Great Lakes & Seaway Shipping News Archive

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* Report News

Algosteel and Capt. Henry Jackman arrive for winter lay-up

2/28 - Algosteel arrived in Sarnia, Ont., on Thursday during the evening for winter lay-up at the Government Dock. She is rafted to the Algoma Olympic. On Friday afternoon, Capt. Henry Jackman also arrived at the Government Dock. She is rafted to the Algosteel. The Jackman was assisted by the USCG Cutter Neah Bay, which broke ice and led the vessel down from lower Lake Huron, where she had been anchored since Thursday. Peter R. Cresswell is also expected to lay up at Sarnia, and on Friday evening she was upbound in the lower end of the St. Clair River. Other laid-up vessels at Sarnia include Cuyahoga, Calumet, CSL Niagara and Robert S. Pierson. Although not in Sarnia harbor, the tanker Algosar is laid up at the former CN ferry dock. The Sidney Smith dock remains unoccupied for the time being.

Denny Dushane, Barry Hiscocks


Port Reports -  February 28

Sturgeon Bay, Wis. – Jim Conlon
The Algoma Central Corp. vessel Algolake was moved into the graving dock at Bay Shipbuilding late Thursday. Bayship employees and Selvick Towing tugs spent all day moving the ship back and forth over the sweep boom to remove the ice from the bottom of the ship before it could be set down on the blocks.


Second Eastland disaster film located

2/28 - Chicago, Ill. – A second college graduate has located more digitized video from the 1915 Eastland disaster. This new discovery comes on the heels of the Feb. 5 discovery of the first known archived film footage of the tragedy.

Alex Revzan, who recently completed his masters in history at Northern Illinois University in Dekalb, Ill., discovered the new series of digitized film while searching the British Pathé film archive site that he had used while completing his studies at NIU. The archived videos were not indexed, and thus he was not able to search the site using disaster-specific keywords. Instead, he diligently spent more than 90 minutes foraging through hundreds of video clips until he found what clearly appeared to be additional footage from the Eastland disaster.


Lookback #468 – The Canadian registry for Birchton was closed on Feb. 28, 1978

2/28 - The canal-sized bulk carrier Birchton operated into the 1961 season before it was laid up at Montreal by the Gulf and Lake Navigation Co. It had been a fixture through the St. Lawrence canals and around the Great Lakes since being built at Dumbarton, Scotland, in 1924.

Birchton was sold to Bathurst Marine Ltd. in 1963 and towed to Bathurst, N.B., for conversion to a floating drydock. This work got underway but was not completed when the new owners went out of business.

After being idle at the Gloucester Lumber Co. wharf at Bathurst, the hull was sold to Atlantic Salvage and Dredging and towed to Halifax on June 18, 1968. The ship was cut in two the following month and the sections were used as pontoons in the construction of offshore gas drilling platforms.

The two pieces eventually sank at the dock. While the stern was raised on July 12, 1977, the bow remained on the bottom until 1998. That was after Canadian registry was officially closed on Feb. 28, 1978, as “vessel sunk.”

As both sections were brought to the surface, they were each broken up for scrap.

Skip Gillham


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 had 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.


Welding work linked to fire on Mississagi

2/27 - Hamilton, Ont. – 10 a.m. update - The fire reported on board the Mississagi in Hamilton was a result of cutting and burning operations in # 3 cargohold by shipyard personnel causing the cargohold coatings in the vicinity to smolder and smoke. This resulted in one shipyard worker being treated on site for smoke inhalation. There was no damage to the vessel other than coatings damage in the immediate vicinity of the work being undertaken. All emergency procedures including notification of the fire department were enacted by the shipyard.

Original Report: A fire in the cargo hold of a bulk carrier on the Hamilton waterfront is being linked to welding work by a member of the repair crew. "Some combustibles in there ignited," said Hamilton Fire service spokesperson Claudio Mostacci.

Twenty workers on board the Mississagi escaped off the 72-year-old vessel when the fire was discovered, and one was injured. Mostacci said a worker inhaled some smoke and was treated by paramedics at the scene.

Firefighters were called to Heddle Marine Service just before 3:30 p.m. Thursday. Mostacci said when crews arrived, they saw heavy smoke pouring from the top of the Mississagi.

Heddle Marine is at 280 Hillyard St., north of Evans McKeil Way, on Pier 14. The 27-year-old company's website says it's the largest marine repair firm that operates floating drydocks on the Canadian side of the Great Lakes. It employs about 70 people and leases land from the Hamilton Port Authority.

Mostacci said firefighters poured water into the ship and appeared to have it extinguished quickly. He said the Confined Spaces Team had to descend into the vessel and confirmed the fire was out at around 4:40 p.m.

At one point, the fire service had 12 units at the scene. Mostacci said damage was still being assessed.

The Mississagi was built in 1943 and was named the Hill Annex. It was rechristened the George A. Sloan that same year and sailed under that name until 2001. It has been retrofitted numerous times over the years and is owned by Lower Lakes Towing Ltd.

The Heddle website says the firm is also working on three other ships at the yard: the Wilf Seymour, Lambert Spirit and Alouette Spirit.

Hamilton Spectator


Icebreakers continue to help as vessels head to layup

2/27 - As of Thursday at 9 p.m., Arthur M. Anderson had reached Port Huron on her upbound trip to winter layup in Sturgeon Bay, Wis. Algosteel and USCG Neah Bay were off the Vantage Point in Port Huron, with USCG Hollyhock standing by. Capt. Henry Jackman and USCG Katmai Bay were stopped in the ice in the southern end of Lake Huron above Port Huron. Both the Jackman and Algosteel are bound for winter layup in Sarnia. Earlier in the day, CCGS Griffon and Samuel Risley were escorting the tug Victorious and barge James J. Carrick upbound through St. Clair River system.

The U.S. and Canadian cutters are also expected to assist with the eventual escort of Algoma Hansa and Algosea, which were docked at Sarnia Thursday night.


Great Lakes ice coverage reaches 84 percent

2/27 - Chicago, Ill. – February has been anything but kind to Chicago, and for much of the eastern half of the country.

Coming into February, much of the Great Lakes, except for Lake Erie, had less than 50 percent ice coverage. As of February 25, the Great Lakes ice coverage stands at 84 percent. This is the 2nd straight year that the Great Lakes have topped 80 percent. The last time this happened was the late 1970's.

The Great Lakes, at this time last year, were 70 percent covered in ice. When this much ice remains on the lakes, March tend to be cooler than normal.

March of 2014 had an average temperature of 31.7 degrees, which is -6.2 degrees colder than normal along with 12.3 inches of snow.

The outlook for March, according to the Climate Prediction Center, is cooler than normal temperatures with near normal precipitation. However, the longer range forecast for the months April, May, and June are expected to be warmer than normal.

Fox 32 News


U.S. Steel closing Gary Works coke plant

2/27 - Gary, Ind. – U.S. Steel plans to close its Gary Works coke plant in May, displacing about 300 workers. It will mark the end of a coke-making era at the steel plant that once operated three coke batteries.

U.S. Steel spokeswoman Courtney Boone said Thursday the company notified United Steelworkers of America officials on Wednesday of the permanent shutdown. She said it was a strategic decision based on market conditions and the company's long-term coke strategy.

It's unclear where Gary Works will obtain its coke once the plant closes.

U.S. Steel applied for a permit last year to construct an electric arc furnace at its Fairfield Works plant in Birmingham, Ala., to replace an existing blast furnace. U.S. Steel officials say the electric arc furnace will improve its operations so it can adapt to global demand, while reducing its capital spending and maintenance costs related to running a blast furnace.

Made from crushed coal cooked at extremely high temperatures, coke is a key raw material in iron-making, providing heat for the blast furnace. It comes with costly environmental challenges, however, and steel industry experts say coke-making could become obsolete in the future as the steel industry turns to cleaner technology.

USW District 7 director Mike Millsap said he hopes displaced workers can land new jobs in the mill.

"Obviously, it's not something that we want, but they've been slowly taking it down. It's old." He pointed to new $1.2 billion coke plant upgrade at Clairton Plant, in Clairton, Pa., near Pittsburgh.

"They haven't made investments in this facility," said Millsap of Gary Works.

Millsap agreed with steel analysts who say the steel market is softening, as prices are going down while competition from low-priced imports continues.

Last month, U.S. Steel notified state officials it was idling operations at its East Chicago tin plant and laying off 397 workers. The layoffs will begin March 22. The company said it was taking the action because of a significant decline in customer orders due to low-priced imports of tin mill products.

Chicago Tribune


‘Super Mackinac’ Race: 568 miles of Great Lakes sailing

2/27 - Bayview Yacht Club (Detroit, Mich.) and Chicago Yacht Club (Chicago, Ill.) will jointly host the Super Mackinac Race in July. The event will start in the waters of Lake Michigan off downtown Chicago on July 11, with competitors following the traditional course to Mackinac Island before moving east past Bois Blanc Island and then south along the Michigan shore of Lake Huron, finishing offshore the Port Huron Yacht Club for a total rhumb line distance of 568 statute miles.

This year marks the 91st running of the Bell’s Beer Bayview Mackinac Race and the 107th running of the Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac. This will be the first running of the Super Mackinac since 2009. Over 330 boats participated in the 2014 Chicago Mac while over 220 made it to the line for the Bayview Mac.


Lookback #467 – Dintelborg taken in tow on Feb. 27, 2011, after a fire on the bridge

2/27 - The general cargo carrier Dintelborg was built at Waterhuizen, Netherlands, in 1999 and began Great Lakes trading right away. The 437-foot, 8-inch-long freighter entered the Seaway upbound for Cleveland with a cargo of steel on July 30, 1999. It then sailed to Duluth to unload salt and zinc before going to Thunder Bay to take on wheat.

The Wagenborg Shipping vessel was back later in the year with more foreign steel and then loaded soybeans at Duluth for overseas delivery.

It operated on charter as b) MSC Dardanelles from 2001 to 2004 before resuming trading under the original name.

Fire broke out on the bridge en route from Netherlands to Virginia on Feb. 26, 2011, and the ship was taken in tow the next day, 4 years ago today, by the Rowan M. McAllister based in Providence, R.I. They made it to port safely and the damage was repaired.

Two years earlier, in February 2009, Dintelborg arrived at Stockholm, Sweden, with part of the Armbagen Lighthouse draped over the bow after a collision with the structure in the Aland Sea between Sweden and Finland.

Skip Gillham


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.


Ice operations continue; Anderson waits to move

2/26 - On Wednesday, the steamer Arthur M. Anderson was still tied up in Detroit awaiting the formation of a convoy so she can resume her upbound trip for Sturgeon Bay and a belated winter layup. The USCG Neah Bay was in Detroit In port Detroit, for fuel. CCGS Samuel Risley was In port at Sarnia for fuel and logistics, while CCGS Griffon was at Windsor for the same. Both vessels will resume track grooming and maintenance in the St. Clair River.

The Capt. Henry Jackman and Algosteel were underway in the Straits of Mackinac Wednesday. The USCG Katmai Bay took up escort about 11:30 a.m. starting with the Algosteel near Mackinac Island. By early afternoon the convoy was downbound on Lake Huron. The Jackman had been waiting since last Thursday for the Algosteel to form a downbound convoy.

USCG Hollyhock departed her berthed in Port Huron stopping off Harbor Beach Wednesday night where they will assist Capt. Henry Jackman and Algosteel downbound to Sarnia.


Shippers fear tough spring season on icy Great Lakes

2/26 - Toronto, Ont. – The prolonged frigid temperatures this winter have left a giant frozen cover over much of the Great Lakes.

If the cold temperatures continue unabated, it could set a record. And that means commercial shipping will likely be impacted this spring – with a later opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway system and slow ramp-up of vessels that can actually get through.

As of this week, 85.6 per cent of the Great Lakes are covered with ice including almost all of Lake Erie, Lake Huron and Lake Superior.

Even Lake Ontario, one of the deepest lakes compared to its surface area, sees ice coverage numbers fluctuating widely, with 82 per cent coverage last Wednesday, to almost 60 per cent coverage this week.

Due to the extreme cold and ice on the inner harbor, ferry service to the Toronto islands is suspended until further notice, with island residents using the airport ferry instead.

“It’s been pretty cold the last few weeks, so the lakes have more ice now than at this time last year,” said George Leshkevich, a physical scientist with the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory in Ann Arbor, Mich.

He said it was unusual to have two years in a row of extensive ice cover compared to previous years. “We haven’t seen that in a long while,” he said. “Two cold years, no. Two warm years, yes.”

Last year, 92.5 per cent of the Great Lakes were frozen on March 6, beaten only by the record set in 1979, when ice coverage hit 94.7 per cent.

The higher ice levels may be caused, in part, by the last year’s severe polar cold air mass that settled over Eastern Canada, which was accompanied by a mild summer, where lake temperatures didn’t have a chance to warm up.

Leshkevich says only Mother Nature knows whether this year will be a record, but commercial shipping will be affected.

Shipping across the Great Lakes essentially stops in winter, when the locks at Welland, linking Lake Ontario and Lake Erie, and the locks at Sault Ste. Marie, linking Lake Superior and Lake Huron, close.

Some vessels do continue to operate on some of the lakes, especially to move petrochemical products and road salt, but they can get caught up in the ice.

Last weekend, the Canadian Coast Guard had to dispatch two icebreakers to help free a bulk freighter that had been trapped for days in thick ice of up to 3 metres thick on Lake Erie, near Cleveland.

Thick ice ridges can build up – where ice sheets come together and then are broken by wind and pressure that builds as ice grows. Leshkevich said on Lake Erie ridges are known to be 1.5 metres to 1.8 metres in some areas, and 2.4 metres to 3 metres in others, and can be duplicated below the ice surface.

“The ridges are all over,” he said. “It’s very hard for the ice breaker, once they break through one, there’s another one.”

That amount of ice can pose challenges for commercial vessels. Leshkevich has frequently travelled on U.S. Coast Guard icebreakers that clear a shipping path for vessels on Lake Superior for the first trip in the spring through the Sault Ste. Marie locks.

Last March, he was on aboard for a run from Sault Ste. Marie to Duluth and back —leading three ships in a convoy over Lake Superior.

“It was brutal. I had never seen it like that,” Leskevich said. “A 5- to 7-day trip turned into 16 days.”

As the icebreaker was clearing a path, the wind closed it up, and the work began again. The icebreaker would ram through a ridge, and then stop, and back up and get a running start again, and ram again, he added.

Overnight, the icebreaker would get caught in the ice and wind up back where it was the day before.

The Sault Ste. Marie locks are scheduled to open on Mar. 25, and usually there’s a vessel waiting to cross at midnight, but last year, the first ship didn’t pass until April 4.

The St. Lawrence Seaway — which runs from Montreal to Lake Ontario and Welland — has targeted an opening of March 27, a few days later than usual.

“The expansive ice cover was an important factor in reaching that date,” said Seaway spokesman Andrew Bogora, who noted it can open as early at Mar. 22, but in recent years, it’s been around Mar. 24 or 25.

“Last year when we opened we saw limited activity given how expansive the ice cover was,” he said, adding it could adjust the opening date if necessary. “We will not open the season until it is safe to do so.”

Robert Lewis-Manning, president of the Canadian Shipowners Association, which represents ships that move through the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River, expects this year’s situation to be “as bad or worse than it was last year.”

Part of the challenge is the number of ice breakers available – with two from Canada and seven from the U.S. coast guard, to help break a path.

Last year, Canada sent two ice breakers from the Arctic to the Great Lakes to help, but Lewis-Manning says given the brutal winter in the Maritimes, they may not be available this year.

Demand for shipping is so far typical this year for everything from grain to ore, he said. But any delays due to weather could have an impact.

“A slow start will have impact on the supply chain overall and the industries which we support,” Lewis-Manning said. “Winter is not new to Canada or Canadians, but the lack of sufficient numbers of ice breakers, for example, is not supporting commerce sufficiently.”

When asked whether Leshkevich is considering another ride this year on coast guard ice breaker on Lake Superior, he says he is undecided.

“I’m not sure after last year,” Leskevich said, adding he could ask others to collect data and photos.

The Star


Arthur M. Anderson’s Sturgeon Bay arrival delayed until weekend

2/26 - Due to heavy ice in the lower Great Lakes, the steamer Arthur M. Anderson’s transit to the Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal has been delayed and is now expected to occur March 1 or 2. The vessel will enter the ship canal from Lake Michigan on its way to Bay Ship Building at Sturgeon Bay, Wis.



Canada Steamship Lines wins Operator of the Year award

2/26 - Canada Steamship Lines was recognized as one of “the best and brightest in North American shipping,” winning the Inland/Coastal/Lakes Operator of the Year award at the 2015 Lloyd’s List North American Maritime Awards Dinner in Montreal last Wednesday.

“This recognition solidifies CSL and its new generation of Trillium Class vessels as the market leaders in safe, efficient and environmentally responsible shipping in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway,” said CSL president Allister Paterson, in a release from the company.

Rod Jones, president and CEO of the CSL Group, said the Trillium Class vessels reflect CSL’s philosophy to continuously strive for operational and service excellence, to invest in innovation and to actively pursue opportunities to improve our environmental and safety performance.

“In North America and throughout our global divisions, CSL conducts its operations based on core values and a business approach that reflect this philosophy,” Jones said

Before a crowd of 250 marine professionals, Dan McCarthy, CSL’s vice-president of marketing and customer services, accepted the award on behalf of company. “CSL is proud to be accepting the award in the company of industry leaders such as Green Marine, the innovative organization committed to strengthening the marine sector’s environmental performance,” said McCarthy. “Collaboration among industry, government, customers and marine professionals is essential to drive forward the environmental and technological advances necessary to ensure a strong future for shipping throughout North America.”


Author John Henry to speak at National Museum in Toledo

2/26 - Toledo, Ohio – John Henry, author of “Great White Fleet: Celebrating Canada Steamship Lines Passenger Ships,” will make his Ohio speaking debut at the National Museum of the Great Lakes’ annual luncheon on May 9 in Toledo, Ohio. The luncheon will be held at the Park Inn in Toledo and will begin at 11:30 a.m.

Henry is a journalist and author based in New York City who has reported on business for the Associated Press, Newsday and The (New York) Daily News. He now freelances, and his articles on travel and transportation have appeared in major newspapers in the United States and Canada. He also has been published in the quarterly journals of the Steamship Historical Society of America and Great Lakes Historical Society.

Reservations are required. To attend the luncheon call 419-214-5000. Tickets are $25 per person for members and $35 per person for non-members.


Lookback #466 – T-2 tanker Transbay burned as Royal Oak on Feb. 26, 1947

The T-2 tanker Transbay was upbound at the Iroquois Lock on June 30, 1966. The deep-sea visitor was headed for the shipyard at Lorain, Ohio, for reconstruction.

While at Lorain, the old mid-body was removed and scrapped while a 296-foot-long replacement section from the tanker Passumpsic, which had also been reconstructed, was inserted as well as a new 57-foot, 3-inch cargo section was added.

This work over the summer of 1966 resulted in the 566-foot, 6-inch long tanker c) Transhuron. The 11,971 gross ton vessel had 27 cargo tanks that could carry 19,650 tons of oil product.

Transbay had been built at Chester, Pa., and launched as Royal Oak on April 12, 1945. It entered service for the United States Maritime Commission by the end of that month.

Royal Oak caught fire 68 years ago today. It was in the Pacific on a voyage from Talara, Peru to Buenaventura, Colombia, and the blaze broke out off Esmeraldas, Ecuador. The ship took on a list and appeared to be sinking, so it was abandoned by the crew.

However, the tanker was reboarded and the fire brought under control and eventually extinguished. The hull was brought to Balboa, at the western end of the Panama Canal, for evaluation.

It was decided that the damage was repairable so Royal Oak was fixed up and sold to the Cities Service Oil Co. for further service as Royal Oak. It was resold to Hudson Waterways in 1962 and renamed b) Transbay before they sent it to the Great Lakes for reconstruction in 1966.

This vessel departed the Seaway as c) Transhuron later in 1966 and operated in saltwater service. The ship went aground off Kiltan Island, due to engine failure while en route to the Persian Gulf from Subic Bay, Philippines. The accident of Sept. 24, 1974, occurred off the west coast of India, and resulted in the former lakes visitor being declared a total loss.

Skip Gillham


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 accommodations area, but the repairs were completed in time for the ship to resume trading on May 27, 1981. It was still sailing in 2013 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.


Anderson still in Detroit; icebreaking continues

2/25 - Detroit, Mich. – The steamer Arthur M. Anderson, which reached Detroit Monday morning, was still docked at Nicholson Terminal below the Ambassador Bridge on Tuesday. They will remain at the dock until convoy can be arranged to Sturgeon Bay, Wis., likely later this week.

Meanwhile, the Port Huron-based USCGC Hollyhock will continue grooming and track maintenance in the St. Clair River and lower Lake Huron as required. On Tuesday morning, the USCGC Neah Bay was reported en route from Cleveland to the lower St. Clair River for track grooming and vessel assistance as required. The CCGS Samuel Risley will continue track grooming in the lower St. Clair River. Vessels are still having considerable difficulty passing through areas around Harsens and Russell islands. She will also conduct a crew change and logistics in Sarnia. On Tuesday morning, the CCGS Griffon was underway escorting the Algosea upbound in the lower Detroit River. She will conduct track grooming within Lake St. Clair and lower St. Clair River. She will be in port Windsor to conduct logistics and a crew change.

In the Straits, Capt. Henry Jackman continues to wait in ice near Mackinac Island, along with fleetmate Algosteel, located a few miles to the west. The Jackman, who has been in the same position since Thursday, waited off Round Island for the Steel to join her and form a downbound convoy lead by the USCG Katmai Bay. Gales delayed the departure but were expected to get underway today.


Lakes Superior, Huron and Erie nearly entirely frozen over

2/25 - The ice continues to grow on the Great Lakes. The next few days of below zero temperatures around the Great Lakes should make the ice expand. But just how close are we to record ice cover on the Great Lakes?

As of Monday, Feb. 23, the entire Great Lakes system combined had 85.4 percent ice cover. The highest ice cover total on the entire Great Lakes was 94.7 percent in 1979. Decent ice cover record-keeping dates back to 1973. Some individual lakes are closer to the record.

Lake Superior's satellite image is pretty amazing. Lake Superior is almost entirely frozen. As of Feb. 23, Lake Superior was ranked as 95.5 percent covered in ice. The record ice cover for Lake Superior is 100 percent in 1996.

Lake Michigan ice is increasing, but seems to be the one lake that has been keeping ice cover from record proportions. On Feb. 23, Lake Michigan had 62.5 percent, increasing from 55 percent in just one day. The record ice cover on Lake Michigan was actually set last year at 93.3 percent.

Lake Huron is almost totally frozen over also, with 95.9 percent ice cover. In 1994, Lake Huron reached 98.5 percent ice cover.

Lake Erie has 95.9 percent of its surface covered in ice. Lake Erie has been entirely frozen over in three winters since 1973.

Lake Ontario has 59.9 percent ice coverage as of Feb. 23. Lake Ontario still has a long way to go to break the record of 85.7 percent ice in 1979.

It's going to be interesting to watch the ice grow in the next two weeks. In looking at the weather data, there really isn't a widespread above freezing temperature pattern expected in the next two weeks. The next few days look brutally cold, and there may even be another outbreak of below zero weather next week.

MLive Chief Meteorologist Mark Torregrossa


Magnetation idles plant due to global glut of iron ore

2/25 - Duluth, Minn. – Magnetation LLC will indefinitely close its Plant 1 in Keewatin next month due to the growing global glut of iron ore and falling ore prices that are now hitting home on the Iron Range.

The company announced Monday that the plant will be placed into a “maintenance program’’ by late March, the most obvious Minnesota victim so far in what has become a free-falling global iron ore industry.

Some 49 people will lose their jobs at Plant 1, although some may be given positions at other Magnetation operations. It’s not clear if or when Plant 1 might reopen.

Global iron ore prices have dropped by more than 50 percent over the past 18 months with slower demand in China and huge increases in iron ore output in Australia.

Since early 2011, iron ore prices have dropped by two-thirds, from nearly $190 per ton to about $62 per ton today. That’s less than the price of production for some Minnesota operations.

Magnetation President Matt Lehtinen said the rapid increase in iron ore oversupply and the free-falling price of the ore has created a situation that is “volatile and dramatic and completely unexpected.”

“Seven months ago we had industry analysts predicting $90 to $100-per-ton iron ore prices for the foreseeable future. Now, we’re at $62. No one saw this coming,’’ Lehtinen told the News Tribune. “Everyone in this business that sells on the open market is tied to the global price; Minnesota Isn't insulated from that. Plus we also have steel prices falling rapidly at the same time. … It’s a challenging time for everyone in this business right now.”

Grand Rapids-based Magnetation — which sells its Minnesota iron ore concentrate to both U.S. and Mexican steelmakers — so far hasn’t lost any contracts due to the industry shakeup, Lehtinen said. But Plant 1 was Magnetation’s oldest and least-efficient facility, and the company decided to idle the operations to save money and focus on its newer, less costly operations.

“Right now we’re very focused on cutting cost of production. We have to be,’’ Lehtinen said.

Plant 1 has 41 hourly and eight salaried employees that will be laid off.

“We will be working closely with the appropriate governmental agencies to assist the employees who will be laid off as a result of this unfortunate event,” said Larry Lehtinen, Magnetation CEO.

The layoffs are the most visible sign so far that the global iron ore situation will affect Minnesota’s mining industry, although warning signs have been showing up for several months.

Some Iron Range lawmakers who follow the industry closely have been warning for months that the next two years at least will be tough for the industry as supply and demand work to even out.

“I’ve been seeing this coming for a while now and I still believe ’15 and ’16 are not going to be good for iron ore,” said state Rep. Tom Anzelc, DFL-Balsam Township, who represents the western Iron Range where Magnetation has most of its operations. “This is just more proof that mining is such a risky, risky venture.”

Much of the taconite iron ore and iron ore concentrate produced in Minnesota is used in American steel mills owned by the company that mines it, such as U.S. Steel’s Minntac and Keetac operations and ArcelorMittal's Minorca Mine in Virginia. But other Minnesota mining companies, such as Magnetation and Cliffs Natural Resources, must sell their product on the open market, mostly to U.S. mills.

So far, because of the cost of shipping, foreign iron ore producers haven’t made inroads into supplying the U.S. steelmaking industry. But the current oversupply situation has hit some U.S companies, especially Cliffs, which has shuttered all of its Canadian iron ore operations which were closely tied to the dropping global price of ore.

Also, cheaper foreign ore makes for cheaper foreign steel, which has taken an increasingly large share of the the American steel market, thus lowering demand for American steel made out of Minnesota iron ore. Anzelc said the situation will be further complicated by the approaching start of production at Essar Steel’s large taconite mine and processing facility in Nashwauk, which is planned to add 7 million tons of capacity for the U.S. market that's currently not needed.

Idling the Keewatin plant will help Magnetation cut costs and should help keep its remaining operations more viable, the company said Monday. The company said iron ore previously produced by Plant 1 will be replaced by increased production at the company’s other operations and “outside purchases” if needed to keep its customers supplied.

Magnetation also owns and operates Plant 2 in Bovey and Plant 4 in Coleraine that opened late in 2014. Magnetation owns and operates an iron ore pellet plant located in Reynolds, Ind., in a partnership with AK Steel.

Magnetation also built and operates Plant 3 in Chisholm which is co-owned by the parent company of Mesabi Nugget, Minnesota’s only iron nugget plant. But both Mesabi Nugget and the Chisholm processing plant currently are shut down for at least several weeks — also because of an oversupply of raw material.

Magnetation was founded in 2006 and built Plant 1 in 2008. The company uses an innovative and proprietary technology to recover valuable iron ore out of old mine waste piles left behind from iron ore mining efforts a half-century or more ago. The company has been praised as a Minnesota mining success story, growing steadily until now.

Industry analysts note that the global oversupply of iron ore — the amount produced compared to demand to make steel — sat at just 14 million tons in 2013 but rose to 72 million tons last year. This year the oversupply is expected to hit 175 million tons, with another huge jump to 300 million tons by 2017.

Minnesota produces less than 40 million tons annually, with some production also in Michigan, the only U.S. iron-ore producing states. By contrast, one new Australian mine will produce more iron ore than all U.S. producers combined.

Analysts have reported that some foreign producers have production costs as low as $50 per ton. By comparison, Cliffs announced earlier this month it hoped to reduced its cost to about $59 per ton for U.S. ore.

Duluth News Tribune


Governor proposes funding for Aquatic Research Lab expansion at Soo

2/25 - Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. – In his recent budget proposal to the legislature for the 2015-2016 fiscal year, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder has recommended that Lake Superior State University receive funding for its planned Center for Freshwater Research and Education.

The center, which is a proposed $12 million expansion of LSSU’s existing Aquatic Research Laboratory, would be housed in a building near the west end of the Cloverland Electrical Cooperative power plant on the St. Marys River. The project would greatly enhance LSSU’s research capabilities and would be an economic driver for the state.

The governor’s recommendation for LSSU is one of five higher education projects that ranked the highest in capital outlay scoring evaluations in their respective categories.

“With our location in the heart of the Great Lakes, along an international border, we have the perfect location for such a facility and we are pleased that the governor and legislature recognize the importance and need for this project,” said LSSU President Tom Pleger.

Since 1977, LSSU’s current Aquatic Research Laboratory has been a model of a public-private partnership in research, education, and outreach, providing economic, educational, and scientific benefits to the region. The lab has been stocking Atlantic salmon in the St. Marys River for more than 25 years, which has created a world-class fishery in the upper Great Lakes that is valued at over $9 million to the Michigan economy. Research efforts have brought in more than $2 million just in the past five years.

All the while, the lab has assisted with the training of hundreds of students who are employed in the fisheries and water resources field. Nearly half of the employees in the Mich. Dept. of Natural Resources Fisheries Division are LSSU alumni.

Soo Evening News


Icebreaking operations this week at Ludington

2/25 - Ludington, Mich. – Commercial vessel traffic will utilize the port of Ludington on 26 Feb until 05 Mar. The tug Spartan will take the barge Spartan II from Lake Michigan to the Port of Ludington utilizing docks near the S.S. Badger.



DNR taps Douglas boat builder for new Lake Huron fisheries vessel

2/25 - Douglas, Mich. – An Allegan County boat maker has landed a $1.3 million contract to build a new vessel for state fisheries research on Lake Huron.

Andersen Boat Works of Douglas will build a 57-foot, aluminum-hulled boat named after former Michigan Dept. of Natural Resources fisheries chief Howard Tanner, the state agency announced Monday.

The new boat, the research vessel Tanner, will replace the research vessel Chinook, which has been operating on the Great Lakes in various capacities since 1947.

Jeff Diemond, DNR Fisheries Division boat captain, called the Chinook the "senior citizen" of the DNR fleet. The boat, built in Marinette, Wis. and based in Alpena, has operated on Lake Huron and the St. Marys River since 1968.

The Chinook "needs to be replaced with a modern vessel to improve safety for the vessel's crew and significantly upgrade our research capabilities," said Diemond.

The new Tanner was drawn-up by Seacraft Design of Sturgeon Bay, Wis. It will be powered by twin engines and rigged for sampling with nets and trawls. The boat will feature new hydro-acoustic survey equipment, state-of-the-art navigation and a compartmental hull design. It can hold a crew of five to six.

The Tanner will support DNR management of lake trout, walleye and yellow perch fisheries and conduct invasive species surveillance, the DNR said.

Alpena Fisheries Research Station staff said the contract is for $1.315 million. Another $685,000 is being spent outfitting the Tanner. Andersen Boat Works is expected to deliver the boat in April 2016. The boat is expected to last 50 years.

In a statement, the DNR said a "final resting place, including an educational display, is being explored for the R/V Chinook after its decommissioning."

M Live


Port Burwell Marine Museum aims to make ship’s wheelhouse an attraction

2/25 - Port Burwell, Ont. – It was once the control centre of a massive bulk carrier ship that traversed the Great Lakes for parts of the 20th century. But if all goes according to plan, the ship’s wheelhouse will land near the shores of Lake Erie this summer as the latest attraction at the Port Burwell Marine Museum.

“It's really an artifact, and we wanted it as an attraction,” said Charles Buchanan, vice chairman of Museums Bayham and treasurer of the Port Burwell Historical Society. “It fits right in as an outside artifact and an attention-getter to the Port Burwell Marine Museum.”

The wheelhouse is from a ship known most recently as the Fernglen, built in Lorain, Ohio in 1917. The ship sailed under many names before it was retired in 1984 and the wheelhouse was converted into an office for the George Barnes & Sons excavating company of Lowbanks, Ont.

Historical society representatives inquired about the wheelhouse years ago but it wasn’t for sale at the time.

“I guess they kept a record of our visit,” Buchanan said. “And all these years later they came back to the historical society and said, 'Listen. We've now built a new office building and we find that now our wheelhouse is a surplus. Would you people still like to have it for display?'

“So we said, 'Sure we would.' So that's kind of how this got re-ignited.”

The excavating company has donated the wheelhouse, but project organizers expect it will cost at least $25,000 to move it to Port Burwell and refurbish it.

“What we may be able to be successful with is, some of the refurbishing work being donated in kind by people who are able to do that,” Buchanan said.

“Once we get it here, we'll be in a much better position to go out and solicit help and so on.”

If successful, the wheelhouse would be located on museum property at the corner of Pitt and Robinson streets, across from what Buchanan said is Canada’s oldest inland lighthouse. Organizers hope to officially launch the wheelhouse as an attraction on July 1, which is also the 175th anniversary of the completion of the lighthouse.

The historical society has been trying to bring a similar attraction to Port Burwell since at least the mid-1990s, when it arranged to buy the wheelhouse of a larger freighter, the Henry Steinbrenner.

When workers were cutting the wheelhouse off the ship there was slag left from the cutting torches, Buchanan said.

“The wind came up in the middle of the night, fanning it into flames, and it burned that wheelhouse before they got it off the ship,” he said.

The historical society has raised about $3,000 toward moving and refurbishing the Fernglen’s wheelhouse and plans to name it the George Barnes Memorial Wheelhouse. The group also has an agreement in principle with Bayham council to place the wheelhouse on museum property, subject to code regulations, Buchanan said.

“It's not going to be cheap,” he said. “But hopefully we can handle it.”

St. Thomas Times Journal


64th annual Mariner's Sunday this weekend in Superior

2/25 - Superior, Wis. – On Sunday, Pilgrim Lutheran Church in Superior, Wis., will hold its 64th Annual Mariner's at 10 a.m. This worship service recognizes and honors all the people involved with working on the Great Lakes: sailors, and just as much, if not more, their families who stay behind, as well as people working in ports loading and unloading cargo, and people whose work supports and supplies the maritime industry. If you or your loved ones work on or for the boats, or if you are simply interested in shipping, you are welcome to attend. The church is at 820 Belknap Street, Superior, next to UW-Superior.

Will Mowchan


Lookback #465 – The former Jose Marti sank in the Indian Ocean on Feb. 25, 2007

2/25 - Jose Marti was built in Denmark and launched on March 4, 1977. It was completed in September for Cuban interests and was sent through the Seaway before the first year was out. The 489 foot, 2 inch long by 68 foot, 7 inch wide cargo ship could carry 13,021 tons of cargo.

Jose Marti was sold within Cuba in 1990 and renamed b) Taino. It was back through the Seaway on April 12, 1991, carrying sugar to Toronto.

In 1996 the ship was registered in Belize as c) Agate Islands and became d) Agate Spirit in 2004 and e) Agate Islands again in 2006.

After 30 years of trading, the vessel was sold for scrapping in India and was under tow, likely for Alang, of the tug Rig Deliverer. The were about 75 miles east of Durban, South Africa, when the vessel was overwhelmed by the sea eight years ago today and sank on the Indian Ocean in position 29.55 S by 32.25 E.

Skip Gillham


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.


Coast guard escorts continue

2/24 - The Arthur M. Ander reached Detroit Monday morning docking at Nicholson Terminal below the Ambassador Bridge. They will remain at the dock until convoy can be arranged to Sturgeon Bay, Wis.

The Canadian Coast Guard Ship Samuel Risley stopped for a few hours after escorting the Anderson to Detroit. Risley got underway at 8:30 a.m. working track maintenance on Lake St. Clair before picking up the Algoma Hansen for escort from Windsor to Sarnia.

The Griffon spent the day escorting the Algosea across Lake Erie.


South Haven lighthouse campaign seeks $300K to restore iconic structure on Lake Michigan pier

2/24 - South Haven, MI - South Haven's iconic lighthouse is in need of some major attention -- about $300,000 worth.

The red, 37-foot-tall lighthouse that has served as a beacon to mariners and tourists for more than a century can be found on banners and signs throughout South Haven, unquestionably the Lake Michigan resort community's most recognizable image.

"If you go on the internet and search for the South Haven lighthouse, you'll literally find millions of pictures," said Ed Appleyard, treasurer of the Historical Association of South Haven. "If we could capture a dollar for every picture that had been taken, we could easily fund the restoration project."

The historical association, which in 2012 took ownership of the South Haven South Pierhead Lighthouse from the Coast Guard, is kicking off a campaign to raise $300,000 to repair and renovate the structure on the pier that channels the Black River into Lake Michigan.

Corrosion threatens the base, seams, windows and stairs of the lighthouse. The cast iron structure has extensive corrosion under the plaster and wood lathe on the second and third floors, according to Appleyard.

The lighthouse also has peeling, lead-based paint that must be removed, as well as asbestos that will require encapsulating the structure during the abatement and restoration process.

The lighthouse was built in 1903 and the lantern portion that contains the light is believed to have come from the original lighthouse that was built in 1872.

With its importance to South Haven and the nostalgia attached to the lighthouse, the historical association hopes the community will help ensure it is preserved for many generations to come.

"When we were kids you took swimming lessons off the pier," Appleyard said of just one nugget of history related to the lighthouse. "People find that remarkable today, but there was no pool locally and swimming lessons were right next to the lighthouse."

A Lighthouse Campaign Preview event, open to the public, is scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 26 at the historical association's museum at 355 Hubbard St., with appetizers and drinks served starting at 5:30 p.m.

More information on the lighthouse and the fundraising campaign can be found on the Historical Association of South Haven website,



Lookback #464 – Former Framptondyke in a collision Feb. 24, 1976, and sank the next day

The small British freighter Framptondyke came up the St. Lawrence as far as Montreal in 1968 and entered the Seaway the following year.

The 281-foot, 6-inch long vessel was built at Goole, England, and launched for the Klondyke Shipping Co. Ltd. on June 11, 1964. It was registered at 1,599 gross tons and able to transport 2,650 tons in the two cargo holds.

Framptondyke was sold to Stephenson Clarke Shipping Ltd. in 1975 and renamed b) Wittering. It was operating on the English Channel and on a voyage from Rotterdam, Holland, to Cork, Ireland, with a cargo of wheat, when it collided with the Odin about two miles northeast of the Royal Sovereign Light Tower and about 11.5 miles off Beachy Head. The accident occurred on Feb. 24, 1976.

Wittering was heavily damaged and sank the following day. All on board were rescued but the ship was lost to the bottom of the sea.

There are many ships that have sailed as Odin over the years but none have come to the Great Lakes. The Odin involved in the accident of 39 years ago today, was an even smaller, year old, 263-foot, 9-inch long, West German cargo ship. It survived the accident and put in many more years of service before being scrapped at Liepaja, Latvia, as d) Anund in 2011.

Skip Gillham


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.


Anderson nears Detroit River

2/23 - Lake Erie - The Arthur M. Anderson, under escort of the Canadian Coast ship Samuel Risley, made steady progress Sunday crossing Lake Erie and will reach the Detroit River early Monday morning. The The Algosea departed Nanticoke Sunday evening for Sarnia. The CCGS Griffon will escort the tanker across Lake Erie.


Ice stops ferry service in Toronto Harbor

2/23 - Toronto, Ont. - This winter's polar vortex was a couple of months late in arriving but it made up for lost time by bringing in sub zero Fahrenheit freezing temperatures and icy winds. This caused a dramatic increase in harbor ice thickness. Early in the week the Ongiara got stuck a couple of times in heavy ice and had to be broken out by the fire boat. Friday the Ongiara was pulled out of service with an ice damaged propeller. The inhabitants of Ward Island now have to use the Billy Bishop Airport ferry to get to the mainland. This requires a bus trip from Wards Island west to Hanlans Point and the airport perimeter. The bus has to wait for an escort vehicle across the airfield and once across there is a further wait for space on the airport ferry. A one way trip can take close to two hours and the bus only runs every two hours.

Jens Juhl


Lakes Pilots Association Seeking New Pilots

Lakes Pilots Association, based in Port Huron, MI., is seeking applications from those interested in employment as a U.S. Registered Pilot on foreign vessels in District 2 of the Great Lakes. Lakes Pilots provides pilotage service in all the waters and ports from Port Huron, MI to Buffalo, NY, excluding the Welland Canal. Applicants must hold a U.S. Master, Mate or Pilot license with at least 24 months licensed service or comparable experience on vessels or integrated tugs and tows, of 4,000 gross tons, or over, operating on the Great Lakes or Oceans. Those applicants qualifying with ocean service must have obtained at least six months of licensed service or comparable experience on the Great Lakes. A complete list of requirements may be found in CFR Title 46, Shipping, Part 401, Subpart B. Anyone interested must first apply to the Director of Great Lakes Pilotage in Washington, D.C. to determine eligibility. Please contact Lakes Pilots for more information at (810) 941-5152

Applications and Information can be obtained on the web at: this link

Lakes Pilots Association
P.O. Box 610902
Port Huron, MI 48061
(810) 941-5152

Director of Great Lakes Pilotage
US Coast Guard
2100 2nd St SW
Washington, D.C. 20593-7580
(202) 372-1537


Lookback #463 – Algorail caught fire in a stern cabin during lay-up on Feb. 23, 1985

The self-unloader Algorail sustained about $15,000 in damage from a fire that broke out in a stern cabin while the ship was tied up at Point Edward on Feb. 23, 1985. The damage from the blaze of 30 years ago today was soon cleaned up and repaired, allowing the ship to return to service in the spring.

Algorail was built at Collingwood as Hull 189 and launched on Dec. 19, 1967. It entered service on April 4, 1968, and has been an excellent carrier for what is now the Algoma Central Corp. fleet based in St. Catharines, Ont.

Never among the Great Lakes giants, the 640-foot, 5-inch long Algorail is able to service smaller ports and deliver lesser amounts of cargo than what would be profitable in the large lakers. It was one of the first on the lakes to be fitted with a stern thruster, installed in 1988.

On two occasions the boom has buckled while unloading salt. The first time was at Duluth on Aug. 21, 1997, while more recently, on Nov. 6, 2014, it happened at Parry Sound. Swinging the massive boom over the side to discharge the cargo puts severe stress on the equipment and it is not unusual for the occasional breakdown. Fortunately no one was hurt in either incident.

Algorail continues to serve in the Algoma fleet and is spending the current winter undergoing routine work at the shipyard in Toledo. She should be back to work in a matter of weeks.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  February 23

News Photo Gallery
Lay-up list updated


Today in Great Lakes History -  February 23

January 23 - The CELTIC (wooden schooner-barge, 190 foot, 716 gross tons, built 1890, at W. Bay City, Michigan) broke away from the steamer H.E. RUNNELS during a fierce gale on Lake Huron on 29 November 1902, and was lost with all hands. No wreckage was found until 23 January 1903, when a yawl and the captain‚s desk with the ship‚s papers was found on Boom Point, southeast of Cockburn Island.

GEORGE A. STINSON struck a wall of the Poe Lock at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan on January 23, 1979. The damage was estimated at $200,000.

The rail car ferry GRAND HAVEN sailed on her first trip as a roll on/roll off carrier from Port Burwell on January 23, 1965, loaded with 125 tons of coiled steel bound for Cleveland and Walton Hills, Ohio.

1983: The Greek freighter CAPTAIN M. LYRAS visited the Seaway in 1960 and 1961 and returned as b) ANGELIKI L. in 1965. It arrived at Gadani Beach on this date as c) ANAMARIA for scrapping.

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


Icebreakers reach Anderson

2/22 - Noon update - The CCGS Samuel Risley and Anderson are underway off Ashtabula. Ice conditions remain difficult and the Anderson has become stopped at times. The CCGS Griffon is off Long Point and should be turning for Nanticoke shortly after 1 p.m. Algocanada is located in the channel leading to Naticoke while fleetmate Algosea is docked in port.

New Photos added to the News Gallery

10 a.m. update - Sunday morning the Risley and Anderson remain stopped about 7 miles North West of Conneaut while the Griffon is en route to Nanticoke to escort the Algosea to the Detroit River.

The USCG Bristol Bay has departed Cleveland heading for Detroit and scheduled maintenance period. The USCG Neah Bay is expected to return to icebreaking service Monday after completing a planned maintenance period in Cleveland.

Original report - After waiting to move since Tuesday, the Arthur M. Anderson was underway behind the Canadian Coast Guard Ship Griffon Saturday night leaving the ice fields off Conneaut behind. They met up with the Samuel Risley and stopped about 7 miles North West of Conneaut. It is unknown if the vessel are stopped for the night or some kind of repairs.

The Samuel Risley will escort the Anderson to the Detroit area, which could take about 24 hours depending on the ice conditions. The Griffon will head to Nanticoke, Ontario for more icebreaking activity to assist commercial shipping.

The Griffon assisted U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Bristol Bay Friday when the Bristol Bay was attempting to enter Ashtabula, due to extreme ridging at the entrance, Griffon proceeded with Bristol Bay to Cleveland to ensure their safe arrival. The U.S. and Canada have a strong ice-breaking partnership and this winter both Coast Guards have been working tirelessly under very challenging conditions, to assist commercial ships through the heavy ice on the Great Lakes and connecting waterways.

BoatNerd, Canadian Coast Guard


Ice breaking activities in Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal

2/22 - Arthur M Anderson is expected to transit the Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal 23 - 26 February. The vessel will enter the Ship Canal from Lake Michigan on its way to Bay Ship Building at Sturgeon Bay, WI.



Bridge crane collapse at Superior industrial site

2/22 - A massive, century-old bridge crane being prepared for demolition collapsed prematurely Thursday at an industrial site in Superior, sending two workers to the hospital.

The accident happened at the Graymont lime plant, on the waterfront near U.S. Highways 2 and 53, at about 3:45 p.m. as two demolition workers were up on the crane preparing stress points to ensure it collapsed properly, said Superior Deputy Police Chief Matt Markon. The crane was set to be demolished on Sunday.

The workers had just cut a copper bus bar, part of the electrical service to the crane, when the structure collapsed, authorities said.

Superior Fire Chief Steve Panger said firefighters rescued one worker who was dangling from a lift by his safety harness. A second man who had been up on a separate lift was already on the ground by the time firefighters arrived. Markon said the man fell an estimated 75 feet when the bridge collapsed.

Both men were conscious and walking around, Panger said, and they were taken to St. Luke’s hospital for evaluation.

“We don’t know the extent of their injuries,” Panger said.

Graymont’s website says the Superior plant brings in limestone by freighter, from quarries in Michigan, and processes it several kinds of calcined lime products, as well as finely ground limestone. The bridge crane had been used to pick up raw material on the site and transport it to be processed in kilns. The bridge crane was more than 100 years old.

Duluth News Tribune


Lookback #462 – H.M.C.S. Trentonian torpedoed and sunk on Feb. 22, 1945

H.M.C.S. Trentonian was one of a number of naval corvettes built at Great Lakes ports for service in World War Two. This ship was a product of the Kingston Shipbuilding Co. and it was launched at Kingston on Sept. 1, 1943. It was commissioned on Dec. 1 and soon joined the Royal Canadian Navy for east coast, Atlantic and overseas service.

The 208 foot, 1 inch long fighting ship carrier 6 officers and a crew of 95 enlisted sailors. It was assigned to the Western Approach Command for escort duty out of Londonderry. It also provided escort assistance in the invasion of Europe.

H.M.C.S. Trentonian was accidentally shelled by an American destroyer on June 13, 1944, but fortunately the ammunition was a dud and struck the engineroom with little damage.

After assisting with convoys in the English Channel, the ship was hit by a torpedo from U-1004 near Falmouth, England, on Feb. 22, 1945. H.M.C.S. Trentonian sank stern first and one officer and five members of the crew were lost. This was the tenth and last corvette sunk during World War Two.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  February 22

News Photo Gallery
Lay-up list updated


Today in Great Lakes History -  February 22

On 22 February 1920, the Goodrich Line’s ALABAMA (steel propeller passenger/package freight steamer, 272 foot, 2,626 gross tons, built in 1909, at Manitowoc, Wisconsin) ran aground on a concrete obstruction which was the foundation of the old water-intake crib in Lake Michigan off Belmont Avenue, Chicago, Illinois. The SIDNEY O. NEFF (wooden package freighter, 149 foot, 346 gross tons, built in 1890, at Manitowoc, Wisconsin) took off the ALABAMA’s cargo and then harbor tugs pulled the ALABAMA free. Repairs to her hull took the rest of the winter and she didn’t return to service until May 1920.

February 22, 1925 - The ANN ARBOR NO 7 made her maiden voyage. On 22 February 1878, the 156 foot wooden freighter ROBERT HOLLAND was purchased by Beatty & Co. of Sarnia for $20,000.

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.


Anderson on the move

2/21 - Lake Erie - 8:30 p.m. update - After days waiting the Arthur M. Anderson is underway behind the Canadian Coast Guard Ship Griffon leaving the ice fields off Conneaut behind. They will meet up with the Samuel Risley who is about 12 miles to the west.

5:30 p.m. update - The Griffon created a track north of the Arthur M Anderson and was breaking out around the vessel by 4:30 p.m. The Samuel Risley is about 30 miles to the north west and should arrive this evening. Both Coast Guard ships will work on freeing the Anderson and hope to see the Anderson underway Sunday morning.

Once the Anderson is freed, the Samuel Risley will escort the Anderson to the Detroit area, which could take about 24 hours depending on the ice conditions. The Griffon will head to Nanticoke, Ontario for more icebreaking activity to assist commercial shipping.

The Canadian Coast Guard Ship Griffon assisted U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Bristol Bay yesterday when the Bristol Bay was attempting to enter Ashtabula, due to extreme ridging at the entrance, Griffon proceeded with Bristol Bay to Cleveland to ensure their safe arrival. The U.S. and Canada have a strong ice-breaking partnership and this winter both Coast Guards have been working tirelessly under very challenging conditions, to assist commercial ships through the heavy ice on the Great Lakes and connecting waterways.

Canadian Coast Guard

8 a.m. update - The USCG Bristol Bay arrived in Cleveland about 12:30 a.m. and tied up for fuel and supplies. She is expected to depart Cleveland and return to Detroit for a schedule maintenance period.

The CCGS Griffon assisted the Bristol Bay into Cleveland and departed about 12:30 heading east through the heavy ice to free the Arthur M. Anderson off Conneaut. The CCGS Samuel Risley entered Lake Erie and stopped for the night off Colchester about 2 a.m. The Risley was back underway at 6 a.m. heading for the Anderson.

The Griffon made steady progress overnight before stopping at 6 a.m. about 16 miles West of the Anderson. The Risley and Griffon are expected to free the Anderson and then escort the vessel back through Lake Erie.

Arthur M. Anderson is on the 16th day of what would normally be a two and a half day trip. Keeping in good spirits, the crew on the Anderson has changed their AIS destination to "Funny Farm."

Original Report: The Canadian Coast Guard Ship Griffon arrived off Ashtabula before noon Friday to assist the USCG Bristol Bay to Cleveland, conditions at Ashtabula were too difficult to make entry possible with the fuel available on the Bristol Bay.

The Griffon and Bristol Bay spent the day backing and ramming through the ice arriving off Cleveland about 11 p.m. By midnight the Griffon was working through the heaviest ice near the Cleveland harbor entrance.

All icebreakers are expected to return to the Arthur M. Anderson who remains stuck off Conneaut, Ohio.

Winds had shifted to the South on Friday and this should relieve some of the pressure on the southern shore of Lake Erie. After the extensive delays and severe ice conditions the Anderson will likely skip the last trip and head for lay-up in Sturgeon Bay, Wis.

The Canadian Coast Guard Ship Samuel Risley began working with the Peter R. Cresswell Friday morning making slow progress on the lower St. Clair River. The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Hollyhock arrived downbound about 2 p.m. to assist. The icebreakers worked closely alongside the Cresswell and cleared the St. Clair Cutoff Channel about 5 p.m. The escort continued across Lake St. Clair reaching the upper Detroit River at 7:45 p.m. The Hollyhock stopped for the night in the Belle Isle Anchorage to trouble shoot a systems error while the Risley assisted the Cresswell into Detroit before heading downbound for Lake Erie about 11 p.m.


81% of Great Lakes' surface area now covered in ice

2/21 - Traverse City, Mich. - For the second consecutive winter, bitter weather threatens to turn the surface of the Great Lakes into a vast, frozen plain.

Nearly 81 per cent of the lakes' surface area was covered with ice, the NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory reported Friday. That was down slightly from more than 85 per cent the previous day -- a glitch that probably happened because strong winds broke apart some ice and created open spots detected by satellites, said George Leshkevich, a physical scientist with the lab in Ann Arbor.

But with forecasts calling for frigid weather at least through the end of the month, the ice cover may keep expanding, he said. It's grown rapidly as temperatures have plunged this month, nearly doubling over the past couple of weeks.

Records show the lakes' most widespread freeze was 94.7 per cent in 1979. The ice cover topped out at 92.2 per cent last March.

Significant portions of the lakes typically froze over decades ago, Leshkevich said, but the frequency of severe winters has declined since the late 1990s.

"Two almost record-setting years back to back would be very unusual," he said.

One likely explanation for the rapid buildup this month is that 2014's freeze lasted so long -- Lake Superior wasn't completely ice-free until June -- and summer was so mild that the lakes didn't absorb much heat, he said. "So we started this season with below-water temperatures to begin with."

The ice blanket reaches across more than 90 per cent of Lakes Superior, Huron and Erie, while Lakes Michigan and Ontario are more than halfway covered.

It has produced some spectacular visual images, from ice caves along the Lake Michigan shoreline to a glacial buildup making it appear that Niagara Falls had frozen in place.

But it's a headache for the Coast Guard, whose cutters open channels for vessels hauling cargo such as heating oil and road salt.

Things will get even busier in mid-March, when the shipping season begins for the lakes' regular traffic of vessels carrying iron ore, coal, grain and other bulk cargo.

"We're probably going to be looking at situations like we had last year, where we had to put together convoys -- lots of vessels together to make it through," Coast Guard spokesman Lorne Thomas said.

CTV News


Lookback #461 – Joseph P. Burke was launched on Feb. 21, 1929

The canal-sized bulk carrier Joseph P. Burke was built by Swan Hunter & Wigham Richardson and launched at their Wallsend, England, shipyard on Feb. 21, 1929. The 259-foot-long vessel slid into the water 86 years ago today.

The ship had been ordered for the Sarnia Steamship Co. of Capt. R. Scott Misener, and the completed steamer departed for Chicago on April 9, 1929, to begin its Great Lakes service.

For the most part, this vessel had an uneventful career. It did get caught in the ice at the western end of Lake Erie on May 6, 1936, as winter was reluctant to withdraw its grip on the Great Lakes. The battle with the ice stripped the blades from the propeller of the 750 horsepower freighter.

Ownership was transferred to the Colonial Steamship Co. in 1951 and, in 1952, the ship was renamed b) R.H. Marshall. Capt. Misener liked to name his ships after loyal employees and Mr. Marshall was the assistant traffic manager for the fleet at the time.

Ownership was again transferred to Scott Misener Steamships Ltd. when the Seaway opened in 1959 but R.H. Marshall was laid up at Galops with the changing times and remained idle. It was sold to Marine Salvage for scrap in 1961 and resold to Crawford Metals of Belleville. The ship made one last trip, this under tow, to Deseronto, Ont., and broken up during 1962.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  February 21

News Photo Gallery
Lay-up list updated


Today in Great Lakes History -  February 21

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. The other rudder post was also damaged. She was holed in her bow and some of her cargo hold plating ruptured as a result of frozen ballast tanks. Even the icebreaker MACKINAW suffered damage to her port propeller shaft on the trip across frozen Lake Superior.

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

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

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


Cutters on the move, Anderson waits

150219-G-ZZ999-001.jpg (136658 bytes)
The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Bristol Bay backs down from a wall of ice as it prepares to ram the wall in efforts to clear a path into Ashtabula, Feb. 19. The Bristol Bay has encountered ice 8 to 10 feet in Lake Erie and brash ice, which is the jagged landscape, 5 to 6 feet thick. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Lt. Cmdr. John Henry)

2/20 - 7:45 p.m. - The Griffon and Bristol Bay made steady progress throughout the afternoon and were about 15 miles east of Cleveland Friday evening.

Noon update - The Griffon arrived off Ashtabula before noon, the Griffon and Bristol Bay are backing and ramming through the ice and appear to be trying to break their way West to Cleveland. Anderson remains off Conneaut.

8 a.m. update -  Friday morning the CCGS Griffon was slowly making progress toward the USCG Bristol Bay's position off Ashtabula, they are about 8 miles north and passing through the ice at 2 MPH.  The Griffon will assist the Bristol Bay into Ashtabula or Cleveland for refueling and resupply. Last night a helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station Detroit delivered food to the crew of the Bristol Bay, who report ice 8-10 feet thick in Lake Erie.

The USCG Hollyhock is expected to join the CCGS Samuel Risley in escorting the Peter R. Cresswell through the lower St. Clair River. The Risley will then head for Lake Erie. Arthur M. Anderson remains stuck off Conneaut on the 15th day of what would normally be a two and a half day trip.

Original Report - The Arthur M. Anderson and USCG Bristol Bay remained frozen in place on Lake Erie Thursday. The Canadian Coast Guard Ship Griffon was able to complete repairs Thursday evening and has been making the 20 mile trip south to assist the Bristol Bay at 2 MPH.

The Griffon will likely assist the Bristol Bay into Ashtabula to refuel and then both breakers can open Conneaut for the Anderson.

The northerly winds that have packed the ice into Lake Erie’s southern shore are expected to turn to southerly winds on Friday. The change in direction will alleviate pressure on the ice piled up outside the piers allowing easier access.

The Canadian Coast Guard Ship Samuel Risley was expected to assist on Lake Erie after escorting the Peter R. Cresswell through the lower St. Clair River. The Risley spent Thursday working to assist the Creswell and open a track on the river but by nightfall no progress had been made and the vessels were stopped off Harsens Island.

Check back for updates.

Click here to view a video of the original Mackinaw trying to break out similar conditions at Conneaut and getting stuck

John Unterwagner


Callaway sporting new paint, moved from dock

2/20 - On Wednesday afternoon the Cason J. Callaway was pulled out of the graving dock at Bay Shipbuilding. It received a 5 year inspection and a new paint job. The Selvick tugs worked most of the morning breaking ice around Bayship to make this move.

Jim Conlon


Erie shipbuilder buoyed by lots of winter work

2/20 - Self-unloading freighters, barges and a tug inhabit the dry dock and slips at Donjon Shipbuilding & Repair. Winter repair season -- January through mid-March -- is the busiest time of the year at the 44-acre Erie shipyard.  An army of welders, shipfitters, finishers and tackers is currently tackling a variety of repair, maintenance and new-build projects.

"We've never turned a ship away,'' said John Nekoloff, Donjon's subcontracts manager and director of safety and environmental compliance. "At the end of the (2014) winter work season, after we got the last of the vessels out, we barely had the dry dock cleared and we had another two vessels waiting to come in that had hull damage from ice damage,'' Nekoloff said. "We never turn anybody away.''

Winter repair work is coinciding with the ongoing construction of part of a 185,000-barrel coastal chemical and petroleum tug and barge unit. The barge, which is 580 feet in length, is being built at the Donjon facility. The tug is being constructed at the BAE Systems Southeast Shipyard in Jacksonville, Fla. Donjon officials finalized a contract in February 2014 with Seabulk Tankers Inc., which is headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to construct the barge.

"I hope this project will support our opinions and our evaluations that we have the capabilities and the desire to continue to build and support the Great Lakes maritime community through our shipyard,'' said John Witte, executive vice president of the New Jersey-based marine services provider, Donjon Marine Co. Inc. "We look forward to expanding our areas of expertise.''

Donjon Shipbuilding & Repair's employs about 270 for the winter repair season -- 200 full-time workers and 70 subcontracted workers, Nekoloff said. Shipyard employment from April through December averages about 150 to 175, Nekoloff said. About 200 workers are specifically tasked with the chemical barge build. Nekoloff said the barge project is on schedule for completion in April 2016.

"We've had to ramp up with a lot of outside subcontracted laborers and fitters,'' Nekoloff said.

Donjon Marine Co. Inc. expanded and diversified its operation with the creation of its Erie shipbuilding and repair services division in 2009.  Donjon moved into the Erie shipyard in 2010. Shipyard marine services include shipbuilding, barge construction, vessel conversion, repowering, dry docking services, repair, maintenance, steel fabrication and steel assembly.

Donjon's barge project is the first chemical petroleum carrier project the Erie shipyard has handled since it began operating in 2010. "We have gotten other requests and proposals that we're bidding on for other projects in the yard, but this is certainly the biggest and probably the most detailed one that we've ever taken on,'' Nekoloff said. A project of this magnitude "builds a reputation for Donjon,'' Nekoloff said.

"We certainly have the quality people that are here to do this job,'' he said. "We have a high degree of quality assurance, so other customers see that we hold our work to high standards. People see that and we're getting a lot more bids for work.''

Erie's harsh winter has not curtailed production. "We're used to this,'' Nekoloff said. "It's still cold, and we're still frozen in, but not as extreme as it was last year at this time.''  Donjon's first winter-repair vessel arrived in mid-January.  Nekoloff said the shipyard averages five or six ship repairs each winter season.

Donjon's chemical barge build and the 606-foot barge Pathfinder currently occupy the shipyard's 1,350-foot dry dock. Pathfinder is receiving its mandatory five-year inspection. "There is some steel work getting done to the bottom, there are some mechanical pumps and machinery repairs, and unloading belt replacement,'' Nekoloff said.

The Dorothy Ann -- the tug that connects to and pushes the Pathfinder -- is docked nearby in Presque Isle Bay. The tug is receiving minor maintenance. Donjon's west slip is occupied by the Thunder Bay, a 738-foot Canadian self-unloading freighter. The Roger Blough, an 858-foot self-unloading American freighter, is docked in Donjon's east slip, and is undergoing steel work. The 1,000-foot Presque Isle, an American freighter, is in the main channel. The vessel is undergoing side hull replacement.

"There's no holdups with winter work,'' Nekoloff said. "We're still on schedule to get the vessels out of the dock on time.''

No additional vessels are due in at Donjon this winter, Nekoloff said.  "Short term, the winter repair season is keeping a lot of guys employed here,'' Nekoloff said. "The owners are still looking forward to a productive future.  "We have a lot of bids and a lot of companies coming to us for new construction, repairs and conversion,'' he said. "We have a good reputation and I think we're going to be around for a long time.''


Cliffs CEO: Foreign steel imports are threat to Minnesota mining

2/20 - Virginia - The biggest threat to Minnesota's taconite industry isn't the global glut of iron ore mined in other nations but rather the vast amount of foreign steel that's being imported to build Amercian projects.

That was the warning Monday from Lourenco Goncalves, president and CEO of Cliffs Natural Resources, the largest taconite iron ore producer in the U.S.

Goncalves said no foreign iron ore producer can get their product to U.S. steel mills as efficiently as U.S. producers in Minnesota and Michigan. But the U.S. imported 23 percent of its finished steel in 2013, 28 percent in 2014 "and that number hit 33 percent in January,'' Goncalves told Iron Range business and political leaders Monday.

"The biggest issue we have in this country is imports," Goncalves said at the company's annual mining breakfast to update the region on Cliffs' problems and prospects at its three Minnesota operations.

Goncalves said America is experiencing a relatively booming economy — including automobile manufacturing and construction — but that too many of the new projects are being built with foreign steel that is made from iron ore from Australia or Brazil, not Minnesota.

Demand for steel in the U.S. is up, but taconite and domestic steel production is flat because of the glut of imports.

"We are not enjoying this growth," Goncalves said, adding that while the U.S, has imposed sanctions on specific nations' steel imports, the problem continues to shift to different countries.

Steel mills in the U.S. currently are operating at about 75 percent of their capacity.

U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan, D- Minn., who attended Goncalves' talk, said the problem is "so-called free trade agreements" that don't account for fair wages or equal regulations, such as environmental protection.

The U.S. has imposed some sanctions on some kinds of steel from a few countries "but the problem when we try to protect our industry one at a time, like steel, is that it takes years to get through the system and, by then, the damage is done," Nolan told the News Tribune.

Nolan said he is stepping up efforts to block the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement because he fears it will lead to more below-cost imports from nations that subsidize their industry or offer substandard wages to workers.

"These trade agreements, like the North American agreement, create jobs all right. The problem is that none of them are in the U.S. They end up costing us hundreds of thousands of jobs and the loss of our middle class," Nolan said.

Nolan said he's part of a congressional working group that meets weekly to plot strategy to block the Pacific agreement which is favored by President Barack Obama and others.

Goncalves, speaking at his first public event in Minnesota since taking over the company last summer, said he will tour all three Cliffs operations in Minnesota this week — Hibbing Taconite, United Taconite and Northshore Mining — as well as its two operations in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, Empire and Tilden

In other news:

* Goncalves said the company is considering three different directly reduced iron projects. He said Cliffs will almost certainly invest in a Minnesota taconite plant, likely Northshore in Silver Bay, to produce a new kind of taconite pellet that can be used to make directly reduced iron. Goncalves said he expects an announcement within months with a partner that will build a facility in Ohio, adjacent to a steel mill, that will use Cliffs' DRI-ready pellets to feed electric arc mini mills.

"I've been receiving offers," from companies willing to build the Ohio facility, Goncalves said. He said the cost to upgrade Northshore would be relatively cheap, far less than building a new plant. The new type of pellet would add jobs and many years to the life of the facility, he said.

Small-scale tests at the Silver Bay plant in recent years said the local ore works well to make DRI pellets.

Currently, all Minnesota taconite iron ore must be used in traditional blast furnaces. But electric arc mills now account for 60 percent of all steel produced in the U.S., and Iron Range officials for years have wanted inroads into that growing market.

* Goncalves predicted amicable talks with the U.S. Steelworkers this year as the company's current labor agreement with the USW runs out. He said he has excellent relations with national and regional USW leaders and that Cliffs workers understand that they must help him cut costs to keep the company viable.

"The problem needs to be solved in the family, together," Goncalves said. He declined to address any specific concessions he might ask for. Cliffs has some 1,850 employees at the three Minnesota plants, with a payroll of more than $250 million annually.

* The frank-speaking CEO, a native of Brazil who has headed several steelmaking companies, repeated his disdain for the state's proposed loan extension for Essar Steel Minnesota, the India-based company building an all-new taconite plant in Nashwauk. Goncalves said Essar should repay the $67 million state loan on time, this year, and not ask for a legislative extension that's now being considered.

Goncalves said the U.S. steel and iron ore industries are at nearly perfect supply and demand balance right now. He said Essar's proposed production isn't needed and will simply create an oversupply of ore. If that happens, local mining communities on the Iron Range "will pay the price" as existing operations close, Goncalves said.

* Goncalves said he has his company on the right track to become a U.S.-only, iron ore-only mining company after selling off coal operations and shutting Canadian mines. He said the company will sell its remaining coal mines and let its Australian iron ore operation run out of ore and quietly close in a few years, leaving only Minnesota and Michigan taconite mines.

He said his biggest corporate hurdle now is raising the value of Cliffs' stock, which fell from $100 per share in 2011 to just $6 in January. It sat at $7 Monday. Ironically, Goncalves said. Cliffs was teetering on the brink of disaster from unsustainable growth in 2011 when its stock price was highest. Now, as the company becomes leaner and more nimble and poised for success, Cliffs' stock is stuck in the basement.

* Goncalves politely declined an offer to move his newly Minnesota-focused company to Minnesota, saying it would remain in Cleveland for the time being. "We'll help you move those corporate offices'' to St. Louis County, said Keith Nelson, a St. Louis County commissioner.

Duluth News Tribune


Lake Superior Marine Museum Association Seeks Volunteers for the Annual Spring Cleaning Day at the Lake Superior Maritime Visitor

2/20 - Duluth, Minn. - The Lake Superior Marine Museum Association, in conjunction with the Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center, will host its annual Spring Cleaning Day on Wednesday, March 18 at the Visitor Center in historic Canal Park in Duluth, MN.

Volunteers are needed from 10 am to 3 pm to dust, update various displays and exhibits, polish brass, make sure electronic equipment is in working order and assist Park Rangers with any special projects. A complimentary lunch will be provided. If you can volunteer to help, please contact LSMMA at 218-727-2497 or email


Lookback #460 – The first Algoway was launched on Feb. 20, 1903

The first Algoway sailed in the Algoma fleet from 1940 through the end of the 1963 season. It was sold for scrap in 1964 and was upbound at Sault Ste. Marie, under tow of the tug Helen Hindman, on July 2, that year headed for dismantling at Fort William, ON.

The 376-foot-long bulk carrier was built as G. Watson French and launched 112 years ago today at West Bay City, Mich. The ship joined the French Transportation Co. in the spring and continued to sail under this name after joining the Republic Transportation Co. in 1911.

On April 20, 1909, late by our standards, the G. Watson French opened the navigation season at the Soo Locks. The ship was also in the news on July 27, 1912, due to a collision that almost sank the Mataafa in Lake St. Clair.

G. Watson French became part of the Boland & Cornelius fleet in 1923 and the name was changed to Henry P. Werner in 1924. It became c) John J. Boland (ii) in 1937 and was sailing as such when it was sold to the Algoma Central Railway in 1940.

Moving to Canadian registry as d) Algoway, the ship carried considerable grain but is also on record for loading the first shipment of taconite ore at the beautiful Manitoulin Island community of Little Current on May 23, 1959

Skip Gillham


Updates -  February 20

News Photo Gallery
Lay-up list updated


Today in Great Lakes History -  February 20

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

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

On 20 February 1903, the straight-deck steamer G. WATSON FRENCH (steel propeller, 376 foot, 3,785 gross tons) was launched at W. Bay City, Michigan by West Bay City Ship Building Co. (Hull#608). She lasted until 1964, when she was scrapped by Lakehead Scrap Metal Co. at Fort William, Ontario. The other names she had during her career were b.) HENRY P. WERNER in 1924, c.) JOHN J. BOLAND in 1937, and d.) ALGOWAY in 1947.

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.


Anderson and escort stopped in ice, fourteen day ordeal continues

2/19 - Lake Erie - 8 a.m. update. - As temperatures reached -10 F overnight little has changed in the status of the few remaining vessels operating in the heavy ice. The Canadian Coast Guard Ship Samuel Risley resumed escort of the Peter R. Cresswell in the lower St. Clair River. Once the Cresswell reaches Detroit the Risley will continue downbound to assist the USCG Bristol Bay into Ashtabula where the Bristol Bay will take on fuel and supplies. CCGS Griffon continues making shaft repairs about 20 miles north of Ashtabula and will resume its trip to assist the Bristol Bay once repairs are complete.

Ice reports from central Lake Erie today show the difficult conditions: covered plate ice at 1 to 2 feet and brash ice fields at 3 to 5 feet, gale force winds are putting extreme pressure on ice. Outside of Ashtabula Harbor there is plate ice 1 - 2 feet thick with brash fields at 5 - 6 feet deep. From Ashtabula to Conneaut there is snow covered plate ice at 1 to 2 feet thick with brash fields at 5 to 6 feet with "endless" pressure ridges caused by the wind piling ice on top of itself.

Original Report
The Arthur M. Anderson’s late season frustrations continued Wednesday as she remained stopped in ice about 4 miles off Conneaut, Ohio. The Anderson, under escort of the USCG Bristol Bay, has spent the week battling the heavy ice off Lake Erie’s southern shore.

The Anderson is on a late season trip to Conneaut, Ohio to load for Gary, Indiana. The trip began late on February 5 when they departed Indiana and have been stuck in ice on and off throughout the voyage causing delays to what would normally be a 2 day trip.

The pair arrived off Fairport Harbor, Ohio Sunday afternoon and made progress at times measured in feet. By Tuesday the pair had made it about 40 miles.

At 11:30 a.m. Tuesday the USCG Bristol Bay broke off from the Anderson and headed west to try to break out Ashtabula. The efforts continued with minimal progress until the cutter stopping about a half mile off the Ashtabula break walls at 7 p.m. They remained in this spot all day Wednesday.

The Canadian Coast Guard Ship Griffon departed Nanticoke on a course to assist but stopped mid lake about 20 miles to the north at 9 a.m. Wednesday to make shaft repairs.  The Canadian Coast Guard Ship Samuel Risley was downbound escorting the Peter R. Cresswell in the lower St. Clair River Wednesday night.

Check back for updates.

Click here to view a video of the original Mackinaw trying to break out similar conditions at Conneaut and getting stuck


Arctic blast builds ice, beats last year’s totals

2/19 - The recent arctic blasts have caused the ice cover on the Great Lakes to increase rapidly. As of Tuesday, Feb. 17, the amount of ice on the Great Lakes is more than the same date last year.

The total ice cover on the Great Lakes is now rated at 82.3 percent as of Tuesday. On the same date last year, the Great Lakes had 81.6 percent total ice cover.

The Great Lakes ice cover has grown over 5 percent in the past 24 hours. That's about 4,750 square miles of ice overnight. At that pace of ice growth, the Great Lakes would be almost totally iced over in the next four days.

The blast of arctic cold tonight through Friday will certainly help ice continue to grow.

The cold will come with a 10 mph to 20 mph wind, which could temporarily break up and reduce some ice. But the light wind days in the next 10 days also look very cold.

Here's how each lake stacks up against last year at this time:
Lake Superior 88.8% now - 90.9% last Feb. 17
Lake Michigan 56.9% now - 65.1% last Feb. 17
Lake Huron 91.9% now - 92.7% last Feb. 17
Lake Erie 95.5% now - 95.0% last Feb. 17
Lake Ontario 78.5% now - 31.5% last Feb. 17

Notice the big surge in ice amount on Lake Ontario, which has over double the amount of ice from last year.

The average temperature for the northern lower peninsula of Michigan for January is 17.2° and February 18.4°. So far this year January was 10.6° and February is 4.4°, for a whopping 7.5° average temperature for 2015.

Mark Torregrossa, MLive and NWS Gaylord Michigan


Opening of the 2015 Navigation Season

2/19 - The opening of the 2015 navigation season is scheduled to take place on the following dates and times:
Soo Locks will open March 25
Montreal / Lake Ontario March 27  – 8 a.m.
Welland Canal March 27  - 8 a.m.
Vessel transits will be subject to weather and ice conditions. Restrictions may apply in some areas until lighted navigation aids have been installed.


Lookback #459 – Former Jalazad cleared Bombay on its last trip on Feb. 19, 1981

It was 34 years ago today that the freighter Jyoti Vinod departed Bombay, India, on its last trip. On board was a cargo of jute, general freight and some buses.

A former Seaway trader as Jalazad, the ship was improperly loaded making the vessel difficult to handle. It was delayed at Djibouti, then Dar Es Salem, where it took 24 days to unload 200 tons, then at Mauritius, before spending four months at Luanda, Angola.

Jyoti Vinod arrived at Tema, Ghana, on Dec. 23, 1981, and laid up. The ship was essentially abandoned there for almost two years before local officials arranged for the vessel to be taken out into the Atlantic off Tema and scuttled.

As Jalazad, this ship had been built at Lubeck, West Germany, in 1955 and sailed on deep sea routes until becoming a Seaway caller for the Scindia Steam Navigation Co. in 1969.

It did have an earlier Great Lakes connection as it collided with, and sank, the Swiss freighter Nyon, in heavy fog on the English Channel, five miles off Beachy Head on June 15, 1962. The latter, en route from Antwerp to Montreal, had made three prior trips to the Great Lakes and had been previously rebuilt with a new bow after it broke in two while aground off Scotland, on Nov. 20, 1958.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  February 19

News Photo Gallery
Lay-up list updated


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.


Great Lakes ice growing rapidly; Lake Michigan ice nearly doubles in 1 week

2/18 - The recent cold is making the Great Lakes ice cover grow rapidly. All of the Great Lakes have seen the amount of ice grow in the past week, but Lake Michigan's ice cover has almost doubled in the last seven days.

The amount of ice currently is still behind last winter at this time, but is catching up quickly.

The entire Great Lakes now are 70 percent covered in ice, according to the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory. This compares to 47 percent a week ago, and 81 percent last winter at this time.

Lake Superior has 74 percent ice, and was only 42 percent covered just seven days ago. Last year Lake Superior was 91 percent covered with ice.

Lake Michigan has seen the greatest ice growth. The ice on Lake Michigan has gone up 88 percent since last week and now ice covers just over half of Lake Michigan. This currently still is much less than last year, when 81 percent of Lake Michigan was covered with ice.

Lake Huron's satellite image impresses me the most. It looks like the whole lake is starting to ice up. Officially Lake Huron has 79 percent ice. One week ago is was 62 percent ice. However, last year Lake Huron had 91 percent ice cover.

So the ice around Michigan's Great Lakes is expanding rapidly. The ice will continue to grow this week, with the polar vortex bringing another shot of record cold.

Iice cover catch up to last year. One reason is it looks like a light wind pattern starting midday Friday that may last for a few days.

Mark Torregrossa , MLive


Ferry carrying 230 passengers freed from ice in Quebec

2/18 - An icebound ferry near Matane, Quebec, was freed Sunday after being trapped for hours several kilometres from the coast.

The Camille-Marcoux ferry, which runs between Matane and Baie-Comeau, got stuck in the ice twice this weekend.

At 3 p.m. ET Sunday the ferry became trapped and the icebreaker Terry Fox was sent to help free it. The 230 people on board had to wait until the ship resumed its trip at 7 p.m. It arrived in Baie-Comeau four hours late.

Saturday, the ship had turned back after being stuck in the ice in the Matane wharf for more than two hours.

Normally, the Camille-Marcoux makes the journey between Matane and Baie-Comeau in 2½ hours.

Matane is located on the St. Lawrence River on the Gaspé Peninsula.

CBC News


Updates -  February 18

Lay-up list updated


Lookback #458 – Former Manchester Fame arrived at Alexandria, Egypt on Feb. 18, 1980

The arrival of the former Manchester Fame at Alexandria, Egypt, on Feb. 18, 1980 was the beginning of the end for this former Seaway trader. The ship, then known as f) Panagis K., was soon arrested on a court order and left abandoned and aground in the inner harbor.

The hull was struck there by another ship on Jan. 23, 1981, adding to its woes. Vandals eventually took all useful and moveable parts and, on Oct. 12, 1985, what remained was auctioned off for scrap.

The ship had been built for Seaway service and completed by Austin & Pickersgill at Sunderland, England, in October 1959. The 378-foot, 2-inch-long general cargo carrier began Great Lakes service late in the year and was back for three more trips in 1960.

The vessel was chartered to the Cairn Line in 1965-1966 and made another seven voyages to the Great Lakes as b) Cairnglen before becoming c) Manchester Fame again in 1967.

It was sold and renamed d) Ilkon Niki in 1970 and was back on the lakes as such in 1972. Another sale in 1979 led to a rename of e) Efi while it joined Seatime Shipping Inc. as f) Panagis K. in 1980. The vessel operated successfully on their behalf for a number of years but it all began to unravel 35 years ago today on arrival at Alexandria, Egypt.

Skip Gillham


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: 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.


The cold snap puts a freeze on Grand Traverse Bay

2/17 - Traverse City - Grand Traverse Bay is officially frozen over for the second year in a row.

The Watershed Center made the announcement Monday. The Grand Traverse Bay is considered frozen over when it is covered with ice to Power Island for at least 24 hours.

Last year the bay was declared frozen on February 3 and stayed frozen for 80 days. The last time ice covered the bay for that amount of time was in 1926.

This year's freeze is only the second time Grand Traverse Bay has frozen over since March 2009. It's the seventh time it's frozen over since 1990, according to Executive Director Christine Crissman. The last time the Bay frozen two years in a row was 1993 and 1994.

"Back in the early 1900's the Bay consistently froze, and until 1987 it froze pretty regularly," said Crissman.

The strong storm from the north over the weekend and subzero temperatures were the biggest contributors to the freeze.

One of the benefits of having ice cover is that it reduces evaporation, which is the main driver of water loss in the Great Lakes.

"Ice's main effects can be seen the following fall," explained Grand Traverse Baykeeper John Nelson. "High evaporation rates are driven by a large temperature difference between water and air, low relative humidity and high wind speeds. With the Bay freezing over, we'll likely have cooler water through the spring and summer and less evaporation next fall."

Since the evaporation cycle is broken, it may also mean less lake effect snow and more frequent glimpses of the sun.

Always use caution when you venture out on the ice. Officials warn to check ice thickness before attempting to walk on it.



More Seaway saltie renames and scrappings

2/17 - The following saltwater vessels have been renamed with each having made at least one visit in their history to the Great Lakes/Seaway system..

Among the renames are the Aggersborg which came inland in 2012 for its first and only visit is now the Kherrata of Algeria.

The tanker Clipper Lancer which first came inland in 2007 and recently visited during the 2014 shipping season is now the Rose of Sharon of Bahamas registry.

Hans Lehmann which came inland in 2008 for its first and only visit is now the Arianna of Malta registry.

Maineborg a former Wagenborg vessel which first came inland in 2001 and last visited in 2011 is now the Arctica 1 of Belize registry.

Eylul K which first came inland in 2011 and last visited in 2013 is now the Don Juan of Portugal.

BBC Shanghai which first visited in 2005 is now the Island Trader of Antigua/Barbuda registry.

The tanker Nordic Copenhagen which first came inland in 2010 and last visited in 2013 is now the Han Gloria of Singapore registry.

Salties that have been scrapped include the Atlantic Eland which was beached at Alang, India on February 6, 2015. This vessel has had a long history of names eight to be exact before being named Atlantic Eland. The vessel however did make visits though with two of its former names. It was known however as the Krasnodon from 1990-96, Elena K from 1996-98, Res Cogitans 1998-99. It first came inland in 1999 as Thorslake and held that name from 1999-2000. The ship returned in 2001 as the Lykes Inspirer a name to which it carried from 2001-04. It was then renamed Res Cogitans once again and held that name from April to September 2004 before being renamed to the Obl Mariner. It held this name briefly in 2005 before becoming the Sinbad Dream from 2005-09. In 2009 it was renamed Atlantic Eland.

Denny Dushane


Lookback #457 – Rialto smashed by a rogue wave on Feb. 17, 1966

A massive rogue wave smashed into the British steamer Rialto during a voyage from Saint John, NB, to Aberdeen, Scotland, 49 years ago today. The wall of water rocked the ship and damaged the bridge as it swept over the vessel while it was out on the Atlantic in a position listed as 56.37 N by 18.35 W.

Rialto had been a Seaway trader since 1961. The ship was a regular visitor to the Great Lakes for Ellerman's Wilson Line Ltd. as part of the green-hulled fleet of ships that included also Bassano and Consuelo.

The 420-foot-long Rialto had been built at Newcastle, England, and completed in April 1949. It was the final Seaway transit of the 1967 season and departed the Snell Lock, Massena, N.Y., at 0632 hours on Dec. 14 which, at that time, was the latest closing date for the then eight-year-old waterway.

Rialto was sold on June 11, 1970 and registered in Cyprus as Sandra for the Tiara Steamship Co. Ltd. It was resold to Mainland Chinese shipbreakers the next year and arrived at Whampoa, from Colombo, Sri Lanka, on May 7, 1971.

Skip Gillham


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.


Lookback #456 – Former Federal Huron arrived at the scrapyard on Feb. 16, 2002

A Seaway trader under three different names arrived at the scrapping beach at Alang, India, 13 years ago today. The ship had visited the Great Lakes as b) Federal Huron, c) Huron and e) Las Bolinas.

The vessel dated from 1978 and construction at Wismar, Germany, as Fontenoy. The 579- foot-long bulk carrier briefly sailed under the flag of France before becoming Federal Huron for Federal Pacific (Liberia) Ltd. in 1979.

Federal Huron came through the Seaway in 1979 and, late in the year, went aground at Montreal on Nov. 2. The following year the vessel was sent to Japan to be lengthened but during the process the 200 foot stern section heeled over, flooding the accommodations area.

The section was righted and the work on rebuilding the hull completed in June 1980. It sailed June 29 to load new automobiles at Yokohama.

In 1982, one of its deck cranes was damaged in Australia, dismantled and removed at Cleveland, repaired at Port Colborne and reinstalled at Hamilton.

The ship became Huron in 1989 and stranded approaching Ogdensburg, N.Y., to load talc on Aug. 2, 1990 but was washed off the sandbar by the wake of a passing ship.

The ship was renamed d) Alexander's Unity in 1991, e) Las Bolinas in 1992 and came to the Great Lakes under this name in June 1997 carrying steel to Detroit. The final name f) Stavros was applied in 2000 and this is the name that the 24-year-old freighter carried when it arrived at Alang on Feb. 16, 2002.

Skip Gillham


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.


Great Lakes ice cover

2/15 - The recent cold weather has caused the Great Lakes ice cover to expand. All of the Great Lakes combined last week were covered 57.1 percent in ice. But that time last winter there was already 77.2 percent ice cover on the entire Great Lakes.

Lake Superior was 90.9 percent covered last year at this time versus 50.1 percent.
Lake Michigan had 55.2 percent ice cover and now has 36.2 percent ice.
Lake Huron was 83 percent covered on Feb. 5, 2014 and now is 61.8 percent covered.
But Lake Erie and especially Lake Ontario have some interesting points.
Lake Erie actually has more ice on it now than this time last year. It's just by a small percent, but Erie is 94.5 percent covered now versus 93.2 percent last year.
Lake Ontario has quite a bit more ice so far this year. Right now Lake Ontario is covered 30.5 percent in ice, while last year it only had 24.9 percent ice at this time.

Another interesting point is Lake Ontario's whole lake average water temperature. Currently all of Lake Ontario is .7 degrees F colder than last year.

Lake Superior's surface water temperature is also surprisingly .7 degrees F colder than last year.

Otherwise the lake temperatures are very similar or just fractions of a degree warmer than last year.

Watch the ice build next week
The Great Lakes ice should continue to grow rapidly with waves of bitterly cold arctic air over the Great Lakes Region.



Report shows ballast water regulations working

2/15 - Government regulations that prevent international ships from dumping their ballast water into North American waterways are helping to keep zebra mussels and other invasive species out of the Great Lakes, according to an annual report by the Great Lakes Seaway Ballast Water Working Group.

After a series of U.S. and Canadian regulations went into effect in 2006, ballast water rules for the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway have been among the most stringent in the world.

The 2014 report released last week showed 100 per cent compliance following inspection of ballast tanks entering the Great Lakes through the St. Lawrence Seaway and international waters.

“We have made major strides,” said Hugh MacIssac, professor at the University of Windsor’s Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research, who studies invasive species. “We have not seen any reported new invasions since 2006 by ships carrying ballast waters from overseas.

“We used to average one every nine months, but we have not had one since 2006. It’s not a panacea, but everything is largely working.”

In total, there were 8,497 ballast tanks checked last year during 454 vessel trips, according to the BWWG’s annual report.

Ships which did not exchange their ballast water or flush their tanks had to retain the water within the Great Lakes system or return to sea to conduct a ballast water exchange.

There were three letters of warning issued last year to ships found with “discrepancies” in their ballast water management reports. Had they not been corrected, the ships were to be fined. But no fines were issued, the report said.

Concern remains over lake freighters which move about within the Great Lakes, but can venture outside the waterway up the East Coast en route to Nova Scotia or other Maritime provinces and then travel back into the Great Lakes.

“Those ships really ought to be covered,” MacIssac said. “They are the last to be covered.”

But the situation may soon become even better as a proposed global agreement would see all ships required to have ballast treatment systems on board.

“(Once passed) it will take a six-year window (for enforcement) so it will still take some time,” MacIssac said.

Windsor Star


Lookback #455 – Former Albaforth aground off Yemen on Feb. 15 1986

Albaforth came through the Seaway in 1979 after sailing inland the previous year as Silverforth.

The vessel had been built at Port Glasgow, Scotland, in 1969 and first traded as Bellnes. The 521-foot, 10-inch-long bulk carrier had five cargo holds and hatches and was able to carry 20,026 tons deadweight.

Bellnes was sold to Silver Line Ltd. and renamed Silverforth in 1974. It retained British registry and came inland for the owners in 1978. It returned as c) Albaforth the next year and was subsequently sold for Turkish-flag service as d) Kaptan Yusuf Kalkavan in 1982.

The latter ship ran aground about seven miles off Saleef, Yemen, on Feb. 15, 1986, and had to be abandoned by the crew. The old freighter was successfully refloated on April 26, 1986. It eventually arrived at Suez, Egypt, under tow, and beached in Suez Bay on May 24, 1986.

The hull was sold at auction on March 2, 1987, and resold to Pakistani shipbreakers. The former lakes trader arrived at Gadani Beach, Pakistan, on June 3, 1987, and was soon broken up for scrap.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  February 15

Lay-up list updated


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.


Sarnia Harbor gamble paying off

2/14 - City councillors crossed their fingers and took a deep breath and when voting to assume ownership of Sarnia Harbor last year.

After all, operating Great Lakes shipping wharves, warehouses and water lots has been the federal government’s job, beyond the city’s normal scope of road repairs and garbage collection.

But now, 10 months in, the harbor is paying dividends.

Over the first three months it generated $126,000 in revenue from 58 berthing vessels, against $62,000 in expenses.

And the trend has continued. Year-end figures expected in April will show that Sarnia Harbor turned a profit in the six figures, said Peter Hungerford, director of economic development.

“Absolutely. There’s absolutely no doubt that we’ll end the year in the black.”

When Ottawa ‘divested’ the harbor on March 28 it also gave the city $8.56 million to cover dredging, repairs and other unforeseen expenses. Sarnia must spend that money over the next 15 to 20 years, and has decided to use it for all operations and capital improvements.

The revenue the city is now getting for providing shipping companies with berthing and hydro is going into a reserve account, building a nest-egg for when the fed money runs out, Hungerford said.

Sarnia’s newest asset has two parts. The north harbor includes the Government Wharf, Seaway Road warehouses, North Slip and the dock near Paddy Flaherty’s. The south harbor includes intermittent land and water lots on the St. Clair River between George and Devine streets.

Sarnia took the harbor, in part, because it was concerned that if it didn’t another agency, like the Hamilton Port Authority, would, placing large sections of prime waterfront land in uncertain hands.

It was also a jobs strategy. About 150 local companies provide goods and services to visiting ships and their crews, and $15 million in marine repairs each winter create 150 to 300 good-paying jobs.

In the future, with some infrastructure modifications, the harbor could also become a “heavy haul corridor,” giving the local fabricating industry access to world markets and Canada’s oil patch.

Convoys of ships are continuing to follow Coast Guard icebreakers through the St. Clair River, trying to make up lost revenue from a late start last spring.

“The harbor and ship traffic is one of the reasons Sarnia came into existence,” Hungerford said.

“The city has always had an intimate relationship with the lake and the river.”

More about Sarnia Harbor, including rates and fees, maps and a photo gallery can be found at

The Sarnia Journal


Seaway Salties Go For Scrap

2/14 - Two familiar saltwater vessels and one time former visitors and traders to the Great Lakes/Seaway system have been scrapped. Among the vessels that have been scrapped is the Zhong Chang 68 of Chinese registry. This vessel is more familiar to many as the Regina Oldendorff which was built in 1986 and was a regular inland trader. It carried the name Regina Oldendorff from 1986-2004 before being renamed Zhong Chang 68 and never visited with that name. The Clipper Concord has been scrapped. This vessel is familiar to some as the CEC Crusader a name it held from 2000-04 and also visited under. This vessel also carried and held the name CEC Concord from 2004-10.

Denny Dushane


Seaway Salties Renamed

2/14 - The following saltwater vessels have been renamed with each one having made at least one visit to the Great Lakes/Seaway system in their history.

Federal Fuji a former Fednav vessel and once a regular visitor and trader since she first came inland in 1986 has been renamed. She now sails as the Federal Adi of Belize registry.

The BBC Houston which visited as the BBC Australia and held this name from 2005-10 and also visited as the BBC Houston and carried this name from 2010-14 has been renamed. She is now the Houston and is registered in the USA.

The tanker Bomar Prelude has been renamed and now sails as the Eastern Prelude of the Marshall Islands. This vessel made visits as the Navitas Prelude and carried this name from 2003-06 and visited as the Eships Prelude and held that name from 2006-14. It also held and carried the name of Bomar Prelude from 2014 until being renamed in January 2015 but, it never came inland with that name.

The tanker Ruth Schulte has been renamed Peninsula VIII of Isle of Man registry. This vessel came inland as the Clipper Tasmania and carried this name from 2007-10. It returned as the Ruth Schulte and held that name from 2010-14.

The Arwad Princess is now the Princess Nicole of Belize registry. This vessel has had a long history with seven previous names. Four of which she made visits to the Great Lakes/Seaway system with. The vessel first visited as the Lake Shidaka and held this name from 1984-91. It was back again and visited as the Consensus Atlantic and carried this name from 1991-92. The ship returned as the Federal Matane and held that name from 1992-97. It was briefly named Matane in 1997 for short spell, later becoming the Spar Opal to which it returned with this name and held it from 1997-2009. Following a sale and rename in 2009 the vessel has remained on saltwater and carried the names of African Challenger from 2009-10, Pangorgo from 2010-12 and it also held the name of Arwad Princess.

Marmalaita is now the Thorco Conquest of Antigua/Barbuda registry. This vessel may be familiar to many as the Julietta a name she held from 2002-14 and also visited under. It had the name Marmalaita briefly in 2014, before being renamed on March 28, 2014 to the Thorco Conquest.

The Swegard has been renamed and is now the Elena of Antigua/Barbuda registry. This vessel is more familiar as the Merwedelta a name it held From 2001-07 and visited with that name. It carried the name Swegard from 2007-14 but, never came inland with this name.

Denny Dushane


Lookback #454 – Tanker Platon arrived at Shanghai for scrapping on Feb. 14, 1970

The Greek tanker Platon spent almost all of its life in saltwater trading. The ship's owners made an exception in 1969, when they sent the 523-foot-long vessel through the Seaway.

The vessel dated from 1950 and it had been built at Haverton Hill, England, as London Pride. The tanker served London & Overseas Freighters Ltd. and, while the ship did not come to the Great Lakes, the company established a presence on the inland seas with well know general cargo carriers such as London Baron, London Earl, London Fusilier and London Viscount among others.

With newer and larger deep-sea tankers being built, London Pride was sold to Mayfair Tanker Co. and registered in Greece as Platon in 1965. They sent the vessel through the Seaway in 1969 but its days were drawing to an end in the changing economic climate.

Platon was sold to Mainland Chinese shipbreakers and it arrived at Shanghai, on Feb. 14, 1970, 45 years ago today, to be broken up for scrap after only 20 years of service.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  February 14

Lay-up list updated  


Today in Great Lakes History -  February 14

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.


CSL St-Laurent arrives in Montreal

2/13 - The CSL St-Laurent the second of two new Trillium-Class Gearless Bulk Carriers built in China for Canada Steamship Lines in China at the Yangfan Shipyard has arrived in Montreal, Quebec on its maiden voyage from China. Thursday evening just after 8 p.m. the ship docked in Montreal at Section 27 for Winter Lay-up. CSL St-Laurent joins her sistership and fleetmate the CSL Welland which is also wintering in Montreal and arrived on January 2 from China and her maiden voyage.

Both vessels are expected to join the Canada Steamship Lines fleet in the Spring of 2015. With the CSL St-Laurent's arrival in Montreal, this brings a close to the new build program for Canada Steamship Lines which began in 2012 with the construction of the first of four Trillium-class self-unloading vessels for Great Lakes/Seaway service the Baie St. Paul.

Three additional Trillium-class self-unloading ships for Great Lakes/Seaway service soon followed along with three new Panamax ships all self-unloaders for CSL Americas.

Denny Dushane


Canadian and U.S. icebreakers busy escorting lake freighters

2/13 - Sarnia, Ont. – Ice is creating another challenging winter for the Great Lakes shipping company Algoma Central and its customers.

The Algosteel, a self-discharging bulk carrier in the company's fleet, was one of two ships escorted through lower Lake Huron earlier in the week by the Canadian Coast Guard ship Griffon.

"If I used one word to describe the ice in the St. Clair and Lake Huron it would be 'unpredictable’,” said Darren Pearson, acting director of vessel traffic and customer service for Algoma.

"One ship makes it all the way through without delay and the next one is stuck in the ice for days."

Canadian and U.S. coast guard ships have been active this winter, working together to move commercial ships through the ice in the St. Clair River and the lakes.

Carol Landerville, spokesperson for Fisheries and Oceans Canada, said the Canadian Coast Guard had provided 125 ship escorts throughout the Great Lakes this year, as of Wednesday.

That is the same number of trips recorded at the same time last year.

"As it is usually the case, heavy ice conditions in lower Lake Huron at this time of year warrant icebreaker assistance for ships transiting the area," she said.

As well as impacting shipping, ice on the river has interrupted passenger ferry traffic between Sombra and Marine City, Mich. The website of the Bluewater Ferry in Sombra said Thursday that it remained closed due to the ice.

Travelling from Windsor to Sarnia in open water generally takes a ship approximately five and a half hours, Landerville said.

Last weekend, the Canadian Coast Guard Ship Samuel Risley escorted the bulk carrier Captain Henry Jackman through the lower St. Clair River.

"With the heavy ice, it took about 20 hours," Landerville said.

"This season there were ships that stayed out longer to get a few more runs in, as they started later than usual," she said.

"But, those vessels are all now laid up for the winter, so it's back to a normal winter again."

According to Environment Canada, satellite images from earlier in the week showed a band of heavy ice from the entrance of the St. Clair River extending northward to approximately three nautical miles offshore.

North of that band of ice, there were heavy ice conditions in all of lower Lake Huron, with the exception of a narrow channel of lighter ice on the lake's western shoreline.

While this year is offering challenges to traffic on the lakes, it's nothing like last year when the Great Lakes froze over and stayed frozen for an extended period, delaying the start of the shipping season.

"We have about 58% ice coverage on the Great Lake compared to 87% last year," Pearson said.

That compares to the average accumulation of approximately 33% at this time of year.

"This year's accumulation is heavy, no question about that, but the biggest issue now is the wind," Pearson said.

"Any weather fluctuation bringing Northerly wind drives the ice down into Southern Lake Huron and into the St. Clair, stopping us in our tracks."

Those delays are hard for crews, customers and dock workers, since it become difficult to plan when there are such wild fluctuations in conditions, he said.

But, Pearson added the Canadian and U.S. coast guards have been providing excellent help for shippers on the lakes.

"Cargoes continue to move, re-supplying refineries and depots with much needed fuels and road safety salt," he said.

Sarnia Observer


Underwater turbine proposed for St. Clair River

2/13 - Sarnia, Ont. – Michigan-based Futures Engineering is hoping to make a splash with its latest proposed energy project.

The company has applied to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to construct a hydrokinetic power generator under the Blue Water Bridge.

The DEQ is still awaiting further information from the company before it makes a decision on the application.

A company named Vortex was recently granted approval for a similar device offshore of Dunn Paper on the St. Clair River.


Port Reports -  February 13

Detroit, Mich.
Arthur M. Anderson was downbound past the Motor City around noon Thursday.


Lookback #453 – Former Caroline S. abandoned by the crew on Feb. 13, 1987

It was 28 years ago today that the crew of the former Seaway traveler Caroline S. took to their lifeboat and abandoned the leaking ship about 720 miles east of New York City. The vessel was sailing at the time as c) Bora Isik and three crew members perished.

Originally the Artagan, this 387-foot, 6-inch-long general cargo carrier was built at Gijon, Spain, in 1972 and first sailed under the flag of that country. It was sold and registered in Cyprus as b) Caroline S. in 1979 and resold, with flag and name unchanged, in 1981. It came to the Great Lakes that year but was resold to a Turkish company in 1982.

Renamed c) Bora Isik, the ship did not return through the Seaway. It did get into trouble going aground around midnight of Jan. 21-22, 1985, while inbound at Setubal, Portugal, from Tuapse, Russia. The ship was stuck until being pulled free on Feb. 1, 1985.

After the crew left the ship on Feb. 13, 1987, it was never seen again and was presumed to have sunk.

Skip Gillham


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


Port Reports -  February 12

Green Bay, Wis. – Green Bay Press Gazette
A story about development in a recent edition said the following: “(Redevelopment) Authority members approved negotiating with Hayes Salvage of Sturgeon Bay which wants to lease open land on Ashland Avenue near Mason Street to dismantle a 600-foot Great Lakes barge.” It is unknown at this time which vessel is being considered for scrapping.

Goderich, Ont. – Denny Dushane
Frontenac arrived at Goderich, Ont., for winter layup on Wednesday morning. Unconfirmed waterfront reports say the lay up may be long term.


Ice continues to slow ship traffic

2/12 - Sarnia, Ont. – Vessel traffic continues to move at a snail’s pace through the ice in lower Lake Huron and the St. Clair River.

Canadian Coast Guard Spokesperson Carol Launderville says so far this year, they’ve provided 125 ship escorts throughout the Great Lakes.

Launderville says residents checking out conditions beneath the Blue Water Bridge may not notice much ice accumulation, due to a build up of ice in Lake Huron just north of the entrance into the St. Clair River.

The Canadian Coast Guard ships Griffon and Samuel Risley were working in Lake Huron Tuesday. Launderville says a U.S. Coast Guard cutter was also assisting vessels locally.


Great Lakes steel production plummets while exports sag

2/12 - Raw steel production plunged to 628,000 tons in the Great Lakes region last week, a steep drop after two straight weeks of increases.

U.S. steel production fell by 0.72 percent in the week that ended Saturday, according to an American Iron and Steel Institute estimate. Local production plummeted by 42,000 tons, or 6.2 percent

Most of the raw steel production in the Great Lakes region takes place in the Chicago area, chiefly Lake and Porter counties in Indiana.

Production in the Southern District, typically the nation's second-biggest steel-producing region, rose to 621,000 tons last week, down from 582,000 tons a week earlier.

Total domestic raw steel production last week was about 1.769 million tons, down from 1.782 million tons a week earlier.

Nationally, domestic steel mills had a capacity utilization rate of 74.8 percent last week, down from 75.4 percent a week earlier. The capacity utilization rate had been 75.8 percent at the same time a year earlier.

Year-to-date output was 9.8 million net tons, at a capacity utilization rate of 76.9 percent, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute. Production so far this year trails the 2014 rate by 0.3 percent.

Steel exports fell 2.6 percent in December, largely because of drops in demand from Canada and Mexico, according to the American Institute for International Steel. Exports to Canada fell 2 percent, while exports to Mexico decreased by 4.5 percent in the last month of 2014.

In a bright spot, the European Union — the third largest international market for American steel — bought 17.5 percent more metal from U.S. steelmakers than it did in December 2013. Exports to Brazil also jumped nine-fold in December.

Overall, exports declined by 5 percent last year, due to the strong U.S. dollar and the economic struggles of countries abroad.

NWI Times


Lookback #452 – Former Atlas Scan towed into Lorient, France, on Feb. 12, 2014

The heavy-lift vessel Just Mariiam, a Seaway trader as Atlas Scan beginning in 1971, was towed into Lorient, France, a year ago today. The ship had suffered a total blackout on the English Channel on Feb. 10, 2014, and the French tug Abeille Bourbon came to the rescue.

Just Mariiam was sailing under her fifth name and registered in Moldova at the time of the breakdown. It was loaded with a cargo of old cars and trucks and on a voyage to Tripoli, Lebanon.

As Atlas Scan, this ship had been built at Busum, Denmark. It was launched on Jan. 30, 1971, and completed on March 1, 1971. It came through the Seaway the first year and was back in November 1973, headed for Port Weller.

The Danish vessel was sold and renamed b) Atlantic Sprinter in 1978, c) North Armac in 1982, d) Tege in 1984 and Just Mariiam in Nov. 2013. During these years, the flag of registry moved to Cyprus, then Liberia and finally Norway before it switched to Moldova under the most recent name.

Reports from a year ago stated that the eight-member crew was not wanting to continue the voyage on the 43-year-old carrier. However, it does appear that the ship got underway again. The last note I can find is dated June 29, 2014, and has Just Mariiam in the Tyrrhenian Sea off the western coast of Italy. It was bound for Mersin, Turkey, and registry at this time was noted as Togo but nothing further.

Skip Gillham


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 1,000 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.


Lakes Michigan, Huron expected to be significantly higher than last summer

2/11 - Lake Michigan and Lake Huron are expected to continue to rise into this coming summer. The current forecast has the lake levels significantly higher this summer as compared to last summer.

Lake Michigan-Huron has risen about 34 inches since the record low levels in January 2013. The most likely forecasted water level for Lake Michigan-Huron for this coming July is 14 inches higher than last summer.

If we have very wet weather in the next six months, the forecast says Lake Michigan-Huron could be 21 inches higher than last summer. That's almost two feet higher.

If we have very dry weather in the next six months, Lake Michigan-Huron would still be about five inches higher than last summer.

If Lake Michigan-Huron continues to rise, we will be worrying about too high of water levels by this coming fall. Of course that would be the result of extreme rain conditions.


Mariners' Service Feb. 22 marks second century of remembrance

2/11 - Goderich, Ont. – The year before that, many events were held in Goderich to commemorate the centenary of the Great Storm of 1913 and remember the hundreds of lives lost (including three local men) in this terrible tragedy on our waters. One of these events was an interfaith memorial service replicating the original held at Knox Presbyterian Church shortly after the storm on Nov. 16, 1913.

A few months after that memorial service, Goderich was still reeling from grief when Knox congregation gathered for its annual “blessing of the fleet” known since 1903 as the Sailors’ and Fishermen’s Service.

The Rev. Dr. George Ross renamed it the Mariners’ Service that year to forever memorialize those who had just died in the deadliest storm ever to hit the Great Lakes.

And it wouldn’t be the last deadly storm on local waters. Just three years later, in October 1916, nine more local men lost their lives when the steamer Merida went down in a storm that killed 51 sailors and sank four ships. One of the young men who died was Roddy McDonald, brother of Donald McDonald who died aboard the Wexford during the Great Storm, and five of the men were members of Knox Goderich.

Today, we tend to think of the Great Lakes as playgrounds and shipping lanes, but they are also a final resting place for thousands of vessels and their crews who have fallen victim to storms over the centuries, starting with the first recorded wreck of the Griffon in 1679.

During these past 100 years, the Mariners’ Service has become one of the oldest traditions not only at Knox Presbyterian Church, but also possibly in the entire community and beyond. This year’s 101st Annual Goderich and District Mariners’ Service is Sun., Feb. 22 at a new afternoon time of 2:30 p.m.

While still intended as a service of recognition for those who make their living on the water and thanksgiving for the blessings we receive from the lakes through commerce and recreation, it also continues as a memorial service.

The guest speaker this year will be the Rev. Nan St. Louis, associate minister at Knox Goderich from 1995 to 2000. The Harbouraires will perform for the 61st consecutive year and there will also be special music by Cpt. David MacAdam who wrote 10 original songs for a commemorative CD to tell the stories of the Great Storm. That storm holds special significance for David since he is a descendant of the two McDonald cousins who died when the Wexford went down with all hands.

Following the Mariners’ Service, there will be refreshments and a chance to view various ship models, items from the Ron Pennington Collection, a display from Huron County Museum and artifacts recovered from the Regina, a Canadian package freighter which sank near Michigan during the Great Storm. New on display this year will be a 3D model of the proposed Marine Heritage Resource Centre for Goderich.

After the service, a new video The Great Storm of 1913 – A 100 Year Tale, produced by Michigan News Channel 9 and 10 during the centenary year, can be viewed. Part of the video, which won a NATAS Emmy, was shot at Knox Presbyterian Church in Goderich and features interviews by local people such as Paul Carroll, David MacAdam and Colleen Maguire.

Goderich Signal Star


Freighters invade Huron: Docked ships getting ready to transport cargo across lakes

2/11 - Huron, Ohio – Each summer, hundreds of boats — from Lymans to sailboats — populate Lake Erie, capturing the attention of locals and tourists alike. But this winter, many are marveling at an unfamiliar lakeside view: two immobile, massive ships docked in the icy waters at a small port in Huron.

In early January, captains anchored a pair of 680-foot-long freighters at docking space abutting land Norfolk Southern owns. The docking space is located next to Huron's boat launch facility near Cleveland and River roads.

During a recent safety inspection, performed by Huron firefighters, the Register went on an exclusive tour of each freighter, gaining some fascinating facts about them from onboard shipkeepers:

• Ship names: Christened the Adam E. Cornelius and the John J. Boland, each ship was named after a co-founder of the American Steamship Company. The company, based near Buffalo, N.Y., operates each ship.

• New winter home: For many years, the company docked the freighters at a port in Toledo. A falling out of some sorts, however, led executives to choose a new docking site for 2015, which ended up being in Huron. The shipkeepers said the new area presents many advantages, including quick, easy access into Lake Erie. It did, however, take a full day just to dock the ships in Huron because of their colossal size.

• Winter docking: Lake Erie freezes in wintertime. So to ensure the icy waters don't trap or somehow damage the ships, workers installed a bubbler system, which agitates the water, to prevent freezing.

• Timeline: The two vessels should remain docked in Huron through the spring. Up until then, crew members and contracted workers will repair and enhance the 42-year-old ships, such as replacing ropes or upgrading the power systems. The company contracts with 10 or so different businesses, all helping in some fashion to improve the ships.

• Crew: When the ship is in service, 26 crew members — give or take a couple people.

• Value: The Cornelius and Boland are individually valued at anywhere between $10 million to $15 million.

• Fleet: It might be hard to believe, but the Cornelius and Boland aren't even close to being the largest vessels in the company's fleet. Of the company's 17 total ships, six vessels equal or exceed 1,000 feet in length.

• Mystique: "It's a nice reminder of the region's connection to the rest of the world through the Great Lakes," Huron city manager Andy White said. "It's also nice to see the dock infrastructure put to good use and simultaneously draw attention to Huron's developing waterfront."

Sandusky Register


Lookback #451 – Fairwind wrecked at Grand Bahama Reef on Feb. 11, 1968

2/11 - The second of two ships to come to the Great Lakes as Fairwind was wrecked 47 years ago today. The vessel was on a voyage from West Africa to New Orleans when it stranded on Grand Bahama Reef.

This vessel was one of the Victory ships of World War Two. It was built at Baltimore, MD and completed as Smith Victory on June 22, 1945. The vessel served the United States Maritime Commission in the few remaining months of the war and then in peacetime before being sold to private interests.

Smith Victory moved under the flag of Argentina as Buenos Aires in 1947. It was used to carry passengers, up to 800 at a time, after being rebuilt in Italy during 1955. The ship later returned to general cargo service with the transition by 1961.

Following a sale to the Southwind Shipping Corp. in 1963, the vessel was renamed c) Fairwind and made a trip through the Seaway during the following year.

Fairwind sustained severe bottom damage in the grounding of Feb. 11, 1968, and partially flooded. Efforts to refloat the ship were successful and it was taken to Jacksonville, FL where the cargo that included ingots, a deckload of logs and other general freight were unloaded.

The hull was considered sound enough to be towed to a scrapyard and Spanish shipbreakers had the winning bid. Fairwind arrived at Bilbao, Spain, on July 6, 1968, and was dismantled by Hierros Arbulu later in the year.

The earlier Fairwind, a small West German Seaway trader in 1959, was sold for scrap after only 16 years of service and broken up at Brest, France, following arrival on April 26, 1972.

Skip Gillham


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.


New CSL St-Laurent expected Wednesday

2/10 - According to the Canadian Coast Guard, CSL St-Laurent is expected in Montreal on Wednesday. Monday morning, she was in the Canso Strait area.

René Beauchamp


Algomarine arrives for Lay-up

2/10 - Owen Sound, Ont. - The Algomarine arrived in Owen Sound Monday for winter Lay-up. She struggled through the ice for almost 5 hours before reaching her lay-up dock. The Algomarine was assisted by the Canadian Coast Guard Ship Samuel Risley through the 8-12 inches of ice in the harbor.


State plans to dive shipwreck found by Muskegon duo

2/10 - Lansing, Mich. – By this coming summer, we will know for certain if the shipwreck discovered by two Muskegon treasure hunters is in fact the holy grail of all Great Lakes' shipwrecks – Le Griffon – that disappeared 336 years ago.

Kevin Dykstra and Frederick J. Monroe met in Lansing Thursday with state archaeologists Dean Anderson and Wayne Lusardi. Also attending the meeting were Sandra Clark, Director of Michigan Historical Center as well as Tom Graf from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

After viewing several photos, and discussing details of the wreck, the State has decided it wants to dive the site later this year, and hopefully determine the identity of the vessel.

State Maritime Archaeologist, Wayne Lusardi, who is an expert on Great Lakes shipwrecks, says he does not believe the wreck Dykstra and Monroe discovered is the coveted "Le Griffon".

"Based on some of the objects that are visible in the photos, and based on the description of the wreck by the discoverers, suggest strongly that it is not the Griffon, but rather a 19th, early 20th century vessel," said Lusardi.

If it's determined after the dive that the vessel isn't the Griffon, both Dykstra and Monroe say they won't be upset.

"If it isn't the Griffon, then it opens up for another story which will be very positive," said Monroe. "We're going to go look at this boat together and make some decisions on it."

"Whether it turns out to be the Griffon or not, it's still a historic shipwreck," said Dykstra. "Wayne Lusardi seemed real anxious to get out there and take a look at it."

Lusardi believes that the shipwreck Dykstra and Monroe found has not been found previously by anybody else.

State officials say they're planning another meeting soon where the state will determine the date when they plan to dive the wreck.



Student discovers rare Eastland disaster footage

2/10 - Chicago, Ill. – An amazing piece of Chicago history has been uncovered. A graduate student at the University of Illinois at Chicago came across the first-known film footage of the Eastland disaster while doing online research.

The footage was found while searching a Dutch museum archive collection. The 55-second clip was part of a 14-minute film about World War I.

Ironically, the discovery comes at the approaching 100-year anniversary of the Eastland disaster. The boat capsized on the Chicago River on July 24, 1915, killing 844 people.

To view the clip:



National Museum Announces Spring Lecture Series

2/10 - Toledo, Ohio – The National Museum of the Great Lakes has announced its program line-up for the spring Annual Lecture Series at the museum in Toledo.

Roger LeLievre, publisher, author, photographer, will discuss the history of “Know Your Ships,” the bible of Great Lakes vessel watching on Wednesday April 8. He will also be signing copies of the 2015 edition of “Know Your Ships.”

Carrie Sowden, Archaeological Director of the Peachman Lake Erie Shipwreck Center of the Great Lakes Historical Society, has been leading underwater archaeology efforts on Lake Erie for the past 11 years. She will discuss the infamous collision between the Cortland and the Morning Star that caused the loss of both vessels, Wednesday April 29.

Clint Mauk, Toledo’s unofficial historian, has been researching and documenting Toledo area history for decades. Although many in the area have seen his presentations previously, Mauk’s penchant for storytelling often brings back previous attendees. He will speak on Toledo’s experiences during Prohibition on Wednesday May 20.

All lectures are held at the National Museum of the Great Lakes at 7 p.m. on the day noted. Space for the lectures is limited so RSVPs are recommended. Call 419-214-5000 for more information or to reserve your space.

National Museum of the Great Lakes


Bramble is part of what defines Port Huron

2/10 - Port Huron, Mich. – Without a doubt, the retired U.S. Coast Guard cutter Bramble has many stories to tell.

Stories about receiving nuclear fallout in the Bikini Atoll as part of government testing in 1946. About what it was like in 1957 being one of the first ships — and the only survivor of its two companions — to circumnavigate the Arctic Circle. About being stationed in the Caribbean during the drug wars of the late 1980s.

These well-documented historic events led to the nomination and unanimous approval of the 180-foot buoy tender and icebreaker on the National Register of Historic Places in 2012.

But there are other memories, infinitely more in number, in the personal reminiscences of men who have lived and served on the Bramble.

These stories lend to the ship what could be called a kind of soul, former Bramble commanding officer Bob Lafean said.

"It's hard to describe unless you've actually been there. You do things that most people you talk to have never experienced," the Port Huron resident said. "We understand how the ships have their own identity, their own soul and ... they take care of you."

That feeling might be more difficult to locate precisely than the well-marked offerings tourists receive on their guided tours of the museum ship.

Bramble owners Bob and Sara Klingler hope to bring visitors' experiences on the ship closer to that of servicemen through enhanced overnight stays for youth that include station duty.

The overnight stay program is a continuation of what was offered through the Bramble's previous owner, the Port Huron Museum.

The Klinglers last week celebrated the two-year anniversary since they acquired the Bramble from the museum. The ship will have its 71st birthday this year.

The station duty component is new, Bob Klingler said.

"You will not just sit and look," he said. "You'll be part of an operating group. You'll either wash the deck or start an engine or make a radio call, something that would actually indicate a real job to you maybe later in your life. That's the kind of thing that can change the course of a youngster's career."

The Bramble will begin taking reservations April 15 for Saturday overnight programs. The ship can accommodate two groups of 20 with their chaperones.

The Marine City couple also have been host to musters on the Bramble, gatherings among volunteers, "Coasties" and retirees from near and far.

"They all want to help the Coast Guard communities and the locals," Sara Klingler said. "Some of these guys are 70, 80 years old, and they sailed in the Coast Guard."

The meetings are typically on the second Saturday of every month. They include a status meeting and assignments for attendees.

"Not only is the meeting giving a status of the ship, but we're going to do something that day," Sara Klingler said.

In March 2016, the Bramble will be featured in a blockbuster movie, but Bob Klingler could not share much more information due to confidentiality agreements. He said the movie is not "Transformers 4," which the ship was considered for. He also said the upcoming movie is not through Paramount Studios.

A Bramble crew of about 25 was assembled to participate in a Michigan Film Industry activity in Ecorse for two weeks of filming the movie at the end of August 2014, Bob Klingler said. There was a film crew of 600 to 700 people there, he said.

"It was a big production," Bob Klingler said. "We were thrilled. Everybody had a good time."

The project is related to Gov. Rick Snyder's ongoing economic development effort to make Michigan more viable in the film industry, he said.

"With our actual involvement in being solicited for 'Transformers 4' ... our name is out in the film industry as a ship that could be a prop and used in Michigan."

The Klinglers were contacted by National Geographic last summer to use the Bramble to look for a sunken ship in the Great Lakes. Time lines were not given, but if the project goes forward, it would involve a working crew of 25 people and the launching of a submersible from the deck of the Bramble.

A private company has contacted the couple with an interest in leasing the Bramble as a harbor ice breaker, they said.

And a sea trial in lower Lake Huron leading up to the Port Huron to Mackinac Island race on July 18 is in the works, involving a combination of Bramble crew and crew members from the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Sundew. Retired Bramble Capt. Charles Park of Norfolk, Virginia, will serve as captain of the sea trial, Bob Klingler said. Park was captain aboard the Bramble from 1978 to 1980.

"Our goal is to be out during a July timeframe. Our goal is to be out at the start of the race," he said.

Port Huron Museum was gifted the Bramble with help from Acheson Ventures when the U.S. Coast Guard decommissioned the ship in 2003 after 59 years of service.

The museum board voted to put the Bramble up for sale after years of operating it as a museum ship at a financial loss. Lafean helped to list the ship with broker Marcon International in April 2010. Four offers were made in 2011, according to museum records. All were denied, except one, for which financing fell through. There were also several showings of interest in the ship.

"The expenses alone were just so outrageous that we couldn't keep it. As nice as it was and as wonderful as it was to have the site, it would have put us in bankruptcy to keep it. And that's not fair to the rest of our sites and to the community at large," museum executive director Susan Bennett said.

Bennett said during the period that the Bramble was for sale, various people approached the museum about scrapping the ship, using it as a sand dredge in the Caribbean or using it overseas in construction projects.

"None of those were appealing to us," she said. "So Mr. Klingler, as an individual and as a businessman, he and Sara were a dream to work with. He was passionate about the ship, and it was the absolute best outcome that ever could have happened."

"To keep it here was a huge, huge thing."

The Klinglers bought the Bramble in February 2013 for close to the reduced asking amount of $200,000, Bennett said.

Bob Klingler didn't want to talk about what he paid for the Bramble, which continues to be a financial liability in terms of operating costs and insurance.

"The purchase price is kind of a private thing. It was either going to be scrap metal or cut up and go to a barge in South America," he said. "So its history and its provenance and the ability to make it live again would have been terminated. But it does cost real money to keep it running, I'll tell you that. And there's no grant money. It's all out of my pocket."

According to Patrick Andrus, historian with the National Register of Historic Places, owners of private property listed in the National Register have no obligation to open their properties to the public, to restore them, or even maintain them, if they choose not to do so.

"Owners can do anything they wish with their property, provided that no federal license, permit, or funding is involved," Andrus said in an email.

The Klinglers bought the Bramble with the intention of preserving it for future generations as well as keeping it open to the public.

"Everyone knows this ship is on the National Historic Registry, and we're not about to let anything happen to it," Sara Klingler said.

Lafean said the connection to the area many former Coasties who have served on the Bramble seem to develop is consistent with what he has seen elsewhere.

"As a general rule, it happens in all the small towns in the Great Lakes," he said. "They (Coast Guard members) are an easy fit into the community."

Lafean said the attachment goes back to the 1800s when locals volunteered to man the rescue boats. When the Coast Guard ships came in, they, too, became part of the community fabric. "People lived in the community. They went to the local churches, shopped locally," Lafean said.

They also get married and have children, like Grinnell, Iowa-native Bob Emmert.

Emmert joined the Bramble crew in October 1995 as third class petty officer. He decided to stay on in Port Huron after his service with the Coast Guard was up in July 1998. "The attachment that I see is that it has brought a lot of people in this town, such as myself. I'm one of them," Emmert said.

Emmert was the ship cook and lived on the Bramble during his service. He likened the ship to people's childhood homes.

"There are tons and tons of memories of you and your friends, your co-workers on that boat traveling. We took it all the way down to South America and back. We were gone for about 4 1/2 months taking it up into Lake Superior doing island cleanups and going over into Lake Michigan and doing festivals working the long buoy season on it. So when I look at that, it's my history. It's my previous home," Emmert said.

"You know, you always travel around and say, 'This is where I used to live. It's kind of cool that it's still around. I'd hate for it to go anywhere."

Looking back, Sara Klingler said she and her husband have accomplished a lot in two years.

"We've gone from a ship that was silent and tied up and kind of forgotten about on the south side of town," she said. "We're getting it back to the point when the Coast Guard still had it underway and they were still using it, and not letting the mechanical or any portions of the ship deteriorate to the point where you can't bring it back to life."

Ship engineer Tony Zolinski said the ship's parts had been unused for a long time, but that everything was built "very high quality."

"If we had to shove off from the dock, if it was an absolute 911 emergency, there's no doubt that what we need to come to life would come to life, no problem," Zolinski said.

Whatever adventures await the Bramble, Bob Klingler knows one thing for sure about the ship.

"It's staying in Port Huron, and it's staying warm. The engines, motors, pumps —all that is going to live on," Klingler said. "It's pretty much out of the love of it is where the whole thing is. Everybody loves it, and it's a huge piece of history."

Port Huron Times Herald


Lookback #450 – Former Jacqueline stranded off Morocco on Feb. 10, 1985

2/10 - The French ore carrier Jacqueline was built at Port de Bouc, France, and completed in January 1959. It operated on deep-sea routes before coming through the Seaway for the first time in 1967.

The 4,210 gross ton freighter was sold and renamed b) Rhea in 1971, and was a Seaway trader as such in 1972. It moved under the flag of Cyprus as c) Kyrarini later in 1972, to Greek interests as d) Paros Trader in 1976 and under the flag of Panama as e) Nike in 1978.

Nike went aground about 1½ miles north of Tarfaya, Morocco, on Feb. 10, 1985, while waiting for a berth at Laoyoune, Morocco. The ship was inbound, without cargo, from Venice, Italy, 30 years ago today and had to be abandoned as not salvageable. The remains of the hull are still there, rusted and battered by the elements

Skip Gillham


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 is now 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.


1 arrested after crash into Grand Haven Coast Guard Station

2/9 - Grand Haven, Mich. – A suspect was in custody Sunday morning after breaking into the U.S. Coast Guard Station in Grand Haven and assaulting Coast Guard personnel, according to a release by the Grand Haven Department of Public Safety.

Per the release, the male suspect crashed his truck through the gate of the Grand Haven Coast Guard Station, 601 S. Harbor Drive, before breaking into the facility at approximately 6:07 a.m, on Sunday, Feb. 8.

The suspect, whose name has not yet been released, allegedly assaulted coast guard personnel and made the threat of an explosive device in the truck. Police said the suspect is not a resident of Grand Haven.

All Coast Guard personnel are safe, but Harbor Drive and the boardwalk were closed until further notice.

Grand Haven police say that the investigation is expanding to areas outside of Grand Haven with the Michigan State Police and the FBI's Grand Rapids Office providing assistance. Additional law enforcement personnel and resources are heading toward Grand Haven to secure the area, police said.

M Live – Muskegon Chronicle


Lookback #449 – Alexander Leslie launched as J.T. Hutchinson on Feb. 9, 1901

The J.T. Hutchinson was launched 114 years ago today. It was built at Cleveland and entered service for the Hutchinson fleet in March 1901.

The 366-foot-long bulk carrier landed on an uncharted reef west of Eagle Harbor on Nov. 29, 1903, and was not released until Dec. 4. Then, on Nov. 10, 1913, it was wrecked at Point Iroquois, Lake Superior, in the Great Storm and settled on the bottom in shallow water. With only limited communication in that era, the J.T. Hutchinson was first feared to have been lost.

It was sold and renamed b) H.A. Rock in 1923 and became Alexander Leslie in 1927. The latter was used in the Lake Erie coal trade for many years, providing fuel for railway locomotive engines of the Pere Marquette Railway.

Alexander Leslie joined the Norlake Steamship Co. in 1964 and saw frequent service in the grain trade to the Georgian Bay ports through the 1969 season.

Following a sale for scrap, Alexander Leslie came down the Welland Canal for the last time on Dec. 14, 1969, bound for Trois Rivieres, QC with a cargo of salt. It was idle until departing Quebec City, under tow, on May 31, 1971, and the ship arrived at Santander, Spain, in tandem with the Stonefax on June 19, 1971.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  February 9

News Photo Gallery


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.


Capt. Joe Walters sworn in to lead International Ship Masters Association

2/8 - Duluth, Minn. – A knock at the door prompted the grand warden to say, “Mr. President, there’s an alarm at the door.”

The incoming officers of the International Ship Masters Association stood outside the door, waiting to be let in. Bagpipers then led the procession of officers around the room once the association’s outgoing Grand Lodge President Robert Schallip of Barbeau, Mich., gave the warden instructions to admit them into the room.

Audience members bedecked in formal wear gave the salute of three sets of three claps, after which the Canadian and American national anthems were sung.

In a ceremony following 125 years of pageantry and tradition, Capt. Joe Walters of Washburn, Wis., was inducted as the national association’s grand lodge president Friday during the association’s annual Grand Lodge Convention.

Twin Ports Lodge 12 is hosting this year’s convention at the Radisson, which started Thursday, for the first time since 2001.

“I pledge my sacred word of honor,” Walters said, taking the oath of office with his right hand on his heart and his left hand on the Bible before a standing audience.

He was presented with the medal of the association’s grand president and had the lodge’s password whispered to him by Schallip before the gavel changed hands between the two presidents. Schallip handed over the grand lodge president’s ring, telling Walters, “Wear it proudly.”

It’s a honor to be named grand lodge president, Walters said after the ceremony, adding, “I’m very humbled by it.” He’ll spend the year leading the association and representing it at various events.

Walters has spent decades on the waters of the Great Lakes and is currently working out of Ashland as the captain of the U.S. Geological Survey’s vessel Kiyi that researches fisheries for the Lake Superior Biological Station.

His career began when he joined the U.S. Coast Guard in 1979. He first worked as a seaman apprentice and plank owner on the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Bristol Bay in Detroit.

A year later, he sailed the cutter Raritan out of Cleveland to Governors Island south of New York City. While later serving in Wisconsin’s Sturgeon Bay, he sailed to and from Grenada.

He went on to serve in Guam, Cleveland and Philadelphia before returning to the Great Lakes in 1994 to serve on the cutter Sundew in Duluth.

Before his retirement, he served on the cutter Sweetbrier in Cordova, Alaska.

He became a member of the International Ship Masters Association’s Twin Ports Lodge 12 in 2005. He also serves on the Great Lakes Captains Association board of directors and on the steering committee for the Great Lakes Association of Science Ships.

The International Ship Masters Association consists of 16 lodges around the Great Lakes and is open to anyone involved in maritime operations. Members work on everything from the bigger ships that traverse the Great Lakes to tugboats, tour boats and research vessels, Walters explained. It dates back to 1886 in Buffalo, N.Y., formed to build camaraderie among mariners and be a place to share information.

Duluth News Tribune


Lookback #448 – Squatter died in fire on board William G. Mather Feb. 8, 1984

The steel bulk carrier William G. Mather operated for the Cleveland-Cliffs fleet and has been preserved at Cleveland at the Great Lakes Science Center.

The ship was built at River Rouge, Mich., and entered service as the company flagship on July 24, 1925. The 628 foot long freighter could carry 14,750 tons deadweight and handled ore, coal, grain and, for a few years, deckloads of new automobiles.

The ship was upgraded from time to time. In 1946, as part of a feasibility study, the William G. Mather became the first commercial vessel to test the use of radar. A 5,500 shp DeLaval geared turbine engine was installed in 1954, replacing the original quadruple-expansion power plant. Then, in 1964, the vessel was given the first automated boiler plant on the Great Lakes and became the first American ship to be certified for operation without a fireman.

After being laid up at Toledo and facing an uncertain future, a fire broke out in the galley 31 years ago today due to a cigarette left unattended by a squatter living on board. The transient perished in the blaze.

The ship was repaired and brought to Cleveland in October 1988 for preservation as a museum. It remains a fixture on the waterfront as a reminder of another era.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  February 8

News Photo 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.


Port Reports -  February 7

St. Marys River
The loaded tanker Algocanada was upbound Friday headed for the Purvis dock in Sault Ste, Marie, Ont. The USCG Mackinaw assisted.


Lookback #447 – Former Othem abandoned by crew off Libya on Feb. 7, 1981

Othem was 10 years old when it made a single trip to the Great Lakes in 1962. The Swedish built and Swedish owned general cargo carrier had come inland under charter to the Swedish-America Line.

The 399-foot, 11-inch-long vessel was able to carry 6,400 tons of cargo and was sold before the 1962 season had ended. It was purchased by an East Germany based company and renamed b) Usedom.

It was resold becoming c) Adajo in 1971, d) Prometheus in 1975 and e) Eugenia V. in 1980. The last two names were under the flag of Greece.

Eugenia V. was carrying barley from Le Havre, France, to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, when an explosion and fire developed in the engineroom on Feb. 7, 1981. The trouble occurred off Ras El-Hilal, Libya, and the ship had to be abandoned by the crew. One sailor was lost.

The hull drifted ashore about 10 miles east of Derna, Libya, and the wreck became a total loss.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  February 7

Lay-up list updated


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.


Port officials seek more European ships in Duluth-Superior

2/6 - Duluth-Superior port officials have been fostering a relationship with a Dutch shipping company to draw more European vessels to the port.

Three out of the 13 vessels that sailed into the port’s Clure Public Marine Terminal last year were from the Amsterdam-based Spliethoff Group. Lake Superior warehousing president Jon Lamb said he and port officials have been meeting with Spliethoff representatives to promote monthly European service from Antwerp to Duluth.

“They brought somebody that’s specialized in container trade to this now in Europe to focus on the Great Lakes portion, which I think is a significant step,” he said.

Lamb said vessel carriers typically want those shipping cargo overseas to pay for a full shipload. But, he says Spliethoff is willing to carry smaller cargoes from several customers. Lamb said it’s a more for cost-effective way for regional manufacturers and other industries to reach international markets.

Spliethoff is one of the largest ship management companies in the Netherlands, according to its website.

Wisconsin Public Radio


Port Reports -  February 6

Sturgeon Bay, Wis. – Jim Conlon and Daniel Lindner

Wednesday morning the Cason J. Callaway arrived at Bayship and the ASC ship American Century came out of the graving dock in the afternoon. On Saturday the Callaway will be going into the dock for maintenance and inspection. With 15 ships at the yard, all dock space at Bayship is being used. One more ship, the Arthur M. Anderson, is still busy running cargoes, but should be arriving for layup soon.

St. Clair River – Don Detloff
The CCGS Samuel Risley was escorting Canada Steamship Lines’ Frontenac through St. Clair River ice on Thursday.

Toledo, Ohio – Bob Vincent
After unloading ore at Torco, the James L. Kuber shifted over to the west wall for winter lay up.


Indiana ports set new record, exceed 10 million tonnes first time in 53 years

2/6 - The record for most annual shipments at The Ports of Indiana stood for 20 years. But last year set a new high water mark, about 800,000 tons more than the previous record in 1994.

The state’s three ports, which include the deepwater port on Lake Michigan in Portage and two ports on the Ohio River downstate, exceeded 10 million tons for the first time since the port authority was established 53 years ago.

The ports ended the year on a strong note, with a record 1.3 million tons in December and a quarterly record 3.4 million tons of cargo in the fourth quarter.

Steel shipments more than doubled last year, as imports captured nearly a third of U.S. market share. Road salt shipments nearly tripled after last winter’s polar vortex.

“These record numbers are a tribute to the world-class companies at our ports and the importance of maritime transportation to the regional economy,” Ports of Indiana CEO Rich Cooper said.

Tonnage rose 30 percent at the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor, which handled more cargo than at any time since the port opened in 1970. Ocean vessels rose by 35 percent over 2013, while barges were up by 25 percent to more than 500.

“The growth of Indiana’s ports is the result of continued investment into facilities and infrastructure by the port and our business partners,” Cooper said.

“Our board has approved over $42 million in capital investments in the past six years to help the Ports of Indiana develop one of the leading inland port systems in North America and it is gratifying to see those investments are paying off for Indiana.”

Customs Today


Lookback #446 – Hallfax launched at Port Glasgow, Scotland, on Feb. 6, 1962

Hallfax, the first self-unloading freighter built on the banks of the Clyde River, was launched 53 years ago today. It was designed for the Hall Corporation and it sailed for Canada on June 5, 1962. It spent much of the first year carrying Cape Breton coal from Sydney, N.S., to Montreal and Toronto.

The vessel was 385 feet, 2 inches long by 58 feet wide and capable of carrying 9,200 tons deadweight. This was increased when the ship was lengthened by 60 feet and deepened by 4 feet at Lauzon, Que., during the winter of 1965-1966.

When Hallfax resumed trading, it was able to carry 11,050 tons deadweight and while it continued in the coal trade, it also handled salt, bentonite and potash.

Hallfax ran aground in high winds off Pipe Island on Oct. 31, 1966, and had to go to Toledo for repairs. It was on a voyage with potash from Port Arthur to Oswego, N.Y. at the time. Later, in November 1969, the ship delivered the first ever potash cargo to Buffalo.

On Dec. 4, 1980, Hallfax lost steering off the Gaspe region of the Gulf of St. Lawrence in 50 knot winds. Some of the crew was airlifted to safety by helicopter but Irving Beech took the vessel in tow and they reached safety.

The damaged Hallfax was laid up at Sorel on Dec. 15, 1980, and listed for sale. It was sold in 1981, repaired and headed south as b) Coaler I and used as a coal transfer vessel on the Mississippi River. It was idle at New Orleans by 1983 and sold to shipbreakers in India in August 1989.

The former Hallfax arrived at Alang, under tow, as c) Laker on March 13, 1990, and dismantled.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  February 6

News Photo Gallery
Lay-up list updated


Today in Great Lakes History -  February 6

On 06 February 1952, the LIMESTONE (steel propeller tug, 87 foot 10 inches) was launched at Bay City, Michigan, by the Defoe Shipyard (Hull #423) for the Michigan Limestone and Chemical Company. Later she was sold to U.S. Steel and in 1983, to Gaelic Tug Company who renamed her b.) WICKLOW. She is currently owned by the Great Lakes Towing Company and is named c.) NORTH CAROLINA.

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

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

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

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

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

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


Salties renamed

2/5 - Two saltwater vessel visitors, both built in 2010 and each having visited the Great Lakes/Seaway system at least once, have new names. Each vessel was also once owned by the Intersee Schiffahrt fleet of Haren Ems, Germany. The Luebbert, which made one visit into the Great Lakes/Seaway system in April 2014, is now the Marbioko from Portugal, having been renamed on January 2, 2015. Her port of registry is now Madeira. A sistership, the Fritz, has had its flag and registry changed from Liberia to Portugal with Madeira also being its port of registration. Many will remember the Fritz visiting during the 2014 season and having issues in Oshawa, Ont., and Toledo, Ohio. While in Toledo, the vessel was put under arrest, eventually being allowed to leave before the Seaway closed for the season.

Denny Dushane


Lookback #445 – Former Tamar gutted by fire as Athena on Feb. 5, 1977

Tamar was built at Hardinxveld, Netherlands, and was completed for the Zim Israel Navigation Co. Ltd. on October 31, 1951. The 353 foot, 7 inch long by 46 foot, 10 inch wide freighter plied saltwater routes before coming to the Great Lakes in 1959. It returned to the freshwater lakes again in 1960 making a total of only two trips through the Seaway.

Tamar joined Kronios Cia Maritima as b) Kronios in 1965 and operated under the flag of Greece. This registry continued after it became c) Athena in 1970.

On Feb. 5, 1977, a fire broke out on board while the vessel was traveling on the Aegean Sea south of Thira Island. The vessel was in ballast on a voyage from Mersin, Turkey, to Albania, 38 years ago today and the heavily damaged ship was towed into Piraeus, Greece, on Feb. 12, 1977.

Declared a total loss, the 26-year-old former Seaway trader was sold to area shipbreakers and dismantled at Eleusis, Greece, beginning in January 1978.

A second Tamar came through the Seaway for Zim Israel in 1970.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  February 5

Lay-up list updated


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.


Obama 2016 budget: $69M for Great Lakes projects

2/4 - Detroit, Mich. – The $4 trillion budget proposal the Obama administration unveiled Monday includes more than $4.73 billion for the civil works program of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, with more than $69 million for projects around the Great Lakes.

“The Detroit District budget of $69.8 million reflects the administration’s fiscal year 2016 annual civil works program and we are looking forward to working hard and fully implementing this strategic investment in the development, management, restoration and protection of the nation’s water resources,” Lt. Col. Michael Sellers, district engineer, Detroit District, said in a statement.

“Our projects and the water resources we manage produce jobs, facilitate exports, and contribute to a stronger economy, environment and quality of life for all Americans.”

The civil works budget funds the operation and maintenance program, which includes upkeep of the federal shipping channels on the Great Lakes, federal structures and the Soo Locks.

The president’s budget, however, proposed trimming $50 million from a Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, a 5-year-old effort to clean up pollution, fight invasive species like Asian carp, and restore fish and wildlife habitats along the Great Lakes. About $1.6 billion has been appropriated for projects.

Last month, U.S. Rep. David Joyce called for extending the cleanup fund for another five years and spending $300 million a year. The Ohio Republican sponsored a similar bill that passed the House last year with bipartisan support but it died in the Senate.

The following is a fiscal year 2016 funding breakdown for Detroit District major projects included in the president’s proposed budget:

• St. Marys River/Soo Locks. Navigation/Hydropower/Recreation, $31.1 million
• Duluth, Minn./Superior, Wis. Navigation/Recreation, $6.6 million
• Detroit River. Navigation, $5.5 million
• Green Bay Harbor, Wis. Navigation, $2.9 million
• Saginaw River. Navigation, $2.8 million
• Fox River, Wis. Flood Risk Management, $2.5 million
• Milwaukee Harbor, Wis. Navigation, $1.6 million
• St. Joseph Harbor. Navigation, $1.6 million
• Muskegon Harbor. Navigation, $1.4 million
• Grand Haven Harbor. Navigation, $1 million
• Two Harbors, Minn. Navigation, $1 million

Officials said $16.1 million is earmarked for dredging projects, including the Grand Haven, St. Joseph, Manistee, Muskegon, Holland, Ontonagon, Presque Isle and Ludington harbors, and the Rouge and Saginaw rivers. .

Additionally, $3.8 million will be used to continue monitoring lake levels and water flow throughout the Great Lakes, while $100,000 is budgeted for the feasibility study to deepen the upper Saginaw River.

Industries that rely on the Great Lakes have been pushing for the federal government to fund a backlog of dredging projects at ports. Lake levels for years had fallen below their historical average, triggering worry for the boating industry, anglers, shipping industry and marinas. In 2013, Lakes Michigan and Huron set a record for the lowest mean average for any month since records were kept.

Now, the Army Corps predicts that Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron and Erie will be several inches above long-term averages in June. Lake Ontario’s level, which is controlled, should be right at its historic level.

But that shouldn’t stop dredging projects, said Glen Nekvasil, vice president of the Lake Carriers’ Association in January. “Projections have been wrong before, and the lake levels are always fluctuating.”

The Associated Press & The Detroit News


Marine News Demolitions & Casualties Feb. 2015

2/4 - Marine News, the monthly journal of the World Ship Society, reports the following ships with Great Lakes connections going for scrap in the February 2015 issue.

Seaway Salties
AK Brother was a Seaway trader in 2013 but was much better known around the inland seas under the original name of Calliroe Patronicola. The 597 foot, 6 inch long bulk carrier had been launched at Shimizu, Japan, on May 7, 1985, and first came through the Seaway that year for Westwind Shipping Panama S.A., an affiliate of the Onassis group, and under the flag of Greece. The ship was a frequent trader to the lakes, often inbound with steel and exiting with grain. Inland service spanned three decades before the ship was sold to Brother Navigation SA in 2012 and registered in Panama as AK Brother. Last fall the 29-year-old vessel was sold to shipbreakers in Bangladesh. It arrived at Chittagong on Oct. 18, 2014, and scrapping operations got underway ten days later on Oct. 28.

Ji Da arrived at Alang, India, on Oct. 17, 2014, and the dismantling of the hull got underway on Oct. 28. The 31-year-old bulk carrier had been a Great Lakes trader under five of its eight different names. The 584 foot, 8 inch long vessel was built at Setota, Japan, in 1983 and began visiting the Great Lakes that year under Liberian registry as a) La Liberte. It was back as c) Astart in 1988 and made a total of eight transits through the Seaway. It was sold and registered in Singapore as d) Ulloa in 1993 and was back the next year in August with steel. This vessel made a total of 10 inland trips, leaving Thunder Bay for the last time on June 5, 2000, with a cargo of wheat. Another sale that year led to a rename of e) Torro and the then-Greek flag freighter was back before the end of the year. Toro will be remembered by some for a grounding off Cornwall Island on Sept. 12, 2006, damaging the bulbous bow and #2 hold. The ship was lightered and released Sept. 18 and was able to resume the trip from Thunder Bay to Progresso, Mexico, with wheat. It was repaired at Les Mechins, QC, on the way out of the St. Lawrence. In 2007 the ship was back as f) Miltiades under the flag of Jamaica bringing sugar to Toronto before loading grain at Thunder Bay. In 2011 the ship became g) Xing Ji Da and this was shortened to h) Ji Da before it arrived at the breakers.

The familiar tanker Kiisla spent several winters on the Great Lakes carrying chemicals and petroleum products. The vessel dated from 1974 and began Great Lakes trading in December 1985. It departed each spring but returned on a regular basis through the winter of 1992-1993. It was back again as a Seaway trader, registered in the Isle of Man, as Kasla heading to Hamilton at the end of June 1998 before going up the Welland Canal. The ship later sailed under the flag of Russia trading into Vladivostok. It was sold for scrap last year and arrived at Chittagong, Bangladesh, as c) Menelaus, a name that might have only been for the delivery voyage. Dismantling of the hull got underway on Oct. 31, 2014.

Perun, a Freedom Mark II bulker, was the 11th name of a vessel that had come through the Seaway under its first name of Alpha Challenge. It had been built at Aioi, Japan, in 1984, and came to the Great Lakes as such in 1987. Since then it had ten more names before being sold to Pakistani shipbreakers in 2014. Perun arrived at Gadani Beach on Oct. 9, 2014, and scrapping began two days later.

Another long-familiar Seaway trader to go for scrap in this month's report is the Rose of Sea. It arrived at Gadani Beach on Oct. 3, 2014. This ship had come to the Great Lakes beginning in 1984 as a) High Peak. It had been built earlier in the year at Muroran, Japan, and came through the Seaway Nov. 20 for Oshawa. The vessel was back again in 1985 and, on April 10, 1986, was the first salty of the season into Toledo and discharged 3,300 tons of steel coils from Fos Sur Mer, France. The ship moved under Norwegian registry, while on charter to Fednav, as b) Federal Bergen. It sailed briefly as c) Thunder Bay in 1992 before resuming trading as d) Federal Bergen again. The ship was in and out of the Great Lakes through 2004 when it was renamed e) Manora Naree while at Toronto. It had two more names before becoming h) Rose of Sea earlier in 2014. After 30 years of sailing, another of our fine Seaway salties has come to the end of the line.

The Spanish freighter Lorena dated from 1978 and first came through the Seaway in 1979. The 341 foot, 3 inch long cargo ship was sold in 1988 and it seems to have been briefly registered in Vanuatu as b) Brigette before being put under the flag of the USSR as c) Ustyuzhna. It became d) Rand in 2009. The ship's engine failed on the Aegean Sea on Nov. 14, 2014, while carrying steel from Mersin, Turkey, to Constanta, Romania. The vessel was subsequently detained by Greek authorities.

While not a Seaway trader, the Russian passenger ship Aleksandr Pushkin was a regular traveler on the St. Lawrence inland to Montreal. The 1965-vintage motor vessel was sold and renamed b) Marco Polo in 1991. It was on a Norwegian fjord cruise when it stranded, while at anchor off Gravdal, Norway, on Nov. 1, 2014. The ship floated free on the next high tide and was not damaged.

Compiled by Rene Beauchamp, Barry Andersen and Skip Gillham


New website finds Great Lakes data in minutes

2/4 - Environmental data on the Great Lakes region that used to take months to find can now be found in minutes, thanks to the Great Lakes Monitoring website

This website, created by the Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant and the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, provides viewers with decades of nutrient, contaminant and water data.

Universities and government agencies provide the information.

“The idea was basically trying to improve access to the EPA Great Lakes National Program office monitoring data,” said Paris Collingsworth, ecosystem specialist for the Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant. “The project of developing this web page has been going on for around 3 years.”

The website’s provides an interactive map with monitoring locations and their boundaries, according to the press release. Users can look at trends in levels of things like like phosphorus, chlorophyll a, nitrogen, and mercury.

They can look more deeply at the individual profiles for each location. Each page has menus and slide bars to allow users to hone in on the exact data they are looking for.

The website also allows researchers create and develop data for areas they are interested in.

“We’ve been reaching out to other groups in the last month or so, having people contact us for their data sets to go on the website,” Collingsworth said. Those interested in contributing data need only to give website operators access to their database for it to appear on the website, he said.

The website allows researchers to increase the visibility of their monitoring programs, he said.

Uploading data to the website is not open to anyone and has to be approved by the website’s monitors.

“We have the capability for people to upload their own data but we haven’t opened that part of it yet because we’re trying to make sure we put high quality data in there,” Collingsworth said. “ We want long time series data, not data that is collected over a couple years.”

The website has more plans for expansion.

“We see the webpage eventually including all of the EPA data from biology and atmosphere statements to oxygen monitoring. We have to develop new views so it will take time.”


Lookback #444 – Former Alsatia caught fire as Kerkis off Northern Sicily on Feb. 4, 1976

The Greek freighter Kerkis was on a voyage from Casablanca, Morocco, to Trieste, Italy, when fire broke out in #3 hold on Feb. 4, 1976. The vessel was carrying cotton and phosphate while sailing off the northern coast of Sicily. The blaze erupted 39 years ago today.

Kerkis arrived at the northern Sicilian city of Milazzo the next day. When the hatch was removed on Feb. 12, flames again erupted and the ship had to be towed away from the dock and beached as a total loss.

Kerkis had been a Great Lakes trader under two previous names. It had been built at Gothenburg, Sweden, and completed in September 1947 as Bysanz. The 338-foot, 8-inch-long cargo carrier sailed for the Fred Olsen Line of Norway and provided Mediterranean service for the company.

When the Seaway opened in 1959, the ship came to the Great Lakes on three occasions that year and returned on a regular basis with a total of 12 inland voyages to the end of 1966.

It was chartered to the Cunard Line and renamed b) Alsatia in 1967 and came through the Seaway five more times under this name. It made news at Brockville on Nov. 22, 1967, as the first saltwater ship to stop there to unload. This was due to a longshoreman's lockout and it took local workers three days to discharge the cargo.

The vessel was sold to Greek interests in 1968 becoming c) Kerkis and remained with Poko Cia Nav. until the fateful fire.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  February 4

News Photo Gallery


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.


Coast Guard: Avoid Lake Michigan due to high waves from weekend snowstorm

2/3 - Chicago, Ill. – The Coast Guard is reminding area residents to exercise caution, heed heavy surf warnings and avoid the shoreline of Lake Michigan as remnants of this weekend’s snowstorm continue to create dangerous surf conditions and high waves.

Residents, curiosity seekers and outdoor enthusiasts are urged to stay off of walkways near the lake, as well as rocky terrain, beaches, piers and jetties which may appear safe; however, may be icy and slippery. Waves and winds are extremely unpredictable and can cause onlookers to slip and get washed or pulled into the surf.

As this weekend’s weather system continues to move out of the area, and as winds subside and skies clear, residents should understand that heavy surf and high waves on Lake Michigan will typically take an additional day, at least, to calm.

Hypothermia is the biggest danger after falling into the water, even if one manages to get out immediately. Hypothermia sets in quickly as the human body’s core temperature drops below 95 degrees.

“Survival time is greatly diminished for someone immersed in water below 70 degrees,” said Cmdr. Max Moser, deputy commander of Coast Guard Sector Lake Michigan, in Milwaukee.

"Cold water drains body heat up to 25 times faster than cold air. We urge everyone to use extreme caution due to unsafe lake conditions resulting from the past weekend’s storm. Our first priority is to keep people out of dangerous situations."



Port Reports -  February 3

Sarnia, Ont. – Barry Hiscocks
Calumet ended up sitting out in Lake Huron Sunday night to clean out holds. It was too risky to try to tie her up in the dark and with near gale-force winds and very poor visibility. The tug Pride broke the ice out of the North Slip Monday morning as well, after which Calumet arrived for layup.


“Devil's blanket” may be one reason for unusually high number of ice rescues

2/3 - Cleveland, Ohio – Rescues in Saginaw Bay, Michigan, Sunday evening and Lake Erie Monday morning are the latest in an alarmingly high number of Great Lakes ice rescues since Saturday, prompting a Coast Guard reminder of the risk of venturing out onto the ice and of the importance of taking appropriate safety precautions.

Throughout the weekend the Coast Guard, good Samaritans and the Bay County, Michigan Fire Department rescued eight and assisted six people across the lakes, an unusually high number attributed in part to a milder winter and environmental conditions like "the devil's blanket."

The names and hometowns of the rescued and assisted are not being released.

At about 7:30 p.m. Sunday, a 911 operator contacted search-and-rescue controllers at the Coast Guard Sector Detroit Command Center to report a disoriented man on Saginaw Bay in blizzard conditions. The man called 911 from his cell phone, allowing the dispatchers to determine his coordinates before losing communication with him.

The command center contacted Coast Guard Station Saginaw River, in Essexville, Michigan, to dispatch a rescue crew aboard a 20-foot rescue air boat.

The man managed to make another phone call to 911 after he had fallen through the ice and climbed back out. Dispatchers instructed him to turn on his flashlight, and though visibility was less than 1,000 yards, the light made it possible for the rescuers to find him, and they safely transported him to shore.

"My ice rescue crews spend more time on the frozen Saginaw Bay than anyone, and every one of us has learned that ice conditions are unpredictable,” said Master Chief Petty Officer Terry W. Lathrop, officer in charge of Station Saginaw, home of the National Ice Rescue School. “One thing we can say with certainty is that the ice will almost never be as thick as it was last year, so don't go out expecting 30 inches of ice.”

Coast Guard rescuers believe that inaccurate expectations, along with heavy snow cover, contibute to the high number of rescues this weekend.

"Our nickname for heavy snow cover is the devil's blanket, because it covers up visual signs of thin ice and also insulates the water and ice underneath, which prevents new ice from forming in cold temperatures.”

Other common reasons people find themselves in trouble on the ice are lack of familiarization with the area and a failure to check weather forecasts before going out.

Lathrop encourages people to remember the acronym “I.C.E.” when it comes to ice safety and when planning to venture out on the lakes. The acronym stands for Information, Clothing and Equipment:

Information – Check the weather and ice conditions; tell a friend of your intended destination; know who and how to call for help; be familiar with the area you plan to go, especially when going after dark or during inclement weather.

Clothing – Wear sufficient clothing, including a dry suit, to prevent hypothermia. Choose bright colors and reflective garments to aid searchers if you should end up needing help.

Equipment – Never venture onto the ice without proper safety equipment: a marine radio, a Personal Locator Beacon, a life jacket, a compass or GPS, and screw drivers or ice picks which may allow you to pull yourself out of the water should you break through.

The Coast Guard also encourages ice enthusiasts to reach out to local response agencies, snowmobile clubs and ice-fishing bait shops to inquire about ice conditions before heading out.

USCG Ninth District


Lookback #443 – Lutzen wrecked off Cape Cod on Feb. 3, 1939

Lutzen was built by the Canadian Car & Foundry Co. at Fort William, Ont., in 1918. The 135.6-foot-long by 22.6-foot-wide trawler was constructed for the French Navy and departed the Great Lakes for saltwater service.

The ship was sold to John W. Sullivan in 1922 and re-registered in the United States. It moved to A. Black in 1923, also U.S. flag, and to the Sunrise Steamship Co. of Bermuda later that same year.

It was converted to a cargo ship on joining Job Bros. & Co. Ltd. in 1929 and resold to the Northeastern Steamship Co., of St. John's, Newfoundland, in 1932. The vessel was repowered that same year.

Lutzen was carrying frozen fish and fruit when it went aground at Nauset Beach, Chatham, Mass., on Feb. 3, 1939. It stranded near the Old Harbor Coast Guard Station in dense fog 76 years ago today, and rolled over as a total loss.

The hull was likely broken up at that location as scrap steel was a valuable commodity in World War Two and a rusting old freighter would not be popular on a Cape Cod beach.

Skip Gillham


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, Mass., 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 engine room 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.


Ex-research vessel sinks at Port Weller marina

2/2 - Port Weller, Ont. – The ship was worse for wear, now it’s also under water. The Navicula, a former Canada Fisheries Research Vessel now registered as a pleasure craft, sank at a Welland Canal marina overnight Friday.

“I took this boat in as a favor for another marina,” said Jonathan Marler, general manager of ShipShape Marina Ltd. of Port Weller, which was handling the ship. He said there was concern the 65-footer could sink and the other marina doesn’t have facilities for lifting it out of the water, while ShipShape does.

“I then ran out of time to get out of the water (due to a freeze-up),” Marler said, adding the vessel had been towed from Toronto and hadn’t been operated for a number of years.

“We were going to lift the boat out of the water and cut it up.” Instead, it sank that night at the Seaway Haulage Road docks.

Marler believes ice froze in one of the intakes, burst and filled the boat with water. All that was visible Wednesday was the edge of a hull and rusty mast. The ship was half-encased in ice.

While the 80-tonne vessel contained no fuel, there has been a small release of oil that was being mopped up using special absorbent pads. ShipShape is now using Coastwise Management Inc. to develop a plan to refloat the sunken vessel — something Marler hopes will happen soon.

St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp. spokesman Andrew Bogora said the Seaway was advised by the Ministry of the Environment late Tuesday afternoon about the sinking.

“The information we have is there is no fuel on board,” said Kate Jordan, a spokeswoman for the provincial environment ministry. “There is a small oily sheen where it has sunk … that is being contained by ice.” Jordan said it appears to be residual engine oil.

Jordan said there are no drinking water intakes in the area, “so we are satisfied with the containment and monitoring that the Seaway is (ensuring).” Transport Canada has also been notified about the incident.

St. Catharines Standard


Coast Guard saves two from North Maumee Bay

2/2 - Cleveland, Ohio – A Coast Guard crew rescued two people from the North Maumee Bay near the Ohio/Michigan border after they fell through the ice with their snowmobiles early Sunday morning.

Just after 12 a.m., two people contacted the watchstander at Coast Guard Station Toledo, Ohio, to report they had fallen through the ice on their snowmobiles with two other people. They were able to climb to the shore but the two other people were stranded on an unstable ice shelf.

An ice-rescue crew from Station Toledo responded and safely guided the two stranded people to the shore.

All four people declined medical attention. Commercial salvage has been contacted to remove the snowmobiles.

"Ice is very unpredictable in nature, and it's important that outdoor enthusiasts remember to prepare before heading out," said Chief Petty Officer Gabriel Settel, the assistant command center chief at Coast Guard Sector Detroit.

Coast Guard crews plan to assess the scene and monitor the situation for any potential pollution related to the snowmobiles.



Lookback #442 – The Gezina Brovig sank on Feb. 2. 1970, after main engine blew up

The Norwegian tanker Gezina Brovig made its first two trips to the Great Lakes in 1965 and was back again in 1966. The 537-foot, 4-inch-long vessel had been built at Glasgow, Scotland, and completed as a) Castor in December 1951.

It always sailed under the flag of Norway and became b) Norsk Skald in 1960 and c) Gezina Brovig for Th. Brovig in 1964.

The vessel had a cargo of heating oil on board and was traveling from Aruba, to Bucksport, Maine, when the main engine exploded on Jan. 31, 1970.

The force of the blast sent a piston right through the side of the ship and the vessel sank 45 years ago today some 300 miles northeast of San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  February 2

News Photo Gallery
Lay-up list updated


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.


Port Reports -  February 1

Sturgeon Bay, Wis. – Daniel Lindner
Finally, after almost a week's delay in Detroit, the James R. Barker arrived in Sturgeon Bay for winter layup just after midnight on Saturday morning. The Barker becomes the 14th ship to lay up in port for the winter. Both Arthur M. Anderson and Cason J. Callaway are expected to arrive for layup in the coming days. All three ships were stuck in the Detroit-St. Clair River area for most of the past week waiting for an upbound convoy.


Lookback #441 – Amethyst stranded off Portugal on Feb. 1. 1974

Amethyst was a Freedom Class general cargo freighter that had been built at Tokyo, Japan. The 466-foot, 9-inch-long vessel was launched on April 28, 1970, and began trading for the Pentilikon Shipping Co. S.A. of Greece in June of that year.

The diesel-powered carrier first came through the Seaway in 1971 and returned on occasion. It was a welcome sight to the passengers aboard the 25-foot cruiser Connie Joe disabled in Lake Erie on June 9, 1973. The Amethyst was able to assist the small boat and its crew.

A year later, on Feb. 1, 1974, it was Amethyst that was in distress. It ran aground off the River Douro, near Leixos, Portugal, while inbound from New Orleans with a cargo of maize.

The ship had gone to anchor but the anchors dragged in heavy weather and the vessel stranded in a perilous position. The crew was forced to abandon ship and, on Feb. 6, Amethyst broke in two and became a total loss.

The hull was later listed as for sale, for scrap, and was likely broken up on location.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  February 1

News Photo Gallery
Lay-up list updated


Today in Great Lakes History -  February 1

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

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

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

In 1904, 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, 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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