Great Lakes & Seaway Shipping News Archive

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* Report News


Seaway blocked by BBC Steinhoeft

3/31 - Montreal - 3 p.m. update -  About 1:30 p.m. the tugs Ocean Geogie Bains and Ocean Intrepid released the BBC Steinhoeft from her grounding in the Seaway. BBC Steinhoeft was towed to Sec 44 N Port of Montreal, where a dive inspection will be conducted to assess any damage. A total of eight vessels were delayed due to the grounding, seven upbound and one downbound.

9 a.m. update - BBC Steinhoeft went aground in the St Lawrence Seaway about 3 a.m. Thursday morning one nautical mile below the St. Lambert Lock, blocking other vessels from passing. The 450 foot freighter is the same width as the canal, according to Seaway Corporation spokesman Jack Meloche.

"The front of the vessel is actually on the north shore and the end of the vessel is actually on the south shore," said Meloche. Tugs from Group Ocean have been sent to pull her free. BBC Steinhoeft was the Beluga Fusion on previous visits.

Seaway officials estimate that the vessel may be moved out of the canal by Thursday evening, enabling the full restoration of navigation within the canal. As of 9:20 a.m. Thursday morning, there were five vessels delayed due to the grounding.

Kent Malo


Port Reports -  March 31

Twin Ports – Al Miller
Kaye E. Barker left Fraser Shipyards in Superior overnight Tuesday, possibly to load pellets at the CN ore dock. Presque Isle departed Duluth about 7:30 a.m. Wednesday with taconite pellets bound for Gary.

Alpena/Stoneport - Ben & Chanda McClain
Both of the cement carriers were in port Wednesday morning. The tug Samuel de Champlain/barge Innovation arrived at Lafarge first and loaded for Detroit, Mich. The Alpena tied up at the coal dock and moved over to the silos to load once the Innovation departed. Alpena was outbound in the bay around 4:30 p.m., heading for South Chicago, Ill.

John G. Munson arrived at Stoneport Wednesday evening to take on the first load of stone for the 2011 season.


Donjon and Seacor announce completion of Ken Boothe, Sr. tugboat

3/31 - Erie, Pa. - Donjon Marine Co., Inc., along with partner SEACOR Holdings Inc., have announced the completion of the tugboat Ken Boothe Sr. The 10,700 horsepower tug will work as an Articulated Tug/Barge (I.E. ATB) in conjunction with a 34,000 ton capacity self unloading bulk cargo barge. The tugboat was constructed in the Donjon Shipbuilding and Repair facility over the last 14 months. The still-to-be-named cargo barge is scheduled to be delivered in early spring 2012.

"We are very pleased to see the completion of this state-of-the-art towing vessel, and to share in the success with our partner SEACOR. This represents a new and exciting chapter in our companies' stories," said J. Arnold Witte, President and CEO, Donjon Marine Co., Inc.

Tug Ken Boothe, Sr.
ABS Great Lakes Load Line
Donjon Shipbuilding and Repair Hull #108
LOA 135’ 4”
Beam 50’
Depth 26’
Draft, Design (DWL) 18’
Speed 16 knots<
Horsepower 10,7000
GRT 1250
NRT 832
Connection System - Hydraconn

Unmanned Self-Unloading Dry Cargo Barge
ABS Great Lakes Load Line
Donjon Shipbuilding and Repair Hull #115
LOA – 740’
Beam 78’
Depth 45’
Draft, Keel (DWL) 27’ 6”
Cargo 33,892 LT
Unload Rate 6000 tons-per--hour (most common cargos - iron ore (taconite pellets), coal, and stone)


'Sustainable' 2011 expected from port, director says

3/31 - Portage, Ind. – Optimism poured from Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor Director Peter Laman as he described the prospects for increased activity for 2011. Aboard the Avonborg docked at the port, Laman said the arrival of the first ship of the season symbolizes the 104,000 jobs and $14.2 billion in economic impact generated from waterborne shipping.

After a ceremony Tuesday, Laman said port companies, which provide products such as limestone, steel, coke and scrap, are anticipating 2011 to be better or on par with 2010. "As we open up the 41st shipping season, we expect our core businesses to have a sustainable year," Laman said.

The Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor handled 1.8 million tons of cargo in 2010, up 43 percent from a year earlier. The Ports of Indiana statewide port system handled more than 7.7 million tons at its three ports, which was up 8 percent from 2009.

Laman said the ship, which contained 75 wind turbine blades, contributes to the green environment the country is seeking today. The ship left Esbjerg, Denmark, on March 10 and arrived at the port Sunday.

Vestas, a Danish wind turbine manufacturing company, produced the blades destined for a Horizon Wind Energy windmill farm in Payne, Ohio. Two more ships are expected to arrive at the port in the next few days bringing components for the same project.

Laman said the port is looking to increase its handling of specialty cargoes such as the large windmill component deliveries and turn inquiries made on vacant port property into tangible developments.

He said the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor also will benefit from a deal with Norfolk Southern completed in February. The agreement allows the company to provide dedicated rail-switching services for port customers. He said the deal will increase the efficiency of delivery times at the port, which also is served by the Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad Co.

Port and local officials presented ship Capt. Gert Mol a framed Port of Indiana South Shore poster, a state of Indiana flag pin and mints produced in Indiana. Mol said the ship will remain at the port for a few days while crews unload the turbine components before it heads to Hamilton, Ontario, to get corn and barley to take to Puerto Rico.

Northwest Indiana Business


Ironhead Marine brings jobs to Toledo

3/31 - Toledo, Ohio – Ironhead Marine, Inc. obtained business that resulted in approximately 50 repair and maintenance jobs at the Toledo Shipyard this past winter. The jobs come from the dry-docking of two bulk carrier vessels from the Canadian Steamship Line (CSL) – CSL Tadoussac and CSL Niagara.

The CSL Group Inc. of Montreal, Canada provides marine dry bulk cargo handling and delivery services. According to CSL, it owns and operates a fleet of specialized self-unloading vessels, offshore transshippers, and bulk carriers. The business delivers more than 70 million tons of cargo to industrial customers annually. The company’s history can be traced back to 1845.

According to president of Ironhead Marine, Inc., Tony LaMantia, because of the economic downturn, it has not been often that ships drydock at the Toledo Shipyard. There haven’t been a lot of vessels sailing, he stated. This year’s winter drydocking of the two CSL vessels provided approximately 50 full-time seasonal jobs for welders, boilermakers, and painters and approximately ten to 20 jobs for area sub-contractors.

According to Paul LaMarre III, the director of maritime affairs at the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority, the work on the Tadoussac, a 730-foot, self-unloading bulk carrier, was two-fold. Work was done to the ship’s main propulsion system in addition to a new paint job for the hull. The Tadoussac was sandblasted and transitioned back to the company’s original livery, red and white. The work took just over a month, LaMarre stated. Work on the Niagara, a 739-foot, self-unloading bulk carrier, included replacing a bow thruster propulsion unit, and repairing and replacing the vessel’s keel and rudder shoe. Additionally, Ironhead relocated generators and performed other miscellaneous projects that involved machining and mechanical assembly.

The work on the Tadoussac and the Niagara was done outside, despite arctic weather conditions. LaMantia stated, “It’s always a chore when you’re working outside and its 5°. It reduces your efficiencies when the weather is foul.”

According to LaMarre, “One of the most unique aspects of ship repair on the Great Lakes is the extreme conditions that workers endure. At the shipyard there are no snow days because there is a deadline that has to be met. These ships must set sail on time to meet the needs of our nation’s industry.”

Rudder repairs were performed inside the Toledo Shipyard’s high-bay facility, a 75,000 square foot steel fabrication facility. The facility features a 90-foot span, full length, overhead crane system capable of supporting three 60-ton bridge cranes with a hook height of 50 feet above the finished floor. The building also has accommodation for a 75-foot by 50-foot operable sidewall door to allow complete fabrication of cargo ships up to 850 feet in length.

According to LaMantia, vessels are typically docked from January to April, depending on the weather. If the weather is mild, the ships will continue sailing unless maintenance is required. He stated that every vessel on the Great Lakes has to come to dock and be inspected for insurance purposes. The dock that vessels stop at is determined by logistics, and where the ship is loading and unloading cargo.

According to LaMarre, the Toledo Shipyard is positioned well for docking. He stated that it has direct access to the Great Lakes, major interstates and several rail yards, and it is centrally located to large cities in the Great Lakes region.

“The Port Authority’s relationship with Ironhead is very unique compared to other shipyards on the Great Lakes, in that we are the only publicly owned shipyard in the region,” stated LaMarre. “You typically don’t have a port authority working with a private operator at their port’s shipyard to try to invigorate business development and customer service. The Port Authority is quite proud of the job Ironhead has accomplished over the past few months,” LaMarre continued.

Ironhead Marine, Inc. was chosen to operate at the Toledo Shipyard in 2006 after Manitowoc Marine Group terminated its lease. The company employs union boilermakers and machinists and operates 805-foot and 550-foot graving docks.

According to the Port Authority, the Toledo Shipyard has been providing services on the Great Lakes for more than 100 years. Located on the Maumee River, it is positioned for vessel repairs, as well as the fabrication and shipping of heavy industrial equipment. It is owned by the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority and operated by Ironhead Marine.

Toledo Business Journal


Great Lakes water levels expected to be down this summer

3/31 - Muskegon, Mich. - Lake Michigan’s water level is forecasted to be down this summer, leaving coastal property owners with larger beachfront areas but forcing boaters to navigate shallower water.

Lake Michigan and Lake Huron — technically one body of water — are predicted to be down 8 to 10 inches from last summer’s level, caused by lower than average snowfall and precipitation over the past year, said Keith Kompoltowicz, a meteorologist in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Detroit District Office.

Another factor was less ice on Lake Michigan, which fueled water evaporation and lake effect storms. While the storms dumped a lot of snow on West Michigan this winter, the resulting snowmelt wasn’t a net increase to the lake, officials said.

How severe the lake drop is this summer depends on how much rain and precipitation falls over the Great Lake’s region this spring, Kompoltowicz said.

“The most recent information that I have for precipitation shows that lakes Michigan and Huron have received well above average precipitation so far in March,” Kompoltowicz said. “So that may cause our forecast that we’ll issue next week to be adjusted upward a little bit.”

Lake Superior is expected to be as much as 8 inches below last summer’s level, while Lake Erie is expected to dip as much as 6 inches below last year’s level, according to the Army Corps February forecast. Lake Ontario is expected to equal to or be higher than last summer’s level.

If Lake Michigan’s water level dips as expected, it means boaters will have to be more mindful of where they pilot their vessels, said Kathleen Torresen, general manager of Torresen Marine in Muskegon.

“Every couple of inches matters, and it has to do with the boaters’ awareness of the water they’re on,” Torresen said. “When people just take for granted that everything is the same as it’s ever been, they could start running into things they haven’t before.”

Falling water levels are nothing new to the Great Lakes, Kompoltowicz said. Since the late 1990s, Lake Michigan has undergone its second longest stretch of continuously below average levels since the Army Corps began collecting data in the mid-1800s.

Lake Michigan surged to a near record high in May 1997, when it was 9 inches below the all-time record high of 582.3 feet recorded in October 1986, 4.8 feet above the average surface level.

Dry winters and low precipitation caused Lake Michigan levels to decline, Kompoltowicz said.

By December 2007, the water level had sunk to near historic lows. The lake rebounded in June 2008, when it rose 6 inches in one month — triple the average rise in June, according to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers data.

“It’s been kind of gain a little bit, lose a little bit. Gain a little more, lose a little more,” Kompoltowicz said. “We just haven’t had that consistent, very snowy winter, wet spring several years in a row to get us back to average.”

For beachgoers, the drop isn’t a bad thing. Every inch rise in lake levels equates to 10 inches of lost beach, according to government data. At Grand Haven State Park, the rise and fall in lake levels hasn’t led to large changes in the park’s beachfront since Supervisor Pat Whalen came to the park eight years ago.

“Year-to-year, it might be a 30 to 40 feet difference in the shoreline, but nothing substantial,” Whalen said.

Look at the shoreline 40 years ago, and it’s a different story, he said. “We’ve got pictures that show it was much higher,” Whalen said. “At least a 150-foot difference or more back in the ‘70s.”

But what’s good for beach lovers is bad for the Great Lakes shipping industry.

Glen Nekvasil, spokesman for the Lake Carriers’ Association, said every inch of water lost equates to a diminished carrying capacity of anywhere from 50 tons to 270 tons.

“It’s only rare that we lose an inch,” he said. “Oftentimes we are talking a foot or more.”

Where the decline hurts the shipping industry is water levels near Michigan’s 38 ports, Nekvasil said. The Army Corps of Engineers needs to remove about 15.5 million cubic yards of sediment to make the waterways more navigable, he said.

“When we say lake levels that’s actually kind of a misnomer because out in the middle of the lake obviously you’ve got more water than you would ever know what to do with,” he said. “It’s the water level in the ports and the connecting channels.”

By the end of this week, the King Co. of Holland was to begin dredging the Muskegon harbor, an action performed every three years. Last October, the 1,000-foot Indiana Harbor coal-carrying freighter ran aground near the entrance of the harbor on its way to the Consumers Energy B.C. Cobb plant. The freighter also ran aground in nearly the same location in August 2007.

Recreational boaters probably won’t notice a dramatic difference this summer, even on White Lake and Muskegon Lake, said Eric Harsch, co-owner of at Crosswinds Marine Service in Whitehall.

“The key factor is being up on your local knowledge and knowing your charts,” he said. “The shallower parts are going to be shallower but there’s deeper parts to get in.”

The Muskegon Chronicle


Talks progressing on cross-lake ferry service between Cleveland and Port Stanley

3/31 - Port Stanley, Ont. - A delegation of officials from Central Elgin, Ont., spent last Friday in Cleveland meeting with Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority officials and others about launching a cross-lake ferry service.

Officials from both sides are eager to explore the opportunity and agreed to craft a memorandum of understanding outlining their shared vision and next steps. If a ferry service results it would begin on a pilot basis, operating between Cleveland and Port Stanley with a focus on tourism and other passenger demand.

“We were quite pleased with our discussions and impressed by Cleveland’s many tourist attractions,” said Central Elgin Mayor Bill Walters. “I believe this proposed ferry service would create a wonderful international gateway and cultivate new opportunities for travel and economic development.”

Joining Mayor Walters for the Cleveland visit were: Central Elgin Councillors Russell Matthews and Dan McNeil, Don Leitch, the municipality’s chief administrative officer, and Kate Burns, marketing & communications coordinator for Elgin County. The Municipality of Central Elgin is a rural municipality comprised of a number of communities, including Port Stanley.

Port Authority President and CEO Will Friedman reopened ferry discussions with Central Elgin officials last fall. The service had been contemplated for years, but did not materialize, in part because the Canadian government had not completed a long-awaited transfer of the waterfront property to local control.

Initially the concept was to create a service primarily serving as a short cut for cross-border trucking. The focus is now on tourism, recreation and other passenger demand, with only limited truck traffic. That would allow for a smaller more fuel-efficient ferry that could accommodate passengers and cars as well as bicycles and tour buses.

The concept fits with a broader vision for the uses of Port Stanley’s harbor. Ferry service could also result in increased tourism for other Ontario destinations including London, St. Thomas, Kitchener-Waterloo and Stratford – as well as other destinations in Northeast Ohio.

“Friday’s meeting was a great start toward creating a possible new border crossing connecting downtown Cleveland and Ontario,” Friedman said. “We still have a good deal of work to do to make the service a reality. But we share the same goals and vision for the service – and see terrific opportunities for leisure and business travel by boat that we believe residents of Northeast Ohio and Ontario would embrace.”

Friedman and Mayor Walters said a Memorandum of Understanding would establish guiding principles and set out next steps.

During their visit to Cleveland, the Central Elgin officials also met with other local officials and community leaders, toured downtown Cleveland and heard a presentation from HMS Global Maritime, Inc., a ferry service management company based in New Albany, Ind.

Gary Seabrook, HMS executive vice president, showcased the type of vessel that could most efficiently be used; mid-speed catamaran with a large passenger cabin, an open-air deck and a vehicle deck for up to 50 cars and a limited number of trucks and buses. This type of vessel is in widespread use around the globe due to its very high level of capacity in relation to its size as well as fuel efficiency, ease of maintenance and acceptable crossing speed. The vessel can be designed to be very green by today’s standards.

“This type of vessel provides a mini-cruise experience, with access to internet, movies and comfortable seating,” Seabrook said. “It hits the sweet spot between large conventional ferries and large high-speed crafts that have higher operating costs and require deeper harbors.”


Ice boom removal still a week away

3/31 - Buffalo, N.Y. - There is still more than twice the amount of ice on the eastern end of Lake Erie than is needed to remove the ice boom. "It's not going to happen Friday, but at some point afterwards," said Michael Saltzman, spokesman for the New York Power Authority.

Ice boom regulations require that the removal of the boom start on April 1, unless there is more than 250 square miles of ice on the eastern end of the lake.

The International Joint Commission estimated late last week that about 27 percent -- or about 530 square miles -- of the lake's eastern basin was covered with ice. The 1.7-mile-long ice boom -- made up of metal pontoons linked together -- holds back ice floes from entering the Niagara River and damaging water intakes for the Power Authority's Niagara Power Project.

"The Power Authority is planning additional aerial observation of the lake in the coming days to obtain the latest square mileage of ice cover," Saltzman said.

Last year, crews started removing the boom March 22. The earliest the boom was opened was March 5, 1998, and the latest was May 3, 1971, according to the International Joint Commission's International Niagara Board of Control.

Steve McLaughlin, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service at Buffalo Niagara International Airport, estimated that it could be at least a week before enough ice melts on the lake to remove the boom.

McLaughlin said the temperatures this month have shaped up to be just about average. Overall temperatures have been just 2 degrees below normal, and the 13 inches of snow that fell is about typical, McLaughlin said. But a cold spell that started last Wednesday has kept temperatures about 15 degrees below normal for the week, McLaughlin said.

Despite the cold temperatures, constant sunshine has helped reduce the ice cover in recent days, he said.

Buffalo News


$1,000 fine levied for commercial fishing violation

3/31 - A Lake Erie commercial fisherman pleaded guilty and has been fined $1,000 for violating the terms and conditions of his commercial fishing licence and allowing fish to spoil.

John S. Anderson of Wheatley, Ont., captain of the commercial fishing vessel, Jacks Queen, failed to declare his entire catch of walleye on his daily catch report and was fined $500. He was also fined $500 for allowing fish to spoil

The court heard that on August 18, 2010, conservation officers with the Lake Erie Enforcement Unit were conducting a commercial fisheries marine patrol in the Chatham-Kent waters of Lake Erie. The officers observed the commercial fishing vessel Jacks Queen fishing approximately 10 kilometres south of Wheatley. Following the fishing vessel, the officers collected from the water four spoiled walleye that were discarded by Anderson. Further investigation revealed the fish had spoiled because the gill nets were left in the water too long.

Judge Donald Ebbs heard the case in the Ontario Court of Justice, Chatham, on March 25, 2011.


Dossin Maritime Group hosts 4th annual regatta April 10

3/31 - Detroit, Mich. – The Detroit River outside the Dossin Great Lakes Museum will be the site of the fourth annual Dossin Regatta, presented by the Detroit Historical Society’s Dossin Maritime Group. Weather permitting, the event will take place Sunday, April 10 from 11 a.m. 2 p.m. and will feature match races pitting boys and girls crews from the Detroit Boat Club Crew, Toledo St. Johns Jesuit High School (boys) and St. Ursula Academy (girls) from Toledo.

Indoor rowing demonstrations will be offered from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. inside the Dossin Museum, and information about taking up the sport of rowing will also be available. The races begin at 12:15 p.m. with prime viewing available from DeRoy Hall inside the museum. An awards ceremony and refreshments will conclude the event, starting at approximately 1:30 p.m.

Admission to the museum is free, although donations are accepted. Guests may also watch the rowing events from the banks of the Detroit River near the Dossin Great Lakes Museum. For more information, call (313) 833-5538 or visit


Updates -  March 31

News Photo Gallery


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 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.


Port Reports -  March 30

St. Marys River
The downbound Stewart J. Cort and Hon. James L. Oberstar cleared DeTour near first light Tuesday. Both headed for Lake Michigan. Philip R. Clarke, Cason J. Callaway, Burns Harbor, Manitowoc, Alpena and the tug John Spence/barge Niagara Spirit were also downbound. Joseph L. Block was upbound around noon and CSL Tadoussac was in the lower river at dusk. USCG Neah Bay worked quickly to clear ice that had broken off from shore in the Rock Cut Tuesday afternoon, threatening to halt ferry operations to Neebish Island. After a quick trip to the dock at Group Soo, the cutter Mackinaw returned to her station assisting vessels in Whitefish Bay. Cedarglen remained at the Essar dock in Soo, Ont., where she arrived sometime early in the morning Tuesday, presumably to load.

Sturgeon Bay, Wis. – Wendell Willke
Wilfred Sykes departed layup at Bay Shipbuilding at shortly after 2 p.m. Tuesday, bound for Lake Michigan through the Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal, with plenty of salutes given by Capt. Eric Treece. She departed the canal entering Lake Michigan at 4:30 p.m. upbound for Escanaba.

Alpena, Mich. - Dan McNeil
The steamer Alpena was due back to her namesake port on Wednesday after unloading her cargo in Superior, Wis.

Cleveland, Ohio
American Spirit was about to make the C&P-Cleveland Bulk Terminal with the first inbound ore for the season at 1630 Tuesday, waiting for the Pathfinder to clear.

Welland Canal
Algorail went into drydock this afternoon at Port Weller, reportedly for repairs to her tailshaft.

Toronto, Ont. - Charlie Gibbons
Hamilton Energy was in overnight Monday bunkering vessels in port. Beluga Fusion was renamed BBC Steinhoeft while in port, and she is at Pier 51. Unloading began Tuesday.


Shipwreck in Lake Erie belongs to state of New York, says judge

3/30 - Buffalo, N.Y. – A historic ship that lies deep beneath the waves of Lake Erie is the property of New York’s state government, a federal judge ruled Monday.

Ratifying a recommendation given last year by a magistrate judge, U. S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara ruled against a private company that wants to raise the ship and put it on display on Buffalo’s waterfront.

The two-masted ship, which historians believe may have been used by the British during the War of 1812, is sunk in a deep pocket of the lake about 20 miles off the coast of Dunkirk. Historians believe the ship may also have been used in the 1800s as part of the Underground Railroad, transporting escaped slaves from the United States to Canada. It sank more than 150 years ago.

“In sum, the passage of over 150 years since the sinking of the vessel, along with the absence of any effort to locate or salvage the vessel by the owners or their decedents . . . demonstrates an intent to abandon [the ship],” Arcara wrote in a 12-page decision.

A legal fight over plans by a private firm, Northeast Research, to raise the ship has been waged in federal court since 2004. While Northeast Research wants to put the ship on public display, historic preservation officials in state government prefer to leave it where it is.

Arcara’s decision ratifies a “report and recommendation” that was issued in the case last year by Magistrate Judge Leslie G. Foschio.

Buffalo News Toledo Shipyards busy as shipping season looms Toledo, Ohio – The winter layover season is history and the Great Lakes shipping season is about to get underway in just a matter of weeks. As the pulse of activity picks up on the lakes, the Toledo Shipyards is keeping busy with ships lining up along the Maumee riverfront awaiting repairs and new paint.

Just this week, the CSL Tadoussac, a 730-foot Canadian freighter, left the Toledo shipyards after undergoing numerous repairs and getting a fresh coat of red paint, while the CSL Niagara remains in dry dock for a few more days after workers made repairs to her props and a new paint job.

The Toledo Shipyards, operated by Ironhead Marine, is the last facility on Lake Erie with big enough dry docks to handle the big freighters. Coupled with an experienced workforce and a new high bay facility for fabrication of parts, they have experienced an increase in activity. This year may be better than in recent years as the shipping companies anticipate an increase in Great Lakes activity by as much as seven percent.

The shipyard facility in Toledo has a long history and tradition. Hundreds of ships have been built at the Front Street facility over the last century, and Paul LaMarre III, the Maritime Affairs Director for the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority said the future looks strong.

"Ultimately, shipbuilding in Toledo is a big part of the industrial history of the city and you look at the number of people it has employed and what it means to the economy, it is priceless,” he observed.

NBC 24 U.S. budget cuts target Holland Harbor dredging Holland, MI — Before summer starts, Holland Harbor will be dredged for the season — but don’t expect to see the King Company barges in the channel next year if the latest federal budget plan passes without changes for Great Lakes harbors. The proposed fiscal year 2012 budget eliminates dredging funds for 13 Michigan ports, including Holland.

“It is impossible to fathom the rationale behind this abandonment of vital ports,” said John D. Baker, president of Great Lakes Maritime Task Force, in a news release issued Monday. “We are talking about ports that in some instances can annually handle more than 10 million tons of cargo in a strong economy. We are putting jobs at risk for no reason whatsoever.”

The budget cuts funding to ports that handle less than 1 million tons of cargo, said Lauren Phillips of U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga’s office.

Holland Harbor ranks among the top 75 Great Lakes harbors, with 634,000 tons of material shipped or received in 2005, according to the Army Corps of Engineers. Bulk commodities that pass through the harbor generate more than $7.7 million in direct revenue, supporting nearly 100 jobs.

Huizenga understands how important dredging is to Holland, Phillips said. The Holland congressman hosted a forum on dredging earlier this month in Muskegon. “He’s continuing to work with stakeholders to ensure Holland Harbor receives dredging funds,” she said.

Huizenga is a co-sponsor of H.R. 104, a bill that would ensure funds from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund are used for harbors. The trust fund was established in 1986 to operate and maintain ports and is funded through taxes.

Related bills in the House and Senate would require the fund to spend what it takes in each year, about $1.6 billion, rather than use the surplus to paper balance the federal budget, said Baker.

The Army Corps awarded a contract to King Co. of Holland for $319,500 to clear the outer Holland Harbor this year. Grand Haven also is included in this year’s funding. Work should be completed by the end of May.

If the harbor isn’t kept clear, incoming loads will have to be lightened, increasing costs to users such as the Holland Board of Public Works, officials said.

The Holland Sentinel


Shipwreck discovered between Saugatuck and South Haven

3/30 - Holland, MI — Researchers have found the shipwreck of what could be one of the oldest vessels in southern Lake Michigan. Underwater video of this new discovery will be shown at the annual Mysteries and Histories Beneath the Inland Seas event at 7 p.m. Saturday, April 16, at the Knickerbocker Theatre in Holland.

Holland-based Michigan Shipwreck Research Associates made the discovery of the 60-foot, single-masted sloop dating back to perhaps the 1830s in deep water between Saugatuck and South Haven. The group was working in collaboration with author Clive Cussler and his sonar operator Ralph Wilbanks of the National Underwater & Marine Agency.

During an exploratory dive to the 250-foot deep wreck, the research group made note of three features that are significantly different from sailing vessels dating to the mid- and late-19th-century: the lack of a centerboard, the presence of a raised afterdeck and deadlights (a pair of openings) in the stern that allowed light to reach the cargo hold.

The shipwreck group’s historians have verified that the vessel’s construction and design is consistent with ships built in the 1820s and 1830s, making it perhaps one of the oldest vessels discovered in the southern basin of Lake Michigan. The vessel sits upright and is in good condition considering it was built nearly 200 years ago.

Exact identification will be difficult because these small, early sloops were rarely documented and most had wrecked or been scrapped before photography became available, according to the group which will continue to research and explore the wreck during the 2011 season.

Mysteries and Histories Beneath the Inland Seas will also include a program about four Ottawa County shipwrecks presented by local author Craig Rich. Attendees will learn about the newly discovered steamer Westmoreland, the schooner Marion Egan and the steamer Lady Elgin in which 300 people perished in the lakes’ deadliest disaster, the subject of Michigan Shipwreck Research Associates author Valerie van Heest’s latest book.

Tickets for the show are available at the Michigan Shipwreck Research Associates’ website at

The Holland Sentinel


2 new exhibits to open at Dossin Great Lakes Museum in Detroit

3/30 - Detroit, Mich. – Starting Saturday, April 9, Dossin Great Lakes Museum will feature two new exhibits: To Scale: Great Lakes Model Ship Builders and Bells and Whistles, Flags and Flashes: Lost Languages of the Lakes.

Visitors will be engaged on a variety of different levels and experience the largest collection of model Great Lakes vessels anywhere at the To Scale: Great Lakes Model Ship Builders exhibit. Model shipbuilding is an endangered folk art and is an important part of Great Lakes maritime culture. As such, guests can explore the art of model shipbuilding in a highly interactive way, learn about the history of model-making in the region and hear stories about specific vessels themselves. Model-making tools will be showcased, and a model builder will be on site as well during select museum hours. This exhibit is sponsored by Art Works, the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Visitors will also learn about the various methods used by mariners to communicate with other sailors, vessels and people along the shores in the Bells and Whistles, Flags and Flashes exhibit. Over the centuries, sailors used various tools and codes to communicate, including flags, flares, bells, whistles, drums and speaking trumpets. The advent of electronic communication brought telegraphy, lights, radios and cell phones. However, all these special languages were encoded to allow these various tools to be employed and understood by other ships and shore-based observers. Adults and kids of all ages will enjoy learning about communication on the Great Lakes through an interactive display of ship horns, whistles and other unique devices.

The Dossin Great Lakes Museum, located at 100 Strand Drive on Belle Isle, is open Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free at the Museum for the duration of 2011, however, donations are welcome. Permanent exhibits include the Miss Pepsi 1950s championship hydroplane, a bow anchor from the S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald, the pilothouse from the Great Lakes freighter S.S. William Clay Ford, and one of the largest known collections of scale model ships in the world. For more information visit


Sole survivor Dennis Hale to speak Saturday in Sturgeon Bay

3/30 - Sturgeon Bay, Wis. - The 2011 Door County Maritime Museums Winter Speakers Series comes to a dramatic close on Saturday night, April 2, at Bay View Lutheran Church in Sturgeon Bay.

Dennis Hale, subject of the book “Sole Survivor” and author of the recently released autobiography “Reflections of the Sole Survivor,” will be the featured speaker. The program begins at 7 p.m. Hale’s’ program was originally scheduled for the museum but ticket sales exceeded seating capacity, prompting the move to the church which is located just down the street from the museum at 340 W. Maple Street.

“Hales is a remarkable story and we wanted to make the presentation available to as many people as we could, “said Bob Desh, the museum’s executive director.

Hale’s ordeal remains one of the most remarkable shipwreck survival stories on record. As the steamship Daniel J. Morrell was torn apart by 30-foot waves and 60 mile-per-hour winds on the evening of Nov. 29, 1966, Hale was cast into the frigid waters of Lake Huron. He was clad only in a life jacket, pea coat and his underwear. He survived two nights and 38 hours in all on a life raft while three shipmates perished before his eyes. He was the only survivor of a crew of 29.

Unlike the other free programs that have preceded it in the series, tickets must be purchased for Hale’s program. Despite the expanded seating that Bay View provides, a limited number of tickets will be available. Tickets sell for $5 for Museum members and $12 for non-members and are available by contacting the Maritime Museum at 920-743-5958 or visiting the Museum at 120 N. Madison Ave. in Sturgeon Bay. For more information visit


Welland Canal Notices to Shipping

3/30 - Please note that Welland Canal Notices to Shipping #3 - #6 and #9 have been issued.

Click here to view the notices


Updates -  March 30

News Photo Gallery
Historical Perspectives Gallery updated - new pictures in the Manzutti gallery


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.

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.


Port Reports -  March 29

Twin Ports – Al Miller
Kaye E. Barker was in Fraser Shipyards in Superior on Monday undergoing repairs for damage it suffered in the ice in the St. Marys River. A Great Lakes Towing tug broke ice for the steamer ahead of its arrival.
 The Hon. James R. Oberstar was scheduled to load its first cargo under its new name at Two Harbors on Monday.

Marquette, Mich. - Rod Burdick
Monday morning at the Upper Harbor, Philip R. Clarke made an uncommon visit to load ore.  She was last at the Upper Harbor in the fall of 2008.

St. Marys River
Ice remained heavy in Whitefish Bay and the upper river, while a west wind continued to blow ice into the lock approaches, causing difficulty for Mesabi Miner, which took nearly three hours to lock through Monday afternoon thanks to difficulty opening the lower gates. After she cleared, several vessels followed down in close succession, including Ojibway, American Mariner, Canadian Olympic, Saguenay, James R. Barker and Joyce L. Van Enkevort/Great Lakes Trader. Upbound traffic included CSL Assinaboine at mid-day. USCG Mackinaw has been standing by in Whitefish Bay to assist vessels.

Grand Haven, Mich. - Dick Fox
The tug Undaunted and barge Pere Marquette 41 came into Verplank's Dock in Ferrysburg at 10 a.m. Monday.  At 4 p.m. it was just about finished unloading.  Originally expected Sunday evening, they were delayed by windy conditions on Lake Michigan.

Detroit, Mich. - Ken Borg
CSL Tadoussac was upbound on the Detroit River at the Ambassador Bridge about 3:30 p.m. Monday. This is her first run of the 2011 season after departing lay-up Monday in Toledo.

Hamilton, Ont. - Eric Holmes
Monday the Ocean Group tug Omni Richelieu departed at 7:30 a.m. for Clarkson. Canadian Transport departed at noon for Goderich in ballast. The tug Sea Eagle II and barge St. Marys Cement II departed winter layup at 4:30 p.m. for Bowmanville. Hamilton Energy departed right behind and was headed to Toronto for bunkering. Tug Karen Andrie and barge arrived at 7:30 p.m. with a cargo of asphalt.


Wind turbine parts arrive at Burns Harbor port

3/29 - The 2011 international shipping season is under way at the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor following the arrival of its first ship.

The Avonborg docked at the Portage port Sunday, which is the end of a voyage that started at Esbjerg, Denmark. Local and state port officials will lead a ceremony at the port noon Tuesday celebrating the launch of its 41st season of operation. Avonborg was the first ship through the St. Lambert lock in Quebec, Canada, as the St. Lawrence Seaway opened its 53rd shipping season March 22.

Workers removed cargo from the vessel Monday, which carried 75 wind turbine blades to a Horizon Wind Energy project in Payne, Ohio. Port officials said in a news release the 161-foot-long wind turbine blades are the longest North American blades in existence. Payne is located less than 40 miles east of Fort Wayne.

The first three ships to arrive at the port this season will be carrying windmill blades from Denmark. The next shipments will carry 75 blades and 36 blades.

Last season, the port handled its largest project cargo shipment ever as 134 complete wind turbine units from various Great Lakes locations. The windmills were stored at the port for several months on 20 acres of land. In a news release, port officials attributed the increase in wind shipments to the port's proximity to new Midwestern wind farms and its infrastructure, equipment and cargo-handling team.

Located at the southern tip of Lake Michigan, the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor is the only one of the statewide port system's three locations that doesn't sit on a river. The other two locations are Mount Vernon and Jeffersonville, which are located on the Ohio River in southern Indiana.

NW Times


Coast Guard icebreaking operations scheduled for southern Georgian Bay

3/29 - Midland, Ont. – The Canadian Coast Guard says it will be conducting icebreaking operations this week on Southern Georgian Bay. On Tuesday, a Coast Guard ship will be clearing a path into Midland Bay. This operation will assist in the safe transit of the Frontenac scheduled to depart Midland the following day.

Light spring ice will result in hazardous and unstable conditions. Any ice on this route should be considered unsafe and the Coast Guard advises everyone to stay clear. Newly fallen snow can quickly cover icebreaker tracks, resulting in well-camouflaged and dangerous open water. Tracks can remain open long after the ships have departed the area.

Midland Times


Coast Guard begins “Operation Spring Restore”

3/29 - Cleveland, Ohio - The Ninth Coast Guard District begins restoring the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway aids to navigation system Monday following the re-opening of the Soo Locks and St. Lawrence Seaway Friday and the resumption of the shipping season.

Operation Spring Restore involves the re-installment of approximately 1,263 navigational aids, including lighted and unlighted buoys and beacons, with an expected completion date of May 28, 2011. The aids, which are roughly half in the region, are taken out of service during the winter months due to decreased vessel traffic and to minimize damage from ice and inclement weather. This is known as Operation Fall Retrieve.

The Ninth District's aids to navigation system facilitates safe and efficient maritime activity on the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway region by marking safe passage for domestic, international, commercial and recreational vessel traffic. On the Great Lakes, the Coast Guard manages 2,574 federal aids in the region.

To accomplish the mission, the Ninth District employs six U.S. Coast Guard cutters, five aids to navigation teams and five small boat stations with aids to navigation duties. The Coast Guard is assisted in this endeavor by: the Lamplighters, a group of civilian employees who manage the inland waters of northern Minnesota; the Canadian Coast Guard; and the St. Lawrence Seaway Corporation.

The Coast Guard Auxiliary also helps the district with verification of approximately 1,700 privately-owned aids to navigation in the region.

The waters of the Great Lakes are marked to assist navigation by the U.S. Aids to Navigation System. This system employs a simple arrangement of colors, shapes, numbers and light characteristics to mark navigable channels, waterways and obstructions adjacent to them.

The aids restored during Operation Spring Restore include, but are not limited to lighted structures, beacons, day markers, range lights, fog signals, landmarks and buoys (lighted and unlighted).


Boats break the ice, clear way for Great Lakes freighters

3/29 - Algonac, Mich. – Crew members trod carefully across the frozen decks and cast off the ice-encrusted lines, just as the sun started to peak above the Canadian horizon. The 140-foot U.S. Coast Guard cutter Bristol Bay shoved off from Algonac for a day of breaking ice in the St. Clair River.

The Bristol Bay's objective was the delta region at the mouth of the river. There, the river narrows into several channels. With all the power of Lake Huron driving the ice south, the potential for ice to jam the smaller channels grows as spring sends more ice downstream.

The Detroit-based Bristol Bay's mission is twofold: First, keep the channel free for the lake freighters and, if they do get stuck, help them shake free. Second, prevent an ice jam at the mouth of the river, which could cause devastating flood damage above the jam.

"There's just so much ice on the lake compared to what the river can handle," said Lt. Cmdr. Matt ten Berge, the cutter's captain.

Behind the Bristol Bay, ice quickly closed over the path that was just cut. It was the beginning of a 12- to 15-hour day.

Breakout time on the Great Lakes is big deal for freighters and their crews. The lakers are heading for the ore and grain ports off Lake Superior, hoping to make the most of the new shipping season.

The Paul R. Tregurtha was the first ship through the locks, which opened promptly at 12:01 a.m. About 10,000 passages through the locks will be logged by the time they close next winter. But first, the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Mackinac -- 240 feet long and the queen of the Great Lakes ice breakers -- made a test trip through the locks Wednesday and then headed into Lake Superior to clear the way for the freighters.

Breakout is more than the rebirth of commerce on the Great Lakes; it's also the symbolic end of winter.

"It's a big thing for the freighters, crews and companies. It's a big thing for the Coast Guard," said Joel Stone, curator of the Detroit Historical Society's Ft. Wayne collection. "And it's a big thing for the people who live along the lakes."

The Coast Guard is concentrating on breaking ice in two areas, the St. Clair River north of Detroit and St. Mary's River near the locks. The Bristol Bay is patrolling the St. Clair River, along with the Morro Bay, out of New London, Conn., and the Hollyhock, out of Port Huron. Canadian Coast Guard cutters often in this area have been moved south to Lake Erie to help the freighters breaking out of Erie, Pa.

There's usually little need to patrol the Detroit River this time of year. The ice tends to melt in shallower, and therefore warmer, Lake St. Clair, leaving the Detroit River relatively free of ice problems.

On board the Bristol Bay, the 30 crew members have been breaking ice since Dec. 20. When the ice season will end depends on the wind as much as the weather. A north-northeast wind will send the ice into the river. A south-southeast wind will keep the ice in Lake Huron until it melts.

Warm spells don't necessarily mean a quick finish to the ice-breaking season.

"Usually, the short, warm spells create more problems because the ice breaks off and the river fills up really quickly," said ten Berge, who hails from Chino Valley, Ariz.

The Bristol Bay's crew is led by a trio of U.S. Coast Guard Academy graduates, and this is clearly a military operation. Ten Berge stands, often with his arms crossed, on the bridge, while the nearby officer of the day gives commands that the helmsman promptly repeats.

"Rudder amidship," is immediately followed by "Rudder amidship, aye." There's little chitchat beyond the occasional call from the nearby Morro Bay or the Coast Guard station in Detroit.

Below decks, members of the engineering crew keep their eyes on dozens of gauges. They could run the ship from below as long as someone acted as their eyes on the bridge. With a 4,000-mile fuel range, they won't need to refuel often.

Many chose the Coast Guard over other services because they wanted to help Americans more directly while serving their country.

"I wanted to stay closer to home so I'd actually impact the people," said fireman Julian Pedraza of Raleigh, N.C., who is on his first tour.

Was the cold Michigan winter a shock to a Southerner? "I bought a really good coat," Pedraza said, smiling.

The crews work 12 to 15 hours each day with no breaks. They'll remain on their station, living aboard the Bristol Bay and not going home to their families until the ice is gone.

"The dangerous part is the unpredictability of the ice," ten Berge said. "It pushes the ship around quite a bit."

It's not just a question of keeping the ships moving forward. The ice can prevent a vessel from turning as it navigates through the winding river. That means the cutters spend a good deal of time working perilously close to the bow of moving vessels to give them room to maneuver.

Seaman Corey Engel, a Farmington Hills native, showed a photo of the Bristol Bay bow to bow with a barge it was escorting. The two boats had just a foot or less separating them. The photo shows several Bristol Bay crew members on the cutter's bow, taking photos. Above them, crew members on the much larger barge were standing on their bow, taking their own photos.

"When we're working a vessel-direct assist, that's where the fun is," Engel said.

Detroit Free Press


Radioactive shipment delayed

3/29 - Tiverton, Ont. - Bruce Power says it's delaying plans to ship 16 radioactive steam generators through the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River.

Bruce Power president Duncan Hawthorne says the delay will allow further discussion with First Nations, Metis and others seeking additional information about the shipment. The company wants to ship the generators — giant steel cylinders the size of a school bus — from an Ontario nuclear plant to Sweden for recycling.

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission issued a transport licence and certificate to Bruce Power last month, determining the risk to the health and safety of the public and the environment is negligible.

The move is strongly opposed by aboriginal groups, the Bloc Quebecois, the NDP and a number of community organizations. Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath says shipping radioactive waste through the Great Lakes is not the right thing to do and welcomed the delay.

"We think it's an unnecessary environmental and health risk to transport them, so we've been saying for over a year keep them where they are," Horwath said.

And Horwath said Bruce Power should stick to its original plan and store the generators at its site in Ontario.

But Hawthorne said "recycling this material is the right thing to do, and our regulator has given us a licence to proceed. We recognize there is a level of concern among some groups that we want to address before proceeding," Hawthorne said Monday.

"We've successfully met our regulatory obligations, but have not yet met our own standard of providing information to some of those legitimate groups, particularly the First Nations and Metis," he said.

"For that reason, we have chosen to delay the shipments to allow that information flow to take place," Hawthorne said.

Bruce Power has said about 90 per cent of the metal in the steam generators can be decontaminated, melted down and sold back into the scrap metal market.

The rest will be returned to the Bruce Power site for long-term storage. Each steam generator contains 100 tonnes of steel but less than four grams of radioactive substances.

Canadian Press


Updates -  March 29

Weekly Website Updates
News Photo Gallery


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.

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.

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


Port Reports -  March 28

Marquette, Mich. - Rod Burdick
Lee A. Tregurtha and American Mariner loaded ore at the Upper Harbor on a clear but cold Sunday afternoon.

St. Marys River
The ice-damaged Kaye E. Barker departed upbound in the early morning hours Sunday. Herbert C. Jackson, also damaged by ice, left Soo Harbor downbound around 6 p.m. Other traffic included the upbound Edwin H. Gott, Arthur M. Anderson and Philip R. Clarke, as well as the downbound American Spirit, Roger Blough and Cuyahoga. Late Sunday evening, the USCG Mackinaw was assisting the downbound Paul R. Tregurtha through heavy ice in the upper river.

Toronto, Ont. - Charlie Gibbons
The first two salties of the season arrived in port overnight Saturday. Tundra, the first arrival, is unloading sugar at Redpath, while Beluga Fusion is working at Pier 51 west.

Sarnia, Ont. - Frank Frisk
CSL Assiniboine was upbound from Sarnia Sunday about 5 p.m. for Duluth to load iron ore at Burlington Northern Ore Docks.


Taconite is back, Iron Range revs up

3/28 - Duluth, Minn. – Minnesota’s iron ore industry has bounced back to full speed this spring, less than two years after hitting rock-bottom — one of the fastest turnarounds in a century of mining.

As the first lakers of the 2011 season leave ore docks in Duluth, Two Harbors, Silver Bay and Superior with full loads of taconite bound for steel mills on the lower lakes, Iron Range taconite experts and workers say they are poised to hit full capacity in taconite production even as they plan to expand.

“Everyone is going at full capacity-plus right now and we’ve got new projects down the line,” said Craig Pagel, executive director of the Iron Mining Association of Minnesota. “It’s having a ripple effect on our whole region’s economy.”

Suddenly, an industry tied since the 1800s to national and global economic slumps and upturns seems to have shortened the period between bust and boom. That’s good news for Northeastern Minnesota’s economy, which is tied to hard-rock mining more than most people know.

“Everyone’s back to work now. You can have all the overtime you want. … And they’re trying to hire new people,” said Jack Thronson, an electrician at Keetac in Keewatin and president of Steelworkers Local 2660. “It was pretty bad in 2009; we were down for most of a year. But things have changed so fast. The steel demand is supposed to be good for a while now.”

It’s been a whirlwind four years. In 2008, the industry was eating high on the hog, producing 39 million tons of taconite iron ore — one of the best years of the decade. But the global economic meltdown that started in late 2008 caused one of the fastest downturns ever. Production in 2009 dropped by more than half to the lowest level since 1963, just 17 million tons.

For a few weeks in 2009, all six of the state’s taconite plants were completely shut down, and nearly all their workers were laid off. It was suddenly slim pickings, rivaling the early 1980s when the industry lost half its workers, half its production and some 20,000 residents moved out of St. Louis County to find new homes and jobs elsewhere.

Fast-forward to 2010 and the recession quickly became old news. Taconite production rocketed back to 37.5 million tons and employment returned to 3,600 workers. Global steel demand turned healthy again and demand for Minnesota ore was heavy.

Experts say one key to the breakneck bounce-back was taconite plant owners quickly reacting to dwindling demand by squeezing off production. In years past, the industry responded at a snail’s pace, often leading to huge stockpiles of unwanted ore followed by long periods of slowdown and shutdown.

“They shut down faster this time, with some very harsh consequences for the workers,” said Drew Digby, regional analyst for the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. “But it’s allowed them to bounce back faster as well.”

The rebound has also meant more trains hauling taconite from the Range to Lake Superior and more freighters hauling it across the Great Lakes and beyond.

“It’s always good news when our Minnesota operations are at or near capacity, and that’s where we are,” said Sandy Karnowski, Cliffs Minnesota regional manager of public affairs.

For 2011, industry experts say production will hit at least 40 million tons, a mark not seen since LTV Steel permanently shuttered in 2000. Production could go higher if plants continue to push the efficiency envelope, Pagel said. “All indications are that world steel demand should remain high.”

Compounding the economic good news are new products and new markets. Mesabi Nugget is making an iron nugget that can be used in electric mini-mills, a new market for Minnesota ore. Ore concentrate pulled from what used to be waste by upstart producer Magnetation in Nashwauk is heading to Mexico.

And the growing new market of China is hungry for taconite pellets. Cliffs Natural Resources has said it will ship 1 million tons of Michigan and Minnesota taconite pellets there this year.

“The price per ton on that (taconite going to China) is something close to $200, and it’s never been that high before,” Pagel said.

For the first time in any major way, the price that foreign steel mills are willing to pay for the ore will more than cover the huge cost of shipping taconite from Minnesota overseas. Minnesota-processed taconite is now competing with raw iron ore from Brazil and Australia.

Magnetation’s Matt Lehtinen noted that his company’s iron ore concentrate is being shipped to a Mexican mill by train, taking the place of raw ore from Brazil.

“It now matters more for Minnesota taconite whether India’s growth rate is 8 percent or 12 percent than what sales are for the U.S. auto industry,” Digby said.

Just how good is it now for the taconite companies?

Peter Kakela, Michigan State University professor and an expert on the global iron ore industry, said companies are selling taconite at four times what it cost to produce, a return on investment unheard of in the past when profits of a few dollars per ton were common.

“For years — decades, even — the price hovered in that $30 to $35-per-ton range. … And now someone is paying $200. They’ve never seen anything like this before,” Kakela said. “There’s your incentive for all the expansions people are talking about. That’s why everything is running at full capacity.”

Not only have mines recalled all the 3,600 Steelworkers who were laid off in 2009, but about 100 jobs have been added. With the increasing pace of retirements by aging Steelworkers, 1,000 of today’s workers are new employees never before in the taconite business. The industry continues to recruit local students onto “wrench-smart” training and engineering career tracks at local colleges and universities.

Digby said there is no doubting taconite’s impact on the region, even as the service economy becomes larger. In 2009, when checks from the mines stopped, the region’s entire payroll numbers crashed and sent shock waves through the regional economy.

Taconite has “been especially important in Northeastern Minnesota as the wood-products jobs continue to dwindle,” Digby said.

Mining amounts to about 2 percent of total regional employment and 8 percent of regional sales. Health care, by comparison, accounts for 14 percent of employment and 8 percent of sales. But a 2009 UMD study showed the direct and related economic contribution of mining amounts to 30 percent of the regional domestic product.

That UMD study found some 18,000 jobs directly or indirectly tied to the mining industry in the region — from railroad and ports to engineers and the doctors and dentists who have miners as patients. Mining also is equipment-intensive, consuming tires, trucks, explosives and fuel.

Still, direct employment in the taconite industry has dropped from more than 15,000 at its peak, to 5,600 in 2001 to about 3,700 now. Digby said that, while mining is still big and now growing, its role as an employer is shrinking as health care, education and other service industries grow at a faster pace.

“On one hand they have become far more able to adapt to the global economy and become more efficient with technology and innovation. And that’s great for the industry and for stability,” Digby said. “The downside of that is it has usually meant fewer people employed, and that limits (taconite’s) impact on the regional economy going forward, at least as far as direct employment is concerned.”

Tony Sertich, commissioner of the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board, said the current good times are spurring mining companies to invest in new and improved operations worldwide. That’s most noticeable now with the India-owned Essar Steel plant near Nashwauk, expected to be the first major steel mill on the Iron Range by 2015.

“That’s been the goal since Day One, to not just be at the front end of the mining industry but to get that added value and the added jobs and benefits right here,” Sertich said.

Sertich said economic analysis he’s seen points to another four-year period of high demand for steel and ore. But the good times won’t last forever.

“We know there are going to be boom and bust cycles and we need to leverage these good times for the inevitable downturn,” Sertich said. “We have to help the companies invest now to stabilize for the future. These multinational companies are eager to make investments in the early stages of a good forecast, so we can’t miss this opportunity.”

The industry could add another 1,000 direct jobs in coming years, Pagel said, and that doesn’t count the potential for copper-nickel mining operations such as PolyMet and Twin Metals.

Kakela said the good times appear to be here for a while, thanks to unrelenting demand for steel in Asia and to new efforts on Minnesota’s Iron Range.

“I don’t see any downturn in global demand right now anywhere on the horizon,” he said. “And northern Minnesota is poised to supply that demand because it’s really become the cradle of innovation for iron ore worldwide.”

Duluth News Tribune


Cort captain Tom McMullen leads shipmaster organization

3/28 - Tom McMullen has been around the water all his life, growing up in Florida, moving to Michigan and eventually landing a job with Ford Motor Co.

Today he is a master of the motor vessel Stewart J. Cort, the first 1,000-foot-long ship built for service on the Great Lakes. That ship, operated by the Interlake Steamship Co. of Cleveland, transports iron ore or coal from Superior, Wis., to Burns Harbor, Ind. After the interview for this story, McMullen was leaving for Milwaukee, where the ship was docked for the winter, to conduct safety inspections with the U.S. Coast Guard, then lead a 23-member crew across Lake Michigan to Superior, Wis., to be loaded.

The Livonia, Mich., resident was recently elected grand president of the International Shipmasters' Association. On March 13, McMullen, as Grand Lodge president, was given the privilege of ringing the bell for deceased mariners at the 47th annual Blessing of the Fleet held in downtown Detroit at the Mariners' Church.

The ISMA is a fraternal organization with 16 lodges based in ports around the Great Lakes. The organization works with Great Lakes fleets and government agencies to encourage safety and improved navigational aids on the Great Lakes.

The group includes shipmasters, mates, tug and yacht officers, boat operators, shoreside managers, and those affiliated with related business interests. Detroit Lodge No. 7 is the largest lodge in the International Shipmasters' Association.

McMullen has been a member of Detroit Lodge No. 7 for 30 years. That group has about 145 members, according to Paul Jagenow, secretary-treasurer of Detroit Lodge No. 7, ISMA.

Jagenow, who is also a Livonia resident, said the organization represents anyone employed in the maritime industry. “Detroit is a major port on the Great Lakes,” Jagenow said. McMullen's experience on the lakes with Ford and now with the Stewart J. Cort helps with leadership of the fraternal organization, which is a social organization, but also looks out for the maritime industry.

“The group is dedicated to safety on the Great Lakes,” Jagenow said. Jagenow has known McMullen since both men joined the organization more than 30 years ago, Jagenow in 1979 and McMullen the following year.

McMullen said the organization has changed with declining numbers due to the economy, but the shipmasters remain an important organization in the shipping industry. They've also expanded the organization to include pleasure boats, too.

The group will contact lawmakers or the U.S. Coast Guard to inform them about any impact legislation will have on ships or shipping companies. “We try to explain to them what it would do to us,” McMullen said.

They'll also discuss issues like any relocation or removal of buoys in shipping channels and other safety issues, McMullen said. The organization not only communicates with U.S. officials, but also notifies Canadian officials when rules and regulations impact shippers.

McMullen said emptying of ballasts required of ships is one of those regulations, a regulation geared toward ships travelling from foreign countries that may carry invasive species. “We're included in that, and we're in no way responsible for any of it. We're strictly Great Lakes ships,” McMullen said. “We don't carry these species anywhere.”

McMullen said the economic downturn has impacted the shipping industry, but he expects shipping to lead the way during the recovery. “We're generally the lead (industry); we're the ones that bring all the raw material in,” McMullen said. “Actually, we're seeing more work than we can handle. We're doing more with less like everybody else.”

Being on the water is a natural for McMullen because it is what he has always done. He worked for Ford Motor Co., transporting iron ore when the company conducted integrated manufacturing at the Ford Rouge Plant, and served as a first, second and third mate before becoming a master. He also served in the U.S. Navy in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

“I've always been on the water since I was 12,” McMullen said. “I grew up in Florida, but also spent a lot of time at the lake in Michigan when I visited grandparents. I was always on the water.”

Observer & Eccentric


Lake Michigan buoy approval puts wind-assessment project in motion

3/28 - Muskegon, Mich. — The first-of-its-kind wind-assessment buoy planned for Lake Michigan waters is on a company’s drawing board.

The $3.7 million project, spearheaded by Grand Valley State University’s Michigan Alternative and Renewable Energy Center, received federal approval from the Department of Energy on Wednesday, and MAREC put a down payment on construction of the floating buoy/research platform on Thursday.

The plan is to have the unique buoy, equipped with laser-sensor technology to measure wind speeds out over Lake Michigan, in position about four miles off Muskegon in September. The buoy will be moved in the coming years to collect data from other locations in Lake Michigan.

Although multi-faceted, the three-year, wind-assessment study’s primary objective is to gain a better understanding and gather hard data on offshore wind energy.

The buoy, called WindSentinel, will be constructed by AXYS Technologies of British Columbia and will be equipped with a Vindicator laser wind sensor manufactured by Catch the Wind of Virginia. This will be the first time the relatively new laser-sensor technology will be used on a floating platform to measure offshore wind.

MAREC Director Arn Boezaart, who has been working on the project and its funding for 18 months, said he is excited to have the final approval and looking forward to designing the specifics of the project with the multiple universities and agencies involved.

“The WindSentinel will provide extended season, real-time in-the-water data using the most advanced wind-testing equipment,” Boezaart said.

Boezaart described the buoy with laser-sensor technology as being much more flexible, mobile and cost-effective than constructing a meteorological tower with an anemometer.

“It will provide a new level of highly mobile research capacity that is able to explore the potential of possible future offshore wind development on the Great Lakes,” he said.

The data gathered is expected to play a role in the oft-discussed and sometimes controversial plan to erect large wind turbines in the Great Lakes for energy production. The issue came to the forefront in West Michigan last year when a private development firm proposed a regional wind project, including wind farms in Lake Michigan off Ludington and Grand Haven.

Boezaart said the purpose of the project is to meet the request for real-time data out on the lake and other people can make decisions based on that data. He said university researchers distance themselves from the heated debate that erupted last year.

The unique collaborative effort features research partners from GVSU’s Padnos College of Engineering and Computing, the University of Michigan and its Memorial Phoenix Energy Institute, and the Michigan Natural Features Inventory of Michigan State University Extension.

“As we are entering the era of real applied use of alternative energy, this project will allow GVSU and its partners to make a notable contribution,” said Charlie Standridge, assistant dean of GVSU’s Padnos College.

Real-time data will be transmitted from the research buoy to a shore station where it will be evaluated and analyzed by GVSU researchers. From there, the data will be forwarded to researchers at the University of Michigan and MNFI for more comprehensive analysis and integrated assessment with a variety of research topics. The University of Michigan researchers will cover a variety of topics, including wind, wave and ice climatology, while MNFI will focus on bird and bat studies.

James Edmonson, set to start as project manager for the study on April 1, called the entire scope of the project “cutting edge.” Edmonson is former president of Muskegon Area First.

“All kinds of information will be able to be gathered for the first time, so that’s exciting,” Edmonson said. The U.S. Department of Energy’s approval this week was twofold. Federal officials approved the project’s environmental review required before a structure can be put in the Great Lakes and they reviewed the project’s budget for the federal grant funds.

The project secured a $1.4 million grant from the Department of Energy in 2009.

In addition to federal money, funding for the project is being provided by the Michigan Public Service Commission, Wisconsin Energy and the Sierra Club. The Michigan Public Service Commission issued a $1.3 million energy-efficiency grant for the project.

Emily Green, Sierra Club Great Lakes Program director, said the environmental group is committed to having the country move quickly to develop offshore wind energy while minimizing any potential damage to wildlife and the environment.

"This is our chance to get clean energy right," Green said. "We need offshore wind in order to help move our nation off of the dirty fuels like oil and coal that have wreaked havoc on our health, our economy, our air and our water."

In addition to the initial Muskegon location, the buoy’s second testing area will be in the middle of Lake Michigan, just south of a line from Grand Haven to Milwaukee. Wisconsin Energy is interested in wind data from that location, Boezaart said.

The third location would be determined by GVSU and University of Michigan researchers after the results of the first two years are analyzed.

Muskegon Chronicle


Annual Port Huron Marine Mart moved to St. Clair

3/28 - The popular Marine Mart held for many years on the first Saturday in June at the Port Huron Marine Terminal has been moved to a new day and location, according to the Lake Huron Lore Marine Society, which is organizing the event.

This year’s Mart will be at Riverview Plaza in downtown St. Clair on Saturday, June 11, from 9 a.m.-3 p.m.

“We do not believe we could have found a better alternate venue to have our show,” reads a letter from the Society. “This mall is across the street from the famous waterfront boardwalk on the St. Clair River, one of the best shipwatching spots in the area.”

The table cost remains the same as last year at $35 per table.

Lake Huron Lore Marine Society


Boatnerd’s 2011 cruising, gathering schedule announced

3/28 - Several outstanding cruises and gatherings have been planned by Great Lakes & Seaway Shipping Online Inc. for interested boat watchers this season. Make your reservations now.

May 29 - Reserve now for annual Memorial Weekend cruise from Detroit to Port Huron The 21st annual Lake St. Clair & River cruise offered by Diamond Jack River Tours, the Marine Historical Society of Detroit (membership not required for the cruise) and will be Sunday, May 29. Tickets for this day-long, 120-mile cruise, which includes a deli lunch on board the Diamond Belle and dinner at the St. Clair Inn, are $90 per person, by reservation only (closing May 23). The trip leaves the Diamond Jack dock in Detroit at 8 a.m. on the 29th, heads up Lake St. Clair and the St. Clair River to pass under the Blue Water Bridge, then turns downbound for St. Clair, where passengers disembark for dinner. The vessel returns to her dock around 9 p.m. Along the way, the Diamond Belle will accommodate photographers by getting as close as possible to passing and docked freighters. In addition, “Know Your Ships” author Roger LeLievre will be on board to sell and sign copies of the 2011 edition.  Click here for details

June 4 - Badger Boatnerd Gathering and Cruise We are pleased to again offer the popular Boatnerd Badger Gathering – a round-trip crossing of Lake Michigan from Ludington, Mich., to Manitowoc, Wis., aboard Lake Michigan Carferry ‘s 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. On Friday night, June 3, we have arranged a special Badger Boatel B&B to stay aboard the steamer on the night prior to the cruise. Reservations for staterooms are limited. This optional part of the gathering may offer pilothouse and engine room tours.

Keweenaw Star BoatNerd cruise July 15-17 BoatNerd is sponsoring a three-day, two-night trip from Charlevoix to the Soo and return aboard the Keweenaw Star July 15-17. This promises to be a superb freighter-chasing, lighthouse-viewing trip. Package includes: Three days cruising aboard the Keweenaw Star in the shipping lanes and past a number of lighthouses, lunch on board the boat, two nights at the casino in the Soo, two buffet dinners and breakfast buffets at the casino, and $30 cash to spend in the casino. See the Gathering Page for all the details. Call the Keweenaw Star at 231-237-9365 and make your reservation today. Hyperlink -

June 24 - Engineer’s Weekend St. Marys River Cruise Arrangements have been made to have a cruise on the St. Marys River as part of the annual Engineer’s Day Gathering in Sault Ste. Marie. The cruise will be aboard one of the American Soo Locks Tours boats departing from Dock #2 (next to the Valley Camp) at 6 p.m. on Friday, June 26. Boarding begins at 5:30 p.m. The cruise will be three hours and will travel through both the U.S. and Canadian Locks. We will do our best to find photo opportunities for any traffic in the river. A buffet dinner will consist of pasta with meatballs, baked chicken, cheesy potatoes, mixed veggies, tossed salad and dessert. There will be a cash bar on board. Reservations are a must as we are limiting the group to 100 persons. This will afford everyone enough space to take photos and enjoy themselves.

August 6 - Detroit River/River Rouge Boatnerd Cruise On Saturday, August 6, 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. A pizza lunch will be delivered by the J. W. Westcott II mailboat. Cost is just $30 per person, same price as last year. Reservations are a must as we are limiting the group to 100 persons. The cruise will depart at 10 a.m. sharp from Portofino's On The River in Wyandotte, Mich.

September 16-18 – Annual Welland Canal Gathering Once again, Boatnerds will gather at the Welland Canal for socializing, sharing pictures and videos, plus watching the passing traffic. We will also tour International Marine Salvage and see where the big boats go when they die.

See the Gathering Page for details and sign up forms


Updates -  March 28

Weekly Website Updates
News Photo Gallery


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.


Port Reports -  March 27

St. Marys River
Two vessels of the Interlake Steamship Co. were tied in Soo Harbor Saturday after encounters with ice in the upper river. Kaye E. Barker sustained an unspecified amount of damage to her bow early Saturday morning in ice near Whitefish Point. The upbound Barker turned around and headed back down river, eventually mooring at the Carbide dock. The tug Missouri was stationed at her bow, perhaps to act as a work or inspection platform, and work vehicles could be seen parked on the dock. Meanwhile, Herbert C. Jackson tied up at the pier below the MacArthur Lock at about 4 p.m. Saturday. The extent of any damage was unknown. Meanwhile, Soo Traffic was warning mariners of “significant growlers” in Whitefish Bay of a size capable of damaging a vessel.

Other traffic Saturday, under a brilliant blue sky but chilly west wind, included Interlake's Hon. James L. Oberstar, upbound on her first trip under that name, passing Mission Point around 5 p.m. (she is the former Charles M. Beeghly). Other upbounders were the John Spence and barge, American Mariner, Lee A. Tregurtha and Cason J. Callaway (inbound at DeTour in the late evening). Passing downbound were American Century and American Intergrity. The USCG Katmai Bay and Biscayne Bay were maintaining ice tracks in the lower river, while the Mackinaw moored at the Group Soo dock around 4 p.m. As midnight approached, Edgar B. Speer and Peter R. Cresswell were just below DeTour and John G. Munson was at Ile Parisienne.

Erie, Penn. - Jeffrey Benson
Presque Isle left Erie Friday at 5 p.m. After turning in Presque Isle Harbor, she headed to Duluth, Minn. to load.

Toronto, Ont. - Charlie Gibbons
Stephen B. Roman arrived in port late Friday with her first cargo of the season, and unloaded at Essroc. She departed Saturday afternoon for Picton. English River was fitting out and will depart early next week. The first tour boat of the season, Shipsands, made a round of the harbor and the island lagoons Saturday afternoon.

Marysville, Ont. - Brian Johnson
While he didn't receive the traditional top hat, Captain Darrel Mullin followed a long family tradition as the ferry Wolfe Islander III made her way into Barrett Bay Friday night. Meeting very little resistance with ice, Captain Mullin steered his ship 'back into the village of Marysville' which has been a spring tradition. The ferry went to her winter route to Dawson Point last November when water levels dropped in the bay.


Reserve now for annual Memorial Weekend cruise from Detroit to Port Huron

3/27 - The 21st annual Lake St. Clair & River cruise offered by Diamond Jack River Tours, the Marine Historical Society of Detroit (membership not required for the cruise) and will be Sunday, May 29. Tickets for this day-long, 120-mile cruise, which includes a deli lunch on board the Diamond Belle and dinner at the St. Clair Inn, are $90 per person, by reservation only (closing May 23). The trip leaves the Diamond Jack dock in Detroit at 8 a.m. on the 29th, heads up Lake St. Clair and the St. Clair River to pass under the Blue Water Bridge, then turns downbound for St. Clair, where passengers disembark for dinner. The vessel returns to her dock around 9 p.m. Along the way, the Diamond Belle will accommodate photographers by getting as close as possible to passing and docked freighters. In addition, “Know Your Ships” author Roger LeLievre will be on board to sell and sign copies of the 2011 edition.

Click here to make reservations


Updates -  March 27

News Photo Gallery
Historical Perspectives Gallery updated - new pictures in the Kinsman Voyager feature


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 REDFERN (wooden schooner, 181 foot, 680 gross tons) was launched at West Bay City, Michigan by F. W. Wheeler (Hull #65) on 27 March 1890. Dimensions: 190' x 35' x 14.2'; 680 g.t.; 646 n.t. Converted to a motorship in 1926. Foundered on September 19, 1937, four miles off Point Betsie Light, Lake Michigan. The loss was covered in an unsourced news clipping from Sept. 1937: Freighter Wrecked Eleven Are Saved. Ship Founders in Lake Michigan. Sault Ste. Marie, Sept. 20 - (Special) - Eleven members of the crew of the 181-foot wooden-hulled freighter C. E. Redfern, which foundered in Lake Michigan on Saturday night four miles northwest of Point Betsie Lighthouse, were rescued by coastguard cutter Escanaba. The men were landed safely at Frankfort, Michigan, and it is reported that considerable wreckage of the cargo of logs, decking and deckhouse of the ill-fated vessel were strewn about and floating towards shore.

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


Port Reports -  March 26

Marquette, Mich. - Rod Burdick
Friday evening at the Upper Harbor, James R. Barker unloaded coal while fleetmate Herbert C. Jackson loaded the first ore cargo of the 2011-2012 season.

Sturgeon Bay, Wis. - Matt Ludvigson
Edwin H. Gott departed Sturgeon Bay via the Green Bay to begin her 2011 shipping season Friday afternoon. Shortly before midnight she was headed downbound on Lake Michigan off Washington Island, making 15 knots.

St. Marys River
The Soo Locks opened as planned at 12:01 a.m. Friday. The first vessel to lock up was the Paul R. Tregurtha, followed by Herbert C. Jackson, Canadian Olympic, Robert S. Pierson, Ojibway and Cuyahoga. The only downbounder was the USCG Mackinaw, which had been working the ice above the locks. Other traffic Friday included the upbound Stewart J. Cort and Burns Harbor. Kaye E. Barker was upbound near the Mud Lake junction buoy late Friday night.

Detroit, Mich.
Hon. James L Oberstar (former Charles M. Beeghly) departed her lay-up dock in Detroit about 2 p.m. heading for her first load of the season at Two Harbors, Minn.

Toronto, Ont. - Charlie Gibbons
Tim S. Dool departed winter lay up late Thursday, upbound on her first trip to load in Sarnia.

Prescott, Ont. - Ron Beaupre
Friday morning, Beluga Fusion lost her main engine and blacked out as she was approaching the gap under the Johnstown Bridge. She dropped her anchors and stopped about 3,000 feet downstream from the bridge. After anchoring for 30 minutes and all power restored, the Seaway inspector gave permission by radio for her to proceed to the anchorage at Prescott. She got underway again at 12:05.


Construction continues on new Soo Locks observation deck

3/26 - Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. — On budget and on schedule is how Terry Mitchell of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers described the current project to construct a new observation deck.

“We’ve demolished the old deck,” said Mitchell, adding the goal is to bring the new structure “up to handicapped standards.” Nomad Construction of Sault Ste. Marie is building the new observation deck, according to Mitchell. Work began in December of 2010 with a scheduled completion date in mid-May — just in time for the 2011 tourist season and Mother’s Day.

“There are two levels,” said Mitchell, describing the structure, “and the second level has a platform.” The new observation deck will have a roof to protect visitors from the rain, snow, sleet and hot sun. The sides will be glassed in to provide protection from the wind, but the structure will not be heated.

Sault Ste. Marie Evening News


Coast Guardsmen who perished in Lake Ontario are remembered

3/26 - Mark Weidmann remembers that day 10 years ago like it was yesterday. Weidmann, a search and rescue controller for the U.S. Coast Guard, was keeping watch from the command center in Buffalo.

Four Coast Guardsmen went missing in the frigid waters of Lake Ontario on the night of March 23, 2001, after their vessel capsized during a routine patrol. In the end, two crew members died.

The pair who perished, Petty Officer 2nd Class Scott Chism and Seaman Chris Ferreby, were remembered Friday afternoon during a ceremony at Old Fort Niagara.

"The details are very clear. The weather is much like it was then," Weidmann said. "I can even tell you what I was watching on television; it was "Major Payne.'"

Chism and Ferreby had been stationed at Coast Guard Niagara Station in Youngstown. Their boat overturned at about 8 p.m. thanks to 4-foot waves. The water was 36 degrees. Chism, who was born in San Diego, was 25. Ferreby, a seaman who was born in Morristown, N.J., was 23. He attended Fairport High School, outside Rochester.

Weidmann coordinated the multiagency search that eventually led to plucking two survivors from the chilly waters after nearly four hours. He said he had a choice to make when search crews got to the mouth of the Niagara River; should he direct them to go with the currents heading east or west?

The wrong choice and all four crew members would have died, Weidmann said.

"And I prayed to God and I said, "Which way do you want me to send them?'" he recalled. "And "east' came out of my mouth to the chief. He made a right turn and found them within a minute or two. So there was divine intervention."

The other two crew members of the four-person team on the boat suffered from hypothermia after several hours in the water, but survived.

Several members of Ferreby's family attended Wednesday's ceremony. "It's nice that they're not forgotten," said his mother, Kathleen Jenkins. "It feels like yesterday," said Jennifer Limoli, Ferreby's sister.

A report issued by the Coast Guard after the accident found several factors led to the tragedy, including a change in the boat's course that was not reported to commanders and protective clothing that failed.

As a result of the investigation into their deaths, the Coast Guard made some changes to equipment and training on a national level, said Vice Admiral Sally Brice-O'Hara, who was among those to attend the ceremony.

"This is a way to pay tribute," Brice-O'Hara said after today's remembrance, "to honor the sacrifice and to find some small piece of reason in what happened."

Buffalo News


Updates -  March 26

News Photo Gallery
Historical Perspectives Gallery updated - new pictures in the Kinsman Voyager gallery


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.


Vessels line up for Soo Locks opener

3/25 - Paul R. Tregurtha was approaching the Soo Locks upbound at 4 p.m. followed by the Herbert C. Jackson and Canadian Olympic. Tregurtha was the first vessel upbound for the 2011 season when the locks opened at midnight. Robert S. Pierson arrived about 10:15 p.m., Ojibway was upbound in the lower river and Cuyahoga was just below Detour.

The first downbounder could be Roger Blough, followed by American Integrity. Manitowoc planned to get underway Thursday from Essar Steel for Lake Superior. Coast Guard cutters Katmai Bay and Biscayne Bay were working the lower St. Marys River Thursday while Mackinaw was working the upper river. Ice in the upper river is reported at 8 to 12 inches thick.

Lead ship Paul R Tregurtha locked through the Poe Lock at midnight to open shipping but when the doors of the Poe Lock swung open, the thousand footer was stuck in a narrow channel. After a few attempts to break through, cutter Mackinaw was called to break ice in the upper piers freeing the convoy of upbound traffic waiting in the lower river. As overnight temperatures dropped, ice buildup in and around the upper piers was close to two feet thick in places.

Jerry Masson


Port Reports -  March 25

Twin Ports – Al Miller
Duluth-Superior harbor was busy once again Thursday as several vessels left winter layup berths. Most vessels will make their first trip carrying taconite pellets from Twin Ports and North Shore ore docks. American Century departed the Garfield D dock overnight, possibly to load at the CN/DMIR ore dock in Duluth. American Integrity and Roger Blough both departed during the day for Two Harbors. By late afternoon, John G. Munson was fueling at the Murphy Oil depot before departing. James R. Barker was loading coal at Midwest Energy Terminal.

Silver Bay and Two Harbors, Minn. - Ben Larson
The American Spirit arrived in the port of Silverbay at 10 p.m. as the first boat of the season, she is loading for Zug Island. Roger Blough arrived at Two harbors at noon Thursday with a nice long 3long 2short salute to the boatwatchers gathered to witness the first arrival for the little port. American Integrity arrived on her first trip of the season also in Two Harbors at 1:30 p.m.

Sturgeon Bay, Wis.
Mesabi Miner and Pineglen departed Thursday and passed upbound onto Green Bay reaching Lake Michigan that afternoon. They headed eastbound to the Straits.

Milwaukee, Wis. - Jason Heindel
Burns Harbor and Stewart J. Cort left Milwaukee from winter lay up Thursday. St. Clair and Lafarge’s barge Integrity remain in winter lay-up.

Alpena, Mich. - Dan McNeil
Samuel de Champlain and barge Innovation arrived in port to load Thursday afternoon. The steamer Alpena returned late Thursday night.

Toledo, Ohio
Lee A. Tregurtha departed Monroe and returned to Toledo, passing fleet mate Kaye E. Barker which had departed her lay-up dock in Toledo upbound for Marquette, Mich. American Mariner departed the CSX coal dock on her first trip of the season, to unload in Detroit.

Oswego, N.Y. - Ned Goebricher
Oswego welcomed the first ship of the season when the tanker John J. Carrick, loaded with asphalt, docked Thursday.

Montreal - Rene Beauchamp
Thursday, the saltie Beluga Fusion anchored in Montreal before proceeding up the Seaway. Her only trip before this in the Seaway was in 2006. The lettering Beluga Chartering is no longer printed on her hull.


Boyer preservation to turn back clock to Schoonmaker

3/25 - Toledo, Ohio – The preserved Great Lakes freighter S.S. Willis B. Boyer soon will be no more -- but not because of scrapping, as was once threatened.

Early next month, P&W Painting of Toledo will begin sandblasting and repainting the vessel and, in so doing, rename it the Col. James M. Schoonmaker, the name it bore at its launch in 1911, said Paul LaMarre III, the museum ship's executive director.

The repainting project, which will rely heavily on donated equipment and materials and on a $100,000 cash donation from James M. Schoonmaker II, its past and future namesake's grandson, is scheduled for completion in time for a rechristening ceremony July 1 -- a century after its launch -- and kick off a weekend of celebratory events, Mr. LaMarre said.

Already under way, the ship's director said, is an asbestos-removal project that will reopen to the public large portions of the Boyer that have been off-limits for years.

Both projects are being done at the ship's Maumee River berth alongside International Park, rather than downriver at the Toledo Shipyard as previously planned.

Mr. LaMarre said that will save the time and expense of tows to and from the shipyard. Instead, the only move planned will occur next year, when the Schoonmaker is to shift to a berth at the Toledo Maritime Center, where the Great Lakes Historical Society plans to establish a National Great Lakes Maritime Museum.

The Boyer/Schoonmaker will be painted only from the waterline up, and containment measures similar to those used for painting bridges will be employed to keep paint, sandblasting grit, and other foreign matter out of the river, he said.

"It's more realistic to conduct the work where she currently sits," Mr. LaMarre said, adding that the International Park location also will mean that "Toledo citizens, and others who are interested, will be able to see the transformation firsthand, in front of the city skyline."

Surveys show the freighter's hull, built with steel an inch thick, still has at least three-quarters of that thickness on average, he said, so maintenance below the water line is not needed.

Mr. Schoonmaker, a retired businessman from Naples, Fla., said Wednesday he had long hoped the Boyer might someday be renamed after his grandfather, a Union colonel in the Civil War who was later heavily involved in mining, banking, and railroads in western Pennsylvania. In 2007, he read in an English magazine that Toledo's museum ship might be scrapped, only to read in a following issue that it had been saved and a restoration plan was under development.

"I was delighted to make a contribution, if they would agree to rename" the ship, he said. "I wanted to honor my grandfather in some way, and this would be a good way to remember his name."

Mr. Schoonmaker visited Toledo and toured the ship for the first time three years ago and will return for the rechristening. He and his wife, Treecie, are scheduled to smash a bottle of champagne across the freighter's bow at the precise time that Mr. Schoonmaker's mother did so in 1911.

Also on the guest list are William P. Snyder III, the grandson of William P. Snyder, president a century ago of the Shenango Furnace Co., for which the vessel was built, and Willis B. Boyer II, the son of the Republic Steel executive for whom the freighter was later renamed. Mr. LaMarre said appropriate recognition of the Boyer name will be maintained on board after the rechristening.

Mr. Schoonmaker's donation will be just part of extensive charitable support for the repainting project. PPG Coatings, Inc., will provide custom-mixed dark green and orange to match the Shenango Furnace Co. colors at cost and provide other paint -- including primer gray, white, black, and deck red -- worth about $80,000 for free, Mr. LaMarre said. Harsco, Inc., will provide 130 tons of its top-of-the-line Black Beauty sandblasting grit, worth $58,000, to the project.

Warner Petroleum will provide diesel fuel for the vacuum truck that will suck airborne paint, dust, and grit from the work area, while the George Gradel Co. and Seaway Scaffolding will provide free use of barges and equipment needed for the project, Mr. LaMarre said.

Those businesses' support is "proof that people appreciate this type of history," he said.

Overall, about $500,000 is being spent on the restoration. The asbestos removal, accounting for about $200,000, is covered by a federal stimulus grant.

With a length of 617 feet and weight of 8,603 tons, the Schoonmaker was the largest bulk freighter in the world at the time. It also featured innovations in safety, navigation, and construction techniques, and set a new luxury standard for its crews' accommodations, Mr. LaMarre said.

"It's one of the most significant vessels in the [maritime] industry's history," he said.

The scrapping threat arose because the city of Toledo, which bought the freighter from Cleveland-Cliffs in 1986 after six years of lay-up, decided in 2007 it could no longer afford even basic upkeep and would lay off Mr. LaMarre, then a city employee as caretaker, that summer.

But the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority stepped in, hiring Mr. LaMarre at an increased salary to give him time to reconstitute a nonprofit museum organization and raise money. Last year, the agency also struck the deal with the Great Lakes Historical Society to develop its national museum at the Maritime Center, built by the port authority as a ferry terminal but so far used minimally for that purpose. Moving the Boyer/Schoonmaker to an adjoining berth is part of the museum plan.

The rechristening will be followed, Mr. LaMarre said, by a Friday night dinner at the Toledo Club and live boxing matches Saturday evening in a temporary ring to be set up on the Schoonmaker's deck. The latter will commemorate the 92nd anniversary two days later of the 1919 heavyweight championship fight in Toledo's Bay View Park between Jess Willard and Jack Dempsey.

The Schoonmaker, which will be closed to the public through June for the restoration work, will reopen for tours, and the weekend's events will close Sunday evening with the Independence Day fireworks over the Maumee River.

"This is shaping up to be what really could be one of the more historic maritime events in Toledo's history," Mr. LaMarre said.

The Blade is a title sponsor of the weekend celebration.

Toledo Blade


Updates -  March 25

News Photo Gallery


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.


Ships start moving in anticipation of Friday’s Soo Locks opening

3/24 - 4 p.m. update - Paul R. Tregurtha was approaching the Soo Locks upbound at 4 p.m. follow by the Herbert C. Jackson and Canadian Olympic. Tregurtha will be the first vessel upbound for the 2011 season when the locks open at mid night.

Original report - Wednesday night, Paul R. Tregurtha and Herbert C. Jackson were working their way up Green Bay after departing winter lay-up at Bay Shipbuilding in Sturgeon Bay. Canadian Olympic departed the Welland Canal Tuesday afternoon upbound, and entered Lake Huron on Wednesday afternoon. She is expected to arrive at the Soo Locks Thursday morning to await the opening of the locks. Robert S. Pierson was upbound at Port Huron Wednesday night, heading for the locks opening and on to Thunder Bay. She departed lay-up in Hamilton on Tuesday.

While the locks don’t open to commercial traffic until Friday, the USCG Mackinaw and Mobile Bay locked upbound Wednesday for icebreaking operations above the locks.


Port Reports -  March 24

Twin Ports – Al Miller
James R. Barker is scheduled to arrive in Superior on Thursday to load coal at Midwest Energy Terminal destined for the power plant at Presque Isle near Marquette. It’s due back on Saturday to load coal for delivery to the Detroit Edison plant at St. Clair. Paul R. Tregurtha is expected to arrive Sunday to load coal for St. Clair. American Century is scheduled to load coal April 5 for delivery to St. Clair. American Integrity is due at Midwest Energy on April 6 to load coal for the same destination. Duluth-based Great Lakes Fleet already has the Cason J. Callaway and Philip R. Clarke in operation on the lower lakes. The Callaway is due in Gary on Thursday, weather permitting. The Clarke is due next in Toledo. There’s no word yet on when Roger Blough and John G. Munson, both laid up at the Duluth port terminal, are expected to begin their seasons. However, both vessels have been showing lights and appear to have taken on some ballast in recent days. Their departures might have been delayed by the gale that raged on the lake beginning Tuesday afternoon and continuing into Wednesday. Despite the strong winds, the waters off Duluth remained free of ice Wednesday morning.

South Chicago - Brian Z.
Philip R. Clarke was loading petroleum coke at the Beemsterboer Dock on the Calumet River Wednesday. The Clarke arrived at 7 a.m. after unloading her cargo of Escanaba pellets in Gary and backing her way down the river from Lake Michigan. Lower Lakes' Calumet was scheduled to load on Saturday for Thorold, Ontario.

Toledo, Ohio -
Lee A. Tregurtha was out bound Wednesday with a load of coal for Monroe, Mich. About 9 p.m. she went to anchor off the Detroit River Light.

Erie, PA. - Jeffrey Benson
Edgar B. Speer and the Presque Isle were both preparing to leave Erie Wednesday. As of 2 p.m. both had all lines singled up, radars operating and all running lights on. Bad weather may have postponed their departure.

Prescott, Ont. - Joanne Crack
Three vessels passed during the first day of vessel traffic in the 53rd season of the St. Lawrence Seaway. First, the downbound Algoeast followed by the upbound Avonborg and third, also upbound, the tug Victorious with barge John J. Carrick. Gordon C. Leitch is expected upbound on Thursday.


Snowy opening to shipping season at Hamilton

3/24 - Hamilton, Ont. - A new shipping season has opened for the Port of Hamilton. Port Authority officials welcomed the first ship of the season Tuesday, the Canada Steamship Lines vessel Rt. Hon. Paul J. Martin.

The vessel, under Captain Kent Powell, tied up at Lafarge-Hamilton Slag at Pier 26 to take on a cargo of 29,000 metric tonnes of slag to be moved to Trois Rivieres in Quebec. Powell was presented the traditional prize for the first ship of the season – a black top hat presented by Bruce Wood, president and CEO of the Hamilton Port Authority.

Port authority vice-president Ian Hamilton said in an interview there’s a real sense of enthusiasm for the coming year, especially after a 37 per cent increase in total cargo volume last year over 2009. “People have been kind of itching for the season to start this year,” he said. “There’s a lot of excitement about the potential of this year.”

Hamilton said that sense of anticipation is being fed by new terminals that opened at the port last year, including the Parrish and Heimbecker grain terminal and the McAsphalt operation.

“There isn’t a single partner around the port who isn’t forecasting some kind of growth this year,” he said, adding two more terminals could be announced this year.

One source of growth will be the Lafarge-Hamilton Slag terminal, where staff is getting ready to open new markets as construction around the Great Lakes increases demand for the material.

Lafarge North America is the largest diversified supplier of construction materials in the United States and Canada. It produces and sells cement, ready-mixed concrete, gypsum wallboard, aggregates, asphalt, paving and construction material, precast items and pipe products.

Hamilton said the hoped-for increase in cargo volumes through Hamilton will be accommodated by an expansion of shipping capacity on the Great Lakes – Canada Steamship Lines has two new vessels coming into service and other companies are also updating their fleets after the federal government waived a 25 per cent import fee on new ships.

Hamilton Spectator


CSL acquires Jebsens belted self unloader business

3/24 - Montreal And Bergen – The CSL Group Inc. and Kristian Jebsens Rederi AS (KJR) have announced that CSL has acquired the assets and associated contracts of Jebsens’ belted self-unloader business.

CSL intends to build on its self-unloader expertise to service existing European customers and to expand its worldwide network. CSL will manage the belted self-unloader business through a new subsidiary, CSL Europe, which will be based in the UK and Bergen, Norway. Three key commercial employees from Jebsens, including Helge Sandvik, are joining CSL. Jeffrey Barnes of CSL International Inc. has been appointed the Managing Director and will relocate to the UK this summer. Barnes will report to Paul Cozza, who is responsible for all of CSL’s international operations.

“Jebsens is a famous name in world shipping and Atle Jebsen was a pioneer in building up a self-unloading business in Europe,” said Rod Jones, the President and CEO of The CSL Group Inc. in Montreal. “We are very pleased to have this opportunity to build off the base that Jebsens has created. CSL will bring its own brand of self-unloader operating prowess and customer service to this new venture and we are confident that CSL Europe will become a reliable and flexible industrial shipping partner for European industry.”

“We have been very selective in who we chose to acquire this segment of our business and are confident that the customers will continue to benefit from excellent service from CSL” added Bjorn Jebsen, the Chairman of KJR.

The CSL Group, headquartered in Montreal, Quebec, is the world’s largest owner and operator of belted self-unloading vessels having extensive operations in North and South America and Australasia with offices in Canada, USA, Australia and Singapore. CSL has a substantial industrial customer base, particularly in the construction, steel and energy sectors.


Updates -  March 24

News Photo Gallery


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.


Seaway traffic to rise 7 percent in 2011

3/23 - St. Lambert, Que. – The volume of shipments through the St. Lawrence Seaway will increase by about seven percent this year compared with 2010, the system's Canadian operator predicted Tuesday. St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation CEO Terence Bowles said cargo shipments are expected to reach 39.1 million tonnes.

The corporation shares operating responsibility for the system with its American counterpart, the U.S. Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation. The seaway officially opened its 53rd navigation season Tuesday.

"Transportation of raw materials serves as a bellwether for the economy as a whole, and despite volatile global economic conditions, we have reason to be cautiously optimistic regarding our various market segments" Bowles said.

"Projections for the 2011 season foresee continued strength in the traditional staple cargoes of grain and iron ore. Shipments of road salt are projected to increase to replenish inventories depleted over a challenging winter season," he said. "Project cargo is pegged to rise due in part to continued activity in the oilsands."

Algoma Central Corporation, Canada Steamship Lines and the Canadian Wheat Board have all announced plans to spend a combined $350 million on building new vessels for their fleets.



Algoma confirms large shipping investment at Top Hat ceremony

3/23 - St. Catharines, Ont. – Algoma Central Corp. of St. Catharines says it's investing close to $400 million in Great Lakes shipping— mostly through a new, locally-developed vessel design.

Algoma's president and CEO Greg Wight confirmed that commitment in a speech at the Top Hat ceremony held at the Welland Canals Centre on Tuesday. The Lock 3 event marked the 182nd opening of the canal and official start of the 2011 navigation season along the St. Lawrence Seaway.

"We strongly believe we are entering a new era for the Canadian marine transportation industry," said Wight at the annual gathering. "This level of commitment ... is unprecedented. We feel these vessels will be game changing for the industry."

Wight said the investment is spurred by Algoma's fleet-renewal program and its intention to purchase five new state-of-the-art Equinox class vessels. Those ships will be joined by two new Equinox class freighters purchased by the Canadian Wheat Board. That agreement will see Algoma operate and manage the ships on the Board's behalf.

The Equinox was created by a team of designers at the company's downtown offices. They will be built at the Nantong Mingde Shipyard in China, be able to carry much more cargo, move faster than conventional vessels and emit lower emissions.

The first of these ships is expected to be in service in the Great Lakes by 2013.

There will be no new jobs created locally as a result of the investment. However, Wight said afterward the massive renewal program will secure existing employment. These include about 100 working in St. Catharines and 100 locally who are shipboard employees.

The Equinox shipbuilding isn't being done at the Seaway Marine & Industrial dry docks in Port Weller as that facility is focused on ship repair, Wight said. "And they do a very fine job with that," he said. He said that yard's size and facilities are also not sufficient to carry out the shipbuilding work.

Part of Algoma's large investment also includes an acquisition announced last month. Algoma plans to take over full control of Seaway Marine Transport through an $85-million deal with shipping partner Upper Lakes Group Inc. It currently manages and operates lake freighters for both companies.

The company will acquire its partner's interest in Seaway Marine through the deal, as well as buy Upper Lake's 11 bulk freighters. That deal is expected to close by the end of the month.

Captain Peter Schultz of Algoma's Peter R. Cresswell vessel was also presented with the ceremonial top hat on Tuesday. It is handed to the captain whose ship makes the Seaway's first official Welland Canal transit of the season.

Stephen Kwok, regional director of the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp., said the Seaway is cautiously optimistic about the sector's fortunes. "We see continued strength in our traditional staple cargoes of grain and iron ore," Kwok said.

He said road salt shipments are also expected to increase to replenish inventories depleted over a severe winter. Project cargo is also set to rise from continued oil sands activity.

Meanwhile, fleet renewal is continuing apace across the Great Lakes shipping industry, Kwok added. "We view this as a strong endorsement for the future of of the St. Lawrence Seaway."

St. Catharines Standard


Port Reports -  March 23

Escanaba, Mich. - Dan McNeil
Philip R. Clarke was due into Gary to unload on the 22nd. Fleetmate Cason J. Callaway is due to load at Escanaba on the 23d for another trip to Gary.

Hamilton, Ont. – Eric Holmes
Peter R. Cresswell departed early Tuesday and opened the Welland Canal shipping season. Maritime Trader was shifted from JRI Elevators at Pier 25 to Pier 10. Captain Henry Jackman departed at 10:30 a.m. Robert S. Pierson departed at 11:30 a.m. for Thunder Bay. Rt. Hon Paul J Martin arrived at 1:00 p.m. from Port Weller to load slag at Pier 26 for Three Rivers, Que. Cuyahoga departed Pier 25 at 8 p.m.

Toronto, Ont.
Stephen B. Roman got underway Tuesday for Picton, being the first ship to leave Toronto lay-up. The tug M. R. Kane was actually the first departure, when it went to Port Weller a couple of days ago to shift ships there.


Bay Shipbuilding to build 2 supply ships in Sturgeon Bay

3/23 - Sturgeon Bay, Wis. - Bay Shipbuilding Co., part of Fincantieri Marine Group, on Monday announced it has landed a contract to build two new vessels in Sturgeon Bay by 2013. The 303-foot platform supply vessels or PSVs — the first to be built on the Great Lakes or in Sturgeon Bay — will be built for Tidewater Marine, based in New Orleans.

Tidewater Marine provides marine support services for the offshore energy industry, serving customers that operate in more remote, deeper and increasingly hostile environments, according to a Fincantieri press release.

The contract — its value was not immediately available — comes on the heels of Marinette Marine, Bay Shipbuilding's sister company, securing a large U.S. Navy contract for 10 littoral combat ships. Many of the parts for those vessels will be fabricated in Sturgeon Bay and floated across Green Bay to Marinette.

Bay Shipbuilding vice president and general manager Gene Caldwell said it was hard to express how excited the company is with the news. “We have a whole lot of pride to work at Bay Ship,” Caldwell said. “We love our repair customers but to build ships at Bay Ship — that’s what it’s all about.”

Crews are just finishing repair work on the winter fleet, and as those last ships sail out of Sturgeon Bay’s canal, about 150 workers will receive a temporary layoff. A core of workers will remain, and by late June or July, fabrication will begin on the first PSV, Caldwell said. About 200 workers at peak — almost everybody previously laid off — will be called back, he added.

“It takes about 14 weeks for the steel to come in, and we will work all the way through delivery,” he said. “It will keep us employed.”

The PSVs are designed to carry a variety of cargoes, including drilling pipes or casings on an open deck, cement or mud in below-deck tanks, or water and drilling fluids. The PSVs built in Sturgeon Bay will be designed to work in northern ice regions but can work worldwide. Their destination point is as yet unknown.

The first PSV is scheduled to be completed the fourth quarter of 2012 and the second one is due the second quarter of 2013. Caldwell said he hopes this is the last seasonal lull Door County shipbuilders will see in a long time.

This first contract with Tidewater Marine likely will secure more work in the future, he said. “Work begets work, and this will bring in more potential customers,” he said.

The contract was pursued over the last two years with some aggressive bidding and came about as a result of key relationships between Fincantieri and Tidewater, Caldwell said.

“With the focus of winning strategic contracts and growing our commercial business, Fincantieri Canteiri Navli Italiani S.p.A, the parent company of the Fincantieri Marine Group committed in 2009 to an aggressive upgrading program of both our Bay Shipbuilding Co. and Marinette Marine Corp. shipyards to enhance our capabilities, efficiencies and competitiveness,” said Fred Moosally, president and CEO of the Fincantieri Marine Group.

Bay Shipbuilding is Door County’s largest employer with a permanent work force of 568 employees, according to its human resources department. Of those, 501 are union employees and 67 are office personnel.

The new contract will mean an increased demand for some shipfitters, welders and white-collar workers, Caldwell said. The company recently completed an on-site training and testing center but most of the current workers had the skill sets needed when hired and use the center to keep their certification, he said.

Green Bay Press Gazette


Updates -  March 23

News Photo Gallery


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.


Peter R. Cresswell opens Welland Canal; Avonborg opens Seaway

3/22 - Algoma Central Corporation's 730-foot bulk freighter Peter R. Cresswell has opened the Welland Canal for the 2011 shipping season. The captain of the vessel received the "Traditional Top Hat award given to the first ship arrival at the Welland Canal's Lock 3 at a ceremony Tuesday morning.

This is not the first time that the Cresswell has opened the Welland Canal – she did so twice under her previous name, Algowest. The Cresswell is loaded with cement clinker from Bowmanville and is heading to Detroit to unload.

Meanwhile, the first vessel upbound in the St. Lawrence Seaway is the Netherlands flagged salty Avonborg. Her originating port was Esjberg, Denmark, and her destination is Burns Harbor, Indiana

Kent Malo


Port Reports -  March 22

Milwaukee, Wis. - Dan McNeil
Alpena is due in on Tuesday afternoon to unload cement.

Alpena, Mich. – Ben & Chanda McClain
The steamer Alpena arrived in port around 6 a.m. Monday. After loading another cargo of cement, she was headed for Milwaukee.

Toledo, Ohio - Steven Feher
Lee A. Tregurtha loaded the CSX Coal dock first cargo of the season and departed on Monday.


St. Lawrence Seaway opens today with morning ceremony

3/22 - Montreal, Que. - Ian White, President of the Canadian Wheat Board, will serve as a keynote speaker at the opening of St. Lawrence Seaway's 53rd navigation season at 11 a.m. today. The ceremony will take place at the St. Lambert Lock.

Stephen Wilkes, Director of Governmental and Regulatory Affairs for Tata Steel, will also address the audience. The speakers will be sharing how marine transportation on the Seaway enables their firm’s to trade in a global economy. Also speaking will be Collister Johnson, administrator of the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation (United States) and Terence Bowles, President and CEO, St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation.

The Montreal-Lake Ontario section and the Welland Canal will open to navigation on March 22 at 8 a.m. Ice conditions in the Montreal-Lake Ontario Section of the Seaway are available through the local Traffic Control Centers.

Navigation may be restricted until the commissioning of lighted aids has been completed. Mariners are warned to exercise extreme caution in the use of winter markers as the position of the markers may have been affected by ice. Further information concerning this is available from the appropriate traffic control centre. The removal of the Prescott-Ogdensburg ice boom A is in progress and the removal of the Galop ice boom G is complete.

The Welland Canal is open water with broken ice present in Port Colborne. Mariners are cautioned that, at present, thick ice conditions exist in the eastern part of Lake Erie with the exception of open water in Long Point Bay.


Coast Guard will break ice on St. Marys River Tuesday

3/22 - Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. – The Soo Locks open for the season Friday and the U.S. Coast Guard is going to prepare the St. Marys River Tuesday morning. They'll be opening the waters between Nine Mile Point and Sawmill Point with an icebreaker and warn all recreational users of river, especially ice fisherman, to beware.

The Coast Guard will try to minimize the impact on the Neebish Island Ferry, but island residents should prepare for minor service outages, as the displaced ice will almost certainly prevent the ferry from operating normally.

9 & 10 News


Coast Guard expands icebreaking operations in Green Bay

3/22 - Green Bay, Wis. – There's a new warning about ice in the Green Bay area. The Coast Guard is expanding icebreaking operations before the start of the shipping season. The Fox River, and entrance to the port of Green Bay will be impacted, as well as the entrance at Marinette and Menominee. Residents should plan their activities carefully, use caution near the ice and stay away from shipping channels.



Shipbuilder to train unskilled workers on job

3/22 - Milwaukee, Wis. – The aftermath of the recession has revealed an employment gap in manufacturing, a disconnect between jobs that need to be filled and workers with the skills to do them.

Marinette Marine Corp. has a plan to address it - a plan that has the blessing of its labor union, even though it creates a classification of workers who initially will be paid about half what more experienced members typically get. The company, gearing up to hire 1,000 more people over the next two years to help fulfill a big Navy shipbuilding contract, is creating a program that pays an entry-level wage of about $10 per hour for unskilled employees.

Marinette considers it a win-win: The company benefits by developing the workforce it'll need to build combat ships in the years ahead, while new workers will get a foot in the door and a chance to move into higher-paying jobs as they get on-the-job training in skills such as welding and metal fabrication.

"There is an increasing gap between workers who have the skills and attitude to succeed and those who have fallen below that level," said James Golembeski, executive director of the Bay Area Workforce Development Board in Green Bay. "We need to give people the tools they need to close that gap."

Marinette's hiring will begin this summer and last through early 2013, with the company adding about 40 jobs a month.

Many of the new hires could come in under a "helper" classification of the new labor contract with the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers. It gives unskilled individuals a chance to work at the shipyard, for a reduced wage, and learn a trade.

"For the first time ever, we have an entry-level wage group in our union contract," said company President and CEO Richard McCreary.

The ship construction could result in about 5,000 jobs at Marinette and its suppliers in Wisconsin and Michigan. Work on one of the ships, the USS Fort Worth, is about 85% complete, McCreary said last week when Navy Secretary Ray Mabus visited the shipyard.

Marinette currently has about 1,000 employees. Since January the company has added 100 jobs, mostly in engineering and ship contract management. It plans to recall 110 production employees from layoff in the next two months.

Boilermakers Local 696 recently approved a six-year contract that included the helper classification and provides yearly wage increases. A first-year wage increase of 2.75% was retroactive to March 7, 2010, with subsequent annual pay increases of 3% in years two through four of the contract, 4% in year five, and 4.25% in year six.

Helper employees will have full union benefits including seniority rights, said Len Gunderson, a Boilermakers' international representative. He points out that it is not a two-tier wage system where workers are paid different rates for doing the same job.

Not everyone in the shipyard was pleased with the creation of the helper classification, but union members agreed to the change because it was in their long-term interests to keep the company healthy and increase employment.

"It helps drive the average wage down, which sounds like a bad thing. But it makes the company more competitive, and it gives them the flexibility to hire a person off the street with zero skills," Gunderson said.

Without the helper classification, Gunderson said, a lot of young people would not have a chance to work at the shipbuilder. Now they can get hired, shadow a union journeyman on the job and learn a skill that pays a higher wage.

That was how Gunderson entered the workforce 39 years ago. Then he learned how to weld and worked his way up through the skilled-labor ranks.

Marinette can't use the helper classification for all of its new hires. The company will need plenty of skilled employees right away, and it will pay those people a higher wage based on their qualifications and the union contract.

"We believe there's a significant pool of skilled labor in northeast Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, including people who are either unemployed or underemployed and could work here," McCreary said.

If Marinette can't find enough employees on its own, the company will seek help from temporary workforce agencies.

"It is the least preferred option," McCreary said. "But we may do some of that as a stopgap after we are at full employment."

In a nation where unemployment is still hovering near 9%, northeast Wisconsin and the Fox Valley are likely to have skilled-labor shortages this year, according to the state Department of Workforce Development, as Marinette and armored vehicle maker Oshkosh Corp. hire hundreds of people to help fulfill military contracts.

Oshkosh has a $3 billion U.S. Army contract and began hiring 650 to 750 assemblers, welders and other skilled-trades workers in earnest this month.

Golembeski said he knows of a Green Bay manufacturer that had 134 job openings, positions paying $15 per hour, but could only find 17 people it wanted to hire. The company rejected more than 800 applicants for various reasons, including a lack of education and work experience.

Some companies are offering training to unskilled laborers they already have because it's cheaper than constantly recruiting skilled help from outside, said Kathy Schlieve, a workforce and economic development representative for Moraine Park Technical College in Fond du Lac.

"It's hard for employers to find the skilled labor they need," she said.

At Marinette, the shipbuilding deal has created demand not just for skilled tradespeople, but also for engineering and contract-administration workers.

"I probably have 50 people here on my professional staff, if not more, who have come from Gulf Coast shipyards in the last six months," McCreary said. "And we have seen interest in people from the East Coast and West Coast because of the longevity of the Navy contracts."

The shipyard is busier now than it's ever been, even during World War II.

In addition to building the combat ships, valued at about $400 million each, Marinette is building an Alaskan fisheries research vessel, U.S. Coast Guard boats, and a ship for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The company also is competing for contracts to build two Navy oceanographic research vessels and Navy hovercraft vessels that would replace landing-craft carriers that haul armored vehicles to shore during beach invasions.

Work at the shipyard and its suppliers is likely to create an economic boomlet in Northeast Wisconsin that has implications in other areas of the state, such as Beloit, where Fairbanks Morse Engine is building engines for the combat ships, and the Milwaukee area, where suppliers are building ship components including sophisticated electronics.

Also, business and civic groups in Northeast Wisconsin are eyeing the housing needs for a workforce that could easily double in the next two years. City officials are looking at what it could mean in terms of schools and public services.

"I can't think of any one entity that doesn't have an eye on this," said Jerry Murphy, executive director of New North, a business organization focused on growth in northeast Wisconsin. "These are the kinds of challenges that any community on the planet would love to have."

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel


Northern Michigan events include Lake Michigan lighthouse tour

3/22 - October may be a summer away, but fans of Great Lakes lighthouses should make their reservations now for a special tour of Lake Michigan's Little Traverse Lighthouse. During the tour docents will bring to life the history of the 127-year-old Little Traverse Lighthouse on Lake Michigan, including the story of Elizabeth Whitney Williams. Williams was the first keeper of the Little Traverse light on Lake Michigan and one of the first women light keepers on the Great Lakes. Visitors will also be invited to enter the tower to see the Fourth Order Fresnel lens, shipped from Paris, which once guided ships into Lake Michigan's Little Traverse Bay. The original 1896 fog bell has been also restored and is thought to be the only operational mechanism of its kind in the United States.

Since the last tour of the Little Traverse Lighthouse was conducted in 2008, several additional renovations to the facility have occurred. The old barn on the grounds has been restored and reconstruction of the original oil house is scheduled to be completed this spring. These changes will restore the complex to the grandeur it enjoyed back in 1898.

“This is a unique opportunity for the public to tour this historic lighthouse,” said Fred Geuder, Lighthouse Tour Chairman. “This site is privately owned and we appreciate the generosity of the Harbor Point Association to allow us to hold this special fundraising event.”

In addition to the tour, the HSAHS is pleased to host Terry Pepper, Executive Director of the Great Lakes Lighthouse Keepers Association (GLLKA), at a special presentation from 5-7 pm on Friday, September 30 at the Harbor Springs History Museum. Mr. Pepper’s program is titled Wobbleshanks, Skilly, Beavers and Foxes and it will recount the story of the lighthouses along the Straits of Mackinac and the dedicated men and women who gave their all to ensure the safety of those at sea. Priority tickets for the program are available in a tour/program combination ticket.

Tours of the Little Traverse Lighthouse begin at the Harbor Point Gatehouse and are by reservation only. Reservations are limited. Tour reservation forms are available online at the HSAHS website, or by calling the HSAHS office at (231) 526-9771. Tickets to tour the lighthouse are $25, and combination tickets for the Friday evening presentation and Saturday tour may be purchased for $40. All proceeds will support the work of the Harbor Springs Area Historical Society including the Harbor Springs History Museum.

My North


Updates -  March 22

Weekly Website Updates
News Photo Gallery


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.


Port Reports -  March 21

Whitefish, Ont. - Dan McNeil
The steamer Alpena departed Whitefish in the early morning hours Sunday enroute to Alpena for another load.

Escanaba, Mich. - Dan McNeil
Philip R. Clarke was due to load in Escanaba on Sunday for a load of ore for Gary, Ind. Cason J. Callaway was due into Gary with ore from Escanaba on Monday.

Detroit, Mich.
Lee A. Tregurtha departed her winter lay-up dock heading downbound to Lake Erie. Canadian Progress arrived downbound late Sunday night from Goderich with a load of salt for the Rouge River’s Osborn dock. She was escorted by the USCG Bristol Bay.


2011 edition of “Know Your Ships” guide greets new shipping season

3/21 - "How big is that boat?" "Where is it from?" "Who owns it?" Find the answers to those questions, and more, in Know Your Ships 2011," the popular annual field guide to boats and boatwatching on the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway, available starting today.

Included in the 168-page, lavishly illustrated booklet is information on U.S., Canadian and international-flag cargo vessels, tugs, excursion boats and barges in regular Great Lakes & St. Lawrence Seaway service, including owner and port of registry, year and shipyard where built, length, beam, depth, cargo capacity and former names, plus type of engine, horsepower and top speed for major Great Lakes and Seaway vessels.

Changes in the shipping scene from the previous year (and there are many) are chronicled in the “Passages” section, the meanings of whistle signals are explained and the book also includes seven pages of colorful stack markings of all Great Lakes & Seaway fleets, including stack markings of many of the saltwater fleets that regularly visit the Seaway system. Information on Soo Locks, Welland Canal and the St. Lawrence Seaway is also included as are maps showing the calling points for the St. Marys, St. Clair and Detroit rivers.

“Know Your Ships” 2011 also visits the busy twin ports of Duluth/Superior to explore some prime boatwatching vantage points and looks back at the shipping scene with more images from the KYS archives.

The book, now in its 52nd year, 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.

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 16 from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. at the Great Lakes Maritime Center in Port Huron. Books will be available for purchase at the signing.


Updates -  March 21

Weekly Website Updates
Lay-up list updated
Discussion Boards 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.


Port Reports -  March 20

Marquette, Mich. - Rod Burdick
James R. Barker opened the Upper Harbor late Friday evening, March 18, when she arrived to unload western coal from Superior into the hopper. Barker last opened the Upper Harbor in 2006.

Whitefish, Ont.
The steamer Alpena was due into Whitefish to unload cement around 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, ice permitting.

Straits of Mackinac
Cason J. Callaway was westbound under the Mackinac Bridge at mid-day Saturday.

Ludington, Mich.
The tug Undaunted and barge Pere Marquette 41 will be departing Ludington, Mich. for Chicago, Ill., on Monday.

Seaway - Ron Beaupre
At 8 a.m. Saturday the Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Martha L Black was being raised in the St. Lambert Lock at Montreal. She will run up the St. Lawrence, breaking ice to Lake Ontario if necessary. The recent warm weather has cleared most of the ice off the river.

Halifax – Mac Mackay
The tug Zeus passed Halifax the evening of March 19, en route Chicago.


Andrie Inc. receives international recognition from BP Shipping

3/20 - Muskegon, Mich. – BP Shipping, the transportation division of British Petroleum, has honored Andrie’s tug-barge Karen Andrie/Endeavour as the company’s 2010 partner vessel of the year. The honor is for the energy company’s top ship outside of its own fleet and is among more than 100 independent ships serving BP worldwide.

The two-year-old Karen Andrie/Endeavour was cited by BP Shipping for its advantages with the environment, safety and lower costs, said Andrie President Stan Andrie. Andrie Inc. officials received the BP award late in February at an event in London.

“This articulated tug-barge is a step forward in the modernization of our fleet,” Andrie said. “It has several advantages over the conventional system. Overall efficiency and improved speed are two examples. The design also includes improvements that have a favorable impact on the environment in the form of reduced emissions. The crew's focus on safety has been an integral part of the success of this project.”

The Karen Andrie/Endeavour has wintered the past two off seasons in Muskegon, this winter tied up to the outer seawall of the Mart Dock on Muskegon Lake. Andrie operates 11 ships and employs roughly 100 workers. It has been operating in Muskegon since 1988, when Andrie’s father, Stan Andrie Sr. transformed the Bultema Dock & Dredge Co. from its roots as a marine construction company to Andrie Inc., primarily a marine transportation company.

Karen Andrie/Endeavour hauls liquid asphalt throughout the Great Lakes for BP, one of the first contracts Andrie Inc. had in 1988. The tug-barge loads its cargo at the BP refinery in Whiting, Ind., just south of Chicago and regularly travels to ports from Milwaukee to just beyond Montreal on the St. Lawrence Seaway.

The liquid asphalt is the last product taken from an oil refinery and must be kept at around 300 degrees as it is shipped to asphalt plants throughout the Great Lakes. The thick, black product is mixed with small stones to make asphalt pavement material, Andrie said.

The Karen Andrie/Endeavour has a 300-day annual sailing season on the Great Lakes, according to Andrie Vice President Michael Caliendo.

BP Shipping asks its contractors to provide efforts in the areas of health, safety, security and the environment. The Karen Andrie has low-emission, fuel-efficient engines that cut down on fuel and lubricants, Andrie officials said.

The crew of the Karen Andrie/Endeavour, led by Captain Ken Haines, “established a new culture of safety” on board the tug-barge, Andrie said. Key has been crew training and communications between onboard crew and shoreside personnel, he added.

Besides BP, Andrie Inc. also has major contracts with LaFarge Corp., moving cement throughout the Great Lakes, including into the LaFarge terminal on Muskegon Lake. It just obtained a contract to transport calcium chloride — a liquid road salt for winters and dust control agent for summers — for the Dow Chemical Co. in Ludington, Caliendo said.

Muskegon Chronicle


Cliffs: Market conditions expand Minnesota's iron ore market

3/20 - Virginia, Minn. - Minnesota iron ore is finding a growing overseas market as a result of high ore prices and high demand in India, Asia and other emerging countries, a top Cliffs Natural Resources official said Tuesday.

“Iron ore pricing has increased to the point that we can easily afford the additional freight cost to get the ore from our mines in Minnesota and Michigan to Quebec City, where large ocean-going vessels can come in and take it,” said Don Gallagher, executive vice president global-commercial.

“Cliffs is putting a strong focus on becoming a global player,” he said at the company’s annual Iron Range breakfast briefing. “North America is a consistent market, but one that is finite. That’s one of the reasons were looking at export opportunities for our ores so we have a place to go if there’s an oversupply in North America,” Gallagher told a packed gathering at the Coates Hotel.

As part of that strategy, Cliffs in 2009 became full-owner of the Wabush Mine in Labador, Canada, purchasing the stake of two partners. Last year, it began the process of purchasing Consolidated Thompson, an open-pit iron mining operation near the Wabush mine.

“It has a very high-quality concentrate that’s extremely desirable in Asia right now,” Gallagher said. “The ore blends are going down in quality in Australia, which typically supplies raw materials to Asia. As you lower the iron content, your blast furnace becomes less and less efficient. The Chinese are really scouring the Earth for higher-quality material, and the Japanese as well, so they can blend in the higher iron to offset the lower-quality irons.”

China and India are in the early stages of urbanization and industrialization, along with smaller countries, including some in the former Soviet block. To support its growth, China currently is making nine times as much steel as the United States and needs both the iron ore and coking coal that Cliffs supplies.

“We think steelmaking raw materials is the place to be, and were very happy to be there. We think that will last for quite some time,” Gallagher said.

One factor limits the amount of Minnesota ore that can be shipped overseas transportation. There’s a lack of Great Lakes freighters, and backhaul cargoes, between Minnesota, Michigan and Quebec, he said.

“We’re looking at other options, including railing it west,” Gallagher explained, but ports in Vancouver and Seattle currently aren’t set up to handle large iron ore stocks. For now, the Great Lakes remain the best transportation option.”

Until other projects are completed, Cliffs wont develop renewal fuel or iron nugget projects in Minnesota, he said, but will continue their development in Michigan.

Business North


Updates -  March 20

News Photo Gallery
Discussion Boards
Our server team has delayed the move date to our new server, we will post an announcement when we can confirm the schedule.


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.


Tricky weekend ahead for weakening Lake Huron ice

3/19 - Sarnia, Ont. – Officials with the Canadian Coast Guard are keeping an eye on the St. Clair River this weekend.

"It's an interesting situation," said Andy Maillet, superintendent of operations for the Canadian Coast Guard's central and arctic regions. "We're at the time of year when the ice has been weakened because of the warm temperatures, and probably lacks some cohesiveness or strength."

Maillet said Thursday's strong overnight winds sent a large ice mass which stretched from Sarnia to Kettle Point offshore and down the river. The ice should flow steadily, he noted, as long as the access from the St. Clair River to Lake St. Clair remains open.

"We're hoping that the ice will just flow down there and into Lake St. Clair, without getting jammed up, and causing a problem to shipping," said Maillet. "It's all going to depend on the direction of the wind. So it's something we're going to have to watch and follow very closely."

Meanwhile, the Great Lakes shipping season is set to begin next week, with the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway, the Sault Ste. Marie locks, and the Welland Canal.

"We're getting ready for the opening of the seaway," said Maillet. "Everyone's getting excited."

Sarnia Observer


Beluga Chartering files for bankruptcy

3/19 - Bremen, Germany – Beluga Chartering, a core part of the Beluga Group, has formally filed for insolvency protection as Germany's KG houses and shipowners withdraw their tonnage from the troubled firm. Beluga vessels are frequent visitors to the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway.

In a statement, Beluga Group GmbH said the management board of Beluga Chartering GmbH today announced that they were advised to petition for the opening of insolvency proceedings and have done so at the local court in Bremen earlier today.

"The isolated insolvency filing of Chartering follows the discovery of material irregularities relating to revenues and liquidity, details of which have been notified to the relevant authorities," the statement read. Chartering's parent company, Beluga Group Gmb and certain other key subsidiary companies continue to operate outside insolvency.

HCI Capital alone had taken 20 vessels out of the Beluga fleet and these are in the process of being transferred to Hammonia Reederei, which is jointly owned by HCI, Peter Döhle and GE Transport Finance.

Christina Hoke, HCI spokeswoman, said the company had cancelled its contracts with Beluga with immediate effect.

The decision was not directly related to the allegations of fraud and false accounting made against the Beluga directors and management, particularly founder and owner Niels Stolberg, she said. "The situation at Beluga is not sounding very healthy and we have to safeguard our investors. It is more a calculation based on economic reasons."

There were still talks going on between the KG houses about the possibility of a pool of vessels created from the Beluga ships, she added. "We are looking at what is best for the future."

HCI is not the only one to withdraw tonnage; Blue Water Capital and Oltmann are also believed to be transferring their vessels. Reports suggest that around 40 vessels are already being withdrawn.

Meanwhile, Stolberg was reported to have appeared before the Public Prosecutor's office in Bremen. Oaktree Capital Management, the U.S. investment firm that has taken control of Beluga, is believed to have asked the owners to take significant cuts in charter rates.

Beluga stated that it was pleased to confirm that its key stakeholders are involved in ongoing and constructive dialogue designed to achieve a common solution for Beluga.

An earlier Oaktree statement said it had been informed that Beluga would need additional funding in February 2011, which had been given by Oaktree "after a brief period of diligence."

But when it wanted to know more details about where the new money would be needed, "significant financial irregularities" came to light.

Journal of Commerce


6 rescued from ice floes, prompting Coast Guard warning

3/19 - Cleveland, Ohio – A U.S. Coast Guard airboat crew from Station Saginaw River, Mich., rescued five people who became stranded on an ice floe in Saginaw Bay, near Linwood, Mich., Thursday night. The local fire department rescued another man who was stranded on a different ice floe in the same area.

The high number of rescues demonstrates that the rapidly changing air temperature is making ice in Saginaw Bay and the remainder of the region unstable and extremely dangerous for recreational users.

An HH-65 Dolphin rescue helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station Detroit was nearby on a different mission but flew over the area to verify that no one else was stranded. They found a piece of ice about 11 miles long rapidly drifting away from shore, but they reported there did not appear to be anyone on it.


Traverse City helicopter crew, deployed to Caribbean, medevacs man from cruise ship

3/19 - Cleveland, Ohio - A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter crew from Air Station Traverse City, Mich., temporarily assigned to the Coast Guard Cutter Spencer patrolling Caribbean waters, medically evacuated a man from a cruise ship about 115 miles south of Haiti Wednesday night.

Staff from the cruise ship Emerald Princess called the Coast Guard Seventh District Command Center to request a medevac for the 64-year-old man after he reportedly began experiencing breathing problems and was placed on a ventilator.

The Air Station Traverse City crew hoisted the man onto the MH-65C Dolphin helicopter and brought him to Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where they were met by Trinity Air Ambulance for further transport to awaiting emergency medical technicians in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. The man's condition after his transfer to Trinity Air Ambulance was unknown.


Icebreaking operations scheduled for Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River

3/19 - Sarnia, Ont. - Saturday the Canadian Coast Guard will be conducting icebreaking operations on Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River main channel. Harbors in Picton, Ont., and Bath, On., will also be visited by a Coast Guard icebreaker in preparation for shipping activities.


Lake Ontario's water levels up, for time being

3/19 - Watertown, NY - Water levels on Lake Ontario have climbed in recent weeks thanks to rain and melting snow, but probably will be below average into the summer, the international board that regulates water flows on the St. Lawrence River reported.

The level of the St. Lawrence, meanwhile, remains slightly above average at the Moses-Saunders Dam, the International St. Lawrence River Board of Control reported.

Officials made their six-month predictions in a teleconference Tuesday night from Rochester.

Lake Ontario's water level has been consistently at or below average since late 2009, officials said. Most of Lake Ontario's level is determined by outflows from Lake Erie, which has been consistently below average, they said. The board meets next week to consider water regulation strategy headed into the spring.

Watertown Daily News


Port Burwell dredging options considered

3/19 - London, Ont. – Bayham is seeking permission to dredge the harbor at Port Burwell as it weighs whether to get into the dredging business itself.

Either way, Project Ojibwa, to bring a decommissioned Canadian submarine of that name to the Lake Erie harbor as a new tourist attraction, is expected to benefit.

Council decided this week to seek permission for a “suction-type dredge,” Bayham Mayor Paul Ens said. That’s a process where a vacuum machine would suck material from the bottom of Otter Creek and relocate it, a move proposed by the new harbor committee.

But another suggestion, to buy dredging equipment to do the job and look for other dredging jobs at Erie ports, is still being considered. “We are looking at all the options,” Ens said.

Buying equipment would cost about $700,000, he said, but hiring a contractor would be about $400,000. If it gets the equipment, Bayham could offset the cost with contracts to dredge other ports from Port Dover to Port Glasgow.

Ens said a final decision about buying or hiring a contractor is a month to six weeks away if dredging is to be done this summer. The Ojibwa will arrive on a barge this summer and the municipality has promised there will be enough water to welcome it.

A public meeting is scheduled March 30 at the Vienna Community Centre to bring residents up to date on the submarine project, on which the community is pinning hopes to boost tourism.

London Free Press


Cuyahoga River sediment getting less toxic, possibly saving region millions

3/19 - Cleveland, Ohio - Preliminary tests show muck from the Cuyahoga River is getting cleaner, a development that might save the region from spending millions of dollars to store sediment dredged from Cleveland's shipping channels.

Tests conducted late last year by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers found no significant difference between the level of toxins contained in river sludge and soil in Bratenahl, Army Corps records show.

If the river cleanup is confirmed by the re-testing of sediment next year, Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority officials said Wednesday they might be allowed to dispose of dredged sediment on land or in the open waters of Lake Erie.

That would resolve a crisis for the Army Corps and the port authority. The two agencies need to find a way to dispose of tons of sludge this year, or be forced to eventually cease dredging and limit access to shipping channels that serve up-river industries.

The Army Corps, working with the port authority, now stores the material in dikes along the lakefront. But the dikes will reach capacity by 2014. And a new dike could not be opened until 2017, the Army Corps reported last year.

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency would need to sign off on dumping the sediment elsewhere.

"It's incumbent of us to ask the OEPA what does this mean?" port CEO William Friedman said Wednesday, following a meeting of the authority's board of directors. "My interpretation of the new test results is that we really are right at this threshold. We as a community need to ask the state what do we do with this dredged sediment?"

Frank O'Connor, manager of the Army Corps' Cleveland Harbor dredging project, confirmed that a new containment facility might not be needed if next year's sediment tests match the preliminary tests. "Open lake disposal is not unrealistic," O'Connor said. "It's an option. We don't rule out the possibility, but we can't schedule the new tests until 2012."

For the past year, a port-led task force of government and environmental officials has been searching for alternative storage sites and alternative uses of the dredged material.

Friedman said Wednesday that he has briefed OEPA Director Scott Nally on the latest findings.

"We are aware the Corps has conducted preliminary sediment sampling and that the results show there may be potential alternatives for future disposal of dredged material," said OEPA spokesman Mike Settles. "We are discussing what those options are and the associated costs."

Last November, Joe Kreitinger, an engineer with the Army Corps, collected samples from 10 locations on the Cuyahoga River near the ArcelorMittal steel plant. The tests showed "typical trace levels of urban contamination," including low levels of heavy metals and PCBs. But the soil was nontoxic to aquatic animals such as minnows and midges, and land animals such as earthworms, Kreitinger found.

With such low levels of toxicity, the dredged sediment could be used in commercial and industrial projects such as landscaping, habitat restoration and caps on landfills, Kreitinger reported.

Cleveland Plain Dealer


41,000 lake trout planted in Lake Michigan at Ludington

3/19 - Ludington, Mich – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Jordan River Hatchery planted about 41,000 lake trout fingerlings into Lake Michigan at the Loomis Street boat launch in Ludington Tuesday evening.

Roger Gordon, hatchery manager, and John Johnston, fisheries biologist emptied four tanks containing the fish while a small crowd of onlookers gathered.

The fingerlings are of the Seneca strain of lake trout. The hatchery has been keeping an eye on lakeshore conditions waiting for enough ice to go out in order to do these early plantings. Another 41,000 were scheduled to be planted in Manistee at the mouth of the Manistee River.

Johnston said the early planting makes room in the hatchery for the other fingerlings that will be planted later by boat. Most of the lake trout raised at the hatchery are planted on reefs in Lake Michigan.

Ludington Daily News


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.


Twin Ports season opener

3/18 - Vessel traffic in the Twin Ports began Thursday when the James R. Barker departed Midwest Energy Terminal with a load of coal for Presque Isle. The vessel passed through the Duluth ship canal about 4 p.m. and entered relatively ice-free waters off Duluth. The Barker appeared to have little difficulty with the ice. USCGC Alder has been out several times in recent weeks to break ice in the channels and turning basins, and rain and meltwater have combined to open parts of the channel and loosen ice in other areas. The Barker was aided by an area of open water off the terminal dock and in the turning basin where vessels turn to line up on the ship canal.

Al Miller


First ship of the season enters port

3/18 - The Canadian Progress made its way into the Port of Goderich Thursday, March 17 and claimed the distinction of being the first freighter of the shipping season to enter port. Capt. Peter Carpenter was presented with the ceremonial top hat and some gifts, part of a time-honored traditional ceremony recognizing the first captain to enter port. The Canadian progress wintered in Port Colborne and had to be escorted by the Canadian Coast Guard Ships Griffin and Risley to clear the ice on Lakes Erie and Huron. The freighter was delayed in Port Colborne with mechanical problems. They took on a load of salt destined for Detroit. The freighter reached port about 9 a.m. Thursday, after battling ice and 30 knot southerly winds they entered the channel about 2:30 p.m. with the help of tugs Debbie Lynn and Ian Mac.

Goderich Signal Star


Coast Guard to open shipping channel

3/18 - Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. — Four ice breaking vessels are scheduled to begin work in the St. Marys River system in preparation for the March 25 opening of the 2011 shipping season. Recreational ice users — ATV operators, snowmobilers, ice fisherman — should plan their activities carefully, the U.S. Coast Guard warns in a recent press release, and avoid all activity in the proximity of the shipping channels.

“It will be an all-day everyday occurrence,” said Sault Traffic Controller Mark Dobson, adding “The more they work on it (the ice), the less stable it becomes.”

The Katmai Bay, homeported out of the Sault, is scheduled to make a downriver run — joining up with the Mackinaw, Mobile Bay and Biscayne Bay. At some point, the Neah Bay is expected to arrive in the Eastern Upper Peninsula, steaming in from her home port in Cleveland. The Coast Guard Cutters, according to the release, will break ice in the lower end of the West Neebish Channel from Mud Lake Junction Buoy up to Sawmill Point.

The scheduled work will not impact the lower ice bridge connecting Barbeau and Neebish Island. Dobson said he anticipated the large vessels would be ready to start using the Soo Locks when they re-open next week, but it was too early to predict who would be here first or how many ships would be in the river.

“They’re just shaking the cobwebs off now,” he said.

Sault Ste. Marie Evening News


Risley headed for icebreaking in Georgian Bay

3/18 - Sarnia, Ontario - Friday the Canadian Coast Guard Ship Samuel Risley will be icebreaking in northern Georgian Bay. They will break a track for a ship expected Saturday into McGregor Bay. The route includes the main channel from Lake Huron into Georgian Bay, through the North Channel to enter McGregor Bay.


Port Reports -  March 18

Escanaba, Mich. - Rod Burdick
Thursday afternoon at the CN ore dock, Joseph L. Block loaded on the north side while Philip R. Clarke waited on the south side. At Basic Marine, Tug Victory was secured inside a floating drydock.

Alpena, Mich. – Dan McNeil
Alpena is expected to load in her name sake port late on Friday.

Erie, Penn. – Mike Speer
Cason J. Callaway departed her lay-up dock in Erie Thursday upbound on her first trip. She is headed to Escanaba to load.


Lost Great Dane found on Lake Huron ice reunited with owners

3/18 - Bella, a Great Dane, was rescued off the ice of Lake Huron on Wednesday, March 16, and reunited with her owners the next day.

A 1 1/2 year old Great Dane found on Lake Huron was reunited with her owners this afternoon. The U.S. Coast Guard rescued the dog, named Bella, around 11 p.m. Wednesday night.

She had been missing since early Tuesday morning. Owner Shawn Byatt of Sarnia, Ontario, told the St. Clair County Animal Control Office that he and his wife were frantically looking for her.

Crew members aboard the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Bristol Bay spotted the dog as the ship was escorting a freighter through the ice. She was found about 5 miles off the Michigan coastline, 2 miles north of the Blue Water Bridge.

The captain stopped the ship in the ice and deployed the ice rescue team, Coast Guard spokesman Lt. Justin Westmiller said.

We’ve rescued dogs in the past, but it hasn’t happened lately, Westmiller said.

Bella was kept on the ship overnight and turned over to the St. Clair County Animal Control Office this morning, he said. She had redness in her paws from standing on the ice, but was in good health.

The dog would have been able to walk on the ice from the Sarnia side and literally walk across to the United States side, Westmiller said.

The St. Clair County Animal Control Office hadn’t received any calls for the animal, so they called the Sarnia Animal Control Office and the owner was located. Bella wasn’t wearing any tags.

Detroit Free Press


Updates -  March 18

News Photo Gallery


Today in Great Lakes History -  March 18

In 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.


James R. Barker first to leave Duluth-Superior

3/17 - Duluth, Minn. – Maritime traffic through the port of Duluth-Superior was set to start today with the scheduled afternoon departure of the season's first laker, James R. Barker. After spending winter layup at MERC's Superior Midwest Energy Terminal, the vessel will be loaded with coal for Marquette, Mich. This is the third consecutive year that the Barker has been the first outbound vessel; she departed last year on March 20.

One more entry in the Duluth-Superior record books will be made shortly after the Soo Locks open on March 25, when the port's first inbound laker arrives from outside the area. Early indicators point to the night of March 26 (or early morning March 27) as the official start to the 2011 Great Lakes commercial navigation season in the Twin Ports.

In advance of the locks opening, operators will fit-out five other lakers that wintered in Duluth-Superior and plan to sail this season, including American Century, American Integrity, John G. Munson, Roger Blough and American Spirit. All are currently scheduled to load/depart between March 23-25. Some final repairs need to be completed on the H. Lee White prior to sailing in mid-April; three other lakers (American Victory, Adam E. Cornelius and Edward L. Ryerson) are not scheduled to sail at this time and will remain at Fraser Shipyards.

A handful of lakers are already on the move on lakes Michigan and Huron (Great Lakes Trader, Philip R. Clarke, Joseph L. Block), shuttling pellets to replenish critically low iron ore inventories at steel mills.

It is a bit harder to predict the arrival of the port’s first oceangoing vessel – the first saltie to transit the full St. Lawrence Seaway. The Seaway locks (the Montreal/Lake Ontario section and the Welland Canal) will reopen for business this season on March 22, but the Port of Duluth-Superior won’t see its first saltie arrive for a few weeks. That first ship to pass beneath the Aerial Lift Bridge will be greeted by maritime officials with welcoming ceremony and will also qualify a winner for the annual First Ship Contest sponsored by the Duluth Seaway Port Authority and Visit Duluth.

Last year, the port’s first saltie was the Federal Elbe on April 7; the previous year it was Medemborg on April 12. The port’s earliest recorded arrival of an oceangoing ship was the Indian-flagged LT Argosy on April 1, 1995.

Overall tonnage for the Port of Duluth-Superior was up 28 percent at the close of the 2010 navigation season compared to the previous year, said Adolph Ojard, executive director of the Duluth Seaway Port Authority. Led by an 80 percent rebound in iron ore shipments for steelmaking, the port also saw strong performances in limestone, coal and wind turbine components, coupled with a 68 percent surge in grain exports.

“As long as consumer confidence continues to improve and this nation’s economic recovery can be sustained, we should see another strong navigation season in 2011 and continue to build back to more typical season averages over the course of the next couple of years,” said Ojard.



Port Reports -  March 17

Alpena - Ben & Chanda McClain
On Tuesday morning, the Alpena was loading cement at Lafarge; she departed before noon heading for Detroit. The tug Samuel de Champlain and barge Innovation arrived in port on Wednesday afternoon. Wednesday's weather was warm and spring-like but the bay had some wind-driven ice move in, as there was more open water on Tuesday. The Innovation left Lafarge around 8 p.m., also bound for Detroit.

Detroit, Mich.
Alpena departed the Detroit Lafarge dock on Wednesday morning, and arrived at the Toledo Lafarge dock Wednesday about 3 p.m.

Erie, Penn. - Jeffrey Benson
Cason J. Callaway is getting ready to depart Erie – her deck crew is on board, running lights are on and she has pulled her anchors from the bottom of the slip. Both boilers are running. However she still had her shore power cables and mooring cables doubled as of Wednesday morning. She is expected to depart Thursday heading upbound to Escanaba to load for Gary, Indiana.


Great Lakes shippers protest cut in dredging funds

3/17 - Traverse City, Mich. - Great Lakes shipping companies say their industry would be hit hard by an Obama administration proposal to cut funding by one-third for dredging the region's ports and waterways.

The Great Lakes Maritime Task Force says if Congress approves the 2012 spending plan, the amount of sediment removed from the lakes' shipping channels will be the smallest since record-keeping began more than 50 years ago. The group said Wednesday that the Army Corps of Engineers would dredge only 11 of the 83 U.S. ports on the lakes.

Task force President John Baker says clogged waterways already force ships to lighten loads. He says the government can afford more dredging even at a time of budget cutting because there's a $5.6 billion surplus in a trust fund from taxes on waterborne commerce.

Associated Press


USCG Alder to clear channel to Madeline Island

3/17 - Bayfield, Wis. – For the first time since 1964, the United States Coast Guard will break ice to allow ferry service to resume to the small island community of La Pointe, Wis., in Lake Superior.

The town government requested an icebreaker be dispatched to clear the two and one-half mile channel from Madeline Island to the ferry terminus at Bayfield, Wis., because of dwindling gasoline supplies. Normally island residents would be able to gas up through the winter on the mainland using an ice road maintained by the town of La Pointe, but this year's road has been plagued by cracks. The road, which averages about 50 days of use each year, opened on Feb. 5 but was closed without warning Feb. 19 after cracks opened up and a small car dropped several wheels through the ice.

Residents and mainland workers who depend on the road were optimistic that it would reopen after a short period of healing but then on Feb. 27, with an explosive bang, the ice shoved at both the Bayfield and the island side effectively blocking all traffic from both ends. Several attempts to break the ice down to allow the van service operated by the town to pass were thwarted by the continual shoving of the ice which re-heaved the two to four foot ridges.

The three vans used for the crossing service were hastily moved onto the ice so that they could maintain crack-to-crack service. A makeshift bridge was being constructed earlier this week so that they could be removed from the ice after their last scheduled trip.

The town was notified that the USCGC Alder will begin breaking ice to the island from a point in the South Channel between Long Island and Madeline Island around seven Thursday morning. Since the vessel will not operate in less than 18 feet of water it is expected that the ferryboats will have to cover about 400 yards at each end on their own. The Madeline Island ferry company anticipates its first trip will take around five hours, beginning on Sunday. In the meantime, passenger and freight service will continue using the town’s three windsleds.

Tim Eldred


Opening of Pipe Island north and east channels

3/17 - Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. – Due to deteriorating ice conditions, the Pipe Island passage in the lower St. Marys River will open at 3 p.m. on Saturday. Coast Guard cutters will conduct icebreaking operations to open the Pipe Island Passage, north and east of Pipe Island. CN rail bridge reopens at Soo, Ont. The CN Rail bridge that crosses the St. Marys River and the Sault Ste. Marie Canal has reopened. CN Manager of Public Affairs for the US Patrick Waldron told the bridge reopened to train traffic Tuesday night.

"Certain weight restrictions will remain in place on the bridge for the coming days," Waldron said. "Crews will continue to do work on the bridge this week but the emergency repairs that closed the structure last month are complete." The bridge was closed on Feb. 20 when an inspection that evening revealed problems.

Soo Today


Facebook post leads to Soo Locks opening date confusion

3/17 - Port Huron, Mich. – You can't believe everything that you read online, and this time the accusatory fingers are pointing at Facebook. A social-media blunder has sent the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Detroit District scrambling to quell rumors the Soo Locks would open early this year.

A Monday post by an administrator for the "I Love Sault Ste. Marie" Facebook page stated the locks would open early on March 21 instead of March 25, and provided a link to an article by Sault Ste. Marie's newspaper, the Evening News. However, the article was from March 14, 2010 -- a year ago, when the locks did open early because of demands from the shipping industry.

Numerous comments and "likes" on the misinformed Facebook post led to a flurry of calls Tuesday morning to the corps in Detroit and the lockmaster in Sault Ste. Marie. Michael Panick, acting chief of lock operations, verified the Soo Locks will open this year one minute after midnight March 25, as planned.

Linda Hoath of the Sault Area Convention & Visitors Bureau said at least five people inside and outside of the office are administrators of the "I Love Sault Ste. Marie" Facebook page.

"I don't know exactly what happened there," Hoath said, adding that the way the rumor spread shows how interested people are in the operation of the locks.

Cassandra Kardeke, webmaster in the public affairs office of the Corps' Detroit District, said she received a large number of calls asking whether the locks were going to open early. "People love the locks," Kardeke said.

After posting a bold, clarifying statement at the top of the Corps' Detroit District's website, Kardeke made sure to update the social-media site as well. As the administrator to the Detroit District's Facebook page, Kardeke made corrective comments on the "I Love Sault Ste. Marie" page and on another site,, that had promoted the misinformation.

Port Huron Times Herald


Draught information system to increase safety and efficiency of Seaway

3/17 - The St Lawrence Seaway Management and Development Corporations, in cooperation with the shipping industry, are developing a Draught Information System (DIS) to increase the safety of navigation in the St. Lawrence Seaway by providing mariners with better information about under-keel clearance.

The primary purpose is to ensure that a safe under-keel clearance is maintained by vessels as they make maximum use of the available water column potentially increasing the efficiency of the Seaway. The ship dynamics, combined with accurate bathymetry and current water level information, allow for a dynamic portrayal of the safety of the ship. This also provides a look-ahead capability that will assist in safe navigation. Using a Draught Information System a mariner has a better understanding of what the safe limits are to navigation.

An implementation specification has been developed following the procedures defined for the public standards development process and the public comments received were addressed in accordance with this process. The St. Lawrence Seaway is pleased to issue this implementation specification as a key step to increase the safety and efficiency of its system. The DIS implementation specification is available via the following link: Draught Information System Seaway


Updates -  March 17

News Photo Gallery
Historical Perspectives Gallery updated - new pictures in the Raymond H. Reiss gallery


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.

In 1945 Stadium Boat Works of Cleveland Ohio launched the SOUTH SHORE (US. 247657) for Miller Boat Line of Put-In-Bay, OH. She carried 6 autos and 120 passengers. In 1973, she was sold to Beaver Island Boat Company until retired at the end of the 1997 season. In April of 1999, sailed to Chicago where she was docked at the foot of Navy Pier as a storage vessel for Shoreline Cruises.

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


Port Reports -  March 16

Escanaba, Mich. - Dick Lund
On Monday, Philip R. Clarke was loading at the CN Ore Dock while the tug Nickelena was breaking ice in the harbor. Also, a new crane barge, BMI 192, was in the Basic Marine/C. Reiss Coal slip. The barge Joseph H. Thompson and its tug, Joseph H. Thompson, Jr., were still in winter lay-up at the C. Reiss Coal Co. north dock. Finally, the Erika Kobasic was underway heading for Menominee to assist the tug Victory, formerly of KK Integrated Shipping, but now owned by Grand River Navigation (Rand Logistics), from Menominee to Escanaba Wednesday. The Victory has a date with the drydock in Escanaba.

Menominee, Mich. – Dick Lund and Scott Best
Tuesday morning found the tug Erika Kobasic breaking ice in the Menominee River before assisting the tug Victory depart the KK Integrated Logistics dock. Victory is heading for Escanaba where it will be dry-docked. The only difference in the markings on the tug so far is the change of home port from "Menominee, MI" to "Cleveland, OH".

Halifax, NS.- Mac Mackay
The tug Victorious and barge John J. Carrick left layup in Halifax on Monday. There had been idle at the McAsphalt pier in Dartmouth since January.


St. Marys River ice breaking operations begin Thursday

3/16 - On Thursday, the United States Coast Guard will start breaking ice in the St. Marys River in preparation for the 2011 shipping season. Ice breaking operations will extend from Munuscong Lake to Sawmill Point.

The U.S. Coast Guard cutters involved will be the Mackinaw, based out of Cheboygan; Biscayne Bay out of St. Ignace; Neah Bay out of Cleveland; and Katmai Bay, homeported in Sault Ste. Marie. The cutters will break ice in the lower end of the West Neebish Channel from Mud Lake Junction Buoy up to Sawmill Point. This work will not impact the lower ice bridge connecting Barbeau to Neebish Island.


Great Lakes levels expected to drop more this summer

3/16 - Port Huron, Mich. – Southeast Michigan's huge snow drifts and thick ice aren't expected to yield higher water levels in the Great Lakes this summer. In fact, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is predicting the depth of most lakes will drop from 2010 averages.

The problem? Despite one of the snowiest Februarys in southeast Michigan's history, the rest of the state didn't keep pace. That means the snow cap on Lake Superior isn't all that impressive and won't lead to a heavy runoff when the spring thaw finally rolls around.

The Army Corps' latest forecast shows the depth of Lake Michigan and Lake Huron might decrease 7 to 12 inches from last summer's 569 feet -- which was 10 feet below the historical average. Lake St. Clair, recorded at 569 feet last summer, could fall 7 more inches, the forecast shows.

Lake Erie's water level is forecasted to drop 3 to 6 inches from last year's depth of 570 feet -- which was a foot below its historical average. Lake Superior could drop 1 to 8 inches from last year's depth of 596 feet -- which was 5 feet below average. The only good news is on Lake Ontario, where the level is expected to stay the same as last year.

While the St. Clair River is not included in the Army Corps' predictions, less water in Lake Huron certainly means less water in the waterways surrounding it.

Stephanie Schriner, harbormaster at the Charles F. Moore Municipal Boat Harbor in St. Clair, said less water in the St. Clair River is becoming a serious problem. She said she had to turn away business last year because the harbor was too shallow to accommodate some vessels. The resulting hit to fuel sales has hurt the most -- four boats got stuck last year in a particularly shallow area near the harbor's fuel dock, she said.

"It's beginning to be a reputation issue as well," Schriner said.

In Lexington, where officials long have been concerned about the depth of the harbor, lower water levels in Lake Huron could have a similar affect.

Keith Kompoltowicz, meteorologist for the Army Corps' Detroit office, said southern Michigan, northern Indiana and Chicago saw above-average snowfall in February. But northern Michigan saw significantly less snow than usual. Sault Ste. Marie, for example, received about 70 inches of snow this winter. The city typically receives about 115 inches. Gaylord received about 35 inches less than average, he said.

"Water in that snow makes up most of the water supply for the upper Great Lakes," Kompoltowicz said.

Last year's dry spring also is playing a role in the summer forecast for the lakes, he said. The forecast could change, he said, if a lot of rain falls this spring.

Glen Nekvasil, a spokesman with the Lake Carriers' Association in Cleveland, said shallow water means commercial ships must carry less cargo. "Our ships lose anywhere between 50 and 270 tons of cargo for each inch of draft," Nekvasil said. "In the worst cases, it is 15-16 percent of a ship's carrying capacity."

In short, "that's a lot of money in cargo left on the docks," said Dan Gallagher, president of the Lakes Pilots Association in Port Huron.

Ships carried record amounts of cargo when water levels were good on the Great Lakes in the late 1990s, Nekvasil said. Since then, the levels have been plummeting.

"By 2000, we were losing more than 10,000 to 12,000 tons on our biggest ships," Nekvasil said. "These companies are paid to carry cargo. When they're not carrying as much cargo, they're not making enough revenue.

Port Huron Times Herald


Burger Boat Co. readies fisheries research ship Coregonus

3/16 - Manitowoc, Wis. – Burger Boat Co. is gearing up for the delivery of a 60-foot fisheries research vessel to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources next month.

The company has finished building the R/V Coregonus — the first time Burger Boat has produced a commercial vessel in about 48 years — and it is awaiting sea trials before delivery.

"This vessel is a reflection of where we came from," said Ron Cleveringa, Burger Boat's vice president of sales and marketing. "To diversify back into commercial work is a good, practical step forward into the future. We plan to continue with commercial projects."

In recent years, Burger Boat has specialized in yachts, but it has a long history of building boats for commercial and military use. The Coregonus, named after fish genus including lake whitefish, lake herring and bloater chubs, replaces the Barney Devine, a research ship built nearly 75 years ago by Burger Boat. Burger said it expects to deliver the vessel next month.

Based in Sturgeon Bay, the Coregonus is expected to work on both Lake Michigan and Lake Superior researching the commercial and sport fishing industries, the DNR said last year.

Former DNR Secretary Matt Frank said the research would be vital to the economic health of the industries. He said sport fishing alone annually generates about $420 million and sustains 5,000 jobs. The aluminum hull Coregonus is one of two commercial projects Burger has undertaken.

The company also is building a 98-foot passenger ferry for use in Chicago. That vessel, a steel hull, is expected to be delivered this summer.

"The passenger vessel is a return to steel construction, which opens us to further work in other commercial endeavors," Cleveringa said. "It also opens us up to steel-hull aluminum-superstructure yachts, which we get inquires for from time to time, primarily from European and eastern European clients."

All of Burger Boat's staff has been trained in working with steel construction, he said.

"We're an ever-evolving company ... and by answering the call for commercial work, when there is commercial work out there, it's just a smart thing to do — as is steel," Cleveringa said. "We're answering the market's call, essentially."

Green Bay Press-Gazette


Hearing opens discussion on offshore wind farm in Lake Erie

3/16 - Erie, Pa. – During a hearing on Monday, representatives of companies interested in developing an offshore wind farm in Lake Erie outlined the pollution-free energy, manufacturing, and jobs that the system could generate.

State and federal agencies that would regulate an offshore wind farm and environmental groups questioning the plan also testified in the hearing.

The hearing was hosted by state Sen. Jane Earll, of Fairview Township, R-49th Dist., and state Sen. Mary Jo White, of Franklin, R-21st Dist., as an "early discussion" about whether offshore wind turbines can and should be developed in Pennsylvania lake waters, Earll said.

Tim Ryan, president of Apex Offshore Wind's Erie office, outlined a preliminary proposal to install up to 221 wind turbines in the lake, from Presque Isle west to the state line.

Such a system would generate shipbuilding and other manufacturing and related jobs and increase Erie port traffic, and would produce electricity at stable rates not dependent on coal or natural-gas prices, Ryan said.

An economic-impact study recently completed in Rhode Island estimated total economic benefits of an offshore wind farm at $750 million, Ryan said.

A similar proposal in Delaware would create between 80 and 100 full-time jobs plus 500 construction jobs, said Leslie Garrison, Great Lakes development project director for another wind energy company, NRG Bluewater Wind, in New Jersey.

But environmentalists and Erie residents said there could also be downsides -- in the negative effect on fish that live in the lake and spawn in its tributary streams, and on bats and birds that migrate across Lake Erie between Presque Isle and Long Point, Ontario.

No lake land should be leased for wind farms until the migratory patterns of birds and bats are carefully mapped so that those areas aren't developed, said Jeff Schmidt, director of the Sierra Club's Pennsylvania chapter, and Kim Van Fleet, important-bird area coordinator for Audubon Pennsylvania.

The Erie to Long Point corridor is an important part of the Atlantic Flyway, said Van Fleet, who showed photographs of birds and bats killed by wind turbines on land.

Many species of birds and waterfowl fly low enough to fly into turbine rotors, especially in poor weather, and are unable to see the spinning rotors because of motion blur, Van Fleet said.

"The number of shore birds, songbirds, raptors and waterfowl here can't be found anywhere else in Pennsylvania," Van Fleet said. "We need to protect that phenomenal resource."

Andy Daniels, of Erie, questioned the potential effect of an offshore wind farm on the region's drinking water.

"How many million tons of copper, zinc and steel are you going to be sticking in my drinking water in turbines and pipelines?" Daniels asked wind industry representatives. "Erie gets its drinking water from Lake Erie."

The aesthetic effect of an offshore wind farm should also be considered, Schmidt said.

Schmidt said that the Sierra Club supports offshore wind energy provided that wildlife, water quality, and other natural resources, "such as sunset views from the beaches of Presque Isle State Park," are protected.

Schmidt and others praised wind farms' "zero emission" energy generation.

Wind farm developers would be required to show how they would mitigate potential negative environmental and aesthetic effects through a rigorous public permitting process, representatives of the state and federal regulatory agencies said.

Earll underlined that reassurance. "No one's going to be out there putting turbines in the lake without a lengthy process," Earll said.

The benefit of offshore wind is that it's stronger and more consistent than winds inland, developers said.

Apex's preliminary proposal is to build a series of turbines off the Erie shoreline. The nearest turbine to shore would be about eight miles off Presque Isle. The others would be installed about 14 miles offshore, Ryan said.

Turbine rotors would channel offshore wind to electric generators, and in turn to an offshore station through underwater lines, and then ashore, Ryan said.

Such plans are very preliminary, industry and government officials said. No offshore wind farms are under construction in the U.S. or even have been granted construction permits.

Cleveland area wind energy advocates, with funding help from the Cleveland Foundation, are working to locate the first offshore wind farm in Lake Erie in Ohio. Developers have an option to lease land under the lake and are working on requirements for permits to build turbines offshore in 2012.

Erie Times-News


Show your colors with Boatnerd logos

3/16 - The boatwatching season is upon us – are you able to be indentified as a BoatNerd? For your vehicle we have 4" x 4" bumper stickers and interior window clingers. For your jacket, cap or shirt we have 3.25" x 3' sew-on cloth patches. Let people know you are a Boatnerd. Look for other Boatnerds. All proceeds go to support this site.

To order these items, click here for order form and pricing.


Boatnerd’s 2011 cruising, gathering schedule announced

3/16 - Several outstanding cruises and gatherings have been planned by Great Lakes & Seaway Shipping Online Inc. for interested boat watchers this season. Make your reservations now.

June 4 - Badger Boatnerd Gathering Cruise
We are pleased to again offer the popular Boatnerd Badger Gathering – a round-trip crossing of Lake Michigan from Ludington, Mich., to Manitowoc, Wis., aboard Lake Michigan Carferry ‘s 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. On Friday night, June 3, we have arranged a special Badger Boatel B&B to stay aboard the steamer on the night prior to the cruise. Reservations for staterooms are limited. This optional part of the gathering may offer pilothouse and engine room tours.

Keweenaw Star Boatnerd cruise July 15-17
Boatnerd is sponsoring a three-day, two-night trip from Charlevoix to the Soo and return aboard the Keweenaw Star July 15-17. This promises to be a superb freighter-chasing, lighthouse-viewing trip. Package includes: Three days cruising aboard the Keweenaw Star in the shipping lanes and past a number of lighthouses, lunch on board the boat, two nights at the casino in the Soo, two buffet dinners and breakfast buffets at the casino, and $30 cash to spend in the casino. See the Gathering Page for all the details. Call the Keweenaw Star at 231-237-9365 and make your reservation today. Hyperlink -

June 24 - Engineer’s Weekend St. Marys River Cruise
Arrangements have been made to have a cruise on the St. Marys River as part of the annual Engineer’s Day Gathering in Sault Ste. Marie. The cruise will be aboard one of the American Soo Locks Tours boats departing from Dock #2 (next to the Valley Camp) at 6 p.m. on Friday, June 26. Boarding begins at 5:30 p.m. The cruise will be three (3) hours and we will travel thru both the U.S. and Canadian Locks, and will do our best to find photo opportunities for any traffic in the river. A buffet dinner will consist of pasta with meatballs, baked chicken, cheesy potatoes, mixed veggies, tossed salad and dessert. There will be a cash bar on board. Reservations are a must as we are limiting the group to 100 persons. This will afford everyone enough space to take photos and enjoy themselves.

August 6 - Detroit River/River Rouge Boatnerd Cruise
On Saturday, August 6, 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. A pizza lunch will be delivered by the J. W. Westcott II mailboat. Cost is just $30 per person, same price as last year. Reservations are a must as we are limiting the group to 100 persons. The cruise will depart at 10 a.m. sharp from Portofino's On The River in Wyandotte, Mich.

September 16-18 – Annual Welland Canal Gathering
Once again, Boatnerds will gather at the Welland Canal for socializing, sharing pictures and videos, plus watching the passing traffic. We will also tour International Marine Salvage and see where the boats go when they die.

See the Gathering Page for details and sign up forms


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.


Great Lakes Towing tows Manistee from Monroe to Toledo

3/15 - Cleveland, Ohio – On Monday, the Great Lakes Towing Company completed the dead ship move of Grand River Navigation’s Manistee from the Monroe Port Authority Dock in Monroe, Mich., to Toledo’s Lakefront #2 Dock. The move was made necessary by a need to free up the dock in Monroe before the Manistee’s fit out. The company used the tugs Nebraska and Pennsylvania, which sailed from Toledo and took the Manistee in tow in Monroe, spun the vessel in the harbor there, and proceeded outbound with the Nebraska on the bow and Pennsylvania on the stern. In Toledo, tug captains spun the Manistee, then berthed the vessel stern first. Upon completion, the tugs returned to their dock in Toledo.

Like the G Tugs on FaceBook

Great Lakes Group


Marcon marketing Sarah Spencer for sale or charter

3/15 - Marcon International, Inc. of Coupeville, Wash., has announced it has been chosen as the exclusive broker to market he integrated tug and barge Jane Ann IV and Sarah Spencer for sale or charter. Marcon had previously handled the purchase of this ITB unit as the sole broker in 2006. The vessels did not sail in 2010 and are currently laid up in Windsor, Ont.

The Canadian flagged, 594' x 72.2' x 40' depth, 22,105dwt Spencer" (ex-Sea Barge One, ex-Captain E. V. Smith, ex-Adam E. Cornelius) was originally built as a 26,800dwt, Great Lakes self-unloading bulk carrier for American Steamship Co. in 1959 by Manitowoc Shipbuilding Co., Manitowoc, Wis., as Hull 424. She traded for many years under U.S. flag, until sold to Canadian buyers in 1989, which renamed her Captain E.V. Smith. At the time of that purchase, the new owners converted and rebuilt the ship into a non-propelled barge for a salt contract on the Eastern Coast of Canada. Conversion included strengthening of the hull for ocean trade, removing the propulsion machinery and superstructure plus installing skegs and a notch for the tug.

As converted, Sarah Spencer is capable of carrying about 807,514cft bulk in 6 holds and self-discharging up to about 2,000 tons per hour. The unloading system consists of two hold conveyor belts, one located on each side, which carries the cargo forward. The cargo flows onto belts by opening horizontally sliding air operated gates in bottom of the hold. Near the forward end of the barge, elevated hold belts feed the material through transverse chutes to an elevator conveyor, consisting of an endless chain of buckets, elevating the material to hopper and chute above spar deck and then to the 250' conveyor boom which discharges the cargo onshore. Over the last few years the cargoes have been mostly aggregate, with occasional grain and salt.

After being towed and pushed by various tugs through the years, in 1992 the 8,000BHP Canadian flagged tug Jane Ann IV (ex-Tignish Sea, ex-Bomare, ex-Ouro Fino) was selected to push Sarah Spencer. The 150', ABS-classed tug was built, along with an identical sister-tug, in 1978 by Mitsui Engineering-Fuginaga of Osaka, Japan, for Maersk Brasil (Brasmar) Ltd. as an ocean-going, anchor-handling tug on charter to Petrobras. The tug is powered by a pair of Pielstick 8PC221 diesels connected to variable-pitch props in kort nozzles She is also fitted with a Bark River articulated pin-type connection system to engage with the barge's notched stern by means of a pair of hydraulic rams projecting from the sides of the tug's bow and locking into receptacles in the barge. Total combined length of the unit is about 650'. The tug was converted in 2007 to run on IFO in an effort to reduce operating costs.

The tug and barge can be developed for outright sale, charter/purchase or sale with partial financing. They are available for inspection in the Great Lakes by appointment through Marcon.


K-Sea Transportation Partners L.P. announces merger agreement with Kirby Corporation

3/15 - K-Sea Transportation Partners L.P. has announced that it has entered into a definitive merger agreement with Kirby Corporation. Pursuant to the terms of the agreement, K-Sea will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Kirby. The K-Sea management team will continue to run the day-to-day operations of the coastwise tank barge business after completion of the transaction. The merger agreement was unanimously approved by K-Sea’s board of directors.

President and CEO Timothy J. Casey said Kirby’s record of long-term growth and delivering shareholder value is among the best in the maritime industry, not only in the U.S. but also arguably throughout the world. “K-Sea’s management is excited to partner with the Kirby organization, and is delighted our unitholders have the opportunity to elect to become shareholders of Kirby,” Casey said. “We look forward to working with Kirby’s management and seeing the business opportunities that the combination will likely provide K-Sea.

K-Sea Transportation Partners


Updates -  March 15

Weekly Website Updates
Discussion Boards were updated over the weekend with a software patch. We have the issues worked out that may have prevented some from posting on Monday. Please e-mail if you see any issues.


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.


Avonborg added to list of early Seaway salties

3/14 - Avonborg is expected at Burns Harbor on March 26. This will be her second trip to the Lakes. The first trip was in October 2010, when she made calls at Windsor, Duluth and Goderich. She had entered the Seaway on Sept.29.

Rene Beauchamp


Port Reports -  March 14

Escanaba, Mich. - Rod Burdick
Joseph L. Block loaded taconite Sunday afternoon at the CN ore dock. Philip R. Clarke was anchored south of Little Bay de Noc waiting for a clear dock.

Alpena, Mich. - Daniel McNeil
The steamer Alpena is due to arrive her namesake port on Tuesday at 9 a.m. to load cement, ice permitting.


Locks to open March 25 as originally scheduled

3/15 - Correction - Information that the Soo Locks would open early this year, on March 21, was incorrect. They will open March 25. Here is official clarification from the Detroit District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers:

"There's been some confusion as to the opening of the Soo Locks this year. The Soo Locks are currently scheduled to open at 12:01 a.m. March 25. For those of you seeing that it is March 21 please take note that it was in 2010. The locks did open a few days earlier last year but that is not planned for this year."


Updates -  March 14

Weekly Website Updates
Public Gallery updated
Historical Perspectives Gallery updated - new pictures in the Kinsman Voyager gallery
Lay-up list updated
Discussion Boards updated we are working on a few issues that came up during a software update


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.


Canfornav’s Tundra to be one of Seaway’s first salties of season

3/13 - Quebec City, Que. – The Canfornav bulker Tundra is expected at Quebec City on March 22. From there, she will go to Toronto to unload sugar. Built in 2009, it will be her first trip in the Seaway, which will open on March 22 to begin its 53th season of operation.

Rene Beauchamp


Port Reports -  March 13

Sturgeon Bay, Wis. - Wendell Wilke
During an mid morning snow squall Saturday, the Saginaw was assisted into the dry dock at Bay Shipbuilding by Selvick Marine tugs Mary E. Hannah on the bow and the Cameron O. on the stern, with the Susan L. flushing ice from the drydock entrance.

Muskegon, Mich.
The steamer Alpena left layup at the Mart Dock in Muskegon late Friday evening for South Chicago to start her navigation season.


All ferries running on schedule

3/13 - St. Clair, Mich. – Problematic ice flows in the St. Clair River have been flushed downstream, giving three ferry companies room to run on their normal schedule this weekend.

Champion’s Auto Ferry to Harsens Island resumed operations Friday afternoon and will reportedly be running on their standard weekend schedule. The Blue Water Ferry, servicing Sombra, Ontario to Marine City, and the Walpole-Algonac Ferry, are also operating according to schedule.

Port Huron Times Herald


Auto growth to support stronger steels

3/13 - Chicago, Ill. - Scientists in East Chicago and in research labs around the world are working to figure out which grades of steel will support vehicles shown at expositions such as the Chicago Auto Show.

Steel companies and trade associations are investing in research because they expect the development of advanced high-strength steel products to be a market opportunity within the global automotive industry.

ArcelorMittal is among the steel companies developing advanced high-strength steel products tailored for the automobile industry.

Advanced high-strength steel products are forged and processed to make the steel stronger but also of a lighter weight. onventional wisdom in the past dictated that steel had to be heavier to be stronger.

In January, ArcelorMittal unveiled a new product catalog including designs and specifications for 43 parts of a compact car using different steel grades including advanced high-strength steel. Part of the pitch was that automakers could reduce the weight of their vehicles by as much as 19 percent using the company's products.

Blake Zuidema, director of automotive product applications at ArcelorMittal, said driving the innovation is the "intense need" to make vehicles as lightweight and safe for drivers and occupants as possible. Part of the innovation is the result of tightening federal regulations for vehicle emissions, fuel economy and safety.

"Virtually every part in the vehicle is being looked at for what are the optimum combination of properties to make that part as lightweight as possible," Zuidema said at a steel conference Friday in Chicago.

He works at ArcelorMittal global research and development facility in East Chicago.

The development of advanced high-strength steel products has exploded in the last 40 years. Zuidema said back in 1970, he estimated there were fewer than 10 unique grades of steel employed in automobiles. Between now and 2020, he said the number of grades used could increase from 165 to more than 200.

There's also a tug and pull between emerging federal laws and the laws of physics.

"There are certain ultimate performances based on the simple laws of physics," Zuidema said. "Once you understand it, you begin to the see the capability of steel vehicles."

Charles Bradford, president of Bradford Research Inc. of New York, said the fundamentals of the automobile market suggest steel producers have an opportunity to cash in on this type of steel.

Bradford told an audience Friday at the steel conference that improved post-recession vehicle production forecasts, an aging fleet of vehicles on roads and federal standards promote use of advanced high-strength steel. He warned that although mills likely will ask for "a premium price for a premium product," there is a risk of companies being forced to take losses if production overshoots demand.

Roy Platz, director of marketing for ArcelorMittal USA in Chicago, agreed advanced high-strength steel is not cheap to produce, but he was confident the industry has learned some valuable lessons and would be able to benefit from the selling the products. ArcelorMittal facilities in Burns Harbor and East Chicago have the ability to make advanced high-strength steel.

Platz also said Friday about 3.5 million tons of advanced high-strength steel could be consumed by 2015, up from none more than five years ago. He said consumption could reach 5 million tons by 2020.

NWI Times


St. Clair to dredge its public harbor

3/13 - St. Clair, Mich. – The St. Clair City Council has awarded a $71,868 contract to Malcolm Marine, Inc. of St. Clair to dredge 1,200 cubic yards of material from the bottom of the harbor.

"We've had a problem near the fuel docks and some other areas of the marina," said city of St. Clair Superintendent Scott Adkins.

The dredging will be done mechanically from a barge. "No work would be done on shore," said Captain David Malcolm in his bid.

The bid includes the cost of Malcolm Marine hauling all dredged spoils by barge to the United States Army Corps of Engineers Confined Disposal Facility on the north end of Dickinson Island in Clay Township and disposing of them. The dredge material typically contains arsenic, mercury and other hazardous materials, some of it naturally occurring, some of it from historical industrial pollution and runoff.

"The depth of the water is running four to five feet around the gas docks and in the fairway between Docks 3 and 4," said St. Clair Harbormaster Stephanie Schriner.

Motorboats longer than 55 feet, which take hundreds of gallons of fuel, and many sail boats have drafts of six to seven feet and have not been able to gas up or spend the night at the harbor, costing the harbor needed revenue, Schriner said. In a couple of instances, sailboats moored at the long finger docks at the south end of the harbor and harbor employees delivered diesel to them in five gallon cans.

"It's becoming a reputation issue," Schriner told the council.

According to the Corps, the water level of Lake Huron is likely to be seven to 12 inches below 2010 levels, which is about 22 inches below its historical average. Lake St. Clair is expected to be seven inches below 2010 levels.

Malcolm Marine will dredge about 600 cubic feet of mud and silt from around the fuel dock and from the fairway between Docks 3 and 4.

Malcolm will also remove 300 cubic feet of bottom in front of the south seawall, across from Pepper Joe's Restaurant, which the harbor uses for transient traffic, a stretch that's particularly shallow as it nears the drawbridge. The city has a grant from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to pay for 50 percent of this portion of the project.

The final 300 cubic feet of material will be dredged in the fall in an area of the harbor yet to be determined.

Malcolm Marine was the only bidder on the project. "It's a relatively small job," said Adkins.

The council took unanimous action to award the bid at its first "informational" meeting on March 7; part of the three-month trial format in which the first council meeting of the month follows a workshop format and the second meeting of the month is an action meeting.

"We'll normally not have an action item at the informational meeting unless it's time sensitive," said Adkins.

The Voice News /TD>


Updates -  March 13

News Photo Gallery
Lay-up list updated
Discussion Boards updated


Today in Great Lakes History -  March 13

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

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

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


Port Reports -  March 12

Escanaba, Mich.
Shipping continues from Escanaba. Philip R. Clarke finished loading and departed on Friday, Joyce L. VanEnkevort / Great Lakes Trader were loading there Friday night.

Alpena, Mich. – Ben & Chanda McClain
The shipping season began at Lafarge with the arrival of the tug Samuel de Champlain and barge Innovation on Friday afternoon. The pair took on cement under the silos and were outbound in the bay around 8 p.m., heading for Milwaukee.


Keweenaw Star BoatNerd Cruise set for July

3/12 - Great Lakes & Seaway Shipping Online Inc. ( is sponsoring a three-day, two-night trip from Charlevoix to the Soo and return aboard the Keweenaw Star July 15-17. This promises to be a superb freighter-chasing, lighthouse-viewing adventure.

The cruise will leave from Charlevoix on Friday the 15th, travel up Lake Michigan, through the Straits, across the top of Lake Huron and up the St. Marys River to the Soo. We will pass lighthouses at Skillagalee, Grays Reef, White Shoal, Waugoshance, St. Helena, Round Island, Martin Reef and DeTour Reef. A continental breakfast and lunch will be served on board. After arriving at the Soo, we will have dinner and spend the night at the Kewadin Casino.

Saturday will start with the breakfast buffet at the casino, after which we'll reboard the Keweenaw Star to travel through the Soo Locks and up the St. Marys River as far as Ile Parisienne light and back to the Soo. We should see plenty of freighter traffic, plus the lighthouses at Point Iroquois, Gros Cap and Isle Parisienne. Lunch will be on board the Keweenaw Star. We will again enjoy dinner and stay the night at the Kewadin Casino in the Soo.

Sunday will start with the breakfast buffet at the casino, after which we'll reboard the Keweenaw Star for the return trip to Charlevoix, with lunch on board.

Package includes: Three days cruising aboard the Keweenaw Star in the shipping lanes and past a number of lighthouses, lunch on board the boat, two nights at the casino in the Soo, two buffet dinners and breakfast buffets at the casino, and $30 cash to spend in the casino.

Package cost is $475 double occupancy, or $545 single. In order for everyone to have plenty of room on the boat, we are limiting the cruise to the first 60 reservations. A minimum of 40 passengers are needed in order for the trip to take place.

Call the Keweenaw Star at 231-237-9365 and make your reservation today.


Chief Engineer Don "Doc" Boone dies at 81

3/12 - Retired Chief Engineer "Doc" Boone of Collingwood, Ont., passed away on Sunday March 6 in his 81st year


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


Port Reports -  March 11

Joseph L Block departed Escanaba with her first load of the season on Thursday. Philip R. Clarke departed winter lay-up in Sturgeon Bay Thursday afternoon and headed upbound on Green Bay to load at Escanaba.

The tug Samuel deChamplain and her barge departed winter lay-up in Cleveland about 7 a.m. Thursday morning upbound for Alpena on their first trip of the season. They were met off Cleveland by the USCG Cutter Bristol Bay and Canadian Coast Guard Ship Griffon. They were later escorted across Lake St. Clair by the Canadian Coast Guard Ship Samuel Risley, which then turned on the lake to escort the downbound tug Everlast and her barge. .


OPG Advises Ice Booms to be Removed From St. Lawrence River

3/11 - Cornwall, Ont. – Ontario Power Generation has advised hunters, anglers and recreational boaters on the St. Lawrence River that ice booms will be removed from narrow stretches of the river between March 16 and 29.

These booms, which were placed in the river off Galop Island, in the North Channel, near Johnstown and at Prescott last November, are chain-and-wood devices used to prevent the build-up of ice during the winter. They ensure an even freeze on the river, helping to improve power generation during the winter months. All users of the river should take extra care in the narrow reaches where the work is being undertaken to remove the booms.

Ice booms are placed in the same narrow reaches of the St. Lawrence River each November and removed in the spring when the ice has melted, before the St. Lawrence Seaway shipping season commences.

Cornwall Seaway News


Nuclear shipment is expected to go ahead this spring despite opposition

3/11 - Cornwall, Ont. – There have been conflicting reports on plans to ship used radioactive generators across the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence Seaway. The reports are contributing to worries in Canada as well as from bordering towns in the United States.

One Canadian politician who is keeping a close eye on the plans is newly-minted Senator Bob Runciman who hails from the Thousand Island and the Rideau Lakes area.

“Unless someone can point to specific weaknesses in terms of how this is going to be handled, I am not going to ring any alarm bells,” Runciman said.

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) has announced it will issue a transport licence to Bruce Power to ship 16 decommissioned steam generators to Sweden for recycling. The commission feels the risk to people and the environment is almost negligible.

The CNSC maintains Bruce Power is well qualified to carry out the shipment and will take adequate precautions to protect the environment, the health and safety of everyone living in areas where the shipment will go through.

The shipment is scheduled to take place this spring once the St. Lawrence Seaway opens for another season. Altogether 16 decommissioned steam generators will be transported from southwestern Ontario to Sweden.

Each generator is the size of a school bus. The generators will be welded shut before they are shipped. According to available reports 20 million Canadians and Americans live close to the Great Lakes and another 40 million rely on them for safe drinking water.

The licence is valid for one year and is the first of many regulatory hurdles Bruce Power faces before it can start shipments.

Canadians and American, residing in the vicinity of areas where the shipment will go through, are hoping and praying CNSC is right. Bruce Power still needs approval from authorities in the United States, Britain, Norway and Denmark.

The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative, which is a coalition of 73 mayors whose municipalities abut the St. Lawrence and Great Lakes, has opposed the shipment from the beginning, claiming any mistakes could be disastrous for the water source and its ecosystem.

Cornwall is opposed to the shipment.

The coalition also emphasizes this approval could set a precedent for other nuclear plants looking to transfer wastes to other countries via the St. Lawrence River system, which provides water to millions of people.

The coalition is determined to lobby the Canadian, the American and European governments to quash the planned shipment.

Bruce Power says shipping the waste elsewhere is a smarter move than keeping it locked up. The nuclear shipment has to be recycled somehow and this alternative seems to be the best option. Transferring the shipment by air is out of the question. There are more risks in case of a mid-air collision.

So far, Sweden seems to be the only country which has the facility and the know how to recycle this hazardous material.

Runciman said they have to have faith in the commission that oversees this shipment.

Cornwall Seaway News Legislation introduced to help preserve Great Lakes history U.S. Senator Carl Levin has introduced a bill that would expand the boundaries of Michigan's Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary in Alpena County, to also include waters off Alcona and Presque Isle Counties. The expansion would make the sanctuary more than eight times larger.

There are about 116 shipwrecks off the coast of Alpena County. The proposed expansion would protect an estimated 178 additional shipwrecks. The sunken ships in Lake Huron are some of the best preserved in the nation.

9&10 News Port of Green Bay cargo totals fall below 5-year average Green Bay, Wis. – The amount of cargo moving through the Port of Green Bay in 2010 reflected the larger economic landscape of Great Lakes shipping.

Although the amount of iron ore, limestone and coal shipments moving in U.S.-flagged vessels increased over 2009, load totals didn't meet the five-year average. Cargo totals for the Port of Green Bay were 1.7 million tons in 2010, a decrease of about 4 percent from 2009, according to a report issued Tuesday by the port.

Decreases in the amount of salt and cement were key factors influencing the totals, according to the report. Salt, for instance, was down about 133,000 metric tons last year. "Salt was the difference," said Port Manager Dean Haen. "Salt was real high (in 2009), because in 2008, everybody wiped out their reserves, so there was a lot of replenishing. If you take salt out of the picture, we had a flat year comparing 2009 to 2010."

Limestone shipments were up about 9 percent, but cement was down by roughly the same amount. "We ended 2010 with an 8 percent increase in domestic cargo, which may indicate that we will continue to see tonnage increase in 2011 as the economy continues to improve," Haen stated.

December saw 119,102 tons move through the port, up from 40,428 in the last month of 2009, according to the report.

In the larger picture of traffic on the Great Lakes, several commodities showed improvement in 2010, due in part to 2009 being a particularly harsh year.

Iron ore, for example, ended the year with a 67 percent increase from 2009 at 54.4 million tons last year, according to an annual summary from the Ohio-based Lake Carriers' Association. That still was about 2 percent less than the average loadings spanning 2005-09.

Throughout the region, coal was up 7 percent to 32 million tons, and limestone increased 18.6 percent to 27.9 million tons from the previous year. Both those totals trailed the five-year average by 21 and 16 percent respectively, according to the report.

"An increase is always positive news, but one does has to recognize 2009 was a very difficult year when the iron ore total was the lowest since 1938," said Glen Nekvasil of the Lake Carriers' Association. "We had ships that didn't sail last year, so we have a ways to go until we're fully recovered."

Haen expects a new port terminal to open later this year when U.S. Venture starts shipping petroleum products.

"They'll be open for business for at least half of the season… and this will be our first new business opportunity in five or six years," he said. "Someone has figured out a new market to move products, so that's positive."

Green Bay Press Gazette


Millions at stake in fight against Great Lakes carp invasion

3/11 - Toronto, Ont. – Glass tanks were drained of water, but there was no mistaking that the Asian carp were very much alive when government officials inspected suspicious cargo at two Ontario border crossings recently. Hundreds of the fish flopped up and down, their gills sucking air, in the back of two trucks likely destined for the Toronto area from the southern U.S.

These discoveries, part of a ramped-up effort to keep live Asian carp out of the province, led to two convictions this past week and the largest fine for a carp offence: a $50,000 penalty meted out to a Markham, Ont., fish importer.

Bill Ingham, an investigator with Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources, doesn’t know why the fish importers (the other is an American) didn’t just make sure the fish were dead. While the province made it illegal in 2005 to possess live invasive fish, including all varieties of Asian carp, because of the significant threat they pose to the Great Lakes, there’s no law against importing dead carp into the province.

“We’re serious about keeping this species out of Ontario … because of the potential devastation they could have to our commercial and sport-fishing industries – both multimillion-dollar industries,” Mr. Ingham said.

Checking fish cargo at the border is part of a new enforcement strategy. Before fall 2010, Mr. Ingham said the province mainly focused on monitoring grocery stores and wholesalers in the Greater Toronto Area.

Asian carp are a staple of many Chinatown grocery stores in Canada. Mr. Ingham said these fish are less expensive than native varieties, fetching about $3 per pound for chunks. However, live carp are sought after by some consumers. A handful of Toronto area grocery stores have been fined for selling live carp.

Asian carp are voracious plankton eaters and easily reproduce, making it difficult for other fish to find food.

Native to Eurasia, carp were imported to the southern U.S. four decades ago to control algae in fish ponds. After floods allowed the fish to escape into the Mississippi River system in the 1990s, concern has grown that they could make their way into the Great Lakes.

“The Asian carp are the perfect invaders. They are eating and breeding machines,” said Jennifer Nalbone of Great Lakes United, a bi-national advocacy group. “They could have high impacts to our native fishery, in particular in some of warmer, shallower waters such as Lake Erie.”

Mr. Ingham didn’t know how many people in Ontario have been convicted for possessing live invasive fish under the federal Fisheries Act, but he doesn’t believe the latest convictions signify a growing trend. The $50,000 fine levied against Feng Yang of Markham, Ont., in a Windsor courtroom last week marked the second time Mr. Yang has been convicted for the same offence.

Owner of a fish-importing company, Mr. Yang was caught in November with about 1,800 kilograms pounds of live and dead bighead and grass carp piled in tanks in his truck at the Ambassador Bridge border crossing in Windsor, Ont. He had been fined $40,000 for possessing invasive fish in 2006.

In the case of the American fish importer, border and Natural Resources officials seized roughly 2,720 kilograms of bighead carp from a flat-bed truck at the Blue Water Bridge in Point Edward, Ont. The owner of Sweetwater Springs Fish Farm, based in Indiana, pleaded guilty on Monday in a Sarnia courtroom and was fined $20,000.

A third case involving a truck stopped with about 2,720 kilograms of invasive fish in January is before the courts.

Sarah Miller, a water-policy researcher with the Canadian Environmental Law Association, welcomes the province’s focus on border checks but wants the government to go further. She believes Asian carp – dead or alive – should be banned altogether to reduce the risk of fish escaping into Ontario waterways.

“The economic costs of this can go very, very far,” she said.

The Globe and Mail


News reporters wanted

3/11 - The Boatnerd News Channel is always looking for newsworthy 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 others, send along the link. We will check it out and use it if appropriate.


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.


Port Reports -  March 10

Escanaba, Mich.
Joyce L. Van Enkevort and her barge Great Lakes Trader were downbound on Lake Michigan Wednesday, while the cutter Mackinaw was working the bay of Green Bay to Sturgeon Bay. Mackinaw returned upbound, headed north on Lake Michigan late Wednesday afternoon. Joseph L. Block was loading at Escanaba, and was still there as of 11 p.m. Wednesday.


Great Lakes may see a familiar ship with a new name in 2013

3/10 - In May 2012, after a 15-year career with Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, the passenger liner Columbus, a familiar sight on the Great Lakes since the late 1990s, will be returned to her owner, Conti Group. At that point, Plantours & Partner of Bremen will be taking over her operation and may bring her to the lakes in 2013.

“It pleases us that we will in the future be able to offer another attractive destination with the North American Great Lakes, which only a very small number of ships worldwide can reach," said Oliver Steuber, managing director of Plantours & Partner of Bremen.

Columbus will complete her last Great Lakes season for Hapag-Lloyd Cruises this September.

Cruise People


Updates -  March 10

Historical Perspectives Gallery updated - new pictures in the Kinsman Voyager, Raymond H Riess, and Sir James Dunn galleries


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 seacocks 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.


Port Reports -  March 9

Sturgeon Bay, Wis.
Joseph L. Block departed winter lay-up in Sturgeon Bay on Tuesday and headed upbound in to Lake Michigan to load in Escanaba. At 11:30 p.m. she was off Washington Island with the tug Eric Kobasic and USCG Mackinaw waiting to escort her off the north side of the island. Joyce L. VanEnkevort and barge Great Lakes Trader were in Escanaba loading the Trader’s second cargo of the season.


Coast Guard begins breaking ice in Twin Ports

3/9 - Duluth, Minn. – The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Alder started its 2011 ice-breaking duties Monday in the Twin Ports, signaling the re-awakening of the Duluth-Superior harbor after a short winter nap.

With the 2010 season busier in all categories compared to 2009, Seaway officials are expecting another strong year in 2011 as the U.S. and global economies continue to recover.

“Everything we’re hearing is that 2011 should start as strong as 2010 ended,” said Adele Yorde, spokeswoman for the Seaway Port Authority of Duluth. “There’s good demand for (taconite and coal). And with grain, nothing has changed in Russia and Ukraine with their embargo, and Australia has problems, so U.S. grain still looks very strong.”

Port traffic “should be heading back up” closer to levels before the economic slowdown hit hard, Yorde said.

Total ship visits were up 37 percent to 991 in 2010 from 2009, with taconite shipments up 79 percent and grain up 68 percent. But that’s still below the average before the current recession. In 2007, for example, there were 1,235 ships visits to the Twin Ports.

While the frozen waters of the harbor were quiet over the winter, the port itself was bustling near shore, where eight active Great Lakes freighters held up for repairs and service. Those probably will be some of the first boats moving in coming weeks as they take on cargos of taconite pellets and coal before heading out.

Workers have been busy on the idled boats and at shore terminals that continued to take on grain, coal and taconite in advance of the 2011 shipping season. Fraser Shipyards, for example, increased its staff from 30 to 130 to work on lakers over the winter, and it is estimated that ship owners spent up to $1 million on each freighter for winter work, Yorde said.

“It’s been incredibly busy all winter along the harbor,” she said.

On Monday, the Alder powered out of its berth along Duluth’s Park Point and broke a channel toward the Aerial Lift Bridge and another cut up the Superior Front Channel toward the Superior Entry.

“We ran into ice a good 3 feet thick in places, but it wasn’t any problem at all. We moved right along,” said Lt. j.g. Mark Black, the Alder’s operations and navigation officer. “It was good to get out again and get some training in” after being confined to the dock for nearly two months.

Ice anglers and others are warned to stay well away from shipping channels as the Alder will continue to break harbor ice in advance of the shipping season that starts next week when the first lakers in the harbor begin to stir. The Alder also will venture out into Lake Superior from time to time in coming weeks.

The Alder’s ice-breaking efforts will come in handy for the first laker to leave the Twin Ports. That probably will be the James R. Barker, which spent the winter at Midwest Energy Terminal in Superior and is scheduled to leave March 17 with a load of coal bound for Marquette, Mich., Yorde said.

Other lakers in port also could make some Lake Superior trips before the Soo Locks open on March 25. The first Great Lakes traffic from outside Lake Superior probably will arrive in the Twin Ports on March 26. The first salties probably will arrive in early April.

“We’re pretty much right on schedule. The thick ice in the harbors might be an issue. And it’s unlikely we’ll see an early opener for the locks because they are doing some repair work up there,” Yorde said.

The last season officially ended Jan. 19, when the laker John G. Munson arrived at the Port Terminal to hold up for the winter. The season was extended an extra three days thanks to Coast Guard and Army Corps of Engineers efforts, allowing an extra half-million tons of coal and taconite to move to the lower lakes, the Duluth Seaway Port Authority reported.

Duluth News Tribune


Atlantic Towing fined in wake of barge sinking

3/9 - Halifax, N.S. – The owner of a barge that sank in rough seas off Nova Scotia's south coast two years ago has been fined $75,000 for jeopardizing the safety of three crew members.

Irving-owned Atlantic Towing Ltd., based in New Brunswick, pleaded guilty last month to violating a section of the Canada Shipping Act. Provincial court Judge Anne Derrick, in a ruling released today, says the marine services company admitted it did not have a valid ship inspection certificate for the Shovelmaster, the ill-fated dredging barge.

As well, her ruling says the barge sank while it was under tow about 20 kilometres from shore -- five kilometres beyond its legal limit -- and the vessel was not supposed to have anyone aboard.

Atlantic Towing faced a maximum fine of $1 million, but the judge says the company's exemplary safety record and subsequent safety improvements were key mitigating factors in sentencing.

Still, Derrick says the company miscalculated the risk of sailing into a gathering storm -- a decision that could have cost the lives of three people, were it not for a flawless rescue by a Canadian Forces helicopter crew.

Canadian Press


Environmental groups reach ballast water invasive species deal with EPA

3/9 - Traverse City, Mich. – Environmental groups and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have reached a deal requiring tougher federal regulations for ships that dump ballast water in U.S. harbors, a leading way in which invasive species are spread.

Cargo ships often carry millions of gallons of water and sediments in ballast tanks to help keep vessels upright in rough seas. Ballast water teems with fish, bacteria and other organisms that are released as freight is taken on in port. Many of the foreign species spread rapidly, starve out native competitors and upset the ecological balance. Invaders such as zebra mussels cause billions of dollars each year in damage and economic losses.

EPA issued a 2008 permit requiring shippers to exchange their ballast water at sea or, if the tanks were empty, rinse them with salt water before entering U.S. territory. About a dozen environmental groups sued, contending the requirement was too weak and violated the federal Clean Water Act.

Under the settlement announced Tuesday, EPA will issue a new industry-wide permit limiting the number of live organisms in ballast water — a step that will require shippers to install sterilization equipment. The rule will apply to commercial ships over 79 feet long, exempting recreational and military craft.

The agency will release a draft for public comment by Nov. 30 and a final version within a year from then. It would give the industry an extra year to equip their vessels.

“With aquatic invasions occurring all over the country, from the Chesapeake Bay to the Great Lakes to San Francisco Bay, this action is long overdue,” said Thom Cmar, an attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council.

EPA officials did not immediately return messages seeking comment.

The U.S. Coast Guard also is developing regulations limiting the number of live organisms in ballast water, which are expected to be released by the end of April. At least a dozen states have rules or laws dealing with ballast water.

Shipping companies fought such rules for years, contending there wasn't adequate technology to rid ballast water of live organisms. But as researchers have refined sanitation methods such as ultraviolet light, chemical treatments, filtration and oxygen depletion, industry groups have said they could deal with federal standards if they weren't too strict.

Port Huron Times Herald


Updates -  March 9

News Photo Gallery


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.


Charles M. Beeghly rename pays tribute to former Congressman Oberstar

3/8 - Cleveland, Ohio – The Interlake Steamship Co. has announced the renaming of the Charles M. Beeghly in recognition of the Hon. James L. Oberstar, retired United States congressman from Minnesota. The vessel will sail from layup in Detroit this March under its new name, and will be rechristened later this spring. Details of the rechristening will be released as arrangements are finalized.

Congressman Oberstar is a Minnesota legislator and legislative leader who dedicated nearly half a century to service in the U.S. House of Representatives. His tenure on Capitol Hill stretched over 36 years as a member of Congress and 11 years as a senior Congressional aide. Most recently, he served as chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, where he earned a reputation as Congress’ primary expert on transportation issues. He was a featured speaker at the christening of Interlake’s Mesabi Miner in Duluth in 1977.

Congressman Oberstar’s exposure to the iron ore industry and Great Lakes shipping started at an early age – his father was an ore miner. As a legislator, he was well known as a champion of maritime issues, particular those on the Great Lakes. He represented Minnesota’s Mesabi Iron Range, a region that depends upon Great Lakes shipping to move iron ore pellets to market, often through the westernmost Great Lakes port of Duluth, Minn. Congressman Oberstar fought for adequate Great Lakes’ icebreaking resources to keep iron ore moving to the nation’s steel mills during the winter, an effort that culminated in the 2006 launching of the new U.S. Coast Guard cutter Mackinaw. He also worked to legislate funding for a critically needed second lock capable of handling the Great Lake’s largest 1,000’ long vessels at Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., the construction of which is now underway. Among his many other accomplishments, Cong. Oberstar was a vocal advocate for adequate and fair funding for dredging across the Great Lakes basin, a critical component to the efficient movement of maritime commerce across the Great Lakes.

Built in 1958 at the American Shipbuilding Company in Toledo, Ohio, as Shenango II, the Hon. James L. Oberstar is 806’ long with a beam of 75' feet and a carrying capacity of 27,500 net tons. The vessel has undergone numerous efficiency improvements, including a mid-body insert that increased its length by 96’ in 1972, conversion to a self-unloader in 1981, and repowering from steam to diesel in 2009.

“Interlake is honored to be able to recognize Congressman. Oberstar’s service and dedication to our country by naming a vessel after him,” said Mark Barker, Interlake’s president. “Few legislators have made more contributions to Great Lakes shipping and the United States maritime industry.”

The Interlake Steamship Co., headquartered in Richfield, Ohio, operates a fleet of nine self-unloading bulk carriers on the Great Lakes. Interlake, a family owned business, is one of the largest U.S-flag fleets operating on the Great Lakes, and carries approximately 20 million tons of bulk cargo throughout the Great Lakes annually. Those cargoes include iron ore, low-sulfur coal, grain and limestone. Interlake was founded in 1913, with roots that can be traced back to 1883.

Interlake Steamship Co.


Top Hat Ceremony to kick off Welland Canal season March 22

3/8 - St. Catharines, Ont. – The Top Hat Ceremony — an enduring Niagara tradition — takes place March 22 starting 10 a.m. at the Welland Canals Centre. It marks the 182nd opening of the Welland Canal, the 52nd anniversary of the St. Lawrence Seaway and the start of the 2011 navigation season.

"This is a ceremony that signifies a rite of spring," said Andrew Begora, spokesman for the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation, "and people eagerly look forward to it. The ceremony is also a commemoration of William Hamilton Merritt's significant engineering feat (in building the canal)," Begora added.

The tradition traces its roots to the first ship to enter the new Welland Canal on Nov. 27, 1829. At the time the ship Ann & Jane was greeted by a formally dressed, enthusiastic crowd.

This pageantry was recreated 118 years later, when in 1947, Feasby Garment and Linen Rental sponsored an event recognizing the first upbound ship to enter the Welland Canal at the start of the navigation season. A symbolic top hat was presented to the captain. That formality has continued every year for the captain of the first official ship.

The name of the first vessel and keynote speaker for this year's public ceremony in St. Catharines has not yet been announced. In Port Colborne, a Top Hat Ceremony also takes place March 22, in the auditorium of Port Colborne High School.

St Catharines Standard


Lower Great Lakes' summer water levels expected

3/8 - Detroit, Mich. – Boaters on the Great Lakes will see lower water levels than the previous year throughout this summer season, according to the latest projections.

Forecasters with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers expect each of the lakes, with the exception of Lake Ontario, to be lower than in 2010 — this despite the near record-breaking snows that have pummeled southeast Michigan this winter.

The lower levels are result of Lake Superior receiving less snow than usual this season combined with low rainfall last spring. Each of the lakes, however, will remain several inches above the all-time lows.

That might be hard for some who live along Lake St. Clair and the St. Clair River to believe right now. A massive ice jam near Algonac has helped drive down water levels to the south over the past two months. That should begin to change soon.

"Within the next few weeks, we should start to see the lakes begin their seasonal rise as a result of the melting snow and the increased rainfall we expect to see in spring," said Keith Kompoltowicz, a meteorologist with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Detroit. "By August, most of the lakes will be slightly short of where they were last year."

The seemingly constant snows that have hit Metro Detroit this winter will have little payoff come summer time. Typically, heavy precipitation bolsters the snowpack in the Lake Superior region that collects during winter and melts in the spring. But much of the snow that hit Michigan this year has fallen south of Lake Superior.

For the summer, that means: Lake Superior will be 13-15 inches below last year, and up to 13 inches below the historical average.

Lake Michigan/Huron will be 7-12 inches below last year and up to 22 inches below the historical average.
Lake St. Clair will be seven inches below 2010, and a foot below its historical average.
Lake Erie will be 6 inches below last year's average and the historical average.
Lake Ontario, while being a few inches above last year's level, will be 1-8 inches below the historical average.

The Detroit News


Ottawa concerned about Randle Reef cleanup

3/8 - Hamilton, Ont. – The federal government is warning that local commitment to clean up Randle Reef — one of the largest and most severely contaminated sites in the Great Lakes — appears to be waning.

At a news conference in Burlington Monday, Environment Minister Peter Kent also said the long-awaited cleanup project may cost more than anticipated, and that Ottawa may end up paying any cost overruns.

“I am concerned” about local funding,” Kent said outside the Canada Centre for Inland Waters. “Every community has to play its part. I understand also that there are serious challenges for those who manage the budget at all levels of government. I think this is something we need to work on together.”

Randle Reef is a shallow area near U.S. Steel’s Hamilton Works, heavily contaminated with toxic coal tar. The cleanup plan involves building a containment structure around the worst sediment, then adding less-contaminated mud from other areas of the harbor and capping it to create a shipping pier.

The work must be done to stop the contamination from spreading and to help get the harbor off the International Joint Commission's list of Great Lakes toxic hot spots.

“We’re addressing, at the moment, the challenge of possible cost overruns in terms of once the project is committed and once work begins underwater on the reef that there may be some unexpected additional costs,” Kent said. “It’s an area where the federal government may have to take some responsibility for some of those possible costs.”

Kent said the last estimate was done was some years ago now and that one never knows, particularly underwater, what the engineers and the contractors are going to come up against.

“It’s a possibility and we want to make sure before we start the project that it will be properly finished. So we’re talking with all parties.”

Hamilton Spectator


Lake Erie shipwreck needs rescuing

3/8 - Leamington, Ont. – An historic shipwreck that's been moved to a Leamington, Ont., farm is deteriorating quickly, and now the property owner is giving the town until the end of the year to remove it.

The N.J. Nessen was shipwrecked off the shores of Leamington on Lake Erie in 1929. Then, in the 1980s, parts of the Nessen were rediscovered during the construction of a marina. In 1984, Robert McCracken offered to store the six-metre section of the wooden steamer ships' bow on his Comber, Ont., farm, near Leamington. After 27 years, McCracken said he's ready to see the badly deteriorating artifact off his property.

The town wants to relocate the marine treasure back to the Leamington Municipal Marina grounds and build a protective display around it.

"It's in very fragile condition right now, because it has been outside in the environment all this time," said Amanda Smith, Recreation and Culture Manager for the town of Leamington. "We'll redesign a garden and put an enclosure over top of it, so that way, it can be on display, have some story boards, and really make it interactive."

The Nessen was hauling scrap metal when it took shelter from a northwesterly gale in Pigeon Bay in October 1929. The wind switched direction, blowing the anchored vessel towards shore. Rescuers were dispatched from Point Pelee, Ont., the last such life saving station still in operation on the Canadian side of the Great Lakes.

After several tries, rescuers brought all 13 crewmembers safely to shore. It marked the last rescue by the life saving station before it closed.

The town committee, called ErieQuest, applied unsuccessfully in 2010 for an Ontario Trillium Foundation grant to pay for the Nessen memorial project. It was turned down based on "other priorities" for Trillium funding. The project, headed up by the town, in conjunction with the Leamington & Mersea Historical Society, is seeking approval for $15,000 from Leamington town council, and another $60,000 will be raised through donations and fund raising events.

CBC News


Tugboat lookout on phone during Delaware collision, safety board says

3/8 - A tugboat lookout was on a cellphone call to his mother’s house when the barge it was ferrying collided with an anchored tour boat in the Delaware River last summer, according to a report released Monday by the National Transportation Safety Board.

Two tourists died and 26 other passengers were injured in the July 7 collision between the barge and the tour boat near Philadelphia. The safety board report is a factual finding in an ongoing investigation and does not offer a conclusion as to what caused the accident.

The accident occurred shortly after the tour boat, the DUKW 34, had dropped anchor to deal with a mechanical problem that caused smoked to pour out of the engine. Around 2:37 p.m., a barge propelled by the tugboat, the Caribbean Sea, collided with the tour boat, causing it to sink in 55 feet of water.

According to the report, the Caribbean Sea's master was off duty and below deck. The mate was on navigation watch. The report states that, according to telephone records, the mate made a call to his mother's house at 2:32 p.m. The call, according to the report, lasted until 2:38, one minute after the accident occurred. The report also states that that between noon and the accident, when the mate was on navigation watch, he made 13 phone calls and answered six.

In radio recordings released by the U.S. Coast Guard last year, an unidentified voice is heard yelling early in the incident, "Hey ferry, ferry, ferry! Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa!" DUKW 34 crew members told investigators that they made radio calls to the tug boat Caribbean Sea that were not answered prior to the collision, the National Transportation Safety Board has said.



Updates -  March 8

Weekly Website Updates
News Photo Gallery
Historical Perspectives Gallery updated - new pictures in the Kinsman Voyager and E B Barber galleries
Lay-up list updated
Discussion Boards 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


Great Lakes Trader begins season with Escanaba’s first load

3/7 - Escanaba, Mich. – Great Lakes Trader left Escanaba Sunday morning heading downbound with pellets. She's the first vessel to start the Lake Michigan ore shuttle for 2011. Joseph L. Block is expected to join her this week.


Seaway to breaking ice between locks March 15

3/7 - Watertown, N.Y. – The St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corp. will be breaking ice on the St. Lawrence River between Snell and Eisenhower locks March 15.

Ice fishermen, snowmobilers and other recreational vehicle users are cautioned to stay off the ice in areas above, below and between the locks and know that the ice will be unstable. Dates for ice-breaking in the upper St. Lawrence River have not yet been announced.

The St. Lawrence Seaway will reopen for its 52nd season March 22.

Watertown Daily Times


Ice-breaking operations underway for Grand River

3/7 - In light of heavy rainfall in Waterloo region, the Grand River Conservation Authority has planned for ice breaking operations in the mouth of the Grand River on the north shore of Lake Erie.

The Canadian Coast Guard ship Griffon will work to clear the channel on Monday, reducing the potential for ice jam flooding to occur. The risk of ice jams along the southern Grand River is high as melting snow and rain raise river levels.

The GRCA says it is imperative that recreational users stay away from this stretch of the river during and after ice breaking operations. As a precaution the GRCA has issued a Level 1 Flood Warning for the New Hamburg and affects residents in the Milton Street and Jacob Street areas. The warning is extended to the village of Ayr to residents along Tanner and Piper streets.

Flooding is anticipated throughout the low-lying areas of the Grand, Conestogo and Speed River.

570 News


West Michigan harbor dredging set for this year, but future federal funding uncertain

3/7 - Muskegon, Mich. – The Muskegon channel is at the front of the line for 2011 dredging thanks to a 1,000-foot freighter getting hung up on a sandbar in the harbor's mouth last October.

The King Co. of Holland will begin in early April removing up to 60,000 cubic yards of material from the Muskegon Harbor and moving it north to nourish the beach at Muskegon State Park, according to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials.

After completing Muskegon work in three or four weeks, the King Co. crews will move to Grand Haven and then on to Holland. The Muskegon dredging contract is for $396,000 and Grand Haven and Holland contracts are for approximately $180,000 each, Army Corps officials said.

The Muskegon project is being done at the beginning of the Great Lakes dredging season because in late October the freighter Indiana Harbor got stuck in the channel between Lake Michigan and Muskegon Lake, federal officials said. A sister-ship had to assist in off-loading coal headed to Consumers Energy's B.C. Cobb Plant to free the Indiana Harbor.

This is Muskegon's year to be dredged as its harbor receives maintenance dredging every three years, Army Corps of Engineers officials said.

Currently, there is expected to be money in the federal harbor maintenance fund in the coming years for Muskegon and Grand Haven's harbor but other communities such as Ludington and Holland might not be funded. Federal budget cuts will also make the dredging of recreational harbors such as White Lake and Pentwater nearly impossible, U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Zeeland, told a regional gathering of harbor officials Friday.

“We have some tough issues that we are dealing with,” Huizenga told the harbor gathering at Grand Valley State University's Lake Michigan Center in Muskegon. “We understand that communities' economic and cultural survival depend upon this. We have to have some thinking outside of the box.”

All West Michigan harbors on Lake Michigan — both commercial and recreational — were dredged in 2010 thanks to an additional boost of money from federal stimulus funding. And in 2011, Muskegon, Grand Haven and Holland will be dredged and most likely Ludington.

But in 2012 and after, federal funding becomes an issue, Huizenga said. Only Muskegon and Grand Haven have more than 1 million tons of cargo moving through the port a year — the cutoff point of where federal dollars will be spent on maintenance dredging.

Muskegon would likely be dredged again in 2014 and Grand Haven annually, said Wayne Schloop, Detroit District chief of operations for the Army Corps. But under expected federal policy, there would be no money available for smaller commercial ports like Ludington, Holland, Manistee and St. Joseph, nor recreational ports like White Lake, Pentwater and Saugatuck.

White Lake needs to be dredged only every five years but Pentwater needs annual maintenance, Army Corps officials said.

In the past, U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra, R-Holland, would put a special “earmark” in legislation to fund West Michigan dredging projects not in the normal Army Corps budget. Budget reforms brought in by the new Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives will probably end that system of funding, Huizenga said.

“We need to break out of that,” Huizenga said of earmarks. “We have to have communities start to look at these issues. This is a bipartisan issue that we must tackle.”

One way Michigan's congressional delegation is looking at getting full funding for Great Lakes harbor maintenance is to mandate that all of the money collected in harbor maintenance taxes on shipping cargo be used for harbor maintenance. Right now, half of the $1.4 billion generated nationally goes to other areas of the federal budget, Huizenga said.

“This is not going to be solved next month or even next fiscal year,” Huizenga said. “We have to figure out what we can do to bridge the issue as we work on the harbor maintenance fund guarantees.”

One of the suggestions is for communities to raise the money privately or through local government to fund their own dredging projects. Arcadia, Leland and New Buffalo have locally paid for dredging of harbors, federal officials said.

“We are in no shape to spend local funds on dredging a federal harbor,” Ludington City Manager John Shay told Huizenga.

A Saugatuck official told the congressman that the Kalamazoo River mouth into Lake Michigan is just a few feet deep and in desperate need of dredging. The Saugatuck harbor is not a commercial port but an extremely busy recreational boating destination.

Because the Kalamazoo River has environmental issues, the dredge work could run into the millions of dollars, a Saugatuck official told Huizenga.

The Muskegon Chronicle Muskegon Community College launches partnership with maritime industry Muskegon, Mich. — With Muskegon County's job market still hurting, educators are pointing students toward an often-overlooked field they hope will provide the economic jolt West Michigan needs: the maritime industry.

Not only do jobs ferrying goods and raw materials around the Great Lakes and the world fetch a good salary, positions such as engineering officers and mates are in demand, said Tom O'Brien, director of Muskegon Community College's Lakeshore Business and Industrial Service Center.

For students interested in pursuing the seafaring life, MCC is partnering with the Great Lakes Maritime Academy at Northwestern Michigan College. A new agreement between the two schools has established a set of classes MCC students would need to take before transferring to the academy, located in Traverse City.

O'Brien says jobs in the shipping industry were often overlooked when Michigan's economy was performing better. But as Michigan's economy worsened, the industry now has more widespread appeal.

MCC students “live in this area, they grew up in this area, so they've been around the water most of their life, so they just might want to stay around the water,” he said.

The program will begin next fall. Prospective students are invited to meet with Northwestern faculty on March 16 at MCC to learn about opportunities in the maritime industry.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, job demand in the maritime industry is expected to grow by 15 percent between 2008 and 2018. Demand for officers is projected to exceed supply.

MCC President Dale Nesbary is confident that some of that demand will come from employers in the Muskegon area.

Muskegon Lake is the largest deep-water port on Lake Michigan's eastern shore. As of now, the port is mainly used to ship raw materials. But business and community leaders have explored the possibility of beefing up the port in areas such as commercial shipping.

“We are expected to see additional business due to renewable energy and the related industries coming into the area,” Nesbary said.

Under the program, students would spend a year studying at MCC before transferring to the Great Lakes Maritime Academy in one of two programs — the Deck Officer Program or the Engineering Officer Program, O'Brien said.

As part of the maritime academy's program, students would also spend time at Ferris State University. Upon completing the program, students would have a bachelor's degree in business administration from Ferris and an associate's degree in maritime technology from the academy.

While people working in the maritime industry earn relatively high wages — the median wage of captains, mates and pilots was $61,960 in May 2008 — attracting and retaining young workers has been a struggle, said Bryan Powell, an assistant vice president of the Seafarers International Union, which has an office in Algonac, Mich.

“In the next several years, we'll probably have a lot of them looking at retirement,” Powell said. “So there is a need for younger folks to enter the industry and work up the chain and take some of those jobs.”

Also making the job a tough sell: long stretches of time away from home. It's common for maritime workers to spend weeks or months at a time away, a lifestyle that can be tough on family life, Powell said.

“When they get around their 30s, their priorities may change and they may say 'this isn't so conducive to having a wife and kids,'” Powell said.

But he points out that long stretches of time away from home mean workers also get several consecutive months off. And with the economy suffering, more people are willing to accept the industry's unusual schedule in exchange for a solid paycheck.

“The money is good, the benefits are good, the flexibility is also good,” he said, adding that demand is stronger for people aboard ocean-going vessels instead of the Great Lakes' shipping industry.

The Muskegon Chronicle


Annual festival offers rare glimpse of underwater shipwrecks

3/7 - Ann Arbor, Mich. – Eighteen different programs were offered Saturday at the 30th annual Great Lakes Shipwreck Festival, held at Washtenaw Community College in Scio Township. The event benefits the Ford Seahorses Scuba Diving Club, a member of the Ford Motor Company's Employees Recreation Association.

Eight of the programs took those attending on a video tour to explore shipwrecks fathoms deep beneath the Great Lakes. Roughly 300 people attended the event.

Lori Courvoisier of Ann Arbor said that the event was a lot of fun.

"When you get divers together they tell a bunch of stories and plan trips," she said. "You can learn a lot of neat stuff about the Great Lakes."

Among the programs offered were presentations on the Lady Elgin, a ship that sunk in 1860, leading to the deaths of 300 people; a 206-foot three-mast schooner called the John Shaw that sunk in 1894 with 1,759 tons of coal in 128 feet of water; and the Marion Egan, which sunk in 1875 when it collided with the schooner E.R. Williams. Divers discovered standing masts and an intact cabin when they dove to investigate the wreck.

Ric Mixter, a diver and owner of the documentary studio Airworthy Productions based in Saginaw, presented his documentary on the Edmund Fitzgerald, a Great Lakes freighter that sunk in a Lake Superior storm on Nov. 10, 1975. During his presentation he talked about the various groups who have visited the shipwreck, including the explorer Jacques Cousteau in 1980.

Mixter, whose documentaries have been seen on PBS, said he also dove to visit the Edmund Fitzgerald in 1994.

"The most interesting thing I found out was about the structural problems. The cook wintered in the ship, staying on the ship to make sure the pipes didn't freeze, and he found out the keel was loose," he said.

Tony Gramer, a diver and photographer whose prizewinning photos have appeared in photo contests around the world, presented his footage on the wreck of the John Shaw, which was bound for Chicago when it snapped its towline to the steamer John F. Eddy and sprang a leak.

Gramer showed photos and video of his visit to the wreck, during which he had 35 to 50 feet of visibility to see down into the five hatches on the ship.

Rudy Whitworth also presented 330 stunning photos of his dives in Layang Layang, Malaysia, and his visits to Lembeh in Indonesia.

"Lembeh is the muck diving capital of the world. There are unique creatures who live in that muck that don't live anywhere else in the world. Many are not even described scientifically yet," he said.

Other exhibits and displays at the festival included diving programs and charter tours, museums, and an exhibit by Dexter's Daryl Wright called "The Wright View," which displayed an underwater propulsion vehicle and underwater cameras completely designed and made by Wright, who said that he uses the equipment rather than sell it to help perform underwater research for historical societies, museums and divers.

"Everybody wants me to search," said Weight, whose equipment also provides a beacon sonar system and parallel lasers used to determine how far away a certain area is from the cameras.

He also has six cameras that hang from his boat to a depth of 300 feet that offer a panoramic view of the lake floor as the boat is traveling.

Wright once found a wedding ring with his underwater cameras that had been lost while a man was swimming.

"I've been diving since the '60s and in the '70s. I told myself that if I had a way to get around, I could see more, and I began building propulsion vehicles," he said.

He said Gramer used his equipment to initially find the John Shaw. Later, Gramer returned to dive and take the footage shown at the festival.

Dexter Patch


Updates -  March 7

Weekly Website Updates
Public Gallery updated
Discussion Boards updated


Today in Great Lakes History -  March 7

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.


Updates -  March 6

Historical Perspectives Gallery updated - new pictures in the Kinsman Voyager feature


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.


Vessel Traffic Service St. Marys River to turn 115 years old

3/5 - Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. – U.S. Coast Guard Vessel Traffic Service St. Marys River, nicknamed "Soo Traffic," in Sault Ste. Marie will turn 115 years old March 6.

Soo Traffic exists to prevent groundings, rammings and collisions in the St. Marys River and mitigate their environmental impact by sharing information and implementing appropriate traffic management measures.

During fiscal year 2010, Soo Traffic assisted a total of 61,532 vessels including ferries, tour boats, tankers and freighters as they transited through the St. Marys River. Many of these commercial vessels pass through the Soo Locks to complete their shipping routes and arrive at several ports of call within Lake Superior.

On March 6, 1896, Title 33, U.S. Code, 474 was signed in to law and directed the commandant of the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service to prescribe appropriate rules and regulations regarding the movement and anchorage of vessels and rafts in the St. Marys River from Point Iroquois on Lake Superior to Point Detour on Lake Huron. This marked the beginning of the St. Marys River Vessel Traffic Management System (VTMS).

Originally named the River Patrol Service, the first VTMS was comprised of the Revenue Cutter Morrell and lookout stations at Johnson's Point, Middle Neebish Dyke and Little Rapids Cut. The stations were connected by telegraph lines linked back to the Pittsburgh Steamship Company offices in Sault Ste. Marie. Throughout the next several years, many lookout stations were established and then closed as needs and funding levels fluctuated. At one point there were as many as 11 active stations along the river. During the early days, lookouts communicated with passing ships by kerosene lanterns and signal flags. Often messages were delivered to passing ships by lookouts rowing out to them in small dinghies.

In 1909, the West Neebish Channel was completed and Lookout station number four was established. This deep draft channel enabled larger vessels to sail down river with more cargo than the Middle Neebish Channel allowed. It also improved the safety of vessels traveling in both directions since traffic was routed one way in the extremely hazardous areas around Neebish Island. Loaded vessels with deeper drafts transited down river on the west side of the island and lighter vessels in ballast traveled up river on the east side.

On Jan. 30, 1915, the Revenue Cutter Service merged with the U.S. Lifesaving Service to form the U.S. Coast Guard.


Excursion ship catches fire in Montreal harbor

3/5 - Montreal, Que. - Officials have confirmed that a fire broke out late Friday morning aboard a ship docked at the Alexandra Pier in Montreal harbor. According to a spokesperson for the Montreal fire department, the blaze began in a compartment where workers were repairing of the commercial vessel, identified as the Louis Jolliet.

About 20 firefighters were dispatched to the scene, and boarded the boat shortly after 11:20 a.m. The fire was under control by 11:45 a.m. None of the workers were injured. Jolliet is a former carferry that operates as a tour boat in Quebec City.

The Montreal Gazette


Thunder Bay wants to be gateway to West

3/5 - Thunder Bay, Ont. – As the province's energy sector begins to heat up again, an eastern port is watching the market closely.

Last year, all of the inbound freight at the Port of Thunder Bay was destined for Alberta, whether it was wind turbines for the Taber area, bringing in pieces for Suncor or Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. projects, or moving through the components of Calgary's Santiago Calatrava-designed Peace Bridge.

"So far (this year) inbound cargo has been mostly Alberta," said Tim Heney, CEO of the Thunder Bay Port Authority. As well, an Edmonton company shipped an entire methanol plant, broken into pieces, to China through the port.

He and Bruce Hodgson, director of market development for the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp., were in town this week to talk to potential clients about using "the marine gateway to the west."

Hodgson said they're being told oilsands projects will be gearing back up in the latter part of this year, "based on what's happening with oil prices."

When companies need to move huge pieces of equipment or plants components from overseas to landlocked Alberta, there are really two options -the West Coast or from the east, moving through the St. Lawrence Seaway, the Great Lakes and landing in Thunder Bay. The Rocky Mountains present a barrier for extremely large, heavy cargo, Heney said, because of the grades and clearances.

When Imperial Oil was looking at how to move modules for its massive $8-billion Kearl oilsands project -modules made in Korea, with some weighing in at 260 tonnes, 64 metres long and nine metres high -it looked at a number of possible routes.

"We did assess and consider routes other than Washington," spokesman Pius Rolheiser said of the U.S. port where the pieces are coming to shore. "Including the Seaway. Length of the ocean voyage was one consideration."

Imperial Oil is bringing in the more than 200 pieces to the port at Vancouver, Washington, barging them into Idaho and then moving them via truck to Fort McMurray. Last month it decided to break the mega truck loads into smaller shipments so they can travel on major highways.

Heney said the longer a shipment can travel on water, compared to land, the less of an environmental footprint it leaves. He and Hodgson said most of the Thunder Bay Port's destinations right now, either coming or going, are in Europe, North Africa and Latin America.

"A lot of cargo for the oilsands comes through Houston," Heney said, pointing to its weekly liner service. "We see an opportunity to get some of that traffic.

"We'd eventually like to see (scheduled service) in Thunder Bay as well."

But to schedule regular ships, there needs to be enough cargo being both exported and imported to justify the trips, Hodgson said.

While wheat shipments account for the majority of outbound traffic -the Canadian Wheat Board purchased two ships of its own this year -they're working to increase inbound traffic, and not just large projects that require an entire ship but smaller pieces that are part of a larger load.

The Calgary Herald Region throws a lifeline to Port Robinson ferry St. Catharines, Ont. – Niagara Region will help keep the Port Robinson ferry afloat — at least for now.

Council voted 17-9 to pay up to $20,000 of the 2011 operating costs for the pontoon boat that shuttles local residents and cyclists across the Welland Canal during the shipping season. Councillors also agreed to provide up to $20,000 for a "due diligence" study of future management options for the aging ferry.

The request for financial help came from the City of Thorold, which is negotiating with the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp. over costs associated with the ferry and its facilities.

Thorold Regional Coun. Henry D'Angela assured councillors they "aren't getting into the ferry business." He said the money is meant to help keep the ferry afloat this summer while Thorold and the Seaway figure out who is responsible for covering the rising costs of the service. The Seaway agreed in 1991 to pay $70,000 in operating costs annually for 25 years. However, costs have ballooned to $120,000 and serious infrastructure repairs are looming.

"If there are no funds (found), this boat is going to be sunk pretty quickly," D'Angela said.

Several councillors spoke against the cash infusion, with nine ultimately voting against the motion. Niagara Falls Regional Coun. Bart Maves said $120,000 is a very high operating cost for a ferry that serves around 12,000 people a year. He suggested charging a user fee, rather than using regional dollars as a subsidy.

"This is how government grows," he said.

St. Catharines Regional Coun. Brian Heit also called the Region's contribution a "slippery slope" toward a new, permanent budget item. St. Catharines Regional Coun. Bruce Timms noted the Region would be pulling its cash contribution from a reserve fund for the Greater Niagara Circle Route.

He argued that's appropriate, because so many cyclists, both tourists and regional residents, make use of the ferry crossing while travelling the regional bike path. Thorold statistics show about 60 percent of ferry users are cyclists.

Timms added he thought the Seaway should ultimately take on more of the costs associated with the ferry, which was started in the 1970s when a laker destroyed the old Port Robinson bridge.

"It's far cheaper for them to run a ferry than it is to build another bridge," he said.

St. Catharines Standard


St. Joseph River harbor suffers anemic year

3/5 - St. Joseph, Mich. - The volume of materials received at the St. Joseph River harbor dropped 34 percent in 2010, a decline attributed to the depressed construction industry. It was the third disappointing year in a row for commercial activity on the harbor, which receives stone, cement, salt and other bulk materials carried by ship.

Harbormaster Larry LaValley, who on Thursday gave his annual report to the St. Joseph River Harbor Authority, said he was wrong last year when he predicted improvement.

"I'm going to say 2011 will be better than 2010," LaValley said. "I don't see how it could be worse."

Except for salt used for ice control on roads, the materials handled by the three commercial docks on the harbor are purchased for building and road construction. According to the report, tonnage dropped from 428,931 tons delivered in 41 vessels in 2009 to 284,390 tons carried by 34 vessels last year.

The 2009 total showed a slight recovery over the disastrous 2008 shipping season, when heavy silting made the inner harbor inaccessible until emergency dredging opened the river in late summer. The record for receipts was 1.11 million tons in 2001, and the annual total for the harbor was in the range of 500,000-770,000 tons from 2002 through 2007.

During 2010, LaFarge Corp.'s bulk cement terminal in St. Joseph was the only commercial dock to report an increase, from 86,394 tons in 2009 to last year's 113,945 tons. The number of vessels carrying materials to the dock increased from 13 to 20.

Receipts of limestone, stone, sand and road salt at Dock 63 on Marina Island declined during the same period from 134,957 tons, delivered in 10 ships, to 79,278 tons carried by six ships.

Central Dock in Benton Harbor, which handles slag, limestone and salt, received 91,117 tons of materials in 2010, down from 207,580 during the previous year. The number of vessels carrying loads to the dock fell from 18 in 2009 to eight in 2010.

LaValley attributed last year's 34 percent drop in tonnage to lack of an increase in construction activity in the poor economy. Also, receipts of sand, which accounted for 40 percent of total harbor volume in some years, fell to zero.

John Kinney, president of Central Dock, said the company had received a lot of sand that was purchased by die casters.

Dan Fette, director of the Berrien County Community Development Department, said the construction picture has been poor but is showing signs of stabilizing.

In 2010, residential construction permits in the county totaled about $32 million and commercial permits were $84 million, with 13 communities not yet reporting. The residential figure compares with about $180 million in 2005, he said. While that's a huge drop, Fette said, it appears that activity has stabilized.

The commercial building permit total is a bright note, Fette said. Last year's figure is about double the total for each of the three previous years.

Much of the commercial building total is attributed to the ongoing construction of the Whirlpool Corp. office complex in Benton Harbor.

The harbor authority voted to send a letter in support of a bill introduced in the U.S. House that would require all the money paid into the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund to be used as intended for dredging and other work.

The Realize America's Maritime Promise Act is co-sponsored by U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, and a number of other representatives. A similar measure was introduced in the Senate last year but was not approved.

The trust fund is supported by a tax collected by the government on freight shipped into commercial harbors. The fund now stands at $5.65 billion, and harbors and shipping companies contend that the money ought to be available for its intended purpose - to address widespread dredging needs.

For many years only part of the amount collected has been used for harbor maintenance, officials said. President Obama's proposed budget would use $700 million from the fund for harbors, although the trust fund took in about $1.3 billion in 2010 alone.’

Herald Palladium


Updates -  March 5

News Photo Gallery


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


Opening day event at Soo Locks off this year due to construction

3/4 - The annual Soo Locks Opening Day Celebration, marking the passage of the first vessel for the new shipping season, will not be held this year. Continuing construction of a new observation platform would make the celebration difficult, according to a statement from the Soo Locks Visitors Center Association. The annual event will resume in 2012. The locks are scheduled to open March 25.

Soo Locks Visitors Center Association


Huron Lady II tour boat changes owner

3/4 - Port Huron, Mich. – The Huron Lady II will have a new hand at the helm this summer. Jenny Olsen and a group of partners have taken control from Capt. John and Camille Rigney of Huron Lady II Inc.

The sale has been in the works for a couple of months and was finalized in February, Olsen said.

While this business venture will be new to Olsen, her partners also operate a cruise business in Bayfield, Wis.; Munising, Frankfort and Alpena. The Rigneys have been helping her learn the ropes.

"I've been meeting with them quite a bit to learn their way of doing things and how they've been running it," Olsen said. "They're going to be involved and on board in the first season for transitioning."

Olsen has been working as a co-host and producer of the weekly show "Michigan Out-of-Doors" on public television since 1999. She said she plans to continue her work with the show, which airs Thursdays, while running the day-to-day operations of the Huron Lady II.

"It seems like something that would be fun to do and help promote the Great Lakes and beautiful outdoor activities we have here in Michigan," she said. "It was a natural fit for me to be outside and help promote Michigan."

This year's first cruise will be May 21.

Olsen said she and her partners plan to operate the boat in the same manner as the Rigneys had, but some changes could be on the horizon. An admission increase of a dollar is likely to keep up with increasing fuel costs, Olsen said. The Rigneys had planned one before the sale, she said.

Other changes include adding more tour times and setting up an information booth or kiosk for ticket sales and information, Olsen said. A site for a booth has not been chosen, she said.

One of the biggest changes could be moving the boat to a new dock. While plans are tentative, Olsen said, there might be "a more accessible dock space location."

John Rigney, who has been running the operation for 16 years with his wife, said it was "time to pass it along." He said they don't have plans for anything else yet. "This summer will pretty much be like every other summer because we'll be helping out," Rigney said.

Port Huron Times Herald


Lake Superior falls more than usual in February

3/4 - Duluth, Minn. - Lower-than-normal snowfall across the Lake Superior watershed in recent weeks led to the big lake dropping 3 inches in February, a month the lake usually drops about 2 inches.

The International Lake Superior Board of Control reported Wednesday that the lake level is 14 inches below the long-term March 1 average and is 8 inches below the level at this time last year. While much of the Midwest and eastern U.S. has seen a cold, snowy winter, much of the Northland has seen below-normal snowfall since December.

The level of Lakes Michigan and Huron dropped a full inch in February, more than the usual half-inch, and now stand 20 inches below their long-term average for March 1, and 13 inches lower than this time last year.

Duluth News Tribune


Icebreaker Biscayne Bay prepares for a busy spring

3/4 - St. Ignace, Mich. – We've endured a long, cold winter in Michigan, but it's been even colder on the Straits of Mackinac. Just ask the crew of U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker Biscayne Bay, based in St. Ignace.

Talk about a heavy workload. The Biscayne Bay is capable of smashing through ice that's up to 3-feet thick. The 140-foot tug ship has a bubbler system that forces air and water between the hull and the ice, making it easier to push her way through.

But even after the ice melts in the spring, there's other work to do. "The primary mission is domestic ice breaking. We also do enforcement of laws and treaties and waterway security. Also, protection of maritime environment," Biscayne Bay Captain Lt. Matthew Walter said.

When ice starts to form on the upper Great Lakes late in the year, the Biscayne Bay cuts paths for commercial shipping, allowing them to stay on the water into January.

"That's when everybody's trying to make their last-minute taconite, coal and salt runs; get those deliveries done before it closes down. And by 'it' I mean the Soo Locks," Walter said.

When the locks freeze up, Walter says the 17 crew members get a breather. "We get out as often as the commercial carriers need us to facilitate their movement. That generally translates to three to four days a week."

The Biscayne Bay doesn't break a lot of ice this time of the year. But when the Soo locks open in the middle of March, Walter says they get very busy. "We'll be out there three of four weeks straight, making sure everything's ready for them to start moving again."

By then, freighters are often anchored in the southern Great Lakes, waiting for word from the Biscayne Bay and other Coast Guard icebreakers. "We've got saltwater ships that come out from the St. Lawrence Seaway that want to get into Thunder Bay, Canada and the Duluth area to pick up grain. There are lots of grain shipments that come out," said Walter.

In the next few weeks, the Biscayne Bay will head up the St. Mary's River, south of Sault Ste. Marie. The mission will be to break up the ice and send it downstream.

"We'll try to flush the ice out, which is obviously the key. If we can't flush it out, then we'll just run through it like we've done here today and get it loose," said Walter.



2011 Know Your Ships goes to press

3/4 - Here's a sure sign of spring – the 2011 Know Your Ships annual boatwatching guide went on the press Thursday. This year's cover shows the Detroit River mailboat J.W. Westcott II after completing a run to the American Mariner. Next, the pages will be folded, the books will be bound, packaged and shipped to Ann Arbor and Sault Ste. Marie. They will go on sale March 21, just in time for the Soo Locks season opener.

Watch a short video of the 2011 cover coming off the press


Asian carp bills reintroduced with Illinois support

3/4 - Washington, D.C. — The congressional fight over how to keep the invasive Asian Carp out of the Great Lakes moved into a new chapter today with support from a key Illinois lawmaker.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow said she will introduce in the Senate the Stop Asian Carp Act, which would require the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to expedite the design of a way to fully separate the Mississippi River and Great Lakes watersheds to keep the carp out of Lake Michigan without interrupting Chicago's commercial shipping industry.

Rep. Dave Camp will introduce a similar bill in the House.

What's different between the legislation announced today and earlier congressional efforts is who's on board with the new plan: Sen. Dick Durbin and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources both say they're in support of the plan, and it's expected the rest of the Illinois delegation will follow Durbin's lead.

The legislation "reflects a level of concern that more closely matches that of our member states and our Canadian partners," Tim Eder, executive director of the Great Lakes Commission said in a statement. "The stakes are just too high and require urgent action."

Added Marc Gaden, legislative liaison for the Great Lakes Fishery Commission: "This legislation, if enacted, would significantly expedite efforts to cut Asian Carp off at their key potential point of entry."

Earlier efforts from Michigan lawmakers to close off the Chicago-area waterways that link the Mississippi River and Lake Michigan encountered stiff opposition on Capitol Hill as Illinois' delegation muscled away any widespread support from earlier legislation that sought to temporarily close locks connecting the two watersheds.

But with Durbin and other Illinois lawmakers on board, the new legislation is much more likely to go forward.

"This shows a unified front, which is absolutely essential," Stabenow said in a conference call with reporters. "Bringing (Sen. Durbin) in and having him be a part of this is absolutely essential. … We have all of the governors in the region on board with this."

Stabenow said she and Camp still want to see the locks in Chicago closed as a stopgap measure until a permanent solution is in place, though Illinois lawmakers resist that plan, making it unlikely to materialize.

Detroit News


Atlantic Towing greens up

3/4 - Saint John, N.B. – Irving-owned Atlantic Towing Ltd. is the first Atlantic Canadian company to join a national program aimed at making the shipping industry more environmentally friendly.

The Green Marine program began three years ago in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway region and began expanding nationally a few months ago. There are about 50 members, including shipowners, port authorities and terminal operators.

"We have joined Green Marine to share environmental innovations and best practices," Sean Leet, general manager of Atlantic Towing, said in a release Wednesday.

"Through our ISCO 14001 environmental management system, we already have a number of initiatives underway to reduce the environmental impact of our activities. In addition, our EverGreen Tug Technology (hybrid tugs) is in the final stages of development."

Part of J.D. Irving Ltd., Atlantic Towing operates a fleet of harbor and coastal tugs, barges and offshore support vessels. The Saint John, N.B.-based company also has offices in Dartmouth and St. John’s, N.L.

David Bolduc, executive director of Green Marine, said the internationally recognized program helps companies exceed environmental regulations.

"Nowadays, it’s not enough to be good," he said from Quebec City. "You have to be proactive."

Green Marine has five levels, starting with regulatory compliance and improving fuel efficiency. The top levels involve measuring and reducing greenhouse gases and other emissions. "The higher they get in our rankings, the more expensive it will be." Bolduc said.

The voluntary program involves an annual self-evaluation, and participants have an independent audit every two years.

The Chronicle Herald


2011 Seaway Handbook amendments

3/4 - Notice of proposed revisions to Seaway practices and procedures to be effective March 20, 2011 are available on the Seaway’s website:


Updates -  March 4

Historical Perspectives Gallery updated - new pictures in the Lemoyne and Kinsman Voyager features


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.


Coast Guard to break ice in Toledo

3/3 - Detroit, Mich. - The U.S. Coast Guard is advising Toledo, Ohio, area residents who use the ice for recreation that a Coast Guard cutter is scheduled to break ice mid-morning Thursday en route to Toledo Harbor. The Coast Guard Cutter Neah Bay will be operating within Toledo Harbor through Friday. Any ice in this area should be considered unsafe and the Coast Guard advises everyone to stay clear.


Port Reports -  March 3

Cleveland, Ohio – Bill Johnson
The Dorothy Ann and barge Pathfinder have begun the ore shuttle on the Cuyahoga River. They departed the lakefront dock about 8 a.m. Wednesday and headed up the Cuyahoga River.


Detroit Historical Society presents second chance for tour of Detroit Boat Club

3/3 - Detroit, Mich. – Due to the overwhelming response to the Detroit Historical Society’s February Behind-the-Scenes tour of the Detroit Boat Club, a second tour has been scheduled on Saturday, March 19 at 10 a.m. The tour, sponsored by DTE Energy, will offer guests a fresh perspective on this Belle Isle landmark.

Sixty-three years after the founding fathers signed the Declaration of Independence, 22 years before the Civil War, two years after Michigan became a state, and while Abraham Lincoln was still a 30-year-old lawyer in Illinois, the Detroit Boat Club was founded. Organized by oarsmen on February 18, 1839, it is the oldest boating club in the United States and the oldest social club in Michigan.

Tickets are $20 for Detroit Historical Society members and $30 for guests. Advance reservations are required and guests are asked to register early, as spots are quickly being filled. Telephone reservations can be accepted with a Visa, MasterCard or American Express Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets are not sold the day of the tour. Those who register receive directions to the tour location, a map, and additional information in the mail prior to the tour. For more information or to reserve your spot for one of these Detroit Historical Society Behind the Scenes tours, visit


Updates -  March 3

Historical Perspectives Gallery updated - new pictures in the Henry Ford II feature


Today in Great Lakes History -  March 3

The keel was laid on March 3, 1980, for the COLUMBIA STAR (Hull#726) at Sturgeon Bay, Wis., by Bay Shipbuilding Corp. She now sails at AMERICAN CENTURY.

At midnight on 3 March 1880, DAVID SCOVILLE (wooden propeller steam tug/ferry, 42 foot, 37 gross tons, built in 1875, at Marine City, Mich.) 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.


Great Lakes Towing completes moves at Toledo Shipyard

3/2 - On Sunday the Great Lakes Towing Company moved the CSL Niagara into drydock at Ironhead Marine in Toledo. Three tugs, Mississippi, Nebraska, and Pennsylvania, were ordered to move the CSL Niagara from the Kraft Dock into the drydock. When that move was complete the tugs moved the CSL Tadoussac from the Toledo Shipyard to the Kraft Dock.

Great Lakes Towing Company


Great Lakes Shipyard builds pontoons for boathouse

3/2 - Cleveland, Ohio – Great Lakes Shipyard illustrated the diversity of its capabilities when the company built and delivered six pontoons for construction of a boathouse. The 20-foot-long by 4-foot-wide pontoons will be used as the backbone to construct a boathouse and deck for a New York lakefront property. The arrival of these pontoons has created a buzz in the community to pursue additional orders for the shipyard.

Great Lakes Shipyard


Welland Canal worker injured in accident

3/2 - St. Catharines, Ont. – A male was injured Monday shortly before noon in a construction accident along the Welland Canal in north St. Catharines, Ont.

The man had to be rescued by St. Catharines firefighters after reportedly falling nearly 10 metres along the west side of the canal between Locks 1 and 2, near the foot of Scott Street.

The victim sustained a broken arm and other minor injuries, said Tom Rankin, owner of Rankin Construction, which is overseeing the canal repair project. Rankin said the injured man works for subcontractor Black Creek Metal, of Stevensville.

"I'm glad it wasn't a lot worse," Rankin said.

The Ministry of Labour is investigating the incident. A ministry spokesman said the injured worker had been atop a metal beam helping to pour concrete when he unclipped his safety harness and fell. A ministry investigator was en route to the scene Monday afternoon.

Rankin Construction is repairing a 100-metre section of an approach wall between Lock 1 and 2 that partially collapsed last year following heavy rains.

A section of the Welland Canals Parkway between Bunting Road and Carlton Street, as well as a parallel piece of recreational trail, has been closed for the past two months during the repair job.

St. Catharines Standard


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.


Port Burwell-bound sub to arrive by barge this summer

3/1 - Port Burwell, Ont. – The Canadian submarine HMCS Ojibwa will likely make its grand entrance into Port Burwell harbor this summer. A barge will deliver the decommissioned Oberon-class diesel-electric sub to its new home at the end of a 3,700-kilometre trip from its berth in Halifax.

"There's a million details to sort out," Elgin Military Museum curator Ian Raven said Thursday.

But dredging likely needed to accommodate the barge can't occur until July 1, so the sub's arrival will be a summertime event, with Raven predicting it will be a boon to sub watchers.

The federal government extended its March 31 deadline to Oct. 31 for expenditure of the $1.92-million grant under the community adjustment fund program that made this possible. Raven said that extension acknowledged the St. Lawrence Seaway was closed Dec. 29 and won't reopen until March 26.

Rather than tow the 100-metre-long sub, it will be loaded on a barge in Halifax and transferred to a smaller one in Hamilton for the balance of its journey to the shallow waters at Port Burwell.

"We'll have to see what the water level is like" after spring thaw, Raven said. If dredging is needed to provide the three metres needed by the transport barge, the museum is looking to the Municipality of Bayham to undertake that operation.

Fundraising has begun for the project, which could cost $6 million, Raven said. But that will really kick in when the final deal is inked with the feds and excitement about its arrival builds.

Ojibwa's sister sub, Onondagla, is now a tourist attraction in Rimouski, Que., where it drew nearly 100,000 visitors its first year. Port Burwell pursued the sub vigorously when Port Stanley expressed lukewarm support.

The London Free Press


Updates -  March 1

Weekly Website Updates
Historical Perspectives Gallery updated - new pictures in the Kinsman Voyager feature


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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