Great Lakes & Seaway Shipping News Archive

Copyright All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

* Report News

Coast Guard seeking public comment on removal of lenses at 2 Michigan lighthouses

2/28 - Cleveland, Ohio – The U. S. Coast Guard is proposing to remove the Fresnel classical lenses from two Michigan lighthouses. The impacted lighthouses are Grand Marais Harbor of Refuge Inner Lighthouse and Frankfort North Breakwater Light.

The Fresnel classical lenses will be replaced with modern LED lanterns, which are more dependable and energy efficient. The lenses are being removed to preserve them. Due to the harsh environmental conditions, temperature fluctuations, and ultraviolet rays, the lenses slowly deteriorate in lighthouses.

The removed lenses may be loaned to local museums so they can be displayed to the public and maintained in a controlled environment. Public comments about the lens removal can be made by e-mailing



NOAA scientists to document ice during Coast Guard operations

2/28 - Sturgeon Bay, Wis. – The U.S. Coast Guard will conduct ice breaking on the bay of Green Bay Monday, and they’ll have some important guests on board. Scientists from NOAA’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory will be aboard the cutter, working to document ice thickness and formations. The scientists will sample in areas used for recreation.

NOAA is teaching its satellites to read ice formations, and developing an algorithm that reads ice for coverage, thickness, and by type. The samplings will help scientists validate the satellite’s readings. The cutter is expected to be out for five hours.

The U.S. Coast Guard says crews will do everything possible to minimize the wake. They urge recreational users to use caution and stay away from shipping channels and the track lines. The ice conditions are deteriorating because of the above average temperatures, rain, and fog.


Friends of Keewatin group names new general manager

2/28 - Port McNicoll, Ont. – Eric Conroy, president and CEO of Friends of Keewatin (the RJ and Diane Peterson Keewatin Foundation) has announced the appointment of Fred Blair as general manager of the S.S. Keewatin project. In addition to his continued responsibility for the condition of the ship, Blair will work with department managers to coordinate the day-to-day operation of the project, reporting directly to Conroy.

“Fred is a remarkable find, and perfectly suited to the role of general manager in both qualifications and temperament,” Conroy said. “He worked with us last year to great effect. Our managers encouraged me to nominate him to this position, and our board agreed with their recommendation. His appointment is effective immediately.”

Blair has specialized in woodworking and marine repair, renovation and upgrading all his adult life. He operated a series of progressively more complex businesses, culminating in Custom Craft Marine and Custom Craft Cabinets – the latter winning contracts with national corporations, as well as awards of merit – before downsizing and moving his business to Port McNicoll.

“For a wood and marine craftsman, Keewatin is an irresistible project!” Blair said. “The quality of materials and workmanship in play a century ago is as simplified as it is complex. The challenge is to mend or restore to match as closely as possible, and I take this very seriously. It is a pleasure to work with so many others with the same kind of respect for the ship.”

Blair’s appointment will allow Conroy to focus on fund raising, government grants, marketing, promotions, public and government relations, seeking out opportunities to utilize Keewatin and the adjacent park, as well as leading the project.

Friends of Keewatin


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.


St. Clair Marine Mart canceled for this year

2/27 - Due to scheduling conflicts on the part of the organizers, the annual St. Clair Marine Mart, usually held the second weekend in June, has been canceled for this year. The event will return on the second Saturday in June 2018.


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.


Coast Guard air station medically evacuates man from Beaver Island

2/26 - Traverse City, Michigan - U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City medically evacuated a man experiencing a life-threatening illness from Beaver Island in northern Lake Michigan Saturday morning.

The name and hometown of the man are not being released and there is no Coast Guard imagery.

Early in the morning search-and-rescue coordinators at Coast Guard Sector Sault Ste. Marie received notice from officials on the island of a man needing a medical evacuation. After consulting with a Coast Guard flight surgeon, a rescue air crew launched from Air Station Traverse City in an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter.

Two attempts at reaching the island were made. The first aircrew departed the air station around sunrise, but encountered heavy fog, snow and icing conditions and was forced to return to the airport. A second crew from the air station was able to reach Beaver Island later in the morning under slightly improved weather conditions.

The helicopter transported the man to Cherry Capital Airport, where an awaiting ambulance took him to Munson Medical Center.

The Coast Guard Air Station in Traverse City operates five helicopters that conduct search and rescue operations for Lake Michigan, Lake Superior, Lake Huron and the surrounding Great Lakes region.

The Coast Guard cutter Biscayne Bay, based in St. Ignace, MI, and an HC-130J Hercules aircraft from Elizabeth City, NC were also dispatched in the event the helicopter did not reach Beaver Island.


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.


Algoma lists 2016 results, launches 740-foot Algoma Niagara

2/25 - St. Catharines, Ont. – Algoma Central Corporation, a leading provider of marine transportation services, has announced its results for the year ended Dec. 31, 2016.

Fiscal 2016 highlights include:
• Net earnings of $33.3 million and earnings per share of $0.86, increases of 29% and 30% respectively compared to 2015.

• Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) increased by $9.8 million to $89.3 million .

• Collected all deposits together with accrued interest on cancelled shipbuilding contracts.

• Acquired 2.5 ocean self-unloaders, doubling our interest in the international commercial pool.

• Sold five buildings from the company’s discontinued real estate business for total proceeds of $51.3 million.

• Established NovaAlgoma Cement Carriers with partner Nova Marine Carriers, marking the company’s entry into short-sea shipping globally.

• On Dec. 29, 2016, Algoma Innovator, the first of the fleet’s new 650' self-unloaders, was launched by 3Maj Shipyard in Croatia. Subsequent to the year-end, on Feb. 16, 2017, Algoma Niagara, the fleet’s first new 740' self-unloader, was launched at YZJ Shipyard in China.

"We are proud of the achievements of our employees in 2016," said Ken Bloch Soerensen, president and CEO of Algoma. "Their efforts enabled the company to deliver profitable results under difficult market conditions and advance our strategic priority of growing business in global short-sea shipping."

Net earnings from continuing operations, which excludes income from the company’s discontinued real estate business, was $7,374 compared to $21,069 for 2015. Earnings for both years are affected by certain specific transactions and events, as follows:

Earnings for both years include gains related to the cancellation of shipbuilding contracts and the refund of progress payments made on those contracts. Fiscal 2016 results include a gain of $26,387 and fiscal 2015 includes a gain of $13,567.

Earnings for fiscal 2016 reflect a loss of $7,536 resulting from marking to market certain forward foreign exchange contracts that became ineffective as hedges for accounting purposes during the fourth quarter.

Earnings for fiscal 2016 are net of provisions totaling $42,661 related to impairment of the carrying value of the company’s Domestic Dry-Bulk and Product Tanker fleets (2015 - $937) and $5,033 (2015 - $2,686) related to the accelerated depreciation on certain vessels scheduled for retirement.

Yahoo News


Coast Guard to break ice in bay of Green Bay

2/25 - Cleveland, Ohio – The Coast Guard is scheduled to conduct ice breaking operations in the bay of Green Bay west of Sturgeon Bay, Wis., Monday. The Coast Guard Cutter Mobile Bay is scheduled to depart Sturgeon Bay and transit to and from the bay of Green Bay.

Recreational users of the ice should plan their activities carefully, use caution near the ice, and stay away from shipping channels and the charted Lake Carriers Association track lines as the ice is already in an advanced stage of deterioration due to above average temperatures, rain and fog.

Scientists from NOAA’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory will be aboard the cutter to document the ice thickness and ice formation. The sampling operations will likely occur in areas traditionally used by recreational users such as, but not limited to, the Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal and central areas of Green Bay, north of Peshtigo Reef light but south of Chambers Island. Every effort will be made to minimize the cutter’s wake and subsequent impact on the ice field.


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.


Port Reports -  February 24

Lake Huron
Algocanada, which had spent Wednesday unloading at Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., was downbound for Sarnia, Ont., on Thursday evening.


Conveyor belt system to move cargo at Soo Locks raises questions

2/24 - Washington, D.C. – Members of Michigan’s congressional delegation raised concerns Thursday that the Army Corps of Engineers may be considering an unorthodox alternative in a cost-benefit study that, if true, could potentially hurt the case being made for a new super-size navigational shipping lock at a key chokepoint on the Great Lakes.

U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Zeeland, led the letter to Army Corps brass, again urging quick completion of a study into proposals to build a new shipping lock at Sault Ste. Marie. But they also questioned reports that the Corps may be weighing the estimated $626-million cost of a new lock against that of a conveyor belt system around the Soo Locks.

“It is our understanding that (the Corps) is reevaluating the (cost-benefit ratio) for this project by calculating the transportation rate savings based on an alternative mode of transporting commodities around the falls at the Soo Lock(s) using a conveyer (sic) belt system,” the letter read. “(T)his alternative has never been considered for other lock and dam projects."

The letter, which was also signed by 10 other members of the state’s congressional delegation, noted that historically cost-benefit studies for projects such as navigational locks have looked at the alternative costs involved in transportation of goods via rail or truck – not conveyor belts. “We therefore encourage (the Corps) to ensure that the … reevaluation of the Soo Locks project is conducted in a manner that is consistent with other navigation lock and dam project evaluations.”

Read more at this link:


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.


U.S.-flag cargo movement on lakes little changed in January

2/23 - Cleveland, Ohio – U.S.-flag Great Lakes freighters moved 2.1 million tons of dry-bulk cargo in January, a decrease of 125,000 tons compared to a year ago. This January’s float was, however, down nearly a quarter from the month’s 5-year average.

Iron ore cargos for steel production increased by 120,000 tons, but coal cargos, mostly for power generation, dipped by 17,000 tons. No limestone was loaded in January.

Lake Carriers’ Association


Port Reports -  February 23

Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.
The Algoma Central tanker Algocanada arrived in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., on Tuesday and went to the Purvis Dock to unload. She was still there Wednesday evening.


U.S. Steel seeks court action on Minntac permit

2/23 - Duluth, Minn. – U.S. Steel on Tuesday filed a claim in State District Court in St. Paul asking a judge to order the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to finish work on specific pollution limits before issuing a new permit for the company's Minntac taconite operations.

The filing, called a writ of mandamus, asks the judge to order the PCA to complete work on site-specific pollutant limits and other regulations before issuing a permit for the company’s tailings basin.

The last Minntac water pollutant permit was issued in 1987 and expired in 1992. The company has applied for reissuance and has been allowed to operate under the old permit as environmental groups have called for an updated version.

The company said that, if the regulatory issues aren’t resolved “U.S. Steel could be required to make significant and unnecessary capital investments in Minntac that could put the facility at a competitive disadvantage, threatening the future viability of the operation and the jobs employed at the operation.”

Minntac is the largest producer of taconite iron ore in the U.S. and employs nearly 1,500 people.

Specifically the company is seeking site-specific guidelines for waterways downstream of the Minntac tailings basin where a slurry of waste rock and water is disposed of. The company contends that waterways downstream do not need some protections for so-called beneficial uses.

The PCA in November issued a new draft permit for Minntac, just days after a lawsuit was filed by environmental groups demanding an updated permit.

The lawsuit was dropped in December, with a stipulation that the PCA continue to move the permit forward.

But by issuing the draft permit before site-specific pollutant standards are finished the PCA “put the cart before the horse,” U.S. Steel alleges in the writ.

“PCA is proceeding with the permitting process in an order that is inconsistent with its owned state plans to first adopt a wild rice sulfate standard,” the writ adds. “The NPDES permitting process (for Minntac) should not proceed until the applicable water quality standards are established.”

“Based on more than 1,000 public comments on this draft permit, it appears that U.S. Steel is out of alignment with the majority of commenters who want to ensure standards are met through the permitting process,” PCA spokesman Dace Verhasselt said in a statement. “Under the thorough permitting process, legal challenges, including requests for contested case hearings, are allowed. U.S. Steel has requested a contested case hearing, but is now also choosing this additional litigation, which will further delay any resolution to this matter. We would have preferred the permitting process run its course. MPCA is committed to ensuring Minnesota’s clean water and environmental standards are rigorously protected.”

Environmentalists have argued that the Minntac facility releases several problem pollutants in the discharge and groundwater seepage from its giant tailings basin, especially sulfate, which at high levels is known to harm wild rice.

The PCA’s recent draft permit for Minntac appears to, for the first time, call for a phased-in sulfate regulation, although it seems to apply to groundwater and not the facility's actual surface discharge.

U.S. Steel “is simply trying to delay any specific requirements that they stop polluting. They are trying to keep operating without rules as they have for years,” said Paula Maccabee, attorney for the group WaterLegacy.

Current state water pollution regulations require sulfate discharges be limited to just 10 milligrams per liter of water, although those limits are under review by regulators and highly criticized by the state's mining industry. But a 2015 state law also prohibits the PCA from enforcing that sulfate limit until more research is conducted on its value.

Past testing showed Minntac emitting sulfate levels as high as 1,320 milligrams per liter, with an average of 954 milligrams per liter.

Taconite industry supporters have said the sulfate pollution is not impairing local waterways and that forcing taconite plants to further treat discharge would cost millions of dollars and would make Iron Range plants noncompetitive in an increasingly global iron and steel market.

Duluth News Tribune


Maritime Museum Speaker Series ends with tall ship experience

2/23 - Sturgeon Bay, Wis. – The Door County Maritime Museum’s Maritime Speaker Series will conclude for the season Thursday, March 2, when Mike Peters will recount his time crewing the tall ship Pride of Baltimore II and what’s involved in signing up for just such a voyage.

As with all the programs in the series, the presentation will be held at the museum in Sturgeon Bay beginning at 7 p.m. Admission is free with the donation of a non-perishable food item appreciated.

“The one type of vessel that has always fascinated me is the tall ship,” said Peters, who holds a 1,600-ton Master’s License for Power and Sail. He has sailed and raced boats of all sizes and types all over the world, but despite a resume that includes tug boats, research vessels and paddle wheelers, Peters said crewing a tall ship was something new.

“I first saw the Pride of Baltimore II in the 1990s while sailing into Florida’s Key West Truman Annex Harbor,” he remembers. “What a sight she was under full sail!”

He again saw her last summer when she visited Sturgeon Bay on her way to the Tall Ship Festival in Green Bay where a friend told him how a person could sail as guest crewmember. “So I applied online for a crew position,” he said. “As a guest you had the option of being totally involved in the operation of the vessel or just go along for the ride.”

Peters chose a 500-mile leg of the ship’s journey out of the Great Lakes, which involved a five-day passage from Marquette, Mich., to Lorain, Ohio.

Door County Maritime Museum


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.


Updates -  February 23

News Photo Gallery  


Mild winter will have little to no impact on lake levels

2/22 - Alpena, Mich. – To say this winter in Northeast Michigan has been mild would be an understatement, according to the National Weather Service.

For the most part snow has been scarce in the area and if the warm trend continues there will be little to thaw in the coming weeks. Meteorologist Mike Boguth said Monday the lack of snow likely will not have an impact on water levels in the Great Lakes.

Boguth said he doesn’t expect water levels to rise or fall significantly after winter ends. He said most snow in the area is a result of lake evaporation and when it snows streams and rivers redeposit it back into the lake.

Although Northeast Michigan is well below its average snowfall amounts, Boguth said precipitation totals aren’t that far out of line. He said there has been enough rain and snow to keep the lakes from slipping back into the low levels they saw a few years ago.

“We aren’t in any type of drought this winter and there has been very little evaporation of the lakes, so unless things were to change greatly, the lakes should be at or near what they were last year,” he said.

Boguth said the Great Lakes haven’t come close to freezing over and unless there is an unexpected and extended Arctic blast that plants itself over the state, it is unlikely they will accumulate much ice before spring. He said it is expected water temperatures will climb faster this year because of the lack of ice on them.

“We are almost at a record low for ice cover. There really isn’t any ice cover and we don’t see any extreme cold coming anytime soon,” Boguth said. “That means we just shouldn’t see that much ice generation.”

Boguth said this winter is an anomaly when historical snowfall and temperature data is reviewed. He said the area still will have some cold days and snow events, but overall this winter is one for the record books.

“Last winter was mild and we didn’t think we would be able to beat it,” he said. “We were wrong and now we expect this winter to be in the top 10 in terms of how many records were broke.”

Alpena News


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.


Meager ice cover on Lake Superior this winter

2/21 - Thunder Bay, Ont. – Most of Lake Superior remains ice-free at mid-February, which improves the chances of an early start to navigation this spring.

Data obtained by from The Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory in Ann Arbor, Mich., shows only 8.2 per cent of the largest great lake is currently ice-covered, which is virtually identical to the situation last year at the same time.

George Leshkevich, who manages the facility for the U.S. government's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, noted that "Last year was a strong El Nino year, and that seems to be kind of carrying over to this year, too, although maybe it's not as strong."

Leshkevich said any ice that has formed is essentially in bays and harbors along various parts of the shoreline, but "the rest is pretty much open water." It's in sharp contrast to Feb. 13, 2014 when nearly 95 per cent of Lake Superior wore a blanket of ice.

"We're seeing a lot more variability [in ice cover] now," he said. "We get a couple of severe years, then a couple of more mild years, and we've seen these swings since about 1998."

The average mid-February ice cover on Lake Superior over the past five decades has been about 37 per cent. In the spring of 2014, navigation opened in Thunder Bay several weeks later than normal due to the heavy ice cover.

But the amount of ice on Superior in any given winter has the potential to have impact beyond just shipping. It can also slow the arrival of warmer weather in spring, and may even affect fish spawning.

Soo Today


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.


Updates -  February 21

News Photo Gallery  


Tanker Thalassa Desgagnes sold, renamed

2/20 - The Desgagnes tanker Thalassa Desgagnes, retired last year and laid up at Montreal, has been sold to saltwater interests. She has been renamed Asphalt Princess. The vessel was built in 1976 in Norway.

Rene´ Beauchamp


Port Reports -  February 20

Sturgeon Bay, Wis.
At BayShip this past week, Walter J. McCarthy Jr. was removed from the graving dock and rafted outboard of the Edwin H. Gott. The tug Victory and the Calumet were towed into the graving dock.

Goderich, Ont. – Bruce Douglas
John B. Aird appears to have gone into layup at the north dock. Her AIS has been turned off.

Sarnia, Ont.
The tanker Algocanada arrived upbound on Sunday. She is moored astern of Algonova. Samuel Risley also arrived and tied up ahead of the Capt. Henry Jackman.

Montreal, Que.
Salarium has gone into layup.


Updates -  February 20

2017 Gathering Calendar 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.


Port Reports -  February 19

Goderich, Ont. – Bruce Douglas
John B. Aird remained at the north dock Saturday. Samuel Risley, which had been in port, was showing on AIS in the late evening off the Michigan shore south of Harbor Beach. A destination of Sarnia was showing on AIS.

St. Clair River
The tankers Algoma Hansa and Algonova were downbound on the St Clair River Saturday afternoon with a destination of Nanticoke, Ont.


Winter fleet repairs underway at Bay Shipbuilding

2/19 - Sturgeon Bay, Wis. – The winter repair season has begun at Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding with 16 vessels from the Great Lakes bulk carrier fleet in for winter repair. The vessels include five 1,000-foot bulk carriers, eight medium-size ships between 600 and 700 feet long, and three tugs.

The scope of the repairs is as wide as the variety of ships at dock. The repairs include vessel repowering from steam propulsion to diesel; steel and piping repairs; bulkhead renewals; machinery inspection and repairs; exhaust scrubber installation; painting; and, regulatory inspections, according to a news release from Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding.

The shipyard's recent expansion allows the company to provide services for a variety of vessels, the release said. The three-acre expansion to the now 55-acre shipyard included new manufacturing buildings and additional computer-aided manufacturing equipment. The shipyard is equipped with a 7000-ton floating dry-dock and two graving docks.

The repairs are time sensitive, said Todd Thayse, Fincantieri vice-president and shipyard general manager. “We have a very robust lineup of vessels that need to be ready to sail around mid-to-late March,” Thayse said.

“Our workforce here at FBS is well prepared for this yearly challenge, as many of these seasoned professionals have more than 20-years experience," Thayse added. "In fact, many have worked before on building some of the same vessels we now have in for repair. Our management team is focused on customer satisfaction, and we employ all of our assets on a 24-hour, seven-day week basis to ensure that we meet the critical deadline of each ship.”

In addition to the heavy schedule, Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding has six vessels under construction that will operate as articulated tug barge units. They are scheduled for delivery in 2017 and 2018.

Green Bay Press Gazette


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.


Seaway announces opening dates

2/18 - The opening of the 2017 navigation season is scheduled to take place on March 20 at 8 a.m.

Vessel transits will be subject to weather and ice conditions. Restrictions may apply in some areas until lighted navigation aids have been installed. Early ship traffic will be limited to a maximum draft of 26 feet, 3 inches in the Montreal/Lake Ontario section of the Seaway until the South Shore Canal is ice-free or April 15. The maximum draft then increases 3 inches through that section and the Welland Canal.

Opening of the Sault Ste. Marie locks is scheduled for March 25.


Port Reports -  February 18

Lake Huron – Bruce Douglas
John B. Aird tied up in the North Harbor Friday afternoon.


Duluth Seaway Port Authority’s Vanta Coda receives Distinguished Service Award

2/18 - Duluth, Minn. – In recognition for his leadership in the freight transportation and logistics field and contributions to leadership, mentorship and education of future leaders in private sector freight transportation, the Center for Transportation Studies (CTS) presented its 2017 William K. Smith Distinguished Service Award to Vanta Coda, executive director of the Duluth Seaway Port Authority.

The award was presented at the CTS annual meeting and awards luncheon on Feb. 15, in the McNamara Alumni Center on the University of Minnesota campus. The event enables CTS to thank individuals who volunteer their time in support of transportation research, education and engagement activities at the University of Minnesota and to acknowledge outstanding contributions of professionals and students. The Distinguished Service Award, first presented in 2002, is named in honor of William K. Smith, who served on the initial committee that established CTS and also on several CTS research and education councils until his death in 2001.

Coda has been the Port Authority’s executive director since October 2013, capping a career that spans more than 20 years in multimodal transportation and logistics. He currently serves as president for the Minnesota Ports Association and is an active member of the American Great Lakes Ports Association, the Chamber of Marine Commerce Board and the Minnesota Agri-Growth Council. Coda also serves on the University of Wisconsin-Superior Transportation and Logistics Advisory Board and the U.S. DOT Maritime Transportation System National Advisory Committee (MTSNAC).

Throughout his career, he has worked with customers across commodity groups including coal, aggregate, chemicals, petroleum, steel, wind generation and the heavy-lift sector. A graduate of the University of Kentucky, Coda began his career in Chicago in 1993 with the Illinois Central Railroad, becoming director of marketing and sales following its merger with CN. He went on to management positions with the Westlake Group of Companies, American Commercial Lines, Dynegy Inc., and served most recently as Director of Global Logistics for Nabors Industries in Houston.

The Duluth Seaway Port Authority


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.


Ice-breaking operations planned in Northern Green Bay and Little Bay De Noc

2/17 - Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. – U.S. Coast Guard reports ice breaking operations will take place today through Sunday in Northern Green Bay and Little Bay De Noc. The area of operations will be from Rock Island Passage north to Escanaba.

U.S. Coast Guard cutter Biscayne Bay will be conducting ice reconnaissance and training over the three-day period. All ice fishermen should remove their ice shacks and equipment from these areas. Snowmobile, All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) operators, and other recreational users of the ice should avoid shipping channels.


Canadian government seeking to sell ex-coast guard ship Tracy for $250,000

2/17 - Ottawa, Ont. – The federal government is trying to sell a decades-old former Coast Guard ship for as little as $250,000 despite spending $9-million on major repairs to the vessel only eight years ago.

The multi-tasked vessel, known as Canadian Coast Guard Ship (CCGS) Tracy while in service, is listed on the government’s website, where government-owned assets no longer deemed necessary are made available for purchase. The minimum price for the vessel, built in 1968, is $250,000. The closing date for bids is listed as March 1.

The sale comes after the former Conservative government awarded Quebec-based Verreault Navigation Inc. a $6.8-million contract in 2009 to conduct “major repairs” to the ship, then based in Quebec City.

Richard Beaupré, the firm’s president and chief operations officer, said in an interview on Feb. 15 that the number was actually just over $9-million. Fisheries and Oceans Canada did not immediately confirm the $9-million price tag for the repairs.

The Coast Guard in 2009 expected that the repairs would keep the vessel in service for the following 10 years. But only four years later, the Coast Guard had removed the CCGS Tracy from service.

Mr. Beaupré said he was “surprised” to see the vessel being shopped for so little considering the amount of money invested in repairs, though acknowledged that it wasn’t worth significantly more than the $250,000 price tag.

NDP MP and procurement critic Erin Weir (Regina-Lewvan, Sask.) told The Hill Times that he would ask the House Government Operations and Estimates Committee to investigate the prospective sale, saying it raises “very serious questions” about government decision-making.

Proper planning, he said, would have seen the ship sold in 2009 prior to repairs or it would “have been refurbished in such a way that it would be in service now.”

Frank Stanek, a spokesperson for Fisheries and Oceans Canada, which the Canadian Coast Guard falls under, said in a statement that the minimum bid price for the ship was the result of an independent appraisal that valued it at $250,000.

The 2009 repairs were necessary to “stop further deterioration” of existing equipment, modernize its systems, and “extend vessel life to meet regulatory and operational requirements,” he said, noting the final price tag also included “significant” unrecoverable labor costs.

The decision to sell off the vessel comes as the Coast Guard grapples with a problem-plagued program to replace its aging fleet of ships.

According to the GCSurplus website, the CCGS Tracy was removed from active service in 2013, and is currently resting at the dock of the Coast Guard base in Prescott, Ont., located some 90 kilometres from Ottawa, along the St. Lawrence River. The ship is described on the Coast Guard website as a “buoytender,” a vessel responsible for maintaining and replacing buoys, which are navigational floating devices.

In addition to its age, capability, and condition, Mr. Stanek said the decision to remove the ship from service in the winter of 2012 resulted from a government initiative that reduced the Canadian Coast Guard’s workload in servicing certain types of navigational aids.

Mr. Stanek agreed the Coast Guard is in need of more ships. But the needed ships are “modern, multi-taskable ships,” and the CCGS Tracy “is a buoytender and did not meet these criteria. An investment in an aging vessel with limited capabilities is not sustainable or desirable and does not support the multi-taskable nature of the fleet needed to deliver our mandate.”


Port Reports -  February 17

Detroit, Mich.
John B. Aird tied up in the Rouge River Thursday to unload salt.


Michigan Rep. Chatfield introduces resolution to promote new Soo Lock

2/17 - A Northern Michigan state representative is behind the latest attempt to promote building a new shipping lock in the Soo. Last week state representative Lee Chatfield introduced a resolution calling for action from the federal government.

Congress approved the building of a twin to the Poe Lock in Sault Ste. Marie back in the 1980s, but never funded the project.

"For too long politicians have been talking about funding this dating all the way back to 1986 when we realized the need for an additional Soo Lock to be built," Rep. Chatfield said. "I think it's time that we stop talking about it and start funding it."

It may be the off-season for shipping, but the push to build a new Soo Lock is stronger than ever. Chatfield's resolution is the latest attempt to build momentum. "The construction of an additional Soo Lock is a priority of ours and we want to make that known formally to the President," Rep. Chatfield said.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says they must complete a cost benefit ratio first. A previous ratio took into account that goods going through the locks could be moved by other transportation, like train or truck.

"I think the assumption in the past was that there were alternatives, fairly transparent and fairly quick alternatives to navigation," U.S. Army Corps of Engineers branch chief of operations Jim Peach said. "That really isn't true."

Studies from both the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Treasury Department indicate the economic benefits would far outweigh the hefty $700 million price tag. "The cost benefit ratio after this reassessment will be different," Peach said.

Rep. Chatfield says the next step is bringing experts to testify to the Committee on Commerce and getting legislators from other Midwest states on board. "I think it's important to coalesce other states around us to introduce and pass similar resolutions where Congress knows we're serious about this," said Rep. Chatfield.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers expects to have the cost benefit ratio completed by December.

9 & 10 News


Coast Guard urges extreme caution on ice, water as warm temperatures approach

2/17 - Cleveland, Ohio – The Coast Guard is warning that warmer temperatures predicted to overtake the Great Lakes region beginning Friday could pose safety concerns for those planning to recreate on or near ice or cold water.

Unseasonably warm air temperatures will cause frozen waters to melt at an alarming rate and may cause misperceptions about Great Lakes water temperatures, which will remain dangerously cold, posing safety concerns for anyone venturing onto the lakes.

Ice is unpredictable and the thickness can vary, even in small areas. Warm temperatures and currents, particularly around narrow spots, bridges, inlets and outlets, are always suspect for thin ice. Stay away from cracks, seams, pressure ridges, slushy areas and darker areas since these signify thinner ice. In addition, ice near shore of a frozen lake may be unsafe and weaker because of shifting, expansion, wind and sunlight reflecting from the bottom.

The Coast Guard urges everyone to use common sense and reminds people who venture out onto melting and weakening ice that they are not only putting their own lives in danger, but the lives of first responders.



Today in Great Lakes History -  February 17

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.


New Soo Lock construction brings potential for hundreds of local jobs

2/16 - Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. – Michigan Representative Lee Chatfield says building a new Soo Lock would not only benefit national security and economy, but also create local jobs. It's estimated building a new lock would create as many as 250 jobs in the area.

The Economic Development Corporation in Sault Ste. Marie says it would be huge. The type of contracting and construction jobs would be quality jobs, and last for years.

"In our community we have a tremendous amount of folks that have contracting abilities and skills, a lot of carpentry-able bodies and we feel that we can handle it," Economic Development Corporation executive director Jeff Holt said. "The community really needs this."

The EDC says they're working closely with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to be prepared to fill jobs if Congress decides to fund a new Soo Lock.

9&10 News


Michigan Gov. Snyder urges support building second Poe-sized Lock

2/16 - Cleveland, Ohio – Michigan Governor Rick Snyder (R) has sent a list of projects that will benefit the nation to the National Governors Association (NGA) and a second Poe-sized lock at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, tops the list. The NGA collected priorities from all the governors and then forwarded them to the White House.

The Soo Locks connect Lake Superior to the lower four Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway and are one of the nation’s most economically vital systems. Year in, year out, more than 80 million tons of cargo transit the Soo Locks, and most of that tonnage moves through the Poe Lock. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) considers it a potential single point of failure in the crucial iron mining – steel production – manufacturing supply chain. So important is the Poe Lock that DHS forecasts nearly 11 million Americans would lose their jobs if the Poe Lock was out of service for just 6 months.

The lock is estimated to cost $672 million and would create approximately 15,000 construction jobs during the 10-year construction period.

Construction of a second Poe-sized lock was authorized in the Water Resources Development Act of 1986, but an inaccurate analysis of the benefit/cost (b/c) ratio has stalled the project. The mistaken assumption that the railroads could move the stranded cargo set the b/c ratio at 0.73, but a recent study by the U.S. Department of Treasury estimates the b/c ratio could be as high as 4.0. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has acknowledged that the current b/c ratio is flawed and a new analysis is due by year’s end.

Lake Carriers’ Association


St. Clair Power Plant to be fully restored by July

2/16 - St. Clair, Mich. – DTE Energy officials have said the fire-damaged St. Clair Power Plant in Michigan should be fully restored by July, the Times Herald reported. The coal-fired plant was shut down last August after a fire that lasted nearly 24 hours caused serious damage to the plant’s roof and interior.

Though the repairs, testing, cleaning and inspection of the plant’s power generation equipment, operating systems and infrastructure have been ongoing, the plant was able to resume partial power generation later that year.

St. Clair, along with seven other plants operated by DTE, are scheduled to close between 2020 and 2023. DTE plans to build a $1 billion gas plant next to the current Belle River Power plant in East China for operations in 2022, though the utility needs to go through state regulations and approvals.

Power Engineering


Port Reports -  February 16

Lake Huron
John B. Aird was loading salt on Wednesday.


See historic photos of WWII submarine and its voyage across Lake Michigan

2/16 - This August, the U.S.S. Silversides SS 236 will be celebrating its 30th year docked in Muskegon. The submarine was originally docked at Navy Pier in Chicago after its service in World War II. In 1987 the submarine made the voyage across Lake Michigan to where it currently resides in the Muskegon Channel.

View a photo story here:


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.


When Copper Harbor Light went dark, it sparked a 6-hour Coast Guard mission

2/15 - Keweenaw Peninsula – Kevin Desautels and Seth Honemann were in Duluth, Minn. when they received notice that the Copper Harbor Light had gone out. Despite heavy snowfall from the night before, the petty officers for the U.S. Coast Guard set out to restore power at the lighthouse located in northeastern Keweenaw County.

Desautels and Honemann drove five hours in lake effect snow that December morning to arrive in Copper Harbor, according to a U.S. Coast Guard Facebook post detailing the mission. Arriving at an unplowed road leading up to the lighthouse, the duo suited up in full climbing gear and hiked more than a mile in about 36 inches of snow.

The light wasn't extinguished, but was not receiving power. With the help of a local electrician, the group replaced bad fuses in the transformer and restored the light's power.

The lighthouse was originally built in the mid-1800s to assist in the transport of copper from the Upper Peninsula. It now houses a museum about the lighthouse and Lake Superior maritime history, and is a designated Michigan State Historic Site.

View photos and a map at this link:


Port Reports -  February 15

Lake Huron
John B. Aird was downbound east of the Mackinaw Bridge Tuesday night heading¬¬ for Goderich.


Rand Logistics reports third quarter fiscal year 2017 financial results

2/15 - Jersey City, N.J. – Rand Logistics, Inc., a leading provider of bulk freight shipping services throughout the Great Lakes region, on Monday announced its financial results for the fiscal year 2017 third quarter ended Dec. 31, 2016. Here are some highlights of the quarter ended Dec. 31, 2016 versus the quarter ended Dec. 31, 2015.

Financial Results
• Total sailing days were 1,281 compared to 1,292 in the prior year period. • Freight (RAIL) and related revenue generated from company-operated vessels (which excludes fuel and other surcharges) remained relatively flat at $35.9 million compared to $35.9 million during the year ago period.

• Freight and related revenue per sailing day increased $190, or 0.7%, to $27,998 compared to $27,808 per sailing day in the year ago period.

• Vessel operating expenses decreased $2.2 million, or 8.8%, to $22.2 million compared to $24.4 million during the year ago period. Vessel operating expenses per sailing day decreased $1,512, or 8.0%, to $17,350 from $18,862.

• Vessel margin per day increased $2,108, or 21.0%, from $10,027 in the prior year period to $12,135 this quarter.

• EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization) increased $2.4 million, or 26.7%, to $11.4 million from $9.0 million during the year ago period.

• Net loss was $0.6 million, or $0.03 per share on a fully diluted basis, compared to a net loss of $4.2 million, or $0.23 per share, in the prior year period.

Here are some highlights of the nine months ended Dec. 31, 2016 versus nine months ended Dec. 31, 2015.

Financial Results
• Total sailing days were 3,435 compared to 3,798 in the prior year period.

• Freight and related revenue generated from company-operated vessels (which excludes fuel and other surcharges) decreased $12.2 million, or 10.3%, to $106.5 million compared to $118.7 million during the year ago period.

• Freight and related revenue per sailing day decreased $260, or 0.8%, to $31,001 compared to $31,261 during the nine-month period ended Dec. 31, 2015.

• Vessel operating expenses decreased $17.9 million, or 22.1%, to $63.1 million compared to $81.0 million during the year ago period. Vessel operating expenses per Sailing Day decreased $2,947, or 13.8%, to $18,368 from $21,315.

• Vessel margin per day increased $994, or 7.9%, from $12,586 in the prior year period to $13,580 in the nine-month period ended December 31, 2016.

• EBITDA, before restructuring charges and impairment charges on a retired vessel, decreased $0.7 million, or 1.9%, to $36.4 million from $37.1 million during the prior year period.

• Net loss was $1.0 million, or $0.05 per share on a fully diluted basis, compared to net income of $10.0 million, or $0.54 per share, in the year ago period.

"We were generally pleased with our operating and financial performance in both our fiscal 2017 third quarter and the 2016 sailing season," said Ed Levy, president and CEO of Rand. "Improving demand conditions in the quarter ended Dec. 31, 2016, including incremental business generated from both new and existing customers, helped to drive a 26.7% increase in EBITDA, bringing year to date EBITDA near to the prior year level.

“We achieved our 2016 sailing season results while sailing 363, or 9.6%, fewer days and carrying 6.7% less tons versus the 2015 season. We successfully offset weak demand for certain of the commodities we transport and the continued weakness in the Canadian dollar through effective operating cost controls and aggressive management of our vessel capacity. These initiatives resulted in an increase in vessel margin per day of 7.9%, or $994, on a year over year basis.

“In January 2017, we operated for approximately 125 sailing days, which was an increase of 48.8% compared with 84 days sailed in January 2016.

“We are finalizing our nominations for the upcoming sailing season. Consistent with the last four months, we believe that demand will be firmer this year versus last year at this time. Many of our customers are expressing a higher confidence level in their business and are indicating that their requirements for the upcoming sailing season are based on orders that they have already been awarded versus their expectation of demand.” Levy concluded,

“Our intention for the 2017 sailing season is to continue to drive efficiencies by managing our capacity and operating expenses. This will position us to leverage vessel margin per day with improvements in the demand environment.”


Historian turns childhood interest into book on Great Lakes freighters

2/15 - Power is clear in every curve and edge of the freighters that smoothly cut through the blue-gray waters of the Great Lakes. It is not an unfamiliar sight to those living within view of the shipping industry that plays such a key role in the region’s economy.

And it is one that fascinated Frank Boles, who grew up in Lincoln Park, Michigan, and fed his interest in large cargo ships during childhood trips to Bishop Park on the Detroit River.

“I realized early on that I did not have the stomach to be a good sailor,” Boles said. “Roller coasters persuaded me of that. I admired them from afar.” That admiration turned into motivation to write “Sailing into History: Great Lakes Bulk Carriers of the Twentieth Century and the Crews Who Sailed Them,” a book about the history of 20th century Great Lakes freighters.

“It’s something that’s always interested me, watching the Great Lakes freighters at work,” Boles said. “Growing up by the lakes watching them sail by, I always wondered how they worked.”

This book was a way of answering that question, said Boles, the director of Central Michigan University’s Clarke Historical Library since 1991. He has also worked as an archivist with the Chicago Historical Museum and University of Michigan’s Bentley Historical Library. Five years ago is when he got serious about researching the boats, and that turned into “Sailing into History.”

“Sailing into History” covers the length of the 20th century. It does not focus on a specific ship or incident like many books about Great Lakes ships. Instead it describes the history and roles of the crew, the ships and their cargo, using examples to highlight the patterns Boles noticed in the course of his research.

“It’s a great story, and I think it’s a story that gets told in sections, one ship or one shipwreck,” Boles said. “But I think it’s important to give people an overview—what the challenges were, the rewards, what it was like for the people who made this all happen for us.”

Giving people an accurate idea of what life was like on those ships was one of his main motivators as he wrote. Boles said the lives of the crews aren’t often accurately represented in public literature. There’s a focus on the crew having fun and enjoying the camaraderie, but the difficulties they face aren’t covered as much. A writer might take a ride for a week in the summer months and love it, Boles said, but it’s a different experience from what the crews are living, months on the same ship with the same group of people.

“We romanticize it. It’s a hard job, and I don’t think we often recognize or give the crews credit for what they do,” Boles said. “In many ways it’s like living like a blue collar factory worker in 1940s Detroit without the benefit of going home at the end of the night. Even today, much of the work is hard. They have to do tough jobs, and they often have to do it in conditions that are hard. The boat sets off regardless of the weather, the conditions, whether it’s cold, and you’re going to be on that boat, on the deck somewhere helping it happen.”

Boles does not have any concrete plans for another book yet, although he is interested in writing one on Michigan’s bridges and tunnels.

Boles’s “Sailing into History: Great Lakes Bulk Carriers of the Twentieth Century and the Crews Who Sailed Them” is available from Michigan State University Press in hardcover for $39.95.


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.


Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor has best three-year run in history

2/14 - Tonnage declined by about 7 percent at the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor last year, but it was still the port's third-best year in the last decade. The deepwater port on Lake Michigan handled 2.6 million tons of cargo in 2016, down from 2.8 million tons in 2015. More than 8.6 million tons of cargo have passed through the port since 2014, the best three-year run in its 52-year history.

"Fourth-quarter shipments were especially strong for us and included two export ships of Indiana grain, raw materials for the steel industry as well as several large-dimensional cargoes," Port Director Rick Heimann said.

Last year, the port invested $2.5 million in infrastructure projects, including dredging, the replacement of 2,000 feet of railroad track and the addition of more docks for handling international vessels. Tenant company Ratner Steel is investing $8 million at the port to add 100,000 more square feet to its service center there.

"Watching the Ratner Steel expansion take shape is especially encouraging because it further demonstrates that by using the port's strategic location and multimodal capabilities, a company can gain a competitive advantage and grow its business," Heimann said.

The port saw a 25 percent jump in heavy lift cargoes, including wind tower blades, storage tanks and large cranes from Europe for intermodal yards across the Midwest. Gain shipments shot up 57 percent, mineral and oil shipments rose by 19 percent and coal increased by 11 percent.

NWI Times


Algoma applies for coasting license for Michigan / Great Lakes combo

2/14 - Algoma Central Corporation has applied to the Canadian Transportation Agency for a coasting license to use the U.S.-flagged tug/barge Michigan / Great Lakes. The application states that they want to make up to four trips carrying Imperial Oil products between Sarnia and Nanticoke (in either direction) and / or to Sault Ste. Marie between the dates of Feb.27-March 26. Each load would be up to 10,100 cubic meters of clean product. Algoma cites a lack of available Canadian-flagged ships and certain draft and dock requirements at the Imperial Oil facilities. Canada's Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness may grant a coasting license to a foreign-flagged vessel if no suitable Canadian-flagged vessel is available.

Mac Mackay


Port Reports -  February 14

Lake Michigan
John B. Aird was unloading salt in Milwaukee Monday. She was on her way back up the lake by late evening. Her AIS destination had not been updated.


Madeline Island Ferry Line will keep running all winter

2/14 - Bayfield, Wis. – For only the fourth time in 160 years, and the third time in the past six years, the Madeline Island Ferry Line will keep hauling people and vehicles from Bayfield to La Pointe all winter long. The continuing warm and low-ice winter will keep the ferry operating as the only viable means to get from the Wisconsin mainland to Madeline Island in Lake Superior.

Usually by mid-January, the 250 residents and visitors can drive vehicles across safe ice. But this year’s winter has offered little if any ice, and it was never safe enough to drive.

The ferry line posted on its Facebook page recently that they are “anticipating normal ferry operations will continue for the remainder of the winter. Please be aware that drifting and shoving ice or weather conditions may require temporary schedule reductions.”

The lack of ice and year-round season is bad news for the ferry line, which has historically used their off-season to make repairs and maintenance on its boats. Residents also enjoyed the free-of-cost and go-when-you-want crossings on the ice. But not this year.

In the fiercely cold winter of 2013-14, the ferry service was stopped by ice on Jan. 1. But in 2012 and again in 2016, the ferry operated all winter — the ice never got thick enough for vehicles to drive on. That also happened in 1998-99, Ross said. It had never happened in the 141 years before that.

U.S. and Canadian monitoring agencies on Monday show the Great Lakes about 13 percent ice-covered, far below normal, with only about 10 percent of Lake Superior covered by any ice at all. Last winter about 60 percent of the lakes were covered by ice at peak, about the long-term normal.

Strong winds in recent weeks also have helped reduce ice cover, breaking up any ice that had formed.

This winter was supposed to be dominated by a La Nina cooling of Pacific waters, which often means colder than normal in parts of the Midwest. But that hasn't happened at all in the Northland. So far this winter has been above normal each month — 14.1 degrees in November, 1.1 degrees warmer in December, 5.8 warmer degrees in January and 1.5 degrees warmer in February so far — with above normal temperatures forecasted for at least the next week. The National Climate Prediction Center is forecasting a 70-80 percent chance of warmer than normal temperatures for the rest of February for the entire eastern half of the U.S., including the Northland.

A study released in 2012 found a 71 percent reduction in Great Lakes ice cover from 1973 to 2010, thanks to longer autumns, earlier springs and warmer winters. Annual Lake Superior ice cover declined 79 percent over that period.

A 2007 study by a Bayfield student and based on Madeline Island ferry records found 45 fewer days of ice cover on average than in 1857, the year Bayfield was founded and freeze records began. Ice cover has been declining at an average of one-third day each year. From 1982 to 2007, the decline reached one day less ice cover each year. If that pace continued, there would be, in an average winter, no solid winter ice between Bayfield and La Pointe after 2037.

Duluth News Tribune


Ice-free Lake Erie takes toll on fishing, beaches

2/14 - Lake Erie is mostly open water this winter. Ice covered just 5.6 percent of the lake surface and 12.5 percent of all of the Great Lakes last Friday, according to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. And higher-than-normal temperatures will have chipped away at that. There are and will be consequences.

Ice concentrations significantly below the 1973-2014 winter average of 52.4 percent have all but eliminated ice fishing this winter, will affect the weather through early spring and will increase erosion at Presque Isle State Park.

"With the warmer winters we've had the last two years, we're going to have more erosion and are going to have to do a lot more to make the beaches usable in certain sections of the park," Presque Isle State Park Operations Manager Matt Greene said.

Lake ice, and ice dunes, help protect the beaches and beach habitats. With no dunes and only surface ice close to the shore this winter, that ice, rather than protecting the beaches, can scour away areas where it's pushed by waves and wind, Greene said.

Areas of the park from Beach 6 to the Presque Isle Lighthouse are hardest hit by erosion because of prevailing winds from the west and northwest, and park officials are seeing that this winter, Greene said. Wind and wave-buffeted Mill Road beaches "don't exist right now," he said. "We've moved all of the picnic tables back, and lost a few there."

Park officials added sand at Beach 8 and Mill Road this past fall to supplement a smaller-than-normal 2016 replacement project. The park put down between half and two-thirds the sand it normally does because of a lack of federal funding.

"If we hadn't done that in the fall, the (shoreline) would be into the road right now," Greene said.

Open waters have also taken a toll on ice fishing. The sport is dependent on ice that is thick enough to walk on, and there hasn't been a lot of that this season.

With the lakes largely free of ice, lake-effect snow could be possible through early spring. Lake-effect snow occurs when cold air draws warmth and moisture from lake waters, forming clouds and heavy snow.


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.


Port Reports -  February 13

Lake Michigan
John B. Aird was downbound off Wisconsin’s Door Peninsula Sunday night with salt for Milwaukee.


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

Lake Huron – Bruce Douglas
John B. Aird cleared Goderich about 8 a.m. Saturday laden with salt, destination Milwaukee.


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.


ArcelorMittal turns first annual profit since 2011

2/11 - Chicago, Ill. – Steelmaker ArcelorMittal reported annual earnings of $1.8 billion last year, the first annual profit it's had since 2011.

The Luxembourg-based steelmaker, one of the Calumet Region's largest employers, had lost $7.9 billion in 2015 and hadn't turned an annual profit in five years. ArcelorMittal ended the year on a strong note with a $809 million profit in the fourth quarter.

“2016 was a year of progress for ArcelorMittal, characterized by improving market conditions, a strong contribution from our Action 2020 program and steps from governments to address unfair trade," Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Lakshmi Mittal said. "As a result, (revenue) was comfortably in excess of initial expectations and, furthermore, we have delivered on our commitment to prioritize debt reduction, significantly strengthening our balance sheet and ending the year with the lowest level of net debt since the creation of the company."

Part of ArcelorMittal's 2016 profit was the result of $832 million in one-time savings from employee benefits after it signed a new labor contract with its U.S. workers last year, including nearly 20,000 in Northwest Indiana.

NWI Times


Port Reports -  February 11

Lake Huron
John B. Aird was loading salt at Goderich on Friday.


Cleveland port hires design team to envision transformation of Irishtown Bend

2/11 - Cleveland, Ohio – The Port of Cleveland took a big step Thursday toward shaping a new vision for the crumbling Irishtown Bend hillside, which could become a 17-acre park on the Cuyahoga River with superlative skyline views and links to the Towpath Trail and Whiskey Island on Lake Erie.

The port board voted Thursday morning to appoint a design team for the project, led by the Cleveland office of the engineering firm of Michael Baker International, with the San Francisco-based landscape architecture firm of CMG.

Read more and view images at this link:


Coast Guard, locals save 2 from Portage Lake on Keweenaw Peninsula

2/11 - Houghton, Mich. – Rescue crews from Coast Guard Station Portage, Mich., and the Houghton County Fire Department saved two people after they broke through ice on Portage Lake on the Keweenaw Peninsula in Lake Superior, Friday.

Coast Guard Sector Sault Ste. Marie received a report from Houghton County Emergency Dispatch at about 1:35 p.m. that two persons had broken through ice near the west entrance of Breaker’s Beach on Lake Portage in Houghton County, Mich.

Sector Sault Ste. Marie launched Station Portage's ice rescue team. Houghton County Fire Department and local EMS also responded.

Both persons were able to extricate themselves from the water, but remained trapped on weak ice. By about 2:15 p.m., Houghton County Fire Department personnel saved one man while the Coast Guard ice rescue team saved one woman. The woman suffered minor injuries and was transported by Houghton County EMS to Portage Health Hospital and is in stable condition.

The Coast Guard urges everyone to use caution while enjoying the outdoors. Varying levels of ice thickness are common throughout the Great Lakes region and weather conditions play a major role in the types of ice you may encounter.



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.


Cliffs profits bounce back with iron ore demand

2/10 - Duluth, Minn. – Cliff’s Natural Resources, the nation's largest supplier of taconite iron ore, rode the recovering domestic steel industry back to profitability in 2016, posting a net income of $199 million compared to a net loss of $748 million in 2015. The Cleveland-based company on Thursday announced its revenues were $754 million last year, up 58 percent over a crippling 2015.

In the fourth quarter of 2016 Cliffs recorded a net income of $81 million, up from a net loss of $58 million for the last quarter the year before, according to the company's quarterly report issued Thursday.

The company sold 6.9 million tons of taconite in the final quarter of 2016, a 53 percent increase over the same period in 2015 “a result of improved steel market conditions driving increased pellet demand and new customer’’ contracts, the company said in its report.

CEO Lourenco Goncalves predicted Thursday that the domestic steel and iron ore industries will continue to improve in 2017, noting the price of hot rolled steel has jumped from $490 per ton to $630 per ton over the past three months – showing demand is up even as production increases.

Cliffs credited tough U.S. sanctions on foreign-government-subsidized steel that regulators agreed was being “dumped’’ below cost into the country. With that flow of foreign steel slowed, demand for U.S.-made steel increased, and so did demand for its basic ingredient — taconite iron ore.

The company raised its projected 2017 revenues from $530 to $850 million based on improved sales, projecting sales of 19 million tons of Minnesota and Michigan taconite, a hefty increase over 2016.

That Cliffs has bounced-back is no surprise to most Northlanders who had watched the company's operations slow and even close in 2015, with hundreds of workers laid off, and then reopen and return to near full production last year — including NorthShore Mining in Silver Bay/Babbitt and United Taconite in Eveleth/Forbes. The company also operates and is part owner of Hibbing Taconite and owns and operates the Tilden operations in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Goncalves on Thursday said his company is in solid shape to withstand any pressure from a potentially revived Magnetation iron ore operations or even the completion of the former Essar Steel Minnesota project, saying he has locked-up contracts for several years – namely with AK Steel, ArcelorMittal and Algoma Steel – all companies that Magnetation and Essar had hoped to sell to. Goncalves said he’s also landed another new customer, ArcelorMittal Canada.

Goncalves also said the reopening of Keetac operations in Keewatin by U.S. Steel won’t impact his company's production even though U.S. Steel said it planned to sell Keetac’s production on the open market, not use it in its own steel mills, at least in the short term.

“I’m having a hard time trying to determine where U.S. Steel is going to sell those pellets,’’ Goncalves said.

Goncalves, who wasn’t shy about opposing Donald Trump as a presidential candidate, on Thursday said Trump’s “America first’’ trade policies will help his company in 2017.

“President Trump delivers a message that’s positive for Cliffs… and our customers, domestic steel mills,’’ Goncalves said, adding that. 2017 “will be a good year for Cliffs.”

Cliffs’ stock price has made a remarkable resurgence of late, following its sales and profits, hitting $11.18 per share Thursday morning, up from $9.52 on Wednesday and a low of $1.67 early in 2016. (It’s still nowhere near the $80 per share seen in 2012 before the global iron ore market crashed in 2014.)

Iron ore prices have indeed rebounded globally, nearly doubling from just over $40 one year ago to about $80 today. While U.S. iron ore demand is less tied to the global market, which is dominated by China, it does impact sales for companies like Cliffs that sell all of their product to other companies rather than using it in their own steel mills.

“We finally have sanity back in the seaborne iron ore market,’’ Goncalves told industry analysts during Thursday’s financial report conference call.

Duluth News Tribune


Disabled Thorco Crown tow arrives in North Sydney

2/10 - The disabled freighter Thorco Crown arrived safely in North Sydney Thursday night. According to the site Marine Traffic, the tugs Svitzer Bedford was on the bow while Kaliutik was on the stern.

The Thorco Crown became disabled after a fire in the engine room Tuesday when it was passing through the Strait of Bell Isle. It was about 32 nautical miles (59 kilometres) from Port aux Basques at the time. The ship was supposed to be towed by a private tug on Wednesday, but rough seas hindered efforts to connect the tow cable.

The Canadian Coast Guard ship Sir William Alexander was finally able to connect the line to the Thorco Crown on Thursday morning. It was being towed to Sydney, N.S., and was about 24 nautical miles (44 kilometres) from Sydney Harbor as of 3 p.m.

DFO estimated the cargo ship would arrive at port in Sydney at 8:30 p.m. NT.



Port Reports -  February 10

Lake Huron
John B. Aird was loading salt at Goderich on Thursday.


Come hell or high water: Can Great Lakes shipping make resurgence?

2/10 - Chicago, Ill. – Sitting at his desk in his Gold Coast apartment, Mike Couzens often gazes out his window toward the east. He looks out beyond the bustle of cars on Lake Shore Drive, beyond the leisure boats cruising along the shores of Lake Michigan.

“And beyond that even further — you really need a good pair of binoculars to make them out — are boats that look like shipping boats,” he says.

Mike happens to own a good pair of binoculars. He works as a play-by-play announcer for ESPN, and he uses them to watch basketball games from the announcer’s box. Yet he hasn’t been able to discern much about the mysterious boats in the distance. “They’re too far away,” he says.

The nagging uncertainty led him to bring his questions to Curious City: What are these ships carrying? How much cargo is transported on Lake Michigan these days, and how does it compare to the past? Mike has some hunches. Last year he visited the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, where he saw iron ore being loaded onto ships.

“So my guess is, it might be some type of natural resource that’s getting mined in one area and shipped to another,” he says. But he also suspects that new modes of transportation have made maritime transit less critical.

“I would imagine now that you have a highway that can get you from one spot on Lake Michigan to another, there’s just not quite as much of a need to move things across the lake that way,” he says.

Mike is onto something. The Great Lakes once played a critical role in turning the United States into an industrial behemoth, but they’ve been suffering for decades from the shocks of an evolving and increasingly global economy.

And today, amid surging calls to revive America’s industrial might, the choppy waters of Lake Michigan just might be poised for a comeback.

Read more and view photos at this link:


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.


Rough seas hinder tow of cargo ship broken down off southwest Newfoundland

2/9 - The cargo ship which has been disabled and floating off the southwestern coast of Newfoundland since Tuesday was still waiting to be towed Wednesday night. The motor vessel Thorco Crown has been adrift since a fire in the engine room stopped it from moving about 32 nautical miles off the coast of Port aux Basques. Rough seas

The owners of the Antigua and Burbuda-registered ship called a private tow company to come assist, and it arrived Wednesday morning. However, rough sea conditions made it too difficult to attach the towline, and the tug is still on scene waiting for conditions to improve.

Canadian Coast Guard Ship Sir William Alexander has been there monitoring the situation since the mayday call on Tuesday.

As of Wednesday evening, the Thorco Crown was 9.5 nautical miles (17.6 km) northwest of Cape Ray, and Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) said wind conditions were continuing to push the ship further from land.

The Thorco Crown was en route to Montreal when the fire and breakdown happened, and had just left from dropping off cargo in Argentia. A dock worker told CBC that the cargo contained drill pipe for the Hebron oil project, and that it had left port for Montreal around 9 p.m. Sunday evening.

13 crewmembers are still on the 13-year-old ship, and DFO says no safety concerns or environmental impacts have been observed.



Port Reports -  February 9

Lake Huron
John B. Aird arrived at Goderich to load salt late Wednesday afternoon.


Lake  Huron water levels defy the odds: stay above normal

2/9 - Manitoulin Island – Lake Huron has done it again—posted above average water levels throughout January and into the beginning of February, despite the lack of ice cover or precipitation.

According to Derrick Beach, editor of Environment Canada’s LEVELNews, lakes Michigan and Huron were 18 centimetres above the January monthly average of 176.4 metres and by the beginning of February, 22 centimetres above average for this time of year.

“Comparing to last year, Lake Huron is six centimetres below (last year’s figures),” Beach said, noting the dry fall and winter to date. However, “on average, the lake will fall three centimetres in January—but this year, it’s actually risen one centimetre in January,” Beach added.

Even though there is only 10 percent ice coverage on the whole of the Great Lakes, the conditions for evaporation have not been great because of the prolonged absence of sunny days—good news for Lake Huron. Beach explained that fluctuating temperatures are needed for evaporation, which hasn’t been seen.

“This puts us pretty close to where we were last year,” Beach said. “And sets us up for another above-average spring.”

Manitoulin Expositor


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.


Freighter sells for record US $13.98 million in online auction

2/8 - A freighter belonging to a bankrupt shipyard has been sold for 96 million yuan (US $13.98 million) in online judicial sale, thus becoming the most expensive ship ever sold at an online auction in China, Shanghai Maritime Court said today.

The Nantong Minde Heavy Industry Co, based in Jiangsu Province, had made the ship for a Canadian buyer (Algoma Central Corp.). But the shipyard went bankrupt in July 31, 2015, when the ship (likely the CWB Strongfield) was just being completed. The buyer then cancelled the order, the court said.

Later, local court asked Shanghai Maritime Court to initiate its sale. The auction was started on on January 26, and the ship was sold to a Singaporean.

Shanghai Daily


World’s oldest working fireboat breaks up ice on Buffalo River

2/8 - Buffalo, N.Y. – A piece of Buffalo history was out on the Buffalo River Monday. The fireboat Edward M. Cotter was breaking up some sheets of ice. Officials say they are staying on top of Tuesday’s expected warm-up.

The Edward M. Cotter is considered the world’s oldest working fireboat. View a video at this link:



Cargo ship disabled off southwestern Newfoundland following engine room fire

2/8 - The Canadian Coast Guard was called to assist a disabled cargo ship Tuesday about 32 nautical miles off the coast of Port aux Basques. The Thorco Crown, a 13-year-old vessel, registered to Antigua and Barbuda, was en route to Montreal from Argentia when it issued a mayday call due to a fire in the engine room.

The ship was passing through the Cabot Strait area at the time. According to Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the fire was extinguished but the ship had become disabled.

The coast guard said there was no immediate danger to the crew, vessel or environment. However, an environmental response team was on site watching the situation. The vessel is being monitored by the Canadian Coast Guard ship Sir William Alexander and the Joint Rescue Centre Halifax, and the owners of the Thorco Crown have hired the tug Svitzer Bedford to tow her to Port-aux-Basques on Wednesday, according to INNAV.

The Thorco Crown is a merchant cargo ship with a crew of 13 and is not currently carrying cargo, according to DFO. It transited the Seaway many times under the name Victoria.

CBC News, Rene´ Beauchamp


Port Reports -  February 8

Lake Huron
John B. Aird passed through the Straits Tuesday afternoon bound for Sarnia for fuel. She has another Goderich-Milwaukee salt load scheduled and perhaps another salt load to Detroit before laying up for the winter. Algoma Transport arrived at Sarnia Tuesday evening for lay up. She was assisted by the tug Pride.


Great Lakes water level forecasts for this summer

2/8 - C The lake level forecast for the Great Lakes this summer generally shows most of the Great Lakes are expected to be a few inches lower than last year’s peak water level.

The forecast is available at this link:


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.


Lake Superior January decline less than usual

2/7 - Duluth, Minn. – The level of Lake Superior dropped 2 inches in January, an inch less than usual, according to the International Lake Superior Board of Control. The big lake received more water than usual for January and now sits 6 inches above its long-term average for Feb. 1 but 3 inches below the level at this time in 2016.

Lakes Michigan-Huron also received more water than usual and remained stable in January, a month they usually drop an inch. The lakes now sit 8 inches above the long-term average for Feb. 1 but 2 inches below their level at this time last year.

Duluth News Tribune


Port Reports -  February 7

Lake Michigan
John B. Aird was upbound Monday night with a destination of Sarnia, likely for winter layup. She is due there at 8 a.m. Wednesday.


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.


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.


Alpena resident new International Shipmasters president

2/5 - Alpena, Mich. – It’s been 13 years since the last time the International Shipmaster Association visited Alpena. This time it was to install Alpena resident Capt. Lee Barnhill as grand president for the upcoming year.

Northeast Michigan Lodge 19 hosted the 127th annual conference at the Ramada Inn which had Marine Corps League #1327 begin the event with the presentation of colors. Following this the newly elected officers were installed.

With his family watching, Barnhill took the association’s oath and assumed the position of grand president. A 20-year resident of Alpena, Barnhill said he looked forward to continuing the traditions and professionalism of the group.

“It’s such an honor to be elected to the highest office,” Barnhill said. “It’s has to be the highest honor that I’ve had in my life so far.”

Also being sworn in were Grand First Vice President Harrold Dusseau, Grand Second Vice President Mark Mather, Grand Secretary Treasurer Brian Eickel, Grand Sentinel Scott Reynolds, Grand Marshall Greg Stamatelakys, Grand Chaplain Mary Ann Schalip and Grand Warden Caitlin Clyne.

Following the installation of its new officers, the group went to the Ship Masters Grand Ball. Throughout their time in Alpena, members are participating in business luncheons, theme dinners and excursions throughout the city.

The organization began in 1886 in Buffalo, N.Y., as a means to provide financial assistance to families of a deceased local captain. Additionally the group provides education opportunities for navigational skills and has a voice in the safety and navigation rules and regulations.

The first convention was first held in 1891 and by 1917 the group changed its name to its current one in recognition of the growing Canadian presence. Now the group looks to ensure the tradition and professionalism of the field.

Representing about 800 members, the group includes not just ship captains but also engineers, crewmembers and individuals associated with the industry. The convention began on Thursday and will run through Sunday.

The Alpena News


Port Reports -  February 5

Lake Michigan
John B. Aird was westbound in the Straits Saturday evening, headed back to Milwaukee with salt. Joseph H. Thompson tug and barge arrived at Escanaba Friday and laid up next to Great Lakes Trader and her tug.

Lake Huron – Bruce Douglas
Algoma Transport was loading salt on Saturday.

Toledo, Ohio – Jim Hoffman
The tug Defiance left the Ironhead Shipyard drydock early Saturday afternoon and headed up to Sarnia, where she will join her barge Ashtabula for the rest of the winter.


Mesabi Metallics submits plan to emerge from Essar bankruptcy

2/5 - Duluth, Minn. – Mesabi Metallics has submitted its detailed plan to emerge from bankruptcy and restart the failed Essar Steel Minnesota taconite project in Nashwauk.

The fledgling company filed the plan in federal bankruptcy court after business hours on Thursday, laying out its scenario to restart construction on the half-built project and see it through to production. The plan could be approved as soon as a March 16 bankruptcy court hearing in Delaware.

Mesabi Metallics says the plan is the best hope of creditors, contractors, vendors and the Iron Range community that's in a constant search for new jobs.

"Creditors will receive vastly improved recoveries, the company will be able to complete the project, and the employees and community in which the project is based will greatly benefit" if the plan is approved, the company argued in its plan.

If the plan is not approved, Mesabi Metallics notes, many Minnesota companies who are owed money will get little or none back, and 350 jobs will not be created.

The former Essar Steel Minnesota spent $1.8 billion on the project, now idle for more than a year and which is expected to need another $800 million to finish, making it by far the state's largest-ever private construction project. If completed, it would be Minnesota's first all-new full-scale taconite mine and processing plant in more than 40 years.

Mesabi Metallics — now a subsidiary of California-based SPL Partners LLC — hopes to rise from the Essar Steel Minnesota bankruptcy, pay off some of the old debt, raise the $800 million needed and resume work as early as this summer.

Duluth News Tribune


Boater bill advancing

2/5 - Brockville, Ont. – A bill to ease the rules for boaters crossing into Canada without landing here is moving a step closer to passage in the Senate.

And its proponent, Senator Bob Runciman, remains hopeful the measure will become law before the next boating season, despite uncertain relations between Washington and its allies.

Bill S-233, which amends the Customs Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, has passed second reading in the Red Chamber and now moves to the committee stage, said Runciman, the Senator for Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes.

“All the signs are positive,” Runciman said Thursday.

The bill would exempt boaters who cross into Canadian waters from reporting to Canada Customs, as long as they don’t drop anchor or arrive on shore.

On Tuesday, Runciman told the Senate the border “zigs and zags around various islands. It is not marked.”

“In many instances, it’s virtually impossible for boaters to know which side of the border they are on at any given time,” he added.

The senator was spurred to action by an incident in 2011 when Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officers charged an American fisherman who strayed into Canadian waters near Gananoque for failing to report.

His boat was seized until he paid a $1,000 fine, which was later reduced to $1 after complaints on both sides of the border.

Runciman said the Tourism-dependent Thousand Islands economy has since been hurt by Americans’ unwillingness to cross into Canadian waters.

The bill now heads to the Senate’s committee on national defence, where Runciman plans to call witnesses whose testimony will include the economic impact of the current border measures.

One potential witness, Gary DeYoung, tourism director at the 1000 Islands International Tourism Council, recalled the bad feelings on the American side after the 2011 incident and the impact it had on the tourism economy.

“There’s a lot of confusion as to what people could do,” said DeYoung.

“This bill will go a long way toward resolving that.”

“Boating is a big deal in the region.”

Currently, a boater in Morristown, N.Y., who takes visitors across the river border to show them the Brockville waterfront, but never stops in Canada, is still required to report to CBSA, DeYoung noted.

To American authorities, he added, it’s as if that boater never left.

Runciman believes the current reporting requirement not only does not enhance Canada’s border security, but in fact threatens security by taking CBSA officers’ attention away from more pressing matters.

The senator has been working with CBSA officials to incorporate their concerns into the bill, he said.

Runciman has also been talking to officials working for Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale.

“We’ve worked with them to address any concerns they have and incorporate any suggestions they put forward,” said Runciman.

All of which leaves him feeling encouraged about the bill’s progress.

S-233 may go before the committee as early as next week, or perhaps in March, said Runciman.

If it then passes in the Senate, it will make its way to the House of Commons, where Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes MP Gord Brown, who is sponsoring his own parallel bill on the matter in the House, would instead sponsor Runciman’s bill.

The bill is potentially winding its way through two chambers as relations between Canada and the United States remain an open question in the early days of U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration.

But Runciman on Thursday played down the suggestion his proposed measure might meet with resistance from a border-conscious White House.

“I think because of that historic relationship we have across the border here, I just don’t see that as a real likelihood,” said the senator.

In an email to The Recorder and Times, a spokesman for Goodale said the minister is currently reviewing the bill.

"His position will be announced in due course," added the spokesman, Scott Bardsley, who also noted "its intent is consistent with CBSA’s priority to ensure an efficient and secure border."

Brockville Recorder & Times


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.


Port Reports -  February 4

Lake Michigan
Great Lakes Trader / Joyce L. VanEnkevort are at Escanaba for winter lay-up. Joseph H. Thompson / Joseph H. Thompson Jr. are expected Saturday.

Lake Huron
John B. Aird loaded salt at Goderich on Friday and cleared in the late evening. Algoma Transport was downbound off Alpena Friday evening and is expected at Goderich on Saturday.


Lake Erie lacking ice in 2017

2/4 - Buffalo, N.Y. – Early February usually signals the time of year when the temperature in western New York bottoms out. It’s also when we expect Lake Erie to be frozen over. Sixty percent of the lake should be covered in ice at this point. But this year, it's hard to find any ice on the lakeshores.

January had only 11 days that stayed below freezing. That prevented widespread ice formation. But Lake Erie’s lack of ice this year can be traced back to August of last year, when the water reached a simmering 79 degrees, nearly breaking an all-time record. That meant it would take more cold air for a longer period of time to get the lake to freeze.

Lake Erie’s temperature is taken at the Buffalo Water Treatment Plant, right at the mouth of the Niagara River at a depth of 30 feet. Right now, the thermometer reads 34 degrees, only a degree above where we’d expect it right now. But that's still 2 degrees above where it needs to be to begin ice formation.

The best weather for rapid ice growth is cold, calm and clear. Less wind allows the water to settle and freeze faster. Less clouds means the temperature can drop just a little lower. February holds the opportunity for that sort of pattern, at least for a little while.



A video view of the 2016 season at the Soo Locks

2/4 - USACE-Detroit District



Round Island light in St. Marys River for sale for $1.4 million

2/4 - View photos at this link:


Vessels with Great Lakes / Seaway Connections Reported as a Casualty or Demolition

2/4 - The following information taken from the February 2017 Marine News - Journal of the World Ship Society

Casualties: None

Mina F (7627613; Tanzania) ex Sonya-10 Sandra-04, Passat-02, Alisio-96, Elbeland-95, Scheldemond-94, Janni Trader-89, Alisio-87 - 1st trip into the Seaway 1994 as Scheldemond. 3,774 / 1979 general cargo. By Maritime Moon Light Co. (Mina Shipping Co), Syria to Ege Sokum San Ve Tic AS, Turkey and arrived Aliaga 11/09/2016 - commenced demolition 11/09/2016

Thigayu (8106666; Thailand) ex Yi Zhan-09, Elite Leader-08, Elite Grace I-95, Elite Grace-94, Cambridge-88, completed as Myran Star - 1st trip into the Seaway 1984 as Cambridge. 5,692 / 1982 general cargo. By Krung Dhana Nava Co. Ltd., Thailand, to Premium Trade Corp ltd., Bangladesh and arrived Chittagong 29/09/2016 - commenced demolition 5/10/2016

Canadian Princess (5390876; Canada) ex P.S.V. No. I-80, Wm. J. Stewart-79) - built 1932 at Collingwood Shipyard - 1,295 / 1932 - research survey vessel. By Oak Bay Marina Ltd. Canada - to Canadian breakers and arrived Surrey, B.C. (not Vancouver as reported) - 29/09/2016

Compiled by Barry Andersen and René Beauchamp


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.


Great Lakes mostly open water this winter

2/3 - The Midwest may be in the throes of winter, but most of the Great Lakes are open water. Right now, roughly 10 percent of the combined surface of the Great Lakes is covered in ice, according to George Leshkevich, research physical scientist for the Great Lakes Environmental Research Lab with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The Great Lakes have been experiencing a downward trend in ice cover since 1973, according to Leshkevich. "And it seems like the variability from year to year is becoming greater," he said.

Leshkevich said it’s a far cry from the polar vortex in 2014 that caused a delay in the shipping season and cost millions of dollars in repairs for the shipping industry.

"Superior in 2014, which you remember was a severe winter – 2014 and 2015 were – almost 70 percent ice on Superior at this time and almost 60 percent ice on the Great Lakes as a whole," he said. "Here we have … 5 percent on Superior and roughly 9.5 percent on the Great Lakes as a whole.”

At most, only 34 percent of the Great Lakes were covered in ice last year, which was a strong El Nino year, Leshkevich said. From 1973 to 2016, the average maximum ice cover on the lakes was 55 percent. But, Leshkevich said the lakes have seen mostly below average ice cover since 1998.

The offshore Lake Superior town of Madeline Island began to feel the impacts of less ice cover around that time. In 1998, the Madeline Island Ferry ran all winter long carrying residents from the island to Bayfield on the mainland.

The ferry typically shuts down in the winter when the ice road forms between the island and Bayfield. Mike Radtke, ferry operations manager, said the ice road isn't likely to form this year. If so, Radtke said it’ll be their sixth year-round season in the last 17 years. "There may be a wind sled operation for a short period of time, but, at this point, it doesn’t look like we’ll have much of a break," Radtke said.

Without the ice road, Radtke said they don’t have the same down time to conduct maintenance.

"We’ll, of course, do the maintenance regardless," he said. "But, I think the bigger issue is the ice road. It’s kind of the rhythm of living up here. Those people who live on Madeline Island, they look forward to that road coming in and the freedom that it provides them that short time of the entire year."

Radtke said it could be the second year in a row where they haven’t shut down the ferry line. He said that’s never happened in the company’s history

Wisconsin Public Radio


Port Reports -  February 3

Lake Michigan
Algoma Transport departed Milwaukee Thursday headed back to Goderich. Great Lakes Trader / Joyce L. VanEnkevort departed Indiana Harbor were headed back up the lake. Joseph H. Thompson was also upbound from the same port. Her AIS destination read “Forty Winks in Esky.”

Lake Huron
John B. Aird was loading salt at Goderich on Thursday.


Obituary: Historian/photographer Ken Thro

2/3 - Kenneth Edmund Thro, 88, of Panama City Beach, Fla. passed away Jan. 29 after a brief illness, surrounded by his family. He spent most of his spare time preserving the history of the old ships that sailed on the Great Lakes. He donated his extensive photo collection to the library at the college in Superior, Wis., and the beautiful hand-made ship models he made to various museums in the Twin Ports. He made many valued friends in that industry. Private services will be held at a later date.


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.


Sale of Magnetation to new buyer is final

2/2 - Duluth, Minn. – Another chapter of the Magnetation journey has begun. According to the notice filed in bankruptcy court, the sale of the assets to the new buyer closed on Monday. The new buyer, ERP Iron Ore, is owned by Tom Clarke. The Virginia businessman also owns coal mines and nursing homes.

"We are very excited about it. And we are that much closer to reopening the pellet plant and the plant in Grand Rapids (Minn.)," he said Wednesday.

Clarke said he's interviewing now for senior roles in the company. He also hopes others who worked at Magnetation in the past will apply again, since it is a specialized technology.

ERP Iron Ore now has control of the three Magnetation plants and rail yard in Minnesota and the pellet plant in Reynolds. "We are providing security, care, and maintenance, and taking care of things on the environmental side," he added.

The announcement about the new buyer came in December. Magnetation had filed for bankruptcy in 2015, with the hope of finding a new buyer.

Contractors who worked on Plant 4 are still owed about $30 million dollars. Clarke said they have an agreement on repayment. "There are 37 separate contractors. The agreement provides, over time, for the full repayment due to them and the costs associated with filing the mechanics liens and attorneys, and with interest."

He said he hopes to know later this month, more about a timeline on the restart of production.



New urban beach pitched for Detroit riverfront

2/2 - Detroit, Mich. – A new beach on the Detroit River could be created in 2018 if the idea is chosen as a winner in a national grant competition. Atwater Beach, an idea pitched by The Detroit Riverfront Conservancy, was named a finalist in the Knight Cities Challenge, along with 20 other Detroit ideas.

More than 4,500 ideas from 26 cities across the country were submitted to the Knight Foundation in the competition for a chance to share $5 million in grant funds. The application asked entrants "What's your best idea to make cities more successful?"

Detroit led all cities with 21 chosen finalists. If funded, Atwater Beach would be located east of Chene Park, on the Detroit River between Atwater Street and Jos Campau.

Mark Wallace, CEO of the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy, said the riverfront is an important gathering space for the city, and that a new beach would offer another family-friendly area to fill a gap by the park.

"On the riverwalk, you see folks who have been in Detroit for two months and folks who have been here for 85 years," Wallace said. "It's really that special place where everyone feels proud for this city and everyone can get along and be themselves."

The beach would not include a swimming area because of strong currents, conservancy officials said. It would resemble Sugar Beach in Toronto and Spruce Street Harbor in Philadelphia, two urban beaches that inspired this idea.

The beach would include sand with lounge chairs, an interactive zone for children, beach umbrellas and a bar-type area serving food and beverages for children and adults, Wallace said. Currently, city's only beach on the Detroit River is on Belle Isle.

View artist renderings at this link:


Port Reports -  February 2

Lake Michigan
Algoma Transport in Milwaukee unloading salt Wednesday night. Joseph H. Thompson was headed down the lake for Indiana Harbor. Great Lakes Trader / Joyce L. VanEnkevort arrived there earlier in the day.

Lake Huron
John B. Aird was headed for Goderich on Wednesday night.


Help wanted: Muskoka Steamships

2/2 - Join our crew in 2017 aboard R.M.S. Segwun or Wenonah II and be a part of a Canadian tourism icon at Muskoka Steamships & Discovery Centre. We are currently seeking applicants for the positions of captain, first mate, marine steam engineer and deckhand. Only those selected for an interview will be contacted.

Please forward your resume and cover letter to:
John Miller
President, Muskoka Steamships
185 Cherokee Lane
Gravenhurst, ON P1P 1Z9
Fax: 705-687-7820


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.


Edna G. tug may sink into Lake Superior

2/1 - Two Harbors, Minn. – An iconic feature in Two Harbors is at risk of sinking into Lake Superior if the city doesn’t act on it sooner, rather than later. The Edna G. was built in 1896 and served the Two Harbors shipping industry for decades. It also served on the eastern seaboard during World War I.

The tug has been parked since the 1980s, and has become a fixture in the Two Harbors community. “It’s become an iconic part of the city,” said Miles Woodruff. “It’s on all our banners. It’s on the seal of the city. It’s just an important part of the heritage of Two Harbors.”

Over the years, wear and tear from ice and wind has deteriorated many parts of the boat. Members of the Edna G. Commission say that the boat could sink if not removed and placed on land. The Two Harbors city council has put their support behind the project to save the vessel.

“We have to get our ducks in a row right now, see what we need to do, funding, engineering, all the different steps,” said Woodruff. “ We’re starting the process right now to see what we can do to get her out of the water.”

The Edna G. Commission estimates the boat has two years before the damage causes it to sink.



Port Reports -  February 1

Lake Michigan
Algoma Transport was in the Straits headed for Milwaukee with salt Tuesday night. John B. Aird was upbound, possibly headed back to Goderich. Great Lakes Trader / Joyce L. VanEnkevort were at Escanaba.


Dredging of Sarnia Harbor hits bottom just in time

2/1 - Sarnia, Ont. – The first dredging of Sarnia Harbor coordinated and executed by the city has ended – and not a moment too soon. The last scoop of muck was pulled from the harbor floor late last week, resulting in a minimal overlap with the lucrative ship repair season this winter, said Peter Hungerford, Sarnia’s director of economic development.

“All of the ships that were scheduled to come, that we knew about, got in without incident.”

Like contestants in a slow game of musical chairs, a few ships had to be shuffled around in the North Slip when it was dredged last month, he said. A final survey will be done in coming weeks to confirm the contractor, Quebec-based Ocean Dredging, achieved the target depths of 8.4 metres at the Government Dock and North Slip, and 8.6 metres at the Sidney Smith Wharf.

The city-owned facility had reached a point it could no longer accept fully loaded ships, forcing it to turn down requests to dock.

The $3-million project was scheduled for completion in December but sediment testing and handling set that back, Hungerford said. There were fears the dredged sediment might be contaminated, like the soil in nearby Centennial Park, and require pricey disposal protocols. But 20 test samples revealed negligible levels of contamination and the mud was trucked to surplus land at Sarnia Chris Hadfield Airport.

But that created another challenge, Hungerford said.

“It was a matter of dealing with excess water due to the rain we had. The material was wet – wetter than we had hoped. That was probably the biggest complication.”

Pumps are helping dry the dredged material that will eventually be graded into a berm at the airport and seeded with grass this spring, he said. “We did have some extra expenses, said Hungerford, who didn’t yet have a final figure. “But nothing more than you’d expect with a project this size.”

The dredging should satisfy the harbor’s needs for up to a decade, although weather and erosion on Lake Huron’s shoreline will determine when the next dredging is needed, Hungerford said. “I’m hoping between eight and ten years, but that depends on what the river brings us.”

The harbor normally fills in with sediment at a rate of about two centimetres a year. Dredging last occurred at Sarnia Harbor in 2008, when it was completed by Transport Canada and Federal Public Works.

Sarnia Journal


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.


News Archive - August 1996 to present

Return to Great Lakes & Seaway Shipping

Comments, news, and suggestions to:

Copyright All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Due to frequent updates, this page will automatically reload every half hour