Great Lakes & Seaway Shipping News Archive

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Another busy winter expected for region’s shipyards

12/31 - Cleveland, Ohio – As the Great Lakes shipping season enters its final weeks, shipyards and repair facilities throughout the region are gearing up for another busy winter maintaining and modernizing the U.S.-flag Great Lakes fleet. It is projected that U.S.-flag lakers will move more than 90 million tons of cargo in 2012, so there will be lots of work to do to ensure the industry can meet the needs of commerce again in 2013. The various projects scheduled for the next few months will require investments that range from $500,000 to almost $3 million per vessel.

Great Lakes shipping is a 24/7 industry, so every effort is made to keep the vessels operating continuously during the shipping season beginning in early March and going through mid-January. Two vessels have already undergone their scheduled maintenance, but once the locks at Sault St. Marie, Michigan, close on January 15, the winter work program will begin in earnest.

Iron ore for steel production is the primary cargo moved by U.S-flag lakers, and some of the steel made from those taconite pellets will end up back in the vessel that carried the iron ore from the mines to the mills. A number of vessels will have steel renewed in their hulls and cargo holds over the winter.

U.S. law requires that lakers be dry-docked at regularly scheduled intervals so the U.S. Coast Guard can inspect the hull from the exterior. Concrete blocks are positioned in the drydock to support the vessel once the chamber has been pumped out. Several vessels will undergo their out-of-water survey this coming winter.

Waterborne commerce is widely acknowledged to be the greenest mode of transportation. A U.S. Army Corps of Engineers report notes that a cargo of 1,000 tons transported by a Great Lakes freighter produces 90 percent less carbon dioxide as compared to the same cargo transported by truck and 70 percent less if moved by rail. U.S.-flag lakers will further reduce their emissions by upgrading a number of diesel generators, and a tug that pushes a self-unloading barge will be completely repowered with a state-of-the-art diesel engine.

Other projects include upgrades to navigation equipment and galleys.

This winter is the first that Great Lakes shipyards will work on two new lakers. The tug/barge unit Ken Boothe Sr./Lakes Contender was christened in May of this year. A tug/barge unit that had previously worked the Gulf was renamed the Defiance/Ashtabula and entered service in October after being modified for Lakes operations.

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. Employment peaks at about 1,200 during the winter and annual wages top $50 million.

In addition, it is estimated that $800,000 in economic activity is generated per vessel in the community in which it is wintering.

Lake Carriers Association


Obituary: Lawrence "Frenchy" LaMourie

12/31 - Lawrence "Frenchy" LaMourie made his final voyage on December 29, 2012, after a year-long battle with cancer. Born and raised in Manistique, Mich., and husband of Mary Catherine for 52 years, he worked for many years in the dredging, marine construction and remediation industries in and around the Great Lakes – for Dunbar & Sullivan Dredging Co., Faust Corporation, and others. As such, he was well-known in the lakes maritime community.

Family will receive friends Wednesday, January 2, 1-8 p.m. at Weise Funeral Home, 7210 Park Ave., Allen Park, Mich. Scripture service at 7 p.m. Funeral Mass Thursday 10 a.m. at St. Frances Cabrini, 9000 Laurence, Allen Park. Church visitation begins 9:30 a.m. Memorials to: Solanus Casey Center, 1820 Mt. Elliott, Detroit, Mich. 48207. For additional information or post a guestbook memory online


Updates -  December 31

News Photo Gallery


Today in Great Lakes History -  December 31

In 1905, 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, Mich. The JONES was built at a cost of $400,000 for Jones and Laughlin Steel. She was declared a constructive total loss after a collision with the CASON J. CALLAWAY in the St. Marys River on August 21, 1955. Most of the hull was scrapped at Superior, Wis., 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 (later CLIFFS VICTORY) on December 10, 1950.

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

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

On 31 December 1884, ADMIRAL (wooden propeller steam tug, 49 gross tons, built in 1883, at Chicago, Ill.) 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, Mich.

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

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

1905: The whaleback Barge 126 had left the Great Lakes earlier in the year and was renamed b) BADEN. It stranded at Buzzard's Bay, Mass.,, enroute from Newport News, Va., to New Bedford, Mass., with coal and was a total loss. The crew of six was also lost.

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


Last vessels clear St. Lawrence Seaway – Montreal to Lake Ontario section

12/30 - The Desgagnes tanker Vega Degagnes was the last commercial vessel downbound at St Lambert at 3 p.m. hours on Saturday. John B. Aird will be the last vessel upbound. She was above Cornwall and should clear Iroquois before midnight Saturday. The Canadian Coast Guard vessel Tracy cleared the St Lambert Lock at 5 p.m.

Kent Malo


HMCS Athabaskan tow breaks free near site of Canadian Miner wreck

12/30 - Tugs towing the HMCS Athabaskan back to Halifax from Port Weller, Ont., ran into trouble when the towline parted five miles from Scaterie Island. A Canadian Coast Guard vessel towed the Athabaskan to Sydney. No other details are available at this time. The tow had earlier put into Sydney, Nova Scotia, for shelter and repairs to one of the tugs.

Scaterie Island is in the Atlantic Ocean, off the easternmost tip of Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. It is the site of the Canadian Miner wreckage. The Miner broke loose from tugs while being towed overseas after a long Great Lakes shipping career.

Kent Malo


Port Reports -  December 30

Twin Ports - Al Miller
Three American Steamship Company vessels -- two 1,000-footers and a shorter boat -- were anchored off Superior on Saturday afternoon. Among them was Walter J. McCarthy Jr., which was waiting for a turn at the BNSF ore dock, which was occupied by the Hon. Paul Martin. CSL Niagara arrived in Duluth in midafternoon to fuel and then wait its turn to load behind the McCarthy. Mesabi Miner was expected to arrive in the evening to load at Midwest Energy Terminal.

St. Marys River
The small, Sarnia-based tug Pride was upbound with the Christian Island ferry Sandy Graham in tow on Saturday. According to a post on the Christian Island Association’s Web page, the Graham will undergo unspecified repairs at Sault Ste. Marie.

Sturgeon Bay, Wis. - Wendell Wilke
Ken Boothe, Sr. and barge Lakes Contender arrived at Bay Shipbuilding at 3:30 p.m. Saturday for winter layup. Coming down the Bay of Green Bay she encountered some ice close to the shipyard, but had no problem on her arrival. The tug Jimmy L. (Selvick Marine) met her at Sherwood Point and followed her in, but no assistance was needed.

Alpena, Mich. - Ben & Chanda McClain
On Saturday two vessels were in port at Lafarge. The Alpena was under the silos loading cement. Manitowoc was at the coal dock unloading cargo into the storage hopper.

Toledo, Ohio - Denny Dushane
Cason J. Callaway arrived in the early Saturday and unloaded iron ore pellets at the Torco Dock. The updated list of arrivals at the Torco Dock has the James L. Kuber due New Year's Eve in the early evening. She will be the last ship at least to unload at Torco in 2012. Manitowoc will be the first arrival at Torco for 2013 on January 2 in the early morning. Cason J. Callaway returns, also on January 2, in the morning. Great Republic is due at the Torco Dock on January 3 and the Philip R. Clarke is due on January 5. Rounding out the Torco lineup is the Arthur M. Anderson, due there on January 6 in the early afternoon. Manistee arrived on Christmas Day for winter lay-up at one of the Toledo docks. She joined the Phoenix Star, American Valor, American Fortitude and Adam E. Cornelius, all of which are in layup.


Buffalo crew snuffs small fire

12/30 - Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. – The crew of the 635-foot Buffalo extinguished a small fire Thursday evening while traveling in the St. Marys River System, according to U.S. Coast Guard reports.

LTJG. Matt MacKillop of the U.S. Coast Guard said the small fire started at approximately 5 p.m. on the bow thruster and the crew quickly snuffed the flames with a CO2 portable fire extinguisher. Damage was considered minimal and the ship was allowed to continue on downbound following a preliminary inspection.

“We don’t know exactly,” said MacKillop of the cause of the fire, “but initial speculation has it that lubricating oils in the bow mount motor shaft, which runs three or four decks in length, likely overheated. A more thorough investigation is currently underway, but that officer has not yet completed the official report.”

The Buffalo is owned by the American Steamship Company of Williamsville, New York. The diesel-powered self-unloader was built by the Bay Shipbuilding Company of Sturgeon Bay, Wis., in 1978.

Sault Ste. Marie Evening News


2012 saltwater vessel transit totals

12/30 - The 2012 Great Lakes/Seaway shipping season saw an increase in the amount of saltwater vessels transiting the Eisenhower Lock, with 365 transits for the year. That is up nine transits from the 2011 season total of 356. There were also 229 total saltwater vessels that transited the Eisenhower Lock for the 2012 shipping season. The 229-vessel total was also an increase from the 2011 season total of 220 vessels. Still, the 229 vessels for 2012 falls short of the 2007 season high of 233 vessels and the 365 transits through the Eisenhower Lock also falls short of the high mark of 431 transits set during the 2007 season also. One footnote is the amount of newcomers making their first appearance in the Great Lakes/Seaway system. There were 89, which was an increase of 19 from the 2011 total of 70 new saltwater ships making their first appearance in the Great Lakes/Seaway system. The Stella Polaris, a tanker registered in the Netherlands, made the most transits through the system in 2012 with nine. There were also three salties that used the system in 2012 that were the oldest salties in the seaway. Two of them, the Federal Agno and the Stefania I, were both built in 1985. Another, the Federal Fuji, built in 1986, was also another candidate for oldest salty in the system in 2012. For the 2012 season, the monthly transits by saltwater vessels at the Eisenhower Lock are: March/April 44, May 47, June 48, July 37, August 28, September 42, October 48, November 40 and December 31. The 365 transits by salties for the 2012 season is also an increase of six transits from the five-year average and the 229 transits by vessel is an increase of 15 vessels from the five year average also. One other statistic is the 89 new comers or salties that made their first appearance on the Great Lakes/Seaway system in 2012 as this number is up 33 vessels from the five-year average.

The following is a list of new salties making their first appearance on the Great Lakes/Seaway system during the 2012 shipping season. There were 89 salties that appeared for the first time on the Great Lakes/Seaway system with their present name. Two were also renamed in 2012: Catherine Scan became Mellum Trader, while Marselisborg became Clipper Anne. The list of newcomers are: Aggersborg, Alamosborg, Anke, Appologracht, Arneborg, Arubaborg, Atlantic Steamer, Atlanticborg, BBC Austria, BBC Balboa, BBC Hawaii, BBC Houston, BBC Wisconsin, Ben, Bulk Sunset, Catherine Scan, Charlotte Theresa, Chem Pegasus, Clipper Aki, Clipper Gemini, Colorado Star, Copenhangen, Cornelia, Corso Dream, Dale, Ebroborg, Eeborg, Elandsgracht, Elevit, Elisalex Schulte, Fairchem Stallion, Federal Mayumi, Federal Satsuki, Finnborg, Flintersun, Fuldaborg, Han Xin, Harbour Kira, Harbour Leader, Harbour Legend, Harbour Loyalty, Hellespont Centurion, HHL Amazon, HHL Congo, Hr Resolution, Ida Theresa, Ina, Ina Theresa, Intrepid Canada, Irene Theresa, Labrador, Lubie, Maersk Illinois, Mainland, Mamry, Marietje Deborah, Marietje Marsilla, Marselisborg, MCT Monte Rosa, MCT Stockhorn, Mehmet A, Melisa-D, Miramis, MSM Douro, Muntgracht, Nordic Oslo, Nordisle, North Contender, Onego Bora, Osogovo, Purple Gem, Sapphire, Shamrock Jupiter, Sichem Contester, Sichem Dubai, Sichem Edinburgh, Sichem Hiroshima, Sichem Hong Kong, Sichem Montreal, Sloman Dispatcher, Sloman Hera, Soley-1, Solina, Stella Polaris, Thorco Arctic, Vikingbank, Vitosha, Vlieborg and Winter.

Denny Dushane


Updates -  December 30

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.

1981: VISHVA DHARMA came through the Seaway when new in 1970. The vessel was in a collision on this date with the ADMIRAL S. ALTINCAN and sustained damage to the forecastle and sides. The ship reached Istanbul, Turkey, enroute to Russia on January 7, 1982. The damage was repaired and it survived until scrapping at Bombay, India, in 1988.

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


Port Reports -  December 29

St. Marys River
The Buffalo, which had been stopped Thursday night in the St. Marys River due to malfunctioning bow and stern thrusters, was cleared by Coast Guard to get underway downbound to Cleveland. Late Friday night she was in Lake St. Clair, approaching the Detroit River.


Cleveland’s debris-grabbing boats are making a difference

12/29 - Cleveland, Ohio – Whatever happened to the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority's plans to buy two debris-catching boats to clean up the Cuyahoga River and the shoreline of Lake Erie? The 26-foot-long aluminum vessels -- christened Flotsam and Jetsam, nautical terms for floating debris -- were commissioned Oct. 17, just five days before the winds of Hurricane Sandy hit Northeast Ohio.

"I absolutely think they'll make a difference," said Will Friedman, the port's president and chief executive officer. "Over the eight weeks approximately that the boats were in service, we removed 42 tons of debris."

A large part of the debris -- 24 tons -- was collected by the boats in the three days following Hurricane Sandy, whose high winds, peaking at about 70 mph, reached Northeast Ohio on Oct. 22.

The Edgewater Marina, where the debris-catching boats were moored, was hit hard: Rough water destroyed part of the marina's protective bulkhead, and more than 30 boats sank and 15 or 20 others were badly damaged. Flotsam and the Jetsam were unharmed, making them available to help with the cleanup.

"We ended up right in the middle of all these sunken vessels," said Jim White, the port's director of sustainable infrastructure programs. "We were down there for three solid days picking up debris."

The boats were pulled from the water for the season on Nov. 19. They will resume their trash patrol in mid-April. White came up with the concept for the design of the boats, which were custom-built so they could navigate the twisty Cuyahoga River. The boats are designed with the concept of a backhoe and dump truck in mind: The Flotsam picks up the debris and loads it onto the Jetsam.

With a five-person crew between them, the boats will patrol the 6.5-mile shipping channel of the Cuyahoga River along with the harbor area in Lake Erie. The crew is provided by the Downtown Cleveland Alliance.

Though the Cuyahoga River is much cleaner than it used to be, rafts of trash and debris are a common sight, particularly after a storm. Tree limbs, car tires, foam cups, bottles and cans gather in the river and along the Lake Erie shoreline. And what's the largest piece of debris the boats have pulled from the water?

"A tree that was about 30 feet long -- longer than our boats -- and 3 feet in diameter," White said. It was so heavy that the boats had to pull it to the shore so it could be removed by a crane.

The Flotsam and the Jetsam were funded by a $425,000 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The Cuyahoga River Remedial Action Plan, a group focused on improving water quality in the river, applied for the money with the port.

Besides clearing the debris that poses a hazard to boaters, rowers and wildlife, the cleanup crews will spruce up the river's image, said Friedman.

"When debris accumulates on our waterfronts, it's unsightly and it creates a bad impression of our city and our community," Friedman said. "It's just like keeping litter off our streets. And that's a big deal. It makes us a more attractive place for residents and visitors," he said.

The Plain Dealer


Marine News: Casualties & Demolitions – December 2012

12/29 - BALTICLAND first entered the Seaway on May 1, 2004. It had previously been inland as c) POLLUX for repairs at Port Weller Dry Docks in May 1990 after an on board explosion at La Baie, Quebec, killed three and left another injured on March 19, 1990. It was renamed d) NOMADIC POLLUX at the shipyard and returned down through the Seaway in August. The vessel arrived at Alang, India, for dismantling and was beached on October 27, 2012.

KS ACE arrived at Alang, India, for scrapping by Sanjay Trade Corp., on Oct. 21, 2012. The ship was a year old when it first appeared on the Great Lakes in 1984 as SEA GLORY. It was back as b) SEASTAR II in 1986 and as c) SEALINK in 1997.

LISA came to the Seaway in 1969 as a) BRUNI and was back as c) ESKDALEGATE in 1974. Following a sale to Turkish shipbreakers, the vessel arrived at Aliaga for dismantling on October 23, 2012.

The Russian freighter TIM BUCK was a year old when it first came through the Seaway in 1983. It returned inland from time to time until the last visit in 2009 when it was registered in Cyprus. The ship was beached for scrapping at Alang, India, on October 20, 2012.

TYCOON II was beached at Alang, India, on October 18, 2012. It had been a Seaway trader as a) HENNIGSDORF in 1993, as b) INANC in 1998 and was sailing under her sixth name when sold for scrap.

WEI SHEN was beached for scrapping at Chittagong, Bangladesh, on October 17, 2012. She was on her 9th name and had been through the Seaway as b) HO MING in 1983.

The SEDNA DESGAGNES stranded in the Seaway near the Johnstown Bridge on October 14, 2012, and was released October 20. It was enroute from Sorel to Chicago with pig iron.

We acknowledge the annual publication Seaway Salties, compiled by Rene Beauchamp, as an excellent resource and his 50 Years of Seaway Salties has provided us with the years that the above ocean ships first came to the Great Lakes.

Submitted by: Barry Andersen, Rene Beauchamp and Skip Gillham


Updates -  December 29

Lay-up list updated


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.

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.

1935: The Norwegian freighter AGGA came to the Great Lakes as early as 1923 and returned on several occasions until at least through 1934. It had gone aground in the St. Lawrence on October 27, 1924 and again on November 25, 1925. The 1905-vintage cargo carrier was wrecked on this date at Gunnorstenarne, Sweden.

1974: The Swedish freighter RAGNEBORG was newly built when it came to the Great Lakes in 1947 and was a regular inland trader through 1963. The vessel was sailing as c) CHAVIN when the engine broke down and it was towed into Puerto Cortes, (not sure if it was Costa Rica or Honduras), and beached. It never sailed again and was still there as late as 1978.

1979: A spark from a welder's torch spread from the conveyor belt and gutted the pilothouse and officer's quarters of the NICOLET at Toledo. The vessel was rebuilt with a new pilothouse at Lorain and returned to service on April 4, 1981.

Data from: Skip Gillham, 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.


Coast Guard, tugs breaking ice in Duluth-Superior harbor

12/28 - Duluth, Minn. – The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Alder and several local tugs are breaking ice in the Duluth-Superior harbor to help Great Lakes freighters move taconite, coal and other cargo until the Jan. 16 closing of the shipping season.

The Coast Guard is warning anyone who uses the ice — including ice anglers, ATVers and snowmobilers — to be cautious of thin ice and stay away from areas near the shipping channels.

The Sault Ste. Marie locks are scheduled to close at midnight on Jan. 15, bringing an end to the shipping season.

Duluth News Tribune


Port Reports -  December 28

Marquette, Mich. - Rod Burdick
Michipicoten and Cason J. Callaway loaded ore and departed the Upper Harbor before sunrise on Thursday. During the day, fleetmates Kaye E. Barker and Herbert C. Jackson arrived for ore and waited to load. The tug Victory and barge James L. Kuber arrived after sunrise and went to anchor.

St. Marys River
The Buffalo was in the Nine Mile Anchorage Thursday night with inspectors aboard. No reason was given.

Hamilton, Ont. - Eric Holmes
Algoma Spirit arrived for winter lay-up Thursday, tying up at Pier 26.


Port of Cleveland expects new rail link to move more cargo

12/28 - Cleveland, Ohio – Ships and trucks are a common sight at the Port of Cleveland, a relay team that moves millions of tons of cargo in and out of the city each year. This week, another freight carrier added its muscle to the waterfront.

Railroad cars rolled up the docks nearly to the water's edge Thursday to take on specialty steel from Europe. They rode a new, $4.5 million rail loop that connects the port to nearby main lines. As they create a switchyard racket not heard on the docks in years, the train cars lend the port an enticing new dimension.

Ship cargo unloaded onto trucks typically goes no farther than local factories. These steel coils from Holland will ride the rails deep into the Midwest and as far north as Milwaukee, Wisconsin, thanks to the greater carrying capacity of trains.

The ability to ship by rail right from the docks is seen as a critical new capability for the Port of Cleveland, the first major U.S. port encountered by ocean freighters sailing into the Great Lakes from the St. Lawrence Seaway. If the cargo can get most anywhere from here, the thinking goes, why sail further?

"This is exactly why we did this," said David Gutheil, the port's vice president of maritime logistics, as he watched a crane lift a 22-ton steel coil toward a low-slung rail car. "It gives our customers easier access to markets."

A cold wind whipped off a gray lake as longshoremen guided the massive cargo into place. The crane operator lowered a steel cap over the gondola car and the team moved down the line of a growing train. Three recent shiploads of steel will be loaded onto about 160 rail cars over the next couple of weeks, in one of the largest train stagings ever witnessed at the port. Gutheil hopes it's a sight that grows familiar.

"Typically, a lot of this business would have moved by truck. Or it would have moved by rail at a much higher cost," he said.

The ship-to-rail link streamlines the movement of heavy cargo through the Port of Cleveland and, he says, broadens the port's reach.

"It's a natural fit," Gutheil said. "Maritime is the most efficient form of transportation. And then to be able to transfer it to the second most efficient form of transportation, rail, benefits us and benefits our customers."

The new capability emerged in mid September, when the port completed its largest improvement project in a decade with the help of a $3 million forgivable state loan. Contractors laid a little more than a mile of track through the 80-acre port complex, connecting existing rail lines to main lines that speed trains through Cleveland dozens of times daily.

Previously, Norfolk Southern and CSX--the two dominant railroads east of the Mississippi-- had only limited access to the port, and most of the port's cargo moved out by truck.

Old photographs attest that the Port of Cleveland was once busy with train traffic, "back in the 40s and 50s," Gutheil said.

He said he does not know why train service was curtailed but that port president Will Friedman made a point to enhance it after he arrived in 2010. "When you go to any port in the country, they have much better rail connectivity," Gutheil said. "We have now caught up."

As part of the rail project, the port contracted with a local short line railroad, Cleveland Commercial Railroad Lines, to handle switching operations in the port. The Cleveland Harbor Belt Railroad was born. With an electric engine housed in a port warehouse, the tiny railway strings together loaded rail cars to run on the nearby Norfolk Southern Main.

Thursday's scene illustrated the potential of the new system. As a flatbed truck rumbled out of the port with a single steel coil lashed to its back, longshoremen finished securing the last of four identical coils into a gondola car.

The train cars, carrying four times the weight of a truck, were lined up in a row of twenty cars and that would soon be connected to a longer train destined for South Bend, Indiana.

The cost of the delivery was known only to the railroad and its customers. But William Brown, the chief financial officer for Cleveland Harbor Belt, noted that publicly posted costs of switching rail cars from one line to another--$350 per car--dropped 30 percent after the loop opened.

Suddenly, there is new competition between CSX and Norfolk Southern, as the port has ready access to both railroads.

"That's what we're telling shippers," Gutheil said. "Instead of sailing further into the Great Lakes, drop off your cargo here and we can rail it."

The attractiveness of that offer won't be known for awhile. The Seaway closes for the season Saturday and the rail loop, after a busy debut, will be largely quiet until spring.

Thursday's port visitor, a laker carrying iron ore from Minnesota, would not be moving anything by rail. But with a new railroad reaching the shore, port officials hope next year brings ships they never saw before.

The Plain Dealer


Six-month forecast: Lake Ontario levels would remain low even if water supply recovers to average

12/28 - Lake Ontario’s water level neared an all-time low for November, and was at its lowest since 1964. According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Detroit, Lake Ontario was at 243.73 feet last month, only 8.7 inches higher than the historic minimum recorded in 1934.

As of Dec. 20, the mean water level on the lake was 243.62 feet — 10.5 inches below the long-term average for December but 20.6 inches above the record low. The International St. Lawrence River Board of Control, which determines the outflow at Moses-Saunders hydroelectric dam at Massena, attributes this largely to “dry conditions experienced since last spring.”

“The lake would be about 5 inches below long-term average in May 2013 if the basin receives average water supplies,” said Frank A. Bevaqua, spokesman for the International Joint Commission, a binational entity established to manage shared U.S.-Canadian waters.

Lake Ontario received only 30 percent of its average November precipitation. And over the past 12 months, Ontario received 18 percent less than its long-term average precipitation, according to the Corps of Engineers.

In its most recent outflow strategy report, the River Board of Control said the lake is only 4.3 inches above the lower limit and about 0.4 inch below what it tries to meet under an international water regulation plan.

Over the past couple of months, the St. Lawrence Seaway has been warning shippers of “near alert levels” in sections of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence shipping channel, and recreational boaters and marinas had to pull vessels out of the water at the end of September, almost a month earlier than usual, because of the low water.

Supply from Lake Erie — Lake Ontario’s primary water source — also has been low because of the drought. Like Ontario, Lake Erie received only 30 percent of its average precipitation last month, according to the Corps of Engineers.

Experts also point out that the decline in ice cover in the Great Lakes has led to more evaporation.

Using satellite measurements from 1973 to 2010, researchers at National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory have found that the Great Lakes’ average ice coverage is down by 71 percent — with the highest loss, 88 percent, seen in Lake Ontario.

Historic water data show that in both 1934 and 1964, it took at least two years for Lake Ontario to recover to its long-term average levels following low summer and winter water levels.

But the recovery rate ultimately would depend on the water supply — mainly precipitation — between now and spring, Mr. Bevaqua said, adding that the Corps of Engineers predicts that under the “high-supply” scenario, Lake Ontario in May could rise to about 5 inches above its long-term average level.

Watertown Daily Times


Barge companies fear Mississippi River shutdown because of water levels

12/28 - As politicians and barge companies express fear of a shutdown or significant disruption, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is tackling one of two significant problems presented in the drought-stricken Mississippi River.

The Corps, aware that barge traffic could be disrupted as early as next week because of sharply lower water levels, can't do anything about ice forming in northern portions of the river, impeding adequate water flow.

But it is using contractors to remove rock formations in the river near Thebes, Illinois, to help maintain a 9-foot-deep channel for navigation, said St. Louis District spokesman Mike Petersen. Blasting, one of the removal measures, began December 21.

The removal of 890 cubic yards of limestone will continue until the end of January, Petersen told CNN on Thursday. Dredging has been ongoing since early July.

A historic drought and excessive heat reduced water levels and scorched wide sections of the Midwest. Flooding last year may have worsened the situation on the Mississippi by leaving deposits of silt and debris in areas that would normally be clear.

Two barge industry trade groups expressed concern Thursday that the portion of the river near Thebes -- about 125 miles south of St. Louis -- may be impassable for many vessels around January 3 or 4. They urged the administration to release water from Missouri River reservoirs.

"This potential supply-chain disruption could amount to a staggering loss for the U.S. economy, affecting nearly 20,000 jobs," said the statement from the American Waterways Operators and the Waterways Council, Inc.

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri, and Senate colleagues from the Midwest and South late last month called on President Barack Obama to ensure commercial navigation of the river. The letter mentioned the need for sufficient water flow into the Mississippi River from the Missouri River.

"Significant curtailment of navigation...will threaten manufacturing industries and power generation, and risk thousands of related jobs in the Midwest," the letter read. It cited in particular the stretch of the river between St. Louis and Cairo, Illinois.

Corps officials recently met with Illinois leaders to discuss its operations, among them the release of additional water from Carlyle Lake, 50 miles east of St. Louis in south-central Illinois.

Mark Fuchs, a hydrologist with the National Weather Service in St. Louis, said bitterly cold air expected in Minnesota and Iowa was expected to freeze much of the flow from the Upper Mississippi late this week.

"However, that may not have much impact on levels this far south unless the ice makes significant progress southward, roughly past Iowa," Fuchs said on Friday.



Updates -  December 28

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.

1980: DUNAV reported taking water in heavy seas off Central Japan, enroute from Hamilton, Ontario, via Los Angeles, to Tsingtao, China, with steel and was never seen again. Thirty-one sailors perished.

1980: HOLMSIDE, a Seaway trader beginning in 1960, hit a jetty while inbound at Casablanca, Morocco, as b) CABINDA and sank in the outer harbor with the loss of 9 lives.

1980: The former PRINS ALEXANDER, a Seaway trader for the Oranje Lijn beginning in 1959, struck a reef off Shadwan Island as f) POLIAGOS and sank in the Gulf of Suez. It was loaded with bagged cement and enroute from Piraeus, Greece, to Giza, United Arab Republic.

2011: An arson fire gutted the former NORMAC, most recently a restaurant ship at St. Catharines.

2011: MISSISSIPPIBORG ran aground leaving Pictou, Nova Scotia, with paper, but was refloated on the high tide only to go aground again on a second try. It had been a Seaway trader in 2011.

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


Port Reports -  December 27

Twin Ports - Al Miller
The Interlake 1,000-footers were lining up Wednesday to load coal at Midwest Energy Terminal in Superior. Paul R. Tregurtha was loading in the early morning while James R. Barker waited at the Duluth port terminal for its turn to load. Mesabi Miner was due later in the day to load at the terminal. Elsewhere, Great Republic was due at the CN ore dock to load pellets and Stewart J. Cort was loading at BNSF ore dock.


Steel production rises 20,000 tons in Great Lakes states

12/27 - Raw steel production in the country's Great Lakes region was 679,000 tons in the week that ended Saturday, according to estimates from the American Iron and Steel Institute.

Production was up 20,000 tons from the week prior. The majority of raw steel production in the Great Lakes region occurs in Indiana and the Chicago area.

Production in the Southern District was estimated at 635,000 tons during the period that ended Dec. 22, up from about 632,000 tons a week earlier.

Domestic mills produced about 1.84 million tons of steel last week, down 1.2 percent from the same period in 2011.

U.S. steel mills had a capacity utilization rate of 74.5 percent last week, which is up from a 73.9 percent production rate a week earlier.

An estimated 95.4 million tons of steel have been produced so far in 2012 at domestic steel mills, compared to about 92.8 million tons made through the comparable 2011 period.

Northwest Indiana Times


Obituary: Captain Kenneth Michael (Mike) Austin

12/27 - Captain Kenneth Michael (Mike) Austin passed away on December 22. He lived in Prescot, Merseyside, United Kingdom with his wife Celia. Mike was born in Owen Sound, on November 11, 1950. He has 4 brothers and 2 sisters. Parents, Captain Kenn and IIlean Austin reside in Lions Head, Ontario.

In the spring of 1987 he was appointed captain on the Woodland. He worked 25 years with Upper Lakes Shipping and recently with Algoma Central Corporation.

He was never afraid to share knowledge. Professional, reliable and trustworthy are words expressed by mariners and friends that knew Captain Austin. Mike returned to work late last spring. During the trip from Hamilton to Sept Isles and return he was having difficulties. Medical tests were completed and in October he was diagnosed with stomach cancer. He died in the United Kingdom. A webcast of the funeral services is planned for January 4th, 2013, from Merseyside. It is expected further details will become available.


Obituary: Captain Charles Beaupre

12/27 - Captain Charles Beaupre died in his 95th year in St. Catharines, Ontario. on December 25. Capt. Beaupre spent his whole sailing career on the Great Lakes with N. M. Paterson & Sons. He retired in 1982 as their Marine Superintendent. During World War II as a young merchant mariner he survived the North Atlantic convoys. He then transferred to Paterson engaging in the Bauxite trade dodging U-boats in the Caribbean while serving aboard canal boats.


Updates -  December 27

Lay-up list updated


Today in Great Lakes History -  December 27

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.

1985: The wooden sailing ship CIUDAD DE INCA sank in shallow water at Portsmouth, Ontario, during a snowstorm. The vessel was refloated January 10, 1986, with machinery but no structural damage. It had come inland for the Lake Ontario Tall Ships Extravaganza in 1984. Due to an earlier problem, it had to stay out of American waters where it was subject to an arrest warrant due to the sinking of the MARQUES, owned by the same company, in a Tall Ships race from Bermuda to Halifax.

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


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.

1909: The former whaleback steamer COLGATE HOYT, operating on the East Coast since 1906, was wrecked as c) THURMOND in a storm at Tom's River Bay, NJ enroute from Newport News, VA to Portland, ME with a cargo of coal.

1973: The Liberian freighter ADELFOI, a Seaway caller in 1972 and 1973, was under tow on the St. Lawrence due to engine trouble. The ship broke loose and came ashore at St. Laurent, Ile d'Orleans and became a total loss. It was refloated on May 9, 1974, and eventually towed to Santander,Spain, for scrapping.

1982: BELMONA was newly built when it visited the Great Lakes in 1962. It sank as e) RHODIAN SAILOR south of Taiwan after the holds were flooded in a storm. The ship was carrying bagged cement and there was only one survivor.

Data from: Skip Gillham, 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.


Algoma Equinox launched in China

12/25 - The new 740-foot Algoma Equinox was launched Sunday evening at Nantong Mingde Heavy Industry Stock Co. Ltd. shipyard in Nantong City, China. This is the first of a series of eight ships that will be built at this yard.

This Equinox Class series will include eight vessels consisting of four gearless bulk carriers (requiring shore-side equipment for cargo discharge) and four self-unloading bulk carriers. Algoma will own six of the series, consisting of two gearless bulkers and four self-unloading vessels. The expected delivered cost of these six Equinox vessels is approximately $300 million. The Canadian Wheat Board will own the other two gearless bulkers which will be operated and managed by Algoma.

The Algoma Equinox is expected to commence operations in Canada during the 2013 navigation season. It will be followed by the delivery of the other seven Equinox Class vessels at approximately three month intervals through the remainder of 2013 and in 2014.

The Equinox Class represents the next generation of Great Lakes - St. Lawrence Waterway bulk cargo vessel. The ships have been specially designed to optimize fuel efficiency and operating performance thus minimizing environmental impact. A 45% improvement in energy efficiency over Algoma's current fleet average is predicted with the use of a modern Tier II compliant engine and a fully integrated IMO approved exhaust gas scrubber that will remove 97% of all sulphur oxides from shipboard emissions. The use of exhaust gas scrubbers represents the first application of an IMO approved integrated scrubber on a Great Lakes - St. Lawrence vessel class.

"This is a very exciting day for Algoma" said Greg Wight, Algoma President and CEO. "Today's launching represents the culmination of years of work by our employees to create the Equinox Class. We are very excited to achieve this important milestone and are looking forward to the completion of this vessel and its delivery to Canada in 2013."

Algoma Central Marine


Hollyhock crew removes buoys in winter

12/25 - Port Huron, Mich. – The crew of the U.S. Coast Guard Hollyhock has a grueling task during the holiday season, but that doesn’t mean the members lose their cheer. From a hardhat wrapped in blinking lights to Santa making a surprise appearance on the bridge with a bag of snacks, the crew stays in the spirit as they lug buoys out of local waterways.

“It’s rough being out in the weather, but we have a good time out here with all the people that are working,” said Cory Siegferth, boatswain mate 2nd class. “The worse the weather, it’s kind of better because everyone comes together more. ...We all like being here.”

Siegferth and several other members of the crew worked through high winds and rain Thursday as part of the operation to service 90 buoys in lakes Huron, Erie and Ontario in six weeks. The Hollyhock is responsible for 125 buoys in the three lakes and adjoining rivers.

During the fall retrieve, the crew either removes the buoy and the weight holding it in place, or removes it and replaces it with a winter mark, which is significantly smaller and does not have a light.

The buoys are imperative for commercial shipping, said Cmdr. Tim Brown, captain of the Hollyhock. “We’re retrieving the buoys from the water because they’ll get lost in the ice, and we’re kind of racing against time now,” he said.

The buoys that are removed for the season are easily visible for ships because of their size and the light affixed to the top. The winter buoys and winter markers are much smaller and constructed so ice won’t gather on top.

The crew puts the buoys back out in the spring once the threat of ice is gone.

Glen Nekvasil, vice president of the Lake Carriers’ Association, said keeping the waterways open and navigable is imperative for the industry. Between 160 and 170 million tons of goods are shipped throughout the Great Lakes each year, he said. Nekvasil said a study conducted in 2011 showed the U.S. vessels support 103,000 jobs in the region and has an economic impact of about $20 billion.

“The cargo that moves on the Great Lakes is worth billions of dollars,” he said.

Port Huron Times Herald


Port Reports -  December 25

Marquette, Mich. – Rod Burdick
Michipicoten and John G. Munson loaded ore at the Upper Harbor on Christmas Eve.

Sandusky, Ohio – Jim Spencer
Algoma Olympic sailed Monday morning for Hamilton, Ont., as dockworkers headed for their vehicles to begin a two-day Christmas break. A bearded old gent wearing a red suit reportedly shouted "Ahoy there, Ho Ho Ho," while swooping low across the boat in a sleigh pulled by reindeer as the vessel neared the Welland Canal early Tuesday. The report could not be independently confirmed.


Updates -  December 25

Weekly Website Updates
News Photo Gallery Algoma Equinox launch photos


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.

1975: GEORGE M. CARL (ii), inbound at Toronto with a winter storage cargo of grain, missed the turn for the Western Gap and stranded in Humber Bay. Tugs pulled the ship free on December 27.

1981: The Halco tanker HUDSON TRANSPORT caught fire 200 miles east of Quebec City enroute from Montreal to the Magdalen Islands with 40,000 barrels of Bunker C. oil. The accommodation area was destroyed and 7 lives were lost. The ship was towed to Sept-Iles, unloaded and then to Montreal where it was declared a total loss. It later saw brief service as the barge b) SCURRY and went to Nigeria in 1992 as c) REMI.

1985: The former CLIFFS VICTORY passed down the Welland Canal as c) SAVIC, enroute to eventual scrapping in South Korea. It does not arrive there until Dec. 12, 1986.

2000: TWINSISTER had come to the Great Lakes in 1985. The vessel was reported to have caught fire in the engineroom as d) MELATI off Vung Tau, Vietnam, with the blaze spreading to the accommodation area. The listing freighter was abandoned by the 18-member crew and the ship was presumed to have sunk. It was located December 31 and found to have been looted by pirates. The ship arrived in Singapore, under tow, on January 4, 2001, and was apparently repaired, becoming e) WIN DUKE in 2003 and f) HAN LORD in 2006.

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


Storm, low water causes ship traffic jam at the Soo Locks

12/24 - Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. – The winter storm Thursday and Friday caused a backup of shipping traffic on the Great Lakes. As of 2 p.m. Saturday, 14 vessels were above the Soo Locks in the St. Marys River system. There were still several vessels on the hook Sunday night, including the new Baie St. Paul. The reason for the delay is extremely low water in the lower St. Marys River.

The recent storm, which brought high winds to the area, pushed the water in Lake Huron to the south end of the lake. Water levels Friday night were down close to three feet.

Up North Live


Port of Green Bay shipping down 12 percent

12/24 - Green Bay, Wis. – A brisk start to the 2012 shipping season on the Great Lakes has seen a slowdown through the closing months of the year, but there’s roughly a month of shipping left before the locks at Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., close for the season.

Through the end of November, U.S.-flag ships on the lakes carried 81.6 million tons of cargo for the season, about 4.1 percent less than at the same time last year. That total is about 2 percent less then the five-year average, according to a monthly report from the Ohio-based Lake Carriers’ Association.

“We’ve seen a slowdown in iron ore ... the coal trade has been down this trade because Canada is phasing out coal for power generation, and limestone has maintained, but that too appears to have slowed,” said Glen Nekvasil, vice president of association. “That would be an indication our construction market remains kind of sluggish.”

U.S.-flag freighters carried 9.2 million tons of cargo in November, a 6.6 percent increase from October, but about 9 percent less than November 2011, according to the report.

The Port of Green Bay has seen cargo totals soften in the later months of the year. November saw 220,230 tons of cargo come through the port, about 12 percent less than the same month last year.

Through the end of November, the port has handled about 1.8 million tons of cargo, 12 percent less than the same time last year when the total stood at just over 2 million tons.

The St. Lawrence Seaway reported Wednesday that through the end of November its tonnage is up 2.67 percent from the same time last year.

“Shippers and port-terminal personnel are working hard to move wheat, soybeans and corn exports to lower Laurentian ports or foreign destinations before the Seaway locks close out the waterway’s final days,” Rebecca Spruill, Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corp. director of trade development, said in a news release.

Nekvasil said most of the Great Lakes fleet continues to sail ahead of the mid-January closing of the Soo Locks.

“The shipping season is far from over,” he said. “We’ve got another four weeks of navigation here. We’ve had two smaller vessels lay up for the year, but for the most part the fleet is still going.”

Green Bay Press Gazette


Hamilton’s McKeil Marine floating on a wave of momentum

12/24 - Hamilton, Ont. – Crowds in the thousands lined the Welland Canal and news outlets from all over the country paid attention as McKeil Marine towed a decommissioned submarine from Nova Scotia to a museum in Port Burwell. The Daily Planet science show on the Discovery Channel even did a segment on the massive move.

But this bustling and growing Hamilton company isn’t used to that kind of spotlight. “Normally we do our business with no one seeing or hearing about it or even knowing we exist,” said company president Steve Fletcher.

In fact, that’s one of the 56-year-old business’s biggest challenges, he says. Even people within the transportation industry don’t think of using marine to move loads.

“Our business development manager met with a large trucking company last week and they have turned down business because they didn’t know how to move the load on the road alone. They were shocked to know how easily it could be moved on water.”

Fletcher likens the process of spreading the word about the cost and environmental benefits of marine transportation to “missionary work.” A single barge can replace the capacity of 400 trucks or 111 rail cars. “Every year and every month we’re opening more doors. Eyes are opening about what can be done by water and how much money they can save.”

It has been a good year for the family-owned company, boosting shipments of aluminum ingots, coals, quartz and aggregates, while also venturing into agri-products for the first time. A test run of carrying soybeans went without a hitch, says Fletcher. That will open new doors for agri-companies to get into small ports.

McKeil has sent a number of cargo shipments of oversized tanks to the Hebron oil project in Newfoundland, and opened a new office in St. John’s this year.

The company is also building two new barges in the tiny yard town of Gloverton, N.L. The vessels will be dedicated to the Hebron oil project for two years before joining the general McKeil fleet of 20 tugs and 30 barges. McKeil, which employs about 200 people, is also doing more work in the Arctic, including being part of exploring for oil deposits on the ocean floor in the North Atlantic.

Fletcher says he expects a number of mining projects that have been put on hold because of weak capital markets will come to fruition in the next few years.

As well, 2012 brought very low water levels to the Great Lakes, which is a business opportunity for a shipping company operating barges. Ships either can’t enter ports at all or must be partially loaded when water levels are low.

And then there was HMCS Ojibwa, the last of Canada’s Cold War-era Oberon class submarines. McKeil, along with Hamilton’s Heddle Marine, were tasked with transporting the 2.8-million pound vessel down the St. Lawrence River and across Lake Ontario to Hamilton. It stayed in the harbour from May to Nov. 19, when it was moved on a special barge through the Welland Canal, first to Port Colborne and then to Port Burwell, where it is being converted into a museum.

McKeil may not get such a high-profile project next year but Fletcher says the prospects for 2014 are strong.

“We have more in our business development pipeline than we have ever had. For our existing equipment, we have more opportunities to more fully utilize our capacity, which is our first priority and we have opportunities to introduce more vessels, too.”

Kathy McKeil, head of communications for the company, says there is a new-found sense of clarity about what the company offers and how it can be presented.

“We have a very clear sense now that we can offer both transportation solutions and large projects. Those are very distinct offerings.”

Hamilton Spectator


Port Reports -  December 24

Toledo, Ohio - Denny Dushane
James L. Kuber loaded the last cargo of the season at the CSX Coal Dock on Saturday. There is no further activity scheduled for that dock as well as the Midwest Terminal Stone Dock. At the Torco Dock, Algoma Navigator unloaded on Sunday and was expected to depart sometime later in the day. Buffalo was also expected for a late afternoon arrival. Lewis J. Kuber is due to arrive early on Christmas Eve. John G. Munson will follow the Kuber on Christmas Day. CSL Laurentien is due at Torco on Thursday in the late evening. Cason J. Callaway is due on Friday late evening. Both American Mariner and John J. Boland are due at the Torco Dock on Sunday. Phoenix Star is at the Toledo Ironhead Shipyard and will be moved into the drydock very soon.

Sandusky, Ohio - Jim Spencer
CSL Niagara completed loading process Sunday evening at the NS coal dock and sailed for Hamilton, Ont. Waiting for the Niagara to depart was the Algoma Olympic which aborted an attempted entry into Sandusky Bay on Friday as the storm neared its maximum intensity.

Both vessels were delayed enroute to Sandusky; CLS Niagra anchored off Nanticoke, Ont. while Algoma Olympic - faced with white out conditions that prevented safely negotiating the narrow channel leading to the dock - sailed to Pigeon Bay on the north shore to ride out the storm which raked the lakes. She returned to the south side of Lake Erie, and early Sunday was anchored east Kellys Island, before moving to the coal dock.

Algoma Olympic was likely be the last vessel to load before the dock shut down Christmas Eve morning for the holiday. Loadings should resume on Thursday.


Senators fight to prevent disruption Great Lakes shipping

12/24 - Washington, D.C. - Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken are calling on their colleagues to support action to prevent the disruption of shipping on the Great Lakes. This year’s drought has led to low water levels on the Great Lakes that threaten to make cargo shipping – which is critical to commerce in Minnesota – more difficult.

In a letter to Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Thad Cochran (R-MS) of the Appropriations Committee, Klobuchar and Franken, along with two other senators asked that support for efforts to dredge the Great Lakes’ harbors and channels be included in legislation currently being considered on the Senate floor. Additional dredging is needed to help boats navigate the low water levels.

“The Great Lakes are a crucial artery of commerce for businesses in Minnesota,” said Klobuchar. “This year’s drought has been tough enough on our farmers and businesses, and we need to take immediate action to ensure that they can continue to use these waterways to transport their goods and lift up local economies.”

"Shipping on the Great Lakes supports thousands of jobs and hundreds of local businesses in Minnesota, and we need to make sure this critical industry isn't crippled by low water levels and insufficient dredging," said Sen. Franken. "This year's drought has put many harbors and channels on the Great Lakes at risk of becoming impassable in the months to come. I pressed my colleagues to include funding to dredge these waterways because we need to make sure our shipping industry, and the people it employs, are safe from harm."

The Great Lakes navigational system contains 139 federal harbors and waterways critical to the region’s economy. The system supports 129,000 U.S. jobs, contributes $18 billion to the economy, provides $2.7 billion in tax revenues, and saves the country $3.6 billion compared to alternative transportation modes.


Updates -  December 24

News Photo Gallery


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 Co. 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 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.

1976: The former MARIA K., of 1956, visited the Seaway in 1963. It sustained a fire in the engine room as c) ASTYANAX at Abidjan, Ivory Coast. The vessel was loaded with cement and became a total loss. It was scuttled in the Atlantic south of Abidjan, on November 18, 1977, after the cargo had solidified.

1977: The West German freighter MAGDEBURG began visiting the Seaway in 1959 and had made 31 voyages inland to the end of 1967. It was sailing from Hull, England, and Antwerp, Belgium, for East Africa when it ran aground at Haisborough Sand in bad weather. The ship was refloated the same day but with serious damage. It was sold for scrap and dismantling began in May 1978.

1982: TUKWILA CHIEF came through the Seaway in 1982 after previous visits as a) ESTHER CHARLOTTE SCHULTE as early as 1962. Fire broke out on board, two days out of Souris, PEI, with a cargo of potatoes. The blaze spread through the cabins and the ship was gutted. One sailor was lost but the remainder was rescued. The ship was brought to Sydney and, on September 20, 1983, was towed out into the deep waters of the Atlantic and scuttled.

1983: The Welland Canal pilot boat CISCOE was enroute to Port Dover for the winter when it lost power in heavy seas. The GRIFFON took the small ship in tow but it flipped over, broke loose and eventually sank. The 2 members of the crew were saved.

1987: The tug G.W. ROGERS left the Great lakes in November 1987 but sank at Albany, on this date during the trip south to the Netherlands Antilles. While refloated, it never made it south and was noted at Liberty Park, New York, in October 1997.

1997: The barge DUPUIS No. 10, under tow of the tug TECHNO-ST. LAURENT, sank in Lake Erie while bound from Buffalo to the Welland Canal. There were no casualties.

1999: The BARDE TEAM, enroute from Singapore with steel pipes, began taking on water, developed a list and sank in the Indian Ocean. It first came through the Seaway in 1976 as a) SAMSON SCAN and returned under her final name in 1992.

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


Port Reports -  December 23

Toledo, Ohio - Denny Dushane
The Manitowoc unloaded at the Torco Dock on Saturday. Algoma Navigator was also expected to arrive in the early evening also on Saturday for the Torco Dock. At the CSX Coal Dock the James L. Kuber was due to arrive at about suppertime on Saturday to load coal. The revised scheduled now has the Buffalo due at the Torco Dock on Sunday in the afternoon and the Lewis J. Kuber due on Christmas Eve early in the morning. Both vessels were at anchor and their ETAs could change due to the weather. Also due at the Torco Dock is the John G. Munson on Christmas Day in the morning followed by the CSL Laurentien on Thursday in the late evening hours. Cason J. Callaway is due on Friday in the late evening. On December 29 two vessels both ASC fleetmates American Mariner and the John J. Boland are both due at the Torco Dock. The Mariner arriving in the early morning and the Boland expected at lunchtime. No activity is scheduled at the Midwest Terminal Stone Dock and it appears that shipments to that dock may have ended for the 2012 shipping season. Phoenix Star is laidup at the Ironhead Shipyard and is expected to enter the drydock soon.

Sandusky, Ohio - Jim Spence
The weather delayed CSL Niagara was loading Saturday night at the NS coal dock.

Buffalo, N.Y. – Brian W.
The Algolake departed Gateway Metroport Saturday about 2 p.m. She was breaking through large incoming waves as she headed out into Lake Erie.


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.

1916: A.B. WOLVIN, a former Great Lakes bulk carrier that went to sea in 1911, sank in a gale on the Atlantic southeast of Bermuda. The crew of 26 were picked up by the BRAZIL, a two-year old Norwegian freighter.

1954: The former FEDERAL AMBASSADOR, while not a Great Lakes trader but once part of the Federal Commerce & Navigation of Montreal, foundered in the North Sea as c) GERDA TOFT

1963: The Greek passenger liner LAKONIA caught fire off Madeira with 1041 passengers and crew on board. While 132 lives were lost in the tragedy, another 470 were rescued by the freighters SALTA and MONTCALM. The latter was a regular Seaway trader beginning in 1960 and returned as b) CAPO SAN MARCO in 1971.

1986: MARINE COASTER, a Great Lakes visitor as e) EVA MARIE in the mid-1960s, was scuttled off Newfoundland.

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


Port Reports -  December 22

Duluth, Minn. - Rob Patric
Baie St Paul arrived on it first trip, entering port Friday night.

Port Huron, Mich. - Bruce Hurd
The refueling tanker William L. Warner was downbound on Friday. The vessel is reported to be relocating from Southern Lake Michigan to Detroit.

Toledo, Ohio - Denny Dushane
Algoma Navigator was due at the Torco Dock to unload iron ore pellets on Friday at 7 a.m., however she has been delayed due to the weather with no firm ETA. Manitowoc was still due at the Torco Dock to unload iron ore pellets on Friday at noon, the Buffalo is due now on Saturday at 9 p.m., and the John G. Munson due in on Sunday at 3 p.m. These times and ETAs may be subject to the weather and could change. At the CSX Coal Dock, James L. Kuber was due in on Friday at 11:30 p.m., however she may also be delayed due to the weather. No activity is scheduled for the Midwest Terminal Stone Dock. Phoenix Star is in winter layup at the Ironhead shipyard, where she is expected to go on the drydock.

Sandusky, Ohio - Jim Spencer
Michipicoten sailed early Friday for Detroit upon completion of loading operations at the NS coal dock. The Algoma Olympic eased alongside the dock a few hours later and was continuing to load Friday evening. CSL Niagara - expected later Friday afternoon - remained at anchor off Nanticoke, Ont., sheltering along the north shore as the first blow of the winter deepened. Three lake boats - Algoma Navigator, Capt. Henry Jackman and Roger Blough - were weathering in Pigeon Bay, offshore from Leamington, Ont. The eye of the storm passed over the U.S. Coast Guard Lifeboat Station at Marblehead shortly before 2 a.m. Friday. The barometric pressure at the time was recorded at 29.26 inches, with 20- knot southerly winds. Friday night, both the barometer and the winds had risen sharply, with 34-knot northwest gusts reported at the station.

Buffalo, N.Y. - Brian W.
Algolake was backing in for the Gateway Metroport Friday around 6:30 a.m. She tied up at the southeast end of the Lackawanna Canal to load salt.


Boatnerd 2013 cruising schedule announced

12/22 - Several cruises and gatherings have been planned by Great Lakes & Seaway Shipping ( for interested boat watchers during the 2013 season. Don't wait to make your reservations. Now is the time to make your summer travel plans.

June 1 Port Huron Gathering Cruise
Watch the Gathering Page for detaiils as they become available.

June, date TBA- Badger Boatnerd Gathering Cruise
We hope to host another Badger Boatnerd Gathering. No specific details at this time. Watch the Gathering Page for changes.

June 10-12 and 14-16 - Keweenaw Star Boatnerd Cruises, Lake Michigan to the Soo
Three-day, two-night trips from Charlevoix to the Soo on June 10-12 and 14-16. 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 buffet dinners and breakfast buffets at the casino. Call the Keweenaw Star at 231-237-9365 and make your reservation today. Limited space is available.

June 27-29 - Engineer’s Weekend St. Marys River Cruise
Arrangements have been made for the annual freighter-chasing cruise on the St. Marys River as part of the annual Engineer’s Day Gathering in Sault Ste. Marie. The cruise will be three (3) hours and we will travel thru both the U.S. and Canadian Locks, and do our best to find photo opportunities for any traffic in the river. Reservations are a must as we are limiting the group to 100 persons.

July 12-14 - Keweenaw Star northern Lake Michigan Cruise
A 3-day trip aboard the Keweenaw Star to see the lighthouses and boat traffic of northern Lake Michigan and Green Bay, including Sturgeon Bay and Escanaba. Call the Keweenaw Star at 231-237-9365 and make your reservation today. Limited space available.

August 3 - Detroit River/River Rouge Boatnerd Cruise
On Saturday, August 3, we will repeat the popular Boatnerd Detroit River Cruise aboard the Friendship, with Captain Sam Buchanan. Again this year, the cruise will be four (4) hours and will go up the Detroit River, and hopefully into the Rouge River. Pizza lunch will be delivered by the J. W. Westcott mail boat. Reservations are a must as we are limiting the group to 100 persons.

September 13-15 Annual Welland Canal Gathering
Once again, Boatnerds will gather at the Welland Canal for socializing, sharing pictures, slides and videos, plus watching the passing traffic. We will also tour International Marine Salvage and see where the boats go when they die.

See the Gathering Page for details.


Today in Great Lakes History -  December 22

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.

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.

1922: The wooden tug CORNELL was lost with all hands on Lake Erie while on a delivery voyage from Cleveland for new work on the New York State Barge Canal for the Syracuse Sand Co. A lifeboat was found with one body encased in ice four days later.

1978: MARTHA HINDMAN hit the breakwall while inbound with a winter storage cargo of grain at Goderich and tore open the hull on the starboard side. The vessel settled on the bottom but was patched, pumped out and unloaded. It returned to service in 1979 as LAC DES ILES.

1982: NETANYA began Great Lakes trading for the Zim Israel Navigation Co. in 1960. It went aground off Diamond Point, Cuba, as c) KRIOS and sustained heavy damage. It was taken over by salvors and, while refloated, only saw brief service as a barge before being dismantled.

2001: The former Fednav bulk carrier FEDERAL SKEENA (i), was too big for the Seaway. It had been sold and was sailing as c) CHRISTOPHER when it disappeared, with all 27 on board lost, in the Atlantic north of the Azores.

2004: CANADIAN PROVIDER hit the dock at Redpath Sugar in Toronto and both the vessel and structure were damaged. The ship was inactive in 2005 but returned to service in May 2006.

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


Port Reports -  December 21

Twin Ports – Al Miller
Duluth harbor was busy early Thursday with Philip R. Clarke outbound with pellets loaded at CN ore dock. Astern, St. Clair was in the turning basin headed toward the CN dock while Kaye E. Barker was fueling at the Duluth port terminal before heading to CN to load. Earlier in the morning, Mesabi Miner had departed Midwest Energy Terminal with coal. American Century was expected at Midwest Energy Terminal later in the day while Atlantic Erie and Atlantic Huron were expected to arrive later for the CN ore dock. Considering the number of vessels due there Thursday, at least one of the Canadians was expected to anchor out on the lake for a time. The Twin Ports last saltie of the season was Federal Sakura, which departed late Wednesday afternoon after loading grain at the Peavey elevator in Superior.

Toldeo, Ohio
Phoenix Star arrived at Ironhead Shipyard Thursday.

Sandusky, Ohio - Jim Spencer
Lower Lakes' Michipicoten put her lines on the NS coal dock Thursday afternoon and began loading. Two other Canadian vessels were moving through the Welland Canal at the same time, both bound for the Sandusky Bay loading dock. Algoma Olympic was posted to arrive Friday morning and CSL Niagara was slated to arrive later in the day, the building winter storm permitting. It will mark the third time in a week that the Niagara has loaded at the CS facility.


Storm expected to have significant impact on Great Lakes

12/21 - The first major winter storm of the season hammered the Midwest on Thursday, snarling travel ashore and afloat, with Lake Michigan expected to feel the worst of the storm’s wrath. Wave heights on southern Lake Michigan could run has high as 40 feet tonight, according to forecasters, with vessels staying in port or at safe anchorage. Here’s a summary of what’s expected weatherwise, lake by lake.

Lake Superior
Eastern Lake Superior, rest of today
East winds 15 to 25 knots increasing to 20 to 30 knots with a few gale force gusts to 35 knots in the afternoon. Snow. Waves 1 to 3 feet building to 4 to 7 feet. Tonight, northeast gales to 40 knots. Snow. Waves building to 10 to 14 feet.

Western Lake Superior overnight
North winds 20 to 30 knots. A few gale force gusts to 35 knots. A slight chance of snow in the evening. Waves building to 8 to 11 feet. For Friday, north winds 15 to 25 knots becoming northwest 10 to 20 knots in the afternoon. Waves subsiding to 4 to 7 feet.

Lake Michigan
Lake Michigan North, Overnight
North storm force winds to 55 knots. Snow. Waves 20 to 25 feet, occasionally to 33 feet.

Lake Michigan North, Friday
North storm force winds to 50 knots becoming northwest gales to 45 knots late. Snow showers. Waves 20 to 25 feet, occasionally to 33 feet.

Lake Michigan north, Friday night
Northwest gales to 45 knots diminishing to 35 knots overnight. Slight chance of snow showers. Waves 15 to 20 feet, occasionally to 28 feet, subsiding to 10 to 14 feet and occasionally to 18 feet late.

Lake Michigan South, Overnight
Northwest storm force winds to 60 knots with occasional hurricane force gusts to 65 knots possible overnight. Snow. Chance of rain and thunderstorms early in the evening. Waves 10 to 14 feet, occasionally to 18 feet, building to 25 to 30 feet and occasionally to 40 feet.

Lake Michigan South, Friday
Northwest storm force winds to 55 knots diminishing to gales to 45 knots late. Snow showers. Waves 25 to 30 feet, occasionally to 40 feet subsiding to 20 to 25 feet but occasionally to 33 feet.

Lake Michigan South, Friday night
Northwest gales to 45 knots diminishing to 35 knots overnight. Slight chance of snow showers. Waves 20 to 25 feet, occasionally to 33 feet subsiding to 12 to 16 feet and occasionally to 20 feet late.

Lake Huron
Lake Huron, Overnight
Southeast gales to 35 knots with gusts to 45 knots. Wind becoming east 10 to 15 knots with gusts to 30 knots overnight. Rain in the evening. A chance of rain after midnight. Waves 14 to 18 feet subsiding to 10 to 14 feet late. Maximum wave height around 23 feet.

Lake Huron, Friday
Northeast winds 15 to 20 knots with gusts to 35 knots, becoming north to 30 knots with gusts to 45 knot gales by late morning, then increasing to 35 knot gales with gusts to 45 knot gales by mid afternoon. Snow showers. Waves 8 to 12 feet, building to 14 to 18 feet by mid afternoon. Maximum wave height around 23 feet.

Lake Huron, Friday night
North gales to 40 knots. Gusts to 45 knots. Snow showers likely in the evening, then a chance of snow showers after midnight. Waves 18 to 23 feet. Maximum wave height around 29 feet.

Lake Huron, Saturday
West gales to 35 knots. Gusts to 45 knot gales. Waves 10 to 14 feet. Maximum wave height around 18 feet.

Lake Huron, Sunday
North winds 10 to 15 knots. Waves 3 to 5 feet. Maximum wave height around 6 feet.

Lake Erie
Lake Erie, Overnight
Southeast winds to 30 knots becoming south. Occasional rain showers in the evening then snow showers likely. Waves 5 to 8 feet subsiding to 4 to 6 feet.

Lake Erie Friday
Southwest winds 20 to 25 knots becoming west and increasing to gales to 40 knots in the afternoon. Occasional snow showers. Waves 3 to 5 feet building to 11 to 15 feet.

Lake Erie, Friday night
Northwest gales to 40 knots. Snow showers likely in the evening then a chance of snow showers overnight. Waves 15 to 19 feet.

Lake Erie, Saturday
Northwest gales to 40 knots, becoming west and diminishing to 10 to 20 knots late in the afternoon. A chance of snow showers. Waves 13 to 17 feet subsiding to 4 to 6 feet.

Lake Ontario

Lake Ontario, Friday night
West winds to 30 knots becoming northwest gales to 35 knots overnight. Snow showers. Waves 5 to 8 feet building to 9 to 12 feet.

Lake Ontario, Saturday
Northwest gales to 35 knots diminishing to 30 knots in the afternoon. Snow showers. Waves 10 to 14 feet.


November lake cargo numbers better, but sluggish

12/21 - Superior, Wis. – A steady year for cargo on the Great Lakes is winding down to a tired finish. Domestic shipping numbers are down 4 percent from a year ago.

Last month picked up from the Superstorm Sandy-addled October, but that was expected. Compare Great Lakes domestic cargo from last month to a year ago, and it’s off nearly 9 percent.

Coal is down 13 percent for the year but at the largest coal terminal on the Great Lakes, Superior’s Midwest Energy, President Fred Shusterich says they’re holding their own. They’ve shipped more than 14 million tons in spite of Canada ending most coal-fired energy last year.

“Canada has dried up,” Shusterich said. “That would be the 14 million, if you added eight million tons to that, that’s what we used to do to Ontario Power up in Nanticoke, Ontario. That’s why our tonnage is where it is. Europe has promise but everything is slow right now and I see that continuing into calendar year 2013.”

Iron ore leads the tonnage totals out of Duluth-Superior. Port Director Adolph Ojard says domestic trade is off slightly, but Canadian and overseas traffic is about the same or a bit better. He says next year should be about the same but a lot depends on Washington.

"I know there's a lot of anxiety out there and the quicker that Washington can get its financial house in order, the quicker industry will react to our potentially good news items and we'll see some added capacity and hopefully additional consumption,” he said.

November’s U.S.-flagged Great Lakes cargo of nine million tons is also down 4 percent from the five year average.

Superior Telegram


Today in Great Lakes History -  December 21

In 1987, 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.

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.

1908: The AMERICAN EAGLE burned at the dock in Toledo.

1963: The French freighter DOUALA foundered southwest of Newfoundland while enroute from Montreal to Bordeaux, France. The vessel had been a Seaway caller from 1961 to 1963. Twelve sailors died.

1977: The former COL. ROBERT R. McCORMICK was taken out to sea at Miami as d) LINDA and scuttled. The ship had run aground off the Florida Keys in May. Once released, it had been brought to Miami, unloaded and then was abandoned by the owners.

1989: The second ELMGLEN ran aground in the Middle Neebish Channel when ice forced the ship out of the channel. The damage was serious but the vessel's certificate was extended to June 1990 and then the ship was retired.

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


Carferry company says SS Badger will sail in 2013

12/20 - Ludington, Mich. – The SS Badger will sail next spring even if the EPA doesn’t rule by then on Lake Michigan Carferry’s request for NPDES permit, the company says. The Badger’s current permit, issued in 2008 when the EPA for the first time required it to permit the discharge, nominally expires today.

“The Badger will be running in 2013,” according to an LMC statement issued Tuesday evening in response to a Ludington Daily News question. “We continue to work with EPA so that it can issue the draft permit as soon as possible. Under EPA regulations, and the current VGP (vessel general permit), even if the permit is not issued before next season, the current permit is automatically extended until a final decision on a draft permit is made.”

The EPA has not replied to requests to confirm this scenario.

The Badger applied for the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System individual permit in May and, after providing more information requested by the EPA, the application was accepted as complete in August. The EPA, in accepting the application as complete, however did ask for more information, especially about coal ash storage. LMC provided that information in filings Sept. 21-25.

Since the summer it had been rumored that because LMC had applied for a new permit, until a decision on that request is reached LMC could operate the Badger under the old permit.

The company has shown optimism. This fall LMC had work done to the Badger’s dock and now is having repairs made to its engines.

The SS Badger discharges up to 4 tons of coal ash per day during its summer sailing season. The ash has trace amounts of mercury and arsenic but at levels, according to LMC from analysis it has had done, all were below levels that could be called toxic. LMC contends the ash is inert and, as such, is harmless. It has told the EPA in the course of a season less than an ounce of mercury is released — compared to hundreds of pounds emitted into the air by coal-burning power plants.

According to documents filed with the EPA, LMC has studied:

• storing coal ash for land disposal and projected annual additional operating costs of $705,225 to do so on top of $2.4 million to capital cost for the equipment. A different document puts the cost at $3.885 million, perhaps due to the differing storage scenarios studied. LMC notes such a storage system has never been tried on a vessel the size of the Badger.

• converting to diesel, estimated cost of $14.5 million, plus $4.1 million in additional annual fuel costs.

• converting to liquefied natural gas. The conversion cost estimate for the Badger was pegged at $7.559 million. A system to transport LNG to the docks is not currently available.

The 410-foot-long SS Badger will mark its 60th season in 2013.

Cross-lake carferry service out of Ludington has been part of the community since 1897 with only one year — 1991 —when service wasn’t available out of the Lake Michigan port. LMC bought the Badger, the SS Midland and the SS Spartan out of bankruptcy court that year and began sailing the Badger to Manitowoc, Wisconsin, in May 1992.

Ludington Daily News


Port Reports -  December 20

Marquette, Mich. - Rod Burdick
Buffalo and Manitowoc loaded ore at the Upper Harbor on Wednesday. Manitowoc's visit was her first of the season.

Grand Haven, Mich. - Dick Fox
Wilfred Sykes came in at 2:30 on the afternoon on the 18th with a load for Meekhof's D & M Dock on Harbor Island in Grand Haven.

Toledo, Ohio - Denny Dushane
Several vessels are due to arrive at the Torco Dock to unload iron ore. Due on Friday morning are Algoma Navigator, Buffalo Manitowoc. There are three vessels due on Sunday, with the American Mariner arriving early followed by afternoon arrivals of the John J. Boland and John G. Munson. Two vessels are due Christmas Day – Lewis J. Kuber in the late afternoon and the John J. Boland in the evening. Due on December 26 is the CSL Laurentien, arriving early in the morning. At the CSX coal dock, the only vessel due to load is the James L. Kuber, due on Friday in the early evening. No activity is scheduled for the Midwest Terminal Stone Dock.

Sandusky, Ohio - Jim Spencer
With the first major storm of the winter now predicted to hit Lake Erie late Thursday the self-unloader Algosoo departed from the NS coal dock Wednesday evening, her captain and crew intent upon reaching Hamilton, Ont., before the storm reaches its height. Weathermen are warning of 40 to 50 knot northwest gales on Friday with seas that may top 15 feet. Algosoo loaded last Saturday for the Canadian port, made a rapid turn-around in the Lake Ontario port and arrived back at the Sandusky dock on Tuesday.
Lake Erie water levels in the Western basin are expected to drop significantly, forcing vessels on the lake to either go to anchor or seek shelter.


Storm warnings posted

12/20  - The forecast for Southern Lake Michigan Thursday night calls for northwest storm force winds to 60 kt with occasional hurricane force gusts to 65 kt possible overnight. Snow and slight chance of thunderstorms in the evening then snow overnight. Waves 12 to 16 ft. occasionally to 20 ft building to 25 to 30 ft occasionally to 40 ft.


Year-to-date total cargo shipments through Seaway up 3 percent

12/20 - Ottawa, Ont. – The St. Lawrence Seaway shipping season is on course for a strong finish following brisk trade in grain, coal, salt and general cargo during the month of November. The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation said it was on track to increase tonnage for the 2012 season by 2 per cent.

Total shipments in November reached 5.1 million tonnes, up 10.7 per cent from the same month last year. Year-to-date total shipments from March 22 to November 30 rose to 34.6 million, up 2.7 per cent over the same period in 2011.

Bruce Hodgson, market development director, St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation said: “Seaway traffic was brisk in November with vessels carrying salt to cities to prepare for winter, coal for export for power generation in Europe; and steel, machinery and equipment for construction and manufacturing projects. Canadian grain exports have remained steady and American grain shipments picked up as low water levels on the Mississippi River diverted some shipments through the St. Lawrence Seaway.”

He added: “We are on track to meet 2 per cent growth in shipments for the 2012 season. In spite of a weak global economy, the Seaway has seen growth in a number of areas this year, most notably iron ore and coal exports and oversized cargo like wind turbines and manufacturing equipment. Marketing efforts and toll incentives have also so far attracted 2.7 million tonnes of new business this year from the establishment of new trade routes or customers.”

Salt shipments through the Seaway for the month of November rose to 595,000 tonnes, up 98 per cent over the same month last year. Year-to-date salt shipments were 2.3 million tonnes, up 1.2 per cent over the same period in 2011. Coal shipments were 529,000 tonnes in November, up 24 per cent over the same month last year. Year-to-date coal shipments were 4.2 million tonnes, up 24 per cent over the same period last year. General cargo, which includes steel imports, aluminum ingots and project cargo like heavy machinery, rose by 28 per cent in November to 334,000 tonnes. Year-to-date general cargo shipments reached 1.9 million tonnes, up 12 per cent over the same period in 2011.

The Port of Oshawa has been one of the major beneficiaries of the rise in general cargo shipments, such as steel imports. Year-to-November 30 total shipments through the port reached 395,000 tonnes, up 53 per cent over the same period in 2011. “The Port of Oshawa has seen a remarkable increase in imports of steel reinforcing bar this fall from countries like Turkey and Portugal. This steel is being used to build condos in the Greater Toronto Area,” said Donna Taylor, president and CEO of the Oshawa Port Authority.

Hamilton-based barge and tug operator McKeil Marine has also gained business from the rise in general cargo shipments on the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway system. The company has hauled aluminum ingots from Quebec to ports in Ontario and the U.S.; massive plant components and equipment from Great Lakes communities to the Vale nickel plant being built in Newfoundland; and even helped to transport a decommissioned submarine from Nova Scotia to its final resting place at a museum in Port Burwell.

“2012 has been a very strong year for McKeil Marine. We have had the opportunity to work on many heavy-lift projects including: the Vale Long Harbour Project in Newfoundland and Labrador; and, the submarine tow from Halifax to Port Burwell. In addition, we have enjoyed a steady flow of bulk and break-bulk cargo movements including a number of exciting firsts for McKeil, including transporting food products such as soy beans on our barges,” says Steve Fletcher, President of McKeil Marine Limited. “To better serve our customers in the East Coast of Canada, we opened an office in St. John's and have expanded our fleet with the addition of a new vessel. We are also working with Mammoet Canada Eastern Ltd. and the Glovertown Shipyard to build two new deck barges, which will be contracted to work on the Hebron oil project in Newfoundland. As we prepare for the 2013 sailing season and beyond we are actively pursuing a number of opportunities spread throughout our markets of the Great Lakes, St. Lawrence River, East Coast and Arctic. We are certainly optimistic about all future prospects.”

Marine Delivers


Drought could lead Chicago River to reverse course (again)

12/20 - Chicago, Ill. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced in early December that without much rain or snow this winter, the Chicago River could reverse course – for the second time.

In the year 1900, the city's civil engineers reversed the flow of the Chicago River, sending Lake Michigan water towards the Mississippi in a famously gutsy feat of engineering. As the city and its industries grew rapidly through the late 1800s, the amount of waste and contamination dumped into the river was threatening to make the lakefront unlivable and deprive Chicagoans of safe drinking water.

When the Chicago River flows in its natural direction, "what you have is a great deal of, for lack of a better word, poo, going into the Great Lakes," said Henry Henderson of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

That’s how we got the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, which served the dual purposes of diverting dirty river water away from the lake, and connecting Lake Michigan – and therefore the entire Great Lakes water basin – to the Mississippi River water system for the first time, opening up the possibility of commercial navigation between the two. Needless to say many to the south weren't happy with the new arrangement, which Henderson has described as turning Lake Michigan into "the tank that flushes our waste thousands of miles away into the Gulf of Mexico."

The new connection between the two water systems has also had unforeseen consequences in the form of invasive species, and lately environmentalists and fishing interests to the north have been calling on the Army Corps to permanently close off the link through the Chicago Area Waterway System (CAWS) in order to prevent a full-fledged Asian carp invasion. That would also restore the river to its natural flow, and force Chicago to think differently about its water infrastructure and waste treatment.

Waste treatment or not, the river might re-reverse on its own. After a long drought and one of the hottest summers ever, the water in Lake Michigan only has to go down six inches to sit below the level of the Chicago River. At that point, gravity would send the river back to where it came from.

Flowing into Lake Michigan with it: sewage runoff and only partially-treated human waste (among other things). The Chicago River has been somewhat cleaned up in recent years, but not enough to allow an uninterrupted flow back into the city’s main source of drinking water and recreational beaches.

And those suspicious swim advisories you hear about in the summer? The Chicago Park District has warned they will happen more often if the river reverses.

“Anytime you reverse the flow of the Chicago River, you want to monitor and ensure that there’s no major impacts on water quality,” said Lieutenant Colonel Jim Schreiner, Deputy Commander for the Chicago District Corps of Engineers. He said there are occasions when the Army Corps intentionally (re)-reverses the river to control flooding. All of this is manipulated by the Corps’ control over the Chicago Harbor Lock. The Army Corps is tasked both with supporting the massive shipping industry through the waterways and with helping control contamination, in partnership with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District.

If water levels hit the lowest projections, the Army Corps will regulate lake contamination by closing the locks at Chicago for longer periods. That would limit how often boats and barges pass between the two waterways. According to Lt. Schreiner, over 40-thousand vessels pass through the locks every year in about 11,500 lockages.

This strange scenario will only come to pass if the Army Corps’ lowest possible lake level projections for the winter come true; lake levels are almost always at their yearly low in late winter. If significant rain or snow hits the Michigan-Huron region in January or February, the water will still be unusually low, but it is unlikely to lead to a major change of course.



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.

1963: CORFU ISLAND, a Seaway trader in 1959, was wrecked in the Gulf of St. Lawrence at Grindstone Light, Magdalen Island. The engine broke down in heavy weather but all on board were saved.

1965: CASABLANCA went aground at Santo Antao Island, Cape Verde, and became a total loss. The small Dutch freighter had been a pre-Seaway trader in 1957.

1973: A fire broke out in the accommodation area of the MEDATLANTIC while enroute from Valencia, Spain, to Casablanca, Morocco. There was extensive damage. The ship was declared a total loss and broken up. It had been a Great Lakes trader as a) HELGA SMITH and b) MICHIGAN and was last inland in 1961.

1975: CARITA drifted ashore on Cape Breton Island after a power failure two days earlier. All on board were saved but the hull broke into four pieces. It was outbound from Thunder Bay with a cargo of peas and oats for Port au Spain, Trinidad, on its only trip to the Great Lakes.

1976: MEDUSA CHALLENGER stranded in Lake St. Clair when winds and ice pushed the ship aground.

1979: FLORES, a pre-Seaway trader in 1958, was laid up at Baia, Italy, with collision damage when it got loose and went aground during a Dec. 20-21 overnight storm and became a total loss

1985: The former Israeli freighter NAHARIYA grounded off Darien Rock, Trinidad, as f) GUAICAMACUTO and sank enroute from Venezuela to El Salvador. The ship had first come through the Seaway in 1962.

1986: The former HARALD RINDE first traded through the Seaway in 1968. It dragged anchors off Istanbul and went aground on this date as e) YAVUZ SELIM. The ship capsized Dec. 31 and became a total loss.

2005: FEDERAL KIVALINA got stuck in the ice at Lock 7 while downbound and tugs were needed to free the ship the next day.

2010: ORNA was hijacked on the Indian Ocean and taken to Somalia for ransom. The ship had been a Seaway trader as a) ST. CATHARINESS, b) ASIAN ERIE, c) HANDY LAKER, d) MOOR LAKER and e) ORNA. It was later set on fire by the pirates but eventually released when a ransom was paid. It was spotted anchored off Sharjah, on Nov. 20, 2012, and the after end appears to have been completely gutted by the blaze.

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


Baie St. Paul stops in Windsor to unload on maiden voyage

12/19 - Windsor, Ont. – The Baie St. Paul stopped in Windsor on Tuesday during a maiden voyage which began in Jiangyin, China. The vessel is the first of four new Trillium Class self-unloading lake freighters operated by Canada Steamship Lines to enter the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway System.

It docked at Southwestern Sales Corporation to unload ballast stone from China at the gravel company’s riverfront location in Brighton Beach.

“We are very excited to have this vessel come to our operation,” said Jack Frye, vice-president of Southwestern Sales. “It is a sign of a new improved class of vessels to come to the port.”

The Baie St. Paul arrived about 10 a.m. and unloaded throughout the day. The vessel remained at the dock Tuesday night and was reported to have a few problems unloading, the kind associated with a new vessel on its first trip.

Baie St. Paul won the 2012 Bulk Ship of the Year award in Hamburg, Germany recently. The award goes to the most outstanding individual or newly built bulk ship.

“The award recognizes the operational efficiency, design innovation, superior safety and environmental features that set the Baie St. Paul apart from other vessels,” said David Cree, CEO of the Windsor Port Authority. “This is the future of shipping in the Great Lakes and we are very proud she is making the Port of Windsor her first discharge port.”

The vessel departed shortly before 11 p.m. and is heading to Duluth to load its first cargo.

Windsor Star and BoatNerd


Port Reports -  December 19

Marquette, Mich. - Rod Burdick
Lewis J. Kuber loaded ore at the Upper Harbor on Tuesday for the first time this shipping season.

Sandusky, Ohio - Jim Spencer
CSL Niagara completed loading Tuesday afternoon and sailed for Hamilton, Ont. Algosoo was scheduled to begin loading overnight.


HMCS Athabaskan tow departs for Halifax

12/18 - HMCS Athabaskan has its sights set on returning to Halifax for Christmas. The Iroquois-class destroyer departed under tow Tuesday evening after undergoing repairs at Seaway Marine & Industrial Inc. since April. Athabaskan is under tow to Halifax as all work could not be completed in Port Weller before the closing of the Welland Canal.

Athabaskan has served with the Royal Canadian Navy since 1972, in that time Athabaskan has supported NATO Missions in the Atlantic, patrolled the Persian Gulf during Iraq/Kuwait war, assisted in disaster relief in New Orleans efforts following Hurricane Katrina, and aided with disaster relief following the earthquake which rocked Haiti in 2010.

Cody Law


Winter heads for lakes as storm expected to delay shipping

12/19  - A significant low-pressure system will move northeast to near Chicago by midday Thursday, bringing gale and storm-force winds that will send ships to protected anchor or hold them at docks.

Lake Michigan will be affected the most by the storm. Thursday’s forecast calls for east gales to 35 knots, becoming northeast gales to 45 knots with snow and waves 4-7 feet, occasionally reaching 10 feet. Thursday night expect storm-force winds from the north to 50 knots with snow and waves from 6-9 feet, occasionally building to 13-24 from late evening on.

The forecast for Friday calls for storm-force winds from the north to 50 knots, northwest gales to 45 knots in the afternoon. Snow showers. Waves 14-18 feet, occasionally to 24 feet, subsiding to 10-14 feet and occasionally to 18 feet. Friday night, expect northwest gales to 45 knots, diminishing to 30 knots overnight with a chance of snow showers. Waves 8-12 feet, occasionally to 16 feet.

On Saturday, the forecast calls for northwest winds 15-25 knots with a chance of snow showers and waves 4-7 feet, and occasionally to 10 feet.

The storm is expected to hit Lake Erie Friday and will likely cause water levels in the western basin to fall as westerly gales to 40 knots push the water to the east end of the lake. Winds will then become northwest and increase to storm-force winds to 50 knots Friday afternoon. Waves 10-14 feet building to 17-22 feet.

Saturday, northwest gales to 45 knots becoming west and diminishing to 10-20 knots in the afternoon. Waves 15-20 feet subsiding to 3-5 feet.


Captain of last international ship to leave Milwaukee shares his story

12/19 - Milwaukee, Wis. – The Port of Milwaukee bid farewell this month to its final international visitor of the season. The Federal Ems deposited a load of steel and then hurried off to other Great Lakes ports – needing to pass through the St. Lawrence Seaway before it closes for winter.

Before the ocean-going vessel departed, I visited Captain Andrzej Lasota to learn about life at sea. I climbed aboard the Federal EMS via a narrow staircase. A crewman logged my name on a clipboard as I stood on the deck that’s longer than two football fields. Next, he escorted me to the captain’s office. I was huffing and puffing after climbing four stories to get there.

Lasota was dressed in dark pants and a white shirt with epaulets on the shoulders. He offered me a seat on a blue upholstered sofa, especially cozy as icy rain dripped off the porthole windows.

The captain has worked and lived on the water a long time - he began his sailing career at age 14, as a maritime cadet in his native Poland. "Since then, no breaks, 42 years at sea, including school," he told me.

Lasota has piloted vessels ranging from fishing factories in the Bering Sea – ships that process their catch – to cargo ships visiting ports in South America. Yet, the captain says sailing the Great Lakes takes a special level of expertise. "You have to be prepared for locks and shallow waters," he said.

The 10-year-old ship is outfitted with sophisticated gear to help the xaptain and crew navigate anywhere in the world. The equipment is located on the bridge, one story above Lasota’s quarters. He says he’s never far away. "I can go sleep and after a half hour they have a right to call me back there, if there is something to do, that’s captain’s life," he said.

LaSota and his crew work on the boat for six months, get four months off, then return to duty for another six months.

"It’s tough work," he said.

"First of all, separation. These days it’s no big deal you can pick up phone, you can talk with family, you can have internet, things like that. But, if you go back 10 years, then it was only letters, and if not you haven’t any communication with your family, nothing," he recalled.

LaSota says his long absences from home mean his wife heads the family, while it depends on the money he sends.

Because the crew spends months on the water, there are places aboard for recreation. A small living room features a large, flat screen TV and sofas. Then there’s an exercise room equipped with treadmills and weight benches. The captain says he sometimes organizes group activities.

"We do exercises, we’re watching something, we’re playing something, just to keep fit. Most people, read for free time, which is very short in the moment, as I told you on the lakes, it is usually 12 hours work," Lasota said.

He describes the job as more demanding now than in years past.

"It is a rush. Before, loading was three days, discharging four days. These days the same cargo is 18 hours loading and let’s say 24 hours discharging. Time is money, they’re paying and they want it quickly," he said. The fast turnaround in most ports means the Lasota’s international crew does not usually get to shore.

"At the moment (the crew) is three Polish guys, one Russian and 18 Filipinos, a total of 22. You have to also remember that when you manage the crew that there are different cultures, they even eat different than you," he said.

For instance, Lasota says the Filipino sailors cook rice for their meals, whereas the Europeans prefer bread. Despite different nationalities, Lasota says, language does not present a problem.

"Our official language is English of course, and between them other nations speak their own language. I talk with Polish guys in Polish, Russian guy in Russian, because I know perfect Russian, I was in Russian navigation school. And with the Filipinos, I use English," Lasota explained.

The crew must work as one to tackle not only the ship’s loads, but also its housekeeping needs. They seem to have mastered the art of cleaning – everything I saw aboard the vessel from the engine room to the brass edges on stairs was spotless.

Captain Lasota seems to relish it all. I asked the 56-year-old if he’s thinking of retirement.

"Nope, what should I do as retired guy? I’m used to wake up and work, wake up and work. So (shrugs), I don’t know how long more," he told me.

Years ago, sailors visiting the Port of Milwaukee made a beeline for a popular stop on Jones Island. The “Seamen’s Club” was a welcome retreat for crewmen who spent most of their time on the water.

Jeff Fleming is spokesman for the Port of Milwaukee. He says the Seamen’s Club closed years ago, as the industry changed.

Bob Bach, WUWM Milwaukee Public Radio


South Haven shipwreck City of Green Bay exposed; group seeks support to raise, preserve wreck

12/19 - South Haven, Mich. – Just one crew member survived when the City of Green Bay, battered by waves and hurricane-force winds, was driven into Lake Michigan's shore south of South Haven more than 100 years ago.

Six others perished in the Oct. 3, 1887, shipwreck, and the remains of the vessel have been at the bottom of the lake ever since, protected in the Southwest Michigan Underwater Preserve in about 5-10 feet of water.

Historically low water levels, however, have exposed portions of the City of Green Bay to the elements, and a group of South Haven residents is concerned that the wind and shallow waves will eventually tear apart what's left of the ship. Led by Maureen Lewandowski, they hope to preserve the site, and will be holding meetings to gain support for the effort.

“One can see the limitless possibilities that are available to teach and inspire our youth,” Lewandowski said in an email.

The informal meetings are planned for 2-4 p.m. Dec. 16 and 19 at South Haven Charter Hall, with another pair of meetings at the same location set for 10 a.m.-noon and 2-4 p.m. on Dec. 17.

Currently, it’s illegal to remove any part of a shipwreck from the lake, because they are considered state property. However, the Lottie Cooper in Sheboygan, Wis., was raised in 1996 because of its historical importance and as an attraction for tourism to the community.

“To save a shipwreck, one has to involve the whole community, region and state,” Lewandowski said.

But there are others who think the best place for the City of Green Bay is its resting spot at the bottom of the lake.

“When you bring water-logged wood out of the water, it becomes soggy,” Valerie Van Heest, Director of the Michigan Shipwreck Research Associates, said. “I have nothing against this woman’s effort, it is just that it is a hopeless effort when you consider in the last 50 years, only two shipwrecks have been raised.”

Van Heest said that both the Lottie Cooper and the Alvin Clark, raised 1969 in Green Bay, were much more intact, and more significant historically than the South Haven shipwreck. Van Heest said a major permit would need to be granted from the State of Michigan to raise the ship.

“In my opinion, she is proposing a multi-million dollar project,” Van Heest said. “On land, a shipwreck will deteriorate faster. In the past, the Alvin Clark cost $100,000 and it only lasted 25 years.”

But Lewandowski pointed out that new preservation techniques are available.

“I think technology has come a long way,” Lewandowski said. “It’s a great opportunity to bring the community together.”

For more information on raising the City of Green Bay, email For more information on Great Lakes shipwrecks visit


Today in Great Lakes History -  December 19

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.

1959: The British freighter ALBANO, which had made three trips through the newly opened Seaway earlier in the year, ran aground at Rethymo, Crete, in heavy weather and was not refloated until December 27. It received extensive hull and engine repairs and was back on the Great Lakes in 1960.

1980: The tanker LAKESHELL (iii) went aground at Telegraph Rock, near Parry Sound, due to high winds and ice. The vessel was lightered to IMPERIAL SARNIA and released December 21.

1998: SHURA KOBER first came to the Great Lakes under the flag of the USSR in 1971. The vessel went missing on the Mediterranean north of Cyprus as d) MARELIE after sending out a distress call. It disappeared with all hands.

2006: SELNES came through the Seaway in the 1980s after having been inbound as a) RISNES in 1978. The ship went aground off Stafnes, Iceland, as c) WILSON MUGGA and the crew were rescued by helicopter. It was expected to be broken up on location but was salvaged and repaired. It returned to service as d) KARIM in 2007 and became f) RAKAN M. in 2011.

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


U.S.-flag laker cargos down 8.7 percent in November

12/18 - Cleveland, Ohio – U.S.-flag Great Lakes freighters carried 9.2 million tons of dry-bulk cargo in November, a 6.6 percent increase over October’s total that was noticeably impacted by Hurricane Sandy. However, compared to a year ago, the U.S.-flag float was down by almost 9 percent. November’s loadings were also 4 percent below the month’s 5-year average.

Iron ore cargos for the steel industry totaled 4.1 million tons in November, a decrease of 11.8 percent compared to a year ago. At 2.3 million tons, coal cargos registered a slight increase, but loadings of aggregate and fluxstone fell 14.4 percent to 2.2 million tons.

Through November, U.S.-flag cargos stand at 81.6 million tons, a decrease of 4.1 percent compared to the same point in 2011, and 2 percent below the 5-year average for the January-November timeframe. Iron ore cargos are down by 4.4 percent compared to a year ago. Coal has slipped by more than 13 percent, but limestone cargos are still up by 3.7 percent, or 750,000 tons.

Lake Carriers' Association


MacArthur Lock closed for season

12/18 - The tug Empire State finished out the MacArthur Lock's operation season for 2012 and work began December 17 to prepare for dewatering the lock for routine inspections and maintenance.

Detroit District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers


Port Reports -  December 18

South Chicago - Brian Z.
Arthur M. Anderson arrived at KCBX Dock late Sunday night to load coal for Escanaba, Mich. Loading was completed early afternoon on Monday and the Anderson quickly departed. Algorail was also spotted outbound late morning after discharging a salt cargo upriver.

Sandusky, Ohio - Jim Spencer
Herbert C. Jackson was an early afternoon arrival at the NS coal dock. She continued loading for Detroit's Zug Island Monday night. The CSL Niagara was expected to begin loading for Hamilton early Tuesday, having delivered an earlier cargo of NS coal to the Lake Ontario port on Saturday.

Toronto, Ont. - Jens Juhl
Monday morning the Toronto Port Authority derrick 50 and the tug M.R. Kane removed the navigation buoys from the inner harbor. The Port Authority tug William Rest remains idle with mechanical issues.


Baie St. Paul makes first trip through the Welland Canal

12/18 - On Monday the new Canada Steamship Lines’ self-unloader Baie St. Paul was upbound in the Welland Canal on her first trip trading on the Great Lakes. Upon departing Lock 7, the master blew boatwatchers a 3 long and 2 short salute.

Bill Bird


Jim Fryan, long-time owner of Goodtime Cruise Line, passes away

12/18 - Cleveland, Ohio – Captain Jim Fryan, long-time owner, skipper and bandleader of the popular Goodtime Cruise Line, used to tell passengers, "We're not here for a long time. We're here for a Goodtime." Fryan died Friday at the Cleveland Clinic after a heart attack. He was 75.

He was the second of three generations of Fryans who have guided some 5 million students, tourists, wedding parties and other fun-lovers along Cleveland's river and shore, helping to make the waterfront a hotspot.

"It was such a desolate place for more than 30 years," Fryan told The Plain Dealer in 1995. "Sometimes now I'll stand down there and look around, and it's hard to believe I'm in Cleveland."

Joe Roman, head of the Greater Cleveland Partnership, the region's tourism bureau, said, "He probably gave 95 percent of Clevelanders their first view of the city from the north. You cannot truly get a perspective on our lake and its importance to the community until you're out there."

Fryan hosted many celebrities on board. Robert Redford held an environmental news conference there. Willard Scott once broadcast from the deck. Peter Jennings broadcast twice.

One of Fryan's ancestors captained a whaleboat off New England. His father, Vince, and uncle, Herb Fryan, started the Goodtime line in 1958 on polluted water along gritty shores. Rick Fryan, Jim's son and second in command, said the family asked a few landowners to clean up over the years, and passengers' stares may have encouraged the rest. The family has won awards from the Early Settlers Association and the Cuyahoga River Community Planning Organization.

Jim Fryan moved around Northeast Ohio as a child and earned a high school equivalency degree. He spent three years with the Army at Fort Dix, N.J., and Fort Bragg, N.C. He spent 23 years running the family's Fryan Audiovisual Co. in Willoughby. He also chaired the Gasoil drilling company and owned Saybrook Gun Shop and Frontier Lake Campsite in Jefferson. He lived in Euclid and the Ashtabula County community of Rock Creek.

By 1984, "I needed a career change," he later told The Plain Dealer, "and Lake Erie called to me." So he bought the Goodtime line from his family and moved to Mentor, a little closer to the ship's berth at the North Coast Harbor.

On board, he hosted field trips, office parties, club outings, dinner cruises, dance cruises and more. Hr led a band on board called the Captain and Crew. He sang, played keyboard and harmonica and bantered with the crowd. He played everything from soft rock to polkas to his favorite, "Georgia on My Mind."

In 1990, he spent $3 million for the Goodtime III. It sports three bars, two entertainment decks and room for 1,000 passengers, more than double the previous boat's capacity. He customized tours when possible. He once took a Scottish tourist past a bagpiper on a fireboat. In 1989, Fryan told The Plain Dealer, "I never grow tired of the sites on the river and the lake, no matter how often I see them."

Rick Fryan said the Goodtime will remain in the family and probably employ a fourth generation before long. His son Nicholas, 9, already helps to swab the deck and steer the ship.


Updates -  December 18

Weekly Website Updates
News Photo Gallery
Lay-up list updated


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 Penn 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, 94 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.

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.

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.

1909: Ice punctured the hull of the F.A. MEYER, formerly the J. EMORY OWEN, on Lake Erie while enroute from Boyne City, Michigan, to Buffalo with a cargo of lumber. The crew was rescued by the sailors aboard MAPLETON.

1915: The canaller PRINCE RUPERT, requisitioned for World War 1 service, was lost at sea enroute from Newport News, Virginia, to Trinidad with a cargo of coal. It foundered P: 34.40 N / 74.45 W.

1932: A fire in the coal bunker of the BROWN BEAVER, laid up at Toronto with a winter storage cargo of wheat, brought the Toronto Fire Department to extinguish the blaze.

1947: The tug EMERSON was Hull 5 at the Collingwood shipyard and completed in 1903. The ship stranded at Punta Sardegna, in the Maddalena Archipelago, as f) GIULIANOVA. The hull broke in two January 8, 1948, and sank.

1950: The tug SACHEM sank in Lake Erie and all 12 on board were lost. The hull was later located, upright on the bottom. It was refloated October 22, 1951, reconditioned and returned to service. The ship became c) DEREK E. in 1990.

1962: RIDGEFIELD, a Liberty ship that visited the Great Lakes in 1961 and 1962, ran aground at the east end of Grand Cayman Island in ballast on a voyage from Maracaibo, Venezuela, to the U.S. Gulf Coast. The hull was never removed and visible for years.

1968: The Canadian Coast Guard vessel GRENVILLE was trapped in an ice flow and rammed against the St. Louis Bridge along the Seaway. The crew was removed safely by stepping on to the bridge before the ship sank. It had been retrieving buoys. The hull received considerable ice damage over the winter but was refloated in June 1969, towed to Sorel and scrapped.

1975: TECUN UMAN visited the Seaway in 1969. It disappeared without a trace in heavy seas 250 miles east of Savannah, Georgia, enroute from Mobile, Alabama, to Port Cartier, Quebec, as b) IMBROS. All 22 on board were lost.

1985: FEDERAL ST. LAURENT (ii) collided with the Mercier Bridge in the Seaway with minor damage to both the ship and the structure. The vessel was scrapped at Chittagong, Bangladesh, as c) DORA in 2003.

Data from: Skip Gillham, 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.


Port Reports -  December 17

Lorain, Ohio – Phil Leon
Joseph H. Thompson departed Lorain about 7 a.m. Sunday after arriving overnight.

Buffalo, N.Y. – Brian W.
American Mariner came in after 8 p.m. on Saturday and continued unloading at the General Mills Frontier Elevator Sunday morning.

Seaway – Rene Beauchamp
Two new ships transited the Seaway on Dec. 15 – Baie St.Paul on her maiden trip from China via Montreal, and the research vessel Reuben Lasker, operated by NOAA and downbound on her delivery trip from Marinette, Wis., to Norfolk,Va.


Maine-based Coast Guard cutter Thunder Bay arrives for 2012-2013 ice season

12/17 - Cleveland, Ohio – A Maine-based Coast Guard cutter arrived at its temporary homeport at the Cleveland Moorings Wednesday 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 Coast Guard Cutter Thunder Bay, a 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.

“Last year, the Great Lakes area experienced an abnormally warmer winter without much ice, but the Coast Guard wants to be prepared for anything." said Cmdr. Keith Ropella, chief of the 9th Coast Guard District Waterways Management Branch. "In keeping with the tradition of having a cutter and crew from another district, we are glad the Thunder Bay crew is here to help us serve Great Lakes citizens and visitors this winter."

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.

This is the second consecutive year the Thunder Bay was selected to support the Great Lakes region's ice-breaking operations. Click here to read about their arrival in Cleveland on Dec. 12, 2011, and click here to read about their departure on March 21.

Other Coast Guard cutters from the 1st Coast Guard District, the northeastern U.S., have successfully assisted with ice breaking in the Great Lakes in the past: Coast Guard Cutter Morro Bay, homeported in New London, Conn., during the 2010-2011 winter; Coast Guard Cutter Penobscot Bay, homeported in Bayonne, N.J., during the 2009-2010 winter; and Coast Guard Cutter 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.

U.S. Coast Guard


Canadians alert Michigan, Ohio to look out for missing buoys

12/17 - Toledo, Ohio – The best friend we have on the planet is asking for a hand. Because that’s what good neighbors do, Canada should be able to rely on the folks in Michigan and Ohio to help out. The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources is searching for three missing scientific buoys that apparently worked loose from their moorings on Lake Erie.

The Lake Erie Management Unit from the province positioned the buoys in the west-central area of the lake in the spring, in places where the water is 33, 49, and 66 feet deep. When crews went out to retrieve the buoys this fall, they were gone.

What makes the buoys so valuable is that they act like bobbing, floating, 24-hour scientists for the duration of their stay in the lake.

Instruments on board take hourly water temperature readings, providing biologists with an extensive temperature profile. From that information, scientists can glean data critical to a number of on-going studies on the health of the lake.

“In particular, we are interested in what is happening above and below the hypolimnion — the boundary layer between the warmer, more oxygenated surface water and the colder, lower oxygenated water in the deeper areas of the lake,” said John Cooper of the ministry’s Fish and Wildlife Services.

Cooper said that stationary temperature recording stations like these buoys provide vital “after the fact” information, such as the timing and severity of water temperature changes during extreme weather events. These phenomena can result in the colder, less oxygenated water surging closer to the surface, often causing localized fish die-offs.

The missing buoys are about six-feet long, and on the lower end their circumference is such that it would be difficult to wrap your arms around the cylinder. They are made of hard plastic and were bright yellow when placed in the lake. Cooper said the shape of the buoys is similar to that of the green and red navigational markers that are common in many sections of the lake.

Cooper said the ministry positions six of the data-collecting buoys in Lake Erie’s Western Basin each year. Three are placed west of Point Pelee, and three to the east of Pelee, that long peninsula that juts sharply out into the lake, forming the southernmost point on the Canadian mainland.

The three buoys that were anchored west of Point Pelee were successfully retrieved by the ministry, but when crews attempted to collect the additional three buoys, they found the anchors, but the buoys and the chains with the valuable data loggers were gone.

Cooper said the Ontario DNR is not certain when the buoys worked loose from their moorings, and volatile weather events make it tough to determine just which direction the wind and waves might have carried the floating cylinders.

If the prevailing winds did indeed prevail, the buoys could have ended up on some of the remote Ontario shoreline of Lake Erie, in the Rondeau or Port Stanley areas. Steep bluffs are chiseled into the land in that region, making the search even tougher.

But since Hurricane Sandy crashed onto the scene and turned Lake Erie into a nasty, roiling mess, the plot thickens. Storm events of that magnitude could have torn the buoys loose and tossed them south toward the Ohio shoreline, or west toward Michigan. That’s where we join the search party.

Cooper said the buoys could be partially buried in the sand along the shore and tough to see. They were originally marked ‘TA 3,’ ‘TA 4,’ and ‘TA 5,’ and carried the “Ministry of Natural Resources” name and phone number, but those identifying marks could have been scraped away by rocks or rubbed off by sand.

Information collected by the buoys is valuable in the work of the Forage Task Group of the Lake Erie Committee of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, Cooper added. The province of Ontario works in conjunction with Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and New York “to monitor and measure the changes happening at the lower trophic levels of the Lake Erie food web,” Cooper said.

Agencies from the province and the four states combine their resources to track a wide range of key variables that measure changes in the lake’s ecosystem. Samples are taken throughout the late spring, summer, and early fall to record surface water temperatures, dissolved oxygen at the lake bottom, chlorophyll concentrations, zooplankton, water transparency, and total phosphorus.

“The goal is to maintain conditions in the western, central, and near-shore waters of the eastern basin [of Lake Erie] that favor fish species such as walleye, smallmouth bass, and yellow perch, and conditions in the deep, colder water of the eastern basin that favor fish species such as lake trout and whitefish,” Cooper said.

If one of the missing buoys is found in Ohio or Michigan waters, Cooper asked that a call be placed to the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources’ Lake Erie Management Unit at 519-825-4684 or an email be sent to as soon as possible.

Toledo Blade


Updates -  December 17

Weekly Website Updates
News Photo Gallery
Lay-up list updated
New Video on our YouTube Channel
Holiday Card Gallery updated


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, Wis., 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, Mich., 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, Ont., 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, Mich., 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, Mich.

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.

1957: The Great Lakes-built LAKE HEMLOCK foundered in Long Island Sound.

1964: The former T-2 tanker GOOD HOPE, operating as a bulk carrier, ran aground in a blizzard at Ulak Island, in the Aleutians, as d) SAN PATRICK. The ship had loaded wheat and cattle feed at Vancouver for Yokohama, Japan, and all on board perished. It had been a Seaway trader in 1962.

1972: THOMAS SCHULTE began Great Lakes trading in 1957 and returned through the Seaway in 1959. It was sailing as c) CAPE SABLE when it sank with the loss of 13 lives in a gale 100 miles west of La Corunna, Spain. The vessel was enroute from Antwerp, Belgium, to Algiers, Algeria, with general cargo when it went down.

1977: STADACONA (iii) went aground after clearing the Manitoulin Island community of Little Current with a cargo of ore pellets. The ship was stuck for several days.

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


Port Reports -  December 16

Marquette, Mich. - Rod Burdick
Kaye E. Barker and American Courage loaded ore at the Upper Harbor on Saturday.

Port Inland, Stoneport & Calcite, Mich. - Denny Dushane
Manitowoc loaded the last cargo of the 2012 shipping season at Port Inland on Dec. 11. Stoneport and Calcite have also concluded their loadings for the season.

Toledo, Ohio - Denny Dushane
Rt. Hon. Paul J. Martin and the Lakes Contender are due to arrive at the Torco Dock early on Sunday morning to unload iron ore cargoes. Atlantic Erie is due on Monday in the early evening, followed by American Courage, due on Tuesday in the early morning. Lewis J. Kuber rounds out the lineup at Torco on Wednesday in the mid-afternoon. There is no activity scheduled at the Midwest Terminal Stone Dock. Due at the CSX Coal Dock are the barge Ashtabula and Algoma Enterprise, both in the afternoon on Sunday. Algoma Olympic wraps up the coal dock lineup on Monday in the late morning.

Sandusky, Ohio - Jim Spencer
Algosoo loaded Saturday at the NS coal dock and sailed for Hamilton.

Toronto, Ont. - Jens Juhl
Blacky departed from Toronto at 4:30 Saturday afternoon. The Cypriot-flagged bulker delivered the last cargo of sugar to Redpath for the 2012 season.


For sale: a piece of Detroit’s past glory. Asking price: $50 million, or best offer

12/16 - Detroit, Mich. – The Belgian owners of the steam-powered Delphine, once the pride of the Great Lakes and the personal vessel of automaker Horace Dodge, is for sale at its base in Tunisia in northern Africa.

Listed at 257 feet long with a 35-foot beam and a 14.5-foot draft, the Delphine is believed to be the largest private yacht ever built on the Great Lakes. Horace Dodge, the younger of the two Dodge brothers, had it built in 1920 in River Rouge by the Great Lakes Engineering Co. He named it after his daughter.

Launched in 1921, the boat was the ultimate in luxury, with private staterooms for 20 guests and a crew of 55. The Dodge family used the boat for cocktail parties, watching boat races, and other entertainments.

But the boat has a troubled history. Horace Dodge died before the Delphine was launched. On a trip to New York in the 1920s, the vessel caught fire and sank. Raised and restored, the vessel ran aground in the Great Lakes in 1940. She was sold to the U.S. Navy during World War II and spent the war years tied up at dockside near Washington, D.C., before returning to Dodge family control after the war.

The Delphine left Detroit in the 1960s and went through various owners until 1997, when the current Belgian owners bought it and restored it to modern luxury, operating it out of Monaco as a charter vessel. A minimum one-month charter cost $1.5 million.

The owners now dock the Delphine in Tunisia and are asking 38 million euros, or just shy of $50 million at today’s exchange rate.

Interested? Go to for more information. To put in a bid, contact

William Worden, the retired director of the City of Detroit’s historic designation office, may have been the last Detroiter to ever ride on the Delphine. As a teenager in the 1960s, he was aboard as the vessel made its way down to Ecorse to be outfitted for its voyage through the St. Lawrence locks to the East Coast, where it became a training vessel for merchant seaman, one of its many roles. Worden’s father was a shipyard worker who got him aboard.

“I never got inside except in the engine room. The passenger cabins were locked up tight,” Worden said recently. But the engine rooms were done in a unique configuration, he said, a tribute to Horace Dodge’s mechanical fascination with trying new ways of doing things.

Worden noted that there are many interesting stories about the Delphine. He recalls hearing that Adm. Ernest King, the U.S. chief of naval operations in World War II, lived on the docked vessel throughout the war so he could qualify for sea pay. King did indeed use the vessel, temporarily renamed the Dauntless, as his flagship, although the story about sea pay could not be otherwise confirmed.

The Delphine spent much of its life at dockside, including at Rose Terrance, the palatial Dodge residence on Lake Shore Drive in Grosse Pointe Farms, long since demolished. That may be a reflection of how much it costs to operate a private vessel as big as a small warship.

Detroit Free Press


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.

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.

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).

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.

1939: GLITREFJELL was torpedoed and sunk in the North Sea by U-59 while sailing southwest of Norway. The vessel was newly built when it first came to the Great Lakes in 1934.

1941: The Norwegian freighter NIDARDAL, best remembered as LAKE GORIN, a World War One class laker, foundered in the Atlantic P: 56.07 N / 21.00 W enroute from Freeport, Bahamas, to Manchester, England, with sulphur.

1962: The ARISTOTELES of 1943 sank in the Atlantic 250 miles off Cape Vincent, Portugal, after developing leaks. The vessel, enroute from Detroit to Calcutta with steel, had first come inland in 1961. All on board were rescued by the Liberty ship HYDROUSSA, which had also been a Seaway trader in 1962.

1964: DONNACONA (ii) was disabled by a fire while downbound in Lake Huron and the forward cabin was burned out before a distress call could be sent. The ship was found, brought to safety and repaired.

1966: CABOT was loading at Montreal when the ship rolled on her side at Montreal and sank in 30 feet of water. Two lives were lost. It was righted on the bottom and refloated in January 1967 for a return to service. The stern of this vessel was cut off to help form CANADIAN EXPLORER in 1983 and has been part of what is now ALGOMA TRANSFER since 1998.

1975: THORNHILL (i) went aground in the St. Marys River, was lightered and released.

1979: ARCHANGELOS ran aground in the St. Lawrence while outbound from the Great Lakes with a cargo of scrap. The ship was lightered and released December 21. It had to spend the winter in the harbor at Port Weller as it was too late to depart the Seaway that year.

1980: D.G. KERR (ii), enroute overseas to Spain for scrapping, was lost in the Atlantic, after it began leaking in bad weather.

Data from: Skip Gillham, 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.


Port Reports -  December 15

Twin Ports – Al Miller
Ice is covering much of Duluth-Superior harbor as the end of the season nears. Friday morning traffic included the saltie Hermann Schoening, loading at CHS elevator in Superior. James R. Barker was due later in the morning for Midwest Energy Terminal. Overnight, the saltie Cornelia departed from the Duluth port terminal and Cason J. Callaway departed with iron ore pellets loaded at CN ore dock.

Marquette, Mich. - Rod Burdick
Michipicoten, Herbert C. Jackson and Kaye E. Barker visited the Upper Harbor ore dock on Friday.

Sandusky, Ohio - Jim Spencer
CSL Niagara remained under the loading chute at the NS coal dock Friday evening. She began loading for Hamilton at mid-day. Waiting for the Niagara to depart was the Algosoo, which arrived at the dock Friday afternoon.


Eight ships set to winter in the Twin Ports

12/15 - Duluth, Minn. – Eight ships are tentatively slated to lay up for the winter in the Twin Ports. That would be the same number as last winter, but fewer than some recent years.

“We describe the normal number as 12 or 13,” James D. Sharrow, facilities manager for Duluth Seaway Port Authority, told board members at their Thursday meeting.

Sharrow didn’t say which lakers will lay up here. That information will be released when their projected arrivals are confirmed. The shipping season for lakers runs into mid-January. The Sault Ste. Marie locks are scheduled to close at midnight on Jan. 15.

“While the number of ships is down from some recent winters, the ones that will spend the winter here are scheduled for a fair amount of work,” Sharrow said. “There is a lot of steel work being done, and steel work is notoriously labor intensive,” Duluth Seaway Port Authority Executive Director Adolph Ojard added.

Maintenance and repair work on an over-wintering laker can cost an average of between $800,000 and $1.5 million. Last winter, the Lake Carriers Association reported that major U.S.-flag operators invested more than $75 million in 56 vessels laid up at ports around the Great Lakes. That averaged out to more than $1.3 million a ship.

Duluth News Tribune


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. She spent the winter on the bottom but was released in July 1986 and taken to Contrecoeur, Quebec, for scrapping. The dismantling was finally completed at Levis, Quebec, in 1990-1991.

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, 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 of Michigan (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).


1915: The passenger and freight steamers MAJESTIC and SARONIC of Canada Steamship Lines caught fire and burned while laid up at Point Edward, Ontario.

1952: The three-masted barquentine CITY OF NEW YORK came to Chicago for the World's Fair in 1933 and was also on display at Cleveland while inland. The famous ship had been active in Antarctic exploration and the Arctic seal hunt. The shaft broke on this date in 1952 and the vessel stranded off Yarmouth, N.S. Released at the end of the month, the vessel caught fire and stranded again off Chebogue Point as a total loss.

1973: RICHARD REISS (ii) broke loose in a gale at Stoneport, Michigan, and went aground with heavy bottom damage. The ship was refloated, repaired at South Chicago, and returned to service in 1974. It has been sailing as d) MANISTEE since 2005.

1983: CARIBBEAN TRAILER spent much of the summer of 1983 operating between Windsor and Thunder Bay. It was outbound from the Great Lakes when it was caught pumping oil in the St. Lawrence. The vessel remained active on saltwater routes until arriving at Aliaga, Turkey, for scrapping on August 29, 2009.

1987: The French bulk carrier PENMARCH began regular Seaway service when new in 1974. It was also back as b) PHILIPPI in 1985 and became c) MIMI M. in 1987. The ship was attacked by Iraqi aircraft December 15 and again on December 16, 1987. It reached Bushire, Iran, December 22 with heavy damage and was ultimately sold to shipbreakers in Pakistan.

2008: ALIKRATOR began Great Lakes trading in August 1983. It was moored in the estuary at Vilagarcia, Spain, as b) DOXA when a fire broke out in the accommodations area. One life was lost and another 8 sailors injured. The ship was sold for scrap and arrived at Aliaga, Turkey, for dismantling as c) ADO on June 29, 2009.

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


Port Reports -  December 14

Alpena, Mich. - Ben & Chanda McClain
The barge McKee Sons and tug Invincible were seen leaving in the morning on Thursday. They had unloaded coal at Lafarge overnight. The Alpena arrived in port around 5:30 p.m. on Thursday to load cement. The tug G.L Ostrander and barge Integrity are expected to return on Friday.

Sandusky, Ohio - Jim Spencer
The barge James L. Kuber and tug Victory loaded Thursday at the NS coal dock. The duo sailed Thursday night.

Rochester, N.Y. - Richard Cooper
The Hojack Swing Bridge, built circa 1910 for rail traffic to cross the Genesee River, has been demolished.


Updates -  December 14

Lay-up list updated
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, 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.

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.

1977: SILVER FIR, outbound from Great Lakes on her only trip inland, went aground at Squaw Island, near Cornwall and was released two days later.

1991: The small tug HAMP THOMAS sank off Cleveland while towing a barge. They were mauled by 12 foot waves but the barge and a second tug, PADDY MILES, survived as did all of the crew.

1997: CANADIAN EXPLORER of Upper Lakes Shipping and the ISLAND SKIPPER collided in the St. Lawrence at Beauharnois with minor damage. The former reached Hamilton and was retired. The latter was repaired and resumed service. It revisited the Great Lakes as late as 2010.

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


CSL Tadoussac will be repaired in Toledo

12/13 - Toledo, Ohio – The Coast Guard continued to work Wednesday with the operator of the 730-foot bulk carrier that collided with the Torco dock at the CSX facility near Toledo Tuesday.

The crew of the CSL Tadoussac anticipated having all 27,000 tons of iron ore offloaded to the CSX facility by the end of the day and was arranging for the vessel to be relocated to the Ironhead Marine facility in Toledo so that permanent repairs can be made with the vessel in drydock.

Members from Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Toledo and Lloyd's Registry of Shipping continue to investigate the full extent of damages and mitigate environmental impact prior to the vessel's relocation to the shipyard.


Drought leaves Canadian shipping safe while Mississippi cargo could run aground

12/13 - Toronto, Ont. – Canadian shipping has clear passage while Mississippi cargo could be stuck high and dry before the end of the year as the worst drought in half a century reduces water levels across the continent.

Depths on the Mississippi and across the Great Lakes are approaching record lows, but because of geographic differences and a key winter shipping hiatus north of the border, shipping in Canada isn’t facing the same crisis that has businesses and politicians across the border scrambling for quick solutions.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is blasting rocks in shallow parts of the river because there is no water in the reservoirs left to release. “We’ve never really had a drought quite so severe as this year,” said Bob Anderson, spokesperson for the Mississippi Valley division of the Army Corps of Engineers.

Barges on the Mississippi have had to lighten their loads, reducing underwater draft by three feet to get through a shallow stretch of the river between St. Louis, Mo., and Cairo, Il. But on this side of the border, ships called lakers on the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway have only cut their drafts by six inches for the final two weeks before the shipping season closes.

“Water levels until recently did not constrain shipping on the Seaway to any extent,” said Andrew Begora, spokesperson for the Seaway. “The effect on the Great Lakes Seaway has been very modest. We have not had in any way the same impact that has held true on the Mississippi,” he said.

Environment Canada reports current water levels on all the Great Lakes except Erie are well below average, with the lowest levels on Lake Michigan and Lake Huron since records started being kept in 1918.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says levels on the Mississippi system are tying or surpassing historic records for this time of year set in 1940, before the system of reservoirs was set up to regulate flow.

The U.S. Weather Service predicts that without significant rainfall, the Mississippi will fall to nine feet, ¬ the level at which traffic is impeded, by December 26. That is around the time that the Canadian shipping route will close for the year. When the seaway opens again sometime next March, water levels will be higher with spring run-off.

But that’s not to say that Canadian shipping hasn’t been affected.

“The lower water level in Great Lakes & St. Lawrence Seaway has a big impact on the larger ships,” wrote Paulo Pessoa, Vice President of McKeil Marine Ltd, which ships cargo throughout eastern and central Canada. “Lower water levels are usually a commercial issue, hitting the ship owners' bottom line,” he added in an email to the Star.

For a typical laker that carries 26,000 tonnes of cargo, each inch of draft translates to 100 tonnes of cargo. Under the shallower draft regulations, shippers will have to run 600 tonnes lighter, he wrote.

Shipping remains a far cheaper method of transport than trucks. On the Mississippi, one barge carries the equivalent of 60 truckloads of cargo and a tow can incorporate as many as 35 barges or 2100 truckloads. On the Seaway, a typical laker carries the equivalent to 870 highway tractor-trailers or 225 railroad cars.

According to official statistics, 37.5 million tonnes of goods passed through the Seaway in 2011 ¬ a rise of 2.5 per cent over the previous year. The Army Corps of Engineers reports the Mississippi River System carried 601 million tonnes of cargo in 2011.

While worries about low water levels have pushed the Americans into action, with work being carried out up and down the Mississippi to ensure the future of shipping on the river, Canadian shipping isn’t feeling the same threat.

Satellite technology and bottom imaging is allowing ships to chart the best course through the deepest waters. Begora says even with lower water on the Great Lakes, ships are actually running heavier on average than they did 10 years ago.

Extreme weather is becoming more common, and implications for shipping on the Mississippi are great. Only last year, the Mississippi experienced record flooding, forcing the army corps to blow up a levee to reduce pressure.

“We’re starting to have 100 year floods and 100 year droughts twice a decade,” Anderson said.

Toronto Star


Port Reports -  December 13

Marquette, Mich. - Rod Burdick
Cason J. Callaway loaded ore on Wednesday at the Upper Harbor.

Erie, Pa. - Jeffrey Benson
Joseph H. Thompson and Joseph H. Thompson Jr. arrived at the Mountfort Terminal with a load of stone.


Low water exposes century-old shipwreck on Grand Haven's Harbor Island

12/13 - Grand Haven, Mich. – The remains of a wooden steamer built 125 years ago recently were uncovered in the Grand River, a surprising benefit of the historically low water levels.

The wooden sections of the 290-foot steamer Aurora, which burned in 1932, and parts of at least four other shipwreck hulks were exposed by the receding water line near the edges of Harbor Island. West Michigan maritime researchers deemed the Aurora the most significant of the finds, as it was once the largest wooden steamer on the Great Lakes.

After being alerted to the wooden pieces by area residents, Holland-based Michigan Shipwreck Research Associates (MSRA) members and officials with the Tri-Cities Historical Museum in Grand Haven investigated and surveyed the larger wreck, featuring the hull, sides and the propeller shaft cradle at the stern. The bow appeared buried and a survey by MSRA east of the visible portion revealed a structure well over 200 feet long, verifying the wreck as that of the Aurora.

Valerie Van Heest, director of MSRA and a maritime historian, said exposing a near-shore shipwreck, especially vessels that ran aground, happens on occasion with low lake levels. She wouldn’t be surprised if other wrecks are uncovered due to this year’s low levels around the Great Lakes.

“Usually, we have to go underwater to see these shipwrecks,” Van Heest said, referring to the more traditional method of side scan sonar and divers used by MSRA in discovering Lake Michigan shipwrecks.

Van Heest, Tri-Cities Historical Museum Director Kenneth Pott, who is also a maritime archaeologist, along with historians and MSRA members, are planning to continue to research the Aurora. They expect the ship to provide insight into the shipbuilding techniques and designs used more than 100 years ago.

“We’re getting a glance of 1880s construction,” Van Heest said, explaining that the wreck provides a physical record to supplement the previous written records. “The Aurora was a very significant ship when built in 1887 and it’s thrilling to be able to study its remains now.”

“Not only did the length lead to our likely identification of the vessel, but the visible portions of the hull framing supported that notion as well,” Pott said.

Researchers are being forced to move quickly, because of the impending snowy season. Van Heest said the snow already is starting to cover the wreck and heavy snowfall this winter may mean higher lake levels that would cover the wreck again.

The wreck is on public land, so people can check out the Aurora shipwreck. However, Van Heest cautioned residents to respect the wreck as if it was a crime scene.

“We ask that they respect this as an historical site,” Van Heest said. “Look, don’t touch.”

The large wreck is just east of the public launch ramp on Harbor Island.

The Aurora’s history depicts a long and significant career marked by several changes in use. The Aurora burned to the water line at Bois Blanc in the Detroit River in 1898 and the owners chose to rebuild the 11-year-old vessel into a barge. After changing ownership several times, the barge came under the ownership of Morton Salt Company in 1916 before being laid up due to an economic downturn in 1927. It was left in shallow water on the north side of Harbor Island to rot.

Erosion of the Grand River since 1932 is evident with the discovery.

“After the fire, river sediments built up over the forward half of the vessel, eventually several trees and marsh shrubs sprouted over the wreck and the river course shifted,” Van Heest said. “The current environmental changes revealed the portion that had only been covered with water.”

The Aurora is depicted in Van Heest’s latest book, "Lost and Found: Legendary Shipwrecks of the Great Lakes." The Aurora’s mention came for its role in 1898 of towing the largest schooner on the Great Lakes, the David Dows.

When launched by the Murphy and Miller of Cleveland in late July that year, the 290-foot, steam-driven propeller was the largest and most powerfully built wooden vessel on the Great Lakes. The 3,000-ton vessel was initially owned by John Corrigan of the Aurora Mining Company of Milwaukee, which paid $150,000 for its construction.

According to records detailing its construction, the Aurora was built with Kentucky oak.

At the time of the Aurora’s construction, ironed-hull ships were still in their infancy. The technology of using iron straps allowed the builders to fabricate the ship with wood.

“It is fascinating to be able to see this unique construction methodology in the flesh so to speak,” Van Heest said.

The remaining mysteries surrounding the Aurora are: Why was it brought to Grand Haven to be abandoned and was it burned intentionally?



Corps seeks comment on Port Huron train bridge demolition

12/13 - Port Huron, Mich. – People hoping to save the Port Huron train bridge can have their voices heard until Jan. 9. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued a public notice about the Port Huron Yacht Club’s application to demolish the historic bridge and wants public comment.

Interested parties must either mail or email their comments to the corps, and anyone can request a public hearing on the application.

The Port Huron Yacht Club purchased the train bridge and the 3.3 acres it sits on in December 2011, with the aim of controlling the site and an eye on future development. According to the application, the yacht club intends to sell the bridge itself for scrap after removal and build a new 64- by 32-foot deck with enclosed railings at the site.

Some people have rallied to preserve what they see as a historic piece of the Port Huron skyline.

More than 690 people have signed a petition on asking the State Historic Preservation Office to stop the demolition permit. The Army Corps of Engineers has to consult with the State Historic Preservation Office before authorizing the demolition of the potentially historic landmark.

The train bridge was built in 1931 by the American Bridge Company of New York using a “special patented design that ... was only used in eight bridges in the country,” Nathan Holth, a bridge historian and preservationist, previously told the Times Herald.

According to the public notice, preliminary review of the application does indicate the proposed work would result in the destruction of the Black River Railroad Bridge and the undertaking “may have an adverse effect on the Bridge, which appears to meet the criteria for listing in the National Register of Historic Places.” The bridge is not listed on the National Register of Historic Places at this time.

Colette Luff, a project manager with the Army Corps of Engineers, said the corps typically has a determination on permit applications within 120 days of receiving a complete application, but that time line will not necessarily hold true for the train bridge.

“This one has historical issues, so we will have to comply with the ... Historic Preservation Act,” she said. “That is procedural and will take more time.”

Dan Collins, commodore of the Yacht Club, said rumors the club had hired a contractor for demolition are false. “I have no idea where that came from,” he said. “We have hired a local engineering firm, BMJ Engineers and Surveyors from Port Huron, to do the engineering survey work required by the permitting process. But we have not received a permit to remove the bridge.”

Port Huron Times Herald


Updates -  December 13

Lay-up list updated
Holiday Card Gallery updated


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.

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.

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.

1899: BARGE 115 broke loose of the towing steamer COLGATE HOYT in northern Lake Superior and drifted for 5 harrowing days before it stranded on Pic Island on December 18. While feared lost with all hands, the crew managed to come ashore in the lifeboat, found their way to the rail line and hiked to safety. They were found December 22.

1906: JOHN M. NICOL was loaded with barbed wire when it stranded off Big Summer Island, Lake Michigan. The crew was rescued by fishermen in a gasoline-powered launch but the ship broke in two as a total loss.

1916: BAY PORT, a whaleback steamer built at West Superior as a) E.B. BARTLETT in 1891, struck bottom in the Cape Cod Canal enroute to Boston with coal. The ship was refloated but sank again December 14 blocking the entrance to the canal. All on board were saved. The hull had to by dynamited as a hazard.

1939: The Russian freighter INDIGIRKA went aground in a blizzard off the coast of Japan while trying to enter Laperouse Strait, near Sarafatsu, Japan. The ship rolled on its side and was abandoned by the crew. It was carrying fishermen and political prisoners. A reported 741 died in the cargo holds after being left behind. Only a few were still alive when salvagers returned after the storm had subsided. The vessel had been built at Manitowoc, WI in 1919 as a) LAKE GALVA and was renamed b) RIPON before leaving the lakes the next year.

1965: The Liberty ship PONT AUDEMER made one trip through the Seaway in 1960. It was abandoned by the crew as d) VESPER following an engineroom explosion on the Mediterranean enroute from Marseilles, France, to Abidjan, Ivory Coast. The vessel arrived at Cartagena, under tow on December 18, 1965. It was sold to Spanish shipbreakers and left for Villanueva y Geltru for dismantling on May 18, 1966.

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


CSL Tadoussac strikes pier, causing a puncture in tank

12/12 - Toledo, Ohio – The Coast Guard is responding to a report of an oil sheen and a damaged vessel in the vicinity of the Maumee River, after the CSL Tadoussac collided with a dock in Toledo.

The CSL Tadoussac suffered a puncture in its starboard stern bunker tank when it backed into the pier of the Torco dock at the CSX facility just before 8:30 a.m. The vessel was reportedly carrying 27,000 tons of iron ore. It is owned by CSL Group, based in Montreal.

Crewmembers aboard the CSL Tadoussac immediately started pumping fuel out of the punctured tank and into another of the ship’s tanks in order to bring the fuel level below the puncture mark. The discharge of fuel was stopped at about 10:15 a.m. The amount of fuel that leaked from the ship is unknown at this time.

At 8:24 a.m., the master of the ship notified a watchstander at Coast Guard Sector Detroit about the allision at the CSX Toledo Ore Dock. The master also immediately notified the National Response Center of the fuel oil leak. Sector Detroit then notified response teams and accident investigators from Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Toledo, Station Toledo and the Toledo Fire Department.

There were no reported injuries to any personnel and there was minor damage to the dock.

Approximately 800 feet of oil containment boom has been stretched across the Torco dock slip and is currently containing the oil sheen within the slip to assist with clean up. The O'Brien's Response Management Inc. has been contracted to clean up the fuel spill and is currently on scene working with the Coast Guard and other local responders.

"The Coast Guard is working with O'Brien's Response Management Inc. and our local response partners to mitigate any potential environmental damage to the Maumee River," said Lt. John Adkins, executive officer of Marine Safety Unit Toledo.


Joseph L. Block in for early layup

12/12 - Shortly before noon on Tuesday the Joseph L. Block arrived at Bay Shipbuilding for winter layup. The Block is usually the last in for layup, this year she was the first, as she arrived for drydocking and five-year survey.

Wendell Wilke


Port Reports -  December 12

Twin Ports – Al Miller
Winter arrived in the Twin Ports in earnest with a weekend winter storm followed by cold temperatures. Thin, snow-covered ice now covers much of the harbor and seemed to be causing problems Tuesday morning for American Mariner at the CHS grain terminal. The vessel had its bow pushed against the dock face but appeared to be waiting for a tug to break ice in the berth before proceeding farther. Elsewhere, Indiana Harbor was loading at Midwest Energy Terminal, Paul R. Tregurtha was squeezing into the port terminal to fuel and then wait for the Midwest Energy Terminal berth. Ahead of the Tregurtha, the Cornelia was docked to continue its unloading. The Calumet was expected later in the morning with salt for Hallett 8.

Sandusky, Ohio - Jim Spencer
Interlake's Herbert C. Jackson, a frequent visitor, arrived at the NS coal dock late Tuesday afternoon. She was expected to load overnight for Dearborn, where she delivered a load of iron ore on Monday.

Toronto, Ont. - Jens Juhl
The motor vessel Tufty is presently in the final stage of unloading sugar out of holds 5 and 6 at Redpath. Earlier Tuesday afternoon the bulk carrier did the end-for-end turn around with the assistance of the tugs Ocean Golf and M.R. Kane


Port of Cleveland welcomes Federal Satsuki

12/12 - Cleveland, Ohio. - Montreal-based Fednav Group, owner of Federal Marine Terminals, Inc. (FMT), the leading terminal operator at the Port of Cleveland, has delivered three new state-of-the-art vessels to trade on the Great Lakes-Seaway System.

Federal Satsuki, arrived at Federal Marine Terminals, Cleveland, this week from Europe, carrying steel for the coal mining, automotive, and cosmetic industries and machinery for the food industry. After unloading its cargo in Cleveland, the vessel will load grain in Toledo for export to Northern Europe.

The new ship was welcomed Tuesday in a special gift-exchange ceremony between Port of Cleveland officials and Fednav executives, on the occasion of its maiden voyage to the United States.

The Federal Satsuki adds to Fednav’s fleet of Seaway-sized bulk carriers that regularly transport cargo such as steel and specialized cargo from overseas into the Great Lakes, while shipping U.S. and Canadian grain, along with other bulk materials, to foreign markets. The first and third vessels of the series arrived in the Great Lakes in 2011 and in October 2012, respectively. In addition, Fednav has ordered six new vessels from Japan’s Oshima shipyard, bringing to nine the number of new Lakes ships delivered or ordered since 2011.

Privately owned Fednav Group is the largest ocean-going user of the St. Lawrence Seaway, with an average of 100 voyages each year. From Paul Pathy, President and co-CEO of Fednav Group: “We are increasing the capacity of our fleet in the Great Lakes because we believe that there are opportunities in the region, and we are very positive about the long-term significance of the St. Lawrence Seaway. It remains the most economical and environmentally friendly way to move bulk cargo to and from the North American heartland.”

The Federal Satsuki has been built with the latest technology, which brings a number of environmental benefits:

• The vessel is 12 percent more fuel efficient than Fednav’s previous class of ships, which were already among the most efficient of their generation, and will save 770 tonnes of fuel per year, while preventing the emissions of 2,500 tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere per year—the equivalent of planting close to 5,000 trees.

• The Federal Satsuki and its sister ships are equipped with Tier II engines, which reduce nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions that contribute to acid rain formation and global warming. Fednav committed to the installation of these types of engines a full two years before international regulations required it for new ships.

• The design incorporates more powerful ballast pumps and enough space to enable the installation of ballast water treatment equipment. This equipment, which will be installed once the U.S. Coast Guard sets the type approval of equipment for the cold fresh water of the Great Lakes, will further eliminate the risk of introducing invasive species.

Mr. Pathy explained: “The environment is one of our top priorities when we consider the design of a new vessel. It is important to us and also to our customers that our vessels are as fuel efficient as possible. This fuel efficiency, along with new engine technology, significantly reduces air emissions.”

At a shipboard ceremony, Will Friedman, President and CEO of the Port of Cleveland, presented a commemorative gift to Federal Satsuki Captain Boben Kocherry.

“The Federal Satsuki’s maiden call to a U.S. port, and Fednav’s investment in this new line of more efficient, greener ships signals a bright future for international shipping on the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway System,” said Will Friedman. “It also underscores the importance of the trade to the local economy and North American economy. We commend Fednav for its long-standing and continued commitment to Great Lakes Seaway maritime commerce and look forward to many more years in partnership.”


2012 Saginaw River shipping season on par with 2011

12/12 - Bay City, Mich. – After several years of declining traffic, shipping on the Saginaw River is holding steady.

Saginaw River watchdog Todd Shorkey said the 2012 shipping season is right on par with 2011, when ships made 138 passages on the river. "Shipping held it's own this year," Shorkey said. "I take it as a positive that it didn't decrease like it did the last five or six years."

Shipping on the Saginaw River has declined more than 60 percent since 2005, when ships made 347 passages.

Tug Olive L. Moore and the Lewis J. Kuber barge made their 48th trip up the Saginaw River on Monday, Dec. 10, to deliver coal to General Motors Saginaw Metal Casting Operations. The two ships have made more trips up the Saginaw River than any others in 2012, Shorkey said.

Since the beginning of December, ships have made four passages up the Saginaw River, Shorkey said, and the month tends to be a slow one as the shipping season winds down. Still, ships can make trips after the season ends later this month, they just have to make arrangements ahead of time, Shorkey said.

Shorkey said his year-end shipping report, which includes each ship that visited, the cargo it carried and the dock where it was unloaded, will be complete once the season comes to an end.

While traffic hasn't changed much this year, ships weren't able to carry as much cargo as they have in years past, Shorkey said, as low water levels are making it difficult for load-bearing vessels.

According to the U.S. Army Corps. of Engineers, water levels are nearing historic lows throughout the Great Lakes. Glen Nekvasil, vice president of the Cleveland-based Lake Carriers' Association representing American vessels that travel on the Great Lakes, said overall, shipping has been up and down in 2012.

Shipping of iron ore is slightly ahead of 2011, Nekvasil said, but coal shipments are slipping as Canada phases out the use of the material to generate power.

As the economy played its role, Mother Nature brought autumn storms that cut the shipping season a bit short.

The effects of Hurricane Sandy were felt on the Great Lakes and the Saginaw River, Nekvasil said, and ships in the Great Lakes spent nearly 2,000 hours anchored, waiting for the storm to pass, he said.

"We lost an awful lot of time," Nekvasil said. "It was not a welcome development."

M Live


Updates -  December 12

Lay-up list updated
Holiday Card Gallery updated


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.

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

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, but was salvaged and rebuilt as a barge.

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.

1898: The wooden passenger and freight carrier SOO CITY sank at the dock in Holland, Mi after bucking ice while inbound.

1925: SIR THOMAS SHAUGHNESSY stranded on a rocky shoal inside the breakwall at Fairport, Ohio. Hull repairs were listed at over $18,000.

1966: AMBROSE SHEA, a new Canadian carferry, was hit by a flash fire while under construction by Marine Industries Ltd. at Sorel, Quebec, and sustained over $1 million in damage. Completion of the vessel was delayed by 3 months before it could enter service between North Sydney, NS and Argentia, Newfoundland. The ship arrived at Aliaga, Turkey, for scrapping as d) ERG on June 22, 2000.

1972: SIR JAMES DUNN went aground in the St. Lawrence near the Thousand Islands Bridge while enroute to Sorel with grain.

1990: CLIPPER MAJESTIC was abandoned by the crew due to an engineroom fire off the coast of Peru. The vessel had been through the Seaway as a) MILOS ISLAND in 1981, MAJESTIC in 1989 and was renamed c) CLIPPER MAJESTIC at Toronto that fall. The damaged ship was towed to Callao, Peru, on December 13, 1990, and repaired. It also traded inland as d) MILLENIUM MAJESTIC in 1999 and was scrapped at Alang, India, as e) MYRA in 2012.

2009: The Canada Steamship Lines bulk carrier SPRUCEGLEN (ii) went aground near Sault Ste. Marie and had to go to Thunder Bay for repairs.

2010: The tug ANN MARIE sank in the Saginaw River while tied up for the winter. It was salvaged a few days later.

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


Lakes limestone trade down 11.4 percent in November

12/11 - Cleveland, Ohio – Shipments of limestone on the Great Lakes totaled 2.9 million tons in November, a decrease of 1.7 percent compared to October, and 11.4 percent below the level of a year ago. The November stone float was also 12 percent off the month’s 5-year average.

Shipments from U.S. ports fell 12.3 percent in November. Loadings at Canadian quarries slipped by 7 percent. Shipments were impacted in the first days of the month by some delays related to Hurricane Sandy.

Year-to-date the Lakes limestone trade stands at 26,350,706 tons, a decrease of 330,000 tons or 1.3 percent compared to a year ago. Compared to the 5-year average for the January-November timeframe, the trade is down 1,655,000 tons, or 5.9 percent.

Lake Carriers Association


Port Reports -  December 11

Holland, Mich. - Bob VandeVusse
Manistee delivered a load of stone to the Verplank dock Sunday, arriving at about 9:30 p.m. It is expected that this will be the final load of the year for Holland.

Buffalo, N.Y. - Brian W.
English River was towed in Monday afternoon around 4:30 for Lafarge.


Federal Satsuki: Cleveland ready for new class of ships

12/11 - The Federal Satsuki will squeeze through the Welland Canal sometime today (Tuesday) and steam into the choppy waters of Lake Erie, angling toward Cleveland. She's expected to reach the Port of Cleveland Tuesday night, bearing specialty steel from northern Europe and something more. The imposing red ship brings tidings of a new era of maritime commerce on the Great Lakes.

Montreal's Fednav Group, the busiest international shipper on the St. Lawrence Seaway, commissioned the $25 million freighter and eight others like her to meet what it expects to be a rising tide of exports from Ohio and the industrial Midwest.

As bulk cargo carriers go, the Japanese-built Satsuki is sleeker, cleaner and more nimble than any of the "salties" that sailed the lakes before her. She can thread the seaway with 25,000 tons of steel, grain or machinery in her belly, sail farther on less fuel and break through ice if she needs to.

Local maritime enthusiasts say that is something to celebrate. Port officials and civic leaders plan to salute the Satsuki and her maiden Great Lakes voyage at an onboard ceremony Wednesday morning. "It's really good news for us because it shows that shipping companies like Fednav have a lot of confidence in the Great Lakes and the Saint Lawrence Seaway," said Will Friedman, president of the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority. "It shows their confidence because they're building these vessels for this trade."

All the Great Lakes ports suffered when container shipping rose to dominance and the seaway's locks became too narrow for massive ocean freighters, which typically unload at East Coast ports. But trade on the lakes has been picking up of late, thanks in part to increased demand for steel as the world pulls out of recession. Now, a new generation of seaway-size, oceangoing freighters adds to the possibilities.

"An investment of this size is pretty remarkable," said Craig Middlebrook, the acting administrator of the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corp., which runs the U.S. portion of the nautical highway. "This hasn't happened in at least a generation."

Other international shippers are also adding to the Great Lakes fleet, displaying a new faith in the seaway and the ports it serves, Middlebrook said. Paul Pathy, the co-chief executive officer of Fednav, said his company is investing in an enticing future.

The Pathy family founded Fednav 68 years ago and began shipping on the Seaway the year it opened, in 1959. Today, the privately-owned company is Canada's largest bulk carrier and the busiest international shipper on the Great Lakes.

Fednev owns and operates warehouses and shipping operations up and down the freshwater coasts, including the Federal Marine Terminal at the Port of Cleveland. Meanwhile, it sails about 80 ships worldwide, both lakers and salties. Recently, it embarked upon a major upgrade of its Great Lakes fleet.

The company this year christened the Satsuki and two sister ships. It has six other seaway-size freighters on order, part of a $200 million re-investment in the Great Lakes maritime trade.

"I just think the times are changing," said Paul Pathy, who co-directs Fednav with his brother, Mark. "I think the U.S. manufacturing will return to the Midwest." Pathy said his new ships will bring in specialty steel and haul out wheat and corn, much as they have for decades. But he also expects that freight to include more manufactured goods -- car parts, airplane parts, industrial machines and wind turbines -- as states like Ohio become more export-driven and as the wind industry emerges in the upper Midwest.

"We're making a major investment and commitment to the seaway and our business," Pathy said. "We're taking the long view. That's the benefit, I think, of being a family-owned company."

People who go down to the waterfront Wednesday will see a ship similar in size and silhouette to the current generation of salties. The Satsuki, or the "May" in Japanese, bears a resemblance to the William G. Mather, the former ore carrier now a maritime museum in North Coast Harbor.

The dimensions of the seaway have not changed, and neither have the ships that must pass through its locks. It's what's inside the new ship that makes the difference, Pathy said.

With more fuel-efficient engines and a sleeker design, the Satsuki burns less fuel as she slices through the Great Lakes. She also sends a smaller cloud of climate-changing greenhouse gases out of her stacks, reducing harmful emissions by about 20 percent, Fednav reports. Meanwhile, state-of-the-art environmental and safety systems begin to address some serious environmental concerns.

Ocean freighters that brought European goods to Great Lakes ports also carried stowaways in their ballast. The sea lamprey, zebra mussels and other invasive species have wrought costly environmental damages.

Saltwater ships are now required to flush out their ballast water at sea before entering the freshwaters of the seaway. But many would like to see the ballast cleaned onboard, through newly developed treatment systems.

The design of the Satsuki and her sister ships leaves room for ballast water treatment plants and the necessary power and pumps, in anticipation of such systems becoming available.

"We're ready," said Fednav spokesman Marc Gagnon. "As soon as those systems are approved by the Coast Guard, we can have them installed on our ships."

While new cargo and more innovations await her, the Satsuki is making a fairly typical run on her maiden voyage into the Great Lakes. After delivering cargo to Hamilton, Ontario, she passed through the Welland Canal, which skirts Niagara Falls to connect Lake Ontario and Lake Erie. From Cleveland, she'll continue on to Detroit, empty her hold and sail down to Toledo to pick up grain for Europe.

From the Port of Toledo, 1,500 miles from the Atlantic Ocean, the Satsuki will head out to sea, helping a routine sail illustrate the enduring marvel of the seaway.

Cleveland Plain Dealer


Twin Ports businesses rely on services to salties

12/11 - Duluth, Minn. – When the Liberian-flagged Cornelia slipped under Duluth’s Lift Bridge on Thursday afternoon, two Heritage Marine tugs were waiting. They would help turn the 574-foot-long saltie and push it to a dock at Lake Superior Warehousing, where line handlers from Guthrie-Hubner waited to secure the vessel. Later, LSW workers would busy themselves unloading the ship’s cargo of clay for papermaking.

Unlike many salties visiting the Twin Ports, the Cornelia would leave empty, heading to Thunder Bay for its next cargo. More commonly, salties leave port with a cargo of grain from one of the elevators in Duluth or Superior.

“There are a lot of businesses here tied to the salties,” said Ron L. Johnson, Duluth Seaway Port Authority trade development director.

No matter what its cargo, each saltie requires a host of services or visits from officials: tugs, pilots, line handlers, dockworkers, guards, governmental inspectors and fumigators.

A 2011 study of the economic impacts of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway found that Twin Ports maritime commerce supports more than 11,500 jobs in Minnesota and Wisconsin, generated $1.5 billion in direct business revenue, $156 million in state and federal taxes, and more than $545 million in wages and salaries. While no one has apparently worked out the average economic impact of a visiting saltie on the Twin Ports, Steve Sydow, operations manager of Daniel’s Shipping Services Inc., said they are crucial to the area’s economy.

“This whole community was started because of shipping, and one of our ships equals nearly 1,000 trucks,” he said. “That helps conceptualize how important each ship is.”

Daniel’s Shipping Services is one of the shipping agents in town. Their job is to manage each saltie’s visit.

“Typically, a ship owner or a manager is on the other side of the planet,” Sydow said. “Since their asset is quite expensive and outstandingly expensive to operate, it makes economic sense to have a local professional to run things. In a nutshell, you’re asked to perceive problems and fix them before they become a problem.”

“There are stevedores and ship owners and charterers and grain elevators and customs and immigration and all these sorts of people,” Sydow said. “Everybody has their own focus. The job of the agent is to coordinate all those guys, to keep things in line, to keep things smooth and to make sure the ship sails smoothly.”

“I like to tell people it’s like playing chess while you ride a motorcycle,” he said. “You have to make the right moves.”

Sometimes the right move is not to move. It’s not unusual to see ships sitting at anchor outside the harbor.

“It boils down to free parking,” said Capt. Edward Montgomery, president of Sea Service LLC, which operates a pilot boat. “Oftentimes, they arrive before the grain is here or ready. Instead of sitting at a dock running up bills, they’ll anchor on the lake for free. Sometimes they are waiting for a letter of credit or some money to change hands or sometimes for parts.”

While the salties are at anchor, Montgomery may carry documents, parts or inspectors to them. He’ll take ashore crewmembers whose work contract is up and bring to the ships newly arrived crew.

In addition to transporting people and parts, Sea Service also provides garbage service for salties.

“The garbage that comes off a foreign ship is very much like the garbage you would find in an apartment building Dumpster, except the milk cartons are Italian,” Montgomery said. “But because it is foreign-originating, the USDA requires that it be sterilized before it goes into the local landfill.”

To meet that requirement, Sea Service runs a small steam plant.

While an anchored ship might save money, it is not making money. To do that, it has to move a cargo.

“When they are ready to move, they have to move,” Montgomery said. “We’re on call 24-7. Whether it’s 2 a.m. in a blizzard or a beautiful summer day, we have to go. It can sometimes be challenging to get a pilot on or off a rope ladder when you are thrashing around in high seas.”

The first saltie to arrive in the Twin Ports after the St. Lawrence Seaway opened to deep-draft navigation was the Ramon de Larrinaga on May 3, 1959. Hundreds of salties have followed. While some carry steel, wind turbine components or equipment for western refineries, Johnson estimates that grain has accounted for 90 percent of the cargo.

The law of supply and demand causes the number of visiting salties to vary widely from year to year. In 2010, Russia — hit by a crippling drought and wildfires — canceled its grain exports.

“We got a ton of business at the end of that year and a little bit the following year,” Johnson said. “Then the price of wheat and other grains went up so high, everyone planted and there was a surplus.”

Two years ago, 105 salties visited the Twin Ports. Last year the number dropped to 71. This year, 62 called through the November.

The needs of business don’t dictate all of the services provided to visiting salties. The nonprofit Twin Ports Ministry to Seafarers goes aboard each vessel as soon as possible to welcome crew and officers. The ministry visits with sailors, gives the sailors rides around town, loans them cell phones to call home, and provides translators to help overcome language barriers. This time of year, the ministry also gives Christmas gifts to visiting sailors.

“We have been in the practice for years and years of bringing gift boxes to the ships for every crewmember with the thought they would have a gift to open at Christmas wherever they might be on land or sea,” ministry director Tom Anderson said.

“In the port, a lot of the contact with the vessel is business,” Anderson said. “It has to do with the cargo being shipped. It has to do with efficiency of getting it loading and it on its way. The agents and others do attend to the human needs of crewmembers, but the only reason we are on the ship is to attend to the seafarers as individuals and be able to ask the question ‘How are things for you?’ ”

Duluth News Tribune


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.

1911: A fire broke out in a wooden grain elevator at Owen Sound. The KEEWATIN was moored nearby for the winter but not yet locked in ice. The ship was moved to safety but the elevator was destroyed.

1963: MANCOX went aground in Lake St. Clair, near Peche Island, enroute from Sault Ste. Marie to River Rouge.

1974: The American Steamship Co. self-unloader H. LEE WHITE (ii) and the Greek salty GEORGIOS A. collided head-on in the St. Clair River at Buoy 40 below Port Huron and both ships received substantial damage. The latter first visited the Great Lakes as a) PATIGNIES in 1962 and was a frequent inland trader as late as 1981 as c) SARONIS. It was scrapped at Aliaga, Turkey, as d) SEA HOUND in 1985-1986.

1984: The Yugoslavian freighter BEOGRAD, outbound in the Seaway with soybeans for Brazil, collided with the FEDERAL DANUBE at anchor near Montreal and had to be beached. The hull was refloated and arrived at Montreal for repairs on December 27. It was scrapped at Gadani Beach, Pakistan, as b) MURIEL in 1999. FEDERAL DANUBE (i) now operates for Canada Steamship Lines as c) OAKGLEN (iii).

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


World War II fighter plane pulled from Waukegan Harbor

12/10 - Waukegan, Ill. – Nearly 100 people watched as crews pulled a WWII fighter plane from Waukegan Harbor this morning -- the first leg of a journey that could land it in a Glenview naval museum.

“It’s a pretty inspiring thing,” said Charles Greenhill, a 78-year-old pilot from Mettawa who paid for the recovery. “You think you get used to it, but you don’t.”

The plane will be shipped Greenhill’s hangar in Kenosha, Wis., and from there it will be transported to the National Museum of Naval Aviation in Pensacola, Fla. where a full restoration could take at least five years. A local group hopes to make the plane’s permanent home in a proposed museum on the site of the former Naval Air Station Glenview.

“It’s better than I thought,” Greenhill said as he watched the plane emerge from the water.

The FM-2 Wildcat had been used during World War II to train pilots for landing on aircraft carriers. It rolled off a converted steamship on Dec. 28, 1944 and sank about 45 miles southeast of Waukegan after the engine failed during its third take-off.

The pilot, William Edward Forbes, was rescued and finished his training. He died in 2008 at 85.

Crews from A & T Recovery of Chicago began towing the wildcat under water on Sunday, getting it to Waukegan Harbor on Tuesday. They decided to wait until Pearl Harbor Day to pull it from the water.

Chicago Tribune


Feds sue to get 1872 Lake Huron lighthouse lens

12/10 - Port Austin, Mich. – The federal government is suing a tiny Michigan museum to recover a 19th-century lighthouse lens that helped ships navigate Lake Huron.

The 900-pound lens, built in France, has been displayed since 1987 at a former life-saving station at the tip of Michigan’s Thumb. The government is objecting because it doesn’t have an agreement with Huron City Museums.

The U.S. Coast Guard donated the lens to the city of Harbor Beach in 1970 under certain conditions. The city later let Huron City Museums, near Port Austin, use it.

The government’s lawsuit in Bay City federal court says the lens is “irreplaceable,” yet it’s being housed in a building with no alarm or fire sprinklers.

The chairwoman of a foundation that runs Huron City Museums had no immediate comment Friday.

Port Huron Time Herald


Some gift selections for the BoatNerd on your Christmas list

12/10 - Delight the BoatNerd on your Christmas list with a Great Lakes-themed gift such as a new book, DVD or even a BoatNerd t-shirt or cap.

One possibility comes from the Marine Historical Society of Detroit, which has opened up the sale of its latest book, “The Nicholson Fleets and Their Captains,” to the public. The volume is an account of Detroit’s famous Nicholson fleets by Emory A. Massman, Jr., whose father, Captain Emory A. Massman, was a master for the Detroit-based Nicholson firm. The hardcover book is rich in rare photos and filled with anecdotes about life on the lakes circa 1920-1960.

Marine Publishing Company has reduced the price on many items for the holidays, including BoatNerd t-shirts and caps (a portion of the sale of these items benefits The 2012 Know Your Ships is on seasonal special as well, as the crew prepares for the next edition, due in March.

For a complete list of new book and DVD releases, click here


Updates -  December 10

News Photo Gallery
Holiday Card Gallery updated


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.

1922: The wooden freighter JAMES DEMPSEY, built in 1883 as a) JIM SHERIFFS, was destroyed by a fire at Manistee, MI.

1963: The Canadian coastal freighter SAINTE ADRESSE went on the rocks off Escoumins, QC and was leaking in high winds while on a voyage from Montreal to Sept-Iles. Local residents helped lighter the cargo of beer and ale. The remains of the hull were visible at low water for several years.

1975: PAUL THAYER went aground in Lake Erie off Pelee Island. It was lightered to WOLVERINE and released Dec. 12 with extensive damage.

1994: The Maltese registered YIANNIS Z. entered Chaguaramas, Trinidad and Tobago, in leaking condition after apparently hitting bottom while enroute from Manzanillo, Cuba, to Peru. The ship was arrested for non-payment of the crew. The vessel had been a Seaway trader in 1970 as a) MATIJA GUBEC. The hull was sold at public auction on August 28, 1997, and apparently partially dismantled to become a barge. It was noted sinking at its moorings on October 14, 2006, under the name f) KELLYS MARK and subsequent fate is unknown.

2005: JOHN D. LEITCH hit bottom above the Eisenhower Lock and began leaking.

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


Port Reports -  December 9

Grand Haven, Mich. - Dick Fox
The St. Marys Conquest and barge Prentiss Brown came in with a load for the St. Marys Cement Terminal in Ferrysburg at midnight Friday night. At about 3 a.m., the Manitowoc delivered a load for Verplank's Dock, also in Ferrysburg.


Maid of the Mist to carry on business from U.S. side of Niagara River

12/9 - Niagara Falls, N.Y. – Calling Niagara Falls a “jewel” with potential to lift the economy of the entire state, New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo forged a deal with the Maid of the Mist operators Tuesday afternoon to allow the long-time tour boat company to continue operations on the American side of the falls.

The move comes 10 months after Canadian officials with the Niagara Parks Commission selected California-based Hornblower to provide boat tours from the Canadian side of the river, starting in 2014. It ended the Maid of the Mist’s decades-old presence on the Canadian side.

Cuomo’s move sets the stage for two companies to be running boat tours in the river – Maid of the Mist from the American shore and Hornblower from the Canadian side.

The agreement was announced as part of the governor’s tour of Niagara Falls and Buffalo, as Cuomo received briefings on the progress and economic impact of a wide range of state-assisted projects in the region.

It was the governor’s eighth progress tour to check on his Regional Economic Development Council and its efforts towards completing a long list of economic development plans and job-creating projects.

Niagara Gazette


“Captain” John vows to go down with his ship

12/9 - Toronto, Ont. – Almost six months after the city shut down Captain John’s Restaurant, its 74-year-old owner is living on board in squalor and vowing to go down with his rusting ship.

John Letnik has been slowly dismantling anything of value from his beloved Jadran and still spends some nights sleeping on the carpet in his Captain’s Quarters.

He had movers put the bed and other valuables in storage back in July, the day before Waterfront Toronto officials ordered Captain John’s signs and the gangplank to the restaurant removed to make way for a planned park.

“I was afraid I wasn’t going to be able to get everything out of here otherwise. What was I going to do, lower things down from the ship by rope?”

Instead, it’s been six months of silence, says Letnik, since the city shut off water to the ship June 26 and health officials ordered the restaurant shut down.

The gangplank remains. And Letnik, who underwent hip replacement surgery last March, carts in water when he’s not staying with family or friends.

“Captain” John still clings to the remote hope that if he can get a 10-year lease on a new waterfront slip, he can find a buyer for the 300-foot vessel, pay off more than $568,000 in back taxes and “leave with dignity.”

“It’s not very easy for me to look around,” Letnik says of the dark, cold ship where even the last bit of brandy is now gone.

“Are they (city and waterfront officials) waiting for me to die here?”

Letnik says he’s become so frustrated that no one from the Toronto Port Authority, Waterfront Toronto or the City of Toronto will return his calls, he recently asked long-time friend and former city councillor Chris Korwin-Kuczynski to intervene.

During a half-hour meeting in Mayor Rob Ford’s office Nov. 30, Korwin-Kuczynski says he appealed to the handful of city and waterfront officials present for solutions.

“I wanted to be sure that we had some final answers on this. They basically told me there were no other spots for the ship in the harbour and that he should walk away with honour,” says Korwin-Kuczynski.

Waterfront and city officials are still working together, says Michelle Noble of Waterfront Toronto. But everything is complicated — right down to removing the restaurant’s faded signs from Queens Quay which, it turns out, would interfere with hydro connections.

“We’re trying to work in a collaborative fashion, but this is not a simple one because it is under marine jurisdiction,” says Noble. “It’s not like a typical property where it’s a very simple process” to seize a house and sell it for back taxes after three years of arrears.

Instead, the city could face a lengthy battle to seize the ship under maritime law.

“This is a legal matter and the Toronto Port Authority cannot comment on it,” said authority spokesperson Irene Quarcoo in an email, refusing to discuss if, in fact, legal action has been launched again Letnik.

Even Korwin-Kuczynski acknowledged there is mounting pressure now to get rid of the ship from the prime waterfront slip at the foot of Yonge St. where it’s been moored since 1975.

Construction is well underway on three condo towers right next door and Waterfront Toronto plans to turn the adjacent parking lot, where the ship’s gangplank rests, into green space as part of the ongoing rejuvenation of the easterly waterfront.

“People in those condos aren’t going to want to look out their windows and see a rusting ship,” says Korwin-Kuczynski.

Civic officials had a ship recycler tour the Jadran about a month ago and estimated it will cost at least $150,000 to tow and scrap, Korwin-Kuczynski was told.

That’s unthinkable for Letnik, who brought the ship here from his former homeland of Yugoslavia decades ago and turned it into one of the first attractions on Toronto’s waterfront.

In a last desperate bid to sway the city, Captain John has been handing out flyers downtown, decrying the “unprecedented and cruel” shutdown by the city, and urging folks to sign an online petition of protest at

“He’s not going to go peacefully. I made that very clear,” says Korwin-Kuczynski. “He just wants his legacy to live on, but nobody is giving him an honourable way out, and that’s the frustrating part.”

Toronto Star


Door County shipwreck added to Wisconsin Register of Historic Places

12/9 - Green Bay, Wis. – Even today, it is not uncommon to find coal intermixed with the sand on the Whitefish Dunes State Park beach. The coal isn’t from a campfire, but from a long-lost wooden cargo ship laden with 2,200 tons of coal that sank offshore on Oct. 17, 1896.

The remains of the wooden steamer Australasia lie in 15 to 20 feet of water off Whitefish Dunes State Park in Lake Michigan, mostly buried beneath a sand bottom. The ship was discovered in 2005 and maritime archeologists were awarded grants to survey the wreck.

On Nov. 16 the Australasia was awarded her place on Wisconsin’s State Historical Society Register of Historic Places. The shipwreck is now being considered for inclusion on the National Park Service list of Historic Places.

The nomination for the Australasia on the state registry was made by Tamara Thomsen and Keith Meverden, both maritime archeologists who studied the shipwreck and work with the Wisconsin State Historical Society.

“The Australasia embodies the industrial revolution on the Great Lakes during an era when maximizing profits drove technological innovations and pushed the accepted limits of wooden hulls,” Thomsen said.

Built in 1884 by the well-known shipbuilder Capt. James Davidson in West Bay City, Mich., the 285-foot-long Australasia was the largest wooden vessel ever built at the time of her launch. During her 12-year career, the Australasia carried bulk cargoes across the Great Lakes so efficiently, the ship earned a fortune for her owners at a time when wooden vessels were quickly becoming obsolete, Thomsen said. Most other shipbuilders had switched to iron and steel, but Davidson had large tracts of forest and could build vessels at a fraction of the price.

Like other Davidson steamers, the Australasia generally towed a large wooden schooner barge as a consort, which gave them a competitive edge over the larger steel bulk carriers appearing on the Great Lakes, she said. Working in tandem, a wooden steamer towing a consort could carry between 7,500 and 8,000 tons, significantly more cargo than the larger steel carriers, but without a large increase in operating costs.

The Australasia was not towing a barge when it left Cleveland in 1896 loaded with coal bound for Milwaukee. The ship came through the Straits of Mackinac and, due to a strong northwest wind, drew closer to Door County’s Lake Michigan shore for safety. About 6 p.m. the ship caught fire off Baileys Harbor and the next day was scuttled in 15 feet of water south of Cave Point in Whitefish Bay.

“Farmers in the area saw the steamer on fire as it was coming south and knew there were going to be some victims,” Thomsen said.

The farmers started small fires on shore to guide the sailors in. After a half-hearted effort at saving the the Australasia, the sailors rowed to shore drinking alcohol provided by the farmers, she said.

Capt. Robert Pringle telephoned Leathem & Smith Towing and Wrecking Co. in Sturgeon Bay to bring a tug to pull the steamer toward the canal, but a fight broke out between the now-inebriated sailors and the Leathem crew. Fire also kept burning the towlines as they tried to pull it.

“They ended up abandoning it once it got around Cave Point,” she said, and left it about 800 feet off the shore. “And that is where it is today.”

What does it look like now?

The vessel was declared a total loss and was salvaged by Leathem & Smith, which took the smokestacks, anchors, chains and other ironwork, leaving the hull. Most of the coal was sucked from the wreckage with a steam pump and hauled away, but despite this effort, an estimated 140 tons of coal washed ashore during the winter months and was collected by the local farmers, Thomsen said. The following spring, the wrecking company attempted to repossess from the farmers what coal hadn’t been used to heat their homes.

Now mostly buried in sand, the Australasia wreck site has remained rarely visited by divers and very little site disturbance has occurred, she said. With the ship burning down to the water line, anything below that point is still under the sand shift.

“Today, visible portions of the Australasia’s hull retain excellent integrity,” she said. “And with the majority of the hull still buried beneath the sand bottom, there are vast opportunities for further documentation and discovery on how one of the Great Lakes’ greatest shipbuilders pushed the known limits of wooden vessel construction.”

A buoy will be placed above the shipwreck denoting it is a state historic place. There also will be an exhibit and video about the shipwreck at Whitefish Dunes State Park.

Thomsen said she and Meverden will be returning to Door County in May, as they received a grant from the Sea Grant Institute to study another shipwreck at the Bay Shipbuilding Co. yard in Sturgeon Bay.

Green Bay Press Gazette


Notice: Seaway Radio Message No. 1

12/9 - This is the first radio message for the closing of the 2012 navigation season. Messages will be issued Monday through Friday. As the need arises, weekends will be included. The purpose of this message is to provide Seaway users with information that may facilitate the planning of vessel transits throughout the remainder of the navigation season.

Mariners are advised that the Montreal-Lake Ontario and Welland Canal drafts are as outlined in Seaway Notice No. 14.

It is important for mariners to note that any vessel which enters the Seaway upbound at CIP2 after 2359 hours on December 9th shall be designated a wintering vessel in accordance with all the terms outlined in Seaway Notice No. 12 of 2012.

Water temperature at St. Lambert on December 7, is 3.3 degrees Celsius. Last year’s temperature was 5.7 degrees Celsius. The ten-year average is 2.3 degrees Celsius.

At midnight December 6, the number of ocean vessels above St. Lambert was 31 as compared to 24 in 2011. Above Port Weller the number was 20 as compared to 12 in 2011.

The Prescott/Ogdensburg ice boom opening has been reduced to 600m and is indicated by quick flashing green and red buoys.

Mariners are advised that the implementation of the power to length ratio restrictions and minimum draft requirements, scheduled for December 7, are postponed until further notice.


Great Lakes Captains Association Industry Days coming in January

12/9 - Great Lakes Captains Association Industry Days will be held January 9-11, 2013 at the Great Wolf Lodge in Traverse City, Michigan. Guest speakers include representatives from USCG, weather service, firefighting, attorney, and Rochelle Pennington, author of "Endurance,” who will speak on Wednesday evening. 906-635-0941 for more information.


Welland Canal Shiphotos 2013 calendar now available

12/9 - Shiphotos 2013 calendar with photos of ships in the Welland Canal is now available. All photos are by Paul Beesley. Historical information about the Great Lakes is included for each day. Size is 11x17, price is $19.95 each. This price includes all taxes and shipping. Click here to view


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.

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."

1910: The JOHN SHARPLES of the Great Lakes & St. Lawrence Transportation Co., stranded on Galops Island in the St. Lawrence due to low visibility. The vessel was holed fore and aft and not released until April 1911 with the help of the tug HECLA.

1943: SARNIAN, the first member of what became the Upper Lakes Shipping fleet, stranded on Pointe Isabelle Reef, Lake Superior, while downbound with 162,489 bushels of barley. The vessel was not refloated until July 24, 1944, and never sailed again.

1956: FORT HENRY, a package freighter for Canada Steamship Lines, hit the Canoe Rocks approaching the Canadian Lakehead cutting open the hull. It reached the dock safely, quickly unloaded, and went to the Port Arthur shipyard for repairs.

1968: NORTH CAROLINA lost power and sank in Lake Erie five miles west of Fairport, Ohio, in rough weather. The U.S. Coast Guard rescued the three-member crew. The hull went down in about 30 feet of water and is a popular dive attraction.

1980: The salt-laden KINGDOC (ii) was released by the tugs POINT VALIANT and IRVING BIRCH after an earlier grounding at Pugwash, NS

1983: The saltwater ship d) IAPETOS was struck by Iraqi gunners in the Khor Musa Channel about 30-40 miles from Bandar Khomeini, Iran. It was abandoned and struck again by a missile and bombs on March 29, 1984. The vessel began Seaway service as a) JAROSA in 1965 and returned as b) IVORY STAR in 1973 and c) TURICUM in 1975. It was refloated about 1984 and scrapped at Sitalpur, Bangladesh.

2001: The former HAND LOONG, a Seaway trader beginning in 1977, sank as b) UNA in the Black Sea off Sinop, Turkey, enroute from Algeria to Romania with 11,000 tons of iron ore. Seventeen sailors were rescued but one was missing and presumed lost.

2003: STELLAMARE capsized on the Hudson River at Albany, N.Y., while loading turbines. The cargo shifted and three members of the crew were lost. The ship was righted, refloated and repaired as c) NANDALINA S. It was broken up for scrap at Aliaga, Turkey, as d) DOUAA A. in 2011. This heavy-lift freighter first came through the Seaway in 1989 and returned inland from time to time.

2011: VSL CENTURION lost its stern anchor while downbound in the Welland Canal at Port Colborne. Shipping was held up until it was found. The ship first visited the Seaway as a) SAGITARRIUS in 1990 and became d) PHOENIX SUN in 2012.

Data from: Skip Gillham, 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

Marquette, Mich. - Rod Burdick
Lakes Contender loaded ore Friday evening at the Upper Harbor.

Green Bay, Wis. - Jake Heffernan
Sam Laud arrived Friday morning with coal for the Reiss Dock.

Sturgeon Bay, Wis. - Wendell Wilke
Friday morning the barge Presque Isle departed Bay Shipbuilding in tow of Selvick tugs Jimmy L., William C. Selvick, Jacquelyn Nicole and Cameron O. The tow headed north off Sherwood Point to rejoin thr tug Presque Isle.

Toronto, Ont. - Jens Juhl
The actual tunnel boring operation for the Billy Bishop Airport pedestrian tunnel under the West Gap is about to commence. Friday morning the 25-ton travelling gantry crane lowered the tunnel-boring machine called "Dale" into the city side tunnel shaft. Once in operation Dale will be joined by its identical twin called “Chip.” Chip and Dale will bore a series of adjacent six feet in diameter mini-tunnels through the bedrock. In the shape of a shallow arch the mini-tunnels will form the roof of the pedestrian tunnel proper.


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.

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.

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.

1876: IRA CHAFFE was driven ashore in a severe snowstorm near the Chocolay River, Lake Superior, near Munising. All on board were saved and the ship was eventually released.

1909: Fire broke out in the hold of the CLARION off Southeast Shoal, Lake Erie. Six sailors who huddled on the stern were picked up in a daring rescue by the LEONARD C. HANNA the next day. Another 14 were lost when their lifeboat was swept away in the storm and one more perished when he went into the hold to fight the fire.

1909: W.C. RICHARDSON stranded on Waverley Shoal, 2 miles west of Buffalo. A storm had prevented entrance to Buffalo and the ship was riding out the weather on the lake. The hull had to by dynamited as a navigational hazard when salvage efforts failed. Five lives were lost.

1927: ALTADOC (i) stranded on the rocks of the Keweenaw Peninsula when the steering failed while upbound, in ballast, for Fort William. The hull could not be salvaged and it was cut up for scrap on location during World War Two.

1927: LAMBTON stranded on Parisienne Shoal, Lake Superior, with the loss of 2 lives. The engine was removed for the FERNIE and the hull salvaged in 1928 for further work as the barge c) SALVUS.

1963: FORT ALBANY sank in the St. Lawrence off Lanorie after a collision with the PROCYON, and five members of the crew were lost. Heavy fog persisted at the time. The hull was refloated in June 1964, taken to Sorel, and scrapped.

1971: HARMATTAN was attacked with missiles and gunfire by Indian Naval units south of Karachi, Pakistan, and heavily damaged. Seven sailors were killed and the ship was abandoned. It arrived at Karachi March 2, 1972, and was scrapped. The ship had been a Seaway trader earlier in 1971.

1982: The Liberian freighter GENIE came through the Seaway in 1972. It was badly damaged by an explosion and fire on this date while laid up the Seychelles Islands. The hull was taken to Karachi, Pakistan, and scrapped in 1985.

1983: AKTION, a Seaway trader for the first time in 1970, was laid up at Piraeus, Greece, as e) ELISA when fire broke out and the vessel was heavily damaged aft. The hull was towed into Aliaga, Turkey, in October 1984, and broken up for scrap.

Data from: Skip Gillham, 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.


Great Lakes coal trade down 3.5 percent in November

12/7 - Cleveland, Ohio – Shipments of coal on the Great Lakes totaled 2.9 million tons in November, an increase of 6.2 percent compared to October, but a drop of 3.5 percent compared to a year ago. Compared to the month’s 5-year average, loadings were down 15.1 percent.

Loadings at Lake Superior ports rose by 12 percent, but shipments from Lake Michigan and Lake Erie terminals decreased by 10 and 24.5 percent respectively. Overseas shipments from Superior, Wisconsin, resumed in November and totaled 79,480 tons.

Year-to-date the Lakes coal trade stands at 23.1 million tons, a decrease of 8 percent compared to a year ago, and a drop of nearly 25 percent compared to the 5-year average for the January-November timeframe.

Lake Carriers Association


Port Reports -  December 7

Oshawa, Ont. - Lorraine Morrill
Hermann Schoening was discharging steel at Oshawa on Thursday.


Mining still strong as demand drops; future looks stable

12/7 - The open-market price for taconite dropped nearly $80 a ton over the past two years, global demand for ore and steel is sluggish, and at least one Minnesota producer is planning to scale back in 2013.

But, despite some signs of trouble, Minnesota’s taconite plants are on pace to produce slightly more of the concentrated iron ore in 2012 than they did the year before — 39.2 million tons, up a bit from 39 million, said Bob Wagstrom, who tracks taconite production for the Minnesota Department of Revenue.

“They came in strong through the end of last year, and I haven’t seen anything that shows it will be different this year,’’ Wagstrom said Wednesday of taconite producers.

The upward trend continues a remarkable three-year comeback for the industry, which saw 35.05 million tons produced in 2010 after only 17 million tons in 2009, the nadir of the global economic meltdown and when all six of the state’s taconite plants were closed for some time.

The 2012 totals will be the highest since 2005.

Wagstrom said most companies remain at or near full production capacity. He said North Shore Mining appears to have dropped off some in 2012 but that increases at Keetac and Hibbing Taconite were able to make up the difference.

Meanwhile, the state’s newest producer, Magnetation, also added production capacity for the iron concentrate it produces from old natural old mine dumps, adding to the taxable total.

But a sluggish domestic economy and a slower-growing economy in Asia are causing some concern in the iron ore industry, with at least one domestic producer set to scale back in 2013. Cliffs Natural Resources last month said it would idle two of four lines at its North Shore Mining operations, laying off 125 employees in January and reducing production by about 2 million tons next year. Cliffs also will cut production at its Empire operations in Michigan.

Pellets from those Cliffs plants feed blast furnaces producing hot-rolled steel that goes into automobiles and household appliances.

While 2013 is forecast to bring decent growth in auto sales, many of those vehicles will be imported from Japan and Europe, Joseph Carrabba, Cliffs’ chairman, CEO and president, said last month, with little increase in U.S. auto production. Carrabba said much of the steel pipe now in demand by the oil and gas industry also is coming from foreign sources.

Despite Cliff’s decision, industry analyst Peter Kakela of Michigan State University has predicted mostly stable times ahead for taconite, with nothing like the crash of late 2008 when demand dropped to nil. Tony Sertich, commissioner of the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board, the state agency that oversees taconite industry development on the Range, agreed.

“Barring any major uptick or downtick in the economy, the word we’re hearing is ‘continued stability,’ ’’ Sertich said.

Sertich noted that 2013 production numbers might include some of the early taconite coming from Essar Steel in Nashwauk. That plant, the first full-sized taconite facility built in more than 35 years in Minnesota, could be on line by late 2013 but more likely in 2014, producing more than 4 million tons per year with 300 employees.

“The long-range outlook remains very good, not just for the existing plants but with the new capacity we have coming to the Iron Range,” Sertich said.

Craig Pagel, president of the Minnesota Iron Mining Association industry group, said most Minnesota taconite plants have been processing as much as they can. He said he is “cautiously optimistic” that the domestic and global economies will pick up the pace in 2013, creating more demand for products made from Minnesota taconite.

This year “has been a good year, with production reaching design capacity of the mines and with new mining interests with new technologies entering the scene,’’ Pagel said.

Wagstrom said he hasn’t seen any indication that other Minnesota mining companies will scale back significantly in 2013. His production estimate for 2013 will be down by about 1.8 million tons from 2012, to about 37.4 million tons.

“I’m taking off 2 million tons for North Shore for 2103, but we’ll see some additional taxable concentrate coming on line from Magnetation and Mesabi Nugget that will make up part of that,’’ Wagstrom said. “I think the slowdown at North Shore is as much who their customers are than a real downturn, overall.”

The positive 2012 tonnage report also means the state is reaping strong tax revenue from the mining companies. The companies paid nearly $2.47 for each of the 39.2 million tons produced this year, giving the state and local governments a whopping $96.6 million in production taxes paid lieu of property taxes. That per-ton tax will go up about 4 cents per ton in 2013.

The monthly average spot-market global price per ton of iron ore dropped to $99.47 in September, down from a high of $187 in February 2011 and the first time below $100 per ton since November 2009. It’s recovered to about $120 per ton in recent weeks. That price has less effect on Minnesota taconite, however, because little of it is shipped overseas.

Data compiled from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development showed an average of 4,245 direct mining jobs in 2011, up nearly 11 percent from the average of 3,825 jobs in 2010. The number of steelworkers still is down 25 percent from 2000, when LTV Steel Mining Co. operated, and is less than one-third the direct mining employment of the taconite heyday in 1979 when there were eight operating plants and about 15,000 mining company employees across the Range, producing 54 million tons of taconite.

Duluth News Tribune


Updates -  December 7

Holiday Card Gallery updated


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.

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.

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 saltwater 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.

1909: MARQUETTE & BESSEMER NO. 2 disappeared with all hands in the overnight hours of December 7-8 while crossing Lake Erie from Conneaut to Port Stanley with 30 loaded railway cars. The hull has never been located.

1912: The whaleback BARGE 134 was operating on the East Coast as b) BANGOR when it stranded and broke up near Hampton Roads, Va. The hull was salvaged by blasting and dredging in 1975.

1917: SIMCOE, of the Canadian Department of Marine & Fisheries, left the Great Lakes earlier in the fall for new work on the Bay of Fundy. It sent out an S.O.S. that it was sinking in heavy seas and the ship was never seen again. The only trace was a lifering that came ashore at Sable Island. There were 44 on board.

1927: KAMLOOPS, inbound for the Canadian Lakehead, disappeared with all hands overnight December 6-7. The hull was finally found by divers off 12 O'Clock Point, Isle Royale, in 1977.

1927: AGAWA stranded on Advance Reef, Georgian Bay along the south shore of Manitoulin Island. It spent the winter aground and was not released until Nay 16, 1928. The hull had been declared a total loss but was rebuilt at Collingwood as the ROBERT P. DURHAM and then later sailed as c) HERON BAY (i).

1927: The first MARTIAN went aground off Hare Island, Lake Superior and was not released until December 14.

1929: ULVA sank in the ice at Port Colborne but was raised, refitted and returned to service in 1930. The British built freighter operated between Maritime Canada and the Great Lakes until about 1939. It was torpedoed and sunk by U-60 northwest of Ireland on September 3, 1940.

1941: The tanker MAKAWELI was reported to be anchored at Pearl Harbor during the infamous Japanese attack and damaged. The ship was built at Ashtabula as COWEE in 1919 and returned to the Great Lakes for Lakeland Tankers in 1946.

1967: FIR HILL, a Seaway trader in 1961, went aground off Yasuoka, Japan, as d) UNIVERSAL CRUSADER. It was lightered and released but sold for scrap and broken up at Hirao, Japan, in 1968.

1969: The bulk carrier PETITE HERMINE and TEXACO CHIEF (ii) collided in fog near Prescott and both ships had slight damage. The former became c) CANADIAN HUNTER while the latter last operated on the lakes as c) ALGONOVA (i).

1976: The Liberian flag bulk carrier UNIMAR grounded leaving Thunder Bay with a cargo of grain and was not released until December 15.

1976: HARRY L. ALLEN of the Kinsman fleet went aground in Lake St. Clair, near St. Clair, Mich., and was held fast in the ice before being freed by tugs.

1982: LEADALE (ii) finished unloading salt at Thorold and backed into a concrete dolphin while departing the dock. A hole was punched in the hull and the ship sank while trying to get back to the dock. LEADALE was refloated December 19, towed to Port Colborne and scrapped by Marine Salvage in 1983.

1983: UNISOL had been docked at Chandler, Que., to load newsprint but left to ride out an approaching storm after being pounded against the dock. The ship ran aground while outbound and the crew were saved by a Canadian Forces helicopter. The vessel, noted as the first Peruvian flag freighter to transit the Seaway earlier that year, broke up in the storm.

1983: The Norwegian freighter WOODVILLE began visiting the Great Lakes in 1962. It ran aground near Palau Mungging, Malaysia, enroute from Bangkok, Thailand, to Malacca, Malaysia, as d) PETER RICH and was abandoned as a total loss.

1989: CAPITAINE TORRES, enroute from the Great Lakes, got caught in a vicious storm on the Gulf of St. Lawrence on December 7-8 after the cargo shifted. All 23 on board were lost when the ship went down.

2005: ZIEMIA LODZKA collided with and sank the VERTIGO in shallow water in the Great Belt off Denmark. All were saved. The former began Great Lake trading in 1992.

2010: The passenger ship CLELIA II, a Great Lakes visitor in 2009, was hit by a monstrous wave in the Antarctic Ocean smashing the pilothouse window and damaging electronic equipment. The vessel made Ushusia, Argentina, safely and only one member of the crew had a minor injury.

Data from: Skip Gillham, 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.


Tundra refloated

12/6 - The grounded freighter Tundra was freed Wednesday morning by four tugs from the Ocean Group – Ocean Jupiter, Ocean Ross Gaudrault, Duga and Ocean Charlie. The latter two escorted the Tundra to Trois Rivieres. The maneuver started at 7 a.m. Wednesday and was complete at 10:30 a.m. when the Tundra was feed.

Tundra, operated by Canfornav, had been aground since Wednesday night last week off Ste. Anne-de-Sorel near the western entrance of Lac St.Pierre. After refloating, the vessel proceeded to a nearby safe anchorage for a short time before departing for Trois Rivieres.

Kent Malo and Rene Beauchamp


Badger’s 2013 season left with two options after special provisions fail

12/6 - Ludington, Mich. – Media outlets covering Congress are reporting Wednesday that the U.S. House of Representatives has adopted the Senate version of a Coast Guard re-authorization bill leaving out a special provision for the S.S. Badger.

According to congressional reports, the House move will send the $7 billion bill on to President Barack Obama for his signature. The final version does not include special language designed to provide a lifelong exemption for the historic S.S. Badger to allow the Lake Michigan ferry to continue dumping coal ash into Lake Michigan.

Congressmen Bill Huizenga, R-Zeeland and Tom Petri, R-Wisconsin, put the special language in the House bill that was stripped out by the Senate and did not survive the conference committee between the two chambers, according to The Hill – the capital news outlet.

New York Times congressional correspondent Jonathan Wiesman, in a blog posting Wednesday noon, summed up the Lake Michigan Carferry’s options for operating next spring as two-fold: Receive a new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency discharge permit allowing the coal ash dumping to continue or quickly retrofit the Badger with a new engine system or coal-storage technology.

Without either the EPA permit or changes to the Badger, the Ludington-to-Manitowoc ferry would be left at the dock next May when the 2013 sailing season is scheduled to begin. The Badger’s current discharge permit expires Dec. 19.

The Senate removed the Huizenga-Petri special language approved by the GOP-controlled House in the face of opposition from Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., the No. 2 member of the Democratically-controlled Senate. Durbin has said he opposes continued Badger dumping of coal ash due into Lake Michigan considering the Lake Michigan Carferry owners had several years to address their environmental problem.

Lake Michigan Carferry President Robert Manglitz told MLive and The Muskegon Chronicle last month that he remains optimistic that the Badger will receive the needed EPA permit and will begin its 2013 season next spring.



Port Reports -  December 6

Marquette, Mich. - Rod Burdick
Michipicoten and American Mariner loaded ore Wednesday night at the Upper Harbor. Mariner's visit was only her second of the season.

Sandusky, Ohio - Jim Spencer
Lower Lakes’ tug Victory and barge James L. Kuber loaded Wednesday at the NS coal dock. The pair sailed late in the afternoon for the Soo.


WW II fighter to be raised from Lake Michigan

12/6 - Chicago, Ill. – A sunken World War II Wildcat fighter has concluded its final fight – 45 miles under the water to a safe harbor in Waukegan. It was moved there so that recovery experts can safely lift it out of Lake Michigan.

Recovery specialist Taras Lysenko says the recovery lift is less likely to rip off the wings if it’s done in a safe harbor instead of the open waters of Lake Michigan. That’s where the historic fighter spent the last 68 years in 200 feet of water.

Lysenko says the Wildcat fighter will be lifted from the water on Friday, dried out and then rehabbed for display at the Hangar One Naval Aviation Museum in Glenview.

The FM2 Wildcat malfunctioned on a training flight Dec. 28, 1944 when it rolled off the bow of the aircraft carrier USS Sable. Pilot William Forbes escaped before the fighter sank.

Lysenko described the Wildcat fighter as “a beer can with wings.” It’s not very maneuverable, but it’s extremely lethal with six 50-caliber machine guns and self-sealing gas tanks.

The most famous Wildcat was flown by Butch O’Hare for whom O’Hare airport was named. O’Hare received the Congressional Medal of Honor for downing five Japanese bombers attacking the aircraft carrier Lexington in 1942.



Today in Great Lakes History -  December 6

On 06 December 1886, C. McElroy 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.

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 FORT CHAMBLY while she was laid up at Ojibway Slip in Windsor, Ontario.

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 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.

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.

1906: MONARCH, carrying a cargo of bagged flour, struck Blake Point, Isle Royale and broke in two. The stern sank in deep water and the survivors huddled on shore. They were spotted the next day by the passing steamer EDMONTON who had help sent out from Port Arthur. Only one life was lost.

1906: R.L. IRELAND went aground off the Apostle Islands, Lake Superior, while loaded with coal. Some of the crew rowed a lifeboat to Bayfield for help. The vessel was salvaged and last sailed as c) ONTADOC (i)in 1970.

1909: BADGER STATE caught fire at Marine City, drifted downstream and stranded off Fawn Island. The hull burned to the waterline. 1910: DUNELM went aground on Isle Royale while downbound with grain for Montreal. It was salvaged on December 21 and taken to Port Arthur for repairs.

1917: TUSCARORA, recently cut in two, towed through the Welland and St. Lawrence Canals, and rejoined at Montreal, sank with the loss of all hands off Cape Breton Island on the delivery voyage to the East Coast.

1924: MIDLAND PRINCE was swept onto a reef while under tow in the outer harbour at Port Colborne and sank the tugs JOSEPH H. and HOME RULE in the process. The laker was released the next day but the tugs were a total loss.

1961: The listing freighter MARIANGELA B. was abandoned on the Mediterranean south of Formentera, Spain, after the cargo of zinc shifted in a storm. The vessel was towed to Cartagena, Spain, on December 8 but soon sold to Italian shipbreakers for dismantling at La Spezia in 1962. The vessel had been built at Sturgeon Bay as LABAN HOWES in 1943.

1977: The passenger ship ROYAL CLIPPER caught fire in the engineroom at Montreal. After five hours, the ship rolled on its side and sank. It was salvaged in 1982, towed to Port Maitland, and scrapped during 1984-1986.

1992: WILLIAM R. ROESCH was inbound at Holland, Mich., with a cargo of slag when it went aground. The ship was stuck for two hours.

2001: NANCY MELISSA visited the Great Lakes in 1980. It began taking water as e) EMRE BAY in the Ionian Sea and the crew abandoned the ship. The grain laden vessel was taken in tow to safety but was later sold for scrap and arrived at Aliaga, Turkey, for dismantling as f) RESBE on April 9, 2003.

2002: SAGINAW sustained rudder damage while backing away at Thorold and had to go to Hamilton for repairs.

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


Port Reports -  December 5

Twin Ports – Al Miller
Tuesday morning traffic included a late-season spate of salties, including Federal Yukina loading at HSC elevator and Erieborg loading at General Mills in Duluth. Two more salties are expected later this week. Elsewhere, Indiana Harbor was outbound off Duluth at sunrise with coal loaded at Midwest Energy Terminal. As it motored away, Paul R. Tregurtha was backing under the Blatnik Bridge toward the Midwest Energy Terminal dock to begin loading.

Marquette, Mich. - Rod Burdick
Herbert C. Jackson loaded ore Tuesday morning at the Upper Harbor but remained docked in the afternoon waiting for winds to subside on Lake Superior before departing.

Grand Haven, Mich. - Dick Fox
Calumet delivered the final load of coal for this season to the Grand Haven Board of Light and Power Plant on Harbor Island Tuesday morning.

South Chicago - Dan F.
Monday was a busy day in South Chicago. Algoma Transport was heading out of the Calumet River into the lake and heavy fog around 11 a.m. while Catherine Desgagnes was anchored out in the lake; once the Transport was clear, the Desgagnes joined the Eeborg and Victoriaborg at the North American dock. Shortly behind the Desgagnes was the St. Marys Challenger; she entered the river around 1 p.m. and headed up-river to Lake Calumet's Sheds for lay-up until May. Meanwhile, the Calumet was heading down-river at the time and tied up at KCBX in order to allow the Challenger and several barges to pass; she then proceeded down-river and out to the lake.

Alpena, Mich. - Ben & Chanda McClain
Monday night the tug Defiance and barge Ashtabula were anchored off Alpena due to fog in the area. Tuesday morning the pair came into port and tied up at Lafarge where the barge unloaded petroleum coke from Thunder Bay, Ont. Later in the day, the tug G. L Ostrander and barge lntegrity arrived to load cement. The Defiance departed after 6 p.m., followed by the Integrity. The Alpena was expected in sometime overnight.

Toronto, Ont. - Jens Juhl
English River was alongside the Lafarge Poulson Street dock Tuesday with another load of cement. The classic diesel tug M.R.Kane and the Toronto Port Authority Derrick 52 removed the inner harbor airport keepout buoys. The Port Authority tug, the William Rest, is presently tied up with main engine mechanical issues.

Montreal, Que. – Rene Beauchamp
Baie St. Paul is docked in Montreal after its arrival from China.


Shipwreck hunter discovers another in Lake Huron

12/5 - A figure slowly emerged from the cold, deep-blue silence of Lake Huron. Divers first spotted the engine. Then, the outline of the decking. They had discovered the New York, a 133-year-old wooden steamer that sank more than a century ago during a storm on Lake Huron.

"We were very excited because it was such a large vessel," said shipwreck hunter David Trotter of Canton, who waited in a powerboat on the surface as two divers with flashlights and a camera explored 240 feet below.

The find earlier this year ended Trotter's two-year quest for the ship and marked the latest discovery among the thousands of vessels lost over time to the Great Lakes. The find is expected to shed light on how ships were built during that era -- a time when most shipbuilders didn't use written plans.

"We have other vessels that represent that era, but none that were as large. ... It's an important look at the technology of the period," said Patrick Labadie, maritime historian for the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary in Alpena.

Trotter has spent 35 years hunting for ships swallowed by four of the five Great Lakes and has located more than 90 wrecks. He has put a video about the find on his website,

Trotter said the 283-foot New York was the largest wooden steamer in existence when it was built in 1879, not long before steel and iron became preferred for ship construction.

The ship had two stacks, twin boilers, a tall mast and two lifeboats that eventually would save its captain and crew. Divers discovered it resting upright, with a damaged stern and broken stacks nearby, about 40 miles north of the tip of the Thumb.

The ship was carrying coal from Detroit to Ontario on Oct. 1, 1910, when it was smacked by a storm with gale-force winds and punishing waves. It began to take on water. The fires in the boilers went out, Trotter said.

The Mataafa, another steamer that was towing a smaller ship as it passed the New York in the opposite direction, turned around to help.

"As she turned, she nearly capsized when iron ore shifted in the vessel," Trotter said. "When she came back around, one side was 2 foot lower in the water than the other." Trotter said the crew from the Mataafa plucked the New York's captain and 13 crew members from lifeboats. No one died.

"In the scheme of things, (the New York) ranks as one of the more important discoveries because of her place in Great Lakes history, her size, the heroics of the crew of the Mataafa saving the crew of the New York," Trotter said.

Trotter, 71, also has discovered schooners, steel freighters, dredges, barges and tugboats. The largest was the 600-foot steel freighter the Daniel J. Morrell, which he discovered in 1979 in Lake Huron. Trotter first detected the New York in May using a side-scan sonar on his boat, the Obsession Too.

"It's very exciting to see that on the bottom, because no one else has seen that since it sank," said Marty Lutz, 55, of Warren, one of the divers on Trotter's team who made the initial plunge to the New York.

Divers made about 30 trips down from July through September. At every shipwreck site, they take measurements and look for artifacts, leaving behind what they find. "We don't have any interest in it," Lutz said. "It's better to leave it on the wreck for other divers to enjoy."

The recordings divers make are put on DVDs that Trotter sells on his website and uses in presentations to students and historical groups as part of his Great Lakes Adventure Series, an educational program focused on historical adventures on the Great Lakes.

Trotter, a retired executive who worked in risk management for Ford Credit, has a surveying company, Undersea Research Associates.

He wouldn't say how much the shipwreck expeditions cost but called them expensive and said he funds them. He has spent hours in libraries in Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin, reading newspaper clippings to learn about each ship. Minor health issues kept him out of the water recently, but he plans to dive again next year.

"I'm very passionate about the chance to discover and explore," Trotter said, "to be at the right place at the right time to unwind mysteries."

High up on Trotter's bucket list: the Water Witch and R.G. Coburn, two ships that have eluded him for 15 years. "Some people ask me what is the most exciting wreck I've found," he said. "I say it's the next one."


Updates -  December 5

Holiday Card Gallery is now live


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 pilothouse of the wreck were recovered in 1928. The pilothouse 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.

1909: HENRY STEINBRENNER (i) sank in a snowstorm on Mud Lake following a collision with the HARRY A. BERWIND. The superstructure remained above water and the ship was later refloated and repaired.

1927: The wooden steamer ADVANCE went aground off Manitoulin Island and two sailors were lost. The ship was salvaged but tied up at Cornwall later in the month and never operated again.

1935: The lumber carrier SWIFT caught fire at Sturgeon Bay and was a total loss. The remains were scrapped in 1936.

1935: The 65-year old wooden tug LUCKNOW burned outside the harbor at Midland and the ship was beached as a total loss.

1952: The wooden tug GARGANTUA departed Collingwood under tow and sought shelter from a storm early the next day behind Cabot Head. The ship was scuttled to avoid the rocky shore with the main part of the hull above water. The intent was to refloat the vessel in 1953 but it was abandoned instead.

1964: FAYETTE BROWN, enroute to Bilbao, Spain, for scrap, broke loose of the tug BARENTSZ ZEE in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and drifted aground on the south shore of Anticosti Island. Salvage efforts were not successful and the remains of the hull, now broken into many pieces, are still there.

1971: VENUS CHALLENGER was sunk by a missile in the India-Pakistan war while 26 miles south of Karachi. The ship broke in two and sank in 8 minutes. All 33 on board were lost. The vessel was completely darkened and going at 16 knots when hit. The ship had been a Seaway trader earlier in 1971 and as b) PLEIAS in 1968.

1976: TATIANA L. and RALPH MISENER sustained minor damage from a collision in the St. Lawrence. The former was scrapped at Gadani Beach, Pakistan, as c) LUCKY LADY in 2009, while the latter arrived at Aliaga, Turkey, for dismantling as c) DON in September 2012.

1987: The CASON foundered off Punta Rostro, Spain, enroute from Hamburg to Shanghai, due to heavy weather. There were 8 survivors but another 23 sailors perished. There were explosions and fires in deck containers and the hull broke in two during a salvage effort in May 1988. The ship had come through the Seaway as b) WOLFGANG RUSS in 1978 and FINN LEONHARDT in 1979.

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


Efforts to free grounded Tundra unsuccessful

12/4 - A second effort to free the grounded freighter Tundra at Sorel has failed; the tugs broke off at 6 p.m. Monday leaving the stranded saltie still stuck in clay. More lightering will have to be done before Tundra can be freed. She went aground Nov. 29 after a reported steering malfunction.

Lightering was completed about 4 p.m., after which the tugs moved in and tried to pull the vessel from the bottom. Ocean Groupe tugs Ocean Duga, Ocean Charlie, Ocean Georgie Bain and Ocean Ross Gaudrault were attempting to move the Tundra. There was no mention of how much of the soya bean cargo was removed from the grounded vessel.

Kent Malo


Water levels in lakes Huron, Michigan to break record lows

12/4 - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is anticipating all-time record low water levels for Lakes Huron and Michigan in early 2013 after a continued lack of rain and snowfall impacting the Great Lakes Basin. In a report released last Friday, the Corps projected Huron and Michigan will break levels set in March 1964 — 576.05 feet above sea level — while all of the Great Lakes are predicted to see low water levels.

"It's looking like new record lows will be set in January and February on those lakes," said Keith Kompolotowicz, chief of watershed hydrology for the corps of engineers, of Huron and Michigan. "This is the first time we've gone out of our low range for Huron/Michigan, which we consider to be one lake because they're joined."

According to the report, Lakes Michigan and Huron were 28 inches below normal respectively for November. Lake Superior was 14 inches below normal while Lakes Erie and Ontario were down 6 and 10 inches. Lake St. Clair was 12 inches below average.

"The threats of record lows only really exist on Lakes Huron and Michigan," Kompolotowicz said.

While how long the decreases will last remain murky for meteorologists and hydrologists, it's clear Michigan and Huron have been hit especially hard from a strong downward trend that's lasted well more than a decade.

"Actually it's a perfect storm of events," said Dr. Drew Gronewold, a hydrologist with the Ann Arbor-based Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory, a division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

"Huron and Michigan have shown lower than average long-term levels since 1999, which were part of a massive drop all the lakes went through and which remain in place today.

"Factor in less rain, less snow and higher evaporation rates, which are made even higher by water temperatures that are about as warm as they've ever been for this time of year."

According to Gronewold, research is still being done on possible links between warmer waters and long-term climate change, but the idea of a relationship "isn't unreasonable."

"Another reason why Michigan/Huron are seeing water level drops is that water flowing into Huron from Superior is regulated by canals," Gronewold said. "More water kept in Superior means less water flowing into Huron."

The problem behind the drop in the Great Lakes is mostly because of lower than average precipitation and is a part of a recurring cycle for the system. In November for instance, the entire basin received only 39 percent of its average precipitation.

"Each lake has its own seasonal cycle with water levels rising in the spring and declining in the fall," Kompolotowicz said. "Whether or not there are longer term cycles is still yet to be determined. There's not enough data in the records to tell if there are 10- or 30-year high and low water cycles."

According to NOAA, water levels have fluctuated throughout the history of the Great Lakes. Research has indicated that several thousand years ago, water levels became so low that the lakes were no longer interconnected as they are currently.

More recently, record low levels coincided with the dust bowl years of the 1930s and a severe drought in 1964. NOAA also noted that the lakes experienced extremely high levels in 1986, and since that time, levels have generally been declining.

"Will we continue to have wet and dry years in the future? Yes," Gronewold said. "We're seeing increased evaporation right now but long-term models are also showing increased precipitation. The question is, will they balance each other out?"

"The models just don't show a clear answer for the coming decades." The National Weather Service is forecasting the precipitation outlook for December, January and February to be normal.

"It looks like a standard winter, which means between five and six inches of liquid," said meteorologist Mike Richter of the White Lake Township office of the weather service. "It won't raise the lake levels by any means. It might come down to how we do in the spring because precipitation levels usually spike in April and May."

Precipitation for the next three months for the entire state registers as "EC," which means an "equal chance" for less or more precipitation. But drought conditions show Michigan safely out of the red drought zone.

"In a normal year in the metro area, we record about 31 inches of precipitation," Richter said. "So far for 2012, we've recorded 24.5, which is about six inches below normal. But for the same time period in 2011, we had recorded almost 45 inches because we had a very wet fall."

This year's continued drop in water levels poses a hazard to navigation. Brian Williams, owner of Marine 1 Tow and Salvage of St. Clair Shores can attest to that.

"Our towing business has dramatically increased this fall because of lower levels," Williams said. "People don't really pay attention to the water levels, and think they can navigate safely through areas they sailed through before, and then find themselves stuck."

One of the worst areas on the Detroit River is the Mamajuda Shoal Island off Grosse Ile.

"It used to be an island years ago, but now the only thing left are old rock and wood pilings," Williams said. "It's basically a scrap yard under water. During the summer, it was only covered by a foot of water, and boaters were very surprised to find themselves stuck there."

According to Williams, water levels have continued to drop to the point where the shoal is now mostly above water.

The water loss has shortened the recreational boating season and forced the shipping industry to reduce the amount of tonnage its vessels can carry. In Lexington, charter boat Capt. Ron Cutler said water levels are the lowest he can remember.

"This is the lowest I've seen it since the 1960s," said Cutler, owner of Model T Charters. "We had the harbor dredged last year and dredging is usually good for four years, but this year it was so low again that you really had to know your way in and out or you'd get struck trying to make it to deep water in Lake Huron."

The low levels have sometimes made it difficult for his clients to get in and out of Cutler's 28-foot boat.

"Many dock facilities, especially those belonging to the state, were constructed when water levels were higher," Cutler said. "When we berth at a state-owned marina, my head is just about level with the dock when I'm standing on my deck. It can make it really tough for people to get in and out."

Detroit News


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 million, 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.

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 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 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.

1920: The first RENVOYLE went to saltwater for war service in 1915. It foundered in shallow water on this date in the Bay of Biscay in 1920. Salvage attempts failed. The hull was broken up by the elements and part was scrapped on site.

1951: CAPTAIN C.D. SECORD was disabled and under tow of the SIR THOMAS SHAUGHNESSY when it broke loose in a storm off Isle Royale. The ship was retrieved by U.S.C.G. WOODRUSH and taken to safety and eventually to Port Arthur for repairs.

1966: NAKWA RIVER sustained extensive fire damage at Montreal. The flames broke out while outbound from the Great Lakes.

1986: AMERICAN REPUBLIC was blown on the breakwall at Lorain, Ohio, and received a five-foot gash on the side about 15 feet above the waterline.

1990: The IONIA caught fire in the engineroom about 90 miles south of Puerto Rico while enroute from Tampa to Chittagong, Bangladesh. The damage was not repaired and the hull was towed to Aliaga, Turkey, as f) ONIA in 1991 and scrapped. The vessel began Seaway service in 1971 as the British flag freighter ZINNIA, returned as b) TIMUR SWIFT in 1983 and as d) ZENOVIA in 1985.

1992: ZEUSPLEIN caught fire in the bridge at Campana, Argentina, and became a total loss. The vessel was sold to shipbreakers in India and arrived for scrapping on June 1, 1993. It had first traveled the Seaway as a) ZEUS in 1972 and had been rebuilt as a container ship in 1983.

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


Man dies aboard Tecumseh at Thunder Bay

12/3 - Thunder Bay, Wis. – A 40-year-old Greater Toronto-area man is dead following an industrial mishap on Thunder Bay’s waterfront. Thunder Bay Police said the unidentified man was killed in the early hours of Saturday working on a grain ship in port, but had little else to say about the tragedy, which occurred at about 2 a.m. He was aboard the Tecumseh. The federal ministry of labor has been brought in to take over the investigation, and police said they cannot disclose any further information until the investigation is complete.

Thunder Bay News Watch


Lightering begins in effort to free grounded Tundra

12/3 - Sorel, Q.C. – Four Group Ocean tugs tried vainly to free the grounded Tundra at Sorel early Sunday but did not succeed. Lightering of the ship’s cargo was to begin Sunday evening, the tug Ocean Charlie departed for the scene with a barge about 6 p.m. The Tundra is loaded with soya beans and stuck in the clay bottom. Reports indicate a steering malfunction caused the Tundra to go aground.

Kent Malo


Coast Guard transports ailing Buffalo crewman in St. Marys River

12/3 - Cleveland, Ohio – The Coast Guard came to the aid of a 45-year-old man aboard a 625-foot vessel in the St. Marys River, at the Neebish Island Ferry Dock, located on Neebish Island, Mich., Sunday afternoon. The man's name and hometown are not being released.

A search-and-rescue coordinator from Coast Guard Sector Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., was contacted at 2:10 p.m. The reporting source stated that one of the crewmembers was suffering from tightness in his chest and was having difficulty breathing.

After conferring with a flight surgeon, it was determined that the man should be taken ashore for further treatment. The Buffalo was at the dock but, due to its size, the crew could not safely transport the man to the emergency medical services waiting at the dock.

A Coast Guard Station Sault Ste. Marie rescue boat crew launched aboard a 25-foot Response Boat-Small. The rescue boat crew arrived on scene at about 2:44 p.m., transferred the man onto the RB-S, and transported him to the dock where he was transferred to EMS in stable condition.

"The crew of the motor vessel took the necessary precautions to take care of their fellow crewmember," said James Barber, a command duty officer at Sector Sault Ste. Marie. "Unfortunately, the motor vessel was too large to moor at the ferry docks. The Coast Guard responded with the right tool for the job."


Dredging ongoing in Indiana Harbor turning basin

12/3 - Late Saturday afternoon dredging operations were moved out into Indiana Harbor main basin from the containment disposal facility. The crane barge Kokosing II and tug Valerie B will be working in the federal channel all around the harbor, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They are mechanically dredging, so the Valerie B will be moving hopper barges back and forth from the operation site to the CDF. Contact the Valerie B for any and all concerns on Channel 16.

Tim Eaker


Port Reports -  December 3

Sandusky, Ohio - Jim Spencer
CSL's Rt. Hon. Paul J. Martin loaded Sunday at the NS coal dock. She sailed Sunday evening for Hamilton.

Buffalo – Brian W.
American Mariner unloaded at the Gateway Metroport around 10 a.m. Sunday. Peter R. Cresswell departed Gateway Metroport some time overnight and was downbound in the Welland Canal, bound for Montreal, at 5:30 p.m. Sunday.


Updates -  December 3

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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.

1909: BARGE 101, a whaleback built on the Great Lakes in 1888, sank off Seal Island, Maine enroute from Boston to Halifax with coal tar. The crew of seven was lost.

1942: Yesterday and today the tug ADMIRAL and petroleum barge CLEVECO were lost with all hands off Euclid Beach, Ohio. A total of 32 sailors perished.

1954: The tug ROUILLE sank off Cape Smoky, NS with the loss of 5 lives. The vessel was built in 1929 as Hull 83 at the Collingwood Shipyard and had been on the lakes earlier in the year.

1959: THEODORUS A., seized earlier on Lake St. Clair due to debts, went aground twice while under tow to be unloaded. The vessel was released and spent the winter on the lakes. The crew was sent home.

1963: The LIONEL and MANCHESTER MERCHANT collided at the entrance to the Seaway. The former caught fire and was beached at Ronde Island with heavy damage. It was rebuilt at Drammen, Norway, in 1964, returned inland as b) SKAGATIND in 1965 and was scrapped following another fire as e) ALECOS in 1982.

1967: TORONTO CITY, a Seaway trader from 1959 through 1962, went aground near the Elbe I Light enroute from Rostock, Germany, to Rotterdam, Holland, as d) EMMANUEL M. The crew was rescued and the ship was refloated July 7, 1970, sold for scrap, and broken up at Hamburg, Germany.

1985: An engine room fire broke out aboard the SKRADIN at Augusta, Italy, and the ship was a total loss. It had been a Seaway trader as b) BALTIC WASA beginning in 1971 and first returned under the current name in 1976. The damaged vessel was quickly sold for scrap and arrived at Split, Yugoslavia, December 28, 1985, for dismantling.

1987: The former Straits of Mackinac passenger and auto ferry VACATIONLAND sank off Oregon while under tow for scrapping in the Far East.

1993: HOPE I was seriously damaged when it hit bottom east of Quebec City. The ship had traded inland as a) NOSIRA MADELEINE beginning in 1983 and had returned as b) HOPE I earlier in 1993. It was repaired at Lauzon and continued Great Lakes service through 2002. The bulk carrier was back as c) HOPE in 2004.

1995: The former Canada Steamship Lines bulk carrier RIMOUSKI, renamed b) CANADIAN HARVEST, broke in two 114 miles NE of Sable Island while under tow for scrapping in India. The stern sank first. The bow was released two days later and was also lost.

Data from: Ski Gillham, 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.


Tugs attempt to free Tundra

12/2 - On Saturday morning, four Group Ocean tugs were attempting to pull the grounded freighter Tundra from her strand. The tugs were Duga, Ocean Charlie, Ocean Jupiter and Ocean Ross Gaudrault.

Ron Beaupre


Port Reports -  December 2

Port Inland, Mich. - Denny Dushane
Wilfred Sykes arrived early in the morning Saturday, loaded and departed. Due next is the Calumet on Tuesday in the early morning. Calumet will return to Port Inland on Thursday early to load.

Calcite, Mich. - Denny Dushane
Michipicoten was due to arrive in the early evening to load limestone at the South Dock on Saturday. For Sunday, the James L. Kuber is due in the late afternoon for the North Dock. No vessels are scheduled to load on Monday. Three vessels are due to load limestone cargoes on Tuesday, with the Frontenac arriving first in the early morning for both the North and South Docks. Mississagi also is due on Tuesday, arriving in the early morning for the North Dock. John G. Munson is due to arrive in the early afternoon also for the North Dock.

Stoneport, Mich. - Denny Dushane
There were no vessels scheduled to load at Stoneport for Saturday however, on Sunday there are four vessels scheduled to load limestone. Due first in the early morning is the Lewis J. Kuber, followed by both the Pathfinder and John G. Munson. Algoway is due for a late afternoon arrival on Monday. For Tuesday, Cason J. Callaway is due at suppertime followed by an evening arrival by Algosteel. Rounding out the lineup is expected to be Arthur M. Anderson on Wednesday in the mid-afternoon.

Toledo, Ohio - Denny Dushane
H. Lee White was due to arrive at the Torco Dock to unload iron ore late on Saturday. Following the H. Lee White are visits by the following vessels - John J. Boland on Monday in the morning, American Courage Tuesday at suppertime, Atlantic Superior on Friday very early in the morning with the American Mariner and H. Lee White both due to unload at the Torco Dock on Friday in the early morning. No activity is scheduled for the Midwest Terminal Stone Dock. At the CSX Coal Dock, the H. Lee White is due to load coal on Sunday in the early morning, followed by Sam Laud on Monday in the mid-afternoon and Algolake loads on Tuesday.

Lorain, Ohio - Phil Leon
Algorail called the Charles Berry Bridge about 3:15 p.m. to depart, and cleared the bridge at 3:46 p.m. Once out of the harbor, she made a quick turn to the northeast about 4 p.m.

Sandusky and Marblehead, Ohio - Jim Spencer
Algolake was loading Saturday at the NS coal dock for Hamilton. At Marblehead, American Courage sailed for Sarnia Friday after loading at the Lafarge Corp. stone dock.

Buffalo, N.Y. – Brian W.
Peter R. Cresswell was tied up in the Lackawanna Ship Canal at the Gateway Metroport Main dock Saturday morning.


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.

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.

1964: The anchors of AGIOS NICOLAOS II dragged in a storm on the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the ship drifted aground at Sea-Cow Head, near Summerside, Prince Edward Island. The ship was released and towed to Halifax but not repaired. It had first come through the Seaway as a) ALKAID in 1961 and made one trip inland as b) AGIOS NICOLAOS II in 1964. Following a sale for scrap, the ship arrived at Bilbao, Spain, under tow of the tug PRAIA DE ADRAGA, on April 2, 1965.

1967: The tanker LUBROLAKE and tug IRVING BEECH were blown aground on Cape Breton Island, near New Waterford, NS at a site called the No. 12 Stone Dump. Both ships were abandoned and broken up to the waterline there at a later date.

1976: PEARL ASIA went aground off Port Weller while waiting clearance to head upbound to Thorold with a cargo of bauxite. After being lightered to MAPLEHEATH, the vessel was pulled free. It had begun Seaway trading as a) CRYSTAL CROWN in 1960 and first returned as b) PEARL ASIA in 1971.

1977: KEFALONIA SKY arrived at New Orleans with engine trouble that was later deemed beyond economic repair. The vessel was sold for scrapping at Brownsville, Texas, in 1978. It had first visited the Seaway as NIEUWE TONGE in 1960 and returned as b) AMSTELDIEP in 1963.

2006: The tug SENECA broke loose of the SUSAN B. HOEY on Lake Superior and was blown aground 21 miles east of Grand Marais, Mich. It was refloated on Dec. 23 and taken to Sault Ste. Marie for assessment.

Data from: Skip Gillham, 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

Twin Ports – Al Miller
Vessel traffic early Friday morning included Mesabi Miner, outbound with coal loaded at Midwest Energy, meeting the tug-barge Great Lakes Trader and Joyce Van Enkevort, inbound with stone for the Graymont dock in Superior. They slowly passed each other off the Duluth port terminal. Elsewhere, Arthur M. Anderson was expected to shift to the CN ore dock Friday morning to load pellets for Nanticoke, and James R. Barker was due later in the morning for Midwest Energy Terminal.

Marquette, Mich. - Rod Burdick
After unloading a partial cargo of eastern coal in Munising Thursday evening, John J. Boland arrived at the Lower Harbor Friday morning to unload the remaining coal cargo, but anchored due to high winds. At the Upper Harbor, Michipicoten arrived Friday morning for ore.

Oshawa, Ont. - Andre Blanchard
Heloise departed Oshawa either late last night or very early Friday morning. The tanker Soley-1 arrived Friday with the assistance from tugs Ecosse and Vigilant I. On a side note, Vigilant I was formerly HMCS Glenlivet between 1944 to 1975.


Cargo ship carrying soy beans grounded in St. Lawrence River

12/1 - Sorel-Tracy, Que. – A cargo ship ran aground on the banks of the St. Lawrence River near Sorel-Tracy in the Monteregie region of Quebec just a few hours after leaving Montreal on Wednesday. The freighter, registered as Tundra, had weighed anchor in the late afternoon, leaving the Port of Montreal en route to Halifax.

Transport Canada's Marine Division has been called to the site to investigate what took place. Nathalie Letendre, a spokesperson for the Canadian Coast Guard, confirmed that the Cyprus-registered vessel was carrying soya.

The cause of the grounding and the reason why the freighter moved out of the shipping channel are still unconfirmed.

"It's not a water level question, as they had all the data they needed," she said. "The investigation will reaveal what is the problem. Maybe something broke aboard."

No environmental issues are expected and there were no injuries reported. Following Transport Canada's investigation, the captain of the freighter will be responsible for refloating the boat.

"It is responsibility of the ship owners to refloat the boat," said Letendre. "After the investigation, the ship owners will present their options for re-floating their boat.”

The cargo ship remains grounded several metres from shore.

"The boat is stuck in the mud, so the worst thing they can face is the suction from the mud posing a problem."

Global Montreal, Ron Beaupre


Dossin Museum to close after this weekend for renovations

12/1 - Detroit, Mich. – When the Dossin Great Lakes Museum reopens next spring, the importance of the Detroit River and its role in the growth of the region will be highlighted in a new exhibit, "Built by the River."

The Detroit Historical Society will close the Belle Isle museum on Sunday for five months of construction and renovations to the institution. Bob Sadler, director of public and external relations for the Detroit Historical Society, said the renovations will cost $2 million to $3 million.

Similar to the recent renovations completed at the Detroit Historical Museum, the Dossin Museum is going to feature more hands-on, technology-driven elements, Sadler said. Those will include allowing visitors to steer a long ship down the Detroit River in the "Built by the River" exhibit.

"There will be an overall refreshing of all the content and exhibits," Sadler said.

Attendance this weekend at the Dossin Museum is expected to be higher than usual as the last weekend open this year, Sadler said.

The Detroit Historical Museum, after being closed for six months for $12 million of construction and renovations, reopened this past weekend drew 15,000 people.

The renovations for both the Detroit Historical Museum and the Dossin Museum were funded by the Detroit Historical Society's "Past>Forward" campaign. The $20.1 million capital campaign was launched by the society three years ago. Sadler said the society has raised $16 million, with a goal to raise the remainder by June 2014.

Contributions to the "Past>Forward" Campaign have included $800,000 from the Detroit-based McGregor fund, $400,000 from Detroit-based PVS Chemicals Inc. and $385,000 from DTE Energy Foundation.

The "Built by the River" exhibit will be in the museum's main gallery – named the John A. and Marlene L. Boll in honor of their gift of $500,000. The planned date to reopen the Dossin Museum to the public is May 18, 2013.

Crain’s Detroit Business


Seaway Notice No. 13 – 2012: Maximum Permissible Draft – Montreal to Lake Ontario and Welland Canal

12/1 - Mariners are advised that due to low and declining water levels on Lake Ontario, water levels at Port Weller Harbor and from Kingston to Cardinal are approaching alert levels. In spite of the measures imposed recently, the water levels continue to decline and are forecasted to do so in the next weeks. Consequently, effective December 11, 2012 and until further notice, the maximum permissible draft will be reduced by 0.8 dm (3”).

• In the Montreal-Lake Ontario section, draft will be reduced to 79.2 dm (26’-0’’) for all vessels with the exception of inland vessels greater than 185 m in OAL for which the maximum permissible draft will be reduced to 80.0 dm (26’-3’’).
• In the Welland Canal section, draft will be reduced to 80.0 dm (26-3”).

The transit conditions described in the Maisonneuve Region Notices to Shipping no. 6, 8, 9, 10, 13 and 15 as well as the Niagara Region Notice to Shipping no. 14 remain in effect. Conditions will continue to be monitored closely and mariners will be promptly advised of any changes.


Updates -  December 1

Historical Perspectives Gallery updated - New pictures in the Meaford and one to the Wyandotte (1) galleries


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.

1934: The whaleback steamer HENRY CORT hit the north pier at Muskegon, MI and was wrecked. All on board were saved but one rescuer perished when the U.S.C.G. surfboat overturned. HENRY CORT was cut up for scrap on location during World War Two.

1961: The Canada Steamship Lines bulk canaller ELGIN struck the Charelvoix Bridge on the Lachine Canal when the structure did not open properly due to a faulty bridge mechanism. The waterway was closed for several days but the ship was not damaged.

1961: ARIE H., a Liberian flagged Liberty ship, went aground near the Snell Lock but was refloated and, the following day, departed the Seaway as the last ocean going ship of the season.

Data from: Skip Gillham, 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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