Great Lakes & Seaway Shipping News Archive

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Last vessels for 2015 to transit the Seaway system

12/31 - As the 2015 shipping season draws to a close, the last few vessels are making their way through the St. Lawrence Seaway system. BBC Quebec should be the final downbound saltwater vessel. They have a cargo from Hamilton, Ont., and are headed to Cork, Ireland, to unload. The tanker Patras, which entered the Seaway on Dec. 24 while upbound for Hamilton, was the last upbound saltwater vessel and the last new saltwater vessel to go upbound. CWB Marquis was the last upbound ship of the season on Dec. 30. They are loaded with iron ore pellets from Port Cartier, Que., and heading to Hamilton. Baie St. Paul was the final downbound vessel of the season, from Superior, Wis., to Quebec City with iron ore pellets on Tuesday.

Denny Dushane and Ron Beaupre


Steel imports plunge 23 percent

12/31 - As the U.S. Department of Commerce starts slapping tariffs on steel dumpers, imports are finally starting to fall. Preliminary steel imports plunged by 23 percent in November, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute.

The United States imported 2.3 million net tons in November, which is down 22.7 percent as compared to October. Finished steel imports fell 15.6 percent in November to 1.9 million net tons.

Cut length plate imports rose 42 percent in November, and oil country tubular goods rose by 12 percent.

Imports captured 25 percent of the overall market share in November, the lowest it's been all year. Foreign-made steel has attained a record 29 percent market share so far this year, leading to layoffs and mill idlings nationwide.

Last year, cheap imports, which are often subsidized by foreign governments, took a record 28 percent of the market share in the United States. Service centers, some of the largest buyers of steel, have said they would prefer to buy American but if they don't buy a certain amount of cheap imports they will be beat by competitors on price.

So far this year, the United States has imported 36.2 million tons of steel, an 11 percent decrease as compared to the same period in 2014. Finished steel imports total 29.3 percent, a 5 percent decline.

Reinforcing bar, standard pipe, line pipe and wire drawn imports have all risen by double digits.

Imports are on pace to reach 39.6 million tons this year, including 32 million tons of finished steel products that don't require any further processing at finishing lines or steel centers in the United States.

To put that number in perspective, U.S. steelmakers typically produce 90 million to 100 million tons of steel a year.

NW Indiana Times


Carferry Badger returning to Ludington Wednesday night

12/31 - Ludington, Mich. – The SS Badger was being towed back to Ludington from Sturgeon Bay, Wis. Wednesday after about a month there for inspections and maintenance work. As of 1:45 p.m., the Badger was shown crossing into Michigan waters being towed and pushed by the Selvick Marine Towing tugs Donny S and Jimmy L, which towed the 410-foot carferry to Wisconsin Nov. 29. According to Terri Brown of Lake Michigan Carferry, the Badger was expected to arrive about 6:30 p.m.

Ludington Daily News, Richard Teichen


Port Reports -  December 31

Oswego, N.Y. – Ned Goebricher
On Wednesday, the English River unloaded cement.

Toledo, Ohio – Denny Dushane
The Port of Toledo has wrapped up its season with the last vessels arriving. The CSX Coal Dock, the Torco Ore Dock and the Midwest Terminal Stone Dock are now closed for the season. At CSX, Algosoo was the last vessel for 2015 to load, on Dec. 27. They were also the last Canadian vessel to load at CSX. The tug Victory and barge James L. Kuber became the final U.S. vessel to load at the CSX for the season, also on Dec. 27. At the Torco Dock, CSL Laurentien was the final vessel of the season to unload iron ore pellets, on Dec. 27. They were also the last Canadian vessel at Torco. Manitowoc became the last U.S. vessel for 2015 to unload at Torco when they arrived on Dec. 25. Manitowoc was also the last vessel to deliver a limestone cargo to the Midwest Terminal Stone Dock in 2015. So far for the winter lay-up period of 2015/16 there are seven vessels in Toledo – Algoma Hansa at the Ironhead Marine Drydock, St. Clair is at the CSX #2 Dock, Walter J. McCarthy Jr. at the Toledo Overseas Terminal Dock, Manistee at the Torco Slip #2 across from the American Valor, and Lewis J. Kuber / Olive L. Moore at the Torco Dock. In the Frog Pond area are the American Valor, tug Jane Ann IV and the barge Sarah Spencer.


Lookback #774 – Former Barge 126 stranded in Buzzard's Bay on Dec. 31, 1905

The whaleback Barge 126 was built at West Superior, Wis., and launched on Dec. 17, 1892. The 264 foot long vessel left on its first trip on May 9, 1893, with a cargo of wheat for Buffalo.

The ship served the American Steel Barge Co. until joining the Bessemer Steamship Co. in 1899 and then the Pittsburgh Steamship Co. in 1901. Barge 126 was sold on April 20, 1905, and left the lakes, via the St. Lawrence, for the east coast coal trade under the name b) Baden. It did not last the year.

It was 110-years ago, on Dec. 31, 1905, that Baden stranded in Buzzard's Bay, MA while on a voyage with coal from Newport News, Va., to New Bedford, Ma. The ship was a total loss and the six sailors on board perished.

Skip Gillham


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.


Port Reports -  December 30

Thunder Bay, Ont.
Canada Steamship Lines’ Cedarglen went into layup here Dec. 24. Algoma Spirit laid up Dec. 26.

Port Weller, Ont.
Algoma Guardian laid up at Port Weller Drydock Dec. 28. The tanker Algosar is in the adjoining drydock, where she has been since Dec. 16.


Lookback #773 – Former Sorteklint, a pre-Seaway visitor, driven aground on Dec. 30, 1974

A ship that first came to the Great Lakes as Sorteklint in 1958, was wrecked 41 years ago today. The Danish-flag freighter had been built at Oldenburg, West Germany, in 1958 and returned inland under two subsequent names.

It was renamed b) Jacqueline in 1960 for saltwater service and then became c) Coral Bay in 1964 and d) Inalotte Blumenthal in 1968. It came through the Seaway in 1964 and again in 1970 having been lengthened from 257'7” to 299'7” in 1966.

A final sale in 1972 brought the ship under the flag of Cyprus as e) Chrisso and it sailed as such until wrecked on Dec. 30, 1974.

Chrisso was driven aground in a storm and abandoned off Punta Paduletta near Tavolara Island, north east of Sardinia. The ship was on a voyage from Skikda, Algeria, to La Spezia, Italy, and was traveling in ballast. The crew was saved but their wrecked ship was a total loss.

Skip Gillham


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.


Dangerous weather conditions on Lake Michigan

12/29 - Milwaukee, Wis. – Coast Guard Sector Lake Michigan has urged anyone going on or near the water to use extreme caution and be aware of the weather that will be affecting the area over the next few days.

The National Weather Service in Milwaukee issued a storm warning for southern Lake Michigan through midnight Monday and a gale warning for the entire lake until Tuesday morning.

Winds are expected to gust to more than 60 mph across the lake, and waves are forecast to build to more than 20 feet in some areas. These strong winds, high waves and mixed precipitation will create dangerous conditions for anyone on the water.

The risk is also high for those who venture out on the lakefront due wave action and the potential for coastal flooding in some areas.

This fall, the Coast Guard responded to multiple instances of people being swept off of waterfront structures, such as jetties or piers, during periods of large wave action all across Lake Michigan. Unfortunately, many of those cases resulted in fatalities.

“The forecasted conditions will result in dangerous conditions along Lake Michigan," said Cmdr. Leanne Lusk, chief of response at Sector Lake Michigan. "The Coast Guard urges mariners to monitor National Weather Service reports and take appropriate safety precautions for these conditions."

Any mariners who do encounter hazardous conditions or people in distress are requested to contact the Sector Lake Michigan Command Center at 414-747-7190, marine radio channel 16 or call 911.



Port Reports -  December 29

Buffalo, N.Y. – Brian W.
Manitoulin departed Monday afternoon after unloading a grain cargo. Mississagi was anchored off the breakwall on Monday.


Noronic fire survivor dies

12/29 - Mrs. Barbara Troup, a summer gift shop attendant when the S.S. Noronic burned at Toronto on Sept. 17, 1949, has passed away in Beamsville, Ont. She was born in Vineland, Ont and graduated from Beamsville High School and the MacDonald Institute, Ontario Agricultural College in Guelph, Ont. She and her husband Erland raised their family in Jordan Station, Ont., and served her community in many ways. She was on the Board of Governors of Niagara College, a Councilor for the Town of Lincoln, a School Trustee, was active in the Lincoln History Club and the Jordan Station United Church.

Skip Gillham


Coast Guard wraps up Argo challenge

12/29 - Port Clinton, Ohio – The Argo never should have set sail on Lake Erie. The New York harbor barge was not designed to withstand Great Lakes storms, and after loading in Sault Ste. Marie and heading for New Jersey, it ran into a storm that packed 58-mph winds.

That was in October 1937, and when the barge disappeared beneath 50 feet of water — its two crewmen rescued by the tugboat Syosset — it sunk into obscurity as one of 2,000 Lake Erie shipwrecks.

Nearly 78 years later, an Ohio dive group known as CLUE, for Cleveland Underwater Explorers, informed the Coast Guard that it had found the sunken Argo while searching for an 1840s schooner. It was about nine miles north of Kelleys Island, just south of the U.S.-Canadian border.

The sunken barge wasn’t the only thing CLUE discovered. The divers also noticed a sheen on the water and a strong odor of solvent. There was a leak coming from the Argo that turned out to be benzol, a solvent made of benzene, toluene and xylene with trace amounts of petroleum.

The discovery of a potentially toxic substance leaking into Lake Erie triggered an emergency containment and cleanup effort that took two months, involved 13 federal, state and Canadian agencies plus private salvage companies, and cost about $5.3 million.

Lt. Cmdr. Tony Migliorini, commanding officer of the U.S. Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit in Toledo, said the cleanup, completed in mid-December, posed some unique challenges.

“For me, personally, it was one of the most complex undertakings — and for several reasons,” Migliorini said Wednesday. “One of the biggest reasons was that we were working with a vessel that we really didn’t have a lot of information about. We didn’t have plans available for the Argo. We didn’t have a crew from a recent sinking. We were really working with a lot of unknowns.”

Not only did they lack information on the 104-year-old barge, there also was little known about the solvent it was carrying. News stories after the 1937 sinking reported that the barge carried 100,000 gallons of benzol, but the amount could not be verified.

After nearly eight decades under 50 feet of water, how much benzol was still held in the eight tanks aboard the Argo? How much of a threat did a benzol leak pose to people and the environment?

“We’re not sure what they were using the benzol for. It’s something used in the seal manufacturing industry,” Migliorini said. “Benzene is a known carcinogen. It also has the properties of a solvent, so it’s a bit corrosive. It’s similar to paint thinner.”

The coast guard established a safety zone around the barge with a radius of 1 nautical mile as it conducted tests. No vessel was allowed to enter, pass through or anchor in the safety zone.

A Unified Command was established for the coast guard and the Ohio EPA. Among the groups that joined in the project were NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) and T and T Salvage Inc.

“It is hard to give a good estimate of exactly what was released,” Migliorini said. “We were able to retrieve a little over 30,000 gallons of water-and-benzol mix, most of which we believe to be water. There was a little amount of benzol, maybe a few thousand gallons.”

He said divers “hot tapped” the sunken containers, drilling holes into the benzol tanks and placing valves in the holes, then using hoses to pump out any product. Divers wore specialized suits that provided positive air pressure to blow any chemicals away from their skin if their suits became contaminated.

The weather was fairly mild for most of the time the project was underway, from October through mid-December, but working 50 feet below the surface was still challenging, Migliorini said.

The benzol/water mix was pumped out of the barge, into tanks and then transferred to a disposal facility. The portable tanks were then decontaminated.

Normally the government tracks down responsible parties to pay for such spills, but that was not possible with the long-ago sinking of the Argo. The Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund covered $5.2 million of the costs and the hazardous material Superfund contributed another $450,000, according to the coast guard.

Migliorini said the coast guard and other agencies involved in the Argo containment train together regularly, which paid off when they faced a genuine environmental threat.

“We train and practice quite frequently. We have a standing committee for environmental issues,” he said.

Migliorini was satisfied with the success of the Argo project, especially with the fact that there were no injuries.

“Basically, it was a really well-coordinated event. We had a lot of different players there and it went as smooth as it could,” he said. “None of our responders were hurt, which is our priority no matter what. We minimized the impact to the public. Nobody was affected. It was as safe an operation as you can have.”

Times Herald


Lookback #772 – Former Ragneborg beached with machinery damage on Dec. 29, 1974

Ragneborg was brand new when it began Great Lakes visits in 1947. The Swedish-built and Norwegian-owned general cargo carried was able to transit the pre-Seaway locks due to her 258 foot length and 42.2 foot beam.

After leaving for the Great Lakes in July 1947, the vessel hit an iceberg of the Strait of Belle Isle and received what was termed moderate damage. Later, on Oct. 21, 1949, Ragneborg arrived at Duluth with 1,200 tons of wood pulp. After unloading, the ship sailed to Chicago to load for overseas.

With the opening of the Seaway in 1959, Ragneborg made three more inland voyages and a total of 11 to the end of the 1962 season. It was sold in 1963, renamed b) Rosalinda, and placed under the flag of Peru. It retained this registry after becoming c) Chavin in 1970.

Chavin was beached at Puerto Cortes, Costa Rica on Dec. 29, 1974. The engine broke down on a voyage to Buenaventura, Colombia, and there was considerable machinery damage. The local Port Authority took over Chavin on Nov. 29, 1975, but it was still there in 1978. I suspect it has now long been removed and broken up for scrap.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  December 29

Lay-up list updated


Today in Great Lakes History -  December 29

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Warmer weather results in 90 layoffs at Sifto salt mine

12/28 - Goderich, Ont. – Just three days before Christmas Compass Minerals, a parent company of Sifto, announced it would be laying off about 90 employees from the Goderich salt mine.

“This was not an easy decision, and comes with a heavy heart, especially at this time of the year. This decision is based on product demand, and is no reflection of the quality and quantity of work from our employees,” Compass Minerals said in a statement.

The staff reduction is the result of warm weather, which has reduced the demand for the company’s deicing products.

Mining activities at the Goderich mine will be reduced to five days a week because of unbalanced inventories. As demand increases production will resume full production but who will be rehired is unknown at this time.

Goderich Signal Star


Lookback #771 – Dunav last reported as taking water on Dec. 28, 1980

The Yugoslavian freighter Dunav was built at La Spezia, Italy, and completed in Sept. 1973 for Jugoslavenska Linijaka Plovidba. The 585 foot, 5 inch long bulk carrier could carry in the range of 23,500 tons of cargo.

Dunav first appeared in the Seaway in 1974 and last came inland in 1980. The vessel loaded its final cargo of steel at Hamilton and headed to Tsingtao, China, to deliver the payload.

Dunav stopped at Los Angeles and then headed across the Pacific. On Dec. 28, 1980, the Captain reported his ship was taking water in heavy seas off Central Japan, and was never heard from again. The vessel failed to arrive at its destination and all 31 members of the crew perished.

In other parts of the world, two other former Seaway traders were also lost 35-years ago today. Both the former Prins Alexander, in the Red Sea, and the former Holmside at Casablanca, Morocco, were each wrecked.

Skip Gillham


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.


Port Reports -  December 27

St. Marys River
The 1,000-footer Mesabi Miner docked at Essar Steel late Saturday after CSL Assiniboine departed for Superior, Wis.

Sturgeon Bay, Wis. – Jim Conlon
The fire-damaged Alpena was pulled out of the graving dock at Bay Shipbuilding on Saturday morning by three Selvick towing tugs. The Alpena has a new paint job on her hull, which may indicate that the fire damage will be repaired.

Hamilton, Ont.
John D. Leitch laid up at Pier 26 on Dec. 26. Robert S. Pierson and Manitoba have also laid up for the winter, with Algolake due on Sunday.

Buffalo, N.Y. – Brian W.
Low water prevented the Manitoulin from coming in Saturday morning. She was on her approach to the North Entrance with a tug waiting outside the breakwall, but turned around and went to anchor off Windmill Point to wait for a shift in the wind and better water depth in the Buffalo River. She eventually headed for the dock Saturday night, with the tug Washington assisting.


Edna G. dock not city owned; officials look to change that

12/27 - Two Harbors, Minn. – The Edna G. dock isn't owned by the city of Two Harbors, but all the surrounding land is. The city is hoping to find a way to change that.

The dock is currently owned by Canadian National Railway. CN also pays the electricity on the dock, but it is used, maintained and repaired by the city. City officials began negotiating the sale of the dock with CN in June, but have gotten nowhere since. The council made a motion last week to give authorization to the city attorney to research all options available for obtaining ownership of the Edna G. dock.

The Edna G. is an historic retired Great Lakes steam tug that is open to the public for tours.

According to Mayor Randy Bolen, when the Edna G. was sold to the city for $1 in the 1980s, CN retained the lease agreement of the dock, but the city had to pay for upgrades. When city staff attempted to find the agreement, they came up with nothing, he said.

The city is hoping to obtain ownership of the dock for a transient boat docking facility. Two Harbors is the only major city along the North Shore that currently does not have a marina or dock for small crafts to take shelter from Lake Superior or to tie up to. The city put in a request for funds for the 2016 bonding session for the project, and according to the application this transient dock project will replace the former plan for a small craft harbor, also known as the safe harbor project. The request goes on to state that the transient dock would extend from the existing Edna G. dock 400-500 feet and will provide boat slips for visiting boats 26 feet or longer for periods up to 10 days with utilities and water provided at the slips.

The City Council held a special meeting June 1 to discuss the possible options for the types of transient boat docks. Six months ago it was estimated that the project could cost up to $6 million. The city is currently requesting from the state $750 for design fees in fiscal year 2016 and $5,000 for construction in fiscal year 2018. The city is also looking into other grants and funding options for the project.

If the city obtains ownership of the Edna G. dock, the transient dock could be extended from the existing dock. If ownership is not obtained, the other option that is being looked at is to have the dock completely removed and start from scratch.

Lake County News Chronicle


Fitzgerald documentary to be shown at National Museum

12/27 - Toledo, Ohio – Jack McCarthy had a recurring nightmare. The first mate of the S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald was in a ship’s pilothouse staring at a wall of water. The ship was taking a nose dive to the bottom, he told a fellow crewman.

Whether or not you believe in premonitions, this one proved true: Mr. McCarthy was one of the 29 who perished when the Big Fitz plunged to Lake Superior’s bottom during a November storm 40 years ago.

Mr. McCarthy’s nightmare is among the many stories told in the Great Lakes Historical Society’s 57-minute documentary, “A Good Ship and Crew Well Seasoned: The Edmund Fitzgerald and Her Legacy,” which recently premiered during a local fund-raiser that commemorated the disaster.

Beginning today, the film will be shown to general audiences in the National Museum of the Great Lakes at 1702 Front St. in East Toledo.

While the Fitzgerald’s sinking inevitably plays into the film’s narrative, it avoids rehashing the 40-year mystery of why the ore freighter went down. It concentrates on recollections from people who worked or visited aboard the vessel during its 17 years of sailing.

“What we tried to do is capture the humanity” of the people who worked aboard the Fitzgerald, Christopher Gillcrist, the historical society’s and museum’s executive director, said.

Ed Perrine, a Fitzgerald crewman who started as an oiler and learned to read after exposure to the vessel’s library, said in the film he resented Gordon Lightfoot’s ballad, “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” because “it reminded me of all my good friends” who went down with the ship.

But he added the lingering publicity caused by the song probably changed safety standards in the Great Lakes maritime industry too.

Others interviewed for the film were relatives of crew members or guests of the Oglebay Norton Co., a mining company whose Columbia Transportation subsidiary operated the Fitz as its fleet’s flagship.

The Fitz had many veteran sailors aboard. Some, including captain Ernest McSorley of Ottawa Hills, were planning their imminent retirements, although contrary to some Fitzgerald lore, an early-November departure from upper Lake Superior would not have been a lakes freighter’s final scheduled voyage for the season.

Mr. Perrine recounted in the film that Grant Walton, uncle of retired Toledo Blade editor Thomas Walton, had signed onto the Fitzgerald because working as a conveyor man on one of the Oglebay Norton fleet’s self-unloading vessels “was eroding his health.

“He transferred to the Fitz for less hazardous work — and died,” Mr. Perrine said.

Thomas Walton worked on the Fitz one season as a porter before deciding maritime life — pursued by his father, as well as his uncle — wasn’t for him.

After the sinking, Mr. Walton said, “I realized the fragile nature of life — that it’s all temporary.”

The film will be shown in the National Museum of the Great Lakes Community Room at noon and 2 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, and at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, through June. It also will be shown at noon and 2 p.m. on Tuesday, but starting in January, the museum will only be open Wednesday through Sunday until midspring.

Admission to the film is a $3 surcharge on regular museum admission prices, which are $8 for adults and $7 for seniors older than 65 and children ages 6 to 18. Children younger than 6 are admitted free of charge.

Toledo Blade


Lookback #770 – Canadian Olympic last laker down Seaway on Dec. 27, 2009

The Seaway-sized self-unloader Canadian Olympic was the last laker of the 2009 season downbound in the St. Lawrence Seaway. The 730 foot long member of the Upper Lakes Shipping fleet closed navigation at the St. Lambert Lock on Dec. 27, 2009.

The ship had been part of U.L.S. since it was completed by Port Weller Dry Docks in Nov. 1976. It got in a few trips before the end of the season and began sailing regularly, in a variety of trades from Lake Superior to the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Canadian Olympic ran aground in the St. Lawrence near Brockville on April 14, 1977, and needed to be lightered to Mapleheath and an eventual return to Port Weller for repairs.

On Aug. 5, 1985, the crew rescued 3 pleasure boaters from a sinking yacht on the Detroit River. Then, on Sept. 13, 2000, found a sailboat listed as missing off Olcott, N.Y., and brought these sailors to safety.

Since 2012, the vessel has been an active part of the Algoma fleet as b) Algoma Olympic.

Skip Gillham


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.


Port Reports -  December 26

Sarnia, Ont.
Cuyahoga arrived Thursday for winter layup in the north slip.

Oswego, N.Y. – Ned Goebricher
On Christmas Day Stephen B. Roman unloaded cement.


Two Notices to Shipping issued by Seaway concerning closing dates

12/26 - Closing of Navigation 2015 Change in Special Agreement Date Welland Canal and Lake Ontario / Montreal Closing of Navigation 2015 Change in Special Agreement Date


Lookback #769 – Sandwich, former Lake Falun, wrecked on Dec. 26, 1958

Sandwich was one the World War One “Lakers” built on the Great Lakes. The general cargo carrier was constructed at Wyandotte, MI by the Detroit Drydock Co. and completed in Feb. 1920, long after the war was over.

The 2,606 gross ton vessel headed to the Atlantic and served the U.S. Government until 1925. It was sold to the Eastern Steamship Lines Inc. that year and retained American registry as b) Sandwich.

In 1947, after World War Two, the vessel came under the flag of Panama for Cia Avia de Vapores and continued in Atlantic seaboard and Gulf of Mexico service. The ship was wrecked on Alacran Reef, Yucatan Peninsula, on Dec. 26, 1958, while traveling in ballast from Havana, Cuba, to Tampico, Mexico.

Skip Gillham


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.


Port Reports -  December 25

St. Marys River
By mid-day Thursday, vessels were on the move as winds began to die down. Manitoulin and Atlantic Huron were downbound and the Defiance/Ashtabula shifted from the West Center Pier, where they were waiting out the storm, to Essar. Jana Desgagnes, James R. Barker and Philip R. Clarke were at anchor in Maude Bay in the lower river, but left later as the weather moderated. Once unconfirmed report had a wind gust of 83 m.p.h. just after 3 a.m. Thursday at the Rock Cut. More typically, winds gusted into the 60 m.p.h. range and a cold front moved across the region.

Sarnia, Ont. – Denny Dushane
Algorail became the second vessel to arrive in Sarnia for 2015/16 winter lay-up. They arrived during the early to mid-afternoon Thursday and went into lay-up at the Sidney Smith Dock in Sarnia. The Algorail joins the Calumet, which arrived on Dec. 20 in the North Slip.

Toledo, Ohio – Jim Hoffman
As of 1 p.m. Thursday afternoon the Manistee was arriving at the Torco Dock in Toledo for winter layup. She is in the same slip as she has been for the past several years, where the American Valor is presently.


Santa joins J.W. Westcott crew for Christmas delivery

12/25 - Detroit, Mich. – Santa stepped in to help out with mail delivery on the Detroit River delivering mail and freight to the freighters on the Detroit River Christmas Eve aboard the U.S. Mail Boat J.W. Westcott II.

Santa helped deliver mail and a case of live lobsters for Christmas dinner to the Ken Boothe Sr. unloading at Zug Island. The lobsters came from a crewman's parents who live in Maine.

The unusually warm winter has left the river ice free, and freighters continue to move bulk cargoes late into the year.

The season is winding down for the J.W. Westcott Co. The Detroit company has been servicing freighters since 1874 ending their 142nd season.


Lookback #768 – Former Nigella wrecked off Spain on Dec. 25. 1967

The Swedish freighter Nigella was sailing under her fourth name when she first came through the Seaway in 1960. It made three inland voyages that year and two more in 1961 before continuing its career as a saltwater trader.

The vessel had been built at Elsinore, Denmark, and launched on Aug. 16. 1946. It was completed as a) Gro and also sailed as b) Olga S. and c) Olga Torm, all Danish flag, until becoming d) Nigella in 1960.

It later moved under West German registry as e) Julia C. Ertel in 1963 and to Liberia as f) Mary in 1967.

Mary had a cargo of bagged lentils on board when it stranded 25 miles north of Santa Catalina Point, Cueta, Spain, on Dec. 25, 1967. The ship was trading between Beirut, Lebanon, and Colombo, Ceylon, (Sri Lanka), and had been forced to take the long was around due to the Suez crisis. The former Seaway trader became a total loss on Christmas Day 48 years ago.

Skip Gillham


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.


Marquette, Great Lakes ore shipments down in 2015

12/24 - Marquette, Mich. – As iron ore shipments on the Great Lakes drop, fears are rising about the closure of the Empire Mine within the next year.

"Things are down in 2015," said Patricia Persico, director of global communications with Cliffs Natural Resources. "The high levels, basically historic levels of unfairly traded imports have impacted the domestic steel production."

Cliffs operates the Empire and Tilden mines in Marquette County.

Iron ore shipments out of Marquette's Upper Harbor for the month of November dropped by 37 percent compared to 2014, according to a trade organization representing 15 companies operating Great Lakes shipping vessels.

According to the Lake Carriers' Association, there were about 732,000 tons of iron ore shipped out of Marquette in November 2014, with last month's total at roughly 460,000 tons.

The average for the month was about 791,000 tons between 2010 and 2014.

"It's been a rough, brutal year and our customer demand is down," Persico said. "So we've adjusted our production accordingly, and we have a lot of inventory we're working off this year. ... Those temporary shutdowns are obviously impacting things and of course the steel imports are the main root cause here."

As Cliffs continues to face ongoing union negotiations and decreasing stock value, rumors have been circulating about the closure of the Empire Mine within the next year. Cliffs owns 79 percent of the Empire Mine, with the remaining share owned by ArcelorMittal, according to Cliff's 2014 annual report.

Persico said Cliffs has a partnership agreement in place that has extended the life of the mine through 2016, with a separate commercial agreement that calls for the life of the mine being planned through 2017.

"As things progress we'll make any updates as necessary related," Persico said. "Right now we're not speculating beyond that current agreement."

Meanwhile, shipments from Canadian seaway ports have gone up, totaling 710,000 tons in November, up 29.3 percent from 2014. Through November, the yearly total was about 6.58 million tons, also an increase of about 29 percent from last year.

The year-to-date totals through November for shipments out of Marquette had dropped by about 20.6 percent, from 6.66 million tons in 2014 to roughly 5.29 tons this year.

A similar downward trend was also seen throughout the Great Lakes, according to the association's report.

"Shipments of iron ore on the Great Lakes totaled 4.9 million tons in November, a decrease of 17 percent compared to a year ago," a news release from the association states. "Shipments were down 12 percent from the month's (five)-year average."

From January through November, iron ore shipments on the Great Lakes totaled 42.7 million tons, down from 47.9 million for the same period in 2014. The five-year total was reported at 47.1 million tons.

Persico said she wasn't sure how much ore was produced at the mines this year, but said production was likely lower than usual because of the idling that occurred at the Empire Mine.

"We had that idled from April through middle of October, so definitely our tonnage is off," she said.

Persico said Cliffs has idled two of its other mining operations, United Taconite and Northshore Mining, that are located north of Duluth.

According to the Lake Carriers' Association, iron ore shipments in November at Duluth's port were 223,000 tons, down nearly 75 percent from 2014.

Total shipments from Duluth through November of this year were 4.96 million tons, a drop of 36 percent from 2014's number, and down more than 2 million tons from the five-year average.

Mining Journal


Late-season freighter arrives at Port of Muskegon 3 days before Christmas

12/24 - Muskegon, Mich. – Unseasonably warm weather means there little to no ice on Lake Michigan. That worked out in favor of the Port of Muskegon on Tuesday, Dec. 22 when a large freighter made a late-season visit to the Mart Dock downtown. The 767-foot motor vessel Kaye E. Barker made port along the Lakeshore just after 9 a.m.

The freighter arrived with a load of limestone from Presque Isle, a cargo that almost never is shipped this late in the season.

"It's pretty late in the year for a limestone shipment," Port City Marine Services Capt. Edward Hogan said. "Most of the years, the dock is closed at this point, but Verplank was able to make arrangements on this load because the weather had been so nice. The stone docks were still able to operate."

For the rest of the story, and a photo gallery, click here


Obama's chief of staff hears Iron Range woes firsthand

12/24 - Duluth, Minn. – White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough got an earful Tuesday on the economic woes of the Iron Range, and about how the federal government must act fast to rescue the U.S. iron ore and steel industries and the communities that depend on them.

More than 50 people packed a meeting room at Mesabi Range Community and Technical College to send McDonough back to President Barack Obama's office with a message of urgency — that fast, decisive action is needed to stop what officials told him is a national "steel dumping crisis."

"The reason I'm here is because of the urgency the president has in this situation," said McDonough, a Minnesota native.

The chief of staff spent more than two hours with U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, Rep. Rick Nolan, Gov. Mark Dayton and state legislative leaders along with steel industry executives, Iron Range elected officials and laid-off steelworkers.

The meeting was closed to the public and media but several politicians and steelworkers talked to reporters after.

That includes Dan Hill of Hibbing, a millwright and one of 400 steelworkers who have been laid off from United Taconite since May because there is no demand for the plant's taconite pellets. Hill said he wants the industry salvaged not just for him, but for his seven-year-old son, Riley, who told his dad recently that he wants to be a miner when he grows up.

"I told him (McDonough) to make sure our kids have a future up here. That we're not the last generation of miners," said Hill, a member of USW Local 6860.

Hill said he tossed McDonough two of his union-logo shirts and told him to take one of them back for his boss in Washington.

Hill confessed that he hasn't been optimistic about the future of the Iron Range and iron mining, saying he couldn't see any light at the end of the tunnel for lost jobs to come back.

"But, after this meeting, I think the light has been re-lit," Hill said.

The federal government can help Minnesota's Iron Range, supporters say, by supporting the domestic steel industry that gobbles up Mesabi Range taconite iron ore. McDonough heard pleas for faster, tougher actions to keep unfairly traded foreign steel out of the country. Foreign steel is now making up nearly one-third of the steel used in the U.S.

Even veteran Minnesota politicians said they were moved by steelworkers and Iron Range mayors explaining the dire nature of the ongoing downturn.

"This was a moving meeting in so many ways, to hear from the workers and what they are going through," Klobuchar told reporters after the closed-door session. The senator and others said they told McDonough that the president must act not only to save the economic viability of iron ore and steel towns, but to prevent a national economic depression and to retain steelmaking for national defense.

"We've all seen the ups and downs of the mining industry before. But we have never seen anything like this," Klobuchar said. "We are sincerely concerned this is a systemic breakdown."

McDonough said the message was delivered clearly and with impact. And while he declined to discuss policy specifics, he said the issue is clearly on the president's agenda.

McDonough described the session as a "very informative analysis and statistic-based discussion that was also ... quite emotional" and said he would carry the sense of urgency back to the president.

That the Iron Range is hurting isn't in doubt. More than half of the region's major mining operations have shut down, with thousands of mine workers laid off, their families' financial future in doubt and mainstreet businesses pinched.

"This (downturn) is different and that is very frightening," Franken said.

A huge increase in the amount of iron ore mined in recent years has helped fuel a similar increase in steelmaking capacity in China and other nations, especially in Asia. That glut of ore also drastically dropped in price, making it cheaper to make steel overseas. But now China's economy has slowed and doesn't need as much steel.

Instead of shutting down their steel mills, the excess steel is heading to western markets, including the U.S. Critics say the steel is being sold at less than the cost of production, a violation of international trade laws.

"As important as it is for us (on the Iron Range) it goes way beyond. Way beyond," Nolan said.

Lourenco Goncalves, CEO of Cleveland-based Cliffs Natural Resources, said the U.S. Steel industry is in the "emergency room."

The overall U.S. economy "has been fixed. We have demand" for steel for bridges, cars and trucks and appliances. But too often that steel is coming from overseas "because of a crime being perpetrated on American soil by a foreign country ... China."

"We need action and we need action quick," Goncalves said. "We can't afford procrastination."

The Iron Range can survive as long as the domestic steel industry survives, supporters say. But the nation's largest steelmakers "are hemorrhaging cash every day," and won't last long in the face of unfair foreign trade, said state Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook.

If the nation's biggest blast furnaces go cold, Bakk said, the steel industry and the Iron Range may not be able to recover.

Nolan and other lawmakers have called on the federal government to outright ban all steel imports for five years, and Nolan has introduced legislation to that effect. Congress also included increased funding for illegal trade enforcement in its recent 2016 budget and ordered federal agencies to make enforcement a priority. The budget bill also orders the Environmental Protection Agency to use domestic steel only in its water projects nationwide.

"The president can look at banning imports ... but he's got other options. Enforcement is the key," Klobuchar said, noting Congress has given Obama more money and authority to enforce trade laws and tariff decisions. "We need to keep those ships from unloading that steel here."

Minnesota House Speaker Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, said the problem "is not partisan."

"This meeting was incredibly important for the long-term stability and sustainability of this industry here on the Iron Range," said Daudt. "It's a dire situation that has to be dealt with almost immediately."

Duluth News Tribune


Port Reports -  December 24

St. Marys River
Philip R. Clarke went to anchor in Maud Bay in the lower river Wednesday to wait for winds to die down. Algosteel put down the hook in the upper river above the locks. Wednesday morning saw the Kaye E. Barker tied for a few hours at the Carbide Dock where she participated in marine fire training exercises.

Stoneport, Mich. – Denny Dushane
Joseph H. Thompson arrived on an unusually warm Wednesday to load. They were just beginning to load at 7:10 p.m. and were giving an ETD of 3 a.m. on Thursday. Philip R. Clarke is also due to arrive at Stoneport, however they were anchored in the St. Marys River due to wind and weather at the time of this report. There are no vessels due at Stoneport on Thursday. For Christmas Day, two vessels are scheduled for arrivals in the late afternoon with the Great Republic and American Mariner both due to load. However, there will be no boat loadings at Stoneport Dock from 11 a.m. on Christmas Eve day until 11 a.m. on Saturday due to the Christmas holiday. There are no further vessel arrivals due in for Saturday. For Sunday due in the early morning is the Joseph H. Thompson. Due on Monday is the Cason J. Callaway in the early afternoon. Due in for Tuesday, December 29 in the early evening is the Great Republic. There are no vessels scheduled for Wednesday, December 30. Rounding out the schedule is the Great Republic on Thursday, December 31 in the early morning. The Republic will most likely be the final vessel to load for the calendar year 2015 at Stoneport.

Goderich, Ont.
Frontenac has arrived for winter layup.

Toledo, Ohio – Denny Dushane
Manitowoc is due to arrive at the Torco Dock in Toledo to unload a cargo of iron ore pellets on Thursday during the late evening, weather permitting. Also due at Torco is the CSL Laurentien on Sunday in the early evening. There is nothing due at the Midwest Terminal Stone Dock and it appears likely that this dock is now closed for the season with the Manitowoc delivering the last stone cargo there. Vessels due to load coal at the CSX Coal Dock include the Algosoo on Saturday in the early evening pending a partial first load in Sandusky. The Kaye E. Barker is due at CSX on Saturday during the late evening. Rounding out the CSX coal loading schedule will be the James L. Kuber, due in on Sunday in the early morning hours. All times are weather permitting and could change. Vessels that are in lay-up include the St. Clair at CSX #2 Dock and the 1,000-footer Walter J. McCarthy Jr. at the Midwest Terminal Overseas Dock. Near the Lakefront Docks and also the Frog Pond area is the barge Sarah Spencer along with the tug Jane Ann IV. The tug Olive L. Moore and barge Lewis J. Kuber are laid-up at the Torco Dock. The American Valor is in long-term lay-up near the Lakefront Docks and the Frog Pond area. The tanker Algoma Hansa is in drydock at the Ironhead Marine drydock. Vessels in port included the tug Michigan and barge Great Lakes. Cuyahoga was just finishing up unloading a grain cargo and was departing the Port of Toledo at the time of this report.


SS Badger in dry dock in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin shows good hull, good lines

12/24 - Sturgeon Bay, Wis. – You might think a 63-year-old ship would show its age, especially below the waterline. In the case of the SS Badger, you’d be wrong.

The Badger (and her now-unused sistership Spartan) were built to run 365 days a year back in the early 1950s — the days of real winter and real ice on Lake Michigan.

But if you can find a scratch on the 5/8-inch steel plating that lines the bottom of the ship, you’re a true detective with a very powerful magnifying glass.

The Badger’s underwater lines are as graceful as its above-water profile is recognizable. Great sheets of steel lap over each other to protect the 410-foot-long, 60-foot wide vessel’s hull.

Chief Engineer Chuck Cart noted that while other ships were built with half-inch steel or 7/16 steel, the Badger got the thickest stuff available.

Sitting in dry dock at the Bay Shipbuilding Company on Wednesday, the black behemoth showed very few signs of age below the water line as crews on ladders worked with welding equipment and grinders.

In a town and a shipyard that are used to seeing 1,000-foot ships, the Badger is something of a celebrity guest. The shipyard where it is being inspected is just yards away from the Christy Corporation shipyard where it was built.

LMC doesn't expect the SS Badger to return to Ludington until after Christmas at the earliest.

Ludington Daily News


Lookback #767 – The former Maria K. caught fire at Abidjan on Dec. 24, 1976

The ocean going Maria K. was a Great Lakes visitor in 1963. The ship had been built at Sunderland, England, and completed as a) Maria C. in September 1956. The 476 foot long freighter went to work under the flag of Liberia.

The name was changed to b) Maria K. following a sale to Greek interests in 1959 and they sent the vessel through the Seaway.

Another sale in 1967 retained Greek registry but now the vessel was known as c) Astyanax. The vessel had arrived at Abidjan, Ivory Coast with a cargo of cement when a fire broke out in the engine room on Dec. 24, 1976. The blaze of 39 years ago spread and left the ship heavily damaged.

The mix of water, to extinguish the fire, and the cargo of cement on board was not a good combination and the latter solidified leaving the ship a total loss. After being idle for almost a year, the rusting hull was towed eight miles out to sea south of Abidjan and scuttled on Nov. 18, 1977.

A second Maria K. was an SD-14 freighter and it also had ties to the Seaway and to Dec. 24. This ship was built in 1970 and came through the Seaway for the first time in 1976, the year the earlier Maria K. burned. Following a sale to Chinese shipbreakers as e) Errie Inge, this second Maria K. arrived at Huangpu, China, on Dec. 24, 1992, 16 years to the day the earlier Maria K. had caught fire at Abidjan.

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.


Norfolk Southern plans to consolidate coal docks in Ohio

12/23 - Norfolk, Va. – Norfolk Southern railroad is consolidating two of its coal docks in northern Ohio to cut costs while demand for the fuel remains weak.

The railroad said Tuesday it plans to idle its operations at Ashtabula, Ohio, and shift its Lake Erie coal loading to its Sandusky, Ohio, dock. This move is designed to make the railroad more efficient, but it didn't disclose how much it expects to save.

Norfolk Southern is under pressure to improve its operations because it wants to convince investors the railroad will fare better independently than it would in a proposed merger with Canadian Pacific.

About 35 jobs will be eliminated with the closure, but the Ashtabula dock won't close until next spring after all its coal is moved.

Associated Press


Port Reports -  December 23

Toledo, Ohio – Jim Hoffman
On Tuesday morning the Algoma Hansa entered the drydock at the Ironhead Shipyard.

Buffalo, N.Y. – Brian W.
Karen Andrie - Endeavor will be arriving for Tonawanda Wednesday around 6 a.m. American Mariner is headed in for General Mills around 6 p.m. English River was at Lafarge Tuesday morning.


Obituary: Richard “Dick” Bibby

12/23 - Duluth, Minn. – Richard D. Bibby, 93, passed away peacefully on Dec. 20 surrounded by family and friends. He was born in Pittsburgh, Pa., on June 3, 1922. He was a 1941 Central High School graduate (Detroit, Mich.), attended maritime school in New London Connecticut, and also attended Maritime Officer School at the Cathedral of Learning, University of Pittsburgh.

Mr. Bibby sailed the Great Lakes prior to World War II and during the war for the U.S. Maritime Administration as a Merchant Marine sailing the high seas. He was awarded a prestigious medal for his bravery and service to the citizens of Russia during convoys to Murmansk.

He had a long and successful 41-year-career with Hanna Mining Co. He served in many capacities for Hanna, including Fleet Personnel Manager, and retired in 1985 as a Vessel Agent. It was during this career that he transferred to Duluth, on Aug. 28, 1956.

On Dec. 16, 1966 he married Jean Trilling Hoch. They shared the love of the Lake, and spent many hours on the water boating and fishing for 34 for years prior to her passing in 2010.

Mr. Bibby was a charter member and very active in several marine historical societies. He was Historian of the Great Lakes Naval Association. He served on the International Shipmaster's Association, Past Commander of the Duluth Chapter U.S. Power Squadrons, and served as secretary for over 10 years with the Harbor Club.

In 1978, Mr. Bibby was honored by the Twin Port's maritime community by being named the "Marine Man of the Year."

He remained active and participated in many groups including the Maritime Waterfront Propeller Club, he was Past President of the Duluth-Superior Harbor Club, a member of the Sand Point Yacht Club and, for over 35 years, enjoyed attending ROMEO's (Retired Old Men Eating Out) every Friday at noon.

Service: 11 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 29, in Lakeside Presbyterian Church, 4430 McCulloch Street, Duluth, MN 55804. Visitation one hour prior to the service at 10 a.m. Memorials to Lakeside Presbyterian Church, or the Lake Superior Marine Museum Association.

Duluth News Tribune


Lookback #766 – Former A.B. Wolvin sank in Atlantic on Dec. 23, 1916

It was 99 years ago today that the former Great Lakes freighter A.B. Wolvin sank in the Atlantic. The ship was on a voyage from Havre, France, to New York when it went down southeast of Bermuda. The loss was believed to have been caused by a combination of a mechanical problem and a wild early winter gale. The Norwegian vessel Brazil was able to rescue all 26 sailors.

A.B. Wolvin had been built at Cleveland in 1900 and entered service at the end of August. The 255 foot long freighter joined the Pittsburgh Steamship Co. of U.S. Steel in 1901 and remained with them until sold to the Port Huron and Duluth Steamship Co. in 1909. It was renamed b) Portland in 1910 but was resold off lakes the next year seeing service along the Atlantic seaboard to South America and then to the Pacific northwest carrying freight or bulk grain.

Due to World War One the vessel returned to the Atlantic and loaded pulpwood at New York in May 1915 for Sweden, and London. It later traded between the U.S., England, France and the Azores before being lost on Dec. 23, 1916.

Skip Gillham


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.


U.S.-flag Great Lakes fleets investing more than $110 million in vessels in 2016

12/22 - Cleveland, Ohio – U.S.-flag vessel operators on the Great Lakes have committed more than $110 million to maintain and modernize their vessels in 2016. Maintenance and repair work typical of the winter lay-up period will cost approximately $60 million. Projects that involve repowering vessels or installing exhaust gas scrubbers will cost upwards of $50 million.

“This level of investment is a testimony to my members’ commitment to Great Lakes shipping,” said James H.I. Weakley, President of Lake Carriers’ Association, the trade association representing U.S.-flag vessel operators on the Lakes.

“The dumping of foreign steel into the U.S. market has severely impacted cargo movement during the final months of 2015. Six of the most efficient vessels in the fleet were withdrawn from service in November because of steel dumping. Still, my members are moving forward with projects that will keep their vessels safe and efficient and further reduce their already small carbon footprint.”

Great Lakes shipping is a 24/7 business. The vessels stop only long enough to load or discharge cargo. As a result, the winter lay-up is the prime time to tune up the vessels for the coming campaign. Massive power plants, some capable of generating nearly 20,000 horsepower, will be carefully serviced. The conveyor systems that are key to self-unloading vessels will be inspected and any worn belts replaced. Navigation, firefighting and lifesaving equipment will be checked over and replaced or upgraded as needed.

Several vessels will be dry-docked as required by law to allow U.S. Coast Guard and American Bureau of Shipping representatives to inspect the hull below the waterline.

Two U.S.-flag steamships, the John G. Munson and the Herbert C. Jackson, will be repowered with state-of-the-art diesel engines. Both vessels have been in service on the lakes since the 1950s. The Lakes freshwater environment allows vessel operators to continually reinvest in their vessels rather than bear the expense of new builds. A U.S. Maritime Administration report has noted that repowering a Great Lakes freighter typically achieves 80 percent of the efficiencies of a new build at 20 percent of the cost.

In addition to these repowerings, the James R. Barker and Lee A. Trugurtha will be fitted with exhaust gas scrubbers.

The major shipyards on the Lakes are located in Sturgeon Bay, Superior and Marinette, Wisconsin; Erie, Pennsylvania; and Toledo, Ohio. Smaller “top-side” repair operations are located in Cleveland, Ohio; Escanaba, Michigan; Buffalo, New York; and several cities in Michigan. The industry’s annual payroll for its 2,700 employees approaches $125 million and it is estimated that a wintering vessel generates an additional $800,000 in economic activity in the community in which it is moored.

Lake Carriers’ Association


Interlake Steamship Co.’s last steamship arrives at Fraser Shipyards for repowering

12/22 - Middleburg Heights, Ohio - The Herbert C. Jackson made its final journey as a steamship this month when it sailed into Fraser Shipyards in Superior, Wis., where it will undergo a six-month conversion to a highly automated diesel propulsion system.

As the last steam-powered ship in Interlake Steamship Company’s fleet, the Jackson is the fifth ship to undergo a major overhaul and its fourth steam-to-diesel conversion since 2006. This conversion represents the final phase of the company’s 10-year, $100 million modernization effort to create the most efficient, reliable and environmentally friendly fleet on the Great Lakes.

Regularly carrying almost 25,000 tons of iron ore between Marquette and Detroit, Mich., the 690-foot Jackson was powered by an aging steam turbine and two boilers, which have operated since the ship was built in 1959. Maintenance burdens and new emission requirements fueled Interlake’s decision to repower the ship.

“We have a long-term vision for this industry and made the decision 10 years ago to invest in new technology that will allow us to reduce our carbon footprint and environmental impact while increasing our reliability for our customers,” says Interlake President Mark W. Barker.

Following a significant capital investment at its Superior, Wis., shipyard, Fraser was selected by Interlake to carry out the re-engineering – a large-scale, multifaceted project.

“From a shipping company’s perspective, it’s important to have multiple facilities, such as Fraser Shipyards, that can handle complex projects like this,” Barker says. “Fraser has invested considerably in its infrastructure and its people to do a project of this size. Given the increased activity at all yards across the Great Lakes, we felt Fraser has proven its ability to do this repower.”

The entire Fraser Team is looking forward to successfully completing the repowering project, says James Farkas, president and COO of Fraser Shipyards.

] “We are honored to have been selected for this project,” Farkas says. “Our team is very excited and so is our surrounding community to have the Herbert C. Jackson here in our shipyard and to be a part of such a transformation.”

This is the first major repowering for Fraser since the mid-1980s, says Tom Curelli, vice president of engineering, environmental services and governmental affairs for the 125-year-old shipyard.

“This is a huge step forward for our shipyard and what we hope is the first of many large projects,” Curelli says. “We have added almost 2,000 feet of new dockage and completely upgraded the electrical in the yard. In addition to our normal winter work during lay-up, we’ll have between 65 and 75 people dedicated full time to this repowering project.”

The Jackson’s new 6,250-BHP propulsion package includes a pair of MaK 6M 32E engines – the first of their kind to power a vessel on the Great Lakes – which will give the ship enhanced propulsion capabilities and reliability.

In addition, the ship will receive a twin-input, single-output Lufkin gear box with twin pto shaft generators, a Schottel controllable-pitch propeller system and Gesab exhaust gas economizers along with an auxiliary boiler. The economizers allow the ship to harness the waste heat and energy from the main engine exhaust and produce “free steam” to heat the accommodations and for heating various auxiliary systems and fuel oil services.

In total, the repowering is estimated to reduce the ship’s emissions of particulate matter by 35%, carbon dioxide by 57% and sulfur oxides (SOx) by 63%.

“Not only are these engines extremely efficient, they are dual fuel capable thus could be modified to be fueled by LNG if the supply chain infrastructure for supplying LNG is built out around the Great Lakes,” Barker says. “By choosing these engines, we have the enhanced capability to further lower our environmental footprint in the future.”

After a successful round of sea trials, the Jackson is expected to resume her Great Lakes trade routes by late-June.

Interlake Steamship Co.


Port Reports -  December 22

Sarnia, Ont. – Angie Williams
Calumet went into layup in the Sarnia North Slip Sunday at 8 p.m.


Lookback #765 – Canadian Provider hit the Redpath Sugar dock on Dec. 22, 2004

It was supposed to be a routine end to the 2004 shipping season for the Canadian Provider of the ULS Corp. fleet. The ship had a storage cargo of sugar for unloading at the Redpath Dock in Toronto when the vessel struck hard, damaging both the ship and the dock.

The vessel received bow repairs at Toronto in 2005 and was towed to Hamilton on May 20 and laid up. The ship spent the year there but was towed to Port Weller Dry Docks for a refit and survey on April 10, 2006, and was soon back at work in the Seaway bulk trades.

Canadian Provider was built at Collingwood as Hull 177 and completed in July 1963 as a) Murray Bay (ii). It served Canada Steamship Lines mainly hauling tons of iron ore and grain for company customers. Murray Bay last sailed for C.S.L. in Dec. 1993 and was idle at Montreal when it was acquired by Upper Lakes Shipping in 1994. It resumed trading as b) Canadian Provider in October 1994 and carried on in this fleet until acquired by Algoma in 2011.

Renamed c) Algoma Provider at Toronto, the ship was back up the Welland Canal for the first time in their colors on Oct. 18, 2011. It served Algoma briefly, until tying up at Montreal for the last time in December 2012.

Following a sale to Turkish shipbreakers, the vessel departed for overseas under tow with the abbreviated name of d) Ovi on June 9, 2013, and was beached at Aliaga on July 12, 2013, for scrapping.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  December 22

Lay-up list updated
New Video on our YouTube Channel


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.


Feds slap huge steel tariffs on Brazil, China, India and Russia

12/21 - The U.S. Department of Commerce is slapping countervailing tariffs on cold-rolled steel from Brazil, China, India and Russia.

The federal agency found China and other countries had been subsidizing their steelmakers by as much as 227 percent, allowing companies such as Angang Group Hong Kong Co. and Benxi Iron and Steel to sell steel here for less than what unsubsidized American steelmakers can.

"Our government's investigation of cold rolled steel imports is a small step toward the immediate action America's steel industry needs against the continued job stealing by foreign government illegal subsidization and the resulting steel flooding into our markets," United Steel Workers President Leo Gerard said.

"State-owned steel companies in China have grossly expanded steel production capacity to stratospheric, uncontrolled levels that are wrecking American steelworkers' jobs and the communities where they live. We now have thousands of layoffs at the iron ore mines in Minnesota plus the steel mills in Granite City, Ill., Birmingham, Ala., and Northern Indiana as families enter the year-end holiday season."

ArcelorMittal, AK Steel, U.S. Steel, Nucor Corp. and Fort Wayne-based Steel Dynamics requested tariffs back in July. The countries they target exported nearly $900 million worth of steel to the United States last year.

In a preliminary determination, the Commerce Department decided to place 227 percent tariffs on all cold-rolled products from China, to offset the high subsidies those companies receive. Duties of 7.42 percent will be placed on Brazilian steelmakers, while steel producers in Indian and Russia will face tariffs of 4.45 percent and 6.33 percent respectively.

Those rates are meant to offset, or countervail, subsidies that governments in those countries give to their steelmakers.

Foreign steelmakers will have a chance to rebut the case made against them in a hearing before the Commerce Department reaches a final decision.

"AK Steel is pleased that the Commerce Department has made a preliminary ruling that certain imports of cold-rolled steel are being unfairly subsidized," AK Steel President and CEO James Wainscott said.

"The domestic steel industry continues to suffer devastating injury caused by dumped and subsidized imports. Today's preliminary ruling is yet another important step in stopping the flood of these unfairly traded imports."

Imports have captured a record 30 percent of the market share for the U.S. consumption of steel. Steelmakers have idled mills, laid off thousands of workers nationwide and attempted to slash health care benefits.

"Tens-of-thousands of American steelworkers should know their jobs and the industry will get some protection from this preliminary duty order from our government to level the playing field for steel sold in our market," USW Vice President Tim Conway said.

"We especially appreciate the Commerce Department's naming several mandatory foreign respondent companies in China as big violators of our trade laws."

The Commerce Department will next decide on anti-dumping duties of up to 320.45 percent for those four countries, and also South Korea, Japan and the United Kingdom. A decision is expected by Feb. 23.

NW Indiana Times


Fire chief: Alpena call was 'difficult'

12/21 - Door County, Wis. – The leader of one of the all-volunteer fire departments that provided men and equipment when a fire erupted on a ship at Bay Shipbuilding Co. in Sturgeon Bay said “it was a difficult call.”

“Almost our entire team was (inside the ship) multiple times,”Brussels-Union-Gardner (BUG) Fire Chief Curt Vandertie told his department's fire board this week. “We had a dozen firefighters respond to that call.”

A total of 85 firefighters fought the fire Dec. 11 aboard the Alpena self-unloading freighter.

“It was a very serious fire. Every department in Door County was dispatched,” Vandertie said. “It was a unique situation, simply from the scope and size of the fire we were dealing with, Many of our firefighters had not encountered anything like that before.”

However, the chief said, “It went well. By the time we cleaned up and got back (to the BUG stations), it was about a seven-hour call.

At a debriefing meeting this week, Vandertie said, “we all talked about how there was a little bit of fear in every one of us.

“To be very honest, I was praying once we got on scene,” Vandertie said, “hoping to God that none of us got hurt. I prayed that everyone would be safe and that, God forbid, something happened to me, that He would take care of my family.

“It was so hot, when we were on our hands and knees, we could feel the heat coming through our (insulated) gear,” the chief said.

Gardner Town Chairman and fire board member Jon Koch – a retired Door County Sheriff's Deputy – said he had been involved in training sessions aboard ships docked at Bay Ship during his career.

“Those are very dark and scary places,” Koch said.

He noted intergovernmental agreements Door County communities had enacted in the past two years came into play during the Alpena emergency. “Our mutual aid system works and all of our firefighters are back safely.”

Koch told the firefighters who participated in the fire, “I just wanted to say thank you.”

The Alpena was built in 1942, so there was a major concern about the potential for asbestos contamination, the fire chief said.

“Bay Ship was fantastic,” Vandertie said. “I can’t say enough about their staff. We went through their decontamination procedure. We had to take off our turnout gear. Bay Ship bagged every set of turnout gear. Then we had to move to a different area and take off our civilian clothes. Also had those bagged.

“They had showers for us where we could shower off with soap and water. And then they provided us with Tyvek suits, and that’s how we (went) back to our stations.”

Vandertie said of the call and cooperation among firefighters from throughout the county, “It was an eye opener for us.”

Green Bay Press Gazette


Port Reports -  December 21

Alpena, Mich. – Ben & Chanda McClain
The Great Republic unloaded coal at Lafarge on Thursday. On Friday the Kaye E. Barker was anchored out in the bay, likely due to the winds. It remained at anchor on Saturday as well until heading to Stoneport on Sunday. The Calumet arrived off Alpena on Saturday afternoon, and anchored for a while before going into Lafarge. Once the Calumet tied up at Lafarge it unloaded a cargo of coal. The tug William C. Gaynor has been tied up in the river for a week.


Steelworkers slugging through tough times

12/21 - Nanticoke, Ont. – The quest to find a buyer for the U.S. Steel Canada plant in Nanticoke is in a holding pattern. In recent months, Bill Ferguson of Jarvis, president of Local 8782, has heard from “tire kickers, dreamers and legitimate players.”

However, market conditions in North America at the moment are not conducive to a deal. Local 8782 wants the domestic market to improve before it makes any commitments. For that to happen, the union will need an assist from the federal government.

“We do have buyers and people who are interested in the plant,” Ferguson said Friday. “The problem is the market is at its lowest. If there were fair trade in steel, we’d be miles ahead of where we are now. Everyone is dumping in North America right now, and that’s not sustainable.”

Canada Border Services Agency and the Canadian International Trade Tribunal are acting on complaints that foreign steel is being sold in North America below its cost of production.

Ferguson noted that orders for steel plate at Algoma Steel in Sault Ste. Marie have picked up considerably since CBSA issued a finding of dumping and unfair subsidization of production against steelmakers in India and Russia. Like U.S. Steel Canada, Algoma is re-organizing its finances under bankruptcy protection. Ferguson suspects business would really pick up in Nanticoke if a similar finding were made in the areas of hot-rolled and galvanized-coated steel.

“We were hoping that recovery would come sooner rather than later,” Ferguson said. “We thought we’d be further ahead by now, but the market is murder.”

As the primary creditor in the bankruptcy proceeding involving U.S. Steel Canada, Local 8782 is in charge of disposing of the assets in Nanticoke. The bankruptcy court in Toronto recently ruled that parent company U.S. Steel of Pittsburgh, Penn., is off the hook for retiree benefits. U.S. Steel will be free of its obligations to the Local 8782 pension fund on Jan. 1.

The 670 retirees this impacts will continue to receive pension checks in the new year. Local 8782 will see to this by drawing on in-house reserves. The plan is to right the ship and continue forward under new management before depletion becomes an issue.

As for pension benefits, the Ontario government agreed this week to provide interim funding of $3 million. That has not been officially announced and will not take effect until the judge presiding over U.S. Steel Canada’s bankruptcy proceeding approves it. That’s expected to happen before the end of the month.

Righting the ship, Ferguson says, will require decisive action from the federal government, and soon.

Ferguson pointed out that North American manufacturers buy about 100 million tonnes of steel a year. Meanwhile, China is producing 700 million tonnes a year, most of it earmarked for export. North American steel that sells for about $650 a tonne at home is up against Chinese steel that retails for $290 a tonne.

Local 8782 and other steelmakers claim China is producing and selling this steel unfairly. Tariffs, Ferguson said, are needed to level the playing field.

“We’re all united that we have to do something about the trade issue,” he said. “That’s what’s holding us up. There has to be the political will to do something. Just opening our borders and inviting people to dump their product is costing us jobs.”

As it stands, the Nanticoke plant is seeing signs of a turnaround. Ferguson reports capacity has increased in recent weeks, spurred by an encouraging increase in contracts.

Nanticoke’s ace in the hole is the high quality of the low-carbon, rust-resistant steel it makes. Ferguson says manufacturers of high-end products such as trucks and automobiles cannot source steel of this quality from producers in developing economies.

“We are the quality producer,” he said. “We make the highest grade steel you can get.”

Simcoe Reformer


Hollyhock buoy run a family affair

12/21 - Port Huron, Mich. – A group of children held on tightly to the railing above deck on the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Hollyhock Sunday morning, bracing for the vessel to tilt. They were among the 111 people on board – 40-some crew and others friends and family – watching a large buoy being hoisted out of the water near the entry of the St. Clair River.

Though the waters at the southern end of Lake Huron were calm that day, the boat rocked slightly as a large crane and crews maneuvered the 13,000-pound buoy on deck.

“That can flip us!” one of the youths told his peers.

It was the first of three “summer” buoys swapped for much smaller buoys throughout the day as part of an end of seasonal runs. But with visitors more than doubling the cutter’s population, this run was just a bit different.

Commanding Officer Justin Kimura said the Hollyhock tries to bring family and friends on board for the final buoy run annually because it’s an opportunity to bring them together close to the holidays and it closes out the crews’ operational year.

“I think the kids enjoy it because it’s cool to be on a ship, see the buttons and look out the windows and see what we do,” he said. “I think from a practical standpoint it helps the families understand what we do and why we’re gone from home.”

The 225-foot Hollyhock is programmed to be away for 185 days each year. Its busiest times are during fall buoy runs, during the winter when they’re on call to break ice and in the spring, when summer buoys are put back in the water.

Kimura said roughly 1,200 buoys are brought out of the water throughout the region this time of year, and it’s the Coast Guard’s biggest seasonal buoy operation.

Dan Valenti, a junior-grade lieutenant on board, said the Hollyhock typically picks up about 80 buoys itself by the year’s end, but Sunday’s three were the final of well more than 100 this year because they lent a hand to the 140-foot Bristol Bay in Detroit.

“Summer buoys are targeted for the season when you have higher vessel traffic and they show up better on radar, but the downside is they don’t do well in the ice,” Kimura said.

So in the winter, he said they look at the buoy system and decide which ones they can just pull out of the water and which others they should replace with smaller buoys if they’re at a crucial navigation point.

Port Huron Times Herald


Lookback #764 – Douala lost on Gulf of St. Lawrence on Dec. 21, 1963

The French freighter Douala, operating for the Fabre Line, was a month late from its planned departure from Eastern Canada. Various delays along the route put the ship in a dangerous situation of battling a major winter storm.

The 354 foot long freighter was on the last leg of its voyage from Montreal to Bordeaux, France, carrying freight and grain, when it encountered a massive storm on the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The captain tried to put into the island of St. Pierre for shelter on Dec. 19 but had to turn back due to the heavy seas.

Waves as high as 75 feet tore loose some hatch covers and the influx of water caused the part cargo of grain to expand. Realizing their ship was doomed, a lifeboat was launched and five sailors perished when their craft overturned.

The rescue ships Sir Humphrey Gilbert and Taverner assisted, and somehow 18 sailors were removed from the ship, although one of those later succumbed. Douala foundered 35 miles southeast of Burgeo, Nfld., 52 years ago today and the death toll for the tragedy was 11.

Douala was built at Bremen, West Germany, and completed in February 1957. It was initially registered in Nicaragua as Guatemala. The ship was sold and renamed Douala in 1960 and made a total of eight Seaway voyages in 1961, 1962 and 1963 before being lost.

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.


Port Reports -  December 20

Toledo, Ohio – Jim Hoffman
On Saturday morning the tanker Algoma Hansa arrived at the former Interlake Iron Company Dock at Toledo, Ohio. She will be going in to the drydock at Ironhead Shipyard early next week.


Lookback #763 – Carita drifted ashore off Nova Scotia on Dec. 20, 1975, and was wrecked

The remains of Carita are scattered over the rocks of Money Point on the shore of Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. The ship lost power 40 years ago today and broke up as a total loss.

The 335 foot long general cargo carrier was built at Abo, Finland, and entered service as a) Ingrid Gorthon in 1966. The vessel operated under the flag of Sweden and then continued after being sold and renamed b) Carita on September 2, 1975.

Carita made its only trip into the Great Lakes that fall and loaded oats and peas at Thunder Bay in early December for delivery to Port au Spain, Trinidad.

The vessel lost power on Dec. 18 and before help could arrive Carita drifted ashore at Money Point, Cape Breton Island. The crew was able to get off safely but their vessel was doomed and soon smashed into four pieces. The relentless pounding eventually broke the ship up even further but until at least few years ago a section of the hull was still visible along that remote stretch of shoreline.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  December 20

Saltie Gallery updated with pictures of the Anet, Avonborg, Chem Polaris, Garganey, Greenwing, Ida, Lisanna, Martigny, Narew, Nordana Mathilde, Thorco Alliance, Thorco China, Trudy and Volgaborg.


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.


Fire chief: Age of vessel was a factor in Alpena fire

12/19 - Sturgeon Bay, Wis. – It appears that investigators have a good idea what caused a fire in the 519-foot cargo vessel Alpena at Bay Shipbuilding in Sturgeon Bay last Friday. The ship sustained significant damage below deck near the aft portion. Sturgeon Bay Fire Chief Tim Herlache said it will be awhile before a definitive answer is available, but the initial indicators point to one factor – the age of the vessel.

“We can’t release a whole lot of things because we are awaiting some final results and some decisions from the insurance company,” Herlache said, “however I can say the fire was not caused by any human error at all on the part of Bayship or the owner itself or its crew. This is a 1942 vessel and things break down, things wear out (and) at this time it appears to be an accidental fire.

“The ship has been turned back over to the ship owners, who are working very closely and in cooperation with Bayship to get this whole matter not only resolved as far as who is ultimately going to be responsible for the cost of repairs but to get this vessel repaired as soon as possible and get this vessel back out on the water doing what it is supposed to do.”

Chief Herlache said he is thankful that no one was killed or seriously injured in the boat fire. He’s also grateful that a coordinated effort involving multiple fire departments was able to deal with a difficult fire fighting operation in a quick and efficient manner.



Herbert C. Jackson’s new engines arrive at shipyard

12/19 - Superior, Wis. – Two giant ship engines arrived at the Fraser Shipyards Thursday morning. The 85,000-pound engines have been on a long journey this week, coming to Superior from Milwaukee. Kivi Trucking performed several rout surveys ahead of time to make sure the routes were clear of overhead obstruction.

"We have an internal staff that handles all the permits, takes care of setting up escorts, communicates with drivers to make sure they have all the proper documents for travel. Once we get the green light to go ahead, it's all in our hands," Tyler Kivi with Kivi Trucking said.

Fraser crew members will put the engines in the Interlake Steamship fleet’s Herbert C. Jackson this winter.

According to an Interlake press release earlier this summer, the 6,250-BHP propulsion package will include a pair of MaK – six-cylinder M32E engines which will give the ship enhanced propulsion capabilities and reliability. In addition, the repowered Jackson will receive a twin-input, single-output Lufkin gear box with twin pto shaft generators, a Schottel controllable-pitch propeller system and Gesab exhaust gas economizers along with an auxiliary boiler.



BBC Maple Lea freed from Seaway grounding

12/19 - A German-flagged heavy-lift cargo ship is now free after running aground Thursday on Lake Saint-Louis, Quebec near Montreal.

The 12,700 DWT motor vessel BBC Maple Lea ran aground Thursday morning at about 8 a.m. local time on the St. Lawrence Seaway in the vicinity of St. Nicholas Island in Châteauguay. The Transportation Safety Board of Canada says it deployed a team of investigators to determine the circumstances of the grounding.

AIS data from MarineTraffic showed that the vessel was freed with help of the Groupe Ocean tugs Ocean Ross Gaudreault and Ocean Georgie Bain at 12:30 p.m. local time on Friday.

A statement released Thursday from the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake said it appeared that ship’s front bow thruster hydraulic system was damaged in the grounding and the ship was leaking “droplets” hydraulic oil, although the situation posed little to no risk.

The vessel is said to be carrying a cargo of scrap metal. The BBC Maple Lea was built in 2007. It is owned by Auerbach Schifffahrt and chartered by BBC Chartering.

gCaptain, Joe Delaronde, Ron Beaupre


Obituary: Captain Alan F. Gintz

12/19 - Captain Alan F. Gintz, 62, of Ft. Myers, Florida, passed away of natural causes in his home on Dec. 8. A native of New Philadelphia, Ohio, he was a 1975 graduate of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, New York. During his career on the Great Lakes that spanned over 30 years, he sailed as captain for Bethlehem Steel Corporation, Oglebay-Norton Company, and American Steamship Company, retiring in 2009. His most recent command was the M/V American Century, (ex-Columbia Star) which was under his command for the final 12 years of his career. He also served as captain aboard vessels such as Sparrows Point, Burns Harbor, Middletown, and Earl W. Oglebay.

A service celebrating Alan’s life will be held in the Linn-Hert-Geib Funeral Home & Crematory at New Philadelphia on Monday, December 21 beginning at 11 am with visitation from 9:30 to 11 prior to the service. Pastors Jeff Gerber and Jill Lovett will officiate his service. Burial will follow in East Avenue Cemetery at New Philadelphia.

In lieu of flowers, friends may donate to their favorite charity in Alan’s name.

John Sarns


Obituary: Captain Martin L. Rowe

12/19 - Martin L. Rowe, 101, of Fort Myers passed away Sunday, November 29. He was born August 5, 1914 in Baltimore, Md., to Martin and Alice Rowe. Martin was a captain on the Great Lakes freighters working for U.S. Steel. After 41 years, he retired as master of the Leon Fraser in 1973. He was a member of the Araba Shrine in Fort Myers, the Fort Myers Beach Kiwanis and the Cypress Lake Congregational Church.


Lookback #762 – Federal Pioneer departed Honolulu for scrapyard on Dec. 19, 1970

The second Federal Pioneer visited the Great Lakes from 1959 through 1962 and made a total of 16 inland voyages in that period.

The 441 foot, 6 inch long vessel was built at Montreal by United Shipyards and completed for the Canadian Ministry of Munitions and Supply on Sept. 28, 1944. It was named Outremont Park and was part of the Park Steamship Co. of the Canadian Government during World War Two.

This North Sands general cargo carrier was sold to private interests and renamed b) Brazilian Prince in 1946. On two occasions in 1948, the ship was idle first at Boston and then at Halifax due to sand in the engine. There was a shortage of crew due to a labor dispute and the problem was considered sabotage.

In 1958, the ship joined Federal Commerce & Navigation (today's Fednav) as c) Federal Pioneer and began regular trading through the newly opened Seaway. A fire in the crew quarters at Section 51 in Montreal on June 13, 1959, was soon brought under control and only delayed sailing by three hours.

Federal Pioneer spent many summers trading to the Canadian Arctic and, by 1968, was the last Fort/Park ocean going ship still in Canadian registry.

Following a sale to Chinese shipbreakers, the vessel headed across the Pacific for dismantling. After a stop at Honolulu, Hawaii, the ship set out on the last leg of the voyage 45 years ago today departing the beautiful Pacific island Dec. 19, 1970, for Hsinkiang, China. Federal Pioneer steamed into the latter location on Jan. 21, 1971, for dismantling.

Skip Gillham


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.


TSB deploys a team to the grounding of a BBC Maple Lea on Lake Saint-Louis

12/18 - The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) is deploying a team of investigators to the grounding of the cargo ship BBC Maple Lea on Lake Saint-Louis, Que., on Thursday. The TSB will gather information and assess the occurrence. The vessel is carrying a cargo of scrap metal.

The ship’s front bow thruster hydraulic system was damaged in the grounding and was leaking hydraulic oil in droplet quantities. However, Environment Canada has assessed the situation as little to no risk. Regardless, an emergency response company, SIMEC, is on-site and have deployed preliminary and secondary booms to catch any contaminants.

The Canadian Coast Guard will deploy a helicopter Friday to monitor the area while the ship is being moved.

CBC, Joe Delaronde


Bon voyage! Cornelia finally slated to leave for Atlantic

12/18 - Duluth, Minn. – An agreement reached with the U.S. Coast Guard will allow a languishing foreign freighter to finally leave Duluth. After six weeks of detainment offshore from Duluth, the Cornelia is set to sail today, authorities announced Thursday.

“We have reached an agreement and the vessel is making preparations to depart Duluth,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Christopher Yaw of the Cleveland-based 9th District of the U.S. Coast Guard. Yaw declined to give specifics of the agreement or any further details about the weeks-long investigation into what officials earlier said were “violations related to the discharge of oily water.”

Stephen Sydow, a Duluth-based vessel agent for his family’s Daniel’s Shipping Services, confirmed with the News Tribune that the oceangoing freighter is slated to depart sometime before noon today.

Until moving to dock in Superior Bay on Thursday to refuel and take on supplies, the Cornelia had been offshore from Duluth for six weeks, having been brought to anchor by the Coast Guard’s Marine Safety Unit in Duluth shortly after loading a shipment of grain bound for ports on the Mediterranean Sea.

The investigation “for alleged violations of U.S. environmental regulations” brought in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Minnesota and tied up operations for multiple entities on multiple continents — including the Sydows’ business, an overseas flour mill, a Canadian vessel manager, the ship’s German operator and more. The full cargo of grain has been said to be worth millions of dollars.

The News Tribune was first to report the investigation on Nov. 6.

It’s not been reported where the alleged discharge occurred, though the Coast Guard did say it does not appear to have happened in the Twin Ports. Multiple sources have maintained throughout the Cornelia’s detainment that the alleged incident could have happened months ago on waters outside of the Great Lakes.

MST, the ship’s German-based operator, has said it was waiting for the ship’s owners in Bremen, Germany, to make a decision after it had been approached by the Coast Guard with a security agreement that would allow the ship to sail but maintain the integrity of the investigation. Negotiations dragged for weeks, forcing the ship and its crew to languish offshore from Duluth.

Foreign vessels are allowed some discharge of oily water but are required to keep accurate records of it. The Coast Guard told the News Tribune earlier this week that inconsistent recordkeeping by a ship’s chief engineer could result in an expanded examination of a ship’s actions across time and sea passages.

Pastor Douglas Paulson of the local Seafarers Center met with the crew Thursday morning as the Cornelia docked at the Duluth Seaway Port Authority’s Clure Public Marine Terminal. The crew was busy, prepping for departure — cleaning the septic system, refueling and more, he said.

“I visited with several of them,” Paulson said. “They all looked good; they were all in good spirits. I feel like they held up well, but they’re anxious to be on their way. It’s been a long time.”

Paulson took a shopping list of food items the sailors asked for — much of which could be purchased from a Holiday: Doritos, candy bars, soda and other snacks. Paulson also brought aboard a Wi-Fi hotspot so the sailors would be better able to contact their families.

The crew is made up of a diverse mixture of nationalities, hailing from Czech Republic, Ukraine, Croatia and Philippines. Until Thursday its members had been aboard the ship throughout the ordeal, last touching ground while the ship was docked at the CHS terminal in Superior in early November.

“There are a lot of things that have to happen so they can be ready to go tomorrow,” Paulson said Thursday, “but they’re ready to sail.”

The 575-foot Cornelia had been faced with a rough deadline of today to depart Duluth. After that, it would risk not reaching the Welland Canal between lakes Erie and Ontario by the time it closes for the season on Dec. 26.

Oceangoing vessels then need to exit the last set of locks in Montreal before the St. Lawrence Seaway System closes on Dec. 30. The Cornelia is scheduled to leave Duluth on the same day as the Federal Bering — both carrying grain, and one or the other the added distinction of being the last saltie out of Duluth in 2015.

Duluth News Tribune


Superior is one of the more rapidly warming lakes, study finds

12/18 - Minneapolis, Minn. – Dozens of researchers pooled decades’ worth of data from hundreds of lakes and concluded that the world’s lakes are warming even more rapidly than the oceans or the atmosphere. The warmer waters threaten fish populations, ecosystems and fresh water supplies around the globe.

Closer to home, University of Minnesota Duluth Professor Jay Austin says the thick sheets of ice that blanketed Lake Superior for the past two winters did nothing to change the fact that Superior, like the other Great Lakes, is growing ever warmer.

“Lake Superior is one of the more rapidly warming lakes” among the 235 lakes in the study, Austin said. A two-degree temperature shift can mean the difference between an iced-over Superior or an ice-free lake, he said. “Relatively small changes can lead to large changes in systems that define our region. Duluth would be a fundamentally different place if Lake Superior never formed ice.”

The study, which was funded by NASA and the National Science Foundation, found that lakes have been warming by more than half a degree per decade. That might not sound like much, but when lakes warm up, toxic clouds of algae can bloom, fish habitats can be disrupted and invasive species currently held at bay by Superior’s inhospitable cold might be able to make themselves at home.

The lake study is the first of its kind to use both satellite temperature data and long-term ground measurements. More than 60 researchers surveyed more than 200 lakes that hold more than half the planet’s freshwater supply, using data that stretched back at least 25 years. Their findings were announced Wednesday at the American Geophysical Union in Washington, D.C.

“These results suggest that large changes in our lakes are not only unavoidable, but are probably already happening,” the study’s lead author, Catherine O’Reilly, an associate professor of geology at Illinois State University, said in a statement. O’Reilly’s research found that as lakes warm, their productivity declines.

The world’s lakes are warming faster than the oceans or the atmosphere, Austin said. Unlike air temperatures, which can fluctuate wildly from day to day or even hourly, lake temperatures are stable, making them ideal systems for measuring climate change. It takes a significant shift to change the temperature of a lake — much as it takes as much energy to heat a pot of water on the stove as it does to heat an entire room.

“Obviously, Lake Superior is going to stay cold for a very long time,” Austin said. “But these lakes provide a sort of ‘climate antenna’ that allows us to look at these global trends.”

The current rate of lake warming — an average of 0.61 degrees per decade — carries the risk of a 20 percent increase in algae blooms, which deplete oxygen in the water and can be toxic to fish.

The lakes seem to be warming faster in northern climates like Minnesota, where lakes are losing their ice cover earlier.

In 2007, Austin and his colleagues found that the average summer water temperature on Lake Superior had risen more than 4 degrees since 1979.

“We have documented, since 1970, a significant reduction in the ice on Lake Superior,” despite the past two winters, when the ice was so thick that tourists could trek across the lake to gawk at the Apostle Islands ice caves along the Wisconsin shore. “It sounds a little bit hollow, after the last two winters when we had quite a bit of ice. … I’m not suggesting that we won’t see ice on Lake Superior again, but we are going to see more years like 2012 when we had no ice.”

Minneapolis Star Tribune


Port Reports -  December 18

Marquette, Mich. – Rod Burdick
Due to gale warnings on Lake Superior, Tim S. Dool spent Thursday on the hook off the Lower Harbor.

Sturgeon Bay, Wis.
Although there has been no official word, sandblasting and painting on the hull of the Alpena at Bay Shipbuilding is leading waterfront waters to believe the veteran steamer will be repaired after her recent fire damage. No reason for the stern-end fire last Friday night has been released. John G. Munson arrived for winter layup and diesel conversion on Thursday afternoon.

Toledo, Ohio – Jim Hoffman
Algosea departed Ironhead Marine drydock on Wednesday and was headed to Sarnia, Ont.

Port Weller, Ont.
The tanker Algosar has entered the drydock at Port Weller, Ont. Since the vessel has widely been believed headed for scrap, the reason for the drydocking is up for speculation.


Work on Argo wreck completed

12/18 - Cleveland, Ohio – Crews have officially completed work on the sunken Lake Erie barge thought to be the long-lost Argo. The U.S. Coast Guard announced Thursday that crews left the site – about nine nautical miles northeast of Kelleys Island – on Monday.

Crews removed about 33,000 gallons of water mixed with toxic chemical from the barge. It is no longer considered an environmental threat, the Coast Guard said.

The Argo was considered the shipwreck with the greatest potential threat to the Great Lakes.

Before the barge's discovery in August, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration named the Argo the shipwreck with the greatest potential environmental threat to the Great Lakes. The ship went down in a storm in 1937 with an estimated 200,000 gallons of oil and chemicals onboard.

Crews found hazardous chemicals in two of the barge's eight sealed cargo holds. There are no plans to remove the barge from the bottom of the lake, the Coast Guard said.


Scientists predict huge Lake Erie algae blooms

12/18 - Toledo, Ohio – The effects of global climate change will trigger enormous algae blooms in Lake Erie, even if the amount of algae-producing pollution being dumped into the lake is drastically reduced, according to a new report.

Scientists at the American Geophysical Union's annual conference in San Francisco are releasing a report today that predicts huge algal growth in Lake Erie for decades, even if the region's policymakers are able to achieve their goal of a 40 percent reduction in farm fertilizers and other nutrients going into the water over the next 10 years.

Under one climate model, Lake Erie's number of severe blooms "will likely double over the next 100 years," according to their statement.

The findings are being released on a heels of a global accord in Paris among nearly 200 countries to collectively reduce greenhouse gases that have strongly contributed to climate change.

The Republican-controlled U.S. Congress has fought off efforts to pass climate legislation for years. That prompted the Obama administration to develop a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency program called the Clean Power Plan, which imposes unprecedented limits on coal-fired power plants, the largest source of those emissions. That plan is being challenged by conservative lawmakers and utility lobbyists.

During today's news conference, scientists are discussing global implications of climate change on algae across the world, including China's Lake Taihu, which battles toxins similar to those in Lake Erie nearly year-round and provides drinking water to millions of Chinese.

While scientists wholeheartedly endorse efforts to reduce nutrient discharges on a global scale, they are issuing a stern warning that government agencies cannot rely too heavily on historical records when establishing guidelines because of how quickly Earth's climate is changing.

They are expected to say a 40 percent reduction in nutrient releases may not be enough.

They also are expected to say nutrient reductions alone won't stop algae from forming and possibly overwhelming water-treatment systems, like it did with Toledo's in 2014, when the metro region's nearly 500,000 consumers had to find alternate sources of water the first weekend of August.

The American Geophysical Union is a major scientific nonprofit group of geophysicists, with 62,000 members in 144 countries

Toledo Blade


Lookback #761 – F.A. Meyer sank in Lake Erie on Dec. 18, 1909

The wooden bulk carrier F.A. Meyer was lost 106-years ago today. The vessel was carrying lumber from Boyne City, Mich. to Buffalo, N.Y. when the hull was punctured by ice on Dec. 18, 1909.

The ship was crossing Lake Erie and was off Erieau, Ont., when it was lost. All on board were rescued by the steamer Mapleton before the ship went down in 78 feet of water. The hull was later found intact and upright on the bottom about 22 miles east of Southeast Shoal.

F.A. Meyer was built at Wyandotte, Mich., and launched as J. Emory Owen on May 14, 1888. It was sold to the Strong Transportation Co. in 1905, shortened for use in the canal system and put to work in the lumber and coal trades as F.A. Meyer. It operated successfully in this work until it became a casualty of an early freeze on Dec. 18, 1909.

Skip Gillham


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.


Cornelia to dock, refuel

12/17 - The oceangoing freighter Cornelia appears to be preparing for its ultimate departure after six weeks of detainment offshore from Duluth.

The German-owned vessel sailed into the Clure Public Marine Terminal to refuel and take on provisions Wednesday afternoon, said Duluth Seaway Port Authority spokeswoman Adele Yorde.

The vessel will dock overnight, Yorde said, while also confirming a pilot has been assigned to the ship. Foreign vessels are required to have on board a U.S. or Canadian pilot to help them navigate the shipping channels through the Great Lakes.

The 9th District of the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Attorney's Office has been investigating the ship for "violations related to the discharge of oily water."

Petty Officer 3rd Class Christopher Yaw of the 9th District of the U.S. Coast Guard said he could not yet confirm if the Cornelia was preparing for a departure from Duluth.

"I can tell you they are coming in to get fuel and pump off wastewater," Yaw said.

The ship took on a full load of grain bound for ports in the Mediterranean Sea during the first week of November at the CHS terminal in Superior before being brought to anchor outside Duluth, where it has remained since Nov. 5.

The 575-foot Cornelia has been faced with a rough deadline of Friday to depart Duluth. After that, it would risk not making the closing of the Welland Canal between lakes Erie and Ontario by the time it closes for the season on Dec. 26.

Oceangoing vessels then need to exit the last set of locks in Montreal before the St. Lawrence Seaway System closes on Dec. 30.

The United States Coast Guard said earlier this month it has been negotiating a security agreement that would permit the vessel to leave port while maintaining the integrity of its investigation into the ship. MST, the ship's German operator, has said a decision is in the hands of the ship's owners in Bremen, Germany.

The crew — a diverse mixture of nationalities, hailing from Czech Republic, Ukraine, Croatia and Philippines — has been aboard the ship throughout the ordeal, last touching ground while the ship was docked in the Superior Bay.

Duluth News Tribune


Last saltie of season calls on Duluth

12/17 - Duluth, Minn. – Not counting the woebegone foreign vessel Cornelia that’s been detained offshore from Duluth for six weeks, the last saltie to call on the port of Duluth-Superior this shipping season docked late Monday — several hours later than anticipated.

After dropping anchor in a sheltered area off the Apostle Islands about 60 miles from Duluth to wait out high northeasterly winds that were approaching 50 mph, the Federal Bering pulled into the CHS terminal in Superior an hour before midnight.

The Bering will take on a split load of grains — 21,000 metric tons of wheat and canola — before departing midweek out the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway System for Mexico. The system closes Dec. 30.

“It’s an interesting shipment because it will be going into the Gulf of Mexico and Mexico,” said spokesman Marc Gagnon of Fednav, the Canadian owners of the ship. “This proves that you can be more efficient exporting through the port of Duluth even to Mexico than to take barges down the Mississippi (River) or rail or something else.”

The Federal Bering is part of a brand-new Canadian-flagged type of vessel Fednav calls its B-class for all six ships starting with the letter B, including the Biscay — the first ship transiting the Great Lakes with a ballast water treatment system.

The B-class ships were delivered to Fednav from Japan’s Oshima Shipbuilding Co. from May through October this year. A six-vessel C-class will follow in 2016.

“They’re 12 identical ships,” Gagnon said, describing the sleek 656-foot ships the company calls “oceangoing lakers” for having roughly 78-foot beams built specifically for locks along the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway System.

The ships also are characterized for having box-shaped holds as opposed to holds that conform to the shape of the hull.

“They’re perfect for what we bring in,” Gagnon said, describing incoming general cargoes — “mostly steel,” he said — followed by outgoing grains that generally are ticketed for the Mediterranean.

Through November, the grain market on the Great Lakes is up sharply over 2014 — 310,000 tons to 191,500 tons at the same time a year ago and about 35,000 tons over the five-year average of roughly 274,400 tons.

“From our perspective — and I cannot give the perspective of the farmer whether it’s Canadian or U.S. — it’s been pretty good,” Gagnon said. “Typically our backhaul — we come in with general cargo — is we get out with grain for export.”

While the Federal Bering’s outgoing load of grain represents a solid year for the commodity, numbers from the Lake Carriers’ Association released this week continue to show a decline in iron ore.

So far in 2015, about 37 million tons of iron ore have been shipped throughout the Great Lakes — below the five-year average of about 40 million tons and off the 2014 year-to-date number of 40.2 million tons.

Duluth News Tribune


Last ship of the year set to arrive at Port of Milwaukee on Wednesday, December 16th

12/17 - Milwaukee, Wis. — International cargo continued moving at a strong pace through the Port of Milwaukee in 2015, and Wednesday, December 16th will bring the last ship arriving through the St. Lawrence Seaway to Milwaukee this year. The Federal Hunter is set to unload 3,500 tons of steel products – raw material used by local manufacturers.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett will visit the Port Wednesday morning to talk about the successful shipping season and to highlight the role the Port plays to support local manufacturing and employment.

“The Port of Milwaukee is a city transportation asset that adds efficiency and value to our local economy,” Mayor Barrett said. “When local companies operate cost-effectively, they employ more workers, and, in turn, our community is stronger.”

Since 1996, Federal Marine Terminals has served as the Port of Milwaukee’s general cargo stevedore, and this year will rank as the seventh highest overseas cargo volume during that tenure.

Forty-seven international ships called on the Port of Milwaukee in 2015. The Federal Hunter is the last ocean vessel of the season to arrive here. It will depart via the St. Lawrence Seaway before that route closes for the season on December 31st.

The Port remains open through the winter as ships carry cargo such as salt, limestone and cement to and from other Great Lakes ports. Milwaukee will also host several ships that will spend the winter in the Port’s well-protected Inner Harbor.

Fox 6 Now


Port Reports -  December 17

Buffalo, N.Y. – Brian W.
The Rebecca Lynn - A-397 should be arriving for Tonawanda Wednesday around 9:30 p.m.

Oswego, N.Y. – Ned Goebricher
On Wednesday the English River unloaded cement.


Rand Logistics Inc. stock rating upgraded

12/17 - Rand Logistics Inc. was upgraded by Zacks Investment Research from a “hold” rating to a “buy” rating in a research note issued last Thursday, according to Analyst Ratings.Net.

The brokerage currently has a $2.25 price objective on the stock. Zacks Investment Research‘s target price indicates a potential upside of 13.07 percent from the stock’s previous close.

According to Zacks, “Rand Logistics Inc. is a leading provider of bulk freight shipping services throughout the Great Lakes region.”

Shares of Rand Logistics traded up 1.51 percent on Thursday, reaching $2.02. 6,766 shares of the company were exchanged. The company’s market capitalization is $36.74 million. The stock has a 50-day moving average of $2.16 and a 200-day moving average of $2.63. Rand Logistics has a 52-week low of $1.93 and a 52-week high of $4.17.

Rand Logistics last posted its quarterly earnings results on Thursday, November 5th. The company reported $0.58 earnings per share for the quarter, beating analysts’ consensus estimates of $0.23 by $0.35. On average, analysts predict that Rand Logistics will post $0.04 EPS for the current fiscal year.

Dakota Financial News


Whatever happened to that Chicago to Michigan lake ferry plan?

12/17 - Grand Rapids, Mich. – Back in 2002, a Michigan businessman attempted to resurrect a historic idea: Ferry service between Chicago and destinations along Michigan's coastline. Unfortunately, the plan never floated.

Douglas Callaghan of Grand Rapids had once hoped to very ferry passengers between St. Joseph, Waukegan, Ill. and the Windy City in a 108-foot catamaran called the Voyager III for about $30 round-trip.

So, whatever happened to that?

More of the story, and a photo at this link


Help Wanted: The Great Lakes Towing Co. and Great Lakes Shipyard

12/17 - The Great Lakes Towing Co., owner and operator of the largest fleet of ship docking tugboats on the U.S. Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Seaway, and Great Lakes Shipyard, a leading full-service ship repair and construction operation, has announced plans to hire 50 employees before the end of the first quarter of 2016.

Shipyard positions include: Shipyard Welders & Pipe Fitters, Naval Architects, Project Engineers, Quality Managers, Outside Machinists, Mechanics, Diesel Mechanics, Marine Electricians, Steel Foreman and Paint Foreman. Towing positions include: Tug Captains, Tug Engineers and Senior Port Engineers.

Interested candidates can submit their resume and/or application to: Email:
Fax: 216-781-7472; or by mail, Attn: Human Resources Department, The Great Lakes Group, 4500 Division Ave., Cleveland, OH 44102

The Great Lakes Towing Co.


Lookback #760 – Former Good Hope wrecked off Alaska on Dec. 17, 1964

It was 51 years ago that the bulk carrier San Patrick was went aground in a blizzard off the Aleutian Islands, Alaska. The former T-2 tanker had been a Great Lakes trader as c) Good Hope.

The ship had been built at Mobile, Ala., and launched on June 29, 1944. The 523 foot, 6 inch long vessel was completed as White Bird Canyon and joined the U.S. Maritime Commission on July 28. It was managed during the war by the American Petroleum Transport Co. but reverted to the War Shipping Administration in Sept. 1946.

The French Government purchased the vessel in 1948 and it saw service into 1962 as b) Gonfreville and likely brought supplies of crude oil back to the home country.

In 1962, the vessel was sold to the Victor Shipping Co. and registered in Liberia as c) Good Hope. As such, the tanker made three trips through the Seaway that year but was sold again in 1964 and rebuilt at Kobe, Japan, as the bulk carrier d) San Patrick.

San Patrick sent out a distress signal while on a voyage from Vancouver, B.C., to Yokohama, Japan, on Dec. 17, 1964. On board was a cargo of wheat as well as cattle feed and, while the call for help was heard, the ship could not be located by either a nearby Japanese ship or aircraft from the U.S. Navy or U.S. Coast Guard.

The smashed and battered hull was located days later at Ulak Island, Point Hasgoz, Amchitka Pass, Aleutian Islands. The amidships house had disappeared, the aft superstructure had collapsed and the hull was broken in two. All 32 sailors on board perished and only one body was located. A line extended to shore was found but there were no survivors.

Skip Gillham


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.


U.S.-flag lakers’ cargo down 15 percent in November

12/16 - Cleveland, Ohio – U.S.-flag Great Lakes freighters carried 7.9 million tons of cargo in November, a decrease of 15 percent compared to both a year ago and the month’s long-term average.

Iron ore cargos decreased 22 percent in November compared to a year ago. Coal cargos fell 16 percent. Limestone loadings dipped 5 percent.

Year-to-date U.S.-flag cargos total 79.8 million tons, a decrease of 1 percent compared to the same point in 2014, and a drop of 3 percent compared to the long-term average for the January-November timeframe. Iron ore cargos have decreased 8 percent compared to a year ago. Coal shipments are up 4 percent. Limestone loadings have increased 8 percent.


Midwest Energy Resources ships 500 millionth ton of coal

12/16 - Superior, Wis. – Midwest Energy Resources Company (MERC) transshipped its 500 millionth ton of coal on Monday, Dec. 14, 2015, with the loading of Interlake Steamship Co.’s Paul R. Tregurtha for the DTE Electric Company. MERC, which began operations in 1976, transshipped its 100 millionth ton of U.S. western low-sulfur coal in 1991, 200 millionth ton in 1998, 300 millionth ton in 2004 and 400 millionth in 2009.

“The 500 millionth ton transshipped on Dec. 14 represents another significant MERC milestone along with the loading and transshipment of our 10,000th vessel, American Steamship Company’s American Century on Monday, November 9, 2015,” said MERC President Fred Shusterich.

He credits the achievement of these transshipment milestones to the hard work and dedication put forth by all MERC employees throughout the years and looks forward to MERC’s attainment of its 600 millionth ton transshipped in the not to distant future.

MERC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the DTE Electric Company, owns and operates the largest capacity coal transshipment facility on the Great Lakes and presently transships more coal than all of the other Great Lakes coal dock facilities combined.

Midwest Energy Resources Co.


Port Reports -  December 16

Lorain, Ohio – Phil Leon
Saginaw backed out of the harbor at 9:50 a.m. Tuesday.

Lackawanna, N.Y. – Brian W.
Algolake departed around 3:30 p.m. Tuesday.


Cornelia deadline looms this week

12/16 - Duluth, Minn. – For the oceangoing freighter Cornelia, Monday marked 40 days of detainment offshore from Duluth. But it’s not the days behind it that matter most now.

For its cargo to reach its destination at ports along the Mediterranean Sea, the German-owned vessel would need to meet a rough deadline of Friday to depart Duluth. After that, it would risk not making the closing of the Welland Canal between lakes Erie and Ontario by the time it closes for the season on Dec. 26.

Oceangoing vessels then need to exit the last set of locks in Montreal before the St. Lawrence Seaway System closes on Dec. 30.

“A decision has to be forthcoming,” said Adele Yorde, spokeswoman for the Duluth Seaway Port Authority. “It’s getting down to the wire. We’d all like a simple answer, but I don’t think there’s going to be one.”

The United States Coast Guard said earlier this month it has been negotiating a security agreement that would permit the vessel to leave port while maintaining the integrity of its investigation into the ship. MST, the ship’s German operator, has said a decision is in the hands of the ship’s owners in Bremen, Germany. MST has not responded to the News Tribune’s most recent attempts to reach them.

“It’s very frustrating for us to see and it’s frustrating for the owner of the cargo, which we serve,” said spokesman Marc Gagnon of Fednav, a Canadian ship owner and operator. “If it was our ship we wouldn’t be in this situation.”

While Fednav operates its own fleet of ships, it was only handling the Cornelia’s grain cargo for a flour mill operator overseas. The mill operator, Gagnon explained, chartered the Liberian-flagged ship in a practice that is common.

“You hope for the best,” Gagnon said. “It’s the nature of shipping. The owner of the vessel is always the last one responsible in this case.”

Before it was held at anchor outside Duluth, the Cornelia received a full load of grain during the first week of November at the CHS dock in Superior. The cargo has been reported to be worth millions of dollars.

Meanwhile, the reason for the ship’s detainment by the Coast Guard — “violations related to the discharge of oily water,” it said in a news release earlier this month — is among the oldest regulations in the international maritime industry.

Following a spate of tanker accidents in the mid-1970s, the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships adopted a series of regulations that went into effect in 1983. Among the first measures it adopted covered “the prevention of pollution by oil from operational measures as well as from accidental discharges,” said the International Maritime Organization on its website.

Careful not to speak about the Cornelia specifically in what has been a tight-lipped investigation, Lt. Patrick Lammersen of the Coast Guard’s Marine Safety Unit in Duluth spoke to the News Tribune on Monday about oily water discharge — what it is and how it’s generally handled.

“Ships generate oily wastewater in a number of different ways,” Lammersen said. “It’s not like your car engine. When a ship leaks oil, it’s supposed to; it’s OK.”

In addition to a ship’s main engines, there are generators, air compressors and a host of small engines — any and all of which can seep oil through gaskets and require oil changes that produce dirty oil requiring disposal.

The waste oil ultimately enters into bilge tanks — the lowest collection tanks on a ship and into which propulsion systems drain. The waste oil can be disposed of in a couple of ways, Lammersen explained. A ship can retain the oily water until it’s able to offload it at port to a reception rig or facility, in the same manner a ship discharges its sewage. A ship can also use an oily water separator that processes the waste on board the ship. The oil is taken out of the water until the water is clear enough — 15 parts per million, said Lammersen — to discharge into specified passages of water in a seaway.

With the use of an oily water separator, Lammersen said a vessel can go from having 1,000 gallons of oily water to 400 gallons of sludge, clearing extra room in the bilge tanks. Some ships even carry incinerators approved to burn their oily sludge — a process that’s also regulated. Oily water disposal is logged in an oily record book, which accounts for the length of time the separator is run, the amount of oily water through the system and the corresponding location of the discharge. Oily record books are kept by the chief engineer on board the ship.

Oily record books are checked as part of the port state control program, in which the Coast Guard checks foreign vessels at what Lammersen called “certain intervals” throughout their interactions with U.S. ports.

“You could find something wrong that way,” Lammersen said of studying an oily record book. “If we find inconsistencies we’ll do what we call an expanded exam. For oily water, if there’s an issue when we look at discharge that’s when we’d start digging into it.”

Duluth News Tribune


Lookback #759 – D.G. Kerr sank en route to Spain on Dec. 16, 1980

The retired bulk carrier D.G. Kerr (ii) formerly of the United States Steel fleet, was lost 35 years ago today. The vessel had shown a reluctance to head overseas for scrapping and balked on several occasions.

D.G. Kerr operated until tying up at Duluth on Oct. 5, 1975. It was towed to Superior on April 14, 1976, and, in 1980, sold for overseas scrapping.

On Sept. 23, 1980, the tug Tusker pulled the laker away from the dock but, while exiting the harbor, the ship struck the north pier with its port bow and sustained hull damage.

D.G. Kerr was cleared to continue the voyage and came down the Welland Canal Sept. 30 with Tusker assisted by Glenada and James E. McGrath but the laker went aground near Port Robinson.

Refloated, the tow was delayed in Lock 5 due to a dispute between the captain and the towmaster, but that was settled and D.G. Kerr reached Sydney, N.S., in early October. There, on Nov. 19, 1980, the moored ship broke loose in a fall storm and was blown aground in the harbor. It was released Nov. 21.

The tug Federal 6 later took D.G. Kerr in tow for Spain only to have it break loose in the Atlantic off Santa Maria Island, eastern Azores, during a storm. The vessel began taking water and sank Dec. 16, 1980, before it could be recovered.

D.G. Kerr was built at Lorain and launched on May, 6, 1916. The 600 foot long bulk carrier had a generally uneventful career for U.S. Steel compared to the drama of its extended final voyage of 35 years ago.

Skip Gillham


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.


Marine sanctuary possible for Lake Superior

12/15 - The possibility of naming a Lake Superior National Marine Sanctuary in western Lake Superior is the topic of this month's Iron County Citizen's Forum. Ellen Brody, Great Lakes Regional Coordinator for the National Oceanographic and Atmosheric Administration, or NOAA, will be featured speaker.

Forum spokesperson Terry Daulton says the designation is eyed mainly for Chequamegon Bay near Ashland but the designation could extend east to Iron County. She says this potentially would be the first sanctuary in Lake Superior.

She said the purpose of the meeting is to provide information and additional research dollars to an area and services to visitors who might be interested in visiting the sanctuary. “Things like tourism, information, a visitor's center kind of function..."

She says the sanctuaries support coastal communities, economies and marine ecosystems. She says underwater resources like shipwrecks and archeological sites and underwater habitats are protected. The sanctuary also functions as a key research area.

Daulton says only one of NOAA's 14 designated sanctuaries is located in the Great Lakes. Governor Walker has submitted a nomination for a sanctuary in Lake Michigan. The Iron County Citizen's Forum is set for Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at the Iron County Courthouse in Hurley. More information is available at 715-476-3530.



Coast Guard: Lake Michigan still dangerously cold

12/15 - Chicago, Ill. – The U.S. Coast Guard has a warning for people along Lake Michigan: While the weather may be unseasonably warm, the water is still dangerously cold.

Mike Baron is a recreational boating safety specialist for the coast guard. He says: “Warm air temperatures can create a false sense of security for boaters.”

Baron says water temperatures in Lake Michigan are hovering around 40 degrees. He also notes that cool water drains body heat as much as 25 faster than cool air, and survival time is diminished greatly when someone is in water that’s below 70 degrees.

Baron says boaters should dress for the water temperature, not the air temperature.

The coast guard also recommends boaters wear a dry suit to increase chances of surviving a fall into the lake.



Cliffs Natural Resources loses billions in bargain sell-off of Bloom Lake assets

12/15 - The Bloom Lake iron ore mine in Quebec shows just how much value is being destroyed in the commodity meltdown.

Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. acquired the mine as part of a $4.3-billion (U.S.) takeover of Consolidated Thompson Iron Mines Ltd. in 2011 when iron-ore prices topped $190 a metric ton. Last Friday, a unit of Champion Iron Ltd. agreed to buy it and other assets for $10.5-million (Canadian) and $42.8-million (Canadian) in liabilities as iron ore falls below $40.

In January, Cliffs suspended Bloom Lake production and sought creditor protection for an operation that as recently as 2013 was considered a critical part of the Cleveland-based company’s strategy to boost exports and mitigate its dependence on U.S. customers. The mine employed about 600 people when it was operational.

The sale follows announcements this week from Anglo American PLC and Freeport McMoRan Inc. of deepening cutbacks as producers grapple to preserve cash amid the lowest metals prices in six years.

“Those are three very strong indicators that we are now in a point of severe distress for the industry,” Garrett Nelson, a Richmond, Va.-based analyst at BB&T Capital Markets, said by telephone Friday.

Cliffs was founded as the Cleveland Iron Mining Co. in 1846 to produce the commodity, which had just been discovered in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. While the company has also sold timber, uranium, copper and oil in its history, it divested non-iron-ore assets during economic slumps, according to business historian Hoover’s Inc.

The company expanded with coal mines and a chromite resource and in 2011 bought Thompson to expand in Eastern Canada. The ill-timed foray cost former CEO Joseph Carrabba his position. His successor, Gary Halverson, was ousted after six months when activist Casablanca Capital installed Lourenco Goncalves after a successful proxy battle.

Mr. Goncalves has vowed to return the company to profitability by selling iron ore mined domestically to North American steelmakers. He placed coal mines and overseas assets up for sale, while putting Canadian assets including Bloom Lake and its Wabush assets into court-supervised debt restructuring.

Iron ore has plunged 46 per cent this year as consumption in China, the biggest consumer of the steelmaking raw material, has slowed while miners from Australia to Brazil have boosted output.

Ore with 62 per cent content delivered to Qingdao dropped 4.3 per cent this week, falling to $38.30 a dry metric ton on Friday, a record low in daily prices compiled by Metal Bulletin Ltd. going back to May, 2009.

Champion also announced fundraising including a share offering to raise up to $25-million for the acquisition and working capital. The company anticipates being able to cut costs and increase output with a new mine plan.

“This buyer got a tremendous deal on this asset,” Mr. Nelson said. “They probably bought it for less than liquidation value. They were paying for the mine and rail assets and got the iron ore for free.”

Globe & Mail


Lookback #758 – Blue Lagoon hit the upper approach wall at Iroquois on Dec. 15, 1996

After 35 years of trading, the former Seaway trader Blue Lagoon arrived at the scrapyard in Aliaga, Turkey, on June 28, 2014. Considering its troubles on the Great Lakes, I am surprised it lasted that long.

This vessel was built at Porto Alegre, Brazil, and completed as Saronic in 1979. It first sailed under the flag of Brazil but was sold and renamed Merchant Patriot, Bermudan registry, in 1985.

By the time it came through the Seaway in 1996, it was operating under a fifth name of Blue Lagoon and, after later registry in Italy and Egypt, it was now under the flag of Panama.

The 417 foot, 9 inch long Blue Lagoon was carrying steel from the Black Sea port of Tuapse, Russia, to Detroit when it entered the Seaway on Nov. 7, 1996. It suffered engine failure along the way and when the ship arrived at Detroit, it came in under tow.

Officials also cited the vessel for a variety of violations including no proper sewage holding, no working refrigeration and oil in the bilges. In addition, the crew staged a strike and refused to work.

These problems were sufficiently overcome to allow Blue Lagoon to head back to the Atlantic with a cargo of scrap metal but on Dec. 15, 19 years ago today, it hit the upper approach wall to the Iroquois Lock with such force that a hole was punched in the steel hull. The leaking ship was temporarily patched and allowed to get underway again.

Then, in May 1997, Blue Lagoon was back on the Great Lakes but was ordered to anchor at Hamilton. An investigation found that the cargo of steel coils were damaged and this resulted in a $13 million lawsuit.

The vessel was sold again and registered in Belize as Guney Em and then in 2009 in the Comoros Islands as Almortada. This proved to be the final name and the one carried when it reached the scrapyard in 2014.

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.


Port Reports -  December 14

Marquette, Mich. – Rod Burdick
On a soggy Sunday at the Lower Harbor Shiras Dock, American Mariner unloaded western coal from Superior.

Oswego, N.Y. – Ned Goebricher
Sunday morning the tug Vigilant 1 and barge Weeks 239 departed for the Seaway.

Buffalo, N.Y. – Brian W.
The Stephen B. Roman was inbound for the Genesee River in Rochester, N.Y. on her way up to Essroc Cement at 8 a.m. Sunday.


Charlevoix-based passenger vessel Keweenaw Star sold

12/14 - A message from Keweenaw Excursions indicates they have sold their 98-foot-long passenger vessel Keweenaw Star, built in 1981 and used most recently for lighthouse and sunset cruises out of Charlevoix, Mich. Indications are she will be leaving the lakes for possible use in the British Virgin Islands.


Grains drive export/import swap at Burns Harbor

12/14 - Portage, Ind. – For the first time in "many months," exports at the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor through the St. Lawrence Seaway exceeded imports. Port Director Rick Heimann says grains and other bulk products heading to Canada helped drive an increase.

In September, officials with the Ports of Indiana and the state detailed an "intensifying" collaboration with shipping partners in the Province of Québec. Efforts are aimed at boosting economic development among the ports and their stakeholders.

Heimann says "Québec is a key trading partner for us because that region serves as a gateway to the Great Lakes in a similar way that our port serves as a gateway to the U.S. Midwest and the extensive inland waterway system. Grain from Midwestern farms can be shipped on Great Lakes vessels from our port to Québec and loaded onto larger ocean vessels for trans-Atlantic shipments. Developing these types of regional partnerships is vital to realizing the full potential of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway System."

The Great Lakes Seaway Partnership says cargo shipments along the St. Lawrence Seaway, which connects northwest Indiana and Québec, were down nearly 11 percent through the current season, compared to the same period a year earlier. A bright spot has been U.S. grain shipments, which were up by 11 percent last month over last year.

Inside Indiana Business


Great Lakes Bay Regional Alliance supports Saginaw River Deep Water Port Study

12/14 - Midland, Mich. – The Great Lakes Bay Regional Alliance has announced its support of the Saginaw River Deep Water Port Study.

The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers is currently conducting a feasibility study to determine if improvements for commercial navigation are possible in the Saginaw River. The nature of the study is to evaluate the deepening of the shipping channel as it pertains to the economic benefit of the Great Lakes Bay Region and the nation.

“The Great Lakes Bay Region is incredibly fortunate to have direct access to the Great Lakes, St. Lawrence Seaway and the Atlantic Ocean,” said Matthew Felan, president and CEO of the Great Lakes Bay Regional Alliance. “The economic impact of the Saginaw River has yet to be fully realized. We want to collaborate with regional partners in agriculture, construction, manufacturing and other sectors to help fully realize the potential of this unique and extraordinarily important infrastructure asset.”

In 2013, the Saginaw County Board of Commissioners authorized an agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to conduct a study to thoroughly examine the potential economic impact of deepening the Saginaw River to enable increased shipping, create greater efficiency become more cost effective and result in higher and more diverse use.

“The Great Lakes Bay Region is uniquely positioned to transport goods via highway, rail, air and water,” said Felan. “The Great Lakes Bay Region offers a clear competitive advantage over similar sized communities across the country with our access to such a diverse transportation and infrastructure network. Now it’s time to fully utilize our network to have an enhanced global economic impact.”

Midland Daily News


Lookback #757 – Second Island Skipper in collision near Beauharnois on Dec. 14, 1997

Two ships have been Seaway traders under the name Island Skipper. The first made a single trip inland in 1962 while the second was in a collision near Beauharnois 18 years ago today.

The Greek-flag freighter met up with Canadian Explorer on Dec. 14, 1997, and received a hole in the hull from the collision and also from striking the bullnose at the lock. It was the second inland voyage of the year for the Greek freighter, and the damage was soon repaired.

Island Skipper dated from 1984 and was first registered in Liberia. It began Great Lakes trading in 1987 and came through the Seaway for ports such as Cleveland, Thorold, Detroit, Hamilton and Windsor. It carried a variety of cargoes including steel and chemical fertilizer.

The 584 foot, 8 inch long bulk carrier last came through the Seaway on Oct. 31, 2010, and has remained on saltwater ever since. It was sold and registered in Sierra Leone as b) Skippers Y. in 2014.

Last month the vessel was on the Black Sea, off Odessa, Ukraine, carrying what was called agricultural commodities.

The original Island Skipper to travel the Seaway was broken in China in the fall of 1992.

Canadian Explorer damaged bow plates and vents and tied up at Hamilton two days later. The stern was removed in 1998 and joined to Hamilton Transfer to become Canadian Transfer. The bow saw some service as Barge Laviolette and headed south for work as a spoils carrier in the Panama Canal in 2008.

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.


Cause of Alpena fire remains unknown

12/13 - Sturgeon Bay, Wis. – The cause of the Friday night fire aboard a vessel docked at Bay Shipbuilding Co. in Sturgeon Bay is unknown.

The Sturgeon Bay Fire Department was paged about a fire in the shipyard at 5:43 p.m. The Alpena, a 519-foot self-unloader built in 1942, arrived at the shipyard Dec. 5. It is dry-docked in the shipyard to undergo regular maintenance.

Sturgeon Bay Fire Chief Tim Herlache and Assistant Fire Chief Tim Dietman met Saturday with representatives of Bay Ship and Andrie Inc., the owners of the Alpena, to go through the area damaged by the fire.

What caused the blaze that prompted the Sturgeon Bay Fire Department to call in mutual aid from six additional Door County fire stations is unknown. “We don’t believe anything intentional,” Dietman said.

It will now be up to Andrie Inc. and its insurance company to decide if the ship can be repaired.

The most extensive damage was found near the electrical control area, the steering gear room, and a storage room/paint locker, Dietman said. All these areas are located near the stern of the ship. The dining room and the galley sustained “excessive damage” and the ship’s stateroom area was “gutted,” he said.

It is not believed that “hot work” done by Bay Ship employees Friday caused the fire, he said.

“The area of the gray water tank where Bay Ship was doing hot work does not appear to have any direct relation to the incident,” he said. Hot work can include welding or cutting metal. The gray water tanks are used for the ship’s sinks and showers. Dietman does not know what kind of hot work was being done Friday.

Later in the evening four people, two firefighters and two Bay Ship employees, were transferred to the hospital. The employees were treated for smoke inhalation, and a Southern Door firefighter and a Sturgeon Bay firefighter were treated for extreme dehydration. “I believe all four were released last night,” Dietman said.

Both Herlache and Dietman likened the Alpena on fire to an “oven.”

“Our firefighters were met right away with excessive, excessive heat,” Dietman said.Spraying water on the ship’s hot steel did not help immediately. The water hitting the hot steel created steam. The heat of the fire went through the protective gear, burning firefighters’ knees and going through their gloves, Dietman said.

The heat also limited the time crews could work on cooling down the steel to reach the fire, he said. Generally, firefighters’ equipment allow them to work for 20 minutes but the heat brought that time down to seven to 10 minutes. Those working near the heat could become quickly dehydrated, he said.

Some 85 firefighters were on hand to help because of this. Twelve paramedics were also there to assist. About 4,200 gallons of water were needed to extinguish the blaze.

Firefighters cleared the scene at 1:20 a.m. Dietman and Herlache met with representatives from Bay Ship and the Alpena at 8:30 a.m.

Green Bay Press Gazette


Port Reports -  December 13

Port Inland, Mich. – Denny Dushane
Cuyahoga arrived Friday, December 7 at 9 a.m. to load. It was the last vessel for the 2015 season.

Cedarville, Mich. – Denny Dushane
Wilfred Sykes was expected to arrive December 4 during the late afternoon, thus becoming the final vessel to load for the 2015 season.

Stoneport, Mich. – Denny Dushane
The barge Great Lakes Trader and tug Joyce L. Van Enkevort loaded on Saturday and were expected to depart at 3:30 a.m. on Sunday. Due in next was the Great Republic at 12:30 a.m. on Sunday. They would be going to anchor and would get the dock, following the Great Lakes Trader's departure. Two other vessels are also due in on Sunday, with the Manistee arriving in the morning, followed in the mid-afternoon by the John G. Munson. For Monday, two more vessels are scheduled for arrivals, with the Joseph H. Thompson arriving in the late morning followed in the early afternoon by the H. Lee White. On Tuesday, two more vessels are scheduled in the early morning with the Great Lakes Trader due back again, followed by the Manistee.

Toledo, Ohio – Denny Dushane
Manitowoc is due at the Midwest Terminal Stone Dock in a rare appearance on Sunday in the late afternoon. Due at the CSX Coal Dock to load coal will be the barge James L. Kuber and tug Victory on Sunday in the early evening. The Lee A. Tregurtha is due at CSX to load on Monday in the late afternoon. Due at the Torco Ore Dock will be the Lee A. Tregurtha on December 17 in the early evening. Manitowoc makes a rare call at Torco and is due there on December 23 in the morning.


At Port Revel, world’s ship pilots putter around in tiny scale models

12/13 - Grenoble, France - At just more than 41 feet long, with miniature anchors that really work and seating for two where the bridge ought to be, the replica of the Royal Caribbean International’s Voyager of the Seas, seen puttering across a picturesque lake in the French Alps on a crisp clear morning, looks a lot like a rich man’s folly.

It’s being captained by Mauro Martuscelli, a Brazilian harbor pilot in his mid-50s who travelled here from his home port in Santos to spend a week steering this model ship, and others like it, around this 13-acre man-made lake. Also cruising around the lake, in similarly folly-sized tankers and container ships, are four Russian sea captains, a colleague from Santos, and a Canadian pilot who would normally be taking ships up Alaska’s inside passage but today is berthing a scale model of one of the world’s largest LNG tankers at a mock-up of the giant Saudi Arabian oil and gas terminal at Ras Tanura.

Class is in session at Port Revel, one of the world’s most remarkable ship-handling schools, where students—professional maritime pilots and ship’s officers—train using a fleet of charming-looking, meticulously engineered, model ships.

Read the whole story and see the video at


Lookback #756 – John M. Nicol stranded and became a total loss on Dec. 13, 1906

The John M. Nicol was loaded with a cargo of barbed wire when it stranded at Big Summer Island, Lake Michigan, while inbound for Green Bay 109 years ago today.

The ship became a total loss as it broke in two, with the stern being the first to go to pieces. All 19 sailors on board got off safely but suffered terribly from exposure as they left with only the clothes on their back.

Two fishermen, in a gasoline-powered launch, came across the drifting lifeboat and was able to bring the sailors to Escanaba, Mich., on Dec. 16. Many sustained frozen hands and feet in the ordeal.

John M. Nicol was launched by F.W. Wheeler at West Bay City, Mich., on Jan. 2, 1889. The 280 foot long, 2,126 gross ton wooden package freight carrier initially joined the Lake Superior Line of Eber Ward.

The vessel was unable to help the steamer Hudson lost on Lake Superior off Eagle River on Sept. 19, 1901. It was forced to seek shelter in the wild storm. The John M. Nicol was almost lost as well receiving three feet of water in the holds.

Skip Gillham


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.


Damage extent unknown as engine room fire breaks out on steamer Alpena

12/12 - Sturgeon Bay, Wis. – Fire broke out Friday evening on a Great Lakes cargo ship docked at Bay Shipbuilding Co. in Sturgeon Bay. About 100 firefighters from nine fire departments were called to the shipyard just after 6 p.m. Smoke was pouring from the back of the Inland Lakes Transportation Co. ship Alpena when crews arrived.

The Alpena, a 519-foot self-unloader, arrived at the shipyard last Saturday for its regularly-scheduled five-year inspection. Bay Ship is one of the busiest maintenance yards on the Great Lakes. The extent of the damage, and what caused the blaze, was unknown Friday night.

All Door County departments provided mutual aid assistance to the Sturgeon Bay Fire Department in the form of personnel and equipment – crews from the Southern Door, Jacksonport, Baileys Harbor, Ephraim, Baileys Harbor, Ephraim, Sister Bay/Liberty Grove, Egg Harbor and Brussels-Union-Gardner departments all responded. Late Friday there were no reports of injuries.

The fire reportedly broke out in the Alpena’s engine room. About 90 minutes after the first call came in, there appeared to be less smoke than earlier, but crews were expected to remain well into the night.

Alisa Landman, who lives across the channel, said she heard sirens at about 6:30 Friday night and saw billowing smoke. By 8:30 p.m. there was less smoke, and reporter Clare Kaley said there appeared to be less of a sense of urgency.

According to the Tim Herlache, chief of the Sturgeon Bay Fire Department, the blaze was about three decks down, near the engine room of the ship, although the engine was not involved in the fire. Chief Herlache said the dining area, the cafeteria and some staterooms on the ship were all heavily damaged.

Photos showed blistered paint on after starboard quarter of the vessel.

He said the biggest problem for firefighters was the extreme heat. He described conditions as "like and oven" and said firefighters would "burn their knees" as they crawled across the deck of the steel-hulled ship. Three ambulances were on the scene, mainly to help out firefighters who became dehydrated in the extreme heat.

Built in 1942 as the bulk carrier Leon Fraser for the U.S. Steel interests, the Alpena is the oldest operating steamship as well as one of just a few remaining steam-powered vessels on the Great Lakes. She was adapted for use as a cement carrier in 1991.

Alpena is in the dry dock with the carferry Badger, which is not believed to have been affected. The 1,000-footer American Spirit is in the berth next to the dry dock and the Arthur M. Anderson is on the other side of the Spirit.

Door County Advocate, Green Bay Press Gazette,


Herbert C. Jackson arrives for winter lay-up, conversion

12/12 - Superior, Wis. – Early Friday morning the Herbert C. Jackson arrived via the Duluth entrance and made her way to Fraser Shipyards in Superior for winter lay-up.

The Jackson, the last steam-powered vessel in the Interlake Steamship Co. fleet, will be re-powered to diesel over the winter, joining four of her Interlake Steamship fleetmates that have all been repowered from 2006-12.

The first vessel to be repowered was the Lee A. Tregurtha in 2006. She was followed by the Charles M. Beeghly (now the Hon. James L. Oberstar) in 2009. Next to get repowered would be the Paul R. Tregurtha in 2010 and finally the Kaye E. Barker in 2012. All of those repowerings took place at Bay Shipbuilding Corp. in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin.

The Jackson not only is the last steam-powered vessel in the Interlake Fleet, she is also the smallest at 690 feet in length.

Denny Dushane


S.S. Badger visits her Sturgeon Bay maker

12/12 - Sturgeon Bay, Wis. – A piece of Great Lakes and Sturgeon Bay history was hauled into Bay Shipbuilding Co. in Sturgeon Bay last week by the Selvick Marine tugs. The S.S. Badger is currently dry docked at the shipyard, its original home, for a hull and maintenance check.

Chuck Leonard, vice president of navigation at Lake Michigan Carferry Service (LMC), said the vessel is being inspected to determine the integrity of the hull. “As we anticipated, it sounds like she is in very good condition,” Leonard said. “She was built very robustly, and we’re optimistic she has years and years in her yet.”

When constructed by Christy Corp. and launched in 1952, the Badger’s hull was reinforced for ice breaking so it could run the lake all year. It was originally made to carry railroad cars and it traveled to Milwaukee, Manitowoc, Kewaunee and Ludington, Mich. The Badger and its twin, the S.S. Spartan, were two of many ferries that traveled the lakes, but by 1988 the Badger was the lone ferry left on Lake Michigan.

The Badger sat idle in 1990-91 as the car ferry service in Ludington died out. However, Charles F. Conrad purchased the Badger and retrofitted the boat for passengers and their cars. The Badger is the only coal-burning steamship of its kind left in North America.

Today, as the Badger gets its five-year checkup, LMC is already looking forward to next year’s season. When the vessel returns to Ludington for the winter, the company will begin its maintenance program while the engines are cold.

The last voyage across the Lake was on Oct. 11, and the first of 2016 is planned for May 12.

Terrie Brown, director of marketing and media for LMC, said they run it only seasonally for passengers, even though the boat is built to withstand bitter temperatures. “Before, when her main objective was hauling freight, it made sense to run her all year,” Brown said. “For passengers, we like to keep their comfort in mind, rather than the ability to cut ice.”

The Badger operated in 2015 for the first season under Environmental Protection Agency standards, after LMC converted the ship to contain burnt coal in the hull, rather than depositing it into the Lake. “We are proud of what we have done, and it worked out the way we hoped,” Leonard said.

The EPA and Department of Justice had given the company until 2015 to modify its coal ash-dumping methods or suffer shutdown. With the new system the ash is unloaded on land and used to make cement.

Being able to run the boat as the last large coal-burning vessel in the Great Lakes and United States is a source of historical pride for LMC. “We understand that running this boat has historical significance to Ludington, Manitowoc and even Sturgeon Bay,” Leonard said.

“It is also a way of introducing a different kind of transportation to younger generations,” Brown said. “We take great pride in that.”

Through the years of being a carferry, the Badger has moved a number of interesting things on the four-hour tour, including the Budweiser Clydesdales, a Shelby Cobra Club, tractor groups and a whole circus. This last summer, Captain Curtis even had the opportunity to marry a couple while at port in the pilothouse.

This week, two filmographers visited Sturgeon Bay to film the Badger at Bay Ship for the hull inspection.

Ken Nelson and Dr. Steve Dryden have been producing film of the ship for a documentary that is to be ready in spring 2016. The two filmmakers are from Indianapolis and have traveled on the Badger multiple times, once for a four-day stint. The documentary covers the history of the Badger and its relationship to Lake Michigan, Ludington, Manitowoc and Sturgeon Bay. They were able to capture passenger stories, removal of the ash-gun system, how the boat is run, managed and more.

Nelson said they would be including a shots of the Selvick tugs moving the Badger, shots of Sturgeon Bay, Bay Ship and the Holiday Motel. The motel furnishings replicate those used in the Badger’s 40 staterooms, and the hotel was built just before the Badger and Spartan were commissioned.

“There is a lot of history in the Badger, and we are excited to put this film together,” Nelson said.

The “Big Badger,” as Charles Conrad liked to call it, is expected to return to Ludington for the winter by late next week. To see regular updates about the Badger’s whereabouts, visit the LMC website at or on their Facebook page, S.S. Badger: Lake Michigan Careferry.

Door County Advocate


Port Reports -  December 12

Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.
In a rare visit by a 1,000-footer, Interlake’s Mesabi Miner was unloading at Essar Steel Friday morning.

Stoneport, Mich. – Denny Dushane
Joseph H. Thompson was expected to arrive Friday at midnight to load. There are four vessels scheduled to load for Saturday with the Great Republic due in first in the late morning hours. They will be followed by the Great Lakes Trader in the early afternoon, along with the H. Lee White in the late afternoon. John G. Munson is also due on Saturday in the late evening. Expected to arrive on Sunday at noon is the Manistee. The Joseph H. Thompson returns on Monday in the morning.

Toledo, Ohio – Denny Dushane
Rt. Hon. Paul J. Martin unloaded iron ore pellets at the Torco Dock on Friday. At the CSX Coal Dock, the Kaye E. Barker was expected to arrive on Friday in the late afternoon to load. Also due at the CSX Coal Dock is the Philip R. Clarke on Saturday in the early morning. Due at CSX on Sunday is the James L. Kuber at noon. The Lee A. Tregurtha is due at CSX on Monday in the late afternoon. Expected to arrive with limestone at the Midwest Terminal Stone Dock will be the Manitowoc on Sunday in the early morning. Vessels in lay-up include the Walter J. McCarthy Jr. at the Midwest Terminals of Toledo Overseas Dock. The St. Clair is at CSX #2 Dock while the tug Olive L. Moore and barge Lewis J. Kuber are laid-up near the Torco Dock. At the Frog Pond is the barge Sarah Spencer and tug Jane Ann IV and the American Valor. The tanker Algosea remains in drydock at the Ironhead Marine Shipyard. Vessels in port included the tug Michigan and barge Great Lakes along with the saltwater vessel Nordana Mathilde, which is getting repair work done. The tug Petite Forte along with the barge St. Marys Cement was unloading cement at the St. Marys Cement Dock. Further upriver, the salty Federal Margaree was getting underway after it had loaded a grain cargo. Off of Toledo was the tug Paul L. Luedtke.

Buffalo, N.Y. – Brian W.
USCG Hollyhock was anchored outside the breakwall on Friday morning, and in port Friday night.


Duluth-Superior: First visit for new ship, last grain cargo of the 2015 season

12/12 - Duluth-Superior – One of six newly built bulk carriers in the Fednav fleet – the Federal Bering – is making its first full transit of the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway system this week en route to the Port of Duluth-Superior. While this will be a first for the ship, its cargo will end up being the last outbound grain shipment of the 2015 shipping season for the Twin Ports.

ETA of the Federal Bering looks to be late Sunday evening, Dec. 13, or early Monday morning, the 14th. The ship is scheduled to take on a split load of some 21,000 metric tons of wheat and canola at the CHS terminal in Superior before departing midweek (weather permitting) for Mexico. Local vessel agent is Daniel’s Shipping Services, a company that’s served in that capacity for nearly 50 years.

“It’s great to see U.S. grain being moved from the heartland of North America to the east coast of Mexico via the Great Lakes-Seaway system rather than being barged or railed to a Gulf Coast port,” said Marc Gagnon, Fednav’s Director of Government Affairs & Regulatory Compliance. “It is testimony of a highly efficient, cost-effective marine transportation system.”

Like her fleetmates – the Federal Baltic, Federal Beaufort, Federal Barents, Federal Bristol and Federal Biscay – the Federal Bering was built by Oshima Shipbuilding in Japan. All six sister ships are 199.98 meters (656 feet) in length and have a beam of 23.76 meters (77.9 feet); each was built with four deck cranes and four “box” holds for greater flexibility.

These environmentally advanced vessels consume 28 percent less fuel and produce 28 percent less emissions than similar ships built for the company just 10 years ago; their fuel-efficient engines will also reduce nitrogen oxide emissions by over 30 percent. All six new-builds were delivered between May and November 2015, as part of a series of 27 new ships added to Fednav’s fleet in the past four years, 14 of which are committed to Great Lakes-Seaway service.

Duluth Seaway Port Authority


The Navy’s newest ship USS Milwaukee breaks down, towed into port

12/12 - The littoral combat ship Milwaukee, the Navy’s newest ship, broke down Dec. 11 and had to be towed more than 40 nautical miles to Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek, Va.

The ship suffered an engineering casualty while transiting from Halifax, Canada, to Mayport, Fla., and ultimately its home port of San Diego. The cause is being evaluated by ship’s crew and technical consultants.

Initial indications are that fine metal debris collected in the lube oil filter caused the system to shut down, according to a Navy statement provided to Navy Times. The cause of the metal debris in the lube oil system is not known and assessments are ongoing.

The ship was commissioned Nov. 21 in Milwaukee, Wis., and has been making the long trek to San Diego through the Great Lakes since.

Problems with the propulsion plant began almost as soon as Milwaukee got underway from Halifax. The ship’s computer system triggered an alarm and the ship called away an engineering casualty.

Engineers cleaned out the metal filings from the lube oil filter and locked the port shaft as a precaution. In the early hours of Friday morning, the ship was conducting steering tests and lost lube oil pressure in the starboard combining gear due to the presence of the same metal filings in that filter.

The metal filings in the lube oil have not been a class-wide issue, according to the Navy.

The ship then dropped anchor while the engineers worked on the system. By mid-morning, the salvage ship Grapple rendezvoused with Milwaukee and connected a towing hawser line for the trip back to Little Creek.

News of the breakdown reached Capitol Hill by late Friday. Sen. John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in a statement to Navy Times that the plant issues were troubling and called for accountability.

“Reporting of a complete loss of propulsion on USS Milwaukee (LCS 5) is deeply alarming, particularly given this ship was commissioned just 20 days ago,” McCain said. “U.S. Navy ships are built with redundant systems to enable continued operation in the event of an engineering casualty, which makes this incident very concerning.

“I expect the Navy to conduct a thorough investigation into the root causes of this failure, hold individuals accountable as appropriate, and keep the Senate Armed Services Committee informed.”

Navy Times


Federal Biscay arrives at Baie Comeau

12/12 - Federal Biscay, a new vessel built for Fednav in 2015 at the Oshima Shipbuilding Co. in Oshima, Japan, arrived in Baie Comeau, Que., on Dec. 8. This was the first time the vessel has visited any ports in Canada. The Federal Biscay is also a sistership to five other vessels built in 2015 for Fednav at the Oshima Shipyard in Oshima, Japan. The others are the Federal Baltic, Federal Barents, Federal Beaufort, Federal Bering and the Federal Bristol.

Denny Dushane


Lookback #755 – Former Federal Danube in Seaway collision on Dec. 12, 1984

12/12 - The deep-sea bulk carrier Federal Danube was anchored in the Seaway near Valleyfield, Q.C., when it was struck by the Yugoslavian freighter Beograd on Dec 12, 1984. The Fednav ship received damage to the bulbous bow while Beograd was holed and went aground.

Beograd was released on Dec. 20 and both ships were repaired. The incident ended up in the courts and Beograd was found at fault for operating at an unsafe speed. An appeal upheld the Fednav position.

Federal Danube was built at Hoboken, Belgium, and was completed for Fednav in Sept. 1980. It began Great Lakes trading that year and was a regular around the inland seas through 1994.

The vessel was back through the Seaway as b) Lake Ontario on March 25, 1995, carrying steel slabs for Hamilton. It too was regular visitor to our shores and, by the end of 2007, had made 50 transits upbound through the Seaway.

The vessel joined Canada Steamship Lines in 2008 and was renamed c) Oakglen (iii) the following spring. It entered the ore and grain trades throughout the lakes and along the St. Lawrence and is still sailing for C.S.L. in 2015.

Beograd arrived at Gadani Beach, Pakistan, for scrapping as b) Mariel on Sept. 22, 1999.

Skip Gillham


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.


Alpena on Fire at Bay Shipbuilding

12/11- 8 p.m. update - Multiple fire departments were responding to a fire on board a ship at Bayshipbuilding Co. in Sturgeon Bay on Friday night.

Local reports state that a large fire is burning in the engine room and aft cabins on the cement carrier Alpena as it is in dry dock at Bay Shipbuilding. Heavy smoke was coming out of the port holes and door ways, Fire departments from Sturgeon Bay with help from fire dept. from the surrounding towns are on the scene.

The Alpena, a 519-foot self-unloader owned by Inland Lakes Transportation Co., has been undergoing maintenance at the shipyard.

Door County Advocate and Jim Conlon


Final surge at U.S. ports before St. Lawrence Seaway season closes

12/11 - The number of vessels currently in the Great Lakes-Seaway system exceeds the five-year average as ships deliver much-needed supplies and make a final push to export grain before the St. Lawrence Seaway closes Dec. 30.

“The 2015 shipping season has been a bellwether for North American economic trends,” said Stephen Brooks, president of the Chamber of Marine Commerce. “Ships are delivering cement, stone, gypsum, aluminum and machinery to support an eight-year high in U.S. construction spending, along with growth in the automotive sector in Great Lakes states. But steep declines in global consumption and pricing have largely halted coal and iron ore exports via the waterway this season and that continues.”

New business has helped to offset shortfalls with figures from April 2 to November 30 showing that the St. Lawrence Seaway attracted 1.7 million metric tons of cargo either coming from new origins or heading to new destinations. This included salt imports from Morocco, Egypt and Venezuela to the ports of Toledo, Milwaukee and Monroe.

Domestic general cargo via the Seaway saw an increase of 27.7 percent this season, which is due mainly to increased shipments of aluminum ingots traveling from Sept-Iles, Quebec to ports in Oswego, New York, and Toledo, Ohio, for the automotive industry and other uses.

Movements of large-scale machinery and other project cargo like wind turbines nearly doubled this season, up 92 percent.

“The Port of Milwaukee has really proven its value to our regional manufacturers with an increase in large-scale movements of machinery for both export and import,” said Milwaukee Port Director Paul Vornholt.

“Even within the past two weeks, the port handled a hammer press weighing nearly 100 tons that was delivered to a local company. We have had another strong year for steel moving through the port, which is used by local manufacturers. And a number of vessels arrived through the Seaway bringing in barley to support our city’s brewers. With a few weeks left of the Seaway season, we anticipate a strong finish for our overall cargo numbers as ships bring in more steel."

Year-to-date Seaway shipments of construction materials such as cement and stone were up 15 percent and 20 percent respectively.

“So far this season, the Port of Green Bay has moved about 1.6 million metric tons of cargo, a little shy of our goal of 2 million. Recent imports have included cement, coal, limestone and salt. As for exports, petroleum products have seen an increase due to shortages being experienced on the east coast. With much of the region, including Wisconsin, experiencing moderate temperatures for this time of year, the port will most likely be able to move cargo through the end of December. This is good news for terminal operators looking to stock pile materials for the winter months and will aid the port in reaching our yearly tonnage goal,” Dean Haen, director for the Brown County Port & Resource Recovery department.

Across the board, total year-to-date (April 2 through Nov. 30) cargo on the Seaway was 31.5 million metric tons, down 10.4 per cent.

Chamber of Marine Commerce


Great Lakes Shipyard awarded drydocking contract for Ryba barges, tug

12/11 - Cleveland, Ohio – Great Lakes Shipyard has been awarded a drydocking contract for Ryba Marine’s Dump Scow GL-5 (170’ x 41’ x 15’) and GL-6 (170’ x 41’ x 15’) and tug Thomas R. Morrish. The maintenance and repairs that include drydocking and major steel repairs will be completed by May 2016. Most recently, Great Lakes Shipyard completed a drydocking contract for Ryba Marine tug Kathy Lynn in in April and October 2015 as well as Barge OBE185 in April 2015.

Great Lakes Shipyard


Port Reports -  December 11

Lake Michigan
Algoma Navigator, Algosoo and Great Republic were anchored in Lake Michigan's Good Harbor Bay Thursday night due to winds of 30 mph and above.

Alpena, Mich. – Ben and Chanda McClain
The tug Samuel de Champlain and barge Innovation was in port on Wednesday, loading cement. On Thursday morning the tug Undaunted and barge Pere Marquette 41 departed Lafarge after unloading cargo overnight. Manitowoc made its way into Lafarge to unload coal once the Undaunted had passed by out in the bay.

Oswego, N.Y. – Ned Goebricher
On Thursday morning, the tug Vigilant 1 and her barge departed for the Seaway.


November cargoes reflect diversity of Seaway shipments

12/11 - Washington, D.C. – Agricultural commodities along with dry bulk, general cargo and containerized goods continued to enhance cargo tonnage on the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway System during the month of November, according to Betty Sutton, administrator of the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation.

“With just under a month remaining in the 2015 navigation season, we anticipate vessel activity in the Seaway system to be robust right up to closing,” she said.

The general cargo dock operated by Midwest Terminals had a good month of November at the Port of Toledo. “The ability to handle a diverse array of cargo at this large facility with new material handling equipment is really helping move the economy of Northwest Ohio forward,” said Joe Cappel, Vice President of Business Development at the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority. In November alone, Midwest handled vessel loads of aluminum, steel, project cargo, coal, pig iron, petcoke, and salt.

“Although our coal and iron ore tonnage is below normal for this time of year, shipments of other bulk materials, project cargo, grain, and aluminum have been strong. In Toledo, we can handle just about anything that can be loaded onto a ship,” he added.

At the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor, exports through the Seaway exceeded imports for the first time in many months. “We saw increased exports of grain and other bulk products moving to Quebec in recent shipments,” said Port Director Rick Heimann. “Quebec is a key trading partner for us because that region serves as a gateway to the Great Lakes in a similar way that our port serves as a gateway to the U.S. Midwest and the extensive inland waterway system. Grain from Midwestern farms can be shipped on Great Lakes vessels from our port to Quebec and loaded onto larger ocean vessels for trans-Atlantic shipments. Developing these types of regional partnerships is vital to realizing the full potential of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway System.”

The Port of Oswego, New York, had a busy November, receiving shipments of aluminum and potash, and exporting its first shipment of soybeans. Two McKeil Marine barges, carrying 16,000 metric tons of aluminum, arrived from Sept-Iles, Que. The aluminum was loaded onto trucks for delivery to the local Novelis Plant, and for customers as far away as Kentucky and Texas. The motor vessel Algoway delivered 10,000 metric tons of red premium potash from Thunder Bay, Ont. The potash was moved by truck to farmers across New York and surrounding states.

“The port saw its first export of 16,000 metric tons of soybeans on the motor vessel Manitoba to the Port of Sorel, Que.,” said Zelko Kirincich, Oswego’s executive director and CEO. “Its final destination is Europe. This first export of soybeans by ship is just the beginning of what is expected to be major grain export and import activity at the Port of Oswego in 2016.”

“For the second consecutive year, the Port of Milwaukee will see a high volume of steel coming in through the Seaway,” said Port Director Paul Vornholt. “That is one of the ways the port adds value for local manufacturers. The port is also well positioned to handle oversized items such as the new 96-ton hammer press that recently arrived through the Seaway for a local forged product manufacturer.”

The St. Lawrence Seaway reported that year-to-date total cargo shipments for the period April 2 to November 30 were 32 million metric tons, down 10.5 percent over the same period in 2014. U.S. grain shipments were up by 11 percent in November over last year. The dry bulk category was up by 1 percent over 2014 with potash, stone, and gypsum in the positive column, at 94, 21, and 45 percent respectively. The general cargo category was down 16 percent. Iron ore and coal remained down in November by 7 and 38 percent respectively. The liquid bulk category posted a downturn of 11 percent.

Great Lakes Seaway Partnership


Lookback #754 – Mancox aground in Lake St. Clair on Dec. 11, 1963

Mancox was one of two sisterships used by the Yankcanuck Steamship Co. from 1951 until late 1965. It was 52-years ago today that the vessel ran aground, near Peche Island, in Lake St. Clair during a voyage from Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., to River Rouge, Mich.

This ship had a wide-ranging career carrying six names as it sailed on the Great Lakes and Atlantic with registry in the United States, France and Canada.

Originally the H.G. Dalton, it was built at Superior, Wis., and entered service on Aug. 30, 1903 for the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Transportation Co. It went overseas to serve French interests as b) Corseulles in 1916 but returned to Canadian service as c) Glendochart in 1922.

The vessel sailed for the Glen Line, the George Hall Coal Co. and Canada Steamship Lines. The last mentioned renamed the ship d) Chatsworth in 1927. After being idle due to the Depression, the vessel was sold to the Manseau Shipyards, later Marine Industries, in 1937 and was eventually rebuilt as the crane ship e) Bayleaf, combining fresh and saltwater trading.

Capt. Frank Manzzutti purchased this vessel, and sistership Ashleaf, in 1951, and they were renamed f) Mancox and Manzzutti respectively.

Mancox survived her grounding of Dec. 11, 1963, and was pulled free. It was scrapped by United Metals in Hamilton after arriving under tow on May 17, 1970.

Skip Gillham


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


Great Lakes Shipyard awarded drydocking contract for Miller Boat Line ferry

12/10 - Cleveland, Ohio – Regular customer Miller Boat Line has awarded Great Lakes Shipyard a contract to complete the 5-year US Coast Guard Inspection and main engine repowering for the ferry Wm. Market. The work is scheduled to be completed by February 2016.

Previously, Great Lakes Shipyard completed unscheduled work and the 5-year inspection for Miller Boat Line’s Islander in May 2014 and most recently drydocking and maintenance for the Put-In-Bay in April 2015. The entire Miller Boat Line ferry fleet has been drydocked at Great Lakes Shipyard, however this is the first time that Market has been hauled out using the 770-ton capacity Marine Travelift at Great Lakes Shipyard.

In addition, Great Lakes Shipyard has been awarded a drydocking contract by the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Buffalo District for Derrick Barge McCauley and Deck Scow BC-6214. The contract was awarded and started on Nov. 30, and will be completed in Jan. 2015.

Great Lakes Shipyard


Edmund Fitzgerald documentary film screens in Ohio Dec. 16

12/10 - Rocky River, Ohio – A new documentary on the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald focuses on the lives of the 29 men who died 40 years ago when the freighter sank during a storm on Lake Superior.

"A Good Ship and Crew Well Seasoned: The Fitzgerald and Her Legacy," which will be shown in Rocky River Dec. 16, includes rare photographs and film footage of the Fitzgerald, including the last known photographs of the vessel.

"A Good Ship" -- produced by the National Museum of the Great Lakes and Allied Media Group Inc. -- includes interviews with family members of those who died and others who served on the ship prior to its sinking.

"For the past 40 years, everyone has concentrated on trying to explain without any level of certainty why the Fitzgerald sank," Christopher Gillcrist, executive director of the National Museum of the Great Lakes, said. "No one has had the evidence to make that case. Our approach is, we are never going to know for sure why she sank. There were never any witnesses. Why not talk about the people who worked on the boat before she sank."

The 57-minute film explores the crew, most of whom came from Ohio, including three from the Cleveland area. It also delves into the lawyer for Oglebay Norton, the company that operated the freighter. The lawyer's son died on the ship, and he had to cope with his grief while dealing with the company's legal issues and settling the affairs of crew members, Gilchrist said. "It was reported in a small way in 1975, but it has been lost to history," he added.

The sinking is recounted in the Gordon Lightfoot song "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald," and on the label of Great Lakes Brewing Co.'s porter.

"Their lives should never be summed up in the final few seconds they lived," Gillcrist said.

The movie will be shown at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 16 at Memorial Hall in the Don Umerley Civic Center, 21016 Hilliard Blvd., Rocky River. Tickets are $5. Reservations are recommended and can be made by calling 419-214-5000.

Following the documentary, Gillcrist will discuss stories that ended up on the cutting room floor and didn't make the final version of the film.


Lookback #753 – James Dempsey destroyed by a fire at Manistee on Dec. 10, 1922

The wooden freighter James Dempsey was used in the lumber and coal trades and was part of the J.O. Nessen Lumber Co. fleet. The 190 foot long steamer had been built at Milwaukee by Wolf & Davidson and completed in 1883. In addition to its compound engine, the ship was equipped with sails.

The vessel originally traded as Jim Sheriffs and spent some time in the fleet of the Kelley Island Lime & Transport Co. It was renamed b) Peters in 1907, c) Charles Horn (ii) in 1915 and d) James Dempsey in 1920.

Jim Sheriffs came ashore with a schooner at Big Summer Island, Death's Door, Lake Michigan, on Nov. 25, 1895, and was declared a total loss. But the ship was salvaged in May 1896 and rebuilt for additional service.

Fire was the scourge of many of the wooden hull freighters that plied the Great Lakes and this vessel was destroyed in a blaze at Manistee, Mich., on Dec. 10, 1922. The ship was ending its 40th year of service when it burned 93 years ago today.

Skip Gillham


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.


Lakes iron ore trade down 17 percent in November

12/9 - Cleveland, Ohio – Shipments of iron ore on the Great Lakes totaled 4.9 million tons in November, a decrease of 17 percent compared to a year ago. Shipments were down 12 percent from the month’s 5-year average.

Loadings at U.S. ports totaled 4.2 million tons in November, a decrease of 21.6 percent compared to a year ago. Shipments from Canadian ports totaled 710,000 tons, an increase of 29.3 percent.

Through November, the Lakes/Seaway ore trade stands at 49.3 million tons, a decrease of 7 percent compared to the same point in 2014 and the 5-year average for the January-November timeframe. Loadings at U.S. ports are down 11 percent compared to the corresponding period last year. Shipments from Canadian ports are up 29 percent.

Lake Carriers’ Association


Cargo ship takes out railway bridge in Germany

12/9 - A 111-meter cargo ship plowed through a span of a railway bridge last Thursday in Germany, closing the bridge indefinitely.

Reports say the general cargo ship Emsmoon was transiting the Ems River when it struck the bridge near the town of Weener, Germany, at about 6:40 p.m. local time after the bridge failed to raise for the vessel.

The vessel, which has been a Great Lakes and Seaway visitor, has been removed from the area and is now moored in Papenburg, Germany, according to the AIS data from Marine Traffic.

The Antigua and Barbuda-registered Emsmoon is operated by Germany’s Grona Shipping and was built in 2000. The incident is under investigation.

gCaptain, Skip Gillham


Hamilton Port Authority welcomes new Parrish & Heimbecker flour mill

12/9 - Hamilton, Ont. – The first flour mill to be built in 75 years in Ontario will be located on Hamilton port lands. P&H Milling Group will spend $40 million on the facility, and is getting $5 million toward the project from the Ontario government.

The company and provincial agriculture minister announced the new project and investments on Pier 10 Monday morning. Mayor Fred Eisenberger called the investment part of a growing Hamilton "food cluster."

Agricultural cargo made up 20 per cent of the port's cargo tonnage in 2014, up from 9 per cent in 2008. And the agri-food sector in Hamilton generates more than $1.5 billion in economic activity annually, according to Hamilton Port Authority stats.

"As we look at the other investments that the province is making, like light-rail transit which is going to move more people and create renewal in our city," Eisenberger said, "we also need to have that commercial industrial capacity grow to help ensure that our tax base is more healthy and more balanced going into the future, so not so reliant on the residential tax base."

The company is a division of Parrish and Heimbecker Limited, which built distinctive grain terminals on Hamilton Port Authority lands after it signed a long-term lease on Pier 10 in 2010.

The mill will create 16 new jobs and result in 200 jobs being "retained" in Ontario, said Jeff Leal, minister of agriculture, food and rural affairs. Leal said the two crucial public policy issues of the 21st Century will be food security and fresh water, and investing in agri-food ventures like this one will help position Ontario to be a major player.

"Hamilton is a prime location for a flour mill," said Derek Jamieson, president and COO of P&H Milling Group. Jamieson said the Hamilton mill uses technology to cut down on the leadtime for processing grain into flour for sale.

Jamieson said the project is anticipated to be built and ready to start production in late 2016.



Lookback #752 – Jarosa, a Seaway trader under three names, hit by Iraqi gunners on Dec. 8, 1983

The Norwegian freighter Jarosa was built in 1963 and first came to the Great Lakes for Anders Jahre in 1965. The 611'11” long by 74'8” wide vessel was sold and registered in Singapore as Ivory Star in 1972 and traded through the Seaway for the first time under this name the following year.

Ivory Star ran aground in the St. Lawrence near Alexandria Bay, NY on June 23, 1974, due to an engine problem but the grain-laden vessel was released with the aid of tugs. Then, on July 1, while traversing the Atlantic north of Newfoundland, the ship sustained bow damage after hitting an iceberg.

Registry remained in Singapore after the ship was resold in 1975 and renamed c) Turicum. This vessel also traded into the Great Lakes that year.

Another sale in 1980 led to the final name of d) Iapetos. The ship was attacked by Iraqi gunners on Dec. 8, 1983 while in the Khor Musa Channel. Iapetos was damaged but was able to make port. It was hit again, this time by an Iraqi missile and bomb attack on March 29, 1984, while outbound for Piraeus, Greece, and the ship was abandoned.

The by-then Greek flag freighter would not be repaired and it eventually arrived at Chittagong, Bangladesh, for scrapping on Sept. 5, 1984. However it was later reported to have been dismantled at Sitalpur in Jan. 1985.

Skip Gillham


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.


Lakes limestone trade up 10.8 percent in November

12/8 - Cleveland, Ohio – Shipments of limestone on the Great Lakes totaled 3 million tons in November, an increase of nearly 11 percent compared to a year ago. The trade also outperformed the month’s 5-year average by 2.5 percent.

Shipments from U.S. ports totaled 2.5 million tons in November, an increase of 11.1 percent compared to a year ago. Loadings out of Canadian quarries rose 9.3 percent to 500,000 tons.

Year-to-date the Lakes limestone trade stands at 27.5 million tons, an increase of 7 percent compared to the same point in 2014, and 4.3 percent better than the 5-year average for the January-November timeframe. Shipments from U.S. ports are up 7.4 percent. Loadings out of Canadian quarries are up 4.9 percent.

Lake Carriers’ Association


Detroit’s Fort Street bridge may reopen in mid-December

12/8 - Detroit, Mich. – The Michigan Department of Transportation now gives a projected reopening date of 4 p.m. Dec. 18 for the Fort Street bridge project.

The 90-year-old bridge has been closed since July 2013 for a $45 million reconstruction project. Several estimated timelines for completion have been given, including, at one time, December 2014. MDOT officials have said the bridge's unusual construction style, combined with heavy shipping traffic in the water have made delays unavoidable.

Further to the east, the Jefferson Bridge, which also spans the Rouge River, also is out of commission and has been since it was lowered prematurely on a ship in 2012.

Currently the most economical way to cross the Rouge River is to traverse I-75. However, MDOT plans a major construction project to repave I-75 over the Rouge River in spring 2017.

News Herald


Port Reports -  December 8

Buffalo, N.Y. – Drew Leonard, Phil Leon
The Buffalo left the Lafarge Stone dock Monday morning and navigated back up the river backwards, passing under the Charles Berry bridge around 7:30 a.m. Joseph H. Thompson was also in port.


Cyprus-registered ship brings fertilizer to Northeast agri-businesses

12/8 - Ogdensburg, N.Y. – Approximately 10,000 tons of fertilizer is being unloaded at the Port of Ogdensburg for later distribution to farmers and agriculture-based businesses across the north country and other parts of the Northeast, according to officials with the Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority.

The Cyrpus-registered bulk carrier Cinnamon arrived at the Port of Ogdensburg to deliver the dry bulk fertilizer as part of a 10-year public-private marketing agreement signed last year with NASCO-NY, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Quebec Stevedoring Limited, to operate the marine terminal at Ogdensburg. The company operates and globally markets 29 marine terminals from Nova Scotia to Chicago, along the St. Lawrence River and throughout the Great Lakes.

The dry bulk fertilizer is a new commodity being handled at the Port of Ogdensburg and is earmarked for distribution to agribusiness and farms in the both the U.S. and Canada, according to Wade A. Davis, executive director of the OBPA.

Mr. Davis said the exact tonnage from the cargo vessel wouldn’t be known until it was completely unloaded, but that he expected the fertilizer shipment to surpass the 5,000 ton mark.

“It will be housed in OBPA’s port storage building, distributed as needed to regional farms, loaded by longshoremen and trucked to its final destinations in the U.S., and Canada,” Mr. Davis said.

Built in 2003, the Cinnamon measures 610 by 79 feet and has a gross tonnage of 18,311 tons. The Cyprus-registered vessel’s arrival marks the first shipment of dry fertilizer to the Port of Ogdensburg for the upcoming growing season. Prior ports of call made by the vessel include Germany, Gibraltar, and Spain.

The Port of Ogdensburg is the only U.S. port on the St. Lawrence River, and is the northernmost port in the state.

The shipping facility is closer to Northern Europe than most other U.S. ports making it highly economical for ships to import and export from Ogdensburg, according to OBPA officials.

Ogdensburg Journal


Lookback #751 – Fort Albany on sank in a collision on Dec. 8, 1963

The Canadian coastal freighter Fort Albany came through the Seaway in 1962 but spent most of its career on the St. Lawrence. The ship had been built by Canadian Vickers Ltd. and commissioned at Montreal as H.M.C.S. Drummondville on Oct. 31, 1941. This steel minesweeper served on the Gulf of St. Lawrence and as part of the Newfoundland Force until paid off on Oct. 29, 1945.

The ship was rebuilt for cargo service as Fort Albany in 1948. It operated around Eastern Canada and made trips to the Canadian Arctic carrying supplies to northern communities for several summers.

On Dec. 8, 1963, Fort Albany was in a collision in heavy fog on the St. Lawrence with the Norwegian salty Procyon. The Canadian ship was carrying 600 tons of calcium chloride and 200 tons of steel bars from Montreal to Sept-Iles when it went down off Lanorie, Que.

Five members of the crew were lost while six more sailors were picked up by the Procyon and delivered to dry land at Sorel.

The badly ripped open hull was located in 45 feet of water. Salvage began on April 27, 1964, and the patched hull was pumped out and refloated on June 25. The ship was towed to Sorel and broken up for scrap by Marine Industries Ltd. that summer.

Procyon had been built in 1949 as a) Elin Hope and spent 1950-1953 on charter to the Ontario Paper Co. carrying newsprint from Baie Comeau to New York. It was sold and renamed b) Procyon in 1960 and was a Seaway caller the next year.

Sailing as c) Krashok beginning in 1965, the vessel arrived at Madras, India, on May 8, 1967, with a fire in the cargo of coal. The ship settled on the bottom during firefighting efforts but was refloated on May 19 and beached. It was scrapped in 1968.

Skip Gillham


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


Port Reports -  December 7

Buffalo, N.Y. – Brian W.
American Mariner will be in port Monday around noon, presumably for General Mills.


Lookback #750 – Former whaleback Barge 134 stranded and broke up on Dec. 7, 1912

Barge 134 was a product of the American Steel Barge Co. It was launched at West Superior, Wis., on June 10, 1893, and cleared Duluth on June 22 with a cargo of wheat for Buffalo.

The 306-foot-long, 1,310-gross-ton barge had been built with the whaleback design of Alexander McDougall. It went to work for his American Steel Barge Co. and then joined the Bessemer Steamship Co. in 1900 and the Pittsburgh Steamship Co. on their formation a year later.

The vessel was traded to the Great Lakes Engineering Works on March 24, 1910 and rebuilt by them for ocean service. Renamed b) Bangor, the barge headed east in 1911 but did not survive the rigors of coastal Atlantic trading for long. The ship stranded near Hampton Roads, Va., 103 years ago today and broke up as a total loss.

In 1975, a local dredging project was underway and the Bangor became a problem. The hull was salvaged by dynamiting and removing the remains in pieces.

Skip Gillham


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
Fleetmates Hon. James L. Oberstar and Kaye E. Barker loaded ore at the Upper Harbor on Saturday. Lee A. Tregurtha is due on Sunday.

Oswego, N.Y. – Ned Goebricher
On Saturday the tug Vigilant 1 departed with a barge for the Seaway.


Book signing for new Edmund Fitzgerald book this coming Saturday

12/6 - Toledo, Ohio – On Saturday Dec. 12, author and marine photojournalist Christopher Winters will speak about his most recent work, “The Legend Lives: S. S. Edmund Fitzgerald,” at the National Museum of the Great Lakes in Toledo, Ohio. The book is a full-color 272-page hardcover book, honoring the life and legacy of the “Pride of the American Side” by Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society Executive Director Bruce Lynn and Winters.

Winter’s will present and sign twice. The first presentation will occur at 5:30 p.m., followed by a reception. Winter’s second presentation will occur after the reception at 7:30 p.m. The presentations and book signing are free and open to the public but space is limited and reservations are required.

To reserve your space contact the National Museum of the Great Lakes at 419-214-5000 ext. 0. The National Museum of the Great Lakes is located at 1701 Front St., Toledo, Ohio 43605.

National Museum of the Great Lakes


Lookback #749 – Former Nancy Melisa began taking water on Dec. 6, 2001

The Liberian freighter Nancy Melissa was a Seaway trader in 1980. The 349 foot, 2 inch long general cargo ship had been built at Imabari, Japan, and completed as a) Sea Bird in 1974.

The ship sailed as b) Nancy Melissa from 1980 until 1982, making its only appearance on the Great Lakes during this period.

Additional sales in 1982 resulted in renames of c) Memories and d) Emre II. They latter brought the vessel under the flag of Turkey for the first time and this continued after it became e) Emre Bay in 1993.

On Dec. 6, 2001, the vessel began taking water in the Ionian Sea. The crew feared Emre Bey, loaded with 5,000 tons of grain, was about to sink. The sailors abandoned ship and were picked up by the tanker Cerigo. Emre Bey remained afloat and was towed to safety south of Peloponnese, Greece. It was subsequently unloaded but remained idle until a sale to Turkish shipbreakers in 2003.

Careful use of a paintbrush changed the name to f) Resbe for the tow to the scrapyard and the vessel arrived at Aliaga on April 9, 2003. Scrapping began on April 15.

Skip Gillham


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.


Coast Guard offers new details on detained saltie Cornelia

12/5 - Duluth, Minn. – The U.S. Coast Guard on Thursday offered a few more details on why the oceangoing freighter Cornelia has been detained offshore from Duluth for a month — and said negotiations are underway to allow it to finally depart.

Authorities previously had said the Liberian-flagged, German-owned and operated saltie — which was slated to leave the Twin Ports with a load of grain in early November — was being held “for alleged violations of U.S. environmental regulations.”

In a statement Thursday, the Coast Guard said the allegations involve “violations related to the discharge of oily water.”

“Based upon current information in the investigation, it does not appear that the discharge occurred within the port of Duluth-Superior,” the Coast Guard reported.

When reached by the News Tribune earlier this week, neither the Coast Guard nor the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Minnesota — which accepted the case for criminal investigation — would elaborate on the status of the Cornelia.

But on Thursday, the Coast Guard said it was negotiating with the owner of the ship to reach “a security agreement that would permit the vessel to depart the port while simultaneously protecting the integrity of the investigation and the interests of the vessel’s crew members,” the Coast Guard reported.

Matthias Ruttman, managing director of the ship's operator, the German company MST, told the News Tribune earlier this week that MST was "waiting for the owners to make decisions."

Amid concerns that the prolonged detainment is harming business interests tied to Twin Ports shipping, the Coast Guard on Thursday said it takes allegations of pollution seriously — but also recognizes “the importance of the flow of commerce through the port of Duluth-Superior and (is) making every effort to complete our investigation as soon as possible.”

The Cornelia is facing a looming deadline to clear the Welland Canal between lakes Erie and Ontario by the time it closes for the season on Dec. 26. Typically, that means a saltie needs to leave Duluth by about Dec. 18.

Services traditionally offered to ships and sailors in the Twin Ports — such as trips to the mall, or access to phones and Wi-Fi to allow communication with families — have not been available to the crew of the Cornelia since it’s been detained at anchor on the open waters of Lake Superior.

But the Coast Guard on Thursday said they’ve been in regular contact with the master of the Cornelia, who has told them the crew has “adequate food, water and other necessities.”

Duluth News Tribune


Lake Superior's drop slows to a dip

12/5 - Lots of rain in November slowed the seasonal decline of Lake Superior, the International Lake Superior Board of Control reports.

The big lake dropped less than a half-inch in November, a month it usually drops about 2 inches. The Dec. 1 level of the lake was 5 inches above average but 4 inches below this time last year.

The water supply to lakes Michigan and Huron also was up, and those lakes dropped 1 inch in November, less than their usual 2-inch drop. The lakes now sit 7 inches above their long-term average but an inch lower than on Dec. 1, 2014.

The upper lakes generally drop from September to April and then rise from May to August. They are currently holding their own in a higher-than-average trend that's lasted about two years after more than a decade of below-normal water levels.

Duluth News Tribune


Manitowoc County shipwreck nets honor

12/5 - Sheboygan, Wis. – The Wisconsin Historical Society has announced the listing of the Pathfinder shipwreck in the Two Creeks vicinity in Manitowoc County in the National Register of Historic Places.

National Register designation provides access to certain benefits, including qualification for grants and for rehabilitation income tax credits, while it does not restrict private property owners in the use of their property.

Located 2.6 miles north of the Rawley Point Lighthouse in Lake Michigan, the wreck lies in 12 to 15 feet of water. Launched in 1869 and lost in 1886, the Pathfinder, measuring nearly 200 feet in length, is a very early example of wooden schooner construction of this size.

The Pathfinder, typical of this vessel type and length, carried three masts. Sites such as that of the Pathfinder present an opportunity to study and learn about historic wooden vessel construction and how the ships were used in the grain and iron-ore trades.

Schooners were a vessel type common in Lake Michigan, and the Pathfinder carried various bulk cargoes on the upper Great Lakes for the duration of her career. In November 1886, the Pathfinder became stranded in a bed of quicksand, and after a brief salvage that same year, was covered by sand and forgotten until being rediscovered in spring 2014.

The register is the official national list of historic properties in America deemed worthy of preservation and is maintained by the National Park Service in the U.S. Department of the Interior. The Wisconsin Historical Society administers the program within Wisconsin. It includes sites, buildings, structures, objects and districts that are significant in national, state or local history, architecture, archaeology, engineering or culture.

State and federal laws protect the shipwreck. Divers may not remove artifacts or structure when visiting this shipwreck site. Removing, defacing, displacing or destroying artifacts or sites is a crime.

Sheboygan Press


CSL, Rankin donate $25,000 to Welland Canal Fallen Workers Memorial

12/5 - St. Catharines, Ont. – A memorial to honor 137 workers who lost their lives during construction of the fourth Welland Canal is closer to being built thanks to donations from Canada Steamship Lines and Rankin Construction.

Welland Canal Fallen Workers Memorial Task Force Fundraising Chair Greg Wight has announced donations of $25,000 each from Canada Steamship Lines and St. Catharines-based Rankin Construction.

"Canada Steamship Lines and the Great Lakes shipping industry owe an immense debt of gratitude to those who died or were injured during the construction of the Welland Canal. Honoring these fallen workers is an important reminder that safety is the most important priority in any workplace,” said Allister Paterson, president of Canada Steamship Lines.

St. Catharines-based Rankin Construction, which has worked extensively on the Welland Canal, also pledged $25,000 for the memorial.

When the fourth Welland Ship Canal was constructed between 1914 and 1932, 137 men died in what is believed to be the largest loss of life on a federal government infrastructure project in Canadian history.

In August 2015 the design for the memorial was revealed and a fundraising campaign began with support from the Department of Canadian Heritage and Algoma Central Corporation. The task force is seeking financial support for the memorial from the marine and business community, Niagara community partners and the public. Once fundraising is complete, the memorial will be built in 2017.

City of St. Catharines


Lookback #748 – Venus Challenger struck by a missile and sank on Dec. 5, 1971

The Liberian freighter Venus Challenger made its first trip through the Seaway in the 1971 season but was attacked at sea and sunk with all hands 44 years ago today.

The vessel had been built at Nagoya, Japan, and completed in Nov. 1956 for the Ocean Cargo Line Ltd. The 518 foot long freighter went to work as a) Atlantic Governor and sailed as such, with Liberian registry, until 1964.

It was sold in 1964 and became b) Pleias. While most of its trading was on saltwater, the ship did come through the Seaway for the first time in 1968. Then, in 1971, another sale resulted in the name of c) Venus Challenger.

The ship was reported to have loaded rice and steel rods at Beaumont, Texas, and was en route to Karachi, Pakistan, when it was struck, without warning, by a missile. Pakistan and India were at war at the time and there was some thought it was actually carrying ammunition for the Pakistani forces.

Venus Challenger was completely darkened at the time it was hit 26 miles south of Karachi. The ship was moving at 16 knots when the precision strike found its target.

The hull of Venus Challenger broke in two and sank in only eight minutes. All 33 sailors on board were lost.

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.


Great year for Thunder Bay port

12/4 - Thunder Bay, Ont. – The amount of cargo that has passed through Thunder Bay’s port so far this year has surpassed the total tonnage for 2013, with grain not surprisingly accounting for much of the high volume.

As of Oct. 31, grain shipments were 73 per cent higher than they were last year at the same time, the highest it’s been in 17 years, the Thunder Bay Port Authority reported this week.

Overall, 7.1 million tonnes of cargo had been shipped through Thunder Bay by the end of October, compared to 4.5 million tonnes during the same period in 2013.

Grain from the 2014 harvest, as well as the remains from the 2013 bumper crop in western Canada, are currently being put through the port, the authority said in a news release.

So far, 6.3 million tonnes of grain have been loaded on ocean-going ships, with 850,000 tonnes being loaded in October.

Accordingly, the number of ships in port has risen substantially this season, with nearly 100 more salties and lakers tying up compared to last year.

Port of Thunder Bay


Shipwreck thought to be toxic Argo no longer an environmental threat

12/4 - Cleveland, Ohio – A sunken Lake Erie barge thought to be the long-lost Argo is no longer considered an environmental threat, the U.S. Coast Guard and Ohio Environmental Protection Agency said.

A crew on Wednesday completed underwater salvage operations after pumping thousands of gallons of water mixed with benzene and other pollutants from the decaying vessel's sealed cargo holds.

Before the barge's discovery in August, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration deemed the Argo the shipwreck with the greatest potential environmental threat to the Great Lakes. The ship foundered in a storm in 1937 with an estimated 200,000 gallons of oil and chemicals onboard.

The barge at the center of the salvage operations rests in about 40 feet of water nine nautical miles northeast of Kelleys Island. Its measurements, location and cargo all but confirm it is the Argo.


USS Milwaukee visits Halifax

12/4 - USS Milwaukee arrived in Halifax in the early evening December 3. It was due to arrive December 4, but likely came in early to avoid gales forecast for the overnight. On Friday morning December 4 it will move from anchorage to the Royal Canadian Navy where it will be tied up for the weekend. It is scheduled to sail at 0800 hrs Monday December 7.

Mac Mackay


Lookback #747 – The first Renvoyle foundered in shallow water on Dec. 4, 1920

The first Renvoyle did not spend much time on the Great Lakes. It was built at Port Glasgow, Scotland, in 1910 and came to Canada for work under Pointe Anne Quarries. It became part of the original Canada Steamship Lines fleet on the latter's formation in 1913.

The 257 foot, 6 inch long carrier was requisitioned for war service in 1915 and taken to saltwater. It remained overseas after the end of the battles and was lost 95 years ago today after developing leaks. The captain and 24 members of the crew were all saved. Renvoyle had a load of coal dust, for making briquettes, when it foundered in shallow water in the Bay of Biscay on Dec. 4, 1920. There were several salvage attempts in 1921 but none succeeded. About 200 tons of scrap was recovered in 1926.

On Jan. 3, 1928, another ship, the Rene Paul, hit the wreck and sank. As a result, a more serious effort to cut up the hull resulted so it would no longer be a hazard to navigation.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  December 4

Public Gallery updated


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.


Anchored Cornelia in limbo as probe nears one month

12/3 - Duluth, Minn. – Before the oceangoing freighter Cornelia became the subject of a federal investigation and month-long detainment offshore from Duluth, it was docked in the Duluth-Superior harbor and received by Pastor Douglas Paulson like every other foreign vessel he greets and boards.

It was early November, and the director of the local Seafarers Center recalled delivering Christmas boxes to the 20 men on board Cornelia. The boxes contained hand-knit hats and scarves as well as ditty bags full of shaving cream, toothbrushes, shampoos and notepads.

“We’ve been doing this for a number of years — we start at the beginning of November until the season ends the third week of December,” Paulson said. “It’s a way for us to extend some kind of hospitality.”

Nobody knew then that the Cornelia would be forced to anchor offshore from Duluth before it ever got underway with a load of grain bound for either southern Italy or northern Africa.

The tight-lipped investigation “for alleged violations of U.S. environmental regulations,” repeated the U.S. Coast Guard on Tuesday, has yielded no arrests, said Petty Officer 3rd Class Christopher Yaw of the Cleveland-based 9th District of the U.S. Coast Guard.

But the investigation has resulted in a crew stranded tantalizingly close to shore and a cargo going nowhere fast.

“A lot of people are being hurt here that didn’t do anything wrong,” said Stephen Sydow, a Duluth-based vessel agent for his family’s Daniel’s Shipping Services, which serves as the local logistics connection for foreign business interests. “It’s straining business relationships on three different continents, and it’s not a good thing for the port of Duluth.”

When reached by the News Tribune, neither the Coast Guard nor the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Minnesota would elaborate on the investigation, but Sydow said he believed the probe has boiled down to a negotiation over the final dollar amount of a proposed monetary settlement or fine.

Matthias Ruttman, managing director of the ship’s operator, the German company MST, seemed to corroborate that assessment when he said MST was “waiting for the owners to make decisions.”

MST operates dry-bulk carriers on the Atlantic Ocean, but the ship is owned by a German bank and registered in Liberia.

A third party, Canada’s Fednav, was chartered to manage the boat through the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway System. Fednav could not be reached for comment in time for this story, but Sydow said it was another example of the entities being affected, including the flour millers at the end of the line in either Italy or Tunisia, a detail that had yet to be determined when Cornelia first landed in Duluth.

“That was going to be declared later, by the guy who bought the cargo — many times it’s decided later where he needs it most,” Sydow said. “The company that rented the ship and is receiving the cargo is really seriously suffering. You can’t get millions of dollars of cargo, not have it delivered and not have it affect your flour mill.”

Adding urgency to the situation is the fact that the international seaway system through the Great Lakes is scheduled to close at the Welland Canal on Dec. 26 at 11:59 p.m. The canal joins lakes Erie and Ontario near Niagara Falls and is the first domino to fall in the closing of the foreign shipping season on the Great Lakes. Travel through Montreal on the St. Lawrence River closes Dec. 30.

“You back it up from there, allowing for bad weather and maybe a tiny amount of ice,” said Duluth Seaway Port Authority spokeswoman Adele Yorde. “We tend to see the last saltie out of Duluth on Dec. 16, 17 or 18. After that is pushing it.”

The prospects of a protracted stay through the winter for the Cornelia are complicated. Sources for this story painted an unsettling picture. Shore passes for the crew are long expired. The grain probably would need to be offloaded and the vessel refueled and brought to dock, lest it be anchored and left to the mercy of the Lake Superior ice sheet. The vessel already is costing multiple entities across the world upward of thousands of dollars per day for being out of commission, and a lay-up would be exorbitant.

Then, there is the human cost for a crew that Yorde said is a diverse mixture of nationalities, hailing from the Czech Republic, Ukraine, Croatia and Phillipines.

The 575-foot-long Cornelia was built in 2000, making it less likely it would be Wi-Fi equipped, said Paulson, who is accustomed to bringing telephones and Wi-Fi hotspots aboard docked foreign vessels so that crewmembers can communicate with their families.

While it took on grain over two days at the CHS elevator in Superior, a number of crewmembers were transported by the Seafarers Center to the mall. They’ve had no such luxury since.

The local Sea Service, which supplies vessels with commodities and commissary items for crewmembers using its telltale blue-and-yellow pilot boat, the Sea Bear, told the News Tribune it has not visited Cornelia.

Paulson explained that while he holds security access for boats docked in the port, he is not allowed to board vessels at anchor out on Lake Superior. He was happy he delivered hats and scarves when he did.

“At least we did that so they could add some layers,” he said.

Sources agreed it’s likely the crew has run out of fresh food and is subsisting on canned and boxed fare. Paulson said he continues to check in with the Coast Guard to see how the crew is doing. Sydow is in contact with the captain and is eager to give the go-ahead for the Cornelia to get underway. Nobody, it seems, has an inkling of when that could be.

“I’ve had a number of people I’ve run into ask,” Paulson said. “First of all, they’re wondering what’s going on, and I don’t know that anybody has been given the full story. The other piece is that it does concern people how the crew is doing. They ask, ‘Are they OK?’ That’s a long time to be sitting there not able to go anywhere.”

Duluth News Tribune


U.S. Rep. Nolan introduces bill to ban steel imports

12/3 - Duluth, Minn. – As he pledged last month, U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan has introduced legislation that would ban all imports of steel and steel products into the U.S. for five years.

The bill, HR 4130, is aimed at protecting the beleaguered U.S. steel industry and the Minnesota iron ore industry that supplies it.

Nolan, D-Crosby, says the bill is needed to save the domestic steelmakers and raise demand for domestic iron ore, now in its worst slump since the 1980s.

On Tuesday, Nolan also urged President Obama to use his authority under Section 201 of the Trade Act of 1974 to impose tariffs on foreign steel that would mark the equivalent of a moratorium by making it unprofitable for any foreign nation to send steel to the United States. Nolan and other Minnesota political leaders are requesting an urgent meeting with the president to press the issue.

“We are asking the president for action the equivalent of what President Bush did in 2002 when our mining and steel industries faced similar dire crises,” Nolan said in a statement. “Bush used his executive authority to impose dramatic tariffs that had the effect of a moratorium. President Reagan acted in similar fashion in the 1980s, and in both cases our mining and steel industries quickly rebounded. If those dedicated ‘free traders’ could see the light and stand up for American jobs and American workers, there’s no reason President Obama can’t do the same today.’’

Duluth News Tribune


Port Reports -  December 3

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


Marine News Casualties & Demolitions – December 2015

12/3 - Marine News, the monthly journal of the World Ship Society, reports the following ships with Great Lakes connections going for scrap in the December 2015 issue.

Birchglen spent much of its 32-year career as an ocean laker. It combined deep sea as well as freshwater service under five different names. It was built at Govan, Scotland, in 1983 and crossed the Atlantic to trade for Misener Transportation under the name of a) Canada Marquis. It was sold and renamed b) Federal Richelieu and then c) Federal Mackenzie (ii) in 1991 and became d) Mackenzie in 2001. The latter joined Canada Steamship Lines as e) Birchglen (ii) in 2003 and spent the rest of its career in their service. The ship laid up at Montreal in Dec. 2014 and, following a sale to Turkish shipbreakers, departed for overseas under her own power on Sept. 25, 2015. The vessel arrived at Aliaga on Oct. 14, 2015, and work on dismantling the hull got underway by Izmir Gemi Geri Donusum Ltd. beginning on Oct. 22.

The Friendship class Cheng was only a year old and sailing as a) Arabella when it began Great Lakes trading in 1984. It was in and out of the lakes over the years and, in 1998, carried a unique cargo of flanged pipe from Duluth to Sumbawa, an Indonesian island, for a new gold mine. Each section of pipe was 60 feet long and 44 inches in diameter. The ship traded inland as recently as 2000 bringing steel to Hamilton before loading corn at Duluth. It was sold and renamed b) Albarella in 2005. The name was changed to c) Cheng in 2015, with registry in Seychelles, and it arrived as such at Alang, India, for dismantling by Guruashish Shipbreakers on July 21, 2015.

Mapleglen had been built for the Fednav fleet in 1981 and operated under Belcan N.V. as Federal Maas (i). The ship was a regular Seaway salty and this continued after it was sold and renamed b) Lake Michigan in 1995. The latter was inland most years and had made 42 transits before being sold to Canada Steamship Lines in 2008. It was renamed c) Mapleglen (iii) the next year and operated through 2014 before tying up at Montreal. The ship departed under her own power on Sept. 27, 2015, and arrived at Aliaga for dismantling on Oct. 25.

Phoenix, while primarily a saltwater trader, did see some service under the flag of Canada. It was built as Sagittarius at Ancona, Italy, in 1987 and first came through the Seaway on Oct. 7, 1990,headed to Cleveland with a cargo of steel. The 610 foot, 3 inch Italian flag freighter returned from time to time before becoming b) Beststar in 2010. A sale to Vanguard Maritime Ltd. in 2011 brought the ship to Canadian registry as c) VSL Centurion but it only saw service in the fall grain rush. Another sale in 2012 brought the named d) Phoenix Sun but little more service before tying up at Sorel at the end of the season. A variety of problems followed and the ship was renamed e) Phoenix in 2014 before leaving for scrapping at Gadani Beach, Pakistan, on May 24, 2015. The ship arrived at its destination on July 21 and scrapping began July 27


Meratus Banjar 2 sank in the Java Sea, 47 miles southwest of Maslembu Islands Indonesia, on Sept. 6, 2015. The ship was on a voyage from Surabaya to Makassar with 364 containers when it began leaking in the engine room. All on board were saved. The ship carried ten names from the time of completion in 1997 until it was lost. Three of the names were Johannes Boele, including the original, and it was through the Seaway as e) Johannes Boele in 1999 taking a cargo of bauxite to Thorold.

Great Lakes related:

Guo Dian 5 arrived at Jingjiang, China, for dismantling on July 9, 2015. It was to be broken up by the Su Heng Ocean Engineering Co. Too wide for reaching the Great Lakes, the vessel saw service as part of the ocean going Upper Lakes Shipping fleet, under the banner of Marbulk Carriers Ltd. as d) Thornhill (iii) from 1993 until 2004. It provided world wide tramping service and was converted to a self-unloader at Shanghai, in 1997. Thornhill came inland as far as Montreal with salt in March 2001 but was resold for Chinese service in 2004. The ship became f) Guo Dian 5 in 2006 and was engaged in Chinese coastal trading late in its career.

Mont, the former a) Montrealais, b) Algoma Montrealais, and the last Canadian steam powered bulk carrier on the Great Lakes, arrived at Aliaga, Turkey, under tow on July 10, 2015, and was soon broken up for scrap. The ship tied up at Montreal on Jan. 6, 2015, and departed for overseas, under tow with the abbreviated name of c) Mont, on July 10, 2015, and with the new registry of St. Kitts & Nevis.

Compiled by Rene Beauchamp, Barry Andersen and Skip Gillham


Great Lakes Towing honored by Cuyahoga Community College

12/3 - Cleveland, Ohio – The Great Lakes Towing Company was named the 2015 Industrial Manufacturing Employer of the Year by Cuyahoga Community College Nov. 19.

The Workforce, Community and Economic Development Division of Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C) invited community leaders and advocates from across Northeast Ohio to an Employer Appreciation Luncheon last month to recognize employers that have supported the college’s academic, certificate, credentialing and student internship programs.

Creating a workforce pipeline has been a priority for The Great Lakes Towing Company and its shipyard for several years. As a community partner, the company has a long history of incorporating community engagement into their corporate culture by partnering with Saint Martin de Porres High School (a Cristo Rey Network School), Cleveland Municipal School District’s Max S. Hayes High School and Cuyahoga Community College’s Work Force Training program.

In Fall 2015, the company collaborated with Cuyahoga Community College’s Work Force Training program to aid in the development of the welding program curriculum. With continual changes to technology and standards, the company works with Cuyahoga Community College instructors to ensure students are receiving the most up-to-date training.

This year, the shipyard is also participating in an internship program sponsored through the Magnet Workforce and Talent Development Program by Ohio Means Jobs and the Make it in American Grant that the Medina County Workforce Development is providing to Northeast Ohio welding students. Corporate partners can then choose to hire interns following the ten-week program.

Great Lakes Towing Co.


Lookback #746 – Hope I hit bottom near Quebec City on Dec. 3, 1993

The deep-sea bulk carrier Hope I was a Seaway trader under three different names. The vessel was built at Sunderland, England, and completed for the Bolton Steam Navigation Co. as a) Nosira Madeleine on Nov. 15, 1982.

The ship came through the Seaway for the first time in 1983. It became b) Bella Dan in 1989 and then c) Hope I in 1993. The latter was owned by Jadroplov International Marine and carried the flag of Malta. It brought sugar to Toronto on its first inland visit in Nov. 1993. On the way out the St. Lawrence, on Dec. 3, 1993, the ship hit bottom above Quebec City and inspection revealed considerable bottom damage. This was repaired by M.I.L. Davie at Lauzon, Q.C

Hope I became a frequent Seaway trader and usually brought steel inland and returned to the sea with one of the grains. The ship lost power and stranded near Morrisburg, Ont., on June 3, 1999, and had to be lightered to the D.C. Everest before floating free on June 5.

Its last trip inland was in 2002 and the ship was sold that year and registered in Croatia as d) Hope. As such, it was back through the Seaway in 2004. Additional changes in 2007 and 2011 led to the final two names of d) Dora and e) H. Pioneer.

The latter was broken up for scrap at Gadani Beach, Pakistan, after arriving on Oct. 24, 2013.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  December 3

Saltie Gallery updated with pictures of the Albanyborg, Amber, BBC Mont Blanc, BBC Quebec, Fairchem Colt, Fairlane, Finnborg, Greta C, Ida, Kwintebank, Mamry, Martigny, Nassauborg, Nordana Mathilde, and Vitosha.


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.


Algoma Central signs contracts for two Equinox Class self-unloaders

12/2 - St. Catharines, Ont. – Algoma Central Corporation has announced it has contracts in place to build two 740 foot Seaway Max self-unloading bulk freighters to join the company's Great Lakes – St. Lawrence dry-bulk fleet. These contracts were made effective with the delivery of refund guarantees by the shipyard.

These new Equinox Class ships will be built by Jiangsu Yangzijiang Shipbuilding Co. Ltd. and will feature a standard aft-mounted boom. The vessels will have an overall length of 740 feet and a beam of 78 feet, qualifying as Seaway Max size ships. The vessels are designed to carry 29,300 tonnes at maximum Seaway draft.

"Our search for a shipyard in China to replace the now-bankrupt Nantong Mingde Heavy Industries led us to Yangzijiang," said Ken Bloch Soerensen, president and CEO of Algoma. "We have been pleased with the professionalism and enthusiasm the yard has shown for our project and the quality that they have shown on work done for other ship owners."

These new Equinox vessels will have all of the features of the existing Equinox design, including the exhaust gas scrubber technology pioneered by Algoma on the Great Lakes in its first Equinox Class gearless bulk carriers. The vessels are scheduled for delivery in the first half of 2018.

This new order brings the total Equinox Class vessels under construction to seven. In total, Algoma expects to invest approximately $450 million in this phase of its fleet renewal program. With the addition of these new ship orders, the company is reviewing its fleet plan and considering the retirement of certain older vessels.

Since 2009, three Equinox Class bulk carriers and two coastal class self-unloaders have been added to the domestic dry-bulk fleet operated by Algoma. Upon completion of these seven new vessel orders in 2018, the average life of the company's dry-bulk fleet will be reduced by 13 years from the 31-year age of the current fleet.

Algoma Central Corporation


U.S. Coast Guard cutter Mackinaw delivering Christmas trees to Chicago

12/2 - A U.S. Coast Guard ship started a journey to Chicago with something special in tow. The ship is making its yearly buoy rounds with Christmas trees on board. The cutter Mackinaw has 1,200 trees ready to go to families who couldn't afford a tree otherwise. In a few days, they'll drop those trees off in Chicago.

The cutter Mackinaw has been delivering trees to the Chicago Christmas Tree Ship Committee for the last 16 years. They look forward to spreading some holiday cheer every year. "It's such a big event and so many people are involved and it does feel good to do our little part and help out," U.S. Coast Guard assistant operations officer LTJG Rebecca Follmer said.

9 & 10 News


Updated list of new saltwater visitors

12/2 - As of December 1, a total of 61 new saltwater vessels had made westbound transits through the Eisenhower Lock in Massena, N.Y.

The list includes Amber, Amurborg, Andesborg, Askholmen, Atlantic Patriot. BBC Alabama, BBC Kimberley, BBC Mont Blanc, BBC Ohio, BBC Olympus and the BBC Steinwall, BBC Thames, Chemical Aquarius, Clipper Macau, Clipper Makiri, Erria Swan, Eva Schulte, Fagelgracht, Federal Baltic, Federal Barents, Federal Beaufort, Federal Bering, Federal Bristol, Foresight, Fortune, Furuholmen, Gotland, Greta C, Hanse Gate, HHL Tyne, HHL Volga, Houston, Industrial More, Jasmine C, Johanna C, Lena J, Lisanna, LS Evanne, Marbacan, Marbioko, Med Arctic, Michelle C, Nomadic Hjellestad, Nordana Emilie, Nordana Emma, Nordana Mathilde, Nordana Sarah, Onego Rotterdam, Pioneer, Princimar Equinox, Rodopi, Spavalda, Sten Baltic, Sunrose E, Swan Baltic, Swan Biscay, Taagborg, Timber Navigator, Trinityborg, Trudy and Umgeni.

One additional newcomer, the Martigny, is expected in Montreal on Dec. 2 and will be heading to Ashtabula. Also, Spavalda was reflagged Canadian for the McKeil fleet in 2015.

In comparison, in 2014 there were a total of 54 new salties that had made westbound transits through the lock.

Denny Dushane


Port Reports -  December 2

Port Inland, Mich. – Denny Dushane
Wilfred Sykes loaded at Port Inland on Monday and was expected to depart in the mid-afternoon. Calumet also arrived on Monday and they were at anchor waiting for the Sykes' departure. The Mississagi was expected to arrive on Tuesday in the late afternoon. Due to arrive on Wednesday is the barge Pere Marquette 41 and tug Undaunted during the noon hour. Joseph L. Block rounds out the schedule arriving during the early evening on Thursday.

Cedarville, Mich. – Denny Dushane
Great Republic arrived during the late morning on Monday to load. Due to arrive on Thursday is the Joseph L. Block during the early morning. The Wilfred Sykes is due on Friday in the early morning.

Stoneport, Mich. – Denny Dushane
Herbert C. Jackson loaded at Stoneport on Tuesday and was due to depart around 10 a.m. Also due on Tuesday was the Manistee during the late morning. They would be waiting for the Jackson's departure before it would take the dock to load next. The Great Republic was also expected to arrive on Tuesday in the late evening. There are no vessels due in for Wednesday and Thursday. Expected to arrive on Friday during the early morning will be the barge Pathfinder and tug Dorothy Ann, and due on Friday in the morning will be the Philip R. Clarke. Expected to arrive on Sunday with no time listed is the H. Lee White. Due on Monday, December 7, is the John G. Munson arriving in the morning to load.

Calcite, Mich. – Denny Dushane
There were no vessel arrivals on Tuesday. Due in on Wednesday will John G. Munson in the early afternoon, loading at the South Dock. Cason J. Callaway is due on Thursday in the early morning for the South Dock.

Toledo, Ohio – Denny Dushane
The barge James L. Kuber and tug Victory are expected to arrive at the CSX Coal Dock to load on Thursday in the late evening. Also due at CSX is the Herbert C. Jackson on Saturday just after noon. Kaye E. Barker is due at CSX on Monday, December 7 in the late afternoon. Also due at the CSX Coal Dock is the James L. Kuber, returning on Monday, December 7 during the late evening. There is nothing due at the Midwest Terminal Stone Dock. Vessels due at the Torco Iron Ore Dock to unload iron ore pellets are the Baie Comeau on Tuesday, December 8 in the early afternoon, CSL Laurentien on Thursday, December 10 just after midnight and the Rt. Hon. Paul J. Martin on Saturday, December 12 in the morning. The tanker Algosea remains at the Ironhead Shipyard. Over at the Frog Pond are the barge Sarah Spencer and tug Jane Ann IV in lay-up along with the American Valor. The tug Rebecca Lynn with a barge departed from Toledo at the time of this report and the saltwater vessel Federal Kumano was upriver loading a grain cargo at one of the elevators.

Buffalo, N.Y. – Brian W.
Karen Andrie and barge Endeavour were unloading at Noco in Tonawanda Tuesday evening.


Lookback #745 – Agios Nicolaos III ran aground off Prince Edward Island on Dec. 2, 1964

The Greek saltwater ship Agios Nicolaos III stranded off Sea-Cow Head, near Summerside, Prince Edward Island on Dec. 2, 1964, after dragging its anchors. The vessel was refloated and taken to Halifax but, rather than repair the damage, the ship was sold for scrap.

The 451.3 foot long general cargo ship had been built at Hamburg, Germany, in 1937 and went to work under the Dutch flag as Alkaid. It survived the war and continued in saltwater service into the 1960s.

Alkaid made three inland voyages in each of 19612, 1962 and 1963 before being sold to Greek-flag owners in 1964. Renamed b) Agios Nicolaos III, the ship made one inland voyage under this name.

Following a sale to Spanish shipbreakers, the vessel arrived at Bilbao, on April 2, 1965, and was broken up for scrap.

Skip Gillham


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.


Injured worker removed from saltie in Welland Canal

12/1 - St. Catharines, Ont. – A female worker suffered a head injury aboard a ship in Lock 5 in Thorold Monday and was taken to hospital by ambulance. The incident occurred aboard the saltwater vessel Mamry.

Paramedics and firefighters were called at about 2:30 p.m. The woman was conscious, and Niagara EMS paramedics transported her from the deck of the ship via ambulance to hospital. There was no further update on her condition Monday night.

St. Catharines Standard


Cleanup complete: Canadian Miner shipwreck off N.S. finally hauled away

12/1 - Scatarie Island, N.S. – A small Cape Breton community is celebrating after the last scraps of a rusting shipwreck were finally hauled from the shores of Scatarie Island.

"I'm just closing my eyes and picturing that part of Scatarie back to health, and power and beauty as it was before. We did it," said community advocate Sean Howard.

The former Canadian Miner bulk carrier was being pulled by a tugboat past the island in 2011, on its way to be scrapped in Turkey. But bad weather snapped the towline, causing the 12,000-tonne ship to run aground in shallow waters off Scatarie Island, a designated wilderness area.

Since then, residents of nearby Main-a-Dieu have lobbied the provincial and federal governments to take responsibility for removing the wreckage, which held large amounts of fuel and waste oil.

Stephen Harper’s Conservative government refused to pay for the cleanup, and Nova Scotia’s former NDP government commissioned a salvage mission that stalled in 2012. The project was restarted in 2014 under Nova Scotia’s newly-elected Liberal government, which spent $14 million to remove the rest of the ship’s 223-metre hulk.

"This vessel was a concern from environmental, from safety, from economic (perspectives),” said Nova Scotia Transportation Minister Geoff MacLellan. “It just didn't belong on the shores of Scatarie."

It’s big news for the community's 400 residents, who had raised concerns about the well-being of nearby fishing waters.

"We can sit back and say, 'We did it.' Every time we heard no, every time a door was closed in our faces, we didn't give up," said Amanda McDougall, president of the Main-a-Dieu Community Development Association.

Some in the community are optimistic that Justin Trudeau’s new Liberal government could help foot some of the bill. "We're not going to stop until we get a cost-sharing agreement with the federal government," said Howard.

The four-year cleanup was plagued by several snags along the way. In May, a small amount of oil leaked into the water as crews collected 800 litres from inside the ship. Earlier, asbestos was discovered inside hull.

MacLellan, who unsuccessfully lobbied the previous federal government for funds, insists that removing the Miner was the right thing to do.

“It doesn't matter what coastline you're on in this country, we can't have vessels that are unprotected, uninsured… landing on coastlines and being left to rot," MacLellan said.

CTV News


Fundraiser saves Lake Michigan lighthouse

12/1 - South Haven, Mich. – As lighthouses go, this was a real fixer-upper. The second floor of the South Haven lighthouse was rusted through, and rust had eaten away at the seams. Then, to top it off, the light room was caving in.

“It would have rusted to the point where more water would have gotten in there, it wouldn’t have been sound and the government would have deemed it a nuisance and taken it down and scrapped it,” said Jim Ollgaard, president of the Historical Association of South Haven.

“There’s a lot of wind and weather and that could have been just bashed right in as fragile as it had become,” he said of the light room. That was the fear when the Historical Association of South Haven took the lighthouse, built in 1909, from the federal government three years ago.

Ollgaard said he couldn’t imagine South Haven without it. Neither could all those photographers, or the shop owners who use the image in their advertising.

“I grew up here, so it was always in the background, and it’s a comfort to see it when you’re driving by,” Ollgaard said. So, in January, the historical association started a “save the light” campaign, hoping to raise $300,000 by the end of the year.

“There was enthusiasm beyond my wildest dreams the entire year,” Ollgaard said. About 1,500 people gave, including many from out-of-state. They surpassed the goal by $15,000 with a month to spare.

“What that says is that there are a lot of people willing to donate money to see that the lighthouse continues to sit right where it sits in very good shape,” he said.

For visitors like Tom Chapman, here from Missouri to visit family, this beacon is part of what draws them, and why they will keep coming. “It’s the landmark, all the pictures,” he said. “It’s what you think of when you think of South Haven. It’s what we think of.”

Workers started fixing the inside this fall and expect to continue working on it as long as the weather allows. In the spring, they will wrap it with scaffolding and start working on the outside, Ollgaard said.



Port Reports -  December 1

Toledo, Ohio – Jim Hoffman
The tug Olive L. Moore with the barge Lewis J. Kuber arrived at the Torco Dock at Toledo, Ohio late Monday afternoon for winter layup.


Ohio group moving ahead with big plans to harness Lake Erie’s wind

12/1 - It’s been called the “Saudi Arabia of wind” – not an oil-soaked desert, but a breezy lake on Ontario’s American border.

Now, an Ohio group is moving ahead with plans to harness Lake Erie’s strong gusts, in sharp contrast to neighboring Ontario that slapped a moratorium on wind farms in all its Great Lakes amid a public backlash to the specter of the high-rise-sized turbines along its shorelines.

The Icebreaker, as it’s been dubbed, will be a small demonstration project with six wind turbines in Erie, about 10 kilometres northeast of Cleveland. It would be North America’s first freshwater wind farm, with construction starting in 2018.

But the project’s backers have visions of wringing much more electrical power out of Erie, saying more than 1,000 industrial wind turbines could be built along the shore of Ohio, a small state without the huge land mass for giant wind farms found in places like Ontario, Texas and Iowa.

Together, all that juice would add up to nearly double the output of Ontario’s inland wind farms, most of which are located in Southwestern Ontario.

“We are definitely going forward — all system are go,” said Dave Karpinski, vice-president of operations for a consortium behind the project, the Lake Erie Energy Development Corp. (LEEDCo).

An alliance of four Ohio counties, the city of Cleveland and some private-sector groups and foundations, the consortium foresees wringing enough power out of wind-blown Erie to have “a sizable impact” on the state’s energy muscle, Karpinski said. “Our vision is 5,000 megawatts over the next 10 to 15 years,” he said.

Doing the math for how much each turbine can generate, that would require installing about 1,600 wind turbines in the lake.

By comparison, Ontario’s existing wind farms — lightning rods for controversy in many rural areas — together have the capacity to turn out about 3,200 megawatts of power.

Ontario’s Liberal government plunged headlong into green energy six years ago, as it prepared to shut down its dirty coal-fired power plants, signing sweetheart deals with wind energy giants that enraged its critics and stripping municipalities of control over where the giant turbines could be built.

As the opposition mounted, Ontario was poised to plunk down major wind farms in the Great Lakes, with companies advancing proposals for projects in lakes Ontario, Erie, Huron and Superior. But facing a growing backlash from cottagers and others in the run-up to the 2011 election, the Liberals backed off and abruptly slapped a moratorium on offshore wind farms.

In imposing the moratorium, which triggered billions of dollars in ongoing lawsuits against the government by disappointed energy companies, the government said more study was needed before a decision could be made.

That’s not about to change, a spokesperson for Ontario Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli said.

Ontario won’t proceed with offshore wind projects until there’s enough scientific evidence they can be developed in a way that protects both human health and the environment,” said Jordan Owens, Chiarelli’s press secretary.

“We’re taking the time needed to get this right,” he said. But south of the border, in the Buckeye State, plans are moving apace.

Drawing on experience and expertise from Europe, Karpinski said he has no doubts the modest 20-megawatt wind farm that will launch the project

will be a success, opening the door to development of offshore wind farms in Lake Erie for much more wind energy.

But unlike in Ontario, where offshore wind farms were proposed close to land, the turbines of the Icebreaker project will only be visible from shore on a clear day — but only barely, as thumbnail-sized images on the horizon, Karpinski said.

Without vast stretches of land for wind farms, he said it’s only natural for Ohio to look to its wind-blown shoreline along Erie — the lake that Ohio Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur compared to the Saudi kingdom’s ocean of oil.

“In fact, we have no other choices,” Karpinski said.

Canada’s wind energy industry remains keen about putting turbines in the lakes, where winds blow steadier and more reliably than on land.

“Offshore wind energy development is a proven technology that certainly represents an opportunity to provide additional clean energy benefits for Ontario. The wind energy industry remains interested in working with the Government of Ontario to explore opportunities for Ontario’s offshore wind energy resources,” Jean-François Nolet, vice president of the Canadian Wind Energy Association, an industry group, wrote in an e-mail.

Jane Wilson, president of Wind Concerns Ontario, the umbrella organization for groups opposed to wind farms, said she wasn’t aware of the Erie proposal.

Once the demonstration wind farm is completed, the move to utility-scale wind farms in the lake will depend on a series of factors, including national politics and energy policy in the U.S. and the price of natural gas, Karpinski said.

Natural gas is burned in many areas, including Ontario, to generate power.

While the prospect of wind farms in the lakes sparked heated opposition in Ontario, the Icebreaker project has won the support of several lakefront communities in Ohio that have passed resolutions of support, Karpinski said.

He said a freshwater wind farm has several advantages over saltwater projects, including weaker currents, smaller waves and less corrosion. The downside, is that a freshwater project has to be engineered to withstand the stresses of winter ice, he said.

Backers of wind farms in the Great Lakes are ecstatic about Erie’s potential, he said.

“What you have is really great wind in Lake Erie — you are close to large demand sources (for power) and it (the lake) is really shallow,” Karpinksi said. “The conditions make it ideal for offshore wind.”

Sun Media


Lookback #744 – Saguenay beached at Aliaga, Turkey, on Dec. 1, 2013

Two years ago today the Canada Steamship Lines bulk carrier Saguenay was beached at Aliaga, Turkey. The 730-foot-long vessel had arrived from Montreal under her own power the previous day.

The ship had a long connection with the Great Lakes from the time it was built at Hoboken, Belgium, until its final days. Originally Federal Thames, it was completed on June 25, 1981, and was up bound through the Seaway before the end of the year.

This was the first saltwater ship of the 1984 season in the Seaway and on board was a cargo of South African sugar for Toronto. It then sailed to Thunder Bay to load canola and on to Toledo for 306,000 bushels of wheat for Norway.

Federal Thames came inland most every year until being sold and renamed Lake Superior in 1995. Great Lakes visits continued despite the change of ownership. The ship made another 44 inland voyages to the end of 2008 but did miss visiting the lakes in 2004.

Seaway cargoes included steel, soybeans, peas, flax, iron sheets, coke, corn, bleached pulpwood, canary seeds, potash, wheat and coke. Ports for loading and unloading included Oshawa, Hamilton, Toledo, Burns Harbor, Cleveland, Detroit, Thunder Bay and Duluth.

The vessel was sold to Canada Steamship Lines late in 2008, renamed c) Saguenay in 2009 and painted in C.S.L. colors in 2010. It operated through the 2012 season and then laid up at Montreal. It departed for overseas Nov. 6, 2013, and was beached at Aliaga on Dec. 1, 2013, and was soon dismantled.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  December 1

Lay-up list updated  


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.


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