Great Lakes & Seaway Shipping News Archive

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* Report News

Icebreaker Pierre Radisson on the way to Lake Erie

3/31 - Two Canadian Coast Guard icebreakers will work in tandem to break the ice in the eastern end of Lake Erie before the start of the 2015 shipping season, said Coast Guard communications officer Carol Launderville.

Launderville said the CCGS Pierre Radisson is headed toward the Welland Canal, and will change crews in Port Weller Tuesday morning, before heading down the canal to Lake Erie.

She said the Radisson will work with CCGS Griffon which, according to the Marine Traffic location system, was somewhere between Point Pelee National Park and Pelee Island on the west end of Lake Erie Monday night.

“The Canadian Coast Guard’s icebreaking crews are working hard to open shipping lanes on the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway. A number of large winter storms in February, accompanied by strong winds and cold temperatures, have contributed to the rapid development of thick ice,” said Launderville.

According to Environment Canada ice specialist Jacques Collin, while Great Lakes ice coverage does not quite match last year’s peak of 92.5 percent, it is still widespread and thick in many places.

“While last year’s coverage at this time was higher than this year — 78 percent vs 52 percent — it is still well above the median average of 18 percent,” said Collin. He said the difference between last year and this year, was that last year at this time temperatures were warm and the winds were calm

“This year we are still experiencing colder than normal temperatures that are forecast to remain cold. I don’t expect much ice decay for this next week,” said Collin.

In February, severe ice in southern Lake Erie prevented access to some ports, forcing icebreakers and commercial vessels to change sail plans.

“So far this year, CCGS Griffon and CCGS Samuel Risley have completed about 180 escorts through the ice for commercial ships between Lake Erie and Lake Superior,” said Launderville.

The CCGS Samuel Risley, a familiar sight around Manitoulin Island waterways, is currently working on Lake Superior.

“The Risley will start its first escorts on Lake Superior with a couple of vessels.”

Launderville said the CCGS Martha L. Black, which shares a home port of Quebec City with the Pierre Radisson, is conducting harbor breakouts at Bath and Picton on Lake Ontario.

She said another icebreaker, CCGS Amundsen, will be deployed from Quebec to the Great Lakes in the days to come. That would bring the number of Canadian Coast Guard vessels working on the Great Lakes to five.

The U.S. Coast Guard also has a number of icebreakers on the lakes. The two agencies work closely together throughout the winter season, ensuring marine traffic can move safely through or around ice-covered waters.


Port Reports -  March 31

Lake Superior – Ed Labernik
Edwin H. Gott arrived at Duluth at 10:26 a.m. Monday after battling the ice across Lake Superior. The Gott traveled with the Roger Blough, becoming stuck in the ice around Whitefish Point for a couple of days. Blough went to Two Harbors to load iron ore pellets and the Gott went to the Port Terminal for possible repairs. She may have suffered ice damage, as she needed an assist from the Heritage Marine tug Nels J. The Gott is scheduled for departure to Two Harbors March 31 and is the first vessel to enter Duluth from the Soo Locks this season.

Port Inland & Stoneport, Mich. – Denny Dushane
At Port Inland, the Wilfred Sykes is expected to arrive in the morning on Tuesday to become the first vessel to load there for the 2015 shipping season. At Stoneport, the tug Joyce L. Van Enkevort and barge Great Lakes Trader are due on Tuesday in the morning to load, weather and ice conditions permitting.

Escanaba, Mich. – Denny Dushane, Daniel Lindner
Paul R. Tregurtha arrived in Escanaba on a windy Monday to load its first cargo for the 2015/16 shipping season. Once loaded the vessel will depart for Toledo, Ohio to unload at the Torco ore dock. The Tregurtha is also transporting the pilothouse of the 1906-built former cement carrier St. Marys Challenger, which was converted to a barge at Bay Shipbuilding Corp. in Sturgeon Bay, Wis. in 2014. The pilothouse of the Challenger will be taken off and removed upon arrival in Toledo and later will be installed as a new exhibit for the National Great Lakes Museum.

Toledo, Ohio – Denny Dushane
The tug Joseph H. Thompson Jr. and barge Joseph H. Thompson arrived on a windy Monday to become the first arrival at Toledo and the Torco dock for the 2015/16 shipping season. They unloaded an iron ore cargo loaded from Escanaba. The next scheduled arrival at Torco will be the Paul R. Tregurtha sometime later this week, weather and ice conditions permitting. Both the CSX Coal Dock and the Midwest Terminal Stone Dock remain closed with no activity scheduled thus far. There have also been no new vessel departures leaving lay-up in the past day or so.

Lake Ontario – Steven King
Martha L. Black came through Kingston Monday morning en route to break out Bath and Picton harbors. After breaking ice at the Bath cement plant, the Black went to help the Stephen B. Roman, which was stuck in the just off Prince Edward County en route to Picton harbor to load cement. Escorting the Roman into Picton harbor, the ship waited while the Black broke out the port before proceeding in to load. Martha L. Black then headed east in Lake Ontario towards the St. Lawrence River.


Seaway notices issued

3/31 - Montreal - Lake Ontario Notices to Shipping #4 and 5 have been issued. They can be viewed here:


Retrospective: The career of the Atlantic Superior

In the early 1980s, Canada Steamship Lines and Upper Lakes Shipping built a trio of Seaway-sized self-unloaders capable of trading on the Great Lakes as well as the oceans of the world. In the past year, all three have been sold for scrapping far from the freshwater lakes. Canadian Pioneer dated from 1981 and was dismantled last year in Aliaga, Turkey as b) Pioneer. Canadian Ambassador of 1983 sustained fire damage at Banten, Indonesia, as e) Pramudita on Sept. 12, 2013, and has subsequently gone to the scrap yard as f) Pramuda. The third was Atlantic Superior, which reached Xinhui, China, on March 16, 2015, and faces a similar fate.

The 600-foot-long stern section of Atlantic Superior was built by the Collingwood Shipbuilding Co. as Hull 222 and launched on Nov. 9, 1981. It was towed to Thunder Bay by the tugs Wilfred M. Cohen and the Miseford, passing upbound at Sault Ste. Marie on May 5, 1982. On arrival, the stern and bow sections were joined and, on June 11, 1982, the ship was christened Atlantic Superior.

After undergoing sea trials on June 25, the ship sailed to Superior, Wis., and loaded iron ore for Algoma Steel at Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. The 730-foot-long by 76-foot-wide self-unloader was registered at 24,638 gross tons, 16,646 net tons and able to carry 37,900 tons deadweight at saltwater draft.

Atlantic Superior could discharge cargo at the rate of 6,000 tons per hour. The holds were lined with polyethylene and equipped with hydraulic vibrators to help in the discharge process.

On the early trips, Atlantic Superior often carried grain from the Great Lakes to Halifax and then returned inbound with gypsum or iron ore. Unfortunately, it did not take the ship long to find the bottom of the St. Lawrence, as the vessel went aground in the American Narrows of the St. Lawrence, off Wellesley Island, on Sept. 29, 1982. The ship was refloated on October 1 and, after unloading at Quebec City, sailed back to Thunder Bay for repairs.

On June 24, 1984, Atlantic Superior was anchored at Port Hawkesbury, N.S., when there was an explosion in the forecastle. One sailor suffered minor burns.

The ship began seeing more saltwater service in the winter of 1984-1985. Among the trips was a cargo of salt from Bahamas to Longview, Wa., before loading potash at Vancouver, B.C./ for delivery to Baltimore, Md. and Norfolk, Va. Later that summer the ship took 28,000 tons of iron ore from Sept-Iles, Q.C. to Bremen, West Germany. While overseas, the ship carried 30,000 tons of coal from Immingham, England, to Sines, Portugal.

In 1986, Atlantic Superior loaded more potash at Thunder Bay for Baltimore and, on arrival in May, the crew was changed and the ship was placed under the flag of Bahamas.

In 1987, the ship left Baltimore with coal for Sines, south of Lisbon, Portugal, and may have had several runs to that port. It was noted as going aground there on Oct. 5, 1987, and had to go to Setubal, Portugal, for repairs.

We saw less and less of Atlantic Superior in the Seaway trades. In 1988, the ship carried stone to the English Channel tunnel project. Later, in 1994, the vessel headed to the Pacific to carry gypsum from Mexico to Pacific Northwest ports to unload before returning south with coal, stone or fertilizer.

The next major change occurred in March 1997. The vessel arrived at Halifax in March and was renamed b) M.H. Baker III on March 22. It went to work on charter to the National Gypsum Co. loading at Dartmouth, N.S. or Newington, N.H. for delivery south to ports like Tampa. The vessel received work on the cargo holds, including new bulkheads, beginning in Feb. 2000 before resuming the east coast gypsum trade.

The vessel was renamed c) Atlantic Superior again in 2003 and came back under the flag of Canada. The ship was upbound in the Seaway for Nanticoke on April 23, 2003. Registry in the Bahamas was restored at Halifax on Feb. 2, 2006.

On March 27, 2007, Atlantic Superior was the first saltwater ship of the new navigation season passing upbound through the St. Lambert Lock. It was the first time a lakes-built vessel was the first foreign flag trader of the new navigation season.

The ship combined some lakes and some deep-sea trading and, by now had acquired a red hull. It came down the Welland Canal, perhaps for the last time, in May 2013 carrying coal to Belledune, N.B. The ship then loaded gypsum at Halifax for Montreal and, on arrival, entered what was thought to be a long-term lay up.

But changing needs and conditions sent Atlantic Superior back to the Pacific coast to finish its days on the west coast gypsum run. It replaced CSL Cabo on this route, a ship we never did see on the Great Lakes.

Following a sale to Chinese shipbreakers, Atlantic Superior headed across the Pacific and arrived at Xinhui, China, under her own power, on March 16, 2015. I suspect dismantling of the hull was soon underway as the ship joined Canadian Pioneer and Canadian Ambassador for recycling after over 30 years of predominantly saltwater service.

Skip Gillham


Lookback #499 – Cape Palmas suffered extensive fire damage on March 31, 1974

The ocean-going freighter Cape Palmas was at Bilbao, Spain, undergoing repairs when a major fire broke out in the after part of the ship. The blaze of 41 years ago today caused considerable damage but, at only 14 years of age, this was repaired.

Cape Palmas had been built at Landskrona, Sweden, and completed in 1960 at Anne Brodin. The ship was completed on March 17, 1960, and was used in saltwater trading under the flag of Sweden.

The 515 foot, 11 inch long cargo ship was sold and re-registered in Liberia as b) Cape Palmas in 1969 and first came to the Great Lakes that year.

Following repairs, the ship resumed trading until another sale in 1978 led to the renaming of c) Asano. It was rebuilt as a cement carrier in 1984 and saw service, including a stop in Hong Kong, in August 1989.

Following a sale to Chinese shipbreakers, Asano arrived at Shanghai, on Sept. 10, 1993, and was scrapped.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  March 31

Weekly Website Updates
News Photo Gallery


Today in Great Lakes History -  March 31

On 31 March 1971, the American Steamship Company's RICHARD J. REISS grounded at Stoneport, Michigan, while moving away from 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.


Port Reports -  March 30

Lake Superior
Edwin H. Gott and Roger Blough made it through heavy ice west of Whitefish Point Sunday due to a shift in wind. They were stopped for the night off the western side of the Keweenaw Peninsula.

St. Marys River
Samuel Risley was working Sunday with Algoma Olympic to the east of Whitefish Point. At 10 p.m., Philip R. Clarke was stopped for the night in Mud Lake.

On Sunday evening, John G. Munson and Alpena were either stuck or stopped for the night west of the Mackinac Bridge.

Sturgeon Bay, Wis. – Jim Conlon, Dan Lindner
Saturday, mid afternoon, the Paul R Tregurtha left Bayship and went to the turning area off Sherwood Point north of Sturgeon Bay, where they went to anchor. Her ultimate destination is Escanaba. The Cason J. Callaway has steam up and they should be leaving in the next day or so. Quite a few of the remaining ships laid up have turned their AIS transmitters on.

Milwaukee, Wis. – Denny Dushane
The 1,000-footer Stewart J. Cort departed its lay-up berth during the early morning on March 29. They are en route to Superior, Wis., to load iron ore at the BNSF #5 ore dock and their first load of the season. The 1,000-footer Burns Harbor is still in port and will be departing sometime soon. Also still remaining in port is the tug G.L. Ostrander and barge Integrity.

Toledo, Ohio – Denny Dushane
The tug Victory and barge James L. Kuber departed their lay-up dock on March 29 in the morning. The CSX Coal Dock along with the Midwest Terminal Stone Dock remain closed. Thus far only one vessel is scheduled for arrival at the Torco Dock to unload iron ore. The Joseph H. Thompson is expected at Torco sometime on March 30 or 31 as weather and ice conditions permit. Vessels that remain laid-up in Toledo include Algorail, Sam Laud, H. Lee White, St. Clair, American Spirit, American Mariner, American Courage, Manistee, tug Ken Boothe Sr. and barge Lakes Contender and the Great Republic. American Valor still remains in long-term lay-up near the Lakefront Docks.

Seaway – Ron Walsh
At 8 p.m. Sunday evening the CCGS Pierre Radisson was stopped near Tibbet's Point. The CCGS Martha L. Black was stopped at Wolfe Island Cut. The Black told the Wolfe Islander III she would be coming through the Kingston area sometime Monday. She should also break out Bath and Picton. The Seaway radio station at Clayton is now active for the season.


Port of Toronto achieves eight-year high for cargo imports

3/30 - Toronto, Ont. – More than two million tonnes of cargo from around the world were delivered directly into the heart of the city last year through the Port of Toronto, marking an eight-year high for marine imports into the city and confirming the port's position as a key contributor to Toronto's transportation infrastructure and economic strength.

More than 160 ships visited the Port of Toronto in 2014, resulting in the highest level of imports since 2007 and representing a 30 per cent increase over 2013 tonnages. The cargos carried into the port last year included stone and aggregate imports, which increased by 50 per cent, and salt imports, which increased nearly 150 per cent, over the year prior.

"From the salt used on our roads to keep drivers safe to the concrete used in Toronto's booming construction industry, the goods delivered through Toronto's port have a significant impact on the people, projects, and industries of Toronto," said Geoffrey Wilson, Chief Executive Officer, PortsToronto.

In addition to its economic impact, increased imports through the port have a positive impact on the environment and traffic congestion given that the more than two million tonnes of cargo delivered by ship took approximately 50,000, 40-tonne trucks off Toronto's already congested roads and highways. One tonne of freight can travel 240 kilometres on a single litre of fuel by ship, whereas it can only travel 30 kilometres on the same amount of fuel by truck.

In addition to the increase in cargo delivered through the port, six cruise ships carrying a total of more than 2,900 passengers visited PortsToronto's Cruise Ship Terminal in 2014, nearly five times the number of passengers who visited Toronto via the port the year prior. The 2015 cruise season is expected to be one of the port's busiest to date, with 15 ships bringing more than 3,500 visitors to Toronto from May through to October.

CNW PR Newswire


$244M economic impact shows importance of Lake Erie commercial fishery

3/30 - Windsor, Ont. – Lake Erie’s commercial fishing and processing industry has an economic impact of more than $244 million and includes the world’s largest freshwater commercial fishing industry in Wheatley. Yet few realize that, industry leaders say.

“Most people in Windsor don’t even know there’s a fishing industry here in Lake Erie,” Tony Giacalone, president of fish processor La Nassa Foods in Kingsville, said Wednesday. “There are a lot of politicians who don’t even know we exist.”

The Ontario Commercial Fisheries’ Association wants to change that. It has a new study done by the B.C. business consulting firm MNP with the numbers to show the industry’s significance.

The study says Ontario’s commercial fisheries and related processing industry have an economic impact of about $305 million and $244 million of that was Lake Erie’s share. The commercial fishing boats on Lake Erie have a $50-million economic impact and the fish processing industry has another $194-million impact.

The combined industries have 913 direct jobs, 1,490 jobs overall and an estimated tax revenue of more than $20 million. “It’s been long overdue,” Tim Tiessen, president of the Ontario Commercial Fisheries’ Association, said of the analysis.

The impact is more than double earlier ballpark estimates, which didn’t include things like equipment purchases, transportation expenses and associated jobs. Tiessen said the report will be given to local politicians.

Jane Graham, the association’s executive director, said it will help the industry tell its story.

“We need to be on the radar screen,” she said. “We’re producing a good, healthy product and we need to get out there and be talking about how important we are.”

Giacalone said the industry faces similar pressures of the farm or food industry yet lacks recognition and funding opportunities with upper levels of government. Although the industry has consolidated from more than a dozen processing plants in the early 1980s to six in the Kingsville to Wheatley area, it is still significant for the small towns and a region that needs a diversified economy, Giacalone said.

This year’s commercial fishing quotas announced Tuesday will be about the same for local commercial fisherman.

The overall Lake Erie quota for walleye/pickerel will be 4.114 million fish, down slightly from 4.027 million fish in 2014. That’s for both Ontario’s commercial fishing industry and sport anglers on both sides of the border.

The yellow perch quota is decreasing about five per cent this year overall.

That means similar quotas for Essex County commercial fishermen, a 20 per cent quota increase for Chatham-Kent fishermen and a 20 per cent drop in Elgin County where most of the perch fishery is based, Tiessen said. “We’re pretty disappointed with the 20 per cent cut in Elgin County.”

The quota is set by fishery managers in Ontario, Michigan, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

By the numbers:
$50M: Lake Erie’s commercial fishing industry is worth $50 million and employs about 715 people including 581 direct full-time equivalent jobs. The industry is estimated to contribute more than $6 million, directly and indirectly, in federal, provincial and municipal taxes.

$194M: Lake Erie’s fish processing industry employs 775 people including 332 direct jobs and has an economic impact of $194 million. The economic impact model calculated the processing industry contributes more than $14.7 million in taxes.

$31.8M: In 2012 the value of the commercial fish catch in Lake Erie was $31.8 million.

84: Walleye, yellow perch and lake whitefish made up 84 per cent of the 2012 commercial catch in Ontario.

Windsor Star


Lookback #498 – Germanic burned at the dock on March 30, 1917

The wooden passenger and freight steamer Germanic caught fire at Collingwood on March 30, 1917, and became a total loss 98 years ago today.

Germanic had also been built at Collingwood and was launched on July 27, 1899, as the last wooden hulled vessel built at that famous shipbuilding location.

The 196 foot long vessel was able to carry 200 passengers in first class accommodations and was equipped with 200 electric lights. It entered service on Aug. 3, 1899, and ran from Collingwood to Sault Ste. Marie via Manitoulin Island ports. During the pleasant summer months, the ship expanded its route to include Mackinac Island.

Originally to be part of the Great Northern Transit Co., it also served Northern Navigation and then Canada Steamship Lines.

Following the fatal fire, the hull was raised and towed towards Wasaga Beach, run aground and abandoned. During the Depression, some of the remaining wood in the hull was broken up by unemployed men for use as firewood during those difficult years.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  March 30

Weekly Website Updates
News Photo Gallery
Lay-up list updated


Today in Great Lakes History -  March 30

The tanker CHEMICAL MAR arrived at Brownsville, Texas on March 30, 1983, in tow of the tug FORT LIBERTE to be scrapped. Built in 1966, as a.) BIRK. In 1979, she was renamed b.) COASTAL TRANSPORT by Hall Corp. of Canada, but never came to the lakes. She was sold by Hall and was renamed c.) CHEMICAL MAR in 1981.

March 30, 1985 - 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, “Ahoy & Farewell II” and the “Great Lakes Ships We Remember” series.


Port Reports -  March 29

St. Marys River
Edwin H. Gott and Roger Blough continue to struggle with ice west of Whitefish Point. USCG Mackinaw and Alder have returned to Sault Ste. Marie, possibly for fuel or repairs. Algoma Olympic remains tied on the lower Poe Lock pier until permission is given for her to enter the ice fields above the locks.

John G. Munson was westbound at the Mackinaw Bridge at 6:32 p.m. Central time Saturday and the Joseph H. Thompson was eastbound. At 6:47 p.m., the Alpena was westbound.

Toronto, Ont.
Stephen B. Roman left Toronto Saturday and was headed eastbound across Lake Ontario, presumably for Picton.


Reserve now for Engineer’s Day Soo Cruise

Arrangements have been made for the annual freighter-chasing cruise on the St. Marys River, on Friday, June 26, as part of the annual Engineer’s Day Gathering in Sault Ste. Marie. The cruise will be three hours and we will travel through both the U.S. and Canadian Locks, and do our best to find photo opportunities for any vessel traffic in the river. Reservations are a must as we are limiting the group to 100 persons. Reserve now and save $5. See the Gathering Page for details.


Lookback #497 – Juventia opened Seaway on March 29, 1988

It was 27 years ago today that the Panamanian bulk carrier Juventia opened the Seaway as the first upbound transit at the St. Lambert Lock. The 605 foot, 8 inch long by 67 foot, 6 inch wide vessel had traded into the Great Lakes in the past but not for much longer.

Juventia was built at Varna, Bulgaria, and completed in August 1982. It was owned by Transocean Liners Reed. G.m.b.H., and first came to the Great Lakes in 1984.

Later in 1988, Juventia was sold but continued under the flag of Panama as b) Christiane. This vessel came inland as far as Contrecoeur in December 1988, but never reached the Great Lakes.

Later sales brought the names of c) Mineral Trader in 2000, d) M. Trader in 2003 and e) Free Destiny in 2004. Flags of registry changed from Panama to Greece to Bahamas to Marshall Islands and finally Liberia.

Following a sale for scrap, the former Seaway salty that made the news on March 29, 1988, quietly slipped into Alang, India, on Aug. 24, 2010, for dismantling.

Skip Gillham


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


Canadian Miner remains expected to be gone by mid-May

3/28 - Scatarie Island – Nova Scotia Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal Minister Geoff MacLellan expects the last of the former laker Canadian Miner to be gone by the time lobster fishing season rolls around in mid-May.

The Miner ran aground on Scatarie Island in September 2011, while on its way to Turkey where it was supposed to be scrapped. The province began cleaning up the site last year, but work was delayed when 30 tonnes of asbestos was found and had to be removed. That moved the finish date from November until February, when the area was hit by a succession of snowstorms.

Now MacLellan expects everything to be completed by mid-May.

"We've had significant improved weather over the last four or five days so the progress has been steady," said MacLellan, who is MLA for Glace Bay. "At this point, there's only one significant piece of the structure still standing and the pieces that have been dismantled and pulled ashore are being prepared for scrap now."

He's even feeling optimistic that it could be gone even earlier.

"We're keeping steady communications with the stakeholders and the local community but we're feeling confident that it will be gone in its entirety by that mid-May point, and certainly with any luck in terms of the weather, it should be long before that."

Cape Breton Post


Special delivery: Paul R. Tregururta to transport Challenger pilothouse to Toledo

3/28 - Toledo, Ohio – When the 1,014-foot-long Paul R. Tregurtha departs winter layup at Bay Shipbuilding at Sturgeon Bay, Wis., in the next few days she will be carrying an extra pilot house.

The Tregurtha has been chosen to transport the pilot house of the former steamer St. Marys Challenger, reduced to a barge last year, to Toledo, Ohio, where it will go on display at the National Museum of the Great Lakes.

The Tregurtha will load iron ore in Escanaba, Mich., and then proceed down the lakes to unload at the Toledo, eventually delivering the artifact to Midwest Terminals International for future installation and exhibition at the nearby museum.

The Challenger, launched in 1906 as the William P. Snyder, was the first of six vessels built for the Shenango Furnace Co. She was later an Interlake vessel under the name Alex D. Chisholm, and was concerted to a cement carrier in 1966 by Medusa Portland Cement. Surviving tumultuous times in the industry when dozens of her iron ore trading counterparts were scrapped, and later being dwarfed by super-ships like the Tregurtha, the Challenger would operate under steam power for 107 years.

She was cut down to a barge in early 2014.

Determining that the object of greatest significance was the Challenger’s main navigation space, the owners had the pilothouse removed. It was sought after by dozens of regional museums.

The preservation effort was led by Great Lakes Historical Society Board Member Paul C. LaMarre III, known for his preservation efforts involving the Toledo museum ship Col. James M. Schoonmaker. LaMarre worked with Ed Hogan, vice president of operations for the vessel’s owner, Port City Steamship Services, and Port City’s Patrick McKee.

“It is a humbling honor to be able to bring two vessels of the Shenango Furnace Co. back together at our museum which we feel represents the past, present, and future of all that the Great Lakes have to offer,” said LaMarre.

Additionally fitting is that St Mary’s Cement continues to operate a marine terminal in the Port of Toledo and has been a staunch supporter of bringing the pilothouse home, he added.

With the help of Mark Barker, GLHS board member and president of the Interlake Steamship Co., the Challenger pilot house will make its final journey atop the fo’c’sle of the Paul R. Tregurtha on its first voyage of the season.

“This is a fitting tribute to one of our former vessels,” Barker said.

Though the pilothouse is expected to be available for viewing in 2016, museum goers can experience the history of the Challenger aboard the Schoonmaker from May through October, as the vessel is home to “Centennial: Steaming Through the American Century,” an exhibit which highlights the works of author and photographer Christopher Winters.

Winters will also be traveling aboard the Tregurtha to chronicle the historic journey, which will be part of a book to be co-authored with LaMarre, to be released through GLHS, and called “Iron Diamonds: The Living Legacy of the Shenango Furnace Co.”

National Museum of the Great Lakes


Port Reports -  March 28

St. Marys River
John J. Munson was the first downbound vessel at the locks for the new season, passing through in the late afternoon Friday. In the early evening, Algoma Olympic was approaching the locks upbound. The USCG Mackinaw was working in heavy ice Friday with the Edwin H. Gott and Roger Blough, which were upbound off Keweenaw Point.

Marblehead, Ohio – Dan McNeil
Tug Joyce L. VanEnkevort with barge Great Lakes Trader opened Marblehead for the season, loading a stone cargo Friday Morning.

Toledo, Ohio – Denny Dushane, Dan McNeil
Philip R. Clarke became the first vessel to depart winter lay-up from Toledo for the 2015/16 shipping season, leaving during the morning on March 27. There are presently no scheduled vessel arrivals for Toledo.


Lookback #496 – Split opened Seaway on March 28, 1975

It was 40 years ago today that the St. Lawrence Seaway season got underway at the St. Lambert Lock at Montreal. The initial upbound traveler, on March 28, 1975, was the Yugoslavian general cargo carrier Split.

The owners, Jadranska Slobodna Plovidba, had also sent the first ship inland the previous year with sistership Alka and the latter returned as the first again in 1976, giving the company the honors for three years in a row.

The Split had been built at Split, Yugoslavia, and completed in 1967. The 469 foot, 4 inch long vessel began Great Lakes trading that year and was a frequent caller to inland destinations.

Split served the owners for twenty years before being sold for scrap. It arrived at Alang, India, to be broken up by Y.S. Investments on Jan. 17, 1987.

An earlier Seaway trader named Split had been a Liberty ship and served the same owners from 1962 until early 1967. It had been a Great Lakes caller in 1964 but was scrapped at Split when its new namesake was being completed there in 1967.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  March 28

News Photo Gallery
Lay-up list updated


Today in Great Lakes History -  March 28

On 28 March 1997, the USS Great Lakes Fleet's PHILIP R. CLARKE set a record for a salt cargo on a U.S.-flag laker when she loaded 25,325 tons at Fairport, Ohio, for delivery to Toledo, Ohio. The previous record was 25,320 tons carried by American Steamship's AMERICAN REPUBLIC in 1987.

On 28 March 1848, COLUMBUS (wooden sidewheeler, 391 tons, built in 1835, at Huron, Ohio) struck a pier at Dunkirk, New York during a storm and sank. The sidewheeler FASHION struck the wreck in November of the same year and was seriously damaged.

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


Port Reports -  March 27

Port Inland, Mich. – Denny Dushane
Wilfred Sykes is tentatively scheduled to be the first vessel arrival at Port Inland for the 2015 shipping season. They are expected to arrive on Sunday, March 29 during the morning to load.

Sturgeon Bay, Wis. – Jim Conlon Mary Arndt
Early Thursday morning the Great Lakes Fleet ship Edgar B. Speer returned to Bay Shipbuilding and went right into the graving dock for possible underwater repairs. A video posted to Youtube Thursday showed the Speer making contact with the wall of the Sturgeon Bay ship canal.

Muskegon, Mich. – Chuck George
The cement barge Innovation arrived at Muskegon harbor at 2 p.m. Thursday.

Stoneport, Mich. – Denny Dushane
The tug Joyce L. Van Enkevort and barge Great Lakes Trader became the first vessel for the 2015 shipping season to load at Stoneport. They had arrived on Tuesday and departed on Wednesday and are due back to load once again on Tuesday, March 31 in the morning.

Sarnia, Ont. – Denny Dushane, Barry Hiscocks
Algoma Olympic, a 730-foot-long self-unloading freighter owned by the Algoma Central Corporation of St. Catharines, Ont., became the first vessel to depart from Sarnia for the 2015-16 shipping season. Algoma Olympic departed during the morning of March 26 enroute to Superior, Wis. to load taconite ore pellets at the BNSF #5 ore dock. The remaining vessels in winter lay-up in Sarnia include the Cuyahoga and Calumet, Robert S. Pierson, CSL Niagara, Peter R. Cresswell, Capt. Henry Jackman and Algosteel. The tanker Algosar also remains in lay-up at the former CN Rail Ferry Dock just downriver from the Sarnia Harbor area. Algoma Hansa arrived in Sarnia Thursday afternoon for short-term layup.


Tug clears shipping lane on Muskegon Lake

3/27 - Muskegon, Mich. – The Great Lake shipping season has begun with Wednesday's opening of locks at Sault Ste. Marie. And in Muskegon Thursday morning, a large tug was cutting a shipping channel in the ice to one of the busiest commercial docks on Muskegon Lake.

The tug Barbara Andrie cleared a path from Lake Michigan to the Lafarge dock downtown. Lafarge operates a cement mixing facility on Muskegon Lake and will soon resume receiving material by freighter.

The Coast Guard in Muskegon was already warning anglers to stay off Muskegon Lake after two fishermen fell through the ice this past weekend. The breaking of the ice Thursday morning is another signal the ice on Muskegon Lake is not safe and should soon be gone.



Verendrye finally scrapped after seven years on sidelines

3/27 - After being idle in the outer harbour at Port Colborne since about 2008, the former Canadian Coast Guard vessel Verendrye was shifted to a scrapping berth on Jan. 3, 2015. I suspect that once operations on the dismantling of the hull get underway, it will not take long for the steel to be ready for recycling.

Verendrye was built at Lauzon, QC and completed for the Canadian Ministry of Transport in 1957. The 38.10 metre long ship was stationed at Sorel, QC and had a cruising range of 3200 kilometres.

The vessel worked with buoys and other navigation aids and did some ice breaking as needed. It also saw service on the Ottawa River and later came into the Great Lakes. The ship moved under the banner of the Canadian Coast Guard in 1962.

In the fall of 1986, Verendrye was laid up at Collingwood and retired. It was sold to private interests in 1988 and came down the Welland Canal for Toronto on Dec. 4, 1994. While the ship was moored at various docks amid thoughts of conversion to some type of cruise or charter service, the ship remained essentially unchanged.

Later classed as a yacht under the name Odyssey VI, this was not painted on the hull and the ship was towed to Port Weller on Nov. 24, 2007, and then to Port Colborne the following year.

Owned in later years by International Marine Salvage, the vessel was moved to the cutting berth by the tug Seahound earlier this year.

Port Colborne Leader, Skip Gillham


Great Lakes ice compared to last year shows astonishing difference

3/27 - Great Lakes ice has been decreasing quickly in the past few weeks. Given all the extreme cold we had in February, there is an astonishing difference in the amount of ice currently on the Great Lakes when compared to last year.

It was a record-setting snowy and cold November and February in much of Michigan. The early cold caused ice to develop on the Great Lakes earlier than anytime in the last 40 years. The February cold created more ice, with Great Lakes ice cover peaking this year in early March.

As of March 16, 2015 the entire Great Lakes were 55 percent covered with ice. But on the same day last year, ice cover was much higher: 75 percent.

The image of Lake Superior ice is very dramatic. Last year on March 16 Lake Superior was 91 percent ice covered. This year it is still icy, but only with 72 percent ice cover. Lake Michigan was down to 31 percent ice cover March 16, 2015 compared to 52 percent last year on that date.

M Live


Detroit port authority plans to trial international pedestrian ferry

3/27 - Windsor, Ont. – There could be an international ferry shuttling passengers from downtown Windsor to Detroit this summer, if the Detroit Port Authority gets its way. John Loftus, executive director of Detroit/Wayne County Port Authority, said he plans to run two trials of an international passenger ferry service: one during the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix weekend in May and another in August during a large convention.

The port authority received $2.4 million a few years ago from the U.S. government to set up domestic water taxis. Loftus said those will shuttle people between the Cobo Centre, the Renaissance Centre and Belle Isle over the two trial weekends.

Loftus hopes to run an international trial at the same time, to find out how much interest there is in the service and to fix the hitches before developing an official plan. Loftus said if the trial goes well, he plans to seek more funding from the U.S. government to set up a permanent service.

David Cree, president and CEO of the Windsor Port Authority, said there are still several hurdles despite encouraging meetings with the port authorities, government officials and border agencies.

“I think it’s possible, sure, if all the players fall into place,” Cree said of a May pilot project, adding that the biggest challenge is setting up customs and a docking location in downtown Windsor.

“It’s not just a ferry from point A to point B. You’re going to two different countries,” said Matt Marchand, president and CEO of the Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce. He said that while there remain hurdles that have come up before when trying to launch a passenger ferry, this time the project is starting with some of those problems solved.

Cree said the Canada Border Services Agency has confirmed it would staff a customs terminal. The money for that would likely have to come from the ferry fees and the service would have to be run privately.

The Detroit port authority has the money it needs for the water taxi vessels and a downtown terminal where customs could operate.

A new customs deal announced this month makes it possible for Canadian and U.S. customs officers to screen travellers on the other country’s soil for road and water crossings. Cree said it’s not yet clear how that could affect the ferry plans, but it could offer an alternative to a permanent customs building in Widnsor.

“If we could have both Canadian and U.S. customs housed (in Detroit), it would be an ideal situation,” Cree said.

Loftus envisions a seasonal service from April to November allowing tourists and residents to travel easily between the two riverfront cities. The pilot project in August would test cross-border accommodations for a convention that has about 7,000 participants to about 4,700 hotel rooms in downtown Detroit.

“The river is in my mind that natural highway that opens up a couple thousand extra hotel rooms,” Loftus said. “I envision times when you have the Tigers playing the Blue Jays, you’d have people coming across on the ferry, heading up to the Tigers Stadium, going to the game.”

He hopes to have the service running next summer if the pilot project goes well. Cree said they will also require council approval to use city-owned riverfront land.

Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens said he’s supportive of the idea.

“The more people we could bring to downtown Windsor, to explore downtown, the casino and the other amenities we have, it’s certainly good for our community,” Dilkens said.

The last ferry trip across the Detroit River was in 1938. An article in The Windsor Daily Star at the time said the service was cancelled due to competition from the Ambassador Bridge and the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel.

“The ferry company was among the first to realize their own plight and although they carried many thousands of passengers and cars — particularly the latter — for several financially healthy months after the new services were opened, they too, inevitably came to the conclusion that their day was past,” the article read.

The front-page story in 1938 reported that passengers crowded the ferries to bid goodbye to a service that had connected the two cities for more than a century.

“There are some issues and complications but this waterfront at one time was dotted with ferries all over the place,” Masse said. “I just see it as a renewed opportunity.”

Windsor Star


Port Sanilac Marina open house April 18

Port Sanilac, Mich. – The Port Sanilac Marina will host a open house from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, April 18. On hand will be modelers from Marlow Hunter, industry guest speakers, and representatives of Catalina Yachts, J-Boats and Hobie Kyacks. Live music, lunch and drinks. Details at


Lookback #495 – Atlantic Superior opened Seaway season on March 27, 2007

3/27 - The Atlantic Superior is the only Great Lakes-built vessel to be the first foreign flag ocean going ship to open the St. Lawrence Seaway season. The vessel, with registry in Bahamas, was the initial vessel to enter the St. Lambert Lock at Montreal in 2007. It was upbound eight years ago today.

The 600-foot stern of Atlantic Superior was built at Collingwood as Hull 222 and towed to Thunder Bay for completion in May 1982. The vessel underwent trials on June 25, 1982, and entered service loading iron ore at Superior, Wis., for Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., two days later.

Atlantic Superior was designed for Great Lakes and deep sea trading. While it has traded inland from time to time, the ship has spent the bulk of its 33-year-career on saltwater.

This self-unloader has sailed on the Atlantic around North America and Europe, in the Pacific Coast gypsum trade and between the Great Lakes and East Coast with grain while returning inland with gypsum or iron ore.

From 1997 to 2003, the ship was in service as M.H. Baker III and concentrated in the gypsum trade from Dartmouth, N.S., to a variety of American destinations. It resumed trading as Atlantic Superior in 2003 and served Canada Steamship Lines until arriving at Xinhui, China, for scrapping on March 16, 2015.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  March 27

Lay-up list updated


Today in Great Lakes History -  March 27

The steamer b.) EDWARD S. KENDRICK was launched March 27, 1907, as a.) H.P. McINTOSH (Hull#622) at West Bay City, Michigan, by West Bay City Ship Building Co. for the Gilchrist Transportation Co., Cleveland, Ohio.

Nipigon Transport Ltd. (Carryore Ltd., mgr., Montreal, Quebec) operations came to an end when the fleet was sold on March 27, 1986, to Algoma Central's Marine Division at Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.

On 27 March 1841, BURLINGTON (wooden sidewheeler, 150 tons, built in 1837, at Oakville, Ontario) was destroyed by fire at Toronto, Ontario. Her hull was later recovered and the 98-foot, 3-mast schooner SCOTLAND was built on it in 1847, at Toronto.

On 27 March 1875, the steamer FLORA was launched at Wolf & Davidson's yard in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Her dimensions were 275-foot keel x 27 foot x 11 foot.

On 27 March 1871, the small wooden schooner EMMA was taken out in rough weather by the commercial fishermen Charles Ott, Peter Broderick, Jacob Kisinger and John Meicher to begin the fishing season. The vessel capsized at about 2:00 p.m., 10 miles southwest of St. Joseph, Michigan and all four men drowned.

C E 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: 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.


Locks open, but trouble with ice delays first passage

3/26 - Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. – The mighty 1,000-footer Edwin H. Gott tried her best to be the first boat to lock through the Soo Locks late Wednesday morning, but in the end she was bested by ice in the lock chamber and had to back out and tie up at the east center pier to wait for conditions to improve. Fleetmate Roger Blough was tied up astern of her.

Wednesday evening the Corps tug Whitefish Bay was working to clear ice from the Poe Lock wall, while USCG Mobile Bay was cutting track in the upper approaches. By 8:30 p.m., the Gott was making a second run at the lock; this time she was successful and by 9:30 was clearing the lock.

The Gott initially started going upbound through the locks around 9:30 a.m. Wednesday. A welcoming party of community leaders and residents celebrated the Gott and its crew as it passed by during a heavy snow squall. But the excitement was short-lived as ice brought the passage to a crunching halt.

Also, on Wednesday evening, the downbound John G. Munson and USCG cutter Alder were nearing Whitefish Point. If all goes well, the Munson will be the first downbound passage sometime on Thursday.

The Soo Locks shut down for routine maintenance January 15. Since then, more than 200 men and women have been working to repair lock valves, install fender timbers and make other seasonal repairs.

In total, the agency spent $9.5 million on various projects to enhance the reliability of the Poe and MacArthur locks. These projects included steel repair on Gate #3 of the Poe Lock; filling/emptying valve repair on the Poe Lock; replacement of the pintal bearing on Gate #1 of the Poe Lock; rehabilitation of the MacArthur Lock's electrical system; upgrading the compressed air distribution system that assists with ice control at both locks; and miscellaneous small maintenance projects. These improvements ensure the safety of the vessels and crews that will transit the locks over the next nine months.

"We're looking forward to the new shipping season," said Mark Barker, president of the Interlake Steamship Company based in Ohio. "Coming off the second consecutive year of heavy ice on the lakes, our vessel, the Mesabi Miner, finally left the Port of Duluth-Superior late Monday evening after loading coal at the Superior Midwest Energy Terminal."

"While the ice isn't as bad as last year, it is still challenging," said Tim Heney, CEO of the Thunder Bay Port Authority. As the largest grain export port on the lakes, the Soo Locks are essential to Thunder Bay since 100 percent of their trade moves through the locks down to the Welland Canal and out through the Seaway. "The majority of our grain leaves the Port on Lakers for transloading onto ocean vessels in Quebec destined for customers in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America. We also load ocean vessels for direct export," added Heney.

Up North Live, Duluth News Tribune,


Port Reports -  March 26

Toronto, Ont. – Jens Juhl
While most of the inner harbor is still covered in ice there is a clear swath of water between the city side ferry terminal and Wards Island. Nevertheless the Ongiara is operating on a reduced schedule with hourly sailings. A disclaimer warns that times can be changed due to weather and ice conditions and mechanical issues. At Redpath, technicians from Top Lift Enterprises were checking out the Sennebogen unloader and getting it ready for another season. The tug M.R. Kane has been busy breaking ice in the east end of the harbor. Yesterday it broke ice in the ship channel and this afternoon the tug was working in the ice around the Toronto Drydock and the Pineglen.


Seaway salties expected in Montreal and Great Lakes

3/26 - With the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway on April 2 a few saltwater vessels are expected to arrive in Montreal with Great Lakes destinations. Among the confirmed arrivals are the tanker Sloman Hermes of Antigua and Barbuda, arriving on March 25 from Algeciras, Spain. They will be heading to Mississauga, Ont. The Tundra of Cyprus flag is due on March 31 from Santos, Brazil with sugar for Toronto, Ont. Due on April 2 is the Resko of the Bahamas flag, from Ijmuiden, Netherlands with a cargo of steel for Cleveland, Ohio. Three saltwater vessels in Montreal could possibly be headed for Great Lakes destinations. The Harbour Pioneer, a tanker from Portugal, is due to arrive March 26 with no destination listed. The tanker Adfines Star is currently in Montreal with no destination listed. HC Eva Maria from Antigua/Barbuda is in Montreal with a departure date of March 31 with no destination given. She arrived from Balboa, Panama. Other saltwater vessels expected to arrive during April are the Federal Danube, Amstelborg, Federal Maas, Federal Asahi, Andesborg (making its first visit to the system), Federal Weser, Federal Mattawa and the Federal Hunter, all of which have Great Lakes/Seaway destinations and ports listed.

Denny Dushane


Shipping, ferry service to be delayed in Georgian Bay due to ice

3/26 - Owen Sound, Ont. – In Owen Sound harbor, three large ships, including the ferry that carries travellers to Manitoulin Island remains frozen firmly in place and for the first time in 18 years, the official opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway is being delayed until April 2 because of heavy ice conditions.

The Canadian Coast Guard is expected to send an icebreaker to free these ships sometime in early April, but the ferry Chi-Cheemaun could be delayed even longer because the vessel is designed for summer operation and floating chunks of ice could damage it.

The president of the Owen Sound Transportation Company, Susan Schrempf, says the Chi-Cheemaun's spring sailing schedule has been pushed back to May 5 after it makes its annual cruise north to Tobermory.

“The sailing schedule has been delayed, but only by a few days based on our experience in 2014,” says Schrempf. “We did not want to wait until the last minute to make this announcement. “

The company says now that the decision has been made to delay the start of the ferry season, it will not reschedule again even if the ice does clear from the bay.



Algoeast sale

3/26 - The new owners of the former Algoma Central tanker Algoeast (which they have renamed Go East) have been identified as Arida Trade LLP, a company registered in Edinburgh, Scotland, that operates a small a bunkering tanker, Al Muntazah, built in 1982 and flying the Moldovan flag.

Current managers of the Go East are Redwise Marine Services of the Netherlands, a ship delivery company, that often registers the ships it is delivering under the St. Vincent and Grenadines flag for the delivery voyage only. (They delivered Groupe Ocean's tug/barge Mega + Motti under the same flag for its delivery trip.) It is therefore anticipated that Go East will become a bunkering tanker in the western Black Sea, in Bulgaria, Romania and the Ukraine.

Mac Mackay


Pipe Island Passage to open

3/26 - Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. – The Captain of the Port will open Pipe Island Passage in the lower St. Marys River effective at 8 a.m. March 28. A Coast Guard icebreaker will conduct icebreaking operations to open the Pipe Island Passage, north and east of Pipe Island.



Steel in crisis: Congress to hear about state of industry

3/26 - Nearly a third of the steel being purchased in the United States is being made by foreign steelworkers, and it's taking a toll.

Steelmakers have idled mills, including East Chicago Tin. Thousands nationwide, including all recent hires at U.S. Steel's Gary Works, have been laid off. Steelworkers fear more cuts are coming.

Congress is looking to do something about it.

Congressman Pete Visclosky, D-Merrillville, and Congressman Tim Murphy, R-Pa., will lead the Congressional Steel Caucus's annual "State of Steel" hearing Thursday. The bipartisan group of federal lawmakers will hear about the market turbulence that's shook the domestic steel industry, as well as international trade practices, currency valuation and steel market needs.

Members of the caucus will talk with top industry executives, including U.S. Steel President and CEO Mario Longhi, ArcelorMittal USA Chairman Michael Rippey, and Nucor Corp. CEO and President John Ferriola. They will discuss how trade policies are affecting manufacturing, particularly the production of the internationally traded commodity steel.

Other subjects will include tax reform and infrastructure funding, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute.

United Steelworkers International President Leo Gerard and a host of industry experts also will tell Congress about what's ailing an industry where capacity utilization has fallen below 70 percent and production trails last year's rate by more than 5 percent.

NWI Times


Shipwreck fragment reappears along Lake Michigan

3/26 - Empire, Mich. – Finding pieces of shipwrecks is relatively common in northern Michigan, but when and where they will show up is hard to predict.

The melting ice and high water levels helped a fragment of a shipwreck reappear on the shoreline in Empire. It's believed to be from the Jennie & Annie schooner that came ashore in 1872.

"The water levels change, the lakeshore’s currents change, storms come along and the beach gets eroded, and those things are here or they are offshore and sometimes they come ashore," said Laura Quackenbush, a historian with the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

It’s a piece they've seen many times before, with the last time being in 2012. But due to the changing water levels, they never know when it'll appear. “It just changes all the time,” said Quackenbush.

She said the Manitou Passage was one of the most traveled stretches of Lake Michigan, causing lots of shipwrecks in the area.

"Since a lot of boat traffic came through here especially in the 19th century without the kind of navigation equipment we have today lots of them foundered, came ashore, were wrecked or beached and were refloated along the shoreline," said Quackenbush.

She said whether you're diving or wandering the beach, it's possible to stumble upon shipwrecks.

"You may look at this today and then you may not see it for five or 10 years and may come back when you bring your grand kids and go ‘oh, there it is again’,” said Quackenbush. “So it makes that kind of wonderful, that self-discovery which is possible with the shoreline shipwrecks."

Up North Live


Bob McGreevy to talk about loss of Key Stone State April 18

3/26 - Port Huron, Mich. – Marine artist and historian Robert McGreevy will offer a presentation on the loss of the steamer Key Stone State April 18 at 1 p.m. at the Port Huron Museum. She disappeared with her entire crew during a storm in Lake Huron after being spotted off the tip of Michigan's Thumb. It was in the opening years of the Civil War and there was much mystery and speculation about the cargo she carried. The presentation consists of original artwork by McGreevy and period photographs from his personal collection. There will also be underwater footage of the ship taken after her discovery in 2014.


Lookback #494 – Alice M. Gill caught fire at Sandusky on March 26, 1935

The small wooden bulk carrier Alice M. Gill had been built as a tug. It was constructed by Duncan Robertson at Grand Haven, Michigan, and completed for W.F. Gill in 1887.

The 140 foot long, oak-hulled, vessel was used for log rafting and towing on behalf of the owner's saw mill. It was converted to a lighthouse tender in 1905 and then to a bulk carrier in 1912.

The latter work was carried out by the Lake Erie Drydocks & Transport Co. in Sandusky, Ohio, and the ship, still sporting the original name, worked for the Kelley Island Lime & Transport Co.

The Alice M. Gill operated through 1926 and then was idle at Sandusky. The ship caught fire there 80 years ago today and was a total loss. What remained of the hull was broken up for scrap.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  March 26

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.


Three vessels headed for locks, but ice in upper river a concern

3/25 - Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. – As night fell Tuesday, the upbound Edwin H. Gott, followed by the Roger Blough, were stopped until daylight below Mission Point. The cutter Mobile Bay was hove to near Nine Mile and the cutter Mackinaw was above the locks. The Gott, expected to be the first upbounder for the season, followed by the Blough, will tie on the locks pier to await an improvement in ice conditions above the locks before passing through. The locks officially open at 12:01 a.m. today.

At 10 p.m. Tuesday, John G. Munson and the cutter Alder were downbound off Marquette. The Munson will be the first downbound passage.

The public is invited to the annual open house to celebrate the first day of shipping at the Soo Locks Visitors Center, hosted by the Soo Locks Visitors Center Association. Join them for light refreshments, hopefully some nice views of the Gott and Blough from the park and a chance to share boat stories with like-minded folks. The open house runs from 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. Wednesday.

This will not be the first time that the Gott has opened the shipping season at the Soo Locks. In 2004 the Gott was also the first vessel. This will also be the second consecutive season that a vessel from the Great Lakes Fleet has also opened the Soo Locks. In 2014 the Cason J. Callaway became the first vessel on April 4 to open the Soo downbound, while fleetmate Roger Blough was the first upbound vessel.

Prior to the 2014 season, the Interlake Steamship Co. had their vessels open the Soo Locks from the 2010-2013 shipping seasons. The last time that a Canadian vessel opened the Soo Locks was during the 2009 season, when the tanker Algosar became the first vessel.

Denny Dushane


Port Reports -  March 25

Taconite Harbor, Minn.
Mesabi Miner arrived Tuesday afternoon with a cargo of coal.


Ice and cold delay opening of St. Lawrence Seaway

3/25 - Toronto, Ont. – It may officially be spring, but lingering cold weather has prompted the St. Lawrence Seaway to delay its opening, originally scheduled for Friday, until April.

“To no one’s surprise, the extended bout of cold weather has adjusted many plans including the Seaway’s,” said spokesman Andrew Bogora, noting the thickness of ice sheets on the Seaway and on the Great Lakes is a factor. “Due to the recent cold snap, the melting of ice has taken place at a leisurely pace,” he said.

The Seaway is now slated to open to ships on April 2 – the first time that’s happened that late since 1997. It usually opens around March 25, give or a take a few days.

Even when the Seaway — which extends from Montreal to mid-Lake Erie, using a system of locks — does open, it will be a slow ramp-up. “It will likely be a week before shipping picks up in earnest,” said Bogora.

Robert Lewis-Manning, president and CEO of the Canadian Shipowners Association, said his members supported the delay. “There’s no point sitting in ice because it’s not delivering cargo,” he said.

But with the target opening date looming, Lewis-Manning worries that the incredible winter conditions that remain from Lake Superior to the East Coast means additional Coast Guard ice breakers won’t be moved to the Great Lakes as they were last year.

“Demand on the East Coast is greater than it was. It’s forcing the Coast Guard to spread their assets thinly,” he said, pointing to the exceptional ice buildup on the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Earlier this month, passenger ferry service was suspended between Quebec and Newfoundland at one point, and a Marine Atlantic ferry from Nova Scotia to Newfoundland got stuck in ice, and had to have an ice breaker rescue it.

“It is stop-and-go about how the Coast Guard may be able to respond to the conditions in a week’s time,” Lewis-Manning said. “We need predictability and reliability for customers who are shipping. This doesn’t just affect the ship owners. It affects the supply chain.”

Because many ships are docked across the Great Lakes for maintenance, some may need assistance from ice breakers to get out of ports.

“In parts of the Great Lakes, deliberate escorts will be needed at the beginning, especially Lake Erie and Lake Superior,” he said.

The locks at Sault Ste. Marie are scheduled to open at midnight on Wednesday — with a U.S. freighter carrying iron ore from Duluth, Minn., expected to be the first to cross downstream. Four empty freighters will be heading the opposite direction to collect iron ore.

“Last year’s winter was record-setting. It was the worst ice in 35 years, in terms of coverage and thickness,” said Mark Gill, director of vessel traffic services for the U.S. Coast Guard in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.

When the locks there opened last year on March 25, the first ship didn’t pass through until April 4.

“This year, the ice coverage is similar, but we have nowhere near the thickness. It’s up to 35 per cent less,” he said in a telephone interview, noting on eastern Lake Superior some ice is only 2 feet compared with 4 feet a year ago.

But that doesn’t mean it is easy work. “You still have to smash through it and break it. It’s a contact sport,” said Gill, but added Lake Erie and Lake Ontario have more ice than last year, leading to the Seaway’s later opening.

“It gives Mother Nature a chance to warm up,” he said.

The U.S. and Canadian Coast Guard co-ordinate their efforts with eight U.S. ice breakers and two Canadian ones — Griffon and Samuel Risley — on the Great Lakes, with the possibility of two additional Canadian ones coming, said Gill. “We have enough to make due,” he said, adding if a path is opened, sunlight and warmer air can help. “Once we get some traffic going, it helps to demolish the ice.”

In an emailed statement, the Canadian Coast Guard said it has to prioritize activities for services over a vast area.

“A number of large winter storms in February, accompanied by strong winds and cold temperatures, have contributed to the rapid development of thick ice,” said Johnny Leclair, regional director of fleet for the Canadian Coast Guard’s Central and Arctic region.

Leclair said in the email that the ice breaker Martha L. Black should arrive in the Seaway by Wednesday, and the ice breaker Pierre Radisson, based near Quebec City, will head to the Great Lakes within the next week.

The Star


2015 S.S. Badger Gathering reservations now being taken

3/25 - 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, May 30. 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, May 29, 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. Make your reservation today.

See the Gathering Page for all the details.


Seven Pacesetter ports announced

3/25 - Washington, D.C. – The U.S. Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation has announced that seven U.S. ports in the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway System are receiving the prestigious Robert J. Lewis Pacesetter Award for registering increases in international cargo tonnage shipped through their ports during the 2014 navigation season compared to the previous year.

The winners of the Pacesetter Award for 2014 are the Port of Indiana - Burns Harbor, the Port of Erie, the Port of Duluth-Superior, the Port of Milwaukee, the Port of Cleveland, the Port of Toledo, and the Port of Oswego.

“The Great Lakes Seaway System realized a 7.6 percent tonnage increase from 2013 to 2014, a strong performance that reflects the increasing strength of the overall economy,” said SLSDC Administrator Betty Sutton. “Marine transportation remains a catalyst for jobs and productivity for the local economies where these ports are situated and throughout the Great Lakes region.”

Commodities accounting for almost all of the increases in international cargo handled by the seven Pacesetter port winners included asphalt, petroleum products, aluminum, steel, and grain.

High value project cargo such as locomotive cars, electrical transformers and fermentation tanks were also handled during the 2014 navigation season.

American Great Lakes Ports Association


Report on health of Canada’s waters accuses Ottawa of willful negligence

3/25 - Canada is taking its vast freshwater resources for granted, wrecking them in the process, says a scathing new report.

Titled Blue Betrayal, it also warns that climate change; industrial farming; melting glaciers; oil, gas and mineral extraction; and dumping of waste — sometimes toxic waste — into our waterways are all growing threats to our diminishing water supplies.

The report, authored by Maude Barlow of the Council of Canadians, a non-governmental organization, accuses Ottawa of turning its back on water resources to advance the interests of the energy industry.

“On both sides of the border, we continue to see the Great Lakes as a dumping ground for our toxic waste, and more recently, as a carbon corridor to transport tar sands bitumen, fracked gas and fracking wastewater,” Barlow said on Monday, calling those the “most dangerous energy sources on Earth.”

A big chunk of the report talks about the steps Ottawa has taken that have made freshwater resources more vulnerable, such as targeting scientific institutes and projects that did important work. Included in that list is the plan to dismantle the Experimental Lakes Area (ELA), the world’s leading freshwater research institute.

The facility has been saved, at least temporarily, by the Ontario and Manitoba governments.

The report also accuses past Liberal and Conservative governments of allowing Canada’s lakes, rivers and groundwater to deteriorate.

Environment Canada did not respond to a request for comment.

The report comes on the heels of World Water Day, marked last Sunday. It doesn’t paint a healthy picture of the Great Lakes, a source of livelihood for more than 40 million people in Canada and U.S.

It says there are at least 204 pollutants in the Great Lakes, including plastic in various forms. Fish in the Great Lakes are loaded with contaminants such as mercury, dioxins and lead, it adds. The state of the Great Lakes is particularly worrisome for environmentalists because of blue-green algae, which has made a comeback in recent years.

Mark Mattson of Lake Ontario Waterkeeper says Toledo’s drinking water advisory last summer was a wake-up call that “we can’t take the Great Lakes for granted.”

Toledo’s nearly 500,000 residents were told not to use water for drinking, cooking or bathing in August 2014 after tests at a treatment plant showed dangerous toxin levels due to a toxic algae bloom in Lake Erie, from which the city draws its drinking water.

“You don’t expect communities around the Great Lakes to have any drinking water advisories,” said Mattson. “We mainly see these advisories in small, rural communities … because the Great Lakes can mask these problems for much longer than these small places.”

This report isn’t the only one this week warning of the dire consequences of misusing water resources: a United Nations report, released in New Delhi, warned there could be a 40 per cent shortfall in water globally in 15 years unless countries dramatically change their use of the resource.

The world’s population is expected to grow to 9 billion by 2050 and more groundwater will be needed for farming, industry and personal consumption, said the report.

Demand for water will increase 55 per cent by 2050, it said. But many underground water reserves are already running low and rainfall patterns are predicted to become more erratic with climate change, the report pointed out.

The Star


Lookback #493 – T'ween deck of Rocroi collapsed on March 25, 1966

The French freighter Rocroi was a Seaway trader in 1959. The ship had been built at Bordeaux, France, the previous year and was primarily a deep-sea traveler.

Rocroi had loaded tractors, automobiles and steel in Germany and France for North American delivery and arrived at Halifax on March 25, 1966. The t'ween deck area collapsed crushing many of the cars and tractors when tons of steel came crashing down.

Despite the mess, the ship was unloaded and repaired. It returned to work, still registered in France, but under the name b) Louis Delmas later in 1966. It became c) Christina I a decade later with registry now in Cyprus.

Other sales brought the names of d) Keharitomeni in 1979 and then e) Theoupolis in 1982. Registry remained in Cyprus but none of the owners sent the ship back to the Great Lakes.

The vessel was badly damaged after hitting a mine about 18 miles off Mohka, Yemen, on a voyage to Berbera, Somalia, on August 15, 1984, and had to be laid up. After 26 years of service, the vessel was sold to Indian shipbreakers and arrived at Alang on Sept. 30, 1984, to be broken up.

Skip Gillham


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.


Soo Locks prepare for first vessel arrivals of 2015 season

3/24 - With less than a day left before the official opening of the Soo Locks at 12:01 a.m. on March 25, the Soo Locks are preparing for the first vessel arrivals.

On March 23 the 1,000-footer Edwin H. Gott, expected to be the first upbound vessel at the locks, was passing Mackinaw Island by 10 p.m. with assistance from the USCG Cutter Biscayne Bay. Meanwhile, at the west end of Lake Superior, the John G. Munson departed Duluth bound for Gary with a load of taconite pellets. The Munson is expected to be the first downbound vessel at the Soo Locks.

This is also the second consecutive season in a row that vessels from the Great Lakes Fleet have opened the Soo Locks. In 2014 the Cason J. Callaway was the first vessel arrival on April 4 to lock through and was also the first downbound vessel. The Callaway's fleetmate the Roger Blough was the first upbound vessel at the Soo Locks in 2014.

Denny Dushane


Tanker Algoeast sold overseas

3/24 - After laying up in Sydney Harbor, N.S., over the winter the Algoma Central Corp. tanker Algoeast sailed Monday for Gibraltar. Now flying the flag of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the ship has been renamed Go East.

Mac Mackay


Madeline Island ferry breaks trail

3/24 - Bayfield, Wis. – The ferry Island Queen bucked thick ice as it made its first run on Monday, March 23, connecting Bayfield, Wisconsin with Madeline Island on the South Shore of Lake Superior.

The Queen left Bayfield on an exploratory trip to break ice in and around the harbor at around noon, running about 1/2 mile offshore before hitting solid ice around 16" thick. After returning to the dock they gave it some more thought and decided to try the entire crossing, finding an easier trail that passed in some places through 24" inches of ice that was half-deteriorated with candled ice. They touched the La Pointe Town Dock on the island shortly after 4 p.m.

The Town of La Pointe's passenger carrying windsled will make the first morning trips tomorrow before the ferry begins its regular schedule with the 11:30 morning trip.

The ice road to the Island was open for 57 days this winter, slightly above the long term average of about 45 days. It closed officially 12 days ago, although there had been some car travel until this last weekend.

Tim Eldred


Port Reports -  March 24

Duluth, Minn. – Ed Labernik
John G. Munson departed Duluth at 4:30 pm Monday. The Munson loaded iron ore pellets at CN Duluth and is downbound for Gary, Ind.

St. Marys River
Spring breakout continues, with the USCG cutter Mackinaw locking upbound on a sunny Monday to conduct ice operations above the locks and on Whitefish Bay in preparation for Wednesday’s season opener. Meanwhile, Roger Blough was expected in the river sometime Tuesday, ice permitting, after passing Port Huron upbound late Monday afternoon.

Escanaba, Mich.
Joyce L. VanEnkevort and barge Great Lakes Trader departed winter layup Monday. Wilfred Sykes is already headed back for another load of taconite, her second of the season.

Sturgeon Bay, Wis.
Edgar B. Speer left winter layup late Monday afternoon, headed for Lake Superior.


Coast Guard plans to open West Neebish Channel on Thursday

3/24 - Vessel Traffic Service St. Marys River will open the waters between Nine Mile Point and Sawmill Point effective 8 a.m. March 26.

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 and can be reached at (906) 635-3230.


St. Ignace and Mackinac Island waters to open

3/24 - Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. - The Coast Guard will open the waters between St. Ignace and Mackinac Island at 8 a.m. on March 27.


Great Lakes levels high as spring begins

3/24 - Green Bay, Wis. – An early freeze this winter season helped set the stage for major ice coverage of the Great Lakes, usually a good sign that water levels will remain high for most of the year.

"For the Lake Michigan-Huron basin, we'll be eight to nine inches above average for the next six months," said Lauren Fry, lead forecaster for the Army Corps of Engineers in Detroit, which monitors lake levels.

She made the comment this week, just as winter officially drew to a close at the start of the vernal equinox, which began in this time zone at 5:15 p.m. Friday.

Lake levels are usually at their seasonal low in winter, just before the spring melt-off. Because of good ice cover and heavy snow in the last two years, water levels have been on the high side, Fry said. This winter, the basin didn't experience much snow, but good ice cover limited evaporation, which preserved water levels.

"We were starting at a pretty high water level to begin with," Fry said.

Spring won't bring a large increase to water levels because much of the snow already has melted off, she said.

"The lower part of the basin is already melted, so we're not going to see the big rise in stream discharge to the lakes like we did last year," she said. "That snow is already melted. It's still melting in Superior and Huron, but not like we saw last year."

Green Bay Press Gazette


Lookback #492 – Lakeside sank during fit out at Port Dalhousie on March 24, 1905

It was 110 years ago today that the popular Lake Ontario passenger ferry Lakeside sank at its dock at Port Dalhousie. The ship was getting ready for the new season when water was sucked in through an open seacock after the engine filling the boiler shut down.

Lakeside settled on the bottom at the dock on March 24, 1905, but was soon refloated and able to return to work.

The ship was built at Windsor in 1888 and initially used for service between Detroit, Windsor, Leamington and Pelee Island. It came to Lake Ontario for the run between Toronto and Port Dalhousie late that first year.

Lakeside provided excursion as well as scheduled service but was retired in 1911 with the arrival of the new Dalhousie City. Its glamorous work was over but the ship saw additional service carrying supplies to construction sites, before being rebuilt as a tug at Toronto about 1920. Renamed b) Joseph L. Russell, the ship pushed company barges and equipment and also worked as a wrecking tug.

It moved to the Sin Mac Lines in 1929, via merger, but foundered in heavy weather off Point Petre, Lake Ontario, on Nov. 15, 1929. Those on board were able to take to the lifeboat and reached the safety of Cobourg, Ontario.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  March 24

Weekly Website Updates
News Photo Gallery
Lay-up list updated

Site updates
Last year, BoatNerd started a website redesign project that would have made it easier for more people to get involved, however that project did not go as planned. We are now looking for designers, web developers and a project manager to help revamp the BoatNerd site. We have a modest budget to accomplish the redesign and would rather hire these services based on recommendations from our users.
In addition, we've had technical difficulties with our mailing list over the past year and are rebuilding that service. We have also had staffing challenges that have delayed the website updates at times; we are always looking for volunteers to help with content or the non-profit that supports the site. Please e-mail if you can help


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.


Port Reports -  March 23

Duluth, Minn.
John G. Munson left her layup berth at Superior on Sunday, fueled, then headed over to load taconite at the CN dock. Expected to depart on Monday, she will likely make the first downbound passage at the Soo Locks, en route to Gary, Ind.

Detroit, Mich.
The upbound Alpena made it to Detroit on Sunday, where it fueled at the Mistersky dock. By early evening she was in the lower part of the St. Clair River near Algonac, and by 11 p.m. had made it out into Lake Huron.

Milwaukee, Wis.
Edwin H. Gott departed layup Sunday morning bound for Two Harbors, Minn.


Concerns arise after former Canadian Navy ship Cormorant topples in N.S. harbor

3/23 - Bridgewater, N.S. – Residents in Bridgewater are growing increasingly concerned after a former Royal Canadian Navy ship docked in the town's harbor tilted over due to heavy ice and snow.

The vessel, previously commissioned as HMCS Cormorant, has been sitting in LaHave River with a 40-degree list since Wednesday.

The trouble began a few weeks ago, when the Canadian Coast Guard says ice and snow collected on the ship's deck, causing it to tilt. And when water found its way into the hold on Wednesday, the ship started to sink.

"The vessel seems to be sitting on the bottom, as it sits right now," Keith Laidlaw, a senior response officer with the Coast Guard, told CTV Atlantic. "It hasn't moved through the tide cycles in the last couple of days, so we don't believe it will move anymore, but that is speculation.”

Locals are concerned that the damage incurred to the vessel could lead to chemicals spilling into the river.

"My kids got to grow up (here) and … I don't want him to have to not be able to go into the water here, just because of pollutants," said Donnie Walker.

The ship contains nearly 200 litres of diesel fuel, as well as some lubrication oil and hydraulic fluids in the main engine crankcases.

What was once a proud part of the Canadian Forces, is now considered an eyesore by Bridgewater residents.

"I hope they can get it up there, I don't know what's causing it to go that way, they say it's the ice, but I don’t know," said Margaret Schmeisser.

Local fire crews have been called in by the ship's owners to help clean the ice and snow off the deck. The hope was that inspectors could then gain access to the hatches and inspect the ship's hold.

The Coast Guard says that refloating a ship of this size is expected to be a complex and expensive process, which may require special equipment from outside the province.

The ship, which began as an Italian fishing trawler, was involved in several high-profile missions as a Royal Canadian Navy dive tender.

The onboard mini-sub was used to recover the bell from the wreck of the SS Edmund Fitzgerald, which sank in Lake Superior in 1975 after it was hit by a storm.

The sub was also used to visit the wreck of the Breadalbane, which was a British merchant barque that was crushed by ice and sank in the Arctic in 1853. Following the disappearance John Franklin's expedition to the Northwest Passage, the Breadalbane helped to supply the vessels that were searching Arctic waters for Franklin and his crew.

The vessel has changed hands a couple times since its days in the navy, and now belongs to a group of creditors who hope to sell it.

Cormorant transited the Seaway during the season 1989, and also the seasons 1994 to 1997.

CTV News, René Beauchamp


Lookback #491 – Former Seaway Discoverer arrived at Kaohsiung for scrap on March 23, 1969

The British freighter Seaway Discoverer was the first ship chartered by Federal Commerce & Navigation (now Fednav) for Seaway trading in 1959. The vessel carried iron ore from Sept-Iles to Great Lakes ports and departed with grain.

The ship had been built as the tanker Auricula and launched at Newcastle, England, on April 17, 1946. The 484-foot-long British vessel was sold in 1955 and converted to the bulk carrier b) Don Demetrio in 1956 for Liberian flag service.

It joined the Falaise Steamship Co. Ltd. in 1959 and was chartered out as c) Seaway Discoverer. It was an appropriate name but short lived. The ship was resold in 1961 and sailed as d) Captain Minas trading into the Great Lakes under the flag of Lebanon that year.

It was 46 years ago today that the ship arrived at Kaohsiung, Taiwan, for dismantling. Work on breaking up the hull began on June 20, 1969, and was likely completed before the end of the year.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  March 23

Weekly Website Updates return
News Photo Gallery
Lay-up list updated


Today in Great Lakes History -  March 23

The National Transportation Safety Board unanimously voted on March 23,1978, to reject the U. S. Coast Guard's official report supporting the theory of faulty hatches in their EDMUND FITZGERALD investigation. Later the N.T.S.B. revised its verdict and reached a majority vote to agree that the sinking was caused by taking on water through one or more hatch covers damaged by the impact of heavy seas over her deck. This is contrary to the Lake Carriers Association's contention that her foundering was caused by flooding through bottom and ballast tank damage resulting from bottoming on the Six Fathom Shoal between Caribou and Michipicoten Islands.

On 23 March 1850, TROY (wooden side-wheel passenger/package freighter, 182 foot, 546 tons, built in 1845, at Maumee, Ohio) exploded and burned at Black Rock, New York. Up to 22 lives were lost. She was recovered and rebuilt the next year and lasted until 1860.

On 23 March 1886, Mr. D. N. Runnels purchased the tug KITTIE HAIGHT.

The 3,280 ton motor vessel YANKCANUCK commanded by Captain W. E. Dexter, docked at the Canadian Soo on 23 March 1964, to officially open the 1964 navigation season for that port. Captain Dexter received the traditional silk hat from Harbormaster Frank Parr in a brief ceremony aboard the vessel. The ship arrived in the Sault from Windsor, Ontario. Captain Dexter said the trip from Windsor was uneventful and he had no trouble with ice. This was the first time a ship from the Yankcanuck line had 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.


Alpena underway as spring traffic slowly gets moving

3/22 - The steamer Alpena departed her lay up berth in Cleveland Saturday morning. She was at anchor at Southeast Shoal for the night and will continue Sunday morning under coast guard escort. She’s in ballast and heading for her namesake port to load her first cargo. The tug Manitou has left her dock in Port Huron and was in Alpena breaking ice. The tug assisted the Samuel de Champlain with the barge Innovation when they arrived late Saturday night and will assist the Alpena when she arrives in the next few days. The cutter Griffon with the Algocanada was downbound Saturday evening and entered Lake Erie from the Detroit River bound for Nanticoke. Alpena and possibly the Blough may be waiting for the Griffon/Algocanada to pass by where they can use their track in the ice before they can proceed for the Detroit River. Meanwhile, the Roger Blough was reported stuck off Erie, Pa.

Dan McNeil, Jim Hoffman


Port Reports -  March 22

Escanaba, Mich. – Rod Burdick
Wilfred Sykes arrived Saturday at the CN ore dock and loaded her first cargo of the 2015-16 shipping season.


2015 edition of “Know Your Ships” is now available

3/22 - Spring is here, and so is the release of "Know Your Ships 2015," the popular annual field guide to boats and boatwatching.

Included in the 184-page, illustrated booklet, on sale now, 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.

Standard binding and spiral binding are available.

"Know Your Ships," now in its 56th 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 steamer Alpena arriving at Duluth.

Editor / publisher Roger LeLievre, as well as members of the “KYS” crew, will also be on hand to autograph copies Saturday, April 18 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 or order at


Lookback #490 – Third Hamildoc delivered to new owners on March 22, 1977

The third ship to sail in the Paterson fleet as Hamildoc was built at Lauzon, Quebec, and launched on June 24, 1963. The ship was upbound in the Welland Canal for the first time on Sept. 22, 1963.

The 315-foot-long by 49-foot, 3-inch-wide cargo ship was registered at 3358 gross tons and able to carry 5400 tons deadweight.

Hamildoc served Paterson customers on the Great Lakes, St. Lawrence and around Maritime Canada. It was chartered to Algoma Steel for part of 1974 to carry finished steel from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, to Burns Harbor, Indiana. It was also chartered to Chimo Shipping for Arctic resupply service in 1976.

Hamildoc served on saltwater carrying newsprint to Florida during the winter of 1976-1977.

Paterson sold Hamildoc to Tharros Navigation Ltd. of Monrovia, Liberia, and it was delivered to the new owner at Shelburne, Nova Scotia, on March 22, 1977. Renamed b) Tharros, it headed south for new service although was noted to return to Canada for a trip as far as Montreal in the summer of 1977.

Later registered in Panama, Tharros was tied up at Santa Domingo, Dominican Republic, on Dec. 10, 1982. It was idle until sold to local shipbreakers and the hull was broken up for scrap by Hector Rodrieguez & Co. during 1987-1988.

Skip Gillham


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 was 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.


Soo-area ice is thick, but it's been thicker

3/21 - Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. – As Canadian and U.S. coast guards break ice on the Great Lakes, the Soo Locks are scheduled to open March 25. The U.S. Coast Guard, which has already begun ice-breaking in the St. Marys River, has announced it will extend operations to the upper river next Monday.

"We have two or three freighters looking to come through that first day (March 25), and that will depend on if they are able to make it without complications either in the Straits of Mackinac or in the Detroit area as they come from Cleveland," said Ken Curry, U.S. Coast Guard vessel traffic management specialist.

"The Coast Guard cutter Mobile Bay is working in the Sault Locks approaches today (Thursday) helping get the ice out of the approach, so they (locks personnel) can do some last minute maintenance so they can open for the shipping season," Curry said.

"We currently have three vessels working in the St. Marys River right now," Curry said.

Those vessels are the U.S. Coast Guard cutters Katmai Bay, Mobile Bay, and the Mackinaw. A fourth vessel, the Biscayne Bay, originally assigned to the St. Marys River, has been sent back to take care of ice breaking in the Straits of Mackinac.

"The overall conditions (in terms of the amount of ice to be cut, and its thickness) are currently less than they were at this time last year…the ice is very thick (in some areas) but overall at this point in time it's less than last year," Curry said.

On Monday March 23, the United States Coast Guard will begin breaking ice in Whitefish Bay and the Upper St Marys River. Initially, U.S. Coast Guard cutters Mackinaw and Alder will perform the work.

On Monday, the Mackinaw will transit the Soo Locks to establish tracks from the upper St Marys River to the ice edge in eastern Lake Superior. The ship will join the Alder, sailing from Duluth, Minn., and together prepare tracks in Whitefish Bay. At the start, the two ships will limit their ice breaking activities to the charted Lake Carriers Association (LCA) track lines. Eventually all the ice in Whitefish Bay and the upper St Marys River will be broken to facilitate its deterioration.

All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) operators, snowmobilers and other recreational users of the ice should avoid any proximity to the shipping channels, plan their activity carefully, and use caution near the ice. Additionally, all ice fishermen should remove their ice shacks from areas close to the shipping channels.

USCG, Soo Today


2015 season to get underway Monday at Duluth-Superior

3/21 - Duluth, Minn. – The first two U.S.-flag lakers are on schedule to depart the Port of Duluth-Superior on Monday, March 23, signaling the start of the 2015 commercial shipping season at this end of the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway system.

On Sunday morning, the John G. Munson, with an assist from Heritage Marine tugs, is set to move from its winter berth at Fraser Shipyards in Superior to first fuel at the Port Terminal then shift over to the CN Duluth Dock to load 24,000 short tons of iron ore pellets. On Monday morning, the Munson is slated to depart beneath the Aerial Bridge, destined for Gary, Ind.

Late Monday afternoon/early evening, the Mesabi Miner is expected to depart from the Superior Midwest Energy Terminal with some 57,000 tons of coal onboard for the power plant at Taconite Harbor. After making that delivery, the 1,000-footer will return to the Twin Ports for a couple of days of scheduled maintenance work and to load its next coal cargo.

While Lake Superior looks bright blue in the early spring sunshine, there is still a significant amount of ice cover on the eastern edge of the lake – two to three feet thick from Whitefish Point to the St. Marys River. As such, U.S. Coast Guard cutter Alder will be working in tandem with USCGC Mackinaw to lay tracks and provide escorts for vessels as needed through that eastern ice pack to and from the Soo Locks.

At this time, the Munson is expected to be the first downbound commercial vessel in position to transit the Soo Locks this season. It also appears there may be four upbound vessels waiting below the Soo Locks when they reopen at 12:01 a.m. on Wed., March 25 – Edwin H. Gott, Edgar B. Speer, Roger Blough and the Algoma Olympic.

“Against what seemed like insurmountable odds, with everything Mother Nature threw at us from beginning to end, the Port of Duluth-Superior wrapped up the 2014 shipping season a full 2.3 percent ahead of expectations, having moved over 37.5 million short tons of cargo,” said Vanta Coda, Duluth Seaway Port Authority executive director. “There are still some formidable ice challenges along the Great Lakes-Seaway, but nowhere near what the fleets were facing at this same time last year.

“We anticipate a banner year here at the Port Terminal for project cargo moving through Duluth in 2015,” added Coda. “This port sits at the nexus of multiple energy sectors, so we’ll be seeing several shipments of equipment heading in from Europe and elsewhere destined for wind energy installations and oil/gas fields further north and west. All told, the Port of Duluth-Superior should see a two percent increase in activity during 2015. Headwinds do exist in the decline of commodity pricing (e.g. iron ore and oil). And the strengthening U.S. dollar will challenge exports, however import prospects will improve,” he said.

It’s a bit harder to predict the arrival of the port’s first oceangoing vessel. The Seaway locks (the Montreal/Lake Ontario section and Welland Canal) won’t reopen for business this year until April 2, so it will be at least another week later before the port of Duluth-Superior will see its first saltie.

That first saltie to pass beneath the Aerial Lift Bridge will be greeted by maritime officials with a welcoming ceremony and will also qualify a winner for the annual First Ship Contest sponsored by the Duluth Seaway Port Authority and Visit Duluth. Last year, due to dramatic ice conditions, the Port’s first saltie, the Diana, didn’t arrive until May 7, the latest on record.

Of the five vessels that wintered over in the Twin Ports for repair and maintenance, the remaining three – Kaye E. Barker, American Integrity and the Indiana Harbor – aren’t scheduled to depart until late March or early April.

Close to 1,000 ships visit the Port of Duluth-Superior each year, moving roughly 38 million tons of cargo – iron ore, coal, grain, limestone, cement, salt, plus project cargo and more. As the largest tonnage port on the Great Lakes-Seaway, cargo movements through the Port of Duluth-Superior support 11,500 jobs and contribute over $1.5 billion in business revenues to the local/regional economy. For more info:

All vessel arrival/departure times are estimates and may change without notice. For updated times, please consult the Boatwatchers Hotline: (218)722-6489 or


Port Reports -  March 21

Sturgeon Bay, Wis.
Wilfred Sykes departed layup Friday evening headed to load in Escanaba, Mich.

Erie, Pa.
Roger Blough got underway late Friday afternoon, headed for the upper lakes on her first trip of the season.

Toronto, Ont. – Jens Juhl
The ferry Ongiara has resumed scheduled ferry service to Wards Island. The service had been suspended due to extremely heavy ice conditions. In order to travel to the mainland during that time the islanders had to make a time consuming tortuous commute via the Billy Bishop City Airport ferry. This past Tuesday morning the tug M.R. Kane broke the ice in the approaches to the East Gap and the Ships Channel and both are now ice free. Over on the bow of the Algoma Navigator welders are have replaced a considerable amount of platework on the stem.


Seaway icebreaking operations set to start

3/21 - Spring icebreaking operations on the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway will get underway next week, the Canadian Coast Guard said in a release.

The Canadian Coast Guard said it will work closely with the U.S. Coast Guard, St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp., and the U.S. Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corp. in planning the operations.

It is strongly recommended that anglers, snowmobilers and other recreational users leave the ice immediately if they see an icebreaker in the vicinity.

After a winter that produced heavy and persistent ice conditions throughout the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence Seaway, the Canadian Coast Guard will move vessels into the system to assist in the icebreaking operations.

It’s expected CCGS Martha L. Black will enter the Seaway via the St. Lambert Locks in Quebec as early as March 23 and make its way up the St. Lawrence River. The icebreaker will start in the Montréal to Lake Ontario area on or about March 24 and will proceed to Lake Ontario, where it will then assist with harbor breakouts in Picton and Bath (Ont.).

“Once these harbors have been opened, the CCGS Martha L. Black will return downriver to assist with shipping in anticipation of the official opening of the seaway, currently scheduled for April 2,” the coast guard said.

Other icebreakers will follow as required, making their way to the Great Lakes to provide additional icebreaking capacity to the area. The CCGS Griffon and CCGS Samuel Risley, already on the lakes, will continue to provide icebreaking services on the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway.

“All dates and routes are subject to change with little or no notice due to operational requirements or sudden and significant changes to weather and ice conditions,” the coast guard said.

The Canadian and American coast guards work together on icebreaking operations and escorting ships throughout the winter, working on both sides of the border wherever required.

Erie Media


Great Lakes buoy to new heights after 15 years of low water levels

3/21 -

After 15 years of below-average water levels, Lakes Superior, Michigan, and Huron are now well above normal, suggesting that climate change's impact on the fourth seacoast may be more complicated than previously thought.

While people in the drought-stricken western United States watch lake and reservoir levels relentlessly plunge, the three largest of the Great Lakes have recorded one of the most rapid increases in water levels on record, according to a new analysis.

The quick turnaround – about two feet for Lake Superior and three feet for Lakes Michigan and Huron between January 2013 and December 2014 – ended what researchers have called an unprecedented 15-year period when lake levels fell below their long-term average.

The turnaround suggests that global warming's impact on the nation's fourth seacoast may be more complicated than implied in past projections, which pointed to a long-term decline in water levels, notes Richard Rood, a scientist at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor whose research focuses on climate and adaptation and who did not take part in the analysis.

Recent research points to a more complex picture, he says, one less clear on whether lake levels will increase, decrease, or remain relatively stable. Instead, the focus is expanding to include the potential for extreme swings in lake levels.

The rate at which water levels in the three lakes have risen is nothing short of remarkable, notes the team that performed the analysis, whose lead author is Andrew Gronewold, a researcher at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory in Ann Arbor.

Although the analysis includes three lakes found on standard maps, Lakes Michigan and Huron are considered one lake from a long-term hydrological perspective, the researchers note.

For Superior, the increase marked the largest two-year, January-to-December increase on record, with near or above-average increases recorded for almost every month during the period.

For Michigan-Huron, the increase fell just short of a three-foot increase recorded between January 1950 and December 1951. The Michigan-Huron system not only recorded above-average increases in the late spring and summer both years, but the system saw unusually large increases in September and October 2014, an unusual time of year for increases.

Lake levels have gone through dramatic changes in the past, Dr. Gronewold notes, but the 15-year decline and its two-year turnaround appear to be different.

In the past, changes in lake levels were closely tied to precipitation patterns, with little overall change to evaporation rates, he says. The recent recovery would seem to be no different. Precipitation in the region has run about 10 percent above average during each of the last two years.

In the fall and early winter, water levels decline as colder, drier air comes in contact with the warmer lake water, leading to evaporation.

But the region also experienced two bitterly cold winters, thanks to a persistent pattern in the jet stream that allowed frigid Arctic air to plummet south into the eastern half of the continental US, a pattern that was centered over the Great Lakes. Ice built up, covering ever-larger expanses of the lakes to near-record extents, preventing evaporation.

Ironically, where pockets of open water existed, "evaporation rates were through the roof" because if the unusually sharp temperature contrast that remained between the extremely dry, chilled air and the water, Gronewold says.

Unlike past swings in lake levels, the changes over the past 17 years have occurred as a result of a more complex interplay between ice cover, air temperature, water temperature, and evaporation, he says.

The 17-year period of extremes began with a record El Niño event in the tropical Pacific and ended with back-to-back years when the polar jet stream weakened sufficiently to allow bitter Arctic air to linger over large swaths of the eastern US – a pattern that several climate scientists say they have tied to the impact of global warming on the Arctic's summer sea ice.

As a result, Gronewold says, these changes appear to be more closely tied to "drivers of regional change that are connected to the larger climate picture that are possibly causing things to happen in the Great Lakes that haven't happened in the past."

The analysis appears in the March 17 issue of American Geophysical Union's weekly publication EOS.

Christian Science Monitor


Marine Atlantic ferry trapped in ice since Wednesday with 40 passengers aboard

3/21 - Cape Breton – Forty passengers are still stuck aboard the Blue Puttees in the ice off Cape Breton. The Marine Atlantic ferry, which connects Nova Scotia to Newfoundland, has been there since Wednesday afternoon.

The Louis S. St-Laurent — the largest icebreaker in the Canadian Coast Guard's fleet — has been trying to remove the vessel but so far hasn't had any luck.

"The ice is so pressurized and thick right now in that area they are unable to get through the ice as well. We're waiting for the winds to change directions and ease some of that pressure," Marine Atlantic spokesperson Darrell Mercer said.

He said people are trying to keep themselves occupied.

"It's certainly not a good situation when we're stuck in ice for two days.... We do have televisions that are showing different programs, things like that. We know with 40 passengers on board, they've been doing different things, playing cards, anything to occupy their time. We know time can be very long in these circumstances."

One of those trapped on the ferry is Newfoundland truck driver Wayne Elliott. He said passengers seem to be understanding and are being treated "great" by the Marine Atlantic crew. "They are feeding us for free, so we're good," he said.

The ferry service's other crossings are delayed or rescheduled. Passengers are asked to stay in contact with Marine Atlantic for updates.

Earlier this week 190 passengers were stranded on the Highlanders when it was stuck in the ice. Mercer said that last winter the ice moved into the area in late March and early April.

"This year, it moved in early to mid-February, and it doesn’t show any signs of going away any time soon," he said. "I've heard the Canadian Coast Guard say it’s the worst of the 30-year averages they’ve been keeping."



Steel output continues its descent

3/21 - Raw steel production declined again to 603,000 tons in the Great Lakes region last week, the third straight week it has fallen. Capacity utilization dropped to a yearly low of 68.7 percent and output lags behind the 2014 rate by 4.4 percent.

Local steel production fell by 10,000 tons, or 1.6 percent in the week that ended Saturday, according to an American Iron and Steel Institute estimate. Overall U.S. steel output dipped by 1.3 percent over the same period.

Most of the raw steel production in the Great Lakes region takes place in the Chicago area, chiefly Lake and Porter counties in Northwest Indiana.

Production in the Southern District, typically the country's second-biggest steel-producing region, dipped slightly to 535,000 tons last week, down about 1,000 tons from the week before.

Total domestic raw steel production last week was about 1.623 million tons, down from 1.645 million tons a week earlier.

Nationally, domestic steel mills had a capacity utilization rate of 68.7 percent last week, down from 69.6 percent a week earlier. The capacity utilization rate had been 77.7 percent at the same time a year earlier.

Year-to-date output was 18.2 million net tons, at a capacity utilization rate of 74.1 percent, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute. Production so far this year trails the 2014 rate by 4.4 percent, while capacity utilization lags last year by an enormous 13.1 percent.

NWI Times


Lookback #489 – Chemical Mar sustained severe damage unloading on March 21, 1982

3/21 - While the Chemical Mar was not a Great Lakes trader under this name, it had Seaway connections under two previous names.

The 490-foot-long tanker was built at Oslo, Norway, and completed as Birk on March 24, 1966, It came to the Great Lakes beginning in 1967.

The ship was sold to the Hall Corporation of Canada in 1979. Halco applied the rename of b) Coastal Transport early the next year and the ship departed Rotterdam on Jan. 15, 1980.

While not a Great Lakes trader, the Coastal Transport served Halco along the St. Lawrence and on the Caribbean. It ran down and sank the supply tender Salee B. on the Mississippi in November 1980 below New Orleans and three lives were lost.

The ship was sold and registered in Liberia as c) Chemical Mar in 1982 but had a short career. While unloading sulfuric acid at Curacao on March 21, 1982, some of the cargo leaked into the pump room. The area was flooded but this caused additional damage and the ship was determined to be a total loss.

Chemical Mar was sold for scrap and arrived at Brownsville, Texas, under tow, still sporting the well-known Halco stack, on March 30, 1983, and was broken up.

Skip Gillham


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 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 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, Brazil for 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.


Wisconsin budget would cut money for port projects

3/20 - Superior, Wis. – Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's proposed budget will cut funding to Wisconsin's Harbor Assistance Program. The fund helps pay for harbor projects like dock repairs, ship building and more, Last year, the program received nearly $13 million.

Under the current budget proposal, all bonding for ports has been eliminated, which leaves barely $1 million for harbor improvements.

If this goes through, Fraser Shipyards in Superior says facility improvements will slow down considerably and cause a major set back in developing infrastructure.

Director of Operations Tom Curelli says although highways and bridges are also important, the waterborne transportation is vital for the economy.

"The waterways is pretty important. For a boat to come in and be able to use those waterways it needs a dock facility, material handling, cargo handling, transportation, interfaces and all those kinds of things that this grant helps with," Curelli said.

Fraser's multi-million dollar dock improvement project will not be affected because it has already been approved. But any future projects will be affected.

There is still a lot of discussion within the current proposal. A final decision will be made this summer.


Obituary: Capt. Robert S. Male

3/20 - Robert Scott Male, 93 of Two Harbors, Minn., died Sunday March 15. As a young boy he sailed the Great Lakes with his father, who was a captain on many ore boats, his final boat being the Benjamin F. Fairless. He grew up loving the water and worked for the Pittsburgh Steamship Company in various jobs aboard Great Lakes vessels following his high school graduation in 1940.

On April 2, 1945, he graduated from the New London Merchant Marine Academy and served aboard oceangoing merchant ships during World War II. He visited several ports in France, Panama, Philippines, Belgium, Cuba, and Italy, ending his service on Sept. 17th, 1946. He was employed by the DM&IR in 1952 in various positions, worked as a linesman and was one of the captains on the Edna G tugboat. In 1963, he was employed by Great Lakes Towing for 24 years as a captain on various tugboats in the Duluth harbor, retiring in 1987.

A funeral service Saturday, March 21, at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Two Harbors. Burial will follow at Lakeview Cemetery.


Lookback #488 – Stephen B. Roman opened the navigation season at Toronto on March 20, 1987

Over the years, the master of the cement ship Stephen B. Roman, has collected a number of Captain's Hats as the first ship of the year into one of the Lake Ontario ports. It was 28 years ago today that the ship opened the port of Toronto for the fourth year in a row.

The vessel spends most of its time on Lake Ontario and usually loads at Picton for Toronto, Oswego or Rochester. Occasionally it will come up the Welland Canal bound for Essexville, Mich.

Originally the package freighter Fort William, this ship was rebuilt at Collingwood in 1982-1983 as the cement carrier Stephen B. Roman and initially served Lake Ontario Cement. This later became Essroc Canada Inc. and is part of the Italcementi Group.

The 488 foot, 6 inch long Stephen B. Roman began accumulating top hat awards in 1984. When it opened Toronto on March 20, 1987, it marked the fourth year in a row that the ship had been the first into port. The streak continued through 1992 for a run of nine consecutive years as the initial caller to Toronto.

Since then, the vessel has been either the first, or one of the first, into the port including a visit on Jan. 25, 2002, when the ship came briefly out of lay-up for a needed cargo. It also opened the port on Feb. 15, 2006, so the winter lay-up season has been prone to interruptions.

Skip Gillham


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.


CSL’s Atlantic Superior arrives in China for scrap

3/19 - Canada Steamship Lines’ self-unloader Atlantic Superior arrived at Xinhui, China under her own power March 16, where she will be cut up for scrap, according to Ship Breaker's Marine and

Constructed in 1982, she was the first self-unloader built for CSL specifically to trade on the ocean and well as the Great Lakes. From 1997 to 2003 she sailed as M.H. Baker III before reverting back to her original name.

In 2013 she replaced CSL Cabo in the gypsum trade along the North American Pacific seaboard. CSL Thames has assumed this trade.


Port Reports -  March 19

Thunder Bay, Ont.
The USCG Alder was breaking ice Wednesday at Thunder Bay in preparation for the opening of the shipping season.

Sturgeon Bay, Wis. – Jim Conlon
The Joseph L. Block was the first ship out of Bayship this year. They left the yard about 4 p.m. Wednesday and were escorted out to the turning area off Sherwood Point by the Selvick tugs Donny S and Jimmy L. The Block is headed to Escanaba for her first load. The next ships out will probably be the Wilfred Sykes on Friday and the Edgar B. Speer on Monday.

Milwaukee, Wis.
The tug Samuel de Champlain and barge Innovation departed Milwaukee early Wednesday morning for South Chicago, where it discharged a storage load.

Toledo, Ohio
On Wednesday the tug Nebraska broke ice in the Maumee River in preparation for the departure of Philip R. Clarke.


Michigan legislators urge Corps to reconsider new Poe Lock

3/19 - Washington D.C. – Practically all of Michigan's members of Congress signed a letter Tuesday urging the Army Corps of Engineers to prioritize consideration of a long-awaited replacement of a key shipping lock at Sault Ste. Marie, saying a failure at the Poe Lock would devastate Great Lakes shipping traffic.

"Should the Poe Lock experience an unscheduled outage, there is currently no redundancy available," said the letter signed by both of the state's U.S. senators and 13 of its 14 U.S. House members. "The estimated economic impact of a 30-day unscheduled outage ... is approximately $160 million."

In the letter, Michigan's delegation — led by U.S. Rep. Dan Benishek, R-Crystal Falls — argued for the Corps to publicly release a so-called sensitivity analysis intended to determine the cost-benefit ratio of replacing the lock, which members of Congress have been pushing for decades.

A letter last year from then-U.S. Sen. Carl Levin and other Great Lakes senators to Jo-Ellen Darcy, who heads up the Army Corps, noted that an earlier cost-benefit ratio study apparently incorrectly assumed that rail lines would be able to handle traffic through the lock if there were a closure.

In Tuesday's letter, also to Darcy, members of the delegation said they understand the analysis has been completed and want to see it, with an eye toward knowing what value the Corps puts on replacing the 1,200-foot-long lock, which is 48 years old. It is the only lock big enough to handle 70% of the vessels, called "lakers," passing between Lake Superior and Lake Huron.

Corps officials didn't immediately respond to calls for comment from the Free Press. As recently as 2007, Congress approved a replacement lock being built and, in 2009, work began on some preliminary work. But tight funding for a project then estimated at about $580 million dried up, and the Corps has relied on maintaining the existing structure through annual appropriations. Next year's budget calls for $3.7 million to be spent on the Soo Asset Renewal program.

"If the Locks were out of commission for even a day, the economic impact would be severe," said Benishek, who represents the Upper Peninsula and part of the northern Lower Peninsula. "If you've ever seen a laker move through the locks, you know how narrow that passageway is, and that there is no room for error."

The Corps is certainly aware of the importance of the Poe Lock: As recently as last month, in a "Great Lakes Navigation Update," Corps officials noted that vessels passing through the locks are "capable of seriously damaging or destroying them" including potentially through acts of terrorism.

Benishek, in releasing the letter to Darcy, noted that a recent study said an unplanned closure of the Soo Locks would have a severe impact not only on the regional economy, but also on broader U.S, trade, most notably affecting the steel and automobile industries.

Detroit Free Press


Ice-clearing to begin soon on St. Lawrence River

3/19 - You know winter is almost over when officials announce the start of ice-clearing activities on the St. Lawrence River.

Operations will begin on or about March 23 on the Seaway, including the area between the Eisenhower and Snell Locks, in preparation for the upcoming navigation season.

All ice fishermen, snowmobile operators, and all-terrain vehicle operators should refrain from using the areas where ice has been cleared to avoid numerous open water leads and unstable ice cover caused by the clearing.

The Montreal-Lake Ontario section of the St. Lawrence Seaway is scheduled to open at 8 a.m. on April 2.

Fox 28


Ice breaking tug moving through the Black River

3/19 - Port Huron, Mich. – An ice-breaking tug was hired by the city of Port Huron to clear the Black River Monday. City Manager James Freed said it was a proactive move to help reduce the chances of flooding.

"We have been monitoring the water levels up and down the Black River," Freed said. "This morning we felt it was necessary to protect the property along the river. The canal district could have flooded, causing millions of dollars of damage."

Freed said the canal gates were opened in order to let ice flow out of the Black River from both ends.

Work began around 10 a.m. and wrapped up around 4:30 p.m. The tug broke ice from the point where the Black River spills in to the St. Clair River up the Black River 100 yards south of where Interstate-94 meets the river.

Dan Mainguy, Port Huron Fire operations chief, said there was not an imminent risk of flooding, but the ice was soft enough to open up the river before ice backups occur.

In Port Huron Township, Fire Chief Craig Miller said they are monitoring the waters. He said if flooding becomes a problem, the Port Huron Township Fire Department has a stash of sandbags that residents can use.

While the Black River is starting to flow, the St. Clair River still has about 80 percent ice coverage, said U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Dalton Smith.

"The coverage amount changes daily because the ice is constantly flowing so there are spots of open water," Smith said. "Down by Algonac coverage is more like 100 percent because it bottlenecks down there. Near Port Huron ice flows down from the lake every day."

Port Huron Times Herald


$7 billion in St. Lawrence shipping upgrades set sail

3/19 - A capital investment of about $7 billion is being spent on the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence shipping system in Canada and the United States, which involves asset renewal and improvements to this critical piece of transportation infrastructure.

"These private and public investments are a tremendous show of confidence in the future of the Great Lakes Seaway, a transportation gateway facilitating $35 billion in trade and supporting 227,000 jobs in the U.S. and Canada," said Stephen Brooks, Chamber of Marine Commerce president.

"To keep that momentum going we will be working closely with our stakeholders and governments to make sure the right regulatory and investment climate exists for further economic growth and environmental improvements."

The Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway navigation system supports the activities of more than 100 ports and commercial docks located in the provinces of Ontario and Quebec, as well as eight U.S. States.

Given the importance of this infrastructure to the North American economy, Martin Associates was hired by a coalition of stakeholders in the maritime industry to undertake a survey that quantifies the level of investment in the navigation system over the past five years.

One of the most important findings of the survey is that C$7.1 billion in capital spending is being invested on ships, ports and terminals and waterway infrastructure in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence system.

In total, capital investments being made in port and terminal facilities and waterway infrastructure total C$ 3.0 billion.

Out of this total, $1.754 billion is being invested in ports and terminals. This sector is defined to include major wharf and dockwall repairs, improvements to truck or rail access, upgrades to loading/unloading equipment, upgrades to on-site buildings, and other on-site work such as new or upgraded lighting, fencing, utilities, paving or security measures.

In addition, $1.242 billion is being invested in waterway infrastructure, which includes upgrades to locks and breakwaters, navigation aids, dredging for deepening purposes only and confined disposal facilities for dredge material placement.

The largest share of this investment ($4.1 billion) is non-construction spending by Canadian, American and international ship owners on the biggest renewal of the Great Lakes fleets in 30 years.

The total of C$7.1 billion being spent on asset renewal and infrastructure improvements is also broken down into actual and committed investment. A total of about C$4.8 billion was invested in ships, ports and terminals and waterway infrastructure between 2009 and 2013.

An additional C$2.3 billion in capital spending has been committed for future infrastructure investments by companies and governments.

Future capital expenditures were defined as those in which a respondent had money available and allocated in its budget for the coming years. Projects that were part of a strategic plan were not included in this analysis unless already contracted for with funds set aside for their completion.

Public sector investment in ports, terminals and waterway infrastructure was a total of C$2.1 billion. This is 71 per cent of the total investments between 2009 and 2013 and committed post-2013.

Capital investments made in facilities and equipment at U.S. and Canadian ports and terminals totalled C$1.3 billion between 2009 and 2013. An additional C$0.5 million has been committed for future capital spending.

Capital investments in waterway infrastructure between 2009 and 2013 total C$0.6 billion. An additional C$0.6 billion (US$0.6 billion) has been committed for future investments in waterway infrastructure.

In Canada, a total of about $3 billion in capital spending is being invested in ports, terminals and waterway infrastructure. Ontario accounts for C$996 million and Quebec is C$1.18 billion.

To carry out the survey, Martin Associates developed a list of 628 individual companies and government agencies engaged in some aspect of Great Lakes-Seaway maritime commerce. Of the 628 stakeholders contacted, 454 were willing to participate in the survey and provide investment data. This represents a response rate of about 72 per cent.

The geographic area covered by this survey includes investments in all portions of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway navigation system from Duluth, Minnesota in the west to Sept-Îles, Quebec in the east.

The Chamber of Marine Commerce is a bi-national association that represents more than 150 marine industry stakeholders including major Canadian and American shippers, ports, terminals and marine service providers, as well as domestic and international ship

Daily Commercial News


Soo Locks opener

3/19 - C - The Soo Locks will officially open for the 2015-2016, shipping season on March 25, 2015. The doors to the Soo Locks Visitors Center will be open on March 25, from 9:00a-3:00p to celebrate the occasion. Come and visit us to join in the celebration. We'll have coffee and snacks and some good conversation. Keep tuned to your AIS regarding vessel passage(s).

Jim Carrick, Soo Locks Visitors Center Association


Bayham seeks federal help for $6 million in connection with Project Ojibwa

3/19 - A rural Elgin county municipality is hoping the federal government will shoulder at least some ofthe burden of a $6 million loan associated with the HMCS Ojibwa submarine in Port Burwell.

The Municipality of Bayham says it’s being asked to cover costs associated with Project Ojibwa, a campaign that brought the submarine to Port Burwell in 2012.

HMCS Ojibwa -- a Cold War-era, Oberon-class submarine -- opened for tours in 2013, drawing just under 30,000 people in its inaugural season.

Elgin Military Museum in St. Thomas spearheaded the campaign and borrowed against a $6 million letter of credit Bayham provided to Royal Bank Canada, according to Bayham administrator Paul Shipway.

Bayham has been told the museum is in default of its repayment obligations toward the $6 million loan, Shipway said.

If the museum does not come up with the money by March 20, the municipality is on the hook for the entire $6 million, Shipway said.

So Bayham has reached out to MP Joe Preston and MPP Jeff Yurek, seeking a solution that won’t require the municipality to shoulder the entire burden.

There is some historical precedent involving a vessel in Hamilton that went from private to provincial hands and is now in federal hands, Shipway said.

“They stepped in and took care of everything,” Shipway said. “So we're looking for the same sort of support that was shown in the GTA-H would be shown in rural Ontario.”

Without financial help, the municipality would pay about $275,000 this year out of reserves and future payments would come out of the municipal tax levy.

That would mean a 10.5% levy hike next year unless council can find a way to lower other costs, Shipway said.

“If it does hit the levy, we're going to work towards ensuring that the Municipality of Bayham tax rates continue to stay one of the lowest in Elgin county,” Shipway said.

“And the municipality's known for its people, its community and its companies, not this one incident.”

Elgin Military Museum executive director Ian Raven did not comment directly on the issue of payment defaults when reached by phone on Friday afternoon.

But the museum issued a statement later in the day, saying it is in talks with the bank to explore potential solutions.

There are a number of reasons for the situation to have developed as it has, the museum said. Original cost estimates received by the museum for the project were vastly exceeded when final invoices arrived.

And other work was found to be required that none of the project experts had anticipated, generating more costs, the museum said.

Delays beyond the museum's control in the movement and preparation of the vessel pushed back the start of operations, which reduced revenue generated in the submarine's opening seasons, the museum said.

The statement pointed to other circumstances like record cold and snow in the last two winters, saying they further limited the museum's ability to operate the site and generate year-round revenue.

And some revenue, such as promised federal funding, did not materialize, the museum said.

“The museum intends to continue operations while our team works to develop new proposals and strategies to bring the project to a successful conclusion for all parties.”

Bayham is holding a public information session on the matter March 16 at 7 p.m. at the Vienna Community Centre.

Tillsonburg News


Lookback #487 – Former Belkarin hit a sunken wreck in Suez Bay on March 19, 1978

3/19 - Belkarin was a Norwegian freighter that dated from 1954. The ship had been built at Lobith, Netherlands, and launched for Belships Ltd. On Oct. 17, 1953. The 407 foot, 5 inch, long vessel was completed in April 1954.

By the time Belkarin came to the Great Lakes, it was in its tenth year of trading. It made a single trip inland in 1963 before resuming a steady diet of saltwater service.

The vessel moved under the flag of Cyprus as b) Elbella in 1972 and then to Greek registry as c) Nahost Jumbo in 1977. It was the latter that got into trouble.

Nahost Jumbo had loaded phosphate at Aqaba, Jordan, and was on a voyage to Holland when it struck the wreck of a sunken warship in Suez Bay on March 19, 1978. A hole was punched in the engineroom and the ship was able to reach shallow water before it sank.

The vessel was a total loss and not refloated until January 1979. By then it was suitable only for scrap and was broken up, likely locally.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  March 18

News Photo Gallery
Lay-up list updated


Today in Great Lakes History -  March 19

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 engine room 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.


Tug and barge Joseph H. Thompson under new ownership

3/18 - According to the NOAA vessel registry, the barge Joseph H. Thompson and tug Joseph H. Thompson Jr. are now owned by Van Enkevort Tug & Barge Inc. of Escanaba, Mich. They were formerly owned by Upper Lakes Towing Co. The change occurred on Feb. 25 according to the database.

Van Enkevort also owns the large barge Great Lakes Trader, which is pushed by the tug Joyce L. Van Enkevort. There has been no indication a rename will occur.


Extensive Great Lakes ice cover quickly melting

3/18 - Northern Michigan – It appears spring is finally here, and with the end to another brutal winter comes the end of another year of extensive Great Lakes ice coverage.

According to George Leshkevich, physical scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory, total Great Lakes ice coverage peaked Feb. 28 at approximately 88.7 percent combined among the five lakes.

Though some of the lakes — Erie, Huron and Superior — approached almost complete ice cover, the total of 88.7 percent fell short of the ice coverage mark set last year on March 6, and approximately 6 percent short of the record set in 1979 at 94.7 percent.

“The way things are going now, we are looking at an earlier breakup and an earlier ice-off date (compared to 2014),” Leshkevich said. “Last year was extreme.”

According to statistics compiled by the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory, out of all of the Great Lakes, Lake Erie reached the highest ice coverage percent at 98.09 percent on Feb. 18.

Lake Ontario also experienced its peak ice coverage Feb. 18, when 82.6 percent of the lake was covered in ice. Coming in at No. 2 for highest total ice coverage was Lake Huron, recording an ice coverage of 96.28 percent on March 6. Lakes Superior and Michigan both reached their maximum ice coverage Feb. 28, with Lake Michigan recording 72.8 percent ice coverage and Lake Superior 95.5 percent.

Since reaching those numbers, warmer temperatures and larger amounts of sunlight among other factors have begun to break up the large quantities of ice.

“It is going down now,” Leshkevich said in regard to the melting ice. “Even if we get another cold snap, it would have to be really cold for really long to turn things around.”

Leshkevich said the ice coverage patterns this year are about normal, as the lower Great Lakes — Erie and Ontario — typically reach maximum ice coverage between the middle and end of February, while the upper Great Lakes — Michigan, Superior and Huron — usually reach peak ice coverage sometime during the first half of March.

Unless there is another cold spell, the ice cover should continue to melt as spring approaches, unlike 2014 when Leshkevich said some amount of ice cover remained on Lake Superior until June 6.

Petoskey News Review


Indiana Harbor blast furnace will be down for months

3/18 - ArcelorMittal will idle the No. 3 blast furnace at Indiana Harbor, and it will stay offline for months in a previously scheduled outage.

The Luxembourg-based steelmaker has been making preparations to shut down the blast furnace at ArcelorMittal Indiana Harbor West in East Chicago for planned maintenance next week. Stove repairs are needed.

"The outage is expected to last until late Q2 2015 or until additional capacity is required to meet customer demand," ArcelorMittal spokeswoman Mary Beth Holdford said. "The stove repairs on No. 3 blast furnace will improve the efficiency and reliability of the asset and ultimately allow ArcelorMittal and the Indiana Harbor facility to be well positioned to meet future customer requirements."

Overall demand for domestic steel is low as cheap imports have flooded in, and national capacity utilization has sunk below 70 percent, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute.

ArcelorMittal will continue to operate its No. 4 and No. 7 blast furnaces at the century-old steel mill, which employs around 4,850 workers on the southern shore of Lake Michigan. The 3,100-acre steelmaking complex, the largest in North America, makes steel for cars, appliances and contractor applications, among other uses.

"The outage will not impact our ability to meet customer demand," Holdford said,

The No. 3 blast furnace can make as much as 4,500 tons of iron per day, Steel Market Update estimates. It was last down for maintenance in 2013, when a turbo blower failed, causing an unplanned outage.

NWI Times


Lookback #486 – Liberty ship Triada arrived at Shanghai, China, for scrap on March 18, 1968

The Liberty ship Triada made three trips to the Great Lakes in 1965. It came inland for the Triada Shipping Co. Ltd. of Cyprus for its only trading on the fresh water lakes.

The vessel had been built at Portland, Oregon, and was completed at Wilbur O. Atwater in December 1943. The 441 foot, 6 inch long vessel logged considerable war service, and while carrying supplies to reinforce the Allied forces in the Philippines endured 165 air raids and alerts as the enemy was not yet ready to concede the war. Despite the persistent danger, the vessel was not harmed.

In April 1948, the ship was sold to the French Government and renamed b) Oyonnax. Later, in 1959, another sale led to re-registry in Liberia as c) Leonidas Voyazides. It retained this name with another sale and registry in Cyprus in 1962.

The final name of d) Triada was recorded with the last sale in 1965. Triada Shipping sent Triada to the Great Lakes for three trips in 1965 but it resumed steady saltwater trading in 1966 and 1967. Early in 1968, the ship was sold to Mainland Chinese shipbreakers and the vessel arrived at Shanghai, 47 years ago today and was broken up in the months ahead.

Skip Gillham


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.


Port Reports -  March 17

St. Marys River
The USCG Mackinaw was busy Monday breaking out Soo Harbor and the lower Soo Locks approaches. The Poe Lock is still dry, but should be flooded soon in anticipation of the eventual upbound passage of the Mackinaw and the March 25 opening of the shipping season.

Sturgeon Bay, Wis. – Jim Conlon
Late Friday evening the Algoma Central’s Algolake was floated out of the graving dock at Bayship and Monday morning the CSL Laurentien was floated in to install the rudder/Kort nozzle and complete the repowering job. The Selvick tugs have been busy moving ships at Bayship this winter. This warm weather has moved a lot of the ice out of their way, making the job easier.


Woes continue for Toronto’s floating restaurant

3/17 - Toronto, Ont. – Finding a buyer for Captain John’s floating restaurant Jadran may have just reached a new level of impossibility.

Ports Toronto is going to Federal Court Tuesday seeking approval for a new auction of the ship with such stringent conditions — a buyer must have $50 million worth of insurance before it can be towed one inch from the foot of Yonge St. — that they are likely to sink any hope of finding a new buyer, marine experts say.

On top of that, scrap metal prices have fallen further since the first failed auction of the ship last summer, making the rusting relic worth about $200,000 less than it was just two months ago, estimates one veteran ship scrapper.

“Maybe the City of Toronto should be looking at it as a permanent landmark and sink it right there — and I’m only half joking,” said Wayne Elliott, a scrapper with more than 100 vessels under his belt.

One marine expert, who asked not to be named, estimated the insurance requirements at about 10 times the norm. But the port authority says they are “in line with industry standards” and “readily available” liability protection in case the ship sinks, pollutes Lake Ontario or someone gets hurt during the towing and scrapping or refurbishment.

“The insurance requirements were carefully considered and suggested by our broker as a reasonable request for a qualified buyer who will be transporting the ship,” said Ports Toronto spokesperson Erin Mikaluk.

Elliott’s Marine Recycling Corp. of Port Colborne was the No. 2 bid for the Jadran last July, although his negative bid would have seen the port authority have to pay $303,756 for his company to tow and scrap the ship. The costs would likely be higher now, he says.

The court awarded the ship to Toronto entrepreneur James Sbrolla, instead, who eventually handed over $33,501 but failed to meet the court-ordered deadline of August 22 to have the ship removed from its prime spot at the foot of Yonge St.

After winning the ship, Sbrolla partnered with Priestly Demolition and came up with a plan to essentially demolish the 300-foot ship in the Parliament St. slip just to the east of its current home. That raised environmental and other concerns for the port authority which returned Sbrolla’s money last fall.

The port authority is now seeking the court’s approval to restart the bid process with more stringent conditions meant to ensure the ship is safely removed from Toronto’s waterfront by May 11.

Ports Toronto finds itself more under the gun than ever right now. The ship’s condition has visibly deteriorated even since last summer and condo developers are preparing to launch a 36-storey third phase of the Residences of Pier 27 that will flank the derelict ship, which was shut down by the city almost three years ago.

Toronto Star


Toledo art exhibit to close on March 22

3/17 - Toledo, Ohio – The National Museum of the Great Lakes announced that its temporary exhibit, "Great Lakes Masters: 150 Years of Maritime Art," will close at the end of business on Sunday March 22. According to Christopher Gillcrist, over 1,300 people have visited the exhibit from 23 states and four countries. The exhibit features 16 works of art from eight different artists spanning 150 years of painting.

National Museum of the Great Lakes


Lookback #485 – Former Sunpolyna abandoned in the South Atlantic on March 17, 1980

The Norwegian freighter Sunpolyna operated under charter to Saguenay Shipping and provided service between Eastern Canada and the West Indies. The ship had been built at Goteborg, Sweden, in 1956 and began occasional trading into the Great Lakes with two trips in 1963.

The 475 foot, 8 inch long general cargo carrier went aground in the Welland Canal, near Thorold, while inbound from Demerara, Guyana, on May 16, 1967, but was refloated the next day.

The ship was sold and renamed b) Aristillos in 1970 and was back on the Great Lakes the following year under Greek registry. It retained that flag after becoming c) Vitamar in 1975 and d) Temeraire in 1979. Neither visited the Seaway.

Temeraire was on a voyage from Santos, Brazil, to Mina Qaboos, Oman, when the hull cracked in the South Atlantic 35-years ago today. The ship was abandoned by the crew and, while their vessel remained afloat longer than expected, it finally sank on March 21, 1981, in a position recorded as 28.04 S / 21.30 W.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  March 17

News Photo Gallery
Lay-up list updated


Today in Great Lakes History -  March 17

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.


New Lower Lakes Towing vessel to be named Manitoulin

3/16 - The Transport Canada vessel registry database shows the new name of the former saltwater tanker Lalandia Swan, now being rebuilt in China for Lower Lakes Towing, will be named Manitoulin.

The vessel, which is getting a new, self-unloading forebody, is expected to enter service on the lakes and Seaway this summer as a bulk carrier.

Lalandia Swan (IMO 8810918) was built in 1991 in Croatia, and was a Great Lakes / Seaway visitor under that name. She was sold to Lower Lakes last year.

The name Manitoulin has graced the bows of a number of vessels over the years, including one – scrapped in 2002 – operated by Canada Steamship Lines.


Current, ice cause trouble for Sarah Spencer

3/16 - Toledo, Ohio – The out-of-commission tug Jane Ann IV and barge Sarah Spencer broke away from their moorings at the ADM Elevator Sunday afternoon when strong current propelled large ice flows down the Maumee River.

The barge and tug were moored separately. The barge broke free, slide along the wall collecting her tug and pulling everything down to the northeast end of the Cargill elevators where it appeared the tug grounded.

The tugs Mississippi and Nebraska went to the aid

of the vessels and they were returned to the dock by mid-evening. The Maumee River’s fracturing, shifting ice cover attracted throngs of sightseers along its shores over the weekend, while continuing to feed an ice jam that flooded Side Cut Metropark between Maumee and Waterville. From the Roche de Bout area of Farnsworth Metropark in Waterville, spectators watched as giant slabs of ice crept down the Maumee River.

Chunks as big as two football fields wide and three or four football fields long coasted steadily, some carrying large flocks of birds, before smashing into Waterville’s landmark abandoned railroad viaduct spanning the river.

“It was pretty awesome,” said Mike Kirby, who took several pictures and cell-phone videos of the massive chunks of ice.

Toledo Blade, Jim Hoffman


Icebreaking activities could cause ferry delays at Soo

3/16 - Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. – Sugar Island residents should prepare for ferry delays beginning Monday, according to U.S. Coast Guard Captain Steve Teschendorf, Commander of Sector Sault Ste. Marie.

“They should prepare for a week’s worth of minor ferry delays,” warned Teschendorf, expressing some optimism that will be a worst-case scenario.

The Coast Guard has already been breaking ice in the DeTour Passage, taking advantage of the prevailing northwest winds and open waters on Lake Huron to clear a portion of the lower St. Marys River. The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw and another 140-foot vessel were scheduled to work their way up the river over the weekend, with the Mackinaw taking the lead into the Sault Harbor. The Mackinaw was breaking ice below Mission Point Sunday afternoon.

“Monday afternoon,” said Teschendorf. “We’ll bring the Mackinaw up here to help the (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) break out the Locks’ approaches and free their work vessels.”

Ideally, Teschendorf envisions the boats breaking up the ice below the Sugar Island Ferry and leaving the harbor ice intact where it will continue its rapid melting under the warmer March temperatures.

“It’s better if it stays and melts in place,” he observed.

In preparing the public, however, Teschendorf cautioned that the arrival of the Mackinaw could disturb harbor ice and send it downriver potentially bottlenecking it in the narrow channel separating Sugar Island from the mainland.

Looking back on the 2013-14 winter season, Teschendorf said the Coast Guard is well ahead of last year’s pace. The ice, which is already showing signs of retreating, is about half of what was here at this time last year.

“We’ve got 10 more days for Mother Nature to work on the ice in Lake Superior,” he said, scanning satellite images which reveal that much of the lake is either ice free or supporting a relatively thin blanket.

Teschendorf also made it very clear that every effort will be made to ensure emergency services remain available to Sugar Island if ferry service is interrupted. He indicated that the Coast Guard will work with Chippewa County officials and their counterparts in Traverse City to bring in a helicopter, if needed. He estimated a flight from Traverse City to Sugar Island would take approximately one hour.

Soo Evening News


Lookback #484 – Dalia D. abandoned by the crew on March 16, 1982

Thirty-three years ago today the Panamanian freighter Dalia D. was on a voyage from New Orleans to Belledune, New Brunswick. The vessel was nearing its destination when it was caught in heavy ice and developed a severe list. Fearing the worst, the crew of the 378-foot, 10-inch-long general cargo carrier were ordered to abandon the ship.

Fortunately, Dalia D. remained afloat and was eventually taken in tow. The ship was finally brought into Gaspe four days later arriving on March 20, 1982.

Dalia D. had been built at Hamburg, West Germany, in 1961, and first sailed as a) Najade. As such it carried the German, later Dutch and finally Cypriot registry. It was resold and registered in Panama as b) Dalia D. in 1981, and came through the Seaway that year for its first, and perhaps only, trip to the Great Lakes.

Later in 1982 the vessel was sold again and renamed c) Orbit. This lasted until another sale in 1986 when the ship was renamed d) Topor I. Both owners maintained Panamanian registry.

A final sale to Bangladesh shipbreakers in 1987 sent the 5,044 gross ton carrier to Chittagong and it arrived on Dec. 18. Scrapping of the hull got underway at Sitalpur by Kaianath & Co. on Dec. 29, 1987.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  March 16

News Photo Gallery
Lay-up list updated


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: 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.


Erie shipping season starts with arrival of icebreaker Risley

3/15 - Erie, Pa. – The Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Samuel Risley arrived in Erie Saturday morning to break ice in the harbor and escort the Dorothy Ann/Pathfinder to Cleveland. It will be an arduous voyage due to the thick ice on Lake Erie. Presque Isle, Thunder Bay and Roger Blough remain in port.

Gene P


Extensive ice coverage to limit severe weather, pose challenges to shipping industry

3/15 - For the second consecutive winter, ice coverage on the Great Lakes is well above normal, with 73.7 percent of the Great Lakes basin covered in ice as of March 9.

While ice coverage is down overall compared to this time last season, three of the five lakes are still heavily covered, with Lake Erie at 91.3 percent, Lake Huron above 89 percent and Lake Superior 84.9 percent as of March 10, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory.

On March 1, total ice coverage was ahead of where it was on March 1, 2014, 88 percent versus 86 percent, but ice coverage continues to drop. Last winter, Great Lakes ice coverage peaked at 92.5 on March 6, 2014, ranking as the second-most ice coverage in recorded history. This year, the highest percentage was 88.7 percent on Feb. 28, according to NOAA Physical Scientist George Leshkevich.

The ice coverage could have an impact on the amount of severe weather this spring around the Great Lakes, according to Lead Long-Range Forecaster Paul Pastelok. The cooler waters will recover slowly, and lead to stability in the surrounding area, he added.

"Higher stability limits frequency and intensity of severe weather," Pastelok said.

Last year, it wasn't until June when the Great Lakes were finally free of ice, but Pastelok said he felt the percentages will be down by May and perhaps early June compared to last year.

The difference this year is the potential for milder air to sweep into western areas of the Great Lakes sometime in April, according to Pastelok. Plus, there will be some recovery, unlike last year, for a time in March where temperatures increase and the ice coverage may melt off, especially across the western and southwestern lakes, he said.

"A faster recovery could mean a warmer summer for this region," Pastelok said.

Normally, maximum ice coverage is reached on the lower lakes, such as Lake Erie, between the middle and end of February, while early to mid-March is when maximum coverage occurs on the upper lakes, Leshkevich said.

"Usually at this time we start [to] see a decline in ice cover," he said.

Ice on the lakes can be severely detrimental to the shipping industry and can lead to delays in the spring shipping season. Although the mild conditions this week have helped reduce ice coverage, there is still plenty of time for winter to make its presence felt.

Last winter, the extraordinary amount of ice on the Great Lakes caused shipping to be brought to a "virtual standstill" according to a news release from the Lake Carriers Association (LCA). The LCA reported that the harsh conditions cost the economy more than $700 million and nearly 4,000 jobs.

"The cement trade on the lower Great Lakes often resumes about March 1 and iron ore shipments on Lake Michigan and Lake Erie start back up not long after that," LCA president James H.I. Weakley said in the release. "Demand for U.S.-flag cargos during periods of ice cover can approach 20 million tons."

"Even on the lower lakes it has been a rough winter on shipping," Leshkevich said. "The cold, the ice buildup ... it remains to be seen what happens with the warm temperatures we've been having, if they continue."

This past January, the U.S. Coast Guard in conjunction with the Canadian Coast Guard, initiated Operation Coal Shovel, a seasonal domestic ice-breaking operation to help keep waterways clear.


Lookback #483 – Former Liberian freighter Fraternity caught fire on March 15, 1980

The freighter Fraternity was built at Rijeka, Yugoslavia, and completed in August 1963. The 533 foot, 1 inch long, 10,382-gross ton vessel was originally under Liberian registry.

Fraternity came through the Seaway in 1967 but was much more at home in saltwater service, where it could carry up to 14,400 tons deadweight.

The vessel was renamed b) Arya Niku in 1975 but again named c) Fraternity in 1976. It was placed under the flag of Greece in 1978.

Fire broke out in #1 and #2 cargo holds on March 15, 1980, while on a voyage from Hamburg, West Germany, to Karachi, Pakistan. After an explosion on March 16, the ship was abandoned by the crew but it remained afloat.

Fraternity was beached on March 17, close to the border of Eretria and Sudan and remained there until being refloated on April 1. It was towed to Djibouti later in the week and declared a total loss.

The ship later arrived at Sharjah on Nov. 2, 1980, where the cargo was reportedly discharged. The hull was then sold for scrap and arrived at Gadani Beach, Pakistan, on May 19, 1981, and broken up.

While the name Fraternity I was painted on the hull following its accident of 35-years ago, this was not an official renaming.

Skip Gillham


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.


Lake Superior ice yields to "King of the Waters"

3/14 - Duluth, Minn. – The floormats on the bridge of the United States Coast Guard cutter Alder are emblazoned with an official seal and the words "King of the Waters."

Out alone on Lake Superior, plowing a path through blankets of ice that can halt freighters five times the Alder's 225 feet, the King of the Waters lived up to its name.

Thursday's ice-cutting expedition featured the navy blue clad crew weaving and dodging its way politely around roughly 80 guests, including Lake Superior Marine Museum Association and Coast Guard Auxiliary members and other dignitaries, like Vanta Coda of the Duluth Seaway Port Authority.

"It's my first time aboard the Alder," said Coda, the executive director of the Port Authority since 2013. "It's always good to have a field trip."

The trip started with a seaman blowing a whistle into an intercom to signal the voyage was underway. It crawled out of Superior Bay and through the black waters below the Aerial Lift Bridge before encountering the day's opponent: sheets of ice that from the deck looked like a topographical map of a barren arctic world. There were ice ridges like mountain ranges, and cracks and fissures that wove like rivers and hand-drawn borders.

No matter. The Alder conquered it all. Knifing for 4 ½ miles up the Duluth shoreline, about 800 yards offshore by eyeball, the Alder pressed and the world around it gave way in surrender. Watching ice yield to hull was hypnotic, akin to a bonfire trance, only instead of sparks Alexis Cook was sprayed with pellets of ice and frigid wash. The middle school science teacher from Superior's Cathedral School was prepared in waterproof gear from head to toe.

"I love being on boats, but you don't usually get to go out when the lake is covered in ice," Cook said. "It's so beautiful; it's perfect."

From the bow of the boat the stiff northerly wind brought tears to a person's eyes, but the two lookouts posted there kept their binoculars drawn in search of obstacles. There was nothing. Then there was something. Open water. The last of the ice sloughed off and what had been a bumpy ride on a gravel road suddenly went smooth amid the rolling open sea. The only hiccup on the trip out was a particularly rugged field of ice directly offshore from the Lakewalk Surgery Center. Once the Alder has to ratchet its speed down to a single knot, said Lt. Cmdr. Anthony Maffia, it's time to "back up and take a run at it."

One ram was all the Alder needed to breach the stubborn ice and advance.

"We're golden," said Maffia, who noted that the year's first ship traffic figures to come next week, when the thousand-foot Mesabi Miner departs from the Midwest Energy Resources Company dock with a load of coal. The Soo Locks at the east end of Lake Superior are scheduled to open at midnight on March 25.

Commissioned in 2004, the Alder is a cherry of a ride. With its reinforced black steel hull and two-story engine, it's got a muscle car's appeal. The rumbling engine room requires double ear protection — plugs and muffs — and was strictly off-limits for the guests. Outside it, the noise was a purr with the ice being blended into submission as the prevailing auditory sensation.

The Alder's usual duty is as an aid to navigation. Soon, the Alder will be spreading buoys throughout shipping channels from Duluth to Michigan. These aren't beach buoys that mark swimming areas. Rather, they're buoys the size of space capsules that bob and dip while tethered to enormous cement blocks that sink and rest on the lake floor. The Alder features a massive crane meant for lifting, placing and retrieving some 120 buoys, said Cierra Waitman, a 24-year-old Virginian and one of the Alder's several female crewmembers.

"Buoy run's about four weeks long," Waitman said succinctly.

Ice-breaking, the Coast Guard says, it does to aid commerce. On the return trip home to its dock on Park Point, the Alder retraced its path, widening the track before counting on the sun to keep the slush from freezing back over again.

"The big thing is we made it to water's edge," said Lt. Junior Grade Derrick Rockey. "We found open water, which is good."

Good, too, for the guests, who were treated to California burgers and a fine cup of coffee.

"Better than I ever expected," said Minneapolis resident and museum member Wayne Halverson of the voyage. "It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience."

Duluth News Tribune


Corps of Engineers will rebuild Oswego Harbor breakwater in $18.9 million project

3/14 - Washington, D.C. – After 130 years of service, the crumbling breakwater in Oswego Harbor will finally receive a facelift this summer.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has agreed to rebuild the massive structure built in the 1880s at the Oswego Harbor entrance to Lake Ontario, U.S. Rep. John Katko said Thursday.

Work on the $18.9 million breakwater project will likely begin in July, Katko said. The 7,200-foot-long wall shields Oswego Harbor from the sometimes destructive waves of Lake Ontario, helping to keep the harbor safe for recreational boating and docking at the Port of Oswego.

The Army Corps of Engineers discovered the breakwater deteriorated more than previously known after Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

"Right now, it's not performing its job properly," Katko said of the breakwater, adding that the project will be paid for with federal relief money set aside for Hurricane Sandy damage.

The Army Corps of Engineers also agreed to begin a $1.28 million dredging project in the Port of Oswego in late 2015 or early next year, according to Katko and U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer who advocated for the project.

A smaller $786,000 dredging project began last year in Oswego Harbor. Schumer is among those who have pressed the Army Corps to begin a long-term schedule of regular harbor dredging.

Schumer, D-N.Y., said a full dredging is recommended every three-to-four years, but Oswego Harbor has not had a routine dredging schedule since 2008.

Schumer said the dredging will help the Port of Oswego and Oswego Harbor continue to grow as a vital economic center in Central New York. He had previously sought $4 million to repair the breakwater.

Katko, R-Camillus, who spent the past two days in Oswego, agrees that the harbor and port are a key to the region's future.

"I'm working very hard with the port director," Katko said. "The breakwater and the dredging are the first of many steps. There is a lot more that can and will be done."


Seaway notices issued

3/14 - The St. Lawrence Seaway has issued eight new notices. Read them here:


Shipwreck film part of upcoming Detroit festival

3/14 - Detroit, Mich. – A deep dive into Great Lakes shipwrecks and an up-close look at a photographer who has been following the Detroit Fire Department for more than 50 years will screen together on Freep Film Festival’s opening night, Thursday March 19.

The Fire + Water double feature will include two films, both produced by the Free Press’ Emmy-winning video team:

“Fire Photo -> 1” tells the story of unassuming, affable Bill Eisner, who has amassed a visual history of the Detroit Fire Department that’s been described as a priceless museum. His archive is gargantuan: hundreds of thousands of photographs, Super 8mm film reels, boxes of videotapes and audio cassette recordings that include dispatch traffic from the ’67 riots. While many of his photos have been published over the years, they represent a minuscule fraction of what he’s shot. As a matter of fact, even Eisner has photographs that he’s never seen, tossed into a box after being developed as he raced to another fire.

“Graveyard of the Great Lakes: A Shipwreck Hunter’s Quest to Discover the Past” profiles David Trotter, who has discovered nearly 100 shipwrecks in his 35 years of exploring the Great Lakes. Filmmaker Eric Seals spent nearly two years documenting the story of the 74-year-old Trotter, Michigan’s maritime history and people’s fascination with shipwrecks. Each discovery brings tales of lost souls, heroes and survivors.

This includes an underwater visit deep in the middle of Lake Huron to explore the wreck of the Keystone State, which was swallowed up by Lake Huron in 1861, claiming the lives of all 33 on board. Its final resting place was a mystery until now. Viewers will also meet Dennis Hale, the lone survivor of the Daniel J. Morrell, one of the last shipwrecks of the modern era.

The opening night Fire + Water double feature screens at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 19, at the Fillmore Detroit, 2115 Woodward Ave. Tickets ($20) include a small pop and popcorn. They can be bought at the Fillmore Detroit box office.

Detroit Free Press


Lookback #482 – Collingwood-built Hopedale caught fire on March 14, 1984

Hopedale was Hull 168 from the Collingwood shipyard. The 190 foot long passenger and cargo ship was launched on Aug. 5, 1960, and cleared for the East Coast of Canada on Nov. 23 1960.

This vessel was designed to carry passengers and freight along the coast of Labrador in summer and could visit as many as 30 ports on one of its 5 to 7 day voyages. It was operated by the Canadian Department of Transport, under C.N. Rail, and equipped with accommodation for up to 30 travelers. A crew of 25 kept the ship operating. During the winter months, Hopedale provided service to communities around the south coast of Newfoundland.

The ship was holed by ice while on a mercy mission off Newfoundland on May 27, 1962. It was going from Baie Verte to St. John's but remained afloat.

On March 14, 1984, 31 years ago today, a fire broke out in the engineroom due to an explosion while the ship was at Port aux Basques, NF. Several bulkheads caved in from the heat and the next day the ship rolled over and sank at the dock.

Atlantic Salvage was able to bring sufficient buoyancy to the hull that enabled them to tow Hopedale out to sea where it was scuttled, upside down, on June 22, 1984.

Skip Gillham


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 phosphates 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.


U.S. Steel will idle its Keetac operations starting in May

3/13 - Duluth, Minn. – U.S. Steel announced Thursday that it will idle its Keetac taconite iron ore operations starting May 13, another victim of the huge glut of global iron ore and steel that’s far outpacing demand.

The company said up to 412 workers at the facility will be affected and that they are being notified as required by federal labor regulations.

Some employees will be kept on to maintain the operations, so the exact number of layoffs hasn't yet been determined, the company said.

Pittsburgh-based U.S. Steel said the Keewatin plant will be idled indefinitely “due to the company’s current inventory levels and ongoing adjustment of its steelmaking operations throughout North America to match customer demand.”

“These ongoing operational adjustments are a result of challenging market conditions that reflect the cyclical nature of the industry,” the company said in a statement Thursday. “Global influences in the market, including a high level of imports, unfairly traded products and reduced steel prices, continue to have an impact.”

While demand for steel in the U.S. has been steady or even increasing because of the growing economy, much of that demand is being met with foreign-made steel that’s made with foreign-mined iron ore. That has thwarted demand for Minnesota taconite iron ore.

“They used the word idle and they used the word temporary, so that gives me some some hope,” said state Rep. Tom Anzelc, DFL-Balsam Township, who once worked at the Keetac facility. “But if the market conditions on the global scale don’t improve, I fear this cold be a long-term situation.”

Anzelc said he’s asked Minnesota's congressional delegation to push for stronger, broader action to stop the flood of foreign steel into the U.S. So far, those efforts have been slow to develop.

The Keetac shutdown is the second announced in recent weeks, with Magnetation last month saying it would indefinitely close its Plant No. 1, also in Keewatin, in an effort to cut costs. That shutdown will put 49 people out of work.

Keewatin Mayor Bill King said the Keetac plant manager notified him of the shutdown Thursday morning. Many of the plant’s workers live nearby, making Thursday’s mood on the west Range somber.

“It’s never easy when this happens. The only thing we can do is hope that it doesn't last very long,” King said.

The pending shutdown “doesn't really surprise me. Anyone who has followed the industry has seen the handwriting going up on the wall,” King added.

U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan and U.S. Sen. Al Franken blamed the layoffs on a lack of U.S. policy to keep foreign subsidized steel out of the country. The Minnesota Democrats have called for steep tariffs on steel imports.

“This announcement of layoffs at Keewatin Taconite is very serious, extremely disturbing and a direct effect of U.S. trade policies that over the years have allowed nations such as China, India and South Korea to illegally dump millions of tons of cheap, low-grade, foreign government-subsidized steel into the U.S. marketplace,” Nolan said. Those policies are “depressing prices and putting more than 50,000 jobs across America’s iron ore and steel industry in jeopardy.”

Nolan said he’s asked to meet with top U.S. Steel officials later this month in Washington.

The current downturn appears to be the worst on the Range since 2009 when all of the state's major mining operations were shut down at once due to the global economic recession. Taconite production didn’t fully recover until about 2011.

Global iron ore prices have dropped by more than 50 percent in the past 18 months, with slower demand in China and huge increases in iron ore output in Australia. Since 2011, iron ore prices have dropped by two-thirds, from nearly $190 per ton to about $58 per ton Thursday. That's less than the price of production for some Minnesota operations.

U.S. Steel said operations at its much larger Minntac mine and plant in Mountain Iron will not be affected by the current move.

State Rep. Carly Melin, DFL-Hibbing, who represents Keewatin, said the experience of shutdowns and layoffs are familiar on the Iron Range where generations have had to live with the cyclical nature of the global iron ore and steel industries.

“This is difficult news for so many of my friends and neighbors whose families earn a living at Keewatin Taconite,” Melin said in a statement. “Over the last few years, foreign countries have flooded the world’s steel markets with cheap steel, undercutting the American steel industry which in turn has threatened mining on the Iron Range.”

Melin said Range lawmakers are working with United Steelworkers of America Local 2660 to provide easy access to unemployment benefits for the displaced workers.

“Unfortunately, this situation is not an unfamiliar experience for the Iron Range. We will get through this by working together to get Keewatin Taconite back up and running and taking care of the workers in the meantime.”

Melin said workers seeking unemployment benefits can apply online at Industry analysts note that the global oversupply of iron ore — the amount produced compared to demand to make steel — sat at just 14 million tons in 2013 but rose to 72 million tons last year. This year the oversupply is expected to hit 175 million tons.

Minnesota produces less than 40 million tons annually, with some production also in Michigan; they’re the only iron ore-producing states in the U.S. By contrast, one new Australian mine will produce more iron ore than all U.S. producers combined.

Analysts have reported that some foreign producers have production costs as low as $50 per ton. By comparison, Cliffs Natural Resources announced earlier this year that it hoped to reduced its cost to about $59 per ton for U.S. ore.

Keetac, which came online in 1967 as National Steel Pellet Co., produced and shipped about 5.1 million tons of finished taconite iron ore pellets in 2013, the most recent year state-certified data is available. The company announced in September that it would not move ahead with a $300 million expansion that would have doubled production and added 100 jobs. Company officials at the time said there was simply no need for more domestic iron ore.

Unlike high-grade natural iron ore still mined in Australia and other nations, taconite iron ore must first be concentrated to upgrade its iron content and then processed into pellets, a process that makes the Minnesota product more expensive than some foreign competitors. Minnesota essentially ran out of high-grade natural ore over the past 50 years, forcing the move to taconite.

Duluth News Tribune


100 years later, renewed interest in worst disaster on the Great Lakes

3/13 - Chicago, Ill. – Standing on a chair, the little girl looks up at the photographer and clutches a small cross hanging around her neck.

It's impossible to know what she's thinking at the moment the shutter clicked, but the toddler in a striped dress, black leggings and tiny black shoes has just survived the worst maritime disaster on the Great Lakes, a capsizing that instantly turned her into an orphan.

It was supposed to be a fun outing for Western Electric Co. employees and their families, a trip from Chicago across Lake Michigan for a picnic on a summer day. Among the Eastland passengers on the morning of July 24, 1915, was 2-year-old Eleanor Freilich, her father, John, who earned $23 a week for the electric company, her Polish-born mother, Hattie, and her mother's 17-year-old sister, Josepha Zimma.

Loaded down with more than 2,000 passengers, the top-heavy Eastland began listing back and forth for about 40 minutes as more passengers boarded before it rolled over while still at the dock. Hundreds of people were trapped inside the ship, crushed to death or drowned. Within minutes 844 people were dead, among them Freilich's family.

A presentation by the Eastland Disaster Historical Society is scheduled Friday at 7 p.m. at the Ghost Ships Festival in Milwaukee.

Eleanor was raised by her grandparents in Chicago and became a nun in School Sisters of St. Francis, serving as a music teacher and working in the finance department before dying at the age of 90 in 2002. She served for decades in southeastern Wisconsin and is buried at Mount Olivet Cemetery in Milwaukee.

Just how the little girl survived the Eastland disaster while her parents and aunt were killed is not known, said Ted Wachholz, executive director and chief historian for the Eastland Disaster Historical Society. His wife and sister-in-law are granddaughters of an Eastland survivor and will give the lecture and PowerPoint presentation Friday in Milwaukee.

"Eleanor's story for me was always interesting, going from holding the gold cross necklace in the photo at the tragedy to becoming a lifelong nun," Wachholz said in a phone interview.

Freilich celebrated her second birthday less than a week before the tragedy. At the age of 20 she became a novice and then a nun a few years later, changing her name to Sister Virgil Froelich.

She played the piano and organ. According to her obituary in the School Sisters of St. Francis newsletter, music was a strength and comfort throughout her life. She taught music at a number of schools in southeastern Wisconsin including St. Kilian School in Hartford in the 1940s and St. Lawrence School and Our Lady of Sorrows in Milwaukee in the 1960s, '70s and '80s. A School Sisters of St. Francis nun remembered Sister Virgil this week as a pleasant, outgoing person who conducted parish choirs and taught music.

One Eastland victim is buried in Stevens Point: Paul Karner, 23, was working as a stock keeper for Western Salt Co. in Chicago when he boarded the Eastland. Perhaps he was friends with a Western Electric employee or had gotten a ticket to the picnic from his sister, a phone operator. His employer paid to return Karner's body to his hometown for burial.

With renewed interest in the disaster because of the 100th anniversary, researchers have made startling discoveries of video footage of recovery efforts that no one knew were in film archives. Last month the first film clip was discovered by a graduate student and a 60-second video of the recovery of a girl's body was found a few weeks later by another student.

Though no one was held criminally liable for the disaster, a lawsuit two decades later faulted the chief engineer, who was dead by then, for improperly managing the ship's ballast. But the ballast isn't what caused the Eastland to roll over.

"It's one of those things that definitely no one expected. Hitting an iceberg on the open seas, being torpedoed, a collision with another ship, those were all the risks with maritime travel. But a ship still tied to the wharf in the middle of Chicago in summer? That shouldn't happen," said Wachholz.

Three weeks before the tragedy, three additional lifeboats and six more life rafts were added to the top deck and rotting wood on that deck was shored up with concrete, adding more than 60 tons of weight. The largest number of people the Eastland had carried before that day was around 1,100.

The Eastland capsized because it was top heavy.

Tickets for the Eastland Disaster presentation are $25 at the door of the Ghost Ships Festival at the Crowne Plaza Milwaukee Airport Hotel, 6401 S. 13th St. For more information:

Journal Sentinel


All Aboard the Alder: A look at life inside the Coast Guard cutter

3/13 - Duluth, Minn. – The U.S. Coast Guard cutter Alder started breaking ice on Monday, and since then all hands have been on deck to pave the way for the spring shipping season.

"Right now we are preparing the inbound and outbound track for the Duluth-Superior Harbor," said Lt. j.g. Barton Nanney, the deck watch officer. "Just getting ready for the shipping season, but also just kind of doing a little bit of recon to see how bad the ice is out there."

Nanney's job is a managerial one. He stands on the bridge and gives directions about where to go, when. "Basically I drive the ship," he said.

His job is just one of many moving parts on the Alder. It takes a lot of people to get Lake Superior ready for the Lakers. For instance, Seaman Cierra Waitman's role at the front of the ship, or the forecastle, is called "Special Sea Detail."

"We'll stand up here and make sure that we're not supposed to be running into anything," she said. "We're also up here to drop the anchor if we need to, in case there's an emergency."

While she's hard at work up above, there's plenty of action down in the engine room. "It gets loud, it gets hot," said Machinery Technician Chief E-7 James Walker. "But it's nice in the wintertime. It's warm."

The people working down below are engineers, or as they like to call themselves, "bilge rats."

"There's all kinds of colorful terms you can think of," Walker said. "The bilge is, of course, getting dirty, so someone has to crawl down there and clean it."

Walker said this is his first ice-breaking post, and he likes it so far. But down here, he doesn't worry too much about the actual cutting. "I just keep the engines running and they worry about breaking the ice," he said. "I just make sure they can still do it."

From the engine room to the bridge, the memory of last year's ice is still sharp for anyone who was there to see it.

"That was a crazy winter," Cierra Waitman said. "I didn't think ice could get that thick." By "thick," she means up to 6 feet in some places.

"We did everything about 40 to 50 yards at a time," Nanney said. "Backing and ramming, just get a good run at it and go another 50 yards. ... It was a little frustrating, but it's a good stress relief. Just kind of run into a bunch of ice and see how much you can break."

Nanney said this year is off to a better start. "We're looking at probably about 6 inches out here, maybe a foot in some places," he said. "We've seen a couple pressure ridges that are a couple feet thick."

As far as the whole lake goes, he said only time will tell.

"It kind of depends," he said. "There's a couple of trouble spots on the lake. Whitefish Bay over to the east is usually pretty thick, and no one's been over there yet. So that's going to be kind of a tell to see how bad it's going to be."

Nanney said the Alder will be clearing paths in the Duluth-Superior Harbor for another week or so, and then head farther out into the lake. They don't have their marching orders yet, but he said they could possibly be heading to Thunder Bay or Marquette.



City wants Captain John’s moved by May 11

3/13 - Toronto, Ont. – Captain John’s Restaurant is sailing back into court March 17 as Ports Toronto seeks approval to find a new buyer and get the rusting relic towed away from the waterfront before summer.

The agency, formerly the Toronto Port Authority, will ask the Federal Court for approval to put the 300-foot ship, the Jadran, up for sale again and start tours with potential buyers at the end of March — this time with a firm timeline and conditions for anyone making a bid.

“Our priority is to make sure the ship is removed and removed safely and these requirements will help ensure that,” said Erin Mikaluk, a spokesperson for Ports Toronto.

Any bids will have to come with a detailed plan for how the former floating restaurant, shut down by the city in 2012, will be towed out of its prime slip at the foot of Yonge St. by Ports Toronto’s new deadline of May 11.

They will also have to ensure there are environmental safeguards in place for what is expected to be a highly risky move. Inspections have pointed to evidence of asbestos and other toxins, including lead paint, on board, and the interior has been so gutted by owner “Captain” John Letnik over the years that the ship now appears to be top heavy.

Ports Toronto has also tried to get around the biggest sticking point so far: any potential buyer will have to have an approved destination for the ship.

Captain John’s was shut down almost three years ago and put up for auction last July because Letnik owes more than $2 million in back taxes, berthing fees and mortgages.

Toronto entrepreneur James Sbrolla had the winning bid of $33,501 for the 300-foot ship at last summer’s court-ordered auction. But he was unable to finalize a deal with what was then the Toronto Port Authority. The agency later returned his money, because they objected to his plan to move the ship to the foot of Parliament St. and do work on it there.

Sbrolla said Wednesday that he was “disappointed” to find out Ports Toronto is going back to court and still considers himself the rightful buyer.

“I accepted my money back assuming that we were going to discuss doing this project in the spring. There’s still a court order saying this is our project,” said Sbrolla in a telephone interview.

Sbrolla, a risk-taking investor in recycling and clean technology companies, is leaving on a two-week ship excursion to Antarctica and wasn’t aware of the March 17 court date.

It’s been unclear if his end game was to save or scrap the ship, but finding a new buyer is going to be a huge challenge.

The only other bid considered by the court last July was from a veteran ship recycler who made it clear the Jadran was essentially beyond saving.

In fact, he was seeking more than $303,000 from the Port Authority — the cost of the hefty insurance, environmental approvals, preparation work and the two tugs needed to safely drag the ship to a scrapyard, as it no longer has a working engine.

Toronto Star


Shipwreck explorers solve 75-year-old mystery surrounding William B. Davock

3/13 - A group of West Michigan-based shipwreck explorers have solved a mystery that has puzzled historians for more than 75 years.

It was during the Armistice Day storm of 1940 when the freighter, the William B. Davock, disappeared beneath the waves of Lake Michigan after being caught in 80-mile per hour winds and 30-foot waves.

Thirty-two years later, the 420-foot Davock was discovered in 200 feet of water just off the coast of Pentwater, but how it met its final demise could not be determined.

"Visibility in those days was pretty bad," said Valerie van Heest, a maritime historian and director of Michigan Shipwreck Research Association (MSRA), a nonprofit underwater archaeological organization. "All the divers could see and report was that the wreck in one piece and was upside down."

Recently, members of MSRA have revealed what they believe caused the vessel to sink after observing the wreck on a crystal-clear day in the fall of 2014. MSRA diver Jeff Vos, of Holland, was the man who captured the only known footage of the wreck.

His findings revealed the cause of the wreck occurred at the stern where the vessel's rudder is seen broken and one of the four blades of the propeller is snapped.

"The waves were so strong, they must have snapped the rudder's connection, at which point it swung so far over that it struck the propeller," Vos, who is also an engineer and avid boater said in a news release. "With no power or steering, the Davock would have been at the mercy of the storm."

Craig Rich, MSRA board member, further explained what caused the ship's demise.

"It would have sent the ship into what we call a shivering mode," he said. "Without the rudder, it wouldn't have been able to steer and without the propeller working properly you can't drive it forward. The ship would have gone into the trough of the wave sideways which would have swamped the ship."

Rich was not part of the dive team that discovered the cause of the ship's sinking but was present the day it happened.

But why hasn't it been until now that the wreck has been further examined?

The answer to that is two-fold. According to van Heest, the fact that the wreck is so deep and upside down has detered divers from even trying. In the past, those that have even tried have encountered such bad visibility they could barely even find the wreck, much less film it. At the time of the MSRA crew's discovery, that wasn't the case.

Rich said Lake Michigan has become increasingly clear in recent years thanks in part to the presence of zebra mussels that, while invasive, have helped clean up some of the murk of the water. At times, there is visibility in water 80 to 100 feet deep, Hill said.

"We decided to give it a shot," Rich added. "The divers didn't even use a light for the discovery. It's not as warm as it is in the Caribbean, but it's certainly starting to rival it in clarity. It was a warm, sunny day. The ambient light was amazing."

MSRA plans to present the entire story of the Davock, as well as those of the several other ships lost during the Armistice Day storm, at its annual show. The event, titled "Mysteries and Histories beneath the Inland Seas" is scheduled to take place at the Knickerbocker Theater in Holland at 7 p.m. on March 21.

For the members of MSRA, the thrill of discovering and solving mysteries surrounding sunken vessels on the Great Lakes is what continues to motivate them. And for the families of the men and women lost at sea, the significance of those revelations cannot be understated.

Arnold Johnson is the son of one of the crewmen aboard the Davock. His father's body was never recovered. Johnson was waiting for the divers at the dock in Pentwater following their discovery, according to Rich. He was the first person to see video of the wreck that took his father's life.

"My dad is still down there," Johnson reacted, according to a news release. "This shipwreck is his grave."

At least now, the cause of his passing is no longer a mystery.

M Live


Lookback #481 – Former Fort Ramezay sank in heavy weather on March 13, 1993

Fort Ramezay was built at Sorel, Quebec, in 1963 and was designed for year around trading on the St. Lawrence. It plied the north shore route from Quebec City, later Montreal, to Sept-Iles and points east to Blanc Sablon.

While built as a 196 foot, 3 inch long freighter, it was lengthened to 217 feet in 1966. The ship spent most of it time on the northshore run but it did come through the Seaway and into the Great Lakes in each of 1976, 1978, 1987 and 1989. Fort Ramezay also traveled north to Arctic communities.

The ship was laid up at Quebec City in 1989 and remained there until sold in 1991. It was re-registered as b) Scarpati I and sailed south for the Caribbean on July 9, 1991, under the flag of Panama.

The name was changed to c) Fantastico, with registry in Honduras, in 1991. It ran into heavy weather while on the Gulf of Mexico on March 13, 1993, and capsized southwest of Fort Myers, Florida.

Three of the crew died before rescue helicopters could reach the scene and another four were listed as missing. Only three sailors among the 10 member crew were saved before the ship went down 22 years ago today.

Skip Gillham


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.


St. Marys River icebreaking operations set to start

3/12 - Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. – On Friday, the United States Coast Guard will begin icebreaking operations in the St. Marys River in preparation for the 2015 shipping season. These operations will begin in the lower river near Detour, and extend north to the Locks in Sault Ste. Marie. Conducting the ice breaking work will be U.S. Coast Guard Cutters Mackinaw (Cheboygan, Mich.), Biscayne Bay (St. Ignace, Mich.), Mobile Bay (Sturgeon Bay, Wis.) and Katmai Bay (Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.).

Icebreaking operations will involve work in the upbound channel, also known as the Middle Neebish Channel, from the Detour to the Sault Locks, the lower portion of the West Neebish Channel from Mud Lake Junction Light up to the ice edge near West Neebish LT 29. The upper portion of the West Neebish Channel above light 45 will also be broken out. The ice bridge above the ferry landing to Neebish Island will not be impacted by this work. The West Neebish Channel in its entirety will be opened just prior to the March 25 opening of the Soo Locks. U.S. Coast Guard personnel will work with EUPTA officials to ensure the impact to ferries are kept to a minimum throughout the break out process.

All-terrain vehicle operators, snowmobilers and other recreational users of the ice should avoid any proximity to the shipping channels, plan their activity carefully, and use caution near the ice. Additionally, all ice fishermen should remove their ice shacks from areas close to the shipping channels.



Port Reports -  March 12

Sturgeon Bay, Wis. – Jim Conlon
On Tuesday, the USCG icebreakers Mobile Bay and Mackinaw conducted an ice breaking operation in the bay of Sturgeon Bay. They broke a track from the ship canal on the Lake Michigan side of the peninsula to several miles north of Sherwood Point on the Green Bay side of the peninsula. The purpose was make a track and turning basin for the five1,000-foot ships when they start to leave Bay Shipbuilding in about 12-15 days to begin another shipping season.

Welland Canal –
The ice in Lock 8 of the Welland Canal, at Port Colborne is four feet thick. St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp. officials are clearing the lock of ice before the opening of the canal.


Lookback #480 – Former Letitia caught fire in the Gulf of Mexico on March 12, 1985

Letitia was built by Hall, Russell & Co. and launched at Aberdeen, Scotland, on Jan. 16, 1961. It joined the Donaldson Line Ltd., in April and turned out to be the final ship delivered to the historic British company.

The 416-foot, 3-inch-long motor vessel could carry in the range of 6,150 tons of cargo. It was strengthened for navigation in ice, equipped with passenger accommodations and constructed for service between the United Kingdom and Canada.

Letitia began Seaway service with four trips in 1965 and was back three more times in 1966. It was sold and renamed b) Bibi in 1967, c) Tepic in 1977 and d) Tepora in 1984. The latter was registered in Honduras and working on the Gulf of Mexico when a fire broke out 30 years ago today. All on board abandoned the ship but the vessel was later reboarded and the blaze was put out.

Tepora was taken in tow but the fire restarted and the ship sank on March 14, 1985, about 450 miles south of New Orleans.

Skip Gillham


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


Future still uncertain for American Fortitude

3/11 - Oswego, N.Y. - American Fortitude, a 690-foot vessel docked at the Port of Oswego Authority, is wintering well. The future of the ship, though, once one of the largest and fastest on the Great Lakes and more than two football fields in length, remains uncertain.

"There's no problems," said Zelko Kirincich, executive director of the Oswego Port Authority. "It's all iced in, but that should change soon. There's not a drop of water inside and we check the lines every day and they're in great shape."

The boat's time on the Great Lakes is quickly coming to a close. A Texas holding company owns it but is still up in the air about whether to scrap it or sell it for use overseas. The contract for docking it at Oswego expires April 15, Zelko said, and arrangements are starting to be made to move it from Oswego.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Coast guard and local emergency management officials are working with Zelko to set up emergency boarding exercises during the next few weeks.

"It's a perfect ship for it. We're just trying to coordinate things and set a date," he said. "It's a wonderful ship," Zelko said of American Fortitude. "The new ones should be as well-maintained."


Coast Guard urges caution on Great Lakes amid warmer weather

3/11 - Detroit, Mich. – The U.S. Coast Guard is urging people to use caution on Great Lakes waterways due to warmer temperatures and unstable ice. The warning specifically mentions Lake Superior and the northern parts of Lake Michigan and Lake Huron.

People are at risk of falling through the ice during above freezing-temperatures. The Coast Guard also notes that ice-breaking in harbors, ports and waterways also is increasing throughout the Great Lakes in preparation for the March 25 opening of the Soo Locks.

The Coast Guard says people should stay away from cracks, seams, pressure ridges, slushy areas and darker areas of ice since these could be hazards.

Meanwhile, The Muskegon Chronicle reports utility Consumers Energy is warning outdoor enthusiasts about thin ice and open water surrounding its generating and hydroelectric plants in Michigan.

Associated Press


GLMA to host Captain’s Dinner April 11

3/11 - Great Lakes Maritime Academy will host the second annual Captain’s Dinner April 11 at the Traverse City, Mich.-based school The event, hosted by various clubs at the academy (Women on the Water, the GLMA Sailing Team and the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers), also includes an auction and several tours. The tour contains the following:

• a tour of the full-bridge training simulator
• a tour of the GMDSS training simulator
• a tour of the rigging lab (a training facility for deck cadets and engineers)
• a tour of the training ship State of Michigan

For more reservations or more information


Lookback #479 – Former Seaway trader Melina broke in two and sank March 11, 1975

The bulk carrier Melina was ten years old when it began Great Lakes trading in 1971. The ship had been built as the Norwegian flag freighter Mogen at Deptford, England, and completed in July 1961. The 566 foot, 2 inch long vessel was had three cargo holds and 5 hatches.

Mogen was sold and re-registered in Greece as Melina in 1969. It came through the Seaway in 1971 but was sold again the next year and renamed Oinoussian Scientist. It passed into another Greek flag enterprise as Freights Queen in 1974 before being lost early the next year.

The ship had loaded iron ore at Rio de Janiero, Brazil, and was on a voyage to Emden, West Germany, when it broke in two on March 11, 1975. The accident of 40 years ago today led to the sinking of the ship and 25 of the 32 sailors on board were lost. It went down in the approximate position of 36.00 N / 14.00 W which would be in the Atlantic off the west coast of North Africa. Only seven members of the crew survived.

Skip Gillham


Today in Great Lakes History -  March 11

The keel was laid March 11, 1976, for the 660-foot-long 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.

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 since January 1 and one member of the crew perished in the blaze.

1912: FLORA M. HILL sank in Lake Michigan en route to Chicago after being caught in an ice floe 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.


Algoma to build 2 handy-size self-unloaders in Croatia

3/10 - The 3 Maj Shipyard in Croatia has announced a contract with Algoma Central Corp. to build two 24,900 ton (i.e. 650-foot-sized) capacity self unloaders. These will be bow-mounted units and are likely intended to replace the aging Algoway and Algorail. Delivery is set for 2017.

This is the same yard that built Algoma’s Algoma Guardian, Algoma Discovery and Algoma Spirit, which began their careers as saltwater vessels.

Ted Wilush


Great Lakes opening: Ice conditions better than last year

3/10 - Marquette, Mich. - With spring icebreaking efforts set to begin Monday in western Lake Superior, U.S. Coast Guard officials said ice conditions this year are much improved from last year when ice remained in Marquette into the first week in June.

The U.S. Coast Guard cutter Alder was set to start breaking ice in the Duluth, Minnesota, and Superior, Wisconsin, area today, with the operations expected to continue there over several days.

The Coast Guard provides icebreaking assistance in U.S. waters where commercial icebreaking resources are either unavailable or incapable of handling the difficult ice conditions. Under an international agreement, the Coast Guard may also provide icebreaking efforts in Canadian waters.

Coast Guard officials said initial operations would be conducted inside the Duluth/Superior Harbor, then be expanded offshore. Eventually, icebreakers will head north to Two Harbors, Taconite Harbor and Silver Bay in Minnesota and Thunder Bay in Ontario.

Mark Gill, director of Vessel Traffic Service at the St. Marys River in Sault Ste. Marie, said the Minnesota-Wisconsin western Lake Superior operation was set to begin March 4, but was postponed as air temperatures dropped below predictions.

"Although this year's ice coverage is similar to that experienced last year, the thickness of the ice is down roughly 35 percent," Gill said. "Working in our favor this year, the forecasted temperatures are far better this spring than last. Although it is colder than normal, our temperatures will slowly rise as we progress through March."

Gill said over the past week, increased sunlight reduced Great Lakes ice cover by 11 percent.

"This was not the case last year as we built ice into the middle of March and didn't begin to see signs of deterioration until mid-April," Gill said. "This year the (Soo) Lock opening, traffic hinderance and ice deterioration will be closer to normal. Yes, there will be delays as we have a little more ice than normal, but nothing close to that experienced last year."

Last year, Coast Guard cutters battled ice more than 6 feet thick in some places. The ice on Lake Superior was at its thickest in two decades. The Great Lakes overall were almost completely locked in ice for the first time since 1979.

The local shipping season was delayed as freighters were unable to reach Marquette's Upper Harbor. Cutters were leading ships in convoys across Lake Superior. McCarty's Cove in Marquette remained locked in ice as late as Memorial Day weekend.

In January, icebreakers were assigned to the lakes and some efforts have been under way to assist Great Lakes vessels since. This month, the Soo Locks are scheduled to re-open March 25.

"In the next couple of weeks, icebreakers will begin regional waterway breakouts in advance of the lock opening," Gill said.

This week, in addition to icebreaking in western Lake Superior, the Coast Guard will also be breaking ice in Green Bay. Next week, cutters are scheduled to be working in the Straits of Mackinac and on the St. Marys River.

Gill said the Coast Guard had no current plans of icebreaking in Marquette, but he expected that to change as the commercial shipping industry announces plans to reach the Upper Harbor ore dock.

Mining Journal


Port Reports -  March 10

Buffalo, N.Y. – E.J. Murphy
The Buffalo Fire Department fireboat/icebreaker Edward M. Cotter has been breaking ice along the Buffalo River shipping channel from South Park Avenue to the mouth of the river in the north harbor entrance since Feb. 27. This has become a daily duty for the crew, captained by Lt. Tom Bunk, BFD.


Great Lakes ice disappearing rapidly in view from space

3/10 - The Great Lakes ice cover is going down now, and on some lakes it's disappearing rapidly. With a week of above-freezing temperatures coming, the Great Lakes have likely reached peak ice.

The entire Great Lakes system has seen ice cover decrease in the last eight days from peak ice at 88.8 percent to currently 78.5 percent. Since the peak has probably been reached, Great Lakes ice fell short of last year's peak ice cover of 92 percent.

The high-resolution satellite pictures taken over the last few days really show nicely the open water developing on the Great Lakes, and the shifting ice shields.

Lake Superior was 95.6 percent covered with ice just eight days ago, and yesterday was ranked at 90 percent ice-covered. Lake Michigan has seen the ice cover plunge in the last eight days, going from 72.9 percent to now 49 percent. Lake Huron, while still mostly covered in ice, shows a dramatic eastward drift in the ice shield covering it. Lake Huron has only lost 4 percent ice in the last week, but look at the open water developing on the west side of the lake.

Lake Erie is still almost 93 percent covered in ice, but open water is developing on the west end. Lake Ontario ice has plunged from 62 percent six days ago to 48 percent now.

How does this compare to last year?

Last year on March 8 there was still 90.8 percent ice cover on the entire Great Lakes system. All of the Great Lakes except Lake Ontario still had over 90 percent ice cover at this point last year. Lake Ontario was 55 percent ice covered this time last year, which is still higher than currently.

With milder air moving in for at least the next five days, there will be even more melting this week.

If you want to see the ice caves, or look at the ice, you will need to do it this week. Be extremely careful and do not go out onto the ice. It will be getting weaker and shifting around. Also be very careful ice fishing. Open water on Lake Huron makes it easier for ice to shift on Saginaw Bay, and leave you in a very dangerous situation.

By MLive Chief Meteorologist Mark Torregrossa


Police called to end passenger protest on Strait of Belle Isle ferry

3/10 - Frustration with the ferry service between Newfoundland and Labrador bubbled over on Sunday, with about 20 passengers staging a peaceful sit-in aboard the motor vessel Apollo, which is docked at St. Barbe on the Northern Peninsula.

They were demanding the coast guard supply a larger, more powerful icebreaker to deal with the jammed-up Strait of Belle Isle, and hoping to draw attention to what they believe is a substandard service.

"We're tired of having this service denied to us," Blanc Sablon resident Vincent Wellman told CBC News Monday morning.

According to the coast guard's acting superintendent of ice operations, the light icebreaker Anne Harvey is still standing by to assist the MV Apollo in St. Barbe. Rebecca Acton-Bond said a larger vessel may not be able to make the crossing either.

"When there's that much [ice] pressure, the track closes in so quickly behind them that they're not able to move the Apollo through the track," Acton-Bond said.

There hasn’t been any crossings since March 5, when the Apollo struggled for 18 hours to travel the 28 kilometres from Blanc Sablon to St. Barbe.

Many travellers — commercial and private — have been stranded for up to seven days on both sides of the Strait of Belle Isle, leading to a growing sense of irritation among those impacted.

People have been venting their anger on social media at the service provider — Woodward Group of Companies — and the coast guard. When Sunday's attempted crossing failed, some passengers refused to leave the galley for about two hours.

Wellman described the conditions faced by some travellers as "inhumane," with people sleeping in their vehicles in the dead of winter, or absorbing the costs of paying for accommodations.

He said it's inexcusable that this "essential service" is so routinely disrupted by ice conditions. "They should have something that can cross in these conditions," said Wellman.

Two women trying to get to Labrador to see their dying father are among those waiting for a crossing.

Leona Buckle says she and her sister have been waiting four days for the ferry to leave St. Barbe. They also tried to get seats on a flight, then tried to book a charter, and even asked the mail plane to take them.

Dave Leyden, operations manager with the Woodward Group of Companies, said he understands that the service interruptions are frustrating for travellers and having a financial impact on many people. But he said it's beyond the company's control.

He described ice conditions as "terrible," with wind conditions funneling ice into the Strait and making it all but impossible to navigate.

Leyden said the crew had no choice but to call the RCMP Sunday because the passengers refusing to leave were blocking those who wanted to disembark. He also said safety rules prevent the company from allowing passengers to stay on board the vessel during such circumstances.

The coast guard has been providing icebreaker assistance, but even this hasn't been enough, said Leyden. According to the coast guard, all icebreakers on the east coast are currently in service. The coast guard is sending the heavy icebreaker Terry Fox to St. Barbe later in the week. It's expected to arrive in time for Wednesday morning's crossing.

"Certainly there is heavy ice in the Strait of Belle Isle but that's not where the heaviest ice is … ice in the Cabot Strait is significantly heavier than ice in Strait of Bell Isle right now," said Acton-Bond.

An attempted crossing on Sunday afternoon was quickly aborted after the Apollo and the Ann Harvey became ensnared in the ice.

"The frustration of passengers is understandable but we are doing all we can to try to get crossings in with the assistance of coast guard," Leyden explained.

Leyden said another attempted crossing will be made Monday morning.

CBC News


Algoma Central announces new CEO

3/10 - St. Catharines, Ont. – Duncan N. R. Jackman, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Algoma Central Corporation, has announced the appointment of Ken Bloch Soerensen as President and Chief Executive Officer effective April 1.

He replaces Greg Wight, who will retire as President and CEO on March 31. Bloch, a native of Denmark and most recently based in Dubai, joins Algoma following a successful career in the international maritime sector.

Wight will hand over the leadership of an organization that operates 31 Great Lakes vessels, has interests in ocean shipping and a real estate portfolio and reported 2014 revenues of $503 million.

"Greg has been instrumental in leading Algoma to its position as one of Canada's preeminent companies,” said Jackman. "On behalf of the board, I thank Greg for his service to the company."

Algoma Central Corp.


Lookback #478 – Package freighter Fort Henry launched on March 10, 1955

As the days approached for the launching of Hull 150, scheduled at Collingwood for March 10, 1955, the name was changed for the ship under construction. Originally the name Fort Garry had been painted on the bow but when the ship slid into the water 60 years ago today, it was known as Fort Henry.

The 461 foot, 6 inch long package freight carrier departed Collingwood on June 1, 1955, and joined Canada Steamship Lines for service between the Canadian Lakehead and company docks from there to Lake Ontario. A fast ship, it achieved 21.9 knots on her trials, powered by a 4,500 horsepower John Inglis steam turbine engine.

Fort Henry struck the Canoe Rocks in western Lake Superior on Dec. 9, 1956, and raced for Fort William as the pumps worked feverishly to keep the damaged freighter afloat. Unloading proceeded round-the-clock and the ship made it into the drydock for a winter's worth of repair work.

The ship tied up at Kingston on July 27, 1978, and was bound for retirement but was reactivated in Oct. 1979 due to an increase in business and an accident to running mate Fort William. When the year ended, Fort Henry resumed lay up and never sailed again.

There was some thought of selling the ship for a new trade under the name Clipper Superior but, in the end, Fort Henry was sold to United Metals for scrap and towed to Hamilton on June 5, 1984.

Some consideration was given to making this a museum ship but in the end, only the forward cabin was removed, taken by barge to Lock 3 in St. Catharines and refurbished for display in 1988. However, the structure was vandalized over time and the remains were broken up during the summer of 2002.

Skip Gillham


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.


Workers ready Soo Locks for upcoming opener

3/9 - Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. – Great Lakes ships aren't moving right now, thanks to ice. But Soo Locks maintenance crews are scurrying — often in the face of bitter cold — to get the channels between Lake Superior and the lower Great Lakes in tip-top shape for a March 25 reopening.

"We're forced to do heavy maintenance at probably the worst time of the year," said Jim Peach, assistant area engineer for the Soo Locks in Sault Ste. Marie. "We always manage to get it done."

Of course whether ships will be there on the first day is anybody's guess. Last year the locks re-opened on March 25 and then waited, waited and waited some more thanks to last year's bitter cold.

"We had a heavy ice pack, so even when the locks opened there were no ships because they couldn't get here," Peach said.

The locks are on the St. Mary's Canal, which connects Lake Superior and Lake Huron and gently lowers ships 21 feet through the course of the canal.

The Soo Locks Visitors Center opens for the season on May 10; people can get up close and personal with the locks during Soo Locks Engineer's Day on June 26.

Detroit Free Press


Port Reports -  March 9

Detroit River
USCG Bristol Bay was working Sunday afternoon below Amherstburg, Ont., with Algoma Hansa, which was upbound. The pair had reached Detroit/Windsor by mid-evening. Algocanada, headed for Nanticoke, was above their position. By mid-evening, Algocanada and the CCGS Griffon were in the Pelee Passage on Lake Erie.


Lookback #477 – Collier returned to dock on March 9, 1960, after earlier grounding

3/9 - After spending much of the winter aground and locked in ice, the retired self-unloader Collier of the Canada Steamship Lines fleet was released, brought back and docked at the Kingston Elevator 55 years ago today.

The vessel had been under tow of the tugs H.J.D. No. 1 and J.C. Stewart when it got loose and grounded on Nov. 26, 1959. The ship had been sold to the Steel Co. of Canada and was headed to their scrap dock at Hamilton when it was anchored for the night in Reed's Bay at the head of Wolfe Island in eastern Lake Ontario. The anchors dragged in the high wind and waves putting the ship aground.

Collier was released in February and finally returned to the Kingston dock on March 9. While there, the stack and pilothouse were removed for installation on the Bayanna. Finally, on April 13, 1960, the tug Salvage Monarch pulled Collier into Hamilton for dismantling in the months ahead.

Collier was built at Barrow-on-Furness, England, and launched as Collier No. 1 on May 6, 1924. It was the first self-unloader in the Canada Steamship Lines fleet and was intended to bring American coal to Fort William, Ont. The unloading machinery was installed on the Great Lakes, over the first winter and it was a unique system by today's standards.

The material was clammed out of the hold and placed in a hopper which fed a conveyor for discharge over the side. The system worked but could only deliver about 500 tons per hour and, in time, proved to be cumbersome.

Renamed Collier in 1928, the ship spent considerable time carrying coal to Lake Erie and Lake Ontario ports. In 1928, it made 72 trips and burned 3,470 tons of coal for the season.

Collier tied up at the end of 1957 and was not expected to run again. However, it was reactivated in the spring of 1958 to carry German made pipe from Montreal to Toronto for pipeline construction. The vessel made several trips in this capacity before resuming long term lay up at Kingston that ended with the trip to the scrapyard.

Skip Gillham


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.


Seaway visitor Redhead loses power

3/8 - The Canfornav ship Redhead sailed from Belledune, NB March 1, and on March 2 reported that she was drifting without power 220 nautical miles southeast of Port Cartier.

Mac Mackay


Lookback #476 – First Prins Frederik Hendrik torpedoed, sunk March 8, 1941

The first Prins Frederik Hendrik lasted only five years but it spent considerable time visiting the Great Lakes during its short career.

The vessel was built at Fredriksstad, Norway, as Taborfjell and completed on August 1, 1936. It came to the Great Lakes, under Norwegian registry, the first year and the 250 foot, 4 inch long by 42 foot, 2 inch wide freighter was an ideal size for the old St. Lawrence Canals.

Taborjell returned inland in 1937 but was sold before the year was out. It joined the Oranje Line as this Dutch flag company was just beginning Great Lakes service. This was one of their first two purchases.

Renamed Prins Frederik Hendrik, it came back to the Great Lakes in 1938, 1939 and 1940 but not without some problems. The vessel went aground in an early morning fog off Wolfe Island in the eastern end of Lake Ontario on May 23, 1939. The tug Salvage Prince pulled the Dutch freighter free the next day.

Then, on August 2, 1939, the ship hit the east wall leaving the Welland Canal at Port Colborne and this required drydocking for bow repairs.

On March 8, 1941, the ship was attacked by German Air Force planes in the St. George's Channel off the coast of the United Kingdom. The vessel was on a voyage from Cardiff, Wales, to Bathurst, New Brunswick but went down 74-years ago today with the loss of eight lives.

The Oranje Lijn built a second Prins Frederik Hendrik in 1947 and it traded in and out of the Great Lakes until 1964.

Skip Gillham - from his column in the Port Colborne Leader of Jan. 29, 2015.


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 announces start of ice breaking activities

3/7 - The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Alder will commence spring ice breaking operations in the Duluth/Superior area on March 9. These operations will continue periodically over the next two weeks throughout the greater Duluth/Superior area.

Initial ice breaking operations will be conducted inside the Duluth/Superior Harbor, then expanding to offshore the Duluth/Superior area. Eventually ice breaking operations will include Two Harbors, Minn., Taconite Harbor, Minn., Silver Bay, Minn., and Thunder Bay, Ont.

U.S. Coast Guard cutters Mackinaw and Mobile Bay will conduct ice breaking operations in the Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal from the canal’s entrance at Lake Michigan west to Sherwood Point Light. These operations will commence Tuesday morning, March 10 to facilitate movement of commercial vessels moored at Bay Ship Building. Operations will continue through March 11.

Upon completion of the operations in the Sturgeon Bay area, Mackinaw and Mobile Bay will expand ice breaking operations to northern Green Bay. The cutters will enter Green Bay from Lake Michigan at Rock Island Passage on or about March 12. The two ice breakers will conduct operations along the Lake Carriers Association charted track lines north to Little Bay De Noc and the Escanaba iron ore docks. These ice-breaking activities are performed in advance of the reopening of the Soo Locks and the start of the 2015 Great Lakes commercial navigation season, which begins March 25.



Frozen In #20 – Mormactide rebuilt as a training vessel at Sturgeon Bay 1988-89

The Mormactide passed up the Welland Canal under tow of the tugs Sheila Moran, Ohio and Superior on Nov. 11, 1988. The vessel was being taken to Sturgeon Bay to be rebuilt as a training ship for the New York State Maritime Academy. It returned down bound through the Niagara area waterway as c) Empire State on Dec. 12, 1989.

The 656-foot-long cargo ship had been built at Newport News, Va., in 1962. It first sailed for the States Steamship Co. as a) Oregon but was sold to Moore-McCormick and renamed b) Mormactide in 1977.

Mormactide was laid up at New York on Dec. 19, 1983, and later moved to the James River Reserve Fleet before coming to the Great Lakes to be rebuilt late in 1988.

The $19.8 million project resulted in a ship equipped with classroom and lab space, a lounge and exercise rooms and accommodation for the sea cadets. After a stop at Ogdensburg, N.Y., for engine repairs while leaving the Great Lakes, the Empire State temporarily ran aground on a sandbar departing the port.

In January 1994, Empire State was used by the U.S. Department of Defense to move troops from Mogadishu, Somalia, to Mombasa, Kenya, and could carry up to 750 soldiers per trip. It has also been activated to house relief workers in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

Each summer the vessel is still used by the New York State Maritime Academy taking students on a 90-day training voyage. This service is expected to continue to at least 2020.

Skip Gillham


Lookback #475 – Ocean Leader hit an underwater obstruction on March 7, 1982

The small freighter Ocean Leader faced a lot of adversity while visiting the Great Lakes in 1980, and within just over two years it was on the bottom of the Atlantic.

The 69.34-metre-long ship had been built at Singapore in 1975 as Asean Leader and used in the Far East bulk, container and lumber trades. It was resold to Alicia Ocean Transport S.A. and registered in Panama as Ocean Leader in 1980.

The vessel came through the Seaway in November 1980 and, due to a radar malfunction, ran aground near Sault Ste. Marie. After being released, the trip across Lake Superior was delayed by rough weather and, when the ship arrived to at Thunder Bay, officials determined it was not fit to take on cargo. It required a week to fumigate and clean the vessel.

Once this was done, it only took five hours to take on 2,500 tons of yellow peas and then set out for Port au Spain, Trinidad. More problems occurred on the Atlantic when seawater contaminated the fuel oil tank on December 14, and the ship had to be towed to Brooklyn, N.Y., to rectify the problem.

Then, 33- years ago today, on March 7, 1982, Ocean Leader hit an underwater obstruction 10 miles west of the Moruka Light, enroute to Paramaribo, Surinam, South America, and was heavily damaged.

It arrived at Georgetown, Guyana, the next day but was soon reported as abandoned as a total loss by the owner but eventually sold to unspecified Liberian flag operators.

From there the ship's travels are unclear but the last word was that the vessel was scuttled at sea, 70 miles off Jacksonville, Fla., as c) Finiki some time after December 7, 1982. How and why it got from Guyana to the coast of Florida is not clear.

Skip Gillham


2015 S.S. Badger Gathering reservations being taken

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, May 30, 2015. 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, May 29, 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


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.


Seaway pushes opening date to April 2

3/6 - The opening date for the St. Lawrence Seaway 2015 navigation season has been delayed and is now scheduled to take place at 8 a.m. April 2 for both the Montreal/Lake Ontario sections and the Welland Canal. Vessel transits will be subject to weather and ice conditions. The waterway had originally been scheduled to open on March 27.

St. Lawrence Seaway


Ice to slow start of Seaway shipping

3/6 - A bitterly cold winter of 2015 will almost surely cause a slow start to the St. Lawrence Seaway shipping season similar to 2014.

St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation communications officer Andrew Bogora said icy conditions in the Great Lakes are expected to reduce the level of shipping after the season officially starts March 27 (Editor’s note: The date has now been changed to April 2).

He said the opening date is based on historical weather patterns and general thickness of the ice at the time, but this year is another anomaly. “We do believe we’ll have a fair amount of ice when we open. That does provide a bit of a challenge,” said Bogora.

Ice coverage on the Great Lakes stood at more than 85 per cent Monday and is expected to peak in early March. Ice coverage in 2014 reached 92.6 per cent on March 6, the second highest level on record.

But a more persistent cold in 2015 has some scientists suggesting the all-time record of almost 95 per cent ice coverage set in 1979 could be challenged this year.

Lake freighters that traditionally transport goods on the interior Great Lakes have been encountering serious ice difficulties this year. Coast Guard vessels from both the U.S. and Canada – including the Prescott-based Griffon – have been pressed into action to free stranded ships and provide escorts for others.

“If the weather continues to be cold, it is fair to say the amount of activity could be affected for the first or second week of the season,” said Bogora.

On the brighter side, a slow start in 2014 did not stop the Seaway from posting its busiest season since 2009 with more than 40 million tonnes of cargo transported including more than 12 million tonnes of grain.

“There was a very sharp rebound in traffic and we are hopeful for a similar turnaround in 2015,” said Bogora.

Brockville Recorder


Man walked miles, slept in lighthouse before Coast Guard rescue

3/6 - Algonac, Mich. – A 25-year-old man told authorities he walked for more than a day across frozen Lake St. Clair and slept in a lighthouse Wednesday night before U.S. Coast Guard crews rescued him Thursday morning.

Lt. Joshua Zike, commanding officer for the U.S. Coast Guard ship Neah Bay, said crewmembers aboard the 140-foot icebreaking tug spotted the man shortly after 9:30 a.m. when they were entering Lake St. Clair from the St. Clair River.

Zike said the man was about a mile and a half off Seaway Island in northern Lake St. Clair. The ship approached to within about 100 yards of the man and deployed two members of its ice rescue team — petty officers Ethan Fryar and Scott Sjostrom — to make contact with him.

Fryar and Sjostrom determined the man was hypothermic and brought him back to the ship, where they placed him in a hypothermia bag.

"He was in the beginning stages of hypothermia," Zike said. "It took him a long time to formulate his thoughts."

He said the man told crewmembers he was attempting to travel from Detroit to Toronto over Lake St. Clair. The man said he departed Detroit about two nights before and had spent Wednesday night in the Crib Lighthouse on Lake St. Clair.

Zike said the man had a backpack with food and clothes in it, and a sleeping bag and tarp.

The man was about 16 miles from the mouth of the Detroit River, Zike said, and about eight and a half miles from the nearest point of land westward when Coast Guard crews made contact with him. Zike said the man did not say why he wanted to go to Toronto, or why he chose the route that he did. The man is an American citizen.

The Neah Bay brought the man to shore in Algonac shortly before 12:30 p.m., where he was transferred to paramedics for medical treatment.

"It was extremely rewarding to be able to put into practice what we trained for and then, ultimately, at the end of the day, to save someone's life," Zike said.

According to a statement from the U.S. Coast Guard 9th District, the rescue was the first conducted by an ice rescue team deployed from a Great Lakes cutter in more than four years.

Port Huron Times Herald


Lakes Pilots Association seeking new pilots

3/6 - Lakes Pilots Association, based in Port Huron, MI., is seeking applications from those interested in employment as a U.S. Registered Pilot on foreign vessels in District 2 of the Great Lakes. Lakes Pilots provides pilotage service in all the waters and ports from Port Huron, MI to Buffalo, NY, excluding the Welland Canal. Applicants must hold a U.S. Master, Mate or Pilot license with at least 24 months licensed service or comparable experience on vessels or integrated tugs and tows, of 4,000 gross tons, or over, operating on the Great Lakes or Oceans. Those applicants qualifying with ocean service must have obtained at least six months of licensed service or comparable experience on the Great Lakes. A complete list of requirements may be found in CFR Title 46, Shipping, Part 401, Subpart B. Anyone interested must first apply to the Director of Great Lakes Pilotage in Washington, D.C. to determine eligibility. Please contact Lakes Pilots for more information at (810) 941-5152

Lakes Pilots Association
P.O. Box 610902
Port Huron, MI 48061
(810) 941-5152

Director of Great Lakes Pilotage
US Coast Guard
2100 2nd St SW
Washington, D.C. 20593-7580
(202) 372-1537


Lookback #474 – Former Bawean burned off Indonesia on March 6, 1981

Bawean was a Dutch freighter that visited the Great Lakes for a single trip in 1961. The 494 foot, 2 inch long by 64 foot, 8 inch wide cargo carrier had been built at Amsterdam in 1953 and was registered at 9,525 gross tons.

The ship joined the Nedlloyd Line when it was completed in Dec. 1953 and spent virtually all of her career on a variety of saltwater runs.

After 20 years under the Dutch flag, Bawean was sold to P.T. Persushaan and registered in Indonesia as Gembira in 1973. The ship was based in the Indonesia area until it caught fire 34 years ago today.

The blaze broke out in the engine room as the vessel was lying off Teluk Bayur, Padang, Indonesia, in the West Sumatra region of the country. The flames spread beyond the engine room rendering the vessel a total loss.

After the March 6, 1981, trouble, the ship was idle until sold for scrap. It arrived at Cigading, on the west side of the island of Java, Indonesia, on Aug. 10, 1981. The hull was dismantled there by the Krakatau Steel Co.

Skip Gillham


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.


Anderson finally arrives at Sturgeon Bay for winter lay-up

3/5 - After almost a month of battling Great Lakes ice, the Arthur M. Anderson entered the Sturgeon Bay ship canal on Wednesday morning and docked at Bay Shipbuilding for a very short winter layup. The 62-year-old steamer became the final ship to lay up in Sturgeon Bay for the winter.

A trip that began from South Chicago, Ill., on Feb. 5 took the Anderson and her crew through ice-choked Lake Michigan and the St. Clair and the Detroit rivers into Lake Erie. However, since Lake Erie was nearly frozen over, the Anderson could not reach its destination of Conneaut, Ohio, where it was supposed to have loaded a cargo for Gary, Ind., and the U.S. Steel facility. The Anderson fought for five days before it was decided to forgo the trip and head for lay-up.

Of note is that the Anderson, with its March 23, 2014 fit-out date, sailed almost 19 days short of a full year. With the Anderson's arrival, this brings a total of 15 lake ships that will spend the winter in Sturgeon Bay. The list includes Algolake, American Century, Buffalo, Walter J. McCarthy Jr., CSL Assiniboine, CSL Laurentien, Joseph L. Block, Wilfred Sykes, Cason J. Callaway, Edgar B. Speer, Hon. James L. Oberstar, James R. Barker, Paul R. Tregurtha and the tug Invincible.

Daniel Lindner and Denny Dushane


Mackinaw wrapping up scheduled repairs; will sail March 9

3/5 - Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. – The U.S. Coast Guard cutter Mackinaw is currently wrapping up its fourth week of a scheduled maintenance and repair (aka Charlie) period and will sail Monday, March 9 to commence the spring break out.

Each of the USCG cutters are scheduled for maintenance during the Closed Navigation Season (15 Jan-10 Mar),” said Mark S. Gill, Director, VTS St. Marys River on Wednesday.

“As you can imagine, the physical impact of ice breaking on these platforms is tremendous. Each cutter by class (WTGB, WLB, WLBB) is allotted 3-5 weeks of maintenance during the nine-week lock closure period to reset machinery, conduct training, and correct discrepancies.”

Questions about the Mackinaw’s status had risen recently as the big cutter remained moored while other, smaller, ice breakers were working to move the steamer Arthur M. Anderson through heavy Straits of Mackinac ice near the Mackinaw’s home port, Cheboygan, Mich.

Along with the other U.S. and Canadian ice breakers, CGC Mackinaw will sail Monday March 9 to commence the spring break out, Gill said.


Casualties, demolitions list includes ill-fated saltie Socrates

3/5 - Marine News, the monthly journal of the World Ship Society, reports the following ships with Great Lakes connections going for scrap in the March 2015 issue.

Seaway salties
Anoushka arrived at Alang, India, on Nov. 5. 2014, and scrapping got underway by Dynamic Ship Recyclers on Nov. 13. This ship had a 22-year connection to the Great Lakes. It first came inland as a) Socrates in 1985 and made numerous trips through the Seaway. It was back as b) Union starting in 1993, as c) Mecta Sea in 1997 and d) Ypermachos in 2006. Its last trip to our shores was in 2007. The vessel dated from 1984 and is likely best remembered for being blown aground at Duluth on Nov. 18, 1985, when the anchors dragged in a storm. It was released Nov. 24 by dredging and the aid of tugs. It was sailing as f) Anoushka from 2012 until arriving at the scrap yard.

Beauty visited the Great Lakes as a) Balsa VI in 1981 and again as b) Balsa 6 in 1985. The ship had been built at Akitsu, Japan, in 1981, and was scrapped last year. The vessel arrived as h) Beauty at Chittagong, Bangladesh, on Nov. 12, 2014.

Coral III had been a Seaway trader as a) Lok Prakesh beginning in 1992 when the Indian flag freighter came inland with a cargo of steel for Cleveland, Detroit and Chicago. The 606'11” long bulk carrier was sold and renamed b) Rising Spirit in 2009 and c) Coral III in 2012. It last operated under the flag of Belize and, following a sale to Pakistani shipbreakers, arrived at Gadani Beach for demolition on Nov. 6, 2014.

Dong Feng had been a Seaway trader as b) Gustav Sule beginning in 1992. The Estonian flag freighter had been built at Varna, Bulgaria, in 1986 and last sailed under the flag of Hong Kong as d) Dong Feng. It arrived at Jiangyin, China, on Nov. 25, 2014, for dismantling.

Laila Queen saw only brief service on the Great Lakes. It was built in Spain in 1986 and came inland as a) Bahia de Cienfuegos later in that first year under the flag of Cuba. The 487'10” long vessel was sailing as e) Laila Queen when it arrived at Alang, India, for dismantling on Nov. 13, 2014.

MSC Isabelle first came inland as a) Prinsengracht on Sept. 7, 1990, headed for Marathon, ON in ballast to load bleached pulpwood. The ship was sold and renamed b) MSC Isabelle in 2004 and arrived at Alang, India, for scrapping on Jan. 2, 2015.

As covered in Boatnerd News Channel over the last number of weeks, the tug Chaulk Determination, a Great Lakes caller as b) Commodore Straits, sank at the dock at Trois Rivieres, Q.C. on Dec. 26, 2014. Efforts to refloat the vessel are continuing.

While Federal Nova never visited the Great Lakes, the Fednav fleet of ships is a regular caller to our shores. The vessel was under its third name when it joined Fednav in 1979 for ferry and cargo service between St. John's, N.F. and Halifax, N.S. The vessel had been built in 1977 and had previously sailed as a) Stena Trader and b) Goya. It was transferred to Seaforth Fednav as d) Caribbean Sky in 1981 and registered in the Cayman Islands. It has seen subsequent service on a variety of routes and was known as k) Black Horses when it arrived at El-Adabiya, Egypt, for scrapping on Jan. 10, 2014.

Compiled by Rene Beauchamp, Barry Andersen and Skip Gillham


Sale moving ahead for Kingston dry dock and nearby lands

3/5 - Kingston, Ont. – The Canadian federal government is moving ahead with the sale of the former Kingston Dry Dock and nearby lands.

Public Works and Government Services Canada has issued a public notice seeking potential buyers. The government department is seeking interested buyers for the 1.6 hectare property — which includes the Marine Museum of the Great Lakes at Kingston (home to the retired retired Coast Guard icebreaker Alexander Henry), dry dock and nearby wharf — all of it is designated a national historic site.

The deadline to make submissions is March 30. This comes as the marine museum got a lease extension until the end of 2016, but a future owner can still evict the museum on four months’ notice.


Help wanted: Algoma Central Corp.

Algoma Central Corp. is seeking to fill permanent full-time 2nd Engineer positions in the dry bulk & tanker fleet. Immediate positions are available.

In order to be considered, candidates must possess a minimum of a 2nd Class Engineer, Motor Certificate; Specialized Oil Tanker Training Certificate (for tanker); and Ship Personnel with Designated Security Duties Certificate (for tanker & SOLAS class vessels).

If you are interested in a position as 2nd Engineer with Algoma and meet the profile described within, please submit your resume in confidence to Human Resources at or by fax to 905-687-7841.

Algoma Central Corporation encourages applications from designated group members identified under the Federal Employment Equity Act. We wish to thank all applicants in advance, however, only those selected for an interview will be contacted.

Algoma Central Corp.


Lookback #473 – Notos departed for the scrapyard on March 5, 1981

The Seaway trader Notos had been to the Great Lakes earlier as a) Ferngrove. The latter came inland on three occasions in 1963 but by 1964 it was sailing as b) Notos and made another two trips to our shores that year.

The vessel had been built in 1950 by Sarpsborg M/V A/S at Greaker, Norway. The 362'9” long by 48'4” wide cargo vessel was registered at 2741 gross tons, 1449 net tons and could carry 4308 tons dwt. A 3050 bhp Burmeister & Wain oil engine provided a service speed of 14.5 K.

Ferngrove was under Norwegian registry and spent some time on charter to Watts-Watts. It remained under the flag of Norway when it became Notos in 1964 making a total of four inland voyages to the end of 1965 on charter to the Fabre Line.

Registry was later changed to Cyprus and the ship was flying their flag when it was ready to be scrapped. Following a sale to Pakistani shipbreakers, the vessel departed Salalah, Oman, for Karachi 34 years ago today. However, it was resold to Indian shipbreakers and arrived at Sachana four days later, on March 9, 1981, to be broken up by Ashok Steel.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  March 5

News Photo Gallery
Lay-up list updated


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


Anderson reaches Sturgeon Bay

3/4 - The Arthur M. Anderson reached her winter lay-up dock on Wednesday morning.  The trip began on February 5 when she departed Indiana and has spent almost a month fighting through the ice. The heavy ice caused her to abandon loading when it prevented entry into Conneaut Ohio and stopped her for days at a time on the return trip.

Original report - The Arthur M. Anderson and Mobile Bay were able to make it out of the Straits of Mackinac ice on Tuesday. By Tuesday night, the steamer was about 30 miles west of Beaver Island, and also 30 miles northeast of Washington Island. At 9 p.m., the ship was traveling at 10.9 knots. As long as she doesn't encounter any more problems, the ship should arrive in Sturgeon Bay for winter layup on Wednesday. The Anderson's AIS destination was listed as "Potholes on Highway H20," and the Mobile Bay's read "Into the Blender."

Daniel Lindner


Great Lakes ice cover over 88 percent

3/4 - How rough a winter has it been on the Great Lakes? Ask the crew of the freighter Arthur M. Anderson — whenever they make it back to port.

The 767-foot bulk carrier, due in port a week ago, was only just west of St. Ignace in northern Lake Michigan as of Monday afternoon, making its way to its winter layover port in Sturgeon Bay, Wis. The Anderson — famously the last ship to receive communication from the freighter Edmund Fitzgerald before it sank during an intense storm on Lake Superior in November 1975, killing all 29 crew members — was stuck in ice west of the Mackinac Bridge all day Sunday. A U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker had to free it, the web site reported.

That's after the Anderson spent more than two weeks battling through ice in southern Lake Erie, for a trip from Conneaut, Ohio, to Gary, Ind., that typically takes two days. The freighter became frozen in place off Conneaut on Feb. 19, in deep, pressure-ridged lake ice stacked upon itself by winds. A U.S. Coast Guard cutter escorting the ship couldn't break it out, and two additional cutters from the Canadian Coast Guard were sent to assist. The Anderson sat locked in ice for two days before being freed.

It's the second straight tough winter for Great Lakes shipping, and the lakes altogether were 88.3% ice-covered as of Sunday — more than the 86% ice cover on the lakes on March 1, 2014, amid a winter with record snowfall and near-record frigid temperatures.

"Last winter, we had a little bit of a warm-up near the end of February, before we got another cold blast. This winter, we've had consistently cold temperatures," said George Leshkevich, a physical scientist with the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory in Ann Arbor.

Last winter's Great Lakes ice cover peaked at 92.5% on March 6 — the second-most since 1979. A flirtation with the documented record of 94.7% in 1979 may not happen this year, Leshkevich said.

"We're close to the time when we could expect the ice to start deteriorating," he said. "But if we keep getting cold temperatures, that could change. I hate to make forecasts like that, because you can be so wrong."

The overall ice-cover number is being held down by about 25% open water in Lake Ontario, and Lake Michigan, which is only 71.2% covered by ice. But Lake Superior was at 94.1% ice cover as of Sunday, with Huron and Erie at about 96%.

There's only a moment for Great Lakes haulers to catch their breath before a new shipping season begins next week, when the first cement boat gets underway March 12, said Glen Nekvasil, vice president of the Lake Carriers Association, a shipping trade group.

"I think they will need some ice-breaking assistance," he said. "It's always easier to keep going in ice than it is to get started. The traffic in the shipping lanes helps keep them from freezing. But now that the ships are in port, when we get going again, it will be tougher to get going."

After a second straight difficult winter for freight haulers, the Lake Carriers Association is appealing to the U.S. and Canadian governments to put more ice-breaking boats on the Great Lakes in the winter.

"We need adequate ice-breaking resources here on the Great Lakes," he said. "The economy doesn't know the weather; it still needs the products."

USA Today


Lake Superior levels down a bit in February

3/4 - Duluth, Minn. – A winter-long dry spell continues to bring down water levels on the upper Great Lakes, although they remain well above long-term averages. The International Lake Superior Board of Control on Monday reported that Lake Superior dropped 3 inches in February, a month the big lake usually declines by 2 inches.

Despite that higher than usual drop, caused by a dearth of snow and unusually low temperatures that kept rivers locked in ice, Lake Superior remains 7 inches above its long-term average for March 1 and is 7 inches above the March 1 average of 2014. Lake Superior had its highest February average water level since 1997.

Lakes Michigan and Huron also experienced dry conditions, dropping an inch in February when they usually stay about the same level. The lakes are now 9 inches above their long-term average for March 1 and 21 inches above their level at this time last year. Lakes Huron and Michigan had their highest average February water level since 1998.

Duluth News Tribune


Icebreaking set to begin at Duluth March 4

3/4 - U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Alder will commence spring ice breaking operations in the Duluth/Superior area on March 4. These operations will continue periodically over the next two weeks throughout the greater Duluth/Superior area. Initial ice breaking operations will be conducted inside the Duluth/Superior Harbor, then expanding to offshore the Duluth/Superior area. Eventually ice breaking operations will include Two Harbors, Taconite Harbor, Silver Bay and Thunder Bay, Ont.



Icebreaker expected on Lake Erie this week

3/4 - An icebreaker originally scheduled to arrive on Lake Erie Monday will now be here later this week, officials said Tuesday morning.

The icebreaker is expected to open up waters near the Donjon Shipbuilding & Repair facility on Erie's east bayfront. Officials at Donjon said this morning the icebreaker is needed because the manufacturing facility has a ship that is leaving.

Lake Erie is essentially frozen over and is about 96 percent ice covered, officials with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory said last week. Lighthouse Conservancy to host meeting to discuss plans for Pere Marquette lighthouses Muskegon, Mich. – Standing guard at the crests of Lake Michigan and along the many miles of the area's sandy beaches, lighthouses are the heartbeat of West Michigan.

On Thursday, March 5, the Michigan Lighthouse Conservancy is set to host the Muskegon South Pierhead Light Community Engagement Meeting, a community-wide and informal discussion about the future of the area's lighthouses. The event runs from 5:30-7 p.m. at the United Way of the Lakeshore, 31 E. Clay Ave, in Muskegon.

Agenda for the meeting includes historic restoration efforts, volunteer recruitment and current plans to open the Muskegon South Pierhead Light for tourists in 2015, Memorial Day through Labor Day.

The Pere Marquette lighthouses are owned and operated by the Michigan Lighthouse Conservancy (MLC), which serves to promote lighthouse preservation in Michigan.

MLC currently is attempting to restore the Muskegon Breakwater, Pierhead Lighthouse and the Alpena Lighthouse by opening the structures for special events, fundraisers and through the creation of partnerships with area communities.

More information about the event is available by contacting or by calling 231-206-2108.



Wisconsin site in Lake Michigan may become National Marine Sanctuary

3/4 - Milwaukee, Wis. – An 875-square-mile area of Lake Michigan off the Wisconsin coast could become the Great Lakes' second National Marine Sanctuary.

The proposal under consideration by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration would affect an area that includes dozens of sunken ships and is near Port Washington, Sheboygan, Manitowoc and Two Rivers, the Journal Sentinel reports.

"We hope that they're going to pick us. We're the only one submitted from Wisconsin," said Sheboygan Mayor Mike Vandersteen. "It's a tourism draw, it's putting you on the map."

Officials hope gaining the designation would also put a spotlight on the area's transportation history in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Among the sunken ships is the Rouse Simmons, which sank in 1912 while carrying Christmas trees from Michigan to Chicago. There's also Wisconsin's oldest known shipwreck, the Gallinipper, which went under in 1851.

Records say there are 137 ships that were lost in the area, and 34 vessels have been found underwater. Vandersteen said protected status would likely lead to more shipwreck discoveries.

There are 14 protected underwater areas in the National Marine Sanctuary System, according to the NOAA website. That includes Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary on Lake Huron in Michigan.

The sanctuary process for the Wisconsin site could take 1 ½ to 2 years. An environmental impact study is the next step.

Associated Press


Lookback #472 – Former Marie Skou abandoned by the crew on March 4, 1983

Fire broke out in the engineroom of the former Marie Skou as it was sailing on the Mediterranean off the south coast of Sicily. Known as b) Cleo C. at the time, the blaze was soon out of control and the crew abandoned the ship 32 years ago today.

Only one life was lost in the fire and even the ship survived. The gutted vessel was towed into Valletta, Malta, on March 9, 1983, and declared a total loss. The hull was sold to the Malta Drydocks Corp and scrapping began at Valletta in April 1983.

Marie Skou had been built in Denmark and completed in December 1962. It was delivered to the Danish fleet of Ove Skou. The ship was equipped with heated tanks for vegetable oil and space for 12 passengers in addition to its capacity for 6880 tons deadweight of cargo.

Marie Skou began Great Lakes trading with three trips inland in 1966. It was sold to the Navyland Shipping Corp. in 1979 and registered in Greece as b) Cleo C. but was flying the flag of Panama when it was abandoned on March 4, 1983.

Skip Gillham


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 onetime 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 ex-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.


Anderson continue to slug it out with Straits ice

3/3 - The Arthur M. Anderson, assisted by the USCG Mobile Bay, didn't make much progress on Monday. By 9 p.m., the steamer was 4 miles north of Hog Island. The crews of both vessels continue to keep in good spirits, as the Mobile Bay changed her destination a few times throughout the day. Her destination as of 9 p.m. Monday was "Laying Highway H20." After clearing the Straits, the Anderson will be escorted to Sturgeon Bay for winter layup.

Daniel Lindner


Port Reports -  March 3

Sarnia, Ont. – Barry Hiscocks, Denny Dushane
Peter R. Cresswell arrived in Sarnia Monday morning for winter lay-up. She's rafted to the Capt. Henry Jackman at the Government Dock.


Lookback #471 – The third Novadoc was lost with all hands on March 3, 1947

The third Novadoc in the Paterson fleet was lost 68 years ago today. It disappeared with all hands while on a voyage from Deep Brook, NS, about six miles east of Digby, NS, to New York with a cargo of gypsum.

The Captain radioed while about 22 miles off Portland, Maine, that they were battling a storm and had sustained damage. The ship disappeared with all hands, 22 men and 2 women, off New England on March 3, 1947.

This vessel had been built at Newcastle, England, and had previously served the Mathews Steamship Co. and Sarnia Steamship Co. as a) Northton. The 261 foot long bulk carrier had arrived at Toronto, from Swansea, Wales, with 2,245 tons of coal on July 25, 1924, and sailed in the Mathews fleet until they went into receivership in 1932.

It moved to Misener's Sarnia SS Co. in 1933 and to the Paterson fleet as b) Novadoc in 1946. The ship had sunk in the harbor at Port Colborne, while tied up for the winter on Feb. 2, 1939, but was salvaged and headed down the Welland Canal for repairs at Port Dalhousie as soon as the waterway opened.

The vessel headed to saltwater in 1940 and was used in the bauxite trade between the Guianas and Trinidad as well as working on other coastal runs along the Atlantic seaboard.

A life preserver from Novadoc was found on the south shore of Nova Scotia on May 21, 1947, but otherwise the ship went down without a trace. Interestingly, all three ships that carried the name Novadoc ended up as sunk.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  March 3

News Photo Gallery
Lay-up list updated


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: 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, was 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.


Ice update

3/2 - The Arthur M. Anderson remained stuck in the ice just west of the Mackinac Bridge all day Sunday. The U.S. Coast Guard cutter Mobile Bay departed from her home base in Sturgeon Bay on Sunday morning, and by 9 p.m. she was approaching the Anderson to assist the steamer to Sturgeon Bay for winter layup. The crews of both vessels, keeping in good spirits, posted destinations of "Kicking Ice" for Mobile Bay and "Home Sweet Home" for the Anderson.

Peter R. Cresswell was still having difficulties in the ice in the St. Clair River near Harsens Island. CCGS Samuel Risley and USCG Neah Bay were assisting.

Daniel Lindner


WW2 aircraft carriers on Lake Michigan focus of history project

3/2 - Traverse City, Mich. – Loose lips sink ships. The familiar mantra was prevalent around Northern Michigan in the early 1940s, when a pair of U.S. Navy aircraft carriers traversed Lake Michigan on daily pilot training operations the local folks knew about but didn't discuss.

"You didn't know who you could trust," said Amanda Wetzel, assistant director at the Grand Traverse Lighthouse Museum near Northport.

"The belief among everyone up here was that there were German and Japanese spies everywhere," said Wetzel, who has spent months researching the secret naval training on Lake Michigan during World War II.

Wetzel's research is the focus of an upcoming exhibit at the lighthouse museum's Fog Signal building. She will be giving the first of several planned talks about her project this evening at the Grand Traverse Maritime Academy.

She has interviewed numbers veterans of the pilot training as well as people who lived around Northern Michigan and remember the operations and servicemen in town.

"It's become a very big project."

Between 1943 and 1945, two U.S. Navy aircraft carriers stationed at Navy Pier in Chicago functioned as training platform for about 17,000 pilots, signal officers and other personnel. Former U.S. President George H. W. Bush was among the pilots who learned to take off and land on the 500-foot long carrier decks.

The carriers, the USS Sable (IX-81) and USS Wolverine (IX-64), were converted Great Lakes paddle steamers. They had shorter flights decks, no hangar bays, and required enough lake wind for operations.

Lake Michigan was chosen for the secret training because it's the largest body of water within the contiguous United States, said Wetzel.

Wetzel said between 8 and 12 pilots died during the training and about 100 planes now rest on the lake bottom after crashing during training missions.

At the time, the Navy was also experimenting with using drones launched from the USS Sable. The program was developed as response to the Japanese kamikaze pilots following the attack on Pearl Harbor, Wetzel said.

The drones were operated using a spin dial with coordinates, controlled by a manned airplane nearby. The Navy used the abandoned Waugoshance Point Light off Emmet County for drone bombing target practice, she said.

"They would literally drop bombs or fly the drones into it," she said.

Wetzel's presentation takes place at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 19 at the Great Lakes Maritime Academy in Traverse City. Follow-up talks are planned with the Old Mission Historical Society and Empire Public Library this spring.

The lighthouse museum's exhibit will open with a May 23 ribbon cutting ceremony.



BP to stop sending petcoke to Chicago

3/2 - Chicago, Ill. – A mid pressure from neighborhood groups and Mayor Rahm Emanuel, BP later this year will halt shipments of dusty petroleum coke to Chicago sites across the border from its giant Whiting, Ind., refinery.

A BP spokesman on Wednesday confirmed that by mid-year the company will stop sending petroleum coke to two sites along the Calumet River owned by KCBX Terminals, a firm controlled by industrialists Charles and David Koch. But BP would not say where its high-carbon, high-sulfur material will end up instead.

The company's sprawling Indiana refinery is the world's second-largest source of petroleum coke, or petcoke, a byproduct of the Canadian oil boom that is piling up in huge mountains across the Midwest.

"If necessary for business reasons, BP may consider using limited Illinois-based storage options on a short-term basis if those options are compliant with state and local regulations," Scott Dean, the BP spokesman, said in an email. He declined to elaborate.

For more than a year, Chicago residents in the East Side and South Deering neighborhoods have complained that the Whiting petcoke is handled differently depending on where it's stored.

Under the terms of a federal legal settlement, BP is required to enclose petcoke at the Whiting refinery to keep lung-damaging dust from blowing into surrounding neighborhoods. But KCBX hasn't been required to comply with the same stringent regulations at its Chicago sites — something that Emanuel pushed to change in response to complaints about gritty black dust blowing off the uncovered piles.

Community groups also angrily complained about dump trucks rumbling through the neighborhood between the BP refinery and two KCBX sites, one off 100th Street and another off Burley Avenue between 108th and 111th streets. BP later shifted to moving its petcoke by rail.

Emanuel has vowed to drive petcoke storage operations out of town. During the past year, the city required more aggressive efforts to tamp down dust, imposed limits on the height of uncovered piles and set a 2016 deadline to fully enclose any large quantities.

Earlier this week, the Chicago Department of Public Health rejected a KCBX request to delay building a giant storage shed at the Burley Avenue site for up to 14 months past the city's deadline.

"BP's decision to stop shipping petcoke to Chicago validates our strategy to make the city a less appealing place for storing petcoke," the mayor's office said in a statement.

Environmental groups cautiously welcomed BP's announcement.

"Petcoke is nasty wherever it ends up," said Henry Henderson, Midwest director of the nonprofit Natural Resources Defense Council. "It is critical that the Southeast Side's problem doesn't just get shifted to somebody else's yard in an unsuspecting community."

While it is losing a high-profile customer, KCBX still plans to dramatically expand its storage of petcoke from other refineries in Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota and Wyoming. "We plan to continue competing for our customers' business," said Jake Reint, a KCBX spokesman.

Before KCBX drew the ire of community groups — and eventually Emanuel — state officials had cleared the way for the company to handle up to 11 million tons a year of petcoke and coal at the Burley Avenue terminal. Of that amount, about 2.2 million tons would have come from the Whiting refinery.

Chicago Tribune


Lookback #470 – James Stewart was launched on March 2, 1926

Napier and Miller Ltd., well known Scottish shipbuilders, constructed a number of vessels for Great Lakes service. It was 89 years ago today that they launched the James Stewart for the Eastern Steamship Co.

This ship was 261 feet long by 43.1 feet at the beam and a great fit for the St. Lawrence and Third Welland Canals. The vessel could load in the range of 90,000 bushels of grain and frequently took on cargo at Port Colborne or Buffalo for Montreal or other St. Lawrence River ports.

Returning to the lakes it often brought pulpwood to various paper makers.

The ship was sold to the Upper Lakes & St. Lawrence Transportation Co. in 1936 and continued in their service until the opening of the Seaway.

On Sept. 28, 1936, the ship went aground at Trois Rivieres but was soon released. The vessel had been equipped with a cargo tank that year and was noted to bring 33,000 gallons of molasses to Toronto on May 8, 1938.

During World War Two the ship carried supplies to bases in Newfoundland and Labrador and also hauled cargoes of coal from Hampton, Roads, VA to Boston, MA via the inland coastal inland waterway system.

James Stewart arrived at Port Dalhousie, under tow and was scrapped there by A. Newman in 1961.

Skip Gillham


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 - BROOK, a former Seaway trader as EXBROOk beginning in 1968, arrived at Kaohsiung, Taiwan, for scrapping.

Data from: Skip Gillham, Max Hanley, Joe Barr, Dave Swayze, and Steve Haverty


Arthur M. Anderson icebound in Straits of Mackinac

3/1 - Arthur M. Anderson was either stuck or stopped for the night in the ice just west of the Mackinac Bridge on Saturday evening. She was assisted upbound through Lake Huron throughout the day by the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Katmai Bay, as of 8 p.m. Saturday operations had stopped for the night. The Anderson is bound for winter layup in Sturgeon Bay, Wis. She is expected to arrive there on Sunday, depending on ice conditions. At Sturgeon Bay, tugs are breaking ice in the canal and inner harbor in preparation of her arrival. She will join the fifteen other ships already laid up there for the remainder of the winter.

Daniel Lindner


Ice conditions causing concern for Great Lakes shipping industry

3/1 - Duluth, Minn. – The recent plight of a well-known lake freighter, and satellite images that show the Great Lakes once again almost entirely covered in ice, are causing worry in the Great Lakes shipping industry about the prospects of another difficult spring.

"Obviously it's been another brutal winter," said Glen Nekvasil, vice president of the Lake Carriers' Association. "If it keeps going it will be a challenging resumption to navigation when we get going again in March."

As of Friday, the Arthur M. Anderson was working in convoy toward its winter lay-up in Sturgeon Bay, Wis. — and its journey may be a harbinger of things to come.

The 63-year-old, 767-foot ship endured a difficult time on Lake Erie earlier this month, Nekvasil said. The Anderson had unloaded cargo near Chicago and was on its way to Conneaut, Ohio, last week when it got stuck in ice on southern Lake Erie, according to media reports.

A National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientist told the News Tribune that ice on the lake at that time was 1 to 2 feet thick and likely included windblown rubble fields of ice and pressure ridges — resulting from ice plates crashing against each other — that reached up to 10 feet tall and penetrated equally as deep below water.

"We're seeing some real difficult shipping conditions on Lake Erie, with a lot of ridging in the central and south parts of the lake," said George Leshkevich, a research scientist based at NOAA's office in Ann Arbor, Mich.

The Anderson was ultimately freed by Canadian Coast Guard icebreakers after spending several days trapped in ice 7 miles offshore from Conneaut, the website reported.

Because there was no getting into Conneaut — a small port between Cleveland and Erie, Pa. — the Canadian Coast Guard helped the Anderson turn around for refueling and resupplying in Detroit. Its return voyage to Wisconsin has been slow going, requiring escorts and other vessel support. It is expected to arrive this weekend.

The Anderson was the last ship in radio contact with the Edmund Fitzgerald before the Fitzgerald sank in Lake Superior in 1975 with the loss of all aboard.

Lake Erie is 95 percent ice covered, according to NOAA's Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory.

"What we are seeing now is a rather severe year," Leshkevich said. "The lakes, at least Superior, Huron and Erie, are 95 or 96 percent covered, and about 85.5 percent total, which is a little more ice this year than at the same time last year."

Last year's ice coverage was considered epic. It topped out at 92.6 percent coverage on March 6, Leshkevich said, while ice out on Lake Superior wasn't declared until June 6. The Great Lakes shipping industry worked overtime and carried extra loads and cargoes into December and January to achieve sterling shipping numbers that had lagged due to ice delays in spring.

Leshkevich said a warm spell in February 2014 kept things from getting even worse last spring. No such warm-up came this February, which didn't get above freezing in the Northland. Leshkevich blamed polar air masses but was reluctant to make forecasts. He would predict only that the Great Lakes haven't yet reached peak ice coverage, which is expected in early March.

"I'm sure shipping folks are on edge right now about what the spring may bring," he said.

Meanwhile, Nekvasil and others are using the second straight season of tough ice conditions to call on the U.S. Coast Guard to improve its icebreaking capabilities by adding an additional heavy icebreaker, to go with its Mackinaw. It's the only heavy icebreaker in the Coast Guard's Great Lakes fleet that also includes several 140-foot icebreaking tugboats. The 140s couldn't free the Anderson, Nekvasil said, requiring the Canadian Coast Guard's intervention.

"We would like to see the Coast Guard build a twin to the Mackinaw," Nekvasil said.

The Coast Guard told a gathering of ship captains on Feb. 12 that they'd be ready for the spring shipping breakout, said Nekvasil, who attended the meeting. But with back-to-back winters fraught with widespread ice cover on the Great Lakes, Nekvasil said the industry is rethinking the term unprecedented.

"We've got 900 miles from Duluth to Buffalo," Nekvasil said. "We need more assets out here on the lakes."

The Coast Guard did not respond in time for this story.

Nekvasil said the interlake cement industry will probably begin shipping March 12, followed by the Soo Locks opening March 25, allowing traffic between Lake Superior and the lower Great Lakes.

Duluth News Tribune


Port Reports -  March 1

St. Clair River
The USCG Neah Bay and CCSG Samuel Risley were working with the Peter R. Cresswell in the ice near Harsens Island Saturday. The Creswell is bound for Sarnia, Ont., for layup.

Lake Erie
Algoma Hansa still in Lake Erie, with the CCGS Griffon leading the way to Nanticoke, Ont.


Gogebic Taconite suspends investments, closes Hurley office

3/1 - Hurley, Wis. – Blaming regulatory uncertainty, Gogebic Taconite has suspended investments in its proposed northern Wisconsin mine and closed its office in Hurley, leaving four people without jobs and raising questions about whether the mine will ever be built.

"We will continue to investigate the possibility of pursuing a permit to mine the Upson site but cannot justify maintaining an office in Hurley without a prospect of immediate action," GTac President Bill Williams said in a statement Friday afternoon.

The company has been preparing an application for an open-pit mine in the Penokee Hills southwest of Hurley. The proposal sparked massive debate in Wisconsin and led to changes in the state's mining laws, but the proposed mine would also be subject to federal regulation.

"Our extensive environmental investigation and analysis of the site has revealed wetland issues that make major continued investment unfeasible at this time from both a cost perspective and given the uncertainty of recent U.S. Environmental Protection Agency actions, such as the events concerning the Alaskan Pebble Mine," Williams said.

Last July, the EPA proposed restrictions that would essentially block development of the Pebble Mine, a massive gold-and-copper prospect near the headwaters of a salmon fishery. The EPA had determined large-scale mining in the area posed significant risk to salmon.

In early February, GTac said announced it had ended consulting contracts and that no work was being done at the site. At that time, a spokesperson said staffers were focusing on analyzing data gathered over the summer.

Williams said GTac will continue to follow state and federal regulations. He said bonding remains in place for reclamation of monitoring and testing sites on mine property.

Williams said five people worked in the Hurley office and one will remain with the Cline Group. The four who are losing their jobs have been offered severance payments, and Williams praised them for their work and professionalism.



Lookback #469 – Scrapping of former Susanne Fritzen began on March 1, 1979

3/1 - The West German freighter Susanne Fritzen was built at Bremerhaven, West Germany, and launched on Oct. 2, 1958. The 532 foot long by 69 foot wide bulk carrier was completed in January 1959 and joined Johs Fritzen & Sohn for deep sea trading.

The owners began sending Susanne Fritzen to the Great Lakes in 1963 and it made a pair of inland voyages that year and three more in 1964. The ship settled into regular Seaway service and, by the end of 1967, had made a total of 19 visits to the Great Lakes.

Susanne Fritzen was sold in 1972 and registered in Greece as b) Andreas E. It was resold in 1975 and became c) Margrit B., remaining under the flag of Greece.

After only 18 years of service, the ship developed serious engine trouble but managed to reach Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on May 6, 1977. That ended regular service and the ship remained idle until it was towed to Piraeus, Greece, arriving on Oct. 16, 1978.

Declared a total loss, the vessel was sold to Spanish shipbreakers and arrived at Barcelona behind the tug Petrolas Seamaster 20 on Feb. 23, 1979. It was 36 years ago today, March 1, 1979, that scrapping operations got underway by Desguaces Condal.

Skip Gillham


Today in Great Lakes History -  March 1

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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