers needing cargo that is blocked by ice. “The reason so many steel mills and power plants are located on the waterfront is so they can benefit from the efficiencies of waterborne commerce. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has estimated that Great Lakes shipping annually saves its customers $3.6 billion compared to the next least costly mode of transportation. But many of these mills and power plants lack rail access. Others have limited rail access, but the railroads have little if any capacity to spare right now. The cost of new rolling stock and rail connections could only be justified by long-term contacts, not by spot market moves to fill a temporary gap in deliveries.”

“During World War II Congress authorized the first icebreaker Mackinaw for Lakes service and that vessel was in operation from 1944 until the new Mackinaw joined the fleet in 2006. While the world has changed much since 1944, the need to move cargo during periods of ice coverage is even greater now than then. We need a twin to the Mackinaw and another 140 to complete the U.S. icebreaking fleet and more Canadian assets on the Lakes.”

Lake Carriers’ Association


Lake Superior 9 inches above normal

1/7 - Duluth, Minn. – Lake Superior rose farther above normal in December and now sits 9 inches above its normal Jan. 1 level, the International Lake Superior Board of Control reported Monday.

The big lake is 11 inches higher than it was on Jan. 1, 2014, and saw its highest December average level since 1996.

Lake Superior dropped 2 inches in December, a month the lake usually drops 3 inches. That lower-than-usual decline comes as December was the 11th consecutive month with above-normal water supply to the big lake, which continues its record-breaking rise from below normal to well-above normal water levels.

Lakes Michigan-Huron have been rising even faster, and now sit 9 inches above their normal Jan. 1 level and a whopping 23 inches higher than Jan. 1, 2014. The level of the lakes remained the same in December, a month they usually drop 2 inches.

The higher water levels have helped the Great Lakes shipping industry recover from a slow start to the season last spring by allowing freighters to carry heavier loads. The shipping season will end Jan. 15 when the Soo Locks close for the winter.

Superior Telegram


Lakes limestone trade down 1.8 percent in 2014

1/7 - Cleveland, Ohio – Shipments of limestone on the Great Lakes totaled 27.1 million tons in 2014, a decrease of 1.8 percent from 2013 and a drop of 2.1 percent compared to the trade’s long-term average. Shipments from U.S. ports dipped 4 percent, but loadings out of Canadian quarries rose 12.5 percent.

The decline lakes-wide largely reflects the significant delays in resuming shipments in the spring. Heavy ice formations covered the Lakes and loadings in April were down nearly 50 percent. Even in May shipments lagged the previous year by 8 percent.

Lake Carriers’ Association


Port Reports -  January 7

Alpena, Mich. – Ben & Chanda McClain
Alpena arrived in port before noon on Sunday. The tugboat Manitou assisted the Alpena into Lafarge. Ice is forming quickly in the bay with the cold temperatures. Alpena loaded cement on Sunday and stayed over for weather overnight. It departed on Monday for Detroit.

Toledo, Ohio
Manistee is in winter layup at the Midwest Terminals Overseas Dock. Algorail arrived at the Ironhead Shipyard on Tuesday to be placed in drydock for its five-year inspection.

Rochester, N.Y. – Tom Brewer
Stephen B. Roman arrived at the Port of Rochester Tuesday afternoon with a load of cement for Essroc. The vessel had to break through ice to get up the river to the dock.

Montreal, Que.
Algoma Montrealais arrived at her winter layup berth in Montreal at 4:20 p.m. Tuesday. She is expected to be scrapped later this year. The vessel was the last steam-powered laker operating under the Canadian flag.


Saginaw River shipping traffic hits 10-year low

1/7 - Bay City, Mich. – If you were held up at an open bascule bridge in Bay City more than a couple times this past year, you might just be unlucky. That's because statistics show Saginaw River shipping traffic fell to its lowest level in 10 years in 2014.

From roughly May through mid-December, 110 ship visits were recorded in the Saginaw River, down from 139 in 2013 and nearly 70 percent fewer than the 347 visits recorded in 2005.

The statistics are kept by Todd Shorkey, a reporter for the website, which tracks shipping activity on the Saginaw River.

"As someone who enjoys watching the vessels and tracking them, it's distressing for me to see this downward trend," Shorkey said. "Obviously, we all want to see the numbers come up."

The decade-long decline has been almost constant with fewer ships visiting year-over-year for nine of the past 10 years. The 139 ship visits recorded in 2013 was up slightly from 2012 when 135 ships visited, according to Shorkey.

The decline in 2014, Shorkey said, can be attributed in part to a shortened shipping season brought on by a brutal winter and late start to spring.

"This year was a really difficult winter because it was such a difficult freeze up last year," explained William Webber, president of the Saginaw River Alliance and owner of the Zilwaukee-based Sargent Docks & Terminal. "The boats ... they were far, far behind to start off with. They lost so many shipping days, and they never caught up."

Aside from the shortened shipping season, Paul Strpko, a sales manager and port facility manager for Fisher Companies, the parent company of Bangor Township-based Bay Aggregate Inc., said the 10-year decline in traffic has a lot more to do with a slowdown in the housing and road construction industries.

Those industries, he said, rely on limestone — a key component of concrete — which tops the list of products shipped along the Saginaw River. In fact, Strpko estimates limestone accounts for 80 percent of all shipments on the Saginaw River.

Webber concurs with Strpko's analysis and noted there are far fewer new roads being constructed than in the past and many resurfacing projects either rely on recycled material from the road itself or involve only minor repairs.

"The (limestone) volumes in the river are half of what they were in 2002, 2004," Webber said. "Everybody's operating at half those values."

Webber said he's encouraged by the recent passage of a comprehensive road construction plan by state lawmakers that includes asking voters in May to approve a 1-cent increase to the state's sales tax to fund road construction projects throughout the state.

He said Michigan limestone producers have a surplus on hand right now and a significant uptick in demand, brought on by new road projects, would be a positive step toward restoring some traffic on the Saginaw River.

Webber said he's hoping for an early start to the 2015 shipping season.

"If we could start an earlier season (it) would be fantastic," he said. "If we're held out until May again, we'll be in the same condition next year or worse, and it'll get exacerbated."

In 2012, Bay Area leaders began discussing whether establishing a port authority for the Saginaw River might help boost business. State Sen. Mike Green, R-Mayville, was among those at the table.

"I caught a little bit of heck about it from local businesses on the river," Green said, noting that his support for the idea is contingent on local communities' willingness to back it.

If created, a Great Lakes Bay Region port authority would be only the second such unit in Michigan. The other is the Detroit/Wayne County Port Authority, created in 1978.

Green said a port authority would work much like a downtown development authority, taxing members and mixing the revenues with federal funds to help boost local business development. The funds could be used to improve river infrastructure, for example, making it easier for ships to move up and down the waterway.

Green said a port authority might not necessarily equal more traffic "It might help them expand, help them update," he said. "It might be something they could put a program together for expanding or cleaning out the river. There's so much you can do, but I don't know if it means more ships up the river."

Webber said most members of the Saginaw River Alliance — a group of local stone dock owners — are against the idea, noting their distaste for a group that would take away their autonomy and possibly impose sales taxes on goods flowing through the area. He said he's open to the idea, but only if it allows business owners enough of a voice.

"There's some good things that could come out of it, but there are some bad things," he said.

Strpko was unequivocal.

"With all the facilities, the ports of entry are privately owned," he said. "A port authority would do nothing but tell those individual investors that have been effective in running the river system for 80 years how to do their business." Strpko said he doesn't expect shipping numbers to ever rebound to levels of 10 years ago, but said traffic should begin to steadily increase again in the next five years. He estimates the Saginaw River could see an uptick of 15 percent per year over that time

He said 10 years from now, shipping might be back in the 250 visits-per-year range, where he expects it to find a new plateau.

He said that rebound is likely to come as a result of an increase in home building, and shipments of agricultural fertilizer. Along those same lines, he sees a future where agribusinesses are increasingly shipping crops, like corn and beans, along the river.

"Agriculture is very strong in Michigan, and there will be a continued strength in construction, just due to the condition of our infrastructure," he said. "Money has to be spent to bring these roads up to par."

Despite the numbers decline of the past decade, Strpko said there are some positive signs for the shipping industry. Specifically, he noted an increase in Great Lakes water levels that resulted in ships hauling about 2,000 tons of material more per vessel in 2014.

Webber is even more optimistic. Between the possibility of increased agricultural exports, river dredging and Michigan's pending road reconstruction deal, he thinks traffic could rebound completely. He cited the late 1970's oil prices as proof: "If you asked them in 1979 and 1980, 'Do you think it'll be booming here in five years?' they'd have said you were absolutely nuts," he said.

Shorkey noted his hope as well that more ships might find the mouth of the Saginaw River again.

"I am confident that the industry will rebound and the numbers will start coming back up, and I base that just on (encouraging numbers) across the Great Lakes and people in the industry I've talked to," Shorkey said. "I believe the numbers will rebound."

Bay City Times


Last trip for former C.C.G. Verendrye

1/7 - Port Colborne, Ont. – The final voyage of the former Canadian Coast Guard vessel Verendrye took place on Jan. 3. It was a short trip under tow of the tug Sea Hound from one dock of International Marine Salvage to their dismantling berth in the outer harbor at Port Colborne.

Verendrye was built by George T. Davie & Sons at Lauzon, Quebec. It was completed for the Government of Canada, Minister of Transport in 1957 and became part of the Canadian Coast Guard in 1962.

The 125-foot-long (overall) by 26-foot, 1-inch-wide vessel was diesel powered and registered at 297 gross tons. It had a cruising range of 2000 miles and was based at Sorel for work on the St. Lawrence as a navigational aids tender.

Verendrye also worked on the Ottawa River and on the Great Lakes. It was laid up at Collingwood in 1986 and decommissioned in 1988.

The vessel was sold to private interests and came down the Welland Canal for Toronto on Dec. 4, 1994. There may have been some thought to rebuilding the vessel as an excursion ship but it remained idle, first along the Keating St. Channel and later near the Essroc Cement dock at the east end of the harbor.

On Nov. 24, 2007, the former Verendrye, with its name painted out, left Toronto under tow of the tug M.R. Kane and spent the winter of 2007-2008 tied up below Lock 1 of the Welland Canal classed as a yacht.

It was later brought up the Welland Canal to Port Colborne and has been moored at the I.M.S. dock in the outer harbor for perhaps seven years. It remained there until being moved early this year and scrapping should not take long.

Skip Gillham (with thanks to Brian Pyke, who noticed the move)


Obituary: Captain Jeremiah “Jerry” Bissette

Captain Jeremiah “Jerry” Bissette, age 84, died Monday, January 5 at the St. Catharines Hospital. He sailed the Great Lakes for 44 years, was Past President and Grandmaster of International Shipmasters Association (Lodge 20), and a member of Holy Rosary Church. The family will receive friends at the Haine Funeral Home and Chapel , 26 Ormond Street South, Thorold on Wednesday from 2-4 and 7-9 pm. Vigil prayers will be held in the funeral home on Wednesday at 8 pm. Funeral liturgy will be celebrated at Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Church (21 Queen St. S., Thorold) on Thursday, January 8 at noon. Rite of Committal to follow. If so desired, donations to Help A Child Smile would be appreciated by the family.


Frozen In #7 – Orient Merchant caught on the lakes for the winter of 1964–1965

The onslaught of cold weather in Dec. 1964 caught four ships on the Great Lakes side of the Seaway. Each had to find a winter berth and wait for spring to reach the Atlantic Ocean. The Greek freighter Orient Merchant was one of a trio of vessels to be docked in Toronto.

Orient Merchant was launched at Dundee, Scotland, on May 23, 1944, as Empire Albion but had been sold to the Government of the Netherlands by the time it entered service as Terborch. It was resold to the Holland-America Line in 1946 and sailed, on their behalf, as Eemdyk until 1960.

The ship began coming through the Seaway in 1960 for the Orient Mid-East Line as Orient Merchant. It made one voyage inland that year and followed with one more in 1962, two in 1963 and 1964 before being caught for the winter.

When the 1965 season got underway, the ship headed back up the lakes to load and, then ran aground off Port Colborne while down bound on April 27. After being refloated, Orient Merchant was repaired at Port Weller and then laid up again at Toronto pending a court settlement. It finally departed as Zambezi later in the year.

Zambezi was sold to Taiwan shipbreakers and arrived at Kaohsiung for dismantling on Nov. 19, 1967.

Skip Gillham


Lookback #416 – Former Ornefjell torpedoed and sunk on Jan. 7, 1943

1/7 - The Fjell Line of Olsen & Ugelstad sent four different ships to the Great Lakes as Ornefjell. The first of these was lost due to enemy action on this date in 1943. This Norwegian company had the vessel built at Porsgrunn, Norway, and it was launched thereon June 5, 1929. The general cargo freighter cost a reported 300,000 krone and the 244-foot, 7-inch-long carrier entered service in October 1929.

The 1,524 gross ton vessel began Great Lakes trading in 1933 and made three trips to the freshwater seas that year. Fjell was beginning to recognize the potential of liner service to the lakes and Ornefjell was one of their early inland traders.

The vessel was sold to E.D. Knudsen, also of Norway, in 1937 and renamed Akabahra. It returned through the old St. Lawrence Canals on at least one occasion before being sold again in 1939.

It was 72 years ago today that a torpedo was sent into the port side of Akabahra while it was on the Mediterranean south of the island of Sardinia. The ship, had left Algiers, Algeria, for Bone, Tunisia, and was carrying steel rails and cross ties. The ship was heavily damaged in the air attack and sank quickly. All 25 sailors on board got off safely but the former Ornefjell went down in position 37.07 N / 4.38 E.

Skip Gillham


A rare lake-effect "Eye" over Lake Erie

1/7 - Buffalo, N.Y. – For nearly three hours Tuesday morning, there was a baby cyclone churning over Lake Erie. It didn't have a name and was about as weak as they come, but it was formed not totally unlike the way a hurricane might over the open ocean.

"It's on a very, very, incredibly small scale," said Dan Kelly, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service. "It's almost like a weak low-pressure system. This just happened to have circulation."

The rare sight was first picked up on radar by the National Weather Service about 7 a.m. off the Lake Erie shoreline. Over the course of Tuesday morning, it slowly drifted up "to the north and east" and petered out near Fort Erie, Ont. about 10 a.m.

"It does happen from time to time," Kelly said, "when you have a band and when you have a small-scale circulation in it."

Just outside of the "eye," winds were likely a little stronger, not unlike a hurricane. Of course, those speeds didn't approach anything close to the 74 mph hurricane force winds, however. It was the length of time the "eye" lasted - which the weather service said was fueled by a "relatively weak flow along Lake Erie" - was what made Tuesday's event unusual.

Buffalo News


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.


Port Reports -  January 6

Soo Locks
Ice delayed traffic at the Soo Locks Monday. The Coast Guard is limiting traffic and forcing some boats to go to anchor, traffic is slowed but continues to move.

Stoneport, Mich. – Denny Dushane
Philip R. Clarke loaded on Sunday and was expected to finish loading at approximately 10 p.m. However, they would remain at the dock due to weather and were expected to depart on Monday at 8 a.m. weather permitting.

Toledo, Ohio – Denny Dushane
The revised boat lineup for the Torco Dock in Toledo now lists the Manitowoc arriving on Monday in the early morning to unload iron ore at Torco. Also expected to arrive on Monday will be the Lewis J. Kuber in the late evening. The James L. Kuber has two trips scheduled, with the first one on Tuesday in the early morning. They are due back again at Torco on Sunday, January 11 during the late evening. All times are subject to change due to weather and ice conditions. The tug Barbara Andrie and a barge still remain in port.

Algoma Montrealais was nearing Trois-Rivieres Monday night on her way to Montreal, where she will lay up prior to being scrapped. She is due at Montreal Tuesday morning. She is the last remaining steam-powered vessel in the Algoma fleet.


Coast Guard will close some waterways Thursday

1/6 - The Captain of the Port Sault Ste. Marie issued passage closings for some Michigan waterways starting 9 a.m. on January 8.

The passage between St. Ignace and Mackinac Island will be closed, as well as the Cheboygan and Bois Blanc Island passage known as South Channel, and Grays Reef Passage located between Grays Reef and Vienna Shoal. Pipe Island Passage, east of Pipe Island Shoal and North of Pipe Island Twins from Watson Reef Light to Sweets Point will also close on January 8.

The Coast Guard reminds all people planning to go out on the ice to carefully plan their activities, use caution while on the ice and to stay away from shipping channels.

9 & 10 News


2014 Seaway saltie recap

1/6 - The St. Lawrence Seaway’s 55th anniversary season ended on December 31, 2014, marking one of its busiest seasons in recent memory. The 2014 shipping season saw an increase both in the number of salties that entered the St. Lawrence Seaway system when compared to the 2013 season and a surge in the number of westbound transits by saltwater vessels at the Eisenhower Lock in Massena, N.Y.

As the 2014 season drew to a close, the total number of saltwater vessels that transited the Eisenhower Lock totaled 222 vessels that made 438 westbound transits through the Eisenhower Lock. That is an increase of 25 vessels when compared to the 2013 season total of 197. Also, the 222 vessels is an increase of 10 when compared to the five-year average from 2009-2013. The 438 westbound transits by vessel is also a huge increase from the 2013 season, when there were 356 transits made by vessel. This represents an increase in transits by 82 when compared to the 2013 transits. The 438 transits by vessel in 2014 is also an increase of 95 transits when compared to the five-year average from 2009-2013.

Some other noteworthy statistics from the 438 transits made by vessel in 2014, it was the first time since the 2007 shipping season that westbound transits through the Eisenhower Lock exceeded 400 or more transits. Also, the 438 transits ties the 1995 season total as the 20th best season for salty transits since 1980. There were also 54 newcomers making their first-ever visits to the Seaway system.

The 54 newcomers are up three vessels when compared to the 2013 season total of 51 newcomers. However the 54 newcomers in 2014 was also a decrease of 14 vessels when compared to the five-year-year average from 2009-13.

In 2014 the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway was delayed until March 31 due to severe ice conditions that had plagued both the Seaway and the Great Lakes. For the first time in recent memory, there were no transits by saltwater vessels during March.

For April, there were 55 transits made by salties. November and December saw the most transits made in recent memory. In November alone, there were 72 transits by vessel and in December there were 35. These two months saw huge increases when compared to the 2013 total of 67 in November and 24 for the month of December. When compared to the five-year average from 2009-13, the 2014 figures for November at 72 transits is an increase of 24, while the December 2014 figure of 35 transits by vessel is an increase of 11 transits on the five-year average from 2009-13.

The 2014 shipping season also saw three vessel renames. The Clipper Mari, which came inland in late April, was later renamed Nordic Mari and returned with that name in June. Hellespont Centurion, which came inland in April, was later renamed Lokholmen and she returned with that name in November. Hellespont Crusader, which came inland in May, was later renamed Larsholmen and returned with that name in June. There were also five vessels that made transits and were later reflagged to other countries. Federal Danube, which came inland in April, along with the Federal Elbe, which also came inland in April, were both reflagged Marshall Islands in the summer. Federal Leda was reflagged from Cyprus to Marshall Islands in 2014. Wigeon, which visited in August under the Cyprus flag, was reflagged to Liberia later in the season.

The 438 transits at the Eisenhower Lock were not the highest or lowest numbers. The highest number of transits happened in the 1980 season with 918 transits, while the lowest number of transits happened in the 2009 season with 260, during the recession. A final 2014 season breakdown of the monthly transits at the Eisenhower Lock shows a huge increase in transits: April - 55, May-47, June-42, July-50, August-42, September-42, October-53, November-72 & December-35. There were no transits in March 2014.

Denny Dushane


Algoeast: The story behind the ship

1/6 - It was reported by “Shipfax” the east coast blog of marine historian M.B. Mackay, that the tanker Algoeast, a regular trader around the Great Lakes since 1977, tied up at Sydney, Nova Scotia, on Christmas Day 2014 ending its career in the Algoma Tankers fleet.

The long-serving tanker was built at Shimonoseki, Japan, in 1976-77, as the available Canadian shipyards were heavily booked with new orders. It was constructed by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and sailed for Canada on Jan. 8, 1977, as the second ship to be named Texaco Brave.

The 430-foot, 6-inch-long by 66-foot-wide tanker was registered at 8,545 gross tons and able to carry 9,500 tons of cargo. Powered by a 5,300 bhp a Burmeister & Wain diesel engine, the ship joined the fleet of Texaco Canada Ltd.

Texaco Brave stopped at Hawaii to load on its way across the Pacific and it was ready for Great Lakes, coastal and Arctic service by the time the Seaway was open for the 1977 season.

On Feb. 10, 1982, the ship got caught in the shifting ice pack on the St. Lawrence, pushed off course and the mast and radar made contact with the bridge over the river at Quebec City.

On Sept. 1, 1986, this tanker came under the management of Societe Sofati/Soconav Ltee. and, a year later, they changed the name to b) Le Brave when Esso Canada Ltd. acquired Texaco assets. Le Brave continued to provide Great Lakes and coastal service and also participated in the summer supply run to Canadian Arctic communities. In 1993-1994, Le Brave was equipped with a new electronic chart display and navigation system as part of a federally supported project. The system proved to be very successful.

When Socanav went out of business, Le Brave tied up at Sorel. Esso still had use for this vessel and it arrived at Halifax on Nov. 26, 1996, and eventually refitted for Imperial Oil service. The red hull was painted blue and the ship was refloated from the local drydock on Jan. 24, 1997. Then, on Feb. 26, 1997, the ship was renamed c) Imperial St. Lawrence (ii).

Imperial St. Lawrence operated mainly on coastal routes, and when Algoma Tankers Ltd. took over the company operations in 1998 the ship was renamed once again, becoming d) Algoeast.

As a single-hulled tanker, the days of Algoeast were numbered due to changing regulations. Algoma had the ship rebuilt at Port Weller Dry Docks in 1999-2000 and Algoeast became a double-hulled tanker and able to continue in Canadian service.

The vessel was occasionally used in winter navigation on the Great Lakes battling icy lakes and rivers to deliver petroleum cargoes from Sarnia to Sault Ste. Marie and elsewhere. In March 25, 2010, Algoeast opened the Welland Canal navigation season as the first down bound trader at Port Colborne.

The vessel is for sale and will likely head overseas for a new career.

Skip Gillham


Marine news casualties and demolitions

1/6 - Marine News, the monthly journal of the World Ship Society, reports the following ships with Great Lakes connections going for scrap in the January 2015 issue.

Seaway Salties:
Captain Adam arrived at Alang, India, on Sept. 22, 2013, and scrapping got underway on Sept. 27. This ship was built at Vigo, Spain, and entered service in 1984 as the Spanish registered Altamira. It first came to the Great Lakes in 1985 and returned later as b) Lex Almendro heading up the Welland Canal with bauxite for Thorold on Oct. 9, 1990. The ship passed downbound with a cargo of iron and steel borings. In the following years it became c) Pearl in 1994 (Greece), d) Pearl I in 1998 (Malta), e) Thalassa 1 in 2002 (Panama), f) Culcinia in 2002 (Antigua & Barbuda), g) Dolce X in 2007 (Panama) before becoming h) Captain Adam in 2011 (Togo).

Elminda, the former Ziemia Tarnowska, arrived at Gadani Beach, Pakistan, on Aug. 28, 2014, with scrapping of the hull commencing on Sept. 6. This vessel was built at Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1985 and began a regular pattern of Seaway service for the Polish Steamship Co. (Polsteam) later that year. Ziemia Tarnowska was the first saltwater ship into the Seaway opening navigation on April 1, 1987 and it repeated that honor on March 26, 1998. It also made the news on Sept. 2, 1988, ramming a dock after losing power at Cleveland. Another loss of power on Oct. 2, 1996, resulted in the ship striking a pier at Sault Ste. Marie. Over the years the vessel's cargoes included steel, bauxite, wheat, sugar and soybeans. The ship was upbound in the Seaway for the last time on Dec. 5, 2006, after having been absent from the Great Lakes since 2003. Ziemia Tarnowska stopped at Oshawa and Toledo before leaving the Seaway for the last time. It was sold and renamed b) Lord G. in 2013 and then became c) Elminda in 2014 before being resold to shipbreakers in Pakistan.

The bulk carrier G. Inebolu dated from 1983 and had been a Seaway caller as a) Bolu coming inland for the first time in 1984. The 505'3” long, Turkish built and Turkish owned vessel was sold and renamed b) G. Inebolu in 2007 and carried this name to the beach at Alang, India. It arrived there for scrapping on Sept. 25, 2014, and work on breaking up the hull began two days later.

Masar Trade was the eleventh name used by this vessel although it carried two different names on two occasions. It came through the Seaway as e) Beeco America, Panamanian flag, in 1986. The 428 foot, 11 inch long general cargo carrier arrived at Alang, India, as k) Masar Trade on Sept. 13, 2014, and scrapping got underway on Sept. 22.

Nesibe E. came inland under its original name of Germa Lionel in 1979. The small 265 foot, 9 inch long cargo carrier had been built that year and was scrapped at Aliaga, Turkey, in 2013. It arrived there as h) Nesibe E. on Sept. 13, and dismantling of the hull got underway the next day. From the time it first came inland in 1979, Germa Lionel had a total of eight names and had operated under the flags of Norway, Liberia, Hungary, Bahamas, Syria and Cambodia before going for scrap.

The Rei, which arrived at Jingiang, China, on Sept. 22, 2013, had been a Seaway trader under six of the eleven names it carried from its time of launching on Feb. 28, 1983. The ship first came inland on Sept. 11, 1983, as a) Fjordnes with Liberian registry. It returned as d) Kamtin in 1990, e) Falknes in 1996, f) Demi Green in 2000 bringing sugar to Toronto, g) Lia in 2001 and finally as h) Krios in 2006. As Lia the ship lost power below the St. Lambert Lock on Oct. 29, 2001, and drifted until a tug was able to provide assistance.

Sakhalin was a regular Seaway caller as a) Ziemia Zamojska of the Polish Steamship Co. It was built at Avallaneda, Spain, in 1985, and had come to the Great Lakes before the end of the year. The 591-foot, 4-inch-long bulk carrier usually handled steel inbound and various grains as it headed back to the sea. It will likely be best remembered for an incident at Chicago on Nov. 4,1993, when the ship struck the raised 106th St. Bridge over the Calumet River while under tow. The corn-laden freighter received a hole in the starboard bow, caused substantial damage to the bridge and created traffic chaos for motorists. On another occasion in November 1996, Ziemia Zamojska was delayed at Antwerp, Belgium, by Greenpeace activists. The vessel last visited the Great Lakes in 2007 and sailed on saltwater routes becoming b) Sakhalin in 2012. It arrived at Gadani Beach, Pakistan, for scrapping on Sept. 5, 2014.

Zakmar had been a Great Lakes trader as a) Alsyta Smits beginning in 1979, the year that the ship was built in Holland. The 274-foot, 7-inch-long Dutch freighter returned with steel as b) Alsydon in 1993 and was now flying the flag of Cyprus. In later years it was registered in Syria, Georgia and the Cook Islands when it was sold for scrap as f) Zakmar in 2014. The vessel arrived at Aliaga, Turkey, on Sept. 22, and was broken up by Kursan Gemi Sokum Ltd.

Great Lakes related:
The tug Herakles towed the Algontario to Aliaga, Turkey, for scrap arriving on August 5, 2011. The small Polish vessel was reported as sold to unspecified breakers in June 2014.

The former Canadian Coast Guard vessel Verendrye is listed in Marine News as arriving at I.M.S. at Port Colborne on Sept. 18, 2013. The ship is known to have been at that location since about 2008 although it could possibly been temporarily moored elsewhere.

Compiled by Rene Beauchamp, Barry Andersen and Skip Gillham


Frozen In #6 – Furman Victory rebuilt at Toledo over 1963-1964

1/6 - Furman Victory was towed upbound through the Welland Canal by the tugs Jean Turecamo and James Battle on Oct. 7, 1963. The destination was Toledo, where the retired World War Two-vintage Victory Ship was slated to undergo a $5 million refit by the American Shipbuilding Co.

The 439-foot, 1-inch-long cargo carrier had been built by the Oregon Shipbuilding Co. and launched at Portland on March 6, 1945. It was completed on April 19, 1945, and saw some service before the war was over.

Furman Victory was transferred to the U.S. Department of Commerce and placed in the reserve fleet. It was retransferred to the U.S. Navy in 1963 and brought to the Great Lakes for conversion to a Fleet Ballistic Missile Submarine Tender.

Renamed U.S.S. Furman (AK-280), the ship departed Toledo for Boston on Oct. 7, 1964, and spent the rest of its time on saltwater. It was later laid up at Beaumont, Texas, and while there was some thought to sinking the ship as an artificial reef for fish, it was reported as sold for scrap and broken up beginning in April 2004.

Skip Gillham


Lookback #415 – Former Gladys Bowater on fire and abandoned on Jan. 6, 1977

1/6 - The British vessel Gladys Bowater was a frequent caller to the Great Lakes in the early years of the Seaway. The vessel operated from coastal locations and came through the waterway on eight occasions in 1959 alone.

The 325-foot-long cargo ship had just been built at Dumbarton, Scotland, and served Bowater Shipping from 1959 into 1972. It made eight more trips inland in 1960, 10 trips in 1965, an even dozen in 1966 and a total of 58 inbound transits of the Seaway to the end of 1967.

It was sold and renamed Gigi in 1972 and then c) Aginor in 1976. Both were Liberian flag concerns. It was 38 years ago today that the ship caught fire under the latter name off southwest Sicily while on a voyage to Algiers, Algeria. The crew abandoned the blazing freighter but it remained afloat, towed to Palermo and declared a total loss.

The hull arrived at Piraeus, Greece, on Feb. 11, 1977, and was laid up unrepaired. However, it was sold later in the year and rebuilt as d) Alexandra for a return to service under the flag of Greece. It became e) Lamyaa in 1984 and was flying the flag of Honduras when it arrived at Gadani Beach, Pakistan, for dismantling on Oct. 10, 1985.

Skip Gillham


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.


Algoeast awaits sale to overseas interests

1/5 - Another Algoma ship has also been removed from Canadian service, pending sale to overseas owners. The coastal tanker Algoeast arrived in Sydney, N.S. Dec. 25 and moved from the government dock to Sydport on Dec. 28.

In 2014 Algoma brought the newer tanker Algoma Hansa under Canadian flag, and with Imperial's refinery in Dartmouth closing, there is apparently not enough work to support this ship anymore. No details are available yet on the ship's new owners, flag or name.

Algoeast was built in 1977 in Japan as Texaco Brave and rebuilt with a double hull in 2000.

Mac Mackay / Shipfax


St. Marys River icebreaking

1/5 - The USCG cutter Mackinaw joined USCG Katmai Bay Sunday in the lower St. Marys River. They are doing track maintenance and standing by for vessel assists.


Help wanted: Unlicensed engineer/QMED

USGS is seeking a Marine Machinery Repairer (MMR) to work aboard one of the research vessels stationed out of the USGS Cheboygan Vessel Base in Cheboygan, Michigan. The position description and application instructions may be viewed at USAJOBS announcement number ATL-2015-0198. The announcement will close 01/09/2015.


Frozen In #5 – Montrose was rebuilt at Toledo in 1962-1963 after sinking in a collision

The British freighter Montrose sank beneath the Ambassador Bridge on the Detroit River following a collision with the barge ABL 502. The latter, loaded with cement clinker, was being pushed by the tug B.H. Becker when the accident occurred on July 30, 1962.

The 440-foot-long Montrose had been built at Sunderland, England, in 1961 and made one trip through the Seaway that year. It made another early in 1962 and was on its second inland voyage of the season when it sank on its side shortly after clearing the Detroit Terminal on a voyage between Marseilles, France, and Chicago. All 41 sailors on board were rescued.

Montrose was refloated by the salvagers Merritt, Chapman & Scott on Nov. 9, 1962, and arrived at Toledo, under tow, on Nov. 19 for winter repair work.

The vessel was sold, rebuilt as Concordia Lago and cleared the Great Lakes in 1963. It operated in Norwegian and then Greek flag service into 1981. It was renamed c) Lago in that year and sold for shipbreakers in 1982 clearing Colombo, Sri Lanka, for the scrapyard on May 16, 1982.

The destination for the last trip was Gadani Beach, Pakistan, and the ship was beached there on Oct. 7, 1982. Scrapping began on Nov. 17, 1982, and was carried out by Tawakkal Ltd.

Skip Gillham


Lookback #414 – Gleneagles caught fire during winter work on Jan. 5, 1969

The Canada Steamship Lines bulk carrier Gleneagles spent considerable time in Port Colborne over the years. The vessel passed through the newly built, but not yet officially opened Fourth Welland Canal for the first time on July 8, 1932, carrying grain from Fort William to Kingston and was also engaged in the coal trade to Hamilton. In 1932 alone, the ship made 31 trips through the canal.

Gleneagles also spent a few winters in Port Colborne and sustained about $50,000 in fire damage there 46 years ago today. The blaze broke out during winter work on Jan. 5, 1969, and caused damage to an engineer's cabin, the galley and dining room. This was repaired in time for the new shipping season.

Gleneagles also hit the ship arrester in Lock 8 at Port Colborne on July 8, 1975, delaying navigation until the damaged equipment was fixed. Then, on April 13, 1977, the boom broke while loading stone below Lock 8 and it took three weeks to repair the damage and allow the ship to resume trading.

Gleneagles was built at Midland in 1925 and spent 53 years in the Canada Steamship Lines fleet. It joined Dale Transports as Silverdale in 1978 and continued as part of their fleet until the crew was paid off at Windsor on Nov. 10, 1983.

Tugs moved Silverdale from its lay-up berth to the Confederation Coal Dock on June 2, 1984, and the ship was scrapped there in the months ahead.

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.


Port Reports -  January 4

Marquette, Mich. – Rod Burdick
As many as six vessels were at the Upper Harbor from late Friday evening until early Saturday morning. At LS&I, Mesabi Miner unloaded coal and fleet mate Herbert C. Jackson loaded ore while Michipicoten, Lewis J. Kuber, James L. Kuber and Pathfinder were at anchor, waiting to load ore.

St. Marys River
John B. Aird and Indiana Harbor were beset in ice in the upbound channel near the northern tip of Neebish Island on Saturday. USCG Katmai Bay headed down for an assist, and by evening the vessels had been freed.

Stoneport. Mich. – Denny Dushane
John G. Munson remained at Stoneport on Friday, as the loading was delayed by weather. They continued loading Saturday and were expected to depart around 1 p.m. The Philip R. Clarke was also set to arrive on Saturday in the early evening to load.

Sturgeon Bay, Wis. – Jim Conlon
Early Friday afternoon the Algoma Central Corp. vessel Algolake came into Bayship for winter layup. She was assisted in from Sherwood Point by the Selvick tugs Jimmy L and Mary Page Hannah.

Toledo, Ohio – Denny Dushane
The barge James L. Kuber and tug Victory were expected to arrive to unload iron ore at the Torco Dock Sunday in the early evening. Due at Torco Monday will be the barge Lewis J. Kuber and tug Olive L. Moore, expected to arrive in the early morning along with the Manitowoc. Rounding out the schedule will be a return visit on Saturday, January 10 by the barge James L. Kuber and tug Victory in the early afternoon. The tug Barbara Andrie with a barge remains in port. American Valor also remains in long-term layup near the Lakefront Docks.

Rochester, NY – Tom Brewer
Stephen B. Roman departed Rochester Saturday morning after unloading cement at the Essroc Terminal.


2014 new Seaway salties recap

1/4 - C As the 2014 Great Lakes/Seaway shipping season ended on December 31, the Gibralter-flagged tanker Sten Bergen was the last outbound transit by a saltwater vessel. The last westbound transit made by a saltie was on Christmas Day by the Antigua/Barbuda flagged Active. Both were newcomers in 2014. The season saw 54 new saltwater vessels making their first visits to the Great Lakes/Seaway system at the Eisenhower Lock in Massena, N.Y.

On the list of new vessels were Active, Adfines Sea, Adfines Star, Albanyborg, Ara Rotterdam, Atlantic Power, BBC Chile, BBC Kibo, BBC Switzerland, BBC Xingang, Beatrix, Blue Phoenix I, Charlotte C, Deltuva, Diana, Dimitrios K, Duzgit Dignity, Duzgit Endeavour, Ebony Ray, Edzard Schulte, Fairchem Yuka, Fionia Swan, Flinter America, Floragracht, Florijngracht, Fortunagracht, Fritz, Harbour Krystal, HHL Elbe, Kirkeholmen, Larsholmen, Lokholmen, Lugano, MCT Breithorn, Merwedegracht, Morgenstond I, Nilufer Sultan, Nordic Mari, Olza, Pacific Dawn, Peter Ronna, Pochard S, Prosna, Reestborg, Reggeborg, Sea Racer, Selandia Swan, Skawa, Songa Challenge, Songa Peace, Sten Bergen, Sundaisy E, Tina Theresa and the Transhawk. Three of the new visitors, Nordic Mari, Larsholmen and Lokholmen, had visited in 2014 under previous names. Nordic Mari visited in 2014 as the Clipper Mari, Larsholmen had visited as the Hellespont Crusader, while the Lokholmen had visited as the Hellespont Centurion during the 2014 season.

Denny Dushane


Frozen In #4 – Sweetwater spent the winter on the lakes after grounding Sept. 29, 1959

The fourth saltwater ship to spend the winter of 1959-1960 on the Great Lakes was the T-2 tanker Sweetwater. This ship went aground in the Amherstburg Channel of the Detroit River, near Bob-Lo Island, on Sept. 29, 1959. It was holed aft and the engineroom was flooded. The vessel was still stuck on Oct. 2 but, after being refloated, it was towed to Detroit and had arrived by Oct. 4.

On June 18, 1960, Sweetwater departed Detroit under tow of the tug Marion Moran and reached Baltimore on July 9. It was taken to the Bethlehem Shipyard for survey. The news was not good. The ship was considered too badly damaged to warrant the cost of repairing the hull so it was declared a total loss, sold to the Boston Metals Corp. of Baltimore and resold to Italian shipbreakers.

One last trip remained and the World War Two vintage tanker cleared Baltimore July 26, 1961, under tow of the tug Praia Grande. They arrived at La Spezia, Italy, on Aug. 30, 1961, where Sweetwater was broken up.

The tanker had been built at Mobile, AL and completed on Nov. 13, 1943. It saw some wartime service delivering critical fuel supplies and was then sold for commercial use in 1948. It was operating under Liberian registry when it came to the Great Lakes for the grain trade and had previously called at Duluth and the Canadian Lakehead. Sweetwater was on its third inland voyage of the 1959 season when it got stuck on the lakes for the winter of 1959-1960.

Skip Gillham with thanks to Skip Meier, Bill Schell and Dr. William Lafferty for their assistance.


Lookback #413 – Federal Miramichi lost power in high winds on Jan. 4, 2012

It was three years ago today that the engine of the Federal Miramichi failed as the ship was navigating the English Channel in nasty weather. The vessel, a regular Seaway caller, was on a voyage from Paranagua, Brazil, to St. Petersburg, Russia, with 22,900 tons of urea on board.

The 607-foot-long bulk carrier was located 12.8 miles northwest of Guernsey and French authorities were concerned that the ship could be blown ashore on their coast in the 40 knot winds. They sent out the tug Abeille Liberte and were able to tow the powerless ship to the safety of Cherbourg.

Federal Miramichi was soon repaired and back to work. It had been built at Guangzhou, China, and completed in 2005. It began Seaway trading the next year on May 17, headed up bound through the St. Lambert Lock for Hamilton to deliver a cargo of steel. It was back again on July 25 with more steel for Hamilton and it loaded grain at Toledo the first time and then Duluth on the second trip for overseas delivery.

The ship returned to the Great Lakes later in the 2012 season and had made 13 inland voyages through 2013 while on charter to Fednav of Montreal.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  January 4

Lay-up list updated


Today in Great Lakes History -  January 4

On January 4, 1978, IRVING S. OLDS was involved in a collision with the steamer ARMCO while convoying in heavy ice in the Livingstone Channel of the lower Detroit River. The OLDS hit a 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.


CSL Welland arrives in Montreal; CSL St-Laurent on the way

1/3 - CSL Welland, the latest of two new Trillium-class bulkers built in China for Canada Steamship Lines arrived in Montreal on its maiden voyage from the shipyard on January 2. CSL Welland departed from the Yangfan Shipyard in Zhoushan Island, China on November 5, 2014 and arrived at the Pacific entrance of the Panama Canal on December 16. They were finally given permission to transit the canal during the evening of December 19, 2014. CSL Welland will be spending the winter laid-up at Montreal, Quebec, at Section 29.

Meanwhile, CSL St-Laurent, a sistership and fleetmate to the CSL Welland, is make steady progress on her maiden voyage from China to Canada. The vessel departed from the Yangfan Shipyard on December 13 with a stop on December 19 for fuel in Davao, Philippines. As of January 2 the vessel was heading across the Pacific and was Northeast of Papua New Guinea and Southwest of Hawaii.

Denny Dushane


Algoma’s latest, CWB Marquis, loads first cargo at Port Cartier

1/3 - CWB Marquis, the third of eight new Equinox-class vessels built in China at the Nangtong Heavy Industries Shipyard in Nantong City, arrived in Port Cartier, Quebec, during the evening of January 1 to load its first cargo of iron ore.

CWB Marquis had departed from the Nantong Heavy Industries Shipyard in Nantong City on November 5 and arrived at the Pacific entrance of the Panama Canal on December 14. It was given clearance to transit the Canal in the evening of December 16.

While the CWB Marquis may be the third Equinox-class ship to join Algoma Central Corporation's growing fleet of new vessels from China, she is also the first of two vessels built for the CWB Inc., the former Canadian Wheat Board. The other will be CWB Strongfield, expected in the spring. Both vessels will be managed by Algoma Central Corporation. Each will be deployed mostly in the grain and iron ore trades, joining two other Equinox vessels, Algoma Equinox delivered in late 2013 and Algoma Harvester, delivered in the summer of 2014.

In addition to the four Equinox-class gearless bulk carriers, there will also be four new self-unloaders joining the Algoma fleet between 2015 and 2016: Algoma Conveyor, Algoma Niagara, Algoma Sault and a fourth yet to be named self-unloader.

Denny Dushane


Coast Guard launches Operation Taconite icebreaking effort

1/3 - Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. – U.S. Coast Guard Sector Sault Ste. Marie commenced Operation Taconite Friday morning in response to developing ice conditions in the commercial ports of Western Lake Superior and along the St Marys River. Before ice impedes commercial navigation, several icebreakers were assigned to the region.

USCGC Alder was assigned to manage the ice breaking needs of Duluth, Minn. and Superior, Wis. USCGC Katmai Bay will provide ice breaking services in the St Marys River. The Canadian Coast Guard Ship Samuel Risley is also lending assistance in the river as they make their way to Thunder Bay, Ont. In the coming days as ice growth expands on the Great Lakes, additional Coast Guard ice breakers will join the operation.

Operation Taconite is the Coast Guard’s largest domestic icebreaking operation, encompassing Lake Superior, St. Marys River, the Straits of Mackinac and all of Lake Michigan. In the coming weeks, certain waterways may close after due consideration is given to the protection of the marine environment, the need for cross channel traffic (e.g. ferries) and the safety of the island residents; who in the course of their daily business use naturally formed ice bridges for transportation to and from the mainland.

Currently there are no channel closures. However the implementation of Operation Taconite does place additional measures on commercial shipping. These measures include restricting tanker transits to daylight only in the presence of ice, reducing speeds by 2 miles per hour in various locations, and requiring additional voice and position reporting points throughout the operation’s area of responsibility.


Port Reports -  January 3

Marquette, Mich. – Rod Burdick
Mesabi Miner became the first vessel into Marquette's Upper Harbor for 2015 when she arrived early Friday morning to unload coal.

Stoneport, Mich. – Denny Dushane
John G. Munson loaded on Friday and was expected to depart around 7:30 p.m. Due in Saturday will be the Philip R. Clarke, arriving in the early evening.

Sarnia, Ont. – Berry Hiscocks
The tanker Algoma Hansa has been tied up at the Sidney Smith Dock in Sarnia since approximately December 19. Earlier this week a modular construction office was delivered dockside and Friday there were two small cranes lifting materials to the deck –welders and scaffolding and so on. There is already scaffolding on the bow of the vessel surrounding the forward mast lights.

Toledo, Ohio – Denny Dushane
The barge James L. Kuber and tug Victory are expected to arrive on Sunday in the early evening to unload iron ore at the Torco Dock. Also due at Torco will be the barge Lewis J. Kuber along with the tug Olive L. Moore, expected to arrive on Monday in the early morning. Manitowoc is due at Torco on Monday in the early morning. The tug Barbara Andrie with a barge also remains in port as of Friday.

Rochester, NY – Tom Brewer
Stephen B. Roman arrived Friday afternoon with a load of cement for the Essroc Terminal.


Frozen In #3 – Late season grounding kept Vilja inland over the winter of 1959 – 1960

The Norwegian freighter Vilja came to the Great Lakes late in 1959. The 442-foot, 9- inch-long vessel had been built at Gothenborg, Sweden, and launched on Sept. 24, 1941. But, due to World War Two, the ship was not completed until August 1945.

Vilja sailed on saltwater routes until it headed into the Great Lakes during the first year of Seaway operation. The vessel loaded soybeans at Sarnia and Toronto but ran aground after losing its way in fog on Nov. 29, 1959.

The ship was stranded in the Brockville Narrows and not refloated until Dec. 13 after some of the cargo was lightered and the hull patched. By the time the ship was floating again, the Seaway was closed for the season and Vilja spent the winter at Prescott before returning to the sea in 1960.

The vessel was resold within Norway in 1961 and renamed b) Bingo. It became Silver Hope for the Bright Greek Sky Shipping Co. SA in 1969 under the flag of Greece. A year later it joined the Silver Hope Shipping Co. Ltd. and was re-registered in Cyprus. The ship operated until a sale to Taiwan shipbreakers. Silver Hope arrived at Kaohsiung on July 12, 1974, and was broken up for scrap by the Long Jong Industry Co.

Skip Gillham


Lookback #412 – Hamburg Maru arrived at Kaohsiung, Taiwan, for scrapping on Jan. 3, 1980

Japanese-flag freighters were once very common on the Great Lakes. They came inland in large numbers during the early years of the Seaway. One of those visitors was the Hamburg Maru.

The 494-foot, 5-inch-long general cargo vessel was built by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and launched at Kobe, Japan, on Oct. 10, 1957. It was completed in December and joined Osaka Shosen K.K. The ship moved to Mitsui O.S.K. Lines Ltd. in 1964.

The vessel first came to the Great Lakes with two trips in 1965, returned twice more in 1966 and once in 1967.

Hamburg Maru never changed its name or flag of registry. After 23-years of service, the freighter was sold to Taiwanese shipbreakers. The ship arrived at Kaohsiung for dismantling on Jan. 3, 1980, 35 years ago today. It was broken up by the Chen Shu Hwa Enterprise Co. beginning on Jan. 14, 1980.

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

Lake Michigan
On New Year’s Day, Algolake was upbound off Manitowoc, Wis. with a destination of Sturgeon Bay.

Manitowoc Wis. – Korey and Will G
Great Republic was anchored outside Manitowoc on Friday evening due to the weather.

Stoneport, Mich. – Dennu Dushane
Arthur M. Anderson loaded at Stoneport on New Year's Day and was expected to depart around 6 p.m. At anchor and waiting to load was the John G. Munson. Of note, this could be a record to the latest that Stoneport has remained opened and loaded vessels in any shipping season.

Owen Sound, Ont. – Paul Martin
Saginaw arrived at Owen Sound and unloaded grain on Tuesday. She departed but went to anchor in the Sound off Balmy Beach due to high winds in the Cove Island passage off Tobermory. She remained there on New Year's Day.

Toledo, Ohio – Denny Dushane
The tug Victory and barge James L. Kuber are expected to arrive in Toledo on Sunday in the early evening. They will be the first vessel to arrive in Toledo for 2015. Lewis J. Kuber is due to arrive at Torco on Monday in the early morning followed by the Manitowoc. Rounding out the schedule will be a return visit by the James L. Kuber on Sunday, January 11 during the early morning. Tug Barbara Andrie with a barge remains in port at this time possibly for winter lay-up.

The new CSL Welland was approaching Les Escoumins in the St. Lawrence on New Year's morning doing just over 9 knots on her way to Montreal. Meanwhile Algoma Montrealais was still at anchor preparing to unload for the final time at Baie Comeau.


Frozen In #2 – Theodoros A. seized by the authorities in November 1959

The Panamanian freighter Theodoros A. was on its second trip to the Great Lakes when it was seized by United States Marshals on Nov. 8, 1959. The vessel was on a voyage carrying grain from Port Arthur, Ontario, to Venezuela when the authorities stepped in due to accumulation of a reported $100,000 in debts.

The vessel was taken in tow but grounded twice while going to a dock to unload the $250,000 cargo. The Greek crew was sent home and the ship was sold at Detroit, via public auction, to pay the creditors.

The winning bid came from National Sand & Gravel and Theodoros A. spent the winter of 1959 – 1960 at Lorain, Ohio. It was resold to Seaforth Navigation and re-registered in Panama as f) Macuto in 1960.

Macuto finally departed the Great Lakes in 1960 only to be seized again at Montreal since the cost of the inbound tolls through the Seaway had not been paid.

Macuto did not last much longer. It was sold to Italian shipbreakers and arrived at La Spezia for dismantling on Sept. 4, 1960. However, it is reported that the ship was then resold to a British filmmaker who needed a World War One vintage steamship for a scene about a vessel being torpedoed in the Irish Sea.

This was indeed a World War One vintage vessel having been built at Oakland, CA in 1918. It served the U.S. Shipping Board as a) Gov. John Lind and then several American owners under the same name.

The 320-foot-long freighter moved under the flag of Italy as b) Vittorin in 1947, c) Concetta in 1954 and d) Vallecrosia in 1956 before becoming e) Theodoros A. in 1958.

Skip Gillham


Lookback #411 – Mammoth Scan heeled over and sank on Jan. 2, 1981

The heavy-lift vessel Mammoth Scan had a short career. The 311 foot, 8 inch long by 59 foot, 4 inch wide vessel was launched at Leer, West Germany, on Sept. 24, 1977, and completed before the end of the year.

The ship served under the flag of Denmark and visited the Great Lakes for the first time in 1979.

On Oct. 15, 1980, Mammoth Scan was unloading a heavy lift cargo”at Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, when the vessel heeled over and settled in shallow water. The hull was righted and refloated on Oct. 28 and in need of repairs.

The tug Groenland took the ship under tow on Nov. 13, 1980, and headed back to the shipyard at Leer. It made good progress until the towline parted in a storm on the Mediterranean off the coast of Algeria on Dec. 28, 1980.

Mammoth Scan took on a severe list but they were able to get the vessel to Malaga Roads off the coast of Spain, 34-years ago today. The 45-degree list worsened and the ship heeled over and sank as a total loss on Jan. 2, 1981. It's position was listed as 36.38 N / 04.15 W.

Skip Gillham


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.


Final funding secured to update Duluth docks

1/1 - Duluth, Minn. – The long-awaited $16 million rebuild and expansion of the port of Duluth’s Docks C and D will begin at the end of May.

“We’re really excited about it,” said Deborah DeLuca, the government and environmental affairs director for the Duluth Seaway Port Authority, whose Clure Public Marine Terminal rests across a slip from the 28-acre area encompassing Docks C and D. “This is a dock that’s been, for the past 20 years, underutilized or vacant. To put it back to productive use as a marine dock and terminal sets the table for us to attract additional cargo sent through this port.”

A $990,000 contamination cleanup grant secured last month from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development will be matched by the Port Authority and allow for the $16 million project to commence with site cleanup.

The site has been home to a sawmill and a grain elevator and, more recently, was used as a yard to store wind power equipment in transit through the port. The project, much of it funded by the federal Department of Transportation, will include stabilizing the docks with the installation of new steel pilings for a new dock wall.

Additional rehabilitation work will include a new dock surface, or deck, fit for heavy-lift equipment; the addition of a new roll-on, roll-off dock; the dredging of adjacent waters to seaway depth; enhanced security for the area; and the installation of greater truck and rail access points, including turnouts onto the property from the adjacent Canadian National and Burlington Northern rail lines.

“It enhances us as an intermodal facility,” said DeLuca, who added that the Port Authority will, at least initially, operate Docks C and D.

DeLuca called site cleanup “phase one of the redevelopment of the site.”

The cleanup will focus on polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs, and metals still found in what DeLuca called “hot spots” on the site. Some of the pollutant material will be excavated and disposed of off-site, while other areas have been approved by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to be capped. DeLuca described the capping as geogrid fabric placed over the hot spots and covered with clean fill dirt.

“It’s protective of human health and the environment,” she said. “All exposure pathways are interrupted; they’re no longer there.”

DeLuca praised DEED for helping to pay for the cleanup as part of $4 million in grants the state agency announced last week.

“It’s not at all their normal kind of project,” DeLuca said. “Most are offices and warehouses in the Twin Cities, even light industrial up here. This is something different for them, putting a dock back into productive service. They saw the value in it for Duluth and the region.”

In announcing the grants, DEED Commissioner Katie Clark Sieben said in a release that “DEED’s Contamination Cleanup Grant Program has shown solid performance in stimulating the economic development and helping to generate thousands of jobs in Minnesota.”

The 21-year-old program has reclaimed more than 3,000 acres of blighted property, Clark Sieben said.

DeLuca said it’s estimated that the project will create up to a dozen jobs once Docks C and D are up and running in the fall of 2016. Most positions will be for dock workers, with commensurate managerial and clerical positions. DeLuca also was quick to point out the construction jobs that will be created by the revitalization effort.

When major funding for the project was secured in fall 2013, U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan called it a “once-in-a-generation opportunity to renovate and revitalize our essential Port of Duluth-Superior, making the port and the city of Duluth more competitive by expanding the number of shippers, diversity of cargo, and volume of shipments in and out of the harbor.”

DeLuca agreed, saying simply, “This project will increase shipping through the port.”

Duluth News Tribune


Ferry gets stuck in ice while taking passengers to Mackinac Island

1/1 - St. Ignace, Mich. – A ferry that takes people to and from Mackinac Island got stuck in the ice Wednesday morning. According to an Arnold Line general manager, the ferry had 56 people on board when it got stuck a little after 8 a.m.

On a normal day, the boat should have arrived at the island from St. Ignace by 8:35 a.m. but instead arrived just before 10:30 a.m.

The night before, the water was completely clear but Wednesday, ice drifted into the area. The captain had to maneuver the boat by backing up and going forward multiple times to get the boat out of the ice.

"We spent about an hour back and forth back and forth," said Terry Foley, captain. "Wind was hard the ice was pushing you around and couldn't get the boat to turn the way I wanted it to because the winds and the ice were pushing it."

The last time an Arnold boat got stuck was three years ago and the Coast Guard had to come and help. Arnold usually halts its service in the winter depending on the weather.

Up North Live


Port Reports -  January 1

Toledo, Ohio - Denny Dushane
The Lewis J. Kuber is expected to arrive in Toledo to unload iron ore at the Torco Dock on Saturday, January 3 in the late afternoon. Manitowoc is due at Torco on Sunday, January 4 in the late morning to be followed by the James L. Kuber also on January 4 in the late afternoon. Lewis J. Kuber returns on Friday, January 9 at Torco in the late evening and rounding out the schedule will be the James L. Kuber returning to Torco to unload on Saturday, January 10 in the late morning hours. Both the CSX Coal Dock and the Midwest Terminal Stone Dock are closed for the season. American Valor remains in long-term layup near the Lakefront Docks. Tug Barbara Andrie with a barge was in port at the time of this report.

Port Weller, Ont.
Algoma Enterprise was placed in the Port Weller Drydock at noon Wednesday with assistance from Vigilant 1. She will undergo winter repairs there.

Prescott, Ont. - Joanne N. Crack
Our last ship of the season sailed through at 9:52am, being the Sten Bergen, oil/chemical tanker built in 2009 and flagged Gibraltar. Owned/managed by Rederiet Stenersen AS, Bergen, Norway, headed down with an eventual destination of Amsterdam, Netherlands.


Algoma Progress: The story behind the boat

The self-unloader Algoma Progress delivered its last cargo of coal from Toledo to Hamilton and, after unloading, passed up the Welland Canal for the last time on Dec. 30. The vessel tied up at the I.M.S. dock in the outer harbor at Port Colborne and will be broken up for recycling in the months ahead.

It has been just over 46 years since the vessel made its first trip, also up the Welland Canal. The ship had been built by Port Weller Dry Docks of St. Catharines, Ontario. The keel was laid on June 5, 1967, the vessel was floated off the drydock on July 8, 1968, commissioned on July 27 and headed up the Welland Canal for the first time on Aug. 23, 1968. The first cargo, like the last, was coal but the initial shipment, which came aboard at Conneaut rather than Toledo, was delivered to Toronto.

The 730-foot-long by 75-foot-wider self-unloader was registered at 21,436 gross tons and 16,608 net tons. It was powered by two Rushton Hornsby diesel engines and had a number of new features. Aluminum, rather than steel, was used for the hatch covers to reduce weight and a single cargo hold, like that on Canadian Century, made for easier cleaning. At the time Canadian Progress was the largest deadweight self-unloader on the Great Lakes.

As a result, the ship set a number of cargo records. These included 32,016 tons of coal from Conneaut to Courtright in Sept. 1969, 26,190 tons of iron ore from Sept-Iles to Lackawanna in Nov. 1969, 32,435 tons of coal from Ashtabula to Courtright in May 1970 and 1,152,000 bushels of barley from Duluth to Trois Rivieres in June 1970. A Lake Erie record of 35,075 tons of coal crossed from Ashtabula to Nanticoke on June 14, 1972 and the ship took on 33,862 tons of coal in a record 8 hours, 10 minutes at Conneaut for Courtright on June 8, 1973.

On May 26, 1983, Canadian Progress unloaded iron ore directly into the American Republic at Cleveland and was the first self-unloader to self-unloader transfer there for Jones & Laughlin Steel.

The ship did not escape its travels throughout the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence system unscathed. There was a fire in the engine room during lay-up at Toronto on Jan. 4, 1973, and a grounding in the St. Lawrence five miles east of Ogdensburg, NY while upbound with iron ore for South Chicago on April 23, 1985.

The ship later stranded on Ballard's Reef on Dec. 11, 1988, while dodging a tug-barge combination. It was carrying coal at the time and had to be lightered before floating free again on Dec. 14.

Two Caterpillar diesel engines were installed at Sarnia over the winter of 1989-1990 and the unloading system was upgraded and computerized at Port Colborne during the winter of 1992-1993.

On March 31, 1989, Canadian Progress opened the navigation season at Port Colborne and was the first ship down bound in the Welland Canal. It also opened the 1993 season at Port Colborne on April 1 and was also the first ship of the year into Hamilton. Finally, on March 20, 2008, Canadian Progress participated in the annual “Top Hat” ceremony at Lock 3 in St. Catharines as the first upbound traveler through the Welland Canal system.

Canadian Progress handled a variety of aggregates over the years with coal and taconite ore often being found on board but the ship also carried stone, salt and a variety of grains. The salt trade kept the vessel busy into February of the 2004-2005 season.

When Upper Lakes Shipping sold its vessels to the Algoma Central Corporation in 2011, the ship was renamed Algoma Progress and served the new owners, as it had the original owners, well. The ship finished the 2014 season trading throughout the Great Lakes and down the St. Lawrence.

Late in 2014, Algoma Progress was sold to International Marine Salvage and made its final journey, under power, on Dec. 30. The ship will be dismantled during 2015.

Skip Gillham


Frozen In #1 – Jackson Princess remained on Great Lakes in 1959 – 1960

Not all of our seasonal saltwater visitors to the Great Lakes make it back to the Atlantic. Some were forced to spend the winter on our inland seas. This begins a series on the Seaway-era saltwater ships that did not make it back to Montreal before navigation ended.

The small tanker Jackson Princess first came to the Great Lakes in 1959. The vessel was owned by L.A. Jackson (Shipping) and operated as part of the Reoch fleet on behalf of the Canadian Vegetable Oil Company.

The ship carried a British crew and often operated between Lake Ontario and the East Coast carrying soybean oil. A lack of contracts resulted in the ship spending the winter of 1959 – 1960 at Hamilton.

This vessel was built at Glasgow, Scotland, and completed in June 1928 as a) Pass of Ballater. The 786-gross-ton British flag tanker was owned by the Bulk Oil Steamship Co. Ltd. It was sold to French interests and renamed b) Raffinage in 1934 but returned to Bulk Oil as c) Pass of Ballater in 1938.

The ship survived war-time service and became Jackson Princess in 1959. It was later laid up until sold and refurbished at Port Dalhousie in 1962. The vessel was renamed e) Holyrood Princess in 1963 and saw some service under the flag of Bahamas.

Following a sale to Spanish shipbreakers, the vessel arrived at Vigo, Spain, in July 1971, for dismantling.

Skip Gillham


Lookback #410 – Great Western entered service on Jan. 1, 1867

Canada was not yet a nation when the rail car ferry Great Western entered service on Jan. 1, 1867. The ship had been fabricated on the River Clyde and the 10,878 pieces were shipped to Windsor, Ontario, for assembly. The "puzzle" had been put together and the ship went to work 148 years ago today.

Great Western had two tracks on deck and could carry 12 rail cars. At 220 feet in length, this was the largest iron or steel ship on the Great Lakes at the time and made, for that era, a great icebreaker.

The vessel first served the Great Western Railway carrying rail cars across the Detroit River between Windsor and Detroit. It moved to the Grand Trunk Railway in 1882 and, after 1912, worked as the spare boat.

The ship was sold in 1923 and converted to a sand and gravel barge for work in the Windsor area. It had several subsequent owners and operated around the Canadian Lakehead for United Towing and Salvage beginning about 1941. It also saw some service beginning about 1957 in the construction of the St. Lawrence Seaway but was dropped from Canadian registry in 1965.

Skip Gillham


Happy New Year, best wishes for 2015.
As we enter our 20th year of operation we hope to get back on track with the Weekly Updates and News Photo Gallery. We are in the process of a complete redesign of the site and hope to have the project back on track for launch in the spring, thanks for your support.


Updates -  January 1

Lay-up list updated


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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