Great Lakes & Seaway Shipping News Archive

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* Report News

No funding for Soo Locks project

4/30 - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said Tuesday it will not spend federal stimulus money to build a half billion-dollar lock on the eastern edge of Lake Superior in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

The long-planned lock is designed to be a backup to an existing one that allows 1,000-foot-long freighters access to Lake Superior. Construction funding was considered a done deal by many in the Great Lakes shipping community. Now it looks dead in the water, at least for this year.

"Everybody is in shock here," Glen Nekvasil, spokesman for the Lake Carriers' Association, said after Tuesday's announcement. "It was a jobs creator. It would have used American workers. It would have used American goods, and it would have guaranteed the redundancy we need. "This should have been a go."

Conservationists and taxpayer watchdogs, however, applauded the Army Corps' decision to put its money elsewhere.  "Here was a project that has very little economic justification," said Steve Ellis, vice president of the nonprofit Taxpayers for Common Sense. "If you're going to put thought into the projects you fund, then this project falls out," he added.

Conservationists don't oppose the project on environmental grounds - the new lock would be built on the footprint of two outdated locks. They did have a problem with the project because they said there are plenty of better places to spend the estimated $490 million it will cost to build. Those include billions needed to fix aged sewer systems, clean up industrial messes and protect the world's largest freshwater system from the next invasive species.

Another lock already operates adjacent to the bigger Poe Lock, but it is too small to handle the super-sized freighters that haul about 70% of the 80 million tons of cargo that move through the Soo Locks complex annually. Trouble at the Poe Lock could choke the flow of things such as coal and iron ore to Midwestern factories, shipping advocates note. That's why they want to build a twin for the Poe.

Congress first authorized a second Poe-sized lock in 1986. In 2007, Congress agreed the federal government would fully fund the project, but it failed to deliver the dollars. Lock backers thought their funding luck had changed this year when Congress gave the Army Corps $17 million to construct a set of watertight walls known as cofferdams at the lock site.

Better news came when President Barack Obama vowed to jump-start the troubled economy by pouring money into projects that are "shovel ready," shorthand for construction jobs that had already been designed and cleared environmental hurdles.

"No project meets the definition of shovel ready more than the replacement Soo Lock," Upper Peninsula Congressman Bart Stupak said last winter. Army Corps bosses in Washington, D.C., evidently believe differently. One apparent problem was that construction of the new lock is expected to last up to 10 years. The Army Corps favored projects that can be completed faster, said Army Corps spokeswoman Lynn Duerod.

Duerod said Tuesday the Army Corps is hoping Congress will continue to fund the new lock in coming years with allocations from the regular federal budget.

Army Corps officials also say the $17 million to be spent on the cofferdams this summer will not be wasted if the new lock is never built; the dams will serve to stabilize the area around an existing decommissioned lock that was built early in the last century.

Lock supporters said Tuesday they are still confident the federal government will come around with the funding in the coming years.  "The Soo Lock project will move forward," Stupak said in a news release. The Corps of Engineers decision will in no way delay the work … " set to begin this year, and their decision is not final."

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel


Corps allocates 2 Percent of its stimulus funds to Great Lakes

4/30 - Toledo, Ohio – The Great Lakes came up short when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers decided how to divvy up the $4.6 billion Congress gave it for job creation and infrastructure improvements under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The Corps allocated only 2 percent of its stimulus dollars to the Great Lakes, leaving navigation and environmental projects in America’s heartland high and dry.

The eight Great Lakes states received $94 million for Lakes projects out of the $4.6 billion Congress gave the Corps, this despite the fact cargo movement can top 200 million tons a year and supports hundreds of thousands of family-sustaining jobs.

The lower-than-expected funding from the Administration came despite strong support for Great Lakes programs from the Great Lakes Congressional delegation.

“Can it be possible the Corps operates in such a vacuum?,” said Donald Cree, President of Great Lakes Maritime Task Force (“GLMTF”), the largest coalition promoting waterborne commerce on the Lakes. “America’s foundational industries depend on the Great Lakes and Great Lakes shipping. By the Corps own analysis, lakes shipping saves its customers $3.6 billion a year in transportation costs. Yet the Corps all but zeroed out the Great Lakes and Great Lakes shipping. Imagine the savings that could be quickly achieved if the Corps had given us our fair share.

“Virtually every port needs dredging. Lack of a second Poe-sized lock at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, threatens to crash the system at any moment. It’s hard not to say the Corps has abdicated its responsibility to the transportation system, the region, and the nation. $94 million or 2 percent of the Corps stimulus spending isn’t even enough to end the dredging crisis that is strangling the system,” continued Cree, who is also National Vice President – Great Lakes, for American Maritime Officers. “The Corps estimates removing the backlog of sediment – 17 million cubic yards – will cost more than $200 million.”

“The Corps decision defies logic,” added James H.I. Weakley, president of Lake Carriers’ Association. “The Great Lakes basin is home to 80 percent of the nation’s steelmaking capacity, 70 percent of its auto plants, and 55 percent of all heavy manufacturing, yet we get 2 percent of the Corps stimulus dollars. The area is hurting. Only 8 of the 36 blast furnaces are making steel. Auto plants are closing. Congress approved the stimulus package to create jobs, but someone at the Corps decided to ignore the industrial heartland.”

Ohio got $12 million for its Lakes ports, even though they ship and receive 55 million tons in a typical year.Minnesota’s Mesabi Range is the iron ore capital of the country, but that state received none of the stimulus funds the Corps allocated for the Lakes. New York received $3.9 million.Chicago is the third largest city in the country, but its harbor received only $17.6 million. Wisconsin’s share was less than $11 million. Pennsylvania was zeroed out.

“To call this a poor return on investment is being charitable,” said John D. Baker, 2nd Vice President of GLMTF, and President Emeritus of the ILA’s Great Lakes District Council. “Every worker and every company in the Great Lakes basin helped fund the stimulus package with their tax dollars, yet what do they have to show for it? The Great Lakes and Great Lakes shipping have been ignored.”

The complete list of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Projects funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act can be found at this link

Great Lakes Maritime Task Force


Port Reports - April 30

Marquette, Mich. – Rod Burdick
John G. Munson unloaded coal into the Upper Harbor hopper on Wednesday. She was expected to depart in the evening for Western Lake Superior.

Saginaw, Mich. - Todd Shorkey
The Olive L. Moore - Lewis J. Kuber arrived out in the Saginaw Bay early Tuesday morning and went to anchor out near Gravelly Shoal. As of late Wednesday night, the pair remained anchored out in the bay. It is not known why the Moore and Kuber have remained at anchor out in the Saginaw Bay.


Lake St. Clair and River Cruise and BoatNerd Gathering

On Sunday, May 24, an all day cruise leaving from the Stroh Place Dock, at the foot of Jos. Campeau Street just north of downtown Detroit, and traveling above the Blue Water Bridges, to Fort Gratiot Light and return aboard the Diamond Belle. This 120 mile cruise following the shipping channel is co-sponsored by the Marine Historical Society of Detroit and

The trip includes a continental breakfast and deli lunch on board, and a buffet dinner at the historic St. Clair Inn. This is a great opportunity to see all the sights and ships along the waterway between Detroit and Port Huron.

Tickets are $90.00 per person and reservations are required. Click here for details and a reservation form. Space is limited. Don't be left out. Print out and return the reservation form with your check today.


Updates - April 30

News Photo Gallery

Public Gallery updated


Today in Great Lakes History - April 30

30 April 1894 - The TRUANT (wooden propeller tug, 73 foot, 28 gross tons, built in 1889 at Toronto, Ontario) burned to a total loss near Burnt Island in Georgian Bay. The fire started under her ash pan.

On 30 April 1890, the wooden dredge MUNSON and two scow barges were being towed from Kingston, Ontario by the tug EMMA MUNSON to work on the new Bay of Quinte bridge at Rossmore, Ontario, 6 miles west of Kingston when the dredge started listing then suddenly tipped over and sank. No lives were lost.

The IRVIN L CLYMER returned to service April 30, 1988, after a two season lay-up.

HOWARD HINDMAN of 1910, grounded heavily when her steering cable parted at Little Rapids Cut in the St. Marys River, April 30, 1969. Due to the extensive damage, she was sold in May of that year to Marine Salvage Ltd., Port Colborne, Ontario for scrap and was scrapped at Bilbao, Spain in 1969.

The RED WING tow arrived at Kaohsiung, Taiwan on April 30, 1987, for dismantling

On 30 April 1842, the side-wheeler COMMODORE BARRIE collided with the schooner CANADA about 10 miles off Long Point in Lake Ontario. The COMMODORE BARRIE became disabled and then sank about an hour and a half later. Her passengers and crew were rescued by the CANADA.

On 30 April 1878, ST LAWRENCE (2-mast wooden schooner, 93 foot, 111 tons, built in 1842, at Clayton, New York) was carrying timber when she caught fire from the boiling over of a pot of pitch which was being melted on the galley stove. The vessel was well out on Lake Michigan off Milwaukee. The fire spread so rapidly that the crew had no time to haul in canvas, so when they abandoned her, she was sailing at full speed. The lifeboat capsized as soon as it hit the water, drowning the captain and a passenger. The ST LAWRENCE sailed off ablaze and was seen no more. The rest of the crew was later rescued by the schooner GRANADA.

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


More layoffs expected at Minntac

4/29 - Duluth, Minn. – Another 250 workers at the U.S. Steel Minntac taconite plant in Mountain Iron are expected to lose their jobs, possibly as early as this week, Steelworkers union officials revealed Monday.

Local union officials got the news Friday from the company.

“We were told this decision is a result of a lack of demand for pellets and also partially due to the reduced blast furnace capacity at Gary Works,’’ Mike Woods, Steelworkers Local 1938 president, said in a letter to members posted Monday on the union’s Web site. “We hope to know more on Tuesday afternoon as to exactly how many will be laid off at the end of the week and in what areas.”

The company announced in February that it would lay off 590 hourly and management workers, nearly half Minntac’s 1,280-person work force. About 380 people have lost their jobs since March but it was hoped others might be spared. Now, another round of 250 would put the total at more than 600 layoffs.

Courtney Boone, spokeswoman for U.S. Steel, said she couldn’t comment on specific numbers of new layoffs at Minntac. “We continue to adjust our operations to meet the demands of our customers during the changing market conditions, and those adjustments do include employment levels,’’ Boone said Monday night.

It’s not clear how long the layoffs will last. The taconite and domestic steel industries have been hit hard over the past six months by the global economic recession. All of the state’s six operational taconite companies have announced some sort of layoffs or extended seasonal shutdowns.

Duluth News Tribune


House approves new icebreaker for Great Lakes

4/29 - Washington, D.C. – The U.S. House of Representatives on Monday night unanimously passed H.R. 1747, the Great Lakes Icebreaker Replacement Act, a measure that approves funding for a new icebreaker on the Great Lakes.

U.S. Rep. Candice Miller applauded passage of the legislation, and hailed the bill’s passage as a victory for southeast Michigan.  “Over a billion dollars worth of commerce takes place on the Great Lakes and we simply cannot afford to have business shut down because ice-breakers are spread too thinly. This measure is good news for the flow of commerce in the Great Lakes Basin, Miller said.

The bill must go to the Senate next.

Port Huron Times Herald


Port Reports - April 29

Twin Port – Al Miller
Paul R. Tregurtha was loading Tuesday morning at Midwest Energy Terminal and departed about midday. John G. Munson was expected to follow it into the dock to load coal for Marquette. On Tuesday morning, Edgar B. Speer was still docked at Hallett Dock 5, no word on the reason.

Goderich, Ont. - Dale Baechler
Algowood departed Tuesday morning with a load of salt, heading north. Agawa Canyon was next in, making her approach with a stiff northwest wind blowing. She dropped her anchor in the channel to slow up, then turned in the inner harbor.The Canyon also went to the Sifto Salt dock.

Kingsville, Ont. – Erich Zuschlag
The barge Pere Marquette 41 and tug Undaunted unloaded stone from Marblehead, Ohio, in Kingsville on Tuesday. The Pelee Islander was also in the harbor on her daily visits.

Toronto, Ont. - Charlie Gibbons
English River was in port on Sunday, departing at 7 p.m. Monday for Bath.


Duluth maritime museum hosts Seaway opening event

4/29 - Superior, Wisc. – The Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center in Duluth, operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, will be hosting a special living history event in Canal Park on Sunday.

The event will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the opening of the modern St. Lawrence Seaway to the Twin Ports, and the arrival of the first ocean vessel the British flagged Ramon de Larrinaga. Its arrival at 1:18 p.m. in 1959 was witnessed by over 3,500 people, making it one of the major historical events of Canal Park.

The May 3 event will include a ceremonial lifting of the Aerial Lift Bridge for the arrival of the 86-foot tug Edward H. carrying the banner “Ramon de Larrinaga,” accompanied by the excursion boat Vista King at 1 p.m.

The museum will also be showing a special film on the St. Lawrence Seaway throughout the day at 11 a.m., noon, 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. in the lecture-hall. The Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center is free and open from Sunday-Thursday 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; and Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. There is never an admission charge to the Visitor Center or any of its programs.

Superior Telegram


Updates - April 29

News Photo Gallery

Public Gallery updated


Today in Great Lakes History - April 29

29 April 1896 - The W LE BARON JENNEY (steel tow barge, 366 foot, 3422 gross tons) was launched by F. W. Wheeler & Company (Hull #120) at West Bay City, Michigan for the Bessemer Steamship Company of Cleveland, Ohio. She went through eight owners during her career, ending with the Goderich Elevator and Transit Company, Ltd. who used her as a grain storage barge. She was scrapped in Thunder Bay, Ontario in 1974.

On 29 April 1875, the wooden schooner CLARA BELL of Sandusky was wrecked in a gale off Leamington, Ontario. Captain William Robinson was drowned.

On April 29, 1975, American Steamship’s SAM LAUD entered service.

Launched this date in 1976, was the a.) SOODOC (Hull#210) by Collingwood Shipyards Ltd. Renamed b.) AMELIA DESGAGNES in 1990.

On April 29, 1977, while inbound at Lorain, the IRVING S OLDS hit a bridge on the Black River which extensively damaged her bow, tying up traffic for several hours

A fender boom fell on the pilot house of the steamer GEORGE M HUMPHREY in the Poe Lock at the Soo in 1971.

On 29 April 1865, L D COWAN (wooden schooner, 165 tons, built in 1848, at Erie, Pennsylvania) was driven ashore near Pointe aux Barques, Michigan in a storm and wrecked.

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


Port Reports - April 28

Twin Ports – Al Miller
Lee A. Tregurtha was loading coal Monday morning at Midwest Energy Terminal while James R. Barker fueled at the Murphy Oil terminal before taking its place at the coal loader. At the same time, the saltie Iryda was motoring under the Blatnik Bridge en route to the CHS grain terminal to load. Also due in Monday were Federal Polaris to load taconite pellets at BNSF, Edgar B. Speer to load taconite pellets at CN ore dock and John G. Munson to load coal at Midwest Energy Terminal

Sault Ste. Marie – Jerry Masson
Canadian Coast Guard Ship Samuel Risley was at the Canadian Soo Monday, USCG Alder was working aids to navigation in the upper river, USCG Katmai Bay arrived back at the Soo over the weekend from the Straits, Drummond Islander IV was upbound in the river to the MCM Marine dock and Mississagi was loading at Bruce Mines. Included in Monday’s traffic were John D. Leitch, Walter J. McCarthy Jr., Cason J. Callaway, Ojibway and Kathryn Spirit. Two Coast Guard boats were finally heading for home after being away for weeks during Operation Taconite. Risley was downbound Monday night in the North Channel while Alder departed the Soo upbound into Lake Superior for Duluth.

Sturgeon Bay, Wisc. – Glen Jackson
Mesabi Miner arrived Monday morning and backed into Bay Shipbuilding to enter lay-up. Weak demand in steel manufacturing along with the failure of a blast furnace last week is expected to cause a number of vessels to enter lay-up only a month after they started the season.

Alpena - Ben & Chanda McClain
Before noon on Monday, Manitowoc arrived in the Thunder Bay River with a load of coal for the DPI Plant. Around 5 p.m., Manitowoc finished unloading and backed out of the river and into the bay.

The tug Olive L. Moore and barge Lewis J. Kuber and Calumet loaded at the Stoneport dock on Monday.


Water levels see gains on Lake Michigan

4/28 - Lake Michigan is on the rebound after flirting with near-record low water levels in 2008. Sixteen months and two cold and wet winters later, the lake has added more than 2 feet of water, and it continues to rise almost daily. Numbers provided by the Army Corps of Engineers last week showed the lake is about 9 inches higher than at this time last year, and the agency is predicting it to continue to add inches into late summer.

Despite the big gain, Lake Michigan remains about 9 inches below its long-term average for April. The news is bringing sighs of relief up and down Wisconsin's east coast, because low water means more than just shrinking numbers on a chart. It can render docks useless, create hull-cracking hazards for recreational boaters, force freighters to lop their cargo loads and stick marina operators with steep dredging bills.

Lake Michigan's official water level has been in steady flux ever since record keepers planted their first gauges in the lake in the 1800s. It typically fluctuates about a foot during any given year, peaking in late summer. In addition to seasonal dips and rises, the lake level has historically swung by as much as 6 feet over periods of decades because of long-term weather patterns.

People who live along its shoreline or spend a lot of time on the water have learned to live with the natural fluctuations. But after hitting near-record highs in the late 1990s, levels dropped dramatically and have remained well below their long-term average for the last decade or so - an unusually long period.

In January of last year, water experts said if the lake continued to drop over the winter - as it normally does - it appeared headed toward record-low territory. Then during the nasty winter of 2008, Lake Michigan actually started to climb during the winter months, and the rebound has been picking up steam since.

"Usually in March or early April we start our rise, and it rises into late July before we start our decline. In 2008 we had the rise start in January and it went right through July," said Keith Kompoltowicz, an Army Corps meteorologist in Detroit. "And so far in '09 we've seen quite similar conditions."

Kompoltowicz said the Army Corps is predicting the lake will continue to rise through midsummer, and it should remain around 9 inches above last year's levels throughout the summer.

Cargo depends on levels

It is hard to overstate the importance of normal water levels for the Great Lakes shipping industry. For every inch the Great Lakes lose, a 1,000-foot freighter has to shed 270 tons of cargo, according to Glen Nekvasil of the Lake Carriers Association. That means a "laker" can carry about 5 million more pounds of cargo this year compared with last.

Lake levels have been a hot political topic in recent years due to the low water and a group of Canadian property owners who claim an Army Corps dredging project is a big part of the problem.

In 2005, the Georgian Bay Association released a report contending that the Army Corps essentially opened a drain hole on Lakes Michigan and Huron in the early 1960s when it dredged the St. Clair River to allow oceangoing freighters access to the upper Great Lakes.

Dredging's effects

Everyone agrees that the 1960s dredging, combined with early dredging and riverbed mining on the St. Clair River, resulted in a permanent loss of about 16 inches in the long-term average of Lakes Michigan and Huron, which are actually one body of water connected at the Straits of Mackinac. The reason: The St. Clair is the major outflow for the two lakes, and dredging led to more water flowing down the river and into Lake Erie.

The Georgian Bay study, however, claimed that the 1960s dredging removed the rocky riverbed down to erosion-prone clay and sand, and the river has been carving a deeper channel ever since.

The study pointed to the relative difference in lake levels between Lake Erie and Lakes Michigan and Huron as evidence of the water loss. Although both Erie as well as Lakes Michigan and Huron fluctuate, the relative difference between the two basins has historically remained constant. If, for example, Lakes Michigan and Huron dropped 8 inches, Lake Erie would as well. That has not been happening.

Politicians have been demanding answers from the International Joint Commission, a binational board charged with handling Canadian and U.S. boundary waters issues. The IJC commissioned a study to get to the bottom of the question, and a draft of that study is scheduled to be released May 1.

IJC officials are mum about the details of the study results, but they have previously said other forces could be at play, including a change in the relative amounts of precipitation over both basins; Lake Erie might simply be getting more rain and snow than the lakes above it.

That is likely going to be at least part of the study's findings.

"Climate is, not surprisingly, a big and increasing factor in the change in relative water levels," said the IJC's John Nevin.

Regardless of the study results, three separate times in the last century the federal government authorized the installation of some sort of flow-slowing structure on the St. Clair River to compensate for the acknowledged 16-inch loss to Lakes Michigan and Huron, but the work was never done.

Pressure is mounting for the Army Corps to finally do the job, given that some studies evaluating the effects of climate change on the Great Lakes in the coming decades predict their long-term averages will drop by as much as 3 to 6 feet, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, though not everyone agrees that a warmer climate will mean lower lake levels.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel


Updates - April 28

Weekly Website Updates

News Photo Gallery ( we are behind on the updates, please check back tomorrow)

Public Gallery updated Ryerson salute in the Video/Audio Album


Today in Great Lakes History - April 28

28 April 1856 - The TONAWANDA (wooden propeller passenger-package freight steamer, 202 foot, 882 gross tons) was launched by Buell B. Jones at Buffalo, New York.

On 28 April 1891, the whaleback barge 110 (steel barge, 265 foot, 1,296 gross tons) was launched by the American Steel Barge Co. in W. Superior, Wisconsin. In 1907, she went to the Atlantic Coast and lasted until she suffered an explosion, then sank after burning, near the dock of Cities Service Export Oil Co., at St. Rose, Louisiana, on March 3, 1932.

The 660 ft. forward section of Bethlehem Steel's a.) LEWIS WILSON FOY (Hull#717) was launched April 28,1977, at Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. Renamed b.) OGLEBAY NORTON in 1991 and c.) AMERICAN INTEGRITY in 2006.

Nipigon Transport Ltd.'s straight deck motorship a.) LAKE WABUSH (Hull#223) by Collingwood Shipyards Ltd., was christened and launched April 28, 1981. Renamed b.) CAPT HENRY JACKMAN in 1987, and converted to a self-unloader in 1996.

On April 28, 1971, while up bound from Sorel, Quebec, for Muskegon, Michigan, with a load of pig iron, LACHINEDOC struck Rock Shoal off Little Round Island in the St. Lawrence River and was beached.

On April 28, 1906, Pittsburgh Steamship Co.'s J. PIERPONT MORGAN (Hull#68) by Chicago Ship Building Co., was launched. Renamed b.) HERON BAY in 1966.

April 28, 1897 - The F&PM (Flint & Pere Marquette) Steamer NO 1, bound from Milwaukee for Chicago, ran ashore just north of Evanston. She released herself after a few hours.

The barge LITTLE JAKE was launched on 28 April 1875, at East Saginaw, Michigan. She was owned by William R. Burt & Co. Her dimensions were 132 feet x 29 feet x 9 feet.

On 28 April 1877, the steam barge C S BALDWIN went ashore on the reef at North Point on Lake Huron during a blinding snow storm. The barge was heavily loaded with iron ore and sank in a short time. The crew was saved by the Lifesaving Service from Thunder Bay Station and by the efforts of the small tug FARRAR.

Data from: Max Hanley, Joe Barr, Dave Swayze, Father Dowling Collection, Ahoy & Farewell II, the Historical Collections of the Great Lakes, Bowling Green State University and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series.


Port Reports - April 27

Sturgeon Bay, Wisc. – Glen Jackson
Mesabi Miner is expected to arrive at Bay Shipbuilding sometime on Monday to enter lay-up. Weak demand in steel manufacturing along with the failure of a blast furnace last week is expected to cause a number of vessels to enter lay-up only a month after they started the season.

Marquette, Mich. – Rod Burdick
Robert S. Pierson arrived and loaded ore Saturday afternoon at the Upper Harbor. She was the first Lower Lakes Towing vessel of the new season in Marquette.

Saginaw, Mich - Stephen Hause, Todd Shorkey and Galen Witham
A strong current and stormy weather caused delays over the weekend for two vessels on the Saginaw River. Agawa Canyon, which delivered a load of salt to the Sargent dock in Zilwaukee on Thursday, had to wait until Saturday evening before it could finally depart the river.

The vessel had remained tied up near the Sixth Street turning basin throughout the day Friday, waiting for a strong current in the upper river to subside. The Canyon finally completed its turn on Saturday morning. It appeared to have exercised the maneuver by backing the stern into the basin. The tug Gregory J. Busch, which was standing by to assist Olive L. Moore and barge Lewis J. Kuber in turning, offered assistance to the Canyon, but the Canadian ship was able to turn on its own.

The Moore-Kuber had been waiting at the Wirt Stone Dock after delivering a split load overnight to the Wirt docks in Bay City and Saginaw. Once the Canyon was clear, the tug-barge combination went up the river at about noon Saturday to turn with the assistance of the Busch.

Both vessels were unable to leave the river immediately, however, due to stormy weather on Saturday afternoon. The Agawa Canyon got as far as Bay City and tied up at the old Bay Aggregates dock downtown. The Moore-Kuber waited back at the Wirt dock in Saginaw during the afternoon, getting underway again after 5 p.m. The Agawa Canyon followed the other vessel out of the river later on Saturday evening.

Detroit, Mich. - Adrian Platts
Prior to the sun breaking through the fog at about 9:45 a.m. Sunday morning, the river Detroit was in thick fog. As three freighters made their way through the fog, many small boats also were fishing on the river and the USCG Bristol Bay was also trying to move down river towards Hart Plaza. All in all a lot of foghorns.

Toledo, Ohio – Jim Hoffman
Cuyahoga finished unloading grain at the Kraft Foods Elevator (the former Nabisco plant) and departed early Sunday morning. The next scheduled coal boat due into the CSX Docks will be Canadian Enterprise on Saturday. The next scheduled ore boat due into the Torco Ore Dock will be Rt. Hon. Paul J. Martin on Monday May 4. the next scheduled stone boat due into the Midwest Terminal Stone Dock will be Capt. Henry Jackman on Thursday.

Buffalo, NY – Brian W.
Herbert C Jackson arrived at 7 p.m. Sunday evening for the ADM Standard Elevator. She tied up at the dock around 8:30 p.m. after a tow upriver by the tug Washington. She will be unloading all night and should depart some time around 1 p.m. Monday.


Coast Guard assists person in the water near Lorain

4/27 - Lorain, Ohio – The Coast Guard assisted a man found clinging to his 18-foot sailboat Sunday at approximately 1 p.m., near the break-wall.

Coast Guard Station Lorain launched a 41-foot utility boat to assist the sailor. Once on scene, the Coast Guard crew recovered him and took him back to shore.

A good Samaritan on board the pleasure craft Sea Bass initially spotted the boater in the water, and stayed with him until the Coast Guard arrived on scene.



Updates - April 27

Weekly Website Updates

News Photo Gallery

Public Gallery updated Ryerson salute in the Video/Audio Album


Today in Great Lakes History - April 27

27 April 1889 - ROMEO (wooden propeller excursion steamer, 70 foot, 61 gross tons) was launched by F. W. Wheeler (Hull #51) at West Bay City, Michigan, for service on the Òinland route (Oden, Michigan to Cheboygan, Michigan & Bois Blanc Island) along with her sister JULIET (wooden propeller excursion steamer, 70 foot, 61 gross tons), launched the following day. The vessels had twin screws for maneuverability along the northern rivers. ROMEO lasted until 1911, when she was abandoned at Port Arthur, Texas. JULIET was converted to a 'steam yacht' and registered at Chicago. She was abandoned in 1912.

The H.A. HAWGOOD (4-mast wooden schooner, 233 feet) was launched at 2:00 p.m. on 27 April 1886, at F.W. Wheeler's shipyard in W. Bay City, Michigan.

On April 27, 1993, the WOLVERINE ran aground on Surveyors Reef near Port Dolomite near Cedarville, Michigan, and damaged her hull.

The ASHCROFT, up bound on Lake Erie in fog, collided with Interlake's steamer JAMES H. REED on April 27, 1944. The REED, fully loaded with ore, quickly sank off Port Burwell, Ontario, with a loss of twelve lives. The ASHCROFT suffered extensive bow damage below the water line and was taken to Ashtabula, Ohio, for repairs.

On April 27, 1973, the bow section of the SIDNEY E. SMITH JR was towed to Sarnia by the Malcolm tugs TABOGA and BARBARA ANN. The two sections of the hull were scuttled and land-filled to form a dock facing.

Shenango Furnace's straight deck steamer WILLIAM P. SNYDER JR left Ecorse, Michigan, in ballast on her maiden voyage April 27, 1912, for Duluth, Minnesota, to load iron ore.

On April 27, 1978, the TROISDOC was down bound with corn for Cardinal, Ontario, when she hit the upper end of the tie-up wall above Lock 2, in the Welland Ship Canal.

On April 27, 1980, after loading pellets in Duluth, the ENDERS M. VOORHEES stopped at the Seaway Dock to load a large wooden stairway (three sections) on deck which was taken to the AmShip yard at Lorain. It was used for an open house on the newly built EDWIN H. GOTT in 1979.

On April 27, 1953, the steamer RESERVE entered service.

On April 27, 1984, the CHARLES M. BEEGHLY struck the breakwall while departing Superior, Wisconsin on her first trip since the 1981, season. The vessel returned to Fraser Shipyards in Superior for repairs.

On 27 April 1876, the Port Huron Times reported, "The steam barge MARY MILLS arrived up this morning and looks 'flaming'. Her owner said he did not care what color she was painted so long as it was bright red, and she has therefore come out in that color."

On 27 April 1877, the 40 foot 2-mast wooden schooner VELOCIPEDE left Racine, Wisconsin, for Muskegon, Michigan, in fair weather, but a severe squall blew in and it developed into a big storm. The little schooner was found capsized and broken in two off Kenosha, Wisconsin, with her crew of 2 or 3 lost.

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


Port Reports - April 26

Owen Sound - Jonathan Coote
Saginaw returned to the Great Lakes Elevator arriving to load grain at 8 a.m. Saturday.

Toronto - Charlie Gibbons
Canadian Miner was turned Thursday morning by the tugs Waytt M. and Omni Richelieu. Saturday morning the Miner will shift into the long-term lat up berth at the Turning Basin's section 422. Algobay was the last vessel to occupy this berth.


Updates - April 26

News Photo Gallery

Public Gallery updated Ryerson salute in the Video/Audio Album


Today in Great Lakes History - April 26

26 April 1891 The NORWALK (wooden propeller bulk freighter, 209 foot, 1007 gross tons) was launched by William DuLac at Mount Clemens, Michigan. At first, she was not able to get down the Clinton River to Lake St. Clair due to low water. She lasted until 1916, when she was sold to Nicaraguan buyers and was lost in the Caribbean Sea that Autumn.

On 26 April 1859, the wooden schooner A SCOTT was carrying limestone blocks for a large Presbyterian church being built at Vermilion, Ohio. The vessel was driven ashore near Vermilion by a gale and was quickly pounded to pieces. Her insurance had expired about ten days earlier. No lives were lost.

Algoma's new straight deck bulk freighter ALGOWEST (Hull#226) of Collingwood Shipyards Ltd., was launched April 26, 1982. She was converted to a self-unloader in 1998, and renamed b.) PETER R CRESSWELL in 2001.

Sea trials were conducted April 26, 1984, on Lake Ontario for the CANADIAN RANGER.

An unfortunate incident happened on the SEWELL AVERY as four crew members were injured, one critically, when a lifeboat winch housing exploded shortly after a lifeboat drill in 1978.

Paterson's CANADOC (Hull#627) by Davie Shipbuilding Co. Ltd., was launched April 26, 1961.

The BENSON FORD (Hull#245) of the Great Lakes Engineering Works was launched in 1924.

In 1982, carferry service from Frankfort, Michigan ended forever when railroad service to that port was discontinued and the remaining boats (ARTHUR K ATKINSON, VIKING, and CITY OF MILWAUKEE) were laid up. CITY OF MILWAUKEE is preserved as a museum ship by the Society for the Preservation of the CITY OF MILWAUKEE.

On 26 April 1902, M P BARKLOW (wooden schooner, 104 foot, 122 gross tons, built in 1871, at Perry, Ohio), loaded with salt, was anchored off South Bass Island in Lake Erie to ride out a gale. Nevertheless she foundered and four lives were lost, the skipper, his wife, their son and one crewman.

On 26 April 1926, THOMAS GAWN (2-mast wooden schooner-barge, 171 foot, 550 gross tons, built in 1872, at Lorain, Ohio as a 3-mast schooner) sprang a leak and sank at River Rouge, Michigan in the Detroit River. The wreck was removed the following month and abandoned. She had a 54 year career.

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


Port Reports - April 25

Goderich, Ont. - Dale Baechler
Algoway entered port early Friday and was under the Sifto Salt spout at 7 a.m.

Saginaw, Mich. – Todd Shorkey Robert S. Pierson was inbound the Saginaw River early Friday morning, calling on the Bay Aggregates dock in Bay City. She was expected outbound later in the morning. Agawa Canyon remains just below the Sixth Street Turning basin. Strong currents in the river may be the reason she hasn't made the turn and headed for the lake.

Port Huron, Mich. - Ed Schuyler
Edward L. Ryerson was downbound about 10:15 Friday morning under the Blue Water Bridges, heading to Hamilton Ont. She should arrive at Hamilton Saturday night or early Sunday morning.

Toledo, Ohio – Jim Hoffman
Calumet finished loading coal at the CSX Docks and departed Friday morning. The next scheduled coal boat due into the CSX Docks will be Canadian Enterprise on Friday, May 1. The next scheduled ore boat due into the Torco Ore Dock will be Rt. Hon. Paul J. Martin on Monday, May 4. The following vessels remain in layup at Toledo: American Fortitude, American Valor, American Courage, John J. Boland and American Republic. American Mariner was inbound Maumee Bay Friday evening bound for the Torco Ore Dock to unload ore.

Buffalo, N.Y. – Brian W.
Adam E. Cornelius was at the General Mills Frontier Elevator Friday morning with the first grain cargo of the year; she will likely be in port overnight and leave on the 25th. The Herbert C. Jackson was loading at the Cennex Harvest States Elevator in Duluth, likely with her first of many grain cargos for Buffalo.


WWII-era plane pulled from Lake Michigan

4/25 Waukegan, Ill. – A WWII aircraft was brought to the surface Friday after 60 years at the bottom of Lake Michigan. The SBD Dauntless dive bomber was lost during training exercises over the lake during World War II was pulled out in Waukegan. Pilots of such planes played a critical role in helping American forces win the Battle of Midway.

Inch by inch a piece of history emerged from a 60-year slumber in Lake Michigan, and veterans Chuck Downey and Grant Young didn't want to miss this moment. As the SBD Dauntless dive bomber shrugged off its watery confines, memories came rushing back. "One of the pet names was 'Stable Mable' for that airplane," Young, a retired Navy captain, said.

It's a flattering nickname for a plane that deposited Young - and countless other young aviators - in the lake all those years ago. "I actually stalled the airplane so when it quit flying, it fell straight down. Bam!" Young said.

More than 17,000 pilots completed their aircraft carrier qualification training on Lake Michigan in the 1940s. Today, it's estimated 60 or so of their planes still remain at the bottom of the lake. That's where divers from A&T Recovery found this one: 27 miles out from Waukegan and 315 feet down.

When they pulled it up today, zebra mussels coated some surfaces but the plane was remarkably in tact. The propeller is a bit bent, but both wings are still attached, and the U.S. Navy markings have only lost a bit of their color.

The man running the salvage operation says he does it so younger generations will learn about the greatest generation. "I'll ask 'em who fought in WWII? They'll say some guy named Hitler. They don't have any clue that it was about protecting their freedoms and the world's freedoms forever, that's the pay-off," Taras Lyssenko, of A&T Recovery, said.

For those who remember planes like this one filling the skies as Americans fought in a world war, Friday's rescue of a Dauntless is a reminder of the simple thoughts that carried them through their training and combat missions. "My wedding invitations had been mailed out. I couldn't mess up there!" Young said. "He had other important things to do!" Downey added.

The plane is going to be taken to New Orleans for restoration before being put on display at the National World War II Museum. A similar aircraft, also pulled from Lake Michigan, hangs in the passenger terminal at Midway Airport.



Updates - April 25

News Photo Gallery

Public Gallery updated Ryerson salute in the Video/Audio Album


Today in Great Lakes History - April 25

25 April 1890 - The Collins Bay Rafting Company’s tug ALANSON SUMNER (wooden propeller tug, 127 foot, 300 gross tons, built in 1872, at Oswego, New York) burned at Kingston, Ontario. She had $25,000 worth of wrecking machinery onboard. The SUMNER was repaired and put back in service.

On 25 April 1888, JESSIE MAGGIE (wooden schooner, 63 foot, 49 gross tons) was re-registered as a 2-masted schooner. She was built on a farm in Kilmanagh, Michigan, in 1887, as a 3-masted schooner and she was launched near Sebewaing, Michigan. It took 16 spans of oxen to haul her over frozen ground to the launch site. She lasted until 1904.

Interlake Steamship’s WILLIAM J. DE LANCEY (Hull#909) of American Ship Building Co., was christened April 25, 1981. Renamed b.) PAUL R. TREGURTHA in 1990.

On April 25, 1973, the self-unloading boom on Canada Steamship Lines a.) TADOUSSAC of 1969, collapsed while she was at Sandusky, Ohio. She sails today as b.) CSL TADOUSSAC.

In 1925, the ANN ARBOR 4 was back in service after running aground on February 13th off Kewaunee, Wisconsin.

In 1973, it was announced that the CITY OF SAGINAW 31, would be scrapped after a fire which destroyed her cabin deck in 1971.

Hall Corp. of Canada's bulk canaller a.) ROCKCLIFFE HALL (Hull#615) by Davie Shipbuilding & Repair Ltd., was launched April 25, 1958. Converted to a tanker in 1972, renamed b.) ISLAND TRANSPORT, and c.) ENERCHEM LAKER in 1987.

Pittsburgh Steamship Co.'s BENJAMIN F. FAIRLESS (Hull#824) by American Ship Building Co., was launched April 25, 1942.

Mutual Steamship Co.'s WILLIAM LIVINGSTONE (Hull#41) by Great Lakes Engineering Works, was launched April 25, 1908. Renamed b.) S B WAY in 1936 and c.) CRISPIN OGLEBAY in 1948. She was scrapped at Santander, Spain in 1974.

The PERCIVAL ROBERTS JR sailed light on her maiden voyage April 25, 1913, from Lorain to load ore at Two Harbors, Minnesota.

On April 25, 1954, CSL's, T.R. MC LAGAN entered service. At 714 feet 6 inches, she took the title for longest vessel on the Great Lakes from the JOSEPH H. THOMPSON, beating the THOMPSON by three inches. The THOMPSON had held the honor since November 4, 1952. She was renamed b.) OAKGLEN in 1990, and was scrapped at Alang, India in 2004.

Whaleback a.) FRANK ROCKEFELLER (Hull#136) by the American Steel Barge Co., was launched in 1896, for the American Steel barge Co., Pickands, Mather & Co., mgr. Converted to a sand dredge and renamed b.) SOUTH PARK in 1927, and converted to a tanker and renamed c.) METEOR in 1945.

On April 25, 1949, CSL's, GRAINMOTOR collided with the abutment of the railroad bridge above Lock 2 of the Lachine Canal.

The wooden schooner OTTAWA was launched on 25 April 1874, at Grand Haven, Michigan. She was owned by Capt. William R. Loutill and could carry 180,000 feet of lumber.

T S CHRISTIE (wooden propeller, 160 foot, 533 gross tons) was launched at F. W. Wheeler's yard (Hull #22) in W. Bay City, Michigan, on 25 April 1885. She was built for the Bay City & Cleveland Transportation Company at a cost of $45,000. Originally built as a double-deck vessel, she was cut down to a single decker at Chicago in 1902.

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


Group calls for saltie maintenance records

4/24 – A Canadian federal agency is recommending new measures to force shipping vessels to keep up-to-date maintenance records as a result of an incident that took place in the Montreal area in the spring of 2007.

Two years ago this month, a chemical-products tanker, Sichem Aneline was carrying a load of toxic and flammable benzene when it got stuck in the St. Lawrence River near the eastern tip of Montreal island. Emergency crews dislodged the ship, and nothing leaked from it.

However, the incident represented a potentially serious safety risk, so the federal Transportation Safety Board launched an investigation. The board's report on that probe was released Thursday morning.

All ships on the St. Lawrence outside of the Seaway system must follow certain dredged channels to avoid getting lodged in the river bed. The federal board found in its investigation that that an electrical anomaly in Sichen Aneline's steering-gear control system likely provoked a rudder malfunction that caused the vessel to veer out of its channel course.

But the board pointed out another thing in its report. It said it couldn’t get access to continuous lifetime maintenance records from the foreign ship to verify its maintenance history. The board said this wasn’t the first time that it had had trouble getting access to up-to-date maintenance information from ships. As a result, the board is urging Transport Canada to push the International Maritime Organization for new measures to ensure that maintenance and equipment-failure records remain on board throughout a vessel’s life.

The Montreal Gazette

Click here to view the report on the grounding


Port Reports - April 24

Twin Ports – Al Miller
Herbert C. Jackson was in Superior on Thursday morning to begin loading grain at CHS terminal. Capt. Henry Jackman was loading at Midwest Energy Terminal while Canadian Olympic was anchored out on the lake waiting for its turn at the coal dock.

Green Bay, Wisc. - Scott Best
Thursday evening Catherine Desgagnes arrived with a cargo of pig iron for the Fox River Dock. The USCG Mobile Bay was also in port, loading up buoys to put back in at the mouth of the Fox River and in lower Green Bay. Mobile Bay was tied up near the slip entrance to FRD where Catherine Desgagnes was headed to unload, and after some discussion about wind and the lack of bow thruster on Catherine Desgagnes, the Mobile Bay decided to get underway and hold its position under the I-43 bridge while the Desgagnes got into the slip at FRD before returning to it temporary dock for the night.

Saginaw, Mich. - Todd Shorkey
Last season's most frequent visitor, the tug Olive L. Moore and barge Lewis J Kuber, called on the Saginaw River Wednesday morning. The pair unloaded at the Bay Aggregates dock in Bay City and then departed for the lake later in the evening. Agawa Canyon traveled upriver on Wednesday going to the Sargent dock in Zilwaukee to unload salt. She departed the dock for the Sixth Street turning basin Thursday morning, but as of this report, is still at the turning basin and has not departed. It is not known whether a mechanical problem or some other condition has prevented their departure.

Toronto, Ont. - Charlie Gibbons
Canadian Miner was towed from winter lay-up to Redpath Sugar as expected, on Sunday. On Tuesday, McKeil's Molly M. 1 and Wyatt M. arrived from Hamilton in mid-morning to turn the Miner around and back her into the Redpath slip. CCG Griffon laid the Eastern Gap navigation buoys on Sunday afternoon and departed early Monday morning for the Welland Canal. Tuesday the ferries Ongiara and Maple City conducted crew training exercises, along with the fireboat Wm. Lyon Mackenzie. Wednesday afternoon the idled island airport ferry Windmill Point was moved from Pier 35 into the Port Authority's yard in the Keating Channel. Windmill Point has been retired and will likely not sail again.


Coast Guard ice breaking, by the numbers

4/24 – Sault Ste. Marie, Mich - Coast Guard Sector Sault Ste. Marie concluded Operation Taconite Thursday afternoon.

With ice throughout the Western Great Lakes nearly melted, ice breaking in support of commercial navigation is no longer required. Operation Taconite, the nation’s largest ice breaking operation, began on December 11, 2008 and ended April 23 2009.

During the 134 days of the ice breaking operation, the nine U.S. and Canadian Coast Guard ice breakers assigned to the operation spent more than 3,200 hours in the ice and conducted 209 vessel assists.

Additionally, aircraft from Traverse City, Mich., and Corpus Christi, Texas, flew more than 20 reconnaissance flights, greatly enhancing the mission effectiveness of the cutters working below.

Despite the declining economy, U.S. and Canadian shipping companies reportedly moved nearly 9.5 million tons of iron ore, coal, limestone, road salt and petroleum cargoes during the operational period.



WWII-era bomber to be recovered from lake

4/24 – A World War II bomber that has been sitting at the bottom of Lake Michigan for 60 years will be brought to the surface this week.

The National Naval Aviation Museum, Naval History Heritage Command and the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency expect to receive the Douglas SBD Dauntless dive bomber on Friday at Larsen Marine in Waukegan Harbor, Ill.

The National World War II Museum is sponsoring the recovery and restoration of the plane, officials said.

The salvage work will be done by Chicago-based A&T Recovery. Company president Taras Lyssenko said the plane crashed in Lake Michigan during qualification training in the 1940s, and has been in 315 feet of water since then.

More than 17,00 pilots completed that training, including former President George H. Bush.

The Douglas SBD Dauntless was credited with winning the Battle of Midway and turning the tide of the Pacific Theater in America's favor.

"The recovery of this aircraft and others is the continuation of a program started in the 1990s to recover and preserve Navy aircraft lost in World War II," said Navy Capt. Robert Rasmussen, director of the National Naval Aviation Museum.

Over the years, the effort has recovered more than 30 vintage aircraft, Rasmussen said.

Many of the planes are on display at aviation museums or other public venues across the country, including O'Hare and Midway airports.

Agencies began recovering lost planes in the late 1980s, but the process was on hold for the last 12 years until Navy officials pushed for its resumption.

"This plane is an object that Americans built with American ingenuity that won a war in the face overwhelming odds," Lyssenko said.

Once the plane is extracted and eventually restored, it will be displayed at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans.

Complete restoration is expected to take three years, officials said.

"The only thing high school kids know about World War II is that Hitler was in it," Lyssenko said. "Through these planes, we want them to know more about the history of the war and the freedom we enjoy today."



Updates - April 24

News Photo Gallery

Public Gallery updated Ryerson salute in the Video/Audio Album


Today in Great Lakes History - April 24

24 April 1882 - The ferry HAWKINS (wooden propeller ferry, 73 foot, 86 gross tons, built in 1873, at Au Sable, Michigan) was renamed JAMES BEARD. She had received a thorough overhaul and was put in service between Port Huron, Michigan, and Sarnia, Ontario, on 25 April 1882. She lasted until 1927, when she was abandoned.

On 24 April 1872, the 3-mast wooden schooner JENNIE GRAHAM was sailing up Lake Huron to pick up a load of lumber. She was light and at full sail when a sudden squall caused her to capsize. Two crew members were trapped below decks and died. Captain Duncan Graham was washed away and drowned. The remaining seven crew members clung to the overturned hull for about an hour and then the vessel unexpectedly turned upwards and lay on one side. The crew was then able to cut away a lifeboat and get in it. They were later picked up by the schooner SWEEPSTAKES. The GRAHAM was salvaged and taken to Port Huron for repairs.

ONTADOC sailed from Collingwood, Ontario, on her maiden voyage on April 24, 1975, for Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario to load steel for Duluth, Minnesota. She was renamed b) MELISSA DESGAGNES in 1990.

Pittsburgh Steamship Co.'s D.M. CLEMSON (Hull#716) of the American Ship Building Co., departed Lorain on her maiden voyage April 24, 1917, to load iron ore at Duluth, Minnesota.

The B.F. JONES left Quebec on April 24, 1973, in tandem with her former fleet mate EDWARD S.

KENDRICK towed by the Polish tug KORAL heading for scrapping in Spain. The wooden schooner WELLAND CANAL was launched at Russell Armington's shipyard at St. Catharines, Ontario. She was the first ship built at St. Catharines and the first to navigate the Welland Canal when it opened between St. Catharine's and Lake Ontario on 10 May 1828.

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


Indiana furnace idling, blow-through at USS, deepen ills

4/23 – Slumping demand for steel has ArcelorMittal officials contemplating shutdowns at their East Chicago plant, and U.S. Steel's Gary Works last weekend idled its largest blast furnace after a major equipment failure.

Blast Furnace No. 14 has been idled as Gary Works crews try to patch a 3-foot-wide "blow through" that opened in the unit's hearth Sunday.

"No. 14 probably puts out as much steel as the other three furnaces we've got running right now," said Jerry Littles, president of United Steelworkers Local 1014.

It likely will take months to repair the damage to the furnace, which also was the newest at Gary Works. Two months ago, No. 6 blast furnace was shut down after another blow through, and could take another month to fix, Littles said.

Employees at the Gary Works had largely been spared the layoffs that have afflicted other area mills, as U.S. Steel shifted production from plants across the country to Gary.

"We were still doing well, but we've had a bad case of bad luck on these blast furnaces," said Littles.

At ArcelorMittal's Indiana Harbor West plant, workers are preparing to shut down the No.4 furnace for repair work.

"We are evaluating our options for maintenance and responding to the lack of demand for our products," spokeswoman Katie Patterson said in an e-mail. The company would restart the furnace, or perhaps others, in response to rising demand.

Steel bar operations at Indiana Harbor were idled indefinitely earlier this month, putting about 400 employees out of work.

Gary Post Tribune


Port of Thunder Bay plans $16M project

4/23 – The Port of Thunder Bay is looking toward what could be a very bright future, with plans to move ahead with a major expansion at Keefer Terminal.

Monday night at city council, CEO Tim Heney presented a strategic outlook for the Port Authority. The plans include a $16-million project to transform the terminal, and create a new plant at a former grain elevator site.

The Keefer Terminal was built in the 1960s and was originally designed to handle general cargo. That’s something Port Authority officials say hasn't been transported on the Great Lakes since 1985.

Heney said that with some upgrades, there are big opportunities for the Port of Thunder Bay.

Heney said the upgrades will double the terminal’s capacity for heavy lift cargo. The second part of the infrastructure proposal includes the purchase of a large piece of waterfront property from Viterra.

Currently the port is in the process of finalizing the purchase of 40 acres of land, which includes the former Agricore S elevator.

Heney said in total, both projects will cost about $16.3 million dollars.

The funding proposal has been submitted to the Federal Minister of Transportation. Council is expected to pass a resolution next week, providing community backing for the initiative.

TBT News


Port Reports - April 23

Twin Ports – Al Miller
John B. Aird was unloading at the Cutler Magner dock in Duluth early Wednesday. From there it was scheduled to shift to Midwest Energy Terminal to load following departure of James R. Barker. Also due at the energy terminal Wednesday were Paul R. Tregurtha, Captain Henry Jackman and Canadian Olympic. The saltie Persenk was loading durum at CHS terminal in Superior.

Marquette, Mich. - Rod Burdick
Wednesday morning, American Mariner opened the Lower Harbor for the 2009-2010 shipping season and unloaded western coal for the Shiras Steam Plant. She was expected to load taconite later in the day at the Upper Harbor ore dock.

Holland, Mich. - Bob VandeVusse
The Coast Guard ATON team based in Muskegon was placing lighted buoys on Lake Macatawa on Monday and Tuesday this week. On Wednesday, the tug Undaunted and barge Pere Marquette 41 arrived to take on a cargo of metal from Padnos for delivery to Chicago. In keeping with tradition, Capt. Dan Hobbs was awarded a pair of wooden shoes commemorating being the first commercial vessel of the season.

Goderich, Ont - Dale Baechler and Jacob Smith
Agawa Canyon turned out in the lake, then backed down the channel on a breezy, wet, Wednesday morning. She was on the Sifto Salt dock at 8 a.m.

Toledo, Ohio – Jim Hoffman
American Integrity departed her winter layup berth at the CSX Coal Docks late Tuesday evening and was bound for Superior, Wisc., to load coal. H. Lee White is undergoing fitout and should be sailing soon. CSL Laurentien finished unloading ore at the Torco Ore Dock and departed Wednesday morning. Maumee arrived at the A.R.M.S. to unload her fifth salt cargo at this facility. She was outbound from Toledo Wednesday afternoon.

The tug Sea Eagle II with the barge St. Marys Cement arrived at the St. Marys Cement Dock Wednesday afternoon and was expected to depart on Thursday. The next scheduled coal boat due into the CSX Dock will be Calumet on Friday. The next scheduled ore boats due into the Torco Ore Dock will be American Mariner on Friday followed by H. Lee White on Wednesday.


Coast Guard trains onboard Museum Ship Boyer

4/23 - Toledo, Ohio – Last Saturday the S.S. Willis B. Boyer Museum Ship in hosted the U.S. Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Toledo personal for maritime law enforcement training scenarios.

The training consisted of realistic and dynamic scenarios that will give law enforcement team members the opportunity to demonstrate and increase their proficiency in various scenarios using a range of levels of force. The purpose of the training is to put Coast Guard law enforcement personnel into actual real-life situations in order to improve their judgment and tactical skills under real pressure.

The S.S. Willis B. Boyer Museum ship provided a realistic training platform for law enforcement team members to gain valuable real world experience, ensuring that they are ready to respond to any threat.

Willis B. Boyer Museum


“The Car Ferries: Exhibition of Artifacts” May 19-30 in Ludington

4/23 - Ludington, Mich. – Lake Michigan Carferry Co. will be presenting an exhibition of rarely-seen artifacts and memorabilia from the C&O train and auto ferries City of Midland, Spartan and Badger - items that have been sitting in warehouses or on the ships for more than 30 years. The exhibit is at the Ludington Area Center for the Arts; tickets are $5 at the door (proceeds go to the Center). More detail available at this link


Meeting on Cana Island Lighthouse preservation project

4/23 - The Door County Maritime Museum & Lighthouse Preservation Society will host a public meeting at the Baileys Harbor Town Hall on Thursday, April 30, at 7 p.m. to unveil details surrounding the preservation project for Cana Island Lighthouse following a grant to the Museum from the National Trust for Historic Preservation.


Author Patrick Livingston discusses “Sailing Through the ’60s”

4/23 - Detroit, Mich - The Detroit Historical Society continues its Scholar Series with Patrick Livingston, author of the Wayne State University Press title “Eight Steamboats: Sailing Through the Sixties,” on May 5 from 6 - 8 p.m. at the Dossin Great Lakes Museum.

The book chronicles Livingston’s adventures on eight shipping vessels, only one of which survives - during the social turbulence of 1960s. As the city of Detroit burned during the 1967 riots, Livingston served milkshakes to passengers aboard the South American of the Georgia Bay Lines. Later, he sailed with the notorious George “Bughouse” Schultz on the tanker Mercury. Before dropping out of school to catch ships as they transited the Detroit River, he sailed Lake Michigan. This book, written from the perspective of a writer who sails rather than a sailor who writes, details Livingston’s sailing expeditions up to his signing off the steamer Champlain in 1972 and then setting sail for landlocked Nepal to join the Peace Corps.

Livingston is also the author of “Summer Dreams: The Story of Bob-lo Island” (Wayne State University Press, 2008). He has worked with the Michigan State University Extension and Michigan Sea Grant and is currently involved with the Great Lakes Education Program on the Detroit River and a project linking teachers from Nepal and Michigan in water-quality analysis and information sharing.


Updates - April 23

News Photo Gallery

Public Gallery updated Ryerson salute in the Video/Audio Album


Today in Great Lakes History - April 23

23 April 1907 - The SEARCHLIGHT (wooden propeller fish tug, 40 foot, built in 1899, at Saginaw, Michigan) capsized and sank while returning to Harbor Beach, Michigan, with a load of fish. The vessel had been purchased by Captain Walter Brown and his son from the Robert Beutel Fish Company of Toledo, Ohio, just ten days before. The sale agreement stated that the tug was to be paid for with fish, not cash. All six crew members drowned.

On 23 April 1883, STEPHEN S. BATES (wooden schooner, 97 foot, 139 tons, built in 1856, at Manitowoc, Wisconsin) was bound from Horne's Pier, Wisconsin, with posts and hardware for Chicago when she was driven into the shallows just north of Grosse Point, Illinois, by a storm and broke up. No lives were lost.

In 1953, the PERE MARQUETTE 22 was cut in half, then pulled apart and lengthened by 40 feet, as part of a major refit at Manitowoc, Wisconsin. Also during this refit, her triple-expansion engines were replaced with Skinner Unaflows, and her double stacks were replaced with a single, tapered stack. The refit was completed August 28, 1953.

On April 23, 1966, the b.) JOSEPH S. WOOD, a.) RICHARD M. MARSHALL of 1953, was towed to the Ford Rouge complex at Dearborn, Michigan by her new owners, the Ford Motor Company. She was renamed c.) JOHN DYKSTRA.

Canada Steamship Lines’ FORT YORK was commissioned April 23, 1958.

On April 23, 1980, the ARTHUR B. HOMER's bow thruster failed while maneuvering through ice at Taconite Harbor, Minnesota, resulting in a grounding which damaged her bow and one ballast tank.

The a.) GRIFFIN (Hull#12) of the Cleveland Ship Building Co. was launched April 23, 1891, for the Lake Superior Iron Mining Co. Renamed b.) JOSEPH S. SCOBELL in 1938, she was scrapped at Rameys Bend, Ontario, in 1971.

On April 23, 1972, PAUL H. CARNAHAN arrived at the Burlington Northern Docks at Superior, Wisconsin, to load 22,402 gross tons of iron ore bound for Detroit, opening the 1972, shipping season at Superior.

On 23 April 1859, at about midnight, the schooner S. BUTTLES was fighting a severe gale. She was carrying staves from Port Burwell, Ontario, to Clayton, New York, and sprang a leak while battling the gale. While manning the pumps, one man was washed overboard, but his shipmates quickly rescued him. Capt. Alexander Pollock beached the vessel to save her about 10 miles east of the Genesee River.

On 23 April 1882, GALLATIN (2-mast wooden schooner, 138 foot, 422 tons, built in 1863, at Oswego, New York) was carrying pig iron from St. Ignace, Michigan, to Erie, Pennsylvania, when she sprang a leak in a storm on Lake Erie. She struck bottom on Chickanolee Reef and foundered in shallow water at Point Pelee. Her crew was saved from the rigging by the fishing sloop LIZZIE.

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


First phase of lock construction to begin in June

4/22 - Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. – Construction of cofferdams both down and upstream of a proposed new American lock in the St. Marys River will begin this June.

John Niemiec, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ project manager, said from Detroit last Friday that the first contract was advertised on April 15, 2009 with a closing date of May 19, 2009 for bids.

He confirmed also that a second contract to dredge and deepen the downstream channel area would be issued by the Detroit District of the Engineer Corps later in the 2009 construction season. The cost for the first two phases of the new lock construction project to be fully funded by the U.S. Federal government is estimated at $17 million.

Niemiec said that both contracts would be open to any bids from marine contractors who do work of this nature. Niemiec said that after the first contract was awarded in May, there would be some paperwork to complete before actual work gets underway. “By the time we issue a notice to proceed and the contractor gets his equipment up there, it would probably be some time in June.”

Niemiec acknowledged too that the $17 million expenditure for the first stage of the lock project, with an estimated completed price tag of $490 million, was less than hoped for by some proponents. “There were folks out there who were trying to get more money for the project this year; that is correct.” But he added, “The two [current] contracts would most definitely take up most of this construction season, and would most probably extend into next year also.”

Glen Nekvasil, vice-president corporate communications for the U.S. Lake Carriers’ Association, wrote by e-mail that the $17 million allocation from the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers represented “an important first step. We remain hopeful that more dollars will come from the stimulus package.”  With respect to employment opportunities created by the lock’s construction, Nekvasil wrote, “As you know, the project has been likened to opening an auto plant in the Sault area and running it for 10 years.”

Carl Levin, the Democrat Senator for Michigan, had predicted in a Dec. 18, 2008 letter to the head of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Washington, D.C. that construction of a new lock at the Sault would “generate about 1,000 new jobs” over the next 10 years.

But as to how many jobs would be created by the first phase of construction this year, Niemiec voiced uncertainty. “Not a huge number for the first two contracts,” he guessed. Niemiec said that additional funding at full federal expense would flow through the Detroit District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as the lock construction progressed.

“Theoretically, we could probably construct it within seven or eight years,” he said. “But we’re looking at how we think the funding stream will come, so it will probably be more than a 10-year timeframe.”

The cofferdams, consisting of two large steel cells, will be built at both ends of the Sabin Lock, and would allow for the water inside to be displaced as a first step before construction begins. Both the Davis and Sabin locks, built in 1918 and 1919, are permanently closed. They would be replaced by the newer twin lock to the existing Poe Lock, built in 1968. The MacArthur Lock, capable of handling vessels up to 800 feet in length, remains operational as well.

Looking ahead, Niemiec said that the next contract that the Corps would be looking to complete would include upstream excavation where water is too shallow for the larger ships, and the construction of new guide walls leading toward the eventual new lock. The guide walls permit vessels to tie up while waiting to lock through.

Jim Weakley, president of the U.S. based Lake Carriers Association, and a commander in the United States Coast Guard Reserve, had stressed in a January Sault This Week report the critical role the Poe Lock plays in the American transportation network.

He had said that 80 million tons moved annually through the Poe Lock. If something were to cause it to shut down, 60 million tons of that cargo could not be moved by ship because 70 per cent of the U.S. fleets’ carrying capacity needed the 1,000 foot Poe Lock.

Weakley said then, “So the question becomes: Is there 60 million tons of capacity that could move by rail? I think the answer is no.”

In a recent e-mail, Nekvasil added that the lock was needed also to keep “clean-burning low sulfur coal heading to Great Lakes power plants”.

He added that marine shipping was the most cost effective and environmentally friendly way to move vital raw materials.

Nekvasil wrote: “it would take seven 100-car unit trains rumbling across our region to deliver as much iron ore or coal as does one 1,000 foot-long vessel in one trip. The fuel savings and reduction in emissions is significant.”

The Poe Lock already is scheduled for an estimated $70 million “asset renewal” over the next six years, including the complete replacement of its hydraulics system. The hydraulics system was responsible for four unscheduled outages in 2008, which delayed shipping on four separate occasions, according to a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers report.

That same report estimated a $160 million economic loss from a single 30-day outage of the Sault Locks.

With respect to any environmental concerns surrounding the mammoth construction project, Niemiec said the Corps of Engineers had issued an environmental bulletin notifying the public and interested agencies in 2008.

He said, “Because the Environmental Impact Study had been done several years ago, we received no adverse comments from anyone. This project should have no real impact because we are constructing in an area that is already a commercial zone.”

In January, Sault This Week reported that the Sault’s federal and provincial representatives, Tony Martin and David Orazietti, along with Sault Mayor John Rowswell, were supportive of the potential economic benefits for the region of the American lock proposal.

Brenda Stenta, manager of corporate communications for Essar Algoma Steel, had told Sault This Week in January that a twin lock for the Poe could prove most advantageous to the steelmaker if it led to an extension of the shipping season. “We hope a new 1,000-foot lock would open up the possibility of year round shipping, which would be of great benefit to our business,” she said.

Currently, the lock system shuts down from Jan. 15 to March 25 to allow for scheduled maintenance work.

The proposed new lock first received U.S. Congressional approval in 1986, and over the past 13 years, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has spent an estimated $20 million on engineering and design work. In 2007, a mandate for the project was reaffirmed at full federal expense.

Sault Ste. Marie This Week


Port Reports - April 22

Grand Haven, Mich. – Dick Fox
The tug Undaunted and barge Pere Marquette 41 arrived Tuesday morning with a load for Verplank's Dock in Ferrysburg. It was still unloading at 2:30 p.m.

Alpena, Mich. - Ben & Chanda McClain
The Samuel de Champlain/barge Innovation was delayed by weather on Monday. It arrived in port on Tuesday, loading cement at Lafarge. The Mississagi returned around 7p.m. Tuesday with another cargo of salt to unload at the Alpena Oil Dock.

Owen Sound, Ont. - Jonathan Coote and Mike Bannon
Ojibway ran into a sand bar on its approach to Owen Sound harbor early Tuesday morning. She was stuck for about four hours, and was finally able to break loose by shifting the engines forward and backward. She arrived at the Great Lakes elevator about 11 a.m. and began unloading grain at 11:30. She was expected to depart on Wednesday.

Saginaw, Mich. – Todd Shorkey
Tuesday evening saw the arrival of an unfamiliar visitor – the East Coast-based Dann Marine Towing tug Zeus. Zeus arrived with the tank barge Robert F. Deegan and traveled upriver for the Dow Chemical dock in Bay City to unload. The pair was expected to be outbound during the day Wednesday.

Goderich, Ont. - Dale Baechler
Mississagi was an early Tuesday morning arrival and was under the spout loading at Sifto Salt.

Sarnia, Ont. – Frank Frisk
Algoway departed the Sidney Smith dock from winter lay-up Tuesday afternoon heading up into Lake Huron.

Hamilton, Ont. – Eric Holmes
Tuesday morning Jade Star arrived at 6 a.m. for Pier 11. The tug Omni Richelieu departed at 8 a.m. for Clarkson to help the Clipper Loyalty dock. The tugs Wyatt M and Molly M departed at 8:45 a.m. for Toronto. The tug William J Moore and barge McLeary's Spirit arrived at 10 a.m. for Pier 11. They were followed in by the Spruceglen from Belledune in ballast. They will load coke petroleum at US Steel for Mobile. The John D. Leitch was right behind the Spruceglen with coal from Ashtabula for Dofasco.

Rochester, N.Y. - Tom Brewer
The tug Evans McKeil with the barge Metis arrived in Rochester on Tuesday with a load of bulk cement.


James Ross Fitzgerald

4/22 - June 2, 1952 - April 13, 2009 - It is with great sadness that we mourn the sudden passing of Jim Fitzgerald. His intelligence, insight, kindness, sense of humor, generosity and passion for tugboats and all things that move on the water will be greatly missed by all who knew and loved him. He will also be missed by his friends and colleagues at Scotia Capital, Toronto.

Memorials in Jim's name can be made at, an organization formed for the purpose of enhancing the public's knowledge of maritime operations and history on the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway. Funeral arrangements were made by Rosar-Morrison Funeral Home & Chapel, 467 Sherbourne Street, Toronto, 416-924-1408.


Updates - April 22

News Photo Gallery

Public Gallery updated Ryerson salute in the Video/Audio Album


Today in Great Lakes History - April 22

22 April 1873 - The ST JOSEPH (wooden propeller passenger-package freight steamer, 150 feet, 473 gross tons, built in 18,67 at Buffalo, New York) was sold by the Goodrich Transportation Company to Charles Chamberlain and others of Detroit, Michigan, for $30,000.

On 22 April 1872, Capt. L. R. Boynton brought the wooden propeller WENONA into Thunder Bay to unload passengers and freight at Alpena, Michigan. The 15-inch-thick ice stopped him a mile from the harbor. The passengers got off and walked across the ice to town. Later, because of the novelty of it, a couple hundred people from Alpena walked out to see the steamer. In the evening, Capt. Boynton steamed back to Detroit without unloading any of the cargo.

American Steamship Co.'s, ST CLAIR (Hull#714) was christened April 22, 1976, at Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin by Bay Shipbuilding Corp.

The CHICAGO TRIBUNE of 1930, laid up for the last time at Toronto on April 22, 1986.

CSL's HOCHELAGA of 1949, lost her self-unloading boom during a windstorm at Windsor, Ontario, on April 22, 1980. As a consequence she made ten trips hauling grain as a straight decker.

CHARLES M. WHITE was commissioned April 22, 1952, at South Chicago, Illinois. She was soon recognized as one of the fastest ships on the Great Lakes because of her ability to reach speeds in excess of 17 knots (19.6 mph).

On 22 April 1871, the 210 foot, 4 mast wooden schooner JAMES COUCH was launched at Port Huron, Michigan. She was named for a prominent Chicago businessman of the times.

On 22 April 1872, EVA M. CONE (wooden schooner, 25 tons, built in 1859, at Oconto, Wisconsin) was carrying lumber from Port Washington to Milwaukee on an early-season run when she struck on ice floe, capsized and sank just outside of Milwaukee harbor. Her crew made it to safety in her lifeboat.

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


Winds send vessels to anchor

4/21 - Straits of Mackinac – High winds have delayed vessel traffic in various parts of the Great Lakes. Capt. Henry Jackman was waiting on weather above Detour Monday, Olive L. Moore and barge Lewis J. Kuber plus Samuel de Champlain and her barge Innovation were anchored on the west side of Bois Blanc Island near the Straits of Mackinac, and the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Alder was anchored on the east side of the island in McRae Bay in lee of Lighthouse Point. Gale warnings were up on Lake Huron through late Monday night.


Shipping by freighter is environment, employment-friendly

4/21 – The cargo that freighters haul to the port of Bay Aggregates, Inc. in Bay City is the lifeblood of industry throughout mid-Michigan. Mount Pleasant-area companies - mostly in construction industries - are some of the jobs that directly benefit from Great Lakes shipping.

"Our facility in Bay City is not only for concrete," said Fisher Transportation President Doug Moore. "But it is a port for all types of different applications."

According to a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers report, if all cargo carried by Great Lakes freighters were instead carried by the next cheapest mode of transportation, it would cost $3.6 billion more. The report said the 240,000 jobs are in the steel, mining and construction industries, including 44,000 jobs that are related to maritime transport.

"Our company moves over 20 million tons of freight a year," said Mark Barker, president of Interlake Steamship Company. "That's a big economic impact, for sure."

Freighters carry materials such as iron ore, coal, limestone, cement mix, salt, sand and grain.

The report outlined a five-year Great Lakes navigation system plan to restore the Soo Locks in Sault Ste. Marie, along with construction of a new lock, removal of dredging backlog around the Great Lakes, expansion and construction of dredged material disposal facilities, and repair of breakwaters and structures.

The U.S. Corps of Engineers' rationale for building a new lock to fit all ships is the importance of the Poe Lock. It fits every ship on the Great Lakes and if it were to malfunction, an unscheduled 30-day shutdown for repairs could lead to industries losing a total of $160 million of cargo.

More than 80 million tons of commercial commodities pass through the Soo Locks each year. The report said one 1,000-foot freighter carries as much cargo as seven 100-car trains, or 3,000 semi-trucks.

Barker said the safety record of freighter shipping is another example of Great Lakes shipping.

"Our largest ship, for example, the Paul Tregurtha, has gone 2,361 days without a lost-time injury," he said. "I would say it's safe to transport on the water."

Barker said the Paul Tregurtha is 1,013 feet long and 105 feet wide. It's the largest ship on the Great Lakes, with only a 21-man crew.

Even with a massive cargo capacity, the environmental impact of freighter shipping is very little, said Lake Carriers' Association Corp. communications vice president, Glen Nekvasil.

"Those ships are the most environmentally-friendly mode of transportation out there," Nekvasil said. "And you never have to stop at something like a railroad crossing and wait for a ship to pass by."

A Great Lakes freighter with a 1,000 ton load produces 90 percent less carbon dioxide emissions than a dump truck with the same load and 70 percent less than a train.

"To move a ton of cargo per gallon of fuel, our ships will go more than 600 miles," Nekvasil said. "A train with one ton of cargo, will go 200 miles. A dump truck, about 60."

Central Michigan Life


Port Reports - April 21

Twin Ports – Al Miller
Adam E. Cornelius unloaded stone at the CLM dock in Superior on Sunday and by Monday was making a rare call at the CHS elevator to load grain. American Spirit reportedly was preparing to depart but it remained in its layup berth in Superior as of Monday morning. Duluth-based Great Lakes Fleet now has five vessels operating, with Cason J. Callaway being the most recent vessel to start the season. Edgar B. Speer was due in Duluth late Monday to load taconite pellets destined for Gary. John G. Munson also was due in late Monday to unload before loading taconite pellets.

Saginaw, Mich. - Todd Shorkey
Manitowoc was back on the Saginaw River for the second time in as many days, traveling upriver to the GM dock in Saginaw to unload. She finished unloading, turned in the Sixth Street basin and was outbound through Bay City early in the afternoon on Monday.

Hamilton, Ont. – Eric Holmes
Saturday morning had Hamilton Energy returning to port at 9:30 a.m. after bunkering in Port Weller. Sunday the McKeil tugs Wyatt M and Molly M departed at 9:30 a.m. for Toronto. Maritime Trader arrived at 5 p.m. in ballast going to Pier 25. Canadian Enterprise, with repairs completed, departed at 6 p.m. for Ashtabula. The tug Molly M arrived alone at 6:30 p.m. from Toronto.


Seaway continues testing hands-free mooring system

4/21 – The St. Lawrence Seaway will be testing vessels’ ability to stop without the use of mooring lines in locks 1, 2, 3 and 4, and testing vessel self-spotting systems at locks 1 and 2 this season.

During the 2008 navigation season, The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation tested a hands-free mooring system installed at lock 7 in the Welland Canal. Two critical components of the development and future use of the hands-free mooring equipment are to test how well vessels can come into lock structures, stop at their designated final mooring position and hold their position within 1 metre of the lock wall without using mooring lines.

The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation will begin this testing on April 21 at locks 1, 2, 3 & 4 in the Montreal-Lake Ontario Section. The testing of the vessel’s ability to stop without mooring lines will be carried out in two separate phases.

Operations Centre personnel will confirm with Masters / Pilots before arriving at locks 1, 2, 3 & 4 that their vessel will be participating in the tests at the locks. Particulars of the test will be provided prior to the vessel’s entry in the lock.

St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation


Updates - April 21

Weekly Website Updates

News Photo Gallery

Public Gallery updated Ryerson salute in the Video/Audio Album


Today in Great Lakes History - April 21

21 April 1907 Peter West, a fireman on the JOHN C. GAULT (wooden propeller bulk freighter, 218 foot, 519 gross tons, built in 1881, at Buffalo, New York, converted to a bulk freighter in 1906, at Detroit, Michigan) fell overboard and drowned in Lake Huron. The news was reported to Capt. J. W. Westcott when the GAULT sailed past Detroit, Michigan, on 23 April 1907.

On 21 April 1863, SEABIRD (wooden side-wheel steamer, 638 tons, built in 1859, at Newport [Marine City], Michigan) was purchased by Capt. A. E. Goodrich from Capt. E. Ward for $36,000. She served primarily on the Lake Michigan west-shore and Lake Superior routes until she burned in 1868.

The EDWIN H. GOTT cleared Two Harbors, Minnesota, with her first cargo, 59,375 tons of iron ore, on April 21, 1979, bound for Gary, Indiana.

Interstate Steamship's a.) WILLIS L. KING (Hull#79) by the Great Lakes Engineering Works, departed on her maiden voyage with a load of coal from Toledo, Ohio on April 21, 1911, bound for Superior, Wisconsin. Renamed b) C. L. AUSTIN in 1952 and was scrapped at Ashtabula, Ohio, in 1985.

On April 21, 1988, P & H Shipping Ltd.'s, d.) BIRCHGLEN, a.) WILLIAM MC LAUGHLIN, was towed off the Great Lakes by the tugs ELMORE M. MISNER and ATOMIC bound for Sydney, Nova Scotia, to be scrapped.

Panda Steamship Co., G. A. Tomlinson, mgr.'s a.) WILLIAM H. WARNER (Hull#784) by American Ship building Co., was launched April 21, 1923. Renamed b.) THE INTERNATIONAL in 1934, c.) MAXINE in 1977, d.) J. F. VAUGHAN in 1981 and e.) OAKGLEN in 1983. Scrapped at Aliaga, Turkey, in 1989.

Pittsburgh Steamship Co's, HOMER D. WILLIAMS (Hull#720) by American Ship Building Co., Lorain, Ohio, was launched in 1917.

April 21, 1998 - The PERE MARQUETTE 41 (former CITY OF MIDLAND 41) was towed to Sturgeon Bay from Muskegon for the remainder of the conversion. She was towed by the tugs MARY PAGE HANNAH and the CARL WILLIAM SELVICK.

On 21 April 1868, GERTRUDE (2-mast wooden schooner, 137 foot, 268 tons, built in 1855, at Cleveland, Ohio) was carrying corn from Chicago to Buffalo when she was cut by the ice four miles west of Mackinaw City and sank in deep water. Her crew made it to shore in the yawl.

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


Port Reports - April 20

Marquette, Mich. – Rod Burdick and Lee Rowe
Lee A Tregurtha arrived Sunday evening at the Upper Harbor to unloaded coal into the hopper. During the first three weeks of the shipping season, the LS&I Upper Harbor ore dock has shipped only five cargoes of taconite.

Soo Locks - Jerry Masson
The upbound Edgar B Speer was met at the Soo Locks Sunday with escort tug Missouri into the lock approach. Included upbound were Vancouverborg and Canadian Progress. Walter J. McCarthy Jr was downbound.

Menominee, Mich – Dick Lund
On Sunday, Capt. Henry Jackman returned to Marinette Fuel & Dock with another load of salt. This is its second trip to Marinette in the past seven days. Lewis J. Kuber, pushed by its tug Olive L. Moore, departed winter lay-up from the KK Integrated Logistics dock on Saturday afternoon. As fleet mates tug Victory and James L. Kuber did earlier this week, the duo headed for Calcite, Mich., to load limestone.

Alpena, Mich. - Ben & Chanda McClain
Late Sunday afternoon the Mississagi arrived in the Thunder Bay River and tied up at the Alpena Oil Dock. It unloaded the first cargo of salt for the year. Cloudy skies and strong east winds were blowing throughout the day. The Mississagi departed before nightfall but was unable to back out into the bay because of the winds. It returned to the dock to secure lines and wait.

Goderich, Ont. - Dale Baechler
John B. Aird arrived around noon on Sunday and went to the Sifto Salt dock to load.

Quebec City - Rene Beauchamp
The chemical tanker Sarah Desgagnes will enter the Seaway on Monday for the first time, destination Sarnia from Quebec City.


Time to plan for Badger Boatnerd Gathering

4/20 - It may still be cool outside, but spring and summer are on the way and with them, the annual Boatnerd Gatherings.

The first is the S/S Badger Boatnerd Gathering Cruise on Saturday, May 30. The Boatnerd Badger Gathering is a round-trip crossing of Lake Michigan from Ludington, Michigan, to Manitowoc, Wisconsin, aboard the Lake Michigan Carferry S/S Badger, the only coal-fired steamer left on the Great Lakes. There is an optional night before stay aboard the boat with possible tours of the engine room and pilothouse.

After making the trip across Lake Michigan, passengers can visit the Wisconsin Maritime Museum in Manitowoc and see the operating restored forward engine from the legendary railroad ferry Chief Wawatam and the World War II submarine Cobia, OR go on the optional Wisconsin Shoreline Cruise aboard the Badger. Lee Murdock will be on board to offer entertainment both ways across the lake.

See the Boatnerd Gathering Page for complete details and sign up form. Reservations must be received no later than May 9. Click here for more information


Updates - April 20

Weekly Website Updates

News Photo Gallery

Public Gallery updated Ryerson salute in the Video/Audio Album


Today in Great Lakes History - April 20

20 April 1874 - The Bailiff Smith boarded the little tug IDA SEARNS at Port Rowan, Ontario, with orders to seize the vessel. However, the skipper, Captain Tregent, weighed anchor and gave the bailiff the opportunity of a free ride to Detroit. Bailiff Smith had been on such an excursion once before and hastily jumped onto the dock. The tug quickly steamed out of the harbor.

On 20 April 1851, the COMET (wooden side-wheel steamer, 174 foot, 337 gross tons, built in 1848, at Portsmouth [Kingston], Ontario) had her boiler explode as she was departing Oswego, New York. Eight crew members were killed. The vessel was later raised, rebuilt in Montreal, and put back in service as the MAYFLOWER. She last until 1861, when she sank in Lake Ontario when she collided with the schooner EXCHANGE.

On April 20, 1960, Bethlehem Steel's ARTHUR B. HOMER (Hull#303) entered service. She was the last vessel built by the Great Lakes Engineering Works. She was scrapped at Port Colborne, Ontario, in 1986.

The 3-mast schooner CAMDEN was launched at Cleveland, Ohio, on 20 April 1872.

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


Port Reports - April 19

Marquette, Mich. - Lee Rowe
The Herbert C Jackson loaded ore in Marquette on Saturday and departed in the fog.

Sturgeon Bay, Wisc. – Scott Best
Saturday the Edwin H Gott arrived, via the Bay of Green Bay, at BayShip building berth #15 for repairs. The tug Jimmy L met the Gott off Sherwood point and stood by, while other Selvick tugs, Jacqulyn Nicole, Susan L and Cameron O, shifted American Century and St Marys Challenger so that the Gott could tie up at Berth 15. By 1 p.m. the Gott was just about all tied up at the shipyard.

Green Bay, Wisc. – Scott Best
Friday, John G. Munson delivered the first load of coal to the Fox River Dock near the mouth of the Fox River. The Munson unloaded her cargo on the dock face, rather than in the slip. Just before sunset the Munson pulled into the slip to turn around and depart up the bay.

Goderich, Ont. - Dale Baechler
Capt. Henry Jackman returned through the night and was loading at the Sifto Salt mine Saturday morning.

Saginaw, Mich. – Todd Shorkey
The 2009 shipping season opened on the Saginaw River early Saturday morning with the arrival of the Manitowoc. This is 21 days later than the start of the 2008 season, but there were only six vessel passages by this point as compared to last year, so it really hasn't been much slower. Manitowoc was upbound through Bay City around 7 a.m., headed upriver to unload at the Wirt Stone done in Saginaw. It is possible that she may have lightered at the Bay City Wirt dock earlier in the morning. Manitowoc was outbound for the lake Saturday afternoon.

The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Hollyhock arrived on Friday to work aids to navigation out in Saginaw Bay. She tied up overnight at the Dow Chemical dock in Bay City, worked aids again on Saturday and was outbound towards the lake just ahead of the Manitowoc on Saturday afternoon.

Port Huron / Sarnia – Roger LeLievre
Mississagi, looking trim in a new coat of paint, departed her winter lay-up berth at Sarnia late Saturday afternoon, heading upbound. That leaves Algomarine, Algoeast and Algoway still to fit out. Edward L. Ryerson was also upbound in the St. Clair River Saturday afternoon, passing Port Huron around dusk and treating onlookers to an impressive salute on her powerful steam whistles.

Toledo, Ohio – Jim Hoffman
On Saturday evening, Maumee and the tug Wilfred M. Cohen with her barge were inbound the Toledo Ship Channel; Maumee was bound for the A.R.M.S. Dock with her fourth load of salt to be unloaded at this facility while the tug Cohen with her barge were bound for the Midwest Terminal Dock to unload. The next scheduled coal boat due into the CSX Dock will be the Calumet on Thursday. The next scheduled ore boats due into the Torco Ore Dock will be the Canadian Olympic on Sunday, Herbert C. Jackson on Monday followed by CSL Laurentien on Tuesday. Capt. Henry Jackman is due in at the Midwest Terminal Stone Dock on Wednesday.

Fairport, Ohio – Bob Hunter
Maumee returned to Fairport Harbor, Ohio, Friday evening to load salt at the Morton Dock. Algowood was in port on Thursday to load salt.

Toronto, Ont. - Charlie Gibbons
Evans McKeil mated with the cement barge Metis on Thursday night and departed for Picton. CCG Griffon came in Friday night and will stay in port for the weekend. The schooner Empire Sandy was bending her sails on this afternoon, getting ready for another sailing season. Ferry service to Centre Island began Friday morning.

Hamilton, Ont. – Eric Holmes
Thursday, Edward L. Ryerson arrived at 5:30 p.m. with iron ore pellets for Dofasco, and departed at 6 a.m. Friday for Duluth. Frontenac arrived at 5:30 p.m. in ballast. The tug Tony McKay arrived at 8:30 p.m. towing an unknown tug.


Updates - April 19

News Photo Gallery

Public Gallery updated Ryerson salute in the Video/Audio Album


Today in Great Lakes History - April 19

19 April 1884 - The KASOTA (wooden propeller bulk freighter, 246 foot, 1660 gross tons, built in 1884 at Cleveland, Ohio) was launched by Thomas Quayles & Sons at Cleveland, Ohio for Capt. Thomas Wilson of Cleveland, Ohio. The hull was painted green with white bulwarks and upper works.

On 19 April 1956, the newly converted cement carrier E M FORD had her steering equipment break when she was abeam of Harsens Island on the St. Clair River. She plowed head-on into the down bound freighter A M BYERS which was loaded with dolomite for Buffalo, New York. The BYERS sank in just 17 minutes and the FORD anchored. No lives were lost.

Sea trials were completed for Upper Lakes Shipping's CANADIAN TRANSPORT on April 19, 1979, and she departed Port Weller Dry Docks Ltd., on her maiden voyage the next morning.

The GEORGE A STINSON's self-unloading boom collapsed onto her deck due to a mechanical failure on the night of April 19, 1983, at Detroit, Michigan. No injuries were reported. She continued hauling cargoes without a boom most of the year until it was replaced on September 20th of that year. She sails today as b.) AMERICAN SPIRIT.

On April 19, 1951, the CLIFFS VICTORY began her much publicized 1,000 mile journey up the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers through the Illinois Waterway pushed by a towboat to Lockport, Illinois where two Great Lakes Towing Co., tugs took up the tow through the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal.

Hall Corp. of Canada's a.) HUTCHCLIFFE HALL (Hull#261) by Canadian Vickers Ltd., Montreal, Quebec, was launched April 19, 1954.

Pittsburgh Steamship's steamer RICHARD TRIMBLE (Hull#707) of the American Ship Building Co., Lorain, Ohio, was launched April 19, 1913. She was scrapped at Duluth, Minnesota between 1978 and 1981.

On April 19, 1950, the WILFRED SYKES entered service, departing Lorain, Ohio for Toledo to load coal on her maiden voyage. The SYKES also became the largest vessel on the Great Lakes, taking the honor from Pittsburgh Steamship Company's LEON FRASER class (the "Supers") which had held it since June 21, 1942.

April 19, 1917 - The ANN ARBOR NO 5 broke off her starboard shaft and bent the rudder stock on the rocky corner of the old Goodrich dock in Manitowoc, Wisconsin.

On 19 April 1880, the Port Huron Times reported the results of a severe gale: "The schooner CHRIS GROVER, ashore near Oscoda, Michigan, is reported going to pieces. The crew is aboard. The schooner ATHENIAN, lumber laden, is reported to have gone ashore off Au Sable and to be a complete wreck. The schooner HATTIE JOHNSON is abandoned on Goose Island shoal. The cabin and part of her deck are gone. The stern is gone from her mizzen and the gale probably broke her up completely and her outfit and cargo may prove a total loss." The GROVE and the JOHNSON were later recovered and put back in service.

On 19 April 1884, EUROPE (wooden propeller, passenger/package freight vessel, 136 foot, 628 gross tons, built in 1870 at St. Catharines, Ontario) was almost totally destroyed by fire at St. Catharines. The remains of her hull were later rebuilt as the barge REGINA.

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



Great Lakes Shipyard completes repower of tug Karen Andrie

4/18  – Great Lakes Shipyard, Cleveland, Ohio, successfully completed the repowering and construction of a new upper pilothouse on the Tug Karen Andrie, owned and operated by Andrie, Inc.

A pair of new Tier II certified EMD 8-710G7C turbocharged marine engines replaced the existing EMD 16-645E6 engines. The new main engines produce 2,000 HP each at 900 RPM. Accompanying the new engines is a new exhaust system and plate-type heat exchanger cooling system. The project included fabrication and installation of a new aluminum upper pilothouse, replacing the original upper pilothouse, as well as tonnage modifications, several machinery modifications, and installation of a new enclosed engine control room. All work, which was performed under ABS attendance, was completed on time and on budget.

The design work for the entire project was completed by NETSCO, Cleveland, OH.

The tug departed GLS April 15 in route to Toledo for a quick drydocking and some underwater hull work before it will be placed the tug back in service. The tug will be paired with Andrie’s new 50,000 BBL tank barge.  Click here for more information on the ship yard.

The Great Lakes Group


Port of Green Bay's shipping season off to slow start

4/18 – The Port of Green Bay had an economic impact of about $75 million on the area last year, despite a slowing economy that saw a dramatic falloff of waterborne commerce late in the year. The 2009 season is expected to be slower than in previous years throughout the Great Lakes.

The first ship of the season, the Alpena, was in Green Bay Saturday, which marked one of the latest first-arrivals in recent years. "Well see them as late as the 15th, but that's been more weather driven than economy driven," said port manager Dean Haen. "It's going to be a slow start to the season. I think 25 percent of the Great Lakes fleet is laid up."

A lot of product is still in the Port of Green Bay, he said, and that must be used before fresh shipments come in. The most noticeable example is coal piles at C. Reiss Coal Co. and Georgia Pacific. Both have stock left from the 2008 shipping season.

"(Georgia Pacific) has been holding a stockpile for some time … and they're not expecting a shipment until May," Haen said. "That's pretty much what has happened. People are holding off. You're not going to see a lot of activity in April."

St. Catharines, Ont.-based Seaway Marine Transport has seen that up front. Seven of their 22 self-unloading vessels have yet to sail this year, and they are staggering the start to the shipping season.

"A lot of what we bring into your area, Green Bay, is safety de-icing salt and that tends to move in the good times and the bad times," said Wayne Hennessy, director of vessel traffic and customer service with Seaway Marine Transport. "I don't think we're going to see a material downturn in that segment of our business. And grain is another one … it is not going to be as impacted as other areas."

While there are bright spots in Seaway's portfolio, Hennessy said, business is down this season. "Generally, across the Great Lakes in the dry bulk trades, at least from our customer base, we're seeing a cash conservation mode in a lot of areas," he said. "Until they are sure they can make some sales, they're hanging on and not spending money or committing capital."

The $75 million economic impact figure cited in the report is down about $1.1 million from 2007 and about $13 million from 2006, according to past figures in the annual report. The economy — mainly in the last three months of 2008 — has been one of the key driving forces in the decline of products moving through the port. The port received more than 2.2 million metric tons of cargo in 2008, down about 5 percent from 2007.

The trade organization representing Great Lakes shipping companies expects 2009 will be another slow year in light of the current economy. Haen said the port may see a gradual ramp up of activity throughout the year, but a major swing doesn't now appear likely.

"The overall tonnage will be down at most of the docks unless we have a significant economic change," he said. "When you hit economically hard times, it's hard to keep (port projects) moving forward. They tend to lag, too."

Port of Green Bay operations support 621 local jobs according to the document prepared by the Bay-Lake Regional Planning Commission.

"We're glad that first ship came in, and we're looking for the ... best shipping season we can expect," Haen said. "We're under way."

Hennessy has a similar take.

"Hopefully, we're going to be pleasantly surprised the second half, but we'll have to see how it goes," he said.

Green Bay Press-Gazette


Port Reports - April 18

Grand Haven, Mich. - Dick Fox
The St. Mary's Conquest with tug Prentiss Brown in the notch made its first visit of the season to the St. Mary's Cement Terminal in Ferrysburg. It arrived about 4 p.m. on Thursday afternoon and left some time Friday morning, after unloading all night.

Alpena and Stone Port - Ben & Chanda McClain
The Alpena arrived in port around 1 a.m. on Friday. It tied up at the coal dock for a temporary lay-up. Stoneport has been busy loading vessels the past few days. The Cason J. Calloway was at the dock on Thursday, followed by the tug Dorothy Ann and barge Pathfinder. The Manitowoc took on cargo Friday and departed late afternoon. Fleetmate Manistee tied up around 5 p.m.

Sarnia, Ont. – Greg Moore
Algomarine arrived in Sarnia’s North slip Friday for lay-up of an unknown length. The Algomarine departed winter lay-up on March 24.


Museum ship City of Milwaukee gearing up for 2009

4/18 – The SS City of Milwaukee is gearing up for the 2009 season wih a 'fitout' and a number of events. An on-board work week will be held from from April 25 through May 2 to get the boat ready for the upcoming tourist season. Painting, cleaning, dock repairs will all be ongoing. On May 23 the annual Carferry Reunion will be held. Featuring speakers followed by live music and a Nautical-themed silent auction . On July 4 another Silent Auction will be held followed by a Lee Murdock in concert.


Updates - April 18

News Photo Gallery

Public Gallery updated


Today in Great Lakes History - April 18

18 April 1907 - At least twenty freighters were anchored at De Tour, Michigan, waiting for the frozen St. Marys River to breakup. The vessels found their provisions running low after waiting for about a week and they bought everything edible in De Tour. The U.S. Lighthouse Service Tender ASPEN (steel propeller tender, 117 foot, 277 gross tons, built in 1906, at Toledo, Ohio) was sent to Cheboygan, Michigan to get more provisions. De Tour did not have railroad facilities at this time and therefore was compelled to stretch the provisions from the last boat in the Fall through winter until a boatload of supplies was delivered in the Spring.

On 18 April 1889, the CITY OF RACINE (wooden propeller passenger/package freight steamer, 220 foot, 1,041 tons) was launched by Burger & Burger at Manitowoc, Wisconsin for the Goodrich Transportation Company. The vessel was ready for service three months later. Her total cost was $125,000.

On her maiden voyage April 18, 1980, the AMERICAN MARINER left Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin in ballast for Escanaba, Michigan to load 31,322 gross tons of taconite pellets for Ashtabula, Ohio and arrived there on April 26th.

Hall Corp. of Canada’s b.) MONTCLIFFE HALL began trading on the Great Lakes on April 18, 1978. Renamed c.) CARTIERDOC in 1988 and d.) CEDARGLEN in 2002. Built in 1959 in Germany as the a.) EMS ORE, she was purchased by Hall Corp. in 1977. Converted to a bulk carrier with the addition of a forward cargo section at Davie Shipbuilding in Lauzon, Quebec.

The PATERSON (Hull#231) was launched April 18, 1985, by Collingwood Shipyards Ltd. She was the last straight deck bulk freighter built on the Lakes and was built to the maximum size permitted to lock through the Seaway. Renamed b.) PINEGLEN in 2002.

Johnstown Steamship's a) MIDVALE (Hull#167) of Great Lakes Engineering Works was launched April 18, 1917. Renamed b.) BETHLEHEM in 1925 and scrapped at Santander, Spain in 1974.

Problems occurred on the ALASTAIR GUTHRIE's first trip of the year on April 18, 1979, when she began taking on water in the engine room while loading grain at the International Multifoods elevator at Duluth, Minnesota. Her stern settled to the bottom of the slip with 12 feet of water in the engine room.

Upper Lakes Shipping's RED WING was sold for scrap on April 18, 1986.

On April 18, 1960, the ROBERT C STANLEY struck Vidal Shoal in St. Marys River about 1.5 miles above the Soo Locks, and tore a hole in her bottom.

Superior Steamship Co.'s a.) SINALOA (Hull#609) of the West Bay City Shipbuilding Co., was launched April 18, 1903, as a straight deck bulk freighter. Renamed b.) WILLIAM F RAPPRICH in 1924, c.) SINALOA in 1927. Converted to a self unloader in 1931. Renamed d.) STONEFAX in 1960. Scrapped at Santander, Spain in 1971.

April 18, 1936 - Albert W. Ackerman, chief engineer of the Pere Marquette car ferries for 35 years, died (Friday afternoon) at the Paulina Stearns hospital.

On 18 April 1848, the wooden schooner TRIBUNE went missing in lower Lake Michigan. Her fate was unknown until native fishermen discovered her masts standing upright off Cathead Point in November 1849. All ten of her crew were lost.

On 18 April 1885, the schooner-barge ELEANOR was launched at Mount Clemens, Michigan. Her dimensions were 185 foot overall, 32 foot beam and 11 foot 3 inch depth. She had three spars and was the consort of the steam barge A WESTON. She was built for the Tonawanda Barge Line and was named after Capt. William Du Lac's wife.

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


Toledo Lighthouse falls victim to thieves; reward offered

4/17 - Toledo, Ohio – Lake Erie pirates have stolen the Toledo Lighthouse boat lift, dock and ramp – apparently for scrap aluminum. Last Thursday the dock and ramp were seen in good order. Saturday the dock, ramp and lift were gone. The Toledo Lighthouse Society is offering a $500 reward for information that leads to arrest and conviction of the thieves. Tax-deductible contributions to help with the reward and the dock may be made at any Fifth-Third Bank – just ask to contribute to the Toledo Harbor Lighthouse Society reward/dock benefit.

The dock was 28-feet long and eight-feet wide; the aluminum ramp was 4-feet wide and 40-feet long. These structures were installed in October 2008 and remained in an elevated position through the winter. These are substantial structures that took a large boat and gear to dismantle the dock and ramp. Cost of the stolen structures add up to nearly $40,000, which was paid for through a grant, festival proceeds and member contributions. The Toledo Lighthouse Society is an all-volunteer organization with nearly 400 members.

Tips relating to this incident can be sent to the Lucas County Sheriff Detective's Office at 419-213-4921.


U.S. Steel shipping its Canadian materials south

4/17 - Hamilton, Ont. – U.S. Steel is shipping raw materials out of its mothballed Hamilton plant to be turned into steel elsewhere.

The firm has been loading materials onto ships in Hamilton harbor for delivery to its active plants in Gary, Ind., Pittsburgh, Pa., and Fairfield, Ala.

U.S. Steel concentrated production at those three American sites after temporarily closing plants in Hamilton and Lake Erie Works in Nanticoke.

"Our ongoing efforts to consolidate production includes raw materials and other resources from our temporarily idled facilities," said U.S. Steel spokesperson Courtney Boone, who declined to comment on any specific moves.

All steelmaking was halted at both Lake Erie Works and Hamilton Steel after the last steel coil was finished in Hamilton two weeks ago.

Following layoffs this weekend, about 250 workers will remain in Hamilton, said Rolf Gerstenberger, president of the United Steelworkers union at the plant. The workforce will eventually be reduced to a skeleton crew of 150 people primarily responsible for maintenance and security at the plant.

U.S. Steel is laying off a total of 2,190 employees in Hamilton and Nanticoke.

The Hamilton Spectator


Port Reports - April 17

Twin Ports Report – Al Miller
The Indiana Harbor departed its layup berth in Duluth on Thursday morning bound for the ore dock in Two Harbors. The vessel had been expected to leave earlier in the week but it spent two days ballasted down by the bow to expose its shafts and props for repair work. Word is that American Spirit, laid up near Superior’s East End, may depart Saturday. Cedarglen was loading at the Peavey elevator in Superior.

Menominee, Mich – Dick Lund
After a few delays Wednesday, the tug Victory and barge James L. Kuber departed their winter lay-up berth at KK Integrated Logistics dock just before 6 p.m. CDT. The pair pulled away from the dock, passed through the Ogden Street bridge and headed out to the channel between Menominee North Pier Lighthouse and Government Pier in Marinette, Wisc. There, the Marinette Sheriff Dept. Marine Patrol's small boat was waiting to escort them through the small fishing boats near the mouth of the Menominee River channel. All went smoothly, and the tug and barge were on their way around 6:30 p.m.

When the Melissa Desgagnes was set to depart Marinette Fuel & Dock Wednesday morning, she ran into the same foe as beset her fleet mate, Amelia Desgagnes, just four days before – wind. Around 11 a.m., they tried to turn the ship into the wind and stopped before the bow had swung 100-feet. The wind was considerably stronger than it was for the Amelia, which may be why the master of the Melissa promptly spun his ship back to dock it back alongside the craneship William H. Donner, and called for a tug. Around 2 p.m., the Selvick tug Jacquelyn Nicole, arrived from Sturgeon Bay, Wisc., and made short work of getting the ship turned around and on her way. The tug usually takes a line from the bow of the ship and pulls them around into the wind. Jacquelyn Nicole, instead, stuck its bow in between the crane ship and the Melissa Desgagnes and pushed it away enough for the tug to be able to push the bow of the ship all the way around with no lines attached. From the time the tug stuck its bow in between the ships to the time the ship was turned around, only about 10 minutes had elapsed. 20 minutes after the tug first entered the harbor, both ship and tug were on their way out of the Menominee River.

Milwaukee, Wisc. - Paul Erspamer
Iryda, a Polsteam saltwater bulker, was docked at Terminal 2 in Milwaukee's outer harbor on Thursday, preparing to unload steel. Elsewhere in Milwaukee, cross-lake ferry Lake Express has returned to its summer berth near the Coast Guard station in the outer harbor, preparing to resume two-a-day service to Muskegon on May 1. USCGC Alder departed Milwaukee Wednesday, servicing aids to navigation on Lake Michigan's west shore. The 1,000-footer Stewart J. Cort and tug G.L. Ostrander with barge Integrity remain in lay-up, both docked at Jones Island in the inner harbor.

Goderich, Ont. – Dale Baechler
Agawa Canyon was in Wednesday evening and is finishing loading on a bright, sunny Thursday morning at Sifto Salt.

Hamilton, Ont. - Eric Holmes
On Wednesday, the Canadian Coast Guard ship Shark departed the Canada Centre for Inland Waters in Burlington at 8 a.m. for Kingston. Stephen B Roman arrived in Hamilton at 12:30 p.m., going to Pier 12. Thursday she will be put on the Heddle Marine Drydock. Canadian Enterprise was towed into the harbor sometime during Wednesday night for Pier 26 to make repairs. Canadian Progress departed winter layup and headed to the Welland Canal early Thursday morning.


‘Know Your Ships’ book-signing in Port Huron Saturday

4/17 - Editor and publisher Roger LeLievre will sign copies of the 50th anniversary edition of "Know Your Ships" from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at the Great Lakes Maritime Center in Port Huron. Admission is free; books and 50th anniversary baseball caps will be available for purchase at the signing. Meet Roger and other members of the KYS crew as the book enters this milestone year. Visit for more information


Great Lakes get two new research ships with stimulus money

4/17 - Washington, D.C. – The Great Lakes will get two new research vessels, paid for by money out of the $787 billion economic stimulus package, Michigan's senators announced today.

The research vessels will offer scientists state-of-the-art technology, gear and wet labs, and will use less fuel. They will replace two nearly 50-year-old vessels on Lake Erie and Lake Ontario.

"I am thrilled that this federal economic recovery funding will create construction jobs and put two much-needed vessels on the Great Lakes to continue their important work," said Sen. Carl Levin, D-Detroit

"For several years, I have been urging the (U.S. Geological Survey) to replace or modernize these vessels. Michigan and the entire Great Lakes basin rely on the information collected by these research vessels and the critical research programs they support," Levin added.

The cost of the vessels isn't known because companies will bid to build them.

The Detroit News


Coast Guard crew receives outstanding search-and-rescue award

4/17 - Marquette, Mich. - The Ninth Coast Guard District will present the Capt. David P. Dobbins Search and Rescue Award to a Marquette-based Coast Guard crew during a Thursday ceremony at the new Station Marquette boat maintenance facility at 4 p.m.

Senator Debbie Stabenow and Capt. Mark Huebschman, Commanding Officer of Coast Guard Sector Sault Ste. Marie, will present the award, which highlights a person or persons who exemplifies in action or deed the ethos of search-and-rescue and the can-do attitude it fosters.

The Marquette Coast Guardsmen receiving the award are: Petty Officer 3rd Class Peter Anderson, Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Davis, Petty Officer 2nd Class Alexander Hill, Petty Officer 3rd Class Jessica Lutz and Fireman Anthony Weed.

The Coast Guardsmen saved a surfer who was in need of assistance during a harsh storm near the Presque Isle, Mich., break wall. The Coast Guard crew was dispatched in a small boat, but was unable to reach the stranded surfer.

The crew utilized ice rescue techniques and came up with an innovative way of banding together to form a human chain to reach the surfer. The rescuers pulled the victim to safety by swimming 50 yards together in the icy water. They transported the hypothermic surfer, who collapsed due to his exhaustion, with the assistance of Emergency Medical Services, to an awaiting ambulance.

"This case shows how strong the 'Guardian Ethos' is and will be," said Chief Bradley K. Adams, Officer-in-Charge at Station Marquette.



Divers hope to prove Lake Ontario shipwreck is flagship of War of 1812

4/17 - Kingston, Ont.- - A Queen’s University psychiatry professor who studies how disease affects quality of life will be doing research of a very different sort this summer, in the murky depths of Lake Ontario.

Along with other volunteer divers, Dianne Groll hopes to resolve once and for all whether the remains of a 200-year-old shipwreck off the coast of Kingston is a flagship from the War of 1812. One of the project’s organizers, Dr. Groll will join nautical historians from throughout Ontario in surveying remains of what may be the Wolfe, the infamous warship of Captain Yeo.

The preparation work will begin the first weekend in May, when marine archaeologists from Parks Canada's Underwater Archaeology Service will run a course for Preserve Our Wrecks Kingston to certify divers that could then go on to help in the survey.

“It’s delicate work,” says Dr.Groll, a member of Preserve our Wrecks Kingston “but it will be very exciting to finally identify this ship – especially if it turns out to be the flagship of the War of 1812, as we hope.”

Divers who complete the course in May will receive their Nautical Archaeology Society Level One certification. In early June, they’ll help other certified divers take measurements, drawings and photographs of the shipwreck.

The shipwreck is lying in about 50 feet of water in the mouth of Navy Bay. Organizers expect that about three weeks of people diving almost daily will be required to accurately survey the wreck.

Once the survey work is complete, marine archeologists will comb through archives at Queen’s and in Toronto and Ottawa to compare data and determine the identity of the ancient vessel. The group is looking for a variety of volunteers who would like to be part of the historical hunt.

“We need boats, and people to coordinate on-shore activities and take videos,” says Dr. Groll. “There are a number of opportunities to get involved.” And with the bicentennial anniversary of the War of 1812 quickly approaching, this identification could play a significant part of the celebrations.

For more information on the Nautical Archaeology Society course in May and the survey of the shipwreck in June, visit


Updates - April 17

News Photo Gallery

Public Gallery updated


Today in Great Lakes History - April 17

17 April 1871 - The wooden brig ST JOSEPH was carrying lumber from Ludington, Michigan, to Chicago, Illinois. Her hold was filled and lumber was stacked on deck so she was indeed overloaded. A gale developed and the deck load shifted, then was lost. ST JOSEPH became waterlogged in mid-lake. Her crew remained with her until 19 April when the propeller ST LEWIS found them 35 miles southwest of Pentwater, Michigan, and took them there. The tug ALDRICH towed the waterlogged brig in for repairs.

The first vessels through the Straits of Mackinac for the 1870 season were the CITY OF BOSTON and the CITY OF NEW YORK, both owned by the Northern Transportation Company. They passed through the Straits on 17 April 1870. The following day they passed Port Huron but could only go as far as Algonac, Michigan, since the St. Clair River had an ice jam which raised the water level by two feet and was causing flooding.

The Collingwood-built, 610 foot aft section of the JOHN B. AIRD passed up bound through the St. Marys Falls Canal on April 17, 1983, in tow of the tugs WILFRED M. COHEN and JOHN MC LEAN heading for Thunder Bay, Ontario, where it was assembled with the 120-foot bow section.

Canada Steamship Lines a.) STADACONA (Hull#24) was launched April 17, 1929, by Midland Shipbuilding Co. Ltd. She was renamed b.) NORDALE in 1969 and was scrapped at Port Colborne, Ontario, in 1983. She was the first vessel scrapped at the old Algoma Steel Dock in Port Colborne.

April 17, 1970 - The CITY OF FLINT 32 was sold to the Norfolk & Western Railway for $100,000.

On 17 April 1840, the wooden side-wheeler CATARAQUI was burned to a total loss during a great fire, which destroyed much of the waterfront area of Kingston, Ontario.

On 17 April 1874, CHARLES J. KERSHAW (wooden propeller, 223 foot, 1,324 gross tons) was launched at the Ballentine shipyard at Bangor, Michigan.

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


Federal Welland is test case for ballast treatment

4/16 - Duluth, Minn. - The saltie Federal Welland docked in Superior on Tuesday is a perfect topic for the international discussion on ballast water. It’s also a prototype of how the shipping industry is trying to fight invasive species.

The saltwater freighter recently left St. Petersburg, Russia, and then Sluiskil, Netherlands, with a load of steel bound for Burns Harbor, Ind. It then came empty to Superior, where on Tuesday it was loading wheat bound for Algeria.

Along that route, it was alternately sucking up and spewing out ballast water; a necessary evil that’s considered the primary pathway for foreign species to move across the globe wreaking environmental and economic damage.

But the Federal Welland, owned by Montreal-based Fednav, has some weapons in the battle against invasive species.

Like other salties, the Federal Welland on this trip complied with new recommendations to completely exchange ballast water at sea. That’s what its crew did about 200 miles off the English Chanel in the North Atlantic. When it arrived in the St. Lawrence River to start its Great Lakes journey, inspectors found the ballast exchange at sea raised the salinity level in the ballast tanks to 40 parts-per-thousand, high enough to kill most freshwater species.

That process of ballast exchange is credited with what appears to be a reduction in new invasive species in the Great Lakes. Shipping interests note there have been no new species documented since the ballast exchange effort began in 2006. That’s after decades of new species arriving every few months.

But the Federal Welland also has the only on-board ballast treatment system of any regular Great Lakes saltwater visitor. On Tuesday, Fednav officials opened the ship to port officials and reporters for a rare glimpse into its bowels.

The Federal Welland uses a system developed by OceanSaver that first injects nitrogen into ballast water, removing the oxygen and, hopefully, killing any living organisms. The second treatment system is filtration that sifts out any organism 50 microns and larger.

The system is located in the ship’s engine room. It takes about 12 hours to fill or empty about 3.7 million gallons of ballast. Ballast water is re-oxygenated before being released so as not to kill any local fish.

Other parts of the OceanSaver system — not yet installed on the Federal Welland but in place on a larger, ocean-only vessel — uses pulsating electrical currents and injected bubbles to smash any remaining living organisms.

It’s not yet clear whether the OceanSaver system will become ship owners’ method of choice. Other options include chemical treatment and ultraviolet light. Fednav officials say the systems are extremely hard to retrofit onto older ships and expensive in all cases.

Duluth News Tribune


A winning combination for Maritime Academy graduates

4/16 - Traverse City, Mich. - The Great Lakes Maritime Academy holds an astonishing record of job placement that has their graduates seamlessly transitioning from classroom to career. Exiting school with 276 days at sea practical experience, federal and international licenses plus a bachelor's degree in business administration is a winning combination.

Not to mention starting salaries for future merchant marine officers in the $10,000-12,000 per month range during the six to eight month Great Lakes shipping season.

"Our biggest problem is awareness, people are not aware of what we do," said John Berck, director of admissions and enrollment management for the academy.

To help bridge this gap, the Great Lakes Maritime Academy hosts open houses during the school year, usually one in the fall and two in the spring semester. The final open house for this school year is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.

Geared to both prospective students and the general public, the event is free and welcomes all ages. Attendees may explore classrooms, examine equipment, try a hand at two engine room simulators and talk with teachers and cadets.

"This is not just about recruitment but community awareness," Berck said.

Founded in 1969, the Great Lakes Maritime Academy is a civilian operation -- many falsely believe that it's related to the military -- that currently has about 150 students in either the deck or engineering track. Enrollment has been growing steadily since the academy moved into their new facility in 2003; a training ship, the State of Michigan, provides hands-on experience.

The school is based at Northwestern Michigan College's Great Lakes Campus in downtown Traverse City; partner Ferris State University grants the bachelor's degree.

An estimated 15 percent of students are women, a number that has been increasing by 1 percent a year.

With an average age of cadets hovering in the mid-20s, the program draws half of its enrollment right out of high school. The remainder includes half with a bachelor's degree already -- they can pursue a three-year course -- and much of the rest with some college.

Others come from a military background, though that experience does not speed progress through the degree program. Josh Tamasovich is a fourth year deck cadet who spent five years in the Navy navigating submarines.

"I thought this would be a good idea to take my Navy training and apply it to the civilian world," he said.

Berck projects easing enrollment totals up to 190-200 students in the next four or five years. His front end recruiting and screening helps ensure a graduation success rate of about 70 percent, twice that of traditional colleges and universities.

Still enrolling, the class beginning next fall has 48 students and room for a dozen more. Small class sizes allow individual attention from faculty, who are or have been merchant mariners themselves.

"You have to have a passion because it's not like a normal college or university where you can take classes for a few years and then decide on your major," he said. "Academically, it's very challenging."

Cadets come from around the United States, which sports a total of four other state maritime academies and one federal one. The Great Lakes Maritime Academy is the only freshwater academy.

"This is a great career – we have a whole lot of good news in an economy that is bad," Berck said.

Traverse City Record-Eagle


Updates - April 16

News Photo Gallery

Public Gallery updated


Today in Great Lakes History - April 16

16 April 1907 - In a blinding snow storm, the LOUIS PAHLOW (wooden propeller package freighter, 155 foot, 366 gross tons, built in 1882, at Milwaukee, Wisconsin) was towing the DELTA (wooden schooner, 134 foot, 269 gross tons, built in 1890, at Algonac, Michigan) on Lake Michigan. She went off course and ran onto the rocks at the Clay Banks, six miles south of Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. The DELTA made it to anchorage before she also grounded. The Lifesaving Service rescued both crews. Both vessels were eventually freed, repaired and put back in service.

On 16 April 1872, the THOMAS W FERRY (wooden schooner, 180 feet) was launched at the J. Jones yard at Detroit, Michigan. She cost $40,000 and was owned by P. J. Ralph & Son and A. C. Burt.

ALGOWOOD departed on her maiden voyage April 16, 1981, from Owen Sound, Ontario, in ballast for Stoneport, Michigan taking on limestone there for Sarnia, Ontario.

ALGOLAKE's sea trials were held April 16, 1977.

The BURNS HARBOR's keel was laid at Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, as (Hull#720) for Wilmington Trust Co., Bethlehem Steel Co., mgr., on April 16, 1979.

CEMENTKARRIER (Hull#175) of the Furness Shipbuilding Co. Ltd at Haverton Hill-on-Tees, England, was launched April 16, 1930, for Canada Cement Transport Ltd.

Reiss Steamship Co.'s a.) W K BIXBY entered service on April 16, 1906. Renamed b.) J L REISS in 1920 and c.) SIDNEY E SMITH JR in 1971. She sank in a collision with the Hindman steamer PARKER EVANS under the Blue Water Bridge on June 5, 1972.

On April 16, 1986, U.S. Steel's steamer WILLIAM A IRVIN was sold for $110,000 to the Duluth Convention Center Board.

On 16 April 1870, the fore-and-aft schooner L W PERRY was launched at the Fitzgerald & Leighton yard in Port Huron, Michigan. She was owned by J. L. Woods of Lexington, Michigan and commanded by Capt. M. Hyde. Her dimensions were 128 foot keel, 133 foot overall, 26 foot beam and 9 foot depth. She cost $29,000 and was built for the lumber trade.

On 16 April 1873, DAVID BALLENTINE (wooden propeller, 221 foot, 972 gross tons) was launched at Bangor, Michigan. She was built by Thomas Boston.

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


Indiana Harbor bar mill to be idled indefinitely

4/15 - Indiana Harbor, Ind. – ArcelorMittal will indefinitely idle its bar mill operations at the Indiana Harbor Works in East Chicago, Ind., beginning in mid-June, company and union representatives confirmed Tuesday.

"As a result of current market conditions, ArcelorMittal will indefinitely idle operations at the company's Indiana Harbor long carbon facility," a company spokesman said Tuesday, adding that ArcelorMittal USA sent notice to about 400 United Steelworkers union-represented workers and salaried employees on Monday.

ArcelorMittal, the world's largest steel maker, announced last week it would continue to freeze production while steel demand remains low. The company cut back output by 45 percent in the fourth quarter and planned to do the same in the first three months of this year until it reduced steel stocks.

The domestic steel industry is working at only about 40 percent capacity, a level not seen since the 1930s, Robinson said.

Associated Press


Wisconsin’s ballast regulations panned

4/15 - Superior, Wisc. – Owners of the ocean freighter Federal Welland joined Superior port officials Tuesday panning Wisconsin’s plan to impose tough restrictions on ships’ ballast water.

Opponents of the new rules say the Department of Natural Resources’ current proposal brings too much regulation too fast for the shipping industry to meet, saying the new rules may force oceangoing commerce to avoid Wisconsin ports.

“The state’s current plan would be devastating for CHS in Superior,” said Tim Powers, vice president of the CHS Inc. grain terminal in Superior. Powers estimated the facility, the largest grain terminal in the U.S. by capacity, would lose half its business and might be forced to close under the DNR regulations.

The 655-foot Federal Welland, owned by Montreal-based Fednav, is docked at the CHS facility, where it is taking on load of 23,000 metric tons of durum wheat bound for Algeria. It’s the first saltwater ship in Superior of the season.

Superior officials are asking the DNR to back off on the time period and standards for ballast-water treatment. They have asked the state to wait for a federal standard or relax rules to match Minnesota standards already in place.

The DNR in February announced plans to regulate ballast in oceangoing ships starting in 2012. The state’s plan would require salties to treat ballast tanks and kill living organisms to a level 100 times greater than the International Maritime Organization has proposed in existing ships and 1,000 times IMO levels for new ships. California and New York have adopted similar standards.

“It’s nearly an impossible situation for us to meet,” said George Robichon, Fednav senior vice president, noting no on-board treatment system has yet been proven completely effective. “You can’t just go to Wal-Mart and buy a ballast system.”

DNR officials said the proposal allows for exceptions for ship owners if there is no viable treatment available by the 2012 deadline.

Minnesota enacted its ballast rule last September, giving ships until 2016 to start treating ballast and adopting the less stringent IMO level of treatment. Minnesota’s law goes farther than Wisconsin’s, however, by also applying to Great Lakes freighters that never enter the ocean.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency earlier this year announced it, too, may consider imposing ballast treatment regulations on a national basis. The Coast Guard and Congress also are considering ballast rules, although, despite a decade of discussion, no single federal standard exists.

“Everyone is waiting to see what the U.S. federal standard will be,” Robichon said, adding that the patchwork of state laws is unworkable.

Superior Mayor Dave Ross said the DNR plan threatens the Twin Ports’ 2,000 waterfront and related jobs and millions of dollars in payroll and taxes.

But supporters of tough ballast regulations note that more than 180 nonnative fish, plants, insects and organisms have entered the Great Lakes since the 19th century, killing native species, fouling intake lines, disrupting ecosystems and damaging sport angling that supports tourism. Scientists say many of those species came here from faraway ports by hitchhiking in the ballast water of ships.

Paul Luebke, DNR wastewater specialist who is drafting the permit, said there is no timeframe for the agency to make a final decision. The DNR received nearly 400 comments on the proposal by the March 30 deadline. The agency will decide whether to change the plan or proceed as originally announced.

Duluth and Superior are especially vulnerable to ballast invasions because a high percentage of ships come arrive empty or with less than full loads and must carry ballast water to help balance the ship. As cargo is loaded, the ballast water often is released.

Duluth News Tribune


Port Reports - April 15

Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. – Jerry Masson
Edwin H. Gott remained in Soo Harbor at the Carbide Dock Tuesday night. She had arrived Monday and reportedly needed repairs.

Marinette, Wisc. – Dick Lund
Melissa Desgagnes became the third vessel in five days to visit Marinette Fuel & Dock. She was carrying another load of pig iron for the facility. That makes two loads of pig iron and one load of salt for Marinette Fuel & Dock so far this year. The Catherine Desgagnes usually carries this early season loads.

Stoneport and Alpena, Mich. - Ben & Chanda McClain
There has been some vessel traffic in the area over the past few days. On Sunday afternoon the Alpena arrived at Lafarge for another load of cement. Tuesday afternoon the USCG vessel Hollyhock was seen out in the bay and the Samuel de Champlain/barge Innovation made its way into port to tie up under the silos.

At Stoneport, John G. Munson departed with cargo on Sunday morning. The Maumee took on a load of stone on Tuesday and departed around 3 p.m.

Toledo, Ohio – Jim Hoffman
On Tuesday, American Mariner was loading coal at the CSX Coal Docks. The next scheduled coal boat due in at the CSX Docks will be the John D. Leitch April 28. The next scheduled ore boats due into the Torco Ore Docks will be Atlantic Huron on Wednesday, CSL Niagara on Thursday followed by the Rt. Hon. Paul J. Martin on Friday.

Hamilton, Ont. – Eric Holmes
Frontenac arrived Monday at 7:30 a.m. in ballast. She went to US Steel to load coal for Nanticoke. Robert S. Pierson arrived at 3:30 p.m. with canola from Thunder Bay. After discharging her cargo she will sail to Marblehead. Tuesday morning the Canadian Enterprise was towed back to Hamilton from Port Weller by the McKeil tugs Wyatt M and Molly M. Due to the high NE winds they decided to anchor two miles east of the Burlington Piers on the north shore untill Wednesday when the winds are expected to decrease.

Toronto, Ont. - Charlie Gibbons
English River was in port Monday unloading. She departed for Bath early this morning. When the Stephen B. Roman goes on the drydock in Hamilton, Metis will take up her run, paired with a McKeil tug, likely the Evans McKeil. Canadian Miner will be shifted into the Redpath Sugar slip on Sunday to have her winter storage cargo removed. Unloading will begin on Monday.


Fort Gratiot Light Station's future is unclear

4/15 - Port Huron, Mich. - When the Fort Gratiot Light Station will reopen is unknown. United States Coast Guard Station Port Huron Chief Jeffrey Ryan said safety concerns and a deal with Port Huron not being finalized are causing the continued closure.

Tours were stopped at the historic site in August because of deteriorating brickwork, falling debris and questionable structural integrity, according to a news release from the coast guard.

Ryan said a deed transfer would benefit both parties. "It's property that we're not technically using or utilizing," he said, adding it would be a better fit for a city museum.

In a December presentation to the City Council, City Engineer Bob Clegg said $3.83 million worth of work needs to be done on the light station's seven buildings. The buildings are: the lighthouse, built in 1829; the duplex lightkeeper's dwelling, built in 1874; the fog signal building, built in 1900; the single lightkeeper's dwelling, built in 1932; the former Coast Guard building, built in 1932; the equipment building, built in 1939; and a three-bay garage, built in the 1970s.

City Manager Bruce Brown said an agreement is still being worked on and he anticipates bringing it to the council for consideration in May.

The city is contesting elements in the agreement that would transfer the deed to the city, including becoming responsible for any health claims in connection to lead-based paint and asbestos in the buildings. Brown said the city doesn't want to be liable for claims of those who had been in the facility before it takes ownership. The city also wants to be able to mothball the six buildings it doesn't have funds to repair and to leave the option open for either the city's museum or the city to run the property.

The Port Huron Museum Friends of the Fort Gratiot Lighthouse is planning an April 25 gala to raise money for the restoration of the lighthouse.  David Brooks, chairman of the museum's board of trustees, said they hope to raise $30,000 at their kick-off event. "I know it seems a little aggressive in these times, but I think from this group's perspective, we really have a sense of urgency," he said.

The cost to rehabilitate the lighthouse would run about $450,000. Brooks said they were awarded a federal Save America's Treasures grant several years ago, which would cover half the cost. The group is going to continue to apply for grants and looking for donations, he said. No other events are scheduled. Brooks said the effort is going into the site because of its historical significance and potential draw as a tourist attraction.

For information on the fund raising event please contact Linda Stoutenburg at (810) 982-0891, ext.

Port Huron Times Herald


Replica schooner to find permanent home in Buffalo

4/15 - Buffalo is about to get a waterfront attraction that many thought would never come — its own tall ship. The newly christened Spirit of Buffalo, a 73-foot Great Lakes replica schooner, is leaving Baltimore today for a six-week voyage that will take it to its permanent home in downtown Buffalo.

The red-sailed ship, owned by area natives Richard and Kathy Hilliman, will serve as a for-profit operator of charters and other recreational activities while also providing nonprofit educational services to young people. “I’m at a point in my life where the money doesn’t matter anymore,” said Richard Hilliman. “This is about making a contribution to the community and our waterfront.”

The Hillimans are returning after a seven-year hiatus that began once their kids were grown and out of the house, and took them to Key West, Fla., for a second career as crew members on two schooners. Eventually, they bought their own ship — the former Jolly Rover — and with the notion of moving it north to their hometown, renamed it the Spirit of Buffalo.

“They contacted us,” said Jordan A. Levy, chairman of Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp., which has a one-year contract with the Hillimans. “They wanted to come back to Buffalo.”  The two-masted schooner will be based at the historic Commercial Slip and is certain to add to the growing recreational opportunities at Canal Side, the $325 million redevelopment project now under way there.

Hilliman said the goal is to provide a broad array of for-profit and nonprofit services to the public. “When we started on this, we wanted to make sure we had something for everyone,” Hilliman said during a news conference Monday announcing his family’s plans. On any given day, he said, the ship could serve as a site for a corporate charter or a wedding reception and later double as a floating classroom for students learning about water quality and pollution.

“We’ve seen the transformation in young people a ship like this can facilitate,” said Katherine A. Mini, a family member and one of the founders of the private foundation overseeing the Hillimans’ vision. The schooner is believed to be the first tall ship permanently moored in Buffalo in decades and is similar to the 19th century ships that carried grain, coal and lumber across the Great Lakes.

The Hillimans’ return to Buffalo was greeted by Mayor Byron W. Brown and County Executive Chris Collins as a sign that lakefront revitalization is moving forward.  “The naysayers are finally silent when it comes to waterfront development — finally,” Collins said Monday. The Spirit of Buffalo, which can accommodate 48 passengers for its variety of uses, is expected to arrive here about the third week of May and already has two private parties booked for that month.

Buffalo News


Water levels at Morrisburg, Ont.

4/15 - The St. Lawrence Seaway Authority announced Tuesday that the water levels at Morrisburg have returned to normal. The speed limits for vessels between Richard’s Point and Iroquois lock will now be applied as outlined in the Seaway Handbook.


Updates - April 15

Weekly Website Updates

News Photo Gallery

Scott Misener (3) feature updated in the Historical Perspective Galleries

Public Gallery updated


Today in Great Lakes History - April 15

15 April 1907 - The Rutland Line’s OGDENSBURG (steel propeller package freighter, 242-foot, 2329 gross tons, built in 1906, at Cleveland, Ohio) was carrying 50,000 bushels of corn, a big consignment of flour and general merchandise from Chicago to Ogdensburg when she stranded on Point aux Barques on Lake Huron in a storm. Although she was leaking in her forward compartment, she was freed after some cargo was jettisoned.

15 April 1907 - The Welland Canal opened for the season with the first vessel being the SAMUEL MATHER (steel propeller bulk freighter, 530 foot, 6,751 gross tons, built in 1906, at Wyandotte, Michigan) carrying coal from Cleveland, Ohio to Prescott, Ontario.

On 15 April 1881, the Market Street Bridge in Mount Clemens, Michigan, was taken down to allow the newly built VIRGINIUS to pass down the Clinton River to Lake St. Clair where she was taken in tow by the CITY OF NEW BALTIMORE. The VIRGINIUS was towed to Port Huron where her engine was installed and she was fitted out for service.

Misener's CANADA MARQUIS (Hull#257) of Govan Shipyards Ltd, Govan, Scotland, was launched April 15, 1983. Renamed b.) FEDERAL RICHELIEU in 1991, c.) FEDERAL MACKENZIE in 1991, d.) MACKENZIE in 2001 and CSL's e.) BIRCHGLEN in 2002.

American Steamship Co.'s SAM LAUD was christened April 15, 1975.

On April 15, 1977, the CONALLISON's, a.) FRANK C. BALL of 1906, self-unloading boom collapsed while unloading coal at the Detroit Edison Trenton, Michigan, power plant in the Trenton Channel on the lower Detroit River.

The W. W. HOLLOWAY suffered a fire in the fantail while in dry dock following her re-powering at AmShip on April 15, 1963, causing $15,000 damage.

Pittsburgh Steamship's steamer J. P. MORGAN JR left Lorain in ballast April 15, 1910, on her maiden voyage to load iron ore at Duluth, Minnesota.

Masaba Steamship's steamer JOE S. MORROW entered service April 15, 1907.

The steamer JOHN P. REISS left Lorain, Ohio on her maiden voyage on April 15, 1910, with coal for Escanaba, Michigan. She was the first of three bulkers built in 1910, for Reiss interests. The other two were the steamers A. M. BYERS and the PETER REISS.

The tanker IMPERIAL COLLINGWOOD began service April 15, 1948.

On April 15, 1955, American Steamship's steamer DETROIT EDISON entered service, departing Manitowoc, Wisconsin, for Port Inland, Michigan, on her maiden trip.

On April 15, 1985, the e.) WILLIAM CLAY FORD, formerly d.) WALTER A. STERLING and presently f.) LEE A. TREGURTHA) departed Fraser Shipyards for the D. M. & I. R. ore docks in West Duluth for her first load in Ford Motor Company colors.

April 15, 1930 - While going up the Manitowoc River to dry dock, the WABASH rubbed the parked steamer THEODORE ROOSEVELT and damaged her upper works forward.

On 15 April 1862, ELISHA C. BLISH (wooden propeller tug, 81 foot, 107 tons, built in 1857, at Black River, Ohio) sank near shore at Algonac, Michigan, when a steam pump was accidentally left in an open position and she flooded. She was raised and lasted another two years when she "went missing" on Lake Huron.

On 15 April 1872, The Port Huron Daily Times announced that the HURON was chartered by a circus company for the season. They intended to perform at many Lake ports throughout the summer.

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


Dutch vessel first saltie in Twin Ports

4/14 - Duluth, Minn. - "I was surprised, and very impressed," said Capt. Luis Jardin on Monday morning. The captain of the Dutch vessel the Medemborg was honored at the annual first ship's ceremony. He was given gifts from city and port officials.

The Medemborg arrived Easter Sunday morning. It was followed by the Federal Welland.

"It was great seeing a dogfight race like there was 50 years ago," said Adolph Ojard, Executive Director of the Duluth Seaway Port Authority.

50 years ago, the St. Lawrence Seaway opened, linking the ocean to the Great Lakes. It forever changed the shipping industry.

In Duluth, the first saltie arrived on May 3, 1959. The Ramon deLarrinaga was racing three other vessels to be the very first.

Now, five decades and $350 billion dollars worth of cargo later, the maritime highway continues to provide jobs for tens of thousands of people.

Ojard says, there is light at the end of the recession tunnel. "There are slow signs of things picking up, in the third quarter or year end," he said.

The Medemborg will bring beet pellets from the General Mills dock to Morocco. It was expected to sail around noon on Tuesday.



Port of Toledo receives $1.1 million FEMA grant for port security

4/14 – The Federal Emergency Management Administration Monday announced the Port of Toledo will receive more than $1.1 million for security as part of the Port Security Grant Program. The program is designed to strengthen the nation's ability to protect critical infrastructure facilities and transit systems. The Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority will act as the agent for the grant funds.

Total funding awarded in fiscal year 2009 for the port security program is more than $388 million and provides money for protection of critical port infrastructure from terrorism. The grant is intended to assist ports to enhance maritime domain awareness and risk management capabilities to prevent, detect, respond to, and recover from attacks involving improvised explosive devices, weapons of mass destruction, and other non-conventional weapons.

Once the federal funds are released to the port authority, the agency will notify all facilities within the Port of Toledo that grant applications will be accepted. The applications will be reviewed, scored and ultimately awarded by the Toledo Area Maritime Security Committee.

Cleveland and Cincinnati also received port security funding.

Toledo Blade


Port Reports - April 14

Twin Ports – Al Miller
The Twin Ports began to resemble their old selves Monday morning with five working vessels around the harbor. Superior was busiest as Walter J. McCarthy Jr. loaded coal at Midwest Energy Terminal while Canadian Transport slowly backed up the bay to take position to wait for the dock. Not far away, Federal Welland was preparing to load at CHS elevators berth 1. In Duluth, Medemborg was loading at General Mills A, while Edgar B. Speer was docked at Gafield C with its stern raised to expose its propellers and shafts. It was scheduled to load at the CN ore dock early Tuesday.

Marquette, Mich. – Rod Burdick
Monday afternoon at the Upper Harbor the Paul R. Tregurtha arrived to unload coal. While backing and arriving at the ore dock, Tregurtha appeared to have difficulty. After several attempts, Tregurtha moved slowly into unloading position at the ore dock. All three stern-quartered Interlake footers have unloaded coal in Marquette this spring.

Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. - Jerry Masson
Edwin H. Gott arrived at the Soo Monday afternoon and tied up at the Carbide Dock for reported inspection and possible repairs. The Great Lakes Fleet 1,000-footer will stop for 6 to 8 hours and plans to get underway late Monday night.

Lorain, Ohio - L. Seabold
A couple freighters visited Lorain early on Monday. The John G. Munson unloaded stone from Michigan, leaving just after the Calumet arrived for a quick unload.

Hamilton, Ont. - Eric Holmes
Sunday the Maritime Trader departed Pier 25 at 3 p.m. The Federal Fuji departed at 4 p.m. and the Sjard departed at 5 p.m.

Montrealais due for dry docking
The damage to the Montrealais in the Welland Canal last week was temporarily repaired before sailing to Port Cartier this past Saturday with a load of grain from Thunder Bay. Transport Canada has apparently given the vessel a two-month sailing extension but she will have to go into dry dock for permanent repairs to her hull this summer. The Canadian Provider will probably take up the Montrealais’ cargo runs, as the work currently being done on her in Hamilton should be completed by the end of May. The reduction in bulk cargo shipments this season may be a blessing in disguise as it has allowed some of the older vessels to get some needed work done.


Time to build new Soo Lock (editorial reprint)

4/14 - Grand Rapids, Mich. – The critical passageway for commercial vessels between lakes Huron and Superior narrows through the funnel of the Soo Locks. Yet, a $490 million expansion project to meet commerce and national security needs there has been stalled for more than two decades. The Michigan Senate is right to be calling for Congress to finally ante up and improve the efficiency and reliability of shipping on the Great Lakes and boost economic activity in the state.

A variety of commodities pass through the locks at Sault Ste. Marie, including iron ore for the steel industry, grain to overseas markets and low sulfur coal for power plants. Between 80 and 90 million tons of cargo pass through the Soo Locks annually. The Soo complex includes two functional locks, but just one -- the Poe Lock -- can accommodate the huge, 1,000-foot freighters of today's fleet. Seventy percent of shipping is restricted to that one lock. And that is at the heart of this issue.

Congress authorized another lock of the same size in 1986, but never followed through with the funding to construct this replacement for two smaller obsolete ones.

Congress did recently appropriate $17 million so the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers can begin building the coffer dams that will prevent water flow into those two smaller, aging locks. Over the years, $20 million has been appropriated for preliminary work such as engineering and design. Now is the perfect time to commit to getting this shovel-ready project done, providing much-needed jobs and ancillary economic activity.

Sen. Mark Jansen, R-Gaines Township, co-sponsored the recently adopted resolution to Congress and the Army Corps. The resolution says the new lock would "create an immediate stimulus to our struggling economy as well as ensure the free flow of vital raw materials on the Great Lakes for generations to come."

Putting the expansion off, yet again, is only going to drive up the costs. The estimated project pricetag has already climbed from $225 million to $341 million to the latest figure of $490 million. Rep. Vernon Ehlers, R-Grand Rapids, Sen. Carl Levin, D-Detroit and Upper Peninsula Congressman Bart Stupak, D-Menominee, were instrumental in getting Congress in 2007 to authorize 100 percent federal funding of the new lock. Initially, Great Lakes states were to shell out more than one-third of the costs. The challenge has been getting that full funding.

Besides the fact that delaying the project adds to its final cost, there is also the increasing risk the Poe Lock could malfunction, and shut down the flow of floating commerce. In fact, the lock did shut down four times last year.

Lawmakers should also remember, the Soo Locks play a major role in our national defense, as the main artery for iron ore from Great Lakes steel mills. When you factor national security into the expansion discussion, the Army Corps concluded, in a 2005 analysis, it was cash worthy.

The much-needed lock exemplifies what the stimulus package was meant for. Mr. Stupak has wisely been calling for some of the Army Corps' $4.5 billion in stimulus dollars to be used for the project. Michigan and the other Great Lakes states deserve this economic boost. If these locks were on either the East or West coast, the political wave would already have crested for construction. This is a case where a rising tide will raise all our nation's boats.

Grand Rapids Press


Kayaker plans 5-month 3,800 mile circumnavigation of all Great Lakes

4/14 - Grand Marais, Minn – On May 2, Bryan Hansel will paddle out of the Grand Marais, Minn., harbor on a 5-month, 3,800-mile solo kayak circumnavigation of all the Great Lakes. During this expedition, Hansel will attempt to become the first person to complete this circumnavigation by kayak. His goals for the trip are to produce a coffee table photography book, to promote paddlesports participation and resource protection on the Great Lakes.

“With this trip, I plan to call attention to the increasing pressure placed on this area and highlight the world-class paddling opportunities. I believe that by increasing paddlesport participation, we will advance resource and wilderness protection,” Hansel said. The Great Lakes contain roughly one-fifth of the world’s fresh surface water, they’re surrounded by eight U.S. States and one Canadian province, and have over 10,000 miles of shoreline. Formed just under 10,000 years ago as the last glaciers retreated, this young drainage basin is home to over 33 million people. This unique resource is under constant pressure from pollution, invasive species, and urban sprawl.

During the trip, Hansel will update his expedition blog with journal entries, photos, and descriptions of the areas he’s paddling past. Using his cell phone, he plans to post frequent updates to Twitter, an online service that allows people to stay connected. “With the website, I’m building a resource for paddlers who want to learn more about all the great places to paddle on the Great Lakes. I want to provide testimony that great expeditions are possible near home, and for 33 million people the Great Lakes are that home.”

Along the way, Hansel will meet up with local paddlers to resupply, and for short day or overnight paddles. He believes it’s important to connect with locals to discover their experiences and passion for the lake. “The more we can share our individual passions for the Great Lakes, the greater that passion will become,” he said. He’s asking interested parties to contact him from his website.

Hansel estimates a finish date of September 25th and he’s planning to paddle home to Grand Marais with a group of friends. After the trip, from the best photos taken on the trip, he’ll produce a photography book about exploring the Great Lakes from the viewpoint of a kayak. But, he said, more important is the experience of exploration and the people I’m hoping to meet.

A website has been created to follow the trip at this link


Time to plan for Badger Boatnerd Gathering

4/14 - It may still be cool outside, but spring and summer are on the way and with them, the annual Boatnerd Gatherings.

The first is the S/S Badger Boatnerd Gathering Cruise on Saturday, May 30. The Boatnerd Badger Gathering is a round-trip crossing of Lake Michigan from Ludington, Michigan, to Manitowoc, Wisconsin, aboard the Lake Michigan Carferry S/S Badger, the only coal-fired steamer left on the Great Lakes. There is an optional night before stay aboard the boat with possible tours of the engine room and pilothouse.

After making the trip across Lake Michigan, passengers can visit the Wisconsin Maritime Museum in Manitowoc and see the operating restored forward engine from the legendary railroad ferry Chief Wawatam and the World War II submarine Cobia, OR go on the optional Wisconsin Shoreline Cruise aboard the Badger. Lee Murdock will be on board to offer entertainment both ways across the lake.

See the Boatnerd Gathering Page for complete details and sign up form. Reservations must be received no later than May 9. Click here for more information


Updates - April 14

Weekly Website Updates

News Photo Gallery

Scott Misener (3) feature updated in the Historical Perspective Galleries

Public Gallery updated


Today in Great Lakes History - April 14

14 April 1965 The GEORGE A. SLOAN (steel propeller bulk freighter, 603 foot, 9057 gross tons, built in 1943, at River Rouge, Michigan) was the first commercial vessel through the Soo Locks. The SLOAN received Sault Ste. Marie's official tri-centennial flag to fly all season. The Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce in turn received the Pittsburgh Fleet flag and it flew below the United States flag on the flag pole on top of the Ojibway Motor Hotel all season.

On 14 April 1872, the MESSENGER (wooden propeller passenger/package freight steamer, 150 foot, 444 gross tons, built in 1866, at Cleveland, Ohio) left Manistee, Michigan in a storm for Milwaukee, Wisconsin. After battling ice flows near shore, she made it to open water but the heavy seas snapped her rudder post. She was unmanageable and four members of the crew left in the yawl to try to get help. Although they were only a few miles from port, the men struggled for hours against the wind, waves and ice before they finally made it back to Manistee, Michigan, where they got a tug to go out and tow the MESSENGER in for repairs.

On April 14, 1961, the FORT CHAMBLY departed Toronto, Ontario, on her maiden voyage bound for the Canadian Lake head.

Interlake Steamship's COLONEL JAMES PICKANDS (Hull#791) sailed on her maiden voyage April 14, 1926, clearing Lorain for Toledo, Ohio, to load coal.

CSL's steamer GLENEAGLES, lost her self-unloading boom April 14, 1977, while unloading at the CSL stone dock at Humberstone, Ontario. Renamed b.) SILVERDALE in 1978, she was scrapped at Windsor, Ontario, in 1984.

On April 14, 1984, vessels around the Great Lakes were battling one of the worst season openers for ice in recent memory. The ERNEST R. BREECH (now OJIBWAY) and the HERBERT C. JACKSON spent the entire day battling ice off the Duluth entry, while the St. Clair River was choked with ice.

On 14 April 1873, The Port Huron Daily Times gave the following report of shipbuilding work going on in Port Huron: "Mr. Fitzgerald is up to his eyes in business with a large barge in process of construction and a good sized schooner still on the stocks. Mr. Thomas Dunford has in hand the repairs of the large scow T S SKINNER and she is being rapidly healed of the damage done to her in the collision with the INTERNATIONAL last Fall. At Muir's yard the [schooner] canaller on the stocks is rapidly approaching completion. At the [Port Huron] Dry Dock Company's yard, they are busy as bees docking and repairing vessels and work upon the new tug for Moffat & Sons is [being] pushed ahead very rapidly." Unfortunately, later that year the "Panic of 1873" struck and all shipyard work was stopped while the country tried to recover from that economic depression.

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


First saltie of season arrives in Twin Ports

4/13 - Duluth, Minn. – Duluth-Superior’s link to the rest of the world as an international seaport was driven home at 10:30 Sunday morning when the Medemborg came under the Aerial Lift Bridge to be the first salt water ship to enter the Twin Ports for the 2009 shipping season.

The Dutch ship headed to General Mills Elevator A to load beet pulp pellets bound for Morocco.

To Twin Ports ship lovers the first saltie arriving is not unlike opening day in baseball. There’s a new attraction to follow and the extreme harshness of winter is over. Four salties are expected to arrive today and Monday.

Adele Yorde, public relations director for the Duluth Seaway Port Authority, described what the day means to her.

“It’s the first ocean-going vessel that transited the entire Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence Seaway System,’’ Yorde said. “We are the farthest inland port on this system and it’s really an exciting time that international shipping is making its way into Duluth-Superior. This is a flurry of activity for opening weekend. I think everybody is most excited because the down-turn of the economy has been on everybody’s mind. The fact that four salties are headed in this direction captured every-body’s attention. It’s also the 50th anniversary of the St. Lawrence Seaway this year.’’

Ken Newhams of the Duluth Shipping News guessed that about 200 people turned out for the arrival of the Medemborg.

“From my point of view it connects the town with the shipping business,’’ Newhams said. “The rest of the year there’s kind of a gap between the two. This is a time when people pay attention.’’

Newhams said the Federal Welland, a Hong Kong-flagged member of the Fednav fleet, was the second saltie to arrive at about 11:28 a.m. It is here to load durum wheat at the CHS grain terminal in Superior. It will then set sail for Algeria.

The Federal Schelde, a Barbados-flagged member of the Fednav fleet and the Sabrina, an Antiguan-flagged member of the Intersea fleet, are expected to arrive Monday. The Federal Schelde will load iron ore pellets destined for Europe. The Sabrina will load spring wheat before setting off to Portugal.

Duluth News Tribune


As economic crisis spreads, layoffs and cutbacks ripple across U.S. industries

4/13 - Sturgeon Bay, Wisc. – Lori DeJardin of Sturgeon Bay has never met Mike Woods, who works for an iron ore mining company in northern Minnesota. Neither have met Peter Walton, a Great Lakes mariner who lives in Suttons Harbor, Mich. But in ways all three may not be fully aware, they are connected in a sluggish economy by the common thread of Bay Shipbuilding in Sturgeon Bay. And, of course, by the larger industry of ship traffic on the Great Lakes.

When the economy went sour late last year, one of the industries that took the biggest hit was the American steel industry, which saw production capacity drop from about 91 percent in August to 41 percent in March, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute. That’s a lot of steel no longer being made and a lot of iron ore no longer needed by mills in places like Detroit and Cleveland.  A decline in the need for iron ore has translated into layoffs at mines across the Iron Range of northern Minnesota.

That means the jobs of mine workers like Mike Woods are in the crosshairs. Woods works at Minntac – a Mountain Iron, Minn., iron ore mining facility owned by U.S. Steel.  As many as 590 people could be laid off at that mine, in addition to hundreds more miners at facilities throughout that region. “It’s not just our company, it’s every other company around here in mining, and beyond that,” said Woods, 38. “When you look at the other plants around us that do the same thing, they’re all in the same boat.”

Here’s where Walton enters the picture. With less need for raw iron ore at the foundries, there’s less need for Great Lakes shipping. Shipping companies expect some of their vessels will start the season later or not sail at all. Walton, who works on three different ships between 800 and 1,000 feet long hauling taconite, was told in early March his sail date – when he was expected to go back to work – has been delayed.

How long? That remains to be seen.

Glen Nekvasil, spokesman for the Ohio-based Lake Carriers’ Association, is quick to point out this isn’t a “death knell” for the industry. “As it stands right now a number of vessels don’t have sail dates for this year,” Nekvasil said in early March. “But the companies are not scrapping boats. They have laid them up properly, and when the demand is there those boats will set out.”  The number of ships that will not sail was not disclosed. That will leave those mariners waiting for work or looking for alternatives as the shipping season progresses. “We have been through this before. It’s a cyclical industry,” he said. On average, a typical freighter carriers a 25-person crew, Nekvasil said.

What 2010 will hold is still up in the air.

Fewer ships sailing this season could mean less repair work during the 2009-2010 winter. It’s likely that some of the ships now at Bay Shipbuilding won’t sail this year and may be laid up for the season in Sturgeon Bay. If those vessels stay in Sturgeon Bay through the year, it could create logistical issues finding space for vessels scheduled to come in for work next winter. The yard has a number of construction projects set for the coming months.

That work ranges from the completion of the PetroChem Trader to the construction of a 185,000-barrel-capacity oil barge. Other work includes finishing installing engines in the Charles M. Beeghly, building 14 barges for the Army Corps of Engineers, and repairing ships during the season as they come up.

Bay Shipbuilding also is pursing other new construction projects. “We’re working on it every day,” said Patrick O’Hern, vice president and general manager at Bay Shipbuilding.

Bay Shipbuilding is coming off its peak employment season, which saw more than 750 people working in the yard. Given the current circumstances, O’Hern said it’s likely there will be layoffs in the coming year as the company rides ups and downs of the economy. One other factor in the mix is the purchase of Bay Shipbuilding and Marinette Marine by Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri. Fincantieri officials say they want to invest $100 million between the two yards and plan to expand the type of work the yards carry out to include building warships and commercial vessels for domestic and international markets.

They’d also like to see additional integration between the two Wisconsin facilities. Fincantieri management “had strategic planning sessions and were thinking about making an entry into the United States for about 10 years,” said Bob Herre, president and chief executive officer of Fincantieri Marine Group in Green Bay. “Our facilities were a match to what they wanted to do, and the timing was right for them and we were lucky enough to be acquired by them.

“I believe it’s going to be a benefit to us as shipbuilders and the communities we live in,” he said.  Fincantieri purchased both Wisconsin yards, as well as another in Cleveland, from the Manitowoc Co.

For DeJardin that sale could mean a long-term source of work for her Sturgeon Bay business, DeJardin Cleaners. Her connection to Bay Shipbuilding includes everything from replacing broken zippers to hemming clothing for Bay Shipbuilding employees. From a zipper in Wisconsin to layoffs at a mine in Minnesota and a Michigan sailor waiting to see if he will be on the lakes this year, all these people face the same economy. Together.

Green Bay Press Gazette


Port Reports - April 13

Marinette, Wisc. – Scott Best
Sunday morning the Capt Henry Jackman arrived in Marinette with a load of salt for Marinette Fuel & Dock. The dock at MF&D has been completely empty of salt including the shipments brought in mid-January for months now after another harsh winter. The Jackman back in stern first and got into position to unload behind the Donner. Around 5:45 PM they were getting ready to depart.

Hamilton, Ont. - Eric Holmes
Saturday morning the Maritime Trader arrived at 10 a.m. going to Pier 25 (JRI Elevators ). The Canadian Enterprise arrived at 6:30 p.m. with coal from Thunder Bay for Dofasco.

Montreal, QC - Rene Beauchamp
Salarium, the former Naticoke, passed upbound for Montreal near Trois-Riviers on Easter Day loaded with salt from the Magdalen Islands. She now sports a new stack marking.


Global steel industry awaits auto turnaround

4/13 - Paris, France – Steel is on edge and the global industry is cutting back hard, hanging on for either a budget blast from China, new credit for vast Middle Eastern building schemes or resurrection of the U.S. auto industry.

Demand has dwindled and steelmakers, notably the giant of them all, ArcelorMittal, are damping down surplus furnace capacity while waiting for credit to flow, construction cranes to turn and factories to roll.

A decision by ArcelorMittal last week to pursue temporary production cutbacks, slashing European output by more than half from the end of April according to a union source, dramatizes the extraordinary ride and role of steel in the last few years.

In just months the global industry has gone from a boom driven largely by China, emerging markets and a property extravaganza in the Middle East to a narrow line between excess capacity and the costs of waiting for recovery.

"Over the past six months, demand for steel has dropped dramatically and, as a result, producers have been cutting production," analysts at Barclays Capital said in a study last week.

In another report, Morgan Stanley predicted "the current demand shock to lead to excess steel capacity."

Consequently, the bank said, steel plants should operate at rates below 75 percent of capacity until 2012.

"The steel market is not very different from base metals as a whole, but steel has reacted more rapidly and dramatically since September," said commodities analyst Perrine Faye of London-based FastMarkets.

She said the future of the steel industry depended on three factors – the impact of Chinese economic stimulus efforts, a pick-up in the Middle East construction sector and a revival of the once mighty U.S. auto industry.

"Chinese imports and exports are at a standstill. Everyone is waiting for the Chinese stimulus package to see if it will revive demand."

The Chinese government last month announced a four-trillion-yuan ($580-billion-dollar) package of measures that it said could contribute 1.5 to 1.9 percent to the country's economic growth.

Industry experts have meanwhile spoken optimistically of China's prospects.

Thomas Albanese, chief executive at steel maker Rio Tinto, said earlier this year that the company foresaw "a short, sharp slowdown in China, with demand rebounding over the course of 2009, as the fundamentals of Chinese economic growth remain sound."

Analysts have said steel inventories are falling in China in anticipation of projects expected to emerge from the country's huge stimulus package.

"It is encouraging that the inventory of steel products, especially long products, which are mostly used in construction projects, have started to fall (since the end of March), likely suggesting that end-demand is gathering momentum," Frank Gong, a Hong Kong-based economist for JPMorgan, wrote in a research note.

On-the-ground evidence suggested that the Chinese industry had been re-stocking in the first two months of the year, followed by a pause in March before major infrastructure projects were expected to start in the second quarter, Gong wrote.

In the Middle East, according to Faye, the big problem is a shortage of credit, notably for real estate developers and builders.

Construction planners had "counted on a higher price for oil and on credit to finance their huge projects."

In addition, demand for such facilities, especially in the Gulf, has died.

"They were hoping that Americans and Europeans would buy apartments. But property prices have collapsed in the Middle East as well."

In the United Arab Emirates more than half the building projects, worth 582 billion dollars or 45 per cent of the total value of the construction sector, have been put on hold, a study by Dubai-based market research group Proleads found in February.

In Dubai, one of the states of the UAE, prices in the real estate sector have slumped by an average of 25 percent from their peak in September after rallying 79 percent in the 18 months to July 2008, according to Morgan Stanley.

Faye said the fate of the steel sector was in addition tied to that of the struggling US auto industry, once a thriving steel market but one in which two of its giant players, General Motors and Chrysler, are staring at bankruptcy.

The two companies are currently limping along thanks to billions of dollars in government aid. "We are waiting to see if the auto sector in the U.S. will get out of the crisis intact," she said.



Updates - April 13

Weekly Website Updates

News Photo Gallery

Public Gallery updated


Today in Great Lakes History - April 13

13 April 1872 - The schooners MARY TAYLOR and ANTELOPE wooden were racing to Oswego, New York, trying to beat a large block of drifting ice. The ice won and blocked the harbor entrance. The ANTELOPE became icebound about a quarter of a mile from the piers and remained there for one day. The MARY TAYLOR got within 500 feet of the pier and remained there for five days until the tug MAJOR DANA broke through the ice.

The RICHARD REISS lost her boom April 13, 1994 when it collapsed at Fairport, OH.

The GEORGE M. HUMPHREY (2) struck a shoal in Whitefish Bay, near Gros Cap, April 13, 1956, when forced off channel in a shifting ice pack, and nearly sank

On 13 April 1872, the wooden schooner-barge JOSEPH PAIGE was launched at the Wolf & Davidson yard in Milwaukee. Her dimensions were 190 feet x 32 feet x 12 feet, 626 gross tons.

The passenger/package freight vessel OCEAN was launched at Andrews & Sons shipyard in Port Dalhousie, Ontario, on 13 April 1872. She was placed in service on 27 April 1872, loading iron at Kingston for Chicago.

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


Port Reports - April 8

Marquette, Mich. - Lee Rowe
The Mesabi Miner arrived in Marquette with coal on a very windy Tuesday.

South Chicago, Ill. - Steve B
Tuesday saw a doubleheader on the Calumet River, with Spruceglen and Algomarine arriving during the morning hours. Spruceglen arrived in Calumet Harbor around 9 a.m. while the Algomarine arrived about 45 minutes later. Algomarine had been anchored out in Lake Michigan and allowed Spruceglen to go around it and go in first, likely so Spruceglen would not have to navigate past Algomarine at Morton Salt, particularly in the 25 mph crosswinds on the river. Spruceglen was turned in the harbor and was assisted to the KCBX south dock by the G tug Colorado on the stern and Massachusetts on the bow. The move took at about 20 minutes and was delayed by the NS bridge for two Amtrak trains; the vessels arrived at KCBX around 11:45 a.m. The Colorado then came out for the Algomarine around noon and assisted on the stern while the Algomarine headed to the Morton Salt dock across from KCBX with a load of salt.

Owen Sound, Ont. - Jonathan Coote
Saginaw, scheduled to leave Owen Sound Tuesday, was delayed. She moved from the granary to dock along the eastern wall in front of Algosteel for repairs. Saginaw was expected to depart sometime Wednesday.

Hamilton, Ont. - Eric Holmes
On Monday, the Edward L. Ryerson arrived at 2:30 pm. with the first load of iron ore pellets for Dofasco this season. She headed back through the canal Tuesday afternoon.


Coast Guard member receives Coast Guardsman of the Year Award

4/8 - Cleveland, Ohio - – A Cleveland-based Coast Guard petty officer will receive the Coast Guardsman of the Year Award from the U.S. Navy League during a ceremony at Station Cleveland Harbor, Wednesday at 8 a.m. Petty Officer 2nd Class Clayton W. Franklin, who is assigned to Station Cleveland Harbor, will receive the award for exceptional service while in uniform.

The U.S. Navy League annually recognizes multiple people with this high honor to show its appreciation for hard work, dedication and adherence to the Coast Guard’s core values of honor, respect, and devotion to duty. “He wears the core values more transparently than anyone else I know,” said Chief Scott Owens, the Officer-in-Charge of Station Cleveland Harbor. Franklin has been assigned to Cleveland Harbor for more than four years and will to transfer to the Coast Guard cutter Obion (WLR-65503), home-ported in Owensboro, Ky., this summer.


Soo BoatNerd Gathering times changed

4/8 - The Soo Locks Open House on June 26, Engineers Day, has been changed to 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. This is an hour earlier than previous years. The BoatNerd group picture will be taken at 8:30 a.m. on the steps below the MacArthur Lock.  The Soo tug boat races, which often occur the same weekend as Engineer's Day, will be held on Saturday, July 4, this year, the weekend after the Locks Open House.


Updates - April 8

News Photo Gallery

Public Gallery updated


Today in Great Lakes History - April 8

08 April 1871, The NAVARINO (wooden propeller passenger-package freight steamer, 184 foot, 761 tons, built in 1871, at Manitowoc, Wisconsin) entered service for the Goodrich Transportation Company. She only lasted until 09 October 1871, since she burned in the Great Chicago Fire.

The BAY CITY (wooden propeller stem barge, 152 foot, 262 gross tons, built in 1867, at Newport [Marine City], Michigan) had just been rebuilt at Bay City and then refitted at Fitzgerald & Leighton’s yard in Port Huron, Michigan. On 08 April 1871, (some sources give the date as 10 April 1871), on her first trip out from the shipyard, she caught fire and burned to the water line. She was rebuilt again and lasted until 1891, when she burned again.

The sea trials for the AMERICAN REPUBLIC were conducted in Green Bay on April 8 thru 10, May 4 thru 11 and 18, 1981.

Interlake Steamship Co.’s steamer J. A. CAMPBELL of 1913, was the first bulk carrier to load taconite pellets that were shipped from Reserve Mining’s Davis Works at Silver Bay, Minn., on April 8, 1956.

In 1957 Great Lakes Steamship stockholders voted to sell the entire 16-ship fleet to four fleets.

In 1977 at Toledo the G.A. TOMLINSON required an estimated $235,000 to outfit her machinery for the up coming season.

On April 8, 1905, Pittsburgh Steamship Co.’s steamer a.) ELBERT H. GARY (Hull#66), was launched by the Chicago Ship Building Co. Renamed b.) R.E. WEBSTER in 1963, she was scrapped in 1973 at Santander, Spain.

In 1969, LEON FALK JR. entered Duluth harbor to become the first vessel to arrive from the lower lake region opening the 1969, shipping season at the head of the lakes. She loaded almost 20,700 tons of iron ore bound for Great Lakes Steel’s Zug Island in Detroit.

April 8, 1998 - An unidentified worker was injured in a fall aboard the CITY OF MIDLAND 41, while it was being converted to a barge in Muskegon.

April 8 , 1871, was a bad day on the St. Clair River. The schooner A MOSHER had favorable winds, so the captain decided to save the cost of a tow and sail up the St. Clair River without assistance from a tug. In the strong current at Port Huron, the vessel hit some old dock timbers, went out of control and collided with the down bound 3-masted schooner H.C. POST. The POST's main and fore masts were carried away in the collision. After some vehement arguing, the MOSHER sailed on while the POST anchored in mid-river while her skipper went ashore. The schooner JESSE ANDERSON then sailed out of the Black River and rammed right into the side of the POST. This finished the wrecking of the POST's aft mast. The ANDERSON went out of control and went aground on the river bank. The tug GEORGE H. PARKER tried to assist the ANDERSON, but she also got stuck on the mud bank. It was several hours before everything got cleaned up and river traffic was back to normal.

The steam ferry JULIA, owned by C. Mc Elroy of St. Clair, Michigan, started running between St. Clair and Courtright, Ontario on 8 April 1878. She was formerly named U S SURVEYOR. Before JULIA took over this service, the ferries R.F. CHILDS and MARY MILLS served in this capacity.

The steamer f.) MANCOX (steel propeller crane freighter, 255 foot, 1,614 gross tons, built in 1903, at Superior, Wisconsin, as a.) H.G. DALTON) of Yankcanuck Steamship Lines was first through the Soo Locks for the 1958, season at 7:05 a.m. on 8 April 1958. In locking through the Canadian lock, the MANCOX became the first ship to come through the new lock gates, which were installed during the winter months. The American Soo Locks had been ready for traffic since March 26, but the Canadian locks had the first ship.

Data from: Joe Barr, Father Dowling Collection, Ahoy & Farewell II, the Historical Collections of the Great Lakes, Bowling Green State University, and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series.


Great Lakes ports have wish list for stimulus funds

4/7 - Green Bay, Wisc. - The question on the minds of those charged with port infrastructure around the Great Lakes is just how much of the stimulus package will be dedicated to the region.

“We really need to get going on them as quickly as possible because we have a shortened construction season in the Great Lakes,” said Wayne Schloop, chief of operations with the Army Corps of Engineers for the Detroit region. “What we’re going to get on the Great Lakes is still unknown.”

Schloop was one of the featured speakers at the annual Port of Green Bay Symposium held at the Holiday Inn-City Centre in downtown Green Bay Monday morning. Schloop said the Corps, which is expecting $4.6 billion in stimulus funding, has submitted 8,000 possible projects nationwide. Which projects will be funded is being deliberated. A good chunk of the money will go to construction and operations and maintenance.

As it stands, without additional funding, the Port of Green Bay is expected to receive $5.2 million this year for dredging, and Rep. Steve Kagen, D-Appleton, said he’s requested another $6 million for 2010. Dean Haen, Port of Green Bay director, said they are targeting stimulus funds to return the shipping channel to its authorized depth and width in one fell swoop rather than piecemeal funding and dredging that has been going on for years. “One way or another, we’re hopeful we can keep getting it done, but it would be nice to get the money and open our shipping lanes back up,” he said.

Stimulus money approved for dredging will not be used until 2010 at the earliest, Haen said. “Northeast Wisconsin needs a port that is functional and up to speed,” Kagen said. “Green Bay needs its port open and dredged, and it will help our economy tremendously in this region.”

He said there is a renewed focus on investing in infrastructure at home — everything from ports to school and wastewater treatment plants to plans for high-speed rail. “In the short-term, we need these jobs and we need them right now,” Kagen said, about work that may be created through stimulus-related projects. Schloop said, on average, about 3.3 million cubic yards a year must be dredged to maintain the status quo in the Great Lakes.  In 2007, they fell short of that number and last year they dredged about 4.2 million cubic yards at a cost of about $47 million. This year, they are projecting to dredge about 4.5 million cubic yards — and that doesn’t include potential work generated by the stimulus package.

“We still don’t know what’s in the economic stimulus,” Schloop said.  In addition to additional dredging, port officials are pitching the restoration of the Cat Island chain and a causeway to Renard Island, which is envisioned to be a 55-acre recreational area.

Green Bay Press-Gazette


Duluth shipping season gets off to rocky start

4/7 - Duluth, Minn. – It wasn’t the best start to a shipping season. The Alpena kicked off Duluth's 2009 Great Lakes navigation season, arriving last Monday afternoon after traveling from Alpena, Mich.

A little later the same day, the James R. Barker left Duluth for Presque Isle. So far, so good. Then came Tuesday, with its snow and wind, leading to difficulties on Wednesday, when two lakers, the Lee A. Tregurtha and the Alpena, got stuck in the ice just outside the harbor.

It took five hours (from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.) for the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Alder to punch through the mass of ice chunks driven into the shore by strong east winds during Tuesday’s storm.

The Tregurtha followed less than an hour later, and the Alpena was the last out, another 30 to 40 minutes after that.

So far, no firm arrival dates are known for the Port’s first oceangoing vessel this year.

According to the Duluth Seaway Port Authority, the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway officially began its 2009 navigation season at 8 a.m. March 31 with the opening of the Welland Canal and Montreal-Lake Ontario sections of the Seaway (11 days behind last year’s earliest record-tying start).

The Port of Duluth-Superior typically sees its first “saltie” in early to mid-April. The captain will be greeted by local maritime officials with a welcoming ceremony, where the winner of an annual “First Ship Contest”  will be announced. The winner has to make the best prediction of when the first ocean-going vessel of the 2009 shipping season will pass under the Aerial Lift Bridge into Duluth — entries were due by March 31.

The official time will be the actual second the hull of the ocean-going vessel goes under the Aerial Lift Bridge, as timed by the Aerial Lift Bridge officials.

When asked to predict the outlook for maritime commerce in 2009, Adolph Ojard, Duluth Seaway Port Authority executive director, had this to say in a January press release: “We’re in unchartered territory; it’s difficult to know where inventories and freight rates will be in the year ahead, what sectors of the economy will recover fastest, where grain markets will be globally, or how many vessels will be in operation to start the season. But we are definitely hoping for a recovery by the third quarter of 2009.”

A total of 1,126 vessels called on the Duluth-Superior port in the 2008 shipping season – just 69 oceangoing ships, which was less than half of the salty traffic of the previous year.

Duluth News Tribune


Ice Boom to be removed from Lake Erie

4/7 - Buffalo, N.Y. - Despite the snowy forecast for western New York, there's a sign it really is spring. A New York Power Authority crew was scheduled to begin removing the ice boom from Lake Erie late Monday. It was delayed by about a week because there was still too much ice on the lake.

The ice boom is put into place each year to cut down on ice-flow build-up that can interfere with hydro-electric power production and cause flooding.



Port Reports - April 7

Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. - Jerry Masson
“Welcome back” was the call the Biscayne Bay received Monday morning from Soo Traffic as the USCG cutter exited the Poe Lock downbound from Lake Superior. The vessel was working in Lake Superior at Thunder Bay and Duluth to help with the break out of Great Lakes freighters. The cutter was called into action during a northern cold snap with plate ice and congested ice floes hampering the spring start.

Owen Sound, Ont. - Jonathan Coote
Saginaw arrived about 2:30 p.m. Monday, she was expected early in morning but bad weather delayed her arrival. Saginaw is expected to depart on Tuesday.

Hamilton, Ont. - Eric Holmes
Sunday the Pineglen departing winter lay up for the Welland Canal at 9:30 a.m. The McKeil tugs Molly M and Wyatt M arrived from the canal at 5:30 p.m. to shift the Canadian Progress from Pier 26 to Pier 23. Pier 26 will be required for the arriving saltie Jo Spirit.


Updates - April 7

Weekly Website Updates

News Photo Gallery

Scott Misener (3) feature updated in the Historical Perspective Galleries

Public Gallery updated


Today in Great Lakes History - April 7

April 7, 1997 LEE A. TREGURTHA suffered an 18-foot hull fracture in her port bow near the bow thruster tunnel while downbound in the upper St. Marys River due to heavy ice. She proceeded to the De Tour Coal Dock where repairs were made overnight and she continued on her trip on April 8, 1997.

On 07 April 1906, the Goodrich Transportation Company, which was incorporated under the laws of the State of Wisconsin in 1868, was dissolved and a new company, the Goodrich Transit Company, was incorporated under the laws of the state of Maine. This was just for financial reasons and other than the name and the port of registry of the vessels, everything else remained the same. The vessels in the company at the time were CHICAGO, CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS, CITY OF RACINE, GEORGIA, INDIANA, IOWA, SHEBOYGAN, VIRGINIA, and tug ARCTIC.

Upper Lakes Shipping Ltd.'s new CANADIAN TRANSPORT was christened April 7, 1979.

The tanker ROBERT W. STEWART, b.) AMOCO MICHIGAN was delivered to Standard Oil Co. on April 7, 1928, as the second largest tanker in service at the time of her launch.

JAMES LAUGHLIN (Hull#16) of the Great Lakes Engineering Works was launched April 7, 1906, for the Interstate Steamship Co., Jones & Laughlin Steel Corp. Later renamed b.) HELEN EVANS, she was scrapped at Cartagena, Columbia, in 1983.

The EMORY L. FORD was sold on April 7, 1965, to the Reiss Steamship Co., and renamed b) RAYMOND H. REISS, the last vessel purchased by Reiss.

TEXACO BRAVE of 1929, arrived at Ramey's Bend from Toronto on April 7, 1975, in tow of tugs G. W. ROGERS and BAGOTVILLE for scrapping.

In 1974, the Pittsburgh Steamship Co.'s steamer THOMAS W. LAMONT loaded the initial shipment of ore for the season at the D.M. & I.R. ore docks in Duluth.

On 7 April 1871, the tug S.V.R. WATSON was towing the schooner S.G. SIMMONS out of Chicago harbor at noon when the WATSON stalled. The schooner plowed into her broadside, causing the tug to tip on her beam ends, take on water and sink. Four men were trapped below decks and drowned; two survived. The WATSON was later raised and returned to service.

On 7 April 1873, the contract for the building of a new carferry, MICHIGAN, for the Great Western Railway was awarded to the Jenkins Brothers of Windsor, Ontario. The new vessel was planned for service on the Detroit River. Her engines were built at Montreal by Canada Engine Works for a cost of $100,000. The hull alone cost $600,000.

Although the locks are not scheduled to open until Thursday, 12 April 1962, the Canadian Sault harbor was officially opened Saturday, 7 April 1962, when the tanker IMPERIAL LONDON pulled into the Imperial dock between the two hospitals. Captain Russel Knight accepted the traditional silk top hat. The IMPERIAL LONDON, carrying almost 1,000,000 gallons of gasoline, led the IMPERIAL SIMCOE, loaded with 19,000 barrels of fuel oil for household heating, up the St. Marys River to the Sault.

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


Economy makes Seaway’s anniversary year uncertain

4/6 - It’s 50th shipping season opened last week and ships are beginning to steam through, but Seaway officials on both sides of the border are unsure how much the ships will carry this year.

"Given the state of the economy, it's very difficult to make projections," said Andrew K. Bogora, spokesman for the Canadian Seaway Management Corp. "You will find even the Fortune 500 companies are reluctant to make projections. In many cases, they are our customers. If they do not make projections, it is very difficult for us to."

Shipping industry brokers, agents and companies say traffic may decrease 4 percent to 5 percent, according to Salvatore E. Pisani, regional director of the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corp. Orders are still coming in to shipping companies, but they are not as robust, he said.

"Everyone is acutely aware that our economy and the world economy is facing quite a bit of turmoil," Mr. Pisani said. "Consequently, we have to be realistic in looking at the fact that there will be a downturn in tonnage. How much, we don't know for sure."

If the economy rebounds over the summer, the Seaway may be able to recoup some of its losses, he said. Freight levels have dropped for the past two years. When the economic downturn began, cargo dropped 8 percent, according to the Seaway's numbers. In 2007, water levels dropped, forcing ships to lighten their loads to decrease drafts. Ten percent less freight floated down the Seaway as a result.

Since the Seaway opened a half century ago, more than 2.5 billion tons of goods have traveled up and down the St. Lawrence River and Great Lakes.

Despite the recession, Seaway officials are planning to mark the waterway's 50th anniversary in a big way this summer. Commemorative event planning began months ago, and invitations have been sent to both the British royal family and President Obama and his family to mark the anniversary in July. A half century ago, Queen Elizabeth II, President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Vice President Richard M. Nixon came to Massena to open the shipping route that is a marvel of modern engineering.

Additionally, this year marks the beginning of the biggest infrastructure investment in the Seaway's history. In March, the Seaway's $32 million budget passed, an increase from last year's budget of $17 million. The extra money is part of a 10-year project that will modernize and maintain the system's infrastructure. The American investment is in conjunction with increased funding from the Canadian government.

"The Seaway has been successful for the last 50 years and, despite today's challenging economic conditions, we are pressing ahead with a number of initiatives to position the system for success during the next 50 years," Richard J. Corfe, president and chief executive officer of the Seaway Management Corp., said in a statement.

Watertown Daily Times


Port Reports - April 6

Goderich, Ont. - Jon Stuparyk
Saginaw was in unloading grain at the elevators. The tug Salvor and barge Lambert Spirit were docked at the north side (in front of CSL Tadoussac) of the harbor for an unknown reason.

Toledo, Ohio – Jim Hoffman
Algowood was at the Kuhlman Dock unloading salt. The USCGC Bristol Bay with her barge were working the aids to navigation on Maumee Bay. The next coal boats scheduled into the CSX Docks are the Calumet due in Monday followed by American Mariner on Saturday. The next scheduled ore boats due into the Torco Ore Docks has Atlantic Erie due in Wednesday, Lee A. Tregurtha on Friday followed by Atlantic Huron on Monday.

Fairport, Ohio - Mike Holly
Maumee was loading salt at Morton Salt Co. in Fairport Sunday morning, she departed that afternoon.


Soo Lock on inside track for funding

4/6 - President Barack Obama has made no secret he is prioritizing billions in stimulus funds for "shovel-ready" public works projects - jobs that can start almost immediately because their designs are set and they've cleared regulatory hurdles.

That's good news for proponents of a $490 billion lock at Sault Ste. Marie in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, a monster-sized - and yes, shovel-ready - project that has been in search of a deep-pocketed patron since Congress authorized it nearly a quarter century ago.

It's bad news for taxpayer watchdogs and environmentalists who question the wisdom of spending so much money essentially to duplicate an existing lock, especially when they say there are more pressing needs facing the Great Lakes.

"With all the need for Great Lakes restoration and the impact shipping is having on the Great Lakes, a half billion dollars for an extra lock is like a slap in the face," says Jennifer Nalbone of the conservation group Great Lakes United.

Project advocates contend that the lock is desperately needed as a backup to the 40-year-old Poe Lock that allows 1,000-foot-long freighters to sail between Lake Superior and the lower lakes of Michigan, Huron and Erie. Trouble at this choke point, they note - an accident or perhaps maintenance issues - could cripple iron ore and coal shipments to Midwestern steel mills and power plants. They point to the thousands of troops deployed to protect the remote outpost during World War II as evidence of its strategic value in feeding raw materials to industry.

"We did not keep 10,000 troops in Michigan's Upper Peninsula because we had soldiers to spare," Jim Weakley, president of the Lake Carriers' Association, testified this year before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to lobby for the new lock. "Loss of the Soo Locks would have meant unconditional surrender to Hitler, Mussolini and Hirohito, and our leaders knew it."

Dave Knight, who works for the Great Lakes Commission, an agency created by the Great Lakes states to promote economic development and conservation, says the lock remains an inviting target even today.

"This is just a really potentially vulnerable chokepoint where somebody could really make a statement," he says.

That argument rubs some people raw.

"Trying to fund infrastructure on the basis of fear is irresponsible," says Steve Ellis, a former U.S. Coast Guard officer who now works for the nonpartisan Taxpayers for Common Sense. "The scariest thing going on right now is looking at our budget deficits and the looming debt."

'A make-work project' - Conservationists say they have no burning opposition to the lock based on environmental concerns; it is going to be built on the footprint of two smaller, obsolete locks. They also say they have no problem with spending hundreds of millions of dollars to maintain the locks and channels in the existing navigation corridor to keep them operating safely and efficiently.

But they do have a problem with this project. "We're trying to point out the fact that creating an extra lock is a make-work project, at best," says Nalbone.

There are indeed boatloads of other economic and environmental needs facing the world's largest freshwater ecosystem.

They include:

 •Great Lakes harbors. The shipping industry has estimated that a nearly $250 million backlog exists in maintenance dredging that is needed just to keep Great Lakes harbors and channels at minimum depths to handle fully loaded freighters.

Part of the problem, ironically, is that dredging on the St. Clair River to open the upper Great Lakes to freighters may have increased the outflow of Lakes Michigan and Huron, dropping their long-term average by at least 16 inches.

The river was dredged three times during the last century in the name of commercial navigation, and each time, the U.S. government authorized construction of some sort of underwater dam-like structure to compensate for the lake-lowering effect of an artificially expanded river. The Army Corps of Engineers has never done that work.

 •Invasive species. The overseas shipping industry has been blamed for introducing dozens of species that have cost Great Lakes states billions of dollars from fouled beaches, fish population crashes and clogged industrial pipes. Obama has promised zero tolerance for any new species invasions, but Congress failed over the past several years to force the shipping industry to install costly water-treatment systems on their ship-steadying ballast tanks.

 •Industrial pollution. Decades after 31 dangerously polluted "areas of concern" were designated on the U.S. side of the Great Lakes, not one of these industrially polluted areas has been cleaned up to the point where it was taken off the list. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates as much as $4.5 billion worth of work remains to be done to make these areas and similar sites in Canada safe for recreation and economic development.

 •Seaway needs. A 2007 Army Corps study said the entire system of locks and channels that creates a 2,400-mile-long shipping route between Duluth, Minn., and the Atlantic Ocean is crumbling in places and will need about $2.5 billion in repairs and maintenance over the next four decades. That report did not single out a new lock in Sault St. Marie as a necessary part of that program; it did not even suggest funding it.

 •Basic sanitation. A 2005 federal report noted there was about a $13.7 billion worth of repairs and upgrades of wastewater treatment systems in the Great Lakes basin, which holds about 90% of the nation's fresh surface water.

 •Ecological restoration. The Bush administration identified about $26 billion worth of environmental needs for the Great Lakes, a figure that included the sewer upgrades. The administration failed to fund most of it.

It's in this context that eyebrows are being raised - and fingers pointed - over plans to build the backup lock.

"Taxpayers are paying twice," says Cameron Davis of the Alliance for the Great Lakes. "We're paying for the ships to come in, and we're paying for the damage they're causing."

Stimulus money hoped for

Supporters note that the new lock, which enjoys bipartisan support, would be built to serve the "laker" fleet. Those boats are too big to leave the Great Lakes because they can't fit through the smaller St. Lawrence Seaway locks downstream. They also can't be blamed for introducing exotic species, though they have been implicated in helping them spread through the lakes.

Roger Gauthier, who works for the Great Lakes Commission on projects to restore the health of the lakes, says the need for a backup lock to protect the region's raw material-dependent industries is profound. The Army Corps reports that the Poe Lock unexpectedly - but briefly - shut down four times last year. The agency says if the lock were to be shuttered for a month, it could deal a $160 million economic blow to the region.

Still, the Army Corps classifies the overall Great Lakes lock system as highly dependable.

Not everybody buys the idea of spending $500 million on a safety net for one piece of that reliable system.

"Let's face it. It's not about ships, it's about goods. And in most cases you can move goods on other forms (of transportation), at least on a temporary basis," Ellis says.

Another freighter-size lock operates in Sault St. Marie along with the Poe, but it's too small to handle the super-sized lakers that haul about 70% of million tons of cargo that flow through the Soo Locks annually. The Poe itself is slated to receive a $70 million upgrade in the next several years.

Gauthier says construction of a new lock should not be framed as a project that will remove funding from other needs.

"This should not take one iota away from (programs) going toward ecological restoration," he says.

Yet even if no stimulus package money flows toward the new lock, the shovels are expected to start digging soon because Congress set aside $17 million this year to construct a set of watertight walls known as $17 coffer dams at the lock site.

If everything goes smoothly, construction of the new lock would be about a 10-year project.

The extent of the conservation community's recent involvement in the issue is one letter signed by 17 groups to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi earlier this year urging Congress to reconsider, and to instead channel funds into restoration projects.

Upper Peninsula Congressman Bart Stupak says the time for talking and planning has passed. It's time to shovel.

"No project meets the definition of shovel ready more than the replacement Soo Lock," the Democrat says. "After 13 years and $20 million of federally funded studies and preparation, there is no excuse for not building the new Soo Lock."

Stupak noted that the Poe Lock is the busiest in the world.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel


Woman airlifted to safety from Mackinac Island

4/6 - Mackinac Island, Mich. - A helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City, Mich., medically evacuated a woman who had been injured in a snowmobiling accident from Mackinac Island Airport early Saturday morning at approximately 1:30 a.m.

The woman, who had unknown head injuries, received medical care by Mackinac Island emergency medical services prior to the helicopter's arrival. The helicopter landed at Mackinac County Airport, in St. Ignace, Mich., to pick up an additional emergency medical technician prior to landing at Mackinac Island.

Petty Officer Jacob Harper, the Coast Guard member on duty at the air station who initially took the call for help and launched the helicopter, remarked about the dynamic actions that took place behind the scenes.

"The highly effective coordination between Mackinac Island EMS, St. Ignace EMS, Coast Guard Sector Sault Ste Marie, and this air station made rescuing this woman possible," said Harper. "Saving lives is a team effort."

The helicopter airlifted the woman to Mackinac County Airport in St. Ignace, where an awaiting ambulance took her to Mackinac Straits Hospital.

The Coast Guard Air Station in Traverse City operates five helicopters that conduct search and rescue operations for Lake Michigan, Lake Superior, Lake Huron, and the surrounding Great Lakes region.


Blessing rings in shipping season

4/6 - It was standing-room only Saturday morning at the Great Lakes Maritime Center in Port Huron as speakers, pastors and performers prayed for those who will travel this shipping season and paid respects to those who have died on the water.

The third annual Blessing of the Fleet ceremony marked the start of spring and summer shipping on the Great Lakes. The season officially started March 25 when the Soo Locks opened. "There is a lot of risk and peril. A lot of people die out there," said Rudy Sloup, past commander of the U.S. Power Squadron. "So (this is) to pray for a safe season."

The ceremony opened with "Highland Cathedral" played by bagpiper Chris Hunt. After introductions, the playing of the American and Canadian national anthems, remarks from guests and more music, the prayers began. Pastors from several area churches were on hand to ask for the protection of the shipping industry, the Navy, recreational boaters and other seafarers.

Peter Werle, operations manager at the center, called on representatives from various groups to ring a bell for those who have "crossed over the bar," or died at sea. There also was a 21-gun salute from the veterans' Honor Guard. As people filtered out of the crowded building, Maritime Center volunteer Rich Woods cited a simple reason the ceremony is so popular. "Almost everyone in this town is connected to sailing," he said.

William Danneels, 80, of Marine City served 26 years in the Navy. He said the ceremony had a special significance to him. "Being from a sailor town ... I think this brings back a lot of history and memories of the past and (looks) toward the future," he said.

Port Huron Times Herald


Time to plan for Badger Boatnerd Gathering

4/6 - It may still be cool outside, but spring and summer are on the way and with them, the annual Boatnerd Gatherings.

The first is the S/S Badger Boatnerd Gathering Cruise on Saturday, May 30. The Boatnerd Badger Gathering is a round-trip crossing of Lake Michigan from Ludington, Michigan, to Manitowoc, Wisconsin, aboard the Lake Michigan Carferry S/S Badger, the only coal-fired steamer left on the Great Lakes. There is an optional night before stay aboard the boat with possible tours of the engine room and pilothouse.

After making the trip across Lake Michigan, passengers can visit the Wisconsin Maritime Museum in Manitowoc and see the operating restored forward engine from the legendary railroad ferry Chief Wawatam and the World War II submarine Cobia, OR go on the optional Wisconsin Shoreline Cruise aboard the Badger. Lee Murdock will be on board to offer entertainment both ways across the lake.

See the Boatnerd Gathering Page for complete details and sign up form. Reservations must be received no later than May 9. Click here for more information


Updates - April 6

Weekly Website Updates

News Photo Gallery

Scott Misener (3) feature updated in the Historical Perspective Galleries

Public Gallery updated


Today in Great Lakes History - April 6

06 April 1880 The GOSHAWK (2-mast wooden schooner-barge, 180 foot, 501 gross tons, built in 1866, at Cleveland, Ohio) left Chicago, Illinois with a load of grain for Buffalo, New York on her first trip of the season. At dusk, sailor Frederick Cook fell overboard, off the boom of the mizzen mast. A plank was thrown to him and the anchor was dropped to stop the vessel. The lifeboat was launched with four men in it to rescue the sailor but they could not find him. The lifeboat got lost in the dark. The GOSHAWK waited through the night without any word of a rescue. At dawn, the captain decided to return to Chicago but the three men left onboard could not raise the anchor. Meanwhile, the lifeboat landed south of Chicago, flagged down a passing train and rode it to Chicago. The GOSHAWK flew the distress signal and a Chicago tug steamed out and towed her back into the harbor where the four rescuers got aboard. The GOSHAWK then resumed her journey. Sailor Cook was never found.

The KENNEBEC was launched on 06 April 1901, by the Jenks Ship Building Company (Hull #18) at Port Huron, Michigan for Mssrs. F. B. & F. P. Chesbrough of Detroit. She lasted until 1921, when she sank off the coast of New Jersey.

ALGOLAKE (Hull#211) of Collingwood Shipyards Ltd., was christened April 6, 1977, she was the first maximum-sized ship of this type in Algoma's fleet with all cabins aft.

The a.) HON PAUL MARTIN (Hull#228), departed Collingwood April 6, 1985, on her maiden voyage for Canada Steamship Lines to load grain at Thunder Bay, Ontario, bound for Quebec City, Quebec. She was the largest vessel built at Collingwood as a result of the new Seaway regulations that allowed increased hull lengths beyond the previous maximum overall of 730 foot to transit the lock systems. She sails the Lakes today as b.) ATLANTIC ERIE.

PRAIRIE HARVEST sailed on her maiden voyage in 1984.On April 6, 1990, Paterson's CANADOC of 1961, was laid up at Montreal, Quebec never to sail again.

NOTRE DAME VICTORY, b.) CLIFFS VICTORY, was delivered to Interocean Steamship Co., on April 6, 1945, under charter from the U.S. Maritime Commission.

The a.) LOUIS R DAVIDSON (Hull#95) of the Great Lakes Engineering Works was launched April 6, 1912, for the American Steamship Co. Later renamed b.) DIAMOND ALKALI in 1932, c.) DOW CHEMICAL in 1939 and d.) FERNDALE in 1963. She was scrapped at Castellon, Spain in 1979.

April 6, 1931 - The CITY OF FLINT 32 set a world record sailing 101,000 miles in her first year of service.

On 6 April 1872, the schooner I N FOSTER was launched from the Fitzgerald & Leighton yard at Port Huron, Michigan. She was classified as a "full-sized canaller" since she was as large as a vessel could be to pass through the Welland Canal. Her dimensions were 143 foot overall, 26 foot inch beam, 11 foot 6 inch depth, 437 tons.

Data from: Max Hanley, Joe Barr, Dave Swayze, Ahoy & Farewell II, the Father Dowling Collection, the Historical Collections of the Great Lakes, Bowling Green State University, and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series. This is a small sample, the books includes many other vessels with a much more detailed history.


Mackinaw makes first Twin Ports call

4/5 - Duluth, Minn. – The Coast Guard cutter Mackinaw, the largest icebreaker on the Great Lakes, called Friday on the Twin Ports, which someday could be home to its twin sister. Last week, U.S. Rep. Jim Oberstar, D-Minnesota, introduced a bill in Congress that would provide $153 million for the construction of a sister ship to the Mackinaw.

The Mackinaw began heading to Duluth on Wednesday, when two lakers leaving the port spent the better part of a day mired in pack ice along Duluth’s lakeshore. The Coast Guard cutter Alder, based in Duluth, was joined by the Biscayne Bay, another Coast Guard cutter, on Thursday.

By the time the Mackinaw arrived Friday, most of the ice had blown away from the shore. The icebreaker tied up behind the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center. Ensign David Lieberman said the Mackinaw is positioning itself in Duluth in case east winds blow drifting ice back toward the Twin Ports.

This is the Mackinaw’s first visit to Duluth. The vessel was available for public tours from 1 to 3 p.m. on Saturday.

Built in 2005, the Mackinaw measures 240 feet from stem to stern and draws 16 feet of water fully loaded. Its displacement is 3,350 tons. Nine officers and 47 crew members staff the cutter.

The Mackinaw is powered by three Caterpillar 3612 turbocharged V-12 engines. At a speed of 12 knots, it has a range of 4,000 nautical miles. The Mackinaw was designed to operate at 3 knots in 32 inches of solid ice or 8 feet of brash (fragmented) ice. It was built by Marinette Marine Corp. of Marinette, Wis., and is based in Cheboygan, Mich.

Oberstar would like the proposed new icebreaker to call Duluth home. The Coast Guard's icebreaking mission is critical to keeping ships moving on the Great Lakes, with lakers active 42 weeks of the year. These vessels and oceangoing ships annually move about 150 million tons of material through the lakes.

Duluth News Tribune


Economy may curb shipping at Muskegon

4/5 - Muskegon, Mich. – The 2009 shipping season in the Port City was scheduled to start Saturday, with the arrival of the 544-foot tug-barge Samuel de Champlain/Innovation at the LaFarge cement terminal on Muskegon Lake.

But the economic downturn that has slowed most other forms of commerce also may have a dampening effect on the shipping business in the coming months.

"We expect it to be slower than normal," said Mike Caliendo, transportation group vice president for Muskegon-based Andrie Inc., which manages the LaFarge fleet on the Great Lakes.

Despite the overall slowdown, especially in steel-related shipping, Caliendo said he did not expect any of Andrie's four vessels to be laid up this year due to economic reasons.

The recent temporary shutdown of LaFarge's kiln operation in Alpena, which is expected to result in the layoffs of more than 130 LaFarge employees, is not anticipated to affect the LaFarge operation here, at least for now.

"I sure hope things get better soon," said Rick Moore, LaFarge's regional terminal manager in St. Joseph.

And it will be business as usual in the case of Consumers Energy, since according to spokesman Dennis McKee, all of this year's coal shipments to the B.C. Cobb plant are set by contract. The first of 36 shipments scheduled for this year is expected during the first week of May, he said.

Officials of Verplank Trucking Co., which also operates a ship terminal on Muskegon Lake, chose not to share its expectations for the upcoming shipping season.

Other signs of a slow season for shipping have been seen in recent weeks, which have been marked by lessening demand for iron ore and other commodities transported on the Great Lakes.

When the Soo Locks reopened for the season March 25 after their winter shutdown, instead of freighters lined up for miles waiting to pass through, only one, the 450-foot Canadian tanker Algosar negotiated the Locks that morning.

"The problem is the general state of the economy," said Glen Nekvasil, spokesman for the Cleveland-based Lake Carriers Association. "I haven't heard of any port that's expecting a gangbuster year."

Some ships aren't leaving their winter berths until June, if they sail at all this year, he said.

While the biggest dent in demand is for iron ore bound for steel mills in Illinois, Indiana and Michigan, the severe economic slowdown is affecting other commodities traditionally shipped via the Great Lakes, such as grain and cement.

There are some 44,000 jobs directly tied to Great Lakes shipping, and nearly 200,000 jobs in the mining and steel industries.

For the first time since the recession of the mid-1980s, cargo shipments on the Great Lakes from U.S. vessels fell below 1 million tons in January. The total, 778,971 tons, was roughly half the total tonnage logged in January 2007.

Muskegon Chronicle


Port Reports - April 5

Alpena, Mich. - Ben & Chanda McClain
The Alpena remained anchored in the bay on Saturday due to gale force winds. Algomarine also took shelter in the bay for part of the day before departing late afternoon. Alpena made its way into Lafarge by early evening to load under the silos.

Toledo, Ohio – Jim Hoffman
Maumee was at the A.R.M.S. Dock unloading salt; this was her second trip into this docksite during the past several days. The salt is being loaded at Cleveland, Ohio. Cuyahoga was unloading grain at the new docksite at the former Nabisco plant located just south of the Ironhead Shipyard. The tug Joyce L. Van Enkevort with the barge Great Lakes Trader were unloading ore at the Torco Ore Dock. The next vessels scheduled into the CSX Coal Docks are the Calumet on Monday followed by the American Mariner on Saturday. The next scheduled vessels due into the Torco Ore Dock is the Atlantic Erie on Wednesday, the Lee A. Tregurtha on Friday, followed by the CSL Niagara on Sunday. The following vessels remain in layup at Toledo: Adam E. Cornelius and American Fortitude at the Lakefront Docks; H. Lee White, American Valor, American Integrity and American Courage at the CSX Coal Docks; John J. Boland and American Republic at the old Interlake Iron Dock just north of Ironhead Shipyard. The railroad carfloat Pere Marquette #10 remains in long term layup at the CSX Coal Docks "Frog Pond” area.

Cleveland, Ohio – Bill Kloss
Polsteam's Iryda was the first saltie of the season, entering the Port of Cleveland around 9:30 a.m. Saturday morning. She is the first commercial vessel to arrive at Cleveland, that did not winter in port.

Welland Canal – Paul Beesley
April 3 was a grey, damp day, with visibility dropping throughout the afternoon. Despite this, Algoport left her winter layup berth and sailed down the Welland canal to Port Weller shipyard. There she was assisted into the dock by McKeil’s tugs Molly M 1 and Wyatt M.

Hamilton, Ont. - Eric Holmes
Saturday morning Canadian Leader anchored in the Burlington Bay anchorage at 10 a.m. due the high winds. She departed for the Welland Canal at 4 p.m. after the winds died down. Diamond Star anchored off the Petro Canada Piers in Bronte at 4 p.m. and then docked at 9 p.m. Maritime Trader arrived at 9:30 p.m. going to pier 25.

Toronto, Ont. - Charlie Gibbons
Canadian Leader departed Redpath Sugar this morning and headed to Hamilton on its first trip of the season. The winter storage fleet of tour boats and tugs on Toronto Drydock was refloated Friday.


Cargo options considered

4/5 - Duluth, Minn. - – The tonnage of taconite and coal shipped out of Duluth-Superior has made this the biggest port on the Great Lakes.

But many experts fear those days could be numbered.

Both taconite and coal are non-renewable resources and both are facing challenges from alternative materials.

To keep the port vital experts say it must find new cargo to handle.

As the big ships sail under Duluth's Aerial Lift Bridge crowds invariably gather to watch. The canal is one of the biggest tourist attractions in the region...and while tourism is good the real economic power of the port comes from the value of its cargoes.

The Port of Duluth is very important, vital to our economy in this area.

But that vitality has waned recently with a drop in taconite tonnage and a major decline in international ship traffic.

What we have out here is a transportation system that is only fractionally used. It could have a tremendous amount more use by a much wider variety of marine craft.

Dr. Richard Stewart, is co-director of the Great Lakes Maritime Research Institute, a think tank looking for ways to expand the power of the port. He says the ports economic value is far from fully exploited.

State agencies rarely look at options for moving cargo by water rather than by truck or even by rail.

Port officials are involved in a nation-wide campaign to get transportation officials to recognize the economic and environmental value of water-borne commerce.

Ships used on great lakes use much less fuel per ton of cargo than trains and trucks and the impacts of maintaining the infrastructure have much less economic, social and environmental, impact than would expanding our highway and railways.

The port has had some success in recent years in getting some heavy cargo of the highways and on to the waterways. Thousands of tons of wind energy components have moved through the port, developing its reputation for the ability to handle large and unwieldy cargo.

Another area that could increase water-borne cargo is container shipping. Across the country, thousands of trucks and trains carry container cargo which could easily be off-loaded at the port to continue their destination via ship. Experts say it would be an extremely lucrative market to break into.

Another potential area for port expansion is ship building.

Wisconsin has as many ship yards as any New England coastal state. Let's talk about building those craft in Fraser Ship Yards.

And finally there's the potential for expanding Great Lakes passenger cruising.

We've been working with the Great Lakes cruising coalition to get more cruise vessels on the Great Lakes.

The Great Lakes Maritime Research institute feels diversifying shipping commodities is key in keeping the power in the port.

The Duluth Superior port, ten years from now, would be much different based upon the work that we're doing in terms of defining problems, finding solutions, working through some political challenges.

From Northlands News Center


Updates - April 5

News Photo Gallery

Scott Misener (3) feature updated in the Historical Perspective Galleries

Public Gallery updated


Today in Great Lakes History - April 5

On 05 April 1890, INDIANA (wooden propeller passenger/package freight steamer, 220 foot, 1,178 gross tons) was launched by Burger and Burger at Manitowoc, Wisconsin, for the Goodrich Transportation Company. The total cost of the vessel was $135,000.

On April 5, 1984, the joined sections of the HILDA MARJANNE and CHIMO emerged from Port Weller Dry Dock Ltd., as the b.) CANADIAN RANGER.

Sea trials for Canada Steamship Lines new bulk freighter, PRAIRIE HARVEST (Hull#227) of Collingwood Shipyards Ltd., were complete on April 5, 1984. She operates on the Lakes today as the self-unloader d.) ATLANTIC HURON.

The a.) LUZON (Hull#54) of the Chicago Ship Building Co. was launched for the Erie Steamship Co., E.D. Carter, mgr., on April 5, 1902. Renamed b.) JOHN ANDERSON in 1924 and c.) G. G. POST in 1933. She was scrapped at Izmir, Turkey, in 1972.

April 5, 1977 - The Chessie System announced that the CITY OF MIDLAND 41 would be withdrawn from service and only the SPARTAN and BADGER would run for the season.

On 5 April 1854, AMERICA (wooden side-wheeler, 240 foot, 1,083 tons, built in 1847, at Port Huron, Michigan) was bound for Cleveland from Detroit. After the captain had set her course and gone to bed, the 2nd mate changed the course to the north. The 1st and 2nd mates disagreed about the course and as they awoke the captain, the ship ran aground near Point Pelee, Ontario. Wave action reduced the vessel to rubble but no lives were lost.

On 5 April 1879, the 3-mast wooden schooner RESUMPTION was launched at the Wolf & Davidson yard in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Her dimensions were 143 foot x 29 foot x 10 feet, 294 gross tons, 279 net tons.

April 5, 1962, the tanker ROBERT W. STEWART was renamed b.) AMOCO MICHIGAN, The WILLIAM P. COWAN was renamed b.) AMOCO ILLINOIS, the EDWARD G. SEUBERT was renamed b.) AMOCO WISCONSIN and the RED CROWN was renamed b.) AMOCO INDIANA, after being transferred from Standard Oil Company in a sale to the American Oil Company for $10 for each ship. Each ship traded in their names and their well known red superstructure for a typical white paint job instead which stuck with them until their end. The only change came to the AMOCO INDIANA when she traded in her black hull for the blue paint of c.) MEDUSA CONQUEST, d.) SOUTHDOWN CONQUEST, e.) CEMEX CONQUEST and f.) ST MARYS CONQUEST. She operates today as a self - unloading cement barge.

Data from: Steve Haverty, Max Hanley, Joe Barr, Dave Swayze, Father Dowling Collection and the Historical Collections of the Great Lakes, Bowling Green State University, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series.


Deer narrowly escapes collision with icebreaker Mackinaw

4/4 - Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. - Call it a case of a near ship-deer accident. Crewmembers of the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Mackinaw stared in disbelief from the ship’s bridge during icebreaking operations last week in the Upper St. Marys River when a deer narrowly escaped being run down by the vessel.

The incident occurred near West Neebish Island while the ship was clearing ice at Rock Cut, a passage charted at only 238 feet of width from shore to shore with much less in the channel where the Mackinaw had already made one icebreaking pass.

“Four deer came out to cross on the ice just ahead of us,” said Ensign David Lieberman, who was at the helm and driving the Mackinaw. “One of them moved ahead of the others and fell through the brash ice that we had cut earlier, and struggled to get out. It fell back in once, then climbed out again only to fall back through the ice.”

Lieberman said that Cmdr. Scott Smith ordered him to reduce speed, but crewmembers realized there was not time to avoid running down the deer just ahead of the ship’s bow.

“We slowed down, but the Mackinaw can’t stop just like that,” Liberman explained. “The Captain just wanted to give the deer a chance to get away but it was still trying to cross the channel. We couldn’t go anywhere to either side due to shallow water depth.”

On the third try, the doe made it out and began running parallel and ahead of the ship, with the three remaining deer watching from the other side of the channel.

“Up ahead we saw it try to cross back to the others and it didn’t break through at that spot, so she made it,” Lieberman said.

“That deer was really running, it may not have even touched the ice on the trip back across,” Smith added in jest.

Ironically, both Smith and Lieberman were involved in car-deer accidents last fall after arriving to join the Mackinaw.

Smiths occurred on northbound I-75 and cost more than $4,000 in damage. Lieberman’s bill ran $9,800 on his new vehicle after he hit a deer on U.S. 27 south of Cheboygan. “It always seems to happen when I’m driving,” Lieberman joked.

The Sault Ste Marie Evening News


Coast Guard responds to submerged dredge barge near St. Joseph

4/4 - St. Joseph, Mich. – U.S. Coast Guard Sector Field Office Grand Haven and Station St. Joseph responded to the partially submerged dredge barge Alconon, Friday, in the St. Joseph River at approximately 10 a.m.

The barge was reported to be leaking oil with small visible sheen in the water.

Responders were not able to identify any areas of recoverable oil. A sheen was observed from Pier 33 to the CSX railroad bridge. The source of the spill has been contained with no new reports of oil in the water.

The owner of the Alconon has a crane on scene stabilizing the dredge, while environmental and salvage contractors utilized a vacuum truck to remove and recover the water in the dredge.

The dredge is now re-floated with no visible damage. It is believed the dredge sank due to a rise in the water level coupled with a portion of the dredge pipe getting caught between the dredge and the pier.

“Mariners in the area are to proceed with caution as the dredge line is still in the water and unlighted,” said Jon Grob, Sector Lake Michigan's Chief of Waterways Management.



Madeline Island ferry begins 2009 season

4/4 - The Madeline Island Ferry Lines ferry Island Queen will leave the dock in Bayfield, Wisc., at 10 a.m. this morning in an attempt to open navigation to Madeline Island. The opening of ferry service will put an end to one of the best ice crossings in recent years.

A very cold December ended ferry service on New Year’s Day, the earliest stop since 1990. The Town of La Pointe’s windsled service ran for about a week before the first light vehicles ventured across the 2-1/2 mile channel. The official opening of the Town of La Pointe- maintained ice road was Jan. 18 and it was uninterrupted until March 18 when a large crack opened on the Bayfield side. The town continued to operate its van service until the following Monday when the windsled resumed. The closing of the road marked a better-than-average 60-day season.

Strong currents generated by northeast winds in the last week significantly eroded ice thickness in the channel, although the windsled has been maintaining its scheduled trips across the 2-1/2 mile channel. Snowmobiles continued to cross to Bayfield yesterday, although one machine with two persons aboard had a harrowing trip as they attempted to cross to the west of the open bar at Point de Froid.

The ferry trip, which normally takes about 20 minutes, will probably take three hours or better. The last half mile on the island side will probably be tough going as strong southwest winds near the end of December had packed deep ice at west end of the island. The windsled will make its scheduled runs this morning, and the ferry will take over in the afternoon.


Major stone shipper calls for more dredging on Lakes

4/4 - Toledo, Ohio – Using the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund for its intended purpose will end the dredging crisis on the Great Lakes, declared a leading stone shipper at a briefing for the Great Lakes delegation in Washington, D.C. on April 2 hosted by Great Lakes Maritime Task Force. “We need approximately $200 million to clear the dredging backlog on the Great Lakes,” said Thomas Buck, President and Chief Executive Officer of Carmeuse Lime & Stone. “The fund collects $1.1 billion annually, but only spends $700 million. That leaves a surplus of nearly $5 billion. It’s time to put the TRUST back in the Trust Fund.”

Carmeuse Lime & Stone operates three large stone quarries that ship via the Great Lakes. In 2008, those quarries loaded 14 million tons of aggregate and fluxstone into Great Lakes freighters. Buck used a sampling of vessel loadings to illustrate the negative impacts of the dredging crisis on Carmeuse. “In June, a vessel with a designed carrying capacity of 28,300 net tons left our plant in Calcite, Michigan, with only a little more than 24,000 tons in her holds. The dredging crisis cost us nearly15 percent of the vessel’s carrying capacity.”

Another vessel left Carmeuse’s Cedarville, Mich., quarry with more than 4,400 tons of carrying capacity unused.

The reason vessels cannot carry full loads is decades of inadequate funding for dredging. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers estimates it needs $200 million to restore the Great Lakes navigation system to functional dimensions.

The Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund is the depository for a Federal tax levied on shipping. It has been in effect since 1987.

Buck projected the dredging crisis costs Carmeuse almost two million tons of cargo each year. “The same number of vessels needed to deliver Carmeuse’s annual tonnage could deliver another 1.9 million tons of limestone and another 50,000 tons of kiln fuel if Great Lakes ports and waterways were properly dredged.”

Buck dismissed the higher water levels expected on the Great Lakes this year as any kind of solution to the dredging crisis. “The higher water levels will mitigate only a small percentage of the problem. The increases in water levels will be measured in inches, whereas vessels are losing feet of draft.”

Buck stressed the efficiencies of Great Lakes shipping are even more important today given the struggling economy. “The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recently determined that Great Lakes shipping annually saves its customers $3.6 billion in transportation costs versus land-based modes. The potential savings would be much greater if the Lakes were dredged to functional dimensions.”

“Great Lakes shipping is also the most environmentally-friendly mode of transportation,” said Buck. “Ships use less fuel and produce lower emissions than trains and trucks. That’s important to Carmeuse, and in line with our efforts to find cleaner ways to run the business. We are currently using bio-diesel in much of our mobile equipment, and have modified some of our lime kilns to accommodate bio-fuels.”

Carmeuse is a major economic force in the region. It has almost 2,500 employees in North America, with 800 at Lakes operations. Payroll taxes alone top $13 million a year. Buck closed by re-emphasizing there is a solution to the dredging crisis. “Congress must use the Harbor Maintenance Trust for its intended purpose – fund dredging on the Lakes and other U.S. waterways. Again, it’s time to put the TRUST back in the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund.”

Great Lakes Maritime Task Force


Port Reports - April 4

Duluth, Minn. – Al Miller
Edgar B. Speer left its layup berth overnight Thursday to load at the CN ore dock in Duluth. It was expected to depart Friday. John G. Munson also was expected to depart layup late Friday to load pellets for Conneaut. James R. Barker was back at Midwest Energy Terminal on Friday loading coal for Presque Isle. USCGC Mackinaw arrived through Superior Entry in late morning. The vessel will dock in Duluth, ready to handle any problems that arise from drifting ice. The pace at Midwest Energy Terminal is expected to pick up Saturday, with Paul R. Tregurtha, Mesabi Miner and Gordon C. Leitch all scheduled to load. St. Clair, American Victory and Kaye E. Barker remain in Fraser Shipyards in indefinite layup. The rest of the winter fleet consists of Indiana Harbor, docked at the Duluth port terminal, and American Spirit, docked in Superior. There’s no word yet on when they might return to service, but the Indiana Harbor is on the schedule at Midwest Energy Terminal to load April 14.

Alpena, Mich. - Ben & Chanda McClain
Gale force winds along with driving rain mixed with snow kept the Alpena anchored in Thunder Bay (off Alpena) throughout the day. Gusty winds prevailed at nightfall so it was unknown when the Alpena would make its way into port to dock at Lafarge.

Hamilton, Ont. - Eric Holmes Thursday the Ocean Group tug Omni Richelieu departed at 5 a.m. for Clarkson to help the Laguna D dock at Petro Canada. She returned to Hamilton at 9:30 a.m. The McKeil tugs Molly M and Wyatt M arrived at 8 a.m. from Toronto. They then departed for Toronto at 9:30 a.m.

Toronto, Ont. - Charlie Gibbons
McKeil's harbor tugs Molly M. 1 and Wyatt McKeil turned Canadian Leader at the Redpath slip Thursday morning. Friday the tugs were at Port Weller. Hamilton Energy came into port just after 7 p.m. and bunkered the Leader. This is the second trip in for the Energy, which came over from Hamilton on Tuesday to bunker Algocape before it got underway for the season. Hamilton Energy departed before 10 p.m., most likely for Hamilton, and it is expected that when the raw sugar is off-loaded from the Leader, it will start it's season.


Toronto Marine Historical Society holds annual auction

4/4 - Toronto, Ont. – The Toronto Marine Historical Society announces its 12th Annual Silent Auction. In addition to the usual books and other printed matter this year's auction has artifacts from Great Lakes freighters plus several authentic ships' plans produced by various ship yards. Proceeds from the auction go to further the work of T.M.H.S. details

David Bull


Updates - April 4

News Photo Gallery

Public Gallery updated


Today in Great Lakes History - April 4

04 April 1903 The first steamer to pass upbound through the Straits of Mackinac was the LUZON (steel propeller bulk freighter, 353 foot 3,582 gross tons, built in 1902 at Chicago, Illinois). She was heavily coated with ice, even to the top of the pilot house due to fighting a gale on Lake Huron.

On 04 April 1908, ALEXIS W THOMPSON (steel propeller bulk freighter, 504 foot, 6,437 gross tons) was launched by West Bay City Shipbuilding Co. (Hull #625) at W. Bay City, Michigan for Valley Steamship Co. (W.H. Becker, Mgr.). She lasted until 1962, when she was towed to Hamilton, Ontario for scrapping by Steel Co. of Canada, Ltd.

The keel was laid at Bay Shipbuilding, Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin on April 4, 1978, for the Columbia Transportation Div., Oglebay Norton Co.'s, FRED R WHITE JR (Hull#722).

Sea trials of the tanker ROBERT W STEWART (Hull#802) of American Shipbuilding Co., Lorain, Ohio were run on April 4, 1928. Renamed b.) AMOCO MICHIGAN in 1962. She was sold off the lakes in 1969, renamed c.) SHUKHEIR. Scrapped in Egypt in 1989.

WILLIAM C. ATWATER (Hull#249) was launched on April 4, 1925, by the Great Lakes Engineering Works, for the Wilson Transit Co. Renamed b.) E J KULAS in 1936, c.) BEN MOREELL in 1953, d.) THOMAS E MILLSOP in 1955. Sold Canadian in 1976, renamed e.) E J NEWBERRY and f.) CEDARGLEN 1981. Scrapped at Port Maitland, Ontario in 1994.

FRED G HARTWELL (Hull#112) was launched April 4, 1908, by the Toledo Shipbuilding Co., for the Mutual Steamship Co., G. A. Tomlinson, mgr. Renamed b.) HARRY W CROFT in 1917. Scrapped at Santander, Spain in 1969.

Interlake Steamship's E G GRACE became the first Maritimer to be sold for scrap when she was aquired by Marine Salvage on April 4, 1984.

JEAN-TALON was launched April 4, 1936, as a.) FRANQUELIN (Hull#1517) by Swan, Hunter and Wigham Richardson Ltd. for the Quebec and Ontario Transportation Co. Ltd.

The harbor tug and fire boat EDNA G was launched April 4, 1896, by the Cleveland Ship Building Co., as (Hull#25), for the Duluth, Missabe & Iron Range Railroad Co.

On April 4, 1983, and on April 4, 1984, the WILLIAM CLAY FORD, opened the inter-lake shipping season at Duluth, Minnesota. While the WILLIAM CLAY FORD was traditionally among the first vessels to visit Duluth-Superior, it was coincidence that she opened the port on the same day during her last two seasons in service.

On 4 April 1872, the schooner JOHN WESLEY was launched from Bailey's yard at Toledo, Ohio. She was built for Skidmore & Abairs. She was classed as a full sized canaller and cost $22,000.

On 4 April 1881, the last two vessels of the Northern Transit Company, CHAMPLAIN and LAWRENCE, were sold to D. H. Day & Company of Grand Haven, Michigan.

Data from: Joe Barr, Dave Swayze , Jody Aho, Father Dowling Collection, Ahoy & Farewell II, the Historical Collections of the Great Lakes, Bowling Green State University and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series.


Michigan Senate pushes for full funding of new Soo lock

4/3 - Lansing, Mich. - The Michigan Senate Tuesday approved a resolution urging the U.S. Congress and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to fully fund the expansion of the shipping locks at Sault Ste. Marie, said Sen. Jason Allen, who sponsored the measure. “The locks are of the utmost importance to Michigan’s economy and play a critical role in our national defense,” said Allen, R-Traverse City. “More than 80 millions tons of iron ore, clean burning low-sulfur coal, wheat and other cargo pass through the Soo locks every year.”

Allen, who chairs the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee, said expansion of the Soo locks is needed to avoid a crippling disruption of shipping. “Currently, only one lock is large enough to accommodate the massive U.S. freighters that carry the majority of cargo on the Great Lakes,” Allen said. “If the Poe Lock, now 40 years old, suddenly became unusable, 70 percent of the cargo would be unable to pass through the locks and Great Lakes shipping would come to a standstill.”

Congress first authorized an expansion of the Soo locks in 1986 and further authorized full federal support of the project in 2007. Despite these authorizations and nearly $15 million in federal spending on planning, design and preparation, Congress has yet to provide full funding for the lock.

“Time is of the essence,” Allen said. “A new Poe-sized lock is shovel-ready and would generate thousands of needed jobs and nearly $500 million in economic activity. Expanding the Soo locks would create an immediate stimulus to our struggling economy and ensure the free flow of vital raw materials for generations to come.”

Soo Today


Port Reports - April 3

Duluth, Minn. – Al Miller
The Twin Ports layup fleet continues to trickle back to work. Edward L. Ryerson was fueling Wednesday but apparently decided to delay its departure until the Lee A. Tregurtha and Alpena had cleared the ice jam outside the Duluth entry. The Ryerson loaded on Thursday and departed that night for Hamilton, Ont. The Edwin H. Gott departed Duluth about mid-morning Thursday, bound for Two Harbors. By early afternoon, John G. Munson appeared to be ready to leave its layup berth at the Duluth port terminal.

Sturgeon Bay, Wisc. - Jeff Birch
The Paul R. Tregurtha sailed from Bay Ship Thursday evening. The Mesabi Miner followed her a short time later. Both footers departed through the ship canal as the lower portion of the bay of Green Bay is ice covered. Wilfred Sykes still has steam up, although she has not singled lines or housed the anchors yet.

Goderich, Ont. - Jonathan Stuparyk
Agawa Canyon came in at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday night for a load of salt and left around 8 a.m. The Frontenac departed lay-up at about 5:30 p.m. Thursday night, Cuyahoga is in at the elevators for a load of grain.

Toledo, Ohio - David Patch
The Maumee paid a visit to her namesake river on Thursday. She unloaded salt from Cleveland at the Arms Dock just north of the Veterans' Glass City Skyway (I-280 bridge). Among the Lower Lakes boats, the Maumee has been a relatively rare visitor to Toledo, with sisters Saginaw and Cuyahoga making more frequent appearances here in past seasons.

Hamilton, Ont. - John McCreery
At last the season seems underway. The Federal Schelde, the port's first saltie, arrived at pier 14 Thursday morning. She was followed in at noon by the Canadian Transport arriving from Toledo with coal. The Transport will unload at Dofasco and then depart in ballast for Sandusky, Ohio. She is not the first commercial arrival of the season as the unannounced Diamond Star was already in port.

Toronto, Ont. - Charlie Gibbons
English River returned to port early Wednesday and unloaded. She departed just after 7 p.m.


Port Colborne welcomes new season with own top hat ceremony

4/3 - Port Coborne, Ont.  - The ice parted and the sun shone down on the Welland Canal Tuesday as the first downbound vessel travelled through Port Colborne, kicking off the shipping season and the 50th anniversary of the St. Lawrence Seaway.  Moving from Nanticoke to Montreal, Algoma Central Marine's Algoeast came through Port Colborne carrying roughly 9,000 tonnes of fuel oil, said Capt. Dennis Keating.

The occasion was celebrated first with a free breakfast and presentation at the visitor's information centre, and then with the official top hat ceremony at Lock 8. Jean Aubry-Morin, St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp. acting vice-president, said the seaway is "a part of our everyday life."  The seaway is a "crucial footprint of our present and our future, but it leans on a past that is fairly full of memories for every one of you," he said to the crowd that filled the information centre.  "When we look at 50 years of the St. Lawrence Seaway, it's part of a greater heritage that is the 180 years of the Welland Canal."

Aubry-Morin said the canal has been "driving the economy in the midlake and upperlake" areas for much longer than the seaway. The history and effort behind making the first 50 years a success "will be the base of our future," he said. He said it's important the seaway helps to support the community, giving it the ability to grow financially and prosper.

Although there may be economic difficulties this year, he said the community needs to "look beyond that" and to the investments made in the marine transportation industry.

WestPier Marine and Industrial Supply Inc. corporate controller Rick Huneault said "even in these trying times ... there's a bright future ahead for marine transportation." He said the company which sponsored the top hat ceremony for the fourth year "looks forward to growing with the marine industry." 

In the past 50 years, the seaway, from Montreal to Lake Erie area, has moved more than 2.3 billion tonnes of cargo worth an estimated value of $350 billion, Huneault said. Last year alone, 40.8 million tonnes of cargo went through the seaway in about 3,300 vessels in transit.

Port Colborne Mayor Vance Badawey called Port Colborne "a transportation hub."  "The city has available to it all business that comes into the community through all methods of transportation.  "It is in fact where rail meets water, road, air, as well as being strategically located," he said. Badawey said there is an abundant amount of serviced land available for development along the Welland Canal.

Throughout the past, residents have "celebrated the heritage of our canal because it has been the lifeblood of Port Colborne, it has been what's built Port Colborne," he said.  It's important the canal continues to be "what Port Colborne is all about as a port." Badawey said the city's success relies on ensuring businesses that locate in Port Colborne "have the ability to transport goods globally, utilizing the Welland Canal in tandem with rail, road and air."

He said that "44% of the North American market is within one day's drive" of the city. "Having that with the amenities and infrastructure available relative to transportation does strategically locate business here. "There's no question, today's opening is exciting for the City of Port Colborne and the region of Niagara."

Welland Tribune


Shipbuilder keeps eye on new icebreaker bill

4/3 - Green Bay, Wisc. – Fincantieri Marine Group – which operates Marinette Marine Corp. and Bay Shipbuilding Co. – is closely watching federal legislation introduced last week seeking construction of a new Great Lakes icebreaker.

"We were absolutely thrilled to see (the legislation) come in, and we're following it with great interest," said Bob Herre, president and chief executive officer of the Fincantieri Marine Group based out of Green Bay. "It's really in its infancy, so I hope it can carry, but we'll see."

Marinette Marine built the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw. Delivered in 2006, the ship was a state-of-the-art replacement for the former Mackinaw that served on the Great Lakes for more than 60 years. The company will pursue the work if it comes to fruition, Herre said.

"We'll go after it strongly," he said Monday morning. "We do have a leg up … in terms of understanding the cost and having an established reputation with the Coast Guard." The legislation, which authorizes $153 million for the ship, was introduced by Rep. James L. Oberstar, D-Minn.

"People who are not from the Great Lakes region probably do not realize that there is ice on the lakes and their interconnecting channels from early December until April," says Oberstar's Web site. "Some years, the Coast Guard has been breaking ice in the St. Marys River until mid-May. Think of these icebreakers as the snow plows for Great Lakes shipping. It is the federal government's responsibility to keep these marine highways open so the needs of the public can be met."

The legislation has drawn support from a coalition of port and shipping officials around the region.

"The Great Lakes are in desperate need of another modern icebreaker," Don Cree, president of Great Lakes Maritime Task Force and president of the Toledo (Ohio) Port Council, said in a release issued Monday morning. "Most of the U.S. Coast Guard's icebreaking assets are nearing the end of their productive lives. As a result, freighters have been experiencing significant delays and even suffering extensive damage."

Damage last spring cost U.S.-flagged vessels about $1.3 million in repairs, he said. Herre doesn't know how long it could take for the governmental approval. "It'll take a while to develop, but the first step is to find the funding to do it," he said. The company can react quickly to an order, though some of the key parts — including the ship's movable propulsion system — have a long order time.

"Building another one would be pretty straightforward," said Richard McCreary, president, chief executive office and general manager at Marinette Marine. "The engineering is all done, and the Coast Guard may want to make some changes … but it would be a very easy program to turn on. I think we would be highly competitive."

What happens next will depend on congressional action. Last week the Navy announced Marinette Marine will build another Littoral Combat Ship, the USS Fort Worth.

The U.S. Coast Guard also ordered another 30 medium response boats last week, McCreary said. They now have 66 boats on contract, and the company delivered the eighth vessel to the Coast Guard last week.

Those vessels are being built in Green Bay and at a sister facility in Washington.

Green Bay Press Gazette


Short-sea strategy in works for St. Lawrence Seaway?

4/3 - Some investment and shipper needs may add up to a short-sea strategy for the St. Lawrence Seaway.

Jonathan Daniels, the director of the Port of Oswego on Lake Ontario, is discussing the possibility of feeder service from the ports of Montreal or Halifax, or the $300 million Melford International Terminal that’s expected to open in 2011 on Nova Scotia’s Strait of Canso.

The notion of shuttling containers into the Great Lakes to avoid congested East Coast ports has been a long-held goal for the ports on either side of the border of the lakes.

Many look to the region as an area where short-sea shipping is likely to blossom whenever the combination of highway gridlock, punishing fuel prices and the benefits of green transportation convince shippers the marine highway is the right way to move their goods.

That day hasn’t arrived despite the efforts of short sea’s biggest boosters. But the prospect seems close enough that Daniels is willing to put money on the line. The fiscal 2009 federal budget Congress approved this month includes a line item — yes, an earmark — of $237,000 for Oswego to improve connector roads and security for its terminal. That will be followed by a $2 million investment to build and equip a 15-acre container facility.

“I would be surprised if we do not see the first shipment of containers here in the next 365 days,” Daniels said. Last year’s surge in fuel prices got shippers thinking, he said. “We found that shippers of cargo moving to end-users in the Oswego area, that were not using the port, all of a sudden found that waterborne transportation was more cost-effective,” Daniels said.

To say there’s room for short-sea feeder service to grow on the Great Lakes is an extreme understatement. According to St. Lawrence Seaway Management, the Canadian company that manages the Canadian portion of the Seaway, container shipping is barely visible in the mountains of coal, grain, steel, stone and other bulk commodities that fill Great Lakes carriers.

In 2007, the management company said ocean and lake ships moved 23,377 metric tons of containers on the lower reaches of the Seaway that connects Montreal and Lake Ontario. Beyond the Welland Canal into Lake Erie, however, container traffic plunged to 871 metric tons. When it computes the capacity of its ships, Maersk estimates an average container weighs 14 tons. Do the math, and the containers that sailed into Lake Ontario would barely fill a 10th of the Emma Maersk’s container cells.

Daniels said he understands the impediments to developing a short-sea industry on the lakes. For starters, the Seaway closes for the winter. Traditionally, January and February are slow shipping seasons, but for shippers that need year-round service, there have to be alternatives.

“Your shipper or forwarder understands that it’s a full logistics package that may not be waterborne 12 months out of the year. There may be transit by rail or truck,” Daniels said. “It’s up to the shipper; there has to be a significant value proposition with an understanding of the limitations.”

This winter, Oswego is receiving cargo that would be a candidate for water movement during the warmer months. The port is receiving aluminum stock by rail, storing it in the port warehouse and loading it on trucks for delivery to a local company that manufactures sheet aluminum for beverage cans it delivers by truck.

Although a feeder system that lands containers in Oswego, Cleveland or Detroit would give shippers access to Midwest markets, it’s not for everyone, Daniels said. “If you’re a shipper who’s getting cargo just-in-time, certainly there’s an adjustment that needs to be made,” he said. There’s additional time in transit, the added transit time for feeder service into the Great Lakes from an East Coast port, but it compares well with cargo that lands on the West Coast and moves across Canada by rail.

“A lot of shippers are looking for what alternatives are out there, so they’re not dependent on one form of transportation,” Daniels said. “Diesel prices have come back down, but shippers are saying they need to have a full logistics plan in place, an integrated plan that they can put into action any time.”

The Journal of Commerce


Clean-up of Fox River near Green Bay expected to begin

4/3 - Green Bay, Wisc. - It will be one of, if not the, largest river cleanup projects going on in the country. Cleanup crews will spend nine years working to remove harmful chemicals that are sitting on the bottom of the Fox River.

The project targets a 13-mile stretch of the river between Little Rapids Dam in De Pere north to the mouth of the river in Green Bay. The whole goal of the cleanup project is to remove PCBs (Polychlorinated Biphenyls) from the river. PCBs are chemical byproducts of papermaking that were dumped right into the water for more than 20 years.

"According to the milestones of the goals of the project, it is to reduce the levels of PCBs to one-part per million or lower," Scott Stein, a spokesperson for the Fox River Cleanup Project, said. In the 1950s, 60s and 70s. papermakers dumped an estimated 30 million gallons of PCBs into the water, according to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. The man-made chemicals have been linked to cancer.

In coming weeks a major effort to remove the PCBs will start. It is being paid for by the three companies the EPA said is responsible for the majority of the chemical pollution: Georgia Pacific, Appleton Paper and NCR.

"We're going to be removing the material from the bottom of the river and pumping through all the booster locations to the main facility," Greg Smith, a project manager from Brennan Construction, said.

The plan includes dredging more than 28-million gallons of sludge. It will be processed at a facility in Green Bay -- with the water eventually returning to the river and the contaminated sediment ending up in a landfill in Calumet County.

Fox 11


New Nova Scotia – Newfoundland ferry enters service

4/3 - Halifax, N.S. – The biggest ferry to sail into Port aux Basques Harbor will make its maiden voyage tonight. The Atlantic Vision should leave the North Sydney terminal on its first official trip at 11:30 p.m., a spokeswoman for Marine Atlantic said Monday.

All of the test crossings between Nova Scotia and Newfoundland have gone smoothly, Tara Laing said of the crews’ training.

There had been some speculation that the larger vessel would not fit into Port aux Basques Harbor.

"We did hear public sentiments about that," Laing said. "We never did have any concern, based on all the studies we had done and our due diligence before we ever actually contracted this vessel to come over."

The fancier ferry will boast a spa, fine dining restaurant and a buffet. But passengers will have to wait to treat themselves to a spa session, because Marine Atlantic has not yet hired those crew members.

The new ship can carry 531 cars or a mix of cars and commercial vehicles, about 50 per cent more vehicles on board than its counterparts, the MV Caribou and the MV Joseph and Clara Smallwood, the corporations website says. The 231-metre-long vessel has four propulsion engines and can cruise at up to 50 km/h. It can carry more than 700 passengers.

Tallink, an Estonian firm, owns the vessel. It had been running between Estonia and Helsinki, Finland.

The rest of Marine Atlantics fleet has had to rely on help from Canadian Coast Guard icebreakers to deal with the pack ice that has built up around the Nova Scotia shoreline this winter.

"Winter 2009 has been a challenging year for us with respect to ice conditions," Ms. Laing said. "We've had significant coverage through the gulf. However, our vessels performed very well given the conditions."

The Halifax Herald


U.S. plans 'virtual fence' to assess Canada border

4/3 - Washington, D.C. – The U.S. government is moving a "virtual fence" to the border with Canada, testing technology aimed at detecting terrorists and drug traffickers.

The Department of Homeland Security announced Tuesday $30 million for a series of remote-camera towers at 16 sites near Detroit and Buffalo, N.Y. That includes $10 million already spent on technology and $20 million in work for Boeing Co., which also has been trying to develop a reliable virtual-fence for the U.S. border with Mexico.

The results of the initial rollout are expected to help answer questions about the usefulness of the technology and the danger the U.S. faces along the 4,000-mile border with its northern neighbor. Officials said they will use the information to decide how much of the total $8 billion in virtual-fence spending should be dedicated to the northern border.

As of earlier this year, Boeing had received nearly $1 billion for border-technology work focused on the Southwest U.S. That project has faced numerous hurdles, technical and otherwise. The Government Accountability Office, an independent investigative agency, has cited delays and cost increases.

"We recognize that there's a vulnerability [in the north]," said Mark Borkowski, who heads the project for the government. He said the key question facing policy makers is whether that vulnerability is being exploited "in a way that presents a serious risk."

The government's main security concern along the border with Canada is the possibility that terrorists could slip undetected into the U.S. There are also concerns about drug trafficking and human trafficking.

"We don't think there's a flood, but there may be a trickle," Mr. Borkowski said, adding that the $30 million project will "help us get a much clearer sense of what's going on."

Each technological outpost typically will include two sophisticated daytime cameras and two night-vision cameras. The cameras will point in each direction, giving agents and analysts a wide view of activity on both sides of the border.

Eleven of the northern outposts will be installed in the Detroit area, largely along the banks of the St. Clair River and the adjoining Lake St. Clair, which is just a few miles northeast of Detroit. The waterways separate Michigan from the Canadian province of Ontario. Five others are planned for the banks of the Niagara River in New York.

Officials expect the work to be done by the end of the year.

Wall Street Journal


Updates - April 3

News Photo Gallery

Public Gallery updated


Today in Great Lakes History - April 3

On 03 April 1969, RALPH MISENER (steel propeller bulk freighter, 730 foot, 19,160 gross tons, built in 1967, at Montreal, Quebec) suffered serious fire damage to her engine room during fit-out at Port Colborne, Ontario. She sails today as b.) GORDON C LEITCH.

On April 3, 1991, the pilothouse of the WILLIAM CLAY FORD of 1953, was moved by a barge towed by Gaelic tug's CAROLYN HOEY and placed on a specially built foundation at the Dossin Museum for display facing the Detroit River as a fully equipped pilot house.

The tanker a.) TEMBLADOR (Hull#15) of the Barnes Ð Duluth Shipbuilding Co., was launched April 3, 1943, for the Creole Petroleum Corp, for off lakes use. She later sailed on the lakes as b.) LIQUILASSIE

On 3 April 1872, the passenger/package freight steam barge ROBERT HOLLAND was launched at Marine City, Michigan. She was towed to Detroit by the propeller TRADER to have her machinery installed.

On 3 April 1876, the Port Huron Times reported "The wreck of the schooner HARMONICA, which has been missing for a month or more, has been discovered on the beach near Whitehall, Michigan completely buried in the ice. Four are supposed to have perished."

On 3 April 1894, WILLIAM H BARNUM (wooden propeller freighter, 219 foot, 937 gross tons, built in 1873, at Detroit, Michigan) was carrying corn on her first trip of the season. She was reportedly in poor condition and was insured only for this voyage. Her hull was cut by floating ice and she sank in the Straits of Mackinac about two miles east of present Mackinac Bridge. The tug CRUSADER got her crew off before she sank.

Data from: Joe Barr, Dave Swayze, Father Dowling Collection and the Historical Collections of the Great Lakes, Bowling Green State University, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series.



Ice causes delay outside Duluth

4/2 -  Duluth, Minn – Wednesday evening shifting winds and the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Alder freed the Lee A. Tregurtha who had been trapped in an ice field off Duluth.

Lee A. Tregurtha became beset in ice at approximately 10:40 a.m. just outside the Duluth ship canal. She is on her first trip of the season to Two Harbors, Minn.

Gale force winds pushed the ice in western Lake Superior into an area outside of the Duluth-Superior Harbor Entrances. The ice was reported to be approximately two to three feet thick extending from the shores of Minnesota to Wisconsin, six miles north into Lake Superior.

The Duluth based Coast Guard Cutter Alder had been on scene most of the day working to free the Tregurtha. As the afternoon progressed, the Coast Guard Cutter Biscayne Bay and Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw were called to help.

Mackinaw departed the Soo but returned once the Lee A. was freed. Biscayne Bay departed Thunder Bay westbound.

USCG and Jerry Masson


No summer shutdowns for Cliffs

4/2 -  Cleveland, Ohio – Cliffs Natural Resources has announced that its Michigan operations will increase its previously announced annual production by more than 600,000 additional tons for 2009.

The additional production will bring the total projected production in Michigan for 2009 to approximately 7.3 million tons of iron ore pellets.

Donald J. Gallagher, president of Cliffs’ North American Business Unit said, “While this news is positive, it is still only a small step in the direction of getting back to normal operating levels. We still see continuing challenges ahead for the iron and steel industry in 2009.”

The additional tonnage will eliminate the need for previously announced summer production shutdowns at the Empire and Tilden mines.



Essar project moving forward

4/2 -  The Iron Range got mixed messages in March regarding the status of the proposed $1.7 billion Essar Steel Minnesota mining to steel making project slated for Nashwauk. While media reported difficulties, and a possible hold on the project expected to employ nearly 500 once fully operational, Essar executives in Hibbing say that the project is still on track.

Early in the month, reports surfaced that India-based Essar had revealed difficulty in obtaining the financing needed to move the project forward. Site and prep work was being internally financed, according to reports. Then, in late March, regional media began to speculate the project was on hold, following a news item that appeared in an online news source, The Hindu Business Line.

The Hindu Business Line reported March 21 that Essar Group Chairman, Shashi Ruia, said Essar Steel Minnesota as well as other Essar project developments - was on hold until some clarity emerges on demand. His remarks were made at the inauguration of Essar Steels service center facility in Oragadam, in southern India.

Debra McGovern, government and public affairs director, said she was unsure of what prompted Ruias comments or in what context they may have been made. However, she said they were moving forward on all fronts.

McGovern said a press release from Essars headquarters is expected clarifying our commitment to the project. She added that Essar Steel Minnesota still has a forward moving catalyst the need to supply taconite and steel slabs to the integrated Algoma mill in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. We (Essar Steel Minnesota) are so critical to the success of Algoma, she said.

Currently, Algoma is buying taconite on the open market, some of which is coming from the Empire and Tilden mines located in Michigans upper peninsula. The integration of utilizing iron and steel from within the company represents a potential major cost reduction in raw materials, said McGovern.

Company timelines project taconite pellets would be produced by 2011, DRI by 2013 and steel slabs by 2014.

Business North


Port Reports - April 2

Duluth, Minn – Al Miller
Lee A. Tregurtha departed layup at Fraser Shipyards on Wednesday morning but became stuck in packed ice on Lake Superior not far outside the Duluth ship canal. By mid-morning the USCGC Alder was under way to assist the laker. The Tregurtha is bound for Two Harbors. Ironically, the western tip of Lake Superior was largely free of ice all winter, but recent spring gales have pushed floating ice into the area. Also Wednesday, Walter J. McCarthy Jr. was completing its load at Midwest Energy Terminal and Edwin H. Gott appeared to be getting ready to depart its layup berth bound for Two Harbors. Edward L. Ryerson departed her winter lay-up dock and fueled at Murphy Fuel. She was expected to load on Thursday.

Marquette, Mich. – Rod Burdick
Wednesday afternoon at the Upper Harbor the James R. Barker unloaded the first coal cargo of the season. The tug Joyce L. VanEnkevort and barge Great Lakes Trader arrived to load ore. After being relatively clear of ice, heavy winds pushed ice back into the Upper Harbor.

Sturgeon Bay, Wisc. - Jeff Birch
St. Marys Challenger was in the graving dock, Wilfred Sykes had steam and smoke coming from her stack and appeared to be making preparations to sail. Paul R. Tregurtha also had diesel exhaust coming from her stacks.

Owen Sound, Ont. - Peter Bowers
Agawa Canyon left her winter dock at 6 a.m. Wednesday. She is the second vessel to leave, still under winter repair is the Algosteel which is due to leave on the 17th.

Cleveland, Ohio -
Wednesday the Maumee was loading salt at Akzo Whisky Island. She was expected to depart Wednesday night for Toledo.

Hamilton, Ont. -
The economic downturn has caused Dofasco Hamilton to cancel some additional iron ore deliveries this spring. The Canadian Provider which was scheduled to leave Hamilton around April 15 for Duluth for a load of iron ore will now be delayed until a later date. She was just shifted to another berth in Hamilton harbor where steel work will be completed to her ballast tanks and cross members.

Toronto, Ont. – Charlie Gibbons
Algocape departed winter lay-up and began her season early Tuesday.


120-year-old shipwreck of Joseph P. Farnan identified in Lake Michigan near South Haven

4/2 -  A Holland-based research group on Wednesday announced discovery of a shipwreck in Lake Michigan, about 17 miles west of South Haven.

Michigan Shipwreck Research Associates worked with the National Underwater and Marine Agency to identify the remains of the Joseph P. Farnan, which caught fire and sank in July 1889 while en route from St. Joseph to Escanaba.

Capt. Loren Vosburgh, his wife and 10 crewmen safely escaped, Michigan Shipwreck Research Associates, co-founder Craig Rich said.

The Grand Rapids Press


Tours resume on tug John Purves

4/2 -  The Door County Maritime Museum resumes tours of the Tug John Purves in April with an abbreviated schedule before undertaking an ambitious daily slate of docent-led tours in May.

The immaculately restored 149-foot vessel was rededicated last summer after being repositioned in front of the Sturgeon Bay museum and proved to be an extremely popular attraction once public tours began in August. Winter weather forced the tours to be discontinued, but a dedicated crew of volunteers has used the time to apply more touches to the restoration project that began in 2003. Many of those same volunteers now are members of the docent team that conduct the 40-minute tours.

Built in 1919 and christened the Butterfield, the tug has a colorful past that even included World War II duty in the Aleutian Islands. The tug made its way to Sturgeon Bay in 1956 when purchased by Roen Steamship Company. It was eventually sold, but the tug now carries the Roen colors and has been outfitted to appear much as it did while operated by Roen in the 1950’s and ‘60s. Capt. John Roen, company owner, renamed the tug in honor of his long-time employee and general manager.

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Updates - April 2

News Photo Gallery

Historical Perspective Galleries updated new gallery featuring the 1954 built Scott Misener (3)

Public Gallery updated


Today in Great Lakes History - April 2

A total of 60 ore boats departed Cleveland between March 31 and April 2 to start the 1948 shipping season.

On 02 April 1900, the JOHN MINER (wooden 3-mast schooner, 134 foot, 273 gross tons, built in 1866, at Detroit, Michigan as a bark) was purchased by S. R. Chamberlain from Frank Higgie for $800. She only lasted until 19 October 1902, when she was lost in a storm on Lake Huron.

On April 2, 1951, the CLIFFS VICTORY was towed, bound for New Orleans, Louisiana, with her deck houses, stack, propeller, rudder and above deck fittings stored on or below her spar deck for bridge clearance. She was outfitted with two 120 foot pontoons, which were built at the Baltimore yard, that were attached to her hull at the stern to reduce her draft to eight feet for passage in the shallow sections of the river/canal system.

The LEON FALK JR was launched April 2, 1945, as a.) WINTER HILL, a T2-SE-Al, World War II, single screw fuel tanker for U.S. Maritime Commission.

The CLIFFORD F HOOD was launched April 2, 1902, as the straight deck bulk freighter a.) BRANSFORD for the Bransford Transit Co., (W. A. Hawgood, mgr.).

The SENATOR OF CANADA sailed under her own power on April 2, 1985, to Toronto, Ontario where she was put into ordinary next to her fleet mate the QUEDOC. She was scrapped in Venezuela in 1986.

The WHEAT KING was lengthened by an addition of a 172 foot 6 inch mid-section (Hull #61) and received a 1,000 h.p. bow thruster. This work reportedly cost $3.8 million Canadian and was completed on April 2, 1976.

On April 2, 1953, the straight deck bulk freighter, J L MAUTHE (Hull#298) of the Great Lakes Engineering Works entered service for Interlake Steamship Co. She operates currently for Interlake as the self-unloading barge PATHFINDER.

April 2, 1975 - The State of Michigan filed a Federal Court suit to stop the Grand Trunk Railway from selling the GRAND RAPIDS. It was felt that selling the ferry would build a stronger case for abandonment of the entire ferry service.

On 2 April 1874, A H HUNTER (wooden propeller tug, 58 foot, 28 gross tons) was launched at Saginaw, Michigan. She was built for Donnelly & Clark of Saginaw by Wheeler. The engine was built by Bartlett & Co. of Saginaw. Her boiler and some other equipment were from the almost new tug KATY REID that burned at Salzburg, Michigan in October 1873.

Data from: Joe Barr, Dave Swayze, Jody Aho, Russ Plumb, Ahoy & Farewell II, Father Dowling Collection and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series


Winds pack in ice, Alder breaks free

4/1 -  Duluth, Minn. – 7:30 p.m. update - The Alder broke through the ice, freeing the Lee A. Tregurtha about 6:30 p.m. Early afternoon the wind shifted from the east to westerly helping to take some of the pressure off the ice.  U.S. Coast Guard cutter Mackinaw, who had departed the Soo to assist, returned about 7:30 p.m. About that time Biscayne Bay departed Thunder Bay westbound.

Original report- Gale force winds have pushed the ice in western Lake Superior in an area outside of the Duluth-Superior Harbor Entrances. The Coast Guard Cutter Alder, already on scene, will be joined by the Coast Guard Cutter Biscayne Bay and Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw to clear the ice and establish tracks so shipping can resume.

Overnight, strong winds drove free floating lake ice into the entrances of Duluth-Superior Harbors. Heavy snows blanketed this ice to form a solid mass approximately two to three feet thick extending from the shores of Minnesota to Wisconsin, six miles north into Lake Superior. Sailing from Duluth Harbor en route Two Harbors, Minn., the Lee A. Tregurtha became beset in ice at approximately 10:40 a.m. just outside the Duluth ship canal. The Alpena departed after the Tregurtha and became stuck behind her.

The Coast Guard Cutter Alder is currently on scene assisting the Tregurtha and will remain with them throughout the night. The Coast Guard Cutter Biscayne Bay is scheduled to arrive at first light. The Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw is expected to arrive by noon.

USCG and Jerry Masson


Gale warnings keep vessels tied to docks

4/1 -  Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. – The upbound American Mariner spent all day Tuesday tied up above the locks, delayed by gale warnings on Lake Superior. The Mariner arrived Monday on her first trip of the season, to Two Harbors, Minn. She was joined Tuesday evening by the tug Joyce L. Van Enkevort and barge Great Lakes Trader; the tug and barge locked upbound and tied up in front of the Mariner on the West Pier. In the lower St. Marys River, the tug Reliance and barge were anchored above DeTour, also waiting on weather to subside on Lake Huron before heading downbound for Detroit. Lake Superior has gale warnings in effect through Wednesday morning.

Further south, the Algomarine was anchored behind Mackinac Island on her downbound trip from Chicago.

Jason Klein


St. Lawrence Seaway starts 50th year

4/1 -  Canada Steamship's Spruceglen was the first upbound vessel to enter St. Lambert Lock shortly after noon Tuesday, opening the St. Lawrence Seaway for 2009. Before her arrival there were speeches by several dignitaries comprising of Seaway, Government ( 3 levels), Shipping company representatives, and invited guests, all under one big tent. After which the ceremony was moved outside to witness the Spruceglen entering St Lambert lock under the command of Capt. Mark Dillon and Chief Eng. Christian Pelletier. The Spruceglen is carrying USG slag (94%titanium oxide) for Ashtabula, Ohio.

Kent Malo


Montrealais opens Welland for “toughest season”

4/1 -  St. Catharines, Ont. – Graeme Cook watched the first ship of what he suspects could be the “toughest season in history” navigate the Welland Canal Tuesday.

Cook is vice-president of business development for Upper Lakes Group, the owner of the laker Montrealais that was featured in Tuesday’s traditional top hat canal-opening ceremony.

“There’s no doubt it will be a tough season,” said Cook, watching hordes of ship-lovers admire the 222-metre-long vessel headed to Thunder Bay to pick up grain.

“One of our primary markets is the steel industry, and the recession has just hammered them.” Cook said it’s too early to predict how much business may drop this year for Upper Lakes, but noted the recession has left many of its regular customers “uncommitted.”

Acting vice-president Jean Aubry-Morin said the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp. is expecting traffic to be down this year, but “hopefully less than 10 per cent.” About 40 million tonnes of cargo moved through the seaway in each of the last two years.

Despite the recession, Aubry-Morin said the Seaway is trying to grow its business through “aggressive marketing” and technological improvements. For example, the corporation is using radar to test the possibility of passing heavier ships with increased drafts through the canal.

Environmental groups continue to call for stricter laws in Canada and the U.S. to prevent invasive species from entering the lake via the seaway. But Aubry-Morin said new ballast water-management practices introduced in 2008 are working. He argued the seaway is one of the most environmentally-friendly forms of transportation, especially in terms of fuel use.

“No other mode of transportation moves cargo as efficiently as marine,” he said. Cook agreed, noting the Montrealais is capable of moving 800 truck loads of grain in one trip.

He also sees the environment as a business-builder. Upper Lakes bought a ship last fall designed to carry “project cargo” like wind turbine components. It’s maiden voyage has been delayed by the recession, which has delayed financing for many wind projects, Cook said. “But before late last year, that was one of the fast-growing business areas for shipping,” he said.


Edgar Lehmann first new saltie in Seaway

4/1 -  The first new saltie of the year in the St. Lawrence Seaway will likely be the Edgar Lehmann, a sister-ship to Hans Lehmann, which transited twice in 2008. Last year, a total of 46 new salties were recorded by this writer, the lowest number since the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway in 1959.

Rene Beauchamp


St. Lawrence Seaway celebrates its 50th anniversary

4/1 -  St. Lambert, Que. - The St. Lawrence Seaway celebrated its 50th anniversary today at the St. Lambert Lock. Inaugurated in 1959 by Queen Elizabeth II and President Eisenhower and proclaimed as one of the ten most outstanding Canadian engineering achievements of the past 100 years, the Seaway stands as evidence of an enduring asset. Since its inception, over 2.5 billion tonnes of cargo valued in excess of $375 billion has been transported via the Seaway.

“The Seaway has been successful for the last 50 years and, despite today’s challenging economic conditions, we are pressing ahead with a number of initiatives to position the system for success during the next 50 years,” emphasized Richard Corfe, President and CEO of The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SLSMC). Corfe was joined at the ceremony by his American counterpart, Collister Johnson Jr., Administrator of the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation (SLSDC).

Corfe outlined how lock equipment is being updated by applying today’s technology and how these enhancements will improve services provided to Seaway users. A hands-free mooring system currently being tested in the Seaway’s Welland Canal holds the potential to automate much of a vessel’s transit, while accommodating a wider variety of vessels into existing lock chambers.

Incentive programs initiated by the SLSMC were credited with attracting over 1.8 million tonnes of new cargo to the Seaway last year, contributing $3.2 million in incremental revenue. “We are optimistic that efforts to streamline Seaway operations, coupled with toll incentives, will attract new users to the system while spurring our customers to invest in new vessels,” said Corfe.

On the subject of environmental stewardship, Johnson underlined how ballast water management practices made mandatory at the beginning of the 2008 season are having the intended effect. “No unmanaged ballast water is entering into the Seaway. We are witnessing tangible results from our efforts,” said Johnson. “Ballast water” refers to water that is pumped into tanks onboard an unloaded cargo vessel in order to stabilize its transit, and is later released upon the loading of cargo.



Lorain Port Authority gets bids for a boat to offer ferry service to Lake Erie islands

4/1 -  Lorain, Ohio - Ferry service from Lorain to the Lake Erie islands should be under way by July Fourth now that two companies have submitted bids to sell a boat to the Lorain Port Authority.

It took months of discussions and several extensions of bid deadlines to persuade companies to complete an 80-page bid package to provide a used, 98-foot-long high-speed vessel that could carry 149 passengers and crew.

"This has been a real long, tough ordeal," said Richard Novak, executive director of the port authority.

The companies had to meet state and federal requirements since $1.4 million for the project is provided by the Federal Highway Administration through the Ohio Department of Transportation.

The Port Imperial Ferry Corp. in Weehawken, N.J., submitted a bid of $1,658,409, Novak said. Four Points Yacht and Ship Brokers in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., submitted a bid of $1,975,000. The bids, which were opened Monday, will be reviewed and the port authority board may vote within a week, Novak said.

It could take a while before the boat reaches its dock at Black River Landing, though, because the vessel will likely need a new coat of paint, new seats and other improvements required by the contract. That means the service will not be ready to launch on Memorial Day weekend, as originally hoped, Novak said.

The Put-in-Bay Boat Line Co., which runs Jet Express, will operate the boat and agreed to contribute at least $300,000 toward the purchase, the 20 percent required match for the federal money. The boat line will operate and maintain the vessel and the port authority will receive a dockage fee and stipend per passenger.

Initially, the 70-minute trips will be offered once a day - each way - on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. The boat will be available for charters.

The long-anticipated ferry service is expected to attract people who live in Cleveland and other cities east and southeast of Lorain. Currently, Jet Express offers service to Put-in-Bay and Kelleys Island from Port Clinton and Sandusky.

Cleveland Plain Dealer


Port Reports - April 1

Hamilton, Ont. - Eric Holmes and John McCreery
Montrealais left port at midnight bound for the canal and her lock 3 top hat ceremony. Today the Mckeil tugs Molly M and Wyatt M returned to Hamilton to move the Canadian Provider from it's winter berth at pier 25 to a spot at pier 26 behind the Canadian Progress. The tugs, having repositioned the Provider, immediately departed out to the lake presumably heading back to Toronto. There was no indication that this move signals a departure date for the Provider.

Tuesday the Hamilton Energy departed once again for Toronto at 9 a.m. to bunker the English River. She returned to port at 4:30 p.m.  


Pelee Island's only store burns

4/1 - Pelee Island, Ont. - The Pelee Island Co-operative, the island’s only grocery store, gas station, post office and hardware store, burned to the ground Monday.

“It’s kind of like our only outpost,” island resident Matthew Costello said Monday after seeing the smoldering remains for himself. “The whole community is reeling.”

Terry Hamill, president of the co-op’s board of directors, said an employee heading to work early discovered the fire at 6 a.m. The fire had been burning overnight because there were just some hot spots smoldering when Hamill got there by 6:10 a.m. It was pretty well gone by that time, he said.

The co-op had stood at the north end of the island near Scudder dock since 1956. A cause and an estimate of the damages have not been determined, Hamill said.

The ferry started running Thursday. It wasn’t operating Monday because of the weather but was expected to make a trip Monday night. Some islanders were making arrangements with friends on the mainland to put groceries on the ferry for them.

Windsor Star


Third annual Blessing of the Fleet Saturday in Port Huron

4/1 -Port, Huron, Mich. –The Third Annual Blessing of the Fleet ceremony will take place at the Great Lakes Maritime Center in Port Huron on April 4 at 11 a.m. The event will celebrate the open of the 2009 commercial shipping season.

The Interfaith Blessing will be performed by Father Simeon Iber of St. Mary's Catholic Church of Port Huron, along with Community Pastor Todd Angell from Cross Current Church Kimball Twp. and Reverend Scott Babin from Bridges Church of Port Huron.

Local maritime and government agencies and groups will be participating, including the Canadian Coast Guard, U.S. Coast Guard, Coast Guard Auxiliary, Port Huron Power Squadron, Sea Scouts, Sea Cadets, PHYC, Border Patrol and Home Land Security and U. S. Customs.

A bell ringing ceremony will take place for those who have died. St. Clair County Allied Veterans Honor Guard will provide a 21-gun salute and the U.S. Coast Guard’s 25-foot boat will be on display.

All are welcome to attend. Bagpiper Chris Hunt, baritone Peter Werle, tenor Craig McCue, the Shubert Male Chorus as well as the Salvation Army Band will provide music for the service. In addition, the Blue Water Musicians Network will feature live music all day in honor of the occasion.


Updates - April 1

News Photo Gallery

Public Gallery updated


Today in Great Lakes History - April 1

On 01 April 1887, W. T. Botsford & Company of Port Huron, Michigan bought the COLORADO (wooden propeller package freighter, 254 foot, 1,470 gross tons, built in 1867, at Buffalo, New York). She was added to their two other vessels: DEAN RICHMOND and ROANOKE.

The STEWART J CORT was commissioned on April 1, 1972.

In April 1965, Interlake's steamer J A CAMPBELL was renamed c.) BUCKEYE MONITOR after being purchased by the Buckeye Steamship Co.

Realizing that the bulk trades were too competitive, Captain John Roen's Roen Transportation Co. sold the CAPTAIN JOHN ROEN to the American Steamship Co. (Boland & Cornelius, mgr.) on April 1, 1947, for $915,000.

The ROY A JODREY started her first full season opening navigation at the Soo Locks April 1, 1966, with a load of stone for Algoma Steel.

Dismantling of the G A TOMLINSON, a.) D O MILLS, began in Ashtabula, Ohio, on April 1, 1980, and was completed eight months later.

April 1, 1903 - Gus Kitzinger of the Pere Marquette Line Steamers, acquired the PERE MARQUETTE 3 & 4 from the Pere Marquette Railway Co.

Sailors at Chicago went on strike on 1 April 1871, for an increase in pay. They were getting $1.50 a day. Some ship owners offered $1.75 but when word came that the Straits of Mackinac were clear of ice, the sailors demanded the unheard of daily wage of $3.25. Although some ships stayed in port, the $1.75 wage was accepted and the barks MARY PEREW, J G MASTEN and C J WELLS, along with the schooners DONALDSON, PATHFINDER and CHAMPION set sail on 1 April 1871

On 1 April 1904, CONDOR (2-mast wooden schooner, 58 foot, 22 gross tons, built in 1871, at Sheboygan, Wisconsin), while lying at anchor in the Kalamazoo River at Singapore, Michigan, was crushed by ice moving out in the Spring breakup.

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


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