Great Lakes & Seaway Shipping News Archive

Copyright All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

* Report News


Tugs, icebreakers work to free icebound barge

12/31 - 4 p.m. Update: After several hours' worth of effort by the U.S. Coast Guard and commercial tugs, a Purvis Marine barge believed to be PML Ironmaster was freed during the afternoon Tuesday from the ice that was holding her trapped in the West Neebish channel. Assisting the Cohen were the Purvis tug Anglian Lady and the Great Lakes Towing tug Missouri. Downbounders delayed were Defiance/Ashtabula, Manitowoc, Kaye E. Barker, Joseph L. Block, Ken Boothe Sr./Lakes Contender and Olive L. Moore/Lewis J. Kuber. Also on Tuesday afternoon, the American Spirit became beset in the East Neebish, or upbound, channel. She was being assisted by the USCG Biscayne Bay. Behind her were Presque Isle and Algowood, with Kaministiqua inbound at DeTour. USCG Hollyhock was also working ice in the lower river. Earlier in the day, the Frontenac passed through the area with little trouble on her way to Thunder Bay.

12/31 - Downbound traffic in the St. Marys River was at a standstill Tuesday morning as U.S. Coast Guard and commercial tugs worked to extricate a tug and barge from the West Neebish (Rock Cut) channel. The USCG Mackinaw, as well as the Purvis Marine tugs Wilfred M. Cohen and Anglian Lady and the G tug Missouri were all on scene trying to get a barge, believed to be PML Ironmaster, which had been stuck since Tuesday, moving. Downbounders delayed were Defiance/Ashtabula, Manitowoc, Kaye E. Barker, Joseph L. Block and Ken Boothe Sr./Lakes Contender. The upbound Frontenac made it through the East Neebish channel and was approaching the locks in the late morning. American Spirit was upbound in Mud Lake, Presque Isle was upbound at Lime Island and Algowood was inbound at DeTour.


Port Reports -  December 31

Marquette, Mich. - Rod Burdick
A busy Monday morning at the harbors found H. Lee White at the Lower Harbor Shiras Dock and Lewis J. Kuber and Kaye E. Barker at the Upper Harbor ore dock.

South Chicago - Matt M
Around noon on Monday, Algoma's Capt. Henry Jackman arrived at North American Salt for a partial unload. By early evening, she was making her way north on the lake.

Alpena, Mich. - Ben & Chanda McClain
On Thursday night the barge Innovation and tug Samuel de Champlain arrived at Lafarge to load cement. The Alpena came in not long after and tied up at the coal dock. Alpena loaded Friday night and departed for Cleveland, OH where it has laid-up for the season. The tug Manitou remains in the area to help vessels into Lafarge and keep the shipping channels open. Great Republic arrived at Lafarge after 4 p.m. on Monday to unload coal. Innovation and Samuel de Champlain tied up under the silos Monday night to load cement. They will head for Milwaukee, Wis., where they are expected to lay-up.

Kingston, Ont. - Ron Walsh
The tug Molly M 1 has departed Kingston, light tug, westbound. She gave an ETA of 7:30 a.m. Tuesday for CIP #15 and a destination of Port Weller. Stephen B. Roman was eastbound for Picton. She gave an eta of 6:40 p.m. for the Sodus Point Line CIP. Evans McKeil returned the BIG barge to Elevator Bay Monday afternoon. There are three "Big" barges there for likely winter layup. She then travelled to the Wolfe Island Ferry dock where the Molly M 1 has been tied since last night.


Orsula successfully refloated; Coast Guard reports no pollution or injuries

12/31 - Cleveland, Ohio – The Coast Guard oversaw the successful refloating of the Orsula, which was completed Sunday. Orsula, a 656-foot Marshall Islands flagged ship, ran aground in the vicinity of Tibbets Point in the St. Lawrence Seaway, Christmas Day.

At about 5:50 p.m., response personnel from Coast Guard Marine Safety Detachment Massena, N.Y., reported the successful refloating of the vessel to prevention branch personnel at Coast Guard Sector Buffalo, N.Y. The vessel is currently making way toward Montreal and is being escorted by the tug Salvor.

A dive survey was conducted to inspect the entire hull of the vessel to ensure it is safe for the vessel to continue its transit. The vessels class society and personnel from the U.S. and Canadian St. Lawrence Seaway Corporations cleared the vessel to transit to Montreal.

McKeil Marine was hired by the ships company to conduct salvage operations that included the lightering of the vessel to a barge, which commenced at about 6 p.m., Saturday, and was completed at about 6:30 a.m., Sunday.

The Coast Guard worked with the ship’s company and the salvage company to ensure the vessel was safely refloated.

"Our job is to make sure the ship's crew follows its own vessel response plan, which includes contacting their contracted responders, and we also make sure proper procedures are followed to safely refloat their vessel," said Lt. Andrew Sweeney, chief Inspections Division for Sector Buffalo. "We also gather information concerning the marine casualty investigation."

A contracted oil spill removal organization was on scene throughout the operations for refloating the vessel as a precaution. No pollution, flooding or injury associated with the grounding was reported . The cause of the incident is still under investigation.


Lookback #44 – Former Harald Rinde capsized on December 31, 1986

12/31 - The Norwegian general cargo freighter Harald Rinde was built at Drammen, Norway, in 1967 and began Seaway trading the next year for A/S Holmen-Hellefos. The 378-foot, 2-inch long carrier was Norwegian owned and diesel powered.

The ship was sold to Greek flag interests in 1973 and became Fulmar. It retained that registry as Trias III beginning in 1977 but moved under the flag of Turkey as Gunes Mete in 1982. It received its fifth name of Yavuz Selim in 1984 and was anchored off Istanbul, Turkey, when trouble developed on December 20, 1986. The anchors dragged in heavy weather and the ship grounded off Kumpapi, Turkey. Then, 27 years ago today, the vessel capsized and eventually broke apart.

The former Seaway trader was a total loss. The bow was removed on June 2, 1989, and ultimately the hull was salvaged in pieces and broken up for scrap.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  December 31

News Photo Gallery
Lay-up list updated


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.


Orsula freed after grain unloaded

12/30 - On Sunday the Fednav saltie Orsula, grounded since Christmas day off Tibbets Point, at the entry to the St. Lawrence Seaway near Cape Vincent, N.Y., was released after a portion of her grain cargo was unloaded into the barge Lambert Spirit. She departed the area around 6 p.m., and dropped the hook about a mile below Carleton Island for a damage survey. Orsula was escorted by three tugs from McKeil – Salvor, Evans McKeil, and Molly M 1 – all of which assisted in freeing the vessel.

On Sunday evening she was listed to arrive at Iroquois Lock after midnight, and she may be making a run to get out of the Seaway before it closes for the season. The Seaway closes for the winter on Monday, so there's a push to get the ship going.

The Orsula, 656 feet long, was coming from Duluth, Minn., with a cargo of durum wheat bound for Italy. Salvage crews worked overnight unloading part of the cargo to try to float the ship free, because of weather and time concerns. Cause of the grounding remains under investigation.

Ron Walsh and Ron Beaupre


Port Reports -  December 30

Toledo, Ohio - Denny Dushane
The revised schedule for the Torco Dock in Toledo now lists five vessels scheduled to arrive with iron ore cargoes. Whitefish Bay is due on Monday in the morning. H. Lee White is expected to arrive Tuesday in the late evening. Algoma Enterprise is expected to arrive on New Year's Day in the early morning. American Mariner is expected to arrive on Saturday, January 4 in the early morning. Rounding out the schedule is the Ken Boothe Sr. / Lakes Contender due on Sunday, January 5 in the late evening. The ferry Jiimaan remains in port at Toledo. Also in port are the tug Wilf Seymour and barge Alouette Spirit.


Passengers airlifted from container ship off Newfoundland

12/30 - St. John’s. NL – The Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Halifax says four people have been rescued from a container ship in trouble off the coast of Portugal Cove South.

JRCC Spokesman Maj. Martell Thompson said four passengers were transported to a makeshift command centre in Portugal Cove South with no injuries to report. The 902-foot-long MSC Montery was en route from Belgium to New Jersey when the crew sent out a distress call at about 11 a.m, reporting a crack in the hull.

Thompson says two Cormorant helicopters from Gander were on scene, a Hercules aircraft from Greenwood, as well as a Coast Guard ship. Though 20 members of the crew remain at sea, Thompson says they are not in immediate danger, and the matter is now in the hands of Transport Canada. Reports Sunday night indicated the vessel was at anchor.

The MSC Monterey was built in 2007 at Daewoo Mangalia Heavy Industries in Romania.

This news comes about six months after the Mitsui O.S.K. Lines’-owned containership MOL Comfort broke in half and sank while sailing through the Indian Ocean in rough seas. The incident also comes almost two years after the MSC Flaminia caught fire while underway in the north Atlantic and the 2007 MSC Napoli incident in the English Channel. In 2011, MSC lost one of their containerships after it went aground on New Zealand’s Astrolabe Reef.

VOCM News, g-Captain


Lookback # 43 – Ziya S. closed Seaway season on December 30, 1984

12/30 - Every year since 1959, the St. Lawrence Seaway has closed for the winter during December. The earliest date was December 1, 1961. The latest closing was on December 30. Only in 1984, did the final transit pass downbound on this day. That occurred 29 years ago today and it is the latest, so far, closing for a Seaway saltie at the St. Lambert Lock.

The final transit for 1984 was the Turkish freighter Ziya S. The ship had begun coming to the Great Lakes with one trip in November 1983 and was back on two occasions in 1984. Her departure on closing day 1984 was the last we would see of this vessel on the lakes.

The 481-foot 1-inchlong by 69-foot-wide bulk carrier was built at La Spezia, Italy, in 1969 and first sailed under the flag of South Korea as Tosong. It was sold and re-registered in Liberia as New Song in 1979 before becoming Ziya S. for Turkish interests later that year.

Another sale in 1990 resulted in the ship spending its last years as Su Ying with registry in St. Vincent. The vessel was deleted from Lloyds on June 14, 2011 as “existence in doubt.”

Skip Gillham


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 sank 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.


Coast Guard overseeing grounded vessel operations in St. Lawrence Seaway

12/29 - Cape Vincent, N.Y. – 7 p.m. update -  The Orsula has been refloated, AIS showed her making 4.9 knots towards Cape Vincent.

Original Report - The Coast Guard is overseeing operations to refloat a grounded 656-foot motor vessel in the St. Lawrence Seaway, Saturday. The saltie Orsula, carrying more than 20,000 metric tons of wheat, ran aground early on Christmas Day near Tibbetts Point, N.Y., at the entrance of the St. Lawrence Seaway.

The Orsula sailed from Duluth, Minn., and was planning to exit the St. Lawrence Seaway before it closes for the winter on Monday. A dive survey has been completed, confirming that most of the hull of the vessel is resting aground, and revealed significant damage to the propeller.

McKeil Marine has been hired by the ships company to conduct salvage operations. These operations will include lightering to a barge and a controlled re-float of the vessel.

The Coast Guard is working with the ship’s company and the salvage company to ensure the vessel is safely refloated. At this point there are no risks to commerce or traffic in the area. The cause of the incident is under investigation.

The Orsula left the Twin Ports on Dec. 19, bound for Italy filled with durum wheat from the CHS and Gavilon grain terminals. It is flagged in the Marshall Islands and operated by Fednav Limited, operating out of Canada.

Duluth News Tribune and Ron Walsh


Port Reports -  December 29

Marquette, Mich. - Rod Burdick
The Upper Harbor has been busy in recent days. Olive L. Moore and Lewis J. Kuber continued trips from the ore dock to Essar Steel at the Soo. Fleetmate Saginaw loaded ore early Saturday morning after two days at anchor. James R. Barker unloaded western coal into the hopper on Friday, while fleetmate Herbert C. Jackson loaded ore.

St. Marys River
Despite warmer weather Saturday, Neebish Island area ice was still causing vessels trouble. As night fell, the downbound American Century was beset, requiring the icebreaker Mackinaw to assist. Behind her was American Spirit, which followed the track left by her fleetmate. At the same time, the cutter Samuel Risley was assisting the Stewart J. Cort, having difficulty in the upbound channel near Johnson’s Point, with the Indiana Harbor astern. Sam Laud, Arthur M. Anderson and Joyce L. VanEnkevort were upbound ahead of the Cort and had little trouble. Earlier in the day, the upbound Mesabi Miner, Kaye E. Barker and American Integrity also required assistance. Besides the Mackinaw and Risley, Mobile Bay and Biscayne Bay were also working the Mud Lake/Neebish area. A cold front is moving in, with temperatures dropping to minus 10 on Sunday night.

Sturgeon Bay, Wis. - Wendell Wilke
Shipyard activity was high Saturday as the Selvick tugs Mary Page Hannah, Jimmy L., Susan L., Cameron O. and Bay Ship's tug Bayship assisted the CSL Niagara out of drydock midmorning, taking her to Berth 8. Shortly afterwards, the Rt. Hon. Paul J. Martin was assisted and went in drydock around 1 p.m., replacing CSL Niagara.

Trenton, Mich. - Mike Nicholls
Manistee was downbound in the Trenton Channel bound for Trenton Edison Saturday, assisted by the tug Superior.

Toledo, Ohio - Denny Dushane
Whitefish Bay and the H. Lee White are expected to arrive at the Torco Dock on December 31 to unload iron ore. Whitefish Bay is due to arrive in the early evening, while H. Lee White following. The Algoma Enterprise is due to arrive on Wednesday, January 1 in the late evening, followed by the American Mariner on Friday, January 3 in the late evening. Rounding out the schedule will be the tug Ken Boothe Sr. along with its barge Lakes Contender, due to arrive on Saturday, January 4 in the late morning. The CSX Coal Dock and the Midwest Terminal Stone Dock are closed for the season. The ferry Jiimaan remains in port at Toledo, as do three ASC fleetmates all in long-term lay-up: Adam E. Cornelius is at the Old Interlake Iron Company Dock and American Fortitude and American Valor are at the Lakefront Dock.

Sandusky, Ohio - Jim Spencer
CSL Assiniboine, Canada Steamship Lines, departed the NS coal dock at mid-day Saturday. She was upbound for the ice-choked St. Marys River and Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.

Lorain, Ohio - Phil Leon
Robert S. Pierson radioed cleared the Charles Berry bridge at 05:05 Saturday and unloaded at the 9th Street dock. She departed at 14:36. Dorothy Ann / Pathfinder also departed Lorain about 23:08 Friday night.


Lookback # 42 – Nicolet caught fire December 29, 1979

12/29 - An errant spark from a welder's torch ignited a fire aboard the self-unloader Nicolet undergoing winter work at Toledo 34 years ago today. The blaze spread from the conveyor belt and gutted the officer's quarters and pilothouse. A reported $3 million in damage was the result.

Many thought that the 74-year old member of the American Steamship Co. fleet would not be repaired but that speculation was wrong. A new forward cabin was constructed and Nicolet returned to service on April 4, 1981.

The ship was originally the bulk carrier William G. Mather of the Cleveland-Cliffs fleet. It was the first laker constructed with a beam of 60 feet, and it was completed by the Great Lakes Engineering Works at Ecorse, Michigan, in 1905.

There were several changes over the years. The vessel was renamed J.H. Sheadle when the new William G. Mather was ready in 1925. It became H.L. Gobeille in 1955 and Nicolet in 1965 for the Gartland Steamship Co. It joined the American Steamship Co. in 1969.

The ship originally had a triple-expansion steam engine, but was later repowered with a Lentz Airheater engine and that was replaced by a 2800 bhp diesel engine in 1974. Conversion to a self-unloader occurred in 1965.

Nicolet tied up at Toledo on December 27, 1990, and remained idle until a sale for scrap. It arrived at the Lake Erie community of Port Maitland under tow on August 30, 1996, and was broken up there by International Marine Salvage.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  December 29

News Photo Gallery
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.


Salvage operations beginning on grounded Orsula

12/28 - Cape Vincent, N.Y. – The Montreal-bound cargo vessel Orsula has been grounded off Tibbetts Point near Cape Vincent since early Wednesday, but salvage operations weren’t expected to begin until Friday evening or Saturday morning.

No oil leaks, pollution or injuries were reported. Local divers surveyed the vessel and determined there was no breach in the outer hull.

A U.S. Coast Guard spokesperson said Friday morning that the 656-foot vessel was still stuck hard on rocks and needs to be lightered by offloading some or all of the wheat it’s carrying. The biggest problem is that the Seaway is supposed to shut down on Dec. 30, said Coast Guard Petty Officer Lauren Laughlin.

Owned by Atlant Bulkers Corp., Croatia, and operating under a Marshall Islands flag, Orsula was transporting 21,000 metric tons of wheat from Duluth, Minn., to Montreal, Quebec. The company will not be able to make the delivery unless Orsula is refloated promptly or another ship makes the delivery for it.

The circumstance of the grounding is still under investigation, but the ship ran aground at 12:37 a.m. Christmas day while more than 20 vessels were lined up on the St. Lawrence Seaway due to transit delays caused by an early freezing of the river.

McKeil Marine Ltd., Hamilton, Ontario, was hired for the salvage work and barges from Kingston, Ontario, also will assist in offloading the wheat from Orsula, which was expected to begin shortly after 4 p.m. Friday. The tugs Molly M 1, Salvor and Evans McKeil are expected to take part in the salvage operations.

St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corp. spokeswoman Nancy T. Alcalde said the grounded ship is out of the way and is not holding up traffic along the shipping channel. While she could not provide the number of vessels still in transit, Ms. Alcalde said several ships are moving forward slowly but steadily to complete their journeys.

According to the Seaways online transit map, 32 vessels were navigating the shipping channel between Kingston and Montreal Friday afternoon with 17 listed as delayed. The Seaway intends to get them all through before the shipping channel closes for the season midnight Monday.

The weather may hamper salvage operations. Temperatures were below freezing Friday night, but will rise to 2 C for the next two days before dipping significantly below freezing. Waves Saturday morning are forecast for 2 metres on Lake Ontario before subsiding to 1 metre in the afternoon. Sunday winds will be light but will increase to west 30 knots on Monday.

Ron Walsh, Watertown Daily News


Port Reports -  December 28

St. Marys River
For the most part, traffic moved through lower St. Marys River ice without difficulty Friday. In the morning, Joseph L. Block and Ken Boothe Sr./Lakes Contender were upbound after spending the night hove to in the ice. Algoma Olympic was downbound in the morning and Mississagi, followed by Roger Blough and Herbert C. Jackson, were headed for the lower lakes in the evening. Defiance and Ashtabula departed Essar upbound on Friday night. As the evening came to a close, the upbound Mesabi Miner was waiting for first light before attempting passage past Neebish Island. Astern of her were Kaye E. Barker and American Integrity, also expected to wait until daylight. However Burns Harbor was pushing on through upbound past Neebish Island with the help of the USCG Biscayne Bay.

Sturgeon Bay, Wis. - Wendell Wilke
Rt. Hon. Paul J. Martin arrived Bay Shipbuilding around 8:30 a.m. Friday for winter layup and repowering. She was assisted dockside to Berth 15 by the Selvick tugs Mary Page Hannah and Jimmy L.

Lorain, Ohio - Phil Leon
Algoway was at the 9th Street dock unloading Friday. She cleared the Charles Berry bridge on the way out about 17:01. Dorothy Ann Pathfinder communicated with the Algoway, and cleared the Charles Berry bridge at 17:40 headed to Dock 3

Sandusky & Marblehead, Ohio - Jim Spencer
The Interlake fleet tug-barge Dorothy Ann and Pathfinder sailed early afternoon Friday for Lorain. The pair had loaded overnight at the Lafarge stone dock. Departing the stone dock on Thursday afternoon was the Robert S. Pierson, which had the short run to Windsor, Ont. A couple of miles to the Southwest at the NS coal dock, Algorail sailed Friday morning for Hamilton, Ont. and was quickly replaced under the loader by the Assiniboine.


Algoma Harvester launched and keel laid for CWB Marquis

12/28 - Algoma Harvester, second of eight new Equinox-class ships built for the Algoma Central Corporation, was launched in a ceremony on Christmas Day at the Nantong Mingde Shipyard in Nantong City, China.

Meanwhile, in another ceremony, the keel was laid on December 26 for the third Equinox-class ship, CWB Marquis. The CWB Marquis will be owned by CWB Inc. (formerly the Canadian Wheat Board of Canada), however she will be managed by the Algoma Central Corporation.

Both ships follow the Algoma Equinox, the first of eight new Equinox-class ships being built in China for Algoma Central. Following Algoma Harvester and the CWB Marquis will be the CWB Strongfield. All will be non self-unloaders. There are also four self-unloaders being built at the Nantong Mindge yard – Algoma Conveyor, Algoma Sault and the Algoma Niagara and also a fourth yet unnamed vessel. These new ships are expected to join the Algoma Central Corporation fleet sometime from 2014-15.

Denny Dushane


Lookback # 41 – Prins Alexander sank after hitting reef on December 28, 1980

12/28 - The former Prins Alexander was one of three former Seaway salties lost 33 years ago today. Each became a casualty in different parts of the world.

The first victim of the day was likely Prins Alexander, as it was the farthest east of the stricken ships. Sailing under a sixth name of Poliagos, it struck a reef about a mile off Shadwan Island in the Red Sea while on a voyage from Piraeus, Greece, to Giza, United Arab Republic, with a load of cement. The ship had been reportedly sold to Pakistani shipbreakers but sank as a total loss before unloading its last cargo.

Originally part of the Oranje Line, Prins Alexander had been built at Hardinxveld, Netherlands, in 1947 for trading to St. Lawrence and Saguenay River ports. It began coming through the Seaway with three trips in 1959 and had come inland on 34 occasions to the end of the 1967 season.

A general cargo carrier, Prins Alexander delivered the engine to be installed in the French River while the latter was under construction at Collingwood in 1961. It is also remembered for a collision with the newly-built Silver Isle in fog and rain near Prescott on June 9, 1963, when she sustained significant damage that was repaired at Kingston.

The other two former lakes visitors in trouble on December 28, 1980, were the Holmside and Dunav. The former hit the jetty while inbound in ballast at Casablanca, Morocco, as Cabinda. Nine lives were lost. Later, on the Pacific, the latter, a Yugoslavian bulk carrier en route from Hamilton, Ontario, to Tsingtao, China, with a cargo of steel, disappeared with all hands, a total of 31 sailors, on the Pacific, after reporting to be taking water off Central Japan.

Skip Gillham


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-inch cylinder and 20-inch 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.


Icebreakers keeping traffic moving on the St. Marys River

12/27 - For much of the day Thursday the only vessels moving in the St. Marys River were the icebreakers, as Neebish Island’s upbound and downbound channels continued to be icy choke points.

USCG Mackinaw worked for most of the morning and into the afternoon to free the 1,000-footer Indiana Harbor on the downbound side of the Rock Cut, while the CCGS Samuel Risley, the Purvis Marine tug Wilfred M. Cohen and the G-tug Missouri were working with the stuck tug Leonard M and barge Huron Spirit on the upbound side. All traffic was halted while the icebreaking efforts continued.

In the mid-afternoon, Indiana Harbor was finally released, allowing the delayed Buffalo, Algoma Progress, Victory/James L. Kuber, American Mariner and Cason J. Callaway to get moving downbound. Although the first three vessels transited the Rock Cut without getting stuck, the American Mariner wasn’t so lucky. She was beset at the lower end of the Rock Cut, requiring the efforts of the Mackinaw to finally free her. As the day came to a close, the Callaway was attempting to pass through the Rock Cut on her own, as icebreaker assistance had stopped for the night. In the case of McKeil’s Leonard M / Huron Spirit, they spent 20 hours beset in the ice in the Stribling dyke area on the northeast end of Neebish Island. They were finally on their way to Essar Steel at Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., late in the afternoon to load steel coils, followed up river by H. Lee White.

Ice has not been a problem above the locks, and the Saginaw departed Essar’s Export dock Wednesday night for Thunder Bay without assistance.

At 11 p.m. Thursday, the Ken Boothe Sr. and barge Lakes Contender were hove to in Maude Bay awaiting daylight to continue their upbound transit, while Joseph L. Block was upbound at Point Aux Frenes and considering stopping for the night. Presque Isle was downbound above Ile Parisienne.

Roger LeLievre


Icebreakers, tugs helping vessels fight Seaway ice

12/27 - Three ice breakers assisting and two tugs are working to keep traffic moving in the St. Lawrence Seaway.

USCG Neah Bay is stationed at the Marine Base between Eisenhower and Snell locks and is working on keeping the track clear in that area from the Wilson Hill anchorage on down. CCGS Griffon is working in the Beauharnois sector, maintaining the track from Lake St. Francis to the lock. CCGS Martha L Black is working from Lake St. Louis down to the lock at St. Lambert. The tugs Ocean Golf and La Prairie are stationed at Cote Ste Catherine Lock and St. Lambert Lock respectively. The do a lot of work cutting ice off lock walls with their bows. Wednesday night, Ocean Golf had to pull Federal Kivalina out of the lock at Cote because she was jammed in the entrance. On Thursday night, CSL Laurentien seemed to be in the same predicament. Any ship with a 78-foot beam in the lower canal can easily get stuck when ice slides into the lock with the ship.

For the last two days there has been a steady stream of ships moving downbound. A backlog of salties has been cleared, but there are still six more above Iroquois, with Federal Sakura approaching Iroquois. The Seaway has been promising the upbound ships that have been waiting for two to three days that they will get their turn. This may clear the anchorage at St. Zotique out where two tows and Algoma Navigator have been waiting, but they have to get the ships cleared out of the south shore canal first, and that may take all night.

In a few days, temperatures are going to drop into the -20C range, which will cause more delays for any ships remaining in the system.

Ron Beaupre


Port Reports -  December 27

Midland, Ont. - Wayne Bradley
The grain carrier Frontenac was led into port by the US Coast Guard icebreaker Hollyhock Thursday.

Seaway - Ron Walsh
The saltie Orsula was still at Tibbetts Point at 1425 Thursday after a possible grounding Christmas day.


Coast Guard announces channel closure

12/27 - Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. – On Sunday the Coast Guard will close the waters between St Ignace, Mich., and Mackinac Island, effective 11 a.m. This will allow an ice bridge to form allowing island residents to cross to St. Ignace.


Canadian Coast Guard reviewing navigation and icebreaking fees, services

12/27 - Ottawa, Ont. - For the first time in 15 years, Canada’s coast guard is reviewing the amount it charges transport ships, ferries and other commercial vessels for navigational and icebreaking services.

The move comes as the coast guard works to manage a combination of mounting costs, budget cuts and growing demand for its services.

Canadian Coast Guard deputy commissioner Jody Thomas said the fee review is part of a larger examination of what services Canada’s commercial maritime industry need from the coast guard — and what might be phased out or reduced. “Our stakeholders want to ensure that they get good value for money,” she said in an interview.

“So it becomes a discussion of the fee base and the fee structure and what the range of services we offer are, and how we should work with them going forward.”

A working group that also involves industry representatives has been established to review the marine navigation services fee and icebreaking services fee, neither of which has changed since being introduced in 1996 and 1998, respectively.

The coast guard expects any proposed changes to be tabled in Parliament in the next year or two — though some officials would likely prefer sooner rather than later.

A secret briefing paper prepared in December 2012 for the Department of Fisheries’ and Oceans top bureaucrat, Matthew King, says the fees are an important source of revenue for the coast guard. But while they generate about $33 million each year, the paper notes that is significantly less than the coast guard’s $41-million “revenue target.”

“While the Marine Navigation Services Fee generally meets or exceeds its annual revenue target,” the briefing paper reads, “the revenue target shortfall associated with the Icebreaking Services Fee is approximately $8 (million) annually.”

That is even more significant given $56.8 million in spending reductions ordered by the federal Conservative government over the past three years, combined with growing demand for coast guard services.

“Rising marine traffic, technological changes, climate change impacts (such as fluctuating water levels), and extended shipping seasons are among the factors expected to place increased demands on coast guard services,” reads the briefing paper, which was obtained through access to information laws.

“(The) coast guard is trying to address these demands to the extent possible within its budget.”

Thomas described the coast guard’s financial situation as “tight,” but she said it is managing as best it can without compromising service to Canadians. “There’s not a government department in town that wouldn’t say, ‘Sure I could use more money,’ and given the choice we’d rather have more than less,” she said.

“But we’re very confident that our level of service is consistent with what we’ve offered in the past and that we’re not putting mariners at risk by the decisions we’ve made.”

Canadian Shipowners’ Association president Robert Lewis-Manning said the review provides an ideal opportunity to get a handle on what services industry needs from the Canadian Coast Guard and what can be reduced.

“When you’re talking about Canadian domestic shipping, ships that are registered and operate in Canadian waters or North American waters, we don’t see a big need for a lot of the physical navigational aids like buoys and markers,” he said.

But Lewis-Manning said any change — particularly an increase in fees — must strike a balance to ensure it doesn’t hurt Canada’s maritime industry.

“It’s not the marine industry that is the sole user of the coast guard’s services,” he said. “So we’ll try to work with the coast guard to figure out what that balance is. But no, it’s not a case of the industry can just absorb it. Or our customers.”

The marine navigation services fee was introduced in 1996 to help recover part of the cost of providing navigational buoys, lighthouses, maritime traffic information and other aids to commercial ships operating in Canadian waters.

The amount varies by vessel, and there are exceptions for ships travelling to and from the Arctic Circle.

The icebreaking services fee was created in 1998 costs $3,100 per vessel and applies to those ships travelling to or from ports along the northeast coast of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Great Lakes, St. Lawrence River and Gulf of St. Lawrence during certain times of the year.

Postmedia News


Lookback # 40 – Ciudad De Inca sank in a storm at Kingston on December 27, 1985

12/27 - The wooden sailing ship Ciudad De Inca dated from 1858 and, while rebuilt from time to time, it later became very popular at Tall Ship events at various locations.

The 125-foot-long vessel came to the Great Lakes for the Lake Ontario Tall Ships Extravaganza in 1984 but, because of legal difficulties arising over the loss of the Marques, owned by the same company, it stayed out of American waters during these events once it was on the lakes.

Ciudad De Inca remained on the Great Lakes afterwards and was moored at Kingston, first by the Marine Museum and later to the west at Portsmouth. It sank at the latter location in a snowstorm 28 years ago today.

The hull was refloated with only machinery damage but was later seized by the Federal Court over salvage costs.

The vessel was released in 1987 and left the Great Lakes. It was renamed Maria Assumpta in 1988 but broke up off the southwest coast of England with the loss of three lives on May 30, 1995.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  December 27

News Photo Gallery


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.

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.


St. Marys River traffic slowed by ices

12/26 - 10:30 a.m. update - Neebish Island's upbound and downbound channels continued to be icy choke points. Thursday morning, USCG Mackinaw was trying to free the Indiana Harbor on the downbound side of the Rock Cut, while the CCGS Samuel Risley and Purvis Marine tug Wilfred M. Cohen were working with the tug Leonard M and barge Huron Spirit on the upbound side. Once the Indiana Harbor is freed, downbound traffic will resume. Buffalo, Algoma Progress and Victory are all waiting between 5 and 9 mile, while the American Mariner and Cason J. Callaway are stopped at the locks. Ice is not a problem above the locks, and the Saginaw departed Essar's Export dock Wednesday night for Thunder Bay.

Original Report - Vessel traffic in the lower St. Marys River came to life slowly Christmas morning, with early snow hampering visibility.

Vessels that spent the previous night in the ice, including Mesabi Miner, Algoma Spirit and Kaye E. Barker, all began moving downbound past the still-stalled Defiance/Ashtabula. Great Lakes Trader made it down through the Rock Cut with no problems, thanks to the early morning work of the CCGS Samuel Risely.

At noon, Cedarglen was approaching the Rock Cut downbound with USCG Mackinaw leading the way. She was followed in the afternoon by Tecumseh, Lee A. Tregurtha and Arthur M. Anderson. Meanwhile, the upbound Mississagi, Manitowoc and the tug Leonard M. were all stopped south of Lime Island waiting for downbound traffic to clear, while Edwin H. Gott was near Pipe Island, with the seemingly indefatigable Risley on the scene. All upbounders were eventually cleared except the Leonard M and her barge, which was spending Wednesday night in the ice near Johnson’s Point waiting for a commercial tug to come to her aid Thursday morning.

As the evening drew to a close, Indiana Harbor and Buffalo were downbound above the lock. Algoma Spirit and Tecumseh were at anchor north of DeTour, with the latter told to expect a vessel inspector in the morning. The reason for the inspection was not known.


Orsula at anchor after possible grounding

12/26 - The saltwater vessel Orsula was listed at anchor at Tibbets Point Wednesday morning. Conversations around noon with Seaway Clayton indicated she ran aground. There was no explanation given. The crew was asked to take soundings every half hour and report any changes. Ship inspectors were being brought to check the vessel. Wednesday night, when the Atlantic Huron passed by, she was requested to check down as there were divers in the water.


Port Reports -  December 26

Lorain, Ohio – Phil Leon
The Dorothy Ann and Pathfinder cam into Lorain Tuesday night about 9:40 p.m. and left early Wednesday about 5:20 a.m. She was at the LFC dock #3.

Sandusky & Marblehead, Ohio - Jim Spencer
Two Great Lakes self-unloaders which arrived at Western Lake Erie loading dock on Tuesday spent Christmas Day idled, permitting crews of the Robert S. Pierson, at the LaFarge dock at Marblehead, and the Algorail, docked at the NS coal loading facility in Sandusky, the day off. Both could sail on Thursday.

Kingston, Ont. - Brian Johnson
So far, there’s been no trouble for ferries in the Kingston region. While ice is forming in the bays, the Wolfe Islander III continues into Marysville in her own track. There are no problems at the Glenora ferry, Amherst Island, Howe Island or Simcoe Island.


Lookback #39 – Former Colgate Hoyt wrecked on December 26, 1909

12/26 - The whaleback steamer Colgate Hoyt was built at West Superior, Wisconsin, and launched on June 9, 1890. The vessel entered service on July 29 and was heralded as the first whaleback steamer, as the previous ships of this design had all been barges.

Colgate Hoyt served the American Steel Barge Co. to 1900, the Bessemer Steamship Co. to 1901 and finished its Great Lakes service as part of the Pittsburgh Steamship Co. in 1905.

The 292-foot long vessel was sold to the Boutell Steel Barge Co., that year, cut in two at Ecorse, Michigan, and towed from the Great Lakes for reassembly at the Canadian Vickers shipyard in Montreal. The ship then began saltwater service as Bay City and usually operated in the East Coast coal trade.

Bay City joined the Seaboard Transportation Co. in 1909 and was renamed Thurmond on December 14 of that year. It was wrecked within two weeks. Thurmond was carrying coal from Newport News, Virginia, for Portland, Maine, when it was wrecked on the Toms River Bar off New Jersey 104 years ago today. While the vessel was a total loss, all 20 sailors on board were rescued.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  December 26

News Photo Gallery
Lay-up list updated


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.


Cutters work to free vessels as ice stalls traffic in lower St. Marys River

12/25 - Noon update: Vessel traffic in the lower St. Marys River came to life slowly Christmas morning, with early snow hampering visibility. Vessels that spent the night in the ice, including Mesabi Miner, Algoma Spirit and Kaye E. Barker, all began moving downbound past the still-stalled Defiance/Ashtabula. Great Lakes Trader made it down through the Rock Cut with no problems, thanks to the early morning work of the CCGS Samuel Risely. At noon, Cedarglen was approaching the Rock Cut downbound with USCG Mackinaw leading the way. If the Cedarglen makes it through OK, Tecumseh will be next, followed by Lee A. Tregurtha and Arthur M. Anderson. Meanwhile, the upbound Mississagi, Manitowoc and the tug Leonard M. were all stopped south of Lime Island waiting for downbound traffic to clear, while Edwin H. Gott was near Pipe Island, with the seemingly indefatigable Risley on the scene..

Original Report - Freezing temperatures and thick ice played havoc with shipping in the lower St. Marys River in the vicinity of Neebish Island Tuesday. At first light, in sub-zero temperatures and surrounded by sea smoke, the upbound Paul R. Tregurtha finally got moving, assisted by the CCGS Samuel Risley. The Tregurtha was followed by a parade of vessels that included American Century, Roger Blough, American Spirit, Edgar B. Speer, tugs Wilfred M. Cohen / Avenger IV and barge, Walter J. McCarthy Jr., St. Clair, Herbert C. Jackson (bound for Essar Steel) and Calumet.

The USCG Biscayne Bay, which was working with the Stewart J. Cort, stuck at the lower end of the Rock Cut in the morning, spent most of the late afternoon and evening Tuesday freeing Mesabi Miner, also beset in the cut. With the Miner blocking the way, Kaye E Barker and Algoma Spirit hove to in the ice for several hours until the channel was opened.

As Christmas Eve neared its close, the tug Defiance and barge Ashtabula, rare visitors to the area, were upbound north of Lime Island and struggling with the ice, followed by the tug Leonard M and her barge, which were not moving as of 11 p.m. and may have stopped for the night. Rt. Hon. Paul J. Martin was approaching DeTour Passage.

Three vessels were downbound above the locks in the late evening, however with no Coast Guard assistance in the Rock Cut available until first light Wednesday, Cedarglen and Tecumseh planned to spend the night on the piers below the locks, while Joyce L. VanEnkevort/Great Lakes Trader headed to the Hay Lake anchorage at Nine Mile.

As the day ended, Samuel Risley was hove to in the Rock Cut, while Biscayne Bay was underway in the vicinity of Pipe Island. The cutter Mackinaw spent the day Tuesday tied up at the USCG dock in Sault Ste. Marie. Saginaw was at the Essar Export Dock above the locks. The forecast Wednesday calls for snow and strong winds from the south which, coupled with at least two more nights of sub-zero temperatures, will not make the Rock Cut situation any easier.

Roger LeLievre


Downbound Seaway traffic given priority

12/25 - Seaway Eisenhower radio has reported to ships waiting to go down the river that downbound traffic is now a priority. Here is the list of ships due to transit down bound at St. Lambert as of 21:00 Dec. 24: AK Brother, Oakglen, Algoma Guardian, North Contender, Ojibway, Sapphire, Elevit, John D Leitch, Federal Mayumi, Barnacle, Thunder Bay, Vancouverborg, Federal Shimanto, Orsula, Federal Kivalina, BBC Celina, Emilie, CSL Laurentien, Vega Desgagnes, Federal Sakura, Federal Satsuki, Birchglen, Algosoo, Atlantic Huron, Manitoba, Sarah Desgagnes, Redhead and Maria Desgagnes. These vessels are spread out from just above St. Lambert lock to Lake Erie.

Ice in the canals is causing difficulties, especially around the lock gates. The icebreaker NGCC Amundsen is working in the South Shore Canal and Lake St. Louis along with two tugs, La Prairie and Ocean Golf. In the U.S. sector, USCG Neah Bay is working to clear ice away from the locks and maintain a track through the channel between the locks.

Ron Beaupre


Port Reports -  December 25

Marquette, Mich. - Rod Burdick
Michipicoten waited to load ore at the Upper Harbor on Christmas Eve afternoon.

Mackinac Island - Robert McGreevy
Due to the abundance of ice in the Straits of Mackinac, the ferry Huron, which runs from St. Ignace to Mackinac Island, has cancelled service until further notice.

Sandusky & Marblehead, Ohio - Jim Spencer
The Algorail remained at the NS coal dock Tuesday night, having loaded overnight and during the day. As Christmas Eve moved toward the hour when Santa and his team normally part the skies over Western Lake Erie, the wind which had been a feature of the day, became mere zephyrs and partly cloudy skies awaited moonrise. The mid-sized Algoma Central freighter was listing Hamilton, Ont., as her next port of call. At Marblehead, the Robert S. Pierson arrived at the Lafarge stone dock late Tuesday afternoon, replacing the Interlake fleet tug Dorothy Ann and barge Pathfinder. The 630-foot Lower Lakes self-unloader was posted for Toronto, Ont., when she sails. Weathermen were forecasting a chilly nine degree (F) low Christmas morning, when light winds were expected to help usher in the next in a continuing series of weather fronts that have been sweeping over Lake Erie in a continuing parade.


Seaway tolls to Increase by 2.5 percent in 2014

12/25 - The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SLSMC) announced a toll rate increase of 2.5 percent for the 2014 navigation season. The new revised tariff will be posted and available on the Seaway website on January 6, 2014.


Army Corps: Fish can breach Chicago barrier designed to stop Asian carp

12/25 - Detroit, Mich. – A new research report from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says that fish are capable of crossing an electrical barrier designed to keep Asian carp from using the Chicago ship canal to enter the Great Lakes.

The report says there’s no evidence that Asian carp are bypassing the barriers, which were established to prevent billions of dollars in potential damage to the Great Lakes fisheries. But the report says that initial findings show that passing vessels can capture fish and transport them beyond the electrical barriers. In addition, the report says that certain barge configurations could affect the strength of the electrical field.

The report says that could let schools of 2- to 4-inch fish pass the barrier. The Army Corps released the report Friday.

Detroit Free Press


Door County museum speaker series resumes with shipwright

12/25 - Sturgeon Bay, Wis. – The Door County Maritime Museums Maritime Speaker Series continues Thursday evening, Jan. 2, with a presentation by shipwright Keith Kollberg. Well known on the Door Peninsula for his stunning boat restoration efforts, Kollberg will reflect on his business, Star Board Wooden Boatworks, as well as the restoration of an historic 16-foot rowing skiff currently on exhibit at the Sturgeon Bay museum.

Kollberg restored the 16-foot wooden skiff in 2006. The boat is on permanent display in the museum’s John Roen Asher Gallery alongside other historic wooden small boats. It has significant local interest since it dates back to 1918 and was constructed in Sturgeon Bay. It is one of the earliest creations of Sturgeon Bay Boatworks, which was founded in 1918 by Hans Johnson and Herman Gmack. The business would ultimately become internationally renowned yacht-builder Palmer Johnson Yachts, Inc. Interestingly, many decades after Sturgeon Bay Boatworks was founded, Kollberg’s talents have been employed by Palmer Johnson on a number of high-profile projects.

The Maritime Speaker Series continues the first Thursday of the month through March. On February 6, Mark Holey of the United States Fish & Wildlife Service will present a program on the local fishery. The series concludes on March 6 when Lt Cdr. John Kaser, Supervisor of the United Sates Coast Guard Marine Safety Detachment in Sturgeon Bay, will present a program on the duties of his Sturgeon Bay-based office.

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


Lookback #38 – George M. Carl stranded off Toronto on Christmas Day 1975

The last trip of the 1975 season lasted a little longer than expected for the George M. Carl, as it missed the turn at Toronto to enter the Western Gap, kept going and stranded in Humber Bay 38 years ago today. It was not the Merry Christmas that the crew had been anticipating.

Fortunately, the vessel landed on a soft bottom and was not damaged. It was freed, with the aid of tugs on December 27 and able to make the short trip to the dock with its winter storage cargo.

The George M. Carl, second laker to carry this name, was built as Fred G. Hartwell in 1923, became Matthew Andrews in 1951 and came to the Canadian side of the Great Lakes to join the Misener fleet as George M. Carl in 1963.

The 617-foot-long bulk carrier once held the record for delivering the largest cargo of coal to Duluth and may still hold the record for carrying 4,699 cords of pulpwood through the Seaway. The latter cargo had been loaded at Baie Comeau, Quebec, in July 1972 and was destined for the Ontario Paper Company at Thorold, Ontario.

The George M. Carl operated in the grain trade in its final few years and tied up at Toronto for the last time on December 21, 1982. Following a sale to Marine Salvage and resale to Spanish shipbreakers, the vessel arrived at San Esteban de Pravia, under tow, for dismantling on September 17, 1984.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  December 25

News Photo Gallery


Today in Great Lakes History -  December 25

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.


Port Reports -  December 24

Marquette, Mich. - Rod Burdick
Kaye E. Barker and Lewis J. Kuber loaded ore at the Upper Harbor on Monday.

St. Marys River
9 a.m. update: At first light Tuesday, in sub-zero temperatures, the upbound Paul R. Tregurtha was moving again, assisted by the CCGS Samuel Risley and headed for what will likely be tough going on the east side of Neebish Island. Tregurtha was followed by an impressive parade of vessels that included American Century, Roger Blough, American Spirit, Edgar B. Speer, tug Wilfred M. Cohen and barge, Walter J. McCarthy Jr. and St. Clair. Meanwhile, the USCG Biscayne Bay was working with the Stewart J. Cort, beset at the lower end of the Rock Cut. Mesabi Miner, Kaye E Barker and Algoma Spirit were downbound above the locks.
Original Report: Traffic Monday during the day included the upbound Presque Isle and Michipicoten. Pineglen was downbound in the late afternoon and got stuck trying to make the turn south of Lime Island. The tug Avenger IV and the Paul R. Tregurtha, headed up river, got her loose. As midnight approached, Frontenac was downbound into that area and CSL Assiniboine was leaving the locks. Stewart J. Cort and Philip R. Clarke were downbound above the locks. The icebreaker Samuel Risley was hove to in the ice in Mud Lake and the USCG Mackinaw was docked at the Soo.

Sandusky & Marblehead, Ohio - Jim Spencer
Algorail was loading Monday night at the NS coal dock. The 640 footer arrived shortly after noon and when loaded will sail for Hamilton, Ont. Monday before daybreak Herbert C. Jackson cleared the dock and was upbound for Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. At Marblehead on the South Channel through the Erie Islands, the Manistee completed loading aggregate at the Lafarge stone dock. She sailed for Cleveland, arriving during the late afternoon.

Toronto, Ont. - Jens Juhl
Two lakers were on the wrong side of the bridge when the lights went out. The weekend ice storm knocked out electric power, disabling the ship channel bridge and delaying the departure of Algosteel and Robert S. Pierson. Both lakers had finished unloading much-needed cargoes of road salt. When power was restored at 10:30 a.m., a couple of test lifts were made due to concerns about ice buildup on the structure. Shortly after noon the both vessels exited the ship channel and departed via the east gap.

Rochester, N.Y. - Tom Brewer
Stephen B. Roman arrived at the Essroc dock with a load of bulk cement about 8:30 Monday morning.


End may be near for former Seaway tanker Eastern Shell

12/24 - Things are not looking good for the former Eastern Shell (ii). The vessel was spotted anchored along the shore at Colon, Panama, on December 7. Her name was painted out and it appears that some of the cabin windows are broken. A trip to a scrap yard may be in the vessel's future before too long.

After a 30- year career on the Great Lakes, the ship went south in 1992 for a new service as a refueling tanker around the Panama Canal. It was named Colon Trader that year and then became Cypress Point in 2003. It seems to have served at both Colon and Cristobal providing bunker service to ships transiting the busy waterway.

This was Hull 176 from the Collingwood shipyard and it was launched for the Canadian Oil Company as W. Harold Rea on August 25, 1962. The 355-foot, 6-inch long tanker operated out of Sarnia to company storage facilities carrying their “White Rose” brand of fuel.

Shell purchased the Canadian Oil Co. in 1963 and waited until 1970 to rename the ship as their second Eastern Shell. It provided Great Lakes and St. Lawrence service as well as trading around Maritime Canada. The vessel underwent a significant upgrade at Saint John, NB at the end of the 1980 season with new tanks coating and improved accommodations.

Eastern Shell sustained fire damage while a cargo tank was being repaired at Sarnia on May 16, 1988, but there were no injuries. A grounding near Parry Sound due to fog on May 10, 1990, resulted in repairs at Portship in Thunder Bay.

The ship was sold to Socanav in 1988 and the name was changed to Le Cedre in 1991. The vessel was laid up at Sorel in 1992 when it was sold for Panama Canal service.

Skip Gillham


Seaway closing: Change in agreement date for Montreal-Lake Ontario section

12/24 - Mariners are advised that due to high traffic levels and navigation conditions, the cut off date for acceptance of a downbound transit through the Montreal to Lake Ontario Section under special agreement has been modified as follows: Subject to favorable operating conditions, any ship calling in downbound at CVC after 23:59 hours, December 24 , 2013, but before 02:00 December 28, 2013,may be accepted to transit the Montreal to Lake Ontario section, under special agreement. The date for upbound vessels has not changed. Therefore, any ship calling in upbound at CIP2 after 23:59 hours, December 24, but before 12:00 December 29, 2013, may be accepted to transit the Montreal to Lake Ontario section, under special agreement and subject to favorable operating conditions. For both instances, all vessels must be clear of the Montreal to Lake Ontario Section by 23:59 December 30th, 2013.


Lookback #37 – Spud-laden Tukwila Chief caught fire in Atlantic on December 24, 1982

12/24 - The small Panamanian flag freighter Tukwila Chief had loaded a cargo of potatoes at Souris, Prince Edward Island, and was two days out in the Atlantic when a fire broke out in the engine room. The blaze eventually spread through the cabins and gutted the after end of the ship. One crewman lost his life.

The blaze of 31 years ago today ended the career of the vessel. The hull was towed into Sydney, Nova Scotia, on December 28 and declared a total loss. Some of the cargo was salvaged before the Tukwila Chief made one last trip into the Atlantic where it was scuttled in deep water on September 20, 1983.

This general cargo carrier had been built at Papenburg, West Germany, in 1961 as Esther Charlotte Schulte. It began Seaway service the next year, on charter to the Hamburg-Chicago Line, making four trips to the Great Lakes.

It became Tukwila Chief in 1980 and made one trip through the Seaway bringing animal feed to Hamilton earlier in December 1982. The 308-foot freighter was outbound when it took on its final cargo of famous P.E.I. Potatoes.

Skip Gillham


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

St. Marys River - Jerry Masson
Morning river smoke coupled with seasonal snowfall was causing reduced visibility in the lower river Sunday. Samuel Risley was called to assist Burns Harbor in the Rock Cut while Mackinaw was breaking ice for the upbound Indiana Harbor. Algoma Progress and James R. Barker were also upbound. Edwin H Gott was downbound earlier, with Algolake and Manitoba in the upper river as night fell.

Owen Sound, Ont.
The USCG Biscayne Bay arrived around 6 a.m. Sunday. She stopped in the harbor until 7:30 and started breaking ice around P&H Elevators. Michipicoten arrived around 9 a.m. and unloaded grain. Both Michipicoten and Biscayne Bay will depart together after she finishes unloading. The port is also expecting one layup this winter, which will likely be the Algorail at North-West Dock by P&H.

Sandusky, Ohio - Jim Spencer
Herbert C. Jackson entered the harbor late Sunday afternoon, bound for the NS coal dock. As darkness closed over the dock and a chill mist enveloped the area, the Interlake fleet self-unloader was positioned under the loading chute and coal was pouring into the cargo hold.

Erie, Pa. - Gene
Manistee arrived in Erie around 6:30 a.m. and unloaded salt at the Mountfort terminal. The weather was about 60F at 10 a.m. but at 11 a.m. a heavy fog formed and then the wind started up. Manistee left about 3 p.m. and by then the front had moved through and visibility was unlimited.


Great Lakes increase one of Canada's Top Ten weather stories for 2013

12/23 - At the beginning of the year, the Great Lakes were not looking so great. Water levels on each of the lakes were well below their long-term average. In fact, Lake Michigan-Huron was at its lowest level in recorded history. Too many warm record-dry seasons combined with year-round evaporation and half the ice cover of 30 years ago were to blame. Nature just couldn’t deliver enough runoff, rain and snow to counterbalance the moisture loss and outflows.

In January, Lake Michigan-Huron dipped 1 cm below its previous record low monthly level set in March 1964. The water level was more than two metres below the lake’s record high set in October 1986 and lower than it had ever been for any month since modern record-keeping began in 1918.

The lower lake levels and expanding shorelines spelled trouble for lakeside businesses, commercial shippers and the environment, and were leaving cottagers and recreational boaters high and dry. At the beginning of spring, water levels ranged from 17 cm below the 1918-2012 average in Lake Ontario to 68 cm below the long-term average for Lake Michigan-Huron, and were significantly lower than levels the same time last year. Levels and flows in connecting rivers were also lower than normal, including the St. Lawrence at Montreal where an exceptionally dry summer in 2012 resulted in record low water levels from July through September.

By summer of 2013 there was some good news – a snowy winter and a much wetter-than-normal spring resulted in water levels throughout the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River system rising significantly. This year was one of the top five wettest in 66 years and the Great Lakes levels responded with a welcome rise. All ended the year higher than they were at the same time last year. The level of Lake Ontario was a few centimetres above its 1918-2012 long-term average, and lakes Superior, St. Clair and Erie were within 15 cm of their long-term averages.

While Lake Michigan-Huron remained 40 cm below the average, wet conditions kept it well above its record low levels. By the beginning of November, all the Great Lakes had gained between 10 and 31 cm relative to the monthly average over the course of the year. Downstream, levels in the St. Lawrence River also recovered, fluctuating around average values throughout much of the spring and early summer before falling somewhat below average during the late summer. Still, they were well above the record lows experienced the previous year.

Environment Canada


Lookback #36 Montcalm helped in dramatic rescue at sea on December 23, 1963

12/23 - The British freighter Montcalm was a regular Seaway trader for many years. It first came inland in 1960 shortly after being completed that May by Wm. Doxford & Sons (S.B.) Ltd. at Sunderland, England. The 440 foot, 1 inch long general cargo carrier made a total of 29 trips in and out of the lakes to the end of 1967.

Fifty years ago today, on December 23, 1963, the Captain responded to a distress call from the passenger liner Lakonia. The latter was on fire off Madiera and was in dire need of assistance. Along with the freighter Salta, they were able to rescue 475 passengers and crew but another 128 lives, 95 passengers and 33 crew, were lost.

Lakonia, the former Dutch flag passenger liner Johan Van Oldenbarnevelt, dated from 1930 and had only recently been rebuilt for Greek flag cruising service. It had left Southampton, England, on December 19 for an 11-day cruise. The fatal fire broke out in the ship's barber shop and was blamed on an electrical short circuit. Eight members of the crew were charged with negligence.

The hull was taken in tow but heeled over and sank 250 miles west of Gibraltar on December 29.

Montcalm was sold and renamed Capo San Marco in 1971. It visited the Seaway that year under the flag of Italy.

The ship was rebuilt as the livestock carrier Siba Edolo in 1983 and, after five more years of service, arrived at Chittagong, Bangladesh, for scrapping on August 8, 1988.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  December 23

News Photo Gallery


Today in Great Lakes History -  December 23

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.

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.


Traffic resumes at St. Lambert lock, repair expected

12/22 - 2:30 update - Seaway Beauharnois has announced the closure of the St. Lambert Lock today at 2 p.m. Replacement of the ship arrestor is expected to take a minimum of twelve hours.

During repairs the Seaway has stated that the four ships now anchored below Beauharnois Lock #3 at the Point Fortier anchorage will be moved into the South Shore Canal, close to St. Lambert Lock. Movement of the vessels closer to St. lambert Lock will expedite the downbound transits once repairs are completed. At the Point Fortier anchorage are the, Federal Oshima, Lalandia Swan, Americaborg and the Baie Comeau. The four vessels will transit the canal once the Wilf Seymor clears the South Shore Canal upbound. The Algowood is downbound approaching Beauharnois Lock #4 with a green light for Lock #3 also, but has not yet been included as part of the downbound convoy.

The tug and barge Wilf Seymor were instructed to secure to the Cote Ste Catharine lower wall because the ship arrestor at that lock is not functional at this time. The Wilf Seymor was informed by Seaway Beauharnois that repairs were expected to take one hour. Once replacement of the St. Lambert ship arrestor is completed, and the four downbound vessels clear St. Lambert Lock, the remaining upbound vessels will be permitted to proceed.

Just prior to closing the St. Lambert lock the John Spence attempted to enter the lock without success due to ice build-up on the lock walls. She was instructed to back out of the lock and secure once again to the lower approach wall and await the replacement of the ship arrestor before proceeding.

Also secured at the St. Lambert lower wall is the the tug Salvor and the Evans Mckeil.

Four other vessels remain in Montreal Harbor awaiting upbound transit. They are the Algoma Navigator, Baie St. Paul, Algoma Discovery and the John B. Aird.

Original Report - The repairs to the ship arrestor at St. Lambert Lock have been completed and the Kaministiqua has passed down through to Montreal Harbor. After her, there are 27 more ships on the list for St. Lambert Lock.

Repairs to the St. Lambert Lock are expected to take place today and will consist of replacing the ship arrester. A convoy of five vessels have transited the lock downbound and five will transit upbound before the lock once again closes for the necessary repairs. The closure will leave vessels anchored below the Beauharnois locks at the Point Fortier anchorage and below St. Lambert in Montreal Harbor awaiting repairs. The exact time of the closure has not been announced but is expected Sunday morning. On average, if all equipment and crew are in place, the replacement of the ship arrester should take about twelve hours. Heavy snow and freezing rain at Montreal may hamper those efforts to open the Seaway once again.

Ron Beaupre


Port Reports -  December 22

Marquette, Mich. - Rod Burdick
Tug and Barge Olive L. Moore and Lewis J. Kuber arrived Saturday afternoon at the Upper Harbor to load ore.

St. Marys River
The saltie Federal Satsuki out of Thunder Bay was downbound at the Soo Saturday around 10 p.m. This was the last saltwater vessel on Lake Superior for the season. Other evening traffic included the upbound Lee A Tregurtha, Algocanada (to Soo, Ont.), Tecumseh, Kaye E. Barker and Cuyahoga. Algosoo and Algoway were downbound above the locks in the late evening. Vessels are moving well through lower river ice, though that could change with below zero temperatures in the forecast for Sunday and Monday nights.

Alpena, Mich. - Ben & Chanda McClain
The Alpena arrived at Lafarge around 1 p.m. on a snowy Friday to load cement. The tug Samuel de Champlain and barge Innovation were also in port on Friday, coming in before 10p.m. The tugboat Manitou is still going out to assist the cement carriers if needed when entering and leaving Lafarge. Most of the ice is light and the bay is open water, for the time being.

Marblehead, Ohio - Jim Spencer
Tug Dorothy Ann and barge Pathfinder loaded throughout the day Saturday at the Lafarge stone dock.


Channel closings for winter

12/22 - Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. – The Coast Guard will close the South Channel, in the waters between Cheboygan Michigan and Bois Blanc Island, Michigan, at 8 a.m. Monday.


Extent of early lakes ice greatest since 1990

12/22 - C - A recent historic comparison of ice shows that the ice this season is heaviest since 1990.

Chuck Miller


Lookback #35 – Martha Hindman sank in Goderich harbor on December 22, 1978

12/22 - As the bulk carrier Martha Hindman, sailing in its first season with the Quebec & Ontario Transportation Co. fleet, approached the Lake Huron port of Goderich, it struck the breakwall and tore open the hull on the starboard side.

It was now a race for the dock and the ship reached the shallower area and settled on the bottom 35 years ago today. The grain-laden steamer was patched, pumped out, unloaded and able to resume trading the next spring, but this time as Lac Des Iles.

It only put in two years under this name and, after a grounding in the Detroit River on October 6, 1980, the vessel required drydocking. The damage was extensive and Lac Des Iles tied up at Toronto on November 18.

Following a sale for scrap and a resale for work as a storage barge in Tampico, Mexico, the ship headed south, under tow, passing through the Seaway on May 5, 1981. Heavy weather struck off the coast of Virginia and the old freighter, now classed as a barge, sank ESE of Cape Charles on June 1, 1981.

The 550-foot long vessel enjoyed a 76-year career in five different fleets beginning with the L.C. Smith Transportation Co. as Lyman C. Smith in 1905 before coming into Canadian service for Hindman Transportation in 1966.

Skip Gillham


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.

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

Sandusky & Marblehead, Ohio - Jim Spencer
The Hon. Paul J. Martin loaded overnight at the NS coal dock. She sailed amid spring-like temperatures shortly before noon for Hamilton, Ont. Taking the place of the Canadian self-unloader was the American Mariner. Warmer weather is expected to allow her to load throughout the night and sail on Saturday. At Marblehead, the tug Defiance and barge Ashtabula continued to load throughout the day, having arrived at the dock overnight. On the hook nearby and slated to begin loading when the Lower Lakes Towing team cleared the Lafarge stone dock was the tug-barge Dorothy Ann and Pathfinder. The pair loaded Thursday at the dock, did a quick run to Windsor, Ont. and returned to Marblehead Friday Morning.

Kingston, Ont. – Ron Walsh
Last Tuesday the tug Ocean Golf came to Kingston light tug. The Thalassa Desgagnes was in Milhaven Friday morning. English River is still running from Bath and she was westbound in the Welland Canal Friday morning.

St. Lawrence Seaway - Ron Walsh
At 6:45 Friday, Seaway Clayton reported to the Evans McKeil that the number 2 fender was inoperative at St. Lambert Lock and ships were being sent to anchor. Traffic would resume when that was repaired. One ship reported that they had taken three days to go from Montreal to Cape Vincent. The tugs Robinson Bay and Performance were removing lighted aids in this area. Kingston is under a freezing rain warning with a major ice storm possible Saturday afternoon and on into Sunday.


Last saltie departs Duluth-Superior

12/21 - Duluth, Minn. – The Marshall Islands-registered Orsula became the last oceangoing vessel of the 2013 season to clear the Twin Ports when she departed Duluth just before 1900 hours Thursday evening, December 19th. She was also the last oceangoing ship of the season to arrive in port on December 15th. Orsula took on a split load of approximately 22,000 metric tons of durum wheat, stopping first CHS 1, then finishing her load at Gavilon (ex Peavey), both terminals located on the Superior waterfront.

Just as Orsula was preparing to depart the Gavilon dock, the inbound American Century appeared to encounter difficulty with harbor ice while the 1,000-foot laker was attempting to turn in the East Gate basin just downstream of the Blatnik Bridge. Because the Orsula's departure path wouldn't be clear until the Century was on her way toward St. Louis Bay again, the Orsula's escort two harbor tugs left her briefly to make a foray over to assist the Century. With that task finished the tugs returned to the waiting saltie and the Orsula got on her way. One of the tugs stayed with her all the way to the last turn before the Duluth ship canal, while the other split off and returned to assist the American Century as she attempted to dock at Midwest Energy, again in heavy harbor ice.

Local news crews who'd been staking out Canal Park earlier in the afternoon appeared to have left and just a few hardy onlookers were present to see the Orsula off as an icy northerly breeze blew across the canal and a small, choppy northeast swell rolled in off of Lake Superior. At least one of the local news stations still came up with some scenic footage of the ship's departure shot from the hillside above downtown Duluth, and her departure attracted coverage from statewide media in Minnesota as well.

The Port of Montreal lists Orsula's first stop after crossing the Atlantic on this voyage as Castellon de la Plana, Spain, and local media in Duluth report that her cargo is ultimately destined for Italy. Orsula was built in 1996 as Federal Calumet for the familiar Montreal-based Fednav fleet of oceangoing ships. Within a year she was chartered by Croatian-based shipping company Atlanska Plovidba and given her current name, although Fednav retained management of the vessel and she has continued to sail in their colors for her entire career. She's now listed as owned outright by a subsidiary of Atlanska Plovidba. Orsula's departure leaves one ocean vessel still in port on Lake Superior. Federal Satsuki, another Fednav vessel, was still at Thunder Bay on the evening of the 19th, and shifted between grain elevators in the harbor a few hours after Orsula left Duluth.


Lookback #34 – Rimouski last down Seaway on December 21, 1988

12/21 - A quarter century ago today, the Canada Steamship Lines bulk carrier Rimouski closed the Seaway navigation season. The 730 foot long vessel was down bound at the time after another busy year of Great Lakes and St. Lawrence trading.

Rimouski was Hull 181 at the Collingwood shipyard and it entered the water on February 4, 1965. The ship departed May 15 to begin what proved to be a relatively abbreviated 28-year sailing career.

Often the ship was engaged in the titanium ore trade along the St. Lawrence between Havre St. Pierre and Sorel or Contrecoeur. As a result, it was not as well known around the Great Lakes ports as some of the company running mates.

It did take the last load of iron ore out of Thunder Bay on September 25, 1986, after the Canadian mines in the area had closed. Later, that year it was damaged while docking at Prescott and had to go back to Thunder Bay for hull repairs.

On March 26, 1991, Rimouski opened the Seaway navigation season but its days were coming to an end. The ship tied up at Montreal on December 30, 1993, and never sailed again.

The ship was acquired by Upper Lakes Shipping in 1994 as part of the C.S.L. decision to dispose of their straight deck bulk carriers operating under the banner of “Great Lakes Bulk Carriers.” While renamed Canadian Harvest, the ship remained idle until departing, under tow for India, in 1995. Tug problems delayed the voyage and, when it resumed, winter had arrived.

Canadian Harvest broke in two on December 3, 1995, while about 114 miles northeast of infamous Sable Island. The stern drifted away and sank. The bow, still under tow, was released two days later and soon slid to the bottom of the Atlantic.

Skip Gillham


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 was brought to Miami, unloaded and then 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.


Seaway Traffic Delay

12/20 - At 6:45 Seaway Clayton reported to the Evans McKeil that the number two fender was inoperative at St. Lambert Lock and ships were being sent to anchor. Traffic would resume when that was repaired. One ship reported that they had taken three days to go from Montreal to Cape Vincent. The tugs Robinson Bay and Performance are removing lighted aids in this area Kingston is under a freezing rain warning with a major ice storm possible tomorrow afternoon and on into Sunday.

Ron Walsh


Ice traps Undaunted and Pere Marquette 41

12/20 - Straights of Mackinac - A Coast Guard crew and the crew of the tug Joyce L. VanEnkevort helped the Undaunted and unloaded barge Pere Marquette 41  break free from between two ice floes 20 miles west of the Mackinac Bridge near White Shoal Light in Lake Michigan early Friday morning.

At about 4:10 a.m., a search-and-rescue controller at Coast Guard Sector Sault Ste. Marie was contacted by the crew of the Undaunted, which reported that they were stuck in between ice floes. The crewmember reported the vessel was drifting towards White Shoal Light and estimated that they would run aground within 2 hours.

The SAR controller immediately responded by issuing an urgent marine information broadcast, which is a broadcast that asks any boaters or other agencies in the vicinity to assist if able.

At about 4:30 a.m., the crew of the tug Joyce L. VanEnkevort, responded to the broadcast and proceeded to assist the Undaunted.

The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw, a 240-foot icebreaker homeported in Cheboygan, Mich., was also directed to aid the Undaunted. The Mackinaw was in the lower St. Marys River near Munuscong Lake at the time.

The Undaunted broke free from the ice floe at about 6 a.m. and rendezvoused with the Mackinaw at about 9:30 a.m. The icebreaker escorted the tug and barge to Ludington, Mich.

"Although we always appreciate when nearby mariners render assistance to others in need, it's very important that they don't place themselves in harm's way in the process," said Mark Gill, director of vessel traffic services at Sector Sault Ste. Marie. "Before assisting, mariners should always consider the risks and the limitations of their vessels and contact the Coast Guard, so we can ensure a coordinated the response. We don't want one vessel in distress to become two."


Great Lakes coal trade down 7.3 percent in November

12/20 - Cleveland, Ohio – Shipments of coal on the Great Lakes totaled 2.7 million tons in November, a decrease of 7.3 percent compared to a year ago, and well below 35.2 percent the months long-term average. Shipments were also 4.1 percent less than October’s tally of 2.8 million tons.

Shipments from Lake Superior ports totaled 1.6 million tons, a decrease of 9.2 percent compared to a year ago. Coal transshipped from Superior, Wisconsin, to Quebec City, Quebec, for loading into oceangoing colliers totaled 129,000 tons. Exports to Europe from Superior total 1,504,000 tons through November. In 2012, Superior’s overseas exports for the same period totaled 1,252,000 tons.

Loadings in Chicago totaled 314,000 tons, a decrease of 11.6 percent compared to a year ago. Shipments from Lake Erie ports totaled 771,000 tons, a virtual repeat of a year ago. Year-to-date the Lakes coal trade stands at 22.4 million tons, a decrease of 2.7 percent compared to a year ago.

Lake Carriers Association


Last saltie of 2013 shipping season departs Port of Duluth-Superior

12/20 - Duluth, Minn. – The last oceangoing vessel to call on the Port of Duluth-Superior for the 2013 shipping season departed Thursday about 7 p.m. The Orsula arrived Sunday to load a total of nearly 22,000 metric tons (24,250 short tons) of durum wheat at the CHS and Gavilon grain terminals in Superior. Bound for Italy, the Orsula will be the last saltie to make a full transit this season of the 2,340-mile Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway system.

The 656-ft Orsula, flagged in the Marshall Islands, is operated by Fednav Limited, the largest dry-bulk shipping company in Canada. Based in Montreal, Fednav also had the honor of hosting the 2013 season’s first ship ceremony here in the Twin Ports aboard its Federal Hunter. [March 30 being the earliest arrival on record]. In both cases, Daniel’s Shipping Services served as local vessel agent.

Laker traffic will continue on the Great Lakes for a few more weeks as the Soo Locks (Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.), won’t officially close to vessel traffic until midnight on January 15. Those locks are scheduled to reopen for the 2014 shipping season on March 25, the same day as the Montreal-Lake Ontario and Welland Canal sections of the St. Lawrence Seaway.

Duluth Seaway Port Authority


Cold blast over Great Lakes has icebreakers busy

12/20 - A prolonged Arctic blast over the Great Lakes has icebreakers trying to keep ships moving through unusually thick ice. You don't need to close your eyes to imagine what it's like on one of Mike Ojard's 2,500-horsepower, 100-foot long ice breaking tugs in the Duluth-Superior harbor. The ice is already six to 18 inches thick.

“If you can imagine dragging a bunch of steel buckets through a rock pile continually, that's what the sound is like,” says Ojard, “and the shaking and the banging, and you've got a tugboat that weights 600 ton(s) and you're stopped just instantly. You're shot from one side to the other.”

He says one of his tugs even broke a rudder in the ice.

Coast Guard icebreakers and cutters Mackinaw and Biscayne Bay are working with Canadian cutters at the St. Mary's River, a bottleneck of boats connecting to Lake Superior. The ice has brought a few 1,000-foot-long super-carriers to a standstill.

Mathew Anderson is with the Coast Guard at Sault St. Marie, Michigan. “We've had a few that have gotten hung up in the turns, and that's primarily where it is, when they're trying to make a turn there's not room for the stern to come around in the ice. We've had icebreakers working in the lower river for the last few days.”

Meanwhile, Ojard, who's been in the business for a few decades, says this just doesn't happen this early. “There's ice in Lake [Superior]! When have you seen that at the first part of December? I can't remember this early.”

No more Arctic blasts are in the immediate forecast, but temperatures are expected to remain below freezing. While the St. Lawrence Seaway closes for the season on Christmas, the Great Lakes shipping season continues for another month.

Wisconsin Public Radio


Toronto Ferry shuts down

12/20 - Toronto, Ont. – The ferry between the Toronto Ferry Docks and the Toronto Islands is not operational, leaving approximately 700 residents to make alternate plans to get to shore.

The city says the William Inglis ferry is temporarily out of service, damaged by ice on Wednesday. Staff discovered "a very minor leak" in the hull of the ferry and ceased operation on Wednesday.

Toronto Ferry is telling riders to go through the island airport to reach land. A bus leaves on the hour to bring passengers to the ferry there.

But island resident Liz McClelland says it feels as though she is stranded, calling the service to the airport ferry very intermittent with delays as long as two hours.

"When the ferry isn't operational, like today, we have to rely on the ferry docks providing us with bus transportation through the island airport, which is always prone to delays because the bus has to wait for a break in plane take-offs and landings," she said.

There won't be a replacement ferry — the city is bringing out another vessel called the Ongiarais — to come out of dry dock until Thursday or Friday for normal service.

"Aside from shopping for groceries, today has impacted kids trying to get to school, people trying to get to work, attending appointments, and so on and so on," McClelland said.

CBC News


Cote St. Catherine Wharf closed due to ice

12/20 - Mariners are advised that due to ice conditions in the South Shore Canal, the Cote St. Catherine wharf will no longer be available for the loading And /or unloading of cargo until further notice. Conditions will be monitored closely and any changes will be communicated promptly.


Port Reports -  December 20

Saginaw River - Todd Shorkey
The USCG Cutter Bristol Bay escorted the tug Samuel de Champlain, and her cement barge, Innovation, into the Saginaw River on Thursday. Bristol Bay broke the ice in the shipping channel then proceeded to open up the Lafarge Cement dock in Essexville and the Essexville turning basin before heading back outbound for the lake Thursday afternoon. The Samuel de Champlain and Innovation were at Lafarge unloading through the day and were expected to be outbound early Friday morning.

Lorain, Ohio - Phil Leon
Tug Defiance and barge Ashtabula arrived in Lorain Thursday morning and cleared the Charles Berry bridge about 7:20 a.m. They departed about 10 p.m.

Sandusky & Marblehead, Ohio - Jim Spencer
The Interlake fleet tug Dorothy Ann and barge Pathfinder completed loading at Marblehead Thursday and sailed for Windsor, Ont. It wasn't clear if the Windsor stop was for fuel, or if the duo was bound farther north.

At the NS coal dock in nearby Sandusky, the tug Victory and self-unloading barge James L. Kuber moved down the outbound channel and departed for Sault Ste. Marie during the early afternoon. A short time after the pair cleared the harbor, the Hon. Paul J. Martin picked up the hook it had been laying to SE of Kelleys Island for more than 24-hours and slid under the loader at the NS dock.

Toronto, Ont. - Jens Juhl
A busy day at Toronto Drydock. Around noon the city ferry Ongiara was floated out and the tug Radium Yellowknife was floated in. This morning the William Lyon MacKenzie was out breaking ice.With the current mild spell the prevailing northerly and westerly winds should push most of the ice out into the lake via the east gap.


Early ice causing problems on Lake Michigan

12/20 - Chicago, Ill. – An earlier-than-normal freeze in the Chicago area is disrupting holiday plans for some people hoping to take a cruise on Lake Michigan. Low temperatures in recent weeks have quickened the annual chill of Lake Michigan, growing sheets of ice a month earlier than usual, disrupting holiday plans for local cruise lines and bringing winter chores for harbor masters and industrial shippers.

The early pockets of ice have prompted one Chicago cruise line to cancel its New Year's Eve fireworks cruise for the first time in five years. The company that manages harbors on the lakefront has started efforts to protect their docks from ice. And in the northern part of Lake Michigan, the Coast Guard has been busy breaking through ice, making sure shipping crews can make their scheduled deliveries.

As of Monday, more than 13 percent of Lake Michigan was covered by ice, compared with its icelessness this time last year, said George Leshkevich, a physical scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory. Over the past five years, the average ice coverage on Lake Michigan around this time of year was closer to 2 percent, according to laboratory data.

In fact, it was not until Jan. 22 this year that ice cover compared with the amount on the lake now. The laboratory predicts that up to 62 percent of the Great Lakes will be frozen over this winter, above the long-term average of 55 percent.

"With this cold spell we've been having, ice we find has been forming earlier on the lakes than ... the past few years," Leshkevich said. "(Forecasts) are indicating a season with a little bit above normal ice cover."

In Chicago, Shoreline Sightseeing had to refund about 70 tickets for its New Year's Eve lake event, largely because the boats they would have used are small open-air vessels, tough for sightseers, said Amy Hartnett, Shoreline's director of sales and marketing.

While boats have been moved out of lakefront harbors since mid-November, there is work that must be done now to minimize damage to docks due to more than a foot of ice, said Scott Stevenson, vice president of Westrec Marinas, the company that manages Chicago's harbors. A Chicago Park District-owned tugboat, The Commissioner, runs up and down the channels in Burnham Harbor to break the ice and keep it from building up too much pressure on the docks. Other harbors have underwater tube systems around the docs that blow compressed air bubbles to break down the ice.

"We've found that by breaking up the ice, we have less damage," Stevenson said. "When ice moves around, it can be damaging."

The ice forming around Chicago pales in comparison with the problems that the Coast Guard has been battling farther north. In the upper Great Lakes, ice-cutting operations are making way for commercial vessels in and out of the Port of Green Bay, said Chief Petty Officer Alan Haraf of the Coast Guard's public affairs office.

The Coast Guard's annual operation to retrieve buoys and other navigational aids that would be damaged under the ice, usually between October and late December, was also more complicated this year because of the early freeze, said Petty Officer 3rd Class Christopher Yaw, a spokesman out of the Coast Guard's Cleveland office.

Clearing a path through the ice is vital for the U.S. shipping industry, which can move 20 percent of its annual total cargo during the ice season, or about 16 million to 18 million tons, said Glen Nekvasil, vice president of the Lake Carriers' Association, a trade group. Every year, 25 million to 35 million tons of iron ore are shipped to the lower end of Lake Michigan, particularly to the Indiana steel mills in Gary, Indiana Harbor and Burns Harbor.

The ice is getting formidable, particularly in the lower St. Marys River, which connects Lake Superior to the lower Great Lakes.

"Most of the iron ore and the biggest coal shipping ports are on Lake Superior, so if our ships can't get through the St. Mary's River, the steel mills won't get their iron ore and power plants won't get their coal," Nekvasil said.

Two Coast Guard icebreakers as well as one from Canada are working on the river, Nekvasil said.

"This is shaping up to be a very tough winter," he said. "We have had a number of mild winters recently, and one of our concerns has been that the crews on the icebreakers, with mild winters, they do not get the experience that they need.

"But they're doing a good job," Nekvasil said.

Chicago Tribune


Lookback #33 – Orna captured by pirates on December 20, 2010

12/20 - The Greek freighter Orna began Seaway trading in 2003 after having been a regular caller to the inland seas under four previous names. The ship was hijacked by pirates three years ago today while about 400 nautical miles northeast of the Seychelles. Rocket propelled grenades were fired and the ship was boarded, taken to Somalia and held for ransom.

Later, when payment was slow in coming, the ship was set ablaze. The vessel was finally released on October 29, 2012, after a $400,000 ransom was paid. However, the captain, chief engineer and four others were detained in an effort to obtain more money.

The 586 foot, 4 inch long vessel was built at Maizuru, Japan, in 1984 and first came through the Seaway as St. Cathariness in 1986. It was back as Asian Erie in July 1990, as Handy Laker in May 1992, was renamed Moor Laker at Chicago in June 1998 and became Orna in 2003.

Orna ran aground in the Seaway above the St. Lambert Lock due to an engine failure on May 5, 2006, while down bound. Tugs were needed to refloat the ship. It last traded into the Great Lakes in 2008 and, based on photos o its current condition, is ultimately bound for the scrapyard.

Skip Gillham


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.


Coast Guard cutter crew to break ice in Saginaw Bay channel, warns of unsafe ice conditions

12/19 - Detroit, Mich. – The crew of Coast Guard Cutter Bristol Bay is scheduled to break ice in the Saginaw Bay shipping channel starting at 8 a.m. Thursday and continuing into the evening. The crew of Bristol Bay, a 140-foot ice-breaking tug homeported in Detroit, will be conducting ice-breaking operations as part of Operation Coal Shovel, which is managed by Coast Guard Sector Detroit.

The crew will be escorting the tug Samuel de Champlain pushing the barge Innovation from the Saginaw Bay area to Essexville, Mich. The ice in these areas should be considered unstable and dangerous, and the Coast Guard is advising everyone to stay clear. The Samuel de Champlain will be departing 12 to 24 hours after its arrival in Essexville.

Operation Coal Shovel is the ice-breaking operation that is responsible for lakes St. Clair, Erie and Ontario, and the southern part of Lake Huron, as well as the St. Clair and Detroit river systems.

U.S. Coast Guard


Port Reports -  December 19

Marquette, Mich. - Rod Burdick
Barge Lewis J. Kuber loaded ore at the Upper Harbor on Wednesday. The cargo, on her first visit of 2013, appeared to be loaded directly from the ore cars.

St. Marys River
Ice in the lower river east of Neebish Island caused trouble Wednesday morning for the upbound Pere Marquette 41 and tug Undaunted and Algosoo, which were being assisted by the CCGS Samuel Risley. The USCG icebreaker Mackinaw was in the lower liver Wednesday assisting the tugs Anglian Lady and Avenger IV with their barge. The salties Emilie and AK Brother were downbound.

Sturgeon Bay, Wis. - Jim Conlon
Sam Laud arrived at Bay Shipbuilding on Tuesday afternoon.

Sandusky & Marblehead, Ohio - Jim Spencer
The current late fall cold snap may be causing problems for Great Lakes freighters loading at Sandusky and Marblehead. It is common for cold weather to produce cargo that has become frozen clumps that are difficult to handle. The tug Dorothy Ann and barge Pathfinder continued loading at the LaFarge dock in downtown Marblehead Wednesday night. At Sandusky, the tug Victory and barge James L. Kuber also continued loading at the NS coal dock. Meanwhile, the Hon. Paul J. Martin -- originally posted for loading at Ashtabula -- remained on the hook east of Kelleys Island. She will apparently load at the NS dock.

Buffalo, N.Y. – Brian W.
The firetug Edward M. Cotter was out breaking ice on the Buffalo River Tuesday. The lake was already 4 degrees colder than normal for that time of year and plate ice was in place all around the harbor. This was enough to cause dredging operations to wrap up for the year and Luedtke's equipment was tied up at the Cargil Pool Elevator.

Toronto, Ont. - Jens Juhl
The tug barge combo Petite Forte/St Marys Cement is currently alongside at the Terminal 52 west wall. Toronto Island residents are in for an interim long haul commute to the city via bus and the airport ferry. The William Inglis was pulled out of service yesterday due to ice conditions and is presently being buttoned up for the winter. The ice-capable Ongiara is still high and dry in Toronto Drydock.


Algoma plans winter work on several vessels

12/19 - St. Catharines, Ont. – It looks to be a busy winter works in 2014 at Algoma Ship Repair. Already, the company’s fabrication shop is at work making cargo hopper gates for the Peter R Cresswell and Algoma Transport. There are tank top panels to be welded up for the Algoma Transport and Algoma Enterprise, as well as shell renewal panels for the John D Leitch.

In Sarnia, expect to see the Algoway, Algoma Olympic and Peter R Cresswell. The Cresswell will have the aforementioned gates installed, 34 in all, as well as some repairs to her screen bulkheads (cargo hold divisional bulkheads). Algoma Olympic will get her long-awaited side tank bulkheads fitted in way of numbers 2 & 3 water ballast tanks as well as miscellaneous tank top repairs.

In Port Colborne, the company will be working on the John D. Leitch shell repairs and installing the last two deck arches and the longitudinal side tank bulkheads in hold No.3 on the John B Aird. Algoma Enterprise will get about one third of her tank top renewed similar to the Algoma Transport.

In Hamilton, the three sister ships, Algoma Spirit, Algoma Discovery and Algoma Guardian, will be together for miscellaneous repairs and engine room piping. Algoma Transport will get the second installment of her tank top panels and the Algoma Equinox will probably arrive later in the winter to get her DVS (Delivery Voyage Strengthening) removed prior to sailing the lakes next season. This will amount to about 250 tons of steel removed, meaning she will be able to carry that much more in cargo at Seaway drafts.

Algoma Central - Bear Facts


Navy christens new combat ship at Marinette Marine

12/19 - Marinette, Wis. – The U.S. Navy christened a new Littoral Combat Ship Wednesday during a ceremony at Marinette Marine's shipyard. The USS Milwaukee was launched into the Menominee River and christened by Sylvia Panetta, wife of former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta.

Milwaukee is 388 feet long and equipped with four waterjet engines made to propel the ship to speeds of 40 knots. Littoral Combat Ships are speedy warships designed to fight immediately off shore.

Marinette Marine is in the middle of a contract to build 10 littoral combat ships for the U.S. Navy.

Tugs standing by with assistance were the Great Lakes Towing tug's Texas and Indiana from Green Bay and Basic Marine tugs Erika Kobasic and Nickelena from Escanaba.

Also during the late morning the new build r/v Sikuliaq was outbound for sea trials on Green Bay waters.

Wendell Wilkie


Lakes November limestone trade on track with last year

12/19 - Cleveland, Ohio – Shipments of limestone on the Great Lakes totaled 2.8 million tons in November, a virtual tie with a year ago. The November total was down 10 percent from the month’s long-term average, and 22 percent below October’s float of 3.6 million tons.

Shipments from U.S. ports totaled 2.3 million tons, a near perfect repeat of a year ago. Loadings at Canadian quarries dipped slightly to 505,000 tons.

Year-to-date the Lakes limestone trade stands at 26.4 million tons, an increase of one boatload compared to a year ago, but 5.6 percent below the long-term average for the January-November timeframe.

Lake Carriers Association


Wolverine ends power plant speculation in Rogers City

12/19 - Rogers City, Mich. – With federal greenhouse gas limits looming, Wolverine Power Cooperative has decided to cancel its plans to build a coal-fired power plant near Rogers City.

The cooperative announced its decision Tuesday morning, citing new and pending Environmental Protection Agency rules that make it nearly impossible to build a coal-fired power plant. Ken Bradstreet, governmental affairs consultant for the project, said he and Wolverine CEO Eric Baker told a group of supporters and elected officials that proposed limits on greenhouse gases make the project impractical.

"We wanted to see what the new proposed rules would be from the EPA," he said. "They came out this fall, and we had a chance to analyze them. It appeared to us that they were not going to allow a coal plant to be built. It's that simple."

The EPA is in the process of coming up with greenhouse gas limits for existing plants, and on Sept. 20 issued a proposed emissions limit of 1,100 pounds of carbon dioxide per megawatt-hour of energy produced for new plants. While the proposal specifically exempts Wolverine's project, the cooperative would have to start construction before the rules are finalized to remain so. Otherwise, the plant couldn't meet the standard.

While Bradstreet wasn't sure when the proposed limit would be finalized, Wolverine's permit to build the plant expires in mid-2014. With all the steps required before breaking ground, the cooperative's time to make a decision had run out.

"With all the resources we've put into this, it doesn't seem like it's going to be allowed to happen," he said.

Wolverine first announced the project in 2006. The 600-megawatt plant would've burned mostly coal, supplemented with an oil refinery byproduct called petcoke, and up to 20 percent biomass. The proposed site was within Carmeuse Lime & Stone's Calcite quarry, and the plant would've used the quarry's limestone in its pollution controls.

The project had several setbacks, including the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality's initial denial of an air permit. That decision eventually was reversed, which led to a lawsuit from two environmental organizations in 2011. The DEQ and Wolverine won, but the project was held up again in 2012 after the EPA proposed mercury and air toxics standards the new plant couldn't meet.

After this year's revisions to those standards gave Wolverine a small chance to go ahead, the EPA delivered the final blow with its greenhouse gas standards.

The new EPA proposal mentions capturing carbon dioxide as the best way to meet greenhouse gas standards. From there, it could be stored underground, possibly in oil fields or geological formations.

These technologies are new and expensive, and adding carbon capture to Wolverine's plant would make it even more costly, Bradstreet said in January.

While a natural gas-fired power plant would fall within the new proposals, Rogers City is too far from any major pipeline, Bradstreet said. The cost of building a connection would make the project too expensive. Wolverine will have to look for other means to meet its power needs.

"You've got a limited number of options to work with," he said. "It appears that coal is out, and it appears that nuclear is very, very difficult. About the only avenue that is left is natural gas."

The project could've served as a major economic resource for the Rogers City area and enjoyed lots of local support, Bradstreet said. He personally believes regulations that prevent using coal for energy are short-sighted and make it difficult for the nation to become energy-independent.

"We are so grateful to the community, they've been outstanding for their support," Bradstreet said. "One of the hardest things about walking away from a project like this is, people have wanted it so much."

The Alpena News


Lookback #32 – Lakeshell aground in Georgian Bay on December 19, 1980

12/19 - With the 1980 navigation season winding down, Lakeshell (III) was among the several ships still engaged in trading on the Great Lakes. The Seaway closed 33-years ago today with Senneville as the final transit passing through the St. Lambert Lock.

Lakeshell was in the Parry Sound area of Georgian Bay on December 19, 1980, and, buffeted by heavy winds and rapidly forming ice, stranded on Telegram Rock. Another Canadian tanker, Imperial Sarnia, was in the area and lightered some cargo This enabled Lakeshell to be refloated on December 21.

Lakeshell had been built by Marine Industries of Sorel, Quebec and entered service in April 1969. The 399 foot, 9 inch tanker served in the Shell fleet to 1987 and then sailed for Socanav as W.M. Vacy Ash.

It left the Great Lakes in the mid-1990s and became Eltokaween, Panamanian registry, in 1997. Following a sale to shipbreakers, the vessel arrived at Alang, India, on June 18, 2003, for dismantling.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  December 19

News Photo Gallery
Lay-up list updated


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. ports report brisk November cargo tonnage through Seaway System

12/18 - Washington, D.C. – While the 2013 shipping season saw overall fluctuating cargo figures, U.S. ports on the Great Lakes have continued to outperform their initial projections.

“The shipping industry in the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway System relied heavily on our terminal operators and longshoremen this month as they loaded and unloaded ships full of steel, grain, iron ore, coal and general cargo” said Rebecca Spruill, Director of Trade Development at the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation. “That’s just a few of the cargoes that moved across our U.S. docks in a safe, efficient and very timely manner.”

The 2013 shipping season was a good one at the Port of Toledo. Through November the port saw increases in all major cargo categories with the exception of iron ore. General cargo shipments at Midwest Terminals of Toledo have more than doubled over 2012 with aluminum, project cargo, and the resurgence of steel coils handling leading the way.

“We are just beginning to reap the rewards from the investments made in improving our infrastructure and material handling capability,” said Joe Cappel, Director of Cargo Development for the Port of Toledo. “With the addition of the new Ironville Terminal next year, we expect to continue to see growth in tonnage and types of commodities handled in our network of facilities. Our strength resides in the diversity of products we have the ability to handle in Toledo along with our central location within the system. The Toledo Shipyard also had a successful November which included the dry docking of the car ferry Jimaan and the first of two Algoma tankers.”

In November, back-to-back shipments of inbound pig iron along with a robust grain export program pushed overseas cargo in Toledo up nearly 17 percent over 2012. Grain shipments were up 8 percent over 2012.

“There were very active grain shipments from Toledo in the fourth quarter of 2013, primarily soybeans, and in parallel with other port ranges including Gulf and Pacific North West. Record weekly and monthly shipments of U.S. soybeans, primarily to Chinese destinations, drove the volumes,” said Jim McKinstray, Vice President Central Merchandising and Transportation for The Andersons.

“Aiding this upward movement were exceptional crops in virtually all production regions, which stands in sharp contrast to the "once in a generation" drought experienced just one year ago. A combination of foreign flag direct shipments and laker transshipments through Canadian ports enabled this active trade,” he added.

The Port of Milwaukee is also wrapping up a strong year. Raw materials for use in regional industries have kept port cargo numbers up. Overall tonnage for the year shows a large increase driven by substantial dry bulk quantities. Salt, primarily used for street deicing, saw the largest jump in cargo volume in 2013. Through November, the port handled 1.3 million tons of salt – more than twice the amount handled in 2012.

“Through the month of November, cargo volume reflects better manufacturing activity in the region served by the Port of Milwaukee,” Acting Port Director Paul Vornholt said. “Infrastructure investments at the Port continue to improve the customer experience, and we hope that is a factor in maintaining and growing our traffic in the coming years.”

U.S. grain has been a consistent bright spot throughout the shipping season. In November, 1.4 million metric tons of U.S. grain moved through the System, representing a 17 percent increase year-to-date over 2012. As noted above, steel is driving tonnage for some U.S. ports, but iron ore shipments remained down in November by nearly 7 percent while coal shipments dropped only .09 percent for the month. The liquid bulk category posted an 11 percent jump over the same time in 2012.

Marine Delivers


U.S.-flag cargo movement on lakes down 4.7 percent in November

12/18 - Cleveland, Ohio – U.S.-flag Great Lakes freighters carried 8.7 million tons of dry-bulk cargo in November, a decrease of 4.7 percent compared to a year ago. The total was also 8.7 percent below November’s long-term average, and down 11.2 percent from the 9.8 million tons the fleet moved in October. Weather delays were a factor in the decreases.

U.S.-flag lakers moved 3.8 million tons of iron ore in November, 68.2 percent of all ore moving on the Lakes/Seaway that month. The 3.8 million tons represent an 8.5 percent decrease from a year ago, and a 10.1 percent decrease compared to Novembers long-term average.

Coal shipments in U.S. hulls totaled 2.2 million tons in November, a slight decrease from a year ago, and 8.3 percent below the month’s long-term average.

The 2.3 million tons of limestone hauled by U.S.-flag lakers in November represented a slight increase over a year ago, but fell short of the month’s long-term average by 5.5 percent.

Through November the U.S.-flag float stands at 82 million tons, a marginal increase compared to a year ago. Iron ore and limestone are slightly behind last year’s pace, but coal cargos have increased by 3.8 percent.

Lake Carriers Association


Lake Michigan ships encounter early ice

12/18 - Green Bay, Wis. – The frigid start to December is causing concerns for the Port of Green Bay. Thick ice on the bay is threatening to shut down the shipping industry, much earlier than normal. Ships entering the Fox River these days are having to plow through the ice.

"Winter is here and early, and with that the ice is accumulating and accumulating to thicknesses that are causing some problems for the port," says Brown County Port Director Dean Haen, pointing out he can't remember such a frigid start to winter.

"I don't recall it ever being this early. We are having to have some ice breaker assistance to get in the last remaining vessels of the year."

Haen says ships can break through about 8 inches of ice on their own. But already, the ice is much thicker on the bay, which is why the shipping companies are hiring private companies to break up the ice. If they're unable to, the Coast Guard steps in. And that work isn't cheap.

"If the Coast Guard's doing it, it's on the taxpayer, if the private companies are doing it, those shipping lines are paying it, there's a cost," says Haen.

According to Haen, ship captains determine when the shipping season closes, which could be any day now. But with an $88 million a year industry benefiting every day ships can sail, vesselmen along the river are holding their breath.

"Everyone wants to get in their cargo and they're trying to get it in and if we do shut down a little earlier than normal, sometime before Christmas, they'll probably be itching to get started early next spring," says Haen.

In recent years, the shipping season has stayed open until mid-January. This year, that's highly unlikely.



Port Reports -  December 18

Marquette, Mich. - Rod Burdick
Lee A. Tregurtha and Michipicoten arrived at the Upper Harbor to load ore on a wintry Tuesday afternoon.

Stoneport, Mich. - Denny Dushane
Arthur M. Anderson was expected to arrive on Tuesday in the late evening to load. There are no vessels scheduled to load on Wednesday and the Anderson may be the last vessel and load of the season.

Calcite, Mich. - Denny Dushane
Philip R. Clarke loaded a limestone cargo on Tuesday at the South Dock in Calcite. There are no vessels scheduled for Wednesday. Due to arrive on Thursday in the late afternoon will be the Manitowoc for the South Dock. Manitowoc's arrival will also signal the last load of the 2013 season.

Lorain, Ohio - Phil Leon
The tug Defiance and barge Ashtabula departed Lorain at 9:20 a.m.

Buffalo, N.Y. – Brian W.
American Mariner was inbound for General Mills at 7 a.m. Tuesday


Lookback #31 – Seaway trader Tecun Uman lost on December 18, 1975

12/18 - The Belgian cargo carrier Tecun Uman was built at Tamise in 1963 and first came through the Seaway in 1969. The 318 foot, 3 inch long vessel also traveled inland in the early 1970s on charter to the Hamburg-Chicago Line.

Following a sale in 1975, the ship resumed trading as Imbros and was now registered in Cyprus. The vessel had a cargo of railway sleepers and was travelling from Mobile, Alabama, to Sept Iles, Quebec, when it encountered heavy seas about 250 miles east of Savannah, Georgia.

It last reported in 38-years ago today and then disappeared without a trace. The entire crew, of between 19 and 22 sailors, were all lost at sea.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  December 18

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

Milwaukee, Wis. - Dan McNeil
The G.L. Ostrander and barge Integrity entered winter lay up Sunday at the Milwaukee salt dock.

Alpena, Mich. - Ben & Chanda McClain
All the cement carriers were in port over the weekend to load at Lafarge. The Malcolm Marine tug Manitou arrived in the area on Friday to break ice in the shipping channel and to make sure vessels had no problem getting into Lafarge. The tug G.L Ostrander and barge Integrity came in on Friday night, followed by fleetmate Samuel de Champlain and barge Innovation on Saturday night. The Alpena tied up under the silos around midnight on Monday.

Stoneport, Mich. - Denny Dushane
Joseph H. Thompson loaded at Stoneport on Monday and was due to depart around 6 p.m. Due to load on Tuesday and arriving in the early morning will be Arthur M. Anderson.

Calcite, Mich. - Denny Dushane
Manistee was expected to arrive at the North Dock in Calcite to load in the early afternoon on Monday. Philip R. Clarke was also expected to arrive at the South Dock at about suppertime also on Monday. There are no vessels scheduled for Tuesday. Due on Wednesday is the Manitowoc expected to arrive for the South Dock in the early morning.

Toledo, Ohio - Denny Dushane
Algoma Progress loaded coal at the CSX Coal Dock on Monday. There are three vessels scheduled to load on Tuesday. Cason J. Callaway and H. Lee White are both late afternoon arrivals for the CSX Coal Dock. Kaye E. Barker is due to arrive in the late evening on Tuesday for CSX. Vessel arrivals for the Torco Dock include H. Lee White on Tuesday morning followed by Algoma Olympic in the late evening. H. Lee White returns to Torco on Sunday, December 22 in the mid-afternoon and CSL's Whitefish Bay is due at Torco on Tuesday, December 24 in the early morning. Wrapping up the schedule are two vessels scheduled on Christmas Day at Torco, with Lakes Contender arriving first in the early morning followed by the Atlantic Erie in the late evening. Three other vessels were also in port Monday –Jiimaan, the salty Federal Kivalina and the tug Victory / barge James L. Kuber.

Lorain, Ohio - Drew Leonard and Phil Leon
The tug Defiance and barge Ashtabula arrived in Jonick Dock around 5 p.m. with a full load of coal.

Sandusky, Ohio - Jim Spencer
The CSL Laurentien arrived at the NS coal dock late Monday afternoon. She began loading and is not expected to sail until late Tuesday or Wednesday morning.


Green Bay ice breaking operations

12/17 - Green Bay, Wis. – The U.S. Coast Guard is conducting ice breaking operations in the waters of Green Bay. These operations will likely occur in some areas used by recreational users such as but not limited to the Fox River and lower Green Bay, Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal, Little Bay De Noc, and the entrance channel into Marinette and Menominee.


Early-season ice on Muskegon Lake creating issues for B. C. Cobb coal shipments

12/17 - Muskegon, Mich. – The coal-carrying Great Lakes freighter Buffalo came into an iced-over Muskegon Lake Monday morning, Dec. 16 with a load for the B.C. Cobb Generating Plant.

Early season ice on Muskegon Lake made it a bit difficult to get the Buffalo in position to unload at the Cobb dock on the far east end of the lake, according to Consumers Energy spokesman Roger Morgenstern.

Just before noon, Morgenstern said that the captain of the 635-foot Buffalo was attempting to turn the ship around in the ice-jammed lake to back into the Cobb plant slip. To assist, Andrie’s 75-foot tugboat Meridith Ashton was being sent to assist.

The Andrie tug crew has been busy late in the shipping season as it rescued a disabled freighter last week in Lake Michigan, bringing it to the Mart Dock on Muskegon Lake for repairs.

The Buffalo will deliver its load and return to Lake Michigan later Monday, Morgenstern said. The continued commercial shipping on Muskegon Lake creates a safety hazard for fishermen or others going out on the early-season ice, he added.

The Buffalo is not the last coal shipment planned for the Cobb plant, Morgenstern said. The 700-foot H. Lee White is expected to deliver two, 25,000-ton loads of coal before the end of the year. The tentative times of the White’s arrival are 9 p.m. Dec. 27 and 8 p.m. Jan. 1. However, in late season scheduling, ship arrivals can be off by many hours if not days due to weather conditions.

“Late arriving ships and early arriving winter weather has created a potential for safety hazards on the ice of Muskegon Lake,” Morgenstern said. “We are still shipping on Muskegon Lake and will be through Jan. 1. The public needs to keep this in mind if they are going out on the ice. We will keep the public updated as our shipping season comes to an end.”



2 Maid of the Mist vessels scrapped

12/17 - Two members of the famous Maid of the Mist fleet have been broken up for scrap. They were no longer needed for the Niagara River service when Hornblower Niagara Cruises secured the contract to carry passengers from the Canadian side of the river to the base of the Horseshoe Falls.

The name Maid of the Mist has been part of Niagara River history since 1846 when the first Maid of the Mist served as a ferry between the Canadian and American sides of Niagara Falls. When the Suspension Bridge opened, business declined. A new Maid of the Mist began a tourist service in 1854 but this was curtailed about 1860 due to economic factors and the outbreak of the American Civil War.

The service returned as the Maid of the Mist Steamboat Co. with the construction of a new Maid of the Mist in 1885. This wooden steamer was joined by the Maid of the Mist No. 2 in 1892. These vessels maintained the service until they were destroyed in a fire during fit out at their winter quarters in Niagara Falls on April 22, 1955.

Two replacement ships were built at Owen Sound and entered service in 1956. This new Maid of the Mist operated on the route until 1990. It was sold to another company in 1992 to provide excursion service at Toronto as Chippewa. Its fleet mate, Maid of the Mist II was retired in 1983. It had made history in 1960 with the rescue of 7-year old Roger Woodward who survived a plunge over Niagara Falls. This latter ship was sold to the United Pentecostal Church for missionary work on the Amazon River as El Refugio II.

Maid of the Mist III was added in 1972. This vessel operated until 1997 when it was replaced by a larger ship and scrapped.

Maid of the Mist IV and Maid of the Mist V were built by Hike Metal Products in Wheatley, Ontario, and added to the fleet in 1976 and 1983 respectively. They served the company well, but as the oldest and smallest members of the 2013 fleet, they would no longer be needed with the reduced demand in 2014.

When their season ended in October 2013, both ships were pulled out of the water and broken up for scrap by the Hamill Machine Co. at the old winter quarters at the base of the Niagara Gorge. The scrap steel was trucked up the hill for recycling. Both ships were completely dismantled before the end of November.

The surviving members of this historic operation are Maid of the Mist VI and Maid of the Mist VII. They are spending the winter ashore on the American side of the Niagara River and will re-enter the water to resume service in the spring of 2014. The former was built by Duratug of Port Dover, Ontario, in 1990 while the latter was completed by the Cartier Construction Co. at Belleville, Ontario, in 1997.

The recent dismantling of the two oldest Maids was an efficient and environmentally friendly project. It was carried out by Hamill Machine, which had serviced the vessels during their recent years of operation.

Skip Gillham


Lookback #30 – Kallistratos last saltie leaving the Seaway on December 17, 1982

12/17 - The Cypriot flag cargo carrier Kallistratos was the last saltwater ship of the 1982 season to depart the St. Lawrence Seaway. The 387 foot long, 4229 gross ton cargo ship closed the system 31 years ago today.

The Spanish built freighter had been built at the port of Bilbao and completed in June 1969 for Nav. Bilbaina S.A. of Spain. It first sailed as EOLO and came through the Seaway that first year. It was sold and renamed Kallistratos in 1977 and was back inland, under the Greek flag, in 1979. It was flying the flag of Cyprus as it left the lakes in 1982.

The ship became Olympic in 1986 and Bilkar 1 in 1991. The latter began with registry in Malta but, at the end, it was under the flag of Georgia. The vessel was sold to Turkish shipbreakers and arrived at Aliaga on May 8, 2009, for scrapping by Kursan Ltd.

Skip Gillham


Obituary: Steve Gillotte

12/17 - Steven Frances Gillotte of Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., died December 6. As a young man, he left school to join the merchant marine, then sailed on the Great Lakes for six years on vessels such as the Myron C Taylor, A.F. Harvey, Homer D. Williams and August Ziesing. He retired from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Soo Locks reporting room, where he complied statistics on the vessels locking through. He also created the first American-Canadian currency exchange office outside of a bank, retired from that business, and then worked for Soo Locks Boat Tours.

Services will be held at a later date


Updates -  December 17

News Photo Gallery


Today in Great Lakes History -  December 17

While breaking ice off Colchester Reef, Lake Erie on 17 December 1917, the HENRY CORT (steel propeller whaleback bulk freighter, 320 foot, 2,234 gross tons, built in 1892, at W. Superior, 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.


Ice update: USCG cutters keeping traffic moving

12/16 - Vessels that were stalled in the St. Marys River Sunday morning due to ice below Neebish Island were moving again by noon thanks to the efforts of the USCG cutter Biscayne Bay. Meanwhile, it is expected that the icebreaker Mackinaw will be joining in the efforts to maintain vessel tracks in the St. Marys as conditions worsen. Weather forecasters are predicting more snow and below freezing temperatures all week. In related news, the MacArthur Lock is scheduled to close today. Grays Reef Passage will close at 6 p.m. Wednesday. Katmai Bay has been busy breaking ice in the Duluth-Superior area, along with local tugs.


Port Reports -  December 16

Stoneport, Mich. - Denny Dushane
Cason J. Callaway loaded at Stoneport on Sunday and was expected to depart around 6 p.m. At anchor waiting to load next was the Joseph H. Thompson, taking the dock following the Callaway's departure. There are no vessels scheduled for Monday. Arthur M. Anderson is due on Tuesday in the early morning to load.

Toledo, Ohio - Denny Dushane
The tug Dorothy Ann and barge Pathfinder were due to load coal on Sunday at the CSX Coal Dock # 4 machine. However there were cars that needed to be re-railed, thus the loading process was not expected to get underway until about noon-1 p.m. Following the Pathfinder was the Algoma Progress, expected to arrive in the late afternoon on Sunday also loading at the CSX Coal Dock. Cason J. Callaway is due on Monday during the early afternoon. Due on Tuesday at the CSX Coal Dock are two vessels, with the H. Lee White returning in the late morning followed by Kaye E. Barker in the late evening. There is no activity scheduled for the Midwest Terminal Stone Dock and it would appear that this dock is now closed for the season. Plenty of vessels are due at the Torco Dock with iron ore cargoes, with the H. Lee White arriving on Tuesday during the early morning along with the Algoma Olympic in the late evening. H. Lee White returns to the Torco Dock in the morning on December 22 and CSL's Whitefish Bay is due at the Torco Dock on Monday, December 23 in the late evening. Three vessels are due at the Torco Dock on Christmas Day, with the Atlantic Erie arriving first in the early morning followed by the Lakes Contender at noon and the Algoma Enterprise in the early afternoon. Three other vessels were also in port, with the Jiimaan, Algocanada and the salty Federal Kivalina all at docks along the Maumee River in Toledo.


Lighthouse on Lake Huron can be yours for $1 million

12/16 - Port Sanilac, Mich. – Ice chunks cling to the rocks and float along the shoreline of Lake Huron as heavy snow clouds hover over the horizon, threatening a storm to come. But no matter how dark it gets, the Port Sanilac lighthouse will guide anyone out on the lake to shore.

It’s been that way since 1886.

“When you’re there in the winter and the winds start kicking up, you get a real sense of what it was like when there was a keeper there carrying kerosene up the stairs to the light, doing his job,” said Tim Conklin, who has owned the lighthouse and its attached caretaker’s house with his wife, Ian Aronsson, since the 1990s when she inherited it.

Aronsson’s grandfather Carl Rosenfield, founder of Carl’s Chop House in Detroit, bought the property from the government in 1928 for $4,000 after it was decommissioned.

“Back when the government originally sold the lighthouse, it didn’t have that kind of historic connotation that they do now,” Conklin said. “They just sold it as surplus government property.”

Now the couple has decided to sell the property, which has been the time capsule for more than 80 years of their family’s memories.

“It’s been a constant living history for us,” Conklin said. “The things that are inside, it’s not a museum where things were collected from the period; it’s stuff that’s been used.”

Conklin and Aronsson have used the lighthouse as a weekend and summer home, taking the time to renovate the attached 2,400-square-foot three-bedroom, 1 1/2-bath home.

Price for the lighthouse and caretaker home: $999,800.

The lighthouse is a beacon for both ships and for the village of about 620 residents in the Thumb area, said Port Sanilac village president Andy Fabian.

“The history is just incredible. There are some great stories attached to that building,” said Fabian, owner of the Van Camp House Restaurant. “It’s the centerpiece of our community.”

The lighthouse was built as a response to increased shipping traffic in the Great Lakes. Two families lived in the caretaker’s house before Rosenfield bought the property.

Until the lighthouse’s lamp was electrified in 1929, the keeper would lug the fuel up 58 feet of stairs to the tower to keep the light burning. The light is now automated and can be seen 16 miles out into the lake, beamed by the lighthouse’s original Fresnel lens, which is owned and cared for by the Coast Guard.

The lighthouse is so important to Port Sanilac, the village considered buying the lighthouse last year, but couldn’t find the funds, said Fabian.

“It was just out of our reach,” he said. “To do a (loan) we would have had to have a supporting millage and it would have been a bad time to put a tax on our residents.”

According to the state tourism website, Michigan has 115 lighthouses, more than any other state. The opportunities to buy one are few and far between.

Since 2000, the federal General Services Administration has sold 26 lights for prices ranging from $10,000 to $933,000, mostly to governmental entities or nonprofits, said Cat Langel, a spokeswoman for the agency’s Great Lakes Division.

Once the U.S. Coast Guard determines a light isn’t necessary anymore, the GSA is authorized to begin the process to find new stewards for the light under the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act.

If the government can’t find a qualified buyer, the law allows the property to be sold at auction, usually with a minimum bid deposit of $10,000, Langel said.

“As with any real estate, there are numerous factors that affect each property’s final price including location, condition of the property, and fluctuations in the real estate market,” she said.

Privately owned lighthouses presently for sale in Michigan include one on Squaw Island, near Beaver Island, which is listed for $3.2 million and includes 69 acres, and the Round Island lighthouse on St. Mary’s River, which is listed for $2.4 million and includes the 7-acre island and a 3-acre mainland parcel.

Anyone who takes on a lighthouse will have to be prepared for the responsibility, said Jeff Shook, president of the Fenton-based Michigan Lighthouse Conservancy, which specializes in restoring decommissioned lighthouses around the state.

“It’s somebody that has to have a passion and interest in history, because it’s a lot of upkeep and maintenance in general,” said Shook. “It would be very, very beneficial to have somebody who has that respect for the history of the tower and the house.”

The Port Sanilac lighthouse is unusual because unlike most lighthouses, it’s in a village, rather than a remote area, he said.

“I always say there’s this lighthouse keeper romance that people have,” said Shook. “You get a remote lighthouse someplace that’s hard to get to and off the beaten track, and hey there’s this family that used to live out there and keep the light and guide ships.”

The view from the top of the Port Sanilac lighthouse includes the water and the nearby marina, which is closed during the winter. But even with few shops open in the area, people still drive past, stopping to pause, roll down their windows and snap photos of the stark white tower standing out against the cloudy sky.

“It’s an iconic monument for our beautiful little town,” said Fabian. “That light shines through the whole winter reminding us we’ll be out on the water soon.”

The Detroit News


Marysville power plant to come down

12/16 - St. Clair, Mich. – The historic Marysville Power Plant, a landmark that sits across from Sarnia on the Michigan side of the St. Clair River, has been sold and is expected to be demolished. Detroit-based DTE Energy announced recently it has reached an agreement to sell the decommissioned coal-fired electricity plant to the St. Louis-based Commercial Development Company.

The power plant, known as the "Mighty Marysville," operated from 1922 until 2001 and sits on a 20-acre site along the river. The buyer is expected to demolish the building and prepare the property for future development, according to a DTE press release.

"We are confident we can lay the foundation for a future development that will suit the community's needs," said Randall Jostes, a representative of the buyer. Demolition is expected to take place in phases within two years.

"This is a happy day for the City of Marysville," said assistant city manager Randall Fernandez. "We envision this site becoming a destination stop in southwestern Michigan, and anticipate it will provide good jobs and a strong tax base in the region."

London Free Press


Historic tug Ashtabula likely to be scrapped

12/16 - The 98-year-old tug Ashtabula has been lifted out of the water at the Dean Construction Company dock at LaSalle, Ont., and will probably be scrapped over the winter. While the vessel has a long history around the Great Lakes, it has not seen commercial service since perhaps the mid-1980s.

Ashtabula (US 212966) was built by the Great Lakes Towing Co. at Cleveland, Ohio, and joined their fleet in 1915. The 77 foot long (overall) by 17 foot wide vessel served the company around the Great Lakes. It was sold to the Canadian Shipbuilding and Engineering co. in 1947 and operated by Canada Steamship Lines as a harbor tug. Renamed Tiffin in 1955, the ship was re-powered a year later with a 500-horsepower diesel engine replacing the original second-hand high pressure engine that had served the vessel for 40 years.

Tiffin was sold to Wakeham & Sons Ltd. in 1969 and renamed Jenny T. II the following year. It was employed in and around Hamilton, Ontario, and paired with the bunkering barge S.M.T.B. NO. 7. Together they provided a refueling service for Shell Canada Ltd. in Hamilton harbor. The self-propelled tanker Hamilton Energy took over this contract in 1985 and, since then, the tug has been moved around the lakes.

There were thoughts of turning the vessel into a pleasure craft and it was to be refurbished at Oscoda, Michigan, but the ship went aground there in 2002 and apparently burned out the gears trying to get free. The tug was sold and taken to Port Dover where, in 2003, was listed under “wreck for sale.” It moved across the lake to Cleveland where, on June 25, 2006, it caught fire while undergoing maintenance. The blaze did some damage to the pilothouse and forward cabin. Now, having exhausted several reprieves, the end of the line has come and it appears that the vessel will be broken up for scrap during the winter.

Skip Gillham, Alvon Jackson


Obituary: John H. Wilterding Jr.

12/16 - John H. Wilterding Jr., 83, Algoma, Wis., passed away Thursday, Nov. 21 at Unity Hospice in DePere with his family by his side. His passion was maritime history (especially Great Lakes), World War II, pocket watches and Midwest railroads.

Mr. Wilterding was a member and contributor to many publications of various maritime, watch and clock collectors, railroad societies and associations. He donated 69 volumes of his research on Great Lakes ships and shipping from 1900 to the present to the Wisconsin Maritime Historical Society, Marine Room, at the Milwaukee Public Library. He also wrote and published “McDougal's Dream: The American Whaleback” in 1969.

Memorials may be given to Algoma United Methodist Church or Door County Maritime Museum.

Wendell Wilke


Lookback #29 – Pilothouse fire aboard Donnacona in Lake Huron on December 16, 1964

12/16 - A fire broke out in the forward cabin of the Canada Steamship Lines’ bulk carrier Donnacona 49 years ago today. The blaze ignited in the accommodation area and spread quickly to the wheelhouse, knocking out the radio before a distress call could be sent out.

The disabled freighter, down bound with a cargo of grain, was at the mercy of what was fortunately a relatively calm lake. Their situation was first spotted by the passing steamer Wyandotte, which notified the Coast Guard. The latter sent help to the scene to stand by the stricken ship.

Donnacona was unceremoniously towed to Windsor by the tugs Maine and Superior. There, the burned out forward cabin was removed and replaced. The vessel resumed trading for CSL in 1966 but tied up at Midland at the end of the 1968 season.

Following a sale for scrap, the ship raised steam one last time and came down the Welland Canal on June 14, 1969. It departed Quebec City on June 21, under tow of the tug Mississippi and in tandem with the Ben E. Tate. They arrived at Bilbao, Spain, on July 12 where the two old lakers were dismantled.

The 625-foot overall long Donnacona, built as W. Grant Morden in 1914, was once the largest Canadian laker on the inland seas. It set cargo records for wheat, oats, barley and iron ore in the early years and was given its final, and best-known name, in 1926.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  December 16

News Photo Gallery


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 vessel 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.

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. and 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: 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 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.


Ice causing problems at the Soo

12/15 - 11 a.m. update - Ice in the area south of Neebish Island was causing trouble for vessel traffic in the St. Marys River Sunday morning. The St. Clair, which spent Saturday night and early Sunday lodged in the upbound channel, was released Sunday morning by the USCG Biscayne Bay. The cutter immediately moved to assist the downbound Stewart J. Cort, stuck below the Neebish cut.

Traffic behind the Cort was at a standstill, with American Mariner anchored above the Neebish Cut and the Alpena on the hook at Nine Mile. Edwin H. Gott was leaving the locks downbound at 10:45 am and moving slowly as efforts to free the Cort continued. American Century and Kaministiqua were waiting above the locks.

Ice has been causing difficulties with the lock gates as well. Meanwhile, Indiana Harbor, Walter J. McCarthy Jr., Paul R. Tregurtha and Saginaw were all upbound at or below Lime Island at mid-morning, with Algomarine and Anglian Lady off DeTour.

Original report - Temperatures dropping near zero at the Soo has resulted in large build-up of ice in the river traffic lanes cut by local icebreakers. On Saturday night, the St. Clair was stuck in ice in the St Marys River near the upbound channel below the Neebish Island turning buoy. An icebreaker was called for early morning break out. Ice was also causing problems at the Soo Locks Saturday. Most boats are still getting through without assistance.


Port Reports -  December 15

Marquette, Mich. - Rod Burdick
H. Lee White and Kaye E. Barker waited to load ore on a snowy late Saturday afternoon at the Upper Harbor.

Sandusky, Ohio - Jim Spencer
Saginaw loaded Friday at the NS coal dock. The 640-foot self-unloader sailed late in the day for the Canadian Soo, crunching through a coating of ice that covered Sandusky Bay as a result of the steep drop in temperatures Thursday night.

Lorain, Ohio -  Phil Leon
Dorothy Ann and barge Pathfinder departed Lorain about 11:15 p.m. Friday.

Buffalo, N.Y. – Brian W.
Saturday morning the Hollyhock was at anchor out near the traffic buoy. English River departed Buffalo Saturday morning and was entering the Welland Canal downbound at 3:30 p.m. The tug Paul Luedtke was still working her scows in Buffalo harbor this weekend between the dredge site near the Watson Basin on the City Ship Canal and the Outer Harbor Army Corps CDF.


Laker towed from Thunder Bay to Duluth for repairs

12/15 - Duluth, Minn. – There are plenty of vessels that go under the Aerial Lift Bridge but they're not usually being towed. CSL Assiniboine, a 739-foot-long laker, was towed all the way from Thunder Bay to Duluth by the tug Leonard M, arriving Friday night.

The Assiniboine was on her way to the Fraser shipyard for repairs. The ship was damaged by a submerged buoy while traveling on the St. Marys River near Sault Ste. Marie last week.



Ship's chief engineer dies after fall aboard ship in Seaway

12/15 - Massena, N.Y. – A Russian man died on the St. Lawrence Seaway at the Snell Lock early Thursday morning following a 10-foot fall from a flight of stairs aboard a Liberian vessel, the MCT Altair.

Sergey N. Menzhiliy, the ship’s chief engineer, reportedly fell from that stairs around 12:35 p.m. while returning to the engine control room. Medical personnel on the vessel attempted life-saving measures but were unsuccessful, troopers said.

St. Lawrence County Coroner Jamie Sienkiewicyz responded and pronounced Menzhiliy deceased. An autopsy, conducted at Massena Memorial Hospital on Dec. 12, revealed that Menzhiliy died due to a pre-existing medical condition, officers said.

State police said they were assisted on the scene by the United States Coast Guard and the Massena Rescue Squad.

North Country News


Catherine Desgagnes loses power, towed in for repairs

12/15 - Muskegon, Mich. – Big lake freighters having problems on Lake Michigan would do well to have them outside of Muskegon Harbor, the captain and crew of the Catherine Desgagnes learned Wednesday.

The 410-foot Desgagnes, out of Quebec City, Quebec, lost power about 30 miles northwest of the Muskegon pierheads about 9 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 11. The call for help from vessel agent Aaron Bensinger, of Inter Ship in Chicago, went to Port City Marine Services President Ed Hogan in Muskegon.

Hogan pulled a Muskegon rescue team together and the ship was towed to the Mart Dock in downtown Muskegon, fixed and sent on its way, back on Lake Michigan by 10 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 12.

“We were able to provide them with transportation, refuge and repairs all from the local port,” Hogan said.

Key in the rescue and repair were two Muskegon companies: Andrie Specialized, a division of Andrie Inc., and Versatile Fabrication in Muskegon Heights.

“The team did a great job of turning this ship around,” said Andrie Specialized President Phil Andrie, who led the rescue tugboat. “Anytime these big ships are just sitting there, it’s big money. The captain left very happy.”

Andrie and Bensinger said that at no time was the 20-member Canadian crew on board the Catherine Desgagnes in any peril. But that doesn’t mean the rescue wasn’t dramatic for the Muskegon crew.

Andrie said within an hour of being called by Hogan, he was able to put together a four-member rescue crew on board the 75-foot Muskegon-based Meridith Ashton, a 2,100-horsepower tug.

“We had northwest winds at 25 knots and seas at 6-8 feet,” Andrie said. “We found it 20 miles off shore and drifting toward Muskegon with no power. It was pretty nasty.”

The Andrie crew hooked up to the drifting freighter with a 1,000-foot, 1 1/2-inch steel cable and began the slow trip back into the Muskegon Harbor.

“We considered this an emergency tow or we would not have gone out in 6-8-foot seas this time of the year,” Andrie said. “Any spray on the boat iced everything down.”

The tow line was shortened as the freighter entered the Muskegon pierheads, made it down the Muskegon Channel and into Muskegon Lake. From Bank Point Light to the B.C. Cobb Plant, the east end of Muskegon Lake has begun to freeze so the tug and its tow had to fight through the thin ice, Andrie said.

The vessel was secured by 7 p.m. at the downtown Mart Dock, and the metal works specialists at Versatile Fabrication began an overnight project. The ship’s problem was a malfunctioning fuel line at the engine’s manifold, Andrie said.

Versatile Fabrication was able to cast a new part and have it installed so the ship could continue to its next port, Windsor, Ontario. The Desgagnes will be hauling a load of grain from Windsor to Newfoundland before eventually being tied up for winter in Quebec City.

“We’ve not used Muskegon for these types of situations before, but needing help like this is always in the back of our minds,” Bensinger said, adding that Inter Ship has been the agent for owner Transport Desgagnes for the Canadian company’s movement of pig iron and other loads into southern Lake Michigan ports such as Chicago and Milwaukee.

The Catherine Desgagnes is a cargo ship built in New Castle, England, in 1961 and began operations in the Great Lakes and on the East Coast in 1985 by Desgagnes Transport. It can haul a maximum of 8,350 tons of materials in four holds, transporting everything from metals to grain.

Hogan said the rescue and repair of the Catherine Desgagnes is another feather in the Port of Muskegon’s cap.

“Muskegon is a deep-water port that can handle situations like this in rough-weather conditions,” Andrie said.



Lookback #28 – Robert Koch a total loss off Oswego on December 15, 1985

12/15 - The former Robert Koch had been built at Grangemouth, England, in 1957 as the bulk carrier Ethel Everard but was converted to become Guardian Carrier, a specialized cement ship in 1963. The 240-foot, 11-inch long vessel came to the Great Lakes in 1977 and, after a refit, began trading for St. Lawrence Cement as Robert Koch.

The vessel was a regular on Lake Ontario and through the Welland Canal to Buffalo. It was converted to a barge at the end of the 1983 season with power supplied by the tug R. & L. No. 1.

The pair was inbound for Oswego, with a late season cargo of cement, when the ship went aground 28-years ago today. The bottom of the hull was seriously damaged. This was partly due from running over its own anchor.

Robert Koch was not refloated until July 1986 and it passed down the Seaway for Contrecoeur, Quebec, on August 22, 1986. Following a sale for scrap, the ship was partially dismantled there and the work was completed at the Davie shipyard, Levis, Quebec, in 1990.

Skip Gillham


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.



Seaway shut down again, this time at Iroquois

12/14 - 10 a.m. update - Bogdan remains secured above Iroquois Lock for inspection. Down bound ships have to take the lock on the fly which means not sliding the wall into the lock. Spruceglen and Atlantic Erie have passed down bound in this manner, but Iryda and Orla remain at anchor near Prescott waiting for Bogdan to depart.

Original Report - At 9:50 p.m. Friday the downbound saltwater vessel Bogdan struck the wall above Iroquois Lock. She came off the wall and went crossways, temporarily blocking the channel with her anchors down. She reportedly damaged the wall and will have to be inspected before continuing her voyage with cargo for Cork, Ireland. The lock crew was working with the ship to work her back to the wall and clear the channel. Atlantic Huron will secure below the lock and Birchglen may or may not have to turn around and return to the Prescott anchorage

Ron Beaupre


Port Reports -  December 14

Lorain, Ohio - Phil Leon
Dorothy Ann Pathfinder was just coming into the harbor at 13:18 Friday, heading to the Lafarge/Jonick docks.

Buffalo, N.Y. - Brian W.
English River was being towed in for Lafarge around 4:15 p.m. Friday.

Toronto, Ont. - Jens Juhl
The Seaway-max bulker Redhead departed Redpath Sugar Thursday evening after delivering the company’s last cargo of the season. The push tug David G. and the TPA derrick 50 removed the navigation markers from the inner harbor. Mariposa Cruise Lines has sold the Mariposa Belle. The iconic replica of a sternwheel riverboat was the pioneer charter boat of the harbor, having operated in Toronto for over 30 years. According to reliable sources the Belle will be embarking on a second career as a charter boat on the lower Niagara River.


Traffic moving again at Eisenhower Lock

12/14 - The gate at the Eisenhower Lock, out of service on Thursday due to a damaged motor, has been repaired. Rt. Hon Paul J. Martin was the first upbound ship through the lock. There were 10 vessels waiting to go down through the lock and two more upbound.

Ron Beaupre


J.B. Ford marks 110 anniversary of launch

12/14 - Superior, Wis. – At noon on December 12, 1903, with the crack of champagne against the black steel of the giant ship, Miss Alia E. Hawgood officially christened the steamer Edwin F. Holmes in honor of Colonel Edwin F. Holmes, one of the fleet’s directors. The ship slid down the ways at the American Shipbuilding Company yard in Lorain, Ohio, amid the cheers of dignitaries and onlookers. The Hawgood family had arrived earlier that morning on a special Nickel Plate Railroad car from Cleveland to watch their newest vessel take to the water for the first time.

In the ceremonies that followed, James Owen was given command of the ship and would spend the following months at the yard with his vessel during the fit-out and construction phase before she set sail on her maiden voyage. In the following decades the Holmes would sail under several names, carrying a wide variety of cargoes for several different owners, never really setting any records, or doing anything out of the ordinary. The vessel, now the J.B. Ford, has enjoyed relative obscurity all these years, always being just another laker, or being tucked away in some forgotten part of a port diligently doing her job.

With this anniversary of her launch, the J.B. Ford has set a record that so far no other vessel can claim. She has turned 110 years old and become the second cargo vessel in known Great Lakes history to reach this landmark age while not sitting in a scrap yard being dismantled, beached on land as a museum, or cut down to a barge. The Ford remains, tied up at Superior, Wis., with the non-profit preservation group the Great Lakes Steamship Society working to raise the money and awareness about this super centenarian that is still in danger of meeting her fate at the scrapper’s torch. Find out more about the preservation efforts at

Great Lakes Steamship Society


Lookback #27 – Tug Hamp Thomas sank in Lake Erie on December 14, 1991

12/14 - The Hamp Thomas, a 45-foot-long tug belonging to DMD Dock & Dredge Co., sank in a Lake Erie storm 22 years ago today. The ship went down off Cleveland on December 14, 1991. It had been towing a barge when they were buffeted by 12-foot-high waves and the tug sank.

A second tug, the Paddy Miles, reached safety with its barge and it is believed all on board the various vessels were saved.

Hamp Thomas had been built by Hans Hansen Welding at Toledo in 1968. The ship had been part of the Dunbar & Sullivan fleet before being sold to DMD.

Skip Gillham


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, 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.


Seaway Shut Down at Eisenhower Lock

12/13 - 4:40 p.m. update -The gate has been repaired. Rt. Hon Paul J. Martin is the first upbound ship through Eisenhower Lock. There are ten vessels waiting to go down through the lock and just two more upbound.

Original Report - A motor for a gate at Eisenhower Lock has failed. While workmen are replacing the motor, several ships have been delayed. Salvor with barge Lambert Spirit are secured below Iroquois Lock with tug LA Prairie behind them. John B Aird is on the upper wall above Iroquois. Birchglen, Bogdan, Orla are all anchored at Prescott. Algosteel and Nogat are anchored at Wilson Hill. More ships will arrive in the area soon.

Ron Beaupre


On first visit to Twin Ports, new Algoma Equinox is a cut above

12/13 - Superior, Wis. – Most ships have your standard engine room, cabins, kitchen, laundry room and a control room. The Algoma Equinox offers more. It has a 9,500-horsepower engine, super insulation, a fresh coat of paint, a lounge with a ping pong table, multiple places to catch a stunning view, a mini gym, and a restaurant-size kitchen with a chef making everyone fish and chips for dinner.

“This ship is incredibly big,” said Seann O’Donoughue, captain of the Algoma Equinox. “It took me a couple of weeks to learn everything about this ship.”

Algoma Equinox arrived in the Twin Ports on Wednesday to load iron ore for Cleveland Cliffs at the BNSF Railway Dock. The arrival marked the ship’s first full transit of the entire Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence Seaway, according to a news release.

The Algoma Equinox left the Nantong Mingde Shipyard in Nantong, China, on Oct. 1, sailing across 14,700 nautical miles in 61 days. The ship passed through the Panama Canal in mid-November and arrived in Canada for its first load of iron ore from ArcelorMittal Mining Canada in Port Cartier, Quebec, on Dec. 1. The ship left the next day for Hamilton, Ontario, to unload its cargo. Shortly after, the ship headed to Superior for a load of iron ore.

“We have a great crew that has been tremendously helpful during this journey,” O’Donoughue said. “Together we will continue this cold journey to Quebec City on Thursday to unload for Cliffs Natural Resources.”

The Algoma Central Corp. says these new vessels are the next generation of Great Lakes bulk carriers.

This gearless bulker is the first in a series of eight Equinox Class vessels being built at the Nantong Mingde shipyard, all designed for service on the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence waterway. Delivery of the other seven will occur at approximately three-month intervals through 2014-2015. The series consists of four gearless bulk carriers and four self-unloading bulk carriers. Algoma will own six of the series, including two gearless bulkers and four self-unloading vessels. CWB, formerly the Canadian Wheat Board, will own the other two gearless bulkers, which will be operated and managed by Algoma.

The Equinox Class represents the next generation of Great Lakes-St. Lawrence waterway bulk cargo vessels. Algoma's $300 million investment in its six Equinox Class vessels demonstrates the Corporation's commitment to operating in a sustainable manner.

Duluth News Tribune


Mailboat J.W. Westcott II heads for winter layup

12/13 - Detroit, Mich. – Thursday was the last day of service for the J.W. Westcott Company’s 2013 season. Mail and pilot services normally run to about Dec. 20 depending on ice conditions. After almost a week of below freezing temperatures ice is quickly building in the Detroit River.

The final delivery for the season was a pilot change on the Dara Desgagnes about 8 p.m. Pilots will now double up at other points with no service at Detroit.

The J.W. Westcott II departed the Detroit dock for Gregory’s Marina behind Belle Isle to be pulled from the water for the winter. The Westcott Company’s back up mailboat the Joseph J. Hogan was laid up earlier in the month. Service returns in April 2014, ice permitting.

John Belliveau


Coast Guard wraps up buoy-retrieval, begins ice breaking

12/13 - Cleveland, Ohio – As the Coast Guard 9th District's Operation Fall Retrieve approaches completion throughout the Great Lakes, the agency, in partnership with Canadian and commercial entities, has begun ice-breaking operations as part of Operation Taconite in the western Great Lakes lakes Superior and Michigan, the St. Marys River, the Straits of Mackinac and northern Lake Huron.

Operation Fall Retrieve is 85 percent completed, and is expected to be finished next week.

Coast Guard Sector Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. commenced Operation Taconite Friday to prevent developing ice from hindering commercial navigation in the ports of Duluth, Minn., Superior, Wis., and Thunder Bay, Ont.

Coast Guard Sector Detroit has not yet commenced Operation Coal Shovel, which is the ice-breaking operation in the eastern Great Lakes region consisting of lakes Erie and Ontario, the Detroit and St. Clair rivers, Lake St. Clair, and southern Lake Huron. Operation Coal Shovel commences once ice development in the region requires it.

"Operation Taconite has been officially kicked off, the earliest in recent history," said Lt j.g. Katherine Pierson, Coast Guard 9th District Aids-to-Navigation and Domestic Ice Division. "We have already tasked a few of our cutters with breaking ice in Lake Superior and the St. Marys River, and several more units are fastidiously removing buoys as the lakes are experiencing rapid ice growth."

Operations Taconite and Coal Shovel constitute the country's largest domestic ice-breaking operations.

Domestic ice breaking is normally conducted for four basic purposes: search and rescue, urgent response to vessels beset by ice, assisting the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers with community service requests such as flood relief, and facilitation of navigation to meet the reasonable demands of the maritime industry. Other emergency services include the opening of channels to icebound communities to ensure critical supplies of food, heating oil, and access to medical care.

When both ice-breaking operations are up and running, there will be nine district icebreakers and several Canadian Coast Guard icebreakers that can provide assistance during the 2013/2014 ice-breaking season.

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

The Coast Guard advises all recreational ice users to plan their activities carefully, use caution on the ice, and stay away from shipping channels. Throughout the ice-breaking season, the Coast Guard will attempt to keep the public informed about ice-breaking operations by way of outreach to local media.

US Coast Guard


Port Reports -  December 13

Sandusky, Ohio – Jim Spencer
Firefighters pulled a Canadian sailor from the chilly waters of Sandusky Bay Wednesday night, after he fell from the deck of a freighter loading at the NS coal dock. Identified as Oscar Dias, the seaman reportedly tumbled off the stern of the CSL Laurentien and injured a leg when he fell. He was taken to a Sandusky hospital for treatment. The self-unloader sailed Thursday morning for Hamilton.

Marblehead, Ohio - Jim Spencer
The barge Pathfinder and tug Dorothy Ann were loading Thursday night at the Lafarge stone dock.

Buffalo, N.Y. – Brian W.
The USCG Cutter Hollyhock was tied up at the Visiting Ship's Dock (North Pier) Thursday evening.


Better dredging needed on lake

12/13 - Sandusky, Ohio – U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur says that when a Canadian ship ran aground in Sandusky Bay last month, it helped make her point that dredging of Lake Erie’s shipping channels and harbors is being neglected.

“I could use a good photo,” Kaptur said Tuesday. “I could take it to the floor.”

The CSL Niagara ran aground on Nov. 17 and had to be helped away by tugboats. Kaptur and other lawmakers from the area are hoping Great Lakes dredging will get more attention soon.

Kaptur signed a letter from Great Lakes lawmakers asking a conference committee writing the final version of the Water Resources Reform and Development Act to include a provision giving direction to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The language tells the agency to treat the lakes as one system, rather than a collection of ports.

The committee agreed to the request, a key goal of the Lake Carriers Association, a trade group representing the Great Lakes shipping industry. The association is located in Rocky River, in Kaptur’s district.

The Army Corps treats the Mississippi River as a system, and Great Lakes backers hope designating the Great Lakes as a system, too, will send more money to maintain Great Lakes shipping.

“They spend the least amount of money in our part of the country,” said Kaptur, who said she had just met with the Army Corps’ associate director to discuss dredging.

Dredging in Sandusky’s harbor is about 800,000 cubic yards behind what it should be, according to figures supplied by the Lake Carriers Association.

Glen Nekvasil, vice president of the Lake Carriers Association, said he doesn’t know the particulars of the Niagara incident, but said “There’s no denying there’s a dredging crisis on the Great Lakes”

Lack of dredging means shipping channels and harbors are too shallow, and that means cargo ships on Lake Erie and other lakes aren’t carrying all of the cargo they could, Nekvasil said. Ships lose 50 to 270 tons of cargo for each inch of draft they give up, he said.

“We are vastly underutilizing the capacity of the system,” he said.

Dredging the Great Lakes properly would mean that ships could carry more cargo without having to add crew or burn more fuel. The big cargo ships on the Great Lakes get about 600 miles per gallon, so shipping goods on water is cheaper and better for the environment than any other kind of transportation, he said.

He said the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund takes in $1.6 billion a year from taxes on cargo but spends only about half that. “It’s kind of like pulling up on a toll booth and paying your toll and being told the speed limit is no longer 60, it’s 30” he said.

Sandusky Register


Lookback #26 – Lakes-built Indigirka rolled on its side on December 13, 1939

12/13 - The loss of the Great Lakes built freighter Indigirka 74 years ago today is an excellent example of man's inhumanity to man. The ship ran aground in rough weather and then rolled on its side and was abandoned by the crew. This resulted in the deaths of 741 prisoners who were being carried in the cargo holds.

This ship was built at Manitowoc, Wis., and launched as Lake Galva on December 20, 1919. It was completed as Ripon in May 1920 and left the inland lakes for deep sea trading for C.D. Mallory & Co. It joined Moore-McCormack as Malash in 1926 and then, following another sale, was renamed Commercial Quaker.

In 1938, the ship was sold to the Government of Russia and renamed Indigirka for a river in Siberia. It was employed to carry political prisoners from Vladivostok, at the end of the Trans-Siberian Railway, to labor camps in Siberia. Up to 1,500 prisoners could be carried in the cargo holds, under horrific conditions, at one time.

On December 8, 1939, the ship sailed from Magadan for Vladivostok with a crew of 39 sailors, 249 fishermen returning to the mainland, 50 guarded prisoners and 835 former prisoners who were being released because their skills were needed in the war effort.

On December 13, 1939, the ship encountered a blizzard while trying to enter the Laperouse Strait off northern Japan and rolled on its side. The captain and crew were rescued by local fishermen but the prisoners were left behind. When the storm subsided, a group returned with acetylene torches to cut into the side of the hull for the prisoners. Most were dead and the casualty list was 741.

The captain was tried and executed for abandoning his ship under these conditions.

A later Indigirka, another Russian freighter, frequently provided winter service to Montreal and was a Seaway caller in 1968. This ship was reported broken up for scrap in the first quarter of 1982.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  December 13

News Photo Gallery
Saltie Gallery updated with pictures of the Americaborg, Anuket Ruby, Barnacle, BBC Celina, Fairchem Charger, Federal Mayumi, and Nordic Stockholm.


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 Savona, 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.


Coast Guard ice breaking activities underway

12/12 - Ice is forming in the St Marys River. The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Biscayne Bay will conduct ice breaking operations to facilitate the movement of commercial shipping throughout the river. Additional cutters will assist throughout the river as needed. This activity will extend to the end of the shipping season, which normally concludes January 15.


Port Reports -  December 12

Sandusky, Ohio - Jim Spencer
CSL Laurentien, Canada Steamship Lines, loaded Wednesday afternoon and evening at the NS coal dock.

Lorain, Ohio - Phil Leon
Calumet arrived in Lorain Wednesday about 3:46 a.m. and departed at 5:34 p.m.

Cleveland, Ohio
Great Lakes Shipyard is performing routine drydocking and repairs on Ryba Marine Construction’s tug Kathy Lynn. Work consists of underwater hull cleaning and inspections, propulsion system inspection and repairs, and other various routine maintenance and repairs.

Toronto, Ont. - Frank Hood, Charlie Gibbons
Redhead has been unloading at Redpath Sugar for a couple of days. On Tuesday evening, Groupe Ocean tugs were waiting to assist in turning her around end-to-end.


Rare post card and photo collections now for sale to benefit BoatNerd

12/12 - BoatNerd recently had the opportunity to buy a once-in-a-lifetime collection of Great Lakes postcards and other images. The sets were purchased to be scanned for future electronic sharing through the web site.

We have finished scanning and now offer the collection for sale. The post card sets are in more than two dozen three-ring binders, four cards per sleeve. The post cards, which number between 2-3,000 images, are organized by port (i.e. Ashland, Buffalo, Calcite-Rogers City, Cleveland, Detroit, Manitowoc, Conneaut, Toledo, Duluth-Superior, Kingston, Harbor Springs and more) as well as by area, i.e. small Lake Michigan Ports, Lake Erie Ports Canada, Etc). There are only a very small number of duplicates. Although some images are well-known, many are very rare and include ship launchings from decades past. Many of these cards are more than 100 years old. Some have been postally used, others have not. Many of the black and white cards are printed on Kodak AZO and VELOX card stock.

In addition to the post card binders, also includes an impressive, large binder of approximately 400 5x7 and other assorted size images. These photos span from the late 1800s to the 1950s, and while the majority of them were taken in the Keweenaw, Houghton-Hancock, Dollar Bay and Copper Harbor areas, there are images from elsewhere on the lakes as well. There is a good assortment of Pesha photos in with the collection. Many of these images are extremely rare and would make an excellent addition to the collection of serious ship enthusiasts.

Click here for more details and a sample Gallery


Lookback #25 – Greater Detroit set ablaze on December 12, 1956

12/12 - I find it difficult to believe that some of our beautiful old passenger ships were intentionally torched, but the Greater Detroit was set ablaze on Lake St. Clair 57 years ago today. In many cases this was done for the convenience of not having to dismantle the woodwork prior to breaking up the steel hull for scrap. But, in some cases, these ships were actually set ablaze as a spectacle that drew crowds to the waterfront to watch them burn.

The 536-foot-long Greater Detroit served the Detroit & Cleveland Navigation Co. from the time of its construction in 1924 until it was retired. The magnificent ship cost $3.5 million to build and was noted as the largest sidewheel steamship in the world. Once in operation, it provided overnight service between Detroit and Buffalo. The ship was idle from 1950 until the sale for scrap in 1956. With the superstructure gone, the steel hull was towed into Hamilton by the tug Atomic on May 1, 1957. It was soon dismantled at the Steel Company of Canada dock.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  December 12

News Photo Gallery


Today in Great Lakes History -  December 12

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

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

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.


Tuesday a wild and windy night on the lakes

12/11 - Sailors on the Great Lakes were either reducing speed and seeking some relief by skirting the western shorelines or seeking shelter as the effects of the latest gale warning became apparent. Westerly or west southwesterly winds in the mid-30-knot range were being reported on Lake Erie, with some gusts topping 40 knots. The same story was playing out on Lake Michigan, Lake Huron and Lake Ontario. Wind chill readings of six degrees were being noted, according to weather reporting station data. Forecasters were telling freighter captains the high winds might begin to ease slightly after midnight.

On Lake Erie, where a low water warning was also issued, Algosteel was at anchor in western Pigeon Bay near Colchester. Just east of Sandusky's pierhead, the Interlake fleet tug Dorothy Ann and barge Pathfinder were anchored. American Spirit was on the hook off Chicago's Jackson Park. Laying on the hook off Duluth were the Algoma Equinox, Stewart J. Cort and Algoma Navigator. Forecasters were telling skippers that they had issued a heavy freezing spray advisory for Superior.

Jim Spencer


Port Reports -  December 11

Marquette, Mich. - Rod Burdick
On a frigid Tuesday afternoon at the Upper Harbor, James R. Barker unloaded western coal into the hopper and Michipicoten arrived to load ore.

Saginaw River - Todd Shorkey
The tug Gregory J. Busch was outbound from the Saginaw River, early Tuesday morning, breaking a path through ice on the river and into Saginaw Bay, to allow safe passage of two inbound vessels. The tug / barge combo of Olive L. Moore-Lewis J. Kuber was the first in. The pair stopped at the Wirt Stone dock in Bay City for a partial unload, then continued upriver to finish unloading at the Wirt Stone dock in Saginaw. Following closely behind was the H. Lee White, which called on the Consumers Energy dock in Essexville to unload coal. This was a somewhat surprising delivery, as the majority of coal is brought to Consumers is by American Steamship 1,000-foot vessels. The White was outbound early Tuesday evening, backing from the dock and out to open water in the Saginaw Bay to turn and head for the lake.


Carferry Badger 2014 schedule set

12/11 - Ludington, Mich. – On a blustery, wintry day in Ludington, Lake Michigan Carferry Tuesday morning announced the dates of its 2014 sailing season, and noted it will announce rates soon. The season is scheduled to begin Friday, May 16. Double runs are scheduled to begin Friday, June 6 and end Tuesday, Sept. 2. The 2014 season is scheduled to end Sunday, Oct. 25.

Three shoreline cruises are scheduled: May 31, the Manitowoc Shoreline Cruise; June 7, Ludington Shoreline Cruise; July 4, Fourth of July Shoreline Cruise in Ludington.

The season will be a transitional one, as LMC is under orders to store coal ash generated by the SS Badger’s coal-fired, steam engines before the start of the 2015 season. This past year, U.S. District Court Judge Janet Neff signed the consent decree between LMC and the Environmental Protection Agency that allows the Badger to sail in 2014 with some added restrictions on its coal ash discharge to give LMC time it said it needs to create the coal ash storage system.

Ludington Daily News


Lookback #24 – Georgios A. and H. Lee White collided on December 11, 1974

12/11 - Thirty-nine years ago today, the Greek freighter Georgios A. received massive bow damage in a collision with the American Steamship Lines self-unloader H. Lee White. The accident occurred at Buoy 10 on the St. Clair River and there were no injuries.

The former, a long time Seaway trader as Patignies, was headed for the Atlantic with a cargo of barley. It had to be towed, stern first, by the tugs Barbara Ann and Atomic, to Toledo for temporary repairs. This enabled the 600-foot, 3-inch-long vessel to clear the Seaway before the system was closed. As it was, this was the final ocean ship outbound when it passed through the St. Lambert Lock on December 18 headed for permanent repairs.

This Belgian built bulk carrier dated from 1962 and first came to the Great Lakes that year. It was well known around the inland seas and, on December 15, 1970, had been the final Seaway saltwater transit of the year.

Sold and renamed Saronis in 1981, it was back through the Seaway that year still under the flag of Greece. It became Sea Hound in 1985 and placed under Liberian registry. The ship arrived at Aliaga, Turkey, on November 22, 1985, for dismantling.

Meanwhile, H. Lee White is still with us. It was only two years old at the time of the accident, and in 2014 it will turn 40. While most of its work has been on the upper four Great Lakes, the ship did deliver iron ore to Hamilton in May 1999 and went right down the Seaway with ore for Quebec City in April 2012.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  December 11

News Photo Gallery


Today in Great Lakes History -  December 11

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

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

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

On December 11, 1979, while about 11 miles off Manitou Island near the Keweenaw Peninsula, the ASHLAND's engine stalled due to a faulty relay switch. Caught in heavy weather and wallowing in the wave troughs, she put out a distress call. True to Great Lakes tradition, four vessels immediately came to her assistance: two 1,000 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.

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


Remains of Civil War-era shipwreck rumored to carry gold found in Lake Huron

12/10 - Grand Rapids, Mich. – The Civil War was only seven months old on Nov. 9, 1861, when the sidewheel steamer Keystone State passed into oblivion. Nobody even knew the ship had sunk until more than a week later, when wreckage was spotted off Port Austin and the Keystone State's wheelhouse washed ashore.

Since then, the ship has remained one of the many Great Lakes shipwreck mysteries; a tragedy that claimed the life of 33 crew members and sparked rumors about a clandestine cargo load of gold and war materials.

This year, part of the mystery has been solved. On Monday, Dec. 9, shipwreck hunter David Trotter announced the discovery of the Keystone State in Lake Huron, about 50 miles north of Michigan’s thumb in less than 200 feet of water.

“She wasn’t where she was supposed to be,” said Trotter, an avid shipwreck sleuth with more than 100 discoveries to his name. “I probably thought I’d never find her.”

Trotter’s Undersea Research Associates team discovered the wreck in July using side-scan sonar and has since made several dozen dives to document the site and attempt to answer questions about the ship’s mysterious cargo, which some believe was intentionally mislabeled on the manifest.

The 288-foot-long Keystone State, luxurious for her day, was the second largest ship on the Great Lakes when she was launched in 1849 and is one of the largest side-wheel steamers to disappear into their depths.

The ship was bound for Milwaukee, Wis., when she left Detroit on Nov. 8, 1861, carrying what was labeled “iron implements,” or farm machinery, on the cargo manifest. Since the sinking, rumors have persisted that the Keystone State was actually carrying military supplies destined for the battlefield.

A cargo of farm machinery in November on a special run — the ship normally moved between Detroit and Buffalo, N.Y. — invites a natural suspicion, Trotter said.

“Farm implements are not heavily used in the winter,” he said.

Unfortunately, Trotter’s team found an empty cargo hold. The reason probably won’t ever be fully known, but he said ship crews of the time would likely dump cargo in an effort to save a vessel in dire straits. The ship left Detroit in a hurry, without any lifeboats, he said.

According to the historical record, the Keystone State was last seen off Port Austin rolling heavily in rough water. The fact that she was found further north of where most believed she’d sunk “tells you she made quite a fight of it,” he said.

The ship’s captain, Wilkes Travers, may have been reluctant to turn the ship toward land for fear of being capsized in a sea trough, Trotter said. Control of a sidewheel steamer would be difficult in heavy seas due to the ship’s design.

Trotter said the wreck has “settled-in” quite a bit, and his team is still trying to sort out how much damage was caused by the storm, how much happened when the hull hit the bottom and what has occurred over the last 152 years.

The team hasn’t found any gold yet, but the wreck is surrounded by a large, yet-to-be-explored debris field, he said.

Due to the water depth, divers only have about 15 to 20 minutes to explore the wreck before they must decompress for more than an hour on the way back up.

Trotter, a retired Ford Motor Co. executive who lives in Canton, has been shipwreck hunting for more than 35 years.

His recent Great Lakes shipwreck discoveries include the 238-foot steamer New York about 25 miles northwest of Harrisville in July 2012, and a joint discovery with the Michigan Shipwreck Research Association of a 90-foot double-masted schooner in deep water off the coast of Grand Haven in October 2011.



Port Reports -  December 10

Marblehead, Ohio - Jim Spencer
Calumet continued to load Monday night at the Lafarge stone dock. Westerly winds gusting to 28 knots and higher waves were believed to be slowing the loading process.


Lookback #23 – Flying Independent closed Seaway December 10, 1963

12/10 - The American freighter Flying Independent was the last saltwater ship out bound through the Seaway fifty years ago today. This was the latest closing yet for a waterway that had only been in operation since 1959.

The next year, Flying Independent was not as fortunate. This was one of four ships trapped by the ice and had to spend the winter on the Great Lakes.

Flying Independent was built as the C-1 cargo vessel Cape Domingo It was constructed by Consolidated Steel Corp. of Wilmington, California, and launched on December 11, 1943. The ship entered service for the United States Maritime Commission the following February.

After a sale to the Isbrandtsen Co. in 1947, this steamship sailed as Flying Independent. It began Great Lakes trading with one trip in 1959, three more in 1962 and was leaving the inland lakes for the fourth time in the 1963 season when it recorded the final saltwater bound transit of that year. The ship made a total of 15 Seaway voyages until being sold late in 1965.

Renamed Harbor Hills, the freighter retained U.S. flag registry until being resold to Taiwanese shipbreakers. The vessel arrived at Kaohsiung on August 23, 1968, and was broken up by the Jui Cheng Co.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  December 10

News Photo Gallery


Today in Great Lakes History -  December 10

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

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

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

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

On December 10, 1905, 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.

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

Duluth, Minn.
Algoma Montrealais arrived at Duluth late Sunday afternoon on what is widely assumed to be her last trip to the Twin Ports.

St. Marys River - Scott McLellan
Algoma Equinox was on its first trip up the St. Marys River on Sunday.

Sturgeon Bay, Wis.
The CSL Niagara arrived in Sturgeon Bay Saturday and spent the night off of Sherwood Point. Sunday morning they were towed stern first by the tug Jimmy L into the graving dock. The Niagara will be repowered over the winter at the ship yard.

Port Inland
Port Inland finished its shipping season on Saturday loading the Manistee.

Saginaw River - Todd Shorkey
The Olive L. Moore - Lewis J. Kuber were outbound from the Saginaw River, late Saturday afternoon, after unloading at the Wirt Stone dock in Saginaw. USCG Cutter Hollyhock was also outbound late Saturday. Hollyhock arrived on Friday, spending the night at the Consumers Energy Dock in Essexville. She had been working Aids to Navigation in the Saginaw River Entrance Channel.

Sandusky, Ohio - Jim Spencer
The barge James L. Kuber loaded Saturday at the NS coal dock, sailing upbound overnight with the tug Victory.

Huron, Ohio - Jim Spencer
Cason J. Callaway discharged a cargo of Stoneport limestone at the lime dock Sunday, then headed back to Stoneport.


Coast Guard rescues dog, stresses ice safety

12/9 - Cleveland, Ohio – The Coast Guard rescued a dog from the frigid waters of Sturgeon Bay, Wis., Sunday morning after it fell through the ice.

At about 9 a.m., the owner of the dog called Door County, Wis., 911 reporting that her dog had fallen through the ice after chasing a goose out on the ice. A Door County 911 dispatcher then contacted the Coast Guard Station Sturgeon Bay. A short-haul ice-rescue team was dispatched at 9:10 a.m., and the rescue team was on scene with the dog at 9:20 a.m.

"The ice is really new right now, so it is really important to understand the ice conditions," said Petty Officer 2nd Class Nathan Disher, officer-of-the-day at Station Sturgeon Bay. "In this case, the owner of the dog did the right thing by not trying to rescue her dog by herself and calling us for help instead."

After the rescue, the dog was checked out by a veterinarian and was released back to its owner.


Marine calendar, books, BoatNerd items great gifts for Christmas

12/9 - Delight the BoatNerd on your Christmas list with a Great Lakes-themed gift.

One possibility comes from the Marine Historical Society of Detroit, which has opened up the sale of its 2014 marine calendar to the public.

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

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


Lookback #22 – Commodore stranded on December 9, 1898

12/9 - The wooden freighter Commodore was built at Cleveland by Thomas Quayle in 1875. The 265-foot-long steamer served the Western Transit Company in a variety of trades.

The ship ran aground at Bar Point, Lake Erie, 115 years ago today. Ice was already a problem on the lake and salvage was a challenge. However, some of the cargo was removed and the ship was released on December 12 only to get stuck again before finally floating free.

Commodore was acquired by the Illinois Naval Militia in 1912 and then sold to the U.S. Navy on September 1, 1918. The latter used the vessel as a receiving ship and then had it decked over and converted to a Naval Reserve Armory at Chicago in 1919. The ship was decommissioned on March 10, 1930, and dismantled by U.S. Navy Reservists in 1931.

A second Commodore, a schooner that dated from 1880, sank in Lake Erie on June 17, 1918, after being caught in a storm while under tow of the Jay Gould.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  December 9

News Photo Gallery


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.

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: 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 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.


Great Lakes iron ore trade up 7 percent in November

12/8 - Cleveland, Ohio – Shipments of iron ore on the Great Lakes totaled 5.5 million tons in November, an increase of 7 percent compared to a year ago. The November ore float was also 4.1 percent ahead of the month’s 5-year average, but trailed October by 7.7 percent.

Shipments from U.S. ports totaled 4.9 million tons, an increase of almost 10 percent compared to a year ago. The November total included 366,000 tons shipped to Quebec City for loading into oceangoing vessels and delivery overseas. Year-to-date overseas exports from U.S. Great Lakes ports total 2,883,000 tons. Through November of last year, overseas exports from U.S. ports totaled 3,544,000 tons.

Shipments from Canadian ports to Great Lakes destinations totaled 619,000 tons in November, a decrease of 9.3 percent compared to a year ago.

Year-to-date, the Lakes iron ore trade stands at 53.2 million tons, a decrease of 3.6 percent compared to a year ago. Loadings are 2.1 percent below the long-term average for the January-November timeframe.

Lake Carriers Association represents 17 American companies that operate 57 U.S.-flag vessels on the Great Lakes and carry the raw materials that drive the nations economy: iron ore and fluxstone for the steel industry, aggregate and cement for the construction industry, coal for power generation, as well as salt, sand and grain. Collectively, these vessels can transport more than 115 million tons of cargo per year.

More information is available at


Lakes Pilots Association seeking applications

12/8 - Lakes Pilots Association, Inc., based in Port Huron, Mich., is seeking applications to fill vacancies of U.S. registered pilots on foreign vessels in District 2 of the Great Lakes.

Lakes Pilots provides pilotage service in all the waters and ports on the St. Clair and Detroit Rivers and Lake Erie, excluding the Welland Canal. Applicants must hold a U.S. Master, Mate or Pilot license with at least 24 months licensed service or comparable experience on vessels or integrated tugs and tows, of 4,000 gross tons, or over, operating on the Great Lakes or oceans. Those applicants qualifying with ocean service must have obtained at least six months of licensed service or comparable experience on the Great Lakes. A complete list of requirements may be found in CFR Title 46, Shipping, Part 401, Subpart B. Anyone interested must first apply to the Director of Great Lakes Pilotage in Washington, D.C. for a preliminary review to determine eligibility. Once approved, applications will be forwarded to Lakes Pilots Association and reviewed as positions become open. Those seriously interested are encouraged to call Lakes Pilots Assn. for more details about the job.

Applications and Information can be obtained on the web at:

For more information contact:

Lakes Pilots Association
P.O. Box 610902
Port Huron, MI 48061
(810) 984-2541


Lookback #21 Altadoc stranded on December 8, 1927

12/8 - The first Altadoc to sail in the Paterson fleet only put in two years in their colors. The 26 year old bulk carrier was up bound and in ballast when it stranded 86 years ago today.

The steering malfunctioned while traveling from Owen Sound to Fort William and the ship was blown on the rocks of the Keweenaw Peninsula during a bad storm. Five members of the crew were able to come ashore and hike nine miles to Copper Harbor to report their plight. The U.S.C.G. Crawford was dispatched to the scene to rescue the rest of the crew. There were some injuries but no loss of life.

Altadoc could not be salvaged and later broke in two between hatches 7 and 8. The engine and some machinery were removed in 1928 and the pilothouse was also taken off and apparently used as a cottage until it was reported destroyed by a fire on March 22, 1987.

The 376 foot long freighter had been built at West Bay City, MI and initially served the Gilchrist Transportation Co. as Lake Shore. It became Indus for the Interlake Steamship Co. in 1912 and was sold to Paterson in 1926 to become the first Altadoc.

The hull was cut up for scrap, on location, during World War Two.


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 cargo. Some reports indicate the wreck was found in 1874, however it was not discovered until 2010 by Ross Richardson.

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.


Coast Guard begins icebreaking operations in western Great Lakes

12/7 - Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. – U.S. Coast Guard Sector Sault Ste. Marie began Operation Taconite Friday afternoon in response to developing ice conditions in the commercial ports of Western Lake Superior. Before ice impedes commercial navigation, an icebreaker was assigned to the region.

Initially, only one Coast Guard icebreaker will be assigned to Operation Taconite. USCGC Katmai Bay will provide icebreaking services. In the coming days and weeks as ice growth continues on the Great Lakes additional Coast Guard icebreakers will join the operation.

Currently there are no channel closures. However the implementation of Operation Taconite does place additional measures on commercial shipping plying the western Lakes, St. Marys River, and the Straits of Mackinac. These measures include restricting tanker transits to daylight only in the presence of ice, reducing speeds by 2 miles per hour in various locations, and requiring additional voice and position reporting points throughout the operation’s area of responsibility. The Coast Guard would like to advise all recreational ice users there are currently no channel closures, and to plan their activities carefully, use caution on the ice, and stay away from shipping channels. Recreational users and island residents should stay tuned to local media resources for the status of waterway closures.

Ice is forming in the greater Duluth/Superior Harbor and Thunder Bay, Ont., regions. U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Katmai Bay will conduct icebreaking operations to allow the movement of commercial shipping throughout the twin ports and Thunder Bay. U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Alder will relieve the Katmai Bay at a later date. This activity will extend to the end of the shipping season, which normally concludes 16 January.

Operation Taconite is the Coast Guard’s largest domestic icebreaking operation, encompassing Lake Superior, St. Marys River, the Straits of Mackinac and Lake Michigan. As a result of the Operation certain waterways may close once due consideration is given to the protection of the marine environment, waterway improvements, aids to navigation, the need for cross channel traffic (e.g. ferries), the availability of icebreakers, and the safety of the island residents; who in the course of their daily business use naturally formed ice bridges for transportation to and from the mainland.


Port Reports -  December 7

Marquette, Mich. - Rod Burdick
Due to gale warnings on Lake Superior, Kaye E. Barker, loaded with ore, remained secured at the Upper Harbor ore dock on Friday.

Calcite, Mich. - Denny Dushane
There are no vessels scheduled to load at Calcite on Saturday, and the next scheduled vessel to load will be the Pathfinder for the South Dock on Sunday in the early morning. Manitowoc loads at the North Dock on Sunday in the early afternoon and the Buffalo loads at the South Dock in the early evening on Sunday. On Monday, H. Lee White is due for the North Dock in the late evening. Three vessels are due to load on Tuesday, with the Lewis J. Kuber arriving in the early afternoon for the South Dock. Manistee is due for the North Dock in the early afternoon also on Tuesday and the Manitowoc is due for the North Dock on Tuesday in the early evening. The barge Ashtabula and tug Defiance are due to load on Wednesday at the North Dock in the late evening.

Owen Sound, Ont. - J. Mackay
The small ocean-going vessel Tiwali unloaded a 5,000-tonne shipment of Romanian organic wheat. It is in the process of loading an equal amount of locally grown corn bound for Ireland. She arrived on Dec. 4, and is expected to leave this weekend.

Stoneport, Mich. - Denny Dushane
Joseph H. Thompson loaded at Stoneport on Friday and was due to depart around 9 p.m. Also due on Friday was the Cason J. Callaway in the early afternoon. There are no vessels scheduled to load Saturday. For Sunday, three vessels are scheduled to load, with the Lewis J. Kuber arriving first in the early morning followed by the Kaye E. Barker in the late morning and the Joseph H. Thompson in the late evening. Cason J. Callaway returns to Stoneport on Tuesday in the late evening. There are no vessels scheduled for Wednesday.

Cedarville & Port Inland, Mich. - Denny Dushane
At Cedarville, the barge Ashtabula and tug Defiance were expected to be the last vessel of the 2013 season, arriving in the early evening on Friday to load. At Port Inland, the Manistee was expected to arrive on Friday in the early evening to load. The barge Pere Marquette 41 and tug Undaunted is due to arrive on Monday, December 9 in the early morning to load.

Toledo, Ohio - Denny Dushane
Lee A. Tregurtha loaded at the CSX Coal on Friday. Following them will be the barge Lakes Contender and tug Ken Boothe Sr. on Tuesday, December 10 in the morning and the American Mariner on Tuesday, December 10 in the late evening. The St. Clair makes a rare visit on Wednesday in the morning hours. Algoma Progress is due on Thursday in the mid-afternoon, James L. Kuber is due to load at the CSX Coal Dock on Saturday, December 14 in the late afternoon along with the Cason J. Callaway in the late evening. There is nothing due at the Midwest Terminal Stone Dock. Whitefish Bay arrived at the Torco Dock to unload iron ore on Friday. Following them at the Torco Dock are the barge Lakes Contender and tug Ken Boothe Sr., due on Monday in the late evening. American Mariner is due at the Torco Dock on Tuesday in the early afternoon, Algoma Olympic is due at Torco on Sunday, December 15 in the late evening, and rounding out the schedule is the barge Lakes Contender and tug Ken Boothe Sr., returning to Torco Dock on Monday, December 17 in the early morning. Two other vessels were also in port on Friday, Jiimaan and the Algoma Transport.

Erie, Pa. - Gene Polaski
Roger Blough came into Erie about 0200 Friday for some unknown repair work. At 2p.m. she left the Montfort Terminal where she tied up and headed into Lake Erie in light winds with temps about 32F.


CN train derails in Two Harbors; 2 injured

12/7 - Two Harbors, Minn. – A Canadian National Railway train filled with iron ore pellets from the Iron Range derailed in Two Harbors early Thursday afternoon, and two injuries were reported, Lake County Sheriff Carey Johnson said.

The two CN employees were transported from the scene via ambulance. Patrick Waldron, a spokesman for CN, said the injuries appear to be minor. The two other employees on the train were uninjured. The accident occurred at 1:14 p.m. on a bend in the tracks between Northshore Manufacturing and Two Harbors Lumber on Fourth Avenue, the Two Harbors Police Department said. Waldron said the area is considered the CN train yard.

Uwe Kausch, a sales manager at Northshore Manufacturing, said the rail cars were everywhere, stacked up like cordwood, with some pointing up vertically.

A typical ore train has just over 100 cars and Kausch said it looked like most of them were affected by the derailment. Waldron said there were 107 cars but said it hadn’t been determined how many were damaged or upended. He said a CN crew is on the scene investigating the derailment.

Duluth News Tribune


Algoma's $400M Equinox investment starts sailing

12/7 - St. Catharines, Ont. – It's a private shipping investment by Algoma Central Corp. that is unprecedented in recent Canadian history. Loaded with iron ore, the Algoma Equinox bulk carrier sailed through the Welland Canal Friday for its inaugural trip.

The Equinox is the first of eight in that class, as part of $500 million-plus in ship orders by the St. Catharines-based firm.That first Equinox vessel was recently delivered to Algoma by China's Nantong Mingde Heavy Industry Co. Ltd., with the rest to join Algoma's Great Lakes-St. Lawrence fleet next year and in 2015.

Orders for the Equinox vessels themselves are worth $400 million, with two coastal vessels totaling $100 million put into service by Algoma starting in 2010.

“The design of the vessels involved a tremendous amount of work,” said Greg Wight, president and CEO of Algoma. “We knew that we had the opportunity to create something that would be innovative and game changing.”

“These world-class designs dramatically cut emissions and use much better speed with less fuel, and larger freight-carrying capacity.”

It has reinvigorated Algoma, which employs about 300 in the region alone.

“It’s a win-win situation. We win because we burn less fuel, we go faster and carry more cargo, said Wight. This means that were substantially more efficient from an economic point of view, yet at the same time we achieve huge environmental benefits."

Algoma's decision to invest follows a 2010 federal government decision to end a 25 percent import duty on general cargo vessels and tankers.

"The duty inhibited us in investing in the future of our fleet, as it was so punitive," said Wight. "When it came off, it lifted that we knew we had to invest in the future to continue to be the largest and most innovative shipping company in Canada."

Wight said the fleet rejuvenation, "certainly makes all the jobs secure. These ships are very innovative and efficient and they'll be competitive for many years to come."

He also spoke to criticism from some that the shipbuilding was not done in Ontario or Canada. This, as St. Catharines' Seaway Marine and Industrial dry docks declared bankruptcy last summer.

"The government went out to all the shipbuilders in Canada and asked their opinion on whether the duty should be removed and what the impact would be," Wight said. He said domestic shipbuilders said they were either not capable, or had no desire to build the types of private-sector vessels whose import duty was ultimately removed.

"It wasn't a matter of taking work away from Canadian yards," Wight said. "They clearly had already indicated to the government it wasn't work they'd be doing anyway."

Chamber of Marine Commerce president Stephen Brooks said Canadian ship owners are investing more than $1 billion in new vessels the largest renewal in the Great Lakes fleet in three decades.

"Ships like the Algoma Equinox are incredibly more efficient and equipped with the latest environmental technologies," Brooks said in an e-mail. "This will not only make Great Lakes shipping even more competitive, but it is good news for our North American manufacturing and agricultural customers and the Great Lakes communities in which we operate."

St. Catharines MPP Rick Dykstra called the Algoma investment a "whole new era in shipping by water, whether it be Ontario, the Great Lakes or really in the country."

"It's exciting to see this kind of investment overall," Dykstra said. "This will reinforce and save the jobs that are on those ships, this is a dawn of a new era of shipping in our region."

St. Catharines Standard


Lookback #20 – Simcoe lost at sea on December 7, 1917

12/7 - The Canadian Department of Marine & Fisheries ordered a buoy tender from the famous Swan Hunter & Wigham Richardson shipyard at Newcastle, England, and this vessel was completed as Simcoe in March 1907.

The 180-foot-long, steam-powered tender crossed the Atlantic for Great Lakes service and was stationed at Parry Sound to ferry lighthouse keepers to their stations, deliver supplies and care for channel markers around Georgian Bay. The ship was transferred to the East Coast to replace Dollard on the Bay of Fundy and left the Great Lakes in the fall of 1917 for the new assignment.

It departed Sydney, Nova Scotia, for the last time in early December carrying coal and supplies for the Bird Rocks and to retrieve buoys in the Magdalen Islands area. An S.O.S. was transmitted 96 years ago today saying the ship was sinking in heavy seas, high winds and snow. It was never seen or heard from again and all 44 on board were lost. A life ring, found on Sable Island in 1922, was the only trace of the Simcoe.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  December 7

News Photo Gallery


Today in Great Lakes History -  December 7

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

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 was 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.


Port Reports -  December 6

Marquette, Mich. - Rod Burdick
After a delay, Kaye E. Barker loaded ore Thursday evening at the Upper Harbor.

Marblehead, Ohio - Jim Spencer
Mississagi was loading Thursday night at the Lafarge stone dock. Earlier in the day, American Courage completed loading aggregate and sailed.


Announcements mean Seaway closing near

12/6 - Radio messages will be issued Monday through Friday as the Seaway’s season end approaches. As the need arises, weekends will be included.

It is important for mariners to note that any vessel which enters the Seaway upbound at CIP2 after 2359 hours on December 9 shall be designated a wintering vessel in accordance with all the terms outlined in Seaway Notice No. 9 of 2013.

Water temperature at St. Lambert on December 5 is 2.2 degrees Celsius. Last year’s temperature was 3.5 degrees Celsius. The 10-year average is 3.3 degrees Celsius.

At midnight December 4, the number of ocean vessels above St. Lambert was 39 as compared to 27 in 2012. Above Port Weller the number was 26 as compared to 18 in 2012.

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. All closing procedures outlined in Seaway Notice No. 9 of 2013 remain in effect.

St. Lawrence Seaway Authority


Lookback # 19 – Monarch stranded on Isle Royale on December 6, 1906.

12/6 - The wooden passenger and freight steamer Monarch was built at Sarnia in 1890 and lost off Isle Royale on this date 107 years ago.

The 248-foot, 6-inch-long vessel, built of the finest white oak and braced with iron, usually operated between Sarnia and the Canadian lakehead. It was carrying 12 passengers and a crew of 32 on what proved to be its final voyage.

After loading bagged flour, Monarch sailed from Port Arthur only to strike Blake Point on the northeast part of Isle Royale. The stern broke off and sank in deep water and all but one on board reached safety. They huddled on shore and built fires both for heat and to attract attention. Crewmembers from the steamer Edmonton spotted their plight and summoned help from Port Arthur. The tugs James Whalen and Laura Grace responded and while only one life was lost, a deck watchman, the 16-year old Monarch was a total loss.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  December 6

Saltie Gallery updated with pictures of the Amstelgracht, Fortitude, Harbour Fountain, HR Constitution, MCT Monte Rosa, Merwedegracht, Mitiq, Oslo Bulk 1, Oslo Bulk 4, Pilica, and Sapphire.


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 harbor 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 engine room 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

Sandusky and Marblehead, Ohio - Jim Spencer
Algoma Olympic sailed from the NS coal dock for Hamilton, Ont., Wednesday and the Herbert C. Jackson began loading. The Jackson - expected to sail overnight - is posted for Detroit.

Mississagi arrived at the Lafarge stone dock in Marblehead Wednesday evening and began loading for Kingsville, Ont. Indications were that the 620-foot self-unloader would not be taking on a full load and that she expected to arrive in the Canadian village harbor shortly before daylight on Thursday.


Steel production rises by 16,000 tons in Great Lakes states

12/5 - Raw steel production in the country's Great Lakes region rose to 692,000 tons in the week that ended Saturday, according to an American Iron and Steel Institute estimate.

Production rose by about 16,000 tons, or about 2.3 percent, from the week prior. Most of the raw steel production in the Great Lakes region takes place in Indiana and the Chicago area.

Production in the Southern District was estimated at 693,000 tons, down from 627,000 tons a week earlier.

Total domestic raw steel production last week was about 1.81 million tons, which was down slightly from 1.85 million tons a week earlier.

U.S. steel mills had a capacity utilization rate of 75.6 percent last week, down from 77.2 percent a week earlier. The capacity utilization rate had been 70.1 percent at the same time last year.

So far this year, domestic steel producers have had a capacity utilization rate of 77.1 percent, which is down from 77.5 percent during the same period in 2012.

Domestic mills have produced an estimated 88.7 million tons of steel this year, down 1.6 percent from the same period last year. The mills had made about 90.1 million tons of steel by Nov. 30, 2012.

In October, steel imports rose by 8.4 percent, according to the American Institute for International Steel.

"Steel imports jumped in October as pricing for semi-finished steel products, used by the domestic industry to augment their raw steel capacity, strengthened this fall," said executive director Richard Chriss. "Semi-finished imports accounted for over three-fourths of the increase in the month-to-month comparison. While we believe that for the most part the improvement in market conditions reflects re-stocking by service centers and distributors –and not a real improvement in underlying demand – import arrivals reacted predictably during the month in response to improved market conditions."

Northwest Indiana Times


Prelude, the world’s largest ship, launched

12/5 - Take the Empire State Building, lay it on the ground and add another 150 feet. Then put it out to sea. That’s essentially what Shell did today with the launch of the 1,601-foot Prelude mega-ship.

At 600,000 tons and 243 feet wide, when the Prelude left its dry dock in South Korea after a year-long build, it unseated the Emma Maersk (1,302 feet) as the world’s largest ship. But calling it a ship is almost a misnomer. The Prelude is a floating liquefied natural gas (FLNG) facility that will be posted off the coast of Western Australia and will stay there for the next quarter-century.

As an FLNG plant, the Prelude handles everything involved in capturing, processing, and storing liquid natural gas, sucking the stuff from deep within the Earth and refining 3.9 million tons each year before it’s offloaded onto smaller ships that bring it back to the mainland.

Since the Prelude has to process and hold 175 Olympic swimming pools’ worth of the liquid natural gas year-round, it has to withstand anything Mother Nature sends its way. For that, there’s a 305-foot-tall turret that runs through the ship and into the seafloor, keeping the Prelude anchored and allowing it to slowly pivot to the direction of the wind. Between the moorings, the turret, and the three 6,700-horsepower engines, the ship can handle a category 5 hurricane.

The Prelude is set to launch in 2017, and will settle into its new home 300 miles north-east of Broome, Western Australia through 2042.



Lookback #18 – Henry Steinbrenner sank following collision on December 5, 1909.

12/5 - It was 104 years ago today that the first Henry Steinbrenner sank for the first time. The 440 foot long, 8-year old bulk carrier was down bound with iron ore when it collided with the up bound, and coal laden, Harry A. Berwind. The accident occurred in the Mud Lake section of the St. Marys River near Sault Ste. Marie.

Heavy snow limited visibility. The Steinbrenner received a 40-foot hole in her hull and sank with the cabins remaining above the water line. The ship spent the winter on the bottom. This steamer was refloated in 1910 and rebuilt at Cleveland to continue service in the Kinsman Transit Co. fleet.

Henry Steinbrenner was subsequently lost on Lake Superior when the weather turned bad on May 11, 1953. The ship was again loaded with iron ore. The wild winds, and up to 19-foot waves, ripped off three hatch covers. Seventeen sailors were lost while another 14 were rescued when the vessel sank about 15 miles south of Isle Royale.

Skip Gillham


Today in Great Lakes History -  December 5

In 1927, 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.


New Algoma Equinox enters Seaway for first time

12/4 - Algoma Central Corporation's newest addition to its fleet, Algoma Equinox, entered the St. Lawrence Seaway on Tuesday, Dec. 3 for the first time.

The vessel arrived at the St. Lambert Lock in Montreal at 1:48 p.m., officially ending a long journey that began in China. The vessel departed the Nantong Mingde Shipyard in Nantong City, China on Oct. 1. After transiting the Panama Canal in mid-November, Algoma Equinox arrived in Canada for its first load iron ore from Port Cartier, Quebec, Dec. 1. The ship departed Port Cartier on December 2 and after stopping in Montreal briefly overnight. She is now on her way to Hamilton, Ontario, with her first official cargo.

Upon her arrival in Hamilton she will unload at Pier 21 or the ArcelorMittal Dofasco Steel Dock. Algoma Equinox is the first of the new Equinox class ships that Algoma has ordered from China. In total, eight new vessels will be joining the Algoma fleet, with four being straight-deck bulk carriers and an additional four being self-unloaders. Two of the straight-deckers are being built for CWB Inc. formerly the Canadian Wheat Board, with Algoma operating them.

Denny Dushane


Port Reports -  December 4

Lorain, Ohio - Phil Leon
Cuyahoga arrived about 7 p.m. Tuesday to the Ready Mix terminal.

Sandusky & Marblehead, Ohio - Jim Spencer
Algoma Olympic was loading Tuesday night at the NS coal dock. She arrived late day, following departure of the Manistee, which was upbound in the St. Clair River. At Marblehead, the Sam Laud loaded overnight and through the morning hours before sailing.


Great Lakes continue move toward normal levels

12/4 - Lake Superior declined by less than it usually does in November, and Lakes Huron and Michigan actually rose in a month they nearly always decline. That was the report Monday from the International Lake Superior Board of Control.

Lake Superior declined a bit less than its usual 2-inch drop for November and sat just 2 inches below its long-term average for Dec. 1. The lake is now 13 inches above the Dec. 1 level in 2012.

Huron and Michigan reversed the usual decline of 2 inches for November and instead rose by 0.4 inches. The lakes are now 15 inches higher than on Dec. 1, 2012, and just 13 inches below the long-term average for this time of year.

The lakes have been generally trending back toward normal in 2013 after several years below normal.

Duluth News Tribune


Mackinaw scheduled to arrive at Navy Pier Friday with Christmas trees

12/4 - Chicago, Ill. – The Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw, serving once again as this year’s Christmas Ship and loaded with more than 1,200 Christmas trees, is returning to Chicago on Dec. 6, at 8:30 a.m. for a two-day event re-enacting an annual Chicago tradition from the late 1800s and early 1900s.

The Christmas trees, purchased by the Chicago’s Christmas Ship Committee, will be offloaded on the morning of Dec. 7 by members of the Coast Guard and local youth volunteers including the Sea Cadets, Venture Crews, Sea Scouts and the Young Marines, following a brief, public ceremony beginning at 10 a.m.

The ceremony will take place at the west end of Navy Pier, near the Captain at the Helm statue. The first tree will be presented to a representative family. The remaining trees will be loaded onto trucks for distribution by 18 local community organizations to more than 1,200 deserving families throughout Chicago.

The Mackinaw’s reenactment continues a treasured piece of Chicago’s maritime tradition. Herman Schuenemann, captain of the original Christmas Ship, delivered fresh evergreens and wreaths for the holiday season from Michigan to Chicago for more than 30 years during the late 1800s and early 1900s. On Nov. 23, 1912, Captain Schuenemann was at the helm of the fabled Christmas Ship the Rouse Simmons, transiting from Michigan. On that day, Captain Schuenemann, the Rouse Simmons and 16 crew were lost in a storm between Kewaunee and Two Rivers, Wis.

During its transit to Chicago this year, the crew of the Mackinaw will hold a solemn tribute and drop a wreath into the waters near the resting place of the Rouse Simmons, which was located in 1971.

Chicago’s boating community has been re-enacting the landing of the Rouse Simmons in Chicago for the past 14 years. The Chicago’s Christmas Ship Committee is comprised of and supported by all facets of the Chicago’s boating community including the International Shipmasters Association; Chicago Marine Heritage Society; the Navy League of the United States; Chicago yacht clubs; Friends of the Marine Community; the Chicago Yachting Association, the Cruise Ship Mystic Blue and others. Navy Pier hosts the event in support of this ongoing tradition.

Free public tours of the Mackinaw will be available on Dec 7, from 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.


Obituary: Captain Roderick Graham

12/4 - Captain Roderick Graham of Howard City, Michigan, passed away Saturday, November 30, at the age of 84. Captain Graham had a career of over 40 years sailing the lakes on different types of carriers including tankers, cement boats, passenger boats, ferries, excursion boats and bulk carriers.

He was captain of the Straits trainferry Chief Wawatam from 1974 until 1983. In 1945 he signed aboard the tanker Imperial Cornwall. In 1949 he started work with Georgian Bay Lines, serving in both North and South American and reaching the rank of first mate. He sailed on the South American through the 1967 season, her last. He later sailed the bulk carriers of the Shenango and Bethlehem fleets until the Chief Wawatam job opened up. After leaving the Chief, he sailed the Bo-Lo boat St. Claire before retiring.

He is predeceased by his wife Joan, whom he met on the North American. He is survived by his two daughters, Lori and Heather, as well as a son Bruce, and many grandchildren.

Bob Campbell


Lookback #17 – Captain C.D. Secord needed help on December 4, 1961

12/4 - The bulk carrier Captain C.D. Secord became disabled off Isle Royale 52 years ago today. Earlier, while up bound in the St. Marys River, the ship suffered from engine trouble and sustained propeller damage. Fleetmate Sir Thomas Shaughnessy took the vessel in tow and headed across Lake Superior for the Canadian lakehead communities of Fort William and Port Arthur.

Superior was in a foul mood, as it often can be that time of year, and the towline broke in a storm. The U.S. Coast Guard ship Woodrush reconnected with Captain C.D. Secord and brought the ship out of danger. Another fleetmate, Mohawk Deer, completed the tow to Port Arthur.

The ship dated from 1900 and first sailed as Charles R. Van Hise. It began service as part of the Bessemer Steamship Co., and was an original member of the United States Steel fleet in 1901.

During World War One, the vessel was cut in two so it could be towed from the lakes and enter saltwater service. Fortunately, the war ended before the 458-foot-long bulk carrier departed, so it was rebuilt at Ashtabula and lengthened to 557 feet overall before resuming service as the A.E.R. Schneider in 1920. In later years it was known as S.B. Way and J.M. Oag before becoming Captain C.D. Secord for the Mohawk Navigation Co. in 1937.

It last operated in 1967 and, following a sale for scrap, the ship finally reached the Atlantic in August 1968, 50 years after the first attempt to go to sea was halted. The final port was Santander, Spain, and the 68-year-old freighter arrived there, under tow for dismantling, on August 21.


Updates -  December 4

News Photo Gallery


Today in Great Lakes History -  December 4

In 1947, 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.

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: IONIA caught fire in the engine room 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.


Port Reports -  December 3

Marquette, Mich. - Rod Burdick
A busy Monday at the Upper Harbor ore dock included visits by Herbert C. Jackson, Lakes Contender and Lee A. Tregurtha.

Marblehead, Ohio - Jim Spencer
The Interlake fleet tug Dorothy Ann and barge Pathfinder loaded Monday at the Lafarge stone dock. Loading continued into the evening.


Empire Mine shutdown caused by early morning fire

12/3 - Palmer, Mich. – A fire broke out early Tuesday at the Empire Mine in Palmer, causing a temporary shutdown of the facility. Company officials said they did not know how long the iron ore mine would remain shuttered.

Jennifer Huetter, district manager of public affairs Cliffs Natural Resources, said a fire broke out at the mine's limestone feeding system, which is how crushed limestone gets to the mine.

All employees were evacuated safely, Huetter said, and there were no injuries. Huetter said no damage estimate had been established, and the cause of the fire is unknown. Cliffs Natural Resources, the United Steelworkers and the Mine Safety Health Administration are investigating the fire. The Empire Mine is one of two iron ore mines Cliffs operates in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

The Mining Journal


Welland Canal featured on CBC TV's Rick Mercer Report

12/3 - This Tuesday evening, the Rick Mercer Report (CBC TV) will feature Mercer’s voyage on board the Whitefish Bay, a Canada Steamship Lines vessel, in the Welland Canal. Check your channel guide to determine the show's availability in your area (generally Tuesday at 8 p.m. on your local CBC TV station).


Santa gathers Christmas requests aboard museum tug John Purves

12/3 - Sturgeon Bay, Wis. – Santa Claus will make his annual visit to the Door County Maritime Museum in Sturgeon Bay to gather gift requests from area children. He will welcome children aboard the tugboat John Purves, the museum’s 94-year-old in-water exhibit, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 7.

His visit offers a double treat for the children since it not only presents an opportunity to see Santa, but to also step aboard an historic tugboat.

“I know Santa Claus needs a little break from his workshop,” said the museum’s executive director Bob Desh. “We feel fortunate to have Santa visit the museum during such a busy season.”

Once on board the 149-foot tugboat, Santa will accept children’s Christmas wishes. However, due to the cramped conditions on the vessel, only two adults will be permitted to escort the children. While they wait, children will be entertained by holiday videos in the museum’s Reddin Bridge Room.

The event will be held in conjunction with the museum’s Merry-Time Festival of Trees and will provide the public with a special opportunity to see the trees. While admission to the museum is free to children through age 17 until the festival’s closing on Dec. 10, adults will be admitted to the tug and museum’s galleries Saturday for only the price of a raffle ticket. Tickets sell for $5 and allow the purchaser to try to win a decorated Christmas tree of their choice. Museum admission is free for members.


Obituary: Capt. James J. Bishop

12/3 - Capt. James J. Bishop, 87, of St. Ignace, Mich. passed away peacefully on November 1 at Mackinac Straits Hospital after suffering a stroke on October 19 at his home. He was born in Sault Ste. Marie on April 3, 1926 to Capt. Melvin (Mike) and Eileen (Hassett) Bishop.

Capt. Bishop had his own ferryboats (Fairy Isle and the Shawnee) that serviced St. Ignace to Mackinac Island during the 1960s. During this time, he started the Mighty Mac Cruises, taking tourists below the Mackinac Bridge at night aboard the Fairy Isle to view the bridge lights.

In the early 1970s, he was night watchman on the hand-fired train ferry Chief Wawatam. After that, he began a charter fishing business out of Charlevoix. Once he retired that business, he served as a relief captain for the Arnold Line and Star Line ferryboats in St. Ignace. For many years, he was a licensed tugboat captain and worked on the Great Lakes until retirement.

He graduated from St. Leo High School in Chicago and joined the U.S. Merchant Marine under the U.S. Coast Guard, serving active duty in the Atlantic War Zone and the Mediterranean-Middle East War Zone on the John F. Cushing and the Kettle Creek from 1943 to 1945. He was honorably discharged in May 1945 and was then drafted in the Army during the Korean War and served until 1952.

At the captain's request, there will be no memorial service at this time. There will be much music and merriment next summer when the family hosts a gathering on the shores of Lake Michigan to celebrate his life.

Soo Evening News


Lookback #16 – Lionel-Manchester Merchant collided on December 3, 1963

12/3 - It was 50 years ago today that two saltwater ships, with Great Lakes connections, collided at the entrance to the Seaway. Both received considerable damage.

The most seriously damaged was the six-year-old Norwegian freighter Lionel. The 321-foot-long vessel, a Seaway trader since 1959, had to be beached at Ronde Island following an explosion and fire. It was eventually refloated and given sufficient repairs over the winter by Canadian Vickers Ltd. at Montreal to enable a tow to Drammen, Norway, the next year for permanent work.

Lionel returned to service in 1964 as Skagatind and was back through the Seaway, on two occasions, in 1965, but never returned.

There were subsequent resales and renames of Bastion in 1967, Capetan Alecos Milonas in 1972 and Alecos in 1980. The latter was laid up at Eleusis, Greece, on May 28, 1982, and suffered an engine room fire there on July 8 and another on July 10. This time the damage was not repaired and the ship was broken up locally in September 1983.

Manchester Merchant dated from 1951 and sustained bow damage in the collision. It served Manchester Liners Ltd. into 1967 and, following a sale for Liberian flag service, was abandoned as Clio in the Atlantic, about 700 miles off Angola, after a fire broke out on February 13, 1972. The hull was sighted, low in the water, on February 19, but was never seen again.

Skip Gillham


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, LE GRAND S. DEGRAFF collided with the steamer HARVARD while down bound in the Detroit River in fog.

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: 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: Skip 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.


Saguenay reaches Aliaga for scrapping

12/2 - The former Canada Steamship Lines bulk Carrier Saguenay arrived off Aliaga, Turkey, on December 1, and is due to be beached for dismantling. The 730-foot-long vessel had departed Montreal, under her own power, on November 6 for a rendezvous with Turkish shipbreakers.

This vessel was built at Hoboken, Belgium, and launched on March 30, 1981. It was completed that June as Federal Thames. The ship began Great Lakes trading the following month. It was a regular visitor at a variety of inland ports over the duration of its career.

Federal Thames opened the navigation season at the St. Lambert Lock on April 2, 1984, as the first saltwater trader up bound for the year. On board was a cargo of sugar from South Africa for Toronto. It then loaded canola at Thunder Bay and 306,000 bushels of wheat at Toledo for delivery to Norway.

The following year, the ship loaded 25,400 tons of chrome ore at Duluth for Sweden. The ore had been mined in Montana during World War Two but had remained stockpiled.

After five trips to the Great Lakes in 1994, Federal Thames was sold and re-registered in the Marshall Islands as Lake Superior. It was the first saltwater ship of the 1995 season in the Welland Canal on March 25 and headed to Burns Harbor, Indiana.

Steel, wheat, flax, peas, bleached pulpwood, coke, corn, soybeans, potash, and sunflower seeds all served as outbound cargoes in the 44 voyages Lake Superior made from the Great Lakes from 1995 through 2008.

Late in 2008, the vessel was resold to Canada Steamship Lines and, the following season, it was renamed Saguenay. It was repainted in CSL colors in 2010 and combined Great Lakes, St. Lawrence and some limited overseas trading on their account to finish a 32 year career.

Skip Gillham


Port Reports -  December 2

Green Bay, Wis. - Wendell Wilke
Tug Undaunted and barge Pere Marquette 41 were at Western Lime unloading stone, the Philip R. Clarke was at C. Reiss Coal unloading coal (and departed midafternoon) and the North Contender was at the VT Venture Dock.

Cedarville & Port Inland, Mich. - Denny Dushane
At Cedarville, the next vessel to load will be the Wilfred Sykes arriving on Monday in the late evening. Presque Isle is due to arrive in the late morning hours on Tuesday and the Calumet is expected to arrive in the early morning hours Thursday to load.

At Port Inland, three vessels are due on Tuesday afternoon, with the barge Ashtabula and tug Defiance along with the Pere Marquette 41 and the Undaunted in the mid-afternoon and Wilfred Sykes arriving in the late afternoon.

Calcite, Mich. - Denny Dushane
American Mariner was expected to arrive at Calcite in the late evening hours on Sunday to load at the South Dock. There are no vessels scheduled Monday-Wednesday. Three vessels are scheduled to load on Thursday, with the Lewis J. Kuber arriving in the very early morning for the North Dock and the Pathfinder at noon for the South Dock. The H. Lee White is also due to arrive at noon on Thursday for the South Dock to load.

Alpena, Mich. - Ben & Chanda McClain
On Friday all three cement carriers were in port to load cement at Lafarge. The Alpena arrived in the morning followed by the tug Samuel de Champlain and barge Innovation. The G.L Ostrander and barge Integrity came in during the evening. On Sunday the Alpena returned to load cement for Green Bay, Wisc. The Cuyahoga tied up at the Alpena Oil dock on Sunday afternoon to unload salt.

Stoneport, Mich. - Denny Dushane
The barge Ashtabula and tug Defiance loaded at Stoneport on Sunday and were due to depart around 6 p.m. Monday is expected to be a busy day at Stoneport, with five vessels all scheduled to load limestone cargoes as the season slowly winds down. Due to arrive first in the early morning is the Joseph H. Thompson and Algoma Transport, followed by the Philip R. Clarke in the late morning hours. The Lewis J. Kuber is due in the early afternoon on Monday, and rounding out the schedule will be the Great Lakes Trader due in the early evening on Monday.

Saginaw River - Todd Shorkey
Olive L. Moore - Lewis J. Kuber were the first visitors of December to make a delivery to a Saginaw River dock. The pair traveled upriver Sunday afternoon, calling on the GM dock in Saginaw. They were expected to be outbound late in the evening or early Monday morning.

For the month of November, there were 20 commercial cargo deliveries/vessel passages on the Saginaw River, an increase of three over the same time period last season and three more than the five-year-average. For the year to date, there have been 133 commercial cargo deliveries/vessel passages. This represents an increase of six deliveries more than the same period last season, but four less than the five-year-average.

Toledo, Ohio - Denny Dushane
Kaye E. Barker was expected to arrive at the CSX Coal Dock to load on Sunday in the early evening hours. Following the Barker will be her Interlake fleetmate the Hon. James L. Oberstar, due on Tuesday in the early afternoon. The James L. Kuber is due at the CSX Coal Dock to load on Thursday in the early evening and the American Mariner is due at CSX Coal Dock on Sunday, December 8 in the morning. Vessels due at the Torco Dock with iron ore cargoes include the Lakes Contender and Ken Boothe Sr. due on Wednesday in the mid-afternoon along with the James R. Barker also on Wednesday in the late afternoon. CSL's new Trillium self-unloading laker Whitefish Bay is due on Friday in the morning and wrapping up the schedule will be the American Mariner due on Sunday, December 8 in the early morning hours. Four other vessels – Algoma Olympic, Jiimaan along with the tug Michigan and barge Great Lakes and the tug Mary E. Hannah – were all in port as well.

Sandusky, Ohio - Jim Spencer
The Michipicoten was loading Sunday night at the NS coal Dock. She was reportedly slated for Windsor, Ont.


Lookback #15 – Millenium Eagle blown across Welland Canal on December 2, 2000

12/2 - Wind, particularly cross wind, can play havoc with ships transiting the narrow confines of the Welland Canal. Millenium Eagle, a canal trader under four names, was registered in the Cayman Islands when it was blown across the waterway while approaching Lock 2 up bound 13 years ago today.

Help from the pilot boat and winch lines from the partially tied ship assisted in restoring order and enabling the 577-foot-long freighter to resume its journey.

The vessel was built at Sedota, Japan, in 1983 and made its first appearance in the Seaway on November 18, 1984, as Mangal Desai. It was a frequent Great Lakes trader and, on December 4, 1989, was in position to rescue crew from the U.S.C.G. Mesquite aground near Houghton, Michigan.

Originally under the flag of India, the ship was sold and became Millenium Eagle in 1998 and continued the tradition of regular Great Lakes trading. Another sale in 2002 resulted in the rename of Stokmarnes, with registry in Hong Kong and three more trips to the Great Lakes that year.

It became Seneca, under Maltese registry in 2004 and returned inland the next year. By 2010, its last season as a Seaway trader, this ship was noted as the oldest saltwater ship to visit the Great Lakes that year.

Following a sale to Pakistani shipbreakers, Seneca arrived at Gadani Beach on March 24, 2013, and was pulled ashore for scrapping.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  December 2

News Photo Gallery
Saltie Gallery updated with pictures of the Apollon, CL Hanse Gate, Emilie, Fraserborg, Hollandia, Kristin Knutsen, and Tiwala.


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.

Hall Corporation of Canada’s OTTERCLIFFE HALL (Hull # 667) was launched December 2, 1968, at Lauzon, Quebec, by Davie Shipbuilding Co. Ltd.

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 10 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.


Fire at Republic Steel injures 4

12/1 - Lorain, Ohio – A fire Saturday afternoon at Republic Steel left four people injured and caused substantial damage. The fire was reported at 2:20 p.m. in the new electrical arc furnace room, which opened earlier this month, according to Lorain Fire Capt. Tom Baker.

Lorain Fire Department responded to the plant, with mutual aid provided by Elyria, Elyria Township, Sheffield and Sheffield Township fire departments. The fire was declared out at 3:30 p.m.

Baker said the fire was caused by a heat source entering the oxygen supply. The fire blew through three or four floors, damaging an area that houses computer systems. Damage estimates were not yet available, but Baker said, it will be in the millions.

It was previously reported that five people were injured, but Baker said he was aware of four people who were transported to Mercy Regional Medical Center. Three people suffered smoke inhalation, and one person suffered first-degree burns. Baker said he believed all four were mill personnel.



Port Reports -  December 1

Sandusky and Marblehead, Ohio - Jim Spencer
Thunder Bay - one of the new CSL self unloaders - loaded at the NS coal dock Friday afternoon and overnight. At Marblehead, the Cuyahoga loaded Friday and sailed for Windsor. She was replaced at the Lafarge stone dock overnight by the Algorail, which will also sail for Windsor when loaded.

Toronto, Ont. - Charlie Gibbons
Friday afternoon the charter boat Mariposa Belle was floated off Toronto Drydock after her Coast Guard inspection. She will operate on the lower Niagara River next season, if all goes as planned. The ferry Ongiara went on the drydock after the Belle was floated.


Lookback #14 – Henry Cort hit pier and sank on December 1, 1934

12/1 - Luck ran out for the whaleback steamer Henry Cort 79 years ago today. The ship struck the north pier at Muskegon, Michigan, while seeking shelter from 60 mile per hour winds on the storm tossed lake. The vessel was travelling in ballast from Holland, Michigan to Chicago when it was lost.

It was not the first time that the then 42-year-old whaleback steamer had found trouble. It had been ice-breaking in Lake Erie on December 17, 1917, when it was in a collision with the Midvale and sank. The ship was salvaged on September 22, 1918, and towed to Toledo for repairs.

On another icebreaking excursion in 1927, Henry Cort managed to go aground on Colchester Reef and was abandoned. Sold, salvaged and repaired as a crane ship, the 335 foot long freighter hit Ballard's Reef in the Detroit River in December 1933, managed to return to Detroit and settled on the bottom on December 24.

After the 1934 accident, the crew huddled in dark, unheated quarters eating leftover Thanksgiving turkey until help arrived. While all on board were eventually saved, on rescuer perished when a U.S.C.G. surfboat overturned while bringing help to the stranded sailors.

Skip Gillham


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.

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 - 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 towline 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.

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 oceangoing 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.


News Archive - August 1996 to present

Return to Great Lakes & Seaway Shipping

Comments, news, and suggestions to:

Copyright All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Due to frequent updates, this page will automatically reload every half hour