Great Lakes & Seaway Shipping News Archive

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* Report News

Welland Canal closed for the season

12/31 - The Welland Canal is closed for the shipping season, as the St. Lawrence Seaway readies for the deep freeze of winter. The Seaway said the canal closed a minute before midnight on Dec. 26. Ships still enroute from Lake Ontario to Lake Erie, or vice versa, had until the end of Dec. 30 to exit the canal, weather and operating conditions permitting, the Seaway said.


Port Reports -  August 21

Twin Ports - Al Miller
Roger Blough arrived in the Twin Ports early Friday to load at BNSF ore dock following American Spirit. A vessel that appeared to be Cason J. Callaway was fueling at the Duluth port terminal early in the morning, apparently before proceeding to Two Harbors to load. Tug Anglian Lady and barge were in port to load at Hallett 5.

Saginaw River - Todd Shorkey The tug Kathy Lynn arrived on the Saginaw River on Thursday, pushing a crane barge to the old Defore Shipbuilding slip, just below Liberty Bridge. Ryba Marine has been staging their equipment in the slip the for the past month in preparation for work in the spring. This will most likely be the final passage of the year on the Saginaw River.

Courtright, Ont. - Denny Dushane
For the 2011-12 shipping season, the total number of visits by vessel to the Lambton Generating Station in Courtright, Ont., totaled only eight. Leading the way was the Algolake with three visits, followed by her fleetmate Algosoo with two visits. Also delivering coal cargoes to the Lambton Generating Station were Canadian Enterprise with one visit, followed by fleetmate Canadian Olympic also with one visit. One other vessel, the Algoma Progress, unloaded the last cargo of the season at Lambton on October 10. It was also her first visit into Lambton with her new name, however she has unloaded there before under her former name Canadian Progress. Algolake unloaded the first coal cargo of the 2011 season at Lambton on May 13, which marked one of the latest season arrivals ever at Lambton. A reduction in coal usage and the news of the Canadian government wanting to have coal fired generating plants and units either shut down or switched over to natural gas in the future contributed to less coal deliveries to Lambton for 2011. Also interesting was the fact of the eight visits by vessel to Lambton for 2011, all were made by Algoma Central. In years past, CSL or Canada Steamship Lines would also unload coal cargoes there.

Toronto - Charlie Gibbons
The tug Molly M. and barge pulled into port briefly at Pier 52 late Thursday evening.


Barker unloads final coal cargo at St. Clair

12/31 - Interlake Steamship's 1,000-footer James R. Barker, on December 29, had the honor of delivering the last coal cargo for the 2011 shipping season at the St. Clair Power Plant. The Barker's arrival officially ended what was a very busy season that saw 146 visits by vessel with coal cargoes. Leading the way with the most visits was the Paul R. Tregurtha with 42 cargoes, 24 of those, however, were "split" loads for both St. Clair and Monroe Power Plants. Of note, Paul R. Tregurtha was the first ship arrival for the 2011 season, when she unloaded her first cargo March 28. Following the Tregurtha, American Century had 30 visits or cargos, four went to Monroe, while six went up to Essexville, Mich. Other vessels that visited the St. Clair Power Plant were: James R. Barker with 22 visits and four split loads to Monroe, the American Integrity also with 22 visits with eight split loads to Monroe, Indiana Harbor with 15 visits and eight split loads, four to Monroe and four to Essexville. Mesabi Miner had nine visits and one split load to Monroe, and the Walter J. McCarthy Jr. had five visits and three split loads to Monroe. A rare and first time visitor, American Spirit unloaded only one coal cargo at the St. Clair Power Plant on April 12. Of the 146 visits by vessel to the St. Clair Power Plant for 2011, there were also 48 cargoes or split loads delivered to the Monroe Power Plant and 10 cargoes or split loads delivered to Essexville for the Consumers Energy Dock or Karn-Weadock.

Denny Dushane


Great Lakes water levels on the rise

12/31 - Boaters and shippers will be happy to know water levels for Lake St. Clair and Detroit River are expected to be at their long-term averages this summer, while Lake Erie will be eight centimeters above normal, according to national experts who released predictions this week.

Heavy rainfall and warmer than average temperatures the past few months in this region has been “water in the bank” to help restore close to normal averages of lake levels on the Great Lakes. But if this winter’s mild conditions suddenly turn frigid that could spell bad news for area lake levels this summer, according to U.S. army Corps of Engineers and officials in Canada who jointly released their six-month forecast.

The greatest amount of evaporation occurs when winter weather turns frigid, said Rob Caldwell, Canadian Secretary for the International Lake Superior Board of Control.

Lake Superior is recognized as the biggest contributor in feeding lake levels in the Great Lakes with water flowing in this direction. Generally, ice this time of year blocks water entering Lake St. Clair, the Detroit River and Lake Erie, he said.

But for the first time in at least a decade so late into December there remains little to no ice anywhere on the Great Lakes, Caldwell said. As a result, both lakes Huron and Michigan as of Wednesday had levels 31 cm below normal because the flows have been so great in this direction. That has led to Lake Erie being 42 cm and Lake St. Clair 11 cm above normal as of this week.

“Outflows have been great with no ice,” Caldwell said.

Further hindering water levels in the northern lakes is major rainfalls did not occur there, meaning less to flow this way throughout the winter. “There is quite an imbalance,” Caldwell said.

If the weather remains mild that will spell good news for this area with water flowing in greater amounts from the northern lakes of Superior, Michigan and Huron — each predicted to be far below normal this summer. But suddenly frigid temperatures will create lower than average lake levels in this region.

”It’s been a mild winter and there has been less evaporation than you see in a normal winter,” he said. “If we get cold weather, the evaporation will go up rapidly. You will also see some significant lake effect snowstorms.

“If it stays mild we will be fine because there will be less evaporation over the course of the winter.”

Recreational boaters keep a close eye on lake levels and more marina dredging is needed if levels are too low. Fish habitat and biodiversity in wetlands is also altered greatly based on lake levels, while shippers have to carry lighter loads. “There is a lot of winter left, so the jury is still out,” Caldwell said.

The Windsor Star


More grain shipments ahead for Thunder Bay?

12/31 - Thunder Bay, Ont. – The federal government’s decision to end the 60-year monopoly of the Canadian Wheat Board on wheat and barley sales could mean more grain flowing through Thunder Bay elevators and possible expansion for some companies.

Thunder Bay Port Authority CEO Tim Heney said Wednesday there’s been “some talk of expansion plans among some of the smaller players. The larger players already have significant capacity right now,” he said.

“We don’t know just what will happen” as a result of the wheat board’s demise. “The changes don’t take place until next August. The fact that we have the largest grain storage and capacity at this point bodes well for us. We’re looking at it as an opportunity,” Heney said. “There has been no real impact yet. It’s really only speculation of what’s going to happen.”

Heney said some of the port’s larger grain-handlers will be looking for more grain because they’re currently operating below capacity. The Port of Thunder Bay has eight grain terminals with a total storage capacity of 1.2 million tonnes.

Wheat, durum, coarse grains, oilseeds, feed grains, peas and other pulse crops, as well as various grain byproducts, are handled annually by terminal operators Canadian Malting Co. Ltd., Cargill Ltd., Mission Terminal Inc., Parrish & Heimbecker Ltd., Richardson International, Viterra Inc. (two sites), and Western Grain By-Products.

Mission Terminal Inc. manager Paul Kennedy said the company is looking forward to handling more grain. “We added 16,500 tonnes of storage and appropriate conveyor systems to tie in with the plant” in an expansion project completed last year, he said.

As for the demise of Canadian Wheat Board, Kennedy said “we’re taking it positively . . . it’s going to be interesting times.

“You’ve got the wheat board still involved during a five-year phase-out period, farmers with direct involvement more so than ever, and new entrants as well,” he said. “You’re going to see new players enter the game for sure. It will provide opportunities in an unsure environment. Nothing is for certain, but our take on it is pretty positive.”

“We already work with a lot of farmers. In that regard, it’s going to be business as usual,” Kennedy added.

Mission Terminal sources and markets wheat, canola, barley, rye, flax, peas and oats. It operates facilities in Western Canada and at Thunder Bay, and ensures transportation through its producer car and rail network. It has a licensed storage capacity of 136,500 tonnes.

Two weeks ago, the Senate passed the Harper government’s legislation to strip the Canadian Wheat Board of its monopoly over western wheat and barley sales. The legislation passed despite the fact it is being challenged in the courts. The Conservatives have wanted to strip the wheat board of its monopoly for years, but were stymied in the past because they couldn’t muster the needed parliamentary majority. The government says the bill is a matter of justice. They say it gives western farmers the freedom to sell their product as they see fit. Opponents say the bill will leave farmers at the mercy of the railways and the big, international grain companies.

The board was created after the Great Depression to help Prairie farmers get better prices and greater market stability. It now sells 21 million tonnes of grain to customers in 70 countries.



Shipwreck near Sheboygan named to National Register

12/31 - Sheboygan, Wis. ¬ A ship lying on the Lake Michigan floor seven miles northeast of Sheboygan — and considered one of the best preserved of any Great Lakes shipwreck – has been named to the National Register of Historic Places.

The canaller Walter B. Allen, which sank in a storm in April 1880, lies upright and intact in about 170 feet of water and is remarkably well preserved, experts say.

"This ship is remarkably intact. It's one of the best preserved in Lake Michigan," said Jim Draeger, deputy state historic preservation officer at the Wisconsin Historical Society in Madison.

Putting the ship on the National Register of Historic Places "will help the public understand that ships like this exist in Great Lakes waters and educates them about the importance of Great Lakes shipping to the history of Wisconsin," Draeger said. "It also provides some protections to the property under state law."

According to the society's Maritime Underwater Archaeology web site The Walter B. Allen was called a canaller because it was built to fit through the Welland Canal locks that connect Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, bypassing Niagara Falls. It was built in Ogdensburg, N.Y., in 1866 and was the largest of the canaller class of schooners built on the Great Lakes. It typically shipped grain from Chicago to Buffalo or Oswego, N.Y., and then returned with coal.

It was while on the Chicago-to-Buffalo run, loaded with 19,000 bushels of grain, that the Walter B. Allen ran aground on April 11, 1880, on South Manitou Island at the north end of Lake Michigan in a storm. In doing so, the ship lost its large anchor and mainsail. A tug from Manistee, Mich., came to help release her and a steam pump, valued at $4,000 was placed on her deck to help her get to Milwaukee for repairs.

While in tow, a snowstorm picked up and pushed waves over the ship, filling her to the rail and extinguishing the fires of the pump, according to a history posted on the state historical society's website. The ship sunk within 20 minutes. All on board were rescued.

Because the ship sunk at a slow rate and landed on its bottom in very deep water, the ship and its contents were left almost completely intact, "making it a virtual time capsule of 1880 shipboard life," according to the web site.

"Its depth also placed it down below the wave action and ice that breaks up shallower wrecks, there's less oxygen," which speeds decay, Draeger said. "And until recently it also has been less accessible to salvagers and looters."

Mike Hansen, 45, the owner of Maritime Divers in Manitowoc said, "It's like a ship in a bottle, captured in time. It's a very pristine shipwreck. Until a couple years ago it was almost completely in tact, until one of the masts fell over."

Retired Sheboygan Police officer Jim N. Brotz, 75, has explored the wreck dozens of times and salvaged the ship's wheel on one of those dives when it was still legal to do so. Today, it's on display at the American Club in Kohler. "It's the only Great Lakes ship with a knob on it" to make it easier to turn, Brotz said. "That's kind of interesting."

Because of the ship's depth, Hansen said not just any diver can reach it. "Anything beyond 130 feet of water is considered a technical dive. It's not a dive that any diver can or should do. You have to have some specialized training," Hansen said.

The ship was officially listed on the register in early November. The register is the official national list of historic properties in America deemed worthy of preservation and is maintained by the National Park Service in the U.S. Department of the Interior. The Wisconsin Historical Society administers the program in Wisconsin.

Sheboygan Press


Updates -  December 31

News Photo Gallery
Lay-up list updated


Today in Great Lakes History -  December 31

In 1905, the B. F. JONES (Hull#15), 530 x 56 x 31 with a capacity of 10,000 tons, slid down the ways at Great Lakes Engineering Works, Ecorse, MI. The JONES was built at a cost of $400,000 for Jones and Laughlin Steel. Declared a constructive total loss after a collision with the Str. CASON J. CALLAWAY in the St. Marys River on August 21, 1955. Most of the hull was scrapped at Superior, Wisconsin in 1956. Part of the hull became the crane barge SSC-1. Her forward cabins and hatch crane and covers were installed on the SPARKMAN D. FOSTER.

In 1952, a total of 35 boats were laid up for the season at Cleveland. The WILLIAM FAIRBAIRN, GEORGE STEPHENSON, and ANDREW S. UPSON had storage cargoes of flax, the MICHAEL GALLAGHER had a storage cargo of wheat, and the remaining 31 vessels were empty.

In 1941, at the close of the shipping season, the Great Lakes fleet consisted of 513 boats of U.S. Registry and 279 boats of Canadian Registry.

At 4:00 p.m., 31 December 1895, the PURITAN (wooden propeller passenger/package freight steamer, 172 foot, 289 gross tons, built in 1887, at Benton Harbor, Michigan) burned at the dock in Oak Hill (Manistee), Michigan. She was a total loss.

Upon suggestion from the U.S. Maritime Commission, surplus World War II cargo vessels, many of which had laid up on the James River, were made available for sale under the Great Lakes Vessel Sales Act of 1950 (enacted September 28, 1950) to be converted for Great Lakes use. The Act allowed Great Lakes fleets to purchase up to 10 surplus ships by December 31, 1951, and receive a 90% cost subsidy to convert and refurbish them for Lakes use. The first such conversion occurred when the Cleveland-Cliffs Iron Co. of Cleveland, Ohio bought the NOTRE DAME VICTORY on December 10, 1950.

The GEORGE M. HUMPHREY of 1953 was laid up for the last time at the old Great Lakes Engineering Works slip at River Rouge, Michigan, beginning December 31, 1983.

The QUEDOC, a.) NEW QUEDOC, was laid up for the last time on December 31, 1984, at Toronto, Ontario, alongside the SENATOR OF CANADA.

On 31 December 1884, ADMIRAL (wooden propeller steam tug, 49 gross tons, built in 1883, at Chicago, Illinois) had her boiler explode in Chicago harbor. All four of the crew was killed.

In 1884, the PERE MARQUETTE NO 1 ran aground at Ludington, Michigan.

December 31, 1919 - The entire Ann Arbor carferry fleet was tied up in Frankfort, Michigan due to bad weather.

On 31 December 1889, H. M. Loud of Oscoda, Michigan sold the 551-ton wooden schooner ANGUS SMITH to Mitchell Brothers of Marine City, Michigan, for $16,000. The vessel was built in 1871.

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


Grand River registers new tug and barge combo

12/30 - Grand River Navigation Co., Avon Lake, Ohio, is now listed as the new owner of the tug Beverly Anderson and the self-unloading barge Mary Turner, according to the U.S. Coast Guard Vessel Documentation Web site. The tug was built in 1982 at Marinette Marie Corp., while the barge was built the same year at Bay Shipbuilding Co. in Sturgeon Bay, Wis. Work is expected to be performed on the Turner in Mexico over the winter, with additional alterations planned at Bay Shipbuilding when the pair come into the lakes in 2012. Renames are expected. Reports also indicate the 250’ unloading boom salvaged from the scrapped laker Joseph H. Frantz may replace the Turner’s current, shorter boom. The tug and barge have been operating off-lakes since they were built.


Lower Lakes’ latest, Tecumseh, arrives in Montreal

12/30 - Lower Lakes Towing’s newest acquisition, Tecumseh, the ex-saltie Tina Litrico, arrived in Montreal at 2200 Thursday evening. Tecumseh is painted in Lower Lakes colors, however the company stack logo does not show in a photo taken earlier as she sailed up the St Lawrence at Quebec City. Tecumseh, with the help of the Ocean Group tugs Ocean Georgie Bain and Ocean Serge Genois, placed the Tecumseh at Shed 6, up in the old Port of Montreal, duration unknown.

Kent Malo, Rene Beauchamp


Port Reports -  December 30

Twin Ports - Al Miller
Winter weather conditions remain relatively mild in the Twin Ports as the season winds down. Early Thursday traffic included Mesabi Miner loading at Midwest Energy Terminal. The terminal’s schedule currently shows only three more loadings for this season, with the Miner arriving for layup on Jan. 17. Elsewhere Thursday, Burns Harbor was loading at BNSF ore dock. John G. Munson, which arrived in Duluth late Wednesday afternoon to fuel, was anchored off Superior entry waiting for the BNSF dock.

Grand Haven, Mich. - Dick Fox
Manitowoc paid a surprise visit to Meekhof's D & M Dock on Harbor Island next to the power plant. Instead of the usual load of stone it discharged a load of coal. It is reported that the coal was destined for the municipal power plant in Holland, Mich., but that harbor has shoaled up. It is assumed that the coal will be trucked down to Holland.

Buffalo, N.Y. - Brian W.
American Mariner departed Thursday around 5 a.m.

Hamilton, Ont. - Eric Holmes
Thursday the CCGC Griffon departed Burlington at 1 p.m. from the Canada Centre for Inland Waters for Port Weller. Algoma Transport departed Hamilton at 1:15 p.m. from Dofasco for Goderich. Tug Molly M departed at 3:30 p.m. for Toronto. Tug Vigilant 1 and barge departed at 4:30 p.m. also for Toronto. Cuyahoga arrived at 5 p.m. with canola for Pier 11W and for winter lay up.

Oshawa, Ont. - Andre Blanchard
The Mckeil Marine tugs Evans McKeil and John Spence docked in Oshawa Thursday.

Pictou, NS - Mac Mackay
Mississippiborg was able to refloat itself on a rising tide late Wednesday evening. The ship went to anchor, and may return alongside for survey. Pictou Harbour has a sandy bottom with numerous rock outcroppings, such as the one that ripped the bottom out of the barge Sault au Cochon Nov. 8, 2010. The barge was damaged beyond repair and was broken up in Pictou. Damage to Mississippiborg is expected to be minimal.


Last downbound vessel in the Seaway

12/30 - Catherine Desgagnes will be the last downbound vessel in the Seaway for 2011. The Desgagnes departed Valleyfield at 10:30 a.m. for Quebec City, The vessel should have cleared the St Lambert Lock around 5 p.m. Thursday.

Kent Malo


'Suspicious' fire guts 109-year-old former Great Lakes ferry

12/30 - St. Catharines, Ont. – St. Catharines fire inspectors are probing what they say is a suspicious blaze that gutted a lakeside restaurant in Port Dalhousie Wednesday morning. Fire crews were called to the converted 109-year-old boat known as Tokyo Joe's Marina Bar & Grill, docked at the end of Lighthouse Rd., around 6 a.m., said St. Catharines fire department deputy Chief Larry Jones.

"Because it was a boat, we had some difficulty with access," he said.

At first, firefighters tried to stop the fire from spreading, he said. It took about 40 minutes to put the blaze down, but fire crews remained on scene until late morning. Jones said while fire prevention officers are still investigating the cause of the blaze, it's considered suspicious because it appears the boat was not locked up at the time of the fire.

The fire department said the blaze caused about $500,000 damage to the boat, owned by local restaurateur Nino Donatelli. In its time, the boat has been a tugboat, a package freighter and a passenger ferry before being converted to a restaurant. It was built in 1902 and used as a fire tugboat in Michigan before it was sold to Owen Sound Transportation and converted into a freighter/ferry named the Normac. It remained in service until 1968.

The boat was converted to a restaurant, where it floated in the Toronto harbour until it was sunk after being struck by a Toronto Island ferry in 1981. Five years later, it was raised to be used again as a restaurant and most recently was owned by Donatelli. Tokyo Joe's was not open for business this year, he said, because he was too busy with his other ventures.

"I have no insurance," Donatelli said. "It's resting on the bottom, so it cannot sink. It's made of steel, so I figured it could not burn. I guess I was wrong. I have half a million (dollars) in that, and it looks like it was totally destroyed."


St. Joseph Dredging scheduled to start this week

12/30 - St. Joseph, Mich. – The Lake Michigan harbor in St. Joseph could be open to shipping by the end of the week if the weather stays calm, officials say.

MCM Marine, a Sault Ste. Marie firm, was awarded a $99,000 contract to dredge a buildup of sand near the mouth of the St. Joseph River that's preventing large ships from entering the harbor. The project is scheduled to begin this week and will take about two days to complete.

But if the company can't get two calm days to dredge between now and mid-January, the project will likely have to put off until spring, said Tom O'Bryan, an area engineer with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Lake Michigan office. "They can't do anything without good weather," O'Bryan said.

O'Bryan said MCM Marine had an advantage over other bidders - its dredging equipment was already at the harbor. The company had intended to leave the equipment there for the winter. "That gave them the advantage of being the low bid on this project," O'Bryan said.

The project will remove about 6,000 cubic yards of soil from the harbor bottom off the piers, creating a 200-foot-wide and 20-foot-deep channel. The channel is only about 16 feet deep in places, which does not give ships enough clearance. The Army Corps was given $100,000 in emergency funding for the unusual late-season work, which could allow as many as six vessels to reach port.

The harbor has been closed to commercial shipping due to heavy shoaling near the ends of the twin piers. The buildup of sand is believed to have been caused by powerful northwest winds this fall. In early December two ships had to turn back without delivering their loads because of the shallow water.


Updates -  December 30

News Photo Gallery
Lay-up list updated


Today in Great Lakes History -  December 30

On December 30, 1987, the THOMAS WILSON under tow in the North Atlantic heading to be scrapped, parted her towline and sunk near position 34.08'N by 61.35'12"W (approximately in line with Cape Hatteras, North Carolina) early the next day.

GEORGE M. HUMPHREY (Hull#796) was launched December 30, 1926, for Kinsman Transit Co. at Lorain, Ohio, by the American Ship Building Co. Renamed b.) CAPT JOHN ROEN in 1945, c.) ADAM E. CORNELIUS in 1948 and d.) CONSUMERS POWER in 1958, scrapped at Taiwan in 1988.

The first steel carferry, PERE MARQUETTE, was launched in nearly completed form on December 30, 1896. The ship was built for the Flint & Pere Marquette Railroad (predecessor to the Pere Marquette) and entered service just a few weeks later.

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


Port Reports -  December 29

Duluth, Minn. – Al Miller
CSL Niagara arrived in Duluth shortly after dawn to fuel and then proceed to the BNSF terminal in Superior to load iron ore pellets. Burns Harbor was anchored off shore waiting its turn to load. John G. Munson is also expected the terminal but it was last reported waiting for weather behind the Keweenaw Peninsula with no estimated time arrival at Superior. Elsewhere in port, Paul R. Tregurtha was expected to arrive in the afternoon for Midwest Energy Terminal.

Marquette, Mich. - Rod Burdick
Michipicoten arrived Wednesday afternoon at the Upper Harbor to load ore.

Sturgeon Bay, Wis. – Scott Best
Wednesday afternoon the barge Lewis J. Kuber was towed out of the graving dock at Bayship and placed at Berth 3 for final fit out. The Selvick tugs Jimmy L, William C Selvick, Cameron O, and Sharon M. Selvick assisted in the move. The Kuber is now sporting full Grand River Navigation colors but has not been re-named since her sale to Grand River in February.

Grand Haven, Mich. - Dick Fox
The Manistee came in about 4 p.m. with the final load of coal for the season for the Grand Haven Board of Light and Power plant on Harbor Island. This may well be the last load for the season, as the other docks report no activity.

Buffalo, NY. – Brian W.
American Mariner remained in port Wednesday evening. Once she leaves, that will likely be the last commercial vessel transit for the year.

Montreal – Kent Malo
Gordon C. Leitch laid up at Alexandria Pier Jetty 3, Port of Montreal, on Tuesday.

Pictou, N.S. - Mac Mackay
The Wagenborg cargo ship Mississippiborg stranded while leaving Pictou, Nova Scotia, Wednesday morning. The ship was pumping ballast while hoping to float off at high water Wednesday night.


Last vessels for Seaway listed

12/29 - The last Canadian vessel upbound at the St. Lambert Lock will be the Algoma Spirit on Dec. 28, upbound light from Trois Rivieres, Quebec, to Hamilton, Ontario, for winter lay-up. The last Canadian vessel downbound at the St. Lambert Lock will be the Salarium on Dec. 28 from Superior, Wis. with coal for Sydney, Nova Scotia

The last upbound Saltie at the St. Lambert Lock was the tanker Jette Theresa of Denmark on Dec. 22, bound for Hamilton, Ontario. She was also the last downbound saltie when she heads outbound, arriving at the St. Lambert Lock on Dec. 28.

Denny Dushane


Icebreakers have slow season so far on Great Lakes

12/29 - Duluth, Minn. – Ice breaking operations are supposed to be underway in the Great Lakes. The trouble is there isn’t any ice to break.

The National Weather Service and Environment Canada report virtually no ice cover on any of the Great Lakes with only a little near-shore ice on Lake Superior. That compares to about one-third ice cover in some of the coldest Decembers.

Duluth National Weather Service Meteorologist Kevin Kraujalis says the last time Lake Superior had less than one percent ice cover was 1990. The most for mid to late December was 35 percent ice in 1989. Duluth Seaway Port Authority Director Adolph Ojard says ships are able to move without help from tugs or ice breakers.

“We have ships moving through the St. Lawrence River right now to Montreal to end the season. It’s an ice-free movement. It’s literally a summer movement out there for the vessels in terms of ice conditions,” he said.

Ojard says the downside is ice slows evaporation rates so without ice now, lake levels might be lower next season. Coast Guard Vessel Traffic Control Specialist Rick Burch at Sault St. Marie, Mich. says usually their icebreakers are working hard instead of hardly working.

“The only one that’s working out there now is the Coast Guard Cutter Alder in Duluth. They’re just running up and down the tracks in Duluth and Superior harbor keeping the ice loose there. It’s about 2” to 4” there but lakers should have no problem,” Burch said.

Temperatures approached 50 degrees Monday at the Duluth-Superior harbor. Ice cutter Alder Captain Mary Ellen Durley says her crew was soaking up the sun.

“They didn’t have all their extra protective gear on. They didn’t need to have it. I wouldn’t say they were in summer shorts or anything but definitely sleeves rolled up,” she said.

The shipping season will end as regularly scheduled, Jan.15, when the Soo Locks close for winter repairs.

Wisconsin Public Radio


Today in Great Lakes History -  December 29

B. F. JONES was launched December 29, 1906, as a.) GENERAL GARRETSON.

KINSMAN INDEPENDENT was launched in 1906, as a.) WILLIAM B. KERR (Hull#72) at Chicago, Illinois, by Chicago Ship Building Co. for the Weston Transit Co.

Kinsman's new GEORGE M. HUMPHREY was christened on December 29, 1926.

The GOLDEN HIND was laid up for the last time on December 29, 1985, at Toronto, Ontario.

On 29 December 1813, ARIEL (4-gun armed schooner, 112 tons, built in 1813, at Erie, Pennsylvania, as part of Perry's fleet) ran aground in a squall at Black River (now Buffalo) and was burned by the British.

CAROLINE (wooden sidewheeler, 71 foot, 46 tons, built in 1822, at New York City, New York) was chartered to transport arms and munitions to Navy Island near Buffalo. On 29 December 1837, she was commandeered by about 60 Canadian rebels under the command of a Royal Navy officer at Schlosser on the Niagara River. In the fight that followed, she was set afire, abandoned and allowed to drift down the river. Some sources say that she went over the Falls. This incident caused hostile feelings along the U.S. northeastern frontier for many months.

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


Port Reports -  December 28

Marquette, Mich. - Rod Burdick
On a windy, snowy Tuesday morning at the Upper Harbor, Herbert C. Jackson and James L. Kuber loaded at the ore dock. Dorothy Ann and Pathfinder were at anchor, waiting to load.

Sarnia, Ont. - Mike Cunningham
Tuesday afternoon the Capt. Henry Jackman shifted over to the elevators from the Government Dock to allow the Algolake to secure dockside. She arrived 18:30 with assistance from tug Pride. The Jackman then shifted back to raft alongside her.


Updates -  December 28

News Photo Gallery
Lay-up list updated


Today in Great Lakes History -  December 28

HENRY FORD II was laid up in the Rouge Steel slip at Dearborn, Michigan, on December 28, 1988.

On 28 December 1907, CALDERA (steel propeller freighter, 504 foot, 6,328 gross tons) was launched at W. Bay City, Michigan.

On 28 December 1881, the steamer R J GORDON arrived in Port Huron from Marine City on her maiden voyage with a large number of passengers. She was powered with a steam engine with an 18" cylinder and 20" stroke. Her dimensions were 116 feet long with a 26 foot beam. She cost nearly $20,000 and was built to run between Algonac and Lexington.

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


Port Reports -  December 27

Owen Sound, Ont. - Wayne Brown
Algomarine and Algoway arrived at Owen Sound Monday morning, reversing into the harbor for winter lay-up. Fraser Marine trucks and staff were present awaiting their arrival. Algomarine tied up on the east pier and the Algoway on the west pier.

Goderich, Ont.- Dale Baechler
Algoma Transfer laid up in Goderich’s inner harbor at Dock #5 Saturday.

Sarnia, Ont. - Mike Cunningham
Algorail and Capt. Henry Jackman arrived for layup at Sarnia late Christmas Eve/early morning, the Algorail taking her usual spot at the Smith Dock, and the Jackman at the Government Dock.

Buffalo, N.Y. - Brian W.
American Mariner arrived with grain for General Mills at 9:30 p.m. Monday.

Hamilton, Ont. - Eric Holmes
Monday, the tug John Spence and barge Niagara Spirit arrived at 5:30 p.m. with steel plate for Dofasco from Cleveland, after switching barges with the tug Salvor in Port Colborne. Robert S. Pierson departed at 7 p.m. with slag from Dofasco for Picton. Jette Theresa departed at 8 p.m. for Montreal. Algowood arrived in Hamilton at 8:15 p.m. with iron ore pellets from Port Cartier for Dofasco. Mississagi arrived in Hamilton at 10:30 p.m. for winter lay up at Pier 10-6.

Toronto, Ont. - Charlie Gibbons
Stephen B. Roman came in on Christmas afternoon.

Halifax - Mac Mackay
Spruceglen arrived Dec. 26 and tied up with extra mooring lines and fire wires. She looks to be in for a long spell. CSL Spirit has been in since Dec. 20. Fire wires are steel cables rigged from the mooring bits on the offside of the ship, so that they may be picked up by a tug in case of fire or emergency, and without any assistance from a deck crew.


Frankfort taking over lighthouse

12/27 - Frankfort, Mich. – For decades, the City of Frankfort's North Breakwater Light on Lake Michigan has been a reminder of its maritime heritage as a port that bustled with some of the first ferries hauling rail cars and their cargo -- lumber, locally grown fruit, goods from the East Coast -- to Wisconsin and beyond.

So when city leaders learned the Coast Guard was considering transferring ownership of the lighthouse, they began a year-long process to persuade the federal government that the city could preserve the 67-foot-tall beacon that marks the entrance to Frankfort's harbor.

In early December, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced that the city would take ownership of the lighthouse.

Salazar also said that a second lighthouse in New York, the Huntington Harbor Light Station on Long Island Sound, would go to the nonprofit Huntington Lighthouse Preservation Society.

The lighthouses are among more than 60 that have changed hands since Congress passed the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act in 2000, including 15 in Michigan.

The law was designed to transfer historic light stations that no longer operate or that the Coast Guard cannot afford to maintain -- at no cost -- to nonprofits or local, state or federal government agencies that promise to care for them for the public benefit.

"The Coast Guard doesn't have the budget to maintain the physical structures of these lights," said Jim Gabbert, a historian with the National Park Service and coordinator of the lighthouse program in Washington, D.C.

The upper portion of the lighthouse in Frankfort, on Michigan's west coast about 40 miles southwest of Traverse City, was built in 1912 and was bolted to a new, 25-foot-tall base in 1932. It has six stories, and the steel, double-rung ladders connecting each level may be original.

The lighthouse was not built with living quarters. Its 10-sided cast-iron lantern still works, the light magnified by a fourth-order Fresnel lens.

Invented in 1822 in France by Augustin Fresnel, the lens is described as a beehive of prisms and mirrors that gather and intensify light into a strong, solid beam that can be seen from afar. The Coast Guard will continue to maintain the lantern and the rare lens "remains the possession of the federal government in perpetuity ... these are museum objects," Gabbert said.

Joshua Mills, the city superintendent, said the lighthouse needs new paint, an environmental assessment to test for lead-based paint and asbestos, and a structural analysis. He said the city will seek donations and grants to pay for maintenance and preservation costs.

Mills said the city would eventually like to restore the interior of the lighthouse to its original condition. The lighthouse is not accessible to people with disabilities, so it will not be open to the public. The city may, however, allow tours by appointment.

The lighthouse, Mills said, stands off a beautiful beach and "it's our symbol, our constant reminder of our maritime heritage, a structure that provides a safe means of getting in and out of our port. ... When you think of Frankfort, you immediately visualize this structure."

Detroit Free Press


Today in Great Lakes History -  December 27

The SAVIC, b.) CLIFFS VICTORY cleared the Welland Canal on Christmas night 1985, and finally anchored at Pointe aux Trembles near Montreal, Quebec, on December 27, awaiting another load of scrap. The SAVIC remained there the entire winter, because the underwriters ordered that her hull be re-enforced by welding straps to her stress points for her overseas journey.

The THOMAS W. LAMONT as a single tow arrived at Aliaga, Turkey, on December 27, 1987, where she was scrapped. The LAMONT was one of the last bulkers that retained her telescoping hatch covers to the very end.

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


Port Reports -  December 26

Marquette, Mich. - Rod Burdick
Michipicoten loaded ore Christmas Day afternoon at the Upper Harbor.

St. Marys River
Shortly after departing Essar Steel, the upbound tug Victory and barge James L. Kuber dropped both anchors at about 10 p.m. Sunday just off Point Aux Pins. They were underway shortly thereafter and headed to anchor in Waiska Bay. They resumed their upbound trip about 10:30 Monday morning.


Updates -  December 26

Weekly Website Updates
News Photo Gallery


Great Lakes shipping collection to be auctioned

12/26 - There will be a marine and nautical nostalgia auction on Dec. 28 in Burlington, Ont. The auction has over 400 lots of Great Lakes and oceanic related items from one collection owned by Jim McCarver from Simcoe. To view the items or to bid online (shipping is available to the US and Canada) visit this link


Today in Great Lakes History -  December 26

In 1981, the steamer ENDERS M. VOORHEES laid up for the last time at the Hallett Dock #5 in Duluth, Minnesota.

On 26 December 1916, the wreck of the wooden self-unloading freighter TOPEKA was leveled by dynamiting. She sank just off Windsor/Sandwich, Ontario, in the Detroit River on 15 April 1916, in a collision with the small steamer CHRISTOPHER. Her machinery was removed prior to dynamiting.

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


Port Reports -  December 25

Cleveland , Ohio - Jake Kniola
The American Courage went to anchor on December 23 off Cleveland entering port on Saturday.

Hamilton, Ont. - Eric Holmes
Saturday the Richileau departed at 12:30 p.m. from Pier 26 with slag for Trois Rivieres Quebec. Federal Yukina departed US Steel at 1:45 p.m. with coke for Mobile Alabama. Algoma Navigator arrived at 4:30 p.m. for winter lay up at Pier 22 after spending most of the day cleaning holds in the lake. Algoma Discovery arrived at 5 p.m. for winter lay up

Kingston, Ont. - Ron Walsh
The Evans McKeil was pushing the barge Labrador Spirit westbound Friday night. According to radio traffic with Seaway Clayton they hit something, possibly a light standard, and were taking water in the stern of the barge. They are carrying aluminum to Oswego but diverted to Kingston. They are now at the old elevator dock in Kingston. An inspector has been aboard the barge and the crew are working to get the tug and barge combo back on the water. The stern of the barge is still quite low in the water.

Montreal - Rene Beauchamp
The newest vessel in the Lower Lakes Towing fleet, the Tecumseh, is expected in Montreal towards the end of the month. Her ETA in Montreal is on Dec. 29 in the afternoon.


Updates -  December 25

News Photo Gallery


Today in Great Lakes History -  December 25

The E G GRACE carried 14,797 tons of taconite ore on her last trip out of Taconite Harbor, Minnesota bound for South Chicago, Illinois and then was laid up at Ashtabula, Ohio on December 25, 1976, with engine trouble which often plagued the six "Al" ships powered with Lentz-Poppet engines. The lay-up of the E G GRACE lasted until April, 1984, when she became the first Maritimer to be sold for scrap.

On 25 December 1849, the SISKAWIT (wooden schooner, 50 t, built in 1840) was sailing light on Lake Superior when a storm drove her onto a bar near the mouth of the Chocolay River, southeast of Marquette, Michigan where she was wrecked. Those aboard had “kidnapped” her and her cargo at L’Anse a few days earlier.

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


Port Reports -  December 24

Twin Ports – Al Miller
With limited visibility in an early morning snow, the Roger Blough was slowly motoring across St. Louis Bay on Friday morning. It stood off the end of the ore dock until another vessel cleared at midday. Mesabi Miner was fueling early Friday and then proceeded to Midwest Energy Terminal after John B. Aird cleared.

St. Marys River
Friday upbound traffic included Manitowoc and Paul R. Tregurtha. Downbounders included James R. Barker, Dorothy Ann/Pathfinder, Robert S. Pierson and Salarium.

Toledo, Ohio
The saltie Whistler arrived at the Anderson’s grain dock Wednesday night and began loading Thursday.

Sandusky, Ohio - Jim Spencer
CSL Laurentien loaded Friday at Sandusky's NorfolkSouthern coal dock. She was eastbound on Lake Erie Friday night.


Cruise ship Yorktown to dock at Sheboygan in 2012

12/24 - Sheboygan, Wis. – Sheboygan's economy and status as a tourist destination will get a boost with the announcement that a cruise ship will stop here several times next summer.

Packages are available for a week-long cruise aboard the 138-passenger Yorktown, which will include seven stops in Sheboygan next summer from June through August. Sheboygan will be the ship's only Wisconsin stop.

"We're definitely excited about it," said Sheboygan County Tourism Director Amy Wilson. "It's another way to put Sheboygan on the map."

Having Sheboygan a stop for Great Lakes cruise ships has long been a goal for city economic development leaders, especially since the development of the South Pier area. One impediment has always been the shallowness of the Sheboygan River, which in the lower river area is only about four feet deep, but will be deepened to 14 feet deep in 2012 by the Army Corps of Engineers.

The Yorktown, which has a draft of eight feet, next summer will anchor between the north and south break waters and then shuttle its passengers ashore and back during its one-day stop, city Development Manager Chad Pelishek said.

After 2012, the 257-foot-long, 43-foot-wide Yorktown, and potentially other cruise ships, will be able to berth along the South Pier. "This has been a goal of the South Pier district since it was built, to be a cruise ship terminal," Pelishek said.

The Yorktown's one-week cruises begin or end in Detroit and Chicago. In between, besides Sheboygan, its one-day stops are in Bayfield, Ontario, Manitoulin Island in Lake Huron, Whitefish Point in Lake Superior, Mackinac Island, Mich., and Holland, Mich.

Base prices for tickets for the seven-day passage range from about $4,000 to $7,000. The ship sails at night and arrives at each destination in the morning, offloading its passengers, who re-board at night.

"We're working on a welcome wagon to get them into the downtown so they can see what Sheboygan offers," Pelishek said. Wilson said public transportation will also be made available to take ship passengers to locations outside downtown. Wilson said also hopes to develop pre-planned packages that ship passengers could purchase.

"We're hoping to do some outreach with local businesses and coordinate with the Harbor Centre Business Improvement District and do some special things," Wilson said.

State tourism data estimates that the economic impact of a single day trip is about $60 per person. With about 1,000 visitors coming to Sheboygan aboard the Yorktown, that means the direct economic impact will be in the neighborhood of about $60,000, Wilson estimated.

"The impact would rise above that with some preplanned countywide tours," she said.

The bigger impact, however would be if it helped draw other cruise ships to the city. "In our long range plan, we developed facilities to make Sheboygan a destination port," Pelishek said. "And hopefully this will be the start to help make Sheboygan attractive to others. It should be something good for the future."

Sheboygan Press


Today in Great Lakes History -  December 24

In 1973, a crewman from the Cleveland Cliffs steamer FRONTENAC fell overboard at 11:41 p.m. while the boat was at anchor off Stoneport, Mich. The FRONTENAC launched a lifeboat to search for the missing man. When he could not be found and the lifeboat had trouble returning to the FRONTENAC, a distress call went out. The American Steamship Company steamer McKEE SONS, Captain Robert J. Laughlin, responded and received a Citation of Merit for rescuing the six sailors in the lifeboat on Christmas morning.

December 24, 1969 - The CITY OF FLINT 32 made her last trip out of Ludington, Mich., pulled by two tugs. She was sold to Norfolk and Western Railway Company to be converted into a river ferry barge and renamed b.) ROANOKE by Nicholson’s Terminal & Dock Co. at Ecorse, Mich.

On 24 December 1910, ALASKA (wooden propeller bulk freighter, 165 foot, 348 tons, built in 1879, at Detroit, Michigan) was sheltering from a storm a few miles from Tobermory, Ont., when she caught fire from an overheated boiler and burned to a total loss. She was originally built as a side-wheel passenger vessel, her engine came from the JOHN SHERMAN of 1865 and went into the steamer FRANK E KIRBY of 1890.

On 24 December 1875, the Port Huron Times listed the following vessels at winter lay-up at St. Clair, Mich. -- Scows: ANNA H MOORE, A MONROE, MYRTLE, CLIPPER VISION, J SNADERS and B MONROE; Steamers: BERTIE DAHLKE and HELEN; Schooners: JOHN RICE and M R GOFFE; Barges: MILLIN and JUSTIN R. WHITING; Tug: C.M. FARRAR; and Dredge: H LIFIAN.

On Christmas Eve of 1979, while at her temporary dock in Milwaukee, Wis., the steamer E. M. FORD sank when gale force winds forced her from her moorings and repeatedly slammed her bow into the dock facing. By Christmas morning her stern was settled on the bottom, her engine room flooded. Her storage cargo of powdered cement was partially flooded also. By afternoon, the proud steamer lay sunken at her dock. She stayed on the bottom for several weeks as crews had to remove a solid 3 feet of hardened cement and patch her holed bow. On January 20th, 1980, she was refloated and towed to Bay Shipbuilding where work began on rebuilding her.

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


USCG Mackinaw, repairs complete, preps for icebreaking

12/23 - Cheboygan, Mich. - A leaking bow-thruster repaired, the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Mackinaw is back at sea, training for the upcoming ice-breaking season. The Mac departed the Fraser Shipyard and sailed across Lake Superior last weekend, arriving in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., for a meeting of ice-breaking cutters to discuss winter strategies on Monday. She is now back at her Cheboygan base.

Cheboygan Daily Tribune


Ship scrapping project brings winter employment in the Sault

12/23 - Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. - Two local firms, MCM Marine and Reid Metals, will dismantle the former Lake Michigan car ferry Arthur K. Atkinson, according to a press release jointly issued by Darwin "Joe" McCoy and Ed Reid.

"We're pleased to be able to offer additional employment for the Sault area," said those orchestrating the project, adding that the careful demolition and recycling of this vessel will protect the water and eliminate future potential environmental risks.

The Arthur K. Atkinson, one of the last existing examples of a railcar /Great Lakes ferry, made her maiden voyage in January 1917, sailing as the Ann Arbor #6, according to historian and enthusiast William Keetly, who compiled the information upon learning the vessel was being docked in the Sault for the final time.

Keetly provided a great deal of interesting information, highlighted by the December 1923 sinking of the steamer Lakeland approximately 9 miles off of Sturgeon Bay, Wis., where the Ann Arbor #6 rescued 27 crewman from lifeboats in a northwest gale.

According to Keetly, the Ann Arbor #6 was renamed the Arthur K. Atkinson in 1959 and she subsequently became the first car ferry on the Great Lakes powered by diesel engines.

Her final years were filled with inactivity, however, starting with engine trouble in 1973. The Arthur K. Atkinson made a brief resurgence in August 1980 and ran between Frankfort and Manitowoc, Wis. until the ferry service between those two ports ceased in April of 1982. Since then, Keetly writes, the vessel had been towed to numerous locations under different owners before finally winding up in Detour in November 2003.

Reid and McCoy credited the Interlake Steamship Company, the DeTour Dock Company, U.S. Marshall Service, Wellington Marine and the U.S. Coast Guard for helping to make this project a reality. Employees of MCM Marine will dismantle the old ship, according to the press release, after removing items of historical significance for preservation.


10,000 tonnes of gravel slides into Detroit River

12/23 - Windsor, Ont. – Approximately 10,000 tonnes of gravel slid into the Detroit River on Dec. 17. Wet weather and a waterlogged shoreline are to blame for the accident. No one was injured.

The spill occurred at a Windsor Port Authority gravel dock leased by LaFarge when the dock gave way and slid into the water. Gravel docks are not manmade structures but rather simply shoreline on which ships unload their cargo.

"When we have a very wet period of time, there will be a slide into the river," port authority president and CEO David Cree said. "It doesn’t happen that often." Saturday's spill was the fourth in approximately 15 years.

Cree said engineers have been on site this week trying to determine how to make the docks stronger in order to prevent future collapses. In the meantime, Cree said the spill is not a safety hazard.

"The material that went into the river will not have an environmental impact," Cree said.

He also said boating navigation will not be affected by the accident and the remainder of the lengthy dock is still useable. The shipping season ends in a week and crews will turn their attention to scooping the gravel out of the river.

"It’s not terribly sophisticated," Cree said of the removal process. "We’ll be working over the course of the winter to rectify the situation."

Tim Byrne of the Essex Region Conservation Authority said the impact of the spill is minimal and short-term because it's winter, the water is very deep and the stone will be removed. "It's still being looked at," Byrne said. "There shouldn't be any impact on fisheries."

CBC News


Port Reports -  December 23

Marquette, Mich. - Rod Burdick
Fleet mates Kaye E. Barker and Pathfinder loaded ore Thursday morning at the Upper Harbor. During the late afternoon, Michipicoten arrived to load ore, and John J. Boland was heading to the Lower Harbor to unload coal.

St. Marys River - Roger LeLievre
The Ontario Northland ferry Chi-Cheemaun passed downbound at the Soo around 7 a.m. Thursday. She was returning to her Owen Sound, Ont., home port after drydocking at Thunder Bay.

Sandusky and Marblehead - Jim Spencer
Algoma Transport loaded Thursday at the LaFarge Marblehead stone dock. She was followed at the dock by the Cuyahoga, which began loading during the early evening.
Canada Steamship Lines' Laurentien was expected to load overnight at the Norfolk Southern coal dock in Sandusky, having completed off-loading her previous cargo in Toledo. She will likely be the last ship loaded until next week as the dock will be closed Saturday and Sunday for Christmas.

Toronto, Ont. - Frank Hood, Charlie Gibbons
Montrealais arrived Tuesday morning and went into winter layup at Pier 51. Capt. Henry Jackman was unloading at Redpath. The Port of Toronto website shows Algoma Navigator arriving at 2200 on Dec. 23 and leaving at 1100 on Dec. 24, just a short 13-hour stop.


Weather permitting, St. Joseph harbor work will occur in 3 weeks

12/23 - St. Joseph, Mich. - If the weather cooperates, emergency dredging of a small section of the St. Joseph River harbor will take place within the next three weeks and allow several more ships in before the shipping season ends, officials said.

If all goes well, municipalities will get their road salt from local docks rather than paying more money to get salt by trucks.

The Army Corps of Engineers has $100,000 available for the unusual late-season work, aimed at reopening the harbor and allowing as many as six vessels to reach port. On Tuesday U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, announced the funding from the Army Corps' Detroit District office.

Because of the emergency situation, the Corps has shortened the process to receive bids before awarding a contract, said John Gruchot, planning director for Berrien County. "They're fully committed to do it," said Gruchot, who described the effort as "super-fast tracking."

Bids are being accepted through Monday, and the goal is to get work started as soon as possible. Because the harbor handles commercial shipping, the Corps is responsible for dredging, pier maintenance and other work.

The scheduled project is small in scale for dredging, removing about 6,000 cubic yards of soil from the harbor bottom off the piers. But the work would create a 200-foot-wide channel with 20 feet of water, adequate for ships to get through.

The dredge company who gets the contract will need an estimated 24 hours of work time to finish the project. Gruchot said everything depends on good weather continuing.

The harbor has been closed to commercial shipping as the result of heavy shoaling near the ends of the twin piers. The shoaling is believed to have been caused by powerful northwest winds this fall. The channel's maintenance depth is 21 feet, but soundings measured only 15 feet 9 inches of water at a critical point.

The problem came to the attention of commercial dock operators after a ship carrying 12,500 tons of limestone ran aground while approaching the harbor Dec. 6. A week later a tug and barge with a load of 4,000 tons of cement could not reach port because of shallow water. Both vessels turned back without delivering their loads.

Local officials had all but written off the remainder of the shipping season after being told that no money was available for dredging.

Over the past week, Upton, Army Corps officials, dock owners, shippers and St. Joseph River Harbor Authority officials worked together to find a solution. Two meetings were held Tuesday. Gruchot said Corps officials at one meeting announced that money was available to dredge. But they wanted a commitment from shipping companies that the loads would be delivered if the work was completed. The commitment was made, he said, and all three commercial docks on the harbor are expecting loads.

"Nobody expects in a normal year for this level of shoaling to happen," Gruchot said.

The dredging, if it can be accomplished, would solve the problem of getting in the year's final shipments. Currently there is not enough road salt stockpiled at the docks to get through the winter, he said. If it runs out, cities and counties would have to get salt by truck at higher costs.

Harbormaster Larry LaValley said the work could start by Jan. 3, possibly sooner, as long as the weather holds up. Central Dock in Benton Harbor could get one shipment of salt; Dock 63 on Marina Island, three more loads of salt; and the LaFarge Corp. terminal in St. Joseph, one or two loads of cement.

The emergency work, if it is accomplished, will provide a temporary dredging solution. With no money in the federal budget to dredge harbors at St. Joseph, Holland and other ports in Michigan next year, officials are concerned about the future viability of small harbors.

Gruchot said one of the meetings held this week was originally to have been a discussion about the long-term issues. That discussion could not be held, and officials hope to hold it at another time. "There's the long-term issue, and we don't want to take our eyes off that," Gruchot said, but local officials and dock operators appreciate the efforts now being made.

Upton, who has been a strong supporter of efforts to maintain the commercial harbor in his hometown, said the waterway is an important gateway to economic growth in Southwest Michigan. A harbor shutdown would have a ripple effect on the economy, driving up the costs for construction and other businesses that use cement, sand, limestone and other bulk commodities.

Upton is a cosponsor of the Realize America's Maritime Promise Act, which would require that all money collected through the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund is fully used for the intended purpose. The Senate version of the bill, the Harbor Maintenance Act, was introduced in February by Sen. Carl Levin, R-Mich., and 13 other senators. The bill remains in committee.

Upton has also signed a recent letter to the Office of Management and Budget requesting that the RAMP Act be included in the Obama administration's budget for the 2013 federal fiscal year, which starts Oct. 1.


Regulations looming for coal power plants

12/23 - Environmental groups are praising regulations announced Wednesday by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to curb mercury and other emissions from power plants. But electrical utilities maintain the new regulations constitute a threat to the power grid and will result in increased costs for consumers.

The regulations are long overdue, said Jessica Surma, federal field associate with Environment Michigan in Ann Arbor. "Mercury is a proven toxin," Surma said. "It can lead to a lot of public health threats particularly for children. It can inhibit a child's ability to walk, talk and learn, especially when they are exposed to it in their first years of life."

When fully implemented in 2016, the standards will slash mercury pollution from burning coal by 90 percent, lung-damaging acid gases by 88 percent and soot-producing sulfur dioxide by 41 percent.

Power plant operators will have to choose between installing pollution control equipment, switching to cleaner-burning natural gas, or shutting down the plant. None of those choices come cheap -- the EPA estimates the rule will cost $9.6 billion annually, making it one of the most expensive the agency has ever issued.

About half of the 1,300 coal- and oil-fired units nationwide still lack modern pollution controls, despite the EPA in 1990 getting the authority from Congress to control toxic air pollution from power plant smokestacks. A decade later, in 2000, the agency concluded it was necessary to clamp down on the emissions to protect public health.

John Austerberry, a spokesman for DTE Energy, said it's possible the utility could close some plants or reduce some generating capacity because of the new regulations. "Based on the proposed rules, it would have several impacts," he said. "It would almost certainly result in higher electricity rates and result in the potential premature shutdown of some generating units."

He said DTE did not know how complying with the regulations would affect the St. Clair and Belle River power plants in East China and China townships. "It's just too early to say," Austerberry said. "Some of those units could be affected in terms of a shutdown."

He said some of the generators at the plants could be taken off line.

"One of the concerns is, will we have sufficient generating capacity to maintain reliability and stability on the electrical system?" he said. "That's something obviously we need to maintain. Generating capacity and grid reliability are concerns. As we work our way through this, obviously, we will try to protect reliability on the grid, but it is a concern."

Port Huron Times Herald


Keewatin’s last journey focus of international documentary

12/23 - Saugatuck, Mich. – Mike Johnson introduced him as “the most hated man in Saugatuck.”

Eric Conroy just laughed and went on to explain to listeners of Johnson’s Saugatuck-based “The Morning Grind” radio show Saturday why the Great Lakes cruise ship Keewatin was going to be pulled out of Kalamazoo Lake in about six months and brought to Canada. And when former Keewatin owner R.J. Peterson put on the headset and joined Conroy for the interview, Johnson introduced the owner of Tower Marina as West Michigan’s own Benedict Arnold.

Capturing all the good-natured banter was Cameron McCleery and John Fulford-Brown, independent filmmakers who are documenting the journey of the 104-year-old vessel. They are making a one-hour documentary about the vessel and the more than $3 million project to bring it back to its home port of Port McNicoll, Ontario.

The work on the film had to wait, though, because McCleery and Fulford-Brown needed to grab some breakfast to ward off the morning chill before they headed out to film the dredging operation around the ship.

“That’s why we’re here,” Fulford-Brown said, looking out the windows of The Annex Coffee Shop, where the radio interview had just concluded, across the lake toward the Keewatin. Dredging hit a snag the day before, so the filmmakers had to stay an extra day in Michigan.

“You’ve got to roll with the punches,” Fulford-Brown said, watching the snow fall over the lake.

The Keewatin was built in 1907 in Scotland then brought to the Great Lakes where it carried cargo and passengers for the Canadian Pacific Railway. It was retired in 1965 and headed for the scrap yard. Tower Marina’s Peterson bought the Keewatin and brought it to Douglas in 1967 where it has been a museum.

Peterson sold the vessel to Gil Blutrich of Canada, finalizing the deal Nov. 30. Blutrich is chairman and president of Skyline International Development Inc., a private Canadian investment and management company. He plans to make the ship part of a renovated waterfront and tourist attraction.

“We have the availability of funds that will restore the ship and preserve it for another 100 years,” said Conroy, a former crew member and now consultant overseeing the project. “This ship was very much a part of pulling our country together.”

That’s why Fulford-Brown plans to market his documentary to Canadian networks first, then to an international market. After filming the dredging around the ship last weekend, he and McCleery headed back to Toronto. They’ll be back next year, perhaps in March, to continue filming. When the ship is pulled out of the Kalamazoo River muck in June, they’ll have several cameras capturing the moment.

“We’ll kind of cover every angle,” Fulford-Brown said. They’ll follow the vessel back to Canada for the homecoming. After a several months of production work, the one-hour documentary is expected to hit the Canadian airwaves in late 2012.

The Holland Sentinel


James Norris rings “finished with engines”

12/23 - Midland, Ont. – With Port McNicoll looking forward to the return of the Keewatin in the new year, Midland is soon to lose it last surviving built freighter to the scrappers. Quietly celebrating her 60th birthday with no fanfare, the James Norris is sitting cold and dark at International Marine Salvage (IMS) in Port Colborne, Ontario.

Until recently she had been under the ownership of the Upper Lakes Group since her launching on December 10, 1951. Announced earlier this year that the Upper Lakes fleet had been sold to Algoma Central Corporation, at the time it was agreed upon the James Norris would keep her name.

A steam powered vessel her whole career, she received a new lease on life in 1981 when we she was converted to a self-unloader from a straight deck vessel.

The last 30 years keeping under the radar on her route between Clarkson, Ontario and Colborne, Ont., she made headlines on Nov. 11, 1995. With storms not seen in 20 years when the Edmund Fitzgerald went down, the James Norris was loading at the St. Lawrence Cement facility at Colborne when the storm got the worse of her. Severely punctured due to being struck against the dock, the crew abandoned ship as a precaution, her rivets popping out like popcorn each time a wave struck.

This was not to be the end of her as Upper Lakes had her raised and repaired over the winter of 1995-96 and she was back on the run in the spring of 1996.

Now the James Norris is considered surplus in the Algoma Central Corporation with a fleet of over 20 vessels and the scrap market on the rise. On Dec. 5, 2011 after taking her last load to Muskegon, Mich., she made her way back to Lake Ontario where she flushed out her hull for the last time. She made her way up the Welland Canal for her final call at Port Colborne. The last order was "Finished With Engines."

Midland Free Press


Great Lakes maritime art donated to BGSU

12/23 - More than 300 drawings, made between 1880 and 1910, of Great Lakes ships have been donated to Bowling Green State University's Historical Collections of the Great Lakes, part of the Center for Archival Collections.The drawings are by Vincent Douglas Nickerson, born in 1843 in Euclid, Ohio, who became a cabin boy at the age of 9 on a ship sailed by his father. The collection was donated by Ellen Drouillard Boruff of Bloomington, Ind., who inherited it from her grandfather, William R. Rearick, a friend of Nickerson's and also a marine artist.

"One of our strengths is Great Lakes maritime history," said collections' archivist Robert Graham, "so this is a perfect complement to existing collections. It gives us a depth that wasn't there before. To find a body of work from a late-19th-century marine artist of this magnitude is really special."

The BGSU historical collections staff is compiling a detailed inventory of the drawings and identifying the ones that may require conservation.

Toledo Blade


Updates -  December 23

News Photo Gallery


Today in Great Lakes History -  December 23

The IMPERIAL ST CLAIR was selected to participate in the three-year winter navigation experiment during which the Soo Locks remained open all year. On December 23, 1976, at the very onset, she ran aground entering ice-jammed Parry Sound on Georgian Bay in a blinding snow squall. One of her cargo tanks ruptured spilling 1,800 barrels of diesel oil.

The SAVIC, c.) CLIFFS VICTORY was down bound past Detroit, Michigan, December 23, 1985, by-passing a 15,000 ton load of scrap because of the lack of time to clear the Seaway.

CHARLES DICK was sold for scrap to Marine Salvage Ltd., Port Colborne, Ontario, on December 23, 1976.

The SIR TREVOR DAWSON was laid up after the Great War until December 23, 1920, when she was sold to Pioneer Steamship Co. and renamed c) CHARLES L. HUTCHINSON.

On 23 December 1905, JAMES B. WOOD (steel propeller freighter, 514 foot, 7,159 gross tons) was launched at W. Bay City, Michigan. In 1913, she was renamed b.) ARCTURUS.

On 23 December 1885, MARY MARTINI (wooden propeller passenger-package freight vessel, 85 foot, 91 gross tons, built in 1877, at W. Bay City, Michigan) stranded on Brule Point, 13 miles east of Grand Marais, Minnesota, on Lake Superior in fair weather. A navigational error was blamed. She became a total loss but her passengers and crew were taken off by the Duluth tug T H CAMP.

In 1903, the PERE MARQUETTE 20 arrived Ludington on her maiden voyage.

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


Coast Guard begins ice breaking operations

12/22 - Cleveland, Ohio – The U.S. Coast Guard began ice breaking operations Wednesday as part of Operation Taconite, in response to colder temperatures and ice growth in the western Great Lakes region.

Coordinated by Coast Guard Sector Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., Operation Taconite is the Coast Guard’s largest domestic ice breaking operation, encompassing lakes Superior and Michigan, the St. Marys River, the Straits of Mackinac, and northern Lake Huron.

A second ice breaking operation, Operation Coal Shovel, will begin at a later date. Operation Coal Shovel takes place in the eastern Great Lakes region, including lakes Erie and Ontario, the Detroit and St. Clair rivers, Lake St. Clair, and southern Lake Huron.

The Coast Guard is dedicated to ensuring a safe, efficient and navigable waterway system that supports domestic commerce and international trade, while at the same time mitigating economic risks caused by ice in the maritime environment. The Coast Guard works closely with the Canadian Coast Guard and maritime industry representatives to ensure critical shipping paths are open for transit.

Domestic ice breaking is normally conducted for four basic purposes: search and rescue, urgent response to vessels beset by ice, assisting the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers with community service requests (including flood relief), and facilitation of navigation to meet the reasonable demands of commerce.

As a result of the operation, certain waterways may close after consideration is given to the protection of the marine environment, waterway improvements, aids to navigation, the need for cross-channel traffic (e.g. ferries) and the availability of icebreakers. Another important consideration is the safety of residents of Great Lakes islands and other remote locations who, in the course of their daily business, use naturally-formed ice bridges for transportation to and from the mainland.

The Coast Guard would like to advise all recreational ice users that there are currently no channel closures, and to plan their activities carefully, use caution on the ice, and stay away from shipping channels. Recreational users and island residents should stay tuned to local media resources for the status of waterway closures.

U.S. Coast Guard


Dredging will take place at St. Joseph

12/22 - St. Joseph, Mich. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will soon dredge the St. Joseph River mouth, allowing the shipping season to continue, U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, announced Tuesday. Upton and the Corps reported finding $100,000 in emergency funding to dredge the severely shoaled channel.

"Ensuring the St. Joseph harbor remains open and ready for businesses is essential to jobs and growth in our region," Upton said in a news release.

The Republican from St. Joseph said he has been working with dock owners, Berrien County and the Corps to find a solution. The St. Joseph River mouth, like any river mouth, is prone to shoaling. Officials speculate the problem grew more severe this fall because of sand blown into the channel by powerful northwest winds.

Conditions had deteriorated so badly that the self-unloader Manitowoc, carrying 12,500 tons of limestone, ran aground while approaching the harbor Dec. 6. Dock owners had been expecting five more freighter deliveries this season.

Harbor maintenance is a Corps responsibility. However, Congress has not budgeted money to dredge smaller Great Lakes harbors in 2012 - though there is a federal harbor maintenance fund supported by taxes on shippers. The money has been diverted to other uses.

Upton in his news release said Tuesday he is a co-sponsor of a bipartisan bill to ensure the money is used solely for harbor maintenance.



Port Reports -  December 22

Grand Haven, Mich. - Dick Fox
Manitowoc came in just after dark Tuesday night with the week's second load of coal for the Grand Haven Board of Light and Power plant on Harbor Island. She is due back sometime Wednesday night with the final load of the season.

Saginaw River - Todd Shorkey
Stephen B. Roman called on the Saginaw River Wednesday afternoon, stopping at the Essroc Cement dock in Essexville to unload. She was expected to be outbound on Thursday.


Clock is ticking, ships slowly moving away

12/22 - Cheboygan, Mich. – In a race against the inevitable formation of ice on area waterways, some salvagers are doing better than others. An abandoned train ferry was removed from a dock at Detour, Mich., Tuesday while two derelict tugboats appear destined to stay in the ice at Cheboygan’s Duncan Bay for their second winter.

The 384-foot Arthur K. Atkinson was pulled from the Interlake Dock at Detour with about five feet to spare from behind the lifeless 868-foot freighter John Sherwin. “There are seven or eight of us on board the Atkinson and five or six on each of the tugs,” reported Capt. Paul Allers of Mackinaw City, assisting in the operation headed by Capt. John Wellington of Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. “We’re headed up the St. Marys River for the MCM Dock at the Sault (Mich.) and the Atkinson will be scrapped there.”

On Dec. 6, United States Marshals auctioned the Atkinson to Reid Metals of Dafter, Mich., for scrap. The former train ferry had been moored at Detour since 2002 and was owned by Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., businessman Scotlund Stivers. The Atkinson began service in 1917 as the Ann Arbor No. 6.

Seaworthiness is becoming a concern for the tug William Hoey, abandoned in Duncan Bay for 17 months and aground since last spring. Currently owned by Stivers, the Hoey was damaged by freezing temperatures last winter and under extreme winter storm conditions could join its ghost fleet partner Jenny Lynn, also owned by Stivers and resting nearby on the bottom in approximately 18 feet of water.

Workmen had been using Stivers’ car ferry Joelle AnnMarie as a platform with which to remove the Hoey. No work has been seen on the bay in more than a week and ice is beginning to form from both shores. The vessel’s prop has been buried in a sandbar since high winds shifted it around the bay last spring.

Stivers avoided trial in August 2011 by accepting a prosecutor’s plea agreement that involved a six-month delay of sentence with the condition that the charges will be dismissed if all three boats are removed from Duncan Bay and legally moored.

Stivers pleaded no contest in 53rd Circuit Court to charges filed by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources related to the William Hoey, confirmed as the source of discharged oil samples found on the beach at Cheboygan State Park, in the waters of Duncan Bay and in a slip at the Durocher Dock on the Cheboygan River where the tug rode out a late summer storm in 2010.

Cheboygan Tribune


Updates -  December 22

News Photo Gallery


Today in Great Lakes History -  December 22

The SAVIC, b.) CLIFFS VICTORY finally arrived at Masan, South Korea, December 22, 1986, for dismantling, which was completed in 1987.

DETROIT EDISON grounded on Gray's Reef in northern Lake Michigan December 22, 1980, inflicting heavy damage to 350 feet of her bottom. She was later sold for scrap.

The GORDON C. LEITCH (i), no longer economically able to compete, was laid up on December 22, 1981, and was used for grain storage at Toronto.

RAYMOND H REISS arrived at Ramey's Bend, Port Colborne, Ontario, on December 22, 1980, for scrapping there.

LIGHTSHIP 103 was commissioned December 22, 1920.

On 22 December 1922, CORNELL (wooden propeller tug, 72 foot, 66 gross tons, built in 1888, at Buffalo, New York) foundered somewhere between Cleveland and Erie, Pennsylvania while enroute to new owners in Syracuse, New York. She had a crew of 8. The weather was clear and mild with almost no wind. She had just been put back into service and inspected after several years of idleness. Her ice-encrusted lifeboat was found on 26 December, 25 miles east of Long Point, containing the frozen body of the fireman.

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


Arthur K. Atkinson scrap tow arrives at Sault Ste. Marie

12/21 - The long-inactive, former Ann Arbor Railroad carferry Arthur K. Atkinson arrived at the MCM dock in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., Tuesday afternoon under tow of the MCM tugs William C. Gaynor and Mohawk. They departed the old Interlake dock at DeTour, where the Atkinson had been laid up for several years, around 9 a.m. Scrapping of the Atkinson is expected to begin shortly, following asbestos removal, and should be done by spring. The vessel was built in 1917 as the Ann Arbor No. 6.

Teresa Parker and Jill Lucy


Port Reports -  December 21

Sandusky and Marblehead - Jim Spencer
The Rt. Hon. Paul Martin, Canada Steamship Lines, was loading Tuesday evening at the NorfolkSouthern coal dock for Hamilton. McKee Sons is due at the coal dock early Wednesday. Nearby, on the Marblehead Peninsula, American Courage was loading late Tuesday at the LaFarge stone dock.

South Chicago - Brian Z.
Arthur M. Anderson was loading petroleum coke Monday at KCBX Terminal. Loading was completed at 4:30 p.m., and American Steamship's H. Lee White followed the Anderson under the loader. This was the second load for the White in three days for Muskegon, Mich. Great Republic is scheduled to load coal for Alpena, Mich., on Wednesday.


No toll increase for Seaway in 2012

12/21 - The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SLSMC) has announced that there will be no toll increase in 2012. The decision to extend the toll freeze was made in an effort to maintain the momentum underlying the Seaway’s market development initiatives.

In spite of the 1 percent tonnage increase in 2011, the North American and world economies remain fragile. “Given the economic situation, an extra year with no toll increase will assist our stakeholders in their efforts to develop new business and will serve to reinforce the Great Lakes / St. Lawrence Seaway system’s position as the gateway to North America’s heartland” said Bruce Hodgson, Director of Market Development for the SLSMC.

SLSMC President and CEO Terence Bowles voiced his support for the toll freeze. “We are striving to reduce system costs and bring more cargo into the system. The extension of the toll freeze and of the various incentive programs represents tangible steps toward meeting these objectives”.

According to a new study released in October, the Great Lakes / St. Lawrence Seaway system supports over 225,000 jobs and generates billions of dollars in income and revenues annually in Canada and the United States. Since its inception in 1959, more than 2.5 billion tonnes of cargo valued at over $375 billion have moved via the Seaway. The SLSMC remains dedicated to promoting the economic and environmental benefits of the marine mode, attracting new cargoes to the Seaway and leveraging technology to enhance the system’s performance.

St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation


Shipping activity up on the Great Lakes

12/21 - Superior, Wis. - – Shipping numbers are up on both the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway so far this year. The increases are modest but encouraging to industry officials.

U.S.-flagged freighters have carried almost 5 percent more cargo on the Great Lakes so far this year compared to last year. And there are signs the season is finishing strong. Lake Carriers Association vice president Glenn Nekvasil says November was way up.

“A 12 percent increase compared to a year ago is a healthy number, so I would say the industry is continuing to rebound from the recession,” he said. “The iron ore industry has been strong all year long, the steel mills are operating at very high rates.”

Seaway Port Authority of Duluth Director Adolph Ojard says Duluth-Superior traffic is off a bit. Iron ore is up but coal is down as Ontario phases out the use of coal at power plants. But he expects a strong finish, especially in iron ore.

“We have good weather conditions. It appears the demand is out there, maybe even some additional cargoes are being added by the end of the year,” he said. “The word we have right now is that there will be no early lay-ups of ships, that they’ll continue moving right through the closure of the Soo Locks.”

The Soo Locks will close on Jan. 15. St. Lawrence Seaway tonnage to Canada and the Atlantic Ocean is up 1 percent. St. Lawrence Seaway Administrator Terry Johnson says that’s modest but encouraging.

“Obviously much slower than anybody would like but at least it’s not a retrenchment,” he said. “There were economists talking about a double-dip recession. We’re kind of a bellweather for how the economy is doing and so it’s good news.”

Johnson expects an end-of-the-season rush to build up inventories for the winter. Since it was a warm season, he says there shouldn't be a problem with ice this month.

Superior Telegram


Updates -  December 21

News Photo Gallery


Today in Great Lakes History -  December 21

In 1987, the ASHLAND and THOMAS WILSON departed Quebec bound for a Taiwanese scrap yard. The tow line parted on 12/30 and the THOMAS WILSON sank on 12/31 off the coast of North Carolina. The ASHLAND was found 300 miles off course on January 2 1988. Due to sustained damage, the ASHLAND was resold to Columbian ship breakers where she arrived in critically leaking condition on February 5 1988.

On 21 December 1901, the MUSKEGON (composite propeller carferry, 282 foot, 1,938 gross tons, built in 1895, at Toledo, Ohio as SHENANGO NO 2) sank at Ludington, Michigan with a 10 foot crack on her starboard side. She was raised a week later and repaired.

The 437-foot bow section of the ROGER BLOUGH was float launched December 21, 1968, at Lorain, Ohio, less ballast tanks because the existing dry dock wasn’t wide enough to accommodate her 105-foot width. The WILLIAM G MATHER was laid up for the last time December 21, 1980, at the Hocking Valley coal dock at Toledo, Ohio.

AMOCO ILLINOIS was laid up for the last time at Bay City, Michigan on December 21, 1980.

CSL's HOCHELAGA was laid up on December 21, 1981, for the last time at Cardinal, Ontario.

The OUTARDE of 1906, operated until December 21, 1983, when she was laid up for the last time at Toronto.

On 21 December 1891, the whaleback steamer CHARLES W WETMORE tied up at the dock at Everett, Washington, ending a voyage of 93 days that started in Philadelphia and went around the tip of South America.

On 21 December 1879, CITY OF TOLEDO (wooden propeller package freighter, 413 gross tons, built in 1865, at Ogdensburg, New York) was carrying winter provisions from Milwaukee to Ludington. In a white squall, she struck a reef and was stranded 7 miles north of Ludington, a few hundred yards from shore. Some of the crew made it to shore and sought help. The local Lifesaving Station was only in the planning stages, but a crew captain was on hand. He hastily assembled a volunteer lifesaving crew and over a five hour period, rescued all on board. None of the 24 person crew was lost.

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


Last saltie of the season departs Duluth; total visits down for year

12/20 - Duluth, Minn. – The Erieborg left Duluth Monday, the last of a smaller-than-average number of salties that visited the Twin Ports this year. The Erieborg, which departed at 5:38 p.m., was the 72nd saltie to visit the port this year. Last year 104 salties visited. From 2006 through 2010, an average of 106 salties visited the Twin Ports.

“Obviously, the grain surge this port enjoyed last year is being enjoyed by ports in other parts of the world this year,” Duluth Seaway Port Authority spokeswoman Adele Yorde said.

Combined cargo tonnage through Nov. 30 for the St. Lawrence Seaway System was ahead of last year, the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway System reported last week. However, the system reported that tonnage figures were held down in part “by a softening export grain market which is running roughly 400,000 tons behinds last year’s tonnage.”

Erieborg arrived in port early Sunday to load beet pulp pellets at the General Mills A grain elevator in Duluth. The 452-foot-long Netherlands-flagged ship will deliver the cargo to Morocco in approximately two weeks.

The Erieborg and all other ocean-going vessels need to clear the eastern end of the St. Lawrence Seaway before it closes at 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 29. Lakers will continue plying the upper four Great Lakes for nearly another month before the Poe Lock at the Soo Locks closes on Jan. 15.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers closed the adjacent 800-foot MacArthur Lock at Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., at 7 a.m. Sunday to allow crews to perform routine maintenance on the 68-year-old lock.

Duluth News Tribune


Seaway begins to remove channel markers; shipping closes Dec. 29

12/20 - The St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation has begun its seasonal removal of channel markers from the St. Lawrence River throughout the Thousand Islands Region.

Each winter, prior to the closing of the Seaway, tugs Robinson Bay and Performance make their way along the St. Lawrence River lifting channel markers from the icy cold water and placing them on a work barge, which takes them to Clayton, where the markers are hoisted onto the Thousand Islands Regional Dock for winter storage.

Ship traffic will continue despite a number of markers being removed. The St. Lawrence Seaway is scheduled to close on Dec. 29 at 11:59 p.m. A 2012 opening date will be announced over the winter.

North Country This Week


Port Reports -  December 20

Twin Ports – Al Miller
Erieborg was loading beet pulp pellets Monday at the General Mills elevator in Duluth. It is the last saltie of the season for the Twin Ports.

Grand Haven, Mich. - Dick Fox
Manitowoc came in at 8 a.m. Monday with a load of coal for the Grand Haven Board of Light and Power Plant on Harbor Island in Grand Haven.

Detroit, Mich. – Sam Buchannan
The mailboat J.W. Westcott II entered lay-up Monday, after an extra day of service.

Sandusky and Marblehead, Ohio - Jim Spencer
Tug Dorothy Ann and barge Pathfinder loaded Sunday at the LaFarge Marblehead docks. They were eastbound on Lake Erie Sunday night. Also loading late Sunday at the La Farge dock was Grand River Transportation's Manistee.

Toronto, Ont. - Charlie Gibbons
Tim S. Dool laid up for the season Sunday at Pier 35 (the Atlas Crane dock) with a storage cargo. English River arrived Monday morning.


Lake Erie-Niagara River ice boom being installed

12/20 - Placement of the 22 spans of the Lake Erie-Niagara River ice boom has begun. Each winter, since 1964, the Lake Erie-Niagara River ice boom has been installed near the outlet of Lake Erie to reduce the amount of ice entering the Niagara River.

As a result of the boom, ice jams in the river, and damage to shoreline property, has been minimized, while water flow for hydro-electric power production has been maintained. Installation, operation and removal of the boom is done by the New York Power Authority and monitored on behalf of the International Joint Commission by its International Niagara Board of Control.

Placement of the spans begin when the Lake Erie water temperature at Buffalo reaches 4C, or on Dec. 16, whichever comes first.

Complete span installation usually takes two-to-three days under favorable conditions. Last season, installation of the boom took five days due to unfavorable weather conditions.

Niagara Falls Review


Researchers: Excavation of shipwreck warranted

12/20 - Tests performed at the bottom of northern Lake Michigan have provided enough evidence for researchers to recommend an excavation of the site of a shipwreck to determine if it's the Griffin, a French vessel that was loaded with furs when it sank in 1679, the project's lead investigator said Monday.

Sonar scans of the lake bottom and profiling below it showed a mass consistent with other images of a buried ship hull, said Ken Vrana, director of the Laingsburg-based Center for Maritime and Underwater Resource Management.

"The consensus among the professionals ... who have reviewed the data so far is that this site does warrant a test excavation," said Vrana, whose private, nonprofit started as a research and outreach unit of Michigan State University.

"We're very optimistic that we have located an old vessel — an old, sunken vessel. But the real clincher — is this the Griffin? — we don't know yet," he said. The Griffin was built and commanded by the explorer Rene-Robert Sieur de La Salle on behalf of King Louis XIV.

The next step would be to seek a state permit for the excavation.

While the maritime center recommends going forward, the ultimate decision rests with the three parties involved: Michigan, France, and the Great Lakes Exploration Group, whose founder, Steve Libert, discovered the site in 2001.

The shipwreck site hasn't been publicly disclosed but is believed to be between Escanaba and the St. Martin Islands, near Wisconsin.

Michigan had been skeptical and sought to have any wreckage declared state property during years of litigation with Libert's group. But that position changed after France entered the case and claimed ownership in 2009. Michigan has said it won't stand in the way of France taking ownership if it is the Griffin (also known by the French equivalent Griffon).

Vrana said there is agreement among all parties that if the wreck is the Griffin, it would stay in the Great Lakes region.

"It's so significant to the maritime heritage of the Great Lakes and the U.S. that some arrangement would be made to conduct the architectural excavation and display of the vessel (here)," he said, adding that the decision of whether to preserve it in place or bring it to the surface also will come later based on what is found and the condition of it.

No public money has been spent on the investigation.

The Associated Press


Updates -  December 20

Weekly Website Updates


Today in Great Lakes History -  December 20

On 20 December 1944, the icebreaker MACKINAW (WAGB-83) was commissioned in the U. S. Coast Guard.

The b.) SAMUEL MATHER, a.) WILLIAM MC LAUGHLIN was towed from Ashtabula, Ohio on December 20, 1975, to Port Colborne, Ontario where her boilers were converted to oil-fired burners by Herb Fraser & Associates and renamed c.) JOAN M. MC CULLOUGH (C.370162), renamed d.) BIRCHGLEN in 1982 and scrapped at Sydney, Nova Scotia in 1988.

Cleveland Cliffs steamer FRONTENAC's scrapping process was completed in Superior, Wisconsin on December 20, 1985.

The CRISPIN OGLEBAY of 1908, hauled her last cargo, a load of salt, into Rochester, New York on December 20, 1973, and then was laid up at Kingston, Ontario, for the winter.

The keel was laid for the PERE MARQUETTE 22 on December 20, 1923.

In 1910, the PERE MARQUETTE 18 was launched at South Chicago. She was the only Great Lakes carferry to be built in Chicago.

December 20, 1979 - The Interstate Commerce Commission approved the termination of the C&O's Milwaukee run. C&O ended the run the following year.

On 20 December 1867, ALIDA (wooden propeller packet/tug, 81-foot, 58 gross tons, built in 1856, at Saginaw, Michigan) had her boiler explode in the Saginaw River. She caught fire and burned to a total loss. This little packet/tug was the only steamer to regularly venture up the Saginaw River beyond the mouth of the Flint River.

On 20 December 1873, the Great Western ferry MICHIGAN was finally launched at the Jenkins yard in Walkerville, Ontario. Her launching was originally scheduled for 18 December, but she stuck on the ways. She was built for use on the Detroit River and her dimensions were 282 feet x 72 foot 6 inch beam.

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


Port Reports -  December 19

Grand Haven, Mich. - Dick Fox
Wilfred Sykes backed through the pierheads about 6 p.m. Saturday night. She delivered a load of slag for Verplank's Dock in Ferrysburg and was gone before morning. This was its eighth visit of the season.

Detroit, Mich. - Sam Buchanan
The J.W. Westcott Co.'s J.W. Westcott II mailboat sailed for winter lay-up on Sunday after servicing the John D. Leitch off Belle Isle and heading to the dock at Gregory's Marina behind Belle Isle. However, due to heavy late-season demand for freight and passenger service, the Westcott will return to service on Monday morning.


Looking for a last minute Christmas gift reserve now for Keweenaw Star cruise 2012

12/19 - BoatNerd is again sponsoring a three-day, two-night trip from Charlevoix to the Soo and return aboard the Keweenaw Star July 13-15. This promises to be a superb freighter-chasing, lighthouse-viewing trip. This trip sold out in 2011 and reservations are already coming in for 2012.

The cruise will leave from Charlevoix on Friday the 13th, travel up Lake Michigan, through the Straits, across the top of Lake Huron and up the St. Marys River to the Soo. We will pass lighthouses at Skillagalee, Grays Reef, White Shoal, Waugoshance, St. Helena, Round Island, Martin Reef and DeTour Reef. A continental breakfast and lunch will be served on board. After arriving at the Soo, we will have dinner and spend the night at the Kewadin Casino.

Saturday will start with the breakfast at the casino, after which we'll reboard the Keweenaw Star to travel through the Soo Locks and up the St. Marys River as far as Ile Parisienne light and back to the Soo. We should see plenty of freighter traffic, plus the lighthouses at Point Iroquois, Gros Cap and Isle Parisienne. Lunch will be on board the Keweenaw Star. We will again enjoy dinner and stay the night at the Kewadin Casino in the Soo.

Sunday will start with the breakfast at the casino, after which we'll reboard the Keweenaw Star for the return trip to Charlevoix, with lunch on board.

Package includes: Three days cruising aboard the Keweenaw Star in the shipping lanes and past a number of lighthouses, lunch on board the boat, two nights at the casino in the Soo, two dinners and breakfasts at the casino, and $30 cash to spend in the casino.

Package cost is $500 double occupancy, or $550 single. In order for everyone to have plenty of room on the boat, we are limiting the cruise to the first 60 reservations. A minimum of 40 passengers are needed in order for the trip to take place.

Call the Keweenaw Star at 231-237-9365 and make your reservation today. Don’t be left behind in 2012.


Updates -  December 19

Weekly Website Updates
News Photo Gallery


Today in Great Lakes History -  December 19

The ASHLAND was launched December 19, 1942, as the L6-S-B1 class bulk carrier a.) CLARENCE B. RANDALL (Hull #523) at Ashtabula, Ohio, by Great Lakes Engineering Works. She laid up for the last time on the same day in 1979.

ELMGLEN ran aground December 19, 1989, near Johnson’s Point in the Munuscong Channel of the St. Marys River. Downbound, loaded with grain, she had been diverted to the Munuscong Channel because of difficulties encountered by her fleet mate BEECHGLEN in the ice-clogged West Neebish Channel.

Because of the increased demand for iron ore during the Korean conflict, more ships were needed and as a consequence the yards on the Great Lakes were operating at capacity. In December 1950, the Republic Steel Corp. bought 70 percent of Nicholson-Universal stock in order to purchase ships from the surplus fleet.

On 19 December 1927, ALEXANDRIA (wooden propeller freighter, 97 foot, 201 gross tons, built in 1902, at Chatham, Ontario) burned in the harbor of Little Current, Ontario, off the Government Dock, where her remains still lay.

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


Tugs free grounded Orsula

12/18 - The FedNav vessel Orsula, which went aground a few miles east of Trois Rivieres, Que., due to an electrical power failure Thursday at 1:30 p.m., was pulled from her grounding at 3 p.m. Saturday with the help of four Ocean Group tugs – Ocean Bravo, Ocean Charlie, Ocean Jupiter and Duga. The armada of tugs waited until a high tide at Trois Rivieres, which was around 3 p.m., before attempting to free the Orsula. The vessel was towed to the nearby Port of Becancour, Que., to be inspected for hull damage. The Orsula was downbound from Contrecouer, Que., to Baie Comeau, Que., when the grounding occurred.

Kent Malo


MacArthur Lock closing for season today

12/18 - Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Detroit District, has announced its schedule for lock operations until the end of the navigation season for the Soo Locks at Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.

The MacArthur Lock will shut down for the winter at 7 a.m. Sunday, enabling crews to perform routine maintenance. Built in 1943, the 800-foot MacArthur Lock will reopen in the spring. The adjacent Poe Lock is scheduled to remain open through Jan. 15.

"Our well-trained and dedicated Soo workforce is committed to operating the locks through the navigation season and diligently maintaining them," said Lt. Col. Mike Derosier, district engineer. "The locks are a vital asset for the transportation of raw materials and commodities that help energize our economy and provide jobs."

About 4,200 vessels carrying an average of 80 million tons of cargo maneuver through the Soo Locks annually. Iron ore, coal and limestone are among the most frequently carried commodities. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Detroit District, maintains a navigation system of 95 harbors, including the Great Lakes Connecting Channels that join lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron and Erie.

From WDIO Duluth


Port Reports -  December 18

Marquette, Mich. - Rod Burdick
Adam E. Cornelius loaded ore Saturday morning. The visit was her first of the season to the Upper Harbor ore dock.

Sturgeon Bay, Wis. - Wendell Wilke
The tug Olive L. Moore and barge Lewis J. Kuber arrived at Bay Shipbuilding early Friday evening. The barge was drydocked during the night and the tug was berthed nearby. Also in the yard are the tug Michigan and barge Great Lakes.

Stoneport/Calcite/Cedarville - Dan McNeil
Due in on Saturday was the Great Republic to load a cargo of stone at Stoneport. No other vessels are currently due to load at Stoneport at this time. Calcite and Cedarville are closed for the season.

Alpena, Mich. - Ben & Chanda McClain
Saturday morning brought a rare visitor to Lafarge. The tug Salvor, along with its barge, tied up at the coal dock. Shovel equipment then unloaded the cargo from the barge into waiting dump trucks throughout the day.

Sandusky, Ohio - Jim Spencer
The Rt. Hon. Paul Martin loaded overnight Friday and departed Sandusky's NorkfolkSouthern coal dock Saturday for Nanticoke, Ont. She is due back at the dock early Sunday to load for Hamilton, Ont. Sliding under the loading chute Saturday was the John G. Munson, Great Lakes Fleet, which was slated to take on a partial load for Detroit.


Today in Great Lakes History -  December 18

The 425-foot Finnish tanker KIISLA ran aground while transiting the North Entrance of Buffalo Harbor on the 29th of December 1989. The ship was inbound with xylene for the Noco Product Terminal in Tonawanda when it strayed from the navigation channel due to reduced visibility from heavy snow squalls and grounded near the #1 green buoy of the Black Rock Canal. She was towed off the rocks by tugboats from Buffalo and then tied up at the Burnette Trucking Dock (formerly the Pen Dixie Dock) on the Buffalo River for Coast Guard Inspection. A diver found a 47-inch by 5-inch crack below the waterline at the #1 ballast tank, with a large rock firmly wedged in the outer hull plating, but with no damage to the inner hull or cargo tanks. The ship was cleared to head back to Sarnia to off load her cargo before repairs could be made.

In 1921, Ninety-four vessels were laid up at Buffalo with storage grain when a winter gale struck. The 96 mile-per-hour winds swept 21 vessels ashore and damaged 29 others. Three weeks were required to restore order to the Buffalo waterfront.

On this date, the tug SACHEM sank in Lake Erie off Waverly Shoal with all hands on board. The tug was later raised on October 22, 1951, and found to be in seaworthy condition.

Canada Steamship Lines NANTICOKE (Hull#218) was launched December 18, 1979, at Collingwood, Ontario by Collingwood Shipyards Ltd.

The tug AMERICA freed the ore carrier IRVING S. OLDS in 1956, after the OLDS grounded entering the River Raisin from Lake Erie. The OLDS stuck at a 45-degree angle to the channel, while entering for winter lay up.

Canada Steamship lines GEORGIAN BAY (Hull#149) was launched during a snowstorm on December 18, 1953, at Collingwood, Ontario by Collingwood Shipyards Ltd.

The JOHN T. HUTCHINSON was laid up for the last time December 18, 1981, at Cleveland, Ohio.

On December 18, 1921, gale force winds drove the CARMI A. THOMPSON ashore at Buffalo, New York where she was laid up with grain for winter storage. She ended up wedged between the LOUIS W. HILL and the MERTON E. FARR. The THOMPSON was released on January 5, 1922, but required the replacement of 156 hull plates before her return to service.

The Goodrich Transit Co.’s ALABAMA (Hull#36) was launched in 1909, at Manitowoc, Wisconsin, by Manitowoc Shipbuilding Co. Reduced to a barge in 1961.

On 18 December 1899, 115 (steel whaleback barge, 256 foot, 1,169 gross tons, built in 1891, at Superior, Wisconsin) was carrying iron ore in a storm on Lake Huron when she broke from her tow steamer well out in the lake. She went ashore five days later at Pic Island off Thunder Bay, Ontario, and broke up. Her crew was thought to be lost, but they showed up days later after a long trek through the wilderness.

On 18 December 1959, BRIDGEBUILDER X (propeller tug, 71 foot, 46 gross tons, built in 1911, at Lorain, Ohio) foundered in a storm while enroute from Sturgeon Bay to N. Fox Island on Lake Michigan. Two lives were lost. She had been built as the fish tug PITTSBURG. In 1939, she was converted to the excursion boat BIDE-A-WEE. Then she was converted to a construction tug for the building of the Mackinac Bridge and finally she was rebuilt in 1958, as a logging tug.

Data from: Joe Barr, Dave Swayze, Dean J. Frazer, Russ Plumb, Brian Wroblewski, Father Dowling Collection, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series.


Repairs get icebreaker Mackinaw under way

12/17 - Superior, Wis. - The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw left Superiors Fraser Shipyards on Thursday after workers repaired an oil leak in its bow thruster.

In part because of the narrowness of Howards Bay where Fraser is located Heritage Marine tug boats towed the 240-foot icebreaker into and out of the shipyard Thursday morning. The 2,200-horsepower Nels J. towed the Mackinaw stern-first to the East Gate Basin below the High Bridge. A second Heritage Marine tug, the Edward H., was fastened to the Mackinaws bow to help steer the ship.

“The wind was blowing pretty good, so it took a little while to get into position,” Heritage Marine owner Mike Ojard said. “Once you get started pulling, you can pretty much keep everything in a straight line.”

The ship, based in Cheboygan, Mich., arrived in the Twin Ports on Dec. 7, and entered dry dock at Fraser on Friday. It was refloated Wednesday. “It went well and they are out sailing ahead of schedule,” Fraser shipyard manager Mike Peterson said of the repair project.

The Mackinaw passed beneath the Lift Bridge shortly before noon to conduct sea trials on Lake Superior. “All tests went well,” Coast Guard District 9 spokesman Petty Officer Brian Huth said Thursday afternoon. “They are headed back to Cheboygan now,” he said.

The Mackinaw was built in 2005 in Marinette, Wis. It spent 24 days in dry-dock at Fraser in 2009 to repair an internal oil leak, install new screws on the ships two engine pods, fix an under-hull camera and make other repairs.

Duluth News Tribune


Port Reports -  December 17

Sturgeon Bay, Wis. - Wendell Wilke
A new research vessel, the 60-foot Coregonus, built this year by Burger Boat Co., Manitowoc, Wis., for the Wisconsin DNR based in Sturgeon Bay, has completed its first year with a summary of outstanding performance. She returned to her homeport dock in Sturgeon Bay Friday on her final trip of the year.

Toledo, Ohio -
Saginaw arrived in Toledo overnight and docked at the Kraft Foods dock. Gordon C. Leitch arrived Wednesday at the ADM grain complex. She was still there on Thursday evening.

Orsula Aground - Kent Malo
FedNav's freighter Orsula remained aground in the St Lawrence River below Trois Rivieres, Que., between buoys C 21 and C 19, Friday. The vessel was downbound from Contrecouer, Que., to Baie Comeau, Que., Thursday when the mishap occurred at 1:30 p.m.


Preservation group proposes moving Milwaukee Clipper

12/17 - Muskegon, Mich. - The historic S.S. Milwaukee Clipper may be headed for a new home at Heritage Landing in downtown Muskegon.

The Clipper's preservation board made the proposal Thursday to move the vessel from its current “temporary” moorings at the Grand Trunk Dock about two miles east on Muskegon Lake to be docked along the peninsula at Heritage Landing.

T.J. Parker, president of S.S. Milwaukee Clipper Preservation Inc., gave a presentation about the group's proposal to the Muskegon County Board's Community Development/Strategic Planning Committee. County commissioners would need to approve the mooring of the 100-plus-year-old vessel along the county's shoreline park.

The 361-foot-long, 50-foot-tall ship ferried passengers between Muskegon and Milwaukee from 1941-70. After serving as a floating museum in Chicago and Hammond, Ind., the Clipper returned to Muskegon in 1997 and thousands of volunteer hours were spent restoring the vessel.

The idea of moving the Clipper to Heritage Landing has been discussed before, but Parker said he believes the “timing is right” to make the move. He said the county's economy is increasingly focusing on tourism and the necessary fire alarm and fire suppression systems have been added to the vessel.

“The Milwaukee Clipper can really assist in bringing in revenue, drawing in visitors and guests from all over the world,” Parker said.

He said the west side of the Heritage Landing peninsula, toward the Muskegon Family YMCA, was a “perfect fit” for the Clipper, providing a highly-visible site with adequate depth to accommodate the vessel.

Bob Lukens, the county's Community Development director, said the proposed move could make the Clipper a “destination driver” for the area.

Commissioner Lew Collins said the Clipper would be an “outstanding addition” to the park, while Commissioner John Snider said moving the vessel would be a “huge asset” to the downtown area. Commissioner Scott Plummer said the proposed relocation of the Clipper to Heritage Landing is a good idea, but he said he believes the ship should be docked on the east side of the peninsula.

It is early in the planning process, and Clipper officials provided no cost estimates. The preservation board was directed by county officials to turn in a written proposal with renderings. Committee Chairman Bob Scolnik said county staff would study the proposal and the committee might conduct a work session on the issue.

The Clipper's board conducted tours this past summer after a three-year hiatus. Parker said more than 900 visitors from all over the country and the world toured the vessel over the eight weekends.



Updates -  December 17

News Photo Gallery


Today in Great Lakes History -  December 17

While breaking ice off Colchester Reef, Lake Erie on 17 December 1917, the HENRY CORT (steel propeller whaleback bulk freighter, 320 foot, 2,234 gross tons, built in 1892, at W. Superior, Wisconsin, formerly a.) PILLSBURY) was in a collision with the MIDVALE (steel propeller bulk freighter, 580 foot, 8,271 gross tons, built in 1917, at Ashtabula, Ohio). The PILLSBURY sank in thirty feet of water 4 1/2 miles from Colchester Reef. Her crew walked across the ice to the MIDVALE. The wreck was located on 24 April 1918, four miles from its original position, with seven feet of water over her and raised later that year to be repaired.

C. L. AUSTIN was launched December 17, 1910, as a.) WILLIS L. KING (Hull#79) at Ecorse, Michigan, by Great Lakes Engineering Works.

With an inexperienced Taiwanese crew, boiler problems and the collapse of Lock 7's west wall in the Welland Canal, the departure of SAVIC (CLIFFS VICTORY) was delayed until December 17, 1985, when she departed Chicago, Illinois, under her own power.

Paterson’s NEW QUEDOC sank at her winter moorings at Midland, Ontario, on December 17, 1961, with a load of storage grain. The sinking was caused by the automatic sea valves that were accidentally opened.

The ROGERS CITY was laid up for the last time at Calcite, Michigan, on December 17, 1981.

On December 17, 1955, in heavy fog, the B.F. AFFLECK collided head-on with her fleetmate HENRY PHIPPS in the Straits of Mackinac. Both vessels were damaged but were able to sail under their own power for repairs.

In 1905, the Anchor Line steamer JUNIATA was launched at the yards of the American Shipbuilding Company in Cleveland, Ohio. The JUNIATA was the first large passenger boat built in Cleveland since the NORTH LAND and NORTH WEST. Today the JUNIATA exists as the National Historic Landmark MILWAUKEE CLIPPER in Muskegon, Michigan.

On 17 December 1875, the steamboat JENNISON of Captain Ganoe's line which ran between Grand Rapids and Grand Haven burned at Grand Rapids. She was laid up for the winter just below the city on the Grand River. She was insured for $12,000.

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


St. Joseph Harbor closed to shipping indefinitely

12/16 - St. Joseph, Mich. – A buildup of sand across the channel near the mouth of the St. Joseph River has shut off access to the harbor for ships, an official said Wednesday.

The development probably means the end of the commercial shipping season, and with no federal money budgeted to dredge in 2012, the harbor's future is uncertain. The three commercial docks were scheduled to receive a total of nine more vessels this year, said Harbormaster Larry LaValley.

"It appears to me that it's highly unlikely we'll get more boats," he said, "particularly with the attitude we're getting from Washington."

LaFarge Corp., which operates a cement terminal in St. Joseph, hired a contractor to conduct soundings Tuesday after a tug and barge were unable to reach the dock. The barge was carrying 4,000 tons of cement and needed 16 feet 6 inches of water to navigate but found the channel too shallow, LaValley said. The vessel's captain would not attempt to come in and diverted to Muskegon.

The contractor's soundings showed a wide section of the channel about 50-75 yards out from the ends of the piers had a depth of only 15 feet 8 inches to 16 feet, LaValley said. Subsequent soundings by the Army Corps of Engineers "more or less solidified" the contractor's readings, he said. The Corps told officials that no money is available for dredging.

Officials and dock operators got their first inkling that conditions had deteriorated when the self-unloader Manitowoc, carrying 12,500 tons of limestone, ran aground while approaching the harbor. The crew managed to work the vessel free and it left without reaching its destination, Dock 63 on Marina Island.

"We knew there was a problem when that boat ran aground but we didn't realize it was as significant as it is," LaValley said. A sounding taken by the ship at that time showed 17 feet 6 inches of water off the pier ends.

Harbor maintenance is the responsibility of the Army Corps. The outer harbor is supposed to have a depth of 21 feet and was dredged this year. But Congress has not budgeted money to dredge smaller Great Lakes harbors in 2012, leaving a cloud over the future of commercial shipping in St. Joseph, Holland and other ports.

LaValley said Dock 63 and LaFarge were each scheduled to receive four more shipments of bulk commodities this year and Central Dock in Benton Harbor was to receive one. In most years, deposits of soil carried downstream by the river current build up in the harbor and decrease depth.

This fall, LaValley said, officials believe that sand blown into the channel by powerful northwest winds caused the current problem.

The federal government established a fund in 1986 specifically to pay for dredging and other harbor work. The Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund is supported by taxes on good transported by ship and currently has a surplus of more than $6.28 billion. But much of the money has been used for other purposes and the fund surplus is largely in the form of treasury bonds. In most years, only a portion of the money collected is used for harbor maintenance.

From Oct. 1, 2010, through July 31 of this year, the fund took in $1.31 billion. The total included $1.2 billion in taxes and $109.5 million in interest. Just over half of the money received, $685.2 million, was allocated for harbor maintenance.

U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., has sponsored legislation to require money received by the harbor fund be used for it intended purpose.

Southwest Michigan Herald-Palladium


Warm weather aids in removing Cheboygan’s ghost fleet

12/16 - Cheboygan, Mich. – Unseasonably mild weather has allowed a crew extra time in its attempts to remove a derelict tugboat from a sandy shoal in Duncan Bay. An abandoned train ferry is also set to move from Detour, Mich., for scrapping.

Workmen are using the car ferry Joelle AnnMarie as a platform with which to remove the tug William Hoey. The vessel's prop has been buried in a sandbar since high winds shifted it around the bay last spring, but its current angle suggests it could be floating free at anchor. Another vessel, the Jenny Lynn, is sunk nearby on the bottom in approximately 18 feet of water and has yet to be removed.

A Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., man, 51-year-old Scotlund Stivers, owns the three derelict vessels that have been classified as aground, anchored or adrift at various times since July 2010. Stivers avoided trial in August 2011 by accepting a prosecutor's plea agreement that involved a six-month delay of sentence with the condition that the charges will be dismissed if all three boats are removed from Duncan Bay and legally moored.

Stivers pleaded no contest in 53rd Circuit Court to charges filed by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources related to the William Hoey, confirmed as the source of discharged oil samples found on the beach at Cheboygan State Park, in the waters of Duncan Bay and in a slip at the Durocher Dock on the Cheboygan River where the tug rode out a late summer storm in 2010.

On Dec. 6, United States Marshals auctioned another of Stivers' ghost fleet vessels, the Arthur K. Atkinson, to Reid Metals of Dafter, Mich., for scrap. The former train ferry is being readied this week for a departure from the Interlake Dock at Detour, where it has been moored since 2002. The vessel will be towed to Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., for dismantling. The 384-foot Atkinson began service in 1917 as the Ann Arbor No. 6.

Cheboygan Tribune


Port Reports -  December 16

Twin Ports - Al Miller
Early Thursday vessel traffic in the Twin Ports included the tug Joyce L. Van Enkevort pushing Great Lakes Trader up St. Louis Bay to the C. Reiss Terminal to unload coal. Elsewhere, John D. Leitch was loading at BNSF ore dock and Arthur M. Anderson was loading at the CN ore dock. USCGC Mackinaw was out of drydock and tied up at Fraser Shipyards.

Sault Ste. Marie - Herm Klein
Thursday at da Soo was a cloudy, rainy day, but in the morning boatwatchers were treated to three downbound salties in a row. The early afternoon was great, in spite of the weather, by providing the opportunity to see the upbound Roger Blough sporting a new paint job.

Conneaut, Ohio - Tom Heagerty
Thursday Edwin H. Gott was tied up on the west side of the P & C Dock and CSL Tadoussac was tied up on the east side, with the Gott discharging directly into the Tadoussac. There has been a lot of trans-shipment activity lately in Conneaut.

Buffalo, N.Y. - Brian W.
American Mariner was unloading grain at the Frontier Elevator Thursday.

Toronto, Ont. - Frank Hood
Tuesday was a busy day in the Toronto harbor. Whistler arrived at Redpath, English River also arrived in port, while Stephen B. Roman left the harbor.


Today in Great Lakes History -  December 16

In 1949, the tow line between the tug JOHN ROEN III and the barge RESOLUTE parted in high seas and a quartering wind. The barge sank almost immediately when it struck the concrete piers at Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. Eleven crewmembers, including Captain Marc Roen, were safely taken off the barge without difficulty.

On 16 December 1922, the JOSHUA W. RHODES (steel propeller bulk freighter, 420 foot, 4,871 gross tons, built in 1906, at Lorain, Ohio) struck bottom in the middle of the St. Clair River abreast of Port Huron, Michigan. Damages cost $6,179.32 to repair.

On December 16, 1966, while loading at Montreal, CABOT, b.) CANADIAN EXPLORER rolled over on her side and sank with a loss of two lives. She was refloated on January 18, 1967.

In 1983, HILDA MARJANNE's forward section, which included a bow thruster, was moved to the building berth at Port Weller Dry Docks where it was joined to CHIMO's stern. The joined sections would later emerge from the dry dock as the b.) CANADIAN RANGER.

The IMPERIAL BEDFORD (Hull#666) was launched December 16,1968, at Lauzon, Quebec, by Davie Shipbuilding Co.

Canada Steamship lines J.W. MC GIFFIN (Hull#197) was launched December 16, 1971, at Collingwood, Ontario, by Collingwood Shipyards.

Litton Industries tug/barge PRESQUE ISLE departed light from Erie, Pennsylvania, on December 16, 1973, on its maiden voyage bound for Two Harbors, Minnesota. (This was the latest maiden voyage date at that time.) There the PRESQUE ISLE loaded 51,038 long tons of taconite pellets for delivery to Gary, Indiana. After this ice covered trip, the vessel returned to Erie for winter lay-up. PRESQUE ISLE was the second thousand-foot vessel on the Great Lakes (the Erie-built STEWART J. CORT which came out in 1972, was the first) and was the last large vessel built at the Erie shipyard.

While in tandem tow on the way to scrapping with the former Ford Motor Co. steamer ROBERT S. McNAMARA, BUCKEYE MONITOR developed a crack in her deck amidships. The crack extended down her sides to below the waterline and she sank at 0145 hours on December 16, 1973, at position 43¡30'N x 30¡15'W in the North Atlantic.

BENSON FORD, a) RICHARD M. MARSHALL made her last trip to the Detroit’s Rouge River where she was laid up on December 16, 1984.

The PIC RIVER was the last to use the old Welland City Canal on December 16, 1972, as the new Welland by-pass opened the following spring.

WOLFE ISLANDER III arrived in Kingston, Ontario on December 16, 1975. Built in Thunder Bay, she would replace the older car ferries WOLFE ISLANDER and UPPER CANADA on the Kingston - Wolfe Island run.

The WILLIAM A. IRVIN sustained bottom damage in Lake Erie and laid up December 16, 1978, at Duluth, Minnesota.

The Maritimer THOMAS WILSON operated until December 16, 1979, when she tied up at Toledo. During that final year, the vessel carried only 30 cargoes and all were ore.

On 16 December 1906, ADVENTURER (wooden propeller steam tug, 52 foot, built in 1895, at Two Harbors, Minnesota) broke her moorings and went adrift in a gale. She was driven ashore near Ontonagon, Michigan on Lake Superior and was pounded to pieces.

On 16 December 1954, the 259-foot bulk carrier BELVOIR was launched at the E. B. McGee Ltd. yard in Port Colborne, Ontario. She was built for the Beaconsfield Steamship Co. She sailed in the last years before the Seaway opened. During the winter of 1958-59, she was lengthened 90 feet at Montreal. She left the Lakes in 1968, and later sank in the Gulf of Honduras with the loss of 21 lives.

Data from: Joe Barr, Brian Johnson, Dave Swayze, Jody Aho, Russ Plumb, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series and the Marine Historical Society of Detroit.


U.S.-Flag lakers' cargo up nearly 12 percent in November

12/15 - Cleveland, Ohio – U.S.-flag Great Lakes freighters carried 10 million tons of dry-bulk cargo in November, an increase of 2.4 percent compared to October, and an increase of 11.9 percent compared to a year ago. The November float was also 3.8 percent above the month’s 5-year average.

Iron ore cargos for the steel industry increased 14 percent compared to a year ago. Limestone cargos for construction, steel production, and environmental applications jumped more than 20 percent, but coal was essentially unchanged from a year ago.

Through November U.S.-flag cargos stand at 85 million tons, an increase of 4.6 percent compared to the same point in 2010. Iron ore has increased 11 percent and limestone cargos are now 3 percent ahead of last years pace, but coal is down by 5.9 percent. Compared to the 5-year average for the January-November timeframe, U.S.-flag cargos are down 1.4 percent.

Lake Carriers' Association


New barge Lakes Contender floated at Erie shipyard

12/15 - Erie, Pa. – DonJon Marine has floated its new self-unloading barge, Lakes Contender, in the graving dock and the gates are open to Presque Isle Bay. DonJon is now working on mounting the unloading boom to the tower. When the barge is completed, it will be matched with the tug Ken Boothe Sr. for an as-yet-unnamed operator.

Jeffrey Benson


Port Reports -  December 15

Soo – Scott Best
Tuesday was a grey and foggy day on the St Marys River, but the day was brightened by the passage of the classic laker Algocape. Also downbound during the day was the American Spirit, Stewart J Cort and Birchglen. Upbound traffic included the Manitoba, Undaunted and the USCG cutter Buckthorn was working buoys in the vital shoals area most of the day.

Stoneport and Calcite - Dan McNeil
Loading at Stoneport on Wednesday was the American Courage. Scheduled for Thursday is the Great Republic, no boats for Friday and the Great Republic scheduled to return on Saturday. The only vessel currently on the schedule for Calcite is the Manistee coming in Thursday to load stone at the north dock.

Alpena, Mich. - Ben & Chanda McClain
The Great Republic arrived at Lafarge on Wednesday afternoon. The Republic unloaded coal throughout the evening which was damp with rain showers and fog. Both of Lafarge's tug and barge cement carriers are due into port on Thursday, weather permitting.

Saginaw River - Todd Shorkey
The tug Tenacious arrived on the Saginaw River during the day Tuesday, taking barges up to the old Defoe Shipbuilding slip, just below the Liberty Bridge. Tenacious was outbound later in the day. The USCG Cutter Hollyhock was working out in the Saginaw Bay on Tuesday working Aids to Navigation. Wednesday saw the Manistee call on the Lafarge Stone Dock in Saginaw to unload and the tug Olive L. Moore, with her barge Lewis J. Kuber, unloading at the Bay City Wirt Stone Dock. Both the Manistee and Moore-Kuber were outbound late Wednesday evening, headed for the lake.


2011 Great Lakes-Seaway shipping season sails toward a positive close

12/15 - Washington, D.C. – U.S. ports continued to post positive tonnage numbers in November. The Seaway’s year-to-date total cargo shipments from March 22 to November 30 were 33 million metric tons, up 1.23 percent from the same period last year.

“With only one of the big three commodities, coal, bettering last year’s pace by 22,000 metric tons, the year-to-date performance of other bulk commodities like petroleum products (up 80 percent), salt (up 32 percent), scrap metal (up 49 percent), and other general cargo like wind turbine components (up 50 percent), have kept this year’s Seaway tonnage on a par with 2010,” says Rebecca Spruill, Director of Trade Development for the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation. “Vessel transits are up 7 percent and, with an expected strong performance in December, we’re within striking distance of meeting a 2 percent increase in tonnage over last season.”

The Port of Cleveland experienced a 60 percent jump in project cargo volume during the first 11 months of the year, largely as a result of the increase in movement of imported and exported machinery, and the Port’s first-time handling of a wind turbine from Europe. “We have worked diligently to ensure that companies throughout our region look to the Port as a cost-effective and capable partner in transporting their cargo around the world,” said David Gutheil, the Port’s Vice President of Maritime and Logistics. “We’re forecasting continued growth this year and next in our handling of project cargo.”

The Toledo Port Authority saw an increase in iron ore shipments for the month. “Tonnage at the CSX Iron Ore dock was up 28 percent over the same period in 2010. The terminal has handled over 4 million metric tons to date, marking its best season since 2008,” explained Joseph Cappel, director of cargo development at the Port. There were also increases in shipments of petroleum products and general cargo, up 118 percent and 30 percent respectively over the same time last year.

Coal shipments, down at most Great Lakes ports, showed an uptick in Indiana. “Even with a month left in the shipping season, the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor handled more cargo this year than any other year since 2006,” said Rich Cooper, CEO of the Ports of Indiana. “Our shipments of steel, coal, fertilizer, wheat, limestone, oil and road salt have all well-surpassed last year’s final totals. We were fortunate to have a spike in our coal business and handled nearly four times as much coal as we did in 2010. We’ve also had large volumes of barge shipments moving steel, fertilizer, grain, asphalt and project cargo within the Lakes and through the Mississippi River system to and from the Gulf of Mexico.”

St. Lawrence Seaway shipments of iron ore and coke were up at 55 percent and 14 percent respectively compared to November 2010. Coal shipments totaled 410,000 metric tons in November, a 9 percent decrease from the same month last year. Total grain shipments for November were 1.4 million metric tons, down 13 percent from 2010.

The Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway maritime industry supports 227,000 jobs in the U.S. and Canada, and annually generates $14.1 billion in salary and wages, $33.5 billion in business revenue, and $4.6 billion in federal, state/provincial and local taxes. North American farmers, steel producers, construction firms, food manufacturers, and power generators depend on the 164 million metric tons of essential raw materials and finished products that are moved annually on the system. This vital trade corridor saves companies $3.6 billion per year in transportation costs compared to the next least-costly land-based alternative.

Marine Delivers


Seaway salt shipments up 20 percent in November as cities prepare for winter

12/15 - Ottawa, Ont. – Year-to-date cargo shipments through the St. Lawrence Seaway remain steady, bolstered in November by strong gains in iron ore exports and salt shipments as Great Lakes cities prepare for the winter onslaught.

The Seaway's year-to-date total cargo shipments from March 22 to November 30 were 33.4 million tonnes, up one per cent from the same period last year. Total cargo shipments for the month of November were down slightly by two per cent to 4.5 million tonnes, pulled down by decreased U.S. grain shipments.

However, strong gains were seen in November in shipments of iron ore, which increased by 55 per cent to one million tonnes compared to the same month in 2010; and in shipments of salt from regions like Goderich and Windsor, which were up by 20 per cent to 310,000 tonnes. More than eight million tonnes of iron ore and 2.3 million tonnes of salt have been shipped through the Seaway since the beginning of the season.

Bruce Hodgson, director of market development for the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation, said: "The increases in iron ore shipments in November are being fuelled by new exports from the Lake Superior region to the Port of Quebec, where it is then loaded on ocean freighters for global markets. What we're seeing is companies increasingly seeing the St. Lawrence Seaway as a cost-effective alternative to the Gulf of Mexico and coastal ports that are becoming more congested. If the price of iron ore remains at current levels, we believe these exports will continue in 2012."

Hodgson added that overall cargo shipments were expected to remain steady in December, accumulating for the year to 37 million tonnes, a two percent increase over 2010. "Ships that travel through the St. Lawrence Seaway carry essential raw materials for North American farmers and manufacturers and therefore it is a good barometer of the overall economy."

Canadian Great Lakes ports reported positive numbers in salt and grain for the year thus far.

The Port of Windsor, where Canadian Salt is based, experienced a 20 per cent increase in salt shipments in November, with salt heading to Detroit, Milwaukee, Chicago, Toronto and Parry Sound to build reserves for de-icing roads this winter. Year-to-date salt shipments to November 30 through the port totalled 2.1 million tonnes. David Cree, President & CEO of the Windsor Port Authority stated: "After a tough winter last year, U.S. cities in particular are shoring up their reserves of salt in preparation for the upcoming winter. In addition, grain shipments through the Windsor Grain Terminal have shown a healthy increase of just over 20 percent, due in large part to increased exports to Europe".

The Port of Thunder Bay hit a milestone in November with more than one million tonnes of total cargo being shipped through the port during one month for the first time since May 2009. The 891,000 tonnes of grain shipped out of Thunder Bay's grain elevators was the most in one month since May 2002. Year-to-date grain tonnage this year has already surpassed the total grain tonnage for the entire year of 2010. There has been a 15 per cent increase in wheat shipments and a 125 per cent increase in canola shipments in 2011. Canola shipments are expected to exceed 1.2 million tonnes during the 2011 season — a record for canola shipments in the Port of Thunder Bay.

The Port of Hamilton also experienced growth in agriculture and international trade. Hamilton's international traffic for all types of cargo is up 27 per cent over 2010 and overseas grain has increased 79 per cent. The increase was due to the strength of the 2010 grain crop, which shipped out in early 2011, as well as expansions at terminals owned by agri-businesses Parrish & Heimbecker and Richardson International.

Bruce Wood, president and CEO of the Hamilton Port Authority, said: "With the attraction of new strategic terminals to Hamilton, we anticipate continued traction from our cargo diversification strategy."

Marine Delivers


Port of Indiana sees gains in shipping

12/15 - The Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor helped the Great Lakes Seaway post a gain in shipping from last year to this year, according to a news release.

The overall Seaway posted a 1.23 percent increase in the amount of products shipped through it, reaching 33 million metric tons. According to the release, the Burns Harbor port saw an increase in coal shipments, unlike most other ports in the Seaway. No data was available on how much coal the port saw, but it went up across the Seaway by 22,000 metric tons from 2010, the release said.

“We were fortunate to have a spike in our coal business and handled nearly four times as much coal as we did in 2010,” said Rich Cooper, CEO of the port.

Cooper said the port through November had handled more cargo since 2006 and saw increases in products such as steel, coal, fertilizer and road salt. The port also benefited from barge traffic between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River, Cooper said in the release.

Post Tribune


Port of Toledo shipping generates nearly 7,000 jobs, study finds

12/15 - Toledo, Ohio – Shipping through the Port of Toledo generates nearly 7,000 jobs in Ohio with a combined payroll exceeding $558 million, according to a study jointly released Wednesday afternoon by the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority and the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation.

The overall economic impact of Toledo’s port exceeds $1 billion once business revenue and purchases by individuals and businesses dependent on the seaport are factored in, said the report, which was announced during a news conference Wednesday afternoon at the port authority’s general cargo docks near the Maumee River’s mouth.

“The results of the economic impact study clearly show the positive impact of our seaport’s operations to the northwest Ohio region,” Paul Toth, the port authority’s president, said. “Thousands of people are employed directly or indirectly as a result of Toledo’s robust cargo handling operations. This includes not only dock workers, but also jobs with railroad and trucking companies, steamship agents, freight forwarders, and many others.”

During the news conference, port officials also announced the recent purchase of two locomotives by Midwest Terminals of Toledo, the local stevedore, for rail operations at the port.

Midwest Terminals has significantly increased the amount of cargo transferred between ships and trains at the general cargo docks since taking over as operator of the general cargo docks, and will also operate the new Ironville Dock, which features a rail loop suitable for loading or unloading 100-car trains of grain, stone, and other bulk material.

Last year, the port authority received two new high-efficiency mobile harbor cranes for the port, while this year a new material handler and dry-bulk conveyor arrived at the general cargo docks. The cranes consume just 25 percent of the fuel used by equipment they replaced, and they, the material handler, and conveyor all enhance the port’s cargo handling capacity, too.

“The Port of Toledo has specialized handling equipment and facilities, which further enhances the value of this unique shipping connection,” said Collister “Terry” Johnson, the Seaway corporation’s administrator, who traveled from Washington to participate in the news conference.

“Toledo’s port expansion, along with their recent investments in infrastructure and equipment, are indicators of the port authority’s commitment to utilizing the Seaway to move North American products to customers around the world,” Mr. Johnson said.

Toledo Blade


Researchers find clue to ancients on Lake Huron bottom

12/15 - Ann Arbor, Mich. – So you found a stick on the bottom of a lake. No big deal, right? Especially in Michigan, where lakes are all around us, usually with sticks on the bottom.

But it was no ordinary piece of wood spotted by sharp-eyed researchers from the University of Michigan exploring the bottom of Lake Huron. The 5 1/2-foot long pole, tapered and pointed, is positively prehistoric — 8,900 years old based on carbon dating — and evidence of human activity along a land bridge that once linked northeast Lower Michigan to what today is central Ontario.

“The first thing you notice is that it appears to have been shaped with a rounded base and a pointed tip," said U-M anthropologist John O’Shea, who talks about the discovery and the search for ancient hunting sites in a video.

“There's also a bevel on one side that looks unnatural, like it had to have been created,” O’Shea said. “It looks like it might have been used as a tent pole or a pole to hang meat.”

The discovery made last summer was reported this week in a news release from the university, where O’Shea also is Curator of Great Lakes Archaeology at the U-M Museum of Anthropology.

The same research project discovered in 2009 a series of stones on the lake bottom that are believed to have been set up as “drive lanes” into which caribou were herded by ancient hunters along the Alpena-Amberly Ridge, which today lies beneath about 100 feet of water, 40-60 miles from the Michigan shore.

“One of the enduring questions is the way the land went under water,” O’Shea said. “Many people think it must have been a violent event, but finding this large wood object just sitting on the bottom wedged between a few boulders suggests that the inundation happened quickly but rather gently. And this in turn suggests that we'll find more intact evidence of human activity in the area.”

The wood was first spotted by a remotely operated underwater vehicle and then retrieved by divers, including O’Shea.

Supported by the national Science Foundation and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, O’Shea and U-M colleague Guy Meadows, professor of physical oceanography in the College of Engineering, began exploring the Lake Huron bottom several summers ago.

Their work is among the research featured this month in a National Geographic Channel special, “Drain the Great Lakes,” which mixes interviews and photography with startling computer generated images of what we’d see if all the water around our peninsulas went away.

Detroit Free Press


Updates -  December 15

News Photo Gallery


Today in Great Lakes History -  December 15

On 15 December 1902, the TIONESTA (steel propeller passenger steamer, 340 foot, 4,329 gross tons) was launched at the Detroit Ship Building Company, Wyandotte, Michigan (Hull #150) for the Erie & Western Transportation Company (Anchor Line). She was christened by Miss Marie B. Wetmore. The vessel lasted until 1940, when she was scrapped at Hamilton, Ontario.

ROBERT KOCH went hard aground December 15, 1985, on Sheldon Point off Oswego, New York, loaded with 2,000 tons of cement when her towline parted from the tug R & L NO 1. Dragging her anchors in heavy weather, she fetched up on a rocky shelf in 16 feet of water 300 yards off shore.

The NORTHCLIFFE HALL departed Kingston on December 15, 1974, headed for Colombia with a load of newsprint. She traded briefly in the Caribbean and then laid up at Houston, Texas, later to return to the lakes.

On December 15, 1972, the GEORGIAN BAY was reported as the last ship to pass through the city of Welland as the new $8.3 million by-pass channel was to be ready for the beginning of the 1973, shipping season. (Actually two other ships, the TADOUSSAC and PIC RIVER, followed her through.)

The JOHN E. F. MISENER, a.) SCOTT MISENER, was laid up for the last time on December 15, 1982, at Port McNicoll, Ontario.

JOE S. MORROW (Hull#350) was launched December 15, 1906, at Lorain, Ohio by the American Ship Building Co.

RED WING was laid up for the last time at Toronto on December 15, 1984, due in part to the uneconomical operation of her steam turbine power plant.

The self-unloader ROGERS CITY cleared Lauzon, Quebec, on December 15, 1987, in tow of the Maltese tug PHOCEEN on the first leg of her tow to the cutter’s torch.

On December 15, 1988, Purvis Marine's ANGLIAN LADY departed Mackinaw City with the CHIEF WAWATAM under tow, arriving at the Canadian Soo the next day. During the winter of 1988-89, Purvis removed items tagged by the State (including the pilot house) and began converting her into a barge.

On 15 December 1888, GEORGE W. ROBY (wooden propeller, 281 foot, 1,843 gross tons,) was launched at W. Bay City, Michigan. She was built by F. W. Wheeler (Hull#45). Below is a winter lay-up list as published in the Port Huron Times on 15 December 1876.At Port Huron -- Steam barges: ABERCORN, BIRKHEAD, BAY CITY, H D COFFINBURY, WILLIAM COWIE, N K FAIRBANK, GERMANIA, GEORGE KING, V H KETCHUM, MARY MILL, MARY PRINGLE, E W POWERS, D F ROSE, SALINA, TEMPEST. Propellers: CITY OF NEW BALTIMORE. Tug: CORA B Schooners and Barges: T Y AVERY, BUCKEYE STATE, GEORGE W BISSEL, KATIE BRAINARD, D K CLINT, DAYTON, S GARDNER, A GEBHART, C G KING, T G LESTER, MARINE CITY, H R NEWCOMB, J H RUTTER, REINDEER, C SPADEMAN, SAGINAW, ST JOSEPH, TAYLOR, TROY, C L YOUNG, YANKEE. At Marysville -- D G WILLIAMS, 7 tow barges, JUPITER, and LEADER.

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


Lakers will keep Great Lakes shipyards busy this winter

12/14 - Cleveland, Ohio – More than 1,200 boilermakers, welders, electricians and other skilled craftsmen will be hard at work this winter maintaining and modernizing U.S.-flag Great Lakes freighters when they lay up between late December and mid-January. The major U.S.-flag operators will invest more than $75 million in their 56 vessels so the fleet will be ready to replenish stockpiles of iron ore, coal, cement, salt and limestone when shipping resumes next March.

The work scheduled for this winter is as varied as the cargos the fleet carries. Eight vessels will be drydocked for the out-of-water survey of the hull the Coast Guard requires every five years. Huge concrete blocks are positioned in precise locations in the dry dock and the vessel gently settles on them as the water is pumped out of the chamber. Coast Guard inspectors then scour the hull for signs of any unusual wear and if any is found, order the steel replaced.

Although a study has determined that Great Lakes freighters produce 70 percent less emissions than trains and 90 percent less than trucks in moving a ton of cargo, that ratio will only get better with a number of main and auxiliary engine upgrades scheduled for this winter.

The industry’s commitment to reducing the potential that lakers’ ballast might spread a non-indigenous species introduced by an oceangoing vessel is evidenced by a number of vessels being fitted with high ballast water intakes. Traditionally vessels take on and discharge ballast water through seachests, as many as 18, located close to the bottom of the hull. High ballast water intakes not only reduce the potential that a fish or other living organism will be drawn in, they lessen the amount of sediment taken up with ballast water.

Other projects include renewal of steel in cargo holds, replacement of conveyor belts in unloading systems, upgrades of communication and navigation equipment, and overhauls of galleys.

The major shipyards on the Lakes are located in Sturgeon Bay and Superior, Wisconsin; Erie, Pennsylvania; and Toledo, Ohio. Smaller “top-side” repair operations are located in Cleveland, Ohio; Escanaba, Michigan; Buffalo, New York; and several cities in Michigan. It is estimated that a vessel generates $800,000 in economic activity in the community in which it is wintering.

Sub-freezing temperatures aren’t the only challenge facing Great Lakes shipyards and their craftsmen. Many vessels lay-up right after the locks at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, close on January 15, and get underway when the locks reopen on March 25. That leaves but nine weeks to prepare the vessels for nine-plus months of 24/7 operation.

For a few vessels, the winter lay-up is even shorter. The Joseph L. Block, for example, often loads iron ore in Escanaba, Michigan, for deliverey to Indiana Harbor, Indiana, until the end of January and then opens that trade around March 10.

Worn steel and other materials are recycled as much as possible, but in what might be something of a first, one job is going to help heat homes this winter. The entire wear deck on a barge is being replaced and the 75,000 board feet of oak lumber that must be removed will then fuel wood-burning furnaces.

When the fleet returns to service next spring, it will welcome a new 740-foot-long self-unloader. The barge Lakes Contender is nearing completion at the shipyard in Erie, Pennsylvania. Lakes Contender will be pushed by the tug tug Ken Boothe Sr., both tug and barge are nearly identical to the tug Joyce L. Van Enkevort and barge Great Lakes Trader. The new barge will be able to carry nearly 38,000 tons of cargo each trip. Also joining the fleet will be an integrated tug/barge unit that previously worked the Gulf.

When the economy is strong, the U.S.-flag Lakes fleet will carry more than 115 million tons of cargo per year. Iron ore for steel production is the largest commodity – 50 million tons. Roughly half of the country’s steelmaking capacity is located in the Great Lakes basin. Cargos of coal for power generation and limestone and cement for the construction industry can collectively top 50 million tons. Other cargos include salt to de-ice wintry roads, sand for industrial production, and cereal grains.

Lake Carriers’ Association


Port Reports -  December 14

Menominee, Mich. - Wendell Wilke
BBC Ems arrived Monday morning to off-load windmill parts. She was still dockside Tuesday morning.

Sandusky, Ohio – Jim Spencer
The Hon. Paul Martin continued loading Tuesday afternoon at the NorfolkSouthern coal dock. The Martin is headed for Hamilton, Ont., when she sails. It marks the second cargo for Hamilton that the Martin has taken on at Sandusky in five days. She is due later in the week to load for Nanticoke, Ont. Canadian Olympic is next in line, having arrived at mid-afternoon. Apparently scratched from the from the Wednesday loading list is the John G. Munson, which was forced to go to anchor in the Straits of Mackinac, delaying her arrival at Green Bay to discharge a Toledo load and her scheduled arrival at Escanaba to load taconite for Toledo.

Toronto, Ont. - Frank Hood
Quebecois is docked in Toronto, still bearing the Upper Lakes logo on her smokestack. Stephen B. Roman arrived in Toronto Monday evening.

Kingsville, Ont. - Di Bedard
Kingsville is a shallow harbor at a depth of 14-feet that normally houses the Lake Erie fishing fleet and is the alternative stop for the Pelee Island ferry. Shortly after 9 a.m. Tuesday, the Cuyahoga arrived with a light load of aggregate to be offloaded at the Southwestern Corp yard. She finished unloading by 3 p.m. backing out of the narrow harbor entrance. Cuyahoga headed across the lake, bound for Cleveland and her name sake river.


Fort Gratiot Light Station work wrapping up for winter

12/14 - Port Huron, Mich. - Restoration work on the Fort Gratiot Light Station will be wrapping up for the winter. Crews will finish work at the site within the next two weeks, said Dennis Delor of St. Clair County Parks and Recreation.

"A lot of people are following what we're doing," Delor said. "And I think the biggest thing is people have been happy to finally see it happen."

St. Clair County acquired the deed for the property from the federal government in September 2010. Port Huron has been cooperating with the county to restore buildings at the light station. Work started late this summer.

"It's a cultural treasure to this area because of its age and the ships that have passed in front of it," Delor said. "If that tower could talk, and the ships that have passed by and the tragedies that have taken place out in front of it, it's significant ... hopefully it will be a beacon for tourism."

Delor said the work on the light station is long overdue. The site includes the lighthouse, a duplex light keeper's dwelling, a fog signal building, a single light keeper's dwelling, a former Coast Guard building and a three-bay garage.

Exterior work on the Fort Gratiot Lighthouse, built in 1829, is 95% complete, Delor said. Crews also have been making repairs to the fog signal and equipment buildings.

Masonry work and painting at the lighthouse is close to completion, Delor said. Workers have installed a historically accurate door and window in the structure. Steps to the service building connected to the lighthouse tower also have been repaired.

Delor said he expected the service building's roof would be replaced with a tin, fish-scale roof within in the next two weeks.

Port Huron is paying for the lighthouse restoration with grant money and matching funds. Susan Bennett, executive director of the Port Huron Museum, said exterior bricks removed from the lighthouse also are being sold to raise money for future improvements at the light station. Proceeds from the sale of the bricks, which date to 1829, will go to the Friends of the Fort Gratiot Light.



West Michigan's proposed underwater Lake Michigan preserve sailing along

12/14 - Muskegon, Mich. - Lake Michigan shipwrecks such as the Henry Cort near Muskegon and the William B. Davock near Pentwater appear destined for additional protection and promotion as part of a proposed underwater preserve.

The West Michigan Underwater Preserve proposal is in the midst of the final steps before officially becoming the 13th preserve in Michigan's Underwater Preserve System. As part of the formal process, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality conducted a public hearing Monday night at the Great Lakes Naval Memorial and Museum in Muskegon.

The proposal calls for creation of an underwater preserve that would cover a large swath of West Michigan's shoreline — from a point between Grand Haven and Holland north to the northern boundary of Ludington State Park. The preserve's boundary would extend four miles off the shoreline.

A local group has been advocating for the proposed West Michigan preserve for the last few years. The group's members, including many avid scuba divers, contend the preserve would protect shipwrecks, generate interest in West Michigan's maritime history and promote the area as an attraction for scuba divers, researchers and shipwreck enthusiasts. The proposed preserve would cover about 345 square miles and include 12 identified shipwrecks.

The Underwater Salvage and Preserve Committee previously approved the group's proposal for the preserve. Tom Graf, an official with the DEQ's water resources division, said it would likely take up to six months to complete the administrative rule process, which establishes the legal description of the preserve.

John Hanson of Montague and Debbie Chase of Walkerville, co-chairs of the group, outlined the proposed preserve and spoke on its behalf during the public hearing. They pointed out that the state's preserve system was initially started to better protect shipwrecks and they would look to also focus on public education on the region's maritime history. Hanson said the group has already been active at diving conferences in promoting the West Michigan Underwater Preserve to others.

Mark Gleason, education director for the Great Lakes Naval Memorial and Museum, said he believes the preserve would help with educating the public on the area's maritime heritage, preserve the history in the shipwrecks and “actually help the economics, slightly, of the area.”

“There is community support for this type of preserve in West Michigan,” Gleason said.

Organizers of the proposed preserve have said it would be a tourism attraction for divers, providing them with information about the area's shipwrecks and precise locations.

The preserve system was created in 1980 by legislation that also imposed stiff penalties for disturbing shipwrecks and their artifacts. While it is now a felony to remove or disturb artifacts in the Great Lakes, the West Michigan group contends that the law is made more clear to divers by having a preserve.

Many of the local people in the group have been working on a similar project for years. The original group, called the West Michigan Artificial Reef Society, formed in 1999. That group's mission was to get permission from the state to sink a cleaned ship as an artificial reef, which was never allowed. Preserves are allowed to sink a cleaned vessel.

Muskegon Chronicle


$17.9 million boost for greening of Lake Calumet

12/14 - Chicago, Ill. – Gov. Pat Quinn joined Mayor Rahm Emanuel and a host of other officials Friday to announce a $17.9 million boost for a decades-long project to convert industrial wasteland along Lake Calumet into space safe for recreation and outdoor exploration.

The announcement marks the latest push to clean up polluted sites on Chicago's Far South Side. Supporters say they hope one day the 140,000 acres of open space will boast trails connecting Chicago to the Indiana dunes, host kayakers on marshland and attract birdwatchers from around the world.

"We really see this as the first step in a journey of reclaiming land that's a brownfield today," Quinn said.

But the joint federal, state and local project, dubbed the Millennium Reserve, will take decades to be fully realized. The state has promised an initial $17.9 million to get things started, funding that will be used to upgrade existing park facilities in the area beginning next spring, said Marc Miller, director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

Miller declined to put a price tag on all the work that officials hope to eventually complete, but acknowledged many of the longer-term projects will require significant additional federal, state and local dollars. Given the environmental damage to much of the land in the area after decades of industrial contamination from nearby mills and factories, he said, it's hard to estimate how much the work will cost.

"A lot of the things we are going to be looking at have yet to be determined," Miller said. "When you look at a brownfield site, and if we want to reclaim that, and bring it up to the standards we would like to see for restoration, we don't know what's in the ground yet. So there's a lot of unanswered questions."

But officials said they'd rather focus on the future than the long journey it will take to get there.

"This … is going to turn what has been basically fallow and make it a recreational frontier for the city and the state and the region," Emanuel said.

Chicago Tribune


Updates -  December 14

News Photo Gallery
New Video on our YouTube Channel


Today in Great Lakes History -  December 14

On 14 December 1902, JOHN E. HALL (wooden propeller freighter, 139 foot, 343 gross tons, built in 1889, at Manitowoc, Wisconsin) was towing the barge JOHN R. NOYES (wooden schooner, 137 foot, 333 gross tons, built in 1872, at Algonac, Michigan) on Lake Ontario when they were caught in a blizzard-gale. After a day of struggling, the NOYES broke loose and drifted for two days before she went ashore and broke up near Lakeside, New York without loss of life. The HALL tried to run for shelter but swamped and sank off Main Duck Island with the loss of the entire crew of nine.

On December 14, 1984, the WILLIAM CLAY FORD laid up for the final time at the Rouge Steel plant in Dearborn, Michigan.

The JIIMAAN was towed out of dry dock at Port Weller Drydocks Ltd. on December 14, 1992, by the tugs JAMES E. McGRATH and LAC VANCOUVER to the fit out dock for completion.

The CHICAGO TRIBUNE was sold for scrap in 1988, and was towed up the Welland Canal on December 14, 1988, by the tugs THUNDER CAPE and MICHAEL D MISNER to Port Colborne, Ontario.

On December 14, 1926, the W.E. FITZGERALD was caught in heavy seas and suffered damaged frames and hull plating. Repairs consisted of replacing nearly 25,000 rivets and numerous hull plates.

The package freighter GEORGE N. ORR, a recent war acquisition from the Canada Atlantic Transit Company, was wrecked off Savage Point, Prince Edward Island, on December 14, 1917. She was enroute to New York City with a load of hay.

On 14 December 1883, MARY ANN HULBERT (wooden schooner-barge, 62 gross tons, built in 1873, at Bayfield, Wisconsin) was carrying railroad workers and supplies in tow of the steamer KINCADINE in a storm on Lake Superior. She was sailing from Port Arthur for Michipicoten Island. The HULBERT was overwhelmed by the gale and foundered, The crew of five plus all 15 of the railroad workers were lost.

December 14, 1903 - The PERE MARQUETTE 20 left the shipyard in Cleveland, Ohio on her maiden voyage.

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


Canadian Miner wreck threatened by Mother Nature's wrath

12/13 - Main-A-Dieu, N.S. - The weather-bomb that shook the Maritimes last Thursday has residents of Cape Breton wondering when the former Canadian Miner's wreck will give in to Mother Nature's violent attacks. The ship ran aground in September when being towed to Turkey to be scrapped.

Thursday's storm was the third to hit the Maritimes since September. The 110 km winds rocked the wreck against the rocky shore, threatening the weak structure. The ship's engine is now fully exposed and the holes in its stern will keep eroding until the wreck is cut to pieces and scrapped for good.

Nova Scotia premier Darrell Dexter said the ship's removal would cost an approximate $25-million and work could not begin until the spring. Transport Canada has removed the wreck from its list of priorities as it deems it safe for the environment after removing hazards materials.



USCG Thunder Bay arrives for ice breaking season

12/13 - Cleveland, Ohio - The Maine-based Coast Guard cutter Thunder Bay arrived at its temporary homeport at the USCG Cleveland Moorings Monday, to assist in the service's ice breaking mission in the Great Lakes throughout the winter months.

While in the region, the crew of the 140-foot ice-breaking tug from Rockland, Maine, will assist other Coast Guard icebreakers during Operations Coal Shovel and Taconite, the largest domestic ice breaking operations in the country.

The Coast Guard conducts domestic ice breaking to aid in search and rescue and other emergency operations, to mitigate flooding, and to meet the reasonable demands of commerce.

Ice breaking on the Great Lakes is vital to keeping shipping lanes open. Large quantities of steel, coal, heating oil and grain ships throughout the region, and Coast Guard ice breaking services enable these shippers to transport an average of $2 billion worth of cargo each year.

Coast Guard cutters from the northeastern U.S. have successfully assisted with ice breaking in the Great Lakes for the past three winters – the cutters Morro Bay, homeported in New London, Conn., during the 2010-2011 winter; Penobscot Bay, homeported in Bayonne, N.J., during the 2009-2010 winter; and Thunder Bay during the winter of 2008-2009.

While the crew of the Thunder Bay is deployed to the Great Lakes, other New England cutter crews will cover the Thunder Bay’s traditional area of responsibility when the need for ice breaking there arises.


Port Reports -  December 13

Saginaw River – Todd Shorkey
The tug Olive L. Moore, and barge Lewis J. Kuber were inbound the Saginaw River on Monday, calling on the Bay Aggregates dock in Bay City. The pair completed their unload during the afternoon and were then outbound for the lake.


VSL Centurion stops for repairs

12/13 - Sunday morning the VSL Centurion suffered a breakdown and loss of power while downbound below Cardinal, Ont. She got her main engine back shortly afterwards and turned around to proceed to Johnstown where she made fast in the north slip. She is expected to be a few days undergoing repairs.

Ron Beaupre


Updates -  December 13

Weekly Website Updates
News Photo Gallery
New Video on our YouTube Channel


Today in Great Lakes History -  December 13

CANADIAN ENTERPRISE entered service for Upper Lakes Shipping Ltd. on December 13, 1979.

On December 13, 1989, Kinsman’s HENRY STEINBRENNER, a.) WILLIAM A. MC GONAGLE was laid up at Toledo's Lakefront Dock.

The G.A. TOMLINSON, a.) D O MILLS, arrived under her own power at Triad Salvage Inc., Ashtabula, Ohio on December 13, 1979, to be scrapped.

The THOMAS WILSON ran aground in the St. Marys River on December 13, 1976. The accident required lightering before she would float free.

On 13 December 1872, the Port Huron Times added three vessels to those in winter lay-up at Port Huron: Steamer MARINE CITY, tug JOHN PRINDEVILLE, and wrecking tug RESCUE.

December 13, 1906 - The ANN ARBOR NO 4 departed for Manitowoc, Wisconsin on her first trip.

In 1929, the McLouth Steamship Company filed a claim against the City of Port Huron for $687 because its sand sucker, the KALKASKA, was held up for 27-1/2 hours in the Black River because of an inability to open the north span of the Military Street Bridge.

On 13 December 1961, SWEDEN, a.) L C SMITH, steel propeller, 414 foot, 4702 gross tons, built in 1902, at W. Bay City, Michigan) arrived in tow at Savanna, Italy for scrapping.

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


Port Reports -  December 12

Cleveland, Ohio - Jake Kniola
Sunday the tug Joyce L VanEnkevort and barge Great Lakes Trader called to the Cleveland Bulk Terminal. The Buffalo kept doing its shuttles to Arcelor Mittal. The Petite Forte and barge St Marys Cement were at the St Marys Dock. The tug, Cleveland, is laid-up at Great Lakes Shipyard and the Gisele Scan was docked at the Port.


East Chicago dredging to begin

12/12 - East Chicago – A long-delayed dredging of the Indiana Harbor and Ship Canal is scheduled to begin next summer, and researchers are expanding their study to measure toxic chemical levels.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to remove about 4.6 million cubic yards of sediment from the harbor and canal, which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says contains 362 toxic and cancer-causing substances and is the most contaminated waterway in the Great Lakes area. The EPA will permanently store the material at a disposal site along Indianapolis Boulevard at Riley Road.

Once dredging begins, about 400,000 cubic yards of sediment will be removed during the annual two to six months of operations, said Natalie Mills, Army Corps project manager. Sediment will be transported by barge under the Indianapolis Boulevard drawbridge to the confined disposal facility, which covers 186 acres of a former Sinclair Oil refinery just blocks from East Chicago Central High School.

The harbor and canal have not been dredged since 1972, and 1.8 million cubic yards of sediment initially will be removed as backlog, Mills said, with "maintenance dredging" occupying the remaining 25 years of the $150 million project.

The Army Corps will maintain real-time air monitoring around the disposal site, Mills said, as well as at the dock where sediment will be transferred from barges into the 21-foot-tall confinement facility.

A website is being prepared by a private contractor to report findings from air monitors, Mills said, and to inform the community about the ongoing dredging activities.

NW Times


Report on waterway shipping decline fuels Asian carp debate

12/12 - Chicago, Ill. – A federal report showing that cargo traffic on Chicago-area waterways has been flat or declining for 15 years has been quickly embraced by those who support closing locks or installing barriers to keep invasive species like the Asian carp out of the Great Lakes.

Michigan officials, who have joined other states in a lawsuit to have some Chicago-area locks closed, pointed to the findings as evidence that the Great Lakes shipping industry would not be dramatically affected if barriers were erected.

"Those findings are in agreement with the study that we commissioned two years ago that found that canal traffic was not only declining but was a far less than significant portion of the Chicago economy," said John Sellek, a spokesman for the Michigan attorney general's office.

The report is part of an Army Corps of Engineers study of waterway issues including possible lock closings and barriers.

The Corps found that cargo traffic on the waterways decreased from 24.6 million tons in 1994 to 13.4 million tons in 2009, an annual decline of about 4 percent. Additionally, the study found that 87 percent of internal traffic never passed through a lock.

Despite those numbers Illinois business groups said lock closings would still have a noticeable impact, arguing that shipping traffic would go up once the economy recovers.

"For those companies that depend on barges for their livelihood … it is a big deal," said Mark Biel, chairman of UnLock Our Jobs, an industry group advocating that the locks be kept open.

Chicago Tribune


Divers discover mid-1800s shipwreck near Cape Vincent

12/12 - Cape Vincent. N.Y. — Two veteran divers have discovered a rare mid-19th century shipwreck on the northeast end of Lake Ontario in the upper St. Lawrence River near Cape Vincent.

Dennis R. McCarthy, who discovered the wreck by pure coincidence with fellow diver Raymond I. “Skip” Couch, said the ship appears to be a Great Lakes sloop used for short-distance cargo transportation in shallow waters that sank sometime between 1850 and 1870.

“We were getting new side scans of known shipwrecks for another book we are working on,” said McCarthy. “We found this wreck by accident in a location you would never expect to find a sunken ship. Skip forgot to turn the equipment off and kept the side-scan sonar running. We later identified the outlines of a shipwreck with the side scans from that day.”

After their discovery in August, the divers went back to the site in September and videotaped the 50-foot-long and 14-foot-wide wreck so that the state Historic Preservation Office in Albany could review and confirm that it was indeed a new find.

The Historic Preservation Office confirmed in November that the wreck had not been registered with the state. At this point, little is known about the ship and the circumstance of its sinking.

Based on the video images of the wreck, underwater archaeologists determined it is similar to Hudson River sloops but with a unique centerboard and triangular rudder design not seen before on the Great Lakes.

“Discoveries like this, they are few and far between. The state doesn’t have any records of these kinds of vessels being used in the Great Lakes,” said Couch.

Before sloops were replaced by steamships in the 1880s, these small vessels — which were less than 60 feet long and rigged with a fore-and-aft sail and a single mast — would transport goods from one port to another by navigating through small rivers, bays and harbors where water was shallow.

The ship’s sinking was likely a sudden and violent event, Couch said. If the ship had been abandoned on purpose, the owners would have salvaged the box stove — a common but rather valuable cast-iron wood stove — inside the hull before leaving the vessel, he said.

Until its real name and origin are determined through further research, the divers and state Historic Preservation Office have decided to call it the “Box Stove Wreck.”

Watertown Daily Times


Marine Historical Society of Detroit launches new Web site

12/12 - Hard on the heels of the release of its annual historic Great Lakes vessel calendar, the Marine Historical Society of Detroit has unveiled a revamped Web site. MHSD members receive the calendar, as well as the recently redesigned monthly publication The Detroit Marine Historian as part of their membership package. The Marine Historical Society of Detroit has been active for more than 50 years and has published a number of well-received books, including a history of the Great Lakes Engineering Works shipyard, the "Ahoy & Farewell" series and three volumes of "Great Lakes Ships We Remember." A new book, "The Nicholson Lines and Their Captains," by Emory L. Massman, is in the works for spring release.

Click here to check out their site.


Updates -  December 12

Weekly Website Updates
News Photo Gallery
Historical Perspectives updated - City of Munising gallery


Today in Great Lakes History -  December 12

On 12 December 1898, FANNY H (wooden propeller tug, 54 foot, 16 gross tons, built in 1890, at Bay City, Michigan) was sold by J. R. Hitchcock to the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers. She underwent a major rebuild in 1908, when she was lengthened to 60 feet.

The push tug PRESQUE ISLE was launched December 12, 1972, as (Hull #322) by the Halter Marine Services, Inc., New Orleans, Louisiana.

The SPINDLETOP, e.) BADGER STATE was launched December 12, 1942, for the United States Maritime Commission.

The WHEAT KING returned to Port Weller Dry Docks on December 12, 1975, for lengthening to the maximum Seaway size of 730 feet overall for the iron ore and grain trade thus ending her salt water activities.

One unusual trip for the WOODLAND occurred when she arrived at Toronto, Ontario on December 12, 1987, to load a 155 foot, 135-ton self-unloading unit for delivery to the Verolme Shipyard in Brazil, where the Govan-built Panamax bulk carrier CSL INNOVATOR was being converted to a self-unloader.

On Monday December 12, 1898, the AURORA was fast in the ice at Amherstburg, Ontario, when a watchman smelled smoke. The crew tried to put out the fire, but to no avail. They were taken off the burning vessel by the tug C A LORMAN. The ship burned to the water's edge.

On December 12, 1956, the once proud passenger vessels EASTERN STATES and GREATER DETROIT were taken out onto Lake St. Clair where they were set afire. All the superstructure was burned off and the hulls were taken to Hamilton, Ontario, where they were scrapped in 1957.

On 12 December 1872, the Port Huron Times listed the following vessels at winter lay-up at Sarnia, Ontario: Schooners: MARY E PEREW, KINGFISHER, UNADILLA, ONEONTA, AMERICAN, J G MASTEN, PELICAN, UNION, B ALLEN, and CAMDEN; Brigs: DAVID A WELLS, WAGONER, and FRANK D BARKER; Barks: C T MAPLE, EMALINE BATES, and D A VAN VALKENBURG; Steamer: MANITOBA.

On 12 December 1877, U.S. Marshall Matthews sold the boiler and machinery of the CITY OF PORT HURON at auction in Detroit, Michigan. Darius Cole submitted the winning bid of $1,000.

Data from: Joe Barr, Dave Swayze, Jody Aho, Gordon Shaw, Max Hanley, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series.


Port Reports -  December 11

Twin Ports – Al Miller
Twin Ports vessel traffic Saturday included American Integrity, loading coal at Midwest Energy Terminal, and Lake Ontario and Zelada Desgagnes, anchored out on the lake before entering port for grain. After several days tied up at Fraser Shipyards, the icebreaker Mackinaw entered the drydock for repairs. Ice is spreading over the harbor, but the cutter Biscayne Bay has made a few passes through the main channels to keep them broken up.

Menominee / Marinette - Scott Best
Saturday was a busy day for tugs and tug-barges on the Menominee River. The Gregory J. Busch and her barge arrived with cargo to unload at K&K shortly after 12:30 a.m. and were followed shortly thereafter by the tug Zeus and her barge, which came in to load more rock. Just after 5 a.m., the tug Jimmy L arrived and went up river to break ice and do some work for Marinette Marine Co. Finally, a little after noon, the tug Donald C and her barge arrived, also to load rock. All traffic on the Menominee River is contending with some ice beyond the Ogden Street Bridge as a result of several nights of single-digit temperatures.

Cedarville and Port Inland, Mich. - Denny Dushane
The only vessel scheduled for the stone dock in Cedarville is the Arthur M. Anderson, due on December 11. In Port Inland, due to load stone is Pere Marquette 41 on December 11 and Saginaw, due to load at Port Inland on December 12.

Calcite, Mich. - Denny Dushane
The stone dock at the Port of Calcite will see a good amount of vessel traffic in the next few days with several vessels loading limestone cargoes. Loading at Calcite on December 10 was the Manitowoc. Two vessels are due to load on December 11 – the Lewis J. Kuber and the James L. Kuber are due in about 12 hours apart. Due to load at the dock in Calcite on December 12 is the Saginaw. For December 13, two vessels are due to load – Manistee and Calumet. Rounding out the schedule for the stone dock at Calcite is Lewis J. Kuber December 14. All vessels are currently scheduled for the North Dock at the stone dock.

Stoneport, Mich. - Denny Dushane
As the 2011 shipping season winds down, the stone dock at Stoneport will see a flurry of activity in the next week with several vessels on the lineup to load limestone. McKee Sons loaded at Stoneport on Saturday, December 10, with three other vessels due to arrive later that day – Lewis J. Kuber, Algoma Navigator and American Courage. No boats are scheduled for December 11. Due December 12 are two vessels, Saginaw and Lewis J. Kuber. December 13 no boats are scheduled and on December 14 the Great Republic is due to load. December 15 no boats are scheduled. Due on December 16 is the John G. Munson, and on December 17 the Cason J. Callaway is due. Rounding out the schedule for the Stoneport Dock is the Algorail due on December 18.

Toledo, Ohio - Denny Dushane
The Port of Toledo will see several vessels in the coming days with several loads due for both the CSX Coal Dock and the Torco Dock. At the CSX Coal Dock, John J. Boland loaded on December 10. Also due to load coal at the CSX Dock is the Great Lakes Trader and Kaye E. Barker, both on December 11. On December 14 there are three vessels scheduled to load coal at the CSX Dock – James L. Kuber, Manitowoc and Algosoo. Vessels scheduled to arrive for the Torco Dock to unload ore in the coming days are Arthur M. Anderson December 10, Kaye E. Barker on the 11th, Manitowoc for the 14th and the John G. Munson on the 14th also.

Sandusky, Ohio - Jim Spencer
Herbert C. Jackson was under the loading chute at the Norfolk Southern coal dock Saturday afternoon, taking on an Ecorse, Mich.-bound load. Tucked in astern and awaiting her turn at the dock was the Lee A. Tregurtha, which will load overnight and Sunday morning for Duluth. The Jackson will return to the dock late Sunday to take aboard a second load for Ecorse, while due at the dock Monday is the CSL's Hon. Paul Martin, scheduled to load again for Hamilton, Ont.

Buffalo, N.Y. – Brian W.
The tug Nickelena was sitting at Burnette Saturday morning, all ready to go but likely waiting on weather. The large G-tug Ohio arrived off Buffalo around 9 a.m. She brought barge WITTE 1407 into the North Entrance and then switched out of towing gear off the Buffalo Port Terminal in the Outer Harbor. After taking the barge on the hip along the port side, she headed for the Gateway Metroport Main Dock in Lackawanna to load air compressor equipment for delivery to Ohio.


Work starts this week to start S.S. Keewatin on journey back to Ontario

12/11 - Douglas, Mich. - The historic S.S. Keewatin steamship will be freed from 50,000 cubic yards of the muck and mud this week in preparation for a 600-mile trip next spring to its former home in Port McNicoll, Ontario.

The 350-foot-long, century-old Great Lakes passenger ship — a tourist landmark on Lake Kalamazoo for more than four decades — was purchased by Skyline International Development Inc. to become a floating museum in the Georgian Bay and the centerpiece of a $1 billion resort city being built by the company. After a $1 million renovation, the ship will be docked on a three-acre waterfront park, said Eric Conroy, a consultant on the Keewatin project. Plans call for the park to be named after R.J. and Diane Peterson, who purchased the boat and brought it to Douglas in 1967.

“The Keewatin is sitting in about 12 feet of silt, and dredging the muck to get the Keewatin afloat is the first step to getting her ready to be towed home in June,” said R.J. Peterson, who saved the steamship from the scrap yard to be a tourist attraction.

After the Keewatin is freed, a channel will be dredged in Lake Kalamazoo next spring to move it to the Saugatuck channel and Lake Michigan. A 30-deep detention area has been dug on land next to the boat for the dredged silt to dry.

Towing the boat to Port McNicoll is scheduled for June, the 100th anniversary of its original arrival in Ontario, when it became part of the Canadian Pacific Railway’s “rail-to-water” transportation center.

“The Keewatin is an icon for Port McNicoll,” said Conroy, whose book “A Steak in the Drawer,” about his early career as a steward on the steamship, initiated the repatriation of the Edwardian-era cruise ship to original Canadian port. “It’s like returning the Statue of Liberty to New York City after a 45-year absence,” he said.

Skyline Development owns 12,000 acres in Port McNicoll along a deep-water port built by the Canadian Pacific Railway as a land and lake terminal for cargo and passenger service. Skyline, a developer of destination resorts, plans to a $1 billion resort city at the site with hotels, waterfront homes, downtown condominiums and shopping.

Conroy said Skyline Development is spending more than $1 million to dredge around the boat and create the 15-foot deep channel in preparation for towing the Keewatin to Ontario.

Port McNicoll is creating a nonprofit foundation for ownership of the boat and an estimated $2 million restoration of the cruise ship.

The Grand Rapids Press


Great Lakes TV special airs Sunday on Discovery Channel

12/11 - The subject is a new, hour-long TV special called “Drain the Great Lakes,” a Canadian production that premieres Sunday, Dec. 11 on the Discovery Channel. The program uses modern technology and cutting-edge computer-generated imagery to ponder some intriguing questions.

What would the landscape look like if we drained the Great Lakes? What would it tell us about our past and, perhaps ominously, our future? What about all the debris -- i.e., shipwrecks, including the legendary Edmund Fitzgerald -- being preserved by the cold, clear water? And how is the aggressive infiltration of mussels over the past two decades impacting things?

The special goes lake by lake, though Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie and Ontario, to reveal the idiosyncrasies of each. There are massive underwater gorges and cliffs that would have made for many visible natural wonders to rival Niagara Falls when water levels were far lower.

That is one of the most intriguing realizations when watching “Drain the Great Lakes.” Apparently there is ample evidence to suggest the Great Lakes used to be, well, basically drained.

The Great Lakes were born as the Ice Age receded, but water levels have fluctuated wildly through thousands of years, with climate change being the root cause. For a while, 7,000 or 8,000 years ago, the five Great Lakes existed in much smaller form as separate basins, with very little river activity connecting them.

With modern technology opening up a virtual looking glass to the bottom of the lakes, researchers have been combing the depths for evidence of past human life. Underneath Lake Huron, for example, a mysterious long line of rocks has been discovered that may have been placed there by ancient man, for the purpose of herding wild caribou into areas where they could be hunted easily.

For something more relevant to current times, “Drain the Great Lakes” looks underneath Lake Ontario, not far from where Canada's largest city, Toronto, towers on the banks.

When CGI is used to "drain" Lake Ontario, it reveals a number of interconnected pop-ups, i.e., substantial underwater ridges where the pressure of the earth has caused the lake bed to pop up. This means the area has undergone far more little earthquakes than people realize.

Drain the Great Lakes also examines some man-made debris, such as the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, which occurred in 1975 and later was immortalized in a Gordon Lightfoot song. There have been more than 6,000 shipwrecks on the Great Lakes, which speaks to the massive volume of shipping that occurred on them in bygone eras.

When CGI "drains" Lake Superior and studies what's left of the Edmund Fitzgerald, it's quite a sight. One tragic aspect of the mysterious wreck is how the ship virtually "snowplowed" the otherwise smooth lake bed, an indication of how uncommonly fast the vessel was moving when it hit bottom.


Wolfe Island Captain R.F. Fawcett passes away

12/11 - Riding the horsetail of a southwesterly gale, longtime ferry Captain Richard “RF” Fawcett passed away Dec. 9 on Wolfe Island. He was 89. Retiring from MTO's Wolfe Island Ferry Service as senior captain of both Glenora and Wolfe Island ferries in 1987, he had the distinction of serving aboard all three Wolfe Islanders. "Just before the war, I'd spell some of the fellows off the 'ol girl for a bit," he said recently. This was on the sidewheeler SS Wolfe Islander before 1946. Later, he was appointed captain aboard the Wolfe Islander (II) in April 1956. Funeral services are pending but will probably be on Monday, Dec. 12. Brian Johnson


Updates -  December 11

News Photo Gallery


Today in Great Lakes History -  December 11

On 11 December 2002, after last minute dredging operations were completed, Nadro Marine’s tugs SEAHOUND and VAC took the World War II Canadian Naval Tribal-class destroyer H.M.C.S. HAIDA from her mooring place at Toronto’s Ontario Place to Port Weller Dry Docks where a $3.5M refit was started in preparation for the vessel to start her new career as a museum ship in Hamilton, Ontario.

TEXACO CHIEF (Hull#193) was launched December 11, 1968, at Collingwood, Ontario, by Collingwood Shipyards Ltd.

The H. LEE WHITE collided with the Greek salty GEORGIOS on December 11, 1974, near St. Clair, Michigan, and had to return to Nicholson's dock at Detroit, Michigan for inspection.

On December 11, 1979, while about 11 miles off Manitou Island near the Keweenaw Peninsula, the ASHLAND's engine stalled due to a faulty relay switch. Caught in heavy weather and wallowing in the wave troughs, she put out a distress call. True to Great Lakes tradition four vessels immediately came to her assistance: two thousand footers, LEWIS WILSON FOY and EDWIN H. GOTT, along with WILLIS B. BOYER and U.S.C.G. cutter MESQUITE.

WILLIAM CLAY FORD loaded her last cargo at Duluth on December 11, 1984.

PERE MARQUETTE 21 passed down the Welland Canal (loaded with the remnants of Port Huron's Peerless Cement Dock) on December 11, 1974, towed by the tugs SALVAGE MONARCH and DANIEL MC ALLISTER on the way to Sorel, Quebec where she was laid up.

The fishing boat LINDA E vanished on Lake Michigan along with its three crewmen on December 11, 1998.

Upper Lakes Shipping Ltd.’s WHEAT KING was laid up for the last time December 11, 1981.


On 11 December 1895, GEORGE W. ADAMS (wooden schooner-barge, 231 foot, 1444 gross tons, built in 1875, at Toledo, Ohio) was in tow of the steamer CALEDONIA with a load of coal, bound from Cleveland for Chicago. Her hull was crushed by ice and she sank near Colchester Shoals on Lake Erie. A salvage operation on her the following summer was a failure.

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


Ships moving down again in Welland Canal after divers find lost anchor

12/10 - Port Colborne, Ont. - Ship traffic resumed on the Welland Canal Friday afternoon after divers found a runaway anchor at the bottom of the waterway. St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp. spokesman Andrew Bogora said the anchor came loose from a ship near Bridge 21 in Port Colborne Friday morning. Divers were deployed to find the anchor, which was lost from the stern of the VSL Centurion, stalling six ships, including the Centurion. Friday afternoon, Bogora said divers found the anchor lying on its side at the bottom of the canal. That means ships can easily clear it, and traffic was set to resume around 1 p.m.
St. Catharines Standard


Port Reports -  December 10

Superior, Wis. -
Friday morning there was a bit of the shipyard shuffle going on at Fraser Shipyards, Corps of Engineers' tug D.L. Billmaier came off the blocks in Superior after having repairs made to its rudder, which had locked up during sea trials a few days ago. As she left, USCGC Mackinaw prepared to go into the same dry dock for repairs. Billmaier apparently successfully completed her sea trials on Lake Superior as she was back in Duluth at mid-day. USCGC Biscayne Bay remains at the ready dockside at the DECC. With local temperatures 15-20 below freezing recently, the harbor has just enough ice to show the vessel tracks.

Marquette, Mich. – Rod Burdick
On a frigid Friday afternoon at the Upper Harbor, Kaye E. Barker loaded ore, and Michipicoten arrived to load. Many vessels have passed just north of the Upper Harbor in recent days taking the south route to western Lake Superior ports due to winds.

Sturgeon Bay, Wis. – Wendell Wilke
The commercial fish tug D&S, which was long associated with the Port of Milwaukee and more recently had located to Marinette, Wis., after a sale, has a new name. She more recently had been reworked at Bay Marine, Sturgeon Bay, Wis., and has now been renamed Agnes H. with a hailing port of Sturgeon Bay on her stern.

Alpena, Mich. - Ben & Chanda McClain
Friday was a busy day with three vessels calling at Lafarge. The barge McKee Sons and tug Invincible unloaded coal throughout the day and the G.L Ostrander barge Integrity took on cement under the silos. Both vessels departed by late afternoon and once the channel was clear the Samuel de Champlain and barge Innovation headed into port.

Saginaw River – Todd Shorkey
Manitowoc arrived early Friday morning, calling on the Bay City Wirt Stone Dock to unload. She completed her unload, turned off the dock in the Wirt Turning Basin, and was outbound for the lake around 2:30 on Friday. The Olive L. Moore - Lewis J. Kuber arrived Friday afternoon to call on the Bay Aggregates dock in Bay City. To be able to back into the Bay Aggregates slip, Stephen B. Roman, who was unloading across the river at Essroc, had to move upriver to make room for the Moore-Kuber. After the pair had backed in to Bay Aggregates, the Roman backed downriver and again tied back up at the Essroc dock to finish unloading. Both vessels were expected to be outbound late Friday.

Buffalo, N.Y. – Brian W.
The new Nicholson Hall boiler at the Burnette Trucking Dock was successfully loaded onto the barge BMI-192 Thursday night. Work was still underway Friday afternoon to secure the load before departure, which may be delayed for weather.


Port of Green Bay gets back on track

12/10 - Green Bay, Wis. – For the first time since 2008, the Port of Green Bay has surpassed 2 million tons of cargo for the season, and there are still several weeks of shipping traffic left. Through November, the port has handled 2.02 million tons of cargo, up 26 percent over the same time in 2010, according to a monthly report from the port.

"We broke 2 million (tons), so we are definitely better than last year," said Port Manager Dean Haen. "We did 2.2 (million tons) in 2008 and 2.3 in 2007, so we're going to be right back to those years. I know 2009 and 2010 were less than 2 million.” Haen said anything above 2.1 million tons is a "strong" year.

Cargo shipments in Green Bay — and around the Great Lakes — were hobbled in recent years by the recession, but have showed noticeable gains this year. More than 308,650 tons of cargo — inbound and outbound — passed through the Port of Green Bay in November. In 2010 that figure was 254,949 tons.

One of the factors boosting numbers this year is a new petroleum terminal owned and operated by U.S. Venture. Through the end of last month, the port had imported and exported about 200,000 tons of petrol, according to the report.

"If they have growth taking off from this point, they're going to be a huge player in the port," Haen said.

Through October, U.S. ships carried 75 million tons of cargo on the Great Lakes, according to the Ohio-based Lake Carriers' Association. That's 3.8 percent more than 2010, but 2 percent less than the five-year average.

Total November cargo numbers from the association will be released later this month, but last month's limestone numbers were released earlier this week and showed total shipments of that commodity were up about 1.2 percent from the same time in 2010.

For the season, the limestone trade is about 156,000 tons less than 2010 and about 10.5 percent less than the five-year average, according to the association.

December has been a brisk month so far in the port. On Wednesday morning, the cement barge Integrity was at the LaFarge terminal while the laker Arthur M. Anderson was delivering coal at C. Reiss Coal Co.

Trade will continue for a several more weeks with the locks at Sault St. Marie staying open into January while St. Lawrence Seaway locks — which provide access the to ocean — will close late this month.

"Most of trade that happens in December in Green Bay is inter-lake; cement and coal," Haen said.

Ship traffic for terminals with limited storage space — petroleum tanks, cement silos and other fixed structures — likely will continue into Green Bay as ice conditions allow.

Green Bay Press Gazette


Great Lakes museum plan is poised for Toledo launch

12/10 - Toledo, Ohio – A dream announced in 2010 to create the National Great Lakes Maritime Museum on the banks of the Maumee River is closer to happening thanks to more than $6 million awarded to the project from the state.

The Ohio Cultural Facilities Commission has approved $6,075,000 for the project. The money will be used by the city of Toledo and the Great Lakes Historical Society, which has its headquarters in Vermilion, to develop the Marina District site.

"We still have to raise money, and we're in that process, but the big hurdle has been climbed," said historical society executive director Chris Gillcrist. "Now we have important road bumps to be rolled over, but we hope that this announcement will inspire others to realize that this is a reality and to want to be a part of it."

The Great Lakes Maritime Museum contracted with the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority to move from Vermilion to the port-owned Toledo Maritime Center, off Front Street in the Marina District. The total project is expected to cost about $8.5 million.

Included in the East Toledo development will be a maritime park with outdoor exhibits and the interior renovation of the existing Skyway Marina building to house exhibits for the National Great Lakes Maritime Museum. The freighter, the SS Col. James M. Schoonmaker, formerly the SS Willis B. Boyer, will be its showcase exhibit.

Originally set to open next year, the National Great Lakes Maritime Museum's debut was pushed back to May, 2013. Mr. Gillcrist said this week's commission announcement came just in time to ensure that all necessary work, including dredging the river and building the slip where the Schoonmaker will be moored, will be completed this summer.

Robin Whitney, Toledo's commissioner of engineering services, said the grant will be administered by the city, which will be advertising for bids on the projects soon.

Ms. Whitney said $4.9 million of the grant was originally earmarked for the Marina District -- money that the city hoped to redirect for the development of the maritime museum. Adding their share to that of the historical society -- which had been allocated $1.175 million -- the collaboration was awarded more than $6 million for the project.

"We're just so excited to work on this," Ms. Whitney said. "It's a great team effort between the Great Lakes Historical Society, the city, and the port authority."

Dave Wartel, assistant director and chief operating officer of the Ohio Cultural Facilities Commission, said the partnership between the city and the society makes the project exciting and unique. He said the combination of the interior and exterior exhibits as well as the Schoonmaker's presence will highlight Toledo's place in Great Lakes history.

"The new location will really offer an opportunity for additional visitors to the museum," he said. "It's an important part of Great Lakes history and Toledo's heritage."

The Ohio Cultural Facilities Commission is a state agency that "supports economic development, expands educational opportunities, and enhances the quality of life for Ohioans by improving the state's cultural facilities."

The commission has disbursed more than $480 million in capital funds since 1988.

In particular, the funds have been allocated by the General Assembly and the governor for facility improvement projects at nonprofit theaters, museums, historical sites, and publicly owned professional sports venues.

Mr. Gillcrist said the society is hoping to garner more interest in memberships by offering area residents a chance for a ride on a Great Lakes freighter. He said those buying annual Great Lakes Historical Society memberships will receive raffle tickets for the experience.

"For the society, this [grant] is just unbelievable. We've been dreaming about a national museum for 10 years. We're saying to members now, we are in a go-stage," Mr. Gillcrist said. "For us, the creation of a national museum is so important for telling the story of history that, up until now, seems to be getting lost."

Toledo Blade


Updates -  December 10

News Photo Gallery


Today in Great Lakes History -  December 10

The steamer EDWARD Y. TOWNSEND loaded the last cargo of ore for the 1942 season at Marquette.

CEDARGLEN, a.) WILLIAM C. ATWATER, loaded her last cargo at Thunder Bay, Ontario on December 10, 1984, carrying grain for Goderich, Ontario.

Cleveland-Cliffs Iron Co. of Cleveland, Ohio bought the NOTRE DAME VICTORY on December 10, 1950. She would later become the b.) CLIFFS VICTORY.

The IRVIN L. CLYMER was laid up at Superior, Wisconsin on December 10, 1985, for two seasons before returning to service April 30, 1988.

An explosion occurred in the IMPERIAL LEDUC's, b.) NIPIGON BAY ) forward tanks on December 10, 1951. This happened while her crew was cleaning and butterworthing the tanks. Five crew members were injured with one eventually dying in the hospital. Multiple explosions caused extensive damage in excess of $500,000.

On December 10, 1905, the WILLIAM E. COREY finally was pulled free and refloated after grounding on Gull Island Reef in the Apostle Islands in late November.

FRANK A. SHERMAN laid up for the last time at Toronto, Ontario on December 10, 1981.

Donated by Cleveland-Cliffs to the Great Lakes Historical Society on December 10, 1987, the WILLIAM G. MATHER was to become a museum ship at Cleveland's waterfront.

PAUL H. CARNAHAN and her former fleet mate, GEORGE M. HUMPHREY, arrived safely under tow at Kaohsiung, Taiwan on December 10, 1986, for scrapping.

On 10 December 1891, a fire started on MARY (2-mast wooden schooner, 84 foot, 87 gross tons, built in 1877, at Merriton, Ontario) when an oil stove in the kitchen exploded. The vessel was at anchor at Sarnia, Ontario and damage was estimated at $10,000.

The CORISANE (2-mast wooden schooner-barge, 137 foot, 292 gross tons, built in 1873, at Marine City, Michigan) was tied up alongside MARY and she also caught fire but the flames were quickly extinguished. She was towed away from MARY by the ferry J C CLARK.

The PERE MARQUETTE 3 ran aground in 1893, north of Milwaukee.

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


Great Lakes coal trade down 10 percent in November

12/9 - Cleveland, Ohio – Shipments of coal on the Great Lakes totaled 3 million net tons in November, virtually unchanged from October, but a drop of 10 percent compared to a year ago. The trade slipped even more 16.7 percent when compared to the 5-year average for November.

Loadings at Lake Superior ports fell to 1.6 million tons, a decrease of 15.7 percent compared to a year ago. Shipments from Lake Michigan terminals rose 36 percent. Loadings at Lake Erie docks fell by 12.7 percent.

Year-to-date, the coal trade stands at 25.1 million tons, a decrease of 13.6 percent compared to a year ago, and substantially more, 24.1 percent, when compared to the 5-year average for the January-November timeframe.

Lake Carriers Association


Port Reports -  December 9

Saginaw River – Todd Shorkey
Stephen B. Roman called on the Saginaw River on Thursday, stopping at the Essroc Dock in Essexville to unload. She was expected to be outbound early Friday morning.

Sandusky, Ohio - Jim Spencer
The annual December parade of the lakes freighters calling at Sandusky is underway, as loading crews at the NorfolkSouthern dock struggle to keep up with the late season jump in business. Lee A. Tregurtha was loading for Monroe, Mich., Thursday afternoon, with the Hon. Paul Martin tucked in behind her waiting for its turn under the chutes. When loaded sometime Friday, the Martin will leave for Hamilton,Ont. Adam E. Cornelius and Algowood are due Friday and will be followed, if the schedule holds, by Herbert C. Jackson. Cornelius is destined for Burns Harbor, while the Jackson will deliver the first of two loads from Sandusky to Ecorse, Mich.

Oswego Harbor - Ned Goebricher
On Thursday, English River was unloading cement.


USCG Mackinaw in dry dock for repairs

12/9 - Superior, Wis. - At last, the work can begin. The U.S. Coast Guard cutter Mackinaw eased into the dry-docking area of Fraser Shipyards in Superior, Wis., Wednesday after a trip up the St. Mary’s River, through the Soo Locks and across Lake Superior.

The long-awaited journey began Monday morning after the yard was awarded a contract to repair a bow thruster that leaked oil when the ship was underway. The wait for repairs has cost the Mackinaw its fall buoy-retrieval schedule as well as community events that included the annual Christmas Tree Ship voyage to Chicago and the Halloween Ghost Ship presentation.

Cheboygan Daily Tribune


Ohio approves $6.075 million for National Great Lakes Maritime Museum

12/9 - Columbus, Ohio – The Ohio Cultural Facilities Commission has approved $6,075,000 at its quarterly meeting for the National Great Lakes Maritime Museum.

The funds will allow the city of Toledo and the Great Lakes Historical Society, currently located in Vermillion, to develop the National Great Lakes Maritime Museum. The city of Toledo plans to use the approved funds to create a maritime park with outdoor exhibits, a berth for the Col. James M. Schoonmaker historic lake freighter and interior renovation of the existing Skyway Marina building to house exhibits for the National Great Lakes Maritime Museum.


Christmas Tree Ship program Saturday at Michigan Maritime Museum

12/9 - South Haven, Mich. — Rochelle Pennington, author of “The Christmas Tree Ship” will present the story of this well-known Great Lakes shipwreck at 2 p.m. Saturday as part of the Michigan Maritime Museum’s winter lecture series.

The ship, loaded with Christmas trees and heading for Chicago, went down in the 1912. “It’s a story which exemplifies the best of humanity,” said Pennington. “At its heart we find courage, love, generosity, heroism and the importance of family.” Signed copies of the book will be available at the museum store along with other maritime and seasonal merchandise.

There is no charge for the presentation, and cookies and eggnog will be served. Donations are welcome. For more information visit

The Holland Sentinel


Today in Great Lakes History -  December 9

While tied up at Port Colborne, Ontario, waiting to discharge her cargo of grain, a northeast gale caused the water to lower three feet and left the EDWIN H. OHL (steel propeller bulk freighter, 420 foot, 5141 gross tons, built in 1907, at Wyandotte, Michigan) on the bottom with a list of about one foot. The bottom plating was damaged and cost $3,460.19 to repair.

Cleveland Tankers JUPITER (Hull#227) was christened December 9, 1975, at Jennings, Louisiana, by S.B.A. Shipyards, Inc.

The JEAN PARISIEN left Quebec City on her maiden voyage December 9, 1977.

CLIFFS VICTORY ran aground December 9, 1976, near Johnson’s Point in the ice -laden Munuscong Channel of the St. Marys River.

The FRANK C. BALL, b.) J.R. SENSIBAR in 1930, c.) CONALLISON in 1981) was launched at Ecorse, Michigan by Great Lakes Engineering Works as (Hull #14) on December 9, 1905.

The ARTHUR B. HOMER was towed by the tugs THUNDER CAPE, ELMORE M. MISNER and ATOMIC to Port Colborne, Ontario, December 9, 1986, and was scrapped there the following year.

HILDA MARJANNE was launched December 9, 1943, as a.) GRANDE RONDE (Hull#43) at Portland, Oregon, by Kaiser Co., Inc.

The keel for Hall Corporation of Canada’s SHIERCLIFFE HALL (Hull#248) was laid on December 9, 1949, at Montreal, Quebec by Canadian Vickers Ltd.

On 9 December 1871, CHALLENGE (wooden schooner, 96 foot, 99 tons, built in 1853, at Rochester, New York) missed the piers at Sheboygan, Wisconsin, in heavy weather, stove in some of her planking and sank. She was a particularly sleek craft, actually designed as a yacht and once owned by the U.S. Light House Service as a supply vessel.

On 9 December 1874, the Port Huron Times reported that "the old railroad ferry steamer UNION at Detroit is having machinery taken out and preparing to go into permanent retirement, or perhaps to serve as a floating dining room for railroad passengers."

Data from: Joe Barr, Dave Swayze, Father Dowling Collection, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series. Marine Historical Society of Detroit.


Port Reports -  December 8

Green Bay, Wis. – Scott Best
Wednesday was a busy day for the Port of Green Bay. The first to arrive around 2 a.m. was the Arthur M. Anderson, however her arrival was delayed about an hour by an electrical problem with the Main Street Bridge in downtown Green Bay. The tug G.L. Ostrander-barge Integrity were right behind the Anderson and also slightly delayed by the bridge. Anderson proceeded to C Reiss to unload coal and the Integrity headed to Lafarge. Arriving later in the morning was the Mississagi with a split load of salt. The majority of the day was spent unloading into the hopper at Fox River Dock and, just as darkness set in, they headed all the way up the Fox River to finish unloading a small amount of salt at the Georgia Pacific Dock. Expected early Thursday morning is the Algoway with another load of salt.

Toledo, Ohio – Jim Hoffman
VSL Centurion was outbound the Maumee River Wednesday after loading grain. She was under tow of the tugs Nebraska on the bow and tug Mississippi on the stern.

Fairport, Ohio – John Unterwagner
Capt Henry Jackman was loading salt at the Morton Salt mine at Fairport Wednesday evening. The tug Petite Forte and barge St Marys Cement were across the river at the Osborn stone dock at the same time.

Erie, Pa. – Jeffrey Benson
The Erie Port Authority reports that the Port of Erie is expecting winter work through Donjon Marine. Director Scheckengost reported that there will at least six drydockings and vessels moored at Dobin's Landing and at "every available dock face in Erie.” He also reported that the vessels will be moved around during the winter, disrupting ice fishing on Presque Isle Bay.

Buffalo, N.Y. – Brian W.
Tug Nickelena arrived on Wednesday, tying up at Burnette Trucking (the old Penn-Dixie dock) on the Buffalo River around 3 a.m. She had been holding outside the harbor so that the American Mariner could depart the General Mills Frontier Elevator at about 2 a.m.

Hamilton / Bronte – Eric Holmes
Wednesday the tug Florence M departed at 6:30 a.m. The tug M.R. Kane and work barge departed Bronte for a spot two miles off the Burlington Piers at 6:30 a.m., and departed for Toronto after concluding their work. Rt. Hon. Paul J Martin departed at 8:30 a.m. from US Steel. Algosea departed the Petro Canada Piers in Bronte at 9:30 a.m. Federal Yukon arrived at 2 p.m. from Toronto with chrome ore. John D. Leitch arrived at 2:30 pm. with coal from Toledo for Dofasco. Vega Desgagnes departed the Burlington Bay anchorage at 3 p.m. and headed down the lake. Algocape departed at 5 p.m. from Dofasco after discharging iron ore pellets. Federal Yoshino departed Pier 25 at 5:15 p.m. Tug John Spence and barge arrived at 5:30 p.m. Algowood arrived at 5:45 p.m. with iron ore pellets for Dofasco.


Updates -  December 8

News Photo Gallery


Today in Great Lakes History -  December 8

On 08 December 1917, DESMOND (wooden propeller sand-sucker, 149 foot, 456 gross tons, built in 1892, at Port Huron, Michigan) sprang a leak off Michigan City, Indiana during gale and then capsized within sight of the lighthouse at South Chicago, Illinois. Seven lives were lost. Six others were rescued by the tugs WILLIAM A. FIELD, GARY and NORTH HARBOR.

The CANADIAN ENTERPRISE (Hull#65) was christened December 8, 1979, at St. Catharines, Ontario, by Port Weller Drydocks. Ltd.

JAMES DAVIDSON was laid up for the last time on December 8, 1969, at Toledo, Ohio.

The MERLE M. McCURDY collided with U.S. Steel’s PHILIP R. CLARKE opposite Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan on Lake St. Clair, December 8, 1974.

On 8 December 1886, BELLE (2-mast wooden schooner, 61 foot, 40 gross tons, built in 1866, at Port Dalhousie, Ontario) burned while frozen in at anchor.

On 8 December 1854, WESTMORELAND (wooden propeller passenger/package freight vessel, 200 foot, 665 tons, built in 1853, at Cleveland, Ohio) was carrying supplies for Mackinac Island, including liquor and supposedly $100,000 in gold. She capsized in a storm due to the heavy seas and the weight of the thick ice on her superstructure. She sank in the Manitou Passage in Lake Michigan and dragged one of the loaded lifeboats down with her. 17 lives were lost. There were many attempts to find her and recover her valuable cargo, but her wreck wasn't found until 1874, twenty years after she sank.

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


Long-idle ferry Arthur K. Atkinson sold to metal recycling firm

12/7 - Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. - Reid Metals of Dafter, Mich., near Sault Ste. Marie, is the successful bidder on the long-inactive Lake Michigan ferry Arthur K. Atkinson. The vessel was sold Tuesday morning by court order on the steps of the Chippewa County Courthouse in Sault Ste. Marie. The winning bid was $100,000.

The new owner has 45 days to tow the vessel from the old Interlake dock at DeTour, Mich., to the MCM Marine dock in Sault Ste. Marie, where it is expected to be cut up for scrap, with work beginning immediately.

The Atkinson was launched in 1917 as the Ann Arbor No.6, and last operated in 1982. She received her current name after a 1959 repowering. Her most recent owner was Scotlund Stivers, who at one time proposed using the vessel as a floating tire recycling facility. After sitting idle at Ludington for may years, the Atkinson was towed to DeTour around 2002.

Cathy Kohring


Rand Logistics Inc. completes purchase of tug and barge; stock upgraded

12/7 - New York – Rand Logistics announced Tuesday on its web site that it has completed the previously announced acquisition of a Jones Act compliant, self-unloading articulated tug/barge unit. The notice did not name the vessels involved.

“We are particularly excited about the prospects for the newly acquired tug/barge unit, as we believe that it is the only Jones Act compliant self-unloading bulk carrier not currently operating on the Great Lakes of a size and configuration suitable for operation in our market,” said Scott Bravener, President of Lower Lakes. “This acquisition marks the first time in many years that new capacity has been added to the river class segment of the U.S. Great Lakes market. This investment reaffirms our commitment to meeting our customers’ shipping requirements while also creating value for our shareholders.

“As an indication of the healthy customer demand that we are experiencing, this vessel is already fully booked under long term contracts for the 2012 sailing season and beyond,” Bravener added. “From an investment perspective, we believe that the cost of the vessel, after anticipated modifications, reflects an approximate 60 percent discount to the new build cost of a similarly sized vessel.”

The company also announced that consistent with October, business conditions and operating performance remained strong in November. The company continues to experience strong customer demand and based on current market conditions, certain of the Company’s vessels will be sailing into January.

Meanwhile, Rand Logistics has been upgraded by TheStreet Ratings from sell to hold. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its solid stock price performance, revenue growth and good cash flow from operations. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including generally poor debt management, disappointing return on equity and poor profit margins.

TheStreet, and Rand Logistics


Great Lakes iron ore trade up 8 percent in November

12/7 - Cleveland, Ohio - Iron ore shipments on the Great Lakes totaled 5.8 million tons in November, an increase of 2 percent over October, and an increase of 8 percent compared to a year ago. November loadings were also up about 8 percent compared to the month’s 5-year average.

Shipments from U.S. ports totaled 5.2 million tons, an increase of 9 percent compared to a year ago. Loadings at Canadian ports were virtually unchanged from a year ago.

Through November the iron ore trade stands at 54.6 million tons, an increase of 10.5 percent compared to both a year ago and the 5-year average for the January-November timeframe.

Shipments from U.S. ports are up 12 percent compared to a year ago and 14.6 percent | ahead of their 5-year average. Loadings at Canadian ports are essentially in lockstep with a year ago, but some 16 percent below the 5-year average for the January-November timeframe.

Lake Carriers’ Association


Port Reports -  December 7

Alpena, Mich. - Ben & Chanda McClain
Over the weekend the tug Samuel de Champlain and barge Innovation were back in service and arrived at Lafarge to load cement. The Calumet brought a load of coal to Lafarge on Monday. The tug G.L Ostrander and barge Integrity were in port taking on cement early Tuesday morning.

Cheboygan, Mich. - Dianne Donati
USCGC Hollyhock moored in the Cheboygan River at the USCGC Mackinaw's home mooring on Tuesday.

Port Colborne, Ont.
Algoma Central's self-unloader James Norris arrived at Port Colborne, Ont., at 10:48 a.m. Tuesday, and tied up at Wharf 17, near the International Marine Salvage scrap yard. Although there's been no official announcement, speculation is the 1952-built, steam-powered vessel has sailed her last. The vessel worked for most of her career for Upper Lakes Shipping, but became a part of the Algoma fleet in a corporate merger earlier this year. The IMS yard has been a busy place this fall, with the arrival of the retired self-unloader Maumee on December 3, and work continuing on the Canadian Leader scrapping.

Oswego Harbor - Ned Goebricher
Tuesday the tug Evans McKeil and barge Alouette Spirit arrive at the Port of Oswego to load soybeans.


Empire mine to cut production next year

12/7 - Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. announced Monday that it anticipates full-year 2012 production volume at the company's Empire mine in Michigan to be approximately 2.7 million tons, down from 2011's full year expected production volume of approximately 4.6 million tons. The decrease is the result of planned blast furnace maintenance in 2012 at one of Cliffs' North American customer's facilities. This curtailment is not expected to impact the Company's previously announced sales and production volumes in its U.S. Iron Ore business segment.

Cliffs indicated the planned production curtailment may affect approximately 600 of the Company's Michigan operations employees, beginning in the second quarter of 2012. Terrence Mee, Cliffs' senior vice president, global iron ore and metallic sales, said: "While the announcement of this production curtailment at Empire Mine will impact our Michigan Operations, we believe the curtailment will be temporary. We will continue to prudently manage our global production base as we work with customers to supply their blast furnace raw material requirements."

Cliffs indicated that 2012 production volumes within the Company's other four U.S. Iron Ore mines will not be impacted by the customer's planned blast furnace maintenance outage in 2012. However, production volumes are subject to change throughout the year based on customer demand. In addition, Cliffs is maintaining its full-year 2012 expected sales and production volumes of 23 million tons for its U.S. Iron Ore business segment.

Columbus Business First


'Fracking' means new business for Duluth port

12/7 - Duluth, Minn. – A new cargo arrived in the Twin Ports for the first time over the weekend. The Moezelborg arrived Sunday morning loaded with bags of ceramic proppant, also called ceramic sand, for use in a controversial process to increase production of oil and gas wells.

On Monday morning, two gantry cranes at the port terminal were busy unloading the bags of sand, 10 large bags at a time. Front-end loaders equipped with forks moved the bags to a long stockpile, from which they will be loaded into railcars for the trip to western oilfields.

The proppant, manufactured by the Russian firm FORES, was loaded aboard the Moezelborg in the Baltic Sea port of Ust Luga, Russia. A nondisclosure agreement prevented Duluth Seaway Port Authority public relations manger Adele Yorde from disclosing how much proppant was in the shipment or where specifically it was bound.

“It is the first load (to Duluth) of this particular type of cargo,” she said. “We are certainly hopeful that we would see more shipments of it in 2012, although there are no contracts in place at this time. It would be a nice cargo to move through here.”

Proppants are used in a process called hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking” for short. In the process, a mixture of water, proppants and chemicals are injected under high pressure into rocks to create new channels in the rock to help extract oil, natural gas or other substances.

Fracking is controversial because of concerns over its effects on the environment, including contamination of ground water, air pollution and potential movement of gases and hydraulic fracturing chemicals from deep underground to the surface. Some research has linked fracking with earth tremors in Great Britain.

Duluth News Tribune


Great Lakes water levels

12/7 - The water level of Lake Michigan dropped 2″ in the last month, but it’s 4″ above the level of one year ago. The lake is now 11″ below the century average. Lake Superior also dropped 2″ in the last month and is down 1″ year-to-year. Lake St. Clair is up 9″ in the last month and is 22″ higher than one year ago. Lake Erie showed no change in the last month and is 15″ above the level one year ago. Lake Erie is 11″ above the century average level. Lake Ontario is down 3″ in the last month, but up 2″ year to year and 2″ above the century average.



Updates -  December 7

News Photo Gallery


Today in Great Lakes History -  December 7

On 07 December 1893, the hull of the burned steamer MASCOTTE (steel ferry, 103 foot, 137 gross tons, built in 1885, at Wyandotte, Michigan) was towed from New Baltimore to Detroit by the tug LORMAN for repairs. She was rebuilt and put back in service. She went through nine owners in a career that finally ended with another fire in Chicago in 1934.

On December 7, 1969, the TEXACO CHIEF collided with the Canadian bulker PETITE HERMINE near Prescott, Ontario and suffered light damage. The a.) TEXACO CHIEF was renamed b.) A.G. FARQUHARSON in 1987, and c.) ALGONOVA (i) in 1998.

In 1990, the ENERCHEM LAKER was sold to Environment Protection Services, Inc., Panama and departed Montreal on December 7, 1990, for off Lakes service with the new name d) RECOVERY VIII. Built for Hall Corp. of Canada as a.) ROCKCLIFFE HALL, converted to a tanker renamed b.) ISLAND TRANSPORT in 1985, and c.) ENERCHEM LAKER in 1986. Renamed e.) MORGAN TRADER in 1993, and currently serves as a bunkering tanker in Suez, Egypt as f.) ANNA II, renamed in 1997.

The LEADALE, a.) JOHN A. KLING sank in the Welland Canal on December 7, 1982, and was declared a constructive total loss.

The GEORGE R. FINK, under tow, arrived at Gandia, Spain prior to December 7, 1973, for scrapping.

W. W. HOLLOWAY was laid up December 7, 1981, for the last time in Toledo’s Frog Pond.

On December 7, 1932, the MARQUIS ROEN caught fire at Meacher's dock at Bay City, and before the fire was brought under control, the cabins and after end were destroyed.

Captain John Roen of the Roen Steamship Co. died on December 7, 1970.

On December 7, 1906, the R. L. IRELAND stranded on Gull Island in the Apostle Islands, Lake Superior.

PERCIVAL ROBERTS JR. (Hull#398) was launched December 7, 1912, for the Pittsburgh Steamship Co at Lorain, Ohio by the American Ship Building Co.

The steel side-wheel passenger steamer EASTERN STATES (Hull#144) was launched on December 7, 1901, by the Detroit Shipbuilding Company for the Detroit and Buffalo Steamship Company.

The railcar ferry ANN ARBOR NO 2 (Hull#56), was launched on December 7, 1892 at Toledo, Ohio by Craig Ship Building Co. Sold in 1914 and cut down to a barge, renamed b.) WHALE in 1916, abandoned in 1927.

In 1906, the ANN ARBOR NO 4 arrived Frankfort on her maiden voyage.

December 7, 1909 - MARQUETTE & BESSEMER NO 2 foundered in Lake Erie with a loss of all hands.

On 7 December 1894, KEWEENAW (steel steamer, 291 foot, 2511 gross tons, built in 1891, at W. Bay City, Michigan) was seen groping toward the coast of the State of Washington in a severe gale. With distress signals flying, she put back to sea and foundered. She was built by F. W. Wheeler (Hull #73) for salt water service. Built in two pieces, she was towed down the St. Lawrence and reassembled at Montreal.

On 7 December 1866, M. BALLARD (2-mast wooden schooner, 116 foot, 288 tons, built in 1855, at Cleveland, Ohio) was lost with all hands in a storm on Lake Ontario.

The wooden propeller bulk freighter MORLEY was launched at Marine City on 7 December 1878. She was on the stocks for two years and was built for the Morley Brothers and Hill. She was a double decker with side arches between decks with iron straps. She also had iron trusses running through the center. Her boiler was on the main deck and she had the engine from the tug WM PRINGLE. She had three spars, a centerboard, and could carry 45,000 bushels of grain.

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


Lakes limestone trade up 1.2 percent in November

12/6 - Cleveland, Ohio – Shipments of limestone on the Great Lakes totaled 3,257,853 net tons in November, a decrease of 13.2 percent from October, but an increase of 1.2 percent compared to a year ago. November loadings were also 5.6 percent below the month’s 5-year average.

Shipments from U.S. quarries increased 10.9 percent compared to a year ago, but were 6.3 percent of the month’s 5-year average. Loadings at Canadian quarries rose by 16.9 percent compared to a year ago, and nearly pulled even with the month’s 5-year average.

Through November the limestone trade stands at 26.7 million tons, a slight decrease 156,000 tons compared to the same point in 2010, but a drop of 10.5 percent compared to the 5-year average for the for the January-November timeframe.

Lake Carriers’ Association


Port Reports -  December 6

Twin Ports – Al Miller
Monday morning vessel traffic in the Twin Ports included the saltie Resko, arriving in port at dawn with aid from two GLT tugs. Passing the Resko off the port terminal was the American Integrity, outbound with coal from Midwest Energy Terminal. Edwin H. Gott was loading pellets at the CN ore dock and Moezelborg was unloaded bagged drilling sand at the Duluth Port Terminal.

Saginaw River - Todd Shorkey
The Olive L. Moore and barge Lewis J. Kuber were inbound the Saginaw River late Monday evening, headed for the Burroughs dock in Zilwaukee to unload. The pair were expected to be outbound during the day Tuesday.

Toledo, Ohio – Jim Hoffman
VSL Centurion was upbound Maumee River Monday under tow of the tugs Mississippi on the bow and tug Nebraska on the stern bound for Anderson’s K Elevator to load grain.


Taconite production up on the Iron Range

12/6 - Duluth, Minn. – The price of iron ore has been bouncing around on the global market in recent months, topping out at a record-high near $200 per ton earlier this year before falling to about $135 in November. But the roller-coaster ride doesn’t seem to be hurting Minnesota’s taconite industry.

Minnesota’s six operating taconite plants are on pace to produce 11 percent more of the concentrated iron ore than in 2010 — about 38.9 million tons compared to last year’s 35.05 million tons, said Bob Wagstrom, Minnesota Department of Revenue taconite expert.

Though little Minnesota ore moves overseas, high global prices for iron ore and the ongoing building boom in China and India have helped produce a banner year at home.

And while Asian growth slowed some this year as China boosted interest rates to cool its economy, the slowdown hasn’t hit Minnesota’s Iron Range.

“It’s been steady production all year, from what we can see. Very few variations,” Wagstrom said.

Wagstrom predicts another taconite production increase in 2012 to about 40 million tons — the highest level since 2000, when the state had seven operating plants.

That would be another nearly 3 percent increase over this year, as U.S. producers move to ramp up production to keep pace with increased world demand. Nearly every iron ore producing nation — and the U.S. is eighth on that list — is pushing out more ore to be made into steel for buildings, bridges and bulldozers.

“They always seem to be able to squeeze a little more out, but some of them (Minnesota plants) are nearing capacity,” Wagstrom said. “I assume they are selling the stuff. And it’s meant pretty stable employment up here.”

Craig Pagel, executive director of the Iron Mining Association of Minnesota, agreed.

“Production and employment remain high, and I don’t see anything changing that on the horizon,” Pagel said. “One of our biggest issues right now is trying to find enough (employees) with the right skill sets to fill the jobs.”

There are about 3,900 people directly working in the Minnesota iron ore industry, up from 3,600 two years ago, Pagel said.

Part of that Minnesota production increase will be more taconite coming from the six traditional taconite plants as they squeeze out more productivity to take advantage of high prices. But the 2012 increase will also include more concentrate from upstart Magnetation — which produces a nontraditional concentrate made from waste rock at old mines — and from Mesabi Nugget, which turns concentrate into iron nuggets. (Next year also will be the first year Mesabi Nugget pays state production tax after a two-year exemption during its startup, Wagstrom noted.)

Meanwhile, plans are in the works for two entirely new plants on the Iron Range — the Essar Steel plant under construction near Nashwauk and another Magnetation plant, also in Itasca County.

“The global price, which is really driven by China, does have some effect on those of us that sell on the spot market. But it’s not much of an issue for Minnesota,” said Matt Lehtinen, vice president of Magnetation.

Most of Minnesota’s production goes to dedicated U.S. steel mills owned by the same companies that own the taconite mine, and price fluctuations have little impact on those companies — including U.S. Steel’s Minntac and Keetac operations and steel giant ArcelorMittal’s Minorca mine near Virginia and Hibbing Taconite.

Magnetation and Cliffs Natural Resources, however, which operates North Shore Mining, United Taconite (and a share of Hibbing Taconite) do sell ore to mill operators on the open market.

“But even then, much as we’ve done with our customer in Mexico, there are long-term contracts locked in that don’t bounce around like the spot market does,” Lehtinen said.

While the price is down from earlier this year, iron ore still is priced more than double 2008 levels and 10 times what it sold for a decade ago. The historically high global prices for spot iron ore helped push Cliffs to record profits in 2011. Cliffs’ third-quarter operating income hit $820 million, a 110 percent increase from the same quarter a year ago.

The larger picture seems to show the Asian market slowly cooling, but overall demand for iron ore remaining high, with the global price stabilizing.

In late November JPMorgan Chase’s industry analysts said they expected iron ore prices to fall 10 to 15 percent over the next five years as demand for steel slowly declines. But considering how high prices have been for the past year, that still puts iron ore prices well above historic averages.

“We believe that high-cost Chinese production will keep its place in the market and support prices at above normal levels for some time,” JPMorgan Chase forecast in a research report. “However, we have lowered our demand projections in line with our global economists’ estimates of world growth, and this results in lower price forecasts.”

The analysts predict an average price of $167 per ton this year, $147.50 per ton for 2012 and $150 for 2013. Lehtinen said the cost to produce traditional taconite is $60-$80 per ton in Minnesota, with transportation to China about the same cost.

“So the price is still in that neighborhood of being profitable” to sell overseas, he said. “But there’s also continued high domestic demand, so that market isn’t that critical.”

Lehtinen said his company’s business plan never counted on iron ore staying at $180 per ton, but that $120 per ton would mean most Minnesota operations would remain quite profitable.

World market developments “make us confident that the iron ore prices are here to stay relatively high for a few years,” JPMorgan said.

Duluth News Tribune


Consumers Energy coal plant in Bay County is dead

12/6 - Hampton Twp., Mich. – Consumers Energy will not build a new $2.3 billion coal-fired power plant on the shores of Saginaw Bay in Hampton Township, Township Supervisor Terry Spegel said Friday. A Consumers spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment but Spegel said he was told of the news by the company.

"I'm disappointed but our economy isn't coming back right now," Spegel said. "I think it's good business on Consumers' part but I'm very disappointed."

Consumers officials announced in May 2010 that it would defer - not cancel - plans for the 830-megawatt plant that was expected to create 1,800 construction jobs and more than 100 permanent jobs when the facility went online in 2017.

"They have been and will always be a good neighbor," Spegel said. "We are thankful to have them out here."

The Saginaw News


Updates -  December 6

Weekly Website Updates
News Photo Gallery


Today in Great Lakes History -  December 6

On 06 December 1886, C. Mc Elroy purchased the steamer CHARLIE LIKEN for use as a ferry at St. Clair, Michigan to replace the burned CLARA.

In 1988, Canada Steamship Lines HON PAUL MARTIN was renamed b.) ATLANTIC ERIE.

American Steamship Co.’s H LEE WHITE (Hull#711) was launched December 6, 1973, at Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin by Bay Shipbuilding Co.

The CONSUMERS POWER was laid up for the last time at Erie, Pennsylvania on December 6, 1985.

On December 6, 1988, an arsonist set fire to the after end of the FORT CHAMBLY while she was laid up at Ojibway Slip in Windsor, Ontario.

The GOLDEN HIND was launched at Collingwood, Ontario on December 6, 1951, as the tanker a.) IMPERIAL WOODBEND (Hull#147).

N.M. Paterson & Sons LAWRENDOC (Hull#174) was launched December 6, 1961, at the Collingwood Shipyards.

On December 6, 1909, while up bound at "Mud" Lake on the St. Marys River in a blinding snow storm, the HARRY A BERWIND collided with the loaded HENRY STEINBRENNER of 1901, which received a 70 foot wide hole on her starboard side and sank up to her cabins.

On 6 December 1874, the Port Huron Times reported that the Port Huron Dry Dock Co. had been declared bankrupt and Mr. John Johnston had been appointed assignee of the company by the U.S. District Court.

The OCONTO grounded near Charity Island in Saginaw Bay on 6 December 1885. The passengers and crew were saved. She was built at Manitowoc in 1872, by Rand & Co. and owned by Capt. Gregory W. McGregor and Rensselaer VanSycle. She was later recovered but only lasted until July 1886, when she went down in the St. Lawrence River with a valuable cargo of merchandise. Although several attempts were made to recover her, she remains on the bottom and is a frequent charter dive target to this day.

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


Port Reports -  December 5

Marquette, Mich. - Rod Burdick
John J. Boland unloaded western coal at the Lower Harbor Shiras Dock late Saturday evening and moved to the Upper Harbor Sunday morning for ore.

Green Bay, Wis. - Matt Ludvigson
Manitowoc departed Green Bay on a gloomy Sunday afternoon after delivering coal to Georgia-Pacific. The tug Texas shadowed the Manitowoc until the turning basin.

Buffalo, N.Y. – Brian W.
Canadian Olympic arriver Saturday morning at 6:42 a.m. She backed into the Lackawanna Ship Canal and moored at the Gateway Metroport Main Dock along the South East end of the apron to load rock salt. Sunday the Olympic was on her way out at 8 a.m.

Oshawa, Ont. - Andre Blanchard
The saltie Lake Ontario departed Oshawa Sunday. Another saltie, Heloise, arrived after the departure of Lake Ontario. Both ships were assisted by the tugs Omni-Richelieu and Jerry G.


Search crews find plane wreckage with no survivors near St. Ignace

12/5 - Cleveland, Ohio – Search and rescue crews returned to base Sunday afternoon after the wreckage of a single-engine plane was found on shore with both men aboard deceased. The plane was bound from St. Ignace to Mackinaw Island, Mich.

The discovery ends a search that began Saturday evening and involved Coast Guard search assets from the local area, state police and local first responders, as well as a search plane from Cape Cod, Mass.

Shortly before noon, a Coast Guard aircrew involved in the search effort received a signal from a 121.5 MHz emergency locator transmitter. When they investigated the transmitted signal, they found the plane wreckage about 100 yards from the shore and about three miles north of St. Ignace.

The aircrew passed the location to Michigan State Police and vectored land-based search crews to the wreckage. Crews confirmed it was the missing plane and that both men aboard were dead.

The cause of the accident is not known. The deceased were reported to be Joe Pann and Tom Phillips. The men were reportedly from St. Ignace or Mackinaw Island, but more information will be released when it is confirmed.

Search and rescue controllers at Coast Guard Sector Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., were contacted by a Michigan State Police 911 dispatcher at 10:07 p.m. Saturday, after the dispatcher was called by a concerned family member reporting the men overdue.

The reporting source stated that the men departed St. Ignace en route to Mackinaw Island that evening in a Piper Saratoga and were expected to arrive at about 8 p.m. The flight is only about 4.5 miles and should have taken only about six minutes.


Updates -  December 5

Weekly Website Updates
News Photo Gallery


Today in Great Lakes History -  December 5

In 1927, the ALTADOC crashed on the rocks of the Keweenaw Peninsula when her steering gear parted during a Lake Superior storm. The machinery and pilot house of the wreck were recovered in 1928. The pilot house was eventually refurbished in 1942 and opened as the Worlds Smallest Hotel in Copper Harbor, Michigan. The owners resided in the captains’ quarters, a gift shop was set up in the chart room, a guest lounge was set up in the wheelhouse, and there were two rooms for guests.

On 05 December 1897, the GEORGE W. MORLEY (wooden propeller bulk freighter, 193 foot, 1045 gross tons, built in 1888, at W. Bay City, Michigan) was sailing light from Milwaukee to Chicago when a fire started near her propeller shaft. It blazed up too quickly for the engineer to put it out and before he could get the fire pump started, the flames drove on deck. The firemen were kept at their posts as the vessel was steered to shore. She sank 100 yards off Greenwood Avenue, Evanston, Illinois. Luckily no lives were lost. The vessel’s engine was recovered in October 1898.

Tanker SATURN (Hull#218) was launched in 1973, for Cleveland Tankers at Jennings, Louisiana, by S.B.A. Shipyards, Inc.

SIR JAMES DUNN (Hull#109) was launched in 1951, for Canada Steamship Lines at Port Arthur, Ontario, by Port Arthur Shipbuilding Co. Ltd.

The keel was laid for the E.G. GRACE on December 5, 1942. This was the last of the six ships built by AmShip in the L6-S-A1 class for the United States Maritime Commission and was traded to the Interlake Steamship Company in exchange for older tonnage. She would later become the first of the "Maritime Class" vessels to go for scrap in 1984.

On 5 December 1874, the steam barge MILAN was scheduled to be hauled ashore at Port Huron to replace her "Mississippi wheel" with a propeller.

The wooden 100 foot schooner BRILLIANT was close to Sheboygan, Wisconsin, on 5 December 1857, where she was scheduled to pick up a load of lumber when she went on a reef close to shore and sank. No lives were lost.

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


Port Reports -  December 4

Sturgeon Bay, Wis. - Jim Conlon
Roger Blough arrived at Bay Shipbuilding Friday morning and went into the graving dock for its five-year survey.

Grand Haven, Mich. - Dick Fox
Mississagi delivered her second load for this season to Meekhof's D & M Dock on Harbor Island in Grand Haven about 6 p.m. on Friday.

Saginaw River - Todd Shorkey
Michipicoten was inbound Friday evening on her first trip to the Saginaw River of 2011. She called on the Bay Aggregates dock in Bay City to unload, and once finished, departed for the lake early Saturday morning. The tug Olive L. Moore, with her barge, Lewis J. Kuber, was inbound Saturday morning carrying a split load. The pair unloaded a partial cargo at the Bay City Wirt Stone dock, the continued upriver to finish unloading at the Saginaw Wirt Stone Dock. They were expected to be outbound early Sunday morning.

Cleveland, Ohio - Paul Magyar
Saturday the Manistee was on her way up the Cuyahoga with a load of salt from Fairport Harbor. She unloaded at the Osborne Dock near Jefferson Street.

Toronto, Ont. - Andre Blanchard
The saltie Federal Yukon arrived at the RedPath Sugar slip Saturday. She was assisted by tugs Omni-Richelieu and La Prairie.


Coast Guard airlifts injured woman off Beaver Island

12/4 - Cleveland, Ohio – A Coast Guard rescue helicopter crew airlifted an 82-year-old Beaver Island, Mich., resident who suffered an injury after reportedly falling down some stairs Friday evening.

Search and rescue controllers at Coast Guard Sector Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., were contacted at 8:41 p.m. by medical personnel on Beaver Island. They reported that the 82-year-old woman had fallen down some stairs and broken her femur.

An aircrew aboard an HH-65C Dolpin rescue helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City, Mich., was directed to launch and was on scene at 9:59 p.m. They transported the woman to Harbor Springs, Mich., and transferred her to EMS at 10:35 p.m. for further transport to a hospital in Petoskey, Mich.

The Coast Guard maintains great working relationships with medical personnel at emergency facilities in remote Great Lakes locations, including northern Lake Michigan's Beaver Island.


“The Night the Fitz Went Down” DVD now available

12/4 - The Harsens Island St. Clair Flats Historical Society has announced the availability of the DVD that documents Captain Donald Erickson, Master of the SS William Clay Ford and Malcom (Mac) McAdam of the Dossin Museum in their discussions surrounding “The Night the Fitz Went Down,” which was presented at the Harsens Island Lions Hall on October 8 to a crowd of nearly 200.

Captain Erickson, now 85, told of the events leading up to the sinking of the Fitzgerald on November 10, 1975 and his decision to leave the safety of Whitefish Bay where he was anchored, to voluntarily brave 80 mph headwinds and 30 foot seas to look for survivors of the SS Edmund Fitzgerald. He and Mac McAdam describe in detail the events, conditions and difficult decision to risk the safety of his ship and crew.

If you are interested in obtaining this DVD, please contact Nancy at: 810-748-1825


Today in Great Lakes History -  December 4

In 1947, the EMORY L. FORD, Captain William J. Lane, departed the Great Northern Elevator in Superior, Wisconsin, with the most valuable cargo of grain shipped on the Great Lakes. The shipment, valued at more than $3,000,000 consisted of 337,049 bushes of flax valued at $7 a bushel and 140,000 bushels of wheat.

On 04 December 1891, the side-wheel wooden passenger steamer JEANIE, owned by John Craig & Sons, caught fire at the Craig & Sons shipyard in Toledo, Ohio, and burned to the water's edge. She was valued at $25,000 and insured for $10,000.

Algoma Central Marine's ALGOSOO was the last ship built on the Lakes with the traditional fore and aft cabins; her maiden voyage took place today in 1974.

The IMPERIAL QUEBEC entered service on December 4, 1957. Renamed b.) SIBYL W. in 1987, and c.) PANAMA TRADER in 1992. Scrapped in Mexico in 1997.

LIGHTSHIP 103 completed her sea trials December 4, 1920.

At 0210 hours on December 4, 1989, the U.S.C.G.C. MESQUITE ran aground in 12 feet of water at a point one-quarter nautical mile off Keweenaw Point. After a struggle to save the ship, the 53 persons aboard abandoned ship at 0830 hours and boarded the Indian salty MANGAL DESAI which was standing by.

On 4 December 1873, a gale struck Saginaw Bay while the CITY OF DETROIT of 1866, was carrying 8,000 bushels of wheat, package freight and 26 crew and passengers. She was also towing the barge GUIDING STAR. The barge was cut loose in the heavy seas at 3:30 a.m. and about 7:00 a.m. the CITY OF DETROIT sank. Captain Morris Barrett of the GUIDING STAR saw three of the CITY OF DETROIT's crew in one lifeboat and only one in another lifeboat. The CITY OF DETROIT went down stern first and the passengers and crew were seen grouped together on and about the pilothouse. Capt. Barrett and his crew of seven then abandoned GUIDING STAR. They arrived at Port Elgin, Ontario on 6 December in their yawl with their feet fully frozen. The barge was later found and towed in by the tug PRINDEVILLE.

On 4 December 1838, THAMES (wooden passenger/package-freight side-wheeler, 80 foot, 160 tons, built in 1833, at Chatham, Ontario) was burned at her dock in Windsor, Ontario by Canadian "patriots" during a raid on Windsor involving more than 500 armed men.

The EMERALD ISLE completed her maiden voyage from Beaver Island to Charlevoix on December 4, 1997. Her first cargo included a few cars and 400 passengers. EMERALD ISLE replaced BEAVER ISLANDER as the main ferry on the 32-mile run.

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


Port Reports -  December 3

Holland, Mich. - Bob VandeVusse
Manitowoc was at the Verplank dock in Holland Friday morning, arriving at about 7:30 a.m. She delivered a cargo of stone.

St. Clair River - Don Detloff
James Norris was upbound at Marine City Friday heading for Goderich.


Consumers Energy announces B.C. Cobb plant to shut down by early 2015

12/3 - Muskegon, Mich. — Consumers Energy announced Friday the beginning of the end of the venerable B.C. Cobb Generating Plant in Muskegon. The public utility on Friday said the two remaining coal-fired units at B.C. Cobb will cease operations by Jan. 1, 2015. Cobb's two units are among seven smaller coal-generating units statewide that will be closed.

The Cobb plant – which gets its coal by lake freighter – has been an imposing structure on the east end of Muskegon Lake since it was built in 1948 — known by its 650-foot smokestack. It has outlived its projected 50-year life span after Consumers pumped millions of dollars in upgrading and retrofitting the 320-megawatt plant the past two decades.

The future for the Cobb facilities that sit on the causeway between the north and south branches of the Muskegon River in Muskegon and North Muskegon is an unknown. The valuable 300-acre waterfront site has been home to a power plant the past 63 years. The closure of the Cobb plant likely will eliminate the jobs of the plant's 116 workers. The plant is the largest single taxpayer in Muskegon County.

The announcement of the plant's closing was accompanied by Consumers officials announcing the cancellation of a proposed $2 billion clean coal plant near Bay City.

Muskegon Chronicle


Part of tower attached to grain elevator falls into Buffalo River

12/3 - Buffalo, N.Y. – Buffalo firefighters and city officials were on the scene Friday of a mishap at a grain complex at Ohio and Ganson streets along the Buffalo River.

The tower portion of a grain elevator that was being demolished fell into the river while demolition work was being done at the complex owned by Ontario Specialty Contracting, which is also doing the work at the site.

No one was injured. An attorney for the demolition crew, Matthew J. Beck, said there was a known risk ahead of time that the tower could fall into the river. He sent a statement, which reads in part: "Today's event was part of a demolition project that has been ongoing for several months and was declared necessary for public safety by the City of Buffalo and sustained by a New York State Supreme Court Judge.

“Today's events were not a collapse. This was a controlled demolition process and the structure was purposefully taken down today as planned. There were no injuries and the operation was successful. A small segment of a dilapidated tower did enter the water abutting the property and will be removed promptly as part of demolition operations."

The U.S. Coast Guard has inspected the area where the tower fell into the river. They issued a hazard to navigation warning because of the debris in the water. The Coast Guard said the debris will be removed in the morning.



Maritime Research Institute to lead study of natural gas as fuel for Great Lakes steamships

12/3 - Duluth, Minn., and Superior, Wis – The Great Lakes Maritime Research Institute (GLMRI), a consortium of the University of Wisconsin-Superior (UW-S), and the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD) have received a five year cooperative agreement with the United States Department of Transportation, Maritime Administration (MARAD), to address environmental issues that face shipping and marine transportation.

GLMRI studies funded by MARAD will address maritime commerce on the Great Lakes. The results of the studies should benefit not only maritime commerce in the Great Lakes region, but other transportation modes along with ports and vessels operating on the inland rivers and coastal waters.

GLMRI’s research team is led by Dr. Richard Stewart, Director of the Transportation and Logistics Research Center at the University of Wisconsin, Superior and Co-Director of GLMRI, with project management support from the University of Minnesota Duluth. GLMRI is bringing in additional research expertise from their affiliate universities, industry and government agencies as the cooperative agreement progresses during the coming years.

MARAD, in partnership with industry, has directed that during the first year ,GLMRI research the feasibility of converting the existing steam propelled vessels to using natural gas, either compressed (CNG) or liquefied (LNG), as their primary fuel source.

One conceptual study will analyze the engineering, financial, environmental and energy issues associated with steamship conversion. The research team for this project is led by Dr. Michael Parsons, Professor Emeritus from the University of Michigan’s Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering Department.

Another directed study will explore the LNG supply chain needed to support the fuel demand for the fleet with the potential for this fuel to be used by other modes of transportation. GLMRI will be working with the gas suppliers and pipeline companies on this study.

For a decade, Norway has operated natural gas powered ferries and is building natural gas powered Coast Guard vessels. The European Union (EU) has embarked on an approximately $14 Million study on converting vessels operating in the Baltic and other Emission Control Areas to using natural gas as a primary fuel. GLMRI through the U.S. government will be engaged in cooperative exchange with the EU research team. GLMRI, working with MARAD, will explore potential collaboration with Canadian researchers in using natural gas as a maritime fuel. GLMRI and the Great Lakes and Rivers Section of the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers will co-host a multi-day education and information transfer session in Cleveland, Ohio in February 2012 that will bring in academics, industry and government agencies from the U.S., Europe and Canada.

GLMRI is working with the Lake Michigan Carferry Service and marine engineering experts in exploring the feasibility of converting the S.S. Badger to run it engines on natural gas. The team will be modeling the vessel’s fuel consumption, routes, shore fueling station(s) and engineering to look at the viability of using natural gas. The demonstration project will also consider training needs and shipyard implications of the power conversions. The S.S. Badger is the only coal-fired steamship in operation in the United States. The 410' ferry entered service in 1953, designed specifically to handle the rough conditions that it would likely encounter during year 'round sailing on Lake Michigan. The S.S. Badger sails daily between Manitowoc, Wisconsin and Ludington, Michigan from mid-May through mid-October. Converting the vessel to natural gas as a primary fuel could have the potential to make the S.S. Badger one of the greenest vessels operating on the Great Lakes.

The Great Lakes Maritime Research Institute was established in 2004 to pursue research efforts in marine transportation, logistics, economics, engineering, environmental planning, and port management. GLMRI is a joint program between UW-S and UMD, with 10 affiliate universities in the Great Lakes region. The Great Lakes Maritime Research Institute is designated as a National Maritime Enhancement Institute through the U.S. Department of Transportation. GLMRI’s mission is: Developing and improving economically and environmentally sustainable maritime commerce on the Great Lakes through applied research.

Great Lakes Maritime Research Institute


Updates -  December 3

News Photo Gallery


Today in Great Lakes History -  December 3

In 1918, the forward end of the former Pittsburgh steamer MANOLA sank during a gale on Lake Ontario. The after end received a new forward end and sailed for several years as the MAPLEDAWN.

On 03 December 1881, the DE PERE (wooden propeller, 736 tons, built in 1875, at Manitowoc, Wisconsin) was caught in a severe southwest gale and blizzard on Lake Michigan. She was driven ashore near Two Rivers, Wisconsin. All efforts to free her failed, so she was left to winter where she lay. In April 1882, she was pulled free by the Goodrich tug ARCTIC and towed to Manitowoc for repairs. Little damage was found and she was back in service quickly.

On 03 December 1891, the OGEMAW (wooden propeller freighter, 167 foot, 624 gross tons, built in 1881, at St. Clair, Michigan) sprang a leak on Big Bay de Noc and sank. Her decks and cabins were blown off as she sank in 11 fathoms of water, 1 1/2 miles northwest of Burnt Bluff. Her crew was rescued by her consorts MAXWELL and TILDEN. Although the vessel was removed from enrollment as a total loss, she was later raised, rebuilt, and re-documented in 1894. However, 03 December was a fateful date for this steamer because on that date in 1922, she burned 1-1/2 miles below Grand Point, near Harsens Island, on the St. Clair River Ð this time to a total and final loss.

Upper Lakes Shipping Ltd.'s CANADIAN AMBASSADOR (Hull#70) was launched December 3, 1982, at St. Catharines, Ontario, by Port Weller Drydocks Ltd.

ROBERT W STEWART, b.) AMOCO MICHIGAN in 1962) was launched in 1927, at Lorain, Ohio (Hull#802), by the American Ship Building Co.

In 1909, the LE GRAND S. DEGRAFF collided with the steamer HARVARD while down bound in the Detroit River in fog.

The IRVING S. OLDS was laid up for the final time on December 3, 1981, at the Hallett Dock #5, Duluth, Minnesota, due to market conditions and her inability to compete with the 60,000-ton carrying capacity of the self-unloading thousand foot bulk freighters.

On 3 December 1872, the officers and crew of the schooner E. KANTER arrived home in Detroit, Michigan. They reported that their vessel was driven ashore near Leland, Michigan in Lake Michigan on 26 November and was broken up by the waves.

On 3 December 1850, HENRY CLAY (2-mast wooden brig, 87 foot, 163 tons, built in 1842, at Huron, Ohio) was driven ashore at Point Nipigon in the Straits of Mackinac. She suffered little damage, but she was high and dry and unsalvageable. Her crew and passengers were picked up by the passing steamer TROY.

Back during the rough days of November on the lakes, the crews of the Imperial Oil tankers, would wet the tablecloths in the mess rooms to keep plates, glasses and silverware from sliding off the tables.

Data from: Joe Barr, Dave Swayze, Ron LaDue, Russ Plumb, Historical Collections of the Great Lakes, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series.


Maumee scrap tow leaves Cleveland

12/2 - With the tug Illinois on the bow and the tug Iowa on the stern, the retired laker Maumee began her trip to the scrapyard shortly after 4 p.m. on Thursday. The vessel, which sailed last in December 2010, is bound for the IMS scrapyard in Port Colborne, where she will be cut up. The Great Lakes veteran was built in 1929, and previously sailed as William G. Clyde and Calcite II.


Port Reports -  December 2

Twin Ports – Al Miller
Twin Ports vessel traffic Thursday included American Mariner loading at the General Mills elevator in Superior, Jette loading at the CHS elevator in Superior and Kwintebank loading at General Mills in Duluth.

Marquette, Mich. - Rod Burdick
American Courage loaded ore at the Upper Harbor on a snowy Thursday morning.

Sturgeon Bay, Wis. - Jim Conlon
Burns Harbor arrived at Bay Shipbuilding Wednesday at 11 a.m. and backed into the dock next to the graving dock. The tug Samuel de Champlain was still in the graving dock, it has been there for two weeks. The cement barge Innovation was removed last week. The carferry Lake Express is out of the floating drydock, and one of the Washington Island ferries is also out of the small graving dock.

Saginaw River – Todd Shorkey
Thursday saw the Olive L. Moore - Lewis J. Kuber called on the Bay Aggregates dock in Bay City. After unloading, the pair were outbound on the Saginaw Bay during the early evening. The USCG cutter Hollyhock was also in the area working aids to navigation. For the month of November, commercial vessel passages on the Saginaw River totaled 12, a decrease of five from the 17 recorded in 2010 and a decrease of eight over the five-year average of 20 vessels. For the year to date, there have been 127 passages. This is down 11 as compared to the same period last year and 47 over the five-year average of 174 for the year to date.

St. Clair, Mich.- Denny Dushane
As of December 1, the number of vessels that have unloaded coal at the St. Clair Power Plant for the season totaled 133 vessels. Leading the way again was the Paul R. Tregurtha with the most visits at 37 loads, 23 of which were "split" loads for both St. Clair and Monroe power plants. Following the Tregurtha, American Century had 28 visits – four split loads for Monroe and six to Essexville; American Integrity had 20 visits with eight split loads for Monroe; James R. Barker had 19 visits with four split loads for Monroe; Indiana Harbor had 15 visits, with four split loads each for the Monroe and Essexville plants; Mesabi Miner had eight visits with one lone split load for both St. Clair and Monroe; and Walter J. McCarthy Jr. had five visits, three of those loads being split loads for St. Clair and Monroe. A surprise and first-time visitor, American Spirit made only one visit on April 12 to unload at the St. Clair Power Plant. Noticeably absent from the lineup was the St. Clair, which makes a few trips to the St. Clair Power Plant each season with coal – for 2011 she's been engaged in the ore trade. Of the 133 visits by vessels at the St. Clair Power Plant for the 2011 season, 47 split loads have been taken to the Monroe Power Plant, while only 10 split loads have gone up to the Consumers Power Plant Dock or the Karn-Weadock Plant in Essexville. One other footnote to add is that the St. Clair Power Plant had two of its busiest months ever with deliveries, as there were 19 loads delivered in September, which was a record month. The month of July, with 18 deliveries, was also busy.

Cleveland, Ohio – Jake Kniola
Sam Laud, Manistee, tug Cleveland, tug Ohio, Algoma Transfer and the Polish saltie Juno were in Cleveland Thursday.


2011 Saltwater Vessel Report

12/2 - The total amount of overseas vessels that transited the Eisenhower Lock at Massena, N.Y. totaled 212 vessels, making 331 transits for the season. Of the 212 vessels, 68 of them were vessels that never visited the Great Lakes-Seaway system prior to 2011. Also, the 331 transits from March/April to December 1 were down 32 transits from the 5 year average during the same period from 2006-2010. Also, for monthly transits, October 2011 was down 12 transits from the 2010 total for the month, while the November 2011 transits were down 25 from the 2010 monthly total. For the 2011 season as of December 1, the monthly transit reports are: March/April-53, May 52, June 45, July 35, August 36, September 32, October 42 & November 36.

There were two salties renamed during the 2011 season in Great Lakes ports – Beluga Fusion renamed BBC Steinhoeft at Toronto March 25, and the CF Max becoming the Morholmen while at Hamilton last week. A third, the BBC Brazil, was renamed Thorco Celebration at Montreal September 29.

Of the 68 new salties that have not appeared on the Great Lakes-Seaway system prior to 2011, there were six of them that were renamed. Alaskaborg now Jose Maria Espana of Panama, BBC Brazil renamed Thorco Celebration of Antigua/Barbuda, BBC Orinoco now Gisele Scan of Antigua/Barbuda, CF Max now Morholmen of Panama, Corn Hill now Seagrand of Malta and finally SCL Leman now Nirint Neerlandia of Switzerland.

Denny Dushane


Sale finalized; dredging to ready Keewatin for June departure

12/2 - Douglas, Mich. – Dredging work around the 350-foot-long Keewatin should begin any time as part of the prep work on the ship before it leaves Douglas in June. The sale of the ship from owner R.J. Peterson to Gil Blutrich of Canada was finalized Wednesday said Eric Conroy, the consultant overseeing the project.

Blutrich is chairman and president of Skyline International Development Inc., a private Canadian investment and management company. He plans to have the ship towed from Douglas to Port McNicoll, Ontario, where it will be part of a renovated waterfront and tourist attraction.

Conroy did not reveal how much Blutrich is paying for the 104-year-old Great Lakes cruise ship, but said the entire project, including the purchase of the ship and renovations at its new home in Canada, could total $3 million. Peterson said no money has yet changed hands and some insurance issues still need to be worked out.

The $3 million pricetag also includes dredging Kalamazoo Lake so the ship can be towed into Lake Michigan in June. Dredging around the Keewatin will begin immediately so it will be floating along its dock. It is now lodged in the muck.

Repairs to the ship will begin in the spring, Conroy said. About a dozen workers, including plumbers, carpenters and electricians from the area, will be used, he added.

In June, a path from the dock to the channel in the Kalamazoo River will be dredged and the ship will be towed into Lake Michigan. The sediment will be pumped onto Peterson’s property near the Keewatin. Originally, the ship was going to be turned around– its bow now faces inland – before it was towed out, but that changed. The most efficient, simplest way is to take it out backwards, Conroy said.

The 600 nautical mile trip to Port McNicoll will take four days.

Peterson brought the Keewatin to Douglas in 1967. The ship was built in 1907 and carried cargo and passengers for the Canadian Pacific Railway.

The Holland Sentinel


Updates -  December 2

News Photo Gallery


Today in Great Lakes History -  December 2

On this day in 1942, the tug ADMIRAL and tanker-barge CLEVCO encountered a late season blizzard on Lake Erie. The ADMIRAL sank approximately 10 miles off Avon Point, Ohio, with a loss of 11. The CLEVCO sank 30 hours later off Euclid Beach with a loss of 19.

On 02 December 1857, the NAPOLEON (wooden propeller, 92 foot, 181 tons, built in 1845, at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, as a schooner) went to the assistance of the schooner DREADNAUGHT. In the rescue attempt, the NAPOLEON bent her rudder and disabled her engine. Helpless, she went on a reef off Saugeen, Ontario, and was pounded to pieces. Her engine, boiler and gear were salvaged in the autumn of 1858, and sold at Detroit, Michigan.

On 02 December 1856, the NAPOLEON (wooden side-wheel steamer, 110 foot, built in 1853, at Hamilton, Ontario) was driven ashore on the Western edge of Burlington Bay near Hamilton in a gale. Later the wreck burned to a total loss.

Hall Corporation of Canada’s OTTERCLIFFE HALL (Hull#667) was launched December 2, 1968, at Lauzon, Quebec, by Davie Shipbuilding Co. Ltd.

The GEORGE R. FINK, b) ERNEST T. WEIR under tow passed Gibraltar on December 2, 1973, and arrived at Gandia, Spain, prior to December 7, 1973, for scrapping.

Pittsburgh Steamship Co.’s GOVERNOR MILLER (Hull#810) was launched in1937, at Lorain, Ohio, by American Ship Building Co.

The NIPIGON BAY last ran in 1982, and was laid up at Montreal on December 2nd.

December 2, 1975, the brand new carferry WOLFE ISLANDER III sailed into Kingston from Thunder Bay, Ontario. The new 55 car ferry would replace the older ferries WOLFE ISLANDER and UPPER CANADA.

On 2 December 1874, the steam barge GERMANIA was launched at King's yard in Marine City, Michigan. The Port Huron Times of 4 December 1874, reported that she "is probably the cheapest boat ever built in Marine City, wages and material, iron, etc. being very low." This was due to the nation just recovering from the "Panic of 1873". The vessel's dimensions were 144 feet overall x 56 feet 2 inches x 11 feet 9 inches.

On 2 December 1832, the wooden schooner CAROLINE was carrying dry goods worth more than $30,000 from Oswego to Ogdensburg, New York, in a violent storm. She capsized and sank off Ducks Island on Lake Ontario with the loss of one life. Five survived in the yawl and made it to the island in 6 hours. After much suffering from the cold and snow, they were rescued by the schooner HURON.

Duluth - December 2, 1950 - In the early part of this week there were as many as 41 Great Lakes vessels lined up in the Duluth-Superior harbor awaiting their turn to take on their cargoes of iron ore. Freezing temperatures prevailed at the head of the lakes and ore steaming operations permitted loading only of about ten boats per day.

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


Port Reports -  December 1

Marquette, Mich. - Rod Burdick
Kaye E. Barker loaded ore at the Upper Harbor and departed Wednesday.

Port Inland, Mich. - Denny Dushane
John J. Boland was due to load at Port Inland on November 29. Also due to load at Port Inland was the Manitowoc on November 30, followed by Joseph L. Block on December 1. Rounding out the schedule for Port Inland is the Wilfred Sykes due to load on December 2nd.

Toledo, Ohio - Denny Dushane
The Port of Toledo will have a fairly busy week in the next few days with traffic at the CSX Coal Dock, Midwest Terminal Stone Dock and the Torco Dock. Due to load at CSX was the John G. Munson on the 30th. Following the Munson will be three vessels all due at CSX on December 1, with Saginaw being the first one, followed by the McKee Sons and the Lee A. Tregurtha. The only vessel due at the Midwest Terminal Stone Dock is the James Norris arriving at the dock on the 30th. Due at the Torco Ore Dock to unload taconite pellets is the Atlantic Erie on December 1 along with the Lee A. Tregurtha and rounding out the schedule is the American Courage due on December 2 at Torco.


EPA releases plan to regulate ship ballast water

12/1 - Traverse City, Mich. ­ The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has released a proposal to strengthen regulation of ballast water discharged by commercial ships, a leading pathway for invasive species to reach U.S. waters.

The EPA said Wednesday it was releasing a draft permit with standards similar to those proposed by the International Maritime Organization in 2004. Those standards require shippers to install technology limiting the number of live organisms in ballast tanks, which store water to help keep a ship upright in rolling seas.

Shipping industry groups say those limits as achievable, while environmental groups contend they're inadequate to protect U.S. waters from exotic species such as zebra and quagga mussels, which have infested the Great Lakes and other waterways. EPA will take public comment and issue a final plan in November 2012.

Associated Press


Purdue research helps Coast Guard lower summer deaths on Great Lakes

12/1 - West Lafayette, Ind. — A Purdue University analysis of drowning and boating death patterns on the Great Lakes played a role in the Coast Guard's successful efforts this summer to cut deaths on the lakes.

The Coast Guard intensified its public service campaigns and death-prevention planning after deaths on the five lakes soared 82 percent last year to 164.

Purdue scientists analyzed last year's death patterns, pinpointing areas where deaths often occurred. They also calculated what time of day, week and month deaths were more likely to happen and turned that data over to the Coast Guard.

Coast Guard Capt. Eric Vogelbacher says Purdue's analysis showing high-risk areas for deaths helped the agency this summer cut the number of deaths by more than a third to 104.

Associated Press


Fairport lighthouse into a summer home

12/1 - Fairport, Ohio – Shelia Consaul has officially taken possession of the Fairport Harbor West Lighthouse and now the real work begins in turning the iconic structure into a summer home. But that job will require repairing recent vandalism damage done to the building — located along the breakwater that juts into Lake Erie from the Headlands Beach State Park and Nature Preserve.

“I was out to see the lighthouse both in September and October and I’m very excited to get on with the restoration,” said Consaul, a marketing executive from Reston, Va. “But some vandals came and broke eight windows in the upper portion from the inside and which were covered by Plexiglas,” she said. “That’s unfortunate because in this case I have to fix it, unlike a home where the seller is required to make repairs.”

Consaul was the second-highest bidder in August with an offer of $71,010, but the first-place bidder withdrew, forfeiting his deposit. Immediate plans call for covering the windows with plywood sometime this month, Consaul said.

Long-term plans point toward restoring the structure, beginning this spring, to be used as a summer home, complete with three bedrooms, Consaul said.

“The biggest challenge will be providing running water, which is a bit ironic considering that it’s on Lake Erie,” Consaul said. “What I hope to do is have built a self-contained and environmentally friendly water and waste water system.”

Such details will require not only consulting with appropriate contractors but also engineers and those experts familiar with unique living systems as well as handling lead-based paint and asbestos, Consaul said. “I’ve got a lot of homework to do,” she said.

Consaul will maintain both a website,, and a Facebook page — Consaul suggests searching for Fairport Harbor West Breakwater Light — which will follow the lighthouse and its refurbishment.



Santa to pay visit to historic Door County museum tug

12/1 - Sturgeon Bay, Wis. – Santa Claus will be making his annual visit to the Door County Maritime Museum in Sturgeon Bay to gather gift requests from area children. He will welcome children aboard the tug John Purves, the museum’s 92-year-old in-water exhibit, from 10 a.m.-1p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 10.

The event offers a double treat for the children since it not only presents an opportunity to see Santa, but to also step aboard a historic seagoing tug. Santa will arrive at the museum on board a Coast Guard boat. At least that’s the plan, provided ice doesn’t clog the channel, said Bob Desh, the Museum’s executive director. The museum worked with Santa to schedule his visit a week earlier than previous years in hope that ice will have not yet formed on Sturgeon Bay.

“The Coast Guard and Santa have a very special relationship during the holidays,” said Desh, a retired Coast Guard captain. “Santa utilizes Coast Guard vessels and aircraft for his visits to ports around the country. We feel fortunate to be able to share in that tradition with the Coast Guard Station here in Sturgeon Bay.”

Once on board the 149-foot vessel, Santa will accept children’s Christmas wishes. However, due to the cramped conditions on the vessel, only two adults will be permitted to escort the children. While they wait, children will be entertained by holiday videos in the museum’s Reddin Bridge Room. There is no cost for visiting Santa, but a $5 suggested donation will be appreciated.

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Today in Great Lakes History -  December 1

In 1940, the Columbia Transportation steamer CARROLLTON laid up in the Cuyahoga River with a storage load of 75,000 bushels of potatoes.

On 01 December 1884, the N BOUTIN (wooden propeller tug, 68 foot, 46 gross tons, built in 1882, at Buffalo, New York) sank in ten feet of water near Washburn, Wisconsin. Newspaper reports stated that she was leaking badly and was run toward shore to beach her but no details are given regarding the cause of the leak. She was recovered and repaired.

On December 1, 1974, the Canadian motor vessel JENNIFER foundered on Lake Michigan in a storm. Her steel cargo apparently shifted and she foundered 24 miles southwest of Charlevoix, Michigan. The JENNIFER went to the bottom in water too deep for any salvage attempt.

The FRED G. HARTWELL, the last boat built for the Franklin Steamship Co., was delivered to her owners on December 1, 1922, but her maiden voyage didn't occur until early 1923, because of unfavorable weather conditions.

The SASKATOON's ownership was transferred to the Canada Steamship Lines Ltd., Montreal on December 1, 1913, when the company was formed and all six vessels of the Merchants Mutual Line were absorbed by CSL in 1914.

HUDSON TRANSPORT was put up for sale by Marine Salvage in December 1982.

On 1 December 1875, BRIDGEWATER (3-mast wooden schooner, 706 tons, built in 1866, at Buffalo, New York, as a bark) grounded on Waugoshance Point in the Straits of Mackinac. She was released fairly quickly and then was towed to Buffalo, New York, for repairs. In Buffalo, she was gutted by fire. In 1880-82, the propeller KEYSTONE was built on her hull.

In 1909, the MARQUETTE & BESSEMER NO 2 sank on Lake Erie, 31 lives were lost.

December 1, 1985 - The SPARTAN broke loose from her moorings at Ludington in a storm and ended up near Buttersville Island. She was pulled off on December 5, by the Canonie tugs SOUTH HAVEN and MUSKEGON with the help of the CITY OF MIDLAND 41. It took about 10 hours.

On 1 December 1875, the Port Huron Times reported: "The schooner MARY E. PEREW went ashore in the Straits of Mackinac and by the brave efforts of the people on shore, her crew was rescued from perishing in the cold. Her decks were completely covered with ice and the seas were breaking over her. The vessel has a large hole in her bottom made by a rock that came through her. She will prove a total loss." On 7 December 1875, that newspaper reported that MARY E. PEREW had been raised by a wrecker and would be repaired.

On 1 December 1882, DAVID M. FOSTER (wooden 3-mast schooner, 121 foot, 251 tons, built in 1863, at Port Burwell, Ontario as a bark) was carrying lumber from Toronto to Oswego, New York, in a storm. She was picked up by a harbor tug outside of Oswego for a tow into the harbor, but the tow line broke. The FOSTER went bows-on into the breakwater. She was holed and sank. No lives were lost. Her loss was valued at $3,300.

On 01 December 1934, the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter ESCANABA (WPG 64) (165 foot, 718 gross tons, built in 1932, at W. Bay City, Michigan) was involved in the rescue of the crew of the whaleback HENRY CORT off the piers at Muskegon, Michigan. Also that winter, she delivered food to the residents of Beaver Island, who were isolated due to the bad weather.

The SULLIVAN BROTHERS (steel straight-deck bulk freighter, 430 foot, 4897 gross tons, built in 1901, at Chicago, Illinois as FREDERICK B. WELLS) grounded at Vidal Shoal on Tuesday evening, 01 Dec 1953. She was loaded with grain and rested on solid rock. She was recovered.

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


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