Great Lakes & Seaway Shipping News Archive

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River looks 'pretty good,' but ice bridge a concern

2/28 - Port Huron, Mich. – Concerns about ice jams and flooding have waned on the St. Clair River after the U.S. Coast Guard spent the week breaking ice on the waterway.

But a massive ice bridge just north of the Blue Water Bridge remains a concern. Lt. Commander Matt Merriman said if the ice bridge breaks, it could cause problems.

"The wild card is the ice bridge," he said. "If it breaks, it will cause a serious threat of flooding. "It is a big piece of ice."

For the rest of the river, though, Merriman said the ice condition is looking much better. The Coast Guards spent hundreds of hours on the river this week, breaking ice primarily near Marysville and Harsens Island.

Work continued Friday with icebreakers working the waterway near the island. Merriman said an ice plug near Marysville has been broken and most of the jamming near Harsens Island also is doing well. "Things are looking pretty good," he said.

Coast Guard officials called in three icebreakers -- the Mackinaw, Neah Bay and Mobile Bay -- to do the work. The Canadian Coast Guard ships Samuel Risley and Griffon also helped the effort.

The Mackinaw and Mobile Bay headed back to their home ports Saturday. Port Huron based Hollyhock was in the Mackinaw’s home port of Cheboygan, Mich. Saturday.

Merriman said the success came with pushing ice out of the river and into Lake St. Clair. Water levels in the lake are starting to rise again -- a few inches a day -- after lowering for several days because of the jams. "That tells me that ice jam was holding water back and the water levels are starting to equalize," Merriman said. He added of the efforts this week: "They moved a lot of ice on the river."

Port Huron Times Herald


Atlantic Huron gets new paint job in Halifax

2/28 - Atlantic Huron is due to come off the Novadock floating drydock on Sunday morning. She will then be moved as a dead ship to pier 25-26 for further fitting out. She is looking quite splendid in her new paint. As soon as the dock is clear and the blocks reset, Birchglen will be moving in for her turn.

Mac Mackay


Today in Great Lakes History - February 28

The VENUS (steel propeller bulk freighter, 346 foot, 3,719 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 rail ferry 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 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.

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


Shipping season set to begin at Escanaba

2/27 - The tug Joyce VanEnkevort and barge Great Lakes Trader, which have been in layup in Escanaba, will be taking its first load of the season out of Escanaba, Mich., the first week in March. Reports indicate Joseph L. Block will also load that week. Lee Rowe


Coast Guard cutters continuing with ice breaking efforts on the St. Clair River.

2/27 - U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Commander Matt Merriman said three ships were working in the Harsens Island area Friday in an effort to keep ice moving south in the St. Clair River.

The ships have been breaking ice in the waterway since Monday, an effort that stems from an ice plug near Marysville that is now busted.

Merriman said for the most part, the mission this week has worked. He said there are still some ice jams in the south channel near Harsens Island.

“Things are looking pretty good,” he said.

The ferry to Harsens Island reopened at 2 p.m. Friday.

Port Huron Times Herald


Contaminated portion of St. Mary's to be dredged this spring

2/27 - Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. – The United States Environmental Protection Agency will begin cleaning up another portion of the St. Marys River this spring, the last known area of significant contamination.

A public information meeting will be held at Lake Superior State University Thursday about removing sediment at MCM Marine east of the Edison Sault power canal, the site of a former manufactured gas plant.

The US$4 million project will remove 26,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment from the site.

Dredging the inner boat slip will begin in the spring, and the second phase, cleanup in the adjacent river area, is to be completed either this fall or next spring.

It's the second St. Marys River area of concern to be done under the Great Lakes Legacy Act, and the last. About 41,000 cubic yards of sediment filled with mercury and chromium were removed from a former tannery in 2007, at a cost of about US$8 million.

The Binational Public Advisory Council for the St. Mary's River will meet at LSSU's Cisler Centre, Ontario Room, at 7 p.m.

Soo Star


Retired captains swap stories of sailing the lakes

2/27 - Owen Sound, Ont. – Bruce Shepperd first shipped out of Owen Sound at 16, in 1944 aboard the Caribou.

Built in 1904, the 144-foot Owen Sound Transportation Company vessel hauled passengers, livestock and freight between Owen Sound and Manitoulin Island and as far as The Soo.

Shepperd took work as a deckhand the next year on Algoma Central's Algocen. He sailed summers, and in the winter kept ship, living with his wife aboard freighters to keep watch while also studying to move up the Algoma Central ranks.

By age 30, Shepperd made captain aboard the old Algoway. Many ships later, he retired in 1994 as commodore of Algoma Central's Great Lakes fleet.

With a keen, continuing interest, he's built a personal Great Lakes shipping museum at his home in Meaford, Ont., creates scale models of lake freighters, and keeps an eye on the the shipping industry.

"That year on the Caribou should have cured me of sailing. That was slave labour," Shepperd said as several retired and current lake ship captains gathered informally at The Downtown Bookstore Saturday to share lake stories as part of Owen Sound Museums' Marine Week.

Now 83, Shepperd once again wore the captain's uniform he first put on half a century ago. He showed around some photo printouts of Algoma Central's Algoport breaking in half and sinking last September while it was under tow to China. It was to be refurbished with a new fore-body. No one was aboard and newspaper reports at the time said the company was adequately insured.

"That's a sad sight," Shepperd said, leafing through the pictures.

The talk turned at times to the current state of Great Lakes shipping, and Owen Sound's place in the industry. The captains past and present agreed the future is bright for both, but relies on replacing the aging freighter fleet, and training enough mariners to run the boats.

Georgian College will continue to have an important and expanding role to help solve that shortage, said Captain Ray Schrempf, of Upper Lakes Shipping, who captains the bulk carrier Canadian Olympic.

With new marine simulators, Georgian is now "the best facility of its type available anywhere" for mariner training, Schrempf said, with full-time navigation and engineering programs for cadets, and upgrade sessions for working mariners, like the bridge resource management course he's currently teaching there for some of his peers. It's about avoiding accidents.

Schrempf sees a growing link with industry partners to also train entry level working mariners, both at the college and aboard ships tied up for the winter in Owen Sound. Upper Lakes has asked him to design such a training program. It's "already made up and ready to go" as soon as the economy turns around and the expected shortage of trained mariners arrives, Schrempf, who is also president of International Shipmasters Association's Georgian Bay-Huronia Lodge, said at the bookstore Saturday.

"It's a way to focus our training efforts in one place," he said. "We're anticipating that there will be a shortage of sailors once the economy gets going again. It would be a very convenient place to focus the company's strategies to train people so that when they get to a ship they'll be able to work safely and the ship will be able to work efficiently."

With 16 aging freighters, including the Canadian Transfer tied up now in Owen Sound for the winter, Upper Lakes is set to launch a replacement program. The Canadian Transfer is a mongrel, spliced together from seven different ships, Schrempf said.

"The ships are just getting too old," he said. "The industry has come to realize it's a waste of money trying to keep the old ones going, may as well put the money into new ones. It's quite exciting."

Just last week, Upper Lakes officials, including Schrempf, held a final detailed design meeting for the first new addition to the fleet since 1982.

The Canadian Mariner, under construction now in China will "go farther and faster on less fuel and with clean exhaust."

"The intention is to replace our whole fleet and this downtime in the economy makes the deals being offered by the shipyards very attractive," Schrempf said. "I wouldn't be surprised if we got one new one a year."

The informal gathering of ship's captains was the last event for Marine Week 2010.


Major revamp for Windsor-Detroit ferry dock

2/27 - Windsor, Ont. – Despite its four-month construction time frame — and November start date — by late January more than half the work had been completed at the Detroit-Windsor truck ferry dock in Windsor’s Ojibway Industrial Park.

Dredging of a deeper ferry channel had been completed. In-water dolphins — the 1.2 metre diameter drum-like posts that will carry the catwalk and support the hoist for the new on-and-off ramp to the ferry — had been submerged 30 metres up to bedrock under the Detroit River floor.

And cofferdams — the steel rectangular containers with reinforcing piles and which will be filled with concrete — had been installed at the dock’s edge. Two of them, only five metres apart on a slope, provide the support leading from the dock to the hoisted ramp.

Meanwhile the 400-metre road connecting the well used truck route Maplewood Drive to the ferry dock had a crisp new layer of gravel. A tandem roller was working its way along the surface. Underneath new storm sewers had been placed with a new drainage ditch alongside.

The Ambassador Bridge and the Windsor Detroit Tunnel are the two major crossings between Windsor and Detroit. Lesser known is the hazardous goods ferry.

Since Earth Day 1990 the ferry, a barge pushed by a tug, makes several trips a day and lately it’s been up to 14, carrying five tractor-trailers each time across the almost two-kilometre international river crossing.

The privately-run ferry carries trucks with hazardous goods which are banned by the bridge and tunnel and oversized loads.

Recently it has been carrying a lot of tower segments for wind turbines being shipped from the U.S. and destined for many southwestern Ontario wind farms under construction.

The $8.8 million project is included in $300 million of special federal-provincial infrastructure money, announced in 2005, to alleviate some of existing traffic congestion leading to the border.

The money is separate from the estimated $5 billion for the Detroit River International Crossing (DRIC), which includes an entirely new bridge, Customs plaza, and dedicated six lane below-grade freeway leading to Hwy. 401. Initial construction on the freeway part of the project began in December.

“The main in-water work, which is the most complex part of this project, is well underway,” Nino D’Alessandro, area contracts engineer for the Ministry of Transportation’s west region, says.

“The main in-water work, which is the most complex part of this project, is well underway,” according to Rakesh Shreewastav, the MTO’s senior project engineer. “And we’re working very closely to make sure it’s going on as scheduled.”

On a tour of the site, a Dean Construction Co. Ltd. crane was driving a giant corkscrew bit into the river bed to make way for a dolphin. Before the dolphins are fit for use, muck will have to be extracted, rock anchors installed and the cylinders filled with concrete. Rubber fenders will cover them.

Prior to the construction the dock site was accessible by a one lane gravel road from Maplewood Drive. This is being widened to two paved lanes with lighting.

The road will end at the dock parking lot which will be paved with clearly marked lanes.

High mast lighting — similar to that at a freeway interchange — will be installed, with conventional lighting around the perimeter.

Trucks will descend from Maplewood to a customs kiosk, which will be at the head of a concrete divider, keeping apart inbound and outbound trucks in the parking lot.

While Dean has the in-water contract the general contractor is Mill-Am Corp.

A new railway crossing had to be constructed for the short-line Essex Terminal Railway at the top of the hill where Maplewood meets the ferry road. As well, the truck staging area at the dock itself will be configured so it’s much easier to get on and off the ferry. Gone will be another sharp turn from the ferry onto the parking lot and up the road.

The previous awkward turning configuration “limited us as to what we could take,” ferry vice president Gregg Ward said. “With this new system it really puts us in a good position to service especially the larger windmill projects.”

The ferry service is scheduled to reopen in February. During construction trucks have had to make an almost 250 km detour to the Blue Water Bridge between Sarnia and Pt. Huron, Michigan.

Virtually every contingency has been planned for at the site, including a hazardous spill containment system.

“It looks like a manhole,” D’Alessandro, pointing to the area in the parking lot, says. “And connected to that is a very large (1.2 m) slump sewer pipe so if there is a spill it can be contained in that system.”

After landscaping is completed in spring the Detroit-Windsor ferry will no longer look like the poor cousin to the area’s other crossings, finally getting the infrastructure respect it deserves.

Daily Commercial News


Maritime Festival set for May 7-8 in Mackinaw City

2/27 - Mackinaw City, Mich. – The Great Lakes Lighthouse Keepers Association will host its first Mackinaw Maritime Festival, May 7 - 8 in Mackinaw City.

The two-day event will begin at 10 a.m. on Friday, May 7 on the fantail deck of the retired icebreaker Mackinaw. The memorial service will include a performance of music written for the occasion by Dan Hall, the reading of the names of those lost in the 1965 Cedarville tragedy, sequential tolling of the bells on the Icebreaker and in Conkling Heritage Park, and a blessing of the fleet ceremony, for which all area vessels are cordially invited to attend. After lunch on the icebreaker, a wide range of activities are planned for Friday afternoon at various locales throughout the area.

Among these are tours of the Mackinaw, boat trips out to the Cedarville wreck site, a historical scavenger hunt, an open discussion panel with survivors of the Cedarville tragedy, free tours of Old Mackinac Point lighthouse and viewing of a video of shipwrecks of the Straits area.

The first days events will conclude at the Headlands Beach House that evening with presentations on the lighthouses of the Straits area by maritime historian Terry Pepper and a presentation on celestial maritime navigation by astronomer Mary Stewart Adams.

Soo Evening News


Today in Great Lakes History - 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.

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


U.S. Coast Guard breaks out St. Marys River

2/26 - DeTour, Mich. – The cutter Hollyhock arrived on the lower St. Marys River around 10 a.m. Friday and was undertaking ice breaking duties from Watson's Reef to Sweets Point and the upbound channel east of Pipe Island all day. She has widened out the shipping channel and strong north winds are flushing the ice down and out of the St. Marys River into Lake Huron.

Due to deteriorating ice conditions the Pipe Island Passage opened Thursday afternoon.

Cathy Kohring and USCG


Ice breaking operation deemed a success

2/26 - Port Huron, Mich. – U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Galen Witham said ice breaking efforts that started Monday in the St. Clair River have been successful.

Four icebreakers have been working the St. Clair River, North Channel and South Channel to break up an ice jam that was causing water levels to rise along the river and drop in Lake St. Clair. Witham said water levels are starting to return to normal.

The Mackinaw resupplied in Port Huron Wednesday and joined the Neah Bay and Mobile Bay Thursday morning. The Samuel Risley did not join the efforts Thursday and remained in Sarnia.

The ferry to Harsens Island remained in operation Thursday morning, according to officials.

Port Huron Times Herald


Updates - February 26

Lay-up list updated - please send updates to


Today in Great Lakes History - 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.

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


Freighter fined for speeding on the St. Clair River

2/25 - Sarnia, Ont. – A freighter caught speeding in the St. Clair River was fined $3,000 Monday in Sarnia court. A guilty plea was entered on behalf of the Atlantic Erie, a ship owned by Canada Steamship Lines.

Shipping authorities were contacted after a riverfront homeowner reported a ship's wake had sent water crashing over a property breakwall on Sept. 1, 2007.

Shipping regulations set the speed limit at 10.4 knots, or 12 miles per hour. The ship was doing 13.5 to 14.6 miles per hour, which was calculated by measuring the travel time between two position markers.

The ship has a flat out top speed of 17.3 mph, according to the Canadian Transportation Agency.

The speed limit is intended to protect shoreline property from wake damage, said federal prosecutor Michael Robb. A charge against the ship's captain was withdrawn following the guilty plea.

The Sarnia Observer


Ice breaking efforts aided by mild temperatures

2/25 - Port Huron, Mich. – Ice breaking efforts in the lower St. Clair River appear to have been successful, as Tuesday’s armada of icebreakers had been reduced to the efforts of just the Neah Bay by Wednesday evening.

Vessels involved in clearing the area of ice, which was blocking the channel and causing low water levels in Lake St. Clair and threatened flooding in the St. Clair River, included the Canadian Coast Guard ship Samuel Risley, and the USCG Mackinaw, Mobile Bay and Neah Bay.

Wednesday at 7 a.m. the Mackinaw was tied at the Bean Dock in Port Huron, with the Risley stopped off Russell Island the Neah Bay at Algonac. By 10 a.m., the Risley had made one downbound pass, then headed back up through the Cut Off Channel, while Neah Bay was working the North Channel. At 11:30 a.m., the Risley headed up river to Sarnia, leaving Neah Bay to work the Middle Channel. She arrived at Windsor, Ont., around 5 p.m. for the night.

Tuesday activity, in addition to icebreaking, included the tug Salvor, which passed downbound for Windsor. On Tuesday, the efforts began at 9 a.m., with the Mackinaw and Risley. Mobile Bay arrived at 1 p.m.

Petty Officer Galen Witham, out of the USCG Sector Detroit, said this is the worst ice conditions in the river since the 1980s.


Coast Guard warns gale winds increase ice dangers

2/25 - Cleveland, Ohio - The U.S. Coast Guard advises all Great Lakes residents and ice fishing enthusiasts to be aware of gale winds in excess of 35 knots out of the east-northeast, Thursday, which may cause large breaks in lake ice.

"Any persons on the ice should be aware of the potential hazardous conditions," said Paul Angelillo, Coast Guard Sector Buffalo, Command Center.

The National Weather Service reports the gale force winds are expected to continue through Friday and will shift direction to the north-northwest.

According to the NWS, the potential for breaks are very high on Lake Erie and the Lake Ontario ice packs, for instance. The Coast Guard reminds all citizens that Great Lakes ice is dangerous and unpredictable, even when high winds are not present.


Updates - February 25

News Photo Gallery
Public Gallery updated


Today in Great Lakes History - February 25

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

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


Today in Great Lakes History - 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. She was scrapped at Aliaga, Turkey 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.

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


Ice battle fought on St. Clair River

2/23 - Algonac, Mich. – Two ice cutters battled thick brash ice Monday in an attempt to clear the plugged St. Clair River and prevent flooding.

U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Galen Witham said this year’s long cold stretches resulted in the thick ice, the worst since the 1980s. The jammed river has resulted in a rise in water level along the river and canals, and a drop in water level in Lake St. Clair.

Witham said the drop in the lake causes damage to docks and marinas, which require the water pressure to hold up seawalls.

He said the cutters started operations in the area Monday morning. The efforts are expected to last three to four days.

The USCG Mackinaw and Canadian Coast Guard Ship Samuel Risley spent the day working the lower river with the Mackinaw concentrating on the North Channel. Risley departed upriver early afternoon and appeared to be heading to the tug Everlast docked in Sarnia.

Neah Bay arrived upbound about 4 p.m. and made several passes through the old South Channel before stopping for the night in Algonac. Mackinaw headed upriver at 4 p.m. for the Recor Edison dock for the night.

Risley returned downbound and stopped at the Lambton Generating Station for the night. Mobile Bay spent the day anchor above Lights 7 & 8 waiting for improved weather to head downbound to join in the ice breaking.

Witham said if operations continue past Thursday, the Canadian Griffon will join the fleet.

Witham said by the end on the day Monday, progress had been made on breaking the ice jam, with water flowing into Lake St. Clair.

Keith Kompoltowicz, a meteorologist with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Detroit, said there was a drop in water level in Lake St. Clair of about 20 inches since the beginning of the month. Kompoltowicz said levels in the lake started to increase during the weekend.

Water levels in the river near the city of St. Clair are up 15 to 18 inches, he said. The ferry to Harsens Island shut down Monday morning to make way for the cutters.

An airboat was scheduled to start making runs between the island and Algonac on Monday afternoon, according to a recording at Champion’s Auto Ferry.

The ferry may begin operations today depending on ice conditions, according to the recording.

Port Huron Times Herald


Lafarge acquires aggregate docks in Michigan

2/23 - Bay City, Mich. - Lafarge has acquired two docks on the Saginaw River, creating the potential for increased shipping traffic on a waterway that has seen sluggish times of late.

The man who is turning those docks over hopes the move will free him up to do more shipping of new types of goods, in a revival of a shipping industry that once was at the foundation of the areas economy.

William G. Webber, owner of the Sargent Docks and Terminal Inc., signed an agreement in December to turn over the Sargent docks in Essexville and Saginaw to Lafarge North America Inc., a subsidiary of the Lafarge Group, the world leader in building materials.

Webber, who is also president of the Saginaw River Alliance a group of 22 companies that use the waterway to move materials will continue to own the docks under the definitive agreement, but Lafarge will run the day-to-day operations and materials.

Serene Jweied, Lafarge North America communications director, said the aggregate itself has always been from the company’s quarries; acquiring the docks will allow the company to better serve its customers.

“Now, we will be able to go direct from our quarry to the jobsite, Jweied said in an e-mail. In doing so, we hope to service our customers with products and solutions that better meet their needs.”

Webber, who will continue to own and operate two other docks in Saginaw and Zilwaukee, said the Lafarge agreement gives him freedom to pursue new opportunities. He envisions a revived Saginaw River shipping industry spurred on by biofuels, transporting renewable energy products and other new markets playing a major role in the regions future.

Most everything that gets shipped by a truck or rail can be moved on a vessel, Webber said. We want to coin-phrase (the shipping industry) the bread basket of Michigan.

Neither Webber nor Jweied would release details of dock acquisitions.

All deals are unique; therefore, we try to find a structure that meets both parties long-term needs, Jweied said.

When asked if Lafarge acquiring the docks would increase shipping in the area, Jweied said the docks are an important step to better service its customers, but did not say if shipping in the area would increase.

Lafarge, based in Paris, France, operates 2,187 production sites in 79 countries with 84,000 employees, according to the company’s Web site. Lafarge produces and sells cement, ready-mixed concrete, gypsum wallboard, aggregates, asphalt, and related products and services for residential, commercial and public works construction projects.

Lafarge North America owns or operates 10 aggregate docks on the Great Lakes four of which are in Michigan.

But in the past five years, shipping on the Saginaw River has seen a 52 percent decrease, due in part to the economy and the need for river dredging that limited cargo capacity of ships.

Major dredging is now under way, and Sheldon expects a better 2010.

“Were actually now poised to see a little bit of a return to normalcy,” Sheldon said. “The general feel is that in 09, we kind of hit the bottom.”

Last year, more than 200,000 cubic yards of silt was dredged from the river between Bay City and Saginaw to allow larger ships and heavier loads to pass through the Saginaw River without worrying about shoals, areas of shallow water that are a navigational hazard to ships.

More than $4 million has been spent on the dredging project so far, and $5 million has been spent to create a dredged material disposal facility on the Bay-Saginaw county line.

“The dredging makes possible a return to the glory days of shipping in the region,” Webber said. He says the Great Lakes are, for better or worse, a fact of life for any Michigan company that needs to move its products around the country or the world.

“The highways just don’t go east and west (for shipping out of the state). We have to exit the state through the south, through these corridors down by Gary, Ind., and Toledo,” Webber said. “We could look at that as a negative, or we could say ‘Hey, lets capitalize on our ability to ship.’”


EPA plans to spend $2.2 billion to protect Great Lakes

2/23 - Washington, D.C. – The federal government plans to spend $2.2 billion to clean up pollution in the Great Lakes and halt the spread of invasive species over the next five years.

That plan, announced Sunday, marks a "significant investment" in fighting some of the biggest environmental threats to the nation's largest freshwater lakes, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson said. The EPA will use the money to prevent beach pollution, clean up toxic hot spots, and fight Asian carp and other invasive species. That effort "will leave the Great Lakes better for the next generation than the condition in which we inherited them," Jackson said.

The Great Lakes spanning from Minnesota to New York have faced environmental threats for decades, ranging from a legacy of industrial pollution to disappearing wetlands and invasive species that threaten local fish populations. State and federal agencies have attempted in the past to fix some of those problems, though most of the efforts have been modest.

"We're on track today to do something the Great Lakes have been crying out for for years, and that's comprehensive restoration," said Joel Brammeier, president of the Alliance for the Great Lakes.

Among the EPA's priorities is cleaning up long-polluted sections of the lakes. In the 1980s, the U.S. and Canadian governments identified 31 toxic hot spots on the U.S. side; since then, only one has been fully cleaned up. The EPA now plans to finish work at four others by 2014, though spokesman Brendan Gilfillan said the agency hasn't figured out which.

The plan also takes a "zero tolerance" approach to invasive species such as Asian carp, which could crowd out native fish and imperil the Great Lakes fishing industry if they reach Lake Michigan.

Congress has approved $475 million for the Great Lakes cleanup plan, though Jackson said little of the money has been spent. President Obama asked Congress for $300 million more this year, and Jackson said he will seek even more in the years ahead. The EPA's plan announced Sunday will determine how the money is spent.

Jackson announced the plan at a meeting of the nation's governors. Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle, a Democrat, called the cleanup "extraordinarily important." Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, a Democrat, said it will "leave these bodies of water improved and protected."

USA Today


Today in Great Lakes History - 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, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series.


Icebreakers arrive for St. Clair River break out

2/22 - Port Huron, Mich. – U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Bristol Bay out of Detroit was expected to join other icebreaking ships in the St. Clair River later Sunday, but that is no longer part of the plan, said Gene Davis, a civilian speaking on behalf of the US Coast Guard Sector Detroit.

Instead, the USCG cutters Mobile Bay out of Sturgeon Bay, Wis., and Neah Bay out of Cleveland, Ohio, will be arriving in the St. Clair River overnight, Davis said. Neah Bay departed Cleveland about 6 p.m. Sunday.

Monday, they will assist Mackinaw and Canadian Coast Guard ship Samuel Risley. Mackinaw arrived at the St. Clair River Sunday afternoon and went right to work breaking ice with the Risley for the tug Everlast and barge on the upper St. Clair River near Stag Island.

The Port Huron-based Hollyhock departed her dock and was upbound on Lake Huron Sunday afternoon for an unknown destination.

Risley stopped for the night at Algonac and Mackinaw at the Recor Edison power plant.

Unusually low water levels caused by the ice jam are inflicting thousands of dollars of damage to marinas on Lake St. Clair.

MacRay Harbor President Steve Remais tells The Detroit News that the area has lost 30 inches of water within a 10-day period due to the ice jams. He says the harbor’s docks, on Lake St. Clair, have sustained a lot of damage and that the total damages could top $100,000.

Remais says the damage occurred because the ramp part of the dock is attached to the dock and the seawall. As the water drops rapidly, it causes the ramp to pull away from the seawall.

Ice jams have left Lake St. Clair’s water level 30 inches lower than it was a year ago.

Port Huron Times Herald


Coast Guard rescues woman in Wilmette Harbor

2/22 - Wilmette, Ill. – U.S. Coast Guard Station Wilmette Harbor rescued a woman who fell through the ice at approximately 1 a.m., Sunday.

Seaman Reginald Edwards was preparing for bed when heard cries for help coming from outside the station. He immediately notified the other station personnel and called 911.

As station personnel readied themselves for a possible ice-rescue response, Petty Officers Chris Summers and Kevin Ray began an investigation of the harbor area to locate the source of the cries for help. They discovered a young woman who fell into the water just east of the station. She had managed to find and hold onto a tire chained to the wall.

“The victim was becoming less and less responsive, we knew we had to act fast,” said Summers.

Summers instructed Edwards to retrieve blankets and inform the station they were taking immediate action. Grabbing a hold of Summers by his legs, Ray lowered him down to the woman.

Reaching down the six-foot wall, Summers was able to grab hold of the victim. The rescuers were able to pull the woman up the wall and reposition themselves. They managed to clear the remaining three feet to the walkway.

“We train constantly for these sorts of events,” said Ray. “Our training helps us remain calm and focused on getting our job done.”

Once the woman was out of immediate danger, she was placed in a hypothermia recovery capsule, a specially constructed fabric designed to use the victim’s own body heat to assist in the re-warming process. Then they wrapped her in blankets and treated her for hypothermia until emergency responders from the Wilmette Police and Fire Department arrived. The victim was transported to Evanston Hospital where she is reported in stable condition.


Carp may leave some locked out of business

2/22 - Jamie Long and his 60 workers are a crucial part of the steelmaking process. But Long doesn't manufacture steel - he's charged with bringing hundreds of thousands of tons of coke, a key ingredient in making steel, to steel mills along Lake Michigan.

But his job and hundreds of others could be severely impacted by a flippered scaly intruder - the Asian carp.

A lawsuit filed late last year by Michigan officials asks the U.S. Supreme Court to immediately close the gateways in to and out of Lake Michigan, including the O'Brien Lock and Dam on the Calumet River near Burnham and the Chicago Controlling Works - better known as the lock near Navy Pier - in downtown Chicago.

And if you enjoy taking out your boat, use anything made with steel or plan on building a house, this pesky fish - and the legal battle over how to keep it out of Lake Michigan - might affect you.

The steelmaking process, for instance, has a crucial stop in the Southland.

Barges bring coke up the Mississippi River from New Orleans into Illinois via the Illinois River and into the Southland via several waterways including the Calumet Sag Channel.

After traveling through the south suburbs on the Cal Sag and the Little Calumet River, the barges pass through the O'Brien Lock en route to Lake Michigan. That's where Long, the port captain of Calumet River Fleeting, in Chicago, takes over.

Calumet River Fleeting, from its facilities at 103rd Street near Lake Calumet, tows the materials on a barge out into Lake Michigan and delivers them to steel mills in Northwest Indiana and other points along the lake.

The massive barges, towed or pushed by tugboats, also pick up the finished steel slabs and coils from the steel mills and deliver them to other spots along the Lake Michigan shore - and sometimes back through the O'Brien Lock for transport through the Southland and back down to the Mississippi River, Long said.

"We're involved from cradle to the grave," he said.

But if the crucial juncture at the O'Brien Lock is blocked, cargo coming upriver wouldn't be able to reach Long. And he'd no longer be able to get loads brought in from the lake started on their way to customers downriver.

"It would devastate us," Long said. "The mills may look outside for other options."

It's a fear shared by Lemont-based Illinois Marine Towing. The company's tugboats help guide 75 percent of their cargo through the O'Brien Lock.

The petroleum and coke coming upriver on its barges are delivered to the blast furnaces on Chicago's Southeast Side and steel mills in Northwest Indiana. Without being able to service those sites, Illinois Marine Towing would be forced to lay off en masse, said Bill Russell, director of human resources for the company.

"This is the business we're in," he said, adding that closing the locks "would take away three-fourths of what we actually do."

As the debate plays out in Washington, tugboat companies already are feeling the effects.

"The threat of the unknown has created issues already," Long said. "Just the threat of a lock closing has cut down on the number of barges."

If the O'Brien Lock were shut, businesses downstream would also be effected because water levels along the state's water systems would be impacted.

Take Lemont-based K.A. Steel Chemicals. Its facilities are along the Chicago Sanitary & Ship Canal and rely on the waterway system to bring in crucial materials.

The ability to control the water levels in the canal is one concern, said Brad Davidson, executive vice president of the bleach company.

A bigger worry is that the frantic push to stop the Asian carp will lead to a decision to seal off the Chicago-area waterways even further downstream near Lockport, preventing all barge traffic from making its way north into the city and south suburbs.

"We would basically shut down," Davidson said. "We'd have to move facilities if we couldn't have access to barges."

K.A. Steel Chemicals brings about 250 barges a year up from the Gulf of Mexico - filled with caustic soda to make bleach for water sanitation, which is then shipped by truck to areas within 250 miles of Chicago. If the cargo couldn't be delivered via barge, it would have to come by train - which would add about 4,000 rail cars to the Chicago area's already congested rail system.

Aaron Ozinga, president of Mokena-based cement maker Ozinga, said his company gets the sand and gravel it needs to make cement delivered to its facilities along Chicago waterways via barges. If the waterway system is sealed off downstream, his company would have to put thousands of trucks out on the roads to bring in its supplies.

Data from the American Waterways Operators indicates that just closing the O'Brien Lock would amount to more than 200,000 additional trucks hauling materials on the Chicago region's roads each year.

Not only would that be bad for the environment, but it's a much more expensive way to move materials. And those costs would end up affecting consumers.

Ozinga, a vocal opponent of the locks closure, estimated the cost of cement would shoot up by 30 percent to 40 percent because of the added costs of truck transportation.

Other industries are affected as well.

Ron Miltzow takes people fishing in Lake Michigan. His bread and butter for attracting fishermen to his charter boat are the salmon and trout that swim in its deep waters.

It's businesses such as his that helped spur Michigan's attorney general to file the lawsuit seeking to close the Chicago-area locks. Michigan officials are worried that the Asian carp could invade the Great Lakes and damage the natural ecosystem that fishermen such as Miltzow depend on.

The carp can grow up to 100 pounds and eat 40 percent of its body weight daily, wiping out food sources for the salmon and trout and other native fish.

"I wouldn't be in business," Miltzow said.

Miltzow, of Tinley Park, said he isn't worried about Asian carp yet. After all, no fish have been found in the lake, though the carp's DNA has been found less than a mile from the lake.

But there's one thing the captain of Wake 'N' Sea Fishing Charter is concerned about - his 38-foot boat is in storage on the "wrong side" of the O'Brien Lock, downstream of it, and if the locks were closed, he wouldn't be able to access the lake.

In that case, Miltzow would have to pay thousands of dollars to move his boat by land so it can access Lake Michigan before fishing season starts in late March.

"I'm hoping they keep it open until March 20," he said.

Miltzow probably doesn't have anything to worry about because any new information about the lock closures isn't expected until April.

Meanwhile, others who make their living on the water won't be breathing a sigh of relief any time soon.

About 80 percent of the people who stop at the Riverdale Marina on the Calumet River for gas, supplies or a bite to eat are boaters who want access to the lake, manager Rick Dawson said.

"Every marina would be in trouble," he said of the possible lock closures.

Dawson said he's "hanging on to see what happens" though he can't believe a "fish could close the locks."

Thousands of boaters take off from the boat launch along the Calumet Sag Channel in Worth every year. Some stay on the channels in the Southland, but many head east, ending up at Lake Michigan after passing through the O'Brien Lock.

Others head downstream before heading north on the Sanitary & Ship Canal and eventually making their way up to the Chicago River and into the lake through the downtown lock. Such sojourns out on the lake wouldn't be possible to attend by boat from the Southland if the locks were closed.

And for the village of Worth, which built its boat launch about 15 years ago, closed locks would put a small dent in the village's revenue.

More than 100 boaters use the launch each summer weekend, village Clerk Bonnie Price said. And each time a boat enters the Cal Sag in Worth, the village makes $10. Plus there's the investment of building the launch itself.

"We've put money into the boat launch," Price said. "We'd see somewhat of a loss."

But more worrisome, she said, would be the effect on Southland marine families.

"This will be a loss for families that have boats," Price said. "It will be a big loss for people who use the waterways."

As its name implies, the Asian carp isn't native to these parts, but flooding at facilities in the South where it was being bred allowed it to get into the Mississippi River system.

Since then, the fish have been making their way up toward Chicago. An electronic barrier was put in the Sanitary & Ship Canal near Romeoville in hopes of preventing the voracious eater from reaching the Great Lakes. But environmental DNA tests have showed some varieties of Asian carp may have made their way north of the barrier.

That has led those with an interest in the $4.5 billion commercial sport fishing industry on the Great Lakes to push for more drastic measures to ensure that the Asian carp doesn't make the final push into the lakes, where it could wipe out the food sources for native fish.

Michigan's attorney general has filed a lawsuit, asking the U.S. Supreme Court to immediately close the O'Brien Lock on the Calumet River, among other locks in the Chicago-area waterways, to seal them off from Lake Michigan.



Maritime symposium to kick off celebration of Dossin Great Lakes Museum's 50th anniversary

2/22 - Detroit, Mich. - The Detroit Historical Society kicks off a year-long observance of the 50th Anniversary of the Dossin Great Lakes Museum with a symposium for maritime enthusiasts on Saturday, March 6 from 11a.m. 4 p.m. Guests will have a chance to meet maritime authors, divers and historians.

The event will feature keynote speaker Robert Schultz, the author of “We Were Pirates” and “The Madhouse Nudes,” who will discuss Detroit’s WWII submarine the U.S.S. Tambor. Schultz has received the National Endowment for the Arts Literature Award in Fiction, Cornell University's Corson Bishop Poetry Prize and the Emily Clark Balch Prize for Poetry from The Virginia Quarterly Review.

Other featured guests include Joe Grimm, author of “Windjammers: Songs of the Great Lakes Sailors,” and Patrick Livingston, author of “Summer Dreams: The Story of Bob-lo Island” and “Eight Steamboats: Sailing Through the Sixties.”

The cost for the event is free, thanks to the support of the Michigan Humanities Council. For more information or visit

The Society is celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Dossin Great Lakes Museum throughout 2010. Other upcoming events at the Dossin include the following:

• New Exhibits Opening event on Saturday, April 24 at 11 a.m. with former Dossin curator John Polacsek appearing from 1 3 p.m. The two new exhibits are Dossin Great Lakes Museum: Celebrating 50 Years! and Life on a Long Ship: Great Lakes Sailors.
• The 3rd Annual Dossin Regatta on Sunday, April 25 at 11 a.m., pitting the Detroit Rowing Club against challengers from Toledo, Ohio.
• A Curator Chat about the Dossin Museums two newest exhibits with Detroit Historical Society curator Joel Stone on Wednesday, June 16 at 6 p.m.
• Dossin Great Lakes Museum 50th Birthday Party on Saturday, July 24 from 11 a.m. - 4 p.m.
• Dossin Ship Spectacular
• Saturday - Sunday, August 21 & 22 from 11 a.m. - 4 p.m. (tentative)
• Saturday - Sunday, August 28 & 29 from 11 a.m. - 4 p.m. (tentative)
• Dossin Scholar Series with Roger LeLievre, editor and publisher of “Know Your Ships” on Thursday, September 16 at 6 p.m.
• The Dossin Maritime Groups Fair Winds Fall Dinner on Sunday, October 3
• Lost Mariners Remembrance Weekend on Saturday-Sunday, November 6 & 7 at 11a.m. - 4p.m.
• The annual Lost Mariners Remembrance on Wednesday, November 10 at 6 p.m.

MASCO is the presenting sponsor of the Dossin Great Lakes Museums 50th Anniversary activities.

The Dossin Great Lakes Museum is dedicated to preserving and presenting the rich legacy of the Great Lakes. In 1949, the Maritime Museum of Detroit was opened on Belle Isle aboard the landed wood schooner J. T. Wing, the last commercial sailing ship on the Great Lakes. Seven years later, this museum was closed due to the deteriorated condition of the J.T. Wing. The Dossin family, a well-known name in the wholesale food and soft drink businesses, provided the funds for a new maritime museum. The new facility, now named the Dossin Great Lakes Museum, opened on the Wing’s former Belle Isle site on July 24, 1960, the 259th anniversary of Detroit’s founding.

The Dossin Great Lakes Museum, located at 100 Strand Drive on Belle Isle, is open Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free at the museum for the duration of 2010 thanks to the generous support of MASCO, however, donations are welcome. Permanent exhibits include the Miss Pepsi vintage championship hydroplane, a bow anchor from the S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald, the pilothouse from the Great Lakes freighter S.S. William Clay Ford, and the one of the largest known collections of scale model ships in the world.


Mark R. Fraley

2/22 - Mark R. Fraley, 49, of Marine City, passed away February 19. Born in St. Clair on July 18, 1960, he was a long-time resident of Marine City and was a merchant mariner for American Steamship Company for 30 years. He started as a deckhand and rose through the ranks to Captain. Visitation will be at Young Funeral Home on Monday 6-9 p.m. (with a 7 p.m. Rosary), and Tuesday 2-4 and 6-8 p.m. Funeral services will begin at the funeral home Wednesday 11:15 a.m., going in procession for a noon mass at Our Lady on the River Parish ­ Holy Cross, Marine City. Memorials to Blue Water Hospice.


Updates - February 22

Weekly Website Updates
News Photo Gallery
Public Gallery updated


Today in Great Lakes History - February 22

On 22 February 1920, the Goodrich Line’s ALABAMA (steel propeller passenger/package freight steamer, 272 foot, 2,626 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.

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


Flood relief icebreaking rare; effort returns Monday

2/21 - Port Huron, Mich. – Coast Guard ice breakers will break ice on a nine-mile span stretching from Algonac to Marysville starting Monday morning.

The mission aims to help relieve flood concerns and put water levels back to normal.

"This has been a very bad ice jam," Lt. Dixon Whitley said. "It's been more than 20 years since we've had (it) this bad."

The jam has plagued the Coast Guard for a couple of weeks. Numerous ice missions have temporarily relieved the situation.

U.S. Rep. Candice Miller said the piecemeal tactic isn't working.

"They have to attack it all at once ... with all various resources," she said. "It is a great thing the Coast Guard is taking the action they are to have all the different resources coming from the different areas."

Whitley said just north of the Blue Water Bridge in Lake Huron, an ice bridge is keeping more ice at bay. He said the bridge could break, compounding the situation on the river and increasing the chances of flooding.

Whitley said with warm weather helping the operation, "it is an opportune time" to conduct the mission,” he observed.

Mackinaw departed her home moorings at Cheboygan, Mich. Saturday night and was expected to pass Port Huron Sunday afternoon, she will head down river to survey ice conditions.

Port Huron Times Herald


Early opening and toll incentives hoped to improve Seaway numbers

2/21 - The St. Lawrence Seaway will open for its 51st season March 25.

According to statistics from the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation, since 1989 the earliest opening date was March 21 in 2007, while the latest was April 5 in 1994.

No announcements have been made yet about ice-breaking schedules. If necessary, it usually begins just before the Seaway is scheduled to open.

Like other businesses, the Seaway took a financial blow during the recent economic downturn. Tonnage was down 25 per cent, from 40.8 million tonnes in 2008 to 30.7 million last year. "It really reflects the nature of economic challenges," said Andrew Bogora, communications officer. "We were hit quite badly. The Seaway does quite a substantial amount of business with the steel industry."

To help drum up more business, the Canadian SLSMC offered toll incentives at some of its locks for shippers.

"This will be the third year we're offering them," he said. "We've had them the previous two years since 2008."

He is optimistic the coming shipping season will be better than 2009.

The Sault Star


Great Lakes visitor sinks off Brazil

2/21 - Rio De Janeiro - A Canadian sailing ship filled with high school and college students sank off the coast of Brazil in strong winds, but officials said all 64 people aboard were rescued Friday after about 16 hours in rafts tossed by rough seas.

A distress signal was picked up from the three-masted SV Concordia about 2 p.m. EST Thursday, Brazil's Navy said in a statement and an Air Force plane later spotted life rafts floating in the ocean about 300 miles off the coast of Rio de Janeiro.

Concordia visted the Great Lakes in 2001 as part of the fleet of tall ships that called at many ports around the lakes.

Forty-eight students — in grades 11, 12 and university freshmen — were aboard the vessel, said Kate Knight, head of West Island College International of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, which operates the Class Afloat program.

Edgardo Ybranez, captain of the Philippine flagged Hokuetsu Delight cargo ship, told The Associated Press via satellite phone that his ship rescued 44 of the victims in rough, dangerous seas. The remaining people were picked up by another ship.

Ybranez said the Concordia's doctor had suffered an injury before the rescue, "but he is OK now." He gave no more details.

All the rest were unhurt, Ybranez said: "You can tell their parents that everything is OK; everybody aboard my ship is fine."

The captain declined to put one of the survivors on the telephone. "They are all downstairs sleeping because they are exhausted, so I don't want to call any of them up," he said before cutting off the call to communicate with his employers.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper issued a statement thanking the Brazilian Navy and the merchant crews "for their swift and heroic response."

"The skill and compassion demonstrated by Brazilian rescuers is a tribute to their training, spirit and seamanship," he said.

School officials said 42 of those aboard were from Canada. Knight said others hail from the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Europe and the West Indies.

"At this point we can't confirm at all what circumstances led them to abandon ship, or the status of the vessel," she said.

The Brazilian Navy, however, said the ship sank and Juan Cruz Margarita, captain of the SE Stao Knutsen that assisted in the rescue operation, told the AP via satellite phone he saw no sign of the Canadian ship by the time his vessel arrived.

Navy spokeswoman Maria Padilha said the students spent up to 16 hours on life boats before they were rescued between 4 a.m. and 9 a.m. (2 a.m. and 7 a.m. EST; 0600 and 1100 GMT). She said the students would be moved to a Navy ship and taken to Rio.

Padilha said rough weather in the area had so far prevented their transfer to the Brazilian ship. Under the best conditions, she said, it would take at least 12 hours for the Navy ship to reach Rio.

Shelley Piller, whose 17-year-old stepdaughter Elysha was on board, told the AP in a telephone interview from Kenilworth, Ontario, that she was worried despite hearing news that everyone was safe.

"That's my kid. For me I need to actually physically see her, feel her and have her in front of me to understand that she's safe," Piller said. "We're petrified, absolutely petrified."

The ship had visited Europe and Africa since leaving Canada in September, and it had just begun a five-month semester program on leaving Recife in Brazil's northeast on Feb. 8. It was scheduled to dock in Montevideo, Uruguay on Tuesday, then head on to several islands in the Atlantic and to southern Africa and the Caribbean before returning to Canada.

The school's Web site says the 188-foot-long (57.5-meter-long) Concordia was built in 1992 and "meets all of the international requirements for safety." It carries up to 66 passengers and crew and also can operate under motor power.

The college's Web site says it gives high school and college students the chance to study while sailing the world. Tuition is listed as being 42,500 Canadian dollars ($40,600) a year for students in the 11th and 12th grades and in university.


Today in Great Lakes History - 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 Drydocks 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.

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


Mackinaw heading to work the St. Clair River

2/20 - Detroit, Mich. – The U.S. and Canadian coast guards are scheduled to conduct ice breaking operations in the St. Clair River Monday morning, in order to mitigate possible flood activity due to a nine-mile long ice jam there, and address low-water levels on Lake St. Clair.

U.S. Coast Guard cutters involved include the Neah Bay, Mobile Bay and Mackinaw. The Canadian Coast Guard Cutter Samuel Risley will also be working the river.

“This year we have seen a large amount of ice in the river system; this ice stacks up and stops the natural flow of water, which may be contributing to lower water levels in Lake St. Clair and higher risk of flooding in communities along the St. Clair River above the jam,” said Cmdr. Joseph Snowden, Ice Officer at U.S. Coast Guard Sector Detroit. “We are working closely with our international partners to address these risks.”

These joint icebreaking operations with the Canadian Coast Guard will include the North and South Channels of the St. Clair River and have the potential to impact the operation of the Harsens Island Ferry. Residents of Harsens Island should make appropriate preparations should the three or four day icebreaking operation interrupt ferry service.

“While we understand Harsens Island residents’ annual frustrations with the temporary winter-time interruptions of ferry services, these ice breaking operations are critical to preventing flooding to the many communities along both sides of the St. Clair River,” said Cmdr. Kevin Dunn, Chief of Waterways Management for the Ninth Coast Guard District. “These operations are also necessary to restore water flow to Lake St. Clair, which has experienced a dramatic drop in water levels over the past few days.”

That drop in water levels on Lake St. Clair has threatened many marinas along the lakefront. As a precaution, individuals are asked to remain clear of ice breaking operations in order to avoid injury, property loss or damage. The U.S. Coast Guard provides ice breaking services for search-and-rescue, other emergency operations, flood mitigation and the facilitation of navigation to meet the reasonable demands of commerce.

The Coast Guard conducts two major operations during the icebreaking season, entitled Coal Shovel and Taconite, to ensure the most efficient movement of vessels through the entire Great Lakes region. Coal Shovel, under the control of Coast Guard Sector Detroit, encompasses southern Lake Huron, St. Clair/Detroit River systems, and Lakes Erie and Ontario, and includes the St. Lawrence Seaway.

Coast Guard Cutters Neah Bay and Mobile Bay are 140-foot icebreaking tugs, homeported in Cleveland, Ohio and Sturgeon Bay, Wis., respectively. Mackinaw is a 240-foot icebreaker homeported in Cheboygan, Mich.  The Canadian Coast Guard Ship Samuel Risley is homeported in Perry Sound, Ont.

Satellite image Friday showing the ice coverage from lower Lake Huron to Lake Erie


Spring icebreaking on Lake St. Pierre and surrounding areas

2/20 - Quebec City, Que. - The Canadian Coast Guard will begin spring icebreaking operations on the north and south shores for the Lake St. Pierre, Bécancour and Gentilly areas on Monday.

The purpose of this yearly operation is to dislodge ice at the mouths of the tributaries in order to prevent ice jams and flooding that can result from the spring break-up. The icebreaker CCGS Pierre Radisson and the Canadian Coast Guard hovercraft Mamilossa and Sipu Muin will carry out the operation.


Fleet grows for Green Bay's Tall Ship Festival

2/20 - Green Bay, Wis. – The fleet is growing for the Baylake Bank Tall Ship Festival in downtown Green Bay this summer.

Four ships were announced Wednesday by PMI Entertainment Group for the festival the weekend of August 13-15.

Two of the ships have a Hollywood history. HMS Bounty was built for MGM's "Mutiny on the Bounty" in 1962 and was used more than 40 years later in "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest." In the time in-between it was used as a training vessel.

Roseway was originally a private fishing yacht built in Massachusetts for a competition against Canadians in Nova Scotia. It's used today to teach about marine ecology, maritime history, and seamanship. It appeared in the 1977 TV movie "Captains Courageous."

Amistad is a floating memorial to remind Americans about the history of the slave trade and "the millions of souls that were broken or lost as a result," PMI says.

The Pride of Baltimore II makes a return trip to Green Bay. It's a top-sail schooner built in the tradition of an 1812-era Baltimore Clipper. Pride II sailed to Green Bay for the Tall Ship Festival in 2006.

These ships are in addition to two announced last year -- the Unicorn and the S/V Denis Sullivan. The Unicorn was built by the Dutch as a fishing vessel using metal from captured German U-boats. It's used in a development program for girls and young women, according to PMI. The Sullivan is called Wisconsin's official flagship. It's a three-masted, 19th century-style schooner.

There will be 12 ships for the Tall Ship Festival. PMI plans to announce the rest of the fleet in April.



Updates - February 20

Public Gallery updated


Today in Great Lakes History - 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, the straight deck steamer G. WATSON FRENCH (steel propeller, 376 foot, 3,785 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 b.) HENRY P. WERNER in 1924, c.) JOHN J. BOLAND in 1937, and d.) ALGOWAY in 1947.

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


Hollyhock heads for the ice

2/19 - St. Clair River - As the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Hollyhock blasted through thick ice built up on the waterway, it approached a ridge of ice about 3 feet deep.

Lt. Kristen Serumgard, the ship's executive officer, told a group gathered on the deck of the ship's bow to brace for impact.

But when the 225-foot-long ship hit the ridge of brash ice -- broken ice that freezes back together -- it plowed right through, stunning a group of ice-breaking novices on board.

"Way to go, girl," Serumgard, a veteran of U.S. Coast Guard ice breaking, said with exaggerated praise, patting the railing at the ship's bow.

In a five-hour mission Tuesday, the Hollyhock went out onto the St. Clair River to break an ice jam that stretched from Marysville south beyond St. Clair.

It is part of the regular winter routine for the ship based in Port Huron, spending time breaking ice on waterways from Lake Huron to Lake Erie.

For the past few weeks, the Coast Guard has battled a St. Clair River ice jam caused by regular north winds that blew ice from Lake Huron into the river.

Edward Marohn, deputy commander of Coast Guard Detroit Sector, said a weekend mission near Algonac cleared up much of the problem, which threatened to cause flooding and forced the shutdown of the Harsens Island ferry.

On Tuesday, the Hollyhock departed Port Huron to head south on an ice recognizance and breaking mission.

The Hollyhock's primary job is a buoy tender but also is "ice capable."

It was the ship's first mission after weeks of regularly scheduled maintenance -- and the crew was excited to get out on the water.

"We like being home," Lt. j. g. Daniel Parker said from the bridge of the ship, continuing with a smile: "But we are all sailors and like being under way."

The bridge of the Hollyhock is filled with computer screens, buttons, levers and maps -- and it's where most of the action takes place when the ship is under way.

About 15 officers -- dressed in one-piece, long-sleeved navy blue uniforms -- stand in front of the control panel: a 12-foot-long unit that includes one of three driving areas, various readings for things such as knots per hour and engine temperature, and a computerized map of the exact location of the ship on the river.

Using near constant communication -- the old-fashioned kind of calling out numbers and speeds -- the crew steers the ship southbound on the St. Clair River.

In ultimate control is Lt. Commander James Bellaire, the commanding officer, who most of the time sits in one of two captain's chairs on either side of the 30-foot-wide bridge -- a pair of binoculars in a compartment on the right-hand side of each chair.

It didn't take long for the Hollyhock to find ice Tuesday.

At about the Marysville-Port Huron line, open water tinted dark blue turns into snow covered ice -- the brash version, not smooth plate ice seen on lakes and ponds.

As the ship approached the ice, it didn't slow down. And that, it turns out, is no problem.

Serumgard said the Hollyhock is capable of breaking through 14 inches of ice at 3 knots.

It can break through up to 3 feet of ice using the back-and-ram method, which is exactly what it sounds like. When encountering thicker ice, the ship backs up and then tries to ram through it.

A group of media members, local law enforcement and Congresswoman Candice Miller, R-Harrison Township -- who is the ship's official sponsor -- got a first-hand look of the capabilities Tuesday.

The boat cut through the ice with ease at first. Standing at the bow of the ship, the contact with the ice made a constant rumble.

"That's a very weird sound," Miller said.

In the stern, the propeller constantly churned up huge chunks of ice, leaving a slushy mixture in its path.

The ice began to thicken, slowing the progress of the Hollyhock, eventually forcing the ship to a halt just off the power plant in Marysville.

After trying a back-and-ram, the ship turned around and headed back to open water to break up the ice more. The pathway needed to be broken for two ships traveling north from Windsor.

The Hollyhock made a second run at the ice but again was stuck at about the same location as the first.

On the third time through, however, the boat slowly broke through a strong area.

The Hollyhock continued another 4 miles or so until it turned around in a large open pool of water just off the River Crab restaurant.

"This is the tightest I've ever seen (the ice)," Bellaire said in a phone call with the captain of the Canadian Coast Guard ship the Samuel Risley, which was escorting commercial ships north.

After the Hollyhock's runs, though, there was a path of slushy ice and snow where there used to be tough brash ice.

"It should be easier now that we've loosened it," Bellaire said to the other captain.

Port Huron Times Herald



Port Reports - February 19

Amherstburg, Ont. - D. Cozens
The Canadian Coast Guard Ship Griffin arrived at the Amherstburg Coast Guard Base Thursday evening. She was up bound from Lake Erie. The main channel is free of ice, with only light ice floes near shore.

Halifax, N.S. - Mac Mackay
Birchglen arrived Thursday morning in ballast and tied up at pier 9A. Because this is not a pier where she could load cargo, it is assumed that she is in for repairs.



Ice blamed for low lake levels

2/19 - A precipitous drop in Lake St. Clair water levels is the result of ice jams on the St. Clair River, officials said, and the shoreline should gradually return to its traditional state.

According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the lake level has plummeted by 20 inches since Feb. 1. While the Coast Guard works to break up the ice on the river, the water flow into the lake remains restricted.

Keith Kompoltowicz, a Corps of Engineers meteorologist, said the ice floes that travel from Lake Huron into the river often break apart and jam up in the river delta, in the area of Harsens Island and Walpole Island.

"In the past, we've seen quite large swings. The lake level can fall quickly due to conditions, and it can go back up just as quickly," Kompoltowicz said.

Coast Guard cutters have been breaking up the ice on the river since last weekend, when ferry service to Harsens Island and to Canada was halted due to non-navigable conditions.

While officials say the 25-inch drop in the lake level compared to a year ago is not surprising, some longtime waterfront residents are worried.

Dick Degrande, a 35-year resident of the Pointe Rosa canal near Metro Beach, said he's concerned that sea walls will start to buckle and collapse if water levels remain low for an extended period of time.

"I've lived here more than 30 years and I've never seen it this low," Degrande said. "It … is way down — there's practically no water left in our canal."

Corps of Engineers' data shows that lake levels are now nearly five feet lower than in February 1986, when high levels that spring topped sea walls and caused minor flooding along portions of the waterfront.

The recent snowstorm that dumped up to one foot of snow in the areas north of Port Huron are blamed for adding to the ice buildup in the river. Northerly winds associated with the storm pushed large sheets of ice into the river.

This past weekend, the Bristol Bay, Penobscot Bay, Griffon and Samuel Risley, were breaking ice in the lower St. Clair River, hoping to flush the obstructions into Lake St. Clair.

Gene Davis of the Coast Guard's Detroit Command Center said the U.S. cutter Neah Bay was working on the problem. Operations will continue until spring.

Neah Bay arrived from Cleveland on Wednesday and docked at Algonac. They departed Thursday and sailed downbound for Cleveland.

"We keep breaking up the ice jams," Davis said, "and Mother Nature keeps adding to them."

Macomb Daily


Tugboat sinks in St. Marys River

2/19 - Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. – The Sault Star reported Thursday night a tugboat owned by Purvis Marine, is partially submerged at an Essar Steel Algoma dock.

A boom around the vessel is containing most of the fuel onboard. A small spill covers a few square metres and absorbent pads were being used to collect the oil. The Ministry of Environment said there is little damage to the waterway.


Cliffs raises 2010 iron ore sales estimates

2/19 - Duluth, Minn. - Cleveland - Cliffs Natural Resources has increased the amount of iron ore it expects to sell in 2010 from 23 to 25 million tons, citing improving demand from customers.

The announcement came in Cliffs' fourth-quarter earning statement, which said Cliffs expects continued stabilization of the economy in 2010, and corresponding improvements in steelmaking raw material demand.

2009 pellet sales volume was 16.4 million tons, down from a record 22.7 million tons in 2008.

Full-year revenues for 2009 were $2.34 billion, a decrease of 35 percent from 2008. Revenue was down ten percent from the fourth quarter of 2008 to 2009 to $821 million.

Cliffs owns United Taconite in Forbes and Eveleth and Northshore Mining in Babbitt and Silver Bay. It also operates Hibbing Taconite, which is a joint venture among Cliffs, U.S. Steel, and ArcelorMittal.

Fox 21 news in Duluth


Today in Great Lakes History - 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.

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


St. Clair River ice jam partially cleared

2/18 - Algonac, Mich. – Shipping has resumed in the St. Clair River now that some of the ice that clogged it for more than a week has been cleared.

The opening allowed Canadian icebreakers to escort a pair of tankers to Sarnia on Tuesday, said Andy Maillet, supervisor of operations for the Canadian Coast Guard's Central and Arctic region. Maillet said a large volume of ice -- "too large an amount actually" -- began entering the river about 10 days ago and set off alarm bells. "Having the river completely full of ice doesn't happen very often. I can't remember the last time it did," he said.

The Canadian icebreakers CCGS Samuel Risley and the CCGS Griffon, along with two U.S. icebreakers, have been working at it consistently since then, Maillet said. By Tuesday, they'd cleared most of the lower river but an 18-km stretch between Courtright and Sarnia was still ice-packed, Maillet said. While the Risley continued working on the ice the Griffon went down river to escort the tankers.

The plan was to then escort a tug and barge that have been sitting it out.

Maillet said an "ice bridge" that formed in southern Lake Huron was some assistance because it held back additional lake ice from entering the river. "That little ice bridge has allowed us to do the work we've been able to do for the last week and a half," Maillet said "The situation could change any minute, but we've just been fortunate enough that it has held on this long." The ice bridge will break at some point, creating more work for icebreakers, he said.

A tug and barge, on its way to Chicago, is scheduled to pass next week through the ice bridge, Maillet said.

Coast guard officials have been keeping close watch on conditions with daily helicopter surveillance flights.

London Free Press


Not enough funds for all of Green Bay’s dredging needs

2/18 - Green Bay, Wis. – Green Bay this year has a harbor that needs to be dredged, an island that could be developed and a federal government coming up short with money for both projects.

The Green Bay harbor must be dredged annually to accommodate heavy ships because the Fox River every year pushes fresh sediment into the port.

Proposed budgets for the Army Corps of Engineers, which is responsible for the dredging, never include enough money for the work, which forces the city every year to ask congressional representatives for more, said Port Manager Dean Haen.

The Army Corps so far has managed to leave open a deep lane of dredged area through which one ship can pass at a time, he said.

“It’s doable,” Haen said. “It’s workable. It’s not the ideal situation, but it works.”

The proposed 2011 Army Corps budget includes $2.3 million for dredging in Green Bay when it would cost as much as $5.3 million to dredge the whole harbor. The Army Corps has $3.1 million for Green Bay dredging in 2010.

Army Corps engineers across the country identify needs for the ports they oversee, but there is a limit to how many projects the budget can afford, so some must be deferred, said Wayne Schloop, chief of operations within the Army Corps Detroit district.

But there now is more pressure on the Army Corps budget because Green Bay needs $5 million in Army Corps money to clear the way for the development of Renard Island in the port, Haen said. The Army Corps, over the years, has dumped contaminated sediment on the 54-acre island, but it has reached capacity and must be capped before the city can redevelop the land, he said.

“We’re weighing what’s more important, critically,” Haen said. “Can we get by one more year without sufficient dredging?”

The proposed 2011 Army Corps budget does not include money for the island. So, this year, the Brown County Harbor Commission likely will ask members of Congress to lobby for island money rather than more dredging money.

Tom Van Drasek, vice president of the commission, said capping the island is important, but shipping safety in the harbor is tantamount.

“The island situation has been around for a long time, too, and I agree it’s a balancing act, and you can try to solve one before the other,” Van Drasek said “But we certainly can’t let that dredging situation go.”

The Green Bay Harbor will join a throng of ports asking for more Army Corps budget money this year, said Steve Fisher, executive director of the American Great Lakes Ports Association.

“Everybody gets less than what they need,” Fisher said, “and the problem, and this is a big source of frustration among the shipping industry, is there is a tax on shipping.”

In much the same way as the federal gas tax pays for highways, he said, maintenance fees on shipping were created to funnel money into the Army Corps budget. Even though the fees bring in more than $1 billion a year, Fisher said, the Army Corps budget in 2011 only would take $764.4 million from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund. The remaining money goes into the U.S. general budget.

Fisher said port lobbyists this year will try to segregate the maintenance fund in the same way federal highway and airport programs were set aside in the past.

Haen said the Green Bay port faces a 2013 state deadline to cap off Renard Island, so the Army Corps eventually has to do the project. As for the chances of getting the money this year, he said Wisconsin’s congressional delegation has been supportive of Green Bay’s requests in the past.

“Those things are in our favor,” he said, “but I won’t make any predictions.”

The Daily Reporter


Today in Great Lakes History - 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 b.) JOSEPH S. YOUNG, a.) ARCHERS HOPE, 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. Renamed c.) H. LEE WHITE in 1969, and d.) SHARON in 1974. SHARON was scrapped at Brownsville, Texas in 1986.

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.

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


Shipping returns March 25 on Seaway, at Soo

2/17 - With the release of information regarding the opening of the 2010 navigation, spring is just around the corner. The opening of the 2010 navigation season is scheduled to take place on the following dates and times:

Montreal / Lake Ontario and Welland Canal open March 25 at 8 a.m. Vessel transits will be subject to weather and ice conditions. Restrictions may apply in some areas until lighted navigation aids have been installed.

The Soo Locks will open March 25.

In the Montreal / Lake Ontario Section of the Seaway, the allowable 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 favorable, the draft will be increased to 80.8 dm (26' 6") for all vessels. In addition, there will be zero tolerance for ship's draft in excess of 80.8 dm (26' 6").

Mariners are reminded that for ships loaded to a draft greater than 80.0 dm (26' 3"), 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 vessels. In addition, there will be zero tolerance for vessel drafts in excess of 80.8 dm (26' 6'').  Vessels loaded to a draft greater than 80.0 dm (26' 3"), 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.

St. Lawrence Seaway


CSL Laurentien comes off dry dock

2/17 - Sturgeon Bay, Wis. - CSL Laurentien came out of the Bay Shipbuilding dry dock Tuesday, crossing over the sill around 11 a.m. The Selvick tug Mary Page Hannah was on the bow, the Susan L. was on the stern while the tugs Jimmy L., Cameron O., and shipyard tug Bayship assisted with ice breaking and flushing.

Wendell Wilke


Fraser Shipyards briefs congressman on upgrades

2/17 - Superior, Wis. - Fraser Shipyards Inc. President and COO Jim Korthals Tuesday briefed Rep. David Obey on how the shipyard will use the $2 million the congressman secured for the city of Superior to assist with the shipyard’s continued upgrades and repairs to its facilities. The company will initiate the work as soon as funding is disbursed, ultimately employing an additional 15 to 20 skilled workers throughout the project.

“This project will help ensure Fraser remains competitive, so it can continue to employ people long into the future,” said Obey. “This is a great example of private industry working cooperatively with government at every level, federal, state and local.” Obey and Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Wis., announced in December 2009 that the funding had been secured and is part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act signed into law by President Obama. The funding is part of the federal budget for the U.S. Department of Transportation.

“The money will help fund Fraser’s continued commitment to the maritime community,” said Korthals. “We’re grateful Rep. Obey was able to help secure this significant funding at this time. It will give us the opportunity to bring on skilled tradespeople, electricians and heavy equipment operators to get the job done.” Fraser Shipyards will repair approximately 420 ft of one of the dock wall faces in the shipyard that is used in repairing Great Lakes vessels and repair and upgrade the electrical services within the shipyard.

Workers will install 50-ft lengths of sheet piling to repair the dock walls, using a crane and vibrating hammer to move the piling and interlock the sheets into place. Caps will be welded onto the sheet piles to permanently tie them together. The double-wall system used keeps earth from sloughing into the lake.

The company will also install higher-efficiency transformers to better suit the shipyard’s needs. The current transformers are costly as the electricity comes in at 14,000 watts and has to be transformed down as far as 110 watts for use. The change will save the company money each and every day, further improving its bottom line.

Fraser Shipyards also will use the funds to improve the electrical service that extends to where the boats park, as the current underground lines are beyond their useful life and are being affected by heaving ground. The new lines will be protected and more reliable for Fraser Shipyards’ customers.

Work is expected to be performed simultaneously and completed within a two- to three-month period once the funding is received.

Last March $3.7 million in funding for the shipyard was secured through the State Harbor Assistance Program, administered by the City of Superior, with a required 20 percent match from Fraser. That funding will be allocated to new construction work, while the $2 million in federal funds will go towards repairs.

Korthals also introduced Fraser Shipyards’ newest acquisition – Lake Assault Boats – that will help the company add even more new jobs above and beyond the shipyard work. “Acquiring Lake Assault Boats is a natural extension of what we do best,” said Korthals. “We perform quality work on ships and will apply that experience to patrol, fire and rescue boats as well as hunting and fishing boats. Dependability is key, and our welders are the best in the business, so our customers can expect a top-of-the-line product. The more we can expand Lake Assault Boats, the more workers we can employ.”

Lake Assault Boats has 58 customers in 13 states. One of the company’s most recent jobs was producing a rescue craft for the Chicago Fire Department.


LIM Signs agreement with port of Sept Iles

2/17 - Toronto, Ont. – Labrador Iron Mines Holdings Limited announced Monday that it had signed an agreement with the Sept-Iles Port Authority for the use of the Pointe-Noire facilities at the port to ship LIM's iron ore products.

LIM has agreed a base fee schedule with the Port Authority regarding wharfage fees for iron ore loading for LIM's shipping operations beginning in mid 2010. LIM is currently in negotiations with port operators regarding rail transportation, storage, reclaim and ship-loading of its iron ore products.

The Port of Sept-Iles is an important port for the shipment of iron ore in North America serving the Quebec and Labrador mining industry. Each year nearly 23 million tonnes of materials are handled, comprised mainly of iron ore.

A deep water port, situated 650 kilometres down river from Quebec City on the North Shore of the Gulf of St. Lawrence on the Atlantic Ocean, the Port of Sept-Iles is a large natural harbour, more than 80 metres in depth, which is open to navigation year round. The port is characterized by its deep waters and 10 km wide semi-circular bay.

The port is an international marine hub, at the heart of the main maritime routes between North America, Europe and Asia, and nearly 80 percent of its merchandise traffic, mostly iron ore, is destined for international markets.

The first industrial dock was built in 1950 by the Iron Ore Company of Canada to handle iron ore exports from Schefferville, to which it is connected by a 560 km railroad. The first major docking installations in the Pointe-Noire sector of the Port were built by Wabush Mines in 1962 to handle iron ore exports from the Wabush Mines in Western Labrador.

Labrador Iron Mines Holdings Limited's Schefferville area project involves the development of 20 direct shipping iron ore deposits in western Labrador and north eastern Quebec near Schefferville. The Company's properties are part of the historic Schefferville area iron ore district where mining of adjacent deposits was previously carried out by the Iron Ore Company of Canada from 1954 to 1982. Labrador Iron Mines plans mining in varying stages, the first of which comprises the James and Redmond deposits which are located in close proximity to existing infrastructure. Subject to timely receipt of all permits and licences, the Company plans to commence iron ore production in the summer of 2010.


Reappointment to the Great Lakes Pilotage Authority

2/17 - Ottawa, Ont. - Canada's Transport Minister John Baird and Rob Merrifield, Minister of State (Transport), announced last week the reappointment of J. Douglas Smith as chair of the Great Lakes Pilotage Authority for a term of three years, effective March 5.

"I am very pleased that Mr. Smith will be continuing in this important role," said Baird. "His background in maritime transport and considerable leadership experience remain tremendous assets for the Authority."

Smith has been an independent consultant on energy supply arrangements, transportation, dispute resolution and strategic alliances since 1995. He also served on the board of directors of the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation from 2000 to 2006, including two years as chair, and as president of the Chamber of Maritime Commerce from 1995 to 2000. He began his career with Ontario Hydro in 1968, where he rose to increasingly senior positions before leaving to pursue consulting work in 1995.

"The Great Lakes Pilotage Authority will certainly benefit from Mr. Smith's knowledge, experience and direction," said Minister Merrifield.

The mission of the Great Lakes Pilotage Authority is to establish, operate, maintain and administer, in the interest of safety, an efficient pilotage service for commercial vessels within the Great Lakes region.


Lake Erie frozen over for the first time in 14 years

2/17 - Following a cold snap in the Northeast, Lake Erie's surface is virtually frozen over for the first time in about 14 years.

The ice ranges in thickness between paper thin along the northern shore and several inches along the southern shore, where many people are ice skating.

Although the ice cover is considered complete, prevailing winds have created some cracks in the ice. There are also reportedly ice chunks floating off the coast of Dunkirk, N.Y., which is one of the deepest parts of the lake and would naturally be one of the last places to freeze.

Lake Erie, with an average depth of 62 feet, is the most shallow of the five Great Lakes, which is why it is the only one that completely freezes over. Since lake-effect snow depends on warmer lake temperatures compared to the air, the frozen lake will deter large amounts of snowfall to the lee of the lake.

The current cold snap will keep the lake mostly, if not completely, frozen for at least the rest of the month.



British gunboat hull to be displayed at Fort Wellington National Historic Site

2/17 - Prescott, Ont. — A British gunboat hull that was discovered on the bottom of the St. Lawrence River in the 1960s will be moved to Prescott, Ont., to be part of a new exhibit on the War of 1812, says Parks Canada.

The hull - 17 metres long and 4 1/2 metres wide - was found in Brown's Bay, near Mallorytown Landing where it is currently on display in a boathouse at St. Lawrence Islands National Park.

It will be moved in early 2011 about 50 kilometres east to its new home at Fort Wellington National Historic Site, said project manager John Grenville.

"This will allow us to put it in a more environmentally sensitive location to ensure its long-term survival," said Grenville.

Grenville said the hull is "an important artifact" thought to have been built in the early 1800s at the royal naval dockyard in Kingston, Ont.

It will become the centerpiece of a new $3-million visitor centre and help tell the story of the role that the British military played in the defense of Canada along the strategic St. Lawrence River, says Parks Canada.

Earlier this month the federal government announced an investment of up to $1.1 million to help preserve Fort Wellington.

The Canadian Press.


Updates - February 17

News Photo Gallery
Public Gallery updated


Today in Great Lakes History - 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.

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


St. Clair River ice breaking efforts pay off

2/16 - Algonac, Mich. – The multi day ice breaking mission continued Monday morning with the Samuel Risley and Bristol Bay working the lower St. Clair River. The Griffon returned to the scene Monday afternoon and was joined by the tug Manitou. Efforts were focused on the north and middle channel along with the main river.

Open water was appearing at North Algonac and the river is free of ice north of Locust Point. Areas of ice still cling to the Canadian shore from Algonac to Marine City. The Samuel Risley was running up and down along the American shore from Point Du Chene to Locust Point Monday morning.

Efforts have been underway for the last week involving the U.S. Coast Guard cutters Bristol Bay, Penobscot Bay and Canadian Coast Guard Ships Samuel Risley and Griffon with aid from the tug Manitou. The ice breaking was conducted to prevent flooding along the St. Clair River and to allow ferry service to return to multiple crossings along the river.

The icebreakers began to break off around 6:30 p.m. Bristol Bay returned to her moorings at Group Detroit. Griffon headed down the Detroit River and into Lake Erie. The Samuel Risley stopped in the St. Clair Cutoff Channel. The Griffon and Risley appear to be preparing for a ship escort.


Asian carp threat stirs rethink of century-old feat

2/16 - Chicago, Ill. – More than a century ago, this city reversed the flow of its eponymous river, connecting the Great Lakes with the Gulf of Mexico and defining itself as the can-do capital of the American heartland.

Today, that engineering feat is coming under growing scrutiny, as scientists and politicians intensify their battle against a voracious flying fish that has been traveling up the Mississippi for 20 years. Amid signs that Asian carp have breached the last defensive barrier, calls are mounting for a massive do-over.

"We know these barriers aren't working," said Joel Brammeier, president of the Alliance for the Great Lakes and the lead author of a 2008 report that laid out how this project might look. "An ecological separation is the only permanent solution."

Six Great Lakes states and the Canadian province of Ontario have petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to separate the water basins in a last-ditch effort to prevent the Asian carp from decimating the $7 billion Great Lakes fishing industry. The Army Corps of Engineers has launched a $10 million, five-year feasibility study of the idea. And the plan became the focus of a hearing on the Asian carp problem on Capitol Hill last week.

Rep. Jim Oberstar (D., Minn.), chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said at the hearing that he hasn't seen such public alarm about any Great Lakes issue since the Cuyahoga River caught fire near the shores of Lake Erie in 1969. That incident spurred the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency and later, the Clean Water Act.

"We must do everything within our power to prevent the Asian carp from entering the lakes," Mr. Oberstar said.

Still, any effort to cut ties between the waterways faces big hurdles. The shipping industry says closing down locks that grant access from Lake Michigan to the Mississippi would be a devastating blow to the local economy. And flood control in Chicago, which currently involves dumping large amounts of water via Chicago waterways into Lake Michigan on a semi-regular basis, would require a huge, multi-billion-dollar infrastructure fix.

Back in the 1870s, the Chicago River was the dumping ground for the city's considerable industrial refuse. The river resembled pea soup, stank and was "greasy to the touch," wrote Donald L. Miller, author of "City of the Century," a history of Chicago.

Since the river drained into Lake Michigan and the public drinking water supply was drawn from the lake, the water was frequently contaminated. Cholera, typhoid and dysentery killed thousands almost every year.

With the city teetering on the brink of disaster, leaders set in motion a 50-year project that reversed the course of the Chicago River by dredging it, installing massive pumps and building more than 70 miles of canals to channel the water away from the Great Lakes and into waterways that connect to the Mississippi River.

The result was hailed as a modern miracle. Chicago was transformed from a fetid, disease-ridden city of 300,000 to the business and cultural capital of the Midwest.

But the unintended consequence of the project, along with the completion of the St. Lawrence Seaway in 1959, was that this new water superhighway became a conveyor for invasive species traveling between the Great Lakes and the Gulf of Mexico. A series of critters, including Zebra mussels and round goby, have spread to waterways across the country, causing billions of dollars in damage to local ecosystems.

But none have caught the public's attention like the recent invasion of Asian carp. The fish were imported to clean the muck from fish farms in the Deep South in 1970s. In the early 1990s, they escaped into the Mississippi River during a flood and have been migrating north through Midwest rivers since.

Asian carp have few natural predators and can grow up to four feet long and weigh 100 pounds. They reproduce several times a year and out-compete native fish for food. To make matters worse, they blindly leap up to eight feet out of the water at the whining sound of high-speed propellers, injuring boaters.

In 2002, the government built what it hoped would be a last backstop to the keep the fish at bay—an electric fence near the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal about 30 miles south of Lake Michigan. This fall scientists found genetic material of the fish beyond the barrier. Last month, the same type of testing showed genetic material in Lake Michigan itself.

Great Lakes states have demanded that navigational locks that allow ships to travel between the Mississippi waterway and Lake Michigan remain closed to keep the carp out.

The barge industry, which moves about 20 million tons of cargo through the Chicago area each year, has pushed back, saying even a temporary closure would destroy thousands of jobs and cripple regional commerce. They have called basin separation unnecessary.

The Obama administration last week tried to find middle ground by offering a 25-pronged, $78.5 million response to keep the fish at bay. It proposes to add electric barriers, close navigation locks a few days a week and test more frequently for carp. So far, that approach appears to have made no one happy.

Besides damage to the shipping industry, the big infrastructure question is what to do with flood waters in table-flat Chicago.

Every few years a hard rain exceeds the capacity of Chicago's rivers and canals. A $4 billion deep tunnel and reservoir system is being built to store some of that water in case of a flood.

If the separation plan is put in place, that option could be removed. Creating an alternative place for all that water to drain "has the implication for massive spending," said Maj. Gen. John Peabody, commander of the Great Lakes and Ohio River Division, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

"This is a gigantic balancing act," said Gen. Peabody. "There are a lot of variables to take into consideration."

Wall Street Journal


Maintenance to close Glendale bridge over Welland Canal

2/16 - St. Catharines, Ont. – The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp. will shut the Glendale Avenue bridge for two weeks to work on the system that suspends electrical cables and guides them between the bridge's base and the centre span that lifts to allow ship traffic to pass, spokesman Andrew Bogora said.

Maintenance work will begin today through Feb. 26 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The bridge will be open to all traffic Feb 20-21.

During maintenance, all traffic lanes will be closed down, as well as the sidewalk on the south side of the bridge. The north sidewalk will remain open to pedestrians throughout the project.

St. Catharines Standard


Updates - February 16

Weekly Website Updates
News Photo Gallery
Public Gallery updated


Today in Great Lakes History - 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 (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 South 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: Max Hanley, Joe Barr, Father Dowling Collection, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series.


Ice breaking continues, ferries unable to run

2/15 - Algonac, Mich. - Ice breaking efforts got underway about 7 a.m. Sunday with the tug Manitou breaking out the Cuttoff Channel and old South Channel in lower part of the St. Clair River. Bristol Bay returned to working the North and Middle Channels all the way to Anchor Bay. Risley, Griffon and Penobscot Bay all worked the various channels and main river in an effort to flush the ice ­ which is interfering with ferry traffic and causing water levels to rise ­ into Lake St. Clair.

Sunday afternoon the Penobscot Bay and Griffon broke off and headed down Lake St. Clair. Griffon stopped at Windsor and the Penobscot Bay headed onto Lake Erie for Cleveland, Ohio, where the Neah Bay had arrived earlier in the day. Bristol Bay and Risley ended a long day of icebreaking about 8 p.m. off Algonac.

Icebreaking will continue Monday in hopes the ice will to clear by Tuesday.

Champion's Auto Ferry to Harsens Island will not be operating Monday due to ice. The Coast Guard will be breaking ice in the area Monday.  Walpole-Algonac Ferry Line is also shut down from ice through at least Monday, according to its Web site. Bluewater Ferry from Marine City to Sombra will likely not operate at all this week, owner Lowell Dalgety told the Port Huron Times Herald.


Two new Boatnerd Gathering cruises announced

2/15 - Great Lakes & Seaway Shipping Online, Inc is please to announce two summer cruises to be co-sponsored with Diamond Jacks River Cruises and the Marine Historical Society of Detroit.
On Sunday, May 30, the Diamond Belle will leave at 8 a.m. from Stroh Place in Detroit, traveling up the Detroit and St. Clair Rivers to the Blue Water Bridge and return. This 13-hour cruise will cover an estimated 120 miles mostly in the shipping channel. The price includes deli luncheon on board and a stop at the fabled St. Clair Inn for dinner. Click here for details and reservation form

The live Steam Whistle Blow in St. Clair Michigan will be the destination of the Diamond Belle on Saturday, September 25. This trip also leaves at 8 a.m. from Stroh Place  and will travel in the shipping channels to St. Clair, and includes a buffet luncheon at the St. Clair Inn and deli dinner buffet on board during the return trip. The Diamond Belle will be transporting whistles from the passenger vessel North American, the tug Gladiator and the lake freighter George Perkins. Click here for details and reservation form


May 2010 lighthouse and freighter cruise

2/15 - BoatNerd and the Great Lakes Lighthouse Keepers Association have joined with Keweenaw Excursions to organize the first lighthouse/freighter chasing event of 2010. This unusual trip will take place from May 19 to May 21.

The fun will begin and end in Sault Ste. Marie, and features a two-day cruise aboard the Keweenaw Star which will travel from Marquette across Lake Superior, down the St. Marys River, overnight in the Soo, continue down thru the Rock Cut, DeTour, and across the top of Lake Huron. The cruise will pass under the Mackinac Bridge and sail down Lake Michigan to Charlevoix. The boat will provide photo opportunities at 20 lighthouses and all the vessels in the busy shipping lanes along the way.

Due to bus availability, this event is limited to the first 46 people who make reservations. Click here for details.


Updates - February 15

Weekly Website Updates
Public Gallery updated


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.

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


Fire quickly brought under control aboard a ship wintering in Montreal

2/14 - Montreal, Que. – On Saturday at about 3 p.m. smoke was noticed escaping from the Thalassa Desgagnes, in lay-up for the winter. The vessel was empty and its tanks had been degassed, so there was no risk of explosion. The fire, caused by sparks from welding, broke out on deck and covered roughly 25 square metres.

Firefighters and Urgence Santé personnel arrived on the scene at 3:20 p.m. The fire was deemed extinguished at 3:36 p.m. Eight fire trucks were dispatched to the site. Michel Gareau of the Montreal Fire Department said the fire started inside a reservoir on the vessel that contained hydraulic oil. A welder who had been welding near the reservoir when the flames erupted suffered burns to his hands and face. He was taken to Hotel Dieu Hospital. A second man was treated at the scene for shock. Thick plumes of smoke could be seen rising above the water, but Gareau said it is not toxic. The fire was under control within 30 minutes and 35 firefighters responded.

Light pollution from the oil was quickly dispersed by the current, which is very strong in the area. Two firefighter units remain on site as a security measure.

The Montreal Port Authority has opened an investigation.


Ice efforts continue unabated on lower St. Clair River

2/14 - Algonac, Mich. – Ice breaking efforts resumed Saturday with all-out effort by the U.S. and Canadian Coast guards. Bristol Bay, Penobscot Bay, Griffon and Samuel Risley all spent Saturday working in the lower St. Clair River.

The Coast Guard reports that ice breaking efforts conducted over the last week where successful in flushing ice from the St. Clair River, however in order to prevent rising waters from reaching flood stage the cutters will working during daylight hours over the weekend.

Bristol Bay made a series of unusual passes through the North and Middle channels Saturday afternoon, going all the way into Anchor Bay. This is a difficult passage for a vessel the size of the Bristol Bay under good conditions, the passage through the ice is a credit to her crew. The passage was made to flush ice out of the channel and into the bay, opening the channel for the Harsen’s Island ferry and preventing flooding along the St. Clair River.

The Penobscot Bay, Griffon and Samuel Risley tirelessly worked the lower river, South Channel and Cut Off Channel in an effort to move ice into Lake St. Clair.

Despite the efforts the Harsen’s Island ferry remained unable to cross the river to the island Saturday. Operators were hopeful service could resume Monday.


Cargo and passenger vessel operators want Chicago locks to stay open

2/14 - Chicago, Ill. - Cargo and passenger vessel operators want the Chicago shipping locks to stay open -- and that's what they told federal officials Friday in Chicago.

Representatives from the maritime industry packed a public meeting room to discuss strategies for keeping the Asian carp from invading the Great Lakes. A plan by the Obama administration would cost $ 80 million and involve closing the Chicago locks, but it is less than environmental interests want. It would strengthen the existing electronic barrier.

Wisconsin is among six states asking the locks be totally closed. Illinois is the only state opposing the closure. People at the meeting said closing the locks would damage their business at a time when they can least afford it.

Pierce County Herald


Today in Great Lakes History - 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, a.) RICHARD M. MARSHALL on February 14, 1966, for $4.3 million and renamed her c.) JOHN DYKSTRA. In 1983, she was renamed d.) BENSON FORD. Renamed e.) US.265808, in 1985, she was scrapped at Recife, Brazil in 1987.

On February 14, 1973, the LEADALE’s forward cabins burned during winter lay-up at Hamilton, Ontario and were later repaired. Built in 1910, at Great Lakes Engineering Works (Hull#77) as a,) HARRY YATES, for the American Steamship Co. renamed b.) CONSUMERS POWER in 1934, c.) FRED A. MANSKE in 1958 and d.) LEADALE in 1962. Scrapped at Cartagena, Columbia in 1979.

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


Thalassa Desgagnes fire

2/13 - 5 p.m. update - Michel Gareau of the Montreal Fire Department said the fire started inside a reservoir on the vessel that contained hydraulic oil. The crew member had been welding near the reservoir when the flames erupted. A second man was treated at the scene for shock. The tanker was carrying liquid asphalt. Thick plumes of smoke could be seen rising above the water, but Gareau said it is not toxic. The fire was under control within 30 minutes and 35 firefighters responded.



U.S.-Flag lakers start 2010 on strong note; January cargos up more than 150 percent

2/13 - A rebounding steel industry has helped the U.S.-Flag Great Lakes fleet get off to a positive start in 2010. Cargo moved in U.S.-Flag lakers in January totaled 2.4 million tons, an increase of 156 percent compared to a year ago.

The bulk of those cargos was iron ore for steel production. Shipments topped 1.8 million tons, an increase of 196 percent compared to the corresponding period last year. There has been a steady increase in operating rates at the nations steel mills, and most of the iron ore consumed at domestic mill is shipped on the Great Lakes.

Coal cargos also registered a significant increase. The 495,000 tons carried in January represent an increase of 65 percent.

The fleet is now in winter lay-up. The final dry-bulk cargo, 39,324 tons of iron ore, was delivered on February 1.

Lake Carriers’ Association


Icebreaking continues in lower St. Clair River

2/13 - Icebreaking efforts in the St. Clair River slowed Friday from the all-out assault seen earlier in the week. The Canadian Coast Guard ship Griffon began icebreaking efforts Friday morning with a pass down river to mid Lake St. Clair and then back to the Port Lambton area. Samuel Risley was docked in Sarnia all day. The U.S. Coast Guard cutter Penobscot B ay rejoined the icebreaking efforts after a brief hiatus from recent efforts. She departed the Group Detroit dock after 11 a.m. and stopped at Algonac about 3 p.m. The tug Manitou was upbound Friday evening after completing some type of work in the Rouge River.


Lake Erie now completely frozen over

2/13 - Lake Erie is now virtually frozen over for the first time in 14 years.

Earlier this week, the Erie Times-News reported that the lake was 90 to 95 percent frozen, but the relentless cold finished the job.

Gary Garnet, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Cleveland, said today that for all intents and purposes, the lake is completely frozen over.

He qualified that by saying a small patch off Dunkirk, N.Y., shows water and chunks of floating ice. A frozen lake reduces the power of lake-effect snowstorms in our region.

"It doesn't completely shut off the snow machine, but it does greatly reduce it,'' Garnet said.


Fraser Shipyards to brief Rep. David Obey on shipyard funding Use

2/13 - Superior, Wisc. – Jim Korthals, president and CEO of Fraser Shipyards, will conduct a briefing for Rep. David Obey on how the company plans to use the $2 million secured for the City of Superior to assist with the shipyards continued upgrades and repairs to its facilities.

Following the briefing, Rep. Obey will speak on the economic impact of the $2 million funding, which was part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act signed into law by President Obama in December. Jason Serck, planning and port director for the City of Superior, Wis., will also address the gathering.

The money will help fund Fraser’s continued commitment to the maritime community through upgrading and repairing its facilities. These changes will include sheet piling and electrical repairs as well as electrical upgrades, which will enable Fraser to work on more vessels and expedite service to its customers while further increasing worker safety.

Fraser Shipyards also will introduce its newest acquisition Lake Assault Boats that will help the company add even more new jobs above and beyond the shipyard work. Several of the company’s mission-specific (patrol, fire and rescue) and recreational (hunting and fishing) boats will be on display in the briefing area. Lake Assault Boats has 58 customers in 13 states.


Public opinion sought for grounds and observation deck plans at Soo Locks

2/13 - Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Detroit District will host an informational meeting for the public regarding plans for the grounds and the observation deck at the Soo.

The Soo Locks Facility Master Plan meeting will be held in the Ontario Room at the Cisler Center Thursday, February 18, at 6 p.m. The Cisler Center is located on Lake Superior State University's campus.

Because the Soo Locks is considered a historic site the informational meeting is being held in compliance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act.

The purpose of the meeting is to provide the public, as well as interested parties, with information on the proposed facility master plan and to seek comments and input regarding the proposed plan.

This site plan will serve as a long-term maintenance and development guide for the Soo Locks Facility site. The plan will guide the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in properly maintaining and effectively changing the site to meet operating constraints while honoring the site's natural beauty, historic value and visitors' experiences in an environmentally sustainable way.

Included in the Soo Locks Facility Master Plan are plans regarding the landscaping and lighting of the parks and piers, construction of a new observation deck, reconfiguration of parking lots and installation of a bandstand. Each of these plans will be addressed in detail and public questions and comments will be welcomed and addressed. In addition to Corps personnel, representatives from the U.S. National Park Service, the State Historic Preservation Office and Wilcox Professional Services, LLC, the designer of the plan, will be on-site to answer questions.

Additional information is available at:


Updates - February 13

News Photo Gallery
Public Gallery updated
Calendar of Events updated if you know of an event that should be include please use the form on that page.


Today in Great Lakes History - February 13

The POINTE NOIRE was launched February 13, 1926, as a.) SAMUEL MATHER (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.

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


Icebreaking continues on the St. Clair River

2/12 - Algonac, Mich. – Thursday morning, crews U.S. and Canadian Coast Guard crews prepared to begin another day of icebreaking. The Bristol Bay spent the night at Algonac, Griffon at Lambton Generating station and the Samuel Risley in Sarnia.

By 7 a.m., Bristol Bay and Griffon were breaking ice in the lower river. Bristol Bay made several passed through the North Channel in hopes of flushing ice into Lake St. Clair and making easier passage for the Harsen’s Island ferry.

About 9:30 a.m., Samuel Risley escorted Algosea and Algocanda downbound. The convoy passed through the lower river without a problem.

The convoy safely reached mid lake and the Risley turned upbound and worked the lower river with the other icebreakers. About 2 p.m. Bristol Bay passed downbound through the old South Channel and headed for her dock in Detroit. The tug Manitou passed downbound through the area about 4 p.m.


Report on ballast water gives shippers high marks

2/12 - A new report said the shipping industry is doing its part to keep ballast water clean.

Ballast is used to balance a ship when it doesn't have cargo. Invasive species can spread through ballast brought into the lakes by saltwater ships, and federal agencies are trying to prevent that from happening.

All vessels in the Great Lakes Seaway were tested this past year, and had an almost 98 percent compliance rate, when it came to managing their water.

To view the full report: click here



'Deadliest Catch' Captain Phil dead at 53

2/12 - Anchorage, Alaska - Phil Harris, the fishing boat captain whose adventures off the Alaska coast were captured on the television show "Deadliest Catch," died Tuesday night. He was 53.

Harris suffered what his family described as a massive stroke on Jan. 29 while the fishing vessel he captained, Cornelia Marie, was in port at St. Paul Island, Alaska. The fisherman was flown to Anchorage for surgery.

The reality show, which has filmed five seasons, has been one of the Discovery Channel's most popular and depicts the crab fishing industry in the dangerous waters off Alaska.

"It is with great sadness that we say goodbye to our dad - Captain Phil Harris. Dad has always been a fighter and continued to be until the end," sons Josh and Jake Harris said in a statement released by the network. "For us and the crew, he was someone who never backed down."

In a statement, Discovery Channel senior vice president Elizabeth Hillman says, "Phil was a devoted father and loyal friend to all who knew him."

"We will miss his straightforward honesty, wicked sense of humor and enormous heart," she said.

In an e-mail to The Associated Press, she said no additional information was immediately available Tuesday night.

Harris had seemed to be improving, and in a posting last Saturday on the ship's Web site, he was described as "talking to friends and family today; showing his greatest progress" since the stroke.

His sons wrote in a Feb. 3 posting that "No one ever said Captain Phil Harris wasn't tough. Today, dad showed some good signs of improvement, squeezing our hands and even summoning his trademark Captain's bluntness ... We are encouraged but still very cautious."

According to the ship's Web site, Harris started working on fishing boats at age 7 and started work 10 years later on a crab boat. When Harris turned 21, he ran a fishing vessel out of Seattle, making him one of the youngest to captain a vessel in the Bering Sea.

When Harris suffered the stroke, the family said a friend, Derek Ray, had flown to St. Paul to take over the role of relief skipper for the rest of the opilio crab season.

Harris' fishing vessel was based in Seattle.

North West News


Today in Great Lakes History - February 12

RED WING was launched February 12, 1944, as a.) BOUNDBROOK (Hull#335) at Chester, Pennsylvania by Sun Shipbuilding & Drydock Co., a T2-SE-A1 Ocean Tanker. She was renamed b.) IMPERIAL EDMONTON in 1947. In 1959, she was brought to Port Weller Drydocks for conversion to a bulk freighter for Upper Lakes Shipping Ltd., renamed c.) RED WING. Scrapped at Kaohsiung, Taiwan in 1987.

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


Icebreakers continue to flush St. Clair River ice

2/11 - Port Huron, Mich. – Wednesday morning icebreakers returned to the lower St. Clair River to continue their efforts to flush ice from the lower river to prevent flooding and allow the Harsen’s Island ferry to run.

The Canadian Coast Guard ship Samuel Risley and U.S. Coast Guard cutter Bristol Bay were working in the channel between Russell Island and Algonac. The Griffon was working the Cut Off Channel and the Old South Channel where the river empties into Lake St. Clair.

That afternoon the ice breaking continued and the Risley was working the Cut Off to Algonac.

The ferry to Harsens Island halted operations at 10 a.m. Wednesday to allow the Coast Guard to continue its ice breaking efforts, according to a recorded message at Champion’s Auto Ferry.

An airboat was used to transport islanders back and forth to the mainland. Exactly how long the ferry will be stopped isn’t known, according to recording.

“We expect it will be for an extended period of time, at least one day, probably longer,” said the recording.

The Bluewater Ferry, which runs from Sombra, Ontario, to Marine City, is also closed due to ice conditions, according to its Web site.


Lakes ore trade skyrockets in January; up 168 percent

2/11 - The steady climb in operating rates at steel mills produced a stunning increase in iron ore shipments on the Great Lakes in January. Loadings totaled 1.9 million tons, an increase of 168 percent compared to a year ago.

So far this year each week has brought a small increase in the capacity utilization rate at steel mills. The most recent report from the American Iron and Steel Institute finds that for the week ending February 6 the industry is using 67.3 percent of its capacity. A year ago mills had only 45 percent of their capacity on line.

Most of the Great Lakes iron ore ports stopped shipping when the locks at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, closed as per Federal regulation on January 15. Loading continued at Escanaba, Michigan, until February 1, when a final cargo of 39,324 tons was loaded into the U.S.-Flag self-unloading barge Great Lakes Trader for delivery to a steel mill at the lower end of Lake Michigan.

On average it takes 1.5 tons of iron ore to make a ton of steel. Iron ore has been shipped on the Great Lakes since 1852 and has been the largest single commodity moving on Americas Fourth Sea Coast since at least 1900.

Lake Carriers' Association


Lake Erie could freeze over entirely for first time in years

2/11 - Erie, Pa. – And more cold weather could just about pull the plug on it.

The lake is about 90 to 95 percent ice-covered, and more cold temperatures forecast for the next week or so could freeze the entire lake, National Weather Service meteorologists in Cleveland said.

"We're thinking it probably will ice over the rest of the way,'' said weather service meteorologist Karen Oudeman.

Weather service meteorologist Robert LaPlante said Tuesday that the remaining open area extends from Long Point, Ontario, southeast to the New York state shoreline. Satellite images also indicate some waters just north and east of Erie, off Pennsylvania, are also ice-free.

An ice-covered lake could mean good news for winter-weary residents, or not-so-good news for people who can't get enough of the snow.

The ice-over also could mean a later start to the Lake Erie shipping season.

Complete or nearly complete ice cover lessens the chance of lake-effect snowstorms, which occur when cold air passes over warmer bodies of water, building up clouds and dumping snow downwind. Inland snowbelt areas are typically hit the hardest.

"The moisture source really isn't there when it's frozen. There's less moisture to work with,'' Oudeman said.

But here's three reasons why you shouldn't put away your snow shovels and snowblowers just yet:

- The Lake Erie snow machine can be turned on again by small, open areas of water, or high winds that break up the ice. "It's kind of a fragile ice setting out there,'' LaPlante said. "A county or two-sized area opens up and all of a sudden you have (the potential for) a snowstorm.''

Oudeman said even a completely iced-over lake typically has some open pockets of water. "It doesn't usually look like a perfect ice rink, because the wind is pushing ice and water in different directions. It's very dynamic,'' she said.

Even so, small, open areas of water would produce less lake-effect snow, she said.

- While most of our lake-effect snow comes from westerly winds over Lake Erie, some of it comes from Lake Huron, which is mostly still open, LaPlante said.

"If we get a northwest flow of cold, arctic air, it can flow off Lake Huron and affect northwest Pennsylvania,'' he said.

- And synoptic weather systems -- large-scale patterns that affect a larger part of the nation -- could bring snow to northwestern Pennsylvania, too, the meteorologists said. A storm system that started Tuesday, expected to move from Iowa to the East Coast, was such a system, LaPlante said.

The lake hasn't completely frozen over since the winter of 1995-96, though it virtually froze over a year later, at 99.6 percent, on Jan. 28, 1997, said George Leshkevich, a scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory in Ann Arbor, Mich.

But the ice cover reached 90.2 percent or higher five times from 2000-01 through 2008-09, he said. Leshkevich's data comes from the National Ice Center, an agency that comes under the umbrella of NOAA, the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Coast Guard.

But even at 90 percent, Leshkevich said much of the lake-effect snow potential is diminished. This season, as of 5 p.m. Tuesday, Erie recorded 62.1 inches of snowfall at Erie International Airport, far below the pace of the seasonal total of 145.8 inches for 2008-09. But recent ice cover is only one possible reason for the lower amount.  "There is a lot of variability from year to year,'' LaPlante said.

This season, November was mild, cold temperatures in early January gave way to moderate temperatures later in the month, and the region experienced few periods with below-normal temperatures that contribute to lake-effect storms, LaPlante said. Also, he said, the region has been spared large synoptic storms like the one that buried Pittsburgh and much of the East Coast over the weekend.

A complete ice cover of Lake Erie also could affect the multi-billion-dollar Great Lakes shipping trade, said Glen Nekvasil, spokesman for the Lake Carriers' Association, a Cleveland-based trade group representing U.S.-flagged vessels on the Great Lakes.

A later start to the shipping season is possible if "formidable'' ice forms on the lake, though U.S. Coast Guard ice breakers are available, he said. The ice thickness varies throughout the lake, the weather service's Oudeman said.

The U.S. Coast Guard has eight ice breakers stationed in the Great Lakes, and brought a ninth one from the East Coast for this winter, Nekvasil said. But Nekvasil said only one is modern and capable of operating in all conditions, and he said Canada has scaled back its number of Great Lakes ice breakers.

The shipping season on Lake Erie typically starts about March 15, with coal shipments from Ohio ports to Canada and the United States, Nekvasil said. The "starting gun'' for the rest of the Great Lakes is typically March 25, with the opening of the Soo Locks at Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., he said.

Winter-weary residents have their eyes on a different season, the start of spring on March 20. But with a lake that could freeze over entirely for the first time in 14 years, that seems like a long way off.

Erie Times News


Updates - February 11

News Photo Gallery


Today in Great Lakes History - 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 ship 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 a.) 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.

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


Algoma Discovery freed from grounding near Quebec City

2/10 - Quebec City, Que. - Algoma Discovery was freed Tuesday afternoon at high tide with the assistance of two Group Ocean tugs, Ocean Keith Rusby and Ocean Raymond Lemay. She grounded Tuesday morning east of Quebec City on Ile d'Orleans. After she was freed, the vessel headed for section 29 in the St-Charles River in Quebec Harbor awaiting inspection.

Algoma Discovery (flagged Bahamas) had sailed from Quebec Monday at 2:30 a.m. bound for Kristiansand, Norway, with a cargo of nickel. About 10 kilometers east of Quebec City, mechanical problems forced the river pilots and crew to take emergency measures to secure the vessel. Algoma Discovery's bow went aground around 4:15 a.m. near the Marina at St-Laurent Ile d’Orleans. More than 5,000 ships transit the area every season and such incidents are rare.

No environment impact was observed and there was no indication of damage. The river bottom in that area is soft material.

Mac Mackay and Frederick Frechette


Icebreakers to the rescue as ice causes water to rise

2/10 - Port Huron, Mich. – Ice clogging the St. Clair River is threatening to flood areas along the coast and halt the ferry that takes Harsens Island residents to and from their homes.

Massive floes of ice that rise over the water line and reach far beneath the surface quickly raised water levels along the shores of East China and Algonac late Saturday. Residents alerted St. Clair County emergency management officials of waters rising as much as two and a half feet in less than an hour.

Within 24 hours, the Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Samuel Risley had moved through the south channel of the river around Harsens Island, causing the waters to subside. But more work may be necessary.

"The ice is getting even thicker today, and by mid-week we're supposed to see winds coming down from the north at 25 to 30 knots," said Lt. Junior Grade Paul Raska of the U.S. Coast Guard. "That could potentially raise the water levels for communities along the St. Clair River."

Tuesday morning the Canadian Coast Guard ships Samuel Risley and Griffon departed Sarnia downbound and were breaking ice in the lower river. They concentrated on the area between Algonac, Russell Island and Harsen’s Island, the heaviest areas of ice. They were joined by USCG Bristol Bay about 4 p.m. Bristol Bay was working the old South Channel through the St. Clair flats. At 5 p.m., Risley and Griffon were upbound for the night.

"There is so much ice backed up in the river right now that I'm worried about the storm coming through on Wednesday and Thursday," Jeff Friedland, St. Clair County's emergency management director, explained on Monday. "When the ice doesn't flow through normally, the canals in Algonac and East China Township can (flood)."

Additional icebreaking should help keep the water levels down, but may also cause difficulties for the Algonac-based ferry that services Harsens Island -- home to 2,000 year-round residents.

By breaking up ice north of the island, the ships may free up masses that could make the ferry trip treacherous and force operators to shut down. The occasional loss of ferry service is not uncommon. Two weeks ago the ferry was unable to operate for six days. An airboat provides access to the mainland for supply runs, and residents have learned to leave their cars in Algonac when ice threatens.

Detroit News


Cancelled cargos trim Lakes coal trade in January

2/10 - Vessel delays caused by heavy ice forced the cancellation of coal cargos that totaled more than 100,000 tons in January. Those cancellations, coupled with sluggish demand, produced a 21 percent decrease in coal shipments compared to a year ago.

Most of the cancelled coal cargos were the result of an ice jam that clogged the Detroit River and delayed 13 vessels on January 10-11. Although U.S. Coast Guard icebreakers were eventually able to get commerce moving, vessel operators had to cancel voyages for fear of becoming trapped again.

The U.S. Coast Guard has eight icebreakers stationed on the Lakes. To bolster its forces, the Coast Guard brought an East Coast icebreaker to the Lakes for the winter and that vessel, the Penobscot Bay, did assist many freighters.

Canada used to have seven icebreakers on the Lakes, but has trimmed its fleet to just two hulls. Since there are often as many Canadian lakers in service as there are American during the ice season, the U.S. Coast Guard is more and more assigning its resources to assist Canadian vessels and break ice in Canadian ports.

Lake Carriers' Association


U.S. Steel recalls workers back to Lorain plant

2/10 - Lorain, Ohio – A union official says United States Steel Corp. has begun recalling laid-off workers at its factory in Lorain, which makes steel tubes used for gas and oil pipelines.

More than 400 were put out of work when the factory halted production last year. The move came soon after Pittsburgh-based U.S. Steel and several other American steel companies accused Chinese pipe makers of unfairly undercutting American producers.

In response, the U.S. government imposed tariffs on Chinese pipe imports in November. Dan Voorhees, vice president of the United Steelworkers Local 1104 in Lorain, said he thinks the tariffs, along with improved economic conditions, have helped bring work back to the plant in recent months.

He said U.S. Steel called most workers back in January, and the union has been told the rest will return by the end of this month. Erin DiPietro, a spokeswoman for U.S. Steel, declined to comment on the situation.

But the company reported last month that it made $39 million on its steel pipe business during its the fourth quarter. That was a major improvement compared to the company's $21 million fourth-quarter loss in that segment in 2008. The company said it was increasing production at its pipe factories nationwide.

In December, the Lorain workers were approved for job retraining through the federal Trade Adjustment Assistance Program, which is meant to help those who have lost work to foreign competition. Voorhees said workers can opt to continue the training after returning to work.

Meanwhile, about 500 union members laid off from Republic Engineered Products next door are waiting to find out whether they'll get their jobs back, Voorhees said.

The plant had supplied raw steel to U.S. Steel's pipe-making plant before production halted, Voorhees said. Republic, which is based in Canton, could not be reached in time for publication.

"Since the order books picked back up at U.S. Steel, the company has not, to my knowledge, contacted Republic for any rounds of supply," Voorhees said, noting that the company appears to be shipping in raw steel from another source. He said the union is hoping that changes.

"Those folks next door make the best product for US steel as far as we're concerned here," he said. "And the transportation costs don't get any better than that."

Cleveland Plain Dealer


Rand Logistics posts record increase in operating income

2/10 - New York, N.Y. - Rand Logistics, parent company of Lower Lakes Towing, announced financial and operational results for the third quarter of fiscal 2010 ended December 31, 2009.

"Market conditions on the Great Lakes remained depressed during the fiscal third quarter, highlighted by year-to-date tonnage volume decreases of up to 50 percent for certain of the commodities that we carry, versus last year,” Scott Bravener, president of Lower Lakes, stated. “We are very pleased with our strong operating performance for the fiscal third quarter, which was achieved despite adverse market conditions due to our sustainable competitive advantages. We believe these results are more reflective of the earnings capacity of our assets, in contrast to the same year-ago period. We are exceptionally pleased that we are able to report record earnings for the nine months ended December 31, 2009, particularly in light of the fact that our vessels sailed for 89 less days this year versus the same time period last year, or 323 less days than our theoretical maximum of 3,300 sailing days, and despite our vessel efficiencies being negatively impacted by the precipitous decline in customer demand."

"We continue to pursue additional long term contractual business which will allow us to further increase vessel utilization from the fiscal 2010 sailing season level and allow for further growth as the economy rebounds. While we are not projecting a significant increase in tonnage shipped on the Great Lakes in 2010 versus 2009, we are seeing an improvement in demand from certain customers. This, combined with the fact that we have already secured additional business which will allow us to increase our number of sailing days closer to our theoretical maximum, will enable us to improve the efficiency of our vessels, providing the potential for substantial operating leverage and profit improvement," Bravener concluded.

Based on current exchange rates, the Company expects its operating income before depreciation, amortization and a one-time charge for a loan amendment fee for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2010 to be in the range of $20.5 to $21.0 million, which will be the highest in the Company's history. Based on current exchange rates, the Company anticipates capital and dry-dock expenditures for the 2010 winter season ending March 31, 2010 to be in the range of $7.5 to $8.0 million.

"This increase in earnings guidance is a result of a modest improvement in demand from certain of our customers, a continued focus on expense control, relatively benign weather conditions in the fiscal third quarter and effective vessel scheduling and utilization,” Laurence S. Levy, Chairman and CEO of Rand, commented. “We remain well-positioned to continue to weather the downturn and believe that our anticipated full-year fiscal 2010 financial performance clearly illustrates the ongoing benefits of our diverse customer base, the scheduling flexibility inherent in the size and configuration of our fleet and our cost efficient operating model. For our upcoming sailing season, we are expecting the economic recovery to be gradual, muted and uneven and believe that barring a further downturn in the economy or a significant change in exchange rates, our fiscal year 2010 results reflect the floor of the Company's earnings. Additionally, we have identified several opportunities for enhanced earnings growth in fiscal year 2011."

Rand Logisitcs


Postcards recall the Great Lakes' Canadian past

2/10 - Cobourg, Ont. — The Canadian history of the Great Lakes can be revisited through the medium of postcards in Dr. Lorenzo Marcolin's new book, “A Great Lakes Treasury of Old Postcards: Canadian Harbour Scenes, 1894-1960.”

A postcard collector for more than 40 years, specializing in Great Lakes scenes, Marcolin has many more scenes of the American sides of the Great Lakes -- partly because Lake Michigan is entirely within the U.S. and partly because the American population living along Great Lakes shores is seven times its Canadian counterpart.

"If I did a book on the U.S., it would have to be divided into five books, one on each Great Lake," he said in a recent telephone interview from his home in Port McNicoll.

The book can be termed a labor of love, he added, because there's a good chance he won't recoup his costs in putting it together. Part of this work involved the collaboration of Kurt H. Schick, an electrical engineer who went into book design after his retirement (and won an award from Brock University for the best-designed history book).

The result is a book laid out to follow a route through Lake Superior, Lake Huron, Lake Erin, Lake Ontario, and then up the St. Lawrence River to Montreal. The sepia tone makes it look like an old volume, and it was Schick who chose the cover: a postcard showing two gentlemen on the Sydenham River looking down at a fishing boat that has sunk. "I would prefer to use one of the CPR boats on the front," the retired surgeon admitted.

The CPR used to have its own boats to augment their cross-country trains. The cars would go as far as Port McNicoll, where passengers would be transferred to boats that would take them to Fort William (now part of Thunder Bay). From there, they would continue by train to Vancouver. "CPR used to advertise it as, 'a break in your trip out west,'" he said. "It was jet planes that put them out of commission in 1960."

The postcards are all his, except for a half-dozen from the Owen Sound Rail Museum and 20 from the Huronia Museum in Midland. Among the 307 harbour scenes, there is one postcard each to represent the harbors in Cobourg and Port Hope, he said. The book was published this month by Dundurn Press.

North Umberland Today


Updates - February 10

Lay-up list updated - please send updates to
News Photo Gallery
Public Gallery updated


Today in Great Lakes History - February 10

UHLMANN BROTHERS 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, 1,888 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 a.) J.H. HILLMAN JR of 1943, caused $100,000 damage to the conveyor and tunnel while she was laidup at Toledo. The forward end of CRISPIN OGLEBAY now sails as the CANADIAN TRANSFER (C.323003).

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


Algoma Discovery aground

2/9 - 5 p.m. update - The Algoma Discovery (Flagged Bahamas) was freed Tuesday afternoon at high tide with the assistance of two Group Ocean Tugs. The vessel has now reached section 29 in the St-Charles River in Quebec Harbor awaiting inspection. The Algoma Discovery had sailed from Quebec during the night at 2:30 a.m. bound for Kristiansand Norway with a cargo of nickel. About 10 kms east of Quebec City, mechanical problems forced the river pilots and crew to take emergency measures to secure the vessel. The Algoma Discovery's bow went aground around 4:15 a.m. near the Marina at St-Laurent Island of Orleans. More than 5,000 ships transit the area every season and such incidents are rare. No environment impact was observed.

10:30 a.m. update - The Algoma Discovery was aground Tuesday morning east of Quebec City, on Ile d'Orleans. She was outbound from Quebec City with a load of nickel ore.

Tugs Ocean Keith Rusby and Ocean Raymond Lemay are standing by, and it is expected that she will refloat at high tide. At this time there is no indication of damage, the river bottom in that area is soft material.

Mac Mackay and Frederick Frechette


Coast Guard monitoring ice in St. Clair River

2/9 - Port Huron, Mich. – The U.S. Coast Guard is continuing to monitor ice conditions in the St. Clair River, according to a statement from the agency.

Current ice conditions have a potential to cause flooding near the city of St. Clair. If water levels continue to rise, the Coast Guard will break ice in the North Channel, according to the statement.

Canadian Coast Guard ice breaker Samuel Risley has joined the U.S. Coast Guard’s Bristol Bay in the efforts. On Monday the Risley was escorting the Algosea upbound.

The ferry to Harsens Island was operating Monday morning, according to Clay Township Central Dispatch.

Port Huron Times Herald


Feds unveil plan to keep Asian Carp out of Great Lakes

2/9 - Federal officials Monday unveiled a multi-pronged attack to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes and prevent an invasion that could potentially devastate a $7 billion recreation fishing industry.

Among the tactics in a $78.5 million, 25-point plan: Navigational locks in Illinois waterways that lead to Lake Michigan will be opened less frequently, and officials will more aggressively search for and kill the fish when they are found.

"We are going to hit the carp with all of the tools in the toolbox," said Cameron Davis, a senior adviser with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The plan was announced following a meeting between several environmental agencies and governors from Great Lakes states at the White House. Asian carp were brought to Arkansas in the 1960s to clean up algae from sewers and fish hatcheries. After a flood, they escaped into the Mississippi River in the early 1990s and have been migrating north up Midwestern rivers ever since.

The fish are voracious eaters that can grow up to 4 feet long and weigh 100 pounds. They reproduce rapidly and can quickly displace native species. In stretches of the Illinois River they now account for as much as 90% of the fish population by weight. Scientists fear they could do the same in the Great Lakes, potentially destroying native species.

What's more, the fish have the habit of leaping up to eight feet out of the water at the sound of approaching motors. They have knocked boaters unconscious and broken their bones. Some people now cruise along parts of the Illinois River wearing football helmets for protection.

An electric barrier about 20 miles from Lake Michigan was supposed to be the last, best way to stop the carp from invading the Great Lakes, but last month genetic material from the fish was found in Lake Michigan for the first time. Nancy Sutley, head of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, said despite evidence that the fish are in Lake Michigan, they aren't yet established and there remains a window of opportunity to stop them. She called the federal plan "strong and aggressive."

The issue has become a political hot potato, pitting environmental groups and the recreational boating and fishing industries against commercial shippers. Michigan sued Illinois to force them to shut the locks in the hope of containing the fish but the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the case.

Michigan then asked the Supreme Court to reconsider its decision and filed another suit seeking to separate the man-made connection between the Great Lakes and Mississippi water basins. Minnesota, Wisconsin, New York and Pennsylvania have joined that suit.

At the White House meeting on Monday, Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle and Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm met with federal officials to figure out alternative ways to contain the fish. Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell joined the meeting by conference call along with officials from Ohio.

The plan includes an additional electrical barrier in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal to repel the fish, and a restrictive schedule for the locks. If fish are detected near the locks the water could be electrified or treated with fish poison.

In addition, the plan calls for increased testing to monitor the fish are and speed up research to stop them from reproducing.

Ms. Granholm said after the White House meeting that such measures wouldn't be enough to protect the lakes.

"You have to permanently shut these locks down,'' she told the Associated Press.

The Natural Resources Defense Council, which has advocated aggressive action to stop the carp, characterized the proposal as a head scratcher.

"The complete absence of time lines and triggers for specific actions to be taken in response to specific events make evaluation of the framework's details difficult," Thom Cmar, a spokesman for the organization said in a statement. "But, we are concerned that the document released today still doesn't articulate a clear plan, based on the best available scientific information, that will actually work."

Wall Street Journal


Tall Ships coming to Duluth this summer

2/9 - Duluth, Minn. – Tall ships promise to bring big crowds to Duluth this summer.

Eight large historic replica sailing vessels are expected to call on the port between July 28 and Aug. 3.

Two years ago, when three tall ships visited Duluth for three days, the spectacle drew a record 125,000 people to the city’s waterfront. Terry Mattson, president and CEO of Visit Duluth, expects to shatter that attendance mark this year with a weeklong event featuring more than twice as many vessels.

“We expect it to be the largest single event in the history of Duluth,” he said, predicting the ship festival certainly will draw more people than the 2008 tall ship visit — conceivably double the crowd.

While this year’s event will feature many more ships, Mattson said Visit Duluth plans to sell the same number of onboard tour passes it did in 2008. By holding pass sales to a maximum of 25,000, Mattson said Visit Duluth expects to avoid a repeat of some of the problems with lines and waits that plagued the 2008 ship festival.

It’s one of several lessons Mattson said Visit Duluth has learned from that experience — an event that was a bigger draw than organizers had ever anticipated.

Tickets for onboard tours are expected to go on sale in March or April at the latest, Mattson said. Watch for further details.

The event will feature more than just ships. Visit Duluth has teamed with the University of Minnesota Duluth to ensure the venue offers something for everyone, including music, theater, artisans and food.

Jack Bowman, dean of UMD’s School of Fine Arts, is helping to plan the event, and brings his past experience orchestrating elaborate half-time extravaganzas for the Dallas Cowboys football team to the table. Bowman also said his department happens to employ Development Director Rob Hofmann, a former organizer for a couple of tall ship festivals in other cities, who will also make his services available.

“The event offers great opportunities for both students and faculty to be involved,” Bowman said, noting that the experience of helping to put together such a large event could be a valuable résumé-builder.

UMD will provide entertainment for people attending the Tall Ships festival, including a production of Gilbert & Sullivan’s “Pirates of Penzance.”

In addition to domestic tall ships, the event also is expected to attract at least one and possibly two international vessels.

Mattson said the cost of bringing such a fleet to Duluth would be prohibitively expensive if not for the partnership of organizations such as the American Sail Training Association. Even so, Mattson said he’s working with a budget of about $500,000 for the event in Duluth.

“This is a fantastic chance to experience the magical draw of history associated with these sailing vessels,” he said. “It’s perhaps a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

2010 tall ships festival

• July 28-Aug. 3
• Duluth waterfront
• Tickets for onboard tours are expected to go on sale in March or April.
• Watch for further details.

Duluth News Tribune


Updates - February 9

Weekly Website Updates
News Photo Gallery
Public Gallery updated


Today in Great Lakes History - 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. She was built for the Hall Corp. of Canada in 1957 at Grangemouth, Scotland as a.) EAGLESCLIFFE HALL, renamed b.) EAGLESCLIFFE in 1973.

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, 1,350 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: Max Hanley, Joe Barr, Father Dowling Collection, Brian Bernard, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series.


St. Clair River ice still causing delays, Risley on the scene

2/8 - Sunday morning the Canadian Coast Guard Ship Samuel Risley escorted Canadian Transport downbound through the St. Clair River. This is Risley's first icebreaking mission of the winter, she spent the last month under going repairs in Sarnia.

Around 12:30 p.m., Transport became stuck in ice in the lower St. Clair River below the Salt Dock Light. The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Bristol Bay joined the Risley in assisting the Transport through the area of heavy ice.

The escort continued through the lower part of the river making slow progress. By 3 p.m. the icebreakers were working in the area of heavy ice just above Russell Island. By 4 p.m. the escort had cleared Russell Island and continued downbound with the Bristol Bay returning to her Detroit Base. Samuel Risley continued on and was escorting the Transport downbound at Detroit River Light about 9:30 p.m.

The Transport is the last freighter operating on the lower lakes from the 2009/2010 season and is unloaded in ballast heading for Port Colborne and winter lay-up.


Restoring the river queen Columbia

2/8 - Albany, N.Y. – The most glorious hours of Donald Eberle's youth in the 1930s and '40s were spent aboard palatial Hudson River Day Line steamers.

The watery whoosh of their giant sidewheels churned through his consciousness and the grandeur of gleaming brass and polished mahogany on the ship's five decks caused his jaw to drop. Seven decades later, the awe has not left him.

"I think it would be wonderful to bring that all back," said Eberle, 79, of Voorheesville, who is vice chairman of the Hudson Valley chapter of the Steamship Historical Society of America.

Eberle understands more than most the daunting challenge facing a group of New York City boosters who hope to resurrect the bygone era of steam by restoring the S.S. Columbia, a National Historic Landmark moldering away in Detroit.

Built in 1902 to carry 3,200 passengers along the Detroit River, it is the oldest and grandest surviving passenger excursion ship in the country. It was designed by famed naval architect Frank Kirby. Along with a rare 1,200-horsepower triple expansion steam engine, the ship's stunning mahogany paneling, gilded moldings, art glass, grand staircase and ballroom are largely intact.

It will take at least $14 million and more than two years of toil to get it running again and carrying tourists from New York City to Albany. So far, a state grant of $750,000, $45,000 from the National Trust for Historic Preservation and a $70,000 line of credit have been secured.

Projections put the annual number of tourists aboard the Columbia at up to 85,000, plus 45,000 school children, generating a total of $22 million in economic activity and creating 224 jobs.

"Communities along the river have expressed an eagerness to have the ship because we're providing the heritage tourists all want," said Richard Anderson, president of the S.S. Columbia Project. A former banker and art gallery owner, he's been working for eight years to save the ship, with support of some financial heavy-hitters in New York City, including philanthropists Joan Davidson and Fredrick Osborn III.

Although fundraising for the renovation will be a heavy lift in these tough economic times, the S.S. Columbia would complement campaigns already under way to attract tourists to Albany, said Michele Vennard, president and CEO of the Albany County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

"This would allow us to tap into New York City tourists, the largest market for domestic and international travelers in the country," Vennard said. "It would be a great packaging opportunity for us if positioned right with overnight accommodations and things to do in Albany and perhaps a return trip on the Amtrak train."

But dock space that could handle the 207-foot Columbia is at a premium in the upper portion of the river and the Troy city dock is the closest place in the immediate area for large tourist boats to dock and for passengers to disembark.

Another obstacle is how to shuttle hundreds of tourists from Troy to downtown hotels.

The tourism potential is great. In August, when 5,000 tourists came in 122 buses for a series of concerts over three days at the Times Union Center as part of a Pathway Tours package, 1,334 hotel rooms were booked and an estimated $1.4 million was generated.

Anderson said the initial plan would be for the Columbia to make short day trips from New York north to Newburgh or Poughkeepsie, carrying about 1,000 passengers. The steamship also expects to make a handful of longer excursions each year up to Albany with groups of tourists and school children, perhaps more if demand calls for it. The ship should be able to reach a top cruising speed of 21 mph, making the 150-mile trip from New York to Albany between seven and eight hours without stops.

"We have the perfect niche for the Columbia in the Hudson Valley," Anderson said. "The ship is like a work of art. This is an amazing opportunity for the people of New York to acquire this jewel, which is irreplaceable."

Anderson and his supporters acquired the Columbia from a not-for-profit foundation headed by William Worden, a board member of the Steamship Historical Society and a friend of Eberle's. "Bill said the ship is in really rough condition and he eventually gave up the project," Eberle said. "I wish them luck, but I don't think it will be easy to pull it off."

Anderson also harbors no illusions that the project will be easy. But he said nobody questions its value.

"The Hudson River Valley was known the world over as the Rhine of America for generations," Anderson said. "We want to re-establish that reputation by showing visitors its amazing historic and scenic resources. We shouldn't let this opportunity slip through our fingers."

For more information about the S. S. Columbia Project, go to

Times Union


Lake St. Clair star of tourism effort

2/8 - Metropolitan Beach, the Grosse Pointe War Memorial and Belle Isle are three of more than 50 sites organizers of the Lake St. Clair Tourism Initiative hope residents and visitors will explore this summer through a newly created tour.

The group is to launch its Lake St. Clair Circle the Lake Tour campaign Saturday at the Detroit Boat Show at Cobo Hall. A tour map will highlight attractions, restaurants and other destinations along the shoreline of the lake from the Ambassador Bridge in Detroit to the Blue Water Bridge in Port Huron that are reachable by car or boat, in hopes that people will take the self-guided tour.

"Our initiative isn't about attracting people from Chicago, but people from Oakland or Livingston and other counties to visit the lake because it's a great asset to the area," said Brad Simmons, executive director of the Lake St. Clair Tourism Initiative.

Patterned after the state's circle tours highlighting the Great Lakes, organizers of the nonprofit Lake St. Clair Tourism Initiative want to bring the same attention to the smaller lake, which is within a one-hour drive for more than 8 million southeastern Michigan residents.

The Macomb County Economic Development Office has been involved with the initiative since the group was formed in May 2008.

"There are a lot of great destinations around the lake and not enough people know about them," said Justin Robinson, senior economic development specialist. "If we help educate others and increase the awareness, I think it will spur additional growth."

For lifelong area residents, such as Leonard Hines, the tour presents an opportunity to discover new places without spending a lot of money.

Detroit Free Press


Great Lake Maritime Center Annual Photo & Art Show

2/8 - An annual photo and art show will be held February 27 from 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. at the Great Lakes Maritime Center in Port Huron. To reserve space call 810-985-4817. There is also an amateur maritime photo contest with prizes.

Photos must have been taken in the last 12 months and not digitally enhanced. Drop off or mail your photo to GLMC, 51 Water St. Port Huron, Mich., by February 25.


Updates - February 8

Weekly Website Updates
Public Gallery updated


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, 4,653 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.

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


New York court upholds state rules on ballast water

2/7 - A New York appeals court on Thursday upheld state regulations requiring ships to replace their ballast water at least 50 nautical miles offshore from its waterways to prevent bringing in dangerous, invasive species.

The Appellate Division panel rejected challenges from shipping companies and port officials, saying the federal Clean Water Act permits a state to add conditions to federal vessel discharge permits.

The four justices said the coalition of maritime trade interests "fail to allege anything other than economic harm to themselves or speculative ecological injury to the general public."

The midlevel court concluded New York's regulations are neither unconstitutional nor arbitrary, that state conservation officials' scientific evidence supports their concern about protecting against invasive species and pathogens carried by ships from their native waters.

Department of Environmental Conservation spokesman Yancey Roy said the regulations are in effect now. Others will require ballast treatment system upgrades on ships by 2012 and tougher standards for ships built starting in 2013.

"More than a year ago, DEC took aggressive action on the issue of ballast discharges precisely to protect the state's waters against the further spread of invasive species," DEC Commissioner Pete Grannis said. "This decision will provide long-term benefits to New York's waters."

Barry Hartman, a lawyer for the Lake Carriers' Association representing operators of U.S.-flag vessels on the Great Lakes, declined to immediately comment Thursday on whether they will appeal.

Thom Cmar, a lawyer for the Natural Resources Defense Council, said the ruling was consistent with a lower New York court and the decision by a federal appeals court in Cincinnati to uphold Michigan's ballast water rules against a similar shipping industry challenge.

Marc Smith, policy manager with National Wildlife Federation, said they now need federal action to reinforce New York's leadership.

The Coast Guard last year proposed national standards for regulating ships' release of ballast water in port, which would establish a limit on the number of invasive organisms that can be released. That limit would initially follow a formula used by the International Maritime Commission, a standard adopted by some states but considered weak by many environmentalists.

Associated Press


Former Great Lakes Captain Kelso dies in fire

2/7 - Muskegon, Mich. – By the time he noticed neighbor Bob Kelso's house was on fire, off duty Muskegon firefighter Lt. Art Backstrom says it was already too late for a rescue.

"It had such a head start," says Lt. Backstrom. "I ran down and tried to do something but there was no going into the building."

The neighbors say Kelso was a retired Great Lakes freighter captain. He was aboard another ship on Lake Superior the night the Edmund Fitzgerald sank.

"His claim to fame," remembers neighbor Ken Griswold. "Unfortunately he had a lot of historical pictures in the house that were lost as well."

The location along the Muskegon Channel may have accelerated the fire. Once windows started to break investigators say strong winds blowing in from the lake quickly spread the flames through the house.



Aboard the Algosoo: The shipkeeper's long, lonely winter

2/7 - Hamilton, Ont. – For going on nine winters, Norbert McDonald has worked and lived as a shipkeeper -- a lonely job that requires an intrepid disposition.

He is quite literally the ship's guardian during the longest, coldest and darkest months of the year.

For part of that time, some of the crew is aboard, upgrading the ship's infrastructure. But at night, and often in the dead of winter when all the upgrades are complete, it's just McDonald.

When everyone else gets to go home, it's the shipkeeper's job to remain.

This winter, the Newfoundland native is working, eating, sleeping, passing the time and warding off Mother Nature -- and potential intruders -- aboard the Algosoo.

Spanning nearly 55,000 square feet at a depth of 44 feet, the laker docked with the Hamilton Port Authority has a vast series of hallways, stairs and crowded machine rooms.

Some areas bustle with machines and are well lit. Others, like the steep stairwell leading to the emergency fire pump, are dim and silently eerie.

With a sure but careful foot, McDonald knows each nook well. He often has all the operational rooms checked before breakfast in a day that begins at 6 a.m.

The self-unloading Algosoo is owned by the Algoma Central Corporation in Sault Ste. Marie and managed by Seaway Marine Transport, which has four other ships docked with the Hamilton Port Authority this winter. The 35-year-old ship mostly hauls coal around the Great Lakes.

The Algosoo was the last ship through the Welland Canal on New Year's Eve before it closed for the season. Docked at Pier 26, it is one of eight lakers laid up in Hamilton this winter.

McDonald's face is lined from hard work and the outdoors, his fingers are greasy and his thick southern Newfoundland accent is at times incomprehensible. But as he speaks and tours the ship, it becomes clear that he strikes the right balance between sarcasm and optimism needed to make it through the long winters with rarely more than an hour off the ship every few days.

The sounds of howling winds and crashing ice are formidable companions for McDonald, particularly at night.

"It's not for a weak heart," he said, sitting in a small lounge area next to the kitchen.

"You can't be afraid of anything."

But worse than sitting on the water, open to the elements, is the fear of potential vandals and intruders.

That's why a large part of his job is making sure everything is locked.

McDonald recalls one winter when he swears he heard someone pulling on the door to the ship. "I got up and nobody was there," he said.

Had the door been left unlocked by mistake, the outcome could have been bad, he added.

For the most part, trespassers are harmless, interested in vandalism or stealing tools, McDonald said. But there are horror stories of attacks.

This year, McDonald's wife, Donna, has joined him to live onboard -- though he wonders how long she will last.

The winds play tricks, sometimes making it sound like there is someone walking around the ship, McDonald said. Donna won't leave their room alone and won't leave it at all at night.

During the day, he keeps busy cleaning out tanks, checking equipment and keeping the deck as clear as possible.

At night there is television and books. He often jumps up to make sure a certain door is locked or a furnace is on.

To keep up with Transport Canada guidelines, most ships require maintenance each winter.

This year, engineering crews are performing nearly $2 million in upgrades on the Algosoo, said Tom Anderson, Seaway Marine Transport's director of operations. At least half of that is upgrading steel work.

It takes a certain type of personality to be a shipkeeper, Anderson said. The pay is around $15 an hour, plus overtime and bonus pay. Free room and board is part of the job.

Walking around the ship, McDonald helps out the crew. When they leave at night, they'll leave him piles of equipment to clean.

McDonald, 49, came to his job somewhat inorganically. He has always lived and worked on the water, but never for shipping companies.

He has three adult daughters back in various cities in Newfoundland. He and his wife still live in their small hometown. When work in fisheries grew sparse, he turned to shipkeeping.

Along with the lakers overwintering in Hamilton, there are five vessels that dock in the port year-round, said Brent Kinnaird, Hamilton Port Authority spokesperson.

The fee for layup is based on the size of the vessel, he said. Typically, for a laker such as the Algosoo, it's $3,000 for the season.

This past year saw the port authority phase in the largest stage in its Transport Canada-required security upgrades. As of December, all piers are guarded by security gates that require electronic pass cards that also serve as identification. There are also security cameras.

This is welcome news to McDonald, especially at night.

While winter is a slow time of year for the shipping companies, Kinnaird said port authority staff remain and are very busy planning the next season.

This year, the port authority is also adding "significant new development," he said.

This includes grain company Parish and Heimbecker Ltd. moving into Pier 10 and ArcelorMittal Dofasco starting its third blast furnace.

The Hamilton Spectator


Great Lakes Shipwreck Festival Feb. 27 in Ann Arbor

2/7 - The Ford Seahorses Scuba Diving Club, in conjunction with the Detroit Historical Society’s Dossin Maritime Group and the Dossin Great Lakes Museum, presents the 29th Great Lakes Shipwreck Festival on Saturday, Feb. 27 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Washtenaw Community College’s Morris Lawrence Building, 4800 E. Huron River Drive, in Ann Arbor.

This year’s program features two historic Civil War wrecks -- the Confederate Navy submarine C.S.S. Hunley, presented by Ralph Wilbanks, and the ironclad, U.S.S. Monitor, presented by Sue Smith. The Hunley was the first submarine to sink a ship in combat in 1864, but never returned to port. The Monitor battled the C.S.S. Virginia (formerly known as the Merrimac) in March of 1862 in the first ever combat between ironclad ships.

Daytime programs between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. feature a wide variety of sessions on Great Lakes shipwrecks, international dives and technical diving and equipment, as well as a variety of book signings and exhibits from local maritime artists, the Dossin Great Lakes Museum and local dive shops. The evening concludes with a Cayman Island Beach Break party at 6 p.m.

For ticket information or program details, visit


“The Wheelsmen” book release March 4 in Midland

2/7 - Midland, Mich. – “The Wheelsmen,” is a 200 page paperback based on harrowing true shipwreck stories. Author/historian Ric Mixter has spent over 17 years gathering information for his manuscript, including eyewitness interviews and underwater exploration of eight featured shipwrecks.

“The Wheelsmen” chronicles four men who were at the wheel when their ships were lost. Two men survived massive storms (1913 and 1940), another was aboard a Michigan-built Coast Guard cutter that mysteriously exploded near Greenland. The final chapter entails a deadly collision at the Mackinac Bridge in 1965.

Mixter is versed on the great gales that have ravaged the lakes since 1905. He has appeared on the History and Discovery channels as an expert and has also produced over 30 documentaries airing on PBS stations in Minnesota, Wisconsin and his home-state of Michigan. Mixter is also a former news reporter who created the first TV documentary on the Great Storm in 1993.


Updates - February 7

News Photo Gallery
Historic Gallery new feature, Black River
Public Gallery updated


Today in Great Lakes History - February 7

The HURON (Hull#132) was launched February 7, 1914, at Ecorse, Michigan by Great Lakes Engineering Works for Wyandotte Transportation Co. She was scrapped at Santander, Spain in 1973.

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

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

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


New Upper Lakes Shipping vessel to be named Canadian Mariner

2/6 - Upper Lakes Shipping has announced that it and its unrelated partner in Seaway Marine Transport have entered into an agreement with Chengxi Shipyard in China for the construction of an aft end that will be joined with the completed second coastal forebody built and presently positioned at the same shipyard.

The contracted delivery date of the vessel is January 31, 2011. The vessel will be crewed by Upper Lakes and bareboat chartered to Seaway Marine Transport for service beginning in the 2011 shipping season.

The completed self-unloader will be named Canadian Mariner in honor of all the sailors who have contributed to Upper Lakes Shipping’s success on the waters of the Great Lakes, St. Lawrence Seaway and Eastern Seaboard.

The company’s former gearless bulker of the same name served the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway first as the Newbrunswicker when built in 1963 and then as Canadian Mariner when purchased by Upper Lakes in 1972 until her retirement in 2007.

Along with its recently delivered coastal fleet mate Algobay, the new Canadian Mariner will lead the way to the renewal of Seaway Marine Transport’s dry bulk fleet. The vessel will be fitted with a 7,200 kW MAN B&W Tier 1 emissions-compliant engine and built to full Seaway size. The vessel will also accommodate other equipment and systems that will enable her to be the most environmentally- friendly vessel on the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway and, with the help of design partners, Deltamarin, the vessel will represent one of the most modern, safe and efficient vessels operating under Canadian registry.



U.S.C.G. to get bigger, faster helicopters at Traverse City

2/6 - Traverse City, Mich. - The U.S. Coast Guard stands to get bigger, quicker and stronger in Traverse City.

Air Station Traverse City is in line to receive four used MH-60 Jayhawk helicopters under President Barack Obama's recently released budget for fiscal year 2011, pending approval from Congress.

Larger helicopters would replace the station's current HH-65 Dolphin helicopters that would be removed from service, said Cmdr. Jonathan Spaner, the station's commanding officer.

"It's an unbelievable enhancement to our capabilities, especially with the winter weather we have here," Spaner said.

Jayhawk helicopters are far larger than the Dolphins -- able to carry more than two times the weight -- and can fly faster, carry four times the number of passengers and isn't bothered by icy and snowy weather conditions around the Great Lakes.

Coast Guard crew members with the station's current helicopter fleet must stop to re-fuel before completing rescue operations in the Chicago area after flying around bad weather, an extra step needed to avoid ice buildup on the aircraft. Jayhawk helicopters carry plenty of fuel and have de-icing abilities that allow responders to fly straight to a scene, hover longer during rescue efforts and move faster to and from missions, Spaner said.

"We won't be dodging weather. We'll fly right through it," he said.

The bigger helicopters also will improve abilities to monitor the northern border along Lakes Superior and Huron and enhance cooperation with Canadian authorities, Spaner said.

The Traverse City station was equipped with Jayhawk helicopters from 1991 through 1995, before the Dolphins were put into service here.

"We've all realized you need this air frame in this Great Lakes environment," Spaner said.

Some of the station's pilots will be trained to fly Jayhawk helicopters, while others will transfer to other bases across the country and continue to pilot Dolphins.

Lt. Cmdr. Scott Jones, a Dolphin helicopter pilot in Traverse City, said he's going to graduate school soon and won't learn to fly a Jayhawk, though he'd like to do so.

"It would be exciting to experience another air frame. It has different capabilities and opportunities," Jones said. "These capabilities really pay off on a rescue mission."

Spaner said there is no time frame for Jayhawk helicopters' arrival in Traverse City, though it will be in the 2011 fiscal year, if Congress signs off on the budget.

Traverse City Record-Eagle


Updates - February 6

Lay-up list updated - please send updates to
Public Gallery updated


Today in Great Lakes History - February 6

On 06 February 1952, the LIMESTONE (steel propeller tug, 87 foot 10 inches) was launched at Bay City, Michigan by the Defoe Shipyard (Hull #423) 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.

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.

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


Lack of snow could cause lower lake levels

2/5 - Detroit, Mich – Several months of sporadic snowfall may cause Great Lakes water levels during the summer boating season to be a bit lower than last year, according to meteorologists with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The first decade of the 21st century provided many moments of concern among those who live and play on the lakes. For the first seven years, levels slowly declined in each of the lakes until the summer of 2007, when Lake Superior reached its lowest point on record.

But in the past two years, levels crept upward until all of the lakes were at or within a few inches of their historical averages. The latest forecast for the coming summer, released this week, would appear to be a step backward, but meteorologists said it is too early to tell whether it is simply the result of a less-snowy winter so far.

In January the basin saw half of the precipitation it normally does. And with the exception of a few major storms here and there, the region hasn't seen consistent snow for most of the winter.

"The active storm systems have stayed to the south of us for most the part," said Keith Kompoltowicz, a meteorologist with the Army Corps. "We saw a huge storm sweep through Wisconsin and western Michigan in early January, as well as some smaller storms here and there. But we haven't seen the consistency we're used to."

Light snowfall in the winters means a thin snowpack and less water during the spring and early summer from melting. Less water melting into the region's streams and rivers means less water feeding the lakes. For the summer, only Lake Superior will likely be above last year's water level and only by a few inches at most. The Lake Michigan/Huron system, Lake St. Clair, Lake Erie and Lake Ontario will all likely be under last year's levels barring a particularly wet end of winter.

According to Bill Deedler, a forecaster for the National Weather Service, it's too early to tell.

"I don't want to say we won't be near normal the rest of the way, or that we won't get a big storm yet," he said. "All it takes is one big bomb and we could end up with a foot of snow. Then the projections would be right back on track."

An inch or two in lake level can make a large difference to a large number of people living and working in the basin. Someone who owns lakefront property can find themselves several additional feet away from the water with the loss of a few inches.

To the shipping industry, a loss of depth can add up to lost dollars. One less inch of depth means a loss of up to 8,000 tons of cargo to a freighter. And shipping companies are already facing a tough economy and ports in dire need of dredging. So the loss of an inch or two just makes a bad situation worse.

"Every little bit helps," said Mark Barker, president of Ohio-based president of the Interlake Steamship Co. "It's like having a weight restriction on a road. Not being able to carry as much makes each trip less cost effective."

The Detroit News


Port Reports - February 5

Detroit, Mich. - Wayne Miller
A convoy of vessels passed downbound on Lake St. Clair Thursday afternoon. The Canadian Coast Guard ship Griffon lead the way followed by Canadian Progress, Algosea and the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Bristol Bay leading the tug Everlast and her barge.

Once the convoy reached Detroit, Bristol Bay returned to the Group Detroit moorings while the other vessels continued downbound. Griffon stopped for a few minutes at Windsor then quickly departed to take up the lead position. Canadian Progress was expected to take on another load of salt for Chicago in Windsor, but that trip was cancelled and she continued on, heading for a late winter lay-up in Port Colborne.


Bay Shipbuilding to lay off 116

2/5 - Sturgeon Bay, Wisc. – Door County is losing more than 100 manufacturing jobs. It's just the latest round of layoffs for a major employer.

The company is Bay Shipbuilding in Sturgeon Bay. The Department of Workforce Development announced today that Bay will let go 116 more workers beginning April 3. Those layoffs come on the heels of 400 layoffs that were announced about five months ago.

Some of those employees have already received notice they will soon be out of a job. The company has told the state it plans to lay off about 116 workers, effective this April. FOX 11 could not reach anyone from Bay Shipbuilding for comment Thursday night, but the company's notice to the state says it is trying to avoid these layoffs by aggressively seeking new business.

Bay Shipbuilding is one of Sturgeon Bay's largest employers, specializing in building cargo vessels and tugs.

FOX 11 spoke with one employee who doesn't know exactly what his future holds, but says this news is better than the news a few months ago, 116 layoffs is better than 400 layoffs, but the situation is still less than ideal.

"I'm hopeful, but yet scared, that's exactly what it is," said Jeremy Walls, a Bay Shipbuilding employee. "I think the majority of the workers, guys (who have) been here since the '70s, '80s fearing they're going to be laid off over the summer, and that's something that's not usual around here."

"Based on what I've heard from past releases, it looks like this is probably a seasonal layoff," said Sturgeon Bay city council member Thad Birmingham. "We've been lucky. Things have been pretty good down there. They've had new work to supplement their seasonal stuff and I think some of that now is coming to an end. So hopefully that'll change soon."

The letter some employees have received says the layoff will be for longer than six months.

The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development is planning to respond to the situation through its dislocated worker program.

Fox 11 News


Great Lakes maps topic of Port Huron speaker on Sunday

2/5 - On Sunday, The Great Lakes Maritime Center in Port Huron and Brian Cylkowski will present "Three Essential Maps of the Great Lakes," about the three maps/charts that have, in his opinion, had the most significant impact on the forming and documentation of the Great Lakes. The 2 p.m. program is free and open to the public.


Updates - February 5

Public Gallery updated


Today in Great Lakes History - 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. 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.

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


Vessels put into ship shape during off season

2/4 - Port Colborne, Ont. — While ships are docked in the Welland Canal for the winter, hundreds of welders, fitters, millwrights, machinists and laborers are hard at work.

They come from across Niagara and as far away as Newfoundland year after year to work on ships for three months, work up to 60 hours a week to ensure the vessels are in top shape for the next shipping season.

Dave Marsland, general manager at Allied Marine, said his company is coordinating work for four ships in Toronto, three in Hamilton, one in Windsor and two in the Welland Canal with two more on the way.

At the beginning of the winter months, Allied staff sit down with shore engineers who outline a number of jobs that are to be completed between January and March. Ships can undergo a couple hundred thousand dollars worth of work to millions of dollars.

For the Canadian Enterprise a 30-year-old, 219-metre-long, 22.5-metre-wide ship from Toronto, its winter work includes repairs to engines and pumps and the installation of new equipment that includes a sewage treatment system, generators and an oil/water separator to pump clean water out of the ship.

The Enterprise is powered by two diesel engines which generate 8,750 horsepower combined.

"The new sewage treatment system is part of new environmental regulations to treat black and gray water," said Colin Voyer, chief engineer. To remove the ship's alternator and sewage tank, a large hole had to be cut in the side. Equipment is then shipped away or repaired at Allied's West Street location.

This year's jobs don't compare to the large amount of work that was completed on older ships last year. General foreman Les Day said those ships are tied up and undergoing fewer repairs. He estimates work is down about 30 percent. "We are working on these ships, but it's the bare minimum." 

Some Allied staff work year-round, while others come for the winter months. Ross Skinner of Newfoundland makes the trek with four other men to work on the ships. He is now repairing steel hoppers which funnel grain, iron ore, coal and other cargo to a moving belt. The cargo hold can hold 28,000 tonnes of product. For the past 14 years he has left his wife and grown children to work in Port Colborne because work can't be done in Newfoundland during the winter. He stays in the ship's cabins and has his own washroom. "It's as good as you're gonna get," he said.

Working on a ship isn't exactly glamorous, with small tunnels, large machinery and, depending on where you are, cold working conditions. On some mornings, crews can make their way down to the cargo hold to find walls covered in frost. "You've got to be watching what you do at all times," Marsland said.

The Welland Tribune


Port Reports - February 4

Twin Ports – Al Miller
News media report that about 330 Steelworkers are back on the job this week at Hibbing Taconite. Managing owner Cliffs Natural Resources is gradually ramping up employment at the mine and plant as it prepares to resume production in April. Hibbing Taconite has been idle since last May and is the only Minnesota Iron Range taconite plant still shut down. It delivers pellets primarily through the BNSF ore dock in Superior, which last navigation season saw little vessel traffic.

Straits of Mackinac – Fred Stone
Wednesday morning the Canadian Progress was eastbound from S. Chicago. She is reported to be heading to Port Colborne for lay-up.


City supports efforts to have Welland Canals named heritage site

2/4 - St. Catharines, Ont. – After four years, Bruce Timms thought his dream for the Welland Canal was closer than ever to reality.

The regional councillor for St. Catharines longed for the day when the canal corridor was given the same status as the rest of the country's national treasures. Timms had grown up alongside the canal and was dismayed to see it slowly falling apart as the years went by. He wanted to see the entire system preserved for later generations to marvel, but realized that doing so would require federal funding. In 2006, Timms, an engineer by trade, began the process of petitioning the federal board in charge of bestowing heritage status.

Timms was as close as he had ever been to his goal in November, when the management corporation for the Welland Canal objected to plans to include all four canals for designation.

While the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp. maintained it supported the idea of designating three of the four canals as historic, it could not support the same for the fourth canal, which is the only canal in commercial operation today.

In a presentation to St. Catharines city council on Monday, Timms said he received a letter from the Seaway notifying him that the federal body would not support his application until concerns could be resolved regarding how heritage status would effect the day-to-day operations of the fourt canal.

Timms said the objection from the Seaway was raised right before a planned meeting with Parks Canada would have decided whether the canals would receive national monument status.

"We were within footsteps of the heritage board meeting to get the designation," Timms said.

St. Catharines Mayor Brian McMullan said he hopes an impasse between municipalities along the canal and the Seaway ends when the sides meet later this month. This follows a unanimous vote by city council to accept Timms' request for city staff to meet with the Seaway as soon as possible.

McMullan said it is essential to hammer out an understanding with the Seaway because of the tourism benefits from having the canals declared a heritage site.

There's so much potential with the canal," McMullan said. "Other tourist destinations have received millions of dollars in federal funding and in order to get it they need the designations."

Although he admitted the city was unlikely to get the Seaway to agree to a plan from Parks Canada to designate all four canals as historic sites, McMullan maintained there was room to negotiate a "partial designation" that would see the three historic and non-operational canals receive a designation while the fourth canal gets excluded from the discussion.

"The city is willing to step through the door that's opened," McMullan said. "It's a reasonable position to take. Let's talk about what a partial designation means."

Timms said he wasn't entirely surprised by the Seaway's concerns that a historical designation could create "extra headaches" for the day-to-day operation of the fourth canal, especially since such a designation could lead to increased legal obligations in preserving heritage buildings. "Whether it comes to replacing roofs or eliminating heritage buildings they're worried that the public will want them saved," Timms said. "I understand their legitimate concern."

The Seaway's Bruce Hodgson emphasized that no decision would be made until all sides fully understand the implications of a historical designation. "A heritage designation brings with it a number of possible impacts and we need to be aware of those," said Hodgson, the Seaway's director of marketing and development. However, he maintained that his organization is still willing to come to some sort of understanding.  "We're prepared to meet," Hodgson said. "We've been a part of the process and will continue to be a part of it."

With the Seaway's support, Timms said a proposal could still be sent to Parks Canada's National Historic Sites and Monuments Board in time for an autumn vote.  "We were pretty pleased that it was going to be decided last fall," Timms said. "But now we have to hit it again for this fall."

The St. Catharines Standard


New stamp commemorating Mighty Mac to be unveiled

2/4 - Port Huron, Mich. – The Mackinac Bridge Authority and the Michigan Department of Transportation unveiled a Priority Mail stamp commemorating the bridge at a Wednesday morning ceremony at Bridge View Park in St. Ignace, Mich.

The new stamp costs $4.90.

Artist Dan Cosgrove used panoramic photographs to create the stamp artwork featuring seagulls flying around the bridge’s two towers and a large ship passing underneath.

According to the Web site, the first U.S. postage stamp devoted to the Mackinac Bridge was a 3-cent stamp issued June 25, 1958 to celebrate the November 1957 opening of the five-mile-long bridge.

Port Huron Times Herald


Updates - February 4

Public Gallery updated


Today in Great Lakes History - 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 floatlaunched on February 4, 1981, (Hull #909).

In 1977, the ROGER BLOUGH arrived at the American Shipbuilding Company in Lorain, Ohio for winter lay up 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 4, 1904 - Captain Russell of the PERE MARQUETTE 17 reported that Lake Michigan was frozen all the way to Manitowoc.

In 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.

Data from: Max Hanley, Brian Bernard, Father Dowling Collection, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series.


Algoma Central acquires bunkering tanker Algoma Dartmouth

2/3 - Toronto, Ont. - Algoma Tankers Limited has acquired ownership of the product tanker Algoma Dartmouth for a purchase price of US $9 million. Prior to this purchase, the Algoma Dartmouth was operated by Algoma Tankers Limited under a long-term bareboat charter arrangement. The vessel provides fuel delivery and vessel bunkering services within the Halifax Harbour.

Algoma Dartmouth was built in Turkey in 2007. It is a high specification double-hull IMO II oil and chemical tanker. Its overall length is 90.5 metres, breadth is 14.6 metres. It has a cargo capacity of 3,569 tonnes and a cubic capacity of 4,324.26 cu. metres. It has twin engines and propellers (total bhp - 2,548) with a powerful bow thruster.

The Algoma Tankers fleet now consists of seven vessels, including the new product tankers, Algonova and Algocanada which joined the fleet in late 2008 and early 2009. This fleet is the newest and most technologically advanced product tanker fleet operating within the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River system and on the Canadian east coast. This double-hulled tanker fleet operates to the highest standards required under fully-compliant ISO 14001 Environmental Management and ISO 9001 Quality Management Systems and the International Safety Management Code.

The corporation has also recently reached an agreement with our domestic dry-bulk joint venture, Seaway Marine Transport (SMT), to time charter three bulk carriers to them for a five- year term commencing upon their arrival in Canada later this year. These vessels, Algoma Spirit, Algoma Guardian and Algoma Discovery, are currently owned by Algoma Shipping Inc., a wholly-owned foreign subsidiary of the corporation. They are all maximum Seaway size bulkers and were built in 1986 (Spirit) and 1987 (Guardian and Discovery).

The vessels will arrive in Canada later this year. Upon their arrival, the corporation will provide operating management and crewing services for the vessels. The vessels are expected to be deployed by SMT primarily in the grain and iron ore trades. SMT is the largest operator of dry-bulk vessels on the Great Lakes - St. Lawrence Waterway.

The corporation, through a wholly-owned subsidiary, has five product tankers under construction. When completed over the next two years these vessels will join an existing owned product tanker plus 18 other product tankers that are owned or are under construction by unrelated parties in the Hanseatic Tankers fleet. The corporation, also through subsidiaries, is part of a 26 vessel ocean-going self-unloading dry bulk fleet. Within this fleet, the corporation jointly owns five vessels and wholly owns two vessels. The corporation provides diversified ship repair, diesel engine repair services and fabrication services to ship-owners and industrial customers throughout the Great Lakes - St. Lawrence Waterway. The corporation also has a mix of commercial real estate properties in Sault Ste. Marie, Waterloo and St. Catharines, Ont.

Algoma Central Corporation


Port Reports - February 3

St. Clair River -
Canadian Transport was upbound from Windsor Tuesday afternoon, escorted by the Canadian Coast Guard Ship Griffon. The Transport is loaded with salt for South Chicago.

Toledo, Ohio - Bob Vincent
The U.S. Coast Guard ice breaker Bristol Bay broke ice for the Algoeast on Tuesday. Algoeast headed up river to the Toledo Ship Yard and entered the dry dock early evening with the help from two Great Lakes tug. Iron Head Marine will be doing the work.

Halifax, N.S. - Mac Mackay
Atlantic Huron is scheduled to move into drydock on Wednesday morning.


Port of Hamilton casting its net for non-steel cargo

2/3 - Hamilton, Ont. – After nearly a century of relying on the steel industry, the Hamilton Port Authority is launching an ambitious plan to change the nature of its business.

The plan, sketched out Monday, will see $500 million invested in new facilities over the next decade to expand the kinds of cargo passing over its piers.

"We have been dependent on steel for a considerable period and we have to change that," port authority CEO Bruce Wood said. "The steel companies are still very important to us and we service them like crazy, but we can't be as dependent on them as we have been."

One part of that plan is a barge service launched last summer. Twice a week, the Niagara Spirit moves as much as 7,280 tonnes of freight down the St. Lawrence River and across the lake from Montreal to Hamilton.

Grain and other commodities move the other way on the return trip by the barge, which is operated by Hamilton-based McKeil Marine. The service is designed to take trucks off the highways and train cars off the rails.

"We think this is the most socially responsible way we have of moving cargo," Wood said. "We had a very successful startup season last year."

The service has two downsides: it's not as fast as moving by truck and can only operate during the March-December seaway season.

While cargo-hauling barges are a common sight in Europe, transportation by water has been hampered in North America by a heavy reliance on road and rail transportation and high tolls on the St. Lawrence Seaway.

"We very much need an attitude shift here," said authority vice-chair Darrel Skidmore.

As that service and the authority's effort to draw other kinds of cargo into Hamilton Harbour take hold, Wood said heavy investment will be needed in the port's infrastructure of piers, warehouses, roads and other services.

About $150 million of the total will come from the authority -- it's entirely self-funding without government grants.

"Everything we put into this we are going to have to earn through cargo over our piers," he said, adding the balance will come from investment partners.

The effort is part of the authority’s desire to open itself to more involvement with the community as it tries to sell itself as an economic driver for the area.

"We have an emerging and very good story to tell and we'd better tell it," Skidmore said. "This is a first step toward moving that agenda forward."

The Hamilton Spectator


Ambitious plans, cold reality settle in at Montreal

2/3 - Montreal, Que. – The Port of Montreal's giant dockside cranes are once again picking up the pace as the outlook for global shipping begins to brighten.

But ambitious plans for a major capacity expansion at the sprawling facility will have to be scaled back as a result of the impact of the global economic slowdown, says president and chief executive officer Sylvie Vachon.

In 2008, during what turned out to be one of its best years and before the effects of the meltdown began to be felt, the Montreal Port Authority (MPA) grandly announced an ambitious $2.5-billion project – called Vision 2020 – to upgrade and expand handling and terminal operations. The multiyear program was billed as the first major expansion of the port, a key gateway for cargo shipments for Eastern Canada and the U.S. Midwest, in two decades.

In the cold hard light of the still fragile economic recovery, however, the MPA will have to settle for a reduced version of Vision 2020, said Ms. Vachon, who took over as CEO last August after becoming the interim chief in March in the wake of the sudden departure of her predecessor, Patrice Pelletier.

“This is going to be a slow recovery,” she said in an interview. “It's going to take two to three years just to get back to 2008 levels, which was after all a record year.”

“Now, with traffic closer to 2005 and 2006 levels, we have to revisit our development programs. It's an opportunity to perform a deeper analysis of what we need and make some good choices,” she said about the project.

It's too early to provide details, but one thing is clear: the goal is no longer to triple container capacity to 4.3 million 20-foot equivalent units, she said. Equivalent units is a measure the shipping industry uses to compare volumes.

Last year, the port's handling of equivalent units fell 15.3 per cent to 1.24 million.

The total for cargo of all types handled in 2009 was 24.5 million tonnes, a 12-per-cent drop from 2008 that reflected the steep downturn in global traffic as exports and imports fell dramatically.

Ms. Vachon sees a “slow recovery” as signs of life in international trading begin to emerge.

Recent growth in some categories of dry bulk cargo traffic, such as iron ore, could be a sign that a solid revival is under way, she said.

A key to the port's ability to bounce back is its growing diversification of markets, with less dependence on the North Atlantic routes to Europe and expansion of new routes in the Mediterranean, the Caribbean, Latin America and Asia, she said.

Market diversification helped offset the impact of the downturn, Ms. Vachon said. Container traffic to and from the Mediterranean actually grew in 2009, by 5.5 per cent over the previous year in the number of 20-foot equivalent units.

Another bright note was the rise in marine grain shipping traffic, up 14.7 per cent over 2008. The fall in shipping rates during the recession had a positive effect on shipments of Canadian wheat headed to Asia because it became more competitive with grain from Australia.

Ms. Vachon said the MPA is also looking to lure more cruise ships to its passenger terminal in Old Montreal.

Among the ideas being looked at are a refurbishment of the Alexandra Pier passenger terminal, as well as building a tourism and entertainment complex accessible to passengers and local residents alike.

The St. Lawrence River is an increasingly popular cruise-ship destination and the Port of Montreal wants to get a bigger piece of that business, Ms. Vachon said.

The Globe and Mail


Updates - February 3

Lay-up list updated - please send updates to
News Photo Gallery
Public Gallery updated
Historic Gallery new feature, Black River


Today in Great Lakes History - 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.

Data from: Max Hanley, Joe Barr, Father Dowling Collection and the Historical Collections of the Great Lakes.


Ice causing minor delays in lower St. Clair River

2/2 - Algonac, Mich. – About 11:20 Monday morning, Canadian Transport was stuck in the ice at Algonac opposite Canadian light A34. Downbound in ballast, she was freed about 30 minutes later by the Canadian Coast Guard ship Griffon.

Both vessels docked in Windsor, the Griffion at Dieppe Park and the Transport at Ojibway Salt to load for South Chicago.


Rand Logistics announce strong earnings

2/2 - New York, N.Y. - Rand Logistics Inc., parent company of Lower Lakes Towing Ltd., announced Monday that it expects its operating income before depreciation, amortization and a one-time charge for a loan amendment fee, for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2010, to be in the range of $20.5 to $21.0 million based on current exchange rates, which will be the highest in the company’s history.

Total sailing days for the nine months ended December 31, 2009 equaled 2,977 or 90.2 percent of the theoretical maximum, versus 3,066 for the same year-ago period. The company anticipates that, based on current exchange rates, capital and dry-dock expenditures for the 2010 winter season ending March 31, 2010 will be in the range of $7.5 to $8.0 million.

The company said that the increase in its earnings guidance is a result of a modest improvement in demand from certain of its customers, a continued focus on expense control, relatively benign weather conditions in the fiscal third quarter and effective vessel scheduling and utilization.

“We are very pleased that we expect to exceed our previously provided fiscal year 2010 earnings guidance,” Laurence Levy, Chairman and CEO of Rand, said. “Our financial results will have been achieved in an economic environment where tonnage volumes were down 30 to 40 percent for certain of the commodities that we carry, versus last year.

“We believe that our strong operating performance will be achieved despite adverse market conditions due to the diversity of our customer base, the size and configuration of our fleet and the scheduling flexibility it affords us, coupled with our cost efficient operating model. For our upcoming sailing season, we are expecting the economic recovery to be gradual, muted and uneven and believe that barring a further downturn in the economy or changes in the exchange rates, our fiscal year 2010 results reflect the floor of the company’s earnings.”

Rand will issue financial results for its fiscal 2010 third quarter ended December 31, 2009 on Tuesday, February 9, 2010, before the market opens.

Through its subsidiaries, the Rand operates a fleet of 10 self-unloading bulk carriers, including eight river-class vessels and one river-class integrated tug/barge unit, and three conventional bulk carriers, of which one is operated under a contract of affreightment. Headquartered in New York, N.Y., Rand Logistics was formed in 2006 through the acquisition of the outstanding shares of capital stock of Lower Lakes Towing Ltd.

Rand Logistics


Lake Superior saw normal drop in January

2/2 - Duluth, Minn. – Lake Superior sits four inches below its long-term average for this time of year and four inches higher than the Feb. 1, 2009, level.

The level of Lake Superior dropped three inches in January, according to the International Lake Superior Board of Control. The level of Lake Superior dropped three inches in January, the usual decline for the month, according to the International Lake Superior Board of Control.

The lake sits four inches below its long-term average for this time of year and four inches higher than the Feb. 1, 2009, level. The level of Lakes Michigan-Huron dropped two inches in January, more than the usual one-inch drop, and is six inches below long-term average and six inches above the level at this time last year.

Duluth News Tribune


Lake Erie mostly ice-free

2/2 - Cleveland, Ohio – Lake Erie remains unfrozen. At the beginning of January Lake Erie was mostly ice-free. A small line of ice can be seen along the south shore and a large area of ice is visible in the western basin. The Lake Erie water temperature off Cleveland Harbor is 33 degrees. That's very close to the freezing mark. Last week's milder weather kept the lake temperature from falling further and forming the coating of ice that would seriously limit future snowfall across the snow belts of northern Ohio. Much of Lake Erie is open water. The western basin near Toledo is the only area to show a decent ice cover. The water depth there averages only 25 feet deep, so this area is usually the first to freeze.

The central basin from Lorain to Ashtabula is deeper. Its depth averages about 65 feet. It will take another two weeks of frigid, sub-freezing temperatures to get this area to freeze over.

Lake-effect snow is a unique phenomena that occurs downwind of all of the Great Lakes. It occurs when cold arctic air moves over the relatively warm, unfrozen waters of the Lake. The cold air picks up moisture and then is lifted up over the higher terrain downwind of the lakeshore. That lifting causes the air to cool further and drop the moisture it had stolen from the lake surface. The moisture falls out of the air in the form of snow.

News Channel 5


Buoy technology reveals workings of Great Lakes

2/2 - South Bend, Ind. – The map is a Battleship board without grid lines. Red, yellow and blue squares on online maps mark where research scientists Steven Ruberg and Guy Meadows deploy techno-savvy buoys to measure near-shore conditions in the Great Lakes.

"The government buoys that are out in the center of the lake are wonderful, but they don't tell what's happening in the coastal zone, and most of the people live and play and work in the coastal zones," said Meadows, a professor and director of the Marine Hydrodynamics Laboratories at the University of Michigan.

Ruberg is an observing systems researcher at the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration's Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory in Ann Arbor.

Buoys are these scientists' toy soldiers, strategically positioned to relay near-shore conditions to Web sites.

The race to provide real-time data about Great Lakes near-shore weather and water conditions is one both scientists have worked on for five years. The goal, Meadows said, is to compile a long-term data set. By characterizing typical conditions, the scientists will be better equipped to predict changes to the ecosystem and water quality.

The scientists' buoys differ in form more than function. Their equipment measures anything from wave direction and height, air temperature and pressure, wind speed, humidity, water temperature and algae. "We're essentially providing observations from the surface of the water to the bottom," Ruberg said.

While Meadow's buoys are primarily in Grand Traverse Bay and Little Traverse Bay, Ruberg's fleet spreads across lakes Michigan, Huron and Erie.

Most are powered by solar panels and chained to a weight. Meadows' buoys use cell phones to report information to his Web site every six minutes and to the U.S. Government's National Data Buoy Center, which provides information from buoys around the world.

But buoy wars don't come without risk of casualties. Ice and winter storms prevent the teams from leaving their buoys out to study lake conditions during the cold months.

"The winter season is when the most severe storms are and some of the greatest changes that the lake undergoes are during winter when all that heat that's been stored up all summer long has dissipated," Meadows said.

Ice sheets could also move buoys, causing them to take on water. "Biofouling" — the buildup of algae or microbial organisms on buoys and sensors, lightning storms and boat traffic also threaten the technology.

Risks aside, a shot at good data drives scientists to join the buoy arms race. "You can get long-term continuous day and night data sets which are pretty much impossible to obtain by conventional means of humans going out into the lake on a boat," said Tom Consi, an associate scientist at the Great Lakes Water Institute in Milwaukee. "You just don't have access to a boat 24 hours a day and a person able to do that kind of sampling or measuring."

Consi has seven buoys in his Great Lakes Urban Coastal Observing System fleet. Two of the buoys can study chemical, biological and physical lake processes for up to a year while the rest monitor nearshore conditions for weeks at a time.

South Bend Tribune


Today in Great Lakes History - 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, a.) PILOT KNOB (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.

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


Port Reports - February 1

Straits of Mackinac – Fred Stone
Sunday morning Canadian Progress was westbound from Goderich to South Chicago with salt. The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Biscayne Bay came out of St. Ignace to lead Progress westbound under the bridge and into Lake Michigan. About 2:30 Sunday afternoon the Canadian Transport was eastbound returning from South Chicago to Windsor to load salt. Biscayne Bay led the Transport through the ice from Lake Michigan under the bridge toward Round Island passage.

Goderich, Ont. - Roger Wyatt
Canadian Progress is due in Goderich on Monday or Tuesday to load her last load of salt for the year. She will unload at Detroit later in the week, then continue to Port Colborne for layup. This trip would normally take three or four days but because of the recent cold snap and a buildup of ice on Lake Erie it could take seven or eight days.


Coast Guard rescues five in Saginaw Bay

2/1 - Cleveland, Ohio - U.S. Coast Guard Station Saginaw River rescued five people in Saginaw Bay, Mich., Sunday at approximately 7 p.m.

Three females and two males were rescued after two all-terrain vehicles they had been riding fell through the ice. The victims were able to get out of the water, back onto the ice and call 911.

An SPC-Air airboat from Station Saginaw River and an HH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Air Station Detroit were dispatched to the scene.

“We got out there and picked up all five people,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Greg Torrey, coxswain of Saginaw River’s airboat. “They all seemed okay, not hypothermic, just wet and really cold.”

The airboat transported the five to Thomas Marina, where they were met by local EMS and checked for injuries.

“We dropped them off at the marina and they all got checked out by the ambulance,” added Torrey. “They didn’t need to go to the hospital.”


Annual Shipmasters Association scholarships awarded

2/1 - Each year, the International Shipmasters Association Grand Lodge donates three $500 scholarships. One, known as the Hawsepipe scholarship, is open to any Canadian or American unlicensed rating in the Great Lakes basin. The second and third scholarships are for marine officer cadet scholarships with the Great Lakes Maritime Academy in Traverse City, Mich., and at the Great Lakes International Marine Training Centre in Owen Sound, Ont.

The following 2010 winners were selected by vote by the Scholarship Committee:
Hawsepipe Award
Brendan Groh, of Sheboygan, Wisc. – A.B. employed by Central Marine Logistics
Georgian College Cadet Award
Sarah Needham, Third-year navigation cadet, Owen Sound, Ont.
Great Lakes Maritime Academy Award
Wesley Kuhns, Third-year navigation cadet, Traverse City, Mich.


May 2010 lighthouse and freighter cruise

2/1 - BoatNerd and the Great Lakes Lighthouse Keepers Association have joined with Keweenaw Excursions to organize the first lighthouse/freighter chasing event of 2010. This unusual trip will take place from May 19 to May 21.

The fun will begin and end in Sault Ste. Marie, and features a two-day cruise aboard the Keweenaw Star which will travel from Marquette across Lake Superior, down the St. Marys River, overnight in the Soo, continue down thru the Rock Cut, DeTour, and across the top of Lake Huron. The cruise will pass under the Mackinac Bridge and sail down Lake Michigan to Charlevoix. The boat will provide photo opportunities at 20 lighthouses and all the vessels in the busy shipping lanes along the way.

Due to bus availability, this event is limited to the first 46 people who make reservations. Make yours today. Click here for details.


Updates - February 1

News Photo Gallery
Public Gallery updated


Today in Great Lakes History - 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.

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: Max Hanley, Joe Barr, Father Dowling Collection, Brian Bernard, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series.


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