Great Lakes & Seaway Shipping News Archive

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Port Reports - April 12

Duluth, Minn. – Craig Kennedy
Duluth’s first salties of the season passed through the Soo Locks Saturday. Medemborg locked upbound around 11 a.m. Saturday morning. The Federal Welland was waiting behind to lock upbound. The trip to Duluth normally takes 24 hours.

Thunder Bay, Ont. – Ian Wellesley
Thunder Bay’s first saltie of the season arrived Saturday morning when the Federal Saguenay arrived to load at Viterra C.

Marquette, Mich. – Rod Budick
On a sunny Saturday at the Upper Harbor, Herbert C. Jackson loaded ore on her first trip of the season.

Marinette, Wisc. – Scott Best
Saturday morning the Amelia Desgagnes began to depart Marinette Fuel & Dock at around 11 a.m. almost exactly 24-hours after arriving. When the Desgagnes began moving away from the Donner, she got caught by the wind or current or both and ended up sideways in the river almost against the Ogden Street Bridge dolphins. After a great deal of maneuvering, she worked back out into the river where several unsuccessful attempts were made to get turned around in the river and depart thought the piers bow first. Finally after nearly three and half hours she was able to get turned around off Fuel & Dock behind the Donner by dropping her bow anchor to steady up the bow and completed her turn.

Green Bay, Wisc. - Matt Ludvigson
On Saturday afternoon Green Bay's first visitor of the year, the Alpena, departed the city through the Fox River.

Grand Haven, Mich. – Dick Fox
The Manitowoc came in about noon Saturday, blowing a salute as it crossed the pier heads, inbound with coal for the Board of Light and Power plant on Harbor Island.

South Chicago, Ill. - Steve B.
The John B. Aird was at Morton Salt on the Calumet River Saturday morning, adding to the growing post-winter salt pile. She departed at noon with the help of the G tug Colorado.

Goderich, Ont. - Dale Baechler
A busy Easter weekend at Sifto Salt, with lots of traffic. Algomarine left Thursday for a Lake Michigan port, Capt. Henry Jackman waited outside Friday for a few hours for the winds to diminish, then backed in. John D. Leitch waited over in the new harbor Friday night, the Jackman departed Saturday morning, the Leitch shifted over to the spout and was loading at 8:30 a.m.

Toledo, Ohio – Jim Hoffman
Saturday morning the Agawa Canyon, with a cargo of oats, was inbound Maumee Bay headed up the Maumee River to unload her grain cargo at an unknown dock. Calumet was at the Midwest Terminal Dock unloading cargo. Lee A. Tregurtha was at the Torco dock unloading ore. The next scheduled coal boat due into the CSX Docks will be American Mariner on Tuesday. The next scheduled ore boats due into the Torco Ore Dock will be Herbert C. Jackson on Monday followed by the Atlantic Huron and CSL Niagara on Wednesday. Maumee arrived at the A.R.M.S. Dock Saturday afternoon to unload her third cargo of salt at this facility.

Hamilton, Ont. – Eric Holmes and Bill Bird
Friday the Ocean Group tug Omni Richelieu arrived back in port from Clarkson at 9 a.m. The J.W. Shelly departed at 11 a.m. for the canal.

After damaging her hull in the Welland Canal earlier this week, Montrealais resumed her trip to Port Cartier, Quebec on Saturday. Montrealais was forced to drop both anchors at Allanburg when Bridge 11 either failed to open or open completely. After inspection in the canal, Montrealais made her way to Hamilton where repairs were completed late Saturday morning.

Toronto, Ont. - Charlie Gibbons
The tug Commodore Straits was drydocked Saturday by Toronto Drydock Co. for its five-year inspection. This is the largest tug ever on the drydock.


Updates - April 12

News Photo Gallery

Public Gallery updated


Today in Great Lakes History - April 12

12 April 1896 The PETER DALTON (propeller tug, 63 foot 49 gross tons, built in 1880, at Grand Haven, Michigan) caught fire off Grosse Pointe, Illinois, while returning to Chicago with the salvaged schooner A.J. DEWEY in tow and the boiler of the JOHNSON. The fire burned her in two before she finally sank. The DALTON's crew and the DEWEY were rescued by the tug WELCOME.

On 12 April 1874, the tug D.N. RUNNELS was launched Runnel's yard at the north end of the 7th Street Bridge in Port Huron, Michigan. As the tug splashed into the Black River, the flag at her bow was unfurled with her name on it. Commodore Runnels distributed oranges to the crowd of onlookers.

The tanker a.) LANA (Hull#151) was launched April 12, 1967, by Aktiebolaget Lodose Varv A/B at Lodose, Sweden. Renamed b.) NEW ORLEANS in 1988 and c.) NANCY ORR GAUCHER in 1989, she departed the Lakes in 1994. Renamed d.) PETRAWAK in 1996 and e.) TONGA in 2000.

Tanker LAKESHELL (Hull#389) of Marine Industries Ltd., Sorel, Quebec, was launched April 12, 1969, for Shell Canada Ltd.

Pioneer Steamship's steamer a.) A.A. AUGUSTUS (Hull#374) of American Ship Building Co., Lorain, Ohio, departed Cleveland on her maiden voyage April 12, 1910, bound for Green Bay, Wisconsin, with a load of coal. She was sold to Canadian registry in 1961, and renamed b.) HOWARD HINDMAN. She was scrapped at Bilbao, Spain, in 1969.

Hall Corp. of Canada's tanker HUDSON TRANSPORT (Hull#629) of the Davie Shipbuilding Co. Ltd., Lauzon, Quebec, was launched April 12, 1962.

On April 12, 1955, while up bound from Monroe, Michigan to load iron ore at Duluth, the ENDERS M. VOORHEES had the honor of opening the second century of navigation through the St. Marys Falls Ship Canal, celebrated with great pomp and ceremony.

On 12 April 1880, the wooden 2-mast schooner-barge JUPITER was launched at Marysville, Michigan, after being rebuilt under the supervision of James Bowers. She was originally built in 1857, at Irving, New York, and after this rebuild, she lasted another 21 years.

On 12 April 1892, UGANDA (wooden propeller, 291 foot, 2,053 gross tons) was launched at W. Bay City, Michigan, at F.W. Wheeler's yard (Hull #88).

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


Coast Guard concluding 2008/09 icebreaking season

4/11 - Cleveland, Ohio – The international cooperative icebreaking efforts involving U.S. Coast Guard and Canadian icebreakers on the Great Lakes are fast coming to a close for the 2008/2009 icebreaking season.

There are two major operations conducted during the icebreaking season, Operations Coal Shovel and Taconite. The Coast Guard concluded efforts in Operation Coal Shovel, which encompasses southern Lake Huron, St. Clair/Detroit River systems, and Lakes Erie and Ontario and the St. Lawrence Seaway, Thursday.

Icebreaking for Operation Taconite, encompassing Lake Superior, the St. Mary’s River and the Straits of Mackinac, Lake Michigan and northern Lake Huron, is anticipated to conclude the week of April 13.

"This season was one of the safest and most successful icebreaking seasons in many years," said Cmdr. Kevin Dunn, Chief of Waterways Management for the Ninth U.S. Coast Guard District. "The unprecedented level of communication between industry, both governments and commercial icebreaking providers, as well as the improved reliability of our icebreaking resources, ensured we were able to meet all agreed upon Coast Guard and industry icebreaking performance standards."

In addition to providing services for industry, U.S. Coast Guard helped the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers provide flood control relief for many communities in Ohio and Michigan. Coast Guard icebreakers cleared ice from the Grand Rivers in Ohio and Michigan, mitigating storm and flood damage there.

The U.S. Coast Guard also recently completed engineering upgrades to four of its five 140-foot icebreaking cutters, improving reliability and reducing the number of days lost due to mechanical problems by more than 50 percent, from a high of 118 days lost last season to just 63 days this season. Also, The Coast Guard deployed an additional 140-foot icebreaker, the Thunder Bay from Rockland, Maine, to help break ice on the Great Lakes. Thunder Bay arrived on the Great Lakes March 31 after breaking ice in the Saint Lawrence Seaway.

The deployment of the additional cutter from the Coast Guard's First District in New England enabled the Coast Guard's Ninth District to shift more icebreakers to the northern parts of the Great Lakes where greater concentrations of ice where found, while still providing resources in Lake Erie.

"It was an exceptionally safe year and the commercial ship operators should be commended for only sending out ships that were adequately powered and constructed for the difficult ice conditions often found on the Great Lakes in winter," said Capt. Lorne Thomas, Chief of Prevention for the Ninth Coast Guard District.

"Icebreaking on the Lakes takes a real team effort. Though we saw a reduced amount of commercial traffic probably due to the economy, we along with our international partners and commercial icebreaking resources were prepared for the worst and operationally ready for a heavy ice season that thankfully never fully materialized," said Thomas.



Four ships heading to Twin Ports to open 50th international shipping season

4/11 - Duluth, Minn. – Four ocean-going ships are on the lakes, all headed for cargo in the Twin Ports to open the international shipping season starting this weekend. This is the 50th year since ships sailed from the Atlantic through the St. Lawrence Seaway to Duluth-Superior.

As of Friday the salties are Federal Welland, anchored in the lower St. Marys River likely waiting for a pilot; Medemborg who joined the Federal Welland around 11 p.m.; Sabrina anchored above Port Huron; and the Federal Schelde in the Welland Canal, which is scheduled to stop in Cleveland before Duluth.

The 2,400-mile journey from the Atlantic Ocean to the western-most port on the Great Lakes was taken by just 69 ships last year…less than half the usual number. But Duluth Army Corp of Engineers Park Ranger Mary George says the mystique of the brightly colored salties never grows old for her.

"When you see boats that are coming from Holland and registered in Hong Kong and Antwerp and all of those places, it always reminds you that even if you're in the middle of the country you'll get to touch the rest of the world.”

91.3 KUWS and Matt Miner


Little coal and no ore shipped out of the Twin Ports in March

4/11 - Duluth, Minn. – Great Lakes coal shipments have limped off to a slow start this year. In March, only one laker loaded coal at the Midwest Energy Resources Co. terminal in Superior, compared with 10 to 15 vessels in years past.

Throughout the Great Lakes, only three shiploads of coal were delivered in March, according to the Lake Carriers’ Association. In all, 116,259 tons of coal were shipped by water in March — 7.4 percent of what moved on the lakes during the same month last year.

At least some coal was moving in March, whereas not a single iron ore pellet shipment left the Twin Ports that month.

“I don’t remember that ever happening before,” said Jim Sharrow, facilities manager for the Duluth Seaway Port Authority.

There was little incentive for an aggressive launch of this year’s shipping season, said Fred Shusterich, Midwest Energy’s president. The demand for lakers this year is significantly weaker because of the economic slowdown and the fact that steel mills are operating at just 40 to 45 percent of capacity.

“The ice was pretty bad, but there was also no need to go out early, because boats don’t have a full season of work lined up. All you’d do is ding up your boats for no good reason,” Shusterich said.

Last year, lakers sustained more than $1.3 million in ice-related damage, according to the Lake Carriers’ Association.

The association, which represents the operators of U.S.-flagged vessels on the Great Lakes, used the slow start this season as an opportunity to lobby for more investment by the federal government in icebreakers.

“It is unfortunate that the U.S. Coast Guard’s icebreaking assets on the Great Lakes are inadequate to meet the needs of commerce,” association President James Weakley said in a prepared statement Thursday.

“We know the crews on those icebreakers do the very best they can, but five of the Coast Guard’s eight icebreaking assets were built in the late 1970s, and experience shows they are prone to mechanical problems,” he said. “Two other vessels were not designed with icebreaking as their primary mission.”

Weakley added: “A vessel operator will not send a freighter that cost tens of millions of dollars into heavy ice when there is no assurance that icebreaking assets will be able to maintain the shipping lanes and respond in a timely manner to a vessel beset in ice.”

He called on lawmakers to support the Great Lakes Icebreaker Replacement Act, introduced by U.S. Rep. Jim Oberstar, D-Minn., which would provide money for the construction of a sister ship to the Coast Guard’s largest Great Lakes icebreaker, the Mackinaw.

Duluth News Tribune


Port Reports - April 11

Marinette, Wisc. - Dick Lund
Marinette's 2009-2010 shipping season opened on Friday with the arrival of the Amelia Desgagnes around 11 a.m. The ship is carrying a load of pig iron for Marinette Fuel & Dock Co.

Hamilton, Ont. - Eric Holmes
Thursday the Melissa Desgagnes arrived at 4:30 pm. from Sorel with pig iron for Pier 26. After loading a different grade of pig iron she was headed to Toledo. The Canadian Coast Guard Ship Limnos arrived in Burlington at 5 p.m., going to The Canada Centre for Inland Waters. The saltie Sjard arrived at 5:30 p.m. and anchored in the harbor.


Army Corps announces activation of new electric barrier

4/11 - Chicago, Ill. - The U.S. Coast Guard is informing all marine industry and Illinois waterway users of the current operational status of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Electrical Dispersal Fish Barrier located on the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal at river mile marker 296.5, near Lockport, Ill.

Chicago District USACE activated a new electric barrier, known as Barrier IIA, in the Canal as part of the Aquatic Nuisance Species Dispersal Barrier, Wednesday afternoon.

The purpose of the barriers is to block the passage of aquatic nuisance species between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins. Currently, the greatest concern for the Coast Guard is facilitating safe navigation through the electrified water.

The Coast Guard established a regulated navigation area (RNA) and safety zone in the navigable waters located adjacent to and over the barrier system, placing navigational and operational restrictions on all vessels transiting the navigable waters. The activation of Barrier IIA requires all commercial vessels certificated to carry hazardous materials to be escorted through the area by an USACE contracted bow boat. A bow boat is a towing vessel capable of providing positive control of the bow of a tow while transiting the RNA.

All commercial and recreational mariners are reminded to exercise extreme caution while traveling the Canal from the Romeo Road Bridge to the pipeline arch.



Two new maritime exhibits open at the Dossin Museum

4/11 - Detroit, Mich. – Two maritime exhibits opening Saturday, April 25 will bring new mysteries and adventures to the Dossin Great Lakes Museum on Belle Isle.

The Committed to the Deep: Exploring Underwater Treasures exhibit dives into a subterranean world of shipwreck tragedies and historical discoveries. Thousands of ships and tens of thousands of passengers have perished in the Great Lakes, beginning with LaSalle’s Griffon, the first large vessel on the freshwater seas, to the Edmund Fitzgerald in 1975. The ruins from these sunken ships have become underwater treasures for historians, archeologists and divers.

“Divers, scientists, archaeologists, and historians study these shipwrecks as living time capsules, each with a story to tell. Organizations all around the lakes are working hard to research and protect these relics, but Michigan is leading the way in creating underwater preserves to ensure that these historical resources are not lost,” said exhibit curator Joel Stone.

Committed to the Deep: Exploring Underwater Treasures reveals the history of shipwreck preservation, with displays on antique diving gear, modern sonar equipment, relics from the schooner Alvin Clark and other wrecks, and education on the documentation and conservation of shipwrecks.

The second new exhibit pays tribute to the navigational structures built to prevent shipwreck tragedies. L is for Lighthouse honors the historical importance and beauty of Great Lakes lighthouses. For two centuries, these elegant buildings warned sailors of dangerous shoals and guided passengers to safe harbors.

“With over 10,000 miles of shoreline, our region enjoys a concentration of lighthouses, and therefore a large number of lighthouse fans. This exhibit explores lenses and lamps, locations and light keepers, and all the labor and love represented by lighthouses,” Stone said.

Modern day global positioning systems (GPS) have made most lighthouses obsolete, but local historians and preservationists have restored many of these iconic buildings. This new exhibit displays a variety of lighthouse lenses, artifacts used by lighthouse keepers, and engineering tools from Detroit area lighthouses.

Committed to the Deep: Exploring Underwater Treasures replaces the Smugglers on the Straits exhibit in the Great Lakes Gallery. L is for Lighthouse replaces Fun, Fast, and Fancy: Great Lakes Yachts in DeRoy Hall. Both exhibits will be open until April 2010.

Detroit Historical Society


Updates - April 11

News Photo Gallery

Public Gallery updated


Today in Great Lakes History - April 11

11 April 1890 - The CHENANGO (wooden propeller passenger-package freight steamer, 176 foot, 696 gross tons, built in 1887, at Detroit, Michigan) was carrying 40,000 bushels of wheat from Toledo, Ohio to Buffalo, New York, when she caught fire off Erie, Pennsylvania. She was partially consumed by the fire and sank in four fathoms of water with no loss of life. She was later raised at great expense and rebuilt as the steamer LIZZIE MADDEN.

On 11 April 1882, GALATEA (3-mast wooden schooner, 180 foot, 606 gross tons) was launched by F. W. Wheeler (Hull#13) at W. Bay City, Michigan. She lasted until she stranded and broke up at Grand Marais, Michigan, in the "Big Storm" of 1905.

The tanker IMPERIAL ST. CLAIR (Hull#57) of the Port Weller Drydocks Ltd., entered service on April 11, 1974, light for Montreal, Quebec.

Canada Steamship Lines J.W. MC GIFFIN (Hull#197) was christened at Collingwood on April 11, 1972. Port Weller Drydocks attached a new forebody in 1999, and she was renamed b.) CSL NIAGARA.

Pioneer Steamship's steamer PHILIP D. BLOCK sailed on her maiden voyage April 11, 1925, with coal from Huron, Ohio, bound for delivery at Indiana Harbor, Indiana.

Wilkinson Transportation Co.'s steamer A.E. NETTLETON (Hull#176) of the Detroit Ship Building Co., was launched April 11, 1908. She was scrapped at Santander, Spain in 1973.

On April 11, 1970, in Lake Superior's Whitefish Bay CSL's steamer STADACONA of 1952, encountered thick ice and suffered bow damage. She developed a hairline crack in her bow and to alleviate the leakage her cargo was shifted from her forward hold to her after compartments using her self-unloading equipment. This maneuver raised her bow enough to keep her from sinking before she reached safety.

Pittsburgh Steamship Co.'s steamer ENDERS M. VOORHEES (Hull#288), of the Great Lakes Engineering Works, was launched on April 11, 1942. She was scrapped at Aliaga, Turkey in 1989.

On April 11, 1964, while up bound on Whitefish Bay, Lake Superior, a boiler burst on board the Pittsburgh Steamship Co.'s WILLIAM A. IRVIN, killing one of the crew and injuring two others.

April 11, 1948 - The ANN ARBOR NO 7 ran aground just south of Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin.

On 11 April 1874, the new tug E.H. MILLER burned at her dock at Willow Island in the Saginaw River. Her loss was valued at $9,000 and there was no insurance. Although considered to be a total loss, she was rebuilt and lasted another 46 years.

On 11 April 1878, ALASKA, a wooden bulk freighter, was launched at J. P. Clark's yard in Detroit, Michigan. Her dimensions were 180 feet overall, 28 foot beam, and 10 foot depth.

The navigation season at the Canadian Sault Canal was unofficially opened on 11 April 1955, at 7:15 a.m., when the MANZZUTTI (steel crane ship, 246 foot, 1,558 gross tons, built in 1903, at Buffalo, New York as J.S. KEEFE) locked up bound for the Algoma Steel dock. Because the MANZZUTTI wintered over at the Soo, its Captain, John B. Perry, was not eligible for the traditional top hat and silk gloves presented to the first captain through the locks. So this was not the official opening of navigation at the Soo. The first boat through the American locks was expected the following day.

Data from: Max Hanley, Joe Barr, Dave Swayze, Father Dowling Collection, Ahoy & Farewell II, the Historical Collections of the Great Lakes, Bowling Green State University and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series.


Algonova towed to Port Colborne for repairs

4/10 - St. Catharines, Ont. – The tanker Algonova was towed from Nanticoke, Ont., to Port Colborne on the Welland Canal Thursday. Algonova has been sitting in Nanticoke for several weeks while attempts to make unspecified repairs were taken. She is reported to have engine trouble. A decision was recently made to move her to Port Colborne to finish the repairs. McKeil's tug Molly M 1 did the tow with Nadro’s tug Vac on the stern of Algonova for control. Another Nadro tug, Seahound, was used to clear ice in the harbor and to hold the tanker alongside the dock until her lines were secured. Ice conditions in the harbor were not serious.

Reported by Paul Beesley and Dave Otterman


Neah Bay opens Portage Canal for season

4/10 - Houghton, Mich. - The Portage Canal in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula saw its first spring ship sail through earlier this week, prompting lift operators at the Portage Lift Bridge to raise it for the first time this year.

The Coast Guard Cutter, Neah Bay was cutting through ice at the request of Isle Royale National Park. The vessel spent last week cutting ice in Thunder Bay Ont., then headed over to Isle Royale, before cutting ice in the Portage Canal.

"We saw areas of open water, but there were some thick areas left up to about nine inches of thickness. The ship can get through three feet of ice without any trouble. We can move through two feet of ice continuously at three knots," said Lt.William Woityra.

Neah Bay arrived downbound at the Soo Thursday afternoon and stopped at the Soo Coast Guard base.



Only three coal cargoes carried on Lakes in March

4/10 - Cleveland, Ohio - Only three coal cargos moved on the Great Lakes in March, likely the lowest total in a decade or more. The slumping economy played a role in the anemic total – only 116,259 tons – but the heavy ice on the Lakes prompted many vessel operators to delay putting vessels into service.

Lake Carriers’ Association.


Port Reports - April 10

Sturgeon Bay, Wisc. - Dick Lund
St. Marys Challenger has been removed from the graving dock and placed outboard American Century. Petrochem Supplier has been moved into the graving dock. Cason J. Callaway had smoke coming from its stack. Also, Arthur M. Anderson was moved alongside fleetmate, Philip R. Clarke; and Sam Laud has been rafted outside the Pathfinder, which now has the tug Dorothy Ann in the notch.

Grand Haven, Mich. - Dick Fox
The Manitowoc was expected at 10:30 p.m. April 9 with a load of coal for the Grand Haven Board of Light and Power Plant on Harbor Island. This was the port’s first boat of the season, and the latest start in eight years. After unloading, the vessel will depart and head to Chicago for another load of coal and return on Saturday midday.

Alpena and Stoneport - Ben & Chanda McClain
Calumet opened the season at Stoneport Thursday afternoon by taking on the first load of stone.
Alpena returned to Lafarge Thursday afternoon for another load of cement. It was outbound in the bay at sunset, heading for Green Bay, Wisc. Tug Samuel de Champlain and barge Innovation are expected in port on Friday.

Cleveland, Ohio – Ryan Mills
The Maine-based USCG Thunder Bay was docked in Cleveland at the Coast Guard base on Thursday. It is unknown how long the cutter will be in port or if it will visit other ports before returning to the east coast.

Hamilton, Ont. - Eric Holmes
Wednesday the Captain Henry Jackman departed winter layup at 4 p.m. and headed for the Welland Canal. Federal Schelde departed at 5:30 p.m. for Cleveland but half way to the canal reported engine trouble. The number 4 fuel pump was not working; they reported to Seaway Newcastle that repairs would take two hours.

Detroit, Mich. – Michael J Koprowicz
The Herbert C. Jackson departed layup at Nicholson’s Slip in Ecorse, Mich., just before 4:30 p.m. and headed up river at reduced speed, breaking in her engine for the 2009 shipping season. The Jackson may be Interlake’s only active steamboat in 2009.


Updates - April 10

News Photo Gallery

Public Gallery updated


Today in Great Lakes History - April 10

10 April 1868 The ALPENA (wooden side-wheel passenger-package freight steamer, 653 tons, built in 1867, at Marine City, Michigan) was purchased by Capt. A. E. Goodrich from Gardner, Ward & Gardner for $80,000.

On 10 April 1861, UNION (wooden propeller, 170 foot, 465 tons) was launched and christened at the Bates yard in Manitowoc, Wisconsin for the Goodrich Line. She cost $19,000. The engines, machinery and many of the fittings were from the OGONTZ of 1858. This was the first steamer built by the Bates yard.

The tanker TEXACO CHIEF (Hull#193), was christened April 10, 1969. She was renamed b.) A G FARQUHARSON in 1986 and c.) ALGONOVA in 1998.

The d.) GODERICH of 1908, was sold April 10, 1963, to the Algoma Central & Hudson Bay Railway Co. and renamed e.) AGAWA. Renamed f.) LIONEL PARSONS in 1968, and served as a storage barge at Goderich, Ontario until 1983, when she was scrapped at Thunder Bay, Ontario.

The keel was laid April 10, 1952, for the steamer WILLIAM CLAY FORD (Hull#300) of the Great Lakes Engineering Works.

The SINCLAIR GREAT LAKES (Hull#1577) of the Ingalls Iron Works, Decatur, Alabama, was christened on April 10, 1963.

On April 10, 1973, the ARTHUR B HOMER departed the shipyard at Lorain, Ohio, with a new pilothouse. She had suffered extensive damage on October 5, 1972, in a head on collision with the salty NAVISHIPPER on the Detroit River.

April 10, 1912 - ANN ARBOR NO 5 struck her stern against the channel in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, bending her rudder, and damaging her port shaft.

On 10 April 1875, the propeller EMMA E THOMPSON was launched at East Saginaw, Michigan. She was built for Capt. D.F. Edwards of Toledo and cost $20,000. Her dimensions were 125 feet x 26 feet x 10 feet. In 1880, she was rebuilt as a schooner and then returned to a propeller in 1881, when she was given the engine from the propeller AKRON.

On 10 April 1882, ESPINDOLA (wooden schooner, 54 tons, built in 1869, at Manitowoc, Wisconsin) was carrying railroad ties when she was overwhelmed by a storm and went to pieces one mile north of the Chicago waterfront. No lives were lost, but four crewmen were rescued by a tug after having been in the water for some time.

The MANZZUTTI (steel crane ship, 246 foot, 1558 gross tons, built in 1903, at Buffalo, New York as a.) J S KEEFE) of the Yankcanuck Steamship Ltd., was the first vessel through the Canadian locks at the Soo for the 1954, navigation season. She entered the Canadian canal on 10 April 1954, about 8:15 a.m.. The locking of the MANZZUTTI was not considered the official opening of the season at the Soo since she wintered in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario and the first vessel must come up the St. MaryÕs River from Lake Huron or Michigan. President Dave Bows of the Kiwanis Club, pointed out the clubÕs $1,000 marine contest is based on the first such vessel though the Michigan Sault locks only. The U.S. Coast Guard reported six inch ice in the lower St. Mary's River.

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


Montrealais damaged after Welland bridge incident

4/9 - Port Weller, Ont. – Montrealais has departed Port Weller, Ont., and is headed to Hamilton, Ont., for repairs.

Montrealais was downbound in the Welland Canal on Tuesday when Bridge 11 (now computerized) failed to open completely, or not at all. The vessel dropped both anchors in order to avoid hitting the bridge, went sideways and struck the bank, suffering a three-foot hole in the hull. Montrealais had loaded at Thunder Bay and was destined for Port Cartier.

Montrealais was the recipient of the Top Hat at Lock 3 late last month for the first vessel to transit the Welland Canal upbound for 2009-2010 season.

Kent Malo


J.W. Westcott mailboat returns to service

4/9 - Detroit, Mich. - The J. W. Westcott Co. returned to 24-hour operations Thursday morning with the arrival of the U.S. mail boat J. W. Westcott II at the company's dock below the Ambassador Bridge on the Detroit River. Capt. Sam Buchanan piloted the 50-foot work boat from the dock at Gregory's Marina for the short trip down river. The backup mail boat Joseph J. Hogan and pilot boat Huron Maid also returned to the station on Thursday.


Arcelor Mittal to lay off 190 Quebec workers indefinitely

4/9 - Toronto, Ont. – Arcelor Mittal, the world's largest steelmaker, says it will indefinitely shut down some of its operations in Contrecoeur, Que., affecting about 190 employees. The global company, which owns the former Dofasco Inc. of Hamilton, said Wednesday it's planning to shut down its Contrecoeur mill northeast of Montreal on April 18 and its steel slab production June 27.

A company spokesman said the shutdown is the result of slumping demand for steel and will likely last longer than six months. "The market for steel is currently in an unprecedented state of volatility, and the exceptional economic conditions we are experiencing drive us to be extra careful," said Arcelor Mittal spokesman Martin Simard. "We will continue to monitor the market changes on a constant basis and we'll keep our employees informed of the developments and the outlook for the future."

The United Steelworkers union said 450 workers were already laid off when the hot mill and cold mill operations in Contrecoeur were shut down last year. The union said it has requested an emergency meeting with the company to minimize the effects of the layoffs.

The Contrecoeur location, formerly known as Sidbec Dosco and acquired by Arcelor Mittal's predecessor company years ago, currently employs 825 people, about 590 of whom are members of the Steelworkers union.

Claude Langlois, president of union local 6586 at the plant, said the latest cuts cloud the future of the Contrecoeur operation. "When the company closed its rolling mills in March 2008 and transferred production to Dofasco, there was a question of keeping long products such as billets and wire rod in Quebec," Langlois said in a release.

"There are currently no orders for the third quarter. In terms of the processing plant, we learned that the company has a huge inventory of pellets in its Trinidad and Tobago plant. So it wants to take those pellets and send them directly to our steel mill in Contrecoeur without going through our processing plant. What's going to happen in the medium term? We don't yet have a re-opening date."

The latest cuts at the former Stelco operations followed the shutdown of U.S. Steel's Hamilton blast furnace in November, costing 700 jobs.

Arcelor Mittal said it met with European trade unions Wednesday and promised them that all production suspensions are temporary and will be reviewed on a regular basis. It said machinery would be maintained to allow a swift restart when market conditions improve.

"In light of the ongoing exceptional economic environment, it is necessary to continue to suspend and optimize production to ensure the company is well adapted to the market reality," it said in a statement.

The Canadian Press


Port Reports - April 9

South Chicago, Ill – Steve B.
The Spruceglen departed KCBX loaded at noon on Wednesday. She was assisted by the G Tugs Massachusetts and Colorado. Out in Calumet Harbor the American Mariner was at anchor, waiting for the departure of the Spruceglen, with a destination of KCBX.

Toledo, Ohio – Jim Hoffman
Amelia Desgagnes was at the Midwest Terminal dock unloading cargo. The tug Sea Eagle II and barge St. Marys Cement were at the St. Marys Cement Dock unloading cement. Atlantic Erie was at the Torco Ore Dock unloading ore. The next coal boat scheduled into the CSX Docks will be American Mariner on Monday. The next ore boats due into the Torco Ore Dock will be Lee A. Tregurtha on Saturday followed by Herbert C. Jackson on Monday.

Hamilton, Ont. - Eric Holmes
Tuesday morning, Canadian Transport departed Dofasco after discharging a cargo of coal at 5:30 a.m. She headed back through the Welland Canal. The Frontenac arrived at 9 a.m. with a load of salt from Windsor for Pier 26. The Edward L. Ryerson departed Dofasco at 11 a.m. for the canal. The Canadian Provider was shifted from its winter lay up at Pier 25 to Pier 22 to make way for incoming ships.


Badger’s boiler work puts it in tip-top shape

4/9 - Ludington, Mich. – With the first day of sailing, May 22, approaching, the S.S. Badger is in the best operating condition since she was built, said Senior Chief Engineer Chuck Cart Tuesday. A team of boilermakers from Cheboygan is just about finished re-tubing the last of the four boilers. The other three boilers have undergone the same process in the last eight years, a significant upgrade which cost the company $250,000 per boiler.

We’ve made the investment because we believe it’s going to be around for a long time, said Lake Michigan Carferry’s Kari Karr.

In addition to updating the boiler, a process that has taken 13 weeks, two of the surface condensers have also been replaced, according to Roger Schwartz, who co-owns Schwartz Boiler with wife, Diane. Surface condensers turn steam back into water, which is then recycled, said Schwartz. The whole ship runs on that steam.

While steam engines on passenger ships are largely a thing of the past, with the exception of the Badger, one of the few remaining, Schwartz assured that he has plenty of business in the steamship repairing department.

“We do lots of work for the Coast Guard, said Schwartz. We do a lot of work (on ships) in Alpena, and we did do the two boilers on the Badger back in 2000 when it was dry docked in Sturgeon Bay. Between Dec. 8 and April 11 that year, the only day we didn’t work was Christmas.”

The crew is important to the Badger’s operation.

“They are all stewards of this incredibly special ship, something bigger than all of us,” said Karr, who adds that Cart also holds the position of Senior Chief Curator of the Badger.

According to Karr, the carferry has recently been designated one of Heritage Travel’s “places that matter.” Heritage Travel is a subsidiary of the National Trust for Historical Preservation.

Karr said there have been recent staff adjustments that will not affect customers. “Were trying to operate as leanly as possible,” said Karr.

Lake Michigan Carferry has just begun taking bookings for the 2009 season, but she said it’s too early to tell whether the recent downturns in the economy will affect this year’s business. However Karr remains optimistic.

“Web site traffic is strong and we have had a lot of luck in niche marketing to RV and motorcycle groups, as well as car clubs. In August of 2009, 180 Model Ts were transported on the Badger. Other history buffs have also tracked down the ship, which has become somewhat well-known as a floating museum.”

“Steam people know about us,” Cart agreed. “I had a guy contact me from Oslo, Norway and a group from Germany.” According to Cart, people have a fascination with the ship because, on the Badger, “things are done the way they used to be, and the Badger will be able to make the four-hour journey from Ludington to Manitowoc, as long as they want to run it.”

Ludington Daily News.


Air station crews return home after Midwest flood assistance

4/9 - Traverse City, Mich. - U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City search-and-rescue crews returned home last weekend from their mission of search-and-rescue and evacuation assistance in the flood-stricken regions of North Dakota and Minnesota’s Red River valley basin.

The three Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City HH-65C Dolphin helicopters and their 14 air crew members, who began deploying to the region on March 23, were systematically released from operations as the immediate threat of further flooding subsided. By Friday, April 3, all three helicopters and crew members had returned home from their deployment — a journey spanning more than 525 miles from Grand Forks, N.D.

During their deployment, the Traverse City crews conducted three to four missions per day searching for stranded residents in need of assistance and conducting other valuable support operations. They safely rescued 23 people along with several pets from their homes.

In total, Coast Guard personnel saved more than 100 residents in the flooded areas centered around Fargo and Grand Forks, N.D.

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

Sault Ste. Marie Evening News


International group monitoring St. Clair River

4/9 - An international agency has deemed changes in the bottom of the St. Clair River to be a priority in the future health of the Great Lakes. The International Joint Commission will release a report on May 1 detailing what’s happening on the river bed. From there, the group plans another series of studies to determine how that is impacting other waterways.

The river report, part of a larger Great Lakes study, originally was expected to be released in 2010 but was put on the fast track because what happens in the St. Clair River is considered key to what is happening elsewhere.

“The concern is that there is ongoing erosion in the river contributing to the lower levels in Lake Huron and Lake Michigan,” said John Nevin, communications advisor for the International Upper Great Lakes Study. “We are trying to find out if it is continuing to change. If so, what the cause is, and then find out if there is anything we can do about it.”

The joint commission, formed in 1909 by the Canadian and American governments to monitor bodies of water that impact both nations, has compiled information at 13 million data points on the river of the bottom. The data includes statistics about evaporation run-off and outflow.

Nevin said the report doesn’t reach a final conclusion, it simply reports information that will be used to form one. “This is the preliminary work,” he said. “We have the basic picture, but we will continue to work on the study this summer.” More data also will be collected. This summer, the group plans to do video monitoring on the bottom of the river and new gauges near the Blue Water Bridge to measure speed and direction of the water flow.

After the St. Clair River report is released, the International Joint Commission will host several public meetings for input. There will be a meeting in Sarnia from 7 to 9 p.m. May 19, but the site has not been determined. The report will be 200 pages of dense scientific data, but it will also be released in a 10- or 15-page condensed version for the public. at

“The St. Clair River is crucial to the Great Lakes system,” said Jim Bredin, assistant to the director of the Michigan Office of the Great Lakes. “It’s a totally unregulated flow. Whatever that river allows to be discharged has an effect on Lake St. Clair and Lake Erie and of course has a major impact on Lake Huron.”

The larger Great Lakes study started in 2007 to examine whether regulation of Lake Superior outflows can be improved to meet the needs of the upper Great Lakes and their interconnecting channels.


McGulpin Point Light to receive a new lantern

4/9 - The  McGulpin Point Light is about to receive a new lantern after being dark for 103 years. The lighthouse, which is located two miles west of Mackinac City, was discontinued in 1906 following the construction of the  Old Mackinac Point light and fog signal. The structure passed in to private hands in 1913, but was recently acquired by Emmet County in 2008. The county's goal is to have the light established as a private aid to navigation.

Moran Iron Works, Inc. of Onaway, Mich., has been contracted to build a replica, 10-sided lantern, and the new lantern is scheduled to be raised to the top of the tower around April 21.

A public ceremony will surround the re-lighting on May 30, 140 years after the light was first established.


MarineLink plans vessel service on lakes, Seaway

4/9 - St. Catharines, Ont. – With a growing fleet of vessels, the new Canadian company MarineLink, specializing in Short Sea Shipping throughout the St. Lawrence Seaway and Great Lakes areas, is taking on the challenge of providing “new generation shipping.”

To that end, it has appointed Rohde & Liesenfeld Canada Inc. of Calgary, Alberta, as its non-exclusive agent to market and sell transportation services related to the heavy lift vessel MarineLink Explorer as well as the tugs Commodore Straits, Radium Yellowknife and MR Kane and barges in the MarineLink fleet.

This agency agreement relates to services on the St. Lawrence River/Great Lakes System for heavy lift and project cargoes moving to/from Canadian destinations especially for the Alberta Oilsands.

One of the important new areas of opportunity for short sea shipping involves the port of Thunder Bay on Lake Superior and CN’s completion in 2008 of widening the rail corridor for high and wide equipment moves from Thunder Bay to Ft. McMurray, Ont. In addition, one of the rail bridges, which was an impediment to over height truck movements from Thunder Bay to the western provinces, was eliminated in 2008. This opens up a project cargo gateway for Quebec and Ontario manufacturers to move oversize and heavy equipment by water to Thunder Bay and then by rail or road from there to western Canada points, like Fort McMurray.

MarineLink is in the unique position to be able to serve the water side of reaching Thunder Bay with the Canadian flag MarineLink Explorer, geared with 2 X 225 metric ton on-board cranes. The vessel can pick-up cargoes anywhere in the St. Lawrence Seaway, on the lakes themselves and the eastern seaboard of Canada and deliver them to Thunder Bay.

Originating as an investigation of opportunities in trans-lake shipping, the MarineLink concept was born in 2003 with the idea of developing a truck ferry service across Lake Erie, using a drop-barge system, between Nanticoke and Erie. The idea was well received by all that it was discussed with and seemed to offer an answer for border congestion, driver shortages and restrictive weight limits.

In a move to provide the necessary shore facilities, MarineLink aligned with Hamilton Port Authority (HPA) as its port infrastructure partner. HPA in turn expanded the scope of MarineLink to include a Lake Ontario Ro-Ro operation through Hamilton as well as the original Lake Erie project. Further research uncovered a market for container movement from the Atlantic Coast into the Great Lakes, leading in turn to partnership with Melford Terminal and the prospect of a container feeder service.


High water levels at Morrisburg in Seaway

4/9 - Mariners are advised that high water levels exist in the Morrisburg, Ont., area. For this reason, the speed limits indicated in Column IV of the Seaway Handbook will be in force immediately between Richard’s Point and Iroquois Lock. The Traffic Control personnel will monitor the water levels. Mariners will be advised once the levels have receded.’ SLSC


Updates - April 9

News Photo Gallery

Scott Misener (3) feature updated in the Historical Perspective Galleries

Public Gallery updated


Today in Great Lakes History - April 9

09 April 1890 - The W.H. SAWYER (wooden propeller freighter, 201 foot, 746 gross tons) was launched by F. W. Wheeler (Hull #66) at West Bay City, Michigan. She lasted until 1928, when she sank off Harbor Beach, Michigan.

On 09 April 1868, SEABIRD (wooden side-wheel steamer, 638 tons, built in 1859, at Newport [Marine City], Michigan) was sailing on her first trip of the season from Manitowoc to Chicago. At 6:00 a.m. off Waukegan, Illinois, the porter cleaned out the ashes in the cabin stove and threw the hot coals overboard into the wind. The coals were blown back aboard and a blaze quickly engulfed the vessel. Only two survived. They were picked up by the schooner CORNELIA. 102 were lost. The vessel was uninsured and this was a severe financial blow to the new Goodrich Transportation Company. On April 9, 1960, Canada Steamship Lines Ltd.'s a.) MURRAY BAY (Hull#164), of Collingwood Shipyards Ltd., entered service as the first Canadian 730-footer. Renamed b.) COMEAUDOC in 1963, she was scrapped at Port Colborne in 2003.

The LAWRENDOC (Hull#174), was christened jointly with her Collingwood-built sister ship MONDOC (Hull#173) on April 9, 1962.

The Wilson Marine Transit Co., Cleveland purchased the b.) FINLAND, a.) HARRY COULBY (Hull#163) of the Detroit Ship Building Co., on April 9, 1957, and resold her the same day to the Republic Steel Corp., Cleveland with Wilson Marine acting as manager. Renamed c.) PETER ROBERTSON in 1969 and d.) MARINSAL in 1975.

April 9, 1930 - The CITY OF FLINT 32 entered service under the command of Estan Bayle.

On 9 April 1871, the wooden "rabbit" BAY CITY (152 foot, 372 gross tons, built in 1867, at Marine City, Michigan) had just loaded 270,000 feet of lumber in Bay City for Tonawanda, New York, when a fire broke out ashore. The ship was set adrift at 11:00 a.m. to get away from the lumber yard blaze. However, as the crew watched the shore fire, sparks smoldered in the ship's cargo. At 2:00 p.m., she burst into flame. Four tugs and a steam-powered fire engine brought along side on a lighter fought the blaze to no avail. The vessel was scuttled to put out the fire. A few days later she was raised and repaired at a cost of $4,000.

On 9 April 1885, laid-up vessels BURLINGTON and CHURCH were hit by the barge ALLEN and forced into the Military Street bridge at Port Huron, Michigan, crashing into the structure and completely blocking the Black River and disabling the bridge. The blame was placed on the Spring thaw.

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


St. Lawrence Seaway set to start 50th year today

3/31 -  11 a.m. update - Reports indicate that the following ships will be the first ones in the Seaway on opening day: Spruceglen, Laguna D., Federal Saguenay, Kathryn Spirit and Diamond Star. The Montreal-Lake Ontario section and the Welland Canal will open to navigation at 8 a.m.

At St Lambert there will be a ceremony celebrating fifty years since the opening of the St Lawrence Seaway The annual Top Hat Ceremony takes place Tuesday in St. Catharines, Ont. It marks the start of the 2009 navigation season and celebrates the 180th anniversary of the Welland Canal and the 50th anniversary of the St. Lawrence Seaway. The upbound Montrealais received the top hat, opening the Welland Canal. The first downbound was the Algoeast.

Rene Beauchamp


Twin Ports shipping season gets off to a late start

3/31 - Duluth, Minn. - Commercial ship traffic commenced Monday at Duluth-Superior in what is likely the latest season opener for Twin Ports shipping since the early 1990s. The Alpena was the first ship of the season at the Aerial Bridge, arriving with a load of cement at about 3 p.m. Alpena's arrival marks the first time in recent memory that the Twin Ports' first ship movement was a vessel arriving from below the Soo Locks. Most shipping seasons there start between March 15th and 20th, well before the Soo's March 25th opening, with intra-lake vessel traffic.

At nearly the same time that the Alpena arrived under the Aerial Bridge the James R. Barker got underway from the Midwest Energy dock in Superior. She departed Duluth about an hour later, headed for Presque Isle, Mich., with coal. The Coast Guard cutter Alder and at least one Great Lakes Towing tug were out breaking harbor ice on Monday as well, and the Alder made a quick trip to Two Harbors in the afternoon. During early evening, Walter J. McCarthy, Jr. shifted from her layup berth at Garfield D to nearby Murphy Fuel. She's expected on Tuesday for St. Clair, Mich., and will be first ship this season to load cargo in the Twin Ports for a destination below the Soo.

On Tuesday, Lee A. Tregurtha is scheduled to get underway from Fraser Shipyards and head to Two Harbors, Minn. The American Mariner is also due in Two Harbors on Tuesday, coming from below the Soo. One of those two ships will likely open the shipping season there, although the movements of the Tregurtha, Mariner, and McCarthy may be affected by weather and ice conditions. A snow storm is expected to bring gale force easterly winds to the area on Tuesday. Depending on how much ice is still out on the open lake and what condition it is in, the strong winds could push a field of brash ice into the western end of Lake Superior.


New Great Lakes icebreaker sought

3/31 - Toledo, Ohio – Legislation authorizing construction of a new icebreaker for the Great Lakes is being applauded by the Great Lakes shipping community as key to the industry’s future. H.R. 1747, the Great Lakes Icebreaker Replacement Act of 2009, was introduced in the House of Representatives on March 26 by Rep. James L. Oberstar (D-MN).

“The Great Lakes are in desperate need of another modern icebreaker,” said Don Cree, President of Great Lakes Maritime Task Force (“GLMTF”) and President of the Toledo (Ohio) Port Council. “Most of the U.S. Coast Guard’s icebreaking assets are nearing the end of their productive lives. As a result, freighters have been experiencing significant delays and even suffering extensive damage. In the spring of 2008 alone, ice-related damages cost U.S.-Flag vessel operators $1.3 million to repair.”

Shipping on the Great Lakes during the ice season (December 16-April 15) is crucial to meeting the nation’s demand for raw materials. During the winter of 2006/2007, shipments of iron ore, coal, stone, cement, salt and liquid-bulk products totaled nearly 22 million tons, or 16 percent of those commodities’ annual total.

“The 10.4 million tons of iron ore that moved during the 2006/2007 ice season supported 100,000 jobs at iron ore mines and steel mills,” said James H.I. Weakley, 1st Vice President of GLMTF and President of Lake Carriers’ Association. “Those industries generate another 300,000 jobs in supplier industries. The employers who receive those cargos need to minimize stockpiling costs to remain competitive. That’s why since 1936 an Executive Order has directed the U.S. Coast Guard to break ice on the nation’s waterways. The men and women of the Ninth Coast Guard District are as dedicated a public servant as any you will find, but the simple fact is most of the icebreaking assets are inadequate to meet the needs of commerce.”

The U.S. Coast Guard has eight icebreaking assets stationed on the Great Lakes. The newest is the Mackinaw, which was launched in 2006. This vessel has proven extremely capable in all ice conditions. Two vessels were built earlier this decade, but they were not designed specifically for icebreaking and have experienced difficulty in heavy ice conditions.

The other five vessels were built in the late 1970s. They are now prone to breakdowns and replacement parts are becoming increasingly difficult to procure.

“We have a proven design in the Mackinaw,” said John D. Baker, 2nd Vice President of GLMTF, “H.R. 1747 wisely calls for a sister ship to be built.” Baker also noted that having another modern icebreaker is important to the overseas trade to the Great Lakes via the St. Lawrence Seaway. “Vessel operators will not come to the Lakes when the Seaway opens if they fear being delayed or damaged by heavy ice. They will wait til the ice clears. The same will be true at the end of the season. They will cancel their final voyages rather than risk being trapped on the Lakes over the winter.”

“The ice that forms on the Lakes is formidable,” said Patrick J. O’Hern, 3rd Vice President of GLMTF and Vice President and General Manager of Bay Shipbuilding Company. “After the harsh winter of 1993/1994, the Coast Guard was breaking ice in the St. Marys River until mid-May. Great Lakes shipping cannot meet the needs of the industrial heartland unless the Coast Guard’s icebreaking assets are modernized. We thank Congressman Oberstar for once again fighting for the Lakes.”

Great Lakes Maritime Task Force


Port Reports - March 31

Goderich, Ont. - Dale Baechler
Canadian Olympic was able to make her way into port despite the high winds early Monday morning and is loading at Sifto Salt.

Toronto, Ont. - Gerry O.
Canadian Leader was shifted from her lay-up birth into the Redpath Sugar slip Sunday afternoon by Mckeil's tugs. Unloading the storage sugar cargo began this morning. It has been a slow winter for Redpath. Normally during past winters they have unloaded one ship a month. This is only the second storage cargo this year. Canadian Miner still has a storage cargo aboard.

Welland Canal – Paul Beesley
On March 30 the USCGC Thunder Bay sailed up the Welland Canal. She is the first ship to pass through the canal this year, although the canal is not yet open to commercial traffic.



Updates - March 31

Weekly Website Updates

News Photo Gallery

Public 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 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.


Ice jam shuts down Neebish Island ferry

3/30 - Neebish Island, Mich. – Icebreaking activities by the U.S. Coast Guard are coming under fire from a vocal contingent of Neebish Island residents who are stranded. “The river was wide open, then the coast guard went down through and broke off the shore ice,” one resident said. “It was just so unnecessary.”

The icebreaking activities on Wednesday have prevented the Neebish Island Ferry from running across the channel for three days and it was unclear on Saturday afternoon when the ferry would be able to resume operation. The island resident added that it certainly isn’t unexpected to have the ice jam curtail ferry traffic during breakout, but the 2009 closure didn’t need to happen: “Mother Nature was doing a great job.” Those who live on Neebish Island year-round had presumably stockpiled fuel and food in preparation for the spring break-up so the situation is, by no means, dire — just inconvenient. It is also familiar, happening nearly every season during spring break up.

Chippewa County Central Dispatch will work in conjunction with the U.S. Coast Guard and Chippewa County Sheriff Department in the event of an emergency to provide assistance to island residents. There are at least two airboats that can be employed and, if needed, a helicopter would also be available to provide assistance until the ferry can be utilized.

Commercial shipping began with the opening of the locks last week and there have been multiple downbound transits of the river. The USCG Mackinaw worked the channels around the river on Sunday to help move the ice down river.

Sault Ste. Marie Evening News


Recession dries up traffic in Port of Milwaukee

3/30 - Milwaukee, Wisc. – There wasn't a boatload of freighter traffic to mark the opening of the Great Lakes shipping season last week.

In fact, there was barely a single boat.

The recession has weakened demand for iron ore and other commodities transported on the Great Lakes, keeping all but a few of the behemoth lake freighters tied to the docks.

Only one ship, the 450-foot Canadian tanker Algosar, was waiting at the Soo Locks when they opened Wednesday. Normally, freighters are waiting for the spring opening of the waterway that connects Lake Superior with Lake Huron. Chief lockmaster Dennis Campbell said he could not remember such a slow start to the season.

Ships remained in their winter mooring at Duluth, Minn., because they lacked cargo - not because of the weather. "We don't have quite as much control over the economy as we do the ice," said Adele Yorde, Port of Duluth spokeswoman.

It could be several months before ship traffic picks up at the Port of Milwaukee, largely because of the recession. The port and its terminal operators also have lost millions in revenue - and about 25 jobs - partly because of state rules that clamped down on the shipment of wind-turbine components, one of the region's hottest commodities. Caravans of the huge turbine parts are now shipped through Duluth and Beaumont, Texas, rather than Milwaukee.

"We had gradually built up that business for about four years, and the end result was that we were regulated out of it overnight," said Eric Reinalt, Port of Milwaukee executive director.

The business dried up after the state Department of Transportation toughened its rules governing the trucking of wind-turbine components, following a September 2007 accident in Menomonee Falls. A steel cylinder weighing more than a herd of elephants tumbled off a truck, snarling traffic for hours and prompting state officials to temporarily halt similar shipments to and from Wisconsin ports.

The new rules allowed the shipment of large wind-turbine parts on roads only at night Monday through Thursday. The rule changes also cost utility companies more to move the big equipment longer distances, according to Reinalt. Wind-energy farms have sprouted up across the Midwest, including two large operations near Fond du Lac.

"Instead of shipping components from Milwaukee to some place 100 miles away, they had to ship them from Duluth and Beaumont, adding a huge amount to the cost," Reinalt said. Port officials complained, and over a period of months the rules were relaxed to allow for easier shipping.

Now trucks are allowed to carry wind-turbine parts day and night, except during rush hour in urban areas, said Chris Klein, executive assistant to Transportation Secretary Frank Busalacchi. Roadway maintenance projects were adjusted to accommodate wind-turbine shipments, according to an Oct. 3 letter from Busalacchi to Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.

By the time the rules were modified, however, Milwaukee had lost its wind-turbine cargo to Texas and Duluth. "I think we will gradually get back into it, but it's hard to win business back once you've lost it," Reinalt said.

Not looking better
The port handled 208 ships in 2008 - down 23 percent from the year before. Total cargo was 3.2 million tons, down 8.5 percent from 2007.

This year isn't looking much better. Great Lakes shipping is off to a very slow start, largely because of a lack of iron ore shipments for steel mills in Illinois, Indiana and Michigan. Some ships aren't leaving their winter berths until June, if they sail at all this year.

"The problem is the general state of the economy. I haven't heard of any port that's expecting a gangbuster year," said Glen Nekvasil, spokesman for the Lake Carriers Association, a Cleveland-based trade group. Traditionally, the Great Lakes have been used for shipping bulk goods such as cement, grain and iron ore carried in a ship's hold.

To attract new business, port directors are calling for an exemption to a tax that's discouraged the movement of packaged goods on the lakes. A tax exemption on standardized cargo boxes carrying packaged goods could create new markets for the ports. It also could lead to the development of truck ferries across the lakes, taking thousands of trucks off congested highways.

Milwaukee is well positioned for a truck ferry across Lake Michigan - giving truckers an alternative to driving through Chicago on their way to southern Illinois, Indiana and Michigan. "There's a huge market waiting to be tapped," Reinalt said.

There are 44,000 jobs directly tied to Great Lakes shipping, and nearly 200,000 jobs in the mining and steel industries that depend on the lakes' cargo. For the first time since the recession of the mid-1980s, cargo shipments on the Great Lakes - from U.S. vessels - fell below 1 million tons in January. Shipments totaled only 778,971 tons - down 50% from January 2007.

Grain shipments were down as fewer foreign vessels visited the Great Lakes and returned home with corn and other agricultural products. Wind-turbine shipments helped Duluth, one of the Great Lakes' largest ports, offset a slowdown in iron ore and grain business.

"Wind energy is definitely an economic boon to this area," Ted Coulianos, a Minnesota Department of Transportation supervisor, said in a news release. "Yet the sheer volume and variety of equipment poses transportation challenges. Components move through as many as five highway districts, each with different restrictions."

For 2010, the Port of Milwaukee hopes to get large shipments of pipe and other materials needed for the construction of an oil pipeline linking northern Canada to the Midwest. This year, the port is counting on shipments of mining equipment from local manufacturers Bucyrus International and Joy Global Inc. Port officials also are recruiting more business from renewable energy companies.

"We are trying to get into new industries not so tied to economic cycles," Reinalt said.

The Port of Milwaukee's water depth is about 27 feet, which is better than some other Great Lakes destinations. But sections of the Lake Michigan breakwater in Milwaukee are deteriorating, raising concerns about its abilities to protect the docks and lakefront developments - including the Milwaukee Art Museum and Summerfest property.

Hopefully, federal stimulus-package money will be available for some needed infrastructure improvements, including better dock space, Reinalt said.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel


Great Lakes Coast Guard units assist in Red River flooding rescue efforts

3/30 - Cleveland, Ohio - A Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City, Mich. helicopter crew rescued five adults and a 14-month-old child from their home in Abercrombie, N.D., Wednesday, at approximately 1:30 p.m. The HH-65 Dolphin crew successfully hoisted the residents, who were trapped in their home by the Midwest flood waters, and transported them to a local airport. No injuries were reported.

Units from all over the country have traveled to North Dakota to assist in the Red River Flooding rescue efforts. Ninth District units include Air Station Traverse City , Coast Guard Station Sault Ste. Marie, Small Boat Station Marblehead, Ohio, and Coast Guard Station St. Clair Shores.



St. Lawrence Seaway turns 50

3/30 - Montreal, Que. - Its golden days of shipping vast loads of grain eastward and of steamers brimming with iron ore and steel westward to booming steel mills and car factories may be gone, but the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp., which celebrates its 50th anniversary next month, has not sunk into irrelevance. But it does have to reinvent itself, Seaway officials concede.

There is no disputing the Seaway’s impact on economic development of places like Hamilton, Ont., where a constant procession of bulk ships bearing iron ore stoked its steel mills for decades, or Duluth, Minn., which could ship minerals and grain to points east.

But world events and industry trends seem to be ganging up on the maritime lane; the shift of world trade patterns away from Europe and toward Asia; the bottom falling out of world trade in the last half-year; and ship operators increasingly eyeing mega-container ships that are too large for passage on the Seaway.

For 20 years after it opened bulk shipping to large and medium-size cities bordering vast lakes in Canada and the U.S., it looked like traffic on the Seaway would be such a hit that it would soon reach full capacity.

Freight and revenues from tolls shot up almost uninterruptedly, from about 30 million tonnes of cargo in 1960 and $9 million respectively to roughly 74 million tonnes and about $46 million in 1980.

But a most unlikely event at the other end of the world put a stop to that growth nearly overnight. When the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979, the U.S. retaliated with an embargo on 17 million tonnes of anticipated grain shipments to the U.S.S.R. By the mid-’80s, transiting freight on the Seaway dropped to under 50 million tonnes annually, largely because of that embargo. It has never really recovered, swooning and recouping ground in fits and starts since then, bottoming out in 1992-93 at 40 million tonnes. In 2007, it was about 42 million tonnes. The numbers for the current fiscal year, which ends on Tuesday, won’t be known for some time. But the recession is such, said Seaway president and chief executive officer Richard Corfe, that “we’re kind of hoping we can hold damage down to an 8 or 9 per cent drop in 2009.”

On the bright side, however, toll revenues for the corporation, which became a not-for-profit corporation in 1998 but whose assets are still owned by the federal government, have followed an inverse pattern, climbing more or less steadily over a half century to roughly $75 million. That covers the Seaway’s $65-million a year operating costs in Canada, but revenues here or in the U.S. won’t nearly cover the costs of major upgrade programs under way on both sides of the Seaway.

“We’ve struggled in the last 20 years, no question,” said Corfe candidly. “The world has changed dramatically since 1980, and we’ve had to ask ourselves how to remain relevant.”

A study last year co-sponsored by Transport Canada and the U.S. Department of Transport found that at the Seaway’s current 40 million tonnes, it would cost shippers an additional $1.2 billion annually if they switched to rail or truck – and would cost the environment vast amounts of additional greenhouse gases.

The Seaway will eventually return to growth, Corfe said, especially when environmental considerations are taken into account more seriously. “As we get back into the full economy, clients will have to balance their costs with the greening of the supply chain.” And another path toward that goal might be through more agreements with truck firms and railways, he added.

His U.S. counterpart, Collister (Terry) Johnson, president of the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corp., said that “we’re primarily a channel for commodities, so we don’t create demand, we meet it.”

Strangely enough, demand these days, he said, was for wind turbines being built in the Midwest.

It doesn’t nearly compensate the drop in iron ore or grain, but wind-farm equipment and parts too large for trucks or trains, much of it from Germany, has been a big item for ships plying the lakes, Johnson noted.

“There’s been a 1,000-per-cent increase in wind energy parts going to the wind energy capitals of the U.S. midwest – Minnesota, North and South Dakota and Nebraska.”

“But clearly, we’re primarily in commodities. So how do we grow the Seaway in Canada and the U.S.?”

Containers, he said, pointing to a proposal to build the Melford Terminal in Nova Scotia that would be ice free year round and have a depth of 70 feet, capable of accommodating the largest mega-container ships that will soon be the norm on the high seas. He mysteriously declined to expand on the impact that could have on the Seaway, except to say that “we think there will be a role for waterborne boxes (containers) going into the Great Lakes. We have ideas.” Such as? “Stay tuned.”

For Michael Broad, president of the Shipping Federation of Canada, the “big advantages of economies of scale and green benefits will remain. One ship equals 1,000 trucks or so (in greenhouse gas emissions).” Truckers, though, reply that they can deliver door to door – unlike both rivals, trains and ships – while railways say they’re faster.

“Railways do a very good job when they do a very good job,” replied Corfe in turn. “But the most reliable, dependable and sure way to get your merchandise delivered to Chicago on Tuesday at 3 p.m. is via the Seaway.” He agreed with Johnson that the Seaway must make an all-out effort to win container market share, and hopes to balance bulk and container traffic streams from the current lopsided 95-5 per cent split to 75-25.

Before embarking on grandiose plans for expansion, said Johnson, who took over in 2006, the U.S. side has to revamp completely its Massena locks, “which people here have done a marvelous job of keeping together with chewing gum and baling wire. There hadn’t been an ARP (asset renewal plan) since it was built.”

So when he finally received approval from Congress for the first $17.5 million U.S. of a $165-million U.S. overhaul project, his staff gave him a present: Chewing gum and baling wire. Montreal Gazette


Port Reports - March 30

Chicago, Ill. - Tom Nicolai
Sunday afternoon Algomarine was upbound at Chicago. This is her first trip of the season, having loaded salt in Windsor.

Sarnia, Ont. - Gordy Garris
The tug Joyce L. VanEnkevort & barge Great Lakes Trader were the only downbound traffic Sunday at Port Huron. They passed under the Blue Water Bridges at 1:30pm headed for Toledo, Ohio with taconite from Marquette. The only upbound traffic Sunday was the Canadian Olympic who met the VanEnkevort and the Trader just past Stag Island. The upbound Olympic stopped at Imperial Oil at 4:00pm for fuel. At 5:30pm the Olympic departed Imperial Oil proceeding on to Goderich, Ontario to load salt.

Also on Sunday the Rt. Hon. Paul J. Martin appeared to be getting ready to sail from Winter Lay-up in Sarnia. The anchors are up, covers are off all equipment, the boards are off the windows of the pilothouse, and members of the crew were busy around the ship. The Rt. Hon. Paul J. Martin could depart lay-up in the North Slip as early as tomorrow morning. Work continues on the Algoway at the Sydney E. Smith dock as most of the Algoway's hatch covers lay alongside the ship on the dock and the cables to the boom aren't attached. The rest of the lay-up fleet in Sarnia consists of the Algowood and Peter R. Cresswell rafted together in the North Slip, the Saginaw at the Cargill dock, the Manitowoc rafted to the Manistee also at the Cargill Dock and the Mississagi is at the Government dock.

Toronto – Mark Leitch
English River departed at 4:30 Sunday afternoon in ballast for Bath, Ont., to load cement.



Time to plan for Badger Boatnerd Gathering

3/30 - It may still be cool outside, but spring and summer are on the way and with them, the annual Boatnerd Gatherings.

The first is the S/S Badger Boatnerd Gathering Cruise on Saturday, May 30. The Boatnerd Badger Gathering is a round-trip crossing of Lake Michigan from Ludington, Michigan, to Manitowoc, Wisconsin, aboard the Lake Michigan Carferry S/S Badger, the only coal-fired steamer left on the Great Lakes. There is an optional night before stay aboard the boat with possible tours of the engine room and pilothouse.

After making the trip across Lake Michigan, passengers can visit the Wisconsin Maritime Museum in Manitowoc and see the operating restored forward engine from the legendary railroad ferry Chief Wawatam and the World War II submarine Cobia, OR go on the optional Wisconsin Shoreline Cruise aboard the Badger. Lee Murdock will be on board to offer entertainment both ways across the lake.

See the Boatnerd Gathering Page for complete details and sign up form. Reservations must be received no later than May 9. Click here for more information


Updates - March 30

Weekly Website Updates

News Photo Gallery

Public 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.


Tug / barge combo first downbound at Soo Locks

3/29 - Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. – The first downbound transit of the season at the Soo Locks was the tug Joyce L Van Enkevort and her barge, Great Lakes Trader, which arrived downbound Saturday from Marquette with ore for Toledo. This is the first time in recent memory that a vessel did not pass downbound on opening day of the locks. Late Saturday night the cement carrier Alpena was upbound in the lower St. Marys River with cement from her namesake port for Superior, Wisc.

The Algosar and Ojibway were expected downbound from Thunder Bay on Sunday.

Jerry Masson and Ian Wellesley


River to be dredged next week at St. Joseph

3/29 - St. Joseph, Mich. – Ships will soon be able to return to the Saint Joseph Harbor in Michigan.

On Friday, Congressman Fred Upton announced work to dredge the St. Joseph River will get underway Monday or Tuesday. It's a project that's expected to take a few weeks. Currently, water levels in the channel are five and a half feet deep, which is not a safe level for a ship to enter the harbor. Upton says it's important to get the dredging done early so it won't affect the Great Lakes shipping season.

"It is the most effective way to transport goods almost known to man," said Upton. "You can take one ton of cargo more than 600 miles per gallon of fuel." $600,000 has been approved for the project.



Port Reports - March 29

Alpena, Mich. – Ben McClain
The Alpena arrived in port Saturday morning and tied up under the silos at Lafarge. It took on cement and departed by early afternoon, heading for Superior, Wisc. The tug Samuel de Champlain and barge Innovation is delivering product to Detroit and Cleveland.

Goderich, Ont. - Dale Baechler
Canadian Olympic returned for her sixth load of the season, being the only one so far loading at Sifto Salt. She was in loading early Saturday morning.

Saginaw, Mich. – Todd Shorkey
The tug Gregory J. Busch and her barge, STC 2004, got underway Friday night, heading upriver from the Burroughs dock in Zilwaukee, Mich., to the Busch Marine dock in Carrollton. The pair had spent the winter at Burroughs.

South Chicago, Ill. - Steve B.
The Atlantic Huron arrived Saturday at the Morton Salt dock at 100th Street on the Calumet River at 12:30 .m. She was assisted downriver by the "G" tugs Massachusetts on the bow and Colorado on the stern.

Halifax, NS. - Mac Mackay
Atlantic Erie was due to leave drydock Saturday evening. She was to move to pier 25-26 for further work before leaving port. Meanwhile Maria Desgagnes arrived and tied up at pier 9A for long-term layup. She will only have a skeleton crew on board, and no one was sure how long the layup will last. Algocanada is alongside pier 9B for repairs.


Updates - March 29

News Photo Gallery

Public 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.


First downbound ship at Soo still up for grabs

3/28 - Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. – Algosar, Ojibway, J.W. Shelley and Biscayne Bay arrived at Thunder Bay Friday, and Great Lakes Trader remained at Marquette. The title for first downbound transit through the Soo Locks may be a few days away and will likely go to the Great Lakes Trader.

The locks opened on March 25 with the upbound passage of the Algosar. The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Neah Bay has joined the Mackinaw, Katmai Bay and Mobile Bay in the river system.

In 2008 there were 8,461 passages through the Soo Locks, carrying 80.6 million tons of cargo – mainly iron ore, coal, stone and other bulk products.

Jerry Masson and Ian Wellesley


Marquette opens for the season

3/28 - Marquette, Mich. – Friday morning the tug Joyce L. VanEnkevort and barge Great Lakes Trader opened Marquette's Upper Harbor for the 2009-2010 shipping season and loaded taconite. Loading appeared to be delayed by frozen doors on the ore dock and she remained in port Friday night. The Trader was expected back on March 31 to pick up another load of ore. Also due in late March 31 is the James R. Barker with a load of coal from Superior, Wisc.

Rod Burdick and Art Pickering


Bill introduced for new Great Lakes icebreaker

3/28 - Duluth, Minn. – Rep. Jim Oberstar introduced a bill Thursday in the U.S. House calling for construction of a new Great Lakes icebreaker. The $153 million authorized by the bill would pay for construction of a sister ship to the Mackinaw, which began work in 2006.

The Northland congressman said another icebreaker, which also could be used as a buoy tender, is critical to keep Great Lakes ships moving early in the season. That shipping traffic supports the Minnesota taconite industry and other jobs in the region, he noted.

One icebreaker is not enough, Oberstar said, and standard buoy tenders such as the Alder stationed in Duluth often can’t handle thicker ice.

Duluth News Tribune


Pelee Island ferry service begins from Kingsville

3/28 - Kingsville, Ont. – Ferry service to and from Pelee Island has resumed, with the Pelee Islander departing the mainland Friday morning. Due to renovations taking place at the Leamington terminal, the ferry service will run from Kingsville the whole season rather than adding its usual start date for Kingsville of Aug 1. Last season Kingsville did not get the ferry service at all because of delays with the renovations. McNally Marine is renovating Kingsville, Leamington and Pelee Island docks. Pelee Islander will be the only of the two ferries running until May 1, when the Jiimaan comes out and begins making daily trips across Lake Erie to Pelee Island, and the Pelee Islander begins its runs to Sandusky, Ohio.

Erich Zuschlag


Extent of ice cover bars removal of boom by April 1

3/28 - Buffalo, N.Y. – It may feel like spring, but it’s not spring-like enough to get rid of the Lake Erie-Niagara River ice boom.

The International Joint Commission announced Wednesday that because of the extent of the ice cover on eastern Lake Erie, the ice boom will stay in place beyond April 1. An aerial survey Wednesday showed ice covering 44 percent of the lake, representing 870 square miles of ice. Regulations call for the ice boom to be removed by April 1 unless there is more than 250 square miles of ice on the lake.


Lake Superior outflow

3/28 - This past month the water supplies to the Lakes Superior and Michigan-Huron basins were slightly below their long-term-averages.

Lake Superior is currently 5 inches below chart datum level and about 6 inches below its long-term average beginning-of-April level, but is 5 inches above the level recorded a year ago. The level is expected to rise in April.

The level of Lakes Michigan-Huron rose by 2 inches in March, which is the average rise. Lakes Michigan-Huron are now about 9 inches below long-term average beginning-of-April level and 12 inches higher than it was a year ago. Currently Lakes Michigan-Huron are 4 inches above chart datum level and is expected to rise in April.

The International Lake Superior Board of Control has set the Lake Superior outflow to 1,600 cubic meters per second (m3/s) for the month of April. This outflow is an increase from the March outflow, which was 1,560 m3/s . The April outflow will be released through the three hydropower plants and passing most of the remaining flow through the control structure at the head of the St. Marys Rapids.


Maximum allowable drafts – Montreal Lake Ontario section

3/28 - When the seaway opens next week, the maximum allowable draft in the Montreal to Lake Ontario section will be 26' 06", subject to favorable water elevations. This increase applies to all vessels. In addition, there will be zero tolerance for ship's draft in excess of 26' 6". Mariners are reminded that for ships loaded to a draft greater than 26' 3", speeds will be monitored carefully between St. Lambert Lock and St. Nicolas Island.

St. Lawrence Seaway


Port Reports - March 28

Thunder Bay, Ont. - Ian Wellesley
USCG Biscayne Bay entered the bay at noon, with Algosar and Ojibway following. The Coast Guard ship broke tracks for the arriving vessels. Ojibway stopped in the bay while the Biscayne Bay worked breaking a track into Petro-Canada for the Algosar, which docked around 7 p.m. The Coast Guard ship then worked to get the Ojibway into Viterra Terminal C. J.W. Shelley arrived in the bay about 9 p.m. All vessels were on their first trips of the season above the locks; Algosar and Ojibway left Sarnia while the J.W. Shelley departed lay-up in Windsor. Other lakers wintering in port include Algonorth, Algorail, Algolake and Canadian Enterprise at Lake Head Marine and CSL Niagara at Keefer Terminal.

Sarnia, Ont. – Dan Tucker
Cuyahoga departed her winter lay-up dock Friday and sailed down river to load at Ojibway Salt in Windsor.


Updates - March 28

News Photo Gallery

Public 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.


Traffic picks up slowly at Soo Locks

3/27 - Algosar got underway upbound after spending the night at the locks about 7:45 a.m. Thursday morning. She followed the Biscayne Bay through Whitefish Bay and onto Lake Superior. Algosar was the first vessel through the locks and was headed to Thunder Bay, Ont.

The tug Joyce L. Van Enkevort and barge Great Lakes Trader arrived shortly after 9 a.m. and locked upbound for Marquette. The tug and barge reached Marquette about 10:30 p.m. and are the first visitors for Marquette’s 2009/2010 season, loading ore for Toledo. Following closely behind at the locks was Ojibway. She cleared the locks upbound about 11:30 a.m. and was headed to Thunder Bay to load grain.

J.W. Shelley reached the Detour about 5:30 p.m. and locked through about 11 p.m. She was also headed to Thunder Bay to load grain. The USCG Biscayne Bay arrived at Thunder Bay late Thursday night.

In the lower St. Marys River, the Mackinaw was working to clear ice in the downbound channel between the area above the Rock Cut and Mud Lake. She worked through the afternoon and then returned to the Soo.


Lakes’ oldest vessel goes in for 5-year inspection

3/27 -  Thursday about 3 p.m., the St. Marys Challenger entered the Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal under town of the tug John M. Selvick on the bow and the Jimmy L. on the stern heading for Bay Shipbuilding. The tow was historic, as the Challenger is the oldest operating laker in service and the tug John M. Selvick (built in 1898) is one of the oldest operating tugs on the lakes. They arrived at the shipyard around 4 p.m. tied up to wait for the dry dock to clear after the American Century comes out and the blocks are reset this weekend.

The survey is good news for boatwatchers as it means the 1906-built steamer will likely see service for several more years to come.

Wendell Wilke and Jeff Birch


Ceremonies kick off Welland Canal season Tuesday

3/27 - As the sun rises over the Welland Canal next Tuesday, captains will be making way to the bridges of their ships for another Seaway season. In honor of the canal opening and the Seaway's 50th anniversary, a free hot breakfast will be served at 8:15 a. m. at the tourism information center (formerly Humberstone Hall) on Main Street. Port Colborne's indoor top hat ceremony is at 9 a. m.

Delegates will then make their way to Lock 8 for a ceremony aboard a ship. Mayor Vance Badawey said it's only natural to celebrate the start of another shipping season. "It enables us to grow and enables those around Niagara to grow," he said of the canal. "One of the things we're trying to do now is to get more tangibles as an economic gateway to obtain marketing and recognition across the world."

He said government must understand these tangibles, in hopes of creating a free trade zone to attract more economic development and to take advantage of the fact Niagara is located within 48% of North America's population. He said the top hat ceremony recognizes the beginning of the shipping season and kicks off Port's economic diversity while recognizing the canal's history and heritage.

The Welland Tribune


St. Lawrence Seaway boss predicts changes as water route turns 50

3/27 - Montreal, Q.C. – Diversification of cargo and more container traffic are among the things St. Lawrence Seaway president Richard Corfe sees in the international waterway's future as it celebrates its 50th birthday. Cargo navigating the 3,700-kilometre seaway is now 90 per cent bulk - commodities such as grain and iron ore - and 10 per cent general, which includes finished products such as iron and steel from overseas.

But Corfe expects those numbers to shift to 75 per cent bulk and 25 per cent general in the next few years. "I see a changing use of the seaway but I see it being very useful and very valuable," he said in a telephone interview.

The seaway, which traverses parts of Canada and the United States, will kick off anniversary celebrations on March 31 when it opens for the 2009 season. Corfe said while it's tricky making predictions in the current recession, he's confident the economy will start turning around in 12 to 18 months. Cargo diversification has already started, he said, pointing to the shipping of windmill parts that end up in alternative energy installations. The rise in container traffic will also become more apparent as producing countries eventually ramp up to meet the needs of consuming nations like Canada and the United States, he said. Corfe said the seaway was doing well until around last Thanksgiving when the bottom fell out of the economy.

Even though traffic dropped by about five per cent from 2007 to 2008, Corfe said ships still moved about 40 million tonnes of cargo.

The water system is jointly administered by the U.S. government's Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corp. and the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp., a Canadian Crown entity. The seaway provides access to and from the heart of North America through a series of 15 locks. The locks are each 233.5 metres long, 24.4 metres wide and 9.1 metres deep. Each one fills with about 91 million metres of water in seven to 10 minutes. It takes 45 minutes for a boat to pass through.

The famous waterway was officially opened on June 26, 1959, with ceremonies presided over by then-U.S. president Dwight Eisenhower and Queen Elizabeth, who sailed through the St-Lambert and Cote-Ste-Catherine locks on the Royal Yacht Britannia. Ceremonies were held the next day in Massena, N.Y., with the Queen and then-vice-president Richard Nixon. The United States originally was reluctant to join the project but signed on in 1954 when Canada said it would go it alone.

John Chalmers has seen a lot of the changes at the seaway. The senior operations co-ordinator for the Welland Canal has worked there for 31 years, almost as many as his father before him. "When I first started it was very exciting," recalled Chalmers, whose first job was helping to tie ships up at the docks. "We were dealing with ships and people from all over the world. It was 1978. The canal was extremely busy, it was pretty much at capacity at the time."

Things then were still being done much as they had been when the Welland Canal opened in 1932 and technology mostly consisted of push buttons and hand levers.The old operations centre had a room-sized computer and traffic was tracked using wooden ship models moving along a mock-up of the seaway. "The most technology we had was a few cameras," Chalmers said. "Back in those days we used Teletype to pass messages along - we still had typewriters."

But traffic was heavy and some days there could be as many as 30 ships in the canal and another 70 waiting to enter. "We were constantly busy processing ships on the locks," he said. "There wasn't many, if any, moments to catch your breath."

The 1980s, and changing traffic patterns, brought in innovations and more computers. The seaway mock-up that was used to follow ship movement gave way to real-time satellite tracking and computerized traffic control. When the seaway opens next week, it will boast the completion of a major renovation of the Welland Canal. "We've spent $60 million on refurbishing all the mechanical equipment," Corfe said. He said all the mechanical rope-operated drum equipment has been switched over to hydraulic equipment to open the locks. Valves are now used to move the water in and out.

Other innovations taking the seaway into the next 50 years are laser detection for vessels entering the locks, a sophisticated 3D navigation charting system and global positioning systems to alert the operations centre to a vessel's exact location. Both Corfe and Chalmers noted the seaway has adapted to changing times not only through technology but also in retraining and reassigning workers to new jobs as needed. That's helped avoid job cuts, Chalmers said.

"In light of all the technological changes that have taken place, you would expect to see a lot of downsizing," he said. "They've managed to keep us employed and to develop us to get the skills to meet the new challenges." That's one of the reasons Chalmers says he loves his job. "It's interesting, exciting, challenging - a lot of neat stuff happens here."

Canadian Press


Toledo Port Authority to receive more than $21 million in federal stimulus funds

3/27 - Toledo, Ohio  – Governor Ted Strickland announced Thursday that the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority will be the recipient of funding from American Recovery and Reinvestment Act resources. Two of the four projects awarded in Lucas County were submitted by the Port Authority and are part of 149 priority transportation projects to be funded in Ohio.

“We are incredibly pleased to be able to move the timeline on these projects up significantly due to this funding,” says Paul Toth, Interim President of the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority. “These projects will modernize the Port of Toledo and we are particularly enthused because this action directly creates jobs.”

The following projects were submitted by the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority and have received funding:

Toledo Shipyard Modernization - $15M
Ironhead Marine Inc. operates the Toledo Shipyard through a long-term lease agreement with the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority. Toledo Shipyard Modernization requires that the following projects be implemented to expand and prepare the facility for future business:
To expand the High Bay Building by adding 300 feet to accommodate barge conversion projects, wind tower construction projects, and other large scale fabrication projects: $2M
To acquire essential equipment for barge construction and wind component construction projects including a plate roll, plate press machines and a plasma cutting table: $3M
To repair or replace the pump house, sea wall, and make gate improvements for additional shipbuilding capacity: $10M

These improvements would result in approximately 100 jobs over the next several years. Ironhead has a potential project for manufacturing wind towers and there will likely be many similar alternative energy related fabrication opportunities in the near future. As short sea shipping becomes a reality on the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway System there will also be opportunities to construct container barges or refit older vessels for container movements in addition to expanded vessel and barge maintenance, inspection, and repair work.

Crane and Reach Stacker Acquisition - $6.8M
Midwest Terminals operates the Port of Toledo’s general cargo facility through a long-term lease agreement with the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority. While the existing cargo cranes at the Port of Toledo have been sufficient for handling traditional bulk and break bulk cargo since the 1950s, they are aging and will need to be replaced or enhanced by the addition of new equipment suited for multiple purposes.

A mobile harbor crane, which will be purchased, is twice as productive as the current cranes in the seaport and have the ability to move 20-35 containers per hour and up to forty swings per hour for bulk material handling. Mobile harbor cranes of this caliber are utilized at coastal ports but are rare at major ports on the Great Lakes and this will be one of the first in a U.S. Great Lakes Port.

Short sea shippers operating feeder services will require faster loading and unloading rates than currently offered to stay profitable, on schedule and competitive. A new high-speed crane and reach stacker at the Port of Toledo will create jobs via the additional business that the port would be able to handle. Skilled longshoremen would be required to operate the equipment along with additional labor for other associated operations. The new equipment will significantly contribute to the improvement and modernization of Americas National Transportation System in the Great Lakes Region.


Back-to-back snowy winters help replenish Great Lakes

3/27 - Two extraordinarily snowy winters in a row have contributed to rebounding water levels in the Great Lakes basin, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The 2007-2008 winter had 87.4 inches of snow, the third-highest in Green Bay history, according to the National Weather Service in Ashwaubenon. This season has produced 86.2 inches of snow so far, good for fourth place in the record books. That, along with good ice-cover to prevent evaporation and decent rainfall in other times of the year, have helped the lakes recover from some of the near-record lows they were experiencing in recent years.

Water levels in the Lake Michigan-Lake Huron basin were up 13 inches over this time last year, according to the Corps' most recent report released this month. Lake Superior's level was 5 inches above last year's. St. Clair, Erie and Ontario also were above last year's levels. Levels after the winter of 2007-2008 also were higher than they'd been from the previous year.

However, Michigan-Huron remained about 8 inches below its long-term March average, and Superior was 6 inches below its long-term average.

More water typically would be good news for the boating and shipping industries, but that good news could be at least partly undone by the current economic crisis. Deeper water means Great Lakes freighters will be able to operate more economically, because they'll be able to carry heavier loads, said Chuck Larscheid, Brown County Port and Solid Waste director. Generally, each extra inch of water means a ship can transport an extra 100 tons of cargo into the shipping channels, and that brings down the cost per unit.

However, a softening of the economy has reduced production, which means manufacturers aren't demanding the same levels of raw materials they needed when the economy was better, Larscheid said. "The economy is going to hit us hard," he said. "We just aren't seeing the activity to bring in all the goods."

Green Bay Press-Gazette


Marine sanctuary considered for Manitowoc and Two Rivers area

3/27 - Manitowoc, Wisc. - The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) met with local fishing officials recently to discuss the possibility of opening a marine sanctuary in the Manitowoc and Two Rivers area. The sanctuary would be just the 14th of its kind in the United States and only the second in the Great Lakes area, with the other being on Lake Huron in Thunder Bay, Mich.

"They're looking at the area just north of Two Rivers," said Tom Kocourek, president of the Northeastern Wisconsin Great Lakes Sports Fishermen. "There is a 875 square-mile area on Lake Michigan that they are looking at." Kocourek said the Wisconsin Historical Society has also become involved and the hope is that it would work with NOAA to get the marine sanctuary in place.

"The main purpose would be to preserve shipwrecks," Kocourek said. "Shipwrecks are better preserved in fresh water than they are in salt water and there are 14 known in the area and we believe there are more yet to be discovered." Ellen Brody, coordinator of the Thunder Bay sanctuary, was present at last week's meeting and was there to assuage any fears locals may have about how a sanctuary would affect the sports or commercial fishermen. Kocourek said it was his understanding that Brody would be in charge of the sanctuary if one would open here.

"We were told that it would in no way impact fishermen," Kocourek said. "They said there were similar concerns when they opened the sanctuary in Thunder Bay and it hasn't been a problem." Kocourek said one of the goals of the sanctuary would be to work with the local fishermen so they don't disrupt the shipwrecks. "They want to mark the wrecks with lighted buoys," Kocourek said. "That would prevent the fishermen from hitting the wrecks when they drag their nets."

Kocourek said NOAA was working with the Wisconsin Historical Society to get the sanctuary started, but emphasized that this is just in the beginning stages and that it could be quite some time before such a sanctuary is set up. "It took 20 years to get the one in place in Thunder Bay," Kocourek said. "We don't think this one would take as long since there is a blueprint in place. It all depends on what the people on the advisory committee think."

Manitowoc Herald Times


Port Reports - March 27

Alpena, Mich. - Ben & Chanda McClain
On Thursday afternoon the Alpena returned for another load of cement at Lafarge; her next port will be Whitefish, Ont. The barge Innovation and tug Samuel de Champlain is expected in port on Friday.

Goderich, Ont. - Dale Baechler
Canadian Olympic was able to enter the harbor early Thursday morning after waiting outside at anchor for a full day due to high southeast winds. She loaded at Sifto Salt.


Updates - March 27

News Photo Gallery

Public 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.


Algosar headed for Thunder Bay after opening locks

3/26 - Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. – The Soo Locks opened for the season Wednesday with the upbound passage of the Algosar around 3:30 p.m. She was expected to remain at the locks until daylight Thursday morning with her USCG escort Biscayne Bay, before continuing her trip to Thunder Bay, Ont. Ojibway, tug Joyce L VanEnkevort and barge Great Lakes Trader and J.W. Shelley are expected upbound Thursday.

Algosar arrived upbound at Detour about 10 p.m. Tuesday and transited up river to the area of Mud Lake where the Katmai Bay was stopped for the night. She waited for first light before transiting up river Wednesday. Meanwhile, the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Mackinaw departed the Soo Wednesday morning and locked through downbound into the lower river to break ice, passing through the Rock Cut. The cutter Biscayne Bay was in the upper river to keep the channel open into Whitefish Bay. The MacArthur Lock is receiving minor repairs and updates, but will be ready for ships in about one month.

Reported by Jerry Masson


Icebreakers in Seaway headed for lakes

3/26 - Montreal, Q.C. – The Pierre Radisson stopped for the night at the lower level of St Lambert lock, and the Maine-based USCG cutter Thunder Bay is in Montreal Harbor. A change of orders has sent the CCGS Martha L. Black to Newfoundland and Labrador. Reported by Ron Beaupre


Tim S. Dool departs Montreal

3/26 - Montreal, Q.C. – Algoma Central’s Tim S. Dool departed shed 3 in Montreal at 7 a.m. Wednesday after Groupe Ocean tugs Intrepide and Jupiter put lines on the Sauniere and the rafted Algoisle. The tugs pulled the two laid-up vessels away together, releasing the Tim S Dool from her berth. The Dool is now heading to Havre St Pierre, Quebec.

Reported by Kent Malo


Welland Top Hat ceremony takes place Tuesday at 11 a.m.

3/26 - St. Catharines, Ont. – The annual Top Hat Ceremony takes place Tuesday starting at 11 a.m. at the second floor of the Welland Canals Centre in St. Catharines, Ont. It marks the start of the 2009 navigation season and celebrates the 180th anniversary of the Welland Canal and the 50th anniversary of the St. Lawrence Seaway. The public is invited to the event at Lock 3 on the Welland Canals Parkway. It will include speeches from local politicians and Seaway officials. The Top Hat Ceremony also recognizes the first ship to travel through the Welland Canal this season. St. Catharines Standard


Lafarge announces layoffs at its Alpena cement plant

3/26 - Alpena, Mich. – Lafarge will be laying off over 130 employees in the near future. The company informed employees of the cuts Tuesday morning, and cited the economic climate for the reduction in staffing.

Much of the plant’s output is carried to ports around the lake the lakes by freighters. "Due to the current market conditions and as part of Lafarge's ongoing focus to improve efficiencies, the Lafarge Alpena cement plant has implemented a temporary shutdown of its kiln operations resulting in a temporary reduction in its workforce," the company stated in a press release. The release also says the shutdown is expected to last 45 days and the company is exploring ways to assist the laid-off employees.

The company would not release any additional information because there still were some employees that hadn't been informed of the layoffs as of Tuesday evening. This past summer Lafarge shut down one of its five kilns and in August laid off about 25 skilled and general labor contracted employees. It was the first time in 20 years a kiln had been closed.

The plant also recently pulled its sponsorship of the Alpena Riverfest. The company's contribution of about $8,000 per year accounted for 40 percent of the event's budget. After losing that funding organizers decided not to hold the festival in 2009.

Shirey said he's cautiously optimistic that the area could see some impact from the economic stimulus package. "It's kind of a wait and see process from my standpoint," he said.

Layoffs haven't been unique to Lafarge's Alpena plant. In January, the Times Union reported the company was laying off 37 employees working in the Ravena, N.Y., quarry and factory. The company also laid off 47 employees in its Woodstock, Ontario, plant in August, according to the Woodstock Sentinel Review. The Kingston Whig Standard reported in February that Lafarge had laid off 50 full-time union workers for four to eight weeks.

The Alpena News


Port Reports - March 26

Marquette, Mich. – Art Pickering
The first vessel to load ore is expected on Friday when the barge Great Lakes Trader and tug Joyce L. VanEnkevort arrive to load ore for Toledo. The only other vessel scheduled into Marquette is the James R. Barker, which should arrive late Tuesday or early Wednesday next week to unload coal for Wisconsin Electric.

Sarnia, Ont. – Chris Roberts
Ojibway departed Sarnia at 9 a.m. Tuesday, headed upbound to load in Thunder Bay. Atlantic Huron departed about 2 a.m. and headed downbound.

Detroit, Mich. – Angie Williams
The Atlantic Huron was the first bulker for the start of the 2009-2010 shipping season for the Port of Windsor, Ont. She tied up at the Ojibway salt dock about 10 a.m. Algomarine arrived at the Ojibway Anchorage at 3:06 p.m. to wait for the Atlantic Huron to finish loading. J.W. Shelley departed her winter lay-up dock at Morterm in Windsor Wednesday evening, sailing upbound for Thunder Bay.

Chicago, Ill. –Tom Nicolai
St Marys Challenger departed under tow of the tug John M. Selvick Wednesday morning. She is being towed to Sturgeon Bay for her five-year survey.

Rochester, N.Y. – Tom
The Stephan B. Roman was unloading her first load of the season in Rochester.


Updates - March 26

News Photo Gallery

Public 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.


Algosar will open Soo Locks Wednesday

3/25 - Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.  1 p.m. update - The Katmai Bay got underway about 8 a.m. and was breaking out both the upbound and downbound channels around Neebish Island. The Algosar remained stopped at the lower end of Mud Lake. About 12:45 p.m. the Algosar got underway following the Katmai Bay upbound for the Soo.

Original Report:  Algosar arrived upbound at Detour about 10 p.m. Tuesday and transited up river to the area of Mud Lake where the Katmai Bay was stopped for the night. She was expected to wait for first light before transiting up river Wednesday to open the Soo Locks for the 2009 season.

Meanwhile, the Coast Guard is expected to break out the waters between St. Ignace and Mackinac Island on Friday. This area is left untouched throughout the winter so residents on Mackinac Island can cross the ice on snowmobile.

USCG, Jerry Masson


Twin Ports season set to begin with coal

3/25 - Duluth, Minn. – Midwest Energy Terminal in Superior is scheduled to begin its season March 30 by loading the James R. Barker, which wintered at the dock. The Barker will load for Presque Isle near Marquette. It will be followed March 31 by Walter J. McCarthy Jr. loading for St. Clair. After that, the docks schedules calls for loading one or two boats just about every day through April.

As in years past, American Steamship’s Walter J. McCarthy and Indiana Harbor will be regular callers at the dock while Interlake will have the Barker and Paul R. Tregurtha making regular runs from the dock, at least for April.

The Twin Ports first arriving vessel might be Canadian Olympic, which is due into Midwest Energy Terminal on April 1 to load for Nanticoke. Mild temperatures, rain, sun and icebreaking have degraded ice in the harbor. The lake was clear of ice until the big spring storm brought east winds that pushed a lot of ice from down the lake into the western tip of the lake. But west winds are predicted for later this week, which should push some of that ice back into open water.

Al Miller


Steel shipments and output continue to slide

3/25 - Dismal economic indicators have led customers to buy only as much metal as needed, keeping steel shipments down and output low.

Steel shipments from the United States and Canada have decreased for two consecutive months as continued economic uncertainty kept customers from buying more than absolutely necessary.

According to the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI), the U.S. shipped 4.576 million tons steel in January — or half the January 2008 total. It was also a decrease of 0.8 percent from December's steel shipment total of 4.613 million tons. The steep deterioration in the world economy has caused users of steel, such as construction and automotive firms, to scale back on orders, the Financial Times reports.

Shipments to automotive customers were down 58.3 percent and shipments to construction fabricators and contractors dropped 59.6 percent for the month against the previous year, AISI continues. Shipments to oil and gas markets were down 20.2 percent in January versus the same month in 2008.

In February, steel shipments from both countries fell by more than 40 percent from 2008 levels, the Metal Service Center Institute reports.

Shipments of U.S. steel products totaled 2.4 million tons last month, down 43.3 percent from February 2008 volumes. At current shipping rates, a month-end inventory of 8.3 million tons equal to a 3.4-month supply.

At the same time, Canada shipped 385,100 tons of steel, sliding 42.1 percent from February 2008. With 1.2 million tons of month-end inventory, it has a 3.1-month supply at current shipping rates.

Unsurprisingly, steel output in the U.S. also fell in February. The U.S. produced 3.8 million tons of steel last month, a decrease of 54.2 percent from February 2008, the World Steel Association says. Comparable declines were seen globally as world steel output fell 22 percent in February.

In the European Union, there were production drops of 31.6 percent in Germany, 35.7 percent in France, 35.7 percent in Spain and 39.9 percent in Italy. Brazilian steel production decreased by 39 percent last month from February 2008 totals, and both Russia and Ukraine saw steel output fall by 32.1 percent and 33.6 percent respectively.

Iran and China were the only two countries who reported positive gains. Iran steel production gained 15.9 percent from February 2008 to 900,000 tons. China produced 40.4 million tons of February's overall world production of 84 million tons. The country reported an increase of 4.9 percent from last year's same-month total.

Not all the steel, however, is being used. In fact, steel and other industrial products exceed domestic and foreign demand. "As of this month, about 30 percent of the nation's aluminum production capacity is idle, as is 20 percent of cement and plate-glass capacity and 70 percent of semiconductor production," according to China's industry ministry (via the Wall Street Journal).

To combat the surplus, the Chinese government invested four trillion yuan (about $585 billion) to boost construction of public works, thereby increasing demand for steel and thus reducing idle capacity. Along with the stimulus package, Beijing announced another plan in January for reducing steel overcapacity.

The plan indicates that "new capacity would be approved only in exchange for the closure of outdated production facilities," a separate Financial Times article says. The Chinese government also added that "within three years, it wanted to see 45 percent of the market in the hands of the top five steelmakers, up from 28.5 percent now."

Elsewhere in Asia, February steel output slid 24.8 percent in South Korea and 44.2 percent in Japan from 2008.

One month on, steel production in the U.S. continues to decline. As of the week ended March 21, U.S. steel output was 2.14 million tons, a separate AISI report notes. That is a 52 percent decrease from the same period last year, but is up 5.3 percent from the week ended March 14, 2009. Year-to-date steel production through March 21 was 11.692 million tons, 52.7 percent less than 2008.

Aluminum shipments last month fared slightly better in Canada, but did worse in the U.S.

Canadian aluminum product shipments were down 26.8 percent in February, shipping merely 10,600 tons. Inventories at the end of February totaled 32,800 tons of aluminum, and at current shipping rates, equal to a 3.1-month supply.

The U.S. shipped 83,200 tons of aluminum in February, 45.9 percent less than same month last year. At current shipping rates, the nation's 347,900 tons of aluminum inventory equal to a 4.2-month supply.

Lakshmi Mittal, chairman of ArcelorMittal, the world's largest steel maker, told the Financial Times last month that the forecasts of world steel demand falling by 10 percent this year — making it the biggest year-on-year decline since 1945 — were "plausible." Still, Mittal said output could start to climb after the first three months of 2009.

"The first quarter of 2009 would probably mark the bottom of the market for the steel industry," Mittal continued. "After this, I can envisage some kind of pick-up in shipments, as customers will find they need to re-order to build up stocks, which have now fallen to very low levels."

ThomasNet Industrial Newsroom


Historic tug Essayons sinks in Duluth harbor

3/25 - Duluth, Minn. – Hobart Finn’s dream of turning an 85-foot tugboat into Duluth’s first floating bed and breakfast may finally be sunk for good. On Monday afternoon, the 101-year-old Essayons began to take on water.

Finn was out of town, but David Nelson, his business partner in a trucking firm, Julie’s Big Trucks, received word the boat appeared to be sitting unusually low in the water. When he arrived on the scene, he found water rising inside the vessel’s hull. Nelson quickly rounded up a few pumps and rushed to the tugboat’s aid along with Brian Rinker, a friend and occasional employee of Finn. Despite their efforts, however, the pumps could not keep pace with the rising water.

At about 3 p.m. Monday the Essayons began to go down. Nelson said the vessel’s descent probably took about 30 seconds. “Water began pouring in through the front portals. The bow tipped down. The boat listed to portside. The bow hit bottom, and then the stern followed,” he said.

The tug now rests in about 20 feet of water, with only its smokestack and part of its cabin still protruding from the harbor. The Essayons sank in the same spot where it had long been moored at a dock behind the Duluth Timber Co. Nelson said he’s not sure how badly compromised the hull of the vessel is or how it was damaged, but he theorized: “That strong northeaster we had and the ice may just have been too much for her.”

Finn bought the boat from Zenith Dredge in 1994, but it was no longer a working vessel. Zenith donated the tug's original steam engine to the Lake Superior Maritime Visitors Center where it remains on display in Duluth. Originally, the vessel was commissioned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which operated it until the 1950s.

The boat drew its name from the French verb essayer, meaning to try.

But try as he may, Finn was unsuccessful in his efforts to transform the Essayons into a bed and breakfast. At times, he seemed close to achieving the dream.

Finn made arrangements with the Duluth Economic Development Authority to lease a mooring spot at Duluth’s Slip No. 2, next to Bayfront Festival Park in 2004, anticipating an imminent opening.

But that summer, the tug fell victim to an attack by vandals who broke into the boat and caused about $10,000 in damage. It was the second time the Essayons had been attacked. In 1997, the tug sustained $10,000 to $15,000 in damage at the hands of three 11- to 12-year-old vandals who lit several fires aboard the boat, spray-painted the interior and broke windows.

In 2007, the vessel survived a fire at Finn’s neighboring business — True North Cedar, a manufacturer of cedar shakes and other building materials. At the time, Finn said he still hoped to open the tug as a bed and breakfast, but the fire set back those plans.

“Hobart poured years of work into this boat,” Nelson said as he helped position a boom around the sunken Essayons today. Booms and oil blotter are being used to contain and block the spread of oil or other pollutants from the vessel. Nelson said efforts to raise the boat will need to wait until the water is free of ice.

Pictures of the sunken tug

 Duluth News Tribune


Scientists: Less ice on Great Lakes during winter

3/25 - Cleveland, Ohio - Ice cover on the Great Lakes has declined more than 30 percent since the 1970s, leaving the world’s largest system of freshwater lakes open to evaporation and lower water levels, according to scientists associated with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. They’re concerned about how the milder winter freeze may affect the environment. But they’re also trying to come to terms with a contradiction the same climate factors that might keep lake ice from freezing might make freezing more likely if lake levels drop due to evaporation.

Scientists at the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory in Ann Arbor, Mich., say global climate change can be at odds with regional climate patterns. Accurately measuring ice cover across a lake system that spans 94,000 square miles in two countries is no small task, they say. Their studies show that although the amount of ice cover can vary substantially from year to year, the overall coverage on the world’s largest system of freshwater lakes is diminishing, especially in the deepest, middle portions of Erie, Huron, Michigan, Ontario and Superior.

“The deeper the water, the greater the heat storage from summer, and it freezes later than the shallow areas,” research Ray Assel told the [Cleveland] Plain Dealer. “Now, increase the air temperature and the lake takes in more heat and stores it longer, to the point that many of the midlake areas are freezing over less.” Assel’s records indicate that ice formation at nearshore areas has decreased less than on the deepest parts.

Duluth News Tribune


Port Reports - March 25

Marquette, Mich. - Art Pickering
The first cargo vessel is not scheduled to arrive before March 31st or April 1. The James R. Barker is scheduled to be the first vessel to depart Superior Midwest Energy and Marquette will be the first destination for the Barker. The Barker is scheduled to depart Superior late March 30th or early March 31st arriving in Marquette late the 31st or early on April 1st to unload coal for Wisconsin Electric. In other news, Cliffs Michigan has reported in media that ore shipping out of Marquette will be significantly less than last season. At this point, it is not known when the first vessel is due into Marquette to load ore.

Owen Sound, Ont. - Jim Hoffman and Cameron Graham
The Algomarine departed her winter lay-up berth noon on Tuesday, after nearly three months in lay-up. She had arrived for lay-up just before New Years Day. She was headed downbound for Windsor Ojibway salt to load.

Hamilton, Ont. - Eric Holmes
The McKeil tugs Molly M and Wyatt M arrived off the Burlington Piers at 8 a.m. heading to Heddle Marine to help the barge Lambert's Spirit out of the drydock. When their work is complete they will head back to Toronto.


Man survives 45 minutes in Lake Superior

3/25 - Gary Pederson had worn his fingers raw and bloody on the ice, but he just couldn’t manage to pull himself out of the frigid waters of Lake Superior.

Pederson, 66, had gone through the ice March 16 near Cornucopia when his all-terrain vehicle plunged through a patch of rotten ice. But he’s alive today thanks to his eventual rescue by five other Lake Superior anglers and subsequent medical attention. A retired machinist from Foxboro, Pederson was in the water for 40 to 45 minutes, according to the estimates of other anglers. He was suffering hypothermia, and his body’s core temperature had plummeted to 84 degrees, said Jo Pufahl, assistant head nurse for St. Mary’s LifeFlight, which transported Pederson to St. Mary’s Medical Center in Duluth.

“If you get down to 80, you’re pretty much dead,” Pufahl said. “He was pretty much right there on the border of being almost dead as far as temperature goes.”

Pederson had been fishing with friend Jim Natvik, 24, of the Town of Superior, off the tip of Bark Point near Cornucopia. Pederson had left alone to deliver some lake trout fillets to friends in Cornucopia. He was traveling about 25 mph across the ice when he hit the bad ice and his ATV went down. He found himself floating in the water, surrounded by honeycombed ice. Pederson was wearing a foam-lined Stearns Float Coat, which acts as a personal flotation device and offered him some measure of insulation. Because it was a Monday, few anglers were on the ice. But Mark Utyro, 55, of Solon Springs and his triplet sons, 15, were fishing about 1½ miles away on Bark Bay at midday when son Cody thought he heard someone calling for help.

Utyro and sons Cody, Caleb and Corey quickly hopped on their snowmobiles and drove toward where they thought they had heard the faint voice. They saw Pederson floating in the water. Utyro threw Pederson a ski rope that Utyro had carried for years in case of just such an emergency.

“I told him, ‘We’re gonna get you out of here. It’s not your time to die,’ ” Utyro said. But not just yet. “He was able to grab onto the rope, but there was no way we could pull him out of the water,” Utyro said. Fortune was on Pederson’s side. That day, for reasons Utyro still doesn’t understand, he had towed a friend’s 14-foot aluminum johnboat onto the lake just for safety’s sake. Utyro had never hauled the boat with him before. Utyro pushed the bow of the boat into the open water around Pederson. With the boys on the back of the boat, Utyro tried to pull Pederson into the boat. That didn’t work, either. At that time, Natvik arrived, worried that something must have happened to his partner. Utyro and Natvik, working together in the bow of the boat, were unable to lift Pederson aboard. Finally, they tied one end of the ski rope to the boat and the other to a snowmobile. One of the boys fired up the machine and pulled the boat away from the open water. With Utyro and Natvik clinging to Pederson’s arms, they pulled Pederson to solid ice.

Utyro called 911 on his cell phone from the ice and emergency responders arrived quickly, followed by the LifeFlight helicopter.

At St. Mary’s, Pederson was rewarmed slowly. His fingers were dressed and bandaged. He recovered completely and was released last Wednesday. Pederson said he usually brings along a pair of picks — wooden dowels with sharp metal points but he hadn’t been carrying them much this year. He had tried several methods of getting out of the water, he said, but couldn’t lift himself on the solid ice, which was 20 to 24 inches thick.

“I had a sense of determination,” he said. “I was really fighting to get out.” He doesn’t remember feeling cold, he said. He didn’t panic, and he didn’t call for help until he had been in the water for several minutes, realizing he probably couldn’t get out himself. “When I started calling for help, I thought maybe I might not make it,” he said.

“It’s a true miracle,” said Beverly Pederson, Gary’s wife.

Duluth News Tribune


Captain John's loses bid to lower tax

3/25 - Toronto, Ont. – Captain John's floating restaurant has hit another legal shoal in its efforts to steer clear of high property taxes. A panel of three judges has ruled the vessel moored at the foot of Yonge Street is, for legal purposes, a "structure." And that means it must pay property tax on the same basis as shore-bound buildings.

Restaurant owner John Letnik had appealed his assessment in 2007 as his taxes crept up to about $36,000 double what they were in the 1990s. He had hoped to have his taxes substantially reduced: "Now I'm back to square one," he said in an interview.

Letnik's business is housed in the M.S. Jadran, a 90-metre former cruise ship that has been moored in the same spot for more than three decades. He pays a monthly fee for use of the dock, plus property taxes of more than $36,000 annually. Letnik's case rested on the wording of the Assessment Act, which says "real property" can be assessed for taxes, including "all structures" on the property. Letnik's lawyer, Jeff G. Cowan, argued that a ship is not a structure under the act.

He pointed to a definition accepted by a British court that a structure is something that is "intended to remain permanently on a permanent foundation." Since the Jadran floats without a foundation, it's not a structure, he argued.

Justice Arthur Pattillo disagreed. He said the ship hasn't moved since the mid-1970s. It probably can't move without assistance, he said, and has water, sewer and electricity connections to shore. Although the ship floats on water, he ruled, it still occupies the land on the lake bed and there's no way any other thing could occupy the space. Letnik appealed to Divisional Court but had no better luck.

A panel of three judges agreed on every important point with Pattillo. They said the Jadran is a structure, despite the lack of a foundation, because Letnik intends to keep it moored permanently. The panel also said the ship occupies not just the water, but the lake bed under the water, which is "land" for the purpose of property assessment. The court ordered Letnik's company to pay $7,500 in legal costs to the Municipal Property Assessment Corp.

The Toronto Marine Historical Society holds its annual dinner meeting aboard the Jadran each year in May. This year's meeting will be on May 2nd, with guest speaker Walter Lewis. Toronto Star and Gerry O.


Time to plan for Badger Boatnerd Gathering

3/25 - It may still be cool outside, but spring and summer are on the way and with them, the annual Boatnerd Gatherings.

The first is the S/S Badger Boatnerd Gathering Cruise on Saturday, May 30. The Boatnerd Badger Gathering is a round-trip crossing of Lake Michigan from Ludington, Michigan, to Manitowoc, Wisconsin, aboard the Lake Michigan Carferry S/S Badger, the only coal-fired steamer left on the Great Lakes. There is an optional night before stay aboard the boat with possible tours of the engine room and pilothouse.

After making the trip across Lake Michigan, passengers can visit the Wisconsin Maritime Museum in Manitowoc and see the operating restored forward engine from the legendary railroad ferry Chief Wawatam and the World War II submarine Cobia, OR go on the optional Wisconsin Shoreline Cruise aboard the Badger. Lee Murdock will be on board to offer entertainment both ways across the lake.

See the Boatnerd Gathering Page for complete details and sign up form. Reservations must be received no later than May 9. Click here for more information


Updates - March 25

News Photo Gallery

Public Gallery updated


Today in Great Lakes History - March 25

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

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

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

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

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

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


Algosar expected to be first up – and down – at Soo

3/24 - Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. - Algoma’s Algosar is expected to be the first vessel to head upbound when the Soo Locks open for the 2009 season Wednesday, and as it stands now, she is also expected to be the first downbound passage. The Algosar is headed to Thunder Bay from Sarnia and is expected to head up through the Poe Lock during daylight hours Wednesday.

For the first time in recent memory, there will be no vessels waiting in line when the locks open at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday. As of late Monday night, no other boats are expected up or downbound, however that could change at short notice, according to Soo Traffic which monitors vessel movements in the St. Marys River.

According to the Duluth Shipping News Web site, the Great Lakes Trader and American Mariner are expected to load in Duluth and Two Harbors on March 30; these could be the first arrivals from the lower lakes. The first departure could be the Edward L. Ryerson, scheduled to leave Duluth from with taconite for Hamilton, Ont., April 1.

Meanwhile, USCG Katmai Bay departed the coal dock at Detour Monday at about 7 a.m. upbound and started working in the area between Mud Lake and Detour. The Mobile Bay arrived downbound off Lake Superior from Marquette about 10:30 a.m. The Mackinaw locked upbound about 11 a.m. to work in Whitefish Bay. Biscayne Bay arrived from the Straits and moved up river to the Soo.

The CCGS Samuel Risley was expected to join the Mackinaw above the locks but remained docked in Soo, Ontario. The Mobile Bay locked through and followed the Risley down river about 2:30 p.m. When they reached Lake Huron, the Mobile Bay headed for the Straits while the Risley sailed down Lake Huron to break out Owen Sound where the Algomarine was expected to depart on Tuesday.

All traffic has been using the upbound channel on the east side of Neebish Island. No work has been done to open the downbound channel through the Rock Cut.

Mackinaw worked Whitefish Bay throughout the day and tied up above the locks for the night.


Owen Sound layup fleet expected to sail soon

3/24 - Owen Sound, Ont. - All three freighters wintering in Owen Sound’s harbor are slated to set sail over the next four weeks, said a company official, despite a depressed economy that will force some ships to remain idle all year. Capt. John Greenway, vice-president of operations for Seaway Marine Transport, which manages the three lakers, said the crash of the automotive and home construction industries will deal a blow to Great Lakes shipping this year.

“We’re struggling like everybody else to fill our order books, based on the economy and the impact to our customers, which obviously affects us as a service provider to them,” Greenway said in a recent interview. The Algomarine is expected to sail Tuesday, followed by the Agawa Canyon on April 1 and the Algosteel on April 17.

Seaway Marine’s Canadian Olympic was first to sail, leaving Goderich March 14 with a load of Sifto salt. Greenway said two or three of the company’s 34 ships will not sail this season, marking the first time in at least five years it did not operate full bore.

The steel industry has been devastated by the automotive industry crash, while the stone industry has been hit by the home construction slump. Greenway anticipates only the shipment of grain – including wheat, oats, barley, beans and corn – will remain as strong as last season.

“Most of the other commodities, related to the steel industry and the construction industry, are certainly going to be softening or they have softened,” he said.

Owen Sound Capt. Seann O’Donoughue, who will depart March 31 aboard the Algoisle, now docked in Montreal, said he anticipates a fairly steady year for the shipment of coal, which is delivered for Hydro One. “There’s still quite a bit of cargo to move up and down,” he said. “The iron ore movements are expected to be slow at the beginning, but they’re still making steel and there is still going to be demand.” Meanwhile, it makes good business sense for freighters to lay in Owen Sound for the winter.

Seaway Marine Transport spent roughly $4 million this winter to retrofit three lake freighters docked at the Owen Sound harbor, said a spokesman for the company that manages the Algoma Central fleet. Greenway said more than $1 million is paid to local welders, pipe fitters and crane operators contracted by the St. Catharines-based company to work on the vessels. The company also pays berthage fees and hydro and its workers stay in local hotels, eat in local restaurants and visit local attractions, Greenway said.

“A lot of people, and certainly I’m sure a lot of people in Owen Sound, don’t realize the economic impact that even a laid-up ship brings to the community,” he said in an interview. Greenway said freighters make their annual winter trip to Owen Sound, which is about eight hours off normal course, because it is a “good, safe berth,” that is sheltered from the wind and the high, pounding waves of other ports.

He said Seaway Marine also chooses ports for its 34 lake freighters based on availability, berthage rates and available services, such as hydro.

Having ships wintering in the city’s harbor “is very good for the local economy,” agreed O’Donoughue. Local electricians are also hired, he said, along with environmental services companies. A local company also trucks fresh water to the ship, he said.

Owen Sound harbormaster Capt. Gord McNeill, said the one disadvantage of the city’s harbor is its depth, at 21-foot draft. Lake freighters travel at 26-foot draft, he said. Owen Sound has been in discussions with Transport Canada for at least seven years over the dredging of its harbor. The city is also in negotiations with the federal government to take over control of the harbor.

City manager Jim Harrold said the harbour divestiture process is “moving forward,” albeit slowly. The city has “made it clear” that the dredging should proceed soon, he said. He said under the city’s control, the harbor would undergo a “more regular dredging regiment.”

Owen Sound Sun Times


Highlander Sea to stay put for summer

3/24 - Port Huron, Mich. – Acheson Ventures will keep the tall ship Highlander Sea docked this summer as a cost-saving measure for the organization.

Paul Maxwell, Acheson Ventures' spokesman, said the 154-foot gaff-rigged topsail schooner will stay at the Bean Dock in Port Huron throughout the boating season and be available for tours. He said sailing the ship includes costs for fuel, provisions for its crew and other supplies.

"We are no different than any other businesses: We are trying to cut back on what we are doing and save some resources," he said. Maxwell could not provide an exact amount of how much the change would save. He also said plans could change.

The ship, built in 1924 and acquired by Acheson Ventures in 2002, has become a symbol of Port Huron. It often sails to destinations on the Great Lakes, including Chicago, Cleveland and Mackinac Island. When the ship is sailing full-time, Maxwell said the crew is as high as 10.

This summer, he said Acheson will retain a captain and one or two crew members to care for the ship, along with a team of dedicated volunteers. Maxwell said they will keep enough crew to rig the ship when warm weather comes and to sail it to the Bean Dock at the Port Huron Seaway Terminal.

The ship is stored at the Port Huron Yacht Club on the Black River during winter months, Maxwell said. "It's been a big part of the community, and we want to continue to keep it that way," he said.

Brock Borden, the Port Huron Yacht Club harbor master, said the Highlander Sea is an important aspect of the city's character. "It will always be an icon of Port Huron," he said. "When people come in and see it, they think it is one of the greatest things they ever see."


U.S. Coast Guard assists with Canadian boaters in distress

3/24 - Cleveland, Ohio - U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Detroit assisted the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary with the rescue of a 20-foot Searay taking on water approximately a half-mile offshore Port Glasgow, Ontario, Sunday at around 10 p.m. "When we arrived on scene, we lowered a rescue swimmer on board the men's boat with a pump. Having him on board made them feel comfortable," said Lt. Cmdr. Gary Naus, Air Station Detroit, HH-65C pilot.

A Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary boat crew towed the sinking Searay with the two men, their dog and rescue swimmer, Aviation Survival Technician 3rd Class Phil Gomez, to a dock on shore in Port Glasgow. "They were getting out of the boat with the rescue swimmer and the dog, and then the boat flipped," said Naus.

The 31-year-old and 19-year-old men from Rodney, Ontario were able to get safely on board the Canadian Auxiliary boat, while Gomez grabbed the dog by the collar, retrieving it out of the water.

"We typically do not put people in the water to hoist them if they can be recovered by a surface asset – which is exactly what we did here," said Naus. The two men embarked earlier in the evening from Port Glasgow to test their new Searay, when their boat began to take on water at approximately 9:30 p.m. Sunday.

The Coast Guard worked closely with the Joint Rescue Coordination Center Trenton and the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary to transport the trio safely to shore. The men had no injuries or medical concerns.


Port Reports - March 24

Goderich - Dale Baechler
Canadian Olympic returned for a fourth trip early Monday morning and is now loading at the Sifto Salt dock. It is a 48-hour round trip to Detroit, loading and unloading included.

Toronto, Ont. - Charlie Gibbons
The first tour boat of the season began operations on Friday, when Shipsands began her one hour tours. Bermingham Construction has been working on and off over the winter with the tug William and a barge in the John Street slip, rebuilding the dock wall. Soderhom Contruction has being doing the same at Pier 4 with the tug Diver III and barge V & F No. 1. The cement carrier Stephen B. Roman departed early Sunday morning for Picton.


Trip Auction

Lafarge in Alpena has donated a cruise on one of the Inland Lakes Managements freighters for the 2009 shipping season to the Alpena Rotary Club's 56th Annual Rotary Radio Auction. The auction begins today from 6 p.m. - 10 p.m. and again on Wednesday. To bid on the trip call 989-356-4012, proceeds from the raffle will be used to promote recreational and educational opportunities in the Alpena area.


Updates - March 24

News Photo Gallery and ice breaking animation

Public Gallery updated

Weekly Website Updates


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.


Shipping season looks late, slow

3/23 - Green Bay, Wisc. Here's the quick answer to when the first ship will be in the port of Green Bay for 2009: "I don't know."

For Port of Green Bay Director Dean Haen — and others around the nation with ties to shipping on the Great Lakes — 2009 looks like a slower year for traffic as a result of the flagging economy.

"There's nothing even on the schedule, that's how slow it is," Haen said. "(The first ship) has ranged anywhere from March 15 to April 15."

He said the first arrival date might be closer to April 15 — or later — this year.

"Nobody is clamoring to get a ship in," Haen said. "If you look at the stockpiles that are along our port facilities right now of dry bulk material … it looks like it's the middle of the year. They've got a significant leftover supply from the '08 season. There just isn't urgency to get ships in at this time."

He said some terminals have indicated they don't expect shipments until April or even May.

"All indications are very slow," Haen said.

Shipping traffic is expected to be lighter this season on the Great Lakes as fleets scale back their operations in the face of a sagging need for capacity. Cargos like iron ore for steel production and limestone for construction projects dropped off precipitously at the end of last year.

At least early on, there is little expectation for change. Some boats have had their sail dates delayed, while some may not sail at all this season, according to the Ohio-based Lake Carriers Association.

The Soo Locks at Sault St. Marie, Mich., are expected to open Wednesday and the St. Lawrence Seaway is slated to open March 31.

Green Bay Press Gazette


Marinette Marine yards busy, but needs more work

3/23 - Marinette, Wisc. - Several showers of sparks fall from the hull of the seagoing tug Dublin Sea to the concrete floor of the massive building surrounding the beefy vessel.

Early last week, workers at Marinette Marine Corp. in Marinette moved around various structures of the vessel, some carrying coiled hoses and grinding tools, others standing beside the hull, their forms outlined in the neon blue flash of welders.

The tug, which is being built for K-Sea Transportation, makes up a portion of the ongoing work at the yard that is gearing for the anticipated construction of another Littoral Combat Ship for the U.S. Navy.

While final details of the contract between the Navy and the project's prime contractor, Lockheed Martin, are still being finalized, construction of the ship is expected to take place at Marinette. That development is providing funding to head off layoffs later this month and next month.

"We are actually building modules for the 2009 (Littoral Combat) ship," said Richard McCreary, Marinette Marine Corp.'s president, chief executive officer and general manager. "With LCS, we can maintain the employment levels we have today — both salaried and hourly — going forward," McCreary said. "We are going to need to bring in one more program of some size before we are able to recall the 170 (workers) and get back to our previous full employment."

He said Marinette Marine has about 170 production workers on layoff.

McCreary said they are working to secure several projects, including an arctic research vessel and other commercial and governmental work. Those moves, if successful, could support and restore employment levels at the company.

"If we have the (Littoral Combat Ship) contract in hand shortly, it averts the need for any more layoffs all the way through 2010," he said. "Then we add in another program and things start to recover from where were last summer."

Marinette Marine, which has worked on securing another contact for 2009 for more than a year, delivered the first-of-class Littoral Combat Ship USS Freedom to the Navy at the end of 2008.

McCreary said they submitted four or five prices to the Navy to bring the price of the vessel to the Navy's price point while still meeting performance requirements on the pending ship, designated LCS 3.

"I don't think we would have gotten a 2009 LCS if we had not worked with the Navy to meet their price target," he said. "We've done some scientifically good things to bring the cost down."

The price has not been disclosed. Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics have produced competing designs of vessels of the LCS program.

The letters LCS on banners and other signs, along with photos and models of the ship, are displayed at numerous spots around the yard. LCS-related items sit along photos and other memorabilia of vessels Marinette Marine has produced.

The recent movement on the 2009 LCS project, to be named the USS Fort Worth, is one more step in what has been an eventful few months for Marinette Marine and Bay Shipbuilding Co. in Sturgeon Bay.

The sale of Marinette Marine, Bay Shipbuilding in Sturgeon Bay and a smaller ship repair yard in Cleveland, Ohio, was closed late last year. All three businesses are now owned by Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri, a dedicated shipbuilding company.

A facility dedicated to building medium response boats for the Coast Guard also opened in Green Bay last fall.

The Manitowoc Co. was the previous owner of the operations.

The president and chief executive officer of Fincantieri North America, Upinder Kamal, said the company purchased the yards as part of a long-term strategic investment that could see as much as $100 million reinvested in the facilities.

"We do plan to make substantial investments," he said. "This is by no means a short-term-financial-return type of investment. This is a long-term strategic investment to not only improve these shipyards, but to provide quality ships at a lower cost to … customers."

The LCS is one of the key contracts the company has been pursuing, but Kamal said they are also interested in expanding work at the yards for both the domestic and international markets.

Bob Herre, who heads up the Fincantieri Marine Group based out of Green Bay, said ownership by Fincantieri allows the possibility of tapping into export markets thanks to its established reputation and global network.

"By virtue of association with Fincantieri, we're able to tap into markets outside the United States that may be ready to buy whereas our normal internal markets aren't yet ready to buy," he said, while talking about the current global economic picture. "The good news is it gives us a broader base market to look at. Before we would not have had that insight."

Kamal said the company is pursuing possible work for the Indian Navy and Coast Guard and the company has determined that work will go to Wisconsin facilities if it is secured. They have left open other future possibilities as well.

"Who knows? Maybe even smaller cruise ships down the line," he said.

McCreary said Marinette Marine is finishing delivery of a barge/floating pier system for the U.S. Navy, working on the K-Sea Transportation tug and they are seeking additional work in both the military and commercial markets.

Production of medium response boats for the Coast Guard is also ramping up at the Aluminum Center of Excellence in Green Bay and at a Seattle partner company.

He noted funding for additional LCS' in 2010 has not yet been finalized, and they are still waiting for finalization of the 2009 contract. At peak, including contractors, Marinette Marine had around 1,200 employees.

"As we look forward at some of these programs … it has a very significant effect through both Northeast Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan," McCreary said. "I'm very confident we're going to get this (2009 LCS) contract done shortly."

Green Bay Press Gazette


Former Great Lakes visitors sold for scrap

3/23 - According to the March edition of Marine News, the following ships were sold for breaking up. All of them transited the St. Lawrence Seaway at least once.

Akti II, in the Seaway as Graigwen and Akti
Al Amal as Apj Karan
Berenice as Ucka
Centauri as Tri Hexagon and Redestos
Golden Harmony as Chios Harmony
Greveno as Fort Hamilton
Leo Princess as Jag Vijay
Ritz as Getaldic
Safinaz as Thor I
Sea Beauty 1 as Anangel Prosperity

Reported by René Beauchamp


Port Reports - March 23

Marquette, Mich. - Art Pickering
The first vessel of the season arrived in Marquette's lower harbor on Saturday morning (March 21) when the U.S.C.G. Mobile Bay arrived and docked at Mattson Park in the lower harbor. It appears the vessel was visiting to open up the harbors of ice. Its not clear how long the vessel will remain in the Marquette area since the ice in the harbor is breaking up nicely.

Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. - Brian Jackson
Monday the Canadian Coast Guard ship Samuel Risley and the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Mackinaw are expected to lock through upbound at the Soo. The Algosar is expect upbound on Monday for the Canadian Soo.

Detroit, Mich. - Ken Borg
Canadian Olympic departed the Rouge River Sunday morning after discharging a salt cargo at the Motor City Dock 1. She cast off and went down the Rouge passing through the Jefferson draw about 11:30 a.m.  She turned upbound into the Detroit River heading back to Goderich, Ont to get another load for Detroit.

Halifax, NS. - Mac Mackay
A brief interlude of spring weather has seen shipyard workers busy applying paint to ships in drydock. Atlantic Erie sports new paint and draft marks, while Aloscotia has new paint, but waits for her prop to be reinstalled after removal of a few ice dings.


Canadian government puts Farley Mowat on block

3/23 - The Canadian government is looking for bidders on the M.V. Farley Mowat.

Newspaper ads ran Saturday advertising a sheriff’s sale of the anti-sealing vessel, which was built in Norway in 1957 and named after a well-known Canadian author. The ship registered to the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has been under arrest in Sydney since it was seized by Canadian authorities last April.

Fisheries Department officers seized the 52-metre vessel on April 12 and charged the captain and the first mate with interfering with the annual seal hunt. Alexander Cornelissen of the Netherlands and Peter Hammarstedt of Stockholm are expected to be tried on the charges in provincial court in Sydney at the end of April.

The sale of the ship closes at noon on April 21 and any creditors that have a claim against the ship must file it with the Federal Court of Canada by noon April 20, according to the advertisement in The Chronicle Herald.

The sale is subject to approval of the federal court, says the ad.

Neither the Shepherd Conversation Society nor society founder Paul Watson could be reached for comment Saturday.

However, in a release posted earlier this month on the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s website, Mr. Watson said any potential buyer should note that the society does not recognize the validity of the sale.

"Whoever buys the ship should be aware that we retain the registry and the original Bill of Sale and we will take back what is ours at the first opportunity. You don’t steal a ship from a pirate without repercussions," Mr. Watson is quoted as saying.

The ship has over $250,000 in liens against it and any potential buyer will inherit that debt, Mr. Watson says.

Last fall, the federal Fisheries Department told the Canadian Press that holding the vessel is costing taxpayers about $2,000 a month in berthing fees. It has been almost a year since it was seized.

At that time, Mr. Watson said he planned to sue the Canadian government after the trial of Mr. Cornelissen and Mr. Hammarstedt. He said he has billed the federal government $1,000 a day for loss of the Farley Mowat.

The Halifax Herald


News reporters wanted

3/23 - The Boatnerd News Channel is always looking for news-worthy articles related to Great Lakes and Seaway Shipping.

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

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

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


Updates - March 23

Weekly Website Updates

Public Gallery updated

News Photo Gallery updated

Historical Perspective Galleries updated, new pictures in the Sir James Dunn feature


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.


Dredging crisis focus of Great Lakes Maritime Task Force report

3/22 - - Thanks to a significant increase in funding for dredging on the Great Lakes in fiscal year 2008, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is now able to start reducing the backlog of sediment that is clogging the Great Lakes navigation system, according to the Great Lakes Maritime Task Force 2008 Annual Report released March 20.

Congress awarded the Corps nearly $140 million to dredge Great Lakes ports and waterway. As a result, the Corps could both remove all the sediment that builds up in the course of a year and also start to chip away at the 18 million cubic yards that remain.

The outlook for FY09 initially was not as positive. The Bush Administration’s final budget proposed to slash the Lakes’ dredging appropriation by nearly $50 million. Thanks to the Great Lakes delegation, the omnibus bill brought the Lakes’ dredging appropriation back up to $125 million, an increase of $35 million over what the Bush Administration had proposed. The economic stimulus package may also include some additional funds for Lakes dredging.”

The dredging crisis was the focus of GLMTF’s 13th Annual Informational Briefing for the Great Lakes Delegation in Washington on April 2, 2008. The keynote address was given by Daniel J. Cornillie, Manager – Marine and Raw Materials Logistics for ArcelorMittal U.S.A. – Indiana Harbor. ArcelorMittal is America’s largest steelmaker, with about 21,000 employees who make about 25 percent of the nation’s steel.

“More than half of ArcelorMittal U.S.A.’s jobs are in facilities immediately adjacent to the Great Lakes,” said Cornillie. “This is not a coincidence. The Great Lakes link the iron ore and stone from the north with the coal to the south. We require approximately 26 million tons per year of Lake-delivered raw materials to sustain ArcelorMittal’s production and jobs in just its U.S. Lakes mills. That is approximately 3,000 tons of material per hour, 24/7.”

The dredging crisis is directly affecting ships delivering raw materials to ArcelorMittal’s complex in Indiana Harbor. “Twenty years ago, our time-chartered Joseph L. Block, for example, was carrying summertime loads of approximately 41,000 tons. Last summer, on the same runs, she carried less than 35,000 tons. She has to make six trips to deliver what she did in five. This math is being repeated across the U.S.-Flag Lakes fleet.”

Cornillie pointed out that the cost to restore the Great Lakes navigation system to project dimensions (more than $200 million) would be less than half that recently spent on reconfiguring one freeway intersection south of Chicago.

GLMTF has already begun working on its recommendations for the FY2010 dredging budget.

View the full report Online

Maritime News


U.S. Coast Guard to open West Neebish Channel

3/22 - Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. - Vessel Traffic Service St. Marys River will open the waters between Nine Mile Point and the Neebish Island ferry, effective 2 p.m. on March 24. These preparations are being conducted in support of the March 25 opening of the Sault Locks and the start of the 2009 commercial navigation season.

The Coast Guard will make every effort to minimize the impact to Neebish Island ferry operations, however, Neebish Island residents should prepare for minor service interruptions, as the ice descending into the Rock Cut will most certainly prevent the ferry from operating normally.

In the event of an emergency and ferry service is interrupted, U.S. Coast Guard Sector Sault Ste. Marie is standing by to transport a resident should the need arise to leave the island.

Meanwhile, on Friday morning the Biscayne Bay and Mackinaw got underway about 9 a.m. Biscayne Bay headed downbound for the Straits and the Mackinaw was upbound for the Soo. Mackinaw arrived around noon and tied up with the Katmai Bay and Mobile Bay at the Soo Coast Guard Station. About 2:30 p.m. the Mobile Bay departed and lock through heading out onto Whitefish Bay. She continued across the bay and onto Lake Superior, destination unknown.

Bristol Bay departed St. Ignace about 9 a.m. and headed west. The tug Michigan and barge Great Lakes arrived from Cheboygan and followed the Bristol Bay through the Straits. Alpena passed east bound about 5 p.m.

Thursday's all out assault on the lower river has left the channel open.


Canadian Coast Guard begins spring icebreaking near Montreal

3/22 - Quebec City, Que. - The Canadian Coast Guard was expected to being icebreaking in the Montreal area Friday at Repentigny and the L'Assomption, Prairies, Mille-Iles and Chateauguay. This yearly operation dislodges ice at the entrance of the tributaries in order to prevent ice jams and flooding that can result from the spring break-up. The operation will be carried out by the Canadian Coast Guard hovercraft ACV Sipu Muin.


Port Reports - March 22

Thunder Bay, Ont. - Ian Wellesley
USCG Alder (WLB-216) departed about 10:30 a.m. Friday and broke out the Lakehead Marine & Industrial dock and then worked in the bay. They docked at 2 p.m. and later left for Duluth at 6:30 p.m.

Alpena, Mich. - Ben & Chanda McClain
Both cement carriers were in port taking on cargo at Lafarge on Saturday. The tug Samuel de Champlain and barge Innovation departed early in the morning headed for South Chicago. Alpena left around noon bound for Milwaukee.

Goderich, Ont. - Dale Baechler and Jacob Smith
Canadian Olympic returned from Detroit for load number three of the 2009 shipping season. She was inbound to the Sifto Salt dock at 9 p.m. Friday night.

Toronto, Ont. - Charlie Gibbons
On Friday afternoon the Stephen B. Roman returned to port with her first load of cement for the season. A ferro-cement sailboat which sank in the Bathurst Street slip in November, was raised on Friday by Toronto Drydock Co. Using the spud barge Rock Prince with a crane on deck, and the tugs M. R. Kane, Patricia D. 1 and Kenteau, the derelict hull was pumped out and towed to Pier 35.


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.


Updates - March 21

News Photo Gallery updated

Historical Perspective Galleries updated, new pictures in the Amasa Stone feature

Public 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.


Good year forecast for Thunder Bay

3/20 - Thunder Bay, Ont. - The U.S. Coast Guard cutter Alder began work outside Thunder Bay on Wednesday, making way for the first grain ship of the season, which is expected to leave the port on April 1.

The Sault lock opens March 25, followed by the Welland Canal on March 31, said Tim Heney, chief executive officer of the Thunder Bay Port Authority. The grain ship that is expected to head out April 1 wintered here. That should be the first movement in what‘s expected to be an improved season for grain boats in the port.

“Grain should be up a bit this year,” he said.

Starting May 1, Keefer Terminal will be busy handling wind turbines from Germany, most of them headed for southern Alberta.

“There’s a lot of activity started up in Western Canada in wind turbines, so there‘s some going into Manitoba as well,” Heney added.

The towers won‘t be coming through, but the 45-metre-long blades will, along with other parts of the turbines. But those who get a charge from viewing the massive blades being hauled down the highway on truck decks won‘t see many this year – they‘re being shipped west on trains.

Last year, more of the port‘s movement revolved around huge pieces of Alberta oilsands equipment, and there will be some of that again this year, said Heney.

Last year‘s shortage of available vessels on the seaway won‘t be a problem this season, he said.

“With the iron ore industry in a bit of a downturn, there‘s a lot more ships available to haul grain. And there‘s a big crop left over from last year to move, so the first part of the season will be busy.

“It seems like all the trends have been going against us,” Heney said. “When they seem to swing the other way, maybe we benefit from it.”

The USCG cutter Alder started work in the Pie Island and Welcome Islands area.

The Chronicle-Journal


Montrealais may be first upbound in Welland Canal

3/20 - Tentatively, the Upper Lakes Group vessel Montrealais will be the first ship to navigate the Welland canal upbound on March 31. A ceremony will be held at Lock 3.

Roger Wyatt


Traffic picks up at Escanaba; Soo icebreaking continues

3/20 - The Joseph L Block loaded pellets in Escanaba on a sunny but very windy and cold Thursday. As she prepared to depart, the barge Great Lakes Trader and tug Joyce VanEnkevort arrived in the harbor. After some extra maneuvering in the ice where they seemed to be having some difficulty, they traded places at the dock. American Mariner, which was expected before the Trader, was outside the harbor with the tug Erika Kobasic, also having problems with ice. She was later able to make it into the harbor, passing very close to some ice shanties on her way in. The Block entered Lake Michigan with little difficulty and headed down the lake.

In the lower St. Marys River, it was an all out assault in the area between the old Detour Coal Dock and Mud Lake. Biscayne Bay, Mobile Bay, Katmai Bay and Mackinaw all worked the area, making repeated passes to flush the ice down river. The cutters worked different turns in the river to keep the ice moving downstream and into Lake Huron. That afternoon all the cutters were focused on repeated tracks in the small area between Point aux Frenes and Lime Island. The cutters ended their day with Mackinaw stopping at the old Detour Coal Dock, Biscayne Bay stopping at Lime Island, Katmai Bay returning to the Soo and Mobile Bay making one more pass before also heading for the Soo. The Bristol Bay was docked in St. Ignace.

Lee Rowe and Greg Miles


Risley set to break out Georgian Bay and North Channel

3/20 - The Coast Guard is expected to begin icebreaking operations in the Parry Sound shipping channel today. The Risley will then conduct icebreaking operations in the North Channel of Manitoulin Island to Thessalon, including Meldrum Bay, Mcgregor Bay and Burnt Island Bay. These operations will continue in support of commercial shipping.


Hollyhock crew begins installing navigational aids

3/20 - Port Huron, Mich. – From Lake Ontario to Traverse Bay, Port Huron-based Coast Guard officials are responsible for installing navigational aides each spring. That process has begun – a sure sign warmer weather is on its way and boating activity on local waterways could pick up.

Lt. j.g. Chris Jasnoch, the navigational aides operation's manager for the Coast Guard cutter Hollyhock, said the crew puts in more than 100 navigational aids each spring between mid-March and mid-April. It’s quite a chore.

Each of the buoys must get inspected – to ensure a quality hull and working light assemblies – painted and put in the water. Installing one buoy, which involves putting in a sinker, anchor and mooring, can take 45 minutes to an hour, Jasnoch said.

The buoys range in size from 5 to 8 feet in diameter to up to 26 feet tall. The largest buoy is 8-by-26 and weighs 12,000 pounds. Most common, though, are buoys that are 6 feet in diameter and 20 feet tall.

Jasnoch said the crew started installing buoys Tuesday on Lake St. Clair and will continue throughout Hollyhock's zone until mid-April.

"They promote safe navigation," Jasnoch said of the buoys that dot the waterways. "They mark good water for the mariners, both for recreational mariners and professional mariners."

Maintaining the navigational aids is one of the Hollyhock's primary duties, along with ice breaking.

Jasnoch said Lake St. Clair is free of ice, which is why it's where they started there with buoys Tuesday.

Part of the process also is inspecting the buoys that remain in the water throughout the winter. Jasnoch said those buoys are designed to handle the winter weather.

"That's our mission," Jasnoch said of putting in the buoys. "We look forward to the spring, and being able to commission the buoys and get all the work done."

Port Huron Times Herald


Port Reports - March 20

Thunder Bay, Ont. - Ian Wellesley
USCG Alder departed Thunder Bay dock about 10:30 a.m. and performed more ice breaking in the harbor and opened a track to the Lakehead Marine & Industrial dock. After working on track maintenance in the harbor, the Alder docked for the night.

Goderich, Ont. - Dale Baechler
Canadian Olympic made her second trip into port Wednesday evening, her first being the 2009 season opener. She was loading at the Sifto Salt, heading to Detroit when completed.

Detroit, Mich - Steve Doyle
The Canadian Olympic arrived early Friday morning with salt for the Rouge, this is her second trip of the season with salt loaded in Goderich. The tug Everlast and barge Norman McLeod were upbound for Sarnia.

Toronto, Ont. - Charlie Gibbons
The Stephen B. Roman departed her lay-up dock early Thursday morning.


Lift bridge to receive facelift through infrastructure funding

3/20 - Burlington, Ont. – The Burlington Lift Bridge is getting a major facelift as part of the Canadian federal government's $12- billion infrastructure spending program intended to stimulate the economy.

While the bridge is being prepped for work in the coming months, local cycling committee members are pushing for the government to add a pathway to the lake side of the historic structure to allow bikers safer and better access to the city's beachfront below.

Conservative MP Mike Wallace, along with Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development Diane Finley, announced funding for the repair and restoration of the 1,996-tonne lift bridge at a news conference in Burlington Tuesday.

No dollar value for the project was given because the project still needs to go to tender, Wallace said in an interview.

He said rust removal and painting of the historic bridge, which rises to allow ships from Lake Ontario to enter the bay, will definitely be done. The lift bridge is considered a key cog in commercial trade for Burlington, Hamilton and much of southern Ontario, given it is used by thousands of ships a year. The work is expected to take two years and be completed during off-season shipping months.

Public Works and Government Services Canada owns the lift bridge. Marine traffic in the canal averages 6,000 commercial vessels and pleasure craft per year, and the average daily traffic over the bridge is 10,000 vehicles.

“We're not announcing specific numbers because we need to finalize the amount and then do the tender,” Wallace said, adding $42 million has been set aside for four federally-owned bridges.

Gene Wasik, of the Burlington Cycling Committee, who attended the announcement with other cyclists, said a new pathway is needed because the current set up is inconvenient and potentially dangerous.

He took a reporter on a quick tour of the bridge, which has a crossing on the bay side for pedestrian and cyclists to use. It is narrow and busy, Wasik said. The grate design of the bridge floor is too dangerous for some with skinnier bike tires to cycle on, he said.

Wasik would like to see a smooth pathway built attached to the bridge, on the lakeside, and designed to take bikers directly to the beach path below. He believes such a path would cost around $2 million.

The Burlington Canal Lift Bridge opened in 1826. There have been five successive moveable bridges located on this site since 1830. The present bridge was opened in 1962 and carried two lanes of vehicular traffic across the canal and tracks for the former Hamilton-Northwestern railway.

Burlington Post


Updates - March 20

News Photo Gallery updated

Historical Perspective Galleries updated, new pictures in the Amasa Stone feature

Public Gallery updated


Today in Great Lakes History - March 20

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

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

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

Data from: Joe Barr, Dave Swayze, Father Dowling Collection, Historical Collections of the Great Lakes, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series.


Layoff warning at American Steamship

3/19 - Amherst, N.Y. - American Steamship is warning its crews that there may not be work for everyone this shipping season.

The Buffalo-area Great Lakes shipping company has notified the New York state Labor Department that layoffs may be coming, though it's not yet known how many.

A spokeswoman for American Steamship's Chicago-based parent company, GATX Corp., says the shipper relies on the steel industry for about 50 percent of its business, with iron ore being the largest cargo. But that industry is hurting and American Steamship anticipates less business.

Spokeswoman Rhonda Johnson says the company may start the shipping season April 1 with fewer vessels on the lakes and then add as needed. The company owns 18 ships and has 493 shipboard employees.

Associated Press


CSL’s Nanticoke renamed, will work off-lakes

3/19 - Canada Steamship Lines’ self-unloader Nanticoke has been renamed Salarium, a move confirmed by the Transport Canada Web site. She is expected to take over the salt runs to the Magdalan Islands formerly handled by the Sauniere, which is now laid up. The vessel was built in 1980 at Collingwood, Ont.


Cutters work Straits, lower St. Marys River

3/19 - Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. – Mobile Bay and Biscayne Bay started Wednesday by departing from St. Ignace, Mich., about 8:30 a.m. Biscayne Bay headed east for the St. Marys River, Mobile Bay sailed west to assist the tug Michigan and barge Great Lakes through the Straits with the cutter Bristol Bay. After the two cutters assisted the tug and barge east bound through the straits the Biscayne Bay continued on to the St. Marys River while the Bristol Bay waited in the ice just east of the Mackinac Bridge. About 8 p.m. the American Mariner arrived east bound for Escanaba. The Bristol Bay took up the lead and escorted the Mariner through the Straits.

Mackinaw departed the Soo about 9:30 a.m. and headed downbound to the east side of Neebish Island. Biscayne Bay arrived from the Straits about 12:30 p.m. and met up with the Katmai Bay, which spent the morning working the river off Lime Island.

The three cutters spent the afternoon working the lower river between Lime Island and Detour. The cutters stopped for the night in the lower river and the Mobile Bay arrived Wednesday evening, stopping for the night at Lime Island.


Down economy worries cross-lake ferry operators

3/19 - Muskegon, Mich. – Lake Michigan cross-lake ferry operators had to worry about fuel prices last spring but this year the concern is with a struggling economy heading into the tourist season.

Lake Express in Milwaukee announced prices and schedules Tuesday and began taking 2009 reservations for its high-speed service to Muskegon. Fares are up about 8 percent over 2008.

In Ludington, the Lake Michigan Carferry and its SS Badger has announced fare increases of about 15 percent for 2009. However, the historic Ludington-to-Manitowoc, Wis., ferry service remains cheaper than Lake Express but takes longer to cross the lake.

Lake Express will begin its 2009 season May 1 and end operations Nov. 1. The Badger begins sailing May 22 and ends service Oct. 11.

"Every year it has been a different challenge," said Ken Szallai, president of Lake Express, which begins its sixth season of operation. "Last year it was fuel and this year it is the economy. This year we had to strike a balance between paying our bills and still offering a high-level of service that our customers have come to expect from Lake Express."

The 2009 percentage increases in fares are much less than last year when some rates went up 20 percent due to fuel prices. Lake Express continues to charge separate $5 safety and fuel surcharges this year for each passenger and vehicle crossing, according to the company's fare schedule.

Marine diesel fuel was around $4 a gallon at the beginning of the 2008 season vs. about $2 this year. Szallai said those fuel costs compare to 75 cents a gallon when the Muskegon-to-Milwaukee service began in 2003.

"I don't see this year being any more difficult than last year," said Sam Wendling, head of the Muskegon County Convention & Visitors Bureau. Wendling said 2008 was the first time since 2001 that the county's room tax collections were less than the prior year.

The Lake Express operation continues to be a major economic boost to the Muskegon tourism economy, Wendling said of the more than 110,000 passengers that pass through Muskegon each sailing season.

"The service is a huge economic boost for our community," Wendling said. "The ride on the Lake Express is part of the vacation experience. Many will say that the ride is the highlight of that vacation."

The Muskegon Chronicle


Council seeks IMO standard for ballast water permits

3/19 - Superior, Wisc. – The Superior City Council is adding its concern to the chorus of voices speaking out on a proposed ballast water permit in Wisconsin.

The proposal requires commercial ocean-going ships and those transporting cargo between Great Lakes ports to take steps to reduce aquatic invasive species in the ballast water they release into Wisconsin waters.

The council voted unanimously to pass a resolution stating its concern for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources proposal to adopt regulations more stringent than those in neighboring states.

The permit, as proposed, will add to the patchwork of regulations created to address the problem of invasive species, and uses standards 100 times more stringent than the International Maritime Organization, a standard that is unattainable with existing technology.

The resolution adopted by the council Tuesday night puts the council on record as opposing regulations as they are written and urges the state to adopt a ballast water permitting requirement that recognize standards adopted by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) for ocean-going vessels, which are consisted with standards adopted by Minnesota, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Pennsylvania.

“This resolution is very important, not only for this city, but for those whose jobs depend on our city being a key port,” said Andy Lisak, director of the Development Association in Superior. Flanked by members of the longshoremen’s union, Lisak said, the permit would put Superior and other Wisconsin ports at a competitive disadvantage when compared to neighboring states.

If the ballast water permits were adopted as written, Superior would be subject to more stringent regulations than those of Duluth in spite of the shared port system. “As it is right now, we will be at a competitive disadvantage,” Lisak said. “What that translates into is a loss of business for our port, and the loss of jobs and the loss of tax revenue for the city, the county and the state of Wisconsin.”

At a time of national recession and a state budget crisis, Lisak said, the last thing the state should do is anything that is going to result in the loss of jobs and tax revenue.

Councilor Dan Olson relinquished his seat on the council to speak as a business manager for a labor organization.

“The implication of the loss of revenue is very important to the city, the state … ,” Olson said. Olson asked the council to be a partner with the state to make sure the legislation gets thorough review, to ensure Superior isn’t at a competitive disadvantage.

“This is very important that we support this,” Olson said.

Councilor Ed Anderson likened the patchwork of ballast water regulations to the difficulty experienced in interstate commerce when each state issued its own currency.

“Pretty soon it just didn’t work,” Anderson said. “Interstate commerce was impossible to deal with because there were so many different rules and regulations … Apparently we haven’t learned very much since that time because we’re on the same road with some of these environmental regulations.” He said the standard the state is proposing is impossible to meet with existing technology.

While councilors agree protecting the Great Lakes from invasive species is important, but doing so in a way that doesn’t hurt the state’s economy is equally important. The council voted unanimously in favor of standards adopted by adjacent states.

Thursday night, the Douglas County Board considers a similar resolution in advance of a public hearing on ballast water permits scheduled for Monday in Milwaukee.

Superior Telegram


Port Reports - March 19

Thunder Bay, Ont. - Ian Wellesley
The U.S. Coast Guard cutter Alder entered Thunder Bay about 8:30 a.m. Wednesday and broke out the harbor. The Alder docked about 6:30 p.m. and remained in port overnight, giving the crew the opportunity to see the city.

Escanaba - Ryan Jackson
The tug Erika Kobasic entered the bay of Green Bay from Lake Michigan about 5:30 a.m. Wednesday.

Sturgeon Bay - Scott Best
Wednesday the Joseph L Block departed Sturgeon Bay via the ship canal after turning around in the morning, assisted by the Selvick tugs Jimmy L and John M. Selvick. The Block was bound for Escanaba, Mich., on her first trip of the season to load ore. Block was escorted into Green Bay by the tug Erika Kobasic Wednesday night. Also in Sturgeon Bay, the American Century remains in the graving dock sporting a new coat of black paint.

Toronto - Charlie Gibbons
The tug M. R. Kane came out of its winter slumber Tuesday afternoon to go break ice in the Turning Basin by Toronto Drydock. The Stephen B. Roman is expected to fit out this week and return to service about the 19th.


Consolidated merchant mariner credential

3/19 - The U.S. Coast Guard published a final rule Monday consolidating the credentials issued to merchant mariners into a single credential and reducing the burden on mariners by limiting the number of times they need to appear in person to provide fingerprints and proof of identity.

This final rule, which will become effective on April 15, 2009, addresses the comments received from the public in response to the Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. A copy of the final rule is available on the Federal Register’s website  MMC Final Rule

Key features of the MMC regulations:

• The regulation consolidates the credentials issued to merchant mariners into a single credential.
• The regulation also streamlines the application process for the MMC by removing the requirement that all mariners appear at one of 17 Regional Exam Centers, so long as they have already enrolled for a TWIC at one of 149 TWIC Enrollment Centers.
• The rule works in tandem with the joint Final Rule published by the Coast Guard and the Transportation Security Administration on January 25, 2007, titled "Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) Implementation in the Maritime Sector; Hazardous Materials Endorsement for a Commercial Driver's License.”

Under the previous regulations, the Coast Guard issued up to four credentials to a mariner: a Merchant Mariner’s Document (MMD), a Merchant Mariner’s License (License), a Certificate of Registry (COR), and an International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW) Endorsement. Each credential served a separate purpose, thus creating the possibility that a mariner might need all four. The Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002 added a requirement for all mariners to obtain a transportation security card, implemented by the Department of Homeland Security as the TWIC. Without a regulatory change, a mariner could have been required to obtain up to five credentials, and to appear in person for duplicative applications.

The Coast Guard is streamlining its mariner regulations and consolidating the four separate Coast Guard-issued credentialing documents into one Merchant Mariner Credential (MMC). In addition to reducing the number of credentials a mariner will need to hold, this rule also eliminates redundant burdens and government processes.

Over the next few weeks, the Coast Guard will be issuing a number of information bulletins, which will provide details on how the new regulations will be implemented and the changes mariners can expect to see in the credential application process and the actual credentials.


Coast Guard establishes safety zone

3/19 - U.S. Coast Guard Sector Lake Michigan established a safety zone around an exposed power cable floating in the St. Joseph River near the Main Street Bridge in Berrien Couonty, Michigan, after notification from a bridge tender Tuesday at approximately p.m.

The five-inch diameter cable lies exposed in a navigable waterway of 14-feet deep, while the remaining length is submerged along roughly the span of the bridge, which is approximately 150 feet.across.

"At this point, our top priority is the safety of the boating public; we're moving as quickly as possible to remove this hazard so we can reopen the waterway," said Cmdr. Charles Tenney, Chief of Prevention, Sector Lake Michigan.

The Michigan Department of Transportation is on scene, and work is expected to begin Friday to re-bury the cable.

There are no environmental concerns, and the power to the cable has been secured.

The safety zone encompasses one-quarter of a mile around the Main Street Bridge, and both recreational and commercial vessel operators are advised to exercise extreme caution and not transit within 25 yards of the zone.


2009 Seaway Handbook amendments published

3/19 - The 2009 Seaway Handbook is now available Online. This year the Seaway is no longer providing printed copies of the Seaway Handbook. Copies of the PDF can be ordered on the DVD.


Death claims lakes engineer Bruce E. Liberty Sr.

3/19 - Bruce E. Liberty Sr., 77, died recently at his home after a battle with mesothelioma. Liberty was a chief fleet engineer for U.S. Steel Great Lakes fleet for 42 years before retiring in 1992. He was instrumental in helping design the Roger Blough's engines. He moved his family to Duluth, in 1972. Liberty was well known for repairing anything, especially large engines and helped retire the coast guard cutter Sundew in the Minnesota slip. He also volunteered his services on the William A. Irvin which he also sailed on in his early career. Bruce was a member of the propeller club and past president of the Harbor Club. He also rebuilt a large water truck and helped organize engine maintenance at the Clifton Fire Department. Celebration of Life: 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, March 20, in Dougherty Funeral home with wake prayer at 6:30 p.m. Funeral Service 11 a.m. Saturday, March 21, 2009 in St Benedict's church with a one hour prior visitation. Interment at Forest Hill Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred to Lake Superior Maritime Visitors Center.


Updates - March 19

News Photo Gallery updated

Public 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 Line’s ATLANTA. When the STAFFORD was freed, the ice then closed around the ATLANTA and imprisoned her for several hours. Both vessels struggled all night and finally reached Grand Haven, Michigan, at 5 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.


Upper lakes ice no challenge this year for Mackinaw

3/18 - The United States Coast Guard heavy icebreaker Mackinaw doesn't expect to be flexing its traditional brawn as it begins clearing the upper approach to the Michigan Sault Locks.

"Normally, the Mackinaw has to muscle its way through the ice-packed approach but the buildup (with massive six-to eight-foot ice ridges) isn't there this year," said Mark Gill, director of vessel traffic service for the Michigan Sault USGC sector.

The 3,500-ton Mackinaw, which entered the upper St. Marys River on Monday morning, is responsible for clearing, and maintaining, commercial shipping tracks on the nearly 60-kilometer Whitefish Bay approach to the Michigan Sault Locks.

The nearly 11-month 2009 commercial shipping season begins in nine days, on March 25, with the opening of the Poe Lock.

"Conditions are not expected to be that unusual, maybe 18 to 30 inches of plate ice (developing over the course of a winter) but what is unusual part is the volume of ice," said Gill.

Lake Superior, according to the director of vessel traffic service, was 70 per cent ice-covered this winter, "We were within a couple of cold nights of being frozen shore to shore."

It's the most extensive ice coverage since the biggest of the Great Lake's was completely covered during the winter of 2002-2003, along with Lakes Huron and Erie.

The 240-foot Cheboygan-based heavy icebreaker, whose propulsion system allows it to break ice in either direction, should have little trouble breaking through the Whitefish Bay ice fields.

Instead of laying multiple commercial shipping tracks, it's expected the Mackinaw will lay just one track and then focus on maintaining it and flushing nearby ice flows into open water for dispersal.

"We only need the one commercial shipping track because we are expecting limited traffic in the first weeks," said Gill.

Only a handful of vessels, all upbound, are expected to be on the move at the start of the new commercial season while it could be anywhere from 24 hours to five days after the launch of the season, he says, before anyone is downbound.

"It's all because of the economy," said Gill. "Normally we would have maybe a dozen vessels moving in both directions early in a new season.

"The steel plants have cut back production, they need less iron ore and coal, and the bigger carriers are staying in their home ports for another week or so to avoid the added cost of tug-assistance that will be required to get to open water."

Despite above-average volumes of ice, and fewer commercial vessels to help in its dispersal, Gill believes the icebreaking season could still be wrapped up within two to three weeks.

"It all depends on Mother Nature," he said.

"The long-range forecast is for warm temperatures and rain, the combination can have a dramatic effect on how long we have to be out there."

Two 660-ton icebreaking tugs, the Sault-based Katmai Bay and the St. Ignace-harbored Biscayne Bay, have been chiseling away in the lower St. Mary's, between Detour and Neebish Island, as well as in the Straits of Mackinac, in recent weeks.

They are expected to be joined by the Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Samuel Risley, out of Parry Sound Ont., as well as two additional USCG icebreaking tugs, the Detroit-based Bristol Bay and the Mobile Bay out of Sturgeon Bay, Wisc., later this week.

The Sault Star


Emergency break out of Neebish Island ice bridges Thursday

3/18 - Sault Ste. Marie, Mich - The Coast Guard will conduct an emergency break out of the Lower West Neebish Channel Thursday morning.

Local officials and the Eastern Upper Peninsula Transportation Authority have requested Coast Guard assistance after determining the ice has deteriorated and is no longer safe.

All ice breaking will be conducted south of the Neebish Island ferry crossing and every effort will be made to leave the upper ice bridge undisturbed until local officials request its break out.



East Coast icebreakers headed for Seaway

3/18 - On March 26, the Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Martha L. Black from the Quebec Region, along with the United States Coast Guard cutter Thunder Bay from Maine, will be conducting icebreaking operations in support of commercial shipping through ice-covered sections of the St. Lawrence River and as far as Lake Ontario and sections of the St. Lawrence Seaway.

Canadian Coast Guard and Ron Beaupre


After refurbishing, Welland Canal to open at month's end

3/18 - Port Colborne, Ont. - After months of sitting idle and undergoing millions of dollars of work, the Welland Canal is set to open for the 2009 shipping season March 31.

During the off-season, Lock 8 in Port Colborne and Lock 1 in St. Catharines underwent work to replace gate cables with hydraulic cylinders.

“It’s more reliable in performance operations,” said Jean Aubry-Morin, St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp. acting vice-president. “The motors are safer and more reliable.”

The work represented the final phase of a Welland Canal conversion program which saw about $28 million spent over the past five years. Changes also included a modernization of equipment and new control systems for operators.

The Clarence Street bridge underwent major work during its recent closure to replace a canopy and walkway and driving surfaces.

“There were also structural remedies to expand the life of the bridge and protect the long-term viability,” Aubry-Morin said.

Last year 40.8 million metric tones of cargo went through the seaway in about 3,300 vessels in transit.

In honor of the canal opening and the seaway’s 50th anniversary, a free hot breakfast will be held at the tourist information centre (formerly Humberstone Hall) on Main St. with prizes at 8:15 a.m. That will be followed by Port Colborne’s canal-opening top hat ceremony at 9 a.m.

Welland Tribune


Funding means start of Seaway's renewal project

3/18 - Massena, N.Y. – Fifty is considered the golden anniversary, but for the St. Lawrence Seaway, its 50th anniversary marks the start of renewal and a 10-year project to bring it up-to-date with modern technology.

"Our locks now are operated mechanically, with kind of pulleys and ropes if you will. One of the things we're going to do is install hydraulics so they'll be hydraulically operated," said Collister Johnson Jr., Administrator of the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation.

"A lot of the work will involve replacement of concrete, concrete that has deteriorated over the years and certainly a lot of the steel components that go into the locks will also be replaced," said Salvatore Pisani, Associate Administrator of the Development Corporation.

The Seaway Development Corporation says the project will have a positive impact on the North Country economy and will create job opportunities for local workers.

"We'll be hiring contractors to do a lot of this work and that means a lot of laborers, plumbers and electricians and welders and you know, people that will be employed to undertake this asset renewal force," said Johnson.

"We're going to be buying different things that we need within the asset renewal program and a lot of those components will be purchased locally or certainly within the state of New York, so that stimulus will be very evident," said Pisani.

And the boost to the area couldn't come at a better time.

"The North Country and New York State needs something like this to counteract some of the bad news that we've been getting. So we hope this is going to be a bright spot in the future of the North Country," said Pisani.

The development corporation expects the project to get underway within the next month.

The 10-year Asset Renewal Program will cost about $165 million total and will include several projects to completely renew the system so it's ready for another 50 years of success.

News 10


Port Reports - March 18

Escanaba, Mich. - Lee Rowe
Joseph L. Block is expected at the Escanaba ore dock on Wednesday to take on a load of pellets.

Straits of Mackinac  - Fred Stone
It was an unplanned gathering of U.S. Coast Guard icebreakers in the Straits of Mackinac Tuesday morning. The Mobile Bay was eastbound followed by the Katmai Bay, which was eastbound for the lower St. Marys River.The Bristol Bay passed westbound and the Biscayne Bay was in port at St. Ignace. That put all four vessels within 20 miles of each other in the Straits of Mackinac at 10:45 a.m.

Detroit, Mich - Angie Williams
Canadian Olympic was downbound for Morton Salt in the Rouge with salt from Goderich, Ont. This is the first bulk carrier for the Port of Detroit for the 2009 season.

Toledo, Ohio - Jim Hoffman
The American Mariner departed from her winter layup berth at the Torco Ore Dock early Tuesday afternoon. She was bound for Sterling Fuels in Windsor, Ontario, for refueling and will then proceed to Escanaba, Michigan, to load ore.

Halifax, NS. - Mac Mackay
The tug Stevns Iceflower, purchased recently by Rio Tinto Alcan and refitting for Canadian service in Halifax, has been renamed Fjord Saguenay. Although the name has yet to appear on the tug's hull and her Canadian registration has not yet been posted on Transport Canada's website, the new name now shows on her AIS tag. Built by East Isle shipyard in Prince Edward Island in 2006 for Danish owners, she is a 5,000 horsepower ice class, firefighting ASD type, similar to recent acquisitions by Groupe Ocean. After two years working in the North Sea as Stevns Iceflower and Svitzer Njord, she re-crossed the Atlantic and arrived in Halifax February 27 for dry-docking and handover to Rio Tinto Alcan. The new tug will serve Rio Tinto Alcan's busy port facilities on the Saguenay River at La Baie (formerly known as Port Alfred) Quebec. Fjord Saguenay will replace Grande-Baie, which was sold after sinking at her dock on December 31, 2007. Since then Rio Tinto Alcan has relied on chartered tugs to assist its remaining tug Alexis Simard.


Updates - March 18

News Photo Gallery updated

Historical Perspective Galleries updated, new pictures in the Amasa Stone feature

Public 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.


Slow shipping season may leave some lakers high and dry

3/17 - When the Soo Locks open each year, lakers are usually lined up waiting to get through and begin a new shipping season.

But that’s not likely to happen when the locks open this year on March 25.

The crew of the James R. Barker doesn’t plan to leave the ship’s winter berth at Midwest Energy Resources Co. in Superior until March 29 — a full four days after the Soo Locks begin operating. What’s more, the Barker is expected to be the first ship out of the Twin Ports this year, said Jim Sharrow, facilities manager for the Duluth Seaway Port Authority.

And at least two vessels now tied up in the port have no plans to sail this year: the Kaye E. Barker and the American Victory.

Early reports also indicate the Great Lakes Fleet’s steamers Arthur M. Anderson and Philip R. Clarke, laid up at Sturgeon Bay, will wait to fit out until later in the season, if demand improves. However the classic steamer Edward L. Ryerson, tied up at Superior, is expected to sail, loading its first cargo around April 2.

“It’s primarily the effect of a weak economy,” said Fred Shusterich, Midwest’s president. “But it’s also partly because of the ice this year. No one is going to risk damaging an expensive boat by rushing out to punch holes in the ice, especially for a season that’s going to be on the slow side anyway.”

“There’s really no reason to rush out there this year,” said Mark Barker, president of Interlake Steamship Co., which operates a fleet of 11 vessels, including both the James R. and Kaye E. Barker.

With steel mills operating at only 40 percent to 50 percent of capacity, demand for iron ore pellets is expected to fall in corresponding fashion.

Unless the situation improves, the Kaye E. Barker and the American Victory could sit out the season entirely.

“It’s all dependent on whether we see steel rebound,” Barker said.

“There’s a lot of effort and expense involved in fitting a ship out for service,” said Sharrow, who worked many years for the Great Lakes Fleet before joining the Duluth Seaway Port Authority.

He still has painful memories of 1982.

“That year the Great Lakes Fleet fit out something like 21 or 22 ships, and by the end of May, almost three-quarters of them were laid up,” Sharrow recalled.

Anticipating a weak season, some ship owners put off work on their vessels this winter. For instance the American Victory was scheduled to go into drydock this winter at Fraser Shipyards in Superior. But it remained in the water. Even if its owner, American Steamship Co., wanted to return the ship to action this season, this would require three to six weeks of lead time to handle deferred work on the vessel.

Gene Walroos, Fraser’s general manager, said the shipyard currently employs about 90 people, compared with 140 last year, because of reduced maintenance and repair jobs.Iron ore pellets aren’t the only cargo that probably will be off this year.

Shusterich predicts Midwest will ship about 1 million fewer tons of coal than it did last season. That’s about a 5 percent drop from the record amount of coal the Superior terminal moved last year.

“We’re all feeling the downturn,” Shusterich said. “It all really flows through the system. If carmakers can’t sell cars, steelmakers will reduce production, and everyone needs less electricity, so they need less coal.”

Barker said he doesn’t really see any indication of an imminent turnaround.

“It’s not going to get better until people start buying automobiles and refrigerators and other things made out of steel,” said Barker, noting: “That’s not likely to happen until consumers stop worrying about whether they’re going to have jobs.”

Meanwhile, Lake Carriers Association Vice-President Glen Nekvasil says many of the 65 U.S.-flagged Great Lakes fleet vessels don't have sail dates yet.

"The important thing to remember is that although we're going to get of to a slow start, nobody is scrapping vessels. So the capacity is going to be there. All we need is for the demand to come back."

Nekvasil says the Great Lakes shipping business is a signpost of the nation's overall economy.

"You have to understand: Ships do not create demand for cargo, they meet demand for cargo so as soon as we get our steel industry moving again and our car plants working again, that should translate into increased cargo on the Great Lakes."

The Canadian Ship Owners Association President also says that side of the Great Lakes will be substantially slower for the 68 Canadian-flagged vessels, but he can't say how many will stay in dock as the shipping season gets underway.

Duluth News Tribune and KUWS


Port Reports - March 17

Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. - Jerry Masson
The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw locked upbound Monday morning and broke ice in the upper St. Marys River and White Fish Bay. She stopped for the night docked at the West Pier.

Escanaba, Mich. - Dick Lund
The barge Great Lakes Trader and tug Joyce L. VanEnkevort officially opened the Port of Escanaba when it began loading taconite on Monday. The tug and barge had wintered in Escanaba along with the barge Joseph H. Thompson and tug Joseph H. Thompson, Jr., which remains in lay-up at the C. Reiss (north) Dock near the power plant.


Updates - March 17

News Photo Gallery updated

Historical Perspective Galleries updated, new pictures in the Amasa Stone feature

Weekly Updates

Satellite ice images


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.


Fraser gets $3.7 million harbor assistance grant

3/16 - Noon update - Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle announced Monday morning that Fraser Shipyards in Superior will receive a $3.7 million harbor assistance grant.

It’s the third-largest state harbor-assistance grant in history, and state and local officials hope the money will serve as the seed for additional federal investment from the recently approved stimulus legislation.

Fraser will receive $3.7 million from the state Harbor Assistance Program while the company will provide the required 20 percent match to complete the first of three major improvements. The funds will be used as a down payment to apply for a $10 million competitive grant from the Federal Maritime Administration to finish the substantial modernization of the facility.

The project includes fixing an 856-foot dock and repairs to a dry-dock area of the shipyard.

It’s the third time a Superior facility has received a state harbor grant.

In 2006 Gov Doyle presented the Superior port with a $1.8 million grant that resulted in Hallett Dock Co. relocating a bulk terminal to Wisconsin. In addition, the Harbor Assistance Program in 2004 awarded $1.1 million to complete dredging and rebuild a 1,250-foot pier at the General Mills grain elevator in Superior.

Duluth News Tribune


Report highlights improvement in ballast water inspection

3/16 - A new U.S. government report shows a notable increase in the number of ballast tank inspections of oceangoing commercial ships entering the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway System from outside U.S. or Canadian waters. Ship operators also improved their compliance with ballast water requirements in 2008 compared with 2007, the report says.

The 2008 Summary of Great Lakes Seaway Ballast Water Working Group released by the U.S. Coast Guard examined the U.S.-Canada Great Lakes Seaway System ballast water ship inspection program. The report finds that 99 percent of all oceangoing ships bound for the Great Lakes Seaway System ports from outside U.S. or Canadian waters in 2008 received a ballast tank exam, compared with 74 percent in 2007. Moreover, the report found that 98.6 percent of all ships were in compliance with ballast water management requirements, compared with 95 percent in 2007.

The report was prepared by the Great Lakes Seaway Ballast Water Working Group (BWWG), which includes representatives of the U.S. Department of Transportations Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation (SLSDC), the U.S. Coast Guard Ninth District, Transport Canada, and the Canadian St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation. The group coordinates U.S. and Canadian enforcement and compliance efforts to reduce the introduction of aquatic invasive species in the Great Lakes via ships ballast water.

In 2008, the SLSDC implemented regulations requiring all oceangoing ships with no ballast in their tanks to conduct saltwater flushing of their empty ballast water tanks before arriving in the Seaway. The new Seaway regulations, along with those of Transport Canada and the U.S. Coast Guard and best management practices, strengthen environmental oversight of oceangoing ships prior to entering the Seaway, said U.S. SLSDC Administrator Collister Johnson, Jr. This collective inspection regime is critical to preventing the further introduction of invasive species into the Great Lakes.

In 2008, 96 percent of all ballast tanks (6,704 of 6,983) were sampled, compared with 78 percent in 2007. In addition, all reporting forms for each ship were examined to assess ballast water history, compliance, voyage information, and proposed discharge location. Ships with non-compliant ballast tanks were required to take one of several options: (1) retain the ballast water and residuals on board, (2) treat the ballast water in an environmentally sound and approved manner, or (3) conduct a ballast water exchange at sea.

The BWWG expects high compliance rates for ships to continue in 2009, noting in the report that ballast water management requirements in the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence Seaway System are among the most stringent in the world. A copy of the report can be found at this link


50th anniversary ‘Know Your Ships’ launches today

3/16 - The 50th anniversary edition of Marine Publishing Co.'s annual boatwatching field guide “Know Your Ships,” 32 pages larger than last year and featuring a 50-year photo retrospective, is off the press and ready to ship.

“Know Your Ships” is meant not only for those with a casual interest in the parade of nautical commerce that passes our shores, but also for more serious-minded individuals who have a passion for all the details about the ships that ply the inland seas.

The 50th edition is a little different from those past. In addition to including everything ship fans need to know about the freighters, tankers, tugs, salties, passenger ships and other vessels sailing the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway, the 2009 book includes a special tribute to the St. Lawrence Seaway, which also turns 50 in 2009, and honors Tom Manse, the books founder. As an added bonus, there's a two-page sampling of some of the stack markings and house flags that have disappeared from the scene the past 50 years. Finally, an illustrated timeline revisits important Marine Milestones since 1959.

Click here to preview

Editor / publisher Roger LeLievre, as well as members of the “Know Your Ships” crew, will also be on hand to autograph copies Saturday, April 18 at the Great Lakes Maritime Center in Port Huron. Books will be available for purchase at the signing.


Port Reports - March 16

Milwaukee, Ill. - Ben Morgan
The cement barge St. Marys Conquest and tug Prentiss Brown departed Milwaukee, Wisc., Sunday afternoon and sailed on a south easterly course from Milwaukee.

Alpena - Ben & Chanda McClain
On a calm Sunday morning, the Alpena tied up at Lafarge to take on the first cement load of the shipping season. Alpena departed during the afternoon and could be heard by all near the bay, a sure sign of spring.

Goderich, Ont. - Wayne Brown
Canadian Olympic arrived at 7 p.m Sunday, making her the first boat of the season for Goderich. She was assisted by the CCG icebreaker Griffon and tug Pride.


BoatNerd’s popular Public Gallery returns

3/16 - After months of development, the popular Public Gallery feature is back.

All 72,000 pictures and user accounts have returned along with new features like a video and audio gallery.

The public gallery has had an interesting history, and the latest version is expected to last long into the future. Our first Public Gallery went off line when the old hardware it ran on failed. We moved to an out side host where it performed well but we were actually kicked off the shared server because so many people were using it. Each time we had the full contents backed up but were delayed in trying to find a new location to host the large file size and heavy data transfer.

The new version of the gallery comes on a dedicated server at a dedicated hosting location. This assures fast performance and longevity; the new hardware and development was paid for by funds from our last fundraising raffle, the trip on the Edward L. Ryerson.

Feel free to upload your favorite shots – it's easy and free. We've also added a "Mystery Ship" photo gallery where the ship names have been erased. We’re asking users to identify the ship and location in the comments section.

Visit for more.

Our thanks go to the development staff of Andy Lindeman, Walter Macomber, Ken Keith and Andy Kay for their efforts in returning this feature online.


Updates - March 16

News Photo Gallery updated

Historical Perspective Galleries updated, new pictures in the Amasa Stone feature



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.


Port Reports - March 15

Milwaukee, Ill. - Ben Morgan
The cement barge Innovation and tug Samuel de Champlain departed their Milwaukee, Wisc., lay-up dock on Friday night. The tug and barge sailed down the lake to Waukegan, Ill.

Detroit, Mich. - Steve Clifford
Alpena was upbound on Saturday afternoon after departing winter lay-up in Cleveland at 8:30 a.m. Saturday morning. She is headed to her namesake port to load cement for Chicago.

Port Colborne, Ont. - Hans Urban
Canadian Olympic departed lay-up in Port Colborne, Ont., at 11:30 a.m. Saturday, following the CCG icebreaker Samuel Risley through the ice field heading to Goderich.

Halifax, NS. - Mac Mackay
Atlantic Superior (registered in Nassau, Bahamas) arrived in Halifax Saturday to load gypsum, passing the Novadock floating drydock where fleetmate Atlantic Erie is in refit.


BoatNerd Tops 15 Million

3/15 - Some time Friday 15,000,000 visits had been recorded to the main page of the Great Lakes & Seaway Shipping home page. The counter was started as the page was launched in 1995.

It is interesting to note that the first month the page was live in 1995, 590 visits were recorded. This counter was started as the page was launched in 1995 and topped one million visits in October 2000, two million in November 2001, three million in September, 2002, four million in June, 2003, five million in February, 2004, six million in October, 2004, seven million in June, 2005, eight million in December, 2005, 9 million in June, 2006, 10 million in November 2006, 11 million in May 2007, 12 million in November, 2007, 13 million in April 2008, 14 million in October 2008

The site represents a huge time commitment by the staff of volunteers and we would like to thank to all the viewers and contributors for making the web site what it is today.

In 2006, Great Lakes & Seaway Shipping Online, Inc. was organized as a 501 (c) (3) non-profit to support the BoatNerd site.


Updates - March 15

News Photo Gallery updated

Historical Perspective Galleries updated, new pictures in the Amasa Stone feature


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.



Maine-based icebreaker headed to the Great Lakes

3/14 - A Maine-based U.S. Coast Guard cutter leaves this Sunday to assist in icebreaking operations in the Great Lakes.

The Rockland-based Thunder Bay (WTGB 108), a 140-foot icebreaking tug similar to others now in service on the Great Lakes, will be working in an area from Duluth, Minn., to Alexandria Bay, N.Y., where colder-than-normal temperatures created predictions of a high volume of ice this spring.

Meanwhile, next week the United States Coast Guard will start breaking ice in Whitefish Bay and the Upper St Marys River in preparation for the 2009 shipping season. Icebreaking operations will extend from Whitefish Bay to Detour.

The U.S. Coast Guard Cutters initially involved will be the Mackinaw based out of Cheboygan, the Biscayne Bay out of St. Ignace, and the Katmai Bay home ported in Sault Ste Marie.

The three cutters spent Thursday breaking out the lower river between Detour and Neebish Island. Friday morning the cutters got under way upbound to escort the Algosar into Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. Mackinaw led the way followed by the Biscayne Bay and Katmai Bay. Biscayne Bay took the lead as the convoy passed through the upbound channel off Johnson Point. About 10 a.m. the Katmai Bay handed off the Algosar to the Mackinaw and then returned to work the lower river. Biscayne Bay and Mackinaw finished their escort and docked at the Soo Coast Guard base. Katmai Bay stopped for the night at Lime Island.

Mackinaw is expected to lock through on Monday to the upper St Marys River and prepare tracks in Whitefish Bay.

The work is part of Operation Spring Breakout, an icebreaking operation facilitating navigation to meet the reasonable demands of commerce on the Great Lakes. Operations Coal Shovel and Taconite, two major operations conducted during the icebreaking season, ensure the most efficient movement of vessels through the entire Great Lakes.

As part of Taconite and under the control of Coast Guard Sector Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., Operation Spring Breakout encompasses Lake Superior, the St. Marys River, the Straits of Mackinac, Lake Michigan and northern Lake Huron. Coal Shovel encompasses southern Lake Huron, St. Clair/Detroit River systems, and Lakes Erie and Ontario, and includes the St. Lawrence Seaway.

"Despite the slow economy and late sailing of ships, the Coast Guard is still going forth with ice breaking operations in preparation for the opening of the Sault Ste. Marie locks, scheduled for March 25," said Mark Gill, director of Vessel Traffic Service, Sector Sault Ste. Marie.

U.S. Coast Guard; The Associated Press


Escanaba to load first cargo on Monday

3/14 - The Great Lakes Trader is set to load pellets at the Escanaba, Mich., ore dock on Monday for Indiana Harbor, Ind.

Lee Rowe


Crews successfully raise tugboat from Black River

3/14 - The tugboat Gotham has been hoisted out of the Black River, and water has been pumped out.

It is now floating on its own with pumps continuing to clear water from it. The Coast Guard is trying to determine what caused it to start taking on water and sinking. The boat has been sitting partially sunk in the Black River west of the 10th Street Bridge since Monday evening.

More than 50 gathered on the 13th Street boat dock to watch as a crane lifted the boat from the water.

Weather conditions and a strong current in the Black River have hindered attempts to remove the boat from the water.

Port Huron Times Herald


Ballast water research center gets federal funding

3/14 - Milwaukee, Wis. – The fight to protect the Great Lakes from the next unwanted invasive species picked up some federal funding this week.

President Barack Obama signed a bill Wednesday that will provide nearly $1 million to fund ongoing work at a ballast water research center on the shore of Lake Superior.

The Great Ships Initiative is a cooperative program managed by the University of Wisconsin-Superior and the Northeast-Midwest Institute, a bipartisan, nonprofit research organization based in Washington, D.C.

The funding comes at a critical time. Great Lakes states, including Wisconsin and Minnesota, are in the process of adopting their own ballast regulations to stop overseas vessels from discharging contaminated ballast water into the world's largest freshwater system.

Ship-steadying ballast water has been blamed for the introduction of dozens of species since the St. Lawrence Seaway opened the lakes to oceangoing freighters a half-century ago.

The center evaluates treatment systems that could be use to kill unwanted ballast dwellers.

Ballast water is considered a global problem, and treatment systems using things such as filtration, ultraviolet irradiation, ozone and chemicals are being developed. The problem for the Great Lakes is figuring out how such systems will work in the freshwater environment.

That is exactly the kind of work the new funding will go toward.

"This is the only ballast water treatment testing facility operating in the United States, and it is vital that we test ballast water treatment systems to ensure that the waters of the Great Lakes can be protected," said Minnesota Rep. James Oberstar, a Duluth Democrat who has been leading the fight against introduction of new species.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel


Updates - March 14

News Photo Gallery updated
Pointe-au-Pere Light



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.


Ice breaking efforts focus on St. Marys River

3/13 - Detour, Mich. - Thursday morning the USCG Mackinaw got underway from the Straits of Mackinac for the St. Marys River. The Biscayne Bay and Katmai Bay departed the old Detour Coal Dock and worked the lower river below Neebish Island. Mackinaw reached Detour about 10:30 a.m. and joined the two small cutters in breaking out the lower river.

Mackinaw headed upbound to break out the West Neebish channel while the smaller cutters worked the lower river helping to flush the ice out. After one pass the Mackinaw backed down the West Neebish Channel and moved to the Munuscong Channel on the other side of Neebish Island and worked on clearing the channel and Munuscong Lake throughout the afternoon.

The Biscayne Bay and Katmai Bay returned to the old Detour Coal Dock about 5 p.m. for the night. About 6:30 p.m. Mackinaw stopped for the night off Lime Island.

Henry Glass


High winds assist in ice breaking

3/13 - High winds can be an icebreaker's best friend or worst enemy. On Wednesday, they assisted in the break out of upper Green Bay. Northwesterly winds gusting as high as 57 mph at Washington Island caused a large sheet of ice in the northern portion of Green Bay to break away from the shore and start drifting into Lake Michigan.The speed of the ice field drift was estimated to be in the 15-25 knot range.

The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw had been working in the bay on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Click here for an animation of the ice breaking away.
 More ice images at this link

Lyell Moore, CIMSS, University of Wisconsin-Madison


Seaway receives first year of infrastructure renewal funding

3/13 - The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation (SLSDC) will initiate its planned 10-year program this year to modernize the infrastructure of the U.S. portion of the St. Lawrence Seaway, following President Obama’s signing of the omnibus appropriations bill to fund the federal government for the remainder of fiscal year 2009. The bill includes a total of $31.8 million for the Seaway, which serves the Great Lakes region of North America.

The enacted funding includes more than $17 million allocated to 17 projects under the Seaways Asset Renewal Program (ARP). A significant amount of the ARP funding in FY 2009 will benefit the regional economy surrounding the two U.S. locks in Massena, N.Y.

After 50 years of continuous use, the U.S. Seaway infrastructure needs significant capital investment, said U.S. SLSDC Administrator Collister Johnson, Jr. By enacting this law, President Obama and the U.S. Congress have recognized the vital importance of the St. Lawrence Seaway to the North American economy.

Over the next decade, the ARP will focus on improving aging Seaway infrastructure, conducting maintenance dredging, investing in new technologies, purchasing new equipment, and refurbishing old facilities. This will be the first time in the Seaway’s history that a coordinated effort to repair and modernize the U.S. Seaway infrastructure has taken place.

ARP also will complement the asset renewal work already underway on the Canadian portion of the St. Lawrence Seaway System. None of the ARP projects will result in increases to the authorized depth or width of the navigation channel or to the size of the existing U.S. locks.

A copy of the SLSDCs Asset Renewal Program Capital Investment Plan can be found here



Dredging of Michigan harbors set to begin next month

3/13 - Grand Haven. Mich. - Dredging in some Lake Michigan harbors in West Michigan is expected to begin early next month after Congress approved nearly $3 million in funding for harbor work.

Under a bill signed Wednesday by President Obama, $1.2 million is being set aside for dredging the Grand Haven harbor and $546,000 is slated for the Holland harbor, according to the office of U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra, R-Holland.

Other funding was approved for Muskegon, Ludington and Pentwater harbors. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has contracted with the King Co., of Holland, to do the work. The Army Corps will pay King $259,000 for Grand Haven and $195,000 for Holland, said Tom O'Bryan, area engineer for the Corps' Lake Michigan office in Grand Haven. Remaining funds likely will be used for labor, survey work and design for the harbors.

O'Bryan expects dredging on the two harbors to be completed by the end of May. The harbor will be dredged to a depth of 23 feet at Holland and 24 feet at Grand Haven, he said.

The Grand Rapids Press


Seaway radio communication frequencies announced

3/13 - With the start of the 2009 navigation season, the U.S. Seaway will conduct all Seaway radio communications in the U.S. Traffic Control Sector IV on the following channels:

Seaway Sodus (Mid-Lake Ontario to Cape Vincent) Channel 12 156.6 MHz
Seaway Clayton (Cape Vincent to Cross Over Island) Channel 13 156.65 MHz


Environmental Technologies conference coming up in Toronto

3/13 - Toronto, Ont. – The Green Marine Annual Conference on Environmental Technologies will take place in Toronto on May 20 and 21.

Almost 30 conference sessions (designed for shipowners, ports and terminals) will be held on subjects ranging from environmental management systems, to best environmental practices, to the financing of research and development, to green technologies. In addition, the technology forum will provide the promoters of new technologies with an avenue for further developing their products.

For more information click here


Updates - March 13

News Photo Gallery updated
Round Island Light
Boblo Island Light
Old Mackinaw Point Light


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.


Mackinaw heads east as icebreaking continues

3/12 - The USCG Mackinaw departed Escanaba, Mich., Wednesday morning and entered Lake Michigan eastbound about 12:30 p.m. She crossed into the Straits of Mackinac and stopped for the night about 6 miles west of the bridge.

USCG Katmai Bay and Biscayne Bay left their overnight location in the Straits and headed for the St. Marys River. They entered the lower river about 3 p.m. and were assisted by strong northwest gale winds that worked in their favor, blowing some of the shipping channel ice down and out the river.

Wednesday night the cutters docked at the old Detour Coal Dock under a moonlit sky over the still frozen St Marys River.

Fred Stone and Cathy Kohring


Dirty Jobs films at Soo Locks

3/12 - Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. – The dirty job of working on the Soo Locks is the latest career choice featured on the Emmy-nominated show “Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe.” The creator, executive producer and host, Mike Rowe and crew arrived Tuesday and intend on spending Wednesday filming at the locks.

The arrival of the Discovery Channel star has really seemed to set Sault Ste. Marie abuzz. In an impromptu press conference held yesterday at the Locks, Rowe admitted he didn’t really know exactly what his “dirty job” would entail at the locks, but seemed confident in whatever the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers might throw at him.

Rowe said that with most of the jobs seen on the show he usually has no idea what he is or may be doing. For the past five years, the hit show has featured almost every kind of job — from Road Kill Collector to Field Tester for “shark suits.”

Around this area, his most famous show might be the “Mackinac Bridge, light changer.” Rowe said he had suggested the idea as a joke — never dreaming they would actually let him do it. However, as many viewers witnessed, he did, in fact, scale the Mighty Mac to the very top and switched out a burnt out bulb. Some may also remember his segment as an “Island Horse Keeper,” shoveling horse manure off Mackinac Island streets.

Rowe seemed to genuinely realize how important the show coming to a small town like Sault Ste. Marie is for the members of the community. Places that are out of the way and very far away from Hollywood seem to have started off as a tough sell for a television program, but the popularity of the show has sent a message that what viewers want to see are real people: Real people doing sometimes the unthinkable. Roach farmer, Sludge Remover, Waste Engineer, and Dirt Sterilizer come to mind.

Although it is not yet known when the Soo Locks episode will air, it is sure to be another big hit for the people in the area.

Sault Ste. Marie Evening News


Lake Erie ice floe rescue exceeded $265K

3/12 - Port Clinton, Ohio – Wednesday the U.S. Coast Guard released the cost of the mass rescue of ice fishermen on Feb. 7.

The cost — including air boat, 58 Coast Guard personnel (not including air crews), helicopters and one C-130 aircraft — amounted to $245,186.

Add to that the local costs of $20,000 and the total exceeds $265,000, said Ottawa County Sheriff Bob Bratton.

Sandusky Register


Welland Canal bridge automation continues

3/12 - Port Colborne, Ont. - Work will continue next Tuesday and Thursday on the automation of several bridges spanning the Welland Canal.

On March 17 St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp. will be testing operation of the Main Street bridge. On March 19 it will be testing operation of the Mellanby Street bridge.

The testing is required for programmable logic circuits recently installed in the bridges, devices used for the remote lowering and raising of the bridges, said seaway corporation spokesman Andrew Bogora.

Testing both days will occur from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. During that time, motorists and pedestrians should expect long delays.

In the meantime, Bogora said work being done at the Clarence Street bridge is expected to be completed by Friday or next Monday.

The Queenston Street bridge in St. Catharines will be closed to traffic from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. next Tuesday for major maintenance work.

Welland Tribune


Port Reports - March 12

Toronto, Ont. - Charlie Gibbons
The tug Diver III and barge were working in Toronto Harbor Tuesday. The Royal Canadian Yacht Club's tender Elsie D. also made its spring debut. The Stephen B. Roman, normally the first ship out each season, will begin fitting out in a week or so.


Man reportedly survives plunge over Niagara Falls

3/12 - Niagara Falls, Ont. - A man has survived a plunge over Niagara Falls, clinging to a log long enough for a private helicopter to create a current that pushed him to safety, according to reports.

Investigators tell a Buffalo television station, WGRZ, that the victim was semiconscious when he was rescued and was taken to a hospital in Niagara Falls, Canada. His condition was not immediately known.

While investigators were not yet calling the leap a suicide attempt, they say the man did enter the water on his own. Authorities got a call from a witness telling them a man had jumped into the Horseshoe Falls, as the Canadian Falls are known. A short time later, he was seen near the base of the falls, clinging to a log.

A private helicopter from Niagara Falls Helicopter was called in and got within 10 feet of the victim. Wind from the chopper's blades forced enough of a current to push him closer to shore where rescuers could get to him.

The last person known to survive a plunge over the falls was Kirk Jones, a former auto parts salesman from Michigan who climbed down a small embankment and jumped into the Niagara River on Oct. 20, 2003. Jones said he had been depressed and had been drinking when he went over the famous falls on the Canadian side, a drop of 180 feet.

At least 17 people — not including suicide attempts — are known to have gone over the falls. Niagara Falls consists of three waterfalls: the American Falls, Horseshoe Falls and Bridal Veil Falls.


Time to make Badger Boatnerd Gathering Cruise reservations

3/12 - On Saturday, May 30, 2009, 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 29, 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 includes a Continental breakfast on Saturday morning and may offer pilothouse and engine room tours on Friday evening.

See the Boatnerd Gathering Page for complete details and sign up form. Reservations must be received no later than May 9. Don’t miss out on this fun gathering.


Detroit River/River Rouge Boatnerd Cruise planned for August 8

3/12 - On Saturday, August 8, we will repeat the popular Boatnerd Detroit River Cruise aboard the Friendship, with Captain Sam Buchanan. This year’s cruise will be four (4) hours and will go up the Detroit River, and hopefully into the Rouge River. Pizza lunch will be delivered by the J. W. Westcott mail boat. Cost is just $30.00 per person, same price as last year.

The cruise will depart at 10:00 a.m. sharp from Portofino's On The River in Wyandotte, MI.

Click here for information on all the 2009 Boatnerd Gatherings


Updates - March 12

Round Island Light
Boblo Island Light
Old Mackinaw Point Light


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, with 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.


Mackinaw’s spring icebreaking job continues

3/11 - The USCG Mackinaw got under way about 9 a.m. Tuesday morning after spending the night in Green Bay northwest of Washington Island. She headed down the bay of Green Bay and appeared to be working in the Sturgeon Bay area. She headed upbound later that afternoon and by 6 p.m. was heading for Escanaba.

USCG Katmai Bay departed the Soo Tuesday morning and joined the cutter Biscayne Bay in track maintenance in the Straits of Mackinac, west of the bridge.

Greg Miller


Duluth break out begins

3/11 - Duluth, Minn. - The Coast Guard began breaking ice in the ports of Duluth and Superior on Tuesday morning in preparation for the 2009 shipping season.

The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Alder began ice breaking operations in the waters of the Duluth Harbor out to Lake Superior. This will include ice covered areas normally used by recreational users such as Superior Front Channel, Superior and Duluth Harbor Basins, East Gate, the Entry Channels into Duluth and Superior Harbor and the ice in Lake Superior adjacent to Minnesota Point.

These icebreaking efforts will expand and increase in frequency as the ice and demands of shipping require. This will include all navigable waters in and around the ports of Duluth and Superior, as well as the waters of Silver Bay, Taconite Harbor and Two Harbors in Minnesota.

Superior Telegram


Conflicting ballast rules confuse Great Lakes shipping agents

3/11 - Duluth, Minn. – The first ships of the season will head to the Twin Ports after the St. Lawrence Seaway system opens March 25 – but it’s not clear if all of them will be ready to comply with new environmental regulations.

Last September, Minnesota took the lead among states in enacting ballast water regulations for ships on the Great Lakes. Wisconsin followed last month with rules of its own.

While the two states share the waters of Lake Superior, their plans to thwart invasive species are very different.

“All of our [saltwater ship owners] are wondering what the hell is going on. They think the states around the Great Lakes have lost their minds,’’ said Chuck Hilleren, president of Guthrie Hubner shipping agents in Duluth.

“It’s just insanity to have all these different rules for Minnesota and Wisconsin and Michigan and New York… and it couldn’t have come at a worse time with the economy.”

Others agreed.

“Confusion is an understatement. It’s a mess,” said Glen Nekvasil, a vice president of the Lakes Carriers Association, which represents all U.S.-owned ships on the Great Lakes.

He went on to lambast government policies that regulate lake vessels the same as salt water ships.

“Our boats don’t leave the Great Lakes. We have never introduced a single invasive species to the lakes,” he said.

Minnesota Pollution Control Agency officials dispute that, saying ballast from lakers is a likely cause for the migration of foreign species from the eastern Great Lakes to Lake Superior. The Twin Ports’ harbor receives nearly as much ballast discharge as all other Great Lakes ports combined — 5.8 billion gallons in 2007 alone, according to federal records. Of that discharge, about 95 percent is from lakers, said John Thomas, pollution control specialist for the PCA in Duluth.

“If we only regulated saltwater ships, we would be regulating only a tiny fraction of the ballast that’s coming in,” Thomas said.

Minnesota’s law already requires ships to have permits to enter state waters. So far, about 127 ships have applied for permits and 93 have been granted, most of them Great Lakes freighters.

Those that have yet to apply, said Thomas, are mostly foreign-owned salties that visit only occasionally. Thomas said he’s working through shipping agents and others to get the word out and get permits in hand to avoid confrontations when ships arrive.

“We don’t want to surprise anyone,” he said.

Minnesota’s new ballast regulations essentially are based on standards being adopted by the International Maritime Organization — rules backed by shipping interests and viewed as realistic and achievable.

Nekvasil said he expects all lakers to comply with Minnesota’s regulations — at least this year.

“The problem comes in 2016 when we’re supposed to install technology that doesn’t even exist yet,” he said. “We still believe Minnesota’s regulation, as it stands now, will shut down shipping on the Great Lakes in 2016.”

Wisconsin’s plan, however, has much stricter standards, though it covers far fewer ships; Great Lakes freighters, the vast majority of lakes traffic, aren’t included yet.

The Wisconsin regulations are similar to California’s, which are the toughest in the nation and 1,000 times more restrictive on the amount of living organisms allowed after ballast tanks are treated.

Complicating matters are Michigan and New York, which have regulations different than those of Minnesota and Wisconsin. The differing state rules probably will mean continued confusion for ship owners unless Congress or the federal Environmental Protection Agency step in with uniform federal standards.

That may be happening. In a groundbreaking comment, newly appointed EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson late last month said the agency may review its regulations to require ships to treat ballast water. It’s a reversal of Bush administration policies unveiled only last year that required ships merely try to avoid moving foreign species.

Congressional action is stalled with a House bill would have the Coast Guard run ballast treatment programs while a Senate plan where Democrats want the EPA and the federal Clean Water Act to be the regulatory authority for ballast.

Duluth News Tribune


Tug Gotham sinking in the Black River at Port Huron

3/11 - Port Huron, Mich. Workers are continuing to pump water out of a tugboat partially sunk in the Black River.

U.S. Coast Guard Sector Detroit Petty Officer 1st Class Loran Tong said the rain and runoff are working against their efforts on the tug Gotham by increasing the current and making it more difficult to empty the boat.

Port Huron Fire Chief Robert Eick said enough pumps have been placed on the boat to pump out between 1,500 and 2,000 gallons per minute.

Crews responded to the boat just west of the 10th Street Bridge about 7:15 p.m. Monday.

Along with trying to empty the vessel, workers are placing booms around it to contain fuel spilling into the river.

Bob McCann, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, said they have assessed the spill and haven’t had any concerns about it affecting drinking water.

The owner reported as much as 500 gallons of diesel fuel could have been in the boat.

Port Huron Times Herald


Spring Icebreaking on the Saguenay River

3/11 - Quebec City, Que. - The Canadian Coast Guard ship Des Groseilliers is expected to begin spring icebreaking operations along the Saguenay Fjord on March 16.

The purpose of this annual operation is to break-up the ice in the Saguenay and at the entrances of the tributaries in order to prevent ice jams and flooding that can result from the spring thaw.

Canadian Coast Guard


Saginaw Bay ice storms beachfront homes

3/11 - Saginaw, Mich. – Authorities evacuated residents from 36 homes beaches on Lake Huron’s Saginaw Bay late Sunday night as a combination of wind and rotting ice cause massive mountains of ice to push up against homes – and in some case through windows. Michigan State Police said some homes had ice nearly 12 feet deep inside.

"It was like the perfect storm," Linwood resident Karolyn Chicky said. "Friday was sunny and warm. Saturday it rained all day and Sunday had 30 mile-an-hour winds coming from the northeast."

Officials said the ice was moving 20 feet every half-hour from Sunday afternoon into early Monday morning.

At this point, police have reported no injuries or extensive property damage.

Evacuees were asked to shut off power before leaving.



Updates - March 11

News 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 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.


St. Marys Conqu Wallace


Icebreaker Mackinaw on the move

3/10 - Even though predictions are bleak for this shipping season, the winter break out of Escanaba and Green Bay got off to a normal start on Monday.

USCG Mackinaw departed Cheboygan, Mich., at 9 a.m. Monday morning heading to break out Escanaba and Green Bay. The USCG Biscayne Bay departed St. Ignace, Mich., at the same time and headed west into the Straits of Mackinac. Shortly before 1 p.m. the Mackinaw turned west of the bridge into the entrance of Gray’s Reef Passage. She then headed east a few miles past White Shoal, turned westbound again continuing on for Escanaba. Biscayne Bay continued making passes west of the bridge throughout the afternoon. Her efforts were concentrated in the area between White Shoal and 6 miles east along the shipping lanes. She stopped for the night about 7 p.m.

About 8 p.m., the Mackinaw entered the Rock Island passage, the entrance to the bay of Green Bay from Lake Michigan. She stopped for the night north west of Washington Island a short time later. Tuesday morning the Mackinaw got underway, heading downbound on Green Bay.

Local media reported last week that ice breaking was to begin over the weekend in the St. Marys River, however as of Monday evening there has been no ice breaking in the St. Marys.

Greg Miller


Port Reports - March 10

Nanticoke, Ont. - Hans Urban
Monday morning Canadian Coast Guard Ship Samuel Risley was breaking a track for Algoeast. She loaded at the Esso Dock in Nanticoke. Risley escorted Algoeast across Lake Erie; the pair reached South East Shoal about 8 p.m. with the USCG Bristol Bay falling in behind from Cleveland. Bistol Bay stop for the night in western Lake Erie.



Updates - March 10

News Photo Gallery updated

Historical Perspective Galleries updated with new pictures in the Amasa Stone feature

Weekly Updates


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.


Tug Prentiss Brown upbound on Lake Michigan

3/9 - The tug Prentiss Brown, former Michaela McAllister, was upbound on Lake Michigan Sunday morning. The tug departed Milwaukee on Saturday. The Brown entered the lakes in July 2008 and went to Bay Shipbuilding in Sturgeon Bay, Wisc. for refit. In February the tug arrived in Milwaukee, Wisc., to mate up with the barge St. Marys Conquest.

The tug and barge were heading to load in Charlevoix, Mich.


Discovery Channel’s “Dirty Jobs” to visit Upper Peninsula

3/9 - Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. - It’s a dirty job, but someone has to do it. And that someone just happens to have a camera crew in tow.

Mike Rowe, the star of The Discovery Channel’s “Dirty Jobs,” will be visiting three Upper Peninsula worksites next week — including a swing through Sault Ste. Marie to experience maintenance in the Soo Locks with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Executive Director Linda Hoath, of the Sault Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, confirmed the crew’s itinerary would include a stop in Sault Ste. Marie with the latest word from the west coast indicating the visitors should arrive here sometime on Monday.

Hoath said the idea was pitched during Rowe’s last visit to the area when he scaled the Mackinac Bridge and performed other duties associated with the state’s most notable landmark for a show that aired back in August of 2007.

Hoath said Rowe’s 2009 Upper Peninsula visit is tentatively scheduled for stops in Mackinac Island and over by Escanaba, but she naturally centered most of her enthusiasm around the Sault Ste. Marie visit.

“It will provide recognition for Sault Ste. Marie and the Soo Locks,” said Hoath, predicting good things from the national exposure for the region.

Hoath said the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau will send a gift to Rowe’s motel room during his stay in Sault Ste. Marie: “to welcome him to this historic city.”

The ‘Working Man’s Basket’ will contain gloves, heavy winter socks, a bottle of wine and a big sweatshirt bearing the Sault Ste. Marie name and logo.

Soo Evening News


2 anglers rescued from Lake Erie ice floe

3/9 - Simcoe, Ont. - Two ice fishermen, oblivious to the fact the ice on which they were fishing had broken free from shore, were plucked safely from Lake Erie, police said.

Ontario Provincial Police said the men had been inside their fish house for several hours off Long Point Bay near Simcoe, Ontario, Friday. When they went outside they heard sirens sounding on shore and came to realize it was an attempt to get their attention, CanWest News Service reported Saturday.

A snowmobiler had rescued two other anglers but a helicopter was called in to rescue the other two men, ages 29 and 54, about 6 p.m.

"There were several fishermen out in ice huts fishing throughout the day and as the ice started to break up they started coming in," provincial police Constable Mark Foster said. "But there were a few that were unaware that the ice was breaking up and that the ice they were sitting on had separated from the main ice pack connected to shore."

Foster said with recent warm temperatures the ice fishing season on Lake Erie is "all done."


Great Lakes lighthouses featured in The Detroit News

3/9 - The Detroit News featured lighthouses of the Great Lakes in the Sunday paper.  Click here to view


Updates - March 9

News Photo Gallery updated

Historical Perspective Galleries updated with new pictures in the Amasa Stone feature

Weekly Updates


Today in Great Lakes History - March 9

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.


U.S. Steel consolidations continue

3/8 - U.S. Steel is consolidating all of its steelmaking at plants in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Fairfield, Alabama; and Gary, Indiana.

U.S. Steel will continue to concentrate production at its Mon Valley Works outside of Pittsburgh; Gary Works in Gary, Ind.; and Fairfield Works near Birmingham, Ala., the company said.

Its recent decision to idle Lake Erie Works, in Nanticoke, Ont., a plant widely viewed as one of the most efficient in North America, surprised many in the industry.

"It's not just about the efficiency of the plant, it's about the efficiency of the overall system in terms of the transporting steel in different forms during the process," said U.S. Steel spokesperson Chuck Rice. "In terms of the travel logistics of rail and so on, well these three plants are the most efficient in that way.

Meanwhile, U.S. Steel moved forward last week with plans to idle Lake Erie Works and also Hamilton Steel, in Hamilton, Ont. indefinitely due to the economic down turn.

In a memo to employees, the company outlined steps to shutter the Lake Erie blast furnace in Nanticoke by next week. Once the final batches of steel are processed in Nanticoke and Hamilton, those facilities will go down as well, the memo states.

Only the coke ovens in Lake Erie will continue to function.

During the fourth quarter, U.S. Steel cut its work force by 4,200 in North America, where it employs some 27,000 people.


Ice breaking to begin in Escanaba area

3/8 - Escanaba, Mich. - Ice breaking will begin soon in the Escanaba area. Coast Guard cutter Mackinaw will enter Green Bay at Rock Island Passage this week and conduct ice breaking operations along Lake Carriers Association track lines north of a line between Peshtigo, Wis., and Sherwood Point.

Ice breaking will include activities in and around Escanaba, Sturgeon Bay, Wis., and Marinette/Menominee.

Recreational users of the ice should plan their activities carefully, use caution near the ice and stay away from shipping channels and the charted LCA track lines.

Escanaba Daily Press


Reduction in shipping means less work for pilots

3/8 - Port Huron, Mich. – Great Lakes shipping experts say a poor economy – which means less demand for goods – will mean area residents will see fewer freighters on Lake Huron and the St. Clair River.

That spells potential trouble for boat watchers and local boat pilots, who depend on the local shipping channels for leisure and employment.

Glen Nekvasil, vice president of the Lake Carriers Association, which represents 16 companies with 63 ships on the Great Lakes, said with many industries – such as steel mills on reduced productions or closing – traffic will be reduced.

He said that's because freighters "do not make demand, they meet demand."

Nekvasil said he couldn't predict what percentage drop is in store, but said to expect a decrease.

"There are going to be less ships operating this year," he said. "A number of ships do not have sail dates this year."

Dan Gallagher is the president of Port Huron-based Lakes Pilots Association, a company that provides pilots to freighters making their way from the eastern edge of Lake Erie to Lake Huron – including the eight-hour trip from Detroit to Port Huron.

The association employs 12 pilots, four dispatchers, two secretaries and four pilot boat operators who transport pilots to the freighters.

Gallagher said the association is operated similar to a law firm – in which the pilots act as partners who divvy up the revenue – but does not expect layoffs.

Still, he said "there will be less revenue because there will be fewer boats to pilot."

Gallagher said he expects a 5 percent dip in revenue from last year, which itself "wasn't a real good year."

Port Huron Times Herald


Updates - March 8

News Photo Gallery updated


Today in Great Lakes History - March 8

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.


Icebreaking to start at Duluth on Tuesday

3/7 - Duluth, Minn. – The U.S. Coast Guard cutter Alder is scheduled to begin breaking ice in Duluth-Superior harbor on Tuesday, the U.S. Coast Guard has announced. After working the harbor, the cutter will venture onto Lake Superior. As the shipping season nears, it will break out the North Shore ports of Two Harbors, Silver Bay and Taconite Harbor, Minn. Duluth-Superior harbor has been well-covered with ice this winter but recent mild weather and rain appears to be starting to work on the ice. Runoff from the St. Louis River usually helps rot the harbor ice. Western Lake Superior has been largely free of ice this winter but has acquired a covering in the past couple weeks. However, ice forming this late in the season is thin and will break up quickly.

James R. Barker, laid up at Midwest Energy Terminal, is most likely to be the first commercial vessel in operation. The Duluth Shipping News reports the James R. Barker will load coal and depart on March 17. The Barker will likely return for two more short trips to Marquette, Mich., before the Soo Locks open on March 25.

In years past, the Interlake vessel wintering at the energy terminals dock has gone into service before the Soo Locks open to haul two or three cargoes of coal to power plants in Silver Bay, Taconite Harbor and Marquette.

How many other vessels may enter service this spring is unclear. The CN/DMIR ore dock in Duluth has a sizeable stockpile of taconite pellets but little limestone.

However, most of the Iron Range taconite plants are idle, running at reduced rates or have shutdowns scheduled, so few ore carriers are likely to enter service when the season opens. In the early 1980s the last time the steel industry endured widespread shutdowns the fleets ran few ore boats out of the Twin Ports, but Midwest Energy Terminal remained relatively busy. However, even the coal-for-electricity business was reduced because power plants on the lower lakes needed to generate less power because auto plants and steel mills were closed or running at reduced capacity.

The Lee A. Tregurtha is scheduled to depart on March 23 with the Edward L. Ryerson on April 2.

Al Miller and Duluth Shipping News


ArcelorMittal Cleveland closing mill and finishing plant

3/7 - Cleveland, Ohio - ArcelorMittal Cleveland said Friday that it will halt operations at its mill and finishing plant in the Flats area in early May, suspending jobs for about 950 steelworkers and leaving the fates of about 200 salaried employees uncertain.

The plant, which employed more than 1,400 members United Steelworkers of America Local 979 as recently as last summer, will have around 250 employees providing basic fire watch and maintaining the water treatment, boiler and environmental systems, according to a written statement from the facility's spokeswoman.

Local 979 President Mark Granakis said he had expected the company to cut workers further this month or next, "but I never thought there was going to be this severe a reduction. I realize the economy's hurting. I don't think they're laying people off because they want to, but it is hard."

It was unclear Friday how long it might be before the plant begins producing steel again.

Worldwide orders for the flat-rolled steel products the plant makes dried up suddenly last fall. Luxembourg-based ArcelorMittal, is the world's largest steel maker, shut down the two blast furnaces the plant uses to make steel. Only rolled-steel galvanizing and finishing lines continued operating, though only a fraction of their capacity.

By December, the Cleveland plant had laid off 450 union workers and said in late February that it would reassign a third of its 300 salaried workers to other company installations. The company at the time declined to answer questions about what would happen to the remaining 200 salaried employees.

In interviews last month, plant managers as well as union officials said more members of USW Local 979 would get layoff notices in the coming weeks.

"There's not much else they can do," said Granakis said at the time. "We have practically no orders now. We think, we hope, they'll pick up by the end of the year and everybody will be back at work."

The company has said that by acting quickly to cut costs at its production facilities scattered from India to China, Europe to North America, it can be prepared to make steel profitably when the economy improves and orders begin to materialize.

ArcelorMittal said it would keep global production at about 55 percent of capacity. It referred to the job situation in Cleveland as an "indefinite layoff of an unspecified number of employees."

A portion of the Steelworkers would be eligible for unemployment compensation that the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services distributes as well as some union benefits.

In announcing the job cuts today, company communications manager Mary Beth Holdford said: "This was a difficult decision to make, but the company is being forced to respond to the extraordinary economic environment we are facing. We will be carefully monitoring the situation, and we look forward to many of our employees returning to work as soon as it is warranted by market conditions."

The announcement also said the company "will continue to work with the United Steelworkers to minimize the impact on our employees and their families."

On Wednesday, the company began idling its Georgetown mill in South Carolina for the second time since December, putting about 240 workers out of their jobs. ArcelorMittal's statement about that closing said it will cease operations "for a short period."

U.S. Steel Corp. said this week it is shutting its Lorain Tubular Steel Operations for at least two weeks, laying off about 77 employees.

Granakis was waiting Friday for an official notice from the plant manager that the plant would shut down in 60 days and lay off all but the maintenance and safety crew. "We're still negotiating over how many will be on the job to keep things safe," he said.

He added, "We know how many it takes because we did all this before."

That was in 2001, when LTV Steel went out of business and closed the same facility that ArcelorMittal now owns.

Cleveland Plain Dealer


Sandusky Coal Dock fire won't affect ability to load freighters

3/7 - Sandusky, Ohio – Wednesday night's fire that damaged two conveyors at the Sandusky Coal Dock will not affect the dock's ability to load freighters when the lake shipping season resumes later this month, a railroad spokesman said.

Norfolk Southern spokesman Rudy Husband said the coal dock could still operate with two of its eight conveyors out of service.

The coal dock is owned by Norfolk Southern railway.

The two conveyors damaged in the blaze move coal from stock piles to freighters, Husband said. He did not know how long it would take to repair those two units. "That hasn't been determined," Husband said.

All coal dock employees will continue working while repairs are made, he said.

Sandusky fire investigators Thursday were still determining the cause of the blaze, Capt. Jeff Ferrell said.

A resident who spotted flames at the coal dock reported the fire at 9:31 p.m., and firefighters remained on scene for three hours. The flames extended three stories high and 100 feet north of the damaged conveyors, Ferrell said.

The conveyor belts are part of a giant steel tower called a car dumper, which can also load coal by lifting railroad cars and emptying them directly into freighters.

The Sandusky Dock has been in operation for about a century and at one time operated three car dumpers at once.

The structure that caught fire is known as the No. 3 dock, and its dumper was built in the 1930s. Two earlier car dumpers were torn down decades ago.

Sandusky Register.


Chicago sees a bright future for Lake Michigan lighthouse

3/7 - Chicago, Ill. – Though many Chicago attractions are near Lake Michigan or boast of being "on the lake," a newly acquired property the city is considering for a museum can go one better: It's actually in the lake.

The Chicago Harbor Lighthouse, a 48-foot structure that was granted landmark status in 2003, was transferred to the city for free last week by the U.S. Coast Guard under the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act.

The lighthouse is one of 46 nationwide to be transferred. The act stipulates that new owners "must make the station available for education, park, recreation, cultural or historic preservation purposes for the general public."

It already is an icon that appears on postcards, and with its location and significance in maritime history it could be a popular attraction for Chicagoans and tourists, city officials said.

"Our first step is to develop a plan to create a publicly accessible museum," said Nelson Chueng, a coordinating planner for the city's Zoning and Land Use Planning Division. But the lighthouse actually operating as a museum is two or three years away, he said, and it must be determined which city department will be in charge.

"It has a unique character and attribute," Chueng said. "We want to make it publicly accessible, but getting there is problematic. It wasn't meant for general public use. The water is very turbulent out there. We have to work out a safe way to get there. We probably have to build a dock."

Exactly what might be displayed in a museum is unclear, but the goal would be to inform the public "about the important role Chicago, Navy Pier and Lake Michigan have played in maritime history," said Karen Bates, spokeswoman for the Zoning and Land Use Planning Department.

The original Chicago Harbor Lighthouse was built in 1832 to mark the harbor as activity was rapidly increasing on the lake. It was decommissioned in the 1850s and two more were built in different locations as Chicago became the nation's busiest port, connecting the East Coast, the Great Lakes and the Gulf Coast.

Anticipating an influx of travelers for the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition, a 48-foot lighthouse was built with steel plates and lined with brick. On top was a 10-sided cast-iron lantern, and living space was built in to eliminate the need for a separate keeper's dwelling. Its height allowed spectacular views of the city's developing lakefront and skyline.

The tower was renovated and moved to a more strategic location east of Navy Pier in 1917. A fog-signal room and a boathouse were added on opposite sides. The lighthouse, the only one in the city, still flashes a red beacon but became automated in 1979.

It was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1984 and is featured in a relief sculpture titled "The Spirit of the Waters" near the LaSalle Street entrance to City Hall.

"Anything connected to maritime history in Chicago is important," said Jim Peters, president of Landmarks Illinois, a private organization. "There's not much left. I can't imagine a city on the water that wouldn't try to preserve its lighthouse. It's critical to the image and history of the city.

"My point is just how lucky we are that it survived. When the average person thinks of a landmark, what do they think of? They think of postcards. If you go on a postcard rack you will find postcards of Buckingham Fountain, Wrigley Field, the Chicago Harbor Lighthouse. These are the iconic symbols of the city."

Peters is happy to see the city take ownership.

"I don't know what the plans are for using it," he said. "I have heard different things—that they may be leasing it as a restaurant or bed and breakfast."

Chueng said it's "too early to speculate about that. Our first objective is to preserve and protect," he said. "If we can make a small part of it a cafe, that's possible, but we're not sure how feasible that is. I don't want to say yes or no."

Chicago Tribune


Today in Great Lakes History - March 7

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.


U.S. Steel: Lorain plant to remain idled indefinitely

3/6 - Lorain, Ohio – The U.S. Steel plant in Lorain will remain idle until further notice, according to a company spokeswoman.

U.S. Steel officials announced in December that the Lorain Tubular Operations plant would have a nine-day shutdown — March 1 to 9 — due to decreased demand and the struggling economy, but officials have decided to keep the plant closed until market conditions permit reopening.

“These are difficult decisions we’re making, but they are a necessary response to current conditions,” spokeswoman Erin DiPietro said. “We can’t speculate when market conditions will allow us to return from being idle.”

Although the plant will not be operational, some employees will report to work to keep the plant in working condition.

“Certain functions have to be maintained to make sure there’s a safe and effective return to service,” she said.

DiPietro would not comment on how many workers would be affected, but the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services is reporting on its Web site that 77 employees will be laid off due to the shutdown.

U.S. Steel is required to notify ODJFS about impending layoffs through the Worker Adjustment Retraining Notification Act.

Lorain Mayor Tony Krasienko said he was informed last month that the nine-day shutdown would be extended when he and the city auditor were trying to get an accurate picture of what city revenue would be from the plant.

“Part of this is anticipated downtime,” he said.

He said plant officials informed him the plant could go through a few periods this year where it opens and closes depending on production orders.

“A lot of it is order-dependent,” he said. “If we continue to see gas prices under $2, orders will continue to be slow. The pipe end is very dependent on natural gas and the oil industry, so if we’re not drilling for oil, orders are going to be low.”

The United Steelworkers Local 1104 represents about 600 workers at the Tubular Operations plant. Neither union President Don Golden nor vice president Dan Voorhees returned several phone messages seeking comment Wednesday night.

The Lorain Chronicle-Telegram


Corps to dredge Detroit River, harbors beginning this spring

3/6 - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Detroit District, has announced that it has awarded a Michigan company a contract to dredge the lower Detroit River beginning in June.

Luedtke Engineering, from Frankfort, Michigan, was awarded a $1.38 million contract to remove 208,000 cubic yards of dredged material from the Detroit River’s east outer navigation channel, leading into Lake Erie.

Dredging should begin in early June and continue through mid-summer.

“This work will help ensure that shipping lanes remain open and able to support the economy and the large number of commercial vessels, which pass up and down the Detroit River,” said Mike O’Bryan, the Detroit District’s Chief of Engineering and Technical Services Division.

The shoaled material dredged will be placed in the nearby Pte Mouille Confined Disposal Facility, which is located in Lake Erie near the mouth of the Detroit River.

Meanwhile, the Corps has announced that it has awarded contracts totaling $1.44 million to a pair of Michigan companies to dredge five harbors in the Great Lakes.

The five harbors will be: the outer portions of the St Joseph, Grand Haven and Holland harbors along with Ontonagon Harbor and Ludington Harbor. Dredging will begin this spring.

Michigan-based The King Co, Inc. of Holland was awarded three contracts, totaling $1.05 million. King will dredge four harbors: St Joseph, Ludington, Grand Haven and Holland.

The Corps awarded a $378,400 contract to The King Co to remove 42,000 cubic yards of shoaled material from St Joseph Harbor, a $223,900 contract to dredge 35,000 cubic yards of material from Ludington Harbor and a $453,650 contract to remove 40,000 cubic yards of material from Grand Haven Harbor and 29,000 cubic yards from Holland Harbor.

Luedtke Engineering Co of Frankfort was awarded the Ontonagon contract. The contract was awarded to dredge 29,000 cubic yards of shoaling from Ontonagon Harbor at a cost of $385,800.

The material dredged from all the harbors will be used to nourish nearby beaches.

Dredging News Online


Obscure index offers a glimmer of hope for shipping

3/6 - When it comes to reading economic tea leaves, the Baltic Dry Index is an obscure but closely watched statistic in the shipping world, with its avid followers viewing it as a barometer of global trade.

Amid the doom and gloom around the world, the index offers a glimmer of hope.

If the latest rally – four straight days – has staying power, then global trade appears headed for a modest improvement in the second half of 2009, and the shipping industry is poised to ride China's economic stimulus package and recover from what's still expected to be a turbulent first half.

The index surveys the price of transporting raw materials by sea.

Despite some contradictory signs of whether the ocean shipping sector has bottomed, there are enough bright spots to clear the way for a gradual rebound in everything from bulk commodity markets to dismantling old ships to building new ones, experts say.

A decline in commodity prices has coincided with dwindling stockpiles to spur China to renew selected purchases, helped by loosening short-term credit, said Oslo-based shipbroker RS Platou.

“This has especially been the case of iron ore, where Chinese steel mills have been very active securing high-quality ore at very attractive prices. In addition, exports of grains, soybeans and fertilizers have all increased in the same period of time,” said Platou's analysis, titled A Sustainable Improvement?

In November, China announced a $586-billion (U.S.) stimulus plan, including spending on infrastructure and construction. Stock markets around the world got a lift yesterday on hopes that China will soon expand its stimulus package to boost domestic consumption and fight rising unemployment.

Yesterday, the Baltic Dry Index rose for the fourth consecutive day, gaining 50 points to 2,084 points, or more than three times its 22-year low of 663 in December.

Its roots can be traced to Britain in 1744 and a London coffee house called the Virginia and Baltick, whose patrons were in the shipping business and would draw up deals there. The index has emerged as a reliable but not foolproof leading indicator of economic trends and volume of global trade, often predicting the beginning and end of recessions, though not necessarily nailing down the timing. Earlier this year, it went on a 17-day winning streak.

The index is still down 82 per cent from its record high of 11,793 last May. But shipping experts say there's reason for optimism because of the sharp improvement from dizzying lows.

“In the second half, fiscal stimulus may support tonnage demand sufficiently to prevent freight rates to fall back to the extremely low levels seen at the beginning of this year,” wrote Bjorn Bodding, Platou's senior partner of economic research.

Some Canadian firms are positioned to benefit from a predicted economic recovery. For instance, Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan is forecasting that after a slow first quarter, exports of its fertilizers to China in 2009 should pick up and improve over last year, but stay flat year-over-year for India and Brazil, and dip slightly for Indonesia and Malaysia.

The movements of North American railways are another indicator of economic activity. In the first seven weeks of 2009, freight volumes were down 16 per cent from the same period last year. Rail executives aren't ready yet to declare a return to good times.

“We've worked hard to develop plans that allow us to anticipate and respond quickly to changes in the market, and our success in 2009 depends on our ability to swiftly react to economic changes and seize opportunities,” said Kathryn McQuade, Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. chief financial officer.

North American railways report that shipments of lumber have fallen an average of 31 per cent, non-metallic minerals such as fertilizers dropped 34 per cent and autos declined 55 per cent. But in a recession, the good news is that coal volumes slipped just 4 per cent – seen as a tentative signal of better times around the corner.

Canadian railways enjoyed a 27-per-cent increase in mid-February in grain traffic and a slight rise in some fertilizer shipments.

Spot freight rates for large cargo vessels, Capesizes, have jumped to about $30,000 a day from less than $10,000 earlier this year.

But finished steel inventories have started rising recently, and a glut on the steel market remains a concern, amplifying the theme that any recovery will be bumpy, and China will likely mount a comeback well before others.

A report by Clarkson Research Services Ltd., a London-based shipping services firm, said the ship demolition market is showing early signs of bouncing back in India, Bangladesh and Pakistan. In the new shipbuilding industry, the majority of yards “still feel comfortable with their forward order books,” but there may be holes in those books as cancellations emerge and some ship owners opt for used vessels, Clarkson cautioned.

It said the economic downturn's harsh effect on global trade in consumer goods lingers, with shipments of containers suspended by two major shipping alliances in the Black Sea – one of the gloomy signals mixed in with favorable ones.

“With today's cold wind, all shipping segments are vulnerable,” Clarkson said, forecasting that short-term volatility will continue. “Although the sentiment is strong for China's internal economic growth, it is very unlikely that the rest of the world would recover soon.”

Shipbroker Howe Robinson and Co. Ltd. said there remains a vast oversupply of charter ships on the market. “Those looking for a post-Chinese New Year bounce have been disappointed,” Howe said, referring to shipping activity since Jan. 26.

The Chinese government is offering incentives and credit financing to help bolster its shipyards, after orders for new ships in China dropped sharply last year, said ICAP Shipping International Ltd., which provides services such as freight forwarding and chartering.

A study by shipbroker Galbraith's Ltd. warned that any recovery will be lengthy and fragile. “Iron ore demand from China is mostly restocking,” it said, adding that steel demand is still in decline in Europe. “History tells us that it will take years for the current oversupply of ships to correct.”

The Globe and Mail


Soo Locks Visitors Center will be open for opening day

3/6 - On Wednesday, March 25, the doors of the Soo Locks Visitors Center will be open for those wishing to celebrate opening day of the Soo Locks. Members of the Visitors Center Association will be at the center to meet, greet, and chat. Coffee, juice, and some light snacks will be available. The hours will be from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.


Port Huron’s Bob Winters leaves lightship as legacy

3/6 - Port Huron, Mich. – Retired from active service in 1970, the Huron Lightship is anchored today at Pine Grove Park as an interactive piece of maritime history.

But it took people such as Frederick "Bob" Winters to keep it fit for visitors.

Winters, a lifelong Port Huron resident, died Feb. 28 at the age of 94. He spent much of the last part of his life dedicated to the vessel.

"There was a regular cadre of volunteers," said son Brian Winters. "He was one of the originals."

After the ship was acquired by Port Huron in the early 1970s, it routinely fell victim to vandals, but volunteers, Frederick Winters among them, helped restore it.

Another son, Charlie Winters, said his father found plenty of things to keep him busy on the ship even though he was far from young when the restoration began.

"He was an old man, so he didn't get up in the mast and paint it. ... He did more piecemeal stuff instead of 'scrape the hull and paint it' stuff."

Brian Winters understands his father's interest in the vessel and maritime lore.

"His father was a captain on the Great Lakes, and so my family had experience sailing on the Great Lakes," Brian Winters said. "It became a labor of love for him, primarily after my mother passed away (in 1993), so (the volunteers) became his second family."

Frederick Winters requested donations to the Humane Society or the Huron Lightship in lieu of flowers. To do so, send a check to the Lake Huron Lore Marine Society, with Huron Lightship in the memo line, and drop it off or mail it to the Port Huron Museum, 1115 6th Street, Port Huron, Mich. 48060.

Port Huron Times Herald


Molly Kool, pioneering sailor, dies at 93

3/6 - Bangor, Maine - Friends say Molly Kool, the first woman in North America to be licensed as a ship's captain, has died at her home in Bangor, Maine, at age 93.

Known as Captain Molly, Kool was licensed at age 23 and piloted cargo ships in the Bay of Fundy and south to Boston, The New York Times reported Tuesday.

Kool, who died last Wednesday, was born in Alma, New Brunswick, Canada, the daughter of a sailor, Paul Kool, whose 70-foot engine- and sail-driven scow she later commanded, the newspaper said.

She was featured on "Ripley's Believe It or Not!" and often was profiled in the press. "Her eyebrows are shaped and arched, her lips lightly rouged, her blonde hair up in feminine curls. That's Miss Molly Kool ashore ... but in her barge ... she knows no fear ... and she'll give orders if she marries, and hubby holds only a mate's ticket," said one news account.

Kool, who outlived two husbands and is survived by a sister, sent this telegram to her family after passing the master's exams for her boating license, "You can call me captain from now on," the Times said.



Updates - March 6

News Photo Gallery updated


Today in Great Lakes History - March 6

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.


Ice breaking operations a sign of spring at the Soo

3/5 - Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. - The Coast Guard is expected to begin ice-breaking operations in the St. Marys River on Monday.

The operation is scheduled to begin March 9 from Munuscong Lake to Sawmill Point and will involve the cutters Mackinaw out of Cheboygan, Biscayne Bay out of St. Ignace and Katmai Bay from Sault Ste. Marie. The cutters will break ice in the lower end of the West Neebish Channel from Mud Lake Junction Buoy to Sawmill Point. The Coast Guard says this will not impact the ice bridge connecting Barbeau, Mich., to Neebish Island.



Updates - March 5

News Photo Gallery updated

Historical Perspective Galleries updated with new pictures in the Amasa Stone feature


Today in Great Lakes History - March 5

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


Hamilton, Nanticoke steel mills will close temporarily

3/4 - U.S. Steel Canada, formerly known as Stelco, is temporarily shutting down its Hamilton mill and most of its nearby Lake Erie operations, affecting 1,500 jobs.

The move, announced late Tuesday by the company's Pittsburgh-based parent, United States Steel Corp., reflects slumping demand in the steel sector and weak industry markets. The operations affected are mostly serviced by Great Lakes vessels, some of which are not expected to fit out when the Soo Locks open for the season March 25.

The layoffs will begin in the next few weeks and are a major blow to the Southern Ontario industrial city, which has been hurt by earlier layoffs at the company and its rival, Arcelor Mittal Dofasco.

"The difficult decision to continue to temporarily consolidate our production, we believe, is a necessary response to current market conditions," U. S. Steel chairman and CEO John Surma said in a release.

The latest steel cuts continue a massive restructuring in Ontario's battered blue-collar industries, formerly the economic engine of the country.

Layoffs in the auto, forestry and industrial sectors have cost tens of thousands of jobs in recent years in Canada's manufacturing heartland, a sector that's been whacked by a high dollar, slumping demand from the United States and the global credit crunch.

"The current market conditions have led us to rebalance our production to meet our current customer demand in the most effective and efficient way possible," said U.S. Steel Canada spokeswoman Courtney Boone.

U.S. Steel said the finishing and coking operations at the company's Hamilton Works and the steelmaking and finishing operations at its Lake Erie Works near Nanticoke, Ont., will be idled indefinitely until market conditions improve.

Coking operations at Lake Erie will continue.

U.S. Steel said production will temporarily be concentrated at its U.S. operations in Gary, Ind., and Birmingham, Ala., and Pittsburgh. Other operations in southern Illinois and Detroit, as well as the company's U.S. tubular operations, have already been idled, affecting about 3,500 workers.

Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger said the temporary closure will worsen the effects of the economic downturn in a city that relies on the struggling steel industry for a large chunk of its employment.

`Things that are already happening have now been added to significantly by virtue of the idling of these two facilities, so you can expect it will affect our economy even more than the global economic downturn already has," Eisenberger said in an interview.

`This really cries out for quick and effective economic stimulus spending from the federal government."

Despite the scale of Tuesday's announcement, Eisenberger said he's encouraged the closures are temporary.

`This is an idling of facilities based on steel orders, not a shutdown, and Hamilton is still very much part of U.S. Steel's steel-making capacity," he said. `They're making adjustments based on the market and when the market improves they'll be back into steel production here in Hamilton."

U.S. Steel Canada has already laid off almost 700 of 1,700 hourly employees in Hamilton, where it shut down its blast furnace in November.

The global steel industry has been hit hard by the worldwide recession, which has cut demand for steel used in construction, the auto and appliance industries and the capital goods sector. Steel production and prices, which reached all-time highs last year, have dropped to their lowest levels in a quarter century in recent months.

In Canada, steelmakers such as the former Algoma Steel, Ipsco and distributor Russel Metals have cut jobs and streamlined operations to deal with the industry downturn.

Toronto Star


Minorca joins wave of Range mining cutbacks

3/4 - Duluth, Minn. – Employees of yet another Iron Range mine learned of an impending shutdown Monday.

For months, workers at the Minorca mine near Virginia have known that the taconite operation would cease production in mid-April to allow for scheduled maintenance work. But the mine’s owner, Arcelor Mittal, recently revealed plans to extend that shutdown through July, according to Ray Pierce, president of United Steelworkers Local 6115. The union represents about 300 people working at the mine and processing plant.

Minorca is just the latest mine to cut back production. Last week, Cliffs Natural Resources announced plans to temporarily idle Hibbing Taconite Co. and Northshore Mining Co., putting more than 1,000 people out of work.

The week before that, U.S. Steel Corp. disclosed it would temporarily lay off about half its work force at Minntac, putting about 590 people out of work for an indefinite period of time.

Back in December, Keewatin Taconite Co. (also a U.S. Steel operation) became the first Iron Range plant to cease production. It remains idled.

Even those plants that have managed to avoid shutdowns have had to make adjustments. Workers at United Taconite in Forbes and Eveleth have agreed to a 20 percent cut in hours.

“It feels like the worst of times,” said Jeff Damm, a Virginia City Council member and former firefighter. “It’s been a total shock to the system.”

Damm explained that Virginia is surrounded by mining, with Minorca to the north, United Taconite to the south and Minntac to the west. And he said the influence of mining on the local economy is difficult to overstate.

“Some of our downtown businesses are really starting to feel it,” he said. “It’s been pretty slow,” said Jamie Wright, describing business lately at Jammer’s Cafe, which she co-owns and operates in Virginia. “It seems that just about everyone’s family works for a mine in some way or another.”

Wright’s business partner, Janet Harjamaki, can attest to that as her husband works at Hibtac, where a shutdown also looms. “We don’t know exactly how many people will be affected and for how long,” Harjamaki said. “The uncertainty is the hardest part.”

“We just try to keep everyone in our thoughts and prayers,” she said. “We’re going to stick together and hope we all pull through.”

Craig Pagel, president of the Iron Mining Association of Minnesota, remains hopeful the production slowdowns will be short-lived. “You’ve got to remember the mines are set up to follow the market,” he said, explaining why taconite operations have been quick to cut back production sharply.

Pagel said many mines will use down time to tackle maintenance issues so they will be well prepared to spring back into action. He’s encouraged by the massive economic stimulus packages now taking shape in both the U.S. and China, where more than $580 million will be invested.

“I think you will see mines and the steel industry respond very quickly when they see the right market conditions again,” Pagel said.

Duluth News Tribune


Unlock harbor funds, Great Lakes panel says

3/4 - Federal legislators are being urged to reform a trust fund enacted in 1986 to help maintain and operate commercial ports and navigation channels, including those in the Great Lakes /St. Lawrence Seaway system.

The Great Lakes Commission, during its semiannual meeting last week in Washington, D.C., approved a resolution calling on Congress to enact legislation requiring revenues from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund be expended at a rate equal to the tax on imports and domestic cargo arriving at U.S. ports.

The commission contends the maintenance fund receives about $1.4 billion annually from a harbor maintenance tax but only about $700 million is spent on dredging and other maintenance practices.

The commission estimates there is about $4.7 billion surplus in the fund “while ports suffer from inadequate maintenance, including those in the Great Lakes where there is a crucial dredging backlog that will cost an estimated $230 million to eliminate…” the resolution says.

That backlog, the commission argues, has resulted in cargo carriers on the lakes reducing their loads by 50 to 270 tons per every inch of draft loss to inadequate dredging, diminishing the efficiency of the carriers.

The resolution states the maintenance tax and trust fund were enacted for the “express purpose of funding the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers” operation and maintenance…” of federally authorized commercial ports and channels.

Sean Logan, Director of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, said the additional funding would help spur economic development as well as address sedimentation issues in Ohio and other Great Lake states.

Congress has not fully appropriated the annual revenue since 2003, he said.

“If Congress would spend the full amount from the ….trust fund, it would stimulate economic development and job creation throughout the region,” he said. “Investing in the Great Lakes in this way will improve the Great Lakes navigation infrastructure and benefit the health of our freshwater resources through proper disposal of dredge material.”

James Weakley, President of the Lake Carriers’ Association, which represents U.S. flag vessel operations on the lakes, said shipments to and from Lake Erie ports surpass 50 million tons a year.

“Ohio’s ports could handle more cargo if they were dredged to dimensions, but decades of inadequate funding has left them clogged with sediment,” he said.

Members of the Great Lakes Commission were in the nation’s capital for their semi-annual meeting and Great Lakes Day in Washington. They approved another resolution endorsing priorities for 2010 that would help revitalize the economy, including:

• Full funding of the Clean Water State Revolving Fund
• The clean-up of contaminated sediments by fully funding the Great Lakes Legacy Act
• Restoring fish and wildlife resources by fully funding the Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Restoration Act

The Press


Port Reports - March 4

Nanticoke, Ont. - Hans Urban
The Canadian Coast Guard Ship Griffon arrived at Long Point Tuesday to clear a path for Algoeast into the ESSO dock at Nanticoke, Ont. The Algoeast was anchored in Long Point Bay Tuesday night.


Updates - March 4

News Photo Gallery updated

Historical Perspective Galleries updated with new pictures in the Amasa Stone feature


Today in Great Lakes History - March 4

In 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.


Troubled waters ahead this year for Great Lakes ships

3/3 - Detroit, Mich. – When the Soo Locks open each year in late March, it signals the beginning of the Great Lakes shipping season and clears the way for massive freighters to move back out on the lakes after three months in lay-up.

The lock system allows ships to travel between Lake Superior and the rest of the Great Lakes, which are almost 23 feet lower. But the date won't have the same significance this year, with many ships delaying their return to work for days, weeks, or in one case, possibly all season.

The nation's economic doldrums have hit the shipping industry hard, as drops in production have led to less material being moved around the Great Lakes. Years of lowered water levels have reduced the amount ships can carry, making their trips less cost-effective. And over the past decade, shipping companies say they have been hurt by an undersized and aging fleet of U.S. Coast Guard ice-breaking vessels that can no longer keep the lakes as clear as they should be during cold months. It all adds up to a stressful stretch for those who make their living on the lakes.

"It's probably going to be kind of rough," said Ned Swartzinski, 44, of West Branch, a 15-year lakes veteran who has worked as a wheelsman and maintenance worker on the Herbert C. Jackson for four years. "I'll probably work this year, but I think it's going to be slow. I might have to get another job near home and find some work here."

In the last half of 2008, the demand for staples such as limestone, iron ore and coal dropped drastically. In December, the amount of iron ore that was shipped dropped 80 percent from 12 months earlier, and limestone dropped 75 percent. In January, the amount of coal shipped was down 50 percent from the year before.

Limestone is used in the construction of buildings, a sector that has all but come to a stop in most regions. The steel produced from iron ore goes into buildings as well, but also automobiles. And coal powers businesses of all kinds -- many of which are scaling back operations to save money.

"Shipping is a service industry," said Glen Nekvasil, vice president with the Lake Carriers' Association in Ohio. "We don't create demand, we meet demand. When steel mills need us to move ore pellets, we move ore pellets. But when they don't ... "

As a result, the March 25 opening of the locks won't produce a rush back out onto the lakes. In fact, many ships closed last season early due to the decreased demand for goods.

"We're normally pretty aggressive at sailing right away with the opening of the (Soo Locks)," said Mark Barker, president of the Richfield, Ohio, based Interlake. "But some of our vessels won't be coming out as early as they normally do. One of our vessels isn't scheduled to sail right away and, if demand doesn't increase, it may not go all year."

Between the U.S. and Canadian shipping fleets, there are roughly 150 ships that travel the Great Lakes each year. And while most will be returning to the open water, industry officials say "a number of ships" will likely remain in lay-up this year.

Shipping jobs affected

According to a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers study released in February, shipping in the Great Lakes affects 236,000 jobs in industries around the region.

Of those:
• 44,000 are in maritime transportation.
• 54,000 are in the mining industry.
• 138,000 are in the steel industry.
The industry rises and falls in a cyclical fashion with the demands of the industries it serves, but there was no hint of the dive business would take until October.

"What we're seeing right now is a pretty good replication of what we saw in the 1980s," Barker said. "And that was pretty bad."

On the other side of the state near Custer, Andy Jaworski has been monitoring the situation with a sense of been-there, done-that.

"It's my full-time employment, so I have to keep an eye on it," said the chief steward of the James R. Barker. "But there's always something to worry about in the maritime industry."

It's not just the shipping companies that are hurting.

Officials with the Detroit/Wayne County Port Authority have also seen cuts in the amount of material coming through their facility. Most of the ships that enter the Port of Detroit are smaller, international vessels.

But Steven Olinek, the authority's deputy director, said the impact has been the same. The difference between 2008 and the previous year was drastic. "We saw about three-quarters of a million tons of materials come across our docks in 2007," Olinek said.

"We had about half that amount in 2008."

Even for those ships that do make it back out, there are concerns over their safety due to the Coast Guard's ability to break ice. Last year, in March alone, ships in the Great Lakes sustained $1.5 million in ice-related damages, Nekvasil said.

Ice breaking at issue

In the Great Lakes region, the Coast Guard has nine ships that are designed for or can aid in ice breaking. Five of those, the 140-class ships, were built in the late 1970s. Older vessels are off the lakes more often for repair work, leaving more ice for ships to deal with.

It's a situation that has drawn the concern of U.S. Rep. Candice Miller, R-Harrison Township, who has said the shortage of icebreakers can directly affect the lives of Michigan residents working in a variety of industries.

"The ability of watercraft to transit the Great Lakes during winter months is imperative to keeping commerce moving and protecting jobs in Great Lakes states," she said in a statement last month directed to Adm. Thad Allen of the Coast Guard.

"The flow of cargo through our waterways far exceeds a billion dollars during the winter months. Frozen waterways which disrupt or delay cargo can have a detrimental impact on our economy and cause further job loss."

According to officials with Miller's office, the federal stimulus package recently approved by Congress and President Barack Obama does not include additional funding to bolster the ice-breaking fleet in the Great Lakes.

Lt. Dave French, a Coast Guard external affairs officer, said the congressional debate on the subject prohibited him from commenting on requests for adding to the ice-breaking fleet in the lakes.

"We understand that industry would like us to have additional ice-breaking resources, but we are not the only ice-breaking service on the Great Lakes," French stated in a written response to questions.

"We work closely with our Canadian counterparts as well as commercial ice-breaking companies throughout the Great Lakes to meet the ... community and stakeholder needs and aggressively pursue our ice-breaking mission as we've done for the last 50 years."

The Detroit News


Great Lakes water levels headed up for summer, experts predict

3/3 - Detroit, Mich. - The most recent forecasts for the Great Lakes this summer show water levels will be mostly higher than last year. And for the second year in a row, the lakes are showing resurgence, with water levels climbing after almost a decade of drops.

Thanks in large part to a snowy and rainy winter, water levels appear to be moving in the right direction, although some lakes will not be able to match the major increases seen in 2008.

"We're definitely seeing gains from two years ago with 2008 and this year so far," said Keith Kompoltowicz, a meteorologist with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Detroit office. "But we remain below the Great Lakes' historical levels."

The Corp's projections show:
• The Lake Michigan/Huron system will remain 5 to 12 inches above last year's levels through August.

• Lake Superior will be 4 inches above last year's levels in April and then match last year's levels through August.

• Lake St. Clair will be 1 to 3 inches above last year's levels through June, and then match least year through August.

• Lake Erie will be 1 to 4 inches above last year's levels through August.

• Lake Ontario will be an inch above last year in March, but finish the summer 1 to 4 inches below last year.

The Detroit News


Updates - March 3

News Photo Gallery updated

Historical Perspective Galleries updated new feature of the month Amasa Stone

Weekly Updates added including three new photo galleries: - Tug / Work Boat Gallery - Fish Tug Gallery - Ferries & Passenger / Excursion Vessel Gallery


Today in Great Lakes History - March 3

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.



No one hurt in small fire Sunday on board Mapleglen

3/2 - Montreal, Que. – Fire broke out Sunday at about 2:30 pm in the engine room of the Canada Steamship Lines’ Mapleglen (the former Lake Michigan) wintering at the Port of Montreal at a dock located not far from the lower end of Pie-XI Boulevard.

Those present immediately left the premises and closed the hatches to the machine room. The fire was extinguished with the help of CO2 gas. No one was hurt.

Reported by Kent Malo, Laurent Cote and Canada News Wire


$17M in place to begin work on $500M Soo Locks project

3/2 - Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. – Long-awaited infrastructure money to replace two U. S. Soo locks is starting to flow.

And that has Michigan Sault city officials smiling. It was announced Wednesday that Congressman Bart Stupak has secured $17 million to begin construction of the replacement of the Soo Lock.

It's part of a $30-million funding announcement for Northern Michigan that will see construction begin this spring.

"That's good news. We have been strongly advocating the construction of a new lock for years," said Michigan Sault city manager Spencer Nebel.

Nebel said the funding announcement has passed in the house and is expected to pass in the Senate and receive final approval by President Barack Obama. "This is a very significant first step and it will mean the money will be available for the coffer dams this year," he said.

Nebel said that under the initial plan, once the funding for the $500-million project starts flowing, it's expected that the process will continue with each fiscal budget to allow for next year's phase of construction to continue.

Construction for the new lock was first authorized by Congress in 1986 and since then about $20 million has been spent on studies and preparations for the mammoth project.

This money will allow the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers to begin building the coffer dams needed to prevent water flow into the aging Sabin and Davis locks, which the new lock will replace.

The entire project is expected to take five to seven years to complete and will sustain the economy for years afterward, Nebel said.

The project could employ up to 250 people and has been identified as an important project to boost the economy and improve badly needed infrastructure.

Currently, the 40-year-old Poe Lock is the only one that can handle large vessels. Fears are, that if the infrastructure were to break down, or be taken out of service for a prolonged period, the impact on the steel industry, power plants and others would be severe.

The remaining money in the announcement is earmarked for other projects in Northern Michigan including dredging, hospital, law enforcement and area road work.

The Sault Star


Detroit area steel mill could stay closed until 2010

3/2 - Ecorse, Mich. — Thousands of steelworkers who thought they soon might be going back to work learned Wednesday that their temporary layoffs could be extended until the end of the year, if not longer.

Citing the faltering economy and a drop in customer demand, U.S. Steel shut down operations at its Great Lakes Works plant on Zug Island in January. While a timeline was never officially announced, a spokeswoman at that time said the closure was estimated to last 2 1/2 months.

The facility is served by Great Lakes vessels during the shipping season.

Marc Barragan, president of U.S. Steelworkers Local No. 1299, said U.S. Steel management told his union last week that the closure is now going to last into the foreseeable future.

“We were expecting … an idle period of two to four months, but as the economy continues to fall apart and the market for steel continues to be on the bottom side, they’ve taken to announcing progressively worse and worse news,” Barragan said. “We were told to be prepared for a much longer idle period.”

A reopening date isn’t expected to be announced anytime soon.

“The plan is still a temporary idling period, but we cannot tell you when we plan to restart it,” U.S. Steel spokesman John Armstrong said. “We hope to call the employees back, assuming they haven’t gotten other jobs. …

“Great Lakes Works is primarily an automotive steel manufacturing facility. Its major customers are the autos. At this point, no one can accurately predict where the economy is going.”

During the downtime, U.S. Steel had been repairing a blast furnace that has been out of compliance with environmental laws for quite some time. That work was halted last week. Company officials also gave orders not to unwinterize the plant, as normally would be done as the warmer months approach.

Those two moves alone have caused some to wonder if the plant will remain closed throughout all of next winter.

“There’s a lot of variables involved with this, especially with a complex corporation like U.S. Steel,” Barragan said. “I still feel confident, professionally, that this plant will not permanently close.”

Two other U.S. Steel facilities — Keetac, an iron ore mining and pelletizing facility in Keewatin, Minn., and Granite City Works, a steelmaking facility near St. Louis — also have been idled. The closures have affected about 3,500 workers. Of those, about 2,200 are employed at Great Lakes Works, which is in Ecorse and River Rouge.

With the three plants closed, U.S. Steel has consolidated operations and concentrated production at Mon Valley Works near Pittsburgh; Gary Works in Gary, Ind.; Fairfield Works near Birmingham, Ala.; and Lake Erie Works in Nanticoke, Ontario.

“The ones we have kept online are the ones that are the most efficient and most cost-effective operations,” Armstrong said.

Benefits for the laid-off workers are determined by their respective contracts and include health insurance for a certain length of time depending on how long they have worked for the company. The News Herald


Halifax could benefit from Seaway links

3/2 - Halifax, N.S. – Developing short-sea shipping lanes through the St. Lawrence Seaway System could give customers of the Port of Halifax an alternative all-water route to markets with high populations and to industrial regions.

Rail and trucks are the main modes of transport used to move mainly container cargo to and from the port, but opportunities lie with other types of cargo such as break-bulk commodities (coal, salt, coke) and special oversized, or project, cargos (heavy machinery, roll-on/roll-off).

George Malec, Halifax Port Authority’s vice-president of business development and operations, said Tuesday there has been a lot of discussion about the decline of the container business and little attention has been paid to the fact that "last year, Halifax enjoyed a fairly good year in break-bulk. What we see is the realization there is some opportunity for project cargo and break-bulk movement. That’s always going to be there, and that is complementary and distinct to containerization," he said.

The port authority earlier this week held discussions with the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp. "to see what opportunities are there and join forces to make sure we can leverage each others strengths," Mr. Malec said. "They have got a well-established set of ports in the interior of North America, they are on an all-water route to some of the heaviest population base in North America, so we are looking to broaden our reach as well," he said.

Bruce Hodgson, director of marketing development for the seaway corporation, said last Tuesday that "with changing markets, certainly from a project cargo standpoint and break-bulk standpoint, there are some good opportunities."

Those opportunities are bolstered by the fact that, "within an eight-hour drive of the Great Lakes region, there are 150 million people. It has huge market potential. We also access western Canada and the U.S. Midwest," he said.

There are shipping companies, such as Great Lakes Feeder Lines and Marine Link, looking at the potential for short-sea shipping on the seaway to the East Coast, and the seaway management corporation has offered incentives to make such ventures more appealing.

"Realizing the cost is very important, we introduced a new structure of tolls last year offering a new business coming through our system a 20 per cent reduction on tolls," Mr. Hodgson said. Regular tolls have been frozen for the next two years, and when container cargo eventually starts coming through, there will be toll reductions on that cargo as well.

Mr. Hodgson admitted there are a number of challenges to overcome and "the largest is vessel availability in terms of attracting short-sea vessels into our system to operate between Halifax and the Lakes," he said.

As a way of dealing with that obstacle, Mr. Hodgson said the federal government has been asked to review the 25 per cent tariff on foreign-built vessels coming into Canada.

The Halifax Herald


Port Reports - March 2

Halifax – Mac Mackay
The newest edition to the Desgagnes fleet, Sedna Desgagnes, has been registered and is about to enter service in China. Briefly given Canadian registration on February 26, she was immediately switched to Barbados registry for charter back to Beluga Shipping. She and sisters Rosaire A. Desgagnes and Zelada Desgagnes will work for Beluga until summer when they will be needed for northern supply. Meanwhile other Desgagnes fleet members are working in various parts of the world. Anna Desgagnes is working for the Atlantic RoRo service from Russia to the U.S. East and South coast. She sailed from St. Petersburg, Russia, February 12 and will call in Charleston, Baltimore, New Orleans, Brownsvile and Houston before heading back to Russia. Sarah Desgagnes has been working in Europe, with calls in England and other North Sea ports.

Toledo – Bob Vincent
Algonova came in to the BP Terminal on Thursday.


Program to focus on Fort Gratiot Lighthouse

3/2 - Port Huron, Mich.

– The Port Huron Museum will present a family program about the Fort Gratiot Lighthouse Saturday, March 7, in conjunction with its Blue Water Lights exhibit.

Lighthouse volunteer Bob Hanford will give a detailed history, slideshow and variety of anecdotes about the Fort Gratiot Lighthouse during the 2 p.m. Light the Way program.

The lighthouse, which is the oldest lighthouse in Michigan, will celebrate its 180th anniversary this year. The Blue Water Lights exhibit runs from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. through March 15.

Displays will include historic photographs; maritime artifacts, including Fresnel lenses; and stories of local storms, accidents and rescues involving local beacons.

For more information, call (810) 982-0891, Ext. 118.


Time to plan for Badger Boatnerd Gathering

3/2 - It may still be cold outside, but spring and summer are on the way and with them, the annual Boatnerd Gatherings. The first is the S/S Badger Boatnerd Gathering Cruise on Saturday, May 30. The Boatnerd Badger Gathering is a round-trip crossing of Lake Michigan from Ludington, Michigan, to Manitowoc, Wisconsin, aboard the Lake Michigan Carferry S/S Badger, the only coal-fired steamer left on the Great Lakes

After making the trip across Lake Michigan, passengers can visit the Wisconsin Maritime Museum in Manitowoc and see the operating restored forward engine from the legendary railroad ferry Chief Wawatam and the World War II submarine Cobia, OR go on the optional Wisconsin Shoreline Cruise aboard the Badger.

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

See the Boatnerd Gathering Page for complete details and sign up form. Reservations must be received no later than May 9.

Meanwhile, on Saturday, August 8, we will repeat the popular Boatnerd Detroit River Cruise aboard the Friendship, with Captain Sam Buchanan. This year’s cruise will be four hours and will go up the Detroit River, and hopefully into the Rouge River. Pizza lunch will be delivered by the J. W. Westcott mail boat. Cost is just $30 per person, same price as last year.

The cruise will depart at 10 a.m. sharp from Portofino's On The River in Wyandotte, Mich. Click here for information on all the 2009 Boatnerd Gatherings

Click here for more information


Specials at the Great Lakes & Seaway Shipping store

3/2 - Force5 trading is offering the following special: Buy 1 item and get 1 item 50 percent off (you pay for more expensive of the two items). Offer expires March 27. View items on-line at, then call (330-703-8789) or e-mail your order in (no on-line orders). Discount applies to new orders only and does not apply to Interlake blankets or limited quantity items. The special includes all shipping companies on the site.


Updates - March 2

News Photo Gallery updated

Historical Perspective Galleries updated new feature of the month Amasa Stone

Weekly Updates added including three new photo galleries: - Tug / Work Boat Gallery - Fish Tug Gallery - Ferries & Passenger / Excursion Vessel Gallery


Today in Great Lakes History - March 2

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.


New Coast Guard hovercraft coming from England

3/1 - A $16-million, 75-tonne hovercraft built for the Canadian Coast Guard - the largest ever to be exported from Britain - was lifted this week onto a transatlantic freighter bound for Canada's east coast, where the state-of-the-art amphibious vessel will break ice and patrol waters in and around the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Named "Mamilossa" - an Abenaki native word meaning "he who goes from water to land" - the new, 28.5-metre machine will become the flagship of a fleet of four Coast Guard hovercraft stationed on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts.

"Everything we've learned since 1962, when we started operating hovercraft, has been incorporated into this design," Ron Miller, the Coast Guard's Ottawa-based director of operational support, told Canwest News Service on Friday.

He said the air-cushion vessel will be used to: break up harbor ice, clear outlets along the St. Lawrence River in spring to prevent flooding, deploy buoys and other navigation aids in summer, and provide support for search-and-rescue and security operations throughout Atlantic Canada.

The Mamilossa is slightly larger than its east-coast sister, CCGS Sipu Mui, and the CCGS Siyay, stationed in B.C.

The new vessel will replace the 22-year-old hovercraft CCGS Waban-Aki, which Miller said is scheduled to carry out icebreaking duties this month along the St. Lawrence but is nearing the end of its useful life.

Miller said the aluminum-hulled Mamilossa is more aerodynamic than the Coast Guard's other hovercraft, and has a more powerful "knuckle" boom crane for deploying buoys and other objects weighing up to five tonnes.

"It's the best constructed one we've got."

Built by the Isle of Wight manufacturer Hoverwork Ltd., the Canadian contract had been a boon for the island's economy.

The Quebec-bound Mamilossa was taken on test runs in the English Channel last week before being loaded onto a cargo ship in Portsmouth on Monday.

In Canada, after completing each round of duties in the waters of the St. Lawrence region, the vessel will be steered up a ramp onto land and stored in a Coast Guard facility in Trois-Rivieres, Que., Miller said.

Canwest News Service


Grant money would pay for dredging

3/1 - Bay City, Mich. – U.S. Rep. Dale E. Kildee has secured $4.4 million in funding for dredging and other projects in Bay, Tuscola and Saginaw counties.

The money would come from a consolidated appropriations bill that passed the House on Wednesday. Senate action on the measure is pending, Kildee said in a news release.

The area would receive $3.5 million to maintain the Saginaw River navigational channel with maintenance dredging. A new disposal facility on the Bay-Saginaw county line is to begin receiving spoils from the Upper Saginaw River later this year.

The Bay City Times


Updates - March 1

News Photo Gallery updated

Historical Perspective Galleries updated new pictures in the Sir James Dunn and E.B. Barber galleries.


Today in Great Lakes History - March 1

The 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.

In 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 March 1, 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.


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