Great Lakes & Seaway Shipping News Archive

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* Report News

Port Reports -  March 31

Marquette, Mich. - Lee Rowe
Herbert C. Jackson arrived in Marquette on Friday.

Milwaukee, Wis. - Jason Heindel
Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw was riding at anchor inside the harbor breakwater Friday morning.


Cresswell opens Goderich shipping season

3/31 - Goderich, Ont. – Capt. Peter Schultz guided the Peter R. Cresswell into port Friday morning to officially open the shipping season. Deputy-mayor John Grace presented the ceremonial top hat to Capt. Schultz.

While the shipping season was never really suspended for the winter months, the first captain into port for the 2012 season was formally recognized at town hall Friday.

Captain Peter Schultz guided the Peter R. Cresswell into port at 9:15 Friday morning after delivering a load of cement to Detroit. It’s the first time Capt. Schultz has opened the shipping season in Goderich and taken part in the ceremonial top hat presentation, a tradition that has endured for 81 years.

“I’ve been running into Goderich for 12 years but this is the first time that we entered port to open the shipping season,” he said. “One year I ran the Agawa Canyon into Goderich port 42 times. Last year I made about 12 trips into port.”

Last year, Capt. Schultz had the distinction of opening the season through the Welland Canal.

The Peter R. Creswell loaded with 25,000 tons of salt destined for Prescott. Capt. Schultz noted that last year the water level was +13 inches in Goderich and Friday the level was down one foot to +1 inch.

Goderich Signal Star


Warm winter leads to lower lake levels

3/31 - Goderich, Ont. – A “very unusual” warm winter on Lake Huron could lead to extremely low water levels, increased erosion and algae blooms if spring 2012 doesn’t get wet and stay wet over the next few months.

Lake Huron Centre for Coastal Conservation’s Geoff Peach said the lack of freeze over of Lake Huron this past winter leads to significant evaporation of lake water, as deep, dark water absorbs solar rays and keeps the water warmer, rather than ice cover reflecting the sun and limiting water loss.

“The Great Lakes have been experiencing a warning trend in surface water that’s warmer now than in the last several decades,” said Peach. “That may also play a role in the lack of ice cover.”

Water levels were down 15-18cm in 2011 and the open lakes this past winter may only serve to lessen the “rebounding” the region usually experiences from snow cover, and the heavy rains from late summer and fall last year.

“The water hasn’t really had very good cover for a number of years now,” he said. “It’s abnormal for it to be so wide open, so we’re now seeing the absorption capacity of the lake.”

With the little winter snow thawing early, even in wooded areas, winter runoff can’t be expected as a source to help replenish the lakes either, Peach said. The little snow the region did record may have levelled out the decrease in water levels, but the are expected to “continue their downward trend” unless copious amounts of rain drenches the area for weeks over the next few months.

“A very wet spring could stop this trend,” he said.

The implications of lower water levels are mostly negative as well.

Peach said shipping in the Great Lakes could be seriously impacted, with ships having to reduce cargo so it has a higher draft in shallow waters. This also means boaters have a greater risk of hitting shoals and rocks not visible in higher water levels. Beaches will be wider and more shallow near-shore, but this could also lead to warmer water and increased algae blooms caused by agricultural run-off.

“We could see an increase in algae, as those are conditions algae likes to grow in,” he said.

A serious concern in Kincardine, Saugeen Shores and Goderich, is the exposure of historic timber crib docks and piers, like Kincardine’s piers, which rely on water to saturate the timber struts and prevent them from rotting or weakening if they dry out. Ice and low water levels have chipped away at Kincardine’s south pier, where the old wooden pier struts were visible last week during Wednesday’s calm conditions.

“Climate change predictions are calling for lower levels more frequently and this could have a bigger impact on municipal infrastructure,” said Peach.

River systems will also be impacted by the lower levels, as the lack of melt water has decreased the flow of the “flushing mechanisms” that clean the watershed, holding more organic material in the riverbeds that can cause algae and negatively impact the ecosystem. Without the heavy flow of the rivers during the spring thaw, the rivers may also see more deadwood than in typical years, he said.

“This is how rivers and streams clean themselves,” said Peach.

As poor as the outlook currently is, Peach said water levels could still bounce back and stabilize, but it’s dependent on a wet spring. “It all depends on what happens in the next few months,” he said.

Goderich Signal Star


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 name 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.

1974 The 9 year old Liberian freighter CAPE PALMAS first came through the Seaway in 1969 after it had been purchased from Swedish interests. The vessel was at Bilbao, Spain, undergoing repairs, on March 31, 1974, when a blaze broke out aft and caused extensive damage. This was repaired and the ship resumed trading. It was converted to the cement carrier c) ASANO in 1978 and served until arriving at Shanghai, China, for scrapping on September 10, 1993.

1999 VARADERO was the first new ship of the 1991 season to use the Seaway. It was bound for Toronto with a cargo of sugar. This bulk carrier was sailing as e) MANPOK, and under North Korean registry, when it sank on this date in 1999 following a collision with HYUNDAI DUKE some 500 miles off Colombo, Sri Lanka, while inbound from Jakarta, Indonesia, with a cargo of cement. Two crew members were rescued while another 37 were posted as missing.

2011 BBC STEINHOEFT got stuck in the Seaway on this date in 2011. The Liberian registered freighter had just been renamed at Toronto having entered the lakes as BELUGA FUSION. It lost power near the St. Lambert Lock and ended up sideways and blocking the channel until refloated and realigned.

Data from: Skip Gillham, 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

Marquette, Mich. - Rod Burdick
H. Lee White loaded ore at the Upper Harbor Thursday evening on her first trip of the season.

Sturgeon Bay, Wis. - Wendell Wilke
Wilfred Sykes departed lay-up at Bay Shipbuilding Thursday afternoon and headed for Escanaba.

Green Bay, Wis. - Wendell Wilke
The tug Michigan and barge Great Lakes were at the U.S. Venture dock in Green Bay Thursday. They were the second vessels into the Port of Green Bay for the season.

Sarnia, Ont.
Saginaw, her boom repairs complete, left winter lay-up Thursday evening and headed downriver to fuel.

Erie, Pa. - Donjon Marine
The newly built tug Ken Boothe Sr. and barge Lakes Contender left Donjon Shipbuilding and Repair Thursday morning to conduct sea trials.

Oswego N.Y. - Ned Goebricher
Stephen B. Roman unloaded cement.

Quebec – Kent Malo
LLT’s new tug Beverly Anderson and barge Mary Turner were upbound in the St Lawrence Seaway above Montreal Thursday morning.

Halifax, N.S. - Mac Mackay
Salarium was in the Novadock floating drydock at Halifax Shipyard and has been freshly painted. The ship entered the drydock on March 5.


Seaway investigating minor oil leak

3/30 - A cargo vessel was tied up near Massena Thursday morning while officials investigate a minor oil leak. The St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation reported that the Captain Henry Jackman, carrying a cargo of salt, was secured to the upper wall at Snell Lock awaiting inspection.

Seaway officials say lock crews saw a light sheen of oil as the vessel headed downstream from Eisenhower Lock at around 3:30 p.m. Wednesday. The 730-foot vessel was directed to Snell Lock and boom was deployed around the vessel as a precaution.

Officials shut down navigation on the Seaway for about six hours while U.S. Coast Guard and Seaway inspectors assessed the spill. Three up-bound vessels and one down-bound vessel were delayed.

Personnel from the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. and Canadian Seaways, the owner, and the vessels Classification Society were investigating the source of the leak Thursday morning.

Fox 28


U.S. Brig Niagara set to return to Erie on Tuesday

3/30 - Erie, Pa. – The U.S. Brig Niagara is scheduled to return to Erie on Tuesday at 11 p.m. after a month-long dry-docking in Cleveland to repair rotted wooden framing.

Work on the ship at Great Lakes Towing Co. is proceeding on schedule, Niagara Capt. Wesley Heerssen said. The Niagara, which was built in 1988, sailed to the Cleveland shipyard on March 2.

Three 10- to 12-foot-long frames needed to be replaced after crews in January discovered during maintenance and repairs at the Erie Maritime Museum that rot had traveled down through the bow's Santa Maria Hardwood frames below the waterline.

"They're installing the last plank,'' Heerssen said Wednesday. "They are planking up to the edge of the deck. Once we had all the planks removed, work has been going on schedule.''

Flagship Niagara League officials estimate repairs will cost $63,000, but said the price could increase to as much as $100,000 if additional carpenters, materials and time are needed.

The Niagara, with Heerssen and about 20 crewmembers, is expected to depart Cleveland by noon Tuesday. It will take the Niagara 10 to 11 hours to sail to its berth behind the Erie Maritime Museum, Heerssen said.

"It's all weather dependent,'' Heerssen said. "If there is nasty weather, we'll sit there until the weather clears and we can bring Niagara back in calm waters.''

Erie Times-News


Study sinks St. Clair River ‘speed bumps’

3/30 - Sarnia, Ont. – Installing "speed bumps" in the St. Clair River to increase water levels in the upper Great Lakes could do more harm than good, a new report states.

The proposed multi-million-dollar structures could have "adverse effects" while attempting to raise lakes Michigan and Huron, according to the Lake Superior Regulation report released Wednesday by the International Upper Great Lakes Study, an independent arm of the International Joint Commission (IJC).

However, the study group did not recommend another solution to fix low water levels. Everything from hydrokinetic turbines to inflatable rubber weirs were investigated during the five-year study.

"The reality is that Mother Nature is going to go through some things at once and we have to adapt," said Ted Yuzyk, the Canadian co-director of the study.

Researchers found so-called speed bumps and other built structures would cost millions of dollars and come with no guarantee they would actually work. Water levels vary on the Canadian and U.S. sides of the Great Lakes, Yuzyk said. Structures placed in Canadian water wouldn't necessarily help subsiding U.S. water levels.

"One solution isn't necessarily good for one lake," he said. "This is where it becomes a challenge because everyone has their interests and we have to find something that overall will be good for all the groups." Terry Burrell, Canadian vice-chair of the St. Clair River Bi-National Public Advisory Council, agrees with that logic.

"When you look around the border of the whole Great Lakes, it's so diverse that you can't say one size fits all," he said. "Let nature look after itself. Any time you try to mess with nature it can have consequences that you're not thinking about."

Mayor Mike Bradley was also pleased with the hands-off approach. "I'm delighted," he said. "I've always believed, let nature be nature, as painful as it is sometimes."

Bradley believes some other aspects of the new Lake Superior Regulation Plan will benefit this area. The report places an emphasis on better monitoring and support of the St. Marys River. "They seem to realize how important that is to the rest of us," he added.

Researchers also developed new regional climate models, which show water levels aren't fluctuating as much as anticipated.

"We're not seeing it as drastic," Yuzyk said. A new water levels advisory board is also being recommended. Researchers believe the issue shouldn't only be examined periodically.

"We're saying that's not a good formula," Yuzyk said. "It's better to invest little but continue to be really involved."

More than 200 scientists and engineers with public input crafted the $14.6 million bi-national study. The new Lake Superior Regulation Plan will be used by the operators of power dams and other control structures in the St. Marys River.

Sarnia Observer


Updates -  March 30

News Photo 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.

March 30, 1985 - The CITY OF MIDLAND's departure was delayed when her anchor snagged one that 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.

1917 GERMANIC was the last wooden passenger ship built in Collingwood. It was completed there in 1899 and burned there, at the dock, on this date in 1917. The ship was part of Canada Steamship Lines at the time of loss. The hull settled on the bottom but was raised, towed towards Wasaga Beach, and run aground. The remains were torn apart for firewood during the Depression.

1940 The first THORDOC, a) J.A. McKEE, stranded at Winging Point, 10 miles southwest of Louisbourg, NS due to heavy fog. The ship was abandoned on April 1 and declared a total loss. This member of the Paterson fleet had been travelling in ballast and had been involved in Great Lakes trading since 1908.

Data from: Skip Gillham, Joe Barr, Dave Swayze, Shawn B-K, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series.


Agencies investigate; Patrice McAllister engineer dies from burns

3/29 - Clayton, N.Y. – The U.S. Coast Guard and marine safety agencies from Canada began their investigations Wednesday into the fire aboard the Patrice McAllister on Lake Ontario Tuesday morning. The most severely injured crewmember, the boat’s chief engineer, died in a Toronto hospital Wednesday morning. His name and the names of the other five people who were aboard the vessel are not being released.

The 105-foot U.S.-flagged vessel was transiting on Lake Ontario from Toledo, Ohio, to a port in New York Tuesday morning when the fire broke out in the engine room. Another commercial towboat towed the Patrice McAllister to Clayton, N.Y., arriving early Wednesday morning.

As the federal agency responsible for marine safety aboard commercial vessels, the Coast Guard has assumed the lead for the investigation into the circumstances surrounding the fire, and the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board has joined the investigation. The Coast Guard will attempt to identify the cause of the fire and determine if any fire-prevention or protection requirements need to be amended or added to existing regulations for towing vessels.

Since the fire occurred while the vessel was in Canadian waters, personnel from the Transportation Safety Board of Canada and Transport Canada-Marine Safety are also planning to conduct an investigation. The incident has been classified as a major marine casualty.

Leon Rusho was one of the members of the Clayton towing company called to come get the ship and bring it back to Clayton.

"We weren't expecting that much damage," Rusho said. "They said it had been an engine room fire and that they discharged the CO2. That usually kills the fire, but we don't know what happened. It definitely got out of hand and that's probably why they abandoned ship."

Abaco got the call at 4 a.m. Tuesday arriving at the scene around noon. It was nearly 24 hours before they were able to get the boat back to Clayton.

"You can only go ten miles an hour and when we were drawing back, it's only five miles an hour," Rusho said about the trip. "So we left there at four o'clock and it was 11 hours to come back."

Kingston Whig-Standard, YNN


Seaway shut down

3/29 - Capt. Henry Jackman was stopped for inspection in Snell Lock Wednesday afternoon due to an oil leak. This delayed the upbound Arubaborg, Algosea and Sandra Mary, all of whom secured below the lock. At 10:05 p.m. Thalassa Desgagnes, down bound for Tracy, secured above Eisenhower Lock to wait for traffic to resume.

Ron Beaupre


Port Reports -  March 29

Twin Ports – Al Miller
The Rt. Hon. Paul Martin was loading Wednesday morning at Midwest Energy Terminal, to be followed by Mesabi Miner. Walter J. McCarthy Jr. left its layup berth early in the day to fuel and then proceed back down the Front Channel to load at BNSF ore dock.

Grand Haven, Mich. - Dick Fox
The tug Undaunted and barge Pere Marquette 41 delivered the first cargo of the season for Verplank's Dock in Ferrysburg at noon Wednesday, looking great in a new paint job. It was expected to depart by late afternoon.

Alpena, Mich. - Ben & Chanda McClain
On Wednesday the U.S Coast Guard vessel Hollyhock was working on navigation buoys out in the bay. The Samuel de Champlain and barge Innovation arrived at Lafarge around 5:30pm on Wednesday to load cement.

Stoneport, Mich. - Denny Dushane
The John G. Munson loaded in Stoneport on March 27 and was that dock's first vessel to open the port for the 2012 season. She departed during the late evening. Other vessels expected to load at Stoneport are Mississagi for an early morning arrival on March 28 and Great Republic, also for an early morning arrival on March 29. The Republic will be followed by McKee Sons due in about lunch time on March 29. For March 30 there are no vessels scheduled to load. For March 31 four vessels are scheduled to load: Cason J. Callaway, Mississagi, Great Lakes Trader and McKee Sons. Pathfinder is due on April 1, with no time given to load.

Toledo, Ohio - Denny Dushane
H. Lee White departed her winter lay-up berth March 27 and was the second vessel to depart the port of Toledo for the 2012 season. Algowood was the first vessel to load coal at the CSX Coal Dock #4 machine on March 27. Due to load coal at the CSX Coal Dock are: H. Lee White on March 31, followed by the McKee Sons on Easter Sunday, April 8. At the Torco Dock, the first vessel to arrive was the Great Republic during the late evening March 27. Buffalo is due on March 29 making a rare appearance, followed by James L. Kuber on March 30 and rounding out the Torco lineup, H. Lee White on March 31. Vessels still in lay-up in Toledo are Adam E. Cornelius and the American Courage at the Hans-Hansen former Interlake Iron Co. Dock, American Integrity at the CSX #2 Dock, tug Olive L. Moore and barge Lewis J. Kuber at the CSX Docks, Manistee at the Lakefront Docks and the American Fortitude and American Valor in long-term lay-up at the Lakefront Docks. Sam Laud also remains in lay-up across from the Torco Dock in Toledo and Algoeast remains in drydock at the Ironhead Shipyard.

Sandusky, Ohio - Jim Spencer and Denny Dushane
Herbert C. Jackson loaded at the Norfolk Southern coal dock Wednesday. She was bound for Detroit on her first coal run of the season, where she arrived at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday. The Jackson had delivered her initial season cargo of iron ore at the Rouge on Tuesday. Vessels due to load coal at the NS Coal Dock in Sandusky in the next few days are Algoma Enterprise March 29, CSL Laurentien March 31, Herbert C. Jackson April 2, Algosoo April 4 and Saginaw on April 6.

Hamilton, Ont. - Eric Holmes
John D. Leitch departed her winter lay-up dock in Hamilton Wednesday morning for the canal.


Tourism season kicking off in Thorold

3/29 - Thorold, Ont. – The 2012 tourism season has begun and the city is ready to welcome visitors to Lock 7 and the “bustling” downtown core. Tourism coordinator Terry Dow said 14,000 people are expected to visit Lock 7 in 2012 (the same number that was projected in 2011).

The recent opening of the Welland Canal means tourists will once again be able to watch ships navigate the locks. Staff at the tourism information centre regularly welcome people from across Canada and across the world, said Dow.

“The canal in Thorold has and will always be a big draw. We’re lucky to have it. We have to use that strength to draw tourists here,” she said, adding that her favourite ship is the John B. Aird. “The engine sounds like a heart beating and it just brings life to that big, massive metal ship. They don’t all have that. You can sit here in the office (at Lock 7) and hear the engine.”

With upcoming events to celebrate the War of 1812 Bicentennial, Dow estimates the number of people who visit the Lock will likely top 14,000. Niagara’s designation as a Cultural Capital of Canada for 2012 will also draw the attention of tourists. The designation is awarded on the basis of a candidate community’s achievements and its ongoing commitment to culture. There are events happening across Niagara throughout the year. Visit for more information.


Help wanted at Vanuard Shipping (Great Lakes) Ltd.

3/29 - Vanguard Shipping is now accepting applications for masters, chief engineers, first mates and second engineers, and would be pleased to hear from any and all individuals in possession of the required current certificates that would be interested in accepting any of these senior vessel positions listed above. Vanguard Shipping is Canada’s newest Great Lakes shipping company that operates two bulk carriers primarily moving grain products throughout the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River. The company offers a very competitive compensation package along with a flexible leave system. If you are interested in joining a small but growing family-run company with a strong future that prides itself with treating all of its employees with respect, honesty and dignity then please submit your resume to one of the following:

By e-mail-
By mail- to- Vanguard Shipping (Great Lakes) Ltd.
24 Commerce Place, Unit #3
St. Catharines, Ontario. L2R 6P7
All individuals submitting a resume will get a response.


Updates -  March 29

News Photo Gallery
Historical Perspectives Gallery updated -  Kinsman Voyager and W E Fitzgerald galleries


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.

1973 The MANCHESTER TRADER, the second ship of this name to visit the Great Lakes, was owned by the Prince Line when it first came inland, on charter to Manchester Liners Ltd., in 1964. The ship was reanmed e) WESTERN PRINCE in 1969 and also transited the Seaway that year. It became f) MARINER in 1971 and was abandoned in the Pacific on this date in 1973. The ship was leaking in heavy weather en route from Havana, Cuba, to Kobe, Japan, and it was presumed to have sunk about 35.00 N / 152.47 E.

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


Agencies investigate as crewman passes

3/28 - 2:30 p.m. update - The U.S. Coast Guard and marine safety agencies from Canada began their investigations Wednesday into the fire aboard the Patrice McAllister on Lake Ontario Tuesday morning. The most severely injured crewmember, the boat’s chief engineer, died in a Toronto hospital Wednesday morning. His name and the names of the other five people who were aboard the vessel are not being released.

The 105-foot U.S.-flagged vessel was transiting on Lake Ontario from Toledo, Ohio, to a port in New York Tuesday morning when the fire broke out in the engine room. Another commercial towboat towed the Patrice McAllister to Clayton, N.Y., arriving early Wednesday morning.

As the federal agency responsible for marine safety aboard commercial vessels, the Coast Guard has assumed the lead for the investigation into the circumstances surrounding the fire, and the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board has joined the investigation. The Coast Guard will attempt to identify the cause of the fire and determine if any fire-prevention or protection requirements need to be amended or added to existing regulations for towing vessels.

Since the fire occurred while the vessel was in Canadian waters, personnel from the Transportation Safety Board of Canada and Transport Canada-Marine Safety are also planning to conduct an investigation.

The incident has been classified as a major marine casualty.


Tug Patrice McAllister burns on Lake Ontario

3/28 - Kingston, Ont. – One person was burned and five other crew members suffered smoke inhalation after the tug Patrice McAllister (formerly named Cleveland) caught fire on Lake Ontario Tuesday morning. About 2 a.m. Coast Guard Sector Buffalo received an alert from an emergency position indicating radio beacon registered to the vessel, which provided an exact location about seven miles south of Prince Edward Point, Ont.

Canadian Coast Guard rescue crews launched aboard a C-130 aircraft, Griffin helicopter and the Canadian Coast Guard Ship Cape Hearne, a 47-foot Cape Class motor lifeboat from Kingston, Ont. The U.S. Coast Guard responded with a MH-65 Dolphin rescue helicopter from Air Station Detroit.

One injured crewmember was medically evacuated by the Canadian helicopter crew and taken to a hospital in Belleville, Ontario, and was later transferred to Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto where he was listed in critical condition. The burned crewman was reported to be the vessel's chief engineer. The other five crewmembers were taken aboard the Cape Hearne and taken to Kingston General Hospital with injuries ranging from minor burns to smoke inhalation.

Rescue crews from the Coast Guard in Kingston and four search and rescue (SAR) technicians from 8 Wing/CFB Trenton’s 424 Transport, Search and Rescue Squadron were dispatched to the scene to find the tug engulfed in flames.

SAR tech Sgt. Aaron Bygrove said one of the six crew members "was seriously burned" and had to be hoisted into a CH-416 Griffon helicopter by one of his SAR colleagues.

The remaining five crew members abandoned the burning vessel — "before they put it out for the most part first," said Bygrove — and were taken aboard the Cape Hearne before being transported to Kingston. Bygrove spent the whole two-hour-long rescue mission aboard the Herc — flying over the burning tug and communicating with its occupants.

"Nothing goes faster than a boat on fire, there's is just so much time to react," said the experienced SAR tech, who was posted with the 424 a year ago.

"The boat wasn't too much off shore, which helped us with our helicopter and our three SAR techs on board. We (the Herc) got on scene first and entered in communication with the occupants of the boast as well as dropping so flares to light the area and help us located the boat."

Upon their arrival at the scene, three SAR techs got into the cold water (-7 C that night) from the helicopter and swam to the burning vessel with their medical gear before they climbed on board to assist the victim.

"Once the burned man was evacuated, the SAR tech, who was still on the boat, made sure the remaining five people on board were fine, but the fire had started itself back up again and that's when the coast guard evacuated the five passengers immediately and took them to Kingston along with our SAR tech."

The abandoned tug was under tow to Clayton, N.Y., by the tug Bowditch Tuesday afternoon.

The tug sailed last season without incident pushing the barge Cleveland Rocks. The tug laid up in Cleveland in early December and then moved to Toldeo where the crew picked it up for the trip off lakes.

Belleville Intelligencer, WWNY TV 7, Kingston Whig Standard and USCG


Port Reports -  March 28

Thunder Bay - Rod Spicer
On Monday, Algoma Olympic (with its new name) departed its winter lay-up at Lakehead Marine and Industrial with assistance from the GLS tugs George N. Carlton and Robert John. She shifted to load grain.

Saginaw River - Todd Shorkey
The USCG Cutter Hollyhock arrived on the Saginaw Bay overnight and was working Aids to Navigation along the entrance channel during the morning Tuesday. There has been movement aboard Ryba Marine's tug Kathy Lynn the past few days. The tug and a number of Ryba's dredging fleet spent the winter on the Saginaw River, tucked away in the old Defoe Shipbuilding slip near Liberty Bridge.

Erie, Pa. – Mark Watts
The new tug Ken Boothe Sr. was running maneuvers off Erie Tuesday afternoon, preparing for her maiden trip with the barge Lakes Contender.


Updates -  March 28

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.


Early morning fire on Lake Ontario

Patrice-McAllisterfire.jpg (80089 bytes)

USCG photo of the tug with extensive fire damage under tow Tuesday afternoon.

3/27 - 11 a.m. update - One person was burned and five other crew members suffered smoke inhalation after the tug Patrice McAllister (former Cleveland) caught fire on Lake Ontario Tuesday morning. About 2 a.m. Coast Guard Sector Buffalo received an alert from an emergency position indicating radio beacon registered to the vessel, which provided an exact location about seven miles south of Prince Edward Point, Ontario.

Canadian Coast Guard rescue crews launched aboard a C-130 aircraft, Griffin helicopter and the Canadian Coast Guard Ship Cape Hearne, a 47-foot Cape Class motor lifeboat from Kingston, Ontario. The U.S. Coast Guard responded with a MH-65 Dolphin rescue helicopter from Air Station Detroit.

One injured crewmember was medically evacuated by the Canadian helicopter crew and taken to a hospital in Belleville, Ontario, and was later transferred to Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto. The burned crewman was reported to be the vessel's chief engineer. The other five crewmembers were taken aboard the Canadian Coast Guard Ship Cape Hearne and taken to Kingston General Hospital with injuries ranging from minor burns to smoke inhalation.

The abandoned tug was under tow to Clayton, N.Y. by a local towing company Tuesday afternoon.

The tug sailed last season without incident pushing the barge Cleveland Rocks. The tug laid up in Cleveland in early December and then moved to Toldeo where the crew picked it up for the trip off lakes.

WWNY TV 7, Kingston Whig Standard and USCG


Port Reports -  March 27

Twin Ports - Al Miller
Monday morning vessel traffic in the Twin Ports included CSL Assiniboine loading at Midwest Energy Terminal and Paul R. Tregurtha fueling while it waited for its turn at the coal dock. Great Lakes Trader and tug were docked at the outer end of the CN ore dock, possibly waiting for Philip R. Clarke to finish its load under the conveyor belts.

Marquette, Mich. - Rod Burdick
Buffalo arrived Monday evening at the Upper Harbor to load ore.

Soo Locks - Herm Klein
The MacArthur Lock was opened on Monday to accommodate the heavy morning freighter traffic. The downbound Herbert C. Jackson was the first boat dispatched to the Mac, opening it for the 2012 season.

Sturgeon Bay, Wis. - Wendell Wilke
Cuyahoga, coming down the Bay of Green Bay, arrived at Bay Shipbuilding Monday at 9:30 a.m. and tied at Berth 15.

Lorain, Ohio - Phil Leon
Dorothy Ann unloaded gravel south of the Henderson bridge Monday.

Port Weller, Ont.
The HMCS Athabaskan arrived Monday afternoon for a refit at the former Port Weller Dry Docks. She was assisted in by the tugs Molly M and Lac Manitoba and docked on the fit out wall at 3:30 p.m.  She will stay at the wall for about 10 days before being placed into the deep dock to start her refit.

Seaway – Rene Beauchamp
Two new salties are on the move on the Atlantic Ocean, bound for Great Lakes ports. Apollogracht is bound for Windsor and Harbour Kira is bound for Mississauga. Harbour Kira is a recent renaming (in February) being previously the Clipper Kira. Meanwhile, the previously announced Dutch-flag Stella Polaris seems to have been diverted to St. Johns, Nfld. However, according to the AIS system, she is still destined for Hamilton.


Vanguard Shipping, Vanship Ltd. enters restructuring

3/27 - Vanguard Shipping (Great Lakes) Ltd. and Vanship Ltd. has begun court-supervised restructuring proceedings. The Toronto firm of Ernst & Young has been appointed by the court as monitor. At this point, there is no word on what impact this will have on the immediate future the two involved vessels, J.W. Shelley and VSL Centurion. Read more about the restructuring at this link


Lake levels are … up?

3/27 - Detroit. Mich. – The milder than usual winter has many thinking that we’ll pay the price in the spring and summer with lower lake levels, then again maybe not.

But WWJ’s Mike Campbell reports that lake levels have actually risen in the last year, even after a nearly snow-less Michigan winter. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), all of the Great Lakes are higher than they were last year in March, and Lake St. Clair is 4 inches higher.

The Army Corps of Engineers in Detroit says in the next 30 days to expect Lake St. Clair to rise another 3 inches; while lakes Huron and Michigan will increase 4 inches; Lakes Erie and Ontario will add 1 inch each, and Lake Superior will rise an additional 2 inches – compared to 1985 levels.

Lake St. Clair is up 23 inches, lakes Michigan and Huron are even; Lake Erie is up 35 inches; Lake Ontario is plus 32; and Lake Superior is down 11 inches.

The Corps notes that it doesn’t make predictions as to the peak summer months for lake levels.



Sarnia scrambling on harbor purchase

3/27 - Sarnia, Ont. – What will happen to Sarnia Harbour if the City of Sarnia doesn’t assume ownership? That’s one of many pressing questions facing city councillors this week as they consider acquiring one of Sarnia’s most important assets from Transport Canada.

“Sarnia needs the harbour. It cannot risk losing it,” said Coun. Mike Kelch at a special meeting Monday. The city has taken several economic hits recently with the impending closure of Hiawatha Slots and the NCO call centre, and cannot afford another loss, he said. “This is an opportunity to be masters of our own ship, captains of our own destiny,” said Coun. Anne Marie Gillis.

She and the rest of council voted unanimously to continue negotiations with Transport Canada. All councillors were in attendance Monday except for Jon McEachran, who declared a conflict of interest.

But Gillis echoed the concerns that others at the meeting voiced. There are outstanding questions about the deal that must be answered before council makes a decision on Friday, Mayor Mike Bradley said. It’s hoped Transport Canada will provide those answers so that the deal can be registered by Saturday, the deadline imposed by the federal government.

“I don’t like the position council has been put in with the information lacking,” Bradley said. “But no one disagrees that the harbour is an important asset.”

“We need this asset. Without it we’re going to be a declining community,” said Coun. Andy Bruziewicz.

“I think (operating the harbour) is a positive thing for Sarnia if we want to be a progressive community,” said Coun. Dave Boushy.

Staff and a group of harbour users have been in talks since the fall with Transport Canada about transferring ownership to the city for $2. Coun. Bev MacDougall said she is concerned about future capital costs at the harbour.

“We have only five days to do due diligence,” she said. “I worry about the development of a responsible business plan...If this falls under the city’s jurisdiction, we need to know that it will be cost neutral to the taxpayer.”

An operating budget has been developed by the group of harbour users and city staff that will allow the harbour to run as a non-profit organization at no cost to the municipality.

It’s projected that the harbour will generate $350,000 a year in revenue and cost $60,000 a year to operate. The remaining $290,000 will be put into a reserve for capital improvements.

Peter Hungerford, the city’s director of economic development, estimates it will cost $90,000 a year to maintain the harbour and do major repairs. That will mean $200,000 can be put aside annually for big jobs like dredging, which is necessary every five to 10 years.

There is no money available from the federal government for capital improvements as there has been for the Sarnia Chris Hadfield Airport, Hungerford noted. The airport was downloaded by Transport Canada 15 years ago but the federal government has paid for airport upgrades over the years.

A fund set up by Transport Canada to assist with divestiture of its harbours across Canada has been depleted and there’s no capital funding available, Hungerford said.

The harbour accommodates ship repair, which is one of Sarnia’s major industries and generates anywhere from $10 million to $15 million for the local economy every year.

The city has no experience operating harbours and, if the deal goes ahead, will call on an advisory group comprised of six private company reps. The group includes Algoma Central Marine, Fraser Industrial Services, Lower Lakes Towing Ltd., Cargill Ltd., Southwestern Sales Corporation and Central Machine and Marine.

Sarnia Observer


Old St. Lawrence Seaway lighthouse ready for duty

3/27 - Ogdensburg, N.Y. - A 178-year-old lighthouse in northern New York is ready to guide maritime traffic on the St. Lawrence Seaway now that the shipping season has started.

The 70-foot-tall lighthouse on the Roethel family homestead in Ogdensburg was built in 1834 and operated until being decommissioned by the federal government in the early 1960s. The night beacon was reactivated by the U.S. Coast Guard last October but only operated for a month before the seaway shut down for the winter.

With the seaway opening last Thursday, the Roethel family is awaiting Coast Guard approval to resume operating the lighthouse. Once that happens, the beacon will shine until mid-November.

The Watertown Daily Times reports that a group from the Michigan-based Great Lakes Lighthouse Keepers Association plans to be in Ogdensburg to watch the beacon getting switched on again.


Ship canal is newspaper founder's lasting legacy

3/27 - Sturgeon Bay, Wis. – Door County was the last of Wisconsin's 72 counties to get railroad service – not until 1893 – and the reason for the delay may very well be the power of the press.

One of the reasons Joseph Harris Sr. founded the Door County Advocate was to rally for the cause of digging a canal to link Sturgeon Bay to Lake Michigan, and a side effect of that effort was that for many years the newspaper advocated for shipping by water as opposed to by rail.

As early as 1863, a year after the Advocate was founded, Harris' editorials would be filled with statistics about the costs and benefits merging the waters of the bay and lake, which were separated by an isthmus of only 1.3 miles.

When Harris served in the Wisconsin Senate in 1864 and 1865, he prepared the charter for the Sturgeon Bay Canal Co. and pressed Congress to authorize federal funds for the project. Later he became personal secretary to U.S. Sen. Phineas Sawyer in Washington, D.C., where he continued the lobbying effort.

Congress finally approved the canal in 1872 and work began that July. The digging stopped for three years because of the 1873 Depression, but by Independence Day 1878 the project had advanced enough for the village of Sturgeon Bay to hold a gala celebration that brought Gov. William E. Smith and U.S. Sen. Timothy O. Howe to the community.

The July 4, 1878, edition of the Advocate recounted that "quite a number of spectators" were on hand for the big moment around 7:30 p.m. the previous Friday, June 28, when the waters of Sturgeon Bay and Lake Michigan finally mingled for the first time:

"The two dredges, under the control of Messrs. Norman Matheison and Richard Kirby, worked toward each other until only about two feet of earth remained, when Superintendent Geo. H. Sager, with shovel in hand, quickly cut away the remaining, and in an incredible brief space of time the opening was enlarged sufficiently to admit the passage of a row-boat, commanded by Capt. Casgrain, who was the first through.

"There was great 'rejoicing' all around, in which some half-dozen steam whistles materially assisted, who kept up an unearthly noise for the space of about five minutes.

"The channel of about two feet in width was soon enlarged to about ten feet by the action of the current, which swept through the Canal at a swift rate."

It was not until 1880 that vessels were able to use the canal regularly, and another decade before it was considered fully open, but the celebration had begun in earnest that Independence Day.

Bob Desh, executive director of the Door County Maritime Museum, said opening the canal affected the community of Sturgeon Bay, as well as Northern Door, in ways that resonate to this day.

"The canal made the top two-thirds of the peninsula an island," Desh said Thursday. "Severing it, if you will, started to make Northern Door what it is today."

Ports like Ephraim, for example, gained greater importance, and three of Door County's eight iconic lighthouses — the Canal Lighthouse, North Pierhead Light and Sherwood Point Lighthouse — were all built as a direct result of the canal's construction.

The U.S. Life-Saving Service, the forerunner of the Coast Guard, established stations at Baileys Harbor, Plum Island and the Lake Michigan end of the canal, Desh said.

The Army Corps of Engineers has been responsible for maintenance and operation of the canal since 1893, when the Canal Co. faltered.

"The Corps decided the canal was too important a project to fail," Desh said. "They essentially 'finished' the canal and improved the channel to what we know today."

Green Bay Press Gazette


Capt. Don Erickson dies; remembered for heroic efforts the night Fitzgerald sank

3/27 - Captain Don Erickson of Taylor, Mich., passed away Monday morning. He was best known as the master of the steamer William Clay Ford, who took his vessel out of safe harbor the night of Nov. 10, 1975 to search for survivors of the missing Edmund Fitzgerald.

Captain Erickson often participated in memorial services for the crew of the Fitzgerald, including several held at the Dossin Great Lakes Museum in Detroit.

He was the senior member of Detroit Lodge No. 7 and served as Grand President in 1970, and Lodge President in 1963. Last March 18 marked his 60th anniversary as a member of the I.S.M.A. He was also a past advisory council member of the Marine Historical Society of Detroit and an early supporter of the BoatNerd Web site.

In honoring Captain Erickson's wishes, there will be no services. At a later date, his ashes will be spread upon the waters of the Great Lakes.

Program with Captain Erickson talking about the night the Fitz went down

If you would like to share your memories of Capt. Erickson, a thread was started on our Discussion Board


Great Lakes Historical Society to offer ship models for sale

3/27 - The Great Lakes Historical Society will sell approximately 27 models from its collection on March 31. The models are being sold because they are not in the correct scale the museum will be using in the new facility in Toledo. The Society will list the models with photos on or about March 24. Visit the Society’s website at for more information.


Updates -  March 27

News Photo Gallery


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.

1916 The steel bulk carrier EMPRESS OF MIDLAND came to the Great Lakes for the Midland Navigation Co. in 1907 and left in 1915 when requisitioned for war service in 1915. The vessel hit a mine laid by UC-1 nine miles south of the Kentish Knock Light on this date in 1916. The ship developed a starboard list and 18 took to the lifeboat. Five more sailors jumped into the English Channel and were picked up by the lifeboat. The vessel, en route from Newcastle, UK to Rouen, France, with a cargo of coal, subsequently sank.

1964 The Victory ship MORMACPINE came through the Seaway on 13 occasions between 1960-1967. Fire broke out in the cargo hold on this date in 1964 while en route to Bermuda and U.S.C.G. HALF MOON escorted the vessel to safety. The ship resumed trading until arriving at the scrapyard in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, on July 18, 1970.

1965 The Norwegian tanker NORA began Great Lakes visits in 1960. It caught fire and burned in the English Channel after a collision with the large tanker OTTO N. MILLER 10 miles south of Beachy Head in dense fog at 0737 hours on March 27, 1965. The vessel was a total loss and arrived at Santander, Spain, under tow for scrapping in June 1965.

1979 The FEDERAL PALM was built by Port Weller Dry Docks in 1961 and left the Great Lakes for Caribbean and later South Pacific service. The passenger and freight carrier was sailing as b) CENPAC ROUNDER when it was blown aground by Typhoon Meli on Vothalailai Reef in the late night hours of March 27, 1979. The hull was refloated on April 27 but was beyond economical repair and arrived at Busan, South Korea, for scrapping in June 1979. The image of this Great Lakes built ship has appeared on postage stamps issued for both Grenada and Tulavu.

Data from: Skip Gillham, 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
Herbert C. Jackson arrived Sunday morning, March 25, at the Upper Harbor to load the first ore cargo of the season from the LS&I dock, which is celebrating 100 years of operation this season. In the early afternoon, Great Republic arrived to load ore. Jackson also took honors as the first ore boat in 2011 on the same day, March 25.

Muskegon, Mich. - Mark Taylor
Buffalo arrived in Muskegon Lake around Saturday night to unload coal at the BC Cobb power plant.

Grand Haven, Mich. - Dick Fox
The port opened for the season with the arrival, at 1:45 p.m. Friday, of the Prentiss Brown and barge St. Marys Conquest. They brought a load for the St. Marys Cement terminal in Ferrysburg, unloaded and left early Saturday morning.

Alpena, Mich. - Ben & Chanda McClain
Cuyahoga anchored overnight in the bay and entered the river on Sunday morning. It unloaded a cargo of salt from Goderich and left around 11:30 a.m. Samuel de Champlain and barge Innovation was also in port at Lafarge on Sunday morning loading cement for Detroit. Once the de Champlain departed, the Alpena made its way in to tie up under the silos. The Alpena finished loading during the afternoon and is heading for Superior, Wis.

Goderich, Ont. - Dale Baechler
CSL Tadoussac departed winter layup at 10:45 p.m. Sunday.

Cleveland, Ohio - Jake Kniola
Stephen B. Roman entered Cleveland at 5:30 a.m. to unload cement. At sometime around 5 p.m., Sea Eagle II and St. Marys Cement departed Cleveland for Toledo


St. Joseph harbor logs grim year

3/26 - St. Joseph, Mich. – Commercial docks on the St. Joseph River harbor experienced another disappointing year in 2011 as demand for building material remained flat. Shipments of cement, limestone and other bulk commodities totaled 226,419 tons, a drop of about 20 percent from 2010, according to Harbormaster Larry LaValley's annual report.

The year-end figures could have been higher but late-season silting near the harbor attributed to storms forced some vessels to turn away without reaching port. Limited emergency dredging allowed a couple ships to reach docks early in 2012.

Most of the material handled by the three commercial docks on the harbor are used in construction, an industry that has been slow to recover from the severe economic downturn. LaValley said shipping could show some improvement this year.

"But the increases are going to be modest," he said, possibly in the range of 300,000 tons.

It's unlikely that the shipping volume will grow in the near future to the pre-recession level of 500,000 tons or more annually. According to the report, which was recently presented to St. Joseph City Manager Frank Walsh, the three docks received 30 vessels in 2011 compared to 36 in 2010.

The LaFarge Corp. bulk cement terminal in St. Joseph received 21 shiploads last year with a total of 119,240 tons. Dock 63 on Marina Island took in 82,179 tons of limestone, stone and road salt, delivered on seven ships. Central Dock in Benton Harbor received two shiploads of road salt, a total of 25,000 tons.

The harbor's 2011 total, 226,419 tons, compared to 284,390 tons in 2010, 428,931 tons in 2009, 410,192 tons in 2008, 633,543 tons in 2007 and 537,471 tons in 2006. The record for receipts on the harbor in modern times was 1.11 million tons in 2001, much of it sand and other material handled by Central Dock.

The 2012 shipping season began on a bright note Wednesday with the arrival of the barge Innovation at the LaFarge dock to deliver 7,500 tons of cement. The vessel came in about a month earlier than the usual first spring shipment.



Hamilton firms optimistic for new shipping year

3/26 - Hamilton, Ont. – A “new era” has dawned in Canadian grain marketing and a Hamilton company is poised to cash in on the changes.

Parrish and Heimbecker Limited, operator of the recently expanded grain terminal on the city’s waterfront, is planning for a bumper crop of business this year because of rising world demand for Canadian grain and the end of the Canadian Wheat Board’s monopoly over grain marketing.

Rob Bryson, the company’s vice-president, said at a ceremony marking the start of the St. Lawrence Seaway shipping season Thursday that he’s expecting a busy year at the Hamilton terminal, where the company spent $30 million to expand its capacity.

“After the first fall shipping season out of the new Port of Hamilton terminal, we are gearing up for a new era of grain marketing opportunity resulting from the Canadian government’s changes to the Canadian Wheat Board Act,” he said. “Grain prices are strong, export demand looks positive, and our domestic food processing industry is solid and positioned well for growth. The business headlines are full of investment deals being proposed and the world has a whole new appreciation for agriculture.”

Bryson’s cheery outlook is bolstered by new investment in the seaway, including new locks and bridges and upgrades to the lakers that ply the waterway, a $34-billion economic driver supporting 227,000 jobs.

Another company expecting an increase in business through the seaway this year is Hamilton’s McKeil Marine, operator of a fleet of tug and barge combination vessels that move cargo that would otherwise clog up Ontario’s already congested highways.

Last year, in one example, those combinations took the equivalent of 8,000 trucks off the highways by moving steel slabs for ArcelorMittal Dofasco by water rather than road.

“We’ve been working hard through the winter to get ready for this season,” McKeil president Steve Fletcher said. “Now we feel like a race horse at the gates all ready to take off.”

Shipping companies such as Canada Steamship Lines, Fednav Limited and Algoma Central are spending $1 billion between them to upgrade their ships to make them up to 40 per cent more energy-efficient. The first of the refurbished lake boats are expected to sail this year.

“The greatest statement of your worth by the private sector is to see new investments,” said Terry Johnson, administrator of the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation. “The investments we are seeing translate into a very good year for the Seaway.”

Seaway officials are predicting an overall increase of 3 per cent in cargo through the waterway this year, bringing the total volume to as high as 40 million tons.

Hamilton Spectator


Some Canadian Coast Guard search and rescue stations open early

3/26 - Sarnia, Ont. - Search and Rescue stations in Kingston, Cobourg, Port Weller, Port Dover and Amherstburg were scheduled to open Friday. The early opening is an effort to reduce the risk of injuries and fatalities on the waterways.

The Canadian Coast Guard will open several of its seasonal Search and Rescue stations in Ontario two to three weeks earlier than the traditional start dates. The unseasonably mild weather has many boaters heading out onto the waterways much earlier than usual. Coast Guard Search and Rescue Stations in Kingston, Cobourg, Port Weller, Port Dover and Amherstburg will open March 23rd, two to three weeks ahead of schedule. The Coast Guard warns that despite the warm weather, water temperatures are still cold enough to cause hypothermia in a relatively short period of time.


Cleveland City Council OKs lakefront plan

3/26 - Cleveland, Ohio - City Council approved key pieces of Mayor Frank Jackson's lakefront plan on Monday, clearing the way for development that would transform the waterfront into a place where people can enjoy the city's biggest natural asset.

The plan, unveiled late last year, would remake the shoreline from the Cuyahoga River east across Burke Lakefront Airport, which would remain open for air traffic. Architectural drawings call for shops, restaurants, offices and a hotel tied together by walking and bicycle paths.

New additions would build on existing attractions, including the East Ninth Street pier, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, the Great Lakes Science Center and Cleveland Browns Stadium. The football team leases the stadium and adjoining property from the city and would coordinate development in that area with Cleveland's plan.

But city officials have pledged to guard public access to the lakefront. In fact, they say visitors will get closer than ever to Cleveland's port, ships and cargo operations.

Jackson believes his plan will succeed where others have failed. He said the plan ends confusion among developers by clearly delineating who controls what property. It also ends uncertainty over whether the shipping port will move or the airport will close.

Over the next two years, the city will use grants to build a marina for short-term docking and a pedestrian bridge over North Coast Harbor. Officials also are hoping to attract developers interested in building up to 2 million square feet of space.

"We've already seen interest on the part of developers," said city Port Control Director Ricky Smith, who declined to provide specifics. "There's significant interest."

Under legislation approved Monday, the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority will give up two docks leased from the city at the eastern edge of the port. In return, the city will extend the port's lease on its remaining property to the west for 15 years, ending in 2058.

At a committee hearing, Councilman Michael Polensek questioned the wisdom of such a long lease term and asked what would happen if the city wanted more land for development. Brian Lynch, the port's vice president for planning and development, said if the city needs the property, the port will work to "make that a reality."

The city will hand the port responsibility for making sure owners of property along the river maintain their retaining walls and that the waterway remains free of obstructions to shipping. As compensation, the city will waive the port's yearly $250,000 rent payments.

The council amended the lakefront legislation to maintain control over significant waterfront projects. Jackson's administration would have to seek approval of leases or naming rights, as well as events lasting more than a week.

"This is the city's lakefront, this is the region's lakefront," Councilman Martin Keane said in an interview. "Everybody has to be on the same page as to what we do with it."

Cleveland Plain Dealer


U.S. Steel reopening part of Hamilton plant

3/26 - Hamilton, Ont. – New life is coming back to part of U. S. Steel’s Hamilton operation. The company has confirmed it will restart its No. 3 galvanizing line at the former Stelco plant by the middle of the second quarter of this year – sometime in May.

The move means some of the roughly 250 workers who have been fearing a layoff notice at the end of April will stay employed.

U. S. Steel spokesman Trevor Harris said the decision has been driven by demand from customers in the construction and appliance industries. “It means a lot of those people are going to have gainful employment after their six month guarantee,” Harris said. “We’re not talking about hundreds of people, but there will be a lot of work available.”

As for the rest of the Hamilton steel making operation, Harris said there are no current plans to restart the blast furnace.

Hamilton Spectator


New Seaway award created

3/26 - The Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation (SLSDC) and The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SLSMC) are today announcing the creation of a new Seaway Award that will be given jointly by the Seaway corporations. The purpose of the award is to recognize and reward an organization or individual within the stakeholder community of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway (GLSLS) System that exhibits the qualities of innovation, creativity, entrepreneurship, tenacity and leadership that has resulted in positive benefits and results for the System.

Collister Johnson, Jr., Administrator of the SLSDC, said “We give out awards each navigation season to those ports in the Seaway System that have registered increased international traffic, but this new award will annually recognize different types of accomplishments and contributions made by members of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway System.”

Terence Bowles, President and CEO of the SLSMC, commented, “We have an incredibly diverse group of stakeholders and want to ensure that we publically recognize the extraordinary contributions we see on a continual basis from our stakeholders. This award will help ensure that proper recognition is given to those organizations or individuals that have done something exceptional for the Seaway System.”

U.S. and Canadian stakeholders are eligible to receive the award. This includes ports or port directors, vessel owners, cargo owners or shippers, labor, agents, educational organizations, municipalities, elected officials, NGOs, environmental groups, or any others who participate in the operation and functioning of the Seaway System. Employees of either the U.S. or Canadian Seaway Corporations are not eligible. Senior staff of both Seaway Corporations will submit nominations and the winner will be determined by the SLSDC Administrator and SLSMC President. Stakeholders should contact a SLSDC or SLSMC senior staff member if they would like to make a recommendation.

Beginning this year, one Seaway Award will be given annually by the Administrator of the SLSDC and the President of the SLSMC at the Grunt Club-Stakeholders Reception held the first Thursday of December in Montreal, Quebec.


CSX could remove swing bridge at Rochester

3/26 - Rochester. N.Y. – The Hojack railroad swing bridge has been part of the Port of Rochester’s character for more than a century. And by this time next year, it could be gone.

CSX Transportation Inc. this week submitted what it hopes is the final paperwork for a state permit needed to raze the structure near the mouth of the Genesee River. Public comment on the plan could begin in early April. CSX wants to start demolition in October.

The Hojack is one of just a handful of such bridges statewide and an unknown number nationally. Out of use since 1995, the bridge has become a hazard and an eyesore, according to some. To others it is a treasure, eligible for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places. Those differing views might be aired at a future public hearing, but the questions before the state now are fundamental to the removal. “It is eligible (for listing), and that makes us think it is a potentially significant historic structure. The problem of it is, we aren’t really looking at that question,” said Kim Merchant, project manager with the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

The project needs a state permit because demolition requires working below the water line, tearing out the bridge supports and dredging the immediate area. CSX needs to tear it down because, quite simply, the river is a federal waterway and the bridge was permitted for a transportation purpose. No longer having that purpose, it is no longer permitted, and the U.S. Coast Guard ordered it removed — nearly 10 years ago.

“This case, it came to DEC as a removal action, and we don’t have anything to say about whether it can come down or not,” Merchant said. “It’s kind of past that point.”

In paperwork submitted to the state, CSX outlines a schedule that starts in August with crews removing asbestos from the control house. In October, the top 10 feet of the bridge fender systems would be partially dismantled and a barge or other equipment moved into place with tarps to catch debris.

Actual in-water demolition work would start in November, with the goal of finishing by mid-April 2013. That is, if CSX obtains all federal, state and local permits and approvals.

“Unless someone was actually going to go and spend the money to rehab it ... getting it out would get rid of an eyesore, and probably help the riverway,” said Kathy Strauss, co-chairperson of Team Charlotte, representing multiple community groups in the area.

“From a historical point of view, it’s a cool thing. But it’s not being used,” she said, adding: “Very few people I’ve heard have any attachment to it.”

The Coast Guard first ordered CSX to raze the swing bridge in or around 2003, but that process dragged on for at least two years as the company was allowed time to seek buyers and give interested parties more time to develop plans. That order was renewed last year.

“They asked for it to come down, so here we are,” CSX spokesman Bob Sullivan said.

Purchase options appear exhausted this time around, though CSX still is offering the Hojack for sale. Mayor Thomas Richards last fall rejected a proposal that the city take and display the bridge elsewhere, records show.

In recent weeks and months, CSX has submitted “an awful lot” of information to the state, Merchant said, including a mitigation plan aimed at addressing the historical concerns. CSX plans to document the bridge in photographs and with historical signage, donate historical pieces to museums and provide $30,000 to be put toward one or more preservation efforts of historic properties elsewhere in the area.

Should the demolition proceed, construction traffic will add to trucks working on the Port of Rochester marina and workers removing part of the eastern bridge abutment for a small boat basin.

Crews tearing down the Hojack will use cofferdams and a silt curtain to catch debris. Documents filed with the state speak of a possible need for underwater blasting to remove the center pier and a promise to dredge the surrounding river bottom to a depth of 23 feet. Any structure below 26 feet will be left in place.

Rochester Democrat and Chronicle


Annual Boatnerd freighter-chasing cruise part of Engineer's Day

3/26 - Friday, June 29 is the date for this year's St. Marys River cruise which will again be aboard one of the American Soo Locks Tours boats, departing from Dock #2 (next to the Valley Camp) at 6 p.m. Boarding begins at 5:30 p.m. The cruise will be three hours and we will travel through both the U.S. and Canadian locks, and do our best to find photo opportunities for any vessel traffic in the river.

A buffet dinner is included in the $35 per person cost. Dinner will consist of pasta with meatballs, baked chicken, cheesy potatoes, mixed veggies, tossed salad and desert. 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. Mail-in reservations must be received no later than Friday, June 22.

Click here for reservation form


Badger Boatnerd Gathering planned for June 8-9

3/26 - The Annual Boatnerd Badger Gathering will be in warmer weather in 2012. A round-trip crossing of Lake Michigan from Ludington, Michigan to Manitowoc, Wisconsin will be on Saturday, June 9 aboard the Lake Michigan Carferry Badger.

Join us in traveling aboard 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 re-board the Badger for a two-hour Wisconsin shoreline cruise with live entertainment and a party buffet. Special Boatnerd round-trip is only $75 per person.

• Optional Friday night, June 8, Badger Boatel - $75. Stay overnight in a Badger stateroom. Staterooms sleep two at the same price. Includes breakfast buffet on Saturday morning. We need a minimum of 20 room reservations for Friday night in order for this option to be available. Only 42 staterooms are available. Boatnerds will be the only passengers sleeping on the boat. Possible tours of the Badger pilothouse and engine room Friday evening.

• Optional Saturday Wisconsin shoreline cruise - $40. Re-board the Badger in Manitowoc for a two-hour Wisconsin shoreline cruise that includes complimentary Badger Party Buffet and a live band.

• Optional Wisconsin Maritime Museum tour - $10 per person Boatnerd rate. (Pay at the museum.) Tell them you are a "Boatnerd". Downtown Manitowoc and the museum are only a two-block walk.

Reservations must be received no later than Saturday, May 19. Checks for the full amount must accompany each reservation. Reservations received after May 19 will be handled on an "If-Available" basis.

Click here to print your reservation form


Updates -  March 26

News Photo Gallery
Lay-up list updated


Today in Great Lakes History -  March 26

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

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

1922 A boiler explosion rocked the wooden passenger ferry OMAR D. CONGER at Port Huron killing four and leaving the remains of the ship on the bottom. It was fortunate there were not more casualties. Debris was hurled in all directions and some homes caught on fire.

1935 A fire destroyed the small wooden bulk carrier ALICE M. GILL that had been laid up at Sandusky since the end of the 1926 season. The ship had been built as a tug for the logging industry and later served as a lighthouse tender and then a small bulk carrier. The remains were scrapped.

1971 The former CLEMENS SARTORI stranded off the coast of Algeria in bad weather as b) PIRAEUS while en route from Antwerp, Belgium, to Mersin, Turkey, and was abandoned by the crew as a total loss. The vessel was a pre-Seaway visitor to the Great Lakes for the West German firm of Sartori and Berger and, in July 1958, was the first westbound salty to use the recently opened American Locks at Massena, NY. It made 20 trips to the Great Lakes (1959-1965) mainly on charter to the Hamburg-Chicago Line.

1976 The RAMON DE LARRINAGA is remembered as the first Seaway era saltwater vessel into the port of Duluth-Superior arriving amid great fanfare on May 3, 1959. The ship was sailing as c) MARIAN when it sustained hull damage clearing the port of Lisbon on this date in 1976. Portuguese authorities ordered the vessel towed out to sea and it foundered off Cascais, Portugal, the following day.

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


Mesabi Miner opens the Soo Locks for 2012

3/25 - Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. – The Mesabi Miner had the honor of being the first vessel to lock through the Poe Lock at the Soo shortly after the noon opening time Saturday. Due to a request by the shipping community and a mild and unseasonably warm winter with hardly any ice cover, the locks at the Soo were opened 12 hours ahead of the normal midnight opening on March 25. The Mesabi Miner's fleetmate Stewart J. Cort became the first upbound arrival at the Soo Locks also on Saturday.

Mesabi Miner's passage was the first time that she had ever opened the Soo Locks and the last time that the Cort was the first upbound vessel was in 2000 and at that time she was still owned by Bethlehem Steel Corporation. The Cort is now owned by Interlake and is celebrating her 40th year of service in 2012 on the Great Lakes.

Also, for the third straight year Interlake has had one of their vessels as the first arrival for the Soo. In 2010 it was the Lee A. Tregurtha, followed in 2011 by the Paul R. Tregurtha and in 2012 the Mesabi Miner. The last time a company opened the Soo for three years in a row was from 2006-08 when Great Lakes Fleet had the Arthur M. Anderson, Roger Blough and the Cason J. Callaway respectively open up the Soo in that period.

This was also the first time a downbound vessel opened the Soo Locks since the Roger Blough did it back in 2007.

Denny Dushane


Port Reports -  March 25

Twin Ports - Al Miller
Vessel traffic in the Twin Ports was heavy Friday and Saturday as several boats left their layup berths to start the season and several others arrived from Thunder Bay to load downbound cargoes. Edwin H. Gott left its layup berth in Duluth on Friday to load pellets at CN ore dock. It departed over night. Roger Blough was in next to load at the ore dock, departing mid afternoon Saturday. As the Blough departed, Birchglen was completing fueling at the Murphy Oil dock before shifting to the Midwest Energy Terminal to load coal. Michipicoten was idling in the anchorage area inside Duluth entry and got under way to takes its place at the CN ore dock. American Century left Superior to start its season while CSL Niagara arrived to load at BNSF ore dock. This undoubtedly was among the easiest openings to navigation in history, with nearly the entire harbor free of ice.

Sturgeon Bay, Wis. - Jan McKelvey
Cason J. Callaway departed Bay Ship in Sturgeon Bay Saturday morning heading out to Green Bay. She was followed by fleet mates Arthur M. Anderson and Philip R. Clarke.

Milwaukee, Wis. - Sherry Magner
Burns Harbor left Milwaukee port at 5:45 Saturday evening.

South Chicago - Brian Z.
American Steamship's Buffalo arrived at KCBX Terminal Friday afternoon to load coal for Muskegon, Mich. CSL Laurentien followed the Buffalo and was loading petroleum coke on Saturday. The Laurentien offloaded salt prior to arriving at KCBX.

Goderich, Ont. - Dale Baechler
After the Goderich harbor not shutting down all winter, with runs by Capt. Henry Jackman and Algomarine, Cuyahoga officially opened the 2012 shipping season, entering the harbor at 7 a.m. Saturday and going to load at Sifto Salt.

Erie, Pa. - Ron Stafford
Edgar B. Speer was pulled from the dock shortly after 7 a.m. and cleared the channel upbound about 8 a.m.

Toronto, Ont. - Frank Hood
The saltie Barnacle arrived Toronto's Redpath dock Friday night.

Seaway - Rene Beauchamp
Presently upbound off the coast of Newfoundland is the tanker Stella Polaris en route to Hamilton. The ETA at Hamilton is March 29. This will be her first trip in the Seaway. A vessel of the same name, a bulk carrier, transited in 1970. She then called at ports such as Ashtabula and Milwaukee.

Halifax, N.S. - Mac Mackay
The lakes-bound tug Beverly Anderson and barge Mary Turner bypassed Halifax. It had been believed that they were to call in Halifax to shelter from high winds.


Arubaborg to make first visit to the lakes

3/25 - The Arubaborg, built in 2010 for the Wagenborg Shipping fleet, was due to arrive in Montreal on March 24. When she departs Montreal, she will be heading to Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. Although she has made port calls in the past to Baie Comeau and Montreal, she has never been to the Great Lakes until this season. Arubaborg measures 143 meters in length with a beam of 21.5 meters. She also has several Wagenborg sisterships that have made appearances in the Great Lakes/Seaway system in the past few years.

Denny Dushane


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.

1966 The French freighter ROCROI made one trip through the Seaway in 1959. The ship arrived at Halifax on this date in 1966 with interior damage after the 'tween decks, loaded with steel, collapsed crushing tractors and cars beneath. The vessel was repaired and survived until 1984 when, as e) THEOUPOLIS, it hit a mine en route to Berbera, Somalia, on August 14, 1984. The vessel was badly damaged and subsequently broken up in India.

1973 The former MONTREAL CITY caught fire as b) RATCHABURI at Bangkok, Thailand, on March 24, 1973. It was loading a cargo of jute and rubber for Japan on its first voyage for new Thai flag owners. The vessel was scuttled and sank on March 25 in Pattani Bay, South Thailand. The ship began coming through the Seaway for the Bristol City Line when new in 1963.

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


Soo Locks to open today, one day earlier than planned

3/24 - Detroit, Mich. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will open the Soo Locks at noon Saturday, 12 hours earlier than originally planned, marking the beginning of the Great Lakes shipping season. The shipping community requested the Corps to open the locks early this year due to extremely mild weather and minimal ice conditions throughout the Great Lakes, which increased the likelihood of vessels arriving at the locks well ahead of their originally planned time.

Late Friday night Mesabi Miner was downbound on Whitefish Bay and will be the first passage of the season. John G. Munson was following closely behind the Miner. Stewart J. Cort is expected to arrive at the locks as the first upbound vessel after noon Saturday.


Port Reports -  March 24

Thunder Bay, Ont. - Denny Dushane
Birchglen departed her winter lay-up berth at Thunder Bay, Ont., on March 23 making her the second vessel to depart from the port, following her CSL fleetmate CSL Niagara, which left on March 22. CSL Niagara headed to Duluth to load iron ore at the CN dock, while Birchglen is heading to Superior to load coal at the Midwest Energy Terminal for Quebec. Also, it was reported on the March 21 news reports that Birchglen departed her lay-up berth in Quebec for Port Cartier. However, it was her CSL fleetmate Spruceglen which departed Quebec for Port Cartier to load iron ore.

Michipicoten was underway Friday 12:20 a.m. from Essar Steel in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., upbound to Duluth.

Sturgeon Bay, Wis. - Jake Heffernan
Stewart J. Cort departed lay-up at 6 p.m. Friday bound for Superior, Wis., to begin her usual run from BNSF to Burns Harbor, Ind. She was followed an hour later by Lee A. Tregurtha, James R. Barker and Paul R. Tregurtha, all within a few minutes of each other. All vessels departed via Green Bay. As the night went on the James R. Barker reduced speed to around 5 knots as the Lee A. and Paul R. pressed on running over 13 knots.
Owen Sound - Dave Martin
Ojibway finished loading on Friday evening and departed upbound on Georgian Bay.

Detroit, Mich.
Hon. James L. Oberstar and Herbert C. Jackson departed their lay-up docks in Detroit late Friday night heading upbound within a few minutes of each other.

Toledo, Ohio - Denny Dushane
Great Republic was the first vessel to depart her winter lay-up site in the Port of Toledo for the 2012 Great Lakes shipping season. She left her lay-up dock at CSX #1 Berth on Friday, heading to Marquette, Mich. and the LS&I ore dock, where she will load iron ore pellets. It is expected that the Republic will probably be loading for Toledo and could be one of perhaps the first vessel for the 2012 season to unload at the Torco Dock there. There are still many vessels in lay-up in Toledo, among them American Courage and Adam E. Cornelius at the former Hans Hansen Dock; American Integrity and H. Lee White at CSX #2 Berth; tug Olive L. Moore and barge Lewis J. Kuber near the CSX #4 coal loading machine; and Sam Laud at the Torco Dock along with Manistee at the Lakefront docks. The tanker Algoeast remains in the Ironhead Marine drydock in Toledo.

Cleveland, Ohio - Jake Kniola
The rarely-seen tug-barge Sea Eagle II and St. Marys Cement II were in the Cuyahoga River Friday, headed for the St. Marys Cement dock to load.

Hamilton, Ont. – Eric Holmes
Hamilton Energy is now on the move for the season, bunkering the Rt. Hon. Paul J. Martin at U.S. Steel.

Toronto, Ont. - Andre Blanchard, Charlie Gibbons
USCGC Thunder Bay arrived at Toronto’s Pier 52 on Friday.


Coast Guard end ice-breaking season, begins ATON project

3/24 - Cleveland, Ohio – The 9th Coast Guard District concluded Operation Taconite, its ice-breaking operation in the western Great Lakes, Friday, officially bringing the 2011-12 icebreaking season to a close. Under control of Coast Guard Sector Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., Operation Taconite is carried out in Lake Superior, the St. Mary’s River, the Straits of Mackinac, and northern Lake Huron.

Operation Taconite began Dec. 21, 2011. Working together during this year's ice-breaking season were crews aboard: U.S. Coast Guard Cutters Mackinaw; Alder; Hollyhock; Mobile Bay; Neah Bay; Katmai Bay; Biscayne Bay; and Thunder Bay, temporarily assigned to the Great Lakes from its homeport of Rockland, Maine. Together these eight cutters spent 1,668 hours breaking ice and assisted more than 60 vessels.

Although ice has melted from the waterways and air temperatures may be mild, water temperatures are still extremely cold and can cause hypothermia and death within a matter of minutes. Recreational water users are advised to dress for the water temperature and not the air, and to consider these factors before venturing out onto the water.

Meanwhile, the Coast Guard is embarking on its next project, replacing seasonal aids to navigation throughout Great Lakes. Operation Spring Restore involves the verification and placement of more than 1,270 ATON, including lighted and unlighted buoys, with an expected completion date of May 28.

Roughly half of the aids throughout the Great Lakes region are taken out of service during the winter months during Operation Fall Retrieve in order to minimize damage caused by ice and inclement weather, and because of reduced vessel traffic.

The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Mobile Bay, a 140-foot ice-breaking tug homeported in Sturgeon Bay, Wi.,, is scheduled to begin returning seasonal buoys to waters in the Bay of Green Bay and near the outer Door Peninsula Monday.

Mobile Bay is one of two 140-foot ice-breaking tugs operating in the Great Lakes equipped with a 120-foot aids-to-navigation barge.

After spending the winter months breaking ice in support of Operation Taconite, the crew of the Mobile Bay has re-attached their ATON barge. This is one of the final preparations made before servicing the buoys that allow for safe transit throughout the region.

The crew's area of responsibility encompasses Green Bay and the waters around Door Peninsula, including the Green Bay Harbor Entrance Channel, the Sturgeon Bay Ship Channel, the Strawberry Islands and Little Bay de Noc.

“Keeping all mariners safe during their travels is a priority of Mobile Bay’s crew and the entire U.S. Coast Guard,” said Lt. Cmdr. John Stone, commanding officer of the Mobile Bay. “The crew is fully committed to its task during ATON operations, and is confident that its efforts will aid in the safety of fishermen, recreational boaters, sailors and commercial mariners alike.”


S.S. Badger's quest to receive active opposition from high-ranking senator

3/24 - Ludington, Mich. - U.S. Senator Dick Durbin from Illinois, the second-ranking Democrat in the chamber, is clearly positioning himself as the lead opponent in the S.S. Badger’s quest to continue operations while dumping coal ash into Lake Michigan.

Durbin sent a letter to Lake Michigan Carferry, which owns the historic Badger that carries people and vehicles between Ludington and Manitowoc, Wis., announcing that the senator will actively oppose the company’s efforts to secure a special permit from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Lake Michigan Carferry President and CEO Robert Manglitz recently met with Durbin in Washington about the issue. Durbin said Manglitz talked about the company’s pursuit of converting to liquefied natural gas (LNG) from coal, but Durbin contends that is not a realistic solution in the near term.

“The four years since receiving your current EPA permit have been more than enough time for you to develop a credible plan for eliminating coal ash discharge,” Durbin wrote in the letter. “All you could produce for me was far-fetched LNG theory which has no chance to actually become a reality. Because of your continued, long-term refusal to clean up your dangerous operations, I will actively oppose your new permit application,” he added.

The Chronicle was unable to reach Lake Michigan Carferry. The Associated Press reported that company officials have no immediate comment on Durbin's opposition. The vessel is currently operating under a section of a 2008 permit from the EPA. That authorization is set to expire on Dec. 19.

The Badger’s owner has two potential items that may allow the vessel to continue operating while dumping its coal ash overboard.

The company is seeking an individual National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit from the EPA. After reviewing a petition from the company, the federal regulatory agency decided earlier this year to allow Lake Michigan Carferry to apply for the permit.

A special exemption in a U.S. House amendment to a Coast Guard bill also would allow the vessel to continue operations beyond the upcoming sailing season. The amendment was co-sponsored by U.S. Reps. Bill Huizenga, R-Zeeland; Dan Benishek, R-Crystal Falls; and Tom Petri, R-Manitowoc, Wis.

The company and environmental groups differ on the Badger's coal-ash dumping's impact on the lake. The company's petition to the EPA reiterated its contention that the coal ash does not pose a threat to “human health or the environment,” referencing lab tests.

Some environmental groups, opposing any continuation of the coal-ash-dumping practice beyond the current permit, contend the coal ash contains dangerous elements.

The ferry company has the strong support of those in Ludington and Manitowoc, communities that rely on the direct jobs and the economic boost the ferry gives to the local tourism industries. The company stressed in its petition that the potential ceasing of operations ­ if the Badger can't continue operating as is ­ would cause significant job loss and hurt the local economies of Ludington and Manitowoc.

The Badger is credited with employing more than 200 directly and several hundred more indirectly. According to the company, the Badger's continued operation is anticipated to provide $867 million in economic benefits to the two communities in the 20-year period ending in 2029.



Welland Canal welcomes first ship of year

3/24 - St. Catharines, Ont. - It was a great day to be on the water, especially the Welland Canal. The Alouette Spirit barge, pushed by the Wilf Seymour tug, was welcomed as the first vessel to enter the canal this year, as the St. Lawrence Seaway's 54th navigation season got under way Thursday.

Seaway officials were in a buoyant mood, thanks to the summerlike weather for the opening ceremony and the improved outlook for cargo shipments on the Seaway this year.

The Welland Canal, with eight locks, connects Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, bypassing Niagara Falls. It is a vital part of the Seaway, which extends to Montreal.

The opening ceremony has a special touch: a symbolic "top hat" presented to the captain of the first vessel, an annual rite dating to 1947. The tradition evokes the debut of the original Welland Canal in 1829, when spectators dressed in their finery to celebrate the first-ever ship to pass through.

Thursday, Rob Dominaux, a captain with McKeil Marine, donned the black hat. He bowed to an applauding crowd of dignitaries, industry officials and area residents at the Welland Canals Centre and St. Catharines Museum. Dominaux and chief engineer Otto Cooper signed the inside of the hat, which is kept at the museum.

A new beaver pelt hat was introduced this year; it is believed to be the third one used in the tradition, after the previous hats filled up with captains' signatures.

This was also the first time a McKeil Marine vessel earned the opening-day recognition. The well-dressed Dominaux, who lives in Newfoundland, learned two days earlier he would receive the top-hat honor.

"When they called and asked me measurements for a suit, I said, 'Well, something's up,'" Dominaux said.

The 425-foot-long barge was headed downbound (eastbound) through the canal, to New Brunswick, Canada, to pick up a load of zinc concentrate. While the canal is a familiar waterway to Dominaux, the captain said he doesn't get complacent when navigating it.

"It's never easy," he said. "You don't take your eyes off of things, and you pay attention 110 percent all the time. There's always something different."

The museum is next to Lock 3 of the canal, offering visitors a prime view of an engineering marvel at work. The lock fills with water in just 10 minutes, lifting the massive vessel like a toy boat floating in a bathtub. A vessel typically travels through the 27-mile-long canal in 11 to 12 hours.

Amid the pageantry, Seaway and industry officials praised the canal and the Seaway as an economic engine that provides jobs to the region, moves cargo in a fuel-efficient way and supports international trade. The amount of cargo shipped on the Seaway last year increased 3 percent, to 37.6 million metric tons, said Bruce Hodgson, director of market development for the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp.

"We think this is a pretty good performance, [considering] the state of the economy, in particular the state of the European economy at this point in time, given that Europe is one of our largest trading partners," he said.

The Seaway's navigation season last year ran 284 days, breaking the record of 283 days set in 2006.

Seaway officials predict cargo shipments will rise another 3 percent this year, to 38.6 million metric tons. "I'm personally optimistic that we might even hit 40 million [metric] tons, if the U.S. economy continues to improve, and we're certainly seeing some good signs in that regard," Hodgson said.

Ships on the Seaway carry cargo including grain, iron ore and coal. While shipments have climbed from a recession-induced low in 2009, the projected total for this year is still below the 43 million metric tons of 2007 and 40.8 million metric tons of 2008.

On roads along the waterway, motorists are accustomed to idling when they miss crossing the canal bridges before they are raised for passing ships. Gary Burroughs, chairman of the Regional Municipality of Niagara, said he has developed a "better perspective" on the delays.

"When I miss the bridge, that's the economy working in our canal system, and I'm much more lenient to the canal system," he said. The canal also draws tourists and employs local residents who operate the waterway, he added.

As the ceremony was ending, Hodgson stepped to the microphone: "I declare the 2012 Seaway navigation season officially open."

The Wilf Seymour tug blasted its horn in reply. And before long, the tug-and-barge combination with its 10-person crew was moving north under blue skies, heading for Lake Ontario and beyond.

Buffalo News


Updates -  March 24

News Photo Gallery
Historical Perspectives Gallery updated - new pictures in the Manzzutti and Sir James Dunn galleries


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.

1905 The wooden passenger and freight carrier LAKESIDE was built in Windsor in 1888. It spent most of its life operating between Niagara and Toronto. During fit out on this date in 1905, the ship sank at the dock in Port Dalhousie when water was sucked in through the seacock after the engine filling the boiler shut down. The hull was refloated and returned to service until the DALHOUSIE CITY was built in 1911.

1981 The West German freighter ANNA REHDER first came through the Seaway in 1967 when it was two years old. It was sold and renamed LESLIE in 1973. The Captain last reported his position on this date in 1981 and that they were encountering heavy weather while en route from Boulogne, France, to Umm Said, Qatar. There was no further word and it is believed that the ship went down with all hands in the Atlantic off the coast of Spain. A ring buoy was later found north of Cape Finnestere.

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


Soo Locks to open early for 2012 shipping season

3/23 - 3:30 p.m. update - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced Friday that the Soo Locks in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., will open at Noon on Saturday, March 24 – 12 hours early – marking the beginning of the Great Lakes shipping season. The shipping community requested the Corps to open the locks early this year due to extremely mild weather and minimal ice conditions throughout the Great Lakes, which increased the likelihood of vessels arriving at the locks well ahead of their originally planned time.

The Soo Locks closed Jan. 19 and underwent repairs and maintenance during the winter shutdown.

 Because of the schedule change, the park and central observation platform will only be open during its usual winter hours from 6 a.m. - 6 p.m.


Port Reports -  March 23

Twin Ports – Al Miller
American Spirit departed its layup berth on Thursday afternoon and fueled at the Duluth port terminal before proceeding to Silver Bay to load taconite pellets for its first trip of the season.

Cleveland, Ohio - Jake Kniola
Pere Marquette Shipping's tug/barge unit Undaunted / Pere Marquette 41 were unloading near the St Marys Cement dock Thursday. They came in at 7:30 a.m.

Sandusky, Ohio - Jim Spencer
The Rt. Hon, Paul J. Martin cleared Sandusky Bay overnight Wednesday, bound for Hamilton, Ont., with a partial load of coal. Loading on Thursday for Hamilton was the Algoma Progress, which also took on a short load.

Hamilton / Burlington - Eric Holmes
Cuyahoga departed Hamilton from Pier 26N at 7 a.m. Thursday with slag for Windsor. Canadian Coast Guard ships Cape Hearne and Cape Storm departed Burlington at 10 a.m. from the Canada Centre for Inland Waters for Port Weller. Canadian Coast Guard ship Cape Mercy departed Burlington at 11 a.m. from CCIW and travelled along the north shore of the lake. Tug Wilf Seymour and barge Alouette Spirit arrived in Hamilton at 6 p.m. after starting off the shipping season at Lock 3 in the Welland Canal earlier in the day.

St. Lawrence River
The tug Robinson Bay and a barge were observed working near Crossover Island in the St. Lawrence River Thursday morning, removing the winter channel marker and replacing it with the summer lighted marker 159. Tug Performance followed the Robinson Bay, checking the marker after it was placed. Both vessels continued the process, moving up river.

Cedarglen departed Montreal lay-up for Port-Cartier. Also departing Montreal, the Pineglen was the first commercial ship to enter St Lambert lock for Thunder Bay.

St. Lambert Lock - Michel St-Denis
Traffic included Harbour First, Barnacle and Federal Welland upbound Thursday.

Halifax, N.S. - Mac Mackay
Tug/barge unit Beverly Anderson/ Mary Turner are due in Halifax around mid-day Friday. They will be anchoring in the harbor.


Seaway opens 54th navigation season, projects 3 percent increase for 2012

3/23 - St. Catharines, Ont. - The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SLSMC) predicted that cargo shipments would rise by about three per cent to 38.6 million tonnes for 2012 as it marked the official opening of its 54th navigation season Thursday at Lock 3 of the Welland Canal.

Exports of coal are expected to be a bright spot, as producers in Montana route their product by rail to Great Lakes ports, where the cargo is loaded onto lakers and brought to the Port of Quebec via the Seaway. The coal is subsequently trans-shipped to ocean vessels destined for Europe, avoiding congested coastal ports.

Rob Bryson from Parrish and Heimbecker’s Hamilton operation, and Donald Gallienne from Aluminerie Alouette, served as keynote speakers at the event. Canadian agribusiness firm Parrish and Heimbecker, has invested $30 million in expanding its grain handling facilities strategically located at the Port of Hamilton, testifying to the value of the Seaway in cost effectively moving grain. Aluminerie Alouette, the largest aluminum smelter in North America, uses the Seaway to transport substantial volumes of aluminum ingots on a tug / barge combination from its facility in Sept-Iles (Quebec) to Great Lakes ports in the U.S. Both speakers testified to the critical role that marine transportation plays in their respective firms’ ability to compete effectively in a global marketplace.

The tug / barge used to transport the aluminum ingots, McKeil Marine’s Wilf Seymour/Alouette Spirit, served as the opening vessel at Lock 3 of the Welland Canal.

“McKeil is honoured to be part of the Seaway opening celebration,” said Steve Fletcher, president of McKeil Marine Limited. “Our company’s innovative marine solutions provide shippers with a cost effective and environmentally friendly means of moving cargo. The Seaway has been a strong advocate in shifting more cargo onto our waterways, which also serves to ease pressure on congested road and rail links.”

As a result of the tug and barge operation, tens of thousands of truckloads are being shifted from two and four lane highways to the Seaway. “We are pleased to see continued momentum in the burgeoning tug and barge sector,” said Bruce Hodgson, Director of Market Development for the SLSMC. “The Aluminerie Alouette shipments serve as a great example of how marine transportation directly supports the operation of a major North American business and, at the same time, bolsters our quality of life.

Canadian and international carriers are in the process of building new vessels, with some scheduled to begin transiting Seaway waters in 2012. Collister Johnson Jr., Administrator of the U.S. Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation, noted that with carriers investing hundreds of millions of dollars in fleet renewal, the Seaway system’s future is bright. “Marine transportation is already the most energy efficient means of moving cargo, and these new vessels will increase energy efficiency by up to 40% in addition to offering leading edge emissions performance,” said Johnson.

A recently published economic impact study, commissioned by Marine Delivers, demonstrates the significant role that the Great Lakes / Seaway system plays in supporting the Canadian and U.S. economies. Some 227,000 jobs and $34 billion in economic activity are supported by the movement of goods within the Great Lakes / Seaway waterway. For more information on the Seaway, including access to the full text of the economic impact study, please consult the website.


Dredging crews opening Black River canal at Port Huron

3/23 - Port Huron, Mich. – Crews are busily removing sand from the Lake Huron end of the Black River Canal in Port Huron.

Dave Smith, assistant city engineer, said workers have been using heavy machinery to dredge about 300 feet at the upper end of the canal, which flows for about a mile from the lake to the Black River. He said work began Monday morning and should wrap up Friday.

With temperatures in the 80s Wednesday, sunbathers flocked to nearby Lakeside Beach as well as the beach at the foot of Krafft Road. Until the dredging is complete, boaters cannot resume using the swift-flowing canal.

Over the past year, Smith said, wind and waves have formed a sandbar at the spot where the canal leaves the lake. It is not unusual, Smith said, and the city often dredges the canal in springtime.

The 101-year-old canal originally was dug to flush the lower reaches of the Black River, an open sewer at the time, with fresh water from Lake Huron. Smith said the city hasn’t dredged the canal since the spring of 2010.

The city has a contract with Torello Demolition of Port Huron Township for the job. Smith anticipated the project would cost between $30,000 to $40,000, depending on how much sand needs to be removed.

Port Huron Times Herald


Familiar salties sold for scrap, Marine News reports

3/23 - Marine News, the monthly journal of the World Ship Society, reports the following Seaway salties, as well as one laker, going for scrap in its March 2012 issue.

Arwex arrived at Alang, India, on January 9, 2012, and was beached January 14. It first visited the Great Lakes as b) Kapitonas Chromcov in April 1994, bringing steel to Cleveland, Detroit and Chicago.

Asean Sea 01 arrived at Gadani Beach, Pakistan, on January 9, 2012. It first visited the Great Lakes as Gema Phosphate in 1987 and returned as b) Kavo Yerakas in 1990. The ship was under a fifth name and Panamanian registry when it was sold for scrap.

Canadian Leader, a) Feux-Follets, operated on the Great Lakes from 1967 to 2009 for Papachristidis and Upper Lakes Shipping. It was towed to the scrapyard of Marine Recycling Corp. in Port Colborne on November 7, 2010.

ETE, an abbreviated name, had passed through the Seaway when new as LT Odyssey beginning in 1984, returning as b) Millenium Osprey in 1998 and as c) KENT in 2002. It last sailed as e) Aetea Sierra and it appears most of the letters had been painted out when it arrived at Aliaga, Turkey, as f) ETE on January 18, 2012.

Green Line was brought ashore at Gadani Beach, Pakistan, on December 18, 2011. It had been a Seaway trader when new as NIN in 1978.

Ikarous arrived at Alang, India, on January 25, 2012. It had been built in 1978 as Alida Smits and first came inland in 1979. Renamed b) Alidon in 1992, it came through the Seaway for the first time in 1995. While it had an additional four names, it never returned to our inland lakes.

Kathryn Spirit arrived at Beauharnois, QC, under tow, on August 26, 2011. The ship first visited the Great Lakes as b) Menominee in 1997 and was a regular trader to our shores. It was sold to McKeil Marine and registered in Canada as c) Kathryn Spirit in 2006 but had been laid up at Sorel when sold for scrap.

Kefah H. arrived at Alang, India, on December 31, 2011, and was beached on January 9, 2012. This vessel was built as Frank Schroder in 1976 and operated on charter to Quebec & Ontario Transportation carrying newsprint out of Baie Comeau south to Atlantic seaboard ports in the U.S.A. The ship also went overseas on occasion and came to the Great Lakes in 1979. It was under its seventh name and registered in Cambodia when it went to the scrapyard.

Lade, another apparent abbreviated rename, first came to the Great Lakes as Sea Fortune in 1983. It returned as b) MISS ALIKI first appearing in 1986 and made numerous trips as c) Aurora Topaz beginning in 1995. It became d) Kyklades in 2006 and e) LADE in 2012 but did not come to the Great Lakes. Following a sale to Turkish shipbreakers, the vessel arrived at Aliaga on January 20, 2012, for dismantling.

Lady Chiara came to the Great Lakes as a) Robert Maersk in 1988. This tanker was under its sixth name when it was beached at Alang, India, for scrapping on December 29, 2011.

Myra never came to the Great Lakes but had been a frequent trader under four previous names. It first appeared in the Seaway in 1981 as a) Milos Island and returned as b) Majestic in 1989 and was renamed c) Clipper Majestic at Toronto. The ship caught fire off the coast of Peru and was abandoned by the crew on December 12, 1990, but was reboarded and repaired. It returned again as d) Millenium Majestic in 1999 and became MYRA in 2002. It was beached at Alang, India, for scrapping on January 6, 2012.

We acknowledge the annual publication Seaway Salties, compiled by Rene Beauchamp, as an excellent resource and it has provided us with the years that the above ships first came to the Great Lakes.

Barry Andersen, Skip Gillham


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.


Port Reports -  March 22

Marquette, Mich. - Rod Burdick
John G. Munson arrived and opened the Lower Harbor for the 2012-2013 shipping season on Wednesday afternoon with western coal from Superior for the Shiras Dock. Her forward boom allows for bow-in docking.

Cheboygan, Mich. - Brent Michaels
The USCGC Mackinaw returned to Cheboygan last night several days ahead of the opening of the Soo Locks. In years past Mackinaw has always locked through and made a track from the locks to Whitefish Point several days before the opening of the locks. It appears this year there isn't enough ice to warrant keeping Mackinaw in the Soo. This will give Mackinaw extra time to get ready to starting setting her buoys for the navigation season.

Sandusky, Ohio - Jim Spencer and Denny Dushane
The Rt. Hon. Paul J. Martin was loading Wednesday afternoon at the NorfolkSouthern coal Dock on Sandusky Bay. Her arrival, from winter lay-up at Port Colborne, Ont., marked the resumption of the 2012 shipping season, which the Martin had closed in January.

Algoma Progress sailed from Port Colborne Wednesday and was posted for a Thursday morning arrival at the coal dock. Unlike many Great Lakes ports, Sandusky no longer ceremonially marks the opening of the shipping season.

Erie, Pa. - Jeffrey Benson
Manitowoc is out of the graving dock at Donjon freshly painted, and Calumet is now in the graving dock for inspection and bottom work. Work continues on the Ken Boothe Sr. and Lakes Contender, getting the tug and barge ready for service after an early April christening.

Hamilton, Ont. - Eric Holmes
Wednesday, Cuyahoga departed winter layup at Pier 10-7 and went to Pier 26 North which had been vacated by Algoma Spirit. The tug Sea Eagle II and barge St. Marys Cement II departed winter lay up for Bowmanville at 7 a.m.


Fednav adds new build Federal Sutton to fleet

3/22 - Montreal, Que. – Fednav Limited of Montreal recently added another new vessel to its fleet. Federal Sutton is 190 meters in length with a beam of 28.3 meters and is a sister ship to two earlier vessels – Federal Sable and Federal Skeena – that were built at the Ouhua Shipbuilding Co. Ltd. of China.

Federal Sutton is the third new boat for Fednav in a series of 15 new vessels commissioned from Japanese and Chinese shipyards. The fleet has ordered eight ice-class vessels including Federal Sable, Federal Skeena and Federal Sutton, all 37,200 DWT, from the Ouhua Shipyard, to be delivered in 2012.

In addition, Fednav has also ordered four new 55,000 DWT bulk carriers for its long-standing Japanese partners, Sumitomo Corporation and Oshima Shipyard. These ships were designed to navigate ice in winter places like the St. Lawrence, and will be delivered between 2012 and 2014. Finally, the company will also acquire three bulk carriers of 35,300 DWT from Oshima that will be in operation in 2012 and 2015. These ships will represent and investment of over $400 million for Fednav.

Denny Dushane


Coast Guard cutter heads home after assisting with 2011-12 icebreaking season

3/22 - Cleveland, Ohio – The U.S. Coast Guard cutter Thunder Bay departed Cleveland Wednesday afternoon to return to the cutter's original homeport of Rockland, Maine, after spending the winter breaking ice on the Great Lakes.

Rear Adm. Michael Parks, commander of the 9th Coast Guard District, presided over a brief ceremony Wednesday to thank the crewmembers for their efforts.

“Even though there was less ice this year than anticipated, I’m very grateful for the extra assistance the Thunder Bay crewmembers provided their Great Lakes shipmates this winter,” said Parks. “It was a privilege to have the Thunder Bay here, and I wish the crew a safe voyage home.”

The 140-foot ice-breaking tug was temporarily assigned to the Great Lakes to augment the eight other Great Lakes-based icebreakers during Operation Taconite, a major Great Lakes ice-breaking operation.

The crew of the CGC Thunder Bay arrived in Cleveland on Dec. 12, 2011, and spent the ice-breaking season operating in the northern Great Lakes due to diminished ice conditions in the southern regions. The cutter did experience unforeseen mechanical problems, but Maintenance Augmentation Team Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. provided mechanical support, for which the Thunder Bay crew thanked the crew of MAT Sault Ste. Marie.

The crew participated alongside other Coast Guard icebreakers in operations that facilitated the safe navigation of vessels and cleared paths for more than 67 commercial freighters. The cutter spent more than 175 hours breaking Great Lakes ice, keeping tracks and channels open for navigation. The crew spent 11 hours in direct support of five vessels beset by ice. Overall, their efforts contributed to the safe transit of more than 160,000 tons of cargo, valued at more than $5 million.

"Although this winter was not statistically important, the region's intermodal transportation system was hindered by ice," said Mark Gill, of Coast Guard Sector Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. Vessel Traffic Service. "Coast Guard Cutter Thunder Bay was one of eight cutters to support Operation Taconite, and the crew's service greatly enhanced the Coast Guard's mission performance."


Soo Locks park to stay open late for first boat

3/22 - The Soo Locks park normally closes at 6 p.m. this time of the year. However, this Saturday the park will re-open at 11 p.m. and stay open until 1 a.m. on Sunday, for those who wish to watch the first vessel of the season lock through.


Updates -  March 22

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.

1973 The Swedish built NORSE VARIANT first came to the Great Lakes in 1965 just after completion. On March 22, 1973, the vessel was en route from Norfolk, VA to Hamburg, Germany, with a cargo of coal when it ran into an early spring storm with 40 foot waves southeast of Cape May, NJ. The vessel was overwhelmed and sank with the loss of 29 lives. Only one man survived.

2006 The Collingwood built Canadian Coast Guard ship SIR WILFRID LAURIER came to the rescue of those aboard the passenger ship QUEEN OF THE NORTH when the latter sank with the loss of two lives off the coast of British Columbia.

Data from: Skip Gillham, 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

Twin Ports - Al Miller
John G. Munson left its layup berth in Fraser Shipyards on Tuesday and loaded coal at Midwest Energy Terminal in Superior for delivery to Marquette.

Goderich, Ont.
Capt. Henry Jackman loaded salt on Tuesday for South Chicago. She departed that evening as the Algomarine arrived to load.

Sarnia, Ont.
CSL Laurentien departed winter lay-up on Tuesday, heading downbound to load in Windsor.

Cleveland, Ohio
Buffalo departed winter lay-up Tuesday night, heading westbound on Lake Erie.

Welland Canal - John Kees
The Rt. Hon Paul J. Martin left its lay-up berth in the Welland Canal in Port Colborne on Tuesday. Because it had sailed from Lake Erie to its berth last year, it had to reverse thru Bridge 21 and out past several other ships moored in the other harbor to get to Lake Erie. These included a couple of ships at Marine Savage as well as the Canadian Coast Guard ship Griffon, moored on the east wall. Some of the other ships were showing signs of sailing in the next few days. This was the first ship to sail from Port Colborne for the 2012 shipping season.

Hamilton, Ont. - Wally Wallace and Eric Holmes
On Tuesday, Mississagi departed winter lay up from Pier 11W in heavy fog. She passed through the canal and passed into the lake at 4:15 p.m. The same day, the tugs Molly M1 and Vigilant 1 moved Algoma Spirit from Pier 26 North and rafted her to Algoma Discovery at Pier 26 South. She is scheduled to depart on March 27 or 28.

Birchglen has departed Quebec City lay-up for Port-Cartier. Saguenay has left Montreal lay-up for Sorel and Algobay for Seven Islands.


Seaway officials applaud new Coast Guard ballast rules

3/21 - St. Lawrence Seaway officials on Monday applauded the U.S. Coast Guard’s final ballast water treatment regulation, a stark contrast to the heavy criticism the rule received last week from area environmentalists.

“The rule not only provides robust protection for the environment, but also preserves the 227,000 jobs that depend on maritime commerce in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway system,” St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corp. spokeswoman Nancy T. Alcalde said in a news release.

Upon its announcement Friday, the new ballast rule was attacked by groups such as Save the River, Clayton, for adopting the International Maritime Organization’s “weak” ballast discharge standards.

Ballast is water carried in tanks to stabilize ocean vessels in transit. Ships entering U.S. waters are required now only to flush or rinse these tanks at sea, but the Coast Guard’s new rule would have ship operators install water management systems that would kill living organisms in ballast tanks with ultraviolet radiation or Coast Guard-approved chemicals, among other treatment options.

The state of New York had adopted and then backed away from a set of rules that proposed living organism limits 100 times or 1,000 times more stringent than the IMO standards.

Along with the shipping industry and the Canadian government, the Seaway for years has fought New York’s tough, “scientifically unachievable” ballast rules in favor of a more “reasonable” discharge limit.

Watertown Daily Times


Doug Austin: Helped develop Vantage Point, BoatNerd

3/21 - Port Huron, Mich. – Douglas R. Austin of the Port Huron area, age 70, died March 18 at his home surrounded by his family. Doug was instrumental in the Vantage Point development on Port Huron’s waterfront and was instrumental in helping organize BoatNerd as a 501 (c) (3) non-profit group.

Being active and involved in his community was very important to him. Doug Austin was the financial advisory and visionary leading the efforts of Acheson Ventures and the Acheson Foundation on behalf of Jim Acheson. He planted the seed for the philanthropic efforts of many different organizations in the Blue Water Area. He liked anything that would spark others to engage. He loved the fun and togetherness of the water by Boston Whaler or around the pool or beach. Even as a self-described day-dreamer, Doug loved planning and spreadsheets. From raspberry tending to projects of any kind, he took his ideas and made them happen. As a voracious reader and armchair political analyst, Doug felt anything was possible, even if you had to "build it 100 feet at a time."

He was born June 7, 1941 in Detroit to Douglas H. and Mary Austin. He graduated from the University of Michigan in 1965 with a B.B.A. in Accounting. In 1968 he passed the State of Michigan CPA examination, and in 1971 received a Juris Doctorate Degree from Wayne State University. He moved to the Blue Water area in the mid 1960s and worked with the Ernst & Ernst Accounting firm as an auditor, and later a tax specialist. In 1968, he became a sole practitioner, and later formed a partnership which became Linscheid, Austin, and Niester, P.C. In February 2001, he created the firm of Austin, Niester, Schweihofer & Finnegan, PC.

A funeral service will take place at 11 a.m. Thursday in the Smith Family Funeral Home - North, 1525 Hancock St., Port Huron, with Mary Ann Stackpoole officiating. A graveside committal service will follow in Lakeside Cemetery. Memorial Contributions may be made to the Community Foundation of St. Clair County – Maritime Fund.


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.

1959 The retired sidewheel steamer WESTERN STATES, known now as S.S. OVERNIGHTER, caught fire while waiting to be scrapped in 1959. The vessel had last sailed in 1950 and had briefly served as a Flotel at Tawas, MI before being sold for scrap. Final demolition of the hull was completed at Bay City later in the year.

1970 The West German freighter WILHELM NUBEL made one trip through the Seaway in 1959. It sustained machinery failure as c) SAN GERASSIMOS following an engine room fire on this date in 1970. The vessel was traveling from Galatz, Romania, to Lisbon, Portugal, with a cargo of maize and had to be abandoned by the crew. While taken in tow by the tanker STAVROS E., the ship sank in heavy weather in the Ionian Sea.

1998 Three crew members were killed by phosphine gas when they went to assess flooding damage in #1 hold after the MARIA A. encountered heavy weather on the South Atlantic. The ship, en route from Argentina to Jordan with wheat, put into Paranagua, Brazil, knowing they needed repairs when the men died on this day in 1998. The ship had been a Seaway caller as RIGHTEOUS beginning in 1979 and as AFSAR in 1986. While renamed ARIA later in 1998, the British built bulk carrier was never repaired and was either scuttled or scrapped.

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


Port Reports -  March 20

Twin Ports - Al Miller and Ed Labernik
The Mesabi Miner not only opened the 2012 shipping season on Friday, it was also the first vessel to enter Duluth for the new season on Monday. Mesabi Miner departed Duluth on March 16 with low- sulfur western coal loaded at Superior Midwest Energy Terminal, downbound for the Presque Isle generating plant at Marquette. She returned on Monday from Marquette and then began loading again at SMET destined for the power plant in Taconite Harbor. John G. Munson is expected at the dock Tuesday to load coal for the Shiras power plant in Marquette. The Miner is due back at the terminal on Wednesday to take on another load for the Presque Isle plant near Marquette. What is likely to be the Twin Ports' first arriving vessel that wasn't part of the layup fleet is Birchglen, which is due at Midwest Energy Terminal on Friday to load a cargo bound for Quebec.

Muskegon, Mich. - Mark Taylor
Undaunted and barge Pere Marquette 41 were at the B.C. Cobb power plant on Monday to load fly ash for Charlevoix.

Oswego, N.Y. - Ned Goebricher
Oswego’s harbor was opened for 2012 on Monday when Stephen B. Roman delivered a load of cement, marking an early start to the season.

Seaway - René Beauchamp
The first vessel to leave Montreal after the winter was the general cargo ship Umiavut on March 17, bound for Shelburne, N.S. She was followed the same day by Thalassa Desgagnés, shifting to another berth to load cargo for Port Cartier. During the night of March 18/19, Algoma Mariner left for Seven Islands. The roster of salties expected in the Seaway during the first days of navigation continues to grow almost daily. Three vessels operated by Nordic Tankers are amongst them, Harbour Legend, Harbour Leader and Harbour First, the other ones being Fednav's Federal Welland and Canfornav's Barnacle.


Great Lakes marine radio frequency to change for fog signals

3/20 - Duluth, Minn. – Beginning July 1, mariners must use a new marine radio frequency to activate fog signals on navigable waterways of the Great Lakes.

Since the 1990s, mariners encountering decreased visibility have been able to activate fog signals on certain aids-to-navigation by tuning their marine radios to VHF-FM channel 79A (156.975 MHz) and keying their microphone five times. Beginning July 1, mariners must use channel 83A (157.175 MHz). Until July 1, the Coast Guard advised mariners to use both channels to activate fog signals.

The change in channels is being made to shift radio traffic from channel 79A, a commercial channel, to channel 83A, a frequency owned and operated by the Coast Guard.

Duluth News Tribune


Pelee Islander to undergo repairs at Great Lakes Shipyard

3/20 - Cleveland, Ohio – The ferry Pelee Islander will become second Canadian-flag vessel to undergo repairs at the Great Lakes Shipyard in Cleveland this year. The Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO) has awarded a contract for the five-year drydocking of the vessel, which will arrive at Great Lakes Shipyard in early April and will be hauled-out using the shipyard’s new, 700-metric ton Marine Travelift. Work will include hull inspection and painting; propeller, shaft, and rudder inspection; steel work; and other routine maintenance.

The Pelee Islander, a passenger ferry operated by Owen Sound Transportation Company, provides transportation services between Kingsville, Leamington and Pelee Island, Ontario, and Sandusky, Ohio. The contract for repairs of the Pelee Islander marks the second Canadian-flag vessel repair project at Great Lakes Shipyard. The shipyard’s recently-completed projects include winter layup, steel work and winch installation on McKeil Marine’s tug and barge John Spence and Niagara Spirit, the shipyard’s first repair contract with a Canadian flag operator; and the construction and delivery of a work boat for the Port of Milwaukee, Wis. The company is currently under contracts with SEACOR Holdings Inc. for the construction of two state-of-the-art ASD tractor tugs.

Great Lakes Group


Vanished shipwreck’s secret revealed

3/20 - Cleveland, Ohio – Twice during its 122-year history, the C.B. Lockwood has been swallowed up by Lake Erie. On course from Duluth, Minn., to Buffalo and battling the fury of an October storm, the 285-foot wooden steamer first sank in 1902, crashing more than 70 feet below the waves just east of Cleveland.

The location of the Lockwood was not a mystery. With one look at historical data, its exact location — 13½ miles north by northwest off Fairport Harbor — easily can be found. But despite being armed with a figurative “X marks the spot,” shipwreck hunters have for decades been stumped by the empty expanse of Lake Erie muck where the Lockwood should be.

Until now. More than a century after its sinking and with the use of sophisticated equipment, researchers recently determined that the Lockwood never moved, it simply sank again.

“It sank twice, once to the bottom and once below the bottom,” said shipwreck hunter David VanZandt, the director and chief archaeologist for the Cleveland Underwater Explorers, or CLUE, who discovered the twice-sunken ship.

“The entire ship was under the lake bottom,” he said. “The lake swallowed up a 300-foot wreck.” But how?

What is known about the Lockwood has been learned through newspaper articles and maritime records. Launched from Cleveland on June 25, 1890, the Lockwood was at the time the largest wooden steamer on the lakes and the first lake propeller ship to measure 45 feet in width.

According to records provided by CLUE, the Lockwood broke a Sault Ste. Marie-to-Duluth speed record one year after its launch. But it sailed for only a dozen years when it came across bad weather while hauling a cargo of flaxseed.

The ship sank on Oct. 13, 1902, forcing its crew into two lifeboats. One boat made it to shore, the other did not. Ten crew members died.

Within days of its sinking, the Lockwood was found and charted. Within weeks, the wreck was marked with buoys. But yet, decades later, scuba divers can find only a few empty lifeboat cranes and some strange markings in the muck when they go to the site.

“The difficulty about it [is] we had excellent location information,” said CLUE chief researcher Jim Paskert, who began looking for the Lockwood in the mid-80s. “We redid the map and checked all the information, and ‘Boy, this is where it should be, and we’re here, and there’s nothing here.’?”

That is, until the group was given access to a subbottom profiler — a device that penetrates the seabed to highlight seismic structural differences and layers that are hidden from view. Using the technology, the group discovered that in fact a structure was there — about 285 feet long and 45 feet wide.

The theory that the Lockwood sank below the lake bottom was born through a chance meeting with an archaeologist who was researching beached ships that were sinking below the sand. Mr. VanZandt said that the process occurs during seismic geological events, most often earthquakes, and is called liquefaction.

Think of it as a jar of sand with a marble on top, Mr. Paskert explained. When the jar is shaken, the sand shifts, forming air pockets, and the marble sinks.

Research of Ohio earthquakes showed that the Lake Erie basin has experienced several — most of them occurring under the lake in the northeast corner of the state.

The team coupled that information with the fact that a dive to the Lockwood site with a 10-foot pole showed that the lake bottom, although flat, was not solid. Instead, the glaciers that formed the Great Lakes must have left a valley in the floor that was covered up with the hundreds of years of sediment collecting in Lake Erie.

The Lockwood, they hypothesized, sank right into one of those valleys.

The discovery of the Lockwood’s fate has opened a new possibility to those studying Great Lakes history, said Chris Gillcrist, executive director of the Great Lakes Historical Society.

The nonprofit society, which is slated to open its maritime museum in Toledo in May 2013, supports the efforts of groups such as CLUE through help in funding searches, Mr. Gillcrist said. And now with the knowledge that some shipwrecks can be swallowed up by the lake bottom, researchers have another possibility to consider when seeking out their next target.

“Nobody has done this type of scientific study of a wreck on the Great Lakes, ever,” Mr. Gillcrist said of the scientific theory of liquefaction. “We don’t have any evidence of this happening on the western basin [near Toledo].”

The Lockwood is just one of the thousands of shipwrecks that litter the floors of the five Great Lakes. In Lake Erie alone, hundreds have been found and hundreds more are waiting to be discovered.

Paul LaMarre III, manager of maritime affairs for the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority, noted the important role of the Great Lakes in the creation of Toledo, which began as a port. He said continued research and discovery in the lakes only further proves their importance in national and maritime history.

“The Great Lakes provide such a sensational platform for shipwreck [scuba] diving and research,” he said. “There’s nowhere else in the world that ships of this size sail or have sailed on freshwater. Because of that, the ships are better preserved than anywhere else in the world, depending on the depth.”

CLUE, a nonprofit group of divers, historians, and archaeologists, has shared its findings on the Lockwood in presentations across the Great Lakes.

Recently, the disappearance of the Lockwood was the focus of at the Association for Great Lakes Maritime History’s 27th annual conference in Toledo. The group’s Web site is

And in each of their presentations, members of the shipwreck hunting team offer something they are not usually quick to reveal — the exact coordinates of the ship’s final resting place, N 41 56.480 W 81 23.510. You can go to the ship, they offer, but there isn’t much to see.

“This is the first time I’ll tell you exactly where it is,” Mr. VanZandt said. Toledo Blade


200 grams of cyanide discovered in former ship owner Stivers' home

3/20 - Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. – The bizarre case of Scotlund Stivers took another turn last Friday when authorities executed a search warrant at his Soo Township residence and discovered 200 grams of sodium cyanide and approximately two dozen firearms.

As the owner of three derelict vessels in Lake Huron's Duncan Bay near Cheboygan, Stivers was sentenced last week to 30 days in jail and ordered to pay more than $24,000 in restitution, according to the Cheboygan Daily Tribune. Stivers had pleaded guilty to three misdemeanors and one felony in Cheboygan County's 53rd Circuit Court in connection with oil leakage from the sunken vessels. Immediately after sentencing, Stivers attempted to take his own life by attempting to swallow some sodium cyanide he had smuggled into the courtroom.

Chippewa County Sheriff Robert Savoie said Cheboygan County Sheriff Dale Clarmont contacted him on Wednesday regarding this matter.

"We put a deputy up there 24 hours a day," said Savoie of the surveillance done at the Soo Township residence. "We developed information that he may have been manufacturing (the sodium cyanide) and we sought a search warrant."

Admitting he did not have the personnel or the resources to conduct this investigation, Savoie contacted the Chippewa County Health Department for direction before sending his deputies inside. Chippewa County Health Officer Dave Martin spoke with state officials regarding the potential hazards inside the structure leading to another call to the Environmental Protection Agency in Washington D.C.

"That in turn set things in motion," said Martin. "The EPA sent their team out and apparently deemed this a high priority."

Federal, state and local officials convened here in the Sault on Friday morning before executing the search warrant on Stivers' apartment.

Martin said .25 milligrams of sodium cyanide is considered lethal and with approximately 200 grams in the apartment there was enough of the deadly material to kill hundreds of thousands of people.

Soo Evening News


Sault Ste. Marie Planning many events for June

3/20 - June 23 the Great Race is a cross-country rally that pits driver/navigator teams, of antique vehicles, against the clock and against each other. This year’s event will be around the Great Lakes, covering 19 cities, 2 countries and 4 states. Entrants will participate in a timed, controlled-speed, endurance competition over scenic public highways and roads. The scores for each team are the result of a team’s ability to follow all designated course instructions precisely. The first car is expected to arrive in Sault Ste. Marie around 5 p.m. and another car will arrive each minute for the following hour and a half. The cars will remain parked on East Water Street to allow spectators to visit with the participants and to look at the cars. It is common for kids to climb in the cars for a first-hand look. The racers will stay the night and set off through Canada Sunday morning.

Soo Locks Engineers Day - A Michigan landmark will open its doors to the public, when the Soo Locks hosts its annual open house Soo Locks Engineers Day on Friday June 29, 2012. The day celebrates the engineers who built the Soo Locks along with the men and women of the past and present who maintain the Locks.

Annual Boatnerd Freighter Chasing Cruise will again 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 25. 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. See the Boatnerd Gathering page for details.

Cloverland Electric Hydro Electric Plant - The Historical Hydro Electric Plant Powerhouse will be open for tours June 29, 2012, 9 AM TO 6 PM. Visit this historic building. The construction of the landmark hydroelectric plant facility was completed in 1902. At the time of completion, the plant was the second largest hydro facility next to Niagara Falls.

The Great Tugboat Parade thru the American and Canadian locks will take place on Friday, June 29, 2012 at 6:30 p.m. and can be seen from both sides (American and Canadian) of the St. Mary's River.

On Top of the World at the International Bridge Walk - On June 30, 2012 you may walk one of the most picturesque 2.8 mile walks across the Innternational Bridge, beginning at te LSSU Norris Center. Bus transportation is available to bring walkers from Ontario to the starting point or, afterward, return those with vehicles waiting to the Norris Center for a small fee of $2.

The Great Tugboat Race will take place on Saturday, June 30, 2012 at Noon-2pm. The best place to view the race is at the James A. Alfred Park next to the Cloverland Electric Hydro Electric Plant.

Pancake Breakfast aboard the barge Nostalgia - Sunday July 1st, and Monday July 2nd, 2012, 7:00AM-11:00AM The pancake barge Nostalgie will be located at the George Kemp Marina in Sault Ste Marie,MI.


Updates -  March 20

Weekly Website Updates
News Photo Gallery


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.

1938 A fire of an undetermined cause destroyed the passenger steamer CITY OF BUFFALO while it was fitting out for the 1938 season at the East 9th St. Pier in Cleveland. The blaze began late the previous day and 11 fire companies responded. The nearby CITY OF ERIE escaped the flames, as did the SEEANDBEE.

2011 The Indian freighter APJ ANJLI was built in 1982 and began visiting the Great Lakes in 1990. It was sailing as c) MIRACH, and loaded with 25,842 tons of iron ore, when it ran aground 3 miles off the coast of India on March 20, 2011. Four holds were flooded and the crew of 25 was removed. The hull subsequently broke in two and was a total loss.

Data from: Skip Gillham, 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 19

Marquette, Mich. – Rod Burdick
Mesabi Miner departed the Upper Harbor after unloading coal on an unseasonaby warm late winter Sunday afternoon.

Cleveland, Ohio - Jake Kniola
The Alpena unloaded cement at Cleveland's Lafarge Terminal at 9:30 p.m. Saturday night and then left at 11:30 a.m. Sunday for Toledo.

Quebec, Que.
The port of Quebec vessel passages Web site has the John J. Boland due in on April 9. She is due to unload her cargo at Section 53, which usually handles ore cargoes from Canadian vessels. The Web site has a large number of vessels due with ore in the early weeks of the shipping season, however the Boland is the only U.S.-flag laker on the list so far. She is currently laid up for the winter at Fraser Shipyard in Superior, Wis.

Atlantic Erie departed Quebec City Saturday for Halifax. Thalassa Desgagnés departed Montreal Sunday afternoon for the East coast. Algoma Mariner was departing Montreal Sunday night for Seven Islands, where she will load iron ore for the lakes

Atlantic Huron is due in Quebec City for maintenance, while the Atlantic Superior is back in the Seven Islands iron ore shuttle.


St. Marys River icebreaking operations begin

3/19 - Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. – On Thursday afternoon, the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Mackinaw headed upbound on the St. Marys River, and arrived in Soo Harbor Sunday afternoon. Beginning this week, icebreaking operations will extend from Whitefish Bay to DeTour. The U.S. Coast Guard intends to break ice in the lower end of the West Neebish Channel from the Mud Lake Junction Buoy to Sawmill Point beginning Sunday, March 18, and will open the entire West Neebish Channel (above the Neebish Island Ferry Crossing) on Thursday, March 22.

Sault Ste. Marie Evening News


2012 edition of “Know Your Ships” guide greets new shipping season

3/19 - - "How big is that boat?" "Where is it from?" "Who owns it?" Find the answers to those questions, and more, in Know Your Ships 2012," the popular annual field guide to boats and boatwatching on the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway, now available.

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 more.

The book, now in its 53rd 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. This year’s cover image shows the Manitoba on one of her first trips under that name.

Editor / publisher Roger LeLievre, as well as members of the Know Your Ships crew, will also be on hand to autograph copies Saturday, April 14 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.

Preview at


The Port of Hamilton: A $6-billion economic machine hits 100

3/19 - Hamilton, Ont. – When the first ship sails into Hamilton Harbour at the end of this month, it will mark the 100th anniversary of the city’s port. It is no accident that the port opened within a few years of the first steel mill. Today, it generates $5.9 billion in economic activity annually and handles more than 11 million tonnes of cargo, from iron ore and coal to fuel, grain and automobile parts – nearly a quarter of all cargo bound for other Canadian Great Lake ports.

In terms of tonnage, Hamilton’s port is the fifth biggest on the Great Lakes, but if you consider truck and train traffic, it draws top spot.

Roughly 700 ships pass through each year. The majority arrive from other Great Lake ports, but international freighters regularly call in from as far away as Egypt and Estonia.

It’s not all business, however. About 500 pleasure craft call Hamilton Harbour home, with four marinas in Hamilton and one in Burlington.

Although the port has spent $25 million in the last five years modernizing warehousing and dock facilities, it continues to grapple with two stubborn problems. Randle Reef remains the most toxic hotspot on the Canadian side of the Great Lakes despite a decade of promises to clean it up. Economically, Hamilton struggles with a persistent trade deficit — the port brings in nine times more cargo than it ships out.

History of the Harbor 1823 - A canal is cut through the beach strip, allowing commercial steamers access to Burlington Bay.
1854 - The Great Western Railway links Hamilton, Niagara Falls and Windsor. Commercial traffic jumps and the city’s population of 30,000 doubles by the turn of the century.
1896 - Local businessmen lobby to bring hydroelectric power to Hamilton. Industry booms and “the Electric City” soon outstrips rival Dundas.
1910 - The Steel Company of Canada – later Stelco – is founded. It is joined on the waterfront by Dominion Steel – later Dofasco – in 1912.
1912 - The federal government creates the Hamilton Harbour Commissioners to take over administration from the city.
1920s - Widening and deepening of the Burlington Canal to accommodate large ships results in a doubling of harbour tonnage from 1929 to 1934.
1932 - The Welland Ship Canal opens.
1940s - Waterfront reclamation and construction of massive brick warehouses make Hamilton Lake Ontario’s primary port.
1959 - The St. Lawrence Seaway opens. Hamilton is briefly the busiest Great Lakes port in terms of cargo tonnage.
1975 - The Hamilton dredging scandal: Harbour Commissioner Ken Elliott is convicted for accepting kickbacks from harbour-dredging contracts.
2000 - Federal legislation creates the Hamilton Port Authority to replace the Harbour Commissioners as commercial manager of the port.

The Hamilton Spectator


Coast Guard sets ballast cleansing requirements

3/19 - Traverse City, Mich. – Oceangoing cargo ships will be required to zap their ballast water with ultraviolet light, chemicals or other treatments before dumping it in U.S. waters under a regulation the Coast Guard announced Friday to prevent species invasions that damage the environment and cause billions in economic losses.

The long-awaited rule comes more than two decades after environmental groups began pushing for a crackdown on ballast water, which provides stability in rough seas but often harbors stowaway species from abroad. When the soupy mixtures of water and sediment are discharged in U.S. ports, the newcomers can spread rapidly, starve out native competitors and spread diseases.

Zebra and quagga mussels that hitched a ride to the Great Lakes from Europe in the 1980s have clogged water intake pipes, requiring expensive repairs, and are blamed for a Lake Huron salmon collapse and botulism that killed thousands of shore birds. Other invaders that arrived in ballast tanks include Asian clams in San Francisco Bay, Japanese shore crabs along the Atlantic coast and spotted jellyfish in the Gulf of Mexico.

"Once fully implemented, this ballast water discharge standard will significantly reduce the risk of an introduction of aquatic nuisance species into the Great Lakes," said Rear Adm. Michael Parks, commander of the Coast Guard's Cleveland district.

Under existing rules, shippers must exchange ballast at sea or flush the tanks with salt water if empty. But the Coast Guard acknowledged some organisms could survive in puddles of water and mud. For the first time, the new policy requires onboard treatment of ballast water to kill as many fish, mussels and even tiny microbes as possible.

"It's a major milestone and a starting point, but it's not nearly as strong as it should be," said Jennifer Nalbone of Great Lakes United, a U.S.-Canadian advocacy group.

The rule limits numbers of living organisms in particular volumes of water. Ships would have to install equipment to meet standards developed by the International Maritime Organization, an arm of the United Nations. Environmental groups contend the limits should be 100 or even 1,000 times tougher, but industry groups say no existing technology can do that.

A tentative version of the Coast Guard rule issued in 2009 called for starting with the international standard, then making it 1,000 times stronger by 2016. But the final regulation drops the second level in favor of more research.

The Coast Guard said it made the change after an Environmental Protection Agency study questioned the reliability of more stringent standards. EPA has proposed a separate ship discharge policy based on the international limits.

In a written statement, the Coast Guard said it "fully intends to issue a later rule that will establish a more stringent phase-two discharge standard."

Thom Cmar, an attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council, said the delay was a step backward.

"For them to say they'll get back in a couple of years with an analysis of whether a stronger standard is achievable is cold comfort after it's taken so long to finish this round of rulemaking," he said.

Cmar also criticized a decision to exempt ships that remain within the Great Lakes from the ballast standards. Environmentalists contend those ships carry invasive species around the lakes even if they weren't responsible for bringing them to the U.S. The Coast Guard said research is needed into whether existing ballast technology would work on vessels that never travel the oceans.

Shipping interests were unhappy the Coast Guard dropped an earlier provision exempting vessels fitted with ballast treatment systems from having to modify them if standards are toughened in the future.

But completion of the rule is mostly good news for ship owners who have delayed installing equipment until they knew what would be required, said Steve Fisher, executive director of the American Great Lakes Ports Association.

"This will create a huge international demand for ballast water treatment equipment," Fisher said. "Companies that manufacture it will be able to justify spending the money for mass production. The most viable and cost-effective systems will float to the top."

Associated Press


Vermilion harbor looks to dredge up support

3/19 - Vermilion, Ohio – It’s been about 10 years since Vermilion’s picturesque harbor was dredged. As is the case with many things these days, the time lapse has to do with a lack of money.

“We’re way overdue, but the problem generally is that by the time the (Army) Corps of Engineers gets through dredging commercial harbors, which come first, there’s usually no money left over to tackle recreational harbors like Vermilion,” said Bill McCarthy, Vermilion’s port operations manager.

McCarthy said small towns with recreational harbors would welcome any help in getting access to federal money intended for harbor maintenance. That help may come from the Great Lakes Small Harbors Coalition, an informal organization of more than 45 communities across the Great Lakes region that have and operate small harbors.

The group is now pushing for a grassroots effort by Great Lakes residents to phone, email or write letters to their congressional representatives to support an effort to steer some federal funds generated by taxes imposed on freighter cargo to maintain and improve harbors.

The language already has been approved in a bill before the U.S. Senate and will be considered by the U.S. House. Both bills are sponsored by U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich.

According to Dave Knight, a member of the Great Lakes Commission, which provides support for the coalition, more than $6 billion is in the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund — money collected from a federal tax on cargo transported in and out of major harbors aboard lake-going freighters.

But due to federal budget cuts in recent years, an as-yet undetermined portion of the $6 billion in the trust fund has been used elsewhere to plug holes in the federal budget.

“Harbors rely on that money for funding for dredging and other maintenance, but that activity has been totally underfunded nationally, and in the Great Lakes region, small harbors have a very low priority for the Corps of Engineers and recreational harbors for all intents and purposes aren’t even budgeted,” Knight said.

“This campaign (to ensure money for small harbor dredging) has been going on a good long time, but this is about as close to the goal line as we’ve ever been,” Knight said. “We’re trying to drum up as much support as we can.”

The longer small harbors go without dredging or other improvements, the more likely they are to be restricted to boating or even closed.

“We’re looking not only at having degraded navigational access, but some are actually thinking about closing,” Knight said, due to a gradual build-up of silt and other materials that wash down river.

Over time, silt buildup can make boating lanes unnavigable, McCarthy said.

“Vermilion is very typical of this situation,” Knight said.

The last time Vermilion had its harbor dredged, it cost about $350,000, which was paid through federal money, owing to the fact the Vermilion River’s waters from the Lake Erie breakwater to the Liberty Avenue Bridge are designated a federal navigation area, McCarthy said.

The Chronicle-Telegram


Locks Visitor’s Center to mark first boat next Monday

3/19 - The Soo Locks are scheduled to open at 12:01 a.m., March 25, and ship fans are invited to visit the Soo Locks Visitors Center on Monday, March 26, to celebrate the occasion. The doors will be open from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. It will be a great time to share pictures, videos, stories, and to go through the Center before the regular opening on Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 13, 2012. There will be snacks, coffee, and maybe a few ships locking through.

The Soo Locks Visitors Center Association


Updates -  March 19

Weekly Website Updates
News Photo Gallery


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.

1916 The canal-sized PORT DALHOUSIE saw only brief service on the Great Lakes. It was built in England as TYNEMOUNT in 1913 and came to Canada as PORT DALHOUSIE in 1914. It left for saltwater in 1915 and was torpedoed and sunk by UB-10 while carrying steel billets to Nantes, France. It went down March 19, 1916, south and west of the Kentish Knock Light vessel and 12 lives were lost.

1978 BELKARIN was a Norwegian cargo carrier that made one trip inland in 1963. It struck a sunken warship in Suez Bay on March 19, 1978, as c) NAHOST JUMBO and the engineroom was holed. The vessel, en route from Aqaba, Jordan, to Holland, settled in shallow water. The hull was refloated in January 1979 and sold for scrap.

1990 On March 19, an explosion in a container on board the Norwegian freighter POLLUX at La Baie, QC, killed two sailors, seriously injured a third as well as 7 Alcan dock employees. The ship made its first trip up the Seaway coming to to Port Weller Dry Docks May 18 for repairs. It was renamed there and left the lakes in August as d) NOMADIC POLLUX. This ship returned inland in 1997, 1998 and 1999 and was back as e) BALTICLAND in May 2004.

1993 An explosion and fire rocked the tanker SHIOKAZE in the North Sea en route to Rotterdam killing one member of the crew. The vessel had first been a Seaway trader in 1986 and returned in 1998 as DILMUN TERN bound for Hamilton with palm oil. It was scrapped, after 30 years of service, arriving at Alang, India, on June 14, 2010, as c) THERESA III.

2002 A hull crack of close to 13 feet was found on LAKE CARLING off Cape Breton Island while traveling from Sept-Iles to Trinidad with iron ore. Originally ZIEMIA CIESZYNSKA, the vessel first came to the Great Lakes in 1993 and was renamed LAKE CARLING at Chicago in October. The crack widened to 25 feet before the vessel could reach safety but the damage was repaired and it returned to service. The original name was restored in 2004 and the vessel was last on the lakes in 2009.

2003 A fire in the after end of the CALEDONIA on the Heddle Dry Dock in Hamilton was contained to one deck. The vessel was there for conversion to a sailing ship and the work was eventually completed. The ship had visited the Great Lakes as the coastal freighter PETREL in the late 1970s but was much more at home around Maritime Canada and Hudson Bay. As a sailing ship, it carries 77 passengers and visits Caribbean ports.

Data from: Skip Gillham, 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.


Port Reports -  March 18

Marquette, Mich. - Rod Burdick and Lee Rowe
Mesabi Miner arrived and opened the Upper Harbor for the 2012-2013 just before sunset on Saturday with a load of western coal from Superior. She last opened the Upper Harbor in 2008 on March 18.

Detroit, Mich. – Ken Borg
The steamer Alpena passed down the Detroit River Saturday with cement for Cleveland, Ohio.


Boatnerd 2012 Cruising/Gatherings Scheduled

Several cruises and gatherings have been planned by Great Lakes & Seaway Shipping ( for interested boat watchers during the 2012 season. Don't wait to make your reservations. Now is the time to make your summer travel plans.

June 8-9 – Badger Boatnerd Gathering Cruise A round-trip crossing of Lake Michigan, from Ludington, Michigan to Manitowoc, Wisconsin, aboard the Lake Michigan Carferry S/S Badger. On Friday night, June 3rd, 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. See the Boatnerd Gathering Page for complete details and sign up form.

June 28-30 - Engineer’s Weekend St. Marys River Cruise Arrangements have been made for the annual freighter-chasing cruise on the St. Marys River as part of the annual Engineer’s Day Gathering in Sault Ste. Marie. The cruise will be three hours and we will travel through the U.S. and Canadian Locks, doing our best to find photo opportunities for any traffic in the river. Reservations are a must as we are limiting the group to 100 persons. See the Gathering Page for details.

Keweenaw Star Boatnerd Cruise – July 13-15 We are sponsoring a three-day, two-night trip from Charlevoix to the Soo on July 13-15. 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 details. Call the Keweenaw Star at 231-237-9365 and make your reservation today. Limited space available.

August 4 - Detroit River/River Rouge Boatnerd Cruise On Saturday, August 4, we will repeat the popular Boatnerd Detroit River Cruise aboard the Friendship, with Captain Sam Buchanan. This year’s cruise will be four hours and will go up the Detroit River, and hopefully into the Rouge River. Pizza will be delivered by the J. W. Westcott mail boat. Reservations are a must as we are limiting the group to 100 persons. See the Gathering Page for details.

September 14-16 Annual Welland Canal Gathering Once again, Boatnerds will gather at the Welland Canal for socializing, sharing pictures, slides and videos, plus watching the passing traffic. We will also tour International Marine Salvage and see where boats go when they die. See the Gathering Page for details


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.

1923 ­ The wooden steamer JAMES P. DONALDSON was built in 1880 and often worked in the lumber trade. At the end, it was used by N.M. Paterson & Sons Ltd. to bring wet grain to the company elevator for drying. The ship caught fire at the Canadian Lakehead on this date and the remains were sunk off Isle Royale, Lake Superior, on May 6, 1923.

1991 ­ The Canadian Coast Guard ship GRIFFON collided with the fishing trawler CAPTAIN K. sinking it in Lake Erie. Three lives were lost.

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


Mesabi Miner begins Duluth shipping season

3/17 - Duluth, Minn. – Mesabi Miner departed from Midwest Energy Terminal but proceeded only to the Duluth port terminal, where it docked reportedly for conveyor belt work. A large crane was alongside the vessel at 7:30 Friday morning. By 2 p.m., the vessel was winding in the turning basin and preparing to leave port.

According to the Duluth News Tribune, the Miner's loading on Thursday was delayed when a bulldozer became trapped in the terminal's massive coal pile and the operator had to be rescued. Most departures from Twin Ports layup are expected to take place next week, with John G. Munson scheduled to leave Tuesday, Edwin H. Gott and Roger Blough due out Friday, and Walter J. McCarthy Jr. set to leave March 24.

Al Miller


Port Reports -  March 17

Green Bay, Wis.
Tug Samuel de Champlain and barge Innovation were inbound Green Bay Friday night with a cargo of cement to open the Port of Green Bay.


Great Lakes Shipyard completes repair on Canadian tug-barge

3/17 - Cleveland, Ohio – McKeil Marine of Hamilton, Ont., contracted Great Lakes Shipyard to provide winter layup and repair work on their tug and barge, John Spence and Niagara Spirit. The shipyard completed general steel work on both the tug and barge and installed a winch system for the cover of the Niagara Spirit.

The completion of this contract marks the first major repair contract that Great Lakes Shipyard has had with a Canadian company.

Great Lakes Shipyard, a division of The Great Lakes Towing Company, operates a full service shipyard specializing in new construction, repairs, and modifications of all types of vessels and barges. The shipyard’s other recent projects include conversion of the Z-drive thrusters on Interlake Steamship Company’s tug Dorothy Ann from fixed-pitch to controllable pitch and also the construction and delivery of a 60-foot work boat for the Port of Milwaukee, Wis. The shipyard is currently under contracts with SEACOR Holdings, Inc. for the construction of two state-of-the-art ASD tractor tugs.


Former ship owner remains hospitalized, under observation

3/17 - Cheboygan, Mich. – One day after an attempted suicide incident in Cheboygan Countys 53rd Circuit Courtroom, the man who attempted to swallow sodium cyanide has been hospitalized for treatment of mental and physical health issues.

Scotlund Stivers is still in the hospital, said Cheboygan County Sheriff Dale Clarmont, who determined that the 51-year-old Sault Ste. Marie man needed major help Wednesday after trying to take his own life following a court hearing that sentenced him to jail and forfeited his ownership to three derelict vessels abandoned in Duncan Bay since August 2010. Stivers must also pay more than $24,000 in restitution to the U.S. Coast Guard and the Department of Environmental Quality.

Cheboygan Daily News


Ceremony on March 22 to mark St. Lawrence Seaway opening

3/17 - Rob Bryson, Director of Eastern Canadian Grain Operations for Parrish and Heimbecker, and Donald Gallienne, Director, Finished Product Transportation Logistics for Aluminerie Alouette, will serve as keynote speakers at the opening of St. Lawrence Seaway’s 54th navigation season next Thursday at 10:30 a.m. at the St. Catharines Museum at Lock 3 (Welland Canal). The speakers will be sharing how marine transportation on the Seaway enables their firms to trade in a global economy.


Study to look at moving Milwaukee Clipper museum ship

3/17 - Muskegon, Mich. – Muskegon County commissioners, who are still considering a proposal to move the S.S. Milwaukee Clipper to Heritage Landing, agreed to a staff recommendation Thursday to have engineers complete a feasibility study.

The proposed docking of the historic Great Lakes passenger ferry along the east side of the county-owned park’s peninsula has generated a debate of competing arguments, some trumpeting the tourism potential and others criticizing the potential loss of Muskegon Lake views and access.

In approving the feasibility study, county commissioners made it clear in their motion that no action to move the ship to Heritage Landing is being “implied or suggested” at this time. The only cost to the county for the feasibility study is expected to be the staff time of its engineers.

Three Muskegon city residents spoke against the proposed relocation of the ship to Heritage Landing during the Community Development Committee meeting.

William Parker, who lives in the neighborhood that includes Heritage Landing, said the potential for blocking the public’s Muskegon Lake access and views make the proposed move not beneficial to the community. “It’s an insult to the community,” Parker said.

The S.S. Milwaukee Clipper Preservation Inc., a nonprofit group that has restored and created a museum with the vessel for public tours, proposed the move of the ship from its current “temporary” mooring at the Grand Trunk Dock. Supporters of the proposal say the move would provide a more visible location, increase the vessel’s value as a tourist attraction for the community and potentially share revenues with the county.

T.J. Parker, president of S.S. Milwaukee Clipper Preservation Inc., has said the west side of the Heritage Landing peninsula, toward the Muskegon Family YMCA, is a “perfect fit” for the Clipper, providing a highly-visible site with adequate depth to accommodate the vessel.

County Commissioner Scott Plummer previously raised concerns about docking the 361-foot-long, 50-foot-wide vessel on the west side of the peninsula, suggesting that placing it on east side wouldn't block as much of the view. The idea of the east side also has been suggested by others.

However, Kathy Evans, environmental manager for the West Michigan Shoreline Regional Development Commission, told commissioners that the recent shoreline restoration project in that area on the east side makes it unable to be dredged. Evans was at the meeting to give a presentation about another facet of the restoration project.

Plummer said he continues to favor a downtown location for the Clipper, but he is not fond of the Heritage Landing peninsula’s west side.

Some county commissioners have previously voiced their support for proposed docking of the Clipper at Heritage Landing, but no vote has been taken to allow the proposed move.

The Clipper must eventually move from its existing dock, owned by Andrie Inc., because the Muskegon-based marine transportation company will need its Muskegon Lake dock space.

The Clipper ferried passengers between Muskegon and Milwaukee from 1941-1970. After serving as a floating museum in Chicago and Hammond, Ind., the Clipper returned to Muskegon in 1997. Thousands of local volunteer hours were spent restoring the vessel.



Pacesetter award winners for 2011 navigation season named

3/17 - Washington, DC – The Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation (SLSDC) has announced the four winners of its prestigious Robert J. Lewis Pacesetter Award for the 2011 navigation season. This annual award is presented to U.S. Great Lakes ports that register an increase in international cargo tonnage shipped through the Seaway over the previous navigation season. The four ports that have won the Pacesetter Award for 2011 are:

Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority
Port of Green Bay
Port of Indiana – Burns Harbor
Port of Chicago

“The strong numbers realized last year by these Great Lakes ports represents a positive snapshot of the upward turn in U.S. trade as a good direction for the overall economy,” said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood. “Congratulations to the four ports on their robust shipping season and we look forward to another banner year for the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway System.”

SLSDC Administrator Collister Johnson, Jr. added that “The gains made in international cargo shipments last year bode well for the entire Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway System and indicate the key role that shipping continues to play in the overall economic recovery. All four of these ports have been past winners of the award since its inception in 1992 and we are pleased to recognize their outstanding performance again this year.”

Compared to the 2010 navigation season, in 2011, the Port of Green Bay realized a tonnage increase of 139 percent, the Port of Chicago reported a 21 percent increase, the Port of Cleveland saw a 10 percent increase, and the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor posted an increase of 5 percent.

The Pacesetter Awards will be presented to each of the winners by Administrator Johnson in the coming months.


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, Ohio. 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.

1906 SOVEREIGN, a steel hulled passenger ship that operated on the St. Lawrence in the Montreal area, was destroyed by a fire at Lachine, QC. The vessel was rebuilt that year as IMPERIAL and remained in service until 1928 when the boilers and hull were condemned.

1916 CITY OF MIDLAND, a passenger and freight steamer for Canada Steamship Lines, caught fire at the Grant Trunk Railway Dock in Collingwood and was a total loss.

1973 A wild late winter storm swept into Goderich off Lake Huron on March 17-18, 1973. Eleven ships got loose while only the PATERSON (i) remained fast at the dock. It sustained bow damage when struck by fleetmate MONDOC (iii). Varying amounts of damage were inflicted to other ships.

1980 SUNPOLYNA was built in 1956 and provided service for Saguenay Shipping between Eastern Canada and the West Indies. The ship first came through the Seaway in 1963 and, on May 16, 1967, it ran aground near Thorold. It was sailing as d) TEMERAIRE when abandoned by the crew on March 17, 1980, in position 28.16 S / 21.04 W after the hull had cracked. The ship was en route from Santos, Brazil, to Mina Qaboos, Oman, and, after drifting to northwest for several days, sank on March 21.

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


Vessels abandoned off Cheboygan ordered forfeit by court

3/16 - Cheboygan, Mich. – Scotlund Stivers was sentenced to 30 days in jail Wednesday and forced to forfeit ownership of three vessels that had been variously adrift, aground or sunk in Duncan Bay the past 20 months.

In a strange twist, Stivers apparently attempted to end his life by taking cyanide in court. Stivers, 51, was in the process of ingesting “rocks” of the lethal substance when Court Bailiff Pat Charboneau knocked a bottle of water and pieces of sodium cyanide from Stivers’ hands. Charboneau swept fingers into Stivers’ mouth to remove the pieces.

The ferry Joelle AnnMarie, along with two tugs, were reported sold to Stephen Ball of Sault Ste. Marie for $4 million. The new owner is expected to raise the sunken tug Jenny Lynn and return her to service along with the tug William Hoey, which is aground.

Cheboygan Daily Tribune


Port Reports -  March 16

Twin Ports – Al Miller
Mesabi Miner began loading coal Thursday at its winter layup dock at Midwest Energy Terminal. The Miner was expected to depart overnight Thursday with coal for the power plant at Presque Isle, Mich., near Marquette. The Miner is the first of the Twin Ports layup fleet to get under way this season. Not far away, John G. Munson appeared to have steam up Thursday as crewmembers prepared it for its first trip next week.

Escanaba, Mich. - Rod Burdick
Joseph L. Block loaded ore Thursday morning at CN. Joseph H. Thompson remains in lay-up at the North Reiss Dock.


Dredging plan unveiled at Port of Rochester

3/16 - Rochester, N.Y. – A lack of federal funds has forced the major user of a shipping channel near the Port of Rochester to pay for the dredging so it can receive deliveries from large vessels.

Representatives of Essroc Italcementi Group, a concrete manufacturer, stood with Rep. Louise Slaughter Thursday at the company’s Boxart Street facility to announce a public-private partnership to dredge the channel.

Essroc receives supplies from Canada via large ships that travel across Lake Ontario and down the Genesee River. But the level of sediment is preventing a single large ship to travel the channel, forcing Essroc to use two smaller vessels instead, which is more costly and less efficient, Murch said.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will supply about $100,000 for permitting and surveying work related to the dredging, but the actual dredging will be paid for by other stakeholders. Essroc is hoping to share the cost with concerns such as yacht clubs and the city.

The city has not committed to funding any of the dredging and is reviewing the proposal, said city spokesman Gary Walker.

The dredging is expected to cost about $1 million. Essroc would like to begin the dredging as soon after May 1 as possible, said company official Stephen Murch. The Port of Rochester is considered “low use” by the federal government, which disqualified it for federal funding for dredging.

Slaughter said she hopes the public-private partnership is a temporary fix to a federal funding crunch The shipping channel has not been dredged since 2009, but historically has been dredged every two years.

Rochester Democrat and Chronicle


Lake Express puts renewed emphasis on its Michigan operations; has jobs available in Muskegon

3/16 - Muskegon, Mich. – The Milwaukee-based Lake Express has made a concerted effort to place more focus on its connections to the Michigan side of its business.

The high-speed ferry service between Muskegon and Milwaukee has had its reservation and sales call center in its Muskegon terminal for the past few years. It now has a full-time marketing and sales person in Muskegon with the hiring last year of Jill Emery, the former tourism manager for Muskegon County.

The Lake Express will begin its ninth season May 4 sailing between Muskegon and Milwaukee. The high-speed catamaran ferry that carries both passengers and vehicles opened up its reservation system Monday for 2012.

The Milwaukee-based ferry company will have a staff of 30 in Muskegon for the season that ends Nov. 4. Lake Express is taking applications for employment both in the Muskegon and Milwaukee terminals, as well as aboard the ship. Lake Express will have a sailing season staff of about 90, Emery said.

The Muskegon sales and call center staff from 2011 will return, she said. However, the company is looking for a terminal manager, customer service supervisors, janitorial and maintenance staff and security personnel for its Muskegon terminal.

Similar positions also are open in the Milwaukee terminal. Ship-based positions of captain and deck mates that are licensed and credentialed, deck hands, stewards and cabin attendants are also being sought. The marine crew positions are based in Milwaukee.

Starting pay for a Lake Express seasonal position is $10 to $14.50 per hour. The licensed marine crew positions are offered at competitive rates, company officials said. Most positions are 30-40 hours per week.

Those interested in applying to Lake Express can find more information online at

An improving economy and fears of $5 a gallon gasoline seem to have the traveling public interested in the Muskegon-to-Milwaukee crossing, company officials said. Prior to fares and schedules being announced with the opening of the reservation system, the Lake Express website experienced twice the pre-season traffic this year as in 2011, Emery said.



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.

1924 The MOHAWK of the Western Transit Co. was known as a fast ship. It was built at Detroit in 1893 and was renamed AMERICA in 1916. It was cut in two to exit the Great Lakes and re-assembled at Montreal for East Coast service. The ship was renamed BERMUDEZ in 1921 and sank in the Erie Basin at Brooklyn on March 16, 1924, with the stern resting on the bottom and the bow afloat. The hull was pumped out but scrapped at New York in January 1925.

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


St. Mary’s River ice breaking

3/15 - The Coast Guard has started breaking ice in the lower St Marys River in preparation for the 2012 Shipping season. Beginning next week, ice breaking operations will extend from Whitefish Bay to Detour. Thursday the Canadian Coast Guard Ship Samuel Risley will lock through to the upper St Marys River. The Risley will make their way to Thunder Bay, Ontario to initiate the break out there.

The U.S. Coast Guard intends to break ice in the lower end of the West Neebish Channel from Mud Lake Junction Buoy to Sawmill Point beginning Sunday and will open the entire West Neebish Channel (above the Neebish Island Ferry Crossing) on March 22.


U.S.-Flag lakes fleet headed back to work

3/15 - Cleveland, Ohio - The U.S.-flag Great Lakes fleet is returning to service to keep industrial America on the mend. The first vessel to get underway was the tug Dorothy Ann and barge Pathfinder on March 5. The vessels will spend the month shuttling iron ore within Cleveland Harbor.

Next to sail was the cement carrier tug Samuel de Champlain and barge Innovation. The tug and barge left their winter berth in Cleveland on March 7 and sailed to Alpena, Michigan, where they loaded cement to resupply silos in Chicago.

The Joseph L. Block departed Bay Shipbuilding Wednesday afternoon to open the season at Escanaba, Mich. She will load an iron ore cargo bound for Indiana Harbor on Thursday. Also that day the Mesabi Miner will start the coal trade by loading a cargo in Superior, Wis., for delivery to Marquette, Mich.

More vessels will be getting underway in the days and weeks ahead, and many will time their departure with the March 25 opening of the locks at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan.

U.S.-flag Great Lakes operators moved 93.8 million tons of cargo in 2011, an increase of 5.7 percent over 2010. This winter saw carriers spend more than $75 million at Great Lakes shipyards and repair facilities to maintain and modernize their vessels for the season just begun.

The season faces a dredging crisis on the Great Lakes. Years of insufficient Federal funding for dredging have left more than 17 million cubic yards of sediment clogging ports and waterways. Just last fall shipments to St. Joseph, Mich., had to be suspended until emergency funds could be found to clear the harbor. A much-needed coal cargo for the power plant in Holland, Mich., could not be delivered in December because of a build-up of silt in the harbor. Ships have been unable to deliver coal to Dunkirk, N.Y., since 2006 because of insufficient depth in the harbor.

It appears this year will hold more of the same. The federal budget for 2012 will dredge only 16 of the 63 federally-maintained ports on the Great Lakes. The administration actually intended to dredge only 11 ports, but Congress increased the Corps’ budget and Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) added five ports back to the list.

Maintaining ports and waterways to project dimensions is critical to the viability of Great Lakes shipping and the industries it serves. Collectively vessels forfeit more than 8,100 tons of cargo for each inch of reduced draft. The vessel owner is not the only one to suffer when cargo is left on the dock. Eighty-one hundred tons of iron ore represent eight hours of production at a large mine in Minnesota or Michigan. That much iron ore would make the steel for 10,000 cars, enough work to keep an auto plant running 14 days straight.

Fluctuating and low water levels exacerbate the dredging crisis, but the forces of nature cannot be controlled. The dredging crisis, on the other hand, is entirely man-made. For the last 25 years the federal government has levied a nationwide tax on waterborne cargo to pay for dredging. The tax revenue is deposited in the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF). In a typical year the HMTF takes in about $1.6 billion.

However, the government generally only spends about half of dredging tax receipts on dredging. The rest of the money is used to paper balance the budget. As a result, the surplus in the HMTF is expected to reach $7 billion by the end of FY12. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers estimates it needs $200 million to restore the Great Lakes navigation system, a sum that represents less than three percent of the HMTF surplus.

The dredging crisis is not confined to the lakes; ports and waterways nationwide are struggling with inadequate funding for dredging. Bills introduced in the House and Senate H.R. 104 and S. 412 would require the HMTF to spend what it takes in each year for dredging on dredging. The bills have broad-based support in both parties. The Senate’s transportation reauthorization bill also includes a Sense of the Senate provision that the amounts in the HMTF should be fully expended.

Lake Carriers' Association


Port Reports -  March 15

Alpena, Mich. - Ben & Chanda McClain
The Alpena arrived in port around 5 p.m. on Wednesday. It loaded cement for Whitefish, Ontario. The tug Samuel de Champlain and barge Innovation are due at Lafarge Thursday evening.


Coal leads the way as the Twin Ports shipping season starts Friday

3/15 - Duluth, Minn. – The Twin Ports shipping season begins Friday, when the Mesabi Miner departs for the Presque Isle Power Plant in Michigan with about 55,000 tons of coal from Superior’s Midwest Energy Terminal.

While that first shipment from Midwest will stay on Lake Superior, that will not remain the case as the company continues to develop a European market for its low-sulfur coal. Midwest sent 380,000 tons of coal overseas last year. It already has orders for more than four times that amount this year.

“This year we have a contract for almost 1.7 million net tons a year for the next three years,” Midwest Energy Resources Co. President Fred Shusterich said. “Two to three years down the road I would like to be exporting around 4 million,” around a sixth of the capacity of the Superior terminal.

“We are cautiously optimistic that we can continue to grow that (European) market,” he said. “It is kind of a flat market right now. They are experiencing some of the issues that we have with their own spins on it, like the Euro crisis and debt crisis.”

Overseas shipments will begin after the Soo Locks open March 25. Coal will be shipped via lakers from Superior to St. Lawrence Stevedoring in Quebec. To take advantages of economies of scale, the lakers’ coal is unloaded at Quebec and loaded onto even larger, oceangoing ships at the year-round, deep-water terminal.

The facility handles about 10 million metric tons of cargo a year, mostly iron ore, said Jeff Lemont, vice president of St. Lawrence Stevedoring. Coal has, until now, been a marginal commodity for the company. That is changing as Midwest Energy and several coal companies market North American coal in Europe. Lemont sees great potential for increasing coal shipments overseas.

“We’re very excited and look forward to continue working together to increase the volumes in the years to come,” he said.

Midwest Energy views expanding overseas exports as a way to help offset losses in the North American market. Midwest Energy’s Superior terminal has an annual capacity of 25 million tons. In 2008 the terminal shipped just under 23 million tons. Last year it shipped 14 million tons, in large part because Ontario Power Generation reduced its orders from 8 million tons to about 300,000 tons. Ontario Power is working to phase out the use of coal to produce electricity by the end of 2014, investing in electric and nuclear generation and testing the use of biomass fuels in plants that formerly were fueled with coal.

There is also doubt about the future of the Presque Isle Power Plant in Marquette, Mich., which receives 1.75 million to 2 million tons of coal a year from Midwest Energy. We Energies announced last year that the plant could close in 2017 to comply with proposed federal pollution regulations.

In January, the Milwaukee-based We Energies and Wolverine Power Cooperative of Cadillac, Mich., announced they had signed a letter of intent to evaluate the formation of a joint venture to invest in environmental improvements at the plant.

“If this joint venture were to be approved, there would be construction of emission control equipment on the plant, and it would continue to use coal,” We Energies spokesman Brian Manthey said Tuesday. “I think by this summer we will have a pretty good idea of what direction we will be going.”

Shusterich isn’t overly concerned about the future of Presque Isle just yet. “What is announced initially can be worst-case scenarios,” he said.

Shusterich expects to ship between 15 million and 16 million tons of coal this year.

“It will be better than last year, but it is still a tough economy — especially a tough energy economy, not really because of government regs that are pending, but because of the (natural) gas market,” he said. “Gas is unrealistically low, and it is probably going to stay there awhile.”

The Mesabi Miner will begin loading Thursday. After loading is finished in the afternoon, the ship will move to the Port Terminal for some final maintenance before leaving the harbor Friday.

Tradition says it’s bad luck to start the season’s first voyage on a Friday, Shusterich said. So they are considering Thursday’s trip from Midwest to the Port Terminal as the Miner’s first voyage of the season, he said.

Duluth News Tribune


U.S. Coast Guard launches new response boats in Sturgeon Bay

3/15 - Sturgeon Bay, Wis. – The U.S. Coast Guard Canal Station in Sturgeon Bay launched its new response boats Wednesday morning from Great Lakes Yacht Services. Response boat 45672 will be stationed on Washington Island starting a week before Memorial Day weekend, and response boat 45668 will stay in Sturgeon Bay.

“The Island (station) doesn’t open until the week before Memorial Day,” said Chief Machinery Technician Rush Evans.

It took about 30 minutes for 45672 to reach the water. There is some work that needs to be done before the boats are ready to go out on calls.

“The engines just have a number of things they (the crew) need to do prep wise,” said BMC Justin Longval, executive petty office with the station. Red tags marked parts of the equipment that will be serviced over the next week.

The Coast Guard is required to have four people on board at any one time, but generally there are five to six people on board, Longval said. Besides being a comfortable watercraft, the boats are also each equipped with an infrared device.

“We have that and that’s a great tool to be looking for someone. Especially at night,” Longval said.

Door County Advocate


Green Bay Pictures

3/15 - The Green Bay Press-Gazette posted this online gallery of photos of Great Lakes ships in the Port of Green Bay. Most of the photos are from the late 1990s to the present.

Click here to view


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.

1942 The first SARNIADOC of the Paterson fleet was lost with all hands on the Caribbean en route from Trinidad to the U.S. Virgin Islands. It was apparently torpedoed by U-161 in the night-time hours of March 14-15, 1942, while in the south for the wartime bauxite trade.

1969 The bulk carrier ALEXANDER T. WOOD, remembered by many for its regular early Seaway service in the ore and grain trades as well as for a collision with the Finnish flag freighter MARIA in the Detroit River on August 12, 1960, was lost on this day in 1969 as VAINQUER. The latter had been to the Great Lakes in 1968 but sank following a boiler room explosion in the Gulf of Mexico with the loss of one life. It was en route from Vera Cruz, Mexico, to New Orleans with a cargo of sugar.

1976 The rail car barge HURON rolled over and sank at the the Windsor dock due to an uneven deck load. The 1875 vintage vessel had operated across the Detroit River as a steamer until March 1971 and then as a barge. It was refloated and returned to service.

1980 The Liberian vessel FRATERNITY was built in 1963. It visited the Great Lakes in 1967 and operated briefly as ARYA NIKU in 1975-1976 before becoming FRATERNITY again under Greek registry. Fire broke out in #1 and #2 cargo holds en route from Hamburg to Karachi on this date in 1980. An explosion followed the next day and the crew abandoned the ship in the Red Sea. The hull was beached March 17 around the border of Eritrea and Sudan but was refloated April 1 and deemed a total loss. After unloading at Sharjah, the hull was towed to Gadani Beach, Pakistan, arriving at the scrapyard on May 19, 1981.

1984 The Greek freighter ELINA likely made only one trip to the Great Lakes coming inland in 1982 to load frozen meat at Kenosha, WI. It had laid up at Emden, West Germany, on June 13, 1983, only to catch fire on March 15, 1984. The damage was extensive and the hull was towed into Gijon, Spain, for scrapping on April 23, 1984.

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


CSL gets OK to name new vessel after Thunder Bay

3/14 - Thunder Bay, Ont. – City council Monday night agreed to let a new Canada Steamship Lines ship use the name Thunder Bay. The vessel that will adopt the name is under construction in China. Transport Canada rules require the company to seek the city’s permission to use the name.

This would be the third time a CSL vessel has been named Thunder Bay. The original was a canaller in the 1920's while the other was a bulk carrier that later sailed as Stadacona. The first two had their names before the twin cities of Fort William-Port Arthur became the city of Thunder Bay.

Chronicle-Telegram and Skip Gillham


Sisterships among Seaway’s first salties

3/14 - Two of the first salties in the Seaway this year will be the sisterships Harbour Legend and Harbour Leader. Both will be on their first trips under their present names. They were formerly respectively Clipper Legend and Clipper Leader.

René Beauchamp


2012 shipping season starts with Lake Superior traffic

3/14 - Duluth, Minn. - Maritime traffic for the 2012 shipping season is set to get underway this week in the Port of Duluth-Superior with the anticipated departure of the Mesabi Miner in the early morning hours of Friday, March 16.

Having wintered at Midwest Energy Resources Company’s Superior terminal, the vessel is scheduled to be first out of the port this season – loaded with coal and headed for Presque Isle, Mich. This will be the first of her three intra-lake deliveries prior to the opening of the locks at Sault Ste. Marie at 0001 hours on March 25. The John G. Munson is also scheduled to take on an early season coal cargo in the Twin Ports on March 20 for delivery across Lake Superior.

Thanks, in large part to minimal ice cover on the Great Lakes this year, the Port of Duluth-Superior will start to see a handful of Canadian-flag lakers arriving March 23-24 from winter layup in Thunder Bay to take on cargo bound for the lower lakes. They will then secure their place in line with the rest of the downbound traffic at the Soo Locks prior to opening. Likewise, there will be a line-up of upbound lakers on the eastern side of the locks, which means the Twin Ports will likely see regular maritime traffic patterns resume that last week of March.

Of the vessels that spent the winter here in the Twin Ports, deck departments on eight will begin showing up for fit-out this week and next, including crews of the: Edwin H. Gott, Roger Blough, American Spirit, American Century, Walter J. McCarthy and John J. Boland (in addition to the Munson and Miner). The American Victory and Edward L. Ryerson will remain in layup at Fraser Shipyards where they have been since 2008 and 2009, respectively.

It’s a bit harder to predict the arrival of the Port’s first oceangoing vessel – what will be the first saltie to transit the full GLSLS system in 2012. The Seaway locks (the Montreal/Lake Ontario section and the Welland Canal) will reopen for business on March 22, but Duluth-Superior won’t see its first saltie in port until a few weeks later. That first ship to pass beneath the Aerial Lift Bridge in April will be greeted by maritime officials with a 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, the Federal Leda, arrived on April 11.

“There were some ups and downs during 2011, though the Port of Duluth-Superior ended last year’s shipping season on a positive note – topping 37 million short tons,” noted Adolph Ojard, executive director of the Duluth Seaway Port Authority, “That performance was led by a 17 percent increase in iron ore shipments and strong deliveries of limestone, salt, cement and general cargo.”

“While it’s too early to speculate on grain, the outlook for 2012 is just as strong if not slightly better,” said Ojard. “Grain exports face stiff competition in overseas markets; spring and durum wheat exports will depend on world supply and demand plus competitive ocean freight rates. We expect to see more general cargo, with at least a dozen shipments of wind components and other project cargo commitments on the books. Coal volume should increase with additional exports contracted to Europe. The iron mining industry is still the biggest economic driver for shipping here in the Twin Ports; iron ore shipments mirror both domestic and global demand for steel and pellet production on Minnesota’s Iron Range. Absent any major changes in the world economy, plants will continue to run at maximum capacity, and the 2012 shipping season should be steady and strong.”

Duluth Seaway Port Authority


Port Reports -  March 14

Sturgeon Bay, Wis. - Wendell Wilke
American Mariner was assisted out of the graving dock Tuesday at Bay Ship Building, assisted by Selvick tugs; final testing was being done aboard the Joseph L. Block in anticipation of departure Wednesday for Escanaba.


Fednav invests $400 million in the renewal of its fleet

3/14 - Montreal, Que. – Fednav Limited, the largest international maritime bulk carrier in Canada, Tuesday marked the first visit of its latest addition to its fleet to Canada. The Port of Trois-Rivières welcomed the Federal Sable, a bulk carrier of 37,200 tons deadweight (DWT). This new addition will reduce the environmental impact of the Fednav fleet while introducing a period of growth and renewal for the fleet.

The Federal Sable arrived on the St. Lawrence River with a cargo of 35,000 tons of ilmenite from Madagascar to Rio Tinto, Fer et Titane, in Sorel. It will load 28,000 tons of wheat from the Les Élévateurs des Trois-Rivières Ltée to Tema, Ghana.

The Federal Sable is the first in a series of 15 new vessels commissioned from Japanese and Chinese shipyards. Fednav has ordered eight ice-class vessels (including the Federal Sable) of 37,200 DWT from the Ouhua shipyard in China, to be delivered in 2012. Fednav has also ordered four 55,000 dwt bulk carriers for its long-standing Japanese partners, Sumitomo Corporation and Oshima shipyard. These ships were designed to navigate ice in winter in places like the St. Lawrence, and will be delivered between 2012 and 2014. Finally, the company will also acquire three bulk carriers of 35,300 DWT from Oshima that will be in operation in 2012 and 2015. These fifteen ships represent an investment of over $400 million.

The welcoming ceremony took place in the presence of Mark L. Pathy, President and Co-CEO of Fednav, Danielle St-Amand, MNA for Trois-Rivières, Yves Lévesque, Mayor of Trois-Rivières, Gaétan Boivin, President and CEO of the Port Authority of Trois-Rivières, as well as several customers and partners. Following the ceremony a reception was attended by numerous partners and the maritime community of Trois-Rivières.

"This investment by Fednav demonstrates its confidence in sustained growth of its activities and a particular listening to its customers,” Pathy declared.

The Fednav Group


Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority working to sell excess salt

3/14 - Ogdensburg, N.Y. – The Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority is brainstorming ways to sell excess road salt this spring at its St. Lawrence River port. Frederick J. Carter, authority vice chairman, is trying to coordinate a deal for north country municipalities to buy the salt at a discounted price.

“Basically, the idea came from talking to a couple of highway superintendents that I used to deal with,” he said. “They would like to put their salt up now rather than wait until the winter.” Mr. Carter said the warm winter might have left money in highway departments’ budgets that they could use to prepare for next season.

“The towns put in a certain amount of money for sand and salt, et cetera,” he said. “If they have extra money that they could move in that budget, then it could be used to mix salt and sand early, and they could get it ready for the winter.”

The municipalities would be expected to ship the salt themselves.

“It makes good sense to me that if I have to move salt away from the dock anyway, and there are towns in March and April who would like to come and get it, we could work out something reasonable with the towns,” Mr. Carter said.

A mild winter has left the authority with plenty of leftover road salt.

“Our port operating income is short,” Frederick S. Morrill, OBPA deputy executive director, said at Wednesday’s board meeting. “We’ve seen less salt shipped out.”

Watertown Daily Times


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 refit.

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. 1918 ISLAND QUEEN, a wooden hulled Toronto Island ferry, was destroyed by a fire at Hanlan's Point in Toronto. The ship was valued at $25,000 and the hull was left to rot.

1962 MILLY made one trip through the Seaway in 1959. It had been launched at Stockton, CA on May 13, 1915, as PORTHCAWL and became d) MILLY in 1950. The 295 foot freighter, sailing as f) HEDIA, last reported March 14 near Galita Island on the Mediterranean close to Malta and en route from Casablanca, Morocco, to Venice, Italy, with a cargo of phosphate. It was posted as missing and then lost with all hands.

1993 The Freedom Class freighter SHAMALY was a year old when it came through the Seaway in 1969. It returned December 1, 1990, as c) WALVIS BAY for Ogdensburg, NY to load corn gluten The 9650 gross ton freighter ran aground south of Greece off Cape Morakis in 1993 en route from Piraeus to Scotland as d) LIPARIT BAY. The hull was not worth repairing and sold for scrap. Renamed e) NORA for the delivery tow, it arrived at Aliaga, Turkey, April 4, 1994, for dismantling and work began May 16.

1999 The Panamanian freighter EVANGELIA PETRAKIS was built in Muroran, Japan, in 1978 as N.J. PATERAS. It came through the Seaway in 1988 and was renamed c) AMER VED in 1990. It survived a grounding off Horsetail Bank, UK on November 19, 1996, only to suffer serious damage in a collision with the newly built, 57,947 gross ton, Maltese flag tanker SEAPRIDE I off Khor Fakkan, United Arab Emirates. The damage to the 21-year old freighter was not worth repairs so it arrived at Alang, India, for scrapping on June 19, 1999.

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


Port Reports -  March 13

Escanaba, Mich. - Lee Rowe
The barge Great Lakes Trader and tug Joyce L. Van Enkevort were tied up in Escanaba after leaving Sturgeon Bay. Work was being done on the tug. They were moored near where the L. E. Block used to be.

St. Marys River
The U.S. Coast Guard started to break out the lower St. Marys River Monday morning, the only area with significant ice on the lakes. Mackinaw started the break out below Lime Island and was joined by the Katmai Bay and Biscayne Bay. The Coast Guard vessels worked a small area between Lime Island and north of Detour to break up and flush the ice into Lake Huron.

Alpena, Mich. - Ben & Chanda McClain
The Alpena took on cement at Lafarge overnight and departed early Monday morning, heading for Detroit.


Port of Green Bay gets ready for possible early start to the 2012 season

3/13 - Green Bay, Wis. – The mild winter extended the shipping season at the Port of Green Bay, and officials are gearing up for a possible early start as well.

Port Manager Dean Haen says they don’t know when the first ship will arrive, but says historically ships have arrived between March 15th and mid-April. Last week the U-S Coast Guard busted up floating ice plates, which officially opens the bay for the 2012 shipping season. Mother Nature is also pushing the floating ice places out into Lake Michigan. The 2011 shipping season went into early January.

With the new addition of petroleum products, port tonnage was over two million. Last year, over 190 ships moved through the port. Haen expects the shipping season to start off strong and the uptick in the economy suggests another good year.



Coast Guard rescues man in Lake Erie near Cuyahoga River

3/13 - Cleveland, Ohio - A rescue boatcrew from Coast Guard Station Cleveland Harbor rescued a swimmer in distress near the mouth of the Cuyahoga River Tuesday evening. The boatcrew, aboard a 25-foot Response Boat-Medium, was on scene about five minutes after receiving notification of a man in distress.

Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Buffalo, N.Y., were notified at about 5:40 p.m. by crewmembers aboard the tug Dorothy Ann and the operator of the Norfolk Southern Railroad Bridge of a person in the water. He was not wearing a life jacket. The boatcrew safely assisted the man out of the water and transported him to Edgewater Park, where he was met by emergency medical services. He was taken to Cleveland Memorial Hospital.


Lookback: Lake Michigan steamship rivalry heats up

3/13 - The Muskegon Chronicle has an interesting write up on early 1900s passenger and cargo shipping. Click here to view


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.).

1994 SHIPBROKER was built at Varna, Bulgaria, in 1980 as OCEAN SEAGULL and came through the Seaway that year on July 3. It was renamed SHIPBROKER in 1986 and made its maiden voyage to the Great Lakes on November 19, 1991. The ship was in a collision with the Cypriot tanker NASSIA in the Bosporus Strait on March 14, 1994, and caught fire. It burned for days and 29 members of the crew of 33 plus 4 on the tanker, were lost. Following a sale for scrap, the gutted bulk carrier arrived at Aliaga, Turkey, under tow on December 3, 1994, and dismantling began April 5, 1995.

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


Port Reports -  March 12

Straits of Mackinac  - Fred Stone
Algomarine departed anchorage off Rogers City Sunday morning and headed westbound through the Round Island Passage bound for Milwaukee. They passed through the ice-free Straits about 10:30 a.m. The Samuel de Champlain and barge Innovation left their anchorage off Mackinaw City and followed about a half-hour behind the Algomarine, loaded for South Chicago. USCG Mackinaw departed their home dock in Cheboygan, Mich., at 10:30 a.m. and headed upbound, passing through the Round Island Passage, arriving off St. Ignace about 2 p.m. They departed at 5 p.m. and headed eastbound for the lower St. Marys River. They arrived about 9 p.m. and stopped for the night below Lime Island. At 4:30 p.m. the Alpena passed eastbound under the Mackinac Bridge heading for her namesake port to load cement.

Washington Island, Wis.
Algomarine arrived off the north shore of Washington Island in Green Bay about 8 p.m. Sunday and went to anchor. Samuel de Champlain and barge Innovation continued on the southbound course for South Chicago.

Detroit, Mich. - Ken Borg
Capt. Henry Jackman, with tugs Idaho and Wyoming, was inbound the Rouge River Sunday, going to Motor City Materials with salt.

Cleveland, Ohio - Jake Kniola
The tug John Spence left lay up in Cleveland bound for Windsor.


Cliffs predicts good times ahead for taconite industry on the Range

3/12 - Duluth, Minn. – The second-largest player in Minnesota’s taconite industry will continue to operate at full speed on the Iron Range and predicts stable, prosperous times.

Top officials of Ohio-based Cliffs Natural Resources held their annual community forum Thursday and said their three taconite plants will continue to churn out pellets at near record clips with stable work forces and solid demand from steelmakers.

“We don’t see any major changes this year at all,” said Don Gallagher, president of global business and executive vice president for Cliffs. “We’re operating at capacity (in Minnesota) across the board.”

Cliffs owns Northshore Mining in Babbitt and Silver Bay and United Taconite in Eveleth and Forbes and is part owner and manager of Hibbing Taconite. Together those three mines will produce nearly 18 million tons of about 40 million tons of taconite produced in the state. That production is second only to U.S. Steel’s 19 million tons combined from Keetac in Keewatin and Minntac in Mountain Iron.

The company has 1,986 employees in Minnesota and 1,722 in Michigan.

Cliffs also operates the Tilden and Empire mines in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and has recently acquired and is expanding mines in northern Quebec. The company also owns iron ore operations in Australia, coal operations in the U.S. and is expanding into chromite in northern Ontario and nickel alloy in western Canada.

“This gives the company a much more stable, diverse product base,” Gallagher told Range political and business leaders during the breakfast meeting.

Tony Sertich, commissioner of the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board, said he likes what he heard from both Gallagher and Kelly Tompkins, Cliffs’ chief legal officer — especially the company’s plans to pump about $150 million into its Minnesota operations this year for new equipment.

“It was a very positive message, not just for Cliffs but for the entire taconite industry, at least out two or three years. And that’s about as far as you can go in a global economy,” Sertich noted.

Cliffs is dramatically expanding production at the Quebec mines, with the natural iron ore expected to head to the quickly growing Asian market. Gallagher said growth in China — even though it’s now forecast at 7 percent rather than the 8 percent or 10 percent annually in recent years — will mean huge increases in demand for iron ore to make steel.

“We were in Beijing last week and the growth there is still huge. … It’s like New York on steroids. People on top of people on top of people,” Gallagher said. “They all want cars. They all want consumer goods. It’s going to take huge amounts of steel to get them there.”

Cliffs’ Minnesota operations will continue to tap into that Asian market, but just a little — to the tune of about 1 million tons per year. Because of shipping constraints through the Great Lakes, most of the Minnesota and Michigan production will continue to feed U.S. blast furnaces. Cliffs officials predict the market for Minnesota ore, domestic steel demand, will remain stable through 2012 and beyond as the U.S economy slowly recovers.

Cliffs said it has maxed-out production at its U.S facilities and said adding production capacity isn’t as cost-effective as boosting production in Canada. Gallagher said the company’s North American ore production will increase from 40.6 million tons in 2011 to 46.6 million tons this year, almost entirely due to expansion in Quebec. Almost all of that ore will head to Asia.

But while the company is expanding globally like never before, Tompkins said Cliffs’ 2012 motto is “protect the core” of its business, meaning domestic iron ore production that’s nearly half the company’s revenue.

“Cliffs is committed to the Iron Range,” Tompkins said. “We’ve got a lot of ore to mine here for a long, long time.”

Unlike most other taconite producers that are owned by steelmaking companies, most of Cliffs’ taconite goes to long-term customers and the open market. That has helped the company tap into the incredible increase in the price paid for taconite on the global market spurred by Asian development. Taconite prices skyrocketed from about $60 per ton a few years ago to as high as $200 per ton last year. That price now hovers near $140, Cliffs officials say, and probably won’t go below $120 per ton because that’s what it costs to mine and process ore in China.

At $120 per ton Cliffs can continue to make handsome profits. The 165-year-old company (formerly called Cleveland Cliffs) in January reported record revenue of $6.8 billion, up from just $200 million a decade ago. The company had a 2011 profit of $1.8 billion, also a record. On Thursday, Gallagher said that growth would continue. The company has rocketed onto both the Fortune 500 list and the Barons 500 list of top businesses and is doing so well that it has been named as a possible takeover prospect.

Duluth News Tribune


Isle Royale N.P. accepting applications for Chief Engineer

3/12 - Isle Royale National Park is accepting applications for the position of Chief Marine Engineer onboard the Ranger III. For information, view the position announcement here



Help wanted: Captain sought for carferry Badger

3/12 - Ludington, Mich. – Lake Michigan Carferry is seeking qualified individual(s) to serve as Master aboard the renowned carferry S.S. Badger. Applicants must possess an Unlimited Great Lakes Master license for steam vessels any gross tons with appropriate pilotage as well as documented experience in the capacity of Master. This position offers good pay, benefits and an excellent work schedule throughout the sailing season.

Send resume and letter of interest to HR, P.O. Box 708 Ludington, MI 49431 or fax to 231-843-4558 or email to


Updates -  March 12

News Photo Gallery


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.

1917 ­ ALGONQUIN was built at Glasgow, Scotland, in 1888 and saw service for several companies on the Great Lakes. The ship was torpedoed by U-62 when it was 65 miles off Cornwall, England, while west of Bishop's Rock and en route from New York to London with general cargo. It was the first American merchant ship lost due to enemy action in World War One.

1942 ­ CRAIGROWNIE was a World War One Laker and had been launched at Ashtabula on April 12, 1919. It was sailing as d) OLGA when torpedoed by U-126, 20 miles off Nuevital Light, Cuba, while en route from Port Everglades, FL to Beracoa, Cuba. One crew member was lost but 32 were rescued and taken to Cuba.

1947 ­ EXANTHIA struck a mine in the Mediterranean while 12 miles from the island of Elba while traveling from Istanbul to New York. The ship was flooded and abandoned but reboarded and eventually towed to New York for repairs. The ship sailed for the American Export Lines and came to the Great Lakes on 9 occasions from 1959-1961. After a few years in the James River Reserve Fleet, the vessel was taken to Brownsville, Texas, in 1975 and broken up.

1971 ­ SUNCLIPPER, a Seaway trader in 1966, was built in 1953 as BOW BRASIL. It ran aground at Haifa Bay as f) CLIPPER when the anchors dragged in a storm. The ship was refloated April 10, and taken to Perama, Greece. It was sold “as lies” to Turkish ship breakers, and arrived at Istanbul, Turkey, for scrapping on August 29, 1972.

1985 ­ The LETITIA was the 96th and final addition to the British flag Donaldson Line. It made 4 trips through the Seaway in 1966 and 3 more in 1967. It was sailing as d) TEPORA when it caught fire in the Gulf of Mexico en route to Veracruz, Mexico, on March 12, 1985. The Honduran flag freighter was abandoned by the crew. The fire was apparently extinguished and the vessel reboarded. It was taken in tow but the blaze broke out again and the ship sank on March 14.

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


Port Reports -  March 11

Straits of Mackinac - Fred Stone
Saturday the Samuel de Champlain and barge Innovation were westbound from Alpena to S. Chicago with cement. They went to anchor for the night off Mackinaw City due to weather.

Erie, Pa. - Jeffrey Benson
Work continues on the Edgar B. Speer, all of it inside. Manitowoc remains in the graving dock at Donjon along with the barge Cleveland Rocks. Lake Contender has been ballasted down to 16' at the bow and amidships and 17' at the stern. The tug Ken Boothe Sr. has not yet been moved into the notch. All the final painting on the superstructure of the barge has been completed.


Great Lakes ice down dramatically over 40 years

3/11 - Winter ice cover on the Great Lakes has dropped dramatically over the past four decades, according to a new report. Peak ice has dropped by 71 percent on average, with Lake Michigan ice decreasing by even more.

Researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration compared satellite photos going back to 1973. Jia Wang, an ice climatologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said the changes are stark. In a year like 1979, ice covered about 94 percent of the lakes in the dead of winter.

“This winter the maximum ice cover is about 5 percent,” Wang said. “It’s the lowest ever since the satellite era.”

The drop in ice cover is driven by rising temperatures due to climate change, There are also other factors at play this year in particular, such as La Nina weather patterns.

Wang says losing winter ice can cause a number of problems for the Great Lakes ecosystem. It can speed up wintertime evaporation from the lakes, which could reduce water levels. The trend could also fuel more and earlier algae blooms, which damage water quality and habitat. And it leaves shoreline more exposed to waves, accelerating erosion.



Muskegon-area state lawmakers urging Congress to keep Coast Guard helicopter

3/11 - Muskegon County, Mich. – The proposed elimination of funding for the U.S. Coast Guard helicopter unit in Muskegon County is drawing the attention of state lawmakers from the area.

State Sen. Goeff Hansen, R-Hart, announced Wednesday his plans to introduce a resolution calling on Congress to reject the proposed budget cut that would eliminate the search-and-rescue unit based out of Muskegon County Airport.

“As a former first-responder, I know firsthand that time is of the essence when it comes to saving lives,” said Hansen, who spent 20 years combined as an emergency medical technician and firefighter. “With the heavy boat traffic on Lake Michigan, having a Coast Guard helicopter unit nearby is paramount to public safety.”

State Reps. Marcia Hovey-Wright, D-Muskegon, and Holly Hughes, R-White River Township, said they will support Hansen’s resolution.

Holly Hughes said having the Muskegon County-based helicopter unit could be difference between life and death for a local resident.

“Our people don’t want to wait until a helicopter comes from farther away to be rescued,” Hughes said. “It’s important to our town and important to all boaters in and around Muskegon County.”

From talking with federal officials, it is unclear the exact amount of money needed to keep the Muskegon County air facility open. The Coast Guard’s cost for operating the local unit was about $485,000 in 2010, but that figure included the lease payment to the county to pay off the original construction of the hangar. The Coast Guard only pays rent for the space now, plus the equipment and personnel costs.

If the local station is closed, the next closest stations are in Chicago, about 115 miles away, and Traverse City, about 113 miles away.

U.S. Senators Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow sent a letter to the Appropriations Committee last week requesting that the Senate reject President Barack Obama’s budget proposal to close the seasonal air facility in Norton Shores and reduce the number of helicopters in Traverse City.

The search-and-rescue facility in Muskegon County has been slated for closure in previous years, but it has continued its string of operating locally since 1997. The Muskegon County facility was expected to close based on the 2010 preliminary budget, but the funding was reinstated and it remained open. The local search-and-rescue helicopter unit provides rescue services for boats and ships on Lake Michigan between Memorial Day and Labor Day. It also responds to homeland security situations.

Since 2005, the Muskegon County-based unit has responded to 182 cases on Lake Michigan.

Hansen referenced the more than 950,000 recreational vessels registered in Michigan and the estimated 182,000 recreational boaters who operate on Lake Michigan during the year.

“Michigan is known far and wide as the ‘Great Lakes State.’ Boaters from across the country travel here to take in our state’s natural beauty,” Hansen said. “With such a high number of recreational boaters, we need the Muskegon unit and the Traverse City facility. I strongly urge Congress to do what is in the best interest of public safety and reject this proposal.”



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.

1904 The wooden-hull Lake Erie car ferry SHENANGO NO. 1 caught fire and burned following an engine room explosion on March 11, 1904. The vessel had been frozen in the ice off Conneaut, OH since January 1 and one member of the crew perished in the blaze.

1912 The FLORA M. HILL sank in Lake Michigan en route to Chicago after being caught in an ice flow that crushed the iron hull. The vessel had been built as at Philadelphia in 1874 as the lighthouse tender DAHLIA and rebuilt and renamed at Milwaukee in 1910 for Lake Michigan service.

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


Port Reports -  March 10

Douglas, Mich. – Robert Douglas
Efforts failed Friday to free the Keewatin from the mud holding her fast in Lake Kalamazoo. With a small tug pulling hard on her starboard side, a D6 Cat rammed an I-beam held fast to her port bow. Repeated blows had limited effect in breaking her free.

Milwaukee, Wis. – Chris Jackson
Alpena departed South Chicago Friday morning and headed upbound. She arrived at Milwaukee, Wis., about 4:30 p.m. The tug G.L. Ostrander and barge Integrity departed their winter lay-up dock Friday afternoon and headed upbound on Lake Michigan. The pair passed through the Port Des Morts Passage (Death's Door), entering Green Bay about 8:30 p.m. heading down the bay to Sturgeon Bay.

Alpena, Mich. - Ben & Chanda McClain
At 6 a.m. Friday the tug Samuel de Champlain and barge Innovation arrived at Lafarge to start the new shipping season. The pair loaded cement and remained in port with gale warnings out for Lake Huron. The wind was blowing very strong throughout the day.

Buffalo, N.Y. – Brian W.
The USCG icebreaking tug Thunder Bay made a rare appearance at the Visiting Ship's Dock (North Pier) Friday morning. She was still there at 2 p.m.


Fire aboard laker docked in Hamilton

3/10 - Hamilton, Ont. – Hamilton firefighters and police were called to a ship fire at Pier 25 Friday afternoon. The vessel involved was the Algoma Discovery; no damage estimates were available.

The blaze was in the engine room of the vessel but the ship’s fire suppression system put it out before emergency crews arrived on scene, Sergeant Terri-Lynn Collings said.

The call for the fire came in about 12:30 p.m. The crewmembers evacuated the ship and there were no injuries, Collings said. An ambulance also responded to the scene.

An emergency official at the scene said there was a report of a fire, but only smoke had been discovered. The official said firefighters swept the ship to see if there is any fire left or if anyone is in need of help.

Hamilton Spectator, Bill Bird


Coast Guard opening channels Monday

3/10 - Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. – The Coast Guard will open Gray’s Reef Passage; the waters between Cheboygan Mich., and Bois Blanc Island (known as South Channel); and, in the lower St. Marys River, Pipe Island Passage, north and east of Pipe Island. Opening is effective 1 p.m. Monday.


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.

In 2000, the HARMONIOUS, a Panamanian freighter dating from 1977, visited the Great Lakes in 1978 and returned on several occasions through 1986. It was lost on the Arabian Sea as c) KASTOR TOO while traveling from Aqaba, Jordan, to Visakhapatnam, India, with a cargo of phosphate on March 10, 2000. The crew of 18 were rescued by the nearby container ship MILDBURG.

Data from: Skip Gillham, 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

Muskegon Mich. - Walt Walmsley
Alpena departed the Mart dock in Muskegon Wednesday evening, headed for South Chicago.

Goderich, Ont. - Dale Baechler
After days of high winds, Algomarine and Capt. Henry Jackman picked up anchor and headed for Goderich. Algomarine was first in at 11:15 Thursday morning and went to load at the Sifto Salt dock. The Jackman was a few hours behind and went to the new harbor dock to wait.


Seattle firm designs new Beaver Island ferry

3/9 - Elliott Bay Design Group of Seattle, Wash., has won a contract to design a new 150-foot steel ferry for the Beaver Island Transportation Authority.

The 150-passenger, 24-vehicle ferry will be operated by the Beaver Island Boat Company and will replace a 50-year-old vessel (the Beaver Islander) serving the small island in northern Lake Michigan. The new ferry will be powered by two diesel engines of approximately 1,500 hp each with fixed-pitch propellers.

“We are very lucky to have Elliott Bay on this project. We are trying to go as green as possible with our new design by increasing fuel efficiency with a narrower beam and newer engines,” said Barbara Schwartzfisher, executive director of the Beaver Island Transportation Authority.

The vessel will have a design speed of 13.5 knots, a beam of 42 feet and a hull depth of 15 feet. In addition to reducing the services environmental footprint, the transportation authority is looking to design a better experience for passengers on the 2.5-hour crossing by offering Wi-Fi and making the boat quieter and more comfortable. The design will meet accessibility guidelines for passenger vessels and feature an enclosed car deck arranged to handle loose cargo such as dry goods, groceries and other necessities for daily life on the island.

Elliot Bay Design Group


Sifto is back and stronger than ever, CEO says

3/9 - Goderich, Ont. – Sifto Canada Corp., a subsidiary of Compass Minerals, announced last week it had acquired the rights to additional property in Goderich adjacent to the existing salt mine location for $2.8 million.

“The Goderich mine is strategically important to the company, to the Goderich community and to the many people who depend on our highway deicing salt to provide safer driving conditions in winter weather,” Angelo Brisimitzakis, President and CEO of Compass Minerals said. “Over the pat several years we’ve been strategically investing in this advantaged asset in order to increase and improve operational capabilities, and this new land provides us with additional low cost storage capacity to better serve our customers and provide us logistical flexibilities.”

The additional land and ship berth also gives the company the opportunity to increase shipping capabilities in the future Dr. Brisimitzakis said.

Recently, the town of Goderich terminated a lease agreement with Goderich Elevators Ltd.on a piece of land that housed a storage dome. Sifto negotiated a new long-term lease arrangement with the town on the .0609 acre site, Goderich CAO Larry McCabe said.

Additional profitable growth initiatives at the mine include:

• An agreement with the town of Goderich and the Goderich Port Management corporation to expand and enhance the Port of Goderich, which will provide additional rock salt storage and expanded shipping capabilities;

• Introduction of continuous mining equipment and processes that improve productivity and

• A recently completed multi-phased mine expansion, which expanded annual capability from about 6.5 million tons to about 9 million tons.

“While the August tornado caused damage to both our mine and Goderich mechanical evaporation plant, it didn’t cause us to lose any long-term focus,” Dr. Brisimitzakis said. “The hard work, dedication and can-do spirit of our employees helped us safely overcome the tornado damages, and we’re coming back, stronger than ever.”

Sifto Canada Corp. operates the largest rock salt mine in the world and is Canada’s leading provider and marketer of highway and consumer deicing salt. Based in Kansas City, Mo., Compass Minerals is a leading producer of minerals, including salt, sulfate of potash specialty fertilizer and magnesium chloride.

The company mines and provides highway deicing salt to customers across North American and the United Kingdom and specialty fertilizers to growers around the world.

Goderich Signal-Star


New lock equipment on the St. Lawrence Seaway to be tested Friday

3/9 - Because of warmer temperatures, new lock equipment on the St. Lawrence Seaway will be tested. The St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation announced Thursday that new equipment, which involves running water through the locks, will be tested on Friday and is expected to continue through March 15.

Due to warm temperatures along the St. Lawrence River, the testing will disturb the ice cover above and below both Snell and Eisenhower Locks, coinciding when icebreaking will begin on the river.

Ice fishermen, snowmobile and all terrain vehicle operators are urged to refrain from using below and in between the two locks as testing activity will cause an unstable ice cover.

Newport Television


Seaway Notice

3/9 - Maximum Allowable Drafts – Montreal Lake Ontario Section In the Montreal to Lake Ontario section, the maximum allowable draft is increased to 80.8 dm (26' 06"), subject to favorable water elevations, effective March 22, 2012. This increase applies to all vessels. In addition, there will be zero tolerance for ship's draft in excess of 80.8 dm (26' 6").

Mariners are reminded that for ships loaded to a draft greater than 80.0 dm (26' 3"), speeds will be monitored carefully between St. Lambert Lock and St. Nicolas Island.


Visitors will soon be able to climb to the top of the Fort Gratiot Lighthouse

3/9 - Port Huron, Mich. – A grand re-opening of the Fort Gratiot Light Station is set for May 19, said Susan Bennett, executive director of the Port Huron Museum. Visitors will be able to walk the grounds of the light station, climb the restored lighthouse tower and stop by buildings on the premises. Further details of the event still are being worked out, Bennett said.

Safety concerns closed the lighthouse to the public in August 2008, when bricks began falling from the structure.

Bennett expected the newly opened lighthouse would draw 10,000 to 15,000 visitors this year. Light house enthusiasts, historical groups and former members of the U.S. Coast Guard all are interested in the light station. “The appeal of this particular site is very, very broad,” Bennett said.

Built in 1829, the lighthouse is the oldest in the state. While many lighthouses are situated off a pier, the Fort Gratiot Lighthouse is on land. “It’s a pretty unique site in that it is so accessible,” she said. “It’s got a lot of notoriety.”

At the end of May, the light station grounds will be open daily from dawn till dusk. Museum staff will be on site from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Bennett said.

The museum will host tours of the light station. Visitors will be able to learn about the site’s history and peek inside buildings under construction. People will be able to climb the lighthouse tower and check out exhibits at the light station. A gift shop will be located in the fog signal building.

Bennett said the Friends of the Fort Gratiot Light group has raised at least $60,000 for the light station in the past several years — about $20,000 was used to match a grant for recent work.

“Being able to raise that kind of money has been significant,” Bennett said.

Dennis Delor of St. Clair County Parks and Recreation agreed. Many of the group’s members have volunteered time and money to restore the light station, he said. And the group remains dedicated to the ongoing project.

St. Clair County acquired the deed for the property from the federal government in September 2010.

Work began at the light station late last summer. Crews have a few final details to complete before the end of May, Delor said.

Workers are expected to touch up painting on the lighthouse’s north side, Delor said. Patches of paint peeled off from the bricks following application last year. He said that likely occurred because of moisture in the bricks. The repainting will be done at no cost to the county.

The fog signal building, which received a new metal roof in past months, will be painted red. Some landscape restoration also will be made around the tower.

Aside from the paint issue, Delor said the project has gone smoothly. He said further restoration to the interior of the tower and surrounding light station buildings would continue as grants became available.

“We’re creating a legacy for future generations to understand the importance of maritime history and its impact on St. Clair County,” Delor said.

How To Help The Light Station

Buy A Brick
Bricks removed from the Fort Gratiot Lighthouse can be bought at the Port Huron Museum, 1115 Sixth St., Port Huron from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily and Weekends in the City, 406 Water St. in Port Huron. The bricks date to 1829 and were salvaged during restoration work this fall. Bricks come with a certificate of authenticity and are available with a photographic overlay for $30. A plain, unadorned brick costs $10. All proceeds from the brick sales will go to the restoration and preservation of the Fort Gratiot Light Station.

Overnight At The Light
The Port Huron Museum is taking reservations for Overnight at the Light — a program where groups of 20 to 42 people stay overnight in the duplex at the Fort Gratiot Light Station. The program costs $25 a person. It includes activities such as a tour of the light station and a climb up the lighthouse tower. The museum currently is taking reservations for the beginning of May. To get involved, call Anita Varty of the Port Huron Museum.

To contact the museum, go to or call (810) 982-0891.

Port Huron Times Herald


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.

1985 The Norwegian freighter TRONSTAD first came to the Great Lakes as a Pre-Seaway visitor in 1957. It returned on another 12 occasions after the new waterway opened in 1959. The vessel was sailing a d) CRUZ DEL SUR when it was confiscated by U.S. authorities for drug smuggling and brought to Miami on this date in 1985. The 30-year old ship was towed out into the Atlantic and scuttled off Miami on December 19, 1986.

2007 The Greek freighter WISMAR was built in 1979 and came through the Seaway in 1980. It lost power below Lock 2 of the Welland Canal while up bound on August 30, 1980, and had to drop anchor. It was sailing as h) GRACIA from Thailand to Dakar, Senegal, with a cargo of rice, when the engine failed in heavy weather in the Indian Ocean on February 27, 2007. The crew took to the lifeboats and were rescued. The former Great Lakes visitor was last seen on March 7, adrift, with a 20 degree list to port, and likely soon sank.

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


Port Reports -  March 8

Cleveland, Ohio - Jake Kniola
The tug Samuel de Champlain and barge Innovation departed their lay-up berth at Cleveland Wednesday evening. They were upbound for Alpena, Mich., to load.


Rolls-Royce completes upgrade of Interlake’s tug Dorothy Ann

3/8 - Cleveland, Ohio – Interlake Steamship Company’s tug Dorothy Ann and barge Pathfinder departed Great Lakes Shipyard Wednesday. Rolls-Royce Commercial Marine has completed an upgrade to the Dorothy Ann, converting the Rolls-Royce/Ulstein azimuth thrusters from fixed-pitch to controllable-pitch propellers, replacing the lower drive units and all thruster control systems.

Great Lakes Shipyard performed the work under its new affiliation as the Rolls-Royce Regional Service Center on the Great Lakes. This contract marks the first project since Great Lakes Shipyard and Rolls-Royce Commercial Marine Inc. teamed up to create the Marine Service Center.

Great Lakes Shipyard, a division of The Great Lakes Towing Company, operates a full-service shipyard specializing in all types of vessel new construction, repairs and modifications. In addition to the Shipyard, The Great Lakes Towing Company operates the largest fleet of tugs on the Great Lakes serving 40 ports and has been in continuous business since 1899. To learn more about the company and its shipyard, visit


Spring Icebreaking on Lake St. Louis

3/8 - Québec City, Québec - The Canadian Coast Guard is notifying residents and those using the shores of Lake St. Louis that it intends to begin spring icebreaking operations at the entrance of the St. Lawrence Seaway, on the north and south shores of the Lake and in Bay Des Cascades, around March 14. The date is only an indicator, and activities could begin before or after that period, according to operational needs or prevailing weather conditions.

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


Lake Michigan town fears grounding of historic ferry in clash with federal government

3/8 - Ludington, Mich. — On many a summer evening, Jim Fay joins dozens of onlookers on this tourist town’s waterfront, exchanging friendly waves with passengers and crew members as the S.S. Badger chugs into the harbor after a 60-mile voyage across Lake Michigan from Manitowoc, Wis.

It’s a cherished ritual in Ludington, and its days may be numbered.

The Badger, the nation’s last working coal-fired steamship, is under orders from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to stop dumping waste ash into the lake. Coal ash contains low concentrations of arsenic, mercury and other heavy metals, although it’s not classified as hazardous. The ferry discharges more than 500 tons during a typical season from May to October, and operators say there’s no quick fix.

If the standoff isn’t resolved, the Badger could be grounded — a disheartening prospect in its home port of Ludington, which takes pride in its maritime history as do many Great Lakes coastal towns. The ship is also important to the economy, employing about 200 during sailing season.

“It’s rooted deep in this community,” said Fay, 64, whose father, like those of his closest boyhood pals, was a ferry crewman. “The Badger is the last of its kind. I just hate the idea of losing it.”

Up and down the shorelines, relics of history draw tourists by evoking nostalgia for a simpler time. The clip-clop of horses pulling carriages is a familiar sound on car-free Mackinac Island. In Saugatuck, a hand-drawn chain ferry dating from shortly after Michigan gained statehood in 1837 still traverses the Kalamazoo River. The village of Leland has “Fishtown,” a tiny remnant of a commercial fishing village featuring weather-beaten shacks, smokehouses and charter boats.

The Badger, a stout vessel with a wide smokestack and an open-air bow popular with sunbathers, is all that remains of a ferry fleet that hauled railcars across the lake for more than a century. Most of the boats met a sad ending in scrapyards by the late 1980s. The Badger survived when an entrepreneur refurbished it for leisure travel.

The 410-foot ship now has dining areas and a movie lounge as well as many original features, including a mechanism that allows the captain to transmit orders to engineers below decks by moving brass levers on a dial. Rates vary, but a one-way trip for a family of four and their vehicle comes to about $200.

Many townspeople are relatives or friends of former crew members. Others have fond memories of riding the ferries with parents or grandparents.

“The Badger has always been part of their lives and their experience of being here in Ludington,” Mayor John Henderson said.

But it’s not always easy to keep one foot in the past while meeting modern standards.

Regulators four years ago gave Lake Michigan Carferry, which runs the Badger, until this December to change its ash disposal method or fuel type. The company says it’s working on a switch to natural gas but needs more time to retrofit the craft, which launched in 1953. Senior chief engineer Charles Cart says it could take up to five years.

Lake Michigan Carferry insists there’s little if any harm from the coal ash, which is mixed with water to form slurry and piped overboard. It says an EPA-certified lab found the material is hundreds of times below hazardous levels.

Tinka Hyde, water division chief with EPA’s Chicago regional office, said the agency has questions about the tests and will review the Badger’s application for an extension.

“If they want to continue to operate, they will need to be in compliance with the Clean Water Act,” Hyde said.

Environmentalists say the contaminants add up over time. And supporters of a rival company say the Badger shouldn’t expect special treatment. “They’re putting almost 8,000 pounds of ash a day into Lake Michigan,” said Steve Warmington, mayor of Muskegon, a city 60 miles south where a diesel-powered ferryboat called the Lake Express is based. “There’s no way in the world you can convince me that’s good for the lake.”

Badger backers say the Muskegon mayor wants to scuttle a competitor, which he denies.

In Ludington, businesses say grounding the Badger would be devastating. It hauls about 300,000 passengers and 30,000 vehicles a year, and many riders stay around long enough to shop, dine or stay overnight. A study by West Shore Community College near Ludington said the ferry pumps $35 million a year into the economy.

Motel owner David Bourgette figures he’d lose 25 percent of his customers without the Badger.

“I care about our lake. But the carferry isn’t doing that much damage,” he said. “If there was one dinosaur left, would we kill it off just because it wasn’t mixing in just right?”

A large, hand-painted Badger mural decorates the outside wall of Jerry and Sally Cole’s downtown antique shop, where ferry memorabilia are on display in glass cases — placemats, playing cards, matchbooks.

“There are a slew of people who collect these things,” Sally Cole said. “It shows how much the Badger means to the area.”

The Associated Press.


Maid of the Mist will operate in 2012

3/8 - After threatening to keep its boats out of the water, the Maid of the Mist Steamboat Co. says it will operate this year. The company issued a press release Tuesday saying it had completed discussions with the Niagara Parks Commission and will continue offering boat tours in the Niagara River at the base of the falls.

Maid of the Mist lost the bid to operate the tours in the future when the NPC signed a 30-year lease agreement with Hornblower Canada Company two weeks ago. The deal, which starts in 2014, is worth around $500 million, which the parks commission said is $300 million more than what Maid of the Mist would have paid them based on their current month-to-month contract.

A few hours after the NPC announced the boat tour lease had been awarded to Hornblower on Feb. 22, Maid of the Mist president Chris Glynn issued a statement saying the decision created “uncertainties, including whether or not a boat tour service would be offered in Ontario in 2012.”

However, the company changed it's tune by announcing Tuesday it would open the 2012 season on April 12 – three weeks earlier than last year. Unseasonably warm temperatures and ice-free conditions on Lake Erie have allowed the early start to the company's 166th season.

Janice Thomson, chairwoman of the NPC, said she's glad the issue is resolved. She met with Maid’s representatives Monday afternoon to finalize plans for the season.

“We're thrilled there will be a Maid of the Mist operating this year,” she said. “We had a very brief operational meeting with them to talk about the various things that come up and that's an annual meeting. It was nothing unusual.”

Maid of the Mist Steamboat Co. has the option to run tours on both sides of the river in 2012 and 2013, but Hornblower will take over the boat tours on the Canadian side starting in the spring of 2014. The Maid of the Mist still has a long-term lease to run boat tours on the U.S.-side, but it currently stores its boats on Canadian docks in the winter.

Hornblower owner Terry MacRae said he will talk with Maid’s officials about the situation, but seemed cold to the idea when asked about it just after being awarded the lease last month.

“We support New York state having a boat tour attraction … but I think it will be complicated to have two operators in the gorge,” he said. Maid of the Mist officials turned down requests for interviews and said they wouldn't comment to the media.

Niagara Falls Review


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.

1981 MEZADA of the Zim Israel Line first came to the Great Lakes in 1966 after it had been lengthened to 676 feet. The vessel had been built in 1960 and foundered after breaking in two about 100 miles east of Bermuda on March 8, 1981. The 19,247 gross ton bulk carrier was traveling from Haifa to Baltimore with a cargo of potash and 24 lives were lost while only 11 sailors were rescued.

Data from: Skip Gillham, Joe Barr, Historical Collections of the Great Lakes, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series


Twin Ports may get an early start

3/7 - Duluth, Minn. – The Mesabi Miner is scheduled to depart the Superior Midwest Energy Terminal with coal for Presque Isle (Marquette) during the afternoon of March 15.

If the Miner holds to this schedule, it would be among the earliest openers for the shipping season on western Lake Superior in at least 15 years. Since 1997 there has only been one instance of an earlier sailing from the Twin Ports; the James R. Barker got underway from SMET on March 14, 2006. The early start that season was due in part to mild weather and minimal ice on Lake Superior, and conditions are similar this spring.

Since the late 1990s the Twin Ports' first activity is typically a load out of SMET between March 17 and 21, allowing a ship to complete one or two coal deliveries on Lake Superior before the Soo Locks open on March 25. This season the Mesabi Miner is slated to make three Lake Superior deliveries before loading her first cargo for the lower lakes. She's due back at SMET on March 18 to load for Taconite Harbor, on March 20 to take on another load for Presque Isle, and on March 23 to load for St. Clair.

Also on the schedule at SMET are Birchglen on March 23, James R. Barker and CSL Assiniboine on March 26, Paul R. Tregurtha and Rt. Hon. Paul J. Martin on March 27, Cedarglen on March 28 and American Century on March 30. Other vessels in layup at Duluth-Superior typically begin to get underway on 22 - 23 March to load iron ore for the lower lakes.

The Superior - Thunder Bay rail ferry Incan Superior is believed to have set the all-time record, winter navigation experiments notwithstanding, for an early start to the western Lake Superior season when she arrived at Duluth from Thunder Bay to begin her regular run on March 11, 1987. The Twin Ports' earliest spring arrival of a vessel from below the Soo Locks was the Stewart J. Cort on March 22, 1993.


Innovative ship design for familiar saltie fleet

3/7 - A striking new multipurpose dry cargo ship is nearing completion in the Netherlands for a shipowner which does frequent business on the Great Lakes. The Vikingbank, IMO 9604184, is on the ways at the Ferus Smit yard at Westerbroek and is scheduled for launch within the next week, possibly on 10 March. She's due to enter service in April under the ownership of Pot Scheepvaart with Wagenborg Shipping as the operator. Familiar Great Lakes visitors Kwintebank and Varnebank sail under similar arrangement.

With a 12,000 metric ton deadweight capacity at a draft of around 8m / 26', Vikingbank is similar in size to Wagenborg's recent E-class vessels, but she'll be easy to distinguish from a ship like the Erieborg. Vikingbank looks to be a part of the growing trend of rather radical bow designs coming out of European shipbuilders and design firms. While the appearances of vessels with the Ulstein Group's X-Bow or Groot Ship Design's Cross-Bow bring to mind giant birch bark canoes or stealth warplanes, the Vikingbank's bow design is strongly reminiscent of early 20th century dreadnought battleships with its slender cross-section, raised forecastle, and gently aft-raked stem. The Ulstein and Groot designs reduce fuel consumption and slamming in heavy seas; the Vikingbank's bow certainly looks to have a similar purpose.

Vikingbank is due for delivery in April. When she enters service she'll be the largest ship in the Pot Scheepvart-owned fleet. Charterer Wagenborg shipping has sent one or both of her fleetmates Kwintebank and Varnebank to the Great Lakes during each of the last ten shipping seasons, so it would not be a surprise to see Vikingbank make a Lakes debut in 2012. If she does, she would join Fednav's bulker Federal Yukina as the first Great Lakes-capable salties sporting next generation bow designs.


More U.S. western coal headed for export through Great Lakes

3/7 - Superior, Wis. – Coal exports from Midwest Energy Resources on Lake Superior in Wisconsin will more than quadruple in 2012, an executive at the terminal said Monday, signaling a strategic shift from western coal producers.

Congestion at major U.S. ports, a sometimes-exasperating voyage down the Mississippi River because of aging locks, and few major weather disruptions on the Great Lakes are making the so-called Northern Corridor a viable option for producers.

Bob Sarvela, director of transportation and marketing at Midwest, said he has already booked 1.5 million metric tons of coal through Superior, Wis., this year, up from 342,000 mt in 2011. One coal producer even entered a three-year agreement to ship bituminous Montana coal.

The process can be costly. Either BNSF or Union Pacific haul the coal from Montana to Superior, which is shipped to the Port of Quebec and then loaded onto an ocean-going vessel. Five lake vessels from Superior can fill a Capesize ship.

Transit time from the Port of Quebec to Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Antwerp is about 9.5 to 10 days.

"This is being looked at as a primary route to Europe," Sarvela said. "It's a very reliable, stable route. The railroads have ample capacity and the Canadian vessel companies are bringing in new ships so they can handle the capacity."

One of those Canadian companies, Canada Steamship Lines, is adding four ships in the next 12 months and may add more, according to vice president of marketing and customer service Tom Brodeur.

Brodeur said Europe "has too much coal right now" and the market is currently weak, but he is confident that the long-term outlook remains strong. He said low-sulfur, 10,300-Btu PRB coal is popular with European utilities.

"Why shouldn't this movement continue to go on?" Brodeur said. "The U.S. is turning into a major exporter as well as Canada. There's a long-term need for steam coal in Europe. There's a good future here."



Fednav welcomes Federal Sable to its fleet first of a series of 14 new ships

3/7 - Montreal, QC – Fednav Limited, Canada's largest ocean-going, dry-bulk, ship-owning and chartering group, has welcomed the Federal Sable at a naming ceremony at Ouhua shipyard, in Zhoushan, China. A 37,200 DWT handysize bulker, this new addition will reduce environmental impact while launching a period of growth and renewal for the Fednav fleet.

The Federal Sable is the first in a series of 14 new ships ordered from Japanese and Chinese shipyards. Last year, Fednav signed for eight 37,200 DWT ice-class bulk carriers at Ouhua Shipyard, to be delivered in 2011 and 2012, of which the Federal Sable is the first. Also last year, Fednav ordered four ice-class bulk carriers with long-term partners, Sumitomo Corporation and Oshima Shipyard. These 55,000 DWT vessels will be built for trading in winter conditions, in areas like the St. Lawrence River, and will be delivered between 2012 and 2014. Lastly, Fednav also has ordered at the Oshima Shipyard two additional 35,300 DWT bulk carriers, to be received in 2012 and 2013.

These 14 vessels represent an investment of over 400 million dollars.

The ceremony in China was attended by Mark L. Pathy, President and co-CEO of Fednav Limited, as well as by several customers and business partners. The godmother of the vessel is Mrs. Jo Makin, wife of Mr. Ed Makin, President and CEO of Lantic Sugar in Montreal.

Paul M. Pathy, President and co-CEO of Fednav Group explains: "With this investment, Fednav further demonstrates its confidence in the continued growth of its business - we are listening closely to our customers."

The Federal Sable has been built with a number of environmental improvements. The vessel is more fuel efficient than Fednav's previous class of ships, while having a larger cargo load, thus emitting significantly less greenhouse gases and other air emissions. The Federal Sable and its sister ships are equipped with Tier II engines, which reduce nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions that contribute to global warming. Fednav committed to the installation of these types of engines a full two years before international regulations require it for new ships.

The design also incorporates more powerful ballast pumps and enough space to enable the installation of ballast water treatment equipment. To help facilitate this process, Fednav is testing a new ballast water treatment method on one of its vessels this year.

"The environment is one of our top priorities when we consider the design of a new vessel. It is important to us and also to our customers that our vessels not only respects but exceeds environmental regulations in Canada and worldwide,” Pathy said.

Facts and stats of MV Federal Sable:
Length: 190 metres (approximately the length of two Canadian football fields)
Beam: 28.3 metres
Flagged: Marshall Islands
Class: Ice-Class 1C, Lloyd's Register
Built: Ouhua Shipyard, China
Named after: Sable River, Nova Scotia, Canada
Number of crew: 22



Wood framing replaced on U.S. Brig Niagara at Great Lakes Shipyard

3/7 - Cleveland, Ohio – Erie, Pennsylvania’s Flagship, the US Brig Niagara, arrived at Great Lakes Shipyard Monday to replace framing in the bow. The work on the Niagara will include replacing three frames and will take approximately four weeks.

Last September the Niagara spent two weeks in the Great Lakes Shipyard’s drydock for out –of-water surveying, hull cleaning and painting, propeller inspection, and other routine maintenance.

Owned and maintained by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, an agency of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the Flagship Niagara is a reconstruction of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry’s ship that led the Battle of Lake Erie victory on September 10, 1813. The bicentennial celebration of Commodore Perry and the Niagara’s Battle of Lake Erie victory will take place in September, 2013.


Steel production in Great Lakes states falls 9,000 tons

3/7 - Raw steel production in the country's Great Lakes region was 652,000 tons in the week that ended Saturday, according to estimates from the American Iron and Steel Institute. Production was down 9,000 tons from 661,000 tons in the prior week.

Raw steel from Indiana and the Chicago area represents the majority of production in the Great Lakes.

Production in the Southern District was estimated at 682,000 tons during the period that ended Saturday, up from 670,000 tons produced a week earlier.

Domestic mills produced more than 1.9 million tons of steel last week, up 8 percent from the same period in 2011. U.S. steel mills operated 78.8 percent of the available production capacity last week, which is up from a 78.1 percent production rate a week earlier.

An estimated 17.2 million tons of steel has been produced so far in 2012 at domestic steel mills, compared to about 16.1 million tons made at the same time last year.

Last week, the AISI said in a report that U.S. indirect steel trade grew at a "substantial" rate in 2010 compared to 2008 and 2009. Indirect steel trade includes imports and exports of steel-containing goods, such as automobiles. Imports were nearly 34 million tons, up 19 percent from 2009, and the trade deficit was 11.9 million tons, up 23 percent from the year earlier.

AISI President and CEO Thomas Gibson said the trade group and other domestic industries continue to support apply countervailing duty and dumping law to address trade-distorting behavior.

NW Times


Lakes Pilots Association looking for new applicants

3/7 - Port Huron, Mich. – Lakes Pilots Association, Inc., based in Port Huron, is seeking applications from those interested in future employment as a U.S. registered pilot on foreign vessels in District 2 of the Great Lakes. Lakes Pilots provides pilotage service in all the waters and ports from Port Huron to Buffalo, N.Y., excluding the Welland Canal. Applicants must hold a U.S. Master, Mate or Pilot license with at least 24 months licensed service or comparable experience on vessels or integrated tugs and tows, of 4,000 gross tons, or over, operating on the Great Lakes or Oceans. Those applicants qualifying with ocean service must have obtained at least six months of licensed service or comparable experience on the Great Lakes. A complete list of requirements may be found in CFR Title 46, Shipping, Part 401, Subpart B. Anyone interested must first apply to the Director of Great Lakes Pilotage in Washington, D.C. for a preliminary review to determine eligibility. Once approved, applications will be forwarded to Lakes Pilots Association and reviewed as positions become open.

Applications and Information can be found  at this link

For more information contact: Director of Great Lakes Pilotage (202) 372-1537 or Lakes Pilots Association (810) 984-2541


Updates -  March 7

Historical Perspectives Gallery updated - new pictures in the Normac, H C Heimbecker, and Manzzutti galleries


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. The ship was repaired at Welland and returned to service on October 6.

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.

1969 The British freighter MONTCALM, a Seaway trader when new in 1960, made 29 trips to the Great Lakes to the end of 1967. A truck in #1 hold got loose on this date in an Atlantic storm 420 miles southeast of Halifax in 1969 causing a heavy list and a 12 foot gash in the hull. A U.S.C.G. Helicopter dropped extra pumps and the ship reached Halifax and safety. The vessel later became a livestock carrier and arrived at Chittagong, Bangladesh, for scrapping as c) SIBA EDOLO on August 8, 1988.

1973 BISCAYA was a Danish flag freighter that first came inland in 1965. It was sailing as c) MARGARITA, and under Greek registry, when it sank following a collision with the ANZOATEGUI, a Venezuelan reefer ship, while in bound about 39 miles off Maracaibo, Venezuela on March 7, 1983. It was carrying barytes, a mineral used in oil-drilling fluids, from El Salvador.

1982 OCEAN LEADER came to the Great Lakes in 1980 and ran aground up bound near Sault Ste. Marie on November 11 when the radar malfunctioned. Later, in 1982 as c) FINIKI, the then 7-year old ship hit an underwater obstruction 10 miles west of the Moruka Light, while en route to Paramaribo, Suriname. The vessel reached Georgetown, Guyana, and was declared a total loss. It was reported as scuttled in the Atlantic off Jacksonville, Fla., on or after December 9, 1982.

Data from: Skip Gillham, 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 6

Halifax, N.S. - Mac Mackay
Salarium entered the Novadock floating drydock at Halifax Shipyard Monday morning, March 5. At nearby pier 9, Atlantic Superior was getting the finishing touches on her refit and taking on fuel. She was in the drydock from January 29 to February 22.


Lake Superior Marine Museum seeks volunteers for spring cleaning

3/6 - Duluth, Minn. – The Lake Superior Marine Museum Association (LSMMA), in conjunction with the Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center, will host its annual Spring Cleaning Day on Wednesday, March 14 at the Visitor Center at 600 South Lake Ave. in Canal Park in Duluth. Volunteers are needed from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. to dust, update various displays and exhibits, polish brass, make sure electronic equipment is in working order and assist Park Rangers with any special projects. Lunch will be provided by Grandma’s Saloon & Grill. If you can volunteer to help, contact LSMMA at 218-727-2497 or email


Seaway Ship Enthusiasts next meeting March 15

3/6 - The next Seaway Ship Enthusiasts' next meeting will be this Thursday at 7 p.m. in the Carriage Hall of the Brockville Museum. This evening will be a theme night – Seaway Salties – so bring in any images that you may wish to share relating to those fascinating and sometimes exotic freighters from foreign lands. Reminisce about the fleets no longer with us such Hamburg-Chicago Line, Grace Line, or the Japanese Iino Lines. Anyone interested in ships is welcome for a modest entry fee of $3.50 (including coffee).

The SSE was formed almost two years ago and meets every second month between September and May. We have a variety of programs including members’ theme nights, guest speakers, slide/digital image shows from the museum's collection and individual collections

For further information please contact Viktor Kaczkowski, at the Brockville Museum:


Tugboat owners invited to Redpath Waterfront Festival in Toronto

3/6 - Toronto, Ont. – The East Coasters are coming to the party June 21-24. That’s when Toronto’s Waterfront will come alive as Saltscapes of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick offer the ultimate in east coast music, cuisine, artists, entertainment and more.

This is a special invitation to owners of beautiful classic tugboats. A tugboat display will be a feature of the Heritage Trail that showcases these heroes of the harbor in commercial, private, and storybook lore. The tugboat display is your opportunity to showcase your tug and engage festival attendees in learning about the history of tugs and their role on Canada’s waterways. Complimentary dock space (June 20-24)) and an invitation to a Captains Dinner/Reception will be provided to accepted participants.

The Redpath Waterfront Festival is a project of Waters Edge Festivals & Events, an Ontario not-for-profit organization. For more information, contact:
Lisa Slack 416-952-7232


Updates -  March 6

Weekly Website Updates
Historical Perspectives Gallery updated - new pictures in the Normac gallery


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.

1982 INDIANA was chartered to Swedish interests when it made four trips to the Great Lakes in 1962. It was sailing as d) ZOE II, under Liberian registry, when it was abandoned in the Adriatic Sea, south of Pula, Yugoslavia, (now Croatia) after a severe list had developed while on a voyage from Koper, Yugoslavia, (now Slovenia) to Ancona, Italy, on March 6, 1982. No further trace of the ship was ever found.

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


Port Reports -  March 5

South Chicago - Lou Gerard
Sunday morning the Algomarine assisted by the tug Colorado were heading for Chicago Export Dock with salt about 7:30 a.m.

Cleveland, Ohio – Jake Kniola
Tug Dorothy Ann and barge Pathfinder left their lay-up dock at the Great Lakes Shipyard Sunday. They headed westbound, then eastbound, turning back west about 10 p.m. off East Lake, Ohio. They appeared to be testing maneuvering after propulsion work at the shipyard. The upgrade converted the Dorothy Ann's Rolls-Royce/Ulstien azimuth thrusters from fixed-pitch to controllable-pitch propellers. The project included replacement of the lower drive units as well as all thruster control systems on the tug.
The brig Niagara moved in after the Pathfinder departed.


Updates -  March 5

Weekly Website Updates
News Photo Gallery
New Videos on our YouTube Channel
Historical Perspectives Gallery updated - New for March Normac


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 SouèµpŽ th Chicago, Illinois. In 1940, she was sold, renamed b.) L.S. WESCOAT and converted to a tanker. She was scrapped in Germany in 1965.

1997 - The former Greek bulk carrier ANTONIS P. LEMOS had been built at Osaka, Japan, in 1976, and visited the Great Lakes that year. As c) ALBION TWO, the ship departed Gdynia, Poland, for Kingston, Jamaica, with a cargo of steel products and was reported as missing on March 5. Wreckage was later found off the coast of France and identified as from the missing vessel. All 25 crew members were lost. The ship had also been through the Seaway as b) MACFRIENDSHIP in November 1993 with a cargo of steel for Hamilton.

Data from: Skip Gillham, Max Hanley, Eric Holst, Mike Nicholls, Joe Barr, Father Dowling Collection, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series


Winds cause Assiniboine to break free

3/4 - Port Colborne, Ont. - High winds overnight Saturday in Port Colborne caused the CSL Assiniboine's stern to break lose in the Welland Canal and blow into the Algowood, damage was reported as minor. Both vessels were laid up for the winter. A wind warning issued by Environment Canada was in effect for the region, Long Point recorded a 61 knot wind gust overnight. The Assiniboine was reported to have pulled several bollards out of the ground. Saturday afternoon her stern was moored to the east bank of the canal.

Welland Tribune


Updates -  March 4

New Video on our YouTube Channel


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.

1976 - The former British freighter GRETAFIELD of 1952, a Great Lakes visitor for the first time in 1962, hit the breakwall entering Cape Town, South Africa, as c) SIROCCO I and received extensive bow damage. It was sold to Taiwanese shipbreakers and departed May 15,1976, arriving at Kaohsiung July 5 for dismantling.

1983 - The former Danish freighter MARIE SKOU of 1962, inland for the first time in 1966, caught fire in the engine room and was abandoned by the crew south of Sicily as b) CLEO C. The vessel was towed to Malta on March 9 and scrapped there beginning in April.

1986 - The former Greek freighter YEMELOS, built in 1962 as MIGOLINA and renamed in 1972, first came inland in 1973. It was abandoned as e) TANFORY off Trincomolee, Sri Lanka, en route from Kandla, India, to Chittagong, Bangladesh, with salt and bentonite. The ship was presumed to have sunk.

1995 - The tug ERIE NO. 1, a) DUNKIRK, b) PEGGY M., c) RENE PURVIS sank at the dock in Toronto. It was raised by a crane June 18, 1995, but it snapped dropping the hull on the dock breaking its back. The vessel was broken up at that location in late 1995.

2011 - LOUIS JOLLIET caught fire at Montreal during winter work. The former St. Lawrence ferry was being used as an excursion vessel.

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


Coast Guard starts breaking ice in Twin Ports

3/3 - Superior, Wis. – Icebreaking gets underway in the Duluth-Superior port starting Monday.

The U.S. Coast Guard cutter Alder will commence icebreaking operations in the waters of the Duluth Harbor out to Lake Superior. This will include ice-covered areas normally used for recreation such as he Superior Front Channel, Superior and Duluth harbor basins, East Gate, the entry channels into Duluth and Superior harbors and ice in Lake Superior adjacent to Minnesota Point. It also includes navigable waters of Silver Bay, Taconite Harbor and Two Harbors in Minnesota.

These icebreaking efforts will expand and increase in frequency as the ice and demands of shipping require. All ice fishermen should remove their ice shacks and equipment from these areas. Snowmobile and all-terrain vehicle operators and other recreational users of the ice should avoid the chipping channels, plan activities carefully and use caution near the ice.

Superior Telegram


Green Bay ice breaking operations

3/3 - Green Bay, Wis. – U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Mobile Bay will be conducting icebreaking operations in Green Bay starting Monday morning. Mobile Bay will enter Green Bay at Sherwood Point Light and proceed northwest towards Green Island, then along the Lake Carriers Association (LCA) track lines to Rock Island Passage and Porte Des Morts. Ice breaking operations will include activities in and around Sturgeon Bay and Escanaba.

These icebreaking efforts will expand and increase in frequency as ice conditions and demands of shipping require. This will include all navigable waters in and around the ports of Green Bay, Sturgeon Bay, Marinette, Menominee and Escanaba.


106-year-old barge sinks in Duluth harbor

3/3 - Duluth, Minn. – Workers are trying to salvage a 1,000-gallon propane tank from a 120-foot-long barge that sank in a Duluth harbor slip early Thursday. The tank is nearly full, said Petty Officer First Class Lauren Jorgensen, U.S. Coast Guard 9th District spokeswoman.

“Right now, the Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit is working with the owner and salvage companies to get the propane tank off the barge,” she said. “That is what they are focusing on now.”

The 106-year-old barge will have to be removed if it is a hazard to navigation, negatively affects the harbor in some way or if it will cause pollution, Jorgensen said.

“At first look it doesn’t appear that the barge will meet any of those criteria,” she said. “The Marine Safety Office did mention that the owner told them that they plan to remove it.”

The barge is owned by Duluth Timber Co., according to the Coast Guard. Company owner Max Taubert did not immediately return calls seeking comment. The Coast Guard doesn’t know why the barge sank. The Duluth Fire Department was called to the barge, located in the slip south of Railroad Street, shortly before 3 a.m.

“We got called down there to see if we could help him,” Duluth Assistant Fire Chief Erik Simonson said. “We just have small pumps for that type of thing and it couldn’t keep up with the water, so the barge sank.”

“Now there is a tug and a barge at the bottom of the slip,” he said, referring to the tugboat Essayons.

The 85-foot-long Essayons sank nearby in about 20 feet of water on March 23, 2009, with only its smokestack and part of its cabin protruding from the harbor. A business partner of owner Hobart Finn theorized at the time that a strong northeaster and ice may have sunk the tug. Finn declined to talk about the Essayons on Thursday.

The Essayons was built in Muskegon, Mich., in 1906 for the Army Corps of Engineers. Finn bought the boat from Zenith Dredge in 1994 and planned to convert it into a bed and breakfast.

But his plans were set back by vandals. In 1997, the tug sustained $10,000 to $15,000 in damage at the hands of three 11- to 12-year-old vandals who lit several fires aboard the boat, spray-painted the interior and broke windows. In 2004, a second vandal attack caused about $10,000 in damage.

In 2007, the vessel survived a fire at Finn’s neighboring business — True North Cedar, a manufacturer of cedar shakes and other building materials.

Duluth News Tribune


Aid to Navigation Change

3/3 - Lake Huron - Cheboygan - Chart 14881
Cheboygan River Entrance Lighted Buoy "2" (LLNR 11780) change the characteristic from Q R to Fl R 2.5s. The nominal range will remain the same.


Updates -  March 3

New Video on our YouTube Channel
Historical Perspectives Gallery updated - new gallery for March Normac


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.

1947: The NOVADOC of the Paterson fleet is lost with all hands (24 sailors) off Portland, Maine, while en route from Nova Scotia to New York City with a cargo of gypsum. The ship had also sailed as NORTHTON for the Mathews and Misener fleets.

1958: The tanker DON JOSE, formerly the ITORORO that operated on the Great Lakes for Transit Tankers & Terminals in the early 1940s, is destroyed by a fire, likely in a loading mishap, at Talara, Peru.

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


Port Reports -  March 2

Sturgeon Bay, Wis. – Wendell Wilke
On Thursday, American Mariner was assisted into the graving dock by Selvick tugs.

Straits of Mackinac
Capt. Henry Jackman and Algomarine were westbound Thursday with salt. USCG Katmai Bay was anchored off St. Helena Island and about noon departed to break ice ahead of the vessel passage. They returned to the anchorage at about 4:30 p.m. as the Jackman passed under the Mackinac Bridge. Algomarine followed at 8 p.m.


U.S. Fish and Wildlife has opening Chief Engineer

3/2 - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Alpena Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office, is currently seeking to fill the Chief Engineer position aboard the M/V Spencer F. Baird. The M/V Baird is Region 3's stocking and assessment vessel operating in Lakes Michigan, Huron, and Superior. This vessel is a state-of-the-art research vessel christened in 2006 to fulfill the Service's mission to protect, restore, and enhance native species in the upper Great Lakes.

A typical field season for the vessel begins in April and continues through mid-November. While away from its home port of Cheboygan, MI, the vessel provides all the amenities necessary to make life comfortable while at sea. The position being advertised is a Full Time (Excepted Service Permanent) position.

The announcement is located on USAJOBS (announcement number R3-12-608844-LO) and can be viewed by clicking here.

Minimum Requirement is DDE 4000 HP


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 Reports -  March 1

Goderich, Ont. - Dale Baechler Algomarine backed into the channel early Wednesday morning and was at the Sifto Salt dock loading.


Senators oppose Michigan Coast Guard cuts

3/1 - Washington, D.C. – Michigan's two senators want Congress to reject cuts to the U.S. Coast Guard that could "put at risk the large number of boaters on Lake Michigan."

In a letter Wednesday, Sens. Carl Levin, D-Detroit, and Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing, urged the Senate Homeland Security Committee panel that overseas the Coast Guard to oppose the White House plan. The Obama administration wants to close the Coast Guard's seasonal air facility in Muskegon.

"Closing the station would put at risk the large number of boaters on Lake Michigan during the summer," said the pair, noting it has been in place since 1997 and provides "an important safety presence during the heavy boating season on Lake Michigan.We urge you to continue to ensure Lake Michigan has an adequate Coast Guard presence to protect boaters in this very busy region of the country."

The pair also raised concerns about the 2013 budget request that proposes replacing the five H-65 helicopters in Traverse City with three H-60 helicopters. "We are concerned that if the president's proposal is adopted the Traverse City Air Facility will be left dangerously shorthanded," the pair wrote.

Muskegon facility responded to 182 cases on southern Lake Michigan since 2005. "When it comes to saving lives, time is of the essence. In areas where there is heavy boat traffic as there is on southern Lake Michigan the Coast Guard must be particularly vigilant," the pair said.

Michigan has almost a million registered boats .By comparison, Indiana, with 40 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline, has just over 200,000 registered boats.

Muskegon County built at its own expense a new hangar to the exact specifications of the Coast Guard to house the Muskegon air facility and helicopter.

"When signing this long-term lease the Coast Guard made a commitment to Muskegon County regarding the safety and security of the people of Michigan. The Coast Guard needs to remain in Muskegon," they wrote.

Detroit News


Muskegon groups rally to support Milwaukee Clipper relocation

3/1 - Muskegon, Mich. – Even before approaching Muskegon County commissioners on details of moving the S.S. Milwaukee Clipper to the county's Heritage Landing, ship supporters lined up broad support.

The S.S. Milwaukee Clipper Preservation Inc., a nonprofit group that has restored and created a museum with the historic Great Lakes passenger ferry, presented commissioners this week with a number of letters supporting the move to Heritage Landing on the downtown Muskegon Lake shoreline.

County commissioners seem prepared to direct county staff to seriously explore moving the 361-foot long, 50-foot tall Clipper from the Grand Trunk dock in the Lakeside Business District to the county's festival grounds. After negotiations with the Clipper board of directors, county staff expect to make a recommendation for or against the move to the county board.

The Clipper support is coming from downtown businesses, Heritage Landing festival organizers, tourism promoters, other local historic ship attractions and state historic preservationists.

The Clipper must eventually move from its existing dock, owned by Andrie Inc., because the Muskegon-based marine transportation company will need its Muskegon Lake dock space. The current Lakeside location is not visible or accessible, ship supporters have said.

The move to Heritage Landing will put the Clipper in the center of such attractions as the Muskegon Heritage Museum, the LST 393, the historic Hackley-Hume homes and the Lakeshore Museum Center, supporters pointed out.

"The addition of the Milwaukee Clipper will make downtown Muskegon one of the premier heritage tourism destinations on the Great Lakes, drawing more and more visitors to our city and county," wrote Jon Rooks, owner of the nearby Shoreline Inn and Suites, Terrace Point Marina and Lake House Grille.

Festival organizers who use Heritage Landing to produce the community's summer-time events find the addition of a year-round attraction like the Clipper not only good for the community but for the festival events.

"Our festival and others will benefit through the use of complimentary storage space aboard the ship, the availability of on-board facilities for VIP seating and special events using the ballroom and other (ship) facilities," wrote Kevin Newton, secretary of Alive on the Lakeshore, which produces the Unity Christian music festivals at Heritage Landing.

The Clipper relocation would elevate the ship's visibility and increase the number of visitors that would help the entire Muskegon County tourism industry, tourism promoters said.

"We believe this move will attract new visitors to Muskegon County and offer new choices to visitors already here, thus generating additional room nights and accommodation taxes for Muskegon County," wrote Camille Jourden-Mark, president of the county's Accommodation Tax Advisory Committee.

Jourden-Mark is general manager of Michigan's Adventure Amusement Park, the Lakeshore's leading tourism attraction.

County commissioners also received letters supporting the Clipper relocation from USS Silversides Great Lakes Naval Memorial and Museum Chairman Mark Fazakerley, Muskegon County Lodging Association President Lisa Grossenbacher and Kevin Meyer, president of Meridian Entertainment Group, which is planning a new 10-day summer festival on Heritage Landing.

For Nan Taylor, field representative for the Michigan Historic Preservation Network, the relocation of the Clipper is all about saving history.

"As one of only 36 National Historic Landmarks in Michigan, and the oldest U.S. passenger steamship on the Great Lakes, the Clipper is an irreplaceable piece of U.S. history," Taylor wrote the county board.



Dredging funds for small-town harbors like Saugatuck, Pentwater at risk, group says

3/1 - Saugatuck, Mich. – Felicia Fairchild fears Saugatuck is in danger of losing one of its major economic engines -- the dredging that provides water access to Lake Michigan.

“Without the dredging every two to three years, we’re sunk for boats to get in and out,” said Fairchild, executive director of the Saugatuck-Douglas Convention and Visitors Bureau. She estimates without dredging of the lake channel, the Saugatuck-Douglas area could drastically affect the $155 million tourist industry in Saugatuck/Douglas.

On Tuesday, a delegation from the Great Lakes Small Harbor Coalition will meet with the Great Lakes Commission in Washington, D.C. for the release of $20 million to dredge 112 small harbors in eight states that are in danger of becoming blocked if not dredged.

The commission is basically the voice of the Great Lakes states, responsible for protecting the water resources of the lakes and the St. Lawrence Seaway.

Chuck May, a Manistee resident and chairman of the coalition, said there is $7 billion in a federal Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund intended for dredging federally-approved harbors. “The money is for dredging and maintenance of these harbors. The money is supposed to be there. Why isn’t it being used for the purpose it was intended?”

May believes $750 million from the trust fund is being used to plug federal budget holes every year. “I’m saying that’s misappropriation of this money. It’s wrong and unfair to harbor communities and needs to be fixed,” he said.

The situation is serious for many small harbors along Michigan's west coast, said Tom O’Bryan, area engineer for the Lake Michigan Region U.S. Corps of Engineers, whose division clears and dredges harbors.

“Shallow draft and recreational harbors were taken out of the (federal) budget in 2001 and we’ve been dredging on them from add-ons put in the budget by (Congressional) representatives,” said O’Bryan, noting there is no money in the 2013 budget for any harbor on Michigan’s west coast, except Grand Haven.

O’Bryan said he would like the Corps to help small harbors but can’t do it without funding.

“Without dredging, the harbors will shoal over and boats won’t be able to get in or out, which will seriously hurt the local economy and jobs,” said O’Bryan. Some of the harbors that could be endangered include New Buffalo, St. Joseph, Saugatuck, Holland and Muskegon.

That’s already the situation in Pentwater where the draft at the harbor mouth is only 4 feet. Last fall, sailboat owners decided not to store their boats at Pentwater over the winter because of the chance they wouldn’t be able to get boats out this spring.

“The Corps has told us flat out there’s no money for dredging us anymore. I don’t know what we’re going to do,” Pentwater Village President Juanita Pierman said.

She said a coalition of area businesses, the Pentwater Chamber of Commerce, local service clubs and the Pentwater Yacht Club have come together to try to raise the $125,000 needed to dredge the harbor.

“We’ve got less than 1,000 residents and to raise $125,000 is a lot of money for a small community. And if we raise the money this year, what do we do next year when it needs to be dredged again?” she asked.

Some help may be coming from two congressional bills being considered in Washington. Senator Carl Levin has sponsored S. 412 to get money released for small harbor dredging while the House of Representatives will consider it under H.R. 104.

Fairchild urged residents of Great Lakes states and other states to email and call their national representatives to vote for the bills. A webpage for Great Lakes Small Harbor Coalition is being set up at

“I don’t know if these bills will survive the federal budget crunch. That’s why we’re trying to get funding from the trust fund,” May said. “We’re only asking for 3 percent of the $700 million that goes into the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund annually from a tax on all cargo going through federal ports,” he said.

Grand Rapids Press


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.

1926 - The passenger ship WHITE STAR of Canada Steamship Lines burned at Hamilton. It then became a coal barge and was rebuilt in 1950 as the diesel powered, self-unloading sandsucker S.M. DOUGLAS. It operated mainly on the St. Lawrence and was sunk as a breakwall at Kingston, ON in 1975.

1972 - The Dutch passenger and freight carrier PRINSES ANNA first visited the Great Lakes in 1967. It was lost in Osumi Strait, 18 miles south of Cape Sata, Japan, as HWA PO while on a voyage from Nagoya to Whampoa, China. The cargo shifted and 20 of the 36 on board were lost when the ship went down.

1980 - The Swedish freighter BARBARA was 4-years old when it first came inland in 1966. It returned through the Seaway as BARKAND in 1968 and as MARIANNA in 1969. The ship was under a fourth name of MARIA BACOLITSA and in bound from Brazil with pig iron for Constanza, Romania, when it went down on the Black Sea with all hands. An S.O.S. had been sent out without giving the location and rescuers were helpless to lend any assistance.

Data from: Skip Gillham, 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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