Great Lakes & Seaway Shipping News Archive

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* Report News

Port Reports -  February 29

Sturgeon Bay, Wis. - Wendell Wilke
Tuesday the Great Lakes Trader came out of the drydock assisted by Selvick tugs. She was rafted alongside the Stewart J. Cort.

Goderich, Ont. - Dale Baechler
Capt. Henry Jackman returned after a trip to Detroit to unload salt. She spent Sunday and Monday at the Sarnia anchorage, due to high winds. The Jackman was on the Sifto Salt dock Tuesday afternoon and loading at 1:30 p.m.

 

Muskegon firm prepared to move forward on dredging permit despite city setback

2/29 - Muskegon, Mich. – Melching Inc. will go forward with a dredging permit application to allow Great Lakes freighter access to the former paper mill property on Muskegon Lake.

The dredging is needed for the future redevelopment plans for the property even though a unanimous vote this past week of the Muskegon Planning Commission closed the door on storage of construction materials at the former Sappi Fine Paper site for the 2012 shipping season, company owner Doug Melching said.

State environmental regulators will host a public hearing on the company’s dredge permit application before they rule on the issue. Melching is asking the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality for a dredge permit for a 2,000-foot section of the property’s shoreline and the removal of 50,000-cubic yards of lake bottom materials. The bottom sediments would be stored on the 120-acre paper mill site or disposed of in a proper landfill offsite, the company’s application states.

“We will need the dredging for other developments on the site, such as the potential of moving manufactured items or for a marine repair business,” Melching said after losing his bid to ship materials such as sand and rock for construction use.

A public notice on the dredge permit application was issued Jan. 31 by the DEQ’s Water Resources Division in Grand Rapids. The public had 20 days from the publication of the notice to comment on the dredge application and request a public hearing.

Water Resources Division Grand Rapids office supervisor Luis Saldivia told The Chronicle that the Melching application received a “hand full” of responses that included a request for a public hearing. He said his staff is in the process of preparing the date, time and place of the hearing, which will be published to allow interested parties to attend.

The dredge permit received a brief mention at the public hearing on Melching's request for a special use permit for construction material storage before Muskegon planning commissioners last week.

Brian Torresen of the nearby Torresen Marine questioned whether such a large-scale dredge project adjacent to shore would be approved. Torresen Marine with a sailboat business and small marina on Muskegon Lake has needed DEQ permits recently to complete extensive dredging in its marina basin.

The Melching request is for the “hydraulic dredging” of bottom sediments along approximately 2,000 feet of Muskegon Lake frontage on the west end of the property. The former paper mill property has nearly 5,200 feet of total lake frontage.

Hydraulic dredging is in essence the vacuuming up of material by a dredging barge and the collection of the bottom sediments. It is a technique routinely used in harbor maintenance dredging projects on the Great Lakes.

The material removed from the lake would take bottom depths to 24 feet. Dredging would begin 40 feet from shore in water less than four feet deep and continue out an average of 80 feet into the lake to accomplish the 24-foot depth, according to the application.

The Melching application also asks for approval to place five mooring pilings into the lake bottom, two of them at 36-inches in diameter and three at 24 inches, according to public records. The mooring posts would be 200-feet apart along shore on the far west end of the property.

The dredging and pilings would allow a Great Lakes freighter to tie up parallel to the shoreline in that area. Maintenance dredging would be needed every 10 years to maintain the 24-foot depths, Melching’s application indicates.

The Melching dredge permit application was prepared by the company’s environmental consultant, Lakeshore Environmental Inc. of Grand Haven. The application was submitted in conjunction with King Co., a Holland-based Great Lakes dredging company that had the federal contract to dredge the Muskegon harbor in 2011.

The massive amount of bottom sediment removed from the lake would be placed on the Sappi mill site. The exact location is still being determined, the application stated.

“On-site upland disposal is proposed, however, given the former Sappi site’s environmental status, the preferred and acceptable disposal location is still being evaluated,” Melching stated in the application.

Melching Inc. is a demolition company from Nunica that purchased the site from Sappi Fine Paper in 2011 for $2.3 million. The site had been a paper mill for 109 years until the South African global paper company closed the Muskegon operations in 2009.

Deed restrictions placed by Sappi on the site limits Melching’s redevelopment of the property to industrial uses. Those restrictions also keep Melching from publicly discussing environmental conditions and issues with the property to the great frustration of skeptical neighbors.

In rejecting the special use permit to store construction materials, city planners asked Melching for an overall master plan for the property to be considered before decisions on individual parcels are made. Melching has hired Triangle Associates of Grand Rapids, which has produced a preliminary conceptual master plan for a Muskegon Maritime Business Park on the site.

The business park plan calls the property to be divided into 11 separate parcels. Besides the proposed bulk storage, other proposed uses include manufacturing, warehousing, boat and barge repairs, bio-fuel production and continued operation of the paper mill’s power plant.

In the meantime, Melching crews continue to demolish a good portion of the 1 million square foot industrial facility. The demolition work is expected to take roughly two years.

MLive

 

Niagara River ice boom to be removed, earliest ever

2/29 - Buffalo, N.Y. – The ice boom is set to be removed from the Niagara River Tuesday, the earliest ever.

Because of the mild temperatures this winter in Western New York, the lack of ice on Lake Erie, and the absence of an ice build-up below Niagara Falls, the New York Power Authority and Ontario Power Generation decided to remove the boom.

A crew was expected to begin opening the boom's 22 spans on Tuesday. If everything goes as planned, this will be the earliest removal of the ice barrier since it was first installed in the winter of 1964-65.

Previously, the boom's earliest opening date was March 5, 1998. The latest date for opening was May 3, 1971. Last year, boom opening began on April 12 and was completed on April 22.

WGRZ

 

Changes ahead in Mackinac Race

2/29 - Port Huron, Mich. – The 88th running of the Mackinac Race features major changes this summer. The sailboat race will have a new finish line, race headquarters and awards ceremony.

Boats will set sail July 14 just north of the Blue Water Bridge in lower Lake Huron. The finish line moves in front of the Grand Hotel, which also becomes the race headquarters. The awards ceremony will be on the grounds of the Grand Hotel.

"I think these are excellent moves for the future of the race," said Tyson Connolly, a crewmember aboard Rowdy and past Port Huron Yacht Club commodore. "It puts everything closer to the harbor and the downtown area. It's the same finish line they use for the Chicago Race. I did the race last year, and I thought it was very cool."

It's the same finish line where the Mackinac Race ended for its first 42 years.

Mission Point Resort has been used as the race headquarters for years. The yard in front of the resort was the site of the awards ceremony. Spectators and crew watch sailboats cross the finish line. The boats motored the rest of the way into the harbor.

"It will be a little interesting with the finish line beyond the harbor," said Pat Hoy, a past Yacht Club commodore who sailed for years aboard Split Decision. "The only thing I see is you're going against the current in that area.

"As far as the race headquarters and the party at the Grand Hotel, I'll have to wait and see how it goes."

Said Connolly: "It's going to be a challenge at the finish line because you're going to have to cross back over the line and motor 200-300 yards back to the harbor. You have boats finishing and the wake from the ferry boats to deal with."

Greg Thomas, the race chairman from Bayview Yacht Club, said the Grand Hotel will be open to crews and their families with the $10 charge waived.

The Island House, just across from the harbor, is being considered for the skipper check-in. All Mackinac race skippers are required to check in with the race committee shortly after finishing the race.

"It was a pretty good walk from the harbor down to Mission Point," Connolly said. "You do that two or three times a day after just completing the race and it's a pain in the rear."

The awards ceremony is scheduled at the west end of the Grand Hotel grounds in a field near the island school. Crews and spectators will have a view of the Mackinac Bridge and the Straits of Mackinac.

"I think you're going to see the level of fun increase," Connolly said. "I don't think Larry Bell (owner of Bell's Beer), Bayview and the Grand Hotel are going to do anything but make this a first-class event."

Port Huron Times Herald

 

Port Reports -  February 28

Straits of Mackinac – Fred Stone
The USCG Mackinaw departed her homeport of Cheboygan, Mich. about 9 a.m. Monday. She headed eastbound around Bois Blanc Island, through the Round Island Passage and into Lake Michigan. She turned back east bound about 2 p.m. After turning off Mackinac Island, she docked for the night in St. Ignace.

Toronto, Ont. - Charlie Gibbons
On Sunday afternoon, the tug Molly M 1 hooked up to the stern of the Tim S. Dool and later in the day drew the Dool from her winter berth to the Redpath Sugar slip to facilitate unloading of the Dool's winter storage load of sugar.

 

Mild winter impacts Port of Milwaukee

2/28 - Milwaukee, Wis. – The Port of Milwaukee usually doesn’t have ships coming in past mid-January, but this winter has been different. Milder weather means salt ships—those that travel the Great Lakes only, mostly delivering road salt—have continued to come to port all winter.

“Usually the ships lay up in mid-January to the end of January,” said Port of Milwaukee marketing manager Betty Nowak. “Never do I recall having four or five salt ships coming in in February.”

However the unseasonably warm temperatures also mean less road and sidewalk salt is needed ashore, so salt shipments will likely slow down this summer as a result. The salt ships that come in to the Port of Milwaukee work on contract to supply salt to all of southeastern Wisconsin. Employees at the port load 800 to 1,000 trucks with salt per day for shipment, Nowak said.

“Certainly we’re getting more revenue from the additional cargo coming across the docks,” she said. “We have more truckers and more labor moving the salt around.”

The Port of Milwaukee saw a 32 percent increase in 2011 tonnage over 2010, Nowak said. That’s brought the tonnage numbers back to pre-recession levels.

Milwaukee BizTimes

 

U.S. top court rejects states' appeal on Great Lakes carp

2/28 - Washington, D.C. – The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected an appeal by five states seeking an order requiring that a range of steps be taken to keep the invading Asian carp out of the Great Lakes, where they are considered a threat to fisheries.

The high court refused to hear an appeal by Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin after the states lost their bid for a preliminary injunction that would have required additional efforts to stop the migration of the voracious carp into the lakes.

The carp have taken over stretches of the Mississippi River and its tributaries. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Chicago area waterway system already have adopted a number of measures to block the advance of the carp into Lake Michigan.

The states have argued that two species, the Bighead and Silver carp, pose a severe threat to the Great Lakes' $7 billion fisheries. The carp can spread rapidly, crowding out other native fish species.

A federal judge and a U.S. appeals court in Chicago denied the request for a preliminary injunction that would have required additional physical barriers in the Chicago area waterways, new procedures to stop the carp and the speeding up of a study on how to devise a permanent solution to the problem.

In their appeal, the states said the Supreme Court "should grant review and reverse to abate an imminent threat to one of the most precious freshwater ecosystems in the world."

The federal government opposed the appeal, said the case does not warrant further review and told the Supreme Court that the effort to prevent the spread of the carp was already being effectively managed by federal, state and local agencies.

U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli said the states failed to show the need for preliminary injunctive relief and that the litigation should be allowed to proceed before a federal judge in Chicago.

In 2010, the Supreme Court on three separate occasions rejected an appeal by Michigan, refusing to get involved in the legal battle over the carp.

The U.S. Supreme Court case is Michigan v. Army Corps of Engineers, No. 11-541

Reuters

 

Port authority aims for projects beyond Detroit River

2/28 - Detroit, Mich. – The new chairman of the Detroit-Wayne County Port Authority wants his organization to finance infrastructure projects away from the Detroit River, a goal that has another local economic development group concerned.

"The port authority is a link in the transportation modes, like air and road," said Chairman Louis James. "My interest is linking all three of those together to create more business opportunities." To do that, the authority is seeking legislative approval that would allow it to issue bonds for inland transportation projects.

But George Jackson, president of the quasi-public Detroit Economic Growth Corp., worries that the port authority doing projects away from the river will create a confusing duplication of services.

"It has to be done in a manner that doesn't cannibalize existing organizations," he said, adding that he believes the authority wants to issue bonds because it will collect a fee on them for each project financed.

We all have bonding power. They don't have any money of their own," Jackson said.

James doesn't deny that the authority is interested in collecting money from financing new projects. "We have to create other streams of revenue," he said.

The state, county and city provide a combined $1 million in annual operating funds for the authority.

But James also defended the desire to do inland projects as helping with legitimate economic development.

"I think everyone needs to be doing economic development in Detroit," he said. "All you have to do is drive around and look around. We're not here to be competitors. We are here to be part of the development, wherever we fit."

He noted that the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority helped finance the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame adjacent to Lake Erie, and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey financed the original World Trade Center towers.

The Detroit port authority can finance projects only along the Detroit River -- a notable example being $43 million in bonds it issued in 2004 to aid construction of the Beaubien Place parking garage adjacent to the Renaissance Center.

Sen. Mike Kowall, R-White Lake Township, is working on bills that would authorize the port authority to issue bonds for inland projects, said John Jamian, the authority's director.

James, 66, served as the port authority's vice chairman for eight years after being appointed to the board by then-Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and reappointed by Mayor Dave Bing. The rest of the five-member board unanimously voted to make him chairman after Art Blackwell resigned in January.

James owns Detroit-based Jasco International LLC, a global supply chain logistics management firm that does warehousing and distribution.

While critical of the authority's plan for expanded bonding abilities, Jackson has plenty of praise for James.

"Louis is a very good businessman. What he will bring is his acumen. That will be a real asset for the port authority," he said. "That business mind that he has and his experience will help the port authority grow."

The port authority has not been a very visible organization in Detroit and Wayne County, James said.

The $22.1 million, 21,000-square-foot public passenger terminal and offshore wharf that opened last year near the Renaissance Center helped boost the authority's public profile, and James said he intends to further increase its profile by using the riverfront for business and social commerce. "It's underutilized," he said, without divulging plans.

The authority plans to unveil a revamped website at portdetroit.com in two weeks and is working on a new marketing plan, James said. It's also lobbying to change a state environmental law governing ballast for oceangoing cargo ships to allow them to load local exports here rather than in Toledo.

Ontario lacks the same restrictive ballast rules aimed at controlling invasive aquatic species that can damage the Great Lakes, meaning the Michigan law is pointless because creatures such as the zebra mussel don't stop for international boundaries, James said.

"In Windsor, they're able to do what we're unable to do," he said. "(Changing the law) will create unlimited opportunities for commerce on the river, in both directions. We bring in a lot, but we don't take out a lot."

Crain’s Detroit Business

 

Updates -  February 28

Weekly Website Updates
 

 

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

Detroit, Mich. – Bob Miland
The Capt. Henry Jackman unloaded salt in the Rouge River Sunday. She departed upbound with G Tug assistance that evening heading for Goderich, Ont. Gale warnings were posted for Lake Huron Sunday night.

 

Backdown on ballast water rules a relief to Algoma boss

2/27 - St. Catharines, Ont. – News that New York state has stepped back from ultra-strict ballast regulations has Algoma Central Corp.’s top executive relieved. But Greg Wight remains wary about possible future standards that are still unachievable.

On Wednesday, the state Department of Environmental Conservation said it will pursue a uniform national standard for ballast water rules, instead of an earlier proposal that would have imposed standards 100 times more stringent than International Maritime Organization rules that currently govern the cleaning of ships’ ballast water.

The change in position follows backlash from the St. Lawrence-Great Lakes maritime industry over the possible rule changes. Critics charged the proposed rules could have stopped shipping traffic through the St. Lawrence Seaway in New York waters because the technology isn’t there to meet the standard.

“Our stance on ballast water is we need a regulatory regime that is both uniform and achievable,” said Wight, CEO of Algoma Central Corp.

Based in St. Catharines, Algoma owns a fleet of 35 Canadian ships that ply the essential central Canada-U.S. water trade route.

“For New York to say they will pursue a national standard with the (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) is very positive,” he said. “Unfortunately, the achievable part is not the same message in the underlying words.” Wight said word is the state will continue to advocate with the EPA and other states to have a standard higher than IMO.

“Our only concern is (that) the regulations don’t get ahead of the technology,” he said. “And we’re absolutely certain the technology isn’t there yet to achieve an IMO standard, let alone something that’s a multiple.”

New York’s concern is to prevent the introduction and spread of invasive species like the zebra mussel and other non-native aquatic invaders into waterways through ballast discharge. The Chamber of Marine Commerce figured the tougher rules might have cost 55,000 Canadian jobs and $8.5 billion in economic activity. Now, the existing New York standards will remain in place at least until the end of 2013.

Under the original proposal, operating ships would have had to meet a water-quality standard 100 times tougher than the IMO rules by August 2013, the Chamber said in a Wednesday release. Ships built after January 2013 would have to meet 1,000 times the current standard, it said.

Wight said part of the problem is the technology required to deal with cold Great Lakes freshwater — most systems deal with warmer seawater. Algoma’s ships also discharge ballast water quickly.

“You not only need a large system that can treat the ballast, but you have to be able to treat it as freshwater and cold water,” he said.

While the technology is being worked on, a system hasn’t yet been approved by the U.S. Coast Guard to operate in the Great Lakes, even at IMO standard, Wight said.

“And we now have a two-year window, essentially … so we have some time to work with the regulators and technology to be sure it’s in synch.”

St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp. spokesman Andrew Begora said the challenge is to meet ballast quality standards that are “both protective as well as being practical.

“That is indeed the goal we are all seeking to achieve.”

St. Catharines Standard

 

Mill scale welcome cargo at Port of Oswego Authority

2/27 - Oswego, N.Y. — A new product currently sitting at the dock of the Port of Oswego Authority could be handled there on a long-term basis leading to an increase in jobs, according to Jonathan Daniels, executive director of the port.

Daniels said that the port has recently received a byproduct of the steel production process called mill scale, which he said is used in secondary steel production and as a strengthener and filler in concrete.

“If you are on the west side (of Oswego) and you look over here and see a big black pile that looks like some of the best topsoil — that’s mill scale,” Daniels said. “It is the iron and steel coating that is on top of the steel production process. When steel cools, it forms this very thin layer that is rich in iron content.”

The owner of the mill scale is a firm in Dallas, which acquired the product from Nucor Steel of Auburn Inc., Daniels added. The product is transported to the port by a trucking firm in Syracuse, where it sits until it is shipped to China.

“It is a new commodity, and it does appear to be a long-term option for us,” Daniels said. “So as long as we continue to handle this, it gives us the opportunity to bring more people in here.”

He further stressed that the benefits do not stop at the Port of Oswego Authority.

“There is a product that is coming out of a local steel mill, a local trucking firm is bringing the material in, longshoreman will handle the product, you have a shipping line that will be in here that will pay dockage. ... Anytime you can introduce a new product into the mix, it is a wonderful opportunity,” he said.

It comes among the multi-product plan at the port that currently has a 10-year contract signed with Perdue AgriBusiness to handle soybeans, wheat and corn, and a recently signed agreement with Golden Sachs to bring aluminum into the port by railcar where it is stored and then shipped on to Novelis, in Scriba. He noted that the Port of Oswego Authority handles a significant amount of aluminum products for Novelis, adding that the ballast regulations that were being discussed for implementation by the DEC would have hindered both entities.

“It effectively could have made it difficult for them to get their raw product into the port and on site for them,” Daniels said. “It is a port issue and also a local production issue.”

The Palladium Times

 

Updates -  February 27

Weekly Website Updates
News Photo Gallery
USCG Mackinaw feature updated new pictures on the History page.

 

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.

In 1916 the MOUNT STEPHEN, formerly of Canada Steamship Lines, struck a mine and sank off Dover, England, while carrying coal as part of a convoy but the crew was rescued.

The former Great Lakes trader GEORGETOWN, built at Buffalo in 1900, sank in 1917 as ETRETAT in a storm off the Bay of Biscay while carrying barreled oil although there was some suspicion of enemy action.

In 1966 the Greek Liberty ship EUXEINOS was abandoned in the Atlantic 360 miles southwest of the Azores after developing leaks the previous day. She had made three trips through the Seaway as MOUNT ATHOS in 1959. The crew as picked up by a passing tanker and delivered to Halifax.

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

 

Port Reports -  February 26

Sturgeon Bay, Wis. – Scott Best
Saturday the Great Lakes Trader was in the Graving dock at Bayship and appears to be getting a paint job as tarps are in place around her. The tug Joyce L VanEnkevort was tied up near the bows of the St. Clair and American Mariner.

 

Commission votes to allow tour boat to moor in harbor

2/26 - Marquette, Mich.- The Lake Superior shoreline along Mattson Lower Harbor Park will look a little different this summer, thanks to an 81-foot ship that will be moored off the park.

The Marquette City Commission voted 5-2 at this week's meeting to allow the Isle Royale Queen III to spend its summers moored along the park's bulkhead. Citizens will be able to buy tickets for cruises on the ship, which will be operated by Marquette Harbor Cruises.

Commissioner Fred Stonehouse made the motion to approve the proposal and direct the city to enter into an agreement with MHC.

Many of the commissioners said they were looking forward to the cruises and hoped the boat would increase interest in activities in the harbor.

"It's a wonderful opportunity to showcase not only our harbor, but also the entire coastline," Stonehouse said. "I think this is something very much worth supporting."

Though the bulkhead fee of $47.96 per foot would call for MHC to pay the city $3,884.76 this year, the company requested relief from the fee.

The city proposed a six-year deal with MHC, in which the cruise company would pay the city $2,000 for the mooring space during the first year. In the next two years, that rate would increase to $3,000 and then $4,000. From there, the fee would increase 6 percent annually.

Commissioner David Saint-Onge - who, along with commissioner Robert Niemi, voted against the motion - said he liked the concept but was worried about the possibility of the city never reaching a point where it catches up on the payment schedule.

"I still think it's a great idea," Saint-Onge said. "But my fear would be if they had to walk away, what happens with the revenue we would have gained had the contract come to fruition?"

MHC representative Molly Carmody said the boat can handle 100 passengers per trip and that tickets will cost $25 per person. The company estimates an annual passenger load of 8,000.

Last summer, the boat made a handful of practice runs in Marquette in anticipation of something more long-term.

The vessel was originally named the Isle Royale Queen II and was used during the 1970s and 1980s to shuttle people, backpacks and canoes between Copper Harbor and Isle Royale. It was more recently used as a transport between Menominee and Sturgeon Bay, Wis.

It only measured 57 feet then and the small vessel's inability to handle turbulent waters quickly earned it a not-so-affectionate nickname: the "barf barge."

In 1989, the boat was lengthened by welding on an additional 24 feet to the stern and was renamed the Isle Royale Queen III. The extra 24 feet greatly improved the boat's ability to take on rough weather and smoothed out the ride for passengers.

Several local business partners, including William Carmody and John Madigan of Munising, purchased the boat in 2010.

Mining Journal

 

New Niagara Falls boat tour operator shows off its plans

2/26 - Less than 24 hours after being awarded a 30-year contract to operate boat tours at the base of Niagara Falls, Hornblower Canada Company CEO Terry MacRae was in town to show off his company’s plans.

MacRae, who started Hornblower with two boats 32 years ago, now operates one of the biggest boat tour companies in the U.S. It made 150,000 trips last year, shuttling nearly 6 million people to some of the biggest tourist attractions in the country.

The California-based company won the Niagara Parks Commission’s long-term lease deal and will replace Maid of the Mist Steamboat Co. as the tour boat operator starting in 2014.

“We were thrilled,” MacRae said. “The incumbent operator has done a fabulous job over the years of providing service. We’re looking to make some changes to upgrade and innovate and make it a more interesting and exciting destination.”

As part of its bid package, Hornblower came up with conceptual drawings for the upper level ticket and elevator entrance area as well as the redesigned dock level, which will include viewing areas for people not riding the boats.

“We want to start by taking the plaza at the top and making it a more exciting gateway. It’s hard to see how to get into the Maid of the Mist now,” MacRae told The Niagara Falls Review.

It also commissioned a pair of metre-long boat models representing two potential styles of the 599-passenger boats the company will use. Hornblower is shopping for shipyards to construct the boats, which will have multi-level viewing platforms, washrooms and concessions on board.

“One of the things we looked into was how to create better viewing areas on the boat with unobstructed views of the falls,” said Hornblower marketing director Tegan Firth.

The boats will take around a year to build and MacRae said two Canadian shipyards — one in Ontario and one in Quebec — are among the companies in the running for the job.

In addition to the two main boats, a third, high-power rescue boat will be at the side of the dock. Firth said safety is a big aspect of the project.

“It’s a different kind of environment than we’ve run in. There are strong currents and lots of water, but the fundamentals are the same — being safe and offering a good experience for international visitors,” she said.

The contract with the parks commission will earn the government agency around $500 million over the next three decades — $300 million more than what it would have earned by keeping the current agreement with the Maid of the Mist.

But NPC chairwoman Janice Thomson said revenue wasn’t the most important aspect of the winning bid, which beat out five other candidates for the contract, including the Maid of the Mist Steamboat Co.

Thomson said Hornblower’s plan beats the current operation when it comes to “marketing, its vision for an extended service with more family oriented activities, (and) fully accessible access to the boats.”

In the original request for proposals, the commission said the elevators taking people down to the docks were one of the factors limiting how many customers the boat tours could handle. To fix that problem, Hornblower plans to run a motorized tram down the access road to the dock, as well as rebuilding the incline railway that was used to get passengers to the docks until 1990. That, however, isn’t expected to happen for the first few years.

“The immediate priorities would be working on the vessel design and construction, working on the ticketing system and then looking at the infrastructure to see what improvements should be made,” Firth said. “Those are the big three we need to look at right away.”

St. Catharines Standard

 

Updates -  February 26

New Video on our YouTube Channel - Edward L. Ryerson Salute Medley

 

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.

The T-2 tanker ROYAL OAK on fire off Esmeraldes, Ecaudor, in 1947 was abandoned only to be reboarded and the fire extinguished. A Great Lakes visitor to Lorain in 1966 as TRANSBAY, it received a new mid-body there for reconstruction as TRANSHURON.

The Liberty ship BASIL II, a Seaway visitor in 1960, ran aground on a reef off the west coast of New Caledonia as EVER PROSPERITY in 1965 and was abandoned as a total loss.

A serious fire to the pilothouse of MONTCLIFFE HALL at Sarnia in 1981 was blamed on sparks from a welder's torch. The damage was repaired and the ship survives as CEDARGLEN.

ANGLEA SMITS, a Seaway trader in 1983, was abandoned and believed sunk in the Atlantic en route from Norway to Australia in 1986.

NIPIGON, a former Abitibi tug that worked on Lake Superior, sank off the coast of Louisiana in 1998 as FLORIDA SEAHORSE and all on board were saved.

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

 

Port Reports -  February 25

Goderich, Ont. - Dale Baechler
Capt. Henry Jackman returned and was at the Sifto Salt dock at 2 a.m. Friday. Algomarine and Jackman have been running steady to Lake Michigan lately, with no delays due to ice conditions or loading times. This morning’s arrival is probably the latest ever during winter at Goderich.

 

Broken ice between Mackinac Bridge and Brevort

2/25 - Sault Ste, Marie, Mich. – The U.S. Coast Guard has broken the ice between St. Helena Island and the mainland in Northern Lake Michigan between the Mackinac Bridge and Brevort, Mich. All recreational ice users should avoid using the ice between St. Helena Island and the mainland until further notice. Recreational users and island visitors should stay tuned to local media resources for the status update.

 

Plan to dredge has Douglas residents worried about pollution

2/25 - Douglas, Mich. – Concerns about carcinogens like PCBs and arsenic being deposited on land were raised during a public hearing on dredging a channel in Kalamazoo Lake Wednesday.

Local residents also sought answers from the Department of Environmental Quality on what safeguards and testing of the dredged river silt would be done to protect the health of the community.

Douglas marina owner R.J. Peterson is seeking an emergency dredging permit to clear a 50-foot wide, 4,000-foot long channel along the west shore of the lake to tow out of the lake harbor the S.S. Keewatin, a century old steamship that is being moved to Port McNicoll, Ontario. The boat has been a tourist attraction in Kalamazoo Lake for over 50 years.

Dredging to get the boat out would put about 22,000 cubic yards of lake sediment in a containment area at Peterson’s Tower Marina at 219 Union St. in Douglas.

“What levels of contamination are going to be accepted from dredging put on the land and what is going to be the environmental impact to our property and adjoining wetlands?” asked Ralph Hemsley business manager for St. Peters Church, which adjoins the deposit site for the dredged material.

Hearing chairman Kameron Jordan, district supervisor of the DEQ Water Resources Division, said testing of sediment would be done but noted previous tests of lake sediment in 2004 had indicated acceptable levels of PCB and arsenic for land placement.

“No environmental impact statement for the dredging would be required,” said Jordan, noting that the DEQ would issue a ruling on the permit in the 30 to 40 days.

Jordan said approval of the permit might include a requirement to cover with clean material and contain the dredging matter if the pollutant levels were higher than the acceptable requirement for residential use but less than the limit of 10 parts per million for health safety.

More than 50 people attended the hearing held by the Department of Environmental Quality at the Douglas City Hall. Dayle Harrison, president of the Kalamazoo River Protection Association, wanted the DEQ to do more than do a single sediment test on the lake silt before making a determination.

“One test is not enough sampling. Testing should be done every 50 feet minimum on a 100-foot wide path of the dredging,” Harrison told the hearing chairman. “And testing should be done on an alternate route also,” he said.

Area residents have 10 days to send in written comments on the proposed dredging to the MDEQ, WRD, Kalamazoo District Office, 7953 Adobe Road, Kalamazoo, MI 49004.

Grand Rapids Press

 

31st Great Lakes Shipwreck Festival in Ann Arbor Saturday

2/25 - Ann Arbor, Mich. – On Saturday you have a chance to set sail on a voyage back in time. That's because the 31st Great Lakes Shipwreck Festival is being held at Washtenaw Community College's Morris Lawrence Building in Ann Arbor.

You will hear about the steamer, Fred McBrier, which sank in 1890 just seven minutes after colliding with another steamer near Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse in Lake Michigan. You can also learn about the large wooden steamer Keystone State, which disappeared in 1861. In addition to other shipwreck stories, you can hear about pre-Revolutionary war cannons that were found in the Detroit River recently.

That's all just part of what you will find at the festival, which runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, February 25. For more information, go to www.shipwreckfestival.org

WXYZ

 

International Bridge 50th Anniversary celebration events announced

2/25 - Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. – At its quarterly meeting Friday, the Sault Ste. Marie Bridge Authority (SSMBA) Board of Directors gave the final nod to the 50th Anniversary community celebration plan presented by the International Bridge Administration (IBA). The theme of the celebration is "Celebrating International Friendship."

"The celebration events, festivities, and initiatives that are planned were developed with our bi-national community in mind," said IBA General Manager Phil Becker. "The goal of the plan is to commemorate what the bridge has meant to citizens in our twin cities, the province of Ontario, the state of Michigan, and our two great nations over the last 50 years."

The list of initiatives and public events scheduled includes:
• A 50th anniversary decorative bridge lighting celebration and fireworks planned for Thursday, June 28.
• The 26th Annual International Bridge Walk on Saturday, June 30, which will include a bike parade across the bridge and back that is being organized in a joint effort by the bike clubs of Sault, Ontario, and Sault, Michigan.
• A "Crossing Conversations" website where citizens are invited to post historical photos and share personal stories of their own experiences with the bridge and the predecessor ferry boat. The site will go live in June.
• A traveling historical display and historical photo presentation that will make its way around the twin cities for public viewing from June through October.
• The 50th Anniversary celebration on Wednesday, October 31, which is the official date the bridge opened to traffic in 1962. The event will include commemorative gifts for bridge users and a 50th Anniversary plaque unveiling.

 

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.

 

New York amends ballast water rules; shipping industry praises extension

2/24 - Washington, D.C. - The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYDEC) has modified its ballast water discharge permit and extended the deadline by which ship owners have to comply with state rules. Wednesday’s action effectively eliminates onerous ballast water treatment requirements through the end of 2013. The agency’s ballast water regulations are the most stringent in North America and have been the topic of considerable controversy.

"New York's decision effectively eliminates the unworkable ballast water rules put in place during the Paterson Administration. We applaud Governor Cuomo for protecting jobs and supporting the thousands of Americans who make their living in the maritime industry," said Steve Fisher, Executive Director of the American Great Lakes Ports Association.

In December 2008, the NYDEC issued state regulations governing the discharge of ballast water from commercial vessels operating in New York’s jurisdiction. The regulations sought to address the problem of aquatic nuisance species being introduced into New York waters via ships ballast water. The regulations were promulgated under authority granted to the state by the federal Clean Water Act.

Under those rules, by August 1, 2013, all vessels operating in New York waters will be required to install environmental technology that can clean or treat ballast water to meet a water quality standard 100 times stronger than standards established by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in 2004. No technology exists to meet that requirement. By January 2013, any vessels constructed after that date must install environmental technology that can treat ballast water to a level 1000 times stronger than the IMO. No technology exists to meet that requirement.

The maritime industry has argued that the regulations are unworkable and, if left unchanged, will result in economic harm to New York ports and maritime commerce traveling through New York waters on the St. Lawrence River destined for ports in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Ontario and Quebec.

A recent economic impact analysis estimated that implementation of New York’s ballast discharge regulations would negatively affect over 72,000 jobs, more than $10 million in business revenue and over $1.4 million in federal, state/local and provincial taxes in the bi-national Great Lakes-St. Lawrence region.

Because of these impacts, the U.S. and Canadian federal governments as well as the governments of several neighboring states and provinces have encouraged the State of New York to moderate its position and harmonize its ballast water discharge rules with federal and international standards.

The shipping industry is committed to taking steps to minimize and eventually eliminate the movement of organisms via ballast water.

Today, vessels entering the Great Lakes region undergo the most stringent ballast management and inspection regulations in the world. All vessels entering the Great Lakes from abroad are required to exchange (pump out) their ballast water while still at sea and flush any empty tanks with ocean water. This two-pronged procedure helps to physically remove organisms from ballast tanks.

To ensure compliance, the U.S. and Canadian governments stop, board, inspect, and test every foreign ship entering the Great Lakes in Montreal the gateway to the St. Lawrence Seaway. Since these protections were put in place in 2006, there have been no new discoveries of aquatic nuisance species in the Great Lakes.

The extended deadline awill allow time for NYDEC to work with affected stakeholders and craft permit requirements that are feasible, practicable and harmonized with federal law. Both the U.S. EPA and the U.S. Coast Guard are currently promulgating federal ballast water discharge regulations.

The Great Lakes maritime industry looks forward to working with the NYDEC over the next year in crafting feasible ballast water regulations that continue to protect the Great Lakes environment, said Fisher.

Marine Delivers

 

Port Reports -  February 24

Goderich, Ont. - Dale Baechler
Algomarine backed in the channel with little trouble Wednesday afternoon. There is some light ice conditions in the inner harbor and channel, but none beyond the breakwalls. She was at the Sifto Salt dock at 5 p.m. and loading.

 

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

 

Warm weather extends shipping season in Goderich

2/23 - Goderich, Ont. – The lake freighter Algomarine was in Goderich port recently to take on a load of salt. Warm weather and clear lakes have extended the shipping season and the mine is getting back to near pre-tornado production levels. Many of the storage buildings damaged in the storm (last August) have been undergoing repair over the past several months.

Freighters continue to load with road salt throughout the winter for destinations around the Great Lakes. Repairs to storage facilities and other buildings continue at both the mine and evaporator plant and the company expects to be at 100 percent of pre-tornado capabilities by July 1. Lake freighters have been loading throughout January and February as the company is taking the opportunity to catch up from the production deficit experienced following the Aug. 21, 2011 tornado.

There was considerable damage to the structures above ground at the mine site and repairs to storage facilities have been ongoing. The mine was able to resume loading freighters within days of the tornado, using a system of portable conveyors that are still in operation today. The company’s loading system was damaged in the tornado and operator Normand Laberge was killed in the weather event.

The operation sustained about $17 million in damage and lost production from the event. Crews are still making repairs to structures at the mine facility on North Harbour Road and the Evaporator Plant on Regent Street but production has resumed to near pre-tornado levels.

“At the mine, we have 455 people working and we have another 84 at the plant,” Compass Minerals Communication Manager Kelly Barton said. “There is no one on layoff. We did recently hire two more people at the mine and are looking to hire 32 more. We are looking for 24 production miners and eight skilled tradespersons.”

Repairs continue at both Sifto locations and Barton said the company expects to be at 100 per cent of its pre-tornado capabilities by July 1 at both the mine and evaporator plant.

“At the mine we are still loading ships and the miler-than-normal weather is giving us a bigger window to produce slat at the mine, which is giving us the opportunity to catch up from the production deficit we had following the tornado.”

Goderich Signal-Star

 

Maid of the Mist out after 165 years

2/23 - Niagara Falls, Ont. – After more than a century of operating its famous Niagara Falls boat tours in Canada, Maid of the Mist's time is up. Hornblower Canada will replace Maid of the Mist as the boat-tour operator at the base of the falls, the Niagara Parks Commission announced Wednesday.

Hornblower, whose American parent operation runs boat tours to the Statue of Liberty in New York and Alcatraz in San Francisco, was selected for a 30-year lease worth more than $500 million.

"This marks the beginning of a new era for all of us and it continues to build on what Niagara, and what Niagara Parks, is all about," said parks commission chairwoman Janice Thomson. Thomson, along with an independent procurement adviser and fairness commissioner, said the process to pick a company to run boat tours was fair and impartial.

The announcement settled questions about the future of the Maid of the Mist Steamboat Co., which has provided tours from the Canadian side of the river since 1846.

Since 2009, the parks commission has been going through a competitive bidding process after there were complaints from private-sector companies when the it tried to extend its contract with the Maid of the Mist without a tender.

Thomson said six bids were received — three from Canadian firms and three from American companies.

Hornblower's plan "excels" the current operation when it comes to "marketing its vision for an extended service with more family-oriented activities, (and) fully accessible access to the boats,” she said. She Hornblower will initially invest more than $16 million to upgrade passenger facilities and construct new tour boats. The new service is expected to start in spring 2014.

Maid of the Mist, which has a month-to-month lease, can continue operating for the 2012 and 2013 season.

The deal does not affect the American Maid of the Mist Co., which operates the boats on the other side of the falls.

"This process that we were dealing with deals strictly with the operation on the Canadian side, and we are dealing with the lease of that Canadian land to the operator. We have no involvement at all with what happens on the other side,” said Thompson.

Under the lease with Hornblower, the parks commission will receive a guaranteed payment of more than $60 million during the first five years. But revenue was not the only factor, or even the most important one, in the decision to go with Hornblower, said Thomson.

"We also looked at what the proponents planned to do to enhance the experience of visitors to the park. We reviewed the proposed pricing structure to ensure that the experience remained affordable and accessible to families who are visiting Niagara Falls,” she said.

“We looked at how this signature attraction was going to be promoted to bring more visitors into the parks to experience the wonder of Niagara Falls."

Bill Mocsan, who was hired by the province to oversee the procurement process, said it was "probably the most thorough, detailed procurement I've ever seen, or I've ever been involved in.

"I think the bid that was submitted by Hornblower was the best bid," he said. "It was thorough. It was innovative. Not the appearance of it, so much as the content."

MPP Kim Craitor said he is ecstatic with how the process unfolded, and is impressed by the projected revenue figures. "I always thought, how do you sign a 30-year lease without going through (a request for proposal) process first?" he said. "I pushed for this process to happen, as did others, and in a way I feel vindicated."

Welland Tribune

 

Buffalo's ice boom breaks again; wind, waves blamed

2/23 - Buffalo, N.Y. — The floating barrier that keeps large chunks of Lake Erie ice from entering the Niagara River at Buffalo has broken several times this winter, but ice isn't the culprit. Since the lake hasn't frozen over, the ice boom — a 1.7-mile-long steel pontoon barrier — has been vulnerable to wave and wind damage. Officials with the Corps of Engineers in Buffalo tell WIVB-TV that the boom recently broke for the fourth time this year.

The ice boom is owned and operated by New York and Canadian power authorities. The boom keeps ice chunks from flowing down the Niagara River and clogging hydropower intake equipment. The boom usually isn't removed until the spring, but officials say the mild conditions could result in the barrier being taken out earlier than it ever has before.

WIVB-TV

 

US Fish & Wildlife looking for Chief Engineer

2/23 - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Alpena Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office, is currently seeking to fill the Chief Engineer position aboard the M/V Spencer F. Baird. The M/V Baird is Region 3's stocking and assessment vessel operating in lakes Michigan, Huron, and Superior. This vessel is a state-of-the-art research vessel christened in 2006 to fulfill the service's mission to protect, restore and enhance native species in the upper Great Lakes.

A typical field season for the vessel begins in April and continues through mid-November. While away from its home port of Cheboygan, Mich., the vessel provides all the amenities necessary to make life comfortable while at sea.

The position being advertised is a Full Time (Excepted Service Permanent) position. The announcement can be viewed at this link

 

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 backwaters 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.

 

Environmentalists threaten lawsuit over Great Lakes, U.S. waters ballast rule

2/22 - Traverse City, Mich. — Environmental groups said Tuesday they might file another lawsuit in their long-running battle with the federal government over ballast water discharges from cargo ships blamed for spreading invasive species in the Great Lakes and other U.S. waters.

Representatives of five organizations issued the warning on the final day of a public comment period on a regulation the Environmental Protection Agency proposed last fall. It would require commercial vessels to install technology strong enough to kill at least some of the fish, mussels and even microorganisms such as viruses that lurk in ballast water before it's dumped into harbors after ships arrive in port. Ballast water helps keep ships upright in rough seas.

The rule is based on standards recommended by the International Maritime Organization that the shipping industry says are achievable. Environmentalists say they are inadequate. They contend water cleanliness standards 100 to 1,000 times as strong are needed to prevent more attacks by invaders such as zebra and quagga mussels, which have seriously damaged Great Lakes ecosystems and cost an estimated $200 million a year for damage repairs and control measures.

“Invasive species are living pollution,” said Thom Cmar, an attorney with the National Resources Defense Council. “If they can find each other and breed and multiply after they are dumped into a lake or coastal area, then it doesn't matter how few organisms were put there by the vessels in the first place.”

Some states have their own ballast water requirements. In New York, rules scheduled to take effect in 2013 would set live-organism limits 100 times stronger than the international ones, while California is phasing in standards 1,000 times tougher.

Shipping groups say technology to meet those standards doesn't exist. A report issued last year by EPA's Science Advisory Board agreed. The industry contends if New York proceeds with its rule, international shipping will grind to a halt in the Great Lakes region because vessels must go through New York waters to reach the lakes.

The American Great Lakes Ports Association, which represents public port authorities on the U.S. side of the lakes, supports EPA's proposal but believes shipping companies should get more time to install ballast treatment equipment than the rule would allow, Executive Director Steve Fisher said. Environmentalists say the timeline is already too lenient.

“You can only ask the shipping companies to do what is possible,” Fisher said. “The longer we keep debating what these rules are going to be, the longer no one does anything. We've gotten to the point where we're making the perfect the enemy of the good.”

Environmentalists say the same methods used to treat municipal drinking water, such as chlorination, filtration and heat, could achieve the results they want.

They have sued the EPA three times to force action on the ballast water issue and may do so again if the agency adopts its rule as proposed, Cmar said.

The EPA is scheduled to make a final decision by November. The agency did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Duluth News Tribune

 

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.

 

Shallow-draft harbor dredging picture bleak

2/21 - Pentwater, Mich. – A bleak picture of present and future shallow-draft harbor dredging and maintenance was painted by the director of the Great Lakes Small Harbor Coalition during a presentation last Thursday in Pentwater.

The program, organized by the Pentwater Service Club, featured Chuck May, director of the Great Lakes Small Harbor Coalition; Gabe Schneider of Senator Carl Levin’s office; Brandon Fewins of Senator Debbie Stabenow’s office and Greg VanWoerkom, of Congressman Bill Huizenga’s office.

May said funding for harbor maintenance is a crisis in the making and has been on an IV drip for years. “The valve on the drip has been cut off,” May said. “The voice of the citizens has got to be heard.”

May said he got involved in establishing the coalition after the 40-foot sailing yacht Barracuda hit a sandbar and was lost while entering Portage Lake in 2007. He said he began contacting other communities to see what interest there would be in forming a coalition and learned most other communities had the same problem with shallow harbors. He pointed out Pentwater was the first village to adopt a resolution of support and now the coalition has 110 supportive resolutions representing 4 million people.

Prior to 2008, the federal government earmarked money for maintenance, but that has changed. May said it was recognized at that time that earmarks were not going to last. “The forecast doesn’t look better, it looks worse,” May said.

May said Obama’s budget prioritizes money only for commercial harbors which ship more than 1 million tons annually.

Michigan has 32 low-use commercial harbors and 79 shallow-draft harbors, which do not qualify for any funding, May said. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has identified 75 Great Lakes harbors nationwide that need dredging with 33 of those in Michigan.

“It’s not a Pentwater issue. It’s not Michigan issue, it’s across the board,” May said.

According to May, cost to maintain shallow-draft and low-use commercial harbors is $10 million each per year and that work wouldn’t return the harbors to their authorized depths and widths. The bigger issue, May said, is that many of the federally controlled harbors are in need of infrastructure improvements and that work would cost an additional $20 million per year.

To pay for the work, the coalition wants the federal government to use money collected through the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund, which is estimated to have $7 billion by the end of this year. May said about half the money collected through shipping fees is used for harbor maintenance and the other half goes into the federal government’s pocket for other purposes. He said it’s his opinion that the Obama administration and the higher-ups within the Army Corps of Engineers view the Great Lakes as not important.

“It can’t be money because half the money is not being spent,” May said.

Even if the money is opened up, May said fair allocation of the funds would still be an issue for harbors nationwide.

For this coming year, May said he thinks Leland harbor will become the poster child for the need for shallow draft harbor maintenance as huge amounts of money are invested, but people won’t be able to get through the harbor. “Sailboats are going to be a big issue this year,” May said.

May is scheduled to make a presentation in Washington, D.C., in a few weeks and another in Lansing in March. He’s hoping harbor maintenance issues can be resolved at the federal level and not trickle down to the state or local levels.

The congressional representatives said there are bills in both sides of Congress that would restore harbor maintenance money. Fewins said Senate Bill 412 would direct that Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund money be spent solely on its intended purposes and not have half of it spent for other purposes. Fewins said the current budget has $40 million appropriated for Great Lakes harbor dredging, but the government also needs to look at maritime structures as most were built before World War I with a 50-year life expectancy. According to Fewins, 80 percent of those structures have exceeded that lifespan. He said efforts have been made to try and regionalize harbor dredging projects to reduce costs of mobilization by harbor maintenance contractors.

VanWoerkom said the U.S. House is working on a new transportation bill and efforts are being made to include some Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund money in that bill known as the RAMP Act (Realize America’s Maritime Promise) for harbor dredging.

Ludington Daily News

 

Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal named to National Register of Historic Places

2/21 - Chicago, Ill. – The Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, which connected the Great Lakes to the Mississippi River and made it possible to reverse the flow of the Chicago River, has been named to the National Register of Historic Places, state officials announced Friday.

The newly defined historic district wends through portions of Cook, DuPage and Will counties and includes dams, locks, control stations and spillways, according to David Blanchette, spokesman for the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency.

"It was a trend-setting construction project," Blanchette said. "But it was also a very forward-thinking project that combined ship access and sanitation."

The U.S. National Park Service on Jan. 20 approved the state's recommendation to place the canal in the register. The measure buttresses protections in place from the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, which already had deemed the canal a historic resource. Significant changes to the system have to be reviewed by that agency under state law, Blanchette said.

Completed in the first decade of the 1900s, the canal was the largest public works project ever undertaken at the time and various equipment and techniques used in its construction were later used in other large projects, such as the Panama Canal, according to the agency.

But it was not without controversy. Waste that had previously gone into Lake Michigan instead flowed down the Des Plaines, Illinois and Mississippi rivers past other towns and cities. By digging a 28-mile canal between the Chicago and Des Plaines rivers, engineers also breached the natural barrier between the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, creating an avenue for invasive species to move between different watersheds.

In recent years, a group of Great Lakes states has been trying to have Chicago-area shipping locks closed to stop Asian carp from entering Lake Michigan. A report last month by a coalition of Great Lakes states and cities also explored strategies for installing permanent barriers in the Chicago waterway system that would re-reverse the flow of the Chicago River.

Chicago Tribune

 

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.

 

Port Reports -  February 20

Goderich, Ont. – Dale Baechler
Capt. Henry Jackman arrived back from Lake Michigan early Sunday morning to load at Sifto Salt.

Erie, Pa. – Jeffrey Benson
The hydraulic lift arm and cables have been installed on the boom of the Lakes Contender. It appears that the belt has been installed on the unloading boom. Other work continues at Donjon. Manitowoc is being sandblasted and painted in the graving dock. The barge Cleveland Rocks is behind her.

Halifax, N.S. – Mac Mackay
Atlantic Superior is almost ready to come out of the floating drydock. She has been repainted (still red) and still flagged Canadian. Salarium arrives Monday, and it looks like she will be next for the drydock. Ambassador was loading gypsum Sunday. This is her second trip this month.

 

Ballast Water Working Group releases ballast water management report

2/20 - Cleveland, Ohio – The Great Lakes Ballast Water Working Group (BWWG) released Friday its 2011 Summary of Great Lakes Seaway Ballast Water Management report.

Click here to view or download the 2011 summary report.

The BWWG is comprised of representatives of the U. S. Coast Guard, Transport Canada – Marine Safety, the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation, and the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation.

Preventing the introduction of aquatic invasive species into the Great Lakes through stricter ballast water standards and a comprehensive enforcement policy is a top priority for all the members of this working group.

In 2011, 100% of ships bound for the Great Lakes via the St. Lawrence Seaway from outside the Exclusive Economic Zone received a ballast tank exam. A total of 7,203 ballast tanks during 396 vessel transits were assessed. Vessels that did not exchange their ballast water or flush their ballast tanks were required to either retain the ballast water and residuals on board, treat the ballast water in an environmentally sound and approved manner, or return to sea to conduct a ballast water exchange.

This is the second consecutive year that agencies that comprise the BWWG ensured the examination of 100% of ballast tanks entering the Great Lakes via the St. Lawrence Seaway. In February 2011, the BWWG released its 2010 summary report. Click here to learn more.

The BWWG anticipates continued high ship compliance rates for the 2012 navigation season.

 

Updates -  February 20

Weekly Website Updates
News Photo Gallery
New Video on our YouTube Channel
New feature on the USCG Mackinaw Almost 10 years ago the BoatNerd staff rode along capturing pictures and video for a feature in Great Laker Magazine. This expanded web feature offers 10 pages of Photo Galleries and almost 2 hours of video documenting the original USCG Icebreaker Mackinaw.

 

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.

 

Port Reports -  February 19

Goderich, Ont. - Dale Baechler
Algomarine arrived late Friday evening and was loading at the Sifto Salt dock.

 

Seaway Salties report from February Marine News

2/19 - Marine News, the monthly journal of the World Ship Society, reports the following Seaway Salties going for scrap in the February 2012 issue.

The Ekram-M, built in 1980, first came to the Great Lakes as O Sole Mio in 1984. It was renamed Mount Etna on the lakes in November 1985, and returned inland as Luckyman in 1987. The ship arrived at Alang, India, for dismantling on December 17, 2011. Luckyman took steel from the dismantled Chicago Tribune, Fuel Marketer and Merle M. McCurdy from Port Colborne to the Far East in 1989.

Flora S., a Freedom II Class cargo carrier, was built in 1980 as Ghikas and came through the Seaway for the first time in 1982. Renamed Flora S. in 2001, the ship arrived at Alang, India, and was beached for scrapping on December 16, 2011.

Jing Yuan Men was built as Vincenzia in 1978 and came inland for the first time in 1986. The Greek freighter was sold, renamed MC Jade and registered in the Bahamas in 1989. It was under its fourth name when it arrived at Alang, India, for scrapping on December 15, 2011.

Kalipso was built as Cecilia Smits in 1982 and came inland that first year. It returned as Cecilia I in 1987. The ship was under the sixth name of Kalipso when it arrived at Aliaga,, Turkey, for scrapping on December 14, 2011.

Kalitihi Sea was built at Varna, Bulgaria, in 1986 as Boris Livanov and came through the Seaway for the first time in 1998. Renamed in 2009, the ship arrived at Alang for scrapping on December 11, 2011.

Keunsul was a chemical products tanker that dated from 1985 and was originally Tomoe 95. It was renamed in 1986 and first came through the Seaway in 1988 as Sakura Cob. The ship had 3 additional names. The vessel arrived at Jingjiang, China, for dismantling on June 6, 2011.

Michalis K. was a first time Seaway traveller as Anthos in 1984 under the flag of Greece. It arrived at Alang, India, on December 7, 2011, and was beached for scrapping on December 14.

Mig Concord fist came through the Seaway as Baltic Skou in 1978 and returned as Berdyansk in 2005. It was registered in Georgia as Mig Concord in 2010 and arrived at Alang, India, on December 22, 2011.

Milin Kamak was another Bulgarian built freighter. It was completed in August 1979 and came through the Seaway that year. It returned as recently as 2004. The ship arrived at Jingjiang, China, on July 11, 2011, for scrapping.

The Pakistani freighter Multan was only a year old when it first came to the Great Lakes in 1981. It arrived at Gadani Beach, Pakistan, for scrapping on December 2, 2011.

Noble Success was the 8th name for the former Ho Ming No. 5 which first came through the Seaway in 1984. This well travelled freighter reached the beach at Alang, India, for dismantling on December 17, 2011.

Perla II came to the Great Lakes as Sunarawak, on charter to Saguenay Shipping, in 1979 and was back as Anangel Apollo in 1989. Perla II was the fourth name and the vessel was undergoing demolition at Brownsville, TX in December 2011.

Vindemia, a small tanker, came through the Seaway in 2006 and again in 2007. It arrived at Aliaga, Turkey, on June 9, 2011, for scrapping.

Ziemia Chelminska was a year old when it appeared on the Great Lakes in 1985 and was a frequent Seaway trader for Polsteam through 2005. It arrived at Alang, India, on November 24, 2011, and was beached November 30.

In addition, this issue reports that the tug American Pride, formerly on the Great Lakes as Galway Bay, Oregon and Gull, was scrapped at Philadelphia beginning in October 2011.

The carferry Arthur K. Atkinson arrived at Sault Ste. Marie under tow for scrapping on December 21, 2011.

We acknowledge the annual publication Seaway Salties, compiled by Rene Beauchamp, as an excellent resource and it has provided us with the years that the above ships first came to the Great Lakes.

Barry Andersen, Skip Gillham

 

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.

 

Salvagers postpone trip to check out ship stranded off Nova Scotia

2/18 - Halifax, N.S. - The Nova Scotia government says salvagers who were to examine the wreck of a bulk carrier on Scaterie Island have postponed their trip.

Dan Davis, a spokesman for the Natural Resources Department, says the companies were expected to visit the site next Thursday to determine how best to remove the former Canadian Miner. But Davis says the salvagers have cancelled to attend to other business.

The 230-metre long ship ran aground in a protected provincial wilderness area last September while being towed from Montreal to Turkey, where it was to be scrapped. Davis says the companies have committed to get back to the province early next week to set a new date.

The provincial government has said it must approve the salvage plan before the vessel can be removed.

The Canadian Press

 

Just five percent ice on the Great Lakes

2/18 - With temperatures this winter averaging a little over five degrees warmer than average, there is only about 5 percent ice cover on the Great Lakes. This is the lowest amount of ice on the lakes since 2001-02. This comes after two of the last three winters had above average ice cover.

In contrast, the last time the Great Lakes were over 95 percent frozen over was 1979. This was after three back-to-back-to-back cold and snowy winters from 1976-79.

Water levels in the Great Lakes could continue to get lower this spring after little snow and ice cover this winter. Those changes could affect the upcoming shipping season.

"We do get a lot of evaporation when the cold fronts come through; the cold dry arctic sir that comes over the lake and evaporates the water and that contributes to lower lake levels in the winter," Rick Hluchan from the National Weather Service said.

With lower lake levels, shippers in the Great Lakes may have to make some changes.

According to Adele Yorde from the Duluth Seaway Port Authority, if any parts of the Great Lakes shipping area have lower levels than normal, ships may have to start "light loading." That means crews may have to carry less cargo to ensure they do not bottom out through channels or rivers, as they may with regular-sized loads.

According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Lake Superior's water levels have been recorded as a foot below average for the past two years.

Wood TV and Fox 21

 

Government investing in the Port of Sept-Îles

2/18 - Sept Iles, QC – The Honourable Denis Lebel, Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, along with the Honourable Peter Penashue, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, announced that the federal government will make investments to modernize the Port of Sept-Îles.

"The Government of Canada sees Quebec's ports as a gateway to global markets," said Minister Lebel. "The Port of Sept-Îles is a strategic port for Canada and an important component of Quebec's maritime system supporting trade, and its development will lead to jobs in the region, northern Quebec and Labrador."

"The benefits this new project will bring to the iron ore industry in the region will strengthen the economy for Labrador and Quebec, and will encourage growth for many years to come," added Minister Penashue.

"Today's announcement is the culmination of all the effort and work of the past few years on the part of the port and its private partners to build this strategic infrastructure for Eastern Canada. The new multi-user dock will have multiple important effects, as it will ensure the start-up of major new iron ore mines in Quebec and Labrador, the expected impacts of which will be key, with nearly 3,000 new jobs and more than $10 billion in investments," said Pierre D. Gagnon, president and chief executive officer of the Port of Sept-Îles, and Carol Soucy, chairman of the port's board of directors.

The ministers announced today that the Government of Canada will invest up to $55 million and will contribute to the construction of a new multi-user deep water dock at the Port of Sept-Îles equipped with two ship loaders, as well as two conveyor lines. This investment will help the port meet global shipping standards for the iron ore industry, which is the largest commodity shipped through the port to overseas markets. It will also boost the effectiveness and capacity of port operations. The Port of Sept-Îles is an important part of Canada's Continental Gateway system.

Canada's Continental Gateway is the nation's busiest trade corridor, carrying over 74 per cent of Canada's international trade via road, rail, air and marine modes. Since 2007, the federal government has committed over $2 billion to transportation infrastructure improvements in Quebec to enhance Canada's international trade. These investments facilitate trade links with North American and global markets.

 

Dennis Hale to speak Sunday in Grosse Pointe Farms

2/18 - On Nov. 29, 1966, the 603-foot SS Daniel J. Morrell foundered on Lake Huron north of Pointe Aux Barques during a storm that stirred winds greater than 70 m.p.h. and waves taller than 20 feet.

Of the 29 crew members, only one -- 26-year-old watchman Dennis Hale -- survived. Wearing boxer shorts, a pea coat and a life jacket and surrounded by the bodies of three crew mates, he was found on a life raft by a Coast Guard helicopter nearly 40 hours after the wreck.

"For more than 25 years, Dennis struggled and couldn't understand why he was the only person who survived the wreck," says Capt. Rick Scott, a member of the International ShipMasters' Association, Detroit Lodge No. 7. "Family members of his crew mates would ask why he lived when their loved ones died. It was a horrible experience for him, and eventually he decided that perhaps it was a spiritual thing and that he was selected by God to tell the story and perhaps help people by doing so."

Some years later, Hale, who lives in Ashtabula, Ohio, wrote "Shipwrecked -- Reflections of the Sole Survivor." He'll talk about the self-published book and his experiences during a program at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Grosse Pointe War Memorial, 32 Lake Shore Drive, Grosse Pointe Farms. Books and hats will be available for purchase. Call Scott at 586-876-2316. $10 in advance, $12 at the door.

Detroit Free Press

 

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.

 

Saginaw River to receive additional federal funds for dredging

2/17 - Saginaw, Mich. - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is allocating additional funding to Great Lakes dredging projects that support economic development and job creation.

“This funding will help keep Michigan harbors open that were threatened with closure, supporting economic development and job creation,” Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., said. “I will continue to press for fairness and work to secure funding for additional dredging and maintenance needs, but today’s announcement is a good start.”

The Corps authorized a total of $2,639,000 for dredging and maintenance work on the Saginaw River.

Midland Daily News

 

Port Reports -  February 17

Straits of Mackinac – Fred Stone
Algoma Central's Capt. Henry Jackman was westbound from Goderich to Milwaukee with salt, following the USCG Hollyhock through the ice west of the passage and into Lake Michigan.

 

Boatload of Lake Michigan history for sale by DNR

2/17 - Are you interested in three-quarters of a century of plying the waters of Lake Michigan? The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has just the vessel for you.

The state is selling the Barney Devine, a 50-foot, 37-ton steel-hulled boat, built in 1937 and used by the DNR since 1940 on Lake Michigan, first in enforcing commercial fishing rules and then as a research vessel. The boat is listed online at www.govdeals.com, a government equipment auction site.

The auction for the Barney Devine ends Feb. 28; current bid for the boat is $35,000.

"The Barney Devine has been a stalwart, seaworthy and dependable ship working on Lake Michigan on behalf of the citizens of Wisconsin for more than seven decades," said Brad Eggold, DNR fisheries supervisor for southern Lake Michigan, in a DNR news release.

The craft was built by Burger Boat Co. in Manitowoc in 1937, orginally owned by commercial fisherman Ludlow White, who named it the Albert J. Three years later in 1940, the Wisconsin Conservation Department, predecessor of the DNR, bought the boat to use it for enforcement of commercial fishing laws. The boat was renamed in honor of Chief Conservation Warden Barney Devine, who died in December 1940.

Six months ago, the Barney Devine was retired when the DNR took delivery of a faster, more versatile research vessel, the Coregonus, named for the genus of fish common to Lake Michigan, including lake whitefish and lake herring. Coming full circle, the Coregonus was also built by Burger Boat.

The Cap

 

Marinette-built Navy USS Freedom hits choppy seas

2/17 - The U.S. Navy combat ship USS Freedom, built in Marinette, Wis., suffered another setback recently when it developed a leak off the coast of California and was forced to return to port. It was at least the fourth serious problem the ship has encountered since it was commissioned in Milwaukee in September 2008.

The latest problem occurred Feb. 1 when Freedom "suffered a failure of the port shaft mechanical seal," the Navy told the publication Defense News. Some flooding occurred, and the ship returned to its home port of San Diego.

During a heavy-weather ocean trial a year ago, sailors discovered a 6-inch horizontal hull crack below the waterline that forced them to return to port, avoiding heavy seas. The leak originated in a weld seam between two steel plates.

In September 2010, one of Freedom's gas turbines quit working - requiring the Navy to cut short an offshore exercise. That turbine, made by Rolls-Royce, was replaced.

In May 2010, the ship had problems with its water-jet propulsion system that had to be repaired in San Diego.

Freedom is the first of a new class of combat ships designed for duty in coastal waters. The program has had some difficulties, including cost overruns for Freedom. Last summer, U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) asked about problems with the littoral combat ship program in Marinette and Mobile, Ala.

"I strongly urge the Navy to immediately conduct a formal review of the entire LCS program, provide an assessment of the technical design flaws of the current fleet, and determine the best way forward to include the possibility of rebidding this contract," Hunter said in a letter to Navy Secretary Ray Mabus.

The Navy said Freedom experienced minor flooding in the most recent incident off the California coast. But the details are unknown as four Navy public information officers familiar with Freedom and the LCS program did not return phone calls.

The cause of the seal-shaft leak is still under analysis, said Dana Casey, spokeswoman for Lockheed Martin Corp., which has partnered with Marinette Marine to build the ships costing about $550 million each.

It's not unusual for a new ship, the first of its kind, to have some initial problems, said Marinette Marine President and CEO Charles Goddard.

"These are complex vessels that are designed and built by man. So some of these issues are things you come to expect, and it's a matter of how you deal with them to make sure you don't repeat the issues on following ships," Goddard said.

The Navy wants to buy 55 of the high-speed warships over 15 years. Thus far, Lockheed Martin says, the Navy has been satisfied with Freedom's performance.

For the initial 20 ships, the work has been divided between Marinette Marine and Austal USA in Mobile, Ala. It has created an economic boom in northern Wisconsin and southern Alabama, where thousands of people are employed in the shipyards and area businesses that have benefited from the supply contracts and payroll dollars.

Marinette has nearly completed its second littoral combat ship, the USS Fort Worth, that's scheduled to be commissioned in September in Galveston, Texas.

Construction of another ship, the USS Milwaukee, is well under way in Marinette. The Navy understands there will be some problems with a new ship design, but it doesn't have infinite patience, said James Hasik, a defense industry consultant in Austin, Texas.

Marinette could be at risk of losing the work if significant problems continue, according to Hasik.

"The Navy has a choice of where these ships are built and what design to use. I have talked to shipbuilders, besides folks in the program now, who have said they would consider building the LCS," Hasik said.

Decades ago, the Navy would buy one or two ships of a new design and would then wait a couple of years before ordering more. "The first ship was meant to be a demonstrator, to be sure they got it right," Hasik said. Some of those designs never made it to the next stage.

The Navy envisions a fleet of the speedy littoral combat ships that can operate in waters as shallow as 20 feet and reach speeds topping 46 mph. The 377-foot ships could be used to hunt submarines and pirates, and to support ground troops and launch unmanned aerial drones.

The ships are "almost tailor-made for fighting in the Persian Gulf, where they need to be able to get away from a swarm of speedboats and, later in the day, sweep for mines," Hasik said.

Friday, the Navy said it would name its next littoral combat ship after former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.). That ship will be built by Austal USA in Alabama.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

 

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.

 

Opening of the 2012 Navigation Season

2/16 - Montreal/ Lake Ontario sections of the Seaway and the Welland Canal all open on March 22 at 8 a.m. EDT. Vessel transits will be subject to weather and ice conditions. Restrictions may apply in some areas until lighted navigation aids have been installed. The Soo Locks will open March 25.

Allowable Draft
In the Montreal / Lake Ontario Section, the draft will be 26' 3" until the South Shore Canal is ice‐free or April 15, whichever occurs first. At that time if water levels are favorable the draft will be increased to 26' 6" for all vessels.

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 and between the upper entrance to Lock 7 and former Bridge 12 in the Welland Canal.

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. The Seaway also warns that there will be zero tolerance for ship's draft in excess of 26' 6".

St. Lawrence Seaway Authority

 

Tug Cleveland sold to McAllister Towing

2/16 - Laken Shipping's tug Cleveland has been sold to the New York based company McAllister Towing and will be renamed Patrice McAllister. She is expected to leave Toledo once the Seaway opens. As the Cleveland, she had been paired with the barge Cleveland Rocks.

Jake Kniola

 

Port Reports -  February 16

Goderich, Ont. - Dale Baechler
Algomarine departed the Sifto Salt dock Tuesday at 4:30 p.m., bound for Lake Michigan. Capt. Henry Jackman took her place on the dock and was loading by 7:30 p.m.

 

Soo Locks, St. Marys River to benefit from budget proposal

2/16 - Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. – Of the $64 million allocated in the budget proposal for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Detroit District, more than 40 percent of those funds have been specifically earmarked for the St. Marys River System including the Soo Locks.

Lynn Rose, speaking from the Detroit District, said the $26 million for the St. Marys River is primarily going toward routine maintenance of the Soo Locks, associated hydropower plant and the shipping channel. Dredging continues to be a major expense associated with keeping the large ships moving through the Soo Locks requiring annual upkeep to prevent the rivers currents from filling in the channel, according to Rose, and the budget proposal will continue in that vein. Additional Michigan projects include dredging in the Detroit River, and harbors at Grand Haven, Holland, Manistee and Muskegon.

As part of the overall $26 million proposal, Lynn explained, the Soo Locks will benefit from an additional $3.1 million specifically allocated for the procurement and construction of a new compressed air system.

According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Website, the existing compressed air system was installed in the 1970s to keep ice from forming at the gates. While the system, which is nearly 40-years old, does work, it is viewed as undersized with numerous dead ends that lead to decreased efficiency and reliability. The new system, once complete, is designed not only to meet current needs, but will also allow for future expansion.

Sault Ste. Marie Evening News

 

Muskegon, Grand Haven harbors have projects outlined in proposed budget

2/16 - West Michigan – The Muskegon and Grand Haven harbors would have projects completed as part of the preliminary 2013 budget for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as proposed by President Obama. Grand Haven’s harbor is set to be dredged and receive an extensive project to improve navigation. Muskegon’s commercial harbor would be dredged.

The proposal shows $1.36 million for the Grand Haven projects and $611,000 for the Muskegon work.

The 2013 budget for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers features almost $92 million for Great Lakes navigation projects in the Detroit, Buffalo and Chicago districts. Muskegon and Grand Haven are part of the Detroit District.

The Corps budget proposal includes $31 million for dredging of 15 commercial harbors and navigation channels, including projects in Muskegon, Grand Haven, Manistee, Holland, Detroit River and Saginaw River, along with others in Ohio, Wisconsin and Indiana. The 15 dredging projects would remove about 2.4 million cubic yards of material from the channels.

“The funding provided to Great Lakes navigation through the President’s fiscal year 2013 budget will allow our regional team to continue to deliver great dividends to the region and to the nation,” said Lt. Col. Mike Derosier, district engineer for the Detroit District. “Our budget will allow us to fund the highest-priority projects that provide the greatest return on investment and will assist the Corps in supporting the President’s priorities of jobs, a strengthened economy, environmental protection and enhancement, and improved resiliency and safety of infrastructure.”

Mlive

 

Historical society offers virtual tour of Lake Superior shipwrecks

2/16 - The Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society will offer a virtual tour of Whitefish Point’s shallow shipwrecks from the comfort of a Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. microbrewery.

The sands of Lake Superior’s Shipwreck Coast are constantly changing through nature’s forces of win and sea, and each year new wreck sites are revealed not far from shore in waters as shallow as six feet, says the historical society. Many of these wrecks are visible from small watercraft, such as kayaks and canoes.

Terry Begnoche, a technical diver and site manager of the Great Lakes Shipwreck Musieum, will deliver a “Shallow Shipwrecks of Whitefish Point” presentation at Soo Brewing Company, in Sault, Mich. on Monday at 7 p.m. Admission is free. This is the second event in the GLSHS’s Winter Maritime Speaker Series.

For more information visit www.shipwreckmuseum.com

Sault Star

 

No funds in federal budget to dredge Rochester harbor

2/16 - Rochester, N.Y. – The proposed federal budget has no money to dredge Rochester’s harbor, a circumstance that likely will worsen an existing impediment to navigation at the mouth of the Genesee River.

A private shipper that uses the already-clogged channel, and other harbor users, have been asked to pay for the dredging themselves.

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., who made an issue of overdue dredging in Rochester last spring, promised to step up a push for legislation that could free up money for the work.

The Obama administration’s budget for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, released Monday evening, includes $99 million for dredging Great Lakes harbors and channels. But Rochester is omitted from the list, as is the Irondequoit Bay Outlet.

Rochester’s harbor, which historically was cleared every two years to maintain an adequate depth for large vessels, hasn’t been dredged since 2009.

Corps of Engineers spokesman Bruce Sanders said the agency, like others in Washington, had to make difficult budget choices. “One of those tough choices in terms of the dredging program was to fund only those projects with the greatest return. Rochester as a ‘low-use harbor’ simply did not compete well enough on a national basis to make the cut,” he said.

The channel leading up the river to the port facility in Charlotte and to private docks farther south already is too shallow. The Corps aims to provide sufficient depth to accommodate a vessel whose hull extends 23 feet below the water line. A survey in October, however, found five feet of sediment had built up in the channel, Sanders said.

“Conditions will likely deteriorate (further) before the 2012 boating season,” Sanders said.

The lack of dredging, at present, could pose a problem for cruise ships, large pleasure craft and visiting research or military vessels. A Great Lakes tour ship refused to return here in 2010 after nearly running aground the year earlier, for instance.

But the big loser is Essroc Italcementi, a large cement company headquartered in Pennsylvania and the only commercial shipper that still uses the channel regularly. Its freighter, the Stephen B. Roman, carries dry cement from Picton, Ontario to a facility in Charlotte, and has had problems in the past with silt in the channel.

Sanders said the freighter needs 22 feet of clearance when fully loaded — four more feet than it currently has.

He said the company and other harbor users have been “exploring the potential for dredging the federal channel at non-federal expense.”

Dredging the Rochester harbor costs roughly $1 million, Sanders said. Essroc officials couldn’t be reached for comment. City of Rochester officials didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Schumer, meanwhile, said he’d press for passage of a bill to force the administration to release money from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund. He said last year that federal bureaucrats hold back money from that fund, supported by fees on shippers, in a maneuver meant to mask the size of the federal deficit.

Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

 

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.

 

Port Reports -  February 15

Toronto, Ont. - Charlie Gibbons
Tugs Vigilant 1 and Molly M. 1 shifted Quebecois from its winter berth into the Redpath Sugar slip Sunday. Work on changing the stack to Algoma colors is underway.

 

Obama seeks $31 million for Great Lakes dredging

2/15 - The President’s proposed budget for next year includes $31 million for dredging commercial harbors and navigation channels in the Great Lakes.

Shipping interests have called for stepped-up dredging to improve the safety of waterborne cargo transportation. Low water levels sometimes forces shippers to lighten their loads, which cuts into their profits.

Lt. Col. Mike Derosier is district engineer for the Corps' Detroit district. He said Monday the 15 projects that would be funded by Obama's budget would support a stronger economy, environmental protection and safer infrastructure.

Projects in Michigan would include dredging of the Detroit and Saginaw rivers and harbors in Grand Haven, Holland, Muskegon and Manistee. Other dredging would take place in Ohio, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Indiana.

The Associated Press

 

Winter’s cold hides Hamilton’s port activity

2/15 - Hamilton, Ont. – Winter may have frozen the flow of cargo into Hamilton’s harbor, but that doesn’t mean the port is silent. Eight ships are passing the winter here with each getting up to $1 million in repairs before heading back into the Great Lakes in the spring.

“Winter work on these ships is a big business,” said Ian Hamilton, vice-president of marketing and business development for the Hamilton Port Authority. “Everything may look dead here, but a lot of jobs are still being created.”

Hamilton said the winter repairs on a vessel can employ up to 20 people per ship and it’s expensive work.

“An average of $1 million per ship may be on the high side, but a number in the high six digits isn’t,” he said. “We have eight this year because there are only so many boats we can accommodate here.”

The vessels wintering in Hamilton include two of the oldest lakers still in active service — the Mississagi and Cuyahoga, both built in the United States in 1943 and both owned and operated by Port Dover-based Lower Lakes Towing.

At age 68, the vessels are elderly even by the standards of lakers which average 40 to 50 years of working life — a period about twice that of ocean-going ships that suffer corrosion from salt water.

Cuyahoga is the second-oldest Canadian registered ship plying the lakes. It was built by the American Ship Building Company in 1943 as the J. Burton Ayers and passed through several owners before being purchased in 1995 by Lower Lakes and renamed.

Mississagi was built the same year at Great Lakes Engineering Works in River Rouge, Mich., as the George A. Sloan. In 2001 it was acquired by Lower Lakes and renamed.

The Internet site boatnerd.com, dedicated to lake boat enthusiasts, says the oldest laker still is service is the St. Mary’s Challenger, built in 1906 and still plying the lakes with loads of cement. Until last December the second oldest ship on the lakes was the Maumee, built in 1929. It was towed to a scrap yard in Port Colborne just before Christmas

Hamilton Spectator

 

Great Lakes group asks Toledo for funds

2/15 - Toledo, Ohio – The city of Toledo is being asked to commit $850,000 toward the creation of a National Great Lakes Maritime Museum on the banks of the Maumee River, although officials are confident that money won’t actually be used.

Representatives for the Great Lakes Historical Society pitched their request to a council committee Monday, assuring members the pledge is merely a bureaucratic measure that would allow them to draw on a $6 million grant from the Ohio Cultural Facilities Commission to develop the site in East Toledo’s Marina District. The historical society needs the $850,000 commitment from the city to show it has up-front matching funds as required by the grant terms. However, the society plans to come up with the money itself through fund-raising, executive director Chris Gillcrist said.

“Any fears that the City of Toledo is going to be on the hook for cash are unfounded,” Mr. Gillcrist said. “All it does is satisfy the Ohio Cultural Facilities Commission that the local match has been secured.”

In the event that fund-raising is unsuccessful, the city of Toledo could reclaim the money from the sale of the historical society’s current museum building in Vermilion, Mr. Gillcrist said. The city of Vermilion has offered to buy that building for $1.65 million, he said.

Nevertheless, because the $850,000 would be secured from the city’s capital improvements fund, some infrastructure projects would have to be put on hold, commissioner of debt management David Shriner said. The city has not yet determined what projects would be affected, but street repairs would not be impacted, Mr. Shriner assured.

The Great Lakes Maritime Museum is expected to open in May 2013. It will have outdoor and interior exhibits on the history of the Great Lakes, including interactive pieces, original artifacts and a theatrical experience with lighting and sound effects, Mr. Gillcrist said. The freighter, the SS Col. James M. Schoonmaker, formerly the SS Willis B. Boyer, will be a showcase exhibit. Mr. Gillcrist said he expects the museum to draw at least 41,000 visitors a year, up from just a few thousand that currently visit the Vermilion location. That’s because the new museum will be more accessible and far larger, he explained.

“It’s going to be the finest museum of Great Lakes history anywhere,” Mr. Gillcrist enthused.

Council president Joe McNamara urged his colleagues to focus on the benefits to the area, insisting the city’s capital improvements dollars would be well protected. His colleague Rob Ludeman agreed council should support the effort.

“This is the connecting point that we’ve been looking for for a long time,” Mr. Ludeman said.

Toledo Blade

 

Warm winter extends season for Lake Superior ferry

2/15 - Bayfied, Wis. – Thanks to above-normal temperatures, the channel between Bayfield and Madeline Island was mostly open water as of last Friday afternoon. It’s not unprecedented, but it is unusual — though observers say the ice road season does seem to be getting shorter as years go by.

“People who have stayed here in the winter have always looked forward to the time the ice road opened … so you could come and go at any time. It just really opened up passage to the mainland when you could drive there whenever you want to,” said Burke Henry, a full-time resident of the island since 1996. Without the ice road, “there’s no way you can go over to the mainland for dinner unless you’re willing to spend the night on the mainland.”

There’s also a financial benefit: It’s free to drive the ice road but you have to pay for a ferry ride.

Henry has compiled a list of dates showing the last ferry run of the winter and first of the spring, dating back to 1965. It shows a general trend toward shorter gaps between the two — especially since 1998, the only year since 1965 when the boats kept operating all winter.

“Before 1998 … the freeze-up was pretty predictable. It would start getting cold in December, gradually just get colder and colder, January would be consistently cold, and around the first or second week of January we would be done, and then not start up again until late March or early April,” said Mike Radtke, marine operations manager for the Madeline Island Ferry Line. “That whole predictability has really gone away.”

That predictability was an annual transportation cycle from ferries, to wind sleds for a brief time as ice conditions changed, to the ice road — and then back again.

Radtke said this is the time of year when the ferry line usually does maintenance on its fleet. It’s not hugely disruptive to miss that down time, he said, and the boats are designed to operate in icy waters, but prolonged winter sailing “definitely increases our costs in fuel, labor, maintenance, etc., for a time of the year when our traffic is very small. Does it pay to be running this time of year? No. Is it an essential service for the island? Yes. We’re a private business providing a public service, an essential service, so that’s the challenge.”

On Thursday, the Island Queen, with Captain Joni Vaughan at the wheel, sliced through a field of broken ice on the 2½-mile run from Bayfield to Madeline Island, the rumble of the engine equaled by the clatter of the hull meeting thick plates of ice. Just to the north of the ferry route, on a solidifying portion of ice, evergreen trees marked the planned route of the ice road.

“It’s bittersweet,” Vaughan, a veteran of more than two decades with the ferry line, said of the longer season. “It is a bummer because there are fun things I would like to be doing now, but it’s nice to be able to work, and the conditions today … we were going across this morning at 6:15 with the full moon and moonlight reflecting off the ice and the snow, and on our next trip back, the sunrise is coming up (and) the orange and the pink are reflecting off the snow. So there are those little perks.”

On Friday, a shift in the wind had cleared the channel of most of the ice, Radtke reported. Some of those evergreen road markers had fallen into the water.

“The rhythm of life on the island has been disrupted. That was the rhythm — the ferries would shut down, and people would ride the wind sled for a week or two, then the road would come in, and there’d be all this excitement about the ice road. Then they’d shut the ice road … and there’d be excitement about the new ferry season,” said Radtke, who has worked for the ferry line for 23 years. “There was always sort of this closure of one season and the startup of another, and that’s kind of come to an end.”

Duluth News Tribune

 

Daniel J. Morrell survivor Dennis Hale to speak

2/15 - On Sunday, February 19, Shipmasters’ Detroit Lodge No. 7 will host an event featuring author Dennis Hale, sole survivor of the Daniel J. Morrell shipwreck. The program will begin at 2 p.m. at the Grosse Pointe War Memorial in Grosse Pointe Farms. This event is open to the public.

On the night of November 28-29, 1966, the Morrell encountered a gale on Lake Huron that generated winds up to 70 MPH and waves as high as 25 feet. At 2 a.m. on November 29, 26 miles northeast of Harbor Beach, Mich., the Morrell broke in two and sank. Of the 29-man crew, there was only one survivor, 26-year-old watchman Dennis Hale.

 Click here for more information

 

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.

 

Port Reports -  February 14

Milwaukee, Wis. - Herm Phillips
After unloading in South Chicago, the tug G.L. Ostrander and barge Integrity returned to Milwaukee late Sunday night and reentered layup.

Montreal, QC - Philip Nash
Algoma Mariner entered lay-up in Montreal at Section 27 on Sunday.

 

Shipping company invests $500 million in new ships

2/14 - Owen Sound, Ont. – Canada’s biggest Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway shipping company is on a $500-million shipbuilding binge to renew a significant number of its aging fleet. Algoma Central Corporation’s Greg Wight spoke about it this week to Georgian College marine school cadets and at the 122nd annual International Shipmasters Association conference in Owen Sound.

Wight, the company president and chief executive officer, said the long-term future of the industry had been far less certain only a few years ago.

“Nobody was re-investing in the industry -- if you were it was piecemeal on fixing older ships,” he said Saturday morning in an interview over coffee. “So once we made this announcement, and then CSL (Canada Steamship Lines) followed, everybody stood up and said `Yeah, there’s going to be an industry here in the future.”

The first Algoma ship will arrive in 2013 and each is projected to remain in service at least 30 to 40 years. Half Algoma’s employees will be retired in 10 years, so the new ships are also considered a recruitment tool.

The new ship hulls will glide through the water easier and will direct more water to the propeller. They’ll have slippery coatings, and notably rust resistance in the rust-prone ballast compartments. They’ll carry more cargo than the retiring ships.

They’ll be faster too, yet use smaller motors, use 45% less fuel and will create 40% less emissions than the current fleet average — necessary to meet tougher regulations over the next three years. Each vessel will require a crew of 19, three or four fewer than comparable Algoma ships today.

The start of renewal of the Algoma and CSL fleets also solidifies the employment of mariners and the position of Owen Sound’s Great Lakes International Marine Training Centre at Georgian College, Wight said.

The former Sault Ste. Marie auditor has been with the St. Catharine’s, Ont.-based company for 32 years. It won the local chamber of commerce’s Business of the Year Award last year. A tax change made possible Algoma’s investment, Wight said. “It was the difference between doing the project and not doing the project.”

The federal government announced in Oct. 2010 the elimination of a 25% duty, which allowed new ship construction in a non-NAFTA country, for which Algoma helped lobby.

The new Equinox ships were designed in Finland and being built in China now by Nantong Mingde Heavy Industry Co. Ltd.

In 2011 Algoma has announced it would order six new, freshly designed dry-bulk vessels among its fleet of 28 domestic freighters.

Two more were ordered for the Canadian Wheat Board, which is paying for them but which Algoma will operate. The Wheat Board, legislated out of its monopoly to on Western wheat and barley late last year, will still buy and sell with the help of those ships. Two other new Algoma ships of an off-the-shelf design were delivered in 2010 and 2011.

Wight said the company’s new investments are based on maintaining the steady, current demand for lake freighter service, not anticipated new demand.

“I think it would be very difficult to make a strong case that Great Lakes shipping is going to grow by a factor. We’re very confident our main commodities, other than moving coal for Ontario Power, which is virtually disappeared, will remain in the same ballpark.”

Canadian farmers will still sell their grain to the world, salt and iron ore will all continue to need lake transportation to move their commodities by lake, the least expensive way available, Wight said.

Wight said someone had questioned him at the Friday evening shipmasters’ dinner about having the ships built in China and not in Canada.

Though the longtime federal duty was designed to protect the local shipbuilding industry, no domestic shipyards were capable of filling the order, Wight said, and the shipbuilders’ association itself supported of the duty initiative “behind the scenes.”

Recent federal shipbuilding procurement announcements pledged billions of dollars of work to two Canadian shipbuilders, Wight noted.

But Great Lakes shipping’s future is not all clear sailing yet, Wight said. New ballast water treatment requirements could stop all traffic through the St. Lawrence Seaway and the Great Lakes. The regulations are aimed at stopping the introduction of invasive species, just like zebra mussels were years ago, into bodies of fresh water.

Vessels entering the St. Lawrence have been inspected since 2006 to help guard against such spread. And the International Maritime Organization introduced standardized regulations effective later this year that require ballast water treatment “to a certain standard,” Wight said.

Canada and the U.S. are signatories to this, which encompasses Great Lakes freighters, though invasive species have come from oceangoing vessels entering freshwater, Wight said.

But individual U.S. states can set their own standards and New York State’s is up to 1,000 times the IMO standard -- effectively requiring ballast treatment akin to distilled water, both if ballast is discharged or if the ship is just passing through, Wight said.“That, if it goes through, would essentially close the Seaway."

Owen Sound Sun Times

 

Michigan announces newest state park near Alpena

2/14 - Alpena, Mich. – Recreation officials say 4,200 acres of land along the shores of Lake Huron have become Michigan’s newest state park. Rockport State Park is north of Alpena and includes a deep-water protected harbor, 300-acre limestone quarry, sinkholes and a variety of vegetative cover. A boat launch facility is located at the harbor. The property had been managed as part of the state forest system before being transferred to the Parks and Recreation Division.

Soo Evening News

 

Video recounts repowering of the Paul R. Tregurtha

2/14 - Recorded on Jan. 5, Ken Westcar recounts the repowering of the Tregurtha at Bay Shipbuilding. Click here to view

 

Historic St. Clair Inn for sale

2/14 - St. Clair, Mich. – The St. Clair Inn is for sale. Joe Joachim of Premier Properties said the inn, waterfront and property across the street are priced at $3.5 million.

"It's exciting, it's nostalgic, it's something you're proud of and you want to see it be what it was again," he said.

The inn was opened in 1926 and has been a cornerstone in the community since. "What it needs is someone to come back in and give it a shine again," Joachim said. "It had some deferred maintenance; they have been putting money into it."

The property at 500 N. Riverside Ave. was bought by Firoz Lokhandwala in 2005.It was built through fundraising efforts by the St. Clair Rotary Club. It was one of the first hotels with air conditioning and to be built with poured concrete walls and floors. Joachim said the owner is looking to leave the area.

St. Clair Mayor Bill Cedar said sprucing up the inn would be a boost to the city. "I hope somebody comes along and puts some money into it and brings it back to the way it was," he said.

Along with its historic value, Cedar said it has potential to draw people into the area as it did during its early years. "It's right in downtown. It's a landmark for St. Clair; it's got a beautiful spot on the river there," he said.

The 78-room inn has been added to throughout the years. The Coach Room was added in 1962, and a riverside expansion took place in 1970 with the addition of the River Lounge. A north wing was added in 1984 to include modern guest rooms, meeting rooms and a banquet facility. In October 1994, the inn became a Michigan Historic Landmark. In 1995, it was added to the National Register of Historic Landmarks.

Port Huron Times Herald

 

Updates -  February 14

Weekly Website Updates
 

 

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.

 

Great Lakes ore trade up 24 percent in January

2/13 - Cleveland, Ohio – Shipments of iron ore on the Great Lakes totaled 3,587,016 net tons in January, an increase of 24 percent over a year ago, and 57 percent ahead of the month’s 5-year average. The iron ore trade ended for the season on February 10 when the U.S.-flag tug-barge unit Joyce L. Van Enkevort / Great Lakes Trader departed Escanaba, Mich., with 36,942 tons for Indiana Harbor. Escanaba was the only dock to ship during February and loaded 110,679 tons.

Lake Carriers Association

 

Port Reports -  February 13

Goderich, Ont. - Dale Baechler
Capt. Henry Jackman departed the Sifto Salt dock Sunday at 7:45 a.m. Algomarine remained on the hook in Lake Erie, waiting to come up. Both are hauling salt for Lake Michigan ports and Detroit.

 

Coast Guard orders 40 boats from Marinette Marine

2/13 - Marinette, Wis. - Marinette Marine Corp. has received an $89.6 million order from the U.S. Coast Guard for 40 boats. The company said the order was part of a multiyear contract, awarded three years ago, that could be worth up to $600 million.

Thus far, the Coast Guard has ordered 166 of the 45-foot boats, used for rescue work and law enforcement, from Marinette and a boat builder in Kent, Wash. Half of the order will be filled in Green Bay.

The Coast Guard wants to replace an aging fleet of 41-foot boats that have been the workhorse at stations across the country since the 1970s. Now part of the Department of Homeland Security, the Coast Guard wants boats that are faster and more technologically advanced than the older utility boats.

The new boats have mounted weapons, night surveillance gear and the latest available radar and communications equipment.

Delivery of the 40 boats, to be built in Green Bay, is scheduled to begin in early 2013. "This is a big deal for us," said Marinette Marine President and CEO Chuck Goddard. "There is at least another year left on the contract, and we hope it's more than that," he added.

Marinette Marine's Green Bay facility employs 60 people and specializes in aluminum boats. The Coast Guard has a long history of ordering boats and ships from the company.

There have been disappointments, too, such as in 2008 when the shipyard - then owned by Manitowoc Co. - lost a bid to build up to $1.5 billion worth of Coast Guard cutters. Currently, Marinette Marine is building littoral combat ships for the U.S. Navy - a program worth billions of dollars. The Navy wants to buy 55 of the high-speed ships, costing about $400 million each, over 15 years.

For the initial 20 ships, the work has been divided between Marinette Marine and Austal USA in Mobile, Ala. The work has created a small economic boom in northern Wisconsin and southern Alabama, where thousands of people are employed in the shipyards and at area businesses that have benefited.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

 

Updates -  February 13

Weekly Website Updates
News Photo Gallery

 

Today in Great Lakes History -  February 13

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, with Captain Joseph "Joe" Russell in command.

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

 

Port Reports -  February 12

Milwaukee, Wis. - Herm Phillips
The tug G.L. Ostrander and barge Integrity departed their lay-up dock in Milwaukee on Thursday, bound for South Chicago to unload their storage cargo.

 

Marina owner proposes shipping terminal in Douglas

2/12 - Douglas, Mich. – When the 105-year-old Great Lakes steamer Keewatin is pulled from its dock in Kalamazoo Lake, marina owner R.J. Peterson wants to fill the void with a 100-seat ship terminal.

“It’s my feeling that there could be a great future for the Saugatuck harbor,” said the owner of Tower Marine.

Plans submitted to the Douglas Planning Commission show a two-story building supported by pilings south of the current Red Dock cafe, 219 Union St. off Blue Star Highway south of the bridge. The area, now open water between two wooden docks, is dotted with pilings from a previous building.

On the main level of the proposed terminal is a gathering hall to seat 100 people, restrooms and a kitchen. The second level includes an observation deck, more restrooms and storage area.

“It’s a terminal — like a truck stop for visiting boaters,” Peterson said as he described the project from his marina where he is building a model of the docks and terminal.

The planning commission looked over preliminary plans Wednesday night but did not make any decision on the project. Commissioners will consider the entire zoning district and how the proposed terminal plan fits in, said commissioner Chairman Matt Balmer.

“We’re not against the use. We don’t want to approve it ad hoc,” he said.

The proposed facility is part of a larger plan by Peterson that includes more docks in the area and a spot for cruise ships to tie up and passengers disembark. Saugatuck and Douglas were once busy shipping points and vessels docked at the pier where the Keewatin now rests.

Cruise ship traffic is returning to the towns. The Yorktown is making seven stops throughout the summer, docking along Wicks Park across the lake from Peterson’s proposed site.

Peterson would like to have the new terminal built by Memorial Day, though the Keewatin must first be removed.

The sale of the ship from Peterson to Gil Blutrich of Canada was finalized in November. A path from the dock to the channel in the Kalamazoo River will be dredged and the ship will be towed into Lake Michigan in June to its historical home of Port McNicholl, Ontario, where the ship part of a renovated waterfront and tourist attraction that will include a reconstruction of a Canadian Pacific Railway station.

Peterson brought the Keewatin to Douglas in 1967. The ship was built in 1907 and carried cargo and passengers for the Canadian Pacific Railway.

The Holland Sentinel

 

Superior researchers studying invasives, ballast water

2/12 - Determining how clean a ship's ballast water must be to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species is the goal of the latest research partnership between the Northeast-Midwest Institute and the Lake Superior Research Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Superior.

Using $415,000 recently awarded by the Northeast-Midwest Institute, LSRI Associate Researcher Matt TenEyck will direct controlled experiments to measure the effect of treated ballast water on Twin Ports harbor water. His work will be part of a broader project led by Allegra Cangelosi, president of the Northeast-Midwest Institute. Together, their research will generate the first direct scientific ballast water data relevant to the Great Lakes region.

The project is funded by a $1 million award to the Northeast-Midwest Institute by the Great Lakes Protection Fund, a private, nonprofit corporation formed to identify, demonstrate and promote regional action to enhance the health of the Great Lakes ecosystem.

"There is no quick or easy way to generate this information for the Great Lakes, but we need answers; the sooner the better," Cangelosi said. "We are grateful to the Great Lakes Protection Fund for allowing us to get started at the same time as the national effort."

Under the direction of Dr. Mary Balcer, researchers at the Lake Superior Research Institute have been working since 2005 with the Northeast-Midwest Institute's Great Ships Initiative to review water treatment to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive animals and plants carried in ships' ballast tanks. The new research award to LSRI is the latest step in that ongoing partnership.

"Finding effective ways to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species is critical to the future of the Great Lakes and to maritime commerce," said Chancellor Renée Wachter. "We're pleased the Northeast-Midwest Institute has entrusted this important research project to our scientists at LSRI."

The Northeast-Midwest Institute launched the latest research project to address a lack of information about how effective ballast water discharge standards are in prevening invasions of aquatic organisms. Ships carry ballast water for stability. By taking on ballast water in one port and discharging it in another, they can introduce foreign aquatic species that compete with native species. Various standards for treating ballast water to kill the invasive species are being debated around the country as part of an effort to stop ships from inadvertently transporting aquatic species from one ecosystem to another.

In collaboration with state, federal and global academic experts, the Northeast-Midwest Institute will generate a detailed plan and the first field data to assess the degree of protection from invasion risk that is provided by the range of ballast discharge standards currently in the Great Lakes region. The effort will be consistent with recommendations of the National Research Council for a national research effort and will ensure that Great Lakes concerns are at the forefront of that effort.

Fierce controversy remains with regard to how clean ballast water is after various types of treatments. This latest research project involving the Northeast-Midwest Institute and LSRI will move to generate data relevant to the Great Lakes region.

Under LSRI's portion of the project, TenEyck will conduct controlled experiments using "mesocosms" that contain Twin Ports harbor water and its natural organisms.

Planning of the testing process is underway this winter, involving local, national and international experts. In late spring, work will begin at the Great Ships' Initiative ballast water testing facility on Superior's waterfront.

LSRI scientist will set up a series of 1,000-liter aquariums containing harbor water. They will add varying levels of an aquatic invasive species and then analyze how the invaders fare compared to the species currently in the harbor. They'll "bracket" existing treatment standards by adding more and fewer invasive creatures than the standards allow.

"When the standards for ballast water treatment were set there was little scientific data. We're trying to see whether the standards are too lenient or two stringent," TenEyck said.

University of Wisconsin-Superior science students will take part in the project, enabling them to gain hands-on experience in scientific research.

At the same time, Cangelosi will lead field surveys in Duluth and Two Harbors, Minn., charting actual discharges of live organisms from ships, and the makeup of animal and plant life in harbor waters.

The testing program will continue for two years. TenEyck said they hope the testing will open the door to further testing of a wider range of aquatic species.

Ashland Current

 

Mariners arrive in city for 122nd annual shipmasters convention

2/12 - Owen Sound, Ont. – Mariners are in Owen Sound for the 122nd annual International Shipmasters Association convention, which started Wednesday. About 150 captains, Great Lakes pilots, engineers and Georgian College cadets and spouses will attend the event at the Days Inn.

It's the first time the association has held one of its annual conferences in Owen Sound, said Seann O'Donoughue, captain of the Algoma Spirit Great Lakes freighter, who lives in Owen Sound. O'Donoughue is also a part-time instructor at Georgian College. The association provides three annual scholarships to local cadets encourage new people in the profession.

The event features 14 presenters covering subjects such as the latest satellite navigation innovations, an Environment Canada account of the Goderich tornado, local marine heritage and Algoma Central Corporation's plan to introduce a modern fleet of ships.

About half the visitors hail from the United States. A slate of activities are planned for spouses, including a crack at the college marine navigation simulators, artist-led workshops in jewelry and paper crafting, a tour of the Tom Thomson Art Gallery, visits to the Owen Sound Farmers' Market and Owen Sound Artists' Co-op.

Guests will dress in marine costumes for the themed Saturday night dinner. Grog will be served and a few sea chanties sung, the itinerary advertises. The event concludes Sunday morning with the 19th annual mariners' service and blessing of the Great Lakes fleet at St. George's Anglican Church.

Owen Sound Sun Times

 

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.

 

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.

February 11, 1918 - Amid blasts of whistles from nearby ships and factories and the cheers of several hundreds of people, the cargo steamer Asp was launched at the Polson Iron Works. Fears that the launching could not be carried out because of the thickness of the ice proved unfounded. Gangs of me cut away the ice barrier and at 3:20 the vessel slipped easily into the water without any mishap. Curiosity was aroused when one of the ice cutters found a three-foot alligator frozen just under the surface of the ice. Whether or not it escaped from some sailor or from the local zoo is not known.

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

 

Great Lakes coal trade down 49 percent in January

2/10 - Cleveland, Ohio - Shipments of coal on the Great Lakes totaled 382,318 tons in January, a decrease of 49 percent compared to a year ago. The decrease was even greater 62 percent when compared to the month’s 5-year average.

Loadings at Lake Superior ports fell approximately 67 percent compared to both a year ago and their 5-year average. Shipments from Lake Michigan more than doubled their volume of a year ago and were 20,000 tons ahead of the month’s 5-year average. The coal trade out of Lake Erie was little changed from a year ago, but almost 70 percent below its 5-year average.

Lake Carriers Association

 

Toledo Maritime Museum construction to begin with council approval

2/10 - Toledo, Ohio - Construction is expected to begin soon for a new riverfront attraction in the Glass City, if City Council approves. Bringing Toledo's maritime history alive along the riverfront is the goal for those trying to make the museum project a reality in the Marina District. If the council guarantees local matching funds to secure a $6 million state grant, work will begin in a matter of weeks.

The $8.5 million project to create the National Great Lakes Maritime Museum aims to bring more visitors down to Toledo's waterfront. This includes moving the Col. James M. Schoonmaker from its current location, to a slip next to the proposed museum building and park space. Work to prepare for the slip should begin in the near future.

"We anticipate we would begin driving sheet piling and constructing the dock close to the end of the month, begin park construction shortly after that," said Paul C. LaMarre III, manager of maritime affairs at the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority.

That will happen if council approves setting aside $850,000 from the Capital Improvement budget, as a local match guarantee for a $6 million state grant.

"We'll be able to sign our formal grant agreement with the Cultural Facilities Commission and in turn, sign contracts to begin actual site work," explained LaMarre. The city's money will not be spent if the Great Lakes Historical Society can raise $850,000 in private donations.

"They're going to pledge some of their property as security so that we would use that if they are not able to fulfill their commitment on the fundraising," said Robin Whitney, commissioner of Toledo Engineering Services. The current timeline calls for the project to be completed by June 2013.

"Not only do you have the exhibits, you have a public park, then you have one of the most historical vessels to have sailed the lakes," said LaMarre.

City Council's Finance Committee will review the museum legislation Monday at 1 p.m. A vote could happen as early as Tuesday.

WTOL

 

Lake St. Clair levels high now, but won't last, official says

2/10 - There will be higher water levels than last year around Lake St. Clair this spring, but boaters and other water lovers shouldn't think that will last. The lakes will be about the same depth as last year by summer, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers predicts.

Boaters and anglers who might be expecting low lake levels because of the lack of snowfall will be pleasantly surprised in early spring to find the lake higher than last year.

Those higher-than-last-year levels in lakes St. Clair and Erie in spring are more of a false positive than a real promise of deeper water, said Keith Kompoltowicz, a Corps of Engineers meteorologist.

That's because ice on the St. Clair River last year blocked water flow into the lower lakes, leading to low levels last spring. This year there has been little or no ice on the river, so the spring levels will be as much as 13 to 20 inches above last year, he said.

But by June, we'll see lake levels about the same as last year. That will be the story for most of the Great Lakes in 2012 -- higher late winter and early spring levels falling to closer to recent levels by summer, Kompoltowicz said.

Snow is the biggest source of water for the Great Lakes -- including snowfall north of Michigan in Canada.

"Certainly this winter has been abnormal with the lack of snow and warmer than average temperature," Kompoltowicz said. "We'd need significant snow year after year to make an impact," on lake levels.

Lower lake levels lead to retreating shorelines, which can fill up with vegetation such as the phragmites, an invasive reed that blocks the water from the shore. They're also a problem for local boaters, who can run into unexpectedly shallow water when the lake levels are down.

"If you have a power boat, it just means that certain channels you can't get into anymore," said Frank Kern of Grosse Pointe Park, owner of a powerboat and a sailboat.

But low lake levels have more serious consequences for sailboats, with keels that dip 3 to even 9 or 10 feet below the surface. "In more recent years you've seen on downsizing of sailboats because they can't get in all places anymore."

More Details: Great Lakes forecast
• Lake Superior: Within an inch or two of last year's levels.
• Lakes Michigan and Huron: Expect levels 5-7 inches above last year in the spring.
• Lake St. Clair: Should be 13-20 inches above last year in February and March. By May, June and July, the lake should be about 2 to 3 inches below last year.
• Lake Erie: Expect levels to be 15-25 inches higher than last year in February and March, dropping to about last year's levels in the summer.
• Lake Ontario: February and March levels will be 12-23 inches above last year, settling at about the same as last year by summer.

Detroit Free Press

 

Coast Guard unit receives prestigious Kimball Award

2/10 - Duluth, Minn. – Crewmembers at Coast Guard Aids to Navigation Team Duluth (ANT) accepted the prestigious Sumner I. Kimball Readiness Award on Feb. 9. The award was presented by Rear Admiral Michael Parks, Commander, Ninth Coast Guard District, and Captain Joseph McGuiness, Commander, Sector Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.

ANT Duluth is located at the western end of Lake Superior; with a crew of 13. They are responsible for the area from Warroad Minn. to the Black River in Michigan, encompassing three states. ANT Duluth is responsible for over 335 aids to navigation and 11 Lighthouses, most of them within the Duluth-Superior seaport, the largest and farthest-inland freshwater seaport in North America.

The Coast Guard has a standardization team that conducts an intense evaluation of each station once every three years to measure the unit’s ability to carry out its missions. Units that not only meet, but far exceed readiness requirements, receive the Kimball Award.

To receive the Kimball Award requires a combination of superior test scores, condition of the vessels, excellent performance of underway drills, a successful and progressive unit training program, survival systems readiness and good administrative work. Failure in any one of these areas precludes a unit from achieving this award.

Sumner I. Kimball was the General Superintendent of the Revenue Marine Bureau from 1871 to 1878, which evolved into the U.S. Life Saving Service, a predecessor to the modern day Coast Guard. Kimball is credited for putting the service on the road to professionalism by defining and heavily enforcing the fundamentals of training and equipment.

 

Great Lakes Shipwreck Festival February 25 in Ann Arbor

2/10 - 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 31st Great Lakes Shipwreck Festival on Saturday, Feb. 25 from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. at Washtenaw Community College’s Morris Lawrence Building, 4800 E. Huron River Drive, in Ann Arbor.

This years program features presentations about the numerous shipwrecks of Sleeping Bear Point, caused by the perilous Manitou Passage, and the tragic loss in 1890 of the steamer Fred McBrier that sank seven minutes after colliding with the larger steamer Progress ten miles west of Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse in Lake Michigan. 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 include the fascinating story of the Keystone State, a large wooden steamer that disappeared with its entire crew in 1861. Detroit Historical Society senior curator Joel Stone will also lead a presentation about the historical significance of six pre-Revolutionary War cannons that have been retrieved from the Detroit River over the past 27 years. Stone’s presentation, in his words, will discuss North American artillery of the period, its role in the regions development, and the recovery operation that brought the latest cannon to the surface after two centuries.

The event also includes 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 companies. For ticket information or program details, visit www.shipwreckfestival.org

 

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 ALGOMA 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.

 

U.S.-Flag lakers' cargo up 14 percent in January

2/9 - Cleveland U.S.-flag Great Lakes freighters carried 3.9 million tons of dry-bulk cargo in January, an increase of 14 percent compared to a year ago, and 41 percent better than the month’s 5-year average.

Iron ore cargos for the steel industry increased 21 percent compared to a year ago and outperformed their 5-year average by 58 percent. Coal loadings slumped by 53 percent compared to 2011, but fell slightly less 45 percent compared to the trade’s 5-year average.

Only one limestone cargo moved in January, which is more or less typical. Since much of the limestone shipped on the lakes is rinsed before loading, shipments largely cease when temperatures slip below freezing.

Lake Carriers’ Association

 

EPA gives Badger approval to apply for individual permit

2/9 - Manitowoc, Wis. – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has decided to allow Lake Michigan Carferry to apply for an individual permit for coal ash discharge from the SS Badger. But it chided LMC to create a more “robust record” to support its application than so far seen and noted it did not agree with the reasons LMC so far has stated for seeking the permit.

The decision announced Tuesday does not guarantee the EPA will grant the sought-after National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit that would allow the coal ash discharge to continue, but it gives hope. The Badger’s current permit expires in December. The EPA wants LMC to find a solution to avoid the discharge, and in 2008 gave the carferry service a five-year vessel general permit while it studied the options.

One option, that will be studied this summer, is converting the Badger to natural gas instead of coal.

In a letter to Robert Manglitz, LMC president/CEO, he is instructed to make the application by June 29.

“I commend the EPA’s decision to proceed with Lake Michigan Carferry’s application for an individual permit,” Stabenow said. “Over this past year, I have worked closely with the company and the EPA on options to repower the ferry in order to prevent the dumping of pollutants in our Great Lakes, while allowing the Badger to continue to employ hundreds of people in the community and provide its historic service in our state.”

“Lake Michigan Carferry thanks Senator Stabenow for advocating for our community, so we can apply for a new federal permit to continue operating the SS Badger. We appreciate her continued support,” LMC said in the Stabenow press release.

Among the options LMC is considering, and one that is the subject of a feasibility study this year, is converting the fuel source from coal to natural gas.

In May 2011, LMC met with the EPA in Washington D.C. and at that time were told to work with EPA's Regional office in Chicago, IL. LMC then met with the Regional office in June, 2011. As a result of that meeting the Regional office directed LMC to petition for the ability to apply for an individual permit. Although this request was unprecedented, LMC obliged and officially petitioned the EPA on November 2, 2011.

"We are pleased that the EPA has granted us permission to apply for a permit" said Lynda Matson, Vice President of Customer Service and Marketing. "We have already started preparing the permit application and plan to meet with the EPA to discuss details soon."

Ludington Daily News

 

Port Reports -  February 9

Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.
Algocanada was at the Purvis dock in the lower harbor Wednesday unloading petroleum products.

 

Holland harbor to be dredged for $600K provided by Army Corps of Engineers

2/9 - Holland, Mich. - Six Michigan harbors, including Holland’s, will benefit from additional money allocated for U.S. Army Corps of Engineers operation and maintenance, a Tuesday statement from U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., said.

The city of Holland, the Holland Board of Public Works and a handful of industrial sites ship via barge through the Lake Macatawa shipping channel. They have been worried about dredging costs since the Army Corps announced at the end of 2011 that harbors shipping less than 1 million tons would not qualify for federally-funded dredging. The BPW and other industry ship about 480,000 tons annually, 150,000 of which is BPW coal.

However, now the Army Corps has allocated $600,000 for the Holland Harbor for 2012. The Corps funding for 2013 will be released next week, so the BPW will know then what the harbor situation is for the future.

The outer harbor is dredged annually at a cost of about $210,000, BPW General Manager Dave Koster said. The shipping channel is dredged less often, every three to five years, but costs substantially more at $1.5 to $2 million.

The Army Corps of Engineers will allocate additional money to Great Lakes dredging projects that support economic development and job creation, the statement from Levin said. The change of heart came after Levin pressed Corps officials last month on the urgent need for dredging and maintenance funds for the Great Lakes, the statement said. “Your letter urged us to allocate a large portion of the additional funds appropriated for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Operation and Maintenance account in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2012, to fund Great Lakes navigation projects that support economic development and job creation.” Army Undersecretary Joseph Westphal wrote in a letter to Levin, according to the Levin’s statement.

The Corps has allocated $9 million in additional funds for Great Lakes projects, including the six in Michigan.

The Holland Sentinel

 

Steel production in Great Lakes states rises 8,000 tons

2/9 - Raw steel production in the country's Great Lakes region was 654,000 tons in the week that ended Saturday, according to estimates from the American Iron and Steel Institute. Production was up 8,000 tons from 646,000 tons in the prior week.

Raw steel from Indiana and the Chicago area represents the majority of production in the Great Lakes.

Production in the Southern District was estimated at 661,000 tons during the period that ended Saturday, down from 665,000 tons produced a week earlier.

Domestic mills produced more than 1.9 million tons of steel last week, up 6.9 percent from the same period in 2011.

U.S. steel mills operated 77.2 percent of the available production capacity last week, which is up from a 76.8 percent production rate a week earlier. An estimated 9.5 million tons of steel has been produced so far in 2012 at domestic steel mills, compared to about 8.9 million tons made at the same time last year.

NWI Times

 

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.

 

Saltie Federal Danube fined for speeding

2/8 - Sarnia, Ont. - The company responsible for a speeding freighter that caused more than $5,000 damage to a riverfront property has been fined $20,000 in Sarnia court. The operators of the Federal Danube, pled guilty to violating the speed limit for freighters between the Black River and Bell Isle on the St. Clair River and was fined Monday.

On Aug. 28, 2009 the St. Clair Sheriff’s Department in Michigan was contacted by a property owner, which in turn notified the shipping traffic centre in Canada.The speed limit for that river section is 10.4 knots. The shipping centre tracked the vessel and determined the speed had ranged between 11 and 12.7 knots (20 and 23 kilometres per hour) violating Canadian shipping regulations.

The ship’s wake caused between $5,000 and $10,000 damage to a dock, the court was told.

Speeding causes shoreline erosion that is not immediately visible and also poses a risk to recreational boaters, said federal prosecutor Michael Robb. Prior speeding fines have been about $3,000, but that amount can be viewed by ship owners as a business cost, said Robb. Robb recommended a $20,000 fine.

Justice Mark Hornblower imposed the $20,000 fine, saying $3,000 would be nothing more than a license to speed. The freighter is owned by Canada Venus Shipping Co. Ltd., and operated by Montreal-based Fednav Ltd.

The Observer

 

Port Reports -  February 8

Port Colborne - Christopher Wilson
Algowood arrived Tuesday morning and laid up at wharf 17, the Old Furnace Dock. Extra lines were in place and anchors were on the dock by noon. Alouette Spirit and Wilf Seymour are laid up immediately north of her at wharf 16, with Algoma Progress north of that. CSL Assiniboine is laid up at wharf 18-1, the west wall at the former fuel dock (not at ADM, which is wharf 18-3 somewhat to the south).

 

Lack of ice leads U.S. Coast Guard to cancel Saginaw River ice rescue training

2/8 - Essexville, Mich. – Teams of U.S. Coast Guard personnel from 48 units — including some from as far as New England — wrapped up the third week of ice rescue training on Friday at the U.S. Coast Guard Station Saginaw River in Essexville.

Due to a mild winter, this class may be the last to receive training this year.

The four-day sessions were conducted over the past three weeks through the Essexville Station's Ice Capabilities Center of Excellence. The final session was scheduled to begin tomorrow and run through Feb. 10, but Matthew Bell, Boatswain's Mate 2nd Class, said that training was canceled due to a lack of ice.

"There just isn't any ice left for the training to take place," Bell said. Last week, Bell said that the thin ice — which could still be found around the Saginaw River and Bay — was ideal for training and rescue drills.

"It's better for our training because the students get to train in an environment that is realistic," said Matthew Bell, Boatswains mate second class. "People fall through weak — not thick — ice." Presentations, drills and demonstrations are involved in the sessions.

Bell said that he expects a decision to be made on Wednesday whether or not the U.S. Coast Guard will reschedule ice rescue training to occur next week.

Bay City Times

 

Sault a step closer to regional harbor

2/8 - Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. – After years of talks about a deep sea harbor in Sault Ste. Marie, it looks like something similar to the original idea could become a reality. But before the cities’ plan becomes a certainty, research into just how successful a regional public harbor could be needs to be done.

Trevor Woods, coordinator for the Transportation Infrastructure Committee, told council at Monday’s meeting a market assessment and feasibility study must be completed before the city can move forward with a new harbor.

"We are moving forward in a very positive way,” said Woods. “The feasibility study will be a pivotal point for the project. We are optimistic, but we must wait and see what the results of the study are. At the same time we are working towards the successful establishment of an expanded port for the overall health of the community.”

The details behind what exactly makes our potential new harbor different from the deep sea variety previously discussed were not explained; Woods said plans still need to be ironed out.

"The use of the phrase 'deep sea' is not exactly the right wording. I don't think we're looking at 45-foot ocean liners rolling into the port. We're still looking at defining the details, but we don't want to mislead anyone by the use of the words deep sea,” he said.

The accounting firm KPMG was granted approval from city council on Monday to conduct a market assessment and feasibility study. Woods confirmed to council $100,000 in FedNor funding for the study as announced recently by Minister of FedNor Tony Clement.

The remaining $50,000 needed to complete the study will come out of the $250,000 originally allocated by the city to save the Huron Central railroad. Only $50,000 was needed for the successful push to save the railroad.

Woods said the study is expected to be completed in mid-to-late April and he will discuss the findings with council soon after.

Included in the report will be analysis regarding the current and future demand for an expanded port, a study into the inner connections with other transportation access across Northeastern Ontario and internationally, potential economic/employment benefits and the environmental impact of the proposed harbor.

Also in the report will be potential frameworks for operational management of an expanded port, along with a cost/benefit analysis.

Woods said the Transportation Infrastructure Committee is currently focused on looking ahead in anticipation of a good report coming back from KPMG; which he said means building a strong relationship with Essar Steel at the corporate level, with a specific focus on the port division, and starting to look at the design/build stages for the harbor.

If the report from KPMG is determined to be positive, the committee’s focus would then quickly shift to securing funding to make the harbor a reality.

"I think our focus would shift very quickly to what capital investments are required and what are the funding sources associated with that. The committee is anticipating the next step would be look at the details at how to move forward with both potential funding capital and what would the operating model look like,” he said.

Woods also anticipates interest from several private businesses including Tenaris Algoma Tubes.

"I think what you'll see in April, once the study is completed, is a wide variety of interest," he said. "As KPMG is currently studying, there is whole range of potential partners, primarily private businesses. One example who has shown some positive interest would be Tenaris.”

As for the whereabouts of the harbor, Woods said an exact location has yet to be finalized.

SooToday

 

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.

 

Drydock's $21.7M refit contract to support 343 jobs

2/7 - St. Catharines, Ont. - St. Catharines’ drydock has emerged from the depths after a crushing loss last year in its bid for a multibillion-dollar federal shipbuilding contract.

On Monday, Seaway Marine & Industrial Inc. announced it’s been has awarded a $21.7-million contract to refit the HMCS Athabaskan destroyer. The federal government work, won in a competitive bid, is expected to create 117 new jobs and maintain 226 existing ones.

Even better for Seaway Marine, the refit in Port Weller takes place from April to the fall, during the shipping season and when work at the docks dries up. If contracts continue over the traditional busy season, many of those employed could stay on for at least a year.

“Well done to everybody for this one,” said John Dewar, Seaway Marine’s vice-president of strategic services. During the announcement, Dewar was surrounded by dozens of clapping workers doing several other jobs on dry-docked vessels.

“We were all disappointed in October that we didn’t secure a front-row seat in the national procurement strategy for ships,” Dewar said, looking visibly elated. “But this kind of work is an important element to that strategy.

“What this shows is when there’s a level playing field, we can compete with the biggest shipyard in the country and we are the best shipyard in the country.”

The work is part of a five-year scheduled maintenance cycle that will enable the HMCS Athabaskan, a 39-year-old Iroquois class destroyer, to continue operating in the Royal Canadian Navy. The refit will include a docking to facilitate extensive underwater work, in addition to comprehensive maintenance and repairs on various ship systems like air, firefighting and electrical, as well as deck equipment.

To help Seaway Marine secure the Athabaskan deal, the provincial government also put up a financial surety to provide a work performance guarantee.

“It allows us to take on projects of this magnitude and compete against the really big shipyards,” Dewar said at the media event. “Without that, we would have been challenged to qualify for this kind of work.”

At the announcement, Dewar said the docks intend to continue competing for more work in the commercial sector and the federal government’s fleet.

Welland Tribune

 

Warm Windsor weather idles icebreaker

2/7 - Windsor, Ont. - Most Canadians are basking in an unseasonably warm winter, but Canadian Coast Guard Capt. John Cork isn't one of them. He's keeping his fingers crossed for some frigid winter weather.

Cork and his CCGS Samuel Risley crew of 25 were docked at the Windsor riverfront for a quick weekend stay. "Normally we're sailing every single day doing icebreaking," the dispirited captain said. "But this year there's so little ice."

Cork compared this winter with January 2010, when they set sail every day. This January, he said, they only sailed 12 days.

"It's a little disappointing because this is the primary Canadian icebreaker because she has the horsepower for it. So this is our busy season, sort of what we get geared up for and this year unfortunately there's no ice."

Warm temperatures from coast to coast have made it barely seem like a winter for most Canadians. Cork said despite the lack of ice, there's always work to be done on the ship.

"We're keeping busy with ship maintenance and training," he said Sunday aboard the ship at docked at the downtown riverfront. The Risley's main roles are icebreaking and servicing navigational aids, although the ship also conducts search and rescue missions.

Usually the ship travels within the Great Lakes, but during the winter the icebreaker mainly stays between Port Colborne and Sault Ste. Marie. According to Environment Canada's most recent 30-day forecast, 80 per cent of the country will experience above-normal temperatures in February.

The Windsor Star

 

Port Reports -  February 7

Cleveland, Ohio – Jake Kniola
The barge Niagara Spirit and the John Spence laid up at the Great Lakes Shipyard.

Buffalo, N.Y. – Brian W.
Algowood arrived Sunday night with a salt cargo Gateway Metroport. She departed early Monday morning.

 

Updates -  February 7

Weekly Website Updates
 

 

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

Erie, Pa. - Jeffrey Benson
Manitowoc and Cleveland Rocks have taken their place in the graving dock at Donjon.The Calumet is now tied up across the gate at the graving dock. Work continues on the Lakes Contender, Edgar B. Speer and Presque Isle. Robert S. Pierson departed Erie Saturday and entered lay-up in Sarnia Sunday.

Buffalo, N.Y.
Algowood arrived with salt late Sunday night. Fleetmate Capt. Henry Jackman was loading in Goderich.

 

New York ballast rules battle may end soon, says U.S. Seaway head

2/6 - Watertown, N.Y. - The head of the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corp. believes Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo will help the shipping industry fight New York state’s “scientifically unachievable” ballast standards.

“We met on Tuesday with the Cuomo folks,” said Collister W. Johnson Jr., U.S. Seaway administrator, on Thursday. “We had a very good conversation. Cuomo ran on ‘I’m going to change the culture of New York and we’re not going to be the most unfriendly business state in the country.’ And I think in respect to this issue, he gets it.”

Ships carry ballast water to maintain stability while under way.

Aiming to keep foreign invasive species out of New York waters, the state Department of Environmental Conservation in 2008 adopted a set of ballast discharge standards that are 100 times stronger than the International Maritime Organization’s standards for ships built before 2013 and 1,000 times stronger for ships built after Jan. 1, 2013.

“The International Maritime Organization standard — that’s the standard that Canada uses, that’s the standard the world uses, that’s the standard that everybody uses. But that’s not good enough for the state of New York,” Mr. Johnson said. “A study was done by leading scientists this summer saying that no way is that standard achievable. The only thing achievable is the IMO standards. Well, that didn’t seem to budge the DEC much. Science be damned.”

Last year, the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s Science Advisory Board found that New York’s strict standard cannot be met by existing ballast water management systems.

With a year left until the new purity standards go into effect, Seaway officials and fellow critics — shipping companies, the Canadian government and governors of Indiana, Ohio and Wisconsin — continue to protest the rules that they argue would “shut down” New York’s Seaway, the entrance into the greater Great Lakes shipping system.

“If you put your rules in and shut down the Seaway, what would that mean? That’s 72,000 jobs and $14 billion a year in economic impact,” Mr. Johnson said, referring to a 2011 economic impact study.

The study, conducted by Martin Associates, of Lancaster, Pa., found that Seaway maritime commerce in New York waters supported 72,601 U.S. and Canadian jobs, $3.8 billion in personal income, $10.5 billion in business revenue and $1.4 billion in local, state and federal taxes in 2010 alone.

But as far as Great Lakes-area environmentalists are concerned, the shipping industry and the Seaway are “getting in the way of doing the right thing.”

Jennifer J. Caddick, executive director of Save the River, Clayton, said the real problem is the shipping industry’s unwillingness to invest in the costly treatment systems — which are said to cost around $2 million to $3 million per setup — and failure to acknowledge the value of protecting the state’s drinking water.

“I certainly hope the governor supports his agencies, supports the DEC and help it protect our waterways,” she said. “As far as I can tell, the DEC has been willing to work with industries and help them with technical issues. And there are mechanisms in the rule that allow ship operators to extend the deadline.”

The state has already postponed the requirement’s initial effective date of 2012 by a full year and several shippers have applied for extensions.

Ms. Caddick said existing regulations do help limit the introduction of invasive species into the Great Lakes, but tougher ballast purity standards are needed to ensure that no unwanted organisms enter the system in the future.

Still, Seaway officials seem confident that the current ballast treatment program, which has ballast tanks flushed with salt water outside the Seaway to kill organisms and inspected at Montreal, stops invasive species from entering the Seaway.

“The good news is that because of our program, with the flushing and everything, there haven’t been any new invasive species introduced into the system in six years,” Mr. Johnson said. ”My sense is that we will probably know how the Cuomo administration is going to deal with this fairly quickly.”

Water Town Daily News

 

U.S. Congress looks at maritime tax issues

2/6 - The United States House of Representatives Ways and Means Subcommittee on Oversight has held a hearing on harbor maintenance funding and maritime tax issues, with a focus on the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF) and Harbor Maintenance Tax (HMT), and the tax treatment of foreign shipping operations.

The HMT is a federal tax, existing since 1986, and is imposed on shippers based on the value of the goods being shipped through ports. Users of US coastal and Great Lakes harbors pay a tariff of USD1.25 per USD1,000 in cargo value passing through those waters. The tax applies to imported and domestic waterborne cargo, as well as the ticket value of cruise ship passengers.

Revenues are transferred to the HMTF to pay for the dredging of federally maintained harbors to their authorized depths and widths. In recent years, however, it was said that HMTF expenditures have remained flat, while HMT collections have increased with rising imports, creating a large surplus in the trust fund.

The HMTF’s uncommitted balance has continued to grow and reached an estimated USD6.1 billion at the beginning of this year. In fiscal year 2010 alone, USD1.2bn in HMT was collected, while only USD793m was spent on dredging and related maintenance. Despite the accumulating balances in the HMTF, many US harbors are under-maintained, resulting in the full channel dimensions of America’s busiest ports being available less than 35% of the time.

There has been concern previously that the tax may be diverting US-bound cargo away from US ports, particularly north to Canada or south to Mexico, as shippers can avoid paying HMT by routing cargo through non-US seaports.

Another potential concern with the structure of the HMTF arises with respect to what is known as “short sea shipping”. Some have argued that the HMT itself is a major reason why very little non-bulk commercial cargo is transported using inland and coastal waterways. Currently, the use of short sea shipping, which involves the movement of cargo along coastal and inland waters, is primarily limited to bulk cargo while commercial non-bulk cargo is moved throughout the US via other modes of transportation.

In announcing the hearing, Ways and Means Subcommittee on Oversight Chairman Charles Boustany (R - Louisiana) said: “Years of chronic underfunding have severely limited ship traffic, prevented valuable cargo from moving efficiently, and adversely affected national, regional, and local economies. Funds collected by the HMTF should be utilized promptly and exclusively to keep our harbors open for business.”

Subcommittee on Select Revenue Measures Chairman Pat Tiberi (R - Ohio) added that “today’s tax code places preference on investment in foreign shipping operations over investment in domestic operations. The tax code also discourages the use of local shipping channels as a means to move non-bulk cargo throughout the US and the Great Lakes region. The Subcommittees should examine how to design tax policies that help create US maritime jobs and that ensure the long-term growth of the domestic maritime industry.”

In fact, the proposed Short Sea Shipping Act of 2011, introduced to the House by Tiberi in April last year, would amend the tax code to exempt from HMT commercial cargo (other than bulk cargo) loaded at a port in the US mainland and unloaded at another such port after transport solely by coastal route or river, or unloaded at a port in Canada located in the Great Lakes system; or at a port in Canada and unloaded at a port in the US mainland.

In his testimony, Steven Fisher, Executive Director of the American Great Lakes Ports Association, confirmed that a number of US national shipping organizations have endorsed elimination of HMT on domestic short sea shipping services, adding that it also actually encourages greater road congestion, resulting in more fuel consumption and air pollution.

Finally, and unrelated to HMT, US shipping companies must currently maintain investments in qualified foreign shipping assets made between 1975 and 1986 to avoid anti-deferral tax treatment for their qualified foreign shipping income. Some have questioned whether this requirement with which US shipping companies must comply has encouraged these companies to invest capital in their foreign operations – capital that otherwise could have been used to expand domestic operations and to create US jobs.

Morten Arntzen, President and CEO of the Overseas Shipholding Group, was concerned that the US should repeal unfair restrictions on the ability of domestic shipping companies to defer tax on offshore income, as “US shipping companies simply cannot thrive if we are burdened with tax code provisions which do not apply to other US corporations, or if access to capital, particularly our own earnings, is impeded”.

He added, therefore, that “US shipping companies still must maintain investments in foreign shipping assets made decades ago, pre-1987. Any net decrease in those investments results in an immediate tax. This vestigial quirk in the tax law has caused capital of US shipping companies to be left offshore, effectively preventing those companies from investing their earnings back into the US economy.”

Tax-News.com

 

Updates -  February 6

Weekly Website Updates
Lay-up list updated
New Video on our YouTube Channel

 

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.

 

Coast Guard rescues kayaker from South Manitou Island, Mich.

2/5 - Cleveland, Ohio - A rescue aircrew from Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City, Mich., rescued a male kayaker who was stranded on South Manitou Island, Mich., Saturday evening. The man’s name and age are not being released.

Coast Guard Sector Lake Michigan, in Milwaukee, received notification of the stranded kayaker at about 4 p.m., CDT Saturday from Coast Guard Station Frankfort, Mich. Watchstanders at Station Frankfort were notified by Sleeping Bear Dunes State Park dispatch.

The aircrew, aboard an MH-65C Dolphin rescue helicopter, transported the man back to Air Station Traverse City, where they were met by waiting emergency medical services. He was released in good condition. The Coast Guard is working with the individual to coordinate recovery of the kayak.

 

U.S. Coast Guard activity on Saginaw Bay is just a drill

2/5 - Essexville , Mich. – If you see the familiar orange and white U.S. Coast Guard helicopter over Bay City and the Saginaw Bay today, there is no reason for alarm — it is only a drill.

Teams of two U.S. Coast Guard personnel from 48 units — including some from as far as New England — are wrapping up ice rescue training at the U.S. Coast Guard Station Saginaw River in Essexville.

The poor ice conditions in Bay County are ideal for training, which is held at the Essexville station's Ice Capabilities Center of Excellence.

"It's better for our training because the students get to train in an environment that is realistic," said Matthew Bell, Boatswains mate second class. "People fall through weak — not thick — ice."

The four-day training sessions have been conducted over the past three weeks. The final session is scheduled to begin next Tuesday and run through Feb. 10.

"The helicopters — either from Detroit or Traverse City — are brought here on Fridays to conclude the training," Bell said. "There is cross-training between the different stations because we don't run helicopters here."

Presentations, drills and demonstrations are involved in the sessions. Bell said the public should not be alarmed if they see flares being fired.

"On Thursday nights, we a do a exercise at Bay City State Park where we shoot flares and cut holes in the ice," Bell said. "We get calls about the flares being shot, but this is just a part of the training."

In addition to getting instruction on how to perform ice rescues, the students also learn how to train other personnel in their units on the procedures that they learned.

"It's not rank-specific," Bell said. "The commands designate people tho are experienced to teach their units."

Bay City Times

 

Wisconsin Marine Historical Society presents Capt. Alan Bernstein

2/5 - The Wisconsin Marine Historical Society will be welcoming Capt. Alan Bernstein for some steamboat history and funny experiences Thursday February 16 at the Hilton on the Milwaukee River, 4700 N. Port Washington Road, Glendale, Wis. Hear about the steamboat race held every year in conjunction with the Kentucky Derby as well as the significance of the early years of steamboating. Capt. Bernstein currently holds three Masters’ licenses. Both his son and daughter are captains, too. His family started BB Riverboats in 1979 and a restaurant in 1962. Visit www.wmhs.org for details

 

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.

 

American Steamship Company charters new articulated tug barge

2/4 - Chicago, Ill. - American Steamship Company (ASC) announced Thursday its charter of the newly-constructed articulated tug barge Ken Boothe Sr. and Lakes Contender.

David W. Foster, president of ASC, said, “We are very pleased to add this new ATB, designed to transport dry-bulk commodities, to our fleet and look forward to commencing its operation on the Great Lakes during the upcoming sailing season. This U.S.-flagged 10,700 horsepower tug and 740 foot self-unloading barge with a cargo capacity of 34,000 tons, constructed by Donjon Shipbuilding and Repair of Erie, PA, will allow ASC to more efficiently serve our customers.”

 

Port Reports -  February 4

Cleveland, Ohio – Jake Kniola
On Thursday, Lower Lakes’ self-unloader Calumet was running shuttles up the Cuyahoga River.

 

Seaway officials tour Snell Lock winter maintenance

2/4 - Massena, N.Y. – The ships are gone, the tourists have left and the St. Lawrence River is iced over. It’s time for the winter maintenance crew at the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corp. to get to work.

Seaway officials hosted a tour Wednesday of repairs at the drained 50-foot-deep Snell Lock. The repairs are part of the development corporation’s Asset Renewal Program, a 10-year, $180 million effort to repair aging infrastructure.

There are 10 different contractors and approximately 70 employees working on the Snell Lock repairs, according to St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corp. Administrator Collister “Terry” Johnson. That’s the largest number of contractors working on the Seaway locks since their 1950s construction. Nine of the 10 contractors are in-state, and five are from within St. Lawrence County.

“This is quite a massive piece of infrastructure that has to be maintained. The only time we can really do it is in the winter when we close the locks,” Mr. Johnson said. “It has to be done in a hurry, because we have two and a half months to do it.”

The repairs must be completed in the next few weeks, said Thomas A. Lavigne, the Seaway’s director of engineering and maintenance. The locks have to undergo several weeks of test runs before the Seaway reopens in late March.

Much of the repair work centered on drilling new concrete blocks by the lock’s gates, Mr. Lavigne said. The concrete had corroded after more than 50 years of wear and tear.

Mr. Lavigne explained the specifics of each 115-ton gate from lock’s bottom. Behind him were “stoplogs,” or temporary dams, that prevented the river water on the other side from seeping into the lock. Drilling noises echoed around him.

This winter, personnel have been working on the locks six days a week, at least 20 hours each day, Mr. Lavigne said. The Seaway also is replacing four lock valves and converting them to a hydraulic system. “We haven’t found anything major. It’s been a good winter so far,” Mr. Lavigne said. “We’ll fix up what we have to.”

The repairs will ensure the lock’s performance for decades to come, he said. Last year, crews worked on the nearby Eisenhower Lock. “We have no intention of replacing these gates in the near future or even in the far future,” Mr. Lavigne said.

Massena’s economy is benefiting from the repairs, Mr. Johnson said. Seaway officials estimated that the Asset Renewal Program has generated $2.5 million in economic benefits to the region, including local hiring, spending on supplies and equipment, and lodging and meals for out-of-town contractors.

Since 2009, the Seaway has awarded nearly $35 million to upstate contractors for the work, Mr. Johnson said.

“Much of that money that is spent stays here in the north country,” he said. “In a very significant way, we’re also in the economic development business.”

Watertown Daily Times

 

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.

 

American Steamship Company charters new articulated tug barge

2/3 - Chicago, Ill. - American Steamship Company (ASC) announced Thursday its charter of the newly constructed articulated tug barge Ken Boothe Sr. and Lakes Contender.

David W. Foster, president of ASC, said, “We are very pleased to add this new ATB, designed to transport dry-bulk commodities, to our fleet and look forward to commencing its operation on the Great Lakes during the upcoming sailing season. This U.S.-flagged 10,700 horsepower tug and 740 foot self-unloading barge with a cargo capacity of 34,000 tons, constructed by Donjon Shipbuilding and Repair of Erie, PA, will allow ASC to more efficiently serve our customers.”

 

Coast Guard icebreaker to visit downtown Windsor

2/3 - Windsor, Ont. – The Samuel Risley — a 229-foot icebreaker with the Canadian Coast Guard — will be stopping by Windsor on Friday. The vessel is expected to arrive at Dieppe Park via the Detroit River around 2 p.m.

The Canadian Coast Guard calls the ship “the most powerful icebreaker that the Central and Arctic region has,” with four engines allowing it to crush through ice more than two feet thick.

It has a gross weight of 1,967 tons; a cruising speed of 12 knots; a range of 16,700 nautical miles; and a crew of 22.

Named after the first chairman of Canada’s board of steamship inspectors, the Samuel Risley has made previous visits to Windsor. Canadian Coast Guard communications officer Carol Launderville said this year’s journey is a special occasion: 2012 marks the half-century anniversary of the Canadian Coast Guard.

Thanks to unseasonably warm weather, the Samuel Risley’s icebreaking capabilities haven’t been necessary in these parts of the Detroit River so far this winter. Still, Launderville said there’s always other work for the vessel to do throughout the Great Lakes.

Click here for a virtual tour of the ship

Windsor Star

 

Port Reports -  February 3

Sturgeon Bay, Wis. – Wendell Wilke
Joseph L. Block arrived Bay Shipbuilding for winter layup early Tuesday evening. The St. Clair was placed in the graving dock on Wednesday, assisted by Selvick tugs and the tug Bayship.

 

140-year-old shipwreck piece washes ashore on remote Sleeping Bear Dunes beach

2/3 - Empire, Mich. – A piece of a shipwreck that experts believe is from a schooner that sank 140 years ago has washed up along Lake Michigan at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

The piece of hull was found Sunday by photographer Mark Lindsay of Kingsley, who was taking a walk through the dunes north of Empire along Michigan's northwestern Lower Peninsula, The Grand Rapids Press reported (http://bit.ly/ynmAuE).

"I just happened upon it," he said. "It was incredible."

According to Sleeping Bear Dunes historians, the fragment is believed to be from the Jennie and Annie, which went down in the area in 1872. The wooden piece is about 40 feet long and is peppered with twisted metal spikes.

The fragment of the ship likely washed up or was uncovered during a storm and it isn't that easy to get to. It's located north of North Bar Lake and south of Sleeping Bear Point, about a 40-minute hike west from the Glen Haven trailhead, Lindsay said.

Laura Quackenbush, a museum technician at Sleeping Bear Dunes, said it's one of one of several fragments of the wreck to wash ashore over the years. Other fragments from the ship and others that foundered off the dunes wash ashore once or twice a year.

"It's a very dynamic shoreline," she said. "It's a common occurrence around there."

The fragments are technically owned by the state of Michigan, Quackenbush said. The area when the ship sank is the Manitou Passage, which currently is a state underwater preserve. The wrecks are governed as if they were in a museum.

The Jennie and Annie was one of the wrecks surveyed in 1995 when the Manitou Passage was being readied as an underwater preserve, Quackenbush said. The National Park Service collects and indexes information on the wreck fragments as they appear.

The Associated Press

 

Water levels on the rise this winter

2/3 - Algonac, Mich. – The lack of ice covering Anchor Bay and Lake St. Clair this year has helped contribute to higher water levels than years past, according to experts.

Currently, Lake St. Clair has a water level of 574.14 feet and at this time last year 571.94 feet, said U.S. Army Corp of Engineers Meteorologist Keith Komportowiecz. The difference in water levels is in large part because of the ice jam that clogged water flow from the St. Clair River into the lake last year, he said.

"The winter last year was very severe," Komportowiecz said.

Another contributing factor has been the large amount of rain southeastern Michigan has received this winter, he added.

While water levels in Lake St. Clair are up, and near their long-term January average of 563.6 feet, Komportowiecz warned that the lack of ice covering on the surface could lead to evaporation. However, he also said Lake St. Clair is very reactive to weather changes so the recent colder temperatures will likely help ice form over the surface.

"There is some ice that is beginning to form," he said.

Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Biologist Jim Francis said ice covering on lakes, particularly the smaller ones, can be both good and bad. He said when the ice builds up, and then the snow piles on top, the plants underneath the covering aren't able to excrete the carbon monoxide as they normally would. He said this can often cause some dead fish to pile up in the spring when the ice melts.

"I think that is going to be less dramatic this year because of the lack of ice though," he said.

Francis said while ice can have an effect on the fish the difference in water levels this winter likely won't. "Plus or minus a couple inches or feet won't matter too much when they're in deeper waters," he said.

Where the water levels really matter are in the wetlands, marshes and shallow shore zones where the fish spawn and nurse at in the spring. Francis said if the water is too low come spring the fish will have to readjust so they can reproduce.

"The timing of the lake levels variation is what is important," he said.

Although temperatures were cooler last week, and thin sheets of ice were beginning to form on the lake, according to weather.com temperatures are once again expected to rise through the end of this week.

The Voice

 

Waters close between Mackinac Island and St. Ignace

2/3 - St. Ignace, Mich. - Captain of the Port Sault Ste. Marie has closed the waters between St. Ignace and Mackinac Island. The Coast Guard would like to remind all recreational ice users to plan their activities carefully, use caution on the ice, and stay away from shipping channels.

 

Updates -  February 3

News Photo Gallery
New Video on our YouTube Channel
 

 

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.

 

Duluth Port Authority has plans for old Cargill dock

2/2 - Duluth, Minn. - Work will begin this year on a planned $14 million project to improve a dock the Duluth Seaway Port Authority bought more than 20 years ago.

The authority’s board voted Tuesday to accept a $2 million state transportation grant for the project. The authority will match the grant with $2 million to begin the phased redevelopment of the Garfield Dock D. The work will help make the dock more attractive for future development.

The first phase of the project will include dredging to a 28-foot depth, installing piling and bollards and performing site work to prevent the collapse of existing dock walls and to prepare for the redevelopment of the entire dock.

“It’s starting to deteriorate,” said Duluth Seaway Port Authority Executive Director Adolph Ojard. “At some point, we have to do something.”

Engineering contracts for the project probably will be let in March, with actual work to begin this summer, said John Kubow, the authority’s CFO. “This is the first phase of a multiphase project,” he said. “We’re not sure what Phase II is. It might be bringing a rail line in.”

Timing of future phases depends in part on the fate of an authority application for a $10 million federal transportation grant. The U.S. Department of Transportation is expected to award $500 million in Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grants. The current round of grants is known as TIGER IV, because it is the fourth time the grants have been available. The authority unsuccessfully applied each of the previous times.

The authority doesn’t have an immediate use or client in mind for the site. The plan is to first stabilize and upgrade the site, and then prepare it for a number of possible uses by installing rail lines, cranes and other equipment and facilities.

“We want to make it as flexible as possible,” Ojard said of the site. “We don’t want to limit its use.”

The authority bought Docks C and D from Cargill in 1989. “We bought it for a buck and we grossly overpaid,” Ojard said, since the authority ended up spending well over $1 million to demolish the grain elevators on the site.

The redevelopment project will displace one business, Great Lakes Towing Co. The tugboat service uses part of Dock D under a five-year lease running into 2015. The Authority’s board voted Tuesday to cancel the lease, which is allowed for with a 90-day notice. Great Lakes Towing Fleet Capt. Jeff Stabler didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment.

It is possible that Great Lakes Towing could continue to use the dock during the project by shifting to different spots along the dock as the project progresses, authority officials said.

Duluth News Tribune

 

Lake Erie ferry starting trips to Ohio island

2/2 - Put-In-Bay, Ohio – The Miller Boat Line, providing ferry service to the Bass Islands from Catawba Island Ohio on Lake Erie, after a unprecedented 19 day layup, resumed service. The M/V William Market departed the winter berth, in downtown Put-in-Bay, on a beautiful warm sunny morning and a ice free bay. During normal winters, the bay and lake is dotted with ice shanties and ice vehicles driving on top of the ice.

The ferry line says it's the first time in six years that it will be able to make winter-time trips. It plans on making four round trips per day except on Tuesdays, as long as it's not too windy or icy. In most winters, the only way to get to and from the Lake Erie island is by plane.

Associated Press

 

No steelmaking in Hamilton planned by U.S. Steel

2/2 - Hamilton, Ont. – U.S. Steel will remain a steelmaker in Hamilton in name only. Company chairman John Surma told industry analysts Monday there are no plans to restart the blast furnace and steelmaking shops of the former Stelco plant until there is a substantial improvement in the North American market.

That isn’t expected to happen this year if the economy slows later in the year as predicted, meaning the steelmaking operations so much a part of the city’s history will continue to sit idle for the foreseeable future. The blast furnace has been shut down since October 2010.

For 200 local workers, it also means a layoff notice is coming in March or April after the 26 weeks of work they were guaranteed under the October contract deal that settled the 11-month lockout of employees.

“We plan on running in the first quarter everything we have except Hamilton about as hard as we can,” Surma told analysts, adding the company needs to see a strong market recovery to justify the cost of bringing the Hamilton blast furnace back into production.

“We think about restarting Hamilton, but it’s quite a large step. There’s time and training and working capital. We’ve got to have a sense there’s some sustainability to allow us to get some return on an investment that would not be inconsequential,” he said. “So, we think about it but we haven’t decided to do it so far.”

While the Hamilton blast furnace remains idle, the company is operating its coke oven battery, cold mill and Z-Line coating operations, all to serve the needs of its steelmaking plants in the United States. Surma added the company is operating at about 84 per cent of its North American steel capacity and about 90 per cent of its U.S. capacity.

While the company won’t be making steel in Hamilton, Surma did have praise for the operations that remain in production.

“I was there not too long ago and the cold mill is going great,” he said. “It’s a terrific mill and the employees are terrific and glad to be back at work. It’s as clean as a whistle and running well.”

Industry analyst Chuck Bradford, who took part in the company conference call, said the decision to keep Hamilton on the steelmaking sidelines just reinforces the plant’s position as a second-string player on the U.S. Steel team — a role that’s unlikely to change without a major investment.

“It all gets back to the idea that, without a hot mill, Hamilton can only make steel slabs and the company can’t make use of any more slabs unless there’s a really good market,” he said. “If the company is operating at 90 per cent, then it doesn’t need any more slabs and that’s the whole problem with that mill.”

A hot mill for Hamilton, he added, would cost about $500 million.

University of Toronto steel expert Peter Warrian, in an email exchange, said he wasn’t surprised by the company’s action. He noted steel production across North America is up about 10 per cent over last year. “But everyone is expecting a slowdown in 2012 as economic growth falls from 3.5 per cent to 2.5 per cent or worse. Unfortunately, it confirms the picture of Hamilton Works as a standby steelmaking facility, even though their furnaces are younger than Lake Erie’s. It will take a substantial pickup in steel demand to get Hamilton to resuming steelmaking.”

The Hamilton Spectator

 

Photo from space shows lack of ice on Lake Michigan, Lake Superior

2/2 - An image of a nearly ice-free Lake Michigan and Lake Superior -- a rare sight in late January -- was captured Friday by a high-resolution satellite distributed by the National Weather Service.

"It's an incredible lack of ice this winter," the National Weather Service in Gaylord said.

"This is very unusual. Even Lake Superior is nearly ice free," said John Kowaleski, NWS meteorologist in Grand Rapids. The bright white at the tip of Lake Superior shows where ice has formed, he said.

Meanwhile, there is little ice on Lake Superior's Whitefish Bay, while ice in Lake Michigan's Green Bay was breaking up from last week's warmup. "If you squint at Green Bay, you see ice there, because it's more protected. Areas with less wave action ice up first," he said.

Even though ice around the Straits of Mackinac is relatively thin, on Saturday the U.S. Coast Guard freed two ships trapped by ice there: a 678-foot bulk carrier named the Manistee and the 90-foot ferry, Huron, with 68 people aboard.

The coloration along Michigan's west coast is sediment that comes off the rivers, Kowaleski said. There has been a few feet of ice building on the Lake Michigan shore in West Michigan, but before the satellite picks that up, it would need to stretch at least a half mile, he said.

The open water also leaves Michigan wide open for lake effect snow in February, whenever an arctic blast moves across the lake, forecasters say.

"If cold air moves in, we could get pretty significant lake effect snows. Sometimes we can even tap a little moisture and energy from Lake Superior, with the energy comes from the warmth of water," Kowaleski said.

Water temps are still around 40 degrees in southern Lake Michigan, he said. "We're not going to freeze anytime soon."

Lake Michigan last iced over completely during a winter in the late 1980s. It also happened in 1978, he said.     Click here to view the image

 

Water level plan is widely endorsed

2/2 - Brockville, Ont. – A draft plan to control water levels in Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River earned the wide support of Canadian and U.S. groups after Monday's release of the report by the International Joint Commission (IJC).

"(The new) plan will begin to reverse damage caused by years of destructive regulation," said Jennifer Caddick, executive director of Save The River, in a prepared statement.

Save The River is a 1,400- member strong organization with almost equal representation from Canadians and Americans who are dedicated to protecting the ecology of the upper St. Lawrence River. That organization and other stakeholders received an early look at the draft plan last fall and Save The River continues to support the new objectives after viewing the entire document, said Caddick.

The proposal, titled Plan BV7 because it is the seventh version of a popular 'B' plan originally considered in 2007, aims to restore a more natural flow to the river and address environmental concerns as a priority.

Caddick said the plan will enrich the quality of life for river residents who will benefit from improvements for recreational boating opportunities, as well as hunting and fishing endeavours. Moreover, the plan strikes a balance that will also appeal to commercial shippers and hydro-electric producers, she said, adding Save The River urges residents and governments on both sides of the border to support the adoption of the proposal.

Statements of support were also released Monday by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Canada, and the central and western New York State chapter of the Nature Conservancy.

During an IJC teleconference Monday announcing the release of the draft report, public affairs officer Frank Bevacqua said the impact of the proposed plan would be felt mostly in the Lake Ontario-Upper St. Lawrence River part of the international waterway.

Any changes in the lower St. Lawrence around Montreal and Lake St. Louis should be minimal, said Bevacqua. For instance, the minimum level of Lake Ontario waters under the proposed plan is about four inches less than the current depth minimum of 242 feet, said Bevacqua.

Simlarly, the maximum level will be about 2.4 inches higher than the current maximum of 248.3 feet, he said.

On the upper St. Lawrence River, water levels near Ogdensburg and Alexandria Bay, N.Y. are projected to closely resemble current patterns, except during drought or heavy rain conditions, said Bevacqua.

In times of dry weather, water levels may run lower than allowed under the existing control plan, he said. On the other hand, the existing routine of drawing water out of the upper St. Lawrence in late summer and early fall will not continue, allowing for a longer recreational boating season, he added. "The important thing to remember is the magnitude and direction of the change is more important than the precise numbers," he told the teleconference.

Bevacqua said the proposed plan should result in a 40 per cent increase in wetland meadows vital to fish and wildlife species, reversing a 50 per cent decline under the current control plan established in 1952.

He said public consultations will begin this spring at dates to be announced, with a goal of implementing the plan late this year or in 2013. The plan also calls for ongoing monitoring by participants on both sides of the border, led by Environment Canada and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, to ensure the objectives are being achieved, he said.

Brockville Recorder and Times

 

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.

 

Community group pondering role in salvage of former Canadian Miner off Nova Scotia coast

2/1 - The ongoing crisis surrounding a wrecked bulk carrier stranded off Cape Breton has local community members getting involved in the salvage process.

The Main-a-Dieu Community Development Association, a nonprofit organization representing communities in Cape Breton, hosted an emergency meeting Monday night to discuss how to salvage the MV Miner, which ran aground off Scaterie Island on Sept. 20. The island is a provincially-designated wilderness management area.

Fishermen, MLAs, city councillors and officials from Nova Scotia‚s environment and natural resources departments were among the 100 people who attended the meeting in Louisbourg, N.S., reported the Cape Breton Post. Some community members suggested local input would help salvage companies do a better job

Arivina Navigation, which owns the Miner, entered into a joint venture with salvage companies Bennington Group and Armada Offshore. They will visit Scaterie Island in mid-February to assess the wreck, the Post said.

Local politicians and organizations have been lobbying the federal government to create a plan to quickly and safely remove the Miner to minimize environmental damage from leaking fuel and waste water.

“This is the responsibility of the federal government,” Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter said in October. “They at least need to engage us on the manner in which it’s going to be dealt with and that’s not happening.”

The cost of removing the 230-metre-long carrier could hit $24 million because it would have to be cut up into pieces to be salvaged, Dexter added. The Miner was being towed from Montreal to a scrap yard in Turkey when it broke free in rough seas and got stranded on a shoal.

Toronto Star

 

Port Reports -  February 1

Owen Sound, Ont.
Algomarine departed Owen Sound at 11 a.m. Tuesday for Goderich to load salt.

Detroit, Mich. - Ken Borg
Calumet was unloading salt at Morton Dock on Rouge River below Fort Street in Detroit on a nice winter Tuesday.

Quebec City
A freshly-painted Spruceglen has entered winter layup at pier 28-29 in Quebec City. With the help of the tugs of Group Ocean, Spruceglen slid into its birth behind the Atlantic Erie.

 

Feds propose a fuel exemption for steamships that switch to diesel engines

2/1 - The EPA is dangling a carrot in front of Great Lakes steamship owners to phase out engines that emit high levels of pollutants. The federal agency is proposing steamships that convert from steam to diesel engines be allowed to use residual fuel through 2025, a fuel high in sulfur.

Great Lakes steamships are already exempt from sulfur limits coming this August to the Great Lakes. Their old engines can’t handle the lower sulfur fuels. But if they switch to the cleaner burning diesel engines, they would no longer be steamships. They’d lose their exemption.

So the feds hope that continuing to let them use cheap, higher sulfur fuel will offset the costs of switching to the diesel engines. The environment would benefit because the EPA says steam engines use 30 to 50 percent more fuel than diesel engines, leading to higher sulfur dioxide and particulate matter emissions.

While residual fuel use is declining in the U.S., its use has remained steady in transportation, mostly used in ships.

There are 13 U.S. steamships in the Great Lakes, all built between 1942 and 1960. Operating in freshwater rather than in the corrosive salt of the oceans allows them to continue to operate at an advanced age with old technology.

Twelve of the Great Lakes steam vessels burn residual fuel and another burns coal to produce the steam that rotates their propellers.

The agency estimates that sulfur dioxide emissions would drop about 34 percent for steamships that switched to diesel engines even if they stayed on residual fuel. But after 2025, the EPA estimates the repowered ships’ emissions would reduce by 97 percent when the low sulfur fuel requirements would kick in.

Some costs of switching engines can be recovered through fuel savings and efficiency but with more stringent sulfur emission standards on the way, the compliant fuels will be more expensive.

Some ship owners are already there. The Interlake Steamship Co. has converted the Hon. James L. Oberstar to diesel engines and replaced the original diesel engines in the Paul R. Tregurtha.

“The ships were getting older so we looked at long term maintenance, and the cost and ability of us to maintain them,” said Mark Barker, president of Interlake Steamship Co. “And we decided to move forward with the switch.”

There were no federal incentives to repower the ships, Barker said. He wouldn’t speak to fuel savings or the costs of repowering. But the company is converting yet another steamship to diesel.

The switch isn’t cheap – approximately $15 to $20 million, which is about 20 percent of a new ship’s cost. Steam engines are a prominent part of the ship and the hull has to be cut away. Barker said workers cut a hole in the top of the Interlake boats to get to the engine room.

The most infamous steamship, the S.S. Badger, is the one using coal. It doesn’t seem the proposal will affect the Badger as conversion apparently isn’t under consideration

Lake Michigan Carferry is seeking a permit to keep the Badger operating on coal.

“We’re working with the EPA to get an individual permit … it would allow us a timeline of five years to continue using best available technology,” said Lynda Matson, vice president of customer service and marketing for Lake Michigan Carferry. “And hopefully in those five years we could come up with a solution.”

It is unclear if the feds’ offer appeals to other Great Lakes steamship owners. They couldn’t be reached for comment.

The public can submit comments on the proposal until Feb. 17.

Great Lakes Echo

 

Auctioneer to settle Oakville refinery claims

2/1 - Hamilton, Ont. – After six years in limbo on a Port of Hamilton wharf, an auctioneer’s virtual hammer will ring down later this year to end an ill-fated plan to move a Canadian oil refinery to Pakistan.

The online auction by a firm in Texas will sell what remains of the former Petro-Canada Oakville refinery to pay Hamilton-based Great Lakes Stevedoring for loading the assortment of pipes, drums and other components onto ships.

“The material was bought for shipment, some of it went out and then the owners got into financial difficulty and never came to get the rest,” said Montreal lawyer John O’Connor of the firm Langlois Gaudreau O’Connor. “There were promises to pay and then they just disappeared.”

One auction of material was held just before Christmas and another is planned, likely this spring.

“The owners had debts and couldn’t pay them,” he said. “Whoever buys this will get clear and clean title and sometime in 2012 this whole story will disappear.”

Until 2005 the piles of metal were a working refinery on the border between Oakville and Burlington where 350 workers turned crude oil into gasoline and other products. That ended when Petro-Canada decided the $300-million cost of meeting new environmental standards was too high.

The plant was sold to a pair of Middle Eastern oil firms — PSI Energy (BSC) and PSI (Middle East) LLC, based in Bahrain and Dubai. The refinery was carefully dismantled, its 100,000 cubic metres of components were labeled and numbered and moved to the port of Hamilton where they were to be shipped to Pakistan.

Oakville-based Convoy Logistics Providers was given a contract worth up to $20 million to arrange that shipping. At the time, CLP owner Dona Asciak Fletcher estimated the project would require up to eight ships and take as long as two years.

By June of 2007 at least three shipments had been completed, amounting to about 65 per cent of the material, but then the owners stopped paying their bills, leaving components on two continents that, by themselves, were nothing more than piles of spare parts and scrap metal.

Hamilton Spectator

 

Report proposes dividing Great Lakes, Mississippi

2/1 - Groups representing states and cities in the Great Lakes region on Tuesday proposed spending up to $9.5 billion on a massive engineering project to separate the lakes from the Mississippi River watershed in the Chicago area, describing it as the only sure way to protect both aquatic systems from invasions by destructive species such as Asian carp.

The organizations issued a report suggesting three alternatives for severing an artificial link between the two drainage basins that was constructed more than a century ago. Scientists say it has already provided a pathway for exotic species and is the likeliest route through which menacing carp could reach the lakes, where they could destabilize food webs and threaten a valuable fishing industry.

"We simply can't afford to risk that," said Tim Eder, executive director of the Great Lakes Commission, which sponsored the study with the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative. "The Great Lakes have suffered immensely because of invasive species. We have to put a stop to this."

The report's release is sure to ramp up pressure on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is conducting its own study of how to close off 18 potential pathways between the two systems, including the Chicago waterways. The corps plans to release its findings in late 2015, a timetable it says is necessary because of the job's complexity and regulatory requirements. A pending federal lawsuit by five states — Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Ohio and Pennsylvania — demands quicker action.

"This study shows that hydrological separation is both technically and economically feasible," said Rep. Dave Camp, a Michigan Republican.

A spokeswoman said the corps would not comment until it could review the report.

The project that linked the two drainage basins began in the 1890s when engineers reversed the flow of the Chicago River to flush sewage away from the city and into a newly built, 28-mile-long canal that created a connection between Lake Michigan and the Illinois River, a tributary of the Mississippi. It is now a network of rivers, locks and canals.

In their report, the two groups call for placing barriers at key points to cut off the flow of water between the two drainage basins by 2029.

One alternative would put barriers in five locations near Lake Michigan. Another would erect a single barrier in the ship canal before it branches off into connecting waterways. A third plan would use four barriers.

The report does not express a preference but says the four-barrier plan would cost less than the others — between $3.26 billion and $4.27 billion. That plan, the report says, would cause less disruption of waterborne commerce and fewer problems with flood and stormwater control, all of which opponents contend would result from dividing the two systems. It also comes closest to restoring the natural divide between the watersheds, said David Ullrich, executive director of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative.

The report doesn't make a detailed proposal for covering the costs but says the four-barrier plan could be done if the average household in the Great Lakes basin paid about $1 a month through 2059.

The five-barrier and single-barrier plans' price tags could reach about $9.5 billion.

Despite the high cost, the report's sponsors said the project would save money in the long run by shielding both systems from species invasions. Zebra and quagga mussels and sea lamprey already have exacted a heavy toll on the Great Lakes economy, and the region's leaders fear the Asian carp could make things much worse.

"Yes, it's expensive. But the cost of doing nothing is greater," Ullrich said.

Asian carp escaped from Southern fish farms and sewage treatment plants decades ago and migrated up the Mississippi and its tributaries, gobbling up plankton that is essential for other nourishing other fish.

The study, commissioned by the two groups and developed by a private engineering firm, will make the idea of separation easier for people in the region to grasp, said Joel Brammeier, president of the Alliance for the Great Lakes, a Chicago-based environmental group.

"It's a natural, practical, on-the-ground map of how to get it done," Brammeier said.

Mark Biel, chairman of an Illinois business coalition called UnLock Our Jobs that opposes separating the watersheds, said the Great Lakes groups' proposals would take many years to carry out and would devastate cargo shipping and pleasure boating in the Chicago area while doing nothing to prevent species invasions elsewhere.

"Calling this a solution is ludicrous," Biel said.

But the report's authors said their plan envisions upgrades to docks and other infrastructure that, in the long run, would boost water commerce while improving water quality and flood protection. The barriers themselves would make up just 3 percent of the total cost.

The Army Corps of Engineers contends an electric barrier in the shipping canal is preventing Asian carp and other fish from swimming upstream toward Lake Michigan, although carp DNA has been found beyond the device. Eder said the barrier is a good temporary measure, but not a permanent solution.

"It's kind of like the old Clint Eastwood adage, 'How lucky do you feel?'" he said. "We can take chances that the electric barrier and other measures will work, but I don't think we should."

Associated Press

 

Michigan DNR seeks volunteer lighthouse keepers for Tawas Point

2/1 - If you're ever had thoughts of living the dream of a more romantic era as a lighthouse keeper, perhaps your dreams can come true.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is looking for people who want to work a couple of weeks as the lighthouse keeper for the Tawas Point Lighthouse this year.

This opportunity is on a volunteer basis.

Actually, you would have to pay $250 each week to use the living quarters, which includes 2 bedrooms and an updated kitchen and bath. But, you would have the chance to take care of the lighthouse, the museum gift shop and give tours.

About the only restrictions to become part of this program are that you have to be at least 18 years old and physically capable of giving the tours and performing the duties, which include some maintenance and looking after the lawn. The program accepts singles and couples.

This idea has worked well in the past for those looking to take a different kind of vacation. You have the opportunity to view Lake Huron from a beautiful and unique perspective. Dates available usually fall between April until Christmas.

The lighthouse is located at the Tawas Pointe State Park and the recreation supervisor at the park, Chuck Allen, says, "The lighthouse has been in operation since 1876 and is one of only nine lighthouses on the Great Lakes with a working Fresnel lens and still an active aid to navigation."

You can get an application and find out more at: www.michigan.gov/tawaslighthouse ,or, by calling (989) 362-5658

WXYZ Detroit

 

Updates -  February 1

New Video on our YouTube Channel
 

 

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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