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Shippers concerned over increased pilotage rates on St. Lawrence Seaway
3/31 - Cape Vincent, N.Y. – The U.S. Coast Guard wants to add 18 pilots on the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway system over the next two years, a move shipping interests say will add about 50 percent to their pilotage rates.
Every foreign-flagged commercial vessel that transits the Seaway system has to be guided by a U.S. or Canadian pilot. Under federal law, the Coast Guard annually reviews the amount shippers must provide three pilots’ associations to cover the costs of providing pilot services.
In 2015, there were 36 registered pilots available for service, a number the Coast Guard wants to increase to 48 by the start of the 2017 shipping season and to 54 by the close of the season.
The Coast Guard projects that in 2016 the new rate will result in shippers paying pilot associations an additional $1,865,025, or about 12 percent, more for the service. The Coast Guard also proposes that shippers pay a “temporary surcharge” of $1,650,000 for the cost of hiring and training new and current pilots. In all, the total cost increase in 2016 for shippers will be $3,515,025, or nearly 23 percent, over 2015 rates.
When the additional costs are extrapolated for 2017, shippers fear they are facing more than a $6 million, or about 50 percent, increase in rates over a two-year period. In total, the cost shippers pay will increase from about $15.59 million in 2015 to $17.4 million in 2016. That comes on the heels of what shippers claim has been about a 115 percent increase in pilotage rates over the past decade.
Several international shipping companies, along with the American Great Lakes Port Association, U.S. Great Lakes Shipping Association and the Shipping Federation of Canada have objected to the rate increase. The Coast Guard initially proposed in September to increase the rates by 50 percent for the 2016 season, but amended its order March 7 to call for a two-year implementation period after receiving comments from the shippers and associations.
The new rates are due to take effect April 6, but the shippers and associations claim the Coast Guard has relied on faulty methodology in determining the rates and asking for its review to continue, with rates staying at 2015 levels until this is completed.
“We’re asking them to hit the pause button,” Steven A. Fisher, executive director of the U.S. Great Lakes Shipping Association, Washington, said. “Our concern is that this is unsustainable in the long term.”
In a March 14 letter to Coast Guard Rear Adm. Paul F. Thomas, the shippers question new methodology the Coast Guard adopted this year in calculating rates, which among other things ties U.S. pilots’ compensation to that of their Canadian counterparts, who are federal employees. The shippers contend that the Coast Guard simply employed a “random” multiplier to Canadian pilot compensation rates, rather than doing an economic analysis of numerous variables, including “cost of living, healthcare costs, pilotage costs, tax regimes, currency, government provided benefits and pilot work functions.”
“The Coast Guard shouldn’t be picking numbers out the sky in determining what pilots are paid,” Mr. Fisher said.
Shippers also question the need for 16 additional pilots, contending that the Coast Guard is basing that figure on 2014 numbers, when early season ice on the upper Great Lakes required an extended double pilotage period, but there was no atypical increase is overall ship traffic. The Coast Guard maintains that there is a shortage of qualified pilots, which has prompted it to propose an increase in targeted compensation from about $235,000 in 2015 to $326,000 in 2016 in order to attract new pilots. The compensation includes benefits and ancillary costs, in addition to wages. In the letter to Rear Adm. Thomas, the shippers argue that the Coast Guard has made no provision to ensure that additional rates going to the pilots’ associations will be used to pay for a full complement of 54 pilots, rather than “simply flow to the bottom line...of a smaller number of pilots.”
“The impact of an allowance for attraction of potential new personnel before they appear creates a perverse incentive for pilotage associations to resist major staffing increases in favor of dividing increased revenue among fewer pilots,” the letter states.
John Boyce, president of the St. Lawrence Seaway Pilots Association, Cape Vincent, which provides pilotage services on the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario, could not be reached for comment.
The rate dispute highlights an ongoing concern the maritime industry has about the Coast Guard establishing the rates in the first place. The Great Lakes Pilotage Act of 1960 delegates the authority to set rates to the Coast Guard, but Mr. Fisher said shipping concerns “don’t like the regulated monopoly structure the Coast Guard uses.”
“It leaves the Coast Guard and bureaucrats deciding the competitiveness of the St. Lawrence Seaway,” he said.
Shipping companies are free to employ their own pilots, but those pilots would be subjected to the same pilotage rates as those dictated for the three pilots’ associations, which are not labor unions but help set schedules and work rules. In the 1990s, a ship captain from Massena, Richard J. Menkes, tried to form his own independent pilotage district, but after about a 10-year court battle was thwarted.
Mr. Fisher said the current setup requires shippers to pay a set amount for pilotage services, but there is no mechanism in place for shippers to be given a “rebate” if actual pilotage costs in a given year are lower than projected.
“I’ve been doing this for 20 years and we have never known the Coast Guard to initiate any cost-cuttings or cost returns in Great Lake pilotage,” he said.
The Coast Guard’s final rule for 2016 pilotage rates sets the rates for this year only and will be reviewed and adjusted in subsequent years.
Watertown Daily Times
Port Reports - March 31
Sturgeon Bay, Wis.
Michigan city leery of Coast Guard's plans to drop year-round rescue staffing
3/31 - Frankfort, Mi. – Josh Mills isn't going down without fighting for Frankfort.
In this Northern Michigan community, where the U.S. Coast Guard has had a presence since before it even took that name, Mills, the city's superintendent, is pushing back against plans that apparently will leave the Lake Michigan shoreline without a year-round station north of Manistee.
Mills, however, isn't looking for a scorched-earth battle. Rather he's advocating for the region and the safety of its residents who live, work and play – and the tourists who fuel part of the economy - in what he calls the big lake's most dangerous stretch of waters.
"We cherish the Coast Guard being here," said Mills. "But it's of great concern to everyone if they are not here. It's a treacherous stretch of water and it's too far to not have personnel here. Any rescue, I fear, will be too late."
Mills is on edge over the Coast Guard's message to him that they want to meet on April 5 to talk about "modern response capabilities and plans for optimization and seasonalization."
Read more at this link
Fitzgerald program caps Door County Maritime Museum speaker series
3/31 - Sturgeon Bay, Wis. – The Door County Maritime Museum’s Maritime Speaker Series concludes Thursday, April 7, with a program by photographer and Great Lakes historian Christopher Winters on the Edmund Fitzgerald. His presentation is centered on the new book “The Legend Lives On” which he produced along with Bruce Lynn, Executive Director of the Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society.
The program begins at 7 p.m. at the museum in Sturgeon Bay. It corresponds with the closing of the museum’s 40th anniversary tribute exhibit to the Great Lakes’ most famous shipwreck, which will run through the following week.
Winters, whose maritime photo essays have previously been exhibited at the museum, is the staff photographer at the Discovery World Museum in Milwaukee and three-term board member of the Great Lakes Historical Society (GLSHS).
“I’ll be talking about the Fitzgerald, about GLSHS operations at Whitefish Point, and about the book – what it is, and what it is not, and how it came to be over the course of a dozen years,” said Winters, whose award-winning “Centennial: Steaming Through the American Century,” chronicled life aboard the century-old steamer St. Marys Challenger.
Maritime Speaker Series programs are free of charge with a nonperishable food donation requested. Call (920) 743-5958 or visit www.dcmm.org for more information.
Door County Maritime Museum
Lookback #792 – William McLauchlan loaded its first cargo on March 31, 1927
The American bulk carrier William McLauchlan was completed by the American Shipbuilding Co. at Lorain, Ohio, in March 1927 and took on its first cargo at nearby Sandusky on the last day of the month.
The steam-powered, 600 foot long by 60 foot wide vessel was the third of four sister ships built for the Interlake Steamship Co. under an existing contract. The Robert Hobson and Samuel Mather (iv) had already been completed for the company.
With corporate renames and changes, this ship became b) Samuel Mather (v) itself in 1966. It was credited with helping rescue 35 sailors from lifeboats of the ill-fated Nordmeer aground at the Thunder Bay Island Shoals on Nov. 19, 1966, and transferring them to the U.S.C.G. Mackinaw.
Samuel Mather operated through the 1975 season and laid up at Ashtabula during the summer. It was sold to Robert Pierson Holdings and arrived at Port Colborne, under tow of the tug Ohio, on Dec. 20. A winter refit, that included the installation of the oil burners from Avondale (ii), prepared the vessel for a return to service as c) Joan M. McCullough on April 8, 1976, when it departed to load at Huron, Ohio.
Pierson went into receivership in 1982 and this vessel was renamed d) Birchglen (i) on Sept. 16, 1982. It continued in service through the spring of 1987 before tying up at Port McNicoll. A sale for scrap, in the fall, resulted in a tow from the Seaway but the voyage was not uneventful and included storing soybeans at Toronto and a collision with Quedoc (iii) before the final destination of Point Edward, NS was reached on April 29, 1988. There eventual dismantling was achieved by the Universal Metal Co. (Nova Scotia) Ltd.
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.
Every day is an adventure on the Great Lakes
3/30 - Port Huron, Mich. – Just like the fickle waters he navigates, George Haynes’ job is always changing. Each day brings a new crew, a new ship, new weather, and a new challenge for the lakes pilot.
“I can be sent anywhere,” Haynes said. “I could be six hours on the river between Port Huron and Detroit or I could be 18 hours going across Lake Erie.”
Haynes is a pilot with the Lakes Pilots Association.
The company is one of three on the Great Lakes that provide piloting services to foreign vessels entering the lakes from the ocean. Foreign vessels are required by both the U.S. and Canada to have an American or Canadian pilot on board since the foreign ship officers aren’t licensed in the U.S.
The American or Canadian pilot helps handle communication with other vessels and ports, or gives them advice on how to safely navigate the rivers and waterways.
“That’s why they need a pilot, somebody who knows how to get a big ship through these narrow waterways,” Haynes said.
Lakes Pilots Association provides pilots on Lake Erie, the Detroit River, the St. Clair River and all the ports in between.
That means Haynes is getting on ships just north of the Blue Water Bridge, under the Ambassador Bridge at the entrance of the Welland Canal or at any port in the Lakes Pilots’ district. And getting on and off isn’t as easy as it sounds.
“We climb up the side of the ship on a rope ladder with wooden slats while the ship is moving,” Haynes said. The up to 35-foot climb — while the ship is in motion — is necessary to keep the ships on schedule.
“We’re all kind of used to it. I don’t think much about it unless we have 10-foot seas and then it’s kind of wild.”
Haynes said making decisions on high seas isn’t easy either. Haynes remembers, on one occasion, waiting for more than two days outside Toledo in November 2014 before he was able to bring a ship to port.
“There’s a lot of pressure,” he said. “The docks, the agents, and tugboats are waiting for you to come in, but it’s my decision. There’s a lot of money on the line.”
The Lakes Pilots busiest season is in the fall and early winter. The operations shuts down completely from January to March, when the closure of canals in the St. Lawrence Seaway make it impossible for foreign vessels to move into the lakes.
Haynes said the pay for the piloting job isn’t much when compared with pay for pilots outside of the Great Lakes. He declined to list an average pay as it fluctuates year to year. Haynes said lakes pilots are working on increasing the pay, especially considering the unique skills required of Great Lakes pilots.
“We have some of the most difficult routes and conditions on the Great Lakes in the country,” Haynes said.
“These are big ships and some of these channels, we have two feet or less beneath the ship to the bottom of the river. When the ships go into the locks, they might have two feet of extra space on either side.”
Haynes said he’s loved the Great Lakes since he was a boy, but it’s the constantly changing demands of his job that keep him on the water.
“In about five minutes after getting on board I have a good idea of what I need to do to get the ship from point A to point B,” Haynes said. “As we go I get a good feeling for how the ship is handling. Pilots are quick studies. You have to be.”
Port Huron Times Herald
Port Reports - March 30
Lighting work to temporarily close Homer Bridge on Welland Canal
3/30 - Work is being done to several Welland Canal bridges that will result in temporary closures. Jean Aubry-Morin, spokesman for the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp., said the Queenston Street Homer Bridge in St. Catharines will be closed Wednesday and Thursday to vehicle and pedestrian traffic.
The closures, for bridge work, take place from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
"We have contracted a lighting upgrade that needs to be installed. The schedule of the service provider was to do it at that point in time," Aubry-Morin said, explaining why the work wasn't done in the off-season. "This work to be done is for standalone lighting on the bridge itself."
A distribution network to allow the lighting to happen was installed previously (and) "unfortunately it happens that it is slightly after the start of the navigation season, where the schedule happened to fall on those days," he said.
St. Catharines Standard
Lookback #791 – Former Coastal Transport arrived at scrapyard under tow on March 30, 1983
3/30 - While the steel tanker Coastal Transport spent a brief time in the Halco Inc. fleet, the ship only traded into the Seaway under an earlier name of a) Birk. The latter had been built by Akers M.V. and launched at Oslo, Norway, on Dec. 11, 1965. It was completed for A/S Rederiet Odfjell on March 24, 1966.
The 490 foot long by 64 foot wide vessel came to the Great Lakes for the first time in 1967 but generally concentrated on saltwater routes. It joined Halco Inc. as b) Coastal Transport in 1979 and sailed on its maiden voyage clearing Rotterdam, Holland, on Jan. 15, 1980, carrying a Canadian crew but Liberian registry.
Later that year, in November 1980, the tanker ran down and sank the supply tender Salee B. in Mississippi, below New Orleans, and three lives were lost.
Another sale in 1982 resulted in the rename of c) Chemical Mar. This ship was damaged unloading at Willemstad, Curacao, on March 21, 1982, when part of the cargo of sulphuric acid leaked into the pump room and flooding, to handle the problem, added to the damage.
Chemical Mar was, in time, sold to American shipbreakers and arrived at Brownsville, Texas, still sporting the Halco stack insignia, 33 years ago today to face dismantling.
Updates - March 30
Saltie Gallery updated
with pictures of the Andesborg, Federal Barents, Fraserborg, and Minervagracht.
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.
'Capacity to spare': Port aims to diversify while relying on staple cargoes
3/29 - Duluth, Minn. - Along with last week's start to the shipping campaign came a familiar refrain from leaders along the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway System: It could be so much more.
"The possibility of moving cargoes on this amazing waterway is something that's underutilized and, frankly, underappreciated," said Betty Sutton, said administrator of the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corp. in Washington, D.C..
Locally, where the Twin Ports experienced a 12 percent drop in tonnage last season and 144 fewer vessel calls than the previous campaign, Duluth Seaway Port Authority Executive Director Vanta Coda said: "If you think of the Great Lakes and the infrastructure we have to get to the interior of North America, it's already built. ... We could triple our vessel calls and have capacity to spare."
Sutton made news last year when she toured port cities in the country's interior in an attempt to dub the Great Lakes region America's "Opportunity Belt."
But capitalizing on that moniker is another thing entirely. Quick and shining wins aren't common in port business, Coda said. Instead, it's a marathon of building relationships, trust and then business.
One budding arrangement that has so far fizzled locally is an indicator of how hard it can be for the Duluth-Superior port to diversify beyond its staple cargo of taconite iron ore.
In 2014, the Port Authority built a relationship with a European vessel company to call on its Clure Public Marine Terminal on a monthly basis with container cargoes — a relative rarity on the Great Lakes.
But the global shipping and trade market bottomed out — with the trade index hitting record lows earlier this year only to rebound of late — and those Spliethoff voyages from Antwerp, Belgium, have found their niche by harboring with increasing frequency in Cleveland while failing to carry farther inland.
In most cases, the people who buy freight tend to be locked into tried-and-true supply chains, and altering them brings risk that conservative decision-makers are loath to court, Coda said.
"Projects take time to develop," Coda said, "but once they're developed, they last a long time."
For the local port, the transportation of raw materials continues to be its bread and butter, with staples such as taconite, coal and grains going out and limestone for pellet-making and clay for paper-making coming in.
"What we are historically and will be for awhile is a natural resource region," Coda said.
The depression that raked the iron mining and steelmaking industries throughout 2015 hit the local port hard. But soaring tariffs have stemmed the tide on imported steel, and Iron Range mines that halted production are slowly being scheduled to reopen — a bellwether of good news for the operators of freighters transporting taconite pellets from Lake Superior to the steel mills on the lower Great Lakes.
"We are cautiously optimistic," Interlake Steamship Company President Mark Barker said. "We sort of bottomed out and it may be on a slow increase."
Barker added that weathering ups and downs is part of the industry, and the 2015 slowdown didn't deter his company from making costly upgrades to its fleet of 10 lakers this offseason by adding emissions-reducing scrubbers to some ships and repowering others, including the Kaye E. Barker at Fraser Shipyards in Superior.
"We feel optimistic for the long haul," Barker said, "so we've continued all our projects."
Coda agreed with that optimism.
"So far 2016 looks like it should stabilize the steel market for U.S. producers and get us back to a good position," he said. "Does that mean we make up the 12 percent? I don't know."
The U.S. economy has chugged along at 2 percent growth for a while now. It's not a particularly robust rate, but it beats the alternative. One of the growth sectors is in renewable energy, and the Twin Ports plays a key role as it's the closest port to some of the largest windfields in North America. In recent years, the local port has seen a sharp rise in wind parts coming in and out.
In an effort to continue to stimulate growth in renewable energy, Congress last December extended tax credits through 2020. The wind power industry already is beginning to stand on its own, Coda said, and projects built during the next five years will fill out that foundation.
"We have a great port for handling that commodity," he said. "In fact, 50 percent of all wind project cargo handled on the Great Lakes comes through here."
Uncertainty over the extension of tax credits meant that companies put their plans in the drawer while awaiting political outcomes. With the five-year extension, the target for most projects is 2017 and beyond.
"It takes a while to do the engineering, so that's why in 2016 we're not going to see the amount of wind cargoes that 2017 will produce," Coda said.
In the meantime, the search for diversity and new cargoes along the Great Lakes will continue.
Sutton sees the Spliethoff venture as having potential to bring more European interest. Unlike the mega-liners that can carry 18,000 containers from one ocean coast to another, smaller saltwater vessels can traverse both Europe's inland waterways and the Great Lakes.
"Seeing how Spliethoff engages gets others involved in taking a fresh look at what they might be able to do with our region," Sutton said. "It sparks interest on both ends about the possibility of moving stuff on this amazing waterway."
The argument for international traders then becomes a question of, "Is it better to ship to, say, Baltimore and truck cargoes inland, or adjust their thinking and carry on along the Great Lakes?"
The local port authority can make a convincing argument, but swaying practice is another matter entirely.
"It's basic transportation logistics 101," Coda said. "The first thing they tell you is the longer it's on the water the better off and more economical it is. But over time we've gotten to a system where the people who buy freight are just so crushed for time sometimes they don't have time to do the analysis. Some of them are just locked into relationships. You have to bend their supply chain and that's not easy."
Duluth News Tribune
Port Reports - March 29
Stoneport, Mich. – Denny Dushane
Midland, Ont. – Campbell Ferenbach Baie Comeau left winter layup around 8:30 a.m. on Saturday March 26.
Essar Steel Minnesota heads toward bankruptcy
3/29 - Duluth, Minn. – Out of cash and unable to finish its half-built taconite mine and processing center in Nashwauk, Essar Steel Minnesota is preparing to move into bankruptcy.
Essar has hired financial and legal advisers to help restructure its debt, several financial news sources reported over the weekend, citing unnamed sources close to the situation. Reuters reports that Essar has hired investment bank Guggenheim Partners LLC and law firm White & Case LLP as debt restructuring advisers. Essar Steel Minnesota has about $1 billion in debt on the project and no income.
The company's $1.9 billion mine and processing facility, Minnesota's first all-new taconite iron ore operation in nearly 40 years, sits idled with little hope for the 350 jobs it once promised.
The looming bankruptcy also leaves in question how much money the state of Minnesota will get out of the nearly $66 million Essar owes for not living up to an economic development grant deal to create jobs in an ironmaking plant at the Nashwauk site, a project that Essar has long since scrapped.
Essar faces a Friday deadline to make the first $10 million payment on that state debt.
Essar also owes million of dollars to vendors and contractors, some of which already have filed suit. And the company owes millions to a natural-gas supplier that won a federal court case last year against Essar for breach of contract.
State Rep. Tom Anzelc, DFL-Balsam Township, said a representative of major investors in the Nashwauk plant have been on the Iron Range in recent days investigating how the project might proceed without Essar involved.
"I'm actually optimistic that by getting Essar out of the way, we may see good things still happen" at the Nashwauk site, Anzelc said Sunday. "The investors are apparently willing to move ahead, possibly looking for other new partners, and finish the project. They also seem interested in moving toward a DRI (direct-reduced iron) product as well."
Anzelc said the path to having Essar out of the project remains unclear, with Essar either walking away on its own, a foreclosure of sorts by investors or full-blown bankruptcy reorganization.
Essar Steel Minnesota is a U.S. subsidiary of shipping, natural resources and power conglomerate Essar Global Group in Mumbai, India. Mitch Brunfelt, spokesman for Essar Steel Minnesota, did not immediately return a request to comment on the developments on Sunday.
As the News Tribune reported last week, Cliffs Natural Resources CEO Lourenco Goncalves made a thinly veiled plug for his company — facing debt issues of its own during the iron ore downturn — to somehow acquire the Essar site to make a new kind of taconite pellet that can be made into direct-reduced iron at the site.
That final iron nugget product would be used to make steel in electric hearth furnaces, so-called mini-mills that now account for two-thirds of all steel made in the U.S. Nearly all of Minnesota's taconite iron ore traditionally has gone to blast furnace steel mills which now account for only one third of domestic steel.
Goncalves said the Essar site has the perfect iron ore — low in silica — and that Minnesota's Iron Range should have an iron nugget plant to feed mini-mills.
"We are only scratching the surface with one third of the market,'' Goncalves said at a meeting in Virginia on Wednesday. He met with Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton earlier in the week.
"We need to put a DRI facility in Minnesota,'' Goncalves said, adding about the unfinished Essar project "it's clear something has to happen there. ... We're going to deal with that situation."
But Anzelc noted that Cliffs already is facing a crushing debt load and appears unable to raise the money needed to acquire the Essar site even in a bankruptcy sale. Anzelc said it may take a "consortium of partners," such as steelmaker ArcelorMittal, and including the state of Minnesota, to finally finish the Nashwauk project
Anzelc also sees North Carolina-based Nucor Steel as a player, noting the mini-mill steelmaker already has the technology to turn taconite iron ore into steel in electric furnaces.
"Nucor has the technology that seems to be in vogue right now," Anzelc said. "How we get there from where we are, I'm not sure yet. But I'm more hopeful something is going to happen now that they are pushing Essar out of the way."
Duluth News Tribune
National Museum to host shipwreck symposium
3/29 - Toledo, Ohio – The National Museum of the Great Lakes will host a two-day symposium on recent shipwreck discoveries on the Great Lakes. To accommodate those interested in attending, the museum has broken down the symposium into a spring session, which is on Saturday April 30 and a fall session on Saturday October 8. Each session includes two presentations separated by a box lunch.
The spring session features Tom Kowalczk who will offer “Argo: The Great Lakes Greatest Environmental Threat.” Kowalczk discovered the Argo in the summer of 2015 while conducting the annual Joint CLUE/National Museum of the Great Lakes Lake Erie Shipwreck Survey. Kowalczk will explore material not covered in the national news coverage of the Argo. The federal disaster response to Argo is the largest financial environmental investment on the Great Lakes to clean up environmental threats caused by shipwrecks.
The second presentation will be offered by Jim Kennard of Rochester, N.Y. Kennard is best known for his discovery, along with Dan Scoville, of the HMS Ontario, the oldest shipwreck ever discovered on the Great Lakes. The Ontario was a British Revolutionary War-era warship lost on Lake Ontario. Kennard will offer "Lost Steamship Discoveries of Lake Ontario" including the Cleveland-owned Bay State. Kennard’s presentation features underwater video of many of these near pristine wrecks.
The fee for attending one lecture is $15 for non-members and $12 for members of the museum. Those interested in attending both lectures the fee is $38 for non-members and $33 for members of the museum. This price includes a box lunch. Those interested in attending the entire symposium, which includes five lectures and two box lunches, will pay $65 for museum members and $75 for non members. The fall session will feature Wayne Lusardi, Underwater Archaeologist for the State of Michigan and Eric Seals, documentary filmmaker. Please call 419-214-500 extension 200 to register or for more information.
National Museum of the Great Lakes
Tall Ships Erie to bring at least 10 ships to Pennsylvania port
3/29 - Erie, Pa. – At least 10 “tall ships” are to sail into Pennsylvania’s port for Tall Ships Erie, a celebration of ships set for Sept. 8-11.
The event kicks off that Thursday with a parade of sail into Lake Erie’s Presque Isle Bay and offers visitors tours and short sails on the ships, including the U.S. Brig Niagara, which docks at Erie. Niagara is the third reconstruction of a two-masted, square-rigged ship that helped defeat the British in 1813 in the Battle of Lake Erie, a pivotal event in the War of 1812.
The port festival is part of the larger Tall Ships Challenge Great Lakes, which has a fleet of more than 20 such vessels racing across all five lakes and stopping for celebrations at several U.S. and Canadian cities from July into September.
Shawn Waskiewicz, executive director of the nonprofit Flagship Niagara League, which maintains the Niagara, says that of the 10 ships that are confirmed for Erie, seven will be boardable for tours and three will be docked at Dobbins Landing for 90-minute cruises. A new ship that also may be participating is the reconstruction of Erie’s schooner, Porcupine, which the Bayfront Maritime Center has been building to launch this summer as a “schoolship.”
In 2013, Tall Ships Erie drew more than 80,000 spectators, raising millions for the local economy and about $350,000 for the Flagship Niagara League.
Tickets go on sale Friday. Passes for Saturday (10 a.m. to 6 p.m.) and Sunday (10 a.m. to 5 p.m.) are $22, or $14 for one of those days, and $8 for just Friday when the fun kicks off at 2:30 p.m. For $100, a weekend VIP pass provides access to a hospitality tent with beer, wine, soda, water and light refreshments, plus lines with shorter wait times to tour and sail on the ships.
It’s all organized under the auspices of Tall Ships America, a Newport, R.I., nonprofit that focuses on youth education, leadership development and the preservation of North America’s maritime heritage. Tall Ships Challenge manager Erin Short says, “We’re really excited for this fleet,” which this year includes the single-sail Viking ship Draken Harald Harfagre (Dragon Herald Fairhair), re-creating Leif Eriksson’s voyage by sailing here from Norway (but not, alas, to Erie). Visitors also will have a chance to sail on Gen. George Patton’s schooner, When and If, arriving from Key West, Fla.
As Short explains, these ships have their own full-time crews, but they’ll also be carrying private passengers, trainees, summer campers and others as part of their own programming. Between ports, they’ll race — for the Perry Cup, but mostly for bragging rights and the chance to do what these vessels were built to do: cover long distances by harnessing the power of the wind.
For more information, visit tallshipserie.org/festival and sailtraining.org/tallships.
Erie shipwreck exhibit tells stories of people who went down with the ships
3/29 - Erie, Pa. - A morning “hurrah swim” before the tourists arrive is a ritual among lifeguards at Presque Isle State Park. In 2013, as lifeguard Darren Redding chased a fish underwater, he saw the remains of a long-lost vessel.
“He called me right away because he knew I work with [remotely operated underwater vehicles],” said David Boughton, a maritime researcher for the nonprofit Pennsylvania Sea Grant. “As soon as the ROV was lowered into the water we could see anchors crossed at the bow of a schooner, and on the starboard side were tangled wires.”
Mr. Redding’s accidental discovery of a previously undocumented Lake Erie shipwreck ultimately led to funding of a shipwreck research program and the recent opening of a fascinating nautical exhibit at the Tom Ridge Environmental Center in Erie.
More than archived scraps of wood and iron, “Great Lakes Shipwrecks” provides historical context for stories about the vessels and people who were aboard. Few of the stories have happy endings.
“People don’t normally think of Pennsylvania as a maritime state, but its 76 miles of Lake Erie shoreline were important to the military, industrial and cultural development of the state,” said Ridge Center’s Robb Frederick. “People around here know that without shipping, this town wouldn’t be here.”
European explorers learned that fragile Presque Isle provided a windbreak for the peninsula’s eastern bay, and desperate ship captains escaped tragedy by beaching on its northern and western shores. Some weren’t so lucky.
The exhibit displays wood and iron artifacts from shipwrecks discovered near or on Presque Isle, throughout Lake Erie and from other Great Lakes. A simulated “scatter field” shows the deteriorating state of wrecks researchers are likely to find. Underwater photos and videos are presented with period newspaper accounts, underwater research gear, and stories about shipwreck victims and survivors, as well as panels and artifacts on loan from other Lake Erie maritime archaeological displays and plans for a proposed federal Lake Erie Marine Sanctuary. PG graphic: Shipwrecks near Presque Isle
The five Great Lakes are believed to hold 8,000 shipwrecks — some estimates range to more than twice that number. About 2,000 are at the bottom of Lake Erie. A 2,500-square-mile area as wide as Erie County and stretching to the U.S.-Canada border — the Lake Erie Quadrangle — is thought to hold more wrecks than the Bermuda Triangle. About 130 shipwrecks have been documented off Erie County’s shores, but Mr. Boughton said three times that many could be there.
A year after Mr. Redding’s find, a group of academic researchers, divers, historians, technicians and administrators were recruited to form the Pennsylvania Archaeological Shipwreck and Survey Team.
“Our proposal was never to retrieve the wrecks,” said Mr. Boughton. “It was to survey those waters using side-scan sonar and other tools, ID their locations, shapes and sizes and, with historical research, archive information on those ships.”
During the exhibit’s Living History feature, visitors brought in possible shipwreck items and their oral histories were recorded. Mr. Boughton said the “show and tell” resulted in two new original finds — one offshore and one on land. Over time, the peninsula has changed. A century ago, said Mr. Boughton, ships caught in November storms ran for the shoreline and beached, but now that debris could be on land.
“People find things and don’t know it’s a shipwreck. They think it’s an old pier,” he said.
The exhibit’s most striking aspect is its storytelling prowess. Many of the tales are tragic.
In December 1909, the railroad car ferry Marquette & Bessemer No. 2 went down off Long Point, Ontario. Five days later one of the ship’s lifeboats was found. Inside were the frozen bodies of nine sailors and one survivor so mentally rattled he stripped off his clothes, jumped out of the rescue boat and died.
Perhaps the most remarkable story recalls the sinking of the New Connecticut, a schooner that capsized in 1833. The crew escaped but a passenger, the captain’s aunt, was trapped in the cabin when the ship went down. Days later it was raised and towed to port. When salvagers righted the ship, the aunt opened a door and collapsed on the deck. She had survived in an air pocket for five days in shoulder-deep water.
“Great Lakes Shipwrecks” runs through April 25 at the Tom Ridge Environmental Center, 301 Peninsula Drive, Erie, PA 16505.
Pittsburgh Post Gazette
Lookback #790 – Former Taxiarhis arrived at scrapyard on March 29, 1972
While the Lebanese freighter Taxiarhis only made one trip to the Great Lakes, it was a notable inland voyage that took place when the Seaway first opened 57 years ago. A collision with the West German freighter Carl Julius at the Wilson Hill Anchorage on June 30, 1959, left considerable damage to both ships and put the former aground. But repairs were made and Taxiarhis survived until reaching the scrapyard at Piraeus, Greece, on March 29, 1972.
This was one of the “Empire” ships of World War Two. It was built by Wm. Doxford & Sons Ltd., and launched at Sunderland, England, on Nov. 11, 1943. It entered service for the British Ministry of War Transport on March 25, 1944, and was managed on their behalf by the Hain Steamship Co. as a) Empire General.
The 445 foot long by 57 foot wide general cargo freighter was sold to the West Hartlepool Steam Navigation Co. in 1947 and renamed b) Hendonhall while retaining British registry. In 1958, over a decade later, it joined Lebanesa Ltda. S.A. as c) Taxiarhis. As such it entered to the Great Lakes for the first time in June 1959.
The collision with the Carl Julius occurred six miles west of the Eisenhower Lock as the latter ship was hit after departing the Wilson Hill Anchorage outbound from the Great Lakes on June 30, 1959. A “V” shaped hole was carved in the bow of the Lebanese freighter when struck by the West German salty. Fortunately, neither ship was in danger of sinking although the former went aground.
Both ships received temporary, and then permanent, repairs and were able to resume trading. Taxiarhis was resold within Lebanon in 1971 and renamed c) Tony C. but subsequent service was only brief and Tony C. moved to Greek shipbreakers early the following spring.
It was 44 years ago today, March 29, 1972, that the latter ship arrived at Piraeus, Greece, following a resale to Greek shipbreakers. After a period of being idle, the hull was broken up at Skaramanga by Sidiremborili with work beginning on April 24, 1972.
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
Seaway shipping season begins at Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor
3/28 - Burns Harbor, Ind. – The international shipping season is underway along the St. Lawrence Seaway, which includes the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor. The port recently reported its second-highest level of cargo tonnage in more than two decades in 2015.
The Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor says it handled 2.8 million tons of cargo in 2015, driven in part by increased heavy-lift project cargoes, limestone, carbon products and oils. Port leaders say, while steel shipments were below 2014 levels, they remained ahead of the five-year average.
Earlier this year, Governor Mike Pence called on the Ports of Indiana to "vigorously explore" the possibility of a fourth state port.
The Seaway's 58th navigation season began with the transit of Canada Steamship Lines' Thunder Bay carrying a load of road salt. Chief Executive Officer Terrence Bowles says warmer weather is allowing the Seaway to open earlier, giving clients "the opportunity to move cargo in a timely manner, and make the most of the navigation season."
Bowles says a rebound in Canadian manufacturing, a solid U.S. economy and the potential for more European trade could boost Seaway tonnage in 2016.
NW Indiana Times
Port Reports - March 28
Marquette, Mich. – Rod Burdick
Sturgeon Bay, Wis. – Denny Dushane, R.A. Arends
St. Clair, Mich. – Denny Dushane
Owen Sound, Ont. – Paul Martin
Montreal, Que. – Denny Dushane
Shipping industry navigating ‘one of the worst times in its history’
3/28 - Aboard The Thunder Bay – Ship captain Andrew Ferris slides the 225-metre-long Thunder Bay between the lock walls with little room to spare. As he awaits the go-ahead from the operators of Lock 2 on the Welland Canal in Southern Ontario, the ship laden with 29,000 tonnes of road salt is somehow floating 12 inches from the bottom.
“Every inch counts,” says Jamie Thorne, the ship’s first mate.
The margins are even tighter for the Thunder Bay’s owner, Canada Steamship Lines Inc., and the other companies that carry coal, ore and other industrial commodities on the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway. There are too many ships chasing smaller amounts of cargo amid a decline in steel prices and a slowdown in Chinese economic growth.
On the world’s oceans, the crisis is playing out on a grander scale.
“This industry looks like it is going through one of the worst times in its history and things don’t look like they are picking up any time soon,” says Aidan Garrib, a strategist at Pavilion Financial Corp. in Montreal.
Beginning in the early 2000s, the world’s fleet of ships that carry industrial commodities to China from Australia and Brazil swelled, driven by the belief that China’s appetite for raw resources was insatiable. “They thought Chinese demand was going to go on forever and they built this glut of ships,” Mr. Garrib says.
Shipping rates for coal, iron ore and grain, measured by the Baltic Dry Index, have plunged to record lows this year. Shipowners sent nearly 100 bulk carriers to the scrapyard in 2015, but need to get rid of three times that number this year before the supply-demand balance is reached, according to Bloomberg data. At the same time, China has ordered 30 new bulk commodity ships, ensuring the overcapacity and low rates will persist.
“It’s pretty gloomy,” says Allister Paterson, president of Canada Steamship Lines, which has a fleet of 19 domestic ships that serve the mines, mills and grain elevators along the water route.
Canada Steamship Lines is the domestic subsidiary of CSL Group Ltd., a Montreal-based company that has a fleet of dozens of freighters around the world. In the Great Lakes, its ships built to carry grain, ore and other bulk commodities number 19, a figure Mr. Paterson says is too many, given the 30-per-cent plunge in commodity volumes over the past two years.
“I can get rid of two … but beyond that you kind of want to hang on to them for the markets to come back,” he said.
Rival Algoma Central Corp., meanwhile, is retiring five bulk carriers ahead of schedule as steel production and demand for ore and coal slump. Algoma’s profit fell 12 per cent to $414-million in 2015. CSL is owned by the sons of former prime minister Paul Martin and does not reveal its financial results. Mr. Paterson says the company is making money, but not much.
Altogether, there are about 80 ships – call them lakers – on the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway. A quarter of these should be tied up, Mr. Paterson said.
The Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway is the 3,700-kilometre inland water route that links the Atlantic Ocean and global ports with the industrial and agricultural heartland of North America. For decades, shipping companies have relied on a steady flow of grain from the elevators on the lakes – particularly Thunder Bay, Ont. – to the terminals east of Montreal, where the crops are loaded onto ocean-going vessels for Europe, Africa and elsewhere. The lakers then sail back up the Seaway with iron ore from the mines of Quebec’s lower north shore. Then there’s the internal flow of steel and ore among the mines and steel mills on the lakes. But consolidation and bankruptcies in the steel industry have disrupted this flow. Two of the major steel makers – U.S. Steel Canada Inc. and Essar Steel Algoma Inc. – are in creditor protection and up for sale. Minnesota’s ore industry has seen seven of its 11 mines halt production.
Since 1996, the volume of mining commodities moving through the Welland Canal has fallen 35 per cent. Last year, cargo shipments on the St. Lawrence River fell almost 10 per cent, led by coal’s decline of 41 per cent.
These volumes won’t increase until next year, Mr. Paterson predicted. Until then, “you have to scrap ships and stop building ships and some companies will go out of business. On the Great Lakes market, we’re getting hit by that. Maybe not as much, but we’re getting hit as well,” Mr. Paterson said, before climbing aboard the Thunder Bay for the season’s first voyage down the Welland Canal.
The ship, one of six new bulk carriers the company is launching on the Seaway, represents a bulwark against the low rates. It boasts a fuel-efficient engine and technology that allows it to use smaller crews. With a computer screen and a mouse, a crew member can unload 4,500 tonnes of iron ore in one hour.
On this day, the red-hulled Thunder Bay is flying flags to mark the opening of the sailing season as it glides through the eight locks in the Welland Canal. The ceremony to herald the occasion includes speeches from local mayors, a top hat presentation to the ship’s captain and a prayer. The mood is cheery, despite the economic clouds that springtime and an early start to the year can’t dispel.
Terence Bowles, chief executive officer of St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp., which runs the Canadian side on behalf of the federal government, said he is “moderately optimistic” about the coming season. “We have the U.S., which is showing good signs, we have Europe, which is also starting to improve,” he says in an interview.
As steel and its related commodities have plunged in demand, grain has emerged as the Seaway’s top commodity, Mr. Bowles says. The port of Thunder Bay and, increasingly, Hamilton, are major links between farmers and grain traders and buyers in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America. “Grain is a growing business,” he said.
Mr. Garrib, the strategist, isn’t so sure. He points to the 10-per-cent decline in grain shipments in 2015. Canadian growers are facing increasing competition from such places as Argentina, where production is expected to double by 2025. “In the Great Lakes, the outlook for the main products looks pretty bad,” he said.
For the start of season, the Thunder Bay’s holds are full of road salt, not grain, not iron ore. The salt is carved from the underground mine at K+S Windsor’s operation in Windsor, Ont., and shipped to cities and towns all around the Great Lakes-Seaway. It’s a commodity Mr. Paterson calls “steady Eddie” because winter, unlike steel prices, can be counted on.
For all the computer wizardry that surrounds Mr. Ferris, the captain, in the wheelhouse of the $45-million ship, he relies on his eyes and his crew to ease the Thunder Bay through the Welland Canal and the locks.
“We have a few more tools to play with,” Mr. Ferris said at the controls of the freighter, “but it’s still a lot of looking out the windows.”
“Just a little more to port. Just a shade,” he tells the wheelsman as he prepares to enter another lock.
It’s a delicate manoeuvre that ships perform eight times to traverse the length of the canal that connects Lake Erie with Lake Ontario. The locks gradually lower the ship by 100 metres over 43 kilometres; nearby Niagara Falls drops much more abruptly. At the helm of the Thunder Bay, Mr. Ferris is at home. He’s been sailing for 37 years and is passing through the town of St. Catharines, where he grew up and still lives. From high up on the bridge, he can look out at the streets and neighborhoods he has known all his life. But there’s little time for reminiscing. The Thunder Bay and its salt are due at Bowmanville that afternoon, and a choppy Lake Ontario is in the way. So there’s the weather, the markets and a world that is trying to adjust. But as he noses the Thunder Bay into the final lock on the Welland Canal, it seems the captain, at least, has it all under control.
Globe & Mail
Retired U.S. Coast Guard Bramble has big role in new Batman movie
3/28 - Port Huron, Mich. – Amid all the familiar Metro Detroit locales featured in the film "Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice" is one that has been part of Port Huron since 1975.
The historic and retired U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Bramble, which normally is docked at the Seaway Terminal in Port Huron, has a pivotal role in the movie. The Bramble portrays a tramp steamer used to smuggle a large shipment of kryptonite into Gotham City.
"It was a big part of the movie," said Bob Klingler, who has owned the Bramble since 2013 and operates it as a museum ship. This past summer, he and the crew finished returning the ship to working order and took two shakedown cruises into the St. Clair River and Lake Huron to work out the bugs in the vessel.
"We ended up in three different scenes (in the movie)," Klingler said.
He and about 52 Bramble crewmembers and employees of Malcolm Marine – who helped tow the Bramble to Detroit for filming in May 2014 – watched the movie Thursday at Riverside Cinemas in Marine City.
"It was a great experience," Kilngler said. "It’s crossed off the bucket list. I don’t think it will happen again, but it was pretty cool."
Klingler said he portrays the captain and can be seen in the movie using the ship's crane to unload the shipment of kryptonite.
Port Huron Times Herald
Army Corps under Congressional investigation for Cuyahoga River dredging plan
3/28 - Washington, D.C. – A U.S. Senate subcommittee is reviewing allegations that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers deliberately cut money budgeted for dredging the Cuyahoga River, so that it could avoid disposing of the toxic sludge safely.
Sen. Rob Portman sent a letter Thursday to Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, asking for all documents related to the Corps' 2016 federal appropriation, the money allocated to the agency by the federal government. Portman also asked for a list of other projects that the Corps singled out for less funding than the White House sought in its 2016 budget request to Congress.
Carter is ordered to provide the documents no later than April 7.
"I want answers," said Portman, a Republican who chairs the Senate's Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, in a statement.
At issue is where to put the sludge dredged from the bottom of the Cuyahoga River, to make it possible for giant freighters to navigate the river.
Last year, Congress, as it has in the past, appropriated $9.54 million for Cleveland harbor. The bulk of that was to pay for dredging the full navigable length of the Cuyahoga River and for proper confined-facility disposal of that dredge.
That's as opposed to the Corps' preference to just dump much of that dredge directly into Lake Erie offshore of Cleveland -- a proposal vehemently, and so far successfully, opposed by Ohio officials and by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency because of toxins in the dredge.
In his letter, Portman cited a cleveland.com editorial that described how the Corps lobbied the House and Senate Appropriations Committees to reduce its funding for the Cleveland Harbor project.
Lt. Col. Karl Jansen later confirmed that the Corps did ask for less money than the White House allotted.
Portman described the move in the letter to Carter as an "apparently self-inflicted budget-cut."
The cut prompted Will Friedman, head of the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority to alert Portman that the Corps was trying to "circumvent" a federal judge's order that banned open lake dump.
"Part of the frustration with the Corps is that it's not forthcoming with information," Friedman said. "I'm pleased Sen. Portman is using the authority of his committee to figure out what's going on."
Craig Butler, head of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, also praised Portman for taking a "substantial action" against the Corps rather than just talking about it.
"The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Buffalo District has not received a letter from Sen. Rob Portman, and it would be inappropriate for us to comment at this time," a spokesman stated in an email.
Lookback #789 – Former Leada arrived at Taiwan scrapyard on March 28, 1984
It was 32 years ago today that a once familiar Seaway salty arrived at the scrapyard in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. After 23 years of trading, a ship that traded inland under two different names had reached the end of its active career.
Originally the Leada, the vessel was built for Leo Adams Reederi and launched at Hamburg, West Germany, on May 13, 1961, and entered service in September as Leada.
The 418 foot long by 54 foot wide vessel began Seaway service with four trips inland in 1962 and was a regular to our shores with a total of 21 voyages to the end of 1967. It was sold and renamed b) Leora in 1971 and was back to the Great Lakes the next year for the first time under the flag of Israel.
Another sale in 1976 brought a rename of c) Hira and a new flag of Liberia for Skipper Shipping Inc. but no return trips through the Seaway. A resale in 1977 retained Liberian registry but it now traded as d) Karana Delapan for Strathdale Shipping Ltd.
The end came with a sale to Taiwan shipbreakers and the vessel moved into the scrapyard at Kaohsiung on March 8, 1984, to face dismantling by the Shyeh Sheng Huat Steel & Iron Works. That work began on April 5, 1984.
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.
Thunder Bay opens with a race to port
3/27 - Fans of Great Lakes ships watched their AIS feeds on Saturday as two lakers raced across Lake Superior to become the first to enter the port of Thunder Bay for the 2016 shipping season. First out of the Soo locks at 3:47 a.m. was Lower Lakes Shipping’s Tecumseh. The 1973-built ship held her own through the day, with an average speed of 13 knots. Shortly after, in the wee hours of the morning, Algoma Central’s Algoma Equinox left the Soo following the Tecumseh across Lake Superior. Only 3 years old, the Algoma Equinox held to 14 knots as the 740-foot laker traversed the lake.
Shortly after 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, Tecumseh won the race, becoming the first ship to enter Thunder Bay as she headed towards Richardson’s Current River Grain Terminal. A half-hour later, the Algoma Equinox arrived and headed to the opposite side of the port and the Superior Elevator slip.
Great Lakes shipping fans in Thunder Bay still have a bit of excitement awaiting them. The first ocean-going ship is scheduled to arrive in the port on Monday. Although AIS shows the Federal Barents as the current contender for this achievement, the final result won’t be known for a couple more days.
Port Reports - March 27
Toledo, Ohio – Denny Dushane
Port Colborne, Ont. – Jeff Cameron
Hamilton, Ont. – Denny Dushane
Empire Mine to shut down at the end of this year
3/27 - Marquette, Mich. – This time, it's official. The Empire Mine will close at the end of 2016.
"We are shutting down the Empire Mine by the end of this year. So we will start the process of winding down operations and the warning notice will be distributed to the employees in the next month or so," Cliffs Natural Resources, Inc. CEO Lourenco Goncalves said. 400 people will be put out of work when the mine closes. Some will be able to relocate to the United Taconite Mine in Forbes and Eveleth, Minnesota.
"We are offering to Empire employees to relocate to Minnesota to work at UTac at the time of the reopening," Goncalves said. That reopening is scheduled to happen late this year.
Cliffs held its "state of the company" meeting March 23 at the Holiday Inn in Marquette. The company assured attendees that the Tilden Mine has several decades of high-quality ore left. It will continue at full operation for the foreseeable future.
Meanwhile, demonstrators from the United Steelworkers Union lined up outside. There is still no contract between the union and Cliffs. Protesters said they were upset about healthcare costs for retired employees on pensions. Their premiums were raised 70 percent in January.
Global prices for iron ore have sagged in recent years, partly due to an overproduction of steel in China. The steel is imported to the United States. In fact, 29 percent of steel in the U.S. last year was imported. A glut of steel lowers demand for American steel. Then American steelmakers order less American iron ore, lowering demand and thus prices.
Goncalves said Cliffs is going back to basics and refocusing on domestic U.S. markets. He said he was confident in the 168-year-old company's future.
The company said it would follow all necessary environmental procedures when the Empire Mine closes. Goncalves said Cliffs plans to "leave the land the way it was before the mine started."
Upper Michigan’s Source
Cliffs CEO: United Taconite will reopen later this year
3/27 - Duluth, Minn. – Cliffs Natural resources CEO Lourenco Goncalves said Wednesday that the idled United Taconite operations in Eveleth and Forbes would reopen later in 2016, saying the reopening depends on the further resurgence of the domestic steel industry.
About 400 United employees have been out of work since August when the operations shut down due to a lack of demand for Cliff's taconite iron ore pellets. One Iron Range official asked point-blank Wednesday: "When are you going to open the bloody thing" and put people back to work?
As he said earlier this year while speaking with industry analysts, Goncalves again said UTac would open sometime in 2016.
"It's our plan to bring UTac back later this year," he said, saying the reopening will happen as soon as Cliffs renews a contract to supply pellets for ArcelorMittal steel mills. When that happens, Goncalves said, he will spend $65 million to upgrade United operations to produce a "superflux" pellet specifically designed for ArcelorMittal's steel mill in Gary, Ind.
That steel mill currently is being supplied by Cliffs' Empire operations in Michigan, which is slated to permanently close in coming months.
"Because we are going to invest $65 million in capital expenditures into that plant ... we are not going to deploy that capital until we have a contract," Goncalves said. "I know the anxiety of people, I understand that. But I can assure you we are going to have this plant running again this year."
Cliffs announced last week that it would reopen its Northshore Mining operations in Silver Bay and Babbitt in May after being idled since November.
Duluth News Tribune
Cliffs CEO wants iron plant in Minnesota
3/27 - Duluth, Minn. – Cliffs Natural Resources CEO Lourenco Goncalves on Wednesday said he wants to build a direct-reduced iron plant in Minnesota and strongly hinted he'd like to do it at the now half-built Essar Steel Minnesota site in Nashwauk.
Goncalves, speaking at Cliffs' annual breakfast briefing with Iron Range business and civic leaders, said the strongest future for his company and for Minnesota's taconite iron ore industry lies in producing products — namely direct-reduced iron — that can be used in electric arc furnace steel mills that now supply nearly two-thirds of the domestic steel market.
Minnesota taconite iron ore now goes almost entirely to feed the older-technology blast furnaces that account for only about 35 percent of U.S.-made steel.
"We are only scratching the surface with one-third of the market" by producing traditional taconite pellets for blast furnaces, Goncalves said.
"We need to put a DRI facility in Minnesota," he said, adding that he needs support from state government and gas and electric utilities to make the project happen. "If Minnesota wants it, we are going to have a DRI plant here."
The electric arc mills mix that more-pure iron with recycled old steel to make new steel products. Most of the iron they now use comes from overseas, such as Brazil.
Goncalves said the new DRI facility would cost up to $750 million to build, unless he could find already existing infrastructure. If Minnesota regulators cooperate, Goncalves said, obtaining financing would not be difficult. The plant probably would employ dozens if not hundreds of people.
The DRI plant would produce iron pellets or nuggets made from Minnesota taconite iron ore that is first made into a DRI-ready pellet. Cliffs can now make those pellets at its Northshore Mining operations in Silver Bay/Babbitt, and pellets from there have gone to a DRI plant in Trinidad and Tobago.
But Goncalves said he would rather have a "dedicated" ore body, mining operation and processing plant to feed a new DRI iron production plant. And because the iron ore at the Essar site is unusually low in silica, Goncalves noted, it is perfect to be made into direct-reduced iron. The plant also already has all needed environmental permits.
He also implied that, if Cliffs could somehow take control of the half-built Essar site in Nashwauk, the cost to start up a DRI operation would be greatly reduced. That plant, owned by India-based Essar, has been under construction for years, with progress in fits and spurts. Work has been halted since Christmas with no sign the company can raise the money needed to finish the $1.9 billion project.
"It's clear something has to happen there ... We're going to deal with that situation," Goncalves said of the Nashwauk project.
When asked if he was thinking of buying the Nashwauk facility, Goncalves laughed and said "from now on, that will be on the top of my list," but then declined to make additional comments, saying he was bound by corporate governance regulations.
He earlier said the Essar plant as a taconite producer is "a place of imagination. ... A place of fiction" that may never produce any finished product. Goncalves has criticized state subsidies for Essar, saying that if the new plant opened it likely would put one of Cliffs' plants out of business in an already saturated domestic market.
Essar invited Goncalves to tour the Nashwauk site last year in an apparent effort to shop the project to Cliffs, but Goncalves at that point wasn't biting.
Now, Essar not only appears out of cash to move forward but has been sued by several vendors for not paying its bills, in some cases for tens of millions of dollars. The company also owes the state of Minnesota nearly $66 million for repayment of a state grant because it didn't create jobs at a proposed iron plant at the Nashwauk site by 2015. The first installment on that debt is due April 1. It's unclear if the company will make that deadline.
Goncalves met with Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton earlier this week and apparently talked about both the prospect of a DRI plant in the state and what will happen with Essar. Dayton told the News Tribune that the talks were "productive" but declined to elaborate.
Goncalves said he was optimistic about the long-term future of not just his company but the domestic steel industry and the iron ore industry that supplies it with raw material. He said federal efforts to crack down on illegally "dumped" steel in the U.S. have helped keep foreign steel out and are working to slowly increase production of U.S.-made steel.
"We are absolutely back on track," the outspoken CEO said.
Without that federal action, Goncalves said — praising Minnesota's congressional delegation for convincing the Obama administration to act — cheap, imported steel may have overwhelmed the U.S. steelmaking industry. Tariffs as high as 266 percent have been imposed on foreign steel.
He praised the late-December Iron Range meeting between Minnesota officials and White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough.
"That's the day everything changed" and the federal government began to take steel dumping seriously, Goncalves said.
Because the U.S. economy remains strong — with automakers, construction companies and other manufacturers busy — the steel and iron ore industries can make money in the U.S. as long as they compete on a level playing field, he said.
Goncalves also was bullish on the future of the 168-year-old company he has headed since August 2014.
"There is absolutely no threat of Cliffs going away," Goncalves said, noting he has reduced the company's debt from $3.6 billion to $2 billion even at a time the price for Cliffs' product is at historically low levels — and he vowed to cut that debt to $1 billion soon.
"Imagine what I can do when iron ore prices are better," Goncalves said.
He noted his company has shed unprofitable coal businesses in the U.S. and iron mining in Canada and has refocused solely on Minnesota and Michigan iron operations, with a remnant iron operation in Australia. That limited focus will help guarantee Cliffs' future for another "100 years," Goncalves said.
He said the company is virtually bankruptcy-proof — no bank or investor has the ability to force the issue — as long as it continues the cash flow to pay creditors and employees.
Goncalves on Wednesday also said Cliffs' Empire taconite operations in Michigan's Upper Peninsula will close down in a matter of months as the mine is virtually out of iron ore.
Goncalves was slated to go to Empire this week to tell employees in person that he will soon be giving the federal government official Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act notice of the shutdown that will affect 350 jobs. Some of those workers may go to the nearby Tilden operations, and others could backfill at Minnesota operations if openings become available. But Goncalves said it's likely most won't get positions in the company.
Goncalves said Tilden will continue to operate at its current production level for the foreseeable future, with decades of ore remaining at that site west of Marquette, but he said any future growth of iron ore production in his company will come from Minnesota and not Michigan operations.
"The growth is here" in Minnesota, he told reporters Wednesday.
Pellets that had been made at Empire will in the future be made at United Taconite in Eveleth/Forbes, Goncalves said
Goncalves urged Iron Range residents to battle back against perceptions that Minnesota iron ore mining is a threat to the environment, saying every piece of steel not made in China is good for the Earth because steelmaking in the U.S. produces far less pollution.
"If you really want to take care of the (global) environment, take care of the steel industry in the United States," he said. "Chinese steel hurts the environment."
Because Chinese steel is made with sinter ore, a process that spews particulate matter into the atmosphere, it causes far more environmental and human health damage. The lack of controls on that pollution is another reason Chinese steel has an unfair advantage, he said.
St. Louis County Commissioner Tom Rukavina asked Goncalves how to battle back against environmental groups and public perception labeling Iron Range mining as a polluting relic.
The News Tribune reported earlier this month that the Environmental Protection Agency is investigating state regulators over allegations that some mining pollution discharge permits have been expired for years, even decades.
"We're getting pounded with the incorrect message of what mining does in Northeastern Minnesota," Rukavina said.
"We need to start to deploy this message more and more" on the environmental stewardship of Minnesota iron mining, Goncalves told Wednesday's gathering.
Cleveland-based Cliffs owns both United and Northshore and is co-owner and operator at Hibbing Taconite and the Empire and Tilden operations in Michigan, as well as an iron ore mine in Australia.
Duluth News Tribune
Lookback #788 – Mormacpine caught fire en route to Bermuda on March 27, 1964
3/27 - Somme of the ships of the Moore-McCormack Lines were Seaway traders in the early years when the waterway opened the Great Lakes to the larger saltwater customers. Among their inland callers was Mormacpine.
This was one of the World War Two-vintage Victory Ships and it was built at Portland, Oregon, as a) Brown Victory. The 455 foot, 3 inch long by 62 foot, 2 inch wide cargo vessel was constructed for the United States Maritime Commission and completed on March 27, 1945.
Equipped with five holds and five hatches, the 7,606 gross ton vessel could carry 10,750 tons deadweight and was powered by a pair of General Electric steam turbine engines.
The Alaska Packers Association were the initial managers of Brown Victory and then, in 1946, Moore-McCormack took over for South American service providing the new name of b) Mormacpine.
The ship first came through the Seaway with a single trip in 1960 and returned for a total of 13 voyages to the end of 1967. Service was interrupted 52 years ago today when a fire broke out in the cargo hold while on a voyage to Bermuda. The U.S. Coast Guard ship Half Moon came along side and escorted the ship to safety.
Mormacpine was repaired and resumed trading. The last stop was the port of Kaohsiung, Taiwan, on July 18, 1970, where the ship arrived there for dismantling by the Tong Cheng Steel Manufacturing Co. Ltd.
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.
Coast Guard ends Operation Taconite icebreaking effort
3/26 - Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. – Coast Guard Sector Sault Ste. Marie has concluded its domestic ice breaking operation, also known as Operation Taconite. With the ice throughout the western Great Lakes nearly melted, ice breaking in support of commercial navigation is no longer required.
Early Friday morning, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers opened the Soo Locks. The Roger Blough cleared the Poe Lock at 1:32 am signaling the start of the 2016 Great Lakes navigation season. Since the opening, two downbound ships and three additional upbound ships passed through the locks without delay.
This winter, ice coverage throughout the Great Lakes never significantly impacted commercial navigation. In contrast to the 2014 and 2015 winter navigation seasons, 2016 ice coverage pales in comparison. Nonetheless, the seven U.S. Coast Guard cutters assigned to Operation Taconite still conducted 1,200 hours of domestic ice breaking in support of United States and Canadian shipping interests.
It is estimated nearly 2 million tons of dry bulk and liquid cargoes, valued at more than $70 million dollars (US), were shipped during the 72-day winter navigation season. These commodities were crucial to sustaining industrial production and power generation for the Great Lakes region during the winter months.
Thunder Bay port to celebrate early arrival of lakers and salties
3/26 - Thunder Bay, Ont. – This year's mild winter means an early start to the shipping season in Thunder Bay, on Lake Superior.
Port Authority CEO Tim Heney says ships that spent the winter in Thunder Bay are starting to pick up grain. He says the first laker to arrive at the port is expected on Saturday and the first ocean-going ship is expected on Monday. If the salty comes into port as expected, it will be a notable event, he said.
"If that's the case, then that will be our earliest ocean vessel in Thunder Bay, and we'll set a new record for that."
The planned arrival of the laker on Saturday won't be a record for the earliest arrival of that type of freighter in Thunder Bay, but according to Heney, it will be "close to it."
Top hat ceremonies are planned for both ships when they arrive.
Heney said it's difficult at this point to predict what kind of shipping season it will be — but one piece of good news is that more grain is being stored on the prairies than at this time last year. "It should be a strong start to the season," he said, but added the harvest in the fall will determine how the season unfolds.
Ice breaking in Thunder Bay harbor started in mid-March, which is in stark contrast to 2015 when ice breaking was still taking place in April.
Polished to shipshape: Canal Park landmark gets dose of elbow grease
3/26 - Duluth, Minn. – Armed with a dustcloth and toothbrush, Rebecca Gordon worked from a ladder to polish the replica pilothouse at the Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center last week. Over her shoulder was a lake stirred up by a winter storm.
It was the right day to be inside as big waves crashed ashore and swells pulsed through the canal outside. Gordon, a park ranger with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, stopped cleaning for a moment to take stock of what was unfolding.
"I keep looking for whale spouts," said Gordon, a recent transplant from Alaska where she also worked as a park ranger. "It truly is an inland sea."
Gordon was joined throughout the center's two stories by a busy cadre of volunteers and fellow park rangers. They were getting the center into shipshape condition as it moved from weekend hours in winter to daily hours for the tourist season.
The gallery windows overlooking the lake from the center — especially on a bad-weather day — are one place tourists can use to take in the ships that arrive and depart through the canal. With the start of the Great Lakes shipping campaign this week, the system's most inland port becomes a gawker's paradise.
"The subculture of boatnerds and maritime enthusiasts — they're wonderful and passionate people," said Tammy Sundbom Otterson, executive director of the nearly 700-member Lake Superior Marine Museum Association. "We wouldn't exist without them. It's what Duluth is all about."
One of the first attractions tucked into Canal Park, the free museum has faced every sunrise, every squall and every visiting ship since 1973. It receives more than 400,000 visitors annually.
In the engine room below the gallery, Stan Salmi of Duluth and others employed sweet-smelling metal polish as they buffed every length of copper tubing, each brass fitting and all the bronze bushings they could reach across several antique marine engines.
"We like to have them sparkling before things open for the season," said Salmi, a longtime association member. Across the room from Salmi was Dave Poulin. Both 74, they were in the Navy together and go way back.
Poulin polished hard-to-reach places on a Loew-Victor gasoline engine he donated to the museum years ago. "I want to get down to the nameplate on it to take a picture of it," Poulin said. "It leaked an awful lot of oil, and it was hard to start."
After struggling earlier this century following personnel cuts within the Corps of Engineers, the museum is back on solid ground. "It's the volunteers that drive this," Sundbom Otterson said. "It's amazing the time they put in."
The center's exhibits evolve annually to stay current, and new pieces get introduced to the collection. The association also is using money from its membership drives, annual lake freighter cruise raffle and Gales of November conference to explore bigger projects outside of the museum.
Sundbom Otterson said the association recently received $5,000 worth of grant money to explore the possibility of restoring the Minnesota Point Lighthouse at the end of Park Point. The lighthouse is a graffiti-ridden relic and has appeared on the doomsday list of most-endangered lighthouses by Lighthouse Digest.
"We're waiting to get engineers out there to do a survey of what can be done," Sundbom Otterson said. "It's boarded up and looks pretty bad. It needs attention. Lighthouses are considered a national treasure."
Duluth News Tribune
Port Reports - March 26
Thunder Bay – Beverly Soloway
The first ships to move through the broken harbor ice and get back to business were the Algoma Harvester and Cedarglen. Algoma Central’s 740-foot, three year old Algoma Harvester left its winter berth at Keefer Terminal and headed to Richardson’s Current River Grain Terminal on Thursday, March 24, before shifting to their Main Terminal on the 25th. The first ship to finish taking on cargo in Thunder Bay and leave the port was Canada Steamship Lines Cedarglen. This 730 foot ship was built in 1959 and upgraded in 1978. After taking on a load at the Viterra Grain Terminal, the 57-year-old workhorse headed out of the port at 7:23 pm, heading towards Sault Ste. Marie and beyond on what is rumored to be its final voyage.
Early Friday afternoon, just after noon, another CSL ship left its winter berth and headed straight out of Thunder Bay. The Whitefish Bay, only three years old, quickly cleared the harbor to begin its journey to Montreal.
Samuel Risley continues to break ice along the waterfront, with at least three more ships still docked in their winter locations.
Unlike the rest of the Great Lakes, Lake Superior’s weather has been uneventful for the past couple of days and promises to continue this pattern through the weekend. This will aid the first two incoming ships heading towards Thunder Bay. The Marine Traffic website shows Algoma Central’s Algoma Equinox en route through the top end of Lake Huron and expected to arrive in Thunder Bay on Saturday. Fednav’s Federal Barents, sailing under the Marshall Island’s flag, is en route to Thunder Bay, currently traversing Lake Ontario and is expected to be the first ocean-going ship in port. Its expected Monday, March 28, arrival will break the port’s record for earliest saltie. The Thunder Bay Port Authority is planning top hat ceremonies for the arrival of both first arrivals of the season.
Lookback #787 – Former Clemens Sartori abandoned by crew on March 26, 1971
3/26 - The West German cargo carrier Clemens Sartori was built at Rendsburg in 1956 and saw some pre-Seaway service as part of the Sartori & Burger Line. The 258 foot long, refrigerated cargo carrier, was noted as the first westbound saltwater vessel through the American side of the Seaway locks when that new stretch of waterway was opened to commercial navigation in July 1958.
Clemens Sartori was lengthened to 285 feet, 4 inches in 1959, increasing carrying capacity from 3,228 tons to 3,852 tons and the ship was a regular trader through the Seaway in its early years. From 1959 through 1965 the Clemens Sartori made a total of 20 trips to our shores with three voyages a year, save for only two in 1963, to the freshwater lakes as the norm. It was usually on charter to the Hamburg-Chicago Line of West Germany but in 1965, it moved to Cypriot registry.
The vessel was sold and registered in Greece as Piraeus in 1965 and did not return to the Great Lakes concentrating on saltwater routes.
It was 45 years ago today that this once very familiar saltwater trader stranded in bad weather off the coast of Algeria. The vessel, carrying a cargo of bagged fertilizer on a voyage from Antwerp, Belgium, to Mersin, Turkey, had to be abandoned by the crew and the ship became a total loss. I have no record if the hull was salvaged for scrap, broken up “as lies” or just abandoned to let nature take its course.
Updates - March 26
Gathering page has been updated
Today in Great Lakes History - March 26
On 26 March 1922, OMAR D. CONGER (wooden passenger-package freight, 92 foot, 200 gross tons, built in 1887, at Port Huron, Michigan) exploded at her dock on the Black River in Port Huron with such violence that parts of her upper works and engine were thrown all over the city. Some said that her unattended boiler blew up, but others claimed that an unregistered cargo of explosives ignited. She had been a Port Huron-Sarnia ferry for a number of years.
The CITY OF MOUNT CLEMENS (wooden propeller "rabbit,” 106 foot, 132 gross tons) was launched at the Chabideaux yard in Mt. Clemens, Michigan, on 26 March 1884. She was 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.
Roger Blough opens Soo Locks for the 2016 season
3/25 - Sault Ste Marie, Michigan – At 12:01 a.m. today, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officially opened the Soo Locks for the start of the 2016 shipping season. The locks at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan are among 16 locks that form the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway navigation system which extends from Duluth, Minnesota to the Atlantic Ocean. Together these 16 locks lift or lower ships 600 feet – the height of a 60 story building.
The first vessel through was the Roger Blough upbound at 1 a.m. in ballast heading to load in Two Harbors. The first downbound was fleet mate Edwin H. Gott.
The Blough arrived at the lower end piers of the Poe Lock early on Thursday morning, tying up at the piers to await the opening. Arriving at the Soo Locks upper end piers early on Thursday morning and tying up was the 1,000-footer Edwin H. Gott.
A ceremony with local dignitaries and the captain of the Blough was held Thursday afternoon.
In 2015 both the Gott and the Blough were the first two vessels at the Soo Locks, with the Gott receiving the first ship award upbound followed by the Roger Blough. This will also make the third time that the Roger Blough has opened the Soo Locks, with the others being in 2003 and 2007. This will also mark the third consecutive year that Great Lakes Fleet has had a vessel open the Soo Locks. The last time that happened with them was from 2006-2008. Great Lakes Fleet has also had a vessel as first upbound from 2014-2016, and for the past four seasons –2013-2016 – they have also been the first downbound at the Soo Locks. The last time the Edwin H. Gott was first downbound was in 2004 and 2006.
Other vessels that were in the St. Marys River system Thursday during the day were the Philip R. Clarke, downbound just above Whitefish Point, followed by the Michipicoten, likely headed to Essar Steel. In the lower St. Marys River, the 1,000- footer Stewart J. Cort was heading upbound, and just below Detour was the 1,000- footer Burns Harbor. By Thursday evening both had arrived at the locks to wait their turn.
Since the Soo Locks closed in January, the Corps has been busy executing winter maintenance, repair and rehabilitation projects. Projects included the installation of a hydraulic system for the Poe Lock; anchorage repairs and dewatering bulkhead coating replacement on the Poe Lock; and work on the MacArthur Lock’s electrical modernization. These improvements ensure the reliability of the waterway, and the safety of the vessels and crews who will transit the locks over the next nine months.
The location of the Soo Locks provides a critical infrastructure link for shipowners and ports on both sides of the border. As a gateway for commerce, the locks allow for the movement of essential raw materials to transit from Lake Superior to the lower Great Lakes. Four thousand commercial vessels transit the locks each year carrying more than 80 million tons of iron ore, low-sulfur coal, grain, limestone and breakbulk cargoes from or destined for domestic and foreign ports.
“The opening of the Soo Locks is, for us, the opening day of baseball,” said Vanta Coda, executive director of the Duluth Seaway Port Authority. “It’s the excitement of a new season – the anticipation of seeing ships underway and commerce flowing in and out of the Duluth-Superior Harbor beneath the iconic Lift Bridge. It also reminds the shipping community that another year has passed for our nation’s aging infrastructure, which highlights the need to protect the Soo by twinning the Poe Lock.”
“When it comes to first pour steel, this country’s stronghold is the Great Lakes basin,” added Coda. “The supply chain that provides those raw materials to the region’s steel mills is a model of efficiency. The need for redundancy – for building a new Poe Lock – is a simple, pragmatic equation. Why risk losing as many as 11 million jobs in the event of a shutdown? It is beyond time to renew assets at the Soo. Our transportation infrastructure is a silent engine for this nation’s entire economy.”
Tim Heney, CEO of the Thunder Bay Port Authority, the largest grain export port on the Lakes, stated that the Soo Locks are important to the port 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.
The St. Lawrence Seaway opened on Monday, March 21 with a Top Hat ceremony welcoming the first ship into the system at the Welland Canal.
Denny Dushane and The Great Lakes Seaway Partnership
Port Reports - March 25
Thunder Bay - Janet and Jim Northan
Hamilton, Ont. – Denny Dushane
Montreal, Que. – Denny Dushane
Madeline Island Ferry ran all winter
3/25 - Madeline Island Ferry Line, which runs between Bayfield, Wis., and La Pointe, Wis., part of the Apostle Islands in Lake Superior, has run continuously this winter. Since the Madeline Island Ferry Line was formed in the spring of 1970, this is only the third winter that the ferries have run continuously. The other occasions were the winters of 1997-98 and 2011-12. In 2002 the ferry was only shut down for seven days. Freeze up has happened as early as December 10 in 1976 and spring break up has been as late as April 25 in 1996.
Capt. Philip Schneeberger
US, Canadian Coast Guard leaders team up to discuss partnership
3/25 - Cleveland - Rear Adm. June E. Ryan, commander of the U.S. Coast Guard Ninth District, was welcomed aboard the Canadian Coast Guard Ship Samuel Risley by Assistant Commissioner Julie Gascon and Captain Signe Gotfredsen of the Canadian Coast Guard, Central and Arctic Region Monday.
After a relatively mild winter on the Great Lakes escorting ships through ice and preventing ice jams, the Samuel Risley was upbound through the Soo Locks and the St. Marys River to Lake Superior for further icebreaking at the Port of Thunder Bay and buoy-tending duties.
"We greatly appreciate our close partnership with the Canadian Coast Guard on our shared waterways," said Ryan. "Crews from both countries play a vital role in ensuring the safe movement of cargoes, flood mitigation, and search-and-rescue serving our maritime communities during each ice-season, and we look forward to further strengthening this partnership in years to come.”
"The work of both Coast Guards is world-class," noted Gascon. "Our brave Coast Guard personnel on both sides of the border have a critical role in fostering safe, secure and environmentally-responsible maritime activity here on the Great Lakes, Georgian Bay and connecting waterways.”
In addition to icebreaking, the two Coast Guards deliver a multitude of maritime services including search and rescue, environmental response, marine communications and traffic services, aids to navigation, maritime security and waterways management.
Following their voyage aboard the Samuel Risley, Gascon and Ryan embarked the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Morro Bay to meet Lt. Kenneth Pepper, commanding officer, and crew. The two Coast Guard leaders also inspected the Canadian Coast Guard’s newest helicopter assigned to Great Lakes and Arctic Operations. Based in Parry Sound, Ontario, the new Bell 429 helicopter is a crucial component for delivering Canadian Coast Guard services and maintaining public safety. Canadian Coast Guard helicopters are a workhorse of the waterways, flying to remote sites to support construction and maintenance of Canadian Coast Guard communication sites, oil pollution response, ice monitoring and support to Government of Canada Science programs.
The day concluded with a tour of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Vessel Traffic Services St. Marys River in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. On average during the past 15 years, VTS St. Marys River safely and efficiently moved more than 61,000 commercial vessels through the 77 nautical miles of the St. Marys Vessel Traffic Service area.
Lookback #786 – George L. Eaton arrived at Montreal on delivery trip March 25, 1929
In the late 1920s, British shipyards were working on contracts for Great Lakes customers to complete a series of canal-sized bulk carriers for inland and coastal navigation. There were several main customers including the Hall Corporation and it was 87 years ago today that their George L. Eaton sailed for Canada. The 258 foot, 6 inch long by 44.1 foot wide steam powered bulk carrier was completed by the Smith's Dock Co., of South Bank-on-Tees, England. The keel had been laid on Nov. 29, 1928, and the ship slid into the water on Feb. 25, 1929. It was ready to depart a month later. This vessel served in the primary grain, coal and pulpwood trades and, save for a time during World War II, was painted with the classic company black hull. The exception was a coat of wartime grey. The Colonial Steamship Co. of Capt. R. Scott Misener acquired the ship late in 1954 and it was renamed b) F. W. Moore for the start of 1955. It remained in Misener service to the opening of the Seaway and was sold to A. Newman for scrapping in October 1961. The hull was dismantled by his company at Port Dalhousie in 1962.
Today in Great Lakes History - March 25
HENRY G. DALTON (Hull#713) was launched March 25, 1916, at Lorain, Ohio by American Ship Building Co., for the Interlake Steamship Co., Cleveland, Ohio – the company's first 600 footer.
FRANK R. DENTON was launched March 25, 1911, as a.) THOMAS WALTERS (Hull#390) at Lorain, Ohio by American Ship Building Co. for the Interstate Steamship Co., Cleveland, Ohio.
On March 25, 1927, heavy ice caused the MAITLAND NO 1, to run off course and she grounded on Tecumseh Shoal on her way to Port Maitland, Ontario. Eighteen hull plates were damaged which required repairs at Ashtabula, Ohio.
The steamer ENDERS M. VOORHEES participated in U.S. Steel's winter-long navigation feasibility study during the 1974-75 season, allowing only one month to lay up from March 25th to April 24th.
March 25, 1933 - Captain Wallace Henry "Andy" Van Dyke, master of the Steamer PERE MARQUETTE 22, suffered a heart attack and died peacefully in his cabin while en route to Ludington, Michigan.
1966: The French freighter ROCROI made one trip through the Seaway in 1959. The ship arrived at Halifax on this date in 1966 with interior damage after the 'tween decks, loaded with steel, collapsed crushing tractors and cars beneath. The vessel was repaired and survived until 1984 when, as e) THEOUPOLIS, it hit a mine en route to Berbera, Somalia, on August 14, 1984. The vessel was badly damaged and subsequently broken up in India.
1973: The former MONTREAL CITY caught fire as b) RATCHABURI at Bangkok, Thailand, on March 24, 1973. It was loading a cargo of jute and rubber for Japan on its first voyage for new Thai owners. The vessel was scuttled and sank on March 25 in Pattani Bay, South Thailand. The ship began coming through the Seaway for the Bristol City Line when new in 1963.
Data from: Skip Gillham, Max Hanley, Joe Barr, Father Dowling Collection, “Ahoy & Farewell II” and the “Great Lakes Ships We Remember” series.
Port Reports - March 24
Milwaukee, Wis. – Dan McNeil, Denny Dushane
Owen Sound, Ont.
Toledo, Ohio – Denny Dushane
Rochester, N.Y. - Tom Brewer
Hamilton, Ont. – Denny Dushane
Port of Monroe has seen rebirth as an active seaport
3/24 - Washington, D.C. – In December 2015, when Monroe, Mich., Mayor Robert E. Clark addressed the Monroe County Chamber of Commerce during his State of the City address, he referred to 2015 as “The Year of the Port.”
As Michigan’s only port district, the Port of Monroe has witnessed a rebirth as an active seaport and gained the attention of the entire Great Lakes transportation industry achieving its highest tonnage throughputs since the port’s creation in 1932. The port subsequently received the first commercial port funding of its kind from the State of Michigan for major infrastructure improvements.
In 2015, the port achieved its second highest tonnage numbers on record as 2,417,843 metric tons of cargo were delivered to port tenants along the River Raisin. This throughput being just 2,165 metric tons less than the record numbers of the 2014 season and essentially a tie for another all-time high. Commodities through the port included staple cargoes of coal, limestone, synthetic gypsum, and liquid asphalt while also handling natural gas pipeline sections, wind blades, and containers carried by the first European vessels to call upon the port since the 1960’s.
Port Director Paul C. LaMarre III, a third generation member of the working Great Lakes maritime trade, says: “The Port of Monroe’s rejuvenation is a true testament to positive relationship building within a community and an industry.” LaMarre goes on to say that “Cargo breeds cargo. If you are able to show that you can move materials across your dock efficiently and economically while defining the positive impacts to your community and industry as a whole, impactful growth is inevitable.”
Yet, LaMarre attributes recent success to one partner in particular, Anthony Gray, president of DRM Terminal Services who was chosen as the Port’s terminal operator in 2014 and has made immeasurable investment in personnel and equipment to ensure the port’s ability accommodate rapid cargo growth and sustainable partnerships.
Another such partnership is with the port’s largest tonnage producer, DTE Energy’s Monroe Power Plant. The port and DTE Energy formed the first partnership of its kind between a public port and public utility for the management of a product – the Port now manages and markets a large portion of the synthetic gypsum produced as a byproduct of the flue gas desulphurization process at the plant.
With the opening of the St Lawrence Seaway on March 21 – nearly two-weeks earlier than last year – the Port of Monroe has a record number of vessel calls scheduled, the first of which is anticipated to arrive on or about March 28. Poised for continued growth, the Port and its partners are destined for a prosperous 2016 shipping season and increased international tonnage through the Seaway.
In addition to cargo activity, the Port of Monroe will be at the center of major dredging and construction activities with an additional appropriation of $1.1 million from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for dredging in the port’s turning basin and the construction of a new riverfront intermodal dock with over $3.6 million in funds received through the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.
The Great Lakes Seaway Partnership
Rise in electrical deficiencies on commercial vessels prompts Coast Guard reminder
3/24 - Cleveland, Ohio – Due to an increase in reported electrical deficiencies on commercial vessels, the Coast Guard is warning commercial vessel owners to inspect their vessels' wiring before getting underway in the spring.
Coast Guard marine inspectors have discovered that a number of vessels have significant electrical deficiencies that can pose safety hazards and cause marine-engine causalities, and inspectors will spend additional time during inspections examining electrical systems as a result.
Some examples of common discrepancies include:
• Dead-ended wiring: When equipment is changed or removed, new wiring is installed. Often the old wiring is not removed or properly put in a junction box. This poses a shock hazard if the wiring is still energized.
• Compromised watertight integrity: When wiring that penetrates a watertight bulkhead is replaced, the penetration must be made watertight. If it is not properly addressed, the watertight integrity and fire boundary of the space becomes compromised.
• Wire Chafing: Wire runs that are susceptible to vibrations and movements need adequate protection where pinch points and rub hazards exist. Excessive wear can compromise the sheathing and insulator. This can cause a circuit short or fault and in some cases result in a component failure or fire.
• Deteriorated wiring: Wiring exposed to water can become deteriorated over time, compromising the integrity of the sheathing and insulator. This can cause a circuit short or fault and in some cases result in a component failure or fire.
Ultimately, vessel masters are responsible for vessel safety. Routine inspections of vessels' electrical systems should be conducted. It should not be assumed that all discrepancies are identified during fit-out exams. Some items require attention and troubleshooting beyond the scope of an annual exam.
Servicing and maintenance of electrical systems should be conducted by appropriately trained personnel and in accordance with applicable regulations and standards.
Lookback #785 – Algoma Olympic has made the news before on March 24
3/24 - Algoma Olympic has made the news on this day in the past while sailing as a) Canadian Olympic. In 1980, the ship was the first downbound trader through the Seaway and the event was heralded as the earliest opening of the waterway to that date.
Then, 15 years later on March 24, 1995, Canadian Olympic opened the navigation season along the Welland Canal heading up bound from Hamilton to Detroit with a cargo of furnace flux.
This 730-foot-long self-unloader was built as Hull 60 of Port Weller Dry Docks and completed at St. Catharines, Ont., and sailed for Conneaut, Ohio, on Nov. 28, 1976. The ship got in a few quick trips before the end of that navigation season and has been active throughout the Great Lakes and Seaway system since then.
On Aug. 5, 1995, sailors in a sinking yacht on the Detroit River were picked up by the crew of the big laker. Then, on Sept. 13, 2000, the crew used their radar to locate a missing sailboat in Lake Ontario, off Olcott, N.Y.
The vessel joined the Algoma fleet in 2011 and has sailed as b) Algoma Olympic since 2012.
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.
Seaway to open Wednesday
3/23 - Albanyborg is scheduled to be the first foreign-flag vessel in the St. Lawrence Seaway on Wednesday March 23, official opening day of the waterway. She will be following the Algoma Discovery bound for Hamilton. Albanyborg will deliver a cargo of windmills components at Port Colborne loaded at Emdem, Germany.
Other foreign-flag vessels expected in the Seaway between March 23 and the end of the month are Federal Barents, Patras, Princimar Equinox, Federal Danube, Floretgracht, Exeborg, Adfines Sea, Adfines Star, Federal Caribou, Fraserborg and Minervagracht. Confirmation is pending however for Federal Caribou and Adfines Star. Floretgracht, Federal Caribou and Minervagracht will be on their first trips. In addition, a tug not seen yet in the Seaway is heading for Detroit from New York, the Calusa Coast.
Commercial shipping season underway in Twin Ports
3/23 - Duluth, Minn. – Commercial shipping is underway this season at the Port of Duluth-Superior, signaled by the departure of the first outbound laker. The Duluth Seaway Port Authority says the Edwin H. Gott left the Twin Ports about 4 a.m. Tuesday. It's en route to Two Harbors for a load of iron ore.
The laker, along with the Philip R. Clarke, will head across Lake Superior toward Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., where they'll wait for the Soo Locks to open on Friday. Both lakers are making deliveries to steel mills on the lower Great Lakes.
Duluth-Superior is the farthest inland port on the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway system.
The Associated Press
Great Lakes shipping season started; Michigan port wants more traffic
3/23 - Muskegon, Mich. – The St. Lawrence Seaway opened Monday, March 21 kicking off a pivotal shipping season for the Port of Muskegon.
"I think there is a lot of excitement on the water this year, maybe even more than normal," said Muskegon County Commissioner Terry Sabo. "It's the beginning of a new era."
West Michigan's Port of Muskegon faces a landmark year for better or worse in 2016. The B.C. Cobb power plant is scheduled to close, and the port is no longer receiving shipments of coal that historically accounted for roughly half of the shipping tonnage received each year.
The total tonnage of freight moved is one factor the Army Corps of Engineers considers when deciding which ports and harbors to dredge and do maintenance work on. Harbors handling more than 1 million tons annually are classified as a high-use commercial harbors.
But Ben Cross, chairman of Muskegon County's Port Advisory Committee said that last year the Port came close to meeting the mark by shipping large amounts of raw materials, like loose stone or road salt, to the Verplank and Lafarge docks.
"They were just under a million tons," Cross said. "Nothing is certain, but as the numbers are looking right now, I think we'll exceed that million-ton threshold."
Read more, plus view additional content, at this link
Port Reports - March 23
Erie, Pa. – Jeff Benson
Oswego, N.Y. – Ned Goebricher
Great Lakes Shipwreck show on April 9 at Welland, Ont.
3/23 - On April 9, the 22nd annual Great Lakes Shipwreck show will be held at Welland, Ont., near Niagara Falls.
What's so unique about the show this year? Every presentation is about shipwrecks in the Great Lakes. This is only the third time in the show's 22-year history that the geography is staying where the show's attendees live, that is to say, there are no presentations about shipwrecks in the Atlantic Ocean or elsewhere. And every presentation is by long-established, well-known maritime historians/shipwreck divers.
The main presentations and presenters are:
• "Dennis Hale (the sole survivor of this 1966 disaster) and the 'Daniel J. Morrell'" by Mike Fletcher
•"A Shipwreck Hunter's Quest to Discover the Past" by Eric Seals
•"Ghost Ship of the White Hurricane" – Dave Trotter's 2015 discovery – the Great Storm of 1913 freighter lost with all hands, the "Hydrus"
• "The Mysterious Disappearance of Flight 2501" by Valerie van Heest
• "Clandestine Dives on the (War of 1812) Wrecks of the 'Hamilton' and 'Scourge'" by Scott Stitt
• "Discovery of the 'Argo' (in August, 2015), The Great Lakes' Top Environmental Hazard" by Tom Kowalczk
• "The Wreck of the 'Griffon' – The Greatest Mystery of the Great Lakes" by Cris Kohl and Joan Forsberg
Emcee Jill Heinerth will be showing some of her video shorts between these main presentations. Proportionate to the Great Lakes themselves, the presentations and the presenters are about 50/50 American and Canadian.
The show runs from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Saturday, April 9, at Centennial Secondary School, 240 Thorold Road, Welland, Ont.
The price of $54 (Canadian funds, much less when converted to US dollars!) includes a catered lunch in the huge cafeteria, where you can meet and chat with the presenters and the many other Great Lakes shipwreck history aficionados that will be there. The fee includes many chances to win door prizes, as well as enjoying free, between-presentations refreshments.
For more information, or to order tickets Click here
U.S. facing looming shortage of merchant mariners
3/23 - By 2022, the United States will need “70,000 new people” for the nation’s maritime fleet, but the Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, N.Y., and the six state maritime academies only graduate 900 per year and are at capacity, Paul Jaenichen Sr., the head of the U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD), told the House Armed Services seapower and projection forces subcommittee on Tuesday.
He added that even with a new military-to-mariner program for separating service members—and other programs like it—the real issue is now those individuals would get credit for the necessary licenses required. He told the panel American mariners are “also a very aging work force” that could aggravate the shortfall in the future.
Addressing existing requirements for mariners in support of global power projection, Jaenichen said that while the administration can meet the requirement for immediate deployment, “the first crew rotation is critical.” After four to six months, he said, there were “not enough [mariners] for sustained operations.”
He predicted “a perfect storm” after 1 January 2017, when licensing requirements change. For MARAD that means that drawing on a pool of recently retired mariners likely would not be possible. The retired mariners to remain current under the regulations would have to pay for required training out of their own pockets.
At the same time as that shortage of merchant mariners, the ships in the National Defense Reserve Fleet and its subset, the Ready Reserve Fleet, also are aging—averaging almost 40 years old. Some are steam-powered, needing parts that are no longer made. In the commercial vessels in Maritime Security Program, owners see government cargo contracts—including food-aid shipment and movement of military equipment from Afghanistan and Iraq—declining, and an overcapacity of shipping globally driving prices lower.
Like the American-flagged and government-owned fleet, questions surface about the viability of service-life extension spending on training ships. For example, the training ship Empire State is 55-years-old and could cost $104 million in a service-life extension program. “I cannot guarantee spending that amount of money will” give 10 years, three years or even no more service.
Jaenichen said, “The stipend [to American ship owners] is the only place to go” to keep the U.S.-flagged fleet in operation. The administration has asked for $3.1 million per ship as a stipend. He said industry estimates that it cost $4.6 million more to operate an American ship over an international competitor last year, and the stipend this year would be $5 million.
“Industry has told us that is the right number. he entire global industry is losing money.” He added later in answer to a question that this loss of business is the prime reason American shippers either scrap vessels or reflag them. “If they are losing money, they are not going to stay” in the Maritime Security Program, which provides the stipends for up to 60 “commercially viable, military useful, privately-owned U.S.-flag vessels and crews operating in international trade.”
Army Lt. Gen. Stephen Lyons, the No. 2 officer in Transportation Command, said, “We’re right at the margin of moderate [to] high risk” in terms of aging ships in the Ready Reserve Fleet and the nation’s ability to crew mariners. The Ready Reserve Fleet is made up of government-owned vessels and was created in 1976 “to rapidly deploy equipment and materiel” in times of crisis on combat to humanitarian aid operations.
Jaenichen said the nation needs 40 more ships under its flag to have sufficient mariners to meet military surge capacity.
Lyons added there are questions, based on experiences in earlier conflicts, about the willingness of foreign owners with foreign crews to go into harm’s way to deliver necessary supplies and equipment to American forces operating in combat.
Both argued against repealing the 1920 Jones Act, designed to keep American maritime industry competitive. U.S. shipyards now have 32 vessels on their books, including two roll-on, roll-off cargo ships, Jaenichen said. “If you take away the building [in American shipyards] requirement,” the effect “would be traumatic” on the maritime industrial base and “not something that can be recovered quickly.”
The Maritime Administration is hoping to release for public comment a strategic maritime assessment document in a few months. It will be the first such document in decades.
Lookback #784 – Former Dione sank on March 23, 1979
3/23 - The Norwegian freighter Dione was built at Porsgrunn, Norway, and completed in 1956 for Chr. J. Reim. The 258 foot, 9 inch long vessel could carry 4,160 tons at deep-sea draft in two cargo holds.
On Sept. 12, 1956, Dione arrived at Montreal on a voyage from Fowey, England, to Sheboygan, Wis., with 1,920 tons of china clay on board. The vessel was an occasional pre-Seaway trader and was back through the new waterway for two trips in 1961.
The vessel was lengthened to 303 feet, 3 inches in 1963 increasing cargo capacity to 5,460 tons deadweight.
Dione was sold on several occasions, becoming b) Cargonaut in 1972, c) Tolmi in 1973 and d) Doxa in 1978. During these years the ship was reported to have had registry in the Cayman Islands, Nicaragua, Liberia and Panama.
Doxa ran aground arriving at Barranquilla, Colombia, in heavy weather, during a voyage from Callao, Peru, to Trinidad, on Feb. 13, 1979. The voyage resumed after temporary repairs but the work was inadequate and the former Great Lakes trader sank off Santa Marta, Colombia, 37 years ago today.
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.
2016 commercial shipping season gets underway Tuesday in Duluth-Superior
3/22 - Duluth, Minn. – The first two U.S.-flag lakers are on schedule to depart the Port of Duluth-Superior Tuesday, signaling the start of the 2016 commercial shipping season at this, the farthest inland port on the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway system.
Between 3:30–4 a.m., the Edwin H. Gott is scheduled to move from its winter berth at the Clure Public Marine Terminal and pass beneath Duluth’s famed Aerial Bridge en route to the CN Dock in Two Harbors to fuel and load iron ore pellets. Shortly thereafter, another ship in the Great Lakes Fleet, the Philip R. Clarke, also will fuel and head to Two Harbors.
Both vessels, with deliveries to make to steel mills on the lower lakes, will proceed across Lake Superior toward Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., to line up in a downbound queue to await the opening of the Soo Locks at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, March 25. [Note: The Welland Canal opened at 8 a.m. Monday; the Montreal/Lake Ontario section of the St. Lawrence Seaway opens Wednesday.]
The Paul R. Tregurtha, which spent winter layup at the Superior Midwest Energy Terminal, is scheduled to load coal there on Thursday before departing that evening for the St. Clair Power Plant in Michigan. Two additional vessels that wintered over in the Twin Ports –Kaye E. Barker and American Century – are scheduled to depart later this month. Herbert C. Jackson, which is undergoing a major repowering project at Fraser Shipyards, won’t sail until sea trials are completed in June.
From the list of vessels heading upbound through the Soo Locks, it looks like the port will welcome its first two inbound lakers over the weekend with anticipated arrivals of the Stewart J. Cort and the Burns Harbor on Saturday. The first Canadian laker should arrive early next week. It’s difficult to predict with any certainty at this point in time the arrival of the port’s first saltie, which must still cross the Atlantic and transit the full length of the waterway.
All vessel arrival/departure times are estimates and may change without notice.
Hopes are tonnages will improve this season.
“Despite warm temps and virtually ice-free conditions across the Lakes, we couldn’t compensate for the downturn in iron ore last year. Sub-par growth in China coupled with the dumping of foreign steel into U.S. markets caused a commodity recession across the board. Those declines in production at mines and mills are reflected in overall 2015 tonnage for the Port of Duluth-Superior being off more than 12 percent last year,” said Vanta Coda, Duluth Seaway Port Authority executive director.
“There are still some formidable challenges along the Great Lakes, but nowhere near what the fleets were facing last year,” he added. “Our Congressional delegation led the charge in taking significant trade action in the past six months which has made huge inroads with unfair global trade practices. We all anticipate a slow start to the 2016 shipping season as headwinds still exist in commodity pricing, but the steel market and U.S. producers should begin to stabilize this year.”
Duluth Seaway Port Authority
Hat tipped to a new Seaway shipping season
3/22 - St. Catharines, Ont. – The Thunder Bay moved through Lock 3 on the Welland Canal Monday, marking the opening of what promises to be an unsettled season of shipping on the Great Lakes.
The ship was carrying a load of road salt from Windsor to Bowmanville and is making the first transit of the canal two weeks early this year. Whether that early start is a harbinger of good things to come remains to be seen.
Terry Bowles, president and CEO of St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp., was optimistic in addressing an audience gathered at the St. Catharines Museum and Welland Canals Centre for the Top Hat Ceremony, which celebrates the opening of the navigation season on the canal.
Bowles emphasized that the seaway serves as a vital trade artery. The early spring is a bonus. Last year at this time the lakes were clogged with ice.
“We certainly welcome the warmer weather,” Bowles said. “A return to an opening in the third week of March provides our clients with the opportunity to move cargo in a timely manner, and make the most of the navigation season.”
Allister Paterson, president of Canada Steamship Lines, which owns the Thunder Bay, said the forecast for shippers is “pretty gloomy.” Statistics back that up. The seaway handled almost 9.5 per cent less traffic by tonnage in 2015 compared to 2014.
Paterson said an economic slowdown in China is having an impact on shipping worldwide. The industry underwent an expansion and added ships to its fleets when China’s economy was booming. “With China slowing down, we have too many ships chasing not enough cargo,” he said.
Bowles believes there is reason for optimism on the seaway. A lower Canadian dollar may spur more Canadian exports this year.
“The combination of a rebound in Canadian manufacturing activity, a solid U.S. economy, and the prospect of more trade with Europe brings about several catalysts which may boost seaway tonnage,” said Bowles.
Patterson praised the seaway corporation’s modernization program, which Bowles said is now more than 50 per cent complete. Upgrading locks with hands-free mooring is an example, Bowles said.
“We are making steady progress in bringing about gains in efficiency and safety for all concerned, ensuring a highly competitive transportation system for years to come,” he added.
Francois Allard, director of marine distribution for K+S Windsor Salt Ltd., told Monday’s crowd the seaway transportation network is the most cost-effective way to reach markets and it minimizes the impact on the environment.
The Thunder Bay’s trip to Bowmanville takes almost 1,000 truckloads off Ontario highways, he said.
“It’s important that all levels of government continue to invest in infrastructure along this waterway, and we applaud the modernization of the lock system.”
The Top Hat Ceremony is held annually at Lock 3. The museum presents a top hat to the captain of the first ship through the waterway. This year it was to Capt. Jason Church.
Museum director Kathleen Powell the said the top hat harkens back to the days of the canal’s founder, William Hamilton Merritt. He would likely have worn one at the first opening of the canal in 1829.
St. Catharines Standard
Port of Milwaukee director expects steady 2016
3/22 - Milwaukee, Wis. – Port of Milwaukee director Paul Vornholt expects shipping volumes to be about the same this year as they were in 2015 when roughly 2.3 million metric tons came through the port.
“That’s probably a good outlook for us,” he said, noting that downturns in the energy sector and other markets make for a challenging environment.
The St. Lawrence Seaway is opening this week, marking the start of the 2016 shipping season. Vornholt said the two lake freighters currently at the port will be heading out today or tomorrow in advance of the complete opening of the seaway.
Vornholt said mild winter means this year’s opening is a little on the early side, but the season usually gets underway by the end of March.
The 2,286,285 million metric tons shipped in 2015 was a decrease of just over 11 percent from 2014. Despite the decrease, Vornholt said he still expects the port will return over $1 million to the city when it finalizes its record keeping later this year.
Vornholt said the challenge for the port is to remain competitive with all modes of transportation. While the seaway offers an advantage on logistics, he said the port also has to compete with east coast ports when cargo can be sent via rail or truck.
He highlighted two examples from 2015 where the logistics of shipping via the seaway were an advantage. One was a 40-foot high rotary kiln manufactured in West Allis and sent to Ontario, Canada. The other was two mining shovels, one from Caterpillar and another from Joy Global, sent to South Africa and Sweden respectively.
Vornholt said the port is very susceptible to the broader economy and changes in industries like manufacturing and construction can alter the port’s performance.
Milwaukee Business News
Obituary: Steve Nevin
3/22 - Steve Nevin, age 75, of Bellevue, Ohio, passed away Thursday, March 17, in Clyde, Ohio. Steve, also known as "Pete" and "Red,” sailed with Interlake Steamship Company as a deck officer aboard the Paul R. Tregurtha prior to his retirement a few seasons ago. He served with the U.S. Coast Guard in the small boat community, and with the State of Ohio as a law enforcement officer. Steve had many stories of saving people and chasing bad guys in Lake Erie. Steve grew many treasured friendships with his USCG colleagues during his time sailing.
Ore puncher Reuben Pingel, 102, a living tribute to a bygone era
3/22 - Ashland, Wis. – The south shore of Chequamegon Bay is silent now. Long gone are the five ore docks and eight coal and lumber docks that once lined the shore and bustled with activity. Gone too are the burly, hardworking musclemen who manned these docks from about 1871 to 1965.
In a way, these men were the real Ashland Oredockers. But around town they were known simply as, “ore punchers” or “barmen.” Reuben Pingel was an ore puncher. And at 102, he is the oldest and the last surviving man in Ashland who punched ore fulltime for a living.
“I think so, too,” Reuben said of his place in Ashland’s history. Troubled by bad knees, Reuben has been a resident of Court Manor for five years, but his mind seems as sharp and strong as his body once was.
Reuben punched ore on the Chicago Northwestern dock No. 3. There were three Northwestern docks at one time, all made of wood, unlike the Soo Line dock, built in 1916 of concrete and steel.
Pilings from the old wooden docks still poke out of the water, serving as headstones to mark this long-dead industry. Only the base of the 1,800-foot Soo Line dock – once Ashland’s gleaming signature piece on the lakefront – remains.
Reuben worked as an ore puncher from 1953-’56. He also worked from 1948-’57 as a shoemaker in Ashland. And he had a 14-year career as a sailor on the Great Lakes (1937-’47 and 1957-’59), serving as a second assistant engineer. His first ship was the SS Pontiac.
During World War II, Reuben tried to enlist in the armed forces, but was denied. He was told his work as a sailor, delivering iron ore to make steel to fuel the war effort, was service enough.
In 1958, Reuben served as a crew member on the maiden voyage of the ill-fated SS Edmund Fitzgerald. In fact, before that voyage, Reuben had worked on the Fitzgerald in a shipyard in River Rouge, Mich., making the vessel fit for the Great Lakes.
In 1956, when work closed down on the Northwestern dock, Reuben too shut down his ore-punching career. Reuben and his buddies in the ore-punching fraternity knew the true meaning of hard, back-breaking work, with 10-12-hour shifts, sometimes seven days a week.
These men did not punch ore with kid gloves. Instead, they used eight-foot-long steel bars that weighed more than 30 pounds. No need to work out at home, because their job was to pump iron all day long.
“They were real heavy,” Reuben said of the bars. When asked how heavy, he just grinned and said, “too heavy.”
To do their work, the ore punchers perched precariously on eight-inch wooden planks atop the ore cars. Each car had a trap door at the bottom that, when opened, would allow the iron ore to fall down into the huge pockets on the sides of the ore dock. More often than not, the ore refused to cooperate. So the ore punchers used those heavy bars to literally punch the stubborn ore that would sometimes clog the opening at the bottom of each car.
“It was terrible,” Reuben recalled. “Sometimes it was just about like concrete.” And it was extremely dangerous work, too.
“You had to be pretty careful how you stood on those little planks.” Reuben recalled. “Oh, it was dangerous on those planks with the bars. You had to be careful all the time.”
Reuben said he never feared for his life, but recalled “some of the men I was with had some pretty close calls. At least one got killed. If you jammed at something with it (the bar) and you missed it, the bar might pull you right in on it.”
Often, Reuben said, the bar would slip from a puncher’s hands, “and they were gone down in the chute.” There is, no doubt, an impressive collection of these steel bars resting forever at the bottom of Chequamegon Bay.
The ore cars were mammoth, standing 10-feet high and each able to hold 55 tons of iron ore. Train engines would push the cars out on the docks in what were called “shoves” of 25 cars at a time. The Northwestern dock, made of Douglas fir, was built to hold four shoves, or 100 cars at a time.
During World War II and the Korean War, the Northwestern dock would often load four ore boats at a time; two on each side. Often battling stiff, cold winds, the ore punchers did their high-wire act more than 70 feet above the water line. There were sheds on the docks where the men took shelter for lunch or when it rained, Reuben said.
“Usually you just waited for the weather to clear,” he said. “It usually didn’t take too long before you went out again.”
Surprisingly, Reuben said he was not worn out at the end of the long workday. “Not really,” he said. “You just had to, I don’t know, make it go.”
In the spring of 1933, Reuben was a member of the second class to graduate from DePadua, a high school in Ashland that existed from 1928-1967.
Reuben, who never smoked, was an outstanding basketball player at DePadua. He was an imposing 6-foot-4 center with broad shoulders and huge hands. At 102, his handshake is still strong and firm.
At DePadua he teamed with some of the better basketball players in the school’s history; men such as John Simmons and Ray Kuzzy Sr. Simmons became a local legend as an athlete and was a masterful pool player. To shoot pool against Simmons was a guaranteed opportunity to lose money.
And it was Simmons, a wheelsman on the Fitzgerald, who perished with 28 of his shipmates when she sank in Lake Superior in 530 feet of water on Nov. 10, 1975. When lost, the Fitzgerald was just 17 miles from safe harbor in Whitefish Bay.
In 1959, Reuben made the decision to quit sailing, a career choice that, unwittingly, might have saved his life. “My appointment was to be on the Fitzgerald, second assistant engineer, when I quit. That was 1959, I think,” Reuben said.
His family played a huge role in that decision. As his son, Tom, said: “Mom hauled him home. The boys were getting a little rowdy.”
Reuben Pingel said he could not recall how much he was paid as an ore puncher, but he remembers the job and what he liked the least.
“The work!” he said, drawing laughter from those around him. But it was a good job, he said, and more important, it employed a lot of men looking to feed their families.
His son, Tom, remembers his dad, in bib overalls stained with iron ore, coming home from a long day on the dock. “He had bibs on and they were always red,” Tom said.
In the winter, Reuben did repair and maintenance work on the dock to prepare for the next season. That too, was a dangerous proposition.
“I was on a bridge crew during the winter time. I was throwing a chain over a bar and it flipped and caught me here,” he said, pointing between his eyes. “And it split my head open a little bit.”
Gainful, steady employment and being able to provide for his family were the best things about ore punching.
But Reuben – a get-to-the-point, honest man – won’t pretend that ore punching was a glorious profession. In the twilight of his life he doesn’t see himself as heroic or special for playing a part in Ashland’s ore-shipping history. It was a job. And he said, matter-of-factly, “it was just another thing that comes along.”
Looking back on his days as an ore puncher, Reuben remembers, “The danger of it. Those heavy bars.” And he remembers the end of an era.
“The last few years they got a shaker,’’ Reuben said of a device that clamped onto the ore cars and freed up the ore with vibrations. “So instead of everybody barring all the stuff down, they shook it down.” When the shakers came on the scene fewer and fewer men were needed to punch the ore, Reuben said.
Those ore punchers have long ago faded from the scene and onto the pages of Ashland’s history. They’re all gone now, save one.
Long live Reuben Pingel.
Ashland Daily Press
Today in Great Lakes History - March 22
On 22 March 1922, the Goodrich Transit Company purchased the assets and properties of the Chicago, Racine and Milwaukee Steamship Company. This sale included two steamers: ILLINOIS (steel propeller passenger/package freight steamer, 240 foot, 2,427 gross tons, built in 1899, at S. Chicago, Illinois) and PILGRIM (iron propeller passenger/package freight steamer, 209 foot, 1,921 gross tons, built in 1881, at Wyandotte, Michigan).
The GULF MACKENZIE sailed light March 22, 1977, on her maiden voyage from Sorel to Montreal, Quebec.
The tanker COMET (Hull#705) was launched March 22, 1913, at Lorain, Ohio by American Ship Building Co. for the Standard Transportation Co. of New York.
THOMAS W. LAMONT (Hull#184) was launched March 22, 1930, at Toledo, Ohio by Toledo Shipbuilding Co. for the Pittsburgh Steamship Co.
March 22, 1885 - The Goodrich steamer MICHIGAN was crushed in heavy ice off Grand Haven, Michigan and sank. Captain Redmond Prindiville 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.
Welland Canal due to open Monday
3/21 - With the Welland Canal due to open at 10 a.m. Monday with the Thunder Bay receiving the traditional top hat at lock 3, the ships are returning to life for another season. Tug Victorious and barge John J. Carrick anchored off Port Colborne early on the 20th. They will be taking part in ceremony at Port Colborne. CSL Niagara departed winter berth, clearing Port Colborne piers at 12:43 p.m. headed to Windsor. Algoma Olympic cleared her winter berth and Port Colborne piers at 5:35 p.m..
At the Port Weller end of the canal, the tug Petite Forte & barge St. Marys Cement arrived around 9:45 a.m. Sunday and tied below Lock 1. The Sea Eagle II & barge St. Marys Cement II entered Port Weller shortly after noon Sunday. These vessels began to move up the canal after 7 p.m. Capt. Henry Jackman completed her safety drills and will likely depart wharf 12 on Monday.
Port Reports - March 21
Saginaw River – Todd Shorkey
Port Colborne, Ont. – Denny Dushane
Toronto, Ont. – Denny Dushane
Prescott, Ont. – Tim Veale
2016 edition of “Know Your Ships” ready for new shipping season
3/21 - C - Spring is at hand, and so is the release of "Know Your Ships 2016," 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 both available.
"Know Your Ships," now in its 57th 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.
Editor / publisher Roger LeLievre, as well as members of the “KYS” crew, will also be on hand to autograph copies Saturday, April 16 from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. at the Great Lakes Maritime Center in Port Huron. Books will be available for purchase at the signing.
Preview or order at KnowYourShips.com
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.
Port Reports - March 20
Saginaw River – Dan McNeil
Coast Guard to open West Neebish channel
3/20 - Tuesday at 8 a.m. Vessel Traffic Service St. Marys River will open the waters between Nine Mile Point and Sawmill Point also known as the West Neebish Channel.
Also on Tuesday USCGC Mackinaw will transit down the West Neebish Channel then up the Middle Neebish Channel to position check Aids to Navigation in advance of Friday’s Soo Locks opening and the start of the 2016 Great Lakes navigation season. There will be no interruption to Neebish Island ferry service.
Coast Guard still investigating Chambers Island wake incident
3/20 - Green Bay, Wis. – The U.S. Coast Guard is continuing to investigate a September incident near Chambers Island when more than 30 boats were damaged in a sudden wake.
According to the Department of Natural Resources report, on Sept. 5 a wake that came into North Bay of Chambers Island – possibly caused by a passing littoral combat ship (LCS), the USS Milwaukee – struck the more than 30 boats. Many of the boats near the island’s shore were tethered together. The ship, which was being constructed at Marinette Marine at the time, was undergoing sea trials when the incident occurred.
Just before the USS Milwaukee passed Chambers Island, another ship, a Canadian laker Algoway, passed through on its way to Green Bay.
According to a 228-page DNR report, “Based upon statements and videos obtained, it is very unlikely that the wake that was produced by the Algoway was the wake that caused the damage to the boats in North Bay.”
DNR conservation warden Mike Neal conducted the investigation. The report includes statements from boat owners, a report from the operator of the USS Milwaukee, diagrams of the incident, and photos of damage. The report also included several videos of the incident.
Videos provided by the DNR at first show large waves gently rocking the boats. Moments later larger waves cause boats to collide and people on the shore of Chambers Island to be knocked over. Screams can be heard as large waves hit the shore. One person suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) during the incident.
According to the report, more than 50 people were involved in the incident. Of the boat owners, only 22 people contacted Neal with information and damage estimates. The estimates totaled $170,140.98.
The reports ends with a statement about how state law requires operators to operate boats "in a safe manner" and not to "produce a hazardous wake or wash." If this occurs the operator of the boat "is responsible for any damages that are caused by creating such a wake or wash."
According to the Door County District's Attorney's office, District Attorney Raymond Pelrine and Neal discussed the case but it was never referred to the office for criminal charges.
From the DNR's investigation it was determined the county did not have jurisdiction in this case because of where the wake started, said Chris Groth, DNR conservation warden supervisor.
“The wake that hit the shoreline was probably generated in Michigan,” Groth said. This does not mean that charges may not be brought in the future.
The Wisconsin DNR only handles recreational boat accidents, Groth said. The Coast Guard handles commercial boat incidents like the USS Milwaukee. The Coast Guard is still looking into the incident, said Ensign Zach Hall, assistant public affairs officer at Coast Guard Sector Lake Michigan.
“Unfortunately the investigation is still ongoing at this time, so I can’t give you much more information than that,” Hall said.
Green Bay Press Gazette
Obituary: Capt. Angus M. Graham
3/20 - Capt. Angus M. Graham passed away at home along Lake Huron on March 17. Angus sailed for lmperial Oil his entire career of 40 some years. He was 97. He will be remembered by shipmates as one of the nicest guys to be on board a ship with. His funeral is on March 22 in Forest, Ont.
How preservationists hope to get 114-year-old steamship running up Hudson River
3/20 - It sounds like the perfect pitch for an idyllic summer afternoon, for New Yorkers and visitors alike. During a humid Saturday, escape Manhattan not via a stuffy train or traffic-clogged highway, but on a breezy day trip aboard a vintage steamship. While en route to scenic points along the Hudson River, travelers onboard can gaze at gorgeous scenery while sailing upriver, perhaps after staking out a spot on the on-deck beer garden. In the evening, after enjoying towns such as Beacon or West Point, guests can float home while entertaining themselves on the open-air ballroom, appointed in turn-of-the-century decor.
It sounds like a great idea, except that it isn’t new. Regular passenger boats, specifically the Hudson Dayliner, used to sail up and down the river as recently as the early 1970s. And, if the preservationists and boat fanatics behind the S.S. Columbia Project have their way, it’s an idea whose (second) time has come. According to Liz McEnaney, the executive director of the organization, which seeks to restore a vintage steamship for just such a route, recent developments in New York only reinforce the populist push to rediscover the waterfront. What better way to experience the city and state’s surfeit of scenery than on board a boat?
"Look at the recent success of Brooklyn Bridge Park," she says. "There’s a movement of people wanting to get out on the water."
If all goes to plan, the group will be able to satisfy some of that demand, perhaps as early as next summer. After years of effort, including millions in fundraising and extensive restoration, the group recently transported a vintage passenger steamship from Detroit to Buffalo, New York, a partially repaired, turn-of-the-century vessel they hope can sail up the Hudson River by the middle of 2017. The organization has raised $4 of the $5 million needed to get the boat to New York City, after which they expect to spend up to five years and additional millions (perhaps up to $18 million in total) restoring the ship to its former glory at a boatyard in Kingston, New York.
The non-profit S.S. Columbia Project, incorporated in 2002, came about due to the efforts of Richard Anderson, a New York art dealer who was obsessed with the dayliners that used to run along the Hudson and wanted to find a way to recreate the experience.
"When we present our plan to older crowds of New Yorkers who are in their 70s and 80s, they remember the commercials," says McEnaney.
Anderson found what he believes was the answer in Detroit, the S.S. Columbia, a 207-foot-long vessel which had been decommissioned in 1991, and sat docked and decaying behind a steel plant. While the current state of the main deck—which not too long ago was covered in peeled paint the texture of phyllo dough—doesn’t suggest it, this boat was once a grand dame, a famous passenger ferry that brought visitors to Boblo Island and a now-closed amusement park. Originally designed by Frank Kirby and Lewis O. Keil, a celebrated marine architect and interior designer, the vessel was one of many luxury wooden steamships designed by the duo, boasting five decks, Corinthian pilasters, mahogany panels and leaded glass, as well as a nearly 10,000-square-foot, open-air ballroom.
In the later half of the 19th and the early part of the 20th century, steamships like these crisscrossed waterways across the northeast, the north’s answer to Mississippi River paddlewheelers. The "white flyer" passenger steamers that ran up the Hudson were known nationwide. The Columbia, the oldest of these boats still running, offers a connection to this lost era of transportation.
When Anderson and other supporters bought the ship more than a decade ago, however, it was a fixer-upper of epic proportions. Detroit preservationists, especially William Worden, had tried and failed to restore the boat year earlier, though they did get it listed on the National Register of Historic Places. While Anderson passed away three years ago, other supporters took up the cause, finally raising enough to move the Columbia from Michigan.
When the ship was finally moved in steps to New York state, first to the Ironhead shipyard in Toledo, Ohio, where it sat for the better part of a year, and then across Lake Erie to Buffalo last September, it needed plenty of attention. At one point, the wooden vessel was wrapped in plastic, and shrink-wrapping is perhaps the worst way to treat a timber ship. Two tons of zebra mussels were removed from the double hull, which left parts of the ship below the waterline looking more "swiss cheese" than McEnaney and others would have liked. That led to an extensive replacement of more than two-thirds of the hull, along with 950 steel rivets (the steel skeleton remains in remarkably good condition). After the ship was parked in Buffalo for the winter, the group, afraid of the damage that might come from a frigid winter, built trusses to support the ship in case of snow accumulation. Manhattan-based McEnaney, whose phone was set to show Buffalo weather, was happy this year saw little snowfall.
This year, as it remains docked in Buffalo, the boat will host a site-specific theater piece—a "great way to get people on the boat"—and hopefully attract enough attention to finish the final funding push for the move.
The S.S. Columbia has a circuitous journey ahead of it. Too big to take the Erie Canal, it will journey across the Niagara River, through the Welland Canal and onto Lake Erie, past the Thousand Islands, through Quebec, around the coast of Maine, and come through New York harbor. It’s an exciting trip for a boat that spent most of its life on the Detroit River, as well as those, like the Coast Guard, who followed its slow progression east.
"Even the Coast Guard rarely sees a 114-year-old steam ship," says McEnaney. "That’s something really special."
Talking to McEnaney about the multi-year project, it’s clear the organization is prepared for a long restoration, but also impatient to let others experience the S.S. Columbia. That’s why they’re planning a phased restoration, with planned runs on the Hudson before the entire structure is restored. The idea is to replicate an archeological-like experience, so people can see progress as they ride.
For a ship that was basically a glorified ferry and party boat for most of its life, the S.S. Columbia Project has high hopes for the role of the restored steamship: an educational center teaching STEM subjects, a cultural and arts venue presenting floating exhibitions, as well as a driver for tourism and a means to connect the city to the Hudson Valley.
The final step in the boat’s journey hopefully comes next year, when it gets docked at the boatyards in Kingston, New York, 90 miles up the Hudson, for the beginning of the multi-year restoration project. With a $1.2 million grant from the state, the process of bringing the ship back to its former glory will be much like restoring a classic hotel or older building. The organization even found original 1902 blueprints for the ship, another part of the past helping get this boat on the water once more.
"We’ve been left with this gift of a roadmap," says McEnaney.
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.
City, townships may share canal dredging cost
3/19 - Port Huron, Mich. – The city of Port Huron could be getting some help keeping the Black River Canal open. Port Huron City Manager James Freed has proposed Port Huron Township and Fort Gratiot help foot up to half of the cost of the dredging, and in return their residents get access to Lakeside Park at city rates.
Freed said it costs the city about $25,000 to $30,000 a year to dredge the canal, although it could be more or less depending on weather. When the canal fills with sediment at its Lake Huron end it becomes impassable for boaters.
Under the proposed agreement, the townships would each pay 25 percent of the canal’s dredging costs, with a cap at $8,500. The city would cover the remaining cost.
Steve Bruen, a member of the Black River Boat Club in Port Huron Township near the canal, said he’s glad the townships and city are looking at covering costs to dredge together.
“They do dig it out, but then it fills in, depending on how the winds and storms are out on the lake. Sometimes it fills in pretty quickly,” he said of the canal. “It’s used a lot. If you were ever out there particularly on a weekend on the lake near the mouth, there’s just a steady stream of boats.”
All three municipal boards will have to approve it for it to go into effect.
“This should make members of the boating community very, very happy,” Freed said. “It’s these types of collaborative efforts (that show) what good things can come from us working together and how we can find solutions to common problems.”
Port Huron Times Herald
Shoaling present at Little Lake Harbor
3/19 - Little Lake Harbor has shoaled to less than four feet across the entrance between Little Lake Harbor Light "2" (LLNR 14540) and Little Lake Harbor Light "3" (LLNR 14545). The aids to navigation will continue to be maintained, however transiting into this harbor is not recommended due to the shoaling.
Gray’s Reef Passage to open
Museum adds second presentation to meet demand
3/19 - Toledo, Ohio – Because of high demand, the National Museum of the Great Lakes will offer a second presentation by Joel Stone, author of “Floating Palaces of the Great Lakes: A History of Passenger Steamships on the Inland Seas” on April 13. The 7 p.m. program sold out and now the museum is offering the same program at 5:30 p.m. to accommodate interest in the presentation. The program is free to museum members and available to the general public at the price of admission to the museum of $8 per person. Please call 419-214-5000, extension 0 to reserve your space at the 5:30 p.m. showing.
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.
Free breakfast helps launch Welland Canal shipping season Monday
3/18 - Port Colborne, Ont. – Niagara communities are celebrating the start of the 187th season of shipping on the Welland Canal with Top Hat ceremonies planned for Port Colborne and St. Catharines Monday morning.
The ceremonies are part of a maritime tradition for which the captain of the first upbound and downbound ships of the season are given a top hat to wear as they pass through the waterway.
This year, as Port Colborne welcomes the first ship to enter the canal from Lake Erie, the event will also feature a free breakfast served to local residents as well as likely a few hungry sailors.
Breakfast will be served at 8 a.m. at Lock 8 Park. The Top Hat Ceremony is to get underway an hour later. Port Colborne’s first downbound vessel will be the tugboat Victorious, towing the barge John J. Carrick under the command of Capt. Josh Penney and chief engineer Gerald Flynn.
Port Colborne is also marking the start of the shipping season with its annual Mariner’s Celebration, Sunday at 7 p.m. at St. James and St. Brendan Anglican Church, 55 Charlotte St.
The event will include a mass choir, directed by Bill Outred, local sea cadets and the Navy League, followed by a reception at the Guild Hall featuring music by The Shakes.
In St. Catharines, the Top Hat Ceremony for the first upbound ship, expected to be Canada Steamship Lines’ Thunder Bay, begins Monday at 10 a.m. at the St. Catharines Museum Welland Canals Centre at Lock 3.
In St. Catharines, Canada Steamship Lines president Allister Paterson and Francois Allard from K+S Windsor Salt will join Mayor Walter Sendzik and Regional Chair Alan Caslin for the event at the Welland Canals Centre.
Karen Morgenweg, a St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp. spokesperson from the St. Catharines office, said the March 21 opening date for the canal “is nearly a record. The earliest ever opening was March 20, which was set in 2007,” she said, adding the record was then tied in 2008.
While that may be the case, seaway spokesperson Andrew Borgora said the start of shipping this year is “not that atypical.”
“In the last 10 years a date in the third week of March has been the general rule of thumb,” he said. “Last year, on the other hand, was out of the ordinary. April 2 was a date that reflected how cold the winter was.”
Last year, as well as in 2014, ships had to contend with ice buildup on the Great Lakes and in the canal for the first few weeks of the shipping season due to the late spring. “But this year is business as usual,” Bogora said.
Despite the sluggish economy and the late start to the shipping season in 2015, Bogora said it was “a decent year” with 36.25 million tonnes of cargo passing through the waterway.
While the seaway authority is hoping to improve on that this year, Bogora said the economy is still too volatile to make any sound predictions about the season to come. “Having said that, we are fairly confident we can repeat last year’s performance,” he said.
Port Reports - March 18
Sturgeon Bay, Wis. – Denny Dushane
Toronto, Ont. – Denny Dushane
United States now collecting tariffs on hot-rolled steel imports
3/18 - U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents are collecting tariffs on hot-rolled steel imports from seven countries after the U.S. Department of Commerce issued a finding Tuesday they were dumping steel here.
Customs agents are charging between 3.97 percent and 49.05 percent extra on imports from Australia, Brazil, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, Turkey, and the United Kingdom, in anticipation of a final ruling on duties that will come this fall. Imports of hot-rolled steel from those countries– which is used to make cars, appliances and machinery – increased by 73 percent over the last few years, according to the International Trade Administration.
"The outcomes of these investigations are critical to domestic steel producers, the workforce, and surrounding communities that have been harmed by the ongoing surge of unfairly traded hot-rolled steel products," Steel Manufacturers Association President Philip K. Bell said. "Massive global overcapacity in steel is causing problems around the world, and the U.S. cannot continue to be the market of last resort for the world's overcapacity problem."
U.S. steelmakers can compete with anyone in the world, but need the federal government to ensure international trade laws are being enforced, Bell said.
ArcelorMittal, U.S. Steel and other domestic steelmakers filed the trade case in August, alleging illegal subsidies by foreign nations and steel dumped at less than it costs to make, or less than it sells for back in its home country.
"With more than 12,000 ongoing layoffs across the American steel and iron ore mining industry, plus tens-of-thousands of steelworkers jobs depending on this decision – it sends a strong signal that our government will enforce international trade laws to defend American manufacturing jobs," USW International President Leo W. Gerard said.
Gerard said China's overcapacity was causing the flood of cheap imports, which has snatched 23 percent of the market share so far this year.
"If we allow illegal trade practices to choke the American manufacturing sector and its workers, we foolishly undermine our country’s ability to compete globally, and dangerously undermine our national security," he said.
NW Indiana Times
Sen. Ron Johnson named 2016 Great Lakes Legislator of the Year
3/18 - Toledo, Ohio – Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson (R) has been named 2016 Great Lakes Legislator of the Year by the largest labor/management coalition representing shipping on America’s Fourth Sea Coast.
The award is presented annually by Great Lakes Maritime Task Force (GLMTF) to a legislator who has helped advance waterborne commerce on the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway and will be presented at a ceremony at Bay Shipbuilding Company in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, on March 19.
“Senator Johnson has demonstrated time and again that Great Lakes shipping has his full support,” said Thomas Curelli, President of GLMTF in 2016. “From the start he has fully recognized that Great Lakes shipping is a linchpin in both the Wisconsin and national economies and called for better maintenance of ports and waterways and more effective prioritization of federal spending on dredging and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers projects.
Curelli, who is also Vice President of Engineering, Environmental Services and Governmental Affairs for Fraser Shipyards, Inc., noted that increased funding has enabled the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to reduce the dredging backlog on the Lakes. “However, more than 17 million cubic yards of sediment still clog Great Lakes ports and waterways, so we will need Senator Johnson’s support for a provision in the Water Resources Development Act of 2016 that requires 10 percent of HMTF funding go to the Great Lakes Navigation System.”
Senator Johnson’s Chairmanship of the Senate’s Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee is another benefit to the Lakes.
“The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ navigation locks at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, are critical to the Great Lakes economy,” said Brian D. Krus, 1st Vice President of GLMTF and Senior National Assistance Vice President of American Maritime Officers. “The Department of Homeland Security recently estimated that a six-month outage of the Poe Lock would result in almost 11 million unemployed Americans and a $1.1 trillion decrease in economic activity. Senator Johnson’s oversight of the nation’s critical infrastructure helps keep the Corps focused on maintaining the ‘Soo’ Locks’ critical navigation link between the Great Lakes.”
James H.I. Weakley, 2nd Vice President of GLMTF and President of Lake Carriers’ Association added that “It is appropriate that the award will be presented at a Wisconsin shipyard because domestic and military vessels provide more than 1,000 family sustaining jobs for Wisconsinites. The normal maintenance and modernization work U.S.-flag Great Lakes fleets are performing at the shipyards in Sturgeon Bay and Superior this winter are pumping approximately $50 million into the Wisconsin economy. Two repowering projects are adding another $50 million to that total.”
Protection of the environment is a top priority for Senator Johnson. Repowering vessels lessens the carbon footprint of Great Lakes shipping, but equally important is federal legislation that effectively regulates ballast water. “We appreciate Senator Johnson’s support for the Vessel Incidental Discharge Act (S. 373), as it would establish a uniform, federal standard for ballast water discharges. Senator Johnson worked to ensure that Great Lakes concerns are specifically addressed in the bill.”
Senator’s Johnson focus on bolstering the U.S. Coast Guard’s icebreaking resources on the Great Lakes was yet another reason for his selection has Great Lakes Legislator of the Year.
“Most people think icebreaking is primarily for the iron ore and coal trades,” said John D. Baker, 3rd Vice President of GLMTF and President Emeritus of the ILA’s Great Lakes District Council, “but the St. Lawrence Seaway is also heavily dependent on the Coast Guard keeping the shipping lanes open. Ocean-going vessel operators will not take the chance on being trapped on the Lakes over the winter or suffering significant ice damage when the Seaway opens in late March. Senator Johnson fully supports the Coast Guard building another heavy icebreaker and accelerating the modernization of its other icebreaking assets.”
With his selection as Great Lakes Legislator of the Year, Senator Johnson becomes the third Wisconsin legislator to receive the award since its inception in 1998. Previous recipients are Rep. David R. Obey (D) and Rep. Mark Green (R).
Lake Carriers’ Association
Seaway Notice # 7
3/18 - Maximum Allowable Drafts Montreal Lake Ontario Section – has been issued. Read the notice here
All invited to ISMA Spring Fit Out Dinner
3/18 - You are cordially invited to International Ship Masters Duluth-Superior Twin Ports Lodge 12’s “Spring Fit-Out Dinner.” It will be held Monday, March 21, at the Hammond Steakhouse in Superior, Wisconsin, with social hour at 1700 hours and dinner / presentation at 1800 hours.
The presentation will be on the old Duluth-Superior waterfront, with a special focus on its unique lighthouses, by Dennis O’Hara, nationally noted photographer, “Northern Images” website developer, author and informed local history buff. Mr. O’Hara will recount many historically intriguing and humorous anecdotes along with his new, as well as rarely seen photographs of the early Twin Ports waterfront and its lighthouses. Proceeds will go to ISMA. Twin Ports Lodge 12’s Capt. Ray Skelton Mariners Scholarship Fund.
Meal choices include the queen cut prime rib, seven-ounce sirloin steak, broiled walleye, tasty deep fried shrimp or chicken Kiev. Cost is $28 per dinner, including tax & gratuity. All dinners include a garden salad, baked potato, dinner rolls and coffee. Cash or check only (no credit cards, please). Payment can be made the night of the event and a cash bar is available.
Please make your reservations by calling, leaving a message or by email. We need the number of people in your party, dinner choices and contact phone number. Call Capt. Ed or Jeanne Montgomery at (715) 392-6287, or email email@example.com.
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.
Shell’s new bunkering tanker renamed
3/17 - The bunkering tanker Milo, recently acquired by Shell Oil, was renamed Juno Marie at Montréal on March 7 and her registry transferred from Belize to Canada. She is taking over from the much smaller Arca, which has been laid up in Montréal since 2014.
Saginaw River 2015 shipping season in review
3/17 - Saginaw, Mich. – After years of declining commercial vessel passages on the Saginaw River, it was encouraging to see an increase in commercial shipping traffic for the 2015 season. The following is a look back at what took place along the banks of the Saginaw River during this past year.
The 2015 shipping season officially started on April 9th, with the arrival of the tug Samuel de Champlain and her cement barge, Innovation. The pair called on the Lafarge Cement dock in Essexville, starting the season 20 days earlier than the 2014 season opener. The 2015 season came to a close on December 23rd, when Mississagi, departed the Sargent dock in Zilwaukee. This was seven days earlier than the 2014 close, for a season lasting 228 days. For 2015, there were a total of 132 commercial vessel passages. That is 22 more than the previous season. These passages were by 27 different vessels, representing 13 different companies, a decrease of four different vessels and one less shipping company as compared to the 2014 numbers.
Looking at some of the other statistics from the 2015 season, there were 14 docks receiving cargos in 2015. This was two less than in 2014, as the GM dock in Saginaw, and the Bit-Mat dock in Bay City did not receive any commercial vessel cargoes this season. The GM Dock typically received coal and the Bit-Mat dock liquid asphalt. The dock that saw the most traffic in 2015 was the Bay Aggregates Dock in Bay City, seeing 31 vessel deliveries, four more then 2014. Coming in second was the Wirt Stone Dock in Bay City, with 25 cargo deliveries, six more than the previous season, and the Wirt Stone Dock in Saginaw coming in third, with 22 cargo deliveries. These three docks accounted for 48 percent of all vessel deliveries to the Saginaw River in 2015. The top two docks, Bay Aggregates and Bay City Wirt, were top two for 2014 as well. In all, accounting for split cargos by some vessels that unloaded at two different docks on the same visit, there were 162 deliveries to the various docks along the Saginaw River. This is 41 more actual dock deliveries than in 2014.
Without question, the workhorse of the Saginaw River continues to be the tug Olive L. Moore, paired with the self-unloading barge Lewis J. Kuber. The pair made 55 trips to the river, which is 14 more trips than they made in 2014, and the most visits in a single season they have ever made to the Saginaw River. This represents 47 more visits than the next highest visitor, Algoway, which had eight. Algorail and H Lee White both had seven passages each, followed by the tug G.L. Ostrander and her cement barge, Integrity, with six. This is the ninth year in a row that the Olive L. Moore – Lewis J. Kuber have had the most passages. Over this nine-year period, they have visited the Saginaw River a total of 380 times!
Lower Lakes Towing/Grand River Navigation, as they have for a number of years now, logged the most visits by a fleet in 2015, with 63 vessel passages. This was four more than 2014, and was the ninth year in a row for LLT/GRN in the #1 position, accounting for 48 percent of the vessel passages on the Saginaw River. The next busiest fleet was the American steamship Company with 26 passages, and then in third was Algoma Central Corporation with 15. These three companies accounted for 79 percent of all deliveries on the Saginaw River in 2015.
There were a number of vessels that were visitors to the Saginaw River in 2014, that did not make a delivery here in 2015, namely John J. Boland, Dorothy Ann – Pathfinder, Defiance – Ashtabula, Michipicoten, Robert S. Pierson, Saginaw, Everlast – Norman McCloud, Harbour Feature and YM Saturn. The list of boats that were not visitors in 2014, but made a return to the Saginaw River in 2015 were: American Century, Buffalo, Walter J. McCarthy, Jr. and the Herbert C. Jackson. The Chem Norma made her first-ever delivery to the Saginaw River in 2015. The tugs Manitou, Kimberly Anne, Kathy Lynn, and Matt Allen were also visitors. The USCG cutter Hollyhock made visits to work aids to navigation in the Saginaw River Entrance Channel, and the tall ships Playfair, Pathfinder, Nina and Pinta all made visits. The tug Gregory J. Busch was also up and down the Saginaw River numerous times.
There were a few notable stories during 2015. Crews from the King Company continued maintenance dredging of the Saginaw River shipping channel, working the lower river, while crews from Dean Marine & Excavating worked out in the Saginaw Bay, dredging the entrance channel to the Kawkawlin River. Finally, as mentioned earlier, neither the GM dock in Saginaw nor the Bit-Mat dock in Bay City received any cargo deliveries by water this season. This is the first time since I have been logging vessel passages that this has happened.
The upcoming 2016 season will hopefully be a safe and profitable one for everyone involved. Ice will not be an issue to start the season and there is almost none to be found anywhere on the Great Lakes or her rivers and bays. Hopefully we will also see some vessels that have not visited in some time, as well as a few new vessels that have never made up trip up the Saginaw River. We will also see if any maintenance dredging will continue.
Todd A. Shorkey
Thomsen to speak on Lakeland wreck at annual dinner
3/17 - Toledo, Ohio – Tamara Thomsen, Wisconsin State underwater archaeologist, will speak at the annual dinner of the Maritime Archaeology Survey Team (MAST) on April 9 at Maumee Bay State Park. Her talk, “Solving the Mystery of the Lakeland,” investigates the loss of the steamer in 1924. The Lakeland’s inexplicable loss occurred while she was carrying a small cargo of 22 automobiles and was steaming in calm seas. Video and images of never-before-seen portions of the wreck were made possible by Thomsen’s participation in the survey with the Wisconsin Historical Society.
The Annual Dinner of MAST is offered to the public as part of the Annual Underwater Archaeology Workshop produced by the National Museum of the Great Lakes and the MAST. The workshop is fully booked but tickets for the dinner including Thomsen’s talk remain.
Tickets for the dinner are $35. The dinner and presentation will be held at Maumee Bay State Park in Oregon, Ohio on April 9, 2016 at 6 p.m. Tickets can be purchased by contacting Carrie Sowden at the National Museum of the Great Lakes 440-967-3467 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Today in Great Lakes History - March 17
On 17 March 1995, a fire started on the AMERICAN MARINER's self-unloading conveyor belt from welding being done on the vessel at the Toledo Ship & Repair Company in Toledo, Ohio. About $100,000 in damage was done. The Toledo fire department had the blaze out in half an hour.
The tanker LAKESHELL reportedly leaked over 21,000 gallons of Bunker C oil into the St. Lawrence River on March 17, 1982, after suffering a crack in her cargo compartment caused by striking an ice floe.
GEORGE R. FINK was launched March 17, 1923, as a.) WORRELL CLARKSON (Hull#174) at Toledo, Ohio, by Toledo Ship Building Co., for the Kinsman Transit Co.
On 17 March 1916, CITY OF MIDLAND (wooden propeller passenger-package freighter, 176 foot, 974 tons, built in 1890, at Owen Sound, Ontario) burned at the Grand Trunk Railway dock at Collingwood, Ontario, while fitting out for the coming season. No lives were lost.
In 1945 Stadium Boat Works of Cleveland Ohio launched the SOUTH SHORE (US. 247657) for Miller Boat Line of Put-In-Bay, Ohio. She carried 6 autos and 120 passengers. In 1973, she was sold to Beaver Island Boat Company until retired at the end of the 1997 season. In April of 1999, sailed to Chicago where she was docked at the foot of Navy Pier as a storage vessel for Shoreline Cruises.
1906: SOVEREIGN, a steel hulled passenger ship that operated on the St. Lawrence in the Montreal area, was destroyed by a fire at Lachine, Quebec. The vessel was rebuilt that year as IMPERIAL and remained in service until 1928 when the boilers and hull were condemned.
1916: CITY OF MIDLAND, a passenger and freight steamer for Canada Steamship Lines, caught fire at the Grant Trunk Railway Dock in Collingwood and was a total loss.
1973: A wild late winter storm swept into Goderich off Lake Huron on March 17-18. Eleven ships got loose, while only the PATERSON (i) remained fast at the dock. It sustained bow damage when struck by fleetmate MONDOC (iii). Varying amounts of damage were inflicted to other ships.
1980: SUNPOLYNA was built in 1956 and provided service for Saguenay Shipping between Eastern Canada and the West Indies. The ship first came through the Seaway in 1963 and, on May 16, 1967, it ran aground near Thorold. It was sailing as d) TEMERAIRE when abandoned by the crew on March 17, 1980, in position 28.16 S / 21.04 W after the hull had cracked. The ship was en route from Santos, Brazil, to Mina Qaboos, Oman, and, after drifting to northwest for several days, sank on March 21.
Data from: Skip Gillham, Joe Barr, Dave Swayze, “Ahoy & Farewell II” and the “Great Lakes Ships We Remember” series.
Algoma report lists vessels to be retired
3/16 - According to the fleet list on Algoma Central's 2015 annual report, the vessels Algoma Navigator, Algosoo, Algomarine, Peter R. Cresswell and Algosar are the ones to be retired this year. Algosteel is in cold layup status as a spare boat.
Welland Canal ready to open Monday
3/16 - Terence Bowles, CEO of The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation, will kick off the St. Lawrence Seaway’s 58th navigation season with his outlook for the year at an Official Opening Ceremony in St. Catharines, Ont., on Monday, March 21.
Allister Paterson, President of Canada Steamship Lines, whose state-of-the-art Trillium-class vessel the Thunder Bay will be the first ship of the season, will serve as the keynote speaker.
Other speakers include Francois Allard, Director Marine Distribution for K + S Windsor Salt Ltd., whose salt is this first cargo and who will be discussing the importance of the Seaway, and Betty Sutton, Administrator of the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation (United States).
Niagara At Large
Mild winter must not derail effort to build another heavy icebreaker
3/16 - Cleveland, Ohio – U.S.-flag vessel operators on the Great Lakes are concerned that the mild winter of 2015/2016 will derail efforts to build a second heavy icebreaker. Lake Carriers’ Association (LCA) is warning in its 2016 State of the Lakes report released Tuesday it is concerned that the mild ice season is going to lull Great Lakes shipping and those who regulate it into a false sense of security regarding icebreaking resources.
“We’ll do ourselves a great disservice if we breathe a sigh of relief, declare the winters of 2013/2014 and 2014/2015 a 100-year occurrence, and say the U.S. and Canadian Coast Guards have enough icebreaking resources. They don’t.”
The Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2015 authorizes another heavy icebreaker for the Lakes, but funds for the $200 million vessel have yet to be appropriated. The association is confident funding will come.
“The new icebreaker has lots of horsepower behind it. In the House, Reps. Candice Miller (R-MI), Louise Slaughter (D-NY) and Sean Duffy (R-WI) are laser-focused on the issue. In the Senate, Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) are leading the way on it.”
In addition to a second heavy icebreaker, the association is calling for the U.S. Coast Guard to accelerate modernization of its aging 140-foot-long icebreaking tugs by moving the work from its yard in Baltimore to Great Lakes shipyards.
LCA’s State of the Lakes report also addresses last summer’s 20-day closure of the MacArthur Lock at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, calling it a “wake up call” that a second Poe-sized lock is desperately needed. Again, there is forward progress to report.
“The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will produce an Economic Reevaluation Report that will reassess the lock’s benefit/cost ratio. Michigan Governor Rick Snyder (R) called for twinning the Poe Lock in his January 2016 State of the State address. Not long after that the Ohio House of Representatives voted 93-0 to pass a resolution with the same goal. The momentum is building.”
A Department of Homeland Security report on the need for a second Poe-sized lock to connect Lake Superior to the lower Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway issued on March 4 forecasts almost 11 million Americans would lose their jobs if the Poe Lock was down for 6 months and the nation suffer a $1.1 trillion decrease in economic activity.
LCA remains concerned that the government has yet to enact a uniform, federal standard for ballast water and urges passage of S. 373, the Vessel Incidental Discharge Act that requires vessels entering the Lakes from the oceans to treat their ballast and lakers continue to employ their time-tested best management practices.
While progress has been made on the dredging crisis, more than 17 million cubic yards of sediment still clog the Great Lakes Navigation System. LCA calls on Congress and the Administration to 1) continue to increase annual funding for dredging as called for in the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014 so that outlays from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF) equal receipts no later than 2025; and 2) allocate 10 percent of HMTF outlay to the Lakes each year.
The association stresses that once again unfair trade in steel is having significant and negative impacts on Great Lakes shipping and its customers and urges Washington to enact and enforce trade laws that protect America from predatory trade laws.
Lake Carriers’ Association
Port Reports - March 16
Grand Haven, Mich. – Sam Hankinson
Sarnia, Ont. – Dave Baker, Harold Merton
Crew of Joseph L. Block presented with Coast Guard lifesaving award
3/16 - Milwaukee, Wis. – The U.S. Coast Guard presented the crew of the cargo ship Joseph L. Block with a lifesaving award in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, Saturday.
Capt. Amy Cocanour, the Coast Guard Sector Lake Michigan commander, presented the Capt. David P. Dobbins Award to Raymond Sheldon, Thomas Garvey, David Schwarz, Keith Breyfogle, Basil Friend, Joyce Greenisen, Aaron Vonsprechen, Stephen Kowalski, Michelle Fetterly, Betty Benish, Guy Curtis, Roger Long, Carlos Ledezma, Kyle Long, Jeffrey Thompson, David Morrow, Nicholas McCall, Larry Noirot, Glenn Woodford, Ronald Fey, David Deverin, Shawn Bowman, and Gary Warner for their role in saving the life of a boater in Lake Michigan, August 2015.
The Capt. David P. Dobbins Award recognizes outstanding action accomplished while conducting a search and rescue mission on the Great Lakes.
The crew of the 714-foot cargo ship diverted from its course to respond to a sinking 28-foot vessel 10 miles off of Port Washington, Wisconsin, Aug. 24, 2015. The crew hoisted the lone boater out of the frigid Lake Michigan water and safely onto the Joseph L. Block, where the man was assisted by members of the Coast Guard and Ozaukee County Marine Division.
“Despite its commercial endeavors, the crew showed initiative and dedication by saving the life of a fellow Great Lakes mariner, upholding the legacy of Capt. Dobbins,” said Cocanour.
Capt. David P. Dobbins was the first superintendent of the U.S. Lifesaving Service of the Great Lakes, and distinguished himself by performing and organizing numerous heroic rescues during his career. In memory of his heritage, initiative and dedication, the award is presented to individuals who perform distinguished search and rescue acts on the Great Lakes.
After the presentation, Cocanour introduced a representative from Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson’s office to share a letter he wrote to the crew honoring them for their role in the rescue.
VTS St. Marys River will open Pipe Island Passage, effective 8 a.m. local time on March 18
3/16 - The Coast Guard cutter Morro Bay will conduct icebreaking operations to open the Pipe Island Passage, north and east of Pipe Island and will circumnavigate Drummond Island along the International Boundary Line into the North Channel and exiting via False Detour Passage.
Long-lost document may be final clue to finding Andaste
3/16 - Grand Haven, Mich. – The Michigan Shipwreck Research Association says its mission is to preserve and interpret Michigan’s submerged maritime history. The Holland-based non-profit organization has certainly done that, since its inception in 2001.
The MSRA has found 18 Great Lakes shipwrecks, and annually look for more. It's been said that things that are lost only will be found when they want to be found.
The organization’s most recent discovery was last July when they found the John V. Moran ship, which sank off the coast of Muskegon, Michigan, in 1899. Finding the Moran was on the MSRA’s bucket list for 2015. They found the lost vessel four days after their expedition began.
It is now 2016, and spring is about to begin, which means the MSRA has already determined which lost wrecks they plan to hunt for - and hopefully discover - over the course of the next six months.
The shipwreck they hope to find this year has been one of the Great Lakes’ greatest mysteries since it was lost 87 years ago and, if ever found, is considered to be one of Lake Michigan’s “Holy Grails.”
The ship’s name was Andaste.
Read more, see photos and watch a video at http://www.wzzm13.com/news/local/michigan-life/long-lost-document-may-be-final-clue-to-finding-andaste/83424498
Details emerge on May reopening of Northshore Mining
3/16 - Duluth, Minn. – Northshore Mining will reopen operations in mid-May in what is the biggest good news to hit Minnesota’s Iron Range in months. Cliffs Natural Resources announced Monday that its Northshore taconite operations, with a mine in Babbitt and processing and shipping center in Silver Bay, would restart May 15 after sitting mostly idle since November.
Lourenco Goncalves, Cliffs president and CEO, said the domestic steel business is starting to pick up and steel mills are ready to buy more taconite pellets.
“As our clients’ order books improve and their need for pellets approach more normal levels, we are pleased to announce that we are bringing back to work our dedicated employees at Northshore,” Goncalves said in a statement.
Reaction was, as expected, positive among Iron Rangers who have seen a string of layoffs since early 2015.
“The sun peeked through on the Iron Range this morning,” Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, said on a foggy Monday morning. “It is a big deal. A big deal.”
Bakk and other Iron Rangers said the company will call back its 540 employees gradually “in waves” to begin producing pellets in just 60 days.
“We’re very fortunate to get our people back to work. Some of them could go back as early as April 1,’’ said Scott Johnson, Silver Bay mayor.
Johnson said most of the Northshore workforce has remained the area, with older workers who had been through layoffs before helping to bolster spirits of the younger workers.
“My sense is most people stayed. The older guys have been through these cycles," he said.
“But we’re just fortunate to have this layoff end. Had it gone into May and beyond, I think a lot of the younger guys would have had to make some major life decisions on whether to stay.”
“It’s absolutely wonderful. Even the kids are happy up here because their parents are going back to work," said Andrea Zupancich, mayor of Babbitt, who said not knowing when the layoffs would end, or even if they would end, had cast a pall on the community that, like Silver Bay, was built entirely to serve the mining operations.
Most Northshore employees have been off work for several months because Cliffs customers, eastern Great Lakes steel mills, haven’t been making as much steel and don’t need the taconite iron ore pellets that Northshore produces.
That decline in U.S.-made steel has been blamed on the “dumping” of cheap foreign steel in the U.S. by Chinese and other steel companies trying to get rid of excess steel capacity they don’t need at home.
But U.S. trade officials have been taking action to impose tariffs on that illegally dumped steel, some as high as 266 percent, and steel mill utilization in the U.S. has bounced back from about 62 percent in December to more than 73.6 percent last week. That’s up 7.6 percent from the same week in 2015 and nearly 3 percent from the week before, according to new data from the American Iron and Steel Institute.
“It’s not going to be a win until we get all the mines up and running. But it’s a positive sign after months and months and months of bad news," U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., told the News Tribune.
Klobuchar has worked with fellow Minnesota Democrats Sen. Al Franken and Rep. Rick Nolan to get steep trade sanctions imposed on illegally dumped steel and to step up U.S. enforcement of those sanctions.
“I am gratified and pleased to see that the pressure we’ve been putting on the (U.S. International Trade Commission), Department of Commerce and the White House to hold these cheating countries accountable is paying off,” Nolan said in a statement.
The Northshore reopening is a sign of hope after more than a year of bad news that has seen more than 2,000 steelworkers laid off, hundreds of related jobs lost and seven of the state’s 11 major mining-related businesses shut down.
“I am hopeful that this action is the first of many signs that Minnesota’s taconite industry is recovering," Franken said.
Kelsey Johnson, the newly appointed president of the Iron Mining Association of Minnesota, said the announcement Northshore would reopen “is positive news for the industry, the operation’s employees and local communities" and encouraging but that additional work is needed to stop unfairly traded steel from entering the U.S. and sapping demand for domestic steel and iron ore.
Goncalves in late January vowed to reopen Northshore and idled United Taconite in Eveleth sometime this year but stopped short of saying when. As of Monday there was still no word on when United, idled since last summer, would reopen.
In addition to Northshore and United, Cliffs also co-owns and operates Hibbing Taconite and the Empire and Tilden taconite operations in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula as well as an iron mine in Australia. The financially troubled company, which is struggling to reduce its debt and rally its sagging stock price at a time when global demand is down for its ore, has in the past two years shed two Canadian iron ore mines and all of its U.S. coal holdings.
Goncalves said Northshore will resume production of a special taconite pellet in Silver Bay that can be used to make directly reduced iron — a product used to make steel in electric arc steel mills, considered a growing market. Most Minnesota taconite goes to blast furnace steel mills which have been declining in production in recent years.
Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton used the news Monday to urge state lawmakers to pass a bill to extend unemployment benefits for steelworkers still off the job. That bill is working through the process.
“This is great news for 540 laidoff miners who are headed back to work. But thousands of laidoff workers on the Iron Range are still hurting," Dayton said in a statement. “That is why I urge the Minnesota House of Representatives to take action this week to retroactively extend their unemployment benefits for 26 weeks.”
Cleveland-based Cliffs said it sticks by its earlier projections that it will produce about 16 million tons of taconite iron ore this year at its Minnesota and Michigan operations. The company expects to produce taconite for about $55 per ton and be able to deliver it to customers for about $60 per ton.
International iron ore prices have risen dramatically in recent weeks, from less than $40 to above $50 last week and has been as high as $63 in some Chinese markets. It closed at $57.35 per ton Friday, up 50 percent so far this year.
Duluth News Tribune
Take extra precaution on Ontario waters, Coast Guard warns
3/16 - Boaters hitting Ontario waters early this season should take extra precaution, warns the Canadian Coast Guard.
Regular boating season doesn't start until April, which means boaters are at a greater risk of life-threatening injuries should any accidents occur.
"Last year we were dealing with ice and couldn't get on the water," said Peter Garapick, superintendent of search and rescue for the Canadian Coast Guard. "This year, where boaters can put their boats in the water at the boat ramps, we've got to ask them to be sure they've done everything to be safe before they get in the water."
He cautions that lifeboat stations on the Great Lakes, Georgian Bay and St. Lawrence River don't reopen until next month.
Garapick said there are financial challenges that prevent the Coast Guard from deploying extra resources earlier than planned.
Despite the recent stretch of unseasonably warm temperatures, boaters heading out early this year should dress for much colder weather because the waters are still quite frigid, Garapick explained.
Anyone who falls in the water will still suffer from hypothermia quite quickly.
"You've got then, 10 minutes before your fingers and hands and legs go numb and you can't move," he said. "You have one hour before you're unconscious from cardiac arrest due to hypothermia."
Help wanted: Master of Isle Royale vessel Ranger III
3/16 - Licensed Master (Ranger III), Isle Royale National Park - Houghton, Mich. This position functions as Master of the Isle Royale National Park-operated vessel, Ranger III, a 165’, 650 gross ton passenger (H), tank (D) and miscellaneous cargo (I) vessel. The Ranger III provides logistical support and commercial passenger/freight service during the months of April – October to a wilderness island national park located approximately 70 miles north of park headquarters in Lake Superior. During the off-season months (November – March), this position will be duty stationed at park headquarters in Houghton, Mich. The Master is responsible for all aspects of vessel operations, administration, and maintenance.
Requirements include a Master of Steam or Motor Vessels, minimum 1,600 gross tons for the Great Lakes and Inland, First Class Pilot License and Radar Observer (unlimited) endorsement. This is a permanent-full time, federal government position, with a competitive wage and benefits package. Contact Randy Rastello, Chief of Maintenance, at (906) 487-7145, for further job related information or with questions. Please email resumes/qualifications to (email@example.com) or mail to: Isle Royale National Park, 800 E Lakeshore DR, Houghton, MI.
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.
Cliffs to restart operations at Northshore Mining by May 15
3/15 - Cliffs Natural Resources announced Monday that it plans to reopen its Northshore Mining operations in Silver Bay and Babbitt by May 15.
The company had announced last November that it would idle those operations, which employ about 540 workers, due to the continuing oversupply of iron ore in the U.S. and global markets - a situation that has caused several other mines on the Iron Range to idle as well.
In reopening Northshore, Cliffs "is taking such action based on its domestic customers' demand for iron ore pellets and consistent with its previously announced production plans for the year," the company announced in a news release Monday.
"The avalanche of unfairly traded steel hitting the U.S. since last year negatively affected our clients' production levels and, as a consequence, affected us. At this time, with the trade cases approaching their final stages and preliminary duties being announced, the volume of unfairly traded steel is starting to subside," Lourenco Goncalves, Cliffs' chairman, president and CEO said in the news release. "As our clients' order books improve and their need for pellets approach more normal levels, we are pleased to announce that we are bringing back to work our dedicated employees at Northshore. ...
"In 2015, Cliffs developed at Northshore Mining a new product, the DR-grade pellets used as feedstock to (direct-reduced iron) production. As we restart operations at Northshore in May, we will also resume the production of DR-grade pellets."
Duluth News Tribune
Port Reports - March 15
South Chicago - Dan McNeil
Soo Locks Visitors Center to mark opening of locks
3/15 - The doors of the Soo Locks Visitors Center will be open from 9 am – 3 pm on the March 25 to celebrate the beginning of the 2016 shipping season. Light refreshments will be available.
Soo Locks Visitors Center Association
Warship to pay Brockville event a visit
3/15 - Brockville, Ont. – A Canadian naval vessel will make Brockville its temporary port of call later this year.
Brockville economic development director Dave Paul said he has confirmation that a Halifax-class frigate will be among the vessels visiting here in mid-September for the Tall Ships Brockville festival.
“This is of historic proportions inasmuch as Halifax-class warships don’t come up the river, let alone dock and stay,” said Paul. In fact, Paul believes, it will be the first time such a vessel stops here since 1959, when Queen Elizabeth II visited the area to open the St. Lawrence Seaway.
Brian Burns, co-chairman of the festival with Paul, was not sure whether another warship did dock here in the early days of Riverfest. The frigate coming here will most likely be the HMCS St. John’s, he said.
The ship will anchor in the river and shuttles will bring visitors to it, said Paul, who hopes to organize a special tour for Navy veterans.
The economic development director got confirmation of the frigate’s visit here from the Royal Canadian Navy in mid-February.
Tall Ships Brockville takes place September 16-18. More information on the festival is available online at www.tallshipsbrockville.com.
Confirmation of the naval vessel’s arrival brings to eight the number of ships booked for the September event. Organizers are still negotiating to bring in another vessel, a replica of a Viking ship from Scandinavia, Paul said,
The latest tall ships event, part of Tall Ships America’s Great Lakes challenge, is the latest attempt to recreate the glory of Brockville’s initial Tall Ships Festival in June 2013. It’s part of a ramp-up in festivities that began with last year’s All Ships Festival and is meant to culminate in a blockbuster event in 2017 marking Canada’s 150th anniversary.
“It’s right on par,” Brockville and District Chamber of Commerce tourism manager Steve Weir said Friday of those preparations, adding the frigate’s confirmation is “wonderful news.”
Organizers are awaiting news of a Celebrate Canada grant for September’s Tall Ships Brockville event, while they must also coordinate Canada 150 grant applications for next year’s bash.
The recent opening of the Aquatarium will enhance the tourist draw of September’s tall ships event, Weir believes. “Hopefully, we’ll be able to have some kind of celebration, the day the ships arrive, at the Aquatarium,” he added.
The aim of this three-festival buildup is to create a new signature festival for Brockville to succeed Riverfest, which ended in 2011 after a 29-year run.
“I don’t think we’ll be able to bring in tall ships on an annual basis, but every three or four years,” said Weir.
Group pushing to bring back cruises to Duluth
3/15 - Duluth, Minn. – Cruise ships haven't made a stop in Duluth since the Yorktown in 2013, but that could soon change and maybe as soon as this summer. The Great Lakes Cruising Coalition says one of the main reasons that we haven't seen cruise ships in a while is that there aren't enough small cruise ships.
But after meeting with cruising companies over the last few months, the coalition is confident there will be cruise ships back in Duluth by 2017.
"There has been a shortage of small cruise ships. The Welland Canal and the St. Lawrence Seaway can only accept smaller ships because the size of the locks," said Stephen Burnett, Great Lake Cruising Coalition Executive Director.
"There is a very small number of small ship cruise lines. If you start hearing about the Norwegian cruise lines, you are talking about 4,000 people on these ships that can really only get into a few harbors," said Adele Yorde, Public Relations Director of the Duluth Port Authority.
The Port Authority says the Seaway has the longest queue of vessels waiting to be approved than ever before. But many of the ships in line cannot fit through the canals.
To combat the problem, one of the cruising companies is looking to build the first cruise ship specifically designed for the Great Lakes.
Port officials say they have been speaking with company owners about this issue for years and they feel as soon as these small ships are built, Duluth will once again be a cruise destination.
"We know where the inventories of the ships are, we know who's controlling them, and we know where they are sailing. So what we are trying to do is raid their areas. Go to the owners and the operators and say "hey look, you should bring your ship into the Great Lakes because there is money to be made here," said Burnett.
The Port Authority says another issue they are dealing with is the short summer tourism season here in the Northland.
The GLCC is in the process of proposing new itineraries that would not start and end in Duluth, but stop here.
Northland News Center
Help wanted: Fettes Shipping Inc.
3/15 - We are seeking candidates for the position of Marine Superintendent at Fettes Shipping Inc. with our office located in Burlington, ON.
Ideally the successful candidate should have Chief Engineer's experience, or at least work experience in the marine industry in the position of Engineering Officer or Managing Superintendent.
All interested candidates may fax, email or mail their resumes to:
Fettes Shipping Inc.
Only those selected for an interview will be contacted.
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.
Tug in New York sinking was former Great Lakes tug Curly B
3/14 - The U.S. Coast Guard says it has suspended its search for two tugboat crewmen who are missing and presumed dead after the boat crashed into a barge north of New York City.
The 90-foot tugboat Specialist hit a barge at around 5:20 a.m. Saturday near where the new Tappan Zee Bridge is being built. Specialist is the former Great Lakes tug Curly B. It sailed the lakes between 1977 and 2006 for Calumet Marine Towing, Kindra Lake Towing and Lake Michigan Contractors.
The Coast Guard says its search was suspended at sunset, around 7 p.m. Saturday. Coast Guard search and rescue mission coordinator Rodger Krass says it was a "very difficult decision."
Three men were aboard the tugboat when it crashed around 5 a.m. It was one of three tugs pushing a barge down the Hudson when it hit a stationary barge that was part of the Tappan Zee Bridge construction project.
Rescuers found the body of 62-year-old crew member Paul Amon around 5:30 a.m. The two other crew members, including a 29-year-old man, remain missing.
ABC, Rich Nicholls
Port Reports - March 14
Milwaukee Wis. – Dan McNeil
Chi-Cheemaun getting dining revamp
3/14 - Owen Sound Ont. – As the MS Chi-Cheemaun's 2016 sailing season fast approaches, work crews are busy completing the first off-season major renovations to the vessel's interior.
On Monday, truckloads of equipment will arrive at the harbor to be loaded onto the ship, which is in the midst of a major $2.4-million renovation to convert the cafeteria into a fine dining area.
"It is to the point now where we are getting ready to put all the new equipment in," Owen Sound Transportation Company chief executive officer Susan Schrempf said on Friday. "On Monday there are going to be several transport trucks from pretty much all over the continent, a 45-foot forklift, a boom truck and we are going to be putting a lot of the equipment that is arriving onboard and then it is installation after that."
The work involves completely changing the footprint of the dining area, with all the structural work now complete and some flooring done. The galley, or kitchen, is the only portion of the area that is not being changed.
The carpeting, tables, chairs, decorative pieces and the equipment used in the servery area are all to arrive by truck on Monday.
"The dining area itself has had surface renovation done, but this is a complete revisioning of how the space is used," said Schrempf. "We took the original design of the ship . . . and we have been trying to make it do things it wasn't designed to do, for instance the fine dining."
The work is to make seven specific lighting zones, create a bar area and a clear division between the fine dining and general dining areas.
"The best part is you are not lining up in sort of a corral anymore to be served food," said Schrempf. "It is a different kind of concept where you can go to the hot food area, you can go to the grab and go area, you can go to the beverage area and carry on through."
Schrempf said the work is to all be complete in time for the start of the sailing season, which kicks off with the Scenic City Order of Good Cheer Cruise on April 30. The Mayor's Breakfast on May 4 will also use the newly renovated area, while the ship's annual Spring Cruise to Tobermory is May 5.
"We do have to plan these things at least a year in advance in order to get all the work done over the winter," said Schrempf. "The last thing we want to do is have planned work create any kind of an issue with our start-up date."
The renovations to the cafeteria are just the first stage in a three-year plan to renovate the interior of the ferry. When the Chi-Cheemaun is docked for next winter's layover, there are plans to upgrade the forward lounge, which will include a "proper" entertainment area.
The next year, there are plans to renovate the aft lounge, which houses the children's play area, gallery space and where other events are held.
In last month's budget, the Ontario government pledged to invest in the upgrades to the Chi-Cheemaun as well as dredging in the Moosonee area for the navigation routes of the Owen Sound Transportation Company's MV Niska 1. The government didn't disclose a dollar figure for the work, but Schrempf pegged the cafeteria work at about $2.4 million. The estimated cost for the other work to the lounge areas could not be divulged as much of that work still has to go to tender.
The interior renovations also coincide with a First Nations-themed branding on the exterior of the ferry. Last May, a First Nations-themed vinyl decal was installed on the Chi-Cheemaun's smokestack. In the spring, another decal will be installed around the front of the bow.
"You will see the same colours and a lot of the same imagery inside the ship as you are seeing outside the ship," said Schrempf. "That will of course carry through the entire ship through the next couple of years."
Scremphf said all the work, along with a more extensive entertainment lineup, is part of the company's vision to convert the ferry from simply a transportation vessel into a tourist destination.
"We are trying to improve the experience because we are also selling for our round trips, for people who just want the walk-on experience," said Schrempf. "There has to be more to do, more to see, a more pleasant feel to the vessel."
Already the work appears to be paying off, with ridership up significantly last season when compared to a year earlier.
"I don't think we are going to see as big a leap in traffic as we saw last year when we were up eight per cent in vehicles and almost 11 in passengers," said Schrempf. "You don't normally see that happen two years in a row, but we would be quite happy with a two or three per cent increase this year over last year."
Owen Sound Sun Times
Today in Great Lakes History - March 14
March 14, 1959 - The ANN ARBOR NO 6 returned to service as the b.) ARTHUR K ATKINSON after an extensive refit.
In 1880, the harbor tug GEORGE LAMONT sank with her crew of three off Pentwater, Michigan after being overcome by weather during a race with her rival, the harbor tug GEM. The LAMONT was the only steamer to disappear with all hands during the many races that took place among steamers during the late 1800s and early 1900s.
On 14 March 1873, the new railroad carferry SAGINAW went into the Port Huron Dry Dock Company's dry dock where her engine was installed along with her shaft and propeller. Workmen had to break up the ice in the dry dock to release the schooner MARY E. PEREW so that work could begin on the SAGINAW. The work was done quickly since SAGINAW was needed to fill in for a disabled ferry in Detroit. Mr. Francois Baby was granted a "ferry lease" between Windsor, Ontario and Detroit, Michigan on 14 March 1843. He built the steamer ALLIANCE for this ferry service and Capt. Tom Chilvers was the skipper. In 1851, Capt. Chilvers leased the steamer from Mr. Baby and ran it on the same route until the late 1850s.
On 14 March 1878, the first vessel of the navigation season passed through the Straits of Mackinac. This was the earliest opening of the navigation season at the Straits since 1854.
1918 ISLAND QUEEN, a wooden-hulled Toronto Island ferry, was destroyed by a fire at Hanlan's Point in Toronto. The ship was valued at $25,000 and the hull was left to rot.
1962: MILLY made one trip through the Seaway in 1959. It had been launched at Stockton, CA on May 13, 1915, as PORTHCAWL and became d) MILLY in 1950. The 295 foot freighter, sailing as f) HEDIA, last reported March 14 near Galita Island on the Mediterranean close to Malta and en route from Casablanca, Morocco, to Venice, Italy, with a cargo of phosphate. It was posted as missing and then lost with all hands.
1993: The Freedom Class freighter SHAMALY was a year old when it came through the Seaway in 1969. It returned December 1, 1990, as c) WALVIS BAY for Ogdensburg, NY to load corn gluten The 9650 gross ton freighter ran aground south of Greece off Cape Morakis in 1993 en route from Piraeus to Scotland as d) LIPARIT BAY. The hull was not worth repairing and sold for scrap. Renamed e) NORA for the delivery tow, it arrived at Aliaga, Turkey, April 4, 1994, for dismantling and work began May 16.
1999: The Panamanian freighter EVANGELIA PETRAKIS was built in Muroran, Japan, in 1978 as N.J. PATERAS. It came through the Seaway in 1988 and was renamed c) AMER VED in 1990. It survived a grounding off Horsetail Bank, UK on November 19, 1996, only to suffer serious damage in a collision with the newly built, 57,947 gross ton, Maltese flag tanker SEAPRIDE I off Khor Fakkan, United Arab Emirates. The damage to the 21-year old freighter was not worth repairs so it arrived at Alang, India, for scrapping on June 19, 1999.
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.
Great Lakes Maritime Center in Port Huron reopens
3/13 - Port Huron, Mich. – After a nearly 3-month closure, the Great Lakes Maritime Center, 51 Water St., Port Huron, has reopened its doors to freighter enthusiasts. The center has been closed since Dec. 19.
Mike DeLong, director of operations for Acheson Ventures, said the closure corresponded to a slowdown in freighter traffic, particularly during the period from January to March when the Soo Locks are closed for maintenance.
“... Just trying to get us back to our core values of the maritime center, which is maritime education and freighter watching,” DeLong said.
The maritime center will be open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day. After Memorial Day, the center will extend its hours to 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
While the maritime center began accepting visitors again Saturday, the freighter season officially kicks off March 19. “Next week, we’re having a blessing of the fleet at the Maritime Center, opening day of freighter season,” DeLong said.
“We do it every year and there’s a ceremony to bless all the sailors lost and those on the lakes currently.” The ceremony is at noon at the Maritime Center.
DeLong said the center also hopes to begin showing a maritime-themed film on Sundays. He said a date to begin those weekly showings has not yet been set.
Frank Frisk, maritime consultant and researcher for the center, said the BoatNerd.com website has continued to run throughout the facility’s closure.
Frisk said he’ll be available at the center starting Saturday during his usual hours — every morning for six hours. Frisk answers questions about and researches local maritime procedures, maritime history or genealogical questions about friends or relatives who may have worked on Great Lakes vessels.
“I’m there to support the public as a maritime consultant and researcher,” Frisk said.
DeLong said Backstreet Waterfront Deli also will return to the center.
Port Huron Times Herald
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.
Lake Superior ice poses little resistance for shipping
3/12 - Duluth, Minn. – Under normal conditions, a person might look onto Lake Superior this time of year and spot a U.S. Coast Guard cutter knifing through the ice several hundred yards offshore. But there's little reason to cut a channel in advance of the upcoming shipping season this year.
Talking aboard the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Alder on Wednesday, Lt. j.g. Kristopher Thornburg spoke the obvious. "The warm weather is helping us out," he said.
Ice coverage on the Great Lakes was less than 8 percent this week according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. That's good news for the raw materials industries with the start of the shipping season looming March 25.
"The ice chart I'm looking at doesn't even show 100 percent in Thunder Bay, which is unusual," said Jim Sharrow, director of port planning and resiliency with the Duluth Seaway Port Authority. "It's usually hard and fast, shore to shore there."
The ice that usually locks onto shore and grows inward toward the centers of the lakes barely materialized this winter.
It's a stark contrast to the past two ice-laden winters. Last April witnessed 18 vessels stranded in the ice in eastern Lake Superior's Whitefish Bay, and 2014 featured brutally cold temperatures and record ice coverage that didn't lift in some places until early June.
By comparison, Whitefish Bay this year is largely ice-free, said Mark Gill, director of vessel traffic services for the U.S. Coast Guard based in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. East of the bay, the approaches to the Soo Locks that link Lake Superior with the other Great Lakes will require some minor icebreaking on the St. Mary's River.
"Last year we were sitting at 82 percent, but with the warmer winter there's been nowhere near the ice-over," Gill said. "The ice is also deteriorating very quickly."
For perspective, consider the mesmerizing video seen by millions of viewers of ice stacking up along Duluth's Brighton Beach. Taken by Duluth's Dawn LaPointe in February, the imagery highlights something that does not normally occur, said Gill.
"Normally there's freezing onto the shorelines and formations melting in place," he said. "But because it never got super cold the formations broke free and have been drifting around."
The mild winter has El Niño to thank, said Carol Christenson, a Duluth-based meteorologist with the National Weather Service. She described the phenomenon of El Niño as warm equatorial surface waters sloshing around and serving to change atmospheric weather circulations.
As a result, "We didn't get nearly as much of the cold Arctic air," Christenson said.
But already, there are models that show a La Niña setting up later this year. A reverse condition to El Niño, "it typically means snowier and colder winters for us," Gill said.
Christenson wouldn't go so far as to say that, despite the weather service showing a greater than 50 percent confidence in La Niña setting up later this year. "El Niño almost always gives us warm winter temperatures," she said. "La Niña effects aren't as cut and dried."
In the meantime, the lack of ice cover means the shipping season figures to get off to an unencumbered start.
While there are no departure dates scheduled locally yet, the more than half-dozen ships in layup in the Twin Ports figure to be leaving around March 22-23 in order to be at the Soo Locks when they open. Gill expected several ships to be ready and waiting on both sides of the locks.
"The commercial traffic is quite happy," Gill said, "to let the ice break up on its own."
Duluth News Tribune
Coast Guard to honor Joseph L. Block crew for aiding in rescue
3/12 - Sturgeon Bay, Wisc. - The U.S. Coast Guard will present the Captain David P. Dobbins Award for recognition of outstanding action while conducting a search-and-rescue mission on the Great Lakes to the captain and crew of the motor vessel Joseph L. Block in Sturgeon Bay Saturday.
The award recipients are being recognized for their actions Aug. 24 2015, when, aboard the motor vessel Joseph L. Block, they responded to an urgent distress call and rescued a boater out of Lake Michigan after the boater’s 28-foot vessel began to sink 10 miles from Port Washington, Wisconsin.
The 728-foot ship, owned by Central Marine Logistics, was underway in the area and quickly diverted to assist. The crew located the sinking vessel and found the man in the water wearing a life jacket and waving his arms. The crew members reacted quickly, threw heaving lines and hoisted him safely onto their ship. From there, boat crews from Coast Guard Station Sheboygan, Wisconsin, and Ozaukee County Marine Unit took him to Port Washington Municipal Marina for medical evaluation.
The Dobbins Award is named after Capt. David P. Dobbins, who was appointed the first superintendent of the U.S. Lifesaving Service of the Great Lakes in 1876. He distinguished himself by performing and organizing numerous heroic rescues during his career. In memory of his heritage, initiative and dedication, the award is presented to individuals who perform distinguished search and rescue acts on the Great Lakes.
Port Reports - March 12
Port Colborne bridge 19 to reopen
3/12 - Port Colborne, Ont. – Bridge 19 on Main Street, part of Highway 3, is set to reopen next Friday after being closed for almost six months after a cargo ship crashed into it. The Lena J collided with the bridge on Sept. 30 causing major structural damage. Steel beams needed to be replaced for the bridge to be operable for regular vehicle traffic.
Luc Boisclair, general manager of engineering at St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp., said the beams have been replaced and maintenance has been finished.
Boisclair said the reason the bridge was out of commission for so long was due to the need to have engineers evaluate the damage and any pre-existing conditions. He said engineers didn’t just look at the damage, but the bridge overall. After the engineers assessed the bridge, the seaway corporation needed to find a contractor. Boisclair said that all takes time.
Before maintenance and fixing the damage, the bridge had a weight limit. Boisclair said the good news is now there is no limit — any vehicle of any weight can use the bridge.
Boisclair said the Lena J was responsible for the damage done to the bridge, but he would not comment on who was paying for the bridge to be fixed. During the bridge closure many nearby businesses were affected.
In December Kathy Fedson, who owns the Deli on Main, said she felt the effects of the bridge closure, which for a period of time coincided with construction on the weir bridge. She said people were avoiding going down Main Street because there wasn’t anywhere to go.
The reopening of the bridge comes days before the March 21 opening of the Welland Canal.
St. Catharines Standard
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
Port of Cleveland directors set stage for another year of growth on docks in 2016
3/11 - Cleveland, Ohio – The Board of Directors for the Port of Cleveland met Thursday morning to review and approve an agenda focused heavily on maritime in advance of the 2016 shipping season.
The board approved a new services agreement with Spliethoff Transport BV to operate the Cleveland-Europe Express (CEE), the only scheduled liner service for containerized and breakbulk cargo between the U.S. Midwest, Europe, and connecting points worldwide. The CEE has established Cleveland as North America’s inland-most hub for trade with Europe, establishing scheduled maritime commerce between the two regions for the first time in over 40 years. In 2015, the service increased overall tonnage five-fold and container volumes by four-fold as compared with 2014.
The new agreement with ship owner Spliethoff Transport BV of the Netherlands ensures an average of at least two ships per month with direct service between Cleveland and Europe during the shipping season. The new agreement also provides that after the 2017 shipping season the Port will cease direct investments in the CEE and Spliethoff will bear all costs of operating the CEE going forward.
“The Port’s new services agreement with Spliethoff to operate the Cleveland-Europe Express meets all of our strategic goals for the service in 2016,” said Will Friedman, Port of Cleveland’s President and CEO. “We’ve maintained the frequency and high quality of the service while cutting costs to the Port and continuing to position Cleveland and the Great Lakes to compete in the global economy.”
The board also approved renewal of Federal Marine Terminals, Inc. (FMT) as a terminal operator for the 2016 shipping season. FMT will again lease Warehouses A, 24, 26, and the maintenance shed. FMT handles primarily non-containerized steel shipments and various project cargoes. “We are pleased to renew FMT for 2016 and plan to work aggressively with them to maximize their throughput despite ongoing headwinds in the steel and commodities markets”, said Port CEO Will Friedman. The board also approved a services agreement with engineering and design firm Hull & Associates for ongoing engineering work at Confined Disposal Facility (“CDF”) 12 to continue implementation of the Port’s innovative sediment management plan. Hull will prepare construction plans and bid documents for improvements at the CDF to allow for receipt of all the material dredged from the Cuyahoga Ship Channel in 2016.
“Our new two-year agreement with Spliethoff, strategic investments in environmental infrastructure and our continued partnership with FMT sets the stage for growth and sustainability as we continue connecting Cleveland, the Great Lakes, and the Midwest to the world,” said Chris Ronayne, chair of the Port of Cleveland’s Board of Directors.
Port of Cleveland
Port Reports - March 11
Seaway Notices issued
3/11 - Seaway Notices 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 have been issued. View them here: http://www.greatlakes-seaway.com/en/news/notices/seaway/index.html
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.
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.
McKeil’s latest officially renamed Evans Spirit
3/9 - Spavalda had her new name of Evans Spirit welded on the stern on the weekend. It was still Spavalda on the bow however. She had been renamed "on paper" several weeks ago. The vessel is wintering at Sorel-Tracy and is undergoing major upgrading by McKeil.
Algoma pares bulk-commodity freighter fleet amid shipping slump
3/9 - Toronto, Ont. – Algoma Central Corp. is retiring five bulk-commodity freighters, joining a growing list of shipping companies paring their fleets amid a slump in demand for coal and iron ore.
The St. Catharines, Ont.-based company made the call to retire the vessels ahead of schedule as it faces an oversupply of ships serving the steel mills and mines around the Great Lakes, said Peter Winkley, Algoma Central’s chief financial officer.
Two more bulk ships will be made idle when seven new, more fuel-efficient vessels are delivered by 2017 and 2018, Mr. Winkley said.
Coal shipments on the St. Lawrence Seaway fell by 41 per cent in 2015, leading an overall drop in cargo volumes of 9 per cent. Iron ore shipments rose by 5 per cent, said St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp., which does not count cargo that stays within the Great Lakes.
On the world’s ocean-shipping routes, the picture is even darker. The Baltic dry index, a closely watched economic indicator and a measure of global shipping rates for ore, coal and grain, recently sank to a 30-year low amid a plunge in demand for industrial commodities and an oversupply of ships.
As its factories slow down, China is cutting about 1.8 million coal- and steel-worker jobs over the next five years.
Now, the world’s shipowners, which expanded their fleets in the wake of the financial crisis with mistaken expectations for a sustained economic boom, are sending a record number of ships to the scrapyard.
“It’s the worst time in the last 30 years,” said Basil Karatzas, of Karatzas Marine Advisors in New York.
But companies looking to slash expenses and squeeze money out of idle vessels are faced with low prices and poor demand for scrap metal at the world’s main ship-breaking yards in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. These yards and others in Central and South America are working at full capacity.
“If steel prices are low and nobody wants to buy steel plate, there’s nothing you can do about it,” Mr. Karatzas said.
For now, scrap-steel prices are too low for Algoma Central to send the five ships to the wrecker. The surplus ships, four of which were built in the late 1960s and early 1970s, will remain tied up at ports along the Great Lakes, Mr. Winkley said.
Algoma Central saw its profit more than cut in half in 2015, but is still making money. The same cannot be said for most of its international counterparts, where bankruptcies, forced takeovers and alliances rule.
Charter rate for ships that carry bulk commodities have plunged to as little as $1,000 (U.S.) a day, compared with operating costs of about $7,000, Mr. Karatzas said.
A stock index of dry-bulk-shipping companies compiled by Bloomberg has fallen by 74 per cent since the beginning of 2014, compared with a 9-per-cent rise in the benchmark S&P 500 stock index.
Star Bulk Carriers, a Greece-based company with a fleet of 76 ships that carry coal, ore and other dry commodities on the oceans, highlighted this week the depth of the problems facing the world’s shipping companies. The Nasdaq-listed company posted a $460-million loss for 2015, and announced a list of measures it was taking to weather what its chief executive officer call a “depressed market.”
The company said it would delay the purchase of five ships and push back $188-million in spending, in addition to 11 vessels already on deferral. The company last month cancelled the purchase of two new ships and has sold 10 vessels in the past year.
“The last 12 months have proven to be the most challenging market for dry-bulk-shipping over the last 30 years, with lacklustre demand and persistent oversupply,” said Petros Pappas, Star Bulk’s CEO.
The company’s losses are forecast to persist until 2019, according to JPMorgan analyst Noah Parquette. He said Star Bulk might need to take new steps to raise capital if shipping rates remain weak.
Port Reports - March 9
Milwaukee, Wis. – Chris Gaziano
Iron ore prices rebound despite dire predictions
3/9 - Duluth, Minn. – Slowly but surely the price of iron ore traded on the world market has been going up in 2016, seemingly bucking predictions from industry experts and analysts who expected ore prices to remain in the tank this year and most of 2017.
Then, on Monday, the price of iron ore jumped nearly 20 percent in one shot, apparently a single-day record since data has been kept starting in 2009.
Iron ore, which sank as low as $38 per ton in December, topped $55 and even hit $63.74 in one market Monday, the highest since last June.
The Monday spike came after Chinese government officials announced plans to bolster their sagging economy, hinting that they would continue to push for growth — thus increasing demand for steel and its main ingredient, iron ore.
The iron ore price increase is "nothing short of breathtaking," said New York-based Bespoke Investment Group in an industry report Monday.
Iron ore isn't alone — oil, copper and other commodities also have spiked up in recent weeks. So far, no one is sure if the dire predictions for 2016 were wrong or if the early-year improvement is the anomaly.
The recovered price still is a long way from the $190-per-ton record prices iron ore hit four years ago. Still, the higher prices are good news for beleaguered Minnesota iron producers, especially those who depend on selling to another company to make steel, like Cliffs Natural Resources and Magnetation. Cliffs stock closed at $3.42 per share on Monday, up 63 percent since March 1 and up 171 percent since the Cleveland-based iron ore producer hit rock bottom at $1.26 per share on Jan. 12. (Cliffs once rocketed to nearly $100 per share in 2011.)
U.S. Steel's stock price has nearly doubled from $6.83 on Feb. 11 to $13.55 at closing Monday.
The increased price could indicate that more steelmakers are buying ore to make more steel. And if that continues it could mean some of the 2,000 Iron Range steelworkers currently laid off could return to their jobs. Currently, seven of Minnesota's 11 major iron-ore-related businesses are shuttered due to the worst downturn since the early 1980s. A state Department of Employment and Economic Development spokeswoman on Monday said there are about 3,800 unemployed people across the Iron Range.
But analysts for Goldman Sachs cautioned against betting on a major recovery. While supply was briefly slowed due to disruptions in shipments from Brazil and Australia, the company said there is no sign of truly increased demand for iron ore by steelmakers.
Sceptics say there is too much steel capacity in the world, and way too much iron ore capacity, to expect a sustained rebound in price for either.
"We have yet to find evidence of higher-than-expected steel demand — whether in the order books of individual steel producers or in the official data for new orders. Based on the information currently available, the seasonal increase in demand appears only marginally stronger than last year," Goldman Sachs said in a Sunday report, adding they expect iron ore prices to return to the "low to mid $30s'' for the rest of 2016 and beyond.
Sceptics say the iron ore rebound has been pushed by so-called short covering — investors who bet prices would fall but who see rising prices and buy in to cut their losses.
The American Iron and Steel Institute on Monday reported that domestic steel production was up for the first week in March compared to the same week last year.
Some 71.5 percent of the steel industry capacity was being utilized last week, up from 68.9 percent for the same week in 2015.
Industry utilization of steelmaking capacity was down to near 60 percent by the end of 2015, meaning one-third of the industry sat idle.
Duluth News Tribune
Shipwreck diver Elmer Engman to be honored
3/9 - Duluth, Minn. – It was a TV movie about scuba divers raising a sunken submarine that inspired Elmer Engman to try scuba diving in the big lake in his backyard. While watching that movie nearly 50 years ago, Engman and a friend of his, both in high school in Duluth at the time, saw an ad for a scuba diving class.
"We signed up the next day to take scuba diving lessons and that was a hard class," he said — so challenging that half of the 20 students dropped out before the end. "Back then, scuba gear was pretty antiquated. You had to be physically fit just to survive Lake Superior with the diving gear that we had ... and try to stay warm too because it got chilly."
For his first time diving, Engman and his friend borrowed scuba gear and walked the short distance from his house on 15th Avenue East to the lakeshore. They had only one pair of diving gloves between the two of them, so they each wore one glove. Diving into Lake Superior in November, they lasted only a few minutes before their ungloved hands became so cold they had to get out of the water.
"We didn't know what to expect. We knew it was going to be cold, but not that cold," he said.
On a subsequent dive, they found two bottles of champagne in Lake Superior. They didn't know how the bottles got there, but Engman guessed that someone put them in the lake to cool and the bottles drifted away. Too young to drink alcohol, they gave the bottles away — but the discovery was a sign of things to come.
"Lake Superior still has a lot of secrets," he said. "You've just got to get out there and look."
Forty-eight years later, Engman has written three books on diving — including a guide to western Lake Superior shipwrecks that was the go-to guide for years — and has taught diving in the Northland for 44 years. He also created the Gales of November conference on shipwrecks in 1988 as a way to bring divers together.
"Diving has always been an interesting, relaxing sport. You never know what you're going to see when you're in the water," the 64-year-old Proctor resident said.
To recognize Engman's efforts, the Great Lakes Shipwreck Preservation Society will honor Engman with the Dive Community Contribution Award during its banquet Saturday at the Upper Midwest Scuba and Adventure Travel Show in the Twin Cities.
"Icons in our dive community open doors to new diving experiences for all of us and few have opened more doors than Elmer Engman," states the letter nominating him for the award.
Phil Kerber, president of the society, said Engman has been the "go-to guy" when it comes to diving. Ships are built to last a long time and shipwrecks have a story to tell, he said — and Engman has helped tell that story with his guides to Lake Superior shipwrecks.
"It helps a lot of the people that have that interest in maritime history. It keeps those types of things alive," Kerber said.
Engman said he was surprised to learn he was receiving the award.
"I've been plugging along all these years and, getting an award for it is kind of exciting," he said. He's operated Viking Diver for the past nine years and previously had a scuba gear shop in Duluth, all while working for Minnesota Power for 33 years.
In the beginning, he didn't think diving would become a lifelong passion.
"It was kind of one of those decisions in your life that takes a completely different path," he said.
Engman had been interested in shipwrecks for a long time and he made his first visit to a shipwreck — the Samuel P. Ely — in 1969, not long after starting to dive. He explained that the Ely is a good shipwreck to visit for a first-timer because its location close to the breakwall in Two Harbors means it's shallow, safe and relatively intact.
"At that time, the ship turned 100 years old. It was an amazing feeling swimming across the deck that sailors walked on 100 years ago. It's hard to put into words," he said.
Visiting the Ely isn't scary because of its location, he said.
"Granted, you do have wrecks that are a little creepy. It depends on visibility. If you can see everything, everything is fine. But if you can't that makes things a little more hazardous," he said.
After visiting shipwrecks for a while, Engman decided to write a book describing wrecks in Lake Superior. It began as drawings of the shipwrecks and the wreck locations; then he began to add photos of the wrecks.
"In the '70s, there wasn't a lot of information about shipwreck history or even where the wrecks were, and that's where I got interested in doing research and actually doing a dive guide for Lake Superior shipwrecks — because I was told, 'Yeah, the wreck is right over there,' (but you'd) go there and there's nothing there," he said. That frustration spurred the book.
Engman has visited the wreck of the Thomas Wilson near Duluth hundreds of times and was part of the group that raised its anchor that now sits in Canal Park. His book, "In the Belly of the Whale," focuses on the Wilson, a whaleback freighter.
In his early days of scuba diving, he found a lantern in the engine room while diving aboard the Wilson with a friend.
"I was hanging on to it like this," he said holding his arm out, "going down to the engine. My buddy sees that and thinks I'm a ghost of a crewmember with this lantern. I scared the crap out of him," he recalled with a laugh.
Engman has taught diving all over the Northland, wherever there was a school pool he could use for the class, and he continues to be active in teaching in the Twin Ports. He still runs into students that he taught 30 years ago, he said.
Duluth News Tribune
Obituary: Tom D. Meakin
Tom D. Meakin, age 63, son of the late Dr. Alexander C. and Janet D. Meakin, passed away suddenly Monday, Feb. 29. He was respected as an authority on steam and tugs. Memorials may be forwarded to the Antique Boat Museum, 750 Mary St., Clayton, NY 13624.
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.
Decaying dock wall rises as priority in Duluth tourist area
3/8 - Duluth, Minn. – Someday, people strolling or biking the harborfront in Duluth might be able to do so along a revitalized promenade linking Bayfront Festival Park and Canal Park.
The stretch is envisioned as a complement to the Lakewalk on the other side of Canal Park — a way to traverse and enjoy the harborfront that also connects its attractions.
It would capitalize on what some people, including former mayor Don Ness, see as tremendous economic opportunities that exist in the presently quiet spaces behind the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center.
For it to happen, though, Duluth will have to address its dock wall problem.
Failing dock walls are revealing themselves in the form of sinkholes and cordoned-off zones that restrict pedestrian access to parts of the harborfront. Some of the hazards behind the DECC are urgent enough to cause city officials to weigh safety and liability concerns.
“It’s been on everybody’s radar screen,” said Dan Russell, the longtime executive director of the DECC. “But infrastructure repairs aren’t very glamorous.”
A recent data request from the News Tribune to the city of Duluth served to illuminate ongoing, behind-the-scenes talks by city officials about the struggling health of a dock wall that wraps behind the Great Lakes Aquarium all the way east to the Aerial Lift Bridge. It supports sidewalks, parking lots, charter and fishing boat docks, the Minnesota Slip and both its blue pedestrian bridge and the berth of the William A. Irvin, the popular out-of-service lake freighter that drew 25,000 people last October alone for its Haunted Ship Tour.
Among the documents received by the News Tribune from the city was an engineering consultant’s report from last June that concluded “urgent” attention was recommended for five of 11 spans that make up the lengthy stretch of dock wall. Divers have studied problematic areas near the blue pedestrian bridge, where the seawall was constructed of heavy timbers and dates back to the late 1800s, said the city’s chief administrative officer, David Montgomery, during a recent follow-up interview.
“Over time, water gets in there and it’s moving water,” Montgomery said. “It just starts chewing away at the stuff behind these things and it creates the sinkholes and the instability on some of the land side of the dock wall.”
Even the newest steel sheet pilings are corroding and faltering in varying degrees along the seawall. Montgomery and Russell both described what Russell called a “washtub effect” in Superior Bay that has served to compromise the wall. The water in the bay flows with the current of the St. Louis River Estuary. Behind the DECC, the water roils when there is weather from the south, causing waves to crash against the dock walls. Every ship that enters under the Aerial Lift Bridge raises the water in the bay, even if just slightly, via displacement.
After decades of that kind of stress and activity, the water is breaching spaces in wood and steel and seeping behind a dock wall that is a patchwork structure built in several different eras — with varying types of construction and materials indicative of the times they were installed.
City crews have become accustomed to filling sinkholes in the lawn dockside of the William A. Irvin. The holes usually are no more than knee-deep, Montgomery said, adding, “We’ve filled them in; we’ve repaired some, but ultimately the answer is going to be the dock walls have to be replaced.”
Concern about sinkholes
When Justin and Sarah Steinbach bought the Vista Fleet in 2011, they believed they were on solid ground. Sarah had been groomed by having worked previously in management for the fleet, and the couple saw growth opportunities for the city’s long-trusted sightseeing venture.
They’ve realized a lot of that potential by keeping their boats in impeccable condition and capitalizing on their 5,000-square-foot gift shop and ticket office located in the DECC.
“We do a lot of retail,” Justin Steinbach said earlier this month amid some offseason renovation work within the store. “This is such an amazing space that was underutilized.”
But the couple wasn’t aware of the faltering infrastructure where they dock their cruise ships and load their passengers.
“It was shocking to me when we first started learning of the issues that have been deferred for, I would say, the last two decades,” Steinbach said. “But it sounds like the city is taking it more seriously.”
In a short walk along the seawall, Steinbach pointed out the buckling and heaving sidewalks that are a symptom of the dock wall’s deterioration. An outbuilding across from the DECC on Harbor Drive that used to house some of the fleet’s passenger services is no longer in use except as storage, Steinbach said. It sits on the corner rounding into the Minnesota Slip — the most perilous zone along the entire seawall.
A concrete patio at the corner of the slip that used to feature umbrella-shaded tables is now fenced off by the city, which owns a lot of the property along the dock wall. Harbor Drive itself has shown none of the sinkholes or deterioration that exists in the earth that’s closer to the dock wall.
According to emails between city officials last summer, the Vista Fleet was asked to cease activity in its outbuilding last June, around the same time city workers fenced off the adjacent patio in advance of Grandma’s Marathon.
“We need to barricade that area immediately, preferably before Grandma’s this weekend,” wrote city architect Tari Rayala in an email last June to a colleague.
Later the same day, that colleague, city Property and Facilities Manager Erik Birkeland, wrote another city official, Director of Public Administration Jim Filby Williams, to say, “We are doing our best to handle this serious liability potential for the city. … This is a discussion that we should continue as a collapse at this area would be a major issue for the City and potentially more expensive than the actual fix itself.”
To fix what amounts to a sinking corner at the entrance to the slip would cost $3 million, according to several emails shared among city employees.
The city also is considering a temporary alternative in the form of a $200,000 wooden “relieving platform” that would allow for safe boarding and unloading of Vista Fleet passengers. The platform would be anchored to something other than the dock wall and its cribbing. Filby Williams recommended in an email that the city set aside money in the 2016 budget for the platform project.
“We’re in the process of having those conversations,” Montgomery said. “We’re going to err on the side of safety, because the last thing we want is to have 15 people standing in that area and have at that point a catastrophic collapse of that corner piece.”
Steinbach said the plan is for his business to tear down what he admits is a sinking storage building in due time, but he is loathe to characterize the sinkholes as something worse than they are. What ground penetrating radar can pick up as voids in the earth, Steinbach described as “small tripping hazards” in the lawns around the seawall. City workers fill them as they arise.
“They’re no big deal,” Steinbach said. “I don’t want people to avoid coming down here.”
When he spoke with the News Tribune recently, Steinbach said he was not aware of the relieving platform being considered for construction as early as this spring.
He did point out that the summer’s biggest attraction, Tall Ships 2016, will be docking vessels all along the dock wall behind the DECC. He indicated a seam delineating wooden dock wall from steel pilings and said the nose of one of the tall ships will come right to that point.
Steinbach is among those who sees vast potential for development behind the DECC, saying, “They could really make something cool here.”
A question of the slip
It was former mayor Ness who fostered a vision for the area behind the DECC that would fill in the Minnesota Slip and also reconfigure Harbor Drive to create an entirely new pedestrian connection between Bayfront Festival Park and Canal Park.
That vision is now in the hands of Mayor Emily Larson, who took office in January, and her administration. Any rejuvenation of the dock wall is dependent on the direction the city takes with the Minnesota Slip. It’s not inclined to spend money to fix the dock wall only to later fill in the slip.
“We have a new administration and that project is being re-evaluated,” Montgomery said. “There are all sorts of issues around it. Leaving it the way it is and filling it in both have their pluses and minuses.”
Montgomery said he expects Larson to make a decision on the slip sometime this year.
Russell said the DECC isn’t fond of the idea of moving its William A. Irvin. There would be loads of other landowners and parties involved and innumerable issues with filling in the slip, including issues related to pollution in the sediment at the bottom of the slip.
Raw industrial activity dating back 150 years resulted in contaminants settling at the bottom of the slip and bay that figure to require dredging or capping parts of the harbor floor. To fill in the slip would be the ultimate capping of those contaminants and cost a lot of money.
To simply rebuild the entirety of dock wall will cost anywhere between $10 million and $15 million, Montgomery said. In their emails, city officials said they consider the work something that could be included in state bond funds made available for fundamental infrastructure needs by the Minnesota Legislature in 2018.
Montgomery said the city has been tracking the dock wall for years — in the way the state transportation department watches the integrity of a bridge, he said. To hear the DECC’s Russell say it, the time for quick and temporary fixes would appear to be over.
“It’s just aging infrastructure,” Russell said. “It needs a major investment to stabilize all of it.”
Duluth News Tribune
Sarnia Harbor set to undergo $2-million dredging project
3/8 - Sarnia, Ont. – More improvements are planned for the Sarnia Harbor in the coming months. City officials are gearing up for a $2-million dredging project in an effort to ensure water depths remain adequate for commercial shipping traffic accessing the harbor for berthage, repairs and cargo transfers.
Environmental studies have indicated 25,000 cubic feet of silt will need to be dredged, said Peter Hungerford, the city's director of economic development and corporate planning.
But relocation plans for the sediment still need to be determined before dredging can began in the harbor this year. The city is also preparing for a $450,000 upgrade to the electrical services located at the west end of Seaway Road. During the winter, lay-up vessels are dependent on the harbor's power services. Last year, the city started electrical improvements to the harbor by replacing some transformers.
“Once that's done, we'll have a reliable source of power and we'll be good for 20 to 30 years,” Hungerford said Sunday.
Hungerford offered up the update on the city-owned harbor during the annual mariners' service held at St. Paul's Anglican Church Sunday.
Often referred to as the “sailors' church,” St. Paul's tin steeple used to help guide ships into the St. Clair River by reflecting the light coming from the Fort Gratiot lighthouse.
The church's steeple guided ships from 1868 until 1902 when the church was relocated from the corner of Livingston and Victoria streets to Michigan Avenue.
Every year St. Paul's still holds a mariners' service before the start of the navigation season, attracting sea cadets, Canadian Coast Guard members and guest speakers to honor those who did and continue to work and serve on the waters.
For Hungerford, the invitation to be this year's guest speaker couldn't have happened at a better time with the city's harbor ownership anniversary coming up later this month.
“We've had the harbor for almost two years now,” he said.
The harbor includes the government and east docks behind Paddy Flaherty's, the north slip at the end of Exmouth Street, and the Sidney Smith Wharf and nearby warehouses located on the Point Lands.
The federal government transferred the harbor as part of an $8.7-million divestiture deal with the city in March 2014. But the roots of a city-owned harbor trace back two decades when the federal government first broached the subject of a divestiture with the municipality.
“Back in the middle of the 1990s, I would never have thought it would be a 20-year process,” Hungerford said.
City politicians were steadfast over the years in their desire to secure $8.7 million for the harbour to cover off anticipated maintenance costs, as well as legal expenses.
Some of those funds have already been used for harbor improvements, including the installation of energy-efficient fixtures at the north slip and the remediation of two warehouses containing asbestos.
“We've had a busy couple of years,” Hungerford said.
Last year, 85 commercial vessels and the Canadian Coast Guard utilized the harbor, drawing in revenue of $550,000 from berthage fees, electricity sales and leases.
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
Essar Steel Minnesota sued for millions, again
3/7 - Duluth, Minn. – Troubled Essar Steel Minnesota has been sued again, this time by the companies that provided the potential Nashwauk taconite company with giant haul trucks and front-end loaders that allegedly haven't been paid for.
The suit, filed in State District Court in Itasca County, claims that Essar owes New York-based Axis Capital Funding more than $27.6 million in accelerated rents, damages and other fees under a lease agreement Essar has violated.
The suit, filed last month, also claims Essar owes Nebraska-based ESML Funding $1.3 million.
The suit claims Essar hasn't made monthly payments for 10 different Caterpillar trucks and loaders — the giant pieces of equipment that lift ore-bearing rock out of mine pits and haul it to the processing plant.
Essar Steel Minnesota "has failed to make full and timely payments of rents and other amounts due under the master lease agreement," the lawsuit alleges.
An Essar official did not immediately respond to comment on the suit or the company's future.
It's not the first time Essar has been sued by vendors and contractors for not paying its bills. Several companies filed suit in 2014 when Essar stopped paying bills on the partially built taconite mine and processing plant. The company said it secured $850 million in new funding in late 2014, paid off unpaid bills and restarted work in earnest in 2015, appearing to be on the way toward completion.
But that money apparently wasn't enough to finish the job, and work on the project stopped again in late 2015 with apparently more bills left unpaid.
Essar in January said that not only construction workers on the plant were being pulled off the job, but that they were also laying off employees hired recently in anticipation of a 2016 startup that now won't happen.
Even the state of Minnesota has had a hard time getting Essar to pay up on a loan, with the company threatened by Gov. Mark Dayton with a lawsuit if it didn't repay a $65.9 million state grant.
Essar on Dec. 31 inked an agreement with the state on a repayment schedule to avoid litigation. Essar was supposed to start making payments in February with $10 million paid by the end of March.
So far, that hasn't happened, said state Rep. Tom Anzelc, DFL-Balsam Township.
"To my knowledge they haven't repaid any of the state money as of yet," Anzelc said.
Anzelc said Essar did repay a $6 million loan to the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board.
The state and IRRRB money was owed since October because Essar failed to live up to an agreement to create jobs at an iron and steelmaking facility in Nashwauk by that date. The company has moved ahead with building a taconite plant at the Nashwauk site, but has shelved plans to make iron and steel at the site.
The money from the state was awarded from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, through Itasca County, to pay for roads and railroad track as well as gas, water, sewer and electrical lines to the sprawling plant site. The money was an incentive for Essar to go beyond processing taconite and add value and jobs to Iron Range ore by actually making iron and steel at the site. The company, however, dropped plans to build the iron and steelmaking facilities, forcing the state to recall the loans.
Now, the future of the entire project seems uncertain, with work stopped for months and no sign of progress. With iron ore prices in the basement and a glut of ore on the world market, many companies are idling mines, making it a tough economic environment for Essar to open a new one.
"This is about the third time they have run out of money. But this time the feeling is that it's permanent," Anzelc said.
Essar officials in January said the latest construction shutdown and layoffs would be only temporary but that any recall of workers "will depend on several factors over the coming weeks." Those factors included the company's ability to find even more funding to continue work on the project.
So far, Essar has made no announcement that additional financing has been secured.
Ground was broken in 2008 on the $1.9 billion project that promised to be the first all-new full-scale taconite iron ore operation in the state since the late 1970s. But work has occurred in fits and starts and the facility remains unfinished.
Essar's debts to the state, vendors and contractors aren't its only outstanding problems. In September, a federal judge entered a $32.9 million judgment against the firm after a jury agreed Essar violated a contract to purchase natural gas to serve its Nashwauk taconite project. Essar is appealing that order.
Essar Steel Minnesota is a subsidiary of Mumbai, India-based Essar.
Duluth News Tribune
Duluth break out to begin Monday
3/7 - U.S. Coast Guard cutter Alder will commence spring break out operations in the Duluth-Superior area Monday March 7. These operations will continue periodically over the next few days and weeks to prepare regional waterways for the start of the Great Lakes commercial navigation season.
Initially, ice breaking operations will occur inside the Duluth and Superior Harbors. The ice breaking work will expand in coming weeks to prepare Two Harbors, MN, Taconite Harbor, MN, Silver Bay, MN, and Thunder Bay, Ontario for commercial ship movements.
Unlike the past two winters, this year was unseasonably warm. Regional ice cover is not as expansive nor did it reach traditional thicknesses. The forecast for the next seven to ten days calls for temperatures conducive to rapid deterioration of ice. All snowmobile, All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) operators, ice fishermen, and other recreational users of the ice should recognize the instability of the ice, plan their activities carefully, and use caution near the ice, especially in proximity to charted navigation areas.
Cutters to tackle St. Marys River ice Monday
3/7 - On Monday March 7, U.S. Coast Guard cutters Biscayne Bay (St Ignace) and Katmai Bay (Sault Ste. Marie) will begin spring break out operations in the St. Marys River in preparation for the 2016 shipping season. These operations will start in the lower river and move north towards the Soo Locks at Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.
These ice breaking operations will involve work in the up bound channel, also known as the Middle Neebish Channel, from Detour Reef Light north to Nine Mile Point. It will also involve the southern segments of the West Neebish Channel, from Mud Lake Junction Light north towards Sawmill Point and the channel’s northern segment from Nine Mile Point south to Light 45. The ice bridges above and below the Neebish Island ferry crossing will not be impacted initially by this ice breaking work. The West Neebish Channel in its entirety will be opened prior to the March 25th opening of the Soo Locks. U.S. Coast Guard personnel will work with EUP Transit Authority officials to ensure adverse impact to the three ferries is kept to a minimum throughout the break out process.
Elementary students name PortsToronto’s new tugboat “Iron Guppy”
3/7 - Toronto, Ont. – Elementary school students from Toronto’s waterfront schools put on their thinking caps recently to help name the Iron Guppy – PortsToronto’s new tugboat. From a long list of nearly 70 names developed by students from kindergarten up to Grade 6, the list was narrowed to five names by a panel of judges and put to a public vote. Over the span of 17 days, more than 160 votes were cast and the winning name was announced today.
The judging panel that narrowed the list that would ultimately form the basis for the vote was comprised of Marilyn Bell, the first person to swim across Lake Ontario and for whom the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport ferry is named; Mike Filey, Toronto Sun columnist; and Angus Armstrong, Harbour Master and Chief of Security for PortsToronto. The five finalist names were as follows:
The names provided by students touch on various themes, from historical references (the Mayflower was among the first Toronto Island ferries) to capturing the caring and helpful spirit of tugboats as they appear throughout literature.
“By enlisting students from Toronto’s waterfront schools to help name PortsToronto’s new tugboat, we were aiming to engage with young community members and provide a fun opportunity to learn about various aspects of the Port and Harbour that is in the heart of their neighbourhood,” said Deborah Wilson, Vice President, Communications and Public Affairs, PortsToronto. “We are thrilled to see the students and community’s enthusiasm to participate, with 12 classrooms sending in their most creative ideas and more than 160 votes cast to decide the final name.”
The Iron Guppy will be replacing the William Rest, which was built in 1961 for the Toronto Harbour Commission (now PortsToronto). It will work in the Toronto harbor and Port of Toronto to provide a variety of marine services, including dredging and icebreaking. When necessary, the tugboat will also provide emergency assistance to the Toronto Police Service and Toronto Fire Service marine units. The new tugboat will be put into service in the summer of 2016.
Underwater archaeology workshop offered at National Museum
3/7 - Toledo, Ohio – The National Museum of the Great Lakes will offer its Annual Nautical Archaeology Training Workshop on April 9-10 at the National Museum of the Great Lakes in Toledo, Ohio. The workshop is designed to train individuals in the art and science of nautical archaeology. The course is open to anyone interested in learning more about nautical archaeology. You do not have to be a certified diver to take the workshop. The workshop is produced by the National Museum of the Great Lakes and the Maritime Archaeology Survey Team.
The workshop was developed by Carrie Sowden, director of the museum’s Peachman Lake Erie Shipwreck Research Center, over the past 12 years as a way to raise awareness among the general public and the recreational dive community about the value of shipwrecks as an historical resource and more importantly, their fragility as archaeological sites.
During this time, over 250 individuals have completed the workshop. “Although these archaeological sites are beneath the water, they are still threatened by a wide variety of factors. Participants in our workshop are made aware of these threats by learning the basic skills associated with underwater archaeology,” said Sowden.
The workshop is comprised of one day of classroom work; one day of dry-land simulated activities as if the participants were on a shipwreck and then, a one-day in-water practical at White Star Quarry. Those individuals who complete the workshop will be invited to participate in a National Museum of the Great Lakes/Maritime Archaeology Survey Team underwater survey of an actual wreck on Lake Erie during the summer of 2016.
The cost of the workshop is $160 and includes continental breakfast, and lunch on both April 9 and April 10. It also includes a dinner on April 9. The National Museum of the Great Lakes is located at 1701 Front Street, Toledo, Ohio.
Space is limited to 35 participants and limited space remains. Contact Carrie Sowden at firstname.lastname@example.org or 440-967-3467 for more information
Lookback #783 – Former Wismar last seen on March 7, 2009
It was seven years ago today that a former Seaway trader was last seen. It was drifting, with a 20-degree list to port, in the Indian Ocean. The ship, known at the time as h) Gracia, was believed to have subsequently sunk.
This bulk carrier was built at Wismar, Germany, and completed in 1979 as a) Wismar for service under the flag of Greece. The 549 foot, 2 inch long vessel came to Canada the following year but had more than its share of problems.
Wismar was arrested at Montreal over loading problems and was idle from March until August. 1980. It was finally cleared to go up the Seaway but had a power failure below Lock 2 of the Welland Canal on Aug. 30, 1980, and had to drop anchor as it drifted sideways in the channel.
The problem was eventually corrected and the ship resumed its voyage. It was back inland as b) Bursa Bay, Panamanian flag, in 1986 and then became c) London Pride in 1988. The ship was sailing as d) Alexander's Ability when it dragged anchor and grounded at Freeport, Bahamas, on Feb. 6, 1992. The hull was not refloated until Feb. 19, 1992.
While declared a total loss, the ship was repaired and returned to service as e) Cosmic later in the year. It became f) Cosmic Star in 2000, g) Cross Star a year later and finally h) Gracia in 2004. The latter sustained a failure to the main engine on Feb. 27, 2007, leaving the ship adrift on the Indian Ocean in heavy weather. The crew took to the lifeboats and was rescued but the rice-laden freighter was lost.
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.
Ferries to Lake Erie islands begin season
3/6 - Catawba Island – Nothing says spring is on the horizon quite like the ferries being able to transport you to the islands of Lake Erie.
Miller Ferry announced last Thursday that their runs to and from the islands were scheduled to begin Friday. The start comes much earlier than in previous years thanks to the warmer weather and lack of ice prohibiting the vessels from traveling.
"Getting off to an early March start is key for the entire island this year," said Miller Ferry owner Julene Market. "There's so many exciting new projects and so much that goes into them. Whether it's supplies or workers, we're very happy to help further the progress."
G-Tug Photo Contest Winners Announced
3/6 - The Great Lakes Towing Company invited fans to participate in the inaugural 2015 G-Tug Photo Contest and share their stunning photos of tugboats from The Towing Company fleet the largest and most experienced U.S.-flag tugboat fleet on the Great Lakes. Enjoy the first, second and third place photos below and view our honorable mentions from the Top Ten shortlist here.
Thank you to everyone that participated in the first G-Tug Photo Contest! Details for our 2016 contest will be published later this month.
1st Place: Scott T. See the pictures here
Lookback #782 – Former Star Geranta was launched on March 6, 1961
Star Geranta was a Seaway visitor under this as well as a final name of Regal Sword. The ship was launched at the Kockums M/V A/B shipyard, Malmo, Sweden, 55-years ago today.
The 577 foot long bulk carrier was completed in May and strengthened to carry ore with a deep sea capacity in the range of 25,000. The diesel powered, Norwegian flag, vessel had six holds and six hatches and first sailed for A/ Nordenfjeldske as a) Orm Jarl.
It was sold to A/S Gerrards Rederi in 1966 and came through the Seaway that year for a single trip as b) Star Geranta. The name was shortened to c) Geranta in 1968 and the hull was later resold to Hector Marine Ltd. of Liberia becoming d) Regal Sword in 1974.
The latter was a Great Lakes trader in 1977 but was lost off Cape Cod, following a collision with the tanker Exxon Chester, on June 18, 1979. The vessel, and its cargo of 3,000 tons of scrap metal, went down in fog about 25-miles southeast of Chatham, Massachusetts, after being hit on the starboard stern.
The crew of 38 sailors took to the lifeboats and were all picked up by the sailors aboard the tanker. The latter carrier received some bow damage but there was no spill to the 7.14 million tons of liquid asphalt that was on board.
The hull of the former Great Lakes visitor has been located in 275 feet of water. It is considered too deep for recreational divers but deep enough to not be a hazard to navigation.
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.
Green Bay ice breaking operations to begin
3/5 - On Monday March 7, U.S. Coast Guard cutters Mackinaw and Mobile Bay will commence spring breakout operations in the bay of Green Bay. These operations will likely occur in some areas used by recreational users such as but not limited to the Fox River and southern Green Bay, the Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal, Little Bay De Noc, and the entrance to Marinette and Menominee. In the coming weeks, these ice breaking efforts will increase in frequency as ice conditions deteriorate and the needs of commercial navigation require.
Unlike the past two winters, this year was unseasonably warm. Regional ice cover is not as expansive nor did it reach traditional thicknesses. The forecast for the next seven to ten days calls for temperatures conducive to rapid deterioration of ice.
Unemployment rate could top Great Recession if Poe Lock fails
3/5 - Cleveland, Ohio – Almost 11 million unemployed Americans and a $1.1 trillion decrease in economic activity are just two of many catastrophic consequences forecast by a Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Office of Cyber and Infrastructure Analysis of a 6-month failure of the 47-year-old Poe Lock at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan.
Titled “The Perils of Efficiency: An Analysis of an Unexpected Closure of the Poe Lock and its Impact,” the report is an in-depth look at the ramifications of a failure of the largest of the locks at the “Soo” which connect Lake Superior to the lower four Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway.
The analysis finds a failure of the Poe Lock would quickly cripple the economy. Approximately 75 percent of U.S. integrated steel production would cease with 2-6 weeks of the lock failing. Roughly 80 percent of iron ore mining and nearly 100 percent of North American production of automobiles, appliances, heavy equipment and railcars would then shut down. Almost 11 million people in the U.S. and millions more in Canada and Mexico would be unemployed and plunge the economy into a recession more severe than the “Great Recession” of 2008-2009.
Michigan and Indiana would suffer the highest unemployment rates, 22.6 percent and 22.0 percent respectively. Ohio’s unemployment rate would jump to 17.2 percent. Kentucky and Tennessee would follow at 16.7 percent and 15.3 percent, respectively.
California, Illinois, New York, and Texas would each lose more than 500,000 jobs.
Four thousand commercial vessels transit the locks at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, each year carrying more than 80 million tons of iron ore, low-sulfur coal, grain, limestone and breakbulk cargos from or destined for domestic and foreign ports. However, 70 percent of all tonnage moved in U.S.-flag vessels funnels through the Poe Lock because it alone can accommodate the largest and most efficient vessels working the Lakes.
Last summer emergency repairs closed the 73-year-old MacArthur Lock, the smaller of the two functional locks at the Soo, for 20 days. Nearly 2 million tons of various cargos were delayed, but had the Poe Lock suffered a similar outage, the delays and cascading ramifications would have been much greater.
A second Poe-sized lock to provide redundancy at the Soo has twice been authorized by Congress, the second time in 2007 at full federal expense. However, funds for its construction have not been appropriated because of a flawed analysis of the project’s benefit/cost ratio.
The report’s release comes as the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) undertakes an economic reevaluation of that flawed benefit to cost analysis. The original analysis erroneously assumed iron ore and other materials currently moved on the Lakes through the Soo Locks had unlimited alternate modes of transportation available, but further research has proved neither trains nor trucks could fill the void if the Poe Lock failed for any period of time.
Responding to a question at a recent Congressional hearing on the Corps’ budget, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Jo-Ellen Darcy stated that the Corps would take the DHS study into account in conducting that economic reevaluation.
Lake Carrier’ Association
St. Clair River pipeline plan raises concerns
3/5 - Port Huron, Mich. – She's reluctant to talk about it, but Kay Cumbow, of Lynn Township, is the person who spotted a notice in the Federal Registry about the public comment period ending for a revised permit to ship crude oil under the St. Clair River in two 98-year-old pipelines.
"It was an accident," said Cumbow, a long-time environmental activist, particularly with issues involving nuclear waste. "I was looking for something else. I didn’t find what I was looking for."
She said she found it online during a massive snowstorm.
"When I saw there were comments due (Feb. 24) on other stuff, I thought I would just look through," Cumbow said "I shipped it off to other groups because I don’t know pipelines."
The Detroit Free Press ran a story about the pipelines on Feb. 28. Since then, Reps. Candice Miller, R-Harrison Township, and Debbie Dingell, D-Dearborn have sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry asking that the deadline for comments be extended. Democratic Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters also sent a letter to Kerry asking that the comment period be extended.
On Thursday legislation passed that had been introduced in the Senate by Peters to reauthorize the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration through 2019.
Plains LPG, which is based in Houston, owns the two pipelines and four others that cross under the river between Marysville and Sarnia. The two pipelines built in 1918 cross the river in the approximate area where River Road curves west into Bunce Road, according to St. Clair County tax rolls.
Two of the pipelines, which were built in 1971 and 1973, according to information in a Wednesday Free Press story, transport liquid petroleum gases such as butane and propane.
Tom Konik, Marysville public safety director, said he called the Plains local service office on Fred Moore Highway in St. Clair after he found out about the Free Press story.
"Those pipelines, the pipelines in question haven't been used since the 1980s and the new owner has no intention of using those lines," he said.
Plains on Tuesday issued a statement saying the company had requested a U.S. State Department presidential permit to update the ownership of the pipelines. President Woodrow Wilson approved the original 1918 permit.
Four of the pipelines are inactive and according to the release, "Plains LPG has no intention to transport crude oil on these lines."
Konik said Plains has to "file with the federal government legal change of ownership. That's what caused it to appear on the Federal Registry.
"... All they are doing is saying 'We now are the owners of these two pipelines,'" he said.
The statements, however, have not answered all concerns, not the least of which is how the public comment period for an international pipeline could go almost unnoticed.
"I think that there has to be a better mechanism for potentially interested parties to learn about pending applications," said Patty Troy, U.S. co-chairwoman of the Bi-national Public Advisory Council for the St. Clair River Area of Concern.
"It took us totally by surprise as well."
Areas of concern are spelled out under the Canada-United States Great Lakes Water Quality agreement as sites on the Great Lakes where environmental quality has been degraded and beneficial uses impaired. Just within the past two weeks, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality announced that it would ask the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the bi-national International Joint Commission to have the beach closings beneficial use impairment removed.
Troy is not comfortable with the company's statement that it will not be transporting crude oil through the twin 1918 pipelines.
"No plans today doesn’t mean no plans tomorrow," Troy said. "Plans change."
If at some point in the future plans did change, Troy said she would be concerned about the condition of the pipeline. She pointed to the spill of Enbridge Line 6B, which runs from Griffith, Indiana, to Sarnia, into the Kalamazoo River in July 2010. The company replaced the pipeline in 2013 and 2014 including under the St. Clair River.
"The concern is the condition of the pipeline, of course," Troy said. "If the pipeline is compromised in any way, then we have contamination of a drinking water source for how many people, everybody downstream.
"And the habitat projects we have worked on so hard could be damaged by a pipeline leak."
Liz Kirkwood, executive director of For Love of Water (FLOW) in Traverse City, said her group also was caught by surprise and is scrambling to find out more about the proposal.
"We are literally starting to do all the research right now," she said. "We found out (Feb. 24) that the public comment period was closing."
She said the group is concerned about "perceived hastiness and lack of transparency.
"That really is the issue — that and coupled with the fact that there are some serious questions at issue here," Kirkwood said.
Like Troy, she has questions about what Plains intends to do, despite the company's statements that it will not be using the nearly 100-year-old pipelines.
"What we’re hearing from the company, from their spokespeople, is this permit they claim is just an ownership change and they have no intent to transport crude oil," she said.
"But that doesn’t track with their request, which is to go back to the original intent of the pipeline which is to ship crude oil."
In a letter dated June 15, 2012, to the State Department, Plains requests "issuance of a Presidential Permit to allow these two pipelines to be used to transport liquefied hydrocarbons consistent with the terms of the original authorization."
Kirkwood said the letter and the company seem to be saying two different things and "you can't take it at its face value.
"The risks associated with transporting crude oil are very grave, particularly in aquatic environments," she said.
KIrkwood said she thought the public comment notice was placed on the Federal Registry intentionally so it might escape notice.
"People are not typically reading the Federal Registry," she said. "... I think there needs to be kind of a listserv, and people need to be aware of presidential permits."
State Sen. Phil Pavlov, R-St. Clair Township, said he has concerns about the proposal.
"We drafted a Senate Resolution that should be ready the first of the week urging the Secretary of State to re-open the public comment period, and to ask the IJC to review the environmental impacts of the pipeline," he said.
"We will be having conversations with the IJC reviewing their interest in it."
Port Huron Times Herald
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
Report: U.S., Michigan face dire consequences if Soo Locks fail
3/4 - Washington, D.C. – A U.S. Department of Homeland Security report indicates a 6-month shutdown of the Poe Lock in Sault Ste. Marie, if one occurred, would plunge the nation into recession, closing factories and mines, halting auto and appliance production in the U.S. for most of a year and result in the loss of some 11 million jobs across the nation.
The report, obtained by the Free Press through the Freedom of Information Act, paints a grim picture of the outcome of any long-term shutdown of the Poe, the only one of the so-called Soo Locks able to handle the 1,000-foot-long vessels that each year move millions of tons of iron ore from mines in Wisconsin and northern Michigan to steel mills dotting the lower Great Lakes and beyond.
And while the Poe may not be imminently threatened with such a closure, there also is no question that it and the other operational shipping lock at the Soo, the smaller MacArthur, have seen more delays and closures in recent years, prompting shipping companies and manufacturers to agitate for a second Poe-sized lock – authorized by Congress some 30 years ago, but never adequately funded – to finally be built.
“The beauty of what (Homeland Security) has done is they’ve done a high level analysis of the impacts -- not just regionally, but nationally,” said James H.I. Weakley, president of the Lake Carriers Association, a trade group representing companies that ship on the Great Lakes.
Read the whole story at this link
Twin Ports Navy cadets launch fundraiser to buy Coast Guard cutter
3/4 - Duluth, Minn. – A one-time "Queen of the Fleet" for the U.S. Coast Guard may find a permanent home in the Twin Ports, if a local fundraising effort is successful.
The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Acushnet was the last remaining World War II-era ship in active duty when it was decommissioned in 2011. The U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps' Twin Ports Division this week launched an effort to raise the $250,000 needed to purchase the cutter and bring it to the Duluth-Superior harbor from its current home in Anacortes, Wash.
The Acushnet would serve as a permanent training vessel for Navy Cadets, but it has the potential to be a point of interest for residents and tourists, a scientific research vessel for universities, an assistance vessel for rescues and large events, and a training vessel for the Coast Guard Auxiliary and Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps, said Ltjg. Davan Scott, commanding officer of the Twin Ports Division.
"(The Acushnet) has quite a storied history behind it. Duluth, being that it's the world's largest freshwater harbor, it makes sense to have something like this in the Twin Ports," Scott said.
The Acushnet began its service as the USS Shackle in the U.S. Navy in 1943, when one of its first missions was to help clear the channels of debris left by the bombing of Pearl Harbor. It became the Acushnet in the U.S. Coast Guard beginning in 1946. Its service included rescuing 18 crew members on one of two ships broken in half during the 1952 New England storm that found notoriety in the film, "The Finest Hours."
The Acushnet was created to meet the challenges of World War II, at a time when U.S. citizens were coming together rather than dividing, said Steven Lindsey of Keene, N.H., a former Coast Guardsman with an interest in maritime preservation.
"This was our country at its best, I think," Lindsey said. "This ship comes from a time when everyone pulled together and we were one as a people as we ever were. That ship was one of the products of that time. I think it would be cool for the veterans, if we could keep this reminder around for them."
The training and skills learned in the Navy Cadets is "the real deal," Scott said.
With units in 47 states and more than 12,000 members, the Navy Cadets provides training for teenagers between 13 and 18 years old using the Navy's curriculum, including the completion of boot camp at Camp Dodge, Iowa. The Twin Ports Division specializes in medical and firefighting training, Scott said.
Although Scott spent several years in the Twin Ports Division before enlisting in the U.S. Navy in 2006, the Navy Cadets is a volunteer organization — joining doesn't mean the child has enlisted in the military, he explained. The Twin Ports Division has existed since 2002 and has 23 cadets — with four new cadets soon to join the unit — and four officers, with a fifth officer also joining soon, he said.
The unit trains at the American Legion in West Duluth during the winter, and on the Sundew, a decommissioned Coast Guard cutter now privately owned in Duluth, during the summers. But changing locations seasonally is difficult, Scott said.
Purchasing the Acushnet would provide the Twin Ports Division with a permanent training location and would provide a location for other Navy Cadet units to train as well. Three boats are in use on other Great Lakes for Navy Cadet training, he said.
After searching for a vessel for six years to purchase, a former Twin Ports Navy Cadet came across the Acushnet a little more than a month ago and passed the information on to Scott.
"As far as the size of the vessel, the specifics of the vessel, after six years, this was the dream vessel we've been looking for, everything and then some that we would require for our training purposes and additional missions we'd use the vessel for," Scott said.
They've spent the past month searching for available grant funding, as well as setting up a Go Fund Me page for donations. The price tag on the vessel is $250,000 and Scott said they estimate it would cost a total of $550,000 to purchase the ship and the needed items for it, such as insurance, and get it to the Twin Ports.
After being decommissioned in 2011, the Acushnet was sold into the private sector. After sitting in the shipyard for several years, the shipyard has been trying to sell it, he said. Scott and other staff are planning to travel to the shipyard in a few weeks for an inspection of the Acushnet.
If purchased, the Acushnet will be sailed from Washington to the Twin Ports via the Panama Canal and St. Lawrence Seaway.
"This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity we've come across and in six years, this is the first time we've found a vessel in (this) quality, this history and this amount of benefit it can increase not only for our unit, but for Duluth and the region," Scott said.
After helping to clear the Pearl Harbor channels, the Acushnet saw action with landings in Okinawa and Iwo Jima during World War II. Once transferred to the Coast Guard, its work continued. It was involved in 27 drug busts and served in the International Ice Patrol as well as New England, the west coast and Alaska.
On Feb. 18, 1952, two ships split into two parts during a storm off of Cape Cod, Mass. The rescue of the SS Pendleton's crew was immortalized in the book and film, "The Finest Hours." The Acushnet was among the vessels who rescued the crew off of the second ship in distress, the SS Fort Mercer.
"We want to honor this ship's history because this is a living piece of history and to preserve that," Scott said.
Touching on the ship's World War II history, the ship can prepare a new generation for the military and their futures, said Lindsey, who visited Duluth while serving with the Coast Guard on the Great Lakes in the 1980s.
"It's a symbolic gesture that this place matters, this piece of history matters, that what went on before with World War II and what went on with the Fort Mercer rescue and the other rescues and later when it went to Alaska to become the fishermen's friend in the Bering Sea — the Acushnet coming over the horizon in Alaskan waters and some doomed fishing boat taking on water and they couldn't keep up with it and they knew they were done, but when you saw that cutter heading for you, you knew all wasn't lost," Lindsey said. "Preserving that hope, that's really important, to give people hope."
Duluth News Tribune
Marine News Casualties & Demolitions March 2016
3/4 - Marine News, the monthly journal of the World Ship Society, reports the following ships with Great Lakes connections as casualties or going for scrap in the March 2016 issue.
Great Lakes Related:
Compiled by Rene Beauchamp, Barry Andersen and 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.
Lakes freighters getting underway again
3/3 - Cleveland, Ohio – The 2016 shipping season on the Great Lakes began on March 2 when the tug Dorothy Ann and barge Pathfinder loaded 14,600 tons of iron ore at Cleveland Bulk Terminal for delivery to ArcelorMittal Cleveland at the end of the navigable portion of the Cuyahoga River. That much iron ore will keep the mill in operation for about one day.
The vessel could have delivered another 4,600 tons, but the Cuyahoga River is notorious for silting up over the winter, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will not dredge the river again until mid-May.
The next vessel to get underway will be the cement carrier G. L. Ostrander and barge Integrity on March 7. The pair will depart Milwaukee and sail to Chicago, where it will load 3,300 tons of slag for delivery to Alpena, Michigan. There it will then load 14,000 tons of cement for delivery to Detroit, Toledo and Cleveland.
The iron ore trade out of Escanaba, Michigan, is expected to resume on March 16 when the Joseph L. Block loads 34,000 tons for delivery to Indiana Harbor.
The locks at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, will open on March 25 and iron ore, low-sulfur coal and grain will again begin flowing from Lake Superior ports.
For the first time in a number of years the movement of dry-bulk cargo on Lake Michigan did not stop this winter. Two cement carriers, the Bradshaw McKee / St. Marys Conquest and Prentiss Brown / St. Marys Challenger, continued to move product from Charlevoix, Michigan, to Chicago, Milwaukee and Grand Haven, Michigan.
In 2015, U.S.-flag Great Lakes freighters moved 87.2 million tons of cargo, a decrease of 3 percent compared to 2014. The iron ore trade was down more than 10 percent because of record levels of foreign steel being dumped into the U.S. market, but legislation recently signed by President Obama, the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015, promises to reign in tariff evasion and other unfair trade practices. In total it takes more than two tons of iron ore, fluxstone and other Lakes-delivered raw materials to make a ton of steel, so restoration of fair trade in steel is key to the future of Lakes shipping.
Lake Carriers’ Association
Big ships are in Milwaukee for the winter, but they're leaving soon
3/3 - Milwaukee, Wis. – With some help from a mild winter, the Great Lakes shipping season is about to get underway — putting boats and crews to work earlier than usual. Currently, two of the largest lake freighters — Stewart J. Cort and Burns Harbor — are docked at the Port of Milwaukee for winter maintenance and repairs.
The ships will probably leave Milwaukee in the next couple of weeks, according to port officials. "This winter has been incredibly mild, so the ice cover on Lake Michigan and Lake Superior is pretty open," said Port Director Paul Vornholt.
Winter is the only time of year you can get a close-up look at 1,000-foot ships in Milwaukee because, other than being docked here for maintenance and repairs, the biggest ships on the Great Lakes don't stop at the port on Jones Island during their regular sailing season.
If one of the big ships were stood on its end, it would be taller than the U.S. Bank building.
The winter work could involve almost anything, from replacing a ship's galley stove to rebuilding engines that cost millions of dollars.
On average, about $500,000 worth of work is done on each vessel over the winter. Local contractors and out-of-state specialty firms dig into the massive 16-cylinder engines that power the ships and run nearly continuously in the sailing season.
The winter docking area generates revenue for the City of Milwaukee and area businesses, including slip fees and money spent on repairs. "I jokingly refer to it as the Port of Milwaukee's 'bed and breakfast' for ships," Vornholt said.
Everything has to be finished before the sailing season starts, usually about March 25, because delays could cost a ship's owners thousands of dollars an hour in lost time.
The winter repairs have their own challenges, including the weather. It's not work for the careless, either, as decks get icy and heavy machinery is repaired under difficult conditions.
"It's like anything else. You have good days and bad days, but the summers are great," said Jerry Achenbach, superintendent of the Great Lakes Maritime Academy, a Traverse City, Mich., college that trains ship officers.
Fifteen American companies operate 56 U.S.-flag vessels on the Great Lakes. The business ebbs and flows with the economy, but last year the ships moved 87.2 million tons of cargo, down about 3% from the year before.
Each ship has a crew of about 25 people. While the overall employment number isn't huge, job openings are expected in the near future.
"One thing for sure is we have an aging population, so there are opportunities for a young person to start in our industry," said Glen Nekvasil, vice president of the Lake Carriers' Association, based in Rocky River, Ohio.
Great Lakes Maritime Academy graduates can expect a salary of about $65,000 a year, or more if they work an extended sailing season, according to Achenbach.
"If you don't want to be a ship's officer, and are interested in working on the deck of a ship, probably your best bet would be to contact any of the maritime labor unions that have apprentice programs," he said.
Fit-out schedule released by American Steamship Co.
3/3 - American Steamship Co. has released its fit-out schedule. Not scheduled to sail, at least for the time being, are St. Clair, Indiana Harbor and American Courage, all of which ran last year. However, John J. Boland, which was laid up for 2015, is scheduled to come out in the spring. Adam E. Cornelius is also expected to remain laid up at Huron, Ohio. Long-term layup will also continue for American Victory and American Valor. Find more information at this link
CSL named one of Montreal’s top employers
3/3 - Montreal, Que. – CSL‘s increased focus on promoting employee engagement, performance and growth is not only contributing to a healthier and more productive work environment, it has also positioned CSL as one of Montreal’s Top Employers for 2016.
Now entering its 11th year, Montreal's Top Employers is an annual competition that recognizes Montreal-area employers that lead their industries in offering exceptional workplace and progressive and forward-thinking programs.
As part of the selection process, CSL was compared to other organizations and evaluated based on eight criteria: 1) Physical workplace; 2) Work atmosphere and social; 3) Health, financial and family benefits; 4) Vacation and time off; 5) Employee communications; 6) Performance management; 7) Training and skills development; and 8) Community involvement.
“CSL is passionate about its people and we are committed to creating a safe, caring and inspiring workplace,” said Martine Rivard, Chief Human Resources and Communications Officer.
“Being recognized as a Top Employer tells us we are on the right path, but it doesn’t mean we can rest on our laurels. Building an engaging and dynamic workforce with solid values and a drive to succeed requires a strong alignment of people practices and business strategy. And for CSL, this means continuously seeking ways to reinforce and motivate our team.”
Updates - March 3
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.
Interlake launches 2016 season with ore shuttle
3/2 - Middleburg Heights, Ohio – The Interlake Steamship Company’s tug Dorothy Ann and barge Pathfinder departed winter layup Tuesday to begin early-season shuttles of iron ore for ArcelorMittal, a leading integrated steel and mining company with blast furnaces at the head of the Cuyahoga River.
A workhorse of Interlake’s nine-vessel fleet, the combined 711-foot Dorothy Ann-Pathfinder is one of Interlake’s two River-Class vessels, a designation given to ships that can traverse the narrowest harbors of the Great Lakes.
With its unique Z-drive (360-degree) propulsion systems, the Dorothy Ann-Pathfinder is the most maneuverable vessel in the U.S. Great Lakes fleet.
“We are excited to kick off our 2016 navigation season with longest River-Class vessel capable of transiting the winding Cuyahoga River,” says Brendan O’Connor, Interlake’s Vice President of Marketing and Marine Traffic.
This spring also signals the successful completion of the company’s more than $100 million in fleet modernization as well as continuous emission-reduction improvements.
“These significant investments represent Interlake’s long-term commitment to the Great Lakes shipping industry and the customers we serve,” O’Connor says.
Propelled by a vision to create the most efficient and environmentally friendly fleet on the Great Lakes, Interlake will complete its steam plant conversion program that began in 2006 with its final vessel, the Herbert C. Jackson. The Jackson will sail in June as a modern and efficient River-Class vessel when its current repowering is completed at Fraser Shipyards in Superior, Wis.
Interlake is also installing exhaust gas scrubbers on two additional vessels – the James R. Barker and the Lee A. Tregurtha – at Fincanteri Bay Shipbuilding in Sturgeon Bay, Wis.
Interlake Steamship Co.
World Shipping, Inc. expands Great Lakes network to include office in Hamilton
3/2 - Cleveland, Ohio – World Shipping, Inc. has expanded its Great Lakes Vessel Operations Agency Network to include Canadian ports in addition to all U.S. Great Lakes ports. Effective March 1, 2016, World Shipping Inc. will open a fully-staffed agency office in Hamilton, Ont., to provide vessel owners and operators the same service at Canadian ports as the company has provided to U.S. Great Lakes ports since its founding in 1960.
The Canadian Great Lakes Vessel Operations Network includes the ports of Hamilton, Mississauga, Oakville, Toronto, Oshawa, Picton, Welland Canal, Port Weller, Port Colborne, Thorold and Nanticoke.
The expansion of the Great Lakes Vessel Operations Network closes a gap in the Eastern region of the Great Lakes by creating a continuous network of vessel operating offices servicing Lake Ontario and the Welland Canal ports, providing the customers of World Shipping, Inc. with the opportunity to use a single agent, while transiting beyond the St. Lawrence Seaway for all Great Lakes ports on both the U.S. and Canadian side.
World Shipping, Inc.
Obituary: Robert William Clark
3/2 - Kingston, Ont. - entrepreneur and two-time recipient of the Businessman of the Year Award Robert William Clark, 79, passed away Friday, February 26, at Kingston General Hospital. He was preceded in death by his wife Myrna (Benson) on January 18, 2013. Bob and Myrna spent their adult lives together building and operating Worthington Park, Kingston's overnight cruise ship the Canadian Empress, and Aunt Lucy’s Dinner House. A memorial service will be held on Friday, March 4th at James Reid Funeral Home, 1900 John Counter Boulevard, Kingston, Ont. Visitation is to begin at 10am and the memorial is to commence at 11am. A reception will follow in the James Reid Reception Centre. In lieu of flowers, a donation to Cystic Fibrosis Canada or University Hospitals Kingston Foundation would be appreciated.
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
Fraser project sparks interest
3/1 - Superior, Wis. – Although Fraser Shipyards is working on seven different vessels this winter, the Herbert C. Jackson has attracted the lion’s share of attention.
Wednesday, state Sen. Janet Bewley, D-Delta, travelled through the 689-foot laker, which is undergoing an engine transplant. When it sails out of Superior in June, the Interlake Steamship Co. vessel will no longer be steam-powered.
"I heard about the re-engine and the fact that they’re actually taking out one set of engines and putting in another," said Bewley, senator for the 25th District. "This is the ultimate in recycling. I mean, think about it. We have a ship that was made in 1959 that’s got a lot of good years left in her and what do you need to do? Well, you need to make her more efficient and more compatible with today’s fuels and with the industry itself."
The fact that Interlake Steamship Co. chose Fraser and Northern Engineering for this multi-million-dollar re-powering project is a feather in our cap, Bewley said, and a source of maritime industry employment. But those weren’t the only reasons the senator dropped by the Superior shipyards for a tour.
"I just wanted to see it," she said. "If it’s big and dirty, I love it. So I got to go on board and take a look around."
The scope of the project, with work taking place on multiple levels inside as well as outside, amazed her.
"Imagine if you will we had this ship with its stack on it. They take the stack off, move it aside, gut it, take everything out and down to the sides of the ship," Bewley said. "And then put in the newest and the best machinery involved to power this vessel for another 20-30 years. It’s just the right thing to do and the right place to do it."
A crew of 60 is working on the ship in two shifts, orchestrating the many components and processes involved in replacing the Herbert C. Jackson’s engine. The project gives passers-by a look at what makes a laker tick, Bewley said.
A barge beside the dry dock holds the scrap; the vessel’s reusable components are being pulled out and set to the side; new engines rest next to the stack, ready to be lowered in. The dual-fuel engines are more efficient and EPA compliant, said Fraser Shipyards President James Farkas.
"It’s just utilizing a cleaner fuel, a more efficient fuel and I guess actually safer as well," he said. "New engines are more compact. The old engines have a lot of steam lines. Steam, as you can imagine, super-heated water, it’s dangerous so it’s a safer way to go about it as well."
The Herbert C. Jackson is a common visitor to the Twin Ports
"She generally loads taconite and/or coal up here in Minnesota, normally out of Duluth or Superior, and sails it down river through the Soo Locks and into Detroit, Chicago, and Muskegon, Cleveland, those sorts of areas," Farkas said.
He said that although she’s an old ship, she’s still effective due to upgrades.
"We think about the navigation systems, the electronics systems, those are all upgraded on the vessel, now the engines will be upgraded as well with a new fuel-efficient engine," Farkas said. "It just allows that ship to maintain its usefulness."
With 225 years of combined experience, Fraser Shipyards and Northern Engineering are integral in keeping ships like the Jackson afloat. Every winter, boats dock in Superior for structural and mechanical upgrades. The enterprise is a good fit for the busy Twin Ports harbor.
"The vessels are here often, because of the amount of stuff that’s loaded here … so it’s important for there to be a group of people capable of providing services to keep those ships sailing safely," he said.
Bewley and Farkas encouraged motorists to drive along Connor’s Point and take a look at the work in progress.
"It’s a great opportunity for people to see exactly what kind of things could have been inside of that ship," Bewley said.
2016 S.S. Badger Gathering stateroom reservations going fast
3/1 - Plans have been completed for the annual Boatnerd Gathering aboard the S.S. Badger for a round trip from Ludington, Mich., to Manitowoc, Wis., and return on Saturday, June 4. 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, June 3, is also an option. Friday night guests will be treated to guided tours of the pilothouse and possibly the engine room, plus a buffet breakfast on Saturday morning. Only 16 staterooms are still available. Make your reservation today. See the Gathering Page for all the details,
Help wanted: National Museum seeks Volunteer Coordinator
3/1 - Toledo, Ohio – The National Museum of the Great Lake, in Toledo, Ohio, is seeking a dedicated volunteer to organize, develop and manage the volunteer activities of the museum and its affiliated programs. The museum is looking for someone who can volunteer approximately 8 hours a week to get the program off the ground in terms of assessing institutional needs, volunteer recruitment and retention efforts, and volunteer recognition programs. The museum estimates an 8-hour per-week time commitment but believes that some of that time can be volunteered at the individual’s home. Good written and oral communication skills are a necessity for the position as well as an ability to work with others. As a volunteer position, no benefits are available for the position except the thanks of a grateful organization. Interested parties should contact John McCarty at 419-214-5000, extension 203. The National Museum of the Great Lakes is located at 1701 Front Street Toledo, Ohio 43605.
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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