Great Lakes & Seaway Shipping News Archive

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* Report News

American Fortitude scrap tow this weekend

4/30 - Oswego, N.Y. – American Fortitude, the massive, 690-foot, Great Lakes freighter that was docked at Oswego Harbor this winter, is leaving for the Canadian side of Lake Ontario this weekend, according to Zelko Kirincich, executive director of the Port of Oswego Authority.

The boat, which was built in 1953 and once one of the longest and fastest boats on the Great Lakes, will be scrapped.

Specifics on the names of American Fortitude's past owner and the interests who bought it are being kept under wraps. Kirincich said earlier this year it was owned by a Texas holding company, but did not offer a name.

"I am under a strict confidentiality agreement restraints, but can share the basic facts with you," said a source familiar with the deal.

"The vessel will definitely not be going back into service within the lakes or anywhere else. She is redundancy to today's economics operations and is committed to be responsibly recycled according to current conventions and environmental rules by (its) owners," the source said.

In 1978, American Fortitude (then called the Ernest T. Weir) replaced the ill-fated, SS Edmund Fitzgerald as the flag ship of the Oglebay Norton's Transportation Division fleet. The Edmund Fitzgerald sank in a November 1975 storm on Lake Superior and lost all of its 29 crew members.


Nelvana beached; vessel was once part of Upper Lakes fleet

4/30 - The Panamax self-unloader Nelvana, once part of the Upper Lakes Shipping fleet under their Marbulk Carriers Inc. has been sold to Turkish shipbreakers. The ship arrived off Aliaga about April 18, 2015, and was beached on April 28 for dismantling.

The 800 foot long by 105 foot wide bulk carrier was built at the Hyundai Shipyard and launched at Ulsan, South Korea, on Dec. 5, 1982. It entered service for Marbulk in 1983 and, on its fist voyage, loaded coal at Vancouver, BC for Algiers, Algeria.

Marbulk, at the time, was part of Leitch Transports and a division of Upper Lakes Shipping. The 44,340 gross ton, 19,671 net ton vessel could carry 74,973 tons in the five cargo holds. It was powered by s 15,400 horsepower Burmeister & Wain diesel engine.

Nelvana usually operated along the east coast of North America in the phosphate rock trade. There were diversions including a trip from with coal from New Orleans to Finland early in its career. It also delivered iron ore to Contrecoeur, Quebec, in June 1989 and likely at other times. In addition, gypsum and stone had been on board for delivery to various customers but it clearly was too large for the any Seaway trading.

The ship was placed under the flag of Vanuatu in 1987.

In 2011 Nelvana was drydocked at Chengxi, China, for extensive repairs to the self-unloading system and 65 tons of steel were replaced. This project gave the ship another four years of productive service.

Skip Gillham


Empire Mine temporarily shutting down

4/30 - Richmond Township, Mich. – Cliffs Empire Mine is temporarily shutting down this summer.

The shutdown stretches from the end of June through October. Pat Persico, spokesperson with Cliffs Natural Resources, says the company has lowered sales and production volumes for this year based on customer demand. She says foreign steel imports are at historic levels, taking 34 percent of the finished steel market.

350 hourly employees will be temporarily laid off due to the idling of the Empire Mine. Cliffs employees are being notified Wednesday about the shutdown. Salaried personnel are not part of the layoffs.

Persico says there will be a maintenance staff working at Empire during the shutdown to keep the facility ready to come back on-line. The Empire Mine has been targeted for permanent shutdown at the end of 2016. Persico says that timeline is still in place.

Upper Michigan Source


Port Reports -  April 30

Manistee, Mich. – Brian Ferguson
Great Republic arrived at the piers about 11 a.m. Wednesday and tied up at the power plant shortly after.

Sturgeon Bay, Wis. – Daniel Lindner
Buffalo departed winter layup in Sturgeon Bay on Tuesday, and was in upper Lake Huron on Wednesday evening. Now, the only ships remaining in port are Arthur M. Anderson and the tug Invincible. It is unclear whether either of these vessels will be in service this year.

Toronto, Ont. – Jens Juhl
After three days of around the clock unloading, the bulker Bluebill departed Redpath Wednesday afternoon. The Ports Toronto Derrick 50 and the Toronto Drydock tug M.R. Kane deployed the keep out buoys on the lake side of Billy Bishop Airport and the navigation buoys at the entrance to the West Gap. The Polsteam bulker Juno remains alongside at Terminal 52 undergoing repairs to the hull caused by last weeks grounding.


Iron Range: What makes this downturn different?

4/30 - Mountain Iron, Minn. – At Spring Creek Outfitters in Mountain Iron, retired Minntac worker Pete Skogman has found relative stability in a town all too familiar with boom and bust.

"Everything in Northern Minnesota relies on mining," Skogman said. During his 37 years at the mine, Skogman was laid off multiple times.

"I was out in '86 until May of '87 and then I left," he recalled. "(I) was out again in October of '87 and was out untll July of '88 and then I came back and worked steady ever since."

He thinks the impending layoffs at Keetac and Minntac will be no different, with workers heading back in a few months. But others say this time is different.

"The big difference is in '09 the layoff went in steps, a couple hundred people and then another 200 and another 200. This is 700 people all in one swoop," said John Arbogast, the vice president of the union that represents Minntac workers.

Arbogast says laid off workers will get unemployment and sub pay depending on how long they've been with the company. But he's afraid benefits won't last the length of the layoff and no one knows how long that will be.

"If I'm one of the people that have been laid off, I would be planning on not getting a call back until late this year at the earliest," said Dr. Tony Barrett, an economics professor at the College of St. Scholastica.

He says growth in China, which is a major producer of steel sold across the world, slowed faster than anyone expected, bringing the issue of an over-saturated market to a head much more quickly.

Typically, it's both the U.S. economy and the steel industry that take a hit together, but this downturn has more to do with what's happening overseas than the U.S.

"The U.S. economy is actually doing pretty well, certainly doing well relative to the rest of the world," Dr. Barrett said. "What's made this different then is because steel production around the world is so high, we've become the market of last resort and we're getting a lot of steel into this country and it's hurting our industry."

Also hurting the industry some say is support for free trade agreements like the Trans Pacific Partnership.

Northland steelworkers lobbied against it earlier this month, saying the deal would promote more foreign imports.

"That'll be the dagger for the Iron Range," said Arbogast. "They call it NAFTA on steroids and we've seen what NAFTA and free trade with China has done. Well now, if you do all these other countries, that'll be the end of the Iron Range. I'm sure."

Barrett says the key to stopping the slowdown on the Range lies with convincing Chinese leaders to cut back on producing steel at their state-owned companies.

"We are their ally and we're their trading partner and they don't want necessarily these issues. So, I see that really as being the solution that will most likely help us, that and I'm optimistic," Dr. Barrett said.

Skogman says despite uncertainty, he's sure the workers who will be laid off next month will go back to work.



Welland Canal memorial costs double

4/30 - St. Catharines, Ont. – Plans to build a memorial to honour the men who died building the Welland Canal may have to take a step back, but St. Catharines Mayor Walter Sendzik said the project is still very much alive.

The memorial task force, co-chaired by Sendzik and St. Catharines MP Rick Dykstra, is scheduled to meet this week to take a hard look at the costs associated with building the memorial.

Originally projected to cost in the neighbourhood of $450,000, the task force’s budget for the memorial and surrounding parkette has now topped $1 million.

It’s a price tag some members feel might be unrealistic.v“The question we have to look at is, are there elements of the design that we can remove and bring the costs of the project down?” said Sendzik. “We also have to ask, who carries some of these costs?”

During construction of the Welland Canal from 1914 to 1932, at least 131 men were killed on the job. The federal government of the day promised to erect a memorial to them, calling the dead “peacetime heroes.”

However, the memorial was never built and in 2013, the task force was formed to fulfill Ottawa’s promise.

It put out a call for designers and one was selected from a shortlist of three. The design has yet to be revealed publicly, but Sendzik described it as “excellent.”

However, the design called for not just the memorial but also a parkette, with both to be located at the Lock 3 museum in St. Catharines.

“I think part of what happened here is the task force looked at the design, and it was so good the initial thought was, ‘OK, let’s go with that, no matter what it costs.’ But we have to realistic,” Sendzik said.

According to the project’s budget breakdown, the addition of the parkette nearly doubles the original cost of the memorial project.

There is already some funding for the memorial, including $150,000 from the federal heritage department. But where the bulk of the funding will come from has yet to be finalized.

Sendzik said he believes there are elements of the parkette in particular that can be removed without impacting the overall quality of the memorial nor drift from the spirit of the project.

But, he said, if the task force determines in consultation with the artist that the design cannot be scaled back to a more affordable level, then one of the other two designs can be looked at.

Although minutes from the last task force meeting indicate this week’s meeting is to discuss revising the costs or “whether to abandon the project,” Sendzik said there is no intention of killing the memorial.

It cannot be built until the summer of 2017, largely because ongoing construction and repairs by the St. Lawrence Seaway Corp. at Lock 3 make the area where it will be erected inaccessible until then.

St. Catharines Standard


Lookback #529 – Stanley Clipper sank in Lake Erie storm on April 30, 1984

The fish tug Stanley Clipper was based out of Port Dover on the north shore of Lake Erie. The 60 foot long vessel had been built by Port Colborne Iron Works of Port Colborne and completed in 1938.

The ship had been an important part of the Lake Erie fishing industry until it was lost, with all hands, in a storm on April 30, 1984. The wreck was later found near Ryerson Island, about 12 miles south of Port Dover in 35 feet of water. All three crew members on board perished 31-years ago today.

In time, the Stanley Clipper was refloated and rebuilt. It returned to service in 1994 as b) Nadro Clipper of Nadro Marine. The diesel powered vessel served their interests as a dive support vessel and tug until being sold to the AIS Group Ltd. in 2008 and renamed AIS Clipper.

Today, when not in use, this vessel is often moored below Lock 1 of the Welland Canal.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  April 30

News Photo Gallery


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, six miles west of Kingston when the dredge started listing then suddenly tipped over and sank. No lives were lost.

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.

1909: RUSSIA foundered in heavy weather in Lake Huron not far from Detour, MI. The ship was en route from Duluth to Alpena and ran into a heavy gale. Sources vary on the loss to life.

1929: D.M. PHILBIN ran aground in a high winds and snow 6 miles west of Conneaut after mistaking the airport beacon for the Conneaut Light and stranding on a sandbar off Whitman's Creek. The hold was flooded to keep the hull safe and it was released with the aid of tugs on May 7. The vessel was renamed c) SYLVANIA prior to returning to service

1984: The fish tug STANLEY CLIPPER sank in a storm on Lake Erie southeast of Port Dover, near Ryerson Island and all three men on board were lost. The hull was located, refloated and rebuilt as the tug NADRO CLIPPER. It currently operates as c) A.I.S. CLIPPER and is often moored below Lock 1 of the Welland Canal when not in service.

1991: The hull of BEECHGLEN buckled while unloading corn at Cardinal, ON, with the bow and stern settling on the bottom. The ship was strapped together, refloated and towed to Port Weller Dry Docks for repairs arriving at the shipyard on May 26.

1999: GLORY MAKOTOH, a Panamanian general cargo carrier, sank in the South China Sea off Hainan Island as d) FELIZ TRADER on this date in 1999. The vessel had been a Seaway trader in 1983 under the original name. Eight crewmembers were rescued from the lifeboats but 13 sailors were lost.

2000: The small passenger ship WORLD DISCOVERER visited the Great Lakes in 1975. It hit a reef or large rock off the Solomon Islands on April 30, 2000, and had to be beached on the island of Ngella. The 127 passengers and 80 crew were saved, but the ship was a total loss and potential salvors were driven off by a hostile local population.

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


Freighter grounded near De Tour was outside shipping channel, says Coast Guard

4/29 - De Tour Village, Mich. – A Canadian bulk cargo freighter that grounded near Drummond Island last week was outside the marked channel when it struck a shoal, according to Coast Guard investigators.

Lt. Cmdr Michael Hjerstedt, investigations chief in Sault Ste. Marie, said the Coast Guard is still trying to determine why the 603-foot freighter Mississagi was outside the shipping lanes when it grounded in Potagannissing Bay about four miles east of De Tour Village about 1 a.m. Wednesday, April 22.

The ship spent the next four days stuck on the shoal before offloading about 2,000 of its 17,000 tons of stone cargo onto a barge on Saturday, April 25.

Hjerstedt said the ship suffered a surprising lack of physical damage during the grounding, which investigators determined did not cause any fuel, ballast water or other contaminants to leak into the surrounding water.

"Indications are leaning toward no monetary damage to the vessel," he said. "There was nothing released and we didn't note any hull breaches, which is very fortunate."

Lower Lakes Towing of Port Dover, Ontario, owns the Mississagi, a 72-year-old self-unloading bulk carrier. The ship made for its original destination of Bruce Mines, Ontario, before heading to Chicago after the five-hour weekend lightering operation was carried out under Coast Guard supervision.

Hjerstedt said the downbound Mississagi should have passed a shoal-marker buoy on its starboard side, but instead passed the buoy on its port side. The buoy marks a four-foot shoal outside the approximately 30-foot shipping channel. The ship's bow grounded on what was determined to be a mostly clay bottom.

Depending on the investigation results, the ship's owner could face a fine between $5,000 and $25,000, Hjerstedt said. Because the grounding happened outside the St. Marys River shipping channel, there was no vessel traffic disruption. The Coast Guard response involved two helicopter fly-overs and two cutters.

Hjerstedt must wrap his investigation within 120 days.

"Part of the process is looking at (crew) training and other factors," he said. "It will take a while before we develop conclusions about what the causes were."

Hjerstedt said vessel groundings are not terribly common, but do happen every few years around Lakes Superior, Michigan and Huron.

Elsewhere on the Great Lakes, the Coast Guard is investigating what caused a bulk freighter to run aground near Wellesley Island in New York's section of the St. Lawrence Seaway on Monday, April 20.



Great Lakes water levels: One lake to be almost 1 foot higher this summer

4/29 - The Great Lakes water levels forecasts show mixed expectations for this summer. One lake is expected to be much higher than last summer, while the other Great Lakes should be lower than last summer.

Lake Michigan and Lake Huron are expected to be 11 inches higher this July as compared to last July. The lake level will also still be seven inches above the long term average for the peak summer water level.

Lake St. Clair, with high outflow from Lake Huron, will also top out higher this summer compared to last summer. Lake St. Clair is forecast to be three inches higher in July compared to last year, which will put it at eight inches above the long term average.

The rest of the Great Lakes will top out lower than last summer, with Superior and Erie still above the long-term average.

Lake Superior is forecast to not rise as sharply this summer and actually top out two inches lower than last summer. Lake Superior will remain above the long-term average. Lake Erie should peak about an inch lower than last summer. Lake Ontario is actually below the long term average now and should remain so through summer. The peak water level in July may be nine inches lower than last summer.

So the most dramatic rise in lake levels will still be seen on Lakes Michigan and Huron this summer. Lake Michigan-Huron should rise a foot from the current water level.

This water level forecast is based on many factors, one factor being near normal precipitation. If it turns out to be extremely wet or very dry, this forecast would be adjusted. But right now it looks like there is going to be plenty of water for fun in Michigan's Great Lakes this summer.

M Live


Moran Iron Works completes two barges for Durocher Marine

4/29 - Onaway, Mich. – Moran Iron Works (MIW) launched two ocean-going deck barges last week for Durocher Marine, a division of Kokosing Construction Company Inc.

The two deck barges are 180' X 54' X 12' and built in accordance with the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) and United States Coast Guard (USCG) regulations and classifications.

Kokosing IV launched on Monday, April 20 and Kokosing III launched Tuesday, April 21 at Calcite in Rogers City, Mich., through the company's Port Calcite Collaborative. On Saturday, April 25, the barges were taken by Durocher Marine’s tug General to Cheboygan, Mich., to ready them for their first project, which is taking place in Oswego, New York.

Bill Hartig, Senior Project Manager for MIW, estimates that approximately 35,000 hours of project management, shop and field work went into the project.

"This is a monumental week for Moran Iron Works," said Tom Moran, CEO and Founder of Moran Iron Works. "Our team did an incredible job from start to finish. I couldn't be prouder."

Moran Iron Works


Port Reports -  April 29

Saginaw River – Todd Shorkey
Olive L. Moore-Lewis J. Kuber called on the Saginaw River on April 27th, traveling all the way to the end of the shipping channel, to unload at the Lafarge Stone dock in Saginaw. The pair were outbound for the lake early in the morning on the 28th. Inbound late in the evening on the 27th was the G.L. Ostrander - Integrity, calling on the Lafarge Cement dock in Essexville. After unloading, they were outbound during the early afternoon on the 28th.

Buffalo, N.Y.
English River was approaching the Lake Ontario entrance to the Welland Canal Tuesday with an AIS ETA for Buffalo of 11 am Wednesday. That will be the first cement load of the year so far.


Round Island Lighthouse open house set for July 11

4/29 - Each year the Round Island Lighthouse Preservation Society and the National Forest Service hosts an open house to raise funds to put toward restoring the Lighthouse.

This year’s open house will be held from 10 am to 4 pm on Saturday July 11th and the cost is $15 per person. On the tour you will learn the history of the Lighthouse and walk through the entire lighthouse from bottom to top. The tour will take roughly 2 hours. Toward the end you can go outside on top of the lighthouse, which is a great place to get pictures of surrounding landmarks. The tour will be guided by the Preservation Society and the Freeland Boy Scouts.

See for more information.

Logan Vasicek, Matt McMullan


Lookback #528 – W.E. Fitzgerald hit bridge at Burlington on April 29, 1952

Those familiar with the Burlington Skyway, a six-lane bridge spanning the entrance to Hamilton harbor, can only imagine the traffic chaos if that route was closed. For many years the only way across the Burlington ship canal was a lift bridge that halted traffic as ships moved in and out of the port.

It was 63 years ago today that the north span of this bridge had a mechanical problem and failed to raise as the steamer W.E. Fitzgerald approached. Unable to stop in time, the ship struck the bridge toppling the span into the water. Without an alternative route, traffic on the Queen Elizabeth Highway had to be re-routed through the city of Hamilton and around the bay before being able to reconnect with the main highway.

Repair work proceeded at great haste and the normal traffic pattern was able to resume. The permanent high-level bridge over the channel was opened in 1958 making sure that the incident would not be repeated.

The W.E. Fitzgerald dated from 1906 and had been converted to a self-unloader in 1928. It spent considerable time in the sand trade but also carried coal and stone over the years. It had a variety of interesting incidents in its career including collisions and groundings but was a good carrier in its years in the Gartland fleet.

At the end of the 1968 season, the 440 foot long vessel tied up at Milwaukee and remained there until a tow to the Marine Salvage scrapyard at Port Colborne during October 1971. The ship was broken up there the following year.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  April 29

News Photo Gallery


Today in Great Lakes History -  April 29

29 April 1896 - 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 under the name K.A. Powell. 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 pilothouse 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.

1909: AURANIA was the only steel hulled ship sunk by ice on the Great Lakes. The vessel was lost in Whitefish Bay after being holed and then squeezed by the pressure of the ice pack near Parisienne Island. The crew escaped onto the ice and pulled a yawl boat to the J.H. BARTOW.

1952: W.E. FITZGERALD hit the Burlington Lift Bridge at the entrance to Hamilton Bay after a mechanical problem resulted in the structure not being raised. The north span of the bridge was knocked into the water, resulting in traffic chaos on land and on the water.

1959: PRESCOTT went aground near Valleyfield, Quebec, while downbound in the Seaway only four days after the waterway had been opened. It got stuck trying to avoid a bridge that had failed to open and navigation was blocked until the CSL bulk carrier was refloated the next day.

1969: HOWARD HINDMAN ran aground at the Little Rapids Cut in the St. Marys River after the steering cables parted. The ship was released and temporarily returned to service but the vessel was badly damaged and soon sold for scrap. It came down the Welland Canal with a cargo of road salt on June 6, 1969, and was towed to Bilbao, Spain, with the HUMBERDOC, arriving on September 6, 1969.

1976: The British freighter GLENPARK was three years old when it first came through the Seaway in 1959. It was sailing as c) GOLDEN LEADER when it ran aground off Goto Island, southwest Japan while on a long voyage from Chungjin, China, to Constanza, Romania. The hull broke in two and was a total loss.

1998: The Panamanian freighter DENEBOLA first visited the Seaway in 1973. The ship was sailing as d) TAE CHON, under the flag of North Korea, when it was in a collision with the YANG LIN in thick fog on the Yellow Sea and sank. The vessel was enroute from Yantai, China, to Chittagong, Bangladesh, when the accident occurred and one life was lost.

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


Volunteers ready SS Meteor for summer

4/28 - Superior, Wis. – Before it was named the SS Meteor, before it became a museum open to tourists, Bob Brennan’s father sailed on the whaleback freighter now permanently berthed at Barker’s Island in Superior.

Brennan was among the 40 volunteers readying the ship for summer tours last Saturday, walking in the places his father walked in the 1930s when it was named the South Park. It was renamed the SS Meteor in 1943.

He noted the irony of a trip to the area 15 years ago, before he knew Barker’s Island was the ship’s final resting place. “I probably drove right by it,” he said.

He recently found a photo of his father, who also was named Bob Brennan, standing at the helm of the South Park — but he didn’t know the ship still existed until he looked it up on the Internet and learned that it had been renamed, he said.

After connecting with the Great Lakes Shipwreck Preservation Society, he traveled from his home in Anaheim, Calif., to help with the society’s annual SS Meteor Spring Work Weekend on the ship, which opens for tours in mid-May.

Like his father, Brennan also was a merchant mariner, but this weekend was the first time he had been on the same ship as his father, he said. He had a photo taken of himself standing in the same spot at the helm of the SS Meteor where his father stood for the photo in the 1930s, he said.

The Great Lakes Shipwreck Preservation Society’s annual weekend of improvement projects on the SS Meteor draws volunteers from all over, many of them divers who like to explore the shipwrecks along the North Shore, said Sara Blanck, director of Superior Public Museums.

Blanck created a list of needed work that included painting, cleaning up the exhibit area, going through documents, folding up flags and making beds. The volunteers that show up have a great skill set of engineers, welders, painters and mechanics, she said.

“It’s a museum director’s dream to have them here,” Blanck said. “The progress they’ve made is outstanding.”

The SS Meteor, constructed in Superior, is the last surviving whaleback freighter designed by Capt. Alexander McDougall. Saturday marked 119 years since the SS Meteor was launched — as the Frank Rockefeller — on April 25, 1896. It opened as a museum in 1972, but the maintenance on it was minimal, said Phil Kerber, president of the Great Lakes Shipwreck Preservation Society.

The Wisconsin Underwater Archeology Association hosted the cleaning weekend beginning in 2001, until it handed over the maintenance responsibility to the shipwreck preservation society in 2004. The society has been able to do more maintenance during the weekend because it’s a larger group, and members of the archeology association still join in to help during the weekend, Kerber said.

If someone wants to work on a historic ship, the weekend of projects is a perfect venue for that, Kerber said. “We have a job for everyone,” he said.

Although the recommendation is for volunteers older than 16, they made an exception for Duluth resident Ethan Rentschler, 11, this year because of his fascination with the ship.

Ask Ethan a question about the SS Meteor and he’ll respond with details about its unique qualities and size. He said he’s amazed at how the ship has held up, given its age, and by how small it is compared to modern vessels.

He’s done a lot of his own research by reading books on whaleback freighters since his first tour of the ship with his uncle. He wanted his own membership to the SS Meteor for a birthday present and wants to become a tour guide when he turns 15. He wants to follow his father, Dan Rentschler, by becoming a merchant mariner when he turns 18.

He’s been crossing off the days on a calendar until the SS Meteor’s cleaning weekend, his mom Sarah Rentschler said, adding, “He was up early like it was Christmas today.”

He spent the day folding flags and polishing brass instruments on the ship. His favorite moments were when he was able to be above deck, he said. His mom said he was most looking forward to polishing the brass.

“He said, ‘I hope no one else wants to clean the brass,’ ” she said.

Best of all, he’s been able to go places in the ship he wouldn’t normally be able to see on a tour. “I’ve been almost everywhere today,” he said.

Duluth News Tribune


Hamilton Harbour Queen lives to sail again

4/28 - Hamilton, Ont. – All aboard — the Hamilton Harbour Queen will sail again. The harbor cruiser could be back in open water as soon as June, says local businessman and new captain Albert Samee.

Samee bought the boat from the Waterfront Trust last week after learning that scrapyard owners were bidding on the out-of-commission ship — a fate he couldn't bear to imagine. "It's a part of Hamilton," he said Saturday, aboard the Queen.

He's already gutted the lower level and plans to completely refurbish the boat — complete with a new cedar dance floor, raised ceilings and an electronic awning.

Samee — who splits his time between Florida and Hamilton — is the president and owner of ELKO Industrial Trading Corp., which operates out of the old Westinghouse site on Aberdeen (near Innovation Park) and ships coil, structural and stainless steel across North America and overseas.

He owns property across the city, but says this boat is the project he's most excited about — this purchase was more about passion than business. "I don't look at it as a profit, I look at it as a part of the city," he says.

The Hamilton Harbour Queen provided sightseeing, dinner and party cruises for 10 years before the Waterfront Trust dropped the anchor for good last fall in the face of looming inspection and repair costs, including a government-mandated $250,000 dry-dock inspection.

In order to set sail as he intends to, Samee will now have to pay for that inspection. He says they are putting "good money into safety and will work very closely with Transport Canada."

Bob Charters, chair of the Trust, says the sale is "excellent news" for the city and the agency. "It stops us having to spend the amount of money we would have had to with the dry-docking. It would have been a real burden for us to have done that," he said.

The cash-strapped waterfront revitalization agency bought the 58-year-old former tug boat in 2005 for $500,000. It costs about $350,000 to run a year and lost about $16,000 in 2013. Charters would not say how much they sold it for.

While Samee is now the sole owner of the ship, Charters says the agency will "certainly" work with him to get it back up and running.

And Samee is confident in its potential — joking that it has been nearly impossible to get any work done so far with constant inquiries from passersby about the ship's fate. "The more I talk to people about it, the more I have a desire to do the best I can to it," he says.

If all goes well, the ship will be up and running by June and absolutely in time for the Pan Am Games, Samee says. And yes, he promises, he will keep the Hamilton Harbour Queen name.

Hamilton Spectator


Governor general of Canada to visit U.S. Coast Guard Sector Detroit

4/28 - U.S. Coast Guard Sector Detroit is scheduled to host the governor general of Canada Thursday morning to discuss the integrated cross-border maritime law enforcement program called Shiprider.

Shiprider is a program that enables specially-trained officials from both nations to pursue or interdict suspected criminals transiting across the shared maritime border. It removes the maritime border as an impediment to law enforcement operations. The U.S. Coast Guard and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police are the primary Shiprider participants.



Port Reports -  April 28

Marquette, Mich. – Rod Burdick
Kaye E. Barker arrived at sunset on Monday to load at LS&I.

Buffalo, N.Y. – Brian W
American Mariner arrived for General Mills at 6P pm. on the 26th. She should be departing around 10 a.m. on the 28th.


Lookback #527 – Original Algosea had problems April 28, 1976, during its first trip up the Welland Canal

The first Algosea was purchased by the Algoma fleet as a replacement for the sunken Roy A. Jodrey. The ship, originally a deep sea bulk carrier, was built at Port Glasgow, Scotland, in 1970 and sailed as a) Brooknes until moving to Algoma in 1975.

Algoma had the ship lengthened from 520 feet to 642 feet at North Shields, England, before it headed across the Atlantic. As Brooknes, the vessel had been a Seaway trader in 1971 but usually operated on saltwater routes.

Renamed b) Algosea, the ship hit the wall below Lock 1 thirty-nine years ago today, lost its cables below Lock 2 and was blown sideways across the canal. The vessel finally reached Port Colborne on April 28 and underwent conversion to a self-unloader. It was rechristened on Oct. 19, 1976, and passed down the Welland Canal for the first time on Nov. 27 with a load of salt from Goderich to Quebec City.

Algosea was renamed Sauniere in 1982 and spent much of its career in the salt trade. It tied up at Montreal on March 2, 2009, and, following a sale to Turkish shipbreakers, departed under tow on June 11, 2011. The vessel arrived at Aliaga, on July 2, 2011, and was soon broken up for scrap.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  April 28

News Photo Gallery


Today in Great Lakes History -  April 28

28 April 1856 - 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-foot-long 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.

1971 ZENAVA, the former REDFERN, ran aground, caught fire and sank off Burin, NF while under tow from Rose Blanche, NF to Marystown, NF. The former bulk canaller was being used to transport, freeze and store fish.

1976 The first ALGOSEA was inbound on its first trip to the Great Lakes when it hit the wall below Lock 1 of the Welland Canal and then, below Lock 2, the ship was blown sideways across the canal after problems with the cables. The ship was enroute to Port Colborne for conversion to a self-unloader; it was scrapped at Aliaga, Turkey, in 2011 as SAUNIERE.

Data from: Skip Gillham, 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

Alpena, Mich. – Ben & Chanda McClain
On Saturday the tug Defiance and barge Ashtabula were at Lafarge unloading coal. The tug Samuel de Champlain and barge Innovation were also in port on Saturday taking on cement. The Alpena arrived Sunday morning at Lafarge and tied up under the silos.

Erie, Pa – Gene P
The Philip R. Clarke arrived in Erie early Sunday morning to unload stone. At 0840 she departed under sunny skies and light winds.


1868 collision discussed at Toledo museum

4/27 - Toledo, Ohio – On Wednesday, April 29, Carrie Sowden, Archaeological Director for the National Museum of the Great Lakes, will present "The Cortland and the Morning Star: When Sail and Steam Collide" at 7 p.m. at the museum in Toledo.

The collision of the two boats resulted in numerous deaths on both the Cortland and the Morning Star. Both boats sank in Lake Erie. Sowden led the team that recovered the bell from the Cortland with the approval of the state of Ohio. The bell is now on display at the museum in Toledo.

Admission to the lecture is included in the cost of admission to the museum, which is $8. The National Museum of the Great Lakes is located at 1791 Front Street Toledo Ohio.



Lookback #526 – Collingwood stranded near Corsica Shoal, Lake Huron on April 27, 1915

Those of us who recall the steamer Collingwood of Canada Steamship Lines, remember a package freighter. The ship had spent her early years as a bulk carrier and, at 406 feet in overall length, served the Farrar Transportation Co. until joining C.S.L. in 1918.

This was Hull 17 from the Collingwood shipyard and it was launched on Oct. 5, 1907. The ship entered service the following year and often carried coal or grain.

Prior to the stranding of 100-years ago today, Collingwood had survived at grounding off Michipicoten in 1909 and a sinking in the Detroit River after being rammed by the George L. Craig on Aug. 24, 1909.

The ship had a number of other adventures over the years including another stranding and collision as well as losing the passenger ship Thousand Islander while trying to tow the vessel from Sarnia to Midland on Nov. 21, 1927.

Collingwood came down the Welland Canal for the first time on June 17, 1931. The voyage was significant as it was the first direct shipment of iron ore from Lake Superior to Hamilton and, on arrival, the ship was heralded as the largest to enter the latter harbor to that date.

The vessel was converted to a package freighter at Midland in 1950 and last operated in 1967. It was sold to Spanish shipbreakers and arrived at Santander, in tandem with the Hagarty, on Oct. 28, 1968.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  April 27

News Photo Gallery
Saltie Gallery updated with pictures of the Cornelia, Erieborg, Federal Yukon, Fortunagracht, Harbour First, Lady Doris, MarBacan, Resko and Sloman Herakles.
Lay-up list updated  


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. Later that morning on Lake Erie fog still prevailed and the PHILIP MINCH of the Kinsman fleet collided with and sank the crane ship FRANK E. VIGOR. This collision occurred at 0850 hours and the ship, loaded with sulphur, sank in the Pelee Passage in 75 feet of water. All on board were saved.

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 landfilled 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.

1914 - The BENJAMIN NOBLE disappeared with all hands in Lake Superior. The wreck was finally located in 2004 and it lies 10 miles off Two Harbors, MN. The discovery was confirmed in July 2005.

1915 The COLLINGWOOD stranded near Corsica Shoal while downbound in Lake Huron with a load of grain.

1965 After being forced to spend the winter at Toronto when an early build up of ice prevented it from leaving the Great Lakes, the Greek freighter ORIENT MERCHANT ran aground near Port Colborne and required repairs at Port Weller Dry Docks. The ship had begun Seaway trading in 1960 and was scrapped at Kaohsiung, Taiwan, arriving on November 17, 1967, as ZAMBEZI.

1970 The Israeli freighter ESHKOL began Great Lakes trading right after being built in 1964. The ship was in a collision with the fishing boat MELISSA JEAN II in the Cabot Strait on this date in 1970. It arrived at Kaohsiung, Taiwan, for scrapping as ESKAT on September 29, 1982.

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


Mississagi released from St. Marys River grounding

4/26 - Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. – The grounded Mississagi was successfully refloated on the St. Marys River Saturday following operations to offload approximately 2,000 tons of stone.

Mississagi was carrying more than 17,000 tons of stone while transiting downbound the St. Marys River from Bruce Mines, Ont. early Wednesday when it ran aground in Potagannissing Bay, approximately 4 miles northeast of De Tour Village.

Lightering operations into fleetmate Lewis J. Kuber began at 8 a.m. Saturday under the supervision of Coast Guard marine inspectors and pollution responders. The vessel was successfully refloated by 1 p.m. then anchored in a new location near Big Trout Island with no injuries or pollution.

While at anchor, the vessel underwent a thorough internal and external inspection by Coast Guard marine inspectors and commercial divers. The Coast Guard concluded that no primary structure on the vessel had been damaged. After inspections were complete, the vessel was cleared to depart anchorage at around 6:30 p.m. The Canadian Coast Guard concurred with the U.S. Coast Guard. The vessel will reload its cargo of stone in Bruce Mines.



Port Reports -  April 26

Green Bay, Wis. – Will G
John G. Munson was unloading in Green Bay on Saturday morning.

Sturgeon Bay, Wis. – Daniel Lindner
CSL Assiniboine departed from Sturgeon Bay on Friday evening after returning from her sea trials. The ship posted a destination of Thunder Bay, Ont., and was just north of Washington Island late Friday night.

Lorain, Ohio – Phil Leon
Joseph H. Thompson left at 2 a.m. Saturday. She had been at dock 3.

Toronto, Ont. – Jens Juhl
Saturday morning the bulker Juno did the end for end turn around assisted by the tugs Ocean Golf and Omni Richelieu. The tugs are presently alongside at Sugar Beach and will assist Juno when it departs later in the evening. They will then dock the Bluebill when arrives from the Port Weller anchorage. The cement barge Metis and the tug Evans McKeil cleared the East Gap outbound just after noon time.


Captain John's ship may finally be about to sail

4/26 - Toronto, Ont. – It appears to be final days for Captain John’s floating restaurant at last. Ports Toronto has agreed to a plan for having the unsightly waterfront landmark towed from its slip at the foot of Yonge St. by May 25 and is just “finalizing the plan to finance the proposal,” according to a spokesperson for the waterfront authority.

It now appears certain, although Ports Toronto would not confirm this, that a ship breaker will be paid to tow the 300-foot Jadran away so it can be scrapped and recycled into usable metal.

That process could cost Ports Toronto close to $500,000, given the complexity of the tow, likely through the Welland Canal, and the sorry state of the ship: A move would require two tugs, because the Jadran hasn’t had a working engine for years. Also, the ship needs to be stabilized and sealed to ensure any contaminants like lead and asbestos don’t escape into the environment.

The ship is now worth about $200,000 less now than it was during the original auction last summer, when it was purchased by entrepreneur James Sbrolla for $33,501, just because of slumping metal prices globally, marine experts say. That makes it less lucrative for a scrapper and, therefore, ups the price of towing it away, which veteran scrapper Wayne Elliott estimated at about $300,000 last summer.

He was the second bidder for the ship and is believed to be the winner this time around, although he was awaiting word from Ports Authority when contacted this week.

The complex case was supposed to be back before a Federal Court judge April 28 for approval of a plan to get rid of the troubled ship, on which owner “Captain” John Letnik owes well over $1 million in mortgage, property taxes, berthing and other fees that have been accumulating for years.

The court hearing has been rescheduled for May 11, the original deadline set by Ports Toronto for having the ship removed.

“We have now selected a proposal that meets all the requirements and we are certainly proceeding,” said Erin Mikaluk, the senior manager of communications for the port authority.

Sbrolla said he’s submitted another bid for the ship, in partnership with Priestly Demolition, undeterred by the fact his original offer fell apart when he failed to find a new berth for the ship, well away from Toronto’s waterfront, where it could be refurbished or scrapped.

There’s been considerable pressure to get the ship removed, after years of little progress, given that rust is now visibly eating away at its hull and another major condo tower, surrounded by a waterfront promenade and public park, is slated for the area immediately east of the ship.

The Star


Lookback #525 – Ciandra ran aground on a sandbar near Marysville on April 26, 1958

The West German freighter Ciandra made three trips to the Great Lakes in 1953, a year after it had been completed at Bremen, West Germany.

The 251 foot, 11 inch long vessel later stranded near Stag Island on April 26, 1958, after venturing up St. Clair River without a pilot following a dispute over needing such help on the open lakes. After three hours aground, Ciandra was released 57 years ago today and able to continue its voyage to Chicago.

Earlier, on Nov. 9, 1956, the crankshaft broke 390 miles southeast of New York while trading between Inagua, British West Indies, and Newfoundland. The tug M. Moran was dispatched to tow the crippled carrier to New York and eventual repairs.

Ciandra became b) Hohenhorn in 1961, c) Intombi in 1964 for South African coastal service, d) Meliati in 1975 and e) Mesongo later the same year.

Mesongo caught fire and capsized at Singapore on Sept. 9, 1977. The hull was not refloated until July 19, 1979, and broken up locally later in the year. It had been inbound from Indonesia with rubber and timber when the blaze broke out.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  April 26

News Photo Gallery


Today in Great Lakes History -  April 26

26 April 1891 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.

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.

1902 The wooden schooner barge GRACE B. GRIBBLE was holed by ice and sank in Lake Erie off Point Pelee after the hull was punctured by an ice flow. Three sailors were lost.

1958 CIANDRA, a Great Lakes visitor from West Germany as early as 1953, ran aground in the St. Clair River at the south end of Stag Island on this date in 1958. Due to a dispute, there was no pilot on board at the time. The ship was stuck for about 3 hours. It later burned and capsized at Singapore as e) MESONGO on September 9, 1977, and was refloated and then scrapped in 1979.

1981 The Norwegian freighter ASKOT visited the Great Lakes from 1959 to 1962 and returned under the flag of Greece as DIAKAN MASCOT in 1972. It was observed lying off Aden, as c) TYHI with the engine room flooded on this date in 1981. The hull was later refloated and arrived at Gadani Beach, Pakstan, for scrapping on April 28, 1982.

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


Efforts to free Mississagi begin Saturday

4/25 - Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. - Lightering operations of the Mississagi, which ran aground in the St. Marys River near De Tour Village, Michigan early Wednesday, will begin Saturday following the Coast Guard's approval of the owner's salvage plan, Friday.

Mississagi was loaded with more than 17,000 tons of stone when it ran aground in the Potagannissing Bay, approximately 4 miles northeast of De Tour Village. The bow of the vessel is aground.

Operations are scheduled to begin about 8 a.m. Approximately 2,000 tons of stone will be offloaded into fleet mate Lewis J. Kuber in order to refloat the Mississagi. Operations are expected to be complete sometime in the afternoon. The vessel will then transit about one mile before anchoring so that more thorough internal and external inspections can take place.

The Coast Guard will have two marine inspectors and a pollution responder aboard the Mississagi during the offload. The Coast Guard Cutter Buckthorn, a 100-foot buoy tender, will be on scene to enforce a 500-yard safety zone. In addition, a Coast Guard helicopter crew from Air Station Traverse City will conduct an overflight during the offload.

The vessel is located out of the shipping channel, and navigation in the St. Marys River is currently unimpeded. At about 1:00 a.m. Wednesday, the master of the Mississagi notified a watchstander at Coast Guard Sector Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, that the carrier was hard aground.

Coast Guard marine inspectors completed a post-damage survey Wednesday afternoon and determined that ballast tanks had no significant damage or ingress of water. In addition, fuel tanks located near the stern of the vessel did not sustain any damage.

The crew of the Buckthorn conducted an aids to navigation verification survey Wednesday and determined that all aids were in position in the water when the grounding occurred.

The cause of the grounding is under investigation.

There were no reported injuries to the crew and there is no reports of pollution.



Martin strikes ship arrestor in Seaway, traffic delayed

4/25 - The Rt. Hon. Paul J. Martin struck the ship arrestor in St. Lambert lock early Friday, bringing Seaway traffic to a halt. There were several downbound ships waiting for passage through St. Lambert. Above the lock were Kom, Michigan / Great Lakes, Manitoba, Whitefish Bay, Algoma Navigator, Sarah Desgagnes, and Sloman Hermes. Some of the ships delayed were also held back from their trip down the river until the Juno was hauled off the rocks in the American Narrows. The arrestor was repaired later in the day and traffic began moving again.

Ron Beaupre


Algoma Central continues fleet expansion

4/25 - St. Catharines, Ont. – Algoma Central Corporation Friday officially announced that it has acquired a 2009-built handy size self-unloading ocean class vessel, the Gypsum Integrity, from Gypsum Transportation Limited. The vessel is being renamed the Algoma Integrity.

In addition, the said it has signed contracts with a subsidiary of Uljanik d.d. of Croatia for the construction of two new Equinox Class, 650-foot self-unloading dry bulk lake freighters. These contracts are contingent on the delivery by the shipyard of acceptable security for construction installments required under the contracts.

Algoma's purchase of three coastal class vessels since 2009, combined with the ongoing investment in new Equinox Class ships, brings the company's committed investment in fleet renewal for the domestic dry-bulk fleet to over $560 million.

"We are very pleased to have acquired the Algoma Integrity at this time," said Wayne Smith, Senior Vice-President, Commercial, of Algoma. "The ship is well constructed and was designed to carry heavy cargoes. The addition of the Algoma Integrity to our Canadian-flag fleet gives us added flexibility to meet the needs of our customers.”

Algoma Integrity will eventually be placed in the international pool of self-unloading vessels in which Algoma is a member and has other ocean going self-unloaders participating" Smith added.

The Algoma Integrity's deadweight at a summer draft of 11.5 metres is 47,556 MT and the vessel is 197.1 metres (646.7 feet) long and 32.2 metres (105.6 feet) wide. The Algoma Integrity joins Algoma's existing Canadian coastal class vessels, the Algoma Mariner and the Radcliffe R Latimer.

In addition, "We are looking forward to the arrival of the new Equinox 650 Class ships, the second phase of our domestic fleet renewal," said Ken Bloch Soerensen, President and CEO of Algoma. "The specialized service needs of certain of our customers require the size and type of vessel that Algoma has consistently provided,” Soerensen added.

The two new Equinox Class ships will serve a range of customers with particular focus on salt and aggregates industry shippers. The first ship is expected to enter service early in 2017 with the second ship to follow later that year. The Equinox 650 Class has an overall length of 198.4 metres (650.8 feet) and is 23.8 metres (78 feet) wide. The ships are expected to carry in excess of 24,000 tonnes at maximum Seaway draft. These vessels will also feature a forward discharge boom and both a bow and stern thruster.

These new 650-foot vessels will include all of the advances inherent in the Company's proprietary Equinox Class design. This includes the installation of exhaust gas scrubbers, certified for use on our Equinox Class ships to remove at least 97 percent of all SOx emissions from the exhaust stream. The scrubbers, combined with other technologies and advancements on the ships, makes the Equinox Class the most environmentally advanced and efficient vessels operating on the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Waterway.

The ships will be built at 3.Maj Brodogradiliste d.d. Shipyard, which has been building ships in Rijeka, Croatia, on the northern shores of the Adriatic Sea, since 1892.

Algoma Central Corp.


Port Reports -  April 25

Sturgeon Bay, Wis. – Daniel Lindner
CSL Assiniboine returned to port late Thursday night after departing earlier in the day. She had most likely been conducting sea trials for the new engines she received over the winter. With trials complete, she should be departing in the next few days. Buffalo remains in drydock at Bayship, and the Arthur M. Anderson and tug Invincible have not yet left winter layup.

Holland, Mich. – Bob VandeVusse
Undaunted and Pere Marquette 41 opened the shipping season at Holland on Friday, arriving early with a load of stone for the nearly empty Verplank dock. Once empty, they shifted over to the Padnos dock to load a cargo of metal for recycling. They departed for Sault Ste. Marie at about 10 p.m.

Lorain, Ohio – Phil Leon
Joseph H. Thompson tug and barge were in port on Friday.

Port Colborne, Ont.
Cutting is continuing on the retired laker Algoma Progress at the Marine Recycling Corp. yard. This week the stacks and bridge were removed. The self-unloading boom is also gone.


Coast Guard station to hold open house May 2

4/25 - Port Huron, Mich. – The gates to U.S. Coast Guard Station Port Huron will open to the public next week. U.S. Coast Guard Station Port Huron will welcome visitors from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. May 2 during an open house at the station, 2800 Omar St.

Chief Pablo Mendoza, officer in charge for Station Port Huron, said people will be able to visit the station, learn more about it's mission and tour the crew's 25-foot and 45-foot response boats.

Members of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary will be on hand to review and discuss safe boating practices. "After such a long ice season, it's a great time to go through their boat again and make sure everything is in good working condition," Mendoza said.

Members of U.S. Customs and Border Protection will be on hand to review reporting requirements when a boater crosses the international border on Lake Huron and the St. Clair River. "They will explain that to the boaters so they know what they have to do if they do cross the border," Mendoza said.

Mendoza said when he started at Station Port Huron last summer, he had several residents ask him about the station, prompting the idea for an open house. "A couple of people approached me and asked me if we did tours," Mendoza said. "This will get us started on the right foot for the summer season."

The station's area of responsibility is the lower half of Lake Huron and the St. Clair River, from Port Sanilac to Algonac. About 18-23 active duty Coast Guard members work at Station Port Huron. They are responsible for search and rescue, law enforcement, homeland security, ice rescue, recreational boating safety and environmental protection.

Mendoza said people visiting the station are asked to have an ID with them.

Port Huron Times Herald


Bay City tall ship sets sail for season of education, fun

4/25 - Bay City, Mich. – An educational tall ship is back for another season on the Lake Huron waters off Bay City. The Bay City Times reports that the Appledore IV set sail last week on Saginaw Bay. It carried about 30 students from St. John Amelith Lutheran School in Bay County's Frankenlust Township.

They were taking part in the two-masted schooner's "Science Under Sail" program. Jodie Romzek is the new director of education for BaySail, which owns the Appledore IV and Appledore V tall ships. She says the program encourages science, technology, engineering and math careers.

BaySail officials plan to bring the program to Detroit area students next week, before spending two days in Port Austin and returning to Bay City for the final weeks of the school year.

Associated Press


Lookback #524 – Canadian Signaller sank on April 25, 1941, after being torpedoed

Canadian Signaller was Hull 63 from the Collingwood shipyard. It was built at a cost of $814,926 and completed in August 1919, for the Canadian Government's merchant marine.

The vessel was initially operated in the grain trade but was sold to the Canada-Cuba Line and renamed b) Emperor of Halifax in 1925. The ship continued to see some Great Lakes trading under this name until it was sold to Norwegian interests in 1929.

Renamed c) Skjoldheim the ship sailed 10 more years before being resold and renamed d) Polyana in 1939. It was damaged in an air attack at Great Yarmouth, UK on Jan. 25, 1941, and disappeared later in the year.

Postwar evidence indicates Polyana was torpedoed and sunk in the South Atlantic while on a voyage from Sunderland, England, with coal, to Freetown, Sierra Leone. It was attacked just before midnight on April 24, 1941, and sank in the early hours of April 25. All 25 on board perished 74 years ago today.

Skip Gillham


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. MC LAGAN 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.

1941 The CANADIAN SIGNALLER was built at Collingwood as Hull 63 in 1919. It was torpedoed and sunk as d) POLYANA by U-103 en route from from Sunderland, UK to Freetown, Sierre Leone, with a cargo of coal. It was attacked just before midnight April 24 and sank in the early hours on this date with all 25 on board being lost.

1968 The Misener steamer EVERETTON ran aground in the St. Lawrence on this date in 1968. Although the damage was considered minor, the ship was sold to Marine Salvage for scrap, resold to Spanish shipbrakers and arrived under tow at Bilbao, on September 23, 1968, for dismantling.

1998 The wooden goelettes MONT NOTRE DAME and MONT ROYAL were destroyed by a fire at St. Joseph-de-la-Rive, Quebec, where they were being preserved ashore as museum ships. MONT NOTRE DAME was one of the first units in the Transport Desgagnes fleet while MONT ROYAL was known to have been a Great Lakes visitor.

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


U.S. Coast Guard continues to investigate grounded Mississagi

4/24 - Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. – The Mississagi remains stuck after running aground in the St. Marys River Wednesday. Now crews are working to tirelessly to get it moving again.

The Coast Guard's was on scene all day Thursday trying to figure out how it got stuck

"Why they found themselves there is still part of the investigation. But unfortunately that’s where they are. There's a shoal charted at four feet so it's a hazardous shoal. The location they grounded is outside the normal path for that particular area, so there's a channel between two buoys," said Mike Hjkerstedt, Chief of Investigations, USCG.

“The freighter is sitting in four feet of water. So far, it looks like there's no damage. But crews must make sure nothing is leaking out of the freighter before they start to move it.”

Divers are expected on-scene sometime Friday. They say they hope to have a plan of action by this weekend.

The Mississagi was entering the downbound channel of the St. Marys River from Bruce Mines, Ont. after loading stone, when it ran aground in Potagannissing Bay approximately 4 miles northeast of De Tour Village early Wednesday. She is located near Big Trout Island Shoal Buoy #4 in the Turkey Trail, north of Drummond Island, in U.S. waters.

9 & 10 News


Port Reports -  April 24

Sturgeon Bay, Wis. – Daniel Lindner
CSL Assiniboine and Algolake, the last two remaining Canadian-flagged ships in Sturgeon Bay, departed on Thursday, both sporting new coats of paint. Their departures leave three ships, Arthur M. Anderson, Buffalo, and the tug Invincible, in winter layup.

Grand Haven, Mich. – Dick Fox
Olive Moore and Lewis J. Kuber delivered the first load of stone of the season to Meekhof's D & M Dock on Harbor Island in Grand Haven. He tug and barge came in very early Thursday morning and were observed backing away from the dock at 11 am. The only dock yet to receive a shipment is the power plant, which is in the middle of a 6-8 week planned outage.

Detroit, Mich.
Great Republic was upbound on Thursday with a Stoneport destination. She has spent the past few weeks in Toledo in drydock.

Toronto, Ont. – Jens Juhl
The Polsteam bulker Juno arrived at Redpath early this Thursday morning and immediately commenced discharging sugar. With the Canfornav bulker Bluebill at anchor over in Port Weller, unloading the Juno will probably be a around the clock operation. The Ports Toronto spud Derrick 50 and the Toronto Drydock tug M.R. Kane deployed the inner harbor airport keep out buoys overnight this past Monday. The job has to be done between midnight and 6 am while the airport is shut down.


“Know Your Ships” editor to speak on Harsens Island Saturday

4/24 - Harsens Island, Mich. – The Harsens Island St. Clair Flats Historical Society will present Roger LeLievre, author and publisher of: “Know Your Ships,” this Saturday at 3 p.m. at the Schoolhouse Grille on the Island.

Over the years, LeLievre has had the good fortune to ride aboard many Great Lakes vessels, including the iconic Edward L. Ryerson, the workhorse Maumee, the new Algoma Equinox, the Kaye E. Barker, the Wilfred Sykes and more. This program will focus on what it's like to be aboard a lake freighter, and will feature many images from LeLievre's voyages.

He will also have copies of the 2015 Know Your Ships on hand to sell and sign.

The lecture will be: Saturday, April 25, at 3 p.m. at the Historic Harsens Island Schoolhouse Grille, 2669 Columbine Rd, Harsens Island. To make reservations for this event, as seating is limited, contact Nancy Licata at 810-748-1825 or via e-mail at: A $10 donation is suggested to help support the lecture series.

Harsens Island St. Clair Flats Historical Society


Marine Historical Society of Detroit dinner opened to the public

4/24 - Due to popular demand, the Marine Historical Society of Detroit has opened its annual dinner meeting, next Saturday evening, to the public. The dinner will be held at the River Crab, 1337 N. River Road in St Clair, Mich., at 5 p.m. May 2.

Guest speaker will be Lillian Kluka, Canada's first female captain, who sailed with the Paterson fleet and who also piloted saltwater vessels during her 25-year-career.

Dinner cost is $45 (U.S.) per person, and reservations may be made at Reservations must be made by next Friday.



Lookback #523 – Festivity and Saguenay in Lake St. Clair collision on April 24, 1975

The laker Saguenay and the Panamanian salty Festivity collided in Lake St. Clair on April 24, 1975. Fortunately, it was not the head-on variety and only resulted in minor damage to the two ships.

Saguenay, part of the Canada Steamship Lines fleet, had been built at Lauzon, QC, in 1964 and converted to a self-unloader in 1971-1972. The ship had a good career on the Great Lakes, and after receiving special deck strengthening in 1976-1977, saw coastal service between Sydney, NS, and Hamilton with coal.

It last operated in 1992 and was towed to Bangladesh as b) M.A.C. Gagne in 2004 for scrapping.

Festivity had been built at Port Glasgow, Scotland, in 1953 and served the British & Burmese Steam Navigation Co. as Kohima. The vessel moved under the flag of Panama as b) Festivity in 1966 and first came through the Seaway that year.

The 455-foot-long saltie ran aground off Ulsan, South Korea, on July 18, 1977, and, while refloated, was deemed a total loss. It arrived at Bilbao, Spain, for scrapping on Nov. 9, 1977.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  April 24

News Photo Gallery
Lay-up list updated
New Video on our YouTube Channel


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 crewmembers were trapped below decks and died. Captain Duncan Graham was washed away and drowned. The remaining seven crewmembers 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.

1948 A collision between the HARRY L. FINDLAY and the Canadian tanker JOHN IRWIN occurred in the St. Clair River, near Recors Point on this date. The stem bar was twisted and plates set back on the American bulk carrier and these were repaired at Lorain. It later sailed as c) PAUL L. TIETJEN. The tanker saw further service as c) WHITE ROSE II, d) WHITE ROSE and e) FUEL MARKETER (ii).

1975 The Canadian self-unloader SAGUENAY sustained minor damage in a collision in Lake St. Clair with the Panamanian freighter FESTIVITY on this date. The latter had begun coming to the Great Lakes in 1966. It had been damaged in a grounding on July 18, 1977, and arrived at Bilbao, Spain, for scrapping on November 9, 1977.

1989 GENERAL VARGAS arrived at Green Bay and was being towed by the tug MINNIE SELVICK when the latter was crushed against pilings around a railway bridge and sank. All on board were rescued but the tug was a total loss. The Philippine registered freighter had begun Great Lakes trading as a) BRUNTO in 1977 and reacquired that name in 1994. It was scrapped at Aliaga, Turkey, as f) LINDEN after arriving on July 19, 2011.

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


Coast Guard responding to grounded Mississagi

4/23 - Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. – The Coast Guard continues to respond to a 603-foot bulk carrier which ran aground near De Tour Village, Mich., early Wednesday.

The Mississagi was entering the downbound channel of the St. Marys River from Bruce Mines, Ont. after loading stone, when it ran aground in Potagannissing Bay approximately 4 miles northeast of De Tour Village early Wednesday. She is located near Big Trout Island Shoal Buoy #4 in the Turkey Trail, north of Drummond Island, in U.S. waters.

The Coast Guard responded with a 25-foot Response Boat-Small from Station Sault Ste Marie as well as a 45-foot Response Boat-Medium from Station St. Ignace, Michigan. At first light a helicopter crew from Air Station Traverse City, Mich., aboard an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter flew over the vessel to confirm there was no pollution.

The bow of the vessel is aground and the fuel tanks are located near the stern of the vessel. Vessel navigation is unimpeded. The crew of the Mississagi is working with the Northeast Tech Salvage Company to create a salvage plan. The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Buckthorn is scheduled to conduct aids to navigation verification.

The Coast Guard is also establishing a 500-yard safety zone around the vessel. There were no reported injuries to the crew and no reported pollution.



Juno freed, heads to Toronto to unload sugar cargo

4/23 - The saltwater vessel Juno is headed to Toronto, Ont., under her own power after being freed by tugs Wednesday morning.

The Polsteam bulker ran aground early Monday under the Thousand Islands Bridge near Alexandria Bay in New York state. The vessel suffered damage to its bow and was taking on water.

According to the industry publication TradeWinds, the incident was a result of a rudder failure caused by an electrical fault. Damage was limited to the forepeak ballast tank.

The Juno will discharge its sugar cargo in Toronto, then head to a yet-to-be-named shipyard for repairs.

Ron Beaupre, TradeWinds


Lower Lakes Towing’s new vessel forebody launched in China

4/23 - One of the largest bulk shipping companies on the Great Lakes, Rand Logistics, Inc., New York, NY, recently announced the launch of its forebody at China’s Chengxi Shipyard Co. The new forebody will be affixed to the aft section of Rand’s recently acquired Danish-flagged vessel Lalandia Swan. When the vessel enters service in the fourth quarter of this year, she will be named Manitoulin, according to Transport Canada.

The new ship will become the first new Canadian-flagged River Class self-unloader introduced into service on the Great Lakes in over 40 years. It will increase the size of Rand's fleet to 16, including 10 Canadian-flagged and six U.S.-flagged vessels (including three Articulated Tug Barge units). When introduced, it will have the largest carrying capacity of any existing Canadian-flagged River Class self-unloader.

Rand vessels carry aggregates, coal, iron ore, salt, and grain. River Class ships vary in length from 620 to 650 feet in length, with carrying capacities ranging from 17,000 to 22,000 tons.

Scott Bravener, president of Lower Lakes Towing, called the launch of the forebody a “milestone event.”

“The new vessel is fully booked with long-term contractual business and is expected to be the most efficient River Class-vessel on the Great Lakes,” Bravener added. “The introduction of this vessel into service is one of the elements of our strategic plan to improve our return on invested capital and, based on our current expectations, the new vessel will be accretive to return on invested capital in its first full year of service.”

Click here for video of the launch




Port Reports -  April 23

Seaway – René Beauchamp
Two new ships are expected in the Seaway in the next few days according to the Canadian Coast Guard – Fagelgracht bound for Valleyfield from Antwerpen and Umgeni for Hamilton. Umgeni is a fleet mate and sister ship of Kowie, which transited in 2011 and last year.


Coast Guard says no to river-barge route from Mississippi to Muskegon

4/23 - Muskegon, Mich. – A year and a half after it was initially proposed, the U.S. Coast Guard has made its ruling on a proposed river barge route to Muskegon.

Michigan Agri-Business Association President Jim Byrum confirmed April 22 that the Coast Guard has denied the Lansing-based organization's petition to allow barges from the Mississippi River system to travel on Lake Michigan along the western shore of Michigan.

"We're extraordinarily disappointed," Byrum said. "But frankly, we're a trade association and the real losers in this are the citizens of Muskegon and the surrounding areas. There are many businesses that would have embraced the barge opportunity. I'm sure there will be efforts to fill the void in the transportation infrastructure that exists on west side, unfortunately, it's not going to be water born."

The MABA's proposal was similar to the situation permitted between Calumet, Ill. and Burns Harbor, Ill., and between Calumet and Milwaukee, but the Coast Guard found some "significant differences," according to its report.

The reasons for denying the proposal include a history of more severe weather on the eastern side of Lake Michigan, the lack of ports of refuge on the West coast of Michigan and the lack of quantified potential economic benefits.

The Coast Guard also considered comments made during a 90-day comment period. Twenty-three of the 92 total comments opposed the barge route to Muskegon, citing concerns about the catastrophic environmental impact cargo lost into Lake Michigan would have.

Other opposing comments expressed concern that the route would cause the spread of Asian carp and/or other invasive species from the Mississippi River system. The volatile weather on the east side of Lake Michigan was also a sticking point for many, according to the report.

"I think they hung their hat on safety," Byrum said. "We've always embraced safety as a major issue from the start. The biggest challenge is they talk about three-barge towing that we had never suggested as an option. I've expressed to the Coast Guard my disappointment that we didn't have the opportunity to react to some of their concerns. Perhaps we could have pooled resources that could have helped them make a more comprehensive decision."

The immediate impact on Muskegon could be large. Combined with the closing of the B.C. Cobb plant in April of 2016, the lack of tonnage to the Port of Muskegon could mean the Army Corps of Engineers could stop dredging the port.

The Army Corps of Engineers has a freight tonnage threshold, with harbors over 1 million tons annually classified as a high-use commercial harbors, qualifying them for dredging.

It's not an end-all-be-all classification however; funding for dredging could still be provided if the Port of Muskegon fell under the million-ton threshold. Special legislation is also a possibility.

Byrum said MABA doesn't have immediate plans to fight the decision, but will be "taking a deep breath" to explore options and talk with supporters. He thanked U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga and U.S. Rep. Fred Upton for their support throughout the process.

M Live


Great Lakes Shipyard gets drydocking contract for Miller Boat Line’s Put-In-Bay

4/23 - Cleveland, Ohio – Great Lakes Shipyard has been awarded a drydocking contract for Miller Boat Line’s motor vessel Put-In-Bay. The ferry was hauled out recently using the 770-ton capacity Marine Travelift at Great Lakes Shipyard. The repair contract includes drydocking, inspection & repairs, hull cleaning, and miscellaneous fabrication and steel repairs.

This is the first drydocking for Put-In-Bay at Great Lakes Shipyard since spring 2010, when Great Lakes Shipyard completed reconstruction work including fabrication and installation of a 40-foot mid-body extension and main engine repowering. The mid-body extension of the Put-in-Bay increased the length of the vessel from 96-feet to 136-feet overall and nearly doubled its carrying capacity. The project also included the installation of new rudders, a new steering system, new main engine keel cooling system, generator overhauls, and new propellers.

Great Lakes Shipyard


Lookback # 522 – Westdale blown aground at Goderich on April 23, 1975

Longevity made the steamer H.C. Heimbecker one of the most popular ships around the Great Lakes in its later days. The vessel had been built at Superior, Wis., and launched on June 26, 1905, for the Pittsburgh Steamship Co.

Originally the George W. Perkins, it spent its early years working as part of the U.S. Steel fleet. The 569-foot-long bulk carrier sailed the upper four Great Lakes interrupted by what must be termed only minor collisions and a grounding.

The ship tied up at Milwaukee in June 1960 and was idle until it re-entered service as b) Westdale of Westdale Shipping in 1964. It was registered initially in Hamilton, Bermuda, but later transferred under the Canadian flag.

Several modifications helped account for the ship's longevity. It was re-boilered in the 1930s, given 17 one-piece hatch covers in 1940-1941 and converted to burn oil in 1972-1973. Additional cargo holds with two screen bulkheads, were installed in the 1970s making it valuable in the parcel grain trade.

Westdale was stuck for about 15 hours when it grounded at the entrance to Goderich on April 23, 1975. The then 70-year-old ship was pulled free with no damage in the incident of 40 years ago today.

This proved to be the last bulk carrier in the Westdale fleet and it joined the Soo River Co. as c) H.C. Heimbecker in 1977. It continued in the Great Lakes grain trade until a crack in the boiler was discovered on Oct. 29, 1981. The ship arrived at Ashtabula, Ohio, on Nov. 2, 1981, and scrapping got underway the next day.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  April 23

News Photo Gallery
Saltie Gallery updated with pictures of the Apollon, Florijngracht, Harbour First, Sten Bergen and TransHawk.
Lay-up list updated
New Video on our YouTube Channel


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.

1916 The grain laden COLLINGWOOD stranded in Whitefish Bay due to ice and fog and was not released until April 27.

1929 The canaller IMARI was on its delivery trip from Port Talbot, Wales, to Canada when it lost the propeller blades, due to ice, off Scaterie Island, Nova Scotia. The vessel later sailed the Great Lakes as b) DELAWARE, d) MANICOUAGAN, e) WASHINGTON TIMES HERALD and f) MANITOULIN.

1945 EFTYCHIA, a Greek freighter, came to the Great Lakes for one trip in 1961. Earlier, as the British freighter RIVERTON, it had been torpedoed by U-1023 off southwest England on April 23, 1945, and three lives were lost. The vessel arrived at Kaohsiung, Taiwan, as c) BOAZ ESPERANZA for scrapping on March 20, 1969.

1975 WESTDALE (ii) ran aground at the entrance to Goderich harbour while inbound with grain and was stuck for 15 hours before being pulled free.

1988 QUEDOC (iii) was upbound in the Seaway when it was in a collision with the BIRCHGLEN (I) under tow for scrap, and went aground in Lake St. Louis near Buoy 2A. Four tugs were needed to pull the ship free and it went to Port Weller Dry Docks for repairs.

1991 MARINE TRANSPORT operated around Maritime Canada but had come to the Great Lakes as c) C. OMER MARIE. It ran into ice and sank on April 23, 1991, about 10 miles off Cape Race, NF. The vessel was under R.C.M.P. surveillance when it was lost and all on board were rescued only to be arrested.

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


Mississagi aground in St. Marys River

4/22 - The Coast Guard is responding to a 603-foot bulk carrier which ran aground in the St. Marys River near De Tour Village, Michigan, early Wednesday.

The Mississagi, with a load of stone, was transiting downbound the St. Marys River from Bruce Mines, Ontario, when it ran aground in the Potagannissing Bay approximately 4 miles northeast of De Tour Village.

There are no reported injuries to the crew and no reported pollution.

At about 1:00 a.m., the vessel notified a watchstander at Coast Guard Sector Sault Ste Marie, Michigan, that the carrier was hard aground on shoal water in the vicinity of De Tour Village.

The Coast Guard responded with a 25-foot Response Boat-Small from Station Sault Ste Marie as well as a 45-foot Response Boat-Medium from Station St. Ignace, Michigan. At first light a helicopter crew from Air Station Traverse City, Michigan, aboard an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter flew over the vessel to confirm there was no pollution.

The bow of the vessel is aground and the fuel tanks are located near the stern of the vessel.

Vessel navigation in the St. Marys River is currently unimpeded.


Juno refloated

4/22 - Collins Landing, N.Y. – 7:30 a.m. update - At 7:15 Wednesday the two Groupe Ocean tugs pulled Juno stern first down and out from under the 1000 Islands Bridge. They immediately went ahead and the ship is now under her own power up bound for the Carleton Island anchorage with the tugs escorting.

Original report - Coast Guard officials are reviewing a plan to move the grounded Juno, which has been stranded under the Thousand Islands Bridge since early Monday morning.

U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Christopher M. Yaw, based in Cleveland, said it was unclear when the vessel might be moved. “The main thing right now is making sure everything is done safely,” he said.

Crews have spent the last day assessing the damage to the Juno, which grounded around 1 a.m. Monday as it carried sugar to Toronto. Around noon Tuesday, the Canadian tugboats Ocean Georgie Bain and Ocean Ross Gaudreault arrived at the scene to help move the ship.

The grounding of the Juno has held up nearby shipping on the St. Lawrence Seaway. The Coast Guard said Tuesday afternoon seven vessels are waiting for the channel to re-open.

The 621-foot bulk carrier, flagged in the Bahamas, is owned and operated by Polska Zeg Luga Morska P.P., a subsidiary of the O’Brien’s Group.

The vessel is slightly listing to port with 18 feet of water in its forward peak, the Coast Guard said. No cargo or fuel was spilled into the waterway, and no crew injuries were reported.

The cause of the grounding is still under investigation, Petty Officer Yaw said. Crews were still at the site as of about 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, he said.

Also aiding at the scene were officials from the Canadian Coast Guard, the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation, St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation, Polsteam USA, Seaway Traffic, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and Jefferson County.

Watertown Daily Times, Ron Beaupre


Canadian Soo cuts support for Norgoma

4/22 - Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. – City council rejected several funding requests to whittle the tax levy increase down to 1.89 percent at its 2015 budget meeting Monday. One of those requests was for $15,000 to assist with operation of the Museum Ship Norgoma.

The Norgoma, anchored on Sault Ste. Marie's waterfront, has relied partly on financial support from council for several years to assist with operational costs.

"We're very disappointed," said Gord Smedley, St. Mary's River Marine Heritage Centre board chair, speaking to SooToday Tuesday. "It means we'll have to put off some of our necessary maintenance on the ship."

"Specifically, the wheelhouse and the captain's cabins have been very nicely restored in the past, there's a lot of fine woodwork in them and they're in extremely mint condition, but the deck above them is not in such good condition and we're afraid leakage of that deck is going to cause damage to the restored areas, which would be a step backwards," Smedley said.

"Certainly the $15,000 would have been very useful to us…to repair the decks over top of those cabins, that would run in the range of $15,000 to $20,000."

However, Smedley said all is not lost for the vessel as an operational tourist attraction. "As far as our operations for this year is concerned we're in good shape because we had a very good 2014 (though Smedley did not have dollar figures immediately available)."

"We're looking forward to an even better year in terms of attendance and events this year and hopefully some of that revenue can go into ongoing maintenance of the ship."

Smedley said the Norgoma group has gained approval, through other sources of funding, to hire two students to paint the ship this summer and is hopeful of being able to hire a third student. "We just hope we'll able to find enough money to provide the raw materials for them." The Norgoma group also hopes to hire another paid assistant manager (as it did in 2014) to help generate funds through organizing special events aboard the vessel, but was not at liberty to say what the funding source for that assistant manager position would be.

Smedley said the Norgoma group already has a number of wedding receptions planned for 2015, and hopes to repeat a magic show event and a Halloween event, as well as hosting a trade show.

Smedley said he anticipates another application for funding will be made to council in 2016.

"I think after 2014 and another good year in 2015 we'll be able to show (council) we're making real progress and proving our financial stability…we've appreciated council's support in the past and we look forward to renewal of it."

Plans to turn the Norgoma into a bed and breakfast is "a long way away," Smedley said. "We've done a study and we know exactly what we have to do to meet building code requirements, we know roughly what it's going to cost, so it's a long way in the future," Smedley said.

Soo Today


Book about the history of Interlake Steamship Co. now available

4/22 - In 1913, Interlake Steamship Co. was organized in what the New York Times then called the largest merger of Great Lake vessels since the formation of Pittsburgh Steamship Company. In 1958, Walter Havinghurst published “Vein of Iron,” which recounted the historic events leading up to the creation of the steamship company. Now, in 2015, “The Interlake Steamship Company: In Service to America Since 1913,” is available to the public.

The new book was written and designed by Ned Whalen, a Cleveland native who spent much of his life as an investigative reporter for the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Whelan was introduced to Great Lakes history by none other than Elton (Pete) Hoyt II. Sadly, Whalen died unexpectedly in 2013, as the book neared completion.

“The Interlake Steamship Company” is a large soft-back coffee table book that tells the history unlike the traditional histories of yesteryear. Using vignettes, historical, personal and topical and hundreds of images of people, boats and events, this book details the important history of the company through 2013.

The book runs 132 pages and is 16” by 11” in size. It is available only through the National Museum of the Great Lakes’ museum store and can be ordered by phone at 419-214-5000. The book retails at $44.95 plus shipping. Individuals can also purchase the book in person at the museum located at 1701 Front St., Toledo, Ohio 43605.



Port Reports -  April 22

Seaway – René Beauchamp
Johanna C arrived in Montreal for Seaway inspection on Tuesday. Her next destination is Duluth to unload windmills components. To my knowledge, this is the first vessel with such a cargo so far this year. She is the second vessel of that name for Carisbrooke Shipping to go in the lakes. The first one, much smaller, came in 2001. Two CSL bulkers wintering in Montreal, Atlantic Erie and Birchglen, have yet to resume service.


Lookback # 521 – Patricia B. McAllister holed by ice and sunk on April 22, 1991

The tug Patricia B. McAllister came through the Seaway in 1989 to help in the salvage of a sunken barge. The vessel is believed to have hit solid ice off the Gaspe Peninsula, sinking to a depth of 320 feet in the early morning hours of April 22, 1991.

The hull was later located on the bottom and found to have a 30-foot hole. Only one of the six sailors on board survived the tragedy of 24 years ago today.

The 120- foot-long Patricia B. McAllister was built at Fort George Island, Florida, and completed as Esso Santa Cruz in 1976. It was used at Aruba assisting large tankers at the local Esso refinery. The name was changed to Santa Cruz in 1987 and it operated as such until the sale to McAllister in 1988.

On arrival at Montreal on July 17, 1988, the ship was renamed and given an extensive refit. After operating on the tropics, one of the needs was a heating system and it was also given ice strengthening for winter work on the St. Lawrence.

Patricia B. McAllister first came to the Great Lakes in April 1989, to help free the 275-foot barge OLS-30 that capsized and sunk near Rogers City, Mich., in October 1988 with a cargo of calcium chloride. This was one of the tugs used to tow the upside down hull into Calcite, Mich., where it was off loaded, then taken back into deep water and righted.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  April 22

News Photo Gallery
Saltie Gallery updated with pictures of the Andesborg, Johanna C, MarBacan, and Pantanal.


Today in Great Lakes History -  April 22

22 April 1873 - 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.

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

CSL's HOCHELAGA lost her self-unloading boom during a windstorm at Windsor, Ontario, on April 22, 1980. As a consequence, she made 10 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-masted wooden schooner JAMES COUCH was launched at Port Huron, Michigan. She was named for a prominent Chicago businessman of the time.

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.

1917: NEEPAWAH, formerly part of Canada Steamship Lines, was captured by U53 a German submarine and sunk by timed bombs. The vessel had been carrying pyrites from Huelva, Spain, to Rouen, France, and went down about 120 miles west of Bishop's Rock.

1924: BROOKTON lost her way in heavy snow and ran aground on Russell Island Shoal near Owen Sound. The vessel was released the next day with the help of a tug. Her career ended with scrapping at Hamilton as g) BROOKDALE (i) in 1966-1967.

1947: HARRY YATES (ii) stranded on Tecumseh Reef, Lake Erie, but was soon released. The vessel became c) BLANCHE HINDMAN (ii) in 1960 and was scrapped at Santander, Spain, in 1968.

1955: Fire destroyed the historic wooden passenger steamers MAID OF THE MIST and MAID OF THE MIST II at their winter quarters in Niagara Falls, ON. The blaze broke out due to an errant welding spark during the annual fit-out and the Niagara Falls Fire Chief suffered a heart attack and died at the scene.

1968: ALHELI, a Lebanese registered Liberty ship, made three trips to the Great Lakes in 1964. The vessel began leaking 900 miles east of Bermuda while en route from Almeria, Spain, to Wilminton, DE, with fluorspar on this date and was abandoned by the crew. The ship went down April 24.

1972: CHAMPLAIN arrived in Canada from overseas in 1959 and saw occasional Great Lakes service. It became f) GILANI in 1970 and toppled on her side at Vercheres due to the swell from a passing ship on April 22, 1972. The ship was refloated several days later.

1973: An explosion in the engine room of the C.P. AMBASSADOR blew a six-foot-hole in the side of the hull during a storm about 420 miles east of Newfoundland. The ship was abandoned, save for the captain and chief engineer, and was towed into St. John's, NF on May 4. It had been a Great Lakes visitor as a) BEAVEROAK beginning when new in 1965. The damage was repaired and the vessel resumed service on July 14, 1973. It was eventually scrapped as f) FLAMINGO at Gadani Beach, Pakistan, following arrival on April 30, 1984.

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


Thousand Islands shipping halted after sugar freighter runs aground

4/21 - Alexandria Bay, N.Y. – The two Groupe Ocean tugs, Ocean Georgie Bain and Ocean Ross Gaudreault, are headed for the grounded Juno. Meanwhile the number of ships sitting at anchor or secured to docks waiting continues to grow.

Original repot - Shipping along the St. Lawrence Seaway remained halted Monday night after a freighter carrying sugar ran aground under the Thousand Islands Bridge early Monday.

Lt. Brian T. Hillman, a spokesman for the U.S. Coast Guard based in Buffalo, said the 621-foot-long freighter Juno called for help about 1 a.m. Monday. No cargo or fuel was spilled into the waterway, he said, and no crew injuries were reported. The vessel was listing slightly to port with 18 feet of water in the forward peak of the vessel.

The ship, flagged in the Bahamas, was heading toward Toronto. It is owned and operated by Polsteam. The pilot onboard was fully licensed. Lt. Hillman said Coast Guard and company crews are investigating the cause of the stoppage, assessing damage to the vessel as they wait for a salvage team that is en route including two Groupe Ocean tugs that should be on scene Tuesday.

At 6:30 p.m. Monday, U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Levi A. Read, based in Cleveland, said three ships were stopped because of the Juno’s grounding. He said the Juno might not be able to leave the area until Wednesday, and the crew will stay on board the freighter in the interim.

The river is closed to traffic. Atlantic Huron was the first ship to stop above the bridge. She is anchored near Carleton Island. Radcliffe R. Latimer is anchored below Brockville. Algoma Olympic has unloaded at Johnstown and is waiting at the dock.

Watertown Daily Times


Port Reports -  April 21

Toronto, Ont. – Jens Juhl
The tug Sea Eagle II and barge St.Marys Cement II weathered the southeasterly blow of the past two days over at Terminal 52. Just down the dock the Toronto Ports spud Derrick 50 was loading the airport keep out buoys. The ferry Thomas Rennie is in Toronto Drydock for its five-year haul out.


Lookback #520 – Former Seaway saltie Donatella Parodi caught fire on April 21, 1981

The Italian freighter Donatella Parodi was a Great Lakes trader in 1965. The ship had been built at Genoa, Italy, and completed in April 1957 for Amicizia Soc. Di Nav. The 483 foot, 3 inch long by 62 foot, 9 inch wide cargo carrier was registered at 8629 gross tons and able to handle 12540 tons per trip.

It was sold and renamed b) Agua Marina in 1968 and then c) Valencia in 1970. Both sailed under the flag of Liberia. It moved to Panamanian registry as d) Europa in 1976, as e) Maratona in 1978 and finally as f) Marika L. in 1981.

A fire broke out in the engine room while trading from Varna, Bulgaria, to Karachi, Pakistan, on April 21, 1981. The blaze of 34 years ago today erupted on the Mediterranean about 60 miles east of the island of Crete.

Marika L. was abandoned by the crew but was brought into Eleusis, Greece, under tow, on April 25. The vessel was, in time, arrested and partially sank. It was sold, via auction, on Jan. 26, 1986, and resold to Turkish shipbreakers.

One last trip remained and the pumped out vessel arrived at Aliaga, Turkey, on March 18, 1987, and was broken up by Birlik Iron & Steel.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  April 21

News Photo Gallery


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.

EDWIN H. GOTT cleared Two Harbors, Minn., 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 - 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.

1963: The hull of the Swedish freighter HELGA SMITH cracked en route from Montreal to Kristiansand, Norway, and the crew abandoned the ship. The vessel was taken in tow but sank April 23 while ten miles off Cape Broyle, Newfoundland. The ship had been completed in December 1944 and had been a Seaway trader since 1960.

1981: The Italian freighter DONATELLA PARODI first came inland in 1965 at the age of 8. It was sailing as f) MARIKA K. when a fire broke out in the engineroom on this day in 1981. The vessel was en route from Varna, Bulgaria, to Karachi, Pakistan, when the blaze erupted on the Mediterranean some 60 miles east of Crete. The ship was abandoned by the crew but towed to Eleusis, Greece. It was laid up, later put under arrest and was partially sunk. Following an auction, the hull was pumped out, towed into Aliaga, Turkey, on May 18, 1987, and broken up.

1986: ALGOPORT was inbound at Grand Haven, MI with a cargo of salt when it hit the seawall.

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


Juno grounds, river close to traffic

4/20 - 3 p.m. update - Early Monday morning the Polsteam ship Juno went aground under the 1000 Islands Bridge after suffering some type of steering failure. She is hard aground on the north side of the channel directly under the bridge. Juno went ashore just after midnight and is loaded with sugar for Toronto.

The vessel is slightly listing to port with 18-feet of water in the forward peak, there are no reported injuries to the crew, and no reported pollution.

The river is closed to traffic, Atlantic Huron was the first ship to stop above the bridge. She is anchored near Carleton Island. Radcliffe R Latimer is anchored below Brockville. Algoma Olympic has unloaded at Johnstown and is waiting at the dock.

Ron Beaupre


Lorain's derelict ‘ghost ship' sits in legal limbo

4/20 - Lorain, Ohio – Unbeknown to some, Lorain is home to its very own “ghost ship” – a 90-foot vessel that mysteriously showed up on the Black River in the early 2000s having run aground underneath the Lofton Henderson Memorial Bridge. It has sat there derelict ever since.

Last registered in 2008, the boat, now named the Upper Canada, has puzzled officials from the U.S. Coast Guard as well as the Lorain Port Authority for over a decade. “At this point, the boat is not officially registered to anybody and no one knows who owns it,” said Ed Favre, marine patrol officer of the Lorain Port Authority.

A 1997 article by the Owen Sound Sun Times states that the boat was built in Owen Sound, Canada, by Russel Brothers Limited as an automobile and passenger ferry for a company called Restigouche Ferries. She was originally named the Romeo and Annette and entered service in 1949 under command of Capt. Romeo Allard, who ran a ferry service between Bathurst, New Brunswick and Quebec’s Gaspe Peninsula. A Russel Brothers newsletter published in 1949 states that the ship could carry 12 cars, hold up to 40 passengers, was operated by a crew of six and came equipped with two life boats.

The vessel was built large enough that it was constructed with living quarters below the forward deck, complete with air conditioning. She was powered by twin diesel engines that were rated at 550 horsepower, powering a 50-inch three-blade propeller with an average speed of 10 knots. When she was built, she was hailed as “one of the most modern and completely equipped vessels operating in Canada.”

Records show that in 1965, ownership of the vessel was transferred to the Ministry of Highways and was renamed the Upper Canada where she continued operation, carrying passengers and automobiles between Wolfe Island and Kingston, Ontario.

In the 1970s, she was removed from service after being replaced by another ferry, the Wolfe Islander III, and was taken to Leamington, Ontario, to be used as a back up boat for the Pelee Islander. During the early 1990s, her route was once again changed when she was leased to the Beausoleil First Nation for Christian Island Service, where she served until the late 1990s.

According to the Great Lakes Vessels Online Index, maintained by Bowling Green State University, a man named Al Johnson took ownership of the Upper Canada sometime in 1999. City officials are unsure how or why a Canadian registered boat ran aground in Lorain, and with no way to contact the owner, there seems little that can be done at this point.

Even the Coast Guard has no record of how or why it came to rest on the Black River, Bosun Mate First Class Eric Eberl said. “The tough thing for us, is that we rotate every three or four years, so no one really knows about it or when exactly it was left there,” Eberl said.

Eberl said that after it did show up and was finally considered abandoned, the Coast Guard inspected the ship to make sure that it did not pose an environmental hazard by leaking pollution. But beyond that, it doesn’t fall under their responsibility.

“We try not to get in the practice of dealing with abandoned vessels,” Eberl said. “It doesn’t fall under our responsibility unless it became a hazard of some sort, or it broke free of its moorings and posed a navigation problem on the river.”

Since the boat still technically sits in the river, although it has run aground, the legal aspect of what to do with it is complicated, said Maritime Attorney James Reinheimer. In order to salvage the boat or remove it, someone would need to have a claim against the vessel to try and get a title for it, he said. Somebody would need a monetary claim to do anything with it, Reinheimer said.

“Just running aground and abandoning the boat doesn’t give any individual or company a claim against the vessel,” Reinheimer said. The legalities would be less complicated if it was sitting on land.

“For instance, if it was sitting in a marina, they would be owed storage fees,” Reinheimer said. “That would give them a right that could be enforced in court to take the vessel and sell it for payment of the storage fees.”

Favre said that the Lorain Port Authority has renewed its interest in finding the last registered owner of the ship, but the issue is complicated since it was never re-registered after the registration expired in 2008. So the owner may not even be the same person, he said.

“We have this boat just sitting here on the river and no one knows who currently owns it,” Favre said. “It’s not that we want to go after the owner, but just as a point of information, we have this vessel here and we need to know who to get ahold of incase of an emergency.” Until that time, the fate of the ferry is as mysterious as the reason it came to rest in Lorain.

Lorain Morning Journal


New Quebec ferry F.A. Gauthier Arrives in Matane

4/20 - Matane, Que. – The Société des Traversiers du Québec’s new ferry F.A. Gauthier arrived in Matane on Saturday, completing its delivery trip from Italy. The ship was built by Fincantieri shipyard in Castellammare di Stabia (near Naples) and launched on June 28, 2014. It will likely be North America’s first LNG- fueled ferry when it enters service later this year. The ship has a duel fuel - electric propulsion system, featuring four Wärtsilä 34DF dual fuel engines and Wärtsilä’s LNGPac liquefied natural gas fuel system. The engines can also run on marine diesel fuel.

The ship is designed for the Matane to Baie Comeau and Matane to Godbout runs with an ice classification of 1A. The ship is 133 meters (436’) long with a 22 meter (72’) beam, with bow and stern loading ramps. It is designed to carry 800 passengers and 180 cars. It is replacing the 1974-built Camille-Marcoux, which has a capacity of 600 passengers and 120 vehicles.

F.A. Gauthier is named in honor of Félix-Adrien Gauthier, the former mayor of the town of Matane and founder of the Matane-Godbout ferry route.

Société des traversiers du Québec has two additional duel fuel ferries on order. The 92 meter (302 foot) long Armand-Imbeau II and Jos-Deschênes II are intended for the Saguenay Fjord crossing near Tadoussac. The sister ships will accommodate as many as 110 vehicles on the main deck, and a small second deck over the LNG fuel tanks. They are being built by Chantier Davie at Lévis, Quebec, and will also be powered by Wärtsilä dual fuel engines.

Launching of the F.A. Gauthier video
Video of the arrival at Matane on Saturday

Compiled by Tom Hynes from various internet sources


Port Reports -  April 20

St. Marys River – Teresa Snook
Her icebreaking duties in the upper lakes at an end, the CCG Martha L. Black was downbound at the Soo on Sunday.

Saginaw River – Todd Shorkey
Algoway called on the Saginaw River on Sunday, traveling upriver to unload at the Buena Vista dock in Saginaw. She completed her unload and was back outbound for the lake during the early evening. The Olive L. Moore - Lewis J. Kuber made their first visit to the Saginaw River on Sunday, calling on the Wirt Stone dock in Bay City. The pair was unloading there Sunday night.

Sandusky, Ohio – Emerson Young
John D. Leitch loaded at Norfolk Southern’s coal dock Saturday, while American Mariner waited.

Buffalo, N.Y. – Brian W.
Algomarine arrived for the Gateway Metroport Main Dock Sunday afternoon. She winded in the Outer Harbor and backed into the Lackawanna Canal at 5:15 p.m.


Shipping Great Lakes water? That's California dreaming

4/20 - Detroit, Mich. – Amid rising water supply crises, could the parched American Southwest ever get its hands on the world's most abundant and valuable liquid fresh water supply — our Great Lakes?

Setting aside the astronomical expense and infrastructure requirements, as a policy matter, a large-scale diversion of Great Lakes water is a virtual impossibility. But that's only because of states and Canadian provinces around the lakes coming together to solidify protections within the last decade.

The latest need for a big water supply is a longstanding, but still escalating, crisis in drought-stricken California. Gov. Jerry Brown earlier this month mandated a 25% water-use reduction for residents and nonagricultural businesses.

"Today, we are standing on dry grass where there should be 5 feet of snow," Brown said as he made the announcement April 1 in California's Sierra Nevada mountains, a key source of water statewide. "This historic drought demands unprecedented action."

California isn't asking for Great Lakes water. No Southwest state is. But if the drought worsens, and population growth continues to soar there, desperate times could someday call for desperate measures.

Don't think the idea of a raid on Great Lakes water is that far-fetched. Plans were in the works to allow a Canadian company to sell Lake Superior water to Asia via tanker ships as recently as 1998. A coal company in 1981 wanted to pipe Superior water to Wyoming to move its semi-liquefied product back to the Midwest. And in 1982, Congress mandated that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers study the feasibility of using Great Lakes water to replenish supplies needed for the heavily agricultural Plains states. (It wasn't feasible.)

Who could make the call on such a water deal, anyway? Ownership of Great Lakes water is a matter of some debate. Traverse City environmental attorney Jim Olson is among the leading voices contending the water is a public trust, a natural resource requiring preservation in perpetuity for public use and enjoyment.

"This is a very important story right now, and will become more so in the next few months and years," he said, citing "the increasing pressure from world water shortages, and of course those in the U.S."

The biggest protection from large-scale Great Lakes diversions is public resolve, said Noah Hall, an environmental and water law professor at Wayne State University.

"From the lady on the street to the governor's office, it's really uniform," he said. "Throwing money at them really doesn't tempt people in terms of diverting water from the Great Lakes. The issue cuts Democrat and Republican, and it doesn't matter which Great Lakes state."

The lakes' main source of legal protection comes from the Great Lakes Compact, an agreement between eight Great Lakes states that was further approved by Congress and signed by President George W. Bush in 2008. The compact also includes Canada's two provinces on the lakes, Ontario and Quebec, and its terms cannot be changed without the approval of all compact member state and provincial governments.

On new and increased Great Lakes water diversions, the compact "just says plain as day: 'No diversions.' Period. Boom," Hall said.

Less formal Great Lakes water agreements existed before the compact. But it was a 1998 plan by a Canadian entrepreneur that spurred Great Lakes states into making lake diversions more strictly prohibited.

John Febbraro's Nova Group proposed exporting about 156 million gallons of Lake Superior water per year to Asia via tanker ships. The Ontario Ministry of the Environment approved the proposal before news of it spread and outraged Great Lakes residents and lawmakers on both sides of the border.

"It was a silly idea, but it raised enough concerns," said Ralph Pentland, chairman of the Canadian Water Issues Council at the University of Toronto.

Pentland co-chaired the International Joint Commission, a U.S. and Canadian agency that works to protect boundary waters and resolve disputes over them, at the time the Great Lakes Compact was devised.

"Shipping water from Lake Superior would be entirely impractical; it could never happen. But it made people think they should start preparing for these kinds of eventualities, even if it doesn't make economic sense now."

The compact differentiates products that contain water — beer brewed in Milwaukee; pop or water bottled in Michigan; a head of lettuce grown on a Midwestern farm — from water itself, Hall said.

"It's really quite common sense," he said. "We want to sell the products that require water, that we can make here, to the world."

The compact includes a controversial exemption allowing for water removal from the basin in containers of 5.8 gallons or less, often called the "bottled water exemption." However, a 2000 report by the International Joint Commission noted that the Great Lakes basin imports 14 times the amount of bottled water that is withdrawn and shipped elsewhere.

The bottled water issue came to a head in 2002, when Nestle Waters North America began operating its Ice Mountain bottled water plant in Mecosta County, west of Mt. Pleasant. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality had approved Nestle's plan to pump up to 400 gallons of groundwater per minute.

A grassroots group, Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation, sued Nestle and won in circuit court. But the Michigan Court of Appeals stayed the lower court ruling in 2003. The Citizens group and Nestle reached a settlement roughly halving the plant's allowed groundwater extraction at 218 gallons of water per minute.

In terms of impact on the Great Lakes, the Nestle extraction is almost infinitesimal. But it, and other major groundwater uses — such as high-volume oil and gas hydraulic fracturing that can use millions of gallons per well — can have significant local impacts, said Peggy Case, a volunteer with the Citizens group at the time of its Nestle lawsuit who is now the group's president.

"The local impact in Mecosta was pretty clear," she said.

"We all live locally. If your stream is turned into a mud hole, and that water is no longer moving through that ecosystem, it affects plants and animals and humans all along the way."

If Congress and the president signed the compact into law, what would stop a future Congress and president from reversing it? In that extremely unlikely scenario, Canada would have a say before water headed to the Southwest, said Frank Bevacqua, spokesman for the International Joint Commission.

In addition to the compact's requirements that all parties agree to a large-scale diversion, a boundary waters treaty between the U.S. and Canada enacted in 1909 also requires the agreement of both countries before an action is taken that impacts the shared waters, he said. Though Lake Michigan is wholly within the United States, it's connected to Lake Huron, which Canada also borders. So a large diversion from Lake Michigan would also likely fall under the treaty.

"It would certainly be a topic of discussion between the governments of the United States and Canada," Bevacqua said.

Michigan law has its own restrictions on water use. Large-scale withdrawals, considered greater than 100,000 gallons or more per day, must be registered with the DEQ or, for farmers, the Michigan Department of Agriculture. If the withdrawal is determined to cause an "adverse resource impact," it will be prohibited or require correction.

U.S. agriculture accounts for 80%-90% of the nation's consumptive water use — water that doesn't make its way back into the basin, but instead is lost through evaporation or incorporation into products.

But how specific farms in Michigan use, or misuse, water is a state-kept secret. Michigan's Freedom of Information Act specifically exempts from disclosure the amount of water a farm uses, where specifically it's withdrawn, and descriptions of farm water system capacity.

Water usage in the Great Lakes and elsewhere in North America has dropped during the last 10-15 years, through increased efficiency in uses such as agricultural irrigation, but also because of the outsourcing of water-intensive U.S. industry to places like China and India, Pentland said.

Maintaining and examining protections on Great Lakes water is important, no matter how impractical a water diversion may seem now, he said.

"You don't know what the future holds," Pentland said. "We don't know how bad climate change is going to be. There's other things we haven't heard of or thought of yet. We should do everything we can to preserve."

It's California that needs to change, water experts said.

"Their economy is about to run into a brick wall, which is a lack of freshwater," Hall said. "There are parts of the West that can't grow because their housing, businesses, any kind of urban land-use development can't meet its water needs."

Gov. Brown's mandated water use reductions exempted agriculture, which is responsible for 80% of the California's water use, said Howard Learner, executive director of the Environmental Law and Policy Center in Chicago.

"The big elephant in the middle of the room is agriculture," Learner said. "California milk competes with Wisconsin on milk. Fruits and vegetables from California compete with fruits and vegetables from Michigan. The bottom line is, we're not going to be shipping Great Lakes water out to California for agricultural goods that compete with those produced here."

Case said she's opposed to the idea of water being bought and sold and traded.

"Water and air are the commons," she said. "We need them to live. You can't own them; you can't privatize them."

Detroit Free Press


Lookback #519 – Eber Ward holed by ice and sank on April 20, 1909

The wooden steamer Eber Ward loaded 55,000 bushels of corn at Milwaukee as its final cargo. The shipment was valued at 60 cents a bushel and was to be delivered to Port Huron, Mich.

The ship crashed into a heavy wall of ice west of Mackinac City punching a huge hole in the bow, causing the vessel to plunge to the bottom on April 20, 1909. Five sailors were lost while the rest of the crew was picked up by the steel steamer Bennington. The final location of the Eber Ward was forgotten for years but was rediscovered by divers in 1980.

Eber Ward was built at West Bay City, Mich., and completed in July 1880. It carried pig iron from St. Ignace to Buffalo on its first trip and had several owners over the years without a change in name.

Ironically, on April 29, 1895, the crew of the Eber Ward was able to rescue those aboard the A. Everett, which had been sliced open by ice and sank off Point aux Barques, Lake Huron.

The ship had served the various owners well until it was holed by the ice and sank 106 years ago today.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  April 20

News Photo Gallery
Saltie Gallery updated with pictures of the Bluebill, Federal Kushiro, Federal Mattawa, Florijngracht, Juno and Pantanal.


Today in Great Lakes History -  April 20

On 20 March 1885, MICHIGAN (Hull#48), (iron propeller passenger-package freight steamer, 215 foot, 1,183 tons) of the Detroit, Grand Haven & Milwaukee Railroad was sunk by ice off Grand Haven, Michigan.

The sidewheeler NEW YORK was sold Canadian in 1877, hopefully at a bargain price, because when she was hauled out on the ways on 20 March 1878, at Rathburn's yard in Kingston, Ontario, to have her boiler removed, her decayed hull fell apart and could not be repaired. Her remains were burned to clear the ways.

On 20 March 1883, the E. H. MILLER of Alpena, Michigan (wooden propeller tug, 62 foot, 30 gross tons, built in 1874, at East Saginaw, Michigan) was renamed RALPH. She was abandoned in 1920.

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

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

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


Port Reports -  April 19

Marquette, Mich. – Rod Burdick
Fleet mates Hon. James L. Oberstar and Kaye E. Barker visited the LS&I Upper Harbor ore dock on Saturday. Repairs were evident to Barker's starboard bow.

Grand Haven, Mich. – Dick Fox
The tug Undaunted and bargePere Marquette 41 came in Saturday morning with a load of stone for Verplank's Dock in Ferrysburg. This was its fourth visit of the season.

Alpena, Mich. – Ben & Chanda Mclain
Cuyahoga arrived at the Alpena Oil Dock around 8:30 Saturday morning. It unloaded salt from Goderich, Ont., and departed before noon. The Alpena is expected in port on Sunday.

Port Huron, Mich.
Traffic Saturday afternoon included the downbound Ojibway, Herbert C. Jackson, Algoma Harvester, Algosteel, Michigan/Great Lakes and Mississagi. The saltwater vessel Sloman Hermes was upbound, docking in the chemical valley area on the Sarnia side.

Sarnia, Ont. – Barry Hiscocks
Calumet departed winter lay up on Saturday. After fueling, she headed upbound.


Lookback #518 – Ice carved open hull of the steamer Uganda on April 19, 1913

Ice has been a problem in getting the shipping season underway in 2014 and 2015. This is not a new scenario, but we now have powerful icebreakers and steel-hulled steamers to take on the challenges of spring. It was 102 years ago today that the wooden steamer Uganda met its match.

Uganda was attempting to navigate the ice-clogged Straits of Mackinac when the hull was cut open. The 310-foot-long wooden vessel, sank near White Shoal, Lake Michigan. No lives were lost, and the nearby John A. Donaldson was able to take the sailors to safety.

Uganda was built by F.W. Wheeler and launched at West Bay City, MI on April 12, 1893, and was designed for the coal and grain trades.

The ship had survived an earlier grounding near Whitefish Point, Lake Superior, on Sept. 19, 1898, and only received minor damage in the incident.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  April 19

News Photo Gallery
Lay-up list updated


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 20. 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 - 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.

1915: PALIKI of the Algoma Central Railway fleet was carrying steel rails to Chicago when it ran aground on Simmons Reef near the Straits of Mackinac.

1922: LAMBTON, a steel lighthouse tender, was last seen on the date by the MIDLAND PRINCE. It was lost with all hands on Lake Superior somewhere south of Michipicoten Island while delivering lighthouse keepers to their stations. Wreckage was later located but no bodies were ever found.

1927: DAVID S. TROXEL was damaged in a storm on Lake Superior. Plates and rivets worked loose and there were problems with the rudder. The ship was renamed c) SONOMA later in 1927 and was scrapped by Stelco in Hamilton as d) FRED L. HEWITT in 1962.

1938: REDRIVER had loaded coal at Charlotte, NY and was crossing Lake Ontario when it ran aground, due to fog, near Point Petre.

1939: VALLEY CAMP ran aground on Cole's Shoal, near Brockville, due to fog and part of the cargo of coal had to be lightered before the ship was refloated with the help of the tug SALVAGE PRINCE on April 24.

1940: SANDLAND battled through heavy ice to open the port of Port Colborne on this date in 1940. The ship had a cargo of scrap steel from Detroit for the Algoma Steel mill.

1956: A.M. BYERS was loaded with limestone and bound from Drummond Island to Buffalo when it sank in the St. Clair River following a collision with the E.M. FORD on this date in 1956. The ship was hit on the port side abreast of the pilothouse but all on board were rescued. The ship was later salvaged and repaired becoming b) CLEMENS A. REISS (ii) in 1959 and c) JACK WIRT in 1970.

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


Port Reports -  April 18

Alpena, Mich. – Ben & Chanda McClain
The tug Olive L. Moore and barge Lewis J. Kuber returned on Friday night with another load of stone for the Alpena Oil Dock. The pair tied up in the river and unloaded cargo from Stoneport. The research vessel Spencer F. Baird also came into Alpena on Friday.

Port Huron, Mich.
Upbound traffic Friday afternoon and evening included Algoway, St. Clair and Algoma Navigator. American Century, Algoma Discovery, CSL St-Laurent and tug and barge Spartan / Spartan II were downbound.

Sarnia, Ont. – Barry Hiscocks
Algosteel has departed winter lay up and by Friday night she was westbound in the Straits. It is unknown what, if any, work will be going on with the tanker Algosar, which appears to have re-entered layup.

Oshawa, Ont. – Andre Blanchard
The Portuguese bulker Marbacan (ex-Fritz) arrived in Oshawa Friday. She was assisted into the harbor by tugs Omni-Richelieu and M.R. Kane. Marbacan is registered in Medeira.


Port Dalhousie piers closed for safety concerns

4/18 - Port Dalhousie, Ont. – The Port Dalhousie piers are like a walkway oasis for Pat Stafford. Their panoramic view of Lake Ontario is a tonic to her and a venue for regular exercise.

So the news that two large sections on both sides of the piers are closed until further notice distressed her Thursday.c“That makes me sad,” said Stafford, 70, as a crew began fencing off the east pier Thursday morning.

“I’ll bring my dog here for a walk or just sit here and watch the boats go by. It looks like it’s going to be really congested in that remaining short area.”

The indefinite closure of much of the federally owned piers — an iconic Niagara landmark — upset pedestrians and boaters alike after they were told the news. “It’s going to become a haven for geese … it’s already a problem,” said local boater Tom Schultz. “That’s just about guaranteed.”

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans says in the interest of public safety, the east and west sections are temporarily closed to vessels, vehicles and pedestrian traffic. In a release Thursday, the department said the piers may appear in good condition, but a recent engineering inspection found structural and safety issues.

Further investigations, including a side-scan sonar survey, are underway to reveal the extent of damage and identify repair options. Fence barricades were erected Thursday to prevent pedestrian access on the east pier starting at the lighthouse, and on the west pier about 250 metres from the shore.

Vehicle access and mooring for vessels will also be limited on parts of the piers until further notice, said the department. Access to the Lakeside Park beach will not be affected. As well, navigation aids on the piers will be maintained and the safety of mariners will not be impacted.

Andrea Cyr, acting regional director-general for the fisheries and oceans department, said the problem was discovered during “routine visual observations” that are performed frequently, given the age of the piers. Cyr said the structure dates back to the 1870s and is essentially built on a timber crib base — basically a wood box with stones in it.

The cribs holding up the pier have deteriorated in areas, she said, adding the piers “probably wouldn’t float.” She said possible options and costs will not be known until they get more survey information.

“At this point, it is too early to know until we know the actual condition,” she said. “Once we have that … we’ll be able to work to possible solutions.”

St. Catharines Standard


Lookback #517 – Former G.C. Brovig arrived at the scrapyard on April 18, 1981

The 530-foot, 7-inch-long Norwegian tanker G.C. Brovig sailed for 30 years. It was a Great Lakes visitor on a number of occasions. This vessel was part of the Th. Brovig fleet and was built at Port Glasgow, Scotland, with completion in October 1951. The 10,917 gross ton vessel had 25 cargo tanks and could carry 16,345 tons deadweight.

G.C. Brovig made three trips through the Seaway in 1960 and 1965, two in 1966 and had a single inland voyage in 1961.

The vessel was reported as sold and renamed b) Andina in 1981 but was quickly resold for scrap. It departed Farsund, Norway, on Jan. 3, 1981, and arrived at Gadani Beach, Pakistan, on April 18, 1981, which was 34 years ago today. The aging tanker was broken up by Impact Corp. Ltd. beginning on May 11, 1981.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  April 18

News Photo Gallery
Saltie Gallery updated with pictures of the Federal Mayumi, Kirkeholmen, MarBacan, Orla, Redhead and Sloman Herakles.


Today in Great Lakes History -  April 18

18 April 1907 - At least 20 freighters were anchored at De Tour, Michigan, waiting for the frozen St. Marys River to break up. 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.

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 10 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.

1945 The steel barge GEORGE T. DAVIE, en route from Oswego to Kingston with 1,100 tons of coal and under tow of the SALVAGE PRINCE, began leaking and sank off Nine Mile Point, Lake Ontario, in 85 feet of water. The hull was located by divers in 1999. The ship had once been part of Canada Steamship Lines.

1989 ENERCHEM AVANCE spent 7 hours aground in the St. Marys River below the Soo Locks on this day in 1989. At last report the ship was under Nigerian registry as e) ERINGA.

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


Port Reports -  April 17

Alpena, Mich. - Ben & Chanda McClain
The tug G.L Ostrander and barge Integrity was at Lafarge Thursday morning loading cement. Also making an unusual appearance on Thursday afternoon was the tug Olive L. Moore and barge Lewis J. Kuber The pair unloaded stone at the Alpena Oil Dock and departed around 8:30pm. It has been quite a while since the dock has received a load of stone.

Calcite, Mich. – Presque Isle Advance
The barge - tug Ashtabula and Defiance arrived around 2 p.m. Monday as the first vessel in port for the season. The vessel worked with a stiff breeze from the west, which pushed a steady rain, as the 600-footer approached the south dock at Calcite.

Lorain, Ohio – Phil Leon
Algoway was in port on Thursday.

Saltwater – Skip Gillham
The tanker Goeast, formerly the Algoeast, was anchored south of Istanbul, Turkey, on April 16 and has a destination of Kerch, Ukraine, for April 18.


Toronto Marine Historical Society auction

4/17 - Toronto, Ont. - The 18th annual auction of the Toronto Marine Historical Society is now on. As usual there are a lot of items of interest to the collectors of things related to Great Lakes shipping and ships in general. Of particular interest this year is a series of general arrangement plans from shipyards. These are of great interest to modelers and those curious to changes in ship design. Click here to view



“Know Your Ships” annual book signing Saturday in Port Huron

4/17 - Port Huron, Mich. – Editor/publisher Roger LeLievre will be on hand from 10 am-3 p.m. at the Great Lakes Maritime Center Saturday to sell and sign copies of the 2015 Know Your Ships. The Maritime Center is at 51 Water St. There is no admission charge.



Lookback #516 – Chemical Transport ran aground near Dark Island on April 17, 1982

The Halco tanker Chemical Transport found the bottom near Dark Island, in the St. Lawrence, on April 17, 1982. The 391-foot-long vessel received hull damage to the forward part of the ship and once released, proceeded to Prescott to be lightered by fleetmate James Transport.

Due to the pressure of ice flows and high winds, the channel markers were out of position and there was a minor spill to clean up. The damaged ship was repaired at Sorel, Quebec, before resuming regular service.

Chemical Transport was built at Lauzon, QC, in 1969. While it generally operated around the Great Lakes and Maritime Canada, the ship did go south in 1973-1974 for winter trading on the Gulf of Mexico. It also saw Arctic service in Aug. 1985 visiting Repulse Bay and Hall Beach.

The ship joined Enerchem Transports Inc. in 1986 as b) Enerchem Fusion and received considerable damage as such in the Saguenay River on July 19, 1990. It did not resume trading until 1991.

In the spring of 1991, the ship departed Montreal for the sea under the name c) Real Progress. It was reported as laid up with surveys overdue in Oct. 1997 but returned to work in the Nigerian coastal trade. There was an explosion and fire at the Ijora Fishing Jetty, Lagos, Nigeria, on June 1, 2001, that left perhaps as many as 10 dead. The abandoned hull was still lying burned out and derelict in 2009.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  April 17

News Photo Gallery


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 - 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.

1961: FREEMAN HATCH was built at Sturgeon Bay and completed in December 1942. It left the Great Lakes the following spring for service for the British Ministry of War Transport. It was sold and renamed b) CHARLES M. in 1950 and became c) HOUSTON in 1953. The vessel was sunk on this date in 1962 during the attempted, anti-Castro, Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba.

1982: CHEMICAL TRANSPORT ran aground in the St. Lawrence near Dark Island as channel markers were out of position due to the wind and ice conditions. The vessel lightered some cargo to fleetmate JAMES TRANSPORT and then went to Sorel for repairs. In 2009, the ship was reported as lying burned out and derelict near Lagos, Nigeria, after an explosion and fire as c) REAL PROGRESS on June 1, 2001.

1990: RESERVE ran aground in the St. Marys River while downbound with a load of iron ore for Toledo on this date in 1990. The ship stranded in a snowstorm and had to be lightered to the WILLIAM R. ROESCH before going to Fraser Shipyard for repairs.

1997: ALGOLAKE got stuck on Vidal Shoal, St. Marys River while bound for Algoma Steel with a cargo of iron ore. The ship was lightered and released. After unloading, the vessel went to Thunder Bay for repairs.

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


Tourist investment small price to pay for Norgoma

4/16 - Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. – Susan Myers knows that even a small expenditure of $15,000 will be a hard sell to council next week when budget deliberations take place. But the Ward 2 councillor believes both history and tourism are important in a community like Sault Ste. Marie and every little attraction is vital, especially when it can be packaged with others.

That's why she's penned a notice of motion for next week's council meeting, asking her colleagues to reinstate the annual funding of $15,000 to help the M.S. Norgoma stay afloat. “I knew it was not on the list of funding for outside agencies and I got in touch with members of their board and reminded them of that,” Myers said.

She wrote the resolution and passed it to councillors hoping that one of her peers feels the Norgoma is an important part of history that needs to be preserved.

And worse yet, dismantling it and doing the repair work to the bottom of the St. Mary's River at the city's premier marina, would be even more costly for taxpayers, she said.

The Norgoma was a key part of Canada's first transcontinental transportation system and the museum ship tells its own heritage story to the 3,000 visitors it receives in a few short months. The ship itself was purchased by the city from the province in the 1970s, when council of that day recognized the important heritage value of the ship and had a vision to develop a waterfront marina based park, now all part of the city's waterfront development and Roberta Bondar Park.

A volunteer board has been operating the vessel as a tourist site and has invested hundreds of hours to refurbishing its operations and has seen some success. That group wants to continue its operations, Myers said.

“I know this is an uphill battle with council, but we're getting a value for $15,000 and it doesn't really impact the levy of a $180-million budget,” she said.

Myers points out that the alternative – dismantling the ship, trying to sell the metal and repairing the marina bottom – will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and likely take a whole summer to complete, rendering the rest of the marina inoperative. “This is not an easy thing to move and we've already been told that the scrap metal is not worth a lot of money,” she said.

Ward 3 Coun. Judy Hupponen said she knows the Norgoma still needs work but she believes it has the potential to succeed. “A lot of people have put a lot of work into it and it did all right last year,” she said.

Hupponen said she toured the Norgoma last year and now understands how its volunteers are working to expand its base by hosting an art show, magic show, Halloween parties and fireworks, among others. “I think we need to give them a bit more time. The electrical and plumbing improvements are complete and I think they have good insights,” Hupponen said.

Myers said if council doesn't see the need to pass the funding reinstatement, then it needs to turn its thoughts toward the Norgoma's future.

“We have never had a fine-tuned estimate on what it would cost to move it or scrap it and I'm betting that it will cost more than a few hundreds-of-thousands of dollars that has been estimated in the past,” she said. “We don't have that kind of money to remove it from our waterfront.”

The city will begin its 2015 budget deliberations on April 20.

Sault Star


Dutch shipping company launches monthly Port of Milwaukee service

4/16 - Milwaukee, Wis. – The Floragracht, a cargo ship operated by the Dutch shipping company Spliethoff Group, docked in the Port of Milwaukee this week and will start the first monthly shipping service from the city in nearly two decades by hauling equipment from Caterpillar Inc.'s South Milwaukee factory.

The sight of the ship and the potential for regular service through the Great Lakes to Europe excites port officials, who tout the Spliethoff’s regularity and flexibility.

“Our mission is to change the way people look at their shipping options,” said Peter Hirthe, a senior trade representative for the Port of Milwaukee.

What’s different? In recent years, manufacturers and other businesses looking to ship out of the Port of Milwaukee had to charter a single ship and provide a load large enough to make it cost-effective.

Amsterdam, Netherlands-based Spliethoff will carry smaller loads, provide container-carrying capacity and the consistency of regular service. Its stops in Milwaukee are an expansion of the Great Lakes route it started in 2014, the Cleveland Europe Express, which calls on ports in Cleveland, Ohio, Detroit and now Milwaukee.

Spliethoff plans to have at least one cargo ship in Milwaukee every month, and possibly two. The Fagelgracht is scheduled to follow the Floragracht on May 12, with Antwerp, Belgium, as their European destination. The trip takes two to three weeks.

Ron Vincent, director of logistics for the freight business M.E. Dey & Co. Inc., said Milwaukee has lacked container service out of the Port “to any destination,” which forced exporters to use truck or rail service to Chicago or East Coast ports. Rail congestion has been a growing problem for companies looking to export from the region.

The demand for the Spliethoff service will depend on the timing and pricing, with cost being the ultimate deciding factor, Vincent said. “For this to be attractive, it would need a savings of 15 percent to 20 percent,” Vincent said.

Spliethoff, one of Europe’s largest shipping companies, has pursued operations in the Great Lakes for several years.

“Milwaukee’s location west of the Chicago rail congestion makes it a very attractive stepping off point for the heavy equipment and machinery manufacturers,” said Torin Swartout, a Spliethoff vice president. “Our service offers through bills of lading to practically anywhere, and our vessels are equipped with heavy cranes, box holds, and are fully fitted for containers both dry and refrigerated.”

The first load out of Milwaukee is mining equipment from the Caterpillar Inc. plant in South Milwaukee.

According to city statistics, 3 million tons of cargo moved through the Port of Milwaukee in 2014, compared with 2.8 million tons in 2010.

Milwaukee Business Journal


Port Reports -  April 16

Marquette, Mich. – Rod Burdick
Tug and barge Joyce L. VanEnkevort / Great Lakes Trader arrived and opened the Lower Harbor late Monday night for the 2015-16 shipping season, unloading stone at the Shiras Dock.

Soo Locks – Michelle Briggs
As Operation Coal Shovel in the lower lakes winds down, assets are being shifted northwards to support Operation Taconite. At lunchtime Wednesday, the Canadian Coast Guard Cutter Martha L. Black locked through the Poe Lock on her way to assist with ice operations in Whitefish Bay and Eastern Lake Superior, where there are still reports of ice 4-6 feet thick.

Goderich, Ont. – Philip Nash
John B. Aird departed lay-up at the north dock April 5 and shifted to the salt dock to load. Departed on April 6.

Saginaw River – Todd Shorkey
The G.L. Ostrander / Integrity called on the Lafarge Cement dock in Essexville, Wednesday morning. After unloading, the pair was expected to be outbound early Thursday morning.

Sarnia, Ont. – Philip Nash
Algosteel left winter layup on Wednesday.

Toledo, Ohio – Jim Hoffman
There were three boats at the Port of Toledo loading grain Wednesday. Algoma Guardian was at the ADM Elevator, Algoma Olympic was at Andersons E Elevator, and the Baie St. Paul was at Andersons K Elevator. It has been many years since three boats loaded grain at the same time during April. You usually see this happen during the fall grain rush.

Oshawa, Ont. – Ned Goebricher
On Wednesday the English River made its first cement run of the season.


Fednav to fit new ships with ballast treatment systems

4/16 - Montreal, Que. – Fednav Limited, the largest Canadian operator of international ships in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway system, has announced an order for 12 ballast water treatment systems to equip its ships currently under construction. This makes Fednav the first shipping company in Canada and the Great Lakes to announce the installation of ballast water treatment systems, well before the regulatory requirement.

"Our company is committed to stimulating trade and enhancing Canada’s economy while protecting the Great Lakes against the introduction and spread of aquatic invasive species,” said Paul Pathy, President and Co-CEO of Fednav Limited.

“After extensive analysis and testing, we are confident that the technology we are choosing is an affordable and effective means to ensure that Canada meets its ballast water requirements. We are proud to be leading the way, along with government and industry partners, in establishing a level playing field for the Canadian, U.S., and international fleets to operate together in the Great Lakes region.”

Developed by JFE Engineering Corporation, Japan, the BallastAce system will be installed on Fednav’s new lakers and will be effective in both fresh and salt water. BallastAce operates through a sophisticated filter and sodium hypochlorite injection mechanism in the ship's ballast system.

Fednav chose this solution after years of testing. From the Federal Yukon (copper ions) to the Federal Welland (electrodialytic disinfectant) to the Federal Venture (chlorination), the company has spent millions of dollars over many years to find a reliable, effective, and economical solution to the environmental problems caused by aquatic invasive species.

The contract with JFE commits Fednav to install BallastAce systems in its 12 lakers under construction at Oshima shipyard in Japan. JFE will install its first system in the Federal Biscay, delivering in October 2015. Consequently, Fednav may well be able to introduce BallastAce to the Great Lakes at the opening of the Saint Lawrence Seaway in 2016.

With Fednav’s encouragement, AMS-approved BallastAce is now pursuing full U.S. Coast Guard type approval for freshwater and saltwater certification at the GSI and MERC test facilities in Superior, Wis., and Baltimore, Md.

The IMO’s Ballast Water Management Convention, of which Canada is a signatory, will most likely enter into force in 2016, the year the U.S. Coast Guard and EPA require the installation of systems on ships trading in U.S. waters.



Lookback #515 – Eugene Zimmerman sank during maiden voyage on April 16, 1906

4/16 - The first trip of the newly-built bulk carrier Eugene Zimmerman ended abruptly 109 years ago today. The ship was upbound in the St. Marys River with a cargo of coal when it was struck on the port bow by the downbound steamer Saxona on April 16, 1906.

The 500-foot-long Zimmerman, fresh from the Craig Shipyard in Toledo, sank into the mud, but fortunately the bulkhead held. The ship was refloated on May 20, 1906, returned to Toledo for repairs and resumed service on July 10, 1906.

Eugene Zimmerman joined the Cleveland Cliffs fleet in 1915 and became Grand Island in 1916. It was often in the ore trade out of Marquette, Mich., and served the company well save for another collision on Oct. 14, 1946. The latter occurred in the St. Clair River near Courtright, and also involved the Philip Minch. This time damage was not as serious.

Grand Island tied up at Buffalo in 1960 and saw some service as a grain storage barge. The name was changed to Poweraux Chris in 1963 but it was sold for scrap that year and then resold to West German shipbreakers. The vessel was loaded with a partial cargo of scrap steel and came down Welland Canal between the tugs Foundation Valiant and Foundation Vibert on Aug. 28, 1964.

Following arrival at Hamburg, on Nov. 9, 1964, the old laker met the same fate as its final cargo.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  April 16

News Photo Gallery


Today in Great Lakes History -  April 16

16 April 1907 - In a blinding snowstorm, 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.

BURNS HARBOR's keel was laid at Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, as (Hull#720) for Wilmington Trust Co., Bethlehem Steel Co., manager, 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.

1897: The wooden schooner INGEBORG FORREST was a total loss in a spring gale near the entrance to Pentwater, Michigan, on this date in 1897.

1906: EUGENE ZIMMERMAN was upbound with coal on its maiden voyage when it collided with the SAXONA in the Mud Lake section of the St. Marys River on this day in 1906. The new bulk carrier was hit on the port bow and sank. The hull was raised on May 20, repaired and returned to service. It was renamed b) GRAND ISLAND in 1916 and last operated in 1960. After work as a grain storage hull named c) POWEREAUX CHRIS, the vessel was towed to Hamburg, West Germany, for scrapping in 1964.

1959: T.R. McLAGAN of Canada Steamship Lines ran aground on a shoal off Amherst Island, Lake Ontario, and was released on April 18.

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


CWB Marquis, $40M laker, makes debut visit to Thunder Bay

4/15 - Thunder Bay, Ont. – One of the next generation of Great Lakes cargo ships has made its debut stop in the city. CWB Marquis, a $40 million massive laker, arrived at the Mission Terminal on Monday morning to receive its first load of grain from a Thunder Bay elevator.

Capt. Seann O’Donoghue said the 225-metre long ship can transport 30,000 metric tonnes of cargo, which is about 25 per cent more than the older class of lakers. It also has far more modern amenities.

“We have a lot of high degree, sophisticated equipment on board like electronic charts, electronic engine monitoring systems, fire monitoring systems, closed circuit TV, and infrared cameras. We have a whole gamut of electronic equipment to help us safely navigate the ship,” he said.

The ship will haul prairie wheat from Thunder Bay east, then turning around to transport Labrador iron ore west to Hamilton before heading back up to the Lakehead. Thunder Bay Port Authority chief executive officer Tim Heney also toured the ship and said the technology is a significant step forward.

“The old lakers are pretty primitive by today’s standards. This is a whole new world for sailors on the Great Lakes,” Heney said.

“This ship was built specifically to go to Thunder Bay. This is a Wheat Board elevator here in Thunder Bay and they also have one in Trois-Rivieres, Que. This ship will mostly run between those two elevators.”

He said the Marquis is one of a number of new ships that will be travelling across the Great Lakes in the coming years. Changes making grain companies responsible for shipping their product, rather than the Canadian Wheat Board, created questions about the sustainability of the local grain shipping industry but it seems to have a bright future.

“It’s a major investment in the future of the seaway,” Heney said. “There was a lot of concern when that monopoly broke up there would be issues for Thunder Bay but so far it’s turning out very positive for us. We’re seeing a lot more throughput ocean ships and last year we had the best year in 16 years.”

The Marquis had a little bit of extra excitement before arriving at the elevator. O’Donoghue and his crews discovered early in the morning a massive ice sheet from the Welcome Islands had come loose and was heading right for their ship.

“Once that wind catches the ice it moves it and there’s quite a lot of horsepower to it,” he said. “It was going to push the ship the wrong way so we had to stop and break the ice before we could come in this morning.”

The ship has only been in Canadian waters since the beginning of the year and is expected to have a working lifespan of 40 years.


Port Reports -  April 15

Milwaukee, Wis.
Floragracht was the first saltie of the season, arriving Tuesday.

Sturgeon Bay, Wis. – Daniel Lindner
Walter J. McCarthy Jr. departed winter layup in Sturgeon Bay on Tuesday morning, leaving just a few ships left in layup. CSL Assiniboine, Algolake, Arthur M. Anderson, Buffalo, and the tug Invincible remain at the shipyard. Kaye E. Barker remains in port receiving repairs to ice damage.

Detroit, Mich. – Christopher Dark
Around noon Tuesday, the saltie Purha was downbound and Herbert C. Jackson was upbound. The Jackson pulled up to the Waterfront Marine Terminal behind the Federal Mackinac, which was offloading her cargo at Nicholson Terminal & Dock.

Toledo, Ohio
The Lakes Contender and tug Ken Boothe Sr. left winter layup on Tuesday.

Lorain, Ohio – Phil Leon
Joseph H. Thompson got into Lorain at 10:15 a.m. Tuesday and headed to dock 3 to unload.

Hamilton, Ont.
Manitoba departed winter lay up on April 14 heading to Thunder Bay. Mississagi departed winter lay up on April 12 to load slag at Dofsaco.

Seaway – René Beauchamp
Marbacan, ex Fritz, was unloading steel products at Sorel-Tracy at section 19 on Tuesday. Her next destination is Oshawa. When she leaves for the Seaway later on this week, Andesborg, presently anchored off Sorel-Tracy, will replace her at the dock. She too will go to the Seaway. They might be the first new salties of the year.


Still too much ice on Lake Erie to remove ice boom

4/15 - Buffalo, N.Y. – Though temperatures finally have warmed up, there’s still too much ice on Lake Erie to remove the ice boom, a spokesman for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said Tuesday.

A photograph released Tuesday by the agency shows there is far more than 250 square miles of ice remaining. Under the International Joint Commission’s current order, the ice boom must be opened by April 1 – unless there is more than 250 square miles of ice remaining in the eastern end of the lake.

An “ice flight” is scheduled for Wednesday to determine the coverage, nature and character of the remaining ice, said Bruce I. Sanders, spokesman for the Army Corps.

The boom — made up of steel pontoons linked together from the Buffalo Harbor to near the Canadian shore — is designed to keep ice chunks from flowing down the Niagara River and damaging the intakes of the authority’s Niagara Power Project.

The latest ice boom opening was May 3, 1971. Last year, boom opening began April 29.


Two cruise ships to call at Clayton this year

4/15 - Clayton, N.Y. – Mayor Norma Zimmer and the Village of Clayton have announced that the Thousand Islands Regional Dock and Clayton Cruise Ship Terminal located at Frink Park in downtown Clayton will welcome two cruise ships over the course of the 2015 summer and early fall.

Saint Laurent and Pearl Mist will make port calls into Clayton between May 10 and October 17. In total, 13 large cruise ship visits are slated for the Regional Dock this summer.

Saint Laurent, a 286-foot cruise ship, which was recently refurbished after being purchased by Haimark Line, will be making its maiden voyage under its new name and owner in 2015 and will dock in Clayton a total of 11 times between May 10 and October 17. The five-deck, 105-stateroom cruise ship will make numerous trips along the St. Lawrence Seaway, as well as the upper Great Lakes. The ship previously sailed the St. Lawrence Seaway while known as Cape May Light and Sea Voyager.

Pearl Mist returns to Clayton after making two visits in 2014. The 335-foot ship features six decks with 108 staterooms. The vessel, which is owned by Pearl Seas Cruises, will again make two port visits, both of which will be overnight stays. Both ships carry up to 210 passengers. In addition to the cruise ships, Clayton is also expected to receive a visit from a US Coast Guard cutter over the July 4th holiday.


Lookback #514 – Vibyholm opened Seaway on April 15, 1961

4/15 - The Swedish freighter Vibyholm made a total of 22 visits to the Great Lakes from the start of 1960 to the end of the 1967 season. The 431-foot-long, white-hulled general cargo freighter was well known around the lakes but generally her service to our inland ports was uneventful.

The exception was 54 years ago today when the ship was recognized in a ceremony at the St. Lambert Lock as the first saltwater ship of the 1961 season. Vibyholm was on her third career trip through the still new waterway and would make two more visits inland before the year was over.

Vibyholm was built at Gotaverken, Sweden, in 1951, and served the Swedish-America Line. Too large for the old canal system, the vessel could only come as far west as Montreal while smaller company running mates took care of the Great Lakes trade.

The ship was sold to Greek interests in 1969 and renamed b) Myson and was back on the lakes again in 1970. It was chartered as c) Concordia Myson in 1971, became d) Myson again in 1972, and e) Kalmar in 1976.

Still under the flag of Greece, Kalmar was at Luanda, Angola, when it was seized, along with three other ships, by the Angolan Government in August 1978. There was a period of unrest in the West African nation and I cannot find any further word on the ship's fate. Kalmar was finally deleted from Lloyds Register in 1991-1992.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  April 15

News Photo Gallery
Saltie Gallery updated with pictures of the Amstelborg, Federal Asahi, Federal Danube, Federal Mackinac and Federal Yukon.
New Video on our YouTube Channel
Ais.BoatNerd.Com updated, we've replaced failed receivers on two of our Southern Lake Michigan stations with more being replaced later in the month. We are also updating the interface and adding new features.


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.

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 lakes ports throughout the summer.

1967: MAPLE HILL began visiting the Great Lakes in 1959. The British-flag freighter had been built at Montreal in 1943 as a) FORT VERCHERES and was renamed c) DIOPSIDE in 1966. It collided with and sank the Swedish freighter IREVIK in the Baltic Sea on this day in 1967. MAPLE HILL was renamed d) ENTAN in 1969 and arrived at Hirao, Japan, for scrapping on June 30, 1970.

1987: An attempt to steal navigation equipment using a cutting torch resulted in a fire that caused major damage to the upper deck of the GRAND RAPIDS. The retired Lake Michigan carferry had been idle at Muskegon since 1971. It was eventually sold for scrap in 1989 and broken up at Port Maitland, ON in 1994.

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


Kom on in: First saltie of the season arrives in Duluth

4/14 - Duluth, Minn. – The first ocean-going ship of the 2015 commercial shipping season to reach the Twin Ports sailed under the Aerial Lift Bridge shortly after noon Monday.

Onlookers lined the Duluth ship canal to watch the Kom pass by on a blustery but mild spring day.

The saltie arrived at the Port of Duluth-Superior to load grain at two terminals, Gavilon Grain and CHS, the Duluth Seaway Port Authority said in a news release.

Built in 1997, the 465-foot bulk carrier flies the flag of Malta. It began its current voyage in A Coruna, Spain. The Kom will load 12,100 metric tons of durum wheat and then depart for Italy, where the wheat will be milled into flour for pasta-making, the Port Authority reported.

"The arrival of the first saltie each year is a tangible reminder for residents and tourists alike that the Port of Duluth-Superior is an international seaport," said Vanta Coda, Port Authority executive director. "Situated over 2,300 miles inland, it anchors the westernmost edge of this nation's fourth seacoast — the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway — which links the heartland of North America to markets in Europe, the Mediterranean and North Africa."

Coda added that the Canadian-American waterway enables farmers from the Upper Midwest — as well as shippers of project cargo, iron ore and coal — to "compete in the global marketplace."

Close to 1,000 ships visit the Port of Duluth-Superior each year, moving about 38 million tons of cargo — iron ore, coal, limestone, grain, cement, salt, project cargo and more.

Last year the first saltie of the season — Diana — didn't arrive until May 7 because of difficult ice conditions on the Great Lakes; that was the latest first-slatie arrival on record for the Twin Ports.

Duluth News Tribune


Algoma Central to sail Algoma Integrity in East Coast ore trade

4/14 - A ship with strong Nova Scotia connections is returning to Canada, but under a new name. The Panamax self-unloader Gypsum Integrity has been acquired by Algoma Central Marine and will be renamed Algoma Integrity.

Built in Rio de Janeiro by Estaleiro Ilha SA (EISA) in 2009 for Gypsum Transportation, the ship was designed to operate from Hantsport, NS, or Little Narrows, NS, to export gypsum from Canadian Gypsum's mining operations to U.S.Gypsum plants in the United States.

When the Hantsport operation was closed due to weak demand after the US recession, the virtually new ship was reassigned to world trade by operators Beltship Management (a joint venture between Gyspum Transportation Ltd and Globe Master Management, based in Monaco). For the past few years the ship and sister ship Gypsum Centennial have been operating an iron ore shuttle in Sierra Leone while larger port facilities were under construction. The ships have now been freed up as that project is complete.

Gypsum Integrity will be handed over in Las Palmas later this month and will begin operations under the new name Algoma Integrity under the Canadian flag. It will shuttle iron ore from Port Cartier, QC to Contrecouer, QC for ArcelorMittal. Since the ship will not need to pass though Seaway locks on this trade, it will allow Algoma to free up Seaway size ships – in particular Algoma Mariner and Radcliffe R. Latimer –for other work.

Mac Mackay


Port Reports -  April 14

Duluth, Minn. – Daniel Lindner
The Malta-flagged 465-foot saltie Kom arrived Duluth just after noon on Monday, becoming Duluth's first saltie of the season. She will be loading wheat at both the Gavilon and CHS 1 elevators before departing for Europe. Also, the Algowood departed on Monday in the early morning, after unloading salt. She arrived in Superior later in the day to load iron ore pellets. Expected for Tuesday in Duluth is the Mesabi Miner, expected to arrive late morning to load coal at Midwest Energy.

Thunder Bay, Ont. – Daniel Lindner
Thunder Bay has been bustling with activity since the port was officially opened last week, and much of that activity is new lakers. On Monday, the fairly new Whitefish Bay and Baie Comeau, along with Kaministiqua and the brand new CWB Marquis, were all in port loading. Algosoo, which spent the winter in port, has not left her layup berth, although her AIS transmitter is turned on. Algoma Discovery was at anchor. On Monday night, three of Canada's newest lakers were upbound east of Isle Royale - Algoma Harvester, CSL Welland, and CSL St-Laurent, as well as the saltie Tundra. She will become Thunder Bay's first saltie of the season. This is also the first time in quite a while that six new lakers were in the same port at the same time.


Compass Minerals out of Goderich port expansion

4/14 - Goderich, Ont. – Compass Minerals will no longer be involved with the Goderich port expansion. The company sent a letter to the town last month notifying that it is no longer interested in pursuing the $47 million project.

Tara Hart, external communications manager for Compass Minerals, said the company decided to back out due to its cost share in the expansion projected to be $26.4 million, much higher than the $18.9 million figure in the expansion agreement. The decision was made March 24, Hart said.

“As the Town of Goderich’s largest employer, we are dedicated to the local community and we are very grateful for the infrastructure improvements to the port buildings and break wall,” Hart said.

Hart said there was an escape clause for Compass Minerals within the agreement. At press time, Hart could not confirm how much the company had spent on the project so far.

The provincial government has committed $7.1 million toward the project, while the Goderich Port Authority will kick in $9.5 million.

Goderich Signal Star


Wolfe Islander III to enter dry dock at Hamilton

4/14 - About two weeks ago, the CG Martha L. Black cut a path through the north channel passing Kingston heading to Picton. Once the way was clear, the Glenora ferry Quinte Loyalist made her way to Amherst Island to replace the Frontenac II. She, in turn, would replace the Wolfe Islander III for the Wolfe Island run. The exchange of ferries was to allow Wolfe Islander III to depart for Hamilton for her annual refit with modifications at Heddle Marine. She departed Kingston on Wed. April 8. The work is expected to take several weeks.

Brian Johnson


John Vournakis earns Detroit group’s Historian award

4/14 - Detroit, Mich. – John Vournakis of Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., a long-time marine historian and vessel photographer, has been named 2015 Historian of the Year award by the Marine Historical Society of Detroit.

Vournakis has been a dedicated Great Lakes ship researcher and vessel expert for decades, and his slide collection, much of it amassed during his years sailing on the Great Lakes for the U.S. Steel fleet – is the envy of many.

The award, presented most years since 1969, is voted on by past winners. Vournakis has been a member of the Marine Historical Society of Detroit for 54 years.


Welland Canal notices issued

4/14 - Welland Canal Notices to Shipping #1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 have been issued. View them at


Lookback #513 – Ondine first saltwater ship up Seaway for season on April 14, 1971

The first saltwater visitor to the Great Lakes in 1971 was the French bulk carrier Ondine. The vessel had been built the previous year at Tonsberg, Norway, and came to the Great Lakes before that year was out. When it returned through the Seaway on April 14, 1971, it was celebrated as the first ocean going ship through the waterway in 1971.

The 591-foot-long Ondine had another first on April 25, 1974, as it was the initial ocean ship of the year on the Saginaw River. A less memorable event occurred on Oct. 31, 1976, when Ondine sustained damage to the port bow from a collision with the Garden Saturn in the Seaway.

After a pattern of regular Great Lakes service, Ondine was sold in 1979 and registered in Liberia as Magic Sun. It was back inland, and in the news, in 1979 when it struck the International Railroad Bridge at Sault Ste. Marie leaving the structure stuck in the upright position on July 21. Rail traffic was delayed for some time while repairs were being made.

The former Seaway caller had five later names and did not sail inland under any of c) Noble Evelyn, d) Carino, e) Sea Queen, f) Haj Monhem or g) Pacific Ocean II. It came under the flag of Belize when acquiring the final name in 1997. The ship arrived at the scrapyard at Chittagong, Bangladesh, and dismantling got underway by Fahah Steel Industries on Aug. 6, 1997.

Its foe in 1976, the Garden Saturn, had also been a Seaway trader as a) Clyde Ore. It was scrapped at Gandia, Spain, after being towed there on July 20, 1978.

Skip Gillham


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 recieved 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 flagpole 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, 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 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.

1965: Fire broke out in the #2 hold of the CAPETAN VASSILIS en route from Madras, India, to Rotterdam with a cargo of sunflower seeds while 60 miles off the Mediterranean island of Crete. The crew abandoned the vessel and it sank on April 16. The ship had been built at Superior, Wisconsin, as TULLY CROSBY in 1944 and returned to the lakes as c) SPIND in 1952-1953, as d) HEILO in 1953 and e) CAPETAN VASSILIS in 1956.

1977: CANADIAN OLYMPIC ran aground in the St. Lawrence off Heather Point near Brockville. The ship was loaded with ore and en route from Sept Iles to Ashtabula. The navigation channel was blocked. The vessel was lightered to MAPLEHEATH and released at 1057 hours on April 16. The ULS self-unloader spent three weeks at Port Weller Dry Docks undergoing repairs to the damage.

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


Port Reports -  April 13

St. Marys River – Judie Rajnovich
On Saturday afternoon the CWB Marquis was upbound for the first time from the Soo Locks. As the sun rose Sunday morning, Herbert C. Jackson was having a long wait off Pointe Aux Pins. As Sunday progressed, CSL St-Laurent, CSL Welland, Algoma Harvester and American Century were all upbound.

Sturgeon Bay, Wis. – Jim Conlon
Saturday night the tug Michigan and barge Great Lakes arrived at the south yard at Bayship. The Kaye E. Barker arrived from the Soo and tied up next to the Arthur M. Anderson in the north yard. On Wednesday, the Buffalo was moved from its winter berth and put in the floating drydock for inspection and painting.

Manitowoc, Wis. – Korey G
Bradshaw McKee and barge St Marys Challenger were in port with a load of cement on Saturday.

Saginaw, Mich. – Todd Shorkey
Saturday morning saw the Samuel de Champlain / Innovation outbound from the Lafarge Cement dock in Essexville after unloading. Inbound during the late afternoon was the tug Spartan / tank barge Spartan II, calling on the Port Fisher dock in Bay City. The pair are expected to be outbound during the day Sunday.

Buffalo, N.Y. – Brian Wroblewski
The CCGS Martha L. Black was spotted working in the ice off Buffalo Saturday afternoon. She made a couple passes through the ice off the south entrance to the harbor before turning and heading back to Canadian waters.

Storm surges during the rough winter of 2014-2015 caused some damage at the Buffalo Naval Park. The brow that connects the wheel chair access elevator to the stern of the USS Little Rock needs about $15,000 in repairs, some covered by insurance, and some not. A large crane will be needed to do the job since, after the state redesigned the park, the USS The Sullivans is between the missile cruiser and the dock, making it a more elaborate project.

Hamilton, Ont.
Tim S. Dool and Algoma Equinox departed winter lay up on April 12. Ojibway left on April 11.

Toronto, Ont. – Jens Juhl
The bulker Tundra departed this past Thursday afternoon after discharging sugar out of holds one to five with hold six being in ballast. William Inglis is maintaining ferry service to the Toronto Islands while the Ongiara is in Toronto Drydock getting ice damage repaired.

Seaway – René Beauchamp
The bulker Marbacan presently at Sorel-Tracy , has given Oshawa as her next destination. That’s the ex Fritz which was very much in the news last year. She changed names merely a month ago. Owned previously by Intersee Shipping which went bankrupt, we will be probably see other members of that fleet under new names later on this year. Expected at Sorel-Tracy soon will be Andesborg.


Photos needed for BoatNerd AIS

4/13 - We are working on upgrading the Ais.BoatNerd.Com system, replacing failed hardware and expanding the number of receivers.

We are seeking photos of the following vessels for use on the BoatNerd AIS ship tracking site. They typically show up in the following areas:

Chicago Area:
Spirit of Chicago, dinner cruise vessel
Miss Allie, towboat
Renee Davison, towboat
James J. Versluis, tugboat

Thunder Bay:
Cape Chaillon, Coast Guard vessel

Cape Vincent:
Seaway Pilot IV, pilot vessel (or possibly multiple pilot vessels sharing one AIS transmitter)

Leim, Coast Guard vessel

Trois Rivieres:
Ocean Basque, tug
Phil D., tug

Quebec City:
Cap d’Espoir, Coast Guard vessel on Gulf of St. Lawrence
Ocean Tundra, tug
Ocean Yvan Desgagnes, tug

Rivuere du Loup - Saint' Simeon:
Trans St Laurent, ferry

Saguenay (Port Alfred):
Fjord Eternite, tug
Fjord Saguenay, tug

Matane: F.A. Gauthier, new ferry (still on delivery trip from Italy)

Sept Iles:
Ocean Arctique, tug

Ocean Sept Iles, tug
Ocean Stevns, tug

Havre Saint Pierre:
Cap de Rabast, coast guard vessel

We are also in need of photos of any of the following small vessels that frequently show up on the AIS site in summer months:

Toronto police boats
Canadian search and rescue boats on lakes Ontario and Erie
Whale watching boats based out of Tadoussac and Baie Sainte Catherine

Please submit any photos to


GLMA hires new chief engineer

4/13 - Traverse City, Mich. – Marty Hughes, a recently retired engineer from American Steamship Co., was recently hired as chief engineer with the Great Lakes Maritime Academy (Northwestern Michigan College) in Traverse City. Most recently he served on the St. Clair as first assistant engineer / relief chief. He is a graduate of the GLMA.


Lookback #512 – Strathcona was captured and sunk on April 13, 1917

The canal sized carrier Strathcona was built at Dundee, Scotland, and launched on June 28, 1900. It departed for the Great Lakes later in the summer and was upbound in the Welland canal for the first time on Aug. 25, 1900.

The 253 foot long vessel was built for the Hamilton and Fort William Navigation Co. Ltd. but this was an era of change among the shipping fleets and the ship later sailed under the banner of Strathcona Inc. In 1913, the ship joined the original Canada Steamship Lines fleet.

Earlier, in 1911, Strathcona was taken to Collingwood and converted from a bulk carrier to a package freighter.

The ship was requisitioned for war service in 1915 and survived on saltwater routes until captured by U-78 near Ronaldshay, England, on April 13, 1917. The vessel was on a voyage with coal from Tyne, England, to Marseilles, France, when it was taken over 98 years ago today.

Nine lives were lost in the exchange and three sailors were taken as prisoners of war before Strathcona was sunk.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  April 13

Weekly Website Updates will be added Monday
News Photo Gallery


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.

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

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.

1917: The steel canaller STRATHCONA was built at Dundee, Scotland, in 1900 and came to the Great Lakes that summer. The ship had several owners before being requisitioned for war service in 1915. It was stopped by U-78 near Ronaldshay, England, while traveling from Tyne, England, to Marseilles, France, with a cargo of coal on this date in 1917. Enemy bombers attacked sinking the ship. Nine crew members were lost while another 3 were taken prisoner.

1937: The Norwegian freighter REIN was a frequent pre-Seaway caller to the Great Lakes. It had been built in 1900 and was inland as early as 1908. The ship was carrying wood pulp when it was wrecked off Helman Island, 2 miles south of Wick, Scotland, while traveling from Lyngor, Norway, to Preston, UK on this date in 1937. REIN was a total loss.

1956 Winds and ice pushed the ore laden GEORGE M. HUMPHREY on a shoal in Whitefish Bay en route from Superior to Zug Island. The vessel was salvaged and taken to Lorain for repairs.

1959: GLENEAGLES was proceeding through ice in Lake Erie when it abruptly stopped. The trailing WESTMOUNT could not stop as quickly and rammed the stern of its CSL fleetmate. GLENEAGLES had to be towed to Lorain for repairs that included a new rudder.

2010: The rebuilt ALGOBAY went aground while upbound in the St. Marys River on its first trip to the upper lakes. The vessel had to go to Port Weller Dry Docks for repairs.

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


Lookback #511 – Chanda caught fire during scrapping on April 12, 1991

The Indian flag bulk carrier Chanda was a Great Lakes visitor in 1978. It was ten years old at the time having been built at Horten, Norway, as Cape Wrath in 1968. The 527-foot, 9-inch-long vessel carried British registry for Lyle Shipping but was sold and re-registered in India as Chanda in 1976.

The ship was strengthened to carry heavy cargoes and was equipped with six holds and six hatches. It came through the Seaway in 1978 but sustained machinery damage on the way back across the Atlantic for Rotterdam, Holland, and had to be towed to Falmouth, England, arriving Dec. 27, 1978.

The ship was laid up there but eventually repaired and returned to service. It was laid up again, this time at Bombay, India, on May 5, 1988, and never sailed again.

Following a sale for scrap, Chanda was towed to the local Powder Bunder Shipyard on April 11, 1991, and scrapping got underway by the Kalyanji Jethlal Shah Co. A fire broke out in the engine room as dismantling got underway 24 years ago today and did considerable interior damage. Once extinguished, the shipbreakers resumed their work and the Chanda was demolished for recycling.

Skip Gillham


Today in Great Lakes History -  April 12

On 12 April 1896, PETER DALTON (propeller tug, 63 foot 49 gross tons, built in 1880, at Grand Haven, Michigan) caught fire off Grosse Pointe, Illinois, while returning to Chicago with the salvaged schooner A.J. DEWEY in tow and the boiler of the JOHNSON. The fire burned her in two before she finally sank. The DALTON's crew and the DEWEY were rescued by the tug WELCOME.

On 12 April 1874, the tug D.N. RUNNELS was launched Runnel's yard at the north end of the 7th Street Bridge in Port Huron, Michigan. As the tug splashed into the Black River, the flag at her bow was unfurled with her name on it. Commodore Runnels distributed oranges to the crowd of onlookers.

The tanker a.) LANA (Hull#151) was launched April 12, 1967, by Aktiebolaget Lodose Varv A/B at Lodose, Sweden. Renamed b.) NEW ORLEANS in 1988 and c.) NANCY ORR GAUCHER in 1989, she departed the Lakes in 1994. Renamed d.) PETRAWAK in 1996 and e.) TONGA in 2000.

Tanker LAKESHELL (Hull#389) of Marine Industries Ltd., Sorel, Quebec, was launched April 12, 1969, for Shell Canada Ltd.

Pioneer Steamship's steamer a.) A.A. AUGUSTUS (Hull#374) of American Ship Building Co., Lorain, Ohio, departed Cleveland on her maiden voyage April 12, 1910, bound for Green Bay, Wisconsin, with a load of coal. She was sold to Canadian registry in 1961, and renamed b.) HOWARD HINDMAN. She was scrapped at Bilbao, Spain, in 1969.

Hall Corp. of Canada's tanker HUDSON TRANSPORT (Hull#629) of the Davie Shipbuilding Co. Ltd., Lauzon, Quebec, was launched April 12, 1962.

On April 12, 1955, while upbound from Monroe, Michigan to load iron ore at Duluth, the ENDERS M. VOORHEES had the honor of opening the second century of navigation through the St. Marys Falls Ship Canal, celebrated with great pomp and ceremony.

On 12 April 1880, the wooden 2-mast schooner-barge JUPITER was launched at Marysville, Michigan, after being rebuilt under the supervision of James Bowers. She was originally built in 1857, at Irving, New York, and after this rebuild, she lasted another 21 years.

On 12 April 1892, UGANDA (wooden propeller, 291 foot, 2,053 gross tons) was launched at W. Bay City, Michigan, at F.W. Wheeler's yard (Hull #88).

1949: The corvette H.M.C.S. BATTLEFORD was Hull 95 from the Collingwood Shipyard and it was commissioned at Montreal on July 31, 1941. The ship was sold to the Venezuelan Navy becoming b) LIBERTAD in 1946 and was wrecked on this date in 1949.

1991: CHANDA hailed from India and first came to the Great Lakes in 1978. The ship was laid up Bombay, India, on May 5, 1988, after 20 years of service. It was moved to the scrapyard on April 11, 1991, but a major fire erupted in the engine room April 12 during dismantling operations.

1993: MELISSA DESGAGNES ran aground in the St. Lawrence, two miles east of the Eisenhower Lock, at 2352 hours. The ship was en route from Windsor to Newfoundland with wheat and floated free, after being lightered, on April 15.

2009: SCARAB was 16 years old when it first came through the Seaway in 1999. The ship was sold and renamed JASPER in 2002 and never returned to our shores. It was anchored off Fatsa, Turkey, when it got blown aground on this date in 2009. Some 2000 tons of fertilizer had to be removed for the ship to float free and it went to Tuzla, Turkey, for repairs.

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


Fleet pays high price for thick lakes ice

4/11 - Cleveland, Ohio – Cargo movement in U.S.-flag Great Lakes freighters in March fell to its lowest level since 2009. Shipments totaled only 825,000 tons, a decrease of more than 60 percent compared to the month’s 5-year average. Another brutal winter, coupled with a number of casualties to U.S. and Canadian icebreakers, slowed the resumption of navigation.

A number of vessels delayed their fit-out because of the heavy ice. Only 26 U.S.-flag lakers were in service on April 1. In some years, nearly 50 hulls are underway by that date.

Iron ore felt the brunt of the delays. Loadings totaled just 535,000 tons, a decrease of 66 percent compared to the month’s 5-year average.

This is the second year in a row a harsh winter has stalled the new shipping season. Lake Carriers’ Association has called on the U.S. government to build another heavy icebreaker to pair with the Mackinaw and assign another 140-foot-long icebreaking tug to the lakes while the 140s already stationed here are rotated to the Coast Guard yard in Baltimore for service life extension.

Lake Carriers’ Association


Marquette’s first ore ship captain gets key to city

4/11 - Marquette, Mich. – After an eight-day voyage and being stuck in the ice in Whitefish Bay for five days the first ore ship of the season made port in Marquette Thursday. The Herbert C. Jackson finished its trip from Detroit at about 5:30 p.m.

It took a while for the 6,000 horsepower steam ship to dock but once it did city officials were on hand to present Captain Paul Berger the key to the city, which is a Marquette tradition.

This is Berger’s first key and he says that getting it from Marquette is special.

“I appreciate it very much for sure, as I told the mayor this is my favorite port on the Great Lakes. I think it is a beautiful little city. I love how the bike paths are set up so you can ride your bike or walk, there's plenty of shopping, I like the shops downtown and the sailor’s best thing, there's a Walmart” said Berger.

Being stuck on the ice can be harrowing, as another ore ship, the Kaye E. Barker, had a hole punched through her hull, though the danger is minimal because the hull can be sealed off to contain the water.

Captain Berger said that the only thing they ran out of was eggs, and that the crew was limited to pancakes and oatmeal for breakfast.


First Laker makes it to Thunder bay after icy voyage across Superior

4/11 - Thunder Bay, Ont. - Capt. Vaughan Kendall says getting to Thunder Bay had its share of harrowing moments.

With thick ice still coating much of Lake Superior, Vaughan, who pilots the motor vessel Tecumseh, on Friday said it was slow going after sailing through the Soo Locks.

But it wasn't as bad as last year, the Port Dover, Ont.-based captain said.

"Conditions were really good from Windsor up to Sault Ste. Marie," he said on Friday, hours after the Tecumseh became the first laker to arrive in port this shipping season.

"Once we did get to the St. Marys River the ice got pretty thick, as it was last year. We did battle ice from the St. Marys River about a quarter of the way across Lake Superior. Then the ice eased off quite a bit for us."

Vaughan, who was awarded the honorary top hat on Friday for being the first ship to dock at a ceremony at Mission Terminal, said they weren't out of danger yet.

"We were only four miles from the pier last night and the ship came to a stop. We got stuck," Vaughan said.

"But the U.S. Coast Guard, their ice cutter came this morning and made a nice track for us, so we were able to get into the dock."

The ship is expected to load up to 20,000 tonnes of grain -- canola and soy, before departing for southern Ontario.

Thunder Bay Port Authority president Tim Heany said it's the Tecumseh is the first of a wave of about 20 ships, including the first sea-going vessel, expected to arrive in the city wihin the next week or so.

That's a good sign, Heaney said, adding that despite the fact the ship is arriving about three weeks later than the traditional average, it's two weeks ahead of last year's first arrival.

"There's still tough ice conditions in Whitefish Bay this year, but there's good co-operation between the Canadian and American coast guards. That was the toughest. But now it's open and we'll have 20 ships by next week," Heaney said.

"The elevators are pretty much full and they were kind of planning on an earlier start than this, so there's been some anxious people waiting to start loading the ship. We'll be ahead of last year, certainly on tonnage very early in because the elevators are full and the number of ships we're going to have."

The port had its busiest year in 2014 since 1997.


Ships clear ice, start moving again on Lake Superior

4/11 - Duluth, Minn. – Freighters are on the move again through ice-clogged eastern Lake Superior, as ship operators once again called for more icebreaking resources on the Great Lakes.

The 18 vessels that had been hung up in 35 square miles of crushed ice up to 8 feet thick caught a break with the Wednesday arrival of the heavy Canadian icebreaker Pierre Radisson.

"Almost with the wave of a wand, the Radisson walks through and the ice parted," said Mark Gill, director of vessel traffic services for the U.S. Coast Guard.

The 322-foot Pierre Radisson is the biggest vessel currently involved in the icebreaking effort that also includes several U.S. Coast Guard vessels. Gill added that wind from the southeast aided in unclogging the problematic Whitefish Bay area — one of the easternmost bays on Lake Superior before the Soo Locks that link with the lower Great Lakes.

By Thursday morning, the Lake Carriers' Association had renewed its call for more icebreakers — a twin to the U.S. Coast Guard's 240-foot Mackinaw, as well as other, smaller vessels.

This week's ice issues are "just another clear indication that the lakes need, at a minimum, another heavy icebreaker to pair with the Mackinaw," LCA president James H.I. Weakley said in a news release, while also asking for another 140-foot icebreaking tug to be added to the Great Lakes arsenal.

All 12 upbound vessels that had been caught in the Whitefish Bay ice resumed transit by Wednesday night, with most of them headed for Two Harbors or the Twin Ports. Six downbound vessels all were moving by Thursday morning, including the Kaye E. Barker, which had a hole punched into its forepeak by the ice. Some of the ice chunks were described by Gill as being the size of pickup trucks.

The Kaye E. Barker was on its way to Sturgeon Bay, Wis., for repairs after it offloaded iron ore Wednesday onto the Lee A. Tregurtha, which was then carrying on to Indiana Harbor, Ind., at the southern tip of Lake Michigan.

Gill said eastern Lake Superior is not free and clear yet, as Whitefish Bay is expected to receive a weekend gale from the northwest "that will likely pack things again."

Rain in the forecast and rising temperatures should help, and the Pierre Radisson will remain in Whitefish Bay to "act as a shepherd," Gill said.

The 225-foot Duluth-based Coast Guard cutter Alder has left the area and is headed to Thunder Bay, Ont., as the Coast Guard continues to address ice in other areas across the Great Lakes.

"We're forecast to be done breaking ice by the end of the month," Gill said, "but we've still got a lot of work to do — smaller harbor breakouts."

Ice on the Great Lakes, while not as bad as 2014's epic spring, has contributed to a slow start to the shipping campaign, the Lake Carriers' Association said in a Thursday news release.

Iron ore shipments of 800,000 tons are the lowest level for March since 2010. The Lake Carriers' Association blamed ice, and also a lack of icebreaking resources. Since 2014's epic winter, the association that represents 16 companies operating 56 U.S.-flag vessels has been calling for the U.S. Coast Guard to add a twin to the Mackinaw, which has been operating at less than full power of late due to mechanical issues.

"The ice formations were so formidable that a number of LCA's members chose to delay getting underway rather than risk a repeat of last spring when ice caused more than $6 million in damage to the vessels," Weakley said in the news release.

Weakley noted that with foreign steel imports again reducing operating rates at American mills, it is even more critical that raw materials move as efficiently as possible.

"Right now American steel mills need every competitive advantage they can get," he said. "A slow start to resupplying the mills after the winter closure is a worry the industry could do without."

Duluth News Tribune


Port Reports -  April 11

Sturgeon Bay, Wis. – Daniel Lindner
American Century departed from winter layup in Sturgeon Bay on Friday evening, after re-arriving earlier in the week to have a leaking stern tube repaired. She is expected to arrive in Two Harbors, Minn., to load her first cargo of the season on Monday.

Rochester, N.Y. – Tom Brewer
English River was at anchor off Rochester most of Friday due to the high winds on Lake Ontario. She is headed to Bath for a load of bulk cement.


New Seaway notices issued

4/11 -  View the notices here: Transit Restrictions at Opening and  Pilot Exchange on Vessels from the Inland Fleet


Lookback #510 – American Mariner hit a rock above the Soo Locks on April 11, 1994

4/11 - The 1994 shipping season was barely underway when American Mariner had to go to drydock for repairs. The ship had been downbound at Sault Ste. Marie when it hit a rock above the locks and punched a hole in the hull. The leaking self-unloader was sent to Erie for repairs following the accident of 21 years ago today.

American Mariner was built at Sturgeon Bay, WI. It was christened on April 15, 1980, after the American Steamship Co. changed their originally plan of naming the ship Chicago. The 730 foot long by 78 foot wide vessel loaded its first cargo at Escanaba and departed April 26 with 31,322 tons of iron ore for Ashtabula.

On June 21, 1989, this ship had an unusual cargo. It loaded holds of coal and grain at Superior with the former consigned to Marquette and the latter destined for Windsor, ON.

While most work over the years has been on the upper four Great Lakes, American Mariner cleared Toledo with grain for Montreal on July 6, 1993. This was the widest laker to use the Seaway to that date and the cargo was transshipped to Russia aboard the saltwater ship Mormacsky.

Later, on May 24, 1999, American Mariner came down the Welland Canal with iron ore for the Steel Company of Canada in Hamilton. It was back in the Welland Canal on Dec. 25, 2009, but this time the ore on board was bound for Dofasco, the other Hamilton steel maker.

American Mariner remains an active member of the American Steamship Co. fleet as it had been when it went aground on April 11, 1994.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  April 11

News Photo Gallery
Lay-up list updated


Today in Great Lakes History -  April 11

11 April 1890 - CHENANGO (wooden propeller passenger-package freight steamer, 176 foot, 696 gross tons, built in 1887, at Detroit, Michigan) was carrying 40,000 bushels of wheat from Toledo, Ohio, to Buffalo, New York, when she caught fire off Erie, Pennsylvania. She was partially consumed by the fire and sank in four fathoms of water with no loss of life. She was later raised at great expense and rebuilt as the steamer LIZZIE MADDEN.

On 11 April 1882, GALATEA (3-mast wooden schooner, 180 foot, 606 gross tons) was launched by F. W. Wheeler (Hull#13) at W. Bay City, Michigan. She lasted until she stranded and broke up at Grand Marais, Michigan, in the "Big Storm" of 1905.

The tanker IMPERIAL ST. CLAIR (Hull#57) of the Port Weller Drydocks Ltd., entered service on April 11, 1974, running light for Montreal, Quebec.

Canada Steamship Lines’ J.W. MC GIFFIN (Hull#197) was christened at Collingwood on April 11, 1972. Port Weller Drydocks attached a new forebody in 1999, and she was renamed b.) CSL NIAGARA.

Pioneer Steamship's steamer PHILIP D. BLOCK sailed on her maiden voyage April 11, 1925, with coal from Huron, Ohio, bound for delivery at Indiana Harbor, Indiana.

Wilkinson Transportation Co.'s steamer A.E. NETTLETON (Hull#176) of the Detroit Ship Building Co., was launched April 11, 1908. She was scrapped at Santander, Spain in 1973.

On April 11, 1970, in Lake Superior's Whitefish Bay, CSL's steamer STADACONA of 1952 encountered thick ice and suffered bow damage. She developed a hairline crack in her bow and to alleviate the leakage her cargo was shifted from her forward hold to her after compartments using her self-unloading equipment. This maneuver raised her bow enough to keep her from sinking before she reached safety.

Pittsburgh Steamship Co.'s steamer ENDERS M. VOORHEES (Hull#288), of the Great Lakes Engineering Works, was launched on April 11, 1942. She was scrapped at Aliaga, Turkey in 1989.

On April 11, 1964, while upbound on Whitefish Bay, Lake Superior, a boiler burst on board the Pittsburgh Steamship Co.'s WILLIAM A. IRVIN, killing one of the crew and injuring two others.

April 11, 1948 - ANN ARBOR NO 7 ran aground just south of Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin.

On 11 April 1874, the new tug E.H. MILLER burned at her dock at Willow Island in the Saginaw River. Her loss was valued at $9,000 and there was no insurance. Although considered to be a total loss, she was rebuilt and lasted another 46 years.

On 11 April 1878, ALASKA, a wooden bulk freighter, was launched at J. P. Clark's yard in Detroit, Michigan. Her dimensions were 180 feet overall, 28 foot beam, and 10 foot depth.

The navigation season at the Canadian Sault Canal was unofficially opened on 11 April 1955, at 7:15 a.m., when the MANZZUTTI (steel crane ship, 246 foot, 1,558 gross tons, built in 1903, at Buffalo, New York as J.S. KEEFE) locked up bound for the Algoma Steel dock. Because the MANZZUTTI wintered over at the Soo, its Captain, John B. Perry, was not eligible for the traditional top hat and silk gloves presented to the first captain through the locks. So this was not the official opening of navigation at the Soo. The first boat through the American locks was expected the following day.

1964: NORCO had been used to carry pulpwood from Michipicoten to Green Bay from about 1938 to 1957. The vessel had been built at Ecorse, Michigan, for deep-sea service as INCA in 1915, and returned inland in the 1920s. It went back to the sea in 1959 and stranded at Little Corn Island, Nicaragua, on this date in 1964 while en route from Tampa to Puerto Limon, Costa Rica, with a cargo of phosphate.

1994: AMERICAN MARINER was downbound in the St. Marys River when it struck a rock above the Soo Locks and had to go to the shipyard in Erie to repair the damage.

Data from: Skip Gillham, 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.


Lakes ore trade off to slowest start in five years; more icebreakers needed

4/10 - Cleveland, Ohio – Shipments of iron ore on the Great Lakes totaled an anemic 800,000 tons in March, the lowest level for the month since 2010. The March ore float was also nearly 60 percent below the month’s five-year average.

Heavy ice and lack of icebreaking resources on both sides of the border were the culprits.

“The winter of 2014/15 was again brutal,” said James H.I. Weakley, president of Lake Carriers’ Association. “The ice formations were so formidable that a number of LCA’s members chose to delay getting underway rather than risk a repeat of last spring when ice caused more than $6 million in damage to the vessels.

“Compounding the problem is that both U.S. and Canadian icebreakers have experienced a number of mechanical issues. The Mackinaw, the U.S. Coast Guard’s most powerful icebreaker, is operating at less than full power. Other icebreakers have suffered casualties that have taken them out of service for various periods of time,” he said.

Weakley noted that with foreign steel imports again reducing operating rates at American mills to perilous levels, it is even more critical that raw materials move as efficiently as possible. “Right now American steel mills need every competitive advantage they can get. A slow start to resupplying the mills after the winter closure is a worry the industry could do without. This is just another clear indication that the lakes need, at a minimum, another heavy icebreaker to pair with the Mackinaw, and another 140-foot-long icebreaking tug to cover for the one that has been sent to the Coast Guard yard in Baltimore for service life extension.”

Weakley also called on Canada to review its icebreaking resources dedicated to the Lakes. The country used to have seven icebreakers stationed on the lakes, but now just two are permanently assigned here.

Lake Carriers’ Association


Port Reports -  April 10

Duluth, Minn. – Korey G
American Integrity departed layup for Silver Bay around 2:15 p.m.

Marquette, Mich. – Rod Burdick
After nearly a week delay due to heavy ice at Whitefish Bay, Herbert C. Jackson arrived Thursday evening at LS&I to load the first ore cargo of the 2015-16 shipping season.

Sturgeon Bay, Wis.
Correction to a report published yesterday, American Century was not moved from layup berth to alongside Walter J. McCarthy. The Century departed layup but had to return due to a leaking stern tube.

Owen Sound, Ont. – Torben Hawksbridge
Neah Bay was in Owen Sound Thursday morning to break out the Saginaw and Algomarine as well as to take on fuel. Saginaw backed out of the harbor shortly after 9 a.m.

Saginaw River - Todd Shorkey
The tug Samuel de Champlain, pushing the cement barge, Innovation, delivered the first commercial cargo to the Saginaw River, starting the 2015 season. The pair called on the Lafarge Cement Dock in Essexville, late Thursday morning., to unload. They are expected to be outbound on Friday.


New Polsteam cargo-passenger service starting from UK to Great Lakes

4/10 - The Polish Steamship Company (Polsteam) is about to introduce a new occasional cargo-passenger service with sailings from the UK port of Teesport, to ports in the Great Lakes. The first sailing will take place in mid April with passenger bookings being taken on a standby basis.

Fares are US $1,640 per passenger in single or double cabins from Teesport to ports between Montreal and Detroit, and $1,880 to ports above Detroit. Port charges are $132 per person extra. The first sailing will be by the Wicko, pictured above by Vedran Mlacic in the Welland Canal bound for Cleveland. On the first sailing in this service, the Wicko will be sailing to Sault Ste Marie, Ont., a new port for Polsteam passengers.

Intending passengers who are not US or Canadian citizens require a full US B1/B2 Visa to enter the United States by cargo ship. If there are direct sailings to Canadian ports, US visas may not be required. Space may also be available from the Great Lakes once destinations are known.

Regular sailings are also still being offered twice a month from the port of IJmuiden, on the North Sea Canal near Amsterdam, to Cleveland and Burns Harbor.

For further information on these voyages, e-mail


2015 Badger Gathering reservations now being taken

4/10 - - Plans have been completed for the annual Boatnerd Gathering aboard the S.S. Badger for a round trip from Ludington, Mich., to Manitowoc, Wis., and return on Saturday, May 30. While in Manitowoc Boatnerds will have an option to reboard the Badger for a Wisconsin Shoreline Cruise or visit the Wisconsin Maritime Museum.

Staying on board the Badger on Friday night, May 29, is also an option. Friday night guests will be treated to guided tours of the pilothouse and engine room, and buffet breakfast on Saturday morning. Only 28 staterooms are available. Make your reservation today.

See the Gathering Page for all the details


Lookback #509 – Transatlantic lost via a collision and fire on April 10, 1965

4/10 - It was 50 years ago today that two saltwater ships collided in the St. Lawrence. The accident left one ship capsized and burning while the other had to go to Montreal for major bow repairs.

On April 10, 1965, the Greek freighter Hermes was in a major collision with the West German cargo carrier Transatlantic in the Lake St. Peter section of the river,

As the two ships approached, the stern of the Hermes got sucked towards the shore by the proximity of the riverbank. This put the ship out of control as it veered into the up bound channel and the Transatlantic.

The former had just cleared Sorel and was headed to the sea. The latter was en route from Trois Rivieres to Montreal when the two freighters collided. Transatlantic was hit on the port side and burst into flames with a large hole in the hull.

The blazing Transatlantic, which dated from 1954, eventually capsized and three members of the crew were lost in the accident.

Hermes received major bow damage but remained afloat. It was able to reach Montreal and was eventually repaired. Transatlantic was a total loss. The burned out hull was salvaged in August 1965 and broken up for scrap at Sorel in 1967.

A $13.5 million lawsuit was filed and the Canadian Department of Transport was found partially liable as the range lights on the river had shifted out of position.

Hermes dated from 1962 and carried Dutch registry. It was later renamed b) Niki R. and came back to the St. Lawrence in October 1978 but the ship was never a Great Lakes trader under either name. The ill-fated Transatlantic had been a regular Seaway caller since 1961 with a total of 16 trips to our inland seas.

A second Transatlantic was built at Tamano, Japan, and completed in December 1965. It became a regular Great Lakes trader with four calls through the Seaway in 1966 and five more in 1967. It was scrapped at Kaohsiung, Taiwan, in 1986 as d) Franz. Niki R., the former Hermes, was sold for scrap in 1984 and broken up in India.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  April 10

News Photo Gallery
Lay-up list updated


Today in Great Lakes History -  April 10

10 April 1868 The ALPENA (wooden side-wheel passenger-package freight steamer, 653 tons, built in 1867, at Marine City, Michigan) was purchased by Capt. A. E. Goodrich from Gardner, Ward & Gardner for $80,000.

On 10 April 1861, UNION (wooden propeller, 170 foot, 465 tons) was launched and christened at the Bates yard in Manitowoc, Wisconsin for the Goodrich Line. She cost $19,000. The engines, machinery and many of the fittings were from the OGONTZ of 1858. This was the first steamer built by the Bates yard.

The tanker TEXACO CHIEF (Hull#193), was christened April 10, 1969. She was renamed b.) A G FARQUHARSON in 1986 and c.) ALGONOVA in 1998. She was sold Panamanian in 2007 and renamed PACIFICO TRADER.

The d.) GODERICH of 1908 was sold April 10, 1963, to the Algoma Central & Hudson Bay Railway Co. and renamed e.) AGAWA. Renamed f.) LIONEL PARSONS in 1968, and served as a storage barge at Goderich, Ontario until 1983, when she was scrapped at Thunder Bay, Ontario.

The keel was laid April 10, 1952, for the steamer WILLIAM CLAY FORD (Hull#300) of the Great Lakes Engineering Works.

The SINCLAIR GREAT LAKES (Hull#1577) of the Ingalls Iron Works, Decatur, Alabama, was christened on April 10, 1963.

On April 10, 1973, the ARTHUR B. HOMER departed the shipyard at Lorain, Ohio, with a new pilothouse. She had suffered extensive damage on October 5, 1972, in a head on collision with the saltie NAVISHIPPER on the Detroit River.

April 10, 1912 - ANN ARBOR NO 5 struck her stern against the channel in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, bending her rudder, and damaging her port shaft.

On 10 April 1875, the propeller EMMA E. THOMPSON was launched at East Saginaw, Michigan. She was built for Capt. D.F. Edwards of Toledo and cost $20,000. Her dimensions were 125 feet x 26 feet x 10 feet. In 1880, she was rebuilt as a schooner and then returned to a propeller in 1881, when she was given the engine from the propeller AKRON.

On 10 April 1882, ESPINDOLA (wooden schooner, 54 tons, built in 1869, at Manitowoc, Wisconsin) was carrying railroad ties when she was overwhelmed by a storm and went to pieces one mile north of the Chicago waterfront. No lives were lost, but four crewmen were rescued by a tug after having been in the water for some time.

MANZZUTTI (steel crane ship, 246 foot, 1558 gross tons, built in 1903, at Buffalo, New York as a.) J S KEEFE) of the Yankcanuck Steamship Ltd., was the first vessel through the Canadian locks at the Soo for the 1954 navigation season. She entered the Canadian canal on 10 April about 8:15 a.m. The locking of the MANZZUTTI was not considered the official opening of the season at the Soo since she wintered in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, and the first vessel must come up the St. Marys River from Lake Huron or Michigan. President Dave Bows of the Kiwanis Club, pointed out the club’s $1,000 marine contest is based on the first such vessel though the Michigan Sault locks only. The U.S. Coast Guard reported six-inch ice in the lower St. Marys River.

1905: The 400-foot steel-hulled bulk carrier GEORGE B. LEONARD arrived in Cleveland with ice damage and leaking bow seams.

1941: The first CEDARBRANCH ran aground at the mouth of the Etobicoke Creek, west of Toronto and had to be lightered to float free.

1949: The former J.H. PLUMMER, once part of Canada Steamship Lines, was reported wrecked, due to stranding in fog, while six miles southwest of Shaweishan on this date in 1949. The vessel was sailing as f) TUNG AN, and was en route from Tsingtao to Shanghai, with scrap steel.

1953: The Finnish freighter ANGELA came to the Great Lakes in 1952 and was wrecked on April 10, 1953, at Frisland, Isle of Coll, due to heavy weather. The vessel was travelling in ballast from Larne, Northern Ireland, to Goole, UK, and was a total loss.

1965: A collision in the Lake St. Peter section of the St. Lawrence involved the TRANSATLANTIC and HERMES. The former, a West German freighter, caught fire and capsized with the loss of three lives. The vessel was salvaged in August and eventually scrapped at Sorel. It had been coming to the Great Lakes for the Poseidon Line since 1961. The latter, a Dutch carrier, never came through the Seaway and was scrapped at Calcutta, India, as NIKI R. in 1985-1986.

1977: HILDA MARJANNE ran aground on a sandbar at Sarnia after leaving the Government Dock with a cargo of corn. It was released the next day with the help of the tug DARYL C. HANNAH.

1989: The canal-sized bulk carrier IROQUOIS, b) TROISDOC (ii), was built in 1955 but left the Seaway as c) KOBA in 1983. That vessel foundered in the Gulf of Mexico, near Isla de Lobos, on this date in 1989 while en route from Tampico to Progresso, Mexico.

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


Trapped convoy on the move after arrival of Canadian icebreaker

4/9 - Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. – Vessels stuck for days in heavy ice east of Whitefish Point were on the move Wednesday as the big Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Pierre Radisson arrived from the East Coast to lend a hand to the other cutters already on the scene. By late Wednesday, the vessels were located west of the point.

The Radisson joined CCGS Samuel Risley and American U.S. Coast Guard vessels Mackinaw and Alder, already in the area, said the Radisson’s Capt. Stéphane Julien from on board the icebreaker.

“We are going there to help the Risley … and give a hand wherever needed,” said Julien. “We may have to go to Thunder Bay to break ice inside the bay there.”

The Coast Guard said there were six downbound and 12 upbound vessels in the Whitefish Bay area waiting to move through the ice.

The Samuel Risley helped clear two of the six downbound vessels Wednesday afternoon, as the Pierre Radisson crossed into Lake Superior with seven upbound lakers following behind it.

Efforts Wednesday to move the ice-damaged Kaye E. Barker into Waskai Bay, west of the locks, so it could offload some of its cargo into fleetmate Lee A. Tregurtha were also successful. At 5 p.m., the Barker was approaching the Tregurtha above Light 26 in the St. Marys River. By 5:30 p.m., both vessels had booms raised and the Barker was unloading into the after hatches of the Tregurtha.

The Barker will likely head for repairs in Sturgeon Bay, Wis., after stopping for inspections in Sault Ste. Marie. The 767-foot-long Barker was not in danger. Minor flooding was controlled with pumps and temporary patching.

Though Radisson, which calls Quebec City, QC, home, normally conducts icebreaking operations on the St. Lawrence River from Trois-Rivières, QC to the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the ship and her crew are not strangers to the Great Lakes.

“We took the ship up through Lake Erie and into Lake Superior last year. This year was much easier,” said Julien, of the trip through lakes Ontario and Erie. He said last year, when the ship arrived in late March, ice on Lake Erie was still crunchy, very thick and solid; still in winter conditions.

Arriving on Lake Erie this year on April 1, the crew found very different ice conditions. “The ice was already rotting due to some rain in the area. It’s not as thick as last year, but it still required some icebreaking.”

Julien said rain on the ice decreases its reflectively and the sun will start to melt the ice. In a period of four or five days, hard ice can become soft and start to decay.

Last year, when the Pierre Radisson worked Lake Erie, Julien said the crew saw ice pushed onshore at Long Point more than two metres thick. “We sailed close to Long Point this year and saw nothing that compared.”

While there were some thick ice ridges on the lake in 2014, Julien said other than some small ridges outside of Port Colborne, the Pierre Radisson faced no major problems on Lake Erie this year. As the ship was headed toward Lake Superior, Julien didn’t know the conditions he would be facing. Last year, he said there were ice ridges between three and four metres high.

“It was very impressive to see on Lake Superior,” he said, adding the ice conditions on the Great Lakes can’t compare to what he’s faced in the Canadian Arctic. “It never gets as thick as Arctic ice.”

Ice in the Arctic is multi-year, which means when the summer ice melt happens, fresh water forms on top of the ice and when it freezes back up, there is less salt and more air pockets form inside. Less salt in the water and the air pockets create harder ice. As the process continues year after year, it makes for very hard, very dangerous ice.

Ice on the Great Lakes can be very strong, especially if it forms into ridges, which are pieces of broken ice piled in different directions and heights. The ridges are thick, full of air and very hard to crack, said Julien.

“We have to go full speed and hit the ridges. It can six, seven, or eight shots to through a ridge. It all depends on the ice and the time of year.”

Ramming ice ridges is dangerous enough, but trying to ram through them while escorting ships adds another level of danger. Julien said if an icebreaker comes to a sudden stop while hitting a ridge, and a ship is too close behind, there is the possibility of a collision.

Normally, the captain, who has been with the Canadian Coast Guard for 35 years, said the Pierre Radisson’s hull pushes through it the ice on the St. Lawrence and Great Lakes.

If the ice is thicker, and not a ridge, the ship will ride up on top of it and its weight will crush the ice.

Information on ice conditions, such as thickness, is provided to Canadian Coast Guard ships on the lakes by Environment Canada’s Canadian Ice Service.

“We receive all the information on what the conditions are. They can tell me ice is two or three feet thick, but we still have to go through it. If they are telling me the ice is really piled up in one area, we’ll stay away and detour around,” said Juilen, he makes his decisions based on what he sees in front of him.

Assisting the Pierre Radisson, and adding another layer to the Environment Canada information, is helicopter on board the ship that can fly out and check on the conditions and find the best way through the ice.

Julien said he’ll always choose the easiest path through the ice, and doesn’t always stick to the shipping lanes.

“You have to choose your track … go where the conditions are easier. Last year we had to be really careful, it was very difficult,” said Julien, who has made 28 trips to the Arctic and spent time on CCGS Amundsen and CCGS Des Groseilliers.

In restricted waters, though, the ship, with a crew of 35, has to stick to certain paths so as not to run aground. Not wanting to run into an ice ridge either, Julien said the Pierre Radisson will only run ship escorts during the day.

While the Pierre Radisson joined the Samuel Risley on Lake Superior, the CCGS Martha L. Black moved from breaking ice at harbors on Lake Ontario into the Welland Canal and Port Colborne. The Martha L. Black was docked in the city, ready to assist ships on eastern Lake Erie until ice conditions improve.

CCGS Griffon was moved into the St. Lawrence Seaway to assist ships near locks in the Montreal area, as was the CCGS Amundsen., Jim Brimley


Westcott Company returns to 24-hour service

4/9 - Detroit, Mich. - The J. W. Westcott Co. returned to 24-hour operations Wednesday morning with a delivery to the Dorothy Ann and barge Pathfinder. The U.S. mail boat J. W. Westcott II then returned to the company's dock below the Ambassador Bridge on the Detroit River for the new season.

The back-up mail boat Joseph J. Hogan will return to the Westcott dock later in the month from the winter lay-up dock at Gregory's Marina. This marks the company's 120th season on the river. Winter work on the Westcott fleet included normal maintenance, steel work and painting.


Top hat marks beginning of 2015 season at the Port of Hamilton

4/9 - Hamilton, Ont. – The first vessel of 2015 arrived in Hamilton harbor in the early hours of April 6, marking the beginning of the 2015 shipping. The Pacific Huron arrived carrying a load of steel coils from Spain and Italy, to be unloaded at Federal Marine Terminals’ facility at Pier 12. The Port of Hamilton welcomes more than 600 vessels each season, which runs through the end of December.

Hamilton Port Authority (HPA) officials greeted the vessel, presenting Captain Oleg Yarovoy with the ceremonial top hat, as part of an annual port tradition.

Port officials are optimistic about the 2015 shipping season.

“We had a slightly late start as a result of the icy winter, but we are ready for a busy year now that we’re rolling,” said HPA President & CEO Bruce Wood. “As the season’s inaugural shipment illustrates, finished steel is a critical component of the Port’s total cargo tonnage.”

More than a half-million tonnes of finished steel transited the Port of Hamilton in 2014, feeding a robust domestic manufacturing sector. The outlook remains strong for 2015.

Other cargoes continue to increase as a proportion of the total. For example, agricultural commodities now make up 19 per cent of the port’s tonnage, up from 10 per cent in 2009. This increase has been the result of substantial investments in terminal capacity. “Together with our tenants, we are investing heavily in terminal facilities to handle a wide range of cargo types,” said Bruce Wood. The port has attracted close to $300 million in investment in recent years, including new asphalt cement, fertilizer and grain terminals.

The largest Canadian port on the Great Lakes, the Port of Hamilton handles 28 per cent of all of the cargo that travels through the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway, and 34 per cent of Canadian Seaway-related jobs are connected to the Port of Hamilton.

Port of Hamilton


Port Reports -  April 9

Sturgeon Bay, Wis. – Daniel Lindner
The 1,000 footer American Century was moved from her winter berth next to fleetmate Walter J. McCarthy Jr. on Wednesday, and docked parallel to the shipyard. She posted a destination of Two Harbors, Minn. The Century should depart on Thursday, with the remaining vessels set to begin their seasons in the next week or so.

Alpena, Mich. - Ben & Chanda McClain
The Alpena arrived in port on a windy Wednesday morning to load cement. It departed by early afternoon heading for Milwaukee,WI. The tug Samuel de Champlain and barge Innovation is expected at Lafarge late Wednesday night.. Last Thursday the tugboat Manitou left Alpena. It was tied up in the river and was available for icebreaking.


Lookback #508 – Former Herulv arrived at Gadani Beach for scrapping on April 9, 1986

While I never saw the tanker Herulv when it came into the Great Lakes in 1976, I remember it well from an experience in Montreal harbor 13 years earlier. At that time, the ship was sailing as Johs. Stove and it arrived at Montreal heavily loaded with oil for a local refinery. I was spending the summer of 1963 working on the tanker Lubrolake and my ship, tied up on one side to off load cargo while the Fuel Transport was moored on the other side with the same task. I was among some of our crew invited aboard to look over this 591 foot long Norwegian tanker. It was not a new ship as it dated from 1957 but I remember being very impressed with its size and modern equipment. Johs. Stove sailed for a total of ten years and never entered the Seaway. It was sold in 1967 and renamed Herulv. The vessel became a Seaway trader in 1976, still under the flag of Norway, and then sold again and renamed c) Cherry Bay in 1978. The latter was registered in Singapore until the ship became d) Sable in 1980. The 29-year old tanker was resold to Pakistani shipbreakers and arrived at Gadani Beach, on April 9, 1986. It was renamed e) Able for the final trip that ended 29 years ago today. The Johs. Stove that had been a Seaway trader in 1972 was a bulk carrier and had also been inland as Brissac. This ship ended up at Bombay, India, and scrapping began there in January 1987. Skip Gillham


Updates -  April 9

News Photo Gallery
Saltie Gallery updated
Lay-up list updated


Today in Great Lakes History -  April 9

09 April 1890 - W.H. SAWYER (wooden propeller freighter, 201 foot, 746 gross tons) was launched by F. W. Wheeler (Hull #66) at West Bay City, Michigan. She lasted until 1928, when she sank off Harbor Beach, Michigan.

On 09 April 1868, SEABIRD (wooden side-wheel steamer, 638 tons, built in 1859, at Newport (Marine City), Michigan, was sailing on her first trip of the season from Manitowoc to Chicago. At 6 a.m. off Waukegan, Illinois, the porter cleaned out the ashes in the cabin stove and threw the hot coals overboard into the wind. The coals were blown back aboard and a blaze quickly engulfed the vessel. Only two survived. They were picked up by the schooner CORNELIA. 102 were lost. The vessel was uninsured and this was a severe financial blow to the new Goodrich Transportation Company.

On April 9, 1960, Canada Steamship Lines Ltd.'s a.) MURRAY BAY (Hull#164), of Collingwood Shipyards Ltd., entered service as the first Canadian 730-footer. Renamed b.) COMEAUDOC in 1963, she was scrapped at Port Colborne in 2003.

LAWRENDOC (Hull#174) was christened jointly with her Collingwood-built sister ship MONDOC (Hull#173) on April 9, 1962.

The Wilson Marine Transit Co., Cleveland purchased the b.) FINLAND, a.) HARRY COULBY (Hull#163) of the Detroit Ship Building Co., on April 9, 1957, and resold her the same day to the Republic Steel Corp., Cleveland with Wilson Marine acting as manager. Renamed c.) PETER ROBERTSON in 1969 and d.) MARINSAL in 1975.

On April 9, 1930, the CITY OF FLINT 32 entered service under the command of Estan Bayle.

On 9 April 1871, the wooden "rabbit" BAY CITY (152 foot, 372 gross tons, built in 1867, at Marine City, Michigan) had just loaded 270,000 feet of lumber in Bay City for Tonawanda, New York, when a fire broke out ashore. The ship was set adrift at 11 a.m. to get away from the lumberyard blaze. However, as the crew watched the shore fire, sparks smoldered in the ship's cargo. At 2 p.m., she burst into flame. Four tugs and a steam-powered fire engine brought alongside on a lighter fought the blaze to no avail. The vessel was scuttled to put out the fire. A few days later she was raised and repaired at a cost of $4,000.

On 9 April 1885, the laid-up vessels BURLINGTON and CHURCH were hit by the barge ALLEN and forced into the Military Street bridge at Port Huron, Michigan, crashing into the structure and completely blocking the Black River and disabling the bridge. The blame was placed on the spring thaw.

1913: Ice sliced through the wooden hull of the steamer UGANDA in the Straits of Mackinac and the vessel sank near White Shoal. The crew was rescued by the JOHN A. DONALDSON, and there was no loss of life.

1962: On November 28, 1961, fire had broken out aboard the IQUITOS off the coast of Mexico while the ship was en route from Callao, Peru, to Manzanillo, Mexico, with a cargo of fishmeal. The vessel had been a pre-Seaway trader as RUTENFJELL beginning in 1936 and as POLYRIVER beginning in 1951. The blazing freighter was abandoned by the crew. The ship did not sink and drifted for weeks before being spotted February 2, 1962. The hull was considered a hazard to navigation and was sunk on this date, southeast of the Christmas Islands by a U.S. destroyer, in 1962.

1968: MENIHEK LAKE was in a minor collision with the anchored PETITE HERMINE in the Lake St. Francis section of the St. Lawrence, and the latter's anchor chain damaged the propeller of MENIHEK LAKE.

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


Pierre Radisson on scene, Westbound convoy on the move

4/8 - Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. – The Canadian Coast Guard Ship Pierre Radisson locked through upbound Wednesday. They joined with the Canadian Coast Guard Ship Samuel Risley and had the Westbound convoy moving Wednesday evening.


Ice-damaged Kaye E. Barker to meet with fleetmate for cargo transfer

4/8 - Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. – Efforts to bring the ice-damaged Kaye E. Barker down into Waiska Bay to transfer cargo to Lee A. Tregurtha appeared to have been unsuccessful on Tuesday and will continue on Wednesday.

After the transfer takes place, the Tregurtha will head downbound to Indiana Harbor, according to Mark Gill, director of vessel traffic services for the U.S. Coast Guard at Sault Ste. Marie. The Barker will go to the Carbide Dock in the Soo for inspection. Damage to the Barker is in the forepeak, Gill said, and the vessel is in no danger.

“The healthy west wind we got over the weekend has packed what was left of Lake Sueprior’s ice down on top of Whitefish Bay,” Gill said in a Tuesday phone interview with “We’ve got about a 35-square-mile slug of ice that is between the point and open lake transit.”

The icebreakers Samuel Risley, Alder, Katmai Bay and Mackinaw have all been working in the area, with the big Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Pierre Radissson expected on the scene Wednesday to join in the icebreaking effort.

Gill said the Mackinaw is working at diminished capacity, with only one of her two azipod propulsion units working. “She still gives us some support even though she’s not at full capacity,” said Gill.

“We’ve been chipping away at this since Saturday a little bit at a time. It’s been described to me as stretching from Whitefish Point to the Canadian shoreline, so that’s some 20 miles wide, and roughly 11 miles long. It’s broken plate ice that’s 24-30 inches thick and it’s just piled up. Some of the plates are the size of pickup trucks (compared to) the Risley. It’s a pretty challenging field of ice. It’s fluid in that it’s got free flow to it. You hit it and it kind of bounces around and folds back in.”

He said the effort to bring the Tregurtha and Barker together have been challenging.

“You move two steps and you have to take a step back. It’s not something you can back and ram through, you have to try and draw a line through it then keep the line open while you bring the vessels down,” he said.

A shift in the wind, or even some rain, would be helpful, Gill added.

“Any component other than west or northwest is fine by us,” he said. “This ice isn’t anywhere near where it was last year, but it is significant for this time of year. The slug of ice we have out there is tremendous.”

On Tuesday, Paul R. Tregurtha, Tecumseh, Roger Blough and Edwin H. Gott all locked up to join the convoy and await the arrival of the Pierre Radisson. The downbound Stewart J. Cort, Algoma Olympic and Mesabi Miner are holding off Keweewaw Point. staff report


Jackman gets top hat in Goderich

4/8 - Captain Neil Olsen got the honor of donning Goderich's ceremonial top hat this year. The skipper of the Captain Henry Jackman was the first ship to enter the Port of Goderich for the season Monday night around 9:30. The top hat ceremony was completed early Tuesday morning.

Captain Olsen said the usual five-hour trip from Sarnia took eight hours. Olsen reported ice ridges at least 8 to 10 feet thick. He said the icebreaker leading them into port got stuck a few times and they had to take evasive action so they didn't run into the stern of the icebreaker. Olsen said about five miles offshore of Goderich things cleared up and they only required a tugboat to help bring them into port.

Algowood arrived Monday night and will load once the Jackman departs. The Jackman is on its way to Milwaukee with a load of road salt from Compass Minerals-Sifto Salt Mine.

Scott Miller


Port Reports -  April 8

USCG Hollyhock has been working with the Alpena and Hon. James L. Oberstar west of the Mackinaw Bridge. On Tuesday evening, they all appeared to be moving again.

Sturgeon Bay, Wis. – Daniel Lindner
CSL Laurentien and Hon. James L. Oberstar departed winter layup in Sturgeon Bay on Tuesday. Their departures left seven ships still laid up, all of which are expected to depart in the next week or so.

Stoneport, Mich. – Denny Dushane
The tug Joyce L. Van Enkevort and barge Great Lakes Trader loaded stone on Tuesday and were expected to depart at around 10 p.m. Also due in on Tuesday was the Cuyahoga in the late morning, arriving from Sarnia. Due on Wednesday will be the Joseph H. Thompson during the early morning. The tug Defiance and barge Ashtabula are expected to arrive on Thursday in the early evening.

Toledo, Ohio – Denny Dushane
Great Republic was expected to load next at the CSX Coal Dock, however they are currently under repair after grounding in the Trenton Channel of the Detroit River. There is nothing scheduled at the Midwest Terminal Stone Dock which is still closed for the season. Three vessels are due at the Torco Dock with iron ore cargos. Due to arrive first will be the Hon. James L. Oberstar on Wednesday in the early morning. Herbert C. Jackson is due on Thursday in the early afternoon. Arriving on Friday will be the Atlantic Huron in the early afternoon. Vessels that remain in lay-up include the Algorail, Sam Laud, H. Lee White, American Spirit, St. Clair, American Mariner, American Courage, Manistee, tug Ken Boothe Sr., the barge Lakes Contender and the tug Olive L. Moore and barge Lewis J. Kuber. American Valor remains in long-term lay-up near the Lakefront Docks.


Lookback #507 – The two-year career of Prins Willem II ended on April 8, 1941

4/8 - The first Prins Willem II in the Oranje Lijn fleet to come to the Great Lakes was completed at Fredriksstad, Norway, in January 1939. The 250 foot, 4 inch long general cargo carrier began trading through the old St. Lawrence Canals in May 1939.

The vessel made several journeys into the lakes and, in 1940, the crew staged a three week mutiny at Sandusky, Ohio. Netherlands had been overrun by the German Army and they did not want to return to their occupied homeland.

The sailors were also requesting danger pay and some left the ship out of fear. Several were arrested in Port Colborne and four deserters were found hiding out in a cottage in the Cardinal, ON area. A Canadian crew took the ship to England and the regular sailors were apparently deported.

Their fears were not unwarranted as the seas had become a dangerous place for an unarmed merchant ship. Prins Willem II was found by U-98 of the German Navy and sunk, via torpedo, 74-years ago today. It went down east of Cape Farewell, Greenland, and between 10 and 12 sailors were lost. The ship was carrying sugar from Halifax to London when it was found by the enemy and sent to the bottom of the Atlantic on April 8, 1941.

Another Prins Willem II came into the Great Lakes between 1955 and 1967.


Updates -  April 8

News Photo Gallery - Check back later today for updates
Lay-up list updated


Today in Great Lakes History -  April 8

08 April 1871, 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.

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 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, G.A. TOMLINSON required an estimated $235,000 to outfit her machinery for the upcoming 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 riverbank. 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 lock had the first ship.

1941: The newly-built PRINS WILLEM II first came to the Great Lakes in May 1939. There was a mutiny on board at Sandusky, Ohio, in June 1940, as the crew did not want to return to their now-occupied homeland. The ship was torpedoed off Cape Farewell, Greenland, on April 8, 1941, while travelling from Halifax to London. An estimated 10-12 members of the crew perished.

1942: The first NOVADOC was sailing as g) ARA when it hit a mine and sank off Borkum, Germany, while en route from Gothenburg, Sweden, to Rotterdam, Holland in 1942. The ship had been built as CANADIAN PATHFINDER and was listed as Hull 69 of the Collingwood shipyard. It had also sailed the Great Lakes as b) NORMAN M. PATERSON and c) NOVADOC (i) before being sold to British interests in 1927.

1982: The Canadian-owned QUEBEC came through the Seaway in 1969. It had been built in 1959 as ALICE BOWATER but never came inland under that name. It was sailing as d) BLUE SEA when there was an engine room explosion and fire on April 8, 1982, in the Mediterranean near the Kerkennah Islands in the Gulf of Gabes off Tunisia. The gutted hull was towed to Sfax, Tunisia, on April 12. It was sold for scrap and arrived at Bizerta, Tunisia, for dismantling on July 7, 1984.

2001: The CHERYL C., the fifth name for the ship, was carrying a cargo of steel when it sank on April 8, 2001. The vessel ran aground near Peniche, Portugal, north of Lisbon, due to a navigational error. The 1597 gross ton ship had been built in 1983 and came through the Seaway, under Barbados registry, for the first time on April 22, 1998, with clay for Ashtabula. It made its last inland voyage in November 1999.

Data from: Skip Gillham, 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.


Icebreakers working to free 10 ships caught in heavy ice, Kaye E. suffers damage

4/7 - Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. 12:30 p.m. update – The downbound Kaye E. Barker has sustained damage in ice and will offload all or some of its cargo into fleetmate Lee A. Tregurtha sometime Tuesday, according to Mark Gill, director of vessel traffic services for the U.S. Coast Guard at Sault Ste. Marie.

The Barker is expected to rendezvous with the Tregurtha in Waiska Bay, ice conditions permitting. After the transfer, the Tregurtha will head downbound to Indiana Harbor. The Barker will go to the Carbide Dock in the Soo for inspection. Damage to the Barker is in the forepeak, Gill said, and the vessel is in no danger.

Original report -  Ice coverage on eastern Lake Superior is proving difficult for the start to the shipping season, says the U.S. Coast Guard. As of late Monday morning there were 10 ships stuck in the Whitefish Point area, waiting to be escorted by icebreakers from the Canadian and U.S. coast guards.

Eight of the ships will continue further up Lake Superior, while two are planned to travel downbound and through the Soo Locks.

“We have had some difficulties and weather is not co-operating and much of the ice that’s packed into the eastern end of Lake Superior is making it very difficult to move east and west,” said Mark Gill, director of vessel traffic services for the US Coast Guard.

The Canadian Coast Guard Ship (CCGS) Pierre Radisson has been called to assist and will be arriving from Montreal late Tuesday or early Wednesday. It will join United States Coast Guard Cutter (USCGC) Mackinaw, USCGC Alder, USCGC Hollyhock and the CCGS Samuel Risley, which are already operating in the area.

“We should be able to increase some movement up there,” said Gill.

Gill likened Lake Superior to a bathtub, where Whitefish Bay would act as the drain where much of the loose ice flows. “The last couple of days we’ve had a strong westerly wind, which acts like tipping the bathtub, so we have a clog,” he said.

Although the ice is being stubborn, especially in eastern lake Superior, Gill said the conditions are not nearly the worst he has seen. The 2013-2014 ice boasted a four-foot plate thickness and stacks of 1-20 feet, which compares to two to two and a half-foot plate this season with six to eight-foot stacks.

“It’s problematic, but nowhere in comparison to what we were dealing with last year,” he said.

Aside from Whitefish Bay and parts of eastern Lake Erie, freighters are moving mostly unhindered though U.S. and Canadian waters this month, a relief to shipping companies that started the 2014 shipping season well behind normal schedules due to historic ice cover and brutal weather that plunged the Great Lakes into a lengthy deep freeze.

Although this winter was no picnic, a faster melt has allowed shipping to resume on a more normal schedule. Ports locked in ice until early May in 2014 have already begun accepting vessels. Ships began moving through the St. Lawrence Seaway and Welland Canal last week, and the Soo Locks the week prior.

The Lake Carriers Association said the ice-related shipping slowdown last year cost 4,000 jobs and about $705 million in economic losses in steelmaking, power generation and construction industries around the Great Lakes basin.

Although the pace of shipping traffic is quickening, Gill said only four vessels have transited the Soo Locks since opening March 25, said Gill. By comparison, it took two weeks to get the first ships through the locks in 2014.

"I think we're in a less critical economic state than we were at this time last year."

The Coast Guard asked shippers to delay initial voyages this season by a week, a request that most companies complied with, he said. "Industry's willingness to heed warnings and delay sailing has made a significant difference in our ability to move them now," he said. "We're grateful they were able to hold off."

Gill anticipated the Coast Guard will cease icebreaking by April 30.

BoatNerd, Soo Today and M Live


Port Reports -  April 7

St. Marys River
Whitefish Bay area ice continued to stall shipping on Monday, with a small fleet of U.S. and Canadian icebreakers lending assistance to several vessels that have been stuck in the ice. Lee A. Tregurtha appears to have turned about and is headed back to the Soo. In the lower river, Paul R. Tregurtha remains in the ice below Stribling Point, while the Tecumseh, Edwin H. Gott and Roger Blough are anchored near DeTour, awaiting permission to proceed upbound.

Green Bay, Wis.
Alpena left on Monday morning after discharging cement.

Goderich, Ont.
John B. Aird loaded salt Monday and departed.

Windsor, Ont.
The Canadian icebreaker Pierre Radisson docked at Dieppe Gardens Monday on her way up the lakes to help with icebreaking efforts.

Oswego, N.Y. – Ned Goebricher
On Monday the Stephen B. Roman became the first ship of the season, arriving with a load of cement.


Salties with lakes connections sold for scrap

4/7 - Marine News, the monthly journal of the World Ship Society, reports the following ships with Great Lakes connections going for scrap in the April 2015 issue.

Bale, a heavy-lift vessel, only put in 18 years of service before it arrived at Alang, India, on Dec. 26, 2014. Scrapping got underway the next day. This ship was built at Wolgast, Germany, in 1996 as a) Scan Polaris and came through the Seaway for the first time on April 25, 1997, carrying machinery to Detroit. It was back inland again in 1999 and was sailing under its eighth name when sold for scrap.

Clipper Concord had an even shorter career. This vessel was built at Shanghai, China, as CEC Crusader in 2000 and was upbound in the Seaway for the first time on May 19, 2001. On board were 15 locomotive rail cars for delivery to Thunder Bay. They had been excess from the “Chunnel Run” for British Rail. The vessel then loaded refined calcined magnesite from Dow Chemical at Ludington for overseas delivery. The ship became b) CEC Concord in 2005 and c) Clipper Concord in 2010.

Compiled by Rene Beauchamp, Barry Andersen and Skip Gillham


South Channel to open

4/7 - The Captain of the Port, Sault Ste. Marie, will open the waters between Cheboygan Michigan and Bois Blanc Island, known as South Channel, effective 6 a.m. April 9.


Passenger ships have long history on Great Lakes

4/7 - Port Huron, Mich. – While a new passenger ship cruising the Great Lakes makes news, passenger ships once were about as common on the lakes as passenger buses and freight haulers on freeways.

And they served much the same purpose.

“The only way to get Up North from Detroit was to take passenger ships,” said Roger LeLievre, a maritime historian and author of “Know Your Ships.”

Advances in transportation, including air travel and modern interstates, killed off floating palaces such as the Tashmoo and Owana that traveled between Detroit and Port Huron, he said.

Brian Martin, a local historian, said the steamers from the White Star Line could carry 2,500 passengers each — and two steamers would offload their passengers on the same day with people waiting to catch a train or another ship for points north

“The effect that 5,000 people had on Port Huron was immediate,” he said. “These people got off, they had to wait for a train to Chicago, they had to get a hotel, they had to get something to eat ... The effect of the White Star Line was beneficial to Port Huron.”

LeLievre said the Tashmoo was known as the White Flyer because of its speed and the Glass Hack because of its many windows. It sank at Amherstburg, Ontario, in 1936 after hitting a rock and was scrapped.

Some ships were able to hang on until the 1960s, LeLievre said.

“The North American and the South American, the Keewatin, those were pretty much the last of the U.S. and Canadian overnight passenger ships on the Great Lakes,” LeLievre said.

The Keewatin was a museum ship in Douglas in western Michigan from 1968 until 2012 when it was moved to Port McNicoll, Ontario. The North American sank in the Atlantic in 1967, and the South American was scrapped in 1992.

“Nowadays it’s pleasure,” LeLievre said. “Back in the old days, it was a good way to get from Point A to Point B.” It cost 25 cents to ride from Detroit to Port Huron, he said.

The latest cruise ship on the Great Lakes, the M.S. St. Laurent, with its staterooms ranging from $4,000 to nearly $8,000, is oceans away from the quarter crowd, but it does evoke an old-school feel — and LeLievre said he’s glad to see it.

“It will be nice to see her on the Great Lakes and to follow her around.” he said. “The Great Lakes are beautiful. What’s not to like about cruising on them?”

Port Huron Times Herald


“Spring Break Up” drawing winner announced

4/7 - Duluth, Minn. – The Lake Superior Marine Museum Association, in conjunction with the Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center, has announced that the winner of its annual Spring Break Up”drawing is Craig P. Nelson of Osceola, Wis. The winning name was drawn after the first Great Lakes Fleet/Key Lakes ship went under the Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge.

Nelson and a guest will take a round-trip cruise aboard the Great Lakes Fleet/Key Lakes, Inc. 1,000-foot ore carrier, the Edwin H. Gott later this summer.

LSMMA still conducts its “Cruise of a Lifetime” raffle. Tickets for the annual raffle will go on sale in April. The “Cruise of a Lifetime” drawing will be held during the 2015 Gales of November, LSMMA’s educational, fundraising and networking benefit Nov. 7. Contact LSMMA or visit their website for raffle ticket pricing and details.



Great Lakes ship raffle helps the United Way

4/7 - Port Huron, Mich. – Ever wanted to know what its like to be aboard one of the huge ships that sail the St. Clair River? Now’s your chance to find out. The United Way of St. Clair County is raffling off two, five-day cruises for two on a freighter, thanks to DTE Energy and Interlake Steamship Company.

Tickets are $10, with the winners drawn April 23 at the United Way’s annual meeting. Winners don’t need to be present. The winners will set sail between June and September 2016. This is the 11th year the United Way has raffled off a cruise aboard a freighter. Last year, the raffle raised $18,750.

Tammy Spronz, Interlake Steamship Company passenger coordinator, said there’s only a few ships outfitted for cruisers, including Interlake’s flagship, the 1,013-foot Paul R. Tregurtha, the 826-foot Lee A. Tregurtha, and the 767-foot Kaye E. Barker.

Find out more at

Port Huron Times Herald


Lookback #506 – Captain Leonidas ran aground off Chile on April 7, 1968, and is still there

The regular impact of the elements is slowly wearing down what is left of the Captain Leonidas. The ship stranded in the Messier Channel off Chile, South America, on April 7, 1968, and has been deteriorating ever since.

The vessel was traveling from Santos, Brazil, to Valparaiso, Chile, when it ran aground 47 years ago today. Salvage was not possible and dismantling the ship on location was not cost efficient. As a result the vessel was left at the mercy of the elements and these elements have not been kind.

As of last fall, the ship was almost entirely covered in rust. The stack has fallen forward, the pilothouse is a wreck and there appear to be holes in the hull, reportedly caused by target practice from the Chilean Navy.

This vessel was built at Bremerhaven, Germany, in 1937 and first served as the Norwegian freighter a) Molda. It became b) Molda County in 1959, c) Molda again in 1961 and d) Fana in 1963. Still under the flag of Norway, Fana came through the Seaway on three occasions in 1964 heading up the Welland Canal on each of May 2, July 12 and Sept. 20.

It was sold and re-registered in Panama as Captain Leonidas in 1966 and was back on the lakes that year up bound in the Welland Canal on each of July 3 and Sept. 16 for Astronuevo Cia Nav. S.A. These would be the last visits.

Eventually the elements will win but the ship remains recognizable on its southern perch of the past 47 years.

Skip Gillham


Today in Great Lakes History -  April 7

On April 7, 1997, LEE A. TREGURTHA suffered an 18-foot hull fracture in her port bow near the bowthruster 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 Russell 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.

1941: The PORTADOC had been requisitioned by the British Ministry of War Transport and was en route from Saint John, NB, to Sierra Leone with a cargo of coal when it was torpedoed by U-124 off the coast of Africa. The crew spent six days on the open sea before landing at French Guinea. They were taken prisoner by the Vichy French forces and the Chief Engineer died before there was a prisoner of war exchange. The vessel, part of the Paterson fleet, had also sailed on the Great Lakes as a) EUGENE C. ROBERTS and b) JAMES B. FOOTE.

1968: CAPTAIN LEONIDIS ran aground in the Messier Channel, Chile, while travelling from Santos, Brazil, to Valparaiso, Chile. The vessel stranded April 7, 1968, and became a total loss. It had first come to the Great Lakes as the Norwegian freighter d) FANA in 1964 and returned as e) CAPTAIN LEONIDIS in 1966. The hull remains aground and appears to have been used by the Chilean Navy for target practice.

1979: GEHEIMRAT SARTORI dated from 1951 and had been a pre-Seaway caller to the Great Lakes. It returned through the new waterway for three trips in 1959 and was sailing as c) SEA ROVER when it was lost on this date in 1979. The cargo shifted in heavy weather on the Mediterranean while the ship was en route from Civitavecchia, Italy, to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. It sank about eight miles off Punta Cornacchia.

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


Whitefish Point ice causing problems for laker convoy

4/6 - 9:30 a.m. update - Sunday ended pretty much as it began, with a small flotilla of upbound lakers stuck in the ice to the east of Whitefish Point. The vessels include Herbert C. Jackson, Lee A. Tregurtha, Edgar B. Speer, Cason J. Callaway, Burns Harbor, James R. Barker, Presque Isle and John G. Munson.

Late Sunday the USCG Mackinaw was headed to the area to offer assistance, while Katmai Bay was working to the north and Hollyhock was to the west of Point Louise. Philip R. Clarke and Kaye E. Barker, with the CCGS Samuel Risley and USCG Alder, were downbound just to the west of the Whitefish Point and Mesabi Miner and Algoma Olympic were off the Keweenaw Peninsula. Reports from the scene indicate the Kaye E. Barker may have suffered some ice damage.

In the lower river, Paul R. Tregurtha was having difficulty making the turn at Stribling Point. There appeared to be no icebreaker resources available for her, and she will spend the night in that location.


Lake levels in good shape heading into boating season

4/6 - Detroit, Mich. – Two years removed from some of the lowest water levels ever recorded, the Great Lakes have bounced back and are headed into another boating season in good health.

Each of the lakes ended March near or above their historical averages for this time of year. Those levels will likely hold for the next six months as Michigan residents head outdoors, according to projections from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

"Most folks I've talked to were quite pleased a year ago with conditions of the lakes," said Keith Kompoltowicz, the chief of watershed hydrology for the Army Corps. "With high levels again this year, if boating is your thing, I'd say you'll be happy."

At the end of March:
• Lake Superior was 7 inches above last year's level and 8 inches above its long term historical average. In September, forecasters predict it will be 4 inches above average.

• Lake Michigan was 21 inches above last year's levels and 7 inches above its long-term average. By September, the lake should remain an estimated 7 inches above average.

• Lake Huron was 21 inches above last year's levels and 7 inches above its long-term average. By September, the lake is expected to remain 7 inches above average.

• Lake St. Clair was 6 inches above last year's levels and 1 inch above its long-term average. By September, the lake should be an estimated 8 inches above the long-term average.

• Lake Erie was roughly at the same level as the previous year and 3 inches below the long-term average (partly due to ice restricting water flow along the St. Clair and Detroit rivers). By September, the level is projected to be 4 inches above the long-term average.

• Lake Ontario's levels are partially managed, and the lake finished March 11 inches below its long-term average. By September, the level should be near its long-term average.

The lake levels of the past two years are a drastic departure from the previous dozen. Low water levels plagued Michigan's harbors, forcing the state and many private operators into emergency dredging operations.

The loss of water also drastically reshaped shorelines and forced the shipping industry to reduce its payloads. But experts see smoother sailing for the spring and summer.

Detroit News


Port Reports -  April 6

Sturgeon Bay, Wis. - A rock that caused damage to a large freighter has been removed from the Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The rock was eight feet away from the channel wall when the Edgar B. Speers struck it after leaving Bay Shipbuilding in Sturgeon Bay. Operations and Maintenance Chief Bob Stanick says the mostly mud-covered rock was removed Thursday morning and the rest of the wall has been inspected. The Edgar B. Speers returned to Bay Shipbuilding for repairs just days after it left last week.

Detroit, Mich. – Ken Borg
Great Republic was upbound the Wyandotte Channel of the Detroit River off Bishop Park on Sunday after discharging a load of coal at Detroit Edison Trenton Channel power plant.

Lorain, Ohio – Phil Leon
Great Lakes Trader and tug Joyce L. VanEnkevort were inbound around 6 p.m. Sunday.

Toronto, Ont. – Jens Juhl
The Cypriot flagged handy sized bulker Tundra arrived with a cargo of sugar at Redpath Sunday morning. As the first ship of the season, the Tundra will host the ceremony where the ship's captain dons the century old beaver top hat.


Cruise ship revival sails past Blue Water Area

4/6 - Port Huron, Mich. - A new passenger ship will be cruising the Great Lakes this summer — and it won't be stopping in Port Huron or Sarnia. The M.S. St. Laurent's itinerary will carry its passengers past the oldest lighthouse on the Great Lakes at the Fort Gratiot Light Station, under the Blue Water Bridge and past the Point Edward Casino.

Tom Markwell, managing partner for sales and marketing with Haimark Lines, the company that owns the St. Laurent, said officials from Sarnia are trying to position the city as a port of call.

"They have already contacted me," Markwell said. "They were asking some very good questions about what makes you choose a port of call." He said he hasn't heard from anyone in Port Huron.

Jon W. Allan, director of Michigan's Office of the Great Lakes, said port cities that want cruise lines to stop need to convince those cruise lines to stop. "I think the big question is for Port Huron to go and talk to them ..." he said.

"They are going to be looking for interesting and market-driven opportunities for their customers and their passengers," Allan said. "We think Michigan has a lot to offer. ... Now it's up to our communities to adapt and adopt to the opportunities that are presented."

Dave Lorenz, a spokesman for Travel Michigan, said he frequently speaks with cruise lines, and they want to be wanted. "First we have to get them interested in the ports of call," he said. "Once we get them interested, then we work on the hospitality issues, what the communities need to do to welcome the ships.

"They want to get offered special packages at restaurants and shops and things," he said. "They love the fact that when they're in town, they get treated like the celebrities they are. It's not every day you get a cruise ship coming into town."

Markwell said Haimark Lines, which has a fleet of 10 ships, will make about 20 sailings this summer in the Great Lakes and the Northeast.

The St. Laurent was built in 2001 for Delta Queen Coastal Voyages and was named the Cape May Light. It was acquired by Haimark, which spent $3.5 million to refurbish the 210-passenger ship.

With 103 staterooms and two suites, the St. Laurent will operate between Montreal and Chicago, and Toronto and Chicago, visiting ports in Michigan including Sault Ste. Marie and Mackinac Island. It also will call at Windsor, and passengers will be able to take an excursion to The Henry Ford.

Markwell, who works out of Chicago, said the company isn't snubbing the Blue Water Area. "It comes down to more or less, what can be operated successfully, making sure we hit the highlights like Mackinac Island," he said.

While the company plans to change itineraries and look at different destinations from year to year, Markwell said "every year there will be changes and updates ... We wanted to focus on the known destinations we know to be tried and true."

He said the company's priority in its first year operating the St. Laurent on the inland seas is to make sure it visits all five Great Lakes. "We're covering vast distances here, and it's a new vessel for us and we want to make sure the itinerary will be operated flawlessly in our first season," he said.

About 80 percent of the passages in the St. Laurent's first season already are sold, Markwell said. Many of the people booking cruises, he said, are not familiar with the Great Lakes.

"They are very well-traveled — this is definitely not their first cruise," Markwell said. "But they typically get to the age where they say, 'We've seen so much, but now it's time to see something closer to home.'"

Bob Boughner, a veteran journalist and travel writer, wrote a column for the Sarnia Observer in March calling for an effort to make Sarnia a port of call for the St. Laurent. "There's no big effort underway," Boughner said. "But there should be."

He said attractions in Sarnia include the Point Edward Casino, Canatara Park and its petting zoo and the city's waterfront. Port Huron also would be a natural as a port of call for a cruise ship, he said.

"There's docking along the waterfront in Port Huron (at the Seaway Terminal)," Boughner said. "You would think it would be an ideal spot." He noted the Blue Water River Walk, which opened in June 2014 and which will include a fishing dock expected to be completed this year.

"There are all sorts of attractions in the community," he said.

Mike Bradley, Sarnia's mayor, said he has been working to attract cruise ships to the area since the 1990s. "There are some natural opportunities for Port Huron and Sarnia to market themselves," he said.

Both communities have deep water docking facilities, he said, and Port Huron was the home port in the early 2000s for a ship named the Columbus that catered to German tourists. The Columbus, now named the Hamburg, cruised the Great Lakes in 2014.

Bradley said he lives on the St. Clair River and, "I love seeing them go by, but I'd love to see them berthing here."

Sarnia is the largest city on Lake Huron, Bradley said, with a population around 72,000 people. "I think the possibilities are there," he said. "We just need to sell ourselves."

James Freed, Port Huron's city manager, said the city has restaurants and activities to offer cruise ship visitors, including the new Blue Water Convention Center, which will open later this month, and the CityFlats Hotel, with a planned opening early in 2016.

He said cruise ships "absolutely" should consider Port Huron as a port of call. Tourism is the lifeblood of our downtown during the summer months," he said. "People come from all over the world to see the lighthouse and the bridge."

Stephen Burnett, executive director of the Great Lakes Cruising Coalition in Kingston, Ontario, said in an email there are number of factors that go into convincing a ship to visit a port.

"The port needs to have attractions that are interesting to cruise visitors, and these can include historic assets, cultural tourism assets, agri-tourism assets, etc.," he wrote. "The port also needs to have somewhere for the ship to stop and this can be a mooring wall, a commercial dock or a cruise terminal if it is available. The town also needs to fit into the planner's itinerary and be compatible with the cruise theme."

Chris Conlin is president and owner of Conlin Travel, with offices in Ann Arbor, East Lansing, Grand Rapids and San Francisco. His company books cruises in the Great Lakes through a subsidiary, Great Lakes Cruise Company.

For 2015, Great Lakes Cruise Company will be offering three trips aboard the St. Laurent — July 5-14 from Montreal to Chicago, stopping at Sault Ste. Marie and Mackinac Island; July 14-23 from Chicago to Montreal; and Aug. 28-Sept. 6 from Chicago to Montreal.

The Great Lakes Cruise Company also books passage aboard three other ships: the Pearl Mist, the Grande Caribe and the Grande Mariner. Some of those ships begin or end their lake journeys at Midland, Ontario, in the Georgian Bay. Michigan stops include Manistee, Beaver Island, Holland, Mackinac Island, Wyandotte and the Soo.

"Port Huron, as I tell so many reporters or people who are looking at the Great Lakes, I view that as the gateway to the upper Great Lakes, which is what people come to see," he said. Like Markwell, Conlin said Port Huron will be looked at more closely as more ships and cruise lines consider the Great Lakes.

"As the market matures, as the industry matures and more ships come into the marketplace and see it's a viable itinerary ... that's when a Port Huron would pop out on the radar screen," he said. "Between Port Huron and Detroit, there are no better terminals that are better equipped to see ships off and on."

In the early 2000s, he said, his company had several cruises that started and finished in Port Huron. Passengers arrived at Metro Airport and took a bus north to Port Huron. "We at the time were chartering the ships and packaging them," Conlin said. "During the recession, we had to pull away from that."

Besides the Columbus, the company also chartered the 95-passenger Le Levant. Port Huron and the Big Red Marching Machine turned out at the Seaway Terminal in June 2002 to welcome the French ship, presenting the captain with a top hat.

"It's a great starting port for a cruise line," Conlin said.

Frank Frisk, at, remembers Port Huron's fling with the cruise industry. "The Seaway Terminal was rebuilt (by Acheson Ventures) for the specific purpose of handling cruise vessels," he said.

"It's entirely up to the cruise industry whether they want to bring them in or not," he said. "The cruise company has to accommodate the customers when they get to the dock as well — things to do, places to go."

Wallace Immen is editor of the Cruisington Times, based in Toronto. He's originally from the Detroit area and worked for the Free Press as a travel writer. "I've been covering cruises for about 30 years now, and have done the story several times now about how this is going to be the breakout year for Great Lakes cruising," he said.

"It seems this time it's going to be more viable than in the past because the economy is on the upswing again."

That's important — Great Lakes cruise ships don't have the space to pack in the customers as do the big Caribbean lines and, with a short season from May to October, cruise line operators have to find other places to run their ships. Haimark, for example, will take the St. Laurent south for the winter to tropical ports of call in Panama and Costa Rica.

Single person fares aboard the St. Laurent start at $4,199 up to $7,999 for the Great Lakes cruises.

Immen said he was aboard the St. Laurent — when it was named the Cape May Light — for its inaugural trip. The company that owned it, however, went bankrupt, and it had been laid up in Florida until it was bought by Haimark, he said. He said Haimark has a track record of bringing people into exotic locations not usually served by cruise ships.

"Perhaps they think the Great Lakes are the next exotic location," Immen said.

Ships that can get into the Great Lakes — and then out for the winter season — are built smaller to fit into the locks of the St. Lawrence Seaway. They also draw less water, and they are built so lifeboats and other equipment does not hang over the side where they could be damaged by concrete lock walls.

Immen said the economic downturn hurt Great Lakes cruising.

"Part of what happened ... after 2008, there wasn't much interest in new products here," he said. “... Even the ocean-going cruise lines stopped putting in new orders after 2008," he said. "They're just starting to make orders for new ships now."

He said another niche market, river cruises, is increasing with Viking River Cruises building 12 new ships annually — and that could be good news for the Great Lakes. Industry insiders, he said, "think there's a lot of pent-up demand for new itineraries especially."

Lorenz, with Travel Michigan, said he is encouraging cruise companies to look beyond the usual suspects such as Mackinac Island. "I have a continuing dialogue with them encouraging them to go to other places in Michigan, including the port of Detroit, which is a state of the art facility," he said.

He said Port Huron also is on the short list of possible ports of call.

"We want to introduce this ship, and others, to the various amenities and opportunities available in Michigan ports," he said.

The state has a pilot program this summer with the federal Department of Homeland Security allowing cruise ships passengers on the Great Lakes to pass through customs once — instead of every time they come from a Canadian port.

"This rule change will help tremendously," Lorenz said. "... I'm hoping Homeland Security will continue this temporary change and make it permanent."

Small towns like Port Huron, he said, can offer cruise ship passengers unique experiences. "Everybody's got something to offer," Lorenz said. "It's trying to figure out what packages will be enticing to their guests. I think the cruise business in the Great Lakes will only grow more accessible and more affordable," he said.

"I think the freshwater cruises into the Great Lakes and the experiences Michigan can offer will provide great benefits for everybody."

Port Huron Times Herald


Lookback #505 – Former Collingwood-built Corvette stranded as a total loss on April 6, 1972

After the hard-fought peace was won in 1945, there was an excess of naval ships. Some were placed in the reserve fleet, some were sold for scrap, some sent to foreign governments for military and peacekeeping service and others were rebuilt as cargo ships.

H.M.S. Comfrey was constructed at Collingwood as Hull 105 and then transferred to the U.S. Navy. The vessel was commissioned as U.S.S. Action on Nov. 22, 1942, departed the shipyard two days later. After some preparatory work at Boston, the ship began escorting convoys between New York and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. It later sailed on patrol duty between New York and Narragansett Bay before being decommissioned at the Charleston Navy Yard on Sept. 6, 1945.

Resold to Danish interests in 1947, the former navy ship was rebuilt as the 211 foot, 10 inch long cargo ship Arne Presthus. The small cargo carrier did not return to the Great Lakes but saw considerable service on saltwater for Johs Presthus.

It was sold to the Orri Navigation Co and renamed d) Star of Mariam in 1967 and became e) Star of Beirut in 1971 and f) Star of Riwiah in 1972.

The ship ran aground off the Ashrafi Lighthouse in the Gulf of Suez 43 years ago today and was listed as a total loss. The vessel was traveling in ballast between the Egyptian ports of Suez and Safaga.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  April 6

Weekly Website Updates
News Photo Gallery
Lay-up list 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 mizzenmast. 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.

1942: The CANADIAN FARMER was Hull 65 of the Collingwood shipyard and it was launched there on December 27, 1919. The vessel was sailing as c) SHIN KUANG when it was sunk by Japanese surface naval forces on the Bay of Bengal.

1949: FORT WILLDOC of the Paterson fleet and the JAMES E. McALPINE of the Brown Steamship Co. collided in Lake Superior, above Whitefish Point, on this date. Both ships were damaged and needed repairs.

1972: The freighter STAR OF REWIAH had been built at Collingwood as Hull 105 and launched as the corvette H.M.S. COMFREY on July 28, 1942. The ship was later converted to a cargo carrier and was sailing under this sixth name when it ran aground off the Ashrafi Lighthouse in the Gulf of Suez and declared a total loss on this date in 1972. It was traveling in ballast from Suez, Egypt, to Safaga, Egypt, at the time.

1978: The self-unloader TARANTAU was blown aground due to the wind and shifting ice pack in Lake Huron above Port Huron and had to be freed by the tug BARBARA ANN.

1979: A violent spring storm found LABRADOC (ii) on Lake Erie where the cargo shifted and the vessel took on a precarious list. All on board were removed fearing the ship would roll over and sink. But it survived and was towed to safety eventually undergoing repairs at Port Weller Dry Docks. The vessel left Great Lakes service in 1988 and operated on deep sea runs as b) FALCON CREST until scrapping at Gadani Beach, Pakistan, in 1994.

1992: An explosion and fire in the tunnel of HALIFAX occurred while the CSL ship was upbound in the St. Marys River. One sailor was killed and two more injured while the ship sustained internal damage. It went to Thunder Bay for repairs.

Data from: Skip Gillham, 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.


Challenger pilothouse may be part of marine museum expansion

4/5 - Toledo, Ohio – When it sailed its last voyage as a steamship in 2013, the St. Marys Challenger was the oldest vessel on the Great Lakes.

And now the pilothouse from that venerable vessel, which was converted to a barge between the 2013 and 2014 shipping seasons, has joined the collection at the Toledo museum and may become the focal point of a modest expansion project.

The museum piece arrived Friday aboard the Paul R. Tregurtha, the modern Queen of the Lakes — the lakes’ largest ship at 1,013 feet long.

The pilothouse, from which the officers of the St. Marys Challenger directed its operation, is planned to be part of the second floor of a 2,000-square-foot addition to the museum, said Christopher Gillcrist, president of the Great Lakes Historical Society, which operates the museum.

An elevator and other accommodations can be provided to make the pilothouse accessible to elderly and people with disabilities for whom access to the adjacent museum ship Col. James M. Schoonmaker is difficult, if not impossible, Mr. Gillcrist said. As part of the museum building, it would also be open year round, while the museum ship is closed during winter.

“We can’t make the Schoonmaker handicap-accessible – it’s never gonna happen,” he said. “But Challenger pilothouse accessibility doesn’t overburden the structure historically. It [the addition] also fills the need for a temporary exhibit hall, instead of using our community room for that purpose.”

In its final years, the Challenger was the last U.S.-flag freighter built before World War II still in service. By 2013, operating the Challenger as a self-propelled vessel was deemed no longer economical, and plans were made to convert it to a barge.

During barge conversion the following winter at Bay Shipbuilding in Sturgeon Bay, Wis., the ship’s pilothouse was saved and stored. After the Toledo museum was chosen to receive it, the pilothouse was loaded last month aboard the Tregurtha before it left Sturgeon Bay at the end of its winter lay-up. The pilothouse was placed on the Tregurtha’s foredeck for its voyage to Toledo, which included stops in Escanaba, Mich., for loading iron-ore pellets for delivery to the Lakefront Dock in Oregon and for unloading at the latter facility.

Interlake Steamship, which owns the Tregurtha as well as being a past owner of the Challenger, provided the transportation to Toledo for free.

“It’s an important part of our history, and what the Great Lakes have done for American history,” said Mark Barker, Interlake’s president and a member of the Great Lakes Historical Society’s board.

“Manufacturing has grown up around the Great Lakes for a reason: access to raw materials and efficient water transportation,” Mr. Barker said, noting Interlake celebrated its corporate centennial in 2013.

The Tregurtha and its historic cargo arrived Friday morning at the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority’s general-cargo dock on the Maumee River — itself a rare upriver appearance by a “Thousand Footer,” because Toledo river terminals’ traffic is typically handled either by smaller lakers or ocean-going ships.

“It seemed like the natural thing to do,” said Jason Lowery, vice president of corporate development for Midwest Terminals of Toledo, which donated its work Friday unloading the pilothouse from the Tregurtha and will also store it at no cost until the planned museum expansion is ready.

Mr. Gillcrist said the museum addition is expected to cost $600,000-$800,000, which the Great Lakes Historical Society plans to finance with a donation drive. City and port authority approvals will be needed for the project, which the society hopes to complete by the end of next year, he said.

Besides of its enhancement to the museum’s exhibits, Mr. Gillcrist said, the pilothouse will open up part of the museum’s interior to the river and boost its visibility to motorists passing nearby on the I-280 Veterans’ Glass City Skyway.

“It will be a real interesting addition, visually, to the building,” Mr. Gillcrist said.

Toledo Blade


Port Reports -  April 5

St. Marys River
Presque Isle, James R. Barker and John G. Munson were all upbound on Saturday. In the evening, Paul R. Tregurtha was at the upper end of Mud Lake. Above the locks, Lee A. Tregurtha, Edgar B. Speer and Burns Harbor were being assisted by the USCG Alder.

Toledo, Ohio – Denny Dushane
Great Republic departed its lay-up berth on Saturday morning and then shifted over to the CSX Coal Dock to become the first vessel to load there for the 2015-16 season. She is due back to load at CSX on Easter Sunday in the early morning and once again on Monday in the early morning. There is no activity at the Midwest Terminal Stone Dock, which is still closed for the season. Three vessels are due at the Torco Dock to unload iron ore: Herbert C. Jackson, due on Monday in the early morning, followed by the tug Victory & barge James L. Kuber, followed on Tuesday by the Hon. James L. Oberstar in the early morning. Vessels that remain in lay-up include Algorail, Sam Laud, H. Lee White, St. Clair, American Spirit, American Mariner, American Courage, Manistee, tug Ken Boothe Sr. and barge Lakes Contender, tug Olive L. Moore and barge Lewis J. Kuber. American Valor remains in long-term layup near the Lakefront Docks.

Welland Canal – Russ Milland
Algoma Enterprise, after wintering in the Port Weller dry dock, left on Saturday westbound, sporting a new coat of paint.

Toronto, Ont. – Denny Dushane
Algoma Navigator departed its winter berth on Saturday in the early morning, sailing for Goderich, Ont., to load salt. This leaves Pineglen and English River as the only vessels still in lay-up at Toronto.


Cold War-era sub at center of controversy in tiny Ontario town

4/5 - Port Burwell, Ont. – In the unlikeliest of tiny Ontario towns looms a giant Cold War ghost. After the Second World War, there was much debate about whether Canada still needed submarines, until the Cuban Missile Crisis settled the question for the government of the day.

Today, one of Canada’s Cold War-era subs is at the center of a different debate raging in the southwestern Ontario municipality of Bayham. The controversy center on the HMCS Ojibwa, a five-story, football-field-long vessel that became a tourist attraction in the little hamlet of Port Burwell.

Last month, the Royal Bank of Canada called on the municipality to pay the $6-million loan used to cover the cost of hauling the 52-year-old Ojibwa from Halifax to the north shore of Lake Erie in 2012. The defaulted loan sent shockwaves through quiet Elgin County.

“We sold the farm and bought a sub,” area resident Mary Fisher, who recently moved into the area, told the St. Thomas/Elgin Weekly News at an information session packed with 300 “grumbling townsfolk. My grandchildren are going to be paying for this, if they’re still in Bayham.”

A blogger named John uses wry humor to convey his dismay over the sub situation, calling it a “monstrosity of a project.”

“There are so many things wrong with all this. . . . Why is it Bayham gets stuck with paying the bill?”

“We will still find a way to pay them back,” responds Melissa Raven, director of communications for the Elgin Military Museum (which brought the sub to Port Burwell), after taking a small group on an hour-long tour of the Ojibwa on Good Friday. She doesn’t want to get into specifics about a rescue plan. “We’re open to all kinds of ideas, all kinds of concepts, all kinds of partnerships.”

She’s well aware of critics like blogger John. “We brought a submarine into a small community. There’s no guarantee everybody’s going to like it,” she says unapologetically.

“A lot of what we need to do is to let people know we’re here, to get more people coming,” says Raven, who has a background in marketing.

“We’re very determined. It’s a bunch (of people that) if you put a roadblock in front of us we’ll find a way around that, and if it leads to a mountain we’ll climb the mountain, and if that slips us down into an ocean, we’ll figure out a way to swim across it.”

Raven thinks municipal leaders over-estimated how many tourists would initially visit the vessel. The business plan suggested 100,000 visitors per season and so far, after a season-and-a-half, about 40,000 people have taken the tour.

“Because we’re really strapped for cash, we don’t have a marketing budget — not to sell us, but to let people know that we’re here. That’s been a challenge throughout,” she says.

“It’s a building process. People, I think, looked at the end of our five- to 10-year plan and thought that was what it would be like in year one, but every business needs to build. So we really only had one-and-a-part season before the plug got pulled on us.”

Raven is still hopeful the federal government may step in. The Ojibwa’s sister boat, the HMCS Onondaga, is in Rimouski, Que., and does quite well as a tourist attraction. “We’re kind of saying, ‘How come there isn’t federal support for the Ojibwa?’” she says.

“We’re doing everything we can to keep it open and we worked so hard to get her here.”

Toronto Star


Lookback #504 – The second Paterson ran aground April 5, 1999

The big bulk carrier Paterson had just begun the 1999 season when service got interrupted for over a month due to a grounding 16 years ago today. The vessel stranded in the Lake St. Francis area of the St. Lawrence and was stuck for two days.

Paterson was finally released on April 7 and proceeded to Les Mechins, Que., for repairs. It was May 13 before the ship could return to service for N.M. Paterson & Sons Ltd.

The laker was built at Collingwood and launched on April 18, 1985. It arrived at Thunder Bay on June 28 to load grain and departed two days later for the St. Lawrence. At 736 feet, 6 inches long by 75 feet, 10 ½ inches wide, Paterson loaded some record cargoes for grain, wheat, barley, canola, soybeans and iron ore. It was also known to carry bauxite to Thorold and sugar to Toronto during the late stages of the 1998 season.

Paterson was sold to Canada Steamship Lines in 2002 and still sails on their behalf as b) Pineglen (ii). It had been the final ship up bound in the Seaway in 2004 and 2007, opened the waterway on March 22, 2012 and was first through the Welland Canal on March 23, 2005. While iron ore and grain remain the prime cargoes, Pineglen did bring a load of pig iron to Marinette, Mich., in December 2007.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  April 5

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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 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.

1921: The Imperial Oil tanker IMPOCO (ii) had combined Great Lakes and coastal trading and had gone as far afield as the Mediterranean Sea and the Falkland Islands during World War One. The 8-year old vessel stranded at Blonde Rock, Cape Sable, Nova Scotia, on this date in 1921 while en route from Halifax to Saint John with a cargo of gasoline. The ship was lightered, salvaged on May 4, and beached at Charles Harbour and then at Halifax as not worth repair. The hull was apparently not scrapped until 1953.

1983: The small Finnish freighter KENITRA visited the Great Lakes in 1957. It was abandoned by her crew in the Red Sea while sailing as d) ALASKA on this date in 1983. It had developed a severe list while traveling from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, to Mersin, Turkey, and sank the same day.

1996: The Liberian freighter STEEL FLOWER ran aground in the St. Lawrence near Wellesley Island while upbound on this date in 1996 and was stuck for two days. The ship had also been a Seaway trader as a) FEDERAL RHINE (i) from 1978 to 1992, as STEEL FLOWER from 1994 to 1996 and as c) NARRAGANSETT from 1997 to 1999 before going to Alang, India, for scrap later in 1999.

1999: The PATERSON (ii) ran aground in Lake St. Francis and was stuck for two days. The ship went to Les Mechins, QC for repairs and returned to work on May 13. The vessel now sails for Canada Steamship Lines as b) PINEGLEN (ii).

1999: ALGONTARIO ran aground at Johnsons Point in the St. Mary's River while upbound with a load of cement from Clarkson to Duluth. The ship was released April 7 and, after unloading, was laid up at Thunder Bay until eventual repairs and a return to service on October 10, 2004. The vessel was towed to Aliaga, Turkey, for scrapping in 2011.

Data from: Skip Gilham, 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.


Grounded CWB Marquis freed

4/4 - Late Thursday a weather front swept through the Point Forte anchorage where the CWB Marquis was anchored for the night. This anchorage has mostly rock on the bottom, not very good holding ground. There was a lot of ice around the ship. When the wind hit the ice began to shift and the CWB Marquis, with anchors dragging, was shoved by the ice out of the anchorage. Three Groupe Ocean tugs, La Prairie, Ocean Georgie Bain, Ocean Ross Gaudreault, came to her aid and pulled her off her strand yesterday. The ice breaker CCGS Amundsen was nearby clearing a track to allow the tugs and the ship to get across the anchorage to the lock at Beauharnois where she spent the night.

Ron Beaupre


Port Reports -  April 4

Sarnia, Ont. – Barry Hiscocks
Capt. Henry Jackman left winter lay up on Friday.

Hamilton, Ont.
Algoma Transport departed winter lay up Friday at around 1 p.m. The tug Wilf Seymour and barge Alouette Spirit departed around 6:30 p.m.


Green Bay port likely to open earlier

4/2 - Green Bay, Wis. – The Port of Green Bay expects a more typical start to the 2015 shipping season, a year after brutal winter weather caused delays. Heavy ice and a long winter in 2014 delayed the start of the Green Bay season by about three weeks. This spring, it's a different story.

"This season is going to be a lot earlier than last year, thankfully," said Mark Walter, business development manager with the Brown County Port and Resource Recovery Department. "We haven't seen our first boat yet ... but from what I've heard from other ports and some of our sources of information, it's going to be a pretty busy season."

The port typically sees its first ship in early April.

Mark Gill, director of vessel traffic services with the U.S. Coast Guard in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., said Thursday conditions are favorable for ship traffic on Green Bay. He anticipates the first vessel to arrive in port later this week.

"We're still using private tugs to get around the middle part of Green Bay, but there are open-water tracks all the way to Green Bay," Gill said. "It's certainly nothing like what we were dealing with at this time last year."

Despite the late start to the 2014 season, it was still a strong year for the port with 2.3 million tons of cargo passing through the facility — a seven-year high.

"Last year was a great year considering how short the season was," Walter said. "With an early season this year, we expect things to be moving along pretty good."

Port officials said they may see a dip in coal shipments as the Georgia Pacific mill on Broadway brings a natural gas boiler into operation.

"We expect a pretty robust shipping season," Walter said. "Weather can play a big part in that, so we'll see."

He said water levels on Lake Michigan continue to increase, up almost three feet from January 2013. That means ships can carry more cargo per trip.

The Sault Ste. Marie Locks, the key piece of shipping infrastructure on the Great Lakes, opened March 25 and the St. Lawrence Seaway — connecting the Great Lakes with the Atlantic Ocean — opened Thursday.

The seaway handled 40 million tons of cargo last year. Officials hope to see a repeat in 2015.

Gill said ice in eastern Lake Superior and eastern Lake Erie may cause some delays in the short-term, but nothing like the delays of last spring.

"Last year, nothing was moving and it was frustrating. This year, we have things moving, so, busy is good," he said. "Mother Nature is cooperating and giving us some spring weather, where last year it was brutally cold through March and April and we didn't start getting rid of ice until the last week of April and first week of May."

Green Bay Press Gazette


Obituary: Ross M. Spencer

4/2 - Ross M. Spencer, a former chairman of the Manistee Harbor Commission, has died. He succumbed to pancreatic cancer March 26. At the time of his death, Mr. Spencer was vice chairman of the Manistee County Airport Board and had recently played a major role in expansion of air travel between Northwest Lower Michigan and Chicago. A life long recreational sailor and pilot, Mr. Spencer will be honored at a April 9 memorial service in Manistee.


Lookback #503 – Former Corinthiakos aground off Japan on April 4, 1969

The Liberty ship Corinthiakos visited the Great Lakes in 1960, 1961 and 1963 for a total of three trips though the Seaway. It stranded as a total loss 46 years ago today.

This was one of the Liberty ships designed as a tanker. It was launched by the Delta Shipbuilding Co. at New Orleans on Sept, 1, 1943, and completed the following month as a) William R. Pendleton. After seeing some war service, the ship was sold to private interests, within the United States, in 1948 and renamed b) Natico.

The 441-foot-long freighter was renamed d) Amalias after being converted to a bulk carrier and lengthened to 511 feet, 6 inches in 1955-1956 for service under Liberian registry.

It was sailing under the flag of Greece as f) Corinthiakos when it first came through the Seaway in 1960 and, after a final visit inland in 1963 it was resold and renamed g) Georgios P. in 1964.

Following a sale for scrap in 1968, the ship got a reprieve for Far East service as h) Pacstar. The vessel was traveling in ballast from Portland, OR to Kure, Japan, when it ran aground in a storm in Tokyo Bay on April 4, 1969. The bottom was opened up and the engine room flooded. The former lakes trader was beyond salvage and declared at total loss prior to being sold for scrap “as lies.”

Skip Gillham


Updates -  April 4

News Photo Gallery
Lay-up list updated


Today in Great Lakes History -  April 4

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 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.

1921: The Imperial Oil tanker IMPOCO (ii) had combined Great Lakes and coastal trading and had gone as far afield as the Mediterranean Sea and the Falkland Islands during World War One. The eight-year old vessel stranded at Blonde Rock, Cape Sable, Nova Scotia, on this date in 1921 while en route from Halifax to Saint John with a cargo of gasoline. The ship was lightered, salvaged on May 4, and beached at Charles Harbour and then at Halifax as not worth repair. The hull was apparently not scrapped until 1953.

1983: The small Finnish freighter KENITRA visited the Great Lakes in 1957. It was abandoned by her crew in the Red Sea while sailing as d) ALASKA on this date in 1983. It had developed a severe list while traveling from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, to Mersin, Turkey, and sank the same day.

1996: The Liberian freighter STEEL FLOWER ran aground in the St. Lawrence near Wellesley Island while upbound on this date in 1996 and was stuck for two days. The ship had also been a Seaway trader as a) FEDERAL RHINE (i) from 1978 to 1992, as STEEL FLOWER from 1994 to 1996 and as c) NARRAGANSETT from 1997 to 1999 before going to Alang, India, for scrap later in 1999.

1999: PATERSON (ii) ran aground in Lake St. Francis and was stuck for two days. The ship went to Les Mechins, QC, for repairs and returned to work on May 13. The vessel now sails for Canada Steamship Lines as b) PINEGLEN (ii).

Data from: Skip Gillham, 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.


CWB Marquis aground

4/3 - 5 p.m. update - The first ship of the season to travel up the St. Lawrence Seaway has run aground near Beauharnois, Que., about 20 miles southwest of Montreal.

A spokesman for the Transportation Safety Board of Canada says the CWB Marquis went aground after hitting a large floe of ice. The TSB says it is sending a team of investigators to the site, where the vessel is awaiting help from a tugboat.

The vessel is owned by CWB, the former Canadian Wheat Board and is on its first trip since delivery from the Chinese yard where it was built.

Its departure Thursday through the St. Lambert Lock marked the official opening of the Seaway’s 57th navigation season.

Transportation Safety Board of Canada


Mackinaw may be back at work today

4/3 - A small leak is creating a big problem for the Coast Guard cutter Mackinaw. Crews hope to have the Mackinaw fixed and sailing again by Friday morning.

The problem is a leaking azipod propulsion unit. "We discovered there's a small hole 10 feet below the waterline, causing water to come into the pod. A wet pod with an electric motor is not a good mix," said Rebecca Follmer, assistant operations officer, U.S. Coast Guard.

That tiny pinhole couldn't have come at a worse time, smack dab in the center of ice breaking operations.

"This is right in the middle of spring break and we have vessels coming in. It’s our business time of the year and were down a pod for now. We're drying it out, taking tests, making sure everything operational, then we should be ready to go," Follmer said.

9 & 10 News


Newly-built CWB Marquis opens Seaway season

4/3 - St. Lambert, Que. – The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SLSMC) marked the opening of the Seaway’s 57th navigation season Thursday with the transit of the newly-built CWB Marquis through the St. Lambert Lock.

The vessel is the first of two Equinox-class lakers ordered by Winnipeg-based grain marketer CWB that are being purpose-built for trade in the St. Lawrence Seaway. In 2014, over 12 million tonnes of grain moved through the Seaway, the highest volume recorded since the beginning of the 21st century.

“CWB’s recent investment in ships underlines the importance of the St. Lawrence Seaway to Canada’s agricultural industry. The Seaway serves as a vital transportation artery, enabling grain to be efficiently shipped both within North America and to more than 30 markets overseas” said Terence Bowles, President and CEO of the SLSMC.

“As agricultural technology boosts production and global demand for grain intensifies, there is great opportunity for the Seaway to be increasingly at the center of Canadian and U.S. efforts to broaden exports,” he added.

The CWB Marquis, which will be managed by Canadian shipping company Algoma Central Corporation, is part of a $4 billion fleet renewal program being undertaken by various Great Lakes / Seaway System carriers over a span of 10 years (2009-2018). In terms of infrastructure support, the SLSMC is in the midst of a five-year plan that commits almost $500 million to modernizing its locks and structures. Likewise, the U.S. Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation is spending $99 million to renew its asset base over a comparable timeframe.

Ian White, President and CEO of CWB, served as the keynote speaker at the opening. “The future success of our company is dependent on reliable, cost-effective transportation networks going east, as well as west. Our new vessels, along with our terminals in Thunder Bay and Trois-Rivières, will allow us to reach our customers in Europe, the Middle East and Africa quickly and, at the same time, get the best returns for farmers.”

In terms of the cargo volume outlook for 2015, Terence Bowles noted that he hopes to see a repeat of the strong results in 2014, when the Seaway recorded 40 million tonnes of cargo. “Tonnage forecasts are always difficult, especially with continued volatility in the global economy. The Seaway, as part of the larger Great Lakes / Seaway system, is a reliable transportation route with the capacity to move substantially more cargo to and from destinations throughout the world”, said Bowles.

St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation


Port Reports -  April 3

Duluth, Minn.
A freshly-painted Kaye E. Barker departed Thursday on her first trip of the season.

Marquette, Mich. – Rod Burdick
Mesabi Miner opened the Upper Harbor Thursday afternoon for the 2015-2016 shipping season carrying a cargo of western coal from Superior. She also opened the Upper Harbor in 2014. Also on Thursday, Stewart J. Cort diverted to Marquette due to a crewmember that needed to be taken to the hospital.

St. Marys River – Pat Clark
Roger Blough and Edwin H. Gott were back downbound on Thursday, making it the first time in recent memory that the season’s first up and downbound boats were the same. Other vessels Thursday included the upbound Herbert C. Jackson, Lee A. Tregurtha and Edgar B. Speer. The Tregurtha went to anchor in Mud Lake with some type of mechanical issue. Mackinaw remained tied up at the West Pier, although Soo Traffic indicated it was supposed to do track maintenance in Whitefish Bay.

Sturgeon Bay, Wis. – Daniel Lindner, Jim Conlon, Mark Dillenburg
James R. Barker and Cason J. Callaway departed Sturgeon Bay on Thursday to begin their 2015 seasons. The Barker, headed for Duluth, Minn., posted a destination of "Free at Last." The Callaway is destined for Two Harbors, Minn. for her first load. The Hon. James L. Oberstar has been moved out of her winter berth to the outside of the piers. Bayship and the ships crew have been testing her newly-installed exhaust scrubbing system for the last few days. Meanwhile, Corps of Engineers tugs and a crane barge returned to Kewaunee, Wis., after finding and removing large rock from Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal this week.

Erie, Pa. – Jeff Benson
Early Thursday afternoon the Presque Isle was moving into Presque Isle bay to turn around and start her season.


Divers find puncture in coast guard icebreaker Ann Harvey

4/3 - St. John’s, N.L. – Divers who examined an icebreaker that struck a rocky shoal off Newfoundland and began taking on water found a 20 centimetre-wide puncture in its hull, the coast guard said Thursday.

There were plans to use a remote operated vehicle for a closer look at the Ann Harvey to prepare for temporary repairs, said spokeswoman Jan Woodford.

Capt. Jim Chmiel said the light icebreaker was anchored in a sheltered harbor off Newfoundland's southwest coast near Burgeo after being towed early Thursday by the coast guard ship Louis S. St-Laurent. He said pumps were working to remove water from the propulsion motor room and the after-sewage compartment that had flooded.

Two cadets were taken off the icebreaker late Wednesday, but the remaining 26 crewmembers stayed on board. There were no injuries reported.

Chmiel said it's not yet clear why the ship struck the shoal, but an investigation will begin once repairs are done and the ship is towed back to St. John's.

The Ann Harvey is a light icebreaker built in Halifax in 1987. The diesel-electric ship can carry 47 people. Its other duties include tending buoys, search and rescue missions, and fisheries enforcement. The ship was moving navigation buoys when it hit bottom but it was not considered in danger of sinking.

Its removal from service during one of the worst ice seasons in decades is not expected to affect passenger ferries "given existing ice conditions," Woodford said. "There may be some delays with our harbor breakout schedule," she said of how icebreakers are used to help clear ports where commercial services aren't available.

Otherwise, the coast guard will move light icebreakers throughout the region as required, Woodford said.

Conditions have improved in the last couple of weeks since a Marine Atlantic ferry was stuck for more than two days in thick pack ice off Cape Breton. The MV Blue Puttees was about 35 kilometres from port in North Sydney with 40 passengers and commercial freight onboard.

Marine Atlantic spokesman Darrell Mercer said it's never a good time for the coast guard to lose even a lighter icebreaker.

"It just adds extra challenges to their decision-making process of where they allocate resources at any particular time," he said in an interview. "There's a lot of ice that's still in the Cabot Strait area. While wind conditions over the past number of days have been favorable, the forecast of course can change at a moment's notice. We'll continue to watch those and keep our fingers crossed that maybe Mother Nature's finally going to give us a break."

Randy Edmunds, the provincial Liberal critic for Labrador affairs, has repeatedly raised concerns about inadequate coast guard services that leave passengers stranded and store shelves empty.

"It's unfortunate to lose an icebreaker in a situation where we were pressed for icebreakers to start with," he said in an interview. "We've come to depend on the ferries for passenger service as well as freight delivery. And once those vessels can't get there, everyone is compromised."

CTV News


Great Lakes ice coverage causes minor shipping delays

4/3 - For the second spring in a row, the amount of ice on the Great Lakes is higher than normal, according to environmental researchers.

But the commercial fishing and shipping season has been only slightly delayed, and higher lake levels could be beneficial for recreational boaters.

According to data from the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory (GLERL) of the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration in the U.S., lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie and Ontario collectively had 57.6 per cent ice coverage on March 25.

While the ice coverage is less than the 73.5 per cent it was this time last year, it's still well above average, said George Leshkevich, a scientist with GLERL in Ann Arbor, Mich. The normal amount of ice coverage for this time of year is 19 per cent, according to Denis Dubé, senior ice forecaster with Canadian Ice Services, a government agency.

Heavy ice coverage that stays on the Great Lakes into spring can make lake travel difficult, if not impossible, and can postpone the delivery of cargo such as grain, coal and manufactured goods.

While the ice cover has stayed longer than usual, it's starting to break up, which is a good sign for ports on the Great Lakes. The St. Lawrence Seaway opened Thursday, with the CWB Marquis being the first ship to leave the Port of Montreal.

Guy Jarvis, harbormaster at the Thunder Bay Port Authority, the end point for many Great Lakes ships, said that while transport has been affected by the ice cover, "delaying systems by a week isn't a huge hurdle."

Jarvis admits that the ice coverage has created "extreme challenges," but said the port learned from last year, and brought in icebreakers earlier. "Experience makes a big difference," he said.

The icebreaker CCGS Samuel Risley arrived April 2 to open the entrances to the Thunder Bay harbor, according to Carol Launderville of the Canadian Coast Guard. The Welland Canal, which connects Lake Ontario and Lake Erie, opened Thursday to allow ship transit.

Jarvis expects the first vessels from Lake Ontario to arrive in Thunder Bay at the end of next week, although it depends on how well the ice breaks up in Lake Erie.

According to GLERL data on the Great Lakes for March 25, Lake Erie had the most ice coverage, at 87.8 per cent, while Lake Ontario had the least, at 24.5 per cent.



National Museum of the Great Lakes features “Know Your Ships” author

4/3 - Toledo, Ohio – The National Museum of the Great Lakes has announced the first of three events in its Spring Lecture Series. On Wednesday, April 8 at 7 p.m., Roger LeLievre, author of “Know Your Ships,” a popular resource for ship watchers across the Great Lakes, will present a program titled “Know Your Ships’ – Covering the Waterfront” in the Community Room at the National Museum of the Great Lakes.

His illustrated program will review the history of “Know Your Ships,” offering a behind-the-scenes look at how the book is put together and distributed to thousands of customers on both sides of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway.

A question/answer session will follow and 2015 books will be on hand to sell and sign.

Reservations are now being taken. RSVPs are requested since the room has limited seating. As part of each program, the exhibit gallery will be open from 10 am-8 pm that day with the program starting at 7 p.m. LeLievre’s program is included in museum admission fee. Members are free. Please RSVP to 419-214-5000 ext 200 or

National Museum of the Great Lakes


Plant breeding should boost grain crops, test transportation networks

4/3 - St. Lambert, Que. – The ability of Canada’s transportation network to move Western Canadian grain will likely be tested again in the future as higher-yielding crops continue to add volume to the system, according to the head of the Canadian Wheat Board.

“I think we could see the grain production in Western Canada be on a good, steady growth path and that means that we’re going to have to find the logistical means to get that crop from the Prairies to customers,” Ian White said before participating in Thursday’s opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway.

Western farmers have grown large grain crops in the past few years, especially in the record 2013 season when a bumper crop later prompted complaints about the shipping performance of Canada’s two major railways and resulted in intervention last year by Ottawa.

Transport Minister Lisa Raitt and Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz announced Saturday that the government wouldn’t extend the unprecedented step taken a year ago to impose minimum grain volumes, adding that grain now is moving adequately through the system and the new grain crop is of average size.

Although the grain shipping system now is back to normal, White said the move “focused everybody’s attention” on the need to ensure the supply chain functions well as pressures grow to deliver more grain for export.

Canadian National Railway and Canadian Pacific Railway have been critical of the federal government’s decision to impose minimum shipment volumes. They moved more than 50 million tonnes of grain in 2014, exceeding the minimum volume requirement by 5.5 million tonnes.

The wheat board, which is in the process of developing a privatization plan to be implemented in the next two years, is investing up to $200 million to buy new Great Lake ships and grain-handling terminals.

The Chinese-built CWB Marquis is making its maiden voyage and became the first vessel to pass through the seaway in 2015. A second Equinox-class vessel, CWB Strongfield, costing about $30 million, will arrive later this year, joining other new ships being added by several companies as part of an overhaul of the Great Lakes fleet.

Terrence Bowles, chief executive of St. Lawrence Seaway Management, said he expects the waterway to benefit from an improving U.S. economy and recovering Canadian manufacturing sector.

Increased automobile manufacturing and construction activity should accelerate demand for steel, concrete and aggregate. And a cold winter should also mean another good year for restocking road salt inventories, but shipments of iron ore continue to suffer from rock-bottom prices, he said.

The seaway expects to handle 40 million tonnes of total cargo in 2015, the same as in 2014, but could easily handle 50 per cent more volume, he said, adding that efforts to accelerate grain shipments could help.

“Demand is only going up in the world so we think that’s a very positive development and good for the seaway for sure.”

Heavy ice in the Great Lakes is causing the latest seaway opening since 1997. However, Bowles doesn’t expect the same problems that caused weeks of shipping delays early last year. The late start to the season shouldn’t affect overall tonnage for the year, added Seaway marketing director Bruce Hodgson.

“We’re going to lose a bit of time at the opening but it’s more than likely that we’ll make it up as the season goes on,” he said.

However, Stephen Brooks, president of the Chamber of Marine Commerce, said ship owners and industrial customers are concerned by delays in parts of the Great Lakes due to ice conditions. “The harsh winters of the last two years have highlighted serious systemic flaws,” Brooks said.

“Instead of a system driven by industry demand, timely transportation of North America’s valuable commodities is held back by a limited supply of icebreakers that are stretched too thin across too large an area.”

Montreal Gazette


Notice to Shipping

4/3 - Montreal - Lake Ontario Notice to Shipping #6 has been issued. Read it here:


Lookback #502 – Cape Breton Miner collided with Danish salty on April 3, 1965

4/3 - While the Cape Breton Miner was built to carry Nova Scotia coal to the Great Lakes for Ontario Hydro, the ship spent many winters in deep-sea service. The 18,809-gross ton self-unloader was built by Port Weller Dry Docks of St. Catharines and completed in 1964.

Cape Breton Miner was trading overseas 50 years ago today when it was in a collision with the Danish freighter Chilean Reefer off Flushing, Holland. The accident was due to poor visibility from fog and almost cut the second ship in two. However, the damage was repaired and the latter vessel lasted many more years.

The Canadian ship received only minor damage and continued to combine freshwater and saltwater trading. It was renamed b) Conveyor while on charter in 1969 but reverted to c) Cape Breton Miner when it moved back to Upper Lakes Shipping in 1972.

Beginning in 1981, the ship began hauling grain from Houston, Texas, and New Orleans, La., to Tampico, Mexico. This service continued after it was sold and renamed Mazahua in 1983.

The vessel was sold to Taiwanese shipbreakers and it crossed the Pacific in early 1987. It arrived at Kaohsiung, under her own power, on May 27, 1987, and was broken up in a matter of weeks.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  April 3

News Photo Gallery


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 went overseas for scrap in 2012 as b.) GORDON C. LEITCH (ii).

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 pilothouse.

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.

1942: The second TABORFJELL to visit the Great Lakes for the Fjell Line was torpedoed and sunk in the Atlantic east of New Jersey on this date by U-576. The vessel was en route from Matanzas, Cuba, to New York and Montreal with sugar. The three survivors waited for 20 hours before being rescued. Another 17 crewmates perished. The 1339 gross ton vessel first came inland shortly after being delivered in August 1938.

1975: The self-unloader J.W. McGIFFIN of Canada Steamship Lines was blown aground in the Welland Canal near Thorold. Two holes were punched in the hull and they were repaired at Port Weller Dry Docks. The ship was rebuilt as CSL NIAGARA in 1999.

Data from: Skip GIllham, 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.


Mackinaw damages being assessed; ice situation varies depending on location

4/2 - Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. – The icebreaking season for U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker Mackinaw may be over. The vessel has suffered unexplained water leakage in her port azipod, with the situation currently being assessed by representatives from the azipod’s manufacturer, the Swiss firm ABB.

“The Mackinaw’s future for the ice season is unclear at this point,” confirmed Mark S. Gill, director of traffic services for the U.S. Coast Guard in Sault Ste. Marie, on Wednesday.

The damage was sustained last Friday while the Mackinaw was working with vessels in Whitefish Bay. She was able to make it back to Sault Ste. Marie, where she has been tied at the West Pier since Saturday.

“They are currently in the midst of an assessment to determine what the long-term prognosis is. The motor on the pod is not damaged, but there is water intrusion, which may mean a seal leak or maybe something with the impeller,” Gill speculated.

“I don’t know what the long-term fix is – the drydock seems to be in her future,” he added.

Until the results of the mechanical assessments are in, the question of further service during this year’s ice-season remains up in the air. The Mackinaw was able to make it to the Soo on her own power and seemed to be fully maneuverable, Gill added, although operating on one pod carries some risk.

He said there’s also a chance the Mackinaw may be sent to her Cheboygan, Mich., home port to work aids to navigation, then go to drydock in May or June.

“It’s definitely not an in-water repair, it’s something they will have to lift the boat to get to. But if they do it sooner or postpone it, that’s an engineering question,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Samuel Risley has taken over the Mackinaw’s duties for the time being, with the USCG Alder also working above the locks.

As far as ice conditions go, Gill said eastern Lake Superior is the main trouble spot, from the locks up to about 15 miles west of Whitefish, with 24-30 inch plate ice and stacked ice at the outer edges at the 4-5 foot range.

“That’s what’s been giving us trouble last week into this week,” Gill said. “We’ve got a southeast wind today and tomorrow that’s going to blow fairly strong and that should allow us to move some vessel traffic.

“I see us doing one-way escorts in eastern Superior for the next week or so. Whitefish Bay we’ve got two-way tracks. The lower river is in great shape – I don’t expect any delays up or down through the locks,” said Gill.

“The Seaway opens today, they’ve got their own problems. The eastern area is a big hot mess,” Gill added. The Canadian Coast Guard cutter Pierre Radisson will be working in that area. staff report


St. Lawrence Seaway set to reopen today

4/2 - Montreal, QC – All hands are on deck as the St. Lawrence Seaway’s 57th navigation season sets sail today.

CWB President and CEO Ian White will be on hand for the unveiling of the CWB Marquis, the first of two environmentally advanced Canadian Great Lakes bulk carriers to trade in the region. The ceremony takes place 11 a.m. today at St. Lambert Lock.

After being the first upbound passage of the season, CWB Marquis has an ETA of Hamilton on April 4 to unload its maiden voyage cargo of iron ore, loaded after China delivery voyage.

White’s speech will cover ground on CWB’s future and investments in the Seaway system. He will be joined by Terence Bowles, CEO of the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation, to address the 2015 shipping season.

Also speaking will be Ken Lerner, Manager of Lafarge’s Eastern Canadian operations and Betty Sutton, Administrator of the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation in the United States.

For more information, visit


Top hat recipient set for Welland Canal

4/2 - The Sea Eagle II tug and the St. Marys Cement II barge will be recognized Thursday morning as the first vessel of the season to pass through the Welland Canal.

Capt. Vladimir Ignatov of Fettes Shipping will receive the ceremonial top hat during a ceremony in St. Catharines, Ont. Fettes, headquartered in Burlington, Ont., operates the vessel for the Toronto-based owner, St. Marys Cement.

The opening of the navigation season was delayed from March 27 due to weather conditions. The last time the St. Lawrence Seaway opened this late was 1997, also on April 2.


Icebreaking operations in full swing

4/2 - With the official opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway April 2nd the Canadian Coast Guard continues to ensure marine traffic can move safely through or around ice-covered waters.

The Canadian Coast Guard Ship Samuel Risley is escorting ships though very challenging ice conditions on Lake Superior. The attached photos of the Samuel Risley were taken April 1st during a Canadian Coast Guard ice reconnaissance mission over Whitefish Bay, where the Risley was escorting two ships. So far this year, CCGS Griffon and CCGS Samuel Risley have completed over 180 escorts through the ice for commercial ships between Lake Erie and Lake Superior. That number is about to go up, significantly, with the official opening of the Seaway tomorrow and with the Soo Locks now open.

The Canadian Coast Guard Ship Pierre Radisson, from Quebec City, has transited through the Welland Canal and is now icebreaking on Lake Erie. The icebreaker CCGS Griffon is now on the Welland Canal at Port Colborne, to assist vessels and maintain aids to navigation along this major marine transportation corridor.

The Canadian Coast Guards icebreaking crews continue to work tirelessly to open shipping lanes on the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway. A number of large winter storms in February, accompanied by strong winds and cold temperatures contributed to the rapid development of thick ice. In fact on southern Lake Erie extreme ice conditions prevented access to some ports, forcing icebreakers and commercial vessels to change sail plans.

CCGS Martha L. Black broke out harbours at Picton and Bath on Lake Ontario, is now working in the Seaway, and will be deployed from Quebec to the Great Lakes in the days to come.

Canadian Coast Guard


Port Reports -  April 2

Stoneport, Mich. – Denny Dushane
The tug Joseph H. Thompson Jr. and barge Joseph H. Thompson loaded on Tuesday and were expected to depart on Wednesday in the early morning. Expected to arrive on Wednesday to load will be the tug Joyce L. Van Enkevort and barge Great Lakes Trader in the early evening. No vessels are scheduled to load from Thursday through Easter Sunday. Rounding out the schedule will be the tug Defiance and barge Ashtabula, arriving on Monday, April 6 in the late afternoon to load.

Sturgeon Bay, Wis. – Daniel Lindner
After receiving repairs to ice damage and a possible incident in the Sturgeon Bay ship canal, Edgar B. Speer departed Sturgeon Bay on Wednesday afternoon with a destination of Two Harbors. Also, the tug Rebecca Lynn, which had spent the winter at Sturgeon Bay, arrived on Wednesday. She had departed two days earlier.

Milwaukee, Wis. – Denny Dushane
The 1,000-footer Burns Harbor departed its lay-up berth on Wednesday and headed to Superior, Wis., and the BNSF #5 Ore Dock for their first load of the 2015 shipping season. This now leaves just one vessel in lay-up – the tug G.L. Ostrander and barge Integrity.

Sarnia, Ont. – Barry Hiscocks
Robert S. Pierson and the Peter R. Creswell both departed winter lay up in Sarnia Wednesday.

Detroit, Mich. – Denny Dushane
Both Lee A. Tregurtha and Herbert C. Jackson departed their lay-up berths at Nicholson's Ecorse Dock in Detroit on Wednesday.

Toledo, Ohio – Denny Dushane
The CSX Coal Dock is scheduled to open on Thursday at 7 a.m., and the first vessel to load there will be the Great Republic on Friday morning. They are due back at CSX to load again on Saturday in the early evening and again on Easter Sunday in the late evening. Two vessels are due at the Torco Dock with iron ore cargoes – the 1,000-footer Paul R. Tregurtha making a rare visit is due there on Friday at noon and the tug Victory and barge James L. Kuber are due on Saturday in the early morning. Of note, the Tregurtha is carrying the pilothouse of the one-time former cement carrier St. Marys Challenger, built in 1906 and converted to a barge in 2014. The pilothouse of the St. Marys Challenger will be removed and taken to the National Museum of the Great Lakes in Toledo and used for a new exhibit. The Midwest Terminal Stone Dock in Toledo remains closed with no activity scheduled thus far. There have been no new recent vessel fit-outs since the last report a few days ago.


Canadian Coast Guard’s Ann Harvey strikes bottom off Newfoundland

4/2 - Two non-essential crew members and two cadets were evacuated from the stranded Canadian Coast Guard vessel Ann Harvey, which struck bottom near Burgeo Wednesday with other crew members remaining onboard.

The vessel was five nautical miles southwest of Burgeo doing routine work on buoys when it ran aground, the coast guard said.

"She steamed away from the area but because where the damage occurred it flooded the propulsion motor room," Jim Chmiel, superintendent of regional operations centre, Atlantic region, told CBC News.

Chmiel said crew closed watertight doors, confining the area were water leaked in the ship. Twenty-six crew and two cadets were onboard at the time. All are safe onboard the ship, the coast guard said.

The CCGC W.G. George, based in Burgeo, will remove two non-essential personnel and two cadets from the ship. The rest of the crew will stay on for now. The Canadian Coast Guard is assessing the situation hourly.

A coast guard helicopter and the CCGS Louis S. St.-Laurent, a heavy icebreaker, are heading to the vessel, with the help of the Joint Rescue Centre in Halifax. The icebreaker should reach the stranded ship around midnight to tow it to safe haven, and will stay there until the CCGS Telost arrives Thursday.

The coast guard said the weather in the area is favorable.



Seaway salties renamed

4/2 - Four saltwater vessels have been renamed, each having made at least one visit to the Great Lakes/Seaway system. Aachen, which made its first and only visit in 2007, is now the Clara of Antigua/Barbuda registry. Amanda, which first came inland in 2005 and last visited in 2007, is now the Mia of Antigua/Barbuda registry. The Uta, which made its one and only visit in 2007, is now the Marmakira of Antigua/Barbuda registry. Winona, which first came inland in 2005 and last visited in 2008, is now the Lucina of Antigua/Barbuda registry.

Denny Dushane


Lookback #501 – Former W.J. Crosby lost by enemy action on April 2, 1942

The World War 1 laker W.J. Crosby was built at Ashtabula, Ohio, and completed in 1919 as Crabtree. The vessel left the Great Lakes for service under the United States Shipping Board. It was part of the reserve fleet when sold for a return to the Great Lakes in 1922.

Renamed b) W.J. Crosby, the ship worked in the pulpwood and coal trades and often traded between the Canadian Lakehead, Nipigon and Port Huron. Capt. George Hindman owned the ship between 1931 and 1935.

The 261-foot-long vessel was sold for East Coast coal service in 1935 and renamed c) David H. Atwater. The ship spent the rest of its career on saltwater.

It was 73 years ago today that the ship was lost by gunfire from U-552 about 10 miles off the coast of Virginia. The steamer was loaded with 3900 tons of coal and on a voyage from Norfolk, VA to Fall River, MA. The crew was able to escape to the life boats only to be machine gunned by the enemy. The wireless operator remained on his post and went down with the ship. There were only three survivors.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  April 1

News Photo Gallery


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, 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.

LEON FALK JR. was launched April 2, 1945, as a.) WINTER HILL, a T2-SE-Al, World War II, a single-screw fuel tanker for U.S. Maritime Commission.

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.).

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.

WHEAT KING was lengthened by an addition of a 172 foot 6 inch mid-section (Hull #61) and received a 1,000 h.p. bowthruster. 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.

1976: WHEAT KING was refloated at Port Weller Dry Docks. It had arrived on December 12, 1975, and was lengthened to 730 feet over the winter. The ship would only sail six years with the new dimensions and was retired at the end of the 1981 season.

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


U.S. Steel to idle some production at Minntac, affecting hundreds of workers

4/1 - Duluth, Minn. – The string of bad economic news on the Iron Range compounded Tuesday when U.S. Steel announced that it will dramatically slow production at its Minntac taconite facility in Mountain Iron starting June 1.

Local union officials said the move will put 700 Steelworkers off the job, nearly half of the nearly 1,500 people who work at Minnesota’s largest taconite mine and processing plant.

The Pittsburgh-based steel giant said the move was forced by an oversupply of iron ore due to continued low demand for its American-made steel — a problem made critical in recent weeks by the ongoing flood of foreign steel made with cheap foreign iron ore.

“Global influences in the market, including a high level of imports, unfairly traded products and reduced steel prices, continue to have an impact,” the company said in a brief statement Tuesday.

State Rep. Jason Metsa, DFL-Virginia, said he’s been told that three of the plant’s five production lines will be shut down in an effort to reduce a backlog of 3.2 million tons of taconite. Union officials said they had not yet been told which employees will be laid off.

The move comes less than three weeks weeks after U.S. Steel said it would shut down production at its Keetac facility in Keewatin starting in May, putting 412 Steelworkers off the job. The Minnesota cuts join a series of layoffs — now estimated at more than 4,000 workers — at U.S. Steel facilities across the country.

In addition to Minntac and Keetac, Magnetation earlier this year announced it will idle its Plant 1 in Keewatin because of decreased demand and the continued depressed price for iron ore globally.

“The problem is, even with Keetac shutting down, domestic iron ore is still piling up on the ground because there's still too many companies in the U.S. buying foreign steel that’s being dumped in the U.S. illegally,” Metsa said. “We have companies in the U.S. buying steel. But they aren’t buying steel that’s made with Minnesota iron ore.”

Metsa and others on Tuesday expressed frustration over the lack of progress at slowing the flood of foreign steel.

Minnesota lawmakers in Washington met with White House officials last week and secured a promise that the Obama administration would help solve the steel trade problem, But it’s not clear how, or when, those efforts might advance. Minnesota lawmakers want the U.S. government to take faster action against steel that’s dumped below cost on U.S. shores in violation of international trade laws.

“Right now there’s just no way to enforce it, and it’s killing us on the Iron Range,” Metsa said.

Jon Malek, president of United Steelworkers Local 1938 that represents Minntac workers, said his office has been in contact with the governor’s office on unemployment benefits and accessing MNsure for workers who may lose insurance coverage. In a notice to union members, Malek said Local 1938 has “not been given any details on who is getting laid off, manning levels in each department, or if they will keep stripping in the mine.”

“The magnitude of this first round of layoffs came as quite a blow and the logistics of this will be quite a lot to deal with,” Malek added.

The Minntac slowdown “is not only devastating to the laid-off employees and their families, but also to the economic well-being of the entire region,” said U.S. Sen Al Franken, D-Minn., in a statement. “It’s another sign that we must continue our fight to level the playing field for our steel and taconite producers by ending the unfair dumping of foreign steel that is pushing down ore prices, cutting demand for American steel, and taking jobs away from Minnesota.”

State officials already are working to make sure that U.S. Steel employees who are laid off will have access to full state unemployment benefits, which could amount to more than $650 per week for workers at the top pay scales, Metsa said. The state unemployment insurance fund is fully stocked, he noted, but no one knows how long the layoffs will last.

Metsa said it’s unclear if other Minnesota taconite operations might also be affected by the downturn. But he said the U.S. Steel layoffs on the Range will almost certainly have a ripple effect on the local economy, with mining industry suppliers, retail stores and service industry jobs also threatened, especially if the layoffs linger.

“There’s always light at the end of the tunnel. But first you have to walk through the tunnel,” Metsa said. “I fear that we are getting ready for a long, dark walk.”

Minnesota’s Iron Range has seen the boom and bust cycles of iron ore mining for more than a century. But the latest downturn seems to have happened fast and caught some by surprise. As recently as September, Minntac officials were moving ahead with a major expansion, increasing the size of the mine and promising 120 new jobs after securing state permits for the expansion.

“U.S. Steel’s layoffs at Minntac and Keetac will cause economic hardships and emotional distress for thousands of hard-working Minnesotans and their families. Now is a time for everyone to come together and support one another,” Gov. Mark Dayton said in a statement. “The Range has endured these industry downtowns before and each time has come back even stronger. My administration stands ready to do everything possible to help do so again.”

The layoff situation is the worst on the Iron Range since 2009, when all of the state’s major mining operations were briefly shut down at once due to the global economic recession. That downturn was relatively short, lasting only a few months, but Minnesota taconite production didn't fully recover until about 2011.

Before that, the cyclical mining industry saw major downturns in 2000-2001, when LTV Steel Mining permanently closed in Hoyt Lakes, and a massive downsizing in the early 1980s when taconite production was halved, entire plants permanently closed and the Iron Range saw an outmigration of thousands of residents who never returned.

Global iron ore prices have dropped by more than 50 percent in the past 18 months, with slower demand in China and huge increases in iron ore output in Australia. Since 2011, iron ore prices have dropped by two-thirds, from nearly $190 per ton to about $57 per ton Tuesday. That's less than the price of production for some Minnesota operations. The lower ore prices have helped push steel prices down, especially in foreign nations where economies have soured. Those nations are looking to get rid of excess steel where economies continue to grow — namely the U.S.

Minntac produced and shipped more than 13 million tons of taconite iron ore pellets in 2013, the most recent year for which state statistics are available. That’s nearly double the size of any other Minnesota mining operation.

Duluth News Tribune


Federal and state leaders call for Soo Lock replacement

4/1 - Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. – Federal and state officials are asking the United States Army Corps of Engineers to put a project slated to replace the Soo Locks at the top of the list. A letter, signed by the majority of the Michigan Congressional delegation, including both U.S. Senators, urges the Army Corps to prioritize replacing the Locks before maintenance issues interrupt shipping business.

The letter also urges the Army Corps to make the results of a recent sensitivity analysis publicly available. The analysis would help determine the need for a lock replacement at Sault Ste. Marie.

The requested study's findings should assist in moving the Army Corps towards completing a new Benefits Cost Ratio, which would eventually move the Soo Locks up on the priority funding list at the Army Corps. All Army Corps projects are ranked based on critical need.

There are four locks at the Soo Locks, but two are available for use. The Poe opened in 1968 and the MacArthur opened in 1943.

According to officials, 70-percent of commercial goods transported through the Soo Locks, must use the Poe Lock due to size restrictions. If an outage occurred at this lock, the economic impact could reach about $160-Million in thirty days.

"The Locks are absolutely critical to jobs and industry not only in Northern Michigan, but around the entire country. If the Locks were out of commission for even a day, the economic impact would be severe," said Congressman Dr. Dan Benishek. "If you've ever seen a laker move through the Locks, you know how narrow that passageway is, and that there is no room for error. So many industries, like steel and auto, depend on the Soo Locks, making them a priority for our national security and our economy."

According to the Army Corps of Engineers website, a new lock has been authorized by Congress but not yet funded. As soon as the project is funded construction will begin. Meanwhile most major design work and much preparatory work has already been completed. The project, once funded, would take seven to 10 years to complete based on uninterrupted construction.



Port Reports -  April 1

Lake Superior
Algoma Olympic and Philip R. Clarke continued their ice struggle Tuesday off Whitefish Point, assisted by the CCG cutter Samuel Risley.

St. Marys River
Stewart J. Cort was upbound below Mission Point at 10:30 p.m. Tuesday. USCG Mobile Bay was ahead of her.

The USCG Mackinaw has been docked at the North Pier since Saturday evening. It is unknown if the vessel is under repairs or waiting for traffic. Canadian Olympic passed through upbound on Sunday morning and was taken under escort by the Samuel Risley stopping above Whitefish Point.  The Philip R. Clarke locked through upbound Monday night and departed meeting the Risley and Canadian Olympic just outside of Whitefish Bay. The USCG Alder was working with the convoy Tuesday night.

Port Inland, Mich.
Wilfred Sykes was loading limestone Tuesday.


Lake Superior, harbor, southern lakes all losing ice

4/1 - Duluth, Minn. – The ice has been off most of western Lake Superior for a couple weeks now. Ice in the Duluth harbor and lower St. Louis River is going fast. And several lakes in southern and central Minnesota already are ice-free.

Winter is fading in the Northland, as it always does, but markedly faster than the past two years. Satellite photographs clearly show the western half of Lake Superior ice-free, except for a few bays, with ice now gone from even the western tip of the lake in Duluth. That didn't happen until May last year.

In southern Minnesota, ice is leaving lakes from one to two weeks ahead of normal — and a month ahead of last year — according to records kept by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Pioneer Lake north of the Twin Cities, in Chisago County, lost its ice March 25 this year, 16 days before its April 10 average.

It's too soon to tell if the early ice-out trend will continue north, but the forecast calls for highs in the 50s and 60s for the next few days.

Big Sandy Lake near McGregor on average loses its ice on April 21, according to 85 years of data kept by the DNR. But the lake has seen ice-out as early as March 26, 2012, and as late as May 12, in 2013. If the warm March trend holds into April this year, Big Sandy should lose its ice by mid-April this year.

But ice-out can vary wildly, as the Northland has seen in recent years.

Just three years ago the state saw its earliest ever ice-out dates, with Saganaga ice-free on April 2, 2012 — more than a month ahead of normal. Last year winter hung on for weeks longer, and ice did not leave the big Ontario border lake until May, 19, 2014, the latest ever on record and nearly two weeks late.

On Lake Superior, satellite photos show the eastern half of the lake is still holding ice. But that ice appears to be cracking and pulling away from shore, and Great Lakes freighters haven't reported as much difficulty traversing the lake as they did last spring.

Duluth News Tribune


Crude oil spilled into Lake Michigan from BP refinery, Coast Guard says

4/1 - Whiting, Ind. – A BP incident management team said an initial visual estimate showed between 377 and 755 gallons of crude oil spilled into Lake Michigan when a malfunction occurred at an Indiana refinery Monday, U.S. Coast Guard representatives said.

A cleanup team of eight people returned to the shore of BP's Whiting Refinery for three hours Wednesday, March 26. The crew observed "minimal" oiling along the shoreline, according to a Coast Guard release. More oil was manually cleaned from the shoreline after crews removed 1 centimeter tarballs from the sand on Tuesday.

The company notified the Coast Guard, Environmental Protection Agency and Indiana Department of Environmental Management after discovering the spill late Monday afternoon. It's believed a malfunction occurred with a crude oil distillation unit, sending oil into the refinery's cooling water outfall and into the lake.

BP representatives said crews have recovered the majority of oil that was visible in the cove-like area along the shoreline between the refinery and a nearby steel mill. Booms and vacuum trucks were used to contain and remove surface oil. Crews also manually collected oil that was pushed to shore by wind.

A view from a Coast Guard helicopter Tuesday showed the spill appeared to be contained to the cove area on BP property.

Coast Guard representatives said BP's team will continue engineering analyses to determine the exact amount of oil discharged.

A spokesperson for the Indiana Department of Environmental Management on Tuesday said the environmental impact appeared minimal and there were no indications that drinking water was threatened.

Philip Willink, senior biologist with Chicago's Shedd Aquarium, said Lake Michigan wildlife should not suffer any long-term effects based on information released by BP and the federal agencies handling the spill. Prolonged ice cover on the lake kept many native fish species off-shore, he said.

"Right now the fish are still in deeper water and haven't come back in yet," Willink said. "I think BP kind of got lucky with their timing. If it happened earlier, if (Lake Michigan) was still ice-covered, it probably would have been hard to do something about." Fish typically return closer to shore in April, Willink said.

Very low levels of petroleum can impact fish and other wildlife, causing birth defects. Willink said the spill sounds minor, but wildlife and environmental experts hope preventative measures are taken.



Lookback #500 – Former Prinses Anna sank on April 1, 1972

The Dutch flag Oranje Lijn helped pioneer scheduled Great Lakes freight service in the 1930s. They sent early, pre-Seaway, traders into the Great Lakes and, once the Seaway opened in 1959, dispatched larger vessels to our shores.

In 1967, they added some larger combination passenger and freight carriers including the Prinses Anna. The ship made five inland voyages that year but this new venture did not last.

Prinses Anna had been built at the Dutch vessel Schouten in 1954. It originally provided service between Holland and the Far East carrying mixed cargo with limited passenger accommodations. It carried on for just over a decade until it was sold to the Oranje Lijn in 1966 and modified for Great Lakes service.

The ship was sold again in 1969 and registered in the Somali Republic as c) Hwa Po. The vessel encountered heavy weather during a voyage from Nagoya, Japan, to Whampoa, China, on April 1, 1972, when the cargo, that included steel products and trucks, broke loose. This made the ship very unstable in the wild weather and it foundered 43 years ago today while about 18 miles south of Cape Sata, Kagoshima, Japan.

The ship was carrying a crew of 36 and 20 of the sailors were lost.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  April 1

News Photo Gallery


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.

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.

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.

1941: ROBERT W. POMEROY had served the Eastern Steamship Co. as well as Upper Lakes & St. Lawrence Transportation Co. while on the Great Lakes from 1923 to 1940. It went overseas and worked for the British Ministry of War Transport hauling coal on coastal routes. While north bound on April 1, 1942, the ship hit a mine and, four minutes later, a second mine and went down in the North Sea off Norfolk, U.K. Twenty-two survived although two were injured when the boiler exploded.

1942: The Norwegian salty GUDVANG came to the Great Lakes in 1939. It was intercepted by a German patrol boat between Denmark and Norway, while trying to escape to England, on this date in 1942. The ship was sunk by gunfire and the crew became prisoners of war.

1968: GHISLAIN was more at home on the St. Lawrence, but had delivered pulpwood to the Great Lakes in the late 1960s. It had several escapades during these years including a grounding while entering Yarmouth, NS with 1400 tons of herring on this date in 1968. The vessel was repaired at Liverpool, NS. It was listed as g) ANIK in 1974 and in need of repairs. While it was not deleted from LR until 1986, the ship was likely broken up in the mid-1970s.

1983: REGENT MARIGOLD visited the Great Lakes in 1975 under Panamanian registry. It was sailing as d) LEXINGTON when the hull fractured in a storm while en route from Bukpyong, South Korea, to Bangladesh. It went down on this date about 200 miles northwest of Penang, Malaysia.

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


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