Great Lakes & Seaway Shipping News Archive

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

* Report News

Today in Great Lakes History

March 1:
The m/v HENRY FORD II (Hull#788) was launched on March 1, 1924, at Lorain, Ohio by American Ship Building Co. She served as flagship of the Ford Motor Company fleet for many years and was eventually sold to Interlake Steamship Company when Ford sold its Great Lakes Fleet division. It was renamed b.) SAMUEL MATHER, but never sailed under that name. It was scrapped in 1994, at Port Maitland, Ontario by Marine Recycling & Salvage Ltd., .

On 1 March 1881, the steamship JOHN B LYON was launched at Cleveland, Ohio by Thomas Quayle & Son for Capt. Frank Perew. She was a four mast, double-decker with the following dimensions: 255 Foot keel, 275 feet overall, 38 foot beam, and 20 foot depth.

On 01 March 1884, the I N FOSTER (wooden schooner, 134 foot, 319 gross tons, built in 1872 at Port Huron, Michigan) was sold by Clark I. Boots to E. Chilson. This vessel lasted until 1927, when she was abandoned in Buffalo, New York.

February 28:
The VENUS (steel propeller bulk freighter, 346 foot, 3719 gross tons) was launched on 28 February 1901, by the American Ship Building Company (Hull #307) at Lorain, Ohio for the Gilchrist Transportation Company, converted to a crane-ship in 1927.  She was renamed b.) STEEL PRODUCTS in 1958, and lasted until 1961, when she was scrapped at Point Abino, Ontario, the spot where she has run aground and partially sunk while being towed for scrap..

The light house tender MARIGOLD (iron steamer, 150 foot, 454 gross tons, built in Wyandotte, Michigan) completed her sea trials on 28 February 1891.  The contract price for building her was $77,000.  After being fitted out, she was placed into service as the supply ship to the lighthouses in the Eleventh District, taking the place of the WARRINGTON.  The MARIGOLD was sold in 1947, converted to a converted to dredge and renamed MISS MUDHEN II.

The railferry INCAN SUPERIOR (Hull#211) was launched February 28, 1974, at North Vancouver, British Columbia by Burrard Drydock Co. Ltd.  She operated between Thunder Bay, Ontario and Superior , Wisconsin until 1992, when she left the Lakes for British Columbia, she was renamed b.) PRINCESS SUPERIOR in 1993.

OUTARDE (2) was launched February 28, 1906, as a.) ABRAHAM STEARN (Hull#513) at Superior, Wisconsin by Superior Ship Building Co..

In 1929, the Grand Trunk carferry MADISON, inbound into Grand Haven in fog and ice, collided with the U.S. Army dredge General G G MEADE, berthed on the south bank of the river for the winter. Damage was minor.

February 27:
GOLDEN SABLE was launched February 27, 1930, as a.) ACADIALITE (Hull#170) at Haverton-Hill-on-Tees, United Kingdom by Furness Shipbuilding Co. Ltd..

February 26:
The completed hull of the BELLE RIVER (Hull#716) was floated off the ways February 26, 1977, at Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin by Bay Shipbuilding Corp. Renamed b.) WALTER J MC CARTHY JR in 1990.

JOSEPH L BLOCK (Hull#715) was launched February 26, 1976, at Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin by Bay Shipbuilding Corp..

On 26 February 1874, the tug WILLIAM LIVINGSTONE JR was launched at Port Huron Dry Dock. Her dimensions were 151 feet overall, 25 foot 6 inches beam, and 13 foot depth. Her machinery was built by Phillerick & Christy of Detroit and was shipped by rail to Port Huron. She cost $45,000. Her master builder was Alex Stewart.

On 26 February 1876, the MARY BELL (iron propeller, 58 foot, 34 gross tons, built in 1870 at Buffalo, New York) burned near Vicksburg, Michigan.

February 25:
CREEK TRANSPORT was launched this day in 1910, as a.) SASKATOON (1) (Hull#256) at Sunderland, England by Sunderland Shipbuilding Co.

February 24:
The  Pittsburgh Steamship Co.’s RICHARD V LINDABURY (Hull#783) was launched February 24, 1923, at Lorain, Ohio by American Ship Building Co.  Purchased by S & E Shipping (Kinsman) in 1978, renamed b.) KINSMAN INDEPENDENT (2).  She was scrapped at Aliaga, Turkay in 1988.

The founder of Arnold Transit Co., long-time ferry operators between Mackinac Island and the mainland, George T. Arnold filed the Articles of Association on Feb. 24, 1900.

On 24 February 1920, TALLAC (formerly SIMON J MURPHY and MELVILLE DOLLAR, steel propeller, 235 foot, built in 1895, at W. Bay City, Michigan) was on a voyage from Colon, Panama to Baltimore, Maryland, when she stranded and was wrecked 18 miles south of Cape Henry, Virginia.

February 23:
The e.) U.S.S. ROTARY (YO-148) was commissioned on February 23, 1943, at Sullivan's Dry Dock & Repair Co., Brooklyn, New York and assigned duty with the Service Force, Third Naval District, Atlantic Fleet. The tanker was built in 1915 at Chatham, England by Chatham Dock Yard Ltd. as a.) H.M.S. SERVITOR.  Renamed b.) PULOE BRANI in 1922, brought to the Lakes and renamed c.) B B MC COLL in 1927, and d.) A J PATMORE in 1929.  After her U.S. Naval Service ROTARY reverted to her previous name f.) A J PATMORE and then g.) PEGGY REINAUER in 1946. Renamed h.) DETROIT early in 1955, she traded on the lakes until 1975. Her partially dismantled hull was abandoned in 1985, in the back waters of Lake Calumet.

On 23 February 1843, SANDUSKY (wooden side-wheeler, 148 foot, 377 tons, built in 1834 at Sandusky, Ohio) caught fire at her dock on Buffalo Creek in Buffalo, New York and burned to the hull. She was recovered, rebuilt as a 3-masted bark and lasted another two years.

Data from: Joe Barr, Dave Swayze, Brian Bernard, Max Hanley, Jody Aho, Mike Nicholls, Father Dowling Collection, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series. Marine Historical Society of Detroit. This is a small sample, the books includes many other vessels with a much more detailed history


New names ahead for tankers Gemini, Aggersborg

Algoma Tankers Ltd., which earlier this year announced plans to purchase the Aggersborg, a 1998 built, double-hulled petroleum products tanker, from Borg Tankers II Limited, Bermuda,  has confirmed the vessel will be renamed Algosea (3) when she begins trading on Canada¹s East Coast later this year.  (Note, Algoma's self-unloader Sauniere was named Algosea from 1976 to 1982 and Marbulk's Ambassador was named Algosea in 2000 before being renamed Ambassador again in 2001.)

The tanker Gemini will also join the Algoma fleet this year and eventually sail as Algosar, the second vessel named to honor the port of Sarnia, Ont. Gemini, the last large U.S.-flag, self-powered tanker in service under the U.S. flag, was built in 1978 and had been under long-term charter from Cleveland Tankers Inc. with an option to purchase the vessel. With her sale comes the probable end of the Cleveland Tanker fleet, founded in 1933 as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Allied Oil Transport Co. Inc. Cleveland Tankers named their vessels after heavenly bodies, hence vessels such as Rocket, Comet, Meteor, Mercury and many others were a part of the fleet over the years.

It is not known when the pair will officially be renamed.

The new additions come after Algoma divested itself of three aging, single-hulled tankers, Algocatalyst,  Algosar (1) and Algofax, in 2004.

Reported by Roger LeLievre

Gemini on the St. Marys River in May, 2004. Roger LeLievre


Stormy weather a boon to low water levels

Months of snow and rain may have chased away the sun but still managed to produce a silver lining: the Great Lakes are up to 18 inches higher than last year.

The inclement weather has helped push Lakes Erie and Ontario ­ as well as Lake St. Clair ­ above their long-term averages, and could do the same for the other three lakes by summer, federal officials said in a story published Friday in the Detroit News.

The turnaround buoys the spirits of those who live beside or work or play on the lakes, which had plummeted to their lowest levels in nearly three decades.

The source of the good news is a pack of storms that moved through southern Michigan the past few months. About 9 inches of snow and rain have pelted the area since Nov. 1. That's nearly twice the 4.75 inches that fell during the period last year. Forecasters say temperatures should return to normal in March, but they expect rain and snow to continue in higher-than-usual amounts, and that could be good news for the Great Lakes and Lake St. Clair, since precipitation is one of the factors affecting water levels.

Scott Thieme, chief of hydrology for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, said it's too early to predict how high or low the lakes will be during the summer. Instead, the agency gives a projected range of levels that depends on the wetness or dryness of the season.

But even the Corps' most conservative estimate shows that the lakes will be higher than they've been in several years. The Corps makes a more specific estimate for next month, which shows all but Lake Superior rising another inch or two by March 18. Superior is expected to drop an inch by that time.

The higher lake levels already have meant more money in the pocket of U.S. shippers. Glen Nekvasil, spokesman for the Lakes Carriers Association trade group in Cleveland, said a 1,000-foot freighter could carry an extra 270 tons of material for every inch the lakes rise.

"It's entirely a gift from Mother Nature," he said. "When it comes up, we take advantage of it."

Reported by the Detroit News


Toledo development could include cruise terminal

Great Lakes cruise ships could become an integral part of the Toledo's Marina District project, Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority officials said in a story published Friday in the Toledo Blade.

The vision is for the East Toledo development of residences and retail, still without a name, to become a hub of locals, visitors, and cruise ship passengers shopping, eating, and pumping money into the economy. Ships, including hovercraft, could depart from a terminal at the Marina District development for other spots, including Cedar Point in Sandusky or Put-in-Bay, among other destinations.

The passenger terminal would be built with a $1.2 million federal grant from 1998 that requires a $611,000 local match from the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority, said Jim Hartung, president of the port authority.

The undeveloped Marina District is made up of about 125 acres from I-280 to Main Street along Front Street and the Maumee River.

If all goes well, the Marina District project could break ground in the spring.

Reported by the Toledo Blade


Another Lake Erie fast ferry in the works?

There may be a high-speed passenger ferry across Lake Erie between Erie, Pa. and Port Dover, Ont. in a couple of years, according to a story in the Toronto Globe and Mail.

The Erie-Western Pennsylvania Port Authority and Norfolk County, where Port Dover is located, have signed a memorandum of understanding to develop a business plan for the service, Norfolk County announced yesterday.

According to the announcement, the Erie-Western Pennsylvania Port Authority plans to buy a 58-metre ferry that would carry up to 46 cars and 248 passengers. It is tentatively scheduled to begin service in 2007.

A feasibility study completed in 2003 estimated that a ferry service between the two ports would attract more than 330,000 cars and 750,000 passengers a year by 2010.

Reported by the Toronto Globe and Mail


Rochester's bid to buy The Breeze gets good news

Rochester's plans to buy the idled high-speed ferry Spirit of Ontario took a big step closer to reality this week when no one else put down a deposit by Tuesday's deadline that would signal an intent to buy the ship. The city plans to step in and buy the ship, nicknamed The Breeze, at auction next Monday. Service may restart by Memorial Day.

"Tonight, people in Rochester can breathe easy that, whatever happens on Monday, this vessel is going to stay in the Port of Rochester and operate between Rochester and Toronto," said Mayor William Johnson, the ferry's top booster, in a story in the Rochester Democrat-Chronicle.

Because many companies had inspected the $42.5 million ferry, at least one of them was expected to try to buy it.

Only MTU Friedrichshafen GmbH, the German company that built the ferry's engines, put down the required $2.25 million deposit to participate in the auction. Its interest appears to be solely to secure its investment in the ship, not to buy it, Johnson stressed. The company has outstanding bills of $6.3 million for construction of the vessel's engines and $338,268 for engine repairs and maintenance.

The ship won't go for any less than about $27 million or $28 million because top mortgage holders have the right to bid to make sure they are repaid. There are also about $2 million in maritime claims against the vessel that must be paid back.

The ferry ran between Rochester and Toronto for nearly three months last year before its private operator shut it down because of financial problems.

Reported by the Rochester Democrat-Chronicle


News of Spring: Opening of the 2005 Navigation Season and Maximum Allowable Drafts

The opening of the 2005 navigation season is scheduled to take place on the following dates and times:

  • Montreal / Lake Ontario March 25, 2005 - 0800 hours (E.S.T.)
  • Welland Canal March 23, 2005 - 0800 hours (E.S.T.)

Vessel transits will be subject to weather and ice conditions. Restrictions may apply in some areas until lighted navigation aids have been installed.

Sault Ste. Marie Locks and Canals

United States Soo Locks will open March 25.

Allowable Draft

In the Montreal / Lake Ontario Section, the draft will be 80.0 dm (26'3") until the South Shore Canal is ice-free or April 15th, whichever occurs first, at which time, if water levels are favourable, the draft will be increased to 80.8 dm (26'6") for all inland vessels and those ocean vessels equipped with bow thrusters. For all ocean vessels not equipped with bow thrusters the maximum allowable draft will remain 80.0 dm (26'3"). In addition, there will be zero tolerance for ship's draft in excess of 80.8 dm (26' 06").

Mariners are reminded that for ships loaded to a draft greater than 80.0 dm (26' 03"), speeds will be monitored carefully between St. Lambert Lock and St. Nicolas Island.

In the Welland Canal, a maximum allowable draft of 80.8 dm (26'6") will be in effect from the start of the navigation season for all inland vessels and those ocean vessels equipped with bow thrusters. For all ocean vessels not equipped with bow thrusters the maximum allowable draft will be 80.0 dm (26'3"). In addition, there will be zero tolerance for vessel drafts in excess of 80.8 dm (26' 6'').

Please note that, for vessels loaded to a draft greater than 80.0 dm, speeds will be monitored carefully between the upper entrance to Lock 7 and former Bridge 12 in order to reduce bank erosion in this area.

Reported by the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway System


Port Report

Toronto, ON
Reported by Roger LeLievre:
On Monday at the Redpath Sugar Dock in Toronto Harbour firefighters were called to extinguish a smoldering fire in a storage load aboard the Algonorth. Approximately five tons of cargo were lost as Toronto fire crews made quick work of the fire. "It was short but sweet," to quote the fire chief.

Reported by Charlie Gibbons:
Ward's Island ferry service stopped yesterday when the island ferry Ongiara was hauled out at the Atlas Crane for repairs to it's propeller. It is expected the ferry service will resume by Friday. In the meantime, island residents will be bussed across the runways at the island airport by the ferry Maple City, which serves the airport.


Lay-up List - News Photo Gallery Updated

Click to visit the
11th Annual Lay-Up List
Please send any updates, corrections or new information to

News Photo Gallery updated. 


Wreck of 1813 Warship may have been found on Lake Huron

A British man-of-war, the HMS General Hunter, that was captured by Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry's American fleet in the Battle of Lake Erie in 1813 may
have been found buried and largely preserved under a sandy beach in Canada.

The shipwreck lies on the shore of Lake Huron at Southampton, Ontario, slightly tilted to its starboard side. There is some damage to the port bow and severe shattering of timbers about midship along the hull, according to a story in the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Researchers have found hundreds of ceramic pieces from bowls and plates, clay pipes, eating utensils, 36 buttons from U.S. and British military uniforms, four cannon balls, a musket bayonet, gunflints and parts of what appear to be pistols. The artifacts, which were recovered last summer, are at the Canadian Conservation Institute in Ottawa, where they are being cleaned and preserved.

The ship was reburied last autumn to protect it. Researchers from the conservation institute will continue working with artifacts over the next several months.

If the sunken vessel proves to be the General Hunter, it could be the oldest shipwreck ever located on the Great Lakes.

Canadian researchers and officials said in interviews this week that they are 99 percent certain the shipwreck was a fighting ship built in the age of sail. And the only currently known warship on Erie, Huron, Michigan and Superior that closely matches the wreck's dimensions - about 70 feet long and 20 feet wide - was the two-masted brig that carried 45 sailors when it fought the fledgling U.S. Navy for control of the Great Lakes.

"We're not 100 percent sure, but the circumstantial evidence is pretty compelling we've got the General Hunter. You Americans captured it in 1813, but we've probably got it back as a wreck," said Pat Folkes, a Canadian marine historian studying the ship.

"There are two or three other possibilities, but the construction of the hull is for a naval, not a merchant, vessel. The timbers are very substantial," Folkes said. "And we've found a lot of military artifacts, including a cannon."


Lake Express to get more luxurious

The Muskegon-Milwaukee high-speed ferry Lake Express is upgrading its "premier-class" cabin to provide some extra comfort to its top-paying passengers, Lake Express LLC President Ken Szallai said in a recent Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel story. Also coming this year are food-service and souvenir counters, new entertainment offerings for on-board video screens and top-deck seating for passengers who enjoy the feel of a 40-mph wind in their faces.

The Lake Express will start its second season on the route on May 14, with three round trips daily through Oct. 2 and two round trips daily from Oct. 3 through Dec. 31. Last year, lackluster fall bookings led the ferry to shut down Oct. 31, but Szallai says he hopes passenger traffic could be strong enough to extend the three-a-day schedule throughout October.

Base fares will remain at last year's levels - $50 one-way or $85 round-trip for passengers in the main cabin, and $59 each way for cars - except for the addition of a $1.25-per-passenger "fuel surcharge" each way. Szallai said the ferry's fuel costs doubled last season. Premier-class passengers will still pay $65 one-way or $120 round-trip, plus the surcharge, but this year, they'll get more for their money, Szallai says.

Last year, the main advantages of the premier-class cabin were better seats, more tables and separate restrooms. This year, premier-class passengers also
will get express check-in, free soft drinks, one free alcoholic drink, free newspapers and a steward assigned exclusively to their cabin "to cater to their every need," Szallai said. Those changes were based on customer surveys. Leisure passengers told the ferry line they wanted the 2 1/2 -hour trip across Lake Michigan to be more a part of their overall vacation experience, he said.

On the other hand, business passengers said they wanted earlier crossings, and the ferry line responded by changing the first Milwaukee departure from 6:30 a.m. to 6 a.m., Szallai said. The other Milwaukee departures will be at 12:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. Return trips will leave Muskegon at 10:15 a.m., 4:45 p.m. and 11 p.m., all Eastern time.

Up top, the ferry line plans to install 20 or 25 seats "for those hardy souls who like to be up there," Szallai said.

The ferry line also is planning changes on land. Both Lake Express terminals, in Milwaukee's Bay View neighborhood and in Muskegon, are slated to get new food service and souvenir counters, Szallai said.

Reported by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel


Lay-up List

Click to visit the 11th Annual Lay-Up List
Please send any updates, corrections or new information to


Today in Great Lakes History

February 22:
On 22 February 1920, the Goodrich Line’s ALABAMA (steel propeller passenger/package freight steamer, 272 foot, 2626 gross tons, built in 1909 at Manitowoc, Wisconsin) ran aground on a concrete obstruction which was the foundation of the old water-intake crib in Lake Michigan off Belmont Avenue, Chicago, Illinois.  The SIDNEY O NEFF (wooden package freighter, 149 foot, 346 gross tons, built in 1890 at Manitowoc, Wisconsin) took off the ALABAMA’s cargo and then harbor tugs pulled the ALABAMA free.  Repairs to her hull took the rest of the winter and she didn’t return to service until May 1920.

February 22, 1925 - The ANN ARBOR NO 7 made her maiden voyage.

On 22 February 1878, the 156 foot wooden freighter ROBERT HOLLAND was purchased by Beatty & Co. of Sarnia for $20,000.

February 21:
The EDWIN H GOTT arrived at Two Harbors. Minnesota (her first trip) February 21, 1979, with the loss of one of her two rudders during her transit of Lake Superior. Also the other rudder post was damaged. She was holed in her bow and some of her cargo hold plating ruptured as a result of frozen ballast tanks. Even the MACKINAW suffered damage to her port propeller shaft on the trip across frozen Lake Superior.

At Port Weller Dry Docks Ltd. the keel of the new bow section for the HILDA MARJANNE was laid on February 21, 1961, while at the same time the tanker hull forward of her engine room bulkhead was being cut away.

On 21 February 1929, SAPPHO (wooden propeller passenger ferry, 107 foot, 224 gross tons, built in 1883 at Wyandotte, Michigan) burned at her winter lay-up dock in Ecorse, Michigan. She had provided 46 years of service ferrying passengers across the Detroit River. She was neither repaired nor replaced since the Ambassador Bridge was nearing completion.

February 20:
On February 20, 1959, Interlake Steamship Co.’s HERBERT C JACKSON (Hull#302) was launched at Great Lakes Engineering Works in River Rouge, Michigan.

The Canadian Coast Guard Icebreaker DES GROSEILLIERS (Hull#68) was launched February 20, 1982, at St. Catharines, Ontario by Port Weller Drydocks Ltd.

On 20 February 1903, G WATSON FRENCH (steel propeller, 376 foot, 3785 gross tons) was launched at W. Bay City, Michigan by West Bay City Ship Building Co. (Hull#608). She lasted until 1964, when she was scrapped by Lakehead Scrap Metal Co. at Fort William, Ontario. The other names she had during her career were HENRY P WERNER (1924), JOHN J BOLAND (2) (1937), and ALGOWAY (1947).

February 19:
The b.) TROY H BROWNING, c.) THOMAS F PATTON was towed from the James River with two other C4s, the LOUIS MC HENRY HOWE, b.) TOM M GIRDLER and MOUNT MANSFIELD, b.) CHARLES M. WHITE, to the Maryland Dry Dock Co., Baltimore, Maryland, February 1951, to be converted to a Great Lakes bulk carrier according to plans designed by J.J. Henry & Co., New York, New York.

Wolf & Davidson of Milwaukee sold the JIM SHERIFFS (wooden propeller, 182 foot, 634 gross tons, built in 1883 at Milwaukee, Wisconsin) to Kelley Island Line on 19 February 1887.

February 18:
IMPERIAL ST CLAIR participated in an historic special convoy with DOAN TRANSPORT, which carried caustic soda, led by C.C.G.S. GRIFFON arriving at Thunder Bay, Ontario. on February 18, 1977. The journey took one week from Sarnia, Ontario through Lake Superior ice as much as six feet thick, and at one point it took four days to travel 60 miles. The trip was initiated to supply residents of the Canadian Lakehead with 86,000 barrels of heating oil the reserves of which were becoming depleted due to severe weather that winter.

The JOSEPH S YOUNG (1) was towed to the Great Lakes via the Mississippi River and arrived at the Manitowoc Ship Building Co., Manitowoc, Wisconsin on February 18, 1957, where her self unloading equipment was installed. This was the last large vessel to enter the Lakes via the Mississippi. She was the first of seven T-2 tanker conversions for Great Lakes service.

The Murphy fleet was sold on 18 February 1886. The tugs GLADIATOR, KATE WILLIAMS and BALIZE went to Captain Maytham, the tug WILLIAM A MOORE to Mr. Grummond, the schooner GERRIT SMITH to Captain John E. Winn, and the tug ANDREW J SMITH to Mr. Preston Brady.

February 17:
In heavy weather on February 17, 1981, the WITSUPPLY, b.) TRANSTREAM foundered in the Caribbean Sea off Cabo de la Vela, Colombia. She was being towed to the scrap yard at Cartagena, Columbia when she sank.

February 17, 1977 - The CITY OF MIDLAND 41 shortly after departing Ludington encountered a heavy ridge of ice that snapped all the blades off her starboard propeller. One of the blades ripped a hole two feet long by three inches wide which caused the 41 to take on water, but pumps were able to keep her afloat. SPARTAN came out to free her but also became mired in the ice. On February 18 the cutter MACKINAW freed them.

February 16:
The EDWIN H GOTT sailed on her maiden voyage February 16, 1979, in ballast from Milwaukee, bound for Two Harbors, Minnesota. This was the first maiden voyage of a laker ever in mid-winter. She was in convoy with three of her fleet mates; CASON J CALLAWAY, PHILIP R CLARKE and JOHN G MUNSON, each needing assistance from the U.S.C.G.C. MACKINAW to break through heavy ice 12 to 14 inches thick the length of Lake Superior. The GOTT took part in a test project, primarily by U.S. Steel, to determine the feasibility of year around navigation.

The JAMES E FERRIS was launched February 16, 1910, as the ONTARIO (4) (Hull#71) at Ecorse, Michigan by Great Lakes Engineering Works.

On February 16, 1977, a four hour fire caused major damage to the crews' forward quarters aboard the W W HOLLOWAY while at American Ship Building's Chicago yard.

February 16, 1939 - The state ferry CHIEF WAWATAM was fast in the ice in the Straits of Mackinac. She freed herself the next day and proceeded to St. Ignace.

The little tug JAMES ANDERSON burned on Long Lake near Alpena, Michigan on the morning of 16 February 1883. Arson was suspected.

Data from: Joe Barr, Dave Swayze, Brian Bernard, Max Hanley, Jody Aho, Mike Nicholls, Father Dowling Collection, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series. Marine Historical Society of Detroit. This is a small sample, the books includes many other vessels with a much more detailed history


Stelco sorts bids for new ownership

The bidding for Stelco Inc. enters a new phase as the company starts poring over individual bids reaching nearly $2 billion for the legally insolvent steel giant.

Stelco has stopped accepting bids and will likely take a few weeks before its board announces a winner for the company, which lost $563 million in 2003 but saw its fortunes turn around dramatically last year. Stelco, Canada's biggest steel maker in terms of shipments, would then need to seek court approval since the company has been operating for more than a year under protection from creditors. If creditors and other stakeholders get their investments back and don't face any concessions, they could not hold up approval.

Hamilton-based Stelco gained protection in January last year after the company indicated it could no longer pay its bills. But the restructuring took an unusual twist and triggered an auction after the company reported profits of $100 million in the second and third quarters.

That has attracted interest from several bidders including heavyweights OAO Severstal of Russia and U.S. Steel Corp. south of the border. Severstal, which has eyed Stelco for more than a year, initially said it would bid more than $1 billion and sources confirmed the value of the formal offer would exceed $1.7 billion. The Russian steel giant, trying to extend its might abroad, bought bankrupt Rouge Industries Inc. in the United States for $285 million (U.S.) in 2003.

The United Steelworkers of America, which represents Stelco's production employees, suggested earlier this week that it was leaning toward Severstal after reaching "an understanding" over union concerns.

Reported by The Toronto Star


Port Report

Goderich, ON
Reported by Dale Baechler:
The Canadian Progress arrived Tuesday evening to take on a load at Sifto Salt. This appears to be one for the record books as the previous late season arrival was February 14. She was due to start loading Wednesday morning and will depart sometime in the evening. It's quite an unusual sight to have the lake and harbour completely ice free at this time of the year.


Lay-up List - News Photo Gallery Updated

Click to visit the 11th Annual Lay-Up List
Please send any updates, corrections or new information to

News Photo Gallery updated. 


Ferry John J. Marchi headed for drydocking

The arrival of the new Staten Island ferryboat Sen. John J. Marchi ­ built in Marinette, Wis. ­ in New York harbor will be delayed until the end of March because the boat will be put into dry dock near Providence, R.I., to repair paint damage on its hull.

The unfinished Marchi was rushed out of the Marinette Marine Corp. shipyard in early December, so it could cross the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway before the waterways iced over.

An underwater inspection of the Marchi in Providence revealed the relatively minor scraping damage, which likely occurred during the boat's transit through icy waters en route to the East Coast, according to Staten Island Ferry chief Capt. James DeSimone. While the vessel's bottom paint is being touched up, Senesco Marine in Rhode Island, will also inspect one of the Marchi's rudder bearings.

Reported by: The Staten Island Advance


Inland Sea Maritime Museum plans move to Lorain

The Inland Seas Maritime Museum is moving to Lorain whether or not an Indian casino is part of the development around its new home at the mouth of the
Black River, Chris Gillcrist, executive director for the Great Lakes Historical Society's museum, told the Lorain Morning Journal Tuesday,

The museum's new home was revealed at a meeting Monday morning when Lorain officials and the Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma announced plans for a Las Vegas-style gambling casino at the site of the former Lorain Pellet Terminal.
Gillcrist said the move to Lorain was under consideration before there were any plans for a casino.

The museum's 27-member board of directors unanimously voted on Sunday to move the museum out of its 53-year-old lakefront location at 480 Main St. in
Vermilion and build a $13 million state-of-the-art museum on 2.5 acres of the former pellet terminal site, said Frank Samsel, the board's president.

The time frame for building the new museum would depend on the success of fund-raising, Gillcrist said. There is no time frame for the casino, either, officials said, because the project hinges on state approval of the type of gambling envisioned there.

The museum, which is dedicated to preserving the history of the Great Lakes and its shipping industry, currently has 7,000 square feet of exhibit space, but doesn't have room to display a lot of its artifacts, Samsel said.

''Our current facilities aren't adequate,'' Samsel said yesterday. ''We're sort of at our wit's end and have been considering to move because we just don't have the space to be an effective museum.''

Pending Lorain City Council approval, the city likely would donate the land to the Great Lakes Historical Society and enter into a long-term lease with
the society so the city still would have control of the land, according to Mayor Craig Foltin.

The Great Lakes Historical Society currently owns the lakefront building that houses its collections, and hopes to use it as leverage as part of its fund-raising drive for the new museum, according to Gillcrist. The museum needs to have some roof repairs done and also needs a new boiler and other repairs done to the building, according to Gillcrist.

In the state's next capital funding budget in 2006, the museum likely would request funding for various fixtures for the new museum such as for exhibits or equipment that visitors at the museum could use, Gillcrist said.

Reported by: the Lorain Morning Journal


Coast Guard Station Kenosha wins national award

The crew of Coast Guard Station Kenosha is the winners of the prestigious Kimball Award for exceptional search and rescue proficiency and boat readiness for stations with 41-foot rescue boats.


Lt. Cmdr. Kevin Hanson  the executive officer of group Milwaukee will be presenting the award to the crew of Station Kenosha Wednesday morning (February 9th) at 9 a.m.


The award is named after Sumner I. Kimball who founded the U.S. Life Saving Service, the forerunner for the Coast Guard, in 1878. The Kimball Award was established in 2001 as a way to recognize a unit’s achievement of high operational readiness.


“I could not be any more proud of my crew,” said Chief Petty Officer Jim Ellison, officer-in-charge. “This award simply tells others what I’ve known all along, that the crew at Station Kenosha is among the Coast Guard’s elite.”


During the three-day assessment from the Yorktown, Virginia-based standardization team, Station Kenosha successfully completed a series of rigorous boat crew evaluations. They received perfect scores for underway search and rescue drills. They also scored among the top Coast Guard units on the written exam. Finally, the material and engineering condition of the station’s rescue boat was scrutinized and found to be exemplary.


Stations are evaluated every two years. As the Kimball Award was designed to recognize the top 10 percent of all Coast Guard search and rescue stations, this honor is a direct reflection of the outstanding leadership and dedication of the crew at Coast Guard Station Kenosha.


Reported by: U.S. Coast Guard



DeTour Reef Lighthouse Benefit Set
The 6th annual lighthouse benefit "An Evening Under the Stars," at Bayside Dining at the Drummond Island Resort & Conference Center on Drummond Island, has been set for Saturday, July 2 at 6 p.m. Sponsored by the DeTour Reef Light Preservation Society, tickets are $100 per person and includes a gourmet dinner, music, art and great ambiance. A portion of the ticket is tax deductible as allowed by law. For reservations, please contact DRLPS at, 906-493-6711.
Reported by DRLPS

Soo Locks Message Boards
The Soo Locks Visitor Center Association has announced that the Corps of Engineers has installed two electric signs at the Locks complex to report expected vessel transits. A larger sign is expected soon. These signs are operational all hours, even if the Visitors' Center is not open.
Reported by: Dave Wobser

Lake Carriers' Association Site Updates
Technical problems have delayed additions to Lake Carriers’ Association’s Web site ( recently, but they have been resolved and a number of cargo reports have been added to the site.
Reported by: Lake Carriers' Association


Lay-up List Updated

Click to visit the 11th Annual Lay-Up List
Please send any updates, corrections or new information to


Today in Great Lakes History

February 15:
In 1961, the HARRY R JONES, a.) D G KERR arrived at her final port of Troon, Scotland where she was cut up for scrap the same year.

February 14:
The MESABI MINER (Hull#906) was launched on this day in 1977, at Lorain, Ohio by American Ship Building Co. becoming the fourth thousand foot bulk carrier on the Great Lakes and Interlake's second. She had been built under Title XI of the Merchant Marine Act of 1970 at a cost of $45.1 million.

Ford Motor Co., looking to expand its fleet, purchased the JOSEPH S WOOD on February 14, 1966, for $4.3 million

On February 14, 1973, the LEADALE's forward cabins burned during winter lay-up at Hamilton, Ontario and were later repaired.

February 13:
The POINTE NOIRE was launched February 13, 1926, as a.) SAMUEL MATHER (4) (Hull#792) at Lorain, Ohio by the American Ship Building Co.

February 13, 1897 - The PERE MARQUETTE (later named PERE MARQUETTE 15) arrived in Ludington on her maiden voyage. Captain Joseph "Joe" Russell in command.

February 12:
RED WING (2) was launched February 12, 1944, as a.) BOUNDBROOK (Hull#335) at Chester, Pennsylvania by Sun Shipbuilding & Drydock Co.

February 11:
On 11 February 1994, the tug MARY E HANNAH and an empty fuel barge became trapped in the ice in the Pelee Passage on Lake Erie.  The vessels were freed by the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter NEAH BAY and the Canadian Coast Guard Ice Breaker SAMUEL RISLEY.

The E B BARBER (Hull#111) was launched in 1953, at Port Arthur, Ontario by Port Arthur Ship Building Co. Ltd.

The NIXON BERRY was sold to Marine Salvage for scrap on in 1970, she was the former MERTON E FARR.

BEN W CALVIN (Hull#388) was launched in 1911, at Lorain, Ohio by American Ship Building Co..

The keel was laid for the ROY A JODREY (Hull#186) on February 11, 1965, at Collingwood, Ontario by Canadian Shipbuilding & Engineering Co. Ltd..

The tanker IMPERIAL CORNWALL was retired on February 11, 1971.

Albert Edgar Goodrich, the founder of the Goodrich Steamboat Line, was born in Hamburg, New York, near Buffalo on 11 February 1826.

February 10:
UHLMANN BROTHERS (2) was launched February 10, 1906, as a.) LOFTUS CUDDY (Hull#341) at Lorain, Ohio by American Ship Building Co.

The MARKHAM (Twin Screw Hopper Suction Dredge) was delivered February 10, 1960, to the Army Corps of Engineers at Cleveland, Ohio.

In 1998, the Ludington Daily News reported that a private investment group (later identified as Hydrolink) was planning to start cross-lake ferry service from Muskegon, Michigan to Milwaukee running two high-speed ferries.

On 10 February 1890, NYANZA (wooden propeller freighter, 280 foot, 1888 gross tons) was launched at F. W. Wheeler's yard (Hull #63) in W. Bay City, Michigan by West Bay City Ship Building Co.. In 1916, she was renamed LANDBO and she lasted until abandoned in 1920.

In 1975, a fire onboard the CRISPIN OGLEBAY caused $100,000 damage to the conveyor and tunnel while she was laid-up at Toledo.

February 9:
EAGLESCLIFFE, loaded with 3,500 tons of grain, sank two miles east of Galveston, Texas on February 9, 1983, after the hull had fractured from a grounding the previous day. She began taking on water in her forward end en route to Galveston. To save her the captain ran her into shallow water where she settled on the bottom in 20 feet of water with her bridge and boat deck above water. All 16 crewmembers and one dog were rescued.

The ALEXANDER LESLIE was launched February 9, 1901, as a.) J T HUTCHINSON (Hull#405) at Cleveland, Ohio by American Ship Building Co.

The HOMER D WILLIAMS suffered extensive fire damage to her side plating and forward lower cabins during her lay-up at Toledo, Ohio on February 9, 1971. The fire was started by a spark from welding that caused the tarpaulins stored in the hold to catch fire.

February 9, 1995 - The founder of Lake Michigan Carferry, Charles Conrad, died at the age of 77.

In 1899, JOHN V MORAN (wooden propeller package freighter, 214 foot, 1350 gross tons, built in 1888 at W. Bay City, Michigan by F. W. Wheeler & Co. (Hull#44) was cut by the ice and developed a severe leak during a mid-winter run on Lake Michigan. The iron passenger/package freight steamer NAOMI rescued the crew from the sinking vessel. The MORAN was last seen on the afternoon of 12 February 1899, drifting with the ice about 20 miles off Muskegon, Michigan. She was a combination bulk and package freighter with hatches in her flanks as well as on her deck.

Data from: Joe Barr, Dave Swayze, Brian Bernard, Max Hanley, Jody Aho, Mike Nicholls, Father Dowling Collection, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series. Marine Historical Society of Detroit. This is a small sample, the books includes many other vessels with a much more detailed history


Shipping industry objects to Bush's Seaway toll proposal

President Bush's proposal to make the St. Lawrence Seaway a maritime tollway received an icy reception on the Great Lakes.

"It could be devastating for shipping throughout the Great Lakes," said John Baker, president of the Great Lakes District Council of the International Longshoremen's Association.

If enacted, the toll system is expected to generate about$8 million annually -- covering about half of the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corp.'s budget. But increased fees could drive foreign ships away from the Great Lakes, warned Adolph Ojard, executive director of the Duluth Seaway Port Authority and president of the American Great Lakes Ports Association.

"We're at a very critical juncture in the Seaway's development, and this certainly sends the wrong message at the wrong time," he said. "We have the ability to grow Seaway traffic at a time when much of the nation's other transportation infrastructure is already stretched to the limit. It could relieve some of the pressure being placed on our rail and highway systems. We should be talking about adding traffic, and instead, we're talking about adding expenses," Ojard said. "It's poor transportation policy."

Congressman James Oberstar, D-Chisholm, shares Ojard's concern.

"For a president who promised no tax increases, this administration has demonstrated an uncanny ability to find new fees to charge," he said. "They've shown an extraordinary ability to fuzz the issue."

Baker predicts new tolls probably would cause the loss of hundreds of waterfront jobs while also reducing farmers' ability to access foreign markets and driving up shipping rates for other modes of transportation.

"I think it would hurt a lot of people," Baker said.

It's already difficult to attract ships to the St. Lawrence Seaway system, said Dan Sydow, manager of Fedmar International, a Duluth ship's agent. The cost of pilot fees for salties, the distance they must travel to reach the far end of Lake Superior and size limitations related to the Seaway's lock system already make it a challenge to bring vessels to the Twin Ports.

"Of course, anything that would increase costs is abhorrent to me," Sydow said.

Ojard also questioned whether it's fair to levy new fees on carriers. He said ship operators already pay a harbor-maintenance tax that's based on the amount of cargo they carry. Proceeds from that tax are supposed to be used to maintain and operate the Seaway system.

"If they're going to establish a totally new fee system and continue to charge the harbor-maintenance tax, that's double taxation," Ojard said.

If Bush has his way, it won't be the first time ships on the Seaway have faced tolls. When the harbor-maintenance tax took effect in 1986, it replaced a toll system. The harbor-maintenance tax has proven to be a more-than-sufficient funding mechanism, Oberstar said. By the end of fiscal 2006, the fund is projected to have a surplus of $459 million.

"This administration wants to horde that trust fund to make the deficit look smaller," Oberstar said. "Little does it matter to them that this cost-sensitive waterway would immediately feel the negative effects of this change."

Sydow said that if tolls return, the government ought to eliminate the harbor-maintenance tax.

Bush's budget is still a long way from becoming reality, but with Republicans holding sway in the House and Senate, Ojard said the president's proposal must be taken seriously. People throughout the maritime community are beginning to mobilize an effort to block the plan, he said.

The proposal can be stopped, Baker said, "But we all need to get together and speak with a unified voice."

Oberstar, ranking Democrat on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said he'll work to keep new tolls away from the Seaway. He expects the proposal to meet with strong and broad opposition.

Reported by Peter Passi, Duluth News Tribune


Bush wants to increase tolls on ships using St. Lawrence Seaway

The U.S. administration hopes to raise about $8 million next year in new tolls on ships passing through the St. Lawrence Seaway, a move the Great Lakes shipping industry said Tuesday could cost them business and jobs. The budget proposed by the White House for the fiscal year beginning in October calls for a new toll system to be placed on the U.S. portion of the shipping route. The goal is to raise some $8 million, or one-half of the budget for the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corp., from the 4,000 annual one-way commercial trips through the locks.

"It's premature to say what those tolls would be, because first Congress would have to pass a law that would allow us to collect tolls again," said Seaway Development Corp. administrator Albert Jacquez.

The government's plan calls for the Development Corp.'s entire $16-million budget to eventually be paid for by a combination of tolls, pleasure-craft user fees and other revenue from property-leasing deals. U.S. officials have not charged tolls to commercial shippers on the lock system since 1986 but Canadian authorities, who operate the system jointly with the United States, have continued to charge fees.

New U.S. tolls would have to be negotiated with Canadian officials to determine each country's share of the revenue. The United States manages two of the 13 locks along the route. Jacquez said the United States would like to make its seaway operations more like their Canadian counterparts.

"I think the administration is looking to go back to the corporation's initial intent. If you look across the border you see an almost completely self-sufficient entity," said Jacquez.

Steve Fisher, executive director of the American Great Lakes Ports Association, said the proposed tolls would force Great Lakes shippers to pay double for using the seaway, which has been paid for in the past through a harbour-maintenance tax. That tax, assessed on all shippers based on cargo tonnage, was created in 1986 to pay for harbour-dredging and navigation infrastructure, which was to include the seaway.

"We're essentially being hit by two user fees for the same thing," Fisher said. "It's double taxation from our perspective."

The tolls would significantly raise the cost of doing business on the Great Lakes and could put manufacturers and farmers in the U.S. Midwest, who export their products through the Great Lakes, at a disadvantage, Fisher said.

"It also has the potential to divert cargo from our ports to other ports on the East Coast or Gulf and that translates into a loss of a lot of jobs," he said.

U.S. Representative Steve LaTourette, co-chairman of the congressional Great Lakes Task Force, said he opposes the proposed tolls and will fight in Congress to stop the administration's plan.

"This is an ill-conceived cash-grab that could devastate Great Lakes shipping," said LaTourette, an Ohio Republican.

The seaway system of channels and locks first opened in 1959, stretching 3,700 kilometres to link the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean. The move to restore U.S. tolls comes amid a larger debate over the seaway's future. The shipping industry has been pushing for a major widening and modernization project, which would likely cost billions of dollars. Shippers argue without a widening effort, traffic will fade away as more international freight is carried in giant ships too big to fit in the seaway.

Environmental groups and a taxpayer watchdog organization claim such a project would harm the surrounding areas and threaten the ecosystems of the lakes.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said Great Lakes ports move more than 180 million tonnes of cargo a year, providing about 67,000 jobs and generating about $5 billion US in annual income.

Reported by The Canadian Press / CBC News


Turkish Company Interested in Spirit of Ontario

Istanbul Fast Ferries Co. Inc., a company formed by the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, is interested in buying the high-speed ferry Spirit of Ontario and moving it around the world to Istanbul, Turkey.

Four representatives, including the company's general manager, were expected to tour the vessel Thursday morning, according to a story in the Rochester
Democrat & Chronicle.

The visit by the Istanbul company sets up potentially serious competition to the city of Rochester's plan to return the ferry to service on Lake Ontario.

The Spirit of Ontario ran between Rochester and Toronto for less than three months last year before the private operator shut it down because of financial problems. Feldman has ordered that the ship be sold at a Feb. 28 auction to help repay creditors.

Speculation within the ferry industry is that there may be several bidders at the auction. There aren't many similar ships on the used market now, and the Spirit of Ontario, which originally cost about $42.5 million to build, is practically new. In addition, the value of the euro is relatively high against the U.S. dollar now, and that could be an incentive for foreigners to bid.

Reported by the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, Jason Leslie


DeTour Lighthouse Group Plans St. Marys River Cruise

Reservations are now being accepted for an annual St. Marys River Cruise on Father's Day, Sunday, June 19, to see lighthouses, old coal docks, freighters and breathtaking scenic beauty. Sponsored by the DeTour Reef Light Preservation Society, the eighth annual cruise leaves DeTour Village at 10:25 a.m. for a narrated trip to the newly-restored DeTour Reef Lighthouse and then up the historic St. Marys River and through the Soo Locks. Passengers return to DeTour Village at 6:30 p.m. from Sault Ste Marie via chartered bus. The cost is $90 per person, which includes donuts, lunch, and beverage (children 5 and under free). Cash bar available.

Contact, or call 906-493-6711 for reservations.

Reported by DRLPS


Lay-up List - News Photo Gallery Updated

Click to visit the 11th Annual Lay-Up List
Please send any updates, corrections or new information to

News Photo Gallery updated. 


N.M. Paterson Ends Thunder Bay Operations

The former N.M. Paterson and Sons company has closed its Thunder Bay operations.

Now named Paterson GlobalFood, Inc., the company, with its headquarters in Winnipeg, serves as the hub of an integrated network of international agri-food and related businesses, headed by president and CEO Andrew Paterson, a grandson of Norman McLeod Paterson who formed the company in 1908.

Donald Paterson — former CEO of the company’s marine division — is chairman of the board of directors.

Paterson's marine division closed after their ship Windoc sustained $8-10 million in damage in a collision with a lift bridge in the Welland Canal in 2001. A Transportation Safety Board report put the blame on an impaired worker manning the bridge, who lowered it early.

The company moved out of the shipping business and sold its remaining ships.

Andrew Paterson said shipping made up just 15 per cent of the company’s business, and it was a “tough” business to be in.

“Our strength has always been in grain,” Paterson said.

He said the Thunder Bay offices closed, and former shareholders in Thunder Bay are “no longer” involved.

“We have new directors and new expertise,” he said, adding N.M. Paterson was originally formed in Manitoba.

Reported by The Chronicle-Herald and Tom Stewart


Port Reports

Goderich, ON
Reported by Dale Baechler:
The Canadian Progress arrived in Goderich for the second time in as many days Sunday afternoon.  She arrived this time minus the CCGS Samuel Risley escort due to the very light ice conditions. She was assisted to the Sifto Salt dock by the MacDonald Marine tug service.  If the Progress is able to make a couple of more runs she will probably set a new record for the latest entry into port.


Lighthouse photo gallery updated

Updates to the Lighthouse Photo Gallery

Lake Superior:
Gros Cap
Porphyry Point
Trowbridge Island
Pie Island
Angus Island


Lake Erie:
Cedar Point
Sandusky Harbor

St. Lawrence River:
Windmill Point

If you have pictures, information or updates that you would like to contribute, please forward them to


Lay-up List Updated

Click to visit the 11th Annual Lay-Up List
Please send any updates, corrections or new information to


Today in Great Lakes History

February 8:
While in lay-up on February 8, 1984, a fire broke out in the WILLIAM G MATHER's after accommodations killing a vagrant from Salt Lake City, Utah who had started the fire that caused considerable damage to the galley.

On 8 February 1902, ETRURIA (steel propeller freighter, 414 foot, 4653 gross tons) was launched at W. Bay City, Michigan by West Bay City Ship Building Co. (Hull#604). She was built for the Hawgood Transit Company of Cleveland but only lasted three years. She sank in 1905, after colliding with the steamer AMASA STONE in the fog off Presque Isle Light in Lake Huron.

February 7:
The HURON (4) (Hull#132) was launched February 7, 1914, at Ecorse, Michigan by Great Lakes Engineering Works.

In 1973, the ENDERS M. VOORHEES closed the Soo Locks downbound.

In 1974, the ROGER BLOUGH closed the Poe Lock after she locking down-bound for Gary, Indiana.

February 6:
On 06 February 1952, the LIMESTONE (steel propeller tug, 87 foot10 inches) was launched at Bay City, Michigan by the Defoe Shipyard (Hull #4230) for the Michigan Limestone and Chemical Company.  Later she was sold to U.S. Steel and in 1983, to Gaelic Tug Company who renamed her b.) WICKLOW.  She is currently owned by the Great Lakes Towing Company and is named c.) NORTH CAROLINA.

The LORNA P, a.) CACOUNA was damaged by fire at Sorel, Quebec which was ignited by a welder's torch on February 6, 1974.

ALVA C DINKEY (Hull#365) was launched February 6, 1909, at Lorain, Ohio by American Ship Building Co.

The HALLFAX (Hull#526) was launched February 6, 1962, at Port Glasgow, Scotland by William Hamilton & Co. Ltd.

On February 6, 1904, the PERE MARQUETTE 19 went aground on Fox Point, Wisconsin approaching Milwaukee in fog. Engulfed in ice and fog, she quickly filled with water.

On 06 February 1885, Capt. William Bridges of Bay City and A. C. Mc Lean of East Saginaw purchased the steamer D W POWERS (wooden propeller freighter, 140 foot, 303 gross tons, built in 1871 at Marine City, Michigan) for the lumber trade. This vessel had an interesting rebuild history. In 1895, she was rebuilt as a schooner-barge in Detroit, then in 1898, she was again rebuilt as a propeller driven steamer. She lasted until 1910 when she was abandoned.

February 5:
The ASHLAND in a critically leaking condition barely made Mamonel, Colombia on February 5, 1988, where she was scrapped.

February 5, 1870 - Captain William H. Le Fleur of the Pere Marquette carferry fleet, known as "the Bear" was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

On February 5, 1976, the carferry WOLFE ISLANDER III was inaugurated into service between Kingston and Wolfe Island Ontario. The Minister of Transportation, the Honourable James Snow, headed the list of officials attending the ceremony. Speakers included Keith Norton, MPP for Kingston and the Islands, Wolfe Island Reeve Timothy D. O'Shea and Mayor George Speal of Kingston. Later that night, two blocks over, a Kingston resident noticed the captain turning off the running lights of the 'ol WOLFE ISLANDER as she joined her already winterized sister, the UPPER CANADA.

February 4:
The two sections of the a) WILLIAM J DE LANCEY, b.) PAUL R TREGURTHA) were joined at Lorain, Ohio by American Ship Building Co. and float-launched on February 4, 1981, (Hull #909).

February 4, 1904 - Captain Russell of the PERE MARQUETTE 17 reported that Lake Michigan was frozen all the way to Manitowoc.

On 04 February 1870, the Port Huron Weekly Times reported that “a Montreal company has purchased all the standing timber on Walpole Island Indian Reservation [on the St. Clair River…] A large force of men are employed in hewing, cutting and delivering the same on the banks of the river in readiness for shipment… The proceeds of the sale of timber on Walpole Island will probably amount to $18,000 to $20,000, to be distributed among the Indians of the island to improve their farms.”

In 1977, the ROGER BLOUGH arrived at the American Shipbuilding Company in Lorain, Ohio for winter layup and a 5-year hull inspection. She had departed South Chicago after unloading on Jan 25th and the trip took 10 days due to weather and heavy ice.

February 3:
In 1960, the Ludington Daily News reported that the S.S. AVALON, formerly the S.S. VIRGINIA, had been sold to Everett J. Stotts of Artesia, California.

On 03 February 1899, the steamer GEORGE FARWELL (wooden propeller freighter, 182 foot, 977 gross tons, built in 1895 at Marine City, Michigan) burned while laid up near Montreal, Quebec. She had just been taken from the Great Lakes by her new owners, the Manhattan Transportation Company, for the Atlantic coastal coal trade, The loss was valued at $50,000 and was fully covered by insurance. The vessel was repaired and lasted until 1906 when she was lost near Cape Henry, Virginia.

February 2:
On February 2, 1981, the ARTHUR SIMARD grounded in the St. Lawrence River on her way from Montreal to Sept Iles, Quebec with a cargo of diesel oil and suffered extensive bottom damage.

The SAMUEL MATHER (6), a.) PILOT KNOB (1) (Hull#522) had her keel laid February 2, 1942, at Ashtabula, Ohio by Great Lakes Engineering Works.

February 2, 1939 - The CHIEF WAWATAM went to the shipyard to have a new forward shaft and propeller placed.

February 1:
On 01 February 1871, the SKYLARK (wooden propeller steamer, 90 tons, built in 1857) was purchased by the Goodrich Transportation Company from Thomas L. Parker for $6,000.

On February 1, 1990, the U.S.C.G.C. MESQUITE was officially decommissioned.

The steamer R J GORDON was sold to M. K. Muir of Detroit on 1 February 1883.

In 1904, the ANN ARBOR NO 1 found the rest of the fleet stuck in the ice outside Manitowoc. She made several attempts to break them loose, she became stuck there herself with the others for 29 days.

In 1917, the ANN ARBOR NO 6 (later ARTHUR K ATKINSON) arrived Frankfort, Michigan on her maiden voyage. The entire town turned out to welcome her.

On 1 February 1886, Captain Henry Hackett died in Amherstburg, Ontario at the age of 65. He and his brother, J. H. Hackett, organized the Northwestern Transportation Company in 1869.

In 1972, the ENDERS M VOORHEES locked through the Poe Lock downbound, closing the Soo Locks for the season.

Data from: Joe Barr, Dave Swayze, Brian Bernard, Max Hanley, Jody Aho, Mike Nicholls, Father Dowling Collection, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series. Marine Historical Society of Detroit. This is a small sample, the books includes many other vessels with a much more detailed history


Thanks to Settlement, Ferry Purchase Can Move Ahead

A federal magistrate judge announced a major settlement Thursday that ends the possibility of Rochester's private ferry company suing the city and clears the way for the municipality to buy the Spirit of Ontario at an upcoming foreclosure auction.

The agreement effectively signals the end of Canadian American Transportation Systems, the company that brought the much-anticipated ferry service to Rochester last year only to shut it down after less than three months, according to a story in the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle.

The settlement < which involves the city, CATS and Australian financial backers calls for concessions by the company and big financial payouts by the city to head off potential lawsuits.

The deal was important because it prohibits CATS from interfering with the Feb. 28 auction and requires the company to cooperate with the city, which wants to buy the ship and turn the private service into a publicly run operation. CATS had threatened to sue the city, a move that could have led to years of costly litigation and muddied the auction.

As a part of the deal, the city would honor all outstanding tickets and do so even if the ticket price increases. CATS would voluntarily terminate its lease at the terminal and transfer some of its property to the city.

The ship must be sold at an auction instead of the city buying it outright from CATS to make sure it is clear of any maritime liens.

Rochester Mayor William A. Johnson Jr. said the city still has one major obstacle actually buying the ship at the auction. The minimum bid has been set at $22.5 million. It's unclear whether there are any others seriously interested in buying the vessel.

The Export Finance and Insurance Corp., an arm of the Australian government, has agreed to lend up to $40 million to the city for the purchase. The city has created a limited liability company ­ The Rochester Ferry Co. ­ to oversee the process and operation.

Reported by the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle

A related news item (from the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle by staff writer Rick Armon dated Feb. 2, 2005):

A Canadian businessman who wants to bring a hovercraft to Lake Ontario says Rochester officials are ignoring his proposal as they pursue plans to start their own high-speed ferry service.

"Why aren't they talking to us?" asked Dale Wilson, vice president of Hover Transit Services of Bolton, Ontario. "Why aren't we sitting down at a table?"

HTS wants to link cities on Lake Ontario, including Toronto, Rochester and Oswego, with a hovercraft — a high-speed vessel that rides above the water. Wilson said Tuesday that the company has secured nearly all the money needed to buy a ship and start the service. But investors are ready to walk away from the $8 million project because of the lackluster response from Rochester, he said.

City officials are focused on buying the Spirit of Ontario — the high-speed ferry that ran between Rochester and Toronto for less than three months last year before shutting down because of financial problems. The private ship, which now sits at the Port of Rochester, will be sold at a foreclosure auction Feb. 28.

The city plan involves creating a limited liability company, buying the vessel and turning the service into a publicly run operation.

"Everyone else doesn't matter," said Wilson, who has tried to arrange meetings with city officials. "Anybody else who wants to come to the Port of Rochester should be given fair access."

City leaders could not be reached for comment. But they have said they are concentrating on resurrecting the ferry service first and would consider talking with HTS — which hasn't even bought its vessel — after the ferry is running.


Lay-up List - News Photo Gallery Updated

Click to visit the 11th Annual Lay-Up List
Please send any updates, corrections or new information to

News Photo Gallery updated.  (Paul R. Tregurtha's late season coal trip.)  

Note:  Next photo gallery should be later next week.


Oglebay Norton Emerges From Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

Oglebay Norton Company has emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, pursuant to a plan of reorganization approved by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court
for the District of Delaware on November 17, 2004.

"All of us at Oglebay Norton are very pleased to be out of Chapter 11," said Michael D. Lundin, president and chief executive officer. "We set four goals when we began this process: restructure our debt and achieve a sustainable capital structure, create the most value for creditors, preserve the business, and emerge in an expedited manner. We believe we have accomplished all these. On behalf of the board of directors and management, I would like to extend my gratitude to our employees for their hard work and dedication and to our customers, vendors, lenders and advisors for their support during the process."

He continued, "We are now able to devote our full attention to running the business and executing our strategic plan. The strategy is based on our core competencies of extracting, processing and providing aggregate and industrial minerals. We are confident in our ability to implement this strategy and return Oglebay Norton to its position as one of the best companies in the aggregate and industrial minerals industry."

He added that management remains in active discussions to sell all or portions of the company's mica operations.

Under the plan of reorganization, the claims of trade creditors will be paid in full, as will the claims of other general unsecured creditors, except for holders of the company's senior subordinated notes and holders of claims related to the sale of the MLO business to Oglebay in April 2000.

In order to emerge, the company redeemed its senior secured notes, issued new preferred stock and entered into a $310 million credit facility. Holders of the company's senior subordinated notes exchanged their notes for new common stock. Holders of the MLO claims will receive significantly reduced annual amounts paid over an extended period of time. The old common stock has been cancelled. Holders of old common stock will receive warrants entitling them to purchase new common stock. The company expects the new common stock and the new preferred stock will trade on the OTC Bulletin Board.

According to the plan, Michael D. Lundin and John P. O'Brien will continue as directors of the company following the effective date. All other members of the board of directors have resigned. A new board of directors has been elected.

Reported by: Oglebay Norton Co.


Ore Pellet Prices Expected to Rise Again

For the second consecutive year, iron ore pellet prices are likely to increase significantly, a sign of worldwide demand for the raw material used to make steel, according to a story in this week's Duluth News-Tribune.

Several of the world's largest iron ore producers are seeking iron ore price increases of 30 percent to 50 percent or more, according to Peter Kakela, a Michigan State University professor and iron ore industry analyst.

Officials of Minnesota's iron ore industry say a price increase would reflect a healthy market and strong demand. But some Iron Range producers already have long-term pellet-supply contracts in place that would not be affected by an international price increase, said Frank Ongaro Jr., president of the Iron Mining Association of Minnesota.

Other Iron Range mines, which provide iron ore pellets directly to a captive owner, wouldn't stand to gain much from a price increase.

Six Northeastern Minnesota taconite plants are cumulatively expected to produce about 40.6 million tons of iron ore pellets in 2005. Production expansions at United Taconite in Forbes and Northshore Mining Co. in Silver Bay, along with full-out production at Northeastern Minnesota's other four taconite plants, are major reasons behind the strong 2005 forecast.

Prices for a ton of iron ore could rise to $50 or more per ton from about $35 per ton when negotiations are complete. If iron ore prices take a steep jump, steel prices also could increase.

While an increase in international iron ore prices would benefit foreign producers, it also makes foreign ore more expensive to ship into the United States. The result is additional long-term security for North American iron ore producers that ship to Great Lakes basin steelmakers, Kakela said.


Lay-up List - News Photo Gallery Updated

Click to visit the 11th Annual Lay-Up List
Please send any updates, corrections or new information to

News Photo Gallery updated  

Note:  A separate photo page devoted to the Paul R. Tregurtha's late season coal trip will be posted in the next couple of days.


Truck ferry between Erie and Canada a go

A ferry from Erie to Canada could begin carrying tractor-trailers across Lake Erie as soon as next year, according to the head of the Erie-Western Pennsylvania Port Authority.

Authority Executive Director Ray Schreckengost said a company, Metro Machine, won't renew its lease when it ends in August, potentially giving the authority a building to use for the planned ferry between Erie and Nanticoke, Ontario.

"We're ready to go if we use the shipyard," Schreckengost said. "The cost there would be essentially nothing. That's why we're looking hard at that option."

The Port Authority has been pursuing the idea for the tractor-trailer ferry since 2003, when a Canadian transport company broached the idea.

Reported by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


Port Reports

Port Colborne, ON
Reported by Alex Howard:
Sunday afternoon, Upper Lakes vessel Canadian Transport arrived for winter lay-up at the old furnace dock in Port Colborne.  She backed in around 4 p.m. with assistance from Nadro Marine tug Seahound, which was used for ice breaking and flushing along the wall.

Sturgeon Bay, WI
Reported by Wendell Wilke:
Paul R. Tregurtha arrived Bay Ship Building in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin on Sunday for winter lay-up. The Lee A. Tregurtha was rafted to the Paul R. on Monday. This leaves only the Joseph L. Block to arrive.

Owen Sound, ON
Reported by Peter Bowers, Ed Saliwonchyk, & Torben Hawksbridge
Algosteel arrived Sunday evening and anchored in open water about two miles off Owen Sound.  The Samuel Risley arrived Monday morning to break a path into the harbor.  After breaking a path to the Algosteel's winter birth, the freighter attempted to back in but got stuck about a half mile out.  After two attempts, she was freed by the Risley.  At 1 p.m. she was stopped again about one ship length past where she had been stuck previously.  She managed to free herself and finally worked her way into the harbor by 3 p.m.  The Risley left shortly after.


'Seiche' phenomenon hits often, sometimes kills

Thousands of tourists crowded the scenic beach to enjoy a long holiday weekend, unaware of the approaching tidal wave that would sweep them into a deadly natural disaster. That was the scene one month ago, when a killer tsunami raced across the Indian Ocean and killed more than 225,000 people in South Asia.

It also was the scene on July 4, 1929, at Grand Haven State Park, when killer waves swept 10 people to their deaths on one of the deadliest holidays in West Michigan history. The culprit here was not a tsunami, but a seiche (pronounced "saysh"). Created by high winds or squall lines that exert intense downward pressure, seiches can make Lake Michigan slosh back and forth like water in a bathtub, sending powerful waves racing to the shorelines.

Most Great Lakes seiches are small and go unnoticed, but the phenomenon can trigger huge storm surges and tidal waves that quickly alter Great Lakes water levels.

"A seiche is a smaller version of a tsunami, with a different cause. A seiche is caused by wind; tsunamis are caused by earthquakes," said David Schwab, a research oceanographer at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Great Lakes office in Ann Arbor.

Tsunamis are born along the borders of the Earth's tectonic plates, where earthquakes and volcanoes are common. Because the Great Lakes are not situated near the edge of a tectonic plate, tsunamis cannot happen here, said Peter Wampler, assistant geology professor at Grand Valley State University.

Schwab said most Great Lakes seiches only produce subtle changes in lake levels. But given the right weather conditions, a seiche can unleash huge storm surges that endanger human life and coastal structures.

Seiche is a French word that means "to sway back and forth." To understand how a seiche works, blow on a bowl of soup. The tiny waves hit one side of the bowl and reverberate to the other side. A seiche works the same way, but on lakes that span thousands of square miles.

Though less powerful than tsunamis, seiches can strike quickly and with deadly consequences.

That's precisely what happened in 1929, when 45,000 people gathered at Grand Haven State Park on Independence Day. An early morning storm spawned a seiche that kicked up large waves; one swept a 16-year-old Grand Rapids girl off the breakwater and into Lake Michigan, where she drowned.

A second seiche swept across the lake about five hours later, unleashing a wall of water that lashed the Grand Haven beach with 20-foot waves and a powerful undertow that pulled nine more people to their deaths.

"It was a quick and nasty sea," according to a U.S. Coast Guard captain at the scene who was quoted in The Chronicle the next day. "For a short squall, it was one of the worst I've ever seen. Due to the general high water, there were times when the blue sea rolled over the pier, completely submerging the concrete abutments at times." Edward Peters, who operated a bath house at the beach, called the waves "the biggest summer sea I've ever seen."

Bob Beaton, a longtime Grand Haven resident and surfer, said the scariest thing about seiches is that they can strike when the lake is calm.

"Some of the deadliest seiche incidents have happened on calm days," said Beaton, who has spent years researching seiches and is a member of the Great Lakes Beach and Pier Safety Task Force.

Seiches also create fierce rip currents below the surface when the lake level rises and then recedes rapidly. "The waves don't scare me, it's the current that drowns people," Beaton said.

Schwab said seiches are most common in Lake Erie, which is shallower than the other Great Lakes and is often buffeted by southwest winds that cause water levels to fluctuate wildly at opposite ends of the lake, in Buffalo and Toledo.

There have been several cases of seiches in Lake Michigan triggering storm surges and tidal waves that drowned swimmers, swept people off piers, damaged shoreline structures and left boats stranded in mud when the sloshing waters receded.

On July 13, 1938, a seiche caused a massive storm surge that stretched from Holland to Pentwater, according to an article in Hope College's Joint Archives Quarterly. Waves triggered by the seiche drowned three people at Holland State Park. It also triggered "freak high waves" that drowned 34-year-old Oscar Thorsen, who was swimming in the lake in Muskegon, and another man canoeing in Lake Michigan near Pentwater.

A seiche that struck Chicago without warning on a June morning in 1954 increased the lake's water level by 4 feet in just 30 minutes. The rising water was followed by a massive wave, 25 miles wide and as high as 20 feet in some areas, that swept dozens of people off piers. Eight people drowned. Schwab said the killer wave bounced off the Michigan coast before pounding Chicago, pushing water in some areas 100 feet inland of some beaches.

Two years later, a seiche triggered a 10-foot swell in Ludington that sent anglers and beachgoers scrambling for safety. The first swell knocked several anglers off the pier and pushed water 150 feet past the normal water line. The water then receded beyond the water line before a second, larger wave crashed ashore. Carol Dewyer, who operated a bait shop near the north breakwater, was quoted at the time as saying the seiche caused pandemonium on the pier and beach.

"All of a sudden a man said the water was coming in the door of the shop and everyone scrambled for high ground," Dewyer was quoted as saying. "I saw one little boy slip off the breakwater and couldn't get his footing. Then some man ran out in the waves and brought him in," Dewyer added. "All those people (on the breakwater) just threw down their poles and bait buckets and scrambled for the bank."

The storm surge was followed by a squall line that buffeted Ludington with 80 mph winds and heavy rainfall.

Seiches can slosh back and forth across the Great Lakes for hours, depending on the weather conditions. For that reason, the National Weather Service recommends people use caution when swimming in the Great Lakes or venturing out on piers before or after a squall line passes through.

The weather service issues seiche warnings when conditions are right for a storm surge on the lakes.

Beaton, who has surfed the Great Lakes since 1962, said he sees several seiches each year. His most recent encounter with a seiche came while surfing north of the Muskegon breakwater last October. "I see evidence of seiches in Lake Michigan pretty often," he said. "They're not big very often, but I've seen the lake go up or down by a foot in a matter of 30 minutes."

Beaton said listening to weather forecasts is the only way to know if conditions are right for a seiche. He said it's impossible for a lay person to anticipate a seiche by observing the lake or approaching storms. "It's like trying to predict an earthquake," he said.

Reported by Jeff Alexander, Muskegon Chronicle


Freighter food still a draw, sailors say.   Ship steward cooks, counsels, keeps peace.

ABOARD THE WOLVERINE -- Gliding imperceptibly across the horizon, the gigantic Great Lakes freighters are dark, silent, massive and imposing. Yet everyone from ship captain down to deckhand will tell you there is a warm heart beating deep within every one -- a ship steward who plays mother, psychologist and peacemaker, as well as chef.

Well before 401(k)s, HMOs and defined pension plans, the benefit that kept most crewmen coming back each year to work under tremendously harsh conditions was the food, and lots of it. And even as cutbacks reduce staffing and sometimes require long hours, crewmen still say the food is one of the top benefits of working aboard a freighter.

On a recent chilly winter day on Lake Erie aboard the Wolverine, ship steward Calvin Statham Sr. stands over a steaming platter of baby back ribs, an aromatic chicken stir fry, a kettle of hearty beef vegetable soup and crispy pizza fresh from the oven. It's lunchtime aboard Oglebay Norton's 20,000-ton capacity bulk freighter.

"If the cookin's bad ain't nothing else going to matter," said Statham, who grew up in Ft. Valley, Ga., where his family ran a barbecue joint. "You got to keep up morale, you got to pacify the captain, and you got 24 babies coming in here asking for this and asking for that. They all want a shoulder to cry on and they want the mashed potatoes the way grandmomma made 'em."

There is a long tradition of elaborate cuisine aboard Great Lakes freighters -- food that is good enough to make a rough voyage bearable, crewmen say.

"A bad steward can spoil a good crew," said Steve Pringle, 53, a wheelsman from Tomball, Texas. "There are days of monotony on these trips and sometimes the food is all you're looking forward to."

Some of the menus are so elaborate, Creative Characters Publishing Group began collecting recipes from the galleys of Great Lakes freighters several years ago and published them in "Ships of the Great Lakes Cookbook." There are also recipes from stewards aboard U.S. Coast Guard vessels.

But there is more to being a good ship steward than being a good chef. The ship steward is often the only one who sees every crewmember on a daily basis and becomes, as Statham puts it, "daddy, momma, preacher and sheriff."

"You know, it's a guy who had a fight with his wife or girlfriend, maybe just woke up on the wrong side of bed and that comes out as, 'My eggs ain't done right,' " Statham said. "Well, you just tell them to come back and they can cook 'em themselves, but you're really just figuring out what's wrong and sometimes it's just the talking."

Statham keeps up a steady banter with the crew that files into the galley. Some complain about the service, though there is a rush for Statham's baby back ribs. His beef Wellington is magnificent and he said his cornbread is just as good.

"He's a really good steward," said Capt. Terry Reynolds of the Wolverine. "But you don't have to stand here long to hear the line of" stuff "he's spilling out of his mouth. That goes a long way out here."

Reported by Associated Press / Detroit Free Press


Lighthouse photo gallery updated

Updates to the Lighthouse Photo Gallery
Lake Superior:
Crisp Point
Two Harbors
Marquette Harbor
Devil's Island
Grand Marais, MN
Grand Marais, MI
Granite Island
Portage River (Jacobsville)
Wisconsin Point
Manitou Island
Gull Rock
Huron Islands

Lake Michigan:
St. Helena Island
St. Martin Island

Lake Erie:
Buffalo Main
Buffalo Bottle Light
Erie Land
Erie Pierhead
Point Abino
Port Colborne
Horseshoe Reef
Presque Isle
Turtle Island
Port Clinton

Lake Ontario:
Tibbets Point

If you have pictures, information or updates that you would like to contribute, please forward them to


Lay-up List Updated

Click to visit the 11th Annual Lay-Up List
Please send any updates, corrections or new information to

News Archive - August 1996 to present

Return to Great Lakes & Seaway Shipping

Comments, news, and suggestions to:

Copyright 1996 - 2004 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Due to frequent updates, this page will automatically reload every half hour

Advertising through Great Laker