Great Lakes & Seaway Shipping News Archive

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American Republic Arrives for Repairs

3/31 - The American Republic arrived off Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin Sunday afternoon and turned to back into Bayship Building for repairs. The Cason J. Callaway continued on its trip to Gary, Indiana where she will unload. Sunday evening the Republic reached Bayship escorted by two tugs.


Sabrina report

3/31 - Efforts continue to free the container ship MSC Sabrina, which has been hard aground in the St. Lawrence River since March 8.

Local reports indicate that nearly 400 containers had been removed from the ship by Sunday morning. It was hoped that lightening the vessel's load, combined with high tide later in the day and the efforts five tugs would be enough to float the vessel off the mud bank.

The containers were offloaded onto another vessel, the MSC Jasmine, which will take them to Montreal to be offloaded by shore cranes. Montreal was the Panamanian flagged MSC Sabrina's destination when she struck bottom near Trois-Rivières, Que., in a snowstorm.

Among the tugs on site are the Ocean Bravo and Ocean Henry Bain.  Early efforts to move the vessel with five tugs and an icebreaker failed.

The vessel did not block the busy waterway and no pollution occurred. No one was injured in the grounding. Once free, the MSC Sabrina will be subject to an inspection of her hull before proceeding to Montreal.

MSC Sabrina was built in South Korea in 1989 and registered in Panama. It is managed by Mediterranean Shipping Company S.A. Her voyage to Canada originated in France.

Reported by Kent Malo


Ice hampers upbound traffic at the Soo

3/31 - Vessels continued to struggle with ice Saturday and Sunday in the St. Mary's River. Although traffic was moving without problems above the locks, two spots in the lower river are causing trouble for up bounders.

On Saturday, the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Biscayne Bay worked to free the CSL Tadoussac, beset by ice in the east Neebish channel near Johnson¹s Point. She was followed by the Mesabi Miner, Arthur M. Anderson, Burns Harbor and Herbert C. Jackson, all of which made it to the locks by dusk after fighting ice most of the day. Downbound traffic, which passed without incident through the west Neebish channel, included the Canadian Transfer. Also on Saturday, the tug Missouri towed the disabled American Mariner to the Carbide Dock in Sault harbor, where she will undergo repairs to her steering hydraulics.

Sunday's situation was not much improved. The Indiana Harbor was having a rough go of it in the east Neebish area, with the Biscayne Bay assisting. She was finally freed around 12:30 p.m. Five vessels were behind her including the Rt. Hon. Paul J. Martin and Yankcanuck. The downbound Stewart J. Cort was also having difficulty in the Mud Lake area, and the St. Clair, which locked down at noon, was instructed to heave to in the ice near Six Mile Point and wait for the upbound traffic to clear. The downbound H. Lee White was also delayed.

The USCG Mackinaw has been keeping shipping lanes open above the locks.

As of late Sunday afternoon, all upbound traffic was moving. Following behind the Indiana Harbor were Yankcanuck, Sam Laud, American Spirit, Rt. Hon Paul J. Martin and Edwin H. Gott. The Lee A. Tregurtha and Canadian Transport had also entered the lower river and were working their way up. The cutter Biscayne Bay was assisting the downbound Stewart J. Cort below the West Neebish cut.

Traffic above the locks at dinnertime included the American Integrity, Kaye E. Barker and Canadian Leader. Late Sunday night the upbound traffic created a back up of downbound traffic. At midnight The American Integrity, Kaye E. Barker, Joe Thompson, Canadian Leader and Manitowoc were waiting for downbound passage through the locks.


Port Reports - March 31

Sturgeon Bay - Wendell Wilke
As of noon Sunday, the remaining Winter Fleet at Bayship Shipbuilding Co., in Sturgeon Bay was the tug James A. Hannah and barge Hannah 5101, Wilfred Sykes, John J. Boland and the new Kaministiqua in dry dock.

Hamilton - Eric Holmes
Saturday the Algosoo departing at 6 a.m. heading to Sandusky. The CSL Laurentian anchored off the Burlington Piers at 10 a.m. to wait for the Hamilton Energy who arrived at 11 a.m. to bunker the Laurentian. The Pineglen also anchored off the Burlington piers at 2 p.m. for bunkering.
The Laurentian departed at 2:30 p.m. and the Pineglen departed at 4:30 p.m. both heading down the lake. The Hamilton Energy then departed for Clarkson. The Algonorth departed at 6 p.m. for Thunder Bay. The Hamilton Energy arrived back in port at 9 p.m.
Sunday, the Birchglen arrived at 5 a.m. going to Pier 12 with gypsum from Point Tupper.
The Hamilton Energy departed at 7:30 a.m. The Quebecois arrived at 12 noon with iron ore pellets for Dofasco.

Welland Canal - John McCreery and Bill Bird
The Edward L. Ryerson made good time from Vantage Point to the Port Colborne Piers arriving in just over 23 hours, apparently slowed down a little by ice east of Long Point. Her progress was brought to a complete standstill in Lock 8, where she was held up for over 4 hours due to inspection and customs. This dashed any hopes for a daylight arrival at Hamilton, which was highly unlikely anyway, as this boat is no speedster in the canal. Montrealais left Seaway Marine (Port Weller Dry Dock) after spending the winter there.

Toronto - Frank Hood
English River has departed Toronto after winter lay up, late Friday or early Saturday.
Atlantic Huron was anchored in the middle of the inner Toronto Harbour at 2:30 p.m. Sunday.

Marquette - Rod Burdick
The Calumet was back at the ore dock loading taconite Sunday afternoon at the Upper Harbor.

Grand Haven - Joe Taylor
The tug Undaunted and barge PM 41 were backing out of Grand Haven Saturday at 3 p.m.

Toledo- Jim Hoffman
Cuyahoga arrived at the CSX Coal Docks on Sunday to load coal during the mid morning. The Canadian Provider arrived at the Anderson's "E" Elevator after a slow voyage upriver due to bridge delays and strong river currents. She will be in port for several days loading grain.
American Fortitude, American Valor, and Buffalo still remain in Toledo and are in various stages of fitting out.
Canadian Transfer is due in port to unload potash. 
The next scheduled vessels due into the CSX Coal Docks will be the Philip R. Clarke and H. Lee White on Tuesday, the Kaye E. Barker and Canadian Transport on Saturday, followed by the tug Salvor and barge on Sunday.
Ore boats expected into the Torco Ore Dock include the tug Dorothy Ann and barge Pathfinder, CSL Assiniboine, and John J. Boland on Saturday, followed by the Algosteel and CSL Niagara on Sunday. Vessels scheduled in may be delayed or changed due to weather, ice conditions, or dock delays.


Updates - March 31

News Photo Gallery updated

Public Photo Gallery updated


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 W. Bay City, Michigan by F. W. Wheeler (Hull #67). In 1900, her nam 31 March 1890, EDWARD SMITH (wooden propeller, 201 foot, 748 gross tons) was launched ate 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.


Ice causes accident between Callaway and American Republic
Traffic picks up in the Straits

3/30 - Update 3 p.m. - The American Republic arrived off Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin Sunday afternoon and turned to back into Bayship Building for repairs. The Cason J. Callaway continued on its trip to Gary, Indiana where she will unload.

Saturday morning both vessels had moved. The American Republic turned around and headed west to Sturgeon Bay WI for repairs, accompanied by the Coast Guard Katmai Bay.

The east bound John G. Munson and the westbound Burns Harbor, slowly maneuvered past each other and went on their way slowly through the ice. They were followed by the Herbert Jackson headed east behind them and are passing the westbound Speer in the Straits.


Port Reports - March 30

Sturgeon Bay - Scott Best
The newly renamed Kaministiqua is now almost fully painted up in her new colors in the Graving Dock at Bay Ship Building. Only a little bit of painting on her stern and stack remain. The ship yard that was full of laid up lakers last weekend is nearly empty now, with just the Kaministiqua, Wilfred Sykes and John J Boland remaining. Selvick tugs moved the Boland to the steel face dock Saturday and then returned to the tug dock.
The Mobile Bay was also tied up in port.

Grand Haven - Dick Fox
The tug Undaunted and barge Pere Marquette 41 came to Verplank’s dock in Ferrysburg on Wednesday and again early Saturday morning. At 8 a.m. on Saturday morning it was unloading some fairly large rocks with its clam shell crane. It was gone by mid afternoon. Its first visit coincided to the day with the first vessel last year.

Marquette - Rod Burdick
Saturday evening at sunset, St. Clair arrived off the Upper Harbor and began to back toward the ore dock. After reaching the dock and stopping briefly, she pulled away and left the Upper Harbor. It appeared a crew member was taken aboard.


Port eyes shipping expansion

3/30 - Cleveland - It's been a long time since Ohio manufacturers could export consumer goods using the Port of Cleveland, which today is almost exclusively used for ships bringing in raw materials.

But Adam Wasserman, president of the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority, is trying to stir up enough interest among the region's companies to change that.

The port could begin container shipping this year, he said, giving area businesses a new option for moving their products to Europe, India, Southeast Asia and other eastern destinations. Containers are 20- to 40-foot long boxes, usually filled with finished products, that can easily be moved from a ship to a truck or stacked on a rail car. The great majority of Ohio-built products exported overseas must now travel by rail or truck to an East or West Coast port.

But congestion has been a growing problem and it's not uncommon for shipments to be stuck dockside for days, Wasserman said.

Global trade through western U.S. ports is growing by double digits every year. As a result, many Asian countries once headed for California are now shipping through the Suez Canal to the East Coast, and that is increasing traffic at ports Ohio companies typically use. "Container traffic around the world has doubled in the last 10 years, but the infrastructure to handle that traffic hasn't changed much at all," Wasserman said.

According to Wikipedia, about 90 percent of nonbulk cargo worldwide moves by containers stacked on ships.

The Port of Cleveland has not been an option because huge ocean-going vessels don't fit in the St. Lawrence Seaway, the body of water that connects Lake Erie to the Atlantic Ocean. The seaway "was built for the state-of-the-art ship, but over the last 50 years, the state-of-the-art ship has grown 13 times," Wasserman said. "We can't participate in that ocean-going trade except for a new strategy."

The port still serves the region's old primary industries, hosting smaller ships that carry steel, iron ore and other bulk material used by area manufacturers. Last year, for the first time in several years, the port began shipping steel out because the weak U.S. dollar made the product more attractive to overseas customers. But the port can do even more through a strategy called "short sea shipping."

The deep-water Canadian port of Halifax, Nova Scotia — or any of a number of new ports proposed at the mouth of the St. Lawrence Seaway — would serve as a hub between the ocean and the Great Lakes. Containers of consumer goods or finished materials could be transferred to and from the hub using smaller ships.
"It's an alternative that doesn't exist today," said Christopher Burnham, president of the Summit County Port Authority, who has partnered with Cleveland to stimulate interest among area companies.

Cleveland and Toledo are uniquely positioned to be spokes on such a hub system because they are as far as a ship can get into the United States without beginning a time-consuming loop up and around the Michigan peninsula to reach other Great Lakes ports. Toledo would be an attractive destination for companies to the west, while Cleveland hopes to become the port of choice for Ohio and western Pennsylvania, Wasserman said.

While trade between China and other Pacific Rim countries would still be more efficiently handled by West Coast ports, Wasserman sees many benefits to exporting eastbound products out of Cleveland. It would be less expensive, eliminating the need for cross-country rail or truck transportation. It's environmentally friendly, he said, saving on fuel.

And companies could guarantee customers an arrival date by bypassing potential truck, rail and coastal port delays. "When you can't guarantee time of delivery, that's death," Wasserman said. But once you're on the water, "there are no stop signs."

Wasserman gave an example of a recent ship that demonstrated all of those benefits. A couple of weeks ago, a barge brought in a load of steel coils from Canada. It would have taken 200 trucks to deliver those coils by land to Ohio.

By staying on water, distribution costs dropped by about a third, he said. "Keeping it on water is right for our region because it helps us be competitive," he said. Wasserman said he'd like to see the Port of Cleveland shipping 100,000 containers a year.

The port would have to make an investment for such a system to begin. For one, it might help finance a new ship service between Europe and Halifax. A test ship coming next month from Barcelona, Spain, will carry hundreds of containers down the St. Lawrence Seaway to ports yet to be determined. If container shipping to Ohio proves successful, there could be even more benefits to the region.

Some have suggested that North Coast communities could be called on to build container ships.

And Ron DeBarr, president of the Northeast Ohio Trade and Economic Consortium (NEOTEC) based in Kent, said a more active port could attract new businesses here. Studies have shown that when companies consider expanding or relocating, transportation/distribution is the No. 1 or No. 2 factor in choosing a location, he said.

From The Akron Beacon-Journal


Updates - March 30

News Photo Gallery updated and more News Photo Gallery updated


Today in Great Lakes History - March 30

The tanker CHEMICAL MAR arrived at Brownsville, Texas on March 30, 1983, in tow of the tug FORT LIBERTE to be scrapped. 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 she was sold by Hall and was 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.


Ice causes accident between Callaway and American Republic

3/29 - Straits of Mackinac - Saturday Update - Saturday morning the vessels were not in the same location, it appears the American Republic turned around and headed west to Sturgeon Bay for repairs accompanied by the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Katmai Bay. The  east bound John G. Munson and Burns Harbor passed the Republic, they slowly maneuvered past each other and went on their way slowly through the ice. They were followed by the Herbert C. Jackson headed east behind them and passed the westbound  Edgar B. Speer in the Straits.

Original Report - Cason J. Callaway and the American Republic collided west of the Mackinac Bridge on Friday afternoon.

The Callaway is loaded and downbound for Gary, while the Republic was east bound for the bridge and had been stuck most of the day Friday.

Apparently the Callaway attempted to pass the Republic to help break the Republic loose. Ice forced the vessels together and initial reports said the Republic was holed in the #1 ballast tank.

Around 7:30 p.m., the two boats were about 10 miles west of the bridge and facing each other. The USCGC Katmai Bay was stopped between St. Ignace and Mackinac Island at 7 pm.


American Mariner looses steering in Upper St. Marys River

3/29 - Soo - The American Mariner was moored at the southwest pier at the Soo Friday afternoon.

She had been brought down the St. Marys River by the G tugs Missouri and Florida, after spending the night in the ice near Gros Cap, due to steering failure.

Late Friday, MCM Marine had a crane on site to change out a hydraulic steering cylinder.


Port Reports - March 29

Twin Ports - Al Miller
Paul R. Tregurtha spent Friday at the Duluth port terminal with a wheeled crane alongside its port bow. The vessel is undergoing hull repairs for ice damage suffered on its upbound trip.
James R. Barker arrived in Duluth on Friday morning and spent the day docked at the port authority's Garfield D dock. There's no word on its situation, although it is scheduled to load coal at Midwest Energy Terminal on Sunday. Elsewhere, the St. Clair departed Fraser Shipyards overnight Thursday/Friday and loaded taconite pellets at CN Duluth.

Marquette - Rod Burdick
Friday morning at the Upper Harbor ore dock, Calumet (ex-David Z.) loaded taconite. Transition continues to Lower Lakes colors. Her visit followed fleetmate Manitowoc, which was the first vessel to load taconite for the new season.

Toronto - Charlie Gibbons
Stephen B. Roman got underway late Wednesday night, bound for Picton.

Clarkson - Frank Hood
Clipper Leander was just off shore by Clarkson Petro Canada at about 3pm on Friday.

Saginaw River - Todd Shorkey
The 2008 shipping season started on the Saginaw River Thursday morning, as the USCG Cutter Bristol Bay escorted the CSL Tadoussac through the Saginaw Bay ice to the open water of the Saginaw River. The winds and the ice made for a tough passage for the Tadoussac, but she arrived at the Essroc Dock in Essexville around 10:30am. The CSL Tadoussac completed her unload overnight then turned in Essexville and started outbound for the lake slowly, awaiting the Cutter Bristol Bay to escort her out through the ice.

Hamilton - Eric Holmes
Friday the Halifax arrived at 6 a.m. with coal for US Steel.
The bunkering ship Hamilton Energy departed at 9:15 a.m. for Clarkson to refuel the Clipper Leander.
The Canadian Provider arrived at 10:30 a.m. with iron ore pellets from Port Cartier for Dofasco. Her next port is going to be Toledo. The CSL Niagara departed Pier 26 at 5:30 p.m. with slag for Trois-Rivieres Quebec.
The Halifax followed the Niagara out and headed to the Welland Canal.
The Algosoo arrived at 6 p.m. with coal from Sandusky for Dofasco.


Updates - March 29

News Photo Gallery updated


Today in Great Lakes History - March 29

N. M. Paterson & Sons, PRINDOC (Hull#657) of Davie Shipbuilding Co., Ltd., Lauzon, Quebec was sold off-lakes during the week of March 29, 1982, to the Southern Steamship Co., Georgetown, Cayman Islands and was renamed b.) HANKEY. Later renamed c.) CLARET III in 1990, d.) S SARANTA in 1992, e.) PLATANA IN 1997, Scrapped at Alaiga, Turkey in 1997.

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.


Lake freighters get going despite ice

3/28 - Sturgeon Bay - The winter fleet at Bay Shipbuilding Co. has begun the annual spring migration to the Soo Locks.

Four freighters — the Paul R. Tregurtha, Edgar B. Speer, Arthur M. Anderson and Charles M. Beeghly — left Sturgeon Bay Sunday in the race to the locks at Sault Ste. Marie. The freighters ran into heavy ice on Green Bay, and were delayed despite tracks cut by the Coast Guard cutter Mackinaw and maintained by the cutter Mobile Bay and commercial tugs.

The freighters coming out of Bay Ship lost the race to the Cason J. Calloway, which sailed out of Erie, Pa., and was first through the Soo. “There’s plate ice out there a couple of feet thick,” said Lt. Cdr. Matt Smith, commander of the Mobile Bay, which makes its home port in Sturgeon Bay.

After the Mackinaw cut a track south to Sturgeon Bay and returned back north to the Soo, Smith said the Mobile Bay was assigned to keep the path open for commercial traffic. Temperatures turned cold over the weekend, however, bringing ice back into the cut.

While the commercial tug Erica Kobasic out of Escanaba handled close escort work, the Mobile Bay widened the track north from the Sherwood Point light at the mouth of Sturgeon Bay to the Rock Island Passage, which connects Green Bay to Lake Michigan between Rock Island and Michigan’s Garden Peninsula.

Starting Tuesday, the Mobile Bay began cutting a track from Sherwood Point south to Green Bay, opening its port to ship traffic, Smith said.

The opening of the Soo Locks each spring begins the commercial shipping season on the Great Lakes. The locks and St. Mary’s River provide a link between Lake Superior — where iron ore mined in Minnesota is stockpiled at shore ports — and the lower lakes, where mills that use the raw material line the shores from southeastern Wisconsin to upstate New York.

Traditionally, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which operates the locks, more than 4,000 vessels carry up to 90 million tons of cargo through the locks every year. Most vessels transport iron ore; others carry coal, grain or stone.

North of the Soo, the Mackinaw has laid out tracks in ice 2-4 feet thick since March 14, said Lt. Cdr. John Little, who commands the Coast Guard’s largest and newest ice-breaker. The 240-foot Mackinaw cut paths north from the locks to Whitefish Point, where freighters can find open water heading toward Minnesota ports such as Duluth, Taconite Harbor and Twin Harbors.

The Mackinaw escorted the through the locks early March 25, and ready for the next two northbound freighters and the southbound 1,000-foot Edwin H. Gott, which was downbound from Twin Harbors, Minn., with taconite for Gary, Ind. The season has been Mackinaw’s busiest, said Little, who commanded Mobile Bay out of Sturgeon Bay a few years ago. So far this month, the Mackinaw, which was commissioned in 2006, has served as host to Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Thad Allan and a crew from the Weather Channel.

At Bay Ship, the ship movement means the crew of about 700 workers are under pressure to put the finishing touches on myriad details needed to put the winter fleet — 18 ships this season — back to work. Nine freighters remain in port and most are expected to be gone by the end of March.

The phrase “winter fleet” applies to all the ships — from ferry boats to super freighters — that make Bay Ship their home for the winter for repairs, inspections, surveys or offseason docking. “We had a lot of late arrivals, boats coming in in mid-March,” said Todd Thayse, who manages repair services at Bay Ship. By the end of the week, he added, all but three ships will have cleared the yard in Sturgeon Bay.

“There was heavy cargo demand, so they stayed out for an additional trip,” Thayse said of the ore carriers. “The steel industry is strong, so the demand is there for them to get back out there.” Since mid-January, Bay Ship has worked three shift, seven days a week to get the repairs completed on time for captains and owners who are anxious to resume moving cargo, Thayse said.

“Everybody is trying to get out,” Thayse said. “They have to be careful because there’s heavy plate ice out there. The winds can move the plates, and take the ships right along with it.”

Demand was so heavy, Thayse said, that three freighters — the 1,000-footers Burns Harbor and Stewart J. Cort and 728-foot Joe Block — wintering in Milwaukee under the Bay Ship umbrella left earlier this month to haul taconite out of Escanaba.

Heavy ice conditions on Green Bay are helping convince some captains to use the ship canal and go east out of Bay Ship through Sturgeon Bay to Lake Michigan, Thayse said. The captains are weighing the time savings and risks of traveling on low water through two downtown bridges and the Bayview Bridge over State 42-57 compared with potential delays in heavy ice by going west to Green Bay and north to Rock Island.

From Gannett Wisconsin Media


Port Reports - March 28

Lorain - C. Mackin
The Dorothy Ann and Pathfinder were the first to pass through the Berry Bridge early Thursday morning, heading upriver to Terminal Ready Mix. By late Thursday, the combo were back loading at the LaFarge dock in Marblehead.

Twin Ports - Al Miller
Paul R. Tregurtha was docked at the Duluth port terminal Thursday morning with its bow raised, apparently for some sort of repair.
Frontenac departed Fraser Shipyards and at 7:30 a.m. Thursday was proceeding down the Front Channel toward the BNSF ore dock.


New marine passenger terminal might welcome the Boyer

3/28 - Toledo - The wheels are in motion at the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority to pump life into the new marine passenger terminal.

Construction on the $3 million facility wrapped up last year in Toledo's Marina District, reports News 11's Rob Wiercinski, who says the new facility may soon have an "old" look.

Activity at the marine passenger terminal involves both short- and long-term planning. The Willis B. Boyer may be moving downriver from its current resting spot along International Park to be part of a long-term vision at the Marine Passenger Terminal.

"To create a Toledo Maritime Center, to relay our past, present and future of Toledo's waterfront, which is essentially the foundation of our community," explained Paul LaMarre III, the Boyer's executive director and special assistant to the Port Authority president.

While moving the Boyer is still in the development stage, LaMarre says lake ferries docking at the terminal will be taking center stage in the near future.

"We will, without a doubt, be doing some trial runs to potentially service the islands as well as the Detroit community, and that could start happening as early as the late Spring," LaMarre said.

The Port Authority is ready to bring Gladieux Enterprises on board to market and operate the building as a banquet and catering facility. An agreement on that will be presented to the Port board for approval on Thursday.



Lake Michigan High Speed Ferry Readies for 2008 Travel Season

3/28 - Milwaukee - Entering its fifth season of operation, the Lake Express Ferry announces today its schedule for the 2008 travel season. Online and phone reservations have been opened for travelers eager to make plans to get outdoors and experience ferry travel on the Great Lakes.

Traveling from Milwaukee to Muskegon, Mich., the high-speed catamaran's season begins May 1 and runs through November 2. It includes a new "prime time" schedule for spring which leaves Milwaukee at 8 a.m. with a second cruise departing at 2:30 p.m. Trips from Muskegon are scheduled for departure at 12:15 p.m. and 6:45 p.m. EST.

According to Ken Szallai, president of Lake Express, the changes to the ferry's schedule are a response to rider feedback and will allow riders to leave Milwaukee later in the morning with the 8 a.m. first trip of the day, or extend their Milwaukee visit into the afternoon. The new schedule means more time in Michigan as well, which should also be popular with riders.

Szallai quickly notes that the Ferry's travel schedule during the summer months will remain the same. Beginning June 11 and continuing through Sept. 1, the ferry makes three daily trips, leaving Milwaukee at 6 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. and returning at 10:15 a.m., 4:45 p.m. and 11 p.m.

He says September's schedule includes a mixture of the traditional and prime time schedules. From Sept. 2-Sept. 30, the schedule drops to two trips on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays and three trips on Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays. From Oct. 1 until the end of the season on Nov. 2, the ferry offers Milwaukee departures at 8:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. and return trips at 12:45 and 7:15 p.m.

Entering its fifth year of service, the Lake Express Ferry transports more than 100,000 pleasure and business travelers across Lake Michigan from Milwaukee, Wisconsin to Muskegon, Michigan each year. Owned and operated in Milwaukee, the high-speed auto ferry is the only one of its kind operating within the continental United States. It is equipped to comfortably transport nearly 250 passengers, 46 vehicles and 12 motorcycles. Conversions may be made to accommodate a total of 114 motorcycles.

Powered by four 3,000 hp diesel engines, the 192-foot-long catamaran crosses Lake Michigan in 2 ½ hours - a fraction of the time it would take to drive the 300 miles around. More information can be found at


Lake Erie fishery facing worst year since 1984

3/28 - Windsor - Catch limits on walleye and yellow perch have dropped for the second year in a row for the Lake Erie commercial fishery and are expected to decrease again next year.

"It's going to be hard times for the guys in Essex County. It's a bad, bad year for them," said Peter Meisenheimer, executive director of the Ontario Commercial Fisheries' Association. Meisenheimer said the catch limits aren't as bad as first anticipated, but with the strong Canadian dollar, he predicted this year could be the worst year for the commercial fishery since 1984.

He couldn't predict how much money could be lost in the industry, which operates mostly out of Wheatley and Kingsville and has hauled in $20 million to $40 million of fish a year, before the processing value is added. The final quotas for each area and license on the lake haven't been worked out yet.

At a meeting in Niagara Falls last week, fishery managers from Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Ontario recommended decreasing quotas because of poor spawning years in 2002, 2004 and 2006. Although the final quotas aren't set, the overall drop for the Ontario commercial fishing industry based on last week's numbers is 16 per cent for yellow perch and a 30 per cent drop for walleye.

"Don't expect any increases in the foreseeable future," said John Cooper, a Lake Erie Management Unit spokesman with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources.

The bi-national quota for walleye is dropping from 5.36 million to 3.594 million fish. On the Ontario side of Lake Erie, it means the walleye quota is dropping from 2.23 million to 1.556 million. Cooper said last year 2.13 million walleye were caught.

Catch limits for yellow perch are set in pounds. The overall yellow perch quota is dropping from 11.39 million pounds to 10.160 million pounds. In Ontario the yellow perch quota is dropping from 5.7 million pounds caught last year to 4.8 million pounds this year, Cooper said.

The catch limits went up in 2005 and 2006 but are decreasing for the second year in a row.

From the Windsor Star


Free Program at Vantage Point highlights the Willis B. Boyer

3/28 - Port Huron - Saturday, March 29, the Lake Huron Lore Marine Society will present the "Willis B. Boyer Story," with Paul LaMarre III at the Great Lakes Maritime Center/Vantage Point, 51 Water St., Port Huron, Michigan, 7 pm.

Mr. LaMarre is the Executive Director of the museum ship Willis B. Boyer in Toledo, and will take the group on a visual tour the Boyer, and its history sailing the Great Lakes.

The program is free and open to the public.


Museum sheds light on Michigan City's rich history

3/28 - Michigan City - It was a quarter-mile walk between the Michigan City lighthouse on the pier and the lighthouse keeper's house.

Some days the walk was covered with deep snow. Other days, howling winds splashed icy waves over the path. Yet every day and twice every night, Harriet Colfax tended that light, and she did so for over 30 years until retiring at age 80 in 1904. Hers is just one of the many interesting stories told at the Old Lighthouse Museum in Michigan City, which opens for the season on Tuesday.

The museum in the historic 1858 structure that once housed the light and assistant keepers' families tells much more than just their stories. Artifacts, photos and documents tell the story of the once-bustling freight and passenger harbor that lured 10,000 tourists daily from Chicago via steamships on summer weekends in the early 1900s.

The tragic account of one of those steamers, the Eastland, in which 800 people died, is told through texts, artifacts and a graphic postcard collection. The museum has exhibits on many other shipwrecks and on shipbuilding, the Coast Guard, Great Lakes lighthouses, lighthouse technology and more.

The museum offers self-guided tours or tours by one of their knowledgeable docents. School-age children find interest in artifacts such as the plaster cast life mask of Abraham Lincoln in the collection, chronicling the stop his funeral train made in Michigan City. Visitors with children can also visit the adjacent park, beach or zoo or walk to the light at the end of the catwalk.

The Old Lighthouse Museum is located at the west end of Washington Park on Michigan City's lakefront. Hours are 1 to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Admission is $3 for adults, $1 for high school students and 50 cents for elementary students. To get to the museum from Interstate 94, exit on U.S. 421 (Franklin Street) north into downtown Michigan City. Turn right at 9th Street, then left onto Pine Street. Follow Pine Street across the bridge, go right and immediately do a U-turn into the marina and lighthouse parking lot. A parking fee is assessed for visitors also doing other activities in the park.

Mark your calendar for the 150th anniversary celebration of this historic landmark on Aug. 9. More information is available at 872-6133 or at

From the Merrillville Post-Tribune


Captain Glen Frederick Shaw passes

3/28 - DeTour Village - Glen Frederick Shaw, age 90, a life long resident of DeTour Village died Tuesday, March 25, 2008 at St. Mary's Hospital in Saginaw. He was born in DeTour on April 27, 1917 to George and Mable (Monroe) Shaw.

A sailor at heart, Glen worked most of his life on the water. He was a sailor on Great Lakes freighters, the Neebish Island Ferry, the Drummond Island Ferry, and a tug boat captain for the entire construction of the Mackinac Bridge as well as several Sault Locks construction projects. He enjoyed participating in the Great Tug Boat Races on the St. Mary's River in Sault Ste. Marie. His book "Ships, Great Lakes and Me" was published a few years ago.

On March 13, 1937, Glen married Martha Mae "Joan" Lee in Sault Ste. Marie and they just celebrated their 71st wedding anniversary. He was a member of the DeTour Union Presbyterian Church and was active at the DeTour Passage Historical Museum. Glen enjoyed woodworking; making stools, planters, birdhouses and holiday decorations. He also enjoyed vegetable gardening.

Glen is survived by his wife, Joan; two sons, Robert and Randall; six grandchildren; and nine great grandchildren. Glen was preceded in death by one son, Roger Shaw and one brother, Alvin Shaw.

Visitation will be held Friday, March 28 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Reamer Galer Funeral Home, 24549 S. M-129 in Pickford, Michigan. Funeral services will be held Saturday, March 29 at 10:30 a.m. at the Union Presbyterian Church in DeTour Village with Reverend Judith Arnold conducting the service. There will be visitation at the church Saturday from 9:30 a.m. until the service begins.

Memorial contributions may be made to the DeTour Passage Historical Museum or the American Cancer Society.

From the Soo Evening News.


Updates - March 28

News Photo Gallery 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.


Ice breakers struggle in the St. Marys River

3/27 - Soo - The abrupt departure of the Katmai Bay, about 4 on Monday afternoon, was the subject of much speculation, as it was helping to clear the ice jam at the Little Rapids Cut. TV Channels 9 and 10 reported Wednesday morning that she "blew a pipe", and was in danger of sinking. She proceeded to the base in the Soo, only a few miles from where she was working.

The Biscayne Bay was pushed hard up stream from its ice breaking in the Middle Neebish Channel. She was ahead of the first boat up, the Cason J Callaway, which was the first boat that passed through the locks soon after midnight on Opening Day, Tuesday.

Wednesday morning, Biscayne Bay was dispatched to help the upbound Stewart J. Cort which had been stuck overnight below the Mud Lake Junction Buoy. While working below the West Neebish Channel, at noon Wednesday, the Biscayne Bay reportedly was blocking the channel, dead in the water, having "lost his mains."

The Mackinaw, working the upper river was diverted below to help the eight, or so, upbound boats behind the Cort, as the Katmai Bay was sent up the Rock Cut to free the downbound Indiana Harbor, which was stuck above light 33, with all the day's downbound boats behind her.

Late Wednesday, at least ten vessels were bring assisted in the area of Mud Lake. The Mackinaw was leading a group upbound including the Cort, James R. barker, Algorail, and Canadian Transfer. Downbounders following the Indiana Harbor were Edwin H. Gott, CSL Laurentian, Algosar and the John G. Munson.

Reported by Herm Klein and Jim Carrick


Slow going prevails in shipping season start

3/27 - St. Marys River - Shipping traffic up and down the St. Marys River continued intermittently through the traditional first day of the season Tuesday.

Ships in the river overnight hove-to or tied up where they were to await daylight and the resumption of icebreaker escorts, starting with two thousand-foot self unloaders making the first downbound trips of the season.

Coast Guard operations manager Mark Gill said the 1,000-foot Indiana Harbor and Edwin H. Gott opted to lay over the nighttime hours at the Soo Locks pier wall after locking down late Tuesday. Gill explained that while the commercial ships waited, two Bay-Class tugs completed the initial opening of the often-troublesome West Neebish Channel in preparation for the two wide-bodied vessels due down early today.

He said Coast Guard ice escorts are suspended during nighttime hours because of very limited visibility and safety concerns. However, an extra hour of daylight in the evening and a bright moon overnight aided the tugs Katmai Bay and Biscayne Bay in their joint channel-clearing operation at West Neebish.

Downriver of that passage on the upbound side, a cluster of four ships waited in the ice overnight at Mud Lake before resuming their first upbound passages of the season in heavy ice conditions. Stewart J. Cort, James R. Barker, Algorail and Canadian Transfer were all expected to get underway early today after waiting out the night in the ice.

Gill expressed some worry about the West Neebish Channel, even though the wide, powerful thousand footers are ideal vessels to attempt first passages through the ice-congested channel. “We'll see how it goes,” Gill said of the often ice-choked West Neebish. Gill said he also expects ice trouble later a short distance downriver at two other traditional choke points - the Moon Island turn, Winter Point and in Mud Lake itself.

Addressing traffic in the other direction, Gill said he expects ice trouble off Stribling Point, where the upbound channel turns sharply around the northern end of Neebish Island.

Above the Soo Locks, downbound shipping traffic seemed to be moving well enough early today. The Canadian vessel CSL Laurentian followed the two thousand footers downbound shortly after daybreak today. Despite a westerly wind that tends to pack broken ice into Whitefish Bay, two vessels - John J. Munson and Algoville - were reportedly making way downbound at various points on Whitefish Bay.

On the Straits of Mackinac, the steamer Philip R. Clarke was reportedly beset in the ice there. With St. Ignace-based Biscayne Bay otherwise occupied on the St. Marys, Gill said he hopes incoming shipping traffic on the Straits will free the stranded Clarke without pulling a tug off the lower St. Marys. Eventually, he said he hopes to have the Bay-Class tug Mobile Bay available from Green Bay to stand in on the Straits.

The site of a ferry-stopping ice jam on Monday and early Tuesday, the Sugar Island ferry crossing cleared of ice from ship traffic and a shift of the wind late in the day on Tuesday. Ferry service back and forth to Sugar Island and Sault Ste. Marie was suspended for several hours at a time on Monday and early Tuesday. Gill made it a point to publicly thank the US Army Corps of Engineers for assigning the Corps tug Owen Frederick to ice-clearing efforts around the Sugar Island ferry crossing. Frederick worked in tandem with the larger Katmai Bay in the tedious work of breaking up the ice jam that idled the ferry Sugar Islander II.

Gill said the loan of the Frederick was emblematic of a close working relationship between Corps and Coast Guard. The extra icebreaking tug came in very handy in the close-clearance Sugar Islander passage at Mission Point, Gill said, repeating his thanks to the Corps of Engineers.

The Coast Guard official held out some hope that additional icebreaking help will become available from farther west as the struggle with heavy river ice continues. He said at breakout, the Coast Guard can usually count on at least three Bay-Class tugs for the ice-choked lower St. Marys. However, heavy ice at Green Bay, Port Huron and at several ports on Lake Erie tied up available icebreaking vessels just as the river began to clog this year.

More a matter of ice clearing that ice breaking, the job at hand is one of influencing broken channel ice to flow downriver more easily. Or, as Gill put it, “... Breaking big chunks of ice into smaller ones.”

He suggested the going will be slow for early season shipping until several big vessels have cleared the St. Marys in both directions over coming days. He said the weather - always a major player in ice season - appears to be somewhat favorable with gradually moderating winter temperatures in the forecast.

Well aware that more ice trouble is always possible before the thaw sets in for good, Gill said, “We're not out of the woods yet.”

By Jack Story for the Soo Evening News


Port Reports - March 27

Soo - Jim Carrick
The Biscayne Bay has an engine out. Down bounds have started moving ever so slow below light 29. Up bounders are all beset behind the Cort, and the Mackinaw is being brought down from the upper river to assist the up bounders.

Stoneport - Ben & Chanda McClain
The Arthur M. Anderson was loading cargo on a sunny Wednesday, thus opening the 2008 season at Stoneport.

Marquette - Rod Burdick & Lee Rowe
Wednesday afternoon at the Upper Harbor ore dock, Manitowoc (ex Earl W.), sporting Lower Lakes hull and stack colors, became the first vessel to load taconite for the 2008-2009 season. She also was the last vessel to load taconite during the 2007-2008 shipping season. Manitowoc's pilothouse is partly painted white with Oglebay Norton colors in sections.

Toronto - Frank Hood
On Wednesday, CSL Assiniboine was in Toronto unloading salt.
Canadian Miner was at Redpath sugar unloading.
Stephen B Roman was in dock with what looks like a fresh metal patch on the front starboard side.
Hamilton Energy was also in port bunkering, and departed it around noon.
The charter vessel Klancy II was out for her annual Coast Guard inspection this morning.

St. Lawrence Seaway - Ron Beaupre
The Clipper Leander is the first foreign flag ship up the Seaway on Wednesday. She pushed through pack ice from Massena to Mariatown.

Port Huron - Fran Frisk
the tug Manitou departed her home dock in Port Huron Wednesday morning. She headed down bound with a barge and two very large spools of pipe cable picked up in Manitowoc WI for delivery to Montreal Quebec.

Goderich - Dale Baechler
Algosteel was a late Tuesday night arrival and went to the Sifto Salt dock to load. The ice has moved back in and has plugged the inner harbour, channel and the outer harbour.

Duluth-Superior - Al Miller
American Mariner departed its layup berth in Duluth overnight Tuesday-Wednesday and proceeded to Two Harbors to load taconite pellets.
Edward L. Ryerson -- America's Straight decker -- left Fraser Shipyards on Wednesday afternoon, fueled in Duluth and by late afternoon was proceeding down the Front Channel toward the BNSF ore dock to load.
By late afternoon the St. Clair had shipyard equipment cleared from its deck and its radar antenna revolving, apparently ready to leave Fraser Shipyards momentarily. It was due to load at CN Duluth during the night.
Cason J. Callaway was expected at Two Harbors on Wednesday, to be followed by Presque Isle.

Hamilton - Eric Holmes
Wednesday saw the Canadian Prospector depart it's winter berth at Pier 10 and head for the canal at 10:30 a.m. The tug Omni Richelieu departed at 1 p.m. The Hamilton Energy arrived at 2:30 p.m. from Toronto.
The McKeil tugs Wyatt M and Jarrett M arrived from Port Weller at 9 p.m.
The Algoisle departed winter lay up from Pier 10 at 9 p.m. heading for Thunder Bay. The Cuyahoga also departed winter lay up at 9 p.m. from Pier 11.


Minnesota out to force ships to treat ballast water

3/27 - Fearful of a deadly fish disease and other invasive pests, Minnesota lawmakers and state pollution officials are trying to force ships to stop dumping untreated ballast water in Lake Superior. Although a bill in the Legislature has come under heavy opposition, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is moving forward with its plans to begin to regulate shipowners.

The shipping industry has opposed a state-by-state approach to the problem, saying that national and international rulemaking is already making progress.

The state bill and MPCA regulation are trying to keep dozens of invasive species -- including spores, plants, eggs, small fish and other aquatic life -- from entering the Great Lakes and proliferating. The invaders, mainly from ports in northern Europe and the Black and Caspian Seas, become stowaways in huge ballast tanks when freighters discharge millions of gallons of water as they load cargoes. Many species do not survive, but others have infested new areas and have spread to more ports and inland lakes.

Mary Jean Fenske, MPCA vessel discharge program coordinator, said that more than 5 billion gallons of water from other places was dumped into Duluth-Superior Harbor in 2005, making it the top location in the Great Lakes for ballast water discharge. Among other foreign species already established at Duluth from past discharges are zebra and quagga mussels, and two types of fish: round gobies and Eurasian ruffe.

Jim Sharrow, facilities manager at the Duluth Seaway Port Authority, said that regulation by individual states could hurt the shipping industry and farming, mining and other sectors that depend upon shipping for reasonably priced transportation. "We'd hope that eventually ballast water is controlled solely by a federal agency," said Sharrow, "because otherwise the ships would be forced to try to live within a patchwork of laws from state to state."

The industry has been making the same argument for many years, and new invasive species continue to become established in the Great Lakes, said MPCA Commissioner Brad Moore. "This is something that's been going on for decades," he said.

Moore said that the MPCA will continue to track federal efforts to control ballast water dumping, but that it will also develop a state permit system in case the national plans continue to languish or do not go far enough. The Environmental Protection Agency ruled in 1973 that ships were exempt from discharge permits under the Clean Water Act, and continues to hold that position despite court opinions to the contrary. The matter is under appeal.

The U.S. Coast Guard has not developed a ballast water standard, and has moved slowly on rules for treating ballast water. Congress is also considering tougher laws, but so far with little progress.

Rep. Rick Hansen, DFL-South St. Paul, proposed a state law that would set up the framework for the state to regulate ballast water from ships that discharge into Minnesota waters. The proposal has been lambasted by shipping interests.

The Shipping Federation of Canada testified earlier this month that the Minnesota bill would "result in disruptions to maritime traffic and potential modal shifts towards rail or road transportation," which would increase air pollution and affect public health. The federation represents 85 Canadian firms that own, operate or are agents for overseas shipping.

Hansen disagrees with industry claims that his proposal or the MPCA permit system will shut down shipping. Although some of the methods for onboard filtering, killing or removing harmful organisms may not be fully developed, Hansen said, it's time to push the technology forward. Also driving the urgency, he said, is the potential spread of contagious fish diseases, such as viral hemorrhagic septicemia, which is already found in fish living in all of the Great Lakes except Superior.

Other Great Lakes states considering regulations or new laws to require ballast water treatment include Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin, Illinois, Pennsylvania and New York.

From the Minneapolis/St. Paul Star Tribune


Landmark on Milwaukee lakefront falls
Multiple efforts over years failed to save former Coast Guard station

3/27 - Milwaukee - Though no doubt many lives were saved by the rescue missions launched from its docks, repeated efforts could not save Milwaukee's historic U.S. Coast Guard station, which finally fell victim to a wrecking crew Tuesday after standing watch over Lake Michigan for almost 100 years.

"Very sad, indeed," said Ellen Langill, president-elect of the Board of Curators for the Wisconsin Historical Society, which had played a critical role in staving off efforts to demolish the 92-year-old, prairie-style structure at 1600 N. Lincoln Memorial Drive. "To get it listed as significantly historic and then to let it go, you lose a part of Milwaukee's heritage as a port city, and a part of its maritime history," Langill said.

Demolition on the 10,000-square-foot building began Tuesday afternoon and was expected to be completed in just days, said Matt Jarosz, who serves on the city's Historic Preservation Commission and directs the Historic Preservation Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

The building, owned by the Milwaukee County Parks Department, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The City of Milwaukee had also designated it as a local landmark, and delayed its demolition until re-use proposals could be considered, Jarosz said. "We started looking at potential uses about 15 years ago and came up with some very interesting proposals," he said. "But the financing has always been a problem."

The most notable recent effort to save the structure was a proposal to convert it into a $4.2 million Indian education and cultural center. However, Loonsfoot Inc., an American Indian group attempting to raise money for the restoration, missed a July 1 last-chance deadline for securing at least $1.2 million toward the project.

After the federal government closed it in 1971, the building was occupied in a political protest by American Indian Movement activists and later became the first Indian Community School in Milwaukee. The school left the site after 1980, and Milwaukee County re-purchased it from the federal government in 1986. The building fell into neglect, was damaged by fire in 1989 and had been largely unattended by the time the county entered into the 2005 agreement with Loonsfoot for the structure's renovation.

But cracking, leakage and fire damage had taken a heavy toll on the building. Repairing that damage, combined with the cost of rebuilding the site's crumbling seawall, made any plans to renovate the structure extremely expensive propositions, Jarosz said.

"We could never really find the private-public alliance it would have taken to save the building," Jarosz said. "So what you end up having is a small building with a small square footage being incredibly expensive to use."

Tuesday afternoon, shattered ruins were all that was left of the station. Against a blustery wind, a lone excavator sat in front of the ruins while a group of young men practiced rugby in a nearby field. An amateur photographer snapped photographs of the rubble. A tree that a workman said was to be spared from destruction was cordoned off, near a pedestrian bridge that will also be saved.

Jarosz also photographed the remnants of the once proud-looking station. "It was a simple building but it always looked very dignified," he said. Later he noted that, unlike previous decisions to demolish historic buildings, the fate of the station was the object of many rescue efforts and much public discourse. "It still doesn't mean that its loss is not a bit of a tragedy," he noted.

From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel


Updates - March 27

News Photo Gallery updated


Today in Great Lakes History - March 27

The steamer b.) EDWARD S KENDRICK was launched March 27, 1907, as a.) H P McINTOSH (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.


Mission Point Ice Update

3/26 - Soo - Before daylight on Opening Day, the Corps tug Owen M Fredrick was dispatched to aid the Katmai Bay in clearing the ice so the Sugar Islander II, which had been out of service since 12:30 p.m. the previous day, might resume service.

Both boats made numerous trips up and down the Little Rapids Cut to clear space for the harbor ice, to pass down, which had blocked the ferry's passage. At 9:10 the ferry left the island on the first trip to the mainland.

The Katmai Bay made one more high speed pass, before proceeding downbound to the Middle Neebish Channel to "work on the turns." The tug Fredrick went back up to the locks area to resume his normal duties. Both were thanked by the Sugar Islander II.

Reported by Herm Klein


Soo Locks open for season

3/26 - Soo - The Soo Locks opened amid snow fall Tuesday, kicking off the commercial shipping season.

The snow and heavier than usual ice conditions should not slow down the dozen Great Lakes freighters headed toward St. Marys River, according to the United States Army Corps of Engineers. Only the Poe Lock is currently open. The first vessel to pass through was scheduled to arrive just after midnight.

Over 4,000 ships, carrying up to 90 million tons of cargo, move through the locks every season from March 25 to Jan 15. The vessels most often transport iron ore, coal, grain or stone.

Recreational boaters still have a bit of a wait, but can look forward to the Canadian lock opening on schedule, May 15. Last fall the canal closed for the season a few weeks early because the computer system controlling the lock mechanisms was damaged in a thunderstorm. The damage has been repaired and the usual 2,000 plus pleasure crafts that typically maneuver through the lock can be expected, according to Parks Canada.

Low water levels last summer did not affect recreational boaters coming through the Canadian lock, said Joe Cain, city supervisor for marine facilities. But both commercial and recreational captains should be aware of the differences in lake levels this year, said Soo Locks operators.

Lake Superior and Lake Michigan-Huron are forecasted to remain below long-term averages through August. However, Lake Superior's water level is approximately 20 centimeters higher than it was this time last year. Michigan-Huron is about 15 centimeters below last year's height.

From the Sault Ontario Star


Port Reports - March 26

Goderich - Dale Baechler
Canadian Transfer departed her lay up berth in Goderich at 2 p.m. Tuesday.

Sarnia - Frank Frisk
Algorail departed her winter berth Tuesday, and backed down the river to fuel at the Imperial Oil dock. She later departed.

Duluth/Superior - Al Miller
Mesabi Miner was loading at Midwest Energy Terminal on Tuesday morning. This will be its first cargo of the season destined for delivery to the lower lakes, in this case, Detroit Edison in St. Clair.
Algowood also was scheduled to load coal Tuesday.
Paul R. Tregurtha and James R. Barker both are tentatively scheduled to arrive at Midwest Energy Terminal on Wednesday. Both will load for Detroit Edison in St. Clair.

Alpena/Stoneport - Tom Train
Tuesday's Alpena News reported that the first stone boat was due Tuesday. They also reported that LaFarge vessels have made 14 trips already since March 12th.
Stoneport is also expecting their first vessel today.

Toronto - Charlie Gibbons
The Stephen B. Roman's crew returned to work Tuesday morning, unloading her storage cargo. The Roman departed early today for Picton.


Massive Ice Field Moving Out of Bay of Green Bay

3/26 - A huge ice floe moving out of the Bay of Green Bay is a concern for fishermen and other boaters hitting the waters.

Satellite photos from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) show a massive chunk of ice which broke off somewhere in the bay is making its way toward Upper Michigan.

There is a second, much larger piece starting to break off. The crack is evident close to the tip of Door County to approximately Cedarville, Michigan, which is east of Stephenson. The National Weather Service estimates the size of the smaller chunk of ice is one-and-a-half miles wide.

The second chunk is estimated to be about 15 miles wide. In terms of surface area, it could be larger than Lake Winnebago, or almost as big as Milwaukee County. The National Weather Service expects it to completely break off overnight because of stronger winds.

Satellite Images

From WBAY TV2 Green Bay


Great Lakes economy suffers from terrorism threat

3/26 - Traverse City, MI — Bottlenecks along the U.S.-Canadian border resulting from the terrorism scare are hampering economic growth in the Great Lakes region and should be a front-burner issue in the presidential campaign, says a report released Sunday.

It urges the two nations to develop a “border of the future,” using advanced technology to quicken the movement of people, goods and services without sacrificing needed security measures. They also should upgrade border-area infrastructure such as bridges, rail lines and ports, says the analysis by the Brookings Institution, a policy research organization based in Washington, D.C.

The report argues a broad swath of territory — reaching from upstate New York to Minnesota, and across the southern tier of Quebec and Ontario — is a single economic region linked by the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River system.

Its future prosperity depends on businesses and governments overcoming provincialism and thinking regionally, said John Austin, director of Brookings’ Great Lakes Economic Initiative and one of the report’s writers. They should work more cooperatively on research and innovation, environmental protection and promoting renewable energy development and trade, the report says.

“We’re not islands; we’re mutually dependent,” Austin said.

But the policies and investments needed to spur the Great Lakes economy cannot come from the region alone, he said. They should be a federal priority, and the region’s voters should push the presidential candidates to show interest.

About $1.2 billion worth of commerce flows daily between the U.S. and Canada. Trade at one border crossing — the Ambassador Bridge between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario — matches all U.S. exports to Japan.

Despite struggles caused largely by the decline of heavy industry such as automobile manufacturing, the region still has much going for it, including prominent universities and natural resources such as fresh water and forests, the report says.

But its transition to an economy based on technology and innovation is being slowed by an inadequate transportation system and the security crackdown that followed the 2001 terrorist attacks.

Confusion over new requirements to show proof of citizenship is discouraging Canadians from visiting U.S. border cities such as Detroit for shopping and entertainment, said Sarah Hubbard, vice president of government relations with the Detroit Regional Chamber.

The report calls for both nations to have a strategy in place by 2015 for unclogging border crossings.

From the Associated Press


Lake Michigan shipwreck gets national recognition

3/26 - South Haven - A shipwreck just west of South Haven is now on the National Register of Historic Places.

The "Hennepin" was discovered in 2006 by the Michigan Shipwreck Research Association, based in Holland. The group pushed for recognition of the shipwreck as a national historic site. The designation is the first for a shipwreck in Lake Michigan's eastern waters.

The "Hennepin" is believed to be the first self-unloading steamship ever built.

Valerie Van Heest, of the Michigan Shipwreck Research Associates says, "We began the research and it was clear this was the first self-unloader. It is the precursor for all the big ships coming in and out of the harbors along West Michigan."

The shipwreck hunters plan to place a "National Historic Site" marker on the ship this summer and on May 3rd, they'll release the exact location of the "Hennepin" at their group's annual fundraiser.

From WZZM13


Updates - March 26

News Photo Gallery 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.


Callaway Opens the Soo Locks

3/25 - The Cason J. Callaway spent 14 hours coming up the St. Mary's River from Pipe Island to the Locks yesterday. She arrived about 9 p.m The Calloway was greeted at 10 p.m. by Sault Ste Marie City Leaders, the Chamber of Commerce, the Soo Locks Visitors Center Association, and Al Klein, Chief Engineer, USACE, Soo Locks. The Captain of the Callaway was presented with tokens and plaques commemorating First Ship, 2008, and locked through upbound, shortly after midnight.

Original Report
The first boats of the 2008 Season have arrived at Sault Ste. Marie in anticipation of the Soo Locks' opening for the season at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday.

The Cason J. Callaway passed upbound at Mission Point around 7:15 p.m. Monday and was told to tie up on the pier below the Poe Lock and wait until one minute after midnight to lock up. She is followed by the Presque Isle. Both vessels - along with the tanker Algosar ­ fought ice in the lower river Monday and were assisted by the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Katmai Bay.

The Edwin H. Gott was expected to be the first down bounder, early morning Tuesday, with ore from Two Harbors.

On Monday, the Atlantic Huron arrived downbound from a Lake Superior port, however she tied up at Algoma Steel above the locks to unload.

Reported by Charlie Lampman, Herm Klein, Dan McNeil, Jim Carrick and others


Spring break, Soo style

3/25 - Sault Ste. Marie - The ice surrenders to the hard hull of the ship with a thunderous metal-on-rock scraping sound.

Angular chunks of ice leap from the water like live beasts suddenly wakened from sleep, groaning and bouncing in dark water. Cracks ripple across untouched ice. The buoy deck -- near ice level -- shudders underfoot. For hours every day in the final weeks of winter, the Coast Guard cutter Mackinaw, the behemoth of the Great Lakes icebreaking fleet, grinds through plates of ice 2 feet thick, methodically cutting a path for the return of big ships to the Sault Ste. Marie locks, which open Tuesday.

"I've wanted to do this for 37 years," said Adm. Thad Allen, commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, as he stood looking across the St. Marys River from the cutter's glassed-in bridge. "Breaking out the Soo is legendary in the Coast Guard." Allen and other top Coast Guard brass were on hand Thursday on the Mackinaw for a trip up the river near Whitefish Bay to watch the majestic red and white cutter break ice. It's an annual rite of spring.

About 60,000 jobs in the United States and Canada depend directly on the movement of cargo -- iron ore, salt, coal and limestone -- on the Great Lakes. The shipping season is 42 weeks, 12 of which require icebreaking. It's crucial that the shipping industry restart traffic on time after a 2-month winter shutdown.

Some 800 oceangoing vessels move cargo through the St. Lawrence Seaway and Great Lakes each year; another 62 freighters ply Great Lakes ports exclusively. Together, they carry billions of dollars worth of raw material and steel more cheaply than can be transported by rail or truck.

The longer the shipping season, the more the ships contribute to the regional economy.

The Mackinaw's job is to cut a path 47 miles long from lower Whitefish Bay through the Soo Locks so ships can move. At some points, the path is wide enough for two ships to pass. Closer to the locks, it's typically wide enough just for one. This year, the ice is thick, thanks to a cold, hard winter. Last year at the same time, the ice was melting in puddles and took just a little coaxing to break. "We're not seeing that yet this year," said Lt. Ben Morgan, operations officer. Even in spots where the Mackinaw cut a swath only days ago, the ice has refrozen.

The Cheboygan-based crew of the Mackinaw won't be going home anytime soon. They have names for every type of ice: brash, rotten, plate, candle. At this time of year, every shift and nuance of ice matters.

At 240 feet, the cutter is the largest U.S. government-owned cutter on the Great Lakes, and the newest. It was commissioned in June 2006. It replaced the 280-foot, 62-year-old Mackinaw. The new boat makes tighter turns and can move in shallower water. Its crew of 60 lives aboard in two-berth cabins for weeks at a time, cutting ice in winter, tending buoys in spring and fall, carrying out search and rescue missions, freeing ships from ice jams, and providing national security. The ship even delivers Christmas trees from the Upper Peninsula to Chicago.

The boat's captain, Cmdr. John Little, used to work on smaller cutters. "I would see the old Mackinaw go by on the horizon and think, that would be a great job to have," he said. Now, it's his, and his pride is tangible. Icebreaking, he says, keeps the Great Lakes economy stoked in a competitive global age. Cutting ice may seem simple: blast through ice like a snowplow clearing a driveway. In fact, said Little, it's an art. "I love the strategy," he said.

In Whitefish Bay, at the edge of a vast, thick field of ice, the crew spends days carving donut-shaped circles in the ice to break it up, or a series of crescents, one on top of the other, so powerful winds will push broken ice fragments apart. In the St. Marys, the Mackinaw plows a straight path through dangerous curves, widening the swath of chopped ice with each pass. Satellite photos downloaded to the ship show the progress as the solid white field turns to lacy bits surrounded by water.

This is not your father's Mackinaw. The ship has computers that display and control every system. On the underside of the hull, sophisticated propellers called Azipods can turn 360 degrees to push the ship in any direction. The amenities are modern, too: plasma screen televisions in the dining room and the captain's office, satellite TV channels, a modern gym and e-mail for everyone.

Despite the gadgets, basic information is written on a floor-to-ceiling window in grease pencil: "20-26 inch plate ice, 8-12 inch snow cover" it reads. A carved wooden duck sits atop four computer displays in the engine control room, watching over them like a wise old man.

The ship's essential spring job is the same its namesake performed for 65 years: smashing ice or, in Coast Guard jargon, "making margaritas" by turning sheets of ice into well-crushed bits that freighters can handle.

After hours of watching the operation, Commandant Allen is satisfied that the ship, which he helped commission and which represents his goal of modernizing the Coast Guard's aging fleet, is doing its job well. "I'm proud of this ship," he told the crew. "You are a class act."

From the Detroit Free Press


Port Reports - March 25

Soo - Herm Klein
At 8:30 a.m., the Sugar Island Ferry was running normally with little ice in the channel at Mission Point. At 12:30 Soo Traffic was notified that the ice had packed the channel, and the ferry would wait on the Island side, and only come land side if it was an emergency. The Katmai Bay came up from Mud Lake to break the ice, but only made a few passes and proceeded to tie up at the Coast Guard base about 4 p.m. The ferry was still not in service as the Cason J Callaway passed Mission Point about 7:15 p.m. The Biscayne Bay had made a few passes, up and down the Little Rapids Cut prior to the passage of the Cason J Callaway, followed by the Algosar.

Goderich - Dale Baechler
Canadian Navigator arrived Monday morning and backed into the Sifto Salt dock to load. The channel was completely ice free. This is the first boat load out in a week, a week that saw plenty of truck loading.

Toronto - Charlie Gibbons & Jay Bascom
Canadian Leader departed quite early Monday morning to begin her 2008 season. Hamilton Energy had been alongside on Saturday afternoon filling her bunker tanks.
Stephen B. Roman, English River, Algocape, and Canadian Ranger remain in lay-up.
The tug Diver III and barge Pitts Carillon were busy today continuing their work on reconstructing the retaining wall at the foot of Spadina Street. Winter tarps have come off the island ferry William Inglis.

Duluth/Superior - Al Miller
More vessels in Duluth-Superior left winter layup berths on Sunday. Edwin H. Gott left port bound for the DMIR ore dock in Two Harbors. Roger Blough left its berth Sunday night and was loading at DMIR in Duluth on Monday morning. It’s bound for Conneaut. Lee A. Tregurtha departed Fraser Shipyards bound for the Northshore Mining Co. dock at Silver Bay. Algowood arrived at Duluth on Sunday and loaded coal at Midwest Energy Terminal in Superior. After unloading coal at Silver Bay, Indiana Harbor was expected to load taconite pellets and proceed down the lakes. On Monday, John G. Munson was due to depart its layup berth at the Duluth port terminal to load pellets at the DMIR ore dock in Duluth.
Great Lakes Fleet has all its vessels getting under way this week, although all arrival dates are tentative because of ice conditions. Edgar B. Speer, Presque Isle and Cason J. Callaway are due at Two Harbors March 26; Arthur M. Anderson is due at CN Duluth on March 26; Edwin H. Gott is due at Gary on March 26; Roger Blough is due at Conneaut on March 27; Philip R. Clarke is due at Stoneport on March 25; and John G. Munson is due at Gary on March 27.


Tug Manitou Update

3/25 - Marysville - At 9 p.m. Monday, tug Manitou and tow were 30 minutes above Buoys 11 and 12 in the Lake Huron Cut.

After departing Manitowoc, on the towline, at 8 p.m. Saturday night, they had beautiful weather up Lake Michigan. They had no problem getting through the ice in the Straits, after finding an old track, and passed under the Mackinac Bridge at 8:30 p.m.

They tow will stop at Malcolm Marine's tug dock for a day, tacking on fuel and supplies before heading for Montreal.

Malcolm Marine News Release


Port of Goderich doing OK: GPMC

3/25 - Goderich - Council received the annual report from the Goderich Port Management Corporation (GPMC) on Monday night. GPMC is a not-for-profit company that operates the port on behalf of the Town of Goderich.

According to Al Hamilton of GPMC, everything is running smoothly. The port is operating in the eighth year of a 15-year plan. GPMC spent less money last year as there were no major projects undertaken, according to Hamilton.

The majority of money was spent on major maintenance work, which included the Harbour Rehabilitation Master Plan ($103,000), south pier extension ($106,000) and north pier upgrade ($110,000). As well, routine maintenance cost $86,000 and there were also fender repairs ($40,000), security lighting added ($39,000) and the foot bridge was painted ($20,000). “We were pretty close to budget in 2007,” Hamilton said.

There is not a lot of money being spent in 2008, either, Hamilton added. The major work will continue in the maintenance area with more upgrades planned to the north pier ($100,000), south pier ($20,000) and with the Harbour Rehabilitation Master Plan ($30,000).

Hamilton said they had originally planned to do more work on the north pier in 2008, but a great deal of planning still needs to be done so it has been pushed back to spring of 2009.

Other routine maintenance will be carried out, including more fender repairs ($45,000), bollard repairs ($15,000), and concrete repairs ($15,000).

Hamilton said there is not plan to increase fees in 2008 and they expect to see a slight decrease in revenue.
GPMC has seen a decrease in revenue in part due to a reduced number of ships visiting the port, which results in fewer dues being collected.

In 2006, 240 ships visited the harbour, while only 214 came in 2007. Things may be looking up for 2008, though. “We’ve had a lot of ships in already this year compared to last, so it looks like volume will be up in 2008,” Hamilton said.

Mayor Deb Shewfelt commended GPMC for the work that has been done since the town purchased the port from the federal government in 1999. “Hats off to everyone,” he said. “We wouldn’t be in this position we’re in now if that hadn’t been done.”

From Goderich Signal Star


Seaway struggles to meet expectations

3/25 - Duluth-Superior provided an attractive point of export for Midwestern grain, and its elevators bustled in the years after the St. Lawrence Seaway opened in 1959. Much of the grain was destined for northern Europe, but the seaway also opened up new markets in Quebec to Midwestern farmers. Expectations soared.

“There were those in the early 1960s who predicted that the population of Duluth-Superior would double by 1970 because of the rush of business brought about by the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway,” observed Bill Beck and C. Patrick Labadie in their book “Pride of the Inland Seas: An Illustrated History of the Port of Duluth-Superior.” However, they noted: “The St. Lawrence Seaway didn’t pave the streets of Duluth-Superior with gold.”

Grain exports still were in full stride when Chuck Hilleren joined the Guthrie-Hubner Agency in 1973. Ship agents such as Hilleren had to hustle to keep pace with the flow of salties arriving in the Twin Ports to load grain. “You were lucky to get four to six hours of sleep per night,” he said. Hilleren said elevators at the time operated around the clock, running three eight-hour shifts, seven days per week, simply to keep abreast of business.

Much of the grain moving through the Twin Ports in the 1970s was destined for the Soviet Union, but that business collapsed after Russian soldiers invaded Afghanistan in 1979 and President Jimmy Carter declared a grain embargo. The same year dealt yet another brutal blow to business, when grain millers went on strike, idling elevators throughout the port and forcing salties to drop anchor to wait for grain. Dozens of ships were stacked up outside the harbor before the three-month strike was resolved.

Dismayed by the expensive disruption in Duluth, many shippers chose to avoid the port in coming years. Even though the strike was a one-time event, Clure said it affected business for years to come. “It gave the port a real black eye,” he said.

Adolph Ojard, today’s executive director of the Duluth Seaway Port Authority, does not expect to see the Twin Ports ever again handle the volume of grain it did in the 1970s. But he said the port continues to play a valuable role. “We still provide the Midwest with a global connection, and that’s critical in today’s environment,” Ojard said.

The seaway has opened up new and previously unimagined trade opportunities to the Twin Ports. For instance, Ojard said no one a decade ago would have predicted ore from the Iron Range would find a market in China or Algeria. But last year, more than 1 million tons of taconite pellets were shipped to those destinations.

Still, only about 60 percent of the seaway’s capacity is being used, said Collister “Terry” Johnson Jr., administrator of the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corp. In part, the unfulfilled promise of the seaway is a result of advances in transportation, Helberg said.

“Where the big hope and expectation laid was in the belief that the seaway would bring general merchandise, such as bicycles, machinery and other goods to the Twin Ports,” Helberg said. “But within a decade of the seaway opening, the world of ships and shipping changed in the most dramatic way since the invention of the steam engine. Containerization affected the flow of general cargo to our port in a very negative way.”

Containerization is the practice of placing cargo in metal boxes — typically 8 feet high by eight feet wide by 20 feet long (some are up to 53 feet) — that can be loaded onto ships, trains or trucks. Although Duluth installed equipment to handle these metal boxes, it never managed to attract much container traffic, and the specialized cranes were sold to another port.

Ojard said he believes much of the reason why containers failed to take hold on the Great Lakes is the fact that shipping shuts down for three months in the winter. He said that if global warming trends continue, it may well be plausible to offer year-round maritime service through the seaway in the future.

Another issue involves the size of the St. Lawrence Seaway system. “The locks are fixed in size, but naval architects kept building bigger and bigger ships,” Ojard said. “Now, most container ships are bigger than what the seaway system was designed for.”

Even though many of today’s container ships won’t fit in the system, Johnson of the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corp. remains optimistic about the future. Our customers — the countries that engage in saltwater business — are spending billions of dollars on seaway-sized ships,” he said. “The market is telling us it’s willing to build new ship assets that are fine for the current size of the seaway system.”

The seaway continues to provide a cost-effective means of transportation. Moving a ton of cargo by water typically consumes about one-tenth the fuel a truck would use and one-half the fuel a train would burn in an equal distance. Citing a previous study and adjusting for inflation, Johnson said the seaway saves American consumers about $3 billion per year in transportation costs. That’s assuming there would be enough capacity to shift all the cargo that moves on the seaway to land-based modes of transportation.

Ojard said the competition the seaway provides also helps keep other transportation rates in check. “Maybe we never became quite the vital international link that people originally thought that our port would be thanks to the seaway,” Ojard said. “But we’re still a valuable contributor to the economy.”

From the Duluth News-Tribune


Win a Trip on the Ryerson

A trip for four aboard the legendary Great Lakes steamboat Edward L. Ryerson is the top prize in this year's BoatNerd Freighter Trip Raffle.

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State of Michigan Raffle License # R95375


Updates - March 25

News Photo Gallery updated

Photo Gallery from the Robert S. Pierson Christening


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.


Shipping season begins in Thunder Bay

3/24 - Thunder Bay - The Coast Guard ice cutter Samuel Risley had barely arrived to clear out the harbor Saturday before the freighters docked at Keefer Terminal started clamoring to leave.

“They‘re all chasing and they‘re all ready to go,” said Dale Ryynanen. The owner of marine repair company Fabmar Metals was working at the harbor Saturday as the crew from the Wisconsin-bound Algowood was preparing to leave. “It‘s all revenue every day is money lost, that‘s why they‘re so excited to get them out of here.”

The eagerness to head out was a good thing for Gerry Dawson, tug boat operator and owner of Thunder Bay Tug Services. He and his three boats the Miseford, the Glenada, and the Point Valour headed out onto the water Saturday to help some of the ships get to their destinations.

First up on their agenda was the CSL Laurentien. The massive red freighter was destined for Superior, Wisc., and needed quite a bit of help getting turned around and pushed out through the large chunks of ice that bobbed around in the dark water.

“It would have been nice if the icebreaker made a bigger path,” said Dawson as he steered the Miseford tug toward the side of the much-larger freighter, the cold air filled with the smell of diesel fuel as the boat struggled determinedly. “There‘s no real channel for anyone to get out of here.”

Dawson said there has been an unusual amount of ice in Lake Superior this winter up to one metre, making it even more difficult for the spring shipping season to get started from both the laker and tug points of views.

“It‘s hard on the equipment when it‘s this icy,” Dawson said, pointing out the loud noises the ice makes while hitting the propellers. “One year, we did $100,000 in damage while icebreaking. We got a $50,000 deductible and we probably only made $20,000 icebreaking, so there‘s not a lot of money in it.”

However, things will get easier once the weather warms up and the ice is gone. In the summer, only one tug is usually needed to get a laker out instead of three.

For Dawson, the tug operating business he runs is a family affair. His parents owned a small company and he has been in business for the last fifteen years. One of his sons is also involved, having recently obtained his captain‘s papers for a boat smaller than the Miseford.

From the Thunder Bay Chronicle


Port Reports - March 24

Detroit - Ken Borg
On Sunday the Canadian Navigator was unloading sand at the Brennan St. Dock on the Rouge River in Detroit. H. Lee White was unloading coal at Zug Island, on the Short Cut Canal side.

Green Bay
With the Soo Locks opening on Monday night several ships departed their lay-up berth a Bay Ship Building in Sturgeon Bay. The Paul R. Tregurtha, Arthur M. Anderson, Edgar B. Speer and Charles M. Beeghly departed during the day only to be stopped by heavy ice in the bay. Monday morning they group had assembled into a convoy lead by the Mobile Bay off Washington Island.

St. Lawrence River - Ron Beaupre
At 3 p.m. Sunday, the CCGS Martha L. Black went down to Beauharnois Locks and cleared a path for the upbound convoy. CCGS Pierre Radisson is leading the Canadian Miner with the Cedarglen following as they proceed up by the Port of Valleyfield and on up the river.

Marquette - Rod Burdick
On a clear, cold Easter Sunday evening at the Upper Harbor, Mesabi Miner unloaded coal, her second visit of the new season.

DeTour - Jon Paul Michaels
The Cason J. Calloway was inbound the St. Mary's River at Detour at 11:30 p.m. Sunday night. Soo Traffic informed them that they were to proceed only as far as Pipe Island where they were to anchor for the night. The USCGC Katmai Bay would resume ice breaking at 7 a.m. Monday morning and escort the Calloway and the Agosar to the Soo.


Top Hat ceremony brings unofficial start to spring

3/24 - Goderich - Just five days shy of the vernal equinox, spring unofficially sprung in Goderich as it welcomed its first ship of the season just past midnight on March 15.

The arrival not only kicked off the annual Top Hat ceremony tradition in the Port of Goderich, it also marked the earliest arrival since the ceremony was first recorded in 1932. “Nowadays it’s the middle of March that ships are arriving; it used to be the middle of April,” Cpt. Jim Leaney of the CSL Niagara said of the shipping season’s earliest arrival. “We used to get three months off; it’s really cutting back our vacation.”

Goderich’s 2007 shipping season officially ended in February 2008, according to Goderich Mayor Deb Shewfelt. In earlier years, the season would end in its own calendar year, but due to warmer winters and less ice time, the off-season has been cut back– sometimes to just one month.

That didn’t stop Cpt. Leaney from donning his formal duds and heading up to Goderich Town Council Chambers to receive the status symbol indicative of wealth and power and steeped in tradition. Cpt. Leaney made his second signing to the ceremonial Top Hat just past noon on March 17. He was the first vessel captain to the port in on March 16, 2006– the previous recorded early arrival.

“The Top Hat Ceremony is pretty unique and [one of] the last of our oldest traditions,” Cpt. Leaney said. During his career, Leaney has taken part in more than 10 such ceremonies in places like Toronto and Windsor. [The ceremony is] hanging on; we’ve lost so many,” he added. “Years ago it was a big to-do, a race to get into port first; it was quite a thing.”

It’s good news for Goderich, said Shewfelt, indicating that the appearance of the Top Hat is more reliable than any groundhog’s shadow.

“First its Young Canada Week, then the Top Hat– that means it’s spring in Goderich,” said a jubilant Shewfelt, who has overseen about 15 Top Hat ceremonies throughout his career. “A lot of places don’t do it anymore, but we’ve been going on since 1932, probably even before that.”

During its own 76 years in service the Top Hat itself has welcomed all 76 signatures and dates on its inner rim. “There’s not a lot of room left in it,” said Shewfelt. “In the next few years we may need to think about a replacement hat and send this one to the museum.”

After a whirlwind affair with the illustrious Top Hat, Cpt Leaney returned to the CSL Niagara, which was in the midst of loading more than 30,000 tones of salt headed for Milwaukee. Cpt. Leaney speculated that the vessel would set sail from the Port of Goderich just after 1 a.m.

From the Goderich Signal Star


Coast Guard stretching to meet big to-do list

3/24 - Duluth - According to some observers, the U.S. Coast Guard is stretched too thin — with far too few resources and personnel to adequately handle all its responsibilities.

But that is changing, U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Thad Allen said Friday. The four-star admiral was in Duluth — one of several stops on a tour around the Great Lakes to meet with Coast Guard personnel and shipping industry representatives to hear what they would like to see the service do better. “He’s very open to input,” James D. Sharrow, facilities manager for the Duluth Seaway Port Authority said after Allen met with local maritime interests. “He’s working very hard. He takes it as his personal responsibility to improve any issues and problems with the Coast Guard.”

Sharrow said the biggest problems mentioned Friday concerned vessel certification and safety issues. “They [the Coast Guard] just don’t have the resources to handle all their areas of responsibility as they would like to and as well as the people in the industry would expect them to,” he said.

Rep. James Oberstar, D-Minn, who is chairman of the House’s Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said that when he entered Congress in 1975, the Coast Guard was authorized to have 39,000 people. “Thirty-four years later, we’ve added 27 new responsibilities to the Coast Guard and increased its personnel by only 3,000,” Oberstar said. “That’s an abysmally low number for the wide range of responsibilities they have. They need more people to serve the public purpose of the Coast Guard, to do both homeland security and the marine safety function.”

In a public speech in February, Allen stressed his commitment to the service’s marine safety program. It was a message he repeated Friday. The Coast Guard’s proposed budget for next year includes money for nearly 300 new marine safety positions. Currently, the service has about 500 such positions. “We have a good budget request on the Hill,” Allen said during a news conference at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center.

Increasing the number of inspectors would allow the Coast Guard to handle inspections, vessel certifications and mariner licensing in a more timely fashion. In addition to adding more inspectors and considering operational changes to improve service, the Coast Guard is planning to create centers of excellence.

Allen envisions the centers as places where inspectors will come for more training and for specialized course. For example, a center of excellence serving the Great Lakes would train inspectors on safety and vessel considerations that are largely unique to the fresh-water lakes.

From the Duluth News Tribune


Big dreams fueled the link between Great Lakes, Atlantic

3/24 - Duluth - At midnight Monday, the Soo Locks will swing into action, kicking off the Twin Ports’ 50th season on the St. Lawrence Seaway.

Davis Helberg, former director of the Duluth Seaway Port Authority, remembers May 3, 1959 — the momentous day that Duluth-Superior received its first seaway-sized ocean ship, the British-flagged Ramon De Larrinaga. At the time, he was an 18-year-old ship runner working for Alastair Guthrie, a Duluth ship agent.

“A huge crowd had gathered at Canal Park. There were fire hoses spraying and a lot of car horns honking,” he recalled. “The anticipation and excitement of the first saltie arriving was extraordinarily high,” Helberg said. “Even 50 years later, it’s still a gee-whiz moment for many people who visit Duluth to realize that there are ocean-going vessels smack dab right here in the middle of the country, almost 1,500 miles from the Atlantic.”

The St. Lawrence Seaway was a long time in the making. Efforts to fund a series of locks and dams, providing a deepwater link between the Great Lakes and the Atlantic Ocean dated to the 1890s. “There were a number of waterway associations through the years, often spearheaded by Duluthians,” Helberg said.

Even though every president from Woodward Wilson onward had publicly supported the idea of building a seaway connecting to the Great Lakes, the project repeatedly stalled in the face of opposition from powerful East port and railroad interests Helberg said. Ultimately, it was Canada that got the ball rolling, Helberg said. He explained that Canada was eager to tap its eastern iron ore reserves and ship ore to already well-established Midwestern steel mills in the United States, but this required navigational improvements to the natural waterway.

With Canada footing much of the cost of the project, Congress came around, and President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the Wiley-Dondero Act in 1954, authorizing work on the St. Lawrence Seaway to commence. The massive project required nearly five years of work and the labor of about 22,000 people to complete. It also forced the relocation of about 6,500 people from newly flooded lands in New York and Ontario.

As work on the seaway progressed, the Twin Ports began preparations, too.

Under the leadership of Arthur M. Clure, an admiralty attorney, the Duluth Port Authority was created, and land at the end of Rice’s Point was acquired for the construction of a new ship terminal. Unfortunately, Clure would not live to see the deepwater facility completed. He died at work in 1956, three years before the terminal, now named in his honor, would receive its first saltie.

In 1958, Zenith Dredge put more than 100 men to work at Rice’s Point. Together, they removed more than 1,000 cubic yards of material from the waters surrounding the terminal and sank 500-some sheet pilings 58 feet into the harbor, according to Bill Beck, a local historian and author. He writes that other improvements included the installation of two gantry cranes manufactured locally at Clyde Iron Work, the blacktopping of two miles of road, the pouring of a 2,200-foot-long ship apron and the laying of more than 9,000 feet of railroad tracks.

Tom Clure, an attorney who now serves as a Duluth Seaway Port Authority commissioner himself, remembers his father’s repeated trips to Washington, D.C., and his tireless advocacy for the construction of the St. Lawrence Seaway. Although he wishes his father could have personally witnessed the Ramon De Larrinaga’s arrival in the Twin Ports, Clure still remembers the event fondly.

“It was really gratifying in many ways,” he said. “My mother was asked to participate in the events of the day, and it meant a lot to us.” Other dignitaries on hand for the arrival of the first saltie in Duluth included Hubert H. Humphrey, Eugene McCarthy and Henry Fonda.

As more saltwater ships arrived, however, the Twin Ports were in for a rude awakening. “The port was not at all ready, despite all the years of preparation,” Helberg said. “No one had seemed to realize that ocean-going ships would ride so much higher than lakers,” he said.

Consequently, many of the salties couldn’t fit under the loading spouts of local grain elevators without first filling their ballast tanks. The ships had to load grain and then pump out ballast to negotiate their way through grain facilities, often making multiple elevator calls before they could be fully loaded. Helberg said the process was laborious and time-consuming. Often salties spent 10 days to two weeks in port before they were good to go for their return trip. “We faced a monstrous learning curve,” he said.

But the Twin Ports met the challenge. Soon, new saltie-friendly grain terminals were operating on the waterfront, enabling ships to load quickly and efficiently.

From the Duluth News Tribune


Updates - March 24

News Photo Gallery 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.


Robert S. Pierson Christened in Sarnia Saturday

3/23 - Sarnia, Ontario - The latest addition to Lower Lakes Towing Ltd., the motor vessel Robert S. Pierson, was formally christened in ceremonies early Saturday afternoon in Sarnia. A crowd of around 100 braved sub-zero wind chills but enjoyed abundant sunshine as Sandra Mathies swung the green champagne bottle against the ship's starboard bow. As the bubbly flowed down the vessel's grey hull, a three long and two short salute sounded over the harbor.

The Pierson is the former Wolverine, which last sailed for the Wisconsin-Michigan Steamship Co. She was built in 1974 and had also sailed for the Oglebay Norton Co.

Remarks were made by LLT's Frank Bravener and Scott Bravener, as well as Laurence S. Levy President and CEO of Rand Logistics, the parent company of Lower Lakes, and Grand River Navigation Co., Inc.'s Mark Rohn. who reminisced about the vessel's namesake, a friend and business partner who died last December at age 71. The blessing was given by Arch Deacon Gordon Simmons, and a reception followed at a nearby restaurant. Robert S. Pierson's three daughters, and his young grandson, were also on the christening platform.

Robert Scott Pierson was active in the Canadian shipping industry, working for Misener Transportation and, in 1975, starting his own firm, The Soo River Company. Until his passing, he worked for Lower Lakes Towing/Grand River Navigation Co. This is the second vessel to carry Pierson¹s name.

The Pierson is the first vessel in the Lower Lakes fleet to honor an individual.

Lower Lakes Towing Ltd. has also acquired the former Oglebay Norton Co. vessels, David Z, Earl W. from the Wisconsin & Michigan Steamship Co. The David Z. has been renamed Calumet, while the Earl W. has been renamed Manitowoc. Lower Lakes colors were being applied to the two boat's hulls this weekend. The fleet's other two new acquisitions, Voyageur Pioneer, which will be renamed Kaministiqua while in drydock at Sturgeon Bay this week, and Voyageur Independent, which will be renamed Ojibway, are also being repainted in Lower Lakes livery. 

The event marked a year of substantial growth for Lower Lakes, transitioning from a small private company to a public company that has almost doubled in size over the last year.   The company started 14 years ago with a single tug and barge, today the fleet totals 12 vessels.

Pictures from the Christening


First vessel of season leaves Erie

3/23 - Erie, PA - The steamship Cason J. Callaway left the Port of Erie on Friday evening and crept through the icy waters of Lake Erie to begin a new shipping season.

Another vessel, the tug-barge Presque Isle, won't be far behind. It is tentatively set to leave at noon Saturday, although its departure could be delayed. Both vessels were in port for winter lay-up to get routine maintenance.

The Callaway will be going to Two Harbors, Minn., to load iron-ore pellets and then travel to Lake Michigan, according to the Great Lakes Fleet/Key Lakes Co., which owns both the Callaway and the Presque Isle. The Presque Isle will be heading to Two Harbors to load iron ore and then continue on to Conneaut, Ohio.

The Callaway, which is 767 feet long, arrived for lay-up in mid-January. The vessel was worked on by Erie Shipbuilding Co. and by Carmeuse Lime & Stone, Erie Dock Operation (formerly Erie Sand and Gravel Co.), along with Great Lakes Electric Service and other specialty vendors.

Tod Eagleton, services manager for Carmeuse Lime & Stone, said the maintenance included work on the ship's steel, unloading and propulsion systems, boilers, electrical and navigation systems as well as safety upgrades. Similar work was done on the Presque Isle, he said. "The work helped to keep our employment steady throughout the winter as well as provide additional jobs and sales to local companies in the Erie area," he said.

Erie Shipbuilding Co. officials could not be reached for comment.

The Callaway was berthed at Carmeuse Lime & Stone's Parade Street Dock. The Presque Isle, a 1,000-footer, has been berthed at the port's main terminal facility. The tub-barge was built here in the early 1970s.

The lake is probably 70-80 percent covered with ice, said Jon Webster, chief of the Erie Coast Guard Station. In some spots the ice is 4 to 6 inches thick and in others 1 to 2 inches thick, he said. "It's starting to break up," he said.

A Great Lakes Fleet/Key Lakes Co. official said the ice can present problems at times for the vessels, and Coast Guard ice breakers provide assistance.

From the Erie Times-News


Port Reports - March 23

Twin Ports - Al Miller
Indiana Harbor left its layup dock early Saturday to load at Midwest Energy Terminal. The vessel departed through the Duluth ship canal shortly before 5 p.m. bound for Silver Bay, Minn.
Elsewhere in port, Roger Blough and Edwin H. Gott both had taken on some ballast and appeared to be getting ready for departure. In Fraser Shipyards, it appeared the motors are running on St. Clair and steam is up on Edward L. Ryerson, which is resplendent in a new coat of paint.
Late Saturday afternoon, shipyard workers were about halfway through painting the "Canada Steamship Lines" billboard lettering on the starboard side of Frontenac. The port side is still speckled with primer, and the deckside unloader housing remains shrouded in canvas.

Thunder Bay - Rob Farrow
Samuel Risley arrived Saturday and began breaking a path to the boats at Keefer Terminals. The first boat out for the new season was the CSL Laurentien followed by the Atlantic Huron, both apparently headed for Silver Bay, MN.

Cheboygan - Brent Michaels
The USCGC Hollyhock completed replacement of the blade seals, and departed Cheboygan around noon Saturday.

Toledo - Jim Hoffman
The Algosoo finished loading coal and departed from the CSX Dock around 6:30 p.m. Saturday. The H. Lee White is the next scheduled boat to load coal she will be working her way downriver from her lay-up berth at the old Interlake Iron Dock to the CSX Dock. When the White is finished the next scheduled boat to load will be the Rt. Hon. Paul J. Martin followed by the new Calumet. The Calumet is in port and will be waiting to load coal. The heavy snowfall Friday evening has delayed the coal loading process and most likely will take several days to load the boats that are waiting in port. The current schedule still has the Herbert C. Jackson as the first scheduled ore boat due into the Torco Ore Dock on April 2.

St. Lawrence River - Ron Walsh
The USCG Penobscot Bay is in the upper St. Lawrence River and has broken an ice track out to Cape Vincent. Seaway Clayton had to call her and remind her that she was doing 10.1 knots in an 8.5 knot zone. She was at Cape Vincent at 3:50 p.m. and gave an eta of 6 p.m. to meet the CSL Tadoussac in Prince Edward Bay. She hoped to break ice for the Tadoussac into Picton Saturday night. They gave a tentative eta of 8 p.m. for the dock in Picton.
Seaway Clayton and Sodus formerly used channel 13 for their traffic control but they are testing channel 12 to see if it will work instead. Channel 13 is used for traffic on the New York State Barge Canal and there was interference with the Seaway traffic.

Seaway - Ron Beaupre
The first upbound ship Canadian Miner was already above the St. Lambert lock. Behind her is Cedarglen.
At 7 a.m. Saturday, the CCGS Martha L. Black and USCG Penobscot Bay were entering the Snell Lock. They planned to cut a track through the ice in Lake St. Lawrence.

South Chicago - Brian Z.
Canada Steamship's CSL Niagara loaded a cargo of petroleum coke at KCBX Terminal in South Chicago on Saturday. Loading was completed at 0930 and 2 G-tugs assisted her out onto Lake Michigan.

Detroit River - Ken Borg
On Saturday, CSL Assiniboine was down bound at Windmill Point at 4:15 p.m. and the Cason J. Callaway was up bound at 4:33 p.m.
The Assiniboine turned around off new LaFarge Cement dock and backed down the river to the Canadian Salt co, dock in Ojibway.
The Voyageur Independent still in winter lay-up at the Morterm dock in Ojibway, Ont. Her name has been removed and most of her hull has been painted grey. She has her new stack markings on.
The Maritime Trader is still at the ADM dock in Ojibway. no changes to her.


Another Icebreaking Journey Begins

3/23 - Manitowoc - Malcolm Marine’s tug Manitou is getting ready to depart Manitowoc, WI with a cargo ultimately headed for Nigeria.

The Manitou will be getting underway Saturday night pushing Ryba Marine’s barge loaded with two 30-foot diameter spools of plastic pipe headed for the Nigerian offshore oil fields. The Manitou will be taking the load as far as Montreal where it will be loaded on a ship to head overseas. The pipe is a prototype designed to replace steel pipe; it will be placed on the ocean floor with the advantages of longer life and being easier to install.

The Manitou arrived in Manitowoc on Monday and has been waiting on the cargo to be loaded and secured. The pipe was built in the old Manitowoc Crane facility. The heavy ice last weekend in the Straits were no problem for the Manitou and her Captain, Dave Malcolm, expects more heavy ice enroute to Montreal.

Manitou is a former Coast Guard icebreaker and her captain and crew have over 35 years experience in icebreaking on the Great Lakes. They had just returned from a trip from her homeport in Port Huron to Erie, PA, where they were chosen to do this job, due to the heavy ice conditions on the lakes.

The Manitou encountered heavy ice in Lake Erie on her way to assist the Michipicoten into the drydock in Erie, the ice conditions at the drydock required a tug.

The ship taking the pipe overseas will be waiting when the Manitou arrives in Montreal, Capt. Dave and the rest of the Manitou’s crew will be making their way through the ice to deliver the cargo on time.

Malcolm Marine News Release


Updates - March 23

News Photo Gallery 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 side-wheel 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.


Seaway Opening

3/22 - The Montreal to Lake Ontario section of the Seaway opens Saturday at 8 a.m. The first upbound ship,  the Canadian Miner, was already above the St. Lambert Lock at 6:30 a.m. Following the Miner is the Cedarglen.

The Welland Canal open with the passage of the Canadian Progress on March 20 and the Soo Locks open on March 25.

By Ron Beaupre


Coast Guard Opens St. Marys River for Season

3/22 - Sault Ste. Marie - A Coast Guard official on Thursday said the annual channel breakout in advance of the shipping season start has gone well, despite much heavier ice this winter and one fewer icebreaker to do the work.

Mark Gill, coordinator of the Coast Guard's Operation Taconite, said icebreakers are reporting considerably more ice cover with thicker ice formations on area channels this year. He said this winter's ice crop is the “...second largest ice accumulation in the last 12 years.” This year's breakout contrasts sharply with last March, when the various icebreakers made quick work of all channels from the Straits of Mackinac to Whitefish and beyond.

Gill said the big icebreaker Mackinaw will be taking a day off from the ice Friday after a solid week of ice work on Whitefish Bay. Mackinaw is berthed at Base Sault today for sewage pump out and fueling before returning to Whitefish to re-join the annual fight with the ice. Gill said Mackinaw successfully shepherded some 21 miles of ice out of Whitefish with the help of strong easterly winds last week. He said the new icebreaker is particularly adept at clearing large expanses of fast ice ... with appropriate help from the wind.

As it stood on Thursday as Mackinaw moved in toward Base Sault, the bay ice edge that was off Whitefish Point last week has moved east to Isle Parisienne, well within the bay.

Gill said breakout work continues on the lower St. Marys River, where the Bay-Class tug Katmai Bay is shouldering much of the breakout work as usual. In a week of work on the lower river, Gill said icebreakers have opened channels wide enough for thousand footers below Mud Lake. He said set tracks are holding below Mud Lake for shipping traffic in both directions. Gill said the ice edge on the lower St. Marys is up to Round Island after a week of “flushing” by Katmai Bay there.

On Monday, he said Katmai Bay and Biscayne Bay will open the West Neebish Channel between Neebish Island and Barbeau in advance of Tuesday's opening of the Soo Locks.

Among the fleet of icebreakers at work on various area channels, St. Ignace-based Biscayne Bay has likely put the most miles beneath her keel. Initially assigned to assist with breakout in Duluth-Superior, the down bound Bay-Class tug is currently headed for the Straits of Mackinac and a breakout assignment on the Grays Reef Channel and approaches to Beaver Island farther down on Lake Michigan. Biscayne is due back up the St. Marys on Monday to assist in the West Neebish breakout.

Katmai Bay has also seen some different territory in the last few weeks, Gill said. The Sault-based tug was dispatched to Lake Erie for breakout around ports down there before returning to the St. Marys for the same chore here. Normally assigned to assist on the river, Gill said the tug Mobile Bay has kept mainly to home waters on Green Bay, where she is breaking out tracks in and out of Sturgeon Bay for commercial ships making ready for the season start.

“We've got more ice than we have cutters,” Gill said. One or two more icebreakers will join the fleet starting today. The Canadian icebreaker Samuel Risley is due upbound for Thunder Bay sometime this afternoon. And, Gill hopes to have the Cleveland-based tug Neah Bay in the St. Marys for the first several days of the new shipping season next week.

He said the St. Marys River and Whitefish Bay will shortly be as ready as they can be for the shipping start on Tuesday. Asked if he anticipates trouble when commercial ships return to the river, Whitefish Bay and the Straits, Gill hedged somewhat - saying he anticipates early arrivals may need assistance in the still-tight ice formations.

While the icebreakers have had their work cut out this time around, Gill rated ice conditions as slightly more difficult than in average years. This year's build-up breaks a string of several consecutive mild winters, blurring the meaning of an “average winter” in the north country.

The shipping season begins a minute after midnight on Tuesday, when the Poe Lock opens for business.

By Jack Story for the Soo Evening News


Port Reports - March 22

Toledo - Jim Hoffman
The Algosoo was still loading coal at the CSX Dock,on Friday. She is waiting for coal that is in transit to the dock site. Unknown when her departure will be.
The H. Lee White and Rt. Hon. Paul J. Martin are the next boats scheduled to load coal. The Martin arrived at Toledo Friday morning and is docked near the CSX Docks, the H. Lee White remains at her layup berth at the old Interlake Dock just north of the Shipyard.
The latest schedule has the new Calumet due into the CSX Docks late Friday evening. She will most likely follow after the H. Lee White and Rt. Hon. Paul J. Martin are finished loading there coal cargoes.
All the vessels that are in winter layup at this port are in various stages of fitting out and should be out sailing within the next week or two.

Cheboygan - Jon Paul Michaels
The tug Michigan and barge Great Lakes departed the BP Tank Facility after unloading their cargo of gasoline Thursday morning. They were outbound at the Cheboygan Crib Lt. at 7:20am and an hour later they made contact with the USCGC Mobile Bay which is keeping the track open through the Straits of Mackinaw and Round Island Passage. The Mobile Bay reported that the track was loose and passable from several miles east of Round Island Passage to just past White Shoal Light in Northern Lake Michigan were open water starts.

Hamilton - Eric Holmes
Saturday the Canadian Navigator departed Eastport Pier 26 with slag for Detroit at 5 p.m. after unknown problems at the Burlington Lift Bridge were solved. The tug John Spence and barge McAsphalt 401 arrived at 6 p.m. going to Pier 12E. Their next port is Sarnia in ballast.

Seaway - Ron Beaupre
Friday morning the ice breakers CCGS Martha L. Black and USCG Penobscot Bay reached the Iroquois Lock. After a tandem lockage the pair secured to the wall above the lock where a transfer of fuel oil took place from the Black to the Penobscot Bay as she was getting low on fuel. Afterward the pair of icebreakers proceeded to the Canadian Coast Guard Base at Prescott to spend the night before proceeding up to Lake Ontario.

Port Huron -
CSL Assiniboine was down bound out of Lake Huron late Friday. She spent the night in the ice field in lower Lake Huron, about 10 miles north of the Blue Water Bridges. Bristol Bay was preparing to get underway, from the Hollyhock dock, at 7 am Saturday morning to escort her down.

Sandusky -
Halifax continues to load Friday at the NS Coal Dock.

Alpena - Ben & Chanda McClain
On Friday the Alpena had a lengthy stay in port. It came in before 9 am and tied up at Lafarge to load under the silos. It looked to be backing away around 1 pm, but was later seen still at the dock. She was finally outbound on a peaceful evening where it passed the tug Samuel de Champlain/barge Innovation around 8 pm, which was on its way in.


Grants Fund lighthouse projects

3/22 - Lansing, MI - Eight lighthouse projects across Michigan will get more than $215,800 in grants in hopes of preserving the state's maritime history.

Lighthouses receiving grants ranging from $6,000 to $40,000 include the Sand Point Lighthouse on Lake Michigan, Whitefish Point Light Tower on Lake Superior and the Cheboygan River Front Range Light on Lake Huron. The grants are part of the Michigan Lighthouse Assistance Program in the State Historic Preservation Office.

The money comes from the sale of Save Our Lights license plates. The Secretary of State's office said 14,337 lighthouse plates have been sold since April 2001.

William Anderson, director of the Department of History, Arts and Libraries, said, "With more lighthouses than any other state in the nation, Michigan has an opportunity to build upon these communities' character and unique sense of place. Each license plate that you see on the road represents a commitment by that car owner to the preservation of the picturesque lighthouses that define the Great Lakes State."

The program was established in 1999 to preserve and rehabilitate lighthouses after the U.S. Coast Guard destroyed more than 70 lighthouses.
Martha MacFarlane-Faes, the lighthouse project manager at the State Historic Preservation Office, said, "Michigan is defined by our Great Lakes and these are significant structures unique to our heritage."

One of the eight lighthouses benefiting from the grants - the Sand Point Lighthouse in Delta County - will get $6,000. It's been a staple of the northern Lake Michigan shoreline since 1867. Located in what was once the iron capital of the world, it guided ships into the deep-water harbor in Escanaba.

The Delta County Historical Society maintains it as a maritime museum, and it's one of the few remaining lighthouses with a Fresnel lens. Here, the public is allowed to climb into the tower and view the lens, as well as look out over the city, the harbor and Little Bay de Noc. In addition to the lighthouse, the grounds include a restored boathouse with a Coast Guard surfboat and dock, and an exhibit dedicated to the work of the Coast Guard in the surrounding waters.

Clara Mosenfelder, the grants administrator of the Delta County Historical Society, said the new money will be used to hire an architect to prepare plans and specifications for the restoration of gutters, downspouts and improved drainage around the lighthouse. The lighthouse is experiencing water problems that are destroying its masonry.

The Whitefish Point Light Tower, the first lighthouse constructed and put into service on Lake Superior, will get $40,000.

Tom Farnquist, executive director of the Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society, said, as the oldest active light on the lake, "It's in desperate need of painting which, includes carefully removing decades of lead paint." The total cost to paint the lighthouse is estimated at $100,000.

Each lighthouse awarded a grant is responsible for matching 50 percent of the amount. The lighthouses hold fundraisers and collect dues, along with contributions, to raise the money. Farnquist said matching funds are still being sought for the Whitefish Point Light Tower, but the society agreed to a 50 percent match and has until spring 2009 to raise the funds. Both the Sand Point and Cheboygan lighthouses have met the matching requirement.

MacFarlane-Faes said, "These grants are crucial for the groups and organizations that maintain these lighthouses. The need every penny they can get to maintain these viable tourists destinations."

Terry Pepper, executive director of the Great Lakes Lighthouse Keepers Association in Mackinaw City, said the association is taking on the task of restoring the Cheboygan River Front Range Light. The lighthouse was built in 1880 as part of a pair of lights designed to guide mariners into the Cheboygan River. The other, the rear range light, is behind it. Pepper said, "The U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker Mackinaw still uses these range lights to find her way up the dredged channel every time she returns to her home berth in Cheboygan, as does the Bois Blanc Island Ferry, and the Durocher and Ryba Marine tugs which operate out of the river."

"We feel it is critical that the word be spread as widely as possible about the condition of our wonderful Great Lakes lighthouses and the challenges, both physical and financial, faced in their restoration and preservation," Pepper said. The $21,000 grant awarded to the lighthouse will be used to reinforce its deteriorated timber frame, repair windowsills, and restore the lantern room exterior and walkway surface of the observation deck.

Other lighthouses receiving grants are the Grand Traverse Light Station on Lake Michigan, the DeTour Reef Light Station on Lake Huron, the Ontonagon Harbor Lighthouse on Lake Superior, Old Mission Point Lighthouse on Lake Michigan and Charlevoix South Pier Lighthouse, also on Lake Michigan.

From the Capital News Service


Updates - March 22

News Photo Gallery 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.


Canadian Progress opens the Welland Canal

3/21 - St. Catharines - Captain Randy Smith twirled his top hat in his hands and grinned.

His vessel, the Canadian Progress, made the first trip of the season through the Welland Canal Thursday. Smith was visibly pleased to receive and sign the traditional top hat, a canal-opening tradition since 1947.

But Smith had more reasons to smile, like a canal opening that ties last year for the earliest date on record. Or the big piles of melting snow.

“We have to tread carefully and not overload the ships when water levels are low,” said Smith, who has plied the Great Lakes for 29 years. “We had good snowfall (this winter) and Lake Superior seems to be up. I’m led to believe levels will be a little higher this year.”

That would be good news for the entire shipping industry, said Pat Loduca, president of Upper Lakes Group Inc., which owns the Canadian Progress. “Obviously, low water levels affect how much we can carry,” said Loduca.

The Canadian Progress carried abut 27,000 metric tonnes of coal through the canal Thursday. If water levels were higher, the vessel would be capable of carrying more than 28,000 tonnes, said Loduca. “The snow we’ve seen should help,” he said Thursday. “Maybe not so much in raising levels, but ensuring they don’t drop further.”

Low water levels can make port navigation and loading a hassle, too, said Smith. The vessel had no problems maneuvering into Lock 3 Thursday, where dozens of ship watchers gathered.

Both Lock 2 and Lock 3 sported new looks and technology for the start of the season, said Richard Corfe, president of the St. Lawrence Seaway management Corp. Both locks were retrofitted this winter to open and close using hydraulic power in the fourth canal’s 76th anniversary year. With the planned conversion of Locks 1 and 8 during the winter of 2008 / 2009, all of the Welland Canal’s locks will benefit from this technology, which promises to lower long term maintenance costs.

The first ship of the season also glided by ongoing work at Lock 1 and 2, where two hydro power plants are under construction. The powerhouses at weirs 1 and 2 are expected to be in-service by late September 2008. The construction of the generating station at weir 3 is slated to start during the winter of 2009 and to be in-service by September 2009.

The Progress later climbed the mountain in Thorold, where a separate ceremony was held at the Lock 7 Tourism Centre. Lock 7 is the focus of efforts to dramatically revise the means by which ships transit the canal. A ‘vacuum mooring’ prototype will be installed this year to further advance development of a technology that successfully completed operating trials at Lock 8 last year. Complemented by laser range finding equipment to enable a master to accurately gauge the vessel’s approach into the lock, the hands-free mooring system has the potential to streamline much of the manual labour currently required during a lock transit.

The first canal transit also occurred on the first day of spring, although the temperature was chilly. The canal opening is usually “a harbinger of spring and better weather to come,” said St. Catharines Mayor Brian McMullan at the ceremony. McMullan praised the shipping canal as an environmentally-friendly source of prosperity for the region.

“The impact of (the canal) on our community is great,” he said. “It helps define our community.”

From the St. Catharines Standard and Seaway Press Release


Cement Barge Hits St. Joe Bridge

3/21 - St. Joseph, MI - The Coast Guard is investigating a collision with a CSX railroad bridge that occurred Wednesday afternoon on the St. Joseph River in Michigan, causing an unspecified amount of damage to the bridge.

The barge Innovation and tug Samuel De Champlain apparently collided with the CSX railroad swing bridge en-route the Lafarge cement dock in St. Joseph, Mich. Operated by Andrie Inc., the integrated tug and barge is 583 feet in length and is designed to carry dry cement.

USCG News Release


Port Reports - March 21

Toledo - Jim Hoffman
The Algosoo arrived at the CSX Coal Docks early Thursday afternoon and is scheduled to load coal around 6 p.m. The Algosoo will be the first coal boat of the 2008 season for this dock site.
Scheduled to follow will be the H. Lee White and Rt. Hon. Paul J. Martin on Friday.
The new Calumet (ex David Z) is scheduled on Saturday evening. If the current boat schedule, holds the new Calumet is presently fitting out at the Canada Starch Dock at Port Colborne, Ontario and its possible her trip to Toledo will be her maiden voyage under her new name.
The current schedule has the Herbert C. Jackson being the first ore boat of the season due into the Torco Ore Dock on Wednesday,  April 2.
Weather, ice conditions, and dock delays can change the vessels expected and their arrival times to this dock site.

Goderich - Dale Baechler
Halifax departed he lay up berth in Goderich on Thursday at 9 a.m.

St. Lawrence River - Kent Malo
The USCGC Penobscot and the CCGS Martha L Black cleared a path from St Lambert to Beauharnois, working in unison along with the Ocean Group tug Laprairie. The latter will keep the broken ice flowing over the spillways. The two icebreakers were presently working below Beauharnois and in lock 3.
The Louis St. Laurent left Quebec City Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. for Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, to go to the aid of the Marine Atlantic ferry Caribou. The St Laurent was refueling at Quebec City after arriving from the Saguenay river and Port Alfred, where she was working. The St. Laurent has been in the Port Alfred, Quebec, area helping vessels that frequent the Alcan smelter at Grand Baie, Quebec.
At 7 a.m. Friday the CCGS Martha L. Black and USCG Penobscot Bay are entering the Snell Lock. They will cut a track through the ice in Lake St. Lawrence today.

Port Huron -
The Bristol Bay met the Halifax above the Blue Water Bridges around 5:30 p.m. Thursday and escorted the down bound Halifax through the ice field in the lower end of Lake Huron. It was after 9 p.m. before the Halifax was down to buoys 7 and 8. She estimated another half hour to 1 and 2, which are just above the bridges.

Welland Canal - Bill Bird
Canadian Progress of Upper Lakes Shipping opened the 2008 navigation season on the Welland Canal Thursday morning. Receiving the first top hat in his 14 years as skipper was Captain Randy Smith from Ravenna, Ontario. But it wasn't supposed to happen. The Cuyahoga was tabbed as the first upbound transit of the season. Cuyahoga had mechanical problems and remained at her berth in Hamilton. Canadian Progress which had wintered at Seaway Marine and Industrial (formerly Port Weller Dry Docks) was a last minute change. The Progress was on her way to Ashtabula for a load of coal for the power plant at Nanticoke. CSL Tadoussac was the first downbound transit in the canal. As the canal opened, only the east (downbound) side of the flight locks was operational. A work scow remained in Lock 5 West and was expected to be towed away later in the day. 2008 marks the second year of testing of the hands free mooring system. It began in Lock 8 last year with one unit and this season, The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation will try two units in Lock 7. Basically it consists of two large suction cups on top of a floating tank. Once attached to a ship the apparatus slides up or down as the vessel is being raised or lowered. The idea is to eventually have the ships not have to use mooring lines while in the lock. It's hoped the hands free system will make things safer and speed up passages. The testing is not expected to begin at Lock 7 until May.

Hamilton - Eric Holmes
The Peter R Cresswell departed winter lay up from Eastport Pier 26 at 6:30 p.m. in ballast for Bowmanville Ontario.


Spring Icebreaking in Quebec

3/21 - The Canadian Coast Guard will begin spring icebreaking operations at the entrance of the St. Lawrence Seaway, on the north and south shores of Lake St. Louis and in Bay Des Cascades on or about Thursday, March 20, 2008.

The purpose of this yearly operation is to dislodge the ice at the mouth of the river's tributaries in order to prevent ice jams and flooding that may result from the spring break-up. The operation will be carried out by the icebreaker CCGS Martha L. Black and by a Canadian Coast Guard hovercraft.

Canadian Coast Guard News Release


Soo Locks Visitor Center to be open for Opening Day

3/21 - Sault Ste. Marie - The Soo Locks Visitors Center will have the doors open on March 25, 2008, from 9:00am - 5:00pm, celebrating the first day of ships passing through the locks.

The building will be warm and members of the Soo Locks Visitors Center Association will be on hand to meet, greet, and chat with visitors. Stop in and visit with us.

SLVCA News Release


Hannah Marine Reduces Emissions Fleetwide

3/21 - Lemont, IL - Hannah Maritime Corporation, operator of the largest US-Flagged liquid bulk fleet on the Great Lakes, has committed to enhancing its already green operations. The fleet is constantly updated to meet or exceed American Bureau of Shipping and U.S. Coast Guard requirements and will now include additional fuel maintenance equipment to decrease exhaust gasses by 10% and particulate emissions (soot) by an estimated 50%. By increasing fuel quality on board, Hannah also hopes to see a 3-5% decrease in fuel consumption.

For more than half a century, Hannah Marine has moved liquid and dry bulk cargo along the inland waterways and throughout the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway. The company has committed to reducing its environmental impact by installing Algae-X fuel conditioning equipment on its tug boats and barges. “Our customers rely on our knowledge, experience, and efficiency to move their cargo,” said Marty Shanahan, Controller for Hannah Marine. “The fuel conditioning units supplied by Diesel Fuel Doctor help increase our efficiency and reduce the environmental impact of our equipment.”

Hannah Marine operates more than 20 vessels ranging in size from 86 to 407 feet.

Hannah News Release


Ahead of her time:
Woman, 94, remembers earlier life as a fireman on Lake Michigan boat

3/21 - ONALASKA, Wis. — The path Lois Gollnick took to becoming the only female fireman on a steam-jet boat that sailed Lake Michigan was one of independence.

“I liked the freedom of being able to do what I wanted to do when I wanted to do it,” she said. “I could never see myself keeping a home.” Gollnick, 94, lives at the Onalaska Care Center, but in 1945 she fired the engine of the steam-jet boat Fry’s Fantasy by throwing coal briquettes into the boat’s boiler on its maiden voyage across Lake Michigan.

“My boss, who designed it, was a real steam engine nut,” she said. Clark LoRell Fry owned Necedah Novelty, a toy maker in Necedah, Wis., and in 1933 Gollnick went to work for him as a secretary. She had taken some secretarial classes at a vocational school, and she jumped at the chance to earn some money at a time when jobs were scarce.

“I was going to stay until school started, but I ended up staying until he died many years later,” she said. She spent her days in a 12-by-12-foot plywood office, with Fry pacing back and forth giving dictation while chain-smoking cigarettes. She also would sometimes run the sander, drill press or hand saw in the factory to help out with the production of hand paddle balls, games and children’s furniture.

When the war began, Fry closed his Necedah factory and moved the company to Chicago, where he turned his focus to mining. Gollnick followed her boss to Illinois, where she continued to work as his secretary.

In the early 1940s, Fry heard a speech by Philippines President Manuel Quezon asking for shallow draft boats to help protect his islands. Fry came back to Chicago determined to build a steam-jet boat to help Quezon. “He built that boat as part of his war effort,” Gollnick said. Completed in 1945, the boat was christened Fry’s Fantasy.

Fry initially rejected the idea that Gollnick fire the engine, but when the man chosen for the job was sick on the day of the maiden sailing, Gollnick got her chance. Although Fry thought the job of hurling charcoal out of paper bags through the open boiler door was too dangerous, she didn’t agree.

“I didn’t think it was dangerous,” she said. “I just wanted all that steel and metal to float.” It did float, but not long after that first voyage across Lake Michigan, the war ended. The boat ended up being used for recreational purposes, never making it to the Philippines.

The men Gollnick worked with — from the toy factory to the boat construction and beyond — were her family, she said. “I almost got married a couple of times,” she said. “But the job was so interesting, I never wanted to quit.”

Rhonda Hoeth, recreation therapy assistant and volunteer coordinator at Onalaska Care Center, has heard Gollnick talk about about her experiences. “She’s so proud of the things she used to do. She was never married, so she got to do a lot for that day and age,” Hoeth said.

“I do feel real proud,” Gollnick said. “I don’t think of it as my being a strong woman. I just enjoyed it.”

From the LaCrosse Tribune


'Shipwreck!': Treasure exhibit opens

3/21 - Detroit - The New Detroit Science Center becomes a treasure chest on Saturday when its new exhibit opens. "Shipwreck! Pirates & Treasure' will include more than 50,000 pieces of gold and silver and 14,000 artifacts recovered five years ago from 1,700 feet below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean.

Almost all of the artifacts were culled from the SS Republic, perhaps the greatest shipwreck during the Civil War era, but there will be local treasure as well. Check out artifacts recovered from the Great Lakes region. The exhibit, open through Sept. 1, will also immerse museum-goers into the research and recovery process.

The museum is open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays, 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday at 5020 John R, Detroit. Admission: $15.95, $13.95 ages 2-12. Info: 313-577-8400.

From the Detroit Free Press


Updates - March 21

News 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.


Canadian Progress Opens Welland Canal

3/20  10 a.m. Update - The Canadian Progress of the Upper Lakes Group was scheduled to open the Welland Canal for the 2008 Shipping Season today. The ship was at the South Wall of Lock 2 at 9:35 a.m. and gave an ETA for Bridge 4 at 9:50 a.m. In opening the Welland Canal today the Canadian Progress ties the earliest opening of the Welland Canal set on March 20, 2007. The last time that a ULS ship opened the Welland Canal was in 2001 when the Canadian Century (now John D. Leitch) opened the waterway and canal connecting Lake Erie to Lake Ontario.

Also, with the Canadian Progress opening the Welland Canal for the 2008 season, it also marks an historic milestone in her career as 2008 will be her 40th season on the Great Lakes and in 2007, her owners ULS Group also celebrated their 75th anniversary as well.


Icebreaker Pulled from Seaway to Assist Stranded Ferry

3/20 - Nova Scotia - About 170 passengers were stuck on a ferry off the coast of Cape Breton for a second day Wednesday as a Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker steamed toward the area to try to free it.

The Louis St. Laurent diverted from icebreaking duties off Quebec City to head toward North Sydney, N.S., where a Marine Atlantic ferry was idling offshore.

Thick ice and gusting winds were preventing the passenger ferry from getting into the ice-clogged port, said Tara Laing, a Marine Atlantic spokeswoman. "What we really need at this point in time is for the winds to change direction to take the pressure off the ice,'' she said.

The ferry Caribou left Port aux Basques, N.L., early Tuesday and ran into problems just a few kilometres offshore from Cape Breton.

Mike Bonin of the coast guard said the St. Laurent came from Quebec because other icebreakers were tied up on other missions and is better suited to the task because it's the heaviest in their fleet.

Another icebreaker, Sir William Alexander, was near northwest Cape Breton and headed to the area after being called to assist, but had mechanical problems. Bonin said the St. Laurent is expected to arrive on site sometime Thursday morning.

Laing said another passenger ferry, the Leif Ericson, was finally able to leave Cape Breton on Wednesday after arriving in port Monday. It wasn't able to unload cars because the wharf it docked at did not have the necessary equipment.

From CTV Canada


Ice causes concern
Ships could find going slow in Lake Huron

3/20 Port Huron - Coast Guard officials on both sides of the St. Clair River are concerned vessels bound for Lake Huron may become stuck in ice as the shipping season resumes in coming days. The official start of the shipping season is this week, with the lower St. Lawrence River locks opening Thursday and the Soo Locks opening March 25.

Sam Babisky, superintendent of operations for the Sarnia Coast Guard, said there's still a lot of ice in the narrow shipping channel known as the Huron Cut, which begins north of the St. Clair River. "That ice there is blown off the shore," Babisky said. "There's hundreds if not thousands of square miles of the ice pack."

Chief Warrant Officer Christopher Shultis, with U.S. Coast Guard Sector Detroit, said the ice flows extend to Goderich, Ontario, which is about 50 nautical miles from Port Huron and Sarnia.

One of the earliest incidents of the shipping season occurred Sunday and continued into early Monday when the freighter CSL Assiniboine, loaded in Windsor and headed for Chicago, got stuck for hours in ice jams just north of the bridge. Babisky said the Assiniboine was "fully advised of the ice conditions and that he might not be able to (make it through)" before entering the Huron Cut late Sunday afternoon. It wasn't until late that night that the Canadian Coast Guard's Samuel Risley could get down to Goderich on the eastern shore of Lake Huron across from Saginaw Bay to assist the stuck freighter.

The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Hollyhock was docked in Cheboygan for repairs, Shultis said. By late Monday morning, the Assiniboine had been freed and was on its way north.

This time of year, Babisky said, there are "more (commercial) ships than resources to break the ice, and we make priorities" for ships containing fuel, for instance. Had the CSL Assiniboine been transporting petroleum, it would have been accompanied by an icebreaker, Shultis said.

From the Port Huron Times Herald


Winds Could Make Huron Cut Worse

3/20 - Port Huron - North winds expected Wednesday could be problematic for ships navigating the lower end of Lake Huron.

Canadian Coast Guard ice surface specialist Ron Morrow says a significant amount of pack ice in southern Lake Huron extends from Goderich, Ontario, to Sarnia, Ontario.

Morrow expects ice to jam up at the entrance to the St. Clair River. He says ice breakers have been helping some ships through the heavy ice just north of the Blue Water Bridge.

The upbound CSL Assiniboine spent Sunday afternoon and night battling heavy ice and wasn't able to transit the area with out escort from the Samuel Risley. The Yankcanuck became stuck traveling downbound on Tuesday. It took the icebreaking efforts of the Bristol Bay to pass through the ice.



Port Reports - March 20

Welland Canal - Charlie Gibbons
The tug Vigilant 1 was breaking ice in the Welland Canal Wednesday, preparing Thursday's Canal opening.

Toronto - Charlie Gibbons
Unloading of Canadian Leader was completed late Saturday night and she was returned to her lay-up berth at Pier 51 by McKeil's tugs.

St. Lawrence River - Ron Beaupre
At 7 a.m. Wednesday morning the icebreakers CCGS Martha L Black and USCG Penobscot Bay were approaching St. Lambert Lock upbound. They planned to cut a track all the way up the St. Lawrence River to Lake Ontario. There is heavy ice in several areas of the river.
Wednesday, the icebreakers CCGS Martha L Black and USCG Penobscot Bay worked in the South Shore Canal from St. Lambert Lock to Cote St. Catherine Lock. The two icebreakers are still working around Lock 2 on Thursday morning.

Twin Ports - Al Miller
The Mesabi Miner arrived back in Superior on Wednesday afternoon to load its second cargo of coal for the season. The vessel was expected to depart overnight for Taconite Harbor. Her first trip of the season was to Marquette. Despite several inches of snow, temperatures in the Twin Ports have been relatively mild, and it appears the icebreaking done by the Alder is holding up with only minor re-freezing. The Miner’s next load is set for Saturday, to be delivered to Presque Isle near Marquette.
Indiana Harbor is scheduled to load at Midwest Energy Terminal on Saturday, followed by Algowood on Sunday.
The Algowood will be coming down from its lay-up berth at Thunder Bay.


Unusual ore deal gains Sault Ste. Marie nod

3/20 - Sault Ste. Marie - Another unusual proposal from Algoma Steel may transform the essentially unused Carbide Dock into a money-maker for the city, according to a report from City Manager Spencer Nebel, circulated earlier this week.

According to Nebel, Algoma Steel approached the city about use of the Carbide Dock to temporarily store European iron ore carried upbound to Sault Ste. Marie by saltwater ships. Very unusual in the ore trade, the European ore would apparently be used to feed a second blast furnace Algoma plans to re-start this year. Algoma Steel normally receives its ore from Cleveland Cliffs mines across Lake Superior in the Marquette area.

In Nebel's report, he said a number of saltwater ships would bring the pelletized and cubed ore to Sault, Mich. for temporary storage at the Carbide Dock - if the proposal becomes a done deal. Since Saltwater ships are not self-unloading vessels as a class, each of the ships would be laboriously unloaded over a period of 2-3 days by crane. When the need arises, the ore would be reloaded on a Great Lakes self-unloading vessel for the short hop across the St. Marys River to Algoma's Sault, Ont. steel mill.

Very costly from a materials handling standpoint, the break-in-bulk transshipment of industrial materials is almost never attempted in the normal course of the ore trade. Use of European ore is likewise unusual for a Great Lakes steel mill, considering the vast stores of processed iron ore available from Minnesota and Michigan mines nearby. However, as Nebel explained the proposal, Algoma is considering using the Carbide Dock as a storage location for a six-month period this year. Transshipment to Algoma would be similar to an unusual coal delivery handled in the same manner in January 2005.

Nebel explained in his report that Algoma Steel does not have ready access to a storage dock nearer to its steel mill for its supply of European ore. The reason for use of European ore was not explained in Nebel's report to the City Commission.

Each of many saltwater ships contracted to bring the ore into Sault Ste. Marie would carry about 15,000 tons of iron ore, building up to a full supply of as much as 700,000 to one million tons of ore, according to Carbide Dock manager John Wellington. That much ore landed at the Carbide Dock would involve as many as 50 ship loads of material if the Algoma deal goes through.

Wellington said another fly in the ointment arises when the quantity of stored ore is considered. To handle that much ore, he said cargo initially landed on the city-owned dock would have to be moved back on the Carbide property to accommodate that quantity of iron ore at one time. He estimated that about 100,000 tons of ore, or roughly the same total volume as the 2005 coal delivery, would be stored at the dock at any one time.

Each time bulk industrial materials are moved a substantial cost is incurred that most mills, including Algoma, generally avoid by locating stockpiles adjacent to the mills that consume them. If the deal goes through, the city stands to net about $315,000 in pier fees from Algoma. That windfall would apparently be diverted into a city fund set aside for Carbide Dock repairs.

Nebel's report indicates certain improvements at the Carbide Dock will be necessary if the Algoma deal becomes reality. A 19-20 foot underwater “ledge” extends out from the dock face itself, severely limiting the available draft of vessels using the dock. Wellington said saltwater vessels expected to bring in the ore will draft at about the St. Lawrence Seaway maximum of 26.5 feet, making dredging along the dock face necessary. Great Lakes ships used to transship the ore over to the Algoma mill would likewise need the additional draft for efficient loading.

In his report to the City Commission, Nebel said MCM Marine Inc. estimated the cost of dredging the Carbide Dock face at about $30,000 for a cash deal. He held out some hope that MCM may be willing to do the small dredging job at no charge if the city were willing to “swap” use of the Carbide Dock by MCM in exchange for the dredging. Nebel also reported that shoreside improvements must be made at the city-owned dock to safely accommodate the heavy lift crane equipment needed to unload and load ships efficiently. He did not supply a cost estimate for the shoreside improvements.

If the most unusual project goes through, it will supply work for about six temporary employees at the Carbide Dock through the end of the upcoming shipping season. In addition to the approximately 50 ship loads of incoming ore that would be involved in the Algoma deal, the same number of vessel loadings would be needed to transship the ore to Great Lakes vessels involved in the shuttle to Algoma's mill site.

That number of vessels calling at the Carbide Dock in a limited shipping season would involve a considerable increase in shipping traffic in and around the Carbide Dock area. Nebel warned the Commission that neighbors may object to the 24-hour loading and unloading activity implicit in the potential arrangement. On the other hand, he suggested that the cargo movement onto and off the dock may prove to be a kind of tourist attraction for people with maritime interests who may desire to watch the proceedings from the nearby Alford fishing pier.

Though no immediate action was requested of the City Commission, Nebel placed the proposal on the table to gauge reaction to it. Commissioners appeared to be generally favorable to the deal, even though Wellington said it is at a very preliminary discussion stage of development.

Nebel today cautioned that the Carbide Dock option may well be one of several alternatives being evaluated by Algoma Steel and may not come to fruition. He said the Commission authorized him to continue exploratory discussions if the proposal appears to be proceeding onto more solid negotiating ground.

By Jack Storey for the Soo Evening News


Twin Ports expect Growth in 2008

3/20 - Duluth - Despite a slumping national economy, the Twin Ports shipping industry has see growth in the past three years.

Other ports around the Great Lakes may have seen some declines last season, but the Port of Duluth-Superior saw an increase of more than 800,000 tons. Ship traffic also increased, but mainly due to decreased vessel capacity from low water levels.

The 2008 shipping season is expected to remain strong and potential increases are looking promising. "Well, it looks like 2008 is going to be a stronger year than 2007."

Adolph Ojard with the Duluth Seaway Port Authority expects coal and iron ore to be large contributors. "Here again we're anticipating a couple hundred-thousand ton increase, maybe a half-a-million ton increase from coal and a comparable increase from iron."

Poor wheat harvests around the world should also give a boost to grain shipments. "Grain reserves are down, the farmers have sold all the grain they can, they are getting record prices for their commodity and the growing season is going to tell whether we have better export year or not."

Commodities aside, a number of special project cargoes come through the Twin Ports each year as well. Many of those projects are expected to continue throughout the year. "As a result, we have seen a lot of wind cargos come in. We are forecasting an equally good year this year."

Assuming the Twin Ports shipping season continues to follow the growth trend from years before, Ojard says we could be looking at setting tonnage records not seen since 1957. That translates to more jobs and wealth for the entire region.

The Mesabi Miner continues to carry coal from the port, and other ships are expected to get underway as early as March 23rd or 24th.

From KBJR Duluth


New combat ship passes tests

3/20 - Marinette The nation's first Littoral Combat Ship, Freedom (LCS 1), has successfully passed testing of its electric plant. The first ship in its class, the 377-foot Freedom was designed and built by a Lockheed Martin-led industry team to assist the U.S. Navy in future littoral or close-to-shore operations.

The recent tests aboard Freedom included the light off or initial operation of the ship's four 750-kilowatt diesel generators and testing of its three-megawatt electrical power plant. Testing and outfitting of Freedom continues dockside at Marinette Marine.

Freedom will be delivered to the U.S. Navy later this year and will be home-ported in San Diego.

From the Green Bay Press-Gazette


Captain Wheeler crosses the bar

3/20 - St. Catharines - Captain George Wheeler died Saturday March 15 in his 84th year at the St. Catharines General Hospital with his loving family by his side. Lovingly remembered by his wife Noreen of 64 years.

Captain George sailed with Misner Shipping Ltd. for 43 years. He was a member of the Royal Canadian Naval Association, International Ship Masters Association, Meritton Legion, and the Rush Brook Rangers. George will be always remembered as a loving and generous man, who devoted his time to his family.

Captain George is resting at the George Darte Funeral Home until Thursday at 10:30 am. A Funeral Liturgy will be celebrated at St. Thomas Aquinas Church at 11 am. Cremation will follow the church service.

As an expression of sympathy, memorial remembrances may be made to the Kidney Foundation of Ontario or St. Catharines General Hospital Foundation in George's honour. On-Line Guest Book -


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.


Port Reports - March 19

Sturgeon Bay - Wendell Wilke
The Kaministiquia, former Voyageur Pioneer,  arrived at Bay Shipbuilding by way of Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal around 11 p.m. Monday evening. She was assisted by the tugs Bayship and Selvick Marine's Jimmy L., William C. Selvick, Susan L. and Cameroon O. Kaministiquia went into drydock Tuesday morning. The name Kaministiquia has not been painted on the hull, but the former name has been painted out.
The Wilfred Sykes is now sporting the new stack logo Arcelor Mittal with a small design above.

Milwaukee - John N. Vogel
Alpena entered the harbor Tuesday morning at about 10:30. It made a turn and then backed into the inner harbor where it docked at the LaFarge Terminal to discharge cement.
The Stewart J. Cort remained on winter layover at the Heavy Lift dock, immediately north of the LaFarge Terminal.

Marquette - Lee Rowe & Rod Burdick
The Mesabi Miner was the first ship in to Marquette to begin the shipping season. She brought a load of coal to the WE Power Plant in Marquette's upper harbor on a snowy day. The Miner also opened and closed the Upper Harbor during the 2007-2008 shipping season.

Twin Ports - Al Miller
Mesabi Miner was due back Tuesday night to load at Midwest Energy Terminal with coal destined for the Minnesota Power generating station at Taconite Harbor.
On Monday afternoon it appeared the after-end crew on the John G. Munson was firing up the steamer’s boilers as it sat at its winter berth at the Duluth port terminal.
Frontenac remains in drydock at Fraser Shipyards with a considerable amount of painting yet to be done. The vessel’s self-unloader deck housing was covered in canvas.


Seaway announces incentives for new cargos

3/19 - St. Catharines - Effective with the opening of the 2008 navigation season the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SLSMC) has instituted a number of new incentive programs, to assist their stakeholders in developing new business and to encourage the growth of Seaway cargo movements.

In addition to a three year freeze in toll rates applicable from 2008 to 2010, the programs consist of:

  • a New Business Incentive Program that will allow for a 20% discount on cargo tolls over the course of three years for commodity / origin / destination combinations approved by the Corporation as “new business”;
  • a Volume Rebate Incentive Program offering a 10% reduction on cargo tolls applicable to incremental volumes meeting a set of criteria.
  • The full details of the incentive programs are disclosed in the Seaway Schedule of Tolls.

    Seaway News Release


    Port Huron Blessing of the Fleet scheduled

    3/19 - The Port Huron “Blessing of the Fleet” ceremony will take place at the Great Lakes Maritime Center, at Vantage Point, on Saturday, March 22 at 11:00 AM.

    Reverend Phil Whetstone of Colonial Woods Missionary Church, Father Simeon Iber, St. Mary’s Catholic Church of Port Huron, Reverend Peggy Konkel, Unity Church of Blue Water and Reverend Armie Diggs, Friendship Missionary Baptist Church will perform the Interfaith Blessing.

    Local Maritime groups such as the U.S. Coast Guard, Coast Guard Auxiliary, Port Huron Power Squadron, Sea Scouts, Sea Cadets and PHYC will participate. There will be a bell ringing ceremony for those who have “passed over the bar”. The Grayfox and Coast Guard station boats will be “on station” in the St. Clair River.

    Chris Hunt of the St. Andrew’s Pipe Band of Detroit and Altos Melanie & Halley Bolt, along with Baritone Peter Werle and the Shubert Chorus will provide music for the service.

    The public is invited to attend.


    Updates - March 19

    News Photo Gallery 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 LineÕs 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.


    Yankcanuck stuck near Port Huron
    Bristol Bay assists

    3/18 - Port Huron - At noon Tuesday, the Yankcanuck was stuck in the ice above Port Huron. The vessel was downbound with a load of steel coils from Algoma Steel in the Soo.

    She had to wait for the USCGC Bristol Bay to arrive from down river to get her through the ice pack at the head of the St. Clair River. The pair were on their way down river by 3 p.m. By 9:30 the Bristol Bay was docked at USCG Station Detroit and the Yankcanuck was headed for Morterm in Windsor.

    Ice breakers are giving priority to tankers carrying petroleum cargoes.

    Reported by Frank Frisk


    Algoma buys Sandviken, Daviken and Goviken

    3/18 - Algoma Central, through a wholly-owned subsidiary, has entered into an agreement to purchase three ocean-going handy-sized bulk carriers from Viken Shipping AS, of Bergen, Norway for a total cost of approximately $38 million. The vessels, which are sisterships, were built in eastern Europe in 1986 (Sandviken) and in 1987 (Daviken and Goviken).

    These maximum St. Lawrence Seaway size vessels each are fitted with four cranes and have a carrying capacity of 34,000 tonnes. The vessels are currently operating under long-term time charter agreements with Fednav International Ltd. which the Corporation will assume.

    This acquisition represents an excellent fit with the Corporation's established and recently announced ocean shipping activities and the Corporation is pleased to be able to assume charters with Fednav, an established leader in ocean dry-bulk shipping. The acquisition also has the potential to provide a competitive fleet renewal option for the Seaway Marine Transport (SMT) gearless bulk carrier fleet. SMT is a partnership between Algoma and Upper Lakes Group that operate and manage the largest fleet of dry bulk cargo vessels operating on the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway. It is the Corporation's intention to make these vessels available for use by SMT in Canadian-flag service upon the expiry of the existing Fednav commitments. This decision will be based on market conditions at the time.

    The Corporation owns two ocean-going self-unloaders through a wholly-owned foreign subsidiary and an interest in five ocean-going self unloaders through a joint venture. These seven vessels are part of a 29 vessel, ocean-going, self-unloader fleet that is commercially managed by CSL International.

    The Corporation has previously announced the construction of five IMO II product tankers in China to be delivered in late 2010 and early 2011. These vessels, upon delivery, will be employed and operated in the Hanseatic Tankers joint venture. Hanseatic Tankers plans to employ and operate 24 similar product tankers with the expected trading areas to be focused in Europe, the Mediterranean, the Middle East and Asia. The Corporation also owns a 1998 built foreign-flag product tanker through a wholly-owned foreign subsidiary. It is expected this vessel, the Amalienborg, will also be employed and operated as part of Hanseatic Tankers commencing in late 2008.

    The Corporation owns and manages four Canadian-flag product tankers with delivery of an additional two product tankers, the Algonova and AlgoCanada, scheduled for the second half of 2008.

    In addition to ocean shipping and product tankers the Corporation owns 19 Canadian flag dry-bulk vessels that operate on the Great Lakes - St. Lawrence Waterway as part of the SMT fleet. As previously announced, the SMT partners have entered into agreements to construct two maximum seaway size self-unloading forebodies which will be attached to the refurbished and upgraded aft-ends of the Algobay and Algoport.

    The Corporation also provides diversified ship repair, diesel engine repair services and fabrication services to ship-owners and industrial customers throughout the Great Lakes - St. Lawrence Waterway.

    Algoma Central News Release


    More ships may be headed for unforeseen icy harbors

    3/18 - Sarnia - Sam Babisky, superintendent of operations for the Sarnia Coast Guard, said more ships may face the fate of the CSL Assiniboine, stuck for hours in the ice jams north of the Blue Water Bridge Sunday.

    Loaded with salt in Windsor and headed for Chicago, the ship was jammed halfway between the bridge and buoys one and two Sunday afternoon. Babisky said it was several hours before the Canadian Coast Guard Ship Samuel Risley could get down from Goderich, on the eastern shore of Lake Huron across from Saginaw Bay, to assist the Assiniboine.

    Babisky said the Assiniboine was "fully advised of the ice conditions and that he might not be able to (make it through)." This time of year, he said, there are "more (commercial) ships than resources to break the ice, and we make priorities" for ships containing fuel, for instance.

    The operations superintendent said no commercial vessels are expected through the shipping channel today, but there are tomorrow, and it's "hard to say" if the same problem won't pop up.

    From the Port Huron Times Herald


    Icebreaker leaves for Lakehead as season ready to open

    3/18 - Thunder Bay - Shipping channels into the Thunder Bay harbour will start to be cleared on March 20, said Tim Heney, chief executive officer of the Thunder Bay Port Authority.

    A U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker (Mackinaw) will be working on the channels over a few days, making way for the first ship, which is expected to enter the port March 26.

    As for the success of the season ahead, Heney said he always hopes for a strong season. He said the past eight years have been fairly consistent. "We end up around the same place no matter what happens."

    With grain prices at an all-time high, Heney said the season should have a busy start, but storage shortages in the Prairies may slow things down quickly. "We will just have to wait and see."

    Thunder Bay saw 6.25 million metric tonnes of grain pass through the port in 2007, just above the five-year average of six million metric tonnes, but slightly lower than in 2006.

    From the Sudbury Star


    First Ship In Goderich Sets Record

    3/18 - Goderich - The first ship of the season docked in Goderich over the weekend setting a new record. The CSL Niagara tied up just before midnight on Saturday the earliest date on record, dating back to 1932. Captain Jim Leaney reported that there is still enough ice on the Great Lakes to slow the ice breakers down, but at least it's moving, so that makes it easier to get through it. He also says the shipping seasons have been getting longer over the last few years, but this year has been more like a traditional winter.

    From CKNX Radio


    Corps of Engineers to expedite dredging

    3/18 - Muskegon - An expedited dredging schedule should make the now-perilous harbors of Muskegon, Grand Haven and Holland passable before the scheduled arrival of the busy shipping season.

    Dredging of Muskegon's outer harbor, the scene of four ship groundings in 2007, is likely to begin around the second week of April, weather permitting, said Tom O'Bryan, acting chief of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Lake Michigan Area Office in Grand Haven.

    Dredging in Muskegon is expected to take six to eight weeks, and will focus on buildup of sand and silt between the outer pierheads but not the channel itself, which is of adequate depth for shipping, O'Bryan said.

    The Muskegon work had originally been scheduled to start June 1 and finish up the first of July. However, that would have been cutting things a little close for Consumers Energy Co., which according to spokesman Dennis McKee has about a 100-day supply of coal at the B.C. Cobb generating plant at the east end of Muskegon Lake.

    "If it occurs in April it should have no adverse impact on us," McKee said. "I would compliment the Corps for being so forward-thinking."

    Coal shipments to Consumers typically arrive on large, deep-draft ships. Last August, and again in September, 1,000-foot coal-carrying freighters became stuck in Muskegon's outer harbor en route to the Cobb plant. The plant had enough coal on hand to absorb the resulting shipping delays, however.

    The Verplank dock on Muskegon Lake has adequate inventory of gravel and other aggregate materials at its site, and has other storage sites in Ferrysburg and Holland to draw on, if necessary, said Nathan Gates, its sales and logistics manager.

    "It's a little too early to tell how the timing's going to go until we know who the contractor is," he said, citing such variables as contractor location and whether hydraulic dredging or the slower mechanical dredging method is to be used, and of course, weather.

    He added that safe shipping could resume sooner if the contractor first dredged a middle channel for ships to pass through and then worked on the areas on either side. Verplank said he saw a ship turn back with a load of salt in January due to shallow water in the outer harbor.

    The LaFarge Corp. in Muskegon is expecting a load of cement the week of March 24. It will be arriving on a tug-propelled barge, and water depth is not expected to be a problem.

    Under a separate contract, The King Co. of Holland is expected to address shallow-water areas in the Holland harbor entrance soon, possibly as early as this week, O'Bryan said, although that also will depend on weather conditions.

    After about two weeks on the job in Holland, King will proceed to Grand Haven to address shoaling that caused one grounding at that harbor's entrance last year. Besides a buildup of sand and silt in some areas, recent ship groundings have also been attributed to lake levels that have approached record lows.

    However, above-average precipitation this winter, plus extensive ice cover to retard evaporation of lake water, have led hydrologists to predict Lake Michigan this summer will be at least six inches above its record low set in 1964.

    Another positive sign: Lake Superior's water level last month was 8 inches higher than in February 2007, and could go 7-15 inches higher than last year's levels through August. However, that would still be 10 inches below normal.

    From the Muskegon Chronicle


    Dredging to begin in Holland

    3/18 - Holland - The King Company's tug Matt Allen and dredge Buxton II arrived in Holland over the weekend. They are tied up at the west end of Lake Macatawa. Dredging will start as soon as weather permits.

    Reported by Bob VandeVusse


    Port Report - March 18

    Alpena - Ben & Chanda McClain
    On Sunday morning the tug Samuel de Champlain/barge Innovation arrived in port. It had to deal with some ice around the slip before it could dock and load. By afternoon it was heading out into the bay bound for South Chicago.
    Around 2 a.m. on Monday the Alpena came in to take on cargo at LaFarge. Milwaukee will be its next destination.


    Crews battle worst Niagara River ice jams in more than 20 years

    3/18 - Buffalo - When Western New York gets a windy winter, the crews of the William H. Latham get busy.

    For part of this winter, the boat has operated in “all hands on deck” mode as it tackles its responsibility to chisel out the water intakes of the Niagara Power Project. This season, chunks of heavy “lake ice,” often more than a dozen feet thick, helped create the worst ice jams on the Niagara River in more than 20 years, State Power Authority officials said.

    When the Lake Erie water level spiked 10 feet as a result of a late- January storm, threatening electricity generation downstream, the crews barely had time to catch their breath. “These guys were dealing with that for almost a month, almost 24 hours a day,” said Doug Harding, general maintenance superintendent at the power project.

    Sustained high water levels caused by winds exceeding 60 mph pushed large blocks of ice over the ice boom, the all-steel barrier placed across the Niagara River upstream from the Peace Bridge to limit the amount of ice that passes. Equipped with twin diesel engines and an underwater “ice knife,” the flat-bottomed, 61z-foot William H. Latham can look like a tugboat playing bumper cars with the ice chunks.

    But the vessel’s tasks and tactics can vary depending on the type of ice causing problems, such as:

    • River ice, also called “sheet ice,” generally 2 to 10 inches thick, floats near the surface and often passes by the power project intakes in Niagara Falls. It also may stack up, causing larger formations.

    • Lake ice, the thickest type, forms blocks that often lodge themselves in shallow parts of the upper river near the intakes. It can be up to 20 feet thick.

    • Frazil ice consists of ice crystals that form an entire water column and stick to any surface, including rocks along the bottom of the river. Also called “anchor ice,” it develops under specific conditions and did not form this season, authority officials said.

    Frazil ice, which forms as the river freezes, is difficult to deal with, said Terry Wendel, the Latham’s captain since 1990 as well as a mechanic and welder at the power project. During most of his career, Wendel has spent winters on the authority’s ice breaker.

    Add some wet snow to the river when it starts to freeze, and the Latham’s crew finds itself stuck in slush. “You drive through it, and it just collapses behind you, and you can’t move it,” Wendel said. “The best way to describe it is like driving through a snow cone,” Harding said.

    The Latham’s three-person crews aren’t always battling the frozen river alone. Their counterparts from Ontario Power Generation have their own ice breaker. Crews on the U.S. side of the river tend to have a harder time, since prevailing winds from the south and southwest push ice toward the Power Authority’s intakes.

    But the two sides share some of the burden, since both operate under the orders of the International Joint Commission, the bi-national body that governs the boundary waters. The crews often help each other in clearing ice from both sides of the river.

    The Power Authority has another option for preventing ice jams: It can divert less water to its plant, which raises water levels and allows more ice to flow past the intakes. Authority officials call that “flushing,” or “wasting,” since water that could be used to produce electricity is sent over the falls.

    The intakes at the Niagara Power Project, the state’s largest hydroelectric generation facility, divert river water through underground channels to the two generating plants, where it powers turbines to create electricity before being released back into the Lower Niagara River. When river conditions prevent the project from generating enough low-cost electricity to fulfill its contracts, the authority has to buy more-expensive power elsewhere on the market.

    The ice boom, authority officials are quick to point out, is not designed to stop all ice from heading down the river. The boom itself broke several times this year, but even without breaks, ice can bypass it, Harding said.

    Officials did not anticipate much more work this season for their ice breaker but would not rule it out if Western New York winter strikes again.

    From the Buffalo News


    Detroit Plans for Maritime academy on Belle Isle

    3/18 - Detroit - Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick's plan to build a boarding school on Belle Isle to teach maritime skills to Detroit high school students is a vision of hope for some parents -- but a pipe dream to others.

    The military-style school, which would be on the site of the old Belle Isle Boat Club, would teach self-discipline and leadership skills to wayward youths, while preparing them for careers on the Great Lakes, Kilpatrick said. He credited a Michigan State University group led by sociology professor Carl Taylor with developing the idea.

    Taylor, an expert on gangs and teen violence, said the academy would provide an antidote to toxic conditions that lead teens to drop out of school. But critics, like Lemont Corbin, president and board chairman of the nonprofit Detroit Parent Network, question why the city couldn't use one of its many shuttered schools, or if there are enough shipping jobs in Michigan to justify the project.

    Taylor said the plan hasn't been finalized. Few specifics on how it would be implemented, including funding, were provided by city officials last week. Spokesman James Canning said only that the boat club property is owned by the city and that it has been shown to several potential developers.

    Taylor said the school would be a last chance for some teens, providing them with the first real discipline they've ever received and equipping them with job skills to become productive citizens. "We're not preparing them just to go to the military," Taylor said. "We're looking at getting them the structure they will need to go on to a four-year institution, a community college, or the military or a profession."

    The idea doesn't seem far-fetched to Glen Nekvasil, vice president of corporate communications for the Cleveland-based Lake Carriers' Association, which represents the owners of 61 vessels operating on the Great Lakes.

    Nekvasil said Great Lakes shipping has been affected by declines in Michigan's steel, automotive and housing industries and that it declined by about 5 percent last year. But they have an aging work force and are always looking for people to fill the 2,200 positions required to staff his members' 61 vessels.

    From the Detroit News


    Updates - March 18

    News Photo Gallery updated


    Today in Great Lakes History - March 18

    18 March 1967 - Under the command of Captain Ray I. McGrath, the Columbia Transportation Company's HURON (steel propeller self-unloader bulk freighter, 415 foot, 4,810 gross tons, built in 1914, at Ecorse, Michigan) cleared Fairport, Ohio and headed to Toledo, Ohio for a load of coal. She was the first freighter to sail in the new season. She sailed on the same day that the U. S. Steel's Bradley Fleet of seven vessels started fitting out.

    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 in the Huron Cut Brings Shipping to a Halt, Risley to the Rescue

    3/17 - The upbound CSL Assiniboine spent Sunday afternoon and night battling heavy ice above the Blue Water Bridges off Port Huron, Michigan. The vessel loaded a cargo of salt in Windsor for delivery to Chicago. After slowly passing through the river and reaching a point above the Blue Water Bridges where the Huron Cut begins, the vessel was slowed dramatically by the ice and spend several hours backing and ramming trying to make headway.

    At 6:30 p.m. the vessel was slowly working back and fourth about half way between the Bridges and Buoys 1 & 2. By 8:30 p.m. the Assiniboine was slowly moving past Buoys 1& 2 at about 3 miles per hour. At the same time, the Canadian Coast Guard Ship Samuel Risley was downbound from Goderich to assist. The Risley has been working lower Lake Huron but departed late Saturday to escort the CSL Niagara to Goderich and then stayed in Goderich to break out the Halifax.

    The CSL Assiniboine spent two hours backing and ramming to move a distance of about 2200-feet, the vessel held position in the ice and waited for the Risley. 

    The Risley arrived downbound on scene about 10:30 p.m., made a pass down the side of the Assiniboine, and the Assiniboine was underway in the Risley's track. By 11 p.m. she was at Lights 9 & 10 and started to slow. The Risley retuned upbound and passed the vessel allowing her to continue on with the Risley in the lead. Shortly before midnight, the Risley moved out of the shipping channel about 6 miles above lights 11 & 12. The CSL Assiniboine continued upbound free of the heavy ice and the Risley was expected to head back to Goderich.

    The Kaministiquia, the former Voyageur Pioneer, departed Sarnia Harbor Sunday morning at 7:45 a.m., proceeding up into Lake Huron. At 10:25 a.m. she reported that she was stuck between Buoys 1 & 2 in heavy ice. She was able to break through and continue into Lake Huron by early Sunday afternoon. Kaministiquia is reported to be headed to Sturgeon Bay.

    Reported by Art Klein & Frank Frisk


    Breaking The Ice On The St. Lawrence Seaway

    3/17 - Ice-breaking has begun to clear the way for commercial shipping on the St. Lawrence Seaway.

    The St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation tugboat Robinson Bay made its initial run in the area surrounding Snell Lock Friday.

    Officials are preparing to open up the channel for the second earliest start date for the new shipping season. The Montreal-Lake Ontario section of the Seaway system opens at 8 a.m. on Saturday, March 22, with opening ceremonies planned at St. Lambert Lock in Quebec on March 25.

    From WWNY-TV 7


    Robert S. Pierson christening Saturday

    3/17 - Robert S. Pierson, the newest vessel in the Lower Lakes Towing Ltd. fleet will be formally christened Saturday at 1 p.m. in ceremonies at Sarnia. The Pierson is the former Wolverine, which last sailed for the Wisconsin-Michigan Steamship Co. She was built in 1974 and had also sailed for the Oglebay Norton Co.

    The Pierson is the first vessel in the Lower Lakes fleet to honor an individual. Robert Scott Pierson, who died last December at age 71, was active in the Canadian shipping industry, working for Misener Transportation and, in 1975, starting his own firm, The Soo River Company. Until his passing, he worked for Lower Lakes Towing/Grand River Navigation Co. This is the second vessel to carry Pierson s name, the first being the 1925-built Reiss Brothers, which carried that name from 1980-82 and was eventually scrapped as Spruceglen (1).

    Lower Lakes Towing Ltd. has also acquired the former Oglebay Norton Co. vessels, David Z, Earl W. from the Wisconsin & Michigan Steamship Co. The David Z will be renamed Calumet, while the Earl W. will be renamed Manitowoc.


    Port Reports - March 17

    Escanaba - Scott Best
    Sunday afternoon the Burns Harbor remained at the CN Ore dock in Escanaba loading ore, she arrived on Friday. The Great Lakes Trader and Joyce L VanEnkevort returned Sunday afternoon and tied up on the South side of the ore dock to wait the Burns Harbor departure. There was no activity around the Joseph H Thompson or tug Olive L Moore, also tied up at the ore dock facility.

    Milwaukee - John N. Vogel
    Departing from winter lay-up on Wednesday was the Joseph L. Block, which left the harbor at about 4 p.m. Thursday the Burns Harbor departed at 1:50 a.m. The Alpena arrived at 4:30 a.m. on Saturday, and discharged cement at the St. Mary's terminal. It left Milwaukee about 7 p.m. in the evening.

    Goderich - Jacob Smith & Dale Baechler
    On Sunday, the first boat of the 2008 shipping season came into Goderich. The CSL Niagara was assisted by the Canadian Coast Guard ship Samuel Risley. The Risley stayed to break up the harbor ice for the Halifax to leave her lay up berth.


    Updates - March 17

    News Photo Gallery 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.


    Mesabi Miner Departs

    3/16 - The Mesabi Miner departed the Midwest Energy Terminal Sunday morning and worked with the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Alder to cut through the ice in the Front Channel. At 11 a.m. the Miner was slowly moving in the channel heading for the Superior Entry. At 12:30 the thousand footer was clearing the Superior Break Wall and entering Lake Superior. This marks the first load of coal from the port for the 2008 season, the Miner is expected to unload at the Minnesota Power generating plant in Taconite Harbor, Minn. or in Marquette, Michigan.


    Port Report - March 16

    Twin Ports - Al Miller
    With conflicting reports on how icebreaking is progressing, it's hard to say when the Mesabi Miner will leave Superior. However, the boat appeared to be loading at Midwest Energy Terminal on late Saturday morning. The Alder was widening the cut in the Front Channel and appeared to be having no problems. Earlier in the day it had done more icebreaking in the turning basin and had run up St. Louis Bay past the Miner.


    Capt. Charles Ferriss passes

    3/16 - Detroit - Captain Charles "Chick" Ferriss, 55, passed away unexpectedly at his Detroit home after a short illness on Friday. Chick was a lifelong tugboat owner/operator, as were his father and uncles before him.

    He worked in his early years as an Engineer and Captain with the Gaelic Tugboat Company, as well as part time for other companies around the lakes. In 1974 he founded Ferriss Marine Contracting, Inc. and did many different and unusual jobs around the Great Lakes. He had business ties to various tugs throughout his career including the famous Detroit fireboat John Kendall, the Protector (Nicole S), the former Saginaw River harbor tug Frederick T. Kellers and the well known tug Magnetic.

    He is survived by his mother Nancy, his 2 children Mitchell and Melissa, his 2 beloved dogs and a few close friends. Chick will be cremated and there will be no funeral arrangements per his request.


    Updates - March 16

    News Photo Gallery updated

    Click here to order BoatNerd Freighter trip raffle tickets.


    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.


    Port Reports - March 15

    Twin Ports - Al Miller
    Coast Guard officials in the Twin Ports were quoted on TV news Friday evening saying the Mesabi Miner probably won't leave port until Sunday or Monday because of the need for more icebreaking along the Superior Front Channel and Superior Entry. As of Friday evening, the Alder hadn't even fully broken up the East Gate turning basin or gone up St. Louis Bay past the Miner.

    DeTour - Cathy Kohring
    The tug Salvor was breaking open the little bit of a channel there is in the St. Marys River just north of DeTour Thursday. She was joined by the Purvis tug Wilfred Cohen and they were met by the up bound Yankcanuck around 7:30 pm Thursday. Apparently these two tugs have been called into ice breaking and escort duty for the Yankcanuck now that the CG Cutters have moved into other areas to break out the river.

    Sarnia - Frank Frisk
    The CSL Assiniboine departed her winter lay-up dock in Sarnia at 12:20 a.m. Saturday morning. She headed downbound for Ojibway Salt in Windsor.
    CSL Niagara was preparing to leave Sarnia North Dock at noon Saturday. She will be backing down to the Imperial Fuel dock and upon completion of fueling will proceed to Goderich Ontario. The Samuel Risley is stationed off the lower buoy's to escort the Niagara into Goderich. Upon arrival in Goderich, the Risley will break out the Halifax allowing her to start the new season.

    Toronto - Charlie Gibbons
    Unloading of Canadian Leader at Redpath continued Friday. It turns out that the Oakville tugs which came over Thursday, were here for a film shoot. "Max Payne" starring Mark Whalberg, is being shot in the "Big Smoke", and the tugs Emerald Bay and Orkney Isle were brought in to assist with the production. "Max Payne" is based on a video game.


    Bristol Bay Working Lake Erie

    3/15 - The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Bristol Bay (WTGB-102) departed Cleveland Thursday morning, and traveled east to Fairport, Ohio, to assess ice conditions at Fairport Harbor and the Grand River.

    The 140-foot cutter, based in Detroit, is making this assessment at the request of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. A member of the ACOE is on board.

    Bristol Bay started the morning breaking up the ice at the entrance of Cleveland Harbor so the motor vessel Algosar could enter the harbor, and depart on Friday, March 14.

    While no flooding has been reported, Bristol Bay and ACOE are scheduled to assess the ice at the mouth of the river and break up some of the ice. Southeast winds are forecast for the next 24-36 hours and these efforts are being done as a flood-preventative measure to get ice out and away from the mouth of the river.


    March 20 opening of Welland Canal to match record early opening

    3/15 - The Welland Canal will open for its 76th year of operation on March 20, matching last year's earliest opening of the shipping season.

    The St. Lawrence Seaway will open the canal at 8 a.m., and vessel transits will be subject to weather and ice conditions. The entire seaway, involving the Montreal-Lake Ontario section, opens two doors later. The seaway was open for 283 days last year, matching the longest shipping season of 2006.

    Seaway management said about 43 million tonnes were shipped through the Montreal-Lake Ontario and Welland Canal sections of the inland waterway last year, down from about 47 million tonnes in 2006. It said the lower tonnage was due to reduced ocean traffic and lower steel imports.

    Although economists are nervous about the state of the U.S. economy, the fact there was so much traffic in the seaway last year demonstrates the resilience of the waterway, the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp. -- the Canadian half of the joint Canadian-American waterway -- said in January.

    Richard Corfe, president and CEO of the Seaway Management Corp., said while the shipping season started slowly in 2007, a strong resurgence of cargo volumes by mid-summer continued through the fall. The last ship to pass through the Welland Canal -- the Canadian Coast Guard cutter Griffon -- did so on Dec. 29.

    There were 3,671 ship crossings of the canal last year, just two crossings shy of 2006, Seaway figures show.

    The seaway has traditionally relied on such cargoes as grain, iron ore, coal and other bulk shipments for its bread and butter. Traditionally, when there's an economic downturn many of those cargoes drop in volume. Corfe said the Seaway is diversifying its cargo to include such specialty cargoes as wind turbine components destined for so-called 'green' energy projects throughout eastern North America.

    As part of its goal to broaden its cargo base, the Seaway launched the Hwy. H20 marketing program along with shipping industry partners to promote the marine mode's ability to complement existing rail and road networks.

    Last year, the Seaway Corp. said it was pushing the opening date of the waterway earlier in part at the request of shipping industry clients.

    From Niagara This Week


    Shipping can't wait for slow melt

    3/15 - Muskegon - The industries that depend on the shipping lanes on Muskegon Lake and Lake Michigan are — like most of us — eager for winter's grip on the lakes to disappear. In fact, they are taking measures into their own hands.

    On Thursday, the Barbara Andrie, a tugboat from Andrie Inc. of Muskegon, and the Maggie Lynn, a Petersen Fisheries boat from Muskegon, were plowing paths through the thick ice on Muskegon Lake. The ice was 8- to 9-inches thick about a half mile off shore, thick enough for fishermen to continue safely as the paths were cut.

    The Barbara Andrie was making an opening for a scheduled mission this morning. She was to tow a 310-foot barge from Muskegon to a British Petroleum dock in Whiting, Ind.

    The Maggie Lynn was slowly breaking ice in anticipation of the upcoming commercial fishing season.

    For ice fishermen, ice continues to be thick in some areas but less safe in other areas because of the slow temperature warm-up. The forecast calls for temperatures mainly in the 30s through Tuesday and no high temperatures in the 50s for the rest of March.

    From the Muskegon Chronicle


    Lake Superior water level up 8 inches over last year

    3/15 - St. Paul, Minn. — U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials said Lake Superior is beginning to rise from its record low levels of last August and September.

    The lake is about eight inches higher than it was at this time last year. Corps meteorologist Mike Kompoltowicz said more ice cover, and a longer duration this winter, means less water will be lost to evaporation:

    "With the colder air that set in across Lake Superior earlier on this year, ice cover was able to start forming a lot earlier and we didn't see nearly as much evaporation this year as we did last year," Kompoltowicz said.

    The Army Corps of Engineers said despite Lake Superior's rising levels, it's still eight to 10 inches below normal. Meanwhile, a Coast Guard cutter is carving out shipping lanes in Duluth-Superior harbor. Ships may start arriving later this month.

    From Minnesota Public Radio


    Ice threatens small boats, official says

    3/15 - Milwaukee - They're not the thick bergs that people associate with the film "Titanic," but the large ice masses that broke away from the shore off Kenosha and Racine counties this week could pose danger to small boats, a Coast Guard official said Wednesday.

    "A large ship will have no problem going through that at all," U.S. Coast Guard spokesman Phillip Kozisek said. "If we had more pleasure craft out there it would be an issue."

    Sunshine, temperatures above freezing and brisk westerly winds combined to cause the ice masses to break away from the shore and float into Lake Michigan, said Marc Kavinsky, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sullivan.

    Satellite images posted on the weather service Web site Wednesday showed several of the masses - one of which appears to be about four miles long and more than a mile wide - floating off the coast of southeastern Wisconsin and northeastern Illinois.

    Kozisek said the ice formations are more of an ice "topping," and the weather service's Chris Franks agreed that they didn't likely have much vertical depth. "This is more of a surface sheet," Franks said, adding that prevailing winds will determine the direction in which the ice masses flow.

    But with the temperature of Lake Michigan currently at about 36 degrees and high temperatures expected to remain above freezing, it won't be long before the floating ice completely melts, Franks said.

    "I don't think they will be totally gone in the next several days," he said, "but they will decrease."

    From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel


    Updates - March 15

    News Photo Gallery updated

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    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.


    Could take weeks to remove ship stuck in St. Lawrence

    3/14 - A container ship that ran aground in the St. Lawrence River near Trois-Rivières, Que., could be stuck in the mud for weeks, a Transport Canada official said Thursday.

    The MSC Sabrina, a shipping vessel the size of a city block, weighs about 70,000 tonnes with its cargo. En route to Montreal from France, its black hull struck shore five days ago during the massive snowstorm that rattled Central and Eastern Canada.

    The ship's owner has tried three times to move the ship, with no success. On Tuesday, five tugboats and an icebreaker tried to set it free. "The ship, it didn't move at all," said Pierre LeBrun, a marine safety inspector with Transport Canada.

    The shipping company will now have to lighten the weight of the vessel by offloading cargo onto a barge with a crane. "This is a big logistic," LeBrun said. "We don't want the crane to take a container and, by accident, a container falls in the water."

    The Panama-based firm that owns the boat has to draft a detailed plan of how it intends to proceed and submit it to Transport Canada for approval.

    LeBrun said the vessel is not blocking or polluting the waterway, and the shipping company or its insurance will pay the full cost of the removal.

    It's not the first time the MSC Sabrina has encountered trouble. The ship collided with a Dutch fishing vessel in June 2000 off the coast of the Netherlands, and 15 minutes later struck a British cargo boat. Neither accident resulted in major damage.

    From CBC News


    Port Reports - March 14

    Duluth - Al Miller
    Mesabi Miner will be busy for the rest of March, starting with three scheduled trips hauling coal to Lake Superior ports. The Miner, which spent the winter laid up at Midwest Energy Terminal in Superior, is scheduled to load Saturday, March 15, with coal for WE-Energies at Presque Isle near Marquette. Following that, it’s set to load March 18 for the Minnesota Power generating plant in Taconite Harbor, Minn., then load for Presque Isle again on March 21. It’s scheduled to make its first run down the lakes after loading March 24 with coal destined for Detroit Edison in St. Clair, Mich. Indiana Harbor also will be making an early trip on Lake Superior. It’s scheduled to depart layup at Hallett Dock 5 in Duluth on March 22 to load coal at Midwest Energy Terminal for the Silver Bay Power plant in Silver Bay, Minn. Algowood is on the schedule to load March 23 with coal for the Ontario Power Generating plant in Thunder Bay

    Sarnia - Frank Frisk
    CSL Assiniboine contacted to the Samuel Risley on Thursday asking for assistance breaking out of the ice around her lay-up dock.

    DeTour - Cathy Kohring
    The tug Salvor was breaking a channel through the ice in the St. Marys River just north of DeTour Thursday. She was joined by the Purvis Tug Wilfred Cohen and they were met by the upbound Yankcanuck around 7:30 p.m. Thursday. The two tugs appear to have been called into ice breaking and escort duty for the Yankcanuck now that the USCG cutters have moved into other areas to break out the river.

    Toronto - Charlie Gibbons
    Unloading of Canadian Leader at Redpath continues today. It turns out that the Oakville tugs which came over yesterday, were here for a film shoot. "Max Payne" starring Mark Whalberg, is being shot in the "Big Smoke", and the tugs Emerald Bay and Orkney Isle were brought in to assist with the production. "Max Payne" is based on a video game


    Twin Ports shipping season set to start this weekend

    3/14 - Duluth - If all goes as planned, the Twin Ports shipping season will begin this weekend.

    Workers at Superior’s Midwest Energy Resources are scheduled to begin loading the Mesabi Miner with coal at 8 a.m. Saturday. It probably will take eight to 10 hours to load the ship for its first trip as workers tune things up, Midwest Energy Resources President Fred Shusterich said. “We plan on leaving sometime late Saturday or early Sunday” bound for Marquette, Mich., he said.

    Last year, the Mesabi Miner opened the season on March 16, departing with 58,000 tons of coal for Presque Isle, Mich.

    Shusterich said 58,000 tons is a good load for the 1,004-foot Mesabi Miner, but he doesn’t know if it will carry that much this trip. “I think water levels are a little bit better, but obviously there is ice,” he said. “When there is ice they have to carry cooling waters for the engines, versus taking it from the lake because the ice might interfere with the intakes.”

    In preparation for the shipping season, the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Alder began breaking ice Tuesday morning. The Alder is punching channels through 18 to 36 inches of ice in the harbor.

    “It was a little slow going yesterday, but we did get a track through the Superior Front Channel,” Lt. j.g. Kenny Pepper said Thursday afternoon. “We’re doing track maintenance today, trying to make a [navigable] channel out of the single track we made. We haven’t started to make a turning basin in East Gate, and we have not been back in the St. Louis Bay yet.”

    The Alder ventured onto the lake Wednesday. “We went out about three or four miles and we just found drifting plates of ice about 3 or 4 inches thick,” Pepper said.

    The Coast Guard is moving the 140-foot cutter Biscayne Bay from St. Ignace, Mich., to the Twin Ports to help break ice. According to the Sault Vessel Traffic Service, the Biscayne Bay could arrive in the Twin Ports on Sunday morning. Because of work on Duluth’s Aerial Lift Bridge, the Mesabi Miner will have to follow the longer route the Alder is clearing to the Superior Entry rather than the more direct passage out through the Duluth Entry.

    The Lift Bridge has to be operational by midnight March 22, bridge supervisor Ryan Beamer said.

    The bridge has remained down since the end of last shipping season to allow for a $2 million renovation of the 103-year-old structure. Workers have been sandblasting and painting the bridge’s lift span truss and end towers. The work has gone well, Beamer said.

    “It looks nice, and they finished seven of the 10 sections they had it broken up into this winter,” he said. “That leaves three sections for next winter. There is structural steel repair and concrete repair that they will be doing this spring.” The entire repair project is expected to be completed by June 30, 2009.

    Beamer said the workers plan to finish painting the section they’re working on this week and to remove the tarp shelter next week. It’s possible, he said, that the bridge will be operational before March 22.

    That would be good news, Interlake Steamship Co. spokesman Bob Dorn said. Interlake owns the Mesabi Miner. Dorn said Interlake expects a good season. “We’re looking forward to it,” he said.

    Ron Johnson, Trade Development director with the Seaway Port Authority, also expects a busy year in the port. “There’s a lot of taconite to move; there is a lot of coal to move,” he said. “The big question mark on the international side is the grain. We’re not sure what is going to happen in the wheat market. And we really won’t know until farmers plant their grain around the world.”

    Nearly 48 million net tons of cargo flowed through the port last season. It was the fourth consecutive year of growth. The tonnage the port has handled has increased 24 percent over those four years. The number of salties also increased. Last season, 158 oceangoing ships called on the Twin Ports, 22 more than the season before.

    The Soo Locks, which allow ships to travel between Lake Superior and the lower lakes, is scheduled to open at 12:01 a.m. March 25.

    The shipping season is beginning without one of the U.S. fleet’s largest workhorses. The 1,000-foot Walter J. McCarthy Jr. is undergoing engine and hull repairs after it hit a piece of submerged concrete at Hallett Dock in Superior while docking in January. The accident flooded the laker’s engine room.

    Midwest Energy uses the McCarthy a lot. “I think the repairs are going along better than first anticipated,” Shusterich said. Officials with GATX, the parent company of the McCarthy’s owner, did not return calls seeking comment.

    From the Duluth News Tribune


    Port's economic impact down slightly in 2007

    3/14 - Green Bay - The Port of Green Bay produced an estimated $76.1 million in economic impact last year, according to an annual report released this week.

    While that figure slipped from record-setting numbers in 2006 ($88 million) and 2005 ($80.4 million), it’s still about $20 million more than a decade ago, according to the report prepared by the Bay-Lake Regional Planning Commission.

    The dip in 2007 comes as the port also saw a decrease in the amount of cargo passing through the facility.

    “(Damage from Hurricane Katrina) is pretty much rebuilt, home building was slumping and we didn’t need European lumber to meet our demand, so lumber didn’t come in,” said port manager Dean Haen. “With the currency difference, a lot of our break bulk and liquid bulk that comes in from Canada and elsewhere … it didn’t make sense to ship that stuff in.”

    Break bulk includes commodities like machinery, paper, tallow, pig iron and forest products. Among the more common commodities through the port are coal, limestone, cement, salt and lumber. The amount of salt coming into the port also declined last year.

    The dip in total economic output runs parallel to a reduction in the amount of cargo handled by the port in 2007 compared to 2006 which was also a record year for cargo. Last year, the port handled 2.3 million tons of cargo, down from 2.6 million in 2006 but well above 1999 when the total was pegged at 1.9 million tons, according to the report.

    Port activities can be tied to the nation’s economy and serve as a leading indicator.

    Haen said the U.S. economy played a part in the dip, but he hopes that 2 million-plus tonnage figure can be a benchmark for the port going forward.

    “Based on the economy, I’d be happy to do what we did last year,” Haen said about the 2008 shipping season, which will get under way in the next few weeks. “I’m hoping 2.2 to 2.5 million tons becomes our new foundation, and we take off from there when we hit good economic times.”

    Last year, the port supported 615 jobs and produced an estimated $23.2 million in income, according to the report.

    While winter is overstaying its welcome in the Upper Midwest, the amount of snow it dumped across the Great Lakes is positive sign for shippers who could see lake levels rise six to 12 inches this summer, according to a forecast by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, helping counteract lowering lake levels.

    “The water level will help the shippers and help consumers,” Haen said. “(Shippers) will be able to get more product on a ship and the cost of taking a ship from point A to point B is the same whether it’s half full or full. … Being able to put more tonnage on those ships makes it more efficient and reduces the cost per unit to consumers.”

    Mike Huck, harbormaster in Manitowoc, said they’ve been keeping a close eye on water levels, especially as it relates to a city-owned marina that was facing the prospect of coming up with money for emergency dredging if lake levels continued to decline.

    If the lake level forecasts hold, they should be in good shape for the season.

    “Come April, the boats have to be launched and if there’s not enough water, we have to make enough,” he said. “As of December it was touch and go and if the water is up from there, we should be OK.”

    From the Green Bay Press Gazette


    Free program at Vantage Point

    3/14 - Port Huron  - On Saturday the Lake Huron Lore Marine Society will present a special program with Ryan Barone, titled "Steamboating: a Great Lakes Sailor's Story!"

    The program will be at the Great Lakes Maritime Center/Vantage Point, 51 Water St., Port Huron, Michigan, beginning at 7 p.m.

    Ryan Barone will present his story while sailing on the cutter Bramble, and on the steamer Lee A. Tregurtha. His new book, "Steamboating!" will also be available for purchase and signing.

    This program is free and open to the public.


    Updates - March 14

    News Photo Gallery updated

    Click here to order BoatNerd Freighter trip raffle tickets.


    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.


    Hollyhock in For Repairs

    3/13 - Cheboygan, Mi - As reported yesterday, the Coast Guard Cutter Hollyhock arrived Cheboygan on Tuesday. The purpose of the visit is a five to six-day stop for repairs to one of its propellers. The 225-foot buoy tender, home-ported in Port Huron, requires maintenance to the ship's controllable pitch propeller hub, after drops of oil were observed escaping from the blades of the stern of the ship.

    Divers will change out the four blade seals over a maintenance period of approximately six days. After repairs are completed, the Hollyhock will commence ice breaking operations in the Straits of Mackinac and replace navigational buoys in Chicago for Operation Spring Restore. The ship is capable of breaking 14 inches of ice continuously at 3 knots of speed.

    Reported by: U.S. Coast Guard


    Charges laid in dry docks death

    3/13 - Port Weller - Six charges against two companies have been laid by Ontario's Ministry of Labour following a year long investigation into the accident that killed St. Catharines dry docks work Mike Damiano.

    Port Weller Dry Docks and Seaway Marine & Industrial Inc face three charges each under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. They will appear in court in St. Catharines on April 18.

    A year ago today, Damiano was operating the Clyde crane at the dry docks in Port Weller when the crane collapsed. It fell into the open dry docks, crushing the cab he was in. Under Ontario regulations, the ministry of labour has exactly one year to press charges in fatal industrial accident cases.

    A ministry spokesman said the cause of the accident cannot be disclosed because it is now evidence before the courts.

    Each company was charged with failing to properly maintain materials, equipment and protective devices, failing to ensure the crane was properly inspected on an annual basis and failure to ensure the crane was being properly used.

    From the St. Catharines Standard


    Port Reports - March 13

    Alpena - Ben & Chanda McClain
    The shipping season at Lafarge began in the early morning hours of Wednesday with the arrival of the Alpena. The Alpena loaded cement overnight for South Chicago and was outbound in the bay at 10 a.m. On its way out it passed the inbound tug Samuel de Champlain and barge Innovation which had anchored during the morning to wait for a clear dock. The Innovation took on cargo also and departed before 3 p.m. The bay is open water but there is some ice farther out.

    Toronto - Charlie Gibbons
    Unloading began on Canadian Leader Tuesday afternoon. McKeil's tugs Wyatt M. and Jarrett M. went to the Redpath slip and pulled the Leader into the harbor, turned her around, and put her back in the slip bow forward. The tugs subsequently returned to their berth at Cherry Street.
    The Oakville-based tugs Orkney Isle and Emerald Bay came into port around 10 a.m. today and went to Pier 35, where they rafted to a barge being loaded. It is unknown at this time where they intend to take the barge.

    Port Colborne -
    Canadian enterprise left Port Colborne Wednesday, escorted by the Canadian Coast Guard ship Griffon. Canadian Transport appears ready to leave any day now.


    Welland Canal Opening Ceremony March 20

    3/13 - St. Catharines - The public is invited to attend the Mountain Top Ceremony of the 2008 Navigation Season to celebrate the opening of the Welland Canal.

    Jerry Bissette, Retired Ship Captain, will be this year’s keynote speaker, for the ceremony to be held at the Lock 7 Viewing Complex, 50 Chapel St., South Thorold, ON, beginning at 11:30 a.m.

    Other senior representatives of the Great Lakes marine industry and various levels of government will also be in attendance.

    Refreshments to follow in the Viewing Centre Complex


    Updates - March 13

    News Photo Gallery updated

    Reserve Conversion Gallery updated

    Click here to order BoatNerd Freighter trip raffle tickets.

    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.


    Icebreaking Begins in Duluth Harbor

    3/12 - Duluth - The U.S. Coast Guard began breaking Lake Superior ice in Duluth Tuesday to speed up the process of reopening lanes for the shipping season.

    Despite the warmer temperatures, the lake ice would take weeks to naturally melt, so the USCG Cutter Alder began by breaking ice in the harbor and planned to start forming shipping lanes. The Coast Guard planned to work farther off shore Wednesday and Thursday.

    ''We kind of work from the outside in there is no sense flushing this stuff from the harbor if it's just going to hit solid ice'' outside the harbor, Lt. Commander Kevin Wirth said.

    The Alder must break up ice 20 to 36 inches thick in the harbor. In general, this winter has been one of the worst in the last decade for ice coverage, Wirth said. The Coast Guard might have to use the Biscayne Bay, a 140-foot icebreaking tug, if the Alder can't cover enough ice on its own.

    The Mesabi Miner is scheduled to leave the Twin Ports Saturday or Sunday with a load of coal from Midwest Energy Resources, company president Fred Shusterich said. The ship will head to Marquette, Mich.

    From the Duluth News Tribune


    Container ship aground Update

    3/12 - The 800 foot container vessel MSC Sabrina remains stuck fast in two feet of clay at Trois Rivieres. Five tugs tried in vain to pull her free, three of the tugs have returned to their home ports. A new plan has been submitted to remove containers from the stuck vessel, according to reports the MSC Yokohama will unload in Montreal and proceed to Trois Rivieres and lighter the MSC Sabrina. This is expected to take place in the next few days, the MSC Yokohama is due in Montreal March 14.

    New reports blame the grounding on wind, blinding snow, and too much headway.

    Reported by Kent Malo


    Lake Huron ice pack under close watch

    3/12 - Owen Sound - Coast Guard vessel continue to work the area of the Huron Cut in southern Lake Huron allowing ship traffic to pass through the area.

    Canadian Coast Guard specialist Ron Morrow says Lake Huron and the St. Clair River remain open for now.

    Morrow says a significant area of 'pack' ice in southern Lake Huron, extending from Goderich to Sarnia/Port Huron, is being monitored closely.

    He says, it could easily be driven into the St. Clair River on a strong north wind.

    From Bayshore Broadcasting


    Port Reports - March 12

    St. Clair - Ron Piskor
    On Tuesday the Alpena departed Detroit after dropping a partial load it brought up from Cleveland the day before. She was upbound at St. Clair at 12:27 p.m.

    Port Huron - Frank Frisk
    Alpena passed BoatNerd World Headquarters at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday making her way to Alpena for a load of cement product. The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Katmai Bay was grooming a path for her out into Lake Huron. The shipping season has started.

    Cheboygan - Jon Paul Michael
    The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Hollyhock arrived in Cheboygan as it continues its ice breaking operations in advance of the 2008 Great Lakes Shipping Season. She was moored to the extra dock just south of the Mackinaw moorings.


    Sarnia's lay-up fleet ready for new season

    3/13 - Sarnia - Eleven Great Lakes vessels have spent the winter berthed at Sarnia, undergoing repairs that pumped millions of dollars into the city's economy.

    The largest project has been work on the 650-foot steamship Saginaw, which came here so its steam power could be replaced with a diesel engine.

    Most of the ship repairs will be complete by the end of March. The Saginaw will remain until the end of April when it will return to service.

    From the Sarnia Observer


    Rotary Park set for upgrades
    City to spruce up city park with $300,000 grant funds

    3/12 - Sault Ste. Marie - Universal access and a number of other improvements are coming to Rotary Park if the City of Sault Ste. Marie is successful in obtaining a $300,000 grant through the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund.

    “This will give a face-lift to one of our significant parks here in Sault Ste. Marie,” said City Manager Spencer Nebel saying the goal is to “make it a spot where people of various abilities can enjoy it together.”

    The proposed project includes: Accessible walkways around the park, a youth fishing platform for the kid's fishing pond, an asphalt drive complete with parking improvements, pedestrian lighting, a kayak landing with racks and lockers, and new playground equipment. Another proposed change - and one that appears to be much anticipated by many of the visitors - is a modern restroom facility to replace the old outhouse on the grounds.

    The new bathroom will be the priciest aspect of the project coming in at an estimated $95,000. Playground improvements come in at $58,000 with the new lights estimated to cost $48,000.

    The city will be required to pony up 25 percent of the funds for the proposed improvements and has earmarked the $102,830 from the sale of nearly 80 acres of land near the juncture of Riverside Drive and Gardenville Road to fund its portion of the project. Nebel indicated the city had to submit paperwork before the April 1 deadline in order to be considered for the latest round of grant funding. The state will likely make a decision on this matter sometime around Oct. 1, giving the city plenty of time to finish designs and send out bids in preparation for the 2009 construction season.

    The proposed project, Nebel noted, will follow improvements at the park which provide safe pedestrian crossings to the island undertaken by the Sault Rotary Club.
    While fishing and playground equipment have drawn many to this spot along the St. Mary's River, Nebel believes it is the large ships that draw many people to the park. “It's a great spot to watch the vessels go by,” he concluded.

    From the Soo Evening News


    BoatNerd Freighter Trip Raffle underway

    A trip for four aboard the legendary Great Lakes steamboat Edward L. Ryerson is the top prize in this year's BoatNerd Freighter Trip Raffle.

    Other prizes include: a port hole from the Calumet courtesy International Marine Salvage, a cruise aboard the Huron Lady II, sightseeing cruises of Duluth-Superior aboard the Vista Fleet, tickets for Diamond Jack's River Tours on the Detroit River, passes aboard the Keweenaw Star for a sunset cruise, and round trip tickets to Beaver Island, four prizes of passes for two on a Diamond Jack cruise on the Detroit River, a round trip for two including auto aboard the carferry Badger donated by the Lake Michigan Carferry and two Tours of the DeTour Reef Lighthouse courtesy the Detour Reef Light Preservation Society.

    All proceeds from the raffle will benefit the BoatNerd.Com Web site. Funds raised will be used to pay the charges associated with running such a busy site. Fund-raising raffles are our only method of support; without the raffle, BoatNerd.Com would be forced to discontinue this free web site.

    The drawing will take place at 2 p.m. on June 7, 2008 at the BoatNerd.Com World Headquarters at Vantage Point, in Port Huron, Mich. Donation: $10 per ticket, 3 for $25, 6 for $50 or 14 for $100.

    Click here to order, or for more information. Tickets are also available by mail, or in person at BoatNerd World Headquarters in Port Huron.

    State of Michigan Raffle License # R95375


    City of Midland 41 Print

    On March 12th 1941 the new Pere Marquette Railroad flagship ferry City Of Midland 41 sailed on her maiden voyage into Ludington, Michigan. This was a celebrated day with local businesses and schools closing to allow people to witness her first arrival into her new home port at approximately 1pm. In commemoration of this event Great Lakes Shipping Profiles has released a series of City Of Midland 41 prints. The ship is depicted in her 1941 livery as she would have looked on this day 67 years ago. Click here to view.


    Updates - March 12

    News Photo Gallery updated

    Reserve Conversion Gallery updated

    Click here to order BoatNerd Freighter trip raffle tickets.

    Public Photo Gallery updated


    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.


    Poe Lock to be filled Wednesday

    3/11 - Sault Ste. Marie - With winter work on the Poe Lock wrapping up early this week, the Corps of Engineers plans to re-fill the empty lock early on Wednesday as preparations for the upcoming shipping season continue.

    The Mackinac and Biscayne Bay will lock through the Poe on Thursday upbound.

    From the Soo Evening News


    Container ship aground at Trois-Rivières, Quebec

    3/11 - The 800 foot container vessel MSC Sabrina grounded late Saturday night enroute to Montreal. The Trois Rivieres tugs Andre H and the Avantage tried unsuccessfully to pull her from her perch and two more tugs were called in to help with the freeing of the vessel.

    The Sorel based Ocean Group tug Duga and the Montreal stationed Ocean Hercule arrived on scene and planned to wait for the tide to rise and pull the MSC Sabrina stuck from the estimated two feet of clay. The tugs were unsuccessful and the crew may be forced to removed some containers to lighten the vessel. The grounding was reportedly caused by engine cooling inlets being clogged with ice causing the engine to shut down.

    Once pulled off, she will likely be taken to Trois-Rivières for damage assessment before continuing to Montreal with her load of containers.  The Sabrina was enroute to Montreal from The Hague.

    Reported by Laurent


    Icebreaking begins on the St. Marys River

    3/11 - Sault Ste. Marie - U.S. Coast Guard icebreakers began work on the St. Mary's River this week in preparation for the March 25 opening of the Soo Locks.

    Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw began breaking ice Monday in the lower end of the West Neebish Channel from the Mud Lake Junction Buoy to Sawmill Point, below the Rock Cut. The ice bridges in the vicinity of Neebish Island will left undisturbed until the final days leading up to the lock opening.

    Mackinaw and Biscayne Bay will be locked through to the upper St. Mary's River on Thursday. Biscayne Bay will conduct ice-breaking duties in the western Lake Superior ports of Duluth, Minn. and Superior, Wis.

    Mackinaw will remain to prepare tracks in Whitefish Bay and the upper St. Mary's, continuing until March 25. Although not limited to a specific area, CGC Mackinaw will focus their activities to the charted Lake Carriers Association track lines.

    USCG News Release from the Sault Ontario Star and the Soo Evening News


    USCGC Alder to begin icebreaking Tuesday

    3/11 - Duluth - Beginning Tuesday, the U.S. Coast Guard will begin speeding the natural process. The USCG Cutter Alder is scheduled to pull away from its dock around 8:30 a.m. to begin breaking ice in the harbor and the shipping lanes in the lake.

    “The plan is to pretty much open up the Superior Front Channel and proceed out the Superior Entry” Tuesday, Lt. Commander Kevin Wirth, the Alder’s commanding officer, said. “It will be a day trip. Wednesday and Thursday we plan being out overnight, working farther offshore. We kind of work from the outside in there is no sense flushing this stuff from the harbor if it’s just going to hit solid ice” outside the harbor.

    In the harbor, the Alder faces ice from 20 to 36 inches thick. The Alder may have to back up and ram to break 36-inch ice. The ship has broken 18-inch ice at a steady three to five knots.

    To safely break ice, the Alder is equipped with a re-enforced bow: steel plating at least five-eighths of an inch thick, supporting by frames spaced only a foot apart twice as close as else-where on the ship. The 225-foot, 2,000-ton Alder was launched in 2004 in Marinette, Wis. It was stationed in Duluth to replace the World War II-era Sundew, and is responsible for icebreaking, search and rescue, and placing navigational aids.

    Recent pictures taken from satellites indicate the Alder will find the open lake to be 80 percent to 90 percent ice covered out as far as Two Harbors.

    “It’s the third-worst year in the last 20 and second-worst in the last 10 as far as ice coverage goes,” Wirth said.

    But satellites don’t show how thick the lake ice is, and the ice comes and goes with the winds.

    “With the northeast wind over the weekend we had it pack in pretty well here,” Wirth said. “But it’s real fickle. What I tell you today may not be true tomorrow. Depending upon what we find, they may send us another asset. And that would likely be the Biscayne Bay.”

    The Coast Guard moved the 140-foot icebreaking tug Biscayne Bay from St. Ignace, Mich., to the Twin Ports last year to handle icebreaking duties after the Alder’s crew discovered hydraulic fluid leaking though a bad seal in the vessel's controllable-pitch propeller system during machinery trials on March 8. The Alder remained at its dock at the Duluth Coast Guard station until divers repaired the leak in late-April.

    Thus is was the Biscayne Bay that escorted the 1,004-foot Mesabi Miner out of the Twin Ports on March 16 last year the first laker of the shipping season to leave the harbor.

    This year, the Mesabi Miner is scheduled to leave the Twin Ports Saturday or Sunday with a load of coal from Midwest Energy Resources, bound for Marquette, Mich. “We’re going to load on Saturday, but I’m not sure what time of the day. So it may ship into Sunday,” Midwest Energy Resources President Fred Shusterich said.

    From the Duluth News Tribune


    Port Reports - March 11

    Detroit -
    The Alpena entered the Detroit River Monday evening after a slow passage upbound from Cleveland. The vessel will stop to unload a partial storage load at Detroit before heading upbound to load in its name sake city.


    Updates - March 11

    News Photo Gallery updated

    Reserve Conversion Gallery updated

    Click here to order BoatNerd Freighter trip raffle tickets.

    Public Photo Gallery updated


    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. Renamed b.) KOYAMA 3 in 1983, c.) IONIAN EAGLE in 1989. Purchased by Soconav in 1991, renamed d.) LÕAIGLE. Sold, renamed e.) ALAM KERISI in 1996, f.) SALDA in 1999, and sails today as the tanker g.) ARAL.

    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.



    Cement Boats first to depart Lay Up

    3/10 - Shipping on Lake Michigan and Lake Erie got underway for the 2008 season with the departure of two cement carriers.

    Sunday afternoon the tug Samuel de Champlain and barge Innovation departed lay-up in Milwaukee.

    The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Katmai Bay spent Sunday morning working through the ice off Cleveland in an effort to open the port for the 2008 season. The first arrival for the Lake Erie port is unknown but the wintering Alpena departed Sunday evening heading to load in her name sake city on Lake Huron. Early Monday morning the Alpena appeared to have stopped for the night in Lake Erie east of Lorain, Ohio.

    The American Courage and tug Dorothy Ann with the barge Pathfinder remain in Cleveland in Winter lay-up.


    Twin Ports Ready for Ice Breaking

    3/10 - One of the first signs of spring appears Tuesday on Lake Superior: The Coast Guard will begin its ice breaking after a particularly cold, rough winter.

    The quiet harbor of the Twin Ports will give way to the crunching of ice as the Coast Guard Cutter Alder starts making a path for ships. Coast Guard Lieutenant Travis Noyes says they’ve got their work “cut” out for them, so to speak, with ice 20 to 30 inches thick. "It's more ice growth than we got last year in the harbor due to the extended cold snaps that we've had. Alder's ice breaking capability is up to three feet of ice to break so we're still within our capabilities and still are planning to get underway to break out the harbor.” Noyes says the crew looks forward to getting out there. "I certainly enjoy it. I enjoy driving the ship. It's always fun driving the ship through ice. It makes it a little more exciting and definitely more challenging.”

    The Soo Locks open March 25. Meanwhile, Lake Superior water levels are seven inches higher than a year ago, while Lake Michigan remains lower than this time last year. The US Army Corp of Engineers in Detroit says Lake Superior levels should stay above last year’s near record lows at least through August. The downside, especially for the shipping industry which depends on normal water levels to carry full loads of cargo, is that the lower Great Lakes are down. Lakes Michigan and Huron are five inches below last year.

    Reported by: KUWS Superior, Wi


    Port Reports - March 10

    Port Huron -
    Yankcanuck was downbound and due at Port Huron after midnight Sunday. She has been carrying steel from Algoma to Detroit and Windsor. This trip is expected to end in Cleveland.


    Fraser exemplifies working Superior waterfront

    3/10 - Superior, MI - While many Superior businesses have closed or changed their focus over the decades, Fraser Shipyards retains its long-time identity along the city’s working waterfront.

    In place since the 1890s, Fraser Shipyards stands as a sentinel to Superior’s industrialized harbor. In the earliest years, operating under the moniker of American Steel Barge, Capt. Alexander McDougal built some of his whaleback ships at the site on Clough Avenue. During World War II, the site was a repair facility for Naval Vessels. Today, it has outlasted the passel of Duluth-Superior shipyards that gradually closed after the war.

    John Boutin is the project engineer. “The sight has been through about eight differe und to load in its name sake city. e operation, privately owned by Twin Ports resident Todd Johnson is James “Jim” Korthals, president and chief operating officer. Korthals has a vision and direction for the company to allow most of the seasonal workers at Fraser to enjoy year round work.

    He hopes to “increase the workforce to nearly 60 full time employees through the summer by diversification without impacting current customers.” Korthals is searching to find heavy, industrial fabrication work for Fraser, allowing for a more steady and seasoned workforce.

    Walroos proudly points out the skilled labor force at the facility.

    “Several years ago, during fleet exercises, two U.S. Navy ships collided, causing structural damage to a submarine tender. Fraser Shipyards was located as a facility that could repair the damaged Navy vessel due to the longstanding skill of riveting, abandon by other shipyards. A team of employees was flown to Hawaii to affect the six-week repair. Anthracite coal was also airlifted to the island since it is the only coal capable of properly heating the rivets.”

    Boutin, also a trained naval architect, explained that certain repairs have to be accomplished in the manner in which the vessel was constructed. “Since the freighters that ply the Great Lakes have considerable more lifespan than their saltwater cousins, the older technique of ‘hot-riveting’ is still a valuable trade for maintenance of today’s Great Lakes Fleet,” he said.

    “Being active in the community is a priority for Fraser,” Walroos said. He currently works with a high school welding class from Solon Springs. “Their teacher will teach the students the procedures of welding at an industrial level, and we have made arrangements to bring them to Fraser to be tested. This will be the same standard of testing used to certify our employees, accepted by the American Bureau of Shipping and the U.S. Coast Guard for vessel repair.”

    Fraser Shipyards enjoys a historically rich past, sound operations in the present and solid footing for the future, visually marking the entrance to Superior’s industrial side.

    From the Superior Daily Telegram


    2008 S/S Badger Boatnerd Gathering Cruise Announced

    On Saturday, May 31, 2008, we are once again pleased to offer the Boatnerd Badger Gathering. A round-trip crossing of Lake Michigan from Ludington, Michigan to Manitowoc, Wisconsin, aboard the Lake Michigan Carferry S/S Badger.

    Join us in traveling on the only coal-fired steamer left on the Great Lakes. Visit the Wisconsin Maritime Museum in Manitowoc and see the operating restored forward engine from the legendary railroad ferry Chief Wawatam, and the WWII submarine Cobia, OR go on the optional Wisconsin Shoreline Cruise aboard the Badger.

    Lee Murdoch will be on board to offer entertainment both ways across the lake.

    On Friday night, May 30, we have arranged a special Badger Boatel B&B to stay aboard the steamer on the night prior to the cruise. Reservations for staterooms are limited. This optional part of the gathering may offer pilothouse and engine room tours.

    See the Boatnerd Gathering Page for complete details and sign up form.


    Updates - March 10

    News Photo Gallery updated

    Click here to order BoatNerd Freighter trip raffle tickets.

    Public Photo Gallery updated


    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.


    Gordon C. Leitch destination changed

    3/9 - The destination of Gordon C. Leitch has been changed to the Quebec Cartier Mining Dock at Port Cartier. Her ETA was 5:30 PM Saturday.

    Reported by René Beauchamp


    Welland Opens March 20, St. Lawrence Seaway March 22

    3/9 - Kingston - The St. Lawrence Seaway will open for its 50th navigational season in two weeks.

    The management corporation that runs the seaway announced Friday that the channel will open for navigation on March 22, while the Welland Canal will open on March 20, tying a record set in 2007 for the earliest it has ever been open.

    The corporation and Transport Canada will spend $270 million over the next five years refurbishing the half-century-old waterway, which Richard Corfe, president and CEO of the board that runs it, expects will maintain or increase its shipping volume in the years to come. "This investment recognizes the Seaway's vital contribution to our economy and quality of life," said Richard Corfe, president/CEO.

    "Marine transportation remains by far the most energy-efficient means of transporting cargo, a fact not lost in an age of $100-per-barrel oil."

    A number of strategies are being initiated by the corporation to maximize the use of the existing locks and channels over the next 50 years. Among them is a revised tariff of tolls, which will remain frozen until at least 2011, as well as incentives and volume discounts to generate more shipping business.

    "The shipping season promises new milestones in environmental protection, economic activity and renewed investment in one of the world's most significant maritime shipping networks," said Collister Johnson, Jr., administrator of the U.S. Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corp.

    "New ballast water standards will better protect our vital marine habitats, new traffic in high-demand products like wind turbines will increase shipping volumes and record infrastructure funding requests will bring new promise to countless communities that profit from Great Lakes shipping."

    Canadian and U.S. Coast Guard icebreakers will clear the way for commercial shipping on the St. Lawrence River on March 19. The ice breakers will proceed from Beauharnois, Que., near Montreal, to Cape Vincent, N.Y., at the eastern tip of Lake Ontario, Sam Babisky, superintendent of operations at the coast guard's regional operations centre in Sarnia.

    "It's going to make one track ... up the St. Lawrence River and then return the same way," he said, adding the journey should begin at 6 a.m. that day. Although the forecast calls for ice on the river through the end of March and even into April, Babisky said the two passes should be enough to open up a shipping channel.

    From the Kingston Whig-Standard


    4th Annual Great Lakes Steamship Whistle Blow planned

    3/9 - Goodells, MI - The fourth hosting of the Great Lakes Steamship Whistle Blow will be held at Noon, Saturday and Sunday August 23 and 24, 2008 at the Goodells County Park, Goodells Michigan (10 miles inland of Port Huron).

    Prior year headliners for the event were: Passenger ship South American, Boblo Boat Columbia, Amoco Tankers Illinois and Wisconsin, Lumber Hooker Oconto, Freighter Joseph H. Frantz and many smaller ship, train and factory whistles.

    Bring your whistles or come to listen to those brought by area collectors. Mark your calendar. For further details contact


    Updates - March 9

    News Photo Gallery updated

    Click here to order BoatNerd Freighter trip raffle tickets.


    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.


    Port Report - March 8

    Montreal - René Beauchamp
    Gordon C. Leitch is back in service. She departed Montreal Friday morning for Havre St. Pierre on the lower St. Lawrence River. She is likely going to load iron ore for delivery at Contrecoeur.


    Lakes water levels expected to rebound with high snow volume

    3/8 - Detroit - The melt from one of the snowiest winters in years around the Great Lakes is expected to boost water levels in the upper lakes, which had hit or approached record lows last fall, by as much as a foot this summer, bringing joy to boaters and lakeside businesses.

    "We didn't expect this dramatic turnaround," said Scott Thieme, chief hydrologist of the Detroit office of the Army Corps of Engineers. "It's a much better picture than it was six months ago. ...We're just amazed at the weather we've had." Last fall, projections were dire. Lake Superior hit record lows in August and September, and Lakes Michigan and Huron were near all-time lows. The Corps expected spring to bring new record lows.

    Meteorologists across the Great Lakes said this season's heavy storms have pulled in moisture from as far away as the Gulf of Mexico. This snow is heavy, dense and full of water, compared with the usual lake-effect storms that suck moisture off the Great Lakes and drop it back as fluffy, dry snow, merely recycling the water from lake to land, back to lake. The imported moisture also bodes well for thirsty streams, rivers and inland lakes, some of which also had reached extremely low levels.

    "We've had copious snow and rain across the Great Lakes into Wisconsin, Iowa and Illinois, so I would think they'll be on the high side of the projections," said Bill Deedler, meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in White Lake Township. Those projections generally suggest levels in the upper Great Lakes this summer will be 6 to 12 inches higher than they were last summer.

    In Grand Rapids, weather service meteorologist Janis Laurens agreed with other colleagues. "Michigan has gotten hammered," she said. Grand Rapids, Flint and Saginaw had their snowiest Februarys ever, and tiny Wellston, near Manistee, already set a new record for the winter season.

    While boaters and lakefront property owners will mostly take notice when warm weather arrives, the snow also has been sweet for snowmobilers and skiers who have suffered through recent winters. The snow is mostly due to a La Niña weather pattern that draws on cooler Pacific Ocean waters, meteorologists said.

    Deedler said inland lakes were low last summer, especially before heavy rains in August. "They dried out, but I think we'll start this spring on a good note," he said. "If we're lucky, it will hold into summer." Scott Rozanski, weather service meteorologist in Gaylord, said the heavy snow this winter tends to melt less quickly than lake-effect snow. "It's staying on the ground, so when it melts, it will soak in," he said.

    Although the Great Lakes are expected to rebound higher through August, the Corps said the upper lakes -- Superior, Michigan and Huron -- will be below their long-term averages. In December, Lakes Michigan and Huron, joined by the Straits of Mackinac, were just inches above a record low. The two lakes will still be 18-24 inches below longtime averages this summer, but 6 to 12 inches above record lows. "There aren't any more scary records looming," Thieme said.

    Lake Superior is expected to be about 8 to 12 inches below its average. Levels for Lake Ontario should be at or above average for the next six months.

    Lake St. Clair is up considerably -- on year-to-year comparisons -- since December. That is likely to moderate this spring, though, leaving the lake 3 to 11 inches below average into summer. A wet spring could bring the lake closer to its average, Thieme said. Lake Erie should be near or above normal.

    All the lakes but Superior rose in February, a time when they normally fall. Evaporation remains an issue, as lake temperatures heading into winter were higher than normal, leading to low ice cover. Erie froze over only in late February, three weeks later than normal, the National Ice Center said.

    Last year was one of the worst on the Great Lakes for shippers. Some had to load so lightly because of low water that they lost 15,000 tons of cargo per trip, said Glenn Nekvasil, spokesman for the Lake Carriers Association in Cleveland. "A few inches will be appreciated, but we're talking about recovering feet of draft, so a little extra snow this year is not going to solve a lot of problems," Nekvasil said.

    From the Detroit Free Press


    Icebreaking starts off Escanaba

    3/8 - Escanaba The Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw was in Escanaba Thursday cutting through ice on Little Bay de Noc to prepare for the shipping season, which could start as early as next week.

    The ship is based out of Cheboygan in lower Michigan, and traveled to Escanaba Wednesday from Sturgeon Bay, Wis., according to Ensign Erin Chlum. “Sturgeon Bay is where a lot of cargo ships lay up for the winter,” said Chlum.

    The ships tend to be docked from Jan. 15 through March 25, when the Soo Locks reopen, according to Commander John Little said there are currently 15 ships waiting in Sturgeon Bay. “With the Soo Locks opening soon, the Mackinaw is coming through to break the ice so the shippers can start loading cargo and heading toward their destinations,” said Chlum.

    Little said more tonnage comes through the Soo Locks than the Suez and Panama canals combined. Products like iron ore, coal, wheat and grain are shipped through the Great Lakes. For example, General Mills has a large plant in Duluth, Minn., and it ships wheat and grain from there to Gary, Ind. When the Soo Locks are closed, products north of here are shipped by rail to Escanaba and other cities on Lake Michigan to be sent down the lake to the Chicago area.

    Little said the Coast Guard’s involvement is critical in the shipping industries, and the Mackinaw has responsibilities all the way to the bottom of Lake Michigan and the other side of Lake Huron. “The shipping lanes (on the Great Lakes) are like an interstate for shippers,” Little said. “Our job is to start laying out the tracks for those ships to move.”

    Chlum and Little said the Coast Guard wants local residents to be aware of the track being cut in the ice. “We have to coordinate our movements with recreational ice use,” said Little. “There’s a lot of ice shanties out there and we want them to be careful while snowmobiling,” said Chlum.

    Chlum said the next step for the Mackinaw is leaving the Green Bay area and heading toward the Straits of Mackinac for new ice breaking. “The CGC Mobile Bay will be coming out within the next week to widen our track and help get ready,” Chlum said.

    In addition to heavy icebreaking, the relatively new Mackinaw, commissioned in 2006, has state of the art systems and multi-mission capabilities that include servicing buoys, search and rescue, law enforcement and the ability to deploy an oil skimming system to respond to oil spills. The ship is 240 feet long, and has a crew of 55.

    From the Escanaba Daily Press


    Season coming in Duluth-Superior port

    3/8 - Duluth - The Coast Guard announced that the USCG Alder will begin breaking ice in the main channels of Duluth-Superior harbor on Tuesday. It warned fishermen and others to stay clear of the broken ice.

    There’s no word yet on the first vessel movements, but in recent years Interlake Steamship Co. typically has put a 1,000-footer to work in mid-March carrying coal to power plants on Lake Superior. This year Mesabi Miner is docked at Midwest Energy Terminal.

    Reported by Al Miller


    More Seaway icebreaking to begin March 19

    3/8 - Cornwall Ont. - Despite the fact that even more snow is in the forecast and the temperature remains below zero a sure sign of spring is just ahead - icebreaking.

    The Canadian Coast Guard announced Thursday that March 19 will be the start date for icebreaking on the St. Lawrence Seaway.

    Starting that day vessels with the Canadian and U.S. Coast Guard will begin opening ice covered sections of the seaway from the Welland Canal to Prescott, Lake St. Francis and the Beauharnois Canal.

    From the Cornwall Standard


    Dilapidated lake ferry Lansdowne to be removed
    City threatened$1,000-per-day fines

    3/8 - Buffalo - A historic but unsightly boat, branded an eyesore by City of Buffalo officials, should be “anchors aweigh” by May 1.

    The owner of the lake ferry Lansdowne is promising to meet a city-imposed deadline to move the 124- year-old marine relic from the city’s outer harbor. “We are talking with a couple of people who are interested in taking [the Lansdowne], and our goal is to complete a transaction so she can be relocated by the May 1 deadline,” said John D. Tallichet, president of Specialty Restaurants Corp., which owns the vessel.

    Early last month, Mayor Byron W. Brown threatened to levy $1,000-a-day fines against Specialty and the owners of marina where it’s docked if the Lansdowne has not departed by May Day. “We set a deadline for removal of the boat, and it’s clear we got their attention,” said Brown’s spokesman, Peter Cutler. “We’ll be watching them closely to see if they follow through on moving it.”

    Cutler said Thursday that the city has extended a March 1 deadline for owners of South End Marina to provide a detailed engineering report on the structural integrity of its mooring system at the site.

    Specialty Restaurants, which operates Shanghai Red’s restaurant at Erie Basin Marina, has owned the Lansdowne for two decades, formerly using it as a floating restaurant in Detroit. Tallichet said it was a longtime dream of his late father, David C. Tallichet, to bring it back to life as a dining/entertainment venue. “Dad had a vision for that boat and was very persistent. He wanted to see [it] as part of a major development someplace, but that never worked out,” said John Tallichet, whose father died last fall.

    The elder Tallichet’s search for a permanent mooring site for the Lansdowne began in the early 1990s, when it was booted from the Detroit waterfront. City officials in Cleveland and Buffalo subsequently rejected Specialty’s plans for shipboard dining.

    The football-field-sized boat quietly bided its time along the banks of the Buffalo River, off Ganson Street, for several years, attracting no controversy. But all that changed in late November when the Ganson Street dock changed ownership, and Specialty was forced to find what John Tallichet termed a “temporary storage site.” Tallichet said he was “stunned” when Brown and Rep. Brian Higgins, D-Buffalo, called a Feb. 1 news conference at the outer harbor marina to issue the “get out of town” edict.

    “In our minds, it was always a temporary site while we worked out a permanent deal. We never intended to just leave it there,” he said.

    From the Buffalo News


    Winter gives Coast Guard time for safety inspections

    3/8 - Sturgeon Bay Commerce on the Great Lakes is part of the lifeblood of the region's and nation's economy. One of the pieces that keep some of those vessels moving is a seven-person U.S. Coast Guard detachment in Sturgeon Bay known as the Marine Safety Detachment.

    Each year, personnel assigned to the unit spend the winter going over a portion of the fleet of lakers that ply the Great Lakes moving coal, iron ore, concrete and other bulk commodities making sure the vessels are safe and seaworthy while they are laid up at Bay Shipbuilding Co. in Sturgeon Bay.

    "Any repairs that are done on these boats have to be inspected by both the Coast Guard and the American Bureau of Shipping," said Lt. Cmdr. Joe DuFresne, supervisor of the detachment. "Once the crews get back on board, we'll go through all the safety gear, machinery, boilers, run some lifesaving and firefighting drills and test all the equipment to make sure it's safe for the season."

    DuFresne said the Coast Guard works in conjunction with the ship owners, the shipyard and members of the American Bureau of Shipping as they look over safety systems, machinery and firefighting equipment. He said the unit is mindful of the business side of the operation as well.

    "It's critical for us to understand the business side of what we're looking at," DuFresne said. "It's a balance we're constantly playing, that's why it's important we maintain that relationship with the companies and the mariners, so we can reach a balance between maintaining commerce, safety of the crew and the environment."

    Working with the Coast Guard are surveyors from the American Bureau of Shipping, a not-for-profit classification society, who work toward "the security of life, property and the marine environment through the development and verification of standards for the design, construction and operational maintenance of marine-related facilities."

    One of their main charges is making sure new and existing vessels meet the applicable standards of the organization and as well as statutory standards. If those standards aren't met, they will look at what needs to be done to bring it into compliance.

    "Safety, ultimately, is not negotiable because it's not just a question of the ship or the cargo, it's a question of the crew and there are lives that are dependant upon it," said Stewart Wade, vice president of external affairs with the American Bureau of Shipping. "Increasingly, a very significant element that concerns an awful lot of governments is the potential for pollution.

    "If you have a casualty that involves the release of fuel it's not just a commercial loss of the cargo, it is the incredible potential costs of that pollution on the coastline, the wildlife, the fishing industries and so on," he said. "The pollution cost can far outstrip the value of the cargo."

    Of the ships the Coast Guard detachment in Sturgeon Bay sees, seven are propelled by steam a system that requires special attention for their large high-pressure boilers. The Sturgeon Bay detachment performs more steam propulsion inspections than any other port in the country. Members of the detachment are on site daily, and DuFresne said he's out in the shipyard at least once a week.

    But as the work wraps up and the ships prepare to head back to the lakes, he'll be out there every day beginning next week along with the rest of the detachment. "It's one of the advantages of being a lieutenant commander here, I get to get out of the office and get dirty," he said with a laugh.

    Members of the detachment will also do four hull inspections this year on vessels in Bay Ship's graving dock to locate any possible areas that need repairs. These inspections out of the water are required every six years.

    "It's satisfying to see these vessels going out (of Sturgeon Bay) keeping the economy of the Great Lakes going and knowing the Coast Guard … played an important part in making sure it's done safely and efficiently," DuFresne said.

    From the Green Bay Gazette


    Lake Erie Biofuels discusses exports

    3/8 - Erie, PA - Pennsylvania’s largest biodiesel facility Lake Erie Biofuels LLC shipped what it considered the first-ever load of biodiesel on the Great Lakes Waterway on Dec. 20. The 45 MMgy plant produced its first batch of fuel Nov. 29 and exported 1.5 millions gallons of biodiesel two days before the seasonal lock closings. Plant Manager Mike Nobel said the company had to rush to finish production in order to beat the lock closures but didn’t experience any unusual problems.

    The fuel traveled through Lake Erie, the Welland Canal, Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence Seaway before steaming across the Atlantic Ocean to its final destination in Rotterdam, Netherlands.

    Nobel said the company plans to use the Great Lakes for fuel shipments as much as possible and will transport fuel via rail to the East Coast during winter months when the Great Lakes locks are closed. Canal lock closures generally last approximately three months, and Nobel expects shipping lanes to reopen by the first week of April. “It’s more cost beneficial to us to be able to ship out of the Great Lakes,” he said, adding that the company has only shipped via rail twice, so cost comparisons aren’t available yet. However, the loading docks are located less than a mile from the plant. Vessel sizes on the Great Lakes are restricted to 1.5 million gallons due to Welling Canal’s size limitations.

    Nobel said most of the plant’s current volume will be sent to Europe while the company works to build its domestic customer base. “Our preference is to sell domestically, but right now, the European market is much more developed than the biodiesel market in the United States,” he said. “In order to keep our plant running at high volume, we need to do the export shipments.” Most of the biodiesel shipped to Europe will be unloaded in Rotterdam, Europe’s main seaport. Lake Erie Biofuels sells its fuel to brokers, so the company doesn’t know who the end-users are.

    The company recently expanded its operations to include a new pretreatment facility that will enable the versatility of feedstocks. Economics and market demand were the driving force behind the pretreatment plant, which allows the company to use animal fats and soybean oil as feedstocks. “We will use whatever we can,” said Mark Heckman, director of sales, procurement and commodity risk management for Lake Erie Biofuels. “We have a filtration system unique to this plant and can run every ASTM-grade fuel. We strive for quality and test every tank to ensure the quality of that batch. We will not ship until [the biodiesel] meets our standards.”

    From Biodiesel Magazine


    Shortage of skilled workers has area businesses worried

    3/8 - Owen Sound, Ont. - Area business leaders talked about the looming shortage of skilled workers Monday morning. In the afternoon, they went looking for potential new employees at Georgian College in Owen Sound.

    Employers are growing desperate for workers.

    Recruiters for Great Lakes shipping contractors Upper Lakes and Algoma Central had splashy displays at the college job fair. Across the aisle, representatives from Transcontinental RBW Graphics, which recently announced it was expanding its Owen Sound plant, were looking for staff. Several financial agencies, the Canadian Forces, the Ontario Provincial Police, Ontario Power Generation, Bell Alliant, Grey Bruce Health Services and Bruce Power were also at the fair.

    The shipping companies, which offer good pay, feel the pressure. Bruce Power can offer nautical engineers a steady home life that sailing can’t provide. Marine graduates are paid $50,000 to start for a six and a half month work year. Ships captains and chief engineers command six figure salaries.

    Algoma Central crewing manager Brooke Cameron spends most of February and March recruiting new sailors at Canada’s four marine training centres. Algoma needs 1,400 people to crew its ships now and business prospects are upbeat. Cameron says the company can’t meet demand. “We have a large number of people retiring in the next five years and we don’t have the people” to replace them, Cameron said.

    Students are catching on to the skills shortage situation, Georgian College co-op consultant Lise Mollon said. High school students flocked to the event despite the fact school buses hired to bring them from school weren’t running Monday because of road conditions in the morning. “I don’t think we could have done this eight years ago,” Mollon said of the job fair. “I don’t think we could have had the buy-in from employers.”

    Now companies are clamoring for access. “I was turning people away. We were full,” Mollon said.

    Excerpted from the Owen Sound Sun Times


    Owen Sound Marine and Rail Museum opens shipwrecks exhibit

    3/8 - Owen Sound - Anyone who sails the Great Lakes knows how treacherous they can be. Calm waves can give way in almost no time at all to ferocious seas that don't discriminate between a small sailing craft and the largest lake freighter.

    Thousands of vessels litter the bottom of the lakes, more than a few of those in Georgian Bay. Their names and their stories have inspired a new exhibit at the Owen Sound Marine & Rail Museum - Shipwrecks of Georgian Bay, slated to open on April 10.

    A news release from the museum said the exhibit "will pay tribute to those who lost their lives in those shipwrecks and provide information on the vessels involved. It will also provide information on those who survived, the rescues and lifesaving equipment." But the museum is looking for the public's assistance. Curator of collections Mindy Gill-Sitoski would like to hear from anyone who may have stories, artifacts or other items pertaining to a Georgian Bay wreck - "basically any kind of information that (people) can bring us."

    Gill-Sitoski noted there are probably many people who can remember the sinking of the Hibou in Owen Sound Bay in 1936 or who are related to those who survived the sinking of the Manasoo in 1928 near Griffith Island. "From what I've been reading . . . Owen Sound in the summer . . .was known for easy sailing. But it's the fall and the winter, when storms and winds can just pick up, that caused a lot of problems."

    The museum has also put out a call for ship models - eight in particular: the Asia (built in 1873, sank in 1882), the Manasoo (1888-1928), the Hibou (1907-1936), the Mary Ward (1864-1872), the Waubuno (1865-1879), the Manitoulin (1880-1882), the J.H. Jones (1888-1906) and the City of Owen Sound (1875-1887), later renamed the Saturn (1896-1901).

    The goal is having the models provide a tangible example of ships that most only know about from books, pictures or stories. Gill-Sitoski said it's not uncommon to find models for ships that could be considered obscure.

    "Sometimes if they can find a good photograph of (a ship), they'll base the model on the photograph. It might not be to scale. . . but people do create them," she said. "I'm hoping to find somebody who's made one of the specific ships we want". Anyone who has something they would like to contribute to the exhibit is asked to contact the museum at 519-371-3333.

    From the Owen Sound Sun Times


    Updates - March 8

    News Photo Gallery updated

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    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.


    Several new names announced for Lower Lakes Towing

    3/7 - Lower Lakes Towing Ltd. continues its expansion, acquiring three former Oglebay Norton Co. vessels, David Z, Earl W. and Wolverine, from the Wisconsin & Michigan Steamship Co.

    The Wolverine is now under Canadian registry as Robert S. Pierson, while the others will sail under the U.S. flag for the firm's Grand River Navigation Co. division as Manitowoc and Calumet (replacing another vessel of that name that is being scrapped).

    The Robert S. Pierson is the first vessel in the Lower Lakes fleet to honor an individual. Robert Scott Pierson, who died last December at age 71, was active in the Canadian shipping industry, working for Misener Transportation and, in 1975, starting his own firm, The Soo River Company. Until his passing, he worked for Lower Lakes Towing/Grand River Navigation Co. This is the second vessel to carry Pierson’s name, the first being the 1925-built Reiss Brothers, which carried that name from 1980-82 and was eventually scrapped as Spruceglen (1).

    Voyageur Independent and Voyageur Pioneer are now under the Lower Lakes flag as well, and will be renamed Ojibway and Kaministiquia. The company has also contracted for the use of Maritime Trader.


    Seaway Icebreaking to Start March 13

    3/7 - Cornwall, Ont. - The St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation (SLSDC) is working with the Canadian Coast Guard to get the Montreal-Lake Ontario section of the Seaway open by March 22, and says the Seaway has been open by the end of March for 20 of the last 22 years.

    Recreational users are being asked to stay away from the Eisenhower and Snell Locks along the St. Lawrence Seaway when ice-breaking begins on March 13.

    All areas above, below, and in between the two locks will be off-limits due to the unstable ice cover.

    The SLSDC determines icebreaking dates based on several factors, including availability of equipment and industry demand for Seaway access.

    Dates for ice breaking along the upper St. Lawrence River have not yet been determined.

    From the Cornwall Standard Freeholder


    Algoma Steel to boost production

    3/7 - Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. - Algoma Steel Inc.'s commitment to a near doubling of production will include firing up a second blast furnace.

    "Work on No. 6 blast furnace is proceeding according to plan with a targeted start in late spring-early summer, depending on a number of variables," stated Brenda Stenta, ASI's manager of corporate communications. The twinning of the idle No. 6 blast furnace with workhorse No. 7, the Sault Ste. Marie steelmaker's lone operational furnace, would go a long way towards achieving the corporation's expanded production targets.

    New ownership, Algoma Acquisition Corp., a wholly-owned subsidiary of India's Essar Steel Holdings, that acquired ASI in a cash takeover last summer, has thrown its support behind senior management's expansion vision. The corporation expects to invest a minimum $500 million in the next three to five years aimed at increasing annual steel production from 2.5 million tons to 4.5 million tons.

    No. 6, idle for more than a dozen years, since it performed a six-month backup in mid-1995, has the capacity to contribute one million tons of liquid iron annually, half the new production target. Prior to the backup assignment, No. 6, commissioned in 1953, had been out of service since June, 1991. "We are actively sourcing additional coal and iron ore to support increased production and we're working on the necessary material-handling infrastructure improvements in parallel," said Stenta.

    The blast furnace, which heats up to 1,500 degrees Celsius (2,725 Fahrenheit) during the iron-making process, has its molten iron mixed downstream with recycled steel and alloys to produce liquid steel. That is diverted to the Direct Strip Production Complex (DSPC) and the slab caster, which produces multi-tonne slabs for the plate and strip rolling mills.

    The blast furnace and material-handling infrastructure are the only options Algoma is willing to discuss at present. "Our dock facilities are already at capacity and with increased production we will need to undertake a major redevelopment and expansion of our dock facilities in order to support our operation and accommodate the needs of other local businesses that use our docking facilities," stated Stenta.

    "In conjunction, we require some dredging to address the challenge of reduced water levels in Lake Superior."

    Algoma has the city's only deep-water dock on the upper St. Mary's River, at Leigh's Bay. Acquired from A.B. McLean in 1994, it's a 700-foot dock, with room for expansion. It has a railway spur and full seaway draft of more than 27 feet for moored vessels.

    The steelmaker also stressed that "regional rail corridors are stretched to service our current shipping needs and they are in need of substantial track improvements." Current track conditions have a significant impact on Algoma's cost structure, said Stenta, due to reduced speeds and other load restrictions, "and we are concerned about their ability to handle substantial container traffic."

    City council, in a recent report on its multimodal opportunity, learned that a minimum $50 million investment was needed into area rail infrastructure upgrades. Huron-Central Railway indicated to the authors of the multimodal report that it will be reviewing its options, including possible closure of the short-haul railway line, at the end of this year.

    Algoma is also looking to address a host of other infrastructure issues on and around its property, including roads and rail-switching, in order to adequately support increased inbound and outbound shipments. "We are in discussions with several community partners, suppliers and the appropriate government agencies to actively manage these issues," concluded Stenta.

    "Obviously our ability to address these major infrastructure issues, and the timing of each project, will also be determined by the availability of capital and resources."

    From the Sault Star


    Wyandotte plans to build wind turbines along the Detroit River

    3/7 - Wyandotte, MI - Wyandotte is looking to take advantage of alternative energy generation by building wind turbines along the Detroit River.

    The city is planning to erect five wind turbines that could cost between $13 and $15 million. However, when complete each turbine could produce enough electricity to power 500 homes each year.

    "We want to demonstrate that you don't need to be in the middle of a field in Minnesota to make this work," says Jim French, assistant to the general manager for Wyandotte Municipal Services. "We want to show that this is viable in an urban and brownfield setting."

    So far the city, which owns its own utility company, has spent $300,000 (mostly U.S. Department of Energy money) to study the proposal for the last year. The idea is to reduce the city's carbon footprint and bolster the city's reputation as a leader in developing alternative energy sources.

    The wind turbines would be built at the BASF plant, two at the Wyandotte Shores Golf Course and two more on city-owned property at 8th Street and Central Avenue. The construction time would be to start late next year and have them installed within six months in early 2010.

    From The News-Herald


    New "Handysize" tug completes successful trials
    More tugs under construction

    3/7 - Cleveland - Great Lakes Shipyard has successfully completed seatrials of the “Handy-One”, the first tug of the new Handysize-Class to be delivered to TUGZ International, LLC, the well-known and successful owner and charterer of a fleet of Z-Class tractor tugs. Both the new HandySize Class and the Z-Class tugs were designed for Tugz by Jensen Maritime Consultants, Seattle. The sea trials, including speed and endurance trials were performed in the icy waters of Lake Eire under freezing winter conditions. The trials exceeded design and maneuvering expectations and the tug at full speed was able to stop in its own length.

    Designed to fill the niche between the 2,400 - 3,200 hp tug market for harbor work, fireboats, and construction operations as well as for coastal towing, the tug is described as being just the right size, just the right power, environmentally sound, fuel efficient and versatile enough to accomplish most tug jobs at the lowest operating cost, “when bigger is just too big, and smaller is more than enough.”

    Great Lakes Shipyard builds the “HandySize” Class tugs for sale to the market, however the tugs are also available for charter through its affiliate TUGZ. The first tug will be delivered on April 11, 2008 with the next tug scheduled for delivery in August 2008. Available as nozzled Twin-Screw Conventional models for those operators whose work application makes the Z-drive unnecessary and too expensive, the tugs also are available as ASD’s. Some operators believe that the conventional tugs will work better in ice and in debris-filled, low, and muddy waters.

    Measuring 74.0’ in length with molded beam of 30.0’ and a maximum draft of 11.0’ the tug attains a bollard pull of 36 short tons (72,000 pounds est.) and a free running speed of 12.0 knots from a pair of Cummins QSK 38 diesels each developing 1,400 hp at 1,800 revolutions/ minute. These turn 72.0” diameter Kaplan type propellers inside Type 37 stainless steel lined nozzles and Twin Disk MG 540 with 5.17:1 ratios. A pair of 65kW generator sets provides the electrical needs while the standard 2,000 gpm fire pump, which feeds a single forward deckhouse-mounted monitor, is driven off one of the generator engines. Additional fire monitors and foam capability for a fireboat version of the tug are available as an option.

    Keel coolers provide a saltwater-free engine room. Ahead of a well insulated forward bulkhead are two twin-bunk crew cabins and a laundry. On the main deck, a single cabin for the captain with an additional Pullman’s berth is located on the starboard side of the deckhouse aft of the mess room, and a toilet/shower room is located port side aft. All the accommodations are air conditioned.

    The tug is designed for seven-to-ten days endurance for coastal service and the tank capacities include 25,340 gallons of fuel and 1,855 gallons of potable water.

    More details about the 74-foot Handysize tugs can be found on

    Great Lakes Group News Release


    Meaford, Lion's Head and Tobermory get harbour aid

    3/7 - Owen Sound - Federal government grants of $62,000 for harbour repairs in three southern Georgian Bay ports, announced Friday, ignore the largest and last remaining commercial port on the southern Georgian Bay shore - Owen Sound.

    Friday's announcement provides funds for basic maintenance in small craft harbours in Meaford, Lion's Head and Tobermory and is not part of a $10-million sum set aside in Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's budget earlier this week. Owen Sound officials have been talking with the federal government for years about city takeover of the federal port, but Friday's announcement in Meaford makes no reference to the city.

    Meaford and Northern Bruce Peninsula municipal officials welcomed the federal funds during a presentation ceremony at the marina office in Meaford. Both municipalities operate the ports under long-term lease arrangements with the federal government.

    Meaford is to receive $24,000 to aid in rock removal, dock repairs and minor electrical repairs in the port. In Little Tub Harbour at Tobermory, $17,000 will help pay for a new pump-out system and repairs to floating docks. At Lion's Head, a $20,000 grant is to help pay for rehabilitation of floating docks.

    Owen Sound Mayor Ruth Lovell said news of federal funding for other harbours in the area is "encouraging." It shows the federal government "recognizes the need to spend money on ports." Except for a controversial security fence installed this fall, "nothing has been done since the early 1990s" in Owen Sound, Lovell said. She and others have been scathing in public comments about the seven foot tall fence. City priorities for the harbour include testing for hazardous substances and dredging.

    In some ways, it's not surprising that Friday's announcements don't include Owen Sound because of continuing talks, Lovell said. "We are negotiating with Transport Canada and certainly money is a big part of that negotiation," she said. "Certainly, we've requested dredging . . . It will be dealt with and is very much a part of our talks."

    Negotiations about the takeover are continuing with the next meeting scheduled "in the next few weeks." MP Larry Miller is "being kept informed" about the talks, Lovell said.

    Divestiture talks with the city started under the previous Liberal government in 2004. Miller expects any agreement will involve federal spending on repairs. "Any divestiture of any harbour facility will be turned over in suitable standards," Miller said Friday. "If I was the mayor I wouldn't want to be taking over something that wasn't up to standard."

    From the Owen Sound Sun Times


    Lake Ontario ferry service could return

    3/7 - Rochester, NY - Ferry service between Rochester and Toronto could make a return in 2009 or be dismissed long term depending on the outcome of an open call for private operators to be issued today.

    The city and Toronto Port Authority will advertise their joint invitation in local and trade publications, setting a March 31 deadline for operators to submit their credentials, financials and a rough business plan. Both entities stress that any future operator will have to go it alone, without public subsidy. "Our port facilities were built for this," said Rochester spokesman Gary Walker. "But we're getting plans and ideas for the port that are moving it away from that initial service."

    The terminal sits at the mouth of the Genesee River near Lake Ontario. There is talk of it housing a marine research facility, requiring a reconfiguration of the space now set aside for U.S. Customs, ticketing and other ferry operations. Meanwhile, the city is studying a new marina to be built nearby and has plans for turning the terminal's parking lot into a housing and commercial development.

    City officials are adamant that they are not getting back into the ferry business. In fact, a private operator could assume the city's $250,000-a-year lease, which it still is locked into paying the Toronto Port Authority, said city Corporation Counsel Thomas Richards. "If no one shows up, or no one shows up that is credible ... then we are going to have to face the issue of how we bring that lease to a conclusion," Richards said, thus severing the final ferry connection between the two cities.

    "I certainly think that you can only keep the infrastructure in its current configuration for a certain amount of time," said Lisa Raitt, the Toronto Port Authority's president and CEO. "It has been two years, and you have to recognize that. I don't know if it's the last time (we test the market). I don't even think about it in that sense. I do know that this time it is important."

    Toronto set aside 10 acres for its ferry port and staging area. While there are no development plans pending, Raitt said much of the land could be put to other uses if a ferry is not restarted. Neither the city nor the Port Authority has received recent inquiries from private operators, officials said. Anyone interested must describe their current service, provide an overview of their proposed service and describe the vessel or vessels they would deploy.

    "I think it's established that there is an interest by the public. It may be a seasonal market, but there is an interest," Raitt said. "The question is, is there an appetite from a private operator?"

    Submissions likely will be for scaled-down versions of the last operation, said Paul Morrell, the city's port operations manager. A combined city-Port Authority team will take 30 to 45 days to review the proposals. While Morrell refers to this process as "another effort, a last effort" to test the ferry market, the city is not giving up on passenger ship business.

    Instead, the city is building its presence with the Great Lakes Cruising Coalition by signing up one if not two additional ships that will visit Rochester in 2009, and doubling the stops of the current single ship to four as early as this summer.

    From the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle


    Updates - March 7

    News Photo Gallery updated

    Click here to order BoatNerd Freighter trip raffle tickets.


    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.


    Public gets first look at Minnesota ballast plans

    3/6 - Duluth - The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency on Tuesday laid out a preliminary plan to regulate ballast water in ships that visit Minnesota waters of Lake Superior.

    Agency officials held a two-hour public information session in Duluth and said they are moving toward requiring permits for all vessels with ballast tanks that enter Minnesota waters of Lake Superior by Sept. 30. The PCA plans to require those ships to treat their ballast water before releasing it, probably requiring on-board treatment systems in the next five to seven years.

    The state regulations would require any water discharged from ballast to meet a strict standard where almost all living organisms in the tanks would be killed. But those standards won’t be required until ballast water treatment systems can be installed on ships. The state’s action will require no legislation — PCA officials say they have the necessary authority under federal Clean Water Act permit programs. But the plan could be affected by proposed laws both in Washington and St. Paul.

    Proposed federal legislation, as now written, would ban the state from taking its own action, although that bill has not advanced. Legislation in St. Paul could speed up the timetable for treatment.

    Jeff Stollenwerk, PCA supervisor of industrial water quality permits, said the new regulations come after a federal judge ruled in 2006 that the exemption to the Clean Water Act that has been offered the shipping industry for decades is illegal and that the Environmental Protection Agency must begin regulating discharges from ships as water pollution starting Sept. 30, 2008.

    Some said Tuesday that the regulation is long overdue and that the PCA should act faster, at least with temporary measures, to keep invading species like the fish-killing VHS virus out of Lake Superior. “I don’t really understand why it’s taken this long to get to a level where you are doing something about it,” said Le Roger Lind of the Save Lake Superior Association, noting invasive species have been an issue for more than 40 years.

    But others were critical of imposing unrealistic restrictions on the shipping industry at an unrealistic pace. Brad Clifford, executive director of the North Star Community Development Corp., said the state should first determine what the cost to impose ballast water treatment will be on the industry and regional economy. “And where are the tax credits and incentives to get them there?” Clifford asked.

    PCA officials said estimates to install on-board treatment systems range from $150,000 to $2.3 million per ship, with operating costs from $10,000 to $80,000 per year. They noted it could take several years before ships are able to reserve time in dry-dock so the systems can be installed.

    A draft PCA ballast plan will be ready for formal public input by summer.

    From the Duluth News Tribune


    Iron ore takeover thwarted

    3/6 - Hamilton - The company formerly known as Stelco and its U.S. partner have thwarted attempts by rival steel maker ArcelorMittal Dofasco Inc. to take control of the Wabush Mines iron ore venture in Labrador and Quebec.

    Hamilton-based U.S. Steel Canada Inc. and partner Cleveland Cliffs Inc. said yesterday they had withdrawn from negotiations to sell their combined 71 per cent stake in the Wabush Mines company to ArcelorMittal Dofasco Inc., also of Hamilton.

    The former Stelco, acquired last summer by United States Steel Corp., holds a 44.6 per cent stake in Wabush Mines, while Cleveland-Cliffs owns 26.8 per cent. ArcelorMittal Dofasco holds the remaining 28.6 per cent.

    U.S. Steel Canada gave no reason for its decision. But Cleveland-Cliffs, a major iron ore producer and coal supplier to the steel industry, said the move is best for the Cleveland-based company. The decision to scrap the sales talks comes as iron-ore prices skyrocket on world markets, mainly because of soaring demand from Chinese steel makers.

    "Cliffs believes that terminating negotiations and remaining a partner in the Wabush Mines joint venture is the best course of action for all stakeholders at the current time," said Donald Gallagher, president of Cliffs' North American business unit.

    Last summer, the former Dofasco had exercised its right to buy out its two partners in Wabush, scrapping an earlier deal that would have seen their combined 71 per cent stake sold to Consolidated Thompson Iron Mines Ltd. of Toronto.

    Thompson had announced last June it would buy the 71 per cent stake in the joint venture, which includes the Scully mine near Wabush, Nfld., and a processing mill and port operations in Quebec, for more than $64 million (U.S.). Under that deal, Thompson would also take on an estimated $94.6 million in liabilities.

    The Wabush venture can produce 4.8 million tonnes of iron pellets annually.

    From the Toronto Star


    Delta Queen Gets Bipartisan Support

    3/6 - Washington - Mid-South members of Congress Marsha Blackburn, R- Tenn., and Steve Cohen, D-TN., joined Mississippi River-linked congressmen at a press conference here calling for renewed efforts to save The Delta Queen paddle-wheeler.

    The wooden-superstructure vessel, built in 1926 and a national historic landmark, lost its exemption from the U.S. Coast Guard to carry 50 or more passengers overnight last year, and will suspend overnight trips later this year without a change in the law. A group of members of Congress wants to amend the Coast Guard reauthorization act to grant the boat its 10th exemption from the safety standards since 1968.

    "All great river cities need a great ship and The Delta Queen certainly has been that for Shelby County and for Memphis, Tenn.," Blackburn said. "We support continuing and allowing this exemption so that The Delta Queen can continue to plow through the waters of our nation's rivers."

    Said Cohen: "Memphis is a river town and is known as a riverboat city, and the Delta Queen has been a part of our heritage for as long as I can remember. . To take away the Delta Queen is to take away part of our heritage."

    U.S. Rep. John Tanner, D-Tenn., was a co-sponsor of legislation last year that would have restored the exemption but did not make Tuesday's press conference, which was also attended by congressional representatives from both Cincinnati and St. Louis. Both House and Senate chairmen of the committees with jurisdiction over the issue have opposed extending the exemption, citing their fears of a fire.

    Joe Ueberroth, president of the Majestic America Line, owner of the boat, has a letter to Save the Delta Queen supporters on the company's Web site (, asking for calls to talk radio stations and letters and e-mail to political candidates. "What has America become when our politicians are not fighting to protect our history and traditions?" his letter asks.

    From The Commerical Appeal


    Reserve Snow Sculpture

    3/6 - Each year for about 16 winters a family outside of Duluth has created a snow sculpture. Creations have included castles, dinosaurs, a lighthouse, the Grinch with his sled and dog, and a snowman 23 feet tall and 50 feet around.

    But this year’s sculpture a 65-foot-long, 7-foot-wide, 9-foot-tall representation of the laker Reserve has a special meaning to Keith Johnson and his son, Eric, 16.

    “We did it in tribute to Eric’s grandpa, my dad,” Keith Johnson said.

    Armand R. Johnson, 78, died in December. The Reserve was one of the ships he worked aboard during a 36-year career with Columbia/Oglebay Norton. Starting as a deckhand, he worked his way up to captain. He was a mate on the Edmund Fitzgerald and captained various vessels from 1975 until his retirement in 1986.

    Keith and Eric Johnson began building the sculpture before Christmas. The process, Keith Johnson said, consists of “piling up a lot of snow. We never keep track of how long it takes. That takes the fun out of it.”

    After waiting for more snow, the pair completed the Reserve about two weeks ago. It stretches across a good part of the family’s yard on the corner of Stebner Road and Woodridge Drive. Lights illuminate the sculpture at night.

    Picture of the snow freighter

    From the Duluth News Tribune


    MSRA announces annual shipwreck show

    3/6 - Holland, MI - Michigan Shipwreck Research Associates will present the 10th annual “Mysteries & Histories Beneath the Inland Seas” shipwreck show on Saturday, May 3, 2008 in Holland, Michigan.

    The event will be held at 7:00 PM in the historic Knickerbocker Theatre and feature the following presentations - “NUMA Revealed” – Presented by Ralph Wilbanks of Clive Cussler’s NUMA search team; “Cutting Across Time- 30 years of Great Lakes Shipwreck Discoveries” by David Trotter; “A Freshwater Monsoon - The identification of a 19th Century Schooner” by the MSRA Team “Gone Missing”; and  West Michigan’s Most Eginmatic Shipwrecks” by the MSRA Team

    MSRA is a non-profit organization that researches, discovers and documents historic shipwrecks in the Great Lakes, and produces documentaries for the public to further promote the appreciation of maritime history and our underwater resources.

    Tickets are available for $12.50 in advance through the MSRA web site at or for $15 at the door.


    Updates - March 6

    News Photo Gallery updated

    Public Photo Gallery updated

    Click here to order BoatNerd Freighter trip raffle tickets.

    News Photo Submission Guidelines Revised. Read these before you submit News photos.


    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.


    Mackinaw Heading for Green Bay

    3/5 -  The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw is expected to enter Green Bay this week at Rock Island Passage.

    The ship will be conducting ice breaking operations along Lake Carriers Association track lines north of a line from Peshtigo Reef and Sherwood Point.

    Recreational users of the ice should plan their activities carefully, use caution near the ice and stay away from shipping channels and the Lake Carriers Association track lines, according to the Coast Guard.

    From the Green Bay Press Gazette


    Port Reports - March 5

    Toronto - Charlie Gibbons - The raw sugar storage vessel Canadian Leader was shifted into the Redpath slip early Monday by McKeil's tugs Wyatt M. and Jarrett M. Howver, unloading of the cargo will not begin for another week, as new stevadores are being trained to use the cranes.

    The police ice boat Peter Benge was out again Tuesday patrolling the harbor. One island ferry, the island airport ferry, and the firetug Wm. Lyon Mackenzie continue to run daily.


    Trio of tall ships to dock in Duluth for Maritime Festival

    3/5 - For the first time, three tall ships will be anchored simultaneously in Duluth’s harbor this summer, as part of the city’s Maritime Festival celebrating Minnesota’s 150th anniversary.

    “We’ve never had three,” said Gene Shaw, director of public relations for Visit Duluth, a bit giddy at the news. Shaw said during a news conference on Monday that local officials have been trying to put this event together for the past two years.

    The three ships coming are the Niagara, the Madeline and the Pride of Baltimore II. The Niagara and the Pride of Baltimore II are replicas of War of 1812 ships, while the Madeline is modeled after a 1840s freighter.

    Between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Aug. 1-3, visitors will be able to tour all three ships. Ticket prices will be $10 per adult, and $5 per child or senior citizen, to see all three. Those interested in coming aboard are advised to purchase advance tickets from the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center beginning April 14.

    Last time a tall ship came to Duluth — the Niagara in 2002 — more than 10,000 people walked on board, said Dan Russell, executive director of the DECC, which is cosponsoring the event. “It’s been extremely popular,” Russell said.

    To bring the ships to Duluth, the DECC and tourism office Visit Duluth are jointly paying $65,000, Shaw said, to be recouped with entrance fees. Organizers anticipate anywhere from 30,000 to 40,000 people will attend.

    The three ship owners are trying to mesh schedules so they all can sail into Duluth in a picture-perfect armada. “We’ll be able to see them on the horizon,” Shaw said.

    There also are tentative plans to provide a half-day morning cruise on the Niagara Aug. 4 before it leaves Duluth, Shaw said. The ships will be the centerpiece of the three-day August festival, which also will feature entertainers, crafts, food and a focus on Duluth’s maritime history, organizers said. “We hope all of Duluth will join us,” Mayor Don Ness said.

    For those true tall-ship aficionados, there’s also the option of a ride-along on the Niagara during the 10 days it will take to sail from Erie, Pa., to Duluth in July. For more information on the festival visit

    From the Duluth News Tribune


    Updates - March 5

    News Photo Gallery updated

    Public Photo Gallery updated


    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. The vessel was in winter lay-up at the Capitol elevator in Duluth when part of the elevator complex burned. Debris from the elevator fell on the boat, badly damaging it. The owners decided to scrap it rather than repair it. 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, Eric Holst, 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.


    Port is geared for growth in water traffic

    3/4 - Toledo - The Port of Toledo has room to grow and is poised to take advantage of likely increases in waterborne transportation as roads and rails become more congested and maritime technology advances, Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority officials told a gathering of local business, academic, and political leaders Friday.

    "As a seaport and a city, we must fully utilize our transportation assets and adapt to future markets," Joe Cappel, the port authority's seaport marketing representative, told the Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce's Eggs 'n Issues breakfast at WGTE-TV's South Toledo studios.

    Toledo and the rest of the St. Lawrence Seaway and Great Lakes system are operating at only 40 percent of their capacity, while coastal ports and the transportation networks leading to them are increasingly "jammed," Seaport Director Warren McCrimmon said.

    The seaway as a whole now handles only about 42 million tons of annual cargo, less than the 45 million tons shipped in or out of Toledo alone during its peak year of 1965, Mr. McCrimmon said.

    While four-fifths of that Toledo tonnage was coal, which as a rule did not leave the Great Lakes system, the local port decades ago also handled overseas shipments of import and export vehicles and other manufactured goods, the seaport director said.

    Those cargoes disappeared as containerization supplanted labor-intensive break-bulk handling of manufactures, he said, while autos increasingly sailed aboard huge "roll-on/roll-off" vessels that, like modern container ships, don't fit through the seaway's canals and channels.

    Coal became a victim of tighter pollution laws that have discouraged the use of high-sulfur Appalachian coal, Mr. McCrimmon said.

    But Toledo today has the Great Lakes' most diverse port, helping total cargo volumes grow during each of the last three years even though some traffic disappeared, he said, citing German lumber imports that vanished last year when housing construction slowed.

    Last year, shipments of imported pipe for a natural-gas pipeline in central Ohio and Indiana often dominated the Toledo docks' landscape, and the local port also handled the arrivals of two large transformers for a Detroit Edison power plant and wind-turbine tower assemblies destined farther north in Michigan.

    "We tell our customers we can handle any cargo that can be loaded on a ship, and we mean it," Mr. McCrimmon said.

    He and Mr. Cappel are both confident that coastal port congestion will promote the development of feeder services through which containerized freight and other cargo will use large ships to cross the oceans, but be transferred to or from smaller vessels serving smaller ports.

    Land around Toledo's port has "superior intermodal connectivity" with roads and rails, Mr. Cappel said. "It is not crucial that we can't take the world's biggest ships into our port. All ports will be needed to handle future cargo."

    Port authority officials hope modernization of the Toledo Shipyard, which like the port's International Cargo Dock is publicly owned but privately managed, will further Toledo's reputation for having a full-service port.

    A 20,000-square-foot "high-bay" fabrication shop built as the centerpiece of the modernization's $5 million first phase, dedicated Friday afternoon, allows large components for vessel repairs or construction to be built indoors and then be transferred directly to the shipyard's drydocks.

    From the Toledo Blade


    Water supply varies in Superior, Huron

    3/4 - Water supply into Lakes Huron-Michigan was above the long-term average for February while supply into Lake Superior was below.

    The International Lake Superior Board of Control, in its monthly report, states that Huron-Michigan, where levels traditionally fall about half an inch in February, instead rose by 1.5 inches, while Superior, which normally falls 2 inches, fell 2.4 instead.

    Huron-Michigan is 20 inches below its long-term average level at the beginning of March and 4.7 inches lower than a year ago, while Superior is 10 inches below its long-term average level at the beginning of March but just over 8 inches above its level of a year ago.

    Huron-Michigan, where levels are expected to rise this month, is 8.6 inches below its chart datum level while Superior, expected to fall slightly this month, is 7.8 inches below chart datum.

    The Board of Control is decreasing the outflow from Lake Superior by 2.1 thousand cubic feet per second this month, from 59.3 thousand cubic feet per second to 57.2 thousand cubic feet per second.

    From the Sault Star


    Manitowoc Awarded Additional Coast Guard Response Boat-Medium Vessels

    3/4 - The Manitowoc Company announced last week that it has been awarded a contract for 18 additional Response Boat- Medium (RB-M) vessels by the U.S. Coast Guard.

    With an approximate value of $35,000,000, the new vessels are part of a Coast Guard contract requiring the construction and delivery of up to 250 Response Boat-Medium vessels at a total contract value of up to $600 million.

    Manitowoc is the prime contractor and program manager for this multi-year project. Delivery of the 18 boats will begin in the third quarter of 2009. This brings the total number of boats under contract to 30 at the present time.

    Manitowoc will share the construction of the boats equally with its RB-M team partner, Kvichak Marine Industries of Seattle, Washington.

    "We are gratified to continue our long and successful relationship with the U.S. Coast Guard," said Robert P. Herre, president of Manitowoc Marine Group. "Federal government projects are among the most demanding for any shipbuilder, and the addition of the RB-M boats to our existing backlog of work is an excellent endorsement of our capabilities. The RB-M program is a partnering arrangement between the USCG and industry, and successfully demonstrates the ability of the government and industry to partner together to build boats on schedule and on budget."

    From The Manitowoc Company


    Updates - March 4

    News 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. MACKINAW was retired in 2006.

    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. Le Fleur 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.

    In 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.

    In 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


    Corrosion an issue beyond the Twin Ports

    3/3 - Duluth - An accelerated steel corrosion issue that once was considered unique to the Twin Ports appears to be more pervasive than researchers initially realized.

    While that’s unwelcome news for other Lake Superior ports, the broadening scope of the problem could help garner more funding in the search for a solution.

    Deeply pitted steel has surfaced in Thunder Bay, said Jim Sharrow, facilities manager for the Duluth Seaway Port Authority. “It’s the most similar damage we’ve yet seen to what’s happening in Duluth,” he said.

    Pitting also has been found at the South Shore ports of Ashland, Bayfield, Houghton and Ontonagon. Some of the most aggressive damage was documented at a Michigan boat landing on Lac La Belle, a natural lake on the Keweenaw Peninsula, connected to Lake Superior by a canal.

    Other steel structures on Lake Superior show no signs of damage. Sharrow pointed out that the ore docks in Silver Bay appear virtually unscathed by corrosion.

    Based purely on unscientific initial observations, Sharrow said, “There seems to be some correlation with runoff from swampy bog areas.”Although research into the cause of the accelerated freshwater corrosion continues, Sharrow views bacteria as the leading suspect.

    The discovery of wider-spread steel corrosion problems played an instrumental role in landing additional research dollars, according to Gene Clark, a coastal engineering supervisor for the University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute. This year, for the first time, Wisconsin has set aside money to help address the issue. Clark will oversee a $30,000 grant from the Wisconsin Coastal Management Program to evaluate different ways to mitigate the problem.

    An additional $100,000 grant from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources also has been delivered to the port of Superior to help explore potential solutions.

    Clark said he, Superior officials, the Duluth Seaway Port Authority and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers all will coordinate their research efforts.

    Research work in Superior will focus on different coatings that can be applied to steel to stave off corrosion. Several promising treatments already have been identified, but Clark said it remains to be seen how they will hold up to winter conditions.

    “The scouring action of ice will probably present the biggest test of these coatings,” he said.

    Jason Serck, Superior’s port and planning director, said the knowledge gained from testing products in Superior can benefit dock owners throughout the Great Lakes. “We want to make sure our research here can be applied to other ports, as well,” he said.

    This summer, both CLM Corp. and Cenex Harvest States will be making major repairs to docks in Superior with the help of $4 million in funding from the Wisconsin Harbor Assistance Program, and Clark is optimistic there may be opportunities to piggyback some research onto these projects.

    “It’s perfect timing that both sets of grants came about at the same time,” he said. Describing his desire to coordinate work with CLM and Cenex Harvest States, Serck said: “We want to make our money go as far as possible.”

    Corrosion research efforts are well supported at the moment, Sharrow said. In addition to the $130,000 of research Wisconsin will provide, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is about to receive $280,000 in federal funding to continue its work on the issue.

    Last year, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources also earmarked $100,000 to help identify what was causing submerged steel in the Twin Ports to corrode at a rate up to 10 times faster than one would expect to find in a freshwater environment. Only about $75,000 of that money has been spent, and Sharrow remains optimistic that a grant extension may be offered to allow for the remainder to be used.

    From the Duluth News Tribune


    Port Reports - March 3

    Owen Sound - Ed. Saliwonchyk & Peter Bowers
    Canadian Coast Guard Ship Griffon and Algomarine encountered the ice pack in Owen Sound Bay just before 10 a.m. Sunday. Griffon proceeded up the bay to make a track into the inner harbour while the Algomarine waited at the edge of the pack.
    Algomarine followed shortly on the heel of the Griffon and was nearing its mooring site on the east wall of Owen Sound's inner harbour just before noon on Sunday. This marks the latest tie up date in Owen Sound since the Algowest arrived on Feb 15, 2001.

    Sarnia - Barry Hiscocks
    Canadian Olympic arrived Sunday morning for winter lay up and is rafted to the Algolake. Tug Menasha assisted.
    Algosea arrived for temporary lay up same date and is rafted to the Algorail.


    Sole Survivor of Shipwreck to keynote Great Lakes Underwater Conference

    3/3 - Owego, NY - If you’ve seen the movie Titanic, you have had a glimpse of Dennis Hale’s real life drama. Hale is the sole survivor of the sinking of the steamship Daniel J. Morrell. The 603-foot-long ship sank in the dark early morning hours of November 29, 1966 on Lake Huron. Hale will share his story as the only survivor of a 29-member crew as part of the 2008 Great Lakes Underwater conference in Oswego on Saturday, March 15.

    Also on the agenda for the annual conference for maritime history and shipwreck enthusiasts and divers are Jim Kennard, who has found more than 200 shipwrecks in the past 30 years and technical diver Dan Scoville who uses a custom mix of breathing gases to dive to depths of greater than 300 feet. Kennard and Scoville will talk about using a high-tech sonar device they built to discover the wreck of the mid-1800s Canadian schooner Orcardian. They will also talk on the last flight of the Sea Bee.

    Back by popular demand are Two Tank Tips presented by the New York State Divers Association (NYSDA). The Tips are for places where divers can take two tanks of oxygen out on one trip and easily dive on two wrecks within close proximity. NYSDA members will present a variety of “Two Tank” shipwrecks found in New York waters including sites in Lake Ontario, Lake Erie, the Finger Lakes, Lake George, the St. Lawrence River, Raquette Lake, Blue Mountain Lake, and the Sacandaga Reservoir.

    Representatives of the Eastern Ontario Artificial Reef Association, headquartered in Mallorytown, Ontario, will speak on the planned sinking of Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship the HMCS Terra Nova in the Canadian waters of the 1000 Islands. By creating an artificial reef out of the steel hull destroyer escort ship for the 20,000 divers expected to visit the new wreck, the Association that is mandated to obtain and sink decommissioned Canadian destroyers hopes to take some diving pressure off the more historic wrecks.

    According to a 1999 New York Sea Grant study, scuba divers add more than $108 million in annual economic impact to New York’s Great Lakes Seaway Trail region. Recreation and Tourism Specialist David G. White of New York Sea Grant, Oswego, NY, says efforts such as the New York State Blueway Trail and the Dive the Seaway Trail project are linking divers with the vast underwater resources and the submerged heritage preserves that are developing across the state.

    At the March 15 Great Lakes Underwater program, White and Underwater Blueway Trail Interim Director David Decker will report on progress in the development of the New York State Blueway Trail and the Dive the Seaway Trail project that highlights sites for different levels of diving skill and of different interest from historic shipwrecks to unique geological and ecological quality.

    “The opportunities these trails create for underwater and on-land exploration of our maritime history will return a tremendous economic boost to shoreline communities,” White says. In the past year, Seaway Trail, Inc. has installed five new shipwreck theme outdoor storyteller interpretive panels along the 518-mile byway at Alexandria Bay, Clayton, Oswego, Pultneyville and Dunkirk.

    The 12th annual Great Lakes Underwater will be held March 15, 2008, from 9 am to 4:30 pm on State University of New York at Oswego campus, Oswego, NY. Registration is $25 ($20 for students) payable to Cornell University includes lunch. Great Lakes Underwater 2008 is hosted by New York Sea Grant and the Oswego Maritime Foundation and co-sponsored by Seaway Trail, Inc. For more information, go online to or contact New York Sea Grant at 315-312-3042 before March 7.


    200 years of shipbuilding in Lorain County

    3/3 - Lorain - The Lorain County Chapter of the Ohio Genealogical Society is pleased to welcome Matthew Weisman presenting "History of Lorain Shipbuilding and Early Shipbuilding Pioneers of Lorain County; 200 Years of Shipbuilding Industry and Commerce on the Black River" on Monday, March 10 at the North Ridgeville Public Library, 35700 Bainbridge Rd., North Ridgeville.

    Lorain County was fortunate to contain a shipbuilding industry that spawned countless jobs and played a key role in the growth of the Lorain area.

    Social time begins at 6:30 pm; the program and a general business meeting begin at 7:00 pm. Contact Jean at or Margaret at for more information about the Lorain County Chapter of OGS. The program is free.


    Asbestos shuts down college renovations

    3/3 - Owen Sound - The Ministry of Labour has stopped demolition work at Georgian College's west wing until tests determine the extent of asbestos contamination in the building.

    The ministry was notified Wednesday that ceiling tiles containing asbestos were delivered to a dump site, spokesman Matt Blajer said. Labour ministry investigators who tested the air found no asbestos but more testing and monitoring is underway, he said. "Once we get the results of that, (it) will determine what action needs to be taken for the protection of the workers," Blajer said.

    The construction area, in the west wing of the campus, is isolated from the rest of the campus. The west wing will become the new home for the college's Great Lakes International Marine Training Centre, scheduled to open in September.

    Blajer said the ministry has stopped all work in the west wing and prevented entry until testing is done. It's common for buildings to contain asbestos and there's no problem, as long as the asbestos is not disturbed and becomes airborne, he said.

    There have been no classes held at the campus this week because it's Reading Week, said Jay Notay, dean of the Owen Sound campus. The construction site is drywalled off and has been off-limits to staff and students before the asbestos was discovered, he said.

    Notay was still gathering facts but he understood the asbestos was in drywall joint compound. Georgian's physical resources staff are dealing with the problem and will be calling in experts, Notay said. Classes will continue to be held in the rest of the building, he said.

    He said staff called the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Labour when the asbestos was discovered. He hopes work can resume on the renovations Monday. The centrepiece of the $8.5-million project is the new 20,000 square-foot training facility with a 50-foot-wide, 18-foot-tall full mission theatre-style bridge simulator with surrounding screens 14 feet tall.

    From the Owen Sound Sun Times


    Raffle Results - March 3

    Results for the Port Huron Shipmaster's Raffle

    Interlake Trip
    Ticket # 0649 - Richard Rohr - Indian River, Mi

    Csl Trip
    Ticket # 1427 - Scott Beedon - Port Huron, Mi

    Inn At Lock 7 -
    Ticket # 0709 - David French - St. Paul, Mn

    Badger Trip
    Ticket # 0742 - Michael Roach - Cloverdale, In
    Ticket # 1623 - Lois Terbush - Marine City, Mi

    Duc D'orleans Tour
    Ticket # 2216 - Brian Musille - Mansifeld, Oh

    Hammond Bay Tour
    Ticket # 1155 - Matt & Betsie Johnson - Arlington, Va

    Diamond Jack's Tour
    Ticket # 1937 - Rodli Pederson - Valley City, N.D.
    Ticket # 2321 - David Nolan - Austinburg, Oh

    Lamarre Prints
    Ticket # 0284 - Angie Williams - Orion, Mi
    Ticket # 2243 - James Gallagher - Grosse Pointe Park, Mi

    Mcgreevy Prints
    Ticket # 0141 - Barry Hiscocks - Sarnia, On Ticket # 1468 - John H. Pringle - Waukesha, Wi

    Huron Lady Tour
    Ticket # 1972 - Terry Lancour - Bark River, Mi

    Click here to order BoatNerd Freighter trip raffle tickets.


    Updates - March 3

    News Photo Gallery updated

    Click here to order BoatNerd Freighter trip raffle tickets.

    News Photo Submission Guidelines Revised. Read these before you submit News photos.


    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.


    Last of the Salt Fleet Heads for lay-up

    3/2 - 10 am update - The Canadian Olympic, down bound from Lake Huron, made a 180 degree turn, at 9:45 am, at Vantage Point in front of The BoatNerd World Headquarters then proceeded up bound to Sarnia to begin winter lay-up.

    Reported by Frank Frisk

    3/2 - After operating through most of the normal winter lay-up the Canadian Olympic is reported to be heading to Sarnia for lay-up after a final delivery to Chicago. The Olympic operate in the salt trade along with the Algomarine through most of the winter replenishing depleted salt stock piles for municipalities desperate for road salt.

    At 8:30 am Sunday, The Olympic was down bound above the Blue Water Bridges. She estimated arriving at the Black River at 9:45, "and would be turning for the Government Dock".


    Updates - March 2

    News Photo Gallery updated

    Reserve Conversion Gallery updated. The pilothouse has been removed.

    Click here to order BoatNerd Freighter trip raffle tickets.

    News Photo Submission Guidelines Revised. Read these before you submit News photos.


    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.


    Poe Lock gate work winds down
    Corps of Engineers crews attend to a few dozen “little things”

    3/1 - Sault Ste. Marie - Covered by a huge white tent, work deep within the Poe Lock's innards is winding down toward the end as Corps of Engineers crews attend to a few dozen “little things” in the huge concrete canyon.

    Corps Area Engineer Al Klein said plans have already been tentatively set for the big event of the late winter project, the impressive re-filling of the Poe on St. Patrick's Day.

    Klein said repairs made over the short winter layup period went about as expected on the 39-year-old Poe Lock. Crews replaced worn concrete in the massive lower- end sills and did similar work around the huge gate pintles, gate recesses and in the water gauge area around the huge steel gates.

    He said there were few surprises for repair crews, just the normal wear and tear of thousands of gate openings and closings plus the normal erosion of millions of gallons of raw water passed through the Poe in nearly four decades. “No major problems were found,” Klein reported from deep inside the huge lock chamber.

    He said gate hydraulics were thoroughly inspected and hydraulic oil was changed as necessary, along with the bewildering array of other mechanical and electrical systems used to open the lower-end gates.

    He said crews on Thursday were “re-stressing” the main operating lock gates, horsing the huge doors into dead square configuration needed for smooth operation. “If something's square it works well,“ he said somewhat with tongue in cheek.

    Winter inspections on the lower end of the Poe included a close look at the enormous filling and emptying valves at the heart of lock operations, “bubbler” piping and other smaller plumbing deep below ground level in the yawning canyon.

    Not surprisingly, the area engineer reported workers found the Poe Lock in relatively good condition. He said this winter's 10-week repair cycle included replacement of portions of the steel armor plate that protects underlying concrete from the immense forces from ships rubbing the lock walls through decades of use.

    While some of the armor plating was replaced this winter, Klein said the Corps may need to replace the entire run of armor plating, worn thinner by steel-on-steel rubbing as ships pass through the lock in close quarters.

    Klein said part of the winter's work schedule will not be completed until the lock itself is re-filled and the crane barge Harvey again floats to the surface. Harvey and its tender tug Owen Frederick now rest on cradles on the lock floor, allowing Harvey's crane to be used for the winter work. The crane vessel Nicolet has spent the winter on the other side of the lower lock gates, for raising and lowering equipment from that side.

    Once the barge is refloated, the crane will hoist the lock's 11-ton hydraulic cylinders back into place after a winter overhaul ashore. The huge cylinders open and close lock gates with each cycle.

    The big white tent will be moved back to its in-season storage spot between the Poe and Davis Locks at the upper end and the Soo Locks will be readied for another shipping season.

    As is usual, Klein said the Poe Lock will be ready and waiting for the first boat of the new shipping season, now just 25 days off. The adjacent MacArthur Lock opens a few weeks later, as spring shipping traffic picks up for the new season.

    Reported by Ed Schipper from the Soo Evening News


    Funding coming for harbour repairs
    Announcement includes Meaford, Lion's Head and Tobermory

    3/1 - Owen Sound - Canadian Federal government officials announced funding Friday for harbour repairs in Meaford, Lion's Head and Tobermory.

    A Fisheries and Oceans department spokesperson would not disclose details before the planned, 4 p.m. Friday announcement at the Meaford harbour. However, a media advisory issued Thursday says Bruce, Grey, Owen Sound MP Larry Miller is to make the announcement "regarding investments in the rehabilitation of harbour facilities in Tobermory, Lion's Head and Meaford."

    Tuesday's federal budget allocated $10 million for the repair of small craft harbours in support of the federal program to divest itself of harbours. That's potentially significant for Owen Sound which is actively involved in talks with Fisheries and Oceans officials about the take over of its harbour.

    However, Friday's announcements make no reference to Owen Sound.

    Fisheries and Oceans communications officer Carol Bond described Friday's announcement in an interview, Friday, as "good news" for the communities involved.

    Bond also confirmed that the department is seeking to divest itself of small craft harbours such as those involved in today's announcements. She said there would be no information today about divestiture of the Meaford, Lion's Head or Tobermory harbours.

    Reported by Peter Bowers From the Owen Sound Sun-Times


    Updates - March 1

    News Photo Gallery updated

    Reserve Conversion Gallery updated. The pilothouse has been removed.

    Calendar of Events updated

    Public Gallery is back Online

    Click here to order BoatNerd Freighter trip raffle tickets.

    News Photo Submission Guidelines Revised. Read these before you submit News photos.


    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 the 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.


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