Great Lakes & Seaway Shipping News Archive

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

* Report News


Resolution Aimed at Returning Fresnel Lens to New Presque Isle Lighthouse

3/31 - Alpena - The campaign to restore the historic Fresnel lens to its rightful place atop the Presque Isle Lighthouse was given a push Tuesday when Michigan senators adopted Senate Resolution No. 66. The resolution expresses support for the efforts of the Department of History, Arts, and Libraries; the State Historic Preservation Office; and Presque Isle Township to reinstall the lens in the lighthouse. “The light is an important part of the history of Northeast Michigan,” said Sen. Jason Allen, R-Traverse City, who was the primary sponsor of the resolution.

Last week, Rogers City Mayor Beach Hall and council member Gary Nowak testified before the Senate committee that approved sending the resolution to the Senate floor. “I think it would be an additional tourist draw, and frankly it belongs up there,” Hall said of the Fresnel lens.

The 130-year-old lens served the Presque Isle Light Station until 2003, when it was removed for reconstruction. Repairing the lens was a $61,868 project that was paid for in part with state grants, and in part by Presque Isle Township. Work on the lens was completed in October last year, but now Presque Isle Township officials and several U.S. congressmen are working to receive permission from the Coast Guard to reinstall the lens in the lighthouse. The lens is currently being stored at the Presque Isle Township hall.

Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Menominee, Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich, have all been involved in seeking permission to have the lens reinstalled in the lighthouse, according to Les Nichols, Presque Isle Township Parks and Recreation Committee chair. “Our congressional delegation has done a marvelous job on being active in helping us through the process of talking with the Coast Guard,” Nichols said. Though the Presque Isle Lighthouse is owned and operated by Presque Isle Township, the Fresnel lens is owned by the Coast Guard. In 2002, it was leased to Presque Isle Township for a period of 25 years.

Nichols said the reluctance of the Coast Guard to allow the lens to be returned to the lighthouse is likely due to its policy of phasing out Fresnel lenses. He speculated the Coast Guard may want to permanently replace the Fresnel lens with a lens that is cheaper to maintain. Currently, a Vega lens is being used in the historic Fresnel lens’ stead. Nichols said Presque Isle Township has agreed to take responsibility for the maintenance and upkeep of the Fresnel lens. “As long as the Coast Guard is willing to lease it to us, we will maintain it,” he said.

Nichols believes the lens should be returned to the lighthouse not only because of its historical significance, but also because it is a better lens than the Vega lens that has replaced it. “(The Vega lens) is not visible as far as the original 130-year-old historic Fresnel lens is,” Nichols said of the Vega lens. “That could be visible for 26 miles, and this new one is visible, if you’re lucky, for 16 miles.”

According to Nichols, Senate Resolution No. 66 is an important milestone in the campaign to have the Fresnel lens reinstalled. “What this does is that is shows from a state standpoint the New Presque Isle Lighthouse has statewide, regional, multi-state impact,” he said.

Presque Isle Township Supervisor Peter Pettalia also said he was pleased with the resolution. “(The lens) is truly a jewel for our township, state and nation to enjoy,” Pettalia said. Nichols is hoping the township will have permission from the Coast Guard in time for the lens to be reinstalled this summer.

From the Alpena News


Canadiana's Engine May Return Home

3/31 - Buffalo - The Triple Expansion steam engine from the scrapped passenger vessel SS CANADIANA should be back on the property where it was built on the Buffalo waterfront within two weeks. $20,000 has been secured by local businessmen Mike Powers, Mark Judd, and Chris Alf to transport the 65 ton engine from Port Colburn, Ontario to the BIDCO Marine Group yard on Ganson St.

The Peace Bridge may need to be closed to allow passage of a 32 wheel tractor trailer truck carrying the engine in three pieces.

The CANADIANA's pilothouse is already at the BIDCO property, site of the old Buffalo Dry Dock Yard. Both pieces may be partially restored there before being incorporated into the Great Lakes Museum as part of the Erie Canal Harbor/Bass Pro Shop Development Project along the downtown waterfront.

Reported by Brian Wroblewski


Port Reports - March 31

Goderich - Dale Baechler
Algorail made a return trip and entered the harbour around 3:30 pm Thursday afternoon. Algosteel took her spot on the Sifto Salt dock late Thursday night and is still loading Friday morning.

Port Colborne - Brian Wroblewski
Canada Steamship Line's self unloader Rt. Hon. Paul J. Martin departed the Welland Canal bound for Nanticoke at 8:30 p.m. on Thursday evening.


Today in Great Lakes History - March 31

On 31 March 1971, the American Steamship Company’s RICHARD J REISS grounded at Stoneport, Michigan while moving away from her dock. She damaged her number 9 tank.

Christening ceremonies took place at St. Catharines, Ontario on March 31, 1979, for the d.) CANADIAN PROSPECTOR, lengthened by Port Weller Drydocks Ltd.

ROGER M KYES (Hull#200) was launched March 31, 1973, at Toledo, Ohio, by American Ship Building Co. Renamed b.) ADAM E CORNELIUS in 1989.

WILLIAM R ROESCH was renamed b) DAVID Z NORTON in christening ceremonies at Cleveland, Ohio on March 31, 1995. The PAUL THAYER was also renamed, EARL W OGLEBAY, during the same ceremonies.

JOSEPH S WOOD was sold to the Ford Motor Co. and towed from her winter lay-up berth at Ashtabula, Ohio on March 31, 1966, to the American Ship Building's Toledo, Ohio yard for her five-year inspection. A 900 h.p. bow thruster was installed at this time. She would be rechristened as the c.) JOHN DYKSTRA two months later.

The steamer b.) J CLARE MILLER was launched March 31, 1906, as a.) HARVEY D GOULDER (Hull#342) at Lorain, Ohio by American Ship Building Co., for W.A. & A.H. Hawgood of Cleveland, Ohio.

On March 31, 1927, the WILLIAM MC LAUGHLAN entered service for the Interlake Steamship Co. when she departed Sandusky, Ohio for Superior, Wisconsin on her maiden trip. Later renamed b.) SAMUEL MATHER in 1966, sold Canadian in 1975, renamed c.) JOAN M MC CULLOUGH, and finally d.) BIRCHGLEN in 1982. Scrapped at Point Edward, Nova Scotia by Universal Metal Co. Ltd.

On 31 March 1874, E H MILLER (wooden propeller tug, 62 foot, 30 gross tons) was launched at Chesley A. Wheeler's yard in E. Saginaw, Michigan. The power plant from the 1865, tug JENNIE BELL was installed in her. She was renamed RALPH in 1883, and spent most of her career as a harbor tug in the Alpena area. She was abandoned in 1920.

On 31 March 1890, EDWARD SMITH (wooden propeller, 201 foot, 748 gross tons) was launched at W. Bay City, Michigan by F. W. Wheeler (Hull #67). In 1900, her name was changed to b.) ZILLAH. She lasted until she foundered four miles off Whitefish Point on 29 August 1926.

Data from: Joe Barr, Dave Swayze, Jody Aho, Father Dowling Collection and the Historical Collections of the Great Lakes, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series. This is a small sample, the books includes many other vessels with a much more detailed history.


Icebreakers Turn Full Attention to Upper River and Whitefish Bay

3/30 - Sault Ste. Marie - With the lower St. Marys River essentially free of fast ice, a fleet of Coast Guard icebreakers today turn full attention on the still-intact icefields of the upper river and Whitefish Bay.
Lt. Eric Hoerneman, captain of the Bay-Class tug Katmai Bay said his boat and two sisters will join the icebreaker Mackinaw on the upper river and Whitefish as efforts continue to groom a steamer ³track² through well-packed bay ice. Ice cover continues to be essentially intact on the upper river and the portion of Whitefish Bay from the river to the ice edge off Isle Parisienne. Farther to the west and northwest Whitefish Bay is mainly open water.

Hoerneman said heavy ship traffic around the Saturday opening of the Soo Locks in the lower river moved essentially unimpeded by ice with no ships reported beset. He said while a considerable flow of broken or ³brash² ice remains on the lower river, that ice is steadily moving downstream on its own toward oblivion or the open Lake Huron.

Katmai Bay, which has worked the lower river steadily since breakout operations began earlier this month, has been re-assigned to assist Mackinaw on the upper end with two other Bay-Class icebreakers. Joining Katmai Bay will be St. Ignace-based Biscayne Bay and Cleveland-based Neah Bay.

A fourth Bay-Class tug, Mobile Bay, was released to return home to Sturgeon Bay, Wisc. after the initial breakout was completed. Hoerneman said reports from Mackinaw indicate a well-used steamer track from the Locks to the ice edge appears to be holding well in eight to 12-inch plate ice. He said that can change in a hurry if winds shift or large floes of fast ice break off and drift across the steamer track.

The Katmai skipper said reports indicate a six-mile stretch of channel from Gros Cap to Parisienne (west of Bay Mills) is especially challenging. A recent storm, packed sheets of broken ice onto the ice edge and beyond, building windrows of solid ice one foot to eight feet high in places. Hoerneman said if commercial ships stick to the track they are having no difficulty moving through the broken channel. ³But if they miss it in the dark, look out,² he added.

The Katmai Bay skipper offered no estimate as to when a general break-up of fast bay and upper river ice will occur. As of late Sunday, a relatively solid sheet of snow-covered ice extended across the full width of eastern Whitefish Bay well past Point Iroquois and Iroquois Island with only the steamer track to interrupt it. A general break-up in continuing warm temperatures this week and into next week may confront the icebreaking fleet with the annual job of re-setting the track as floes shift.

Meanwhile, opening day of the new shipping season may not have broken records but a log of first-day passages easily surpasses the norm for the March 25 opener. The Corps of Engineers recorded 24 ship passages on Saturday as vessels found their first trip up and down the Lakes easy going by March standards.

Arriving nearly 36 hours in advance of the Locks opening, the up bound steamer Arthur M. Anderson was first through the Poe Lock shortly after midnight Friday. Anderson was followed by four other early arrivals, all up bound. Later in the first day, no fewer than 19 ships made the Locks in both directions, making for a fast start to the new season and a well-groomed track through upper-river ice. Another eight vessels arrived at the Locks on Sunday, Day Two of the new season.

From the Soo Evening News


Cheboygan Group Preparing to Accept Cutter

3/30 - Cheboygan - With only a small number of legislative days left on the U.S. Senate's calendar, organizers of a group seeking to keep the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Mackinaw in the Cheboygan River as a museum ship are confident they've completed the necessary details to formalize acceptance of the ship once the current Coast Guard appropriations bill passes.

“Things are coming about,” said Joanne Harrison, treasurer of the Icebreaker Mackinaw Maritime Museum, Inc. “We feel that the details are in place to receive the ship.” Harrison spoke at Tuesday's meeting of the Cheboygan County Commissioners and updated the panel on the progress of where the Mackinaw will go after its June 9 decommissioning date. She outlined recent developments that will assure legislators the group is ready to moor the vessel.

Wording on Senate Bill No. 1280 is being changed to convey the ship directly to the museum group, absolving both Cheboygan County and the city of Cheboygan from liability concerns. The County, perceived in the past by the group as holding up the process with legal issues, was represented as solidly behind the project Tuesday. The city's legal counsel has raised no concerns.

The museum group has entered into an option to purchase agreement with GEFS Marine Terminal of Cheboygan to secure the land necessary to permanently moor the vessel. The property, known as “the Point,” is between the Cheboygan County Marina and the Cheboygan Crib Lighthouse. An environmental checklist has been completed to prepare the location to the Department of Environmental Quality's specifications.

 Sam Fralick, one of the investors who owns the property to be sold to the group, is also offering a temporary mooring site known as the former Coal Dock to park the ship until the Point property is readied for permanent use. The Coal Dock was the original mooring site of the Mackinaw when it first came to town in 1944. Permits are being applied for to install mooring dolphins, utilities and security to keep the ship in safe harbor. Engineering specifications are being prepared by the Mackinaw's crew to define the parameters for storing the vessel while the permanent site is being prepared.

The group's finances, which have swelled to more than $100,000 in cash and pledges, are bolstered by donations of in-kind services for marine construction, utility placement and help from local banks in the form of fund-raising challenges. Civic groups have also donated to the cause. Securing the property is seen as a key step in ownership of assets necessary to complete U.S. Coast Guard requirements of proving solvency for the project.

The museum group will now begin meeting weekly to assure a timely communication with the parties involved in expediting the process, Harrison said. A comprehensive photo display on CD, business plan and Power-Point presentation have been prepared for business and civic groups.

From the Cheboygan Tribune


Former Boblo Boat Ste. Claire To Leave River Rouge

3/30 - On Tuesday the City of River Rouge Council decided not to extend the welcome of the Historic Steamer Ste. Claire. With this decision, Ste. Claire must find a new home as soon as possible as its agreement to reside in River Rouge expires April 1st.

Should a new site to continue the restoration not be found, reality is the Ste. Claire may end up in the hands of a salvage yard. Any group or individual that knows of a site large enough to accommodate Ste. Claire is asked to contact Diane Evon at 216-402-7977 or by email E-mail.

Reported by W. Argent


Boat watchers return as shipping season officially starts

3/30 - Port Huron - The Soo Locks have opened, and the Hollyhock is busy tending buoys. That means commercial shipping is about to pick up on the Great Lakes - good news for freighter-watching aficionados, a popular pastime for residents and visitors along the St. Clair River and Lake Huron.

"We enjoy watching the ships," said Judy Malenich of Croswell. "It's really neat." She and her husband, Jim, plan to visit Port Huron and the Soo Locks in Sault Ste. Marie to watch ships and do some fishing next month. The Soo Locks, which connect Lake Superior to the lower Great Lakes, opened March 25. The locks handle about 12,000 ships each year, and their opening heralds the start of regular freighter traffic on the lakes.

Ontario's Welland Canal and the St. Lawrence Seaway also have opened, which means ocean-going freighters soon will be making their appearance in the local waterways. Another signal that commercial traffic is about to ramp up is the Coast Guard cutter Hollyhock's annual mission to replace winter buoys with warm-weather versions. The ship left its Port Huron berth last week.

Frank Frisk, who has run the headquarters of the Great Lakes shipping Web site in Port Huron for the past year, said ship watchers now are out in force. "The boats are already running, and we're busier than beavers in a logjam," Frisk said. "It's like NASCAR on the water. They follow them all over."

Maritime Center
The Web site's building, which has computer terminals for maritime research and wireless Internet for visitors, sits near the high-tech Vantage Point Maritime Center, which was built for ship watching. The center, owned and run by Acheson Ventures, is open 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. About a dozen people were there Tuesday afternoon.

Frederick Smith, 57, of Port Huron had a camera and tripod set up along the boardwalk in front of the maritime center. He was photographing the Algorail, which was stopped at the Imperial Oil fuel dock in Sarnia. The retiree and amateur photographer said the ship-watching building makes the start of freighter season all the more exciting. "I can't wait, with this new facility here," he said. "It's tremendous."

Visitors to the center, or anywhere else along the St. Clair River, should expect to see plenty of vessels. Glen Nekvasil is a vice president and spokesman for the Lakes' Carriers Association in Cleveland, which represents 13 companies operating 55 U.S.-flagged commercial vessels on the lakes. He said there are about 175 ships on the lakes on a typical day, and freighter watchers should expect to see the same amount of ship traffic this year as in past years.

The maritime center, which opened in the fall, has plenty of resources available for ship lovers. Besides real-time ship position updates on large screens, there are binoculars, tables and chairs, food, books and guides. Large windows stretch along the building's east side, facing the river. Vantage Point is the northern anchor of Acheson Ventures' 77-acre redevelopment of the city's riverfront from the mouth of the Black River south to the refurbished Seaway Terminal.

Buoy tending
Making the lakes safe for the hundreds of commercial and recreational ships and boats that ply the waters is the Coast Guard's fleet of buoy tenders, including the Hollyhock. The cutter, which ties up near Pine Grove Park, left last week on its fourth season of replacing ice-resistant winter buoys with 136 easier-to-see warm-weather versions, said Lt. j.g. Dan Sporer, a deck-watch officer.

The 225-foot cutter and its 50-person crew was in Lake St. Clair on Tuesday and was expected to head to Detroit overnight. Then it's on to the Saginaw area, Sporer said. He thinks the cutter should be back in Port Huron for Easter before heading back out to complete its six-week mission. The vessel will extend its mission to Lake Ontario for training, he said. "That's kind of a big trip for us," he said. "We hope to be done by May." The relatively mild winter has been kind on the buoys, he said.

"We're actually very pleased with the weather. Compared to last winter, this is quite the lamb," Sporer said. "So far, it's been smooth for us. The weather has been relatively reasonable." The $29 million Hollyhock replaced the decommissioned Bramble in 2003. The Bramble, now docked at the Seaway Terminal, has been converted into a maritime museum.

From the Port Huron Times-Herald


'Know Your Ships' Editor to Sign Books in Port Huron
Come launch the new Shipping Season at Vantage Point

3/30 - Mark the beginning of another season of boat watching with a book signing in Port Huron by Roger LeLievre, editor and publisher of the annual "Know Your Ships" guide.

LeLievre will be on hand at the BoatNerd.Com World Headquarters in Port Huron from 1:00 - 4:00 p.m. Saturday, April 15 to sign copies of the 2006 "Know Your Ships."

This year's book, hot off the press, will be available for purchase at the event. "Know Your Ships" is often referred to as the "bible of boatwatching" containing detailed information and pictures of Great Lakes ships and the foreign ships that visit the Great Lakes each season.

There is no admission charge for the event. Make a day of your trip by visiting the new Great Lakes Maritime Center at Vantage Point adjacent to the Great Lakes & Seaway Shipping (BoatNerd.Com) Headquarters and enjoy the spectacular view of the boats passing on the St. Clair River. Vantage Point is located at the end of First Street, on the south side of the Black River in Port Huron.

Visit and for more information.


Spring Arriving in the U. P.

3/30 - Marquette — Jack Frost may be ready for a vacation. According to forecasters with the National Weather Service, the weather systems that contribute to the Upper Peninsula snowfall have moved north for the season. “In general from what I’ve seen, we’re pretty much done with winter,” forecaster Andrew Just said. “There is some rain expected this Thursday and Friday, the night-time lows will be above freezing. There may be a faster melt during that time period.”

Just said that the area rivers should start seeing an increase in flow from that storm by late this weekend. According to Michigan Department of Natural Resources fisheries biologist George Madison, that means some streams could see more trout traveling upstream. “They’ll stage in those deep holes,” Madison said. “But any big influx of water is going to make it easier for them to get farther upstream. The rain in the forecast this weekend might have an effect (on the runs).”

The few steelhead wandering around the rivers now aren’t moving in a crowd and are more vulnerable to predatory birds. These fish are likely to be wary, according to Madison. “In shallow water, they’re a little more spooked,” Madison said. According to several local anglers, the fish are playing hard to get. More than a dozen fishermen showed up at the mouth of the Carp River at lunchtime Monday to enjoy the unseasonably warm weather and try to land a trout or a salmon venturing upstream from Lake Superior. “Ah, look, he’s right there, you see him? He’s thinking about it,” said Rob Grossman, 23, of Skandia as he watched a steelhead trout chase his lure, without biting it. “He’s either angry that he missed it twice now, or he’s on to my lure.”

The bright noontime sun lit up the river, and with his polarized sunglasses Grossman could see the fish clearly just feet from where he was standing. The midday temperature of 54 degrees brought more than a dozen anglers to the lower Carp River. “It’s been slow,” he said. “They’re there, but they just don’t seem to want to bite.” “That’s just the way it is sometimes,” said Jim Michaud of Harvey, who was packing up after spending the entire morning on the river. “Last year there weren’t hardly any walleye, but the year before that, we were nailing them. It just depends.”

Grossman said fishermen would have to try pretty hard not to catch a fish between Big Bay and Munising with all of the rivers running into Lake Superior. But when you catch fish is entirely up to the fish, he added.

Jim Waybrant, a DNR fisheries biologist based in Newberry, said biologists believe trout runs are based on water temperature and light. Runs have started to some extent on Luce County’s Big Two Hearted River, he said. “Their run is going to be based on a combination of water temperature and photo period,” Waybrant said. “If you get a slug of water coming down into the lake, that’s going to be like ringing a dinner bell. There’s a good amount of worms and insects and things that are brought in by the flood waters.”

Madison explained why those fishing just offshore in Lake Superior are having a little better luck than those fishing upstream. “Right now a lot of the fish are right offshore,” Madison said. “The smelt are slowly starting to congregate offshore as we get toward late winter and early spring. That brings the (predator fish) offshore.”

Saturday marks the day when anglers must possess a 2006 fishing license to fish; 2005 licenses are valid through Friday. In an effort to reduce costs, the DNR has published a two-year fishing guide. The DNR usually makes changes to the regulations each year, but the new rules will be in effect through March 31, 2008. The department reminds anglers to use extreme caution when fishing this early in the season. The frigid water of Lake Superior and the swift, cold waters of area streams, swollen with spring runoff, can be dangerous.

From the Marquette Mining Journal


Port Reports - March 30

Alpena - Ben & Chanda McClain
The Alpena arrived in port Tuesday morning to load cement at Lafarge. The Alpena was seen heading out into a hazy lake Huron around 2 p.m., bound for Green Bay, WI.

The tug Manitou left Alpena on Tuesday after a week long stay in the area. The Manitou picked up a barge with cranes that were used for a project at Lafarge. The barge was secured to the front of the tug and the pair left around 4 p.m., cruising at a good pace.

On Tuesday the Great Lakes Trader took on cargo at Stoneport. The Philip R. Clarke arrived Wednesday afternoon to load stone.

Hamilton - Eric Holmes
On Wednesday the Canadian Leader left its winter lay up at 7 p.m. from Pier 10. She is headed to Thunder Bay in ballast. The Federal Manitou departed Pier 23 at 7 p.m. for Port Weller and made the same bridge lift as the Leader. The Hamilton Energy arrived in Hamilton at 8 p.m. going to Pier 24.

Goderich - Dale Baechler
Algorail paid her first visit of this season entering the harbour early Wednesday morning. She loaded and departed at 10:15 a.m. Canadian Navigator followed, coming in Wednesday evening. Both loaded cargos of salt at Sifto.

Toronto - Charlie Gibbons
McKeil has placed the tug Glenevis back in harbor service here. The tug Progress departed to assist Evans McKeil and OC 181 through the Welland Canal. The Stephen B. Roman returned to port just before noon Tuesday.

Mid-afternoon Wednesday, Vigilant 1 and Glenevis pulled James Norris from Pier 51 north back to Pier 35 south, where she wintered, even though the Norris appeared to have steam up. Enterprise 2000 returned to Pier 35 South earlier in the day. Unloading of that vessel is almost complete and she is expected to depart soon. Stephen B. Roman departed port while the Norris tow was underway. Shortly there Hamilton energy came in to bunker Pytheas at Redpath. Hamilton Energy will return to Hamilton and Pythesu will head upstream, likely Thursday.

The tour boat Wayward Princess ran its first charter of the season Wednesday afternoon. The tour boat River Gambler is slated for its first charter Friday night.

Toledo -
Wednesday the tug John Spence and a crane barge work diligently beneath the new I-280 high level bridge span placing roadway segments in position for lifting up into position by the Approach Truss Crane aka Launch Gantry.
Menominee was moored at Midwest Terminals of Toledo off-loading her bunk-filled decks and holds of lumber. Mississagi took on a load of coal at CSX RR Docks and got underway. John J. Boland remains idle in the slip nearby.

Sturgeon Bay - Wendell Wilke
American Republic departed lay up at 7 a.m. Wednesday, and headed north bound.

By mid-morning, the Selvick tugs Jimmy L., Sharon M., William C. Selvick and Cameron O. had moved the Edward L. Ryerson back to the shipyard from the West Side City Dock where it had spent the winter.

Detroit - Ken Borg
On Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. the St. Marys Cement II unloading at St. Marys Cement on the Rouge River in Detroit. The Canadian Navigator was trying to unload coal onto Zug Island on the Short Cut Canal side and the Maritime Trader was still unloading at the ADM plant in Ojibway, Ont.

South Chicago/Indiana Harbor - Steve B.
The Joseph L. Block was arriving Mittal Steel south dock at Indiana Harbor around 9 a.m. on Wednesday. Over at KCBX, the Kaye E. Barker had started loading at the south dock. The Block departed Indiana Harbor at around 3 p.m. Over in the Calumet River between LaFarge and St. Marys Cement, the St. Marys Challenger was showing signs of life as there was steam coming from the engine room area.


Updates - March30

News Photo Gallery updated.

Public Photo Gallery updated

Calendar of Events has been updated.


Today in Great Lakes History - March 30

The c.) CHEMICAL MAR arrived at Brownsville, Texas on March 30, 1983, in tow of the tug FORT LIBERTE to be scrapped there. Built in 1966, as a.) BIRK. In 1979, she was renamed b.) COASTAL TRANSPORT by Hall Corp. of Canada, but never came to the lakes and renamed c.) CHEMICAL MAR in 1981.

The ERINDALE was pressed into service after the LEADALE sank in the Welland Canal. She was towed out of Toronto on March 30, 1983, by the tugs G W ROGERS and BAGOTVILLE for repairs at Port Weller Dry Docks. The ERINDALE re-entered service two months later.

March 30, 1985 - The CITY OF MIDLAND's departure was delayed when her anchor snagged one which she had lost in Pere Marquette Lake the previous summer.

On 29 March 1888, D D JOHNSON (wooden propeller tug, 45 foot, 17 gross tons) was launched at E. Saginaw, Michigan. She was built for Carkin, Stickney & Cram and lasted until 1909.

106 years ago today, on March 30, 1900, the carferry ANN ARBOR NO 2, grounded on the rocks east of the approach to the channel at Manistique, Michigan. She was pulled off quickly by the ANN ARBOR NO 3, and the tug GIFFORD. She was found to have bent a propeller shaft and broken her rudder, resulting in a trip to the drydock at Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

On 30 March 1917, GERMANIC (wooden propeller passenger/package freight vessel, 184 foot, 1,014 gross tons, built in 1899, at Collingwood, Ontario) was destroyed by fire at her winter berth at Collingwood, Ontario while she was being prepared for the upcoming season. She was the last wooden ship built at Collingwood.

Data from: Joe Barr, Dave Swayze, Shawn B-K, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series. This is a small sample, the books includes many other vessels with a much more detailed history.


Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Working in Florida

The Oak Brook, Il based Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Company is currently working a major beach re-nourishment project for Okaloosa and Walton Counties in the NW Florida Pan Handle. Great Lake's trailing suction hopper dredge, Liberty Island, is racing the June First start of the hurricane season to replace the beach berms, small dunes 8 - 10 feet high, lost to the hurricanes over the past two years.

These berms, set back from the waters edge, protect the Gulf front homes and condos from foundation washout due to storm surge and replenish the lost beach frontage. The Liberty Island is mining the snow white sand just off the coast at Destin Florida and then discharging it onto the beaches 8 or 10 nm to the East using her bow mounted pressure discharge system.

The work continues 24 hours a day. Discharge pipes carrying the sand slurry from deep water to the beach are moved daily by the ground crews. This state-of- the-art Sand Sucker will insure the protection of the beach front private property and the continuing commercial viability of the local tourist industry.

Reported by Craig Gleason


Port Reports - March 29

Milwaukee - Paul Erspamer
Monday night the Algomarine was docked at the Bulk Cargo dock on Jones Island in Milwaukee's inner harbor, unloading salt.

Midland - Chris Dunn
It was reported Monday night at the Midland Town Council meeting that ADM Ogilvie, owners of the Town House elevator, have asked the Planning Committee to put a barge in the harbour for transferring of grain from incoming vessels due to lack of water. It was noted by a council member that this would be okay as long as the barge does not become an eyesore.

Hamilton - Eric Holmes
Tuesday the CSL Laurentian departed Hamilton at 1:30 p.m. after unloading iron ore pellets at Stelco. The refueling ship Hamilton Energy arrived back in the harbor at 8:30 a.m. going to Pier 24.

The Federal Manitou continues to unload at Pier 23 after shifting from Pier 14 on Monday.


Today in Great Lakes History - March 29

N.M. Paterson & Sons, PRINDOC was sold off-lakes during the week of March 29, 1982, to the Southern Steamship Co., Georgetown, Cayman Islands and was renamed b.) HANKEY.

Data from: Joe Barr, Dave Swayze, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series. This is a small sample, the books include many other vessels with a much more detailed history.


Paul R. Tregurtha Opens Duluth

3/28 - Paul R. Tregurtha officially opened the Twin Ports navigation season on Sunday by being the first vessel to arrive from the lower lakes. However, fleetmate James R. Barker made three trips earlier in the month on Lake Superior and at least one Canadian vessel arrived on Saturday from Thunder Bay.

Stewart J. Cort put in an unusual appearance in Duluth on Monday when it arrived through the Duluth ship canal and fueled at the Murphy Oil dock at the port terminal. The vessel, sporting bright orange Interlake Steamship stripes on its stacks, then proceeded to its usual loading berth at BNSF ore dock.

Algocape arrived in Duluth on Tuesday with an early season cargo for St. Lawrence Cement.

As the season begins, it appears three familiar vessels in the Twin Ports will again be regular callers at Midwest Energy Terminal. Walter J. McCarthy Jr. has six loads scheduled between the end of March and early April (including an unusual call to Silver Bay); Indiana Harbor has four trips scheduled through April; Oglebay Norton has two trips scheduled and five more indicated with no dates; and Paul R. Tregurtha has six trips scheduled by the end of April.

Reported by: Al Miller


Goderich Top Hat Ceremony Welcomes First Ship into Port

3/28 - Goderich - When Capt. Jim Leaney climbed down the ladder from the deck of the CSL Niagara to be greeted by Mayor Deb Shewfelt last Thursday, he carried on a decades-old tradition. Ever since Capt. Earl Jenkins arrived aboard the Acadialite on April 5, 1932, the captain of the first ship into the Port of Goderich after the winter freeze has been welcomed with a special ceremony at Town Hall.

“Captain,” said Counc. David Yates as Leaney took his seat in the mayor’s chair, “like the sighting of the first robin of spring, the arrival of you and your vessel signals the beginning of the new spring and summer seasons for Goderich.” Following the official welcome from the town, Shewfelt gingerly placed an ancient top hat on the good captain’s head. “In wearing this hat,” continued Yates, “a distinctively Canadian tradition that dates back to the Toronto port in the 1830s, you join a long line of lake captains that are the official inauguration of the new year. Welcome.”

The CSL Niagara pushed its way through the ice and into port late on the night of Wednesday, March 15 to beat by a few short hours the old record of March 16 for the first ship set back in 1951 by Capt. Sloane of the Imperial Cobourg. The 740-foot Niagara took on 30,000 tonnes of salt during its short stay in Goderich before setting sail for Ohio. Also joining the official welcoming ceremony was Gord Bell, the general foreman of shipping for Sift Salt.

In replying to the words of welcome, Capt. Leaney noted his appreciation for the port and revealed that he comes from a long line of sailors.

“Either this is the best job in the world,” said the captain, “or we just aren’t smart enough to do anything else!” The ceremony ended, as it has for almost 75 years, with the captain signing the inside of the old top hat before enjoying lunch with the mayor.

From the Goderich Signal Star


First Saltie of the Season Arrives in Toronto

3/28 - Capt. Vladimir Kobylkin of the Federal Manitou looked a little puzzled by the frenzy surrounding the 178-year-old beaver top hat. The hat, which was gently placed on Kobylkin's head by Port of Toronto Harbourmaster Angus Armstrong, is part of a rite of spring that marks the arrival of the first ocean-going cargo ship of the season -- otherwise known as a "saltie" for the time spent in salt water. The ship left Antwerp, Belgium, on March 9. "It's a sign that spring has finally arrived," Armstrong said. "This is the first one through the seaway, which opened about two or three days ago."

The top hat, made of beaver fur felt, originally belonged to Capt. John Hooper Meade, who moved here from England in 1828. Meade donated the hat in 1861 for the ceremony. When the tradition began, the captain would keep the hat for 24 hours. However, after several mishaps -- once the hat was found filled with beer in a waterfront pub -- the tradition changed. Now the irreplaceable hat is returned after the ceremony.

Armstrong said the Manitou, a 185-metre ship carrying 987 tonnes of automotive production machinery, is one of about 100 ships that will make its way to the city, carrying mostly construction material, this year. Yesterday the ship left about 387 tonnes in Toronto. The rest was to be unloaded in Hamilton. Armstrong said he expects an increase in shipping in the next few years. "It's because of all the office towers and condos -- there's been such a need for cement and asphalt," he said.

From the Toronto Sun


Great Lakes Cruises Gain Popularity
Michigan's landscapes attract tourists.

3/28 - Lansing - A hundred years ago, cruising on the Great Lakes was a popular vacation. Could it be making a comeback? "Americans are concentrating more on domestic travel over the last few years," said Maria Prezioso, marketing director of the American Canadian Caribbean Line, a company that runs overnight cruises on U.S. inland waters.

"Why cruise anywhere? It's enjoyable," Prezioso said. Michigan's landscapes, lighthouses, historic sites and architecture are big attractions for many travelers. Some port cities don't plan anything special for tourists who come ashore, but other places, like Marquette, are trying to show what makes their city special.

The cruise ship, The Columbus, operated by Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, has been coming to Marquette for three years. Pat Black, executive director of the Marquette Country Convention and Visitors Bureau, said her office is putting together itineraries for tourists when they come ashore. She recently sent several of her employees to a seminar to learn how to attract cruises to their communities.

Most Great Lakes cruises operate in late summer and early fall. "In late September we have all of this spectacular fall color going on," Black said. Tours of mining operations, lighthouses and trips to iron ore industry and maritime museums are on the list of things to do in the Marquette area. The 205-cabin Columbus is the largest cruise ship on the Great Lakes, and generally carries passengers who are not from Michigan. For example, a large number of Germans visit the Great Lakes on that ship, Black said, and students in local high school German classes meet with tourists.

"Down the road, I can see Marquette really getting into it," she said. "The development downtown will be really appealing." When guests arrive in port, it's up to them to decide what activities they will participate in. They can go on guided tours, explore local arts and crafts or travel independently. Ports are picked based on points of interest, Prezioso said. American Canadian Caribbean Line offers Great Lakes cruises of six to 10 nights, beginning in Chicago, with stops in Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota. Michigan ports include Manistee, Mackinaw City and Sault Ste. Marie.

The company has been in operation for 40 years, and has been touring the Great Lakes since then. When the company started, it offered a trip through Lake Ontario, but that was discontinued. Currently four to five cruise ships tour the Great Lakes each year.

Passengers have seen the Great Lakes from cruise ships since the early 1900s, when it was a faster way to get to Michigan's vacation destinations than driving. Some overnight cruises from Chicago to Michigan were popular for couples on their honeymoon.

From the South Bend Tribune


Port Reports - March 28

Saginaw River - Gordy Garris
Not long after the CSL Tadoussac had berthed at the Essorc Cement Terminal to unload on Monday, the tug Mark Hannah and her tank barge arrived calling on the Dow Chemical dock to unload. The pair were outbound for the lake later in the day. While the CSL Tadoussac is expected to depart for the lake herself around 8 p.m.

The Lafayette Bridge in Downtown Bay City is now set to open to car traffic and shipping in the river in early April.

Sandusky - Jim Spencer
The Algolake loaded at Sandusky's NS coal dock Monday and the Canadian Enterprise is slated to arrive for loading at the coal dock on Tuesday.

Kingston - Ron Walsh
A sure sign of spring is the return of the CCGC Cape Hearne to the Kingston for the shipping season. The SAR cutter is on 24 hour standby from the base in Portsmouth Olympic Harbour, Kingston.

The J. A. W. Iglehart is making her second trip to Bath this spring. She was due at mid-lake at 8:30 p.m. It is interesting to note the English River is still tied in Hamilton. The Stephen B. Roman is active carrying cement out of Picton.

The local tour boats Island Star, Island Queen and Island Belle are being readied and will soon be back at Crawford wharf. The small cruise vessel Canadian Empress will soon be ready for the year.

Hamilton - Eric Holmes
Monday saw the Algonorth finish unloading at the Dofasco ore dock and head out into the lake at 4 p.m. She is headed to Thunder Bay with clearance to Duluth in ballast.

The John D. Leitch departed the Dofasco coal dock at 7 p.m. and is headed to Detroit in ballast.


Updates - March 28

News Photo Gallery updated.

Public Photo Gallery updated

Calendar of Events has been updated.


Today in Great Lakes History - March 28

On 28 March 1997, the USS Great Lakes Fleet’s PHILIP R CLARKE set a record for a salt cargo on a U.S.-flag Laker when she loaded 25,325 tons at Fairport, Ohio for delivery to Toledo, Ohio. The previous record was 25,320 tons carried by American Steamship’s AMERICAN REPUBLIC in 1987.

On 28 March 1848, COLUMBUS (wooden sidewheeler, 391 tons, built in 1835, at Huron, Ohio) struck a pier at Dunkirk, New York during a storm and sank. The sidewheeler FASHION struck the wreck in November of the same year and was seriously damaged.

Data from: Joe Barr, Dave Swayze, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series. This is a small sample, the books includes many other vessels with a much more detailed history.


Dossin Museum Embarks on Rocky Journey
Curator's retirement signals change for historical society

3/27- Detroit - Faced with being laid off last month, John Polacsek decided to retire after 25 years of running Detroit's Dossin Great Lakes Museum on Belle Isle. He was the last history museum curator on the payroll of a city with two history museums.

The retirement underscores the challenges facing the nonprofit Detroit Historical Society as it takes over operations of the Dossin and the Detroit Historical Museum from the financially strapped City of Detroit. Bob Bury, the society's executive director, said the city's history museums embark on their uncertain future with only 11 full-time employees and a host of volunteers. Eventually, says Bury, he will hire some curators. But replacing Polacsek right away is out of the question as the society must raise at least $3 million a year to keep the museums running.

"Ten years ago we had a military curator, an industrial history curator, a social history curator, an education specialist and a marine curator -- me. Those positions are all gone," Polacsek said. In recent months, times have been so tough that the city had only one maintenance person to cover the Dossin, the Historical Museum and Historic Ft. Wayne.

An Ohio native, Polacsek, 55, has a master's degree in history from Bowling Green State University and is trained as an archivist. He fell in love with the study of the Great Lakes in college when he helped develop a database of 1,500 vessels that have sunk over the centuries in Michigan waters. Since taking control of the Dossin in 1981, Polacsek managed to add permanent features and raise funds and the museum's visibility. Detroit, he notes, was the busiest port on the lakes through much of the 19th and early 20th centuries. "In 1910, there were 12 million people who left the port of Detroit by boat," Polacsek said.

In 1992, Polacsek organized the recovery of an anchor from the Edmund Fitzgerald that the ship had lost in Detroit River ice 22 months before its famous sinking in 1975. The operation wound up being a fund-raising bonanza. "I thought that was one of John's finest hours," said Maude Lyon, who served as historical museums director from 1990 to 1999. The anchor rests today outside the Dossin, and Polacsek was standing next to it in a History Channel documentary that aired Wednesday night, discussing the Fitzgerald's disappearance for a national audience.

Among the other additions to the Dossin during Polacsek's watch was the pilothouse from the retired freighter William Clay Ford that workers spliced onto the museum so visitors can look out onto the river and pretend they are Great Lakes skippers. He also added a webcam that shows views of passing ships to Internet users, though the camera is currently out of order. Polacsek also helped build the Dossin's archive of Great Lakes information that includes data on 6,000 boats. With 35,000 slides and 55,00 prints, the museum's archives are used by researchers from around the world.

In losing Polacsek, the city's museums also lose the knowledge he has developed of a little-known aspect of local history -- the role of African-American sailors and Great Lakes steamships in the Underground Railroad. By reading all the abolitionist newspapers and papers from the various ports, Polacsek has reconstructed how certain steamships before and during the Civil War crisscrossed the lakes, ferrying runaway slaves to freedom in Canada. He hopes to publish a book on the subject.

Polacsek, who lives with his wife and teenage daughter on Detroit's east side, plans to work as an archivist, author and consultant. He is happy the Detroit City Council voted last week to spin off the museums to the historical society, but he worries about their future. "I don't see them as serving the same purpose as in the past. They're on a restricted time frame. I'm glad they're still open, but I hope things don't fall through the cracks."

From the Detroit Free Press


Good Luck John

BoatNerd would like to express our thanks to John Polacsek and wish him continued success in what ever lies next. John was the driving force behind the Belle Isle Web Cam at the Dossin Museum and many other projects that allowed the Dossin Collection/Events to be shared through the web and enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of viewers. Good Luck John!


Port Leader Webber Extends Olive Branch to Environmentalists Opposing Dredging Plan
Negotiated Agreement May End Dredging Standoff, Perk Up Port Prospects

3/27 - Bay City, MI - Dredging the Saginaw River is crucial to the tri-county economy, and must be started this year, says William G. Webber, president, Sargent Docks & Terminal and a member of the Saginaw River Alliance. Mr. Webber recommended lessening or elimination of contamination from upstream sources in a recent speech to the Tri-County Economics Club (TCEC).

That statement extended the olive branch from industry to environmentalists who are attempting to block the dredging through protests. Mr. Webber said dredging must begin this year or local industries and governments will suffer substantial financial losses. Some experts predict the upper river port in Saginaw could be virtually out of business in two years without dredging.

Mr. Webber said costs to government would increase by an estimated $18,770,000 per year without waterborne shipping. For example, both road salt and dry cement for road building would cost about $15 more per ton if they had to be shipped in by truck instead of by ship. He also sketched a vision for the river, noting "synergies may be created for import, export and other opportunities." Exports of agricultural and manufactured products will be enhanced by the dredging project, he said. The Saginaw River handles the second largest volume in the state, following only Detroit.

A lawsuit has been filed by Frankenlust Township to block disposal of the spoils dredged from the river on township property. Environmentalist Terry Miller of the Lone Tree Council agrees that dredging must go forward for commercial reasons. But at the same time his group seeks a response to dioxin contamination of the river silt and treatment of the dredged materials in the basin.

Silt build-up over the years has made the river near Saginaw so shallow that ships are having trouble turning around. Some of the 700-1000 foot vessels have to back all the way out to the river mouth at Essexville, according to reports last year from observers.

The Bay County Growth Alliance (BCGA) is attempting to mediate a dispute over dredging spoils from the Saginaw River that threatens the future of port operations. Cliff VanDyke, BCGA president, said he met privately last week with some of the parties involved in the dispute and reports a settlement could be possible. "Things don't look as bad as they did," said Mr. VanDyke. He hopes for an out-of-court settlement so dredging can proceed without any further confrontation.

However, Saginaw Public Works Commissioner James A. Koski told The Saginaw News last week that the Lakeshore Group of Highland Park would begin dredging May 11 as scheduled under a permit issued by the federal government. He contends that the dredging is a federal project and as such is exempt from local zoning.

A proposed $5.5 million project would build a 281 acre spoils disposal basin on the Zilwaukee-Frankenlust border to store more than 3 million cubic yards of river silt.

Mr. Koski predicted that an agreement to proceed with dredging will be worked out by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Saginaw County. Who depends on the Saginaw River? Mr. Webber cited road builders and contractors, foundries, automobile factories, power plants, farmers, municipalities, asphalt producers, concrete product fabricators, sugar factories, grain and corn brokers.

The Upper Saginaw River carries approximately 4 million tons per year, the equivalent of 106,000 truckloads. He cited these advantages of waterborne shipping: highway damage is lessened, road safety is increased, tremendous fuel savings and less pollution, fewer border and security concerns, and tremendous cost savings to consumers.

"It's all about supply," he said. The seasonal economy requires large supply all at once. Fertilizer has value only three weeks a year; salt has value only when the weather dictates. Rail and truck shipments could not meet seasonal demand, he said



Port Reports - March 27

Toronto - Charlie Gibbons
The first salty of the season arrived in port Saturday night. Federal Manitou went to Pier 35 south and Sunday was loading/unloading at the Atlas crane. In order to get into the slip, the tour boat Enterprise 2000 had to be shifted from it's winter lay-up berth to the the north side of Pier 35.

Stephen B. Roman finished unloading and departed early Sunday morning. The tug Evans McKeil brought the barge OC 181 in from Humber Bay (where work on the breakwall project is wrapping up) early Sunday and docked temporarily at Pier 28 while they re-rigged the barge for towing. They departed around 11:00 a.m.

Late Friday night, Canadian Miner was pulled out of the Redpath slip by Progress and Vigilant 1, and it was shifted to Pier 35 west. The Queen City Yacht Club's workboat Harold Robbins went into service for the season on Saturday.

South Chicago - Tom Milton
The St. Clair was spotted unloading in the Calumet River in South Chicago Sunday afternoon. The St Clair was self-unloading a dark gray / brownish material (slag?) alongside the dock just downriver from Carmeuse Lime.

Soo Locks - Gordy Garris
The Soo Locks at Sault Ste. Marie opened at 12:01 a.m. Saturday morning to the Arthur M. Anderson locking through shortly after the locks opened headed upbound light to Duluth (DM&IR). The tanker Algosar departed from Soo, Ontario and locked downbound around 7:02 a.m.. The Edwin H. Gott headed down bound through the Poe Lock loaded with ore from Two Harbors.

Finally with the morning traffic cleared, the Paul R. Tregurtha, which had docked along the East Centre Piers since Friday afternoon, pulled into the Poe Lock around 11:20 a.m. headed upbound light to Duluth (MWE).

Soon afterward the Mesabi Miner, docked across from the Tregurtha on the other side of the East Centre Piers since Friday evening, pulled into the Poe Lock around 1:00 p.m. headed upbound light to Two Harbors.
At 1:40 p.m. the Cedarglen locked through the Soo Locks headed downbound loaded with Grain from Thunder Bay.

The Columbia Star locked through the Poe Lock around 2:35 p.m. headed upbound light to Duluth (MWE). The tanker Algonova locked up bound around 3:12 p.m. with petroleum products to Thunder Bay.

At 3:37 p.m. fleetmate Algoville locked upbound light to Thunder Bay. The American Spirit locked through the Poe Lock around 5:08 p.m. headed upbound light to Superior.

Fleetmate Indiana Harbor locked through the Poe Lock around 5:45 p.m. headed downbound loaded with ore from Duluth.

The CSL Laurentien locked through the Soo Locks around 8:10 p.m. headed downbound with ore from Superior.

Finally, after a long first day at the Soo Locks with 14 different vessels over a course of 24 hours ended with the tug/barge combo Presque Isle locking through the Poe Lock at 10:00 p.m. headed upbound light to Duluth.

Marblehead - Jim Spencer
Mid-afternoon Sunday the Sam Laud was easing up to the stone dock at Marblehead to load.

Saginaw River - Gordy Garris
The tug Barbara Andrie and her tank barge A-390 returned to the Saginaw River early Sunday morning becoming the second visitor of the 2006 season. The pair were the first visitor of the 2006 season on January 15. The pair called on the Triple Clean Liquifuels dock to unload early Sunday morning.

The tug Barbara Andrie and her tank barge A-390 departed from the Triple Clean Liquifuels dock around 2:00 a.m. Monday morning and headed outbound for the lake. She passed the inbound CSL Tadoussac at Light 1 before continuing outbound. The CSL Tadoussac was inbound at the Front Range around 8:00 a.m. headed for the Essorc Cement Terminal to unload a 12-hour cargo. The tug Gregory J. Busch is expected to depart from Carrollton and head downriver to assist the Tadoussac in departing

The Lafayette bridge in Downtown Bay City may delay freighters wanting to get an early start on unloading in the upper river in Saginaw early this season unless the bridge is eventually reopened or the bridge spans are opened for river traffic 24-7 during the construction period.

This summer, the Saginaw River can be expected to be very busy, with many major events. July 20 - July 23 is the 2006 Tall Ship Festival in Bay City Michigan, the only Tall Ship destination in Michigan. This year's theme for the 2006 Tall Ship Festival is a Pirate theme, with the actual Tall Ship featured in the Pirates of the Caribbean Movie will participate in the 2006 Tall Ship Festival. The Great Lakes only see the Tall Ships every three years.

Hamilton - Eric Holmes
Sunday saw the Thalassa Desgagnes arrive at 6:30 a.m. The tug Glenevis and work barge departed at 7 a.m.
The Algosoo called the Burlington Lift Bridge at 9:15 a.m. and were told because of the Hamilton around the bay road race they would have to wait until approximately noon before they could enter the harbor. They finally tied up at 1:00 p.m. at Dofasco with coal from Sandusky. Their next port will be Ashtabula.

The Federal Manitou arrived at 8 p.m. from Toronto.

Other ships in the harbor are the tug John Spence and barge McAsphalt 401 at Pier 23, and the Algonorth at Dofasco unloading iron ore pellets.

Twin Ports - Al Miller
As expected, Sunday was a busy day in the Twin Ports as the first vessels arrived from the lower lakes to officially start the shipping season. Earlier arrivals included Paul R. Tregurtha, which was loading coal at Midwest Energy Terminal by early morning. By mid-afternoon, the scene was Paul R. Tregurtha loading at Midwest Energy, John G. Munson at DMIR, Halifax fueling at Murphy Oil dock, and Columbia Star arriving for Midwest Energy.


Updates - March 27

News Photo Gallery updated.

Public Photo Gallery updated

Calendar of Events has been updated.


Today in Great Lakes History - March 27

The steamer b.) EDWARD S KENDRICK was launched March 27, 1907, as a.) H P MC INTOSH (Hull#622) at West Bay City, Michigan by West Bay City Ship Building Co. for the Gilchrist Transportation Co., Cleveland, Ohio.

Nipigon Transport Ltd. (Carryore Ltd., mgr., Montreal, Quebec) operations came to an end when the fleet was sold on March 27, 1986, to Algoma Central's Marine Division at Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.

On 27 March 1841, BURLINGTON (wooden sidewheeler, 150 tons, built in 1837, at Oakville, Ontario) was destroyed by fire at Toronto, Ontario. Her hull was later recovered and the 98 foot, 3-mast schooner SCOTLAND was built on it in 1847, at Toronto.

On 27 March 1875, the steamer FLORA was launched at Wolf & Davidson's yard in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Her dimensions were 275 foot keel x 27 foot x 11 foot.

On 27 March 1871, the small wooden schooner EMMA was taken out in rough weather by the commercial fishermen Charles Ott, Peter Broderick, Jacob Kisinger and John Meicher to begin the fishing season. The vessel capsized at about 2:00 p.m., 10 miles southwest of St. Joseph, Michigan and all four men drowned.

C E REFERN (wooden schooner, 181 foot, 680 gross tons) was launched at West Bay City, Michigan by F. W. Wheeler (Hull #65) on 27 March 1890.

Data from: Joe Barr, Dave Swayze, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series. This is a small sample, the books includes many other vessels with a much more detailed history.


Ol' Mac's final crush: Toledo-built icebreaker headed for mothballs
Will visit Toledo April 14-16 on her farewell tour

3/26 - Toledo - When the St. Mary's River locks at Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., opened at 12:01 a.m. yesterday, it was a curtain call of sorts for an icebreaker built six decades ago in Toledo. For a little more than a week beforehand, the U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker Mackinaw had been breaking tracks through the frozen channels of the St. Mary's and adjoining Whitefish Bay so that yesterday Great Lakes freighters could resume hauling coal, iron ore, grain, and other commodities between Lakes Superior and Huron after a 10-week winter shutdown.

It's the job the Mackinaw was designed for when built during World War II at the Toledo Shipyard and launched in December, 1944, with a purpose of keeping Great Lakes cargo moving all winter long to supply war production with raw materials. But come June, when a replacement icebreaker is expected to complete its sea trials, the 290-foot-long "Mac" will be put into the mothballs.

"We are very appreciative of what the Mackinaw did for our industry over the years," said Glen Nekvasil, spokesman for the Lake Carriers' Association, representing U.S. Great Lakes ship operators. "It has kept commerce moving in wartime; it has kept commerce moving in peacetime. You could always rely on the Mackinaw."

For a time, the Coast Guard planned to retire the hulking icebreaker without replacing her. In April, 1993, officials declared they could not justify a $15 million overhaul and continuing annual operating expenses of $4.5 million, which included a crew of 75. Icebreaking duties would fall to a fleet of five 140-foot Coast Guard tugs that, if necessary, were to work in teams to tackle the toughest ice.

Shipping interests protested. The frigid winter of 1993-94, which was to have been the Mackinaw's last, froze Lake Superior, producing ice five feet thick in places and towering ice formations in Whitefish Bay. The tugs were overwhelmed and the Coast Guard relented, instead starting to plan for construction of a replacement vessel, for which a $90 million contract was awarded in 2001 to the Manitowoc Marine Group in Marinette, Wis.

While the winter of 2005-2006 has been relatively mild, Coast Guard officials said this week that there is still plenty of work for the Mackinaw. Ice in Whitefish Bay, at the eastern end of Lake Superior, is between 36 and 40 inches thick, and the windrows - stacks of ice that form as wind blows floes on top of each other - are eight to 12 feet high, said Mark Gill, a traffic supervisor for the Coast Guard. "The ice that the Mac's in, without the Mac, nobody's moving," Mr. Gill said.

The crew for the replacement vessel, also named Mackinaw and 240 feet long, is in operational and safety training, said PO Allyson Taylor Feller, a spokesman at the Coast Guard's 9th District headquarters in Cleveland. Although unique to the Coast Guard, officials said the new Mackinaw is based on a proven European icebreaker design. The new Mackinaw requires 25 fewer crew members to operate than her namesake and is more versatile: She is designed to operate as a buoy tender during the warmer months and to respond to distress calls and pollution incidents.

The old Mackinaw was ill-suited for purposes other than icebreaking. The veteran icebreaker is expected to remain in the Sault Ste. Marie area for the shipping season's startup to maintain shipping tracks and provide vessel assistance as needed but has been scheduled for port calls in the lower Great Lakes next month, including a call on Toledo from April 14-16. Tours will be available on the afternoon of the 14th, depending on the icebreaker's arrival time, and all day on the 15th, said Ens. Elizabeth Newton, the vessel's public affairs officer.

Among those likely to visit is Stan Pinkava, who was a 17-year-old welder at the shipyard when the original Mackinaw was built. "I welded the decks down, I welded the bulkheads," Mr. Pinkava said, adding that Coast Guard inspectors at the shipyard were very demanding about the quality of work done on the icebreaker. The vessel's thick hull plates, designed with ice-smashing in mind, "took many a weld," he said. Mr. Pinkava, now 78, marveled at the Mackinaw's longevity. "She put in some good years," he said. "She held up real well, though. Amazing!"

From the Toledo Blade


Boatnerd Reporters Wanted

The Boatnerd News Channel is always looking for news-worthy articles related Great Lakes and Seaway Shipping.

If you would like to be a Boatnerd Reporter, just type up the information and send it to or click on the handy "Report News" form in the upper left corner of the News Channel page.

News photos should be sent as attachments to your news article.

If you find a newspaper, or website, article that you think would be of interest to other 'Nerds, send along the link. We will check it out and use it if appropriate.


Boatnerd Calendar of Events

The Boatnerd Calendar of Events has been updated for 2006. New events are being added as they are received.

If your organization would like to be listed, please use the handy form available on the Calendar of Events page. Click on the icon in the upper right corner, or send the information to


Port Reports - March 26

Sturgeon Bay - Joan & Todd Wilson
The Adam E. Cornelius cleared the Bay Bridge in Sturgeon Bay on its way to Lake Michigan at 7:10 a.m. Saturday.

The Stewart J. Cort departed Bay Shipbuilding at 3:10 p.m., Saturday, bound for the waters of Green Bay.

Hamilton - Eric Holmes
The CSL Niagara arrived in Hamilton at 1:30 p.m. going to Stelco with coal from Sandusky. Her next port will be Sept. Ille Quebec. The Hamilton Energy returned to Pier 24 at 3:30 p.m. after refueling the CSL Niagara.

The Gordon C. Leitch departed winter lay up from Pier 25 at 3pm and headed out to the lake for Thunder Bay in ballast.

Goderich - Dale Baechler
Algolake finished loading at the Sifto Salt dock at 5:15 pm Saturday and departed heading down the lake. Algomarine was waiting patiently outside and proceeded into the inner harbour to make her turn around 6:00 pm. She should be departing early Sunday morning for a Lake Michigan port.

Milwaukee - Paul Erspamer
Saturday evening at about 7:30 p.m. Inland Lakes' steamer Alpena could be seen entering the Milwaukee breakwater. Alpena pivoted in the outer harbor, then backed up the Milwaukee River and into the mooring basin where it delivered cement to LaFarge on Jones Island.

Indiana Harbor - Gary Clark
Both the Wilfred Sykes and Joe Block were unloading at the same time Saturday afternoon at the former Inland Steel #2 dock in Indiana Harbor.

Toronto - Charlie Gibbons
Stephen B. Roman is finally back on the move. Departed temporary lay-up Friday and went to Picton, loaded cement, and returned to Toronto 9:00 p.m. Saturday.

Saginaw River - Todd Shorkey
The tug Barbara Andrie and her tank barge became to first repeat visitors to the Saginaw River in 2006 when the pair called on the Triple Clean Liquifuels dock in Essexville early Sunday morning. They had called on the Bit-Mat back in early January and so far are the only commercial traffic to call on the Saginaw River this year. The Barbara Andrie and her barge are expected to be outbound early Monday morning.

Owen Sound - Ed. Saliwonchyk
Algorail departed winter lay up in Owen Sound 11:00 a.m. Sunday.


Updates - March 26

News Photo Gallery updated.

Public Photo Gallery updated

Calendar of Events has been updated.


Today in Great Lakes History - March 26

On 26 March 1922, OMAR D CONGER (wooden passenger-package freight, 92 foot, 200 gross tons, built in 1887, at Port Huron, Michigan) exploded at her dock on the Black River in Port Huron with such violence that parts of her upper works and engine were thrown all over the city. Some said that her unattended boiler blew up, but others claimed that an unregistered cargo of explosives ignited. She had been a Port Huron-Sarnia ferry for a number of years.

The CITY OF MOUNT CLEMENS (wooden propeller "rabbit", 106 foot, 132 gross tons) was launched at the Chabideaux' yard in Mt. Clemens, Michigan on 26 March 1884. She was then towed to Detroit to be fit out. She was built for Chapaton & Lacroix. She lasted until dismantled in 1921.

Data from: Joe Barr, Dave Swayze, Father Dowling Collection and the Historical Collections of the Great Lakes.


Polsteam Order Bulkers From China

Szczecin based Polish Steamship Company (POLSTEAM) is using some of the windfall cash from the good bulker market of recent years to order two more 37,600-dwt ships at the Xingang Shipyard, as well as six approximately 30,000-dwt Lakers at the Hantong Shipyard, China. Polsteam sources confirm that orders are likely to be signed this week.

The move means the company will have placed contracts for a total of 10 handy size bulkers at Xingang. It previously ordered eight, of which four have been delivered. (The first three are named Kujawy, Mazury and Warmia) "The remainder are scheduled for completion in 2008 and 2009.

Polsteam's latest renewal programme is expected to involve eventually 34 newbuildings costing an estimated $700 million to $800 million. Its investment strategy for the next 10 to 15 years involves the building of around six 76,000-dwt panamax bulkers, four of 37,600-dwt, six of 33,000-dwt to 38,000-dwt, eight of 30,000-dwt and 10 of 15,000-dwt to 18,000-dwt.

The 100% state-owned company intends to dispose of an equal number of older ships, many of which will be scrapped. It needs the Lakers to fulfil contracts, including a substantial one with European steel maker Corus. It is likely that the existing six Ziemia type Lakers of around 26,700-dwt from the mid 1980s will be demolished when the newbuildings arrive. (This refers to the Ziemia Chelminska, Gnieznienska, Suwalska, Tarnowska, Zamojska and the Pomorze Zachodnie that were all built in 1984 and 1985. Not affected are Ziemia Gornoslaska which was built in 1990 and Ziemia Cieszynska and Lodzka which were built in 1992).

The cost of the latest raft of new buildings has not been disclosed. Polsteam's first handysize new buildings at Xingang cost around $16.7 million each but average prices have since escalated by a further $10 million. The Lakers will add to Hantong's existing backlog of around six 30,000-dwt bulkers for delivery in 2008 to Clipper of Denmark.

Reported by Jeff Cameron from Tradewinds magazine


Port Reports - March 25

Toronto - Charlie Gibbons
The James Norris shifted from Pier 35 to Pier 51 Thursday morning under her own power. Unloading has been completed on Canadian Miner and she sits at the Redpath Sugar dock awaiting sailing orders.

The tug Ours Polaire and the water taxi Robert L. brought the tour boat River Gambler into port last night and returned it to it's summer dock. The Gambler spent the winter at Ontario Place, and is now readying for a charter next week. After the tow, Ours Polaire rafted to Radium Yellowknife, which earlier in the day rafted itself to Salvage Monarch, opening up the berth for the tour boat Canadian Empress which normally occupies that spot.

Eastern Lake Erie - Brian Wroblewski
The CSL Niagara was heading through Long Point bound for the Welland Canal with coal for Hamilton at 7:15 PM on Friday afternoon. Later that evening the John D. Leitch departed the Welland Canal and headed Westbound on the lake. She was soon followed by the Algocape. The tug Sea Eagle II was pushing her barge St. Marys Cement across the lake that night as well.

Goderich - Dale Baechler
Algolake backed into the Sifto Salt dock early Saturday morning and is presently loading under cool damp conditions.


Updates - March 25

News Photo Gallery updated.

Public Photo Gallery updated


Today in Great Lakes History - March 25

HENRY G DALTON (Hull#713) was launched March 25, 1916, at Lorain, Ohio by American Ship Building Co., for the Interlake Steamship Co., Cleveland, Ohio, the company's first 600 footer.

FRANK R DENTON was launched March 25, 1911, as a.) THOMAS WALTERS (Hull#390) at Lorain, Ohio by American Ship Building Co. for the Interstate Steamship Co., Cleveland, Ohio.

On March 25, 1927, heavy ice caused the MAITLAND NO 1, to run off course and she grounded on Tecumseh Shoal on her way to Port Maitland, Ontario. Eighteen hull plates were damaged which required repairs at Ashtabula, Ohio.

The steamer ENDERS M VOORHEES participated in U.S. Steel's winter-long navigation feasibility study during the 1974-75 season, allowing only one month to lay up from March 25th to April 24th.

March 25, 1933 - Captain Wallace Henry "Andy" Van Dyke, Master of the Steamer PERE MARQUETTE 22, suffered a heart attack and died peacefully in his cabin while en route to Ludington, Michigan.

Data from: Max Hanley, Joe Barr, Father Dowling Collection, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series. This is a small sample, the books includes many other vessels with a much more detailed history.


Seaway Officially Opens 48th Navigation Season

3/24 - St. Lambert, Québec - The Montreal/Lake Ontario section of the St. Lawrence Seaway officially opened today for its 48th shipping season with the transit of the M/V Beluga Emotion at the St. Lambert Lock. Destined for Valleyfield where the vessel will take on a load of cement pipe, the 9,611 deadweight tonne multi-purpose cargo vessel has a complement of 16 sailors. Today’s ceremonies followed the opening of the Welland Canal on March 21st, the earliest start ever for the Canal, which marked the commencement of its 75th year of operation.

Having completed a successful season in 2005 with 43.3 million tonnes of traffic, the Seaway is pressing ahead with a number of initiatives in 2006. “In 2005, we consolidated the gains we made in 2004, while moving into a number of new markets” noted Richard Corfe, President and CEO of The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation. “Given the steep growth in cargo volumes straining land based arteries, we see real potential to use our Hwy H2O for short sea shipping operations as a means to complement existing intermodal connections.”

The flexible toll structure introduced in 2005 to encourage smaller shipments via the Welland Canal resulted in over 215,000 tonnes of new cargo coming into our system. In 2006, we have expanded this program to cover our entire Seaway system by eliminating the Gross Registered Tonnage charge for new cargo on the Montreal/Lake Ontario section. Our Hwy H2O campaign will feature a series of workshops on cargo and a conference focusing on, amongst other topics, the means to finance construction of new vessels and infrastructure within the system. In addition, a trade mission to China will explore avenues to route freight via East Coast ports and the Seaway to complement the existing routes that are plagued by congestion.

At the ceremony, Richard Corfe was joined by his U.S. counterpart, Albert Jacquez, Administrator of the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation, in marking the Seaway’s participation in the Green Marine initiative. “Quality of life should be an important aspect within every policy decision, and our marine highway can make a major contribution to lessening the chronic congestion on our roads and border crossings, improving air quality, and reducing energy consumption, as the marine mode is the most fuel efficient mode of transportation” emphasized Mr. Corfe.

Seaway News Release


Dossin Museum Transferred by City of Detroit

3/24 - After receiving approval to take over operations of the Detroit Historical Museum and the Dossin Great Lakes Museum, officials at the Detroit Historical Society say they must launch a fund-raising and marketing campaign to secure the institutions' future. The Detroit City Council approved the transfer on a 7-1 vote Wednesday.

Unlike the Detroit Zoological Society, which said it would seek a regional tax to help run the Detroit Zoo after it struck a similar operational agreement with the city earlier this month, the historical society said it planned to turn to the private sector, as well as state and federal grants. "We're ready to move forward," said Robert Bury, the historical society's executive director and chief executive officer. He did not provide specifics, but said the campaign will begin soon. He did, however, say he does not foresee any cuts in the museums' hours or increases in admissions prices.

As was the case with the zoo, the cash-strapped city, which is facing a potential budget gap that could top $262 million, agreed to the management deal with the nonprofit historical society because it can no longer afford to run the museums.

The council's approval saves the city about $1 million and keeps the institutions open for the 250,000 people who visit them annually -- about 40% of them are schoolchildren on field trips -- and the 300 volunteers who have been keeping the museums running since mid-February when the city laid off 12 employees. "We're really, really glad it's done," said Kathy McGraw, who worked as a guide at the Dossin for 10 years and now volunteers coordinating special events. "I don't want to say elated because funds have to be raised, but now the future of both museums ... is more secure."

Under the agreement, the city still owns the museums and will give the historical society $500,000 for the next two years to help with the transition. The city will still run Historic Ft. Wayne, although the historical society will operate the Collections Resource Center at the fort, which houses the museums' artifacts. The historical society will need to raise a little more than $1 million this year -- the amount needed to round out the $2.6-million budget needed to operate the museums for a year. The society has about $1 million on hand.

Bury said for the long-term, the historical society needs to diversify its fund-raising sources and plans to target state and federal grants, as well as private donors and foundations. He said society officials have not yet specifically identified where the money will come from. The museum also plans to increase its revenues by marketing the museums as places to hold events, from corporate parties to weddings. They started those efforts during the Super Bowl when they held four celebrity parties at the Historical Museum that netted them $20,000. Bury said he was optimistic about the museums' future and he expects the society to rehire six of the laid-off workers, bringing the total number of staff employees for the museums to 25.

Councilwoman JoAnn Watson was the only council member to vote against the deal. Council President Pro Tem Monica Conyers was absent for the vote.


New Group Looking to Restore Marine Star/Aquarama

A new group, Marine Star Seas Project, a ministry of MEDIC International, is proposing a new use for the passenger vessel Marine Star (Ex-Aquarama). The group is promoting the idea of converting the former WWII troop ship into a floating classroom for missionaries.

Their website at states "The Marine Star Seas (Sustainable Education at Sea) Project is a non-profit partnership venture under the auspices of Mercy Economic Development International Corporation aka MEDIC INTERNATIONAL and Mercy Economic Development International Canada Corporation aka MEDIC Canada .

The project is currently looking for a Christian Education Institution or a College consortium to be our on board education Partners and Administrators. Their goal is to restore the Marine Star prior to beginning the education part of the mission.


Itasca County Faced with Big Decisions
MSI, Excelsior projects need big ticket actions

3/24 - Grand Rapids — Itasca County will face a number of decisions in the coming two months about just how far it wants to go in financially supporting the proposed Minnesota Steel and Excelsior projects. The Minnesota Steel project proposal has the ambition of developing an iron ore processing and steel production facility near Nashwauk. The Excelsior Energy Project proposes a coal gasification plant near Taconite. Minnesota Steel officials have estimated that the project brings to the table 700 permanent jobs. Excelsior Energy officials have previously stated that its project will bring 100 permanent jobs to the area.

Several infrastructure elements needed for the proposed developments to move forward will be discussed with county commissioners in the weeks ahead. On Tuesday at a special meeting of the board, commissioners listened to an update from Short, Elliott and Hendrickson officials, with which the county has contracted to oversee the infrastructure for the proposed projects, on where the challenges are and what decisions will likely lie ahead.

According to Chuck Michael of SEH, major infrastructure elements required for the economic development projects to move forward include railroad, roadway, gas pipeline, fresh water supply and wastewater treatment. Roads and railways will be the main county elements of involvement — gas pipeline, water and wastewater treatment will largely be under the jurisdiction of the cites of Nashwauk and Taconite. Already, however, the county faces potential financial outlay for the projects in the form of required aerial photography, which must be completed before infrastructure planning can begin. The current estimated pricetag for that service is about $210,000 for both projects and there is some question about if the county footed the bill if reimbursement would be possible.

While the governor has included $7 million in his bonding proposal for infrastructure for both sites, a number which falls far short of the $92.4 million requested by the county, bonding money may not be a source of reimbursement for aerial photography — unless expressly written into legislation. County Attorney Jack Muhar noted that reimbursement for upfront costs was an issue with the bonding money allocated for the MSI project. The difficulties with determining just how far the county wants to risk its own financial resources was put into focus by Michael, who noted that financial contingencies could delay development. "If the bonding bill passes contingent on financial close, it puts the (construction) schedule six months behind," he said.

Financial close of the Minnesota Steel project is expected to take place in December of this year and hinges on completion of environmental review and the permitting process, according to Howard Hilshorst of Minnesota Steel. It is unlikely that the timetable can be moved up, but infrastructure construction needs to begin this summer to keep the project on schedule. The question then for the county, said Michael, becomes how far the county wants to go in its financial commitment. "How much does the county want to jump the gun to help meet the timeline?" Michael asked commissioners.

Michael suggested that going back to aerial photography vendors for potential reduction in price was one option which would potentially pose less risk to the county. The aerial photography would likely need to be completed by the end of April to keep the Minnesota Steel project on schedule for production to begin at the outset of 2009. Commissioner Catherine McLynn also suggested that perhaps the county could look at aerial photography for the Minnesota Steel project only, which has a tighter timeline than Excelsior Energy. That move could bring the potential cost down to just more than $60.000.

From the Mesabi Daily News


Port Reports - March 24

Sturgeon Bay - Wendell Wilke
Shortly after noon on Thursday the John G. Munson departed winter lay up at Bay Shipbuilding northbound towards Sherwood Point and the Bay of Green Bay.

Twin Ports - Al Miller
Edgar B. Speer emerged from winter lay up on Thursday as it departed at midday for Two Harbors to load taconite pellets. While the Speer was leaving port, the James R. Barker was fueling at the Murphy Oil depot. By early afternoon, it was backing up St. Louis Bay to load pellets at the DMIR ore dock.

Vessels in the Twin Ports lay up fleet continued to get under way Thursday. Charles M. Beeghly and Philip R. Clarke both departed overnight for Two Harbors. Indiana Harbor left its berth to fuel at Murphy Oil dock before loading coal at Midwest Energy Terminal and leaving port.

At this point, the entire Great Lakes Fleet is active. The first trips are: Edgar B. Speer loaded at Two Harbors and is due at Conneaut on Sunday; Edwin H. Gott is due at Gary Sunday; Presque Isle is due at DMIR Duluth on Sunday; Roger Blough is due in Gary on Sunday; Arthur M. Anderson is due in Two Harbors on Sunday; Cason J. Callaway is due in Green Bay on Saturday; Philip R. Clarke is due in Conneaut on Monday; and John G. Munson is due in Duluth on Sunday.

As indicated above, Sunday will be a busy day in Duluth and Superior, with the season’s first wave of up bound vessels expected to arrive. Those scheduled for that day include Columbia Star, Paul R. Tregurtha, Herbert C. Jackson, and Canadian Enterprise, all for Midwest Energy Terminal; John G. Munson and Presque Isle for DMIR; and American Spirit for BNSF ore dock.

Soo Locks -
The Arthur M. Anderson will be the first vessel through the Soo Locks to open the 2006 season. The Anderson arrived and tied up at the east center pier Thursday afternoon to await the opening.

Alpena - Ben & Chanda McClain
On Tuesday the tugboat Manitou was tied up in the Thunder Bay River. The Manitou delivered a barge of cranes that were needed at Lafarge, along with the disabled tug Kathy Lynn. The Manitou waited in port a few days for the winds to subside before leaving to take the Kathy Lynn to Cheboygan. The pair was seen heading out into the bay Thursday morning.
On Thursday the McKee Sons/ tug Invincible started the 2006 shipping season at Stoneport, by taking on the first load of stone. The St. Clair is the next scheduled vessel for Friday morning.
The G. L. Ostrander/barge Integrity and the Steamer Alpena are both expected to be in port on Friday to load at Lafarge.

Goderich - Dale Baechler
Algomarine came into port through the night Thursday, loaded during the night and departed at 9:30 a.m. heading for Detroit.

Grand Haven - Jim Lindholm
McKee Son's was unloading coal Wednesday at the Municipal Power Plant.

Marquette - Lee Rowe
The Michipicoten was expected in Marquette to get a load of ore Thursday night but ice has kept her at Algoma. She is now expected Friday night late or early Saturday as the first ore boat of the season.


Updates - March 24

News Photo Gallery updated.

Public Photo Gallery updated

Calendar of Events has been updated.


Today in Great Lakes History - March 24

ALPENA (Hull#177) was launched on March 24, 1909, at Wyandotte, Michigan by Detroit Ship Building Co. for the Wyandotte Transportation Co.

IRVIN L CLYMER was launched March 24, 1917, as a.) CARL D BRADLEY (Hull#718) at Lorain, Ohio, by American Ship Building Co. the third self-unloader in the Bradley Transportation Co. fleet.

The SAMUEL MATHER was transferred on March 24, 1965, to the newly formed Pickands Mather subsidiary Labrador Steamship Co. Ltd. (Sutcliffe Shipping Co. Ltd., operating agents), Montreal, Quebec to carry iron ore from their recently opened Wabush Mines ore dock at Pointe Noire, Quebec to U.S. blast furnaces on Lakes Erie and Michigan. She was renamed b.) POINTE NOIRE.

PETER ROBERTSON was launched March 24, 1906, as a) HARRY COULBY (Hull#163) at Wyandotte, Michigan by Detroit Ship Building Co. for the L. C. Smith Transit Co., Syracuse, New York.

On 24 March 1874, the 181 foot, 3-mast wooden schooner MORNING STAR was launched at E. Saginaw, Michigan by Crosthwaite.

On 24 March 1876, CITY OF SANDUSKY (wooden side-wheel passenger/package freight vessel, 171 foot, 608 gross tons, built in 1866, at Sandusky, Ohio) burned and sank in the harbor at Port Stanley, Ontario.

On 24 March 1876, MINNIE CORLETT (wooden scow-schooner, 107 gross tons, built before 1866) was sailing light from Chicago, Illinois to Two Rivers, Wisconsin on Lake Michigan when she stranded and then sank. No lives were lost.

Data from: Joe Barr, Dave Swayze, Father Dowling Collection, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series. This is a small sample, the books includes many other vessels with a much more detailed history.


Hallett Relocating Dock to Superior

3/23 - More than $2.2 million will be invested in the Port of Superior as Hallett Dock Co. relocates its upstream West Duluth bulk terminal to Wisconsin. Gov. Jim Doyle was scheduled to announce the project this afternoon in Superior, presenting city officials a $1.8 million Harbor Assistance grant to help complete harbor improvements for Hallett, which will contribute more than $400,000.

The bulk commodities firm is being forced out of Slip 6, located just upstream of the former Arrowhead Bridge in West Duluth, because the slip has become part of the Stryker Bay cleanup project. Contaminated sediment in the Stryker Bay Superfund site is being dredged and deposited in Hallett's slip, where it will be permanently capped. Hallett will retain its upstream West Duluth property, however, for development into a non-maritime industrial park, and will continue to operate its terminal near the DM&IR docks.

Moving to Superior "gives us an opportunity to expand," said Hallett Operations Vice President Bill McGiffert. Dock and channel improvements will allow larger vessels to have better unloading access to the property, said Jason Serck, Superior Port and Planning Director. For more than a decade, access to Hallett's West Duluth dock has been hindered by insufficient St. Louis River channel depth, limiting the amount of cargo that visiting ships could load. A plan to dredge the channel was rejected when Superiorites objected to having the dredge spoils deposited in the city's Municipal Forest. "It will enable larger ships to come in, and it couldn't be done without state help," said Rep. Robert Jauch, D-Poplar, who encouraged Doyle to support the investment.

The Harbor Assistance grant, according to a statement released by Doyle's office, will pay for construction of dock walls and for dredging the harbor channel to 27 feet. Hallett is providing the required 20 percent local match. Work on the project should be completed by fall. "Through my Grow Wisconsin plan, we have put a strong emphasis on strategically investing in our transportation infrastructure so that we can support economic growth," Doyle said in a news release before his 2 p.m. scheduled appearance at the Hallett site. "And the investments we're making here in Superior offer tremendous economic benefits, not only for Hallett Dock, but for the entire region."

Initially, Hallett will handle three commodities, McGiffert said: Blast furnace slag from the Lower Great Lakes, which is needed in the Twin Cities. Limestone for sugar beat processing along Minnesota's Red River Valley. Road salt for use during the winter. "We hope to add more products over time." McGiffert said. "We'll retain our current jobs and hopefully add more."

Hallett is confident about the investment. "We think railroads are having problems moving products, and traffic is moving toward ships," McGiffert said. That's becoming a growing problem, said Dr. Richard Stewart, director of the Transportation and Logistics Research at the University of Wisconsin-Superior. "Right now, many railroads on several corridors are operating at or near capacity," he said, noting the United States currently has just half of the railroad track it had in the 1960s.

Also during that period, little capacity has been added to the interstate highway system. Today, the cost to build four lanes in a rural area is $25 million per mile. "In comparison, we have a 100-lane highway called the Great Lakes that costs the state nothing to build or maintain," Stewart said.

Some development already has occurred at the site, formerly used by the Incan Superior, with a scale house and shop in place. A rail connection to existing Burlington Northern Railroad tracks is part of Hallett's expansion plan.

Reported by Al Miller from the Superior Daily Telegram


Minntac Eyes St. Louis River
Under a revised plan, the U.S. Steel operation would dump tailings water into the St. Louis River.

3/23 - Officials of U.S. Steel's Minntac operations are drafting a plan to pump 7.2 million gallons of water every day out of its taconite tailings basin into the St. Louis River. Minntac has decided the St. Louis River is a better option than the Dark River, a trout stream that was the company's original choice, or the Sandy River, which would have sent the excess water into Lake Vermilion. The company revealed its decision to local groups and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency in recent weeks, said John Armstrong, spokesman for U.S. Steel.

It expects to submit the plan to the state as a draft permit application in June or July. "We don't have anything formal from them yet, but that's the way they are leaning at this point," said Jeff Udd of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's industrial permitting office in Duluth. But the St. Louis River option is far from a done deal and has opponents. The plan faces several public hearings and must be approved by the MPCA staff and citizens board.

Minntac has been asking to let more water out of its tailings basin for years. The plant uses about 250,000 gallons of water every minute to make taconite -- separating ore from rock, cleaning air pollution scrubbers, then moving waste rock into the tailings basin. The giant storage basin is ringed by more than nine miles of dikes and can hold 18 billion gallons of water.

For 30 years, Minntac has recycled much of that water back through the plant. But the repeatedly recycled water is becoming choked with solids and corrosive chlorides. Using cloudy water to make pellets can affect quality and foul plant equipment, the company says. The basin isn't in danger of overflowing, but company officials say discharging more water -- 7.2 million gallons a day, or 2.6 billion gallons per year -- would extend the basin's life. Besides containing sediment, chlorides and sulfates, the water's sheer volume makes it an issue no matter where the company looks for an outlet.

The PCA finished its Environmental Impact Statement on the issue in September but didn't decide which direction the excess water should flow. Public comments criticized the Dark River and Sandy River options because of increased water flow, higher temperature, sediments, sulfates and possibly mercury that could affect fish, wild rice and people. The company's new, preferred option would send the water south, into the West Two Rivers Reservoir system, which flows into the St. Louis River and, eventually, into Lake Superior. "That's the direction the EIS essentially pushed them, the option with the least environmental impact," Udd said. "Of course, that doesn't mean there's no environmental impact."

The PCA could decide to do nothing, allowing no additional diversion out of the Minntac tailings basin. Another option would be to require a treatment plant to clean the water before it's released. Only one other Minnesota taconite plant, Northshore Mining in Silver Bay, is required to treat water that leaves its tailings basin. Sulfates are considered a possible human health issue because they can trigger mercury in the streams to become toxic. That mercury, called methyl mercury, can build up in fish and in people who eat fish. Environmental groups are expected to oppose the discharge south because the St. Louis River is the largest U.S. tributary to Lake Superior, which has stringent mercury emission limits.

But company officials say they can meet those limits because tests show taconite tailings effectively bind mercury and take it out of the water. The company also is testing a reverse osmosis treatment system for water going into the tailings basin in an effort to remove sulfates before they become an issue, said Scott Vagle, a Minntac environmental manager. "The mercury discharge will be below the Great Lakes standard of 1.3" parts per trillion, Vagle said. About 4 million gallons of Minntac water seeps out of the tailings basin each day, allowed under a current permit. Most of that flows north. The revised PCA permit would allow the company to make a direct discharge into a river.

A public meeting on Minntac's plans are expected April 20 in Virginia. PCA staff is expected to make a decision on the permit by November when more public hearings will be held before any staff decision goes to the PCA citizens board for a final vote, probably in about a year.

From the Duluth News Tribune


Rochester in No Hurry on $30 Million Ferry Bid
Ship has many suitors, says Duffy; 'can't put timeline' on deal

3/23 - An overseas investor interested in Rochester's high-speed ferry said he is willing to pay more than the $30 million he offered for the ship earlier this month, but the city does not appear interested. "As it looks like right now, they are not going to give it to us," John Paul Airs, CEO of Shikara Holdings LLC, said in a phone interview. "I think it's become too political now, and I think they're looking for a blue chip operation. We're a new company ... but you've got to start somewhere."

Shikara is the investment arm of Navmed Limited, based in Folkestone, England. How city officials view Navmed's bid for Rochester's Spirit of Ontario ferry is unclear. But the company's vocal interest mirrored in the foreign press has sparked a flurry of media attention here. Navmed plans a three-ship operation crossing the English Channel, with the Spirit of Ontario tagged for a route between Dover, England, and Boulogne, France.

City officials have declined to comment on specific interest shown in the ferry. Mayor Robert Duffy said Tuesday that the ship has not been sold but the city continues to negotiate with several potential buyers. He has said the city is not negotiating with Navmed, which would be the ship operator, but it is unclear whether Shikara has a seat at the table. "We are having a lot of activity," Duffy said. "We certainly have negotiations going on with a number of parties. ... I really can't put a timeline on it. The deal has not been finalized yet — any deal."

The city backed a $40 million loan last year and created Rochester Ferry Co., which bought the ship in February 2005 for $32 million. But ticket sales for the resurrected Rochester-to-Toronto service lagged and the venture lost $10 million in 10 months. Duffy announced Jan. 10 that the city was pulling the plug and would sell the ship, which remains docked at the Port of Rochester.

Airs, who also is Navmed's CEO, said he signed and submitted a $30 million bid to the city more than 10 days ago to meet a city deadline but the city has yet to respond. "We have never snubbed or directly not answered an offer from a serious buyer," city spokesman Gary Walker said, describing the city's negotiating efforts as professional, forthright and honest. "But we can't really control how other folks or other entities characterize this."

Airs said he has "proven" to the city his company has $30 million available, and to Port of Dover officials that it has the equivalent of $54 million (U.S.). Shikara formed in April 2005 and gets its money from Middle Eastern investors, Airs said. Navmed formed last month. He said the Spirit of Ontario is "like a pair of Italian shoes, handmade and a perfect fit." "We would like to discuss our bid," said Airs, who has yet to inspect the ship but claims to have reviewed all pertinent documents and drawings. He planned to come see the ship once he was on solid footing with the city. "We're waiting. I keep hearing they (Rochester officials) are going to write."

One broker who claims to have spoken with Duffy and Corporation Counsel Tom Richards says there should only be one qualification: "Money. M-O-N-E-Y," said ship broker Bill Mollard with Jacque Pierot Jr. & Sons in New York. Mollard said he last spoke with Richards on Feb. 2 but has not heard back. Selling the ship should take 30 to 60 days, he said. "It isn't complicated. It's a piece of steel that's sitting on Lake Ontario," he said, adding that the ship's attributes and good condition would make for a quick sale but buyers must be able to deliver the money up front.

Overseas, Navmed is reportedly one of two potential operators — the other reportedly a company called Fidentia — vying to start up a new service at the already busy Dover port. Keith Southey, spokesman for the Port of Dover, said discussions have been ongoing for some time with unresolved details that include berthing slots to dock the ships.

"When this sale is done, and we're counting the money ... we'll be willing to share every step of the negotiations with the public and the media," Walker said. "But we're not going to share that information in the middle of negotiations. It's too important ... we want to get the most we can for this boat."

From the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle


Wreck of the Griffon is 'Holy Grail' of Great Lakes Lore

3/23 - The ''Holy Grail'' of the Great Lakes may lie 100 feet underwater in the Upper Peninsula's Delta County. But a legal fight over rights to the wreck so far has prevented anyone from confirming whether a shipwreck near Poverty Island in northern Lake Michigan is indeed the fabled Griffon. The state of Michigan, shipwreck explorer Steve Libert, The Field Museum of Chicago - even the French government - need to reach a settlement that will allow researchers to determine if the Griffon has at last been found.

The little ship is one of the most enduring legends of the Great Lakes. Built in 1679 near Niagara, N.Y., it was the ship of French explorer Rene Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle. The little ship, loaded with furs, supposedly sank in a storm that same year after bringing La Salle to Green Bay. If the timbers that Libert found in 2001 are the Griffon, the wreck would be the oldest in the Great Lakes. And a cherished piece of Great Lakes history.

For now, put aside the legal wrangling over who owns the wreck. Let the experts determine whether this wreck is the lost Griffon. Worthy of a fight. And a prominent place in Great Lakes history.

Editorial from the Bay City Times


Port Reports - March 23

South Chicago Steve B.
The Joseph L. Block departed the KCBX south dock with a load of coal at 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday. Its departure was delayed by a motorist that drove through the bridge gate at 100th St. The gate had to be repaired before the operator could lift the bridge.
The Block met the inbound Kaye E. Barker outside Calumet Harbor around 1:30 p.m., and headed north up the lake. The Kaye E. Barker arrived in Calumet Harbor about 1:45, where she turned and backed in stern first towards KCBX. Both vessels had to contend with a bit of barge traffic on the river.

St. Lawrence Seaway - René Beauchamp
The St. Lawrence Seaway will open tomorrow. First ship scheduled to transit will be Beluga Emotion for Valleyfield and the second one Pineglen for Indiana Harbor. Both are leaving the Port of Montreal today to go to the lower wall of the St. Lambert Lock. Pineglen wintered in Montreal and was reactivated a few days ago to go to Port Cartier to load.

Sturgeon Bay - Wendell Wilke
On Wednesday, at 11:30 a.m., Wilfred Sykes departed lay up in Sturgeon Bay and headed north for Escanaba.

Hamilton - Eric Holmes
Wednesday saw the Hamilton Energy depart at 7:15 a.m. for Toronto to refuel an unknown ship. She returned to Pier 24 Hamilton at 3:30 p.m. and was going over to refuel the Gordon C. Leitch at Pier 25. The CSL Assiniboine arrived at 4:00 p.m. with coal from Sandusky for Stelco. The Algocape departed her winter lay up at 6:00 p.m. heading out into the lake for Clarkson in ballast.

Hamilton - first ship in port - Brian
The CSL Assiniboine has taken the honour of becoming the first ship into the Port of Hamilton. The ship, owned by Canada Steamship Lines, cleared the Skyway Bridge shortly after 4 p.m. yesterday and arrived at Stelco's Pier 16 at about 4:30 p.m.

Officials from the Port of Hamilton clamored on board an hour later to present Captain Darryl Brain with the traditional top hat signifying the opening of the port to navigation. "It's a fairly momentous day for us," said authority spokesman Brent Kinnaird. "It signifies the start to a new year." He said the authority believes it's on track to increase tonnage accepted at the port this year. In 2005, it received 12.4 million tonnes. Over the last five seasons the port has accepted about 12 million tonnes per year. The port is visited by more than 700 vessels each year.

The Assiniboine arrived from Sandusky, Ohio, with a cargo of coal for the steel company. The self-loading vessel is set to leave the port sometime this morning. Linda MacDonald, the port's new harbourmaster, welcomed Capt. Brain to Hamilton.

From the Hamilton Spectator

Holland - Bob VandeVusse
For the fifth year in a row Undaunted/Pere Marquette 41 opened the shipping season at Holland, delivering a load of coal to the James DeYoung power plant Wednesday evening. They tied up at the dock just before 10:00 p.m. Captain Tom Dawes received the pair of wooden shoes that is traditionally given for the first vessel in the Tulip City. Once unloaded they will head back to the KCBX dock in Chicago for at least one more load for Holland.

Toronto - Charlie Gibbons
Today saw the first real shipping activity in port this season. Hamilton Energy arrived from Hamilton to bunker Algoville, and both departed shortly thereafter. Still Watch, which wintered in Cobourg, Ontario, returned to Toronto late Tuesday night. Unloading continued on Canadian Miner at the Redpath Sugar dock. The Stephen B. Roman remains in port in temporary lay-up.

Twin Ports - Alan Miller
Roger Blough began its season Wednesday when it departed from its layup berth at the Duluth port terminal. By late afternoon, the Edwin H. Gott also was under way, passing beneath the Blatnik Bridge on its way to load at the DMIR ore docks.

Marquette - Rod Burdick
James R. Barker opened Marquette on Saturday with a load of western coal from Superior.

Sturgeon Bay -Wendell Wilke
Wilfred Sykes which departed Bay Shipbuilding Wednesday was southbound through the Sturgeon Bay Ship Channel at 7:30am today. Encountering ice off Sherwood Point, the Sykes and remained there thru Wednesday night. She changed coarse early Thursday morning and headed back southbound for Lake Michigan.

At 8:30 a.m. Thursday morning the St. Clair left winter lay up at Bay Shipbuilding and headed southbound through the ship canal for Lake Michigan.


Updates - March 23

News Photo Gallery updated.

Public Photo Gallery updated

Calendar of Events has been updated.


Today in Great Lakes History - March 23

The National Transportation Safety Board unanimously voted on March 23,1978, to reject the U. S. Coast Guard's official report supporting the theory of faulty hatches in their EDMUND FITZGERALD investigation. Later the N.T.S.B. revised its verdict and reached a majority vote to agree that the sinking was caused by taking on water through one or more hatch covers damaged by the impact of heavy seas over her deck. This is contrary to the Lake Carriers Association's contention that her foundering was caused by flooding through bottom and ballast tank damage resulting from bottoming on the Six Fathom Shoal between Caribou and Michipicoten Islands.

On 23 March 1850, TROY (wooden sidewheel passenger/package freighter, 182 foot, 546 tons, built in 1845, at Maumee, Ohio) exploded and burned at Black Rock, New York. Up to 22 lives were lost. She was recovered and rebuilt the next year and lasted until 1860.

On 23 March 1886, Mr. D. N. Runnels purchased the tug KITTIE HAIGHT.

The 3,280 ton motor vessel YANKCANUCK commanded by Captain W.E. Dexter, docked at the Canadian Soo on 23 March 1964, to officially open the 1964 Navigation Season for that port. Captain Dexter received the traditional silk hat from Harbormaster Frank Parr in a brief ceremony aboard the vessel. The ship arrived in the Sault from Windsor, Ontario. Captain Dexter said the trip from Windsor was uneventful and he had no trouble with ice. This was the first time a ship from the Yankcanuck Line won the honor of opening the Sault Harbor.

Data from: Joe Barr, Dave Swayze, Father Dowling Collection, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series. This is a small sample, the books includes many other vessels with a much more detailed history.


Court of Appeals Rules in Grosse Ile Bridge Crash

3/22 - After 14 years of litigation, a federal judge has again sided with the owners of an ore freighter that collided with the Grosse Ile Toll Bridge in 1992, knocking one of its sections into the Detroit River. U.S. District Judge Denise Page Hood ruled last week that the bridge company was 97% at fault and that American Steamship Co. of suburban Buffalo, N.Y., was 3% to blame. That means the ship company must pay the bridge owner $51,396.

The 700-foot-long ore carrier, the H. Lee White, hit the bridge, causing $1.8 million in damage and closing it for five months. The bridge is one of only two bridges to the island.

Hood ruled in 2000 that the bridge company was totally at fault because its tenders failed to open the bridge in time, even though the company knew for 24 hours that the ship was coming. The U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati disagreed, ruling in 2002 that the ship captain waited too long to long to drop an anchor to slow down the ship after realizing tenders weren't opening the span.

Steamship company lawyer Thomas Emery of Detroit said he was pleased with the decision. Bridge company lawyer Robert Coniam of Cleveland said he was disappointed and that he would confer with bridge owners to decide whether to appeal again.

From the Detroit Free Press


Buffalo Slag Operation in Question

3/22 - ISG-Mittal Steel and Buffalo Crushed Stone have come to a disagreement over slag processing operations inside the former Bethlehem Steel Plant in Lackawanna. Through a complicated ownership/land lease deal Buffalo Crushed Stone had been processing slag left over from steel making operations on a back lot of the plant near Lake Erie since the mid-1980's.

A dispute over the price paid per ton of slag removed from the ground had caused ISG-Mittal to force BCS from the property. BCS is currently in the process of removing their equipment at this time and there is the possibility that another operator may move in some time in the future.

BCS owns and operates the port facilities located on the Lackawanna Canal along with a few other parcels and buildings inside the former steel plant area.

Slag processing operations date back to the 1930's when Buffalo Slag Corp. started the work for Bethlehem Steel before being bought out by BCS in 1986.


Cleveland Meeting Explores Security at City's Port

3/22 - An Ohio congresswoman hosted a town hall meeting Monday evening to help Clevelanders grasp port security, a prominent national issue with local relevance. The recent controversy about a Dubai company's potential ownership of operations at U.S. ports has put the spotlight on port security. People in Northeast Ohio should be aware of any danger surrounding the Port of Cleveland, U.S. Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones said.

The port handles the third-highest tonnage on the Great Lakes. Each year, roughly 1,000 vessels arrive carrying about 12.5 million tons of cargo, including more than 700,000 tons of international cargo. "We need to know what's happening with our own port," said Tubbs Jones, who hosted the public forum at the Idea Center's Studio One Auditorium at Playhouse Square.

Although some fears were soothed when the United Arab Emirates-owned company agreed this month to sell its U.S. operations, "there's still significant issues that play upon us as a country with regard to security issues," the Cleveland Democrat said. Representatives from the Coast Guard and the Customs Service, both of which handle security at the Port of Cleveland, discussed security measures with the audience of about 200.

Intelligence and technologies relied on to eliminate potential threats before they reach the port were among the topics. The Customs Service screens information on 100 percent of cargo before it is loaded onto vessels headed to the United States, said Marc Hurteau, area port director for the Customs Service. Coast Guard Capt. Scott Ferguson, whose area of responsibility includes the Port of Cleveland, said he is "comfortable" with local port security, though he added that there is room for improvement.

Although the events of 9/11 put an emphasis on all aspects of homeland security, it was Dubai Ports World's recent acquisition of management control at six major U.S. ports - in New York, Baltimore, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Miami and New Orleans - that inspired Monday's town hall meeting. "It is the topic on everyone's lips," said Glen Nekvasil, spokesman for the Lake Carriers Association, which represents operators of U.S. ships on the Great Lakes.

Some in the crowd applauded Monday when the collapse of the Dubai deal was brought up. Tubbs Jones, however, was sure to add that congressional opposition to the deal was not based on religion or ethnicity. "It was common sense," an audience member said in agreement.

From the Cleveland Plain Dealer


Littoral Combat Ship Details Revealed

3/22 - Details on the new Littoral Combat Ship USS FREEDOM now under construction at Marinette Marine in Wisconsin are slowly being released to the public. The ship will be powered by two Fairbanks-Morris built Colt Pielstick 16 Cylinder diesel engines for a 17,000 horse power output. These engine will be combined with gas turbines to drive a set of four waterjets.

The ship will carry a 57mm gun, two MH-60 Helos, and three vertical take off unmanned air vehicles. USS FREEDOM will also carry special stern and side opening doors for the recovery of boats along with remote controlled underwater crafts.

The hull will be made of a new thinner and stronger steel with an aluminum superstructure for higher speed with less weight. Special construction techniques are being used including new high penetration welding equipment and composite steel/aluminum joiner plates to bind the two different materials without the possibility of bimetallic corrosion.

The manning requirements have been reduced with sailors being cross trained to fill more than one job roll if need be. The crew will be made up of what the Navy is calling their "Hybrid Sailors" with up to three Naval Enlistment Classifications under their belt along with at least some amount of sea time - there will be no green recruits aboard the Littoral Combat Ships.

Outsourced maintenance support teams will handle the overhead work load to allow the crew of the ship to concentrate on their assigned tasks. The ship is scheduled for launch in the summer of 2006 and will home port in Sand Diego.

Reported by Brian Wroblewski


Port Reports - March 22

Milwaukee - Paul Erspamer
Monday night the Western shore of Lake Michigan was struck by strong easterly winds. In Milwaukee's outer harbor, U.S. Coast Guard cutter Acacia (the last remaining 180-ft. Balsam-class WW-II-era tender in service) was rocking at its berth at Coast Guard Station Milwaukee. Just outboard at the same pier, cross-lake ferry Lake Express was pitching and pounding at its dock.
Anchored off Milwaukee's north gap throughout Monday night was a vessel which appeared to be Interlake/Lakes Shipping's Kaye E. Barker, which returned to service from lay-up over the weekend, and which is carrying coal from the KCBX dock in South Chicago. After waiting at anchor on Lake Michigan overnight, Kaye E. Barker finally came into Milwaukee's harbor Tuesday evening, and unloaded coal at the WE Energies dock at Greenfield Avenue.
Across the inner harbor mooring basin, Inland Lakes' steamer Alpena unloaded cement at the LaFarge silo & terminal.
Veteran buoy tender Acacia remained at the Coast Guard Station Tuesday night.

Escanaba - Lee Rowe
The Mesabi Miner loaded ore in Escanaba Tuesday while work was being done on the Joyce VanEnkevort/Great Lakes Trader on the other side of the dock. The Wilfred Sykes was expected in late Tuesday with the Burns Harbor returning for a load on Wednesday.

Hamilton - Eric Holmes
The Algolake departed its winter lay up at Pier 10, on Tuesday, and moved over to Pier 21 at Dofasco to load slag for an unknown destination. The Capt. Henry Jackman called Prescott Coast Guard radio at 1:15 p.m. a sign that she would be on the move shortly.

Port Weller - Eric Holmes
Canadian Transport departed Port Weller Drydock on Tuesday.

Midland - Sharon Vermeulen
There is much activity in Midland Tuesday. The icebreaker is in the bay doing donuts and the Frontenac has been crawling with people preparing for departure. I would expect it to be going out at any time.

Toronto - Charlie Gibbons
Canadian Miner was turned at her Redpath Sugar berth at 6:00 p.m. Tuesday. The turning is to facilitate unloading.

Goderich - Dale Baechler
Algomarine entered the inner harbour and turned with very little ice getting in the way, at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday morning. She headed over to Sifto Salt, apparently loading for the Detroit area again.


Updates - March 22

News Photo Gallery updated.

Public Photo Gallery updated

Calendar of Events has been updated.


Today in Great Lakes History - March 22

On 22 March 1922, the Goodrich Transit Company purchased the assets and properties of the Chicago, Racine and Milwaukee Steamship Company. This sale included two steamers: ILLINOIS (steel propeller passenger/package freight steamer, 240 foot, 2,427 gross tons, built in 1899, at S. Chicago, Illinois) and PILGRIM (iron propeller passenger/package freight steamer, 209 foot, 1,921 gross tons, built in 1881, at Wyandotte, Michigan).

The GULF MACKENZIE sailed light March 22, 1977, on her maiden voyage from Sorel to Montreal, Quebec.

The tanker COMET (Hull#705) was launched March 22, 1913, at Lorain, Ohio by American Ship Building Co. for the Standard Transportation Co. of New York.

THOMAS W LAMONT (Hull#184) was launched March 22, 1930, at Toledo, Ohio by Toledo Shipbuilding Co. for the Pittsburgh Steamship Co.

March 22, 1885 - The Goodrich Steamer MICHIGAN was crushed in heavy ice off Grand Haven, Michigan and sank. Captain Redmond Prindiville in command, Joseph Russell was the first mate.

On 22 March 1873, TYPO, a wooden schooner/canaller, was launched at Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She cost $25,000 and was commanded by Captain William Callaway.

On 22 March 1871, Engineer George Smith and two firemen were badly scalded on the propeller LAKE BREEZE when a steam pipe they were working on blew away from the side of the boiler. They were getting the engines ready for the new shipping season.

On 22 March 1938, CITY OF BUFFALO (steel side-wheeler passenger/package freight vessel, 340 foot, 2,940 gross tons, built in 1896, at Wyandotte, Michigan) caught fire during preparations for the Spring season while at her winter moorings at the East Ninth Street dock in Cleveland, Ohio. She was totally gutted. The hulk was towed to Detroit for conversion to a freighter, but this failed to materialize. She was cut up for scrap there in 1940.

On 22 March 1987, the pilothouse of the 1901, steamer ALTADOC, which was used as a gift shop and 2-room hotel near Copper Harbor, Michigan, was destroyed by fire.

Data from: Joe Barr, Dave Swayze, Father Dowling Collection, Historical Collections of the Great Lakes, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series. This is a small sample, the books includes many other vessels with a much more detailed history.


G Tug Office on the Move

The Cleveland Plain Dealer has confirmed that Great Lakes Towing will be moving from their offices in the Terminal Tower, where they have been since 1929, to a new location on the Cuyahoga River. The new location is where the company's drydock and fleet of tugs are docked. It is expected to open in 2006 with the creation of 25 new jobs.

GLT recently circulated a notice (Boatnerd News 3/18) that they were accepting applications for an Operations Assistant.

Reported by Bill Kloss


Port Reports - March 21

Goderich - Dale Baechler
Algomarine entered the inner harbour with a stiff northerly breeze blowing at 3:30 p.m. on Monday afternoon. She made the inside turn and headed over to the Sifto Salt dock. A cool bright sunny day for boat watching in Goderich.

Toronto - Charlie Gibbons
Canadian Miner was shifted into the Redpath Sugar slip Sunday afternoon by the tugs Progress and Vigilant 1. Work unloading her storage cargo of raw sugar began Monday morning. Algoville finished unloading Friday night and she was shifted back to Pier 35.

St. Lawrence Seaway - Ron Walsh
Seaway Clayton, Seaway Sodus and Seaway Eisenhower radio stations returned to the air Monday and broadcast Seaway radio message number 1 for the opening of the season. The Welland Canal is said to be open with thin to medium ice in eastern Lake Erie. Seaway Clayton was having some transmitter problems but they seem to be repaired. Clayton and Sodus are on channel 13 and Eisenhower is on channel 12. Newcastle and Iroquois are on channel 11 while Seaway Welland is on channel 14.

Marblehead - Kevin Davis
H. Lee White is scheduled to be the first boat of the season to load at Marblehead today.


Updates - March 21

News Photo Gallery updated.

Public Photo Gallery updated


Today in Great Lakes History - March 21

The c.) CHEMICAL MAR of 1966, sustained severe damage when sulfuric acid leaked into the pump room while discharging her cargo at the island of Curacao on March 21, 1982. Flooding occurred later and the vessel was declared a constructive total loss. She was scrapped at Brownsville, Texas in 1983. From 1979 until 1981, CHEMICAL MAR was named b.) COASTAL TRANSPORT for the Hall Corp. of Canada. She never entered the Lakes under that name.

The NOTRE DAME VICTORY was floated from the drydock on March 21, 1951, three months and two days after she entered the dock, and was rechristened b.) CLIFFS VICTORY.

MARLHILL was launched on March 21, 1908, as a.) HARRY A BERWIND (Hull#40) at Ecorse, Michigan by Great Lakes Engineering Works for G. A. Tomlinson of Duluth, Minnesota.

Pittsburgh Steamship Co.'s GEORGE F BAKER was sold to the Kinsman Marine Transit Co., Cleveland, Ohio on March 21, 1965, and was renamed b) HENRY STEINBRENNER.

On 21 March 1874, the two schooners NORTH STAR and EVENING STAR were launched at Crosthwaite's shipyard in East Saginaw, Michigan. They were both owned by John Kelderhouse of Buffalo, New York.

On 21 March 1853, GENERAL SCOTT (wooden side-wheeler, 105 foot, 64 tons, built in 1852, at Saginaw, Michigan) was tied up to her dock on the Saginaw River when she was crushed beyond repair by ice that flowed down the river during the Spring breakup. One newspaper report said that while the vessel was being cleaned up for the new navigation season, a seacock was left open and she sank before the spring breakup.

Data from: Max Hanley, Joe Barr, Dave Swayze, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series. This is a small sample, the books includes many other vessels with a much more detailed history.


Mackinaw's Last Hurrah
Cutter makes its final breakout run before being decommissioned in July

3/30 - Spring breakout 2006 began Friday for the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Mackinaw much as it has for more than 60 years - cutting through ice in the St. Mary's River and transiting the Soo Locks to begin work on Whitefish Bay. The giant icebreaker, on the job since 1944, was the first vessel through the Poe Lock on Friday accompanied by the Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Samuel Risley. The Mackinaw cut through a two-foot thick coating within the lock walls and eased on through to begin laying a track to route commercial shipping through Whitefish Bay. The Soo Locks will open to all other vessels this coming weekend.

Cmdr. Joseph C. McGuiness, the Mac's last skipper, said the historic journey is a job that will be taken over next year by the new Mackinaw, awaiting commissioning in Cheboygan June 9. “Everything we're hearing about the new ship has been good,” McGuiness said of his ship's successor. “They'll be able to keep the tradition going and do a lot more besides.”

The Mackinaw was twice stopped by ice windrows that McGuiness estimated were 15 feet thick. Each time he gently instructed his crew how to back up the cutter 400 feet or so, reverse direction and proceed as if they were in open water. “Let the machinery do its work, then stop and back off,” he said in an almost-whisper to his young officers at the controls. The crew's faces showed an anxious concern each time the ship gradually slowed to a stop while struggling against the increasingly thick pressure ridges in Whitefish Bay. “This is the ‘Whitefish Crawl,' this slow thing we're doing now,” McGuiness grinned. The Mac's operation plans included more track work in the same area Saturday and Sunday.

The routine icebreaking maneuvers were a welcome relief from the trip the ship had to get to the St. Mary's River on March 13. After waiting through most of the day for gale-force winds to subside, the Mackinaw departed at 4 p.m. and crossed northern Lake Huron in eight- to 10-foot seas en route to Detour and the mouth of the river. “It was a rough ride,” McGuiness said of the 35-mile journey, “one of the two worst I've seen on this ship. We were taking nine-footers on the beam the whole way. They weren't enormous waves, but on the beam like that we were rolling a lot.”

“It was intense alright,” explained Health Services Tech. Claudia Simpson, the chief corpsman who cared for a lot of green-faced sailors. “I'd say 90 percent of the crew were seasick, and 30 percent of them were physically ill during that trip. We were glad to see the river.” A big-screen television set in the crew's recreational suite toppled over during the pitching ride, as did a stackable washer and dryer unit in the ship's laundry room. Amazingly, the TV was returned to its perch and works fine. The laundry unit was damaged beyond repair and was replaced while at the Sector Sault Ste. Marie Dock Thursday.

“The galley was a mess,” confirmed Food Service Spec. 1st Class Chantal Schmitt. “We had a whole sheet pan of dinner rolls that went on the deck. A dozen wardroom glasses broke while shifting in a cabinet, and during one big roll all the contents of the refrigerator slammed open the door and came out, but a lot of it was in containers so we didn't lose much.”

Schmitt said the whole thing happened during the dinner hour. “We were serving pork chops, but nobody touched them until we got into the river,” she sighed.

From the Cheboygan Daily Tribune


Buffalo Harbor Project looking at USCG Land

3/20 - Rep. Brian Higgins has opened a dialog with the U.S. Coast Guard regarding the transfer of a section of the Buffalo Base from the Federal Government to the new Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp. The size of the base could be reduced from the current 30 acres to ten with the land along the riverfront from Furhmann Blvd. to the Buffalo Main Lighthouse turned into a public park. The area of the property leading from the parking lot just outside the base gate to the lighthouse was turned into a park like walkway with historically interpretive signage back in the 1980's to allow for public access to the grounds around the light. The gate was open most of the time but has been locked since Sept. 11th and the increased Maritime Security Laws came into effect. The lighthouse grounds offer outstanding views of the Outer Harbor, Canada, the shipping channels at the North Entrance, and the downtown Buffalo skyline.

Reported by Brian Wroblewski


Port Reports - March 20

Port Colborne - Herb
CSL Assiniboine left her winter lay-up in Port Colborne about 10 a.m. Sunday. The Canadian Progress, CSL Tadoussac and John Leitch are all ballasted down making ready to leave.

Halifax - Mac MacKay
Nanticoke left winter lay up in Halifax on Saturday, and was moved as a dead ship by the tugs Atlantic Hemlock and Atlantic Oak to National Gypsum to load for Montreal. She sailed Sunday night for Montreal.

Alpena - Ben & Chanda McClain
The J.A.W Iglehart arrived in port Saturday afternoon, making its first trip to Alpena since departing lay-up. The Iglehart took on cargo under the silos and was seen heading out around 8 p.m. bound for Detroit.  The tug G.L Ostrander and barge Integrity are also back in service. The pair came into Alpena on Sunday evening.
The Alpena is expected to return on Monday afternoon, after making stops at Lake Michigan ports over the weekend.

Buffalo - Brian Wroblewski
The CSL Assiniboine was talking to Seaway Long Point Sunday morning around 10 a.m. The Canadian Coast Guard Cutter Griffon was talking to Seaway Long Point at 2 p.m. Sunday afternoon. The Seaway dispatcher was telling them to have an eye out for the Canadian Progress as she was just about ready to depart her dock on the Welland Canal headed up bound. A few minutes later the Seaway called the CSL Assiniboine and asked him if he was clear of Long Point.

New York State Power Authority crews will start removing the Niagara river Ice Boom on Monday. The work will be somewhat more difficult than usual since a section of the boom separated due to ice pack pressure and high winds in early March.

Hamilton - Brian Coleman
Sea Eagle II and barge St. Marys Cement I left dock at 9:30 a.m. Sunday morning and cleared Burlington Piers at 10 a.m. to open shipping from Hamilton for 2006.
At noon Algolake called Prescott Seaway Radio so presumably the crew is on board.

Port Colborne - Angus
CSL Assiniboine left Port Colborne Sunday morning.

Twin Ports - Al Miller
Vessel movements in the Twin Ports begin in earnest this week as boats starting coming out of lay up and loading cargoes for their first down bound trips of the season.
James R. Barker is due back at Midwest Energy Terminal on Monday for its third load of the season.
Great Lakes Fleet's Edwin H. Gott is tentatively due to load at the CN ore dock in Two Harbors on Wednesday, March 22.
 On Thursday, Philip R. Clarke, Roger Blough and Interlake's Charles M. Beeghly are all tentatively scheduled to load at Two Harbors while James. R. Barker, back from its coal run to Marquette, is scheduled for the CN ore dock in Duluth.
Also Thursday, Indiana Harbor is scheduled to load at Midwest Energy Terminal with coal for Nanticoke.
Among the boats scheduled to be the first arrivals from the lower lakes are H. Lee White, Arthur M. Anderson, Presque Isle and Mesabi Miner, all tentatively due at Two Harbors on Sunday, March 26.
John G. Munson is also due at the CN ore dock in Duluth on Sunday.
Columbia Star, scheduled for Midwest Energy Terminal on Sunday.
Burns Harbor may be the first boat from the lower lakes to make the BNSF dock in Superior.

Parry Sound - Leslie Reading
Although the C.C.G.S. Samuel Risley departed the coast guard base recently for icebreaking duties on the upper lakes there is no sign of any other activity of the upcoming shipping season within the harbour.

Escanaba - Dick Lund
The Burns Harbor began its new season right where it left off last season (early 2006) - Hauling out of Escanaba, MI. The ship was loading taconite pellets on March 19 while the barge Great Lakes Trader and tug Joyce L. VanEnkevort was backed alongside the dock, apparently still in winter lay-up.

Menominee, MI - Dick Lund
Basic Marine's big tug, Erika Kobasic, was at work in the bay of Green Bay off Menominee, MI and in the Menominee River on March 18 breaking ice for the arrival of the barge Pere Marquette 41 and tug Undaunted on the 19th. The ex-carferry brought a load of pig iron to Marinette Fuel & Dock and then stayed to load pig iron "tailings" later that day. The Erika Kobasic moored at Marinette Fuel & Dock on Sunday after assisting the pair into port. The PM-41 also opened Marinette last year when it arrived at Marinette Fuel & Dock on April 8, 2005.


Updates - March 20

News Photo Gallery updated.

Public Photo Gallery updated


Today in Great Lakes History - March 20

On 20 March 1885, MICHIGAN (Hull#48), (iron propeller passenger-package freight steamer, 215 foot, 1,183 tons) of the Detroit, Grand Haven & Milwaukee Railroad was sunk by ice off Grand Haven, Michigan.

The sidewheeler NEW YORK was sold Canadian in 1877, hopefully at a bargain price because when she was hauled out on the ways on 20 March 1878, at Rathburn's yard in Kingston, Ontario to have her boiler removed, her decayed hull fell apart and could not be repaired. Her remains were burned to clear the ways.

On 20 March 1883, the E H MILLER of Alpena, Michigan (wooden propeller tug, 62 foot, 30 gross tons, built in 1874, at East Saginaw, Michigan ) was renamed RALPH. She was abandoned in 1920

Data from: Joe Barr, Dave Swayze, Father Dowling Collection, Historical Collections of the Great Lakes, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series. This is a small sample, the books includes many other vessels with a much more detailed history.


St. Marys River Reporting Points Revised
Minimizing Voice Position Reports for Vessels Equipped with AIS

3/19 - The U.S. Coast Guard Vessel Traffic Service & Soo Area Office of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will reduce the number of voice position reports for vessels equipped with an Automatic Identification System. This modified reporting plan for AIS equipped vessels operating in the St Marys River will go into effect when the Soo Locks reopen on March 25th 2006.

Since their inception, VTS and the USACE each performed their respective traffic management duties using information provided by participating vessels over the marine radio. Depending on the time of year, as many as 16 voice reports were used by waterway managers to monitor the progress of vessels moving through the river system. With AIS, the ship’s position (Latitude and longitude) along with other safety related information is continuously broadcasted to other AIS equipped vessels and shore stations automatically. If not for the safety of those operating without AIS (i.e. ferries, tour boats, and recreational boaters), the need for position reports would be eliminated.

After conferring with members of the Lake Carrier Association’s Captains Committee, the Western Great Lakes Pilots Association, and an assortment of other waterway users (ferries, tour boats), VTS St Marys River will only require position reports from AIS equipped vessels when clearing the Soo Locks, Nine Mile Point, and Mud Lake Junction (up and down bound). AIS equipped vessels will still be required to give their “sailing plan” (pre-call) information by VHF radio when up bound one hour prior to reaching Detour Reef Light and when down bound at Whitefish Point. Initial and final voice reports shall be announced as vessels enter and leave the St Marys River at Gros Cap and Detour Reef Lights, respectively. Those vessels not required to carry AIS, but obliged to participate in the Vessel Movement Reporting System, must continue to do so as specified by federal regulation.

To further minimize non-essential voice communications, the VTS and USACE have partnered to increase their “off air” exchange of vessel movement, cargo and transit data. These internal exchanges, coupled with the USACE’s newly installed AIS monitoring capabilities, eliminate the need for AIS equipped vessels to call the lockmaster at Nine Mile Point. Therefore, those vessels equipped with AIS need only call the USACE Lockmaster at Isle Parisienne Light and Big Point when down bound and Mission Pt when up bound.

Procedures for vessels operating without AIS or those incurring AIS failure may be found in 33 CFR Part 161.21

USCG News Release


Erie Shipbuilding has Additional Contracts

3/19 - The newly revitalized Erie Shipbuilding yard, in Erie PA, has reported that they have a contract to build a 780-foot dry bulk barge for an undisclosed customer.

They also reported contracts for three new 130-foot icebreaking tugs. The owner for the tugs was not disclosed.

Reported by MarineLog


Port Reports - March 19

Goderich - Dale Baechler
Algomarine entered the inner harbour at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday. She turned on starboard wheel with the assistance of the MacDonald Marine tugs and proceeded to the Sifto Salt dock. It is expected to make a couple of more runs to the Detroit area before loading for Lake Michigan ports.

Cleveland - Rex Cassidy
The McKees Sons has left town. The tug petite Forte is in town to start the year on the St. Marys cement barge.

The Sam Laud was unbound to Mittal from the Cleveland Bulk Terminal (CBT) at 1:00 p.m. Saturday.

South end of Lake Michigan - Tom Milton & Steve B.
Saturday at Burns Harbor, nothing but barges. No activity.

Rt. Hon. Paul J. Martin was at KCBX loading coal in So. Chicago on the Calumet River.

A large footer, possibly Burns Harbor, seen entering the Mittal steel at Indiana Harbor 4:30 p.m. Central Time.

Milwaukee - Paul Erspamer
Saturday was cement-carrier departure day in Milwaukee. Alpena left its overnight berth (rafted to the Integrity) and departed onto Lake Michigan at about 11:00. p.m.

The Barge St. Mary's Conquest and tug Susan W. Hannah left their lay-up dock in the Kinnickinnic River at about 12:30 p.m.

The barge Integrity and tug G.L. Ostrander left their lay-up berth at the LaFarge terminal on Jones Island, proceeding onto Lake Michigan at 1:40 p.m.

Only Interlake/Lakes Shipping's Kaye E. Barker remains in this port from winter lay-up as of Saturday night.


Updates - March 19

News Photo Gallery updated.

Public Photo Gallery updated

Calendar of Events has been updated.


 Today in Great Lakes History - March 19

The W R STAFFORD (wooden propeller bulk freighter, 184 foot, 744 gross tons, built in 1886, at W. Bay City, Michigan) was freed from the ice at 2:00 a.m. on 19 March 1903, by the Goodrich Line’s ATLANTA. When the STAFFORD was freed, the ice then closed around the ATLANTA and imprisoned her for several hours. Both vessels struggled all night and finally reached Grand Haven, Michigan at 5:00 a.m.. They left for Chicago later that day in spite of the fact that an ice floe 2 miles wide, 14 miles long and 20 feet deep was off shore.

CARTIERCLIFFE HALL was launched March 19, 1960, as a.) RUHR ORE (Hull#536) at Hamburg, Germany by Schlieker-Werft Shipyard.

INDIANA HARBOR (Hull#719) was launched March 19, 1979, at Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin by Bay Shipbuilding Corp.

CITY OF GREEN BAY was launched March 19, 1927, as a.) WABASH (Hull#177) at Toledo, Ohio by Toledo Ship Building Co., for the Wabash Railway Co.

ALFRED CYTACKI was launched March 19, 1932, as a.) LAKESHELL (Hull#1426) at Newcastle-on-Tyne, England by Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson Ltd.

On 19 March 1886, the PICKUP (wooden passenger/package freight steamer, 80 foot, 136 gross tons, built in 1883, at Marine City, Michigan was renamed LUCILE. She lasted until she sank off the Maumee River Light (Toledo Harbor Light), Toledo, Ohio, Lake Erie, on August 8, 1906.

Data from: Max Hanley, Joe Barr, Father Dowling Collection, The Marine Historical Society of Detroit, Historical Collections of the Great Lakes, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series. This is a small sample, the books includes many other vessels with a much more detailed history.


Early Shipping Season Begins

3/18 - Marquette — The first ship of the spring shipping season is expected to arrive in Marquette this weekend, perhaps as early as today. The 1,000-foot vessel James R. Barker left Duluth shortly after the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Alder and was headed for Marquette, according to Coast Guard officials. An arrival time was not available from the Lake Superior and Ishpeming ore dock. The Barker is reportedly trying to get in two trips to Marquette before the Soo Locks open, which is scheduled for March 25.

Although the Alder did break through some ice to leave Duluth, there isn’t much work to do on the mostly open waters of the largest and northernmost Great Lake. According to Bryan Mroczka, a forecaster with the National Weather Service, while there is some ice along the shoreline and in some small bays and inlets, Lake Superior this year has been unconventionally free of ice. “There was very little ice on the lake this year. Even some of the normal frozen bays, such as Keweenaw Bay and Huron Bay,” Mroczka said. “We started issuing our near-shore forecast a few days ago. There is essentially no ice on the lake right now with the exception of a couple of small bays and inlets.”

The first ore carriers are expected in Marquette’s Upper Harbor early next week.

From the Marquette Mining Journal


Coast Guard Announces Breakout Schedule for New Shipping Season

3/18 - Sault Ste. Marie - Spring breakout on several area shipping channels will begin in earnest on Friday and continue through March 22, according to announcements issued by the Coast Guard on Tuesday. The ice work by a number of U.S. and Canadian icebreakers will open ice-covered channels from the Straits of Mackinac up the St. Marys River and across Whitefish Bay a few days in advance of the season opening of the Soo Locks on March 25.

According to Coast Guard statements, the passage separating St. Ignace and Mackinac Island will be opened on Friday, the same day USCGC Mackinaw and CCGS Samuel Risley pass upbound through the Poe Lock to open channels above the Locks. As she has throughout her long career, Old Mackinaw will set and groom steamer tracks through the upper St. Marys River and out across Whitefish Bay. Old Mackinaw, now 62 years old, will be making her last icebreaking sortie into the familiar upper river and Whitefish Bay ice.

Old Mackinaw circumnavigated Drummond Island as part of her upbound trip to Whitefish Bay this week. Currently in the lower river, Mackinaw will concentrate on the substantial shelved ice formations from Pipe Island upriver to Lime Island before setting off upriver for Whitefish Bay later this week. Coast Guard officials expect some difficulty from large expanses of deteriorated ice packed by Tuesday's heavy gales into channel stretches below Lime Island, even though the breakout as a whole is expected to be relatively easy by March standards.

Later this week, Old Mackinaw will pair with the Canadian breaker Risley for the early passage through the Poe Lock. While Mackinaw breaks out the steamer channels west and northwest of the Locks, Risley will continue across Lake Superior to break out Thunder Bay, Ont. before returning down bound. Marquette Harbor is reportedly fully open and Coast Guard officials do not expect it to ice over this spring.

On the lower St. Marys River, the Coast Guard plans to break out the lower end of the West Neebish Channel from Mud Lake Junction to Sawmill Point starting March 20. After a two-day hiatus, icebreakers will take out the upper section of the West Neebish above the ferry crossing on March 22. The Neebish Island Ferry, which operated through the winter this year, will continue running its reduced daily schedule through the planned breakout. The Coast Guard will make a vessel available for emergencies if the ferry crossing becomes too ice-clogged for ferry passages next week.

The St. Ignace-based tug Biscayne Bay is scheduled to remain in the Straits of Mackinac to open what ice remains there after successive easterly then northwesterly gales this week. According to reports, ice on the Straits was blown well to the west of the Mackinac Bridge, packing in around White Shoals before the northwest wind took over early Tuesday. Extra icebreaking help will be sent north from Detroit and Cleveland, in part because little or no ice remains in lower Lakes channels. Expected during next week's breakout are the Bay-Class tugs Neah Bay from Cleveland and Bristol Bay from Detroit.

The new icebreaker Mackinaw is so far not scheduled to assist with the annual breakout project, called “Operation Taconite” in Coast Guard circles. New Mackinaw continues in a break-in and training mode until June, when she officially takes over for Old Mackinaw, due for retirement at the same time. The Soo Locks open for the new shipping season one tick after midnight on March 24 and remain open for business through Jan. 15, 2007. Several other icebreakers are due in local waters to assist as needed with the lower St. Marys. The Bay Class tug Katmai Bay will work her usual breakout route.

From the Soo Evening News


Stone Shipments Down in 2005

3/18 - Shipments of limestone from U.S. and Canadian ports on the Great Lakes totaled 37.7 million net tons in 2005, a decrease of 6.2 percent from 2004.

While the decline reflects a downturn in steel production that affected demand for fluxstone and a sluggish construction market that required less aggregate, it should be noted the 2004 total was the highest in a number of years. As a result, the comparison with limestone’s 5-year average (37.6 million net tons) is quite different; the trade was in fact slightly ahead of its long-term average in 2005.

Another factor should be noted. Severe and frequent storms idled the U.S.-Flag Lakes fleet for roughly 5,000 hours in November. Canadian Lakers suffered similar delays and the results were apparent in all cargo totals for that month.

Reported by the Lake Carriers Association.


Michigan Senate OKs Pier Safety Device Bill

3/18 - A bill that would make it a serious crime to steal or even tamper with a marine safety device was approved Thursday by the Michigan Senate. The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Wayne Kuipers, R-Holland, now goes to the state House for consideration.

Kuipers introduced the bill in October. In February, he invited Vicki Cech, of Grand Haven, to testify before a Senate panel about the importance of strengthening the state's pier-safety laws. Cech's son drowned in 2003 after being swept away in a rip current near the Grand Haven south pier. "I can't let anyone go through this nightmare if I can help it," Cech told the senators.

Thursday's legislation, Senate Bill 816, passed by a 36-0 vote. One senator was absent from the vote and one seat is currently vacant. Should the bill become law, anyone who "tampers with, takes or removes a marine safety device" — such as the life rings on Grand Haven's piers — would be guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by up to three months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

However, the same violation would become a felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000, should the tampering or theft of the safety device lead to someone becoming seriously injured. If someone drowns because the safety device was disabled or missing, the device thief or vandal could face up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

A marine safety device is defined in the proposed law as something that's used to rescue people in water emergencies, such as a life preserver, safety harness, ladder, line or throw ring. Cech and other members of the Great Lakes Beach and Pier Safety Task Force were instrumental in getting 15 life rings mounted on the Grand Haven pier during the past two summers; however, many were damaged or stolen, and repeatedly had to be replaced.

"Just days after the life rings were put into place, the first one was stolen," Cech told the state Senate panel at the Feb. 28 hearing. "We lost 22 life rings in 2005. ... I am deeply saddened that anyone would think of these life-saving devices as a souvenir." Kuipers said being able to warn people that stealing life-saving devices could lead to a lengthy prison sentence will help reduce the number of rings stolen and vandalized. "People have to know stealing life preservers isn't a prank," he said. "It's something that jeopardizes the lives of others."

From the Grand Haven Tribune


Port Reports - March 18

Milwaukee - John N. Vogel, Paul Erspamer and Dan Fletcher
Around 6:00 a.m. Thursday, the J.A.W. Iglehart departed its winter lay-up berth at Jones Island down the Milwaukee River to Lake Michigan to begin its 2006 season.

Mesabi Miner departed Milwaukee around 5 p.m. on Thursday. The Kaye E. Barker also appeared to be preparing for departure as smoke was spewing from its stack--although it remained at its winter mooring.

Friday night just before midnight the Burns Harbor was on the move, using searchlights to find its way very slowly northward away from its winter lay-up dock, through Milwaukee's inner harbor to the river. By 1 a.m., she was on Lake Michigan, northbound to Escanaba for its first cargo of iron ore in the new season. University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee webcam video here

Also Friday night the Alpena was in Milwaukee's inner harbor, rafted to the Integrity barge at the LaFarge terminal.

Owen Sound - Ed Saliwonchyk
Shortly after 3:00 p.m. Friday, the U.S. Coast Guard's Bristol Bay arrived in Owen Sound.

Agawa Canyon still has an access hole cut in her side that was used to do inside repair work. Algorail appears to be nearly ready to depart.

Buffalo - Brian Wroblewski
The first coal boat is due for the Gateway Terminal on April 7 with 16,500 tons of coal and the next boat is due April 9 with 33,000 tons of coal. It is believed to be the CSL Niagara for both, going to Hamilton and coming back for the second load.

Twin Ports - Al Miller
As scheduled, the James R. Barker returned to Duluth on Friday to load coal at Midwest Energy Terminal. It departed late morning for the WE Energies power plant at Presque Isle near Marquette. It's due back on Monday to load again for the same destination. Indiana Harbor is scheduled to come out of lay up Thursday to load at Midwest Energy for Nanticoke.


GLT is Looking for a New Operations Assistant

3/18 - The Great Lakes Towing Company is taking applications for an Operations Assistant/Customer Relations for Cleveland-based tugboat company. Prior military welcome.

Position coordinates equipment & personnel according to customer requests in compliance with established procedures. Communicates with customers to determine their needs and/or schedules and notifies personnel of assignments; enters assignment data into computer database.

Essential skills: Excellent communication skills, self-motivated; ability to work independently; good decision making skills; MS Work; MS Excel. Firm schedule - four days on/four days off rotation. Comprehensive benefits and medical package. AAP/EOE Employer.

For prompt consideration, fax or email resume w/salary requirements to 216-621-5094 or


Updates - March 18

News Photo Gallery updated.

Public Photo Gallery updated

Calendar of Events has been updated.


Today in Great Lakes History - March 18

On 18 March 1906, the Goodrich Line’s ATLANTA (wooden propeller passenger/package freight steamer, 200 foot, 1,129 gross tons, built in 1891, at Cleveland, Ohio) was sailing from Sheboygan, Wisconsin for Milwaukee. When she was 14 miles south of Sheboygan, fire was discovered in the aft hold and quickly spread to the engine room. She ran out of steam, making the fire pumps inoperable. There were 65 persons aboard and Capt. Mc Cauley gave the order to abandon. The fish tug TESSLER came to help and only one life was lost. As the TESSLER was steaming to port, the Goodrich Line’s GEORGIA came into view and took on all of the survivors. The hull of the ATLANTA was beached by the TESSLER. Later the burned hull was purchased by D. O. Smith of Port Washington.

ARSENE SIMARD (Hull#404) was launched March 18, 1972, at Sorel, Quebec by Marine Industries Ltd., for Branch Lines Ltd.

PERE MARQUETTE 21 (Hull#209) was launched March 18, 1924, at Manitowoc, Wisconsin by Manitowoc Shipbuilding Co. She was christened by Mrs. C.C. West, wife of the president of Manitowoc Shipbuilding Co.

The straight deck bulk carrier SYLVANIA (Hull#613) was launched March 18, 1905, at West Bay City, Michigan by West Bay City Ship Building Co., for the Tomlinson Fleet Corp.

On 18 March 1890, CITY OF CHICAGO (steel sidewheeler, 211 foot, 1,073 gross tons) was launched at West Bay City, Michigan by F.W. Wheeler & Co. (Hull#68) for the Graham & Morton Line. CITY OF CHICAGO was lengthened to 226 feet at Wheeler's yard one year later (1891). She was again lengthened in 1905-06, this time to 254 feet.

On the same day (18 March 1890) and at the same yard the 3-mast wooden schooner A C TUXBURY was stern launched.

On 18 March 1928, M T GREENE (wooden propeller freighter, 155 foot, 524 gross tons, built in 1887, at Gibraltar, Michigan) burned to a total loss near Brigdeburg, Ontario on the Niagara River.

Data from: Max Hanley, Joe Barr, Dave Swayze, Father Dowling Collection, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series. This is a small sample, the books includes many other vessels with a much more detailed history.


Ice Breakers Head up St. Marys River

3/17 - Around 9:00 a.m. the ice breakers USCGC Mackinaw (WAGB-83) and the CCGC Samuel Risley were up bound through the Poe Lock. The old Mack was in the lead as the pair headed up the St. Marys River.

Pictures from the Soo Cameras in the News Photo Gallery.

At 7:00 p.m. Friday, the Mackinaw was parked at the end of the west pier.


Guano Squad to Tackle Toxic Hamilton Tower

3/17 - Hamilton, Ontario - Three men in space suits pull on their respirators, gather up their whisks and wire brushes and march bravely into the toxic tower. They are the guano squad who will scrape and chip and sweep until Hamilton's 148-year-old lighthouse is safe for all. This is the first step in bringing the forgotten tower back. If all goes well, you will one day be able to climb its 79 twisting steps and peer out, just the way lighthouse keeper George Thompson did for the first time in 1858.

The tower has been off limits to all but the pigeons. Long ago, they found their way through a broken window or two. And ever since, they have been leaving their tangy goo. Layer upon layer of guano coats the lantern room and the stairs leading up to it.

When Scottish mason John Brown built the tower of massive chunks of limestone, it was the tallest structure for miles around, five-storeys tall. Now the lighthouse is dwarfed by all. Beside it is the liftbridge that crosses the Burlington Ship Canal. The steel frame of that bridge is twice the height of the old lighthouse. And overhead is the Skyway. Once it was four lanes, and then it was 10. Some 25 million vehicles rumble over every year. What would that first lighthouse keeper make of all this?

His cottage, a year older than the tower itself, is still there too, front door swinging off the hinges. The two structures are Canada's only complete light station left on Lake Ontario. And for three years the volunteers of the Beach Canal Lighthouse Group have plotted ways to preserve the tower and the cottage. They're federal property. They belong to Fisheries and Oceans Canada and it doesn't need them. Two years ago, Duane Blanchard, a regional director of the department, got his first visit from the lighthouse group. "They're totally passionate about the history of those structures," he says. "I like that. It's so Canadian."

After so many years in the shadows, the lighthouse is noticed now because of the new lakefront trail. On nice days, hundreds hike, bike and skate past that monument. So the lighthouse group had little difficulty attracting a couple of hundred people to sign on. Dave Auger is their executive director. He told Fisheries and Oceans his group hoped to get the lighthouse and cottage for $1. They didn't want to necessarily own the structures forever, just long enough to fix them up. Then the buildings, brought to museum quality, could be given back to the people.

But Fisheries and Oceans can't be turning over a toxic site. Workers removing bird droppings are at risk of exposure to airborne fungal spores. These can remain infectious for decades and can cause respiratory infections. Simcoe environmental consultant Robert Lovegrove -- whose experience with pigeon and bat droppings ranges from U of T to the Parliament buildings -- put together specifications for the job. It was tendered and the final price for Operation Guano is about $20,000.

Yesterday an outfit called Restoration Environmental Contractors of Gormley started to work. Site supervisor Barry Gilhooly set up a three-chamber decontamination trailer, complete with shower. He had a man-lift ready to spirit his crew to the top of the tower, but the wind was fierce, the kind that could have dashed ships onto rocks in the 1800s. So instead, the three-man crew entered the tower through the old wooden door. The first flight of winding stairs has been torn from the walls, so the crew used ladders to reach the top.

Crew member Edgar Bonifaz is from Ecuador. So is one of his mates. The other is from Cuba. Bonifaz says this is not their first lighthouse. A couple of years ago, they cleaned the guano out of one in New Jersey. The fast way to do this job would be to powerblast from the top and hose it all down to the base. But that could damage the old structure, so this is being done the low-tech way. They do seal the windows to achieve negative-pressure in the tower, to keep everything inside while they clean. The bird poop then gets double-bagged and trucked to the landfill.

Come spring, guano gone, the fundraising and restoration work begins in earnest. The stone must be repointed, inside and out. The lantern room must be put in working order. The steps must be rebuilt, using as much of the original wood as possible. The target for completion is 2008 -- 150 years after George Thompson first lit that coal-oil flame.

You can contact the Beach Canal Lighthouse Group at 905-681-6233 or

From the Hamilton Spectator


Indiana Legislature urges Congress to protect U.S. waters from invasive species
House, Senate pass resolution urging federal regulation of ship ballast water

3/17 - Indianapolis – The Indiana General Assembly today released finalized copies of House Concurrent Resolution No. 35 sending a clear message to the U.S. Congress: "move quickly to enact federal legislation to establish a strong ballast water regulatory program."Led by Rep. Mary Kay Budak (R-La Porte) and Sen. Sue Landske (R-Cedar Lake), this resolution made it clear that the legislature is very concerned about protecting the Great Lakes as a tremendous environmental and economic resource. The resolution calls for a national policy and asserts that individual states should not impose regional regulations on an international shipping channel.

Those speaking in support of this resolution during house and senate committee hearings included representatives from the Indiana Port Commission, Ports of Indiana, Indiana Chamber of Commerce, Sierra Club, Save the Dunes Council, Izaak Walton League and American Great Lakes Port Assoc. No one spoke in opposition to the resolution.

Indiana ranks 14th in the nation for waterborne shipping and moves roughly half of its cargo via ships on the Great Lakes, including grain, fertilizer, road salt, minerals, iron ore and large amounts of steel products. The Ports of Indiana handled an all-time high of $1.531 billion of cargo in 2005, up slightly from 2004 but more than 80 percent higher than the 2003 total.

The Indiana resolution stated that aquatic invasive species have caused significant damage to native environments and industrial operations in the Great Lakes and around the world, and that current federal regulations governing the introduction of these nuisance species are inadequate. Ballast water is ocean or lake water stored in a ship's ballast tanks for stabilization when the ship is not fully loaded with cargo. As cargo comes aboard, ballast water is released to balance the ship and keep it afloat. Problems arise when aquatic organisms pumped onboard in one port are discharged in another port, causing damage to local environments. The U.S. Coast Guard currently requires ships to flush all ballast tanks before entering U.S. waters, but some unwelcome hitchhikers still make the trip. These species are a concern in the Great Lakes, Chesapeake Bay, Gulf of Mexico, Puget Sound, San Francisco Bay and other areas. Likewise, U.S. species are being spread to other parts of the world.

The resolution declared support for the efforts of the U.S. Coast Guard and International Maritime Organization (IMO) to put in place an international ballast water treatment and regulatory program. The IMO is the maritime arm of the United Nations which established the Ballast Water Management Convention in 2004 to "prevent, minimize and ultimately eliminate the transfer of harmful aquatic organisms and pathogens through the control and management of ships' ballast water and sediments."

On the federal level, U.S. Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Indiana) has cosponsored Senate Bill 770 with a bipartisan group of 20 other senators, titled the National Aquatic Invasive Species Act of 2005 which would establish U.S. standards and regulations. The bill was read twice and referred to the Committee on Environment & Public Works. A similar bill in the House, H.R. 1541, has 74 cosponsors and is under consideration in the Subcommittee on Fisheries & Oceans.

Since the U.S. has not yet approved any ballast treatment standards, vendors have been reluctant to develop treatment systems without knowing what standards they will have to meet. Indiana's resolution declared support for the Great Ships Initiative, a research and development project funded jointly by the Indiana Port Commission and other Great Lakes ports, the U.S. Department of Transportation, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and other federal agencies with the goal of accelerating the development and availability of ballast water treatment technology.

For more information about the Ports of Indiana, visit


Detroit Doesn't Need Another Bridge
Government would repeat Port Huron fiasco with new span to Canada

3/17 - A flawed government-sponsored study has called for the construction of a new bridge across the Detroit River between the United States and Canada. Michigan should not commit precious transportation dollars to an ill-advised project and should instead focus on fixing its roads and other existing bridges. This issue not only affects taxpayers, but businesses such as the automakers, which cross the border constantly, and Metro Detroit and Windsor residents who enjoy entertainment, shopping and other activities across the border.

First, there is no need to spend $3 billion of Canadian and American taxpayer money for a new bridge, plaza and roadway connections. The bottleneck in the crossing is not in span width, but in inspection facilities. Second, there is certainly no reason for the government to build a bridge because there are plenty of incentives for the private sector to expand the crossing if the need develops.

Four-year traffic decline:
While about the same or slightly more commercial vehicles have crossed the Detroit River between 2000 and 2004, total vehicles are anywhere from 10 to 25 percent lower by month than four years ago. Bottlenecks are a function of the number of inspection booths, number of customs personnel, and motorists' preparedness.

The Detroit River International Crossing, a partnership of the federal and Michigan governments as well as the Canadian and Ontario provincial governments, has a poor track record on projections. In the last three years, its models projecting demand have been overhauled twice. What confidence does this give us in the project's use of a 30-year projection of demand to defend its conclusion that a new bridge must be built?

Government planning fails
The planning for the Blue Water Bridge, which links Port Huron and Sarnia, illustrates the problem with government planning. The three-lane Blue Water Bridge experienced backups in 1992 when its annual traffic was 6 million vehicles. Planners judged that an insufficient number of lanes caused backups and determined that a second span would alleviate delays. In 1998, the second three-lane span opened, and traffic stood at 5.2 million vehicles annually -- nearly 15 percent lower than in 1992. The bridge still does not carry enough traffic to justify the second span. The problem was always a shortage of customs booths and a poor plaza design.

Given the past track record of Canadian-U.S. government studies, we seriously doubt that there is an impending need for additional bridge capacity. In addition, the Ambassador Bridge is operating at much less than full capacity, overall traffic has been flat for the past six years, and closures of and cutbacks at Michigan and Ontario auto plants are threatening to dampen cross-border shipping.

Border-crossing obstacles
Between Toronto and Chicago or Toledo, Ohio, there are two major impediments to the efficient flow of commercial vehicles. One is the U.S. plaza at the Blue Water Bridge. The second is the stretch of six miles (through commercial districts and 17 traffic lights) between Highway 401 in Windsor and the foot of the Ambassador Bridge. Government planners should confront these obstacles -- not call for new lanes.

The Ambassador Bridge and the Michigan Department of Transportation have ensured inspection capacity is met through a partnership that will improve access to the bridge and relieve traffic congestion on the Detroit side. In addition, the Detroit International Bridge Co. is spending $50 million to expand the U.S. plaza. This will serve the needs of border inspectors for at least 50 years.

If future demand warrants it, a new bridge should be privately owned. The privately owned and operated Ambassador Bridge has a 76-year history of being safe and well-maintained. If a new bridge is needed, the private sector will have every incentive to build one because delays on the bridge mean lost revenue. Hard-strapped Michigan faces critical transportation needs. In Southeast Michigan, alone, about $40 billion is projected to be needed for road improvements. That should be our priority, not building an unnecessary new bridge over the Detroit River.

Editorial from the Detroit News


A Basic Disagreement

3/17 - Escanaba - The City of Escanaba is taking Basic Marine to court this week. The city wants property back that it sold to the company for $1 in 1997, on the grounds Basic Marine has not lived up to its contract to remove an out-of-service ore ship on the city's north shore.

At the end of January, the city filed a complaint against Basic Marine for breach of contract. The two sides are scheduled to meet in Delta County Circuit Court for a pretrial hearing Wednesday.

Basic Marine entered into a contract with the city on Oct. 8, 1997, to acquire the former Northern Motor Rebuilders building on 1st Avenue North. The document stated the "purchaser agrees to make every effort to remove (the L. E. Block) from the waterfront property over the next several years from the date" of the contract.

In its official complaint, the city points out that the contract states in the event of noncompliance of the agreement's terms within a year, the property shall revert back to the city. The city claims the ore carrier has not been removed and disposed of as required by the contract so officials want the court to transfer the property back to the city.

From the Escanaba Free Press


Port Reports - March 17

Alpena - Ben & Chanda McClain
The Alpena arrived in port on Thursday after delivering to Whitefish, ON earlier in the week. The Alpena had to wait out the bad weather in Georgian Bay for a couple days before it was able to return. The Alpena departed before 5:00 p.m. and was headed for Milwaukee.

Fleetmate J.A.W Iglehart returned to service on Thursday. It departed lay up in Milwaukee to head for South Chicago.

Sturgeon Bay - Wendell Wilke
T/B Dorothy Ann/Pathfinder departed winter lay up at Bay Shipbuilding at 12:30 p.m. south bound for Lake Michigan. The Saginaw came out of drydock today assisted by Selvick tugs.

Friday morning around 7:00 a.m. David Z. Norton was being pulled into the drydock at Bay Shipbuilding assisted by Selvick tugs.

Milwaukee - Richard Haase
At the Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel Sports, Travel and Boat Show, today, Lake Express had a booth there to promote the ferry service. The terminal manager mentioned that, on Wednesday morning, the boat was taken out of winter lay-up and moved to her regular dock. This was done earlier than expected to allow extra time for crew training before the beginning of the season.

Toledo - Bob Vincent
The H. Lee White is tentatively schedule to load coal Tuesday, March 21 at 8:00 a.m. at the CSX Toledo Docks. The Saran Spencer is sitting outside the ship yard in Toledo.

Escanaba - Lee Rowe
The Mesabi Miner, Burns Harbor, and Wilfred Sykes will be joining the Joseph Block in her runs to Escanaba .

Goderich - Dale Baechler
Algomarine became the second arrival into port on Thursday evening, taking up a position on the Sifto Salt dock. The Sarah Spencer/Jane Ann IV is due Friday morning and will berth on the NE inner harbour wall for a few weeks of maintenance work.


Updates - March 17

News Photo Gallery updated.

Public Photo Gallery updated

Calendar of Events has been updated.


Today in Great Lakes History - March 17

On 17 March 1995, a fire started on the AMERICAN MARINER’s self-unloading conveyor belt from welding being done on the vessel at the Toledo Ship & Repair Company in Toledo, Ohio. About $100,000 in damage was done.

 The Toledo fire department had the blaze out in half an hour.

The tanker LAKESHELL reportedly leaked over 21,000 gallons of Bunker C oil into the St. Lawrence River on March 17, 1982, after suffering a crack in her cargo compartment caused by striking an ice floe.

GEORGE R FINK was launched March 17, 1923, as a.) WORRELL CLARKSON (Hull#174) at Toledo, Ohio by Toledo Ship Building Co., for the Kinsman Transit Co.

The PATERSON suffered considerable stern damage during the weekend of March 17-18, 1973, during a gale when the MONDOC tore loose from her winter moorings at Goderich, Ontario and struck her.

On 17 March 1916, CITY OF MIDLAND (wooden propeller passenger-package freighter, 176 foot, 974 tons, built in 1890, at Owen Sound, Ontario) burned at the Grand Trunk Railway dock at Collingwood, Ontario, while fitting out for the coming season. No lives were lost.

Data from: Joe Barr, Dave Swayze, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series. This is a small sample, the books includes many other vessels with a much more detailed history.


Season's First Laker Departs Duluth
Twin Ports shipping season posts one of the earliest starts in recent history
 with the James R. Barker's departure

3/16 - Duluth - Warm weather and power producers' keen appetite for coal meant an early start to Twin Ports shipping this year. When the 1,004-foot James R. Barker set off Tuesday from Superior, loaded with 58,000 tons of coal destined for Taconite Harbor, it logged the earliest departure in the Twin Ports' recent history. The laker left about 8:45 p.m. after loading at the Midwest Energy Resources Co. dock in Superior, consistently the site of the port's earliest activity. Midwest President Fred Shusterich said the previous early mark was set in 2000, when a ship set out from his company's facility March 16.

"We'll already have three trips in by the time the (Soo) Locks open and most of the other vessels begin to stir," said Capt. Joe Buonocore of the James R. Barker. The Soo Locks will open at midnight March 25; shipments before that date will be restricted to ports within Lake Superior. The Barker will follow its Taconite Harbor run with two trips to Marquette, Mich., before entering the Soo Locks for the first time enroute to the Nanticoke power plant in Ontario.

Buonocore said he couldn't have asked for better conditions, observing that Lake Superior is virtually ice-free. "This is the mildest winter I can recall in 28 years on the Great Lakes," he said.

Out west, it's a different story. Weather-related difficulties disrupted railroad shipments of coal from Wyoming's Powder River Basin, heightening interest in coal shipments from Midwest. "The weather and strong customer demand allowed us to get an early start this year," Shusterich said. "A lot of power companies are starting the year behind the eight ball, with low inventories. If everything pulls together, we could have another record year."

Last shipping season, Midwest loaded 18.8 million tons of coal onto ships calling on Superior, an all-time record for the Twin Ports. Adolph Ojard, executive director of the Duluth Seaway Port Authority, expects shipments of taconite out of the Twin Ports to remain strong this year, too. "We don't have a feel for grain shipments yet," Ojard said. "They could start out a little slow. But it looks like we'll have a fair amount of special project cargo with some of the wind power projects in the works. "All in all, it looks to be another strong season for us, and that would make three in a row," Ojard said.

Fraser Shipyards swirled with activity Tuesday as workers made a final push to ensure vessels get under way in timely fashion. "We've been working 12-hour days, seven days a week," said Richard West, a mechanic from Waymore Power, Piasa, Ill., helping to overhaul the twin V-16 engines of the Earl W. Oglebay. "There's not time for much wasted movement," observed Gene Walroos, general superintendent of Superior's Fraser Shipyards Inc., whose work force has swelled to about125 people.

In addition to local workers, specialists of all kinds are streaming in and out of the Twin Ports. Gerry Bernardo, a marine chemist from Chicago, inspected one of the Oglebay's 45,000-gallon fuel holds after a scrub-down. He crawled inside it to sample air and surface conditions, using high-tech equipment to ensure it was a safe place for welders to work. As the only certified marine chemist serving Great Lakes carriers, Bernardo is constantly on the move during winter layup. This week, the owner of Marine Chemist Waterways Transportation Services will work Monday in Detroit, Tuesday in Duluth, and today in Muskegon, Mich., before zipping back to Detroit for another job.

As workers go about their duties preparing lakers for action, inspectors aren't far behind. "This is a really busy time for us," said Coast Guard Cmdr. Gary Croot. "Before these lakers get under way we need to examine all their safety gear and take them through their annual checkups." To tackle the extra work, the Coast Guard bolsters its regular staff of three marine inspectors. Croot said the Coast Guard has brought in a couple additional inspectors from other ports and also is using the services of some qualified reservists. "The Coast Guard is very thorough. They're here all the time," Walroos said, adding, "They have free rein to wander through and talk to guys at work".

From the Duluth News-Tribune


Yachts Fit for Kings
Business booms in Manitowoc for builder to the rich and famous

3/16 - Manitowoc, WI - In a weathered clapboard building, up a creaky flight of stairs, David Ross and his staff have designed yachts for sheiks, a Russian tycoon and some of the world's richest sports stars. Ross, co-owner and president of Burger Boat Co., works from an unpretentious office crammed with drawings and documents for yachts costing millions of dollars. An affable guy, he is equally at ease walking through a muddy boatyard with shop employees or having drinks with billionaires at a Monaco yacht club. Ross is passionate about the boat business, said Manitowoc Mayor Kevin Crawford. "He's the kind of guy who will wade through eight inches of mud wearing $300 shoes."

Founded during the Civil War, Burger has built yachts for some of America's most famous families, a list that includes Ford, Rockefeller and Walgreen. It built a yacht for former Chicago Bulls star Scottie Pippin, not to mention the king of Morocco.The yacht business is booming, and the trend is toward boats that are larger than those usually produced in this city's harbor. Manitowoc officials have asked Congress for $300,000 to dredge a segment of the Manitowoc River and harbor from 12 feet to 18 feet deep. The dredging would help the elite take delivery of their new yachts. Local leaders argue that the dredging would be a good use of tax dollars, because it would help ensure Burger's future here and protect some of the area's best-paying jobs. "We haven't heard anything negative about this, and we don't expect to," said Patrick Mullane, a legislative assistant for U.S. Rep. Tom Petri, a Republican from Fond du Lac.

A $20 million toy
Currently, Burger is deep into construction of a triple-deck, 144-foot vessel for a Kuwaiti businessman who owns Starbucks coffee shop franchises in the Middle East. Named Mirgab V, the yacht will boast 12 staterooms, a glass circular elevator and a swim platform that converts to a stairway to the sea. The custom yacht, selling for more than $20 million, will be berthed in the French Riviera.
Burger also has twin luxury yachts under construction for a Russian industrialist who will keep one of them in the United States, for cruising the Bahamas and the Caribbean, and the other in the Mediterranean. "What's unusual about Areti I and Areti II is they are completely identical vessels for one owner. That's extremely rare in this business," Ross said.

In 2005, Burger underwent a $14.5 million expansion that included the removal of a hull shop it had used since 1893. There are probably only about a dozen companies in the world that build yachts as large and luxurious as Burger's, and most of them are overseas. The company was family-owned for more than 120 years. Founded in 1863 by Henry B. Burger, who built Great Lakes fishing boats, it made military vessels for two world wars and the Korean conflict. Over the years, Burger yachts became known for quality and craftsmanship. Adorned with gold fixtures, marble floors and exotic-wood interiors, Burger's boats are the "Rolls-Royce" of the marine industry, Ross said.

Sadly, the company collapsed about five years after Henry E. Burger, the fourth Burger to own and operate it, sold out to John McMillan, chairman of Allegheny and Western Natural Gas Co. McMillan attempted to run Burger from his home in Coral Gables, Fla. He eventually gave up and sold the firm to Tacoma Boat Building Co., which ran up millions of dollars in debt and sent Burger into bankruptcy. A once-profitable outfit, Burger was nearly scuttled, Mayor Crawford recalled. "It was really hard to watch," he said. "This was a substantial company with a great product. It had always chugged along."

Yard was shut in 1990
In November 1990, Burger Boat's absentee owner faxed a message to management saying the boatyard would close. Twenty minutes later, at shift's end, the yard was shut down. Employees were stunned, even though they had known Burger was in financial trouble. Many of them were skilled craftsmen whose families had worked at the company for generations. "These were people who had never collected unemployment checks before," the mayor said. The workers, experts in areas such as marine engineering, carpentry and welding, formed a group and tried to revive the company themselves. City officials stepped in and provided legal counsel for the group.

Then Ross and his business partner, Jim Ruffolo, came along. Ross was a Chicago entrepreneur who had sold his commercial photo labs business a few years earlier and was looking for a new venture. He had always admired Burger yachts and now had a chance to buy the company. Ross, a Marine Corps veteran, had a "fire in the belly" that other prospective Burger owners lacked, Crawford said. "Anything he pursues, he accomplishes and does it well."

While visiting the boatyard prior to buying the company, Ross waded through the mud to see for himself what he was getting into. He wasn't deterred by the immediate problems. Instead, he was more interested in the work force that was among the best in the world at building custom yachts. "He was very focused," Crawford said. "I think he applied the discipline that was infused in him as a Marine. And he had the vision to figure this thing out and put it back together." The first few years of rebuilding Burger were "amazingly difficult," Ross recalled. "We were learning the business and trying not to make major missteps."

Burger has more than doubled the size of its work force in the past two years alone and now employs more than 400 people. "I had a gut feeling that there was a kernel of something to work with here," Crawford said about the city helping Burger. It takes the company approximately two years to finish a yacht. To maintain quality, it tackles only a few projects per year. "We would rather put out a few jewels" than mass-produce boats, Ross said. "We could have $100 million a year in sales in the next five years, just doing what we do now. And to me, that's fine." The boatyard shed where Mirgab V is under construction is about 175 feet long, and the triple-deck yacht takes up almost every foot of it. A digital clock, parked in front of the boat, counts down the days, hours and minutes until the early May deadline when the work must be finished.

When Ross bought Burger in 1993, the average yacht length was 105 feet. Now it's closer to 140 feet and growing. "We have made a commitment to go after the mega-yacht market," Ross said. The firm installed a 500-metric-ton boat lift for the launching of Mirgab V. Almost everything about the yacht's construction has been a local project, involving Burger and about 50 other area companies.

Northeast Wisconsin is home for Burger and yacht builders Palmer Johnson, Carver and Cruisers. The region has a colorful boat-building heritage that includes ship builders such as Manitowoc Cos., which made U.S. Navy submarines during World War II. The maritime industry still provides some of the state's best blue-collar jobs. "It has an immense impact on the area," said Ken Stubbe, executive director of the Economic Development Corp. of Manitowoc County.

Wealthy buyers stop in
Local hotels and restaurants have benefited from the yacht builders, since buyers come here from around the world to watch work in progress and make hundreds of decisions about the outfitting of their pleasure craft. "We hear about some fairly well-heeled individuals visiting the community on a regular basis," Stubbe said. Burger recently opened a sales office in Monaco, a European yachting hub, giving the Manitowoc area more global exposure. This fall, Mirgab V will be on display at the annual Monaco yacht show.

Ross travels about 100,000 miles a year for business and 25,000 miles for pleasure. With more than half of his company's sales outside of the United States, he has become well-known in international yachting circles. "It's like we are finally harvesting the fruits of our labor," he said. "I can't even remotely imagine myself doing anything else. I am afraid that Burger is stuck with me, for as long as I am around."

From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel


300-slip Marina Part of $200 Million Indiana Development

3/16 - Portage, IN - A 300-slip marina that is part of a $200 million development in northwestern Indiana is expected to be ready this boating season. Bill Baker, the general manager of Brant Co.'s Marina Shores Development, said he is already taking reservations for the slips and the condominiums, cottage houses and custom properties expected to be built along Lake Michigan. "The majority of activity is coming both locally and from Illinois," Baker said.

Marina Shores is a 66-acre development expected to include 61 single-family home lots and 368 condominiums in Portage, 10 miles east of Gary. The marina basin has been built and other utilities are being installed. "It's looking great out there," said John Shepherd, Portage's economic adviser. Baker said construction on the homes will begin soon with models completed within the next three to four months. "We're hopeful to have residents into the development by the end of the summer," Baker said.

People who put down reservations for property will have the first chance to reserve the boat slips, Baker said. Slips will also be rented to nonresidents on an annual basis, Baker said.

From the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel


2006 International Lighthouse Conference To be Held In Southampton, Ontario

3/16 - The 2006 International Lighthouse Conference will be held Southampton, Ontario, Canada, June 1st – 4th, 2006. The theme of the conference is “Capturing the Past - Securing the Future”. Leading experts are coming from all over the world to speak at this international conference set on the Bruce Peninsula Coast.

The Bruce Coast along Lake Huron and Georgian Bay, dotted with rocky shoals and hundreds of shipwrecks and is home to a total of 11 lighthouses and many range lights and a brand new Marine Heritage Gallery. The conference will also raise awareness of the work and involvement across North America and around the world in the preservation of the marine history of Lightkeeping and Lighthouses.

For More Information and to Register Visit Visitor Information is available at the Bruce County Tourism website at


Former Chief Engineer Dies

Chief Engineer Francis J. "Frank" English of Boland & Cornelius (ASC) passed away this week. English is the husband of the late Margaret Hochreiter English; brother of the late Geraldine Zupo, Eugene and Eleanor English; also survived by many nieces, nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews. The family will be present to receive friends Wednesday from 2-4 and 6-8 PM at BEACH-TUYN FUNERAL HOME INC., 5541 Main St. at Cayuga Rd., Williamsville, where services will be held Thursday morning at 9 o'clock followed by a Mass of Christian Burial in St. Gregory the Great Church at 9:30 AM. Memorial contributions may be made to a charity of your choice. Mr. English was a member of the Holy Name Society and the St. Vincent de Paul Society.

From the Buffalo News


New events have been added to the Boatnerd Calendar of Events

If your organization would like to be listed, please use the handy form available on the Calendar of Events page. Click on the icon in the upper right corner, or send the information to


Port Reports - March 16

Goderich - Dale Baechler
CSL Niagara entered the harbour early Thursday morning and began loading at Sifto Salt. She becomes the first arrival of the 2006 shipping season and her Captain and Engineer will receive the top hat in a presentation at Town Hall by Mayor Shewfelt and members of council this morning. It has only been 3 weeks and two days since the Peter R. Cresswell closed the 2005 season with the final load.

Owen Sound - Jim Hoffman
As of 10:30 a.m., Thursday, the Algomarine was not at her winter lay up berth. She must have left on Wednesday overnight. The Agawa Canyon and the Algorail are still here at their winter berths as of this time.


Updates - March 16

News Photo Gallery updated.

Public Photo Gallery updated


Today in Great Lakes History - March 16

On 16 March 1901, ARGO (steel passenger/package freight propeller, 173 foot, 1,089 gross tons) was launched at the Craig Ship Building Company (Hull #81) at Toledo, Ohio, for the A. Booth Company. She left the Lakes in 1917, and was last recorded in 1938, out of Brest, France.

BUFFALO (Hull#721) was launched March 16, 1978, at Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin by Bay Shipbuilding Corp., for the American Steamship Co.

On 16 March 1883, the Port Huron Times announced that the passenger and package freight steamer PICKUP would be built in Marine City, Michigan and would run on the St. Clair River between Port Huron and Algonac. The machinery from the burned steamer CARRIE H BLOOD was to be installed in her. In fact, her construction was completed that year and she went into service in September 1883. Her dimensions were 80 foot x 19 foot x 7 foot, 137 gross tons, 107 net tons.

The Niagara Harbor & Dock Company, a shipbuilding firm, was incorporated on 16 March 1831, at Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario.

On 16 March 1886, the tug MOCKING BIRD was sold by Mr. D. N. Runnels to Mr. James Reid of St. Ignace, Michigan. Mr. Runnels received the tug JAMES L REID as partial payment.

Data from: Joe Barr, Father Dowling Collection, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series This is a small sample, the books includes many other vessels with a much more detailed history


Coast Guard Study will look at Effects of Ship 'Sweepings'

3/15 - Shipping companies that transport iron ore, coal and other materials across the Great Lakes are using the lakes as a dumping ground for leftover cargo, despite federal laws and an international treaty that prohibit the practice. U.S. and Canadian freighters dump about 2 million pounds of so-called "cargo sweepings" into the Great Lakes each year, according to federal data. Cargo sweepings are residual materials left on deck and inside freighters after a ship is unloaded; those residuals must be removed to avoid contaminating future cargo loads.

Shipping companies have discarded cargo sweepings for more than 75 years by pumping the materials and wash water into the Great Lakes. Because the dumping usually takes place several miles offshore -- where each ship dumps anywhere from a few pounds to a few thousand pounds of cargo residuals -- few people outside the industry know about it. Federal officials have known about the dumping for nearly two decades. But regulators have turned a blind eye because shipping industry officials and some scientists claim cargo sweeping is environmentally harmless and contend there are no viable disposal alternatives.

But there could be changes on the horizon. The U.S. Coast Guard is about to launch the first scientific study to determine whether "dry cargo sweeping" is harming the Great Lakes. That study could determine whether government agencies restrict the practice or ban it outright; at the present time, the Coast Guard wants to permit cargo sweeping.

The shipping industry, of course, is opposed to any restrictions. "Banning cargo sweeping would be catastrophic to the shipping industry -- it would shut down power production, steel production and all kinds of construction activities in the region," said James Weakley, president of the Lake Carriers Association, a shipping industry group based in Cleveland, Ohio.

One Great Lakes expert questioned why government agencies that spend billions to keep pollutants out of surface waters would allow freighters to dump tons of iron ore, coal, salt and cement dust into the world's largest source of fresh surface water. "We have to ask ourselves if this is good public policy. Are there better alternatives?" said Mark Coscarelli, a Lansing environmental consultant who worked in Michigan's Office of the Great Lakes for more than a decade. Coscarelli said the huge volume of cargo sweepings dumped in the lakes over the past 75 years has left what could best be described as underwater gravel roads on the bottom of lakes Michigan, Huron, Superior, Erie and Ontario. Most of the sweepings are discarded in or near shipping lanes, according to government reports.

Weakley said the cargo sweepings dumped overboard do not contain hazardous substances. "It's the equivalent of sweeping out my garage," he said. "I'm pretty sure the dust and dirt I sweep out of my garage is non-toxic, but I don't have any scientific data to back that up." Weakley said every human activity has some impact on the environment. "We don't stop farming because of soil erosion and the environmental impact it causes," he said.

The federal Clean Water Act prohibits waste dumping in the Great Lakes. So does an international shipping treaty, called MARPOL Annex V, that Congress adopted in 1990. U.S. officials who approved MARPOL V, which banned trash dumping at sea, apparently were unaware at the time that the treaty effectively outlawed cargo sweeping in the Great Lakes. Instead of banning cargo sweeping, the U.S. Coast Guard in 1993 adopted an interim exemption policy that allowed the practice to continue virtually unregulated. The Coast Guard now wants to make that interim policy a permanent rule, a move that would essentially legitimize an illegal activity but increase reporting requirements for shipping firms.

U.S. and Canadian freighters dumped 432,242 pounds of cargo sweepings in Lake Michigan in 2001, according to federal data. The biggest load of cargo sweepings that year, 680,300 pounds, was dumped in Lake Huron. The cargo sweepings discarded in Lake Michigan in 2001 included 187,530 pounds of iron ore, 80,132 pounds of coal and 138,548 pounds of stone, according to federal data. Coast Guard officials said it would be impractical to outlaw cargo sweeping in the lakes. Great Lakes freighters were not designed to carry cargo residuals, and disposing of the material while docked would be too expensive, according to federal officials.

Coast Guard officials said there is no scientific evidence that cargo sweeping is harming water quality or suffocating fish habitat in the Great Lakes. And they noted that the amount of cargo residue dumped overboard is less than 1 percent of the cargo freighters transport on the lakes. But there has never been a thorough scientific study of the environmental risks associated with cargo sweeping. Scientists at a 1993 conference convened to examine the issue said 75 years of dumping iron ore, coal and other minerals into the lakes could cause environmental problems.

"Iron ore, coal, petroleum coke and slag were determined by the committee to have the potential for both acute and chronic environmental impacts and were worthy of more intense scrutiny," according to a report titled "The environmental implications of cargo sweeping in the Great Lakes." "Of greatest concern to the committee, however, is the repetitive addition and probable buildup of these materials in bottom sediments and the potential chronic effects on both hard and soft bottom habitats," the report said. Coal that is shipped to power plants around the Great Lakes contains traces of heavy metals and other chemicals that can be toxic to humans, fish and wildlife if ingested. Iron ore and slag contain metals that can be "quite toxic," according to the report.

The 1993 report urged more study to determine whether cargo sweeping was burying fish habitat or causing other problems in the lakes. But those studies never materialized, federal officials said. "If all the Coast Guard does is take the interim policy from 13 years ago and make it permanent, that doesn't make me very happy," said Eric Reeves, the retired chief of environmental safety at the Coast Guard's Cleveland district office.

Reeves wrote the Coast Guard's interim policy in 1993. He said he hoped the interim policy would prompt more studies of cargo sweeping. Though Coast Guard officials have repeatedly defended cargo sweeping, a 2003 report by the agency said "discharges greater than 1,000 pounds should be avoided aggressively." Reeves said the Coast Guard should not adopt a final policy on cargo sweeping without a thorough scientific examination of the issue. "Let's conduct the scientific studies and not just say the problem is solved just because they have an administrative solution to it," Reeves said.

From the Muskegon Chronicle


Ore Dock Receives First Upgrade In Decades

3/15 - Marquette - For the first time in decades the CCI ore dock near Presque Isle in Marquette is getting an upgrade.
Since 1912 when the dock was built, employees have had to open the chute pocket doors manually from the side of the dock. Now a new air system is being installed which will allow workers to operate the doors from the top of the dock, making it safer for employees.

"The process also included the installation of a compressor building and compressor system and that's all up and running," says project manager Al Freeman. "The doors are being tested and adjusted right now and we expect it to operate as planned."

The air system was only installed for the doors on the south side of the dock this year. The other 100 doors on the north side will be upgraded next year for a total project cost of $5 million.

The first iron ore boat is due on March 25th, but the project manager says he plans to use the new doors for the first time next month.

From WLUC TV-6


Algoma Steel Deal Averts Stockholder Showdown

3/15 - Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. - A feud of several months running apparently ended late last week, when Algoma Steel and New York financial house Paulson & Son agreed to an arrangement to head off a stockholder challenge led by Paulson. The deal announced last week apparently eliminates the need for a special Algoma stockholder meeting to consider the financial firm's challenge to Algoma's Board of Directors. The Paulson firm initially demanded that Algoma distribute some $400 million (Can.) in cash to shareholders. When Algoma's board refused that demand, the New York firm demanded removal of certain Algoma board members as well as a special shareholder meeting to air its demands.

Algoma complied with the shareholder meeting demand, setting the special meeting date for later this month. With the deal announced last week, that special meeting is apparently no longer necessary. In Algoma's statement, the company indicated terms of the arrangement include a special distribution of $200 million (Can.) to shareholders, the addition of two new members to Algoma's Board of Directors and continued efforts to seek a merger, buyout or acquisition of the Sault, Ont.-based steel mill.

The arrangement appears to give the Paulson firm a portion of its demands in exchange for withdrawal of the stockholder challenge. A company statement issued on Tuesday suggested that Algoma's board and management perceived improvements in the company's cash position, resulting in the decision to pay out another $200 million (Can.) to shareholders. The company pledged to make those payments by the end of the second quarter of the current company fiscal year. The company last year distributed $275 million (Can.) in surplus cash to shareholders. “This will bring total shareholder distributions to $475 million (Can.) in less than 12 months,” the company statement said. The statement also indicated Algoma will seek favorable tax treatment of the payouts compared to ordinary company dividends.

Algoma said several factors contributed to a change in the company's willingness to meet some of Paulus' demands. The statement said current coal contracts, declining natural gas prices, moderate increases in iron ore prices and steel price projections made the company's cash position more certain. “This has allowed the board to conclude that the company will have $200 million (Can.) of excess cash to distribute by the end of the second quarter,” the statement said in part.The statement also appeared to promise future payouts to shareholders. “Cash that is in excess to these needs will continue to be distributed to shareholders in a prudent manner,” the statement said.

The Algoma statement did not describe the company's ongoing efforts to seek the merger, acquisition or buyout openly suggested in previous company statements.

From the Soo Evening News


AK Steel-AEIF Meeting Ends, No Profit Sharing for Now

3/15 - Middletown, OH - Members of Armco Employees Independent Federation will receive no profit-sharing until a dispute over the amount of those payments is resolved, AK said Tuesday. Negotiators for the AEIF and AK Steel Corp. met for about an hour Tuesday, their fourth face-to-face meeting since AK locked out the union’s 2,600 members shortly after a former contract expired at midnight Feb. 28. The lockout is in its 14th day Tuesday.

The company has said that AEIF members qualify for 2005 profit sharing of about $930 each. Brian Daley, AEIF president, said Tuesday that amount falls short by about a third. “It actually should be a little bit above what Ashland is getting,” Daley said. AK workers at its Ashland, Ky. plant will get average 2005 profit sharing payments of about $1,400, AK said Monday.

No new collective bargaining date has been set between AK and the AEIF, as of early Tuesday afternoon.

From the Middletown Journal.


Updates - March 15

News Photo Gallery updated.

Public Photo Gallery updated


Port Reports - March 15

Duluth-Superior - Alan Miller
Vessel movements in the Twin Ports began Tuesday evening when the James R. Barker departed Midwest Energy Terminal in Superior with coal destined for the power plant at Taconite Harbor. The Barker is due back in Superior on Friday to load for Presque Isle near Marquette. It's scheduled to take haul two loads to the plant before the Soo Locks open. Other vessels in port are expected to begin getting under way March 22 and 23.

Detroit - G. Kirkness
The Rt. Hon. Paul J. Martin was up bound in the Detroit River passing the Renaissance Center at 5:35 p.m. Tuesday.

Sarnia -
Peter R. Cresswell is scheduled to sail on April 1.

Owen Sound - Peter Bowers
It was reported the Samuel Risley was to be in Owen Sound Tuesday to break ice and assist the Algomarine in leaving port. Well, the wind blew the ice out leaving the harbour clear and one report stated the Risley was docked in the harbour during the night. As of noon Tuesday, the Algomarine was still in port, her bow in ballast with her prop in the air.

Toronto - Charlie Gibbons
Unloading of sugar storage cargoes resumed Monday with Algoville being brought over to the Redpath dock. There is still a sugar storage cargo aboard Canadian Miner, which is scheduled to begin fit out next week. The tugs Ours Polaire and W. B. Indock, which were in for the weekend, went back out to resume work on the Humber Bay breakwall project.


Today in Great Lakes History - March 15

WESTCLIFFE HALL (Hull#519) was launched March 15, 1956, at Grangemouth, Scotland by Grangemouth Dockyard Co. Ltd., for the Hall Corp. of Canada.

March 15, 1949 - The Ann Arbor fleet was laid up due to a strike called by the boat crews. The fleet was idled until March 22nd.

On 15 March 1882, GRACE PATTERSON (wooden propeller tug/freighter, 111 tons, built in 1880, at Grand Haven, Michigan) was carrying lumber and lath when she stranded near Two Rivers Point, Wisconsin on Lake Michigan. She caught fire and was totally destroyed. Lifesavers rescued the crew.

Mr. Russell Armington died on 15 March 1837. He operated the first shipyard at St. Catharines, Ontario from 1828, until his death.

On 15 March 1926, SARNOR (wooden propeller freighter, 228 foot, 1,319 gross tons, built in 1888, at W. Bay City, Michigan, formerly BRITANNIC) caught fire at Kingston, Ontario near the La Salle Causeway. She burned to a total loss.

Data from: Max Hanley, Joe Barr, Dave Swayze, Father Dowling Collection, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series This is a small sample, the books includes many other vessels with a much more detailed history


Boat Watching Season Rapidly Approaching

Only Eleven days until the Soo Locks open for the 2006 season.

Only 82 days until the Port Huron Marine Mart, followed by a Boatnerd Cruise on the Huron Lady II. Have you made your reservations?

Only 108 day until Engineer's Day at the Soo. Have you made your reservations for the Annual Boatnerd Cruise aboard the Chief Shingwauk?

Check the Boatnerd Gathering Page for all the details.


Port Report - March 14

Duluth-Superior - Al Miller
Coast Guard Cutter Alder broke ice in the Duluth-Superior harbor on Monday, even though recent mild weather had begun to erode ice in several areas. By late Monday afternoon the James R. Barker was ballasted down by the stern and appeared to be preparing to load coal for its first departure of the season.


Today in Great Lakes History - March 14

March 14, 1959 - The ANN ARBOR NO 6 returned to service as the b.) ARTHUR K ATKINSON after an extensive re-fit.

In 1880, the harbor tug GEORGE LAMONT sank with her crew of three off Pentwater, Michigan after being overcome by weather during a race with her rival, the harbor tug GEM. The LAMONT was the only steamer to disappear with all hands during the many races that took place among steamers during the late 1800s and early 1900s.

On 14 March 1873, The new railroad carferry SAGINAW went into the Port Huron Dry Dock Company's dry dock where her engine was installed along with her shaft and propeller. Workmen had to break up the ice in the dry dock to release the schooner MARY E PEREW so that work could begin on the SAGINAW. The work was done quickly since SAGINAW was needed to fill in for a disabled ferry in Detroit.

Mr. Francois Baby was granted a "ferry lease" between Windsor, Ontario and Detroit, Michigan on 14 March 1843. He built the steamer ALLIANCE for this ferry service and Capt. Tom Chilvers was the skipper. In 1851, Capt. Chilvers leased the steamer from Mr. Baby and ran it on the same route until the late 1850s.

On 14 March 1878, the first vessel of the navigation season passed through the Straits of Mackinac. This was the earliest opening of the navigation season at the Straits since 1854.

Data from: Max Hanley, Shawn B-K, Joe Barr, Father Dowling Collection, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series. This is a small sample, the books includes many other vessels with a much more detailed history.


Mackinaw Still Headed to Breakout
Old cutter leaves today; new ship proves itself by breaking ice elsewhere

3/13 - Cheboygan - The fifth-warmest winter in recorded Michigan history will still necessitate the efforts of the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Mackinaw to break ice in the Straits of Mackinac, the St. Mary's River and Whitefish Bay. The Mackinaw is due to sail today to begin spring breakout duties at the usual locations where it has seen most of its service since 1944. This will be the last go-round for the Mac in places like Sault Ste. Marie, where it will need special arrangements to lock through the Soo Locks to tackle Whitefish Bay. The locks are not scheduled to open until mid-April.

“We're going to head up that way and probably try to get through the locks March 17,” said Cmdr. Joseph C. McGuiness, the last captain of the giant icebreaker. “We'll spend that day on Whitefish Bay and then concentrate on the river and the Straits of Mackinac to assist any vessels in need.” The Mackinaw will be decommissioned June 9 at Cheboygan and McGuiness has received orders for his next job as executive assistant to the 1st District Commander in Boston, Mass. The trip to the Soo will be part of a historic farewell tour for the Mackinaw that will take the 290-foot vessel to many familiar ports one last time.

“We did Grand Haven last summer for the Coast Guard Festival and went to Green Bay, Marinette, Menominee and the Lake Michigan area last fall,” McGuiness recalled. “This spring after the icebreaking is done we'll go down Lake Huron to see Detroit one last time and also visit Toledo, Cleveland and the Port Huron/Sarnia area.” The Mackinaw is planning to open for tours in many of those ports and is expecting a rush of visitors anxious for a chance to board the ship while it is still in an active status.

The new version of the Mackinaw returned to port late Thursday after finding some quality ice to break in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Reports are that the ship performed well while working an area with 24 inches of plate ice, the strongest test so far for the $110 million icebreaker. “It was great to get over there and see what the ship could do,” said Bosun's Mate 1st Class Richard Berg, officer of the day Friday aboard new Mackinaw. “It broke ice really well, no problems. That was the thickest ice we've seen this winter.” Berg said the new Mackinaw was accompanied by the cutter Mobile Bay for the Green Bay duty. He indicated that his ship will accompany the original Mackinaw for at least part of this week's trip north.

From the Cheboygan Daily Tribune


Tours of DeTour Reef Lighthouse Scheduled

3/13 - Drummond Island, MI - The DeTour Reef Light Preservation Society (DRLPS) has announced 2006 dates for its Tours and Lighthouse Keeper Programs. Tours to DeTour Reef Light include boat transportation to and from the DeTour Harbor Marina, light refreshments on the lighthouse and a guided tour. Each tour is limited to six individuals, assuring personal attention by the tour guides. The tours are approximately two hours long. Visitors will have the opportunity to tour all spaces of the lighthouse. The tours are led by trained DRLPS tour guides and the resident DeTour Reef Lighthouse Keepers.

Tours for 2006 are planned for 8:30, 10:30, 1:30, and 3:30 on the following dates:
Saturdays: June 17, 24, July 1, 15, 22, 29, Aug 5, 19, and Sundays: July 9, Aug 13

Additional information is available at the DRLPS web site: . Tour cost is $75 for DRLPS members or $95 for non-members (Memberships are available for $20 for individual or $30 for family). A portion of the tour cost is tax deductible. Please email DRLPS for tour date and time availability at or call 906-493-6609.

DeTour Reef Light is located a mile offshore in northern Lake Huron at the far eastern end of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula between DeTour Village and Drummond Island, at the mouth of the St. Mary’s River. All freighter traffic between Lake Superior and the lower Great Lakes must pass DeTour Reef Light. The light was built in 1931 using the 1861 tower, spiral stairs, watch room and lantern from the on-shore DeTour Point Light, which it replaced. Major restoration of the light was completed in 2004. DeTour Reef Light was added to the National Register of Historic Places in March of 2005 and received the Michigan Governor’s 2005 Award for Historic Preservation.

Visitors must be physically capable of climbing and descending the 20-foot ladder to reach the lighthouse deck. During ascent and descent of the ladder, each person will wear a safety harness, which requires visitors to be at least 50 inches tall and weigh less than 300 pounds. Please note for safety reasons, children under 12 are not allowed on the tour.


Port Report - March 13

Goderich - Dale Baechler
Under mainly sunny skies and mild temperatures, the MacDonald Marine tugs began ice breaking operations in the inner harbour on Sunday afternoon. Late afternoon saw Rt. Hon. Paul J. Martin begin shifting away from her northeast inner harbour wall winter berth. As of Monday morning she was on the Sifto Salt dock but had not started loading operations. Around 7:00 a.m. she left Goderich without loading salt.


Updates - March 13

News Photo Gallery updated.

Public Photo Gallery updated


Today in Great Lakes History - March 13

The keel for the tanker IMPERIAL REDWATER (Hull#106) was laid March 13, 1950, at Port Arthur, Ontario by Port Arthur Shipbuilding Co. She was converted to a bulk freighter at Collingwood, Ontario and renamed b.) R BRUCE ANGUS in 1954. The ANGUS operated for Upper Lakes Shipping Ltd., until she was scrapped at Setubal, Portugal in 1985.

On March 13, 1989, the Rouge Steel Co. announced the sale of its marine operations to Lakes Shipping, Cleveland (Interlake Steamship, mgr.).

Data from: Joe Barr, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series. This is a small sample, the books includes many other vessels with a much more detailed history.


Cleveland's West Third Street Bridge in Raised Position

3/12 Update - The vertical lift span on the West Third Street bridge in Cleveland's Flats area was in the raised position Saturday afternoon. It appears that the old cables were used to raise the span and open the river to traffic. What looked like the new cables, which are 3-1/2 feet too short to lower the span to roadway level, appear to be looped over the back of the towers. Stay tuned as more is learned about this engineering mistake.

Photos in the Boatnerd News Photo Gallery.

Original Article - 3/11 - Cleveland - The West 3rd Street Bridge slid into place with surgical precision Monday, but significant imprecision will keep it from opening on time. The 64 cables that raise and lower the deck to allow boats to pass underneath are three feet short. Correcting the error will take some time, delaying the reopening of the bridge to vehicle traffic by about three months, an ODOT spokesman said.

Counterweights attached to the cables lift the 217-foot span to make way for river traffic. But because the cables are short, the bridge deck cannot be lowered far enough for vehicles to cross. The problem is being described as a design error, but the exact source of the error remains to be identified, engineers for the Ohio Department of Transportation said. ODOT hired the builders and oversaw the construction. Cleveland hired the designer.

The 64-year-old bridge was dismantled beginning in 2004 and rebuilt along the riverbank near the mouth of the Cuyahoga. The new span was floated upstream into place Monday morning on the back of a barge. Thursday afternoon, the bridge was attached to the cables. Water was pumped out of the barge so it rode higher in the water, lifting the span enough to reach the ends of the short cables, said Chuck Fisher, president of Tri-State Steel Construction Inc.

ODOT expected the bridge would be raised by sometime Saturday morning, clearing the river. The Coast Guard had allowed a four-day window during which contractors could block the river to install the span. The tug/barge McKee Sons was unloading at Mittal Steel on Friday afternoon and can not come back down river until the bridge is lifted or removed. Other shuttle traffic was expected to begin this week from the Cleveland Bulk Terminal to Mittal.

The bridge was to open to car and truck traffic by mid-June, said Randy Over, ODOT's construction administrator in this area, but now should open before Labor Day.

The cost of the error will not be determined until a solution is chosen. That also will determine when the bridge opens. The simplest solution would be to order new cables, but they would require at least 14 weeks, and $500,000, to be fabricated. Other solutions could include changes to the 130-foot lift towers at each end of the span to accommodate shorter cables.

People involved in the project described Thursday afternoon as part of the "finger-pointing stage." Walsh Construction, the prime contractor, blames the bridge designer, ODOT engineer Tom Hyland said. Other suspects weren't identified, but ODOT officials insist they aren't at fault.

Hyland said the specifications for the project could not be blamed because they were drawn from the original bridge and its plans. The original bridge also served as a template for the new project, so all dimensions were known before the project began. "It's not like we dusted off one of our standard highway overpass designs," he said.

The financial solution probably will end up in court, where contractors, insurance companies and the government could be wrangling over who pays the bill. ODOT officials, though, are confident that the taxpayers won't have to pay.


Coast Guard Ships Equipped with Machine Guns

3/12 - Charlevoix, Mich. - Departing from the usual search-and-rescue or buoy tending exercises, the crew of the U.S. Coast Guard ship Acacia recently underwent a different type of training: firing a machine gun. All 11 of the Coast Guard's Great Lakes cutters have been armed with heavy weaponry since 2004 to ready them for possible anti-terror missions, the Traverse City Record-Eagle reported this week. The Acacia, based in Charlevoix, was fitted with an M240 mounted gun, which can fire up to 600 rounds a minute.

After the Coast Guard was absorbed by the Department of Homeland Security in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, cutter missions expanded to include patrolling "for smugglers of migrants and drugs, or terrorists seeking to infiltrate the international border," said Petty Officer William Colclough with the Coast Guard's Cleveland office, headquarters for Great Lakes operations.

Executive Lt. Cary Godwin of the Acacia said the ship was provided the weaponry in 2004, but crew members were not able to train with the guns on the water until last week. "There were political hurdles that needed to be taken care of before we could mount the weapons and water train," Godwin said. "In the past, there's been issues because of the Canadian border and treaties." The 7.62 mm guns, capable of firing up to 600 rounds a minute, could disperse a lot of lead over a large area.

"The political and environmental concerns have been outweighed (by security concerns) to make sure the cutters can respond if necessary," Godwin said. Frederick Stonehouse, a Great Lakes maritime historian in Marquette, said big new guns on the lakes suggest that the Coast Guard is driven "from the top down" with "a one-size-fits-all" mentality. "Personally, I think it's ludicrous," he said. "Where's the threat? Who are they after with this thing, a recreational boater who doesn't have enough life jackets?"

The M240s always will be aboard the cutter ships, including the new icebreaker Mackinaw, which has yet to receive its guns but is equipped with gun mounts, Colclough said. But the weapons will not be mounted unless circumstances require, he said. One such circumstance was security detail in the Detroit River last month during the Super Bowl, said Senior Chief Petty Officer Jeff Hall, also with the Coast Guard's Cleveland office. "In normal, everyday operations they're not going to be in use," Hall said. "Our ships and boats all have to meet a certain standard of response. They have to have them on board. It's not so much overkill when you don't need them as preparedness for when you might."

From the Traverse City Record-Eagle


What's Draining Two Great Lakes?
Sinking levels of Huron and Michigan, rising Erie concern U.S. Army Corps, environmentalists.

3/12 - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is disputing some key findings of a controversial report that claims the levels of lakes Michigan and Huron have been on a permanent decline for at least 44 years. But the Corps is also calling for a detailed study of the apparent drop in those two lakes -- which scientists consider one lake system -- and a corresponding rise in Lake Erie over time. Environmentalists are sounding alarms, and the International Joint Commission, a U.S.-Canadian governmental group charged with stewardship of the Great Lakes, also is pledging a thorough review.

Michigan and Huron have been steadily draining since a Corps of Engineers dredging project deepened the St. Clair River in 1962 -- and perhaps over a much longer period. So claimed the authors of the 2005 report. Compiled for a Canadian homeowners association, it said man-made alterations may have set off unending riverbed erosion that lets water from the two lakes spill into Erie, the St. Lawrence Seaway and the Atlantic Ocean faster than it's replenished. An irreversible drop -- nearly 3 feet in a century and more than expected since the last dredging -- has been costly for wildlife, commercial shipping, recreation and tourism, according to the authors.

Tim Eder, water resources director for the National Wildlife Federation, said officials should fast-track a government-sponsored inquiry. "The amount being lost through the St. Clair River is far in excess of the Chicago Diversion or any other diversion that could be contemplated," Eder said. "We're making the drain bigger, water is going out faster to the ocean, and it's never coming back." The Chicago Diversion is a connection built in 1890 from Lake Michigan through the Chicago and Illinois rivers for drinking water and navigation. It sucks more than 200 million gallons of water per day from the base of Lake Michigan and ultimately drains it into the Mississippi.

A key finding of the report is that lakes Michigan and Huron are continuing to go down while Lake Erie is rising. That's based on data tracking the three lakes' comparative levels since 1860. Lakes Huron and Michigan were supposed to stabilize at lower levels following the 1962 dredging -- not continue shrinking. The Corps said dredging probably created just part of the problem. The report's authors gave too little consideration to such other factors as rainfall and "crustal rebound" of the earth that has gone on since the region was freed from the weight of the ice-age glaciers that formed the lakes, the Corps said in a formal response. "There could be a number of reasons why Lake Erie could be rising relative to Michigan and Huron," added Scott Thieme, chief of the Great Lakes Hydraulics and Hydrology Office in Detroit. "Everybody would like to get to the bottom of it and figure out what's going on with Lake Huron and what needs to be done."

The lake level reduction since the mid-1800s has been 32 inches, an amount 28 times the volume of Lake St. Clair, said report writer Rob Nairn. An "ongoing significant drop" since the 1962 dredging was masked by wet weather that caused high lake levels from 1970-98, he added. His report only heightened concern for members of the sponsoring Georgian Bay Association, who had raised $200,000 to find out why the water has been lower for seven straight years along their far northern stretch of Lake Huron shore. They've watched wetlands disappear and, with them, fish and herons and other wildlife that used to be abundant. "We think there's some urgency here," said Mary Muter, bay keeper for the association.

The chief evidence of erosion is a 60-foot-deep hole in the St. Clair River bottom near the Blue Water Bridge at Port Huron. The Corps of Engineers said the depression has shown up in data from earlier in the 20th century, but the study's researchers said it has grown longer and wider. The hole is in an area where the Corps dredged out two feet of bottomlands to deepen the shipping channel down the middle of the upper half of the river from 25 feet to 27 feet. Part of a more extensive revamping of the Great Lakes system to accommodate oceangoing vessels from the St. Lawrence Seaway, the swath is 600-800 feet wide. Thieme said that was but one of several alterations affecting water levels from the 1860s through the 1960s. There also was dredging to accommodate shipping in the 1930s and extensive sand and gravel excavating between 1915 and 1925.

Authors of the report, W.F. Baird and Associates Coastal Engineers, didn't blame the erosion on the Corps of Engineers because they aren't sure of all the causes. They said other factors could be sea walls built by property owners, shore erosion, wetlands filling and sand mining. "We really haven't determined -- and I'm not sure if we ever will -- who's at fault," Nairn said. While key findings are in dispute, they're of sufficient gravity to have gained the attention of the International Joint Commission. Commission officials said they plan to investigate the Huron-Michigan water losses in the early years of a five-year look at policies governing lake levels. The $14.6 million study will start this spring if the U.S. and Canadian governments come up with the money.

From the Detroit News


Recent Freighter Trip Raffle Winner Announced

Trip on a CSL Freighter - Sponsored by the Norwesters Alpine Club of Ontario. Drawing March 5, 2006
1st place Jack Mallon Ticket # 1221,
2nd prize Vivianne McCullough ticket # 1461,
3rd prize Audrey Adduono ticket # 1006.

Cruise aboard the Charles M. Beeghly - Sponsored by ISMA Port Huron Lodge #2
Drawing March 4, 2006
Winner: Stuart Waddell of Brighton, MI with ticket number 1352


Port Report - March12

Port Colborne - Herb
Canadian Enterprise departed her winter lay-up in Port Colborne early on Saturday.


Today in Great Lakes History - March 12

The b.) RUTH HINDMAN was launched March 12, 1910, as a.) NORWAY (Hull#115) at Toledo, Ohio by Toledo Shipbuilding Co., for the United States Transportation Co. She was scrapped at Thunder Bay, Ontario in 1978.

G A TOMLINSON was launched March 12, 1907, as a) D O MILLS (Hull#29) at Ecorse, Michigan by Great Lakes Engineering Works for the Mesaba Steamship Co.

March 12, 1941 - The ferry CITY OF MIDLAND 41, arrived in Ludington, Michigan on her maiden voyage. She loaded cars of paper at Manitowoc, Wisconsin and then picked up some cars of canned milk at Kewaunee. Captain Charles Robertson in command.

On 12 March 1883, the steam barge R MC DONALD was renamed IDA M TORRENT.

Data from: Max Hanley, Joe Barr, Father Dowling Collection, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series. This is a small sample, the books includes many other vessels with a much more detailed history.


Cleveland Bridge Cables are Three Feet Too Short
Major gaffe will delay West 3rd span's opening

3/11 - Cleveland-- The West 3rd Street Bridge slid into place with surgical precision Monday, but significant imprecision will keep it from opening on time. The 64 cables that raise and lower the deck to allow boats to pass underneath are three feet short. Correcting the error will take some time, delaying the reopening of the bridge to vehicle traffic by about three months, an ODOT spokesman said.

Counterweights attached to the cables lift the 217-foot span to make way for river traffic. But because the cables are short, the bridge deck cannot be lowered far enough for vehicles to cross. The problem is being described as a design error, but the exact source of the error remains to be identified, engineers for the Ohio Department of Transportation said. ODOT hired the builders and oversaw the construction. Cleveland hired the designer.

The 64-year-old bridge was dismantled beginning in 2004 and rebuilt along the riverbank near the mouth of the Cuyahoga. The new span was floated upstream into place Monday morning on the back of a barge. Thursday afternoon, the bridge was attached to the cables. Water was pumped out of the barge so it rode higher in the water, lifting the span enough to reach the ends of the short cables, said Chuck Fisher, president of Tri-State Steel Construction Inc.

ODOT expected the bridge would be raised by sometime Saturday morning, clearing the river. The Coast Guard had allowed a four-day window during which contractors could block the river to install the span. The tug/barge McKee Sons was unloading at Mittal Steel on Friday afternoon and can not come back down river until the bridge is lifted or removed. Other shuttle traffic was expected to begin this week from the Cleveland Bulk Terminal to Mittal.

The bridge was to open to car and truck traffic by mid-June, said Randy Over, ODOT's construction administrator in this area, but now should open before Labor Day.

The cost of the error will not be determined until a solution is chosen. That also will determine when the bridge opens. The simplest solution would be to order new cables, but they would require at least 14 weeks, and $500,000, to be fabricated. Other solutions could include changes to the 130-foot lift towers at each end of the span to accommodate shorter cables.

People involved in the project described Thursday afternoon as part of the "finger-pointing stage." Walsh Construction, the prime contractor, blames the bridge designer, ODOT engineer Tom Hyland said. Other suspects weren't identified, but ODOT officials insist they aren't at fault.

Hyland said the specifications for the project could not be blamed because they were drawn from the original bridge and its plans. The original bridge also served as a template for the new project, so all dimensions were known before the project began. "It's not like we dusted off one of our standard highway overpass designs," he said.

The financial solution probably will end up in court, where contractors, insurance companies and the government could be wrangling over who pays the bill. ODOT officials, though, are confident that the taxpayers won't have to pay.


Port Report - March11

Toronto - Charlie Gibbons
Royal Canadian Yacht Club is gearing up for the season. Today they launched their workboat Elsie D. Toronto Island Marina has been running their tender T.I.M. all winter thanks to the mild weather.

Sad news for some of the employees working on the new Humber Bay breakwall project - they got pink slips today because the mild winter has put the project so far ahead of schedule (was due to finish by May 30th) they worked themselves out of jobs. Only one crew remains until completion. City council did not approve the additional funding Wednesday, to extend the new dragon boat race course to full Olympic length. This may bode poorly for the city's next Olympic bid. Canada has won the Dragon Boat World Championship title two years in a row.


Today in Great Lakes History - March 11

The keel was laid March 11, 1976, for the 660 foot forward section of the BELLE RIVER (Hull#716) at Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin by Bay Shipbuilding Corp. Renamed b.) WALTER J. McCARTHY JR in 1990.

L'AIGLE was launched March 11, 1982, as a.) ERRIA PILOT (Hull#308) at Imabari, Japan by Asakawa Zosen Co.

March 11, 1904 - The Lake Erie ferry SHENANGO NO 1, burned at Conneaut, Ohio. She was a total loss.

Sea trials were conducted on March 11, 1956, on Paterson’s new canaller LACHINEDOC.

The tug RIVER QUEEN was sold to Mr. Ed Recor of St. Clair, Michigan on 11 March 1886.

Data from: Max Hanley, Joe Barr, Father Dowling Collection, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series. This is a small sample, the books includes many other vessels with a much more detailed history.


Mackinaw's Accident May Have Saved Dog
Rescue thrills dog owner

3/10 - Grand Haven, MI -- Robert Chavez can thank his lucky icebreakers that his German shepherd, Jasmine, is back at his Grand Haven Township home today. A hole created when the new Mackinac cutter, a $90 million U.S. Coast Guard ship, rammed the seawall where the Grand River empties into Lake Michigan in Grand Haven last year gave Chavez's 1-year-old pup an area to seek refuge from icy waters. It also led to a rescue effort reuniting the owner and a dog he believed had drowned.

"The Coast Guard couldn't do anything for me Tuesday, but I said they did something three months ago that I'll never forget," Chavez said, of the damage inflicted by the vessel when it hit the wall Dec. 12. "Without that hole, Jasmine wouldn't be here, no way."

Chavez was walking his two dogs along the river channel Tuesday morning when the shepherd fell through the ice. He called 911, but authorities could not locate the animal. "My heart just sank and I went home," he said. "It looked grim. I figured my dog, a part of my family, was gone."

About nine hours later, others walking the pier spotted Jasmine in a tunnel under the south pier sidewalk. It is believed the dog was able to reach the dry tunnel because of the damage caused by the cutter's collision, police said. Joey Nadeau, 20, and Luke McFadden, 18, heard the shepherd barking, but initially couldn't find her. Looking down a 12-inch service cover, Nadeau saw the dog. He and McFadden called police and were told they would have to wait until morning. The Coast Guard and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers declined to help until Wednesday morning, citing darkness, Chavez and police said.

"We felt that wasn't enough," Nadeau said. "If they weren't going to try their hardest, we were." The pair grabbed pliers and a couple of screwdrivers, wiggling the cover free and creating an opening that an Ottawa County sheriff's deputy maneuvered the 55-pound dog through to safety.

Reported by Bob VandeVusse from the Grand Rapids Press


The Icebreaker CCGS Samuel Risley on the Move

3/10 - Parry Sound - Because of an especially warm winter, and light ice conditions, the Canadian Coast Guard’s icebreaker CCGS Samuel Risley got to spend more time in her Parry Sound port. This has permitted her crew to make some much-needed repairs.

Last Friday afternoon at the Coast Guard Base facilities the crew removed a damaged three-ton shaft generator. “We’re removing one of the five generators which produces electricity on the ship,” said captain Dave Fowler. “It will be sent away to a special workshop and will probably be re-installed in October, when the ship comes back to her home base of Parry Sound for summer maintenance work.”

CCGS Samuel Risley has two crews, each working a 28-day shift, followed by 28 days off duty. Everyone works 12 hours a day, seven days a week for their on-duty tour. Many of the officers and crew are from the Parry Sound area, including the captain and both the ship’s commanding officers. Captain Fowler lives in McDougall and Captain Darryl Clow resides in Nobel. The crew say they always enjoy the opportunity to spend a little more time with their families when the ship is docked in Parry Sound.

“We are very proud to have the ship permanently stationed in Parry Sound,” said captain Fowler. “There are only two major Coast Guard Bases on the Great Lakes and we have one of them right here in our town. The base provides crucial year-round support to the ship in many areas including maintenance, staffing and logistics. Businesses in town can provide us with many of the goods and services we need to support the Coast Guard’s work.”

On Thursday at 1 p.m., the Samuel Risley is expected to set sail to Sarnia, Goderich and then up the North Channel. “We’re going to go back out thorough the ice very slowly,” said captain Fowler. “If we were to go full speed, which is 14 knots or 25 kilometres an hour, we’d break ice 100 feet on either side of the ship. If we go slower, we’re only breaking ice the width of the ship, which is about 40 feet on either side. In the winter, ice fishers and snowmobilers are using the ice in many of the shipping channels, so we do our best to alert as many of them as possible about ice breaking operations because we will leave a bit of rubble and ice behind.”

The ship will be conducting ice breaking operations in support of commercial shipping in Georgian Bay and Lake Huron ports up until March 17, when she will be passing through the lock at Sault Ste. Marie and heading towards Thunder Bay to open up the port for the 2006 shipping season.

From the Parry Sound North Star


Visions of an Eatery and Museum for Abandoned Cleveland USCG Station

3/10 - Cleveland - The iconic, abandoned Coast Guard station at the Cuyahoga River's western mouth would be restored to glory -- and multiple public uses -- under multimillion-dollar plans that will be unveiled tonight. City planners envision the 65-year-old station converted to a restaurant and Great Lakes museum, with public docks and a promenade. The Cleveland Planning Commission will gather public comments on three versions of a restored station during a 6 p.m. meeting tonight at Gordon Square Arcade, West 65th Street and Detroit Avenue.

Estimated costs on the three proposals range from $5 million to $9.2 million. The city has no money for the work but believes plans for a restored site -- it's on the National Register of Historic Places -- would draw tax credits and federal, state and foundation funds. "It's a critical piece of the city's lakefront and an amazing building," said Debbie Berry, the city's lakefront planner. The city acquired the site two years ago. It remains in woeful disrepair, with a collapsed roof, rotting interior woodwork and 3 feet of water in the basement of the main quarters.

But the station's sleek, reinforced concrete shell is structurally sound, architects said last summer. The former Cleveland Harbor station was designed by the late J. Milton Dyer, whose many works include Cleveland City Hall. The station features a main building and six-story tower that offers stunning views of downtown, as well as a boathouse and three-bay garage. Plans include restoring the decrepit, 1,000-foot pier that links the station with Whiskey Island and the county-owned Wendy Park. Ultimately, many see the station as the northern end point for the Towpath Trail, a bike path under construction now between Cleveland and Dover in Tuscarawas County.

Under an $8.5 million plan, the site would be restored in historic detail, with a café and a museum devoted to Great Lakes and Coast Guard history. Boats could dock along a perimeter promenade, while visitors on land would park on Whiskey Island and walk the pier, widened to 25 feet. A water taxi could squire visitors to the Flats or North Coast Harbor.

Under a $9.2 million plan -- called "full build" by Berry -- the site would feature a restaurant, patio and banquet facilities, with a smaller museum. Many more boat slips would be added, and a wind turbine is proposed for the circular driveway. Docks would have room for a "floating school" that would take students on the lake for science experiments, possibly in conjunction with the Great Lakes Science Center. The site's northwestern tip would feature an amphitheater or outdoor classroom.

A third plan, costing $5 million, would restore the building's shell but feature an open-air interior, surrounded by trees and walkways. The advantage of a park-like setting is lower maintenance costs, Berry said. Architect Paul Volpe, whose firm helped produce the plans, said something must be done soon to save a treasure that has become a lakefront "embarrassment."

From the Cleveland Plain Dealer


Warm Winter Sinks Ice Fishing Business

3/10 - London Ont. - For only the second time in 24 years, an unusually warm winter has wiped out the ice fishing season for John Aker at Long Point on Lake Erie. Aker, operator of Aker's Ice Fishing, looked out yesterday to a scene of ducks and geese paddling in water usually covered by a thick sheet of ice at this time of year. The story is the same at Mitchell's Bay on Lake St. Clair, where there's been no ice and no angling during a winter that never produced a prolonged freeze.

February brought snow and colder conditions to Southwestern Ontario following record-breaking warmth in January. But temperatures in the London region still averaged a degree or two above normal for the month. For the ice fishing industry, the unusual conditions have been a disaster. "We haven't had any ice at all," Aker said. "It's just been one of those winters. Out of 24 years I've been operating, this is only the second one where we haven't run at all."

And this winter is the mildest of all, he said. In recent winters, the bay has been covered by 40 to 50 centimetres of ice by mid-winter and in earlier years 60 centimetres or more, he said. At Mitchell's Bay, the lack of ice has meant a business bust for Roman Krzewina, owner of Waterway Camp. "This year, there was zero income," he said. "There was no ice fishing, nothing. There was a lot of investment and no business." Mitchell's Bay is an ice fishing mecca that in a normal year attracts tens of thousands of anglers.

The Thames River below Chatham is also free of ice at a time of year when officials at the Lower Thames Valley Conservation Authority usually worry about flooding caused by ice jams during spring breakup. Longer days and warmer temperatures mean there's no chance of an ice sheet forming this late in the winter, said water management supervisor Jack Robertson. If there's a flood threat this spring, it will come from heavy rain and spring runoff.

From the London Free Press


Port Reports - March 10

Duluth/Superior - Al Miller
James R. Barker is scheduled to load three coal cargoes for Lake Superior ports beginning Tuesday, March 13. The Barker, which spent the winter at Midwest Energy Terminal, will load its first cargo there and carry it to the power plant at Taconite Harbor. It’s scheduled to load again Friday, March 17, and again Monday, March 20, with cargoes destined for WE-Energies at Presque Isle near Marquette, Mich.

Shipments from the terminal to the lower lakes are scheduled to begin March 23 when Indiana Harbor leaves its lay up berth to load coal for Nanticoke. Once the Soo Locks open, a steady stream of vessels is scheduled at the dock for the remainder of March and for April. The first arrivals presently are expected to be Columbia Star and Paul R. Tregurtha, both on March 26, loading for St. Clair, Mich.

According to local tradition, dating back to the first days of commercial navigation on the lakes, the Twin Ports shipping season does not officially begin until the first boat arrives from below the Soo.

Port Colborne - Charlie Gibbons
Canadian Enterprise fitting out and expected to depart lay-up today.

Sarnia - Fran Frisk
CSL Niagara is fitting out this weekend and may depart as early as Tuesday morning for a Lake Erie port.


Today in Great Lakes History - March 10

CHARLES E WILSON (Hull#710) was launched March 10, 1973, at Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin by Bay Shipbuilding Corp., for American Steamship Co. Renamed b.) JOHN J BOLAND in 2000.

The ADAM E CORNELIUS, built by the Great Lakes Engineering Works (Hull#53) in 1908, was renamed b.) DETROIT EDISON on March 10, 1948. In 1954, she was renamed c.) GEORGE F RAND and in 1962, the RAND was sold to Canadian registry and renamed d.) AVONDALE. She was scrapped at Castellon, Spain in 1979.

FORT HENRY (Hull#150) was launched March 10, 1955, at Collingwood, Ontario by Collingwood Shipyards Ltd., for Canada Steamship Lines Ltd.

KINSMAN VENTURE was launched March 10, 1906, as a.) JOHN SHERWIN (Hull#617) at West Bay City, Michigan by West Bay City Ship Building Co.

On 10 March 1881, the propellers MORLEY and A L HOPKINS were purchased by the Wabash Railroad Company from the Morley Brothers of Marine City, Michigan.

The N K FAIRBANK (wooden freighter, 205 foot, 980 gross tons, built in 1874, at Marine City, Michigan) was sold by Morley & Morse to Captain H. Hastings on 10 March 1884.

The tug RIVER QUEEN sank at her dock in Port Huron, Michigan during the night of 10 March 1885. She was raised the following day and one of her sea-cocks was discovered to have been open that caused her to fill with water.

CADILLAC (steel ferry, 161 foot, 636 gross tons) was launched on 10 March 1928, by the Great Lakes Engineering Works in River Rouge, Michigan (Hull #260) for the Detroit & Windsor Ferry Company. The ferry company claimed that she was the largest and most powerful ferry in North American waters. When she was launched, the Ambassador Bridge and the tunnel, which connects Detroit and Windsor, were being constructed. She was placed in service on 25 April 1928, and had a varied history. From 1940 to 1942, she ran as a Bob-lo steamer. In 1942, she was sold to the U. S. Coast Guard and renamed b.) ARROWWOOD (WAGL 176) and used as an icebreaker. She was rebuilt in 1946, renamed c.) CADILLAC, and served as a passenger vessel on Lake Erie. At the end of the 1947 season, she was tied up to the dock for use as a restaurant. She went through a couple of owners until she finally arrived at the scrappers' dock in Hamilton, Ontario on May 26, 1962 for breaking up.

Data from: Joe Barr, Dave Swayze, Father Dowling Collection, Historical Collections of the Great Lakes, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series. This is a small sample, the books includes many other vessels with a much more detailed history.


Detroit Museums' Handover Expected
On heels of zoo move, council vote would save city $1M a year, spare Historical, Dossin institutions

3/9 - Detroit's been burned down and rebuilt, people came for beaver fur, and the roads used to be made of rocks. Those are just a few things Shayla Cook says she learned while visiting the Detroit Historical Museum Tuesday with classmates from Detroit's Malcolm X Academy. "A lot has changed since 1701," 12-year-old Shayla said Tuesday before heading to her school bus. Indeed. And more changes are in store for the Detroit Historical Museum, which attracts 150,000 visitors a year.

Today, the Detroit City Council is scheduled to vote on a deal to hand over management of the museum, as well as the Dossin Great Lakes Museum on Belle Isle, to the Detroit Historical Society for a savings of more than $1 million a year to the city. The plan mirrors the agreement approved by the City Council in which management of the Detroit Zoo was handed to the Detroit Zoological Society. The new agreement would cut the city's funding to the museum to $500,000.

Although the cultural institutions will get less money from the city, both private, nonprofit societies say they can raise more money to cover expenses if they are allowed to run the operations. The city will maintain ownership. Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick's spokesman, James Canning, said the city is optimistic about the deal. "We believe this is the best way to preserve this cultural institution," he said.

Kilpatrick announced last summer that he intended to end funding for the museums, as well as the zoo, amid the city's fiscal crunch. In 2003 Detroit spent $3.5 million on the historical museums; that figure dropped to $1.5 million this year. "We're of course optimistic" the deal will pass, said Bob Bury, executive director of the Detroit Historical Society.

Reported by Frank Frisk from the Detroit News


Bush Budget may Sink Great Lakes Restoration Plan
Former backers have lost faith in president to execute $20B strategy two months after its adoption.

3/9 - President Bush's proposed budget cuts have some people wondering if his administration's master plan for restoring the Great Lakes is sunk less than two months after it was adopted. The Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Strategy, a $20 billion set of priorities with no new sources of federal funding to do the work, was once called little more than a public relations stunt by Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., before it was completed in Chicago on Dec. 12.

Attention has turned to Bush's proposal to cut nearly $200 million more from the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Water State Revolving Fund during the 2007 fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1. That fund is the main source of federal money that states use to help municipalities finance sewer projects. And sewer projects are the biggest component of the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Strategy. It's the second consecutive year the national sewage fund could get whacked. In the current budget, it was reduced by $360 million and accounted for the majority of the half-billion cut from the federal EPA's $8.1 billion budget.

The Lakes are affected by two other proposed cuts: Some $2 million from the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, which helps combat exotic species, and more than $1 million from the U.S. EPA's Great Lakes National Program Office in Chicago, which administers programs. "You judge these things not by what somebody says about them, but what the facts are," Dingell told the Toledo Blade. He said he met with EPA Administrator Steve Johnson on Dec. 7 and "chewed him out thoroughly" for going along with the no-new-funding plan for the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Strategy.

The strategy's $20 billion set of priorities stemmed from a process that involved more than 1,500 public officials, tribal leaders, business representatives, environmental activists, and citizen groups who met for more than a year. On Oct. 28, a task force of senior White House officials recommended no new spending. Some national groups that went along with it, such as the National Wildlife Federation, are now seething about the proposed budget cutbacks. "The president is ignoring the plan his own presidential task force put forth in December," said Jordan Lubetkin, spokesman for the group's Great Lakes regional office in Ann Arbor.

"Quite frankly, the budget is a betrayal of trust," he said, explaining that National Wildlife Federation had supported it in "good faith." The White House, in its online analysis posted on its Web site, said the president's budget "continues to support state and tribal efforts to improve water quality through the Clean Water State Revolving Fund," even with less money budgeted.

Reported by Frank Frisk from the Toledo Blade


McGuiness has New Orders to Hometown of Boston

3/9 - Cheboygan, MI - Cmdr. Joseph C. McGuiness will always remember the first day he was piped aboard the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Mackinaw as the new skipper of the aging icebreaker. He already knows he'll never forget his last day as the ship's last commanding officer. “It was overwhelming, in a positive manner,” McGuiness recalled of that sunny day in 2003. “I was so excited to be the skipper of the Mac - but I'm thinking ‘oh, boy this is a big job.'”

It turned out to be his favorite job. “All the way until I walk off this ship for the last time I'll believe I've had the best job in the Coast Guard,” he emphasized. “All the responsibility that comes with running this ship and all the independence I've been given; together it has made for a great job. Now I might miss it so much I might start plotting my way to my next ship.”

McGuiness has long known that the Mackinaw will be decommissioned June 9 in ceremonies that will also feature the commissioning of the new icebreaker Mackinaw that arrived here Dec. 17, 2005. Now he has received orders for his next job. McGuiness will be heading for his hometown, Boston, Mass., to take a position as the executive assistant to the 1st District Commander. He will be with the Mackinaw until June 30. “The last time I worked this close to my hometown was 15 years ago when I worked on the Waterways Commission staff,” he recalled. “The executive assistant is a new position. The job is designed to essentially run the administration for the District, freeing the chief of staff to become more involved with operations.

“For me it's a chance to change the daily routine so that hopefully when I come back to the routine on a bigger ship, it will be in a refreshed, renewed spirit,” he continued. “I want to feel the same way walking onboard my next ship that I felt coming to this one.” Asked if that meant a polar icebreaker could be in his future, McGuiness slowly nodded his head. “Yep,” he said softly.

For the longer term, he didn't rule out a return to Northern Michigan. “We have no plans to sell our house in Harbor Springs, though,” he said. “We're retirement eligible now, so we have a number of choices. See, I was ready to retire and not ready to retire, I'm just thrilled that the Coast Guard offered an excellent job in an excellent location.” For now, McGuiness and his wife, Peri, are the parents of two high school-age boys and have moved before. There's a school year to complete in Harbor Springs before the family begins the task of locating schools and housing in Massachusetts.

There's also ice to break on the Great Lakes. “Day to day, I'm still focused on getting the ship ready for spring breakout,” he said. “Everything else comes along later. We have so enjoyed the people here, the climate, the culture. It (living here) has been ideal for my family.”

From the Cheboygan Daily Tribune


Updates - March 9

News Photo Gallery updated.

Public Photo Gallery updated


Today in Great Lakes History - March 09

In 1905, the JAMES C WALLACE (Hull#334) of the Acme Steamship Co., (A.B. Wolvin, mgr.), was launched at Lorain, Ohio by American Ship Building Co. Purchased by the Interlake Steamship Co. in 1913, she was scrapped at Genoa, Italy in 1963.

On 09 March 1933, all nine steamers of the Goodrich Transit Company were seized by Federal Marshals under a bankruptcy petition. These steamers were CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS, CAROLINA, ALABAMA, ILLINOIS, CITY OF BENTON HARBOR, CITY OF GRAND RAPIDS, CITY OF ST. JOSEPH, CITY OF HOLLAND, and the CITY OF SAUGATUCK.

AMOCO ILLINOIS was launched March 9, 1918, as a) WILLIAM P COWAN (Hull#724) at Lorain, Ohio by American Ship Building Co.

NOTRE DAME VICTORY (Hull#1229), was launched on March 9, 1945, at Portland, Oregon by Oregon Shipbuilding Co., just 42 days after her keel was laid. She became the b.) CLIFFS VICTORY and sailed on the Great Lakes from 1951 until 1985.

WIARTON was launched March 9, 1907, as a) THOMAS LYNCH (Hull#73) at Chicago, Illinois by Chicago Ship Building Co., for the Pittsburgh Steamship Co. She was used as part of a breakwall at the Steel Co. of Canada Dock in Hamilton. The GROVEDALE of 1905, and HENRY R PLATT JR of 1909, were also used.

March 9, 1920 - The PERE MARQUETTE 3, sank off Ludington after being crushed by ice.

On 9 March 1858, the propeller ferry GLOBE was being loaded with cattle at the Third Street dock at Detroit, Michigan. In the rush to get aboard, the cattle caused the vessel to capsize. All of the cattle swam ashore, although some swam across the river to the Canadian side.

Data from: Max Hanley, Joe Barr, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series. This is a small sample, the books includes many other vessels with a much more detailed history.


Brinzo Upbeat on Prospects for Cleveland-Cliffs in ‘06

3/8 - Marquette - Cleveland-Cliffs Inc. is predicting to follow up its record profits in 2005 with another successful year. John Brinzo, Cliffs’ president and chief executive officer of the iron mining company, spoke positively this morning about Cliffs’ future at a breakfast at the Holiday Inn hosted by the Lake Superior Community Partnership.

“I’m optimistic that 2006 will be another strong year for Cleveland-Cliffs,” Brinzo said. “There is a strong demand both domestically and globally and I think the demand will be even greater than we’re planning on once the shipping season begins.” Cliffs earned a record $278 million in profits last year, about 2¢ times greater than 2004 and five to six times greater than its peak earnings in the 1990s. “2005 was a good year for Cliffs,” Brinzo said.

Cliffs officials want to see revenues reach $3 billion in the next few years, he said. “We had $1.7 billion in revenues in 2005, but we want to see that number up to $3 billion in the next few years,” Brinzo said. “We plan to reach this goal by investing in new acquisitions outside of North America and making our existing mines as competitive as possible.”

However, Cliffs’ North American operations continue to be its core business, Brinzo said. “Our desire to expand outside of North America doesn’t mean we’re ignoring our North American operations,” he said. “In fact, we plan to spend about $140 million in capital improvements, $40 million of which is designated for here in Michigan. This is part of our plan to lower costs, increase safety, and remain competitive.”

Cliffs — along with its partners — has also committed $50 million to construct an iron nugget plant in Minnesota, Brinzo said.

Cleveland-Cliffs has experienced a significant turnaround in business since its days of struggling through a steel depression from about 1999 to 2003, Brinzo said. “Cliffs is entering its 159th year of operation, but in some aspects we are a completely new company,” he said. “We had to restructure our company in order to remain competitive in a changing industry.”

The Empire and Tilden mines combined operations in 2003 to improve productivity and remain competitive. Cliffs positioned itself to combine the operations by increasing its ownership of the two mines.  “We bought the operations for little or no money and these same interests are now worth $1 billion and a half,” Brinzo said. “China’s industry took off almost immediately after we acquired the interests. Our timing was very good.”

Cleveland-Cliffs can’t succeed without everyone’s effort, Brinzo said. “Our success depends on everyone from our employees to the communities in which we operate,” he said. “Marquette County has always been a supporter of our operations and we’ll continue to do good by Marquette County.”

From the Marquette Mining Journal


Sturgeon Bay Hosts Annual Shipyard Tours

3/8 - Sturgeon Bay, WI - The Rotary Club of Sturgeon Bay and The Door County Interact Club present the annual tour of the Sturgeon Bay shipyards Saturday, May 6th, 2006.

Three facilities, all located on 1st Avenue, will be participating this year on Saturday, May 6th from 9am-2pm. Palmer Johnson Yachts, Bay Shipbuilding Co. and Great Lakes Yacht Services open their doors to the public for this once a year event.

Start the tour at any one of the facilities and see first hand the efforts of our professionals who work in the repair and new construction business. Staff is available to answer questions. View the yards from the water on the Fred A. Busse, a retired Chicago fireboat that will be running tours at 10am, 11am, noon and 1pm from the dock at Stone Harbor Resort on the east side of the Michigan Street Bridge. Hop a ride on the complimentary hay wagon as it makes its way from one venue to another.

Tickets will be available at the various shipyard gates the day of the event. Ticket prices are $8 per person for the shipyard tour and $6 for the fireboat tour. Tickets for children ages 4-17 yrs are $4 for the shipyard tour and $3 for the fireboat tour. Free admission for children under 4 yrs. Advance tickets are available after May 1st at the Door County Maritime Museum or the Sturgeon Bay Visitor and Convention Bureau.

The Rotary Club of Sturgeon Bay and the Door County Interact Club, a teen service group affiliated with Rotary and with the YMCA, organize this annual tour. Proceeds from ticket sales benefit local, national and international youth projects. For more information please call Trish Konowalski at Guaranty Title Services. (920)743-8460 or Ben Rikkola at the YMCA (920)743-4949


Some Rochester Ferry Claims Settled
Judge doles out partial awards to creditors large and small

3/8 - Rochester, NY - Settling up on high-speed ferry debts continues with a judge ruling Monday on how to pay 192 claims filed in the wake left by former operator Canadian American Transportation Systems. CATS owned and operated the ship in 2004. Total claims topped $2.7 million, far exceeding the $700,000 creditors' fund set aside when the city bought the ship at auction in February 2005. "Anything is better than nothing," said Horseshoe Hospitality owner Kurt Ritchie, the ship's caterer and gift shop operator.

Ritchie filed a claim for $80,670 for debts under CATS and was awarded $60,370. He took another hit when the city pulled the plug on Rochester-to-Toronto ferry service in January of this year and began settling up on debts from this past year. Ritchie sold off merchandise and kitchen equipment last month to repay creditors for unspecified losses.

Katrina Dudley's claim was for $1,268. She will receive $949. For the married mother of two, ages 6 and 9, it's a relief to know her work and time away from her children wasn't for nothing. Dudley worked on interior displays and researched a historical exhibit on Lake Ontario ferries that was never used. "I just thought, you know, they are never going to pay me," she said. "I just sort of wrote it off."

Dudley's husband worked for a firm that sold $15,000 in signage and labor to CATS. That firm has since gone out of business.

As part of a settlement agreement negotiated before it bought the ship, the city agreed to create a $700,000 creditors' fund to pay off at least a portion of CATS' creditors. The court was then to administer the fund. Magistrate Judge Jonathan W. Feldman created a six-tier payment schedule awarding 100 percent of claim amounts to employees and individuals, dropping significantly to small, medium and large businesses to end at 11 percent for professional firms. Payments will be issued after March 20, the deadline for anyone choosing to reject their award and seek other options.

Michael Beyma, a lawyer with the firm representing original ferry lender ABN AMRO, said the past year involved more than just receiving claims and devising a payment formula. Claims had to be verified. Many required additional information. A few, including a claim by ship builder Austal Ltd., was not paid. The judge rejected Austal's claim (the amount of which was not stated in the ruling) because Austal was a shareholder in CATS. Anyone with an affiliation with government also received nothing. "It was not meant to pay everybody in full," Beyma said, explaining the $700,000 was an amount offered by the city. "I think it's pretty unique. In most instances like this unsecured creditors get zero."

The judge still was talking to claimants as recently as last week, Beyma said, and tweaking payment percentages on Friday afternoon. Legal and communications firms lost some of the most money on CATS. Blank Rome LLP, a Pennsylvania-based law firm, filed a claim for nearly $250,000 and was awarded $26,700. Frontier Communications sought $77,270 and received $11,590. Beyma worked for free on the case. "As part of the settlement agreement," Beyma said, "the city decided that smaller creditors and smaller businesses that might not have known the financial danger they were in should recoup as much of their losses as possible."

From the Rochester Democrat Chronicle


Port Report - March 8

Montreal Layup Fleet - Bruno B.
According to the Web site of the Port of Montreal, the following ships are scheduled for departure on March 15:
Montrealais, Algonorth, Spruceglen, Atlantic Huron and Pineglen

Estimated Departures for March 28 - Algoisle and Petrolia Desgagnes

No dates yet given: Algoport, Saunière and Canadian Prospector

In Quebec City around April 4 - Melissa Desgagnes, Amelia Desgagnes, Catherine Desgagnes.

No Date yet for Thalassa Desgagnes

New Season - Ron Walsh
The Atlantic Erie departed Montreal Tuesday according to their website.

The website for Sept Isles shows several lake vessels arriving early in the new season. The Nanticoke on the 25th, CSL Niagara on March 26th, Rt. Hon. Paul J. Martin on the 30th and CSL Laurentien on the 31st of March.

The Jade Star and Emerald Star are both loading in Quebec.

Alpena - Ben & Chanda McClain
The Steamer Alpena returned on Tuesday morning, after delivering to Cleveland. It tied up at Lafarge before 8:00 a.m. to take on cargo for Milwaukee. The Alpena was seen heading out onto the horizon after 3:00 p.m.

Sturgeon Bay - Wendell Wilke
Early Tuesday morning the Selvick tugs Jimmy L., Susan L., William C. Selvick, Sharon M. Selvick and Cameron O. moved the Edward L. Ryerson off the Joseph L. Block and at 9:00 a.m. the Block left lay up eastbound for Lake Michigan. She is due in Escanaba later this afternoon to load. Once she departed the Ryerson was again moved in place at the Sturgeon Bay East City Dock.


Golden Voice of WMI Lorain passes

The clear and powerful voice of Carl R. Boughton, heard from WMI Lorain, has fallen silent. Providing weather and ship to shore communications for decades, he has often been referred to as the "Golden Tones of WMI".

He slipped by at Elyria Memorial On March 7 2006 at about 13:10 and is survived by his wife and two step-children.

Reported by Jesse Lyman


Updates - March 8

News Photo Gallery updated.

Public Photo Gallery updated


Today in Great Lakes History - March 08

EUGENE P THOMAS (Hull#184) was launched March 8, 1930, at Toledo, Ohio by Toledo Shipbuilding Co., for the Pittsburgh Steamship Co.

March 8, 1910 - A fire from unknown causes destroyed the ANN ARBOR NO 1, of 1892. The hull was sold to Love Construction Co., of Muskegon, Michigan.

On 8 March 1882, the tug WINSLOW left Manistee to tow the NORTHERN QUEEN to Marine City for repairs. NORTHERN QUEEN had collided with LAKE ERIE the previous autumn and then sank while trying to enter Manistique harbor. Robert Holland purchased the wreck of NORTHERN QUEEN after that incident.

Data from: Joe Barr, Historical Collections of the Great Lakes, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series. This is a small sample, the books includes many other vessels with a much more detailed history.


Port Report - March 7

Toronto - Charlie Gibbons
Late Friday the Quebecois finished unloading her winter storage cargo of sugar at the Redpath dock, and she was returned to her lay-up berth at Pier 51 by the tugs Vigilant 1 and Progress. The next storage cargo to be unloaded is Algoville, which will begin as soon as the mill is ready to receive her cargo.

Sunday morning saw the return of Stephen B. Roman to port. It is rumored that she will lay over in port for a few days after she finishes unloading.

The tugs W. B. Indock and Ours Polaire came in late Friday night and stayed in port all weekend rafted to the tug Radium Yellowknife. The new breakwall project in Humber Bay is progressing so well, that the tug crews are no longer required to work weekends. Extension of the project (to create an Olympic length race course) is being decided by city council this week. Funding is the issue.


Today in Great Lakes History - March 07

The ALGOSOO suffered a serious fire at her winter mooring on the west wall above Lock 8, at Port Colborne, Ontario on March 7, 1986, when a conveyor belt ignited possibly caused by welding operations in the vicinity. The blaze spread to the stern gutting the aft accommodations.

TEXACO BRAVE was launched March 7, 1929, as a) JOHN IRWIN (Hull#145) at Haverton-Hill-on-Tees, United Kingdom by Furness Shipbuilding Co.

On 7 March 1874, the wooden tug JOHN OWEN (Hull#28) was launched at Wyandotte, Michigan by the Detroit Dry Dock Company for J. E. Owen of Detroit, Michigan.

On 7 March 1896, L C.WALDO (steel propeller freighter, 387 foot, 4,244 gross tons) was launched at W. Bay City, Michigan by F. W. Wheeler (Hull #112). She had a long career. She was rebuilt twice, once in the winter of 1904-05 and again in 1914, after she was stranded in the Storm of 1913. She was sold Canadian in 1915, and renamed b.) RIVERTON. In 1944, she was renamed c.) MOHAWK DEER. She lasted until November 1967, when she foundered in the Gulf of Genoa while being towed to the scrap yard at La Spezia, Italy.

ANN ARBOR NO 1 (wooden propeller carferry, 260 foot, 1,128 gross tons, built in 1892, at Toledo, Ohio) got caught in the ice four miles off Manitowoc, Wisconsin in February 1910. She remained trapped and then on 7 March 1910, she caught fire and burned. Although she was declared a total loss, her hull was reportedly sold to Love Construction Co., Muskegon, Michigan, and reduced to an unregistered sand scow.

Data from: Joe Barr, Dave Swayze, Father Dowling Collection, Historical Collections of the Great Lakes, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series. This is a small sample, the books includes many other vessels with a much more detailed history.


Oglebay Norton Announces Completion of Previously Announced Vessel Sale

3/6 - Cleveland - Oglebay Norton Marine Services Company announced that it completed the previously announced sale of the Reserve to Reserve Holdings LLC, an affiliate of K&K Warehousing, Inc. for $4 million. Proceeds from the sale will be used to retire debt.

The Company continues to evaluate potential transactions on the balance of its Great Lakes fleet.

Oglebay Norton News Release


Contract Awarded to Manitowoc Company

3/6 - Manitowoc, Wis.- The Manitowoc Company announced today that U.S. Shipping Partners, L.P. has awarded the Manitowoc Marine Group a contract for the construction of two 156,000-barrel, ocean-class, double-hull tank barges. The vessels will be built by its Bay Shipbuilding subsidiary located in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. The barges, which are scheduled for delivery in the third and fourth quarters of 2008, will measure 521 feet in length, 72 feet in width, and 41 feet in molded depth. The contract also includes options for two additional vessels. Other contract terms were not disclosed.

The U.S. Shipping contract represents the fifteenth and sixteenth OPA-90 compliant, double-hulled tank barges that have been ordered since 1999 from Manitowoc Marine Group. The total capacity of the 16 tank barges equates to approximately 2.0 million barrels.

"Our latest contract underscores the reputation that Bay Shipbuilding has built in the commercial shipbuilding industry," said Bob Herre, president of Manitowoc Marine Group, "and affirms our customers continued validation of our position in the shipbuilding marketplace as one of the premier providers of this important class of vessel for the OPA-90 Jones Act market."

The U.S. Shipping barges will be used for oil and chemical transport along the East Coast and will be ABS, Coast Guard, and OPA-90 compliant.


McKee Sons Begins Shuttles in Cleveland

3/6 - Late Sunday afternoon, the McKee Sons/Invincible departed her Cleveland lay-up dock and proceeded upriver to the Osborne dock. She was to begin shuttling iron ore, stockpiled at the Osborne Dock, up to the the steel mill (Mittal) on the Cuyahoga River. She is expected to make approximately 10 shuttle trips. The Sam Laud is expected to begin making shuttles trips from the Cleveland Bulk Terminal to the steel mill later this month.


Alder to Begin Icebreaking in Duluth Harbor

3/6 - The Coast Guard Cutter Alder will begin breaking ice in the Twin Ports on March 13. The plan is to reopen all main shipping channels downstream of the U.S. Highway 2 bridge, including the Duluth and Superior Harbor Basins and Entries, Superior Front Channel, East Gate Basin and St. Louis Bay.

The Coast Guard reminds all recreational ice uses to plan their activities carefully, use caution on the ice, and stay away from shipping channels.

From the Duluth News Tribune


Great Lakes Memorial Service & Blessing of the Fleet

3/6 - For the 42nd consecutive year, the Great Lakes Memorial Service and Blessing of the Fleet will be held in Mariners' Church of Detroit on Sunday, March 12, at 11:00 AM.

For the Commemoration of all Mariners who have lost their lives on the Great Lakes, and especially the Great Lakes personnel who died during 2005, only uniformed members of the International Shipmasters' Association, the military, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police will stand as the Honor Guard.

However, for the Blessing of the Fleet and Flags, everyone is invited to bring Burgees, Colors, Pennants, and Pennons for presentation and blessing at the Altar. Have a card, with your name and organization clearly printed, and hand it to the Captain who will make the announcement. Please plan to retrieve your flag immediately following the end of the service.

There will also be the Presentation of the Captain Lewis Ludington Awards to ISMA Ship Masters, chosen by the Detroit Lodge of the International Shipmasters' Association.

Parking is available in the Ford Underground Garage. The entrance to the garage is in the median strip of Jefferson at Woodward Ave. Passes for free parking are available at the church, and can be given to the attendant as you leave the garage.

Ship Masters and military personnel who plan to be in uniform and be part of the Honor Guard are asked to call the Church Office no later than March 8, to confirm your attendance at this service. 313-259-2206.


Point Edward Mariners Service

3/6 - The traditional Mariners Service was held Sunday at St. Paul's Anglican Church on Michigan Street in Point Edward. This traditional service is held on the first Sunday of March each year.

Participants in the service included members of the Honour Guard of the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary, the Assistant Commissioner of the Canadian Coast Guard, members of Canadian Power and Sail Squadrons and the local Sea Scout unit. Approximately 140 people attended the service filling the church.

Meanwhile repair work continues at the winter berths on several of the laid up vessels in preparation for spring fit-out.

Reported by Les Reading


Port Report - March 6

Buffalo - Brian Wroblewski
There is heavy lake ice off Buffalo extending to the horizon during early March. The Harbor is frozen over and there were signs that the Firetug Cotter had been out breaking ice. The Buffalo River had multiple tracks cut from the Michigan St. Bridge down to the Entrance Channel and also inside the Inner Harbor Turning Basin. The ice above Michigan St. and in the City Ship Canal seemed to be untouched at this time.


Updates - March 6

News Photo Gallery updated.

Public Photo Gallery updated


Today in Great Lakes History - March 06

EUGENE J BUFFINGTON (Hull#366) was launched March 6, 1909, at Lorain, Ohio by American Ship Building Co., for the Pittsburgh Steamship Co. She lasted until 1980, when she was towed to San Esteban de Pravia, Spain for scrapping.

At Noon on 6 March 1873, the steam railroad carferry SAGINAW was launched at the Port Huron Dry Dock Co. She did not get off the ways at first and had to be hauled off by the tug KATE MOFFAT. She was built for use between Port Huron and Sarnia.

On 6 March 1892, SAGINAW (wooden 4-car propeller carferry, 142 foot, 365 tons, built in 1873, at Port Huron, Michigan) burned at the dock in Windsor, Ontario where she had been laid up since 1884. The hull was later recovered and converted to an odd-looking tug, a well known wrecker in the Detroit River area until broken up about 1940.

Data from: Joe Barr, Dave Swayze, Father Dowling Collection, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series. This is a small sample, the books includes many other vessels with a much more detailed history.


Today in Great Lakes History - March 05

On 05 March 1997, the Canadian Coast Guard Cutter GRIFFON pulled the smashed remains of a 1996, Ford Bronco from the icy depths of the Straits of Mackinac. The Ford Bronco flipped off the Mackinac Bridge on 02 March 1997, and the driver was killed. The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter BISCAYNE BAY served as a platform for the M-Rover submersible craft used to locate the Bronco in 190 feet of water.

HARRY L ALLEN was launched March 5, 1910, as a.) JOHN B COWLE (Hull#379) at Lorain, Ohio by American Ship Building Co. She was declared a constructive total loss after a fire on January 21, 1978, at the Burlington Northern Dock #5, in Superior, Wisconsin, where she was laying for the winter, The ALLEN was scrapped at Duluth in 1978.

LEADALE was launched March 5, 1910, as a.) HARRY YATES (Hull#77) at St. Clair, Michigan by Great Lakes Engineering Works. Scrapped at Cartagena, Columbia in 1979.

March 5, 1932 - In distress with a broken steering gear off the Ludington harbor, S.S. VIRGINIA entered port under her own power.

On 05 March 1898, the WILLIAM R LINN (Hull#32) (steel propeller freighter, 400 foot, 4,328 gross tons) was launched at the Chicago Ship Building Company in South Chicago, Illinois. In 1940, she was sold, renamed b.) L S WESCOAT and converted to a tanker. She was scrapped in Germany in 1965.

Data from: Max Hanley, Mike Nicholls, Joe Barr, Father Dowling Collection, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series. This is a small sample, the books include many other vessels with a much more detailed history.


Blue Water Shipmasters Scholarship Deadline Approaching

3/4 - Captain James C. Acheson and the International Shipmasters’ Lodge #2 Port Huron, MI have established the Blue Water Shipmaster’s Fund to assist a Blue Water resident in furthering their education in the Deck or Engineering program at either the Great Lakes Maritime Academy or the Georgian College Marine Program. The scholarship will provide up to one $1,000 scholarship annually. The Blue Water Shipmasters’ Scholarship recipient will be announced no later than May 31st.

Selection Criteria:
1. Blue Water Resident (St. Clair County, Michigan or Lambton County, Ontario).
2. Candidates must be currently enrolled or accepted into the deck or engineering program at the Great Lakes Maritime  Academy, Traverse City, MI or the Georgian Marine Program, Owen Sound, Ontario.
3. Candidate must currently have a 2.0 grade point average for U.S. applicants; 65 or 2.5 (on 5.0 scale) for Canadian applicants.
4. Academic record, extra circular activities and job experience will be taken into account.

Application Information: Applications are available on-line at under "Scholarships", at either the GL Maritime Academy or Georgian College, and at the Great lakes Maritime Center, Vantage PT, Port Huron, MI.

To be considered, the following must be returned to the Community Foundation by March 15th.
1. Completed and signed 2006-2007 scholarship application (2 pages).
2. A narrative (no more than 2 pages) about yourself, academic achievements, educational goals, extra circular activities, job experience and any special circumstances you would like the selection committee to know.
3. A copy of your High School and College (if applicable) transcripts.
4. One (1) letter of recommendation.

Please staple above information together and do not place materials in a folder of any type.

Return applications to: Community Foundation of St. Clair County, 516 McMorran Blvd., Port Huron, MI 48060. For additional information: Phone: 810-984-4761, Fax: 810-984-3394 or Email: .


Coast Guard Issues "Final Regulations" on Licensing Requirements

3/4 - In a recent copy of the Federal Register, the Coast Guard issued interim final regulations that immediately require every licensed individual to report to a Regional Examination Center (REC), to be identified and fingerprinted on each renewal of their license.

The interim rule provides an opportunity to comment on this regulation until April 13, 2006. The document, including the January 13th Federal Register notice can be found: at this link

Mariners affected by these regulations are encouraged to comment on the proposed regulations by entering you comments at: Enter the docket # 17455 in the blank box under docket search.

Reported by Great Lakes Captains Association


Ryba Wins Locks Pier Repair Contract

3/4 - Sault Ste. Marie - A Cheboygan marine contractor was named winner of a $1.4 million contract award for repair of about 250 feet of the damaged West Center Pier at the Soo Locks, the Corps of Engineers announced. Ryba Marine Construction Co. of Cheboygan will reportedly begin work on the damaged pier in May with completion expected by November.

The damaged portion of the West Center Pier was discovered last fall, when a separation occurred between the thick concrete “monolith” that caps the pier and underlying fill materials. A number of mooring bollards along the cap were also reportedly damaged over time. Routinely used to moor and warp vessels in the western approach canal leading to the Poe and MacArthur Locks, the damaged section of pier was declared unusable shortly after the separation occurred.

Inbound ships and crews were instructed not to land on the 250-foot section of pier to avoid possible injury and further damage to the pier while the Corps set about inspection, design and eventually repair of the damaged pier. The damaged section runs from the vicinity of the Canadian National Railroad Bridge where it crosses the Locks' South Canal and extends to the west from there. An adjacent 300-foot section of the same pier was overhauled and rebuilt in 2002. The long pier is lined with reinforced iron bollards used to moor ships as they approach the two navigation locks.

An engineering inspection of the damaged 250-foot pier section indicated voids in ledge rock adjacent to the steel and timber pier wall as well as voids beneath the pier cap, allowing for excessive movement of the massive concrete cap. Heavy oaken timbers line the damaged pier wall to allow ships to slide along the piers as they slowly approach the two Locks.

The contract with Ryba includes removal of bedrock ledges and channel bottom rock containing the voids and placement of grout bags within the voids. Also included is placement of a new sheet piling pier wall adjacent to existing concrete monoliths and pouring of concrete fill between the two underlying monolith walls and removal and replacement of fender timbers along the damaged section of pier wall. Ryba will also strengthen the iron mooring bollards set into the concrete pier cap and remove and replace a portion of the concrete cap itself.

The work will not materially interfere with shipping during the upcoming shipping season, a Corps statement says. During the lengthy repair project, Ryba crews and vessels working alongside the pier will make way for ships entering and leaving the two locks downstream of the pier section.

Reported from the Soo Evening News


Port Report - March 4

Alpena - Ben & Chanda McClain
A sign of spring, the Steamer Alpena left lay-up in Cleveland to start another shipping season. The Alpena arrived at its namesake port at 11:00 p.m. on Friday to load cement, and was expected to depart early Saturday morning.

The bay is clear for navigation, with some ice mainly along the shore and in the river.


Updates - March 4

News Photo Gallery updated.

Public Photo Gallery updated


Today in Great Lakes History - March 04

On 04 March 1944, the U.S.C.G.C. MACKINAW (WAGB-83) was launched by the Toledo Ship Building Company (Hull #188) at Toledo, Ohio. Her name was originally planned to be MANITOWOC.

CECILIA DESGAGNES, a.) CARL GORTHON, departed Sorel, Quebec on March 4, 1985, bound for Baie Comeau, Quebec on her first trip in Desgagnes colors.

March 4, 1904 - William H. LeFleur of the Pere Marquette car ferries was promoted to captain at the age of 34. He was the youngest carferry captain on the Great Lakes.

On 4 March 1858, TRENTON (wooden propeller, 134 foot, 240 gross tons, built in 1854, at Montreal, Quebec) burned to a total loss while tied to the mill wharf at Picton, Ontario in Lake Ontario. The fire was probably caused by the carpenters who were renovating her.

On 4 March 1889, TRANSIT (wooden 10-car propeller carferry, 168 foot, 1,058 gross tons, built in 1872, at Walkerville, Ontario) burned at the Grand Trunk Railroad dock at Windsor, Ontario on the Detroit River. She had been laid up since 1884, and the Grand Trunk Railroad had been trying to sell her for some time.

On 4 March 1871, FLORENCE (iron steamer, 42.5 foot, built in 1869, at Baltimore, Maryland) burned while docked at Amherstburg, Ontario at about 12:00 p.m.. The fire was hot enough to destroy all the cabins and melt the surrounding ice in the Detroit River, but the vessel remained afloat and her engines were intact. She was rebuilt and remained in service until 1922 when she was scrapped.

Data from: Max Hanley, Joe Barr, Dave Swayze, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series.  This is a small sample, the books includes many other vessels with a much more detailed history.


Port Weller Dry Dock gets $45-Million Order

3/3 - Port Weller Dry Docks will build three new ships for the European market under a $45-million contract. The agreement is a follow up order to a deal struck in October between the St. Catharines shipyard’s parent company, Canadian Shipbuilding and Engineering, and Peters Kampen Shipyards of the Netherlands.

The order will keep 250 shipbuilders busy in Port Weller for nearly two years, said Alan Thoms, president and chief executive officer of CSE. “It’s good news. It’s an extension of the program virtually until the end of 2007,” he said Wednesday.

Last October, CSE struck a strategic alliance with the Dutch shipyard, announcing an initial contract to build two hulls and two complete short-sea vessels. Carisbrooke Shipping of the United Kingdom, which ordered the ships, had options in the contract to order up to four more complete vessels. Thoms said the latest deal is the result of the U.K. company exercising options for three vessels.

The company has until the end of June to exercise its final option for a sixth ship, he said. The total value of all the work is pegged at approximately $100 million. Thoms said the deal was predicated on an incentive program previously offered by the federal government. The program offered foreign shipyards up to 15 per cent financing toward the purchase of Canadian-made vessels.

“That program has run out of money and needs to be extended,” said Thoms. Should the newly elected federal Conservative government reinstate the program, Thoms predicted Canadian shipbuilders will get more orders. “If that happens soon, there will be more contracts of this size and probably for this exact same ship,” he said. “It’s an exciting time. We just hope we can pull it off.”

The ships to be built in St. Catharines were engineered by Peters Kampen. The vessel is a multi-purpose design used widely throughout Europe to run cargo over short distances. Aldert van Nieuwkoop, director of business development for the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp., helped forge the alliance between CSE and Peters Kampen. “For the Seaway, it’s very exciting to see Port Weller Dry Docks be in a world competitive market and build short-sea shipping vessels,” said van Nieuwkoop.

Reported by Bill Bird from the St. Catharines Standard


Port Report - March 3

Toronto - Charlie Gibbons
The Stephen B. Roman arrived in port at 11:00 a.m. Thursday to become the first arrival of the 2006 season. The Roman departed her brief winter lay-up on February 16th and has since then been running between Picton, Ontario and Rochester and Oswego, N.Y.

Unloading of Quebecois at the Redpath Sugar dock continued Thursday. It is expected that she will be turned late Thursday or early Friday so that her aft holds can be unloaded.

St. Clair River - Frank Frisk
Alpena was up bound at St. Clair Crib at 8:00 a.m. and should be passing Vantage Point around noon.

Milwaukee - Paul Erspamer
Cement barge Integrity and its tug G.L. Ostrander were back at the LaFarge terminal at Jones Island in Milwaukee's inner harbor on Thursday, having returned to lay-up status with numerous lines out and anchor down. The pair had left the port and returned to service for a period beginning February 12. Integrity is at the wall, located between JAW Iglehart and Mesabi Miner.


Today in Great Lakes History - March 03

The keel was laid on March 3, 1980, for the COLUMBIA STAR (Hull#726) at Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin by Bay Shipbuilding Corp.

At midnight on 3 March 1880, DAVID SCOVILLE (wooden propeller steam tug/ferry, 42 foot, 37 gross tons, built in 1875, at Marine City, Michigan) burned at the Grand Trunk Railway wharf at Sarnia, Ontario. Arson was suspected. No lives were lost.

Data from: Joe Barr, Dave Swayze, Steve Haverty, Father Dowling Collection, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series. This is a small sample, the books includes many other vessels with a much more detailed history.


Official Worried about Shipping Industry

3/2 - With 4 million tons of freight carried on the Saginaw River each year, the owner of a dock company says the river needs to be sustained as an economic resource for the area at a time when the federal government says the larger Great Lakes system is dying. Bill Webber, president and owner of Sargent Docks & Terminal Co., outlined the benefits and challenges of the waterway to the Tri-County Economics Club Monday. His company, which owns three docks on the Saginaw River, distributes bulk materials such as road salt, fertilizer and limestone to companies. He said the freight shipped on the river equals 106,000 truckloads a year, and that saves wear and tear on roads and saves fuel that otherwise would be consumed by trucks. The cost of running one vessel is the same as operating eight semi tractor trailers, but a ship will hold the equivalent of 400 truckloads.

Because average Great Lakes shipments have decreased over the past five years, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has determined the system is dying. That means the amount of federal money for important projects is on the decline. Webber is working to form a Great Lakes Port Association to bring attention to the waterways and their problems. If that happens, "We'll have a voice in D.C., we'll have a voice in Ottawa" and in the eight Great Lakes states. He hopes the region can push for legislative funding outside the civil engineering budget, which takes the Corps of Engineers' formula into account. "I wish I could stand here and tell you that I had a vision of the Saginaw River being the next major world port," he said. But that's not the case.

Plans call for dredging the shipping channel an average of 18 inches deeper, removing silt that otherwise would make the channel unusable in three or four years. But first, a site heavily lined with clay must be prepared to take the silt because of contamination issues. Work on the site could start in May, but a lawsuit could slow the project down. "If we're lucky, we'll be dredging this fall," he said. "But more than likely ... we may be a year out" because of the suit.

Webber believes the river's economic future lies in shipping grain, fertilizer and pre-cast beams for large buildings. Companies that would ship these products would avoid busy highway systems that reach popular destinations such as Chicago. A port association could put a procedure in place to weigh the economic impact of losing dock facilities that handle freight, making it harder for communities to use eminent-domain laws to get rid of docks and redevelop the land. "Sometimes these aggregate docks aren't the prettiest things in the world," he said. "But we need industry to have jobs and to sustain jobs."

From the Midland Daily News


Updates - March 2

News Photo Gallery updated.

Public Photo Gallery updated


Today in Great Lakes History - March 02

On 02 March 1889, the U.S. Congress passed two Acts for establishment of a light station at Old Mackinac Point and appropriated $5,500 for construction of a fog signal building. The following year, funds were appropriated for the construction of the light tower and dwelling.

March 2, 1938 - Harold Lillie, crewmember of the ANN ARBOR NO 6, stepped onto the apron as the carferry was approaching and fell into the water and suffered a broken neck.

March 2, 1998, a fire broke out on the ALGOSOO causing serious damage to the self unloading belts and other nearby equipment. Almost 12 years earlier in 1986, a similar fire gutted the aft cabins.

On 02 March 1893, the MARY E MC LACHLAN (3-mast wooden schooner, 251 foot, 1,394 gross tons) was launched at F. W. Wheeler’s yard in West Bay City, Michigan as (Hull#96). The launch turned into a disaster when the huge wave generated by the vessel entering the water hit the freighter KITTIE FORBES (wooden propeller bulk freighter, 209 foot, 968 gross tons, built in 1883, at W. Bay City, Michigan). The FORBES had numerous spectators onboard and when the wave struck, many were injured and there was one confirmed death.

Data from: Max Hanley Joe Barr, Dave Swayze, and Steve Haverty


AK Steel Locks Out Workers
Negotiations on new contract fail; talks may resume today

3/1 - Middletown - AK Steel officials locked out union workers Tuesday night after negotiators failed to agree on a new contract for the plant's 2,700 hourly workers. Company spokesman Alan McCoy said the plant would continue operating with management and replacement workers.

Armco Employees Independent Federation President Brian Daley said talks would continue, possibly as early as today. Daley returned to the union hall about 12:15 a.m. and delivered the news to several hundred shouting, chanting workers. He said the union offered to continue working under the old contract, but AK officials refused. "It's been a long week," Daley said. He cautioned the workers to "watch your behavior, and be proud of who you are."

It's the first work stoppage at the plant since 1986, when workers were locked out for several days after talks broke down. Negotiators for the company and the AEIF met several times Tuesday, but as the midnight deadline grew closer, members of the union milling outside the union hall on Crawford Street seemed resigned to at least a brief work stoppage. "I don't know how long it's going to last. Hopefully, only a few days,'' Ray Salley, 60, of Springboro said.

 Signs of the impending work stoppage were abundant, workers said. The company placed orange plastic storm fences around plant entrances to define its property, and union members said only about a tenth of the almost 800 hourly workers on the 2-10 p.m. shift were called into work Tuesday. A coating-line operator, who declined to give his name, said he was the only one of about 14 hourly workers usually on the Tuesday evening shift. The rest of his unit was staffed by managers, he said from inside the plant.

AK's management says it needs greater cost-sharing and greater flexibility in the mill to sustain profitability in the competitive global steel market. Analysts have estimated that AK has as much as a $50-a-ton cost disadvantage to its rivals. "It's a sad day when it comes to this," Terry Schwing, Middletown, a 33-year employee, said.


Rand Shareholders Approve Acquisition of Lower Lakes Towing

3/1 - Rand Acquisition Corporation, a specified purpose acquisition company, announced today that Rand shareholders approved the acquisition of privately-held Lower Lakes Towing Ltd. and Grand River Navigation Company, Inc. The vote to approve the acquisition took place today at Rand's special meeting of shareholders. The acquisition is expected to close within one week. Upon completion of the acquisition, Rand will change its name to Rand Logistics Inc.

Under the terms of the acquisition, Rand will purchase all of the stock of Lower Lakes Towing and Grand River for $53.73 million less indebtedness to be refinanced at closing of the acquisition, subject to adjustment. The transaction is being financed through a combination of cash on hand, the private placement of $15.0 million of Rand's newly-created Series A Convertible Preferred Stock and $22.5 million of senior debt financing from an institutional lender. Upon completion of the acquisition, Rand intends to apply to list its common stock, warrants and units of common stock/warrants on The Nasdaq Stock Market.

Laurence S. Levy, Chairman and CEO of Rand, stated, "We are extremely pleased that our shareholders have overwhelmingly approved the acquisition, which we look forward to promptly completing. I believe we are creating a public company with compelling investment characteristics, including a 30% share of the niche Great Lakes River Class bulk freight market, substantial regulatory and asset-oriented barriers to entry, long-standing relationships with an attractive, diversified base of customers, and a well maintained fleet. I look forward to working closely with the skilled management team and Board to continue to grow the Company."

About the Companies:
Rand, which was organized to effect a business combination with an operating business, consummated its initial public offering on October 27, 2004 through the sale of 4.6 million units at $6.00 per unit. Each unit was comprised of one share of Rand common stock and two common stock purchase warrants.

Based in Port Dover, Ontario, Lower Lakes Towing, together with its wholly-owned U.S. subsidiary Lower Lakes Transportation Company, is a leading provider of bulk freight shipping services throughout the Great Lakes region. Grand River charters four U.S. flag vessels to Lower Lakes Transportation under long-term time charters. The companies, which began operations in 1994, operate a fleet of seven River Class self-unloading carriers and one integrated self-unloading tug/barge unit representing more than one-third of all River Class vessels servicing the Great Lakes. The companies are the only carriers able to offer significant domestic port-to-port services in both Canada and the U.S. on the Great Lakes. Grand River's vessels operate under the U.S. Jones Act, which dictates that only ships that are built, crewed and owned by U.S. citizens can operate between U.S. ports. Lower Lakes' vessels operate under the auspices of the Canada Marine Act, which requires Canadian commissioned ships to operate between Canadian ports.


How They Moved a 618-foot Boat

3/1 - Cleveland - On September 24, 2005, the Steamship William G. Mather Museum embarked on an historic journey. The Museum ship moved to its new, permanent location at the Port of Cleveland’s Dock 32. This relocation was one part of a long-range plan to redevelop Cleveland’s waterfront and North Coast Harbor.

On Wednesday, March 8th at 7:00 pm, Mather volunteers Ed and Ken Gerber will describe the planning and preparation that helped make the voyage a success. Come listen to them speak about working with the City, preparing the vessel, and planning the move down to the last detail, while enjoying photos of the relocation. There will be opportunity to meet volunteer crew and staff and discuss the relocation.

The program will take place at the Cleveland Metroparks Canal Way Center, 4524 East 49th Street, Cuyahoga Heights, Ohio 44125. Please contact the Museum for directions to the Center and information on future programs. For additional information - Telephone: (216) 574-9053, Fax: (216) 574-2536 or E-mail:


Port Reports - March 1

Ludington - Mark Mather
The ATB Undaunted and Pere Marquette 41 left their winter moorings and shifted to the Laman dock for fit out. Northwest winds had driven heavy pancake ice into the harbor, and the Undaunted was forced to break up the lake before she could move the barge to the dock.

South Chicago -
The Steamer St. Marys Challenger will begin fitting out for her 101st season of operation when the engine crew reports on March 20th. A later fit-out date had been planned, but crews are being called back earlier than expected. The Challenger was built in 1906 as the first ship in the Shenango Furnace Co. fleet with the name William P. Snyder. After a couple of name changes and ownership changes, she was bought by Medusa Portland Cement in 1966 and converted to a self unloading cement carrier. After an uncertain few seasons with a variety of takeovers by other cement companies, the Challenger will indeed sail as a powered steamer in her centennial year under the flag of Hannah Ship Management Co, carrying cement for St. Mary's Cement.


Potential Maritime Museum in Tawas City, MI

3/1 - Tawas City — Iosco County Board of Commissioners was asked on January 25, to take on the Gateway Park and Visitors Center project, preferably through the establishment of an authority. Tom Ferguson, executive director of Michigan Sunrise Side Travel Association and chair of the Sunrise Side Coastal Highway group; John Meyer, an architect with Wigen, Tincknell, Meyer and Associates; Tawas City Mayor Ed Nagy, and Commissioner John Moehring, who is chairman of
the Iosco County Heritage Route Committee, brought the request to the board table.

Gateway is the name given to plans which have evolved over the past 18 months from efforts to save the Tawas City Greystone building, the stone structure which formerly served as the Tawas City Hall. “There has been an exciting evolution in the process to save and restore the building, to one which makes it a point of interest and possible destination point,” said Meyer, the architect who has been working with the steering committee. The concept, as outlined by the men, would restore the Greystone Building and connect it to a new structure via a gangway.

Gangway is appropriate as the new building would be a 9,000 square foot replica of the bow of the Edmund Fitzgerald, the freighter which was immortalized by song after sinking in Lake Superior in 1975 with all hands aboard. As envisioned, the multi-level structure would house maritime displays focusing on Great Lakes shipping, making it a potential tourist destination. There would be an observation deck overlooking the bay and the grounds would be used for parking, interpretative displays, recreational equipment for children and, possibly, even an ore tram, complete with gondolas. Cost is estimated at less than $2 million, a figure which also includes some exhibits, according to the men.

According to Nagy, such a project would have regional significance and also provide something of which there are not many along the route — rest stops. Ferguson pointed out that Lumberman’s Monument draws more than 100,000 visitors each year, with the marine sanctuary in Alpena expecting similar numbers. “This gives us an opportunity to short stop some of those folks,” he said.

The steering committee is looking at a variety of methods and partners for financing of such an effort, including grants. One possibility would be to follow the path used by Arenac County in the renovation of a depot, with all townships and cities asked to donate 50 cents per resident, Ferguson said. The steering committee is looking for a governmental division to take
on the project, ideally through the creation of an authority to help build, then operate and maintain the center. Commission Chairman Robert Cudney asked about putting this under the auspices of the county parks and recreation commission, as opposed to establishing a new entity.

“I think this is a good idea,” Commissioner Clyde Soucie said, “But before we can establish an authority, we need information on our legal ramifications.” Commissioners say they will entertain the request at a future meeting. The Tawas City Council and Iosco County Parks and Recreation Commission have already passed resolutions supporting the project.


Artifacts Tell Sad Tales of Civil War Prison Camp

3/1- Sandusky, OH - Many people have the mistaken impression that archaeologists study only lost civilizations or ancient prehistoric cultures. In fact, archaeological excavations of historic sites and even modern landfills yield valuable insights on historic events and morecurrent affairs.

David Bush, an archaeologist with Heidelberg College’s Center for Historic and Military Archaeology, has been directing excavations at the Civil War prison camp at Johnson’s Island in Lake Erie since 1990. His work has added a unique perspective to our understanding of the lives of the Confederate officers imprisoned there. Bush and his team first identified a ditch that was dug around the prison compound in 1864 to discourage prisoners from trying to tunnel their way to freedom.

The researchers then set out to locate the camp’s latrines. Latrines, or sinks as they were called, were rectangular pits 8 feet wide by 12 feet long and 2 to 5 feet deep. The sinks proved to be remarkable time capsules containing objects dropped accidentally or deliberately into the sewage. Understandably, even valuable objects were left. For example, the excavators found a gold locket containing a badly deteriorated photograph and a lock of hair.

Bush also uncovered dramatic evidence of the desperation of the prisoners to escape. In almost all of the sinks that were older than the 1864 ditch, he found evidence of tunnels extending from the sinks toward the stockade wall. At least 10 prisoners are known to have escaped, but whether any of these tunnels provided the means is not known.

The Johnson’s Island site is a National Historic Landmark, but that recognition does not guarantee that it will be saved for posterity. In an interview posted recently on Archaeology online, Bush pointed out that, although Civil War battlefields are considered for financial support by the Civil War Preservation Trust, prison sites are not.

The Friends and Descendants of Johnson’s Island Civil War Prison is a nonprofit group formed to raise funds for saving as much of the site as possible. Bush’s work at Johnson’s Island will continue this summer. Archaeology online features Bush’s excavations as an "interactive dig" at  A recent interview with Bush is posted there as well. For more information, go to . Bradley T. Lepper is curator of archaeology at the Ohio Historical Society


Updates - March 1

News Photo Gallery updated.

Public Photo Gallery updated


Today in Great Lakes History - March 01

The m/v HENRY FORD II (Hull#788) was launched on March 1, 1924, at Lorain, Ohio by American Ship Building Co. She served as flagship of the Ford Motor Company fleet for many years and was eventually sold to Interlake Steamship Company when Ford sold its Great Lakes Fleet division. It was renamed b.) SAMUEL MATHER, but never sailed under that name. It was scrapped in 1994, at Port Maitland, Ontario by Marine Recycling & Salvage Ltd., .

On 1 March 1881, the steamship JOHN B LYON was launched at Cleveland, Ohio by Thomas Quayle & Son for Capt. Frank Perew. She was a four mast, double-decker with the following dimensions: 255 foot keel, 275 feet overall, 38 foot beam, and 20 foot depth.

On 01 March 1884, the I N FOSTER (wooden schooner, 134 foot, 319 gross tons, built in 1872, at Port Huron, Michigan) was sold by Clark I. Boots to E. Chilson. This vessel lasted until 1927, when she was abandoned in Buffalo, New York.

Data from: Joe Barr, Steve Haverty, Father Dowling Collection, Historical Collections of the Great Lakes, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series. This is a small sample, the books includes many other vessels with a much more detailed history.


News Archive - August 1996 to present

Return to Great Lakes & Seaway Shipping

Comments, news, and suggestions to:

Copyright 1996 - 2004 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