Great Lakes & Seaway Shipping News Archive

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Lake Michigan Carferry looks to the future

3/31 - Ludington, Mich. – Robert Manglitz, president and CEO of Lake Michigan Carferry, feels that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was tough on his company in the consent decree agreement the announced March 22 that would allow the SS Badger two more years before it must stop discharging coal ash from its power system into Lake Michigan.

But he also says the proposed consent decree, now the subject of a 30-day public comment period that ends April 26, is the best means to move forward as other options became impractical.

“The consent decree was sort of a mutual resolution to end this thing,” he said in an interview with the Ludington Daily News Thursday afternoon in the conference room of the LMC corporate office.

“This hasn’t just been for a month or two, this has been years that this has consumed us. We want to stop looking at the past and look at the future, and I think that is what the community wants too,” Manglitz said.

Ludington Daily News


Port Reports -  March 31

Marquette, Mich. - Rod Burdick
Lakes Contender and Saginaw loaded ore at the Upper Harbor on Saturday.

Toronto, Ont. - Gerry O.
English River departed winter lay-up Friday night bound for Bath on her first trip of the season.

Oswego, N.Y. - Ned Goebricher
Stephen B. Roman is the first ship of the year into Oswego harbor.


Pelee Island ferry getting checkup at Port Weller

3/31 - St. Catharines, Ont. – The Pelee Island ferry Jiimaan has arrived at the dry docks in Port Weller for a checkup and paint job. The 61-metre ferry, which transports vehicles and passengers between the island in Lake Erie and Windsor, is being given a mandatory five-year inspection by Seaway Marine and Industrial Inc.

“Hopefully it won't be there longer than a month,” said Susan Schrempf, the president of Owen Sound Transportation Company, which owns the ferry. While out of the water at Port Weller, where it was built 21 years ago, the Jiimaan will also get a fresh coat of paint.

The vessel will be checked closely after it got stuck on a sandbar in low water levels on Lake Erie in October. Tugboats had to pull it free, but it went back into service when no major damage could be seen. Schrempf said she expects the cost to be around $1 million, unless there are any surprises in the inspection. After the work is done, the Jiimaan will head back up the Welland Canal and is scheduled to be back in service by May.

St. Catharines Standard


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 the dock. She damaged her number nine 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. bowthruster 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.

1974: The nine-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 she was 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.


Alarm clock causes Soo Locks closure

3/30 - Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. – The Soo Locks closed temporarily on Friday after a suspicious package was discovered in the mailroom by the Army Corps of Engineers. The Sault Ste. Marie Police say that an employee heard a beeping sound coming from a package while processing mail to be delivered to vessels passing through the locks.

According to Sault Ste. Marie officials, the Soo Locks temporarily closed to await the arrival of Michigan State Police Bomb Squad personnel. When police arrived the mailroom was searched by a K-9 unit and a MSP bomb disposal unit. No beeping was heard, according to officials, but several small packages were removed from the area and checked by a mobile scanning unit.

One package contained an alarm clock set for 7 a.m. and other personal items, according to police. No explosives or hazardous materials were found.

The Soo Locks resumed operation at 11:20 a.m. after police cleared the scene.

The closure caused back ups for ships hoping to get through the locks. Ice blockage had boats backed up by about 7 boats Thursday, but the line up was closer to 12 boats deep.

TV6 Fox UP


Port Reports -  March 30

Marquette, Mich. - Rod Burdick
Manitowoc loaded ore Friday evening at the Upper Harbor.

South Chicago - Matt Monahan
Friday the Baie St. Paul was prepared to depart the Beemsterboer Dock at 106th Street after loading. As she was doing so, the tug Karen Andrie and barge Endeavor passed her.

Grand Haven Mich. - Dick Fox
The first cargo for 2013 was delivered Friday morning. The tug/barge combination Prentiss Brown/St. Marys Conquest brought in a cargo of cement for the St. Marys Terminal in Ferrysburg.

Lorain, Ohio - Phil Leon
Calumet left Lorain at 7:40 a.m. Friday morning and headed back west. She was most likely at the Jonick Docks because she was south of the railroad bridge when making a radio call.


Green Bay icebreaking operations

3/30 - The U.S. Coast Guard will be expanding icebreaking operations in lower Green Bay below Peshtigo Reef to include Fox River and the entrance to the Port of Green Bay. These operations will likely occur in some areas used by recreational users. The Coast Guard Cutter Mobile Bay will begin this breakout as early as April 1.


First ferry to Mackinac Island was Tuesday

3/30 - Straits of Mackinac. – On Tuesday, the first ferry to Mackinac Island left port. "It's like a sigh of relief over here," said Camille Bobinsky, who lives on the island and works for Arnold Transit Co. The boat opening the Straits of Mackinac season was the Huron, a single-screw steel hull vessel with a capacity of 350 passengers, said Veronica Dobrowolski, operations manager for Arnold Transit.

Dobrowolski said she doesn't know who was on the first trip over, but she said many construction workers go to the island in the winter to work on projects. The ferry also took supplies to the island, including packages and gas, which the island ran out of the previous Friday, Dobrowolski said.

To get the Huron away from shore, its crew lets it run at the dock to start breaking up ice. Crews also drilled holes in the ice — 3 feet thick in some areas — and ran the boat at the dock to get water flowing.

The last day boats ran was Feb. 1. After that time, the only way to and from the island was by airplane because there was not enough good ice to go over on a snowmobile. According to the 2010 US Census, 492 people live on the island.


Great Lakes Shipyard launches first tug Of Seacor’s Aura class

3/30 - Cleveland, Ohio – Great Lakes Shipyard continues to make progress on the construction of two tugboats for Seacor Holdings, Inc’s new Aura class. Hull 9201 was the first of the tugs to be launched using the shipyard’s 770-ton Travelift. The tugs, named Aura and Atlas, will undergo various testing over the upcoming weeks. They are to be completed May 2013.

Great Lakes Shipyard was awarded contracts by Caribbean Tugz, LLC, an affiliate of Seacor Holdings, Inc., to simultaneously build the new state-of-the-art 50-ton bollard pull tugboats. Designed by Jensen Maritime Consultant, Inc., Seattle, Washington, the new tugs are built to the highest standards of the American Bureau of Shipping, the U.S. vessel classification society.

Great Lakes Shipyard is a full-service yard specializing in new construction, fabrication, and repairs of all types of vessels and barges. The shipyard is currently drydocking the Luedtke Engineering tug Krista S for repairs and was also recently awarded a repair contract for the United States Coast Guard Cutter Neah Bay (WTGB-105).

To learn more, visit


Donations still sought for Lady Pirate memorial bench

3/30 - When the American Spirit, under the command of Capt. Lance Nelson, passed the Great Lakes Maritime Center downbound on Friday, the vessel gave a master salute to the late Violet Mae Bostwick. That was her favorite vessel (under its previous name, George R. Stinson).

A special bank account has been opened to manage donations for a memorial bench designated to the honor the late Boatnerd Bostwick (aka) "Lady Pirate," who passed away earlier this year. The bench will be constructed and located along the St. Clair River close to the Boatnerd World Headquarters and a part of the new River Walk construction project. The bench will be located at the main entrance to Rotary Park, just south of the current Great Lakes Maritime Center. A short tribute and a depiction of the George A. Stinson, will be included with the custom construction.

Andy Severson has stepped forward to manage the fund. Donation checks must be made out to "Andy Severson.” Please include on the check memo Violet's Bench. All donations will be appreciated. The completed cost has been estimated at approximately $3,000 and will be of the same design planned for the upcoming River Walk final approved architects design.

Mail Donations to:
Andrew Severson
22712 Detour
St. Clair Shores, MI 48082-2425


Updates -  March 30

News Photo Gallery
Historical Perspectives Gallery updated - New pictures in the  Saginaw Bay 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 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, N.S., 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.


Soo Locks Closed After Receiving Suspicious Package

3/29 - noon update - The Soo Locks reopened about 11:20 a.m. with the James L. Oberstar entering the Poe Lock downbound.

Original Report - The Soo Locks are temporarily closed due to a suspicious package in the mailroom. A Michigan State Police Bomb Squad was to help investigate the package.

Police were notified of the incident at about 8:25 a.m. today. Police confirmed a suspicious package had been discovered and that a state police bomb squad was en route to Chippewa County from downstate Gaylord.

U.S. Coast Guard officials at Sector Soo confirmed a "potential maritime security incident" had occurred in the vicinity of the locks. The Coast Guard responded by temporarily closing traffic on the St. Marys River and establishing a "limited access area" in the vicinity of the locks and the International Bridge.

9 & 10 News and Mining Journal


Duluth-Superior prepares for earliest arrival of first saltie of the season

3/29 - Duluth, Minn. – The Port of Duluth-Superior is preparing to welcome its first oceangoing ship of the 2013 commercial shipping season. The Hong Kong-flag Federal Hunter is expected to arrive on Friday afternoon, March 29, which would also put it first in Twin Ports’ history books as the earliest arrival for a full transit of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway system. The previous record was set by the India-flag LT Argosy on April 1, 1995.

Adding to weekend excitement is the anticipated Saturday arrival of a sister ship, the Cyprus-flag Federal Elbe, almost on Hunter’s heels. The Elbe will likely sit at anchor for a day or two before loading.

Federal Hunter began her voyage in Rostock, Germany, discharging cargo in Contrecoeur, Quebec, before proceeding to the Twin Ports. Scheduled to arrive beneath Duluth’s Aerial Lift Bridge, the 656-ft (200m) vessel will make its way to the CHS elevator in Superior to load durum and spring wheat. It is anticipated that the Hunter will depart late Monday with approximately 15,000 metric tons (16,535 short tons) onboard, stop in Thunder Bay to top-off with another 5,000 tons of Canadian spring wheat, then retrace her route through the system and across the Atlantic for deliveries in France and the UK.

The Hunter is under the command of Captain Khalil Zamindar. Local vessel agent is Daniel’s Shipping Services; Heritage Marine handled icebreaking at the elevator; stevedoring is being handled by Ceres Terminals; Lakeshead Forwarding is serving as freight forwarders for CHS; tug assistance is being provided by Great Lakes Towing.

The Port Authority has tentatively scheduled a First Ship Ceremony for Monday afternoon aboard the vessel – an invitation-only event for community leaders and representatives from the maritime industry to welcome the 22-member crew to the Twin Ports. Invited guests include: Superior Mayor Bruce Hagen, Superior Port Director Jason Serck, Duluth Seaway Port Authority Executive Director Adolph Ojard, Twin Ports Ministry to Seafarers Director Tom Anderson, and Gene Shaw, Visit Duluth director of public relations, who will announce the winner of the 2013 First Ship Contest.

Duluth Seaway Port Authority


Toledo to welcome Isa, first overseas freighter of 2013

3/29 - Toledo, Ohio - The Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority will welcome the first overseas freighter of the season with a traditional ceremony that kicks off the 2013 shipping season for the region. The Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority, Midwest Terminals of Toledo and other officials will present Captain Tomasz Molenda and crew of the Isa with welcoming gifts during the event. The Isa bears 9,500 metric tons of sugar from Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala and its arrival regionally signifies the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway System. The freighter will arrive in the Port of Toledo and will be docked at Midwest Terminals of Toledo.


Port of Cleveland opens 2013 international shipping season

3/29 - Cleveland, Ohio – The Port of Cleveland will open its international shipping season with a ceremony marking the arrival of the first ship of the season on April 1 at 11:30 a.m. The Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority and port stakeholders will welcome the captain and crew of the Federal Welland, which is owned by Fednav Limited, the largest dry-bulk shipping group in Canada. The ship is carrying steel coils and was loaded in the Netherlands.

First Ship ceremonies are part of maritime tradition. The St. Lawrence Seaway System – the waterway connecting the Great Lakes with the Atlantic Ocean – closes each year due to winter conditions. The Seaway reopened again in late March.


Port Reports -  March 29

Marquette, Mich. - Rod Burdick
Saginaw arrived back at the Upper Harbor on Thursday. A slow ore load appeared to be straight from ore cars, not the bins.

Sturgeon Bay, Wis. - Mitch Custer
Lakes Contender and Ken Boothe Sr. departed Sturgeon Bay lay-up via the ship canal Thursday afternoon.

South Chicago, Ill. - Matt M.
At about 3 p.m. Mesabi Miner cleared the Calumet breakwall headed for Indiana Harbor. At Beemsterboer, Baie St. Paul was taking on a load of pet coke.

Indiana Harbor - Tim Eaker
Kokosing Construction is mobilizing the equipment to Indiana Harbor to begin the maintenance dredging project for 2013. The tug Valerie B with the crane barge Kokosing 2 will be continuing on the project that was started last season. Dredging is estimated to begin April 2.

Port Huron, Mich.
A busy afternoon for traffic saw the Algoma Guardian and Federal Elbe upbound and Alpena, H. Lee White and CSL Tadoussac downbound. Michipicoten, Algosteel, Mississagi and Algorail remain in winter quarters.

Detroit, Mich. -
At 5 a.m. Thursday, Atlantic Huron was being loaded with pet coke. The dock is east of the Ambassador Bridge and the pet coke, a by-product of oil refining, is loaded using portable conveyors and heavy loading equipment.

Hamilton, Ont. – Eric Holmes
Wednesday the Ocean Group tugs Omni Richelieu and Gerry G departed at 6:30 a.m. for Toronto. Omni Richelieu arrived back in port at 3:30 p.m. Thursday the Algoma Spirit departed at 11 a.m. from Pier 26 for the canal. Manitoba departed at 1 pm. from Pier 25 and headed down the lake.

Toronto, Ont. – Gerry O.
Stephen B. Roman returned to port from her first trip of the season Wednesday night. The tug Jerry G. arrived in port to turn the saltie Isadora at Redpath and stayed in port to await her departure.

Montreal – Denny Dushane
Another one of Polsteam's new vessels is due to arrive in Montreal on April 3. The Regalica (IMO 9521758) of Liberian registry will be making her first visit to the Great Lakes/Seaway system, arriving from Maracaibo, Venezuela and headed for Toledo, Ohio. The Regalica is the second vessel in a series of seven new Handy-size vessels that Polish Steamship has constructed at the Sanfu-Shipyard in Taizhou, China. Each vessel is about 149.96 meters in length with a beam of 23.6 meters in width. Last season, the Ina was the first vessel in the series to visit the Great Lakes/Seaway system. Other vessels yet to visit the Great Lakes/Seaway system also from the same series include the Narew, Raba, Olza, Prosna and Skawa.


Badger public comment period now open

3/29 - Lake Michigan Carferry has signed a Consent Decree agreement with the Department of Justice and EPA that will require the SS Badger to end the ash discharge within two years. This agreement is the product of many months of working closely with the EPA.

The Consent Decree has been filed in federal court in Grand Rapids by the Department of Justice. There will now be a 30-day period for the public to submit comments to the Department of Justice. After that, the court will approve the decree if it is in the public interest. The public comment period is open from March 27, 2013 - April 26, 2013.

Lake Michigan Carferry is requesting that supporters share their opinions on the continued service of the S.S. Badger. Provided below is the email address and/or the mailing address to the EPA where comments on the Consent Decree can be submitted. Letters can be as brief as a few sentences or as detailed as the writer wishes.

Instructions for commenting on the Consent Decree

Address to:
Assistant Attorney General, Environmental and Natural Resources Division

Reference Case Number: (Must be included in subject line) D.J. Ref. No. 90-5-1-1-10771

Case Name: United States v. Lake Michigan Trans-Lake Shortcut, Inc., d/b/a Lake Michigan Carferry Services and SS Badger

Comments to be e-mailed:

Or mail to:
Assistant Attorney General
P.O. Box 7611
Washington, DC 20044-7611

Lake Michigan Carferry


Obituary: George "Brendan" McQuinn

3/29 - Capt. George McQuinn of Toronto, Ont., passed away unexpectedly on Sunday, March 24 at Saint John Regional Hospital. He was born in Saint John and was a son of the late Harold Otty and Bernice Mae (Stack) McQuinn.

His career started with Atlantic Towing as a deckhand on the Irving tugboats. He worked with Kent Lines on the gypsum boats out of Hansport, N.S. He served as a bo’sun and rose through the ranks to 1st mate. He became captain at the Nova Scotia Nautical Institute and moved to Toronto in 1985.

Capt. McQuinn was a highly regarded captain in the Toronto Harbor since 1987, and was a captain on many different charter boats and lakers. In 1995, he took possession of the Toronto Harbor Water Taxi with his brother, Ralph. A funeral service was held at Fitzpatrick’s Funeral Home Chapel on Thursday, March 28, followed by interment in the Hampton Rural Cemetery.


Updates -  March 29

News Photo Gallery
Historical Perspectives Gallery updated - New gallery for April featuring the Saginaw Bay


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: 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 renamed 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 was presumed to have sunk about 35.00 N / 152.47 E.

1973: DAVID MARQUESS OF MILFORD HAVEN, one of the longest named saltwater ships to visit the Great Lakes, was the first saltwater ship of the season upbound in the Seaway.

1990: The MAYA FARBER visited the Great Lakes in 1981. It arrived at Alang, India, under tow for scrapping on this date following an explosion and fire off Port Sudan as d) RAAD AL-BAKRY VIII on January 15, 1990.

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


First new Seaway saltie of the season

3/28 - The first new ship of the year in the St. Lawrence Seaway, Sloman Herakles, arrived on Wednesday. She was built in 2012 and flies the flag of Antigua Barbuda.

Rene Beauchamp


Port Reports -  March 28

Twin Ports
Twin Ports vessel traffic for Wednesday included CSL Niagara departing Duluth in late morning with coal. By noon the vessel was proceeding slowly through the thin ice field that extends several miles off Duluth. Elsewhere, Stewart J. Cort was loading iron ore pellets at BNSF ore dock while CSL Assiniboine waited several miles off Superior Entry for its turn at the dock. Edwin H. Gott was at CN ore dock in Duluth to load pellets.

Whitefish Bay - Mark Hudson
The Coast Guard has been busy in Whitefish Bay keeping the tracks open, but the Cason J. Callaway fell victim to the ice Wednesday night tonight. The USCG Mackinaw came to free her, with American Spirit and Spruceglen waiting to come down through the bay. Otherraffic Wednesday included the downbound Alpena, H. Lee White and CSL Tadoussac, as well as the upbound Burns Harbor, Algoma Olympic, Edgar B. Speer, Algoma Progress and Sam Laud. The Soo’s first saltie, Federal Nakagawa, was at anchor near Pipe Island in the lower river Wednesday night, while fleetmate Federal Hunter was upbound off Alpena. Nakagawa is headed for Thunder Bay, while Hunter is bound for Duluth.

Marquette, Mich. - Rod Burdick
Manitowoc arrived back at the Upper Harbor ore dock Wednesday morning on her third visit of the week.

Toronto, Ont.
Tuesday saw the first salty arrival of the season with Polsteam’s Isadora arriving at Redpath Sugar. The vessel is in the final stages of discharging the first cargo of sugar of the season. Departing were Sea Eagle II, which had been sheltering since Monday's storm, and Algolake, departing winter lay-up for the first trip of the season.

Welland Canal
The Lake Erie carferry Jiimaan arrived at Port Weller Dry Docks Wednesday after passing through the Welland Canal.

The ferry will be dry docked before returning to service in late April, until then fleet mate Pelee Islander is managing the route from Leamington to Pelee Island.


New federal regulations worry deep-water port planners

3/28 - Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. – Sault Ste. Marie Mayor Debbie Amaroso and City Council approved a resolution Monday aimed at making federal Transport Minister Denis Lebel aware of the city’s concern over new regulations, which would, if passed, have a heavy financial impact on Great Lakes shipping.

Great Lakes shipping, it is felt by council, would decrease as a result, affecting Sault Ste. Marie’s plans for a much-needed deep-water port for local industry. Mayor Amaroso, speaking to, considers the proposed regulations “onerous.”

The proposed federal regulations, which are considered more restrictive by far than existing regulations in place by the U.S. Coast Guard for competing American vessels, call for each Canadian Great Lakes vessel to be fitted with new, expensive systems to manage ballast water.

Installation of new ballast water management equipment is estimated to be between $1 million and $2.5 million for each Great Lakes vessel. The new equipment is considered necessary by Transport Canada to prevent ballast water, once it is discharged from vessels, from filling the Great Lakes with invasive species, or non-indigenous species (NIS).

Mayor Amaroso told us such machinery is necessary for ocean-going vessels, but costly and unnecessary for Great Lakes freighters.

“Our Great Lakes ships only stay in the Great Lakes, and since regulations for ballast water for ocean vessels were introduced in 2006, there have been no new sightings of any of these non-indigenous species, so the regulations (proposed by Transport Canada) are really, really onerous for lake freighters. They’re talking about each ship having to have some new equipment installed that would do this ballast water change.”

Literature provided for council’s consideration points out the ballast water systems “do not exist, would be prohibitively expensive and would do little, if anything, on the issue of aquatic invasive species transfer.”

Amaroso said: “The equipment is not even on the market for these ships yet. If you start looking at every ship having to have this machinery on it, then it raises the question for the shipping companies as to whether this is an affordable option anymore, and are the regulations really something that are necessary given that since 2006 when the ballast water regulations were brought in for the ocean going ships, there hasn’t been an increase in invasive species.”

The mayor said the issue is a worrisome one for Sault Ste. Marie’s deep-water port planners.

“If the Great Lakes shipping companies can’t afford this equipment, shipping is going to decrease. Right now shipping is one of the most affordable modes of transportation, and if we create regulations that are so onerous, then those shipping companies are not going to get the business.

“It is certainly vital we protect the Great Lakes, but let’s approach this particular issue making sure we do what’s right for economic growth through shipping.”

Amaroso said council’s resolution passed Monday is the first step. Correspondence will be sent to Transport Minister Lebel and to officials of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative. Amaroso said Sault Ste. Marie MP Bryan Hayes has been made aware of the issue.

Soo Today


Second Canada-U.S. rail tunnel plan touts trade

3/28 - Detroit, Mich. – A long-delayed second rail tunnel under the Detroit River to Windsor may finally break ground early next year, supporters say, creating jobs and bolstering international trade.

But the project to replace an old double train tunnel between the two cities still has some hurdles, including securing half the amount needed for the $400 million project from the U.S. and Canadian governments.

The Detroit-Windsor Crossing tunnel's proponents said the project will increase trade with Canada, link Detroit through to other high-volume ports and help make the city into a transportation center. The proposed tunnel along with the new bridge Gov. Rick Snyder wants to build to Canada will give the Detroit area a boost to compete with other markets, advocates said.

At least $200 million has been pledged by Continental Rail Gateway — a coalition of two private organizations and the Windsor Port Authority, said county and rail officials, adding they hope the remaining $200 million will be pledged by year's end.

The project has a big backer in Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano, who has touted it would create nearly 2,000 jobs and transform the region into a transportation hub for rail and truck commerce.

Ficano, who mentioned the tunnel project in his recent state of the county address, said it will be a boon for the region because it will allow double-stacked rail cars to move between the two countries. The tunnel the trains use today is not tall enough to accommodate double-stacked container cars.

"We're hoping that there can be some real fruition that's ultimately going to result in a new tunnel," he said.

Ficano said creating a tunnel to accommodate double-stacking trains is key. "You'll find that whether it'd be shipping by sea or even by truck and most rail, double stacking is now standard procedure for how they move rail," he said.

The project hinges on funding from the United States and Canada but advocates of the project say the $200 million put on the table by Canadian Pacific and the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System should send a message to the two countries that the effort is serious.

Officials said they expect environmental approvals to come soon, perhaps as early as the next few months, from both governments, which would keep the project moving.

"They are putting a lot of private skin on the table, which is always enticing to the government," said Cindy Dingell, the deputy chief operating officer for Wayne County. "But the other thing, too, is we have to get the environmental clearances done before it proceeds to the next level."

The Jobs Tunnel, as it was called when it was proposed in 2003, was opposed by some because it would have included converting the old tunnels for use by trucks. But when it was determined there was not enough space in the tunnel to put in lanes for trucks, the plan became rail only.

Officials have estimated the new 1.6-mile tunnel would take up to two years to complete and would be built about 150 feet to the west of the one that opened in 1909.

The idea for the new tunnel emerged after it was determined the existing one couldn't be made any larger. That tunnel was heightened in 1993, but to go any higher makes the structure vulnerable to taking in water from the river.

Mickey Blashfield, a spokesman for Ambassador Bridge owner Manuel "Matty" Moroun, who strongly opposes the construction of a government-backed bridge to Canada, said given that the truck option is out of the project, Moroun is good with a new rail tunnel if it can be built.

"We're certainly not opposed to it," Blashfield said. "The concept of a rail tunnel is certainly desirable for the region."

County and rail officials said discussions are under way to use the old tunnel, which is just south of the Michigan Train Depot, for creating a passenger rail some day because it is still in very good condition.

County officials estimated with the building of the tunnel, Canadian ports in Montreal and Halifax will double their shipping by the year 2020 while bringing more volume through the region.

"It takes away the hassle that some of the shipping companies have of going into Norfolk, going into Baltimore, going into New York or even going to Philly," said Ray Byers, Wayne County's chief economic development officer, "because it's a straighter shot."

David Cree, the president and CEO of the Windsor Port Authority, said he expects "we will be shovel-ready by early next year."

Cree said the Canadian government will soon begin reviewing its 2014 budget that includes infrastructure projects, and the private money pledged should help shake his government's commitment loose.

"This is going to give the Detroit-Windsor area all the pieces with the new bridge, the new double-stacked rail tunnel, to build a really significant multi-modal center, which is going to bring in a lot of jobs and a lot of benefits to the two communities," Cree said.

Detroit News


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.


Tuesday another busy traffic day for Soo Locks

3/27 - On the second day of the 2013 shipping season, the Soo Locks continued to be busy with plenty of upbound traffic, as well as a few down bounders. Upbound traffic included Presque Isle, Edwin H. Gott, Saginaw, Kaye E. Barker, Cuyahoga, Hon. James L. Oberstar, Rt. Hon. Paul J. Martin, James R. Barker and Kaministiqua. American Century and Mesabi Miner were downbound, and the Alpena was anchored in the lee of Whitefish Point. The Baie St. Paul was westbound in the Straits, headed for Chicago.

Late in the afternoon Tuesday traffic stopped moving on Whitefish Bay, as the track though the ice had collapsed, making passage impossible. The Canadian Coast Guard Ship Samuel Risley had asked vessels to hold their positions as she worked to reestablish the track between Gros Cap light and the ice edge. The upbound Cuyahoga and Hon. James L. Oberstar were waiting below Ile Parisienne, however by evening vessels appeared to be moving again, thanks to the work of the Risley as well as the USCG cutters Alder and Mackinaw.


Port Reports -  March 27

Marquette, Mich. - Rod Burdick
H. Lee White and Saginaw arrived on Tuesday at the Upper Harbor to load ore. Each vessel was the first from below the Soo Locks to reach Marquette. Heavy ice outside the breakwall was not an issue for either arrival.

Stoneport, Mich. - Denny Dushane
Cason J. Callaway was expected to arrive in the early afternoon Tuesday to load. She was coming from winter layup in Sturgeon Bay. Following the Callaway, the next vessel due is the Great Lakes Trader, due on Wednesday with no time listed. She will be arriving from winter lay-up in Escanaba.

Toledo, Ohio - Denny Dushane
Atlantic Huron was expected to be the first arrival in Toledo at the Torco Dock in the late evening Tuesday. Following Atlantic Huron will be the H. Lee White, due on Thursday in the early afternoon. Radcliffe R. Latimer is due on Friday at the Torco Dock in the morning, followed by the Atlantic Erie also due Friday in the late afternoon. Atlantic Superior is due at Torco with an iron ore cargo on Saturday morning, and the Lakes Contender is due Saturday at noon. There are no scheduled arrivals for the Midwest Terminal Stone Dock. At the CSX Coal Dock, the first ship to load there will be the H. Lee White on Tuesday, April 2, in the early morning. She will be followed by John B. Aird, due on Tuesday, April 9 in the morning. There are still several vessels that remain in layup in Toledo. Sam Laud is at the Old Interlake Iron Company Dock, from which they should be departing any day. Adam E. Cornelius is also there, in long-term layup. At Ironhead Shipyard, the Phoenix Star is still in the large drydock, while the tanker Algosar still remains at the Kraft Foods Elevator Dock in layup. The barge Lewis J. Kuber remains laid-up at the Midwest Terminal Overseas Cargo Dock. St. Clair is at the CSX #2 Dock in layup and the American Valor and American Fortitude are in long-term layup at the Lakefront docks. Manistee is layup there as well, as is the American Mariner.

Marblehead, Ohio - Jim Spencer
Calumet finally completed loading overnight Monday at the Marblehead stone dock and sailed for Cleveland. Loading had been interrupted over the weekend by heavy northeast winds. Calumet quickly discharged her cargo of aggregate on Tuesday and was sailing anew for the Lafarge dock at Marblehead late Tuesday afternoon.

Hamilton, Ont. - Eric Holmes
The tug M.R. Kane arrived at 7 a.m. from Toronto and departed at 10:30 a.m. pushing a work barge back towards Toronto. Algoma Discovery departed her winter berth at Pier 25 at 8 a.m., but soon anchored in the Burlington Bay anchorage soon after passing through the Burlington Piers. She finally got underway at 1 p.m. for the canal. CSL Laurentien departed at 8:15 a.m. from U.S. Steel for the canal. The tug Ocean Golf arrived at 1 p.m. The tug Omni Richelieu departed at 2:30 p.m, for Clarkson the help the tanker Clipper Mari dock. She arrived back in port at 7 p.m. The tugs Molly M 1 and Ecosse also departed at 2:30 p.m. for Seaway Marine in Port Weller


Cleveland port expects first international ship Thursday

3/27 - Cleveland, Ohio – The Soo Locks in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., opened at 12:01 a.m. Monday. Moments later, the Paul R. Tregurtha, bound for Lake Superior, entered the locks, marking the "official" beginning of the international shipping season on the Great Lakes.

But the season began last week for the Port of Cleveland with the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway, said David Gutheil, the port's vice president of maritime and logistics.

Cleveland expects its first international ship to arrive at about 6 p.m. Thursday, the Federal Welland from the Netherlands. It will drop off about 13,000 tons of steel before heading north toward Milwaukee and other ports.

Gutheil said the port usually holds a ceremony to honor the first international vessel of the season, but it's unsure when it will be held this year because of Good Friday. He said it might be postponed until Monday morning, depending on the ship's schedule.

The Port of Cleveland handled 52 international ships and seven barges in 2012 carrying 350,000 metric tons of cargo such as steel and heavy machinery, Gutheil said. There were 159 lake-only vessels carrying just over 2.9 million tons of cargo such as limestone, iron ore and cement.

Cleveland Pain Dealer


Spring brings Great Lakes ships

3/27 - Milwaukee, Wis.- The Great Lakes bulk carrier Paul R. Tregurtha opened the sailing season to Lake Superior on Monday when it passed through the Soo Locks at Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. The 1,013-foot ship was headed to the port in Superior for a load of coal.

Also, five of the six ships berthed at Milwaukee over the winter have left the port to begin the sailing season. The first foreign ship is scheduled to arrive here next week with a load of steel from the Netherlands.

Early Monday, the Tregurtha, which spent the winter in Sturgeon Bay, was the first ship through the locks that connect Lake Superior and the lower Great Lakes - signaling the start of the sailing season for many of the lake carriers that will spend about 10 months hauling coal, iron ore, limestone and other commodities before the locks close again for the winter.

In 2012, the U.S. fleet on the lakes moved more than 45 million tons of taconite pellets used for steel production. The fleet hauled nearly 22 million tons of limestone and 17 million tons of coal. Tonnage at the Port of Milwaukee was down 30% from the year before as a mild winter led to smaller volumes of salt and coal arriving by ship. But it was a different story this winter because of the strong demand for salt used on icy roads in southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois. Barges pushed by tug boats hauled salt on the lower lakes all winter, a plus for Milwaukee's port.

In 2012, the port also had a 34% increase in the amount of cargo traveling to and from foreign destinations. Officials say they're hopeful the amount of steel delivered here this year will match 2012 when it was up 60% from 2011.

Any uptick in manufacturing or the construction industry will help, said interim Port Director Paul Vornholt.

The port has some of the biggest cranes on the Great Lakes, allowing it to move large, heavy items including mining equipment, wind turbines, coils of steel and tons of grain. If the economy continues to improve, "we are optimistic," Vornholt said.

The largest vessels on the lakes can unload 70,000 tons of cargo in 12 hours or less. Prior to self-unloading, it would have taken days to empty a ship of a cargo of that size. But now, three of every four ships leave the docks "light loaded" because harbors and connecting channels are not dredged to proper depths and widths, according to the Lake Carriers Association, based in Cleveland.

Ships have been unable to make deliveries to the port in Waukegan, Ill., because of insufficient harbor depth. There have been times when coal could not be delivered to a power plant in Holland, Mich., because of a buildup of harbor silt.

Heavy snow and rain this winter weren't enough to increase the harbor depths much, said Glen Nekvasil, vice president of the Lake Carriers Association. He says the solution is dredging, but that a national Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund - which gets its money from a tax on shipped cargo - has been raided for other government purposes.

"We are paying for dredging, but we aren't getting it," Nekvasil said, adding that more than 18 million cubic yards of sediment now clog Great Lakes ports and waterways.

The Port of Milwaukee's water depth is about 27 feet, which is better than some other Great Lakes destinations. For several years, though, the breakwater on Milwaukee's lakefront has needed millions of dollars' worth of repairs. Pictures from an underwater camera have shown that the steel structure holding the breakwater rocks in place has rusted severely and, in places, the breakwater no longer holds back large waves that could damage shoreline property, including the Milwaukee Art Museum, Discovery World and shipping docks.

The breakwater is in poor condition, Vornholt said, but the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers lacks money for the repairs.

"Other ports are in worse shape than we are, in terms of dredging, so the funding goes there first. By the time you get to breakwater rebuilding, there's no money left," he said.

Journal Sentinel


Coast Guard to open Cheboygan-Bois Blanc channel

3/27 - Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. – Captain of the Port Sault Ste. Marie will open the waters between Cheboygan, Michigan, and Bois Blanc Island, Michigan, known as South Channel, at 9 a.m. Thursday.


Museum Ship Norgoma decision still at the dock

3/27 - Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. - There was a lengthy discussion among City Council members Monday in regards to the fate of the Museum Ship Norgoma. Council's agenda for its regular meeting called for a vote to be held on whether to discontinue financial support for the troubled tourist site.

It was strongly recommended in reports provided to Council by the Commissioner of Community Services and the Sault Ste. Marie Economic Development Corporation that further funding not be provided to the Norgoma.

Council rejected a call from Councillor Brian Watkins for postponement of discussion. However, Council eventually voted for an official deferral of the funding matter discussion for two weeks.

Watkins called for postponement of discussion, calling the Norgoma "an integral reminder" of our area's history on the community's waterfront.

Watkins suggested the Norgoma would attract a greater number of visitors--and revenue--in view of this year’s Tall Ships visit to Sault Ste. Marie. For that reason, Watkins called for Council not to pull the plug on the vessel, at least in the short term.

Councillor Susan Myers stated that tourism is on the rebound. "This is not the year to pull the plug," Myers said.

Councillor Paul Christian stated as "painful" a decision it would be to end support for the Norgoma, that it was time to move on.

Discontinuation of City support for the museum ship would transfer the fate of the vessel from the group which operates the Norgoma (the St. Mary’s River Marine Heritage Centre, or SMRMHC) to the city.

Councillor Frank Manzo cautioned Council that if the City decided not to continue its financial support, the cost of maintaining the vessel would be enormous and the ship would have to be sold off. The Norgoma has been a visible, historic, yet financially challenged tourist attraction on the Sault Ste. Marie riverfront for decades.

The City had a five-year agreement in place with the St. Mary’s River Marine Heritage Centre (SMRMHC), beginning in 2007, upon the recommendation from Destiny Sault Ste. Marie, whereby the Norgoma would receive $15,000 in City funding annually for five years, with the understanding the Norgoma would not be subsidized by the city beyond 2012.

The Community Services report states that a SMRMHC proposal to operate the Norgoma as a bed and breakfast attraction is not achievable, that a restaurant concept was also discontinued and “there is no reason to believe visitations/revenue will increase.”

There were 1,305 visitors in 2012, leading to a mere $6,600 revenue in 2012. Community Services pointed out that even a total of 8,000 visitors to the site in 2002 translated into no more than $9,000 in revenue.

The Norgoma, in its day, served as a passenger ferry along the north shore of Lake Huron, connecting various communities in the area with Sault Ste. Marie.

Soo Today


Michigan lawmaker wants to loosen ballast restrictions

3/27 - A state lawmaker says Michigan will be more competitive if it loosens restrictions on the dumping of ballast water from ocean-going freighters. State Rep. Dan Lauwers, R-Brockway Township, is proposing a change to Michigan ballast restrictions that would make state regulations similar to U.S. Coast Guard guidelines.

Michigan has some of the most restrictive guidelines for ballast water discharge from ocean-going vessels. House Bill 4495 would remove some of those restrictions. Ballast water is used by vessels to maintain balance when they are not carrying cargo.

When ocean-going vessels come into the Great Lakes, they carry ballast water from the ocean in order to maintain balance. When the ship reaches port, it discharges the ballast while taking in cargo.

Currently, Michigan requires ocean-going vessels making port in Michigan to use treatment methods such as light radiation and deoxygination before pumping ocean ballast into the Great Lakes to ensure no invasive species traveled in the water.

Coast Guard guidelines, on the other hand, indicate cleanliness standards, but do not dictate how those standards are met, according to Steve Fisher, executive director of American Great Lakes Ports Association.

Since Michigan adopted its more restrictive guidelines in 2005, no ocean-going vessels have installed the technology to comply with the requirements, said Chris Johnson, chief of staff for the Detroit/Wayne Port Authority. Johnson said the equipment is not readily available and very expensive.

Instead, ocean-going vessels visit neighboring Great Lakes states with looser restrictions to discharge ballast and pick up exports.

“No shipping company’s going to get licensed through the state when they can just go across the river,” Johnson said. “From our window, we can see ships unloading ballast water in Canada.” The Port Authority is on the Detroit River, Johnson said.

That ballast water emptied on the Canadian side of the Detroit or St. Clair rivers doesn’t stay put, Fisher said.

“Because the Great Lakes are interconnected, and because these invasive species don’t respect political boundaries, one has to wonder what kind of environmental protection is being achieved,” he said.

Lauwers believes the state is missing out on international business with no apparent gain for the environment or water.

“Business is good at finding the least expensive way to operate and it was less expensive to take that business to states where that equipment wasn’t needed,” he said. “No one’s even trying to export out of Michigan because of regulations.”

Lauwers said the lack of ships willing to export out of a Michigan port means extra costs for farms and steel mills that have to ship their product over land in order to find a port with looser restrictions.

When Lauwers has to export grain from his grain elevator, Eastern Michigan Grain in Emmett, he often sends it over the Blue Water Bridge to freighters in Sarnia or Hamilton, Ontario, or by train to Toledo, Ohio.

Eastern Michigan Grain handles about 3 million bushels of grain a year, Lauwers said. A little under a third of that grain is exported outside of the United States. Lauwers said neither Port Huron nor Detroit are being used by ocean-going vessels.

According to the Michigan Economic Development Corporation at, Michigan has 40 commercial ports, 38 of which are deep-water ports. That’s eight more deep-water ports than any other Great Lakes state. The other seven Great Lakes states follow Coast Guard ballast water guidelines.

“The fact of the matter is that the US and Canadian governments and all other Great Lakes states are on the same program regarding this and Michigan is on its own,” Fisher said.

Dan Gallagher, president of the Lake Pilots Association, has a bird’s-eye view of the effect regulations have on ocean-going vessels. The Lake Pilots Association provides pilots for foreign vessels on the St. Lawrence Seaway. All foreign vessels on the seaway must have a U.S. registered pilot on board.

Gallagher said the state’s ballast standards have cut the numbers of ocean-going vessels exporting from Michigan ports. “It wouldn’t be unrealistic to have 25 ships hauling cargo out of the Detroit area, now we’re lucky to have one or two,” he said.

When ocean-going ships do pick up exports from Michigan ports, Gallagher said they load partial cargo, go to Ohio to discharge ballast water, and then return to the Michigan port to load the rest of the cargo.

Dave Sheldon, professor of biology at St. Clair County Community College and vice president of Friends of the St. Clair River Watershed, said the risk of changing Michigan ballast standards is not worth the expected economic gain.

“You’re looking at doing potential damage to an ecosystem that is a gem,” he said.

Sheldon said the potential for invasive species such as zebra mussels or quagga mussels to enter the Great Lakes system necessitates restrictions such as those in Michigan. The larvae of invasive species is microscopic and could easily enter ballast water.

“It’s a trickle down,” he said. “One little tweak in an ecosystem can send ripples through an ecosystem.”

He said the fact that other Great Lakes states haven’t adopted the same restrictions shouldn’t be a factor.

“I don’t feel we should weaken our standards because everyone else is doing it,” Sheldon said. “Being the Great Lakes state, we take possession and we take ownership.”

Lauwers said the bill has support from both sides of the aisle. “That tends to indicate that it’s not a partisan issue,” he said. “Creating a healthy economy in the state shouldn’t be partisan.”

The Times Herald


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.


Risley works to rebuild Whitefish Bay ice track

3/26 - Whitefish Bay - 4 p.m. update - Traffic has stopped moving on Whitefish Bay, as the track though the ice has collapsed, making the ice impassible.

The Canadian Coast Guard Ship Samuel Risley has asked vessels to hold their positions as the Risley works to reestablish the track between Gros Cap light and the ice edge. The upbound Cuyahoga and Hon. James L. Oberstar are waiting below Ile Parisienne.

USCG Mackinaw was underway below the locks and upbound to join the Risley.

Click here to listen to the Soo Live Scanner


Heavy traffic continues at the Soo

3/26 - St. Marys River - The Soo Locks were busy Monday with upbound traffic. In addition to the Paul R. Tregurtha, which opened the season at 12:01 a.m., passages included Alpena, John B. Aird, Frontenac, American Courage, Great Republic, American Integrity, Algoma Montrealais, Stewart J. Cort, Arthur M. Anderson, Ojibway, CSL Assiniboine, CSL Niagara and H. Lee White. At 6 p.m. Monday, Presque Isle, Edwin H. Gott, Kaye E. Barker, Saginaw and Cuyahoga were approaching DeTour. By late evening, the season’s first down bounders, Roger Blough and Indiana Harbor, were passing Ile Parisienne.

The USCG Alder and CCGS Samuel Risley were working Whitefish Bay ice, while USCG Mobile Bay and Neah Bay were in the lower St. Marys River near Lime Island. The USCG Mackinaw was in Soo Harbor and the USCG Hollyhock was in the Straits.

Jerry Masson and BoatNerd


Port Reports -  March 26

Marquette, Mich. - Rod Burdick
Manitowoc arrived back at the Upper Harbor Monday morning to load ore. She was stopped by heavy ice off the breakwall, but after several attempts busted through the ice field.

Sturgeon Bay - Wendell Wilke and Jake P. Heffernan
Layup departures from Bay Shipbuilding Monday included James R. Barker shortly after 8 a.m. and the Hon. James L. Oberstar shortly before 11 a.m. Both left by way of the Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal into Lake Michigan. Philip R. Clarke left in the early afternoon, first heading out to Sherwood Point north of the yard and then turning around to also head out towards Lake Michigan. She was followed by Cason J. Callaway.

Cleveland, Ohio - Great Lakes Group
Luedtke Engineering’s tug Krista S. arrived at Great Lakes Shipyard last Friday. It was hoisted out of the water using the 770-ton Travelift. The tug is being drydocked for an underwater hull survey and various repairs. Krista S is expected to be back in the water sometime early this week. American Courage departed Cleveland Saturday after two months of lay-up at Great Lakes Shipyard, which performed miscellaneous steel work, generator maintenance, main drive unit maintenance and other various repairs. American Courage is the last of three lakers to complete winter work at Great Lakes Shipyard this season. Interlake’s Dorothy Ann / Pathfinder was the first, and Inland Lakes Management’s Alpena was the second. Both departed in early March.

Toronto, Ont. – Charlie Gibbons
Sea Eagle II is in port sheltering. She is the first arrival of the new season.


Canadian Coast Guard’s icebreakers clearing the way for spring

3/26 - Kingston, Ont. – Seeing the Canadian Coast Guard’s signature red ships along the shores of Lake Ontario is a sure sign that spring is on its way.

To help speed up this process, the coast guard has an icebreaking program created to ensure that most Canadian ports are able to operate year-round without interruption, allowing vessels to make their scheduled deliveries on time.

The coast guard has a fleet of 18 icebreakers, each having its own route within Canadian and international waters, and all designed to handle varying ice conditions. Their main purpose is to guide marine vessels through ice during the depths of winter.

Among the fleet is the Griffon, one of the two Canadian icebreakers designated to work on the Great Lakes.

The Griffon made its way through the region Friday and plans to stick around until at least Monday to break the ice in the surrounding ports, such as Picton and Bath.

Ron Gallant, the commanding officer of the Griffon for the past 20 years, said that while they have regularly scheduled operations, they also work upon request.

“We had a request to assist a cement vessel into Picton at the dock and we’re just doing some icebreaking here just west of Kingston and the dock in Picton,” said Gallant. “On Monday, there’s a request for another vessel that’s going to the Lafarge dock in Bath, so we’ll be breaking ice off that dock in preparation for its arrival on Monday.”

The Griffon’s primary duties are icebreaking and navigational aid servicing, although the ship can also be requested for search and rescue missions, environmental response, maritime security and scientific research activities. There are 25 crewmembers aboard the Griffon, including nine officers. Its homeport is Prescott.

The Griffon breaks ice in the spring on Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River at the same time every year for a variety of reasons, said Gallant. In addition to the economic benefits of ensuring vessels can operate uninterruptedly, Gallant said it’s also important to prevent any environmental effects of the ice forming and potentially breaking off.

“There can be environmental reasons we do it if there are issues of flooding in the Detroit or St. Clair River area,” he said. “We’ve had requests over the years to go up over the Grand River in Lake Erie when ice is blocked and there’s flooding that affects the rivers, so in that sense there’s an environmental component to our operation, but the main thing is for the Canadian economy.”

That’s precisely why the light icebreaking vessel is in the area this time around.

The ice it broke Friday in Picton was approximately a foot thick, and if Gallant and the Griffon had not been available to take the call, the ship requesting assistance would have had to wait for the ice to thaw naturally.

“The ship was trying to get through, but it didn’t have enough strength or enough time,” said Gallant. “There was probably damage, so (if we weren’t around), they were probably going to have to wait until the ice had melted to be able to get through, which will be in about two or three weeks from now.”

Gallant says the coast guard also works in conjunction with the United States Coast Guard to “provide a seamless service to ships on both sides of the border.”

Despite the importance of breaking ice, Gallant said there actually isn’t much to the process.

“The weight of the vessel and horsepower and a very, very strongly built hull is how we break the ice,” he said. “That’s all it is. Horsepower and a lot of steel to protect the ship.”

To request icebreaking service, contact the nearest Canadian Coast Guard Marine Communications and Traffic Services Centre. The wait for the Great Lakes region is approximately eight hours. Griffon will be in Bath on Monday and will then head to Beauharnois, Que.

Kingston Whig Standard


Dredging backlog could clog Michigan ports

3/26 - Washington, D.C. – For years, billions in surplus funds from a tax collected to maintain commercial ports and harbors has instead been diverted to help pay down the federal deficit, even as shipping channels in Michigan and across the Great Lakes have been choked by record low water levels and a growing backlog in dredging.

For some shippers and port officials, the situation is dire. Harbors in some places, such as Waukegan, Ill., have closed to commercial traffic. And there are fears that could happen in some Michigan ports, driving up transportation costs for businesses and prices for consumers.

Already, light-loading -- in which lake carriers carry less cargo to account for shallower waters -- is costing millions a year in extra loads and penalties from Monroe to St. Joseph.

"It's not the ideal world," said Don Gilmet, the harbormaster in Alpena, where more than $1 million is needed to clear a backlog of dredging. "We're kind of just limping along."

Legislation under consideration in the U.S. Senate could help change that and force the government to spend the $1 billion in yearly proceeds of the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund, a figure that has generated -- on paper at least -- an unspent surplus of more than $6 billion. But first, it will have to survive vetting by a divided Congress that has been loath to approve anything that provides for additional spending.

If anything can break the spending logjam, however, it could be spending on ports. A hearing Wednesday to mark up the measure -- part of a sweeping Water Resources Development Act that would reauthorize programs, improve inland waterways and provide loans for projects -- showed a high level of bipartisan cooperation.

The legislation doesn't direct spending on specific projects, which would be a violation of a ban on earmarks. But with lawmakers from Maine to California interested in securing funding for their ports or channels, Steve Ellis of the anti-earmark Taxpayers for Common Sense, a watchdog group in Washington, said it pays to be vigilant.

"If ever there's an area where it could be the camel's nose to roll back the moratorium on earmarks, it could be this," he said.

Already, there were concerns that the measure was too friendly to high-use, deep-draft ports on the coasts, which generate the bulk of the funds in the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund by virtue of the value of their cargo. The government collects a tax of $1.25 for every $1,000 in cargo value.

Sen. Carl Levin, a Michigan Democrat and a longtime proponent of freeing up money in the fund for Great Lakes ports, tried to help fix that by getting a change ensuring that high-use, deep-draft ports get priority in any given year only if Congress lives up to its commitment to spend all of the fund's annual proceeds.

There is so much being collected, said Steve Fisher, director of the American Great Lakes Ports Association, that if all the receipts and interest -- more than $1 billion a year -- are spent, an estimated $200-million backlog of dredging at federally maintained harbors across the Great Lakes would disappear, with plenty left for the big ports in places such as California, New York and Louisiana.

However, that has not been the case.

The unspent taxes collected currently total more than $6 billion, but they have gone into the general treasury where they help cover all the nation's other bills and a deficit that has topped $1 trillion in some years.

In the meantime, funding for dredging has declined.

Four years ago, funding topped $60 million. This year, it was expected to be about half that and could be slashed further by cuts to the federal budget resulting from the sequester. The total price tag to cover all the commercial dredging needs on the lakes is about $100 million, according to the Army Corps of Engineers, which maintains the harbors and channels.

To hold even, the lakes need about $40 million in dredging a year, said Jim Weakley, president of the Lake Carriers Association, an Ohio-based trade group representing companies that move 115 million tons of cargo across the Great Lakes every year. Without that, the backlog keeps growing. Committing $60 million a year could clear the backlog in a decade, he said, but that depends on whether water levels continue to drop.

He's casting a wary eye toward ports on the coasts and in Louisiana getting priority, worrying it could leave the lakes' needs behind. But he's hopeful that, if nothing else, a doubling of the amount spent on dredging would "result in bigger and better crumbs for the Great Lakes ports."

Otherwise, he said, most of the smaller ports on the lakes could be in trouble.

Ellis, at Taxpayers for Common Sense, said the bill's convoluted language suggests legislators from California and Louisiana are "tripping over themselves" trying to make sure large ports get taken care of without alienating powerful senators like Levin. But with so much of the harbor maintenance fund being raised at a few ports -- those in Los Angeles, New York and Long Beach, Calif., end up accounting for as much as 40% of the proceeds -- there remain questions about how the money should be doled out.

He'd like to see a less political, more prioritized process for deciding which projects nationwide are most important.

But Ellis acknowledged a key point: While Great Lakes shippers often carry lesser-value cargoes such as coal, grain or salt, they are necessities.

"It's coal that keeps the lights on, iron ore for autos, grain on the kitchen table," said Paul C. LaMarre III, port director in Monroe.

The channels in Monroe, for instance, let coal barges deliver fuel to the DTE power plant there. Vessels that otherwise would be able to take advantage of a draft of 21-23 feet, instead are loading to a draft of slightly more than 18 feet. LaMarre said every inch that's lost equates to added shipments and higher costs for businesses, and customers.

On the Rouge River, steel maker Severstal North America pays about $400,000 a year in harbor taxes, but still had to shell out $2 million more last year for extra shipments because of light-loading to get the 3 million tons of iron ore it needs delivered.

It's not all attributable to the situation on the Rouge, said Bill Wednieski, Severstal's director of taxation and government programs. Some can be traced to the effect of low water levels on the St. Marys River that connects Lakes Superior and Huron just south of Sault Ste. Marie, which is a chokepoint for shipments.

But there's no practical alternative: Trucking iron ore pellets would cost too much, and there's no rail line available.

"Henry Ford built that steel mill here because of its access to water," he said.

In Lansing, Gov. Rick Snyder is expected to sign a bill providing $21 million in state funds on harbors, but that will go to recreational uses, not commercial ports. The bill received final passage last week.

At the Corps' Detroit office, chief of operations Dave Wright has been an advocate for more dredging but has a hard time attracting the funding needed to keep up with the silting and shoaling.

"Shippers are already operating on very narrow margins," Wright said. "They're basically forced to light-load more and more every year."

 Click here for a map showing the dredging needs

Detroit Free Press


Polsteam Great Lakes cargo-passenger season opens with first sailing

3/26 - Polsteam’s 2013 Great Lakes passenger season will get under way on or about March 28 when the fleet’s first ship of the season, the motor vessel Irma, leaves Amsterdam’s North Sea port of IJmuiden to cross the Atlantic for a voyage via the Gulf and St. Lawrence River and through the St Lawrence Seaway and Welland Canal for Cleveland, Ohio, then to Burns Harbor, Indiana.

Space is available in double and single cabins at a fare of $1,560 per person to Cleveland (about 13 days) and $1,790 per person to Burns Harbor, near Chicago (about 17 days), plus port taxes of $120 per person. An Owners Cabin is also available at a fare of $1,675 to Cleveland and $2,260 to Burns Harbor.

This service offers two sailings a month during the St. Lawrence Seaway navigation season (March through November departures) and bookings are welcome from travel agents. For further details please e-mail


Ontario moving ahead with coal plant shutdown

3/26 - The clock is ticking on the 300 jobs at the coal-fired Lambton Generating Station in Courtright. Following the provincial government’s January announcement that the station, and another at Nanticoke, would stop burning coal by the end of this year, notices of the shutdown went out this week to workers at the Courtright facility.

Neal Kelly, a spokesperson for Ontario Power Generation, said language in its labor contracts sets out the process for closing coal-burning units, including the one-year’s notice delivered Monday.

“Workers will be treated fairly,” Kelly said.

Some may decide to retire but those willing to relocate are guaranteed a job at one of Ontario Power Generation’s other sites, he said. “It will likely be in one of our hydro facilities,” Kelly said. “We have 65 hydro facilities across the province.”

Ontario’s Liberals said, when first elected, that all of the province’s coal-fired electricity plants would eventually be shutdown. The latest deadline to go completely off coal was the end of 2014 but the government moved the date up by one year for Lambton and Nanticoke.

“It’s disappointing,” said John Sprackett, spokesperson with the Ontario Power Workers’ Union that represents about 240 Lambton workers.

“We’re still hopeful that policy makers will come to the conclusion that recycling the Lambton and Nanticoke plants and converting them to a combination of bio-mass and natural gas is the best option for both the economy and the environment,” he said.

Ontario has said converting the Lambton station to another fuel is an option. The union, along with Sarnia-Lambton officials, have been lobbying for conversion to keep the site operating and save at least some of the jobs.

So far, Queen’s Park hasn’t said whether or not conversion is in the cards for Lambton. “We haven’t given up on the proposition yet,” Sprackett said.

Lambton will stop burning coal by the end of 2013 but the two remaining units operating there will be put into “a safe state” that would make it possible for them to be started up again, Neal said.

“We’ll need the workers around to do that, and that will take a little bit of time.”

Neal said the same process underway now at Lambton was used when two of its units closed several years ago. “It’s not pleasant for anybody to go through this when your job is coming to an end because the unit’s closing, but it’s not like any of the workers will be out of work,” Kelly said.

London Free Press


Blue Water Transit may take over Harsens ferry operation

3/26 - Port Huron, Mich. – Officials are resurrecting plans from 15 years ago to resolve rate increases at the Harsens Island ferry — and the plan doesn’t involve a bridge.

Blue Water Area Transit and Champion’s Auto Ferry are exploring an agreement that would make the transit authority the operator of ferry transportation to and from the island.

BWAT would contract out the ferry transportation to Champion’s Auto Ferry for an agreed upon cost and negotiated profit. The transit authority’s involvement with the ferry would make it eligible for a 50 percent state subsidy and could stall future rate increases for 15 to 20 years.

“It wouldn’t change anything at all as far as the services go,” said Champion’s Auto Ferry president and chief executive officer David Bryson.

“What it would do, if we were successful, is that it would eliminate having future fare increases for a long, long time.”

The subsidy and fares will be collected by the transit authority, which will then pay Champion’s for its contracted services.

“Surplus funds would be used to fund possible capital improvements and to postpone any possible fare increases,” said Jim Wilson, general manager for Blue Water Area Transit.

BWAT is the only contracted transportation authority in St. Clair County, which means that it is the only channel for state transportation subsidies under Public Act 51.

“Because we exist in St. Clair County, Harsens Island Transportation Authority is not able to get this funding,” Wilson said. “The least we could do is offer to help them.”

Wilson said before plans move forward, the transit authority’s involvement must be supported by boards in Clay Township, Harsens Island St. Clair Flats Homeowners Association, St. Clair County and the Harsen’s Island Transportation Authority. Clay Township and the homeowners association gave their approval, and Commissioner Bill Gratopp said the county board likely will give its support.

“Going with Blue Water Area Transit seems to be the way that everyone’s leaning,” Gratopp said.

The plans hinge on stalled approvals from the Harsens Island Transportation Authority. Representatives from HITA were not immediately available for comment.

Port Huron Times Herald


Calling all descendants of mariners who perished in 1913 Great Storm

3/26 - Goderich, Ont. – This November will mark the 100th anniversary of the Great Lakes Storm of 1913. Also referred to as the “White Hurricane,” it was a blizzard that destroyed 19 ships and killed more than 260 people. It is considered to be the most devastating disaster ever on the Great Lakes.

The Port of Goderich and other Lake Huron Shore Communities will be honoring the lost mariners, many of whom were born or lived in Southern Ontario, this year and are looking for persons who are descendants of these mariners. Organizers are looking for anyone who has heard old family stories about a great grandfather or granduncle who perished or survived the Great Storm. They would like to tell those stories and invite the descendants to attend the planned events.

The group’s website,, tells of the many activities and exhibitions planned in September and October to mark this centenary event, culminating on the weekend of November 8, 9 and 10th.

Anyone who is a descendant of any mariner lost in the 1913 Great Storm, please email in order that they may include you in the ceremonies in November.


Model shipbuilding for kids at the Great Lakes Maritime Center

3/26 - Port Huron, Mich. – The Great Lakes Nautical Society is hosting a model shipbuilding event for kids 12 and under on three Saturdays – April 6, 13 and 20 – from 1 p.m.-3 p.m. $5 will be charged for each ship model kit. Call 810-985-4817 for more details.


Updates -  March 26

Weekly Website Updates
News Photo Gallery


Today in Great Lakes History -  March 26

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

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

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: 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.


First day busy for the locks

3/25 - Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. 8 p.m. update - Roger Blough and Indiana Harbor were downbound four miles west of Whitefish Point Light. After CSL Assiniboine is clear of ice track upbound, the Canadian Coast Guard Ship Samuel Risley will escort the down bounders to locks.

6 p.m. update - The Soo Locks have been busy with upbound traffic ever since the Poe Locks opened for the season at 12:01 a.m. Monday with the passage of Paul R. Tregurtha. Monday's traffic, in addition to the Tregurtha, included Alpena, John B. Aird, Frontenac, American Courage, Great Republic, American Integrity, Algoma Montrealais, Stewart J. Cort, Arthur M. Anderson, Ojibway, CSL Assiniboine, CSL Niagara and H. Lee White. At 6 p.m. Monday, Presque Isle, Edwin H. Gott, Kaye E. Barker, Saginaw and Cuyahoga were approaching DeTour.

The USCG Alder and CCGS Samuel Risley were working Whitefish Bay ice, while USCG Mobile Bay and Neah Bay were in the lower St. Marys River near Lime Island. The USCG Mackinaw was in Soo Harbor and the USCG Hollyhock was in the Straits.

Jerry Masson and Boatnerd staff


Paul R. Tregurtha opens the 2013 shipping season at the Soo

3/25 - Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. – The Soo Locks opened for the season at 12:01 a.m. Monday with the passage of the upbound 1,000-footer Paul R. Tregurtha, under the command of Capt. Tim Dayton. First-boat ceremonies with local officials were held aboard the vessel – the largest on the lakes – earlier in the day. The Tregurtha arrived at the lower Poe Lock pier Saturday evening and had been waiting since then for the official opening.

Others were off to a quick start as well. By 11 p.m. Sunday there were a number of vessels headed upbound in the St. Marys River system between the Soo and northern Lake Huron. They included the Alpena, John B. Aird, Frontenac, Great Republic, Arthur M. Anderson, American Courage, Algoma Montrealais, American Integrity, Ojibway, Stewart J. Cort, CSL Niagara and CSL Assiniboine. Several were waiting off DeTour waiting their turn to go up. The cutters Alder and Samuel Risley were working above the locks, while the Mackinaw, Hollyhock and Mobile Bay were in the Pipe Island area in the lower river. Vessels will be allowed to proceed upbound at two-hour intervals, in case one of them becomes stuck in the ice and needs assistance.

Roger Blough was headed for the locks from layup at the western end of Lake Superior and will probably lock through some time late Monday as the first downbounder. Manitowoc, although unable to claim the title as first downbound passage though the locks, arrived back at Essar Steel above the locks at 3:22 p.m. from Marquette to unload pellets.

Jerry Masson, Mark Hudson, Boatnerd staff


Port Reports -  March 25

Marblehead, Ohio – Jim Spencer
At the Marblehead stone dock, loading was interrupted by high winds from the northeast. Lafarge crews expected to resume loading the vessel later Sunday evening.

Kingston, Ont. - Brian Johnson
Captain Bob Woodman of the carferry Wolfe Islander III got the top hat award Sunday morning for returning the ferry to the Marysville, Wolfe Island, summer dock. Every fall, the ferry departs Marysville for her winter terminal at Dawson Point, Wolfe Island, about three miles east of Marysville, due to water level or ice conditions. Wolfe Islander III left Marysville last October 1st due to low water levels in Barratt Bay, Wolfe Island. Her Kingston terminal remains at Barrack and Ontario Street. The Amherst Island ferry Frontenac II is due to depart for Heddle Marine in Hamilton for maintenance around Wednesday. She will be replaced with the Glenora ferry Quinte Loyalist.


Tug Everlast loses steering, rubs along edge of canal

3/25 - At 10 a.m. Sunday, the tug Everlast and her barge Norman McLeod lost steering and rubbed up against the starboard side of the south shore canal at Kahnawake. The tug captain reported taking on water but no pollution was noted. The pair proceeded to the Baillargeon Wharf at Cote Saint Catherine for inspection was is still there at midday Sunday. The tug and barge destination is Montreal.

Kent Malo


Algosoo drydocked in Sturgeon Bay

3/25 - On her first ever visit to Sturgeon Bay, Algosoo entered the Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal around 7 a.m. Sunday and arrived at Bay Shipbuilding around 8:30 a.m. She was assisted into the graving dock by the Selvick tugs Mary Page Hannah, Jimmy L., Sharon M. Selvick, Cameron O. and William C. Selvick.

Wendell Wilke


Political noise continues over Badger

3/25 - Chicago, Ill. – Illinois U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin found himself being roundly castigated Sunday in the wake of comments opposing the recent federal Environmental Protection Agency decision involving the last coal-burning passenger vessel sailing on the Great Lakes.

USEPA said a consent agreement gives owners of the cross-lake carferry Badger until the end of 2014 to come up with a way to end the historic practice of dumping coal ash into Lake Michigan.

Durbin, the second-ranking member of the Senate Democrat majority, said "people should be outraged that this will continue to operate" between Ludington and Manitowoc.

A Michigan environmental group promptly called for requiring the Ludington-based Lake Michigan Carferry Service to post a non-refundable bond. A U.S. EPA official disagreed, saying the agreement "is judicially enforceable."

Durbin has been the biggest Badger foe in Washington. His repeated demands that the Badger be denied the right to sail have been opposed by several Michigan and Wisconsin members of Congress, who recently added language to a Coast Guard funding bill to protect the vessel.

Chicago Tribune readers, by a heavy majority, disagreed with the senator. Comments ranged from noting Durbin's alleged lack of interest in the feared invasion of Asian carp, to his repeated strong support for a Milwaukee-based Badger competitor. Readers accused the Chicago Democrat of being a hypocrite and lacking the ability to grasp the issues.

The EPA consent agreement with Lake Michigan Carferry Service is to become final upon the review of public comments filed over the next 30 days, a USEPA spokesman said.

Jim Spencer


2013 edition of “Know Your Ships” guide greets new shipping season

3/25 - "How big is that boat?" "Where is it from?" "Who owns it?" Find the answers to those questions, and more, in "Know Your Ships 2013," the popular annual field guide to boats and boatwatching on the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway, now available.

Included in the 184-page, lavishly illustrated booklet (16 more pages have been added this year at no extra charge) 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. There's also a special salute to the Interlake Steamship Co., celebrating its 100th birthday this year, and a tribute to the men and ships lost in the Great Storm of 1913.

Standard binding, spiral binding and – new this year – an electronic version for the iPhone / iPad are all available.

"Know Your Ships," now in its 54th 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 Rt. Hon. James L. Oberstar of the Interlake fleet.

Editor / publisher Roger LeLievre, as well as members of the Know Your Ships crew, will also be on hand to autograph copies Saturday, April 13 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


Ore Dock Brewery presents show of paintings and prints by G.M. Bertram

3/25 - Marquette, Mich. – A rare viewing and sale of canvas prints of original paintings by noted Michigan artist G.M. Bertram will be exhibited at The Ore Dock Brewery, 114 Spring St., Marquette during April. The rarely seen interior and top side views of Marquette’s Lower Harbor Ore Dock shows how it looked before it was dismantled to the present day appearance we see today. The artist has painted the ore dock since the late 1970s. His portrayal of its grandeur is captured in many paintings and photographs. The show and sale starts at 1 p.m. April 3, and will be exhibited for the month at the Ore Dock Brewery’s upper floor gallery. For information call The Ore Dock Brewery at 906-228-8888 and ask for Anjila.



3/25 - Captain Larry E. Wallace
Larry Eldon Wallace, age 77, of Crown Point passed away March 19, 2013. He was born on August 7, 1935, in Marquette, Michigan, where he grew up playing hockey from the time he could hold a stick in his hand. At an early age he was fascinated by the giant ore boats that plied the Great Lakes, so it was no surprise that sailing became his career choice. In 1954 he was hired at Inland Steel (now Mittal Steel) as a deckhand on the Wilfred Sykes. After serving his country admirable and being honorably discharged from the U.S. Army, he and his wife Sherry moved to Merrillville, and he went back on the lakes, eventually attaining the highest rank possible – "Captain.” When he retired in 1991 at age 55, he and his wife moved to Colorado and lived in the Colorado mountains for 20 years. A memorial mass will be held on Monday, March 25, at 11 a.m. at St. Maria Goretti Catholic Church in Dyer, Indiana. Visitation will be held from 10 a.m. at the church until time of the mass. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Larry's memory to St. Maria Gorette Catholic Church.

James P.M. Green
Jim Green has passed in Quebec away after a long and courageous battle with cancer, surrounded by family and good friends. He was 81 years old. Jim gave his heart to the marine industry and those in it. For over 40 years he had an auspicious career with Shell Canada and after retiring in 1993, he embarked on a second career with Sterling Marine Fuels. For the next 15 years, as Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Jim Green brought greater prominence to Sterling with the marine community and was instrumental in the company’s rapid growth. He was a long-standing member of both the Grunt Club and the Marine Club, and served as President of the Marine Club in 1985. Also, for many years Jim was a dedicated and active volunteer with Mariner’s House in the Port of Montreal, serving mariners spiritual and practical needs. He was laid to rest after a funeral service at Mount Royal Funeral Complex Quebec on Saturday March 23. In appreciation of his life, donations may be made to St Georges Anglican Church or to Mariners House, Montreal.

Sterling Fuels Limited


2013 S.S. Badger Gathering reservations being taken

3/25 - Plans have been completed for the annual Boatnerd Gathering aboard the S.S. Badger for a round trip from Ludington, MI, to Manitowoc, WI, and return on Saturday, June 1, 2013. While in Manitowoc Boatnerds will have an option to reboard the Badger for a Wisconsin Shoreline Cruise or visit the Wisconsin Maritime Museum.

Staying on board the Badger on Friday night is also an option. Friday night guests will be treated to guided tours of the pilothouse and engine room, and buffet breakfast on Saturday morning. Only 28 staterooms are available. See the Gathering Page for all the details.


News Reporters and Photographers wanted

3/25 - We would like to invite anyone interested in reporting from their area to send in reports and pictures for this news page when ever they see anything interesting. Reports can be sent by e-mail or by using a form if the sender does not want credit.

Click here to E-mail your reports or pictures


BoatNerd fundraiser offering trip on the Roger Blough or Edwin H. Gott

3/25 - is raffling off the trip of a lifetime for two on the Roger Blough or Edwin H. Gott, generously provided by Great Lakes Fleet / KeyLakes, Inc.

All proceeds from this raffle will benefit the BoatNerd.Com web site, operated by Great Lakes & Seaway Shipping Online, Inc., a non-profit 501(C)(3) corporation. BoatNerd relies on the raffle as its primary means of fundraising in order to pay expenses associated with keeping the website on line.

To purchase a ticket aboard a Great Lakes cruise ship, you can pay over $4,000 per person. This trip is a once-in-a-life-time opportunity to cruise on a working freighter in the summer of 2013. The winner and a guest will cruise on a voyage aboard the Blough or the Gott, depending on vessel schedule. Departure port and dates will be coordinated with the winner.

Trips onboard a working freighter are only available to shipping company customers. The only way for the general public to take a cruise on a working Great Lakes freighter is through a raffle

Other prizes will be added over the next month. If you are interested in donating a prize please contact us.

Click here to buy your raffle tickets


Updates -  March 25

Weekly Website Updates
News Photo Gallery


Today in Great Lakes History -  March 25

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

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

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

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

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

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 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.


Port Reports -  March 24

Marquette, Mich. - Rod Burdick
Manitowoc arrived off the Upper Harbor around 7 p.m. Saturday evening, but was stopped by heavy ice. After several attempts, she made it through the ice field after sunset and docked to load the first ore cargo of the season at the LS&I ore dock.

Sault Ste. Marie
Paul R. Tregurtha was moored on the lower Poe Lock pier by Saturday evening and will be the first boat upbound when the Soo Locks open for the season at 12:01 a.m. on March 25. The cement carrier Alpena was at anchor at the Nine Mile anchorage.

Menominee, Mich. – Scott Best
Saturday the USCG Mobile Bay escorted the tug Erika Kobasic down Green Bay to the mouth of the Menominee River. The Tug Erika Kobasic then began breaking ice on the river for the departure of the Kaye E Barker which spent the winter in lay-up at K&K East Dock in Menominee. As of Saturday evening the Barker was still at the dock and the tug Erika was waiting to escort them near the mouth of the Menominee River.

Milwaukee, Wis. - Chris Gaziano and Jason Heindel
The American Integrity departed winter lay-up on Saturday afternoon. Following close behind by about a half hour was the Stewart J. Cort, also heading out to start the season.

Toledo, Ohio
Great Lakes Fleet’s Arthur M. Anderson and Great Republic left winter layup on Saturday. Sea Eagle II/St. Marys Cement II (tug/barge) departed on Friday.

Hamilton, Ont. - Eric Holmes
Algoma Transport departed winter lay up from Pier 26 at 4:30 p.m. and headed to the canal.

Toronto, Ont.
Stephen B. Roman departed her winter lay-up Saturday morning.


Western Lake Superior shipping activity ramps up

3/24 - Duluth, Minn. – Roger Blough was the second ship of the season to leave winter layup at Duluth-Superior, clearing Fraser Shipyards Friday afternoon. Despite icebreaking escort from two Heritage Marine tugs and extensive track work earlier in the week by the U.S. Coast Guard's icebreaker Biscayne Bay, the Blough's trip from Fraser to the Calumet fuel dock at Duluth's Port Terminal turned into a slog that took around seven hours, apparently hampered by heavy harbor ice.

The Blough spent most of the evening slowly backing down the front channel off Rice's Point in an attempt to line up for an approach to the pier. She finally secured late in the evening after a lot of icebreaking and a little nudging from Heritage Marine's tugs, which finished the effort by flushing broken ice from between the laker's hull and the wall as she approached, allowing her to get close enough to the dock to tie up safely and fuel. The Blough shifted early Saturday morning to the CN ore dock in Duluth to take on that terminal's first load of the season.

Great Lakes Towing's lead icebreaking tug North Carolina made a quick trip Friday evening to break out Two Harbors in anticipation of the Indiana Harbor opening the season there. Indiana Harbor left her winter berth at Lakehead Pipeline in Superior on Saturday morning, departing the Superior Entry and then re-arriving through the Duluth ship canal in order to reach Calumet Fuels without having to contend with heavy ice in the Superior front channel. In doing so, the 1,000-footer became the first freighter of the season to use the Superior entry and the first freighter of the season to pass inbound under the Aerial Bridge. A large crowd gathered there to greet her, enduring unseasonably cool weather but no doubt encouraged by sunny skies and the sure sign of spring that is the resumption of ship traffic. G-tugs North Carolina and North Dakota performed escort and ice flushing duties, again allowing the big ship to get close enough to the dock to tie up safely. That maneuver will probably be a common sight this week as the fuel dock should be busy, and cold overnight temperatures and cool daytime highs will mean persistent harbor ice.

Boatwatchers had more traffic to look forward to Saturday evening. Indiana Harbor got underway after a few hours of fueling, departing Duluth and headed for Two Harbors to take on the first load of the season there. Fleetmate American Century was expected slip into Calumet Fuels once the Indiana Harbor left, coming from her winter berth around the corner at Port Terminal #1, again with an ice escort from the G-tugs. The Century was due to depart during the evening for Silver Bay to open the season there. The Mesabi Miner returned to port Saturday morning after her coal delivery to Marquette, anchoring outside the harbor to wait her turn at Calumet Fuels and the CN ore dock. The Miner was expected to arrive Duluth for fuel after the Century cleared, and then to shift to CN once the Blough departed. The Blough was expected to depart Duluth overnight, the first ship to clear western Lake Superior with cargo for the lower Lakes.

Sunday should see the Indiana Harbor, American Century, and Mesabi Miner follow the Blough downbound for the Soo and points beyond, each with a cargo of iron ore pellets. CSL Tadoussac is also expected to load at CN Duluth sometime Sunday, coming from winter layup at Thunder Bay. Fleetmate Spruceglen may also leave Thunder Bay on Sunday and head for the Twin Ports to load coal at Midwest Energy in Superior for overseas transshipment at Quebec City.

Other fit-out dates
American Steamship
American Century departed Saturday
American Courage: departed Saturday
American Integrity: departed Saturday
H. Lee White: departed Saturday
Indiana Harbor: departed Saturday

Central Marine Logistics
Wilfred Sykes: Sailing Date = April 4
Great Lakes Fleet
Philip R. Clarke: Sailing Date = March 24
Cason J. Callaway: Sailing Date = March 25

Great Lakes Fleet
Edwin H. Gott Saturday

Stewart J. Cort Saturday

Lower Lakes Towing, Lower Lakes Transportation & Grand River Navigation
Ojibway and Kaministiqua: departed Saturday


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.


New Baie St. Paul opens Seaway for the season

3/23 - St. Lambert, Que. – The St. Lawrence Seaway opened Friday morning for its 55th season with the transit of Canada Steamship Lines’ newly-built Baie St. Paul through the St. Lambert Lock.

Marking the first of a series of new vessels being constructed specifically for use in the St. Lawrence Seaway, the Baie St. Paul ushers in a new era in domestic shipping, said Terence Bowles, President and CEO of the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation.

“Canada Steamship Lines (CSL) ranks prominently among a number of Canadian shipowners who are committing hundreds of millions of dollars to build new vessels, testifying to the confidence these firms have in the future of the Great Lakes-Seaway System,” Bowles said. “The new vessels coming into service will bolster marine transportation’s competitive edge as the most energy efficient means of moving cargo.”

“The Baie St. Paul is the first of CSL’s Trillium Class of vessels, which sets new standards in operational and energy efficiency, reliability and environmental protection,” added CSL’s President Louis Martel. “The Baie St. Paul is 15 percent more fuel efficient than CSL's previous class of ships – vessels that were already among the most efficient in the Lakes – and will save approximately 750 tonnes of fuel per year, amounting to a yearly carbon emission reduction of 2,400 tonnes.”

Companies seeking to bolster their supply chain’s sustainability are taking note that ships have a very small carbon footprint.

“A peer-reviewed study, released in February of 2013, confirms that marine generates the least greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of any transportation mode. The new vessels can move a tonne of cargo very efficiently, and when compared to the state-of-the-art equipment in alternate modes, generate 38 percent less GHG emissions than rail and 88 percent less GHG emissions than trucks,” Bowles added.

In terms of the outlook for cargo volume on the St. Lawrence Seaway in 2013, Bowles was upbeat. “Seaway tonnage is forecast to exceed a total of 40 million tonnes for the year,” said Bowles. The first saltie through was Clipper Mari.


Gates open on Welland Canal season; Cuyahoga first boat

3/23 - St. Catharines, Ont. – John Carlson was a celebrity Friday. Wearing his formal uniform, the captain of the Great Lakes shipping freighter Cuyahoga was guest of honor at the St. Lawrence Seaway Authority’s top hat ceremony.

For the first time in his 30-year career on the water, it was Carlson who got to pilot the first vessel of the year from Lake Ontario through the Welland Canal to Lake Erie.That also meant it was Carlson who got to don the ceremonial Welland Canal top hat, a ritual that goes back to 1947.

“You’re always looking forward to that upcoming season,” Carlson said. “We’ve been off all winter, but it’s always busy at the start of the year.”

There seemed to be reserved optimism at the season opening ceremony Friday, held at Lock 3 in St. Catharines, with canal management expecting a slight improvement over last year.

Bruce Hodgson, the director of market development for the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation, predicted just under 40 million tonnes of cargo to flow through the canal this year, which would be a 2 percent increase over last year.

“We think we’re being a little bit conservative with the U.S. economy starting to come back and the Canadian economy holding its own,” he said.

Scott Bravener, the president of Lower Lakes Towing Ltd., which owns the Cuyahoga, agreed with the outlook. “We’re projecting a modest gain in our tonnage this year, so we’re looking forward to the season,” Bravener said.

For Carlson, more cargo is never a bad thing. “You’re always hoping for it to be better. It just seems everyone is upbeat when the economy is better and we’re hauling cargo,” he said.

The Seaway Management Corporation also said it planned to spend around $250 million over the next five years on infrastructure improvements to the Welland Canal. The work includes things such as new piers, locks and gates along the 42 km canal.

Also on the horizon is the implementation of hands-free mooring, which allows ships to be secured in the locks without the use of ropes. The technology is currently being tested both in Niagara and in Quebec, and Hodgson said the seaway hopes to have all locks converted by 2018.

“We believe it’s important in terms of cost reduction and safety and it allows us to attract more vessels that don’t have seaway fittings,” he said.

The first downbound ship of the season in the Welland Canal was USCG Thunder Bay, returning to the East Coast after spending the winter on the lakes breaking ice.

St. Catharines Standard


Paul R. Tregurtha poised to be Soo Locks’ first boat

3/23 - Thursday at 3:30 p.m., the Paul R. Tregurtha left Bay Shipbuilding and headed northbound out to Sherwood Point, turned around and then traversed the Sturgeon Bay ship canal out to Lake Michigan. Prior to the turnaround, the USCG Mobile Bay broke ice in a big circle at the mouth of Sturgeon Bay so the Tregurtha could turn. The Tregurtha was also assisted by Selvick tugs. Once through the Oregon Street bridge, it appeared the ice was still a little tight on the turn to line up with the channel to the Bayview Bridge. The Selvick tug Jimmy L broke the ice so the Tregurtha could make turn, then the Tregurtha continued on to Lake Michigan. They were upbound in the lower St. Marys River Friday afternoon and will be the first upbound vessel when the locks open at 12:01 a.m. Monday. After locking through, the Tregurtha will load coal in Superior, Wis.

Meanwhile, the Manitowoc remained stuck in Whitefish Bay Friday. After spending the day and night Thursday, she was still sitting in place with the USCG Alder by her side as of Friday 5:40 p.m., with the Alder working to break the ice around her.

Mark Hudson


Soo Locks opening offers visitors a nighttime view of freighters

3/23 - Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Detroit District, has announced the Soo Locks in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., will open at 12:01 a.m. Monday, marking the beginning of the 2013 Great Lakes shipping season. To accommodate visitors, the observation deck and park will be open from 11 p.m. Sunday until 1 a.m. Monday.

On Monday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., there will be an open house featuring slide shows and refreshments at the Soo Locks Visitor Center. Admission is free.

"Navigation is the primary mission of the Detroit District and the Soo Locks is the linchpin of the Great Lakes Navigation System," said Lt. Col. Robert J. Ells, district engineer. "We invite the public to come and enjoy the impressive sight of large freighters passing through the locks. The view from the park is excellent, and the Soo Locks Visitor Center helps enhance the overall experience."


Port Reports -  March 23

Hamilton, Ont. – Eric Holmes Algoma Montrealais departed at 11 a.m. Friday for the Welland Canal. She is bound for Thunder Bay in ballast. Tugs Lac Manitoba, Evans McKiel and Ecosse arrived in port at 8:30 p.m.


Winter lay-up departures continue

3/23 - Both the John B. Aird and Frontenac departed their layup berths from the Welland Canal Thursday morning. Radcliffe R. Latimer left Montreal on Wednesday. Algosoo left her lay-up berth in Sarnia on March 22 for Sturgeon Bay and Bay Shipbuilding. Saginaw left Sarnia layup late Wednesday and was enroute to Stoneport. Finally, the Baie St. Paul departed her layup from Montreal either on March 21 or March 22.

Denny Dushane


Six vessels coming, going from Sturgeon Bay this weekend

3/23 - Sturgeon Bay, Wis. – Five vessels in the winter fleet at Bay Shipbuilding Co./Fincantieri are leaving the port of Sturgeon Bay this weekend, and another one is arriving, so motorists may find themselves in a holding pattern at either of the downtown bridges.

As the Bayview Bridge on Wisconsin 42/57 is closed for repairs until July 4, traffic is being detoured to the Michigan or Maple-Oregon street bridges. Commercial shipping traffic requires the bridges to be raised on demand after March 15 causing delays at both bridges – a mere 750 feet apart – as both must be raised at the same time to allow large cargo vessels through the canal.

This is good news for boatnerds who have a chance to see large ships thread the passage in the canal. For others, it is a new fact of life until the Bayview Bridge reopens. With the highway bridge closed, all land traffic between northern and southern Door County is routed through downtown Sturgeon Bay.

Here is a list of tentative dates and names of vessels provided by Bay Ship regarding the departures and yes, arrivals, of the winter fleet.

Two ships and one tug have already sailed. On March 15, the 728-foot Joseph L. Block was the first large vessel to leave port. At 6 p.m. Thursday, the “Queen of the Lakes” Paul R. Tregurtha left for Duluth, Minn. At 1,013 feet, the Tregurtha is the longest vessel on the Great Lakes. Several people ran to witness the ship straddling both bridges.

These departure and arrival dates are tentative and could change.

• Algosoo, 730 feet, arriving Saturday morning.
• Cason J. Callaway, 767 feet, leaving Saturday.
• Philip R. Clarke, 767 feet, leaving Saturday.
• Edgar A. Speer, 1,000 feet, leaving Saturday.
• James R. Barker, 1,000 feet, leaving Sunday.
• Hon. James L. Oberstar, 806 feet, leaving Sunday.
• Huron Spirit, 330 foot barge, could arrive as early as Monday.
• Lakes Contender, 740 foot barge, and the Ken Boothe Sr., 135 foot tug, leaving Wednesday.
• Buffalo, 630 feet, leaving Thursday.
• Wilfred Sykes, 690 feet, leaving April 4.
• Walter J. McCarthy, 1,000 feet, leaving April 17.

Door County Advocate


LMC agrees to consent decree to store SS Badger ash

3/23 - Ludington, Mich. – Lake Michigan Carferry has two years to end discharge of coal ash of the SS Badger under terms of a consent decree signed by LMC with the Department of Justice and the Environmental Protection Agency.

The decree has been submitted to federal court in Grand Rapids. LMC plans to do so by developing a means to retain the ash disposed of or recycled in an approved manner, rather than the discharge into Lake Michigan.

According to an EPA statement issued Friday about 2 p.m. about the proposed consent decree, LMC agrees to reduce the Badger’s discharge of coal ash and LMC will pay a $25,000 civil penalty for violating mercury water quality standards in 2012.

“This consent decree offers the fastest and most certain path available to EPA to stop the discharge of coal ash from the Badger into Lake Michigan,” said EPA Region 5 Administrator Susan Hedman. “The enforcement agreement reduces the discharge of coal ash more quickly and with greater oversight than would occur during the appeal of a decision to issue or deny a permit – a process that often takes several years.”

LMC said it will abandon plans to convert the Badger to being fueled by natural gas. The large investment needed to develop an ash retention system makes also seeking to convert to natural gas unlikely, according to LMC.

The decree requires LMC to reduce the average amount of coal combusted per operating day and that by the end of the 2014 season the average amount per day combusted must total 15 percent less than during its 2012 season, or face a $65,000 for the operating season. A schedule of other potential fines are also included in the 42-page decree.

The decree also states LMC must follow all federal, state and local laws, regulations or permits. There are also reporting deadlines, the first of which is to have a schedule of proposed design, construction, and installation of the technology LMC plans to use to the EPA by June 1.

LMC maintains it has the right to sail the Badger under current law until the consent decree is resolved. It cites a federal statute that states conditions of an expired permit continue in force until the effective date of a new permit.

LMC said it will take two years to complete the design of the system, obtain the proper approvals and to install the equipment. LMC states it is confident the system will work.

LMC states that even if the court does not approve the consent decree, it will continue to operate under the expired permit and would resume the permit process.

The public will have 30 days to comment on the proposed agreement before final approval by the court, according to the announcement LMC made early Friday afternoon. According to the Department of Justice, the actual dates of that comment period haven't yet been set.

According to LMC, the consent decree specifically states LMC denies that any of the discharge violated Clean Water Act or state mercury standards but is being agreed to as a means of resolving the issue.

LMC and EPA have been negotiating over the expired permit and the LMC request for a new permit for what LMC calls “an extended period of time” during which it has been considering several technologies “to find the best long-term solution, including using LNG as our fuel. The ash retention system was the only possible solution we had that will meet the time requirements of the EPA.”

LMC said cost estimates to create the ash retention system are not available, but that its preliminary estimates indicate it can retain the ash in a manner it deems affordable.

“The resolution of this issue has taken far longer than we had hoped, but the end result has been worth the effort,” Bob Manglitz, president and CEO of Lake Michigan Carferry, said in a statement issued Friday afternoon. “This agreement will save the jobs of our 200 plus employees as well as many other jobs in the states of Michigan and Wisconsin. We appreciate the support we have received from our elected representatives in Michigan and Wisconsin and the encouragement of the thousands of people who have supported our efforts to keep the badger sailing.”

The basis of the agreement is expressed in the following language found in the Consent Decree: “WHEREAS The United States and LMC (jointly, the “Parties”) have agreed that settlement of this action is in the best interests of the Parties and in the public interest, and that entry of this Consent Decree without further litigation is the most appropriate means of resolving this matter;”

The Badger contributes $35 million each year to the economies of the port cities of Ludington, and Manitowoc, Wisconsin, according to the LMC, adding local officials and residents have played a key role in helping everyone involved in the process understand the importance of the Badger to the port cities.

“That the EPA and the carferry owners have come to an agreement they both can live with that retains the jobs here and continues the commerce between the two cities is good,” Ludington Mayor John Henderson told the Ludington Daily News Friday afternoon. “This is a very positive step forward for the ferry to continue working on collecting its coal ash and continue operating out of Port Ludington.

“Now it’s important that our community step forward and start submitting its comments on this agreement between the EPA and carferry owners. I hope everybody sees there is true progress being made that totally eliminates that discharge into Lake Michigan and make it a more environmentally friendly operation.”

According to the EPA, the SS Badger was authorized to discharge coal ash under the 2008 National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Vessel General Permit. A permit provision authorized that discharge until December 2012. The S.S. Badger is the last coal-fired ship operating on the Great Lakes.

Ludington Daily News


Renovated Maritime Center reopens at Port Huron

3/23 - Port Huron, Mich. – New flags, new floor, new food — the Great Lakes Maritime Center showed off a lot of new things at its grand reopening Friday.

Acheson Ventures closed the center for three weeks starting March 1 to give it some maintenance for the first time in eight years. Acheson Ventures opened the center in 2005 as part of its vision for maritime education information and to give people a place to watch frieghter traffic.

Some of the improvements include new flooring, aquarium, flags, table tops and digital displays throughout the center that provide information about the river and creatures that live in it. The center also received a fresh coat of paint. The reopening was in conjunction with the seventh annual blessing of the fleet.

Eileen Moore, of Fort Gratiot, said she liked the changes. She said the center feels brighter. “It’s bright and clean and cheerful,” she said. “It’s a nice improvement.” Moore said she visits the center at least once a month.

Ada Turney, of Port Huron, said she liked the food. The Superior Backstreet Deli is providing the food at the Maritime Center. Coffee Harbor previously provided the food, but it moved into the Round Island Sweet Shoppe, 902 Military St., shortly after the center closed for maintenance.

All centerpieces are made from items that were found in the St. Clair River. The work is made by local artist Greg Lashbrook, a freshwater specialist who dives and makes art from the items he finds on his dives. He also made the 6-foot sculpture of Seymour the sturgeon displayed at the center.

“There’s nothing in there that isn’t out of the river,” said Mike DeLong, project manager for Acheson Ventures.

Another addition to the center is an office for Frank Frisk, maritime consultant at Vantage Point, maintains the site. He will be in the office daily from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. He does maritime lectures and programs in the afternoons for schools, libraries and non-profit organizations.

“I help out with message traffic on the website, and we make sure that the timing of the boats is proper so people can enjoy the freighters as they pass by and possibly get some other information,” Frisk said.

He said he’s thrilled with the changes and doesn’t have a favorite part, because he likes it all. DeLong said he was excited about the changes, but there’s more to come.

“We have a few more things, some more graphics that we want to put on, some more signage we want to put up and a few surprises we’re not going to let out yet,” he said.

The Maritime Center is open daily from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. through Memorial Day and from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. during the summer.

Port Huron Times Herald


Updates -  March 23

News Photo Gallery
Historical Perspectives Gallery updated - New pictures in the  Cliffs Victory and Mohawk Deer galleries


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.

1986: EBN MAGID visited the Seaway in 1970 as a) ADEL WEERT WIARDS and was on the cover of Know Your Ships for 1971. Following 2 explosions and a fire at sea at the end of January, the vessel docked this day at Milford Haven, U.K. to be unloaded. It was then sold to Belgian shipbreakers.

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


Manitowoc departs Soo, but is stopped by ice

3/22 - Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. – Manitowoc departed her winter lay-up berth at the Essar Steel Dock in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., Thursday escorted by the USCG Alder. However she did not make it out of Whitefish Bay and spent most of the day and night in the ice with the Alder.

Manitowoc is enroute to Marquette, Mich., where it is expected the she will be the first arrival at the LS&I Ore Dock for the 2013 shipping season. After loading iron ore in Marquette, Manitowoc will head back to Essar Steel.

Mark Hudson and Denny Dushane


Cuyahoga will open the Welland Canal Friday

3/22 - Cuyahoga became the first ship to depart Hamilton at 8 a.m. from Pier 21 loaded with slag for Cleveland. She is expected to officially open the Welland Canal Friday morning. She entered the canal on Thursday and tied up below Lock 3 to await ceremonies at which her skipper will be awarded the traditional top hat.

Eric Holmes


Griffin inspects Welland Canal for opening

3/22 - The Canadian Coast Guard Ship Griffon finished a downbound trip through the Welland Canal Wednesday from Port Colborne to Port Weller checking the buoys in the canal. The Welland Canal opens for shipping season on Friday March 22.

The Griffon was expected to conduct icebreaking operations on Lake Ontario. Harbors in Picton and Bath, Ont., will be visited by Griffon in preparation for shipping activities.

Gary Clifford


First new saltwater vessel due in Montreal

3/22 - The first new saltwater vessel, Sloman Herakles, a tanker from Antigua & Barbuda, is due to arrive in Montreal, Quebec, on March 26. She is coming from Klaipeda, Lithuania, and heading for Burns Harbor, Ind. The Sloman Herakles was built in 2012 and is a sistership to the Sloman Hera, another Antigua-flagged tanker, which visited the lakes for the first time in the 2012 shipping season.

Denny Dushane


Port Reports -  March 22

Marquette, Mich. - Rod Burdick
Mesabi Miner arrived and opened the Upper Harbor Thursday evening after a 32-hour trip across Lake Superior. Her coal cargo from Midwest Energy in Superior will be unloaded into the hopper for the Presque Isle WE power plant. Miner also opened the Upper Harbor in recent seasons of 2007, 2008 and 2012.

Escanaba, Mich. - Denny Dushane
Joseph L. Block arrived back in Escanaba late Wednesday evening to load at the CN Ore Dock. Block's visit was the second time she has loaded at the CN Dock since her fitout on March 15. The Block continued loading throughout the evening on Wednesday and was still there on Thursday afternoon. Also expected at the CN Ore Dock on Thursday was the Burns Harbor, which was due to arrive in the late afternoon hours to load iron ore for Indiana Harbor.

Stoneport, Mich. - Denny Dushane
The Calumet was expected to arrive at Stoneport and open that port and dock for the 2013 shipping season Thursday evening. The March 21 date is one of the earliest opening dates ever for any shipping season. The next vessel due is the Saginaw, expected to arrive from Sarnia on Friday at 8 a.m. to load. There are no vessels scheduled to load on Saturday. On Sunday, the Calumet will return at 9 a.m., followed by Great Lakes Trader, which is due to arrive on Monday at 7 a.m. from lay-up in Escanaba.

Sandusky, Ohio - Jim Spencer
The Canadian steel mill at Nanticoke, Ont., on the north shore of Lake Erie, will be the next port of call for CSL Laurentien, which sailed early Thursday from Sandusky. She loaded at the NS coal dock to open the shipping season on Wednesday.


Saltwater vessel news

3/22 - Some familiar saltwater vessels have recently been sold for scrapping, and a few others have been renamed. The list of renamed saltwater vessels includes the Rega of the Bahamas flag, that may be better known to many as Fossnes. She was renamed Regal at Tilbury, United Kingdom, on March 1 and is now registered in Belize. The ship sailed as Fossnes from 1995-2002 and as Rega from 2002 until 2013, making visits with each name. The Rega's last visit to the Great Lakes/Seaway system was during the 2010 season. Another Wagenborg vessel has also been sold and renamed. Morraborg, which visited last in 2012, is now the Shantar of Russian registry. She was renamed on March 17.

Saltwater vessels that have been sold for scrap recently or are in the process of being scrapped include Asphodel, which last visited during the 2009 season under that name. She may be better known as the Vamand Wave, which she held from 1985-2007 before being renamed Yamaska, the name she carried from 2007-09. The Jade Sky, which had three previous names and may be more familiar as Spar Garnet and Federal Vigra, has been scrapped. She arrived at the Jiangyin scrapyard in China on March 14. The Jade Sky was first named Mary Anne from 1985-93 and was Federal Vigra from 1993-97 and Spar Garnet from 1997-11, all under the Norwegian flag. The vessel made visits under each of her previous names and last visited in 2008 as Spar Garnet. The Seneca arrived at the Gadani anchorage for scrapping on March 14. The vessel was known as Mangal Desai, which she carried from 1983-98, Millenium Eagle from 1998-02 and Stokmarnes from 2002-04. She last visited as Seneca during the 2010 shipping season.

Denny Dushane


Emergency dredging bill approved by Michigan Senate

3/22 - Lansing, Mich. – The Michigan state Senate gave final concurrence Thursday morning to a bill that will provide $20.9 million for emergency dredging in 49 harbors and bays. The bill, which also provides $23 million for 76 projects paid for with the Natural Resources Trust Fund, was first proposed by Gov. Rick Snyder to deal with record low lake levels in Lakes Huron and Michigan.

The states general fund will provide $11.5 million for the dredging, with the remainder coming from the Michigan Waterways Commission Trust Fund. The bill now moves to Snyder for his signature. It was put on a fast track in February so dredging contracts can begin before the boating season starts in May.

Detroit Free Press


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, N.J. 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.


Twin Ports open with Mesabi Miner departing

3/21 - Mesabi Miner departed Duluth at 9:30 a.m. after loading coal at Midwest Energy. The Miner is heading to unload in Marquette.


Coast Guard prepares for Seaway opening

3/21 - The CCGS Martha L. Black entered the St Lawrence Seaway Wednesday and headed for Lock 3 at Beauharnois doing icebreaking duties. The first commercial vessel to enter the St. Lawrence Seaway for 2013 season will be the CSL vessel Baie St. Paul on Friday March 22. A ceremony will be held at the St. Lambert Lock marking the occasion.

Kent Malo


Port Reports -  March 21

Milwaukee, Wis. - Chris Gaziano
Burns Harbor departed winter lay-up late Wednesday afternoon. Shortly after her departure, the Alpena was inbound with its second load of the season for the Lafarge terminal.

Sandusky, Ohio - Jim Spencer
CSL Laurentien put her lines on the NS coal dock Wednesday, after sitting at anchor near the pierhead light since early Tuesday, when low water levels prevented her season-opening arrival at the Sandusky dock. She continued to load Wednesday night.

Marblehead, Ohio - Jim Spencer
Calumet was nearing the Lafarge Windsor dock at noon Wednesday, after finally sailing from the Lafarge Marblehead stone dock earlier in the day. The vessel had been at the Marblehead dock since Saturday, loading and then being delayed due to low water levels as the result of a late winter storm.

Hamilton, Ont. - Eric Holmes
Cuyahoga has shifted from its winter berth at Pier 10 - 6 to Pier 21 to load slag.

Halifax – Mac MacKay
Atlantic Superior sailed form Halifax on Tuesday March 19 with a partial cargo of gypsum. During the winter refit the unloading boom was repaired and repainted.


Canal shipping resumes for new season

3/21 - Port Colborne, Ont. – The Welland Canal is shipshape and ready for its 184th year of operation. St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp. will open the canal for some vessel transits and usher in the 54th anniversary of the St. Lawrence Seaway Wednesday.

There will be a top hat ceremony held in Port Colborne on Friday to officially kick off the shipping season.

The ceremony starts at 9 a.m. with light refreshments served a half-hour prior. Crowds will welcome the first downbound ship at the Lock 8 Park pavilion off of Mellanby Avenue.

Port Colborne Historical and Marine Museum curator and director Stephanie Powell Baswick said the ceremonial top hat presented to the first downbound ship’s captain is kept at the museum and is more than150 years old.

“We don’t let them keep it,” Baswick said of the top hat. “We keep a really close eye on our hat — we almost act like security for it.” Captains get to keep another hat given to them by the city.

The top hat ceremony for the first upbound ship will be held at 10 a.m. at the Lock 3 canals centre and museum in St. Catharines. Powell Baswick said this year marks the 100th anniversary of the start of construction for the fourth Welland Canal — the canal in use today.

“Essentially, the canal built our community because of not only the trade that’s come through, but also the supporting businesses and livelihood of people around it,” she said. “It continues to influence it through tourism.”

In 2012, fewer ships passed through the canal, but they hauled slightly more cargo than in 2011. Just more than 3,200 ships came through the canal — 53 ships less than 2011, and those ships carried just under 30 million tonnes of cargo.

Dry bulk products, such as coke, stone and scrap metal continued to be the most shipped through the canal at just under eight million tonnes last year. That’s down from almost 8.5 million tonnes from the year before.

Welland Tribune


Ship worker falls overboard, breaks leg

3/21 - Port Colborne, Ont. – A man was taken to hospital and treated for hypothermia and a compound fracture to one leg after he slipped from a ship and fell into the Welland Canal Wednesday afternoon.

The man, who has not been identified and for whom an age was not immediately available, was recovered from the water and taken to Welland hospital to be treated and checked for other injuries, said Port Colborne fire Chief Tom Cartwright.

Firefighters and paramedics were called to the scene at 3:45 p.m. and worked together to rescue the man, who was recovered from the water 20 minutes later, the chief said.

The worker was performing maintenance on the Frontenac, a vessel owned by Canada Steamship Lines, when he fell into the canal near the east wall of Lock 8, Cartwright said.

“It was a fairly long fall. The man was standing on the highest point of the deck which would have been about 25 to 30 feet from the water.”

Cartright said he was unsure of what led the man to fall, however, he did say strong winds could have been a factor. Niagara Regional Police and Ministry of Labour will conduct an investigation into the incident, said Cartwright.

The incident that took place Wednesday is the second major shipboard injury that has taken place in Port Colborne this year. In January, a 54-year-old man fell 9.9 metres from scaffolding inside the hold of the Algoma Central Corp. vessel John B. Aird.

Welland Tribune


Steel production falls 29,000 tons in Great Lakes states

3/21 - Raw steel production in the country's Great Lakes region was 637,000 tons in the week ending March 16, according to estimates from the American Iron and Steel Institute. Production was down 29,000 tons from the week prior. The majority of raw steel production in the Great Lakes region occurs in Indiana and the Chicago area.

Production in the Southern District was estimated at 614,000 tons last week, down from 619,000 tons a week earlier. Total domestic raw steel production last week was 1.8 million tons

U.S. steel mills had a capacity utilization rate of 74.5 percent last week, which is down from a 76.3 percent production rate a week earlier. The capacity utilization rate at this time last year was 79.6 percent.

Domestic mills have produced about 20 million tons of steel this year, down 7.6 percent from the same period in 2012. Last year at this time, domestic mills produced about 21.6 million tons of steel.

The American Iron and Steel Institute reported for the month of January, U.S. steel mills shipped 8,210,726 net tons, a 9.7 percent increase from the 7,483,120 net tons shipped in the previous month, December 2012, and a 3.4 percent decrease from the 8,497,932 net tons shipped in January 2012.



Army Corps commits $5.2M for Great Lakes repairs

3/21 - New Buffalo, Mich. – A top official of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says her agency will spend $5.2 million in Hurricane Sandy relief funds to repair 10 Great Lakes harbors.

U.S. Sen. Carl Levin says the assistant Army secretary for public works told him Wednesday that the money will cover work at six harbors in Michigan - New Buffalo, Holland, Muskegon, Saugatuck, South Haven and St. Joseph. Aid also goes to Illinois' Waukegan harbor and Indiana's Burns Waterway, Burns Waterway Small Boat, and Michigan City harbors.

Levin says Jo-Ellen Darcy told him the work is part of $19 million in hurricane recovery funds being used for work on the Great Lakes. Congress in January approved emergency Hurricane Sandy relief funds. Levin says the Great Lakes sustained millions in storm damage.

The Associated Press


State House approves funds for emergency Great Lakes dredging

3/21 - Lansing, Mich. – The state House of Representatives voted 107-3 Wednesday to provide $20.9 million for emergency dredging in 49 harbors and bays in the Great Lakes. The bill also appropriated $23 million for 76 projects paid for by the Natural Resources Trust Fund.

The dredging is needed to address record low lake levels in the Great Lakes, especially Lakes Michigan and Huron. The levels in recent years have left many boats stranded, unable to reach docks.

The states general fund will pay $11.5 million of the cost while the state Waterways Commission Trust Fund will pay the remainder. A minor technical amendment was added to the bill, so it has to go back to the Senate for concurrence before it moves on to Gov. Rick Snyder for his signature.

Detroit Free Press


U.S. Coast Guard to open West Neebish Channel in its entirety

3/21 - Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. – The Coast Guard will open the waters between Nine Mile Point and Sawmill Point at 8 a.m. Saturday. These preparations are being conducted in support of the March 25th opening of the Sault Locks and the start of the 2013 commercial navigation season.

The Coast Guard will make every effort to minimize the impact to Neebish Island Ferry operations. However, Neebish Island residents should prepare for minor service interruptions, as the ice descending into the Rock Cut will most certainly prevent the ferry from operating normally. In the event of an emergency and ferry service is interrupted, U.S. Coast Guard Sector Sault Ste. Marie is standing by to transport a resident should the need arise to leave the island.


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 she was 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.

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 crewmembers 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, Brazilfor repairs. 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.


Lakes shipping season to start this week

3/20 - Duluth, Minn. – The 2013 shipping season got under way in the Twin Ports Tuesday morning when the 1,000-foot laker Mesabi Miner loaded coal at the Midwest Energy Terminal in Superior. After loading, the ship moved to the Port Terminal to load and install a drive motor for its conveyor system. She is expected to depart Wednesday for Marquette, Mich.

The Miner will return to Duluth over the weekend to load iron ore at the CN dock and then head to Indiana Harbor on Lake Michigan. The Canadian-flag CSL Tadoussac also is set to head to Duluth this weekend from winter layup in Thunder Bay to load iron ore pellets.

Crews reported for fit-out last week to get many wintering vessels set to sail. Two U.S. Coast Guard cutters, Alder and Mackinaw, along with Heritage Marine tugs have been busy breaking ice to open shipping channels and slips around the harbor in preparation for not only the Miner getting underway, but also the Roger Blough, Indiana Harbor and American Century by the end of this week. Cutter Biscayne Bay will join in icebreaking operations later this week, as well.

The departing lakers will secure their places in line with other downbound traffic near Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., to await the reopening of the Soo Locks for the 2013 season at 12:01 a.m. on March 25.

Duluth News Tribune


Port Reports -  March 20

St. Marys River - Mark Hudson
The USCG cutter Mackinaw was back in Whitefish Bay Monday breaking ice and stayed in the bay for the night. Tuesday the Mackinaw moved down the St. Marys River and was sitting by the locks, waiting for better weather. The USCG cutter Alder continued to break ice despite high winds and snow Tuesday in Whitefish Bay.

Alpena, Mich. - Ben & Chanda McClain
With the shipping season already underway at Lafarge, the Alpena returned on Sunday for another load of cement. The tug Samuel de Champlain and barge Innovation arrived in port Tuesday evening.

Sandusky and Marblehead, Ohio - Jim Spencer
CSL Laurentien remained on the hook just off the Sandusky pierhead Tuesday evening, waiting for heavy southwest winds to subside before moving to the NS coal dock in Sandusky Bay. She had been expected to dock at mid-morning. Winds of 35-40 knots accompanying a late winter storm that produced snow near Buffalo, pushed water out of the Western Basin, making ship movements perilous. Calumet remained at the Lafarge stone dock at Marblehead late Tuesday afternoon, also because of the sharp drop in lake water levels. The weather service issued a Low Water Advisory Tuesday and forecast no significant drop in wind speeds until later in the week. Five and six foot seas were being reported offshore and temperatures hovered below the freezing point.

Quebec - Bruno Boissonneault
Atlantic Huron departed lay-up in Quebec City Tuesday at 6 a.m. She headed to load in Sep-Iles.


Puerto Rico Towing assists drifting vessel

3/20 - San Juan, Puerto Rico – Tugs Triton and Honcho of Puerto Rico Towing & Barge Co. have assisted a drifting vessel off the coast of Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico Towing & Barge Co. is affiliated with The Great Lakes Group and The Great Lakes Towing Co., of Cleveland, Ohio.

The Global Destiny, owned and operated by Diavlos Maritime based in Athens, Greece, called for assistance the morning of Saturday, March 16. The vessel reported that it had run out of fuel and was drifting approximately five miles off the coast of Dorado, approximately nine miles north west of San Juan. Triton came to the vessel’s aid and stood by until it was directed by the United States Coast Guard to proceed to the San Juan harbor anchorage.

On Monday, March 18, the Global Destiny was towed by the Triton and Honcho to anchorage. After receiving inspection and clearance by the USCG, the vessel was towed to Pier 11 for refueling. Puerto Rico Towing’s Captain Neftali Padilla, celebrating his 15th year with the company, was in charge of the rescue operation.

Great Lakes Group


Pipe Island north and east channels to be opened

3/20 - Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. – Pipe Island Passage, in the lower St. Marys River, will open to traffic at 8 a.m. on Friday. A Coast Guard icebreaker will conduct icebreaking operations to open the Pipe Island Passage, north and east of Pipe Island.


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


Twin Ports season about to start; Mesabi Miner expected to be first departure

3/19 - Duluth, Minn. – The 2013 shipping season will get under way in the Twin Ports late Tuesday or Wednesday when the 1,000-foot laker Mesabi Miner is expected to be the first departure of the season.

The Miner is scheduled to begin loading coal Tuesday morning at the Midwest Energy Terminal in Superior, after which the ship will move to the Port Terminal to load and install a drive motor for its conveyor system prior to making a Lake Superior delivery to Marquette.

The Miner will return to Duluth over the weekend to load iron ore at the CN dock and then head to Indiana Harbor on Lake Michigan. The Canadian-flag CSL Tadoussac is also set to head to Duluth this weekend from winter layup in Thunder Bay to load iron ore pellets.

Crews reported for fit-out last week to get many wintering vessels set to sail. Two U.S. Coast Guard cutters, Alder and Mackinaw, along with Heritage Marine tugs have been busy breaking ice to open shipping channels and slips around the harbor in preparation for not only the Miner getting underway, but also the Roger Blough, Indiana Harbor and American Century by the end of this week. Cutter Biscayne Bay will join in icebreaking operations later this week, as well.

The departing lakers will secure their places in line with other downbound traffic near Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., to await the reopening of the Soo Locks for the 2013 season at 12:01 a.m. on March 25. The Soo Locks are the gateway that allows lake carriers to move raw materials like iron ore, coal, limestone, cement and salt between Lake Superior and Lakes Michigan, Huron and Erie. It is also one of 16 sets of locks along the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway that allows oceangoing ships to come to the Twin Ports.

The Duluth News Tribune


Mackinaw breaks ice at Duluth-Superior; Munson may not sail

3/19 - Duluth, Minn. – The U.S. Coast Guard broke out its big gun this past weekend, sending the Mackinaw to break ice in the Twin Ports. The 240-foot-long ship has a beam of 58 feet and a displacement of 3,500 long tons. It’s that sheer weight the vessel uses to great effect busting ice on the Great Lakes.

Yet this hefty ship, the largest U.S. icebreaker serving the Great Lakes, is surprisingly nimble thanks to its unique propulsion system, consisting of two powerful aft-mounted azipods, located side by side, and one bow thruster.

“This is an incredible ship, but its great crew is what makes it so special,” said Cmdr. Mike Davanzo, reflecting on the icebreakers full complement of 10 officers and 46 enlisted members.

Pulling out an aerial photograph taken a few days ago, Davanzo pointed to the western-most tip of Lake Superior. While much of the lake appeared ice-free, the solid white beneath his index finger told a different story for the port of Duluth-Superior. “Most of our work for the past couple days has been out on that plate,” he said. “We’ve been cutting the ice into wedges so wind could push it out into the lake.”

The winds cooperated Saturday, although they were of more modest strength than Davanzo had hoped. “Mother Nature is a better icebreaker than we are,” he said. “We try to manage the ice rather than just break it.”

Winds off the lake Sunday did little to help the cause, but the Mackinaw went to work nevertheless retracing a path cut earlier in the week by the smaller Coast Guard Cutter Alder, a Duluth-based vessel whose primary mission is buoy-tending.

“We’re going to widen and freshen the tracks,” Davanzo explained. Final preparations for a new shipping season will be in high gear this week, with the Soo Locks slated to welcome its first vessel of the year on March 25.

“Winter is just as busy, but it’s a different kind of busy,” said Bill Peterson, general manager of the Great Lakes fleet, headquartered in Duluth.

Lake carriers make good use of the brief winter layup to tackle needed repairs and maintenance, hoping their fleets wont miss a beat once the shipping season begins. But those efforts take on a new intensity in the final days of fitting out. He said the Great Lakes Fleet’s nine vessels employ about 225 people.

As usual, most of the fleet will get off to a quick start this year, but due to soft market conditions the John G. Munson will remain moored at the dock until its services are required.

Most of the ice the Mackinaw encountered in and around the Twin Ports this weekend was of the 20-some-inch-thick variety well within its capabilities. The $80 million ship was designed to move handily through 32-inch ice at a steady 3-knot pace and to ram its way through ridge ice up to 10 feet thick. The heavily-reinforced ship is equally capable of making its way through thick ice with its bow or stern.

The Mackinaw also can break ice by using its powerful and unique propulsion system. It demonstrated this capability Sunday morning alongside the Canadian National/DM&IR ore dock.

The Mackinaw has a pair of Azipod propulsion units that can turn 360 degrees. By pointing its starboard and port Azipods in opposing directions and using the wash, it made quick work of ice near the dock Sunday, pushing water over the top of the ice and causing it to buckle. The maneuver about tripled the width of a track the ship had already cut.

Lt. Stephen Elliott said the technique uses a lot of fuel but has its place. “We use it when were next to a pier in a restricted harbor, where we don’t want to risk any structural damage, and when were close to a ship that’s beset in ice,” he said.

The Mackinaw completed its work in the Twin Ports on Sunday morning and set out for its next assignment in Whitefish Bay before noon.

“So many different areas still need our attention,” said Lt.j.g. Katie Braynard, describing the busy itinerary the ship will keep in the coming weeks, as it busts out ports and tackles problem choke points in the St. Marys River.

A small crowd of well-wishers gathered behind the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center late Sunday morning to see the Mackinaw off. The modest throng put a smile on Cmdr. Davanzo’s face.

“What’s really neat about working on the Great Lakes is that people here are so appreciative of the work we do,” he said.

Duluth News Tribune


Sandusky and Marblehead

3/19 - Spring continues its march across the calendar, with another Lake Erie port to begin the 2013 shipping season one day before the official first day of spring. CLS's 740-foot CSL Laurentien slipped her winter mooring lines at Port Colborne Monday and was bound for Sandusky at more than 11 knots Sunday night. She was due to arrive at the Norfolk-Southern coal dock at mid-morning. Meantime, Lower Lake's Calumet was again loading at the Lafarge Corp. stone dock at Marblehead. It is the third loading of the season at the dock by Calumet.

Jim Spencer


Canada tightens tanker safety with $120-million plan

3/19 - The Canadian federal government pushed back at suggestions it is advancing an energy agenda at the cost of the environment, announcing amendments to the Canada Shipping Act and eight new tanker-safety measures in British Columbia, where there have been deep concerns about pipeline safety and spill control.

Against the backdrop of Vancouver’s harbour, Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver and Transport Minister Denis Lebel outlined their plans, which also include a tanker-safety expert panel to recommend further measures. Over five years, the plan will cost $120-million. British Columbians have expressed widespread concern about the prospect of bitumen being piped into the province through the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline for shipment to Asia. There has also been alarm about Kinder Morgan’s plans to expand the Trans-Mountain pipeline from Alberta into the Lower Mainland. Premier Christy Clark has said the province won’t back Gateway without the meeting of five conditions, which include “world-class” spill-response measures.

The ministers dubbed their measures as steps towards a “World-Class Tanker Safety System.”

“What we’re announcing today is a result of our listening to British Columbians and responding to their concerns,” Mr. Oliver told reporters in a news conference.

While he noted there has been no catastrophic tanker spill in West Coast Canadian waters, Mr. Oliver said polluters would cover the costs if there were. “Let me be clear: Polluters must pay for all costs related to an oil-spill cleanup. While the current marine safety regime has served Canada well, more research will help us build a stronger system that can meet future needs.”

The eight measures include increased tanker inspections, expanded aerial surveillance of ships, a review of pilotage and tug-escort requirements, expanded research on non-conventional petroleum products like diluted bitumen, and more ports, starting with Kitimat, being designated for traffic-control measures. Amendments to the Canada Shipping Act, 2001, to be enacted in the new Safeguarding Canada’s Seas and Skies Act, are to include measures to bolster current requirements for pollution prevention and response at oil-handling facilities, introduce new offences for contraventions of the act and extend pollution penalties.

The panel will be the first since the 1990s to review tanker safety. Gordon Houston, former president and CEO of the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, lawyer Richard Gaudreau, and Michael Sinclair, former director of the Bedford Institute of Oceanography, are to conduct their review and report back by September, 2014.

Mr. Lebel said he thought the federal measures would satisfy the B.C. government, but the response from Victoria was restrained.

B.C. Environment Minister Terry Lake said it appeared that Ottawa has come a long way on the issue of spill safety in terms of meeting the need for increased regulation, although he added he would have to study Monday’s announcement more closely before being able to provide a more detailed response.

“What I have seen is very good,” Mr. Lake said. “They have expressed a lot of the concerns that we have expressed in the past.”

Mr. Lake’s BC Liberals are facing a date with the voters in the May 14 provincial election, and the minister pointedly suggested that Ms. Clark’s policies had a role in the federal position. “It’s clear that Ottawa has heard loud and clear from the Premier’s call for world-class oil-spill prevention and response regimes on the marine environment.”

Mr. Lebel sidestepped questions about closing the Kitsilano Coast Guard base as Ottawa was considering spill response. Mr. Lake said the move seemed “a little strange” to cut those resources when there is an expectation of greater tanker traffic.

Still, Bill Wareham, a science-program manager for the David Suzuki Foundation, said all the proposed new vigilance would have marginal effects in the event of a spill, so it is better to avoid increasing tanker traffic even at the expense of prosperity.

In Ottawa, Alberta Premier Alison Redford praised the federal announcement. Ms. Redford has been at odds with her B.C. counterpart, Ms. Clark, over the Gateway project, which Alberta backs strongly.

“It’s an important part of what we need to do as Canadians,” Ms. Redford told reporters. “For the federal government to be taking more steps with respect to monitoring and mitigation is important.”

The Globe and Mail


Port Huron unveils possibilities for Lakeside Park

3/19 - Port Huron, Mich. – The Port Huron Recreation Department unveiled the possible future of Lakeside Park on March 11. Nancy Winzer, the city’s recreation department director, along with Pam Blough of PM Blough Inc. gave a presentation to the city council and displayed the proposed master plan for Lakeside Park.

The plan was developed after two public meetings were held and input was received from the community on the needs of the park’s future look. Included in the plan are ideas to bring the park up to date with the American Disabilities Act, along with features such as a new bathroom facility and concession stand.

“Most of the people who grew up in Port Huron have childhood memories of the park,” Blough said. “Our goal is to enhance the park and also make it more inviting during weekdays, as well as the popular weekend days during the summer. Lakeside is a crown jewel of the city and it’s a very exciting opportunity for the community.”

At the heart of the plan is creating walkways linked together to create easier mobility throughout the entire park. A gazebo with benches and pavilions in two locations will also provide areas to not only sit and look out at Lake Huron, but also create areas in the park for community groups to hold special events.

Other ideas proposed in the plan are walkways that lead out to the beach and foot washes. A splash pad play area for children has also been proposed, while things like the sand volleyball court will also remain at the park.

“We want to put in walkways down to the beach for anyone who has difficulty walking in the sand and wants to be out by the water with their grandchildren and enjoy the lake,” Blough said. “A splash pad would also bring people in when the water isn’t quite warm enough to swim in yet. Our goal is to make sure we are using the whole extent of the park and keeping it a busy place throughout the weekdays as well as the popular weekends in the summer.”

Blough has also proposed moving the parking booth at the parking lot entrance further away from the road to avoid the traffic backups which are common on Gratiot Avenue during busy days during the summer. An archway entrance and new trees in the parking lot were some other ideas proposed during the presentation.

Yet, before any work begins on the proposed plan, more public input and funding must be taken care of. A public hearing will be held at the March 25 council meeting in regards to the plan and the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund grant application to fund the project.

Winzer said she doesn’t expect any changes to take place this summer, as more input from the public is needed along with the funding. Depending on the grant process, Winzer said she hopes to have a new-look Lakeside Park available to the public by the summer of 2014.

“This is a plan for the future,” Winzer said. “Right now, it all depends on funding, plus we want to make sure the public is comfortable with the plan we will have in place.”

The Voice


Great Lakes Shipyard will drydock, repair USCG cutter Neah Bay

3/19 - Cleveland, Ohio – Great Lakes Shipyard has been awarded a repair contract for the United States Coast Guard cutter Neah Bay (WTGB-105). Contracted work includes routine drydocking and underwater hull maintenance, inspection and testing of propulsion systems, overhaul of sea valves and shaft seal assemblies and other cleaning, inspections, and repairs.

This will be the first of the USCGs nine 140-foot Bay-class ice breaking tugs to be drydocked using Great Lakes Shipyard’s new Marine Travelift. The Travelift, with a lift capacity of 770-tons, was specifically designed and sized to accommodate the Bay-class Coast Guard cutters. Work on the Neah Bay will begin in early May and is expected to be completed by late June.


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.


Twin Ports season set to begin

3/18 - Duluth, Minn. – Vessel traffic in the Twin Ports is expected to begin this week with Mesabi Miner loading at Midwest Energy Terminal and departing with coal for the generating plant at Presque Isle, Mich. USCGC Mackinaw arrived in port Saturday to assist USCGC Alder with ice-breaking. Harbor ice remains thick, with the area receiving additional snow and minus-zero temperatures in recent days. However, the Alder has broken ice throughout Duluth harbor, along the front channel and into St. Louis Bay off Midwest Energy Terminal, where the Barker is berthed. Ice off shore is broken and shifting. Northeast winds pack it into a field that extends about 8 miles off the entry, but winds from the south or west quickly disperse much of it.

Al Miller


Seaway tolls to Increase by 3 percent in 2013

3/18 - Montreal, Q.C. – The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SLSMC) announced Thursday that tolls for the 2013 navigation season will increase by 3 percent. Following a five-year freeze on toll rates, the modest increase in tolls underscores the SLSMC’s determination to maintain the positive momentum generated by its market development initiatives.

Over 39 million tonnes of cargo transited the Seaway in 2012, representing a 4 percent increase in volume. The increase in tonnage testifies to both the economic recovery taking place within the Seaway’s client base and the emergence of new trade patterns.

“Our carriers are making significant progress in building their share of the cargo market. The continuation of the Seaway’s existing business incentive programs and the pending introduction of a new Gateway Incentive will serve to extend the marine mode’s competitive position, and generate new business” said Bruce Hodgson, Director of Market Development for the SLSMC.

“We continue to invest in the renewal of the Seaway infrastructure so as to provide the high reliability users have become accustomed to,” added Terence Bowles, President and CEO of the SLSMC. “We are also diligently advancing efforts to reduce system costs and bring more cargo into the Seaway. To this end, we are moving forward with testing of our Hands Free Mooring technology, as part of our transit of the future initiative.”

The Great Lakes Seaway System navigation system supports over 227,000 jobs and $35 billion of economic activity annually in the U.S. and Canada. Since its inception in 1959, more than 2.5 billion tonnes of cargo valued at over $375 billion have moved via the Seaway. The SLSMC remains dedicated to leveraging technology to enhance the Seaway’s performance, promoting the economic and environmental advantages tied to marine transportation, and attracting new cargoes to the Seaway.


Survey: Shoaling in Saugatuck channel, but water deep enough for cruise ship

3/18 - Saugatuck, Mich. – The latest survey of the channel from Lake Michigan to Kalamazoo Lake shows deep enough water for the arrival of a cruise ship in Saugatuck. The fear of shallow water helped get the waterway on a state list for emergency dredging that could be voted on in the House on Thursday.

The readings taken March 7 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers show some shoaling on the north side of the channel, but otherwise the water is at least 12 feet deep.

“This is really good news,” said Felicia Fairchild, executive director of the Saugatuck Douglas Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The cruise ship Yorktown is scheduled to visit the city seven times this year and its arrival was jeopardized by the possibility of low water levels in the channel. The 257-foot ship is specially designed for Great Lakes shallow depth harbors, drawing 8 feet.

Above-average precipitation helped boost water levels in Lake Michigan in February to 2 inches above the record-low level in January. It’s still about 2 feet below the normal levels for the month.

Fear of losing the ship and the black eye that would give Saugatuck and the entire state helped persuade officials to put Saugatuck on a list of communities eligible for $21 million in dredging money.

Allegan County’s only harbor was originally left off the state list because it did not have public marinas or state-owned facilities. The harbor does have state-funded boat ramps and locations for transient boaters.

Holland is not on that list for emergency dredging because the Army Corps has already agreed to dredging in May.

The $21 million, a combination of $11.5 million in general fund money and more than $8.8 million in State Waterways Commission funds, could be voted on Thursday, according to state Rep. Bob Genetski, R-Saugatuck, who worked with Fairchild to get Saugatuck listed.

Genetski’s proposal to use money from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund to help the harbors remains in committee, he said.

The shoaling on the north side of the Kalamazoo River channel is due to sand blowing into the water from the beach, said Tom O’Bryan of the Grand Haven office of the Army Corps of Engineers. The depth in the sandy area drops to a low of about 5 feet along the channel wall to 10 and 11 feet near the center for the channel.

The area could use a “little bit” of dredging, he said. “This is an early survey,” he added, noting that the depth could vary with the weather conditions. “If we get strong northwest winds, it’s very likely to change.”

The survey did not go beyond the Coral Gables area into Kalamazoo Lake.

The Kalamazoo Lake Harbor Authority is working to raise $2 million to dredge parts of Kalamazoo Lake that are becoming too shallow for recreational boating. The group is also addressing the long-term causes of the siltation.

Holland Sentinel


Bay City’s history resurfaces along the Saginaw River

3/18 - Bay City, Mich. - Some hidden treasures are kept deep below earth’s surface never to be seen again. However in Bay City, low water levels are revealing a piece of the past once forgotten.

In 1870, James Davidson was entering the shipbuilding business as an independent builder. Starting small, he would eventually create some of what the Bay City Historical Society calls the world’s biggest wooden ships.

Davidson used Bay City to connect to the rest of the world.

"You go out the river and you can get out into the bay you can pretty much go anywhere you want to in the world from that destination and that's how Bay City got its name," said Bay City Historical Society’s Chief Historian Ron Bloomfield.

But Davidson’s business crumbled before the great Depression. Davidson was forced to halt operations and close the yard, leaving behind what's known as “Davison’s Graveyard.”

"What happened, it looks like the scene of a big accident or something. I have heard several people say it's one of the only places you can see a ship wreck above ground," said Bloomfield.

In the early 1900s, the ships remained untouched for the most part. "People have talked about having jumped off those ships into the river, it was deeper at the time obviously," said Bloomfield.

Over the years Davidson’s fleet fell into disrepair. His ships were vandalized bulldozed and burned.

"Up goes the ship – obviously it's going to burn. There is a lot of dry wood there so it burns to the waterline," said Bloomfield. "You can see the outlines of the hulls and they haven't been dredged. I think that's significant, it shows us that they are being preserved, that nature is actually preserving these ships,” said Bloomfield.

They’re now entombed seemingly forever at Veterans Memorial Park. People still find parts of the past washed up along the Saginaw River.

"With families with people, oh yeah my father, my grandfather, my great grandfather worked for Davidson. He may have had an actual hand in putting that spike in or cutting that particular piece of wood. That's a really neat connection," said Bloomfield.

Bloomfield says the cost of preserving what's left makes these relics almost impossible to move and restore. But with a changing tide you can catch a glimpse of history along the Saginaw River.



Port Clinton light needs new home

3/18 - Port Clinton, Ohio – The historic beacon could help tourists navigate to Port Clinton's downtown, lighthouse buffs say, but the city is balking at a gift with strings attached. The Port Clinton Lighthouse Conservancy wants the city to promise to put the lighthouse by the Lake Erie shore, in Waterworks Park near downtown.

Port Clinton Mayor Vincent P. Leone says the city would be happy to accept the lighthouse, but city officials don't want to be tied down as they consider new proposals to develop the downtown shore area.

Sandusky Register


Erie Islands ferry begins season

3/18 - The Miller Ferry Line began its 2013 season on Friday linking the Lake Erie islands with the mainland. The ferry William Market was running between the Catawba Island dock and South Bass Island, marking the traditional start of tourist season. The Miller Ferry Line will begin running boats to Middle Bass Island on March 29, a spokesman said.

Jim Spencer


Southwest Detroit site expected to host piles of pet coke for some time

3/18 - Detroit, Mich. – The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality anticipates that a site just east of the Ambassador Bridge will become a long-term transfer spot for petroleum coke.

The site is one of two along the Detroit River where massive mounds of the pitch-black material, a by-product of tar sands oil refining, have piled up recently.

The second site, which a DEQ official visited Thursday, is on Detroit/Wayne County Port Authority property near Clark and Jefferson in southwest Detroit. It has been described as an overflow spot for the other site.

The rapidly expanding size of the piles has caused alarm, especially by residents of Windsor who have a prime view of the sites. Those residents, activists in metro Detroit and government officials in the U.S. and Canada have expressed concern that the piles could pollute the river or throw off dust.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says that pet coke is not carcinogenic.

Andy Hartz, the district coordinator for the Southeast Michigan Office of the DEQ in Warren, said his agency has not found any discharge or dust problems at either site, but he pointed out that the agency is investigating some catch basins and where they lead at the site east of the Ambassador Bridge, which is near 15th Street. That site is owned by the family of bridge owner Manuel (Matty) Moroun and leased to Norfolk Southern railroad.

Hartz said the DEQ would be sending a letter within 10 days to the owner of the pet coke, Detroit Bulk Storage, asking the company to implement a plan to prevent "fugitive" dust and keep runoff from the piles out of the river at the site east of the Ambassador Bridge.

Hartz said some thought was given to the placement of the pet coke at that site because it sits on an asphalt pad that is sloped away from the river. Hartz also said that workers at the site west of the bridge -- the Port Authority property -- were using vacuums Thursday to suck up standing storm water there.

"Everybody's being pretty responsive, which is good," Hartz said of the interaction with DEQ of the various stakeholders, including Detroit Bulk Storage.

Officials with Detroit Bulk Storage, however, have not returned calls from the Free Press seeking comment. On Thursday, a reporter who visited the company's office on East Great Lakes Street in River Rouge was asked to leave and told that the owners were not there.

Hartz said the company has indicated that a lake freighter would arrive by the end of March to begin removing the accumulated pet coke, which is being produced by the Marathon Petroleum refinery in southwest Detroit.

Detroit Free Press


S.S. Badger to start sailing season May 6 as coal ash issue could end up in court

3/18 - Muskegon, Mich. – Congressman Bill Huizenga has no inside information on when or how the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will rule on a permit application to allow the S.S. Badger to continue discharging coal ash into Lake Michigan.

Huizenga, R-Zeeland, has been a strong advocate for the federal permit for Badger owners Lake Michigan Carferry Inc. and the port city of Ludington, which is attempting to save an iconic business and a major tourist draw each summer. U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., -- among others -- has been a vocal opponent of the continued ash discharge into the lake.

Huizenga said the Badger will begin operations May 6 but he expects the entire issue to end up in federal court before it is finally resolved.

Without an extension of the EPA permit that expired last December, the Badger will not operate on Lake Michigan unless the coal ash is stored or the historic ferry is powered with another fuel. Lake Michigan Carferry owners say they are asking for a four-year extension on the discharge permit to provide time to find a solution that is feasible in terms of economics and marine engineering.

The EPA regional office in Chicago promises an initial decision on the Badger permit application this month. The decision would then be open for public comment before a final determination would be made, federal officials have said.

Such a process undoubtedly will take Lake Michigan Carferry up to its May 6 launch of the Badger’s 60th season of transporting passengers, vehicles and commercial trucks to Manitowoc, Wis.

Can the Badger operate without a final permit decision from the EPA?

Huizenga said he believes it can and Lake Michigan Carferry officials are preparing for the May 6 start. The Badger owners have declined to discuss the EPA discharge permit issues while federal environmental regulators are reviewing their application.

Huizenga said the discharge permit being sought by the Ludington-based ferry company is unique, as most of those type of permit applications come from coal-fired power plants. When a permit decision is not forthcoming, the power plants are allowed to operate in the interim, Huizenga told MLive and The Muskegon Chronicle Wednesday in a telephone interview from his Washington, D.C., office.

“Depending on the Badger’s legal challenges one way or the other, they will start up operations this May,” Huizenga said. “They are very confident that they will be sailing this season.”

Huizenga raised the specter of either the company or environmental forces actively opposing the EPA permit application ending up in court to continue the controversy over the coal-powered ferry -- the last steamship of its kind continuing operations in the United States.

Lake Michigan Carferry owners, community leaders in Ludington and Manitowoc and Badger customers have reached the middle of March with no answer from the EPA on the discharge permit. The March time clock continues ticking.



Soo Locks Visitor’s Center to open for first boat

3/18 - If you are visiting the Locks on March 25, members of the Soo Locks Visitors Center Association will be in the Visitors Center. The doors will be open, so stop in for coffee, snacks, to warm up, or just to visit. The center should have AIS up and running, and will possibly offer a slide show or two.


News Reporters and Photographers wanted

3/18 - We would like to invite anyone interested in reporting from their area to send in reports and pictures for this news page when ever they see anything interesting. Reports can be sent by e-mail or by using a form if the sender does not want credit.

Click here to E-mail your reports or pictures


Updates -  March 18

Weekly Website Updates
News Photo Gallery
Calendar of Events updated
Historical Perspectives Gallery updated - New for March: Charles Dick


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


Maritime Center reopens Friday

3/17 - Port Huron, Mich. – The Great Lakes Maritime Center, 51 Water St. Port Huron, which has been closed for maintenance since March 1, will have its grand reopening at 11 a.m. Friday. Visitors will find new artifacts, a new tank to house fish from the Great Lakes and an office for

Mike DeLong, director of operations for Acheson Ventures, said the changes are part of a push for more maritime education. He said no further moves have been made in regard to a study about the center released in February.

The study, by consultant 4ward Planning of Pittsburgh, called for an expanded center at Vantage Point funded by municipal bonds issued by the city or St. Clair County. The estimated cost of $7 million to $8 million would include a new facility about two and a half times the size of the current center with a theater, gift shop, cafe, children’s activity area, ship viewing area and conference room space.

When the Maritime Center reopens, there will also be a new deli on board, replacing Coffee Harbor, which moved into the Round Island Sweet Shoppe, 902 Military St.

Debbie Belcher, the owner of Superior Backstreet Deli in Port Huron, said she was approached about setting up shop along the St. Clair River and will be offering goods at the Great Lakes Maritime Center.

“It’s in the beginning stages, we’re just excited and reorganizing,” she said.

Port Huron Times Herald


Port Reports -  March 17

Sturgeon Bay, Wis. – Denny Dushane
Friday night the Joseph L. Block departed her winter lay-up berth at Bay Shipbuilding in Sturgeon Bay to begin her 2013 season. The Block entered Lake Michigan via the ship canal. The Block's was only the second vessel to depart from winter lay-up so far, with the tug Samuel de Champlain being the first. There are several vessels that remain in lay-up at Sturgeon Bay, including Buffalo, Walter J. McCarthy Jr., Wilfred Sykes, Cason J. Callaway, Philip R. Clarke, Edgar B. Speer, James R. Barker, Paul R. Tregurtha and the tug/barge combo Ken Boothe Sr. and Lakes Contender. Hon. James L. Oberstar remains in Bayship’s large graving dock.

Escanaba, Mich. – Denny Dushane
Joseph L. Block arrived at the CN ore dock in Escanaba early morning Saturday to open that port's 2013 shipping season. After loading, the Block will head for Indiana Harbor to unload her ore cargo.

Milwaukee, Wis. – Scott J. Burns
On Friday night, crews were working around the clock preparing the American Integrity for this year’s shipping season. Among major work being done is some structural replacement within her ballast tanks. Webbing and framing have been found to be in poor condition. A 16-foot-square hole was observed at her starboard side bow for access to the tanks. Tentative plans are to fuel her dockside on Sunday and have the shore-based crew wrapped up by the 21st. No firm sailing date was given.

Marblehead, Ohio – Jim Spencer
Calumet, which opened the 2013 shipping season at the Lafarge Corp. stone dock on Thursday evening when she arrived from layup in Sarnia, was back at the dock Saturday. She was loading again for Windsor.

Halifax, N.S. – Mac Mackay
After winter layup in Halifax Atlantic Superior will be going back to work on March 18. Over the winter the ship has had its self-unloading boom completely refinished, and there has been a lot of other activity, not visible from shore. With the completion of that work the ship will be move to National Gypsum to load before sailing later in the day.


Coast Guard seeking ice to break

3/17 - Marquette, Mich. – The United States Coast Guard cutter Biscayne Bay was in Marquette Friday as part of a Lake Superior ice breaking endeavor that began in the St. Marys River, continued through the Soo Locks and pressed on to Duluth.

"(Thursday) we came through the locks of the St. Marys River ... with the Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw and the Canadian Coast Guard ship Samuel Risley," said Lt. Thomas Przybyla, commanding officer of the 140-foot Biscayne Bay, based at the St. Ignace Coast Guard station. "We were the first cutters to lock through the locks, so now we're up here in Lake Superior, breaking ice as needed to facilitate commercial shipping that's going to start moving soon."

Originally intending to break ice for Marquette's ore docks in anticipation of the first ore ship arriving from the Soo Locks on March 25, Przybyla and crew arrived to find that a recent couple days of milder temperatures made the job unnecessary. "Earlier in the week there had been ice in the ore docks up by Presque Isle, so we were going to break those out," said Przybyla. "But it turns out that the weather took care of that before we got here, so there's open water there right now."

The United States Coast Guard cutter Biscayne Bay docked at Mattson Lower Harbor Park in Marquette on Friday on its way west across Lake Superior. The Biscayne Bay will go as far as Duluth, Minn., breaking ice in shipping lanes and ports before the Soo Locks open on March 25 to commercial shipping.

The Soo Locks are generally closed each year from Jan. 15 to March 25. Before the locks reopen, the U.S. and Canadian coast guards pass through them with the responsibility of breaking ice in the shipping lanes and ports for subsequent ore boats and other commercial vessels seeking to move through the Great Lakes.

The Manitowoc is slated to be the first ore boat to enter Marquette for the 2013 shipping season, traveling east across Lake Superior. It's expected to arrive in Marquette Thursday. The locks at Sault Ste. Marie will open for commercial traffic on March 25 and the first ore boat is expected through the locks and en route to Marquette shortly after.

In the meantime, the Biscayne Bay will continue to travel west, breaking ice as it goes. "We'll move further into the lake," said Przybyla, "probably over towards Duluth, possibly the Apostle Islands – as we're needed – to break ice out there."

Elsewhere on the lake, icebreaking work is expected clear the way for ferry trips to Mackinac Island from St. Ignace as well as lake freighters, according to a report from the downstate Cheboygan Daily Tribune.

The Coast Guard has warned people to clear Moran Bay of ice fishing shanties and recreational equipment. Icebreaking operations are expected to be undertaken by the cutter Katmai Bay. Warnings are expected next week for the opening of the South Channel of the Straits of Mackinac, which is needed for Great Lakes shipping

. The Mining Journal


Salties ready for 2013 season

3/17 - In anticipation of the March 22 opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway, there are several saltwater vessels due to arrive in Montreal for points west. There are five vessels presently due to arrive in Montreal between March 21-23 and another, the tanker Clipper Mari, which is due to depart from Montreal on March 22 for Clarkson. The Clipper Mari could possibly be the first saltwater ship of the 2013 season to transit the seaway and the seaway locks March 22. Vessels due to arrive in Montreal are Federal Hunter on March 21 for Duluth-Superior, Federal Kumano on March 21 for Hamilton, Isadora due on March 22 for Toronto, Federal Elbe on March 22 for Ashtabula and Isa, due on March 23 for Windsor. Also expected to arrive in Montreal by late March are Federal Mattawa and Federal Welland, both for Cleveland. A side note to the Federal Hunter's arrival on March 21 for Duluth-Superior – this could be the Port of Duluth's earliest ever arrival for a saltwater vessel, as the earliest arrival to date was on April 1 in the 1990s.

Denny Dushane


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.

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, Quebec. 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. 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.



Marquette and Lake Superior prepare for season opening

3/16 - Marquette, Mich. – The shipping season in Marquette opened Friday when the USCG vessel Biscayne Bay arrived to break ice before moving on to Duluth. However warm temps and strong wind yesterday and Friday broke up and sent the ice out of the upper harbor, which should make the first vessel’s arrival a bit easier next week. Biscayne Bay then pulled into the lower harbor to break a path there. She will remain in the Marquette area until weather conditions over Lake Superior improve. Currently, strong winds and lake effect snow are currently making travel on the lake difficult.

The Duluth Shipping News has reported that the first vessel of the year will depart late Tuesday or early Wednesday, pending weather. Mesabi Miner is scheduled to load coal on Tuesday and depart for Marquette's upper harbor. That should put the Miner in Marquette about late Wednesday or early Thursday morning. It’s still unknown at this point whether or not the Manitowoc, which is laid up in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., will arrive anytime next week.

USCGC Biscayne Bay was secured at Mattson Lower Harbor Park on Friday after ice breaking operations on Lake Superior.

Rod Burdick and Art Pickering


Calumet opens season at Marblehead

3/16 - Lafarge Corp. welcomed the first vessel of the 2013 shipping season Thursday night at it’s Marblehead stone dock. The 630-foot Calumet, Lower Lakes Transportation, loaded Friday for Windsor. A Lafarge spokesman said the dock loaded 3.1 million tons aboard 187 boats during the 2012 shipping season and expects to load about 4 million tons of stone this year. Calumet sailed from its Sarnia lay-up berth on Thursday.

Jim Spencer


Captain John’s Restaurant ordered to stay put after being shut down

3/16 - Toronto, Ont. – After months of quietly hoping that the waterfront relic, Captain John’s Restaurant, would just go away, Toronto Port Authority officials have now told the ship’s owner to stay put or face a $50,000 fine.

The legal ultimatum was delivered recently to “Captain” John Letnik out of fear he was about to sell the ship to a Hamilton businessman who planned to tow it to the Steeltown waterfront and convert it into a casino or restaurant.

Harbour Master Angus Armstrong issued the “detention order” citing outstanding berthing fees owed by Letnik for the watery slip where the 300-foot ship, Jadran, has sat for decades at the foot of Yonge Street.

“I thought they just wanted to tow me to the middle of the lake and sink the ship,” quipped Letnik who owes some $800,000 in back taxes, berthing and other fees to the City of Toronto, the Port Authority and Waterfront Toronto who, he claims, are no longer taking his calls.

The city shut off water to the ship last summer and then ordered the restaurant shut down. Waterfront Toronto intends to turn the parking area where the ship’s gangplank now rests into a public park surrounding waterfront condos well under construction. But clearly that’s on hold for now.

“The vessel must remain where it is until certain issues have been addressed,” said Pamela McDonald, director of communications for the Port Authority in an email to the Star.

That includes having a marine engineer examine the hull “to ensure that it can be moved safely and without environmental damage” and that it is insured first in case it breaks up or sinks along the way.

“The City, the Toronto Port Authority and Waterfront Toronto remain hopeful that Mr. Letnik will come up with a viable plan that will allow him to address his financial obligations,” said McDonald in her email. She said the city, Port Authority and Waterfront Toronto remain open to “legitimate written offers” for the ship — which civic officials have yet to move to seize — but none have been received.

Hamilton businessman Don Maga, who floated the idea of moving the ship to Hamilton last month, said he’s still keen to buy it, but has been shocked to find there are outstanding mortgages as well.

He called the ship’s financial situation “a fiasco” but declined to say how much money Letnik owes in total. In the meantime, Toronto entrepreneur Branko Kavcic said he’s yet to hear anything since he sent civic officials a letter of intent to buy the ship last August and followed up with repeated emails and phone calls.

“It seems like they are completely deaf,” to the offer, said Kavcic in an interview Friday, saying the deal was conditional on getting a 15-year lease from the Port Authority on a new watery slip to the east or west of the existing site.

Kavcic said his offer, crafted by his accountant, included a plan to repaint and refurbish the rusting ship and get it running again as a restaurant. “This icon belongs in Toronto, not Hamilton,” said Kavcic. McDonald was unable to comment on Kavcic claims.

One ship expert who spoke to the Star on condition his name not be used, said scrappers who’ve toured the Jadran told civic officials the ship is “a total disaster.”

They also warned the Jadran isn’t worth enough to cover the outstanding monies and, in fact, could cost waterfront officials at least $80,000 just to tow to a place where it could be cut up as scrap.

Toronto Star


Today in Great Lakes History -  March 16

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.


Icebreakers lock through at the Soo

3/15 - Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. – Thursday about 11 a.m. a trio of icebreakers entered the Poe Lock for passage upbound. USCG Mackinaw entered first, followed by the Biscayne Bay and the Canadian Coast Guard Ship Samuel Risley. The trio broke ice in Whitefish Bay in preparation for the opening of the Soo Locks on March 25.

After a few passes opening the course used by commercial shipping, the Biscayne Bay and Mackinaw headed westbound on Lake Superior about 4 p.m.

The Risley stopped for the night in the ice in Whitefish Bay. The crew spent Wednesday breaking out McGregor Bay, on northern Georgian Bay, to clear the Lafarge dock for the arrival of the cement carrier Alpena. Alpena will be escorted in by USCGC Katmai Bay. From Sault Ste. Marie, the Risley will head up to Thunder Bay to break out the harbor.

Mark Hudson, Graham Grattan, Michelle Hill and BoatNerd


First of Sarnia’s winter fleet departs

3/15 - Sarnia, Ont. - Calumet of Lower Lakes Towing departed their winter lay-up berth Thursday from Sarnia. They headed downbound for Marblehead, Ohio to load stone.

Denny Dushane


Ice clearing begins Monday on St. Lawrence Seaway

3/15 - Beginning March 18, the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation will begin ice-clearing activities in the vicinity of the Eisenhower and Snell locks in preparation for the Seaway's upcoming navigation season. The corporation's tug Robinson Bay will be used during the ice clearing operations.

The Montreal-Lake Ontario section of the St. Lawrence Seaway is scheduled to open on March 22.



Opening ceremony planned for Seaway at St. Lambert Lock

3/15 - Montreal, Q.C. – Louis Martel, President of Montreal-based Canada Steamship Lines, will serve as the keynote speaker at the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway's 55th navigation season as he unveils its award-winning, newly-built ship for the first time. The official ceremony with speeches and presentation to ship's captain will be at 11 a.m. on Friday, March 22.

CSL’s Baie St. Paul is the first of a series of new environmentally-advanced Canadian Great Lakes bulk carriers to begin trading in the region. This season marks the beginning of the greatest renewal seen in Great Lakes domestic shipping in 30 years. Terence Bowles, CEO of the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation, will also provide a forecast for the shipping season, which is a good bellwether of economic conditions.

The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation


Obituary: William D. Carle III

3/15 - William D. Carle III, age 83, passed away in Lakewood, Ohio on March 12. The son of William D. Carle Jr. and Ann Ayers Carle, he was born in Cleveland, Ohio on May 31, 1929. He grew up in Elyria and Wellington before moving to Lakewood in 1952.

An early supporter of the Boatnerd Web site, he was also a longtime member of the Marine Historical Society of Detroit and always looked forward to the group's annual dinner at the St. Clair Inn.

Mr. Carle's life and interests were always tied to the Great Lakes. At age 16, he had his first taste of life on the water when he spent four summers as a seaman aboard the Emory L. Ford, which helped fund his undergraduate education at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio from which he received a Bachelor of Science in Business in 1951. At Miami, he met his wife, Marie Elizabeth Louise Matson (affectionately known as Susie), and they married in 1950. Following his graduation from Miami, Carle went to work for the Pittsburgh Steamship Division of U.S. Steel as an industrial relations manager. While employed there, he obtained his Juris Doctorate from the Cleveland-Marshall Law School in 1955, where he was president of his class.

Upon receiving his law degree, Mr. Carle began a long relationship with the law firm then known as McCreary, Hinslea and Ray, which now bears his name as Ray, Robinson, Carle and Davies, PLL. He was a partner who specialized in maritime cases, with particular expertise in cargo-related matters. In 1983, he argued a case before the United States Supreme Court. In 2005, he was recognized for his 50 years in the practice of law by the Cleveland Bar Association, the Ohio State Bar Association and the Cuyahoga County (Ohio) Commissioners.

Well-known in the maritime legal community, he was active in a number of professional associations, including the International Association of Defense Counsel, the Maritime Law Association of the United States and the American, Ohio, and Cleveland Bar Associations. Mr. Carle's love of boats and the water extended far beyond professional interest. He was a member of the Board of Trustees of the Great Lakes Historical Society, and was instrumental in bringing the Str. William G. Mather museum ship to the Port of Cleveland. He was also a long time member of the Marine Historical Society of Detroit and a Past President of The Propeller Club of Cleveland.

Visitation will be held Friday, March 15 from 2  - 4 p.m. and from 6 - 8 p.m. at the Busch Funeral Home, 21369 Center Ridge Road, Fairview Park, OH 44116. Funeral services will be held at the same location at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, March 16. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations in memory of Mr. Carle be made to the Lakewood United Methodist Church, 15700 Detroit Ave., Lakewood, OH 44107.


Updates -  March 15

News Photo Gallery


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 carferry 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 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 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 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.


Icebreaking beings at Soo, Duluth

3/14 - The USCG Mackinaw entered the Poe Lock at the Soo Wednesday morning to clear ice in anticipation of locking through on her way to Whitefish Bay and Lake Superior later this week. In Duluth, the USCG Alder was outbound through the Duluth piers about 10:30 a.m. They passed to the edge of the ice field a few miles into Lake Superior and then returned to break up some of the harbor ice.


Michigan emergency dredging gets OK from House committee

3/14 - Lansing, Mich. – Emergency dredging in the Great Lakes moved a step closer to reality Wednesday when the House Appropriations committee approved spending $20.9 million to clear 49 bays and harbors.

The supplemental bill, which also includes 76 land purchase and development projects for recreational purposes that will be funded through the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund, now only needs approval from the full House of Representatives before it moves to Gov. Rick Snyder for his signature. The bill passed on a vote of 22-0, with four Democrats passing on the measure.

“These small commercial ports on Great Lakes affect everybody’s wallet,” said state Rep. Al Pscholka, R-Stevensville. “It’s 10 times cheaper to move materials on a Great Lake ship than a truck.”

Sen. Geoff Hansen, R-Hart, who sponsored the dredging bill, said the timing of the bill is crucial.

“We’re trying to get it done so it can get signed, we can get contracts out before the boating season and get started,” he said.

The dredging is needed because of historically low lake levels, especially in Lakes Michigan and Huron. The levels make waterways difficult to navigate and often leave boats stranded.

The supplemental bill included a resolution to bill the federal governments Army Corp of Engineers for the dredging, work they have historically done.

“We have to make sure we don’t let the federal government off the hook on this,” Hansen said. “We’re going to be billing them and hoping they’ll be paying us back.”

The states general fund will pay $11.5 million of the dredging cost with the rest coming from the Waterways Trust Fund, which is fueled by boating registration fees and gas taxes. Projects that had been scheduled to be done with that fund will be put off for a year to pay for the dredging.

State Rep. Sarah Roberts, D-St. Clair Shores, questioned the choices being made with any extra general fund dollars.

“We’ve got schools that don’t even have enough materials for their kids,” she said. “Now that’s a real emergency.”

Detroit Free Press


Steel production falls 8,000 tons in Great Lakes states

3/14 - Raw steel production in the country's Great Lakes region was 666,000 tons in the week ending March 9, according to estimates from the American Iron and Steel Institute.

Production was down 8,000 tons from the week prior. The majority of raw steel production in the Great Lakes region occurs in Indiana and the Chicago area.

Production in the Southern District was estimated at 619,000 tons last week, up from 632,000 tons a week earlier.

U.S. steel mills had a capacity utilization rate of 76.3 percent last week, which is down from a 77.5 percent production rate a week earlier. The capacity utilization rate at this time last year was 79.6 percent.

Domestic mills have produced about 18.2 million tons of steel this year, down 7.3 percent from the same period in 2012. Last year at this time, domestic mills produced about 19.6 million tons of steel.

The American Institute for International Steel said steel exports increased in January compared to December by 11.2 percent, according to US Government data.

“Exports increased in January compared to December on the strength of exports to our NAFTA partners in January while exports to all other regions declined on a month to month basis as international demand and prices softened in many international markets,” said David Phelps, president of AIIS.

Exports in January 2013 compared to January 2012 declined by 14.6 percent. Total steel exports in January 2013 were 1.1 million tons compared to 1.3 million tons in January 2012.

Northwest Indiana Times


CN wants to fill 24 acres of Duluth harbor for expansion

3/14 - Duluth, Minn. – Those big piles of taconite and limestone on the western Duluth waterfront along Interstate 35 could get a lot bigger. CN wants to fill 24 acres of the Twin Ports harbor to create a larger storage and loading area at the railroad’s landmark ore docks in Duluth.

The project also would add fill and sheet piling to shore up CN’s Dock 6, the easternmost of the two giant ore docks where trains haul in taconite pellets to be transferred onto Great Lakes freighters. CN says the 1918 vintage dock needs some “long-term stabilization.”

The plans, which have been submitted to the city for environmental review and public comment, call for dredged muck from the harbor and earth from shore to fill in what is now a shallow area just off-shore from where the giant piles are located. Storage capacity for taconite would nearly double to 4.4 million metric tons, while limestone capacity would increase to 850,000 metric tons.

More than 288,400 cubic yards of fill would be built up in the harbor to handle the expanded storage yard.

The original storage yard was added in 1965 and CN needs more space for limestone and to segregate taconite piles from specific plants, but mostly to handle much more taconite as new and expanded mining projects come on line in Northeastern Minnesota.

“This is a big project for us and for the future growth of not just our facility but of the mines we serve on the Iron Range,” Patrick Waldron, spokesman for CN’s U.S. operations, told the News Tribune. CN now owns and operates the railroad, loading facilities and ships that move much of Minnesota’s taconite iron ore.

Waldron said there’s no timeline for the project except that the company is ready to build when permits are approved. He said no cost estimate has been released but agreed it will be “multiple millions of dollars.”

Duluth Mayor Don Ness and David Ross, president of the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce, have written letters in support of the project, saying it will help secure the 63 jobs at the facility and noting the ore docks and movement of iron ore through Duluth are integral parts of the city’s economy and history.

But the project still has to clear several regulatory hurdles, and several agencies have expressed concern that CN is proposing to fill in precisely the kind of shallow water fish and wildlife habitat in the harbor that recent restoration efforts have tried to expand.

A coalition of regulatory agencies, conservation groups and tribal agencies have been working in recent years to restore 1,700 acres of aquatic habitat in the harbor and lower St. Louis River, a fraction of what has been lost over 150 years of industrialization along the waterfront.

The area to be filled, most of which is 4-5 feet deep and often called Half Moon Bay, is considered prime habitat for fish and other aquatic creatures, and DNR officials have said they will demand a “no net loss” policy for habitat within the St. Louis River estuary, including the harbor.

The project “essentially proposes filing Half Moon Bay in its entirety. The loss of 24 acres of existing fish and wildlife habitat would have a severe impact on (efforts to restore habitat in the bay) by taking a further step backward in the goal of 1,700 acres of restored fish and wildlife habitat,” said Richard Gitar, regulatory specialist for the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, in comments to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

In addition to the environmental assessment worksheet, the project may need up to nine different permits from the city of Duluth, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. CN says it is actively pursuing those permits.

So far, several agencies have asked for more information on possible alternatives to the large area of fill or asked for more information on how CN plans to mitigate the loss of habitat. In letters included in the EAW proposal, the PCA, DNR and EPA each said the project was unacceptable as first proposed in 2012, adding that any mitigation for the loss of habitat had to occur within the harbor area and not simply purchased for wetland “banks” in other counties.

In recent months CN has proposed paying for several proposed harbor habitat projects to offset the loss of habitat caused by its project. CN has proposed trading the 24.3 acres for wetland projects elsewhere in the harbor area, including the planned man-made island and wetland complex at the mouth of Miller Creek at 21st Avenue West.

“Whatever is taken as far as the area filled will be replaced and then some,” Waldron said. “The habitat we create will be equal to or greater than what is lost.”

Duluth News Tribune


Engineering society confers “landmark” status on Badger

3/14 - Presently the last coal-fired steamship in operation on the Great Lakes, the carferry Badger has been honored, among many organizations, by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers as a “Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark.” The citation reads:

The two 3,500-HP steeple compound unaflow steam engines powering SS Badger represent one of the last types of reciprocating marine steam engines. Built by the Skinner Engine Company, most unaflow engines are single expansion. These feature tandem high-and-low-pressure cylinders separated by a common head. The Badger’s four Foster-Wheeler Type D marine boilers, which supply 470-psi steam to the engines are among the last coal-fired marine boilers built.

In fact, it is understood that it is those boilers that are central to the difficulties with the EPS, whose dispensation is needed for the operators to dump into the lake up to 4-tons of coal-ash residue from the average 55-tons of coal they burn over the two lake crossings every day; surely not an insurmountable problem. Perhaps exhaust soot emission more of one.

Compound engines – engines with more than one expansion stage for the steam – were developed to take advantage of higher efficiency, higher pressure boilers. In the design used on the Badger, there are two expansion stages through two cylinders using a single piston rod. The high pressure cylinder with a 22.5 inch diameter piston is mounted directly above a low pressure cylinder with a 55 inch diameter piston, giving the arrangement the appearance of a church steeple, hence, ‘Steeple’ design. The two pistons are rigidly attached to a single piston rod that completes a 26-inch stroke in each cycle.

The Badger power plant includes four coal-fired marine boilers manufactured by the Foster-Wheeler Company. Each boiler has a total heating surface area of 7675 square feet. The boiler systems include Foster-Wheeler economizers which pre-heat the water going into the boiler using exhaust gasses from the burning of the coal, and Foster-Wheeler superheaters which superheat the steam coming out of the boiler.

The boilers are rated at 500 psi and tested to 750 psi. They normally operate at around 470 psi. Superheated steam at 750°F and 470 psi is supplied to the engines at a rate of 29,500 lb/hr. The boilers can supply up to 44,000 lb/hr.

Coal is burned in the boilers, and combustion requires both induced draft and forced draft using mechanical stokers manufactured by the Hoffman Combustion Engineering Company, and here can be seen one of the few places where modern control technology has been added. Electronic controls have replaced vacuum tube controls to monitor steam pressure in the boiler and control the flow of coal to the boilers through the stokers.

The boilers actually provide more steam than is required by the engines. Only three boilers are needed to power the vessel; the fourth is on standby and is fired only to replace a boiler down for repairs.

In an understatement, ASME observed that the power plant in SS Badger is a fine example of a well-designed mechanical system using an energy source not normally used any longer.

Maritime Propulsion


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.

1964: MARIA G.L. went aground at Suno Saki, Japan, about 30 miles south of Yokohama, in fog. This Liberty ship had been a Great Lakes trader in 1961. It was enroute from Long Beach, California, to Chiba, Japan, with a cargo of phophates and broke in two as a total loss.

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.


Cement trade off to a strong start

3/13 - The tug Samuel de Champlain and barge Innovation were assisted through the Straits of Mackinac Tuesday afternoon. They were eastbound from their lay-up dock in Milwaukee, heading to Alpena to load cement. USCG Katmai Bay escorted the tug and barge.

The Alpena made her first trip into Milwaukee early Tuesday morning. She was outbound for the lake by late afternoon, heading for S. Chicago to unload the rest of her cargo.

Fred Stone and Chris G.


Icebreaking operations scheduled for northern Georgian Bay

3/13 - Sarnia, Ont. – The Canadian Coast Guard Ship Samuel Risley and the United States Coast Guard cutter Katmai Bay will clear a passage through the ice of northern Georgian Bay this week to facilitate the safe transit of a commercial ship.

The ships will transit through the main channel from Lake Huron into Georgian Bay, through the North Channel to enter McGregor Bay. Any ice on this route should be considered unsafe and the Coast Guard advises everyone to stay clear. New fallen snow can quickly cover icebreaker tracks resulting in a well-camouflaged and dangerous open water area. Tracks can remain open long after the ships have departed the area.

The Canadian and United States Coast guards work in full co-operation on the Great Lakes and Georgian Bay. For more information about the Canadian Coast Guard’s Icebreaking program click here


Seaway salties renamed

3/13 - Some familiar salties, all of which visited the Great Lakes/Seaway system at least once in their careers, have been renamed. Se Verdigris, which is better known to some as the Marion Green and BBC Malaysia, has been renamed Hr Marion of Liberian registry. Se Virdian, better known as Maria Green and BBC India, was renamed Hr Maria also of Liberian flag. Makiri Green, which at one time sailed as the Sloman Server before reverting back to Makiri Green, now sails as the Clipper Makiri of the Bahamas flag. Spar Opal, which visited the Great Lakes/Seaway system under that name along with Lake Shidaka, Consenus Manitou and Federal Matane, has been renamed again. She also had two renames after Spar Opal becoming the African Challenger and Pangorgo. Her latest rename now finds her sailing as the Arwad Princess of Belize flag. Hr Margaretha, known by some as the Se Verdant along with her original name of Margaretha Green, has been renamed. She has had six renames from her original name of Margaretha Green. At one time she sailed as the Coral Green, Nirint Voyager, Margaretha Green and Newpac Cumulus before being renamed Margaretha Green again. Her latest rename now finds the vessel sailing as the Hr Margaretha of Liberian registry.

Denny Dushane


Preliminary reports suggest petroleum coke being stored safely near Detroit River

3/13 - Windsor, Ont. – According to Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality, piles of petroleum coke on the banks of the Detroit River are being stored appropriately and may not pose a risk to the environment. Representatives from MDEQ — including air and water quality experts — visited the site Friday, and found no immediate signs of environmental harm.

“Site operators put down a two-inch thick asphalt pad underneath the material and graded it away from the river,” said MDEQ spokesperson Brad Wurfel. “And air quality staff did not notice any problem with fugitive dust.”

Wurfel did stress that such observations are preliminary, and that MDEQ staff would continue to investigate before releasing a final report.

“This is one walk-through, a preliminary look and we’re not done there by any means,” he said.

Environmental activists in Windsor said they would wait for more information before deciding how to proceed.

“We were expecting this reaction: that everything’s fine,” said Pat Noonan, one of the organizers of last Saturday’s protest against the coke piles. “I’m not a scientist, but I’m not blind,” she said. “It’s so open and visible. It can’t be harmless.”

Noonan called the piles a “very public and very scary” reminder that the environmental impacts of the oil sands reach far beyond Alberta. The coke is a by-product of oil sands production and is being processed at Michigan’s Marathon Refinery.

“The tar sands are the monster,” she said. “And here we are getting it shipped right across the river. We’re seeing the effects of the tar sands right here in Windsor.”

Wurfel said that while his agency is concerned about the petroleum coke, they cannot act until it’s shown to be causing environmental harm.

“Until there’s some demonstrable level of impact, there’s nothing for us to enforce,” he said.

The first petroleum coke pile is nearly four storeys in height, and a second pile has appeared just west of the Ambassador Bridge. Wurfel says the material appears to be stored on properties owned by the Bridge Company, but operated by a firm called Detroit Bulk Storage.

“There’s still some confusion over who is in charge,” he said.

Metro Windsor


Updates -  March 13

Historical Perspectives Gallery updated - New pictures in the George M. Carl and Ben W. Calvin galleries


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 four 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.


Channel to open between St. Ignace and Mackinac Island

3/12 - Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. – The waters between St. Ignace and Mackinac Island will open at 2 p.m. Thursday. Each year the waters are closed to allow an ice bridge to form.


Great Lakes Shipyard completes winter work on Alpena

3/12 - Cleveland, Ohio – Inland Lakes Management’s steamer Alpena recently departed Great Lakes Shipyard upon completion of the vessel’s winter work projects. The shipyard performed a variety of jobs that included basic repairs and other general maintenance items.

The Alpena is the second of three lakers to complete winter work at Great Lakes Shipyard this season. Interlake Steamship Company’s tug Dorothy Ann and barge Pathfinder was the first, departing last weekend, and American Steamship Company’s American Courage is currently wrapping up its seasonal projects.

For more information visit


First boat leaves Bay Shipbuilding

3/12 - The tug Samuel de Champlain left Bay Shipbulding March 8 for a trial run after being at Bayship all winter for repairs due to a fire in the engine room last fall. She headed to Milwaukee to hook up with her barge, Innovation.

Fleetmate G.L. Ostrander and barge Integrity were inbound at Milwaukee the morning of March 11.

Jim Conlon and Tom Hynes


Finding Lake Michigan’s sunken treasure ship Westmoreland

3/12 - Benzonia, Mich. – On Dec. 7, 1854, the passenger ship Westmoreland caught in a fierce winter storm, foundered in deep waters off South Manitou Island and sank to the bottom of Lake Michigan. Seventeen crewmembers and passengers were lost that day, while another 17 survived, reaching the shore of Platte Bay in lifeboats.

Among them were the ship’s captain and first mate. Shortly thereafter, rumors began circulating about the ship’s cargo, said to have included 280 barrels of whiskey and $10,000 in gold coins – at that time, quite a fortune. For over a century, treasure hunters and divers have launched expeditions from Betsie Bay, attempting to discover the ship and her treasure.

At 4 p.m. on Thursday, March 14, the Benzie Area Historical Museum will host Ross Richardson, who, after many years of searching, found the wreck of the Westmoreland on July 7, 2010. Richardson has extensively researched the legend and history surrounding the ship as well as his predecessors’ efforts to find it, and will illustrate his talk with underwater video.

Richardson is a Lake Ann real estate agent and a certified SCUBA diver, public safety diver and special deputy with the Benzie County Sheriff’s Department. He has identified and documented many shipwrecks, but admits to having been surprised when, on that day in July, his sonar revealed something unusual in the waters off the Sleeping Bear Dunes – something that should not have been there.

Returning three days later with his brother, Richardson found his reward: at about 200 feet beneath the water, and partly hidden by the topography, was the ghostly passenger ship, parts of its structure rising 30 feet above the sand. The lake had preserved the steamer well.

“I was pretty stunned,” he said. “I’d been researching it for a decade and couldn’t believe that I had found it. The ship had been built in 1853, and was an example of great craftsmanship – very elegant and ornate.

“According to the story, once the captain made it to shore, he stopped off in Glen Arbor and then hiked to Grand Haven,” said Richardson. “From there, he took a stage coach to Buffalo. After that he can’t be traced. Apparently, he was part owner of the ship and lost a lot of money when it went down. It was the first mate who started the rumors of the treasure. The whole thing adds up to a great story.”

Richardson said that the Westmoreland was probably the best-preserved shipwreck from the 1850s on the planet, due to fact that it rests in fresh water and is protected from underwater currents.

“I never felt any current at the wreck site when I was down there,” he said. “The ship is resting in a hole and the underwater geography has protected it. The water is so clear that visibility is good – even at that depth there is enough ambient light to be able to see everything on the deck.

“It’s an ‘artifact heavy’ wreck – there’s a lot of china and other things down there,” he said, “but I have gone over every inch of that ship and have not found the rumored gold and whiskey.

“Searching for anything below the deck is like looking for a box in a large factory with the lights off. It’s possible that the whiskey was stored in the bilge level, but the deck has collapsed and the risk level in searching for it is too high.”

Richardson has not released the coordinates for the ship’s location, wanting to keep the site protected. By law, the wreck and everything on it now belongs to the state.

“Divers used to be trophy hunters,” he explained. “They’d go down and bring up some artifact – a piece of china or some such thing, and while I wouldn’t be opposed to bringing some things up for museums, I’m glad that we can now take videos of our finds. They are today’s trophies.”

Richardson has been described as a “passionate and knowledgeable” speaker. He has given presentations at many venues in the Great Lakes region, including Ann Arbor, Milwaukee, South Haven, Traverse City, Sault Ste. Marie and others. He has worked with David Trotter and with Clive Cussler’s National Underwater and Marine Agency (NUMA) Team, and has served on the board of directors of the Michigan Shipwreck Research Associates for nearly a decade.

Richardson is currently at work on a book about Michigan’s missing people, aircraft and ships. “There are over 200 open ‘missing persons’ cases in Michigan right now,” he said. Solving their mysteries and those of the more than 50 as yet undiscovered shipwrecks he believes lie beneath Michigan’s waters is all part of what this intrepid explorer and author calls “a way I can help the community and provide a service.”

Contact Richardson or learn more about his work and presentations at His book, “The Search for the Westmoreland, Lake Michigan’s Treasure Ship” (Arbutus Press), is available on his website and at local bookstores. The upcoming presentation is part of the Benzonia Academy Lecture Series.

Grand Traverse Insider


Updates -  March 12

Weekly Website Updates
Calendar of Events updated please send along any events you think should be included.


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 crewmember 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 nine 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: LETITIA was the 96th and final addition to the British flag Donaldson Line. It made four trips through the Seaway in 1966 and three 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-flagged 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, Skip Gillham, the Father Dowling Collection, “Ahoy & Farewell II” and the “Great Lakes Ships We Remember” series


Alpena loads in namesake port

3/11 - Alpena, Mich. The steamer Alpena opened up the shipping season in its namesake port on Sunday morning, tying up under the silos at Lafarge to load cement that will be delivered to South Chicago, Ill. Alpena was outbound in the bay at noon, blending right in with the gray and gloomy conditions outside.

The Alpena reached the Straits of Mackinac Sunday night and stopped in the ice just West of Mackinac Island. They will be assisted through the ice Monday morning.

Ben & Chanda McClain


Mackinaw set to begin icebreaking

3/11 - The clock is ticking toward the March 25 opening of the Soo Locks, and with this weekend’s renewal of Daylight Saving Time the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Mackinaw springs forward into preparations for icebreaking season.

The readiness actually began some time ago. The cutter has been in a “Charlie” maintenance period to have various work tasks performed and ready the ship for service. Next on the operations schedule will likely be work in the St. Marys River, preparing and grooming tracks for shipping.

Then the Mac usually heads through the Soo Locks and performs icebreaking duties in Whitefish Bay to prepare for vessels transiting Lake Superior. Harbor ice also has been on the Mac’s list at various Lake Michigan and Lake Huron ports.

Coast Guard Sector Sault Ste. Marie issued a warning Thursday that warmer temperatures this week and the upcoming weekend will greatly increase the possibility of weakened ice in the area.

The recent trend and prediction of warmer temperatures has caused extremely hazardous ice conditions throughout northern Michigan, including Marquette Harbor, Munising Bay, the Straits of Mackinac and surrounding bodies of water.

The Coast Guard warns of the possibility of ice breaking apart with people ice fishing and transiting on the ice.

“Ice conditions throughout the Straits of Mackinac will rapidly deteriorate with the warmer temperatures the region is experiencing,” said Senior Chief Petty Officer Michael Beatty, officer-in-charge of Coast Guard Station St Ignace, Mich. “With the prediction of warmer temperatures over the next several days, there is a concern that people will be at risk for falling through the ice.”

In a news release, the Coast Guard warned sportsmen to never venture out on the ice alone, and to take proper precautions before heading out on the water or the ice.

Cheboygan Tribune


West Michigan dredging projects planned for this year

3/11 - Muskegon, Mich. – A number of Great Lakes harbors in West Michigan will be dredged this year as they face record-low water levels in the region.

The Muskegon Chronicle reports the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced it has contracted with King Co. of Holland to perform more than $1 million in annual maintenance dredging of commercial harbors in Muskegon, Grand Haven and Holland.

The Muskegon and Grand Haven projects are to begin in April. The Holland project is to being in early May. Dredging also is planned in Manistee.

Other dredging projects are expected. The Kalamazoo Gazette reports dredging of two South Haven marinas is set to begin in April. The South Haven City Council approved a bid Monday for the project. That works is expected to be completed by early May.

Associated Press


Updates -  March 11

Weekly Website Updates
News Photo Gallery


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.


Alpena heads for namesake port to open lower lakes

3/10 - The steamer Alpena departed her winter lay-up berth in Cleveland shortly after midnight Saturday, avoiding departing on Friday which is considered bad luck. Alpena was the first vessel to depart lay-up on the lower lakes; she passed through the Detroit and St. Clair rivers Saturday afternoon, heading to load cement at her namesake port.


Obituary - Doug Mackie

3/10 - Doug Mackie (1946-2013) passed away in St. Catharines on March 6. He was very interested in the history of Port Dalhousie where he lived most of his life. On retirement from the St. Catharines Standard, where his responsibilities included their Stonehouse Publications, he developed River Bank Traders. This was used publish a number of books including the original The Ships of Collingwood, The Ships of Port Weller, Seaway Era Shipwrecks and others. For a time he also maintained the website About The Lakes.


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.


Groups face daunting task of saving historic J.B. Ford

3/9 - Alpena, Mich. – The 110-year-old J.B. Ford, the only remaining vessel of the W.A. Hawgood Fleet, could be facing the scrapyard in six months. This piece of maritime history last operated in 1985, and has since been used for cement storage at Lafarge North America in Superior, Wis., where she awaits her fate to this day.

The Great Lakes Steamship Society hopes to keep the Ford from the scrapyard. Society President Steven Haverty, along with other maritime historians and preservationists, want to buy the Ford and turn her into an interactive museum, forever preserving this rare and resilient ship for future generations.

"The more people that know about it, the better our chances are of saving the Ford," Haverty said.

Alpena is the hopeful destination of the Ford, since she was primarily home ported here, but before she can be restored, the GLSS must own the ship.

"This is a huge undertaking," Haverty said. "We are trying to gain support, donations, and funding from anywhere available, but restoring a ship of this size is costly. Dozens of people have offered to help restore the ship, but the first hurdle is actually obtaining it from Lafarge. The outpouring of community support is amazing, I just hope people don't drop the ball and forget about the Ford."

The most prominent problem surrounding the Ford is the environmental hazard the ship currently poses. Lafarge is willing to sell her, but she needs to be approved for sale by the marine group in Washington because of asbestos and lead paint still remaining all over the ship.

"Lafarge is responsible for the asbestos and lead paint being disposed of properly," Mark Thomas, Lafarge marine manager, said. "If we donate it, the money for the proper hazard disposal would have to be provided within six months by whoever purchased it. Even though Lafarge would sell or donate the ship, they are grandfathered with it until the asbestos is properly disposed of."

Thomas said the cost of this task will be enormously high.

If the Ford is approved for sale by the marine division, Lafarge can donate it to whomever has the money for the hazards removal. Thomas hinted that there are two parties besides the GLSS interested in the Ford, and one of them intends to sink the ship and use it as a diving exploration site.

The Ford was built in 1903 for the Commonwealth Steamship Fleet, one of the W.A. Hawgood Fleets. Originally named the Edwin F. Holmes, the Ford delivered iron ore with a 1,500 hp triple-expansion steam engine, fed by two coal-fired marine boilers.

She survived the "Mataafa Storm" of November 1905, and later the Great Storm of 1913 while sailing on Lake Superior. During the storm Lake Huron wind gusts reached 90 mph and the Holmes was hit by a wave over 70 feet high, which caused damage to the pilot house. This storm is remembered as the worst natural disaster in the history of the Great Lakes, claiming 12 ships without survivors, and running another 32 aground, taking 235 lives, 178 in Lake Huron, and three dozen more ashore.

The Holmes was sold to Pittsburgh Steamship Company and renamed the E.C. Collins. The Collins served the steelmaker into WWII. In 1944, as the result of an incident between the Pittsburgh and Kinsman fleet, the Collins was given to the Steinbrenner family's Kinsman fleet where she carried grain.

In 1956, the Collins was sold to the Huron Portland Cement Company and converted to a self-unloading cement carrier and was renamed J.B. Ford in 1959. She was converted from coal to oil firing boilers, and hauled cement from the Huron Portland Cement plant for over 25 years.

In 1987, Huron Cement was sold to Lafarge and Inland Lakes Transportation managed the fleet. The J.B. Ford never sailed again.

The Alpena News


Ice-block island an unusual sight off Northern Michigan coast

3/9 - Emmet County, Mich. – An island has sprung up off the coast of Lake Michigan and this one isn't made of dirt. "It was just a bunch of blocks piled on top of each other and they were welded together with the wind and snow," Outdoor enthusiast Josh Baker explained.

Over the weekend, Baker and his family stumbled across this giant island floating in Lake Michigan outside of the small town of Good Hart.

Sunday, he decided to climb the jagged, 15-foot ice mountain. Once he made it to the top, he noticed the structure was different on the other side.

"The side facing the lake was almost sheer, it was pretty neat. So the side I was on was all jumbled and the opposite side was just sheer down to the water," Baker said.

Good Hart General Store Owner Jim Sutherland says this sight is not a new one, but he says it has been many years since he has seen one this big. "This year we have been fortunate enough to have cold weather, lots of wind, and combined it builds ice into ice caves, ice mountains," Sutherland said.

He says mother nature has probably been building this ice island for around 6 to 8 weeks.

"The wind combined with the movement of water, vertically and horizontally, a whole motion of the lake as it moves towards the mountains of ice," Sutherland explained.

That mountain of ice left Josh Baker with a camera full of memories and a unique sight to share with northern Michigan.

"I've never seen anything that concentrated. You will see blocks stacked against one another on the shoreline but this was so tall, so huge," Sutherland said.


Donations sought for Port Huron memorial bench for Lady Pirate

3/9 - A special bank account has been opened to manage donations for a memorial bench designated to the honor the late Boatnerd Violet Mae Bostwick (aka) "Lady Pirate," who passed away earlier this year. The bench will be constructed and located along the St. Clair River close to the Boatnerd World Headquarters and a part of the new River Walk construction project. The bench will be located at the main entrance to Rotary Park, just south of the current Great Lakes Maritime Center. A short tribute and a depiction of her favorite boat, the George A. Stinson, will be included with the custom construction.

Andy Severson has stepped forward to manage the fund. Donation checks must be made out to "Andy Severson". Please include on the check memo Violet's Bench. All donations will be appreciated. The completed cost has been estimated at approximately $3,000 and will be of the same design planned for the upcoming River Walk final approved architects design.

Mail Donations to:
Andrew Severson
22712 Detour
St. Clair Shores, MI 48082-2425


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 upbound 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 was 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.


Icebreaking scheduled for Alpena

3/8 - Alpena, Mich. – Icebreaking operations will be conducted in Alpena harbor near the Lafarge facility in preparation for the arrival of the steamer Alpena, which is due to come out of layup in Cleveland. These operations are scheduled to begin on Monday morning.


Seasonal shut down at Sifto

3/8 - Goderich, Ont. – Sifto Salt Mine will be shutting down for the remainder of the winter, putting 174 out of work for the next month.

A seasonal shutdown is expected to start March 7 and last until early April said Peggy Landon, Compass Minerals Director of Communications. A total of 171 production workers and three maintenance workers will be affected by the shutdown. However, Landon said there will be maintenance work performed at the mine during the shutdown time.

“It is just our usual winter hiatus,” Landon said, noting deteriorating sailing conditions brought about the end of Sifto’s winter boat program. “We’ve had no difficulty up until now, but this time of year, it does become difficult to navigate.”

Goderich Signal Star


Port Reports -  March 8

South Chicago, Ill. - Lou Gerard
Wednesday the outbound Algocanada met the inbound Algoeast. Both vessels visited Kinder Morgan. The tug Massachusetts assisted Algoeast and the G tug Arizona was working the stern for both moves.


Shrinking ice worries Great Lakes scientists

3/8 - Aboard The Bristol Bay – The crew of the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Bristol Bay has battled pretty much everything the Great Lakes can think up – 14-foot swells that left even experienced guardsmen heaving in the head, stranded animals that floated too far out, barges stuck in shallow shores. The one thing they don't see as much of – at least not anymore – is ice.

One of the Detroit-based crew's primary responsibilities is ice breaking during the winter, clearing Great Lakes waterways of ice buildup so cargo ships can pass through. Last year, the Bristol Bay didn't get called out a single time. Though they've gone out several times this season, the number of missions are nowhere near what guardsmen from decades ago faced.

Why? Great Lakes ice is shrinking.

Ice cover has decreased nearly 70% on the five Great Lakes since the early 1970s, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The five Great Lakes hold 20% of the world's fresh water and have more than 11,000 miles of shoreline. Every one of the lakes has endured the winter meltdown:

Lake Ontario saw the most dramatic decrease with an 88% drop in ice coverage. Lake Superior lost 76% of its ice. Lake Michigan saw a decrease of 77%. Lake Huron's ice has decreased 62%. Lake Erie, the shallowest of the lakes and therefore the first to freeze every year, lost half of its ice cover. Scientists blame global warming. Hotter days mean warmer water.

But in the case of Lake Superior, which has seen a water-temperature increase of 4 degrees in the past 25 years, the water is warming faster than the air, according to research by the Large Lakes Observatory at the University of Minnesota-Duluth.

"When you step back and look at what's happening in the Arctic and with the Greenland ice sheet, you realize it's not just the Great Lakes," said George Leshkevich of NOAA's Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory. "It's happening globally."

The data is incomplete yet for this winter. "You'll have ups and downs," Leshkevich said. "Some years you'll have more ice coverage, and some years you'll have less. But the trend line is going down. And there are a number of potential impacts of that."

Great Lakes water levels have dropped to record lows in the past two years. While several factors affect water levels, the low levels are caused in part by a lack of ice cover during the winter.

Without adequate ice, more water evaporates, Leshkevich said. At the same time, the atmosphere picks up more water and turns it into massive lake-effect snowstorms that carry Great Lakes water elsewhere. Low water levels create their own set of problems, not the least of which is the effect on shipping. Cargo carriers aren't able to transport as much as they used to, said Glen Nekvasil, vice president of the Lake Carriers Association. Many companies are shedding 10,000 tons or more of cargo.

Some types of fish, including whitefish and yellow perch, spawn in shallow waters and rely on ice cover to protect their eggs. Less ice means a greater threat to reproduction. A long-term drop in the fish population would also affect the Great Lakes fishing, a $4 billion industry.

Adequate ice cover is crucial to killing off some invasive species and slowing their growth. When ice fails to develop, allowing waters to retain more heat than normal, certain species — most notably, zebra mussels — are able to thrive more easily. Rising water temperatures also spur algae blooms. Algae can suck the oxygen from water, threatening fish and other aquatic species.

A thick, solid cover of ice provides a barrier between the lakes and the shoreline. Without that protection, shores and fragile wetlands take a beating from wind and waves year-round.

USA Today Canada provides over $ 695,000 to preserve museum ship Sackville Halifax, N.S. – Peter Mackay, Canadian defense minister, Sunday announced its support of over $ 695000 to the royal Canadian navy to preserve the giant vessel, HMC Sackville, which is part of the Maritime Museum of Atlantic.

Hailing the Canadian navy group who sailed on corvettes like Sackville during the Second World War, the minister said that it is important to preserve the vessel for the benefit of future generations. The vessel museum is being used to educate the public about the past and honor the achievements of the Canadian Navy during war times.

"HMCS Sackville is a witness to our past and reminds us of our Navy's accomplishments during the Battle of the Atlantic," said Minister MacKay in a press release.

"Canadians can be proud of our Navy's rich heritage and our contribution to preserve the vessel for the benefit of future generations," said Mackay.

Paul Maddison, Commander Royal Canadian Navy acknowledged the offer.

"The young men who sailed in the North Atlantic on corvettes like Sackville proved critical to victory in the Battle of the Atlantic, which was the key campaign of the Second World War," said Maddison. "I am extremely pleased that the Government of Canada is contributing to the Canadian Naval Memorial Project."

The Canadian Naval Memorial Trust preserves the class of 264 corvettes that were used during the Atlantic war in the Second World War, as a Naval Memorial and museum. According to the press release, the Naval Memorial and museum provides professional interpretation of the ship within the larger scope of the Royal Canadian Navy's own history. The museum is located in Halifax, the capital city of Canadian province Nova Scotia.

International Business Times


Fish tug to be auctioned off

3/8 - The State of Michigan is auctioning off a 1948 Marinette Marine gill net tug abandoned in Grand Marais, Michigan. Click here to view auction page


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


Coast Guard plans spring break out

3/7 -
Twin Ports

The United States Coast Guard will start breaking ice in the ports of Duluth, Minn. and Superior, Wis. beginning March 11 in preparation for the 2013 shipping season.

The U.S. Coast Guard cutters Alder, Mackinaw and Biscayne Bay will commence icebreaking operations in the waters of the Duluth Harbor out to Lake Superior. This will include ice covered areas normally used by recreational users such as but not limited to Superior Front Channel, Superior and Duluth Harbor Basins, East Gate, the entry channels into Duluth and Superior Harbor and the ice in Lake Superior adjacent to Minnesota Point.

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

Green Bay
U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Mobile Bay will be conducting icebreaking operations in Green Bay commencing Monday morning March 11. U.S. CGC 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 after March 15 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.

St. Marys River
The United States Coast Guard has started breaking ice in the lower St Marys River in preparation for the 2013 shipping season. Beginning next week, icebreaking operations will extend from Whitefish Bay to Detour.

On March 14, the USCGC Mackinaw, USCGC Biscayne Bay and CCGS Samuel Risley will lock through to the upper St Marys River. Mackinaw and Biscayne Bay will make their way to Duluth/Superior to assist CGC Alder with the break out there. CCGS Samuel Risley will make its way to Thunder Bay, Ontario, to initiate the break out.

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 March 15 and will open the entire West Neebish Channel (above the Neebish Island ferry crossing) March 23. U.S. Coast Guard officials are working with EUPTA officials to ensure the ferries are able to operate throughout the break out process.


Shell aims to fuel Great Lakes freighters with liquefied natural gas

3/7 - Sarnia, Ont. – Royal Dutch Shell PLC hopes to pump natural gas into Great Lakes freighters, as it seeks new ways to lift demand for a struggling commodity.

Shell on Monday unveiled plans to build a small liquefied natural gas plant in Sarnia, Ont., to provide fuel to marine traffic, as well as trucks and trains. Another new plant is planned for Geismar, La., which will serve ships sailing the Gulf of Mexico and the Intracoastal Waterway, along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts of the United States.

The new plants are part of a growing energy industry push to make natural gas into a transportation fuel. Construction is already under way at a similar small Shell liquefaction plant west of Calgary, while a Flying J truck stop in the city opened for LNG refuelling on Friday. The Alberta LNG plant will be complete early next year; the two marine-focused facilities will take three years.

“You really need to start building infrastructure so people have confidence and make that switch,” said James Burns, general manager of LNG in Shell’s Transport Americas group.

What Shell and others are proposing is, Mr. Burns said, a “game-changing event” for a transportation industry that has spent decades deeply dependent on diesel.

The three plants each have a planned capacity of 250,000 tonnes per year. They are far smaller than the 12-million tonne LNG export plant that Shell and several partners have proposed for the Canadian West Coast. But they will produce 1.5 million litres of LNG per day, enough to fuel 5,000 trucks or a good percentage of the Great Lakes fleet where, depending on size, ships consume between 7,500 and 38,000 litres daily.

Sarnia is an important refuelling hub on the Great Lakes, where some 65 U.S.-flagged and 80 Canadian-flagged ships regularly do business. Most of the U.S. vessels are too big to move through the St. Lawrence Seaway, meaning they are essentially a captive fleet on the lakes – an ideal place for Shell to offer a new type of fuel.

Shell said it expects Ohio-based Interlake Steamship Co., which runs 10 vessels, to be its first marine customer. Interlake executives were not available for comment Monday. But Brigitte Hébert, a spokeswoman with Montreal-based CSL Group Inc., said: “CSL is investigating all forms of clean, efficient marine propulsion, including natural gas powered ships. An LNG fuelling facility on the Great Lakes is seen by CSL as a positive step.”

The Great Lakes shipping industry that has struggled in tough economic times. The last new U.S. Great Lakes vessel was built in 1981; the oldest still in service has sailed for more than a century: It was built in 1906.

With no new ships coming, Great Lakes carriers must convert existing vessels, at a cost of $15-million to $25-million, said Glen Nekvasil, vice-president of the Ohio-based Lake Carriers’ Association.

Shell said that a litre of diesel will cost roughly 30 per cent less than diesel, and noted that new rules will force upgrades to marine emissions systems in coming years. But ship owners must decide whether they believe natural gas will stay inexpensive. “It’s a decision that is not made lightly,” Mr. Nekvasil said.

There are other obstacles, too, including rules and regulations about LNG refuelling. Authorities “have to really make fit-for-purpose permits and standards,” said Shell’s Mr. Burns.

The St. Lawrence Seaway has never seen an LNG-fuelled ship. But seaway management said there is no reason it can’t happen.

“LNG as a fuel is no more of a risk than any of the conventional fuels,” said spokesman Andrew Bogora. “LNG is certainly becoming a more important fuel source, and the economic argument for LNG is certainly one that shippers are taking note of.”

The Globe and Mail


Black powder on Detroit River dock worries waterfront residents

3/7 - Windsor, Ont. – It started out as a blemish on the Detroit riverfront, but during the past several weeks it has mushroomed into a massive black mound.

The pile of what was first thought to be coal has triggered environmental concerns on this side of the river - it has reached at least four storeys in height and is a few hundred metres in length along the riverfront east of the Ambassador Bridge.

"I worry that whatever it is could have dust blowing over," said Ruth Germain, who lives downwind in Portofino condominiums on Riverside Drive. "I worry that it's a health issue - for the air and the water." Germain says a film of black dust routinely settles on her condo's patio, "but since they have been putting that stuff there, it's become much worse. Whatever it is cannot be healthy."

The property where the black pile is located is owned by Michigan billionaire businessman and Ambassador Bridge owner Matty Moroun. But bridge company president Dan Stamper said the property - purchased around 2005 - is leased by a railway company and its affiliates.

"It's not us," Stamper said. "There are others with a lease on the property and we are not sure they are allowed to do what they are doing. We have our real estate folks looking into it. We are asking what are they doing - and under what authority are they doing it?"

Several phone calls by The Star and a visit to the site Tuesday determined the mystery mound of black material is a petroleum coke product filtered out of crude oil by nearby Marathon Oil refinery. It is a black powder which can be resold for other uses, said Brandon Daniels, spokesman for Marathon Oil. "A third party has been purchasing coke from our facility and I believe has been stockpiling it there," he said. "Once it has left our facility, I cannot confirm the customer's plans or intended use for the product. That's their prerogative."

The coke is not toxic, he said. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality said it was not aware of the massive black pile until this week, but confirmed Tuesday it is not necessarily a dangerous material.

"It can be sold as it does have a combustion value to someone," said Andy Hartz, southeast Michigan district coordinator for MDEQ. "Its storage is not something that requires a permit from us. It is listed as a non-hazardous substance by the federal government." But the coke product is subject to any (blowing) dust regulations and controls to prevent run-off into the river, he said.

"If there is a physical discharge into the river we will follow up," Hartz said. "If there are dust issues that exceed (regulatory) limits, that is something we would engage them on."

The company on the Detroit riverfront storing the coke product is Transflo - a division of CSX railway. A lone secretary inside a small office said Tuesday her boss was out of town and not available. There have long been past problems with storing coal piles on the Detroit riverfront, largely by U.S. Steel, said Derek Coronado of the Citizens Environment Alliance in Windsor.

"When you industrialize the waterfront this is the kind of craziness you get," he said. "It's a crazy thing to store something like this right out in the open and so close to the water.

"In terms of visual impact, it's quite stunning. The river in that location is not that wide. The narrowest point of the river is at the Ambassador Bridge. There is a potential for a transboundary (pollution) issue." Coronado said the dismal financial state of the City of Detroit means it cannot properly monitor industrial sites or deal with environmental violations.

"That you have something like this with a potential of creating environmental issues happening right in plain sight is not the way it's supposed to work," he said. "With Detroit spiraling down financially, it seems to be a free-for-all. Unless the state (government) steps up on something like this, I don't see who else would over there."

MP Brian Masse (NDP - Windsor West) said a Windsor resident has filed a complaint with Environment Canada. Anyone on this side of the river concerned about the pile is urged to contact his office and they will be steered in the proper direction, Masse said.

Masse has also contacted the International Joint Commission which is responsible for protecting the Detroit River. He said property owner Moroun should ultimately be held responsible.

"If he is leasing out the property in such a manner where this is going to continue, hopefully he would address it responsibly," he said. "Otherwise, it could be yet another public relations disaster on his hands."

Windsor Star


50 years ago, Army decided to dump munitions-filled barrels in Lake Superior

3/7 - Duluth, Minn. – The 25 barrels recovered last summer from the depths of Lake Superior were dumped there 50 years ago under orders from the U.S. Army. Inside were scrapped cluster bombs — a new weapon considered top-secret by U.S. officials who didn’t want the design to fall into enemy hands at the height of the Cold War.

But exactly who floated the idea of dumping the scrap bomb parts into Lake Superior remains unclear. One thing for certain is that at least one Honeywell Corp. official at the time suggested pulverizing the scrap bomb parts using a $1,299 “hammermill” crusher and then recycling the leftover metal. In hindsight, it seems like a common-sense solution that could have saved millions of dollars in search-and-recovery efforts and years of strife.

Cluster bombs are generally hand-grenade-size explosives designed to kill people. Dropped out of an aircraft as part of a larger bomb, they separate into dozens of small bomblets covering a wide area. The bombs are controversial because they can kill noncombatants in the area. At least 77 nations have signed a treaty not to produce or use cluster bombs. The U.S. has not signed the treaty.

The bombs were made at the Twin Cities Army Ammunitions Plant by Honeywell, then based in Minneapolis, and the Army didn’t want any recognizable bomb parts to fall into the wrong hands. The Army and Honeywell tried incinerating and then “tumbling’’ the bomb parts into barrels to smash them. But neither process worked fast or well, and scrap parts were stacking up in the warehouse.

A Sept. 17, 1959, a Honeywell memo to Army officials said efforts to use tumbling barrels to smash the bomb parts wasn’t effective. But it suggested a new option, purchasing a so-called hammermill as the cheapest, most efficient way to render the bomb parts unrecognizable.

“The scrap that is available could all be salvaged in two weeks and with the present shortage of raw material this would be to everyone’s advantage," wrote a B. Brooks of Honeywell.

But the Army appeared to ignore the hammermill idea, criticizing tumbling as too expensive and slow. Instead, Honeywell was ordered to dump the barrels into Lake Superior as quickly as possible. In a Sept. 22 memo from Capt. P.R. Dean of the Army Ordinance Corps, Dean called “for the disposal of accumulated scrap at Bldg. 502 by dumping in Lake Superior with the assistance of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. This action has become necessary due to the large accumulation of scrap material and the delay in arriving at the feasibility’’ of alternatives.

A memo the next day from Dean to the Corps of Engineers office in Chicago asked for the immediate assistance of Corps personnel in Duluth to carry out the dumping. Honeywell was told it would have to pay for transportation and guards for the trucks.

The memos were discovered in the 1990s by PCA officials investigating the history of the barrels.

It may never be known why the hammermill solution wasn’t considered. But it is clear that spending $1,299 on a tumbling machine and any other associated costs would have paled in comparison to the nearly $4 million that has been spent by state and federal agencies to retrieve and test some of the barrels. And more than 1,400 barrels are still on the bottom of the lake.

Some people have suggested that Honeywell be ordered to pay for the barrel cleanup, similar to a federal Superfund declaration. But Swenson said the watery grave appears not to have been the company’s idea after all.

“Honeywell requested that this stuff be smashed up and recycled. It was the Army that ultimately said no, dump it in the lake,’’ Swenson said.

Swenson said his review of documents in the case never made it clear why Lake Superior seemed like a good idea. But he noted that the military had a history of using the big lake as a dumping ground. In 1945, as World War II came to a close, officials at the same Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant where the cluster bombs were made were ordered to dispose of 1 million pounds of special .50-caliber bullets that contained white phosphorus tips. Army officials worried that the phosphorus would degrade and become unstable, posing a fire danger. So they took the bullets out of the shell casings and shipped the 500 tons of projectiles by rail to Duluth, loaded them onto barges and dumped them in the lake.

Unlike the secret barrel dumping, the ammunition dump drew several newspaper headlines to the time, heralding the lake disposal as a safety and cost-saving measure. The bullets have never been recovered.

The barrels are back in the news because the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa pulled 25 of them out of the lake last summer in a $3.3 million project paid for by the U.S. government under a program to clean up messes left behind by the military on Indian lands.

The Red Cliff Band entered the barrel saga in 2005, when band officials said they adopted the project as a way to attract federal Indian land cleanup money to the effort. Though Red Cliff is 50 miles from the nearest known barrel dump site, the band has treaty authority to be involved in environmental and natural resource management on the lake, even in Minnesota waters where the barrels are located.

Between 1959 and 1962, an estimated 1,437 barrels were trucked from the Honeywell weapons plant in the Twin Cities to Duluth and secretly tossed off barges into Lake Superior. The 55-gallon drums were dumped roughly along a line from the eastern Duluth city limits nearly to Two Harbors, from one mile to five miles off shore.

Since 1977, when the existence of the barrels was first confirmed by the military, several attempts were made to retrieve them and check their contents. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers together spent more than $400,000 looking for and examining the barrels between 1990 and 1994.

A 1990 search recovered two barrels that contained grenade parts, concrete and even a Honeywell coffee cup — but nothing highly toxic or dangerous.

A 1993 search using high-tech sonar and video equipment mapped hundreds of the barrels, along with crates of unused ammunition and even junked vehicles and other big chunks of trash in the area a few miles off the Duluth ship canal.

The most elaborate search occurred in 1994 when a U.S. Navy deep-water robotic submarine and a team of Navy deep-sea salvage divers combined to recover seven more barrels containing scrap parts from cluster bombs and other military ordnance, along with garbage, ash and concrete.

Tests of the barrel contents also revealed trace amounts of 15 toxic chemicals — including PCBs, barium, lead, cadmium and benzene — in levels above drinking water standards but which PCA officials said were too low to be considered an environmental or human health threat or even hazardous waste. None of the chemicals was ever found in unusual levels in the nearby Duluth water supply intake. And PCB levels in lake trout have actually declined in recent years.

PCA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials eventually concluded there was no need to search for or test more barrels, and that leaving the remaining barrels rusting beneath 200 feet of water posed no major health or environmental risk. Pollution officials have said their limited staff and money would be better spent on more pressing Great Lakes issues, such as habitat loss, invasive species, mercury contamination, polluted runoff and sediment from erosion.

While some people have called for the removal of all barrels from the lake — in case some hold more-harmful contents — it’s not clear where the government would find the money to pay for it. Taxpayers spent $132,000 for each barrel Red Cliff raised last summer. At that rate, it would cost $1.8 billion to raise the remaining barrels.

Red Cliff reported late last month that it recovered 25 barrels, far fewer than the 70 it expected to recover, in late July and August. They said they scaled back their search to save money to dispose of the barrels because they found still-active explosives inside 22 of them. But Swenson said efforts in the 1990s found all of the explosives inert.

“We found the same things, those little pencil-eraser sized detonators. But they couldn’t get any of them to pop at that time. I think they even tried a blow torch on them and nothing happened,’’ Swenson said. “I’m not sure why the ones they found now would be more active. That doesn’t make sense.”

Red Cliff issued a brief statement last month, nearly six months after the barrel recovery effort. Based on what they found in the barrels the band said there is no immediate threat to human or environmental health. They reported finding the same material in the barrels this time as in 1990s recovery efforts.

“Two types of contents were discovered within the barrels; a composite material of incinerated metals was found in three of the barrels and munitions parts were found in the remaining 22,” the Band reported in a brief statement earlier this month. “All of the munitions parts recovered from these barrels were identified as ejection cup assemblies for BLU-4 cluster bomb devices.

“No levels of radiation above background were detected at any point during the fieldwork,” the statement said. “All samples were shipped to an independent, accredited laboratory and tested for a wide range of chemical constituents, including … metals, VOCs, PCBs, PAHs and asbestos. All of the analytical testing has been completed, and analysis is ongoing. Work will continue on this project through the spring and summer. Preliminary data results show no immediate cause for concern regarding the safety of water and fish consumption.”

Duluth News Tribune


Updates -  March 7

Historical Perspectives Gallery updated - New pictures in the Charles Dick gallery


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 upbound 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.


First U.S.-Flag lakers back in service; 52 more to follow

3/6 - Cleveland, Ohio – The 2013 Great Lakes shipping season began on March 2 with the sailing of the tug/barge unit Prentiss Brown/St. Marys Conquest. The vessel, operated by Port City Marine Services, departed its winter lay-up berth in Milwaukee and sailed for Charlevoix, Michigan, where it loaded 9,200 tons of cement for delivery to Chicago.

Next to get underway was the tug/barge unit Dorothy Ann/Pathfinder. The vessel, one of 10 operated by The Interlake Steamship Company, loaded about 13,000 tons of iron ore at Cleveland Bulk Terminal in Cleveland, Ohio, on March 4 for delivery to the steel mill at the end of the deep-draft section of the Cuyahoga River.

Over the next several weeks, 52 more U.S.-flag lakers will return to service and spend 10-plus months hauling the raw materials that are the foundation of the industrial heartland, primarily iron ore, limestone and coal. During the course of the season more than 1,600 American mariners will crew these vessels.

The U.S.-flag Great Lakes fleet is unique in the world in that virtually every vessel is a self-unloader, which means the ship or barge can discharge cargo without any assistance from shoreside personnel or equipment. The largest vessels can unload 70,000 tons of cargo in 12 hours or less. Prior to self-unloading, it would have taken days to empty a vessel of a cargo that size.

The self-unloading vessel was invented and perfected on the Great Lakes and is one reason waterborne commerce on the Inland Seas is so efficient. A recent study by the U.S. Maritime Administration states that on average, transportation cost savings from $10 to more than $20 per ton are associated with the use of lakers compared to the next most competitive transportation mode. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers estimates that Great Lakes shipping annually saves its customers $3.6 billion compared to the next least costly mode of transportation.

By law - the Jones Act - U.S.-flag lakers are built in the United States, crewed by American citizens and owned by American corporations. This holds the vessels to the worlds highest safety and operational standards and mandates that crews pass demanding U.S. Coast Guard exams.

The environment benefits when the Lakes fleet returns to service. Vessels use less fuel to move a ton of cargo than trains or trucks and produce significantly fewer emissions in the process. A number of lakers have been repowered in recent years with state-of-the-art engines and generators that have further reduced the industry’s carbon footprint.

Iron ore for steel production is the primary cargo moved by U.S.-flag lakers. In 2012, the fleet moved more than 45 million tons of taconite pellets. Limestone for the construction industry and steelmaking approached 22 million tons. Coal for power generation totaled more than 17 million tons. Other cargos included cement, salt, sand and grain and collectively totaled 5 million tons.

Those totals were impacted by the dredging crisis on the Great Lakes. At the end of 2012, the largest vessels were leaving more than 10,000 tons of cargo behind because of inadequate dredging and falling water levels. If the full length of the Federal navigation channel in the Cuyahoga River was dredged to its project depth, 23 feet, the Pathfinder would have been able to carry 3,200 more tons. The vessel is scheduled to shuttle ore within Cleveland Harbor for four weeks, so will forfeit approximately 77,000 tons.

There is no reason the Great Lakes Navigation System cannot be maintained to project depth. The cargos that move on the Lakes (and East, Gulf and West Coasts) are taxed and the receipts are deposited in the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF). Nationwide the tax generates about $1.6 billion per year, but the HMTF typically only spends about $750 million. The surplus, about $7 billion, is used to mask the size of the Federal deficit. As a result, more than 18 million cubic yards of sediment now clog Great Lakes ports and waterways.

Legislation that would require the HMTF to spend what it takes in for dredging on dredging has been introduced in both the House and Senate. H.R. 335 was introduced on January 22 and already has 94 co-sponsors, 17 from Great Lakes districts. S. 218 was introduced on February 4, and has 31 co-sponsors, including 12 of the 16 Great Lakes senators. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers estimates it would cost about $200 million to restore the Great Lakes Navigation System, just a fraction of the surplus amassed in the HMTF.

The next vessels to enter service will be two cement carriers on March 7. The iron ore trade out of Escanaba, Michigan, is expected to resume on March 14.

Lake Carriers' Association


Port Reports -  March 6

Cleveland, Ohio - Brad Neych
Dorothy Ann/Pathfinder left dock for the season on March 4. She loaded about 13,000 tons of iron ore at Cleveland Bulk Terminal in Cleveland for delivery to the steel mill at the end of the Cuyahoga River.


Cruise ship set to make 2 Alpena stops during summer

3/6 - Alpena, Mich. – For two days in August Alpena will play host to the visitors who are taking a Great Lakes cruise on the Travel Dynamics International cruise ship Yorktown. The 257-foot cruise ship will stop in Alpena for a half day on Aug. 2 and again on Aug. 14, and while here the guests will have a chance to get to know Alpena, as well as visit its attractions.

Target Alpena Director Jim Klarich said about 18 months ago he talked to the City of Alpena about any projects or businesses that have explored opportunities in Alpena, but for whatever reason or another it never panned out. Klarich and Harbor Master Don Gilmet began communicating with Travel Dynamics and finally a plan was set to have the boat stop in Alpena. Klarich said having the Yorktown and its passengers visit is huge for the area.

"When that ship pulls in here it is going to be a spectacle and I think it is going to be one of those things where people line the side of the river to witness it," Klarich said.

Downtown Development Authority Director Lesslee Dort said a committee has been formed to come up with ideas on how best to serve the people from the ship and to coordinate plans with an advance scout from Travel Dynamics who will help set an itinerary and a port-of-call activity list.

"The scout will determine what will be seen and what will be offered, but they will still be here and be able to see really cool things Alpena has to offer," Dort said. "I'm excited that they are going to leave and go home and talk about those things and then more visits will be planned and maybe friends or family will come."

Diana Ditto, marketing manager for Travel Dynamics, said the popularity of the Great Lakes cruises have increased over the last several years. She said the Yorktown holds about 130 passengers and one of the trips with a stop in Alpena is already sold out. She said Alpena can benefit from having the boat visiting, as well as its brand, which the tour company will use in promotional material.

Ditto said the company issues a half-million flyers around the world and Alpena will be mentioned in each. She said businesses in other coastal cities in Michigan have seen business double after the boat makes port. She said the tour company already is looking toward scheduling for 2014 and she said it is possible Alpena could be a more frequent stop on the cruise.

"We are already looking at changes for 2014 and we always make them based on the popularity. The 10-day cruises, which involve Lake Superior, are always extra popular and that one includes Alpena," Ditto said. "We have a large population of birders who take the cruise and Alpena and Presque Isle are a great area for that, as well as other outdoor activities."

The Alpena News


M/S Hamburg – ex-C. Columbus – to cruise the Great Lakes in 2014

3/6 - Plantours & Partner of Bremen have announced a new season of cruises to be operated from Montreal in the autumn of 2014. The 400-berth M/S Hamburg will offer an 18-night crossing from Hamburg to Montreal, to depart Hamburg September 8, 2014. This will be followed by two 16-night round-trip cruises from Montreal. This ship operated into the Great Lakes as Hapag-Lloyd Cruises' Columbus between 1997 and 2011.

The first cruise, scheduled for September 26, will cruise the Great Lakes as far as Lake Superior and the second, scheduled for October 12, will cruise Canada and New England as far as New York. These cruises will be followed by a 14-night voyage from Montreal to Nassau via St Lawrence and East Coast ports, departing Montreal October 28. Ports of call are laid out below for each cruise:

• September 8-26, 2014: 18-night crossing from Hamburg to Montreal via Torshavn, Reykjavik, five ports/destinations in Greenland, L’Anse aux Meadows, Saguenay, and Quebec.
• September 26-October 12, 2014: 16-night Great Lakes cruise from Montreal to Toronto, Windsor, Duluth, Thunder Bay, Sault Ste. Marie, Mackinac Island, Little Current, Kingston and return to Montreal.
• October 12-28, 2014: 16-night Canada/New England cruise from Montreal to Gaspe, Sydney, Boston, Cape Cod Canal, New York, Martha’s Vineyard, Halifax, Cape Eternity, Quebec and back to Montreal.
• October 28-November 11: 14-night cruise from Montreal to Nassau via Quebec, Halifax, Boston, New York, Charleston and Savannah.

Thereafter, she'll cover the Caribbean, South America, Australasia and Asia on the way back to the Mediterranean for 2015.


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.


100% of ships entering Seaway had ballast water tested for invasive species, group says

3/5 - The Great Lakes Ballast Water Working Group says that 100 percent of ships bound for the Great Lakes via the St. Lawrence Seaway from outside the 200-mile coastal zone last year received a ballast tank exam.

The group has just released its 2012 Summary of Great Lakes Seaway Ballast Water Management report.

A total of 6,974 ballast tanks were assessed during 386 vessel transits. Vessels that did not exchange their ballast water or flush their ballast tanks were required to either retain the ballast water and residuals on board, treat the ballast water in an environmentally sound and approved manner, or return to sea to conduct a ballast water exchange.

This is the fourth consecutive year that agencies that comprise the BWWG ensured the examination of 100 percent of ballast tanks entering the Great Lakes via the St. Lawrence Seaway.

Ballast tank exchange is being emphasized in light of the rise in potentially destructive invasive species that have arrived in the St. Lawrence River and Great Lakes, in part due to ships’ ballast water from overseas ports being released into the North American waterways.

The group’s mandate is to develop, enhance, and coordinate bi-national compliance and enforcement efforts to reduce the introduction of aquatic invasive species via ballast water and residuals. The mission of the BWWG is to harmonize ballast water management efforts among the U.S. Coast Guard, Transport Canada, the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation, and the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation.

The BWWG anticipates continued high ship compliance rates for the 2013 navigation season.

North Country Now


Great Lakes Shipyard completes winter work on Dorothy Ann and Pathfinder

3/5 - Cleveland, Ohio – Interlake Steamship Co.’s tug Dorothy Ann and barge Pathfinder departed Great Lakes Shipyard Sunday upon completion of winter work and layup. Great Lakes Shipyard performed a variety of work on the vessel, including miscellaneous steel work, generator maintenance, main drive unit maintenance and other various repairs. The company is also completing work on American Steamship Co.’s American Courage and Inland Lakes Management’s Alpena. The Alpena is expected to depart winter layup later this week.

To learn more, visit


Water levels inch up in Great Lakes but still remain far below average

3/5 - Detroit, Mich. – Water levels in Lakes Michigan and Huron edged up in February from the previous month's record lows. But they and other Great Lakes will remain far below average in the months ahead and that means continued, significant impacts to commercial shipping and recreational boating, an Army Corps of Engineers forecaster said Monday.

Some wet weather and freeze-thaw cycles that created runoff helped water levels on Lakes Michigan and Huron rise two inches in February, to 576.2 feet, said Keith Kompoltowicz, chief of watershed hydrology for the Army Corps of Engineers' Detroit District. But that's still a foot lower than historical averages, he said.

All of the Great Lakes remain below their long-term average, and all are forecast to remain that way at least over the next six months, Kompoltowicz said.

January's record low water levels were also the lowest monthly average water ever recorded for any month on the Great Lakes, with records extending back to 1918. Lakes Michigan and Huron have remained continuously below average for 14 years, Kompoltowicz said, a result of extended drought, meaning less rain and snowfall to feed the lakes, hot summers resulting in ramped-up evaporation, and less ice cover in milder winters to prevent evaporation.

"Just because we didn't set a record low in February doesn't mean significant impacts will not be felt, especially as we move into the navigation season later this month," he said.

Shallower lakes mean cargo ships must carry less to avoid damage, said Glen Nekvasil, vice president of the Ohio-based Lake Carriers' Association, representing commercial cargo carriers on the Great Lakes.

"Depending on the size of your vessel, you lose every anywhere from 50 to 270 tons of cargo for every inch of draft you lose," he said. "In many instances we're not talking inches; we're talking feet."

The Soo Locks connect Lake Superior to the lower Great Lakes at Sault Ste. Marie. Nekvasil noted that the largest coal cargo that moved through the locks last year was 64,706 tons. Back in the high-water days of 1997, a record coal cargo of 70,903 tons was set, he said.

"The water levels and the drought cost us there 6,200 tons of cargo, and that's just in one trip," he said. "Ships in that trade will make around 50 trips per year."

That's 310,000 tons of cargo, and that means money to maintain and modernize ships, and to expand the industry when markets dictate it, Nekvasil said.

"This is happening throughout the fleet," Nekvasil said. "The boats in the iron ore trade are leaving cargo behind, as are the limestone carriers."

Nekvasil called on federal authorities to release funds from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund, a federal fund created through taxes on ship cargo, to dredge deep-draft ports throughout the Great Lakes. The fund takes in about $1.6 billion per year but spends less than $800 million.

"It's being used to paper-balance the budget, to make the federal deficit look smaller," he said.

A bill by Michigan Democratic U.S. Sen. Carl Levin would require spending the funds raised in the trust fund each year. The bill has 31 co-sponsors, including 12 senators from Great Lakes states. A companion bill in the U.S. House also has 94 co-sponsors, but both bills have yet to have committee hearings, Nekvasil said.

"We're paying for this service and it's not being provided," he said. "We don't have to raise taxes or borrow money. The money is there. It just has to be spent."

Detroit Free Press


Lockheed, Austal each win orders for two coastal warships: Pentagon

3/5 - Lockheed Martin Corp and Australia's Austal have each won orders to build two more Littoral Combat Ships for the U.S. Navy, the Pentagon announced on Monday.

Lockheed won an order valued at $697 million to build two more of its steel monohull LCS ships for the Navy using fiscal 2013 funding, the Defense Department said in its daily digest of large weapons contracts. It said work on the two ships would be completed by July 2018.

The U.S. unit of Austal received a contract valued at $682 million to build two more of its aluminum-hulled, trimaran design LCS ships for the Navy, with the work slated to be finished by June 2018, the Pentagon said.



Lake Superior Marine Museum Association seeks spring cleaning volunteers

3/5 - 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 13 at the Visitor Center, 600 South Lake Ave. in Canal Park at 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. A complimentary lunch will be provided by Grandma’s Sportsgarden. If you can volunteer to help, contact LSMMA at 218-727-2497 or email


Updates -  March 5

Historical Perspectives Gallery updated - New pictures in the Charles Dick gallery


Today in Great Lakes History -  March 5

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

HARRY L. ALLEN was launched March 5, 1910, as a.) JOHN B. COWLE (Hull#379) at Lorain, Ohio by American Ship Building Co. She was declared a constructive total loss after a fire on January 21, 1978. The vessel was in winter lay-up at the Capitol elevator in Duluth when part of the elevator complex burned. Debris from the elevator fell on the boat, badly damaging it. The owners decided to scrap it rather than repair it. The ALLEN was scrapped at Duluth in 1978.

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

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

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

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 crewmembers 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


Michigan and Great Lakes continue downbound for Toledo

3/4 - Tug Michigan and barge Great Lakes arrived above Port Huron shortly before noon on Sunday. They were met by the Canadian Coast Guard ship Samuel Risley for escort through the rivers. The pair arrived off Belle Isle in the Detroit River about 6 p.m. and went to anchor in the Belle Isle Anchorage. They will continue downbound Monday for Toledo.


Port Reports -  March 4

Milwaukee, Wis. – Tom Hynes
The tug Prentiss Brown and barge St. Marys Conquest left Milwaukee Sunday headed for Charlevoix to start the new season.


New group wants higher Lake Michigan-Huron level

3/4 - Bay City, Mich. – A newly formed coalition is demanding action to raise water levels in Lakes Michigan and Huron. Restore Our Water International is an alliance of U.S. and Canadian groups worried about declining levels in the two lakes over the past 14 years. Its members represent shoreline property owners and commercial interests.

The chairman is Roger Gauthier, a retired U.S. Army Corps of Engineers hydrologist. He says dredging and mining in the St. Clair River corridor years ago reduced Lakes Michigan and Huron by at least 20 inches. He says that has combined with a warmer and drier climate to keep the levels abnormally low.

Existing law allows the government to place structures in the river to slow the flow of water out of Lake Huron. But it's never been done.



2013 S.S. Badger Gathering announced

3/4 - Plans have been completed for the annual Boatnerd Gathering aboard the S.S. Badger for a round trip from Ludington, Mich., to Manitowoc, Wis. and return on Saturday, June 1. While in Manitowoc Boatnerds will have an option to reboard the Badger for a Wisconsin Shoreline Cruise or visit the Wisconsin Maritime Museum.

Staying on board the Badger on Friday night is also an option. Friday night guests will be treated to guided tours of the pilothouse and engine room, and buffet breakfast on Saturday morning. Only 28 staterooms are available.

See the Gathering Page for all the details.


Updates -  March 4

News Photo Gallery


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 carpenters that 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 the cable snapped, dropping the hull on the dock breaking the tug’s 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.



Tug Michigan and the barge Great Lakes heading for Toledo

3/3 - Detroit, Mich. – The Coast Guard is scheduled to conduct ice-breaking operations in western Lake Erie and the Maumee Bay Channel, Monday.

The Coast Guard is advising Maumee Bay area residents that the Coast Guard Cutter Bristol Bay, a 140-foot ice-breaking tug homeported in Detroit, will be in the area for most of Monday while escorting the tug Michigan and the barge Great Lakes down the Detroit River to Toledo, Ohio.

The estimated time of arrival in Toledo is between late afternoon and evening. The vessels will be departing Toledo about 24 hours after they begin loading petroleum product at a local facility.

The tug Michigan and the barge Great Lakes cleared the Mackinac Straits about 4 p.m. Saturday with icebreaking assistance from the USCG Hollyhock and Katmai Bay.


Winter barge to arrive at OxyChem Sunday morning

3/3 - Ludington, Mich. – A barge is due to arrive at OxyChem's pier on Pere Marquette Lake early Sunday, March 3. The estimated time of arrival may change due to weather and ice conditions.

The Ludington Daily


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 as 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 was 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.


Thunder Bay Coast Guard radio station's closure raises concerns

3/2 - Thunder Bay, Ont. – A federal plan to close Thunder Bay's Coast Guard radio station and monitor Lake Superior waters out of Sarnia is raising concerns among mariners and volunteer rescuers.

The Thunder Bay Coast Guard marine communications and traffic centre, which keeps a listening watch over the Canadian waters of Lake Superior, is one of 10 centres across the country slated to be closed in what Fisheries and Oceans Canada says is a move to adopt new technology. The cuts will reduce the number of stations nationwide from 22 down to 12 and the union representing radio operators in Thunder Bay says staffing is not expected to increase in Sarnia to handle the extra load.

Seann O'Donoughue, a freighter captain and outgoing president of the International Shipmasters Association, said the group is concerned by the Thunder Bay station's closure, despite technological improvements touted by the government.

Busy summer boating weekends are of particular concern to O'Donoughue, who worries the airwaves will be “clogged up,” with emergency traffic from both recreational and commercial traffic.

“We can't stop the closing of the Thunder Bay Coast Guard radio station – but I did want it known that the Shipmasters are concerned about cutting back staffing,” said O'Donoughue, captain of the Algoma Spirit, a 222-metre bulk carrier.

Dennis O'Reilly, who leads a team of 10 Coast Guard Auxiliary volunteers through Sault Search and Rescue, said he also has concerns about the move to Sarnia. He said he doesn't know yet how the move will play out, but he said there is potential for issues if staffing isn't increased in Sarnia. He said the prospect of losing local knowledge is also of concern.

“We have a history with the Coast Guard out of Thunder Bay,” said O'Reilly, whose team covers the Canadian coastline from Marathon to Iron Bridge.

Sault Ste. Marie MP Bryan Hayes said the government isn't out to reduce safety. He said the technology driving the consolidation is expected to allow “the same level of service,” but he said it is “premature,” to say that staffing levels won't also be increased in Sarnia. He said that hasn't been determined yet.

“Ultimately, if they do find it's not manageable, well of course it's going to be resourced accordingly,” said Hayes. “We all care about the health and safety of our mariners and that's what this is all about.”

The union that represents radio workers in Thunder Bay doesn't buy the claim that new monitoring stations will reduce the workload on radio operators, whose job it is to listen to VHF radio channel 16 for distress calls, among other things.

Marcie Lavoie, shop steward for CAW Local 2182, said she has yet to hear about any staffing increase planned for Sarnia. She said some people have filled open positions there, but no transfers have been offered.

“It's our job to be able to kind of filter out all of the things that don't require our attention and listen for that faint call that does require our attention,” said Lavoie, who also works at the station. “In the noisy summertime environment it's sometimes very challenging to pick up that call.”

Right now, the Thunder Bay station is equipped with three radio consoles and Sarnia with two, said Lavoie. To go down to two people with an increased area is “a very dangerous proposition,” she said.

Lavoie says the Sarnia station will monitor traffic over a “massive area,” including Lake Superior, the St. Marys River, the North Channel, Lake Huron, Georgian Bay, the St. Clair River, Lake St. Clair, the Detroit River and half of Lake Erie once Thunder Bay closes.

Lavoie said that's too much. Last year, she and her husband toured the affected areas drumming up support for a petition to save the Thunder Bay station and hope the boating community will speak out before the station closes at the end of March 2014.

Sault Star


Obituary: Captain Edward Philip “Phil” Fitch IV

3/2 - Sandusky, Ohio – Captain Edward Philip “Phil” Fitch IV, 71, of Sandusky, passed away Friday morning, Feb. 22, after a battle with leukemia. Phil spent his life sailing his dreams and never regretted a single moment.

He worked for 41 years at Bethlehem Steel, piloting Great Lakes vessels, and retired in 2001.

He was born on May 28, 1941, in Sandusky, to Edward Fitch III and Sarah M. (Gardner) Fitch. Phil graduated from Sandusky High School in 1959, and was a veteran of the U.S. Army.

He was a past member of both the American Legion Post 83, and the International Shipmasters Association, and a current member of the Maritime Museum. An avid fisherman, Phil also loved staying abreast of marine traffic. Most of all, he cherished time with his family and friends.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made in Phil's memory to the Taussig Cancer Institute - Leukemia Research Fund, 9500 Euclid Ave. R30, Cleveland, OH 44195. Toft Funeral Home & Crematory, 2001 Columbus Ave., Sandusky, is handling arrangements. Condolences may be shared at


Obituary: Captain Robert Louis Stevenson

3/2 - Retired pilot Captain Robert Louis Stevenson died recently in St. Catharines, Ont., after an illness. Louis to his many friends, and Robert to his neighbors, was a founding member of the Corporation of Professional Great Lakes Pilots. He started his piloting career as a sailing master employed by a French company. He worked for the Department of Transport for a period of time as pilot and eventually the Great Lakes Pilotage Authority. He was instrumental in improving working conditions and ensuring a decent wage was received for service rendered in the pilotage. He spent many winters teaching winter marine subjects in the St. Catharines area.


Gordon Lightfoot includes Michigan stops on his 'Fifty Years’ tour

3/2 - Canadian folk singer Gordon Lightfoot will announce a May 6 concert date at DeVos Performance Hall next week, according to Rich MacKeigan, general manager of SMG.

The concert, which will follow a May 5 appearance in Saginaw, is part of Lightfoot’s “Fifty Years On The Carefree Highway Tour,” according to his website. Lightfoot will embark on the tour in California on March 9 and conclude in Pennsylvania in late October.

Lightfoot, 75, gained a following among Great Lakes residents in the 1970s with the "Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald," a haunting ballad about the 1975 sinking of a giant ore freighter in Lake Superior.

The smooth-voiced troubadour also gained a following with his earlier hits, “Sundown,” and “Carefree Highway.” He last appeared in Grand Rapids in 2010.

MacKeigan said details of the performance will be announced on Monday with ticket sales commencing later in the week.



Updates -  March 2

Historical Perspectives Gallery updated - New feature for March - Charles Dick


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.

1972 - HARMATTAN, a Seaway trader beginning in 1971, arrived at Karachi, Pakistan, for scrapping after suffering missile damage at sea from Indian Naval units during a conflict between the two countries.

1976 - The BROOK, a former Seaway trader as EXBROOk beginning in 1968, arrived at Kaohsiung, Taiwan, for scrapping.

Data from: Max Hanley, Joe Barr, Dave Swayze, and Steve Haverty.


Crewman makes it home for mother's funeral thanks to ice rescue

3/1 - Mackinac Island, Mich. – A crewmember on the tug Michigan had a daring rescue from the ice when he needed to get home for his mother's funeral.

The Mackinac Island Fire Department received a call Thursday morning that the coast guard could not retrieve the man. Assistant Chief St. Onge took the call and after referring with Chief Bradley and Assistant Chief Barnwell put together a plan to get the man to shore.

Using all of the ice and water rescue gear available, the fire department walked out on the ice to the vessel, waited for the man to be lowered down and brought him to shore where snowmobiles took him to the airport.

Four men from the MIFD walked out on the ice and many more were staged along the route and shore as back up and emergency. The Michigan and barge Great Lakes has been stopped in ice about 1 nm west of Round Island Passage since Tuesday.



Algoma named to Canadian top 50 list

3/1 - St. Catharines, Ont. – Algoma Central Corp. has been named a 2012 winner of Canada's Best Managed Companies program as one of 50 firms to show outstanding business performance, and innovative management. The program is for companies with revenues of more than $10 million and sponsors include Deloitte and CIBC.

Algoma, headquartered in St. Catharines, is a major Canadian shipping company. It owns and operates the largest Canadian-flag fleet of dry bulk carriers and product tankers operating on the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence. It includes 19 self-unloading dry-bulk carriers, seven gearless dry-bulk carriers and seven product tankers.

Algoma is currently investing $300 million in six new state-of-the-art Equinox Class dry-bulk vessels that bring an expected 45% reduction in emissions per tonne-kilometre.

St. Catharines Standard


Michigan contributes to whaling ship

3/1 - Cedarville, Mich. – Granted, Michigan’s early residents didn’t know much about whaling, given that whales don’t live in fresh water. But they did know a lot about boat-building, skills that have been passed down through the generations to students at the Great Lakes Boat Building School in Cedarville.

Now, those students are working on one of eight whaling boats that will be stowed aboard the historic whaling ship Charles W. Morgan.

The 113-foot ship, built in 1841 is the oldest surviving American commercial vessel. Based at the Mystic Seaport Museum in Mystic, Conn., it has been undergoing restoration. Boat-builders in seven other states also will supply 28-foot whaling boats, launched in a hurry from the ship to pursue whales.

The whaling industry was important in 19th century America, and whale oil was burned in Michigan’s lighthouses to help guide Great Lakes mariners.

Learn more about the Great Lakes Boat Building School and its project at; learn more about the Charles W. Morgan at

Lansing State Journal


Coast Guard to present Rescue 21 program at museum

3/1 - Sturgeon Bay, Wis. – The Door County Maritime Museum’s Speaker Series resumes Thursday, March 7, with a program presented by United States Coast Guard personnel related to the new Rescue 21 maritime emergency communication system. The presentation will be at the museum in Sturgeon Bay beginning at 7 p.m.

Operation Specialists from the U.S. Coast Guard Sector Lake Michigan headquarters in Milwaukee will discuss this advanced command, control and direction-finding communications system. Rescue 21 was created to better locate mariners in distress and save lives and property at sea. The system enables the Coast Guard to execute its search and rescue missions with greater agility and efficiency.

The system replaces the National distress and Response System, which has been in use since the 1970s. Rescue 21 can more accurately identify the location of mariners in distress via towers that generate lines of bearing to the source of VHF radio transmissions. The end result is less search time.

The Speaker Series will conclude on Thursday, April 4, with the rescheduled program by George Houde, who was the creator and executive director of the television series “Great Lake Warriors” which appeared on The History Channel last summer. The program was originally scheduled for February but was postponed due to a snowstorm.

All of the programs begin at 7 p.m. at the Sturgeon Bay museum. For more information visit


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 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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