Great Lakes & Seaway Shipping News Archive

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Coal ash ruling looms as ferry companies feud

2/28 - Traverse City, Mich. – On one level, it’s a straightforward case of a business seeking a government permit to discharge wastewater.

But when the Environmental Protection Agency rules shortly on whether to let the SS Badger car ferry continue dumping ash into Lake Michigan, it will be a milestone in a decades-old effort to keep afloat the last coal-fired steamship operating on U.S. waters. It also will stoke a nasty feud that has extended from social media to Congress.

The EPA is expected to announce a tentative decision in March on a request from Lake Michigan Carferry Inc., owner of the 410-foot Badger, which hauls about 100,000 passengers and 30,000 vehicles across the lake between May and October. EPA ordered the company in 2008 to stop dumping the ash slurry and granted a four-year grace period, which expired in December, to find another disposal method or fuel source.

The company said it’s looking at a switch to liquefied natural gas or an onboard ash storage system but needs more time. So unless regulators give in, the Badger might be grounded, although the company publicly is optimistic it will get its permit.

The ferry “is looking forward to providing great experiences for our customers in 2013 and many years to come,” spokeswoman Terri Brown said Tuesday, adding that its sailing season will begin a couple weeks early this year to handle a cargo of wind turbines.

As the EPA has weighed the application, more than 6,000 unsolicited calls and letters have rolled in, a remarkable display of interest in a single vessel when dozens of large cargo ships and thousands of pleasure boats traverse the Great Lakes.

What sets the Badger apart? It’s a cultural icon and a tourist draw in its homeport of Ludington, while environmentalists consider it a scourge that dumps more than 500 tons of ash containing mercury, arsenic and other contaminants into the lake each season.

It also has a not-so-friendly relationship with a rival ferry company that has made the issue bitterly personal as well as political.

Launched 60 years ago to haul rail cars across the Great Lakes, the Badger was spared from the scrapyard in the late 1980s when an entrepreneur bought and refurbished it as a passenger ship. It offers a four-hour cruise across 60 miles of open water, an alternative to driving between Michigan and Wisconsin by way of crowded Chicago.

After starting service between Ludington and Manitowoc, Wis., Lake Michigan Carferry proposed getting a second vessel for a route farther south between Milwaukee and Muskegon, Mich. But local officials instead reached a deal with a rival ferry company, Lake Express, that could make the crossing in a diesel-powered catamaran in about 2½ hours. It began operating in 2004.

The companies since have swapped accusations of preferential treatment from government. They or their supporters have exchanged volleys in newspapers, social media and advertising, and have hired lobbyists and drawn in leading politicians.

“We try very hard to be respectful,” said Aaron Schultz, spokesman for Lake Express. “But it is a competitive relationship and we compete accordingly.”

Robert Manglitz, president of Lake Michigan Carferry, complained that Lake Express was offered lower docking fees and received a federal subsidy to get started, although Lake Express said its only federal help was a loan guarantee. Milwaukee officials denied favoritism saying the Badger team didn’t want competition.

After the EPA issued tougher Clean Water Act rules in 2008, Lake Express fought Carferry’s attempt to get the Badger permanently exempted as a National Historic Landmark. Sen. Richard Durbin of Illinois, the Senate’s second-ranking Democrat, also objected. “Special treatment for a polluter,” Lake Express’ lobbyist, Bill Broydrick, said as the debate raged. A Badger spokeswoman retorted that Lake Express only was interested in scuttling its competition.

With the EPA decision imminent, the volleys between the two sides continue.

Lynne Stechschulte, a Ludington developer of tourism websites, accused Lake Express of slipping anti-Badger ads onto her sites and trying to conceal their origin.

“It’s like a smear campaign,” she said. Schultz responded that Lake Express “has never engaged in misinformation campaigns.”

An organization called “Save Our Ship: SS Badger” is running a social media campaign while an opposition group, “Save Our Great Lakes,” sponsors a website and handed out small bags of coal at the state Capitol last May.

An EPA spokesman said that regardless of what the agency proposes, the public will get a chance to comment before a final ruling.

AP

 

Donations sought for Port Huron memorial bench for Lady Pirate

2/28 - A special bank account has been opened to manage donations for a memorial bench designated to the honor the late Boatnerd Violet Mae Bostwick (aka) "Lady Pirate," who passed away earlier this year. The bench will be constructed and located along the St. Clair River close to the Boatnerd World Headquarters and a part of the new River Walk construction project. The bench will be located at the main entrance to Rotary Park, just south of the current Great Lakes Maritime Center. A short tribute and a depiction of her favorite boat, the George A. Stinson, will be included with the custom construction.

Andy Severson has stepped forward to manage the fund. Donation checks must be made out to "Andy Severson". Please include on the check memo Violet's Bench. All donations will be appreciated. The completed cost has been estimated at approximately $3,000 and will be of the same design planned for the upcoming River Walk final approved architects design.

Mail Donations to:
Andrew Severson
22712 Detour
St. Clair Shores, MI 48082-2425

 

Today in Great Lakes History -  February 28

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 lighthouse 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.

1965: The bow section of the tanker STOLT DAGALI, broken in two due to a collision with the passenger liner SHALOM on November 26, 1964, departed New York for Gothenburg, Sweden, under tow to be rebuilt. The ship had been a Seaway trader as a) DAGALI in 1961, 1962 and 1963.

1974: The Dutch freighter AMPENAN visited the Great Lakes in 1960 and 1961. It arrived at Busan, South Korea, for scrapping as c) OCEAN REX.

1995: CHEM PEGASUS, a Seaway trader as far as Hamilton in 2012, was launched on this date as a) SPRING LEO.

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

 

Badger to sail even if permit decision isn't reached

2/27 - Ludington, Mich. – Lake Michigan Carferry intends to start its 2013 sailing May 6 — two weeks earlier than its announced start of the 2013 season — due to continued demand to transport wind tower sections, manufactured by Broadwind Energy, in Manitowoc, Wisconsin and destined for wind generation plants in Michigan.

And it plans to do so even if the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has not yet ruled on its application for a new Clean Water Act discharge permit.

“LMC continues to work closely with the EPA on a plan, which will permanently eliminate ash discharge,” according to a statement from LMC. “We have been working under the legal counsel of the nationally renowned law firm of K.L Gates to assist us through this process.”

According to LMC, “Under federal laws, anyone who applies for a new permit to replace an expiring one like LMC has done is specifically allowed by law to keep operating under the expired permit until a final decision is made on the new permit. This is done frequently. Every year there are as many as 10,000 companies operating under expired permits like the Badger’s, while their permits are being considered.”

The EPA’s only comment remains, “The 2008 Vessel General Permit authorization for the discharge of coal-ash slurry from a coal-fired ferry expired on Dec. 19, 2012. EPA is reviewing Lake Michigan Carferry’s application for an individual Clean Water Act discharge permit for the SS Badger. EPA’s decision is anticipated in March 2013. The Agency will seek public comment before making a final decision.

“To date, EPA has received over 6,000 calls and letters about the operation of the S.S. Badger.”

“That both LMC and EPA continue to work together to find a solution that works to keep the carferry operating and satisfies the EPA environmental concerns — debatable, but (present) — is important,” Ludington Mayor John Henderson told the Ludington Daily News Tuesday morning. He said 200 American jobs are directly at stake in something being worked out and upwards of 700 jobs indirectly are at risk.

“The operation of the SS Badger to the economies of Ludington and Manitowoc is substantial. There are 125,000 passengers who cross there in a five-month season,” Henderson said.

The Badger is currently authorized to discharge under the EPA’s 2008 National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Vessel General Permit issued in December 2008. One of these provisions authorized the discharge of coal-ash slurry from coal-fired propulsion systems until Dec. 19, 2012.

The Badger’s season was extended last year in order to ship wind turbine tower parts. According to LMC, “The Badger is well suited for transporting the huge wind tower sections, and the 80 sections being transported during the two week early season will save over 24,000 driving miles, 6,000 gallons of fuel, and eliminate traffic congestion.”

“The Badger transported more that 500 wind tower sections last year and this early season opportunity will allow us to improve on that number in 2013, Pat McCarthy, vice president of shore operations, said.

The Badger transports thousands of passengers and their vehicles each year, contributing significantly to the economies of both Michigan and Wisconsin. LMC no longer provides totals of vehicles transported.

“The Badger has a tremendous impact on our local tourism economy and the ability of the big ship to transport over-dimensional wind tower sections is an important benefit to our local ‘green” manufacturing industry,’” Manitowoc, Wisconsin Mayor Justin Nickels stated.

Ludington Daily News

 

Saugatuck now on state list for emergency dredging funds

2/27 - Saugatuck, Mich. – The tide may have turned for some of Saugatuck’s short-term dredging woes. The Allegan County port was recently put on a $21 million list to be eligible for emergency dredging funds after it was originally left off.

“Saugatuck will be on the list,” said state Rep. Bob Genetski. The money is not yet approved, but, Genetski said, “It looks really good.”

The lawmaker said he could not support the supplemental funding bill the monies are attached to if Saugatuck was not included.

The state announced earlier this month a list of harbors in need of emergency dredging. Saugatuck was not among them because it did not have public marinas or state-owned facilities. The harbor does have state-funded boat ramps and locations for transient boaters.

Felicia Fairchild, executive director of the Saugatuck Douglas Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Genetski took their case to state officials, saying the area contributes $255 million to the economy each season. If a scheduled cruise ship had to cancel its visits to Saugatuck due to low water levels, the state would get a black eye in the tourism industry.

“Disrupting their 2013 Great Lakes cruise schedule at this late date would not be good publicity for this state or for Saugatuck,” she wrote to the House Committee of Tourism. “It’s all about the ship coming in,” Fairchild said. “The ship sealed the deal.”

The Yorktown is scheduled to visit the city seven times this year.

The emergency money would fund dredging from the channel from Lake Michigan to Coral Gables, the area traditionally cleared by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The funds would not be used to deepen Kalamazoo Lake.

The Kalamazoo Lake Harbor Authority is working to raise $2 million to dredge parts of Kalamazoo Lake that are becoming too shallow for recreational boating. The group is also addressing the long-term causes of the siltation.

Gov. Rick Snyder has proposed $11.5 million in the 2013 state budget for dredging. The State Waterways Commission is redirecting more than $9 million of its funding into dredging. No local matches will be required to get the state funds.

The Holland Sentinel

 

Great Lakes Shipwreck Festival to examine mysteries of the deep

2/27 - Ann Arbor, Mich. - Explore the mysteries and tragedies of the water at the 32nd Great Lakes Shipwreck Festival on Saturday at Washtenaw Community College in Ann Arbor.

Learn about the formerly-unsolved mysteries of shipwrecks, including the story of the "New York" lost in Lake Huron in 1910 and the loss of the tug "Anna Dobbins" in Saginaw Bay in 1886. Hear the story of the "Keystone State," a large wooden steamer that disappeared with its entire crew in 1861, and many other fascinating stories of Michigan's lakes. Other programs will feature a variety of international dives from the Philippines and south-central Indonesia. There will also be video and still images of colorful and unusual marine life.

The event, which runs from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. in Washtenaw Community Colleges Morris Lawrence Building, 4800 E. Huron River Dr., also includes book signings and exhibits from local maritime artists, the Dossin Great Lakes Museum, local dive shops, travel companies and other dive-related companies. Doors open at 8:30 a.m. $20 in advance and $25 at the door. For ticket information or program details, visit www.shipwreckfestival.org or call 734-459-8476.

 

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 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.

1917: GEORGETOWN was built at Buffalo in 1900 and sank on this day enroute from New York to Le Havre in heavy weather while carrying barreled oil. The ship went down as b) ETRETAT off Ile D'Yeu, Bay of Biscay, and there was lingering suspicion of enemy action being involved.

1966: 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 was 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.

 

Thick ice diverts Algoma Enterprise from Buffalo to lay-up in Port Colborne

2/26 - Efforts by the Canadian Coast Guard ship Griffon and U.S.C.G. cutter Neah Bay to break ice for Algoma Enterprise’s arrival Sunday at Lackawanna with a cargo of road salt were abandoned Monday due to heavy ice conditions on Lake Erie. Algoma Enterprise diverted to Port Colborne, with Griffon assisting, and tied up at wharf 18.2 while the Griffon went to Wharf 17, the old Canada Furnace Dock. The Enterprise entered lay-up in Port Colborne after unloading her cargo in port. Heavy ice conditions like those experienced off Buffalo, can change with the wind. Several days of easterly winds could push the ice out into the lake, opening the port.

On Monday, the U.S. Coast Guard reported that the ice-breaking operations at Buffalo had been cancelled due to ice. The U.S.C.G. cutter Neah Bay and Canadian Coast Guard Ship Griffon both encountered heavy brash ice reported to be five feet thick offshore.

 

Badger season to begin 2 weeks earlier

2/26 - Ludington, Mich. – The S.S. Badger will begin the 2013 sailing season on May 6th; two weeks earlier than the previously announced May 17th start date. The expanded season is in response to a request to transport over-dimensional loads of wind tower sections manufactured by Broadwind Energy, located in Manitowoc Wis., and destined for wind generation projects in Michigan.

According to Pat McCarthy, VP of Shore Operations, the Badger transported more that 500 wind tower sections last year and this early season opportunity will allow them to improve on that number in 2013. He said the Badger is well-suited for transporting the huge wind tower sections, and the 80 sections being transported during the two-week early season will save over 24,000 driving miles, 6,000 gallons of fuel, and eliminate traffic congestion.

The full complement of Badger amenities will also be available for passengers beginning on May 6. The S.S. Badger is celebrating her 60th anniversary this season and special pre-season anniversary pricing on passenger and vehicle fares is being offered for reservations booked before April 1. To take advantage of the pre-season special call 1-800-841-4243.

Lake Michigan Carferry

 

Big ship's captain worked his way to the top

2/26 - Owen Sound, Ont. – Believed to be the largest ship to ever tie up at Owen Sound, the Canada Steamship Lines' CSL Niagara was berthed by a captain with strong ties to the area.

Capt. Duane Dempsey backed the 739-foot self-unloading bulk carrier into port on Jan. 17. He said he waited out a snowstorm before berthing the ship, which was done as a strong wind blew from the north.

"She went in there beautiful but the water level was my concern," the 42-year-old said in a telephone interview from his home in Hamilton.

Dempsey was born in St. Catharines and lived in Williamsford as a young child. He later moved to southern Ontario but spent most summers of his childhood in Owen Sound, home to several family members. He also spent time at a cottage in Tobermory.

Dempsey has worked for Canada Steamship Lines since he was 17 years old. He worked his way up from porter to deck hand to second mate to first mate. Last year was his first as a full-time captain.

Over the years he has taken courses at Georgian College's Owen Sound campus.

Owen Sound harbourmaster Capt. Gord MacNeill said the CSL Niagara is most likely the largest ship to winter in Owen Sound.

The vessel, which last unloaded iron ore at U.S. Steel Canada in Nanticoke, Ont., has a breadth of almost 34 metres (78 feet) and depth of 14.6 m (48 feet). It is scheduled to leave the Owen Sound on March 22 or 23 as soon as the Great Lakes navigation season begins. The ship is expected to be one of the first to pass through the locks at Sault. Ste. Marie once the facility opens March 25, said CSL communications director Brigitte Hebert.

In other shipping news, two local captains -- Seann O'Donoughue and Ray Schrempf -- are undergoing extensive training as they prepare to bring two new Algoma Equinox Class ships from China to Canada later this year.

O'Donoughue said he will navigate the Algoma Marquis, while Schrempf will captain the Algoma Strongfield. O'Donoughue said it will take about two months to bring the ships from China to the Great Lakes.

The new Equinox Class ships are 45% more energy efficient than vessels in Algoma's current fleet. They are also more environmentally friendly and are built with an exhaust gas scrubber that is expected to remove 97% of all sulphur oxides from shipboard emissions, according to Algoma Central Corp.

The Owen Sound Sun Times

 

2013 freighter trip raffle winners announced in Toronto

2/26 - The 2013 ISMA Freighter Trip Raffle was held in Toronto on Feb. 23 at the Annual Toronto Brigantine Pirates Ball fundraising event. The winners are:

1st prize: Guy Numanville, of Wasaga Beach, Ontario
2nd prize: Sue Buckland, Wiarton, Ontario
3rd prize: Warren Jones, Owen Sound, Ontario
4th Prize: Elaine Mardirosan, Grosse Point Park, Michigan
5th prize: Jennifer Sellars, Etobicoke, Ontario
6th prize : Dave Rowland, Lowbanks Ontario

The 3rd and 4th and 5th prize tickets were sold through the Great Lakes and Seaway Shipping (Boatnerd) web page.

Proceeds for the raffle will support the Georgian College Cadet Scholarship program, Toronto Brigantine sail training for youth, and Adventure Education. The International Shipmasters Association would like to thank everyone for purchasing tickets, to thank the volunteer ticket sellers, and for the endorsements received for the programs it supports.

 

Updates -  February 26

Weekly Website Updates
News Photo Gallery
 

 

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 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.

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

1947: The T-2 tanker ROYAL OAK came to the Great Lakes in 1966 as b) TRANSBAY and was rebuilt at Lorain. The vessel departed later in the year as c) TRANSHURON. But as a) ROYAL OAK, it caught fire on this day in the Pacific off Esmeraldas, Ecuador, and had to be abandoned by the crew. The vessel was later reboarded and the fires extinguished. The listing vessel almost sank but it was salvaged and rebuilt for Cities Service Oil.

1965: The Liberty ship BASIL II came through the Seaway in 1960. It ran aground on a reef off New Caledonia as d) EVER PROSPERITY. The vessel was traveling in ballast and had to be abandoned as a total loss.

1981: A spark from a welder's torch ignited a blaze aboard the MONTCLIFFE HALL undergoing winter work at Sarnia. The fire did major damage to the pilothouse and accommodation area but the repairs were completed in time for the ship to resume trading on May 27, 1981. It was still sailing in 2012 as d) CEDARGLEN (ii).

1986: ANGELA SMITS, a Seaway trader for the first time in 1983, developed a severe list and was abandoned by the crew on a voyage from Norway to Australia. The hull was sighted, semi-submerged, later in the day in position 47.38 N / 07.36 W and was believed to have sunk in the Atlantic.

1998: The Abitibi tug NIPIGON was active on Lake Superior and often towed log booms from the time it was built at Sorel in 1938 until perhaps the 1960s. The vessel also saw work on construction projects for different owners, and left the Seaway for the sea on December 12, 1988. It was operating as b) FLORIDA SEAHORSE when it sank in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana. All 5 on board were rescued.

2011: Fire broke out on the bridge of DINTELBORG while enroute from the Netherlands to Virginia. The ship was taken in tow the next day by the ROWAN M. McALLISTER out of Providence, R.I. The repaired Dutch freighter was back through the Seaway later in 2011. The tug was also a Seaway caller in 2012, coming inland to tow the fire ravaged PATRICE McALLISTER back to Providence.

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.

 

Convoy crosses Lake Erie Sunday, finds ice 5 feet thick

2/25 - 4 p.m. update - At 2 p.m. the Griffon was escorting the Algoma Enterprise into Port Colborne. The Enterprise backed through the ice while the Griffon broke a track to the old fuel dock, arriving about 4 p.m. Griffon is at Wharf 17, the old Canada Furnace Dock, and Algoma Enterprise is at Wharf 18.2, just beyond the Fuel Dock.

It is unknown how long the Enterprise will remain in Port Colborne. Heavy ice conditions like those experienced off Buffalo can change with the wind. Several days of easterly winds can push the ice out into the lake opening the port.

Noon update - The U.S. Coast Guard reported that the ice-breaking operations at Buffalo has been cancelled due to brash ice. The Neah Bay and Canadian Coast Guard Ship Griffon both encountered heavy brash ice reported to be 5-feet thick offshore and made very little progress in clearing a channel to the port Sunday evening. Monday at noon the Griffon and Algoma Enterprise remained stopped off Buffalo.

Original report - Sunday morning a convoy was on its way across Lake Erie. The U.S. Coast Guard ice breaker Neah Bay was leading the Algoma Enterprise, closely followed by the Canadian Coast Guard's Griffon that was also escorting the tug Victorious and barge John J Carrick. The four vessels were all in line at mid-lake, just off Ashtabula, at 7 a.m.

By 2:30 p.m. Sunday, it was evident the Griffon was escorting the Victorious into Nanticoke while the Neah Bay was headed for Buffalo with the Algoma Enterprise. Neah Bay was about 2,000 feet ahead of the Enterprise, with the Griffon about 4 miles behind, and the Victorious following the Griffon at a distance of about 2 miles. The ships were making different speeds at different times as they came down the lake.

At 4:15 p.m., the ice breaking operation into Lackawanna had slowed to a crawl. The Neah Bay was working her way through the ice off Buffalo by backing and ramming while the Algoma Enterprise had come to a stop a few miles behind her, near Point Abino.

Sunday evening the Neah Bay had stopped operations for the night and was sitting about five miles off the South Entrance while the Griffon was enroute to assist.

The U.S. Coast Guard was advising that ice-breaking operations scheduled to be conducted in the area of Buffalo Outer Harbor and Southern Approach Channel to the Port of Buffalo Sunday were being delayed for 12-14 hours due to brash ice in the area. The Neah Bay was expected to break out the harbor at first light Monday, but departed the area westbound late Sunday night leaving the Griffon to complete the escort.

The Algoma Enterprise is heading to the Port of Buffalo in Lackawanna, N.Y., to deliver a load of road salt.

Brian W.

 

Superior refinery owner delves into details of shipping oil on Great Lakes

2/25 - Duluth, Minn. – So much oil is being pumped out of western Canada and North Dakota these days that there isn’t enough room to fit it all into pipelines. Even with oil companies pouring the black gold into thousands of rail cars every day, and building new rail stations and laying track, rail cars can’t handle the load.

So officials at Calumet LLC, owners of the Superior oil refinery, are considering building a $25 million crude oil transfer dock in Superior, where oil would be loaded onto tankers and barges and moved across the Great Lakes to refineries in Ontario, Michigan, Ohio and even the East Coast.

Despite concerns about potential environmental catastrophe, Calumet seems well on its way to moving oil out of the Twin Ports by boat.

Calumet will seek permits and do preliminary work this year and would conduct dredging, dock, pipeline and storage construction in 2014 and be ready to ship oil by March 2015. It’s estimated that, because of the small size of the supply pipeline, the terminal could fill a single tanker or barge about once every three or four days.

If the dock is built, it won’t be the first time oil has been shipped through the Twin Ports.

Before the Superior refinery opened in 1951, served by a pipeline from western Canada, most of the gas and diesel used in the area came here by tanker boat. And after the pipeline was built, Alberta crude was often shipped out of the Twin Ports by tanker. The last big loads of petroleum coming into Superior, Amoco gasoline, ended in 1992.

“Everything old is new again,” said Dave Podratz, general manager of Calumet operations in Superior.

The idea of a Superior terminal was first made public by Calumet on Jan. 25. Since then, company officials have released more details about how the project might move forward and what it might look like.

Oil purchased by Calumet would run from Alberta and North Dakota to Superior over existing Enbridge Energy pipelines. Calumet would then move the oil into its own short pipeline system from the refinery area to a new waterfront facility at the former Georgia Pacific Plant. Calumet already has a lease agreement with Elkhorn Industries, which owns the site.

Calumet wouldn’t refine any of the oil transferred onto boats; it can make enough money simply transferring crude from pipeline to boats. At least for a few years.

The transfer from pipeline to water-based transportation makes sense because Enbridge can bring 500,000 more barrels a day into Superior than it can send out, Podratz said. And shipping by Great Lakes vessel is about one-third the cost of moving oil by rail car — about $3.50 a barrel compared to $9 a barrel for rail, according to Calumet’s estimates.

“The Upper Midwest is awash in oil. They have more oil than capacity to move it,” Podratz said in detailing the plan. “We have a window of opportunity here to help move it to market.”

Podratz said the Superior oil terminal will have a relatively short life expectancy — about five to 10 years after completion — because pipelines are still the fastest and cheapest way to move crude oil. Several companies, including Enbridge, have major pipeline expansions and new routes currently being planned.

“In fact, if Keystone XL goes ahead fast, this (Superior terminal project) probably goes away,” Podratz told the News Tribune. “Pipelines are still the easiest and cheapest way to move oil. They just can’t put pipelines in fast enough or to enough places to handle the supply right now.”

Railcars, barges and ships also can haul oil to more refineries than pipelines, allowing oil companies to sell to the highest bidders.

The idea was first raised a year ago by a shipping company and an Ontario refinery on Lake Erie that wanted more oil, Podratz said. That refinery eventually backed out, but Calumet liked the concept and has kept the ball rolling. Since Calumet issued a press release on the possible Superior terminal last month, Podratz has received calls from both refineries and the companies that own tankers and barges.

“There’s a lot of interest,” he said. “But no one has signed on yet.”

Part of the attraction is that North Dakota crude from the Bakken oil fields is trading at a deep discount compared to North Sea or even Gulf of Mexico crude — as much as $25 a barrel cheaper, making transportation costs much less of an issue in the Midwest.

North Dakota crude can be sent by rail car to the Gulf Coast more cheaply than oil produced in the Gulf Coast, Podratz noted. Western Canadian heavy oil is even cheaper, as much as $46 per barrel less.

“Transportation can be as much as 30 to 60 percent of the final cost of delivered raw materials, so it is easy to see the value in waterborne transport: three times better than rail, and trucks are really not even in the ballpark for long distances and high volumes,’’ said Dale Bergeron, maritime extension agent for Minnesota Sea Grant in Duluth.

“And imagine the chance for pollution and accidents when loading and unloading each rail car in a string of 120,” he said. “Handling cargo is like handling data. The more it is touched, the more errors and accidents occur.”

There’s already a small but viable pipeline from the refinery that runs north along Hill Avenue to the waterfront. The 6-inch, 1950s-vintage pipe needs some repairs but is still in good shape and is permitted to move oil, Podratz said.

Calumet would need permission to extend that line 1,500 feet to the Elkhorn docking site, where Calumet would build two 150,000-barrel storage tanks to hold oil to be loaded onto tankers or barges.

The tanks would be surrounded by a dike capable of holding all the contents if they should somehow spill. The company also would be required to have oil-containing booms to deploy if oil spilled in the bay.

Shipping oil and refined petroleum on the Great Lakes is nothing new.

In 2010, 3.7 million tons of oil and petroleum products were shipped either to or from U.S. Great Lakes ports, and much more that moved only between Canadian ports, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

A large amount of petroleum currently moves on Lake Superior through Thunder Bay, Ontario, by Great Lakes tankers. And millions of gallons of gasoline refined in Illinois are shipped out of Green Bay to move across Lake Michigan every year.

Podratz said his company’s investigations show ample fleet capacity on both the U.S. and Canadian sides of the lakes, noting Canadian tankers loaded in Superior would have to unload in Canada under U.S. maritime regulations. On the U.S. side, barges pushed by tug boats would be a common mode to move the crude oil to U.S. ports.

The typical tanker is just over 400 feet long and can hold about 77,000 barrels, such as the Algocanada, owned by Canada-based Algoma Tankers. A typical barge is about the same length and can hold up to 118,000 barrels. They must be pushed with a large tug.

The potential waterborne terminal would be the second big oil transfer expansion in recent years by the Superior refinery. Last year, Calumet completed a huge new rail car oil-loading terminal, adding 18,000 feet of new track in a $10 million project that allows them to fill 100-car unit trains with oil headed to eastern refineries. Calumet moved 160,000 barrels by rail out of Superior in January alone.

“We’re already moving oil out of pipelines and onto the rail system,’’ Podratz noted.

Critics of additional Great Lakes crude oil shipments say one disaster would be too much for an already-fragile ecosystem. They cite the massive cleanup and damage caused by the 2011 pipeline spill into the Calumet River near Lake Michigan.

While supporters of waterborne oil transport say shippers have a stellar history of safety, skeptics note that Alaska residents were told not to worry before the Exxon Valdez crash, as were Gulf Coast residents before the BP spill there.

“Everyone I’ve talked to is concerned about this idea. There’s potential for such a major problem if there’s a spill,” said Le Roger Lind, North Shore resident president of the Save Lake Superior Association. “It’s such a huge expense to clean them up, and they never really seem to get them completely cleaned up. … For such a small economic impact for our community, such a small number of actual jobs, the potential damage is just too much.”

The requirements for transporting oil on the Great Lakes became tougher in the 1990s, including requiring double-hulled transport vessels. The federal government also requires terminals to have the on-site ability to clean up any oil spill that happens at their facility.

In addition, Calumet would be required to have a fast-response oil cleanup contractor on call to be at the scene within 24 hours, said Lt. Judson Coleman of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Marine Safety office in Duluth.

Coleman said his station also has 2,000 feet of oil boom to contain spills. And the Coast Guard Cutter Alder stationed in the Duluth harbor has the ability to deploy a boom that can vacuum oil off the surface of the harbor.

Coleman noted that there have been relatively few spills on the Great Lakes in recent years, and none that were very large.

“The track record is pretty good, knock on wood,’’ Coleman said. “But we’re ready if that changes.”

Duluth News Tribune

 

Breakwater project complete at Grand Marais

2/25 - Grand Marais, Mich. – Out on the frozen ice of Lake Superior, a phenomenon that disappeared decades ago has returned to the harbor at Grand Marais. This winter, ice fishermen have been able to leave their shanties on the bay overnight without fear of the shacks being lost to shifting weak ice, displaced by winds and waves.

"We haven't had that in years, I can't tell you when the last time was," Grand Marais resident Jack Hubbard. "It just shows you what can happen when a lot of good people put their nose to the grindstone and want to get something done."

Hubbard is the reigning champion of the village's decades-old David versus Goliath effort to get the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and state government to build a new breakwater to protect the harbor at Grand Marais.

Last month, after help from countless federal, state and local lawmakers and untold millions of dollars spent over several decades, a scaled-back version of the originally-conceived retaining wall was finally completed.

The roughly 1,400-foot-long structure - built with more than 1,000 semi tractor-trailer truckloads of rocks and armor stones each weighing 7-9 tons- will prevent the harbor from being choked by sands flushed into the bay on east-heading shoreline currents.

"It's nice to have a functioning harbor again," said Hubbard, the former supervisor of Burt Township where tiny Grand Marais is the largest village, a place where winter or summer, tourism keeps the town alive.

However, while the breakwater is now stopping between 100,000 and 150,000 cubic yards of sand from reaching the bay each year, the village now needs to eliminate tons of sand that washed into the harbor before the protective structure was built.

Hubbard said in the middle of the bay, the water ranges from 28 to 35 feet deep, with one hole where the depth approaches 50 feet. But in many places, the water is 8 to 12 feet deep and the marina is only 3 to 4 feet deep.

"Essentially, what it is is a bowl of sand now," Hubbard said. "We need to do some very serious dredging in that part of the harbor."

Fortunately, Grand Marais Harbor is one of a dozen Upper Peninsula projects slated for emergency dredging funds this year. A total of 15,000 cubic yards of sediment is expected to be dredged from the marina at a cost of $525,000.

"The safety of Great Lakes boaters, as well as the economies of local communities, urgently demands dredging work in the hardest hit areas," Michigan Department of Natural Resources Director Keith Creagh said. "Because federal money for dredging of harbors is uncertain, we have found our own solution. The emergency dredging plan helps address the problem for this year. We must still seek a long-term solution to this continuing challenge."

Hubbard said the township has spent about $200,000 over the past 15 years for dredging the marina. He said locals would like to see the marina become about 15 or 20 feet deep.

Michigan had more than 800,000 registered boats in 2011 -the third-highest in the country- and today, the Grand Marais harbor is largely known as a recreational boating port, with interest increasing as the harbor construction project developed over the past year.

The 240-acre harbor was authorized by the River and Harbor acts of June 14, 1880, and May 17, 1950, to serve as a harbor of refuge. The natural bay represents the only safe haven for ships along the 90-mile "graveyard coast" that stretches east from Grand Marais along Lake Superior to Whitefish Point.

In 1883, original construction began on two piers to block sand infiltration into the harbor and a 5,770-foot pile dike that extended west from Lonesome Point the following year. At that time, the depth of the harbor was 55 feet and the dike was built to protect wharves used by commercial fishing and the logging industries. It also blocked additional sediments from plugging the harbor.

By the 1930s, however, the fishing and logging industries had declined dramatically, which reduced the economic viability of the harbor for commerce. This provided the Army Corps with the roots of what would become a long-standing justification for ceasing maintenance of the pile dike. That breakwater was allowed to wash into disrepair in Lake Superior storms after funds were last spent toward its upkeep in 1943.

By 1970, the dike had been destroyed with the exception of remnant footings found beneath the surface. Seagull Island, once a shorebird nesting area located in the northeastern section of the bay, disappeared. East Bay and Lonesome Point were also lost.

Through 1993, about $5.1 million had been spent on the harbor for maintenance, rehabilitation and studies. Three years later, Burt Township voters passed a tax hike of a quarter-mill to fund activity to restore the Grand Marais Harbor.

With that local support in place, legislators and activists began redoubling their efforts to search for solutions to the problem. The first steps were to acquire funding for a sedimentation study and have it carried out. A new study, with an underwater rover and aerial photography was announced in 1998.

Throughout the decades, bureaucratic red tape, the Army Corps justification and cost estimates of more than $7 million for the project kept the breakwater from being built.

Then in 2006, a fatal boating accident occurred. Villagers blamed the sand-filled harbor as "directly responsible" for the tragedy because a large rescue boat, big enough to fight the stormy seas, could not be launched from the harbor.

Hubbard was among those heading renewed efforts to get the breakwater built. Much of the work he performed in his capacity as township supervisor.

"It seems like everybody did a little part of it," Hubbard said. "It was definitely a long drawn-out affair, that's for sure."

In April 2011, Grand Marais was awarded $40,000 in a Reader's Digest contest for its save the harbor efforts. Village officials hoped the national exposure generated by the contest would help shine a light on the community's plight.

Two months later, an announcement came that the remaining funding needed for the $7 million project had been secured through state sources. The Michigan Waterways Commission would contribute $1 million and $4 million had been secured in a one-time appropriation in the state's 2012 budget. Those funds were added to $1.8 million previously secured by federal lawmakers and $200,000 raised by the community.

Work started in spring 2012 and by September, the township's state-funded work on the project was completed. The federally-funded section was completed in January. A ribbon-cutting ceremony is expected this June.

"For more than 50 years, the community of Grand Marais worked to obtain funding and approval to build the much needed breakwall to save their harbor of refuge on Lake Superior," Sen. Tom Casperson, R-Escanaba, said. "To see the breakwall out in the harbor now is a testament of the strong determination, resilience, and hard work that is ingrained in residents of the Upper Peninsula."

From the ice fishing shacks to nesting grounds for the endangered piping plover and increased hopes for tourism and recreational boating, Grand Marais Harbor has new promise for the future. Hubbard said he thinks some of the lost beach features may even return.

He said: "You can actually put together a plan now on revitalizing things and it's going to last."

Mining Journal

 

 

Reduced coal, salt shipments take toll on Toledo’s port

2/25 - Toledo, Ohio – The Port of Toledo saw a decrease of nearly 13 percent in total tonnage of materials handled in 2012 compared to 2011, according to the year-end report released by the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority.

“We are down about 13 percent from 2011 mainly due to reduced coal and salt shipments,” said Joe Cappel, director of cargo development for the Port of Toledo, in an email.

Coal was down due to reduced demand from Canada, which phased out some coal-fired power plants, and U.S. salt shipments were down due to the mild winter in 2011, according to Cappel. Coal shipments were down 33.8 percent, petroleum and liquid bulk down by 27.6 percent and dry bulk, including salt, down by 22 percent.

Total tonnage handled by the Port of Toledo in 2012 was 10 million compared to 11.5 million in 2011.

The number of vessels visiting the Port of Toledo dropped from 601 in 2011 to 508 in 2012. Lake vessels numbered 487 last year compared to 584 in 2011, but overseas vessels increased from 17 in 2011 to 21 in 2012.

The Port of Toledo nearly doubled the tonnage of overseas materials from 467,793 in 2011 to 925,565 in 2012. Tonnage for domestic shipments decreased by 20 percent and Canadian shipments were down by 13.9 percent in 2012.

The largest increase was recorded with 1.3 million tons of grain handled in 2012 compared to 945,489 in 2011, a 36 percent increase. General and miscellaneous cargo increased by 32 percent in 2012, with 73,476 tons over 55,678 tons in 2011.

“The important thing to note is that while tonnage for certain traditional bulk materials may have been down in 2012, the Port Authority and our terminal operators are constantly seeking new opportunities to handle new commodities,” Cappel said.

“We have partnered to invest in material handling equipment and facilities to not only improve on our existing cargo-handling ability but position ourselves for the cargo-handling opportunities of the future,” he said.

The Port of Toledo continued to make major progress in its modernization program in conjunction with several major economic development projects in the community in 2012, according to the Port Authority.

More than $985,000 was invested to reconfigure the entrance of the general cargo facility operated by Midwest Terminals. The new entrance integrates a truck scale with two lanes of entry and exit from the facility. A new guardhouse and camera systems were added to enhance security at the site.

The second phase of construction at the new Ironville Docks, also operated by Midwest Terminals, was completed in 2012. The rail loop at the docks, completed during the first construction phase, began to be utilized.

About $2 million was invested in construction of the dock wall and dredging in 2012. The third phase of construction to be completed this year, will introduce bulk material handling infrastructure to the site, according to the Port Authority.

More than $897,000 was invested to construct a new guardhouse and improve lighting and fencing at the Toledo Shipyard operated by Ironhead Marine. Another $668,000 was invested to reconstruct the dock wall between the large 805-foot and smaller 550-foot docks.

The Port Authority also purchased One Maritime Plaza, the seven-story building that houses its offices, from the American Maritime Officers. It invested an additional $757,000 in the building for roofing, lighting and other improvements.

The Port Authority partnered with the City of Toledo on a number of energy efficiency projects through the Better Buildings Northwest Ohio Program. It administered $1.6 million in energy projects for the city through the program in 2012.

The Port Authority invested more than $921,000 last year in three downtown Toledo parking garages it acquired from the City of Toledo in 2011. The improvements included replacing lighting and installing automated controls at each exit.

More than $2 million was invested during 2012 during phase two construction of the Overland Industrial Park project at the former Jeep plant site in Toledo. The Port Authority acquired the 111-acre site from the City of Toledo in 2010.

The Port Authority has secured more than $8 million in federal and state grant funds for redevelopment of the site, which was broken into three phases. The second phase of redevelopment completed in 2012 involved the removal of old foundations and the filling and grading of the site. The first phase involved environmental remediation of the site.

The third and final phase of redevelopment is the construction of new facilities on the site, according to a master plan developed and announced in 2011.

In 2012, the Port Authority signed a partnership agreement with the Harmon Family Development Corporation to perform site and infrastructure planning on the property. Plans are expected to be completed and announced in later this year.

Toledo Free Press

 

Federal jury in Duluth: Hallett Dock owes $4.7 million for damage to McCarthy

2/25 - Duluth, Minn. - Hallett Dock Co. is responsible for the partial sinking of the 1,000-foot-long Walter J. McCarthy Jr. at a Superior dock five years ago, a federal jury has decided. The company owes American Steamship Co. nearly $4.7 million for repairs and lost profits, the 11-member jury said.

Hallett attorney David Hornig called the decision unfortunate. “We were surprised by the verdict,” he said. Hallett will file for a new trial, he added.

“Based on the facts, we certainly don’t think Hallett’s motion for a new trial has any merit,” American Steamship attorney Brent Reichert said.

American Steamship Co. and Armstrong Steamship Co. are very pleased with the result. American Steamship filed its lawsuit against Hallett in 2009. The trial began Feb. 5 before U.S. District Chief Judge Michael J. Davis.

The McCarthy’s engine room flooded Jan. 14, 2008, after a submerged object ripped a 7-by-4-foot hole in the ship’s bottom as it backed into a slip. The ships stern settled to the bottom in about 20 feet of water, with water covering the ship’s four 3,500-horsepower General Motors Electro Motive Division diesel engines.

American Steamship claims it cost nearly $4.2 million to repair the damage. In addition, the repairs cost 45 sailing days and at least five cargo hauls before the McCarthy was certified as ready to sail, costing the company $516,794 in lost profits.

American Steamship claimed the ship’s hull was punctured by a large, submerged piece of concrete and rebar, and that Hallett Dock was negligent in not informing the ships crew of its presence or in marking the area as hazardous.

Part of the dock collapsed in 2006. Hallett informed the Coast Guard of the collapse and hired a firm to clean the slip work that wasn’t completed until after the McCarthy was damaged.

In his closing arguments, Hornig said ice could have caused the hole in the ship’s hull. But the bulk of his argument centered on where the McCarthy was supposed to dock and the spotters responsible for guiding it. American Steamship had been told not to go past a yellow bollard because debris from a dock collapse was in the slip beyond it, he said. Had the McCarthy stopped before the bollard, there would have been no casualty in this case, Hornig said.

“They sailed right past it into harm’s way,” he said.

Hornig implied that the ships captain, Lawrence Smyth, was incompetent and lazy for not taking soundings in the slip and for not knowing the point he was not to pass. “If you are given a stopping point, you better damn well know where it is,” he said.

Reichert disputed Hornig’s arguments. Hallett was responsible for guiding the ship, he said. The ship’s crew did its job, checking charts, pilots, notices to mariners none of which indicated there was less than 23 feet of water in the area where the McCarthy was and called Hallett. The company should have warned the McCarthy that the debris from the dock collapse included a 10-by-10-by-12-foot concrete and rebar obstruction.

A small amount of debris is not the massive obstruction that was in the slip, Reichert said. Hallett agreed to provide safe mooring and spotting.

During his closing arguments, Reichert stood near a large orange, white and black warning sign. He said Hallett broke the law by not marking the hazardous area with such a sign. “The McCarthy never would have passed such a marker,” he said. “The evidence shows that Hallett Dock is 100 percent at fault,” Reichert said.

After three hours of deliberations, the jury agreed, absolving American Steamship, Fraser Shipyard and Chris Jensen and Son of any percentage of the damages.

Duluth News Tribune

 

Russian ghost ship reappears off Ireland

2/25 - Abandoned and drifting, the Russian cruise ship Lyubov Orlova, has been spotted again off Irelands western coast. The vessel has no crew or warning lights and has been aimlessly drifting for about two months now. Maritime authorities were unaware of its location up until now.

The U.S. National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency reported that the ghost ship was located roughly 1,300 nautical miles from the Irish coast. According to news24.com, the Lyubov Orlova’s whereabouts were listed in a "Daily Memorandum Atlantic Edition," a maritime update put out by the intelligence agency, which analyzes satellite imagery and creates detailed maps for the US government.

The old passenger vessel departed Canada on January 23rd for a Dominican scrap yard, but two separate tow attempts were unsuccessful mainly due to extreme weather conditions. This resulted in the ship drifting in international waters.

Transport Canada has stated that the ship is no longer its concern, as the vessel had left the country's waters. Many say the owner should be held responsible for its movements. Earlier this week, Canadian officials confirmed that they were not clear on the location of the ship since the vessel's global positioning system (GPS) was no longer working.

Again, the derelict vessel is slowly heading towards Europe, having drifted over 400 nautical miles toward the European coastline.

The cruise ship was towed from St. Johns, Newfoundland, in January. The 1976 Yugoslavia built ship was arrested in St. Johns in September 2010 for debts to Canadian charterers. The owners walked away, leaving 49 Russian and two Ukranian crew unpaid. The crew had been depending on local charities for food, and was eventually repatriated with public assistance.

In January 2012 the ship was sold in Federal Court to an owner based in the British Virgin Islands.

The tug Craig Trans was towing the ship to the Dominican Republic for scrapping when it lost the tow in heavy weather.

AP and TugFax

 

Updates -  February 25

Weekly Website Updates
News Photo Gallery
 

 

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.

1964: CISSOULA, a Greek freighter that visited the Seaway in 1961 and 1965, was abandoned after a collision in fog with the Swedish vessel SOLKLINT off Selsey Bill in the English Channel. The damaged freighter was taken in tow and repaired. It was delivered to shipbreakers at Hsinkang, China, on September 24, 1969.

1968: AZAR first came to the Great Lakes as c) CELESTE in 1960 and returned with one trip under this, her fifth name in 1967. The Liberian registered, but Canadian built freighter, went aground off Cuba enroute from Venezuela to Tampa, Florida. The ship suffered extensive damage when it caught fire on February 29 and was declared a constructive total loss. It is believed that the hull was dismantled locally.

1978: The Italian freighter ANTONIO was the last saltwater ship to transit the Welland Canal in 1965. It ran aground off Chios Island, Greece, enroute from Constanza, Romania, to Vietnam as e) OMALOS. The ship was refloated on March 1 but laid up at Piraeus, Greece, and subsequently sold, at auction, for scrap. The vessel was broken up at Megara, Greece, beginning on June 13, 1983.

1979: The Panamanian freighter d) FENI was damaged in a collision on the Black Sea at Sulina Roads, Romania, with ATLANTIS STAR and had to be beached. The ship was refloated on February 28 and repaired. It had been a Seaway trader as a) DEERWOOD in 1960 and returned as b) SEBASTIANO in 1969. The ship was scrapped as f) SIRLAD at Split, Yugoslavia, following an explosion off Algeria, on January 3, 1982.

1994: BANDERAS visited the Great Lakes from 1975 through the 1980s. It was abandoned by the crew off the coast of Brazil as b) AEGEAN TRADER due to a fire in the accommodation area. The vessel was towed to Valencia, Spain, to be unloaded and arrived at Aliaga, Turkey, for scrapping as c) EGE TRADE on August 11, 1994.

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

 

Barge due to leave OxyChem dock Sunday

2/24 - Ludington, Mich. – OxyChem's Ludington Plant has announced that a barge is due to depart the plant's pier on Pere Marquette Lake early Sunday morning. The estimated time of departure may change due to weather and ice conditions. Authorities warned the event will impact ice fishing activities.

Ludington Daily News

 

Harbor dredging

2/24 - It’s a scene being replayed like an endless video all across the Great lakes. From the shipping industry voice of the Lake Carriers Association to the pub next to the storage yard full of pleasure boats, the discussions soon turn to the need for better harbor maintenance.

Furrowed brows are commonplace as community and tourism interests gather at one harbor after another, searching for ways to find the money to dredge the harbor mouth, the channel leading to the marinas, or the dock areas. From Marquette, MI., on the Lake Superior south shore to Pentwater, MI., New Buffalo, MI. and Michigan City, IN., on Lake Michigan, officials are fearful. Each say the economy of their community is in danger of being deeply damaged by a loss in tourism revenue.

Newspapers throughout the region are drawing public attention to the problem and Michigan's governor recently convinced state legislators to put $21.5-million on the table to help communities where low water levels may prevent boats from reaching docks this summer. An official of a Michigan small harbor coalition recently told the Detroit News that his group has determined that more than half of the harbors and basins across the state are in need of work.

New Buffalo Mayor Warren Peterson told the South Bend Tribune last week that his community received a $100,000 donation from the Pokagon Band of Pottawatomi Indians to help pay for planned dredging. The Band owns the Four Winds Casino near New Buffalo.

Warren said a percentage of the money collected in launching fees and dock rental will also be tapped to pay for dredging.

Warm, dry weather and a lack of winter snow has been blamed for the current low water levels, but there is also the normal cyclical factor which sees changes each year in Great Lakes water levels.

None of the harbor can be dredged without the approval of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and that process also involves a review of environmental issues. The review process normally takes months to navigate - even if money has been found to pay for the work - and many officials are concerned there may not be sufficient equipment and competent companies to do the work.

And while most of the current interest appears to be focused on private boaters, fishermen and tourism, commercial shipping interests continue to plead with the U.S. and Canadian governments to step up their dredging activities. Nearly every commercially active harbor on the Great Lakes needs dredging, as do some connecting channels, officials have said. In Canada, officials at Owen Sound, Ont., recently enlisted the aid a of provincial fishery minister in an effort to remove shoaling that they say threatens closure of the Georgian Bay harbor.

Jim Spencer

 

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.

1975: The MOHAMEDIA foundered in the Red Sea enroute from Djibouti to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, with a cargo of livestock that included 1300 cattle, 700 sheep and 118 camels. One member of the crew was also lost. The vessel had been a Seaway trader as b) ULYSSES CASTLE in 1969 and c) ITHAKI CASTLE in 1973.

1976: FRAMPTONDYKE visited the Seaway in 1969. It sank following a collision with the ODIN in the English Channel enroute from Rotterdam, Netherlands, to Cork, Ireland, as b) WITTERING. All on board were rescued.

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

 

Green Bay icebreaking this weekend

2/23 - Green Bay, Wis. - U.S. Coast Guard reports ice breaking operations will take place from February 23-25 in Northern Green Bay up into Little Bay De Noc from Rock Island Passage north to Escanaba iron ore docks. A similar break out took place last weekend to allow the tugs Erica Kobasic and Nickelena to depart. This weekend's icebreaking is for the return of the tug and barge.

Shipments of taconite from the Escanaba ore dock are expected to resume in March.

 

Icebreaking set for Buffalo's Outer Harbor

2/23 - Buffalo, N.Y. - The U.S. Coast Guard will be breaking ice in Buffalo's Outer Harbor this weekend to clear the way for a delivery of road salt. The work is scheduled for Sunday in the harbor and the Southern approach channel. The Algoma Enterprise is heading to the Port of Buffalo in Lackawanna by way of the channel from Lake Erie. It is scheduled to arrive early Sunday morning and stay about 12 hours.

 

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.

1942: LENNOX was also a victim of the German submarine U-129. The Canada Steamship Lines bulk canaller was attacked southwest of Trinidad in P: 09.15 N / 58.30 W. This time there were two sailors lost but 18 survived as the ship did not explode. The torpedo struck on the starboard side and the U-boat Commander came alongside the lifeboat and gave course directions to reach land.

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

 

Study suggests admission fees at an expanded Maritime Center

2/19 - Port Huron, Mich. – An expanded Great Lakes Maritime Center at Vantage Point could be funded using municipal bonds issued by the city or St. Clair County, said a consultant with 4ward Planning of Pittsburgh.

Todd Poole, managing principal, also recommended an admission fee of $5 per person to get into the Maritime Center, which he said is lower than most facilities around the country with similar attractions.

“I think this exercise was really to determine who will (pay for the construction),” Poole said. “Based on our pro forma analysis, there is enough revenue to cover the debt service for bonds that maybe the city or county floats as part of a joint deal to build it.

“That’s a possibility. The point being that Acheson is not going to carry the whole thing on their dime.”

Rich Engle, vice president of Acheson Ventures, which owns the center, said nothing has been decided about financing the construction of the facility, which he previously estimated at $7 million to $8 million.

“The key word there is the possibility,” he said. “No one is committing anyone to anything at this point. We have to flesh it out, we have to see what is there, what is available to us in terms of funding opportunities and who is best able to access it.”

Poole presented his findings on the feasibility of building a larger and permanent Maritime Center with a number of new amenities to a group of community stakeholders on Wednesday.

The feasibility study, which cost $33,000, was paid for by a $15,000 grant from Michigan Department of Transportation mitigation funds from the city of Port Huron, a $10,000 grant from St. Clair County and $8,000 from Acheson Ventures.

The audience at the presentation — including Engle — seemed uncomfortable with turning the entire facility, which is now free and open to the public, into paid admission only.

“Personally I think that kind of defeats Mr. Acheson’s purpose for the center,” said Sue Powers, of Port Huron. “I think a lot of the community members will be let down by this.”

Engle noted Acheson’s mission for the center was to promote the maritime history and maritime activities in Port Huron, but with the RiverWalk improvements nearby, he isn’t sold on charging admission to view freighters.

“I think that there is a portion of that building that will still be available for viewing,” he said. “Whether or not there is a charge for that, I don’t think any of us are prepared to answer. I hope not, but we will see.”

Acheson Venture’s plan for the new facility would make it approximately 2.5 times the size of the current Maritime Center, with a theater, gift shop, cafe, children’s activity area, ship viewing area and some conference room space.

Most of the Acheson ideas were echoed by Poole, with some notable differences.

“What we’re adding in here that was not in the original report is the Port Huron Museum Maritime Exhibit,” Poole said. “We strongly recommend that exhibit be relocated into this facility for obvious reasons. It is a very rich maritime exhibit ... and to place it here only makes sense and would help make the museum what it is intended to be.”

Poole said he believes a proposed theater on the second floor should be converted into a multi-media room that could be rented out as a certified convention space as a better use of space.

The children’s activity area was on the chopping block as well, with Poole citing a declining number of family households in the area as a reason to open up that space for other uses.

He also recommended replacing the cafe with a full-service restaurant and bar, which he believes will be a bigger revenue generator.

“You’re on the waterfront and ... obviously you want to take full advantage of that,” he said. “A bar and restaurant is the type of amenity and driver of foot traffic that you want down here.”

That change is one with bigger implications — Poole also recommended eliminating the Mama Vicki’s French-fry truck and Round Island Sweet Shoppe ice cream truck that are staples at Vantage Point during the summer because they would be competing with the restaurant.

Poole said the facility could be a revenue generator. He conservatively estimated that the center could draw $700,000 to $1.4 million in revenue annually once it is established. Conservative estimates for expenses are between $525,000 and $550,000, he said.

“We don’t just give you a number, we like to give you a best case, a worst case and a likely case,” Poole said of revenue projections. “The best case assumes that you have no weather-related conditions that will impact your events taking place, your marketing plan works brilliantly and everyone will pay what you ask them to pay. Well, we know that is not reality, so we kind of back off of that number to come up with the likely case scenario. Worst case is that it is a disaster, or close to it, but you’re still going to be able to make some revenues.”

Under 4ward Planning’s projections, in the worst-case scenario, the revenues should exceed expenses once the facility has been established.

Those revenues include space rental for conferences and meetings, leasing space for a restaurant and admission fees.

“The bottom line is that this plan can work and the numbers that we are showing you are relatively conservative at stabilization,” Poole said. “You have a good management plan in place, good partnerships in place.”

The feasibility study is the first step toward creating the new center, but Engle said there is no time line for construction at this point.

Port Huron Times Herald

 

Cutter Hollyhock gets new command

2/19 - Port Huron, Mich. – Justin Kimura was born in Hawaii, but he’s familiar with Michigan. And the familiarity will help him once he takes over command of the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Hollyhock in Port Huron on June 14.

“We were excited,” Lt. Cmdr. Kimura said of learning of his assignment aboard the Hollyhock. “This was our No. 1 pick.”

Kimura said his wife has already started looking for their new home. A native of Grand Rapids, she’s excited to be coming home. “I personally love it up there as well,” said Kimura, 36.

The U.S. Coast Guard rotates assignments depending on the position. The Hollyhock commander is assigned to the ship for three-year stints. Cmdr. Tim Brown will be leaving the Hollyhock to become the Coast Guard Academy planning officer in New London, Conn.

Kimura is currently the director of law enforcement, maritime security and defense operations executive assistant at Coast Guard headquarters in Washington D.C. A 1998 graduate of the academy, he’s previously been stationed in Honolulu and Astoria, Oregon. Kimura also spent two years on cutter Mackinaw in Cheboygan as the executive officer.

The Hollyhock is a 225-foot cutter responsible for tending buoys and other Coast Guard missions. The ship also is capable of breaking ice in the waterways. The $29 million ship was launched in 2003.

After Kimura takes command, the ship and crew will head south. The ship will send the summer in dry dock in Maryland for planned repairs and maintenance.

Kimura, who has a 15-month-old daughter with his wife, said his family enjoys being outdoors and looks forward to taking up cross-country skiing again.

Port Huron Times Herald

 

Fight for Owen Sound dredging continues

2/19 - Owen Sound, Ont. – Owen Sound wants to have all hands on deck in its fight to have the federally owned harbour in the city dredged. The city has long been lobbying Transport Canada to do the underwater excavation work at the port and Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound Conservative MP Larry Miller vowed in 2011 to pressure his government to see that it happens as soon as possible.

City/county Coun. Arlene Wright said she recently brought the dredging issue to Grey County’s corporate services committee. County officials, in turn, have requested a meeting with Ontario Transportation Minister Bob Chiarelli to get the province on side as well.

“The agricultural industry is in need of that port,” Wright said Wednesday in an interview. “We have got to get that harbour dredged.”

The county is still waiting to hear back from the province on its request to meet with Chiarelli at the upcoming Ontario Good Roads Association conference, which is scheduled for Feb. 24-27 in Toronto. Cabinet positions could soon be shuffled under Liberal premier-designate Kathleen Wynne.

Wright said she has heard of at least one Grey County farmer who has had to ship his grain from another southern Ontario port because of water levels at the Owen Sound Harbour. Area farmers rely on the port to export corn, grain and other crops, she said.

A spokesman for Parrish & Heimbecker Ltd., owner of Owen Sound’s waterfront grain elevator, said in 2011 that delivering and retrieving cargo at the port facility will likely have to cease in two to three years if the harbour is not dredged.

Grey County Warden Duncan McKinlay said the Owen Sound Harbour is “linked to economic development across the county.” He said it’s important for the county to add its voice to the chorus calling for the work to be done. He is also concerned about water levels throughout the Great Lakes, noting “Owen Sound is not the only shallow spot.”

Owen Sound Mayor Deb Haswell recently suggested at a council meeting that the city plans to turn up the pressure on Transport Canada to dredge the harbour. She said the port must be dredged to a commercial navigation depth immediately or by 2014 at the latest.

City officials have said the work must be done before Owen Sound would assume ownership of the port. Transport Canada has said that all dredging work must be part of divestiture negotiations.

Owen Sound Sun Times

 

Cliffs plants could soon produce new kind of taconite pellet

2/19 - Duluth, Minn. – Minnesota’s largest iron-ore producer could end up making a new kind of taconite pellet at one or two plants on the Iron Range within the next three years.

At Cliffs Natural Resources’ annual breakfast gathering with Iron Range business and community leaders on Wednesday, officials also said they expect continued economic growth in China, about 8 percent this year, to fuel continued demand for steel.

Cliffs is “bullish” on a stable or slightly rising U.S. demand for steel, fed by resurgent housing and auto industries and a generally growing economy, said Kelly Tompkins, executive vice president of legal, government affairs and sustainability and president of Cliff’s China operations.

But Tompkins said cheap foreign steel could flood the U.S. market because of lack of demand in Europe and Japan, driving down demand for U.S. steel and iron ore.

Tompkins shed more light on the company’s plans to make a new, low-silica taconite pellet that could be used to make direct-reduced iron, or DRI, feedstock used in electric arc furnaces to make steel.

The idea, first floated last year, was restated last week in the Cleveland-based company’s quarterly stock report to the media. The company said it was having good luck testing a low-silica, DRI-ready pellet at United Taconite in Eveleth and NorthShore Mining facilities.

“It’s not so much an ‘if’ but a ‘when.’ And it could be both, not necessarily either-or,” Tompkins said.

The addition of DRI pellets would be cheaper at NorthShore because of technology issues but both plants could be in the running, he said.

Tompkins said the main hurdles are finishing engineering details and finding the capital to build what could be a $300 million expansion to produce a million tons or more annually of the DRI-ready pellets. In addition, he said, Cliffs must find an iron-making company to buy the stuff.

“It’s not a matter of ‘Build it and they will come,’” Tompkins said. “We need a customer — preferably somewhere on the Great Lakes.”

Cliffs also manages Hibbing Taconite and owns and operates the Tilden and Empire taconite operations in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula as well as major iron-ore operations in Canada and Australia.

The new DRI-ready pellet would give Cliffs a new and growing market for its taconite. Increasing numbers of electric arc furnaces are being used to make steel because energy costs and emissions are lower than with a traditional blast furnace, which currently is the only means of turning taconite pellets into steel.

On other issues, Tomkins said:
• The company is making good progress with the Environmental Protection Agency over new federal guidelines for haze-causing pollutants.

The EPA announced the rules in the fall, but Cliffs balked, saying compliance would have cost the company $400 million to retrofit its operations. Since then, the EPA has allowed room for Cliffs in how the company gets to the desired reductions, a move Tompkins said makes it cheaper and easier to meet the federal rules.

• Cliffs laid off about 85 workers from its NorthShore operations in January because the company lost a 1.5 million-ton annual contract for pellets when RGS Steel filed for bankruptcy and closed. Tompkins said those workers could be called back if a new customer is found or when the DRI pellet reaches production stage.

• The company expects stable production at its U.S. operations in 2013 compared to 2012, with about 2 million tons of ore being shipped directly from Minnesota to China, where Cliffs is a partner in a steel mill.

• Cliffs is well-positioned to meet new domestic iron-ore competition, ranging from Essar Steel in Nashwauk and Magnetation across the Iron Range to the proposed Gogebic Taconite operation in Wisconsin, all of which are adding or could add millions of tons of annual production to the taconite/iron ore market in North America.

Whether that may be too much taconite for domestic steelmakers to use, Tomkins said, “That could happen. There’s a limit of how many blast furnaces there are to feed.”

Cliffs could lose additional business from steelmaker Arcelor Mittal, which announced earlier this month it would buy pellets from the new Essar operations starting next year.

• Cliffs has put its huge Bloom Lake, Ontario, iron ore expansion on a slower timetable. Now at about 5 million tons of production per year, the proposed operation would hit 15 million tons annually sometime after 2014, nearly all of which would be shipped to China.

• Cliffs’ overall operations showed a loss in 2012 because of a major write-off and a roller-coaster ride in global iron-ore prices. Last year’s price ranged from more than $150 per ton to near $90. As of this week, that price has bounced back to $160 per ton.

It costs Cliffs about $65 per ton to make taconite in Minnesota, about $85 per ton currently in Canada. That doesn’t include shipping.

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.

1942: The Great Lakes canal-sized bulk carrier GEORGE L. TORIAN of the Upper Lakes and St. Lawrence Transportation Co. had been requisitioned for saltwater service in the bauxite trade in 1941. The ship was torpedoed by U-129 off the coast of British Guiana in position 09.13 N / 59.04 W and sank quickly. Most of the crew were killed.

1945: H.M.C.S. TRENTONIAN was a Flower Class naval corvette that had been built by the Kingston Shipbuilding Company and completed at Kingston, Ontario, on December 1, 1943. It was torpedoed and sunk by U-1004 near Falmouth, England, and went down stern first. Six on board, one officer and 5 enlisted crew members, were lost.

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

 

Montreal firefighters tackle small fire on Baie St. Paul

2/21 - Montreal, Que. – Firefighters were called to the Old Port on Tuesday morning for a small fire inside an engine room of a ship parked just under the Jacques Cartier Bridge. The smoke was contained in a room that houses an engine to operate the cables that tie the boat up. Workers had been welding which started the small fire. The call came in shortly before 8 a.m. The ship, a self-unloading bulk carrier named the Baie St. Paul, is owned and operated by Canada Steamship Lines. She was built in China and arrived in Canada late last fall.

Montreal Gazette

 

Vessels prepare for 2013 shipping season

2/21 - Port Huron, Mich. – As the Great Lakes shipping industry awaits the reopening of the Soo Locks, shippers hope for heavier loads and deeper water for 2013. Glen Nekvasil, vice president for Lake Carriers Association, said Great Lakes cargo loads were down by about 5 percent in 2012.

U.S. flag vessels on the Great Lakes carried 90 million tons of cargo — that’s about 4.6 percent less than 2011, Nekvasil said.

Nekvasil said he couldn’t predict what the next shipping season would bring when the Soo Locks reopen on March 25. “We are a service industry,” Nekvasil said. “Ships do not create demand for cargo, they meet demand for cargo.”

Tonnage could be affected by decreasing coal and iron ore shipments, as well as low lake levels. Iron ore shipments were down by 4 percent in 2012 at 45 million tons, while coal shipments were down by 13 percent at 17.6 million tons.

Nekvasil said low natural gas prices and the phasing out of coal usage in Canada decreased demand for the product.

At 22 million tons, limestone shipments increased by 2 percent in 2012. About 4.9 million tons of cement, salt, sand and grain made up the reminder of shipments on U.S. flag vessels.

The Soo Locks in Sault Ste. Marie have been closed since Jan. 15, and will reopen on March 25. The locks are closed to comply with a federal mandate that requires the closure for routine maintenance. Most ships take the time to also do maintenance.

“It’s quite intensive and it’s ongoing,” said Frank Frisk, maritime consultant for Vantage Point at the Great Lakes Maritime Center. “Its the only time of year they can do it where it doesn’t interfere with shipping.”

Captain Dan Gallagher, president for Lakes Pilots Association, said most vessels take advantage of the break to prepare for the next shipping season.

“That’s when they do their own scheduled maintenance … so when they fit out in the spring until the end of the year, hopefully they have no downtime at all,” Gallagher said.

The Lakes Pilots Association provides U.S. registered pilots for foreign vessels in District 2 of the St. Lawrence Seaway.

Gallagher said vessel traffic for Lakes Pilots Association was up about 5 percent in 2012. He said the top cargoes on foreign vessels were imports of steel and exports of grain.

Both U.S. flag-carrying vessels and foreign vessels have felt the sting of low lake levels. “They’ve had to lighten cargoes up which is a huge cost,” Gallagher said.

Toward the end of the 2012 shipping season, some vessels were loading to about 25 feet of draft, Nekvasil said. In 1997, those same ships were loading to 29 feet of draft.

“Water levels are continuing to go down,” he said. “The expectation is that the drafts will be even worse when we get going again in March.”

Gallagher expects similar losses in the coming year. The light freeze over the lakes this year hasn’t helped water levels much, he said. What the lakes need, he added, is a heavy freeze to stop evaporation and heavy snowfall in the north.

At the beginning of the month, Gov. Rick Snyder announced plans for $20.9 million in emergency dredging funds. However, Nekvasil said that funding would largely benefit municipal or state harbors in shallow waters. The state funding would have little effect on commercial channels.

Hopes that the federal Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund would release more funds for commercial dredging in 2013 are dwindling, Nekvasil said.

Port Huron Times Herald

 

Group Ocean awaiting delivery of ATB from saltwater

2/21 - Group Ocean recently purchased the articulated tug Mega and mating deck barge Motti in Europe and has registered the pair in Canada. The combination is currently shown as under bareboat charter to the Dutch firm Redwise. Redwise specializes in ship delivery and the charter was likely drafted to allow Redwise to solicit cargo during the delivery trip. The most recent report from Redwise’s website places the pair in Bermuda, heading towards eastern Canada.

The diesel-electric tug Mega (IMO: 7347641) was built in 1975 by OY Wartsila in Finland and rebuilt in 1993 to mate with the barge. Conflicting reports show that the barge Motti (IMO: 9072434) was built in 1993 by either Aker Yards, Oslo, Norway, or STX Finland Turku in Turku, Finland. The pair uses an Articouple connection system.

The 23.9 meter registered width of the barge indicates the barge may be ever-so-slightly too wide to transit the locks of the St. Lawrence Seaway. However, the pair’s ice classification will likely make them well-suited for service along Canada’s eastern seaboard.

Group Ocean currently operates another articulated tug barge combination – the tug Ocean Echo II and the barge Betsiamites. McKeil Marine, a competing Canadian tugboat company, operates two Seaway size ATB combinations as well as numerous non-articulated tug/barge combinations. Much of their recent work has been tied to natural resource exploration and production projects in Newfoundland and Labrador.

More information on Group Ocean’s newly-purchased ATB is provided by this previous operator’s specification sheet at this link
Redwise delivery link

From Tugfax and other internet sources

 

Tall ships coming in July to the Soo

2/21 - Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. – The Tall Ships 1812 Tour “Sails on the St. Marys River” is to arrive in Sault Ste. Marie between July 19-21. City council has approved a request and recommendations that port and venue fees at the Roberta Bondar Pavilion/Marina be waived.

The request for financial assistance was made by the Algoma 1812 committee. The event is part of the 1812 Bicentennial HistoryFest, a three-day, outdoor, family friendly commemoration of the War of 1812.

While the city’s finance department notes that the application does not meet the necessary criteria for funding assistance, in the past, port and venue fees were waived for similar events, a report to council states. It’s expected that the fees will be recovered through the business generated both on site and in the community over the three-day event.

Sault Star

 

Minnesota coal plants cut mercury in half

2/21 - Duluth, Minn. – Coal-fired power plants in Minnesota have cut the amount of mercury they send through smokestacks by more than half in the last 15 years as the state tried to reduce its residents’ exposure to the toxic metal.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency held a media event at a Twin Cities power plant Monday to herald the reduction in mercury from 1,850 pounds a year in the 1990s to about 870 pounds today.

PCA Commissioner John Link Stine said the goal is to cut power plant emissions to less than 200 pounds by 2016, and he praised Duluth-based Minnesota Power and Twin Cities-based Xcel Energy for their efforts.

“One measure of their success is that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency now looks to Minnesota as a model for how other states can reduce their own emissions of mercury from power utilities,” Stine said.

Mercury that falls from the sky can transform into highly toxic methylmercury in wetlands, lakes and rivers, building up in fish and animals that eat fish, including loons, eagles — and humans.

Minnesota, Wisconsin and most other states have issued fish-consumption advisories, warning anglers and others to limit their meals of some fish, such as walleye and northern pike.

The advisories warn children and pregnant women not to eat larger fish. The warnings are aimed at preventing accumulated toxic mercury buildup known to cause severe developmental and neurological damage, especially in fetuses and young children.

Stine said he hoped the successful mercury reduction by power plants would spur other sectors, such as the state’s taconite industry, to continue efforts to cut mercury.

Margaret Hodnik, Minnesota Power vice president of regulatory and legislative affairs, said the utility has cut mercury by 90 percent at its largest coal-burning plants in the region. Minnesota Power injects activated carbon dust into the emissions; the carbon binds with the mercury, which is then captured by so-called smokestack scrubbers, Hodnik said.

“We were out in front in developing the technology,” Hodnik told the News Tribune. “It’s important to us and our customers that, if we invest in technology, it has to work. What we’ve heard today shows it really is working. It’s been worth the investment.”

Despite Minnesota’s success at reducing mercury going into the air, however, it hasn’t been able to stop mercury from falling out of the sky. That’s because only about 10 percent of the mercury that falls in Minnesota comes from sources within the state. The rest comes from all over the Earth, including as far away as Asia, as mercury floats through the atmosphere before falling in rain and snow.

That’s also why, despite Minnesota’s efforts, fish in Minnesota lakes haven’t shown a major reduction in mercury.

Minnesota already has been taking action for more than a decade to reduce mercury from products such as batteries, thermostats, switches and light bulbs.

The state also cracked down on mercury in dental implants and mercury that went up the smokestacks of crematoriums and was among the first to require power plants to reduce mercury emissions. The federal Environmental Protection Agency has followed suit nationwide.

Many Northland residents were jolted a year ago when the Minnesota Department of Health released a study that showed 10 percent of all babies born in the Lake Superior region of the state have levels of toxic mercury in their bloodstreams above the 5.8 micrograms per liter that the EPA considers safe. Some went as high as 211 micrograms per liter. Fetuses, infants and children are most at risk from mercury exposure because small amounts can harm the developing brain and nervous system.

Health officials said a mother eating as few as two meals per week of fish high in mercury could cause newborn blood levels to reach unacceptable levels. That includes large trout, walleye or northern from Northland lakes or yellowfin tuna, shark, mackerel or orange roughy from the ocean. The state warns women and children not to eat any walleye over 20 inches or northern pike over 30 inches.

The mercury exposure from fish could lead to lower developmental levels as children grow. The health department, with federal funding, is conducting an intensive follow-up study in Cook County to find out how to reduce pregnant women’s exposure to mercury, which is probably coming from fish the mothers eat.

A global treaty signed by 140 nations in January sets controls and reduction targets for many industries, products and manufacturing processes that use mercury, focusing on four main areas:

• The global supply and trade of mercury
• The use of mercury in products and industrial processes
• Efforts to reduce emissions from small-scale gold mining in poor nations
• Measures to reduce emissions from coal-fired power plants and metals production facilities such as smelters

It could take a decade or more for those efforts to take effect, however.

Duluth News Tribune

 

32nd Great Lakes Shipwreck Festival March 2 in Ann Arbor

2/21 - Ann Arbor, Mich. – The Ford Seahorses Scuba Diving Club, in conjunction with the Detroit Historical Society’s Dossin Maritime Group and the Dossin Great Lakes Museum, presents the 32nd Great Lakes Shipwreck Festival on Saturday, March 2nd from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Washtenaw Community College’s Morris Lawrence Building, 4800 E. Huron River Drive, in Ann Arbor.

This year’s program features presentations about the formerly-unsolved mysteries of shipwrecks, including David Trotter with the story of the New York lost in Lake Huron in 1910 and Tony Gramer sharing the loss of the tug Anna Dobbins in Saginaw Bay in 1886. Ross Richardson is presenting the history of a number of Lake Michigan shipwrecks. In addition to shipwrecks, there will be programs featuring a variety international dives, including the visually breathtaking Philippines and the unmatched saltwater diversity and beauty of south-central Indonesia, featuring stunning video and still images of colorful and unusual marine life, including Komodo dragons.

Other programs include Robert McGreevy’s fascinating story of the Keystone State, a large wooden steamer that disappeared with its entire crew in 1861. Jim and Pat Stayer present the story of the Great Storm of 1913 – with its hurricane force winds, it has been called the most destructive storm ever to strike the Great Lakes. In Lake Huron alone, eight large steel ships were lost with all hands during a 16-hour period.

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

 

2013 pre-season reservations available for S.S. Badger

2/21 - Ludington, Mich. – Take advantage of reduced passenger and vehicle fares for a limited time this year with the Badger’s 60th anniversary discounts. Call Monday-Friday between 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Feb. 18-April 1 at 1-800-841-4243 or book online and save (cannot be combined with other discounts).

2013 Spring Schedule
Single Crossings – May 17 - June 8 * September 3 - October 13
Depart Ludington at 9 AM (ET) - Arrive Manitowoc 12 Noon (CT)
Depart Manitowoc at 2 PM (CT) - Arrive Ludington at 7 PM (ET)

2013 Summer Schedule
Double Crossings – June 9 - September 2
Depart Ludington at 9 AM (ET)-Arrive Manitowoc 12 Noon (CT)
Depart Manitowoc at 2 PM (CT)-Arrive Ludington at 7 PM (ET)
Depart Ludington at 8:30 PM (ET)-Arrive Manitowoc at 11:30 PM (CT)
Depart Manitowoc at 1 AM (CT)-Arrive Ludington at 6 AM (ET)

Special Shoreline Cruises
Manitowoc, WI - June 1st
Ludington, MI - Lighthouse Keepers Association Shoreline Cruise, June 8th
Ludington, MI - Fourth of July Shoreline Cruise - July 4th

Lake Michigan Carferry

 

Updates -  February 21

Historical Perspectives Gallery updated - New pictures in the Mohawk Deer gallery

 

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 Schlieker-Werft shipyard in Hamburg, West Germany 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.

1929: The passenger ships ERIE and DOVER caught fire at their winter quarters at Ecorse, MI, and each received significant damage. The former became the coal barge d) T.A. IVEY for service on Lake Erie. The latter, while repaired, never returned to service due to business conditions.

1979: The French flag freighter CLEVELAND made 16 trips through the Seaway from 1961 to 1965. The vessel was abandoned, in leaking condition, as d) DESPINA while enroute from Cuba to Syria with a cargo of sugar. The vessel was reported to have sunk two days later while 900 miles southeast of Bermuda.

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

 

 

Large waves expected on Lake Michigan shoreline

2/20 - Grand Rapids, Mich. – Blustery weather Tuesday was expected to create some monster waves along the Lake Michigan shoreline. Forecast models from the National Weather Service in Grand Rapids showed near-shore waves up to 13 feet Tuesday from gusty, westerly winds.

The waves were expected in ice-free areas, forecasters said. The forecast prompted the weather service to issue a gale warning for Lake Michigan, meaning winds of nearly 40 mph or more were expected. A color-coded map showed the possibility of waves in excess of 11 feet near Holland and Grand Haven, where waves were expected to be highest.

Winds were expected to buffet the lakeshore as a winter storm barreled in, bringing what was expected to be up to 6 inches of snow through Wednesday morning.

Mlive

 

Recent vessel passages in the Straits of Mackinac

2/20 - On Monday, there were four passages through the Straits of Mackinac. About 3 p.m. the Hollyhock (USCG 214) was westbound to Lake Michigan and back to St. Ignace. At 12:35 the Algosteel passed eastbound from Milwaukee to Goderich to load salt. She was followed shortly before noon by fleetmate Algoma Enterprise who was westbound from Goderich to Milwaukee with salt. At 10:30 a.m. the Biscayne Bay (USCG 104) passed westbound, breaking ice for Algoma Enterprise and Algosteel through Round Island Passage.

On Tuesday the Algoeast was westbound to South Chicago shortly before 8 a.m. Fred Stone

 

Ice breaking in the Menominee River

2/20 - Menominee, Mich. – U.S. Coast Guard officials were alerted to the start of construction operations in the Menominee River near Boom Boat Landing. The work began Feb. 19 and will continue through March 1. The ongoing construction work renders the ice in the area unsafe for recreational use. All recreational ice users should avoid using the ice in the vicinity of Boom Boat Landing for the remainder of the winter ice season.

 

Steel production rises 17,000 tons in Great Lakes states

2/20 - Raw steel production in the country's Great Lakes region was 659,000 tons in the week ended Feb. 16, according to estimates from the American Iron and Steel Institute.

Production was up 17,000 tons from the week prior. The majority of raw steel production in the Great Lakes region occurs in Indiana and the Chicago area.

Production in the Southern District was estimated at 622,000 tons last week, down from 639,000 tons a week earlier.

U.S. steel mills had a capacity utilization rate of 75.7 percent last week, which is down from a 76.1 percent production rate a week earlier.

Domestic mills have produced about 12.6 million tons of steel this year, down 7.1 percent from the same period in 2012.

Northwest Indiana Times

 

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.

1940: A fire broke out in the cargo hold of the package freighter KING at Buffalo when insulation, being installed for refrigeration purposes, ignited. Several firemen were overcome by the smoke, but damage to the ship was negligible.

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

 

Maritime Center in Port Huron to close for maintenance

2/19 - Port Huron, Mich. – Acheson Ventures is closing the Great Lakes Maritime Center March 1 through March 22 for maintenance. Mike DeLong, director of operations for Acheson Ventures, said there is nothing significantly wrong with the building, but there are a number of projects that cannot be done with people in the structure.

“There are things wrong that we have never had time to fix — some painting, redo the carpet, clean the carpet, lay down some new laminate,” he said. “Those are things that I can’t do with people in the building and I can’t do overnight. This is really just a minimal amount of time to do this.”

He said this is the first time in the center’s eight-year history that they will close down for maintenance.

The building is the site of the BoatNerd.com World Headquarters. When the building reopens, “Freighter” Frank Frisk will relocate back from an adjacent building as well.

Classes that were scheduled to take place at the Maritime Center during the closure are being relocated or canceled. DeLong said that Acheson has made another space available to those groups and informed visitors the closure was coming.

It isn’t just groups that routinely gather at the Maritime Center. The coffee, donuts and free space attract a number of people who become regular customers. The Coffee Harbor, the small cafe in the Maritime Center run by Michelle Wrubel, will be shut down during the maintenance period but Wrubel said customers won’t have to go without.

“We’re pulling our equipment out of there so they can clean,” she said. “But our main location is on 24th Street, and we will still have all of those same products and services there. There is not a single thing that we cannot still provide for them here.”

Longtime customers will be in for a bit of a surprise when they come back through the doors after the closure, DeLong said, but he wouldn’t give any clues about what they might find.

“We want to enhance some things, hopefully have a few little surprises for people when they come back,” he said.

The maintenance is not connected with Acheson Ventures’ plan to install a larger, permanent Maritime Center facility at the location, DeLong said.

Plans call for a 15,800-square-foot, two-story facility – more than two and half times the current space – that will preserve the ship viewing area and cafe, as well as the popular underwater live camera feeds. The proposal would also add a retail shop, children's activity area and rentable office space on the first floor. The second floor would be home to several attractions, including a weather deck, touch-tank containing invasive species of fish and shellfish, a theater and a walkout deck.

Officials with the Pennsylvanian company hired to conduct a feasibility study on the plans for the permanent Maritime Center will be in town on Wednesday to present their findings.

Times Herald

 

Ship work worth millions in Owen Sound

2/19 - Owen Sound, Ont. – Crews are installing a new evacuation system aboard the Chi-Cheemaun that will include inflatable slides, rafts and Zodiac boats.

Susan Schrempf, president and CEO of Owen Sound Transportation Company, said the project will cost about $1.5 million. “It is far more accessible. It is faster. It is safer. It’s the most modern technology available,” she said Monday in an interview.

The system will replace a davit system, installed when the ferry was manufactured in 1974, which required people to be loaded into rigid lifeboats and lowered from the decks to the water below.

With the new evacuation system, passengers will travel down two inflatable slides — which will be available on both the port and starboard sides of the ferry — and into 100-person inflatable life rafts on the water. Crews will be lowered in motorized Zodiac boats so the life rafts, which are tethered together, can be led away from the ship.

The new system will be completed before the ferry leaves Owen Sound May 2.

The replacement is among the many projects, valued in the millions of dollars, which are underway on vessels docked for the winter in Owen Sound harbor. Local tradespeople are among those working on all three ships.

Crews are performing routine maintenance and repair work on two 730-foot lake freighters, which are expected to remain in the harbor until the 2013 Great Lakes sailing season begins at the end of March.

The 45-year-old Algomarine, a self-loading bulk carrier owned by Algoma Central Corporation, arrived in port just before New Year’s Day. The 41-year-old Canada Steamship Lines bulk carrier CSL Niagara arrived about two weeks later.

Algoma Central expects to spend more than $1 million and employ 15 people from the Owen Sound area to finish several projects during the winter berth of the Algomarine, said Peter Winkley, Algoma Central’s vice-president of finance and chief financial officer.

“In addition, wherever possible, we will also be utilizing local subcontractors and suppliers for the projects,” he said in an e-mailed response to questions.

Crews are doing engine maintenance work, upgrading interior accommodations and installing a new loop belt on the CSL Niagara, which primarily transports iron ore and coal, said Brigitte Hebert, the company’s communications director.

“There are always direct and indirect benefits to local economies when a vessel is laid up in a community,” she said.

Steve Furness, the city’s manager of economic development and tourism, said the presence of the ships is a reminder of the viability of Owen Sound as a working, mixed-use port.

“And, of course, the economic spinoffs are great,” he said Monday in an interview.

Owen Sound Sun Times

 

Cruise ship visit to Saugatuck in jeopardy due to low water levels

2/19 - Saugatuck, Mich. – The second season of a cruise ship’s visit to Saugatuck could be in jeopardy because of low water levels. The Yorktown is scheduled to visit the city seven times this year.

“I do not believe that there is enough water depth in our federally-authorized channel for the ship to enter our port, especially where our channel enters Lake Michigan,” Felicia Fairchild, executive director of the Saugatuck Douglas Convention and Visitors Bureau, wrote in a letter to Gov. Rick Snyder.

“This could be a public relations fiasco for Saugatuck and for Michigan plus an economic and logistic nightmare for Travel Dynamics,” she wrote about the company that coordinates the Yorktown visits.

The Yorktown’s 2012 visit was the first stop by a U.S.-flagged passenger ship in Saugatuck since 1929. The 257-foot ship draws 8 feet and is specially designed for Great Lakes shallow depth harbors.

Hundreds of people lined the shore at Wicks Park in downtown Saugatuck to welcome the 138 passengers who spent time at the town’s restaurants and shops.

The channel from Kalamazoo Lake and river to Lake Michigan in Saugatuck is not scheduled for dredging by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the port is not on a state list of harbors eligible for $21 million for emergency aid.

The Holland Sentinel

 

S.S. Badger Boatnerd Gathering announced for 2013

2/19 - Plans have been completed for the annual Boatnerd Gathering aboard the S.S. Badger for a round trip from Ludington, Mich., to Manitowoc, Wis., and return on Saturday, June 1. While in Manitowoc, Boatnerds will have options to visit the Wisconsin Maritime Museum or reboard the Badger for a Wisconsin Shoreline Cruise.

Staying on board the Badger on Friday night is also an option. Friday night guests will be treated to guided tours of the pilothouse and engine room, and buffet breakfast on Saturday morning.

See the Gatherings Page for all the details.

 

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, 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.

1981: The Indian freighter JYOTI VINOD, a Seaway caller as a) JALAZAD beginning in 1969, departed Bombay with a cargo of jute, general freight and school buses. The nightmare voyage, which proved to be its last, did not reach Tema, Ghana, until December 23, 1981

1992: VIHREN, a Bulgarian built and flagged bulk carrier, was driven on the breakwall at Tuapse, USSR, in severe weather. The vessel later broke in two. The ship first came inland in 1983 headed for Thunder Bay. The two sections of the hull were refloated and each arrived at Aliaga, Turkey, for dismantling in August 1992.

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

 

Groups object to closure of Thunder Bay Coast Guard Radio

2/18 - Thunder Bay, Ont. – The Canadian Coast Guard announced last May it would close 10 marine communications and traffic services centers across Canada beginning in 2014 and 2015. One of the centers scheduled to close is the one in Thunder Bay.

Meeting in Traverse City for its annual convention, the International Ship Masters' Association Grand Lodge recently went on record as opposing the closure of Thunder Bay Coast Guard Radio.

Canada’s department of Fisheries and Oceans stated that improving safety is behind the closures.

“The safety of Canadians and mariners is the top priority of the Canadian Coast Guard,” said Minister Keith Ashfield, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans in a statement.

“Improving and integrating communications centers across the country will ensure that important information can be properly broadcast to mariners and emergency calls will be received under all circumstances.” Marcie Lavoie and her husband, Ken McInnis, who spent last summer traveling to save the Thunder Bay marine communications and traffic services, disagree. They travelled extensively last summer, and Lavoie said they collected around 3,000 signatures to put a stop to the closure.

“We have a petition that we’re bringing to the House of Commons. We’ve also been asking boaters to sign a protest postcard that’s being sent in to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans letting him know that people are opposing the closure because it puts our safety at risk,” Lavoie said. Click here to view the petition

“There’s been a coast radio presence for safety located in Thunder Bay for more than a hundred years. The local radio operators have a great deal of knowledge of the areas particularly of Lake Superior, which most people know is a very dangerous body of water,” she added.

The area of radio coverage provided by Thunder Bay will be transferred to Sarnia Coast Guard Radio. There are no plans to increase the staffing level at Sarnia. This means that two radio operators will have the responsibility to listen for and respond to all calls for assistance from the Canadian waters of Lake Superior, St. Mary’s River, the North Channel, Lake Huron, Georgian Bay, St. Clair River, Lake St. Clair, the Detroit River and half of Lake Erie. Presently, for the most part, there are five radio operators (three in Thunder Bay and two2 in Sarnia) on listening watch for this area. No operators from Thunder Bay are being transferred to Sarnia meaning that all of the local knowledge accumulated by the radio operators in Thunder Bay over the years will be lost.

 

Corps says Lorain Harbor sustained $1.44M in damages from superstorm Sandy

2/18 - Lorain, Ohio – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Avon, is asking the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to commit money to repair the Lorain Harbor after it was ravaged by superstorm Sandy in October. The Corps of Engineers estimated that the harbor amassed $1.44 million in damages from the storm, which caused $17.7 million in damages to Great Lakes harbors.

On Thursday, Brown and the Senate sent a letter to Jo-Ellen Darcy, assistant secretary of the Army, asking that the Corps of Engineers direct funding from the Hurricane Sandy Emergency Supplemental Appropriations bill to repair the damaged harbors.

The funding would come from $50.5 billion in supplemental appropriations to aid victims and strengthen areas affected by the storm. According to a news release from Brown’s office, the Senate Committee on Appropriations assured that Great Lakes federal navigation projects would be eligible for some of the funding.

“Lorain Harbor holds both commercial and recreational significance to Northeastern Ohio and must be protected,” said a statement from Brown. Rick Novak, executive director of the Lorain Port Authority, said funding would help fix what hasn’t been repaired.

Novak said there is a good size breach in the breakwall that leads to the lighthouse that could potentially lead to a change in water flow patterns if it is not fixed. There is also damage to an interior berm, he said. Novak added that there hasnt been a comprehensive look at all the repairs needed yet.

“Once you get in there, there may be more damage than you know,” he said. Novak said the Lorain Harbor is important to the city, both commercially and recreationally. Terminal Ready-Mix Inc. and Standard LaFarge frequently use the harbor, which Novak said lowers the cost of road projects because the stone and materials come through the area. Novak said the harbor also provides residents with a number of jobs.

Chronicle Telegram

 

Lower lake levels don't necessarily mean more dredging jobs

2/18 - Sturgeon Bay, Wis. – One might think declining water levels on Lake Michigan would result in more business for companies that perform dredging projects. But Roen Salvage president John Asher says it's a bit more complicated than that – at least for his company.

Asher says much of their dredging work comes through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and it's not like the Corps is suddenly getting more money to spend on dredging. In fact he says it's possible they could be getting less because of potential funding cuts.

That said, Asher says Roen did pick up some low water-related dredging jobs, including projects at Potato Dock on Washington Island, and at Quarterdeck Marina and Strawberry Creek Estates in Sturgeon Bay.

Mike Cole is the owner of Iron Works Construction in Baileys Harbor, which recently did some dredging in frigid conditions at the Algoma Marina. Cole says his company is doing about the same number of dredging projects. He says the only difference is they haven't had to travel as far to do the work.

As for the lake levels, Cole says he expects the same thing that's been happening will continue to happen.

"It's going to go up and it's going to go down," says Cole.

"Rather than worry about what it's going to do, just be prepared for whatever it does and then you don't have to worry. If you're going to dredge, dredge enough to make it so that it lasts a while."

Door County Daily News

 

Flagship Niagara League creates new scholarship fund

2/18 - Erie, Pa. – The Flagship Niagara League has created a new scholarship opportunity for people who wish to sail aboard the U.S. Brig Niagara as trainees or apprentices.

The Flagship Niagara League will award 10 $1,000 scholarships and 10 $500 scholarships each of the next three years to applicants ages 16 and older who wish to participate in the Niagara Sailing Program.

Tuition for the Niagara's three-week, live-aboard program is $1,500, and the program involves participating as a crewmember this summer during the ship's Battle of Lake Erie Bicentennial Tour of the Great Lakes.

Scholarship applicants are required to submit a 100- to 1,000-word essay describing why they think they should receive the scholarship, an application and a $50 processing fee to become a Niagara trainee and have a criminal-background check.

Information for the application and criminal-background check is available on the Flagship Niagara League's website at www.flagshipniagara.org.

Inquiries, applications and essays should be submitted to Marine Operations Coordinator, Flagship Niagara League Inc., 150 E. Front St., Suite 100, Erie PA 16507, or by e-mail to sail@flagshipniagara.org. In the subject line, type the word "scholarship.''

Arthur M. Kimberly, who died in September 2011, bequeathed a $150,000 gift to provide opportunities to learn seamanship skills aboard the Niagara.

The Erie Times-News

 

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.

1980: The PANAGIS K. arrived at Alexandria, Egypt, on this date and was soon placed under arrest. The ship was idle and in a collision there with NORTH WAVE on January 23, 1981. The hull was abandoned aground, vandalized and, on October 12, 1985, auctioned off for scrap. The ship first traded through the Seaway in 1960 as a) MANCHESTER FAME and returned as b) CAIRNGLEN in 1965, again as c) MANCHESTER FAME in 1967 and as d) ILKON NIKI in 1972.

1983: A fire in the bow area during winter work aboard the Canada Steamship Lines bulk carrier RICHELIEU (ii) at Thunder Bay resulted in the death of three shipyard workers.

2010: The sailing ship CONCORDIA visited the Great Lakes in 2001 and participated in the Tall Ships Festival at Bay City, MI. It sank in the Atlantic about 300 miles off Rio de Janeiro after being caught in a severe squall. All 64 on board were rescued from life rafts after a harrowing ordeal.

2010: The tug ADANAC (Canada spelled backwards) sank at the Essar Steel dock at Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. It was refloated the next day.

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

 

Big ships dock at Port of Milwaukee for maintenance in winter

2/17 - Milwaukee, Wis. – The ice has thickened in the harbor, but the work hasn't slowed much at the Port of Milwaukee, where some of the biggest ships on the Great Lakes are moored for a winter overhaul. Six of the vessels are here until the start of the 2013 shipping season in late March.

Winter is the only time of year you can get a close-up look at 1,000-foot ships in Milwaukee because, other than being docked for winter repairs, the biggest ships on the Great Lakes don't stop at the port on Jones Island during their regular sailing season.

If one of the big ships were stood on its end, it would be taller than the U.S. Bank building.

Aboard one of the thousand footers, American Integrity, a couple of dozen workers are busy getting the iron ore carrier ready to sail again this spring.

"We do everything, soup to nuts," said Tom Balistreri, owner of Midwest Maritime Corp., a Franklin firm that does winter repairs on the Great Lakes fleet. The work could involve almost anything, from replacing a kitchen stove to rebuilding engines that cost millions of dollars and have to be overhauled every few years.

Everything has to be finished before the sailing season starts, usually on March 24, because delays could cost a ship's owners thousands of dollars an hour in lost time.

"The whole winter is stressful for us," Balistreri said, including nights when strong winds can move a ship and snap the lines that tether it to the dock.

That happened a few weeks ago, when huge gusts of wind moved the ship Burns Harbor "like a big sail," Balistreri said. He used a tugboat to keep the ship from drifting away from the dock during the six-hour ordeal.

"Between the tug and all of the lines we put out, we just had to wait for the wind to die down," he said. Since then, the ice has thickened and the Burns Harbor and other moored ships are less likely to move.

On average, about $500,000 worth of work is done on each vessel over the winter. Local contractors and out-of-state specialty firms dig into the massive 16-cylinder engines that power the ships and run nearly continuously from the start of the sailing season until it ends in January.

There's plenty of other work, too, such as overhauling a gearbox or repairing a ship's self-unloading system that handles hundreds of thousands of tons of cargo a year.

"It's kind of like plumbing. Sometimes you open something up and see the job just got bigger," Balistreri said.

As with home repairs, there's also a budget that sets priorities. If a ship's gearbox has to be rebuilt, for example, the cook might not get a new stove.

"Sometimes you have to rob Peter to pay Paul. But the gearbox will always get fixed," Balistreri said.

A Great Lakes ship has to be taken out of the water every five years for work on the hull and components below the waterline. It's a process that involves putting the ship in a special "dry dock" where the water is drained around it.

The dry-dock repairs, which can be done only in Sturgeon Bay and Erie, Pa., cost more than a million dollars. Most other repair work is done during the winter at ports such as Milwaukee, and the big vessels keep moving through the nine-month sailing season.

A single 1,000-foot ship carries as much cargo as three of the 600-foot ships common on the lakes 30 years ago. In one season, the 1,013-foot Paul R. Tregurtha carried 3,244,788 tons of iron ore to steel mills on the lower lakes.

The biggest ships on the Great Lakes are too big to squeeze through the Welland Canal that's part of the St. Lawrence Seaway. Thus, they remain locked in the lakes hauling iron ore, coal, salt and other commodities.

The 1,000-foot ships are like floating buildings with nearly a dozen flights of stairs from the engine room up to the navigation deck.

"We call them 'heart attack boats' " because of the stairs, said Steven Stelloh, a foreman with Midwest Maritime.

The work isn't for the careless, either, as decks get icy and heavy machinery is repaired under difficult conditions. Balistreri spent 15 years sailing on the Great Lakes where he was a wheelsman on the ship Arthur M. Anderson before settling down to become a tugboat captain in Milwaukee and supervise ship repairs.

"If you're with a good crew, it's a fun atmosphere. If not, it's the longest summer of your life," he said about sailing.

The winter repairs have their own challenges, including the weather and tight deadlines for the ships to sail in March. "Right now, we are working seven days a week to stay on schedule," said Tim Koss with Midwest Maritime.

Koss said he drops 30 pounds over the winter as he climbs thousands of steps a day on the ships. There's no need, he said, for a fitness club membership.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

 

Mid-West senators hope to fund repairs to damage from Hurricane Sandy

2/17 - Michigan’s U.S. senators – Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow – are among those urging the Army Corps of Engineers to allocate money to help the Great Lakes recover from Hurricane Sandy damage.

“While the Great Lakes navigation system is threatened due to underfunding, which has been worsened due to lakes levels that have hit record lows, the system also was damaged by Hurricane Sandy,” a group of Midwest senators wrote in a letter Thursday to Assistant Secretary of the Army Jo-Ellen Darcy. “This storm covered 900 miles, and impacted 24 states, including states surrounding the Great Lakes. Across the Great Lakes, gale force winds caused damage to breakwaters and silted in harbors and channels. On Lake Huron, wave heights reached 23 feet, in Lake Michigan the waves peaked at 22 feet, and the storm caused waves of 14 feet in Lake Erie.”

The letter says that the Army Corp of Engineers estimates that Great Lakes federal navigation projects had damages of about $17.7 million. The letter asks for the money to be directed to Great Lakes projects “so that breakwaters and piers can be repaired, and harbors and channels can be dredged to restore functionality.”

Levin and Stabenow are both Democrats. Other senators to sign the letter include Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) Al Franken (D-Minnesota), Richard Durbin (D-Illinois) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio).

The late October storm was one of the costliest in U.S. history. While there was some damage in the Midwest, damage was significantly worse in some northeast states, particularly New Jersey and New York.

Congress approved about $50.5 billion in supplemental appropriations related to Hurricane Sandy, the letter sent by the senators notes. That included $821 million for the Army Corp of Engineers.

Mlive

 

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.

1962: PINEMORE began Seaway service when the waterway was new in 1959. The ship was heavily damaged from a collision on Delaware Bay with the AMERICAN ARCHER and had to be beached. It was refloated on February 21, 1962, repaired and made it back to the Great Lakes later in the year. The vessel was lost as c) MALDIVE MAIL off Veravel, India, on May 31, 1975, following a fire and subsequent grounding.

1966: A rogue wave smashed the British freighter RIALTO on the Atlantic enroute from Saint John, NB to Aberdeen, Scotland, damaging the bridge. The ship was a regular Seaway trader beginning with 5 trips in 1962. It was ultimately scrapped at Whampoa, China, as b) SANDRA in 1971.

2010: The crankshaft aboard the Turkish freighter YAZUV SULTAN SELIM broke, disabling the vessel in the Ionian Sea southwest of Zakynthos. The ship was towed to Sicily and declared a total loss. Following a sale to Turkish shipbreakers, it arrived at Aliaga March 10, 2010, for dismantling. The ship had been a Seaway trader as a) RIO EXPLORER beginning in 1976 and as c) TURKAY B. beginning in 1993.

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

 

Seaway opening dates set

2/16 - The opening of the 2013 navigation season is scheduled to take place on the following dates and times:
• Montreal / Lake Ontario – 8 a.m. March 22
• Welland Canal – 8 a.m. March 22
• Sault Ste. Marie Locks and Canals: U.S. Soo Locks – March 25.

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

 

Dim future for Empire Mine?

2/16 - Marquette County, Mich. – The future is not bright for the Empire Mine on the Marquette Iron Range. As it stands right now, the Empire Mine will cease operations at the end of 2014. That is when their partnership with ArcelorMittal is set to expire. Mittal is the largest steelmaker in the world.

It has been known for a while that this agreement would end at the end of 2014, said Dale Hemmila, Cliffs Natural Resources director of public affairs in North America. He said people were holding out hope that a deal could be reached to extend the life of the facility.

"We've been saying for several years that Empire is challenged," said Hemmila. "Certainly, as you look at a mine that's this old, it's 50 years old this year, it shouldn't come as a surprise that things are more difficult to mine and process for sure."

Cliffs also owns the Tilden Mine, which is located just a few miles to the west of the Empire. It's unknown how many jobs could be transferred there from the Empire.

"The Tilden Mine does have an operating plan that takes us out roughly over the next 30 years or so, so it's not like mining is going away, or the shipping," Hemmila said. "We'll still be using the railroad and the docks here for sure."

"I guess you never say never, but at this point, we have to operate with what we know here in 2013," he added.

2012 was a rough year for Cliffs. Their revenue decreased by 11 percent from the previous year. That decline is due in large part to the drop in the global price of iron ore.

Upper Michigan's Source

 

Today in Great Lakes History -  February 16

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.

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.

1943: WAR OSIRIS was built at Port Arthur, Ontario, now part of Thunder Bay, in 1918. It was mined and sunk as c) LISTO near Spodsbjerg, Denmark, while enroute from Larvik, Norway, to Emden, Germany, with iron ore.

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

 

Green Bay ice breaking operations begin

2/15 - Green Bay, Wis. – U.S. Coast Guard reports ice breaking operations will commence on Feb. 17 in Little Bay De Noc down into Northern Green Bay and return on or about Feb. 22. The area of operations will be from Escanaba iron ore docks south out to Rock Island Passage. The notice did not include what vessels would be breaking the ice or what traffic it was for.

 

Shipmasters group elects first female president

2/15 - Port Huron, Mich. – Earlier this month, when the International Shipmasters Association held its annual Grand Lodge Convention in Traverse City, the organization elected its first-ever female president.

It’s a pretty big honor,” Poughkeepsie, N.Y., native and Great Lakes Maritime Academy graduate Rebecca Hancock said of the year-long appointment. “I have been around water most of my life.”

Hancock is also president of ISMA Grand Lodge 23 in Traverse City. She has worked as second mate aboard the research vessel Lake Guardian and is second mate and relief first mate on the Stewart J. Cort, the Great Lakes’ first 1,000-footer.

“I am hoping to increase people’s awareness of Great Lakes shipping and the International Shipmasters Association,” she told Paul Miller of Port Huron’s WPHM radio in a phone interview this week.

“In addition I would hope to use this position as a point of education myself, to learn more about some of the politics that affect our career and our daily work – to maybe get in touch with some of the senators and congressmen and have some dialog with them,” she said.

Hancock said she would also like to become a role model or mentor for other women who are either aspiring mariners or who are already working in some industry that is a traditionally male-dominated field.

She said she became a sailor working as a park guide at the U.S.S. Arizona memorial in Hawaii. “I saw the big ships in the navy yard that was on the property at the memorial. One day I wondered to myself what it would be like to be on one of those big ships,” she recalled.

“A friend of mine was in the engineering program at the academy in Traverse City and through some conversation with her I decided that I’d like to have a license and work on a ship, and that’s pretty much what brought me to the place I am today.

“It’s just like any other job, but your office moves,” observed about her workplace afloat.

WPHM

 

Steel production falls 15,000 tons in Great Lakes states

2/15 - Raw steel production in the country's Great Lakes region was 642,000 tons last week, according to estimates from the American Iron and Steel Institute. Production was down 15,000 tons from the week prior. The majority of raw steel production in the Great Lakes region occurs in Indiana and the Chicago area.

Production in the Southern District was estimated at 639,000 tons during the period that ended Feb. 9, up from 609,000 tons a week earlier.

U.S. steel mills had a capacity utilization rate of 76.1 percent last week, which is up from a 75.2 percent production rate a week earlier. Domestic mills have produced about 10.8 million tons of steel this year, down 6.7 percent from the same period in 2012.

NWI

 

Cliffs tests new pellet process on Iron Range

2/15 - Duluth, Minn. – Cliffs Natural Resources officials said Wednesday the company has been testing new, direct-reduced iron taconite pellets at two of its Minnesota plants – Northshore Mining in Silver Bay and United Taconite in Forbes near Eveleth.

The move to a much purer form of iron pellet would open a new market for the company’s taconite iron ore pellets, which now must go to larger blast furnaces to be made into iron and steel. And whatever plant lands the new technology could see a larger work force and more stable future.

More steel companies are using the direct-reduced process of steelmaking since the price of natural gas, used in the furnaces, has dropped in recent years.

Cliffs CEO Joe Carrabba said Wednesday during a media briefing that the company has been making test batches of taconite pellets that could be made into direct-reduced iron in electric arc furnaces.

Carrabba first announced the idea in June, saying the company was looking at spending about $200 million to upgrade one of its taconite operations to produce direct-reduced iron pellets for electric arc furnaces.

“We’re pretty enthusiastic that two of our facilities through tests runs and trials … have the ability to make DRI pellets,” Carrabba said Wednesday.

The company said the key was reducing the silica level of the pellet. It wasn’t yet clear at which of the two Minnesota plants the final DRI pellet improvements might be made.

Other companies also are trying to beef up the iron content of Minnesota ore to make it more valuable and increase markets and production options.

Essar Steel on Monday said it would supply DRI-ready taconite pellets from its new plant going up in Nashwauk, including selling some to ArcelorMittal mills in the U.S.

Mesabi Nugget is producing direct-reduced iron nuggets at its plant near Hoyt Lakes from iron ore concentrate recovered by Magnetation LLC from old waste ore dumps.

“This is an industry that continues to evolve in new technologies,” said Craig Pagel, president of the Minnesota Iron Mining Association. “Nobody is stagnant out there.”

Raw taconite ore is only about 30 percent iron when mined; through processing, it is concentrated to about 65 percent iron content, about the same as natural ore in Minnesota. Iron nuggets are up to 97 percent iron.

Carrabba said an uptick in auto sales and in construction have the company fairly bullish on 2013, when they expect a slight improvement in sales of its U.S. taconite.

Cliffs spent much of the media event talking about its huge expansion at its Bloom Lake iron ore mine in Canada. That project is on hold but is expected to move forward next year. The company said it still expects to be processing 14 million tons by 2015, and Carrabba called Bloom Lake “the future of our company.”

Cliffs also co-owns and manages Hibbing Taconite and owns and operates the Empire/Tilden operation in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The company confirmed that the Empire operation will permanently close in 2014 as previously announced.

Cliffs had a much tougher year in 2012 compared with 2011, due in large part to the drop in the global price of iron ore. Full-year revenue of $5.9 billion decreased $691 million, or 11 percent, from the previous year. The lower revenue was driven by a 23 percent decrease in year-over-year global or seaborne iron ore pricing. For the full year, Cliffs recorded a net loss attributable to Cliffs’ common shareholders of $899 million, or $6.32 per diluted share, compared with net profit of $1.6 billion, or $11.48 per diluted share, in 2011.

Cliffs’ global iron ore sales increased 5 percent to 42 million tons and the company’s board approved a quarterly cash dividend of 15 cents per common share.

Duluth News Tribune

 

Updates -  February 15

Historical Perspectives Gallery updated - New pictures in the Mohawk Deer gallery

 

Today in Great Lakes History -  February 15

In 1961, 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.

1990: The tug LOIS T. was swamped while docked at Hamilton and sank in a storm. The vessel was pumped out, refloated and repaired. It now serves as the Port Colborne based tug CHARLIE E.

1993: BELLE ISLE, an SD-14 cargo carrier, visited the Seaway when new in 1971. It was sailing as g) VAST OCEAN when it reported in on this day as sailing on the Sea of Japan. It was never heard from again and disappeared with all hands on a voyage from Vanimo, Russia, to Shanghai, China.

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

 

Great Lakes shipping industry rebounding from recession

2/14 - Detroit, Mich. – The shipping industry in the Great Lakes region is recovering from the extreme lows experienced in 2009, according to a report released Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration.

The report says the Great Lakes maritime industry is healthy and providing safe and environmentally friendly transportation services. It also said the industry is competitive with railways and trucks and, it is an essential part of the regional and national economies.

"This study shows that the recovery happening in communities all across the country is also happening right here in the Great Lakes, with cargos rebounding from the low levels reached in 2009," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "It confirms what we’ve long known – that the Great Lakes fleet provides efficient, safe and environmentally sound transportation services that remain competitive with other modes of freight transportation."

The study looked at a broad range of issues relevant to the water transportation industry. It provided information on U.S. vessels, ports, shipyards, cargo markets, emissions and ballast water regulations, dredging, regional planning, and other factors, with a focus on large dry bulk vessels, known as "lakers."

The report notes that in 2009, the Great Lakes maritime industry suffered from several challenging conditions, including a 33 percent drop in cargos due to the recession. The moderate recovery in waterborne cargoes since that time, aided by the recovery of the automobile and steel industries, is providing support to the water transportation industry.

Iron ore, the single most important cargo for U.S.-flag Lakers, has almost fully recovered to pre-recession levels. With the exception of coal, the major cargos of iron ore and limestone on the Great Lakes are projected to grow with the economy over the next several years.

Coal cargos have not recovered since the recession.

"The Department of Transportation is committed to a strong future for the maritime industry, and the Great Lakes fleet is an extremely important part of that future," said Maritime Administrator David Matsuda. "This study helps the agency and our industry partners better understand what we need to do to needed to keep Great Lakes shipping competitive and responsive to regional needs."

The Maritime Administration works to strengthen the maritime transportation system in the U.S. to meet the economic and security needs of the country.

ClickOnDetroit.com

 

Essar Steel's US arm signs supply pact with ArcelorMittal

2/14 - Essar Steel today said its US subsidiary, Essar Steel Minnesota LLC (ESML), has entered into a 10-year agreement with ArcelorMittal USA for annual supply of 3.5 million tonnes (MT) of iron ore pellets.

As per the agreement, Essar will supply standard and fluxed iron ore pellets to ArcelorMittal's North American operations and the supplies are expected to begin during the second half of 2013-14, ESML said in a statement.

However, the company did not disclose any financial details of the deal. "This off-take agreement demonstrates the marketability of ESML's high quality products to third parties in addition to Essar Steel Algoma, Canada," ESML President and Chief Executive Officer Madhu Vuppuluri said.

He added that ESML's diverse product portfolio includes standard, flux and DR grade iron ore pellets and the company "will be the only producer capable of producing all three types of pellets in Unites States".

Commenting on the agreement, ArcelorMittal, USA's Executive Vice President for Finance, Planning and Procurement John Brett said "This off-take agreement is consistent with our strategy of securing long term supply of critical raw materials within the region, and it provides material that meets the stringent standards of our blast furnaces.”

Essar Steel Minnesota LLC has about 2 billion tonnes of measured, indicated and inferred magnetite resources located in the western end of the Mesabi Iron Range in Minnesota. Of this, about 1.7 billion tonnes are proven and probable reserves.

The company also has about 290 MT of hematite resources. It is presently constructing a 7 MT per annum iron ore pellet plant at Nashwauk in Northern Minnesota, at an investment of USD 1.7 billion.

 

Commercial dock owners, shipping group concerned

2/14 - St. Joseph, Mich. – A proposal to build moorings for pleasure boats near the turning basin of the St. Joseph River harbor has run into opposition from commercial dock owners and a shipping organization.

The transient marina facility, proposed as part of the Harbor Village development, could put small vessels in danger when ships are using the basin to maneuver or turn around to leave the harbor, officials said.

Pete Berghoff, who operates Dock 63 on Marina Island, said the moorings, if installed, could bring small boats into conflict with 700-foot-long vessels that weigh thousands of tons.

"The amount of water they move when they shift around is incredible," Berghoff said. "It will impact the safe navigation of the inner harbor."

The turning basin, a large open area of water and part of the federally maintained navigation channel, is on the north side of the St. Joseph River between the Blossomland and Bicentennial bridges. Plans for the transient marina, the developers say, provide a wide margin of safety, a minimum of 120 feet from the moorings to the farthest reach of the turning basin.

Ron Schults, of Edgewater Resources of St. Joseph, the firm doing the design work and project coordination, said the development's harbormaster would be available at all times to get boats moved if the need arose. Typically, only a few ships use the turning basin each year.

"What we're hoping for is a meeting to go through this with all the parties," Schults said, "so we can address the concerns and the needs of the communities. Hopefully we can work it out."

Schults, who is a partner in Harbor Village, said to have commercial shipping and recreational boating operate safely in the same waterway and the St. Joseph River harbor is no exception. Construction is already under way for the main part of the $114 million Harbor Village project to the north and east of the turning basin.

The project includes a 97-room hotel, condominiums and a marina, scheduled for completion in 2014. Future phases are to include more condos and other housing. The marina is being built off the turning basin in a way that does not interfere with commercial traffic.

Harbor Village at Harbor Shores LLC, the developer, is now seeking a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers to build the transient marina facility and other amenities at the edge of the water near the turning basin.

The St. Joseph River Harbor Authority, Dock 63, Central Dock and the Lake Carriers' Association have expressed concerns to the Army Corps, which is receiving public comment. Based in Cleveland, the Lake Carriers Association represents 17 American companies that operate ships on the Great Lakes.

While voicing support for the overall project concept, they oppose allowing any development that would encroach on the federal navigation channel.

Because the harbor handles commercial shipping at three docks, the federal government is responsible for maintenance dredging and other work. The Army Corps is responsible, though no funding has been appropriated this year.

Harbor Village's proposed transient marina project calls for the installation of 1,015 feet of sheet steel pilings along the edge of the water and dredging about 14,150 cubic yards of soil. Fender pilings would be installed at intervals along a 700-foot section of the sheet steel for boats to tie up, and a hoist would be available to lift boats. Boats would be tied up broadside, parallel to the shore. The facility would be used as temporary docking for boaters.

The plan further calls for construction of a kayak launch and a pedestrian bridge over the Paw Paw River as part of a regional trail system.

Diagrams submitted with the application show the construction to be just outside the limit of the navigation channel maintained by the Army Corps. The construction would take place within a narrow strip hugging the shoreline.

But commercial dock owners say that space allowance doesn't take into account the size difference between pleasure boats and the massive Great Lakes cargo vessels. Ships require 45 minutes to an hour, sometimes longer, to maneuver into position to exit the harbor.

To turn, vessels are equipped with bow thrusters and stern thrusters, propulsion devices so powerful that they can capsize or severely damage a small boat caught in the stream of water.

The Harbor Authority voted in December to submit a letter to the Army Corps stating opposition to the Harbor Village plan to build transient marina facilities.

While all parts of the federal navigation channel are used and should be used by commercial and recreational craft, the letter said, "some forms of use are incompatible."

The size of the cargo ships leaves them no option but to maneuver "over the full extent of federal channel," the letter said.

Schults said the developers have met with shippers and the county, and he believes solutions can be found. The area proposed for the transient marina is a safe distance from the point a ship would reach while turning around, he said.

Ships could not get closer because the Army Corps does not dredge to the edge of the navigation channel limit in the turning basin, leaving the water too shallow for large vessels.

Schults said he supports commercial shipping because the delivery of cement, sand, stone and other commodities by water keeps down construction costs.

"We can peacefully co-exist with them," he said. "We have shipping and recreational boating in all the places we've built."

Herald-Palladium

 

Coast Guard begins probe into tall ship's fatal sinking

2/14 - A U.S. Coast Guard hearing has opened to investigate the October sinking of the replica ship HMS Bounty off Cape Hatteras and the deaths of her captain and a crew member as the vessel fought unsuccessfully to outmaneuver Hurricane Sandy.

At issue in the hearings are the actions of the ship's captain, Robin Walbridge, who chose to head out to sea despite the approach of Sandy, one of the largest storms in decades to hit the U.S. East Coast.

The reproduction HMS Bounty was built for the 1962 filming of Mutiny on the Bounty, the story of the seizure in 1789 of the British ship from Captain William Bligh in the South Pacific.

The Bounty was taking on water when it went down in 30-foot waves and hurricane-force winds about 90 miles off Cape Hatteras on October 29. Fourteen people were saved in a dramatic Coast Guard rescue. The body of crew member Claudene Christian, 42, was picked up later; Walbridge, 63, was never found and is presumed to have drowned.

Gurnal Scott of member station WUNC reports that Tuesday "will begin eight days of hearing testimony to find out why the ship sank. Testimony will come from surviving crew members and those at the port where the Bounty departed from as well as Coast Guard rescuers."

In a just-published article, Outside magazine reports that there are questions about the thoroughness of the ship's refits, including one that was completed just days before the sinking.

Scott reports that the goal of the Portsmouth, Va., investigation is "not to assign blame but to get to the heart of the deadly incident," although if wrongdoing is established, the findings could be handed over to federal prosecutors.

While the Coast Guard panel may not be in a hurry to assign blame, at least two tall ship captains have expressed disbelief over Walbridge's decision to challenge the storm even though weather information and warnings about Sandy's size and strength were available before the ship departed New London, Conn., en route for St. Petersburg, Fla.

A day after the sinking, Dan Moreland, captain of the tall ship Picton Castle, expressed shock that Walbridge had decided to go to sea, calling the situation "black and white" with "no nuances."

In an open letter posted on Facebook a few weeks after the incident, another captain, Jan Cameron Miles of Pride of Baltimore II, a replica of a 19th-century schooner, described Walbridge's actions as reckless.

"I would not have continued to proceed as you did," he wrote. "Frankly, I do not know anyone with a lot of experience in large vessels ... [who] would have considered heading toward a hurricane like you did with Sandy."

The Associated Press reports that the Bounty's chief mate, John Svendsen, told the hearing Tuesday that he urged Walbridge to abandon ship twice before the order was given. He said the captain also delayed placing a distress call to the Coast Guard.

NPR

 

Help wanted: Operations manager

2/14 - Northern Transportation Company Limited (NTCL) is looking to fill two full-time management positions. Shipyard Manager NTCL owns and operates a shipyard dedicated to the docking and repair of its company-owned tugs and barges. The yard is located on the South Shore of Great Slave Lake, Northwest Teritories, Canada, in the small community of Hay River.

We are currently looking for a full-time manager with office, ship repair and project management experience to oversee all segments of the operation. We are also looking for a full-time manager, marine engineering experience preferred, to assist in the management of our Eastern tug and barge operations located out of St. Johns, Newfoundland.

For more specifics concerning these opportunities, go to www.ntcl.com/contact/careers To apply contact Allan Sadowsky at 780-969-3887 or asadowsky@ntcl.com

 

Help wanted: Marine officers and engineers

2/14 - We offer full time employment opportunity for Deck Officers and Engineers for Canadian flag Great Lakes self-unloading tug/barge cement carriers. We are looking for candidates with some dry bulk or tug/barge experience. We offer highest salaries and benefits in tug/barge operations including 2 months onboard with 1 month off paid vacation, medical coverage and Family Security Plan all under a collective agreement. We expect from candidates strong communication skills and good work ethic. Candidates must be able to travel to the US portions of the Great Lakes area and must have valid Canadian passport, all applicable Transport Canada certificates and valid medical certificate issued by Transport Canada.

Transport Canada Certificates required for following positions are:
Chief Mate Watchkeeping Mate NC or OOW-C, STCW II/2
Watchkeeping Mate Watchkeeping Mate NC or OOW-C, STCW II/1
Second / Third Engineer 3rd / 4th Motor Ship, STCW III/1 or 3

Please send your resume to: Human Resources, Fettes Shipping Inc., 3385 Harvester Road – Suite 250, Burlington, ON L7N 3N2. Fax: 905-333-6588 or email fettes-glits@on.aibn.com

 

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 1,000-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.

1997: The SD 14 cargo ship PATRICIA M. was a Seaway trader in 1974 and returned as c) SELATAN in 1991. It was sailing as d) NIKA II when it stranded on a breakwall near Veracruz, Mexico, while inbound, in ballast, to load sugar. The hull was refloated on March 8, towed to an anchorage and declared a total loss. It was broken up for scrap at Tuxpan, Mexico, beginning on April 27, 1997.

2000: ZAFIRO, a Seaway trader in 1984, sank as d) ZAFIR off Calabria, Italy, after a collision with the ESPRESSO CATANIA while carrying 6000 tons of cement clinker. Thirteen sailors were lost or missing.

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

 

Commercial traffic to break ice at Ludington

2/13 - Ludington, Mich. – The tug Spartan will take a barge from docks near the S.S. Badger to Lake Michigan on Wednesday or Thursday. Multiple trips are possible over the next few weeks. Recreational users of the ice should plan their activity carefully, use caution near the ice, and stay away from shipping channels and the charted Lake Carriers Association track lines.

 

Harbors, marinas would be helped with Michigan's emergency dredging plan

2/13 - Lansing, Mich. – Harbors and marinas from the Upper Peninsula to metro Detroit would get some financial help under an emergency dredging plan developed by state officials in response to declining Great Lakes water levels.

The plan would rely on $21 million as proposed by Gov. Rick Snyder in his budget plan announced last week. The Legislature would have to approve a supplemental funding request and some financial transfers before the money could be allocated and spent.

The emergency dredging plan from the Michigan State Waterways Commission -- announced last week -- comes as water levels drop in the Great Lakes. Lake Michigan and Lake Huron are at record lows. The dredging program would involve the removal of accumulated sediments at the bottom of waterways to maintain adequate depth for shipping and boating. It’s seen as an important business, tourism and safety issue in Michigan.

The state surveyed 83 public recreational boating harbors in December and January to come up with the targeted dredging list. The plan allows for grants for harbors, marinas and boat launches.

The 49 locations identified for the emergency dredging plan and total estimated costs, according to a list provided Monday by the Department of Natural Resources:

Alpena Small Boat Harbor - $805,000
Arcadia Township/Veterans Memorial Marina - $133,000
Bay City/Liberty Harbor Marina - $77,800
Big Bay Harbor of Refuge (Marquette County) - $665,000
Boyne City/Grant Moore Marina - $105,000
Burt Township/Grand Marais Marina - $525,000
Caseville Municipal Harbor - $630,000
Clark Township/Cedarville Harbor - $56,000
Clark Township/Hessel Marina - $77,000
Cheboygan County Marina - $612,500
Cheboygan City Municipal Marina - $3,150
East Jordan City Marina - $420,000
Elk Rapids/Edward C. Grace Memorial Harbor - $420,000
Escanaba Municipal Marina - $262,500
Frankfort Municipal Marina - $2.24 million
Garfield Township/Naubinway Marina - $315,000
Grand Haven Marina (Harbor Island BAS) - $180,000
Grand Traverse Bay Marina - $77,770
Harbor Beach Municipal Marina - $700,000
Harbor Springs Municipal Marina - $700,000
Harrisville Harbor of Refuge - $280,000
Lake Erie Metropark Marina - $210,000
Lake St. Clair/Metrobeach Metropark Marina - $549,500
Leland Township Harbor - $420,000
Ludington Municipal Marina - $20,000
Mackinaw City Municipal Marina - $150,000
Manistee Municipal Marina - $23,450
Manistique Municipal Marina - $194,400
Menominee Marina - $2.1 million
Munising Bayshore Marina - $350,000
Muskegon/Hartshorn Municipal Marina - $175,000
New Buffalo Municipal Marina - $1 million
Northport/G. Marsten Dame Marina - $87,500
Pentwater Municipal Marina - $16,205
Petoskey City Marina - $49,000
Port Huron/River Street Marina - $71,995
Port Huron/Fort Street Marina - $71,995
Port Sanilac Municipal Harbor of Refuge - $280,000
Rogers City Marina - $227,500
South Haven Municipal Marina - $436,050
St. James Township/Beaver Island Marina - $1 million
St. Joseph/West Basin Marina - $105,000
Whitehall/White Lake Municipal Marina - $182,000
Cedar River State Harbor - $1.4 million
Lac La Belle State Harbor - $70,000
Lexington State Harbor - $1.05 million
Little Lake State Harbor - $630,000
Port Austin State Harbor - $700,000
William G. Milliken State Harbor (Detroit) - $4,200

About $11.5 million for the projects would come from the state’s general fund. The rest would come from money within the waterways maintenance and support system money that might otherwise go to maintaining breakwalls or docks.

MLive

 

February Marine News - Demolitions

2/13 - Marine News, the monthly journal of the World Ship Society, reports the following Seaway salties going for scrap in the February 2013 issue.

The Greek bulk carrier ALEXANDRIA first came inland in 1983 as a) XENIA and returned as b) ALEXANDRIA in 1986. While not an annual caller, the vessel did return from time to time. The vessel was sold to Bangladesh shipbreakers and arrived at Chittagong on Dec. 12, 2012 and was beached Dec. 24 for scrapping.

AMIRA DINA was built in 1981 as YANNIS C. and began Seaway service in 1985. The ship returned inland as b) PINDOS in 1986, c) IKAN SELAYANG in 1989, d) KAKAWI in 1999 and e) PYTHEAS in 2000. The vessel arrived at Gadani Beach, Pakistan, for scrapping on December 26, 2012.

ARTEMIS, another Greek flag freighter, was built in 1984 and came inland that year as a) UNION PIONEER. It returned as b) MANILA PROSPERITY beginning in 1988, c) CONSENSUS SUN in 1989, d) WILTRADER in 1992 and e) ANTALINA in 1994. It made international news in September 2008 after losing power on the Gulf of Mexico during Hurricane Ike but the ship, and all on board, survived. It became f) ARTEMIS in 2009 and arrived at Alang, India, for dismantling on November 27, 2012.

KAPITAN VAKULA was fresh from the shipyard when it first visited the Great Lakes in 1983. The ship arrived at Alang, India, under the original name on Dec. 5, 2012, and was beached Dec. 12 for dismantling by Nagarsheth Shipbreakers Ltd.

MAKEEV first came through the Seaway as a) WORLD SHANGHAI when it was new in 1982. The ship joined Azov Shipping of Russia as b) MAKEEVKA in 1985 and began coming to the Great Lakes in 1994. It was a regular trader for 11 years making a total of 21 voyages through the Seaway. The ship was last registered in Moldova and arrived at Alang, India, on Dec. 5, 2012, for scrapping by Bansal International Ltd.

RATAN PEARL was only the second Czechoslovakian flag trader to the Great Lakes. It came through the Seaway in November 1989 with fertilizer for Toledo as a) OTAVA. The ship arrived at Chittagong, Bangladesh, as g) RATAN PEARL for scrapping on October 19, 2012.

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.

Submitted by Barry Andersen, Rene Beauchamp and Skip Gillham

 

Updates -  February 13

Historical Perspectives Gallery updated - New pictures in the E B Barber, George M Carl, and Pinedale galleries

 

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

1941: The first WESTCLIFFE HALL, overseas to assist in the war effort, was damaged when hit by a bomb while two miles off Whitby High Light. The ship was repaired and returned to the Great Lakes after the war. It last sailed as b) WHEATON in the Misener fleet before scrapping at Hamilton in 1965-1966.

1973: MITERA MARIA loaded street cars on deck during a Great Lakes visit to Toronto in August 1967. The ship sustained fire damage in the engineroom at Karachi, Pakistan, as d) MARBELLA and sold for scrap. The 25-year old vessel was broken up at Gadani Beach in 1974.

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

 

Wisconsin reports 4.8 percent increase in exports

2/12 - Milwaukee, Wis. – Wisconsin had $23.1 billion in total exports in 2012, according to U.S. Census data released Friday. That represents about a 4.8 percent increase over 2011 and is slightly above the 4.5 percent increase for total U.S. exports for the same period.

Products are shipped from Wisconsin ports on the Mississippi River and in Milwaukee, Green Bay and Superior. The top export markets, by country and dollar amount, are Canada, $7.6 billion; Mexico, $2.2 billion; and China, $1.5 billion.

The numbers aren't always what they seem at first glance. They're based on products exported from a state's shipping ports rather than products grown or made in that state. For example, under state agricultural export figures, Louisiana could be the top exporter of corn and most other farm commodities because of the Port of New Orleans and the Mississippi River, which handle millions of tons of products from all over the United States.

Likewise, wheat and other agricultural products from South Dakota and some other states shipped from Wisconsin ports contribute to Wisconsin's export numbers.

By value, shipments to Canada accounted for 33 percent of the state's total exports in 2012, up nearly 7 percent. Exports to Japan were up 17 percent, Australia up 13 percent, China up nearly 12 percent and Mexico up about 9 percent, according to the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.

Wisconsin ranks 18th among export states, said Lora Klenke, vice president of international development for Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. Industrial machinery dominates the export categories, accounting for nearly 32 percent of the export value in 2012. Agricultural exports increased to a record-high $2.9 billion, up 3 percent.

Some categories declined, including electrical machinery, which was down nearly 7 percent. Shipments of electrical transformers, telecommunications equipment, electrical motors and circuit boards all were down.

Cereal grains, a previous driver for Wisconsin exports, were down 52 percent - probably the result of some exporters from outside the state choosing other shipping ports. Likewise, corn exports were down 63 percent.

The Port of Milwaukee had a 30 percent decline in total cargo tonnage in 2012, as a mild winter led to smaller volumes of salt and coal arriving by ship, port officials said Friday. Total tonnage fell to 2,016,161 metric tons from 2,895,003 metric tons in 2011. Port officials said increases in steel, grain and cement tonnage were not enough to offset declines in salt and coal.

The port had a 34.5 percent increase in the amount of cargo traveling to and from foreign ports in 2012.

The final numbers show 210,406 metric tons of cargo went through either the St. Lawrence Seaway or by the inland river system to overseas ports. Typical cargo included steel for manufacturing and large finished goods shipped around the world.

For the first time in decades, port officials said, Milwaukee had U.S.-flagged cargo vessels carry locally made goods overseas. The ship Maersk-Illinois transported two mining shovels destined for Siberia, and the ship BBC Houston carried a shovel overseas.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

 

Coast Guard ice rescue crews in Saginaw Bay rescue 10

2/12 - Cleveland, Ohio – Coast Guard crews from Air Station Detroit and Station Saginaw River, in Essexville, Mich., rescued 10 people, including two children, on Saginaw Bay Sunday night, during two separate cases.The names of those rescued are not being released.

Six people were rescued from the ice southeast of Linwood Beach, and four people were rescued off Fish Point, Mich.

At 9 p.m., Sunday night, search-and-rescue coordinators from Coast Guard Sector Detroit received a report of two snowmobilers who broke through the ice southeast of Linwood Beach, in Linwood, Mich. Two good samaritans arrived on scene but were unable to assist and also became stranded because of expanding fissures in the ice. The six people took shelter in an ice shanty. Station Saginaw River rescue crew launched aboard a 20-foot Special Purpose Craft-Air to assist.

The rescue crew transported the six people to Thomas Marina in Linwood, where they were evaluated by emergency medical services and released in good health.

One hour later, at approximately 10 p.m., a watchstander at Coast Guard Station Saginaw Bay received a 911 relay about four people stranded on an ice floe in Saginaw Bay near Linwood. A rescue crew from Station Saginaw River launched aboard a 20-foot Special Purpose Craft-Air to assist. A rescue aircrew from Coast Guard Air Station Detroit launched aboard an MH-65C Dolphin helicopter. Also assisting were Linwood, Kawkawlin and Bay County Fire Department rescue crews.

The Coast Guard rescue airboat crew removed the four people from the ice floe and transported them to shore where they were evaluated by EMS and released in good condition.

"The people that were rescued today got into trouble because they were unaware of the changing weather conditions, said Petty Officer 2nd Class Don Hamilton, a crewmember on the ice rescue team at Coast Guard Station Saginaw River. “If there was one thing that I could tell people to avoid a similar situation it would be to become intelligent about the current weather conditions and more importantly the future weather conditions. Understanding the effects the weather has on the strength of ice would help people avoid getting into these extremely hazardous situations.”

Sixteen people have been rescued from the ice in Saginaw Bay this weekend by the Coast Guard and local agencies. Five were rescued by an MH-65C Dolphin Helicopter, from Air Station Detroit, Friday night. Another man was rescued Friday night by an ice rescue team from the Bay County Fire Department

People who are looking for recreation on the ice need to be wary of ice conditions, said Capt. Andrew Sugimoto, chief of the 9th Coast Guard District Incident Management Branch. Ice that is safe now may not be in two hours when you need to get back to shore.

 

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.

1965: MARGIT, a Danish vessel, came inland in 1964 for one trip. It suffered an explosion and fire in the engine room about 1000 miles southwest of Honolulu on a voyage from Vancouver, British Columbia, to Calcutta, India, and had to be abandoned. Three members of the crew were killed and the ship was burning fiercely when last seen. The drifting hull later grounded at Wotje Atoll, Marshall Islands, and was found, still burning, on March 11, 1965. The ship was a total loss.

1975: E.B. BARBER was in winter quarters at Port Colborne when a fire broke out in the engine room. Local fire fighters contained and extinguished the blaze.

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

 

Lake Erie could freeze over in 2013

2/11 - Erie, Pa. – Lake Erie, the shallowest of the Great Lakes, is also the one most likely to be covered with ice.

But it doesn't happen most years. Less than 14 percent of Lake Erie was covered by ice during the mild winter of 2011-12, and the last time the lake was 100 percent ice covered was 2009-10, and before that, 1995-96.

"It may get completely ice covered this year, depending on the weather," said George Leshkevich, a research physical scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. "The maximum percentage of ice coverage for Lake Erie usually occurs in mid- to late February."

What happens when the lake freezes?
• It reduces the amount of lake-effect snow because cold winds coming across the lake don't pick up the energy and water vapor they do when the lake is unfrozen.

• It protects fish spawning beds that could be damaged by storms.

• It helps Lake Erie retain more water because less moisture is lost from lake-effect snow that falls south of the Lake Erie Watershed near Interstate 90, and ends up in the Mississippi River, Leshkevich said.

• 66.3: The percentage of Lake Erie covered by ice Thursday. Last Tuesday, it was 74.7 percent.

• 13.9: The percentage of the lake that was covered Jan. 21, 2012. The lake had very little ice last season.

• 94.1: The percentage of the lake that was covered on Feb. 8, 2011, about consistent with the previous two years. On Feb. 9, 2010, it was 93.1 percent; on Feb. 5, 2009, it was 95.5 percent.

The Erie Times-News

 

Seaway salties renamed

2/11 - The following is a list of salties that have been renamed, with each one having visited the Great Lakes/Seaway system at least once.

The list includes BBC Orinoco, which was a newcomer under two names in the Seaway in 2011 also as Gisele Scan, has been renamed Clipper Miami with Antigua/Barbuda registry. Her fleetmate BBC Rio Grande, another newcomer and visitor to the Seaway in 2010 and renamed Gabrielle Scan, has been renamed again to Clipper Macau of Antigua/Barbuda registration.

Other renames include BBC Ecuador now Jonas of Antigua/Barbuda registry, BBC Emsland now Emsland of Antigua/Barbuda flag, BBC Portugal now the Mareike B of Antigua/Barbuda, Beluga Elegance which was renamed to the Freesia has been renamed again to BBC Minnesota of Antigua/Barbuda flag.

Denny Dushane

 

Help Wanted

2/11 - Lake Michigan Carferry is now accepting applications for a Mate’s position aboard the S.S. Badger.

This position offers a fun and challenging work environment and highly competitive wages. Candidates must possess at minimum a valid USCG license as “Mate Great Lakes and Inland Any Gross Tons”. A valid TWIC is also necessary. 1st Class Pilot is preferred.

Applications and Resume’s may be directed to:
Lake Michigan Carferry
P.O. Box 708
Ludington, MI 49431
Attn: Human Resources

Or fax to 231-843-4558 or email to aaron@ssbadger.com

 

Updates -  February 11

News Photo Gallery
Historical Perspectives Gallery updated - New pictures in the Mohawk Deer gallery

 

Today in Great Lakes History -  February 11

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

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

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 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 men 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.

1987: UNILUCK first came through the Seaway in 1977. The vessel was sailing as b) TINA when it reported water entering the engine room and cargo holds in the Sula Sea off the Philippines. The crew said they were abandoning the ship but no trace of them or their vessel was ever found.

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

 

Ice causes delays in the salt trade

2/10 - Algoma Enterprise and Algosteel continue the late season salt trade from Goderich, Ont.

Saturday morning the westbound Algosteel reached the ice clogged Straits of Mackinac about 6:30 a.m. and fell in behind the USCG Thunder Bay for escort through the ice. The Mackinaw departed Station St. Ignace and caught up to the pair west of the bridge to assist through the ice.

Algosteel continued on to Milwaukee to unload, while the icebreaker headed back east. Thunder Bay tied up at St. Ignace, while the Mackinaw continued east, returning to its home mooring in Cheboygan about 6:30 p.m.

Heavy ice in the Straits has been causing delays as the wind and subzero temperatures pile the ice up, making close escort by icebreakers necessary.

The Canadian Coast Guard Ship Samuel Risley has been working Lake Huron assisting the salt ships into Goderich and working the lower lakes.

 

Two Great Lakes hit record low levels: Climate crisis or natural cycle?

2/10 - Water levels in Lake Huron and Lake Michigan are the lowest they've ever been since records keeping began in 1918, according to the US Army Corps of Engineers. That finding, which corresponds to a decade of diminished precipitation and higher temperatures, worries shipping and commercial fishing interests, with both industries saying it will have harsh economic consequences.

"We're in an extreme situation," Keith Kompoltowicz, watershed hydrology chief for the Corps' Great Lakes Hydraulics and Hydrology Office in Detroit, told the Associated Press Tuesday.

The Corps reported this week that both lakes were 29 inches below their long-term average and that levels had declined 17 inches since January 2012 alone. The agency said the water levels have been below average for the past 14 years, which is the longest period of sustained below average levels since 1918. Continued record lows are expected for the first few months of this year.

A hot and dry summer in the Midwest increased evaporation throughout the fall, followed by several lower-than-average snowfalls in the winter. That led to a seasonal rise in both lakes last year of only four inches, which is eight inches below normal, the Corps said.

The decline presents a long-term threat to carriers that rely on the Great Lake system for transport. The American Waterways Operators, an advocacy group for the tugboat, towboat, and barge industry in Arlington, Va., said that every inch of water loss in the Great Lakes decreases the carrying capacity of a single barge by 17 tons of cargo. That means that the loss of a foot would cause a capacity loss of 204 tons per barge.

In a statement, the organization called the water loss "a severe, ongoing situation."

Similarly, the Lake Carriers' Association, an advocacy group representing 17 companies that use the Great Lakes for cargo transport, estimated that thousands of tons of cargo could not be transported in 2012. Charter boat and commercial fishing operators around the Great Lake region also said they fear tourism dollars will decline during their busy summer and fall season.

Researchers blame excessive dredging, both by the Chicago River system, which diverts water to the South, and the St. Clair River, which diverts water to deepen navigational channels to Lake Erie, Lake Ontario, and eventually the Atlantic Ocean. The International Joint Commission, a Canadian-US organization that looks for solutions to waterway issues, said it will release a report next month that examines the effect of dredging, among other factors, on water levels in the Great Lakes.

David Allan, a professor in the School of Natural Resources and the Environment at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, says that, while the water drop is indeed historic, data shows that it follows a somewhat cyclical pattern. The current level, for instance, is just short of previous low points in the 1930s and 1960s.

Whether or not water levels will continue to drop is uncertain, he says, as is whether or not climate change is entirely responsible. He says that factors such as warming temperatures and decreased precipitation are present, but suggests that others could be at play as well, such as dredging and natural fluctuations in water levels.

"The science is maybe a little early to fully understand fluctuations in order to fully identify climate change as a driver of this drop, but there is evidence of climate change over the last thirty or forty years that would lead you to expect these water level drops to occur," Dr. Allan says.

Because not enough is known to predict where water levels will go from here, the Corps has not yet taken action to stop them from dropping. Mr. Kompoltowicz of the Corps told the Associated Press that funding was limited and that nothing would be considered until 2015. Allan says it is unlikely the Corps will launch an expensive and long-term project without the certainty of a forecast.

"You could put in water control structures at the St. Clair and hold back more water for Michigan and Huron, but there are downstream consequences if the water level drop is a natural one and water gets back up four or five feet higher than it is now," Allan said. "So if you can't conclude water levels are going to be low forever, you're not going to put in an expensive engineering project that would take a very long time."

ABC News

 

Port Huron River Walk project enters second phase

2/10 - Port Huron, Mich. – The Community Foundation of St. Clair County is preparing bid packages for the second phase of the Blue Water River Walk project.

The work will include the partial removal, cut down and stabilization of two large timber walls immediately south of the old railroad ferry dock in the St. Clair River.

Randy Maiers, president and chief executive officer of the foundation, said the project is estimated to cost about $100,000.

The entire project is the Community Foundation’s most expensive, with an estimated cost of $5 million to $6 million. The 4,300-foot stretch of property along the St. Clair River between Vantage Point and the Seaway Terminal was donated to the foundation by Acheson Ventures.

The phase-two projects are being funded by a $2 million grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Great Lakes Habitat Restoration Program.

Once phase two is complete, the foundation will begin the next phase of shoreline and habitat restoration and restore and reopen the ferry dock. A paved trail also will be added to the area.

The paved trail will be funded through a $211,000 grant from the Michigan Department of Transportation and more than $200,000 in matching funds the Community Foundation has raised.

Maiers said restoring the shoreline that was historically used for industry is a big undertaking. The foundation restored about 450 feet of shoreline in the fall. In that 450 feet, workers removed 2,600 tons of industrial debris.

“It’s mind boggling,” Maiers said. “We’re literally rebuilding a new shoreline, but you have to take all the unhealthy shoreline away.”

A $250,000 grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services Coastal Program funded the pilot project. The new shoreline will result in better habitat for fish, wildlife and plants. The work on the large timber walls should be started before the end of March.

“We’re excited about putting shovels back in the ground again,” Maiers said. “Once we start, it will probably be pretty steady work through the middle of 2014.”

Donations and other grants will cover the cost of the projects.

Other groups have jumped on board with the project. Port Huron Rotary Club plans to create a park at the north end of the walk. The group is raising funds to pay for the park, which is estimated to cost between $35,000 and $55,000.

Port Huron Times Herald

 

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

1973: The CUNARD CAVALIER was launched at Seville, Spain. It first appeared on the lakes in 1978.

1981: A pair of former Seaway traders collided in the Mediterranean off Algiers and one sank. The FEDDY had been inland as b) SUNSEA in 1969, c) SAGA SAILOR in 1971 and as d) ELLY in 1976. It went to the bottom with the loss of 32 lives. This ship had been enroute from Boston to Volos, Italy, with a cargo of scrap steel. The second vessel, SOUNION, survived. It had been to the Great Lakes as a) SUGAR CRYSTAL in 1968 and was back as b) SOUNION in 1979. It sailed until scrapping at Gadani Beach, Pakistan, following arrival as c) MED VITORIA on April 17, 1993.

1982: TEXACO BRAVE (ii) was pushed off course by the ice and current and struck the bridge crossing the St. Lawrence at Quebec City damaging a mast and the radar. The vessel still sails as d) ALGOEAST.

1984: Scrapping of the Italian freighter b) VIOCA got underway at La Spezia, Italy. The ship made 8 trips through the Seaway as a) BAMBI from 1959 to 1964.

1984: The AEGIS FURY arrived at Shanghai, China, for scrapping as e) WELL RUNNER. The ship first came to the Great Lakes in 1972.

Data from: Skip Gillham, 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.

 

Updates -  February 9

Historical Perspectives Gallery updated - New pictures in the Lemoyne, Meaford, Mohawk Deer, and Pinedale galleries.
 

 

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.

1964: The Collingwood built tug PUGWASH (Hull 85 - 1930) was torn from its moorings at Harbour Grace, Newfoundland. The vessel drifted out to sea and sank.

2009: The SONATA suffered engine failure in the Gulf of Finland and had to be towed to Talinn, Estonia, for repairs. It was arrested there, sold at auction and broken up for scrap locally. The ship had been a Great Lakes visitor first as c) RENTALA in 1988 and was back as d) MARY W. in 1990 and f) LANGESUND in 2000.

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

 

Great Lakes ore trade Down 11 percent in January

2/8 - Cleveland, Ohio – Shipments of iron ore on the Great Lakes in January totaled 3.2 million tons, a decrease of 11 percent compared to a year ago. The comparison is somewhat problematic, as the locks at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, stayed open until January 18 in 2012, but closed on January 15 this year. The extra three days in 2012 were necessary to allow cargos to move that had been delayed by weather.

A storm this January could have justified a similar extension. U.S.-flag lakers lost more than 300 hours to heavy weather and then a jam-up at a Lake Superior loading port. At least one iron ore cargo was cancelled for fear the vessel would not be able to reach the locks by the required time.

There were no shipments to Quebec City in January.

Lake Carriers' Association

 

Coast Guard to begin 2-week search and rescue field exercise

2/8 - Green Bay, Wis. – The Coast Guard will conduct a search and rescue field exercise in Green Bay, scheduled to begin Friday and running through Feb 21.

The exercise will take place on the ice and in the air over an area covering approximately eight square miles offshore of Red River Park. Portions of the exercise will be conducted during the day, while other aspects will be conducted during the night.

During the field exercise, called the Ice Sweep Width Study, 20 mannequins will be strategically placed and used to simulate persons in distress either in the water or on the ice. The general public is asked to ignore and to not disturb the mannequins.

The general public may see rescue crews from the Coast Guard and the Brown County Sherriff’s Department in action on the ice and in the air. Coast Guard assets will include an MH-65C rescue helicopter, recognizable by its bright orange color. A 22-foot Special Purpose Craft-Airboat will also be used. The SPC-AIRs are utilized by various Coast Guard units for ice rescue missions, flood response, and shallow water response where deep draft vessels cannot go.

The Ice Sweep Width Study is being conducted to gather information and data that will be used to assist search and rescue responders on the Great Lakes, and for the purpose of decreasing the time needed to locate and reach a person in distress.

Although people are requested to stay clear of any area involved in the exercise, designated by the presence of a mannequin, the general public should remain vigilant while recreating on any ice and call 911 to report a person in distress. Coast Guard duty personnel at area small boat stations will not be affected by the exercise, and will maintain the watch and be available to respond to any persons in distress.

 

Coast Guard Air Station Detroit helicopter crews conduct rescue training on Lake St. Clair

2/8 - Lake St. Clair – Multiple rescue helicopter crews from Coast Guard Air Station Detroit conducted ice rescue training on Lake St. Clair Wednesday.

The unit's aircrews, operating MH-65C Dolphin rescue helicopters, are based out of Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Mt. Clemens, Mich., and regularly conduct training to ensure that they are always ready to respond to mariners in distress in the water or on the ice. Air Station Detroit is one of only a few units in the Coast Guard that operate and train in the snow and ice.

“Training is the foundation for our operational capability,” said Cmdr. Keith Overstreet, executive officer of Air Station Detroit. “The Coast Guard’s motto is’ Semper Paratus,’ which means 'Always Ready,' and to be ready we must train in the diverse environments in which we are required to operate.”

People should be cautious and properly equipped when they venture out on the ice. They should heed all warnings or instructions about local conditions. Ice conditions can change rapidly on the lakes and bays. Winds shift and bad weather can move in unpredictably.

“Boaters often ask me what they should take with them to help be spotted from a helicopter if in an emergency situation, and I tell them to have strobe lights, flares, and a portable marine band radio," said Lt. Jason Neiman, a pilot at the air station. "The same is true for ice fishermen."

 

Michigan harbors to get help under Snyder budget

2/8 - Lansing, Mich. – Michigan harbors will be getting twice as much help in combatting low lake levels this year than previously expected.

Gov. Rick Snyder's 2014 budget includes a total of $21 million aimed at dredging projects around the state. That total includes a previously reported $10 million shifted from Department of Natural Resources waterways projects, as well as another $11 million in supplemental funding.

Harbors and marinas have been hard hit in recent years by a combination of factors. Consistent drought conditions were amplified last winter when the Great Lakes region received little snowfall, followed by springtime with little rainfall.

Last week, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced the Lake Michigan/Huron had reached an unprecedented low. The two-lake system recorded its lowest-ever level for a month, a mean of 576.02 feet above sea level. It's a number that dips below the all-time low for January 576.12 feet as well as the all-time low for any month, 576.05 feet in March 1964.

Low lakes have meant recreational watercraft running aground, shorelines and beaches expanding as the lakes recede, changing fish habitats and forcing shipping vessels to drastically reduce the tonnage they carry.

"We're working to make sure people have access to the harbors," said Brad Wurfel, spokesman for the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. "We recognize there's a real problem here for coastal towns around the Great Lakes and in Michigan."

The Detroit News

 

Updates -  February 8

Historical Perspectives Gallery updated - New pictures in the Mohawk Deer gallery

 

Today in Great Lakes History -  February 8

While in lay-up on February 8, 1984, a fire broke out in 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.

1983: EAGLESCLIFFE sank in shallow water at Galveston, Texas, while carrying a cargo of cattle freed for Tampico, Mexico. The ship developed hull cracks and subsequently broke in two during an August 1983 hurricane. The canal sized bulk carrier operated on the Great Lakes as a) EAGLESCLIFFE HALL (ii) from 1956 through 1971 and went south in 1974.

1990: LE SAULE NO. 1 received a hole in the bow after striking the Yamachiche Beacon in the Lake St. Peter area of the St. Lawrence and went to Sorel for lay-up. The damage was later repaired at Les Mechins.

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

 

Coast Guard to break ice on Maumee Bay channel

2/7 - Detroit, Mich. – The Coast Guard is advising Maumee Bay area residents that the Coast Guard Cutter Bristol Bay is scheduled to conduct ice-breaking operations in western Lake Erie and the Maumee Bay Channel on Thursday.

The cutter will escort the tug Michigan from the Detroit River to Toledo, Ohio. The estimated time of arrival in Toledo is between the early afternoon and the early evening. Any ice in this area should be considered unsafe, and the Coast Guard advises everyone to stay away from the area.

 

2 Great Lakes hit lowest water level on record

2/7 - Detroit, Mich. – Two of the Great Lakes have hit their lowest water levels ever recorded, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said Tuesday, capping more than a decade of below-normal rain and snowfall and higher temperatures that boost evaporation.

Measurements taken last month show Lake Huron and Lake Michigan have reached their lowest ebb since record keeping began in 1918, and the lakes could set additional records over the next few months, the corps said. The lakes were 29 inches below their long-term average and had declined 17 inches since January 2012. The other Great Lakes Superior, Erie and Ontario were also well below average.

"We're in an extreme situation," said Keith Kompoltowicz, watershed hydrology chief for the corps district office in Detroit.

The low water has caused heavy economic losses by forcing cargo ships to carry lighter loads, leaving boat docks high and dry, and damaging fish-spawning areas. And vegetation has sprung up in newly exposed shoreline bottomlands, a turnoff for hotel customers who prefer sandy beaches.

The corps' report came as shippers pleaded with Congress for more money to dredge ever-shallower harbors and channels. Shippers are taxed to support a harbor maintenance fund, but only about half of the revenue is spent on dredging. The remainder is diverted to the treasury for other purposes. Legislation to change that policy is pending before Congress.

"Plunging water levels are beyond anyone's control, but the dredging crisis is man-made," said James Weakley, president of the Cleveland-based Lake Carriers' Association.

Kompoltowicz said the Corps might reconsider a long-debated proposal to place structures in a river to reduce the flow of water away from Lakes Huron and Lake Michigan, which are connected.

Scientists say lake levels are cyclical and controlled mostly by nature. They began a steep decline in the late 1990s and have usually lagged well below their historical averages since then.

But studies have shown that Huron and Michigan fell by 10 to 16 inches because of dredging over the years to deepen the navigational channel in the St. Clair River, most recently in the 1960s. Dredging of the river, which is on the south end of Lake Huron, accelerated the flow of water southward from the two lakes toward Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, and eventually into the Atlantic Ocean.

Groups representing shoreline property owners, primarily in Lake Huron's Georgian Bay, have demanded action to slow the Lake Huron and Michigan outflow to make up for losses that resulted from dredging, which they contend are even greater than officials have acknowledged.

Although the Army corps produced a list of water-slowing options in 1972, including miniature dams and sills that resemble speed bumps along the river bottom, nothing was done because the lakes were in a period of above-average levels that lasted nearly three decades, Kompoltowicz said.

The corps has congressional authorization to take action but would need money for an updated study as a first step, he said. The Detroit office is considering a funding request, but it would have to compete with other projects nationwide and couldn't get into the budget before 2015.

"It's no guarantee that we're going to get it, especially in this budget climate," Kompoltowicz said. "But there are serious impacts to navigation and shoreline property owners from this extreme event. It's time to revisit this."

Scientists and engineers convened by the International Joint Commission, a U.S.-Canadian agency that deals with shared waterways, issued reports in 2009 and last year that opposed trying to regulate the Great Lakes by placing structures at choke points such as the St. Clair River. The commission has conducted public hearings and will issue a statement in about a month, spokesman John Nevin said.

Roger Gauthier, a retired staff hydrologist with the Army corps, said a series of "speed bumps" could be put in the river at a reasonable cost within a few years. Without such measures, he warned, "it would take years of consistent rain" to return Lake Michigan and Lake Huron to normal.

Associated Press

 

Captain John’s restaurant boat could have new life in Hamilton as casino

2/7 - Hamilton, Ont. – A Hamilton businessman hopes to tow Captain John’s restaurant from Toronto’s waterfront to Steel Town’s and turn it into a casino or banquet facility.

Don Maga says he plans to meet with Toronto waterfront officials later this week and breathe new life into the rusting 91-metre-long floating restaurant, which has been shut down since the city shut off water to the ship June 26 and health officials ordered the restaurant closed.

“I’m going to resolve everything,” was all Maga, a veteran of sales, marketing and product development, would say in a telephone interview from Hamilton on Tuesday. “The boat will be transferred over to my ownership next week . . . I have a deal in place that I know will go.”

Maga, who claims to have been involved in other entertainment ventures but refused to elaborate, wouldn’t discuss what he plans to do about the more than $568,000 that “Captain” John Letnik owes in property taxes and lease payments on the watery slip at the foot of Yonge Street.

“It’s just waiting for someone to come and take it,” said Maga of the five-level ship that he plans to have towed to dry dock and then spend millions in restoration.

Maga says his first choice would be to convert the ship to a banquet facility, but he’s also been working with a group — reportedly Chinese investors — looking at the possibility of a waterfront casino in Hamilton. “It would be permanently docked. It certainly has enough gaming space and room for entertainment,” said Maga.

While the notion of parking a casino, even a floating one, on Hamilton’s waterfront is bound to run into considerable opposition, Maga says he’s had only positive reaction to docking the former Yugoslavian ship, the Jadran, on the shoreline.

Letnik says he’s shown Maga around the rusting ship and there have been a few conversations, but no talk of a “deal” for the ship he’d had up for sale last year for more than $1 million.

“I don’t believe I’m going to get anything out of it,” said Letnik Tuesday. “But it’s better than having the ship go to the scrapyard.”

Toronto Star

 

Resurrecting a piece of Buffalo’s naval history

2/7 - Buffalo, N.Y. – Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, the naval hero from the War of 1812, was never one to give up on a ship.

Neither are volunteers at the Buffalo Maritime Center who, two centuries later, are endeavoring to re-create the armed cutter USS Trippe, one of Perry’s nine vessels in a fleet that he led to victory in the Battle of Lake Erie on Sept. 10, 1813.

A replica of Perry’s 34-foot vessel is being assembled not far from the Black Rock site where the original was built in 1811.

With a lot more elbow grease, epoxy and spar varnish, what is now a wooden hull of a ship inside an Arthur Street industrial building should be transformed into a seaworthy replica of the USS Trippe in time for September’s bicentennial commemoration of the historic battle off shore near Put-in-Bay, Ohio.

“It’s a means to once again tell Buffalo’s history that has become somewhat lost,” said Roger Allen, a master ship-builder and the director of the Buffalo Maritime Center who is advising a volunteer crew in crafting the boat. “The history of not just the War of 1812, but the history of Buffalo’s maritime tradition, is evaporating.”

Kevin McCarthy, trustee of the Friends of the Edward M. Cotter fireboat – the organization that owns the Trippe replica – is equally excited. “It’s a memento of a time that shouldn’t be forgotten,” he said.

The Trippe won’t be forgotten if these local maritime history buffs have anything to say about it, but there’s a lot to accomplish in the next seven months – both on and off the vessel.

First is a Feb. 19 scheduled presentation to the Niagara River Greenway Commission in hopes of securing a $90,000 grant that will be essential to completing the project in time. Those funds would be allocated primarily toward materials needed to complete construction and to outfit the Trippe, such as nearly $50,000 to complete all the spars, sails and rigging for the vessel; $20,500 for the fabrication of a 6,800-pound lead keel; and $5,000 for a 16-pound replica long cannon.

As the Greenway Commission process moves forward, volunteers will continue pushing ahead with affixing old-growth redwood cedar veneer over the already-crafted mahogany strips that make up the hull before moving ahead with construction to the deck and interior framing, according to Allen and McCarthy.

When that work is complete and the bicentennial celebration is wrapped up, officials from the Maritime Center envision the Trippe returning to a permanent location at its historical homeport. “We’re hoping we’re going to be able to dock her in Black Rock,” Allen said.

The Maritime Center got a huge helping hand in launching the project when shipbuilder Jim Watkins donated the handcrafted, solid mahogany ship hull. He spent three years building the hull, and it’s valued at $70,000.

Watkins had planned to use the vessel as a cruising boat to travel about the South Pacific but later decided to make the donation to the Friends of the Cotter organization through McCarthy, his longtime friend.

Not only was the hull in great condition, but it was designed in a “very, very similar” fashion to that of the Trippe, making the transition to its new purpose almost seamless, said Allen, who was recruited to the Maritime Center a few years ago. Allen’s resume includes stints as a master shipbuilder at the Philadelphia Maritime Museum and curator of boat-building technology for the state of North Carolina.

The Trippe “would have served as a sniper and a courier vessel,” Allen said.

In the Battle of Lake Erie, a half-dozen or so Kentucky long-riflemen aboard the Trippe sniped at royal forces in the rigging or crow’s-nests of the British naval vessels while as many other riflemen below reloaded the weapons. The Trippe would also have moved both men and munitions among the fleet during the battle.

It’s believed, said McCarthy, that the Trippe led Perry’s fleet when it traveled in a straight line and was in the “most leeward,” or downwind, position when the fleet sailed abreast.

After surviving the Battle of Lake Erie intact, the Trippe was returned to Buffalo and pulled up onto a beach along the Buffalo River at about the site where the General Mills plant now stands. There, she was burned by British forces during the December 1813 torching of the village of Buffalo.

Allen, McCarthy and others intend to put the Buffalo Maritime Center on a voyage similar to that of the Erie Maritime Museum in Erie, Pa., the home port of the re-creation of Perry’s Flagship Niagara, where day sails, extensive volunteerism and educational programming are offered 90 miles down Lake Erie. The Niagara enjoyed overwhelming fanfare locally in September when it docked in Buffalo for Navy Week.

“We’re working on something a little bit smaller, but it isn’t anything less historically significant,” McCarthy said. “The intent would be to use this as a rallying point where we bring all these diverse groups together to tell a common story of maritime history around Buffalo.”

For more information, to donate or become a member of the Buffalo Maritime Center, visit www.buffalomaritime center.org.

The Buffalo News

 

Obituary: Richard "Dick" Lund

2/7 - Richard "Dick" Lund, 65, of Menominee, Mich. passed away on Tuesday, Feb. 5, after a battle with cancer. An avid boatwatcher, he could often be found taking pictures in the Menominee area, as well as at Escanaba and the Soo Locks. He was a regular attendee at the annual Boatnerd picnic and Engineers Day events at the Soo. A longtime friend of the Boatnerd website, Dick’s frequent contributions to the news page and photo galleries were enjoyed by all.

He was born in Menominee on March 25, 1947, to the late Stanley and Patricia Lund. He graduated from Menominee High School class of 1965 and he also graduated from St. Norbert College in 1970 with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree. Dick was the owner and operator of Lund Hardware & Supply Co. from 1973-1993, retiring in 1994. He was an active member of the community including 8 years as Commissioner (1970s) of Menominee Pop Warner Football, 1975 Menominee Jaycees "Outstanding Young Man,” he was a Big Brother for 7 years and continued to do that type of work on his own for another 20 years. He was also a 26-year volunteer staff member of the D.A.R. Boys & Girls Club, serving 15 years on their board of directors and was a past president of the organization. His hobbies included working with the youth, fishing, computers, video games and model railroading. His passion was photography and the informative website he created about the past and present Great Lakes ships.

A celebration of Dick's life will be held at the Cadieu-Thielen Funeral Home on Sunday, February 10 from 1 p.m. until 2:30 p.m. with prayers at 2:30 p.m. A memorial fund has been established in Dick's name. His family is requesting that any expressions of sympathy and kindness be directed to: The DAR Boys & Girls Club, P.O. Box 211, Menominee, Mich., 49858.

 

Video of the Algoma Equinox launch in China

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Today in Great Lakes History -  February 7

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, ENDERS M. VOORHEES closed the Soo Locks downbound.

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

1965: The Liberty ship GRAMMATIKI visited the Seaway for one trip in 1960. The vessel began leaking in heavy weather on the Pacific enroute from Tacoma, Washington, to Keelung, Taiwan, with a cargo of scrap. The vessel, also slated to be scrapped, was abandoned by the crew the next day and slowly sank.

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

 

Study looks at environmental advantages of using marine shipping

2/5 - A comprehensive report released Tuesday has defined the environmental advantages of using marine shipping to transport goods in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway region.

A study titled “The Environmental and Social Impacts of Marine Transport in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway Region” was conducted by Ontario transportation consultants Research and Traffic Group, and peer reviewed by independent experts in the U.S. and Canada.

The study found that Great Lakes ships are more fuel-efficient and emit fewer greenhouse gases per thousand cargo-ton miles than land-based alternatives.

The study also calculated that the shift from marine to road and/or rail modes of transport would lead to increased societal impacts including additional traffic congestion, higher infrastructure maintenance costs, and significantly greater levels of noise.

This bi-national research project is the first time a study has examined the external impacts of the U.S., Canadian, and international fleets operating on the navigation system, using actual data from all three categories of shipowners.

Previous studies of the three modes of transport drew comparisons based on the average performance of each mode, rather than making a like-for-like comparison based on each mode carrying the same cargo mix.

According to marine industry stakeholders, the study’s results underscore the importance of investing in the infrastructure and technology required to foster growth in Great Lakes-Seaway transportation.

Steven A. Fisher, Executive Director of the American Great Lakes Ports Association, said: “The study findings present a more complete picture of shipping in the Great Lakes in terms of the benefits of this mode of transportation. Data from the study will help inform future decisions on subjects ranging from investments in new technologies, budget allocations for infrastructure projects, and appropriate levels of regulation, to name just a few. The marine industry now has the information it needs to address questions by federal and state governments on the value of shipping to its constituents.”

Mark W. Barker, President, The Interlake Steamship Company, added that this study provides additional foundational data that will help the Great Lakes marine industry continue to reduce its environmental footprint. He said, “Interlake was pleased to be part of this groundbreaking study. As a company, we are committed to minimizing the impact our fleet has on the environment. Our vessels carry more than 20 million gross tons annually, and do so using significantly less fuel per ton than it would take to move the same cargo by land-based modes. With continual improvement programs, new technologies, and regulatory changes we see the benefits of marine shipping increase in the future.”

In terms of energy efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions, the study finds that:

• The Great Lakes-Seaway fleet is nearly 7 times more fuel-efficient than trucks and 1.14 times more fuel-efficient than rail.

• Rail and trucks would emit 19 percent and 533 percent more greenhouse gas emissions respectively if these modes carried the same cargo the same distance as the Great Lakes-Seaway fleet.

The study also emphasizes the significant role that marine shipping plays in reducing congestion on roads and railways:

• It would take 3 million train trips to carry the total cargo transported by the Great Lakes-Seaway fleet in 2010, as much as double the existing traffic on some rail lines in Canada and at least a 50 percent increase in traffic on some of the busiest lines in the U.S.

• It would take 7.1 million truck trips to carry the total cargo transported by the Great Lakes-Seaway fleet in 2010. That would increase existing truck traffic by between 35 to 100 percent depending on the highway.

• If Great Lakes-Seaway marine shipping cargo shifted permanently to trucks, it would lead to $4.6 billion in additional highway maintenance costs over a 60-year period. An additional assessment gauged the long-term efficiency and emissions performance of Great Lakes vessels after meeting new regulatory standards and achieving improvements with new technology and the use of low sulphur fuels between 2012 to 2025.

The Great Lakes-Seaway fleet would record significant decreases in emissions as follows: • GHG emission reductions of 32 percent • NOx emission reductions of 86 percent • SOx emission reductions of 99.9 percent • Particulate Matter emission reductions of 85 percent

WDIO

 

Lakes Huron, Michigan projected to flirt with record low levels through May

2/5 - A six-month forecast by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers predicts that water levels in Lakes Huron and Michigan will be at or near record lows every month through May, the traditional start of the boating season in the Great Lakes.

The data, released Monday as part of the Army Corps' monthly bulletin, show Michigan and Huron could be setting new lows the next four months, and continue to be just above record lows in June and July.

Lake St. Clair and Lakes Erie and Ontario will be above record lows during the six-month stretch but well below averages, according to the Corps.

In the nearly 100 years that researchers have catalogued the rise and fall of the Great Lakes, Michigan and Huron recorded its lowest-ever level for a month in January, a mean of 576.02 feet above sea level. It's a number that dips below the all-time low for January — 576.12 feet — as well as the all-time low for any month, 576.05 feet in March 1964.

Each of the lakes has lingered below its long-term averages for years as the region endured drought-like conditions. When the 2011-12 winter produced less-than-expected snowfall and the ensuing spring produced little rainfall, the seeds were sown for records.

Low lakes have meant recreational watercraft running aground, shorelines and beaches expanding as the lakes recede, changing fish habitats and forcing shipping vessels to drastically reduce the tonnage they carry.

The record comes as Gov. Rick Snyder prepares to unveil his 2013-14 budget Thursday in which he's expected to call for $11 million to dredge harbors to keep access to open waters, the Associated Press reported late Friday.

Other steps to alleviate the effects of low water levels will include expediting Department of Environmental Quality permits for dredging projects, pushing for more federal funding and devising a long-term strategy to pay for keeping harbors deep enough for recreational and commercial vessels, according to the AP.

Detroit News

 

Icebreaker Mackinaw working the Straits

2/5 - St. Ignace, Mich. - Ice shatters at the sight of the United States Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw. This 240-foot vessel plows through the frozen lake with ease. But the same can't be said for other ships traveling the Great Lakes.

"We do our best to keep those routes open but we can't because of shifting ice, then we will escort large vessels as they make their way through ice choked areas," USCG Cutter Mackinaw Operations Officer Lt. Stephen Elliot said.

After routes are cleared, they disappear within hours. The unique conditions of the Straits of Mackinac make it especially difficult to keep shipping lanes open. "The wind blows the ice so it closes right up that's what makes the straits challenging," USCG Cutter Mackinaw Captain Cmdr. Michael Devanzo explained.

The Mackinaw is one of nine cutters that patrol the Great Lakes each winter. The Coast Guard's main concern is keeping ship traffic moving, which is vital to local economies.

Great Lakes shipping generates more than two billion dollars each year, but this year's winter has created traveling conditions which are less than ideal for ships working to transport natural resources. "Last year we had very little ice in the straits and in the river. This year we are already seeing eight to ten inches of ice," Cmdr. Devanzo said.

The cutter Mackinaw has been breaking up ice since the beginning of the year, and the crew of 60 will be working around the clock until the spring to keep the shipping afloat.

Channel 7&4 News

 

Minn. regulators investigate tribe's handling of military waste pulled from Lake Superior

2/5 - Duluth, Minn. – The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is investigating how the Red Cliff Band of Ojibwe handled barrels of Cold War military waste recovered last summer from Lake Superior.

The PCA’s Hazardous Waste Enforcement Division has an “open investigation” under way on how the barrels were brought to shore in Minnesota and transported through the state without proper permits or advance notification.

John Elling, director of the PCA division, said he would not comment on details of the investigation because it was under way. “We’re still in the information-gathering stages,” Elling told the News Tribune on Monday. “We’re trying to make sure everything was done properly.”

Minnesota law allows the PCA to keep the information confidential if there is civil litigation or enforcement action pending.

In January, nearly six months after the barrel-recovery effort, PCA officials said they had no idea when or where any barrels were brought to shore, saying neither Red Cliff officials nor the band’s contractor, Duluth-based EMR, obtained proper permits or submitted manifests to land any hazardous material in the state or move it through Minnesota. PCA officials said they had no idea if, when or where any barrels came ashore on the Minnesota side of the bay.

The band also failed to provide information where any hazardous material would be disposed of, possibly in violation of state law.

The PCA attempted to obtain information from the band as early as 2010 and through 2012 but were told at one point the plan was to take any recovered barrels through Wisconsin. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources officials told the News Tribune last month that the band told them they were moving any recovered barrels through Minnesota and that there would be no Wisconsin DNR jurisdiction.

The PCA for weeks attempted to get information on the barrel-recovery effort without success. After a News Tribune story in early January raised questions on where the barrels' contents were landed, Red Cliff officials met with PCA officials. It apparently was after that meeting that the investigation began. The barrel-recovery project is being monitored by the U.S. Defense Department and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. There apparently is no Environmental Protection Agency involvement.

Red Cliff Band Environmental Program officials Friday confirmed for the first time that they had recovered 25 barrels in July and August as part of a $3.3 million federally funded project. The band said it found the same kind of munitions parts, ash, concrete and scrap metal in the barrels that was found in a similar effort in the 1990s, and the band issued a statement saying the barrels’ contents were of no immediate human or environmental threat. They said there was no sign of radioactivity.

The band also found small explosive devices in the mix with cluster bomb parts and said the presence of still-active explosives forced the recovery effort to be scaled back from the proposed 70 barrels to 25 so money could be saved to properly dispose of the contents.

The band said Friday it could be several more months before laboratory analysis of the barrels’ contents would be released. They also have promised an invitation-only news conference where questions on the recovery effort and barrel contents would be answered, although no date for that event has been released.

Melanee Montano, director of the Red Cliff Environmental Program, repeatedly has declined to answer any News Tribune questions on the barrel issue.

Between 1957 and 1962, an estimated 1,457 industrial steel drums were trucked from a Honeywell weapons plant in the Twin Cities to Duluth and secretly tossed off barges into Lake Superior. The 55-gallon barrels were dumped roughly along a line from the eastern Duluth city limits nearly to Two Harbors, from one mile to five miles off shore.

Since 1977, when the existence of the barrels first was confirmed by the military, several attempts were made to retrieve them and check their contents. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency spent more than $400,000 looking for and examining the barrels between 1990 and 1994.

A 1990 search recovered two barrels that contained grenade parts, concrete and a Honeywell coffee cup — but nothing highly toxic or dangerous. A 1993 PCA search using high-tech sonar and video equipment mapped hundreds of the barrels, along with crates of unused ammunition and even junked vehicles and other big chunks of trash in the area a few miles off the Duluth ship canal.

The most elaborate search occurred in 1994 when a U.S. Navy deep-water robotic submarine was used. That effort recovered seven more barrels containing scrap parts from hand grenades or cluster bombs and other military ordnance, along with garbage, ash and concrete.

Tests of the barrel contents also revealed trace amounts of 15 toxic chemicals — including PCBs, barium, lead, cadmium and benzene — in levels above drinking-water standards but which PCA officials said were too low to be considered an environmental or human health threat or even hazardous waste.

None of the chemicals were found in unusual levels in the nearby Duluth water supply intake. And PCB levels in lake trout have declined in recent years.

PCA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials eventually concluded that there was no need to search for or test more barrels, and that leaving the remaining barrels rusting under 200 feet of water posed no major health or environmental risk. Pollution officials have said their limited staff and money would be better spent on more pressing Great Lakes issues, such as invasive species, mercury contamination and polluted runoff and erosion runoff.

Red Cliff’s entry into the barrel saga started in 2005, when band officials said they adopted the project as a way to attract federal military cleanup money to the effort. Though Red Cliff is 50 miles from the nearest known barrel dump site, the band has treaty authority to be involved in environmental and natural resource management on the lake, including in Minnesota waters, where the barrels are located.

Duluth News Tribune

 

Obituary: Richard Anderson

2/5 - Richard Anderson, impresario, art dealer, aesthete, host, philanthropist, and maritime preservationist died on Monday, January 21 in Nyack, N.Y., after a brief illness. Several dear friends, including his partner Ian Danic, were at his side. Richard was of Iranian, Swedish, English and Irish heritage, the son of George Albert Anderson and Keyhan Farian. He was born on September 19, 1962 in Brooklyn, N.Y., and grew up in Brooklyn Heights. Richard moved to Nyack as a teenager and graduated from Nyack High School in 1980 and Columbia College in 1984 with degrees in economics and history. Upon graduating, he worked in banking, accepting postings in London and Paris. In Europe, he indulged his lifelong passion for art, embarking on building his private collection. On his return to the States, he opened a series of galleries in Tribeca, Chelsea and Soho. As an art dealer and gallerist, Richard helped to establish the career of many emerging artists, earning wide respect in the New York Art world. Richard's other great passion was historic boats. At age 10 he was a constant presence as a young volunteer at the nascent South Street Seaport Museum. In recent years he founded the SS Columbia Project whose goal is to bring the oldest surviving American passenger steamship to the Hudson River Valley. This project beautifully dovetails his love of art, ships and the river, on the banks of which sits the home he enjoyed so much with family and friends. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the SS Columbia Project, 232 E. 11th St., NY, NY 10003.

The New York Times

 

Today in Great Lakes History -  February 5

On 06 February 1952, 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.

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, 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. McLean 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.

1963: JOHAN COLLETT, a Norwegian freighter, made three trips through the Seaway in 1959. The vessel sent out a distress signal north of Guernsey after the cargo shifted. The French tug ABEILLE NO. 10 took the crew on board and the vessel in tow but it sank in P: 48.39 N / 3.00 W.

1972: The former PRINSES ANNA, a passenger and cargo carrier that visited the Great Lakes for the Oranje Lijn in 1967, sank in the Osumi Strait about 18 miles south of Cape Sata, Japan, as c) HWA PO after the cargo broke loose. The ship was on a voyage from Nagoya, Japan, to Whampoa, China, and 20 crewmembers were lost.

1981: The former Canadian tanker LIQUILASSIE was operating as a barge powered by the tug TUSKER when it struck the Gandy Bridge while inbound at Tampa, Florida, damaging both the ship and the structure. The latter was closed for 3 months and the vessel was idle at Tampa most of the year before leaving for the South Pacific in 1982.

1997: The Collingwood built icebreaker SIR WILFRID LAURIER was damaged by ice at Quebec City. It was repaired and transferred to the West Coast later in the year.

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

 

Michigan governor wants to transfer $11M for dredging harbors

2/5 - Traverse City, Mich. – Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder will call for spending $11 million this year to dredge Michigan harbors in danger of losing their connections to open water because of low Great Lakes levels, aides told The Associated Press on Friday.

The Republican governor will include the proposal in his 2013 budget, which will be released next week, spokesman Kurt Weiss said. It's part of a broader initiative being developed by state agencies to help water-starved harbors as the federal government cuts back on dredging and the lakes continue declining because of drought and warm temperatures that boost evaporation rates.

Other steps will include expediting Department of Environmental Quality permits for dredging projects, pushing for more federal funding and devising a long-term strategy to pay for keeping harbors deep enough for recreational and commercial vessels to move between docks and the lakes.

"Michigan needs to be open for business and our port and harbor communities need to have reasonable access to the water," Jon Allan, director of the DEQ's Office of the Great Lakes, told the AP. "It's their lifeblood for the summer." Michigan has 56 harbors and channels that the federal government is responsible for maintaining, but the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to dredge only six of them this year. They are in Detroit, Saginaw, Manistee, Muskegon, Grand Haven and Holland.

The Corps of Engineers gives top billing to large and medium-sized ports used by commercial vessels. Smaller harbors where the traffic is mostly or entirely recreational "are considered a lower priority under the constrained funding we have now," said Dave Wright, chief of operations with the Detroit district office.

A federal tax on freight shipped at U.S. ports raises about $1.5 billion a year for dredging and harbor maintenance. But about half of the money is diverted for other uses. Members of Congress from coastal states are pushing to change that policy. Bills introduced in the U.S. House and Senate this week would require that all the money in the fund, which has a $7 billion surplus, be spent on dredging and other harbor and port upkeep.

Allan said he and Dan Wyant, director of the Michigan DEQ, will travel to Washington next week to lobby for approval of the measures. Similar legislation was proposed during the previous session of Congress but wasn't enacted. The Council of Great Lakes Governors, which represents all eight states in the region, has endorsed the bills.

But with prospects for federal assistance uncertain at best, Michigan officials are considering ways for state government to assume a bigger role.

A bill introduced in the Michigan House last week would allow diverting money from the state Natural Resources Trust Fund to harbor maintenance. The fund consists of royalties paid by companies to drill for oil and natural gas on state property and is used to buy and improve land for public recreation. Tapping it for other purposes would require a constitutional amendment and a statewide vote.

Snyder's proposal would pull $11 million from a fund overseen by the Michigan State Waterways Commission that comes primarily from motor fuel taxes and supports improvements to marine infrastructure such as breakwalls and boat ramps. Siphoning off money for dredging would cause some of those projects to be delayed, Allan said.

"We recognize that can be tough on communities," he said. "But we also recognize that we need to get boats on the water." A special meeting of the commission has been scheduled for Feb. 8.

The DEQ, which requires permits for dredging, will look for ways to process applications faster without cutting corners on environmental protection, Allan said. Looking further ahead, a task force from numerous agencies will try to craft a durable system for keeping harbors usable.

Chuck May, leader of an advocacy group called the Great Lakes Small Harbors Coalition, said members of the governor's staff briefed him this week on the dredging plan that Snyder will announce with the rest of his proposed budget Thursday.

"I'm pleased to see that the state is not just pointing fingers ... and saying 'woe is me, it's all up to Washington, D.C.,'" said May, who lives in Onekama, a tourist village with a channel to Lake Michigan that is becoming dangerously shallow. "They understand that the harbors are in trouble and we can't afford not to do something."

AP

 

Michigan DNR seeks summer campground hosts for Lime Island

2/5 - The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is currently recruiting outdoor recreation enthusiasts looking for a unique opportunity to challenge their skills. The DNR is seeking volunteer campground hosts for its Lime Island State Recreation Area. The 980-acre island, one of the newest recreation areas in Michigan’s state park system, is situated in the St. Marys River Navigation Channel offshore of the eastern end of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

The island offers rental cabins, platform tent sites, a small harbor of refuge, historical structures and boating access. Hosts for Lime Island must use their own boat to travel to and from the island.

Hosts are expected to provide 30 hours of service per week (including weekends and holidays) and are required to live on the island a minimum of four consecutive weeks at a time during the summer season, which runs between the end of May and early September.

Lime Island hosts greet arriving visitors and answer questions about the island that once housed a small settlement. In addition, they are required to arrange campground activities and possibly perform some light maintenance.

Hosts must be at least 18 years old and can apply individually or as couples.

For more information about serving as a host at Lime Island State Recreation Area, contact Straits State Park, (906) 643-8620, or Miguel Rodriguez, (517) 241-4129.

Soo Evening News

 

Updates -  February 5

Historical Perspectives Gallery updated - New feature for February - Mohawk Deer

 

Today in Great Lakes History -  February 5

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.

1972: CHRISTIANE SCHULTE, a West German Seaway trader, went aground at Khidhes Island, Cyprus, while on fire and was abandoned by the crew. The ship was traveling from Lattakia, Syria, to Mersin, Turkey, as b) CITTA DI ALESSANDRIA and was a total loss.

1977: The Israeli freighter TAMAR, a Seaway caller in 1959 and 1961, was gutted by a fire in the Aegean Sea south of Thira Island as c) ATHENA. The vessel, enroute from Mersin, Turkey, to Albania, was towed into Piraeus, Greece, on February 12, 1977. It was a total loss and scrapping began at Eleusis in January 1978.

1982: The Canadian tanker JAMES TRANSPORT spent 10 hours aground in the St. Lawrence near Batiscan, Quebec.

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

 

Great Lakes: Huron, Michigan break all-time low water records

2/4 - The water levels of Lake Michigan and Lake Huron set a record for the lowest mean average for any month in history.

The lakes, which sit at the same level, previously broke the low-water mark for December and, despite what may have seemed like a wintry, wet January in Metro Detroit, the month is ending in territory not seen before.

Through Jan. 31, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials pegged the monthly mean water level at 576.02 feet above sea level. Previously, the all-time lowest monthly mean came in March 1964 — a month that produced a mean water level of 576.05 feet.

Gov. Rick Snyder next week is expected to announce emergency action to help dredge harbors in Michigan because the state counts on tourism and other industries that require access to the lakes.

Shorelines are extending, canals are getting dangerously dry and access to the shore is literally drying up for some residents.

Meantime, what's happening in Lake Michigan and Lake Huron could have longer-range impacts on the other downstream lakes. Each of the Great Lakes currently sits far below its long-term average. Years of drought-like conditions in much of the region were exacerbated when last year's winter produced little snow and the spring season produced little rain.

The snow and ice that accumulate in the upper Great Lakes during the late fall and winter, particularly in and around Lake Superior, create the runoff that dictates how high or low the levels will sink during the year.

Detroit News

 

Vessels take a break, get shipshape in wintertime

2/4 - Green Bay, Wis. – The shipping season on the Great Lakes closed in January when the Soo Locks in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., ceased operation for a little more than two months. For shipyards around the region, that means winter business is headed their way.

Bay Shipbuilding Co. in Sturgeon Bay will see an influx of Great Lakes vessels coming in for seasonal repairs and overhauls after spending much of the past year hauling coal, iron ore and other commodities around the region.

“It’s a typical winter repair year for us,” said Todd Thayse, vice president and general manager at Bay Shipbuilding Co. “The shipyard will be full of boats and various projects will be going on, from mechanical to structural repairs.”

The yard is heading into the season with about 500 employees, a number Thayse said is expected to increase during the deep winter months.

“We’ll ramp up starting right now,” he said. “There are a lot of structural steel repairs and we have some new power generation plants that are going in on a number of vessels.” Power generation plants are diesel generators that produce electricity for the ship.

Fifteen ships are expected to spend the winter in the yard and another three will transit the yard for dry-dock work.

The Ohio-based Lake Carriers’ Association said scheduled projects at Great Lakes repair facilities range from $500,000 to $3 million per ship. There are more than a half dozen shipyards on the lakes handling both major and minor work over the winter. At its peak, the industry employs about 1,200 people around the region.

The association said the work generates more than $50 million in wages and accounts for $800,000 in economic activity per vessel.

Great Lakes Shipyard in Cleveland, Ohio, is in the midst of a multi-year expansion that is expected to wrap up in 2014. When done, the project should create 100 new jobs.

The shipyard — which had 108 full-time and contract employees late last month — expects work this winter on the articulated tug and barge Dorothy Ann and Pathfinder and the laker American Courage. Another pair of vessels are expected for winter work, pending the completion of contracts.

This winter’s work is a slight increase over the 2012 season, the company said earlier this week.

There are a couple new vessels tying up at regional yards this winter. This is the first season shipyards will work on the tug and barge combination Ken Boothe Sr. and Lakes Contender, which were christened in May.

The tug and barge Defiance and Ashtabula — which had previously worked in the Gulf of Mexico region — also started operating on the lakes in October after being overhauled at Bay Shipbuilding Co. for lakes operation, according to the website boatnerd.com.

The tug and barge were built by Marinette Marine Corp. in Marinette and Bay Shipbuilding Co., respectively, in the early 1980s.

Work continues on a pair of platform supply vessels Bay Shipbuilding is constructing for Tidewater Marine in New Orleans. The first vessel is being outfitted and the keel is expected to be laid on the second vessel this month, Thayse said.

Oshkosh Northwestern Media

 

Fewer ships winter in Twin Ports, making a dent in shipyard jobs

2/4 - Superior, Wis. – Following an average of 10 ships per season, only seven ships will spend the winter in the Twin Ports. That’ll mean fewer jobs for shipyard workers this season, but still a busy one in Superior.

Frasier Shipyards Superintendent Mike Peterson says the shipping lay ups produce somewhere between 150 to 175 jobs. “That’s a little low for us as of late; like I said if we had 12 boats we would be pushing 200 to 250,” he said.

Duluth-Superior Port Authority Facilities Manager Jim Sharrow says the lower number of ships wintering is for a lot of reasons. “It’s a combination between operating plans and competitive issues for contracting the work generally,” Sharrow said

Peterson agrees. He says the competition between shipyards is keen.

“There’s some shipyards that have opened up on the lower Great Lakes and that, between them taking away some of our ships from up here and the economy does not, might not require all these ships to be running, Peterson said. So they’re looking at extended lay-up berths for these boats.”

The Lake Carriers’ Association represents 17 American companies that operate 57 U.S.-flag vessels on the Great Lakes, all of them needing a place to tie up for the winter. Vice President Glenn Nekvasil says Great Lakes shipyards will produce around 1,200 jobs this winter.

“They have an annual payroll of about 50 million and it’s estimated that each ship will generate in the area of about $800,000 or so of economic activity in the community where it is laid up,” Nekvasil said.

Peterson says they’re still trying to determine what jobs will be done on which lakers; they will have their hands full working on regular repairs and maintenance until spring.

“We have steel work on the (John G.) Munson, we’re going to be renewing a cargo hold bulkhead and the cargo hold slope on that. And it’s going to be on the dry dock so we have to pull on the c-valves and check everything that’s under water to meet Coast Guard requirements.”

The seven ships docking in the Twin Ports are the American Century, Mesabi Miner, Indiana Harbor, John J. Boland, John G. Munson, Roger Blough and American Spirit. The shipping season resumes March 25.

Superior Telegram

 

Lake Superior barrels contained explosives, Red Cliff Band finds

2/4 - Duluth, Minn. – The Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa says it found still-active explosives in barrels of military waste retrieved this summer from Lake Superior.

The information was included in a preliminary report released Friday on the band’s effort to find, raise and test the contents of barrels that were dumped in Lake Superior a half-century ago. The report confirms the band raised 25 barrels, far short of the 70 the project had called for. And while there were active explosives in the barrels, the band said there was nothing considered an immediate human health or environmental concern.

The 25 barrels were recovered between July 30 and Aug. 13, the band said Friday, and included either parts from cluster bombs or a composite of incinerated metal, which is exactly what was found during the last search-and-recovery in the 1990s.

“Preliminary data results show no immediate cause for concern regarding the safety of water and fish consumption,” the band noted Friday.

But this time, the band said in the report, they also found still-active explosives in the small devices called “ejection cup assemblies” apparently used as part of the technology to spread the small, grenade-like cluster bombs apart in mid-air as they fell to the ground.

Explosives experts on board conducted tests in the ejection cup assemblies and identified an active ejection charge composed of M5 propellant. Each of 22 barrels contained between 600 and 700 ejection cup assemblies, the report notes.

The report said the band’s contractor, Duluth-based EMR, “faced several challenges upon the discovery of and accumulation of several thousand active ejection charges. The primary concern was the safety of the team combined with the logistical concerns regarding the transport and disposal of explosive materials.”

After handling 25 barrels, Red Cliff and EMR officials, in consultation with federal agencies, made the decision to stop the recovery to reserve a portion of the project budget to transport and dispose of the ejection cup assemblies. The band said all recovered materials are securely stored while regulatory compliance details are arranged.

The $3.3 million project was funded by the U.S. Defense Department as part of an ongoing effort to clean up years of military dumps and other messes left on Indian lands nationwide.

According to Friday’s report, radiation testing was conducted immediately after each recovered barrel reached the surface of the water. No levels of radiation above background were detected at any time during the fieldwork.

All samples were shipped to an independent, accredited laboratory and tested for a wide range of chemical constituents, including hazardous metals, PCBs and asbestos. But the band stopped short of releasing any data on which or how much of any chemicals were found.

“All of the analytical testing has been completed and analysis is ongoing. Work will continue on this project through the spring and summer. The analytical results will be used to determine if the barrel contents pose any potential threat to area residents, tribes, fisheries, aquatic life or the environment,” the band said in its statement Friday.

It’s still not clear where the materials were taken to shore — officials from state agencies in Minnesota and Wisconsin said last month they had no contact with the band or contractor on how the materials were handled on shore or disposed of.

Red Cliff environmental program officials declined to answer any additional questions on the report Friday.

“We will be able to answer further questions during our closed press conference,” said Melonee Montano, Red Cliff environmental program director. She said no date has been set for that news conference.

Between 1957 and 1962, an estimated 1,457 industrial steel drums were trucked from a Honeywell weapons plant in the Twin Cities to Duluth and secretly dumped off barges into Lake Superior. The dumped 55-gallon barrels formed a line from the eastern Duluth city limits nearly to Two Harbors, from a mile to five miles off shore.

Since 1977, when the existence of the barrels was first confirmed by the military, several attempts were made to retrieve them and check their contents. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency spent more than $400,000 looking for and examining the barrels between 1990 and 1994.

A 1990 search recovered two barrels that contained grenade parts, concrete and even a Honeywell coffee cup — but nothing highly toxic or dangerous. A 1993 PCA search using high-tech sonar and video equipment mapped hundreds of the barrels, along with crates of unused ammunition and even junked vehicles and other big chunks of trash in the area a few miles off the Duluth ship canal.

The most elaborate search occurred in 1994 when a U.S. Navy deep-water robotic submarine was used. That effort recovered seven more barrels containing scrap parts from hand grenades or cluster bombs and other military ordnance, along with garbage, ash and concrete.

Tests of the barrel contents also revealed trace amounts of 15 toxic chemicals — including PCBs, barium, lead, cadmium and benzene — in levels above drinking water standards but which PCA officials said were too low to be considered an environmental or human health threat or even hazardous waste.

None of the chemicals was ever found in unusual levels in the nearby Duluth water supply intake. And PCB levels in lake trout have actually declined in recent years.

PCA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials eventually concluded that there was no need to search for or test more barrels, and that leaving the remaining barrels rusting under 200 feet of water posed no major health or environmental risk. Pollution officials have said their limited staff and money would be better spent on more pressing Great Lakes issues, such as invasive species, mercury contamination and polluted runoff and erosion runoff.

Still, the barrels issue has lingered, especially among some parts of the Twin Ports environmental community who allege the military is covering up the existence of dangerous barrel contents and shirking its duty to remove them from the lake. Some groups have called for more sampling from more piles of barrels, saying testing just nine or even 79 of 1,457 barrels isn’t enough to declare the entire number harmless.

Red Cliff’s entry into the barrel saga started in 2005, when band officials said they adopted the project as a way to attract federal military cleanup money to the effort. Though Red Cliff is 50 miles from the nearest known barrel dump site, the band has treaty authority to be involved in environmental and natural resource management on the lake, even in Minnesota waters, where the barrels are located.

Red Cliff initially received two federal grants totaling $210,000 in 2006 and 2007 to hire a private contractor to conduct a review of historical documents, including military papers and old newspaper clippings. Despite persistent rumors that the barrels contain hazardous or even radioactive waste, the results of that document study by EMR, released in 2008, failed to find any new information on what is inside the barrels or if there are more barrels than previously reported.

Duluth News Tribune

 

Chicago River flowing backwards would be least of region's concerns

2/4 - Chicago, Ill. – The headlines were alarming: "Drought Could Reverse Flow of Chicago River," hailed the website of WLS-TV, the local ABC News affiliate. "Ongoing Drought Could Send the Chicago River Flowing in Reverse," read Smithsonian magazine's normally sedate web pages.

It turns out, a backwards flow may be the least of the river’s concerns.

Here’s the scenario: the worst U.S. drought since the 1930s is lowering the level of Lake Michigan, and if it drops another 6 inches or so this winter, it could fall below the level of the Chicago River. That means the dirty waters of the Chicago River, which were diverted 100 years ago to preserving the relatively pristine lake, would be sucked backwards.

In practice, three sets of locks that divide the river from the lake would only allow a relatively small amount of river water to leak back into the lake when the locks are opened to ships, says Margaret Frisbie, executive director of Friends of the Chicago River. It’s roughly the equivalent of putting a thimbleful of dirty water into a bathtub.

The bigger concern is that if the flow from the lake stops, so too does the flow of the Chicago River. The lake water that currently flushes the Chicago River and its burden of treated and untreated sewage through the Des Plaines and Illinois rivers into the Mississippi would stop flowing, temporarily transforming swaths of the Chicago River into a lifeless, de-oxygenated bog.

The future of the river’s health is now in question, with the lake at its lowest point since accurate record keeping began.

"If you live around lot of water you don’t think of it as a precious resource," says David St. Pierre, executive director of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, the city's sewage utility. "Conservation is a conversation that’s just started to happen in the Chicago region."

The river spilling backwards into the lake wouldn’t be unprecedented. About once a year, heavy rains threaten to push the river over its banks and the locks are opened, reversing the river's flow for a day or less, with little ill effect, Fribsie says. She notes that water treatment plants have made the river far cleaner today than it was just two decades ago.

The Great Lakes usually rise about a foot to 14 inches from snowmelt and runoff every spring. Last year, Lake Michigan rose only 4 inches. By last month, Lake Michigan and Lake Huron above it were 28 inches below the long-term average.

Waterways made Chicago. Then Chicago remade its waterways. Engineers reversed the Chicago River a century ago to use the lake’s water to refresh the waterway. The future of the river’s health is now in question, with the lake at its lowest point since accurate record keeping began in 1918.

"There's more evaporation, less precipitation falling on the lakes and less runoff making it to the lakes," says Keith Kompoltowicz, chief of watershed hydrology for the Great Lakes with Army Corps of Engineers in Detroit. Just how permanent the shifts are is hard to know, he says. "We don’t even 100 years of data yet so it's impossible to determine if there are in fact cycles of low water and high water."

Like so many of the systemic challenges we face these days -- in financial markets, in public health, with climate change -- what happens to the short-term flow of the Chicago River over the next couple months may be just a shadow of the elevated risks we’re courting over the next couple of decades.

"It’s a micro-story in a much larger problem of what we are doing to the environment,” says Frisbie. “One of the U.S.'s great water resources is vanishing."

Bloomberg News

 

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 float-launched on February 4, 1981, (Hull #909).

In 1977, 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.

1964: OCEAN REGINA, which would become a Seaway visitor in 1971, ran aground in the Makassar Strait, Indonesia, while enroute from Geraldton, Australia, to China. The ship was refloated February 11.

1965: The Liberty ship IRINI STEFANOU visited the Great Lakes in 1959 and 1960. It struck a reef, 1 mile west of the San Benita Islands, Baja Peninsula and had to be beached. The vessel was enroute from Vancouver, British Columbia, to London, England, with timber. While abandoned, the hull was refloated on February 25 and taken to Los Angeles for examination. They discovered a serious distortion of the hull and it was broken up at Terminal Island.

1970: ARROW, a Liberian tanker quite familiar with Great Lakes trading, stranded in Chedebucto Bay, while inbound from Venezuela to Port Hawkesbury, Nova Scotia. The ship broke in two as a total loss on February 8 spilling millions of gallons of oil. This resulted in a major environmental problem and clean up took two years and $3.8 million.

1976: A fire aboard the freighter KERKIS broke out in #3 hold off the northern coast of Sicily. The vessel was brought into Milazzo, Italy, the next day and when the hold was opened on February 12, the blaze flared up again. The hull was beached as a total loss. It had begun Seaway trading as a) BYSANZ in 1959 and was back as b) ALSATIA beginning in 1967.

1984: The former MANCHESTER RENOWN was idle at Trincomalee, Sri Lanka, as c) EDESSA. The ship was being reactivated when a fire broke out and destroyed the upper works. The vessel was sold to Taiwan shipbreakers and arrived at Kaohsiung on April 6, 1984. It had begun Seaway trading as a new ship, in 1964.

1992: PATRICIA was wrecked at Crotone, Italy, and abandoned. The hull was visible years later, partially submerged. The ship began Seaway service as a) RUMBA in 1971 and was back as b) JANJA in 1975, c) JANJE in 1979 and e) FIGARO in 1988.

1999: The former BAUNTON caught fire in #1 hold 350 miles west of Dakar, Senegal, as c) MERSINIA and was abandoned by the crew. The ship, enroute from Abidjan, Ivory Coast, to Amsterdam, Netherlands, with cocoa beans in bulk, was a total loss and was delivered to Spanish shipbreakers at Santander for dismantling on January 21, 2000. It first came through the Seaway in 1981 when it was a year old.

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

 

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.

1939: LUTZEN came ashore in dense fog at Nauset Beach, Chatham, Massachusetts, off Cape Cod. The vessel rolled over on its side with its cargo of frozen fish and fruit. The small ship had been built at Fort William, (now Thunder Bay) in 1918.

1970: The tanker GEZINA BROVIG sank 300 miles northeast of San Juan, Puerto Rico. An explosion in the main engine on January 31 blew a piston through the side of the ship and it gradually sank. The vessel had been a Great Lakes trader beginning in 1965..

1993: The former Spanish freighter MARTA, a Seaway trader in 1981, was sailing as b) PROSPERITY when it began leaking in a storm. The ship subsequently broke in two and sank with the loss of 5 lives. The vessel went down 120 miles west of Sri Lanka while enroute from Jordan to Madras, India.

1996: An engineroom fire aboard the C.S.L. self-unloader JEAN PARISIEN at Port Colborne resulted in about $250,000 in damage.

Data from: Skip Gillham, Max Hanley, Joe Barr, Father Dowling Collection and the Historical Collections of the Great Lakes.

 

Lake Superior dropped 2 inches in January

2/2 - The level of Lake Superior dropped 2 inches in January, a month the big lake usually drops about 3 inches, the International Lake Superior Board of Control reported Thursday.

Lake Superior now is 12 inches below the long-term average for Feb. 1 and is at the same level it was at this time last year.

The board reports that the Lake Superior basin received a bit more precipitation than usual in January, which caused a slower than normal decline. The lake normally drops from September to April and then rises from April to September.

While the lake is low, it is not near all-time record low levels.

Meanwhile precipitation into the Lake Michigan-Huron basins was below average, and the two lakes fell 3 inches in January, an inch more than usual. The level of Lakes Michigan-Huron is now about 28 inches below normal for Feb. 1 and 17 inches below the level at this time last year.

Duluth News Tribune

 

Today in Great Lakes History -  February 2

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 - CHIEF WAWATAM went to the shipyard to have a new forward shaft and propeller placed.

1913: The wooden passenger and freight carrier MANITOU sustained fire damage at Owen Sound and sank at the dock. The vessel was refloated, repaired and operated to the end of the 1939 season.

1972: IRISH SPRUCE first appeared in the Seaway in 1960. The ship was enroute from Callao, Peru, to New Orleans with zinc and copper concentrates as well as coffee, when it ran aground on Quinta Suero Bank (14,25 N / 81.00 W) off the coast of Nicaragua. The ship had its back broken and became a total loss.

1981: EDOUARD SIMARD and JAMES TRANSPORT collided in the St. Lawrence River east of Port Neuf, Quebec. Both received bow damage.

1981: ARTHUR SIMARD received extensive bottom damage after going aground in the St. Lawrence. It was enroute from Montreal to Sept-Iles, but returned to Trois Rivieres to unload and then to Montreal for repairs.

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

 

CSL's next Trillium-class ship, Thunder Bay, on sea trials

2/1 - CSL's latest Trillium-class laker, Thunder Bay, appeared to depart the Chinese shipyard where she is being built Thursday on sea trials. She is expected on the Great Lakes early in the 2013 shipping season.

Andy Torrence

 

Passing the torch at the Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center

2/1 - Duluth, Minn. – In its 40 years, the Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center has had just two directors: Patrick Labadie, who retired to Alpena, Michigan, in 2000; and Thom Holden, who will retire from the post at the end of January.

“I always said I was really good as No. 2, and kind of average probably as No. 1,” Thom says. Nonsense, says Pat. “He was perfect as a successor.”

Thom – a magnificently mustachioed Wisconsinite originally from Delavan, near the Illinois border – first took a job as a caretaker naturalist in Greenwich, Connecticut, after graduating with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and a master’s in journalism and recreation resources management from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. But for him and his wife, Cindy, “it wasn’t quite home, as much as we liked it. It was a ways away.”

During his studies, he’d spent the summer of 1973 at Isle Royale National Park as a student conservation assistant. The following two summers, he worked at Fort Wilkins Historic State Park in Copper Harbor, Michigan. The Lake Superior hook had been set.

So in April 1977, when a one-year appointment as a museum technician opened in Duluth at the visitor center, he didn’t hesitate to apply. “I’ve been here ever since.”

Thom’s built exhibits, worked with school and community groups, edited and written for the LSMMA newsletter The Nor’Easter and, since 2000, has headed the center. He’s even contributed to Lake Superior Magazine, starting with an article in 1979 for the premiere issue of Lake Superior Port Cities (the original name). Naturally, he wrote about an Isle Royale shipwreck, the steamer America. Thom also helped with revisions of Lake Superior Shipwrecks, the late Dr. Julius F. Wolff, Jr.’s seminal book.

Now, after 35 years, Thom, 66, will hang up his ranger uniform. He will stay in Superior, Wisconsin, and hopes retirement allows time to teach and assist with educational programs.

Park Ranger Denise Wolvin appreciates that Thom will stay involved. “He’s been very instrumental in helping me learn more about the history of the maritime industry in the Twin Ports and the Great Lakes as a whole. I wouldn’t know half as much as I do right now if it wasn’t for him. Luckily he is only a phone call away.”

“The public contact part of it, that’s the little carrot for me, that’s what I really enjoy doing,” says Thom. But, he adds, “I keep telling my wife, what I really want to do is be able to take a nap whenever I want to.”

Lake Superior Magazine

 

Stuck minesweeper built in Door County to be cut up, scrapped

2/1 - Green Bay, Wis. – A U.S. minesweeper that ran aground on a coral reef in the Philippines two weeks ago cannot be freed and will be cut up to remove it, the Navy said Tuesday.

The wooden-hull USS Guardian hit Tubbataha Reef – a marine reserve and U.N. Heritage site – early Jan. 17 while sailing the Sulu Sea from Subic Bay to Indonesia. The ship’s digital navigational chart, which was prepared by National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, miscalculated the reef’s location about 8 nautical miles.

The Guardian was built in Sturgeon Bay by Peterson Builders Inc. and launched June 20, 1987.

The 79 crew members evacuated safely, and the Navy said Monday that it had removed “anything deemed potentially harmful” – all of ship’s estimated 15,000 gallons of diesel fuel, along with 671 gallons of lubricating oil, dry food supplies, paints, solvents and sailors’ belongings.

The coral punctured the hull, flooding several compartments and peeling off fiberglass coating on the port side.

“Our only supportable option is to dismantle the damaged ship and remove it in sections,” Capt. Darryn James, a spokesman for the U.S. Pacific Fleet, told The Navy Times.

Two heavy lift, ship-borne cranes are scheduled to arrive about Friday. They will stay in deep water to minimize further damage to the reef, which is about 80 nautical miles east-southeast of Palawan island. The United Nations describes the reef as a “pristine” home to more than 350 species of coral and 500 types of fish.

The dismantling operation is expected to take more than a month. A Navy salvage ship, a survey vessel and a destroyer were on the scene already. The Navy’s investigation continues.

With the loss of the Guardian, which was launched in 1987 and home-ported in Japan, the Navy now has 13 “mine countermeasure” ships. The Navy Times calls the loss “a serious blow for the stressed U.S. mine force, which has been called on to expand operations in the Persian Gulf.”

The fleet was to have been replaced by littoral combat ships, but the deployment has been delayed and plagued by cost overruns by defense contractors.

Green Bay Press Gazette

 

Despite problems, a revival in shipping on the Great Lakes is expected

2/1 - When spring arrives and the frozen shores of the Great Lakes are long thawed, the St Lawrence Seaway, North America’s liquid superhighway, should witness the greatest renewal of its shipping fleet in 30 years. Craig Middlebrook, the deputy administrator of the St Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation (which operates and maintains the American portion of seaway) reckons about 30 new ships are being built to ply its waters.

One of the latest to be launched was the Federal Satsuki, commissioned by the Fednav Group, based in Montreal. She set sail from Cleveland in December. Part of the reason for this fleet renewal is the removal of duty on Canadian-flag ships built abroad in places like China and Japan. Another is that currency fluctuations have made it cheaper to acquire new vessels.

Yet as Rod Jones, the CEO of CSL Group, a shipping firm, says, “we have been waiting for a buying opportunity.” And the reason that many other companies feel the same way is that there is a widely held view that the Great Lakes region is poised for long-term economic growth. The shipping companies want to be ready for it.

Mr Middlebrook says the rebirth of American heavy manufacturing, led by the automotive industry, has been a bright spot for shipping recently. Furthermore, in the long term, the development of shale gas and oil looks as though it will not only increase demand to move heavy extraction equipment into Great Lakes state but is expected to power a lot more economic growth in the region via lower energy costs. Wind is another growing power source in the Midwest, so components for the giant turbines used to harvest it are also a popular new cargo.

Both Canada and America are, at long last, investing heavily in the seaway, which is also boosting corporate confidence. However, another difficulty is arising. The future of the seaway crucially depends on the water levels in the lakes, and America’s drought last summer, among the worst on record, has lowered water levels in Lake Michigan and Huron to near-record lows. This has meant that the ships that ply the lakes are not always able to carry full loads—which increases their costs.

Many of the companies can still hedge their bets; for example, they can relatively easily retire their older ships if the demand they expect fails to materialize. But Marc Gagnon, of the Fednav Group, says that his company is definitely expanding because it has confidence in the bright future of shipping on the Great Lakes.

The Economist

 

Salt mine below Lake Erie makes Ohio’s roads safer

2/1 - Cleveland, Ohio – Have you ever wondered where all the rock salt that melts all the ice and snow on our highways and roads comes from? Most of the salt is from a mine under Lake Erie just off of downtown Cleveland.

For half a century, Cargill Deicing Technology has been mining salt from underneath Lake Erie. The mine is part of the Great Eastern Salt Basin, one of the world’s largest salt beds, with tunnels that are 20 feet high and 45 feet wide.

The salt mine is different than most salt mines because it’s located right in downtown Cleveland.

“Most of your mines are located out in the country away from the city. This makes it very unique, puts us right smack dab where our business is,” said Bob Supko, the Cargill mine manager.

The salt mine is four miles into Lake Erie and more than 1,800 feet deep, plus the temperature inside the mine ranges above 70 degrees.

“Pretty warm to me but it’s constant. Wintertime, summertime you just change. Whether you wear a coat or how heavy a coat that’s it, you are a couple miles back in here, it’s the same round,” said Keith Dickey, a driller at the mine.

The salt is produced first by drilling into the formation, then collected onto miles and miles of conveyor belts, then chopped up and hauled up to the surface where it eventually gets spread across our roads to melt the snow and ice.

“About 80 percent of our production goes to de-icing control, we would say we are probably the majority supplier for the state of Ohio. We are producing a product for the people in the state of Ohio and surrounding states and make the roads safer. That’s the goal,” said Nick Newsome, a superintendent at the mine.

All of the huge, heavy equipment that is used in producing salt is lowered down into the mine in pieces then assembled together.

“It will not fit down a shaft in one piece. We take and make it as many pieces as possible to lighten the load as well,” said Don Vath, a mechanic at the Cleveland mine.

Once they are done with the heavy equipment, it never returns to the surface. They place it in what they call their equipment graveyard. The Cleveland mine has been producing salt since 1963 and has 100 years of salt reserves left under Lake Erie.

Fox 8

 

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

1966: The Liberty ship IOANNIS DASKALELIS came through the Seaway for one trip in 1962. It was abandoned in heavy weather as d) ROCKPORT on the Pacific and taken in tow. The vessel slowly sank about 600 miles from Midway Island on February 5. ROCKPORT was enroute from Vancouver to Japan and three dramatic photos of the ship sliding beneath the surface appeared in a number of newspapers.

1969: The third LUKSEFJELL to visit the Great Lakes was anchored at Constanza, Romania, as b) AKROTIRI when there was an explosion in the engine room. A roaring fire spread throughout the midships accommodation area and the blaze claimed the lives of 21 of the 25 crewmembers on board. The hull was sold to Romanian shipbreakers and broken up in 1970.

1974: AMETHYST ran aground off River Douro, on the northeast coast of Portugal, while inbound for Leixos with maize from New Orleans. The vessel had been anchored waiting to enter the river when heavy weather swept the area. The vessel dragged anchor, stranded and, on February 6, broke in two as a total loss. It first came through the Seaway in 1971.

1981: The former ANDERS ROGENAES and MEDICINE HAT came inland in 1964. It ran aground as h) YANMAR at Guayaquil, Ecuador, while outbound for Port Limon, Costa Rica. An onboard crankcase explosion followed on February 23. The vessel was a total loss and sold for scrapping at Brownsville, Texas. Work began on dismantling the ship at that location on June 12, 1981.

1988: L'ORME NO. 1, the former LEON SIMARD, struck a pipe while docking at St. Romauld, Quebec, in fog. A fire and explosion followed that damaged the ship and wharf. Repairs were made and the ship was last noted sailing as d) GENESIS ADVENTURER under the flag of Nigeria.

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

 



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