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Port Reports - February 28
Buffalo, N.Y. – Brian W.
Agriculture Minister rips wheat board for buying lake ships
2/28 - Ottawa, Ont. - Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz lambasted the Canadian Wheat Board Wednesday for buying ships.
In response to a planted question from a backbench Conservative MP during question period, Ritz called the board's $65-million purchase of two ships to carry grain across the Great Lakes an irresponsible scheme that puts farmers' money at risk.
"I have constantly told the wheat board that farmers' money in the pool account is off limits to them," Ritz said. "It should not be misappropriated like this."
Ritz said farmers weren't consulted and accused the wheat board of treating farmers' money as a "slush fund."
Board chairman Allen Oberg dismissed Ritz's comments as uninformed. "Minister Ritz can say what he wants, but from a business case, this is a solid decision."
The wheat board announced recently it will spend $65 million over the next four crop years to buy two ships to move grain across the Great Lakes. The board said the purchase means Prairie wheat farmers will share in the profits of shipping grain on the lakes.
The grain is destined for eastern Canadian ports and ultimately exported to Europe, Africa and Latin America. Prairie grain shipments through eastern Canadian ports have increased more than 35 per cent in the last decade to 3.8 million tonnes of wheat board grain in 2009. That figure is expected to keep rising in coming years as demand grows for Canadian wheat and barley.
Oberg said it will take less than eight years for the wheat board to make back the money spent to buy the ships, which is a decent payback period on ships that have a minimum lifespan of 25 years
Winnipeg Free Press
Michigan seeks keepers for Tawas Point Lighthouse
2/28 - East Tawas, Mich. — Michigan is seeking volunteers to spend a week or two at the Tawas Point Lighthouse as lighthouse keepers.
The lighthouse is at Tawas Point State Park in the northeast Lower Peninsula along the shores of Lake Huron.
The program is open to singles and couples ages 18 and older between March 4 and Dec. 23. Chuck Allen, Tawas Point State Park supervisor, suggests that volunteers be able to lead tours through the lighthouse and tower, and perform housekeeping duties and light maintenance or lawn care.
Volunteers may stay in the newly-renovated lighthouse keeper's quarters for $250 per person, per week in exchange for their volunteer contribution. Details are available on the state's website
Life aboard a Coast Guard ship
2/28 - College life for Telissa Leblanc-Rioux isn't exactly what you'd expect.
The 20-year-old Quebec City native is spending her second year crushing ice in the Great Lakes.
"It's definitely different — you have to be ready for anything," said Officer Cadet Leblanc-Rioux, a student at the Canadian Coast Guard College who's spending part of her semester aboard the CCGS Griffon.
"When you hear from your friends and what they're doing, it's like, 'thanks for the invite, but I'm in the middle of the lake."
She and fellow Officer Cadet Jess Downey spent some time — along with 25 other crew members — parked in Sarnia while the 4,000 horsepower vessel underwent inspection at the Government Docks Friday.
"Every day is a new challenge — one day you're doing buoy tending, the next day you're doing escorts and ice breaking," said Downey, a 21-year-old native of Newfoundland. "You get to see a lot of Canada's beauty."
The Griffon has had a busy winter, escorting ships through ice-jammed waterways like the St. Clair River.
"The season started out fairly hard; winter came early in this area, and the river really filled up with ice," said Captain John Stewart, noting that last week's warm spell opened things up a bit.
Then, things froze up again.
"We got this northeast wind that brought a lot of ice from Lake Huron that migrated down the river. So things are getting tight again."
Stewart, a native of Halifax, said he couldn't imagine working on dry land.
"I've always imagined being on the water; I could never work behind a desk," said Stewart, who spends his off duty time at home with wife Judy and daughter Quinn.
"I always equate it to bouncing between the two families — your ship family and your home family."
Stewart, who has also served in the Maritimes and Pacific regions, said there's something unique about shipping in the Great Lakes.
"You get a real connection to commerce; if the ships can't get there, it affects the whole economy of Canada."
Meanwhile, at the Canadian Coast Guard's Central and Arctic Region headquarters in Sarnia, Ice Service Specialist Denis Lambert keeps a close eye on the St. Clair River.
"The snow and ice flushing from Lake Huron has come down the river and is backed all the way to Sombra," said Lambert, pointing to several radar and satellite computer screens. "It's ice that's all crushed into pieces — and it's pretty thick."
The Christina Street headquarters, known as the ROC — Regional Operations Centre — is home base for all operations in the Central and Arctic Region.
"All tasking for Coast Guard resources within the region takes place through us," said Andy Maillet, superintendent of operations, pointing to an area bounded by 71% of Canada's coastline. "I don't think a lot of people here know that."
The shipping season is generally quiet this time of year, with the St. Lawrence and Sault Ste. Marie locks closed, he said.
But officers at the ROC are still on hand to watch every last move on the water — 24/7.
"We say that this is when shipping goes to bed," said Maillet. "But we never go to bed."
The Sarnia Observer
2011 S/S Badger Boatnerd Gathering Cruise Announced
2/28 - On Saturday, June 4, 2011, we are once again pleased to offer the popular Boatnerd Badger Gathering. A round-trip crossing of Lake Michigan from Ludington, Michigan to Manitowoc, Wisconsin, aboard the Lake Michigan Carferry S/S Badger.
Join us in traveling on the only coal-fired steamer left on the Great Lakes. Visit the Wisconsin Maritime Museum in Manitowoc and see the operating restored forward engine from the legendary railroad ferry Chief Wawatam, and the WWII submarine Cobia, or go on the optional Wisconsin Shoreline Cruise aboard the Badger.
On Friday night, June 3rd, we have arranged a special Badger Boatel B&B to stay aboard the steamer on the night prior to the cruise. Reservations for staterooms are limited. This optional part of the gathering may offer pilothouse and engine room tours. See the Boatnerd Gathering Page for complete details and sign up form.
Updates - February 28
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.
Port Reports - February 27
St. Clair River
Not enough: Bid for Bramble turned down
2/27 - Port Huron, Mich. - A bid was submitted for the decommissioned U.S. Coast Guard cutter Bramble, but the ship won't be leaving Port Huron any time soon.
Dale Ridder, 59, of Zion, Ill., said he submitted a bid for the ship, but members of the Port Huron Museum Executive Committee rejected it Wednesday. Susan Bennett, executive director of the Port Huron Museum, would not say how much was offered, but wrote in an e-mail it was "significantly below the $300,000 asking price."
The Bramble, commissioned in 1944, is owned by the Port Huron Museum, which received the ship after it was decommissioned in 2003. The museum's board of trustees decided in December 2009 to sell the ship.
Ridder said the Bramble is in need of new batteries, which he estimated to cost about $10,600. To determine whether anything else needs work on the ship, he needs to start the ship's 1944 main motor, but he can't do that until the batteries are changed, Ridder said. "Whoever gets the ship is going to have to move it on its own power. Otherwise, they're going to have to pay a towing bill," Ridder said.
He said having the ship towed could be expensive. Therefore, many repairs would need to be made in Port Huron, and that means he would need "a lot of upfront money."
Other factors include the costs of meeting Coast Guard and American Bureau of Shipping regulations for a commercial vessel.
The shipping bureau's costs would be $100,000, he said. Other modifications that immediately would be needed, such as bringing the ship into compliance with all current and fire safety standards, total another $100,000. The Coast Guard would not complete inspections on the ship until Ridder has the title, so it's unclear what other modifications would need to be made, he said.
Ridder said he compared the Bramble to another cutter, the Sundew, a 180-foot buoy tender owned by Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center. The Sundew sold in October 2009 for $100,100, only $100 more than the asking price, Ridder said. The Sundew was sold with 25,000 gallons of usable diesel fuel and 1985 engines, Ridder said. The Bramble has 2,000 gallons of fuel, meaning he would have to buy more fuel. Like the Bramble, the Sundew also needed new batteries, he said.
"When doing all the crunching, the ships are basically highly comparable," Ridder said. "... The pluses and minuses for both ships weigh each other out."
Based on the Sundew sale, Ridder said he was surprised the Bramble's asking price was so high. The Sundew's buyer did not plan to use it commercially so he didn't have to comply with all the regulations the Bramble is facing, Ridder said. Still, Ridder plans to go over his options to see whether he can make another offer on the Bramble.
Ridder has said he intended to use the ship commercially, but said the museum's asking price is too high even if the ship were to be used as a yacht. "I just can't go that high," he said.
Port Huron Times Herald
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.
Algoma Central to acquire Upper Lakes fleet: Firm with roots going back 80 years to disappear from lakes this spring
2/26 - Algoma Central Corporation (Algoma) announced Friday that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire from Upper Lakes Group Inc. (ULG) its partnership interest in Seaway Marine Transport and related entities (collectively, SMT) along with the vessels and assets owned by ULG and its affiliates and used by SMT in its Great Lakes - St. Lawrence Waterway dry-bulk freight business.
The transaction is expected to close by the end of March, subject to regulatory approval.
Under the terms of the transaction, Algoma will acquire 11 vessels currently owned by ULG, consisting of four gearless and seven self-unloading bulk freighters. Algoma will also acquire ULG's interest in two gearless and two self-unloading bulk freighters that are now owned jointly by Algoma and ULG as well as ULG's interest in a self-unloader currently under construction at Chengxi Shipyard in China, which is expected to arrive in Canada in July, 2011 . The purchase price under the transaction is $85,000,000, subject to certain adjustments.
"The very difficult decision to sell to Algoma was based on a number of critical factors including the large capital requirements required to take the business forward for another quarter century," said Upper Lakes Group chairman Jack Leitch in an announcement late Friday on the firm's Web site. "We were also motivated by the desire to ensure the future employment of our employees and continued trade for our vessels. We decided that this could be best achieved by coming to an agreement with a company that has an equally long history in this business. That a healthy and robust Canadian shipping company will result is of great comfort to me and should be for all of you."
Upper Lakes Group will hold on to its remaining assets in the grain, marine repair and industrial, liquid bulk and property development / golf services.
"We are extremely pleased to have been able to reach this historic agreement with our longstanding partner, ULG, and to welcome the shipboard personnel of the acquired vessels to the Algoma family," said Greg Wight, President and Chief Executive Officer of Algoma.
"Combined with the recent announcement of our significant investment in state of the art new Equinox Class lake freighters, the acquisition of the ULG fleet and the remaining interest in SMT will allow Algoma to enhance its focus on its domestic drybulk marine transportation segment and the very important task of fleet renewal," added Wight. "New Equinox Class vessels will provide much needed improvements in operating efficiency and environmental performance. Fleet renewal will allow us to continue our leadership position in domestic dry-bulk transportation and maintain Canadian jobs in this essential sector."
The announcement did not include any information about possible vessel renamings.
On December 21, 2010, Algoma announced the signing of an agreement for the purchase of four new maximum St. Lawrence Seaway-sized dry-bulk lake freighters from Nantong Mingde Shipyard in China ("NMD"). The order includes one gearless bulk freighter and three self-unloading vessels. As a result of the transaction described above, Algoma will acquire a second gearless bulk freighter currently on order by ULG from NMD. This vessel was described in Algoma's February 8, 2011 Press Release. This gearless bulk carrier purchase brings to five the total number of "Equinox Class" lakers ordered by Algoma from NMD. These vessels will be joined in SMT with an additional two new Equinox Class gearless bulk carriers to be purchased by the Canadian Wheat Board. This purchase was also announced in Algoma's February 8, 2011 Press Release. The new Equinox Class vessels are expected to arrive in 2013 - 2014.
Full text of the letter from Jack Leitch posted on the ULS website
Colleagues and friends,
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.
Lakes coal trade up 22 percent in January
2/25 - Cleveland, Ohio - Shipments of coal on the Great Lakes totaled 750,000 tons in January, an increase of 22 percent compared to a year ago. The largest gain nearly 60 percent came in loadings from Superior, Wisconsin. Despite the positive comparison to a year ago, this January’s shipments are nearly 40 percent below the month’s 5-year average.
Lake Carriers' Association
Federal maritime agency gathers Twin Ports input
2/25 - Duluth, Minn. – The U.S. Department of Transportation Maritime Administration was in Duluth on Wednesday gathering input on what Twin Ports shipping interests want as the federal government works to upgrade ports, locks and waterways.
The federal agency, part of the Department of Transportation, is undertaking a study called “U.S. Great Lakes Shipping Revitalization.”
Maritime transportation leaders, dock operators, cargo owners and waterfront officials from the Twin Ports attended the session at the Inn on Lake Superior. A similar session was held last week in Cleveland and another is slated for Chicago next week. U.S. Maritime Administrator David Matsuda was part of the session, which focused on several key areas of concern:
• Current and projected market demands for ships, ports, facilities and locks
The Duluth session also looked at the need for port development funding to link Great Lakes ports with rail and highway transport.
“One of the things that came up in each issue discussion was trying to promote the benefits of maritime transportation, moving goods by water,” said Adele Yorde, public relations manager for the Duluth Seaway Port Authority. “For a lot of people, when they think of transportation, water doesn’t rise to the top of the list, and we think we should change that.”
Yorde said the federal budget shortfall may limit funding for huge new public works projects such as locks and ports. But she said some private port facility owners are considering investing in upgrades.
Federal officials said the Obama administration is interested in finding transportation solutions on the Great Lakes that help keep the region economically competitive and do so in an environmentally sustainable manner.
Duluth News Tribune
Study shows surprising impact Great Lakes have on U.S. economy
2/25 - The Great Lakes provide 1.5 million jobs in the U.S., and $62 billion in wages every year, according to a study by Michigan Sea Grant at the University of Michigan.
"Many people don't realize how large an impact the Great Lakes have across many large sectors of this region's economy," Jennifer Read, the Sea Grant's assistant director, said in a statement released today. "The total number of jobs and the percentage of jobs by industry illustrate just how critical the Great Lakes are to the region. For example, there are more than 525,000 Great Lakes-related jobs in Michigan alone."
The study included the eight states that border the Great Lakes.
Read and research specialist Lynn Vaccaro are authors of the analysis, which is based on 2009 federal employment data. The Sea Grant is a collaborative effort of University of Michigan and Michigan State University. The latest study is an update to a report issued in 2009.
The updated study said Michigan has the most jobs related to the Great Lakes, with 525,886. Others are Illinois (380,786), Ohio (178,621), Wisconsin (173,969), New York (157,547), Indiana (54,397), Pennsylvania (25,479) and Minnesota (11,877).
The study said 66 percent of those jobs were in manufacturing, with tourism next at 14 percent. Shipping and agriculture each accounted for 8 percent, while science and engineering, utilities and mining had smaller percentages.
The study said ships on the Great Lakes annually carry 163 million tons of cargo, and are more efficient than rail or trucks.
"The quality of our lives in Michigan, and the region, is largely defined by the Great Lakes. They provide us sustenance, livelihoods, recreation and a sense of place," said Jim Diana,Sea Grant director and University of Michigan professor.
The Grand Rapids Press
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.
Shipping officials huddle in Duluth to send message to feds
2/24 - Duluth, Minn. – For one of the first times in Twin Ports history private, state, regional, and federal maritime officials got together to discuss the future of Great Lakes shipping. The Twin Ports is one of just three sites in the nation the U.S. Department of Transportation is gathering information from to plan for the future of shipping. Superior Port Director Jason Serck says they’re discussing everything from fleet issues to invasive species.
“How do we do terminal upgrades? What type of funding is out there? What do we have to create to be a little bit friendlier with our terminals? What are some of the issues with ballast water? How can MARAD be involved in ballast water? How can they continue to be a huge player and work with other environmental groups as well as some of the port operators who are in the industries?”
Ballast water was one of the hottest topics discussed at the meeting. Duluth Port Authority Public Relations Manager Adele Yorde says inconsistency in ballast water regulations between states is a major obstacle to shipping. She says the U.S. D.O.T. will use input from local shippers to help iron out ballast water issues between environmentalists and the shipping industry.
“We don’t even have one approved ballast treatment system yet that can meet standards in fresh water. It’s great to set policy and set these standards out here. We all want to be greener. At some point they have to be realistic in expectations without putting the entire economic viability of the Great Lakes at risk. You feel like a meeting like this makes headway? It makes headway in the sense that more and different people are at the table.”
Hallett Shipping Company in Superior loads and unloads ships from around the world. Hallett President Mike McCoshen says government policy directly affects his business.
“We want to make sure that our voice is heard for the concerns that we have with federal regulations. The ballast water issues, the infrastructure in the ports.”
The U.S. DOT will use the information they gather from the meeting to help the federal government make more informed decisions for the shipping industry.
Great Lakes funding faces rough waters in Congress
2/24 - Toledo, Ohio – Think of a big, leaky roof. Or a car with engine problems. Do you put off repairs, knowing the cost of inaction is likely greater?
That's the analogy Great Lakes advocates are using now that the nation's political winds have shifted, with the lakes, like everything else, facing a new budget reality in the wake of a Nov. 2 Republican election triumph that has prompted President Obama to trim spending.
How steep can the cuts be? And to what degree can the environment be considered a luxury?
Those are the questions Congress must weigh as it decides what problems it wants to address now, which ones to gamble on putting off for another day, and how much it believes the Great Lakes are a cornerstone of the region's economy and quality of life.
U.S. Rep. John Boehner (R., Ohio), who was sworn in Jan. 5 as the U.S. House of Representatives speaker, said Saturday that the general concept of cutting federal spending "is critical to reducing economic uncertainty, encouraging private-sector investment, and creating a better environment for job creation in our country."
For the Toledo area and other parts of western Lake Erie that lie between Monroe and Sandusky, less funding for the region can mean anything from delays for long-overdue sewage projects to programs aimed at reducing the massive amount of silt dredged from the Toledo shipping channel each summer.
Toledo is by far the shallowest and most heavily dredged part of the Great Lakes region, with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers typically spending $4 million a year to remove the equivalent of 90,000 truckloads of river sediment. Nearly all is redeposited in Lake Erie's Maumee Bay, where biologists fear it impacts fish populations as it is resuspended, disturbs other sediment, and makes the water cloudy.
The most polluted goes into a waterfront landfill in Oregon called a confined disposal facility, which is nearly full. A new one would cost more than $200 million.
Corps funding to keep the Toledo shipping channel open likely will remain intact, but developing programs to reduce open-lake disposal of the silt through enhanced fishing habitat and other lake-based "beneficial reuse" projects could be in limbo, Tim Murphy, Toledo's commissioner of environmental services, said.
He said the city likely will be forced to put off other proactive measures, including one designed to collect mercury before it gets into the waste stream and ultimately out into Lake Erie, plus one which aims to help owners of scrap yards near the Ottawa River better control their waste.
Millions of dollars have been spent reviving the Ottawa, a Lake Erie tributary that for years had been Ohio's most polluted river.
"We want to make sure we don't repollute," Mr. Murphy said.
An oft-quoted claim is that the Great Lakes region reaps a $2 payback for every dollar invested in restoration. It is from a 2006 Brookings Institution report that cost the Washington-based think tank $200,000 and took more than a year to produce.
A year earlier, the most comprehensive inventory of Great Lakes needs was released by a task force that included 1,500 mayors, governors, environmentalists, industry lobbyists, tribes, and people from other walks of life. It called for $20 billion-worth of restoration, the most ever for a North American ecosystem. Compiled under the direction of former President George W. Bush, his administration never funded it.
Then along came Mr. Obama. On the 2008 campaign trail, he pledged $5 billion over 10 years to get that plan in action.
The result was a new program called the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.
After a first-year allocation of $475 million, the Obama Administration dropped the proposed funding level to $300 million for the 2011 fiscal-year budget, which was supposed to begin Oct. 1 but has been held up by debate. Congress has given itself until March 4 to break the deadlock.
The U.S. House of Representatives wants to bring down funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative even more, to $225 million for the 2011 budget.
None of that sits well with the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition, a consortium established in 2006 to lobby Congress to fund the unprecedented $20 billion Great Lakes-needs inventory. The coalition now claims to represent more than 115 Great Lakes aquariums, museums, park districts, zoos, environmental and conservation groups, and hunting, fishing, and outdoor lobbies.
"We are disappointed. Our job is to hold the line," Jeff Skelding, the coalition's campaign director, said. "Stalling will only allow problems to get worse."
His view was echoed by coalition co-chairman Andy Buchsbaum, a University of Michigan adjunct law professor and director of the National Wildlife Federation's Great Lakes regional office in Ann Arbor.
"The times certainly have made the budget process more difficult for everyone in the Great Lakes region," Mr. Buchsbaum said. "What we're facing is a challenge, not a death threat or any fatal illness."
Mr. Buchsbaum noted that proposed funding levels are still higher than what was authorized in 2009.
"We are going to make progress in Great Lakes restoration, but it's going to be slower, the problems are going to get worse, and the costs are going to go up," Mr. Buchsbaum said. "If we don't make the investment now, the cost to the nation later will be far greater."
A much slower pace of spending could delay efforts to address last summer's high-profile menace, two toxic forms of algae known as microcystis and lyngbya wollei, advocates said.
Landowners worry what is happening to their property values while vacationers wonder if the algae will make them sick. Scientists have said even inhaling it in large doses can make people queasy.
Though much of the algae can be traced back to farm runoff, Toledo is reducing its spills of raw sewage through a program called the Toledo Waterways Initiative.
It's a $500 million program rooted in litigation that began 20 years ago over the city's failure to comply with federal Clean Water Act requirements for steeper reductions in sewage spills after heavy rains.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency sued the city in 1991, citing the need for major improvements. Years later, the two sides agreed in federal court over what needed to be done.
Work began in 2002 on expanding and modernizing both the city's sewage plant on North Summit Street and its metrowide network of sewer pipelines and pumps.
The federal EPA recently agreed to let the city stretch out the project from its original 2016 completion date to 2020 after learning about the city's plans for more catch basins and lagoons to handle the overflow.
Toledo is about to ask for another extension, this time citing the city as a hardship case after the 2008 collapse of financial markets, Councilman Joe McNamara said.
Lake Michigan level dropping
2/24 - The water level of Lake Michigan has dropped another two inches in the last month. The lake level is down a whopping 13″ in the past year and is now 21″ below the century average level and only 7″ above the century record low level set in 1964. The rest of the Great Lakes have had major drops in the past year: Lake Superior -9″, Lake Erie -7″ and Lake Ontario -6″. We have about hit bottom here in late February. A combination of melting snow and increased precipitation should start the lake level slowly upward in early March.
Port Huron’s river path makes strides
2/24 - Port Huron, Mich. – Port Huron's Riverwalk is closer to becoming a reality. The Community Foundation of St. Clair County has drafted a preliminary site map so property so the project can be transferred from Acheson Ventures. The nonprofit also has applied for federal grants worth a combined $3.3 million to pay for shoreline restoration.
The 4,000-foot-long Riverwalk would stretch along the St. Clair River shoreline from Vantage Point to the Seaway Terminal. Building the walking path would cost about $1.3 million, money projects leaders hope will come from donations and possibly state grants. The shoreline restoration work will be an additional cost.
Acheson Ventures, a private development company that owns Desmond Landing, is expected to transfer several parcels for the project by the end of March, community foundation chairman Don Fletcher said. Numerous service organizations are expected to begin cleanup projects in the area in April. Outside the walking path, which Fletcher said will incorporate nature, the Community Foundation plans to build a bridge from which people can fish and a canoe and kayak launch.
The foundation applied for the three shoreline restoration grants last week, Fletcher said. Most of the money would come from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Officials hope to know by this summer whether they will receive the money. The shoreline work would include removing a ferry dock at the north end of Desmond Landing and the remnants of a building at the south end, Fletcher said.
Fletcher said officials haven't determined which aspect of the project -- the path or shoreline restoration -- will start first.
"The priorities ... will be determined (based) on how much money we receive," Fletcher said.
The Community Foundation is accepting donations for construction of the path and is establishing an endowment fund. Money in the fund only can be used for maintenance, Fletcher said.
Port Huron Times Herald
CSX cargo hub begins operations
2/24 - North Baltimore, Ohio - A big cargo handling facility in southern Wood County is in operation ahead of schedule. The first cargo containers quietly came off trains at the CSX intermodal yard near North Baltimore on Wednesday.
CSX officials emphasize this is still a test phase for cranes at the site-- but now they're handling real cargo, with a few trains running in and out of the facility. But it also means the facility is on the right track.
What may look like a giant erector set is actually five cargo cranes on a size and scale never seen before in Northwest Ohio. Cargo containers are loaded and unloaded from trains to truck and vice versa. Eventually, the cranes will handle two million containers per year.
"It's going to be a gradual ramp-up to when they're in full operation, but they did have their first lift today, so in the literal sense, they're open and operative today," said Tom Blaha, executive director of the Wood County Economic Development Commission (WCEDC).
The intermodal yard is creating 200 to 300 new jobs, but it is hoped ten times that many spin-off jobs develop, as warehouses, distribution centers, and manufacturing facilities are built nearby. That could go a long way in making up for the recent closures of two plants in Bowling Green.
"Regional economies are much like families,” explained Blaha. “Grandpa passes away this year, little Billy is born next year. Companies have certain life spans. Industry sectors have certain life spans."
Chances are you'll see more trucks with those cargo containers running up and down I-75. The CSX rail yard may mean a third lane will be built between Perrysburg and points south. The hope is the CSX cargo hub will link up with air cargo facilities at Toledo Express Airport and shipping operations at the Port of Toledo.
"The rail moving through this facility is east-west traffic, so it's not going to decrease truck traffic,” said Blaha. “In fact, it might increase on 75."
Some of those potential factories would literally be built right across the street from the intermodal yard-- and bring in components from the U-S, Europe, and Asia. Once they're put together as consumer products, they're shipped right back out from the same intermodal facility.
Updates - February 24
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.
Lakes iron ore trade up 60 percent in January; Season extension swelled total by 380,000 tons
2/23 - Iron ore shipments on the Great Lakes totaled 3,045,269 net tons in January, an increase of more than 60 percent compared to a year ago. Loadings were also 20 percent ahead of the month’s 5-year average.
January shipments were able to register such a significant increase because strong demand for iron ore necessitated a three-day extension of the season through the locks at Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. The locks normally close on January 15, but the January 18 closing allowed U.S.-flag lakers to carry an extra 380,000 tons of iron ore.
Not all of the additional tons moved during the extension. Some of the cargos were loaded on January 13 and 14. The vessels would not have been able to reliable reach the Soo by midnight January 15, so the extension made these voyages possible.
Lake Carriers' Association
American Maritime Partnership takes helm from Maritime Cabotage Task Force
2/23 - Washington D.C. - American Maritime Partnership (AMP) is the new name for the Maritime Cabotage Task Force, the largest coalition of maritime interests in the United States, which has been in operation since 1995. The new moniker better reflects the coalition’s focus on the domestic maritime industry’s role in promoting national, homeland, and economic security. To increase awareness of itself in the social media world, AMP has launched a new website: www.americanmaritimepartnership.com, and has new social media applications on Facebook and Twitter.
“A strong domestic maritime industry is critical to our national security, makes our homeland more secure, and fosters nearly 500,000 American jobs,” said James Henry, President of the Transportation Institute and Chairman of the Board of Directors of AMP. “The American Maritime Partnership will continue to support policies that help ensure ample U.S. sealift capacity to defend our nation; keep America’s waterways secure with strong laws and oversight of the U.S. government; and work to sustain the nearly 500,000 jobs and $100-plus billion in annual economic output that follow in the industry’s wake. For example, every job in a domestic shipyard results in four additional jobs elsewhere in the U.S. economy.”
Continued growth of the domestic maritime industry hinges on continued adherence to time-tested principles, namely that domestic waterborne commerce and related activities be conducted in vessels that are U.S.-owned, U.S.-built, and U.S.-crewed. AMP will continue to champion these tenets as the only foundation for a strong domestic maritime industry.
“The average American is totally unaware that the U.S. maritime industry pioneered many of the advancements that transformed waterborne commerce worldwide. The containership, the self-unloading vessel, and articulated tug-barge units are but a few examples,” said Henry.
AMP inherits from MCTF the most broad-based coalition the U.S. maritime industry has ever assembled. Its 450-plus members span the United States and its territories and represent vessel owners and operators, shipboard and shore-side labor groups, shipbuilders and repair yards, marine equipment manufacturers and vendors, trade associations, dredging and marine construction contractors, pro-defense groups and companies in other modes of domestic transportation. These diverse but allied interests share a common goal: to promote the long-standing U.S. maritime laws fundamental to national and economic security. Upon a foundation of U.S. ownership, construction and crews, the United States has built an unsubsidized domestic fleet that is the world leader in efficiency, innovation and safety.
Vintage USCG rescue craft restored, launched
2/23 - A 1930s Coast Guard rescue craft once used at the Chicago Coast Guard station at Navy Pier in Chicago, Ill., has been restored and launched in Michigan.
After the vessel was retired from duty, it was sold and eventually found its way to Nantucket, Mass., where it was used as an outdoor exhibit for 10 years.
Maritime enthusiast Jeff Shook acquired the boat in order to restore it and help publicize the efforts of the Michigan Lighthouse Conservancy in preserving an historic 1909 U. S. Life Saving Service 36-foot Motor Life Boat, which is the last surviving craft of its type where the crew was awarded Gold Medal. To learn more about these efforts visit www.MichiganLights.com
Updates - February 23
Historical Perspectives Gallery updated - new pictures in the E B Barber & Pinedale galleries
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.
Federal dredging plan to be presented March 3
2/22 - Toledo, Ohio – The federal government's 2011 plan for dredging the Toledo shipping channel and once again dumping most of the river sediment back into Lake Erie's Maumee Bay area will be discussed at 6:30 p.m. March 3 in Toledo City Council chambers.
Toledo is by far the most heavily dredged port in the Great Lakes region; it also is the shallowest. The amount of silt dug up from the Maumee River and Lake Erie's Maumee Bay to accommodate large ocean-going ships and lakers has cost the government $4 million a year lately.
The typical volume of 900,000 cubic yards is akin to that of 90,000 truckloads of dirt.
Governors from Michigan and Ohio, as well as their environmental administrations, have sought cutbacks in the amount of silt redeposited in the lake since the 1980s, citing concerns of Great Lakes scientists who believe it harms the fishery.
The U.S. Army of Corps of Engineers, the federal agency charged with keeping the nation's navigable waters open for ships, is seeking authorization from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency to dig out 1.6 million cubic yards of sediment, up 700,000 cubic yards from what the Corps does in an average year.
The volume varies from year to year, depending on how much dirt was blown or pushed into the Maumee River by rain over the past year.
Written comments will be accepted by the Ohio EPA through Mar. 10. They can be sent to Ohio EPA, Division of Surface Water, Permits Processing Unit, P.O. Box 1049, Columbus, Ohio 43216?1049. The application and other materials are available for review at Ohio EPA's northwest district Office in Bowling Green.
Lake Superior levels near normal for February
2/22 - This past month the water supply to the Lake Superior basin was near normal, according to the International Lake Superior Board of Control.
However, the water supply to the Lake Michigan-Huron basin was below normal. Lake Superior is currently 24 cm (9 inches) below its chart datum level. The level of Lake Superior is expected to decline in February.
Currently, the Lake Superior level is about 34 cm (13 inches) below its long-term average beginning-of-February level, and is 22 cm (9 inches) lower than the level recorded a year ago. This past month the level of Lake Superior fell 6 cm (2 inches), while on average it falls 7 cm (3 inches) in January.
The level of Lakes Michigan-Huron fell 4 cm (2 inches) during January, while on average it falls 3 cm (1 inch) during January. The level of Lakes Michigan-Huron is now about 49 cm (19 inches) below its long-term average beginning-of-February level, and is 32 cm (13 inches) lower than it was a year ago. Currently Lakes Michigan-Huron is 20 cm (8 inches) below its chart datum level. The level of Lakes Michigan-Huron is expected to remain steady in February.
Updates - February 22
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.
Tug Spartan battles ice at Ludington
2/21 - Ludington, Mich. – The tug Spartan spent all day Sunday attempting to get it’s mated tank barge Spartan II into Ludington Harbor. As of 5:30 p.m. they had little to show for the day’s effort. The barge first came to a stop in the channel west of the Coast Guard station before dawn. After numerous attempts to plow through the softened brash ice, the tug came out it the notch and cleared a track and turning area in the harbor. About 3 p.m. the tug attempted to reconnect with the barge via its Bludworth articulation system, but ice in the barge's notch made re-coupling difficult. It is unknown what progress the pair made after 5:30 p.m.
The barge was empty, drawing about 7 feet. It has been hauling calcium chloride brine out of Ludington.
Port Reports - February 21
Toronto – Charlie Gibbons
Genesee River ice jam causes major problems
2/21 - Rochester, N.Y. – An ice jam is clogging the Genesee River in Charlotte. “It goes from almost no flow at all to a severe flow that washes all the ice down the river,” said Steve Gibbs, River Street Marina Operator.
The jam is also draining his pockets. “There’s a lot of property damage here on docks,” said Gibbs.
The ice jam stops at the O’Rourke Bridge in Charlotte. It stretches back a quarter of a mile. Gibbs, who is contracted to operate docks by the City of Rochester, says the jam has already cost him $10,000 in damage.
“Two or three docks were completely washed out. They washed a 50 feet boat sideways and the Coast Guard had to rescue the people living off the boat,” said Gibbs.
The couple living off the boat on the Genesee River says the ice flow turned into a jam in minutes. “It was a moving ice flow. Their engine was disabled so it could have easily ripped them out to the lake,” said Richard Steidell, U.S. Coast Guard.
Steidell says the ice jam is caused by an ice flow caused by recent warm temperatures, plus Saturday’s high wind.
“That factored in with the fast moving current underneath the ice, it basically sheared all the ice out of the river which caused the ice flow,” said Steidell. The jam could cause flooding if it continues.
“This is just a big inconvenience for people. It’s going to be a big clean up in the springtime,” said Steidell.
Already it’s caused enough headaches that Mother Nature will have to relieve.
An R G & E representative said there are dams they control in the city. Occasionally they will flush them if there is ice build up. However, there’s no word if one has been flushed recently or had anything to do with this ice jam.
The Coast Guard will be monitoring the jam, until it eventually melts.
Funds will help dredge St. Clair River channel
2/21 - Improvements to the shipping channel of the St. Clair River are in the works for next year. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' civil works program will receive $4.6 billion for projects in 2012, said Wayne Schloop, chief of operations for the USACE Detroit District.
Of that amount, $55 million will be allocated to the Detroit District, and $643,000 of that will be dedicated to endeavors in the St. Clair River, he said.
Schloop said the majority of the money to be used in the St. Clair River work will go toward less intensive forms of dredging.
Termed "strike removal," high spots in navigation channels will be removed mechanically from the bottom in isolated cases to maintain the depths needed for ships to safely pass through, Schloop said.
Dredging often occurs in an area between one and three miles downstream of Port Huron, Schloop said, where the river slows down and sediment is deposited.
The need for yearly dredging and riverbed maintenance shows the costly effect of the shipping industry on the Great Lakes as well as local waterways, said environmental writer and Port Huron resident John Heidtke. Latent pollutants that are resting in river sediments can be kicked up by dredging, and therefore create potential problems when they are disposed on land, Heidtke said.
The most recent dredging project in the St. Clair River, performed in September 2010, removed about 25,000 cubic yards from a shoal south of the Black River.
The remainder of the funding allocated for St. Clair River projects will go toward surveys, Schloop said.
For the Detroit District, the main projects slated for 2012 will include $26 million of repairs to the Soo Locks. The Detroit River will receive $5.8 million in navigation improvements
Million-dollar dredging projects also are in the works for the harbors of Green Bay, Wis., Superior, Wis., and Duluth, Minn., Schloop said.
Port Huron Times Herald
Budget includes harbor, canal projects
2/21 - Sturgeon Bay, Wis. – President Barack Obama's proposed fiscal year 2012 budget provides approximately $19,000 to aid the continued operation of the Sturgeon Bay harbor and Lake Michigan ship canal.
Wisconsin would also share $3 million with three other states for a feasibility study of interbasin control of aquatic nuisance species in the Great Lakes and Mississippi River.
Those allocations are among $4.6 billion for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers civil works program, with more than $55 million for the Detroit District's projects in and around the Great Lakes.
The funding is for the operation and maintenance program, which includes the maintenance of federal shipping channels and harbors on the Great Lakes, maintenance of federal structures, operation of the Fox River dams in Wisconsin, and the operation and maintenance of the Soo locks.
Incorporated in the budget is funding that will be used across the district's jurisdiction in Indiana, Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin.
Obama's budget also provides funds to support the International Joint Commission in the regulation of Great Lakes water levels and support of the Boundary Waters Treaty as well as monitoring of basin conditions and forecasting of water levels, according to the announcement.
Some of the largest Detroit-budgeted projects include $3.4 million for improving navigation in the Green Bay harbor and $2.9 million for flood river management along the Fox River.
The fiscal year 2012 budget still needs the approval of Congress.
Door County Advocate
Updates - February 21
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.
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.
Ice eases, Bluewater Ferry operating
2/19 - St. CLair River - The Bluewater Ferry, which travels between Sombra, Ontario and Marine City, was expected to be operating Friday, according to a recording at the business and its website.
Operations of the Bluewater Ferry and the Walpole-Algonac Ferry halted about a month ago because of ice conditions in the St. Clair River. The Wapole-Algonac Ferry still is not operating because of ice conditions in the St. Clair River, according to a recording at the business.
The Bluewater Ferry typically operates from 6:40 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. seven days a week.
A recording at Champion's Auto Ferry said it still is operating, but estimates there is a 50 percent chance that operations will halt during the weekend as more ice heads down the river. That ferry runs from Harsens Island to Clay Township.
Port Huron Times Herald
Winds force partial closure of Mighty Mac Bridge
2/19 - St. Ignace, Mich. – Winds clocked in at around 54 miles per hour have forced the Mackinac Bridge Authority to partially close the bridge.
That means that only passenger cars, vans, and empty pick up trucks are allowed to cross the Mackinac Bridge until further notice.
It was a good night to be in lay-up while a major storm moves through the upper lakes. Friday night’s forecast called for northwest storm force winds to 55 knots, diminishing to gales to 45 knots after midnight. Waves will build to 25 to 30 feet with heavy freezing spray, snow showers likely.
Great Lakes Shipyard docks R/V Sturgeon
2/19 - Cleveland, Ohio – The Great Lakes Shipyard placed the U.S. Geological Survey’s research vessel Sturgeon on its drydock Favorite on Wednesday. The Sturgeon is in drydock for her five-year survey and general repairs.
Repairs to the R/V Sturgeon are just one several projects for the Great Lakes Shipyard on behalf of the U.S. Geological Survey. The shipyard is also repairing the USGS vessel Grayling and working on the construction of two new 70-foot aluminum research vessels for U.S. Geological Survey’s Great Lakes Science Center.
Great Lakes Group
Harbor Maintenance Act of 2011 introduced
2/19 - Washington D.C. - U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., introduced a bipartisan bill this week designed to fund critical operations and maintenance of the nation's harbors, including significant needs in the Great Lakes System. The Harbor Maintenance Act of 2011 would require funds in the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund be spent for their intended purpose rather than rerouted into the general tax fund.
Levin introduced the bill with Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, and a bipartisan group of 12 other senators.
"The harbors and ports in the Great Lakes and around the country are critical hubs for the transportation of massive amounts of goods, including food, energy, and manufacturing supplies. Their poor maintenance is a threat not only for shipping, but to every industry and family in America that consumes the goods flowing through them," Levin said. "The Harbor Maintenance Act of 2011 is a sensible proposal that simply requires that money collected for harbor and port maintenance is actually spent on those needs.
The Harbor Maintenance Act of 2011 would require that money in the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund be used for maintenance and operations of federal ports, instead of being redirected to other uses.
The Army Corps of Engineers estimates that the nation's 59 busiest ports are available less than 35 percent of the time because they are inadequately maintained.
The Great Lakes System has a dredging backlog of 18 million cubic yards and a variety of other operations and maintenance projects needed to ensure efficient shipping in the Great Lakes. The dredging backlog in the Great Lakes alone is estimated to cost about $200 million to address.
The Harbor Maintenance Tax and Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund were created in 1986 to fund operations and maintenance of federal ports and harbors. The tax is levied against the value of imports and domestic cargo arriving at U.S. ports that have federally maintained harbors and channels. The Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund currently has a balance of more than $5.7 billion. But the fund is not being fully used to address critical maintenance needs of harbors and ports around the country.
Similar problems once faced the Highway Trust Fund and the Airports and Airways Trust Fund, but Congress enacted similar legislation to correct them.
The bill is S. 412 and has been referred to the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.
New pressure for Davie Yards to come out of bankruptcy
2/19 - Bankrupt Quebec shipbuilder Davie Yards has gotten another order from the Québec Superior Court extending the stay of proceedings against it under Canada's Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act ("CCAA") until March 10, 2011.
Davie says that it "still requires additional clarifications in respect of the proposals it received from four potential investor groups prior to moving forward on an exclusive basis with one of them. The new extension will also allow Davie to continue working on a response to the request for proposal to become one of the two selected shipyards under the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy (NSPS) and to develop and eventually submit a plan of arrangement to its creditors under CCAA."
Davie was one of the shipbuilders to receive a February 7 RFP to build the large vessels required under the shipbuilding strategy. Davie Yards was among shipbuilders to receive the RFP, along with Irving Shipbuilding Inc., Saint John, N.B., Vancouver Shipyards Co. Ltd., North Vancouver, B.C., Kiewit Offshore Services - a division of Peter Kiewit Infrastructure Co., Milton, Ontario and Seaway Marine & Industrial Inc., St. Catharines, Ontario.
If Davie wants to its response to the RFP to be considered, it will have to emerge from CCAA protection.
The Globe and Mail reports that earlier this week, Canada's Public Works Department issued an amendment to the RFP that says it is mandatory that all bidders are solvent, meaning a company must be able to cover all its debts.
"The deadline to submit bids is early July," reports the Globe and Mail. "This means Davie, which has been under court protection for close to a year, must get its affairs in order within months or be barred from bidding."
Part of old Bethlehem Steel site in New York state sold
2/19 - Hamburg, N.Y. - Part of the old Bethlehem Steel site in Hamburg has been sold to Metalico, Inc., a New Jersey based metals recycling and fabricating corporation.
The 44-acre site is situated at the intersection of Route 5 and Lake Avenue on the border of Blasdell and the Town of Hamburg. The deal includes an idle 177,500 square foot plant building that most recently was used as a galvanizing plant operated by steelmaker ArcelorMittal. Mittal shut the plant down in 2009 as it curtailed U.S. steel production.
Buffalo-based Great Lakes Industrial Development purchased 160-acres of the former Bethlehem Steel site on December 20, 2010, with a vision of creating a multi-tenant business park, with uses ranging from light manufacturing to warehousing to back office space. Great Lakes says the sale to Metalico is the first step in bringing life back to the old steel site.
Metalico already operates five facilities in Western New York in Erie, Niagara, and Chautauqua Counties. The company operates in two principal business segments: ferrous and non-ferrous scrap metal recycling, and fabrication of lead-based products.
Great Lakes will continue to own and market more than 100 acres of the former Bethlehem property, which also includes the idle Bethlehem Cold Mill.
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.
Arrival of icebreaker delayed at Grand River
2/18 - Dunnville, Ont. – Residents along the Grand River are going to have to wait a little while for their ice-breaking.
The Canadian Coast Guard announced Wednesday that it was deploying the icebreaker Griffon to Port Maitland to clear the mouth of the river where it enters lake Erie. It was in anticipation of a thaw forecast for Thursday and Friday when temperatures are expected to reach 10 C with rain.
But the Griffon was called off Thursday and rerouted to help the tanker Algocanada caught in the ice on Lake Erie. Officials say they will rework their plans.
The Grand River Conservation Authority issued a warning to residents along the river about possible flooding. Two years ago on the Family Day Holiday Weekend the Grand flooded between Cayuga and Dunnville, causing about $1.8 million damage to 60 homes and businesses.
The flood was caused by an ice jam in Port Maitland at the mouth of the river and the province, shortly after the flood, declared parts of Dunnville and Cayuga a disaster area.
The coast guard is recommending that recreational users of the Grand around Port Maitland stay off the ice during and after the icebreaking operations have concluded.
GRCA spokesman Dave Schultz said the potential for ice jam flooding exists in communities that have experienced ice jams in the past such as Dunnville and Cayuga, plus Brantford, New Hamburg, West Montrose, Drayton and Grand Valley.
Major reservoirs have up to 85 per cent of their flood control storage available at this time, he said. Reservoirs will be operated to manage runoff and reduce the potential for flooding.
Schultz says banks adjacent to rivers and creeks are very slippery at this time and when combined with cold, fast-moving water and the quick freezing conditions, pose a serious hazard. Parents are being encouraged to keep their children and pets away from watercourses and off frozen bodies of water at this time.
Flood messages will be issued as necessary as this event unfolds.
Algoma Central reports strong tanker performance
2/18 - The Algoma Central Corporation is reporting net earnings for the three months ended December 31, 2010 of $20,969,000 compared to $23,169,000 for the same period in 2009.
Segment operating earnings net of income tax for the fourth quarter were $19,911,000 compared to $15,725,000 for the prior year quarter, an increase of 27 percent.
The increase in segment operating earnings net of income tax was primarily a result of an increase in the product tanker segment earnings resulting from increased operating days and a reduction in costs.
The ocean shipping segment also increased over the 2009 quarter, as the prior year quarter included the impact of a planned regulatory dry-docking.
The decrease in net earnings of $2,200,000 was due primarily to the following:
- Increased income tax expense of $2,415,000 due primarily to reductions in the corporation's future tax liabilities recorded in the 2009 fourth quarter to reflect decreases in the Ontario corporate income tax rate and a tax reduction due to an environmental allowance.
- Increase in financing costs of $3,662,000 due to the unfavorable adjustment required to recognize the fair value of certain foreign exchange forward contracts.
The corporation is reporting 2010 net earnings of $32,602,000 compared to net earnings of $38,845,000 for 2009 and segment operating earnings net of income tax increased nine percent in 2010 to $33,634,000 compared to $30,717,000 for the previous year.
The factors affecting the comparability of the segment operating earnings net of income tax are as follows:
- The domestic dry-bulk segment's operating earnings net of income tax in 2010 improved to $5,078,000 compared to $3,230,000 for 2009, due primarily to increased operating days and a reduction in operating costs.
- The product tanker segment's operating earnings net of income tax in 2010 were up strongly at $11,260,000 compared to $8,107,000 also due to increased operating days and a reduction in operating costs.
- The ocean shipping segment's operating earnings net of income tax decreased from $15,943,000 in 2009 to $14,013,000 due primarily to the foreign exchange effect of the stronger Canadian dollar versus the U.S. dollar in 2010 compared to 2009.
"Building on the improvements we have experienced in 2010, we are cautiously optimistic heading into 2011," said Greg Wight, president and CEO. "We are hopeful that this recovery and growth will extend to all of our primary markets and we are investing significantly in fleet renewal based on our confidence in the long-term future of the marine transportation industry."
The decrease in net earnings of $6,243,000 was due primarily to increases in financial and income tax expenses and a decrease in net foreign exchange gains on the translation of foreign denominated assets and liabilities.
Financial expense in 2010 increased to $10,493,000 from $4,941,000 in 2009 as a result of the impact of a non-cash mark-to-market adjustment to recognize the fair value of certain foreign exchange forward contracts relating to the construction of four new maximum seaway-sized dry-bulk lake freighters.
Amortization of financing costs incurred in 2009 associated with the corporation's expanded credit facilities also contributed to the increase.
The net foreign exchange gains on the translation of foreign denominated assets and liabilities were $652,000 compared to a gain of $3,387,000 in 2009. The decrease was due to larger realized losses on the return of capital from foreign subsidiaries and a reduction in the gains related to the translation to Canadian dollars of the corporation's foreign denominated debt.
Both of these decreases compared to last year are a result of the strengthening Canadian dollar relative to the U.S. dollar.
U.S. House defeats proposal to close Chicago shipping locks to protect Lake Michigan from carp
2/18 - Traverse City, Mich. — The U.S. House has defeated a proposal to close Chicago-area shipping locks in a bid to prevent Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes.
Rep. Dave Camp of Michigan tried to amend a federal budget bill Thursday to deny the Army Corps of Engineers funding to open the locks. It was defeated on a vote of 292 to 137, with one lawmaker voting "present."
Michigan is among five states suing the Army Corps because of its refusal to close the navigational structures, which could provide a pathway to Lake Michigan for the invasive fish.
Camp told the House the Asian carp could decimate native fish populations and endanger 800,000 jobs in the Great Lakes region. Opponents say keeping the locks open is vital to commerce in the Chicago area.
The Canadian Press
Thorold seeks increased funding for Welland Canal ferry
2/18 - Thorold, Ont. – The Port Robinson ferry across the Welland Canal could end up being beached for good if the City of Thorold isn’t able to get a substantial increase in funding.
The catamaran has been a fixture on the canal since 1974, when the St. Lawrence Seaway Authority decided to launch a cross-canal service after the Port Robinson bridge over the canal was destroyed in a spectacular collision with a laker.
But costs to operate the ferry – and expensive improvements because of health, safety and accessibility concerns and regulations – are climbing far above available funding, Frank Fabiano, the city’s chief administrative officer, said in a report to city council Tuesday night.
If the ferry were to be mothballed, in addition to being a major inconvenience to Port Robinson residents it would also be a huge blow to tourism in Niagara – in particular, to rapidly growing cycling tourism, Fabiano warned.
In 1991, the Seaway handed over the responsibility for operating the ferry service to the city, but agreed to keep funding it for 25 years. But Fabiano said the Seaway has been putting pressure on the city for the last 10 years to cut costs or find other funding sources.
The Seaway informed the city in 2002 that it planned to reduce the annual funding for the ferry from $78,000 a year to $50,000, but costs have escalated to keep it running, forcing the city to pay more and more for it, said Fabiano.
Those costs have soared by 70 per cent compared to 2009, said Fabiano, in large part because of new health and safety requirements by Transport Canada. Those changes include having to hire a deckhand to assist riders getting on and off the ferry, and work that’s needed to fix unsafe landings and access pathways to the dock.
Work is also necessary to ensure the city meets legislated requirements for the service to be accessible to people with disabilities, said Fabiano. That will require installing attachable metal ramps off the dock on both sides of the canal this year, for people with disabilities, he said. Improved fencing is also needed to protect the ferry and a portable shed, used to store equipment and for workers to take breaks, from ongoing vandalism, said Fabiano.
The ferry itself is also past its useful life and will need to be replaced, Fabiano said.
All told, he said about $100,000 in capital work is needed, and about $120,000 a year is needed to keep the service running.
Fabiano has met with staff from the Region, and said he hopes a deal can be hammered out in the first quarter of this year to see the Region and the Seaway each agree to contribute $60,000 a year towards the service.
Without that, “the City of Thorold will not be able to afford the operation of the ferry service and may be forced to reduce or potentially cease providing this service,” he said.
The ferry service normally operates for the full marine shipping season, starting around the end of March. But the ferry’s launch was delayed until well into May last year as talks continued with the Seaway on who was paying for what, prompting a flurry of inquiries from concerned cyclists and tourism operators about why it wasn’t operating, Fabiano said.
A big selling point for the Region to get involved in helping to fund the ferry is that the government is a proponent of cycling, and spearheaded the Greater Niagara Circle Route, said Fabiano. Cycling groups and magazines, tourism operators and the media throughout Ontario and in other provinces promote the circle route as a “must see” destination for cycling enthusiasts, a new ‘business proposal’ on the ferry presented to council Tuesday night said.
The document shows the number of cyclists using the ferry service soared over a 10-year period, from 2,054 in 1999 to 7,458 in 2009. More than 12,200 people took ferry trips in 2009.
The proposal also said while the ferry service was originally envisioned to be used primarily by Port Robinson residents, only about 40 per cent of those using it are from Thorold.
Fabiano said last year that people from as far away California used the ferry, which is free for riders.
Niagara This Week
Harry Victor Noonan: From deckhand to port director
2/18 - Harry Victor Noonan, born May 19, 1927 in South Buffalo, N.Y., passed away recently. He began his maritime career as deckhand on steamboats plying the Great Lakes. During WWII he enlisted in the army, serving as an M.P. in the American occupation of Italy.
Returning home in 1947 he worked as fireman and deckhand on various tugs. His career choice followed in the wake of his father, his grandfather and numerous uncles; in due time his son joined the ranks of Great Lakes licensed tugmen as well. Noonan’s family sailed tugs on the lakes since the days of wooden hulls and he was proud of his contribution to the 100 year period during which members of his family continuously sailed tugs for the Great Lakes Towing company, among numerous tug lines for which they worked.
As a young seaman in 1948 he survived a shipwreck aboard the tug Sachem off of Oswego NY. Just two years later, he narrowly avoided losing his life along with all hands aboard when the same tug, repaired and returned to service, sank under still mysterious circumstances between Dunkirk and Buffalo. Noonan had resigned the crew shortly before the sinking to answer the call to active duty in the Marine Corps for the Korean conflict. Tragically, his cousin Jackie Farrell took his place on the ill-fated crew of 12.
In 1954, at age 27, Noonan was the youngest man licensed to master a tug on the Great Lakes and all tributary waters. A staunch union man, he sailed thereafter as a member of the Licensed Tugmen & Pilots Protective Association. In total he served as captain on at least 50 vessels.
Though this work took him as far north as Montreal and as far south as Florida, most of his career was spent in and near the ports of Buffalo and Cleveland. In the early 1980s he was promoted to Port Captain of Buffalo. He finished his career in 1986 as Manager of Operations for the ports of Detroit and Toledo. While serving in Detroit, Noonan won his class in the famous annual International Tugboat Race on the Detroit River two years running.
He belonged to and was an active supporter of the Lower Lakes Marine Historical Society of Buffalo as well as the Great Lakes Historical Society of Vermillion, Ohio, and also a member of American Legion Post #880, Eden, N.Y.
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.
St. Lawrence Seaway season begins March 22
2/17 - The opening of the 2011 navigation season on the St. Lawrence Seaway is scheduled for March 22. The Montreal / Lake Ontario and Welland Canal all open at 8 a.m. The Soo Locks will open on March 25.
Vessel transits will be subject to weather and ice conditions. Restrictions may apply in some areas until lighted navigation aids have been installed.
Allowable draft In the Montreal / Lake Ontario Section will be 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 26' 6" for all vessels. The Seaway also warns that there will be zero tolerance for ship's draft in excess of 26' 6".
Mariners are reminded that for ships loaded to a draft greater than 26' 3", speeds will be monitored carefully between St. Lambert Lock and St. Nicolas Island.
In the Welland Canal, a maximum allowable draft of 26' 6" will be in effect from the start of the navigation season for all vessels.
Vessels loaded to a draft greater than 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.
Ice breaker headed to Port Maitland
2/17 - Port Maitland, Ont. – Late Tuesday afternoon, the county received word that the Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Griffon has been called to Port Maitland. It's been almost two years to the day since flooding wreaked havoc in Dunnville and other places in Haldimand, and this week's weather is eerily similar, noted Councillor Lorne Boyko.
"Because of the freezing we have on the Grand River and thawing we're expecting, it's replicating conditions of February, 2009."
The Grand River Conservation Authority (GRCA) has identified that two years ago, the Griffon "had opened up the river on Feb. 6 and flooding occurred on Feb. 13," added Boyko."
He said the GRCA decided to call the Griffon around 3:30 p.m. on that Friday, but it was in the Wallaceburg area "and it took until noon to make it to this part of the lake because they had hit huge vertical walls of ice in the lake, and that's one of the reasons it took so long to get here. Hopefully, we won't have any repeats of that."
Councillor Leroy Bartlett requested that Boyko ask whether the Griffon would be staying in this area for an extended period of time, but Boyko said it's his understanding that the Griffon "goes where it's called. Right now, it's at this end of the lake, and hopefully that will go a long way to prevent any flooding because we're at the mercy of Mother Nature, but I'm glad that the GRCA took that step."
Daytime temperatures are forecast to reach 8 degrees Celsius to 10 degrees Celsius over Thursday and Friday and are expected to remain above freezing overnight Thursday. Temperatures are expected to drop below freezing on Saturday, however, flows will remain high for several days.
The amount of warmth over the next three days is expected to melt a portion or majority of the snow pack in some areas, states a release from the GRCA. Melted water from the snow pack will run off to the river system and cause river levels to rise. The runoff is also expected to cause the ice sheet in the Grand River to break up and move in some, if not all, reaches of the river system.
Ice conditions on frozen water bodies may change rapidly over the next few days and become unsafe.
Information on river flows and reservoir levels can be found on the GRCA's website at www.grandriver.ca in the River data section. Information on the flood warning system can be found in the Flood Management section of the website.
Army corps budget: $55M for Great Lakes projects
2/17 - Army corps budget: $55M for Great Lakes projects Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says the Obama administration's proposed budget for fiscal 2012 includes $55 million for water projects in and near the Great Lakes.
Michigan projects include $26 million for navigation and hydropower work for the St. Marys River and Soo Locks at Sault Ste. Marie and $5.8 million for Detroit River navigation.
The plan has $7.7 million for navigation and recreation work in Duluth, Minn., and Superior, Wis. Other large projects are $3.4 million for navigation in Green Bay harbor and $2.9 million for Fox River flood risk management in Wisconsin. The Corps' overall civil works budget proposal is $4.6 billion.
Shipwreck society names Whitefish Point site manager
2/17 - Eastern Upper Peninsula — The Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society has named Terry Begnoche as Site Manager for its campus at Whitefish Point.
Begnoche will begin in April, preparing for the summer celebration of the 150th Anniversary of Whitefish Point Light, the oldest on Lake Superior. As Site Manager, Begnoche will oversee the Shipwreck Society museum buildings, grounds, store and educational programming.
Begnoche has a long and deep history with the Shipwreck Society. He was involved with all three of the earlier Shipwreck Society expeditions to the S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald, in 1989, 1994 and 1995. He is a certified technical diver and still underwater photographer. He assisted the Shipwreck Society in the underwater lighting for the productions “Graveyard of the Great Lakes,” “The Osborn Incident” and programs relating to the Edmund Fitzgerald.
In addition to being a volunteer with the Shipwreck Society for more than 20 years, Begnoche has served as President of its Board of Directors for nine years and was a leading figure in its successful effort to collaborate with other stakeholders at Whitefish Point. The effort resulted in a land use plan, signed in 2002.
Begnoche holds a Bachelor of Science Environmental degree from the University of Michigan, Dearborn, a Masters in Business Administration in Quality and Operations Management and has spent most of his career enhancing the environment and developing management systems to safeguard or improve the environment. He currently teaches at Oakland University on Environmental topics. His career evolved from responding to environmental emergencies to managing liabilities through controlled compliance and on to proactive prevention and creative re-design.
“I am delighted to be working with so many good people, assisting us at Whitefish Point for so many years. I look forward to being able to reinforce the values of teamwork and collaboration on a site that is both historically significant and environmentally sensitive,” Begnoche said.
James Spurr, current president of the Shipwreck Society, added, “Terry’s deep knowledge of us and his core competency of improving management systems to more efficiently work as a team represents an exciting opportunity for the Shipwreck Society. We are fortunate to have such expertise at our disposal and look forward to a great summer season.”
Sault Ste. Marie Evening News
Formal talks on Cleveland-to-Canada ferry service could begin soon
2/17 - Port Stanley, Ont. - Local officials in Central Elgin, Ont., have agreed to begin formal discussions with the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority regarding the launch of a ferry service between Port Stanley and Cleveland.
On Monday the Central Elgin Council passed a resolution that supports further discussions with Cleveland port officials. Central Elgin is the governing authority over Port Stanley. Talks between the municipality and Port Authority are now expected to accelerate.
Central Elgin Council is enthusiastic about looking at the potential benefits that a Lake Erie ferry may create, said Central Elgin Mayor Bill Walters. “We don’t know yet if this new ferry concept is the right fit for our area, but we owe it to our residents and businesses to fully investigate this concept. We will be seeking public input before making any decisions.”
Port Authority CEO Will Friedman reopened discussions with Canadian officials about the ferry service last fall. The service had been contemplated for years, but did not materialize, in part because the Canadian government had not completed a long-awaited transfer of the waterfront property to local control.
With that issue resolved, and after preliminary discussions with Cleveland port representatives in recent months, Mayor Walters recommended this week to council to have more serious discussions about establishing a pilot program of cross-lake ferry service.
“We are delighted the Central Elgin officials want to discuss this potentially exciting opportunity,” Friedman said. “We believe there is interest on both sides of the lake for this service now, and we see that interest only growing in the next several years with construction of several major developments in Cleveland, including a casino.”
Recent discussions have lead to a shift in thinking about the ferry service and the type of vessel that would be used. While the service was initially conceived of as a freighter/truck-driven service, a pilot program would likely focus on tourism and recreation, with truck traffic a smaller part of the mix. In addition a smaller vessel capable of traveling at faster speeds would likely be used.
Friedman said HMS Global Maritime of New Albany, Ind. has expressed interest in exploring the possibility of operating the higher-speed ferry service. Mayor Walters said he looks forward to learning more about the potential service.
Port of Cleveland
International Ship Masters’ Association 2011 Convention concludes
2/17 - Detroit, Mich. – The 121st annual convention of International Ship Masters’ Association (ISMA), held in Detroit, Mich., concluded on Saturday, February 12. Newly-elected officers were installed on February 11.
Grand President: Thomas McMullen, of Livonia, Mich.
ISMA encourages the development of new licensed maritime officers by offering annual scholarships. This year’s recipients were:
Mike Gamble, cadet from Great Lakes International Marine Training Centre, Owen Sound, Ont.
ISMA bestows awards recognizing mariners for their roles in at-sea rescue and other acts of heroism on the waters of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway. Captain Steve Rose, of Miller Boat Line’s ferry William Market, received the Grand President’s Award for a rescue, in which he and his crew (Jacob Market, Bernie Wise, Greg Johnson) saved four people from a downed plane in Lake Erie near Put-in-Bay, OH, on August 13, 2010. “Quick action by Captain Rose and his crew surely prevented a disaster,” read the award.
In addition, a special award for support of ISMA and its objectives was presented to Mark J. Rohn, president of Grand River Navigation Company, Avon Lake, OH.
At the convention, ISMA members heard from a variety of industry and government representatives, and received updates on current issues facing mariners and the maritime industry.
Since it’s beginning in 1886, ISMA has utilized its members’ professional experience in a cooperative role with the US and Canadian Coast Guards, and various other maritime organizations, to promote safety on the Great Lakes and Seaway.
Updates - February 17
Historical Perspectives Gallery updated - new pictures in the Canadoc, Thomas Wilson and Black River features
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.
Ports of Indiana ships largest annual tonnage since 2006
2/16 - The Ports of Indiana handled more than 7.7 million tons of cargo at its three ports in 2010 - an increase of eight percent over the previous year. New cargoes and agricultural-related shipments helped propel the state port system to its largest annual tonnage since 2006.
The Ports of Indiana experienced business growth on several fronts in 2010, including the purchase of new land, construction of $12.5 million in new infrastructure, expansions at five port companies, opening of the ports' largest facility and extension of foreign-trade zone services to more than 20 counties.
"The Ports of Indiana enjoyed one of the best years on record in 2010," said Rich Cooper, CEO of the Ports of Indiana. "Despite recent economic troubles, this is the third consecutive year that overall shipments have increased, and this was our second largest total in 12 years. What's even more exciting is that many of last year's developments were designed to seed future growth. A very high standard has been set for 2011 and we have to capitalize on the momentum we've built."
In 2010, there were significant increases in shipments of grain, fertilizer and steel, but the biggest impact came from the arrival of new cargoes: ethanol, dried-distillers grain (DDGs) and "heavy lift" cargoes, which included building-size storage tanks, transformers and ship engines as well as a windmill project that required 11 shiploads of components. Worldwide demand for local grain drove up agricultural shipments for both outbound grain (13 percent) and inbound fertilizer (22 percent), while steel shipments gained momentum from a recovering U.S. manufacturing sector to increase 12 percent compared to 2009.
The Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor shipped 14-times more heavy lift cargo in 2010 than the previous year, which resulted in a 43-percent increase in overall shipments and a total tonnage of 1.8 million. On the Ohio River, the Port of Indiana-Jeffersonville handled 1.7 million tons of cargo, an increase of 27 percent over the previous year and the fourth largest annual total in port history. The Port of Indiana-Mount Vernon recorded its second highest cargo volume since 1996, with more than 4.2 million tons in 2010.
Mount Vernon tonnage got a late boost from the opening of the largest facility ever built at Indiana's three ports as Aventine Renewable Energy completed construction on a 110-million gallon ethanol plant in December. The 112-acre facility is expected to process 40 million bushels of corn from local farmers in 2011, nearly three-times the port's corn volume in previous years. With the recent opening of two area ethanol plants - Aventine and nearby Abengoa Bioenergy - Consolidated Grain and Barge expanded its port operations by opening a unique rail-to-barge terminal that began transloading ethanol and dried distillers grain midway through 2010. To keep up with this growth, the port expanded its own boundary with the purchase of 110 acres on its eastern border, bringing the total size of the port to 965 acres with 300 acres available for future development.
In Jeffersonville, four port companies made significant expansions to facilities during 2010. Consolidated Grain and Barge upgraded a barge-loading conveyor, Idemitsu Lubricants America Corp. added petroleum storage, Steel Dynamics began constructing a new distribution facility, and Voss/Clark Industries started working on additional space for new processing equipment.
"Our primary goal is to create a sustainable competitive advantage for our port companies and the state of Indiana," Cooper said. "It's very gratifying to see so many of our customers choosing to expand their operations at our ports. These companies are our long-term partners and we want to do everything possible to help them grow their businesses for many years to come."
In 2010, the Ports of Indiana expanded a new foreign-trade zone (FTZ) program to more than 20 counties surrounding the ports. FTZs are special distinctions granted by the U.S. Department of Commerce to help U.S. companies compete in global markets by reducing, postponing or eliminating duties on certain foreign products brought into a pre-approved zone. The Ports of Indiana became the first FTZ grantee in the nation to receive multiple "Alternative Site Framework" designations, which will reduce the time, paperwork and cost for local companies to apply for FTZs.
A study released in 2010 showed that Indiana's ports contribute $5.4 billion in to the state economy each year, along with $233 million in tax revenue and 43,000 jobs. This study - conducted by Martin Associates and peer reviewed by economics professors from Indiana University, Purdue University and the University of Notre Dame - showed the annual contribution of Indiana's ports was more than triple the economic impact measured in 1999.
Flooding concerns have watchful eyes on skies, rivers and Lake Erie ice
2/16 - Fairport, Ohio - With the ongoing warming trend, area officials are keeping their eyes on both the Chagrin and Grand rivers for signs of potential flooding. Complicating matters are the high winds that are shuffling the ice floe deck. These winds are piling the ice southward, closing gaps and pushing the potential entrapping material against the shoreline.
Lake County Engineer James R. Gills said he anticipates his department will close off the Vrooman Road bridge over the Grand River on the Leroy-Perry Township line this weekend.
Gills also said that he expects at least some minor flooding while crews are working to clean out ditches to prevent sheet flooding of roadways and to get the water into the smaller creeks and streams.
“I just got off the phone with the Army Corps in Buffalo and they’re going to have a briefing on Thursday where we’ll have a better idea of the weather and what that may imply to the ice conditions and any need for ice-breaking conditions,” said Larry D. Greene, director of the Lake County Emergency Management Agency.
“If you do break ice and suddenly there’s a north wind that brings the ice chunks in, you can actually have the setup for a worse ice jam,” he said. “That’s what we need to figure out on Thursday.”
As is often the case when ice jams threaten the Grand River, the U.S. Coast Guard sends its Cleveland-based vessel the Neah Bay to Fairport Harbor. There it slices up to the Grand River’s turning basin and pounds out a slit in the harbor-locked ice, helping relieve pressure from ice jams in the lower river that can lead to flooding.
The Neah Bay, however, draws too much water to approach the Chagrin River. The vessel currently is undergoing maintenance, though the Coast Guard cutter Morro Bay or another Canadian cutter could help out, said 9th District Coast Guard spokesman Petty Officer George Degener.
Degener said the Morro Bay is typically based in New England but has been redeployed to the Ninth District for the winter to help in ice-breaking duties.
“It’s all weather dependent, and they are deciding whether this current bit of warm weather will destabilize the flow of ice and cause potential flooding problems in communities,” Degener said.
Presently, the Grand River is 3 feet above normal though data collection points to ice flow. On the Chagrin River, the stream stands 5 feet above normal level but likewise is rising rapidly.
While sunny skies and near seasonable temperatures are forecasted for today, the weather is expected to take a sharp turn to warming beginning Wednesday with mid-50s forecasted by Friday before turning cooler again by the weekend.
Great Lakes Seaway Ballast Water Working Group releases ballast water management report
2/16 - Cleveland, Ohio - The Great Lakes Seaway Ballast Water Working Group is releasing its 2010 summary report, with information on inspection procedures and compliance rates regarding ballast water management.
In 2010, 100 percent of vessels bound for the Great Lakes Seaway from outside the Exclusive Economic Zone received ballast tank exams, through physical sampling or administrative review, on each seaway transit. In total, 7,754 ballast tanks were assessed during 415 vessel transits.
The Great Lakes Seaway Ballast Water Working Group's mandate is to develop, enhance and coordinate bi-national compliance and enforcement efforts to reduce the introduction of aquatic invasive species via ships' ballast water. The BWWG is composed of the U.S. Coast Guard, Transport Canada-Marine Safety, the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation and the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation
Great Lakes Waterways Conference to launch in Cleveland this week
2/16 - Cleveland, Ohio - The inaugural meeting of the 2011 Great Lakes Waterways Conference (formerly known as the United States Coast Guard’s Marine Community Days) will be held February 16-17 at the Hyatt Regency Cleveland- Arcade and the Sammy’s Center at One Cleveland Center.
The conference will involve a full range of maritime professionals and industries from throughout the Great Lakes region in the United States and Canada. The conference has been organized to bring together the key players in government and the private sector to discuss pressing transportation and policy issues pertaining to the Great Lakes. “We are expecting a large number of attendees,” says Alan Bernstein, the Meetings Planner for the 2011 Great Lakes Waterways Conference. “This new conference is designed to address the topics of most importance to Great Lakes maritime professionals.”
In addition to panels and presentations from maritime industry experts , the 2011 Great Lakes Waterways Conference will involve leaders from both industry and government.
The 2011 Great Lakes Waterways Conference will feature an Admirals Dinner on Wednesday at 6 p.m. Hyatt Regency Cleveland-Arcade. For more information visit http://www.greatlakeswaterwaysconference.com/agenda.html
Updates - February 16
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.
Deeper discounts on Seaway tolls with Service Incentive Program
2/15 - The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SLSMC) has announced the launch of a new Service Incentive Program. Commencing for the 2011 navigation season, the program is directed at carriers calling on the Great Lakes Region and potential service providers looking to expand their scheduled services.
The objective of the Service Incentive Program is to assist carriers in developing or expanding liner or semi-liner services between the Great Lakes and global markets. The Service Incentive, combined with the New Business Incentive, will provide a total savings of 40 percent on tolls and assist in the development of new export traffic and cargoes.
“Over the last few years we have witnessed the success of our New Business Incentive. This reinforces the need to continue to promote the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway System (GLSLSS) by continuing to offer incentives that will highlight the benefits of the system and provide motivation to utilize the Continental Gateway Corridor,” said Bruce Hodgson, Director of Market Development for SLSMC. According to Hodgson “it is difficult for traffic volumes to build unless there is an established service; the Service Incentive Program is an additional resource to assist with the growth of cargoes and services within the GLSLSS”.
The New Business Incentive, which launched in 2008, will continue to be applicable to import and export cargoes that qualify. As well, the Volume Incentive Program will remain effective. In addition, the SLSMC announced last month that there will not be a toll increase in 2011.
To determine eligibility, details and applications concerning the Service Incentive Program and other incentive programs are available on the SLSMC and HWY H2O websites. The SLSMC will continue to answer inquiries at the email@example.com email address.
For further details, please consult www.greatlakes-seaway.com or www.hwyh2o.com/tollincentives.html Web sites.
Rand Logistics shares rally on deal for 2 vessels
2/15 - New York, N.Y. - Shares of Rand Logistics Inc. surged on Monday to their highest level in nearly four years after the bulk freight shipper acquired a pair of vessels that it said will boost earnings in its next fiscal year.
Rand Logistics said it acquired two self-unloading tug barges (Lewis J. Kuber, James L. Kuber) from KK Integrated Shipping. Rand Logistics said it will pay $35.5 million in cash as well as more than 1.3 million shares of its common stock.
Chairman and CEO Laurence Levy said the company expects the addition of the two vessels with generate an additional 25 cents to 30 cents in free cash flow per share for its fiscal year ending March 31, 2012. The vessels are expected to add to the company's earnings in the following fiscal year, Levy said.
The company also said Monday that it posted net income of $3.2 million, or 24 cents per share, for its fiscal third quarter ended Dec. 31, up from a profit of $2.9 million, or 22 cents per share, in the same quarter a year earlier.
Rand Logistics is a New York-based company that ships bulk freight in the Great Lakes region. The company said its newly expanded fleet is fully booked for this current year's sailing season, based on contracts in hand.
Shares of Rand Logistics rose $1.30, or nearly 25 percent, to $6.59 in midday trading. Earlier in the session, the stock rose as high as $7.10. The last time the stock eclipsed $7 was in June 2007.
The Associated Press
Port Reports - February 15
Toronto, Ont. - Charlie Gibbons
Ontario freezes offshore wind turbine development
2/15 - The McGuinty government announced Friday that it is suspending offshore wind turbine development until a thorough scientific review is conducted.
No offshore wind projects have been developed in Ontario. However, green energy companies have been pushing in recent months to lock up offshore leasing rights in Lake Ontario, Lake Erie, Lake St. Clair and parts of Lake Huron.
Ontario will research the impact of offshore turbines in partnership with U.S. agencies before re-opening the door to this form of power generation.
"We will be working with our U.S. neighbors to ensure that any offshore wind projects are protective of the environment," John Wilkinson, Ontario's Minister of the Environment, said in a news release. "Offshore wind on freshwater lakes is a recent concept that requires a cautious approach until the science of environmental impact is clear. In contrast, the science concerning land-based wind is extensive."
Recent mapping shows that a number of power companies have applied for leasing rights for hundreds of wind turbines in an 85-kilometre band from Long Point west toward Port Stanley.
Another large block of applications concerns wind rights in Lake Erie from a point east of Port Dover east to Selkirk. Other large blocks are located in the lake off Dunnville, Port Colborne and western Lake Erie near Amherstburg.
This has alarmed wildlife biologists such as Dr. Scott Petrie, executive director of Long Point Waterfowl in Turkey Point.
Petrie says clusters of wind turbines south of Long Point would pose a migratory barrier to "bats, birds and butterflies." Petrie applauded the government's decision to step back and assess the situation, calling it "a glimpse of common sense."
"The lease applications are scary," Petrie said. "They call for thousands of turbines. Long Point is one of the most important migratory routes in North America."
Since the McGuinty government began its push into green energy, 700 land-based wind turbines have been established in Ontario. A five-turbine pilot project has been proposed for the waters of Lake Erie off Ohio.
Michigan, Great Lakes region likely to feel impact of fed cuts
2/15 - Washington D.C. - Federal aid to Michigan for programs like Great Lakes cleanup is likely to take a hit under President Barack Obama's proposed budget for the 2012 fiscal year, which he unveiled Monday.
Though details on how the state will be affected are scant, officials in Washington have signaled cuts are ahead, potentially causing more headaches for Gov. Rick Snyder as his administration wrestles with its own $1.8 billion deficit.
The governor's budget is due later this week, but officials working on the spending plan aren't expecting much help from the federal government.
"We don't expect Washington to solve all of Michigan's problems," said Kurt Weiss, spokesman for the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget. Still, "we wouldn't turn away any assistance that we might get on unemployment insurance or other assistance from the feds," he said.
While the state is counting on less assistance from Washington, Michigan's Democrats on Capitol Hill are worried about how far-reaching cuts will affect programs they've supported.
Rep. John Dingell, D-Dearborn, fired off a letter to Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., the House GOP's de facto budget czar, asking him and other Republicans to fully fund the Food and Drug Administration Food Safety Modernization Act he led through Congress.
Rep. Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Township, co-wrote a letter to lawmakers on the Appropriations Committee asking them not to cut aid for Israel to "ensure our critical democratic ally maintains her qualitative military edge in a dangerous region of the world."
But cutting has been the name of the game in Washington. The White House says it wants to keep federal spending frozen for the next five years. House Republicans, including Michigan Reps. Mike Rogers of Brighton, Fred Upton of St. Joseph and Dave Camp of Midland — all chairs of powerful House committees — have said they want to roll back non-defense spending to 2008 levels.
At least one key environmental initiative affecting Michigan, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, is on the chopping block, said Jacob Lew, director of the federal Office of Management and Budget.
The program, kicked off with $475 million in 2010, sought to upgrade sewer systems, combat invasive species and dredge decades-old industrial waste from lake beds, among other things.
The White House chipped in $78 million more to keep invasive Asian carp out of the Great Lakes, but next year, the White House is asking that the program take a $125 million hit annually off the $300 million the White House asked for last year.
In fiscal year 2009, the federal government spent just over $92 billion in the Great Lakes State, most of it — more than $57 billion — on Social Security and other direct payments to Michiganians. Another $21.1 billion went to grants benefiting cities, counties and nonprofit groups. The figures are the most recent available from the Census Bureau.
A significant portion of that money comes through the Community Development Block Grants program, which is scheduled to see its funding dip by $300 million, or 7.5 percent of its total budget, Lew wrote in a recent New York Times op-ed piece.
Meanwhile, wrangling over the last budget is heating up.
Congress has used a series of continuing resolutions to keep the federal government operational after it failed to pass the White House's spending plan in place. The resolution runs out March 4, and House Republicans said Friday they reached consensus on gutting $100 million from the next continuing resolution, scheduled for a vote by the end of the month.
Among the proposals are slashes to renewable energy programs, high-speed rail projects and funding for the Environmental Protection Agency.
But those cuts don't begin to address how Congress, with its new GOP-led House, will react to Obama's 2012 budget.
Over the weekend in his weekly address, Obama noted his budget will freeze spending — "even on programs I care deeply about" — for five years, shaving $400 billion off the federal deficit in a decade.
But that's not likely to appease the House's GOP majority, including a number of Republicans from Michigan who have been critical of the White House's fiscal leadership.
Camp, the chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, has scheduled a hearing on the White House's spending plan and what money it will set aside for the implementation of health care reform. Camp said the hearing, scheduled for Wednesday, "will give us an opportunity to examine" the cost of implementing the reform
The Detroit News
Port Washington seeks to convert coal docks to green space
2/15 - Port Washington, Wis. - Where generations of city residents looked out on massive hills of coal waiting to fuel the lakefront power plant, a proposed network of recreational trails could begin taking shape later this year that will guide the public through green corridors of trees, lawns and gardens.
A multiyear plan with a preliminary price tag of $27 million includes construction of floating boat docks, interactive displays for children focusing on water or energy themes, and a harborside facility for year-round community events that will draw visitors to its Lake Michigan vistas, City Engineer Rob Vanden Noven said.
He expects final costs to be several million dollars less than a consultant's estimate.
Transformation of the historic coal storage peninsula to a park will complement the marina and nearby beaches, and boost the city's quality of life, said Mary Monday, executive director of the Port Washington Chamber of Commerce.
But public access to that peninsula will transform the city's skyline into an attraction, too, Monday said.
"It's going to give people a completely different view of the city," she said. "From the coal docks, you look up to see the bluffs, hills and old courthouse. It's beautiful.
"But no one has been able to see that view because it was a coal dock," she said.
As a park, "it will give us another reason for people to move here and want to do business here."
We Energies has not stored coal at the harbor since 2004, and the land is vacant. Power-generating units at the plant now burn natural gas.
Port Washington officials might take a step toward creating the proposed public space when the City Council meets Wednesday to consider subleasing the historic north and south coal docks from We Energies. The city would pay the utility $30 in annual rent to gain access to 19.3 acres for 50 years, under terms of the subleases.
The two coal storage docks were created in the 1930s when a nearby bluff was dug out to make room for the power plant. Soil and stones from the bluff were dumped on the bed of Lake Michigan, and the landfill was used for the coal docks.
Lakebeds are publicly owned in Wisconsin. Now that the utility no longer needs the property, control of the land reverts to the Wisconsin Board of Commissioners of Public Lands.
However, the city cannot lease the land from the state board because it does not own any property abutting the docks, according to City Attorney Eric Eberhardt. State law requires the board to lease lake bed property only to an adjacent property owner.
We Energies owns the lakeshore power plant next to the docks, so it will act as the intermediary, leasing the lake bed from the state and passing its access on to the city through the subleases. The state board needs to approve the subleases.
Since 2004, the utility has spent $3.5 million to clean up the property: monitoring groundwater for pollutants, removing 31,252 tons of contaminated soil from the 12.7-acre north dock in 2009, placing clean soil to a depth of 2 feet atop the north dock and investigating contamination at the 6.6-acre south dock.
The north dock was the primary coal storage area, and rain rinsed a variety of chemical contaminants - from benzene to trichloroethane - off the coal piles and into the soil during 70 years of use.
Remediation of the north dock is completed, said John Feeney, a hydrogeologist with the state Department of Natural Resources in Plymouth. The cover of clean soil on the north dock is a barrier that will prevent public exposure to any remaining contaminants in deeper soil.
The DNR had not decided on a final cleanup plan for the south dock.
As part of its remediation responsibilities, We Energies intends to create a shallow pond on the south dock for migratory birds, spokesman Brian Manthey said.
Port Washington would build a pedestrian bridge connecting the docks, Vanden Noven said. The city is seeking a federal grant to help pay a portion of the estimated $285,000 cost of the span.
Port Washington has been awarded a $250,000 state Stewardship grant to pay for half the costs of the proposed harborside promenade. It will be the first piece of the plan to be constructed and should be open later this year, Vanden Noven said.
The city will seek one other state grant this year to help fund construction of recreational trails on the interior of the former north dock.
A paved trail eventually will connect downtown with the north and south docks and the existing South Beach, Vanden Noven said.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Two retired captains pass away on same day
2/15 – Two retired Algoma Central captains and Manitoulin Island natives passed away on Saturday Feb. 5. Captain Doug Purvis died at his home in Sault Ste Marie, Ont. He was retired as skipper of Agawa Canyon. Captain Jim Scott, retired as skipper of John B Aird, died at the Little Current hospital.
Updates - February 15
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.
Rand Logistics acquires K&K fleet
2/14 - New York, NY – Rand Logistics, Inc., today announced that it has acquired two self-unloading integrated tug/barge units from KK Integrated Shipping. The acquisition was structured with $35.5 million cash paid at closing (including $31.0 million financed with third party debt), $5.1 million of attractively priced junior seller paper and 1,305,963 shares of the Company’s common stock.
Laurence S. Levy, Chairman and CEO of Rand, stated, “We are very enthusiastic about this highly strategic acquisition and expect that it will result in an additional $0.25 to $0.30 in free cash flow per common share for our fiscal year ending March 31, 2012.”
Scott Bravener, President of Lower Lakes, commented, “The acquisition of these vessels allows us to expand our fleet at a price well below replacement cost, improve the profitability of our existing fleet by better aligning our assets to the trade patterns that they are best suited for and provides for greater flexibility in the scheduling of our vessels. Given our current order book as well as additional customer demand expected in connection with the acquisition, the two vessels are fully booked for the upcoming sailing season. In addition, as a result of this acquisition we have elected to defer a drydocking and major capital expenditure program planned for this winter for our smallest, oldest and least profitable vessel. The continued growth of our Company enhances our competitive position as a leading provider of bulk freight shipping services throughout the Great Lakes region and illustrates our long-term commitment to our customers, employees and shareholders.”
Cooperative effort puts out ore dock fire in Superior
2/14 - Superior, Wis. – Superior fire crews were called to a fire at the Allouez Taconite Facility on the city's east side at about 10 p.m. Saturday night.
“It looked like a fireball in the sky,” said Scott Gordon, battalion chief of the Superior Fire Department, describing the scene of the elevated conveyor system ablaze. The Burlington Northern Santa Fe No. 5 Taconite Facility moves pellets about one mile from rail operations to an Allouez marine terminal, where it can be loaded onto lakers destined for downlake steel mills.
Gordon said the fire began near the midpoint of the massive conveyor system in a counterweight structure that houses equipment used to tension the belt. Accessing the fire proved a challenge, because the belt was enclosed and was burning inside a structure about 40 feet above ground level, Gordon said.
Initially, firefighters attempted to tap a hydrant about 1,500 feet away from the blaze, but Gordon said the BNSF-owned hydrant was quickly abandoned when it was found to lack a sufficient flow rate. Firefighters mounted an aerial attack, using the ladder on Engine No. 2 and about 1,500 gallons of water aboard two responding trucks.
Next, firefighters were able to tap into a responding 3,600-gallon BNSF tanker. Water trucks from the Parkland and town of Superior fire departments also were called in for assistance. Through a joint effort, Gordon said the responding fire agencies were able to extinguish the fire and clear the scene shortly before midnight.
He said that about 200 feet of the two-mile long belt appeared to have damaged. The replacement cost of the damaged section of belt is expected to run around $20,000, according to Gordon. No injuries were reported.
Duluth News Tribune
Updates - February 14
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.
Ice breaking operations scheduled for the Ludington, Mich., area
2/13 - Sault Ste Marie, Mich. – The U.S. Coast Guard is advising Ludington, Mich., area residents that a U.S. Coast Guard cutter is scheduled to break ice Thursday in preparation for the transit of a barge en route to docks near the S.S. Badger.
The tug Spartan will be facilitating the vessel's movement, assisted by the crew of the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Mobile Bay.
Tug owner faces charges
2/13 - Cheboygan, Mich. – A Sault Ste. Marie man who owns three derelict vessels currently trapped in the ice at Duncan Bay at Cheboygan waived a preliminary examination last Monday in Cheboygan County 89th District Court.
Scotlund Stivers, 50, was represented by Sault Ste. Marie attorney Charles Mallette. Stivers is facing four charges associated with the Duncan Bay ghost fleet – one felony and three misdemeanors that could lead to a two year prison sentence upon conviction.
Charges against Stivers, brought by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment, include:
* Discharging oil into Lake Huron and the Cheboygan River, violating the Water Resources Act a felony charge punish able upon conviction by two years in prison and/or a fine of $2,500 to $25,000.
According to Assistant Prosecutor Aaron Gauthier, all charges are related to the tug formerly named William Hoey, the most mobile of Stivers’ three craft at Duncan Bay. The U.S. Coast Guard’s Marine Safety Laboratory has confirmed the Hoey as the source of discharged oil samples found on the beach at Cheboygan State Park, in the waters of Duncan Bay and in a slip at the Durocher Dock on the Cheboygan River where the tug rode out a late summer storm, Gauthier said.
Stivers also owns the abandoned car ferry Joelle AnnMarie and the sunken tug Jenny Lynn. He remains free on a $5,000 personal recognizance bond. A circuit court arraignment has been set for Feb. 15.
Sault Ste. Marie Evening News
Shipmaster's trip raffle winner announced
2/13 - The drawing for Detroit Lodge No. 7's recent raffle, a trip for 6 persons aboard the Paul R. Tregurtha, was held on Friday, Feb. 11, during the 121st Annual Grand Lodge Convention.
ISMA Grand First Lady Susan McMullen reached into the tumbler and selected ticket No. 0858, belonging to Michael Schrage of Grosse Pointe Park, Michigan. Schrage was immediately notified by telephone and was happy to learn that he and 5 friends will be making a trip aboard the largest vessel on the Great Lakes this coming summer. The membership of Detroit Lodge No. 7 wishes to thank everyone who supported them with this fundraiser.
30th Great Lakes Shipwreck Festival March 5 in Ann Arbor
2/13 - Ann Arbor, Mich. - 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 30th Great Lakes Shipwreck Festival on March 5 at Washtenaw Community Colleges Morris Lawrence Building.
This years program features several significant new Great Lakes shipwreck discoveries, including the Lady Elgin -- a once-palatial sidewheel steamer whose sinking in Lake Michigan in 1860 resulted in the deaths of over 300 people and the Marion Egan, a Civil War era two-masted schooner that sank in 1875 and was recently found in tact in Lake Huron. In addition to shipwrecks, there will be programs from exotic locations around the world with stunning video and still images of colorful and unusual marine life.
Other programs between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. include additional 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, local dive shops, travel companies and other dive-related exhibits.
For ticket information or program details, visit www.shipwreckfestival.org
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.
U.S.-Flag lakers moved an extra 470,000 tons of cargo thanks to 3-day lock closing extension
2/12 - U.S.-flag Great Lakes freighters carried 3.4 million tons of dry-bulk cargo in January, an increase of 46 percent over a year ago. The January float was also 18 percent better than the month’s 5-year average.
One reason the fleet performed so strongly was demand for iron ore necessitated extending the season through the locks at Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., by three days. The Jan. 18 closing allowed U.S.-flag lakers to carry an extra 380,000 tons of iron ore. The three extra days of navigation also allowed 90,000 tons of coal to move on the Lakes.
Not all of the additional tons moved during the extension. Some of the cargos were loaded on January 13 and 14. These cargos would not have moved had the locks closed on Jan. 15. With winter in full swing, the vessels might have been delayed by weather and/or ice and unable to reach the locks by midnight Jan. 15. The extension provided enough leeway that the cargos could be loaded.
Lake Carrier's Association
Movement of K & K barges fuels sale speculation
2/12 - Marinette, Wis. – Activity Friday at Marinette-Menominee involving the K & K Warehousing barges Lewis J. Kuber and James A. Kuber (and their respective tugs) has led to speculation that the vessels have been sold. Although there has been no official announcement, it is believed that the new owners are Grand River Navigation Co.
On Friday morning, Selvick Marine tugs moved the vessels from the Michigan side of the river to the Wisconsin side, and then back later in the day. It is unknown why the movement was made but may have been for tax purposes.
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.
Port Reports - February 11
Detroit and St. Clair Rivers
Toledo, Ohio - Jim Fritz
U.S. could stop planned Great Lakes nuke transport
2/11 - The U.S. Dept. of Transportation has the authority to block a controversial plan to ship radioactive waste over the Great Lakes.
Last week the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission approved a plan to ship 16-school bus sized steam generators from the Bruce Nuclear Station on Lake Huron to Sweden for reprocessing and reintroduction to the commercial metals market.
The move required special arrangements with Canadian regulators because the generators are so large that no International Atomic Energy Agency approved container can hold them and because the amount of radiation they contain exceeds the limits for shipments under international law.
Because the shipment would pass through U.S. territories in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway en route to Sweden, U.S. approval is necessary.
The agency responsible for oversight of nuclear shipments in the U.S. is DOT’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, an agency that has come under criticism recently for its failure to prevent oil and gas pipeline ruptures.
In the final days of his tenure as a U.S. Senator, Democrat Russ Feingold of Wisconsin spearheaded an effort to ensure that the agency doesn’t simply rubber stamp the plan.
Feingold, together with Sens. Robert Casey Jr.(D-PA), Kirsten Gellibrand (D-NY), Carl Levin (D-MI), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Charles Shumer (D-NY), asked PHMSA to explain how it would handle the request to move the nuclear waste through U.S. waters.
In a Nov. 8, 2010 response PHMSA Director Cynthia Quarterman said the agency would begin considering Bruce Power’s application for a “special arrangement” once the shipping plan was approved by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.
Over the past two decades the agency has made special arrangements for the shipping of approximately 40 large nuclear power plant components, she said, but “almost all of the prior U.S. consignments had a lesser radioactive hazard than the proposed Canadian steam generator transport.”
All but one of the previous nuclear shipments appear to involve ocean shipping rather than transport over the Great Lakes.
Quarterman said that PHMSA would solicit input from the U.S. Coast Guard and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission before granting Bruce Power an exemption from safety regulations.
Feingold asked whether PHMSA be complying with the National Environmental Policy Act [which requires formal environmental review of federal actions with significant environmental impact] and how the agency would ensure public participation and transparency.
Quarterman stated that the agency would comply with NEPA, but offered no details on actions to engage the public.
“It should be noted that although Canada may approve the initial certificate, the U.S. is in no way bound by their approval,” she said. “The U.S. could require additional conditions or elect not to validate.”
PHMSA must conduct a formal environmental review of the plan, said Toledo-based attorney Terry Lodge, who is working with a coalition of U.S. environmental and nuclear watchdog groups intent on stopping the transport.
“This precedent-setting project, if allowed to proceed, will normalize some risky practices that have larger implications for human health and the environment,“ he said. “Bruce Power’s aim is to save money on long-term stewardship costs of radioactive waste by reducing its volume and mixing some of it into recycled metal markets.”
“We believe the proposed shipment manifests as yet unquantified threats to water, the environment and public health in the event of a seal rupture on the generators,” Lodge said. “Radionuclides could enter the Lakes and Seaway, and if so, fisheries and resort activities will be seen as contaminated.”
Lodge said that the transport plans presented by Bruce Power do not detail emergency response measures in the event of a freighter accident and do not include cleanup plans, spill remediation protocols or drinking water protection measures.
Outreach session on Great Lakes shipping set for Feb. 23
2/11 - The federal government has launched an effort to determine what it will take to strengthen the Great Lakes water transportation system.
The U.S.-flag Great Lakes Fleet Revitalization Study includes three regional outreach meetings at Great Lakes ports this month — including one Feb. 23 in Duluth. Thursday was the deadline to register for the Duluth session.
The study “will evaluate options for meeting emerging economic and environmental challenges for Great Lake shippers,” according to the Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration. The outreach meetings will gather information on ships, shore facilities, the environment, and market needs and trends.
“They are looking for different segments to speak on the topics,” said Duluth Seaway Port Authority spokeswoman Adele Yorde.
“We’ll probably cover ballast water treatment and developing the technology for that,” Yorde said. “I know people have talked about extending the shipping season. Is it feasible? What would that take? What would mean for trade development?”
It is unlikely that Congress will authorize any new spending programs in the current economy, said Steve Fisher, executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based American Great Lakes Ports Association. But he said it is prudent to study the Great Lakes’ shipping needs now.
“It’s useful to use this time to study and document and to build a case for whatever policies or programs would be necessary to enhance the Great Lakes fleets and ports,” he said. “Hopefully, once the research is done and we find ourselves a couple years down the road, the economy will have recovered, the federal budget situation will have improved, and we will be in an environment where talking to Congress about assistance is something that is possible again.”
Many ports have needs such as increased dredging and improvement of equipment and facilities on shore, Fisher said.
One specific issue the study will examine is the Environmental Protection Agency’s new emission standards for ships on the Great Lakes. The standards — which go into effect in January 2012 — could cause some vessels to see their fuel prices increase by perhaps 70 percent.
Thirteen U.S.-flagged vessels that will be affected by the change moved nearly 30 percent of the tonnage carried on the Great Lakes by the U.S. fleet in 2008 (before the recession drastically reduced shipments), said Glen G. Nekvasil, Lake Carriers’ Association spokesman.
“They were major, major participants in the iron ore trade,” carrying about 40 percent of the U.S. cargo, he said.
The EPA emission standards attracted a fair amount of attention in 2009, with concern they would force 13 U.S.-flagged steamships out of service unless they received expensive overhauls. But in December 2009 the vessels received an exemption from the standards.
The 13 steamers carried about 19 percent of the U.S. fleet’s cargo in 2008.
Duluth News Tribune
Great Lakes Towing Company Chairman Appointed to the ORDC
2/11 - Columbus, Ohio – An honored member of the transportation industry and U.S. Navy veteran will join the Ohio Rail Development Commission. Bringing over 50 years of experience in maritime transportation, Great Lakes Towing Company Chairman Ronald C. Rasmus has been appointed to the ORDC. His appointment was made by out-going Governor Ted Strickland.
“The ORDC has always been about maximizing ways in which all modes can work together to make economic development and jobs happen in Ohio, “ says ORDC Chairman James Bradley, “and the appointment of Ron Rasmus serves to strengthen the intermodal commitment of this Commission.”
Mr. Rasmus shares that view.
“I look forward to sharing my years of maritime industry and transportation experience with the Ohio Rail Development Commission in order to assist the commission to fully understand the value of a new multi-modal approach to the transportation system to the economic benefit of the State of Ohio through new job creation and improved trade opportunities for Ohio businesses,” he said. “Projects such as the Port of Cleveland’s marine-rail loop and the Port of Toledo’s on-dock rail improvements at several multi-modal facilities to create greater freight flow from the Mid-Atlantic, Midwest and even nationally are all excellent examples of how transportation modes can be better utilized for the greater economic good of Ohio.”
Updates - February 11
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.
New York allows Seaway vessels more time to comply with environmental rules
2/10 - Toronto, Ont. - The New York state government has given commercial vessels using the St. Lawrence Seaway more time to comply with strict new environmental regulations that threatened to shut down commercial shipping on the Great Lakes at the end of the year.
But industry representatives maintained Tuesday that they would be unable to meet New York’s new standards for safely flushing ballast water, no matter what the deadline.
On Monday, New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation began sending out letters to ship owners telling them the Jan. 1, 2012 deadline for meeting new ballast water standards had been set back to Aug. 1, 2013. However, “the department expects you to play an active role” in ensuring that vessels comply with New York’s standards when the new deadline arrives, wrote James Tierney, the department’s assistant commissioner.
New York surprised and alarmed the Canadian government, ship owners and industry leaders when it imposed standards for vessels discharging ballast water that critics say are 100 times stricter than international standards that were established in 2006.
Because it is impossible to enter or leave the Seaway without passing through New York waters, ship owners and the Canadian government feared commercial vessels would be forced off the Great Lakes when the new rule were to come into effect next January.
The extended deadline gives all sides more time to work toward a compromise, but it has done nothing to mollify Seaway users.
“This does not bring about any end to the uncertainty over the current situation,” said Jean Aubry-Morin, a vice-president with St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp., which operates the Canadian side of the seaway.
The delay “still does not address the fact that a lone U.S. state is attempting to impede Canadian-international and interprovincial trade,” Ray Johnston, president of the Chamber of Marine Commerce, said in a statement.
But the state and environmental groups insist the New York regulations are needed to protect the Great Lakes from invasive species that can enter the lakes when vessels flush ballast water taken on in other parts of the world.
Mr. Tierney in his letter said new technology would be available by 2013 that would allow ships to meet the New York standard.
Mr. Aubry-Morin disagreed. “It’s not because we’re not trying to find a solution,” he maintained.
But Jennifer Nalbone, of the environmental group Great Lakes United, said the industry was foot dragging.
“New York is telling industry they have to play a very active role in solving this tremendous problem, not just creating it,” she said.
Globe & Mail
Port Reports - February 10
St. Clair and Detroit Rivers - Bob Glenn
Once Algocanada was clear onto Lake St. Clair, the Risley joined the Griffon and Morro Bay in close escort of the tug Everlast and barge. The day ended with the Mackinaw at Hart Plaza, Algocanada anchored in the Belle Isle Anchorage and Griffon docked in Windsor.
Toronto, Ont. - Charlie Gibbons
Ice breaking operations scheduled in Toledo area
2/10 - Detroit, Mich. – The U.S. Coast Guard is advising Toledo, Ohio area residents that a coast guard ship is scheduled to break ice Thursday. The Algocanada will be coming to the Toledo area following the Canadian coast guard ship Griffon. A commercial icebreaker will escort the vessel through the Maumee River. Ice breaking operations will impact the western basin of Lake Erie into Maumee Bay and up the Maumee River to a commercial terminal above the CSX railroad bridge.
Wary mayor wants pilot project to test cross-Lake Erie ferry
2/10 - London, Ont. – A Cleveland-to-Port-Stanley ferry across Lake Erie may be worth testing on a small scale, the new mayor of Central Elgin suggested Tuesday.
Bill Walters said members of his council met recently with a fact-finder hired by Cleveland port officials and there is some interest in testing the waters with a pilot project. “The ball is in their court,” Walters said of Cleveland. “If they care to proceed, well have some talks.”
The mayor said a ferry could boost tourism and economic development and help Central Elgin pay for upkeep of the harbor it obtained last year from the federal government.
“We’re proceeding cautiously,” he said. “We’ll talk about it (at council) if Cleveland comes back.”
Walters said a tourism-oriented operation, rather than one that relies on heavy truck traffic, is preferred. Many Portsiders have said they don’t want the noise and congestion from truck traffic but they also don’t want the harbor to be a financial burden.
Renewed talk of a ferry in Port Stanley comes two weeks after Norfolk County rejected a proposed link between Ohio and that county’s Houghton Township, just east of Port Burwell. Ferry proponents have been anxious to tap into the $88 million in daily trade between Ohio and Ontario.
The new head of the Cleveland-Cuyahoga Port Authority, Will Friedman, commissioned a $20,000 fact-finding study and report by consultant Stuart Theis to test the appetite for a ferry from stakeholders in Ontario. Theis met with Walters, most of Central Elgin council and others.
In the past, the protracted talks between the federal government and Central Elgin about ownership proved frustrating for American officials and several plans went nowhere. A decision about whether to proceed with the latest push could be made in Cleveland later this month.
The London Free Press
Updates - February 10
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.
Farmers to own Great Lakes ships; 3 new vessels to be built in China
2/9 - Winnipeg, Man. - Prairie farmers will become owners of ships that move their wheat on the Great Lakes, under an unusual agreement announced earlier this week between the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) and shipping companies Algoma Central Corporation and Upper Lakes Group Inc.
The CWB will purchase two new gearless bulk carriers and Upper Lakes Group Inc., will purchase one new gearless bulk carrier. These purchases are in conjunction with the purchase of one gearless bulk freighter and three self-unloading bulk freighters announced by Algoma on December 21, 2010. The ships will be produced by Nantong Mingde Heavy Industries, a shipyard located in the Yangtze Delta area of China. The first ship is expected to enter service in 2013 with the remaining ships to follow through mid-2014.
These new Equinox Class vessels will be able to carry more cargo and move faster than the existing ships that they will replace and require less fuel, which means lower fuel costs and emissions. Upon their arrival, they will be chartered to Seaway Marine Transport (SMT) and SMT will be the operator and manager of these ships. They will deploy them in their dry bulk trades on the Great Lakes - St. Lawrence waterway. SMT is a partnership of Algoma and Upper Lakes and it is the largest operator of dry-bulk vessels on the Waterway.
"As ship owners, we are moving forward to strengthen farmers' position in our grain supply chain," said CWB board chair Allen Oberg, a farmer from Forestburg, Alberta. "This historic step puts us at the helm. Through the CWB, farmers will share in the control and the profits of Great Lakes grain shipping. This is a value-added investment with significant net benefits for Prairie producers."
Oberg said the purchase agreement would not have been possible without the foresight of the government of Canada in removing a 25-per-cent tariff on imported vessels last fall, making the renewal of the Canadian domestic fleet and this purchase economically feasible.
Algoma President & CEO Greg Wight and Upper Lakes President & CEO Pat Loduca welcomed the partnership with western Canadian producers in purchasing the new, state-of-the-art Equinox class bulk carriers.
"This exciting initiative will modernize the Great Lakes fleet with larger, faster ships that consume less fuel and meet future environmental standards," Wight said. "By working together with prairie farmers, we have forged a relationship that will have lasting value for all."
Loduca said the timing is excellent for this partnership, given the need to replace an aging fleet on the Great Lakes. He noted that the current strength of the Canadian dollar also helps keep new-vessel costs down. "We are very pleased to be seizing this opportunity along with the CWB, which helps ensure the long-term strength of our industry."
The vessels that will be replaced by the new construction were not named but are expected to be older vessels operated by SMT.
The CWB's cost for the two ships is $65 million, equal to approximately $1 per tonne, paid over the next four crop years. Prairie farmers also own a fleet of 3,400 rail hopper cars that move wheat and barley to ports and domestic customers.
Lake freight is a key element of Prairie grain producers' supply chain, stretching from farm to overseas customer. CWB-chartered lake freight to eastern Canadian ports has increased by about one million tonnes over the past decade, hitting 3.8 million tonnes in 2009. The CWB projects the export flow of wheat to increase over the next few years as demand strengthens in Europe, Africa and Latin America - destinations served through eastern Canadian ports.
Controlled by western Canadian farmers, the Canadian Wheat Board is the largest wheat and barley marketer in the world. One of Canada's biggest exporters, the Winnipeg-based organization sells grain to more than 70 countries and returns all revenue, less marketing costs, to farmers.
Port Reports - February 9
Port Huron, Mich. – Frank Frisk
Toronto, Ont. - Charlie Gibbons
Presentation "My Voyage on a Great Lakes Freighter" Feb. 23 at Chicago club
2/9 - Chicago, Ill. – Bill Strauss, senior economist and economic advisor with the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, will give a presentation titled "My Voyage on a Great Lakes Freighter," on board the MV Abegweit (Columbia Yacht Club), on February 23. Strauss will tell the story of his travels aboard Lakers, life aboard the ships, and how they provide valuable commerce to the Midwest. The meeting is sponsored by Chicago Association for Business Economics. For more information visit www.chicagoassociationforbusinesseconomics.org.
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.
Algomarine arrives under escort for winter layup
2/8 - The Canadian Coast Guard Cutter Griffon came into Owen Sound harbor around noon on Monday to break ice for the Algomarine, which was inbound for winter layup. Ice was reportedly about 1.5 feet thick in places. Algomarine proceeded straight in and docked at 2 p.m. on the east wall north of the Miller Cement silos.
Several trucks of supplies and many Fraser employees were on the dock waiting to get to work on the ship. There was a very large turnout of locals as well to watch the ship come in.
Erich Zuschlag and Peter Bowers
Environmental standoff threatens traffic on St. Lawrence Seaway
2/8 - Toronto, Ont. - Next year, commercial shipping could disappear from the St. Lawrence Seaway, devastating the Great Lakes economies and throwing thousands of people out of work, thanks to an obscure regulation passed by the State of New York.
As it stands right now, they have a regulation that comes into play in Jan. 1, 2012 that ships wont be able to comply with, Tim Meisner, director-general of marine policy at Transport Canada, said in an interview.
So unless there are some changes to their rules or regulations, it’s a reasonable possibility that much of the economic activity on the Seaway will shut down. No one really thinks it will go that far. But New York and the shipping industry are locked in a game of environmental chicken, and no one as yet seems ready to blink.
It’s all about ballast water. Ships whose holds are not full take on water (ballast) to maintain stability. When they approach port, they flush the water out. But in flushing, species picked up in one body of water can enter another. That’s how the zebra mussel and more than 180 other invasive species made their way into the Great Lakes.
The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has imposed rules that require ships to flush their ballast water out at sea. But the New York state government thinks the new rules are too lax. So back in 2008 it set its own standards, which are far, far tougher than the IMO rules. They go into effect on Jan. 1.
You cant enter or leave the Seaway without transiting New York waters, so New York has the power to effectively shut the Seaway down.
The shipping industry protests that the technology doesn’t exist to meet the New York rules. But environmental organizations maintain that the ships owners are dragging their heels.
“Our theory is, let the standard be set, and that will drive technology that will figure out how to meet that standard,” said Marc Smith, policy manager for the National Wildlife Federation. “Governments have been doing exactly that for decades with fuel-emission standards.”
Mr. Smith dismisses any notion of the Seaway being shut down, saying that the regulations have numerous off-ramps to exempt vessels in the event the technology doesn’t catch up in time.
Besides, he points out, New York in any case would have trouble enforcing the new rules because the state lacks the authority to board and seize ships. But ship owners are emphatic that their vessels will not enter New York waters if they cannot comply with the ballast water standards because they would lose their insurance.
Seaway traffic will stop, if the regulation is implemented, Terence Bowles, president and CEO of Canada's St. Lawrence Seaway Administration, warned recently. “New York is being unreasonable on this particular issue. All the carriers are extremely concerned about it.”
The regulation survived a legal challenge – states, like provinces, have the right and duty to protect water quality within their borders – ¬¬so the best hope now is to get New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, to set aside the regulation. The problem is that the governor is a big supporter of the new rules.
Nonetheless, Mr. Meisner is optimistic that a way will be found around the impasse. The consequences simply don’t bear contemplation. The iron and steel industry and agricultural exports, to name just two, couldn’t survive without the Seaway. The Canadian government is lobbying heavily in Albany to get the new rules postponed.
The Council of Great Lakes Governors, of which the premiers of Ontario and Quebec are full members, has done fine work in recent years in protecting the water quality of the Great Lakes.
Wisconsin would also like to see stricter ballast-water standards. If New York temporarily suspended the new regulations, the council could look at setting a Seaway-wide standard, with Ottawa and Washington ratifying whatever was agreed on.
Here’s hoping all sides figure something out. Fifty million tons of shipping annually depends on it.
Globe and Mail
Questions remain in nuclear shipment
2/8 - Ottawa, Ont. – A Commons committee intends to grill members of the Canada's nuclear regulator and Bruce Power over plans to ship used radioactive generators through the Great Lakes.
The natural resources committee has passed a motion to study the transport of radioactive waste that includes a request for testimony from Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) and Bruce Power NDP natural resources critic Nathan Cullen said Sunday dates hadn't been confirmed but the committee hopes the parties will appear before March.
“The public concern has been pouring in,” Cullen said.
On Friday, the CNSC announced it would issue a transport license to Bruce Power to ship 16 decommissioned steam generators to Sweden, saying it considered the risks to people and the environment negligible.
The license is valid for one year and is the first of many regulatory hurdles Bruce Power faces before it can start shipments. The company still needs approval from Transport Canada and the U.S., Britain, Norway and Denmark.
Among the critics of the decision is a coalition of 73 mayors whose municipalities abut the St. Lawrence and Great Lakes, and are concerned about the threat posed to supplies of drinking water.
“This is the first round,” vowed David Ullrich, executive director of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities initiative. His group will lobby the Canadian, U.S. and European governments to quash the planned shipment, he said.
Help wanted: Travelift and Shipyard Operations
2/8 - Cleveland, Ohio - Position is for the senior manager responsible for installation and testing of The Great Lakes Group’s new 700-ton Marine Travelift and all Travelift business and engineering operations. The job description also includes: Prepare business and marketing plans for development of the new business unit; Manage all Travelift projects and contracts, from solicitation phase, through estimating and proposal preparation, to delivery of products and services in accordance with agreed upon specifications and within time and budget constraints; Respond to inquiries from potential Travelift customers; Provide engineering to supplement efforts on various other projects, to help ensure effective estimating, bidding, progress monitoring and tracking, and budget adherence; Develop all internal Travelift operations plans, protocols and requirements, including training, maintenance, service, spares and consumables; Prepare all heavy lift calculations, lifting plans, and vessel blocking plans for use of new Travelift; Monitor and maintain compliance with all company and regulatory safety regulations, including EPA, OSHA, USCG and regulatory agencies. Competitive salary with an excellent benefits package. Email resume with salary history to firstname.lastname@example.org or fax to 216-781-7472. AAP/EOE employer.
Updates - February 8
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 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.
Port Reports - February 7
Straits of Mackinac - Fred Stone
Rogers City, Mich. - Greg Michaels
St. Clair River - Don Detloff
Updates - February 7
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.
Port Reports - February 6
Straits of Mackinac - Fred Stone
Marblehead Coast Guard crew helps 11 people disoriented on Lake Erie during snowstorm
2/6 - Cleveland, Ohio - The weekend crew at Coast Guard Station Marblehead in Marblehead, Ohio, is staying busy, helping 11 people already Saturday who were disoriented on the ice off Catawba Island, Ohio, during a snowstorm.
Initially, four ice fishermen called 911 to report that they had become disoriented and couldn’t find their way back to shore.
Dispatchers used the caller’s cell phone signal to obtain a GPS location, where the Coast Guard airboat crew met the fishermen and began escorting them to land. The fishermen had too much gear to load onto the airboat, so they walked alongside the airboat as it headed to shore. As they were on the way in, the boat crew encountered three more people who were also disoriented, and escorted them back as well.
While the boat crew was escorting those seven people, they were notified of four additional people, two on a four-wheeler and two on a three-wheeler, who were also disoriented off Catawba Island. The boat crew made sure all seven people they were currently escorting made it safely to shore and then turned around to assist the four additional people.
When the airboat crew met the last four people, two of them came aboard because the three-wheeler they had been traveling on wouldn’t start. The remaining two, on a single four-wheeler, followed the airboat to shore.
“We hope there aren’t more people lost out on the ice during this snowstorm, but we have a response crew here through the night, and they are prepared to help guide those in need safely to shore,” said Chief Warrant Officer Sean McCarthy, commanding officer of Station Marblehead.
Coast Guard helicopter crews have been unable to launch due to the weather.
Train derails near DM&IR ore docks at Duluth
2/6 - Duluth, Minn. – Seventeen empty limestone railroad cars derailed on an elevated section of track near Duluth’s DM&IR ore docks Thursday morning. Two of the cars plunged from the bridge into a small, fenced, wooded area along Carlton Street.
“I’m staring at them right now,” said John Cox, an employee at Jake’s Quality Tire, which is across Carlton Street from where the cars landed. Cox said the derailment rattled the building.
“We heard the commotion going by, and you could tell something was wrong,” he said. “You could feel it shake the building. We looked out, and a big pile of snow was coming off the bridge and there were two (cars) off the bridge.” One of the fallen cars landed upside down; the other stood on one end, its other end supported by the elevated rail’s structure. The other 15 remained upright on the bridge.
“They were on a connection track that leads to the limestone loading area” at the DM&IR docks, Canadian National spokesman Patrick Waldron said. “The cars were empty, so there are no environmental issues.” No one was injured in the derailment, which happened about 9:40 a.m.
“The cause is under investigation,” Waldron said early Thursday afternoon. “Our crews are still responding to the scene to assess the situation and to begin cleaning up the site. They will be there through the day.”
Duluth News Tribune
Bruce Power gets OK to ship 16 radioactive generators through Great Lakes
2/6 - Ottawa, Ont. - Bruce Power has been given the go-ahead to transport 16 decommissioned steam generators from southwestern Ontario to Sweden for recycling. On Friday, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission issued Bruce Power a transport license that will be valid until Feb. 3, 2012.
Environmentalists, First Nations and residents along the proposed route had expressed concerns about shipping the radioactive, school bus-sized generators through the Great Lakes from Owen Sound, Ont.
The commission says it's satisfied that Bruce Power's application meets Canadian and international regulations for the transport of nuclear substances. The commission says the risk to the health and safety of the public and the environment is negligible.
Bruce Power says the generators will be welded shut before they're shipped, but opponents fear an accident would contaminate the lakes with radiation.
"Bruce Power is qualified to carry out the activities to be permitted under the license and certificate," the commission said in a release. "Bruce Power will make adequate provisions to protect the environment, the health and safety of persons, and to maintain national security and measures required to implement Canada's international obligations," it said.
Mayors of cities on the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River said Friday that they're disappointed with the decision.
More than 20 million Canadians and Americans live close to the Great Lakes and 40 million rely on them for their safe drinking water, the Cities Initiative group noted in a release. The Cities Initiative is a bi-national coalition of over 70 mayors from Quebec, Ontario and the eight Great Lakes states.
"Mayors of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence remain concerned that this proposed shipment of 1,600 tonnes of radioactive equipment and waste from the Bruce Power facility exceeds the International Atomic Energy Agency's own safety standard," said Denis Lapointe, mayor of Salaberry de Valleyfield, Que.
St. Catharines, Ont., Mayor Brian McMullan said the group remains concerned over the risk of an accident and the potential for radioactivity to get into drinking water.
Bruce Power has said the transport will be delayed until the St. Lawrence Seaway reopens in spring.
The Canadian Press
St. Lawrence Seaway welcomes three new directors
2/6 - Cornwall, Ont. – The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SLSMC) has announced the recent appointment of three new directors to its board, each to serve a three year term.
Robert Armstrong serves as the representative for the Government of Ontario. He is the President of Armstrong Trade and Logistics Advisory Services Inc. (ATLAS) and President of the Supply Chain & Logistics Association of Canada (SCL). Mr. Armstrong has over 40 years of experience in the fields of global supply chain management, international trade, cross border logistics and customs regulations and procedures. He also serves on the Board of Directors of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, as the National Vice-President of Hong Kong Canada Business Association, and as Chair of the Metrolinx Goods Movement Roundtable.
Ralph Mercier joins the Board as the representative for the Government of Quebec. Mr. Mercier has extensive business experience, having owned a printing business for over 25 years. He also served as Mayor of Charlesbourg between 1984 and 2001, and continues to be active in a wide variety of community initiatives and boards. Mr. Mercier holds a degree in commerce from Laval University.
Wayne Devlin is the new representative for the grain industry. Currently Assistant Vice President of the AgHorizons Export Terminals, Mr. Devlin held many finance positions as his career progressed with Cargill. During this time, he gained experience in the grain and crop inputs business in Eastern and Western Canada. Mr. Devlin graduated from Red River College with a Business Administration Diploma and is a Certified Management Accountant.
Terence Bowles, President and CEO of the SLSMC, welcomed the appointment of the directors. “We look forward to the insights that these proven leaders can bring to our board,” he said. “Since the Seaway’s inception in 1959, the nature of our business has changed markedly. We will be diligently working in the years to come to grow and diversify our business, and the breadth of experience that these directors possess will be invaluable towards this end.”
Fincantieri engineer: Bay Ship will build
2/6 - Sturgeon Bay, Wis. – He spoke with an Italian accent, but the audience understood that the chief engineering officer of Fincantieri, Umberto Vianello, loves building ships and plans to build them in Sturgeon Bay.
Vianello received a round of applause Thursday night from a packed house at the Door County Maritime Museum when he said although the company is busy rebuilding ships this winter, "We are about new construction. We will be building ships in Sturgeon Bay."
Fincantieri purchased Bay Shipbuilding Co. in Sturgeon Bay in 2009 from the Manitowoc Marine Group. Bay Ship, Door County's largest employer, is one of four companies that make up Fincantieri Marine Group in the U.S., with Marinette Marine, ACE Marine in Green Bay and Cleveland Ship Repair.
Eight Fincantieri shipyards dot the coast of Italy. Some 30,000 workers cross the gates of shipyards daily working for the international firm, he said.
"When we work with a company we love our company," Vianello said. "I love building ships — it's my passion."
No surprise for a man from Venice who spent 20 years in the Italian navy before joining Fincantieri 10 years ago. Half of the time he was in the navy, he was on board a ship, either sailing or building one.
He gave an impassioned talk about Fincantieri's history, from the "romantic wooden vessels of 1783 to the beauty of steel" in 1933. He described the S.S. Rex crossing the Atlantic to win awards for highest speed and elegant interior design.
The company was always improving and expanding to enlarge into different markets, Vianello said. Gray warships were added in 1931 with previous ships built to carry immigrants across the ocean. Tankers and oil carriers were added to the mix.
After the 1973 oil shock affected sales, the company began building large cruise ships and continues to design and build for companies that include Carnival, Disney, Costa, Princess and Holland America.
Emerging democratic countries such as South Korea provided another jolt to sales, entering the market and affecting labor rates.
The introduction of the littoral combat ship or LCS, such as the Marinette-built USS Freedom, and high-speed ferries are helping the company improve and diversify, Vianello said.
"This allows the shipyards to keep a constant work force," he said. "We are many, but we think like one shipyard."
Each yard is able to build most of the product, but often ships are put together "like Legos," bringing one piece to another for assembly, Vianello said. That will be the case with the most recent LCS order from the U.S. Navy for 10 ships at Marinette Marine. Sturgeon Bay will build modules that will be carried across the bay to Marinette.
During a question period after his presentation, Vianello was asked more specific questions about Bay Ship. He deferred to general manager Gene Caldwell, who was in the audience.
Caldwell said Sturgeon Bay will share in a two-year plan fabricating parts for the LCS by the end of 2012 and 2013.
Vianello was asked to compare the productivity of workers in Sturgeon Bay to those in Italy.
"I can frankly say productivity is not only comparable but probably a little more," he said. "We have a lot of holidays in Italy. Here they stay much more, and if you look at the numbers here they work more."
Fincantieri has committed almost $100 million to improving its U.S. shipyards and has spent about half that amount so far, Vianello said.
When asked about the current winter fleet, Caldwell said repowering the Edwin H. Gott in Sturgeon Bay was "a great big deal for us."
The downturn of the economy has meant a huge increase in the repair business in Sturgeon Bay, and the company is looking for room to park many of the ships it is laying up in the harbor. There has been good cooperation with the city in looking for other places to tie up, he said.
"The Sturgeon Bay shipyard is quite short," Vianello said, "but it's our third-largest shipyard in terms of land available. ... Enlargement would make room for more repairs and stabilize it more. We have a lot of customers in the Great Lakes area. Why not stay close to them?"
An audience member asked about the translation of the company name. "Fin" stands for "financial," as it was a state financial holding company in 1959 when merged with Italian shipyards or "cantieris," Vianello said.
Door County Advocate
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.
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.
Port Reports - February 4
South Chicago - Lou Gerard
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.
Coast Guard Cutter rescues man on adrift Lake Erie ice floe on his birthday
2/3 - Cleveland, Ohio - Crewmembers from the New London, Conn.-based U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Morro Bay, a 140-foot ice breaking tug temporarily assigned to the Great Lakes, rescued a Canadian man from a piece of ice about four nautical miles southwest of Colchester, Ontario, Wednesday at about 8:30 a.m.
Jim Turton, from Colchester, Ontario, turned 45 years old Wednesday.
The Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Trenton, Ontario, notified the U.S. Coast Guard Ninth District Command Center at about 11:25 p.m., Tuesday to request help searching for four snowmobilers who reportedly fell through the ice near Colchester. Three of the individuals were able to get onto a piece of ice connected to shore, while the fourth climbed onto a piece of ice roughly the size of a football field that was not connected to shore and began floating out into Lake Erie.
Poor weather conditions prevented Coast Guard Air Station Detroit from launching a helicopter. The Morro Bay was about 30 minutes away from the search area when the Coast Guard was notified, and under direction of Coast Guard Sector Detroit, got underway at midnight to head for the man's last known location.
Once the cutter crew located him, the Morro Bay pulled up alongside and lowered Petty Officer 3rd Class Jeremy Lake down to the ice. From there, Lake helped the snowmobiler climb up the rope ladder and onto the cutter.
"I joined the Coast Guard to make a difference," said Lake, who is originally from Berkeley Springs, W.Va., and has been stationed on the Morro Bay since April 2010. "It feels good to save a life."
Also assisting with the search were personnel from the Ontario Provincial Police and local Canadian fire departments. The Canadian coast guard ship Samuel Risley also launched, but arrived after the Morro Bay crew rescued the snowmobiler. The Morro Bay crew transferred the man to the Samuel Risley for transport back to Canada.
"Although some may not directly associate the Coast Guard's ice breaking fleet with our service's search and rescue mission, this successful rescue proves that, at the heart of all Coast Guardsmen, we are lifesavers," said Rear Adm. Michael N. Parks, commander of the Ninth Coast Guard District.
"I commend all of the U.S., Canadian and local agencies involved because, without their quick action and collaboration, the outcome of this morning's incident could have been much different," Parks continued. "I also want to specifically commend the crew of the Cutter Morro Bay for embracing the Ninth District's mission ethos, which resulted in a life being saved."
Lake and another crewman from the Morro Bay just attended an ice rescue training school at the Coast Guard's Ice Capabilities Center of Excellence in Essexville, Mich., Jan. 25-28.
St. Louis County picks Lake Assault for ice rescue air boat
2/3 - Duluth, Minn. - The St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office moved to shore up its winter ice rescue capabilities Tuesday by getting permission to buy a new airboat from Lake Assault boat works in Superior.
The $62,500 craft will be powered by an aircraft-like propeller and able to move on top of ice, ice chunks and water — much the same as the Ashland air boat “Ice Angel,” which made a dramatic ice rescue near Saxon Harbor, Wis., last month.
“This is going to give us incredible, four-season versatility, not just for ice rescues, including broken ice, but for shallow water search and recovery efforts all year,” said Dave Phillips, St. Louis County undersheriff. “We had Ramsey County’s airboat up here to look at and we were going over rocks in two inches of water, and over sandbars ... places we could never bring a traditional boat without blowing out a lower unit.”
The County Board’s committee of the whole approved the purchase Tuesday in Duluth.
The new 19-foot welded aluminum alloy airboat will replace two smaller, aging hovercraft the Sheriff’s Office and Volunteer Rescue Squad used for many years but are now selling because of high operation and maintenance costs.
“They broke down a lot,” Phillips said.
It’s the county’s second big purchase in recent months from Lake Assault Boats, the budding boat builder at Superior’s Fraser Shipyards.
In October, the department christened a $98,000 search and rescue boat that will be used to patrol Lake Superior, the Twin Ports harbor and inland lakes. Philips said the county’s first Lake Assault boat, a 23-foot patrol boat, was purchased in 2009 “and we all just fell I love with it. They are so stable. … And having them built so close to us, we can get regular (construction) updates and they are happy to tweak the specs during construction. They are great to work with.”
Lake Assault was founded in 2003 in Elk River, Minn. Fraser purchased the company and moved it to Superior last year. Lake Assault founder Jerry Atherton is now the company’s director of sales and product development.
The company now has nine employees, up from seven last year, and expects to expand from producing six custom boats in 2010 to 15 in 2011.
The new airboat will be kept on a trailer and stationed at the county’s Pike Lake complex outside Duluth.
Duluth News Tribune
Officials want input on Fort Gratiot Light Station from public
2/3 - Port Huron, Mich. - Officials are trying to get the public involved in developing a master plan for using buildings at the former Fort Gratiot Light Station.
A community meeting is scheduled from 6 to 8 p.m. Monday at the St. Clair County administration building, 200 Grand River Ave., Port Huron. The goal is to get input on what should be displayed in the buildings once the station, designated a National Historic Landmark, is rehabilitated.
"We informed the National Park Service we would re-examine what stories are going to be told and what buildings will be used for which functions," said Mark Brochu, director of St. Clair County Parks and Recreation.
A professional consultant and a landscape architect will be at Monday's meeting to hear comments and use them to create a master plan that will be presented to the public this spring. A final version of the plan will be sent to the National Park Service for review and approval.
Monday's meeting marks one of the first public discussions about how the light station will be used. Discussion for several years has centered on renovating the station south of Lighthouse Beach in Port Huron. The station includes the Fort Gratiot Lighthouse, built in 1829; a duplex light keeper's dwelling; the fog signal building; the single light keeper's dwelling; the former Coast Guard building; and a three-bay garage.
The property now is closed to the public because of safety concerns. The county acquired the deed for the property in September 2010 and is in the process of rehabilitating it so it can be reopened as a museum.
Repairs to the exterior bricks of the lighthouse have started. The work is being paid for with a grant the city of Port Huron received.
Brochu said the county has received a $40,000 grant from the state, and the Friends of the Fort Gratiot Light have contributed $20,000 to the rehabilitation, which will be used to fix the lighthouse's roof.
The Friends of the Fort Gratiot Light have resumed meetings at the Port Huron Museum now that the county is moving forward with the renovation. The organization seeks volunteers to help plan exhibits, fundraisers and events at the light station.
The group had taken a break from meetings because a work schedule for the property was up in the air. It now expects things to progress quickly.
"There can be some functions held on the site as soon as this summer," said Susan Bennett, director of administration and community relations at the Port Huron Museum. "We're confident that we're going to get on the site for special use."
Port Huron Times Herald
Updates - February 3
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.
Port Reports - February 2
South Chicago - Algomarine arrived in South Chicago about 5 p.m. Tuesday to unload salt, and will likely stay put until weather conditions moderate. Emergency officials temporarily closed the entire length of Chicago's iconic Lake Shore Drive Monday night for snow removal and were continuing to monitor the situation due to worries that winds up to 60 mph could push waves from Lake Michigan over the roadway.
On Lake Michigan, a storm warning was in effect through Wednesday morning, with a heavy freezing spray warning in effect through Wednesday evening. Northeast winds were expected to turn northwest Wednesday with storm-force winds to 50 knots. Waves are expected to subside from 15-20 feet Tuesday night to 12-16 feet Wednesday and 6-10 feet Wednesday night.
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
Sturgeon Bay, Wis. - Wendell Wilke and Dick Lund
Straits of Mackinac - Fred Stone
St. Clair River
The Canadian Coast Guard Ship Griffon, which has spent the icebreaking season on Lake Erie, met the Risley and Enterprise off Marine City and helped escort them through the lower river. They appeared to have easy passage until reaching the southern end of Harsen's Island, where the Enterprise required close escort.
They were clear of heavy ice and in northern Lake St. Clair where the Risley turned back to stop for the night off Algonac. Griffon escorted the Enterprise to Sterling Fuel in Windsor. After fueling they will continue downbound, with the Enterprise heading for lay-up in Nanticoke.
Winter a busy time for ship repairs in the Twin Ports
2/1 - Ask the welders, fabricators and other workers about their jobs doing winter repairs on the big cargo ships laid up in the Twin Ports, and they don’t even mention the cold. After all, it goes with the territory.
“You just dress for it,” said Mike Peterson, yard superintendent of Fraser Shipyards in Superior.
More than 100 local construction workers brave the cold after the shipping season ends each January to do the annual ship maintenance. They’re electricians, welders, pipefitters, machinists, carpenters, crane operators, painters and more, all working for Fraser Shipyards or its subcontractors.
This year, 10 U.S.-flagged ships are berthed in Duluth-Superior, and the oft-repeated estimate is that $800,000 to $1 million is spent on repairs and maintenance on each vessel during the off-season. Double or triple that to get the total economic impact on the local economy, said Jim Sharrow, facilities manager for the Duluth Seaway Port Authority.
“These ships have a lot of operating machinery and structure that gets a lot of wear and tear,” Sharrow said. “They have to keep up with this because these ships live a very long time on the Great Lakes.”
Indeed, lakers hauling bulk coal, iron ore, grain and other cargo typically have 60- to 70-year runs. And during the shipping season, any delay can be costly.
“They really need to maximize the production from their ships, knowing they have more than two months in wintertime to perform all that maintenance work,” Sharrow said.
Although 10 lakers are fewer than the dozen that usually winter berth in Duluth, the amount of work needed on the ships here — especially the amount of steel work — is making up for it, Peterson said.
With the Jan. 19 closing of the Twin Ports shipping season, Fraser Shipyards crews have swelled from 30 to 130 for the winter maintenance. It’s one of several full-service shipyards on the Great Lakes that do the winter maintenance.
“Everyone who worked last year is back, and we hired some more,” Peterson said. Among the returnees, is welder Billy Albano of Solon Springs, who is happy to be back for a second season.
“I like it a lot,” said Albano, 20, one of 50 welders so far working on the ship repairs. “You just work on new stuff every day. You go from one job to another. I was a little intimidated working on these big hatches. But you get used to it.”
And the money’s good. The 40-hour workweeks turn into 10-hour days, six-day workweeks as the off-season nears its end. In 3½ months last year, Albano said he earned about $18,000.
Just weeks into the winter layup, Fraser Shipyards isn’t done hiring. “We’re just getting started,” Peterson said. “We’ll be adding more.”
While better than last year’s peak of 80 workers, this year’s total still will fall short of the 200 workers Fraser had about six years ago.
Still, Fraser Shipyards is having a busy winter, Sharrow said. And for that you can thank the H. Lee White, a 37-year-old laker that hauls coal and taconite. It’s in for its five-year dry dock layup, a sort of a 50,000-mile checkup and overhaul.
Its entire structure and mechanical systems are being checked and repaired, including the ship’s underbelly. Its propeller blades have been removed and checked for cracks, its ballast tanks de-muddied, the ship’s exterior will be painted up to water line and the massive cargo holds replaced.
On Thursday, Tim Pierce, 45, of Trego was fabricating new steel hopper plates for the H. Lee White’s cargo hold. Since 1990, he has spent numerous winters doing ship repairs and expects to see 58- to 60-hour workweeks before the season ends in March or April.
“I like it,” he said of the work. “You get to be outside. You get to see a lot of different things.”
And after years working on the ships, he still is in awe of them, especially when they are in dry dock like the White is.
“Walking underneath, you see how massive this whole thing is,” he said. “It’s amazing.”
Duluth News Tribune
U.S.C.G releases its Great Lakes strategy
2/1 - Traverse City - The Coast Guard is releasing the Great Lakes Maritime Strategy, a multi-year plan for Coast Guard activities in the region. Rear Adm. Michael N. Parks, commander of the Ninth Coast Guard District, presented the strategy at the 2011 Traverse City Chamber of Commerce Annual Dinner Friday in Traverse City.
The Great Lakes Maritime Strategy describes a five-year vision, the district commander’s guiding principles, the Ninth Coast Guard District’s strategic objectives, and a call to action that will guide the years ahead.
USCG Fact Sheet: Great Lakes Maritime Strategy – At a Glance
• Excel at mission execution;
Excel at mission execution
Our first and primary responsibility is safe and effective mission execution in the maritime domain. We must grow and sustain the best watchstanders, cuttermen, aircrews, boat crews, and marine inspectors in the entire service.
The nation expects and the Great Lakes region relies on our ability to accomplish our missions.
Inspire and serve our people
Mission execution depends on command and organizational climates that encourage excellence from every member of the Coast Guard family – active, reserve, auxiliary and civilian.
We must foster a mutual respect of our shipmates, champion diversity of background and thought, reward innovation and ensure transparent communications.
The Ninth District and subordinate command elements will strive to inspire and serve our people, and thereby achieve organizational and individual excellence.
Enhance bi‐national cooperation and governance
The Ninth Coast Guard District enjoys a unique view and responsibility within the Great Lakes system that has helped build and sustain a diverse set of relationships, formal and informal, with our Canadian peers. It is only through combined and interagency effort that daily and contingency mission requirements can be met.
Optimize force allocation and resources
Resources are scarce and finite and thus we must be diligent in ensuring resources are applied based on data‐driven mission requirements and not just historical legacy.
While we may not always be able to control our ability to relocate resources, we can assure the mission requirements we place at locations are appropriate and sustainable.
Strengthen strategic partnerships
We cannot meet every mission priority alone. The public expects and our missions demand that we seek out sustainable partnerships at every level of maritime interest.
The complexity and strategic importance of the Great Lakes region has spurred many longstanding regional partnerships that should be leveraged and strengthened to promote harmony among mutually reinforcing goals. With more than 40 federally recognized tribal nations in the Great Lakes region, specific effort on tribal partnerships merit increased attention.
Share our story
The Great Lakes maritime environment is complex and often misunderstood by those outside it, and in some cases even stakeholders within it underestimate the operational complexity and challenges.
Few organizations enjoy a broader vantage point of the Great Lakes maritime system than the Ninth Coast Guard District. It’s incumbent on us to proactively share our story, internally and externally.
We must orient ourselves to the issues that regional and national leadership care about and ensure they understand the tremendous relevance and value the Coast Guard brings to the effort.
Upper Michigan's Source
Morro Bay joins effort by Coast Guard to break Great Lakes ice
2/1 - Petty Officer First Class Eugene Wright woke up one morning while the Coast Guard cutter Morro Bay was sitting still in the ice.
"The ice-covered lake was blanketed in three to four inches of snow," the boatswain's mate wrote last week in a journal entry posted on Facebook. "With no land in sight, it appeared as if the cutter had been gently placed in the middle of a snow covered field and if I hadn't known better, may not be in the water at all. It sounds crazy, but with the sunrise it was picturesque. I am sure that in the months to come there will be plenty more experiences and lessons learned."
Each winter, Coast Guard ships convene in the Great Lakes for the country's largest domestic icebreaking operations. The cutter Morro Bay, which is homeported in New London, left Connecticut in late November for Cleveland.
The crew of the 140-foot cutter spent three weeks icebreaking this month, and members described their experiences via journal entries on Facebook.
The cutter got under way on Jan. 3 to start icebreaking in lower Lake Huron, the St. Clair River, Lake St. Clair, Detroit River and Lake Erie as part of "Operation Coal Shovel."
Then the Coast Guard moved the cutter to "Operation Taconite," named after one of the chief commodities in the area, and the crew of 20 headed for the St. Marys River. Toward the end of the three weeks, the Morro Bay returned to the St. Clair River and worked with the Canadian Coast Guard cutter Samuel Risley.
Lt. Cmdr. Douglas Wyatt, commanding officer of the Morro Bay, wrote in a journal entry about how the cutter helped a large cargo ship that couldn't turn in a channel. He compared moving the 1,000-foot vessel to "blowing a single pass through 30 inches of snow down the center of your driveway, then trying to drive out in a full size van."
They used a technique called "grooming a turn."
"We run up the channel well in advance of the following ship and favor one side of the turn, stop, come about, then run back down the channel favoring the other side of the turn. If seen from above, it would look rather like a crescent moon cut into the ice with the ends of each run meeting in the channels leading into and out of the turn," he wrote.
Then, he wrote, "We turn around once again and run right up the center of the crescent, with our wake breaking up any remaining large pieces of ice. The goal is that the following ship puts their bow on the inside track while their stern swings through the ice to the outer edge of the second track. If you do it right, the escorted ship never even stops. … We soon had them back up to speed and headed up river."
In the three weeks, the cutter helped 18 vessels, including a ferry, that were either stuck in the ice or needed an escort to get through the ice, and made paths in the ice that 17 other ships used to get to their destinations. The crew spent more than 350 hours under way in January and traveled close to 2,000 miles.
"This past week we entered Lake Michigan and have now been to all five Great Lakes," Lt. Jonathan Tice, the executive officer, wrote in an entry Jan. 21. "The seemingly endless miles traveled and hours worked were all done to help ships get through the ice and on their way to bring materials and goods to their ports of call."
He continued, "Working in the ice is very demanding with 1,000-foot ships and shoal water, literally feet away, as we maneuver to keep traffic moving. Everyone back home should be very proud of the crew on board Morro Bay as they've braved sub-zero temperatures out on deck, kept our engines running and warm no matter how cold it is, and stood thousands of hours of demanding watches."
The purpose of breaking the ice is to keep the navigable channels open for ships and for the Coast Guard to respond in emergencies, and also to prevent flooding. Ice can plug a waterway, forcing water out onto the shore.
An average of $2 billion worth of cargo, including steel, coal, heating oil and grain, ships throughout the Great Lakes region each year, according to the Coast Guard. The Morro Bay is normally responsible for the waters near Nantucket as well as the Cape Cod Canal and Cape Cod Bay.
Last week, the cutter returned to Cleveland for maintenance. Far fewer ships will be traveling in the region now that the shipping season has closed. The Morro Bay will spend the next two weeks responding to any search and rescue cases, first in Lake Huron and then in Lake Michigan. The calls for help could come from people out snowmobiling or ice fishing, or from a ship that gets trapped in the ice.
The cutter plans to return home in April or early May. To read more of the journal entries, visit the USCGC Morro Bay group page on Facebook.
Severstal Dearborn mill down - USS Great Lakes may be impacted as well
2/1 - Detroit, Mich. - Severstal NA began informing their customers of an issue with a gas supplier which has caused the Severstal Dearborn mill to temporarily shut down their blast furnace as well as some of their finishing equipment. Market sources have advised Steel Market Update the situation is also impacting the US Steel Great Lakes facility as well.
In a letter to its customers, Severstal NA provided the following information:
“On Friday, January 28, 2011, Severstal Dearborn was notified by its oxygen supplier they had sustained damage to critical equipment resulting in the inability to supply oxygen to Severstal and its other customers. In response thereto, we began a process of notifying our customers of this event. We have now been informed that this damage has also impacted that supplier’s ability to provide Severstal with other required industrial gases. While we are receiving a significantly reduced volume of oxygen for the time being, this event has impacted our ability to fully operate our primary steelmaking operations and, with this latest news, some of our finishing operations will be impacted as well. As previously noted, none of Severstal’s equipment has been damaged as a result of this incident.
“Despite the occurrence of this Force Majeure event, we will be working with you closely to continue timely deliveries of quality products, while minimizing potential disruptions. Should we become aware of additional or different facts that could affect deliveries, we will notify you immediately.”
Steel Market Update
Updates - February 1
Note: the Great Lakes Maritime Center at Vantage Point in Port Huron will be closed on Wednesday due to expected winter storm, it will reopen on Thursday at 7 a.m. The Maritime Center is home to BoatNerd's World Headquarters and is open 7 a.m. - 6 p.m. daily, the hours expand for the summer season.
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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