Great Lakes & Seaway Shipping News Archive

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Newest U.S. warship travels Welland Canal

11/30 - St. Catharines, Ont. – America’s newest warship, USS Milwaukee, made its maiden voayge through the Welland Canal Saturday.

The littoral combat ship was commissioned Sunday, Nov. 21, in Wisconsin, and made a three-day stop in Detroit, en route to the Atlantic Ocean. It was met by hundreds of people as it entered the canal at Port Colborne at about 10 a.m. Saturday.

According to the America’s Navy website, the ship has a San Diego-based crew of 104 people. It is expected to be in service for at least a quarter-century. USS Milwaukee has a sister ship, USS Detroit, which will be commissioned in Detroit next year.

The website says the ship is to head south along the East Coast to the Panama Canal then to the port of San Diego.

St. Catharines Standard


Port Reports -  November 30

Manitowoc Wis. – Korey G
Bradshaw McKee and barge St Marys Conquest paid a visit to Manitowoc to unload cement Saturday afternoon and departed in the late hours.


CCGS Samuel Risley participates in joint firefighting training

11/30 - Parry Sound, Ont. – They say communication is key, and that can’t be more true for firefighters. Last Monday evening, Parry Sound Fire Department, in addition to one member from the Seguin Fire Department, completed a joint training exercise with employees of the Canadian Coast Guard Base in Parry Sound aboard the CCGS Samuel Risley.

The joint training exercise allowed members of the fire department to share their knowledge with members of the Canadian Coast Guard about fire search and rescue. This type of joint training between the two organizations had never previously been done.

A fire/search and rescue scenario was simulated in the cargo hold of the Risley, located within the control room. A smoke generator was used by the fire department to simulate the confusion and danger of a real fire. Oliver Moloney, Parry Sound Fire Department Special Operations Team Coordinator, said the intention of the joint exercise was not to take over for Coast Guard personnel in a fire and search and rescue scenario, but rather to work together collaboratively.

Members of the fire department and the coast guard met in the vessel’s mess (an area where individuals socialize and eat) prior to the training for a briefing. Both Moloney and training officer/captain Greg Skinner provided Coast Guard staff with background information on the fire department, including procedures and the inner workings of the department, prior to explaining the training exercise.

Prior to the exercise, two control officers were established – one with the fire department and the other with the Coast Guard – to manage their respective personnel entering the scene.

Tactical teams were also established, which included members from both organizations. The briefing stressed that communication was key in order for the exercise to be successful.

The joint training was possible due to a vital refit and other maintenance work on the CCGS Samuel Risley conducted at the Parry Sound base. The work ensures that the Risley is in superior condition to perform her various responsibilities, including, but not limited to, buoy tending and icebreaking on the Great Lakes.

The CCGS Samuel Risley gained worldwide attention this winter when it, along with the CCGS Griffon, managed to free a cargo vessel under extremely challenging ice conditions on Lake Erie.


Lookback #743 – Consort barge Madeira stranded off Split Rock on Nov. 30, 1905

The five-year-old consort barge Madeira was a late casualty of the vicious November 1905 storm that pummeled Lake Superior. The towline to the William Edenborn broke and Madeira was blown ashore at the inhospitable Split Rock.

The barge broke in two with the loss of one life but the others were saved in dramatic fashion. One crewmember was able to climb the cliff while pulling up a rope and, once the line was secured, the rest of the sailors followed him to safety.

Madeira was a total loss in the accident of 110 years ago. The vessel had earlier gone aground in the Detroit River on Aug. 21, 1902, with flooding to the forward compartment. On this occasion, the 436-foot-long steel barge was pulled free.

Skip Gillham


Today in Great Lakes History -  November 30

On 30 November 1896, CITY OF KALAMAZOO (wooden propeller passenger/package freight steamer, 162 foot, 728 gross tons, built in 1892, at South Haven, Michigan) burned at her lay-up dock at South Haven, Michigan, with the loss of four lives. She was rebuilt and lasted until 1911, when she burned again.

On November 30, 1910, ATHABASCA (steel propeller passenger steamer, 263 foot, 1,774 gross tons, built in 1883, in Scotland) collided with the tug GENERAL near Lime Island in the St. Mary's River. As a result of the collision, the GENERAL sank. She was later recovered and rebuilt as a bulk freighter and lasted until she was broken up in 1948.

On 30 November 1934, HENRY CORT (steel propeller whaleback crane vessel, 320 foot, 2,394 gross tons, built in 1892, at W. Superior, Wisconsin as PILLSBURY) was driven onto the north pier at Muskegon, Michigan, in a storm. The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter ESCANABA rescued her crew, but one Coast Guardsman lost his life. The vessel settled in shallow water and then broke in half. Her remains were scrapped the following year.

CANADIAN PIONEER suffered a major engine room fire on 30 Nov 1987, at Nanticoke, Ontario.

On November 30, 1981, A.H. FERBERT was laid up for the last time at the Hallett Dock #5, Duluth, Minnesota. The PERE MARQUETTE 22 passed down the Welland Canal on November 30, 1973 in tow of the tugs JOHN PURVES and YVON SIMARD en route to Sorel, Quebec, where she was cut down to a barge for off-Lakes use.

On 30 Nov 1967, the CITY OF FLINT 32 was laid up, never to run again.

On 30 Nov 1900, ALMERON THOMAS (2-mast wooden schooner, 50 foot, 35 gross tons, built in 1891, at Bay City, Michigan) was carrying gravel in a storm on Lake Huron when she sprang a leak and ran for the beach. She struck bottom and then capsized. She broke up in twenty feet of water near Point Lookout in Saginaw Bay. No lives were lost.

The schooner S.J. HOLLY came into the harbor at Oswego, New York, on 30 November 1867, after a hard crossing of Lake Ontario. The previous day she left the Welland Canal and encountered a growing gale. Capt. Oscar Haynes sought calm water along the north shore, but the heavy seas and freezing winds made sailing perilous. The ropes and chains froze stiff and the schooner was almost unmanageable. The only canvas out was a two-reef foresail and it was frozen in place. With great skill, the skipper managed to limp into port, having lost the yawl and sustained serious damage to the cargo. Fortunately no lives were lost.

1905: The steel consort barge MADEIRA stranded at Split Rock, while under tow of the WILLIAM EDENBORN, broke in two and became a total loss.

1908: D.M. CLEMSON (i) disappeared on Lake Superior while upbound with a cargo of coal from Lorain to Superior. All 24 on board were lost and only 2 bodies were ever found.

1911: Three lives were lost when the wooden steamer RALEIGH sank off Port Colborne. The crew took to the yawl boats but these capsized. Spectators on shore helped pull the sailors to safety.

1922: MAPLEHURST foundered near the West Portage entry Lake Superior while upbound with coal. The captain sought shelter from a storm but the engine failed and the anchors did not hold. There were 11 casualties and the ship was a total loss.

1924: MAPLEDAWN was wrecked at Christian Island, Georgian Bay while downbound with barley. The hull was pounded and could only be salvaged in pieces for scrap about 1942.

1926: CITY OF BANGOR stranded on Keweenaw Point in a blizzard with zero visibility. The ship fell into the trough and was carried ashore. It could not be salvaged and the hull was cut up for scrap during World War II.

1943: RIVERTON, aground for two weeks at Lottie Wolf Shoal, Georgian Bay, was released and taken to Collingwood for repairs. It resumed sailing in 1944 as MOHAWK DEER.

1945: OUTARDE (i) sank at the Consul-Hall Coal Dock, Clayton, NY after being repeatedly pounded against the structure in a wild storm and holed by an underwater piece of steel. The ship was finally refloated on April 18, 1946.

1961: ALGOWAY (i) was damaged while shifting at Port Arthur when it hit a discarded underwater oxygen tank.

1987: A fire aboard the ULS self-unloader CANADIAN PIONEER at Nanticoke damaged the wiring under the control panel. The ship went to the Welland Dock for repairs and then left the Seaway for Sorel where it was reflagged Vanuatu and renamed b) PIONEER.

1997: The tug CAROLYN JO suffered a fire in the engine room off Snake Island, Lake Ontario, and had to be towed to Kingston. The ship is still sailing as d) SEAHOUND.

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


Second of two ex-CSL bulkers beached at Aliaga

11/29 - Mapleglen has been beached at Aliaga alongside Birchglen. Scrapping on Birchglen is well underway and the shipbreakers are cutting into the cargo holds as they dismantle the ship. Mapleglen remains intact, but not likely for long.

Skip Gillham with Selim San


Port Reports -  November 29

Lorain, Ohio – Phil Leon
Mississagi arrived late Friday and left Saturday morning.

Oswego, N.Y. – Ned Goebricher
Saturday morning the Algoway departed after unloading potash.


Lookback #742 – Esso Rochester broke in two off Anticosti Island on Nov. 29, 1950

The T-2 tanker Esso Rochester was carrying fresh water and ballast on a voyage from Montreal to Aruba when it ran into heavy weather in the Gulf of St. Lawrence 65 years ago today. The ship broke in two and was abandoned about 9 miles off Cape Magdalen on Nov. 29, 1950. The crew was picked up by the Maruba and delivered to Quebec City on Dec. 1.

The stern was taken to Sept-Iles by the tug Claire Simard, while the bow was delivered to Mont Joli by Foundation Josephine. Two Foundation tugs got the contract to bring the sections to Halifax and Foundation Josephine arrived with the stern on Dec. 21. Foundation Lillian had the bow section in tow when the latter broke loose and rolled over off Prince Edward Island. The bow section was reported to have come aground off Sea Wolf Island on Dec. 22.

The stern was eventually taken to Newport News, Vam, departing Halifax on April 11, 1951, between the tugs Kevin Moran and Margot Moran. The after end was rebuilt with a new forebody and resumed trading, under the same name, with a new length of 547 feet, 3 inches and a gross tonnage of 11,704.

A tug sent to the Gulf in search of the capsized bow section never found anything so it was presumed to have sunk. A subsequent investigation of this and similar hull fractures with T-2 tankers concluded that there was too much sulphur in the steel used for these ships in World War Two which resulted in them becoming brittle in cold water. Additional strengthening was necessary to avoid the problem.

Esso Rochester had been built at Chester, Pa., and completed on Jan. 29, 1943. It was dispatched to the Pacific and was narrowly missed by a Japanese suicide fighter plane at Leyte, Philippines, in Nov. 1944. One of their on board Navy gunners also shot down an attacking Japanese bomber so Esso Rochester was credited with two planes destroyed.

During the 31 U.S. Navy voyages, Esso Rochester successfully delivered 3,640,000 barrels of fuel.

The ship was a Seaway visitor in 1959, possibly only for one trip, and was then sold for scrap in 1965. Esso Rochester was dismantled after arriving at Onimichi, Japan, in July 1966.

Skip Gillham


Today in Great Lakes History -  November 29

In 1953, BENJAMIN F. FAIRLESS, Captain H. C. Buckley, transported the last iron ore of the season through the Soo Locks. The ore originated at Two Harbors and was unloaded at Conneaut. After unloading, the FAIRLESS headed for Monroe, Michigan, for layup.

On 29 November 1886, ALFRED P. WRIGHT (wooden propeller tug, 56 gross tons, built in 1877, at Buffalo, New York) was towing the schooner A J DEWEY in a blizzard and gale in the harbor at Manistee, Michigan. The towline parted and fouled the WRIGHT's propeller. Disabled, she capsized and her crew clung to the overturned hull. One crewman swam 1,000 feet to shore and summoned the U.S. Lifesaving Service. The WRIGHT's and DEWEY's crews were both rescued but three lifesavers were lost in this effort.

On November 29, 1966, the DANIEL J. MORRELL sank approximately 20 miles north of Harbor Beach in Lake Huron. Her nearly identical sistership, the EDWARD Y. TOWNSEND, was traveling about 20 miles behind the MORRELL and made it to the Lime Island Fuel Dock in the St. Marys River where cracks were found in her deck; the TOWNSEND proceeded to Sault Ste. Marie where she was taken out of service. The TOWNSEND sank in the Atlantic on October 7, 1968, while being towed overseas for scrap.

E. B. BARBER was laid up for the last time at Toronto, Ontario, on 29 Nov. 1984.

On November 29, 1903, snow and stormy seas drove the two-and-a-half year old J. T. HUTCHINSON onto an uncharted rock (now known as Eagle River Reef) one-half mile off shore and 10 miles west of Eagle Harbor, Michigan near the northwestern coast of the Keweenaw Peninsula.

On November 29, 1974, the PERE MARQUETTE 21 was loaded with remnants of Port Huron's Peerless Cement Dock, which reportedly were bound for Saudi Arabia, and cleared there in tow of the Great Lakes Towing Co., tugs AMERICA and OHIO.

SYLVANIA was in a collision with the DIAMOND ALKALI in the Fighting Island Channel of the Detroit River on 29 Nov 1968, during a snow squall. SYLVANIA's bow was severely damaged.

The propeller BURLINGTON had barges in tow up bound on Lake Erie when she was damaged by the ice and sank in the Pelee Passage.

On 29 November 1856, ARABIAN (3-mast wooden bark, 116 foot, 350 tons, built in 1853, at Niagara, Ontario) had stranded on Goose Island Shoal, 10 miles ENE of Mackinac Island ten days earlier. She was relieved of her cargo and was being towed to Chicago by the propeller OGONTZ when a gale blew in and the towline parted. ARABIAN made for shore, her pumps working full force and OGONTZ following. During the night they were separated and ARABIAN sank off Point Betsey in Lake Michigan. Her crew escaped in her yawl.

In 1903, the PERE MARQUETTE 19 arrived Ludington on her maiden voyage. Captain John J. Doyle in command.

On 29 November 1881, the 149 foot wooden propeller NORTHERN QUEEN, which had been involved in a collision with the 136 foot wooden propeller canaller LAKE ERIE just five days before, struck the pier at Manistique so hard that she was wrecked. Besides her own crew, she also had LAKE ERIE's crew on board.

On 29 Nov 1902, BAY CITY (1-mast wood schooner-barge, 140 foot, 306 gross tons, built in 1857, at Saginaw, Michigan as a brig) was left at anchor in Thunder Bay by the steamer HURON CITY during a storm. BAY CITY's anchor chain parted and the vessel was driven against the Gilchrist dock at Alpena, Michigan and wrecked. Her crew managed to escape with much difficulty.

1902: The wooden bulk freighter CHARLES HEBARD (i) stranded on the Ontario shore of Lake Superior at Point Mamaise in a snowstorm. The hull broke up but all on board were rescued.

1950: ESSO ROCHESTER, a T-2 tanker, broke in two in heavy weather off Anticosti Island, in the Gulf of St. Lawrence while enroute, in ballast, from Montreal to Aruba. The two sections were taken in tow but the bow had to be cut loose in a storm on December 21, rolled over and was lost. The stern was taken to Newport News, VA and rebuilt. It was a Seaway trader in 1959 and scrapped at Onimichi, Japan, in July 1966.

1959: VILJA went aground in fog while outbound through the Brockville Narrows. The 14-year old ship was refloated on December 13 and had to spend the winter at Prescott. The Norwegian-flag freighter never returned inland and was scrapped at Kaohsiung, Taiwan, as c) SILVER HOPE in 1974.

1960: FRANCISCO MORAZON went aground on the rocks of South Manitou Island, Lake Michigan and the remains of the hull are still there.

1960: CATO II, a small survey vessel, was cut loose by vandals at Port Dalhousie, drifted with the current into Lake Ontario, and stranded on the rocks of the west pier off Port Weller. Despite gale force winds and cold, the hull was salvaged the next day. At last report, the ship was still intact and was owned by Seneca College of Toronto.

1964: The MARIA COSULICH was wrecked at the breakwall at Genoa, Italy, when the engine failed while outbound. The crew was saved but the vessel was a total loss. It had been built at Sturgeon Bay in 1943 as WILLIAM HOMAN.

1985: JALAGODAVARI sliced into the St. Louis road and rail bridge on the Seaway and navigation had to be suspended for seven days. The vessel was removed, taken to Montreal and arrested for damages. The ship was repaired and survived until scrapping as f) BLUE OCEAN in 2000-2001.

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


Badger to head for 5-year check up Sunday

11/28 - Ludington, Mich. – Lake Michigan Carferry's SS Badger will depart at 9:30 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 29 for Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, where it will undergo its regular inspection. The inspection, in drydock, is done every five years. The carferry operates during the busy passenger-demand seasons, May-October.

Ludington Daily News


Lookback #741 – Isaac L. Ellwood almost lost on Nov. 28, 1905

The ore carrier Isaac L. Ellwood of the U.S. Steel fleet was laying off Two Harbors waiting for its consort barge Bryn Mawr to finish loading. It was there when the infamous storm of Nov. 28, 1905, struck Lake Superior country.

The captain of the Isaac L. Elwood watched as the tarpaulins were ripped off some of the hatches and made the wise choice to flee for the safety of Duluth. The ride was a challenge and the 498 foot long steamer got caught in the trough for a time and almost became a casualty.

Fortunately the ship was able to get through the piers and the safety of the inner harbor but hit bottom several times and bounced off the north and south piers encroute in. This resulted in a big gash in the hull and caused the vessel to sink in shallow water off Minnesota Point but in the safely to the harbor. The ship was salvaged in 1906.

Isaac L. Ellwood was built at West Bay City in 1900 and became part of the original U.S. Steel fleet in 1901 after a year working for the American Steamship Co. It was repaired after the Nov. 28, 1905, encounter, but was in the news again on Nov. 10, 1909. That day the ship was approaching the upper gate of the old Poe Soo Lock and went full ahead instead of reverse. The action took out the upper gate and the lock was out of commission for the rest of the year.

Isaac L. Ellwood laid up in 1957 and was scrapped at Conneaut, Ohio, in 1961.

Skip Gillham


Today in Great Lakes History -  November 28

In 1949, sea trials for the largest freighter built on the Great Lakes, the WILFRED SYKES, were held off Lorain, Ohio. SYKES was converted to a self-unloader in 1975.

In 1942, the Canadian grain carrier JUDGE HART grounded and then sank in Ashburton Bay, Lake Superior. The entire crew of the JUDGE HART was rescued by the JAMES B. EADS, Captain Stanley J. Tischart, and the whaleback JOHN ERICSSON, Captain Wilfred E. Ogg.

On 28 November 1867, MARQUETTE (wooden bark, 139 foot, 426 tons, built in 1856, at Newport [Marine City], Michigan) was carrying corn from Chicago to Collingwood, Ontario when she sprang a leak during a storm on Lake Huron. She was run ashore on Hope Island on Georgian Bay.

On November 28, 1905, the Pittsburgh Steamship Company vessel MATAAFA was wrecked as it tried to re-enter the Duluth Ship Canal in a severe storm. The MATAAFA had departed Duluth earlier but had decided to return to safety. After dropping her barge in the lake, the vessel was picked up by waves, was slammed against the north pier and was swung around to rest just hundreds of feet offshore north of the north pier, where it broke in two. Much of the crew froze to death in the cold snap that followed the storm, as there was no quick way to get out to the broken vessel for rescue. The MATAAFA was repaired prior to the 1906, season; she ultimately ended her career as an automobile carrier for the T.J. McCarthy Steamship Company and was sold for scrap in 1965.

The CANADIAN OLYMPIC's maiden voyage was 28 Nov 1976, to load coal at Conneaut, Ohio for Nanticoke, Ontario. Her name honored the Olympic games that were held at Montreal that year.

On November 28, 1983, while up bound after leaving the Poe Lock, the INDIANA HARBOR was in a collision, caused by high winds, with the downbound Greek salty ANANGEL SPIRIT resulting in a 10 foot gash in the laker's port bow.

LANCASHIRE (Hull#827) was launched at Lorain, Ohio on November 28, 1942. She would soon be renamed b) SEWELL AVERY.

CATHY B towed the GOVERNOR MILLER to Vigo, Spain on November 28, 1980, where she was broken up.

BENSON FORD was renamed e) US265808 and departed River Rouge on November 28, 1986, towed by the Sandrin tugs TUSKER and GLENADA bound for Ramey's Bend in the Welland Canal.

FRONTENAC arrived at the Fraser Shipyard, Superior, Wisconsin on November 28, 1979. Her keel, which had hogged four feet, was declared a constructive total loss.

The BRANSFORD stranded on a reef off Isle Royale in Lake Superior during a major storm on 28 November 1905, (the same storm that claimed the steamer MATAAFA). She was recovered.

On her third trip in 1892, the ANN ARBOR NO 1 again ran aground, this time three miles north of Ahnapee (now called Algoma). There was $15,000 damage to her cargo.

In 1906, the ANN ARBOR NO 4 left Cleveland bound for Frankfort on her maiden voyage. The ANN ARBOR NO 4 ran aground off Kewaunee in 1924.

On 28 November 1905, AMBOY (2-mast wooden schooner-barge, 209 foot, 894 gross tons, formerly HELENA) was carrying coal in tow of the wooden propeller GEORGE SPENCER in a gale on Lake Superior. In an effort to save both vessels, AMBOY was cut loose. The SPENCER was disabled quickly and was driven ashore near Little Marais, Minnesota. AMBOY struggled against the gale for a full day before finally going ashore near Thomasville, Ontario on 29 November. No lives were lost from either vessel.

On 28 November 1872, W O BROWN (wooden schooner, 140 foot, 306 tons, built in 1862, at Buffalo, New York) was carrying wheat in a storm on Lake Superior when she was driven ashore near Point Maimanse, Ontario and pounded to pieces. Six lives were lost. Three survivors struggled through a terrible cold spell and finally made it to the Soo on Christmas Day.

On 28 Nov 1874, the propeller JOHN PRIDGEON JR was launched at Clark's shipyard in Detroit, Michigan. She was built for Capt. John Pridgeon. Her dimensions were 235 X 36 X 17 feet. The engines of the B F WADE were installed in her.

On 28 Nov 1923, the Detroit & Windsor Ferry Company and Bob-Lo docks were destroyed by a fire caused by an overheated stove in the ferry dock waiting room. The blaze started at 3 a.m.

CANADIAN TRANSFER underwent repairs most of Tuesday, 28 Nov. 2000, at the Algoma Steel dock at Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. She had run aground the previous night in the Canadian channel approaching Algoma Steel. CANADIAN TRANSFER was freed by two Purvis Marine tugs. The vessel suffered a crack or hole in the hull plating about 10 feet from the bottom along its port side.

1918: The bow section of the former passenger steamer NORTH WEST sank in Lake Ontario. The ship had been cut in two for a tow out of the Great Lakes. The stern was later rebuilt as b) MAPLECOURT.

1923: LINDEN, a wooden bulk carrier, burned as a total loss in Tawas Bay.

1932: The Canadian freighter GEORGIAN stranded at Munising while downbound from Port Arthur to Detroit. The crew was rescued on December 3. The first salvage attempt failed on December 5 and the vessel was not released until May 1933.

1961: IQUITOS, enroute from Callao, Peru, to Manzanillo, Mexico, with fish meal, caught fire off the coast of Mexico and was abandoned by the crew. The vessel first visited the Great Lakes as a) RUTENFJELL in 1936 and returned on numerous occasions. It was back as b) POLYRIVER from 1951 to 1958. The abandoned IQUITOS drifted for months and was finally sunk by a U.S. destroyer as a hazard to navigation about 100 miles southeast of the Christmas Islands, on April 9, 1962.

1966: The Liberty ship TEGEAN ran aground on The Sisters rocks in fog south of Halifax while inbound for bunkers. All on board were saved by Coast Guard and Navy helicopters. The hull broke into 3 pieces and was dynamited by Navy divers as a hazard on December 16, 1966. The vessel had traded through the Seaway as b) ST. MALO in 1962.

1981: LONDON EARL went aground at Pointe aux Trembles while outbound from Thunder Bay to Hamburg, West Germany, with a cargo of wheat. Five tugs released the ship, with only minimal damage, on November 30. The vessel later returned through the Seaway as b) OLYMPIC LIBERTY beginning in 1983, as c) STABERG in 1990 and as d) ITHAKI in 1996. It was scrapped at Alang, India, in 2001.

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


One new Brazilian iron ore mine: 90 million tons per year

11/27 - Duluth, Minn. – When the new Roy Hill mine opens in a remote part of Australia, potentially any day now, it will produce more iron ore in one year than all Minnesota taconite operations combined.

The extra 55 million tons or so will add to the glut of iron ore on the world market right now that's sending the price of ore into a free-fall and allowing foreign steelmakers to cut their costs and sell their steel even cheaper.

All that cheap ore turned into cheap steel may further erode business for U.S. steelmakers and reduce even more the need for Minnesota taconite, experts say.

The situation is so dire that U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan, D-Crosby, has suggested a five-year ban on foreign steel imports. But the Roy Hill mine isn't even half the bad news for the Iron Range.

Brazilian based Vale mining company says that, despite the free-fall of iron ore prices, it is moving ahead with construction of its Sera Sul mine with a goal of producing iron ore in late 2016.

Vale says the new $19.4 billion mine will produce 90 million tons of iron ore annually, or more than double the roughly 38 million tons of finished ore all Minnesota operations combined produced last year.

Vale is cutting back iron ore production at its existing mines in the meantime, riding out the low prices, but the company will be able to produce more than 400 million tons of ore annually when Sera Sul opens.

The company currently has an estimated production cost of $12.70 per ton. It expects that to drop to about $10 per ton at Sera Sul where, according to, Vale will use truckless technology for the project in order to fully replace its in-mine trucks, a move expected to reduce fuel consumption by an estimated 77 percent.

That $10 per ton compares to the more than $50 per ton it costs to produce finished taconite iron ore pellets in Minnesota.

Duluth News Tribune


Navy ship docks in Detroit, brings crew member home for Thanksgiving

11/27 - Detroit, Mich. – When the USS Milwaukee made a stop in Detroit Wednesday it brought with it special Thanksgiving guest, Detroit native and crew member Engineman First Class Daniel Heard.

The overnight port of call allows Heard to celebrate Thanksgiving with his family, who were waiting anxiously at the Port of Detroit for him Wednesday afternoon

"It means a whole lot. I haven't been home to for Thanksgiving in quite a while. So to pull into the ship that I am on, to the city that I'm from – I never thought that would happen," said Heard. "To be able to spend tomorrow with my family, it means a whole lot."

Heard's son and daughter sprinted towards their father as soon as they spotted him stepping off the USS Milwaukee.

Isaiah, 7, who last saw his dad a month ago said, "I'm never letting go."

Read more, and see a video at


Port Reports -  November 27

Alpena, Mich. – Ben & Chanda McClain
Samuel de Champlain was at Lafarge on November 20 loading cement. The Buffalo unloaded at Lafarge on November 21. On Monday the Alpena was in port loading cement for Superior, Wis. The tug Undaunted and barge Pere Marquette 41 were at Lafarge on Monday as well, unloading cargo. On Wednesday evening the Manitowoc tied up at Lafarge and unloaded its cargo.


Mining spinoff jobs threatened in downturn

11/27 - Duluth, Minn. – Three years ago, Mitch Robertson showed a reporter around his booming steel fabrication business in Virginia, with sparks flying and machines clanking and business as brisk as it had ever been.

In late 2012, the price of iron ore was over $130 per ton. U.S. steelmakers were pumping out finished product for new oil pipelines, trucks and refrigerators. And Minnesota’s iron mining industry was shipping iron ore as fast as the stuff could be processed.

TriTec, Robertson’s company, was booming as it helped keep the mining industry moving with repairs on heavy equipment and specially designed equipment for taconite plants — such as rock-proof fuel tanks for mining trucks.

All that has changed now, with taconite iron ore wallowing below $45 per ton, U.S. steelmakers idling production amid a sea of foreign steel imports and more than half of Minnesota's mining industry shut down or about to shut down. For TriTec, times are suddenly tough and about to get tougher.

“Business is down about 30 percent from last year. And from what I hear it’s not going to go up fast in 2016,” Robertson said last week.

A University of Minnesota Duluth study in 2012 found that, for every job in the mining industry, another 1.8 jobs are created to service and support mining, so-called economic spinoff. But that works the other way, too.

“When all these layoffs come (in the mines) we’re feeling it,” Robertson said.

TriTec peaked at more than 70 employees before the boom went bust. Now, the company is down to 46.

Northeastern Minnesota is rife with businesses that thrived in recent years alongside the mostly good times for mining — steel fabricators such as Furin & Shea in Hibbing and TriTec; engineering companies such as Barr and Jasper; W.P. & R.S Mars Co. in Duluth, which sells and services conveyor belts and other industrial equipment; and Joy Global, which in 2012 opened a new $20 million plant on Virginia's north side to service giant mining equipment.

Now, some of those businesses are reeling as Minnesota’s taconite iron mining industry has been hit by its steepest decline in 30 years. “If you're in the industrial sales business in Northeastern Minnesota, you are feeling it,” said Bruce Mars, vice president of W.P. and R.S. Mars. “Closed taconite plants don’t buy conveyor belts.”

Mars has offices in Duluth, Hibbing and Bloomington, Minn., with some 100 employees companywide.

“We get hit three times. The mining companies we serve are down. The railroads (that transport iron ore) are down, and we sell to them them. The docks, the terminals are down; they are our customers. So are the Great Lakes vessels,” Mars said. “We’re taking a hit, no doubt.”

Mars said sales are down “significantly” in 2015 from 2014. So far, the company has been able to avoid layoffs.

“We have to go out here and find new industries to find for customers. We need to make up for this or we’re going to have to re-evaluate things,” he said.

So far, the impact has been slow to show up in official unemployment numbers and has been limited to the core Iron Range.

While Minnesota's unemployment rate dropped to 3.7 percent in October, and Duluth's sank to just 2.9 percent, Hibbing foundered at 8.7 percent and Virginia hit 6.5 percent with Grand Rapids at 6.2 percent. St. Louis County overall was 4.5 percent. The nationwide rate sat at 5 percent.

Mining and logging lost 300 jobs in October, or 4.5 percent of that workforce — the largest percentage decline of any sector in the state’s economy, according to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. By the end of January, when additional planned layoffs occur, more than 1,500 mining industry workers are expected to be unemployed. And some industry watchdogs say there will be more.

Meanwhile, Robertson met with salaried employees late last week to discuss the situation and its impact on wages and benefits. His goal is to keep everyone working even through the downturn. TriTec has a contract through 2016 with members of the United Steelworkers, the welders and other tradesmen who do most of the work on the TriTec floor, but he said he may need to ask to renegotiate that, too.

“It’s been a real struggle in the past few months. We have to make some changes,” he said. ‘We’ve got some work, some contracts still going. But a lot of our old customers are shut down now.”

That includes Mesabi Nugget, the iron nugget plant in Hoyt Lakes that shut down last winter and which will be shuttered for a minimum of two years. TriTec helped build some of the machinery in the nugget plant, and serviced much of the rest.

“I don’t know if they’ll ever come back,” he said.

When Grand Rapids-based Magnetation started shutting down plants and declared bankruptcy earlier this year “we took a $120,000 haircut, in one shot. That's not as bad as some of the big guys, but we felt it,” Robertson said.

There is some good news. Robertson said orders from U.S. Steel’s Minntac plant in Mountain Iron, which had seen layoffs during a shutdown earlier this year, are now coming in again. And his firm is marketing its own truck body designed for heavy industrial use, in or out of the mining industry.

“We’ve got some ideas. We’re still in the black, But we need to come up with ways to stay busy,” he said.

TriTec also is getting a good chunk of custom work for the new, $180 million U.S. Highway 53 bridge project across the Rouchleau iron mine pit lake in Virginia, only steps away from Tritec.

“They are staging some of their equipment in our yard,” Robertson said of the contractor building the new bridge. “That project is going to help keep us going.”

Robertson says he talks to companies that he buys services from and hears rumors of cutbacks across the Iron Range. Ane he’s not hearing much optimism about 2016.

“I don’t have any guess when things might get better,” he said. “The Mesabi Nugget people said two years (before any potential reopening) and that was last spring, so maybe by then.”

That would be 2017.

Bruce Mars said he expects a poor first quarter for 2016. After that, all he can do is be optimistic, he said.

“We’ve been through this before. Everyone involved in mining has seen the cycles,” Mars said. “But this one feels different. Everything is global now. You see the signals about China not using as much steel and dumping steel here in the U.S., and you see the stories about huge new iron ore mines in Brazil and Australia, and you know something is up. … But it’s really uncharted territory now.”

Duluth News Tribune


Lookback #740 – Former Seaway trader Loukia arrived at Monrovia on Nov. 27, 1981

It was 34 years ago today that the former Seaway trader Loukia arrived at Monrovia, Liberia, on a voyage from Kpeme, Ghana. Sailing at the time as f) Despoula K., it was the beginning of the end for the vessel.

Despoula K. was only 21 years old at the time of arriving on Nov. 27, 1981, but it was abandoned at the Liberian port and soon looted. The ship was idle for months before being sold for scrap. A tug arrived to take the 476 foot, 2 inch long general cargo ship to Split, Yugoslavia, but they did not get far.

On Nov. 2, 1982, Despoula K. broke loose in stormy weather and came ashore along the west coast of Africa, about 14 miles from Monrovia, at a location listed as 06.30 N / 10.57. The ship was declared a total loss. The hull may still be there or it may have been broken up on location.

Originally the Brighton, the vessel was built at Sunderland, England, and completed for the Carlton Steamship Co. of Chapman & Willan on Sept. 6, 1960. It could carry 12,575 tons deadweight in the five cargo holds and was powered with a Doxford oil engine.

After a decade of service, Brighton was sold to Greek interests in 1970 and renamed b) Kaptayanni and then became c) Mareantes in 1973 and d) Loukia in 1975. The latter ship came to the Great Lakes for the first time in 1976.

The name was changed again to e) Melpo in 1977 and it became f) Despoula K. in 1980 only to have a short career for Skystar Cia Naviera S.A.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  November 27

New Videos on our YouTube Channel


Today in Great Lakes History -  November 27

At 4:00 a.m. on 27 November 1872, the wooden schooner MIDDLESEX was struck by a terrible winter storm on Lake Superior. The winds caught the vessel with such force that she listed at a 45 degree angle and her cargo shifted. In danger of sinking, the crew jettisoned much of the cargo and the ship righted herself. Her lifeboat and much of her rigging and sails were washed away. She limped into Waiska Bay and anchored to ride out the storm. However, she had developed a leak and it was so cold that her pumps had frozen. To save the vessel, she was run ashore and sank in shallow water. The crew climbed into her rigging until the tug W. D. CUSHING rescued them.

ALGOSEA entered Lake service as a self-unloader for the first time with salt loaded at Goderich, Ontario and passed down bound in the Welland Canal November 27, 1976, for Quebec City.

AVONDALE was condemned and was not allowed to carry cargo after she arrived at Toledo, Ohio on November 27, 1975, to load soybeans.

The steam barge CHAUNCY HURLBUT was launched at the shipyard of Simon Langell at St. Clair, Michigan on Thanksgiving Day, 27 November 1873. She was built for Chandler Bros. of Detroit.

On 27 November 1886, COMANCHE (wooden schooner, 137 foot, 322 tons, built in 1867, at Oswego, New York) was carrying corn in a storm on Lake Ontario when she ran on a shoal and sank near Point Peninsula, New York. A local farmer died while trying to rescue her crew of 8. His was the only death. She was later recovered and rebuilt as THOMAS DOBBIE.

The PERE MARQUETTE 22 collided with the WABASH in heavy fog in 1937.

In 1966, the CITY OF MIDLAND 41 ran aground at Ludington, Michigan in a storm. Stranded on board were a number of passengers and 56 crewmen. Ballast tanks were flooded to hold the steamer on until the storm subsided. She was pulled off four days later by the Roen tug JOHN PURVES.

The propeller MONTGOMERY, which burned in June 1878, was raised on 27 November 1878. Her engine and boiler were removed and she was converted to a barge. She was rebuilt at Algonac, Michigan in the summer of 1879.

On 27 November 1866, the Oswego Advertiser & Times reported that the schooner HENRY FITZHUGH arrived at Oswego, New York with 17,700 bushels of wheat from Milwaukee. Her skipper was Captain Cal Becker. The round trip took 23 days, which was considered "pretty fast sailing".

The CITY OF FLINT 32 was launched in Manitowoc on 27 Nov 1929. Cut down to a rail barge at Nicholson's, Ecorse in 1970, renamed b.) ROANOKE.

On Monday, 27 Nov 1996, the Cyprus flag MALLARD of 1977, up bound, apparently bounced off the wall in the Welland Canal below Lock 1 and into the path of the CANADIAN ENTERPRISE. It was a sideswipe rather than a head on collision. The ENTERPRISE was repaired at Port Weller Dry Docks. The repairs to the gangway and ballast vent pipes took six hours. The MALLARD proceeded to Port Colborne to be repaired there.

At 10:20 p.m. on Monday, 27 Nov. 2000, CANADIAN TRANSFER radioed Soo Traffic to report that the vessel was aground off Algoma Steel and "taking on water but in no danger." The crew reported that they had two anchors down and one line on the dock. Purvis Marine was contacted.

1905: LAFAYETTE stranded at Encampment Island, Lake Superior, broke in two and was a total loss. MANILA, its consort barge, also came ashore but was later salvaged.

1942: JUDGE HART stranded at Fitzsimmons Rock, Ashburton Bay, Lake Superior, enroute to Toronto with 101,500 bushels of grain. All on board were rescued and the ship later slid off the rocks, drifted and sank.

1981: LOUKIA, a Greek flag visitor to the Great Lakes in 1976, arrived at Monrovia, Liberia, as f) DESPOULA and was abandoned. The vessel was looted before being sold for scrap. On September 2, 1982, while under tow for Yugoslavia for dismantling, the vessel broke loose in heavy seas and grounded about 14 miles north of Monrovia.

2006: SPAR OPAL had mechanical problems and ran aground near the Iroquois Lock. It was released on November 29. It did not return through the Seaway in 2007 but was back for two final trips in 2008. The ship was renamed h) ARWAD PRINCESS in 2012 and re-registered in Belize.

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


With Iron Range reeling, representative proposes steel import ban

11/26 - Duluth, Minn. - U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan said Monday the situation is so dire for the U.S. iron ore and steel industries that the time has come to ban steel imports to protect American jobs.

Nolan on Monday said he will introduce a bill in Congress to ban steel imports into the U.S. for five years – an effort to boost production of U.S.-made steel and boost demand for Minnesota iron ore, the main ingredient in steel.

The bill could be formally drafted on Nov. 30 when Congress returns to Washington after the Thanksgiving break. But it faces an uphill battle in Washington, where protectionist measures have often failed.

Nolan, D-Crosby, said the current crisis – with steel production dwindling in the U.S. and now seven of Minnesota's 11 major mining operations closed or about to close – is caused by a flood of imported steel, much of it from Asia, that is undercutting domestic steel and stealing away business. That reduction in domestic steel has vastly reduced the need for MInnesota's taconite iron ore, leading to the plant closures and the worst downturn on the Iron Range in 30 years.

Steel imports now account for more than one-third of all steel being used in the U.S., Nolan said, the highest level on record. American steel mill production has dropped to just 70 percent of capacity and may dip lower.

Much of the imported steel, Nolan and others contend, is being sold below-cost thanks to foreign government subsidies. That's against international trade laws, but it's often hard to prove and harder to enforce, taking months or even years for trade cases to reach conclusions.

"Once and for all, it's time for this Congress and this administration to stand up for American workers and American jobs -- jobs being destroyed and stolen due to illegal steel dumping by China, India and other Southeast Asian nations," Nolan said in a statement Monday. "My bill would place an immediate moratorium on imports of foreign steel for five years, so our domestic industry will have time to return to 100 percent of production capacity -- and so thousands of American workers who have lost their jobs in our mining, iron ore and steel industries can return to work as quickly as possible."

Nolan also is working on a companion bill in the House to legislation by U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken of Minnesota to toughen U.S. trade enforcement policies and impose high duties on foreign imports causing harm to U.S. manufacturers and workers.

Nolan said U.S. trade officials simply don't act fast enough to save American jobs.

"The United States has proven itself incapable of enforcing trade agreements -- and incapable of stopping illegal dumping of foreign steel once it reaches our shores. ... So we need a moratorium on foreign steel," Nolan said. "Beyond that, we need to defeat the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement that will cost us millions more jobs and the loss of thousands of additional manufacturing facilities."


USS Milwaukee visiting Detroit en route to South China Sea

11/26 - Detroit, Mich. – The USS Milwaukee littoral combat ship is stopping in Detroit en route to duty in the South China Sea.

The ship was scheduled to dock at the Port of Detroit Wednesday afternoon and depart Thursday, Thanksgiving Day. The USS Milwaukee is a sister ship to the USS Detroit, which will be commissioned in Detroit next year.

The USS Milwaukee was commissioned Saturday in Milwaukee. After the Detroit stop the ship will travel through the St. Lawrence Seaway to the East Coast, then south to the Panama Canal to reach its home port of San Diego.

The USS Milwaukee was built in Marinette, Wisconsin, where the USS Detroit also is being built. The littoral combat ships can operate much closer to shore, and go at faster speeds, than other vessels.

Associated Press


Crew draws toxic cargo from sunken Lake Erie barge thought to be Argo

11/26 - Cleveland, Ohio – Crews continue to remove toxic chemicals from the sunken Lake Erie barge thought to be the long-lost Argo.

After drawing about 10,000 gallons of water mixed with benzene and other pollutants from one of the barge's eight sealed tanks, crews on Tuesday will work to empty the remaining cargo holds, U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Jetta Disco said.

"Our goal is to have it done in the next couple of weeks before the weather becomes too severe," she said.

The method used to remove the hazardous cargo — called "lightering" — works by pumping the products inside the cargo holds into a container on a barge at the surface. The products are run through carbon filters to separate and remove flammable vapors.

The barge rests in about 40 feet of water nine nautical miles northeast of Kelleys Island. The vessel's measurements, location and cargo all but confirm it is the Argo, which sank during a storm in 1937.


Six-month water level predictions illustrate Great Lakes complexity

11/26 - Lake Erie – Recently released Great Lakes water level predictions have Superior, Michigan and Huron on the same page. But Erie and Ontario flow to the beat of a different drum.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers – Detroit District predict that the bigger lakes will drop below the level they were a year ago. Erie and Ontario are set to be higher than they were a year ago.

How does that work?

“Over the summer and early fall of this year, water supplies to Lake Superior and Michigan-Huron were near average or below average,” said Lauren Fry, civil engineer at the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers – Detroit District. “Outflows, however, have been above average, due to higher than average water levels on both lakes.”

The high levels of the upper lakes are the legacy of the last two winters, which were so cold and snowy they set the stage for low evaporation and high spring runoff. Those levels mean that outflow, or discharge, to the St. Marys River and the St. Clair and Detroit River system will be higher than typical.

With less water coming in than is going out, lower water levels are expected for Superior and Michigan-Huron. This winter is also expected to be warmer, which may also contribute to lower levels than last year.

Lakes Erie and Ontario just have to be different.

Both lakes can thank heavy June precipitation for higher levels than last year, Fry said. Lake Erie experienced precipitation 95 percent above the long term average. Lake Ontario got 80 percent more. Both lakes rose rapidly throughout June and July.

“Only very dry conditions would result in levels below last year’s levels,” Fry said.

Great Lakes Echo


Miller Ferry will stay open until ice sets in

11/26 - Lake Erie - The Miller Ferry will start its extended schedule later this week for the winter season. Officials with the ferry service, that provides transportation to and from the Lake Erie islands, say they will continue to operate until weather and ice forces them to stop, and that could be a while.

There is a miniature construction boom in Put-In-Bay. Two 20-unit condo projects are being built along with a 32-unit hotel, and it all depends on the ferry to get the materials from the mainland to the islands. However, the clock is ticking before big ice and storms shut down the ferry line this winter, so both islanders and construction crews are taking advantage of the nice weather now by getting supplies over to the island.

The lake temperature is in the middle 40s which is about 8 degrees warmer than this time last year. The warmer temperatures combined with a warm winter outlook mean it could be a while before the ice does form on Lake Erie and the ice season could be shorter than the past two years.



Lookback #739 – J.C. Ford destroyed by a fire on Nov. 26, 1924

The wooden freighter J.C. Ford was built at Grand Haven, Mich., in 1889. The 172 foot long by 32 foot, 8 inch wide vessel was registered at 520 gross tons and was originally used in the iron ore trade for T.W. Kirby.

The ship was sold to Sydenham Scott and Wm. Fleumer in 1892 and rebuilt as a package freight carrier with the addition of a second deck. This resulted in a new tonnage of 710 gross and 597 net tons.

It moved to the Nipigon Transit Co. in 1902 and the tonnage was reduced to 609 gross following another rebuild.

The ship was purchased by the Sarnia Coal and Dock Co. in 1922 and, when carrying lumber, could handle 550,000 board feet per trip.

The J.C. Ford was en route, and in ballast, from Cleveland to Thessalon for another load of lumber when it ran aground by night in a snowstorm off Little Trout Island, near Drummond Island, in the St. Marys River. The ship was towing the J.A. Francomb and a fire broke out aboard the J.C. Ford. The nine sailors, 7 men and 2 women, were able to escape to Little Trout Island and were rescued by the Coast Guard ship Chippewa.

The J.C. Ford burned to the waterline 91 years ago today. The wreck is a popular dive site as it rests in 5 to 15 feet of water and, while the hull is badly broken up, the large propeller remains an attraction.

Skip Gillham


Today in Great Lakes History -  November 26

In 1952, the PHILIP R. CLARKE was launched at the American Ship Building yard at Lorain, Ohio. The 647- foot-long freighter became the flagship of the Pittsburgh Steamship Company. She was lengthened by 120 feet in 1974 and converted to a self-unloader in 1982.

On 26 November 1856, CHEROKEE (2-mast wooden schooner, 103 foot, 204 tons, built in 1849, at Racine, Wisconsin) foundered in a gale 7 miles south of Manistee, Michigan, on Lake Michigan. All aboard (estimates range from ten to fourteen persons) were lost.

The U.S.C.G.C. MESQUITE departed Charlevoix and locked through the Soo on November 26, 1989, to begin SUNDEW's normal buoy tending duties on Lake Superior.

The ELIZABETH HINDMAN was launched November 26, 1920, as a.) GLENCLOVA (Hull#9) at Midland, Ontario, by Midland Shipbuilding Co. Ltd.

On 26 November 1872, the steamer GEO W. REYNOLDS burned at 1 in the morning at the dock in Bay City. The fire supposedly originated in the engine room. She was owned by A. English of East Saginaw.

On 26 November 1853, ALBANY (wooden side wheel passenger/package freight, 202 foot, 669 tons, built in 1846, at Detroit, Michigan) was carrying passengers and miscellaneous cargo in a storm on Lake Huron.. She was making for the shelter of Presque Isle harbor when the gale drove her over a bar. Her crew and 200 passengers came ashore in her boats. Plans were made to haul her back across the bar when another storm wrecked her. Her boiler and most of her machinery were recovered the following year.

LAKE BREEZE (wooden propeller, 122 foot, 301 gross tons, built in 1868, at Toledo, Ohio) burned at her dock in Leamington, Ontario, on 26 November 1878. One man perished in the flames. She was raised in 1880, but the hull was deemed worthless. Her machinery and metal gear were removed in 1881, and sold to an American company.

The ANN ARBOR NO 5 (steel carferry, 359 foot, 2,988 gross tons) was launched by the Toledo Ship Building Company (Hull #118) on 26 Nov 1910. She was the first carferry to be built with a sea gate, as a result of the sinking of the PERE MARQUETTE 18 in September of 1910.

On 26 Nov 1881, JANE MILLER (wooden propeller passenger-package freight coaster, 78 foot, 210 gross tons, built in 1878, at Little Current, Ontario) departed Meaford, Ontario, for Wiarton - sailing out into the teeth of a gale and was never seen again. All 30 aboard were lost. She probably sank near the mouth of Colpoy's Bay in Georgian Bay. She had serviced the many small ports on the inside coast of the Bruce Peninsula.

HIRAM W. SIBLEY (wooden propeller freighter, 221 foot, 1,419 gross tons, built in 1890, at E. Saginaw, Michigan) was carrying 70,000 bushels of corn from Chicago for Detroit. On 26 Nov 1898, she stranded on the northwest corner of South Manitou Island in Lake Michigan during blizzard. (Some sources say this occurred on 27 November.) The tugs PROTECTOR and SWEEPSTAKES were dispatched for assistance but the SIBLEY refloated herself during the following night and then began to sink again. She was put ashore on South Fox Island to save her but she broke in half; then completely broke up during a gale on 7 December 1898.

During the early afternoon of 26 Nov 1999, the LOUIS R. DESMARAIS suffered an engine room fire while sailing in the western section of Lake Ontario. Crews onboard the DESMARAIS put out the fire and restarted her engines. The DESMARAIS proceeded to the Welland Canal where she was inspected by both U.S. and Canadian investigators. No significant damage was noted and the vessel was allowed to proceed.

1924: The wooden steamer J.C. FORD was destroyed by a fire while on the St. Marys River near DeTour.

1940: The coal-laden CHEYENNE went aground in a storm near Port Colborne while enroute to Montreal. The ship was released on December 1. It last sailed as c) SORELDOC (ii) in 1965 before being scrapped at Hamilton.

1942: L.E. BLOCK went aground in the Straits of Mackinac during a snowstorm.

1951: JOHN H. PRICE was at Ste. Anne des Monts to load pulpwood when a storm swept the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The ship broke loose early the next day, drifted to shore and was pounded on the rocks. All on board were saved and the vessel was refloated May 30, 1952.

1964: The Norwegian tanker STOLT DAGALI, a Seaway caller as a) DAGALI in 1960-1962, was sliced in two by the passenger vessel SHALOM about 28 miles southeast of the Ambrose Channel Light Vessel. The stern of the tanker sank but the bow was rebuilt using the stern of the C.T. GODSTAD that had grounding damage. The rebuilt ship resumed sailing as STOLT LADY.

1979: Despite clear visibility, PIERSON DAUGHTERS and JABLANICA collided off Alexandria Bay, NY, and both ships were damaged. The latter went aground on Broadway Shoal and had to be lightered before being released. It was a regular Seaway trader and was also back as b) ELLIE beginning in 1993. The ship was scrapped at Alang, India, as d) PINE TRADER in 2009.

1981: EURO PRINCESS, a Seaway trader beginning in 1976, went aground in the Atlantic near Sable Island and the crew of 26 was airlifted to safety. Despite a cracked hull, the ship was refloated and was back on the Great Lakes as c) EUROPEGASUS in 1985 and survived until scrapping in India in 1997-1998.

2000: The former BALSA I, a Seaway trader beginning in 1981, reported taking water off Hainan Island in the South China Sea and sank. The crew was saved by a passing freighter.

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


Steelmaker ArcelorMittal has lost nearly $1.3B this year

11/25 - ArcelorMittal, one of Northwest Indiana's largest employers, lost $711 million in the third quarter, and has lost $1.2 billion so far this year.

The Luxembourg-based steelmaker, which has local operations in East Chicago, Gary, Burns Harbor, Riverdale, and New Carlisle, has seen shipments decline by 2.1 percent in the third quarter. Shipments are up 1.4 percent so far this year, but prices have been suffering because of an international import crisis that most blame on Chinese steelmaking overcapacity.

In ongoing negotiations with the United Steelworkers union, ArcelorMittal likely will point to the huge loss as a reason for wanting to cut back on health insurance benefits. The union says the steel business has always had its ups and downs, while the steelmaker says it needs to make its cost structure more competitive.

"Whilst we have delivered stable EBITDA compared with the second quarter, the already challenging operating conditions have further deteriorated during recent months, largely due to additional declines in steel prices caused by exceptionally low Chinese export prices," ArcelorMittal Chairman and CEO Lakshmi Mittal said.

ArcelorMittal has openly talked about restructuring its North American operations so there's not so much overcapacity, which is now more than 30 percent, according to the American and Iron Steel Institute. The steelmaker says all its North American blast furnaces will continue to forge iron, but that it's looking to cut costs wherever it can.

"Whilst we expect market conditions to remain challenging in 2016, we have a number of important programs underway across the business which will structurally improve EBITDA in 2016 and we also expect a significant reduction in our cash requirements," Mittal said.

The multinational steelmaker is pursuing three trade cases in the United States, where imports have seized nearly a third of the market share. Most analysts blame the import crisis on China, which built more steel mills than it needed and now is selling steel at an average loss of $75 a ton abroad with the help of generous government subsidies.

NWI Times


Gooey algae blooms could signal trouble in Lake Superior, scientist says

11/25 - Thunder Bay, Ont. – A research scientist with Environment Canada says the recent appearance of so-called "rock snot" in the St. Marys River could point to a problem in Lake Superior.

Max Bothwell said the gooey algae blooms, called Didymosphenia geminata, are only known to appear when phosphorous levels are very low.

"Phosphorus is the key element that controls the overall productivity of many ... fresh water aquatic systems," Bothwell said.

Environment Canada research scientist Max Bothwell said so-called "rock snot" in the St. Mary's River indicates low levels of phosphorus in Lake Superior. That could negatively impact fish production, he said. (supplied. )

"If phosphorus becomes very low, then it means that the overall productivity of that lake, ultimately culminating in fish production, will decline. How much so is unknown ... but it does mean that there's a stress on the system from extremely low phosphorus," he said.

Bothwell noted, however, that those concerned with water clarity might view low phosphorus levels as a good thing, because they result in clearer water.

"There would be less phytoplankton algae in production in the lake," he explained.

Data from Environment Canada suggests concentrations of phosphorus have been declining in Lake Superior for a decade now, Bothwell said, adding that those low levels are now flowing into the St. Marys River, resulting in what's believed to be the first appearance of rock snot in the river this summer.

Scientists don't know for sure why the phosphorus levels are sinking, he said.

Until they do, nothing can be done to address the situation because they don't know what they're addressing, he added.

The next step, Bothwell said, is to continue monitoring the situation to see if it remains stable or gets better or worse in the coming years.



Lookback #738 – Weyburn took on dangerous list in Lake Ontario on Nov. 25, 1950

It is not often that a laker runs into trouble on Lake Ontario, but the Canada Steamship Lines package freight carrier Weyburn was almost lost 65 years ago today.

The vessel was carrying steel plate, building materials and soap from Hamilton and Toronto for Montreal when the cargo shifted in a storm at about 5:30 p.m. on Nov. 25, 1950. There were wind gusts close to 80 m.p.h., and mounting seas. The vessel took on a dangerous list to port, estimated at 45 degrees, and was in danger of capsizing. Additional ballasting brought the list back to 40 degrees. Water in the engineroom was reported waist deep as the ship battled the elements for nine hours.

Fleetmate Renvoyle (ii) and the Howard Hindman (i) stood by as the Weyburn slowly made its way back to Toronto. Finally, Weyburn was able to reach the calmer waters of Toronto Bay, under her own power, and docked at the Canada Steamship Lines freight dock to allow the ship to be righted.

Weyburn had been built at Midland and was sent into the water as part of a rare triple launching on June 14, 1927. The Saskatoon and tug Northshore Supply also slid into Georgian Bay the same day from the Midland shipyard.

Weyburn last sailed on the Great Lakes in 1961 and was laid up at Kingston when sold for deep-sea service. It cleared on Nov. 5, 1963, but did not have much luck as a saltwater carrier. Weyburn was eventually scrapped at Karachi, Pakistan, in 1966.

Skip Gillham


Today in Great Lakes History -  November 25

In 1890, the WESTERN RESERVE delivered a record cargo of 95,488 bushels of wheat from Duluth to Buffalo.

In 1913, the schooner ROUSE SIMMONS, Captain August Schuenemann, departed Thompson Harbor (Michigan) with a load of fresh cut Christmas trees bound for Chicago. Somewhere between Kewaunee and Two Rivers, Wis., the SIMMONS was lost with all hands.

On 25 November 1857, ANTELOPE (wooden schooner, 220 tons, built in 1854, at Port Robinson, Ontario) was driven ashore by a gale near St. Joseph, Michigan. Five lives were lost. She was recovered the next year and rebuilt.

INCAN SUPERIOR was withdrawn from service after completing 2,386 trips between Thunder Bay and Superior and on November 25, 1992, she passed down bound at Sault Ste. Marie for service on the Canadian West Coast. Renamed PRINCESS SUPERIOR in 1993.

ROBERT C. STANLEY was laid up for the last time November 25, 1981, at the Tower Bay Slip, Superior, Wisconsin. She was scrapped at Aliaga, Turkey in 1989.

CITY OF MILWAUKEE (Hull#261) was launched November 25, 1930, at Manitowoc, Wisconsin, by Manitowoc Shipbuilding Co. She was sponsored by Mrs. Walter J. Wilde, wife of the collector of customs at Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She entered service in January of 1931.

On 25 November 1866, F. W. BACKUS (wooden propeller, 133 foot, 289 tons, built in 1846, at Amherstburg, Ontario) was carrying hay, horses and cattle off Racine, Wisconsin. She was run to the beach when it was discovered that she was on fire. Her crew and passengers disembarked. The tug DAISY LEE towed her out while she was still burning, intending to scuttle her, but the towline burned through and she drifted back to shore and burned to the waterline. Her live cargo was pushed overboard while she was still well out and they swam to shore.

On 25 November 1874, WILLIAM SANDERSON (wooden schooner, 136 foot, 385 gross tons, built in 1853, at Oswego, New York) was carrying wheat in a storm on Lake Michigan when she foundered. The broken wreck washed ashore off Empire, Michigan, near Sleeping Bear. She was owned by Scott & Brown of Detroit.

During a storm on 25 November 1895, MATTIE C. BELL (wooden schooner, 181 foot, 769 gross tons, built in 1882, at E. Saginaw, Michigan) was in tow of the steamer JIM SHERRIFS on Lake Michigan. The schooner stranded at Big Summer Island, was abandoned in place and later broke up. No lives were lost.

On 25 Nov 1947, the CAPTAIN JOHN ROEN was renamed c.) ADAM E. CORNELIUS by the American Steamship Co. in 1958, CORNELIUS was renamed d.) CONSUMERS POWER. Eventually sold to Erie Sand, she was scrapped at Kaohsiung, Taiwan in 1988. Built in 1927, as a.) GEORGE M. HUMPHERY.

On 25 Nov 1905, the JOSEPH G. BUTLER JR (steel straight-deck bulk freighter, 525 foot, 6,588 gross tons) entered service, departing Lorain, Ohio, for Duluth on her maiden voyage. The vessel was damaged in a severe storm on that first crossing of Lake Superior, but she was repaired and had a long career. She was renamed DONALD B GILLIES in 1935, and GROVEDALE in 1963. She was sunk as a dock in Hamilton in 1973, and finally sold for scrap in 1981.

1904: B.W. BLANCHARD stranded near Alpena, MI and was wrecked. The ship had become unmanageable in heavy weather while enroute to Detroit with a cargo of lumber and was a total loss.

1908: NORTH STAR sank in Lake Huron off Port Sanilac after a collision with NORTHERN QUEEN. The accident occurred in dense fog and the ship went down quickly. All were saved.

1927: THOUSAND ISLANDER cleared Sarnia for Midland under tow of C.S.L. fleetmate COLLINGWOOD and they encountered heavy weather on Lake Huron. The ship was overwhelmed southeast of Thunder Bay Island and sank.

1950: The cargo of steel and package freight aboard the C.S.L. steamer WEYBURN shifted on Lake Ontario in a wild fall storm and the ship took on a precarious list and almost capsized. The ship was escorted to Toronto by RENVOYLE where the problem was corrected.

1971: The Greek freighter ESTIA sank on the Caribbean north of French Guiana after a violent engine room explosion. The ship was bound for Brazil with phosphates and all on board were saved. The vessel had been a Great Lakes visitor as MANCHESTER SPINNER beginning in 1963.

2003: The yacht ALISON LAKE, rebuilt at Toronto from the U.S. Coast Guard ship SAUK, hit a submerged object and sank in very deep water south of Key West, FL. All on board were rescued.

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


Crews begin pumping oil from sunken barge in Lake Erie

11/24 - Toledo, Ohio — Salvage crews have begun an underwater operation to pump a hazardous oil-based substance from a sunken barge that apparently had been sitting undiscovered on the bottom of Lake Erie for nearly 80 years.

Crews have been monitoring the site near the U.S.-Canadian border since discovering a small leak in October that appeared to be coming from a barge called the Argo that sank during a storm in 1937.

A statement by the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which are overseeing the project, says the first of Argo’s eight tanks was tapped Saturday.

The wreckage is one of 87 shipwrecks on a federal registry that identifies the most serious pollution threats to U.S. waters.

Detroit News


Haimark Line cancels sailings through mid-December

11/24 - Cruise industry newcomer Haimark Line has canceled sailings through mid-December.

The small-ship cruise company filed for bankruptcy on Oct. 30 under the Chapter 11 section of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code but at the time didn't cancel any upcoming voyages of its one ship, the 210-passenger Saint Laurent.

USA Today learned of the cancellations from customers who said they had received notices from the line – in some cases just days before they were scheduled to sail. The canceled sailings include a voyage that was set to begin Nov. 11.

In an email to USA Today, Haimark president Hans Rood confirmed the cancellation of voyages on the Saint Laurent through Dec. 11, suggesting that it was a result of the bankruptcy process.

"We are working hard to get the ship back in her sailing schedule and first need to lift Haimark Line out of Chapter 11," Rood said.

Rood suggested the Saint Laurent wouldn't be out of service long. "Negotiations to resolve the problems (that led to the bankruptcy filing) are moving along quite rapidly, and we hope to announce a resolution quite soon, assuring a stable continuation of sailings," he said.

Passengers on the canceled sailings will receive refunds that already are being processed, Rood said.

Initially offering voyages along the Eastern USA and into the Great Lakes, Haimark had a troubled start this summer. The Saint Laurent crashed into a lock while navigating the St. Lawrence Seaway just weeks after its May 30 debut. It was out of service for a month, and four cruises were canceled. A 13-night sailing from Portland, Maine to the Bahamas scheduled to begin Oct. 30 also was canceled, with the line blaming poor weather.

In a statement earlier this month, Haimark blamed the St. Lawrence Seaway accident for the bankruptcy filing, citing insurance issues that remain unresolved. The line charters the Saint Laurent from Clipper Cruises, which owns the vessel.

Haimark in July announced that the Saint Laurent would operate cruises to Cuba out of Miami starting in February, becoming the first ship to do so in decades.

The bankruptcy filing does not affect an affiliated company, Haimark Ltd., that operates river cruises in Asia.

USA Today


Lookback #737 – Katia ravaged by storm off Nova Scotia on Nov. 24, 1988

The 410 foot, 2 inch long Katia went down in the Atlantic about 530 miles off the coast of Nova Scotia, 27-years ago today. The ship was carrying a cargo of bindertwine from Salvador, Brazil, to Carleton, Quebec, when it got caught in a savage late fall storm. It was expected to enter the Seaway after discharging.

A distress call was sent out as the ship battled the wind and 20 foot waves and a Canadian Forces rescue helicopter lifted all 27 sailors to safety. Some were taken to the ship Sankomoon while the others were transported to a temporary landing on Sable Island.

An attempt to tow the listing freighter to safety was unsuccessful and Katia sank Nov. 28 in a position recorded as 40.27 N / 58.49 W.

Katia had been a Seaway trader beginning in 1987 and had been inland previously as c) Timi in 1978 and d) Happy Med in 1981. It was sailing under its sixth name when it sank as Katia.

The vessel had been built at Rendsburg, Germany, and completed on June 24, 1971, as a) Cap Carmel. It saw service under the flags of West Germany, Denmark, Greece and Liberia.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  November 24

Lay-up list updated


Today in Great Lakes History -  November 24

On this day in 1966, Hjalmer Edwards became ill while working as a second cook on the steamer DANIEL J. MORRELL. He was transferred to the hospital at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan when the MORRELL transited the locks for the last time on Thanksgiving Day. Five days later, the DANIEL J. MORRELL sank during a severe storm on Lake Huron with just Dennis Hale as its lone survivor.

On 24 November 1945, SCOTT E. LAND (steel propeller C4-S-A4 cargo ship, 496 foot, 10,654 gross tons) was launched at Kaiser Corporation (Hull #520) in Vancouver, Washington for the U.S. Maritime Commission. She was converted to a straight-deck bulk freighter at Baltimore, Maryland in 1951, and renamed TROY H. BROWNING. In 1955, she was renamed THOMAS F. PATTON. After serving on the Great Lakes, she was scrapped in Karachi, Pakistan, in 1981.

On November 24, 1950, while bound for South Chicago with iron ore, the ENDERS M. VOORHEES collided with the up bound steamer ELTON HOYT II (now the ST. MARYS CHALLENGER) in the Straits of Mackinac during a blinding snowstorm. Both vessels received such serious bow damage that they had to be beached near McGulpin Point west of Mackinaw City to avoid sinking.

ROSEMOUNT, stored with coal, sank alongside CSL's Century Coal Dock at Montreal, Quebec, on November 24, 1934.

Paterson's PRINDOC (Hull#657) was launched November 24, 1965, at Lauzon, Quebec, by Davie Shipbuilding Co. Ltd.

November 24, 1892 - The ANN ARBOR NO 1 ran aground on her first trip just north of the Kewaunee harbor.

On 24 Nov 1881, LAKE ERIE (wooden propeller canaller, 136 foot, 464 gross tons, built in 1873, at St, Catharine's, Ontario) collided with the steamer NORTHERN QUEEN in fog and a blizzard near Poverty Island by the mouth of Green Bay. LAKE ERIE sank in one hour 40 minutes. NORTHERN QUEEN took aboard the crew but one man was scalded and died before reaching Manistique.

The CITY OF SAGINAW 31 entered service in 1931.

On 24 November 1905, ARGO (steel propeller passenger/package freight, 174 foot, 1,089 tons, built in 1896, at Detroit, Michigan) dropped into a trough of a wave, hit bottom and sank in relatively shallow water while approaching the harbor at Holland, Michigan. 38 passengers and crew were taken off by breeches' buoy in a thrilling rescue by the U.S. Lifesaving Service.

NEPTUNE (wooden propeller, 185 foot, 774 gross tons, built in 1856, at Buffalo, New York) was laid up at East Saginaw, Michigan, on 24 November 1874, when she was discovered to be on fire at about 4:00 a.m. She burned to a total loss.

The ANN ARBOR NO 1 left Frankfort for Kewaunee on November 24, 1892. Because of the reluctance of shippers to trust their products on this new kind of ferry it was difficult to find cargo for this first trip. Finally, a fuel company which sold coal to the railroad routed four cars to Kewaunee via the ferry.

1905: ARGO missed the entrance to the harbor at Holland, MI while inbound from Chicago and went aground. All on board, an estimated 72 passengers and crew, were rescued by breeches buoy in a very challenging task. The ship was salvaged in January 1906.

1938: The idle former passenger ship CITY OF BENTON HARBOR was gutted by a fire at Sturgeon Bay.

1970: C.W. CADWELL hit a submerged rock in the Niagara River near Queenston and was stranded.

1988: KATIA was abandoned off Nova Scotia, enroute from Brazil to Carleton, QC, and all 27 on board were taken off by rescue helicopter. Despite salvage efforts, the listing ship sank November 26. It had been through the Seaway earlier in 1987 after previous inland voyages as c) TIMI in 1978 and d) HAPPY MED in 1981.

Data from: Skip Gillham, Joe Barr, Dave Swayze, Max Hanley, Jody Aho, Russ Plumb, Father Dowling Collection, Ahoy & Farewell II, The Marine Historical Society of Detroit and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series.


Port Reports -  November 23

Port Inland, Mich. – Denny Dushane
There were no vessels loading or scheduled for Sunday. Due in on Tuesday will be the barge Pere Marquette 41 and tug Undaunted arriving during the late morning. Mississagi arrives on Wednesday during the early morning and the Wilfred Sykes is also due on Wednesday during the morning also.

Cedarville, Mich. – Denny Dushane
There were no vessels loading or scheduled for Sunday. Due in on Wednesday will be the Pathfinder in the early morning. The Joseph L. Block is due in on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday at noon. Rounding out the schedule is the Philip R. Clarke due in on Saturday, November 28, in the early evening.

Sturgeon Bay, Wis. – Jim Conlon
Saturday evening the tug Dorothy Annand barge Pathfinder arrived at Bay Shipbuilding. Sunday morning the Dorothy Ann was put in the small section of the floating dry dock.

Stoneport, Mich. – Denny Dushane
There were no vessels loading or scheduled for Sunday. Due in on Monday in the early morning will be the John G. Munson. Three vessels are due for Tuesday with the Joseph H. Thompson and the Manistee both arriving in the late morning, followed by the Great Republic in the early evening.

Calcite, Mich. – Denny Dushane
Great Republic loaded at Calcite on Sunday and was expected to depart around 5 p.m. Also due on Sunday in the late afternoon was the Lewis J. Kuber for the South Dock. There are no vessels scheduled for Monday. For Tuesday the Cason J. Callaway arrives at noon loading at the South Dock. The Manitowoc is also due on Tuesday in the early evening for the North Dock. Due on Wednesday during the lunch hour is the Pathfinder for the South Dock. The H. Lee White is also due on Wednesday during the early evening for the South Dock.

Toledo, Ohio – Denny Dushane
The barge James L. Kuber and the tug Victory are expected to arrive at the Torco Iron Ore Dock to unload on Monday in the early morning. Also due at Torco is the Rt. Hon. Paul J. Martin on Monday in the morning, pending weather. The barge Ashtabula and tug Defiance are also due at Torco on Monday in the late evening and the Lee A. Tregurtha is due at Torco on Thanksgiving Day in the late morning. Nothing is due at the Midwest Terminal Stone Dock. Vessels due at the CSX Coal Dock to load include the Algorail on Monday in the early morning, followed by the James L. Kuber in the late morning. Algowood is due at CSX to load on Tuesday in the early morning, and the Algosoo rounds out the schedule at CSX on Wednesday in the mid-afternoon.


Lookback #736 – Former London Grenadier began listing on Nov. 23, 1997

London Grenadier had only been in service a short time when it made its first call through the Seaway in 1972. The SD-14 general cargo vessel had been launched on Feb. 17, 1972, and completed in April 1972 for London & Overseas Freighters.

The 462 foot, 7 inch long, diesel-powered vessel was registered at 9,210 gross tons and able to carry 15,139 tons deadweight.

The British-flag freighter was sold in 1979 and registered in Cyprus as b) First Jay. It was back through the Seaway again that year for Clyde Maritime Ltd.

Another sale in 1986 found the ship registered in the Philippine Islands as c) Simara Express. This ship ran aground (Pos. 29.47 N / 35.42 W) while on a voyage from Durban, South Africa, to Valparaiso, Chile, on Sept. 20, 1993. It was declared a total loss but, despite the damage, was able to complete the voyage.

The ship was sold once more and this time registered in Belize as d) Tian Yuan Xing in 1994. It became e) An Shun in 1996 and, later that year, f) An Tai.

On Nov. 23, 1997, 18 years ago today, the vessel began listing while docked at Port Klang, Malaysia, while unloading fertilizer from Xingang, China. The hull cracked and An Tai settled on the bottom the next day.

A salvage attempt was unsuccessful and the final decision was to cut the hull into sections and sink them in a fish breeding ground, as the pieces were not considered to have any scrap value.

Skip Gillham


Today in Great Lakes History -  November 23

In 1940, the CONSUMERS POWER, a.) HARRY YATES of 1910, collided with the MARITANA on the Detroit River. The MARITANA sustained $11,089.91 in damage. MARITANA was scrapped at Hamilton, Ontario, in 1947.

On 23 November 1863, BAY OF QUINTE (wooden schooner, 250 tons, built in 1853, at Bath, Ontario) was carrying 7,500 bushels of wheat to Toronto when she was driven ashore on Salmon Point on Lake Ontario and wrecked. No lives were lost.

On 23 November 1882, the schooner MORNING LIGHT (wooden schooner, 256 tons, built in 1857, at Cleveland, Ohio) was sailing from Manistee for Chicago with a load of lumber when a storm drove her aground off Claybanks, south of Stony Lake, Michigan. One crewman swam to shore, the rest were saved by a lifesaving crew, local fishermen and the tug B. W. ALDRICH. Earlier that same year, she sank near St. Helen Island in the Straits of Mackinac. She was salvaged and put back in service, but she only lasted a few months.

After discharging her cargo, the SAMUEL MATHER, launched as a.) PILOT KNOB b.) FRANK ARMSTRONG (1943-73), proceeded to DeTour, Michigan, laying up for the last time at the Pickands Mather Coal Dock on November 23, 1981. She was scrapped at Aliaga, Turkey in 1988.

In 1987, the self-unloader ROGERS CITY was towed out of Menominee, Michigan, for scrapping in Brazil.

STADACONA's sea trials were completed on November 23, 1952, and was delivered to Canada Steamship Lines the next day.

On 23 November 1872, Capt. W. B. Morley launched the propeller JARVIS LORD at Marine City, Michigan. Her dimensions were 193 feet X 33 feet X 18 feet, 1,000 tons. She was the first double decker built at Marine City. Her engine was from Wm. Cowie of Detroit.

On 23 November 1867, S. A. CLARK (wooden propeller tug, 12 tons, built in 1863, at Buffalo, New York) was in Buffalo's harbor when her boiler exploded and she sank.

November 23, 1930 - The Ann Arbor carferry WABASH grounded in Betsie Lake. She bent her rudder stock and her steering engine was broken up.

On 23 November 1853, the wooden schooner PALESTINE was bound from Kingston to Cleveland with railroad iron at about the same time as the like-laden schooner ONTONAGON. Eight miles west of Rochester, New York, both vessels ran ashore, were pounded heavily by the waves and sank. Both vessels reported erratic variations in their compasses. The cargoes were removed and ONTONAGON was pulled free on 7 December, but PALESTINE was abandoned. A similar event happened with two other iron-laden vessels a few years previously at the same place.

On 23 November 1853, the Ward Line's wooden side-wheeler HURON struck an unseen obstruction in the Saginaw River and sank. She was raised on 12 December 1853, towed to Detroit and repaired at a cost of $12,000. She was then transferred to Lake Michigan to handle the cross-lake traffic given the Ward Line by the Michigan Central Railroad. The carferry GRAND HAVEN was sold to the West India Fruit & Steamship Co., Norfolk, Virginia in 1946, and was brought down the Mississippi River to New Orleans, Louisiana for reconditioning before reaching Port Everglades and the Port of Palm Beach, Florida. She was brought back to the Lakes and locked up bound through the Welland Canal on 23 Nov 1964. She was intended for roll on/roll off carrier service to haul truck trailers laden with steel coils from Stelco's plant at Hamilton, Ont.

CSL NIAGARA a.) J. W. McGIFFIN, passed Port Huron, Michigan on 23 Nov 1999, on her way to Thunder Bay to load grain. This was her first trip to the upper lakes since the vessel was re-launched as a SeawayMax carrier in June 1999.

1901: QUITO stranded off Lorain, Ohio, and broke up in a Lake Erie storm. All on board were saved.

1902: SILVANUS J. MACY was last observed battling heavy seas in Lake Erie off Port Burwell. The coal laden, wooden steamer was lost with all hands.

1936: A fire at Portsmouth, Ontario, just west of Kingston, destroyed several idle wooden steamers including the SIMON LANGELL and PALM BAY. Their remains were towed into Lake Ontario and scuttled in 1937.

1961: AMVRAKIKOS ran aground on Pancake Shoal, Lake Superior, on its first and only visit to the Great Lakes. This World War Two vintage Liberty ship was refloated on November 26, loaded scrap steel at Toledo for Japan and was the last saltwater ship of the 1961 season to depart the St. Lawrence Seaway.

1997: AN TAI, an SD 14 cargo carrier registered in Belize, began to list and then the hull cracked at the dock in Port Klang, Malaysia. The ship sank at the wharf the next day. The vessel had visited the Great Lakes, first as a) LONDON GRENADIER in 1972 and again as b) FIRST JAY in 1979. Subsequent salvage efforts failed and the hull was cut into sections, taken out to sea, and dumped in a fish breeding grounds.

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


Senators push for Great Lakes heavy icebreaking ship

11/22 - Washington, D.C. – Eight U.S. senators from the Great Lakes region are pushing for federal funding of a new icebreaking vessel to clear paths for winter cargo shipping.

Sens. Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow of Michigan and six colleagues from neighboring states have sent a letter to leaders of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security requesting money to design and build the craft.

The U.S. Coast Guard has nine cutters on the Great Lakes that have some icebreaking capability. But the Mackinaw is the only “heavy icebreaker” assigned to the lakes, which has led to significant backlogs in recent winters.

The senators’ letter says thick ice caused a 3.2-million-ton drop in Great Lakes freight shipping last winter, costing $355 million in lost revenue and nearly 2,000 jobs.



Wisconsin-built combat ship commissioned in Milwaukee

11/22 - Milwaukee, Wis. – The USS Milwaukee littoral combat ship, a warship built in Wisconsin, was commissioned Saturday and is now ready to report for duty in the South China Sea.

An estimated 4,000 people turned out on a snowy, windy day for the ship's commissioning ceremony on Lake Michigan at Milwaukee's Veterans Park, the Journal Sentinel reported. Speakers included Gov. Scott Walker, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore and U.S. Sens. Ron Johnson and Tammy Baldwin.

Cmdr. Kendall Bridgewater, the ship's commanding officer, told the crowd that the USS Milwaukee and other littoral combat ships bring "incredible change to our Navy."

The ships can operate much closer to shore, and sail at faster speeds, than other vessels. Littoral combat ships also are designed to quickly swap out combat modules for missions that include searching for underwater mines, and battling other ships and submarines.

Those features help ensure "an unimpeded flow of commerce" on the world's oceans, said Adm. Michelle Howard, vice chief of naval operations.

The USS Fort Worth, sister ship to the USS Milwaukee, is now on duty in the South China Sea, said Rear Adm. Brian Antonio. The USS Milwaukee will soon join Navy patrols there, said Antonio, program executive officer of littoral combat ships.

"Like the USS Fort Worth, the USS Milwaukee represents the best of our nation and our Navy," he said.

But some question the effectiveness of the USS Milwaukee, and other littoral combat ships. The ship's interchangeable modules are supposed to make the ships more versatile, with each version tailored for a specific purpose. The original goal was to be able to change the modules in 72 hours.

Critics say that concept isn't working, and that the littoral combat ships don't have the firepower, or armor, of larger warships.

The USS Milwaukee has undergone sailing trials on Lake Michigan since Marinette Marine Corp. finished building it. It is the third Freedom-class littoral combat ship built in Marinette. The first, the USS Freedom, was commissioned in Milwaukee in 2008. But the USS Milwaukee wasn't officially part of the Navy's active fleet until the commissioning ceremony.

Baldwin said the USS Milwaukee is an essential piece of the nation's defense, and helps support Wisconsin's economy with jobs at Marinette Marine and its suppliers. The littoral ship program has created 2,000 direct jobs in Wisconsin, Baldwin's office said.

Seven additional littoral combat ships are in various stages of production at Marinette Marine, said Stephanie Hill, vice president and general manager of Lockheed Martin Corp.'s ship and aviation systems business line. Lockheed Martin is the general contractor for littoral combat ships, and subcontracts work to Marinette Marine.

After this weekend, the USS Milwaukee will travel through the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence Seaway to the East Coast, then south to the Panama Canal to reach its home port of San Diego.

News Observer


New Polsteam vessel Narew due in Montreal

11/22 - Narew is expected to arrive in Montreal on Nov. 28. It was built in 2012 at the Sanfu Ship Engineering and Shipyard in Taizhou Jiangsu, China, for the Polish Steamship Company (Polsteam).

This will be the first time that the Narew has traveled through the St. Lawrence River. They will be arriving from Tampa, Fla., and will eventually be heading to Cote Ste. Catherine, Que.

Narew is one of eight new vessels built for Polsteam in Taizhou Jiangsu, China at the Sanfu yard since 2011, when the first vessel, Regalica, was built.

Denny Dushane


Port Reports -  November 22

Oswego, N.Y. – Ned Goebricher
Saturday, the Stephen B. Roman unloaded cement.


Lookback #735 – Pierson Daughters hit bottom at North Colban Island on Nov. 22, 1975

The Canadian bulk carrier Pierson Daughters had not been in service for long when it went aground in the St. Lawrence off North Colban Island 40 years ago today. The ship had been rechristened at Port Colborne on Sept. 14, 1975, and entered service for the Soo River Co. heading up bound for a load of grain.

Pierson Daughters sustained bottom damage in the accident of Nov. 22, 1975, and, once released, it continued on to Conneaut, Ohio, to unload its cargo of iron ore before proceeding to Port Weller Dry Docks in St. Catharines for repairs.

The ship was built at Cleveland and joined the Interlake Steamship Co. as a) Charles M. Schwab in August 1923. The 600 foot long bulk carrier was rebuilt and lengthened at Lorain, Ohio, in 1960-1961 incorporating the stern from the T-2 tanker Gulfport. It continued to serve Interlake until a sale to Robert Pierson Holdings Ltd. in 1975.

After a refit it joined Pierson's Soo River Co. and remained in their service until the company sold their fleet to P. & H. Shipping in 1982.

Renamed c) Beechglen by P. & H., the ship had an eventful career in their colors. These included a grounding west of Montreal in July 1986, being fired on at least 12 times while navigating the Seaway in April 1988, and having the hull buckle while unloading at Cardinal on April 30, 1991.

Beechglen operated until tying up at Owen Sound on Dec. 22, 1993. It was sold to International Marine Salvage and arrived at Port Maitland, behind the tug Kay Cole, on Aug. 30, 1994. The vessel was broken up for scrap with the final work being completed in Sept. 1996.

Menawhile, and thanks to Jay Bascom, we can add the following information on Lookback #734 – Resolute. The accident involving the Resolute did not happen at the Eastern Gap. “Sullivan’s Ride” took place in the old Western Gap (where it was before the harbor face was extended southward). Resolute had tried to get into Toronto Bay by the Eastern Gap but could not because the channel was obstructed and the storm too fierce. So she went around to the west end of Toronto Island to shelter but when the wind changed, the ship was caught on the lee shore and had to try to make it through the shallow Western Gap. That’s when things started to come apart. The accident led to improvements to the western channel.

Skip Gillham


Today in Great Lakes History -  November 22

In 1947, the Canadian tanker BRUCE HUDSON broke down shortly after departing Port Stanley, Ont. The U.S. tanker ROCKET, Captain R. B. Robbins, managed to get a line on the HUDSON and tow her 50 miles through high seas and a snow storm to shelter behind Point Pelee. Later, the tug ATOMIC arrived on scene and towed the Hudson to Toledo for repairs.

On 22 November 1860, WABASH VALLEY (wooden propeller, 592 tons, built in 1856, at Buffalo, New York) was caught in a blizzard and gale off Muskegon, Michigan, on Lake Michigan. Her skipper thought they were off Grand Haven and as he steamed to the harbor, visibility dropped to near zero. The vessel ran onto the beach. Her momentum and the large storm waves carried her well up onto the beach where she broke in two. Her machinery was salvaged and went into the new steamer SUNBEAM.

Scrapping of SPRUCEGLEN, a.) WILLIAM K. FIELD was completed on November 22, 1986, by Lakehead Scrap Metal Co. at Thunder Bay Ontario. SPRUCEGLEN was the last Canadian coal-fired bulker.

On 22 November 1869, CREAM CITY (3-mast wooden bark, 629 tons, built in 1862, at Sheboygan, Wisconsin) was carrying wheat in a gale when she lost her way and went ashore on Drummond Island. She appeared to be only slightly damaged, but several large pumps were unable to lower the water in her hull. She was finally abandoned as a total wreck on 8 December. She was built as a "steam bark" with an engine capable of pushing her at 5 or 6 mph. After two months of constant minor disasters, this was considered an unsuccessful experiment and the engine was removed.

CITY OF MILWAUKEE was chartered to the Ann Arbor Railroad Co. and started the Frankfort, Michigan-Kewaunee, Wisconsin service for them on November 22, 1978.

November 22, 1929 - CITY OF SAGINAW 31 went out on her sea trials.

On 22 November 1860, CIRCASSIAN (wooden schooner, 135 foot, 366 tons, built in 1856, at Irving, New York) was carrying grain in a gale and blizzard on Lake Michigan when she stranded on White Shoals near Beaver Island. She sank to her decks and then broke in two. Her crew was presumed lost, but actually made it to Hog Island in the blizzard and they were not rescued from there for two weeks.

A final note from the Big Gale of 1879. On 22 November 1879, The Port Huron Times reported, "The barge DALTON is still high and dry on the beach at Point Edward."

1878: The wooden passenger and freight steamer WAUBUNO was lost with all hands, 14 crew and 10 passengers, on Georgian Bay.

1898: ARTHUR ORR went aground on Isle Royale when the steering gear failed in a severe storm. It was later released and survived until scrapping at Hamilton in 1947-1948.

1898: S.S. CURRY was leaking badly after it struck a reef off Duck Island, Lake Huron.

1906: J.H. JONES, en route from Owen Sound to Lions Head, was lost with all hands. The wooden passenger and freight steamer went down in 60 mph winds.

1907: Fire broke out aboard the wooden freighter LIZZIE MADDEN shortly after clearing Bay City for Little Current. The crew was rescued by the LANGELL BOYS. The burning hull drifted ashore on Little Charity Island in Saginaw Bay and was a total loss.

1911: JOLIET sank in the St. Clair River following a collision with the HENRY PHIPPS. It had been anchored due to fog when hit and all on board were saved. The remains were dynamited as a hazard to navigation.

1919: The wooden steamer MYRON sank off Crisp Point, Lake Superior and 17 crew were lost.

1950: The former Canada Steamship Lines canaller MAPLETON was destroyed at the Port of Suez, Egypt as b) EASTERN MED when a fire broke out while loading oil drums. The remains of the ship were scrapped.

1975: PIERSON DAUGHTERS hit bottom off North Colban Island in the St. Lawrence and had to go to Port Weller Dry Docks for repairs after unloading the cargo of iron ore at Conneaut.

1988: The Dutch flag freighter POOLSTER first came through the Seaway in 1969. It suffered an engineroom fire off Kuwait as e) ATLANTIC REEFER while bound for Dubai on this date. The badly damaged ship was towed to Sharjah and then sold for scrap. It was renamed f) VOYAGER I for the trip to Gadani Beach, Pakistan, and the vessel arrived April 4, 1989, for dismantling.

1998: SPAR OPAL went aground inside the breakwall at Port Colborne due to high winds and was released by the tugs UNDAUNTED and WELLAND. The ship had also been a Seaway trader beginning in 1984 as a) LAKE SHIDAKA, in 1991 as b) CONSENSUS ATLANTIC, and in 1992 as c) FEDERAL MATANE (i). It began Great Lakes service as e) SPAR OPAL in 1997.

2000: PRINSES IRENE of the Oranje Lijn made 16 trips into the Great Lakes, with passengers and freight, from 1959 through 1963. The vessel was observed beached at Jakarta, Indonesia, as c) TANJUNG OSINA on this date and appeared to be badly rusted and burned out. The hull was later reported to have been broken up.

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


Whitefish Bay is a parking lot, due to windy weather on Lake Superior

11/21 - Paradise, Mich. – Lake Superior's Whitefish Bay is a parking lot right now, or, at least that's what they call it in Paradise.

Seven freighters have hunkered down in Whitefish Bay for the moment, presumably waiting for Lower Michigan's first snowstorm of the season to blow over. Big waves and gale conditions were forecast Thursday and Friday on parts of Lake Superior.

As of Friday evening, the Cason J. Callaway, Frontenac, Sam Laud, Pineglen, CSL Niagara and CSL Assiniboine were waiting at anchor in the bay, on a general northwest-southeast line between Paradise and Brimley. BBC Mont Blanc and American Integrity were upbound headed for Lake Superior after passing through the Soo Locks in Sault Ste. Marie.

Nikki Craig, owner of the Freighters View of the Bay Motel north of Paradise, said it's not unheard of to see multiple vessels at anchor in the bay at one time, but it certainly doesn't happen very often.

In any given year, "you might see this four times at the most," she said.

When ships park offshore, it tends to be the talk of Paradise, a small community that draws tourists from Tahquamenon Falls, Crisp Point Lighthouse, the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum and nearby natural areas.

"Last night, we could see the lights of several ships," she said. "It's kind of amazing to see them out there. They drop anchor and just sit."



Manitoulin due today at Sept Iles

11/21 - The new laker Manitoulin, coming to Canada from China, is expected at Sept Iles early this afternoon. A ballast cargo of stone will the unloaded, then she will officially start her cargo-carrying career for Lower Lakes Towing. Her first cargo will be a load of iron ore for Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.

Paul Beesley


El Nino expected to halt historic rise in Great Lakes

11/21 - Detroit, Mich. – El Nino, the weather-skewing, climate-changing phenomenon that originates in the Pacific Ocean, will likely bring a historic water level rise of the Great Lakes to an end in 2016.

After more than a dozen years of below-average water levels, 2014 and 2015 produced an unprecedented rapid rise in the lakes back to near or at average levels. This year’s El Nino, which some forecasters predict could be the strongest in 50 years, should halt the rise in the next six months, according to a forecast released Thursday.

In addition, El Nino is expected to affect the amount of snow and rainfall Michigan experiences in the next six months. Experts with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers discussed the looming impacts of the phenomenon in a Thursday conference call with reporters.

El Nino is expected to produce warmer temperatures during the winter months than in previous years. But don’t put away the parkas just yet.

“I do want to stress that this does not preclude shorter periods of colder winter weather,” said Jim Noel, hydrologist with NOAA’s National Weather Service Ohio River Forecast Center. “However, the chance of a repeat of a cold winter like the last two years is fairly low ... because of El Nino.”

Frigid winters during the past two years have resulted in 92.5 percent of the Great Lakes being covered by ice in 2013-14 and 88.8 percent in 2014-15 — far above average.

NOAA describes El Nino as a “periodic warming in sea surface temperatures across the central and east-central Equatorial Pacific.”

Along with higher temperatures across the Great Lakes, Noel said the region will see less snowfall.

“One thing we are fairly confident in is the snowfall this winter will likely be not as much as we’ve seen the last two years,” he said.

At this time of year, the lakes are in the midst of a seasonal decline as levels drop from the highs of late summer. The fall is typically driven by the arrival of colder air. When spring rolls around, a seasonal rise occurs for the swimming/boating season.

But temperatures this fall will remain warmer than usual, opening a new set of possibilities.

“One potential impact would be a lower seasonal decline (from) lower evaporation because the water temperature and air temperature differential isn’t (as large) as it typically is,” said Keith Kompoltowicz, chief of hydrology at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Detroit District. “We also will likely see a lower seasonal rise come spring time.”

Kompoltowicz said those patterns are expected to result in:

• Lake Superior, Lake Michigan and Lake Huron remaining above their long-term averages during the next six months, but fall below levels registered in 2015.

• Lake Erie staying above its historical average in the next six months and remaining above last year’s levels as well.

• Lake Ontario staying at, or slightly below, its long-term average through the next six months and consistently being at or above last year’s levels.

• Lake St. Clair remaining well above its long-term average in the next six months and well above last year’s levels as well.

Detroit News


Port Reports -  November 21

Port Inland, Mich. – Denny Dushane
Kaye E. Barker was expected to arrive Friday at noon, weather permitting. Manitowoc was due a half hour later, and was expected to anchor awaiting the Barker's departure. Also expected to arrive on Friday was the Calumet in the late evening. Wilfred Sykes is due Saturday in the early evening. All times are weather permitting and can change.

Calcite, Mich. – Denny Dushane
The were no vessels loading on Friday and none are scheduled for Saturday. Two vessels are due Sunday, both in the afternoon, with the Lewis J. Kuber arriving first at noon for the South Dock and the John G. Munson in the late afternoon for the North Dock. Due Monday is the H. Lee White is the mid-afternoon for the South Dock. Two vessels are due Tuesday, with the Cason J. Callaway arriving during the early morning for the South Dock and the Manitowoc due for the North Dock in the early evening. Times are weather permitting and can change.

Stoneport, Mich. – Denny Dushane
Lewis J. Kuber loaded on Friday and was expected to depart around 6 p.m. There are three vessels scheduled to load on Saturday, with the Joseph H. Thompson and Herbert C. Jackson due in the early morning and Great Republic due in the early evening. There are no vessels scheduled for Sunday. Due in on Monday is the Joseph H. Thompson in the early afternoon, followed by the Lewis J. Kuber in the late evening. All times are weather permitting.

Toledo, Ohio – Denny Dushane
Saginaw was expected to arrive at the CSX Coal Dock in Toledo to load on Friday in the late evening. Also due at CSX will be the Algorail on Sunday in the early morning, also making a rare visit. The Robert S. Pierson is due to arrive on Saturday at noon to unload limestone at the Midwest Terminal Stone Dock. Due at the Torco Iron Ore Dock is the Rt. Hon. Paul J. Martin arriving on Sunday in the early evening to unload. The James L. Kuber is due at Torco to unload also on Sunday in the early evening. The tanker Algosea remains at the Ironhead Shipyard Drydock in Toledo. Only the tugs Paul L. Luedtke and the Mississippi were in port at the time of this report.

Oswego, N.Y. – Ned Goebricher
The Canadian-flagged motor ship Manitoba was loading soybeans at the Oswego, NY Port Authority dock Friday morning.


Welland Canal Notice to Shipping #9 issued

11/21 - View it here:


Lookback #734 – Wooden steamer Resolute wrecked at Toronto on Nov. 21, 1906

The Resolute was built at Deseronto, Ont., for the Rathburn Lumber Co. and launched on April 11, 1883. The 142 foot long steamship was used in the lumber trade and carried up to 325,000 board feet per trip on the route between Deseronto and Oswego, N.Y. Returning north, the ship often carried coal.

On Nov. 21, 1906, the Resolute was inbound for Toronto with coal from Erie, Pa., but went to anchor off the Eastern Gap due to a storm. A change in the wind direction left the ship badly exposed and the vessel was battered by the elements and sank. The pilothouse was torn loose with the captain still inside. The structure remained afloat and was blown right through the Eastern Gap and into the harbor. Seven lives were lost including five crewmen, who took to the port lifeboat.

Resolute was salvaged in Oct. 1907, rebuilt at Toronto and re-entered service in 1908 as b) John Rolph. It worked many years for Pointe Anne Quarries but was laid up at Toronto about 1923. The ship eventually settled in the mud but was pumped out and towed to Hanlan's Point prior to being taken into Lake Ontario and scuttled in 1926.

Skip Gillham


Today in Great Lakes History -  November 21

In 1934, the package freighter EDWARD L. LOOMIS, Captain Alex McKenzie, collided with the W. C. FRANZ, Captain Alex McIntyre, about 30 miles southeast of Thunder Bay Island, Lake Huron. Four crewmen on the FRANZ drowned when the lifeboat turned over while being lowered.

On 21 November 1861, ENTERPRISE (2-mast wooden scow-schooner, 64 foot, 56 tons, built in 1854, at Port Huron, Michigan) was driven ashore near Bark Shanty at the tip of Michigan's thumb on Lake Huron. The storm waves pounded her to pieces. Her outfit was salvaged a few days later.

On the evening of 21 November 1890, the scow MOLLIE (wooden scow-schooner, 83 foot, 83 gross tons, built in 1867, at Fairport, Ohio) left Ludington, Michigan, with a load of lumber. About 8:00 p.m., when she was just 25 miles off Ludington, she started to leak in heavy seas, quickly becoming waterlogged. Capt. Anderson and his two-man crew had just abandoned the vessel in the yawl when the steamer F & P M NO 4 showed up, shortly after midnight. The rough weather washed Capt. Anderson out of the yawl, but he made it back in. At last a line from the F & P M NO 4 was caught and made fast to the yawl and the crew made it to the steamer. The men had a narrow escape, for the MOLLIE was going to pieces rapidly, and there was little likelihood of the yawl surviving in the gale.

PATERSON (Hull#113) was launched November 21, 1953, at Port Arthur, Ontario, by Port Arthur Ship Building Co. Ltd.

In 1924, MERTON E. FARR slammed into the Interstate Bridge that linked Superior, Wisconsin, with Duluth, Minnesota, causing extensive damage to the bridge. The bridge span fell into the water but the FARR received only minor damage to her bow.

On 21 November 1869, the ALLIANCE (wooden passenger sidewheeler, 87 foot, 197 gross tons, built in 1857, at Buffalo, New York) slipped her moorings at Lower Black Rock in the Niagara River and went over the falls. She had been laid up since the spring of 1869.

November 21, 1906 - The PERE MARQUETTE 17 encountered one of the worst storms in many years while westbound for the Wisconsin Central slip in Manitowoc. Wisconsin. She made port safely, but the wind was so high that she could not hold her course up the river without assistance. The tug ARCTIC assisted, and as they were proceeding through the 10th Street Bridge, a gust of wind from the south drove the ferry and tug against the north pilings of the 10th Street Bridge. The ARCTIC, pinned between the ferry and the bridge, was not damaged, but she crushed the hull of a fishing tug moored there, sinking her, and inflicted damage of a few hundred dollars to the bridge.

November 21, 1923 - Arthur Stoops, the lookout on the ANN ARBOR NO 6, was drowned while stepping from the apron onto the knuckle to cast off the headline.

On the night of 21 November 1870, C.W. ARMSTRONG (wooden propeller steam tug, 57 foot, 33 tons, built in 1856, at Albany, New York) burned at her dock at Bay City, Michigan. No lives were lost.

More incidents from the Big Gale of 1879. On 21 November 1879, The Port Huron Times reported "The schooner MERCURY is ashore at Pentwater. The schooner LUCKY is high and dry at Manistee; the schooner WAUBASHENE is on the beach east of Port Colborne. The schooner SUMATRA is on the beach at Cleveland; the large river tug J P Clark capsized and sunk at Belle Isle in the Detroit River on Wednesday [19 Nov.] and sank in 15 minutes. One drowned. The schooner PINTO of Oakville, Ontario, stone laden, went down in 30 feet of water about one mile down from Oakville. At Sand beach the barge PRAIRIE STATE is rapidly going to pieces.

1883: The boiler exploded aboard the salvage tug ERIE BELLE while working to free the schooner J.N. CARTER in the Kincardine area of Lake Huron. The former was wrecked but the boiler is still on what has become known as “Old Boiler Beach”.

1902: BANNOCKBURN disappeared on Lake Superior without a trace. Its final resting place has never been found. 1906: The wooden steamer RESOLUTE anchored off the Eastern Gap at Toronto to ride out a storm but the wind switched battering the vessel until it sank. The hull was salvaged in October 1907 and rebuilt as the JOHN ROLPH.

1936: HIBOU was lost in Owen Sound Bay within two miles of the dock and seven perished. The hull was refloated in 1942.

1941: HENRY C. DARYAW, requisitioned for war and on its delivery voyage stranded on rocks in the Brockville Narrows, rolled over and slid off into deep water and sank. It was to have been used on the east coast as a tender for ocean ships. One life was lost.

1957: MONTFAUCON was built at Wyandotte, MI in 1920 and later operated on the Great Lakes as b) E.M. BUNCE. It was at Naples, Italy, as g) ANNA MARIA IEVOLI when an internal explosion caused damage that led to the ship being scrapped.

1959: MOSES GAY was built at Duluth in 1943. It was severely damaged as e) HEANGURA in a storm at Ostra Kvarken, Sweden, and went aground. While salvaged, the ship was tied up at Turku, Finland, and sold for scrap in January 1960.

1961: The British freighter RAPALLO was anchored at Istanbul, Turkey, when struck and damaged by two different freighters, both out of control due to high winds. The vessel was repaired and began Seaway trading in 1963 for the Ellerman Wilson Line.

1961: The former Paterson canaller GANANDOC left the Great Lakes as b) SUGARLAND in October 1961. It had a brief career in the south and went aground at Arcas Reef, Bay of Campeche, while inbound for Coatzacoalcos, Mexico with 2,877 tons of phosphoric rock from Tampa. The ship was abandoned on November 26 as a total loss.

1962: BRO, a Norwegian pre-Seaway visitor as early as 1953, was abandoned by the crew after taking a severe list en route from Seville, Spain, to Rotterdam, Netherlands. The ship was taken in tow, reached Lisbon, Portugal, and was repaired.

1982: CAPTAIN PANAGOS D.P. went aground at Farasan Island in the Red Sea en route from Trois Rivieres, QC to Bandar Abbas, Iran. Fire broke out in the engine room and the ship was gutted. The hull was refloated and was noted lying off Qatar “derelict” in December 1986 and finally scrapped at Gadani Beach, Pakistan, as c) JENNY in 1988. The vessel first came through the Seaway as PANAGOS D. PATERAS in 1977 and returned as CAPTAIN PANAGOS D.P. in 1980.

1994: The Russian freighter FASTOV, upbound for Green Bay with pulpwood on its first trip to the Great Lakes, lost power and struck the Shell dock at Corunna, ON, resulting in considerable damage to the structure. The vessel returned inland as d) EVANGELOS in 1999 and was scrapped at Aliaga, Turkey, as f) JONA in 2011.

2007: The engine aboard the Lake Erie passenger ship JIIMAAN became disabled after the vessel snagged a fish net off Kingsville and the vessel grounded briefly.

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


More big waves on Great Lakes, building to 26 feet on Lake Superior

11/20 - Forecasters are again calling for big waves on the Great Lakes, with a maximum wave height of 26 feet possible on Lake Superior. Many vessels have gone to anchor in anticipation of the storm.

The National Weather Service has issued gale warnings for Lake Michigan, Lake Superior and Lake Huron that remained in effect through late Thursday or Friday afternoon, depending on the location.

Sustained winds of 37 knots and gusts of 52 knots from the southwest are expected to whip up 13-foot waves on Lake Superior near Ontonagon. A maximum wave height of 20 feet was possible in the area Thursday evening. Waves will grow larger -- up to 26 feet -- to the east in Eagle River and north at the Canadian border, forecasters say. Isle Royale National Park is included in the warning in effect until 4 p.m. Friday.

There won't be as much wave action on Lake Michigan, where a gale warning was in effect from St. Joseph to Manistee until 4 a.m. Friday. Winds as strong as 40 knots were expected to build waves up to 10 feet Thursday.

The largest waves on Lake Huron will form over the central part of the lake. The warning covers the Saginaw Bay, where waves between 8 and 11 feet are possible. Thursday's warning also included offshore waters from the Mackinac Bridge south to Port Sanilac. Forecasters say 14-foot waves were expected, and waves building to 20 feet were possible.

M Live


Port Reports -  November 20

Lorain, Ohio – Drew Leonard, Phil Leon
Joseph H. Thompson tug and barge passed under the Charles Berry bridge at 1:40 p.m. Thursday, headed for the Lafarge stone dock.

Oswego, N.Y. – Ned Goebricher
Thursday English River unloaded cement.


Lookback #733 – Former Mount Evans, a Liberty ship, grounded on Nov. 20, 1966

The Liberty ship Mount Evans, a Seaway trader on two occasions in 1961, had a total of eight names and was wrecked in a grounding off the Philppines 49-years ago today.

The 441 foot, 6 inch long ship was launched at Portland, Maine, on Jan. 28, 1944, and completed the following month as a) Sarah Orne Jewett. It entered war service for the United States Maritime Commission with a capacity of close to 10,000 tons deadweight.

It survived the war unscathed but lost its propeller in Nov. 1947, while about 440 miles east of St. John's, Newfoundland, during on a voyage from Rouen, France, to New York.

The vessel was sold for commercial service in 1949, but resold and renamed b) Nikos in 1951. Then, in 1953, it became c) John Paul Jones, d) National Liberty in 1954 and e) Mount Evans in 1959. All of these names retained American registry as it did on becoming f) Wyoming in 1963.

The ship left the stars and stripes later in 1963 on becoming g) Yucatan under the Liberian flag. It retained that registry when resold and renamed h) Eastern Argo in 1965. The latter stranded off Mapingil, Philippines, on Nov. 20, 1966. While refloated, the 24-year old Liberty ship had hull damage that was not worth the cost of repair.

The vessel was towed to Jose Panganiban and then on to Kaohsiung, Taiwan, to complete the intended voyage. It was subsequently taken to Keelung, Taiwan, and laid up on Feb. 7, 1967. Following a sale to Taiwan shipbreakers, the hull was broken up at Keelung beginning in Sept. 1967.

Skip Gillham


Today in Great Lakes History -  November 20

In 1948, the ROBERT HOBSON was blown against the Duluth-Superior breakwall as she tried to enter the harbor during a 68-mph gale. Damage to the vessel was kept to a minimum when Captain John Mc Nellis ordered the seacocks opened to settle the HOBSON on a sandbar. Renamed b.) OUTARDE in 1975, she was scrapped at Port Colborne, Ontario in 1985.

On 20 November 1854, BURLINGTON (2-mast wooden brig, 80 foot, 117 tons, built in 1842, at Cleveland, Ohio) was driven hard aground near Port Bruce, Ontario, on Lake Huron while trying to assist the stranded Canadian bark GLOBE.

SAGINAW was christened at the Government Dock in Sarnia, Ontario, in 1999. Bonnie Bravener and Wendy Siddall broke the traditional bottle of champagne adding the second vessel to Lower Lakes Towing's fleet. The company then opened the vessel for tours to all those in the large crowd that had gathered to witness the event. She was built in 1953 as a.) JOHN J. BOLAND.

Hall Corporation of Canada's EAGLESCLIFFE HALL was launched in 1956, at Grangemouth, Scotland. Sold off the lakes, renamed b.) EAGLESCLIFFE in 1974, she sank two miles east of Galveston, Texas, on February 9, 1983.

The ferry WOLFE ISLANDER was christened on November 20, 1946, at Marysville, Wolfe Island. The new ferry was the unfinished OTTAWA MAYBROOK which was built to serve the war effort in the south Pacific Ocean. She replaced two landing barges which were pressed quickly into service following the condemned steamer WOLFE ISLANDER, a.) TOM FAWCETT of 1904, which had served the community for 42 years. Officially christened WOLFE ISLANDER by Mrs. Sarah Russell, it took five tries before the champagne bottle finally broke on her port side.

Pittsburgh Steamship's steamer RALPH H. WATSON (Hull#285) was launched in 1937, at River Rouge, Michigan, by Great Lakes Engineering Works.

On 20 November 1872, the side wheel steamer W. J .SPICER was finally laid up and the crew dismissed. She had served for many years as the Grand Trunk ferry at Fort Gratiot on the St. Clair River.

On 20 November 1880, BAY CITY (wooden barge, 199 foot, 480 tons, built in 1852, at Trenton, Michigan as the sidewheeler FOREST CITY) was carrying coal when she was cast adrift east of Erie, Pennsylvania by the steamer JAMES P. DONALDSON in a storm. She was driven ashore and wrecked. Her crew was saved by the U.S. Lifesaving Service using breeches' buoy. November 20, 1898. ANN ARBOR #3 left Cleveland, Ohio for Frankfort, Michigan, on her maiden voyage.

November 20, 1924 - Pere Marquette fleet engineer Finlay MacLaren died after 42 years with the railroad. He was succeeded by his brother Robert until Leland H. Kent was named fleet engineer in 1925.

On 20 Nov. 1871, the schooner E. B. ALLEN was sailing from Chicago to Buffalo with a load of corn when she crossed the bow of the bark NEWSBOY about six miles off the Thunder Bay Light on Lake Huron. The NEWSBOY slammed her bow deep into the schooner's hull amidships and the ALLEN sank in about 30 minutes. The crew escaped in the yawl. The NEWSBOY was badly damaged but did not sink.

On 20 Nov. 1999, the Bermuda-flag container ship CANMAR TRIUMPH went aground on the St. Lawrence River off Varennes about 15 kilometers downstream from Montreal. She was the third vessel to run aground in the St. Lawrence River that autumn. The Canadian Coast Guard reported that she was having engine problems and the CBC News reported that the vessel's rudder was damaged in the grounding.

On Saturday morning, 20 Nov. 1999, Marinette Marine Corporation of Marinette, Wisconsin, launched the 175-foot Coast Guard Cutter HENRY BLAKE. The BLAKE was one of the "Keeper" Class Coastal Class Buoy Tenders. Each ship in the "Keeper" class is named after a famous American lighthouse keeper. 1917: JOHAN MJELDE, built at Cleveland in 1916, was sailing as b) STORO when captured by the German submarine U-151 near the Azores and, after 22 tons of copper were removed, the ship was scuttled on November 26.

1920: J.H. SHEADLE ran aground on the rocks at Marquette when the steering failed while backing from the dock. The ship was badly damaged. It last sailed in 1979 as e) PIERSON INDEPENDENT.

1943: The former LAKE FINNEY, later a Pre-Seaway trader in the 1930s as SANTA EULALIA, was torpedoed and sunk by British forces as the enemy ship c) POLCEVERA off Carlovassi, Italy. 1966: The Liberty ship MOUNT EVANS made two trips through the Seaway in 1961. It stranded off Mapingil, Philippines as h) EASTERN ARGO on this date in 1966. The hull was refloated with damage and then towed to Taiwan for scrapping in 1967.

1990: GINA, a Lebanese freighter, began leaking at Varna, Bulgaria. The ship was later taken to Piraeus, Greece, and laid up. The superstructure was removed and installed on a fire damaged vessel while the hull was towed to Aliaga, Turkey, in October 1991 and dismantled. GINA had been a Great Lakes trader as a) MARCOSSA-I in 1972

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


Saltie being held in Duluth for investigation of possible environmental violations

11/19 - Duluth, Minn. – The oceangoing freighter Cornelia that has been anchored offshore from Duluth for nearly two weeks is the subject of an investigation for "alleged violations of U.S. environmental regulations," the U.S. Coast Guard confirmed Tuesday.

"Due to the ongoing investigation, the ... vessel and crew are prohibited from leaving Duluth until cleared by U.S. Customs and Border Protection," the Coast Guard said in a statement issued by its Ninth District External Affairs office in Cleveland. "The vessel and crew do not pose a public safety threat. Speculation that the ship is held in port due to any safety concerns (is) false."

The Coast Guard said it will not release additional information while the investigation is under way.

The News Tribune first reported on Nov. 7 that the ship was being held at anchor as part of a federal probe. At that time the Coast Guard directed questions to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Minnesota, which confirmed the investigation but declined to reveal any details about its nature.

On Tuesday the U.S. Attorney’s Office referred an inquiry back to the Coast Guard.

The Cornelia took on grain at the CHS Inc. elevator in Superior on Nov. 3 and 4.

Greg Ukkola, grain operations manager for the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture Grain Regulation in Superior, told the News Tribune earlier this month that a stowage exam of the vessel and its holds was done on Nov. 1, while the ship was anchored in Duluth harbor.

"We did an initial stowage examination on the ship to see that it was fit to load grain into, and we examined the grain as it was being loaded," Ukkola said. Everything about the exams was routine, he said.

After being loaded, the Cornelia never got underway. The saltie, built in 2001 and about 575 feet in length, has been stopped at anchor since Nov. 5.

The Cornelia is managed by the German company MST, which operates dry-bulk carriers on the Atlantic Ocean; the ship is registered in Liberia.

In a statement to the News Tribune earlier this month, MST managing director Matthias Ruttmann said the Cornelia is owned by a German bank.

“We are fully cooperating with the USCG to shine some light on this,” Ruttmann told the News Tribune. He said MST was conducting its own internal investigation to find out what was happening onboard the Cornelia, and that the company did not want to speculate on the situation pending completion of that investigation.

The captain of the vessel refused to comment when reached by the News Tribune earlier this month.

Duluth News Tribune


Fednav's new Federal Bristol due in Montreal

11/19 - The Federal Bristol built in 2015 at the Oshima Shipbuilding in Oshima, Japan, and one of six newly-built bulk carriers for the Fednav fleet is expected to arrive in Montreal on Nov. 28. Federal Bristol is arriving from Mexico and will eventually be heading to Hamilton, Ont., on its first trip into the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway system.

The Federal Bristol joins four other fleetmates –Federal Baltic, Federal Barents, Federal Beaufort and Federal Bering – all of which have made inland voyages thus far in 2015.

The new ships from Oshima for Fednav are all 199.98 meters in length and have a beam of 23.76 meters. One noticeable difference is these new ships have four deck cranes, whereas the predecessors have three deck cranes. Another similar feature is the new ships seem to have a name related to a bay or a sea. One other vessel in the same class, Federal Biscay, also a sistership to the Federal Bristol and others, has yet to make an inland voyage.

Denny Dushane


On a stormy night 30 years ago, a big ship washed up on Duluth shores

11/19 - Duluth, Minn. – It was a quintessential only-in-Duluth accident that became among the city's most iconic events. Thirty years ago Wednesday night, on a stormy Lake Superior pushed by gale-force winds, the 585-foot Liberian-flagged freighter Socrates blew off its anchor position and onto the beach of Park Point.

And there it sat, stuck in the sand, for six days, just 100 feet or so from shore.

Winds on land were clocked at more than 40 mph, and one ship on the lake that night recorded gusts to 69 mph. As the grounded ship jostled in 10-foot waves, some of the Greek crew of 24 was evacuated to shore, although it eventually was determined that neither the ship nor the crew were in any real peril. No one was hurt.

It turns out that if your ship is going to go aground, the soft sand off the Park Point beach is about as good a place as any.

News crews, Park Point residents and other gawkers came to see the ship even as the storm raged that first night. As the rain and wind waned in coming days, tourists started to flood onto Park Point to get a better look.

"We didn't have any trees in the yard back then and my wife was looking out at the lake and said, 'There's a ship that's moving toward the beach and I think it's going to go aground,' " recalled Jack Soetebier, who lives on Park Point near where the Socrates hit shore. "I told her she was nuts. ... But when I looked out I said, 'You're right, that thing is going in.' You could see the lights moving in. And it did."

Thirty years later, Soetebier says that trees have grown up to block his view of where the ship landed. But the image still is vivid in his memory.

"I don't remember the storm being all that bad, but we'll never forget that ship. It was practically up on the beach," he said. "I think they should have been out farther (from shore, in deeper water) when they put their anchor down. That probably would have prevented it."

Folks who saw the hapless vessel often commented on how big the ship seemed, and how out of place, so close to shore.

Ultimately, thousands of people are said to have come to see the spectacle in person -- so many so that Duluth police blocked access to the point to anyone who wasn't a resident. Gawkers had to ride a Duluth Transit Authority shuttle bus to get close to the ship. Duluthians at the time described a festival or carnival atmosphere to the whole scene, with bonfires on the beach and rampant trespassing through residents' yards -- not unlike a smelt run in November instead of May.

Several efforts to free the freighter failed. It took backhoes on barges shoveling away sand from the hull together with the power of eight tugboats working simultaneously -- two pushing and six pulling -- to finally free the ship on Nov. 24, 1985.

The Socrates eventually left the Twin Ports on Dec. 6 with a load of wheat bound for Italy.

"Part of me wishes it was still out there. People would still be coming to look," said Dan Russell, now executive director of the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center, who in 1985 was director of the Duluth Visitor and Convention Bureau.

"I lived on Park Point at the time, and we were down there to watch within minutes of it going aground," Russell recalled.

The weather turned calm and nice in following days, perfect to watch and photograph a beached ship. Russell noted that there are photographs of the grounded Socrates hanging in many Duluth offices to this day.

"I got the DTA to start the 'Socrates shuttle' because the police were blocking off Park Point. ... There was just too much traffic. People started coming from all over," he noted. "We made copies of News Tribune articles to pass out and put tour guides on the buses. People got off the bus at the S-curve to take their photos. ... It was as good a tourism event as you could have in Duluth in November."

Great Lakes historian and writer Pat Lapinski dubbed the Socrates "the most photographed ship in the history of the harbor."

The Socrates underwent repairs for some holes in a forward ballast tank but otherwise was relatively unscathed. Estimates at the time were that it cost the ship's owner about $500,000 (about $1 million in today's dollars) in lost time and to pay for tugboats and barges to help free the saltie from its sandy bonds.

The ship apparently never came back to the Twin Ports as the Socrates but did later return under two other names, as the Union and later the Ypermachos. It also was known as the Mecta Sea, the Zuni Princess and most recently the Anoushka. Online reports indicate that the Anoushka was sold and scrapped last year in India.

Days after the ship was freed in Duluth, the Socrates' captain, Ioannis Kukunaris, was finishing up paperwork and getting his ship ready to sail again when he was reached by ship-to-shore radio.

"The high winds and waves pushed us ashore," Kukunaris said in the interview 30 years ago, struggling to describe the grounding in English. "I saw the worst of the lakes," he added.

Kukunaris, a seaman for 23 years at the time, said little about the incident. But Jack Frost, a representative of the ship's owners, Heliotrope Shipping Corp. of Liberia, said the Socrates and its crew were overwhelmed by wind and waves that forced the ship to drag its anchors and drift into shallow water.

"They saw it was dragging," Frost said. "The engines were ready. The crew did everything possible and couldn't stop it."

The Coast Guard was more blunt about the circumstances.

"He (Kukunaris) had shown concern about the weather and about the wind, but he took no positive action to meet his concerns," Cmdr. Stanley Spurgeon, head of the Coast Guard's Marine Safety Office in Duluth, said the week of the grounding. "It wasn't a major foul-up, but it had major consequences."

Pioneer Press /


Port Reports -  November 19

Port Inland, Mich. – Denny Dushane
Manitowoc arrived at Port Inland to load on Tuesday during the early afternoon. Expected to arrive on Wednesday was the Kaye E. Barker during the late evening. Two vessels are due to arrive on Thursday to load, with the Manitowoc returning in the early morning followed by their fleetmate Calumet, also on Thursday in the morning.

Cedarville, Mich. – Denny Dushane
Wilfred Sykes arrived at Cedarville on Tuesday in the early morning to load. There are presently no vessels scheduled until November 24, when the barge Pathfinder and tug Dorothy Ann are due at noon.

Calcite, Mich. – Denny Dushane
Great Republic loaded at Calcite on a mild but windy, dreary Wednesday. They are expected to arrive back at Calcite again to load Friday in the late evening for the North Dock.

Stoneport, Mich. – Denny Dushane
First in will be the Algoma Navigator in the early morning Thursday, followed by the barge Pathfinder and tug Dorothy Ann also due in during the early morning. The barge Lewis J. Kuber along with the tug Olive L. Moore also arrives a bit later in the morning. For Friday, another three vessels are expected to arrive and load, with the Herbert C. Jackson due in the early morning, the barge Lakes Contender and tug Ken Boothe Sr. due in the early evening followed by the Joseph H. Thompson. Due on Saturday in the morning is the Lewis J. Kuber.

Toledo, Ohio – Denny Dushane
Algorail is due at the CSX Coal Dock to load in a rare appearance on Friday in the early morning. Also due at CSX to load will be the James L. Kuber on Sunday in the early morning. Algosoo is also due at CSX on Sunday in the early afternoon and the Algowood is due at CSX in the early evening. Due at the Midwest Terminal Stone Dock is the Robert S. Pierson on Friday in the early morning, where it will unload limestone. Due at the Torco Iron Ore Dock will be the James L. Kuber on Saturday in the late afternoon. Due on Sunday at the Torco Dock is the Rt. Hon. Paul J. Martin in the late afternoon and due at Torco on November 24 is the Lee A. Tregurtha in the late afternoon and the Hon. James L. Oberstar November 25 in the early morning. Algosea remains at the Ironhead Shipyard Drydock. Vessels in lay-up include the St. Clair at CSX #2 Dock and the barge Sarah Spencer and the tug Jane Ann IV along with the American Valor at the Frog Pond near the Lakefront Docks. In port was the tug Paul L. Luedtke along with the tug Mississippi. Mississagi was unloading grain from Thunder Bay along the Maumee riverfront.

Oswego, N.Y. – Ned Goebricher
Tug Salvor and barge Lambert Spirit unloaded aluminum bars.


Lookback #732 – Danila hit west pier at Port Weller inbound in fog on Nov. 19, 1979

The Liberian freighter Danila hit the west pier of the entry to the Welland Canal on Nov. 19, 1979. The vessel was attempting to enter the channel in dense fog and wandered off course. The bow struck the concrete pier and received minor damage before the vessel retreated back to Lake Ontario to await better conditions.

The ship was not a stranger to the Seaway system coming inland for the first time as a) Maersk Captain in 1976. The 591 foot, 6 inch long bulk carrier had been built at Tonsberg, Norway, and launched for The Maersk Company Ltd. on Sept. 7, 1972. It began service exactly three months later.

The solidly built motor vessel was strengthened to transport heavy cargoes and also for navigation in ice. The British flag carrier served in the Maersk fleet until sold and registered in Liberia as b) Danila in 1979.

Another sale in 1981 brought the name c) Jay Gouri and the ship was now registered in India. The flag remained the same after becoming d) Jay Bhavani in 1983. The latter was sold for scrap and arrived at Alang, India, on Nov. 21, 1991. There, beginning almost immediately, it was broken up by Mustan Taherbhai.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  November 19

Saltie Gallery updated with pictures of the Askholmen, BBC Mont Blanc, Erria Swan, Federal Baltic, Federal Bering, Federal Bristol, Swan Baltic, Timber Navigator and Trudy.


Today in Great Lakes History -  November 19

On this day in 1939, in a 24-hour-period, there were 132 transits of the Soo Locks. There were 71 upbound passages and 61 downbound passages.

On this day in 1952, Mrs. Ernest T. Weir smashed a bottle of champagne against the hull of the largest freighter built on the Great Lakes and the 690-foot ERNEST T. WEIR slid down the ways at the Lorain yard of American Ship Building Company. The new vessel had a crew of 38 under the command of Captain W. Ross Maitland and Chief Engineer C. F. Hoffman.

On 19 November 1897, NAHANT (wooden propeller freighter, 213 foot, 1,204 gross tons, built in 1873, at Detroit, Michigan) caught fire while docked near Escanaba, Michigan. Firefighters were hampered by sub-zero temperatures, and she burned to a total loss. The fire jumped to the dock and did $300,000 worth of damage. Two of the crew were burned to death. The wreckage of the vessel was still visible from the Escanaba lighthouse 100 years later.

American Steamship's SAM LAUD (Hull#712) was launched on this date in 1974 at Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin.

The keel for JOHN T. HUTCHINSON (Hull#1010) was laid November 19, 1942, at Cleveland, Ohio for the U.S. Maritime Commission.

The Kinsman Transit Co.'s steamer MERLE M. McCURDY was laid up for the last time at Buffalo, New York, on November 19, 1985. She was scrapped at Port Colborne, Ontario, in 1988.

On 19 November 1842, the wooden schooner BRANDYWINE was carrying flour in a storm on Lake Erie when she capsized and then drifted to the beach near Barcelona, New York. One passenger's body was found in the cabin, but the entire crew of 6 was lost.

More incidents from the terrible storm swept the Lakes in mid-November 1886. On 18-19 November of that year, The Port Huron Times listed the vessels that were known to have foundered in that storm. Here is the list of vessels that foundered as it appeared on 19 November 1886. "The barge EMERALD near Kewaunee, 5 lost. The barge F M DICKINSON near Kewaunee, 3 lost. Two unknown schooners (one supposed to be the HELEN) near Port Sherman. One unknown schooner near Hog Island Reef. The barge NORTH STAR near East Tawas, the fate of the crew is unknown." The list then continues with vessels ashore. "The barge WALLACE and consort on Choclay Beach, east of Marquette. The schooner SOUTH HAVEN near Pt. Sherman. The schooner MARY near Blenheim, Ontario. The schooner PATHFINDER near Two Rivers, the cargo and vessel are a total loss. The schooner CUYAHOGA and two scows in North Bay. The schooner P S MARSH and an unknown schooner at St. Ignace. The schooner HARVEY BISSELL near Alpena. The propeller CITY OF NEW YORK near Cheboygan. The schooner KOLFAGE near Goderich, Ontario has broken up. The propeller NASHUA on Grass Island, Green Bay. The barge BISSELL near Kewaunee. The schooner GOLDEN below China Beach. The propeller BELLE CROSS and barges across from China Beach. The schooner FLORIDA on Marquette Beach is a total loss. And the barges BUCKOUT, MC DOUGALL, BAKER, GOLDEN HARVEST near East Tawas.

The schooner HATTIE JOHNSTON sailed from Milwaukee loaded with 26,000 bushels of wheat on the night of 19 November 1879, and then a severe gale swept Lake Michigan. After two weeks, she was presumed lost with all hands. Aboard were Capt. D. D. Prouty, his wife and 8 crewmen.

On 19 Nov 1886, the steamer MANISTIQUE was towing the schooner-barges MARINETTE and MENEKAUNEE, all loaded with lumber, in a NW gale on Lake Michigan. The gale lasted three days. The barges broke loose after a long fight against the elements and both were wrecked near Frankfort, Michigan. Six of the seven aboard the MARINETTE were lost including the woman cook and her 13-year old daughter. MENEKAUNEE broke up before the Lifesaving Service could get to her and all seven aboard died. When the Lifesaving Service arrived on the beach, they found a jumbled mass of lumber and gear and the ship's dog keeping watch over the dead bodies. The dog also died soon after the Lifesaving crew arrived.

EMPIRE MALDON (steel tanker, 343 foot, 3,734 gross tons) was launched on 19 November 1945, by Sir James Laing & Sons, Ltd., at Sunderland, United Kingdom for the British Ministry of War Transport She was sold to Imperial Oil Co. of Canada in 1946, and renamed IMPERIAL HALIFAX and served on the Maritime Provinces-East Coast trade. In 1969, she was purchased by Johnstone Shipping, Ltd., of Toronto and served on the Great Lakes. She lasted until 1977, when she was scrapped by United Metals, Ltd. in Hamilton, Ontario.

On Friday morning, 19 Nov 1999, shortly after leaving the ADM dock in Windsor, the salty AVDEEVKA lost power in the Fighting Island Channel of the Detroit River. The main engine on the vessel quit while she was abreast of Grassy Island and she began drifting downstream. The stern anchor was dropped and then the port side bow anchor. She began swinging towards the middle of the channel with her stern outside the channel when the main engine was restarted and she headed back upstream for the Belle Isle anchorage. Once in the anchorage a team from the U.S. Coast Guard boarded the vessel to investigate. She was released the next day. It is reported that the vessel lost power due to main fuel valve being left closed after routine maintenance during her stay at the ADM dock.

1904: PHILIP MINCH caught fire 8 miles off Marblehead, Ohio, and sank in the navigation channel. All on board got off safely and rowed to Sandusky in the lifeboat. The remains were dynamited in 1906.

1914: C.F. CURTIS foundered in Lake Superior, 7 miles east of Grand Marais, with the loss of 14 lives. The towing barges ANNIE PETERSON and SHELDON E. MARVIN also went down after the trio ran into high winds and snow.

1956: The year old West German freighter WOLFGANG RUSS was beached in the St. Lawrence near Ile d'Orleans after a collision with the Cunard Line vessel ASIA. The former was inbound for Sorel and had to lightered and taken to Lauzon for repairs to the large hole in the side of the hull. The vessel began Great Lakes visits with the opening of the Seaway in 1959 and made 28 inland trips to the end of 1967. It arrived off Gadani Beach, Pakistan, for scrapping as b) KOTRONAS BEACH on Feb. 4, 1980.

1977: The Canada Steamship Lines self-unloader FRONTENAC grounded off Grassy Island in the St. Lawrence and about 5,000 tons of ore had to be lightered to the SAGUENAY to float free.

1979: The Liberian freighter DANILA was damaged when it struck the west pier while inbound at Port Weller in fog. The vessel first visited the Seaway as a) MAERSK CAPTAIN in 1976 and was back as b) DANILA in 1979. The ship was scrapped at Alang, India, as d) JAY BHAVANI in 1991-1992.

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


Army Corps gets $1.35M to study upgrade for Soo Locks

11/18 - Washington, D.C. – The Obama administration has approved $1.35 million in funding that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers requested for a cost-benefit study of an additional shipping lock on the river that connects Lakes Huron and Superior.

Only one of the four aging locks Sault Ste. Marie is large enough to handle ships that carry 70 percent of the cargo, and members of Michigan’s congressional delegation have pushed to replace two outdated locks with a new one capable of handling the largest freighters.

Democratic U.S. Sens. Debbie Stabenow, of Lansing, and Gary Peters, of Bloomfield Township, said Monday the administration has committed $1.35 million to review upgrades to replace the Davis and Sabin Locks, which are nearly 100 years old and no longer in use. The Soo Locks transport roughly 80 million tons of raw goods and materials a year.

The approved study follows mechanical problems in August that shut one of the two main locks at Sault Ste. Marie capable of handling commercial ships on the Great Lakes. It was closed for two-and-a-half weeks during the important shipping season.

The problem involved a set of gates that would not close properly. Repair work required the lock to be emptied of water.

In June, the senators wrote to the Office of Management and Budget Director urging approval for the Army Corps’ funding request for the locks project.

“This support will allow the Army Corps to start the process of making upgrades and building a replacement lock,” Stabenow said in a statement. “A failure of the aging locks causing even a temporary outage could cost our economy millions of dollars — a cost we cannot afford.”

Having another 1,200-foot-long lock — which would be built on the site of the existing Davis and Sabin locks — would allow for better maintenance of both locks and keep shipping traffic moving if the 1,200-foot-long Poe lock needs repairs.

Peters noted that the Soo Locks are the busiest in the United States, transporting nearly 80 million tons of goods and raw materials a year. “I’m proud to work with Sen. Stabenow and the administration to ensure the Soo Locks stay open and continue to drive commerce in our state and our region,” he said.

The Detroit News


Cliffs to idle Northshore Mining as taconite woes worsen

11/18 - Duluth, Minn. – Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. announced this morning that it will close its Northshore Mining operations in Silver Bay and Babbitt due to the continuing oversupply of iron ore in the U.S. and global markets.

The move will put most of Northshore’s 540 workers out of a job by Dec. 1 through at least the first quarter of 2016, although no firm date is set for re-opening.

The price of iron ore continues to plummet globally and in the U.S. thanks to a vast oversupply. That reduced the price of steel, especially foreign steel, which is being imported, often below cost, into the U.S. at a record clip.

All that imported steel has reduced the demand for U.S. made steel and thus the demand for its primary ingredient — taconite iron ore from Minnesota and Michigan.

"The historic high tonnage of foreign steel dumped into the U.S. continues to negatively impact the steel production levels of our domestic customers,’’ said Lourenco Goncalves, Cleveland-based Cliffs' president and CEO.

The move will help cash-strapped Cliffs continue to operate for the short term.

Goncalves said Cliffs has never had this many unneeded taconite pellets on hand this late in the season, with Great Lakes shipping set to close in January.

Northshore joins Cliffs’ United Taconite operations in Eveleth and Forbes as shut down, and now puts more than half, 6 of 11, of the Iron Range’s major mining operations into mothballs.

In addition to Northshore and United Taconite, U.S. Steel’s Keetac plant remains idled, as do two of Grand Rapids-based Magnetation ore recovery plants and the Mesabi Nugget iron nugget plant near Hoyt Lakes.

Cliffs also noted Tuesday that United is now unlikely to reopen until April at the earliest.

Goncalves said Cliffs’ operations will reopen only if and when his customers, U.S. steelmakers, begin to order more pellets. He said so far that hasn’t happened, but he continues to be bullish that U.S. steel production and taconite demand will increase in 2016.

During that time frame, Cliffs will continue to operate Hibbing Taconite in Minnesota, as well as the Tilden and Empire mines in Michigan, at normal rates.

Cliffs will maintain minimal staffing at Northshore “during the temporary idle for basic maintenance duties and for on-going work to support the DR-grade pellet trials.” The company hopes to eventually make pellets at the plant that can be used in electric arc furnaces instead of only blast furnaces.

Duluth News Tribune


Port Reports -  November 18

Buffalo, N.Y. – Brian W.
Petite Forte - St. Marys Cement departed Lackawanna at 8:21 a.m. on Monday. Sunday Defiance - Ashtabula arrived with sand for the City Ship Canal at 10 p.m. They backed out and departed at 8 a.m. on Monday.


SS City of Milwaukee/USCGC Acacia raffle winners announced

11/18 - The draw for the raffle was last Sunday. The winners were:
• 5 day trip for two on a Lower Lakes vessel: James Bankson (ticket bought through Boatnerd)
• 2nd prize: Round trip for 2 with a car on the SS Badger: Dave Nobbe
• 3rd Prize: Round trip for 2 on the Beaver Island Ferry: Terry Sechen
• 4th Prize: Round trip for 2 on a StarLine ferry to Mackinac Island: D. Corbin
• 5th Prize: night stay for 2 on the SS City of Milwaukee: Kevin Majewski
• 6th Prize: Framed Russ Porter print of the SS Christopher Columbus: James Meyer

SS City of Milwaukee, Robert Strauss


Lookback #731 – Passenger ship Montreal caught fire in St. Lawrence on Nov. 18, 1926

Other than being built at Toronto by the Bartram Iron Works, the Canada Steamship Lines passenger ship Montreal had no connection to the Great Lakes. The 340 foot long vessel was launched on Feb. 4, 1902, and left the lakes, under tow, in May.

Too large for the existing locks, Montreal was brought down the rapids and arrived at Montreal on May 31. There, on March 8, 1903, fire gutted the almost completed vessel and it was declared at total loss.

The hull was taken to Sorel and rebuilt prior to entering service for the Richelieu and Ontario Navigation Co. in 1904. It was used in a passenger and freight service that linked Montreal, Sorel, Trois Rivieres and Batiscan.

Montreal had 226 staterooms and could seat 150 in the dining room. It also had running water. The fare for the ride from Montreal to Quebec City was $4.25 in 1909 but was up to $5.65 in 1918.

The ship was part of the formation of Canada Steamship Lines in 1913 and continued St. Lawrence service. It was engaged in end of season freight service when a fire broke out in the St. Lawrence about three miles from Sorel, on Nov. 18, 1926.

The blaze erupted in the forward hold, where animals were being transported, and spread quickly through out the ship. The superstructure was completely destroyed and five deckhands perished. The hull later sank while under tow for scrapping at Levis, Quebec.

Skip Gillham


Today in Great Lakes History -  November 18

On 18 November 1869, EQUATOR (wooden propeller package freighter, 184 foot, 621 tons, built in 1857, at Buffalo, New York) was trying to pull the schooner SOUTHWEST off a reef near North Manitou Island on Lake Michigan. A storm swept in and EQUATOR foundered in the relatively shallow water. She was thought to be unsalvageable but was re-floated in 1870. Her hull was extensively rebuilt and became the barge ELDORADO in 1871, while her engine was used in the tug BISMARCK.

The CARL D. BRADLEY was lost in a violent storm on Lake Michigan on November 18, 1958.

The CANADIAN OLYMPIC's sea trials were conducted on 18 November 1976. Her maiden voyage was on 28 November 1976, to load coal at Conneaut, Ohio for Nanticoke, Ontario. Her name honors the Olympic Games that were held at Montreal that year.

The bow and stern sections of the vessel that was to become the STEWART J. CORT were built by Ingalls Shipbuilding Division, Litton Systems, Inc., Pascagoula, MS, as hull 1173. That 182 foot vessel, known as "STUBBY" was launched on 18 Nov 1969. "STUBBY" sailed under its own power from the Gulf of Mexico through the St. Lawrence Seaway and Welland Canal to Erie, Pennsylvania where the sections were cut apart by Erie Marine, Inc. and the 818 foot mid section was added -- making the Lakes first thousand footer.

The ASHCROFT was launched November 18, 1924, as a) GLENIFFER.

On 18 November 1873, the tug CRUSADER was launched at 1:20 p.m. at the Leighton & Dunford yard in Port Huron, Michigan. Her dimensions were 138 foot overall, 125 foot keel, 23 foot beam, and 12 foot depth. She was built for Mr. G. E. Brockway of Port Huron.

On 18 November 1842, CHICAGO (wooden passenger & package freight sidewheeler, 105 foot, 166 tons, built in 1837, at St. Joseph, Michigan) was struck by a gale between Ashtabula and Conneaut in Lake Erie. She lost both of her stacks and became unmanageable when her fires went out. She was driven ashore about 3 miles east of Silver Creek, New York and was wrecked. About 60 persons were on board and amazingly no lives were lost.

On 18 November 1882, DROMEDARY (wooden propeller, 120 foot, 255 gross tons, built in 1868, at Port Dalhousie, Ontario) burned to a total loss at the dock at Hamilton, Ontario when her banked fires overheated. She was owned by Burroughs & Co. No lives were lost.

A terrible storm swept the Lakes in mid-November 1886. On 18-19 November of that year, The Port Huron Times listed the vessels that were known to have foundered in that storm. Here is the list as it appeared on 18 November 1886. "The barge CHARLES HINCKLEY is ashore near Alpena. The schooner P S MARCH is ashore at St. Ignace. She will probably go to pieces. The schooner THOMAS P. SHELDON is ashore about 10 miles north of Alpena. The crew was rescued by the tug HAND. The schooner NELLIE REDINGTON is reported going to pieces at Two Rivers. Three of her crew reached harbor all right, but the other 7 men on board are in danger of their lives. The coal barges F. M. DICKINSON and EMERALD were driven ashore at Kewaunee, Wisconsin Wednesday morning [17 Nov]. Three of the DICKINSON's crew were drowned, the other four floated ashore on a plank. The EMERALD's crew started ashore in the yawl, but 5 were drowned.

On 18 November 1881, the schooner JAMES PLATT left Bay City with a cargo of lumber for Chicago. However, she was wrecked on Lake Michigan during a terrible snowstorm during the first week of December and never made it to Chicago. The storm lasted two full days and six of the crew survived but the rest were lost.

The ANN ARBOR NO 4 ran aground on Green Isle, the island in Green Bay to the north of her course between Sturgeon Bay and Menominee on 18 Nov 1913. ANN ARBOR NO 3 pulled her off undamaged after about 2 hours work.

1911: TURRET CAPE stranded near Cove Island, Lake Huron and was not released until 1912. It last sailed as c) WALTER INKSTER and was scrapped at Port Dalhousie in 1959.

1926: The passenger and freight carrier MONTREAL was built at Toronto in 1902. It caught fire and burned near St. Joseph de Sorel in the St. Lawrence River while operating late season in a freight only capacity. The superstructure was destroyed and the vessel was beached. Five deckhands, believed trapped in the bow area, died.

1958: CARL D. BRADLEY sank in Lake Michigan with the loss of 33 lives.

1970: SILLERY, a Canadian freighter that operated on the St. Lawrence, was heavily damaged aft due to an engineroom fire while enroute from Sept-Iles to Montreal. The ship was a total loss. The bow was later removed and transplanted to sistership CACOUNA which received collision damage on July 6, 1971. The latter was later lost on Lake Michigan as c) JENNIFER on December 1, 1974.

2006: JOHN G. MUNSON hit the Shell Fuel Dock at Corunna and knocked about 200 feet of the structure into the St. Clair River.

Data from: Skip Gilham, Joe Barr, Dave Swayze, Father Dowling Collection, Historical Collections of the Great Lakes, Max Hanley, Steve Haverty and Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series.


Ex-Desgagnes tanker renamed again

11/17 - The former Canadian tanker Vega Desgagnes ended its sailing days in the Desgagnes fleet when it tied up at Montreal on Dec. 29, 2014. The ship had served the company since 2001 and, earlier in 2015, it was sold and departed on Aug. 14 as e) Fort Abel. A recent report shows the ship having been sold again and it is now registered in Panama as f) Miss Angela. As of Sunday, the vessel was at Ciudad del Carman, on the Laguna des Terminos, Mexico, and was likely loading petroleum.

Skip Gillham


Port Reports -  November 17

Kewaunee, Wis. – Mark Dillenburg
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers tugs Kenosha and Racine, with crane and work barges, returned to base in Kewaunee about noon Sunday after having been gone since spring.


Seaway issues winter closing notice

11/17 - Seaway Notice # 12, regarding closing of the navigation season, has been issued. Read it here:


Hornblower, Maid of the Mist set passenger records

11/17 - Niagara Falls, Ont. – There’s enough business on the Niagara River for two giant tour-boat companies. Both Hornblower Niagara Cruises, which operates on the Canadian side, and Maid of the Mist Corp., which operates on the American side, have set attendance records this year.

Mory DiMaurizio, general manager of Hornblower, estimates their boats will carry 1.85-million passengers this season, an increase of 200,000 from last year, which was the company’s first on the Canadian side of the river.

Hornblower boats began operating this season on April 30 and will continue until Nov. 29. Last year, due to the “brutal winter,” DiMaurizio said boats began operating later, on May 15 until Nov. 30.

He said this year’s figures, which “far surpassed targets,” can be attributed to a favorable exchange rate for American visitors to Canada, low travel costs and “aggressive” marketing.

Meanwhile on the American side of the river, Maid of the Mist said they ferried more than 1.4-million passengers this season, breaking last year's record. The Maid began operating only on the American side last year.

It’s part of an “upward trajectory” of increased ridership the 130-year-old company has seen during the past decade.

“We have a strong marketing campaign — online and print and billboards,” said Keenan, adding the Maid has seen an increase in the number of visitors from China and India.

“People seek out the Maid of the Mist and understand that it’s an iconic attraction. They gravitate towards the brand and understand if they want the Maid of the Mist, they have to come to the U.S,” he added.

The Maid lost the right to operate rides below the Falls from the Canadian side to Hornblower.

Keenan said the Maid’s growing success is indicative of the upswing in the economy in Western New York, as well as recent improvements to New York State Park. “It’s a rising tide lifts all boats,” he said.


New saltwater vessel transits stand at 56

11/17 - As of Nov. 16, 56 new saltwater vessels transited the Eisenhower Lock in Massena, N.Y., for the first time in their history. The list of the newcomers includes: Amurborg, Andesborg, Askholmen, Atlantic Patriot, BBC Alabama, BBC Kimberley, BBC Mont Blanc, BBC Ohio, BBC Olympus, BBC Steinwall, BBC Thames, Chemical Aquarius, Clipper Macau, Clipper Makiri, Erria Swan, Eva Schulte, Fagelgracht, Federal Baltic, Federal Barents, Federal Beaufort, Federal Bering, Foresight, Fortune, Gotland, Hanse Gate, HHL Tyne, HHL Volga, Houston, Industrial More, Jasmine C, Johanna C, Lena J, Lisanna, LS Evanne, Marbacan, Marbioko, Med Arctic, Michelle C, Nomadic Hjellestad along with the Nordana Emilie, Nordana Emma, Nordana Sarah, Onego Rotterdam, Pioneer, Princimar Equinox, Rodopi, Spavalda, Sten Baltic, Sunrose E, Swan Baltic, Swan Biscay, Taagborg, Timber Navigator, Trinityborg, Trudy and Umgeni. One of the newcomers, the Spavalda, was reflagged to Canada during the 2015 season. In 2014 there were 54 newcomers to the system and in 2013, 51 newcomers. The 2015 shipping season also marks the second consecutive year that 200 or more saltwater vessels visited the system, with just over 200 in 2015, and in 2014, a total of 222 saltwater vessels made transits into the Great Lakes/Seaway System. In 2013 the total was 197.

Denny Dushane


DOE grant will help develop Lake Erie wind project

11/17 - Washington, D.C. – The U.S. Department of Energy has not given up on Lake Erie-based wind turbines, the first freshwater-based turbines in the nation.

The Lake Erie Energy Development Corp., or LEEDCo, is in line for a $3.7 million research and development grant in March of 2016, U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur said Monday morning.

The DOE granted the company $3 million in 2014 and $4 million in 2012, both for R&D work.

"Lake Erie is the Saudi Arabia of wind," Kaptur said in an interview. "People don't realize the wind resource we have on the lake. And LEEDCo is playing a major resource and development role."

Not only is the company using what Kaptur called "high science" to solve the icing and foundation problems involved in building turbines in fresh water, the company is also in touch with industry here, she said.

"We can innovate and we can manufacture. We can do it, and not just theoretically," she said.

LEEDCo's plan is to build a six-turbine demonstration project about eight to 10 miles northwest of downtown Cleveland. Each turbine would generate about 3 megawatts (3 million watts) of electricity, said David Karpinski, vice president of engineering for LEEDCo.

Though the point of the project is to prove it can be done, and done at a reasonable cost, the small wind farm would be a commercial operation and it would be connected by lake bed cable to Cleveland Public Power's high voltage grid near the East Shoreway. CPP has agreed to buy 25 percent of the output. The rest of the power would be sold into the regional high-voltage grid.

LEEDCo plans to use a new European foundation technology that can be installed without digging up the lake bottom or driving piles into the shale rock beneath the lake.

Called a "mono bucket," the foundation was developed during the past decade by Universal Foundation, a Danish company, said Karpinski.


Lookback #730 – Theano lost in Lake Superior on Nov. 17, 1906

Editor’s Note: This starts year #3 for the Lookback series.

Theano was an early member of the Algoma fleet. The ship had been built at Rotterdam, Holland, in 1888 and served for 12 years on saltwater routes under the Dutch flag. The 250 foot long, 1,646 gross ton freighter was sold to the Algoma Central Railway in 1900 and, while still registered in Newcastle, England, came to the Great Lakes for Canadian service.

Theano was used to carry steel rails from Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., much of the time but it also made news of another kind that first year becoming the first Canadian ship to carry iron ore between two Canadian ports. It loaded at Michipicoten for delivery to the Canadian Furnace Co. plant in Midland.

Theano was towing the barge H.A. Barr when the latter got into trouble in Lake Erie on Sept. 22, 1902. The powered steamer was able to rescue the crew of the barge just before the latter foundered.

The last trip of Theano encountered the miserable mix of snow and 50 m.p.h. winds on Lake Superior when it struck Trowbridge Island, SSW of Thunder Cape, on Nov. 17, 1906. The crew of 20 took to the lifeboats and all survived. One lifeboat was located and picked up by the Iroquois while the second reached Port Arthur on its own after a harrowing ride.

The boilers blew up when the cold water hit them and the Theano slid back into deep water. The hull was located in Sept. 2005 and rests on the bottom in 200 feet of water.

Skip Gillham


Today in Great Lakes History -  November 17

On 17 November 1884, PHOENIX (wooden propeller wrecking tug, 173 gross tons, built in 1862, at Cleveland, Ohio) caught fire in one of her coal bunkers at 7 a.m. while she was tied up to the C. S. R. Railroad slip at Amherstburg, Ontario. Several vessels, including the Dunbar tug SHAUGHRAUN and the steam barge MARSH, tried to save her. The SHAUGHRAUN finally got a line on her and pulled her away from the dock and towed her near Norwell’s wharf where she burned and sank.

On 17 Nov 1969, the RIDGETOWN (steel propeller bulk freighter, 557 foot, 7,637 gross tons, built in 1905, at Chicago, Illinois as WILLIAM E. COREY) was laid up at Toronto for the last time with a load of grain. In the spring of 1970, Upper Lakes Shipping, Ltd. sold her to Canadian Dredge & Dock Co., Ltd. of Toronto. She was sunk at Nanticoke, Ontario, for use as a temporary breakwater during the construction of harbor facilities in the summer of 1970. Still later, she was raised and sunk again in the summer of 1974, as a breakwater to protect marina facilities at Port Credit, Ontario.

On November 17, 1984, the EUGENE P. THOMAS was towed by the TUG MALCOLM to Thunder Bay, Ontario, for scrapping by Shearmet.

In the morning of 17 November 1926, the PETER A.B. WIDENER (steel straight-deck bulk freighter, 580 foot, 7,053 gross tons, built in 1906, at Chicago, Illinois) was running up bound on Lake Superior in ballast when it encountered strong Northeasterly winds. About six miles Southwest of the Rock of Ages Light on Isle Royale, the captain gave orders to change course for Duluth, Minnesota. There was no response because the wheel chains had parted from the drum, thus disabling the rudder. Repairs cost $4,000.

On 15 Nov 1972, the MICHIPICOTEN (steel straight-deck bulk freighter, 549 foot, 6,490 gross tons, built in 1905, at W. Bay City, Michigan, as HENRY C. FRICK) departed Quebec in tow of Polish tug KORAL for scrapping in Spain. The tow encountered bad weather and the MICHIPICOTEN broke in two during a major fall storm on the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Her forward section sank on 17 November off Anticosti Island, and the after section sank the next day.

The propeller JOHN STUART burned about two miles from Sebawaing, Michigan, at 9:00 p.m., 17 November 1872. She had been aground there for some time.

On 17 November 1887, ARIZONA (wooden propeller package freighter, 189 foot, 962 gross tons, built in 1868, at Cleveland, Ohio) was carrying oils and acid used in mining operations when her dangerous cargo caught fire as she approached the harbor at Marquette, Michigan, in heavy seas. Poisonous fumes drove all of the crew topside, leaving the vessel unmanageable. She ran against the breakwater and the crew jumped off. The burning steamer "chased" the crew down the breakwater toward town with the poisonous fumes blowing ashore. She finally beached herself and burned herself out. She was later recovered and rebuilt.

On 17 November 1873, the wooden 2-mast schooner E.M. CARRINGTON sank in nine feet of water at Au Sable, Michigan. She had a load of 500 barrels of flour and 7,000 bushels of grain. She was recovered and lasted another seven years.

On 17 November 1880, GARIBALDI (2-mast wooden schooner, 124 foot, 209 tons, built in 1863, at Port Rowan, Ontario) was carrying coal in a storm on Lake Ontario. She anchored to ride out the storm, but after riding out the gale for 15 hours, her anchor cable parted and her crew was forced to try to bring her into Weller's Bay. She stranded on the bar. One of the crew froze solid in a standing position and his ghost is supposed to still haunt that area. The vessel was recovered and rebuilt. She lasted until at least 1898.

1902: The wooden steamer ROBERT WALLACE sank 13 miles out of Two Harbors while towing the barge ASHLAND.

1922: CITY OF DRESDEN was anchored off Long Point due to high winds and some of the cargo was thrown overboard. The ship beached on the west side of Long Point and broke up as a total loss. One sailor perished.

1922: MALTON went aground on Main Duck Island in Lake Ontario and was stuck until November 30.

1936: The steering cable of the SIDNEY E. SMITH gave way entering the harbor at Fairport, Ohio, and the ship stranded on the break wall. While released on November 22, the heavily damaged vessel was broken up for scrap the following year.

1939: VARDEFJELL, which inaugurated regular Great Lakes service for the Fjell Line in 1932, was torpedoed and sunk as b) KAUNAS 6.5 miles WNW of Noord Harbor, N. Hinder Light, River Schelde.

1996: SEADANIEL went aground at Duluth due to high winds after the anchors dragged. The ship was released, undamaged, by tugs. It last visited the Great Lakes in November 1998 and arrived at Alang, India, for scrapping on May 5, 1999.

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


Operations continue for sunken Lake Erie barge Argo

11/16 - Cleveland, Ohio – Salvage operations for the sunken tanker barge Argo in Lake Erie continue as the Unified Command proceeds with plans for product recovery.

Crews will start prepping the first tank this week for “hot tapping” operations. Actual lightering operations will not occur until later in the week at the earliest, as the response operators are still waiting for the proper tank to offload the material into and weather continues to impede operations.

The results from the sample from this first tank, sampled on November 9, were found to be primarily Benzene, with some Toluene, Xylene and trace elements of petroleum.

Because these materials are not typically shipped on the Great Lakes, the proper equipment to remove it is not available in this region. Response operators are waiting for receiving tanks, designed for chemicals, to be modified for use on a barge in the Great Lakes marine environment.

In the meantime, the safety zone around the barge remains at a 1 nautical mile radius directly above the barge’s location at the bottom of Lake Erie. No vessel may enter, transit through or anchor within the regulated area without permission from the Coast Guard patrol commander, Station Marblehead, which may be contacted via VHF FM marine radio channel 16.



Lookback #729 – CSL Assiniboine ran aground near Cardinal on Nov. 16, 2009

The Canada Steamship Lines self-unloader CSL Assiniboine was downbound with grain when an engine problem resulted in the ship going aground in the St. Lawrence near Cardinal, Ont., six years ago today. After some of the cargo was lightered, the damaged freighter was released on Nov. 21 and towed to Seaway Industrial & Marine, the former Port Weller Dry Docks in St. Catharines, for repairs. It arrived there Nov. 27 and was placed on the shelf the next day.

This vessel is one of those rebuilt by C.S.L. It was launched at Lauzon, Que., on July 7, 1977, and joined company service before the end of the navigation season as a) Jean Parisien.

The 730 foot long by 75 foot wide self-unloader traded throughout the Great Lakes and Seaway region putting in long seasons. It was the first ship of the year up bound through the Seaway in 1993 and the first down, also in 1993 as well as 2002 and 2003. It closed the year as last of the season at St. Lambert on Dec. 25, 1993.

Jean Parisien arrived at Port Weller Dry Docks on Dec. 13, 2003, and placed on the shelf for reconstruction on Sept. 27, 2004. The original forebody was cut off and floated away on Oct. 29 and a new forebody was built on the existing after end that housed the pilothouse, engineroom and accommodations.

Renamed CSL Assiniboine in a ceremony at the shipyard on June 29, 2005, the vessel departed shortly afterwards to load 30,192 metric tonnes of ore at the Burlington Northern Dock, Superior, Wisconsin.

CSL Assiniboine remains an active member of the Canada Steamship Lines fleet.

Skip Gillham


Today in Great Lakes History -  November 16

On 16 November 1870, BADGER STATE (3-mast wooden bark, 150 foot, 302 tons, built in 1853, at Milwaukee, Wisconsin) stranded and wrecked at Sleeping Bear Dune on Lake Michigan during a storm.

The tug portion of the PRESQUE ISLE (Hull#322) built by Halter Marine Services, New Orleans, Louisiana, was up bound in the Welland Canal on November 16,1973, en route to Erie, Pennsylvania, to join with the barge.

FRED R. WHITE JR (Hull#722) was launched in 1978, at Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin.

On 16 Nov 1909, the JAMES S. DUNHAM (steel propeller bulk freighter, 420 foot, 4,795 gross tons, built in 1906, at W. Bay City, Michigan) encountered heavy seas and began hitting bottom where charts indicated 35 feet of water, even though she was in ballast and only drawing 17 feet of water. Rather than risk tearing the bottom out of her, the captain decided to beach her at Marble Point, just east of the Bad River outlet. After the heavy snow showers cleared, a message in a bottle was floated ashore to an observer.

The steel bulk freighters SIR JAMES DUNN and GEORGIAN BAY in tow of the Panamanian tug MC THUNDER arrived at Aliaga, Turkey for scrapping on 16 Nov 1989, 129 days after departing Thunder Bay.

On 16 November 1887, PACIFIC (wooden propeller freighter, 187 foot, 766 gross tons, built in 1864, at Cleveland, Ohio) was loaded with lumber bound from Deer Park, Michigan, for Michigan City, Indiana. After leaving the dock, she grounded on a shoal due to low water levels. The nearby Lifesaving Service took her crew off and then returned for the captain's dog. She was broken up by a gale on 19 November.

In 1892, the ANN ARBOR NO 1 arrived at Frankfort, Michigan on her maiden trip.

November 16, 1990 - MWT ceased operations, ending more than a century of carferry service. The last run was made by the BADGER, with Capt. Bruce Masse in command.

In 1981, Interlake's JOHN SHERWIN entered lay-up in Superior, Wisconsin and has not seen service since.

On 16 November 1869, ADELL (2-mast wooden schooner, 48 foot, 25 gross tons, built in 1860, at Milwaukee, Wisconsin) was driven ashore during a storm about a half mile below Bay View Pier near Milwaukee. Her skipper had every penny he owned sunk into that vessel. He was able to salvage her rigging and spars and left them on the beach overnight. The next day he returned and found that all had been stolen during the night.

On 16 Nov 1883, MANISTEE (wooden side-wheeler, 184 foot, 677 tons, built in 1867, at Cleveland, Ohio) broke up in a gale west of the Keweenaw Peninsula off of Eagle Harbor, Michigan. This is one of Lake Superior's worst disasters. Estimates of the number who died range from 23 to 37.

1901: The wooden freighter ELFIN-MERE was damaged by fire at Green Bay after a lamp exploded in the engineroom. The crew got away safely although an engineer was burned. The vessel was rebuilt the following year and returned to service in 1903 as b) CHARLES B. PACKARD.

1908: PASCAL P. PRATT was carrying anthracite coal from Buffalo to Milwaukee when it caught fire in the engineroom off Long Point, Lake Erie. The blaze spread quickly and the wooden vessel was beached. All of the crew got away safely. The hull burned to the waterline and the remains sank.

1923: GLENSTRIVEN, loaded with 160,000 bushels of oats, was wrecked at Cove Island, Georgian Bay in wind and fog. The vessel was enroute to Midland and was salvaged December 5 by the Reid Wrecking Co. The damage was too severe to repair and the hull was scrapped at Collingwood in 1924.

1927: JOLLY INEZ stranded at Saddlebag Island in the False Detour Channel and was abandoned.

1964: THOMAS F. COLE and INVEREWE collided in heavy fog off the southern end of Pipe Island in the St. Marys River. Both ships were repaired but the latter was later lost as d) THEOKEETOR off Mexico following another collision on June 20, 1973.

1965: The LAWRENCECLIFFE HALL sank in the St. Lawrence after an early morning collision with the SUNEK off Ile d'Orleans. The former, a laker in the Halco fleet, rolled on its side but all on board were saved. The ship was refloated in March 1966, repaired and returned to service. It later sailed as DAVID K. GARDINER and CANADIAN VENTURE before scrapping at Alang, India, in 2005. SUNEK received bow damage but this was repaired and this ship was scrapped at Barcelona, Spain, as b) NOTOS in 1979.

1967: CALIFORNIA SUN, a Liberty ship, made one trip through the Seaway in 1966. It suffered an engineroom explosion off Nicobar Island on the Indian Ocean and was gutted. The abandoned ship was taken in tow by JALARAJAN, a familiar Seaway salty, and delivered to the Seychelles.

1978: MONT ST. MARTIN was battered by a storm on Lake Erie and escorted to Southeast Shoal area by the STEELTON.

1978: NYX visited the Great Lakes in 1958 and returned through the Seaway in 1959. It sustained severe fire damage at Sidon, Lebanon, as c) DOMINION TRADER. It was subsequently blown aground by strong winds November 30-December 1 and broke in two.

1979: ALDORA dragged anchor while off Port Weller and was blown aground, only to be freed the same day. This ship was scrapped at Vado, Italy, in 1985-1986.

1979: SARONIC SEA was also anchored off Port Weller when it dragged anchor and stranded at the foot of Geneva Street in St. Catharines. The hull was not refloated until December 6. The ship had first visited the Great Lakes as RAVNANGER in 1964 and was later a victim of the war between Iran and Iraq, being shelled with mortar fire at Basrah on September 25, 1980.

1986: CARINA, an SD-14, first came through the Seaway in 1969. It was abandoned by the crew as d) HYMETUS when the hull cracked in heavy weather 180 miles SSE of Hong Kong while enroute to Shanghai, with steel. The ship sank the next day in the South China Sea.

2009: CSL ASSINIBOINE went aground near Cardinal. It had to be lightered and was released on November 21.

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


Port Reports -  November 15

Lorain, Ohio – Phil Leon
Algoway arrived for Dock 3 at 11:38 a.m. Saturday. She left about 9 p.m.

Toronto, Ont.
After being laid up all season, Pineglen departed her berth in Toronto Friday evening. She's headed to Thunder Bay.

Buffalo, N.Y. – Brian W.
Karen Andrie - Endeavour departed Marathon in Tonawanda Saturday afternoon.


State house declares Nov. 10 Great Lakes Sailors Remembrance Day

11/15 - Lansing, Mi. – Upper Peninsula residents weren’t the only ones commemorating the fortieth anniversary of the loss of the S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald on Tuesday.

The State House of Representatives adopted House Resolution 185, declaring November 10th “Great Lakes Sailors Remembrance Day,” in order to honor those who navigate the Great Lakes and those who have lost their lives doing so. Among the sponsors of the resolution were Representatives John Kivela and Scott Dianda.

The resolution reads: Whereas, Throughout the annals of Great Lakes history, which have spanned hundreds of years, there is but one Great Lakes State; and Whereas, Michigan has more coastline than any other state within our continental boundaries and embodies a freshwater legacy that is defined by its people, waterways, and ports; and

Whereas, The Great Lakes maritime trade is more than a mode of transportation but rather a way of life which provides the iron ore that has fueled steel production in war and peace, the coal that generates limitless electrical power, the aggregate which lies beneath our feet, and the grains on our kitchen tables. Nowhere else in the maritime world do the cargoes carried by ships reach so far beyond the threshold of one’s household; and

Whereas, While reliant upon many assets this industry, above all else, depends on sea-faring men and women who, at all hours and in all conditions, stand watch to ensure that vessels of American enterprise and sustainability navigate vast waters safely and efficiently for the good of all. Yet, this is not accomplished without risk and in many cases peril as even the finest vessels have succumbed to unparalleled natural forces; and

Whereas, The Great Lakes have more shipwrecks per square mile than anywhere else on earth and in turn serve as the solemn grave for thousands of lakes sailors. Most notable on this day, November 10, is the untimely loss of the once “Queen of the Lakes,” S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald and her 29 crewmembers. Their struggle with wind and waves would result in an inexplicable journey to a watery grave which they now share with all those who had been lost before them; now, therefore, be it

Resolved by the House of Representatives, That the members of this legislative body declare November 10, 2015, as Great Lakes Sailors Remembrance Day in the state of Michigan. We dedicate this day to those who have sailed and continue to ply the waters of our vast inland seas for the Great Lakes have and will continue to serve as the lifeblood of natural resources to our state and nation.

ABC 10


Authorama returns to Port Huron’s Maritime Center Saturday

11/15 - Port Huron, Mich. – The 10th Annual Marine Authorama will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. this coming Saturday at the Great Lakes Maritime Center in Port Huron, Mich.

Featured at the public event will be Roger LeLievre, editor of the "Know Your Ships" guide, as well as authors Robert Campbell (“Classic Ships of the Great Lakes”), Wayne “Skip” Kadar (“Cold Case Files”) and John L. Wagner (“Michigan Lighthouses”). Photography by Mary Truchan, Robert Powers and Frank Switlicki will be on display.

Admission is free. The Great Lakes Nautical Society Model Boatbuilders group will also be at the Maritime Center Saturday with an event for kids.

Frank Frisk


Marine Mart at Dossin Museum next Saturday

11/15 - Detroit, Mich. – The annual Marine Mart returns to the Dossin Great Lakes Museum on Belle Isle on Saturday, Nov. 21 from 9 a.m. - 2 p.m.

The mart is a vendor marketplace designed for Great Lakes enthusiasts. It features nautical items and treasures, including lighthouse prints, nautical stipple ink prints, original and acrylic prints, unique nautical gifts, hand painted Christmas ornaments with Michigan lighthouses, postcards, magazines, china, souvenirs, clocks, marine art, nautical charts, maritime artifacts, boat items, nautical artifacts, nautical photographs, woodworking, lithographs, brochures, acrylic paintings, out-of-print Great Lakes books, ship models and more.

All tickets are available at the door. Between 9 and 11 a.m., early birds pay $7 for adults, and children ages 12 and under are free. After 11 a.m., the Dossin Museum opens to the public and admission to the Marine Mart is free to everyone.

Dossin Museum


Lookback #728 – Federal Elbe launched at Wismar, East Germany, on Nov. 15, 1980

The bulk carrier Federal Elbe was built by Mathias-Thesen and launched at Wismar, East Germany, 35 years ago today. The 579.1-foot-long bulk carrier was completed on May 28, 1981, and entered service on charter to Federal Commerce & Navigation (Fednav).

The ship ventured through the Seaway with one trip in 1981 and returned on a regular basis. It was lengthened to 655 feet, 6 inches later in 1981 and registered at 18,237 gross tons.

Federal Elbe ran aground off Becancour, Quebec, on Nov. 28, 1985, and was released on Dec. 1 following lightering.

The ship was sold in 1989 and renamed b) Bronson. It came up the Welland Canal for the first time as such in Nov. 1989 and returned to Port Weller to deliver a cargo of foundry sand in 1990.

Seaway service continued after the ship was sold to Turkish interests in 1991. It returned inland as c) Necat A. in 1994 and made a total of 10 trips into the Great Lakes to the end of 2000.

Interestingly, the ship was back under charter to Fednav for one year beginning on Feb. 10, 1995, and often brought steel into the lakes.

Since 2002, the ship has operated as d) Zolotaya Kolyma and flies the Russian flag. It has been used to provide coal to the Magadan district of Northern Russia. Zoloto Kolymy, another ship with Seaway connections as a) Bijelo Polje and c) Utviken, is employed in similar service hauling coal in the Russian north.

In late October of this year, the now 34-year-old Zolotaya Kolyma was on the Okhotsk Sea trading between the Russian ports of Vostochny and Magadan but, in the previous months, had also called at Chinese ports. As of yesterday, Nov. 14, the ship was anchored off Nakhodka, Russia.

Skip Gillham


Today in Great Lakes History -  November 15

In 1883, the schooner E. FITZGERALD, Captain Daniel Lanigan, went ashore and was completely covered with ice. The crew of six drowned while attempting to make shore in the yawl. A couple days after the loss, Mrs. Lanigan received a prophetic letter from her son stating he was tired of sailing and this would be his last trip.

On 15 November 1871, EVERGREEN CITY (wooden propeller freighter, 193 foot, 624 gross tons, built in 1856, at Cleveland, Ohio) was carrying lumber camp supplies when she was driven on to the southwest coast of Long Point on Lake Erie by a westerly gale. She hogged and broke up. Most of her cargo and fittings were stolen over the winter. Surprisingly, she was recovered and rebuilt in 1872-1873, but only lasted until 1875, when she was abandoned at Buffalo, New York.

The cargo mid-body of the then-under construction GEORGE A. STINSON was towed from Toledo, where it was built, to Lorain, Ohio, in 1977.

PAUL THAYER left Lorain on her maiden voyage November 15, 1973, light for Escanaba, Michigan to load iron ore. Renamed b.) EARL W. OGLEBAY in 1995.

On November 15, 1974, W. W. HOLLOWAY struck an embankment at Burns Harbor, Indiana, causing extensive damage.

Departing Duluth on November 15, 1909, the BRANSFORD encountered a gale driven snowstorm. She battled the storm the entire day only to end up on the rocks near Siskiwit Bay on Isle Royale.

On 15 November 1894, ANTELOPE (wooden schooner, 56 foot, 32 gross tons, built in 1878, at Grand Haven, Michigan) capsized in a storm while trying to make harbor at Grand Haven, Michigan. 4 lives were lost.

November 15, 1924 - The carferry PERE MARQUETTE was renamed PERE MARQUETTE 15.

On 15 November 1875, The Port Huron Times reported that "there is little doubt but that the scow SUTLER GIRL has been lost with all hands on Lake Erie. She has now been overdue two weeks."

On 15 November 1869, W. W. ARNOLD (wooden schooner, 426 gross tons, built in 1863, at Buffalo, New York) was carrying iron ore when she was driven ashore near the mouth of the Two Hearted River on Lake Superior during the great gale of November 1869. The violent storm tore the schooner apart and she sank quickly losing all hands (11) including several passengers.

On 15 Nov 1905, the W. K. BIXBY (steel straight-deck bulk freighter, 480 foot, 5,712 gross tons, later b.) J.L. REISS, then c.) SIDNEY E. SMITH JR) was launched at Wyandotte, Michigan, for the National Steamship Co. (M.B. McMillan). She lasted until 1972, when she was wrecked at Sarnia, Ontario, in a collision with the PARKER EVANS.

1901: The consort barge JOHN SMEATON broke loose of the steamer HARVARD and came ashore on the rocks off Au Train, Mich., and rested in 4 feet of water. The crew was safe and the ship released at the end of the month by Reid Wrecking and went to Superior for repairs.

1909: The Canadian freighter OTTAWA foundered stern first off Passage Isle, Lake Superior when the cargo of grain shifted. The crew, while they suffered terribly, were able to reach the safety of Keweenaw Point in the lifeboats after 12 hours on the open lake in wild seas.

1915: A. McVITTIE took out the gate at Lock 12 of the Third Welland Canal leading to a washout.

1919: J.S. CROUSE was enroute from Glen Haven to Traverse City when fire was discovered around the stack. The blaze spread quickly. The ship burned to the water line and sank in Sleeping Bear Bay, Lake Michigan.

1920: The wooden hulled steamer MAPLEGULF broke her back in a Lake Ontario storm. It was considered beyond economical repair and beached at Kingston.

1931: A storm forced the wooden passenger and freight steamer WINONA back to Spragge, Ontario, and the next day the ship was found to be on fire over the boiler. The vessel was towed from the dock to protect a pile of lumber and it became a total loss.

1952: The newly-built tanker B.A. PEERLESS lost power and went aground below the Detroit River Light. It was refloated on November 17.

1975: The ocean tanker GATUN LOCKS made one trip through the Seaway in 1959. The vessel was lying at Piraeus Roads, Greece, as c) SUNARUSSA when it was gutted by a fire. The hull was sold for scrap in 1977 and broken up at Laurion, Greece, beginning on April 26, 1977.

1981: ALFRED was gutted by a fire off Benghazi, Libya, after the blaze broke out in the engineroom. The hull was scuttled 100 miles out in the Mediterranean on November 24. The ship had been on the Great Lakes earlier in the year and first traveled inland as a) ALFRED REHDER in 1972.

1994: The Turkish freighter FIRAT was blown ashore at Port Everglades, FL by Hurricane Gordon when the anchors failed to hold. The ship was a beach attraction until lightered and released on November 26. FIRAT first came through the Seaway in 1990 and was scrapped at Alang, India, in 1997, after sailing 27 years under the same name.

2007: CALUMET was damaged when it struck a wall at Cleveland while moving to the salt dock. It was sold for scrap and departed for Port Colborne two days later.

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


Algoma, CSL announces agreement to acquire ocean self-unloaders

11/14 - Algoma Central Corporation’s wholly-owned subsidiary Algoma Shipping Ltd. has reached an agreement with Klaveness Selfunloaders AS, a subsidiary of Klaveness Ship Holding AS, to purchase the ocean-going Panamax self-unloaders Balchen and Baldock.

Marbulk Shipping Ltd., 50 percent owned by Algoma, also reached an agreement with KSH to acquire the Handymax size self-unloader Balder. The vessel purchases are subject to technical due diligence.

Balchen is a modern, fuel-efficient Panamax-sized self-unloader delivered from the shipyard in September 2013. This ship was designed by Deltamarin Ltd., of Finland, designers of Algoma's Equinox class of new Canadian Great Lakes bulk carriers. Baldock, also Panamax size, became a self-unloader in 2006 with the construction of a new forebody. This ship is a virtual sistership to Algoma's Honourable Henry Jackman, another Panamax forebody project (completed by Algoma in 2007). The Balder is a Handymax size self-unloader built in 2002. Balder features an exhaust gas scrubber system that has recently been commissioned.

"These new additions to the Algoma fleet more than offset recent retirements to our ocean-going self-unloader fleet and help to realize our objective to expand this segment of our operations," said Ken Soerensen, president and CEO.

These additions follow closely the addition of the Algoma Integrity (formerly the Gypsum Integrity) a 2009 built handy-max self-unloader added in April, 2015.

CSL Americas, a division of The CSL Group Inc., has also reached an agreement with Klaveness to acquire the Trillium Class Panamax self-unloading vessel Balto, and the Handysize self-unloader Barkald. The three vessels are currently employed in the CSL International Pool and will continue to operate as part of this pool upon their expected delivery in January 2016.

“We are very excited about adding this new cargo capacity to our fleet, including the state-of-the-art Balto built in 2013 under CSL supervision,” said Louis Martel, President of CSL International. "We are delighted to reunite MV Balto with her sister ships, MV Rt. Hon. Paul E. Martin, MV CSL Tacoma and MV CSL Tecumseh.”

Algoma Central Corporation, CSL Group


Lake Erie phenomenon: Seiche causes 7-foot water rise at Buffalo

11/14 - The storm that caused spectacular waves on Lake Michigan and some minor lakeshore flooding also sent Lake Erie's water listing like a boat. The phenomenon is called a seiche. It occurs when strong winds push water either way along the long length of a lake, essentially causing water levels to drop at one end and rise at the other.

Data from the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory shows the water level at Buffalo increased about 7 1/2 feet from 5 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 12 to 3 p.m. the same day. At the same time, the water level at Toledo fell slightly more than six feet.

M Live


Seaway officials seek funding to replace Robinson Bay tug

11/14 - Massena, N.Y. – St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corp. officials say after nearly six decades of service, it is time to replace the tug that has helped break ice in the system since the opening of Eisenhower and Snell locks and has been responsible for placing buoys and navigation aids in the St. Lawrence River and removing them at the beginning and end of every shipping season since 1959.

“We’re looking to replace the Robinson Bay as part of our asset renewal program going forward with a new state-of-the-art ice class tug. Most likely that will happen at some point over the next 2½ years. We are currently in the design stage for a new tugboat,” St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corp. Deputy Administrator Craig H. Middlebrook said, estimating the cost of the new vessel would be in the $25 million range.

He said the tug, which started its service in Massena in July 1958, remains in good shape despite its age. The tug was completely overhauled approximately a decade ago, including work on its hull at dry dock. The vessel also suffered minor damage in a fire in December 2013, but repairs were made quickly and the tug was able to complete its work removing buoys at the end of that shipping season.

“We know how to make things last. We don’t get a lot of money. Given its age, it is in good shape. It still has useful life left in it,” he said, suggesting the tug’s next stop could be with a private company or another agency or used for training purposes at an academy.

St. Lawrence Seaway Administrator Betty S. Sutton acknowledged it is an ongoing struggle for the agency to secure the funding it needs to rehabilitate and modernize its infrastructure, including its aging tugboat.

“While we have secured enough funding to get the design formulated for the new tug, we will have to continue to pursue and get that funding to build it in the future,” she said.

Watertown Daily News


How ice cover on the Great Lakes impacts our weather

11/14 - Green Bay, Wis. – Nine months out of the year, water washing on shore is the sound you'll hear along the banks of the Great Lakes. But with winter fast approaching, that peaceful sound will disappear as ice takes over.

Jeff Last, meteorologist with the Green Bay National Weather Service office, says there was plenty of ice to go around these last two winters. "It was very, very cold. We broke quite a few records, streaks of temperatures below freezing or below zero," he said.

That record cold in 2014 ultimately lead to the second highest ice coverage since 1973 on the Great Lakes, with 92.5 percent freezing. And 2015 wasn't too far behind, claiming the fourth spot on that list with 88.8 percent of the lakes frozen during the winter.

That lake ice had a significant impact on our lake-effect snow - or a lack thereof, according to Steven Meyer, a climatologist at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. "The more ice cover you have, the less evaporation you get. And the less evaporation you get, the less lake-effect snow you get," Meyer said.

The ice cover acts like an "off" switch for the lake effect snow process. Meyer says all this ice cover has also boosted lake water levels. "What really changes the lake levels is the evaporation you get during the winter," he said.

Lake levels have been able to return to normal because of the expansive ice the past two years.

But this winter, a strong El Nino in the eastern Pacific could mean milder temperatures and lower snowfall totals for Northeast Wisconsin. And this milder weather could buck the recent trends for lake ice.

"We typically would see less ice on the Great Lakes with the milder temperatures. And that certainly will have an impact on our weather here locally and across Great Lake states," Last said.

Fox 11


Port of Cleveland cargo volumes continue to exceed 2014 levels

11/14 - Cleveland, Ohio – With two months left in the shipping season, U.S. ports were busy moving grain and project cargo in October, according to a press release from the Great Lakes Seaway Partnership.

And despite the recent slowdown in the global steel market, cargo volumes moving through the Port of Cleveland continued to exceed 2014 numbers, said David Gutheil, vice president of Maritime & Logistics.

"Through October, we were running approximately 12 percent ahead of 2014 tonnage for international cargo. Much of this is due to new cargoes, such as steel pipe, handled by Federal Marine Terminals, and project cargoes, handled by both Federal Marine Terminals and C-Port Maritime.

"The Cleveland-Europe Express has far exceeded 2014 volumes. Although the strong dollar has weakened exports, our container volumes have increased by more than 400 percent compared with 2014, and overall tonnage is up by more than 300 percent compared with last year," he said in a written statement.

Spliethoff also recently announced a monthly service to India via Antwerp that will start in 2016, which will provide shippers with more options. The Cleveland-Europe Express has far exceeded 2014 volumes."

"In partnership with Spliethoff and C-Port Maritime, we are also working on plans to offer a weekly service between the Port of Cleveland and the Port of Antwerp beginning in 2016," Gutheil said.

Betty Sutton, administrator of the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corp., said they anticipated the increase and they got it.

October traditionally signals the initial push to get cargo into and out of the Great Lakes Seaway System before the end of the navigation season. Increases were seen in the number of international ships arriving in the system loaded with project cargo for local manufacturers in Cleveland, Toledo, and Duluth. Those same ships left the Seaway System with shipments of grain and project cargo from Milwaukee, Duluth and Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin.

The St. Lawrence Seaway reported that year-to-date total cargo shipments for the period April 2 to Oct. 31 were 27 million metric tons, down 9 percent over the same period in 2014. U.S. grain shipments were up by 32 percent in October over last year. The dry bulk category was up by 6 percent over 2014 with potash, stone, and gypsum in the positive column, at 32, 33, and 69 percent respectively. The general cargo category was down 10 percent. Iron ore and coal remained down in October by 12 and 37 percent respectively. The liquid bulk category posted a downturn of 10 percent.

Cleveland Plain Dealer


Lookback #727 – Conallison laid up at Toronto on Nov. 14, 1981

The brief, but valiant effort, to operate the self-unloader Conallison ended at Toronto 34-years ago today. The ship had only managed limited service after being acquired by Johnstone Shipping earlier in the year.

As the J.R. Sensibar, the vessel had been laid up at Toledo on May 5, 1980, ending service in the Columbia Transportation fleet. Following a sale to Johnstone, the 610 foot long self-unloader was towed to Windsor for a refit on June 19, 1981. But operation was plagued with mechanical and unloading problems prior to being tied up at Toronto, for the first time, on Aug. 21. It resumed limited trading on Oct. 17 only to tie up for good on Nov. 14, 1981.

Conallison was idle at Toronto in 1982 and then sold to Marine Salvage in 1983. The ship arrived at their Ramey's Bend scrapyard under tow of Glenevis and Stormont on Nov. 23, 1983, and some preliminary stripping of the bow got underway.

However, a resale to Spanish shipbreakers resulted in Conallison being sealed up prior to being towed out of Port Colborne by the tugs Glenevis and Glenside on Aug. 9, 1984. The Polish tug Koral took over at Quebec City and they departed there, with the retired Misener laker George M. Carl as a tandem tow, on Aug. 25. All arrived safely and the two old lakers were broken up.

Conallison had been built at Ecorse, MI as a) Frank C. Ball in 1906 and became b) J.R. Sensibar in 1930. Over the years, the vessel operated as a conventional bulk carrier, a sandsucker and a self-unloader. It was repowered in 1960 and lengthened in 1961 before its abbreviated career as c) Conallison.

Editor’s Note: Lookback #725 on the Clara Clausen, which appeared Nov. 12, did not have the ultimate fate of the ship. My thanks to Ronald Oliveira who passed on the information that the former Clara Clausen was sold to shipbreakers in Colombia. It arrived at Mamonal as d) Stecarika on Nov. 16, 1988, and was scrapped by S.I.P.S.A. beginning on Feb. 3, 1989.

Skip Gillham


Today in Great Lakes History -  November 14

ALGOBAY (steel propeller bulk freighter, 719 foot, 22,466 gross tons, built at Collingwood, Ontario in 1978) departed Sept Iles, Quebec on 14 Nov 1978, with an iron ore pellet cargo for Sydney, Nova Scotia when she collided with the 90,000 ton Italian-flag ore carrier CIELO BIANCO. The Collingwood-built tug POINTE MARGUERITE, which was towing the big salty, was unfortunately crushed between the two vessels and sank, killing two crewmembers.

On November 14, 1934, the WILLIAM A. REISS grounded off Sheboygan and was declared a constructive total loss. Built as the a.) FRANK H. PEAVEY in 1901, renamed b.) WILLIAM A. REISS in 1916. She was scrapped at Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin in 1935.

Cracks across the ENDERS M. VOORHEES' spar deck were first noticed in a storm on Lake Superior November 14, 1942. Her fleetmate NORMAN B. REAM came to her assistance by releasing storm oil which helped calm the seas so the crew of the VOORHEES could run cables the length of her deck and winch them tight to arrest the cracking. She proceeded to the Soo escorted by the REAM and later sailed to the Great Lake Engineering Works for repairs.

The THOMAS WILSON (Hull#826) was launched November 14, 1942, at Lorain, Ohio, for the U.S. Maritime Commission.

The U.S. Coast Guard buoy tender MESQUITE (Hull#76) was launched November 14, 1942, at a cost of $894,000, by Marine Iron & Shipbuilding Co. at Duluth, Minnesota. MESQUITE ran aground off Keweenaw Point on December 4, 1989, and was declared a total loss. MESQUITE was scuttled off Keweenaw Point on July 14, 1990.

On November 14, 1952, the SPARROWS POINT, b.) BUCKEYE entered service for Bethlehem Steel Corp. Reduced to a barge at Erie, Pennsylvania, and renamed c.) LEWIS J KUBER in 2006.

On 14 November 1879, C G BREED (2 mast wooden schooner, 140 foot, 385 tons, built in 1862, at Milwaukee, Wisconsin) was carrying 24,000 bushels of wheat from Detroit to Buffalo when she capsized and sank in a sudden squall near Ashtabula, Ohio in Lake Erie. 5 lives were lost, but 3 were saved. The three survivors were rescued by three different vessels.

In 1940, following the Armistice Day Storm, The CITY OF FLINT 32 was freed by the tug JOHN F. CUSHING assisted by the PERE MARQUETTE 21.

In 1990, Glen Bowden (of MWT) announced that he would suspend cross-Lake Michigan ferry service indefinitely. On 14 November 1886, the steamer BELLE WILSON was crossing Lake Ontario with a load of 11,800 bushels of oats when a severe gale and snowstorm blew in. The vessel lost her rudder and the crew rigged sails, but these were blown away. Then they rigged a drag made of 600 feet of line and a log to help maneuver the vessel and they headed for Oswego, New York. This lasted for 12 hours, but the chain parted at 3:00 a.m. and the vessel was driven ashore at Ford's Shoals, 4 miles east of Oswego harbor. No lives were lost.

On 14 November 1892, the 2-mast, 95 foot wooden schooner MINNIE DAVIS was rammed on a dark night by the 2-mast, 117 foot wooden schooner HUNTER SAVIDGE near Amherstburg, Ontario. The DAVIS sank, but no lives were lost. The wreckage was removed in May 1893.

1922: The composite hulled freighter JOS. L. SIMPSON was upbound on Lake Ontario from Ogdensburg to Milwaukee when it stranded at Tibbett's Point. The repair bill was close to $12,000 but the vessel returned to service and last operated in 1957 as YANKCANUCK (i).

1933: The wheat laden D.E. CALLENDAR stranded in Lake Erie off Long Point and was a total loss. The hull was salvaged in 1934 and laid up at Toledo. It was taken to New Orleans during World War Two for reconstruction as a barge but the change was never registered and the hull was likely scrapped.

1933: The wooden tug FLORENCE sank off False Duck Island in a storm that brought snow, high winds and waves on Lake Ontario. All 7 on board were saved and taken aboard the barge PETER G. CAMPBELL.

1943: RIVERTON stranded at Lottie Wolf Shoal, Georgian Bay and declared a total loss. Later salvaged and repaired, it returned to service as MOHAWK DEER.

1960: ISLAND KING II was destroyed by a fire while laid up for the winter at Lachine, QC. The vessel had been built as DALHOUSIE CITY and operated across western Lake Ontario between Toronto and St. Catharines from 1911 until the end of the 1949 season before being sold and moving to Montreal.

1966: The Liberian freighter FREIDA went aground at Poe's Reef, Lake Huron, and had to be lightered by MAITLAND NO. 1. The ocean ship began Great Lakes terading as c) SEAWAY STAR in 1960 and returned as d) DEALMOUTH in 1962 and as e) FREIDA earlier in 1966.

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


Project cargo and grain top Seaway cargoes in October

11/13 - Washington, D.C. – With two months left in the shipping season, U.S. ports were busy moving grain and project cargo in October.

“We anticipated an increase in vessel activity and cargo tonnage into the Great Lakes Seaway System for the month of October, and we saw it,” said Betty Sutton, Administrator of the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation.

October traditionally signals the initial push to get cargo into and out of the Great Lakes Seaway System before the end of the navigation season. Increases were seen in the number of international ships arriving in the system loaded with project cargo for local manufacturers in Cleveland, Toledo, and Duluth. Those same ships left the Seaway system with shipments of grain and project cargo from Milwaukee, Duluth and Sturgeon Bay, Wis.

Grain has been surging through the Port of Toledo's terminals operated by ADM, The Andersons, Hansen Mueller, Kuhlman, and Mondelez International in 2015. Shipments are up 28 percent over the same period last year at over 1.2 million tons. "It's the best year we've had for grain shipments through Toledo since 2006," said Joe Cappel, Vice President of Business Development for the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority.

"Most folks know we export corn and soybeans from Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana from Toledo to global destinations but our total also includes imported oats and wheat from Canada. The oats are used for animal feed and much of the wheat is milled into flour. Toledo's Mondelez facility is one of the largest flour mills in the world. We are pleased Mondelez utilizes marine transportation at the Port of Toledo along with truck and rail in their global supply chain,” added Cappel.

"Despite the recent slowdown in the global steel market, cargo volumes moving through the Port of Cleveland continue to exceed 2014 numbers,” said David Gutheil, Vice President, Maritime & Logistics.

“Through October, we were running approximately 12 percent ahead of 2014 tonnage for international cargo. Much of this is due to new cargoes, such as steel pipe, handled by Federal Marine Terminals, and project cargoes, handled by both Federal Marine Terminals and C-Port Maritime. The Cleveland-Europe Express has far exceeded 2014 volumes. Although the strong dollar has weakened exports, our container volumes have increased by more than 400 percent compared with 2014, and overall tonnage is up by more than 300 percent compared with last year.

Spliethoff also recently announced a monthly service to India via Antwerp that will start in 2016, which will provide shippers with more options via the CEE. In partnership with Spliethoff and C-Port Maritime, we are also working on plans to offer a weekly service between the Port of Cleveland and the Port of Antwerp beginning in 2016."

“Global pressures on regional markets and sustained drops in commodity pricing have impacted our entire Great Lakes shipping community throughout 2015,” said Vanta Coda, executive director of the Duluth Seaway Port Authority.

“With recent trade actions, we hope to restore those tonnages next year. At times like these, ports look for those ‘good news’ stories, and for us here in Duluth that’s been the rise in breakbulk and project cargo shipments at our Clure Public Marine Terminal. Volumes are up. Traffic mix of high-value cargoes is strong. In October alone we handled components for oil processing and generators for power generation as well as wind blades exported from North Dakota to Germany.

“We’ll welcome at least two more salties before the end of this season and hope the surge continues well into 2016,” he added.

Great Lakes Seaway Partnership


Port Reports -  November 13

St. Clair and Detroit Rivers - Chris Sutton
The CWB Marquis entered the Belle Isle Anchorage Thursday afternoon to wait out low water levels in Western Lake Erie. South westerly gales had caused the water level to drop over 50  inches through out the day Thursday. Also anchored off the Rouge River was the Algoma Equinox.

The anchorage above Port Huron was full Thursday night as vessel waited out the high winds and low water conditions. At anchor were the Joyce L. VanEnkevort, John B. Aird, Iryda, Solman Hermes, Algoma Enterprise, Great Republic, Frontenac, Barnacle and Algomarine.

Buffalo, N.Y. – Brian W.
The Karen Andrie was still at the Marathon Dock Thursday evening while the big storm blew through. The water was way up in Buffalo Harbor with waves crashing over Route 5 and flooding reported in the Erie Basin due to a seiche.


Lookback #726 – Coastal freighter C. de Baillon ran aground in St. Lawrence on Nov. 13, 1971

The Canadian coastal freighter C. de Baillon ran aground at Mont Louis, QC on Nov. 13, 1971. The ship was listed as wrecked two days later and at least some of the hull was dismantled.

C. de Baillon had been a Seaway visitor earlier in 1971. The ship had been built by Canadian Vickers Ltd., of Montreal in 1928 as a) Donnacona No. 2. The motor vessel then joined the Donnacona Paper Co. for work hauling pulpwood between the St. Lawrence ports of Sault au Mouton and Donnacona, QC. The 145 foot,1 inch long, steel-hulled, bulk carrier was registered at 330 gross tons.

The vessel was repowered in 1942 and rebuilt in 1954-1955. It was sold to St. Simeon Navigation and renamed b) Miron C. in 1959. The latter was a Seaway traveler in each of 1965, 1966 and 1967. Resold in 1971, it was renamed c) C. de Baillon for brief service before its grounding of 44 years ago today.

Skip Gillham


Today in Great Lakes History -  November 13

In 1952, the 626-foot SPARROWS POINT successfully completed her sea trials and departed Chicago on her maiden trip. The new Bethlehem boat, the largest boat to enter the lakes via the Mississippi River Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, was under the command of Captain Wilfred Couture and Chief Engineer James Meinke. She was lengthened to 682 feet in 1958, converted to a self-unloader in 1980, renamed b.) BUCKEYE in 1991, converted to a barge in 2006, renamed c.) LEWIS J. KUBER.

ARAB (2-mast wooden schooner, 100 foot, 158 tons, built in 1854, at Buffalo, New York) beached on 01 November 1883, near St. Joseph, Michigan, during a storm, but quick work by salvagers got her free. However on 13 November 1883, while being towed to Racine, Wisconsin, she capsized and sank well off of Arcadia, Michigan. One man lost his life, an engineer who was desperately trying to start her pumps when she rolled.

On November 13, 1976, the TEMPLE BAR (later LAKE WABUSH and ALGONORTH) arrived at Singapore, where she was lengthened 202 feet.

CONDARRELL was laid up for the last time on November 13, 1981. Built in 1953 as a.) D. C. EVEREST, she was renamed b.) CONDARRELL in 1982.

GEORGE HINDMAN was in collision with the British salty MANCHESTER EXPLORER on Lake St. Louis, above the Lachine Lock in 1956. Built in 1921, as a.) GLENCLOVA, renamed b.) ANTICOSTI in 1927, c.) RISACUA in 1946, d.) GEORGE HINDMAN in 1955, and e.) ELIZABETH HINDMAN in 1962. Scrapped at Duluth, Minnesota, in 1971.

J. P. MORGAN JR (Hull#373) was launched November 13, 1909, at Lorain, Ohio, for the Pittsburgh Steamship Co.

HOMER D. WILLIAMS was involved in a collision with the steamer OTTO M. REISS at Duluth November 13, 1917.

In 1984, HOMER D. WILLIAMS was towed to Thunder Bay, Ontario, by the tug MALCOLM for dismantling.

On 13 November 1870, the schooner E. FITZGERALD left Port Huron on her maiden voyage to load lumber at Au Sable, Michigan, for Chicago. She was commanded by Capt. A. McTavish.

On 13 November 1883, H. C. AKELEY (wooden propeller bulk freighter, 240 foot, 1,187 tons, built in 1881, at Grand Haven, Michigan) was carrying corn from Chicago to Buffalo when she encountered a heavy storm off Holland, Michigan. She took the disabled tug PROTECTOR in tow but let her go when her own rudder broke off. AKELEY anchored but started to sink when she fell into the troughs of the waves. The disabled schooner DRIVER managed to save 12 of the crew who had taken to AKELEY's yawl before she went down. 6 lives were lost.

Captain W. H. Van Dyke was born at Escanaba, Michigan, on November 13, 1871, and spent most of his life on the Great Lakes (he joined the crew of a schooner at the age of 15). He first captained the Pere Marquette Line Steamer PERE MARQUETTE 8 then, in 1916, he joined the Pere Marquette carferry fleet. His first command was the str. PERE MARQUETTE 15. Then for 10 years he served as master of the PERE MARQUETTE 17, and after the launch of the CITY OF FLINT 32 in 1929, he served as master of the PERE MARQUETTE 22.

On 13 November 1865, CLARA PARKER (3-mast wooden schooner, 175 foot, 425 gross tons, built in 1865, at Detroit, Michigan) was fighting a losing battle with storm induced leaks, so she was beached 400 yards off shore near the mouth of the Pigeon River, south of Grand Haven, Michigan. The local Lifesaving Service plucked all 9 of the crew from the rigging by breeches buoy after the vessel had gone down to her decks and was breaking up.

On 13 November 1888, LELAND (wooden steam barge, 148 foot, 366 gross tons, built in 1873, at New Jerusalem, Ohio) burned at Huron, Ohio. She was valued at $20,000 and insured for $15,000. She was rebuilt and lasted until 1910.

JAMES DAVIDSON (steel propeller bulk freighter, 587 foot, 8,349 gross tons, built at Wyandotte, Michigan, in 1920) entered service on 13 Nov 1920, for the Globe Steamship Co. (G. A. Tomlinson, mgr.) when she loaded 439,000 bushels of wheat at Duluth, Minnesota, for delivery to Buffalo, New York. She was the last ship built at Wyandotte, Michigan.

An unnamed salty (formerly RANGUINI) arrived at Milwaukee's heavy lift dock on Saturday night, 13 Nov 1999, to load a large desalinization filtration system built in Milwaukee for Korea. The vessel entered the Seaway in ballast for Milwaukee on 09 Nov 1999. The following day, the crew rigged scaffolding over the side so the new name BBC GERMANY could be painted on the ship.

The Toledo Blade published the following vessel passages for Detroit on this date in 1903: -Up- VOLUNTEER, AMAZON, HARLOW, 12:30 Friday morning; ROCKEFELLER, 4:20; MARISKA, 4:40; FRENCH, 5:20; CONEMAUGH, 6; S M STEPHENSON, FAUSTIN, barges, 7:30; OLIVER, MITCHELL, (sailed), 7:50; AVERILL, 8.

1909: The steamers CHARLES WESTON and WARD AMES collided in lower Whitefish Bay. The former, which had been at anchor waiting to head downbound through the Soo Locks, ran for shore but settled on the bottom. The ship was saved, repaired and last sailed as c) SAUCON for Bethlehem Transportation before being scrapped at Hamilton, ON in 1950.

1909: JAMES H. HOYT went aground on a reef about two miles off the northeast corner of Outer Island after the engine was disabled in a snowstorm. The vessel was refloated November 29 and later became the BRICOLDOC.

1929: BRITON was wrecked in Lake Erie off Point Abino. The stranded vessel was battered for two days before being abandoned as a total loss.

1934: WILLIAM A. REISS (i) stranded off Sheboygan while inbound with 7025 tons of coal from Toledo. The ship was refloated November 17 with heavy damage and considered a total loss.

1942: H.M. PELLATT, a former Great Lakes canal freighter, was sailing as f) SCILLIN under the flag of Italy, when it was hit by gunfire from the British submarine H.M.S. PROTEUS while 9 miles off Kuriat, Tunisia, and sank.

1956: The downbound and grain-laden GEORGE HINDMAN and the upbound MANCHESTER EXPLORER collided in fog on the St. Lawrence above Lachine and both ships were damaged.

1958: LUNAN, a Pre-Seaway trader on the Great Lakes, sustained major bottom damage in a grounding on the St. Lawrence near Murray Bay. The ship was refloated, towed to Lauzon for repairs and it returned to service as b) MARIDAN C. in 1959.

1967: SANTA REGINA, the first American saltwater vessel to use the St. Lawrence Seaway, put into San Francisco with boiler problems and machinery damage while headed from Los Angeles to Saigon, South Vietnam as f) NORBERTO CAPAY. The vessel was sold at auction and towed to Kaohsiung, Taiwan, for scrapping in 1969.

1971: The small St. Lawrence freighter C. DE BAILLON, better known as a) DONNACONA NO. 2 and b) MIRON C., went aground at Mont Louis and was a total loss.

1975: There was a boiler explosion on the Egyptian freighter CLEOPATRA after leaving Hartlepool, England, for Alexandria, Egypt, and 8 crewmen were severely injured with at least one fatality. The former Victory Ship first traveled through the Seaway in 1963. It was scrapped at Gadani Beach, Pakistan, in 1981.

1976: OCEAN SOVEREIGN lost steering at Sault Ste. Marie and was wedged into the wall at the Soo Locks. The rudder was damaged and the Greek saltie had to be towed to Lauzon, Quebec, for repairs. The vessel initially traded inland as a) BOLNES in 1970 and returned as b) OCEAN SOVEREIGN for the first time in 1973. It was scrapped at Ulsan, South Korea, as d) MARIA JOSE after being blown aground from the anchorage during Typhoon Vera on September 27, 1986.

1979: A steering failure put VANDOC aground at Harvey Island in the Brockville Narrows. The vessel spent time at Port Weller Dry Docks after being released.

1996: JOLLITY reported it was taking water in the engine room (Pos: 17.47 N / 119.20 E). The ship was was taken in tow two days later and reached Hong Kong on November 18. The vessel was scrapped at Chittagong, Bangladesh, in 1999.

1997: ARCADIA BERLIN visited the Great Lakes in 1971 when it was a year old. The ship was carrying bagged cement and sailing as f) ALLISSA when it collided with and sank the Ukrainian vessel SMENA off Yangon, Myanmar. The former was apparently laid up with collision damage and scrapped at Alang, India, in 1998.

2002: WILFRED SYKES was inbound with a cargo of limestone when it went aground in Muskegon Lake. Some of the cargo was lightered to PERE MARQUETTE 41 and the stranded ship was pulled free.

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


Lakeshore flood warnings issued; condition not seen in at least 15 years

11/12 - Grand Rapids, Mich. – A lakeshore flood warning has been issued for the Lake Michigan shoreline in southwest Lower Michigan. This type of warning has not been issued by the National Weather Service in Grand Rapids since at least 2000.

A long duration of strong west winds gusting up to 60 mph at the shoreline will build high waves and shove lake water onto the beach and possibly adjacent roads.

The strong west wind from Thursday morning to Friday morning could cause a lake storm surge of six inches to a foot. This means six inches to a foot of water from the west side of Lake Michigan could be shoved over to the Michigan shoreline.

The combination of much higher lake levels now, 60 mph wind gusts and 24 hours of sustained strong west winds is the reason for the Lakeshore Flood Warning.

The National Weather Service in Grand Rapids thinks severe beach erosion is possible. They are also forecasting some lakeshore roads like Beach Street in Muskegon could have rising lake water cover part of the road. There is no forecast as to how high the flood waters will be.

Water will also be shoved into the rivers, and rivers in West Michigan could rise. Yards along the Grand River near Grand Haven and along the Kalamazoo River near Saugatuck could also flood.

The main safety tip is to use common sense Thursday and Friday. While Mother Nature will put on a real show at the lakeshore, don't drive on flooded roads. Try to stay inland away from the floodwaters.

M Live – Mark Torregrossa


'Landmark storm': 75 years ago, Armistice Day Storm engulfed the Great Lakes

11/12 - Muskegon, Mich. – The forecast for Nov. 11, 1940 was nothing out of the ordinary. It was unseasonably warm, with the high temperature pushing 60 degrees before noon. All throughout the Midwest, people left their homes in short sleeves and without coats, and, on the Great Lakes, freighters were in transit.

It was a seemingly normal day, and then it wasn't. The weather conditions changed. By 6 p.m., below-freezing temperatures and wind gusts up to 79 mph wreaked havoc on the region and many were caught in its fury.

By the time the storm had dissipated, three massive freighters, 64 sailors and four Muskegon-area residents would fall victim to one of the greatest storms in the history of the Great Lakes.

Wednesday marked the 75th anniversary of the fateful Armistice Day Storm of 1940.

"It really is the landmark storm of the last 100 years on the Great Lakes," said Bob Dukesherer, marine program leader at the National Weather Service Office in Grand Rapids. "Especially in the West Michigan region we're all so familiar with."

The storm is often grouped with other memorable November gales, including the 1905 Blow that destroyed or damaged nearly 30 vessels, the "White Hurricane" of 1913 and the 1975 storm that sunk the Edmund Fitzgerald.

The Armistice Day Storm, however, hits particularly close to home since the only loss of life on the Great Lakes occurred on Lake Michigan between Little Sable Point and Big Sable Point lighthouses.

"This was not the worst storm but it was the one that we were caught off guard," said Valerie van Heest, a maritime historian and director of Michigan Shipwreck Research Association. "There was no time to prepare for this and that's why not only sailors died but many people on land died as well."

The Armistice Day Storm was caused by the collision of several weather systems, including a storm that began on the West Coast and caused the collapse of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge on Nov. 7, 1940.

It was forecasted that the storm would dissipate over the Rocky Mountains, but instead it continued to move east where it collided with an intense low-pressure system that had tracked from the southern plains northeastward and a cold arctic air mass from the north.

The timing of year is also significant since conditions in the Great Lakes are primed for storms in the month of November. It has to do with two main factors, according to MLive Meteorologist Mark Torregrossa.

"The Great Lakes water temperatures are usually still fairly warm in late October and early November. Many years there are still pockets of nearly 60 degree water still in early November," he wrote.

"Combine the warm water with blasts of winter-like cold, and you've got the recipe for intensifying storm systems. So take a deepening storm system coming out of the Plains, move that storm center over the warm Great Lakes, pull in very cold air from Canada, and watch a storm explosively deepen."

He added that the average strength of storm systems gets stronger on their own in late fall due to more powerful upper level winds; the jet stream.

National Weather Bureau records indicate a severe temperature drop and wind speed increase on the day of Nov. 11, 1940. The measured temperature at 10:35 a.m. was 56 degrees and by 11:35 p.m. the temperatures was 25 degrees.

A southeast wind of 13 mph measured at 10:35 a.m increased to a western wind of 61 mph by 5:35 p.m.

The 420-foot-long William B. Davock, 340-foot-long Anna C. Minch and the 250-foot-long Novadoc, as well as two smaller vessels, the Indian and the Richard H., were all lost beneath the waves. The entire 32-man crew of the Davock and the 24-man crew of the Minch died in the incident.

The cooks from the Novadoc – Joe De Shane of Toronto, and Phillip Flavin of Halifax, Nova Scotia – were both swept overboard while the rest of the 17-man crew was rescued by Clyde Cross, Gustav Fisher and Joe Fontain, the crew of a small fishing tug called Three Brothers II.

Together, the three braved the surf against Coast Guard orders to save a crew that had been huddling in the stern for 36 hours. Tom Peterson, 50, was one of the men who survived the ordeal.

A veteran sailor with more than 20 years of experience, he shared his story with Muskegon Chronicle reporter Dale Stafford in an article published on Nov. 14, 1940.

"I was in the stern with three others. The ship started breaking and water poured in on us. All Monday night, all day yesterday, through last night until this morning we had to keep bailing. We scooped water up in buckets and heaved it out the portholes. It was all we could do to keep ourselves from drowning."

"We didn't have any heat in the stern compartment," the account continued. "The rest were up in the bow and they had some heat and food...I was through a bad storm a few years back but I never saw anything like that. What I want now is a warm place, something to eat and some sleep."

While tragic, the Armistice Day Storm of 1940 effectively changed weather forecasting on the Great Lakes.

Prior to the event, all of the weather forecasts for the region originated at the National Weather Bureau in Chicago and were made during 12-hour days, six days a week. Forecasting responsibilities were expanded to include 24-hour coverage and more forecasting offices were created throughout the Midwest.

"In the case of so many accidents, if we can find good that comes out of bad, then we can realize that the people who died didn't die in vain," van Heest said. "In this case those who died prompted major changes with the National Weather Bureau that led to being able to predict the changing weather conditions more efficiently. Those people's lives may have saved many, many people in the years since."

Since then, no single weather event on the Great Lakes has claimed more ships or taken as many lives as the Armistice Day Storm of 1940.

M Live – Brandon Champion


Would the Edmund Fitzgerald have sunk with today's weather technology?

11/12 - Whitefish Point, Mich. – Technology advances have been tremendous in meteorology since 1975. It begs the questions: Would the Edmund Fitzgerald have sunk if the captain and ship had been armed with today's weather technology?

In 1975, there were two computer models used to make the daily forecasts. All we got for output back in 1975 was a model forecast for just a few layers in the atmosphere. The resolution was very low.

The Limited Area Fine Mesh (LFM) had a spatial resolution of around 113 miles. The output was a grid of squares across the United States. Each square was 113 miles by 113 miles. This model ran every 12 hours.

Today, we have handfuls of weather computer models. The highest-resolution model runs every hour and has a resolution of 1.8 miles by 1.8 miles.

In 1975, the farthest out in time a model forecasted was 48 hours. Now we have higher-resolution models forecasting out 16 days.

Would better forecasts have saved the Edmund Fitz? We'd need a modern storm system similar to the one that struck the Fitzgerald to compare whether safety is increased. Fortunately, we have such a storm.

On Oct. 26, 2010, a Great Lakes storm took a similar track to the one that sunk the Edmund Fitzgerald. But the 2010 storm was even stronger. The center of the storm dropped 22 millibars lower in air pressure than the 1975 Edmund Fitzgerald storm. The forecast was accurate and in place several days in advance.

Today, computer models are run more often. Back in 1975, we had to wait 12 hours to see another run of the models. Today, we get a look at new model runs at least every six hours. The highest-resolution model runs every hour.

I doubt the Fitzgerald would have left port if we had today's technology in 1975.

Modern forecasting models would have shown the strength and placement of the 1975 storm at least three days in advance. And, while day-to-day snow or rain forecasts can still be a little inaccurate, the general weather and wind pattern is depicted very accurately by computer models.

We see this time and time again with recent severe weather events. The weather event causes incredible destruction, but the lives lost stay at zero or very low.

I can confidently tell you taxpayer dollars spent on weather forecasting improvements have saved lives.

M Live – Mark Torregrossa


Port Reports -  November 12

Marquette, Mich. – Rod Burdick
A busy Wednesday afternoon at the Upper Harbor found fleet mates Hon. James L. Oberstar and Kaye E. Barker loading ore and USCGC Alder working aids to navigation.

Buffalo, N.Y. – Brian W
American Mariner departed General Mills in the mid-evening Wednesday. Karen Andrie - Endeavour were unloading at Marathon Asphalt in Tonawanda Wednesday night.

Panama Canal – Bill Bird, Paul Beesley
The Great Lakes-bound Manitoulin was in the Panama Canal on Wednesday. She is headed for Canada from China.


Oil leak in sunken Lake Erie barge patched with valve

11/12 - Kelleys Island, Ohio – A pinhole leak that developed in a sunken barge in Lake Erie was quickly repaired with a plug that also contained a valve that can be used to take samples of the contents, a Coast Guard spokesman said Tuesday.

Chief Petty Officer Thomas McKenzie said divers were preparing the Argo for a “hot tap,” creating two holes that would be used to extract what remains of the barge’s petroleum cargo, last week when the “pinhole-sized” leak was discovered.

The theory, Mr. McKenzie said, is that a failing hull rivet, held in place by marine growth on the sunken barge, came loose when that marine growth was disturbed.

During a dive Tuesday, the Lake Erie Barge Response Team spokesman said, a sample of the contents from the tank was taken and sent to a laboratory for analysis.

Operations around the Argo were halted, Mr. McKenzie said, pending the return of those lab results and passage of a storm for which a gale watch has been posted for Thursday on Lake Erie.

But, he said, the barge was stable on the lake bottom and not leaking anything.

The Argo, which according to researchers was carrying about 100,000 gallons each of a crude light oil and benzol, capsized and sank about eight miles east of Kelleys Island during a Lake Erie storm in October, 1937.

It was found in late August by a shipwreck explorer. A subsequent survey of the wreck by a Coast Guard contractor determined that four of its 12 hatches were exposed to the lake, but the other eight appeared to be secure, presenting the possibility that much of its cargo was still on board.

Also still to be determined, Mr. McKenzie said Tuesday, is whether sediment on the lakebed nearby was, and remains, contaminated by pollution from the barge.

“If the sediment is contaminated, we have to deal with that first,” he said, noting that the precise chemical makeup of any contamination or barge cargo being handled determines the protective equipment needed by divers working at the scene.

Toledo Blade


Lookback #725 – Sad tale of Clara Clausen went downhill after a grounding on Nov. 12, 1968

The Danish vessel Clara Clausen was built at Piran, Yugoslavia, in 1963. The 328 foot, 5 inch long vessel was designed as a cattle carrier and equipped with four cargo holds and a pair of hatches.

The ship went aground on a rocky ledge near Les Escoumins, Que., on Nov. 12, 1968, and salvage was deemed very difficult. Preliminary efforts were unsuccessful and the Clara Clausen was declared a total loss.

The ship was finally released with the assistance of blasting some of the rock and Clara Clausen became the property of the salvager. It came through the Seaway for Kingston in 1970 and rebuilt for salvage work as b) Atlantean No. 1.

The vessel was stationed at several locations and, in December 1973, was involved in the salvage of the freighter Adelfoi on the St. Lawrence. Atlantean No. 1 was arrested for various violations and confined to Quebec pending a court decision.

On Feb. 23, 1975, the ship fled by night and made a dash for the open waters of the Atlantic. The vessel was stalled by ice and boarded by RCMP officials from a Coast Guard based helicopter. It made another run for the sea under an unofficial name of “The Answer” but was reboarded by 20 police officers and the captain was arrested.

In subsequent years, the charges wound their way through the courts, the ship was sold and renamed c) J.F. Charlotte in 1975 and then resold becoming d) Stecarika in 1983.

The latter finally made it south and was registered in the Cayman Islands. It was laid up at Cartagena, Colombia, in June 1983 with engine trouble and, after departing in late fall was noted aground near Bocas de Ceniza, Barranquilla, Colombia, on Dec. 15, 1983. The ship was refloated and was reported to have sailed from Cartagena, without cargo, on June 2, 1984.

Stecarika was later boarded by U.S. Coast Guard officials from the Dallas who found ship dead in the water. A subsequent search discovered the cargo holds were empty but 22,000 pounds of marijuana was found to be stashed in the bow thruster room. The crew was taken into custody for possession with intent to traffic and the vessel was brought to San Juan, Puerto Rico, and also placed under arrest.

While the sailors were convicted of the charges, I am not aware what became of the former Clara Clausen whose future turned dramatically with a grounding in the St. Lawrence 47 years ago today.

Skip Gillham


Today in Great Lakes History -  November 12

In 1920, FRANCIS WIDLAR stranded on Pancake Shoal in Lake Superior and was written off as a total constructive loss of $327,700. The wreck was purchased by Mathews Steamship Company in 1921 and placed back in service as BAYTON. The BAYTON sailed until 1966, and the hull was later used as a temporary breakwall during construction at Burns Harbor, Indiana.

On 12 November 1878, JAMES R. BENTLEY (3-mast wooden schooner, 170 foot, 575 tons, built in 1867, at Fairport, Ohio) was carrying grain when she struck a shoal in heavy weather and foundered off 40 Mile Point on Lake Huron. Her crew was rescued in the rough seas by the bark ERASTUS CORNING.

On 12 Nov 1964, THOMAS F. COLE (steel propeller bulk freighter, 580 foot, 7,268 gross tons, built in 1907, at Ecorse, Michigan) collided with the British motor vessel INVEREWE off the south end of Pipe Island on the lower St. Marys River in foggy conditions. The COLE suffered severe damage to the port bow and was taken to Lorain for repairs.

On 12 Nov 1980, ALVA C. DINKEY (steel propeller bulk freighter, 580 foot, 7,514 gross tons, built in 1909, at Lorain, Ohio) and GOVERNOR MILLER (steel propeller bulk freighter, 593 foot, 8,240 gross tons, built in 1938, at Lorain, Ohio) arrived near El Ferrol del Caudillo, Spain for scrapping in tow of the FedNav tug CATHY B. Demolition by Miguel Partins began on 28 Nov 1980, at Vigo, Spain.

On November 12, 1919, PANAY, upbound on Lake Superior for Duluth, Minnesota, in rough weather, was one of the last vessels to see the down bound JOHN OWEN which, apparently later the same day, disappeared with all hands. Renamed b.) WILLIAM NELSON in 1928, and c.) BEN E. TATE in 1936. Scrapped at Bilbao, Spain in 1969.

On 12 November 1881, BRUNSWICK (iron propeller bulk freighter, 248 foot, built in 1881, at Wyandotte, Michigan) was carrying 1,500 tons of hard coal in a night of fitful squalls in Lake Erie. CARLINGFORD (wooden schooner, 155 foot, built in 1869, at Port Huron, Michigan) was also sailing there, loaded with 26,000 bushels of wheat. They collided. After the skipper of BRUNSWICK made sure that the sinking schooner's crew were in their lifeboats, he ran for shore with his sinking vessel, but sank a few miles off Dunkirk, New York. A total of 4 lives were lost.

On 12 November 1835, the small wooden schooner ROBERT BRUCE was sailing from Kingston, Ontario to Howell, New York when she was wrecked west of Henderson, New York. Her crew of 4, plus one passenger, were all lost.

On 12 Nov 1886, the tug WM L. PROCTOR (wooden tug, 104 foot, 117 gross tons, built in 1883, at Buffalo, New York) left Oswego, New York with the schooner-barges BOLIVIA and E.C. BUCK in tow before a big storm struck. During the snowstorm, the tug got lost and the towline broke. Alone, the PROCTOR finally made it to Charlotte, New York, badly iced up, but there was no word on the barges. They were presumed lost with all onboard.

1881: BRUNSWICK sank in Lake Erie after a collision with the CARLINGFORD. The wooden hulled, coal-laden steamer, made a run for the American shore but the effort fell short. Three lives were lost.

1914: The wooden steamer COLONIAL began to leak on Lake Erie and was beached in Rondeau Bay only to be pounded to pieces by gale force winds. All on board were rescued.

1967: The Swedish freighter TORSHOLM began visiting the Great Lakes as early as 1953. The ship was enroute from the Seaway to Stockholm when it ran aground near Uto, Sweden, and became a total loss.

1968: CLARA CLAUSEN, a Danish freighter, ran aground at Les Escoumins on the St. Lawrence and was abandoned. After being salvaged, the vessel came to the Great Lakes in 1970 and was rebuilt at Kingston as ATLANTEAN.

1974: BELVOIR (ii), enroute from Puerto Cortes, Honduras, to Corpus Christi, Texas, with a load of ore concentrates, struck a submerged object in the Gulf of Honduras and sank. Only 4 crew members are rescued while the other 21 were presumed lost.

1980: The former Lake Michigan rail car ferry PERE MARQUETTE 21 left the Great Lakes in 1974. It was lost on this date as the barge d) CONSOLIDATOR. It was hit by Hurricane Jean off the coast of Honduras while carrying a load of truck trailers.

2005: SPAN TERZA, an Italian freighter, first came through the Seaway in 1977 and returned as b) ANANGEL HORIZON in 1983. It was damaged on this date as d) SALAM 4 in a collision near Dondra Head, Sri Lanka, with SHANGHAI PRIDE and had to go to Colombo for assessment. The ship was repaired and eventually scrapped as e) ALINA at Xinhui, China, in 2009.

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


U.S.-flag lakers’ cargo down almost 14 percent in October

11/11 - Cleveland, Ohio – U.S.-flag Great Lakes freighters carried 9.7 million tons of cargo in October, a decrease of 13.7 percent compared to a year ago, and a decrease of 0.6 percent compared to the month’s long-term average.

Iron ore cargos decreased 21.8 percent compared to a year ago. Coal cargos decreased 7 percent. Limestone loadings dipped a little more than 1 percent.

Year-to-date U.S.-flag cargos total 71.9 million tons, an increase of 0.9 percent compared to the same point in 2014, but a decrease of 1.3 percent compared to the long-term average for the January-October timeframe.

Iron ore cargos have decreased 6.3 percent compared to a year ago. Coal shipments are up 6.5 percent. Limestone loadings have increased 10 percent.

Lake Carriers’ Association


Fall storm: 12 to 20-foot waves in the forecast

11/11 - The National Weather Service has issued the following storm information: Fall Storm to impact Michigan Wednesday Night through Friday

• Long stretch of strong winds with the strongest occurring on Thursday
• Wind gusts of 45+ mph inland and around 60 mph at the lakeshore
• High risk for downed tree limbs and power outages
• Waves on Lake Michigan will reach the 12- to 20-foot range
• Beach and dune erosion expected with lakeshore flooding in spots
• Avoid piers on Lake Michigan as water pushing over them will cause life threatening conditions

Ludington Daily News


Advances in technology make Great Lakes safer for ships

11/11 - Detroit, Mich. – In the 40 years since the Edmund Fitzgerald sank to the bottom of Lake Superior with 29 crew members aboard, advances in technology and weather forecasting have made shipping on the Great Lakes monumentally safer, say maritime experts, investigators and historians.

State-of-the-art radar tracks water depth and GPS systems are so sophisticated, even a person on shore can track a vessel with a smartphone or iPad. The wizardry of today’s weather forecasting lets ship personnel know the conditions they are facing days out.

Just ask Brad Newland, the captain of the 1,000-foot James R. Barker of the Interlake Steamship Company based near Cleveland.

“We have an incredible array of electronics up here that would just stagger (Fitzgerald Captain Ernest) McSorley,” said Newland, who was aboard his ship recently on a trip from Duluth, Minnesota, to St. Clair to load and unload coal. “To come up here and look at the tools that I have...he didn’t. He literally had an empty pilot house versus what I have. He had his eyes. He had radar that didn’t work.”

“I know where I am every second of the day. I have three GPS units. He didn’t have any,” Newland continued. “Back in those days, it was just your eyes.”

Jim Scheffer, the chief of the National Transportation Safety Board’s product development division who once headed the investigative section of the agency, agreed.

“There has been, generally speaking, safety improvements in areas pertaining to the whole maritime industry internationally and domestically,” Scheffer said. “There are still very few cases today of where you have a complete loss of a vessel.”

Theories on ship’s sinking

No one really knows why the S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald sank, but there are several theories. Among them:

• The official Coast Guard board of inquiry came to the conclusion that the Edmund Fitzgerald sank as a result of “massive flooding of the cargo hold,” saying that this likely resulted from “ineffective hatch closure.”

• Perhaps the most widely accepted of the several theories about the loss of the Fitzgerald is that the ship crossed Caribou Island’s Six-Fathom Shoal, with water as shallow as 26 feet. This contact or a near miss would damage the hull and allow water to begin accumulating inside the affected ballast tanks. Within a few minutes of passing the shoal, the Fitz’s Captain Ernest McSorley reported a starboard list, missing vents and a fence rail down.

• Another explanation is that the Fitzgerald suffered a stress fracture and broke apart on the surface from the effects of heavy seas twisting and flexing the hull in hurricane-force winds.

As a result of the Fitzgerald tragedy, Coast Guard officials now mandate more rigorous inspections inside and outside vessels and the use of depths finders. Survival suits and life rafts must be stocked on board.

Rick Minnick, an investigator with the Coast Guard’s Marine Safety Unit in Toledo, said subsequent technological advancements, such as bilge alarms to warn if the engine rooms or cargo holds are flooding, are on all the navigation systems on board freighters.

“Their pilot houses are like a jet, you could say, compared to what it was like back then,” Minnick said. “They have electronic navigation. They have radars that track their position. The charts that they use are more updated as far as depth of water.”

Minnick said that although there appear to be fewer freighter disasters, weather can still present grave danger as it did last month when the El Faro cargo ship went down in Hurricane Joaquin off the coast of Florida.

“In my personal and professional opinion, things have improved to prevent accidents like the Fitzgerald from happening,” he said. “Of course, they are still going to happen just like with the El Faro, but they were also going through the middle of a very strong hurricane. It just goes to show you whether its 1975 or 2015, Mother Nature, I guess, still plays a role in the fate of these vessels.”

Still, when it comes to weather forecasting, shipping companies have everything at their disposal to see prohibitive weather coming several days in advance.

And that’s in part thanks to David Schwab, a longtime Great Lakes oceanographer and current research scientist at the University of Michigan’s Water Center, who helped develop a system that provides detailed forecasting maps on the lakes up to 10 days in advance.

A 2006 study he helped author on the weather conditions when the Fitzgerald went down had wind gusts of hurricane force at 70 mph and waves higher than 25 feet. “We showed that the Fitzgerald was in the worst possible place at the worst possible time,” Schwab said.“In 1975, the National Weather Service computer models for weather forecasting were stone age compared to what they can do now,” Schwab said. “So back then, they probably would be able to forecast how strong the winds would be in front of the storm and behind the storm but very little on the details of how fast the winds would be moving.”

Today, the technology can predict specific wind speeds and wave heights almost every hour, he said, and this technology is being used everyday on the Great Lakes. “I can’t say if they will go out or not,” Schwab said of freighters going out into storms, “but what I can tell you is that they will have extremely accurate forecasts of what conditions they will encounter.”

Mark Barker, the president of Interlake Steamship Company, said crucial to keeping ships safe is “operating them in the right conditions” and not taking chances beyond “your capability.”

“We always learn. This is an industry that doesn’t say, that happened, don’t talk about it,” Barker said. “Any incident we’ve ever had we learn from that. It’s unfortunate that sometimes you have to learn from tragedy. And that’s in the case of the Fitz...we did.”

Barker agrees that the weather that doomed the Fitzgerald would be avoided today with the state-of-the-art weather forecasting that didn’t exist went the ship went down.

“The weather, we understand it, and you end up putting the ships to anchor more than not,” Barker said. “At the end of the day, we’ve got to get there but we’ve got to do it safely. Safety is of utmost importance.”

The Detroit News


Port Reports -  November 11

Port Inland, Mich. – Denny Dushane
Manitowoc arrived at Port Inland to load on Monday during the late morning. Wilfred Sykes was also expected to arrive at Port Inland on Monday in the early evening. Mississagi is expected to arrive on Wednesday in the late afternoon.

Cedarville, Mich. – Denny Dushane
Wilfred Sykes was expected to arrive at Cedarville on Monday during the early morning. They were expected to be followed at noon by the barge Pathfinder and tug Dorothy Ann. Frontenac makes a very rare cal,l arriving at Cedarville on Tuesday in the late evening.

Calcite, Mich. – Denny Dushane
There were no vessels loading or scheduled into Calcite on Tuesday. Due in on Wednesday will be the American Courage in the early morning for the North Dock. No vessels are due in on Thursday. Due in for Friday in the morning will be the American Mariner loading at the South Dock. For Saturday there are three vessels expected to arrive with the John G. Munson due in first in the late morning for the North Dock. Two early evening arrivals also on Saturday brings the Sam Laud first for the South Dock followed a bit later by the barge Pathfinder and the tug Dorothy Ann also for the South Dock.

Stoneport, Mich. – Denny Dushane
Manistee loaded at Stoneport on Tuesday and they were due to depart around 8:30 p.m. Three vessels are due at Stoneport on Wednesday with the Herbert C. Jackson due in first at noon followed by the Lewis J. Kuber in the mid-afternoon with the tug Olive L. Moore. Algosteel is also due on Wednesday in the late evening. Two vessels are due for Thursday with the John G. Munson arriving in the early morning followed later during the late morning by the Great Republic. On Friday another two vessels are due with the Algorail in the late afternoon and the Lewis J. Kuber due back again in the late evening.

Toledo, Ohio – Denny Dushane
CSL Laurentien arrived in Toledo early on Tuesday morning to unload a cargo of iron ore pellets at the Torco Dock. They departed in the early afternoon on Tuesday. Calumet is also due at Torco with no ETAs given. The James L. Kuber is due at Torco on November 16 just after midnight and two vessels are due at Torco both on November 22 in the late evening with the Rt. Hon. Paul J. Martin and the James L. Kuber arriving to unload. Vessels due at the Midwest Terminal Stone Dock with cargoes of limestone include the Frontenac on Wednesday at noon followed by the Robert S. Pierson on Saturday in the early evening. Due to load coal at the CSX Coal Dock is the Algosoo and the James L. Kuber both expected to arrive on November 18 in the late evening. The barge Ashtabula along with the tug Defiance are due on November 19 in the late evening followed by the Algowood on November 21 in the early evening. Arriving on Monday was the St. Clair at the CSX #2 Dock for Winter lay-up. They are the first vessel to officially arrive for lay-up for 2015/16. The American Valor along with the barge Sarah Spencer and tug Jane Ann IV are all laid-up in the Frog Pond area near the Lakefront Docks. The tug Paul L. Luedtke was working in Lake Erie off of Toledo. In port was the tug Mississippi along with the Algosea at the Ironhead drydock. The salty Federal Leda continued to load grain upriver at one of the elevators.

Buffalo, N.Y.
American Mariner was unloading at General Mills Tuesday night.


Edmund Fitzgerald tragedy casts long shadow

11/11 - Whitefish Point, Mich. – The SS Edmund Fitzgerald wasn’t the deadliest shipwreck on the Great Lakes, didn’t occur during the worst storm and wasn’t shrouded in the biggest mystery. But it’s the one we remember.

And the crew’s families remember better than most. They lost fathers. They lost sons. And they never got a chance to say good-bye. Even after 40 years, the tragedy hasn’t lessened its grip on their hearts.

John O’Brien was 17 when his father, Red, died aboard the ship Nov. 10, 1975. “Anyone who loses their dad at that age knows that’s a big hole,” he said last week, growing emotional. “No one could ever fill it.”

Tuesday marked the 40th anniversary of the day the ship, traveling from Wisconsin to Detroit, disappeared in a storm on Lake Superior. The next day, sonar from a search plane spotted the freighter on the bottom of the lake. All 29 men aboard perished.

One doesn’t have to be a sailor or Midwesterner to know about Big Fitz. Its story is known far from the shores of the Great Lakes. It’s sinking launched a dozen books. The Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum in Whitefish Point in the Upper Peninsula draws curious visitors from all over the country.

“I find it amazing. The interest in the shipwreck never seems to wane,” said Bruce Lynn, museum executive director.

Much of the interest comes from a 1976 song, “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” a Top 10 hit that radio often replays this time of the year. It’s bolstered by a mystery. After four decades, experts still don’t agree on why the ship sank. But the families didn’t need a pop song to learn about the tragedy. Their lives were defined by it. All it takes for them to remember is a stiff wind in November.

At one time, the Fitzgerald was the largest ship on the Great Lakes and, though it lost that title, it still set records year after year for carrying more cargo than other freighters. The trip that began Nov. 9, 1975, was a routine run, one the Fitzgerald had done many times in 17 years. The laker was lugging 26,100 tons of iron ore pellets from Superior, Wisconsin, to a steel mill on Zug Island.

The trip came near the end of the shipping season, when the weather could turn dicey. But the sailors weren’t worried. The ship’s advanced technology and sheer size were more than a match for the elements, the crewmen told relatives.

Porter Nolan Church joked the Great Lakes didn’t have a hole big enough for the 729-foot Fitz to fall into, said his son, Rick. “He just never thought anything like that could ever happen,” Church said.

Nolan Church, 55, didn’t become a sailor until his 40s. Watching freighters pass his home in Silver Bay, Minnesota, he thought it might be a fun job, said his children. And he turned out to be right, they said. He loved his time on the water.

By contrast, Bob Rafferty had grown weary of the life. After 30 years, he stopped sailing full time and just filled in for others, said his daughter, Pam Johnson.

The Fitzgerald’s cook was on vacation and his replacement, who had an ulcer, decided just before the fateful journey that he wasn’t healthy enough to make it, Johnson said. That left Rafferty, 62, a jovial bear of a man from Toledo who loved to cook.

Johnson has reconciled with the series of circumstances that placed her dad on the ship. “I believe in a higher power,” she said. “God just needed my dad home more than I did.”

When the Fitzgerald left the city of Superior, just south of Duluth, Minnesota, on the afternoon of Nov. 9, the forecast wasn’t unusual. A storm was supposed to pass south of Lake Superior. The Fitzgerald hugged the northern coast but the storm moved north as well, according to a Coast Guard investigation.

Conditions worsened until the following afternoon, when the waves grew to 30 feet and gusts up to 96 mph. At 3:30 p.m. the Fitz lost a fence railing and two vent covers, according to the investigation. The listing ship was taking on water that two bilge pumps tried to discharge. Forty minutes later, the ship lost both radars, according to books about the wreck. It was sailing blind.

“The Fitz was out of options,” said a 2005 book by Michael Schumacher, “Mighty Fitz: The Sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald.” “It rode perilously low in the water, helpless against the relentless onslaught of the storm,” Schumacher wrote.

The ship slowed so the Arthur M. Anderson, a freighter following behind, could get close enough to provide direction, said the book. The Anderson spotted the Fitzgerald on its radar and directed it toward Whitefish Point.

At 7:10 p.m., Fitzgerald Capt. Ernest McSorley told the Anderson, “We are holding our own,” according to the Coast Guard investigation. Ten minutes later, the Anderson lost sight of the Fitzgerald when it sailed into a snow squall. When the squall lifted, the Fitz was gone.

In Moquah, Wisconsin, a neighbor told Lorraine Wilhelm the 10 o’clock news had said something about the Fitzgerald being missing. Wilhelm’s husband, Blaine, 52, was an oiler on the ship. Wilhelm turned on the TV but had to wait for the end of a high school hockey game before the news came on, said her daughter, Heidi Brabon of Portage, Michigan.

“I remember being so scared,” said Brabon, who was 12 at the time. Her mother was on the phone most of the night, trying to find someone who knew something.

Like other crew families, the Wilhelms held out hope against hope that their loved one had survived. Maybe he had swum to safety. Maybe the ship had been knocked ashore. Maybe he had been plucked from the water by the Coast Guard, and was now drying off on its ship.

After getting the grim news, the family didn’t tell Brabon’s sister, who was about to give birth. The baby was born four days after Wilhelm’s death.

None of the sailors’ bodies was ever recovered from the wreck.

Among them was Oliver “Buck” Champeau, 41, a third assistant engineer from Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. At 13, Champeau had quit school to help raise his four brothers and sisters after their father died. Years later, when his brother Jack prepared to fight in Vietnam, Buck came to his bedroom the night before the deployment.

Buck also had fought in a war, in Korea. His stocky, muscled frame had a Marine Corps tattoo on his left forearm. Buck promised that, if anything happened to Jack overseas, he would come get him. It’s part of the Soldier’s Creed. More than that, it was a fraternal compact.

After the Fitzgerald shipwreck, Jack wanted to do the same thing. He wanted to bring his brother home. But officials decided against the herculean task of retrieving the bodies.

“It still has a significant effect on our lives,” Champeau said about the tragedy.

The failure to recover his brother’s body gnawed at Champeau until 1995 when, with the crew families’ blessing, the Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society retrieved the bell from the sunken ship. In lieu of his brother, the presence of the 200-pound, bronze bell helped give Champeau some closure.

The families of the crew sometimes get together to mark anniversaries or special events related to the ship. In 1999, the shipwreck site was consecrated during a ceremony on Lake Superior attended by a dozen families.

Among the attendees was Bruce Kalmon, whose father, Al, was second cook. “That was my dad. He was the only one I had, and I’m sorry he’s gone,” said Kalmon, who was 11 in 1975. He scrawled a message on the side of a rock and, standing in a Coast Guard cutter, dropped it to his father 530 feet below.

Returning to Detroit, the cutter was passing through the Soo Locks between Lake Superior and Lake Huron when it was joined by another ship.

The crew of the freighter, looming high above the families, were all waving. In a twist of fate, it was the Arthur M. Anderson.

At first, families of the crew hated “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.” They resented that Canadian troubadour Gordon Lightfoot was profiting from their loss. But many have changed their mind. They like that the song, which has sold a million copies in the U.S., has kept the sailors’ memory alive.

Marilynn Peterson, a daughter of Nolan Church, said she was heartened the song will help her children and children’s children learn about him. “It’s part of history,” she said. “My grandkids will learn about him although they never met him.”

Preparing for her mother’s funeral in 1993, Peterson and two sisters were on their way to a florist in Two Harbors, Minnesota, when the song came on the car radio. The women began to cry. Peterson said it was like receiving a message from their dad that their mom was now with him.

Through the years, a number of theories have been posed about what caused the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald:

• Faulty hatch covers: As waves washed over the deck, water streamed into the cargo hold, pushing iron ore pellets toward the bow, which caused the rollicking ship to nose-dive. In its investigation, the Coast Guard listed this as the probable cause of the wreck.

• Shoals: The Lake Carriers Association, a trade group, believed the ship ran over shoals while hugging the Canadian coast to avoid the storm. The shoals punctured the ship, which caused it to slowly begin sinking as it sailed into the brunt of a storm.

• Rogue wave: Some authors who have written about the wreck believe the ship was struck by a quick succession of three larger-than-normal waves, which overloaded the deck with tons of water.

The Detroit News


Scientists confirm Lake Superior rogue waves

11/11 - Madison, Wis. – Scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have confirmed the phenomenon of rogue waves on Lake Superior — waves double the size of others at the same time and which have been named as a potential cause of the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.

Professor Chin Wu and research assistant Josh Anderson are studying rogue waves in the Apostle Islands area where they observed waves as high as 17.7 feet when the other waves at the time averaged only 8.9 feet.

The big waves, sometimes called freak or killer waves, tend to occur unexpectedly and with huge force that makes them especially dangerous.

Although the study is still in progress, preliminary results show an increase in the probability for rogue waves near reflecting walls — such as a shoreline cliff.

Wind speed and direction and currents are likely other factors, the researchers note. And they say one rogue wave probably means another is not far behind.

"They group together during certain wave conditions," Anderson told Wisconsin Sea Grant. "You might get three or four in an hour and then you won't get one for the rest of the day."

Great Lakes mariners and others have speculated that a group of three rogue waves — the so-called "three sisters'' phenomenon — may be a factor in the sinking of the Fitzgerald in a storm near Whitefish Point, Mich., 40 years ago Tuesday.

Captain Jesse B. "Bernie" Cooper of the Arthur M. Anderson, the laker closest to the Fitzgerald at the time it sank, reported that his ship was hit by massive waves not long before he lost contact with the Fitzgerald that went down with all 29 crew members.

In the book "Shipwrecks of Lake Superior," Cooper said of the unusually large waves that "we took two of the largest seas of the trip. The first one flooded our boat deck. It had enough force to come down on the starboard lifeboat, pushing it into the saddles with a force strong enough to damage the bottom of the lifeboat. ... The second large sea put green water (the powerful center of a wave) on our bridge deck! This is 35 feet above the waterline."

Some have speculated that the rogue waves may have been the last straw for the Fitzgerald that was already taking on water and listing.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, rogue waves have been part of marine folklore for centuries but have only been recently accepted as a real phenomenon by scientists. Most reports of extreme storm waves say they look like "walls of water." They are often steep-sided with unusually deep troughs.

The big waves often form because swells, while traveling across the ocean, do so at different speeds and directions. As these swells pass through one another, their crests, troughs and lengths sometimes coincide and reinforce each other. This process can form unusually large, towering waves that quickly disappear. If the swells are traveling in the same direction, these mountainous waves may last for several minutes before subsiding.

Another cause is a "focusing" of wave energy. When waves formed by a storm develop in a water current against the normal wave direction, an interaction can take place which results in a shortening of the wave frequency. This can cause the waves to dynamically join together, forming very big rogue waves.

Wu and Anderson deployed wave and current-measuring instruments throughout the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. They examined the data for rogue wave patterns, looking at three possible causes — refraction on shoals, diffraction around islands and reflection off the sandstone bluffs so prevalent in the Lake Superior region. The largest rogue wave they observed at the sea caves area was 12.8 feet when the other waves around it were 6.1 feet.

Although the rogue waves observed in the Apostles aren't nearly as large as the offshore ones that hit the Anderson and may have doomed the Fitzgerald, "they're still dangerous to kayakers or sailboaters," said Anderson. "Waves are hazardous and we still don't know everything about them, so we're doing this research for public safety and to understand them better."

Wu and Anderson developed a computer model to calculate 35 years of waves on Lake Superior and found "the overall wave climate has been increasing on Lake Superior due to less ice cover and stronger winds in the winter, which generates larger waves," Anderson said.

Duluth News Tribune


Lookback #724 – Former Catherine Sartori caught fire at Palermo, Italy, on Nov. 11, 1980

The West German freighter Catherine Sartori caught fire and burned as g) Dinie S. on Nov. 11, 1980. The ship had arrived at Palermo, Italy, on Oct. 30, and the blaze resulted in the vessel being declared a total loss.

Catherine Sartori had been a frequent Great Lakes trader. The 258 foot long freighter was built at Rendsburg, Germany, in 1954 and traveled into the Great Lakes, via the pre-Seaway canals for Sartori & Burger, before the year was out.

The vessel was lengthened to 297'6” by the time it began Seaway service in 1959. The ship made three trips inland that year and had a total of 27 visits to the Great Lakes into the 1967 season. It made history at Port Arthur on May 12, 1962, when it was the first ship to use the new $8.5 million Seaway Terminal there.

Late in 1967, this ship was sold to Van Vliet, Goudriaan & Co. and registered in the Netherlands as b) Cursa. It was back on the lakes that year before freeze-up.

Beginning in 1970 this vessel sailed as c) Michris and then d) Dionyssos in 1973. e) Venture Sea in 1974, f) Elinico and then g) Dinie S. in 1980. The last two names came with Greek registry while the previous three were under the flag of Cyprus.

Dinie S. was badly burned in the fire of 35 years ago today. The vessel was sold for scrap only to be arrested on April 15, 1981. This delayed demolition but, when the case was resolved, the former Seaway trader was broken up at Palermo in 1985.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  November 11

Lay-up list updated


Today in Great Lakes History -  November 11

The Port of Huron, Ohio received its first grain boat in seven years when Westdale Shipping's AVONDALE arrived at the Pillsbury Elevator on November 11, 1971, to load 200,000 bushels of soybeans for Toronto, Ontario.

On 11 November 1883, NEMESIS (2-mast wooden schooner, 74 foot, 82 gross tons, built in 1868, at Goderich, Ontario) was wrecked in a terrific storm that some called a hurricane. She went ashore near Bayfield, Ontario, on Lake Huron. She may have been recovered since her registration was not closed until 1907. In 1876, this little schooner rescued all but one of the crew from the sinking freighter NEW YORK.

The Armistice Day Storm of November 11, 1940, was one of the worst storms in the recorded history of Lake Michigan. In all, the storm claimed 5 vessels, and 66 lives. The storm hit late Monday afternoon, November 11th, with winds of hurricane proportions. The winds struck suddenly from the southwest at about 2:30 p.m. and were accompanied by drenching rain, which later changed to snow. The winds reached peak velocities of 75 miles per hour, the highest in local maritime history.

Some of the vessels affected were: CITY OF FLINT 32: Beached at Ludington, no damage. Jens Vevang, relief captain, in command. Her regular captain, Charles Robertson, was on shore leave. Also: PERE MARQUETTE 21: Blown into a piling at Ludington, no damage, captained by Arthur Altschwager. She had 5 passengers aboard. CITY OF SAGINAW 31: Arrived Milwaukee 6 hours late with over a foot of water in her hull. The wireless aerial was missing and her seagate was smashed by the waves. She was captained by Ed Cronberg. Ann Arbor carferry WABASH: A railcar broke loose from its moorings on her car deck and rolled over, nearly crushing a crewman. The steamer NOVADOC: Ran aground at Juniper Beach, South of Pentwater, Michigan. Two crewman (cooks) drowned when the ship broke in half. Seventeen crewman, found huddled in the pilothouse, were rescued by Captain Clyde Cross and his 2 crewman, Gustave Fisher and Joe Fontane of the fishing tug THREE BROTHERS. CONNEAUT of 1916, ran hard aground on Lansing Shoal near Manistique, Michigan, on Lake Michigan. She reportedly had lost her propeller and rudder. Two days later she was pulled off. The SINALOA had taken on a load of sand near Green Island and was heading for Chicago through Death's Door on Wisconsin's Door Peninsula when the November 11th Armistice Day storm of 1940, struck in upper Lake Michigan. During the storm the SINALOA lost her rudder. The anchor was dropped but her anchor cable parted. In this helpless condition she ran aground at Sac Bay on Michigan's Garden Peninsula. Fortunately the stricken vessel was close to shore where the Coast Guard was able to rescue the entire crew. Declared a constructive total loss, her owner collected the insurance and forfeited the vessel to the Roen Salvage Co.

ANNA C MINCH: Sank South of Pentwater with a loss of 24 lives.

WILLIAM B DAVOCK: of the Interlake fleet, Capt. Charles W. Allen, sank in 215 of water off Pentwater, Michigan. There were no survivors among the crew of 33.

The fishing tugs INDIAN and RICHARD H: Lost with all hands off South Haven, Michigan.

On 11 November 1872, the schooner WILLIS collided with the bark ELIZABETH JONES on Lake Erie and sank in a few minutes. The crew was saved.

On 11 November 1936, J. OSWALD BOYD (steel propeller fuel tanker, 244 foot, 1,806 gross tons, built in 1913, in Scotland) was carrying 900,000 gallons of gasoline when she stranded on Simmons Reef on the north side of Beaver Island. The U.S. Coast Guard from Beaver Island rescued the entire crew of 20.

On 11 November 1890, BRUNO (wooden propeller bulk freighter, 136 foot. 475 gross tons, built in 1863, at Montreal) was carrying coal to Cleveland with the schooner LOUISA in tow when she struck Magnetic Reef, south of Cockburn Island in Georgian Bay and sank in rough weather. No lives were lost.

On 11 November 1835, the 2-mast wooden schooner COMET was carrying iron and ashes on Lake Erie when she foundered in a gale, one mile northwest of Dunkirk, New York. Just her topmasts protruded from the water. All seven on board lost their lives, including a passenger who was a college student bound for Vermont.

In a storm on the night of 11 November 1874, The schooner LA PETITE (3-mast wooden schooner, 119 foot, 172 gross tons, built 1866, J. Ketchum, Huron, Ohio) was on Lake Michigan carrying a cargo of wheat and corn from Chicago when she sprang a bad leak and tried first to reach Ludington, then Manistee. Before reaching safety, she grounded off Big Point au Sable, eight miles from land, in eight feet of water. Previous to striking, the vessel had lost her bowsprit and foremast. After she struck, her main and mizzenmasts went by the board, and the schooner began to break up rapidly. The crew clung to the forecastle deck, and when that washed away, four men were drowned. Captain O. B. Wood had his arms broken by the falling off a square-sail yard. When he fell into the water, the ship's dog jumped in and kept him afloat until they were rescued by the crew of the steam barge CHARLES REITZ. Of the 10 crewmen, six were saved. The LA PETITE was salvaged and repaired and lasted until 1903, when she was lost in another storm.

On 11 Nov 1999, the Maltese flag bulk carrier ALCOR was examined by personnel from Transport Canada, the Canadian Coast Guard, a salvage company and the vessel's owners in hopes of forming a plan to save the vessel. She ran aground on a sand bar off the eastern tip of d'Orleans Island on the St. Lawrence River two days earlier. This vessel did not visit Great Lakes ports under the name ALCOR, but she did so under her two previous names, firstly as PATRICIA V and then as the Soviet flag MEKHANIK DREN. The Groupe Desgagnes finally refloated the ALCOR on 05 Dec 1999, after part of the cargo of clinker had been removed. The ship was then towed to Quebec City. Later, it was reported that Groupe Desgagnes purchased the ALCOR from its Greek owners.

Below is a first hand account of the Storm of 1913, from the journal of John Mc Laughlin transcribed by his great grandson Hugh McNichol. John was working on an unknown vessel during the Storm of 1913. The boat was captained by John McAlpine and Harry Roberts as Chief Engineer. The boat was loading iron ore in Escanaba when the storm started on November 8th.

Tuesday, November 11, 1913: I got up at 12 a.m. and went on watch. We were above Presque Isle. It is still blowing hard and quite a sea running. Presque Isle at 1:45 a.m., Thunder Bay Island at 4:30 a.m., Harbor Beach at 1:00 p.m., we are about in the River at 7:05 p.m. It is fine tonight, wind gone down.

1940: The famous Armistice Day storm claims the ANNA C. MINCH, WILLIAM B. DAVOCK and NOVADOC (ii), on Lake Michigan and leaves CITY OF FLINT 32 and SINALOA aground and damaged.

1946: The former Canada Steamship lines bulk canaller LANARK was scuttled off the coast of Ireland with a load of World War Two bombs.

1977: The 380-foot, 8-inch long West German freighter GLORIA made 4 visits to the Great Lakes in 1959-1960. It went aground on the Adriatic at Sestrice Island as d) ARISTOTELES. While the 25-year old hull was refloated, it was declared a total loss and towed to Split, Yugoslavia, for scrapping.

1980: The DINIE S. suffered an engineroom fire at Palermo, Italy and became a total loss. The ship had visited the Seaway as a) CATHERINE SARTORI (1959-1967) and b) CURSA (1967) and was sailing under a seventh name. It was scrapped at Palermo in 1985

1980: CITY OF LICHFIELD stranded near Antalya, Turkey, while leaving the anchorage in heavy weather as c) CITY OF LEEDS. The ship was refloated but never sailed again and was eventually scrapped at Aliaga, Turkey, in 1984. The ship had visited the Great Lakes in 1964.

1995: JAMES NORRIS was loading stone at Colborne, ON when the wind changed leaving the hull exposed to the gale. The ship was repeatedly pounded against the dock until it settled on the bottom. Subsequent hull repairs at Port Weller Dry Docks resulted in the port side being all welded while the starboard remained riveted.

1995: The Cuban freighter AREITO had a mechanical problem in the St. Lambert Lock and had to be towed back to Montreal for repairs. This SD-14 class vessel was scrapped at Alang, India, as e) DUNLIN in 2001.

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


Wreck of the Hydrus, lost in 1913 storm, discovered in Lake Huron

11/10 - A Metro Detroit shipwreck diver announced this week the discovery of a Great Lakes iron ore freighter lost on Lake Huron during the famous Great White Hurricane of 1913. Using side-scan sonar, David Trotter and a team of shipwreck sleuths this summer found the Hydrus, a steam-driven freighter that eluded discovery for 102 years.

The 416-foot long, 4,700-ton ship was discovered sitting upright on the bottom and identified by a sign bearing the ship's name found inside the engine room.

Trotter, who has been hunting Great Lakes shipwrecks for 40 years, is holding onto the exact location of the wreck for now. The ship was thought to be lost off Sanilac County, but Trotter would only say its 32 miles offshore, mid-lake, in deep water. "We've got some work to do on it yet," he said.

The Hydrus sank while making for shelter on the St. Clair River during a hurricane-force blizzard that battered the region between Nov. 7 and 11. Twenty-two crewmen died on board, and another five died in a lifeboat.

The epic storm is considered the deadliest natural disaster to ever hit the Great Lakes. Periodic lulls in the storm deceived captains into venturing from sheltered berths. More than 250 sailors died and 19 ships were lost, 12 with all hands. Wave gusts to 90 mph and 35-foot waves were reported on Lake Huron.

"The storm of '13 is absolutely the most horrific storm to ever hit the lakes," said Trotter, a retired Ford Credit executive who has searched more than 2,500 square miles of Lake Huron in his 32-foot dive boat, the Obsession II.

When Trotter's team found the wreck in July, it was sitting upright on the bottom facing west. The ship was downbound (steaming south) with a load of iron ore. The port side anchor, stern ventilation shafts and stern skylights are missing.

The crushed smokestack is lying next to the ship, on the starboard side. The missing anchor "says a lot," said Trotter.

In the Great Lakes, captains cannot let a storm push a vessel around indefinitely. At some point, ships must maneuver in order to avoid being run aground. Trotter surmised the Hydrus was caught in a wave trough and the captain dropped the anchor in a bid to swing the ship back into the storm and take seas over the bow.

The wreck is facing west, indicating the turn may have been successful. But at some point, the chain broke. Given the beating and likely flooding coming in from the open stern vents, the ship's crew was unable to keep the boilers stoked. Once the engine went out, "the demise of the ship is pretty much in the cards."

"I can picture the crew furiously trying to throw coal on the boilers to keep the engine running," Trotter said. "Eventually, they just can't outrun the water coming in."

At least one lifeboat was launched, but the crew inside had no hope. They were found frozen on the Canadian shoreline after the storm. Because there were no survivors and ship-to-shore communication of the time was primitive, it was hard to know exactly when the Hydrus went down. The peak of the storm was the evening of Nov. 9. That's when Trotter thinks the ship was lost.

The Hydrus was of fairly common freighter design of the time. The ship was built as the R.E. Schuck in 1903 by American Shipbuilding Co. of Ohio for Gilchrist Transportation of Cleveland. The Interlake Steamship Company was owner at the time she sank.

Other ships lost in the "meteorological bomb" include the Henry B. Smith, discovered in 2013 in Lake Superior. In 1985, Trotter discovered the John A. McGean, another victim of the storm, which sank in Lake Huron killing 22 men.

The Hydrus is the last ship sunk on the U.S. side of Lake Huron during the storm to be discovered. Others were discovered upside-down, or "turtled," on the bottom, making their inside difficult to explore. The Hydrus, by contrast, is upright.

Trotter and his team plan to go back with a remotely operated vehicle and penetrate the pilothouse. He wants to see the clock and ship gauges. There's more to learn about the storm based on details the wreck can yield.

"It would be interesting to correlate the those against the velocity of the storm during peak periods," he said. "We're not done with it."



Diver recalls record scuba descent to Edmund Fitzgerald shipwreck

11/10 - If people want to know what the Edmund Fitzgerald shipwreck looks like, there are numerous drawings, photos and models online that show the ill-fated carrier in its final resting place.

Veteran diver Terrence Tysall, however, has seen the looming hull of the famous shipwreck with his own eyes.

"It reminded me of an ice breaker cutting through large blocks of mud and clay," said Tysall, a Florida diving instructor who is one of two people to ever scuba dive the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, which sank 40 years ago on Tuesday. "I'm assuming she nosed-in pretty hard."

On Sept. 1, 1995, Tysall and fellow diver Mike Zee, of Chicago, became the first and only people to ever scuba dive the Fitzgerald. The deep-water expedition landed the two men in the technical diving history books – and in hot water with some of the lost crew members' families, who consider the wreck a gravesite.

The Fitzgerald, the best known of all Great Lakes shipwrecks, sank suddenly in a gale on Nov. 10, 1975. All 29 men aboard died, and their bodies are entombed inside the wreck, 530 feet under the surface.

Tysall called diving the ship one of the most significant accomplishments in his lengthy career, which includes more than 8,000 dives for the U.S. Navy, NASA, NOAA and other organizations. He and Zee set a record for the deepest scuba dive on the Great Lakes, and the deepest scuba dive on a shipwreck.

Prior to that, a handful of expeditions – Jacques Cousteau in 1980 among them – had involved heavy dive suits, remotely operated vehicles and submersibles. But scuba? Too deep, everyone said. Zee, a student of Tysall's, thought differently.

"We wanted to prove it could be done respectfully," Tysall said.

The two picked a date, arranged a team and drove a small pickup truck from Florida to Michigan, taking turns sleeping on the oxygen tanks in the truck bed. When they arrived in the Upper Peninsula, the weather gave them a window of one morning when the water was millpond calm for the expedition.

All told, it took about six minutes to descend and three hours to ascend from the shipwreck using a trimix gas mixture. Between that, Tysall and Zee spent a grand total of 15 minutes on the bottom with the wreck.

On the lake bed, the pair saw a hull towering above them, illuminated by heavy-duty lights they'd dropped on a camera line. The lights gave them about 60 feet of visibility on the bow area and of the iron ore scattered around the bottom. They floated up the hull side, past the words "Edmund Fitzgerald," to the pilothouse.

"Her paint is as perfect as when she went down," Tysall said. "The only time I think I've felt smaller on a wreck was when we dove some World War II wrecks in Guadalcanal."

Due to the strict dive timeframe, Tysall and Zee didn't get as much time as they would have liked to explore the shipwreck. Every minute on the bottom at that depth lengthens the time needed to decompress on the ascent. The duo had a finite amount of breathable gas mixture, and Lake Superior allows little room for error.

Just before leaving, Tysall reached out and grasped the port side rail with two neoprene-gloved hands. It was a reverent moment filled with emotion, he said. For the first time in 20 years, living hands touched the ship.

"It was a connection," he said. "It wasn't disrespect. Two people risked their lives to pay respects to those 29 men."

Afterward, the dive team visited the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum at Whitefish Point. They planned on a full week of diving, but the weather closed in. The one dive was all that Mother Nature allowed.

Family members who were already pushing the Canadian government for a ban on expeditions to the wreck criticized Tysall and Zee in the weeks following the dive. A few months prior, the ship's bell had been recovered during an expedition blessed by family members who wanted a tangible, symbolic memorial on land.

In 1994, an expedition led by Fred Shannon captured video of a preserved body on the wreck. Shannon's intent to distribute the image sparked outrage and, eventually, a legislative ban on photography of corpses on Michigan bottomlands.

Tysall said the dive boat did not anchor to the wreck and the team went through the proper channels for a dive license required by the Ontario Heritage Act. Subsequent amendments to the act have effectively banned diving of any kind on the Edmund Fitzgerald wreck without approval by the Canadian government.

The Fitzgerald dive fueled debate over what proper respect should be shown a shipwreck, with divers and shipwreck hunters likening the expedition to visiting a cemetery and others calling it a macho stunt done in poor taste.

After their accomplishment became known, Fitzgerald family members called Tysall. They were concerned about his footage getting into the hands of tabloid TV shows. Tysall stressed the dive was not a publicity stunt and promised to hold onto the footage, which has never been released despite numerous requests.

"I think they understood the spirit of the dive after that," he said.

Tysall, a military veteran diver, said he's been a part of restricted expeditions before, including a sanctioned dive on the USS Arizona, a Navy battleship that sunk in the 1941 Japanese attack Pearl Harbor with nearly 1,000 men inside. He's helped recover bodies and has dove on sites where shipmates died, he said.

In Orlando, Tysall co-founded the Cambrian Foundation, a nonprofit group that does technical diving for scientists, archaeologists and governmental agencies. He led the team that recovered artifacts from the USS Monitor, a Civil War ironclad that sunk in 230 feet off Cape Hatteras in 1862.

In an era when people can experience so many things virtually, Tysall said he considers diving a way to maintain a physical connection with history.

"The Fitzgerald was another step in that for me," he said. "I think it was important for us to be there.



Port Reports -  November 10

Sarnia, Ont.
Two vessels with uncertain futures were in the St. Clair River Monday. The tanker Algosar departed her loading dock in the late afternoon headed for Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. This has been reported to be her last trip. And at mid-day, the Oakglen, which has been laid up for most of this season, docked at Sarnia to load grain.

Toledo, Ohio – Jim Hoffman
St. Clair arrived Monday for winter layup. She headed into the CSX #2 Dock bow first and proceeded all the way to the end of the dock. She is directly across from the Midwest Terminal Stone Dock.

Lorain, Ohio – Phil Leon
Defiance and tug Ashtabula came into port at 4:20 a.m. Monday and left around noon.

Port Colborne, Ont. – Ted Wilush
Scrapping is progressing on the former American Fortitude, with the unloading boom now removed and being cut up on the dock.

Erie, Pa. – J. Benson
Presque Isle arrived over the weekend at Mountfort Terminal for winter layup. The tug is out of the notch and separated from her barge. All the hooks are down with the stern anchor on the dock.


Great Lakes, St. Lawrence remain risky places to work

11/10 - Nov. 10 marks the 40th anniversary of the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald and the 102nd anniversary of the Great Lakes Storm of 1913. As historians and boat watchers commemorate the lives lost in these two tragic events, it should be remembered that the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River remain risky places for maritime employees to work. Weather is just one of the risks that mariners experience.

The following list is a compilation of contemporary fatal accidents that have been reported on the news page of this site. This list is by no means complete and excludes recreational diving accidents, aviation accidents, and naturally caused deaths onboard ships. It also does not include recreational boating accidents unless they involved a commercial vessel.

The education and training that today’s mariners receive, along with the modern equipment and communication gear available to them has undoubtedly reduced the number of on-the- job injuries and fatalities. But it must be remembered that even minor incidents can turn into serious situations when the nearest hospital or fire station are miles and hours away.

Additional information is available regarding most of these incidents in the Boatnerd News Archives, accessible at the bottom of this page.

• March 28, 1995: A bridge crane operator was killed at Dofasco Steel in Hamilton when the crane collapsed. The bridge crane was used to unload ships not equipped with self-unloading equipment.

• June 10, 1995: One worker was killed at Port Weller Dry Dock when a 19,000-pound plate fell.

• July 22, 1997: An 84-year old-passenger died on the car ferry Badger when the Pullman-style bunk she was sleeping in flipped up and trapped her against the wall of her cabin.

• Oct. 23, 1997: Six sailors were missing after the MV Vanessa sank 400 miles off the coast of Nova Scotia. Nine were rescued.

• Dec. 11, 1998: Three commercial fishermen were missing with the fish tug Linda E on Lake Michigan. It was later determined that the fish tug was run over and sunk by the tug Michigan and tank Barge Great Lakes.

• Sept. 22, 1999: One crewmember was killed on the Lok Maheshwari by a snapped cable while the vessel was tying up for inspection below Lock 1 at the Welland Canal.

• June 16, 2000: Two school children drowned when the glass-bottom tour boat True North II sank off Tobermory. 18 others on board were able to swim to shore.

• July 28, 2000: A crewman from John J. Boland fell overboard and drowned in the St. Marys River. The body was recovered several days later.

• November 2000: A crewmember fails to return to his ship, the Ziemia Chemielska, in Duluth. His body was recovered in the harbor the next spring and drowning was ruled the cause of death.

• Mar. 23, 2001: Two U.S. Coast Guard crewmembers died when their rigid inflatable patrol craft capsized about 3 miles off the mouth of the Niagara River in Lake Ontario. Two other crewmembers were rescued.

• Oct. 23, 2001: Two crewmembers died when the mailboat J.W. Westcott II sank in the Detroit River. Two pilots onboard were rescued by the tug Stormont.

• Nov. 23, 2001: A crewmember apparently fell overboard and drowned while boarding a tug at Bay Shipbuilding in Surgeon Bay. The Chicago-based tug was undergoing repairs at the shipyard.

• July 16, 2002: A crewman was reported missing off the salty Kent after he lost his footing and fell off the ship near Vercheres, Quebec.

• Dec. 3, 2002: A crewman fell overboard from the Scan Trader near Petite Riviere St-Francois. He was de-icing hatch covers when he lost his footing and fell overboard. Despite having Canadian Coast Guard aircraft in the immediate vicinity, the crewman was not located.

• May 6, 2003: An engineer was fatally injured while working on the hydrofoil Seaflight II in Toronto.

• Dec. 9, 2003: Three crewmen died when the heavy lift ship MV Stellamare capsized and sank in the port of Albany while loading cargo. At least 6 other crewmen were rescued from the Hudson River.

• Jan. 19, 2005: A tankerman was killed by the explosion of the tank barge EMC 423 in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal. He was apparently using an open flame to heat up a cargo offloading pump which ignited vapors from the petroleum based cargo.

• Aug. 11, 2005: A crewman on the tugboat Kurt R. Luedtke was stuck in the head by a broken cable and killed on Lake Erie, off Huron, Ohio.

• Aug. 22, 2005: Six Turkish sailors jumped from the moving MV Imbat near Champlain, Que in an apparent attempt to seek asylum in Canada. Only three men made it to shore. Two additional crewmembers had previously abandoned the ship in Sorel while it was loading.

• Oct. 2, 2005: Twenty passengers were killed when the tour boat Ethan Allen capsized on Lake George in New York. 27 other passengers and the boat’s captain survived. The passengers were part of a senior citizen tour group from Trenton, Michigan.

• Oct. 8, 2005: A charter boat captain and one of his passengers drowned after their boat capsized in a whirlpool on the lower Niagara River. Another passenger was rescued.

• June 29, 2006: A crewman from the Calumet was electrocuted on board the vessel off Cleveland. A second crewmember was injured attempting to pull his crewmate away from the power source.

• Dec. 9, 2006: A crewmember of the Nova Scota-based tall ship Picton Castle was swept overboard in a gale about 500 miles off Cape Cod.

• Mar. 13, 2007: A crane operator was killed when the crane he was operating collapsed and fell into an adjacent graving dock at Port Weller Dry Docks.

• July 27, 2007: A sailor received fatal injuries in a conveyor belt accident aboard the Algomarine near Valleyfield, Quebec.

• July 29, 2007: A swimmer was reported killed after being sucked into the propeller wash of a passing vessel near Beauharnois Locks.

• Sept. 3, 2007: The crew of the tug Cleveland and barge Cleveland Rocks discover debris lodged between the tug and barge that is later determined to be part of a missing 21 foot fishing boat. Three fishermen on the small craft were reported missing. It is unclear of the small craft was wrecked by the barge, or if the barge ran over wreckage from a prior accident or capsizing.

• Oct. 4, 2007: A passenger fell off the bow of the tour boat Keweenaw Star and was killed after being run over by the boat just west of the Houghton-Hancock lift bridge.

• Oct. 8, 2007: A crew member collapsed and fell unconscious while climbing out of a cargo hold on the Tadoussac at a dock in Essexville. He was pronounced dead at a local hospital after being removed from the hold. The ship was unloading cement clinker.

• Oct. 21, 2007: One man died when the 45 foot tug Aletha B. capsized and sank off Byng Inlet, Ontario. Three others were able to swim to an aluminum boat the tug had been towing.

• Jan. 31, 2008: Two crewmembers died when the tug Checkmate III suddenly took on water and sank near Baccalieu Island, Newfoundland. Investigators later said failure of their survival suits contributed to their deaths.

• May 24, 2008: A 38 foot power boat carrying five people crashed into a 120 foot barge in Belvidere Bay on Lake St. Clair at about 11 pm. Three died. The barge was lit with two amber construction-style lights and had been moored at the same location for several months.

• Oct. 31, 2008: A crewmember was killed on the Algoisle when a cable snapped while the vessel was loading ore in Havre St. Pierre, Que. The accident happened about 3:45 am.

• Aug. 8, 2010: A crewman on the Stewart J. Cort was fatally injured in a conveyor belt accident near the Apostle Islands in Lake Superior. Three crewmembers were doing repairs when the accident occurred.

• Oct. 20, 2010: A crewmember from the Canadian Provider was reported missing as the vessel crossed Lake Ontario. The man was last seen at 4 am and was reported missing about 1:30 pm. The Canadian and U.S. Coast Guards called off the joint search for the man after covering 3,150 square miles over 25 hours.

• Dec. 1, 2010: A worker at the BNSF taconite facility at Allouez (Superior), WI was killed by a conveyor belt accident. Several miles of conveyors are used at this facility to transport ore from the rail yards to the ship loading dock.

• Dec. 21, 2010: Sixteen crew members had to be removed from the vessel Hermann Schoening, which anchored off Port Colborne after the crew fell seriously ill from potentially fatal gas vapors. The ship loaded grain in Milwaukee and was in route to Montreal when the crew was sickened by phosphine gas. The gas was generated by rat poison pellets placed within the grain cargo. Fortunately the effects were short lived. The entire crew was able to return to the ship within a few days, after repairs were made to the ship’s ventilation system.

• June 18, 2011: A search was called off for a missing sailor from the Alaskaborg, south of Newfoundland. The ship was en route from Baie Comeau to Tilbury, UK.

• Aug. 21, 2011: A worker was killed at the Sifto salt mine at Goderich when the mine and the town were hit by a F3 level tornado. The worker, who was operating the ship loader, was the only fatality. There was also significant damage to the mine and the town. The Algoma Navigator was receiving a load of salt when the tornado struck.

• Nov. 12, 2011: A crewmember on the St. Marys Challenger was killed when he was caught in a moving conveyor belt. The ship was docked in Milwaukee and he was undertaking repairs on the conveyor.

• Jan. 13, 2012: The president of the board of directors for the museum ship City of Milwaukee apparently drowned after falling off the retired USCGC Acacia in Manistee. According to coworkers, the man went to check on the museum ships after finishing his job at a local railroad. Due to an anticipated snow storm, it was believed he decided to spend the night on the ships rather than return to his home in Muskegon. Based on footprints in the snow, it is believed he fell while trying to jump from the Acacia to the adjacent dock.

• March 28, 2012: The chief engineer of the tug Patrice McAllister died in a Toronto hospital from injuries he received the previous day when the tugboat caught fire while transiting Lake Ontario. The tug, formerly named Cleveland, had been reconditioned over the previous winter in Toledo and was en route to new owners in New York City. The chief engineer had worked on the tug for numerous years and agreed to work the delivery trip to the east coast.

• Sept. 23, 2012: A crewmember of the Umiavut was found dead in his cabin and the death was ruled a homicide. The ship was en route from Nunavut to Montreal. An investigation was conducted by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police while the ship was at anchor at Blanc Sablon, Que. No arrests were made and the vessel continued its trip to Montreal.

• Dec. 1, 2012: A man was killed in an industrial mishap aboard the Tecumseh in Toronto. The incident occurred about 2 am.

• Nov. 3, 2013: A crewmember of the tug Undaunted died in an accident aboard the barge P.M. 41 off Ludington. It apparently involved the unloading conveyor on the barge. The barge was carrying fly ash from Muskegon to Charlevoix.

• Nov. 19, 2013: A 62-year-old man was killed at the Port of Detroit Marine Terminal after a co-worker accidentally struck him with a forklift. He was guiding the driver of the forklift, who apparently lost sight of him.

• Dec. 12, 2013: The chief engineer of the MCT Altair died on the St. Lawrence Seaway at the Snell Lock following a 10-foot fall from a flight of stairs aboard the Liberian flagged vessel.

• April 4, 2014: A crane operator was killed at the U.S. Steel facility in Ecorse, Michigan. Police said the crane tipped over, ejecting the operator.

Tom Hynes


Dossin Museum offers Fitzgerald programs today, free webcast this evening

11/10 - Detroit, Mich. – Today, before this year's Lost Mariners Remembrance, visit the Dossin Great Lakes Museum and learn more about the Edmund Fitzgerald on the 40th anniversary of her loss.

• Museum docents will provide information about the William Clay Ford pilot house and what is known of the Edmund Fitzgerald and her last voyage.

• From 11 a.m. - 1:30 p.m., see a brief film covering the Edmund Fitzgerald’s launch at the Great Lakes Engineering Works in 1958, which includes images of the assembled crowd and a flotilla of small craft, as well as the “Raising of the Anchor” video produced by WDIV-TV, which documents the recovery of the anchor from the Detroit River.

• At 1:30 p.m., Pam Johnson, whose father was cook aboard the Edmund Fitzgerald when it sank, will discuss her relationship with the Fitz and with other families of those lost on board.

• Throughout the day, visit a small display of framed illustrations and photographs of the Edmund Fitzgerald from the Detroit Historical Society’s collection.

Note that the museum will close for final event setup between 4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m., when doors will reopen for the annual Lost Mariners Remembrance ceremony.

Starting at 6:20 p.m. the Lost Mariners Remembrance webcast will be streamed from the museum starting with a concert by Lee Murdock followed by a program featuring renowned marine artist Robert McGreevy tells the story of the brave lifesaving crews who patrolled the Great Lakes.

Visit for details

Detroit Historical Society


Lookback #723 – Sir William Fairbairn damaged upbound in Lake Huron on Nov. 10, 1936

The Sir William Fairbairn had just joined the Buckeye Steamship Co., after 35 years under the banner of the Pittsburgh Steamship Co. of U.S. Steel, when it was mauled by a storm on Lake Huron on Nov. 10, 1936.

The cargo was a deck load of new Packard and Chrysler cars and 62 of the vehicles were damaged in the storm of 79 years ago today. A more serious tragedy occurred 39 years later to the day when the Edmund Fitzgerald was lost with all hands on Lake Superior. Todayis the 40th anniversary of that ship's loss.

Sir William Fairbairn was built at Wyandotte, Mich., and launched on Aug. 8, 1896. Like the mighty “Fitz,” this ship was the largest on the Great Lakes when it slid into the water. At 436 feet overall, it was barely competitive by the time the Edmund Fitzgerald was launched on June 7, 1958.

In the early years, Sir William Fairbairn, was part of the Bessemer Steamship Co. and it became part of the U.S. Steel fleet when the latter was organized in 1901. It remained under their banner until a sale to the Buckeye Steamship Co. in 1936 and continued in their service until becoming a grain storage barge at Buffalo in 1959.

Following a sale to Marine Salvage and a resale to the Steel Co. of Canada, Sir William Fairbairn arrived at Port Colborne on Aug. 19, 1964, under tow of the tug America. Two other tugs, James Battle and Graeme Stewart, brought the ship to Hamilton on Sept. 26, 1964, and the hull was broken up in the months ahead.

Skip Gillham


Today in Great Lakes History -  November 10

On this day in 1892, whaleback barge 102 loaded 2,073 tons of iron ore at Superior consigned to Cleveland. This was the first shipment of Mesabi Range iron ore carried by Oglebay Norton.

On 10 November 1901, the ROBERT A. PACKER (wooden freighter, 209 foot, 921 tons, built in 1882, at Milwaukee, Wisconsin) was found by the wrecking tug RUMBLE eleven miles north of off De Tour, Michigan, ablaze and abandoned by her crew. Captain Isaac Zess of the RUMBLE fought the flames for four hours and then was helped by the THOMAS W. PALMER. The fire was speedily extinguished with both vessels pouring water on the flames and the PACKER was tied up at the dock in DeTour, Michigan.

On 10 November 1887, A. BOODY (wooden schooner, 137 foot, 287 gross tons, built in 1863, at Toledo, Ohio) struck the Port Austin reef on Lake Huron and was declared a total loss. However, after ten days of hard work, the BOODY was finally pulled off the reef.

The EDMUND FITZGERALD foundered on Lake Superior during a severe storm November 10, 1975, at approximately 7:10 p.m. about 17 miles north-northwest of Whitefish Point, Michigan, at position 47 0'N by 85 7'W in Canadian waters.

IMPERIAL ST CLAIR (Hull#57) was launched November 10, 1973 , by Port Weller Drydocks at St. Catharines, Ontario. Renamed b.) ALGOSAR in 1998, sold off the lakes, renamed c.) GENESIS EXPLORER in 2005.

The STEELTON sailed on her maiden voyage for Bethlehem Steel Corp. on November 10, 1943.

The ROBERT C. STANLEY, in her first season of operation, on November 10, 1943 during a Lake Superior storm, developed a significant crack across her spar deck and 12 to 14 feet down both sides of her hull. As the hull worked in the heavy seas, the crack widened to as much as three to four inches. The crew ran cables between the fore and aft winches that maintained a force sufficient to hold the hull together.

November 10, 1972, in the vicinity of the entrance to the East Outer Channel near Amherstburg, Ontario, the UNITED STATES GYPSUM collided with her towing tug MAINE and as a result her bow was punctured. The GYPSUM was beached to prevent sinking.

Pittsburgh Steamship's WILLIAM A. IRVIN (Hull#811) was launched November 10, 1937, at Lorain, Ohio. The IRVIN serves as a museum ship in Duluth, Minnesota since 1986.

November 10, 1892, the carferry ANN ARBOR NO 1 left the shipyard in Toledo, Ohio, bound for Frankfort on her maiden voyage. In 1895, the first major accident caused by cars coming free on the car deck of a rail ferry happened when the ANN ARBOR NO 1, was on an eastbound voyage. Approaching Frankfort in a northwest gale, she rolled so violently that many of the car fastenings broke and the cargo began to move about on the car deck. None of the early rear-loading car ferries were equipped with a sea gate to protect the stern from the seas, and seven cars of flour and butter went off the deck of the NO 1 into the lake. Captain Charles Moody resigned from the Ann Arbor as a result of this incident and returned to the Pere Marquette and Goodrich lines.

ATLANTIC (formerly MANITOULIN, wooden propeller passenger/package freight, 147 foot, 683 gross tons, built in 1880, at Owen Sound, Ontario) was bound for Byng Inlet with lumber camp supplies when she was caught in a storm and grounded in the lee of Pancake Island in Georgian Bay. Her cargo and aft cabin were thrown overboard to lighten her, but she caught fire and was destroyed. Her passengers and crew took to her boats and survived.

On 10 November 1856, ST JOSEPH (wooden propeller steam barge, 170 foot, 460 tons, built in 1846, at Buffalo, New York) stranded and was wrecked near Fairport, Ohio. No lives were lost.

November 10, 1911 - The ANN ARBOR NO 4 was back in service after damaging several plates in October. The tanker MARIA DESGAGNES struck bottom in the St. Lawrence Seaway on 10 November 1999. After temporary repairs were made, the vessel was cleared to proceed to Hamilton, Ontario, to discharge its cargo of jet fuel. A survey of the seaway was completed with no indications as to what caused the vessel to ground.

On 10 November 1887, BLAZING STAR (wooden schooner, 137 foot, 265 tons, built in 1873, at Manitowoc, Wisconsin) was sailing on Lake Michigan in fine weather with a load of lumber. However, she grounded on Fisherman Shoal near Washington Island, Wisconsin even though the wreck of the steamer I N FOSTER was in full view on that reef. The captain was unable to locate a tug to pull the BLAZING STAR off and later she broke up in heavy weather. No lives were lost.

Below is a first hand account of the Storm of 1913, from the journal of John Mc Laughlin transcribed by his great grandson Hugh Mc Nichol. John was working on an unknown vessel during the Storm of 1913. The boat was captained by John Mc Alpine and Harry Roberts as Chief Engineer. The boat was loading iron ore in Escanaba when the storm started on November 8th.

Monday, November 10, 1913: I got up at 12 a.m. and went on watch. We were laying at anchor. It was blowing a living gale and kept it up. They hove up the anchor near 10 o'clock but monkeyed around until after dinner. We got under way. We passed the Light Ship about 3, and White Shoal at 5:15.

More entries from the Storm of 1913 tomorrow.

1900: The iron package freighter ARABIAN went aground 8 miles west of Whitefish Point, Lake Superior due to heavy weather. The ship was salvaged with only minor damage. It was later part of the Canada Steamship Lines fleet and was broken up about 1939.

1903: The passenger and freight steamer ATLANTIC was destroyed by a fire on Georgian Bay enroute to Parry Sound. The blaze apparently started in the cargo of hay that had become soaked with coal oil while riding out a late fall storm off Spruce Island west of its destination.

1922: Fleetmates GLENMAVIS and GLENCLOVA were in a collision at Montreal. Both were repaired and remained as part of the Great Lakes fleet for years as ACADIAN and GEORGE HINDMAN (ii) respectively. 1936: SIR WILLIAM FAIRBAIRN was upbound in Lake Huron and ran into a fall storm that damaged 62 automobiles as part of the deckload of new Packard & Chrysler cars.

1968: MANTADOC and FRANCOIS L.D. collided in heavy fog on the Seaway and sustained considerable bow damage. Both were repaired and the former still sails as d) MANITOBA while the latter was scrapped at Alang, India, as b) CINTA in 1987.

1989: ELPIS, Freedom Class deep sea freighter, first came through the Seaway in 1978. It raised considerable ire after stranding on a coral reef off Key Largo, FL while carrying sugar to Mexico. When it was refloated on November 12, the ship was seized by U.S. Marshals until assessment of the damage to the delicate coral reef could be made. The ship was later released and survived further trading until being scrapped at Alang, India, as c) CITY OF HOUSTON, in 2001.

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


Hundreds in Muskegon watch big freighter bring last coal to closing electric plant

11/9 - Muskegon, Mich. – Hundreds of people turned out to the channel Sunday, Nov. 8, to get pictures of what's expected to be the last large freighter to deliver coal to the B.C. Cobb electric plant in Muskegon.

Consumers Energy plans to shut down the plant on Muskegon Lake in 2016, in part because of tightening federal restrictions on power plant emissions.

The 1,000-foot-long lake freighter James R. Barker of the Interlake Steamship Company docked at the B.C. Cobb about 4:15 p.m. Sunday to deliver roughly 59,000 tons of low-sulphur Western coal.

"I've lived here for 70 years and seen a lot of them come and go," said Herb Huch, age 70, of Fruitland Township. "When you get to be our age, you've seen a lot of change."

Huch and his wife, Jean didn't view the change as a totally negative, though, talking about future horizons in energy and ecology. "There'll be other boats," he said. "Time goes on, time marches on. The saying goes, 'The best thing about the good old days (is), they're gone.'"

North Muskegon's Brian Zuber climbed a dune near the channel with his 4-year-old son, Isaac, to watch the ship roll in. "He thought it was great," Zuber said of his son. "He was afraid it was going to be too loud."

Even Zuber, at age 36, expressed some fondness for the old power plant – even as he said its closure will probably be a good thing because less sulfur and mercury will be released into the air.

"The coal plant's always been there, and so have the boats," he said. "I know (for) the city of Muskegon, it's a huge chunk of their tax base, so I don't know how they're working that out."

People stopped on both sides of the channels and at parks and other spots overlooking Muskegon Lake to get a view of the ship.

"They appreciate what I would call the maritime history of this community," said Consumers spokesman Roger Morgenstern. He said a number of retirees were turning out to the plant to see the boat. "Lots of pride in this plant," Morgenstern said.

Huch said he hopes the beach, dunes and wildlife in Muskegon County are preserved for the future. "I hope the future generations get to enjoy it I just like I and my wife have," he said.

A community open house at the plant is being planned for January 2016.

M Live


Port Reports -  November 9

Port Inland, Mich. – Denny Dushane
Manitowoc was expected to arrive Sunday during the late evening, weather permitting. Due in on Monday during the late evening will be the Wilfred Sykes. Mississagi is due to arrive on Wednesday in the early evening.

Cedarville, Mich. – Denny Dushane
There were no vessel arrivals on Sunday. Two vessels are due to arrive on Monday, with the Wilfred Sykes due in the early morning, followed by the barge Pathfinder and tug Dorothy Ann due at noon. The Frontenac makes a rare visit to Cedarville Tuesday in the late evening.

Stoneport, Mich. – Denny Dushane
Philip R. Clarke was expected to arrive on Sunday in the late morning. Also due in on Sunday was the barge Lewis J. Kuber and the tug Olive L. Moore in the early evening. The Great Republic is due on Monday in the early morning. There are no vessels presently due for Tuesday.

Calcite, Mich. – Denny Dushane
There were no vessel arrivals in Calcite for Sunday. Due on Monday will be the barge Pathfinder and tug Dorothy Ann, arriving in the late evening for the South Dock. Tuesday through Thursday there are no vessels scheduled. There are four vessels scheduled for Friday, with the Sam Laud arriving in the early morning for the South Dock. The American Mariner is also due on Friday in the late morning for the North Dock. Also due in on Friday is the John G. Munson in the late afternoon for the North Dock and the barge Pathfinder and tug Dorothy Ann due back again on Friday in the early evening for the South Dock.

Toledo, Ohio – Denny Dushane
The barge James L. Kuber and the tug Victory were expected to arrive at the Torco Dock to unload iron ore pellets on Sunday in the late evening. Also due at Torco is the CSL Laurentien on Tuesday in the early morning. Calumet is due at Torco on Wednesday in the early evening. James L. Kuber and the Victory are due back at Torco Dock on Sunday, Nov. 15 in the mid-afternoon. Two vessels are due with limestone at the Midwest Terminal Stone Dock. Due first is the Frontenac on Wednesday in the early morning, and due in on Sunday, Nov. 15 is the Robert S. Pierson in the late morning. Vessels due at the CSX Coal Dock to load include the James L. Kuber and the tug Victory on Monday, November 16 in the early morning hours, followed by the Algosoo due at CSX on Wednesday, November 18 in the late evening. The barge Ashtabula and the tug Defiance are due at CSX on Thursday, November 19 in the late afternoon. The Algowood rounds out the schedule on Saturday, November 21 in the late afternoon to load at CSX. American Valor remains in long-term lay-up near the Frog Pond and the Lakefront Docks and the barge Sarah Spencer and tug Jane Ann IV are also in lay-up in the Frog Pond area as well. Other vessels included the tug Paul L. Luedtke in Lake Erie and off of Toledo. In port was the saltwater vessel BBC Steinwall at the Midwest Terminal Overseas Dock along with the tug Mississippi. Further upriver was the saltwater vessel Federal Leda loading grain.


DTE Energy, Port of Monroe partner to recycle gypsum

11/9 - Monroe, Mich. – DTE Energy Co. is working with the Port of Monroe to recycle, market and transport gypsum produced at its Monroe Power Plant, officials announced Friday.

Gypsum will be sent from the southeastern Michigan port on Lake Erie to customers in the Midwest and Canada, the utility said. The collaboration has created 30 full-time-jobs with DRM, a Dundee-based company that provides transportation and material handling services for the port.

“We have been seeking a partner who we could work with locally to recycle the hundreds of thousands of tons of gypsum the plant produces annually,” Brian Rice, director at DTE’s Monroe Power Plant, said in a statement.

The port also will build a 24,000-square-foot storage building on its property, allowing gypsum customers to have direct shipping access year-round.

“This agreement is just one example of collaborative opportunities and will ensure that a product produced within the port also passes across our docks,” said Paul LaMarre, Port of Monroe director.

A process used to reduce emissions from the coal-fired plant creates gypsum, which is collected and can be recycled for uses such as wall board and in the production of cement. DTE said the plant’s flue gas desulfurization, or FGD, system removes more than 90 percent of the plant’s sulfur dioxide emissions.

The Detroit-based utility said it expects the agreement to enable the company to continue to recycle 100 percent of the gypsum produced by the plant, which is located about 35 miles southwest of Detroit. In 2014, DTE said that it recycled more than 350,000 tons of gypsum.

The Detroit News


First-time saltie transits for 2015

11/9 - As of Nov. 4, 57 foreign-flag freighters transited the St. Lawrence Seaway for the first time under their current names. They are Amurborg, Andesborg, Atlantic Patriot, BBC Alabama, BBC Kimberley, BBC Ohio, BBC Olympus, BBC Steinwall, Chemical Aquarius, Clipper Macau, Clipper Makiri, Erria Swan, Eva Schulte, Fagelgracht, Federal Baltic, Federal Barents, Federal Beaufort, Federal Bering, Foresight, Fortune, Gotland, Hanse Gate, Henda, HHL Tyne, HHL volga, Houston, Industrial More, Jasmine C, Johanna C, Lena J, Lisanna, LS Evanne, Marbacan, Marbioko, Marsgracht, Med Arctic, Michelle C, Njord Clear, Nomadic Hjellestad, Nordana Emilie, Nordana Emma, Nordana Sarah, Onego Rotterdam, Pioneer, Princimar Equinox, Rodopi, Sally Ann C, Siva Rotterdam, Spavalda, Sten Baltic, Sunrose E, Swan Biscay, Taagborg, Thorco Clairvaux, Timber Navigator, Trinityborg and Umgeni.

As of November 6, no other new salties were expected in the near future. Last year’s total was 60.

René Beauchamp


Forty years after the sinking of the Fitzgerald, untold stories emerge

11/9 - Duluth, Minn. – The day after the SS Edmund Fitzgerald went missing on Lake Superior with its crew of 29 men and a full cargo of taconite pellets, the haunting aftermath was in full bloom for those involved in the search.

Every hour, two or three times an hour, there were radio calls for the Fitzgerald and scratchy broadcasts explaining she was overdue. If anybody sighted the ore carrier or its survivors they were to contact the U.S. Coast Guard immediately.

But the scene on the remote eastern neck of the lake belied the hope inherent in the radio communications. Everybody out there 40 years ago this week seemed to know the ship was gone.

As the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Naugatuck turned the corner at Pointe Louise on the St. Marys River and headed west out into the wide expanse of the lake, a young Shawn McKenzie took stock of the day. A 20-year-old apprentice quartermaster in the pilothouse of the vessel, McKenzie remembered the reflections in the glassy water that swelled like “taking a piece of sheet metal and bumping it,” he recalled.

The spinning anemometer readings of wind velocity the day and night before, on Nov. 10, 1975, had reached frightening levels, requiring lines to be tripled up at the dock lest the 110-foot Naugatuck blow away. But the morning after, there was hardly any wind at all.

“I can’t believe it’s been 40 years,” McKenzie said in a booth at a downtown Duluth diner, across the bridge from his Superior home.

The Naugatuck was based in Sault Ste. Marie and had been considered the primary rescue vessel to the tragedy that started to unfold on Nov. 10. But circumstance and mechanical hang-ups rendered that particular mission moot. By the time it arrived to the scene just after noon the next day there was vessel traffic crisscrossing everywhere, including aerial support. McKenzie even spotted a B-52 from nearby Kincheloe Air Force Base in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

The Naugatuck was quickly dispatched to its own section of the search grid and came upon oil slicks and wreckage from the Fitzgerald’s weather decks — life rings and jackets, a propane tank and oars, anything that blew off the ship or would float. The collected debris was strewn about the deck of the Naugatuck over the course of three days.

The crew tracked oil throughout the Coast Guard ship on their boots. When the Fitzgerald left Superior on the afternoon of Nov. 9 bound for Detroit, it had more than 26,000 tons of taconite iron ore pellets and the equivalent of almost 1,200 barrels of fuel oil on board.

McKenzie recalled seeing the bow of a Fitzgerald lifeboat strung to the side of another impromptu recovery vessel; the lifeboat had been torn apart like an aluminum beer can and is now a museum piece in Sault Ste. Marie.

Making their way aboard a Naugatuck motor boat toward the shoreline, McKenzie and a boatswain’s mate were waved off a directive by a beach party that had also spotted a canopied canister raft washed ashore on the Canadian shore. The rafts come encased in hard plastic and are designed to pop free in the event of a ship’s sinking.

“Of course, they didn’t find anybody in there,” McKenzie said. “I’m glad I didn’t have to go in and take a look.”

The accumulated wreckage was taken to a shed in Sault Ste. Marie before making its way to a warehouse in Cleveland for the investigation that followed the wreck.

The radio transmissions both calling for the Fitzgerald and urging others to report sightings of survivors lasted until about 9:30 p.m. on Nov. 13, 1975 — 72-plus hours after the Fitzgerald had last been heard from with Capt. Ernest McSorley’s final transmission to the trailing steamer Arthur M. Anderson: “We are holding our own.”

From his booth seat on a rainy day in Duluth, McKenzie wondered aloud if the transmissions kept coming as a way to respect the families who’d lost so much.

Because after considering that “jeepers, maybe she ran aground on the Canadian shore,” as the Naugatuck made its way toward the Fitzgerald’s last known location, McKenzie needed little further evidence once he’d arrived to see the busy scene with his own eyes. A feeling came over him.

“I had the sense,” he said, “that this is a historic event.”

The Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum is located in Paradise, Mich., at Whitefish Point, a spur of the Upper Peninsula that serves as a makeshift ground zero for the Edmund Fitzgerald for being only about 20 miles southeast of the wreck and serving as the resting place of the ship’s original bell.

The bell was recovered during a diving expedition in 1995 and replaced with another bell inscribed with the names of the seamen buried at the wreck, including eight men from the Northland.

Some 65,000 to 70,000 visitors have passed through the museum so far this year, a 17 percent increase over 2014.

The wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald is the No. 1 reason people visit the shipwreck museum and 2015’s 40th anniversary bolstered that interest, said executive director Bruce Lynn.

“People who come and visit want to learn more about the Fitzgerald,” Lynn said, “and without going overboard we try to give people that.”

Time serves curiosity well. It gives perspective and loosens restrictions on information. It also loosens tongues. Lynn likened the wreck of the Fitzgerald to a maritime version of the Kennedy assassination that came a dozen November months before it.

It’s an apt comparison in some respects. Both events produced definitive causes that have been roundly debated and, in the Fitzgerald’s case, debunked, adding to their mystery and creating a cottage industry out of speculation. For Kennedy, it’s the lone gunman theory. For the Fitzgerald, it’s the original Coast Guard theory that water entered the ship through poorly tended cargo hatches.

But for Kennedy’s assassination, there were material witnesses galore and startling film of the event. For the Fitzgerald, there were no surviving eyewitnesses to the ship’s foundering. One moment the ship was there and nine seconds later, said Mel Sando, executive director of the Lake County Historical Society, the Fitzgerald was gone.

“Nobody wanted to admit it was gone,” said Sando, who operates three museums in Two Harbors, including the 1892 Two Harbors Light Station.

Sando was a schoolboy in Two Harbors on the day of the wreck. He remembers being let out early on what started out as a balmy November Monday. Everybody knew the storm was coming, rolling up from the plains and bearing down on the Great Lakes. The kids that lived in far-out communities such as Brimson and Toimi needed to get home safely.

“It was a touchy subject around here for a long time,” said Sando, 53. “Most people who celebrate it are usually people who aren’t from around here. They have a romantic notion of it. But there were guys (aboard) from Knife River and Superior and relatives from Two Harbors. People really didn’t sit around and discuss it.”

The mystery surrounding the Fitzgerald has fueled a parade of authors willing to pinpoint and posit at her fate. Sando’s and Lynn’s museums sell a lot of books and shipwreck maps from their gift shops, where they say the most popular topic by far is the wreck of the Fitzgerald.

There are more than 20 books on the topic — so many, said Lynn, that “we’ve stopped counting at this point.”

In an effort to illuminate the wreck and its mystery on the 40th anniversary, the News Tribune reached out to three Northland men, who — were they on a radar screen — wouldn’t have been the closest blips to Fitzgerald’s history. But they weren’t off the screen either.

Concentrically and radiating outward from the wreck, McKenzie, 60, Bob Hom, 66, and Jim Woodard, 73, are something akin to character witnesses offering circumstantial evidence. They shared rare glimpses into the wreck, the captain and the ship, respectively. Of them, only Hom has previously spoken publicly about the wreck. Early on in his previous interview, Hom learned that author’s main intent was to fault Capt. McSorley and take the angle that he shouldn’t have been out there in the storm.

The author had picked the wrong man to help support that theory.

Hom grew up on Duluth’s Park Point, during a time when residents buried garbage in the sand on the lake side and tossed it into the bay on the harbor side. But he was always around the water and that was enough for him. Today, as a tugboat captain in the port of Duluth-Superior, he’s living out a dream.

He enjoys being out on the water in the middle of winter when it’s 20 degrees below zero and his Heritage Marine tug, in its telltale autumnal colors, is the only operating vessel in sight.

“It’s kinda fun, breaking 3 feet of ice,” he said. “It’s cold and nasty work. You either like it or you don’t. Most people wouldn’t.”

Growing up, Hom didn’t know anybody in the maritime industry. But he owned the wanderlust required to work on the water and it was later Capt. McSorley who took him under his wing.

Fortunate to have a high Vietnam draft number, Hom recalled the day he made up his mind and left his University of Minnesota Duluth classroom never to return again. He was bent on sailing and got a job aboard the Armco, working first as a deckhand and then as deck watch under McSorley. Like the Fitzgerald, the Armco was a ore carrier owned by Oglebay Norton Co. out of Cleveland.

Deckhands tie the boat when it docks. They do a lot of chipping and painting, and when the ship is underway it’s the deckhands that hose down and clean the weather decks that become filthy during loading and unloading.

A graduation to deck watch meant watching from the bow for other vessels in the fog, checking running lights and hollering “lights abright!” to the pilot house and taking regular depth soundings of the ballast tanks to see that they weren’t taking on added water. In the Fitzgerald’s final hours it’s widely believed some of her ballast tanks — eight total, located outside of and below the ship’s cargo holds — took on thousands of gallons of water, far more than pumps could handle and causing the starboard list McSorley reported to the trailing Anderson’s captain, Bernie Cooper, at 3:30 p.m., about 3 hours, 40 minutes before the wreck.

The deck watch is an obsolete job now, but when it existed one of its chores was to make the coffee in the pilothouse. It was there that Hom grew to know McSorley, finding him to be a patient — and humorous — leader of men.

Hom was a 21-year-old sailing in 1970-71, feeling like an insider among rugged and veteran merchant marine officers. The Armco’s third mate, Delmar Webster, would drill Hom on which boat was ahead of the Armco or passing it, and Hom learned to identify the ships even under the cloak of night by their light signatures.

But it was McSorley who would let Hom get behind the wheel of the then-647-foot Armco, which was later lengthened by Fraser Shipyards in Superior and ultimately renamed the American Valor.

“I didn’t know anything but I wanted to learn and he was happy to teach,” Hom recalled. “He liked you if you showed interest and I did; I really was interested.”

McSorley would take the boat off autopilot in the middle of the lakes and allow Hom to zigzag across the open water as he learned how to make the hulking vessel go straight. There’s a trick to driving a ship, Hom said, describing how a person has to put a lot of wheel on it to get it to start moving, then put opposite rudder on it to re-center it. It takes time to learn and not every captain cared to participate in the driver’s education of a deck watch.

McSorley grew comfortable with Hom. He showed the sailor from Duluth a side of himself that not many people saw. McSorley is widely noted to have been a man of few words — private and determined with an elusive personality. Hom said McSorley had a special bond with the late Webster, a “hillbilly from West Virginia by his own admission,” Hom added, who would go on to become a captain himself. It was with Webster that McSorley revealed a mischievous side.

Hom was wheeling once with Webster in the captain’s chair, which was OK if the captain wasn’t on deck, when McSorley came crawling on his hands and knees. He snuck in from behind, grabbed Webster by the ankles, yanked him from the chair and with a “Boom!” Webster hit the floor. Another time, McSorley caught Hom’s eye and made a motion to Hom to plug his ears before tossing a cherry bomb into the pilothouse in the pitch black of night, startling Webster yet again.

“Who does that?” Hom laughed, his tall frame relaxed in his living room in Superior. “The guy had a sense of humor. He liked messing with Delmar, but they were pretty good friends.”

Hom left shipping before he had a chance to follow McSorley onto the Fitzgerald. Hom was set to marry and didn’t want to endure the tough life of being away from family for long stretches.

“It’s a great job if it’s just you,” said Hom, who spent 33 years as the director of operations for the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center before retiring and finding his way behind the wheel of a tugboat.

There’s one story Hom has carried with him throughout his life and never told the author who once interrogated him about McSorley. Hom bristled at the author’s approach and didn’t want to share “the biggest bit of insight I’ve got on McSorley,” he said.

Hom told of working alongside the captain on the Armco when they passed the Fitzgerald going the other way on Lake Superior.

“McSorley looked over and said, ‘Boy, I’d hate to be on there in a big storm,’” Hom recalled. “‘They got it all worn out from years of overloading it.’ He said that five years before it sunk. He knew it was all wore out.”

Built in 1958, the Fitzgerald launched to great fanfare as the longest and grandest ship on the Great Lakes — featuring a now old-fashioned forward pilothouse and a 729-foot hull.

“I always said she wore a work hat,” said Woodard, a retired lifelong sailor whose father, Cedric Woodard, first appears on page 31 of the Coast Guard’s Marine Casualty Report of the wreck. “That’s what her pilothouse looked like: a little bill on her hat.”

The Fitzgerald’s namesake was an insurance magnate with deep maritime roots whose son of the same name was later partly responsible for bringing a professional baseball franchise back to Milwaukee. Both men were better known for their connection to the ship.

The Fitzgerald was indeed a workhorse, breaking her own tonnage records several times, becoming a sort of Babe Ruth of the Great Lakes. Ruth sparkled but later paid the price for hard living and so did the Fitzgerald. Oglebay Norton was proud of its flagship’s capabilities and accomplishments, but to hear the sources in this story tell it, the Fitzgerald was taxed with a heavy physical toll. The ship was lost despite having only 17 years on the water.

“They were killing the boat,” Hom said. “It was designed to haul a certain amount and they kept getting the Coast Guard to increase the load line.”

“That’s one of the things that’s been mentioned that perhaps she was loaded a little bit too deep for the conditions,” McKenzie said, “but I don’t know that for a fact.”

The higher the load line, the lower a boat goes in the water. A prevailing theory nowadays is that the ship rode the peaks and troughs of 25-foot waves amid snowfall and howling winds on its way to striking the ominously named Six Fathom Shoal, puncturing the boat and creating the fatal listing as water poured into the vessel.

As the theory goes, to escape the lake’s naked wide open, McSorley had wended the ship northeast but, with some failing instruments and inconsistent U.S. and Canadian mapping, drew closer than would have been recommended to Caribou Island. The shoal theory is what Cedric Woodard — piloting the Swedish vessel Avafors on Lake Superior and in contact with McSorley during the storm — believed when he died and it’s what his son believes to this day.

But, for Jim Woodard, there was always something else — an eeriness elicited by the Fitzgerald he was not afraid to talk about.

“I called her a wet ship even in the ’60s,” said Woodard, who sailed aboard the Fitzgerald in 1961-62 and again in 1974-75. “She took on water all the time and her tunnels flooded out on her; we always had to go down and pump them out. I didn’t like her then and I didn’t like her when I was on her before then. I had a gut feeling about her.”

In telling his story from his home deep in the woods between Duluth and Two Harbors, Woodard’s dining room table looked out on a foggy, misty morning. He knew most of the 29 men aboard the Fitzgerald when it wrecked and seemed most fond of third mate Michael Armagost, a precocious sailor and well-known and deeply mourned husband and father from Iron River, in Bayfield County.

On the fateful day 40 years ago, the storm descended on the Northland and it got dark in a hurry. By then, Woodard had left the Fitzgerald in favor of the Sylvania, which was itself in a pitched battle with the storm on Lake Erie, rocking so hard it was blowing off anchor before sending the vessel into safe harbor at Pelee Point in Canada, where it struck the buoy on the way in.

Around 11 p.m. word reached the Sylvania that the Fitzgerald was likely lost. “Holy Jesus,” Woodard recalled thinking.

He had been a temporary wheelsman on the Fitzgerald when, two months before the wreck, she pulled into port ahead of the Sylvania — an older and much smaller ship with a long history of accidents.

The Fitzgerald was a frequent visitor to the Northland and Silver Bay, specifically, but it didn’t matter to Woodard. He wanted off the Fitzgerald and would leave the comforts of home and family if need be. A buddy aboard the Sylvania told him she needed a full-time wheelsman for its big 6-foot wheel. Oglebay Norton’s Columbia Transportation Division operated both boats. Woodard called management and said if they didn’t give him the job he’d quit; he could just as easily go to the labor hall and hire out on the Sylvania, he reasoned. The company obliged and, just like that, Woodard’s wish was granted.

Several weeks later and just days before the wreck, the two vessels were in port together again and Woodard recalled a harrowing last brush with the men.

“God strike me dead if I’m lying,” Woodard said, his spontaneous laughter checked. “We pulled in behind them and everybody I saw on that crew had an aura around them. That’s the honest-to-God’s truth. They glowed, just like a little brightness, you know what I mean?”

When asked if he was benefiting from hindsight and imagination, Woodard said, “I’ve never seen that since.”

The night of the storm, with everyone fearing the worst, McKenzie and others assigned to the Naugatuck got busy in a hurry.

The boat that ran supplies and relief crews to lighthouses on Lake Superior had been in “Charlie status,” meaning it was out of service. It was getting its engines rebuilt and berthing area redone. A call to go on stand-by at 7:47 p.m. changed all that.

Nobody had been living on the ship. Crewmembers, about half with families, had been holed up in apartments in Sault Ste. Marie. Hoofing back to the ship, McKenzie leaned hard into the violent winds.

Upon his arrival at the dock, he learned the Fitzgerald was missing and presumed to be in trouble at the very least.

Dropping fast as it rode 20-foot waves, the historian Sando believes the Fitzgerald succumbed to a finishing wave that slammed the back of the pilothouse and shoved the once majestic ship’s nose into the water for a dive to the bottom more than 500 feet down.

The Naugatuck crew raced to try to meet her. They threw the bunks that hadn’t yet been reattached and everything else that wasn’t nailed down off the vessel and onto the dock. Engineers scrambled to get the two engines back together. The cook ran into town to gather a bunch of food because there had been nothing on board. Because the water tanks were laced with chlorine, 5-gallon jugs were brought aboard for drinking water. Life jackets were arranged on the berthing room floor and covered with sleeping bags for makeshift sleeping quarters.

By about 10 or 11 p.m., the Naugatuck fired its engines, but the oil pressure spiked on the starboard main and it had to be shut down. The crew was anxious to get out on the lake to help in the search; they did not yet know that the Fitzgerald and its men were gone, or that the events of that night would become known around the world and remembered for decades.

“The oil-pressure problem basically knocked us out of getting underway that night,” said McKenzie, now a Great Lakes pilot who has spent his lifetime as a merchant seaman. “We had to have two engines. We got out the next day. Hardly anybody slept.”

Duluth News Tribune


Bells toll at Mariners' Church of Detroit for lives lost on Fitzgerald, Great Lakes

11/9 - Detroit, Mich. – A legendary folk song about the SS Edmund Fitzgerald's watery demise in Lake Superior tells of a rustic old hall in Detroit where bells chime to honor the 29 lives lost.

Forty years after the mysterious shipwreck, bells tolled Sunday at the church Canadian singer-songwriter Gordon Lightfoot referred to in "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald."

Lightfoot sings:
"In a rustic old hall in Detroit they prayed,
in the maritime sailors' cathedral,
The church bell chimed 'til it rang 29 times
for each man on the Edmund Fitzgerald."

That rustic old hall actually is called the Mariners' Church of Detroit.

The Mariners' Church of Detroit was founded at Woodward and Woodbridge streets in 1842. That's when, according to the church, "all life in Old Detroit was then contained in that area," and "all life stemmed from the river."

A landowner named Julia Anderson established it to serve as a mission to seamen. The completion of the Erie Canal was bringing more maritime traffic to Detroit, which then had a population of about 10,000 people.

The Rev. William Fleming, the church's rector, said Sunday that Anderson wanted the church to serves as a beacon of hope, a safe, spiritual enclave and a house of prayer for all people.

The present structure was built in 1849 in the Gothic Revival Style, with Calvin N. Otis and Hugh Moffat as architects. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1971, the church also is a former stop on the Underground Railroad.

The gorgeous building, which was saved from demolition in the 1950s, is wedged next to the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel along Detroit's riverfront and dwarfed by the Renaissance Center.

The Mariners' Church of Detroit holds a Blessing of the Fleet every March for all seabound travelers, and it hosts a Great Lakes Memorial Service every November for all who have perished at sea.

On Sunday, the bell also tolled in memory of all who have died on the Great Lakes and its tributaries, and for all military personal who lost their lives fighting for their country.

M Live


Lookback #722 – James Carruthers disappeared in Great Storm on Nov. 9, 1913

While we do no know for certain when, where or how the James Carruthers disappeared, we do know it sank during the Great Storm of Nov. 1913. The ship went down without a trace taking the lives of all 25 sailors on board and it is generally believed this occurred 102 years ago today.

The ship was brand new. It had been launched as Hull 38 of the Collingwood shipyard on May 22, 1913, and departed the shipyard on June 18 to join the St. Lawrence & Chicago Steam Navigation Co. At 550 feet in overall length, the ship was confined to the four upper Great Lakes and had been a good carrier prior to its tragic loss.

James Carruthers had loaded grain at Fort William, now part of Thunder Bay, and sailed for Midland on Nov. 6. It passed down through the Soo Locks before disappearing. There is some thought it may have been overwhelmed while turning for Georgian Bay, but to date there is no way of knowing as the location of the hull has not yet been found, despite determined efforts by wreck hunters.

The steamer was valued at $410,000 and the cargo at $350,000 making this a major financial loss. The owners quickly ordered a replacement ship and the latter was launched as J.H.G. Hagarty on June 18, 1914. The latter survived until scrapping as b) Hagarty, at Santander, Spain, following arrival on Oct. 28, 1968.

Skip Gillham


Today in Great Lakes History -  November 9

In 1971, the French freighter PENCHATEAU unloaded 3,000 tons of fluorspar at Erie Dock at Cleveland. This was (1) the first salty unloaded at this dock, (2) the first cargo handled from directly overseas, and (3) the first time Huletts unloaded directly into trucks. The operation required 9 hours (previous efforts using clamshell buckets to unload required two days).

On 09 November 1869, EXCELSIOR (wooden propeller river steamer and ferry, 40 foot, 28 tons, built in 1861, at Lewiston, New York) caught fire and was destroyed while taking on wood. She was owned by Samuel Hunt of St. Charles, Michigan and was primarily used as a ferry on the Saginaw River.

EDWIN H. GOTT's keel was laid November 9, 1977, at Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin.

The aft section of the ATLANTIC SUPERIOR (Hull#222) was launched at Collingwood, Ontario by Collingwood Shipyards Ltd. November 9, 1981. The section was towed to Thunder Bay, Ontario for completion.

In the fall of 1962, the W.F. WHITE left the Lakes, under tow of the tug MARION MORAN, for coal shuttle service in the Chesapeake Bay area passing down the Welland Canal November 9th. She returned to the Lakes under tow of the DIANA MORAN in 1965. Sold Canadian in 1976, renamed b.) ERINDALE, she was scrapped at Port Colborne, Ontario in 1985.

The keel for the GEORGE M. HUMPHREY was laid November 9, 1953, at Lorain, Ohio.

NORMAN B. REAM was laid up at Duluth, Minnesota on November 9, 1960. In 1965, she would be sold and renamed b.) KINSMAN ENTERPRISE.

In 1971, the CITY OF MIDLAND 41 was laid up due to coal strike.

On 9 November 1923, AZTEC (wooden propeller bulk freighter, 180 foot, 835 gross tons, built in 1889, at Marine City, Michigan) was destroyed by fire at her home port of Marine City. The wreck lay in the Belle River until dynamited in the 1930Õs, and what was left was placed on the previously raised barge PROVINCE which was then towed up the St. Clair River, into Lake Huron and scuttled.

On 9 November 1877, The Port Huron Times announced that the Lake schooners W C GRANT and CITY OF GREEN BAY had left Montreal on a voyage to Europe.

The Big Storm of 1913: On November 7, 1913, the storm responsible for sinking or damaging more vessels than any other began a six-day assault on the Great Lakes. The "Big Blow" of 1913, struck Lake Superior on November 7 and reached Lake Michigan by November 8.

At 10:00 p.m. on November 9, 1913, the HOWARD M. HANNA JR was blown broadside onto the Port Austin Reef (off the tip of Michigan's thumb on Lake Huron) by northerly winds in excess of 60 mph during the Great Storm of 1913. The ship finally lost power and was driven onto the reef where she broke in two at hatch number seven.

On November 9, 1913, while down bound with ore, the FRED G. HARTWELL encountered very strong southwest winds in Lake Superior. She reached a position one mile east of Iroquois Point, on Whitefish Bay and dropped her anchor to ride out the storm. Her anchor began to drag when the winds shifted to the north and increased to unprecedented gale-force velocity. This was the beginning of the "Great Storm" of 1913, which drove her aground onto a rocky bottom. The seas pounded her until her bottom plates were torn open and she sank the next day in 26 feet of water.

On November 9th during the Big Storm of 1913, the MATTHEW ANDREWS was down bound in Lake Huron with a cargo of iron ore. Captain Lempoh decided to drop anchor rather than risk trying to enter the St. Clair River during the fury of the storm. Taking bearings for anchorage from LIGHTSHIP 61 (stationed at Corsica Shoal), which unknown to him had been blown two miles off station, the MATTHEW ANDREWS grounded heavily on Corsica Shoal.

Below is a first hand account of the storm from the journal of John Mc Laughlin transcribed by his great grandson Hugh Mc Nichol. John was working on the steamer E.L. WALLACE of the Dearborn Transit Co., during the Storm of 1913. The boat was captained by John Mc Alpine and Harry Roberts as Chief Engineer. The boat was loading iron ore in Escanaba when the storm started on November 8th.

Sunday, November 9, 1913 I got up at 12 a.m. and went on watch. They were loading us but awful slow. It is blowing hard and some snow falling and colder. We got away at 11:35 a.m. There is a heavy sea on and blowing a gale. We ain't making much headway, about 2 miles in 4 hours.

More entries from the Storm of 1913 tomorrow.

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


German ship held in Duluth port during probe

11/8 - Duluth, Minn. – A foreign ship is being held at anchor in Lake Superior as part of a federal probe, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said Friday.

The German-owned vessel, Cornelia, is being held in the Duluth harbor outside the Duluth Ship Canal. The nature of the investigation is unknown at this time. The U.S. Coast Guard is also involved in the investigation.

“The U.S. Attorney’s Office declines to comment on any details of the investigation,” said Ben Petok, director of communications in the U.S. Attorney’s District of Minnesota office in the Twin Cities. Petok explained it is general practice not to comment on an active investigation.

He confirmed that no individual person has been detained. “There is no threat to public safety,” Petok added.

The Cornelia has been in the port of Duluth-Superior for several days and took on grain at the CHS Inc. elevator in Superior, loading Tuesday and Wednesday, said Greg Ukkola, grain operations manager for the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture Grain Regulation in Superior.

“We did an initial stowage examination on the ship to see that it was fit to load grain into, and we examined the grain as it was being loaded,” Ukkola said.

The stowage exam of the vessel and its holds was done last Sunday, while the ship was anchored in Duluth harbor. Everything about the exams was routine, Ukkola said.

“We inspect all export grain shipments,” Ukkola said. “It’s a federal requirement.”

After being loaded midweek, the Cornelia never got underway. The ship has been stopped at anchor since Thursday. The 9th Coast Guard District in Cleveland was the first federal agency to confirm the investigation to the News Tribune, but referred all questions to the U.S. Attorney’s District of Minnesota office.

The Cornelia is owned by the German company MST, which operates dry bulk carriers on the Atlantic Ocean. MST could not be reached for comment and the captain of the vessel refused to comment when reached by the News Tribune.

Duluth News Tribune


SS Badger to head to Wisconsin this month for 5-year inspection

11/8 - Ludington, Mich. – Just like an adult should get a physical exam every year, the 62-year-old SS Badger is required to undergo hull inspections and more every five years. Sometime after the deer season opener Nov. 15, Selvick Marine Towing tugs will arrive in Ludington to tow the 410-foot Ludington-based carferry to Bay Shipbuilding in Sturgeon Bay, Wis.

After some in-water inspections, the Badger will be moved to drydock, now scheduled for Nov. 20. Water will be pumped out from beneath the Badger and the black-hulled icon of Ludington will rest atop blocks for routine, but involved, inspections.

The Badger’s two 13-foot, 10-inch propellers, each weighing almost seven tons, will be removed for cleaning and dressing up. Pits and mars in the surface of the propellers will be filled and ground back down.

“Some are required, some just make sense to do,” Chuck Leonard, Lake Michigan Carferry vice president of navigation, said.

Ludington Daily News


Port Reports -  November 8

Erie, Pa. – Gene P.
The tug Champion left at first light Saturday, then the Defiance/Ashtabula combo arrived to unload salt. Presque Isle was anchored off of Presque Isle State Park and will be coming into Erie for winter layup, most likely awaiting for the Defiance to unload. The Defiance pulled in ahead of the docked JS St. John sand dredger and dropped several line handlers off to handle lines.


Fitzgerald memorials stretch from Minnesota and Michigan to Ohio

11/8 - The 40th anniversary of the Edmund Fitzgerald's sinking is Tuesday and the passage of time hasn't lessened the famous shipwreck's legacy.

Here is a list of events dedicated to remembering the 29 lives lost in a storm on Lake Superior on Nov. 10, 1975.

Saturday, Nov. 7
• A panel discussion of the SS Edmund Fitzgerald at the Lake Superior Marine Museum Association's Gales of November Conference in Duluth, Minnesota. Registration for the event is required.

Sunday, Nov. 8
• The Great Lakes Memorial Service will take place at the Mariners Church in Detroit. The 11 a.m. service honors all sailors who have served on the Great Lakes.

Monday, Nov. 9
• The Gordon Lightfoot Tribute Band will present a concert to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the SS Edmund Fitzgerald at 7:30 p.m. at the Performing Arts Center of Lake Superior State University in Sault Ste. Marie. Proceeds will go to benefit ongoing historic restoration efforts at Whitefish Point. Tickets are $20 for general admission and $100 for special patron seating.

Tuesday, Nov. 10
• The Shipwreck Museum in Paradise, near Whitefish Point, will host its annual memorial ceremony at 7 p.m. in the Shipwreck Museum Main Gallery Building. There will be music, reflections and a Call to the Last Watch Ceremony.

• The Split Rock Lighthouse in Two Harbors, Minn., will host a commemorative beacon lightning ceremony from noon to 6 p.m. featuring costumed guides and tours of the light. At 4:30 pm, the lighthouse will close temporarily while the names of the crew members are read to the tolling of a ship's bell. Cost is $9 for adults, $7 seniors and college students.

• The Michigan State University Main Library will host a panel to commemorate the sinking as part of their "Iron Hulls and Turbulent Waters" exhibit. The panel will start discussion at 7 p.m.

• The Dossin Great Lakes Museum in Detroit will be hosting its annual "Lost Mariners Remembrance" from 6 to 8 p.m. The event will feature a lantern vigil and a performance by Lee Murdock. Admission is $10. Before the memorial, visitors can go learn about the history of the ship at an exhibit.

• The Great Lakes Maritime Academy in Traverse City is holding an annual Mariners Memorial at noon. One of the academy cadets perished on the Fitzgerald. The event honor mariners who have perished on the Great Lakes and oceans and is sponsored by the Student Propeller Club, Port 150.

• The Michigan Maritime Museum in South Haven will host "Gales of November: The 40th Anniversary of the Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" at 7 p.m. Jim Spurr will discuss the historic difficulties of traveling the Great Lakes. Admission is $8.

• The National Museum of the Great Lakes in Toledo, Ohio is showing the premiere of the documentary "A Good Ship and Crew Well-Seasoned: The Fitzgerald and her Legacy" at 7:30 p.m. A reception is at 6 p.m. and a remembrance ceremony is at 7 p.m. Tickets are $45 for members and $60 for nonmembers.

• The River Rouge Historical Museum will be hosting an Edmund Fitzgerald Memorial Service at Belanger Park on the Detroit River at 6 p.m. It will be held in a heated tent and lanterns will be placed along the dock.

• A staged reading of Shelley Russell's "Holdin' Our Own" at the Jamrich Hall Auditorium at Northern Michigan University in Marquette, Mich. The show will start at 7:30 p.m.

M Live


Gordon Lightfoot song immortalized ore carrier sinking

11/8 - Detroit, Mich. – There’s no doubt that Gordon Lightfoot’s 1976 hit song “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” helped keep the story of the doomed American ore carrier alive since it sank on Lake Superior during stormy weather on Nov. 10, 1975.

Twenty-nine men lost their lives in the wreck in Canadian waters after fighting 80-mph winds and 25-foot waves. The ship was one of the largest to sail the Great Lakes. Lightfoot, 76, first heard about the shipwreck when he saw it that evening on the TV news.

He’d been wanting to put lyrics to the mournful melody of an old Irish folk song he remembered hearing in his toddler days, growing up in Orillia, Ont. He explained his decision to write the song in a 2014 Reddit “Ask Me Anything” session:

“When the story came on television that the Edmund had foundered in Lake Superior three hours earlier, it was right on the CBC here in Canada, I came into the kitchen for a cup of coffee and saw the news and I said, ‘That’s my story to go with the melody and the chords.’ ”

A Newsweek article about the tragedy also was influential. Lightfoot started writing in late November of 1975 and the opening lyrics echoed the first sentence of the article, written by James R. Gaines and Jon Lowell: “According to a legend of the Chippewa tribe, the lake they once called Gitche Gumee ‘never gives up her dead.’ ”

The singer/songwriter felt the story of the Edmund Fitzgerald wasn’t getting the attention it deserved. “The Edmund Fitzgerald really seemed to go unnoticed at that time, anything I’d seen in the newspapers or magazines were very short, brief articles, and I felt I would like to expand upon the story of the sinking of the ship itself,” said Lightfoot in the Reddit interview.

“And it was quite an undertaking to do that,” he continued. “I went and bought all of the old newspapers, got everything in chronological order, and went ahead and did it because I already had a melody in my mind and it was from an old Irish dirge that I heard when I was about 31/2 years old. I think it was one of the first pieces of music that registered to me as being a piece of music.”

Lightfoot was moved to change the lyrics after a 2010 documentary, “Edmund Fitzgerald,” that aired on the show “Dive Detectives” on the History Channel revealed that the cause of the wreck wasn’t crew error, but that the ship broke in half, which caused it to sink. It was thought originally that the crew failed to secure the hatches, reflected in Lightfoot’s original line:

“At 7 p.m. a main hatchway caved in, he said, ‘Fellas, it’s been good to know ya.’ ”

The line didn’t overtly blame the crew, but in a 2013 interview with The Detroit News, Lightfoot explained some family members of the crew told him they were bothered by the lyric. The mother and daughter of two of the deckhands in charge of the hatches told him they cringed every time they heard the lyric. And it was about the only place in the song, Lightfoot acknowledged, where he took any poetic license. “I said, ‘I can’t change what’s on the record, but at least I can change what I do in concert.’ ”

It took Lightfoot a long time to figure out how to rewrite the line, and he took suggestions from fans, but ultimately, it was thinking about how early darkness falls in November that influenced the rewrite.

The revised line: “At 7 p.m. it grew dark, it was then he said, ‘Fellas, it’s been good to know ya.’ ”

“I figured that by November it would be getting dark at about the time that ship sank,” Lightfoot told a News reporter, “and so that’s what I did. And that replaced ‘At 7 p.m. the hatchway caved in.’ ”

While he won’t change the copyrighted lyrics, he will always do it live this way. “So I always do it that way, and I’ve done it 200, 300 times now, because we do that song every night.”

Gordon Lightfoot and ‘The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald’

• “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” was Lightfoot’s second most successful song, after “Sundown,” but as his own website points out, the “Edmund Fitzgerald” is probably his best-known song.

• In November 1976, the song topped out at No. 2 on the Billboard charts, kept from the No. 1 spot by Rick Dees’ “Disco Duck” one week, Rod Stewart’s “Tonight’s the Night” another.

• Irish Republican Army leader Bobby Sands borrowed the “Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” melody and wrote new lyrics for his song, “Back Home in Derry.” The song was recorded by folksinger Christy Moore, among others.

• In the song, Lightfoot mentions the service the Mariner’s Church on Jefferson in Detroit held (now dubbed the “Great Lakes Memorial”) in honor of the wreck and the sailors who perished: “In a musty old hall in Detroit they prayed, in the Maritime Sailors Cathedral. The church bell chimed, it rang 29 times, for each man on the Edmund Fitzgerald.” Lightfoot has appeared at some of the Mariner’s Church November gatherings, although in recent years he is more likely to meet family members of the crew in Whitefish Bay, Mich.

• This year’s Mariner’s Church Great Lakes Memorial service will take place at 11 a.m. Sunday at the church, 170 W. Jefferson, Detroit. • In late October, Lightfoot was back in his hometown of Orillia, Ont., for the unveiling of a 13-foot-high bronze statue depicting him in his 20s. “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” played in the background during the ceremony.

• The Canadian mint struck a $20 silver-colored coin commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Edmund Fitzgerald’s sinking, as part of a “Lost Ships in Canadian Waters” series. The coin features a vivid scene of the ship being swept by the perilous waves.

• Cleveland-based Great Lakes Brewing Co. makes an Edmund Fitzgerald porter, “a bittersweet tribute to the legendary freighter’s fallen crew — taken too soon when the gales of November came early.”

• A Toronto group, Cadence, launched a gofundme campaign to fund a video to go with their version of Lightfoot’s “classic Canadian folk song” about the tragedy.

Detroit News


Lookback #721 – Spirit of Nantucket hit an uncharted object on Nov. 8, 2007

The passenger vessel Spirit of Nantucket was traveling down the Intercoastal Waterway when it struck something on Nov. 8, 2007. The ship was holed and had to be beached for safety reasons. No one was hurt and, once refloated, the vessel was repaired at Colonna's shipyard in Norfolk, Va., before continuing its voyage to the Pacific Northwest.

The 207-foot-long ship was built at Jeffersonville, Ind., in 1985 and first operated as a) Nantucket Clipper. It came to the Great Lakes the first year and was back each year through 2006, offering a variety of cruises to inland destinations including the scenic Thousand Islands, various Georgian Bay ports and Mackinac Island.

The ship was renamed b) Spirit of Nantucket in 2007 and was back on the lakes that fall before it was determined to send the ship to the west coast.

A renaming ceremony at Seattle, Wash., on May 5, 2008, changed the name to c) Spirit of Glacier Bay and the ship was based at Juneau, Alaska, offering three and four day cruises to Glacier Bay. The ship ran aground near Glacier Bay National Park on July 7, 2008, but was released on the high tide. The rest of the season was canceled and the ship returned to Seattle and laid up.

The vessel was used by the company for meetings, storage and accommodations until the owners, Cruise West, ceased operations on Sept.18, 2010. It would appear that the former Great Lakes traveler did not sail again after the Alaska grounding and remains idle at Seattle.

Skip Gillham


Today in Great Lakes History -  November 8

The NIMROD (3-mast wooden schooner, 184 foot, 559 tons, built in 1873, at Toledo, Ohio) was carrying 37,000 bushels of corn from Chicago to Buffalo. On 08 November 1874, she encountered thick fog on Lake Erie and the large double decked schooner MICHIGAN collided with her. The MICHIGAN continued on her course while the NIMROD filled with water and sank in 70 feet of water off Port Burwell-Port Stanley, Ontario. The crew escaped in the yawl and were picked up by the schooner GRANTHAM. The wreck was discovered in 1978, when Capt. Robert Hamilton, a commercial fisherman, snagged his nets on it.

COLUMBIA STAR (steel propeller bulk freighter, 1000 foot, 35,923 gross tons) was launched November 8, 1980, at Bay Shipbuilding Co., Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin (Hull#726) . She was part of the Oglebay Norton fleet. Renamed b.) AMERICAN CENTURY in 2006.

BENJAMIN F. FAIRLESS and IRVING S. OLDS arrived on November 8, 1988, at Kaohsiung, Taiwan for scrapping by Sing Cheng Yung Iron & Steel Co. Ltd.

The Great Lakes Engineering Works built steamer STADACONA of 1909, renamed b.) W. H. McGEAN in 1920, was renamed c.) ROBERT S. McNAMARA by its new owner Ford Motor Company's Marine Division on November 8, 1962. The McNAMARA was rescued from potential scrapping when Ford purchased her for $80,000 and spent $15,000 for renovation at AmShip's Toledo yard. J. P. MORGAN JR. arrived in Spain on November 8, 1980, for scrapping.

PETER A. B. WIDENER passed down the Welland Canal November 8, 1986, towed by the tugs TUSKER and GLENADA en route to Lauzon, Quebec. From there she was towed overseas for scrapping. When built, the PETER A. B. WIDENER and fleet mates J. PIERPONT MORGAN, NORMAN B. REAM and HENRY H. ROGERS were the first 600-footers built for the Pittsburgh Steamship Co. as "The Class of 1906."

On 08 Nov 1986, B. F. AFFLECK (steel propeller freighter, 588 foot, 7,964 gross tons, built in 1927, at Toledo, Ohio), under tow of the tug THUNDER CAPE, went adrift on Lake Superior in a storm after the tug lost power. The tug AVENGER IV was dispatched to pick up the AFFLECK, which was headed for scrap, and the tanker EASTERN SHELL towed the THUNDER CAPE to Thunder Bay for repairs.

BEN HUR, a wooden schooner-barge wrecker, 314 tons, built in 1874, at Dunville, Ontario, had been purchased for the job of salvaging the schooner M. E. TREMBLE. On 8 November 1890, she was at the job near Port Huron in the St. Clair River when she was rammed and sunk by the schooner-barge SUPERIOR which was being towed by the steamer PASSAIC. BEN HUR settled on top of the schooner she was attempting to salvage and a lighter-scow she was using also went down with her.

On 8 November 1877, the bark GREAT WEST was carrying 262,000 feet of lumber from Caseville to Chicago. Much of it was piled topside. In a big storm on Lake Michigan, she lost her deck load. She then became waterlogged and finally went ashore near Hyde Park, Illinois on 10 November. The crew were all saved.

On 8 November 1877, KATE L. BRUCE (3-mast wooden schooner, 307 tons, built in 1872, at Manitowoc, Wisconsin) was carrying wheat in tow of the tug JOHNSON when she was let go in heavy weather. She disappeared with all eight of her crew off Alpena, Michigan. A bureau containing her papers washed ashore in August 1878. The sunken wreck was discovered in 6 fathoms of water in Thunder Bay during the Autumn of 1879.

The forebody of the former CANADIAN EXPLORER arrived in Prescott on 05 Nov 2000, under tow of the Trois Rivieres tug DUGA. It remained there for three days. The previous March, it was reported that the hull was undergoing conversion to a 498-foot grain storage barge for Les Elevateurs des Trois Rivieres, Quebec. (The engine room portion of the former CANADIAN EXPLORER was mated to the forward section of the HAMILTON TRANSFER in 1998, and is now the CANADIAN TRANSFER.)

1981: EMERALD, the former LACHINEDOC, sank in the Persian Gulf during heavy weather while carrying steel mesh and aggregates. Nine members of the crew were missing while another three were rescued.

2007: SPIRIT OF NANTUCKET, the former NANTUCKET CLIPPER, struck an uncharted object in the Intercoastal Waterway and had to be beached. The ship was repaired at Norfolk, VA and resumed its journey to the Pacific for a new career as an Alaska cruise ship after earlier Great Lakes, St. Lawrence and East Coast service.

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


Lakes limestone trade down 8 percent in October

11/7 - Cleveland, Ohio – Shipments of limestone on the Great Lakes totaled 3.4 million tons in October, a decrease of 8 percent compared to a year ago. However, the trade was only 2 percent below the month’s 5-year average.

Shipments from U.S. ports totaled 2.9 million tons in October, a decrease of 6 percent compared to a year ago. Loadings out of Canadian quarries totaled 505,000 tons, 20 percent less than a year ago.

Lake Carriers’ Association


Great Lakes shipping slows along with iron ore

11/7 - Duluth, Minn. – Iron ore shipments on the Great Lakes are slowing down, and the consequences are evident throughout the industry. Ships already are being brought to berth for winter lay-up as iron ore shipments tailed off for the third-straight month in October.

Canadian National Railway Co., owners of the Great Lakes Fleet of ore carriers, furloughed about 40 employees at its Duluth Dock off 27th Avenue West because of declining ore volumes, said Patrick Waldron, CN spokesperson based in Montreal. CN previously had confirmed the worker reductions in October but hadn't released numbers until Thursday.

"Reductions in iron ore shipments from the Iron Range to CN's Duluth Dock have prompted workforce adjustments in the second half of the year to match the workforce to the workload in CN's iron ore supply chain," Waldron said in a statement to the News Tribune.

For the third month, iron ore shipments on the Great Lakes were down by more than 20 percent from the same month a year ago, according to the Lake Carriers' Association in its release of October's Great Lakes iron ore shipments.

"Minnesota's iron ore and steel producers can compete with anyone in the world when there's a level playing field," U.S. Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., said in a statement to the News Tribune on Thursday. "But with other countries dumping their steel into our markets at anti-competitive prices that field has tilted. Over the past year, several of our mining operations have been idled,‎ and hundreds of workers have been sidelined or laid off, taking a heavy toll on families and communities across the region. And now our Great Lakes shippers are being hurt as well."

October's iron ore shipments dipped to 5.3 million tons, a decrease of 23 percent from the same month in 2014. Iron ore shipping totals averaged 5.07 million tons for the three-month period from August to October, down from an average of 6.47 million tons from May to July. Ore shipments make up roughly half of the annual cargo totals on the Great Lakes. After a banner start to the year, the ore trade now stands at 44.4 million tons, a decrease of 6 percent compared to the same point in 2014.

Imported steel continues to be blamed for the slowdown.

An online view of marine shipping traffic shows the ore carrier Indiana Harbor already is laid up for the winter at Ogdensburg Pier in Superior. The Indiana Harbor belongs to the American Steamship Co. of Buffalo, N.Y., and its lay-up was confirmed by Tom Curelli, director of operations for Fraser Shipyards in Superior. During a normal season, ships wouldn't be expected to lay up until later in the winter, closer to the annual closing of the Soo Locks on Jan. 15.

"Cargoes have drained off a little bit," said Curelli.

The Indiana Harbor is not the only ship to lay up early, said Lake Carriers' Association vice president Glen Nekvasil, who would not confirm further details, saying the organization has adopted a new policy and no longer comments on its monthly tonnage reports.

Waldron would not confirm any Great Lakes Fleet lay-ups other than to say that "vessel schedules will be dictated by customer needs."

The state's federal legislators continue to speak out about the influx of foreign steel that is hampering the demand for domestic steel production.

"We can't let this continue," Franken said. "In the Senate, I pushed for a bill that is now law to help keep unfair trade practices in check, and I've called on the Commerce Department to take similar action. In addition, I've successfully pressed the Labor Department to ensure that workers hurt by these layoffs can get important education benefits and job training. Going forward, I'll be doing everything I can to help the Northland bounce back."

U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan, D-Crosby, on Thursday addressed the root problem of the domestic iron ore and steel crunch that is idling mines on the Iron Range and leading to slowdowns in shipping.

In talking about the long-awaited release of the text to the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, Nolan alluded to the foreign steel imports that are hurting domestic mining, shipping and steelmaking.

"It promises to send more good American jobs overseas, close more American manufacturing facilities, and facilitate the dumping of hundreds of millions of additional tons of low-grade, foreign government-subsidized steel and other knock-offs of American manufactured goods into the U.S. marketplace," Nolan said of the TPP — President Barack Obama's privately negotiated and potentially historic trade agreement between the United States and 11 Pacific Rim countries, Canada and Mexico that will come up for legislative vote in 2016.

"The effects on our Minnesota Iron Range mining industry, and on our already depressed domestic steel industry would be devastating," Nolan said of the TPP.

Duluth News Tribune


Muskegon's final coal freighter to arrive at channel Sunday afternoon

11/7 - Muskegon, Mich. – The final freighter to deliver coal to Muskegon will pass through the Muskegon channel about 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 8, according to Consumers Energy.

Consumers Energy's B.C. Cobb plant will shut down in April 2016, and the ship arriving Sunday will be the last to deliver coal to Muskegon after 67 years.

The 1,000-foot-long lake freighter James R. Barker of the Interlake Steamship Company is delivering 58,000 tons of low-sulphur Western coal to the Cobb Plant, the last coal shipment before the plant's closure. It was scheduled to load its coal shipment in Superior, Wis. Thursday night, Nov. 5.

Those wanting to get a last look at what has been a motif of Muskegon life should gather near the pier about 4 p.m., according to Consumers. The ship is tentatively expected to dock at the B. C. Cobb plant, at 151 N. Causeway, by 5:30 p.m. but is expected at the channel an hour and a half before that.

The public may visit and search for "James R. Barker" to see its current location. On Sunday, residents also may visit for real-time web cam shots of the Muskegon Channel to see the Barker's progress.

Weather permitting, two vessels from the Muskegon County Sheriff's Office Marine Patrol will escort the Barker from the channel to the Cobb Plant, according to Consumers. Media, representatives from Consumers Energy and local governmental leaders are expected to be aboard the boats.

At approximately 5:30 p.m., there will be a short program inside the Cobb Plant to recognize the final coal boat. While the general public is not invited to the plant for this event, a community open house is being planned for January 2016.

M Live


New Salties

11/7 - As of November 4, 57 foreign-flag freighters transited the St. Lawrence Seaway for the first time under their current name. They are the following ones:

Amurborg, Andesborg, Atlantic Patriot, BBC Alabama, BBC Kimberley, BBC Ohio, BBC Olympus, BBC Steinwall, Chemical Aquarius, Clipper Macau, Clipper Makiri, Erria Swan, Eva Schulte, Fagelgracht, Federal Baltic, Federal Barents, Federal Beaufort, Federal Bering, Foresight, Fortune, Gotland, Hanse Gate, Henda, HHL Tyne, HHL Volga, Houston, Industrial More, Jasmine C, Johanna C, Lena J, Lisanna, LS Evanne, Marbacan, Marbioko, Marsgracht, Med Arctic, Michelle C, Njord Clear, Nomadic Hjellestad, Nordana Emilie, Nordana Emma, Nordana Sarah, Onego Rotterdam, Pioneer, Princimar Equinox, Rodopi, Sally Ann C, Siva Rotterdam, Spavalda, Sten Baltic, Sunrose E, Swan Biscay, Taagborg, Thorco Clairvaux, Timber Navigator, Trinityborg And Umgeni.

No other new ones are expected in the near future. Last year’s total was 60.

Rene Beauchamp


2 Great Lakes shipping companies invest $1.5 million in Georgian marine facility

11/7 - Owen Sound, Ont. – Algoma Central Corporation and Lower Lakes Towing have come on board in support of Georgian College’s new Marine Emergency Duties Training and Research Centre.

Algoma, which owns and operates the largest Canadian flag fleet of dry-bulk carriers and product tankers operating on the Great Lakes – St. Lawrence Waterway, announced their $1-million donation on Friday at the campus in Owen Sound. A long-time supporter of Georgian’s marine programs, the Marine Emergency Duties Training and Research Centre will be named in the company’s honor.

“Marine Emergency Duties training is critical to our industry and we are pleased to help make this training available in Ontario, where it has been absent since 2013,” says Ken Bloch Soerensen, President and CEO, Algoma Central Corporation. “Fleet renewal has been a priority for our company but equally as important, we need to invest in training our current and future personnel to ensure our shipping operations flourish.”

The center will be used by students (cadets) enrolled in Georgian’s marine programs and by working mariners. They will take introductory and advanced courses in firefighting, survival craft, life raft and immersion suit training, as well as first aid. Marine Emergency Duties training is mandatory for everyone who works aboard ships and must be renewed every five years.

Captain Scott Bravener, president of Lower Lakes Towing and Grand River Navigation, is well acquainted with marine training at Georgian College as an alumnus of the Marine Technology – Navigation program. On behalf of the company that he co-founded with fellow Georgian alumni, Bravener announced Lower Lakes Towing will contribute $500,000 towards the development of the center.

“The addition of this center at Georgian’s Owen Sound Campus ensures shipping companies have a one-stop shop for quality marine programs and training in Ontario. I am proud to be able to return to my college and participate in this important project that will address our industry’s needs today and into the future,” says Bravener.

The common area in the center will be named in recognition of Lower Lakes Towing. The company is a subsidiary of Rand Logistics Inc., a leading provider of bulk freight shipping services throughout the Great Lakes region.

With these two gift announcements, Georgian has achieved its fundraising goal of $7.5 million to build the center and adjacent fire training facility. Construction on the center has started and it is scheduled to be completed by September 2016.

Georgian College


Tiny leak detected, sealed on sunken Lake Erie barge thought to be the Argo

11/7 - Cleveland, Ohio – A tiny hole leaking what could be oil into Lake Erie has been sealed on a sunken barge thought to be the Argo. The pinhole-sized leak was discovered Wednesday by a dive team in one of the cargo tanks, according to a U.S. Coast Guard news release Thursday. The leak was quickly sealed by the team.

Results from a sheen sample, a test used by the Coast Guard to detect substances in water, showed that the substance leaking from the barge "was typical of a light to medium refined oil that had significantly degraded over time," according to the release.

If the barge is determined to be the long-sought Argo, it may still hold around 126,000 gallons of oil in its hull. The Argo sunk in a storm in 1937.

An amateur shipwreck hunter, Tom Kowalczk, stumbled on the underwater wreck in August near Kelley's Island Shoal.

Officials have said any significant corrosion on the barge could spell out enormous environmental issues for not just Lake Erie, but all of the Great Lakes.

As a precautionary measure, crews working at the scene on Wednesday were taken to a local hospital for evaluation and later were released, the statement says. Surface inspections have been suspended, and a helicopter from the Coast Guard's Air Station Detroit conducted a fly-over assessment on Thursday.

The Coast Guard, which is working with the Ohio EPA, has established a "safety zone" eight miles east of Kelley's Island and extending 1,000 feet around the wreck. Vessels cannot enter or travel through the area without permission of a Coast Guard patrol commander under the ban is lifted, the release says.

Dive crews began examining the sunken barge on Monday, the release said. Twelve total hatches were discovered, and four of them were not secured. The remaining eight were secure, and no leaks were detected.

Sediment from open compartments was taken and sent for further testing, the release says.


Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor wins award after record year

11/7 - Portage, Ind. – So much cargo is flowing through the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor in Portage that it won an award.

The Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Seaway gave Indiana Gov. Mike Pence its top honor, the Robert J. Lewis Pacesetter Award, to recognize the surge of traffic through the deepwater port on Lake Michigan. The port has the most shipments, including a 35-percent increase in ocean vessels, in any year since it opened in 1970.

"The Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor plays a critical role in the Great Lakes Seaway System, and its strong performance reflects the increasing strength of the overall regional economy," U.S. Seaway Administrator Betty Sutton said. "Marine transportation remains a catalyst for jobs and productivity for the state of Indiana and throughout the entire Great Lakes region, North America's 'Opportunity Belt.' "

The port, which has won the award nine times before, generates an estimated $4.3 billion per year in economic impact. Economists believe it supports 32,000 total jobs, based on how the payroll of the workers there recirculates into the broader economy. Most recently, the port won a Pacesetter in 2011.

"The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River provide a vital transportation system for Indiana businesses and are an important gateway to global markets," Pence said.

"Our state relies heavily on Great Lakes shipping to deliver raw materials to our steel and manufacturing sectors, and on the St. Lawrence Seaway for connecting our businesses to the world. Looking forward, Indiana will continue to leverage our multimodal transportation systems for economic growth."

Shipments rose nearly 30 percent year-over-year last year because of increased tonnage of steel, grain and road salt.

"Indiana's maritime success is directly attributable to our location at the 'Crossroads of America,' our vast infrastructure for multiple transportation modes and the world-class companies that operate at our ports," said Rich Cooper, CEO for the Ports of Indiana. "This has been a winning combination that we will continue to build upon to ensure future growth and prosperity for our state and the regions where we operate."

NW Indiana Times


Lookback #720 – Former Iris sank in the Atlantic on Nov. 7, 1974

The West German freighter Iris first came to the Great Lakes in 1969. The ship was 11 years old at the time and was sailing under its third name.

The 375 foot, 1 inch long general cargo carrier was built at Lervik, Norway, and completed at a) Trolleggen in January 1958. The Norwegian-flag vessel was sold and renamed b) Alk in 1965, still Norwegian, and then became c) Iris in 1968. It was inland, on charter to Canadian Pacific, in 1969 and back for two more trips in 1971.

Another sale led to a final name of d) European Persistence, flag of Cyprus, in 1973. It was sailing as such when it lost, 510 miles southeast of Bermuda, 41 years ago today. The ship was en route from Tampa, Fla., to Venice, Italy, with a cargo of phosphate. All on board were rescued.

Skip Gillham


Today in Great Lakes History -  November 7

On 07 November 1871, M COURTRIGHT (wooden schooner, 276 tons, built in 1856, at Erie, Pennsylvania) was carrying lumber in a storm on Lake Michigan. She struck bottom after her anchor dragged. She then became waterlogged. The crew abandoned in the yawl. The vessel went ashore several miles south of Kenosha, Wisconsin. The revenue cutter ANDREW JOHNSON tried in vain to pull her free but couldn't. The COURTRIGHT broke up a few days later.

On 7 November 1852, ST LOUIS (wooden side-wheeler, 190 foot, 618 tons, built in 1844, at Perrysburg, Ohio) was carrying railroad cars when she capsized and sank in a gale off Kelley's Island on Lake Erie. She was owned by Beer & Samuel Ward.

On 07 Nov 1906, the Grand Trunk carferry GRAND HAVEN (steel carferry, 306 foot, 2,320 gross tons built in 1903, at Toledo, Ohio) was put up for sale at a receiver's auction when the Grand Trunk Car Ferry Line defaulted on its bonds. It was purchased by a new Grand Trunk subsidiary, the Grand Trunk Milwaukee Car Ferry Company. This vessel had a long career both on the Lakes and in the Caribbean. She was finally scrapped at Hamilton, Ontario in 1970.

The T-2 converted laker HILDA MARJANNE's 1961, German-built hull forward of the engine room, minus her pilot house, was towed by the tugs G W ROGERS and BAGOTVILLE to Port Weller Dry Docks arriving there on November 7, 1983. This section was to become part of the CANADIAN RANGER.

On November 7, 1989, the SAMUEL MATHER, a.) HENRY FORD II, was moved to Toledo's C & O Frog Pond on her way to the cutter's torch.

ARTHUR B HOMER (Hull#303) was launched November 7, 1959, for the Bethlehem Steel Corp., Cleveland, Ohio. She was the last ship built by Great Lakes Engineering at River Rouge, Michigan.

In 1902, BRANSFORD rammed and sank the tug RECORD with a loss of a tug crewman in the Portage Lake Ship Canal in Michigan's Keweenaw Peninsula. Renamed b.) JOHN H MC GEAN in 1916, and c.) CLIFFORD F. HOOD in 1943, the HOOD was scrapped in Bilbao, Spain in 1974.

On November 7, 1913, the storm responsible for sinking or damaging more vessels than any other began a six-day assault on the Great Lakes. The "Big Blow" of 1913, struck Lake Superior on November 7 and reached Lake Michigan by November 8, where the Pittsburgh Steamship Company vessel CLARENCE A. BLACK was severely damaged by the waves at the dock in Gary, Indiana.

On 7 November 1893, ALBANY (steel propeller package freighter, 267 foot, 1,918 gross tons, built in 1884, at Wyandotte, Michigan) collided with the iron freighter PHILADELPHIA in a thick fog. PHILADELPHIA took ALBANY in tow to try to save her, but she sank a few miles off Pointe aux Barques, Michigan. Her crew transferred to PHILADELPHIA, but they soon had to abandon her too since she also sank. Eight lives were lost, presumably when one of the lifeboats was run down by the still running, but abandoned, PHILADELPHIA.

On 7 November 1865, LILY DANCEY (2-mast wooden schooner, 92 foot, 132 gross tons built in 1856, at Goderich, Ontario) was carrying grain in a gale on Lake Huron when she was driven ashore near Port Elgin or Kincardine, Ontario. Her cargo was later recovered, but the schooner broke up by 27 November of that year.

CITY OF FLINT 32 ran aground at Manitowoc, Wisconsin in 1947.

1885: ALGOMA hit Greenstone Rock off Isle Royale, Lake Superior and became a total loss. There were 46 casualties and only 16 on board were saved.

1887: OSCEOLA ran aground on Flat Rock Reef, Saginaw Bay, and all on board were rescued. The ship was abandoned as a total loss in December but refloated in the spring of 1888 and rebuilt.

1910: WASAGA caught fire and burned off Copper Harbor while seeking shelter in a storm, but all on board survived.

1921: ARAGON stranded off Salmon Point, Lake Ontario. It was released the following year but declared a total loss. The hull was sold and rebuilt and last sailed as BAYANNA in 1962.

1921: The wooden schooner barge MARY E. McLAUCHLAN sank in a storm on Nipigon Bay, Lake Superior.

1947: WILLIAM C. WARREN ran aground near Presque Isle Point, Lake Huron, while downbound with grain and had to be abandoned to the underwriters. It was not released until the following year.

1969: The Norwegian tanker CATE BROVIG hit the wall while upbound at the Eisenhower Lock and had a hole punched in the hull. The vessel was headed for Duluth. The ship first came inland in 1959 and was scrapped at Split, Yugoslavia as c) STAVROS T. in 1976.

1974: IRIS had come to the Great Lakes in 1969 and 1971. It sank as d) EUROPEAN PERSISTENCE while 510 miles southeast of Bermuda after developing leaks while enroute from Tampa to Venice. All on board were rescued.

1991: The former Swedish freighter FALKON, a first time Seaway trader in 1984, sank as c) APPOLONIA FAITH off the southwest coast of Sardinia while traveling from Valencia, Spain, to Piraeus, Greece. Two lives were lost.

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


Lakes iron ore trade down 23 percent in October

11/5 - Cleveland, Ohio – Shipments of iron ore on the Great Lakes totaled 5.3 million tons in October, a decrease of 23 percent compared to a year ago. Shipments were down 9 percent from the month’s 5-year average.

Loadings at U.S. ports totaled 4.6 million tons in October, a decrease of 27.4 percent compared to a year ago. Shipments from Canadian ports totaled 725,000 tons, an increase of 24 percent.

Through October, the Lakes/Seaway ore trade stands at 44.4 million tons, a decrease of 6 percent compared to the same point in 2014. Shipments are down 6.6 percent compared to the 5-year average for the January-October timeframe. Loadings at U.S. ports are down 9.6 percent compared to the corresponding period last year. Shipments from Canadian ports are up 29 percent.

Lake Carriers’ Association


Big tariffs to be imposed on Chinese steel

11/5 - After thousands of layoffs, idled mills, huge steelworker rallies and three separate trade cases, the federal government is going to start cracking down on imported steel.

The U.S. Department of Commerce made a preliminary determination that corrosion-resistant steel products from China, India, Italy and South Korea are getting government subsidies that are illegal under international trade laws. The U.S. government will start imposing tariffs as high as 235.66 percent in the case of China.

"AK Steel is pleased that the Commerce Department has made a preliminary ruling that imports of corrosion-resistant steel are being unfairly subsidized," AK Steel President and Chief Executive Officer James Wainscott said in a statement.

"These determinations are an important step in ensuring that our foreign competitors play by the rules of fair trade. Action is urgently needed to counteract the significant injury that is being caused by unfairly traded imports."

The domestic steel industry suffered a painful contraction in the spring and filed a trade case in June. Major domestic manufacturers, including ArcelorMittal USA and U.S. Steel, filed complaints against nearly every major importer of corrosion-resistant, hot-rolled and cold-rolled steel after imports market share hit a record 28 percent last year and rose even higher in 2015.

In the corrosion-resistant case, the Commerce Department found against every major steel importer except Taiwan. The ruling was that Taiwan got subsidies of less than 1 percent, exempting it from tariffs. The hot-rolled and cold-rolled cases are being pursued separately.

A final ruling on corrosion-resistant imports is expected around Dec. 21. Duties could apply retroactively through Aug. 4.

Imports have gobbled up 30 percent of market share and also caused flat-rolled prices to fall by $20 per ton in the third quarter, largely because China is dumping steel internationally for an average of $75 less than what it costs to make.

NWIndiana Times


Port Reports -  November 6

Toledo, Ohio
Algosea has entered the drydock at Ironhead Marine. The Detroit Princess tour boat is in the small dry dock for 5 year survey.

Lorain, Ohio – Phil Leon
Algoway was at dock #3 on Thursday. She left at 12:15 p.m.

Buffalo, N.Y. – Brian W.
English River was unloading at LaFarge Thursday evening.


40 years later, Edmund Fitzgerald remains a mystery

11/5 - It has been called the “Titanic of the Great Lakes” and ranks among the most famous shipwrecks in American history. Nearly 40 years after the “Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” the legend lives on and continues to intrigue the public.

Even for those too young to remember the 1975 Michigan maritime disaster, Gordon Lightfoot’s haunting ballad immortalized the Nov. 10 tragedy when “the gales of November” came early and the massive freighter sank in Lake Superior with all 29 crewmen aboard.

The sudden disappearance of the 729-foot ore carrier — the “Queen of the Great Lakes” — confounded experts four decades ago. And, despite a flood of official reports, underwater investigations and theories (including UFO’s and space aliens), it’s still a mystery today.

“In my research, every shipwreck is invariably caused by a chain of circumstances,” says Great Lakes historian Frederick Stonehouse of Marquette, author of “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald: 40th Anniversary Edition” (Avery Color Studios, $17.95). “Forty years later and no one can definitively say why the Fitzgerald sank – it remains an open question.”

As part of next week’s 40th anniversary observances, Stonehouse will speak at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the annual Edmund Fitzgerald memorial ceremony in the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum at Whitefish Point. An overflow crowd of some 200 is expected at the Upper Peninsula museum, located 17 miles from where the ship, broken in two pieces, rests in its watery grave, 535 feet below Lake Superior’s surface.

About two-dozen relatives of the Fitzgerald’s crew, including extended family from as far away as South Carolina, plan to attend the public service and traditional “Call to the Last Watch Ceremony.” The Fitzgerald’s restored bronze bell — retrieved from the shipwreck in 1995 — will toll 29 times for the missing crewmen plus a 30th time to honor all the estimated 30,000 mariners lost on the Great Lakes.

In his latest book, Stonehouse lays out the myriad theories surrounding the Fitzgerald disaster, including unsecured hatch covers, deferred maintenance, a trio of 30-foot-plus rogue waves known as “Three Sisters,” and the notion that the ship either was structurally unsound or off course.

“Others have talked about space aliens that supposedly were seen on the northern shore of the lake,” Stonehouse said dismissively in a recent telephone interview with The Detroit News.

After years of research, he’s inclined to believe that the ship likely hit a shoal and took on dangerous amounts of water even as it was buffeted by hurricane-force winds and blinding snow squalls. Stonehouse said he came to that conclusion gradually, based on conversations with Capt. Bernie Cooper, who was the last to speak to the Fitzgerald’s captain. Cooper’s ship, the Arthur M. Anderson, was closest to the Fitzgerald during the treacherous storm.

“In my mind and if I were to put money on it, she probably hit Caribou Shoal,” Stonehouse said, emphasizing, however, that there’s no proof of that. “She bottomed out and continued forward for a while before the damage finally broke her up. The damage, in combination with the extreme storm, caused the ship to dive to the bottom.”

Commemorative events

Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum A 40th anniversary observance begins at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the main gallery of the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum at Whitefish Point in U.P. A “live feed” will be shown at several sites on the museum campus. Go to; (906) 492-3747.

Dossin Great Lakes Museum on Belle Isle A sellout crowd of more than 150 is expected for the annual “Lost Mariners Remembrance,” beginning at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Edmund Fitzgerald anchor outside of the museum at 100 Strand Drive, Belle Isle, Detroit, 48207. The anchor, which was lost in the Detroit River years before the fatal voyage, was retrieved in 1992. Great Lakes balladeer Lee Murdock will perform. Go to; (313) 833-1801.

Mariner’s Church in Detroit The annual Great Lakes Memorial Service and bell-ringing, honoring the Edmund Fitzgerald crew and all lost Great Lakes mariners, will be held at 11 a.m. Sunday, at the church, 170 E. Jefferson Ave, Detroit, 48226. Go to; (313) 259-2206.

Fitzgerald trivia from the book: The Fitzgerald was bound for Detroit with 26,116 tons of taconite pellets — enough to produce approximately 7,500 automobiles (1975 size). Since entering service in 1958, the ship completed 748 trips covering more than one million miles and hauling an estimated 19 million tons of taconite.

Detroit News


Duluth Seaway Port Authority names new facilities manager

Duluth, Minn. – The Duluth Seaway Port Authority has named Jason Paulson as its new facilities manager. He will serve as a liaison with tenants, service and governmental agencies, private contractors and other property users to derive maximum safe and efficient use of Port Authority-owned land, structures, facilities, equipment and other assets.

Paulson stepped into his new role on Nov. 5. Most recently, he was operations manager at Lake Superior Warehousing (LSW), overseeing cargo loading and vessel discharge on the docks and managing warehouse operations on the Clure Public Marine Terminal.

Prior to his eight years at LSW, Paulson served as operations manager/trainmaster with the Union Pacific and CN-IC Railroad. Earlier in his career (and throughout college), he was a land surveyor and GIS analyst with Livgard Surveying, Inc. The former U.S. Marine Corps officer and naval aviator graduated with honors from the University of Minnesota Duluth with a double major in history and political science.

Duluth Seaway Port Authority


Lookback #719 – Charles R. Huntley hit by a storm off Halifax on Nov. 6, 1990

Of all the canal-sized ships to gain a reprieve with the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway, few had a later career that could match that of the Charles R. Huntley.

The vessel had been built by Napier & Miler and was launched at Glasgow, Scotland, on Feb. 12, 1926. The 1,760 gross ton bulk carrier soon left for the Great Lakes and service in the canal trades for the Eastern Steamship Co. It sailed on their behalf until joining the Upper Lakes & St. Lawrence Transportation Co. in 1936.

During the summer of 1942, the Charles R. Huntley carried supplies from Montreal to bases around Newfoundland and Labrador and later carried coal to power plants along the U.S. east coast.

After being laid up at Toronto, the ship was sold to McNamara Marine in 1960 and converted to a dredge. It initially saw work at Toronto and Hamilton as well as down the St. Lawrence and around the Maritime Canada.

Charles R. Huntley was well used and repowered. It was one of the ships used in the large North Traverse Project on the St. Lawrence in 1971-1974 and had several subsequent owners. It even went south for work on the Caribbean in 1989-1990.

It was 25 years ago today that the Charles R. Huntley was mauled by a storm off Halifax. Three crewmembers were airlifted to safety and additional pumps were dropped to cope with water that was coming aboard faster than it could be discharged. Fortunately, the ship was able to reach Halifax the next day and the vessel's damage was repaired.

The early 1990s were not kind and the Charles R. Huntley was often idle. It was resold to Verreault Navigation in 1993 and renamed B.V. Rayna. The ship was rebuilt with a new pilothouse and saw additional service on the St. Lawrence through 1994.

After that, the vessel was idle at Matane, QC and was gradually broken up there about 2003, 77 years after being built, and 13 years after the frightening battle with the Atlantic storm of Nov. 6, 1990.

Skip Gillham


Today in Great Lakes History -  November 6

On 06 November 1880, the W. R. HANNA (2-mast scow-schooner, 86 foot, 103 gross tons, built in 1857), carrying 1,600 tamarack railroad ties to Toledo, sank in Lake Huron in a snowstorm. She sprang a leak off Pointe aux Barques and filled so fast that the pump was of no use. She broached to and rolled over when about 5 miles north of Sand Beach, Michigan, (now Harbor Beach). s the sun set the snow storm turned into a blizzard. The icy waves swept over the hull while the crew clung on as best they could. Four hours later, they drifted past Sand Beach, not 500 feet from the breakwater. They shouted for help, saw lights moving here and there on the breakwater, but no help came. When the wind shifted and started to blow the vessel out into the lake, the skipper cut away the weather lanyards and the vessel righted herself and they dropped the anchor. The weather was freezing cold; and there was no dry place left. The cabin was gone and the only spot out of water was on one side forward - a space about four feet wide by ten feet long. The waves kept washing over the waterlogged vessel, drenching the crew. The crew survived through the night. Heavy snow kept falling, cutting visibility to almost zero. Finally, at 10 a.m., the following morning, the storm broke and the propeller H. LUELLA WORTHINGTON (wooden propeller freighter, 148 foot, 375 gross tons, built in 1880, at Lorain, Ohio), which was in the harbor, saw the wreck and rescued the crew. The skipper of the WORTHINGTON stated that he had heard the cries of the crew throughout the night, but couldn't navigate in the blinding snowstorm. He was awake all night waiting for the storm to break so he could rescue the crew.

On 06 November 1867, ALBEMARLE (3-mast wooden schooner, 154 foot, 413 gross tons, built in 1867, at Buffalo, New York) was carrying iron ore from Escanaba, Michigan, to Cleveland, Ohio in a storm when she stranded and wrecked near Point Nipigon in the Straits of Mackinac. This was her first year of operation. She had been put into service just the previous July.

The US266029, a.) WILLIAM CLAY FORD was towed from Nicholson's River Rouge dock November 6, 1986, by tugs TUSKER and GLENADA to Port Maitland, Ontario for scrapping.

On November 6, 1913, the J. H. SHEADLE left Fort William, Ontario bound for Erie, Pennsylvania, with grain and encountered fog, gale winds and a snow blizzard in one of the fiercest storms of the century.

On November 6, 1925, the Northern Navigation passenger steamer HAMONIC lost her propeller 20 miles west of Caribou Island in Lake Superior and was wallowing in gale force winds with gusts to 80 m.p.h. She was towed to safety by Pittsburgh Steamship Co.’s RICHARD TRIMBLE.

On 06 Nov 1985, Desguaces Heme began scrapping the LEON FALK, JR. in Gijon, Spain. This vessel was built in Chester, Pennsylvania, in 1945, as the tanker a.) WINTER HILL, (504 foot, 10,534 gross tons) and then was converted to a 710 foot, 12,501 gross ton bulk freighter in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1960-61.

On 6 November 1872, the wooden propeller tug MILDRED, while towing a vessel out of Alpena, Michigan, had her engine fail. Soon she was in trouble and sank. The crew was saved.

On 6 November 1827, ANN (wooden schooner, 53 foot, 58 tons, built in 1819, or 1821, at Black River, Ohio) was carrying salt, general merchandise and passengers when she was driven ashore on Long Point almost opposite Erie, Pennsylvania. 7 Lives were lost, including 5 passengers. 6 survived.

In 1912, the Pere Marquette Railroad announced plans to build a new roundhouse at Ludington, Michigan. It still stands today.

On 6 November 1874, The Port Huron Times listed the following vessels lost in the month of October and in the first week of November of that year: Propellers - BROOKLYN, FRANKFORT, NEW YORK; tug DOUGLAS; schooners - CITY OF PAINSVILLE, WANDERER, PREBLE, THOS S MOTT; and barges - CLIFTON and SHERMAN.

On 6 November 1883, GUIDING STAR (3-mast wooden schooner, 139 foot, 324 tons, built in 1869, at Oswego, New York) was carrying coal to Milwaukee in fog when she went ashore 12 miles north of Milwaukee. Four of the crew made it to shore in the yawl, but it was wrecked in the process. The rest of the crew was finally rescued by the Milwaukee Lifesavers.

Crews began painting the hull of the SAGINAW (formerly JOHN J. BOLAND) in the colors of Lower Lakes Towing Ltd. (gray) on 06 Nov 1999, at Sarnia, Ontario. The vessel had recently been purchased from American Steamship Co. Inside the vessel, crews were gutting the living quarters to remove asbestos and add fireproof walls and new flooring. The engine room equipment and the unloading gear were also refurbished.

On November 6, 1897, the Minnesota Steamship boat MARIPOSA (steel, 348', 2898 gross tons, built in 1892, Globe Iron Works, Cleveland, Ohio) under the command of Capt. Frank Root, rescued the two remaining survivors of the wreck of the package freighter IDAHO (wooden package freighter, 220', 915 gross tons, built in 1863, Peck & Masters, Cleveland, Ohio.) off Long Point, Ontario on Lake Erie. The MARIPOSA'S first mate, Capt. Myron K. Chamberlain, had sighted the two Idaho survivors clinging to the 100' spar of the sunken IDAHO. Gale winds and seas of 12'-15' overtook the IDAHO taking with it to their deaths 19 crewmen including Captain Alexander Gillies. "In what is considered one of the greatest accomplishments of ship handling and rescue by a major Great Lakes vessel,” Capt. Root and his crewmen were able to turn the MARIPOSA around ("rolling her rails under") three times in the midst of a gale, bringing their vessel right up to the spar where IDAHO Second Mate Louis LaForce Jr. and Deckhand William Gill were pulled "half dead" on board the MARIPOSA by the officers and deck crew. Both LaForce & Gill recovered. An appreciative City of Buffalo, (hometown to most of the IDAHO crew), and the Minnesota Steamship Company awarded Capt. Root a gold watch, and instructed him to award his first mate and chief engineer each an extra month's pay, and the MARIPOSA crew each an extra half month's pay for a job well done.

At 10 p.m. on November 6, 1975 the newly refurbished sidewheel ferry TRILLIUM was towed from the drydock at Ramey's Bend, Ontario, down the Welland Canal by the Canada Dredge & Dock tugs G. W. Rogers and BAGOTVILLE, arriving at Toronto on early on a foggy November 7.

1918: CHESTER A. CONGDON cleared Fort William with grain and stranded on Canoe Rock, Isle Royale in rough weather and poor visibility. The crew was rescued but the ship broke up and was listed as the first $1 million dollar loss in Great Lakes’ history.

1928: A.W. THOMPSON served as a Great Lakes consort barge before going to the Atlantic in 1918. The vessel foundered 60 miles south of Brunswick, GA, enroute from Wilmington, DE to a Gulf of Mexico port.

1968: OAK HILL visited the Great Lakes for seven trips in 1961-1962. It arrived at Singapore under tow as c) AGENOR on this date with leaking in the engine room while on a delivery trip to Chinese shipbreakers at Whampoa. The vessel was resold for scrapping in Singapore.

1969: REINHART LORENZ RUSS made 22 trips through the Seaway from 1960 through 1966. It sank as b) NAIS one mile off Raffles Light, Singapore, after a collision with the Norwegian tanker BERGEBRAGD (68/80,003) and one life was lost.

1981: LA LOMA, an early and frequent Seaway trader, arrived at Cape Town, South Africa, with hull damage as e) AEGEAN SUN. The ship was traveling from China to Abidjan, Ivory Coast. It was assessed as beyond economical repair and laid up at Mombasa. The vessel was eventually sold to Pakistani shipbreakers and arrived at Gadani Beach under tow on April 18, 1985, for dismantling.

1983: EVA MARIA C., a Seaway caller in 1976, developed leaks as c) LAGADA BEACH and sank about 200 miles northeast of Aden. The vessel was enroute to Bandar Abbas, Iran, with iron and steel products.

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


Boblo boat Ste. Claire moved to new dock

SUPERIORSTECLAIREb06110415mn.jpg (174906 bytes)11/5 - Detroit, Mich. – A more than 100-year-old vessel that once carried passengers from Detroit to Boblo Island was moved Wednesday morning.

The 105-year-old steamer Ste. Claire was towed by the tugs Colorado and Superior from her longtime dock in Ecorse to Detroit. It is now moored at the Detroit Lime Dock just south of the Dix Avenue Bridge in the Rouge River.

Restoration work will continue at the new location, according to Dr. Ron Kattoo, who bought the deteriorating boat in 2007.

Mike Nicholls


Iron ore shipments down; future bleak

11/5 - Iron ore shipments on the Great Lakes were considerably down in September, which is not at all surprising considering some Iron Range taconite plant operations are also temporarily offline. The Lake Carriers’ Association reports that September shipping of 5.6 million tons of iron ore was 20 percent below September 2014.

“We’re off more in the iron ore commodities end,” said Adele Yorde of the Duluth Seaway Port Authority.

September is typically the time of year when shipping of iron ore into the lower Great Lakes is at a high level. Steelmakers can then get through the winter break in shipping when the Soo Locks close for two to three months. But not this year.

“This would be the time where they’d be building inventories on the lower lakes and we’re just not seeing that really high demand that we have in other years this time of year,” said Yorde.

State and federal lawmakers say illegally subsidized steel in the U.S. market is a big cause for the iron ore and steel woes.

“Part of the reason for the dumping is that the economies of, like, in China have slowed down, so China isn’t using steel and instead they’re sending it and dumping it,” said U.S. Sen. Al Franken.

In March of this year, at the annual State of Steel hearing, chief executives from the U.S. leading steel companies told members of Congress that the government needs to get serious about enforcing its trade laws in order to save steel jobs.

But so far it’s been all talk and no real action from the Obama administration and Congress. Yorde says, “Once the country and the global commodity situation gets figured out in terms of trade agreements, then we can stop the inflow of those foreign steel products.”

Meanwhile, industrial metals and mining was the worst performing sector in London last week, as angst about China’s slowdown swung back into focus.

Led by mining giants Anglo American, Antofagasta, BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto, the sector crumbled by a weighty 10.25 percent by late last Tuesday afternoon.

Traders and investors fear a longer-lasting slump in copper and iron ore prices as a result of deceleration in China’s domestic steel use and increasing production from Australia.

Ratings agency Moodys took a dim view of the sector, offering a dreary outlook for base metals with a weak outlook for the sector as a whole on the basis of slowing growth in both China and Brazil, muted conditions in Europe and weak recovery in the U.S.

Furthermore, after a second recent trip to China, analysts at Exane BNP Paribas said, “The outlook for steel and steelmaking raw materials looks even more dreadful as there is no evidence of production cuts commensurate with the excess capacity.”

Mesabi Daily News


U.S. Steel plants are on a layoff spree. Here’s why

11/5 - Washington, D.C. – For those who find the idea of a rapidly growing China to be cause for concern – because with economic size comes political and military power – the news that its meteoric rise is leveling off might be welcome. But for a lesson in how the global economy works in sometimes unexpected ways, consider what that's doing to steelworkers across the South and Midwest.

According to a Wall Street Journal article, the problem isn't just that China's economy is cooling off. It's also that its state-owned steel mills, which produce as much steel as the rest of the world combined, haven't slowed down to match demand. Rather, China's mills have stayed in high gear, which means the rest of the world has been flooded with cheap Chinese steel, with U.S. imports rising 68 percent last year alone.

Imports of steel have been on the rise for years now, contributing to a long decline in industry employment and perennial calls for trade sanctions against overseas competitors that U.S. producers suspect are keeping prices artificially low. A surging dollar and plunging energy prices have made this situation even worse.

Now, with consumption slowing in China, real downsizing has begun. U.S. Steel, the 13th-largest steel producer in the world, has been on a pink slip spree, idling plants and cutting staff as part of an "ongoing adjustment" to accommodate for lower demand. So far this year, it's laid off workers in Alabama, Texas, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois, amounting to a few thousand out of its 23,000 employees in North America.

U.S. Steel, the largest business enterprise in the world when it launched in 1901, suspected this might be coming. "Steel production capability, especially in China, now appears to be well in excess of home market demand," the company wrote in its most recent disclosure for investors. "Any excess Chinese supply could have a major impact on world steel trade and prices as excess and subsidized production is exported to other markets."

What can the steel industry do about this? Basically the same thing it's done for years: Ask the federal government to investigate whether China's steel sales qualify as "dumping," or selling into a market at below-market value, which would allow the United States to place duties on Chinese exports. The American Iron and Steel Institute's annual policy agenda also made the case for laws that strengthen tariff enforcement and trade agreements that crack down on currency manipulation that makes foreign goods even cheaper, a tactic that the Obama administration has steadfastly refused to consider.

All of these processes take a long time, though. In the meantime, laid-off workers will have to figure out something else.

Washington Post


Port Reports -  November 5

Munising, Mich. – Tom Train
American Mariner was unloading Wednesday morning. It departed around 1:30 p.m.

Alpena, Mich. – Ben & Chanda McClain
Vessel activity at Lafarge has been fairly steady this week. The tug Defiance and barge Ashtabula arrived Monday morning to unload coal. The tug G.L Ostrander and barge Integrity made its way into port Monday morning as well to load cement. Also waiting for dock space was the Alpena, coming in during the evening on Monday. On Tuesday night the tug Salvor and a barge tied up at Lafarge. Equipment unloaded cargo from the barge throughout the day on Wednesday. The Alpena departed Wednesday evening after waiting to load product. The tug Ann Marie and several barges were tied up in the river near the NOAA building on Oct. 27.

Goderich, Ont.
Reports indicate the CSL bulk carrier Cedarglen is fitting out, possibly to enter the grain trade. She has been laid up since spring.


Lake Superior drops to near average

11/5 - Duluth, Minn. – The water level of Lake Superior dropped 3.5 inches in October, a month it usually drops one inch, thanks to lower than normal water supplies, including rainfall and river flow.

The lake now sits 4 inches above its normal level for Nov. 1 but 5 inches below the level at this time last year.

Lakes Huron-Michigan also received below normal water supply in October and dropped 4 inches, compared to the usual 3-inch drop. The lakes now sit 6 inches above normal for Nov. 1 but just a half-inch above the level at this time last year.

Duluth News Tribune


No oil leak found in sunken barge at bottom of Lake Erie

11/5 - Toledo, Ohio – The U.S. Coast Guard says divers haven’t located any active oil leaks from a barge that is believed to have sunk in Lake Erie in 1937. But underwater contractors did find four open hatches on the wreckage near the U.S.-Canadian border.

Coast Guard crews began monitoring the site after a petroleum-based solvent was spotted on the surface late last month. The substance was believed to be coming from the barge, which is on a federal registry of the most serious pollution threats to U.S. waters.

The Coast Guard says tests on water samples show that the substance is a light to medium oil. Divers completed their first check of the barge earlier this week. The Coast Guard says it’s now waiting on test results from sediment taken from around the open hatches.



Lookback #718 – Former Canadian Trader left Seattle on Nov. 5, 1928, and was not seen again

The first Canadian Trader was built in Ontario at the Port Arthur shipyard as Hull 39. It was launched for the Government of Canada on May 5, 1919, and delivered to them on July 18 of that year.

The 261 foot long vessel cost a reported $684,905 and went to work under the management of Canadian Trader Ltd. of Toronto.

The vessel was sold in 1925 and renamed b) Emperor of Montreal. As such, it saw Great Lakes service in 1925-1927 as well as some trading on saltwater routes. The ship was resold to Italian interests in 1927 and renamed c) Gilda Scuderi with registry in Genoa. It was later transferred to Scuderi Motors of New York and then sold to Sakama Daichero of Japan at the end of 1928.

Gilda Scuderi loaded scrap iron at Houston, Texas, and then sailed for Kobe, Japan, on the delivery voyage. The ship required a stop at Seattle, Wash., for fuel and repairs before heading across the Pacific for a new career in the Far East.

The freighter departed Seattle 87 years ago today and was not seen again. Gilda Scuderi is listed as lost with all hands, a total of 34 sailors, somewhere on the Pacific.

Skip Gillham


Today in Great Lakes History -  November 5

At 2 a.m. 05 November 1884, the steamer GRACE GRUMMOND (iron side-wheel excursion steamer, 138 foot, 250 tons, built in 1856, at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, as the survey steamer JEFFERSON DAVIS, specifically for the survey of the Great Lakes) burned at Grand Haven, Michigan. Her cargo of apples, pears and potatoes was also destroyed. No lives were lost. After the fire she was towed to Chicago to lay up until it was decided what to do with her. It is not known if she ever operated as a steamer again, but in 1887, she was rebuilt as a schooner at Milwaukee. She was one of the only sizable iron-hulled schooners ever used on the lakes. In 1904, as a tow-barge, she was sold Canadian and renamed BALTIC (C.116760). She was later used as a breakwater at Clear Creek, Ontario and was finally scrapped in 1939.

On 05 November 1852, BUCKEYE STATE (3-mast wooden bark, 132 foot, 310 tons, built in 1852, at Black River, Ohio) stranded off S. Milwaukee Point on Lake Michigan in a storm and was then broken up by waves. This was her first year of operation and she had been in service less than three months.

LOUIS R. DESMARAIS cleared Owen Sound, Ontario on her maiden voyage November 5, 1977, bound for Thunder Bay, Ontario, to load 27,117 gross tons of iron ore for Stelco at Hamilton, Ontario. Her forward end was replaced at Port Weller in 2001, and renamed b.) CSL LAURENTIEN.

On her final trip, the IRVIN L. CLYMER passed up bound at the Soo on November 5, 1990, and arrived at Duluth two days later to unload limestone at the Hallet Dock #5, after which she moved to her final lay-up berth at Fraser Shipyard and tied up, blowing one last three long and two short salute from her whistle. In 1993, she was sold to Azcon Corp. of Duluth, Minnesota for scrapping.

GRAND HAVEN was raised on November 5, 1969, from the Old River Bed, where she sank on September 19, 1969. She was raised for scrapping.

Mr. J. W. Isherwood visited the Great Lakes Engineering Works shipyard on November 5, 1910, and personally inspected the hull which was being built according to his patented design. This vessel, the WILLIAM P. PALMER, was the first vessel on the Great Lakes built to the Isherwood system of longitudinal framing.

On 05 Nov 1917, a foggy and rainy day, the JAMES S. DUNHAM (steel propeller bulk freighter, 420 foot, 4,795 gross tons, built in 1906, at W. Bay City, Michigan) sank in a collision with the steamer ROBERT FULTON (steel propeller bulk freighter, 424 foot, 4,219 gross tons, built 1896, at Wyandotte, Michigan) just below Grassy Island on the Detroit River. Repairs for both vessels totaled $125,000.

On 5 November 1896, ACADIA (iron-framed wooden propeller, 176 foot, built in 1867, at Hamilton, Ontario) was driven ashore and broke up in a gale near the mouth of the Michipicoten River in Lake Superior. Her crew made it to shore and five of them spent more than a week trying to make it to the Soo.

The Port Huron Times of 5 November 1878: "The schooner J. P. MARCH is reported lost with all on board. She was lost at Little Traverse Bay on the northern shore of Lake Michigan. The MARCH was a three-masted schooner and was owned by Benton & Pierce of Chicago."

On 5 November 1838, TOLEDO (2-mast wooden schooner, 98 foot, 215 tons, built in 1836, at Buffalo) was carrying dry goods valued at more than $100,000 up-bound on Lake Erie when she was driven ashore by a gale a half mile east of the mouth of the Grand River. She broke in two. No lives were lost.

On 5 November 1869, TITAN (wooden schooner, 132 foot, 361 gross tons, built in 1856, at Oswego, New York) was carrying 17,500 bushels of wheat on Lake Michigan in a terrific gale. She was driven toward shore. Her anchors were dropped as she came close in and they held for about an hour. However, the ship finally dragged ashore, losing both of her masts and breaking up as she struck. Of the nine on board, only one survived and that one was found crawling along the beach in a dazed state. When she was new, TITAN broke the record by completing the trip from Chicago to Oswego in only 8 days and 4 hours. Her record only lasted one day since the schooner SURPRISE broke it by 6 hours the following day.

In the summer of 1875, the propeller EAST ran down and sank the tug JOE MAC, not even pausing to save her crew from drowning. The following winter Messrs. Seymour & Co., owners of the JOE MAC, obtained a judgment in a U.S. Court against the owners of the EAST. Since the EAST was a Canadian vessel, they were unable to seize her because the judgment could only be effected in American waters. On Sunday morning, 05 Nov 1876, the steam tug SEYMOUR, with a United States Marshal and posse on board, proceeded up to Allen's (presumably at Ogdensburg, New York), and there lay in wait for the EAST, which went up by the Crossover light channel into American waters. The SEYMOUR ran out and captured the vessel and brought her to Averell's wharf in U.S. waters to await justice.

CALCITE II arrived in Sarnia at 6 a.m. on Sunday, 05 Nov. 2000, for lay-up. After leaving Cleveland the previous day, she anchored in Western Lake Erie, so she could arrive at the North Slip in Sarnia when shoreside personnel would be on-hand to assist. A chartered bus from Rogers City left about noon to take many of the crew home. Around 4:10 p.m., the downbound MYRON C. TAYLOR passed her fleetmate CALCITE II, perhaps for the last time in USS Great Lakes Fleet colors, and she blew her sister an extended 3 long and 2 short master salute. The TAYLOR was bound for Cleveland with a load of stone.

1885: The Canadian Pacific passenger and freight steamer ALGOMA cleared Owen Sound on its final trip with 11 passengers and headed for the Canadian Lakehead.

1897: IDAHO departed Buffalo and was caught in a wild storm on Lake Erie. The wooden passenger and freight carrier fell into the trough and only two survived. They had climbed the mast and were plucked from the crow's nest the next morning in a heroic effort by the crew of the MARIPOSA.

1940: SPARTA was wrecked near the Pictured Rocks after stranding on a reef in a heavy gale. The hull was abandoned on November 11 but salvaged in 1941 and never repaired.

1957: The Finnish freighter KORSO struck a drifting World War Two mine off Cape Mondjego, Portugal, and sank as a belated casualty of the conflict. The vessel had been built at Kingston, ON in 1942 as H.M.C.S. IRONBOUND and converted for mercantile use in 1948.

1962: EDWIN REITH, a West German salty, grounded near Tibbetts Point, Lake Ontario, and had to be lightered to P.S. BARGE NO. 1. It was released and came to Toronto to unload on November 14.

1967: The Canadian laker MOHAWK DEER, enroute to La Spezia, Italy, for scrapping, ran aground in the Gulf of Genoa near Portofino, Italy, and sank the next day.

1987: CATHARINA WIARDS sank in the Red Sea as d) TRADER after the engine room flooded during a voyage from Augusta, Italy, to China. The vessel was a year old when it came through the Seaway for the first time in 1970.

1991: OLYMPIC PEACE, a Seaway trader for the first time in 1976, arrived at Piraeus, Greece, with damage to the main engine cooling system as c) FREE PEACE. It was later seized by Banco-Hellenique and sold at auction. The ship was scrapped in China during 1994 as e) PATMOS I.

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


Former Bob-Lo boat on the move

11/4 - Detroit - The Str. Ste Claire is now at the old Detroit Lime Dock at the Dix Avenue Bridge in the Rouge River. She was moved Wednesday morning by the G tugs Colorado and Superior. The is believed to be the first time a Bob-Lo steamer has been up the Rouge River.

Mike Nicholls


Saint Laurent operators apply for Chapter 11 bankruptcy

11/4 - On October 30 Haimark Line Ltd., the operators of the cruise ship Saint Laurent, applied to Federal Court in Colorado for bankruptcy protection under Chapter 11. The ship was en route from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Portland, Maine at the time. The ship had been delayed due to weather and spent two nights in Halifax and had to cancel a 15-day Bahamas cruise from Portland.

The operators owe creditors – including Haimark Ltd., an affiliated company that operates river cruises – in excess of $ 2 million, but plan to continue operating during the re-organization. The bankruptcy does not affect Haimark Ltd.

A June 18 collision with the retaining wall in the Eisenhower Lock, which caused extensive damage, resulted in several other cancelled tours while the ship was repaired at the Verreault Shipyard in Mechins, Que. The accident is thought to be a factor in the current financial situation.

Thomas Markwell, managing partner for sales and marketing at Haimark Line, said the Chapter 11 filing was prompted by an unresolved claim with Clipper Cruises, the owner of the vessel, that arose after the collision.

"We remain very optimistic that it will be remedied this week and we will be able to rescind the filing,” Markwell said.

Haimark Line has been marketing a cruise this winter that departs Miami and explores several ports in Cuba. Its itineraries in the summer included the Great Lakes, the St. Lawrence River and New England.

Markwell said that the 2016 season for the ship is 85 percent booked, and the 2017 season is 80 percent booked.

Haimark Line said in a statement that any disruptions to its service will be announced "if and when they occur during this period of reorganization."

Mac Mackay, Travel Weekly, Seatrade


Port Reports -  November 4

Superior, Wis.
Indiana Harbor laid up at the Lakehead Pipeline Dock on Tuesday.

Marquette, Mich. – Rod Burdick
Tuesday afternoon, Lee A. Tregurtha loaded ore at the Upper Harbor and St. Clair arrived at the Lower Harbor to unload coal.

Sturgeon Bay, Wis. – Daniel Lindner
American Spirit arrived Sturgeon Bay early Tuesday morning for winter layup. She, along with other ships around the lakes, are heading for layup early due to a lack of cargoes. Later in the day, the newly built tug Leigh Ann Moran departed Sturgeon Bay with her barge Mississippi, which was launched over the summer at Bay Ship. The pair is now headed for Corpus Christi, Texas, where they will begin operations for Moran Towing.

Erie, Pa.
Roger Blough arrived Tuesday for early winter layup at Donjon Shipbuilding & Repair.


Marine News – Casualties & Demolitions, November 2015

11/4 - Marine News, the monthly journal of the World Ship Society, reports the following ships with Great Lakes connections going for scrap in the November 2015 issue.

A1 was built at Tokyo and completed as the Fortune Class freighter Santorini in 1978. The vessel came through the Seaway for the first time in 1979. It was sold and registered in Singapore as b) Ikan Selar in 1987, and then sailed as c) Alam Selar in 1997, d) Ikan Selar in 2001, e) Santhaasuria Lingam in 2007 and f) Jag 1 in 2008 and g) A1 in 2015. Following a sale to shipbreakers in India, the vessel arrived at Alang on June 29, 2015 and scrapping began by Sheth Ispat, Hussain, on July 2, 2015.

Atlantic Nyala had been a Seaway salty under two names. It had been built at Warnemunde, Germany, in 1990 as a Yevgeniy Mravinskiy for Russian flag service. It was sold and renamed b) Marcela R. and then c) Alioth Star in 1996, d) Global Hawk in 1998, e) Nordana Kampala and f) Cobra in 1999 and g) Thorshope in 2000. The latter operated under charter to A/S Thor Dahl for service between Canada and South Africa making a pair of trips inland in 1999. It was renamed h) Lykes Winner in 2000 and maintained similar service with its first trip inland for Toronto and Hamilton on Nov. 4, 2000. The ship returned for two more Great Lakes visits in each of 2001 and 2002. The vessel was registered in Hong Kong as i) OBL Winner in 2004, became j) Alladin Dream in 2005 and k) Atlantic Nyala in 2009. While not a Seaway trader, the last mentioned name came inland as far as Montreal on a number of occasions. Following a sale to Turkish shipbreakers, the 593.2 foot long carrier arrived at Aliaga last summer and scrapping began on July 8, 2015.

Bell first came through the Seaway as a) Therean Mariner in 1983. The ship had been built at Chiba, Japan, 1979 and sailed under the flag of Greece. It was sold becoming b) Navigator in 1984, c) Hansa Riga in 1991, d) Yama in 1994 and e) Clipper Yama in 1998. None of these vessels were Great Lakes callers. Another change in 1998 resulted in the ship becoming f) Millenium Yama in 1998 and the vessel came through the Seaway on May 3,1999, with a cargo of cement for Toronto before going to Thunder Bay to load for the sea. It returned inland in July. The vessel had an engine breakdown and fire on the St. Lawrence off Godbout, QC on April 4, 2000. It was inbound from Italy to Cleveland at the time but had to be towed to Lauzon, QC for repairs. It was idle there undergoing repairs and it departed as g) Mill on April 20, 2001. Another change in 2005 brought the name of h) Bella L. and this was shortened to i) Bell in 2015. The latter was sold to shipbreakers in Turkey and the vessel arrived at Aliaga with scrapping getting underway on July 8, 2015.

The tanker Castillo de Plasencia was a frequent caller to the Great Lakes as a) Stolt Aspiration. The ship was Shimonoseki, Japan, and delivered on Aug. 31, 1987. It began trading into the Great Lakes later that year and was a regular caller around the inland seas. On Dec. 29, 2004, this was the last saltwater ship of the season downbound at the St. Lambert Lock. It was sold and renamed b) Castillo de Plasencia in 2008 and carried that name up onto the beach at Alang, India, on June 7 2015. Work on dismantling the hull got underway on June 13.

Ever Glory was originally the Greek bulk carrier a) Zini. It was built at Innoshima, Japan, and completed in Nov. 1976. It kept busy on saltwater routes until coming to the Great Lakes in 1981. The ship was sold and renamed b) Tradeco I in 2003 and then became c) Ever Glory, for Panamanian flag service, later that year. It arrived at Alang, India, on June 14, 2015, and was broken up by the Shiv Corp. beginning on June 18, 2015.

The bulk carrier Libra was a Seaway trader as c) Kastor P. It was upbound with steel for Hamilton on Oct. 14, 1999, and then loaded corn at Duluth. It returned on later occasions before becoming d) Libra in 2010. This was the name it carried to the beach at Alang, India, on June 8, 2015, and scrapping got underway on June 26. Originally known as a) Sea Augusta, the vessel was built at Shimonoseka, Japan, in 1983 and first sailed under Panamanian registry. This flag was retained on becoming b) Jovian Lily in 1985 but, after becoming c) Kastor P. in 1991, the ship moved under Greek registry.

Wan He was a Seaway trader as a) Darya Ma. The 618 foot long ship was built at Sunderland, England, and completed in 1981 of the Litak Shipping Co. of Hong Kong. The vessel loaded lumber at Quebec City on its first trip and departed for the Red Sea area. It came through the Seaway for the first time on May 8, 1983, bound for Detroit. The ship was a return visitor to the Great Lakes on a number of occasions finishing off with two trips in 2002. It was sold and renamed b) Evdoxia in 2003 and registered in Malta until becoming c) Wan He in 2011. The ship was registered in Panama when it arrived at Chittagong, Bangladesh, on June 6, 2015. Scrapping commenced on June 9.

Compiled by Rene Beauchamp, Barry Andersen and Skip Gillham


Lookback #717 – Inland Transport aground near Little Current on Nov. 4, 1972

The Canadian tanker Inland Transport stranded off the Manitoulin Island community of Little Current on Nov. 4, 1972. It landed near the Strawberry Island Light, off Garden Island Bank, and received significant hull damage. The 258 foot, 4 inch long vessel was released and returned to Sarnia for one last trip.

The vessel was then sent to Collingwood for a survey and the damage was considered to be beyond economical repair. As a result, the ship sailed back to Sarnia, arrived Dec. 3, 1972, and was laid up.

Inland Transport remained idle but was heavily vandalized. Windows were smashed and gear was removed before the vessel could depart, under tow of the tug Atomic, on July 5, 1976. They arrived at Port Dover two days later and tied up astern another veteran tanker, the Husky 120.

In 1980, Inland Transport was towed to Port Maitland and broken up for scrap by A. Newman, ending a career that began at Kearney, N.J., as a) Steel Chemist in 1926. The ship became b) The Inland in 1946, came to Canada for conversion to the tanker c) Transinland in 1949 and had sailed as d) Inland Transport since 1968.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  November 4

Saltie Gallery updated with pictures of the Africaborg, BBC Alabama, BBC Fuji, BBC Kimberley, BBC Steinwall, Chem Norma, Federal Rideau, Gotland, Lyulin, Nomadic Hjellestad, Ruddy, Shoveler, Sten Baltic, Torrent, Trudy and Tracer.


Today in Great Lakes History -  November 4

The Great Lakes Steamship Company steamer NORWAY passed downbound through the Soo Locks with 6,609 tons of rye. This cargo increased the total tonnage transiting the locks in 1953 to 120,206,088 tons – a new one-season tonnage record. Renamed b.) RUTH HINDMAN in 1964, she was scrapped at Thunder Bay, Ontario in 1978.

On 04 November 1883, MAYFLOWER (wooden propeller freighter “steam barge,” 185 foot, 623 gross tons, built in 1852, at Buffalo, New York) was carrying lumber when she stranded in a gale off Point Abino near Buffalo, New York where the waves pounded her to pieces. The crew made it to shore in the yawl. She was built as a very fine passenger steamer for the Western Transportation Line then in 1868, she was rebuilt as a “steam barge.”

On 4 November 1875, SWAN (wooden propeller tug, 11 gross tons, built in 1862, at Buffalo, New York) caught fire while lying out in the Saginaw River near East Saginaw. She was abandoned by the crew and burned to the water’s edge.

JOSEPH G. BUTLER JR (steel bulk freighter, 525 foot, 6,588 gross tons) was launched on 04 Nov 1905, at Lorain, Ohio for the Tonopah Steamship Co. (Hutchinson & Co., mgr.). She lasted until 1971, when she was stripped of her cabins and scuttled, along with HENRY R. PLATT JR., at Steel Co. of Canada plant, Burlington Bay, Hamilton, Ontario, as breakwater and fill.

CARTIERCLIFFE HALL was registered at Toronto, Ontario, on 04 Nov 1977, but didn't enter service until the spring of 1978 because of mechanical difficulties during her sea trials.

On 04 Nov, 1986, TEXACO CHIEF was renamed A.G. FARQUHARSON. She was renamed c.) ALGONOVA (i) in 1998.

CALCITE II departed Cleveland at 5:30 a.m. Saturday, 04 Nov 2000, on her last trip for USS Great Lakes Fleet. She sailed upbound for Sarnia, Ontario, where she spent the winter in lay-up. Grand River Transportation had entered into a sale agreement with USS Great Lakes Fleet, Inc. for the purchase of the CALCITE II, GEORGE A. SLOAN and MYRON C. TAYLOR. Built as the WILLIAM G. CLYDE in 1929, CALCITE II is awaiting scrapping as c.) MAUMEE.

HERON BAY proceeded under her own power to Lauzon, Quebec, for her final lay-up on November 4, 1978.

CSL's NIPIGON BAY was launched November 4, 1950.

CHARLES L. HUTCHINSON developed a sizable leak and almost sank November 4, 1925, during her tow to Superior after she struck a reef a few nights before.

ROBERT C. STANLEY's keel was laid November 4, 1942.

UNITED STATES GYPSUM of 1910 grounded at Toledo, Ohio, on November 4, 1972, resulting in damage totaling $125,000. Her propeller was removed and the rudder shaft was locked in position to finish the season as a manned barge on the coal run from Toledo to Detroit, Michigan.

JOSEPH H. THOMPSON became not only the largest vessel on the Great Lakes but also the longest dry bulk cargo vessel in the world when it entered service on November 4, 1952, departing Chicago on its first trip.

Setting the stage for the fateful storm that followed less than a week later that sank the EDMUND FITZGERALD, many locations in Minnesota and Wisconsin were setting all-time record high temperatures for the month of November during the period of November 4-6, 1975. Grand Marais, Minnesota, reached 67 degrees on November 5 and Superior reached 74 degrees on November 6, both all-time records for the month. Many other notable Great Lakes storms, including the Armistice Day storm of 1940, and the storm that sank the HENRY STEINBRENNER in 1953, were proceeded by record-setting warm weather.

On 4 November 1877, MARY BOOTH (wooden scow-schooner, 132 tons, built in 1857, at Buffalo, New York) was carrying maple lumber in a storm in Lake Michigan. She became waterlogged but her crew doggedly clung to her until she appeared ready to turn turtle. Then her crew abandoned her and she rolled over. She drifted in the lake for several days. The crew landed at White Lake, Michigan and they were near death.

The Port Huron Times of 4 November 1878: "The propeller CITY OF MONTREAL is believed to have gone down on Lake Michigan on Friday [1 NOV 1878]. The schooner LIVELY, laden with coal for Bay City, is reported ashore 6 miles above Sand Beach, having gone on at 12 o'clock Sunday night [3 NOV 1878]. The schooner WOODRUFF, ashore at Whitehall, is a total loss. Two men were drowned, one died from injuries received, and Capt. Lingham was saved. The tugs E M PECK and MYSTIC, which went from the Sault to the assistance of the propeller QUEBEC, were wrecked near where she lies, one being on the beach and the other sunk below her decks. Both crews were rescued and were taken to St. Joseph Island."

On 4 November 1856, J W BROOKS (wooden propeller, 136 foot, 322 tons, built in 1851, at Detroit) was carrying provisions and copper ingots to Ogdensburg, New York in a storm when she foundered on Lake Ontario, 8 miles northeast of False Ducks Light. Estimates of the loss of lives range from 22 to 50. In July 1857, she was partially raised and some of her cargo was recovered. She only had a five year career, but besides this final incident, she had her share of disasters. In July 1855, she had a boiler explosion and in May of that same year, she sank in Canadian waters.

In 1980 the tug LAUREN CASTLE sank while towing the AMOCO WISCONSIN near Lee Point in Traverse Bay. Engineer William Stephan was lost.

1891: The iron freighter NORTH, which had become the first ocean ship to be cut in two and brought to the Great Lakes, arrived at Collingwood to be rebuilt as b) CAMPANA for the passenger & freight trades on the upper lakes.

1898: The wooden passenger and freight steamer PACIFIC burned at the Grand Trunk Railway dock in Collingwood along with the freight sheds and their contents. The blaze had begun the previous evening and roared for hours. The vessel was valued at $65,000.

1959: WESTRIVER arrived at Halifax for repairs after an earlier engine room explosion on Lake Superior had left the ship with significant damage.

1967: PEARL LIGHT, a World War II Empire ship, came through the Seaway for one trip in 1965. It was wrecked off Vietnam as g) HABIB MARIKAR while enroute from Dalian, China, to Chittagong, Bangladesh, with bagged cement. One life was lost.

1972: INLAND TRANSPORT went aground off Garden Island Bank, near Little Current, Manitoulin Island, and received major hull damage that led to the retirement of that Halco tanker after one more trip.

1991: CARLI METZ struck the wall below Lock 2 of the Welland Canal and the vessel had to go to Port Weller Dry Docks for repairs. It had been inbound for the first time earlier in the year and returned in 1992. It was scrapped at Chittagong, Bangladesh, as d) METZ ITALIA in 2001.

1993: ZIEMIA ZAMOJSKA, while under tow, struck the raised 106th Street Bridge on the Calumet River at Chicago resulting in damage to the structure and traffic problems. The corn-laden vessel received a hole in the port bow, which was repaired at Montreal.

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


Vessels head to early lay-up

11/3 - Waterfront reports indicate that American Spirit is headed for an early winter lay-up at Sturgeon Bay. Indiana Harbor is headed to Duluth/Superior to lay-up. Roger Blough and Presque Isle are on their last trips of the season as well, with Edgar B. Speer also reported to be on or near her last trip of the season. The early lay-ups are likely a result of the downturn in the steel industry.


The outlook for U.S. Steel: bleak and bleaker

11/3 - Pittsburgh, Pa. – In two years as president and CEO of U.S. Steel, Mario Longhi has frozen the steel producer’s pension fund; jettisoned its hemorrhaging Canadian unit by putting it into bankruptcy; pulled the plug on steelmaking and most steel finishing operations at its Fairfield, Ala., mill; saved more than $800 million by cancelling a troubled project at its Gary, Ind., mill; and generated about $600 million in annual savings from his vaunted Carnegie Way initiative.

And still the red ink flows. U.S. Steel is expected to post its third consecutive quarterly loss this week as the fruits of Mr. Longhi’s labor have been overwhelmed by deeply discounted prices spawned by cheap imports, the strong U.S. dollar, an anemic energy market and a global glut of steel.

Analysts are also forecasting the Pittsburgh steel producer will record a loss for all of 2015. If they are right, it will be the sixth time in seven years that U.S. Steel has failed to earn a profit.

“Many things look very bleak,” said John Tumazos, an independent metals analyst from Holmdel, N.J. “Mario has done a lot of what he can do. I think they’ve done a good job not to be in worse shape.”

What ails U.S. Steel and other domestic producers is largely out of their control — China’s huge surplus of steelmaking capacity.

Mr. Tumazos estimates there may be 700 million or 800 million metric tons of excess steelmaking capacity globally, with China accounting for 500 million to 600 million metric tons of it. By comparison, U.S. mills shipped 98 million tons last year.

“Until China closes a lot of capacity, the world steel situation cannot markedly improve,” said John Anton of IHS, an economics research firm. “If China doesn’t do anything, it doesn’t matter what anybody else does.”

With China’s steel demand expected to drop this year and in 2016, that country is exporting its excess to Europe and the U.S. where steel imports jumped 38 percent last year. Although they are off 5 percent this year, imports still control about 30 percent of the U.S. market.

The surge has left U.S. mills operating at about 70 percent capacity and has driven prices sharply lower. Many steel products cost about $200 a ton less than they did a year ago. Mr. Tumazos said some prices are at levels not seen since the 2003 steel recession, an event that drove several major steel producers into extinction.

Domestic producers have responded by filing complaints against China and other foreign producers, alleging they are dumping three types of widely used sheet products in the U.S. at unfair prices. They also allege some of the imports benefit from government subsidies.

The U.S. International Trade Commission is expected to decide in December and January whether to impose duties on the imports. The higher the duties or margins, the more the sanctions will curb imports.

“If positive results come from these trade cases, it could help the industry out,” said Matt Miller, a metals analysts with S&P Capital IQ.

Mr. Anton said favorable decisions could boost steel prices by as much as $50 a ton, but he believes increases of $25 or $30 a ton are more likely. Rulings in other recent trade cases involving steel imports have not generate the magnitude of relief U.S. producers were looking for, he said.

The slump has taken some of the sheen off the Carnegie Way, the centerpiece of Mr. Longhi’s plan for making U.S. Steel capable — as he says — of “earning the right to grow.”

In July, the company said the effort was expected to generate $590 million in savings this year.

Since then, market conditions have deteriorated, prompting U.S. Steel to consider putting 2,000 people out of work by temporarily idling its Granite City, Ill., mill. The plant supplies the company’s tubular business, which is struggling because of the collapse of oil prices. Once U.S. Steel’s most prosperous unit, the tubular business lost $66 million before interest and taxes in the first half. Shipments tumbled 64 percent from year-ago levels.

“I don’t see any scenario where the tube business is good next year,” Mr. Tumazos said.

U.S. Steel laid off salaried personnel in September, but a spokeswoman declined to say how many. Current and former employees who asked not to be identified put the number at about 100. The continuous belt-tightening — much of it spawned by recommendations from outside consultants — has damaged morale, according to the former employees. It’s also jaded opinions of the Carnegie Way.

“In 2014, everybody was buying into it because they were seeing the positive results,” said one former salaried worker who spoke on the condition that she not be identified. “Everybody loved the Carnegie Way then.”

A former operations and maintenance employee who left voluntarily this year called the Carnegie Way “a big joke.” After purchasing officers in Pittsburgh ordered his mill to use cheaper oils to lubricate bearings, the bearings wore out more quickly, resulting in extra costs and longer down time for the mill, he said.

“I’m all about cost cutting, but not at the expense of operations and that’s what we were doing,” he said.

Analysts say the industry’s plight is more than another cyclical swoon. They warn that China, which accounts for half of world steel production, is structurally changing the industry — a fact U.S. producers must come to grips with.

Against this backdrop, U.S. Steel is negotiating a new contract with the United Steelworkers union, which is working under the terms of a labor agreement that expired Sept. 1. Union officials said if the company has its way, the next contract will have their members paying thousands of dollars more each year for health care and agreeing to concessions on overtime, contracting out work to non-union workers and other issues. The union estimates about 17,000 workers are covered by the contract.

Because China’s massive overcapacity augurs tough days ahead for U.S. steel producers, Mr. Tumazos believes the time is ripe for U.S. Steel to win concessions.

“The issue is: how long does the union maintain this illusion that business is temporarily bad,” he said.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


Lake Michigan water levels rising

11/3 - Chicago, Ill. – Water levels in Lake Michigan have been below average for several years, but that’s changing now. The long-term average is 579 feet, currently it’s up to 580 feet, CBS 2’s Mary Kay Kleist reports.

Because we are used to levels being down for a while, the change is more noticeable, especially on a day when there is a strong onshore flow, creating high waves.

“It’s less room for the dogs to run and get their exercise,” said dog owner Shelia Johnson, on a recent visit to Foster Beach. “It’s kind of disappointing; it’s such a beautiful lakefront.”

What causes the fluctuations in lake levels? Rain and snow over the lakes, evaporation, and runoff. It’s the long-term precipitation and temperature trends that make the difference. With a strong El Nino in place right now, that could mean a drier, milder winter. But would that have an effect on lake levels? Not likely, since the watershed is huge, covering thousands of square miles all the way up to Canada.

Forecasters say lake levels should remain above average through next summer.

CBS Chicago


Lookback #716 – Amazonia capsized and sank off Fortaleza, Brazil, on Nov. 3, 1981

It used to be common to see the Brazilian flag flying on the stern of a Seaway visitor. The ships of the Netumar Line often came into the Great Lakes, and among their inland traders was Amazonia.

This vessel was built at Jacuacanga, Brazil, and completed in Jan. 1970. The 397 foot, 1 inch long general cargo carrier had 3 holds and 3 hatches enabling a deadweight capacity of 6,353 tons.

Amazonia came through the Seaway for the first time in 1971 but only sailed a decade longer. The vessel was on a voyage from Manaus, Brazil, to Rio de Janiero, Brazil, when it began to leak and developed a list on Nov. 3, 1981.

The ship later capsized and sank in shallow water in the Macuripe Inlet, off Fortaleza, fifth largest city in Brazil and capital of the state of Caera. The former Great Lakes trader was a total loss after the accident of 34 years ago today.

Skip Gillham


Today in Great Lakes History -  November 3

On 03 November 1907, tug ESCORT (wooden propeller, 45 foot, 40 gross tons, built in 1894, at Port Colborne, Ontario) tried to pass the barge BENJ HARRISON at the mouth of the Niagara River. In a navigational error, the tug sheared under the barge’s bow, was run over and sunk. Three lives were lost.

B. A. PEERLESS sailed on her maiden voyage November 3, 1952, bound for Superior, Wisconsin, where 110,291 barrels of crude oil were loaded destined for British-American's refinery at Clarkson, Ontario. The PEERLESS was built for the express purpose of transporting crude oil from the Interprovincial / Lakehead Pipeline terminus at Superior to B / A's Clarkson refinery. The vessel lasted until 1991, when she was broken up.

On 3 November 1898, PACIFIC (wooden propeller passenger/package freighter, 179 foot, 918 gross tons, built in 1883, at Owen Sound, Ontario) caught fire at the Grand Trunk dock at Collingwood, Ontario. She burned to a shell despite a concerted effort to save her. She was later towed out into Georgian Bay and scuttled.

On 3 November 1855, DELAWARE (wooden propeller, 173 foot, 368 tons, built in 1846, at Black River, Ohio) was carrying general merchandise from Chicago to Buffalo with a stop at Milwaukee. She was driven ashore by a gale eight miles south of Sheboygan, Wisconsin and sank. Ten or 11 of the 18 on board lost their lives. Within a few days, only her arches were visible above the water.

Dismantling of the H. C. HEIMBECKER began on 03 Nov 1981, by Triad Salvage Company at Ashtabula, Ohio, and was completed the following year. This vessel was originally named GEORGE W. PERKINS (steel bulk freighter, 556 foot, 6,553 gross tons, built in 1905, at Superior, Wisconsin.)

1928: CANADIAN TRADER was Hull 39 of the Port Arthur shipyard. Following a sale to Japanese interests, the ship departed Seattle on this date in 1928 on its delivery voyage, still as c) GUILDA SCUDERI, and was never seen again.

1953: The tug J.A. CORNETT went hard aground about seven miles north of Clayton, NY and was leaking badly. The vessel was eventually refloated and survived at Port Dover, ON at least as recently as 2011. It has been laid up there since 1992 and is now in derelict condition.

1965: The tug MISEFORD was towing the barge CHARLES W. JOHNSON when they were caught in a storm on the St. Marys River. The tug was pulled over on her side and rested on the bottom. MISEFORD was salvaged in the spring of 1966 and remains in service in 2012 as a harbor tug at Thunder Bay, Ont.

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


After decades of shipments, last coal ship scheduled to arrive in Muskegon

11/2 - Muskegon, Mich. – The last shipment of coal to a soon-to-be shuttered Consumers Energy Plant in Muskegon is scheduled to arrive Nov. 8.

For more than 25 years, 1,000-foot ships have been regularly rolling into the Port of Muskegon with coal for Consumers' B.C. Cobb energy plant. The last such ship to deliver coal to Consumers in Muskegon will be the James R. Barker, a spokesman wrote in an email.

"The Barker is scheduled to be loaded with 58,000 tons of coal in Superior, Wisconsin, on Nov. 5," wrote Consumers spokesman Roger Morgenstern. "After the ship is loaded and underway, we will have a better idea of its arrival time."

The B.C. Cobb plant in Muskegon is set to cease operations by April 2016, officials have said, and go "cold and dark" by June. An electrical switch station will be separated from the power plant, but remain on the site. The rest of the power plant could be demolished by the end of 2018.

Officials have said a total of nine coal-fired power plant units in the state will soon shut down due to tightening restrictions on power plant emissions.

Consumers Energy has been studying how the power plant's prime real estate on Muskegon could be redeveloped. One of the company's top priorities for the plant's future so far has been the shipping industry.

Business leaders and government officials in Muskegon hope to encourage more shipping activity in the future, to make up for the shipping traffic lost by the power plant shutting down.

M Live


Port Reports -  November 2

Milwaukee, Wis. – Jim Henning
St. Marys Challenger came into port on a beautiful Sunday afternoon.


Manitowoc shipwrecks program on Nov. 12

11/2 - Manitowoc, Wis. – The Manitowoc County Historical Society will uncover stories of shipwrecks off the Lake Michigan coastline with a “Hungry for History” series presentation Thursday, Nov. 12, at the Heritage Center, 1701 Michigan Ave., Manitowoc, Wis.

The “Hungry for History” series features an evening of educational entertainment and a buffet dinner. Maritime Archaeologist Tamara Thomsen will share stories of current archaeological work on shipwrecks in Manitowoc County, and many of those are included in the newly-proposed National Marine Sanctuary.

Todd Breiby, from Wisconsin Coastal Management Program, will also give an overview of the National Marine Sanctuary designation process. The presentation will begin at 5 p.m., and a catered meal will follow.

Tickets are $20 for Manitowoc County Historical Society members and $25 for non-members, which includes the program and meal. Advanced registration is required for all Hungry for History programs at 920-684-4445. The series is a fundraiser for the Manitowoc County Historical Society.


Lookback #715 – Frosso K. had a major engine room fire on Nov. 2, 1981

Frosso K. was one of the SD-14 general cargo class of ships that came to the Great Lakes. The vessel had been built at Skaramanga, Greece, and launched on Nov. 29, 1969. It entered service on Feb. 12, 1970, and the 462 foot, 7 inch long, 9,069 gross ton vessel operated for St. Ioannis Shipping Corp. under the flag of Greece.

Its early travels were saltwater duties but the ship came through the Seaway for the first time in 1974 and returned at least as late as 1983. There were some adventures in the interim.

On March 31, 1981, the ship stranded about 4 miles WSW of Malmo, Sweden, while on a voyage from Norfolk, VA to Szczecin, Poland. Frosso K. was refloated on April 5 and towed to Szczecin.

After repairs and a return to service, fire broke out in the engine room 34-years ago today as the vessel was on the Pacific during a voyage from Japan to Vancouver, BC. It was not until Nov. 15 that a tug escort brought Frosso K. safely into Vancouver.

The ship was sold and renamed b) Roker Park in 1987 and c) Mamer in 1991. The latter was at Cienfuegos, Cuba, when a fire erupted in a generator in Feb. 1992. This appears to have been repaired and the ship was sold and renamed d) Austin Star, Panamanian flag, in 1993.

The ship was reported as laid up at Puerto Viejo de Azua, Dominican Republic, prior to being towed to Santo Domingo, D.R. in July 1993. Patience had run out and the vessel was sold to Colombian shipbreakers, renamed e) Mamer for the final tow, and departed Santo Domingo for Cartagena on Feb. 9, 1995. It had arrived at the South American port by Feb. 15 and was broken up for scrap by SIPSA beginning Feb. 23.

Skip Gillham


Today in Great Lakes History -  November 2

On 02 November 1924, TURRET CROWN (steel propeller "turret ship,” 253 foot, 1,827 tons, built in 1895, in England) was driven ashore in a gale on Meldrum Point on the north side of Manitoulin Island on Lake Huron. Her hull was wrecked during the storms that winter. She was cut up and removed for scrap the following year.

On November 2, 1984, the tugs ATOMIC and ELMORE M. MISNER towed the ERINDALE, a.) W.F. WHITE, to the International Marine Salvage scrap dock at Port Colborne, Ontario, where demolition began that month.

H.C. HEIMBECKER proceeded under her own power to Ashtabula, Ohio, for scrapping, arriving there November 2, 1981.

On November 2, 1948, FRANK ARMSTRONG collided head-on with the c.) JOHN J. BOLAND of 1905, a.) STEPHEN B. CLEMENT, in a heavy fog on Lake Erie near Colchester, Ontario. Both vessels were badly damaged and resulted in one fatality on the BOLAND. The ARMSTRONG was towed to Toledo, Ohio, for repairs.

In 1972, the A. E. NETTLETON's towline parted from the OLIVE L. MOORE during a snowstorm with gale force winds 17 miles west of the Keweenaw Peninsula on Lake Superior. The barge developed a 15-degree list when her load of grain shifted. Three of her five-member crew were air lifted by a U.S.C.G. helicopter to the MOORE to assist in re-rigging the towline. The NETTLETON was towed the next day into the Lily Pond on the Keweenaw Waterway to trim her cargo.

The WILLIAM C. MORELAND was abandoned to the underwriters on November 2, 1910, as a constructive total loss, amounting to $445,000. She had stranded on Sawtooth Reef off Eagle Harbor, Michigan, on Lake Superior in mid October.

The keel of the new section, identified as Hull #28, was laid down on November 2, 1959. A new forward pilothouse and a hatch crane were installed and her steam turbine engine and water tube boilers were reconditioned. The vessel was named c.) RED WING after the Detroit Red Wing hockey team, honoring a long association with Upper Lakes Shipping and James Norris, the founder of ULS, and his two sons, James D. and Bruce, owners of the National Hockey League team.

In 1971, the Lake Michigan carferry BADGER was laid up due to a coal strike.

On 2 November 1889, FRANCIS PALMS (wooden schooner, 173 foot, 560 tons, built in 1868, at Marine City, Michigan, as a bark) was sailing from Escanaba to Detroit with a load of iron ore when she was driven ashore near Beaver Island in Lake Michigan. Her entire crew was taken off by the tug GLADIATOR that also pulled in vain while trying to free the PALMS. The PALMS was pounded to pieces by the storm waves. November was a bad month for the PALMS since she had previously been wrecked on Long Point in Lake Erie in November 1874, and again at Duluth in November 1872.

During the first week of November 1878, The Port Huron Times reported wrecks and mishaps that occurred during a severe storm that swept over the Lakes on Friday and Saturday, 1-3 November. The information was reported on 2, 4 & 5 November as the reports came in. The same reports will appear here starting today: The Port Huron Times of 2 November 1878: "The schooner L. C. WOODRUFF of Cleveland is ashore at the mouth of the White River with her foremast gone. She is loaded with corn. Three schooners went ashore at Grand Haven Friday morning, the AMERICA, MONTPELIER, and AUSTRALIAN. One man was drowned off the AUSTRALIAN. The schooner WORTS is ashore and full of water on Beaver Island. Her cargo consists of pork for Collingwood. The tug LEVIATHAN has gone to her aid. The schooner LAKE FOREST is ashore at Hammond's Bay, Lake Huron, and is full of water. She has a cargo of corn aboard. The tug A J SMITH has gone to her rescue. The barge S. C. WOODRUFF has gone down in 13 feet of water off Whitehall and her crew is clinging to the rigging at last accounts. A lifeboat has been sent to her relief. The barge RUTTER is in 25 feet of water and all the crew are now safe."

On 2 November 1874, PREBLE (2-mast wooden schooner, 98 foot, 166 tons, built in 1842, at Buffalo, New York as a brig) was lost in a storm off Long Point on Lake Erie and broke up in the waves. The steamer ST PAUL rescued her crew.

On 02 Nov 1862, BAY STATE (wooden propeller, 137 foot, 372 tons, built in 1852, at Buffalo, New York) was bound for Lake Erie ports from Oswego, New York when she broke up offshore in a terrific gale in the vicinity of Oswego. All 22 onboard, including six passengers, lost their lives. The shoreline was strewn with her wreckage for miles.

PAUL H. CARNAHAN was christened at the foot of West Grand Boulevard in Detroit, Michigan on 02 Nov 1961. She had been converted from the tanker b.) ATLANTIC DEALER to a dry bulk cargo carrier by American Ship Building Co. at Lorain, Ohio and came out on her maiden bulk freighter voyage just two weeks before this christening ceremony.

1912: JUNO, which had lost the barge P.B. LOCKE the previous day on Lake Ontario, arrived safely at Cobourg and then sank at the dock.

1923: The wooden steamer WESEE caught fire in Lake Erie off Middle Bass Island and burned as a total loss. The crew took to the yawl boats and all were saved.

1956: The former schooner J.T. WING, which had operated as a museum at Belle Isle in Detroit until condemned due to rotting timbers, was burned.

1981: FROSSO K., an SD 14 ocean freighter, suffered an engine room fire enroute from Vancouver to Japan. The ship was towed back to Vancouver November 15 and repaired. It first came through the Seaway in 1974 and arrived at Cartagena, Columbia, under tow, for scrapping on February 15, 1995, as e) MAMER.

1981: The West German freighter POSEIDON first came through the Seaway in 1962 and became a regular inland trader. It was abandoned, in leaking condition on this date, as e) VIKI K. in the Red Sea. There was some suspicion that the vessel was scuttled as part of an insurance fraud. 1988: PETER MISENER struck a shoal while upbound in the Saguenay River for Port Alfred with coke. There was major damage and the ship went to Montreal for repairs.

2001: AUDACIOUS stranded at Keleman Island, Indonesia, but was refloated two days later. The damage was severe and the vessel was laid up at Singapore and then sold to shipbreakers. The ship arrived at Alang, India, to be broken up, on April 27, 2002. The ship visited the Great Lakes as a) WELSH VOYAGER in 1977, and returned as b) LONDON VOYAGER in 1982 and c) OLYMPIC LEADER in 1983. It made its first inland voyage as d) AUDACIOUS in 1996 and its final call in 2000.

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


Two Barges in Lake Michigan Recovered After Breaking Free From Tow

11/1 - Two barges that broke free and floated away on Lake Michigan are now back where they belong.

The U.S. Coast Guard Sector Lake Michigan says they broke free from tugs Tuesday night.

One barge was spotted just south of Frankfort and the other was found near Pierport in Manistee County.

The Coast Guard says the incident did not pose any environmental danger because both barges were pretty much empty.

The two barges were towed away around noon Friday.

The Coast Guard has not said what caused the barges to break away.

9 & 10 News


Traffic remains busy at Thunder Bay

11/1 - Experiencing one of its busiest and possibly best grain season in quite a number of years, the Port of Thunder Bay has been bustling lately with Saltwater Vessel traffic and Canadian Vessels as well as both arrive to load and take on grain cargoes before ice begins to form on the lakes and Seaway and also before the Seaway closing date in December. In the Port of Thunder Bay as of October 31 were four vessels loading with an additional five at anchor wait for berths. The four saltwater vessels in port were the Ruddy, Johanna C, Federal Baltic and Federal Ems. Also in port was the Kaministiqua a Canadian laker. Waiting at anchor for a loading berth were the Dimitrios K, Emilie, Federal Satsuki, Miedwie and Isa. Also both the Algoma Spirit and Algowood two Canadian vessels were also waiting for berths in Thunder Bay. Algolake was expected to arrive on Sunday and following them is the saltwater vessels Isadora on November 2 and the Barnacle on November 3. CSL Welland is due up on November 5 along with the Rosaire A. Desgagnes on November 7.

Denny Dushane


Port Reports -  November 1

Port Inland, Mich. - Denny Dushane
The Buffalo arrived at Port Inland to load on Saturday during the early morning hours. Due to arrive on Sunday is the Manitowoc during the early morning hours. The barge Lakes Contender and tug Ken Boothe Sr. are due in on Monday in the late morning hours. Wilfred Sykes is expected to arrive on Tuesday in the morning hours and the Manitowoc is also due back again on Tuesday in the early afternoon hours.

Cedarville, Mich. - Denny Dushane
The Presque Isle arrived at Cedarville to load on Thursday afternoon and they continued loading on Friday. Expected to arrive on Saturday in the early morning hours was the barge Pathfinder and tug Dorothy Ann. Also due in on Saturday in the early afternoon hours was the barge Lewis J. Kuber and the tug Olive L. Moore. The Wilfred Sykes rounds out the schedule and they are due on Monday in the mid-afternoon hours.

Stoneport, Mich. - Denny Dushane
The Herbert C. Jackson was expected to arrive at Stoneport on Saturday in the late morning hours. Also due on Saturday was the Algorail expected to arrive during lunch hour to load. There are no vessels scheduled to arrive on Sunday. A very busy week ahead though has three vessels scheduled for Monday with the Mississagi arriving in the morning hours followed by the Manistee in the early evening. The Lewis J. Kuber arrives during the late evening on Monday. For Tuesday, four vessels are scheduled for arrivals with the Joseph H. Thompson arriving in the early morning hours followed by the Kaye E. Barker also in the morning hours. Late evening arrivals will find both the Capt. Henry Jackman and the Great Republic on Tuesday. There are no vessels scheduled for Wednesday and rounding out the schedule and due to arrive on Thursday in the late evening is the Lewis J. Kuber.

Calcite, Mich. - Denny Dushane
The Pathfinder loaded at the South Dock in Calcite on Friday and they were expected to depart at 11 p.m. that evening. Cason J. Callaway was also in Calcite on Friday and they waited at the North Dock before shifting over to the South Dock to load after the departure of the Pathfinder. At the South Dock loading on Saturday, the Cason J. Callaway continued loading and they were expected to depart around noon. There are no vessels due in for Sunday. The John G. Munson is expected to arrive on Monday in the early morning hours for the North Dock.

Port Huron, Mich. – Dan Jackson
The Roger Blough was downbound Saturday heading for Conneaut, Ohio to unload. After unloading the Blough is expected to head for Erie, Pa. and winter lay-up.

Toledo, Ohio - Denny Dushane Both the barge James L. Kuber and the tug Victory and the Baie St. Paul both arrived on Friday and unloaded iron ore pellets at the Torco Dock in Toledo. The James L. Kuber is due back at Torco on Tuesday during the late evening hours. CSL Laurentien is due at Torco on November 8 around noon. James L. Kuber returns again on November 10 in the early morning hours and once again on November 16 in the early evening. Two vessels are due at the Midwest Terminal Stone Dock with stone cargoes in November. The Frontenac is due on November 7 in the early afternoon and the Robert S. Pierson is due on November 14 in the early evening. Vessels due at the CSX Coal Dock to load include the American Mariner on Sunday in the early afternoon hours. Algosoo is due at CSX on November 17 in the early morning hours and they will be followed by the Calumet at CSX on November 18 during the late afternoon to early evening. The James L. Kuber is due at CSX to load on November 18 in the late evening hours.


2015 New Saltwater Vessel recap

11/1 - As of November 1, 2015 a total of 52 new Saltwater Vessels or salties made Westbound transits through the Eisenhower Lock for the 2015 Great Lakes and Seaway Shipping Season. The list of the new saltwater vessels making their first ever visits are: Amurborg, Andesborg, Atlantic Patriot along with the BBC Alabama, BBC Kimberley, BBC Ohio, BBC Olympus, BBC Steinwall, BBC Thames, Chemical Aquarius, Clipper Macau, Clipper Makiri, Erria Swan, Eva Schulte, Fagelgracht, Federal Baltic, Federal Barents along with the Federal Beaufort, Federal Bering, Foresight, Fortune, Gotland, Hanse Gate, HHL Tyne, HHL Volga, Houston, Industrial More, Jasmine C, Johanna C along with the Lena J, Lisanna, Marbacan, Marbioko, Med Arctic, Michelle C along with the Nomadic Hjellestad, Nordana Emilie, Nordana Emma along with the Onego Rotterdam, Pioneer, Princimar Equinox, Rodopi, Spavalda along with the Sten Baltic, Sunrose E, Swan Biscay, Taagborg, Timber Navigator and the Trinityborg and Umgeni. One new comer and saltwater vessel the Spavalda was sold and reflagged to Canadian registry during the season.

Denny Dushane


Seaway Saltie Transit Information

11/1 - As of November 1, 2015 a total of 194 Saltwater Vessels or salties made 335 westbound transits through the Eisenhower Lock at Massena, New York from March/April 2015 through the end of October 2015. The 335 Westbound transits by vessel is up from 4 transits during the same period in 2014 and is also up 39 transits from the 5-year average of the same time frame from 2010-2014. The month of October saw the largest increase in Westbound Saltwater Vessel transits at the Eisenhower Lock with 72 transits. This number is also the largest in the 5-year period from 2010-2014 during the March/April-November timeframe.

The 72 Westbound transits by vessel in October is an increase of 19 when compared to 53 in 2014 in October.

It is also an increase of 23 transits when compared to the 5-year average during the same timeframe.

A recap of the 2015 season and the monthly Westbound Transits at the Eisenhower Lock is listed below.

May ====== 50
June ====== 42
July ======= 38
August ===== 42
September == 42
October ==== 72

Of Note: The 49 transits by Vessel in March/April were all done in April itself as there were no transits in March.

This was the second consecutive year that this event happened due to severe ice condition in the St. Lawrence Seaway, which prompted officials to open the Seaway in early April rather than in March.

There were also a total of 52 new comers as of November 1 or saltwater vessels making their first visits to the Great Lakes/Seaway system as well.

Denny Dushane


Lookback #714 Monroe C. Smith in St. Clair River collision on Nov. 1, 1907.

A collision between the Monroe C. Smith and the William A. Reis sank the latter bulk carrier in the St. Clair River on Nov. 1, 1907. The accident of 108-years ago today resulted in bow damage to the Monroe C. Smith and this ship had to be beached at Russell Island.

Monroe C. Smith was part of the United States Transportation Co. fleet and had been built at Lorain, OH in 1903. The 400 foot long bulk carrier was registered at 4,281 gross tons and steam powered.

Both ships were salvaged and returned to service. The Monroe C. Smith was an original member of the Great Lakes Steamship Co. when they were formed in 1911 and remained in their service until traded to the United States Maritime Commission, for new tonnage, in 1943. It was chartered back to G.L.S.S. for the duration of the war to carry the essential raw materials needed to help win the peace.

Following the war, the ship was laid up at Erie, PA until sold to the Steel Company of Canada. It came down the Welland Canal, under tow of the tugs A.M. Macaulay and Towmaster on Oct. 26, 1946, and was broken up at Hamilton in June 1947.

The William E. Reis, the ship it sank on Nov. 1, 1907, last sailed as c) Saskadoc in 1966 and was towed to Santander, Spain, for dismantling after arrival on Sept. 24, 1967.

Skip Gillham


Today in Great Lakes History -  November 1

The LEHIGH, Captain Edward P. Fitch in command, cleared the Great Lakes Engineering Works yard at River Rouge, Michigan, to begin her maiden trip on this day in 1943. The LEHIGH was one of two Maritimers (the other was the STEELTON) acquired by Bethlehem Steel Corp. as part of a government program to upgrade and increase the capacity of the Great Lakes fleet during World War II. Bethlehem exchanged three older vessels, the JOHNSTOWN of 1905, the SAUCON, and the CORNWALL, plus cash for the two Maritimers.

On 01 November 1880, NINA BAILEY (wooden schooner, 30 tons, built in 1873, at Ludington, Michigan) filled with water and went out of control in a storm on Lake Michigan. She struck the North Pier at St. Joseph, Michigan and capsized. Her crew climbed up on her keel and was rescued by the Lifesaving Service. The vessel later broke up in the waves.

The Grand Trunk Western Railway was granted permission by the Interstate Commerce Commission on November 1, 1978, to discontinue its Lake Michigan service between Muskegon, Michigan and Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

MAITLAND NO 1 made her maiden voyage on November 1, 1916, from Ashtabula, Ohio to Port Maitland, Ontario, transporting rail cars with coal for the steel mills at Hamilton, Ontario.

SCOTT MISENER of 1954 returned to service in the grain trade on November 1, 1986, after a 3-year lay-up.

On 1 November 1917, ALVA B (wooden steam tug, 74 foot, 84 gross tons, built in 1890, at Buffalo, New York) apparently mistook amusement park lights for the harbor markers at Avon Lake, Ohio during a storm. She struck bottom in the shallows and was destroyed by waves.

On 1 November 1862, BLACK HAWK (wooden brig, 138 foot, 385 tons, built in 1854, at Ohio City, Ohio) was carrying 19,000 bushels of corn and some stained glass when a gale drove her ashore and wrecked her near Point Betsie. In 1858, this vessel had sailed from Detroit, Michigan to Liverpool, England and back.

On 1 Nov 1862, CHIEF JUSTICE MARSHALL (2-mast wooden schooner, 105 foot, 182 tons, built in 1830, at Cape Vincent, New York) was driven aground between Dunkirk and Barcelona, New York during a storm. All hands were lost and the vessel was a total loss.

The Mackinac Bridge was opened to traffic on 01 November 1957.

The CITY OF MILWAUKEE (steel propeller carferry, 347 foot, 2,988 gross tons, built in 1931, at Manitowoc, Wisconsin) made her last run for Grand Trunk's rail car ferry service on 01 November 1978. In the fall of 1978, after termination of Grand Trunk's carferry service, she was then chartered to Ann Arbor Railroad. She is currently a museum ship at Manistee, Michigan.

Port Maitland Shipbreaking Ltd. began scrapping P & H Shipping's f.) ELMGLEN on 01 November 1984. She had a long career, being built in 1909, at Ecorse, Michigan as the a.) SHENANGO (steel propeller bulk freighter, 580 foot. 8,047 gross tons).

1907: WILLIAM A. REIS settled on the bottom of the St. Clair River following a collision with the MONROE C. SMITH. It was finally refloated for good on December 7 after several earlier efforts were short lived. The former last sailed as SASKADOC in 1966.

1908: TELEGRAM, a wooden passenger and freight carrier, stranded at Horse Island, Rattlesnake Harbour, Georgian Bay. The ship caught fire when the stove upset and the vessel was a total loss. All on board were rescued.

1912: The barge P.B. LOCKE, under tow of the JUNO, was lost in a storm on Lake Ontario enroute from Pointe Anne to Toronto.

1921: The Canadian wooden freighter CANOBIE, a) IRON KING received major storm damage on Lake Erie and arrived at Erie, Pa., in a leaking condition. The ship was stripped of valuable parts and abandoned. It later caught fire and subsequently scuttled about 2 miles offshore.

1924: GLENLYON stranded at Menagerie Island, Siskiwit Bay, Lake Superior while enroute to Port Colborne with 150,000 bushels of wheat. It had been seeking shelter in a storm but grounded as a total loss and then sank over the winter. All on board were saved.

1929: KEYSTATE and the schooner MAGGIE L. collided in the St. Lawrence near Clayton, NY, and the latter was lost.

1956: JAMES B. EADS and fleetmate GREY BEAVER were in a collision in western Lake Ontario and both received bow damage.

1965: High winds blew the Taiwanese freighter KALLY aground on a mud bank at Essexville, MI while inbound to load a cargo of scrap. The ship was released the next day.

2000: The Panamanian freighter OXFORD was only two years old when it came through the Seaway in November 1984. It got caught in typhoon Xangsene, as d) MANILA SPIRIT, on this date in 2000. The ship, still flagged in Panama, was driven aground and then sank off Hualien, Taiwan. One crewman was apparently able to swim to shore but the other 23 sailors were missing and presumed lost.

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


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