Great Lakes & Seaway Shipping News Archive

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* Report News

New effort to move Keewatin set for Thursday

5/31 - Douglas, Mich.2:30 p.m. update - Tugs have moved the Keewatin and the tow begins.

10:30 a.m. update - A number of stories are circulating this morning regarding renewed attempts to move the Keewatin. Several news sources indicate that a larger tug has been ordered and should arrive soon. The website of the Saugatuck-Douglas Visitors' Bureau indicates that Coast Guard approval to resume operations is anticipated at 11 a.m., and they will resume their live-stream video at that time.

 8 a.m. update - The move has been put on hold, representatives from the King Company will meet with the U.S. Coast Guard at  9 a.m. to resolve an unknown issue.

Original report - The attempt to move the Keewatin from her home of the last 40 years met with little success on Wednesday. At times the King Co. tugs were able to get the historic vessel as much as 70-80 away from the dock, but then she hung up in the shallow water. Several changes in ballast and pulling direction were tried, to no avail.

It is understood that plans were being made to bring a spud barge from Holland to attempt to winch the boat into the dredged channel on Thursday. Sometime prior to the tow, vandals invaded the boat and stole a number of deck chairs and a life jacket. Police are investigating.

Hundreds of spectators gathered in Douglas and Saugatuck Wednesday morning watching preparations to tow the 105-year-old ship from Kalamazoo Lake. The goal was to move it down the river toward the channel leading to Lake Michigan. There it will await larger tugs from the St. James Marine Co. of Beaver Island to guide its journey to Port McNicoll, Ontario.

The ship is scheduled to arrive in Canada June 23, the 100th anniversary of when it first arrived in that port and began a Great Lakes shipping career. It is to become the center of a redeveloped water park in Port McNicoll, recognizing that community's history.

Click here to watch the progress on the livecam.

Dave Wobser, Bob VandeVusse and the Holland Sentinel


Poe Lock repairs completed

5/31 - Traffic through the Poe Lock resumed just before 2 p.m. Wednesday following a nearly six-hour shutdown for repairs to a cylinder on one of the upper gates. Delayed were Stewart J. Cort (downbound) and John J. Boland and Burns Harbor (upbound). A rush of vessels in the afternoon created a traffic jam that lasted well into the evening.


Work to remove Canadian Miner wreck could start in June

5/31 - Sydney, N.S. – A New York-based salvage company will start work on the removal of the former Canadian Miner next month where it is hung up on the rocky shore at Scatarie Island off Cape Breton.

Chief operating officer Abe Shah outlined Bennington Group’s salvage plans during a meeting with the editorial board of the Cape Breton Post on Wednesday while also giving assurances Scatarie Island, which is a provincial wilderness protected area, will be left in an untainted condition after the removal job is finished.

“I’ll take you there and show you a pristine beach,” he said.

Fishermen have asked that the salvage operation start after the lobster season, which ends on July 12. Bennington will delay the major work of cutting up the Miner until almost the end of the lobster season so as to not impact the livelihood of the fishermen, Shah said.

“But you have to understand that we are also under time constraints because as we go into August or September, the weather gets really bad. That’s when she broke up in the first place and we can’t put our crew into harm’s way at that time,” he said. “We are trying to juggle both being sensitive to the fishermen and their livelihood and at the same time the safety of our crew.”

Natural Resource Department officials and Bennington were to meet with fishermen and local residents at the Main-a-Dieu Coastal Discovery Centre later in the day Wednesday.

Bennington plans to start bringing materials to be used during the salvage out to the wreck site by June 18 ­ weather permitting ­ using smaller barges and working with fishermen, who may be asked to temporarily relocate any lobster traps that may be on the barge route.

The company wants to start cutting up the ship on July 10, remove the first barge load of scrap by July 17 and wrap up the removal of the ship by the week of Aug. 13-17, before worsening weather conditions make the salvage job more dangerous.

Engines aboard the ship and some other hazardous materials may be removed first by a smaller barge.

Shah said barges loaded with scrap will be limited to trips once a week, or every 10 days for a trip to the Port Hawkesbury area where the metal will be moved by rail to buyers in Canada and the U.S. Weather conditions may make for changes in the planned schedule, said Shah.

The ship will be cut up into scrap using large, powerful metal shears and cutting torches. Shah explained the company will moor the ship to the rocks, construct a scaffold and cribbing around the vessel to minimize the impact on the island and dismantle the ship in on itself. The salvage company will also gather up scrap metal already in the ocean, he said.

Bennington Group has entered into a joint venture with Miner owner Arivina Navigation SA of Turkey to remove the wreck.

The Greek ocean-going tug Hellas was towing the Miner on Sept. 20 when its line broke free and the ship ran aground. It was on its way from Montreal to Turkey, where it was supposed to be scrapped. Scatarie Island lies about 11 kilometres off the shore of Cape Breton.

Bennington is not being paid by Arivina Navigation SA but will receive the value of the scrap metal. Shah estimated the removal costs of the MV Miner at close to $1 million but could not provide estimates of the value of the scrap.

Bennington will hire local people and buy local products during the salvage operation, which Shah estimated will be worth about $500,000 worth of economic activity for the area.

Bill Smith, an acting executive director for the Department of Natural Resources, said the ship has deteriorated since running aground and is now in a condition where the bottom has breached, plates have fallen off, there are large holes and cracks, and it is buckling.

“It has deteriorated a lot since last fall, and with that comes the potential for releasing more stuff from that vessel into the environment,” Smith said. “The owners of that ship, they basically walked away from it. There were still sheets on the beds, there was still food in the galley, toothpaste and toothbrushes on the side of the sink.

“It was just like the guys up and left, so we didn’t get everything off and there is still a lot there, so it is a concern that with further deterioration of the ship this stuff gets into the water and could be a hazard to boaters for a long period.”

A salvage company hired by the province has already removed oils and fuels and some of the floatable materials like plastics, appliances and furniture from the wreck.

Environment Canada has indicated that after removal of the oil and fuel, and apart from the sheet metal in the water, there is little environmental risk, but the impact should the ship deteriorate and break apart is an unknown story, said Smith. “There has been some oil sheen and booms have been put out (but) there has been no demonstrable impact on the environment.”

Environment Canada has said there has been no environmental risk so far of contamination by any asbestos that may have escaped, he said. Asbestos is deemed to be no risk to the marine environment when wet, but if it dries out onshore and becomes airborne, it is a different story, he said.

The Canadian Coast Guard will be on the site throughout the salvage operation to monitor the project and ensure there is no impact on the marine environments, said Smith. Natural Resources also plans to monitor the salvage operation and can order a stop and a remedy should there be any signs of harm to the environment or local fishery, or unsafe work practices, he said.

Bennington also has insurance coverage to address any situation where there is an adverse impact on the environment, Smith said. The wreck will be moved at no cost to the provincial government, said Smith.

Bennington Group has experience dismantling large ships, including an obsolete aircraft carrier for the U.S. navy, removing and dismantling sunken and floating barges, and scrapping various ocean-going vessels, Natural Resources said.

The provincial government was at first concerned after the Miner went on the rocks and before Arivina Navigation SA and the Bennington Group came forward that there was no indication of who would be responsible for its removal. Smith said Natural Resources is focusing on the lessons to be learned from the Miner episode to avoid similar concerns in the future.

Cape Breton Post


Port Reports -  May 31

Toledo, Ohio -
The saltie Bright Laker arrived at the Anderson’s grain complex in Toledo at 8:30 am Tuesday. She was assisted to the dock by two G tugs.

Sandusky - Marblehead, Ohio - Jim Spencer
Atlantic Huron loaded Wednesday at the NorfolkSouthern coal dock for Superior, Wis. The Manistee was westbound on Lake Erie for the Lafarge stone dock at Marblehead to load for Cleveland.


Lakes below start-of-June average

5/31 - Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. – The International Lake Superior Board of Control, under authority granted to it by the International Joint Commission, has set the Lake Superior outflow to 1,650 cubic meters per second m3/s for the month of June, effective June 1, 2012.

This is an increase from the May outflow, which was 1560 m3/s. This outflow includes 1,560 m3/s as prescribed by Plan 1977-A and approximately 90 m3/s additional allocation to the Canadian hydropower facility to facilitate sea lamprey trapping tests.

The June outflow will be released by discharging about 1,548 m3/s through the three hydropower plants and passing most of the remaining flow through the control structure at the head of the St. Marys rapids.

The gate setting of the control structure will be maintained at the existing setting equivalent to one-half gate open (four gates open about 8 inches each). There will be no change to the setting of Gate No. 1 that supplies the Fishery Remedial Works.

This past month the water supplies to the lakes Superior and Michigan-Huron basins were below normal.

Lake Superior is currently 3 inches below chart datum level. The level of Lake Superior is expected to rise in June. Currently, the Lake Superior level is about 11 inches below its long-term average beginning-of-June level, and is 1 inch higher than the level recorded a year ago. This past month the level of Lake Superior rose 4 inches, while on average it rises 3 inches in May.

The level of Lakes Michigan-Huron rose 2 inches this May, while on average it rises 3 inches in May. The level of Lakes Michigan- Huron is now about 16 inches below its long-term average beginning-of-June level, and 5 inches lower than it was a year ago. Currently Lakes Michigan-Huron is 2 inches above its chart datum level. The level of Lakes Michigan-Huron is expected to rise in June.


New limit weighs heavy on tour boat operators

5/31 - Milwaukee, Wis. – As American waistlines have expanded, the U.S. Coast Guard doesn't want the additional pounds to capsize tour boats and tip passenger ferries. In a rule change that's new for many tour boat operators, the Coast Guard increased by 25 pounds the average weight per person that's assumed when figuring a maximum allowed number of passengers.

At 185 pounds, it updates the old average weight of 160 pounds set in 1960. The adjustment stemmed from a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study in 2004 that showed men and women were about an inch taller and 25 pounds heavier than they were 50 years ago.

The change was long overdue, said William Peters of the Coast Guard Office of Design and Engineering Standards in Washington, D.C.

"It's not enough to say someone has enough life jackets and emergency equipment on board to handle 20 passengers," Peters said. "They have to take adequate precautions for the weight of those 20 people."

Now comes the part that makes people squirm. Under the rule, commercial boat operators can weigh passengers instead of assuming that each adult weighs about 185 pounds. They could, Peters said, get a scale that stockyards use to weigh cattle.

They could put all the passengers on the scale and see if the boat's weight limit has been exceeded.

"But then who do you ask to get off the boat? That's a problem," Peters said.

The rule change was partly prompted by a couple of fatal tour-boat accidents, including an October 2005 capsizing in Lake George, N.Y., that killed 20 people.The Ethan Allen rolled over when it rounded a curve and waves hit the starboard side. Stability calculations later showed it should have carried a maximum of 14 passengers instead of the 48 who were on board, many of them elderly.

Wisconsin tour boat operators say the rule change is a little frustrating because it cuts into their revenue, and some feel the Coast Guard has gone a bit overboard.

But people are heavier, said Capt. John Michkowski of Foxy Lady Cruises, a Green Bay tour boat operator that now has a vessel limited to 137 passengers, down 12 from previous years.

It would cost a "ton of money" to widen the boat to accommodate more people, Michkowski said. Weighing people as they come aboard would not be a good idea, either.

"You would lose a good number of them who wouldn't want to step on the scale," he said.

The rule change has been a boon for naval architects who evaluate boat capacities and come up with solutions for operators wanting to carry more passengers.

Milwaukee River Cruise Line upgraded its 85-foot Edelweiss II to accommodate the new weight standard without a reduction in passengers. But it couldn't justify spending thousands of dollars to modify a 40-foot pontoon boat, meaning that boat will have to run with fewer passengers.

The loss in revenue is tough for operators who have to make most of their money in a few months of the year and face stiff competition. "You can try to raise prices, but this market will only bear so much," said Dan Jorgenson, co-owner of Milwaukee River Cruise Line.

The new weight standard hasn't been onerous for the Lake Express ferry in Milwaukee.

The ferry's passenger limit was reduced by about 45 people, to 363, but it doesn't run at full capacity anyway, said Christopher Coleman, director of operations.

"From a customer service standpoint, you would be ill-advised to start weighing people as they go on board," Coleman said.

The Coast Guard says it's asking for cooperation as it implements the new standard, but says commercial operators face fines and suspension of their license if they refuse to comply. The maximum fine would be $27,500 a day, said Coast Guard Commander Rob Smith in Washington, D.C.

What the Coast Guard wants to avoid, Smith said, is learning too late that a boat was overloaded and capsized, resulting in lives lost. "Unfortunately, that is what's happened," he said.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel


Winter ship work at Muskegon shows promise

5/31 - Muskegon, Mich. – Work by Muskegon-area contractors this past winter on the Mart Dock refurbishing the Sand Products’ tugboat Bradshaw McKee could lead to a new commercial ship repair business.

Sand Products Corp. officials were so pleased at the West Michigan vendors’ work on the Bradshaw McKee in conjunction with its own crew that future winter ship work is being considered for next year, according to Ed Hogan, vice president of Port City Marine Services and Port City Steamship Services.

Both are companies of Sand Products, the McKee family firm that owns and operates the West Michigan Dock and Market Corp. facilities on Muskegon Lake in downtown Muskegon.

Known locally as the Mart Dock, the Sand Products port facility is Muskegon’s only full-service commercial dock. A small Sand Products Corp. staff has been moved to Muskegon from the Detroit-area in the past months, company officials have said.

The work on the 120-foot Bradshaw McKee could lead to those marine services being expanded in the future, Hogan said. The nearly $1 million of work on the tugboat included engine overhauls, installation of new generators, retrofitting the electronics, navigation, communications and computer systems on board.

“It was all done by local contractors and it was done well,” Sand Products President Chuck Canestraight said.

The ship work at the Mart Dock goes hand-in-hand with the West Michigan Port Operators efforts to increase maritime activity in Muskegon and other West Michigan ports. Sand Products is a member of the port operators’ marketing effort.

The Bradshaw McKee – named after the late Sand Products executive who was current company Chairman Max McKee’s father – is operated by the Muskegon-based Port City Steamship Services.

The refurbished tugboat provides the power and navigation for the company’s barge, Cleveland Rocks -- a 400-foot, 11,000-ton capacity self-unloading barge. The Bradshaw McKee replaces a leased tugboat to create the Cleveland Rocks tug-barge operation that is working the Great Lakes this shipping season, Hogan said.

Operated by the Michigan-Ohio Barge LLC, the McKee/Cleveland Rocks combination halls stone, sand, iron ore and coal between ports all over the Great Lakes. The tug-barge was in Muskegon last week delivering construction materials to the Verplank Trucking Co. on the Mart Dock, company officials said.

The Bradshaw McKee was built in 1977 in Ocean Springs, Miss. It had been operated as the Susan H. Hannah until Sand Products acquired it two and a half years ago when its previous owner dissolved its Great Lakes operations, Hogan said. The tug was in major need of attention, he said.

The work over the past winter on the tug at the Mart Dock included renovation of crew compartments and interior fixtures, Hogan said. Some of the local contractors were Versatile Fabrication, Hall Electric, E.W. Anderson Plumbing and Heating, ASAP Supply, Logical Technologies and Barteau Upholstery among others.

“We want to continue to promote this type of business in Muskegon and the use of the Mart Dock,” said Hogan, a Muskegon native who now lives in the Chicago area but works for Sand Products companies throughout the Great Lakes.

He had worked for Bultema Dock & Dredge and then Canonie Transportation in Muskegon before continuing his Great Lakes maritime career out of Muskegon.

Sand Products has $2 million to $3 million in steel work to be done on a ship next winter and the company is seriously considering doing at the Mart Dock, Hogan said.

“There was a convenience to ourselves and we found the vendors and the labor available in Muskegon,” Hogan said of a Mart Dock project that began in December and was completed by April for the start of the lake shipping season. “This has been all positive. The guys in Muskegon are hungry to work.


Shipwreck survivor Dennis Hal returning for June programs

5/31 - Sturgeon Bay, Wis. – Dennis Hale, author of his autobiography “Shipwrecked: Reflections of the Sole Survivor,” returns to Door County for a pair of presentations on Thursday, June 21 and Friday, June 22 in response to a hugely-popular appearance in Sturgeon Bay in the spring of 2011.

Hale will return to Bay View Lutheran Church in Sturgeon Bay for a program on June 21 and will then head up to the Baileys Harbor Town Hall on Friday night. Both programs will begin at 7 p.m. Tickets are now available.

Hale was the only survivor of the ill-fated lake freighter Daniel J. Morrell, which sank in Lake Huron in 1966. He and three other men managed to climb onto a raft, but in temperatures that hovered around freezing the other three men died within hours of hypothermia. Doctors were mystified by how the 26-year-old Hale survived the ordeal.

“People were so captivated by Hale’s program that we invited Dennis to come back during the warmer months when many of our seasonal residents have returned and more visitors are in the area,” said the museum’s executive director, Bob Desh. “We also wanted to offer the program further north on the peninsula.”

Copies of Hales autobiography, released in 2010, will be available at the presentation. Hale feels the book projects a tale of survival beginning when he was a teenager hitch-hiking across the country to that April morning of 1964 when he signed on the Morrell, the remarkable events that followed and how they impacted his life.

Seating is limited and any remaining tickets will available at the door. Tickets sell for $5 to museum members and $12 to non-members, and can be purchased by visiting 120 N. Madison Ave. in Sturgeon Bay or calling 920-743-5958.


Updates -  May 31

News Photo Gallery


Today in Great Lakes History -  May 31

The CITY OF SAGINAW 31 cleared Manitowoc in 1973, in tow of the tug HELEN M. MC ALLISTER; this was the first leg of her tow to the cutters torch which ended at Castellon, Spain.

The wooden barge FANNY NEIL was launched at the Muir, Livingstone & Co. yard in Port Huron, Michigan on 31 May 1870. As was usual in those days, her name was not made public until the streamer bearing her name was unfurled at the launch.

May 31, 1924 -- The PERE MARQUETTE 21 arrived Ludington, Michigan on her maiden voyage. Captain Charles E. Robertson in command.

The wooden tug MOCKING BIRD was launched at 7:00 p.m. on 31 May 1873, (12 days late) at the Port Huron Dry Dock Company yard. Her master builder was Alex "Sandy" Stewart. Her dimensions were 123 foot x 23 feet x 8.4 feet, 142 gross tons. The engine (26.5 inches x 30 inches) was at the Cuyahoga Works in Cleveland, Ohio at the time of launch, ready to be installed. Although this launch was twelve days late, it still did not go smoothly since MOCKING BIRD got stuck in the river. However, with some assistance from another tug, she was pulled free and was afloat at the dock by midnight. She lasted until abandoned at Marquette, Michigan in 1918.

On 31 May 1900, the KEWAUNEE (wooden propeller steamer, 106 foot, 143 gross tons) was launched at Kewaunee, Wisconsin for James Smith, Ben Kuhlman & William Keeper. In 1902, she was rebuilt as a lightship and in 1913, she was converted to a sand dredge. She lasted until 1935, when she was abandoned.

1918 The GEORGE G. BARNUM (later the self-unloader HENNEPIN) and the CHESTER A. CONGDON were in a minor collision due to fog off Whitefish Point, Lake Superior. The latter was lost later that year after stranding and then breaking up on Canoe Rock, Isle Royale, Lake Superior.

1926 NISBET GRAMMER sank after a collision with DALWARNIC in fog off Thirty Mile Point, Lake Ontario, while downbound with a cargo of grain. All on board were rescued from the 3-year old member of the Eastern Steamship Co. fleet. It went down in about 500 feet of water.

1974 The first GORDON C. LEITCH was aground for 3 hours, 55 minutes at Buoy 2 on the St. Clair River and freed herself with only minor damage.

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.


Keewatin departure

5/30 - Weather permitting, the King Company is scheduled to begin the work of towing the Keewatin from its dock in Douglas, Michigan for the first time in 45 years the morning of May 30. Coverage will be available by webcam, which can be accessed at the Saugatuck/Douglas Visitors' Bureau web site ( The vessel will be towed to the mouth of the Kalamazoo River channel, where it will undergo further inspection and await the arrival of tugs from St. James Marine of Beaver Island on Friday morning for the first leg up Lake Michigan to the old State Ferry Dock in Mackinaw City.

The Keewatin will spend a couple of weeks in Mackinaw City before continuing on to Port McNicoll, Ontario. Her arrive is planned for noon on June 23, the exact date that she originally arrived in Port McNicoll to begin service for the Canadian Pacific Railroad in 1908.

Bob VandeVusse


Port Reports -  May 30

Marquette, Mich. - Rod Burdick
Tuesday the James R. Barker unloaded coal into the hopper and Michipicoten loaded ore.

Holland, Mich. - Bob VandeVusse
Tug Undaunted and barge Pere Marquette 41 arrived in Holland on Tuesday in the early afternoon to deliver stone to the Verplank dock. The unload was completed about 9 p.m.

Cedarville and Port Inland, Mich. - Denny Dushane and Dan McNeil
At Cedarville, Wilfred Sykes was due to arrive on Tuesday, May 29 to load. Following the Sykes will be the Philip R. Clarke, due in to load at Cedarville on Thursday, May 31. At Port Inland, the Calumet was due to arrive on Monday, May 28 late in the evening, followed by the John J. Boland on Tuesday, May 29 for an early morning arrival. The Sykes is due back on Tuesday, May 29.

Calcite, Mich. - Denny Dushane and Dan McNeil
Both Cason J. Callaway and Arthur M. Anderson loaded limestone at Calcite on Tuesday, with the Callaway departing in the late morning, while the Anderson was due to depart from Calcite late in the afternoon. The Mississagi was anchored outside of Calcite waiting for the Callaway's departure before taking the dock at Calcite to load limestone. There are no vessels presently scheduled to load at Calcite Wednesday or Thursday. Due on early Friday is the Manitowoc for the South Dock.

Stoneport, Mich. - Denny Dushane and Dan McNeil
Great Republic loaded limestone on Tuesday. Next in line was the John G. Munson, which was anchored out and waiting on the Republic to finish her load. The Munson was expected to dock late in the afternoon to load. Also due Tuesday was Great Lakes Trader to load limestone. Due on Wednesday is the Pathfinder for an early morning arrival and the Lewis J. Kuber for an evening arrival. For Thursday, only the Cason J. Callaway is scheduled to load, arriving during the evening.

Saginaw, Mich. - Todd Shorkey
The tug Olive L. Moore and her barge, Lewis J. Kuber, arrived on the Saginaw River late Tuesday evening. The pair called on the Lafarge Stone Dock in Essexville to unload. Outbound on Tuesday, under sunny skies, was the former car ferry West Shore. Recently purchased by Star Line Ferries, from the Bay City Boat Line, West Shore was headed north to be prepped and begin service to Mackinac Island hauling freight. West Shore is a near sister to the Bay City Boat Lines vessel, Princess Wenonah, and for the past number of years has sat at the dock, inactive. The 65' West Shore was bulit in 1947 for the Miller Boat Line for service to the Bass Islands, before being sold to the Bay City Boat Line, and now the Star Line. The West Shore's new name will be "Anna May"

Toledo, Ohio - Denny Dushane
Activity will be busy in Toledo the next week, with the CSX Coal Dock and Torco Dock seeing the bulk of the traffic. Due to load at the CSX Coal Dock is the Calumet on Thursday, May 31, with Herbert C. Jackson and the McKee Sons both arriving on June 2. Due to load on Monday, June 4 is the John J. Boland and, rounding out the lineup, is a return visit by the Calumet Thursday, June 7. The Algomarine is the only vessel due for the Midwest Terminal Stone Dock; she is due to arrive on Thursday, May 31. At the Torco Dock, the new Lakes Contender barge was due to make its first trip into Toledo on Tuesday, May 29. She is due to make a return trip to Toledo to unload at the Torco Dock on Sunday, June 3. Other vessels due to unload ore cargoes at the Torco Dock are the John J. Boland on Monday, June 4 along with the Great Republic on Tuesday, June 5. The Algowood closes out the schedule for the Torco Dock arriving on Thursday, June 7 to unload an ore cargo. There are three vessels still remaining in Toledo for long-term layup. Adam E. Cornelius is at the Han Hansen dock, while American Fortitude along with American Valor continue their long-term layups at the Lakefront Docks.

Lorain, Ohio - Phil Leon
Algowood was in Lorain on Monday. She called the bridge around 10:30 and left the harbor around 11:45 heading east.

John B. Aird arrived at Sandusky's NorfolkSouthern coal dock late Tuesday afternoon and began loading for Hamilton. The process was anticipated to take 12 hours. Manistee, meantime, spent most of Tuesday loading at the LaFarge stone dock at Marblehead.


Buoy marks 1864 Lake Erie shipwreck

5/30 - Cleveland, Ohio – A ship that went down in a storm on Lake Erie in 1864 near Cleveland now has a buoy marking the wreck. Divers placed the blue-and-white buoy over the Sultan a few miles from Cleveland on Saturday. The ship lies in 45 feet of water.

The Plain Dealer in Cleveland reports the buoy makes it easier for recreational divers to explore the ship and protects a historical artifact. The Sultan perished while sailing from Cleveland. It was discovered in the 1980s, but went unreported.

It was found again last year by the Cleveland Underwater Explorers. That group says the 127-foot, double-masted vessel was launched in 1848 in Chicago. It hauled passengers and cargo on the Great Lakes and along the East Coast for 16 years.

Toledo Blade


Today in Great Lakes History -  May 30

On 30 May 1896, ALGERIA (3-mast wooden schooner-barge, 285 foot, 2,038 gross tons) was launched by J. Davidson (Hull #75) at West Bay City, Michigan. She lasted until 1906, when she foundered near Cleveland, Ohio.

The COLUMBIA STAR began her maiden voyage in 1981, from Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin to load iron ore pellets at Silver Bay, Minnesota for Lorain, Ohio. She was the last of the 1,000 footers to enter service and, excluding tug-barge units or conversions, was the last new Great Lakes vessel on the American side.

During the economic depression known as the "Panic of '73", shipbuilding came to a stand still. Orders for new vessels were cancelled and worked was stopped on hulls that were on the ways. On 30 May 1874, the Port Huron Times reported that a recovery from the "Panic of '73" resulted in a surge of shipyard work at Marine City. "Shipyards are getting ready to start business again with full force. Mr. Fin Kenyon has begun building a steam barge for Kenyon Bros. [the PORTER CHAMBERLAIN]; Mr. George King is going to build a steam barge for Mr. Henry Buttironi [the GERMANIA]; Messrs. Hill and Wescott are going to build a side wheel passenger boat for Mr. Eber Ward [the NORTHERNER]; Mr. David Lester will build another steam barge [the CITY OF DULUTH]. There is one barge on the stocks built by Mr. Hill for Mr. Morley, that will soon be ready to launch [the N K FAIRBANK].

"At about 1a.m. on 30 May 1882, the lumber hooker ROCKET, carrying shingles from Manistee to Charlevoix, capsized about four miles abreast of Frankfort, Michigan on Lake Michigan. The tug HALL found the vessel and towed her inside the harbor. The crew was saved, but the vessel was split open and was a total wreck.

1900 SEGUIN, an iron-hulled steamer, was released with the help of the tug FAVORITE after being stuck near Mackinaw City after going off course due to thick fog.

1918 The first IMPOCO came to the Great Lakes for Imperial Oil in 1910. It was sunk by U-101 as b) WANETA enroute from Halifax, NS to Queenstown, Ireland, with a cargo of fuel oil. The vessel was torpedoed 42 miles SSE of Kinsale Head on this date and 8 lives were lost.

1942 FRED W. GREEN was attacked by three German submarines in the South Atlantic and sunk by U-506 with the loss of 5 lives including the master. The vessel had been built for saltwater service at Ecorse, Mich., as CRAYCROFT in 1918 and returned to the Great Lakes in 1927 before departing again for deep sea trading in November 1941.

1969 The Toronto Islands ferry SAM McBRIDE ran aground in fog after missing the dock at Centre Island.

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


Port Reports -  May 29

St. Marys River
After fog formed over parts of the St. Marys River Monday night, Soo Traffic closed the river from Gros Cap to the Mud Lake Junction just before midnight. Algoma Montrealais went to anchor in the Nine Mile anchorage. Other affected traffic included American Spirit and Edgar B. Speer, which were upbound in the lower river, and Presque Isle, downbound above the locks. The Hon. James L. Oberstar passed downbound through the Rock Cut before the river was closed.

Holland, Mich. - Bob VandeVusse
Manitowoc delivered a cargo of stone product from Port Inland Monday evening, passing through the newly-dredged channel at 9:30 and proceeding to the Verplank dock.

Saginaw River - Todd Shorkey
Sunday saw the arrival of two vessels on the Saginaw River. Olive L. Moore - Lewis J. Kuber arrived with a split cargo for the Bay City and Saginaw Wirt Stone Docks. After unloading, the pair were outbound for the lake late Sunday night. Algorail headed upriver later on Sunday, unloading at the GM Dock in Saginaw. She was outbound Monday morning.

Sandusky, Ohio - Jim Spencer
Algomarine arrived at the Gradel Dock late Monday afternoon with a load of Goderich road salt. Ironically, the unloading boom swung over the starboard side of the vessel and the salt began spewing off the conveyor on one of the hottest days of the year so far in Sandusky, where the humidity-sodden temperature was in the mid 90s.

Buffalo, N.Y. - Joe Rennie
Blount Cruises’ Grande Mariner was in Buffalo Sunday evening.


Several hundred say 'Bon Voyage' to S.S. Keewatin days before it leaves West Michigan

5/29 - Douglas, Mich. – A group of several hundred gathered in Douglas Monday morning to give a formal send-off to the S.S. Keewatin, which is scheduled to leave for Canada this week after being anchored in the area for nearly 50 years.

The 350-foot steamship will depart from her West Michigan port on Wednesday to head toward Lake Michigan and begin her travels to serve as a floating museum at a new waterside development in Port McNicoll, Ont., the same area the Keewatin left 45 years ago to come to Douglas, said Kathy Murphy, manager of the Keewatin Maritime Museum.

The ship, more than a century old and owned by R.J. and Diane Peterson, was purchased by Toronto-based Skyline International Development Inc. It is scheduled to arrive back in Canada on June 23 at 1 p.m. – the same date and time the Keewatin left for Michigan years ago, Murphy said.

“It will be a slow journey,” she said, as the Keewatin will be pulled by a tugboat and have to pass a customs inspection before entering Canada. “A number of locals have already set up a party (for the ship’s return).”

The ceremony included members of the Lakeshore Community Chorus singing “America the Beautiful” and “O Canada!”

“The people of Canada are welcoming back something we thought we’d lost,” said Eric Conroy, spokesman for the Canadian owner of the ship. Conroy, dressed for Monday’s ceremony in the whites of a steamship captain, will be aboard the ship when it is towed out of the Douglas at 7 a.m. Wednesday. He has helped coordinate the move.

“It will re-ignite its town,” Conroy said. The ship will enter Port McNicoll on June 23 with 20,000 people and more than 4,000 boats to welcome the former Canadian Pacific Railway steamship back to its home port.

“I thank you. I thank you. I thank you,” Conroy told several hundred people who gathered on the grass in front of the 350-foot-long green and white ship.

It will be part of the nonprofit Diane and R.J. Peterson Great Lakes Foundation and Keewatin Museum. Peterson purchased the Keewatin and had it towed to Douglas in 1967 where it’s been preserved as a museum.

Douglas Mayor Jim Wiley presented Peterson with a a proclamation of appreciation for preserving the Keewatin. “It was very kind of R.J. to rescue the Keewatin from the scrapyard,” said Saugatuck Mayor Jane Verplank. “All we locals will miss her. She’s one of the many town characters.”

John Fulenwider played bagpipes as the ceremony closed.

“Farewell, Keewatin,” said Wiley. “Gone but never forgotten

MLive, Holland Sentinel


Lake Ontario water levels dip below average

5/29 - Hopes for high summer water levels are slowly diminishing as the International St. Lawrence River Board of Control reports an “increasing risk of low levels later this year” for the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario.

As a result of below-normal precipitation in March and April, lake water levels dropped below their long-term average, and the Board of Control is now restoring the water it had released over the winter to bring it back to average levels.

Marina owners and tourism operators are noticing the difference but say it is too early to tell how the boating season will turn out.

John J. Killius, owner of Henchen’s Marina, Henderson Harbor, said the lake is almost a foot lower than last year. He said he only hopes the board will continue to hold back the water.

“We’re definitely lower than last year — which was actually a high-water year — but I’d say we’re within livable conditions,” he said.

In its latest report, the board notes late-April lake water levels dropped to 245.73 feet — 0.8 inch below the long-term average for that time of the year.

In Cape Vincent, where the lake meets the river, the water was at 245.68 feet as of Tuesday — 14.64 inches lower than last year.

“There’s no doubt we have low water,” said Ronald G. Thomson, owner of several Alexandria Bay businesses, including Uncle Sam Boat Tours.

Mr. Thomson, whose businesses are more weather-dependent, said that although boaters might be able to live with lower-than-average water levels in the summer, he is worried that typical fall drawdown would cut the boating season short.

“The people I’m really sorry for is cottage owners with docks in fairly low water,” he said.

Up until mid-March, the Board of Control had predicted higher-than-average water levels until September and had been releasing large amounts of water.

Owing to high winter water levels, Lake Ontario property owners along the south shore were complaining of erosion damage, and the board had maximized outflow at the Robert H. Moses-Saunders Power Dam in Massena for an extended period to prevent flooding.

Now, the Board of Control says it believes the risk of Lake Ontario levels exceeding the upper monthly average limit has “decreased to almost zero.”

Since last Saturday and through Friday, the board plans to keep the outflow at 247,600 cubic feet per second – some 14,100 cfs below what it normally would release under a water regulation plan.

The sudden drop is partly a result of rather low precipitation levels, but also because inflow from Lake Erie — Lake Ontario’s primary source of water — was close to average in March and below average in April, the Board of Control said.

Restoration will stop when the lake reaches 246.39 feet, and the Board of Control expects the water to be restored completely by June 22.

While Lake Ontario water levels vary from year to year, from April through November, the River Board of Control tries to keep it within an upper limit of 247.3 feet and a lower limit of 243.3 feet.

Watertown Daily Times


Updates -  May 29

News Photo Gallery
Historical Perspectives Gallery updated - Wyandotte 1 gallery updated


Today in Great Lakes History -  May 29

The 71-foot tug and patrol boat CARTER H. HARRISON was launched at Chicago, Illinois, on 29 May 1901, for the City of Chicago Police Department.

The STADACONA (Hull#66) was launched in 1909, at Ecorse, Michigan, by Great Lakes Engineering Works for the Stadacona Steamship Co. (James Playfair, mgr.). Renamed b.) W H MC GEAN in 1920, and c.) ROBERT S. McNAMARA in 1962.

JAMES R. BARKER (Hull#905) was float launched in 1976, at Lorain, Ohio, by American Ship Building Co. for the Interlake Steamship Co.

May 29, 1905 -- The PERE MARQUETTE 20, while leaving Milwaukee in a heavy fog struck the scow HIRAM R BOND of the Milwaukee Sand Gravel Company. The scow sank.

In 1909, the ANN ARBOR NO 4 capsized at Manistique, Michigan, as a result of an error in loading a heavy load of iron ore.

On 29 May 1889, BAVARIA (3-mast wooden schooner-barge, 145 foot, 376 gross tons, built in 1873, at Garden Island, Ontario) was carrying squared timber when she broke from the tow of the steamer D D CALVIN and began to founder near Long Point in Lake Erie. Her crew abandoned her, but all eight were lost. The abandoned vessel washed ashore with little damage and lasted until 1898 when she was destroyed in a storm.

PLEASURE (wooden passenger ferry, 128 foot, 489 gross tons) (Hull#104) was launched at West Bay City, Michigan by F.W. Wheeler & Co. on 29 May 1894. She was a small but powerful ferry, equipped with a 1600 h.p. engine. She operated on the Detroit River year round as a ferry and small ice breaker for the Detroit, Belle Isle and Windsor Ferry Company. She was broken up at Detroit in 1940.

1943 LAKE GEORGE was built for French interests at Ashtabula in 1917 but was launched for and named by the U.S. Shipping Board. It was seized as e) FOLOZU by the Japanese at Shanghai on December 8, 1941, and sunk as f) EISHO MARU after being torpedoed by the U.S.S. TAMBOR in the South China Sea.

1964 A. & J. MERCURY was seized on this date while upbound in the Welland Canal to load coal at Ashtabula for non-payment of stevedore fees at Toronto and Hamilton. While eventually released, it was re-arrested on a complaint by the S.I.U. over non-payment of crew wages. The ship was later put up for auction and resumed service as d) SANTA MONICA. It was scrapped at Kaohsiung, Taiwan, as e) COSMOS TRADER in 1969.

1964 A. & J. FAITH, a fleetmate, was seized by the U.S. Marshal at Cleveland while about to leave for Singapore. It remained idle until being sold and renamed c) SANTA SOFIA in August.

1969 The new self-unloader TADOUSSAC launched itself prematurely at Collingwood and 2 workers were killed and several others injured.

1974 BANIJA, a Yugoslavian freighter, was inbound in ballast at Port Weller through fog when it hit the pier and required repairs before continuing to Duluth to load. This vessel arrived at Alang, India, as b) STOLIV for scrapping on May 1, 1987.

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, the Detroit Free Press and the Duluth Evening Herald.


Port Reports -  May 28

Marquette, Mich. - Rod Burdick
Tug Ken Boothe Sr. and barge Lakes Contender and Hon. James L. Oberstar arrived Sunday morning at the Upper Harbor to load ore. Lakes Contender's visit was a first.


Poe lock to close Wednesday for maintenance

5/28 - Mariners are being advised that the Poe Lock at Sault Ste. Marie will be closed Wednesday at 7 a.m. for maintenance of an undisclosed nature. Work is estimated to take between 6-12 hours, according to an announcement being issued by Soo Traffic.


Submariners salute Ojibwa as she leaves Halifax

5/28 - Halifax, Ont. – Ordinarily the send-off of a ship on her final journey is a somber occasion. This was not the case Sunday in Halifax as retired submariners gathered to send the Cold War submarine HMCS Ojibwa on her way to her final home as a museum in Port Burwell, Ontario. Instead of sadness there were smiles and toasts all round as the first, and now the last, Canadian Oberon-class submarine left Halifax.

After three years of negotiations with the Department of National Defence, the final documents were signed Friday officially transferring ownership of the Ojibwa to the Elgin Military Museum in St. Thomas, Ontario. “This is the day I have been waiting for to open the special bottle of pusser rum that was given to me when I retired,” said Lucky Gordon, a member of Ojibwas Commissioning crew in 1965. “We shared it today in salute to the old girl.”

Ojibwa served Canada and NATO throughout the Cold War until her decommissioning in 1998. She is now on her way to Hamilton, on the first leg of her journey to a new life as the centrepiece of a new Elgin Military Museum of Naval History. “We are all very pleased and relieved,” said Museum President Deb Jarvis.

Ojibwa will travel on Heddle Marines ocean-going drydock towed by the Florence M, part of the McKeil Marine fleet. “We are proud to be part of Project Ojibwa,” said Rick Heddle, who was in Halifax to supervise the loading of Ojibwa. “Last year we took her two sister boats Okanogan and Olympus to the breakers yard. It is such a different atmosphere this year. It has been great fun sharing it with her former crew.”

Canadians will have the opportunity to see Ojibwa pass by as she navigates through the St. Lawrence Seaway over the next eight days. She is expected to arrive in Hamilton on June 4, where people will be able to welcome her as she enters the harbour under the Burlington Lift Bridge. The boat will spend the summer at the Heddle Marine shipyard as permanent cradles are affixed and some early restoration work is carried out.

On September 7th, Ojibwa will arrive by barge in Port Burwell, on the north shore of Lake Erie. Then, on the 8th, the 300-foot long, five-story high submarine will be transported overland to the location that will be her permanent home. After extensive restoration over the upcoming winter, Ojibwa will be opened for tours in the summer of 2013


Great Lakes Engineering Works Ashtabula Harbor

5/28 - As April and May pass into history this year it should be noted that 100 years ago the Great Lakes Engineering Works (GLEW), located in the Ashtabula Harbor, built and launched its first steel ship, the Louis R. Davidson. The Ashtabula GLEW shipyard (1911 1961) was located where Jack’s Marina (Phelps family) is today on Great Lakes Avenue and the Ashtabula River. The Louis R. Davidson’s keel (Hull # 95) was laid on October 30, 1911. On April 6, 1912 it appeared the entire city and/or county turned out to watch all the excitement of their first launch.

The Louis R. Davidson was built for the American Steamship Co. of Buffalo, N.Y. The dimensions were: 524 loa, 504 lbp x 56 x 30; 6356 GRT, 4996 NRT. She was powered by a 1760 ihp triple-expansion steam engine and two coal-fired Scotch marine boilers. Her maiden voyage was made on May 29, 1912, 100 years ago.

Due to the inherent design limitations of wood, steel evolved as the material of choice for shipbuilding late in the 19th century because of its high tensile strength, greater longevity and non-flammable properties.

GLEW, a Detroit shipbuilding firm, set out on a course that would span 59 years. They built 297 vessels of various types at their shipyards (a total of 526 hulls). At its inception in 1902, they were located in Detroit, Michigan, along the Detroit River. In 1903, they purchased 85 acres of land for expanded building and service work. This was in the community of Ecorse, Michigan. The yard was located just downriver from the mouth of the Rouge River at the then-well known Smith Coal Dock. This is also the shipyard where the Ashtabula car ferry was built in 1906.

The Ashtabula editor of the Beacon, Ed E. Large received a news release dated, August 28, 1909. This letter explained/announced the planned construction of the GLEW expansion at the port of Ashtabula in 1910-1911. The 48-acre plot of land was first purchased from both the Pennsylvania Railroad and the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern Railroad (name changed later to the New York Central System). The City of Ashtabula made the purchase from the railroads then passed all of it over to GLEW. A copy of an original nine-page letter was recently donated to the Ashtabula Maritime Museum by local Ashtabula businessman Edward Loftus.

The last ship built by the GLEW and the Ashtabula Ship Yard was the supply boat Ojibway (Hull# 526). It was launched on December 11, 1946 for the Pittsburgh Steamship Company, Cleveland Ohio.

The GLEW Ashtabula Ship Yard was put up for sale in the late 1950s. Early in 1961 Great Lakes Steel Corporation offered to purchase GLEW. The company’s interest was in real estate for an expansion of a steel plant in Michigan – they had no interest in the shipyard. Finally, Amship purchased all of GLEW’s patterns and drawings, the floating dry dock (Hull #4) and the shipyard in Ashtabula, which was dismantled and sold back to the City of Ashtabula. Local diver and business owner Jack Phelps purchased the property and named it Jack’s Marina. It is operated today by his wife and two sons. One building and the dry dock are still visible on the property.

Much of the information in this article is from Ashtabula Maritime & Surface Transportation Museum’s records along with the 2008 book by The Marine Historical Society of Detroit, Inc., “The Great Lakes Engineering Works, The Shipyard and its Vessels.”

Assembled and written by the Ashtabula Maritime & Surface Transportation Museum’s Director Bob Frisbie.


Today in Great Lakes History -  May 28

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

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

1935 THOMAS LYNCH and the Norwegian freighter BA collided on a foggy Lake Superior and the former received a hole above the waterline. The saltwater vessel dated from 1921 and was torpedoed and lost in the North Atlantic on July 8, 1941, as c) INGA I.

1942 JACK was torpedoed by U-155 and sunk on the Caribbean while about 100 miles southwest of Port Salut, Haiti. There were 37 lives lost among the 63 reported on board. The ship had been built at Lorain, Ohio, as a) LAKE FRESCO in 1919 and returned inland for package freight service as b) JACK in 1925.

1942 TINDEFJELL came to the Great Lakes for the Fjell Line beginning in 1937. It was taken over by the Germans in April 1941, while at a Norwegian port, and renamed SPERRBRECHER 174 in December. It is reported to have hit a mine and sunk off Dunkirk, France, on this date in 1942.

1982 The tug COMANCHE had an electrical fire while at DeTour, MI, and the blaze destroyed the cabins and pilothouse. The hull was surrendered to the underwriters on June 14 and it later sank while under tow off Ludington on December 12, 1985.

2006 The pilot boat PLACENTIA PILOT was built at Wheatley, ON, in 2000 and left the Great Lakes that December for service at Newfoundland. The ship hit the rocks and had to be beached while trying to put a pilot on the tanker TUVAQ. The ship was listed as a total loss but was salvaged. At last report, it was on a trailer at Port Hawkesbury, NS pending repairs as b) STRAIT EAGLE.

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


Badger makes it home and sails anew

5/27 - Ludington, Mich. – Car horns and waving fans greeted the SS Badger, which returned the greetings with several salutes of its own, as it made it back to Ludington about 5:30 p.m. Friday. The Badger docked at 5:47 p.m., more than 32 hours after the carferry left for Manitowoc, Wisconsin. Most of the passengers, however, were on buses still heading back around the lake.

Typically the cross-lake ferry makes a trip over and back during the day. But on this first trip of the year, the starboard engine had piston trouble while docking across Lake Michigan.

With three pistons replaced, the Badger crew still had work to do. On Friday night the crew was going to replace one damaged cylinder, replace that cylinders rings and have the Badger ready for sailing Saturday morning and resumption of the 2012 season.

The Badger left Manitowoc around 12:40 p.m. Central Time (1:40 Eastern). With one blast of whistle – a far cry from the whistle-call trades as the Badger left Ludington Thursday – the boat moved from the dock, slipped out of the harbor, and set sail on Lake Michigan for Ludington.

It went under its own power and the decision was made that the P.M. Shipping tug Undaunted did not need to accompany it. The carferry was traveling a slower than normal speed about. 8-10 knots, to break in the new piston cylinder rings.

Ludington Daily News


Port Reports -  May 27

St. Marys River
Saturday’s upbound traffic included Indiana Harbor, Greenwing, Lakes Contender/Ken Boothe Sr. and Frontenac. Great Republic, Algoma Guardian, Atlantic Erie, Burns Harbor, Herbert C. Jackson and Edwin H. Gott were downbound. Lakes Contender/Ken Boothe Sr. tied up above the locks after their upbound passage in order to evacuate an injured crewmember. No further details were available. The vessel is bound for Marquette.

Marblehead, Ohio - Jim Spencer
The tug Dorothy Ann and barge Pathfinder loaded Saturday at the LaFarge dock on Marblehead Peninsula.

Buffalo, N.Y. – Brian W.
The tug Rebecca Lynn and barge departed Saturday between 7-8 a.m.


Cruising season gets going on the Great Lakes

5/27 - Detroit, Mich. – When the cruise ship Yorktown makes its maiden voyage next month into the Great Lakes, it will do more than bring its passengers into Michigan's most scenic tourist destinations.

The arrival of this recently renovated, 138-passenger cruise ship heralds the commitment of its owner, Travel Dynamics International of New York, to the Great Lakes. It also highlights Detroit's new dock, showing off the city, its entertainment venues and its hotels to cruise companies, travel agents and tourists.

The Great Lakes cruising season started this week. The Blount Small Ship Adventures' Grande Mariner is scheduled to stop at Wyandotte on Wednesday. Motoring through the lakes on ships that carry as few as 80 berths has emerged as a viable industry in part because of international marketing of the vistas, natural flora and fauna, and city stops that appeal to the more mature traveler, tourism experts say.

Michigan is not a big cruise player. The state ranked No. 18 in the nation in total economic impact of the North American cruise industry in 2010, the most recent data available, according to the Cruise Lines International Association, a trade group in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

But industry players hope the growing array of ships traveling the lakes will continue and boost revenues in Metro Detroit as cruisers add days and activities in shoreline tourism to their itineraries.

Finding new cruise lines and wooing larger vessels here is a full-time job for Stephen Burnett, head of the Great Lakes Cruising Coalition a consortium of governments, municipalities and port authorities that pledged to revamp the small-boat cruising tradition.

Burnett said he is traveling overseas later this month to try to convince two European cruise lines to bring ships that could carry as many as 400 passengers each to the Great Lakes.

"If (cruise lines) make money, they come back," Burnett said. "And every cruise ship that comes into the Great Lakes makes money. There's tremendous opportunity here."

The Great Lakes are a popular niche travel destination, said Christopher U. Conlin, president of Great Lakes Cruise Co., a division of his Ann Arbor-based Conlin Travel, which books lakes cruises.

It is easy to reach for the industry's older clientele, many of whom have tired of larger onboard crowds, Conlin said. And the new Detroit port is an appealing launching point for the cruises' largely out-of-state travelers, offering nearby hotels and a short drive from Detroit Metro Airport.

But the trips are expensive. The average berth for a seven-day, all-inclusive cruise costs around $2,500 per person; some longer cruises can be around $9,000.

Prices are high because the ships are smaller and there aren't the economies of scale, Conlin said. And they are not family-friendly; they feature onboard history and geography lectures by local professors.

"It is for a more limited audience that wants to learn as they travel and wants their hotel to move with them," Conlin said. "And they want their food and dining to be terrific."

Blount Small Ship Adventures of Warren, R.I., has been taking passengers through the Great Lakes since 1984. The company started in Michigan in 1967 with a river cruise across the tip of Lake Ontario, said President Nancy Blount.

"One of our most popular itineraries is our Great American Waterways (Rhode Island to Chicago), which encompasses four of the Great Lakes, the Hudson River and the Erie Canal," she said.

Blount is a newly converted fan as well of the Detroit port. "I felt that Detroit had so much to offer our clientele and loved the sights such as Detroit Institute of Arts, The Henry Ford and Greenfield Village," she said.

Area tour companies and the region benefit from the pre- and post-cruise excursions. Blount and Travel Dynamics International offer day trips as well as overnight extensions. TDI organizes a one-night stay at the Atheneum Suite Hotel in Detroit, a half-day tour of the city and transfers between the hotel and pier.

Taylor-based Biano Tours General Manager Brad DePoole said the company works with Blount to create dozens of Detroit-area itineraries.

Some involve the casinos, he said, but most cruisers seek educational events that focus on the region's architectural and automotive history.

A chance to visit all five of the Great Lakes drew Clarence and Ethel Thomas of Baltimore, veterans of 60 cruises, to a two-week excursion in September 2011. The couple, both 75, sailed on the M/V Columbus, part of the European Hapag-Lloyd line.

The small ship, which carried 248 passengers, started in Toronto with stops in Windsor, Sault St. Marie, Thunder Bay, Duluth, Mackinac Island and Traverse City, finishing at Chicago's Navy Pier.

"We have visited 75 foreign countries and all seven continents, many by cruise ship and some by land tour," Clarence Thomas said. "The rustic beauty of this part of North America is outstanding."

Thomas admits he would hesitate to sail on a smaller ship, as the Great Lakes can be just as rough as any ocean.

But the Columbus has left the company's fleet this month, said spokeswoman Cindy Tanenbaum, so the company will no longer be represented here despite its fondness for the area.

W. Steven Olinek, deputy director of the Detroit/Wayne County Port Authority, said he and others give regular tours of the new dock facility to charter companies and tour operators from around the globe. The goal is to show them highlights of the region, including the museums and other points of interest, Olinek said.

"We realize we'll never have the economies of scale that the Caribbean has," he said. "But if we didn't have this facility, the ships would be sailing by and going elsewhere. And we don't want that."

The Detroit News


Today in Great Lakes History -  May 27

Today in Great Lakes History - May 27 CANADIAN PIONEER (Hull#67) was launched May 27, 1981, at St. Catharines, Ontario, by Port Weller Drydocks Ltd. for Upper Lakes Shipping Ltd. She was renamed b.) PIONEER in 1987.

NANTICOKE was christened in 1980, for Canada Steamship Lines Ltd.

CHARLES DICK (Hull#71) was launched in 1922, at Collingwood, Ontario by Collingwood Shipbuilding Co. Ltd. for National Sand & Material Co. Ltd.

The PETER REISS left Duluth, Minnesota May 27, 1910, on her maiden voyage with iron ore for Ashtabula, Ohio. She was converted to a self-unloader in 1949, and scrapped at Ramey's Bend in 1973.

HENRY STEINBRENNER was towed from Toledo's Lakefront Dock in 1994, for the scrap yard at Port Maitland, Ontario.

The tug SMITH burned near Bay City, Michigan, on 27 May 1872. Her loss was valued at $7,000 but there was no insurance on her.

The ferry SARNIA made her first trip as a carferry between Port Huron and Sarnia on 27 May 1879. She had burned in January 1879, then was converted to a carferry and served in that capacity during the summer. In September, 1879, she was converted to a barge.

The tug GORMAN, sunk by the steamer CITY OF BUFFALO was raised. She is not much injured. The local steamboat inspectors have taken up the case of the collision. The crew of the tug claim that their boat was run over by the CITY OF BUFFALO and the appearance of the wreck carries out their declaration, for the tug shows that the steamer struck her straight aft.

27 May 1898 - The tug WINSLOW arrived in Bay City, Michigan, from Georgian Bay with a raft of logs for Eddy Bros. & Co. The tug NIAGARA arrived from the same bay with a raft for Pitts & Co. The saw mills along the Saginaw river are now nearly all in operation.

1933 GEORGE M. COX hit Rock of Ages Reef in Lake Superior on its first trip after previous service as PURITAN. The vessel had 121 passengers and freight on board when it struck the reef in the early morning hours in fog. The ship hung at a precarious angle until all were rescued and then, during an October storm, the vessel slid back into deep water.

Data from: Skip Gillham, Jody Aho, Joe Barr, Dave Swayze, Father Dowling Collection, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series, Bowling Green State University, the Detroit Free Press and the Duluth Evening Herald.


Port Reports -  May 26

Twin Ports - Al Miller
Twin Ports vessel traffic Friday included Burns Harbor departing through Superior Entry early in the morning, passing CSL Assiniboine, which was inbound for the BNSF ore dock. Elsewhere, Emilie was loading grain at CHS 1 in Superior. HHL Congo was docked in CHS berth 2, but was pulled up so far in the slip that it wasn’t under the loading spouts. Kwintebank was docked at Garfield C dock in Duluth waiting to load at CHS. Joseph L. Block was unloading stone at CN ore dock in Duluth and, later in the morning, James R. Barker arrived at Midwest Energy Terminal to load coal for Taconite Harbor.

Marquette, Mich. - Rod Burdick
Michipicoten and Great Republic arrived Friday morning at the Upper Harbor for ore. H. Lee White dropped anchor outside the Lower Harbor late Thursday night waiting for winds to subside before sailing on to Duluth.

Alpena, Mich. - Ben & Chanda McClain
The tug G.L Ostrander and barge Integrity were in port on Thursday to load cement. The Alpena arrived overnight to take on product and left Friday morning for Milwaukee. Earlier in the week, the Manistee brought a load of coal to Lafarge.

Stoneport, Mich. - Dan McNeil
Loading on Saturday will be the Lewis J. Kuber and Arthur M. Anderson. Due to load on Sunday is the John G. Munson. Due to load on Monday is Mississagi, Great Republic, Herbert C. Jackson and Cason J. Callaway.

Saginaw River - Todd Shorkey
Traffic remained steady on the Saginaw River, as three vessels called on various docks during the day Friday. Algorail led the parade, traveling upriver to unload at the Sargent dock in Zilwaukee. She was followed by Mississagi, which stopped briefly at the Bay Aggregates dock, before traveling up to the Wirt Stone dock in Bay City. Last in was the Olive L. Moore - Lewis J. Kuber, who called on the Bay Aggregates dock in Bay City. Mississagi was outbound early Friday evening, with the Algorail and Moore-Kuber expected to be outbound late Friday evening.

Lorain, Ohio - Phil Leon
At 6:45 a.m. Thursday the American Courage was south of the Henderson Bridge docked at the Jonick dock. She left port shortly before midnight for Toledo.

Buffalo, N.Y. - Brian W.
The Rebecca Lynn - A-397 was still unloading at Noco Friday afternoon.The Michigan-Great Lakes did not depart last night. They ended up at the Marathon dock in Tonawanda until departing about 7 Friday morning.


Badger returns to Ludington; expected to resume schedule on Saturday

5/26 - Lake Michigan Carferry's Badger was en route back to Ludington as of 12:35 (Eastern time) Friday afternoon, finally leaving Manitowoc, Wisconsin, after spending almost a full day in the harbor there.

The Badger made it across Lake Michigan and had trouble with a starboard engine piston as it was about to dock Thursday on its first sailing of the season, causing the carferry to end up hung up on silt in the Manitowoc harbor. It was tugged to the dock later in the afternoon Thursday, where it sat until almost a full day later.

The more than 300 passengers dispersed, some Thursday and others staying on board overnight waiting until buses and vans picked them up Friday just before 11 a.m. (Eastern).

Three pistons were replaced while the carferry was docked. More engine work was expected to continue as the vessel returned to Ludington.

Lake Michigan Carferry issued a statement that said the Badger would resume its normal schedule on Saturday.

Ludington Daily News


Today in Great Lakes History -  May 26

On 26 May 1888, BLANCHE (2-mast wooden schooner, 95 foot, 92 gross tons, built in 1874, at Mill Point, Ontario) was carrying coal with a crew of five on Lake Ontario. She was lost in a squall somewhere between Oswego, New York and Brighton, Ontario.

In 1979, the FRED R. WHITE JR. departed the shipyard on her maiden voyage to load iron ore pellets at Escanaba, Michigan for Cleveland, Ohio.

The J.A.W. IGLEHART began its maiden Great Lakes voyage in 1965, for the Huron Portland Cement Co. The straight deck bulk freighter FRANKCLIFFE HALL began its maiden voyage in 1963. Deepened and converted to a self-unloader in 1980. She was renamed b.) HALIFAX in 1988.

SCOTT MISENER (Hull#14) was launched in 1954, at St. Catharines, Ontario by Port Weller Drydocks Ltd. for Colonial Steamships Ltd. She was scrapped at Alang, India in 1990.

In 1923, the ANN ARBOR NO 4 was towed to the shipyard in Manitowoc, Wisconsin by the ANN ARBOR NO 5 with the assistance of the tug ARCTIC. The NO 4 was completely overhauled and had all new cabins built on her main deck.

QUEEN OF THE LAKES was launched at the Kirby & Ward yard in Wyandotte, Michigan on 26 May 1872. She was the first iron-hulled vessel built in Michigan.

On 26 May 1873, the iron propeller revenue cutter GEO S. BOUTWELL (Hull#15) was launched at D. Bell Steam Engine Works in Buffalo, New York. Her dimensions were 140 feet x 22 feet x 17.5 feet, 151 gross tons. She served out of Savannah, Georgia (1874-1899) and Newbern, North Carolina (1899-1907).

The tug GORMAN, which was sunk by the steamer CITY OF BUFFALO was raised today. She is not much injured. The local steamboat inspectors have taken up the case of the collision. The crew of the tug claim that their boat was run over by the CITY OF BUFFALO and the appearance of the wreck carries out their declaration, for the tug shows that the steamer struck her straight aft.

1926 The self-unloader ALPENA delivered the first cargo of coal, 4,000 tons, to the new Detroit Edison steam generating power plant at Marysville, MI.

1982 ROLAND DESGAGNES ran aground off Pointe au Pic, Q.C . The ship floated free with the high tide only to sink on May 27 at 4 am due to hull damage. All on board were saved and the cargo of salt dissolved. The hull rests upright on the bottom in about 300 feet of water.

1984 The Norwegian freighter WILFRED first visited the Seaway in 1966. It went aground on this day in 1984 as b) PSILI at Buenos Aires, Argentina. The vessel was refloated and returned to service. It last sailed as c) GLORY BAY and arrived at Dalian, China, for scrapping on September 18, 1986.

Data from: Skip Gillham, Jody Aho, Max Hanley, Joe Barr, Dave Swayze, Father Dowling Collection, Historical Collections of the Great Lakes, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series, the Detroit Free Press and the Duluth Evening Herald.


Badger makes it to dock after engine problems

5/25 - Manitowoc, Wis. – The Badger arrived at its Manitowoc, Wisconsin, dock around 4:30 p.m. Thursday, thanks to an assist from the tug William C. Selvick. The passengers let out a loud cheer as the carferry arrived, some four-plus hours after it was scheduled. Repairs are to be made to a starboard engine piston that caused a delay leading to the vessel getting stuck in Manitowoc harbor before the carferry can return home to Ludington.

The Badger was scheduled to arrive from Ludington, Mich., at noon Thursday with 335 passengers and 65 vehicles, but it was 4:20 p.m. when the horn signaling the vessel’s arrival finally sounded.

The car ferry spent a few hours stranded in the Manitowoc Harbor, not far from shore. The main problem was the wind, according to Del Whitmire, office manager at the Manitowoc ticket office. The Badger got caught in a strong south wind and was unable to maneuver into port, he said.

A maintenance issue compounded the problem. A piston ring in the starboard engine failed shortly before the boat arrived in the harbor, causing a loss of about 60 percent of the engine’s power, thereby restricting the Badger’s normal maneuverability, according to Bob Manglitz, president of Lake Michigan Carferry.

The day started off on a pleasant note for Lake Michigan Carferry, with a press conference in which the company announced it had submitted its permit application to the U.S. EPA a month early. LMC is fighting to keep its carferry operational while it pursues the possibility of changing from the use of coal to natural gas.

Manitowoc Herald Times, Ludington Daily News


Carferry Badger owners file for EPA individual permit

5/25 - Ludington, Mich. - Owners of the Badger Thursday filed their formal application to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to continue operating on Lake Michigan, citing test data demonstrating that the vessels discharges are well within the allowable limits set by Wisconsin, Michigan, and the EPA.

Multiple tests by EPA approved laboratories show that the Badger’s discharges are a small fraction of the amount that has been routinely approved for similar permits on the Great Lakes, said Bob Manglitz, president and chief executive officer of Lake Michigan Carferry (LMC). The materials discharged by the Badger that are tracked by the EPA are literally hundreds of times less than what others are permitted to discharge into Lake Michigan.

For example, he said, the total mercury discharge from the Badger over an entire year is two one-hundredths of an ounce, far less than what has been considered acceptable in other permits. In fact, 146 approved Great Lakes Clean Water Act individual permits on Lake Michigan discharge on average 36 times more mercury than the Badger, according to data from the highly respected Argonne National Laboratory. The Badger would have to operate for another 50 years for its mercury discharges to total a single ounce.

“Many solutions have been thoroughly studied, but none of them are both technologically and economically feasible at this time,” Manglitz said. “The permit application includes our continuing commitment to vessel discharge improvements, ongoing testing, and a promise to pursue other cleaner fuels. In particular, he said, LMC officials are aggressively pursuing a conversion to liquefied natural gas (LNG), a promising fuel for the maritime industry.

"This permit is a necessary part of our plan to make the Badger the greenest ship on the Great Lakes,” Manglitz said. “The infrastructure to supply natural gas and the technology to use the fuel on the Badger will take some time to develop but we are committed to it.”

The Badger is currently the model vessel for a federal study sponsored by the Maritime Administration of the U.S. Department of Transportation exploring the conversion of Great Lakes steamships to LNG as a fuel.

The 1,000 page permit application was filed more than a month before a deadline set by the EPA and seven months before the Badger’s current permit expires. The Badger is currently operating in strict accordance with requirements and standards in its current EPA permit. In 2008, EPA said the discharges were appropriate under the Clean Water Act given the lack of harm and the lack of feasible or affordable alternatives. At that time, EPA told the Badger’s owners to apply for an individual permit if no feasible alternative was found by 2012.

The Badger is the last coal-fired vessel operating in regular service in the United States. A passenger and vehicle ferry that operates between Ludington, Michigan, and Manitowoc, Wisconsin for five months each year, the vessel is a major tourist attraction in both states and supports hundreds of jobs there. The Badger currently operates under an EPA permit, but that permit will expire in December.

“Our company has done all that has been asked of us by the EPA in the Permit application process. Tests show that our discharges are well within the limits set by Michigan, Wisconsin and the EPA and less than 146 other permitees on the Great Lakes. All we ask is that we be treated fairly and in a timely manner,” Manglitz stated.

Lake Michigan Carferry Keewatin could depart Douglas sooner than thought Douglas, Mich. - The historic passenger ship Keewatin could be towed out of Douglas three days sooner than anticipated. The ship is now set to leave at 7 a.m. Wednesday, May 30, according to Felicia Fairchild, executive director of the Saugatuck Douglas Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The move depends on the weather and could be delayed until Thursday, May 31. The ship was originally scheduled to leave Saturday, June 2.

Saugatuck and Douglas officials will say farewell to the 105-year-old vessel on Monday, May 28, with a ceremony at the Union Street pier where the ship has been docked for more than four decades. The ceremony will be after the 10 a.m. Memorial Day parade and ceremony at Beery Field.

The 48-foot-wide vessel will be guided through a freshly dredged channel 50 feet wide along the west end of Kalamazoo Lake to the deeper water in front of Coral Gables. From there, the vessels will head out of the channel into Lake Michigan.

Once in the open water, the ship will be taken to Mackinaw City, where it will wait to be towed into Port McNicoll on June 23 the 100th anniversary of the when the ship first arrived in the port and the 45th anniversary of the year Douglas marine owner R.J. Peterson had it towed to West Michigan.

Bob VandeVusse, Holland Sentinel


Lake Michigan Carferry Keewatin could depart Douglas sooner than thought

5/25 - Douglas, Mich. - The historic passenger ship Keewatin could be towed out of Douglas three days sooner than anticipated. The ship is now set to leave at 7 a.m. Wednesday, May 30, according to Felicia Fairchild, executive director of the Saugatuck Douglas Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The move depends on the weather and could be delayed until Thursday, May 31. The ship was originally scheduled to leave Saturday, June 2.

Saugatuck and Douglas officials will say farewell to the 105-year-old vessel on Monday, May 28, with a ceremony at the Union Street pier where the ship has been docked for more than four decades. The ceremony will be after the 10 a.m. Memorial Day parade and ceremony at Beery Field.

The 48-foot-wide vessel will be guided through a freshly dredged channel 50 feet wide along the west end of Kalamazoo Lake to the deeper water in front of Coral Gables. From there, the vessels will head out of the channel into Lake Michigan.

Once in the open water, the ship will be taken to Mackinaw City, where it will wait to be towed into Port McNicoll on June 23 the 100th anniversary of the when the ship first arrived in the port and the 45th anniversary of the year Douglas marine owner R.J. Peterson had it towed to West Michigan.

Bob VandeVusse, Holland Sentinel


Port Reports -  May 25

Grand Haven, Mich. - Dick Fox
The Pere Marquette 41 and tug Undaunted delivered a load to Verplank’s Dock in Ferrysburg Wednesday afternoon. The barge Cleveland Rocks and tug Bradshaw McKee delivered a load there early on Thursday.

Saginaw River – Todd Shorkey
Manistee was inbound the Saginaw River on Wednesday, carrying a split cargo. She unloaded a partial load at the Lafarge Stone dock in Essexville before traveling upriver to finish her unload at the Lafarge Stone dock in Saginaw. Manistee was outbound Thursday morning. After unloading at the Sargent dock in Zilwaukee, Algorail was outbound for the lake Wednesday night. Thursday morning saw the arrival of Algoway, traveling upriver to unload at the Sargent dock in Zilwaukee. She completed her unload and was outbound for the lake Thursday night. The Canadian Coast Guard vessel Limnos spent the day in out in Saginaw Bay.


Today in Great Lakes History -  May 25

On 25 May 1889, JAMES GARRETT (3-mast wooden schooner, 138 foot, 266 gross tons, built in 1868, at Sheboygan, Wisconsin) was driven ashore at Whitefish Bay near Sheboygan, Wisconsin, on Lake Michigan in a gale. She was pounded to pieces by the end of the month. No lives were lost.

On May 25, 1898, the PRESQUE ISLE (Hull#30) was launched at the Cleveland Shipbuilding Company in Cleveland, Ohio. The vessel is much better known as the cement carrier E.M. FORD, recently scrapped. May 25, 1941 -- The former Pere Marquette carferry PERE MARQUETTE 17 was re-christened CITY OF PETOSKEY.

The wooden schooner J C DAUN was in her first year of service when she encountered a squall in Lake Erie on 25 May 1847, and she capsized five miles off Conneaut, Ohio. Four of the eleven on board were able to make it to her upturned keel, but one of them died of exposure during the night. In the morning, the schooner UNCLE SAM rescued the three remaining survivors. Later the steamer SARATOGA found the DAUN floating upside down, fully rigged with the bodies of some of the crew still lashed to the rigging. The DAUN was righted a few days later and towed in by the schooner D SMART.

On 25 May 1854, DETROIT (wooden side-wheeler, 157 foot, 354 tons, built in 1846, at Newport, Michigan) was sailing from Detroit to Chicago with two lumber scows in tow. On Lake Huron, she collided with the bark NUCLEUS in heavy fog and sank. The exact location (15 miles off Pointe aux Barques) was not known until the wreck was discovered in 200 feet of water on 5 June 1994, by Dave Trotter and his determined divers.

1906 The HOWARD L. SHAW was in an unusual accident and passed between the cable of the CORALIA and her barge MAIA, raking the top of the pilothouse, deck, stack and spars before the ship went aground. The hull of HOWARD L. SHAW survives today as a breakwall at Toronto.

Data from: Skip Gillham, Jody Aho, Max Hanley, Joe Barr, Dave Swayze, Father Dowling Collection, Historical Collections of the Great Lakes, Ahoy & Farewell II 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.


Badger’s first arrival into Manitowoc for the season ran into problems

5/24 - Manitowoc, Wis. 5:30 p.m. update - The tug William C. Selvick tug has arrived in the Manitowoc to help bring the Badger to its dock. The Badger's starboard engine lost a piston just as it was pulling into the dock on the carferry's first cross-lake sailing of the season.

The Badger made it almost 450 feet from its dock before the problem occurred and the carferry got hung up on sand in the harbor. Because of the loss of the engine, the Badger was pulled too far into the sand bar and because of a south wind blowing, there was not enough power to get out of the sand. Once the Badger is brought to the dock, crews have to fix the piston.

The hope is to have the repairs done in a couple of hours and get the Badger back to Ludington around midnight.

5 p.m.  - A tug is on scene assisting the S.S. Badger to the dock.

A strong south wind has prevented the ship from maneuvering into port, according to Del Whitmire, Badger Manitowoc office manager. The Badger also has a maintenance issue on the starboard side engine, however, it's the wind which is preventing entry into the dock. A tug service has been contacted out of Sturgeon Bay to assist with docking. The crew expected to be on location by 3 p.m. local time to operate a tug already docked in Manitowoc.  

4 p.m. update - The newspapers in Ludington and Manitowoc report that the 410-foot Badger has run aground on a shoaling in the Wisconsin harbor some 450 feet from the dock. As of mid-afternoon, the Badger apparently is unable to dock at its destination with passengers and crew remaining on board, the newspapers report.

Lake Michigan Carferry Director of Media Relations Terri Brown told The Chronicle from onboard the vessel that the Badger was “having mechanical issues” but she could not elaborate until further information was available. A report from a passenger on board was that Badger officials were saying that the ferry had engine trouble and were told that it would take two or three hours to get the Badger to its dock and that Lake Michigan Carferry officials were attempting to lineup tugboats to assist.

The Badger left Ludington at 9:15 a.m. Michigan time Thursday and was expected to arrive in Wisconsin at 1 p.m. Michigan time, noon local time. The Badger was schedule to leave Manitowoc at 3 p.m. Michigan time and arrive back in its home port at 7 p.m.

Increasingly strong southern winds are expected to create high waves on Lake Michigan this afternoon and this evening. Waves at mid-lake were to reach 8 feet this afternoon and potentially 12 feet tonight with gale warnings in effect, the National Weather Service reports.

Muskegon Chronicle


Port Reports -  May 24

Marquette, Mich. - Rod Burdick
Two tug and barge combinations visited the Upper Harbor on Wednesday. Dorothy Ann and Pathfinder unloaded stone into the hopper and loaded ore in the morning and Invincible and McKee Sons arrived in the afternoon to load ore. Lee A. Tregurtha was due later in the evening for ore.

St. Marys River
Upbound traffic Wednesday included Kwintebank, Joseph L. Block and Burns Harbor early, with Atlantic Erie and Edwin G. Gott later in the day. A parade of downbounders was led by Tecumseh in the early morning, followed by Stewart J. Cort, Indiana Harbor, Algoma Transport, Algoma Quebecois, Algolake and Algoma Discovery.

Milwaukee, Wis. - Chris Wesendorf
Ken Boothe Sr. and the barge Lakes Contender arrived in Milwaukee Wednesday morning and were unloading coal.

Saginaw River – Todd Shorkey
H. Lee White made a rare appearance on the Saginaw River early Wednesday morning. Calling on the Bay Aggregates Dock in Bay City, she backed into the slip and was unloading there early in the afternoon. Also arriving Wednesday morning was the Algorail, which traveled upriver to unload at the Sargent Dock in Zilwaukee. Both vessels were expected to be outbound for the lake later in the day.

Lorain, Ohio - Jim Bobel
Tuesday night the Philip R. Clarke backed out of the Black River in Lorain, Ohio, after dropping off a load of stone at the Jonick Dock.

Sandusky - Marblehead, Ohio - Jim Spencer
It was a busier day than usual at Sandusky's Norfolk-Southern coal dock Wednesday. The Rt. Hon. Paul J. Martin arrived from Nanticoke with the breaking of day and began loading for Hamilton. Behind the Martin by mid-afternoon was the Algowood, which began loading upon departure of the Martin. Algowood was also bound for Hamilton, and was expected to sail early Thursday. At the LaFarge dock on Marblehead Peninsula, American Courage was loading Wednesday for Toledo.


Essar Steel begins work on tailings basin

5/24 - Duluth, Minn. – Construction of Minnesota’s first new iron-ore mining and taconite plant operations in 35 years continues near Nashwauk, with work beginning this week on a tailings basin for Essar Steel Minnesota. The tailings basin will hold the liquid slurry waste that’s left over after valuable taconite is pulled out of the rock during processing.

Essar officials are asking the public to stay out of the tailings basin construction area located south of Nashwauk and south of Minnesota Highway 169, near Swan Lake. New dikes will be built for the system that will recycle all the water used in taconite production.

“No trespassing” signs are posted across the area that’s part of the sprawling, 20,000-acre Essar complex, much of which was the former Butler Taconite operation that closed in 1985.

Meanwhile, steel continues to go up for buildings at the new taconite plant, with Essar officials saying mining could begin late this year or early in 2013. Concrete already has been poured, rail lines laid and electric lines to the site are ready.

Actual taconite processing is slated to start in May 2013, said Kevin Kangas, director of environmental and government affairs for Essar Minnesota. “Everything is moving ahead well at this time. We’ve got a lot of activity going on,” Kangas said.

Essar has permits and financing in hand to build a 7 million ton-per-year taconite operation that would rival Hibbing Taconite as the state’s second-largest, behind only Minntac in Mountain Iron. The Essar operation will employ about 300 people. The total cost of the project is expected to hit $1.7 billion, one of Minnesota’ most expensive construction projects ever.

Taconite will run out on either BNSF or CN rail lines and then on to Essar’s Algoma steel mill in Canada, to other U.S. mills through the spot market or even as far as Essar steel mills in India, company officials say.

The company also has plans to use its Nashwauk taconite to make direct-reduced iron to feed the first-ever electric arc steel mill at the site to produce slab steel — a long-held dream of Iron Range leaders who for more than a century have seen iron ore shipped out and made into finished products elsewhere.

It would be the first such facility — with mine, processing and mill at the same location — in the U.S. But no decision on the steel mill has been made yet, Kangas said. That decision will be made by Essar Steel Minnesota’s parent company based on the strength of U.S. steel demand, which has lagged for the last four years as the nation battles out of a recession.

“We’re focused on the herculean task of building an entire taconite operation from scratch,” Kangas said. “The decision on a steel mill, for which we already have permits, will come down the line.”

The steel mill portion of the project would add another $1 billion to the cost of the project and another 100 employees.

Essar Steel Minnesota is a subsidiary of Mumbai, India-based steel giant Essar Group, a $20 billion firm with about 70,000 employees worldwide.

Duluth News Tribune


Updates -  May 24

News Photo Gallery


Today in Great Lakes History -  May 24

On 24 May 1872, the wooden schooner SAM ROBINSON was carrying corn from Chicago, Illinois to Kingston, Ontario in dense fog on Lake Michigan. At 7:30 a.m. the propeller MANISTEE collided with the schooner and almost cut her in two amidships. When the MANISTEE backed away, the schooner went over on its starboard side and its masts smashed the MANISTEE's pilothouse and cabins. Luckily the ROBINSON's crew launched their lifeboat before the schooner sank and they were picked up by the MANISTEE and taken to Milwaukee.

In 1980, the 1,000 foot m/v BURNS HARBOR was christened for the Wilmington Trust Co., (Bethlehem Steel Co., Mgr.) Wilmington, DE.

The CANADIAN OLYMPIC (Hull#60) was launched in 1976, at St. Catharines, Ontario by Port Weller Drydocks Ltd. for Upper Lakes Shipping Ltd.

CHICAGO TRADER arrived at Ashtabula, Ohio on May 24, 1977, for scrapping (scrapping did not begin until May 1, 1978, by Triad Salvage Inc.)

The CLIFFS VICTORY set a record (by 2 minutes) for the fastest time from Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan to Duluth, Minnesota in 1953. She logged a time of 17 hours and 50 minutes. The CHARLES M. WHITE had been declared the fastest earlier that year by the Cleveland papers.

ALEXANDER B. MOORE was launched at Bangor, Michigan on 24 May 1873. She was built by Theophilus Boston at a cost of $85,000. She was 247 foot overall, 223 foot keel and could carry 70,000 bushels of grain. Although designed as a 4-mast schooner, she was built as a 3-master. The fourth mast was added two years later.

On 24 May 1875, the schooner NINA was bound from Michael's Bay to Goderich, Ontario, when she sprang a leak and went down in mid-lake. Her crew escaped in the yawl, but were adrift on Lake Huron for two days and two nights with only one loaf of bread to divide among themselves.

1953 The TERNEFJELL of 1948 first came to the Great Lakes that year for the Fjell Line and made 17 inland voyages through 1953. It sank on this date off Start Point in the English Channel following a collision with the DOTTERELL.

1980 LAKE WINNIPEG struck the breakwall at Duluth departing with a cargo of grain, and stranded the next day in the St. Marys River near Detour Village, after a steering gear problem.

1982 CORONADO visited the Great Lakes in 1972 and returned as c) HOLSTENBURG in 1974. It went aground on this date in 1982 as e) ARISTEA T. in the eastern Mediterranean enroute from Port Sudan, Sudan, to Lisbon, Portugal. The ship was refloated on June 6 but deemed a total loss and, on November 2, 1982, was scuttled off Pylos, Greece.

1983 LAKE NIPIGON went aground off Port Colborne following a power failure and was released the next day with bow and bottom damage. The ship was repaired at Montreal.

2005 SEAPRINCESS II first came through the Seaway in 1988 and returned as c) SEARANGER II in 1994. It ran aground as e) STARLUCK off Necochea, Argentina, and about 7,000 tons of wheat had to be removed before the ship floated free. Later in the year, the vessel was sold for scrap and it arrived at Chittagong, Bangladesh, for dismantling on November 21, 2005.

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


Port Reports -  May 23

Twin Ports – Al Miller
Twin Ports vessel traffic at midday Tuesday included Kaministiqua loading coal at Midwest Energy Terminal, Americaborg at the Duluth port terminal to unload wind turbine parts, HHL Congo at CHS to load grain, and Emilie at anchor on the lake waiting for CHS.

Saginaw River – Todd Shorkey
The tug Gregory J. Busch and her deck barge arrived on the Saginaw River Monday afternoon, traveling upriver to her home dock in Carrollton. This is her first time back to her home port since July 30 last summer, as she spent the winter off the Saginaw River. On Tuesday, Manitowoc was inbound, late afternoon, headed up to Saginaw to unload at the GM dock. She was expected to be outbound late Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning.

Toledo, Ohio – Jim Hoffman
American Courage departed her winter layup berth at the former Interlake Iron Company Dock at Toledo and was outbound Maumee Bay around 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Lorain, Ohio – Phil Leon
Philip R. Clarke was just outside the Lorain harbor at 10:30 a.m. At 12:30 p.m. she was slowly moving past the Jonick dock and on down river.

Sandusky, Ohio – Jim Spencer
American Mariner sailed Tuesday afternoon for Ecorse, Mich. The 730-footer arrived at the NorfolkSouthern coal dock during the early hours Tuesday for the 11-hour process of loading the 260 rail cars of coal.


What’s new aboard Badger? Sailing season begins Thursday

5/23 - Ludington, Mich. – Passengers traveling on the 410-foot SS Badger during the 2012 sailing season will find a few new additions on the ship, including a new captain. Capt. Jeff Curtis and 18-year veteran Capt. Dean Hobbs will be in charge of the ship during the sailing season, which begins on Thursday and runs through mid October.

Curtis takes over for Hobbs’ previous counterpart, Capt. Kevin Fitch, who is now piloting research vessels for Grand Valley State University. Curtis is a 1985 graduate of the Great Lake Maritime Academy in Traverse City.

When he graduated from the academy there were not a lot of deck jobs available, according to Curtis, so he took a job as an able-bodied seaman, a skilled sailor, with Ford Motor Company. He also sailed the Gulf of Mexico as an able-bodied seaman. His first 1,000-footer on the Great Lakes was the Stewart J. Cort, where he was a third mate.

During his career Curtis has had many experiences with foreign and domestic shipping. He has been aboard ships with Russian, Filipino, South and Central American crews and all of that has brought about a taste for world cuisine, he said.

He spent the past 14 years bringing foreign ships through the Great Lakes under the Great Lakes Pilotage Act of 1960. The act requires foreign vessels and U.S. vessels sailing on register to have a Great Lakes-registered pilot when traversing the waters of the Great Lakes.

Meanwhile, Lake Michigan Carferry has made the ferry more barrier free by widening doors in the ferry’s hallways, Hobbs said.

In addition, Lake Michigan Carferry and the Mackinac Island Convention and Visitors Bureau are partnering to bring Wisconsin travelers to the two communities, according to Terri Brown, director of marketing/media relations for Lake Michigan Carferry.

“The SS Badger to Mackinac Island Adventure entices the Milwaukee and Green Bay, Wisconsin, regions to travel by means of the SS Badger to Ludington,” Brown said. “Upon their visit here, these visitors will be introduced to Ludington’s restaurants, lodging facilities, natural resources then eventually travel further north to Mackinac Island.

“The goal of Lake Michigan Carferry and the Mackinac Island Convention and Visitors Bureau, by means of joint advertising funds and effort, is to place visitors and tourism dollars in our regions,” she said. “In doing so, introduce new tourism opportunities to travelers from Wisconsin who may not be aware of the attractions our shoreline communities have to offer.”

2012 schedule – May 24-June 9
Badger leaves Ludington 9 a.m. arrives in Manitowoc at noon Central time. Leaves Manitowoc at 2 p.m. Central time and arrives in Ludington at 7 p.m.

Ludington Daily News


Ojibwa construction starts off with a bang

5/23 - It was an exciting day in Port Burwell Tuesday as representatives of the Elgin Military Museum and local dignitaries took part in the Groundbreaking Ceremony for Project Ojibwa. “We are all excited that this day has finally arrived,” said Museum Board member Jeff Booth. “Seeing work begin on the site suddenly makes it all seem very real.”

The groundbreaking began with a big bang when Project Coordinator Dan McNeil, Rear Admiral ret’d., set off his miniature starter’s cannon to signal the start of the construction program. After all the work and struggles, it came down to a simple shout, “Let’s get started,” from a happy McNeil.

The regional excitement about Ojibwa was captured by local MPP Jeff Yurek when he said, “In addition to bringing history to the area, the Ojibwa will also be a catalyst for rebuilding the tourist industry in the area.” Construction of the foundation will start next week. “From now on you will see a lot of activity here,” said McNeil.

Weather cooperating, Ojibwa is scheduled to leave Halifax this Saturday to begin her journey to Hamilton. Ojibwa will be placed on the permanent foundation on September 8.


National Maritime Day celebrated in Port of Duluth-Superior

5/23 - Duluth, Minn. – U.S. Merchant Marine veterans, current seafarers, and maritime industry stakeholders gathered Tuesday to celebrate National Maritime Day in the Port of Duluth-Superior.

National Maritime Day commemorates the first steam vessel crossing of the Atlantic Ocean on May 22, 1819, when the SS Savannah sailed from her home port in Georgia bound for Liverpool, England. Established to recognize the value and importance of this nations maritime industry, it evolved into a day to honor merchant mariners for their legacy of service and sacrifice having safeguarded our country and its trade corridors during World War II and other armed conflicts around the world. Today, Maritime Day is observed as a combined salute to merchant mariners and the entire maritime industry, focusing attention on the benefits maritime brings to America’s economy, trade, national security, employment, recreation and quality of life.

Keynote speaker for Maritime Day was Minnesota 8th District Congressman Chip Cravaack.


Central Marine Logistics seeks marine engineer

5/23 - Central Marine Logistics is accepting applications for Chicago-based Marine Engineer. Position requires at least a USCG Limited Chief Engineer License. Interested candidates should email resume to:


Today in Great Lakes History -  May 23

UNIQUE (wooden propeller passenger steamer, 163 foot, 381 gross tons, built in 1894, at Marine City, Michigan) was sold to Philadelphia parties for service on the Delaware River. She left Ogdensburg, New York, on 23 May 1901, for Philadelphia. Her name was changed to DIAMOND STATE. In 1904, she was rebuilt as a yacht and lasted until 1915, when she burned in New York harbor.

The WILLIAM J. DE LANCEY was re-christened on May 23,1990, as b.) PAUL R. TREGURTHA. She is the largest ship on the Great Lakes and was the last Great Lakes ship built at American Ship Building Co., Lorain, Ohio.

American Steamship's H. LEE WHITE completed sea trials on May 23, 1974.

FRED R. WHITE Jr. completed her two-day sea trials in 1979.

The Tomlinson Fleet Corp.'s steel freighter SONOMA (Hull#610) was launched at West Bay City, Michigan, by West Bay City Ship Building Co. on 23 May 1903. She was 416 feet long, 4,539 gross tons. Through her career she had various names: DAVID S TROXEL in 1924, SONOMA in 1927 and finally FRED L. HEWITT in 1950. She was converted to an automobile carrier in 1928, converted back to a bulk carrier in 1942 and then converted to a barge for grain storage in 1955. She was finally scrapped in 1962, at Steel Co. of Canada Ltd. at Hamilton, Ontario.

On 23 May 1889, the wooden steam barge OSCAR T. FLINT (218 foot, 824 gross tons) was launched at the Simon Langell & Sons yard in St. Clair, Michigan. She lasted until 25 November 1909, when she burned and sank off Thunder Bay Island in Lake Huron.

1910 The first FRANK H. GOODYEAR, with a load of ore for Cleveland, was almost cut in two and sank off Pointe aux Barques following a collision in dense fog with the JOSEPH WOOD. Only 5 sailors survived while another 16 were lost.

1954 The EASTDALE, operating on charter to Reoch Transports, ran aground at Collingwood and was refloated May 29. The ship had also visited the Great Lakes as SPRINGDALE and was lost in the Gulf of Bothnia on June 18, 1959, when the cargo of timber shifted in heavy weather.

1959 The Liberian freighter ANDORA, outbound with a cargo of barley, stranded on a shoal below the Snell Lock and proved to be a difficult salvage. The ship initially broke free, spun around and grounded again and was not released until June 18. The cargo was unloaded but ANDORA was deemed not worth repairing and arrived at Savona, Italy, for dismantling on August 15, 1959.

1974 The Canadian tanker CARDINAL, best known as the former IMPERIAL WINDSOR, was badly damaged following a collision with the HENRY STEINBRENNER (iii), in Lake Erie off Point Pelee. The former was never repaired and subsequently scrapped, while the latter went to Lorain for about $100,000 worth of repairs.

1974 A fire broke out in the engine room of the ONTARIO during a voyage from Santos, Brazil, to Montreal and assistance was requested. The Canadian owned vessel had been upbound through the Seaway for the first time on November 8, 1973. The blaze was put out and the ship arrived at Montreal June 6, 1974. It was sold the following month to Tunisian buyers and scrapped as c) REMADA following another fire at Barcelona, Spain, on January 2, 1987.

1988 The first ALGOCAPE, which had run aground in the Lake St. Louis section of the St. Lawrence on May 21, was refloated on this day and cleared to proceed to Baie Comeau, QC to unload.

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


Port Reports -  May 22

Marquette, Mich. - Rod Burdick
A busy Monday morning at the Upper Harbor found John J. Boland departing after loading ore during the night and Michipicoten and Great Republic arriving to load ore.

Muskegon, Mich.
The tug Bradshaw McKee made its first stop in Muskegon with the barge Cleveland Rocks to unload aggregate at the Mart Dock. The pair arrived at 12:30. At 12:45, Mississagi entered Muskegon Lake headed to the Verplank dock to unload aggregate.

Grand Haven, Mich. - Dick Fox
Mississagi came in late Monday afternoon with a load for Verplank's Dock in Ferrysburg. It was still unloading at 8:30 p.m.

Stoneport - Dan McNeil
Loading at Stoneport on Monday was the Pathfinder. Due on Tuesday is John G. Munson and Manistee. Due in for Wednesday is Lewis J. Kuber. Due for Thursday is American Mariner followed by Great Republic and Lewis J. Kuber. Due in for Friday are the Buffalo and the Arthur M. Anderson. Due in for Saturday are Lewis J. Kuber, followed by John G. Munson and Great Republic.

Sandusky, Ohio - Jim Spencer
The Rt. Hon. Paul J. Martin departed late Monday afternoon for Nanticoke. She loaded overnight at the NorfolkSouthern coal dock. Following the Martin at the dock was the Herbert C. Jackson, which was expected to complete loading her cargo early Tuesday and sail for Ecorse, Mich.

It was reported Monday that the Pelee Islander will not begin making her daily runs to and from Sandusky from Leamington, Ont., with a stop each way at Pelee Island, until at least mid-June. The service normally begins in mid-May. The popular ferry was found to be in need of major hull strengthening during her five-year survey in Cleveland. The Pelee Islander did not leave the yard until last week. The ferry is presently running between the island and Leamington with seed and other products required by Pelee Island farmers whose spring planting schedule was left drifting in a sea of uncertainty when the needed hull repairs were ordered.

On Saturday, the popular day-tripper Goodtime was engaged in crew training on Sandusky Bay. The vessel sails from Sandusky's Jackson Street Pier to Kelley’s Island and Put-In-Bay throughout the summer.

Lorain, Ohio - Phil Leon
Manitowoc pulled into Lorain overnight and was at the Jonick dock unloading gravel. She called the bridge about 6:55 a.m., and headed back out into Lake Erie.

Oswego, N.Y. – Ned Goebricher
On Monday, the English River unloaded cement.


Coast Guard evacuates crewman from Algoma Olympic

5/22 - Cleveland, Ohio – A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter crew from Air Station Traverse City, Mich., medically evacuated an ailing 57-year-old man from aboard a Canadian-flagged bulk carrier in Lake Superior Monday evening. The man's name and hometown were not released.

The crew of the Algoma Olympic contacted emergency responders at Joint Rescue Coordination Centre Trenton, Ont., reporting one of the crewmen, a Canadian citizen, was suffering from blackouts and hallucinations, among other symptoms. Due to the vessel’s location, about 20 miles west of Whitefish Point in Whitefish, Mich., the emergency responders contacted U.S. Coast Guard search and rescue controllers at Sector Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.

After conferring with an on-call flight surgeon, it was determined the man needed to be evacuated. SAR controllers directed the launch of an aircrew aboard an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Air Station Traverse City.

The aircrew arrived on scene at 2:21 p.m. and hoisted the man into the helicopter. He was transported to Sault Ste. Marie Municipal Airport, where a waiting ambulance crew took him to War Memorial Hospital in Sault Ste. Marie. The Algoma Olympic is a 730-foot ore carrier and was en route to Quebec. U.S. Coast Guard emergency responders on the Great Lakes routinely work with Canadian emergency responders during search and rescue cases due to the close proximity of the international border.


St. Lawrence Seaway begins season with volume gain

5/22 - A jump in coal shipments helped boost cargo volume on the St. Lawrence Seaway up 2.2 percent in the first five weeks of the waterway season in 2012.

Coal shipments, the second-largest shipped commodity on the international seaway, rose 40 percent year-over-year between March 22 and April 30. An 8 percent increase in iron ore volume helped offset a 9 percent drop in grain volume in the same period.

Much of the gains in traffic are caused by the strengthening of the North American steel industry, according to the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corp. Shipments of bulk materials, including stone and cement, rose 15 percent so far this season from the same period a year ago.

The SLDC expects volume to increase 3 percent year-over-year this shipping season, after 2011 volume rose 2.7 percent from the prior year. U.S. ports reflected SLSDC optimism that traffic in the 2012 shipping season could continue to make year-over-year gains.

“Duluth is off to a strong start with heavy-lift and project cargoes this year,” said Adolph Ojard, executive director of the Duluth Seaway Port Authority. “We’re expecting nearly 20 ships with heavy machinery and other energy-related cargoes through the Port of Duluth-Superior during 2012, the majority of which will include components for U.S. wind energy projects.

The Port of Oswego handled its largest single shipment of aluminum in mid April, while volume at the Port of Cleveland rose 25 percent year-over-year in the same month.

“In April we received a charter vessel from Brazil carrying steel billets — a cargo we haven’t seen in more than five years,” said David Gutheil, the Port of Cleveland’s vice president of maritime and logistics. “We are optimistic that our volumes through 2012 will remain strong as a result of both the growth in steel cargoes and our focus on marketing the port’s capabilities.”

Journal of Commerce


As Seaway volumes rise, mariner shortages loom

5/22 - St. Catharines, Ont. - All the Seafarers are looking for are a few good men or women. Upcoming retirements, vacations and a tide of increasing Seaway commercial volumes are making it a challenge to find enough crew members for ships moving goods through the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway.

“Yes, we’re having a tough time,” said Jim Given, executive vice-president of the Seafarers International Union of Canada. “The pressure is on.”

Entry-level positions can earn a seafarer up to $65,000 for an eight-month season, but can mean months away from home. Some training and certificates are needed to get started, and relief work can be on tap before steady work is available.

“Frankly, there are a lot of young people who don’t want to get into the industry,” Given says. “It’s because they don’t want to be away from home for three months. Were having a really rough time attracting the young folks.”

Given said that from Jan. 1, 2011, until the end of April last year, the Seafarers filled 96 jobs to work the Seaway and Great Lakes. This year, it supplied 160 workers during the same time period, who are dispatched to contracting companies through its Thorold hiring hall.

Another 300 unlicensed crew positions will be needed this year for jobs like ordinary and able-bodied seaman and mechanical assistants. This is partly to staff new ships coming on line. Making matters worse, senior crew members like to take vacations at home during July and August.

“We’re going to have a hell of a time crewing (ships),” said Given.

Adding to the pressure is the Seaway’s steady rebound from a 2009 financial crisis that hammered commercial trade worldwide.

From March 22 to April 30, 4.4 million tons of cargo was shipped through the St. Lawrence Seaway, a 2% increase compared to the same period last year. In total, a cargo increase of about 3% is forecast for this year. That compares to a 2.7% jump in 2011.

“Since (2009), we’ve made some pretty good strides in rebuilding our volume,” said Andrew Begora, spokesman for the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp.

Most noteworthy is coal coming from the U.S. Powder River Basin in Montana and Wyoming that’s prized by Europeans for its low sulphur content. And this is coal that’s being brought via the Seaway out to Europe, said Begora.

He said another key product is iron-ore shipped out of the Great Lakes to such markets as Asia, with demand spiking during the last two or three years.

“(With traffic increases), we certainly do make more money in tolls, and so that bodes well for maintaining the Seaways sustainability,” Begora said.

Greg Wight, president and CEO of St. Catharines-based Algoma Central Corp., said his Great Lakes-St. Lawrence fleet has enjoyed a steady increase in shipping volumes since 2009.

“It’s all going in the right direction for sure,” said Wight, estimating several hundred Niagara-based Algoma employees are working at any one time. As for the shortage of ship crews, Wight said the biggest problem is annual leave.

“It’s not to staff the ships, it’s to staff the replacements when they go on vacation,” he said. “A permanent employee on one of our ships (can) take vacation during the year a few times. When they do, and there’s a lot at the same time, the union has difficulty finding replacements.”

St Catharines Standard


Near-average Lake Erie levels offer good news

5/22 - Boaters encountered Lake Erie water levels well above the lake's long-term average for much of 2011. But since late December, the lake's water level has slowly declined by about 5 inches.

The lake's level is 7.5 inches lower than a year ago and just recently dipped to 1.8 inches below the long-term average for May, said Paul Yu, chief of water management at the Buffalo district of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Harry Leslie, park operations manager at Presque Isle State Park, said water levels that hover close to long-term averages provide good news for boaters.

"We still have nice wide beaches, plenty of water in boat launches, and most of our facilities are built for average lake elevations,'' Leslie, said. "I cannot see the lake elevations having a negative impact on boating or swimming.''

Yu said Lake Erie's level was above its long-term average from mid-April 2011 through early this month.

"We just went below long-term average recently, within the last week,'' Yu said.

Lake Erie's long-term average is calculated by averaging the water levels from 1918 through 2010. Yu said 2011 data is still incomplete. Lake Erie's surface height on Thursday was 571.75 feet above sea level, Yu said. The lake's long-term average surface height for May is 571.90, he said.

The 0.15 difference is multiplied by 12 months, which computes to 1.8 inches below the lake's May long-term average.

"There's been a lack of precipitation and snow, but our lake level is reflective to climatology and what's going on with water drainage in the upper Great Lakes system, which all has an impact on our system,'' Leslie said. "All of that is tied into our system.''

Yu said Lake Superior's current water level is 12 inches below its long-term average, and Lakes Huron and Michigan each are about 16 inches below their long-term averages

"Lake Erie has been getting a lot more precipitation than the upper Great Lakes,'' Yu said.

Erie Times-News


Coast Guard stops illegal charter boat operating on Lake Erie

5/22 - Toledo, Ohio - The Coast Guard stopped an illegal charter boat operation Saturday evening after a vessel captain unlawfully took six paying passengers fishing on Lake Erie near Marblehead, Ohio. A boarding team from Coast Guard Station Marblehead stopped the illegal fishing trip Saturday evening upon the vessel’s return from an all-day voyage on Lake Erie.

The operator of the charter vessel had a Coast Guard-issued captain’s license, but it was suspended in March 2012 due to a driving-under-the-influence citation.

In addition to operating on a suspended license, the Coast Guard discovered the captain had multiple safety, documentation and pollution prevention violations. As a result, he could face a longer suspension period or revocation of his license.

The operation of a charter vessel without the required vessel documents and operator license is a violation of federal law, and if caught, the captain could be subject to criminal or civil liability. The regulations are in place to help ensure the safety of passengers. Illegal charter boats are typically recreational vessels and are generally operated by a person without the required Coast Guard-issued captain’s license.

Coast Guard-issued captain’s licenses demonstrate that the captain of a commercial vessel has met minimum proficiency requirements in navigation and seamanship rules. A paying passenger cannot be assured of the captain’s competency when the captain does not possess a valid captain’s license. The Coast Guard advises the public to ask the boat’s captain to show them his or her original Coast Guard license.

If the boat is carrying more than six passengers, it is required to be inspected by the Coast Guard, and the Certificate of Inspection should be displayed in an area accessible to passengers. The Certificate of Inspection shows a vessel has met the minimum Coast Guard safety standards in regard to fire-extinguishing systems, manning, vessel de-watering capabilities, and life saving and navigation equipment requirements. It also sets the maximum number of passengers the vessel can carry.

If the public wants to verify a captain’s license or the inspected status of a vessel carrying more than six passengers, or to report an illegal charter operation, they can call Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Toledo at 419-418-6050.


Fort Gratiot Light Station reopens with fanfare

5/22 - Port Huron, Mich. – Visitors had their first close look at the Fort Gratiot Lighthouse’s restoration Saturday during a grand opening event at the station. Susan Bennett, executive director of the Port Huron Museum, said about 250 people — including state and local officials and members of the Friends of the Fort Gratiot Light group — came to the ribbon cutting Saturday at the Fort Gratiot Light Station.

The light station has been closed to the public since August 2008, Bennett said. Officials felt it was important to reopen the station so the public could once again enjoy it.

By early Saturday afternoon, groups of people were being led on tours of the buildings in the light station. People lined up to climb to the top of the lighthouse’s tower.

Mark Zimmer, 43, of Port Huron took in the blue waters of Lake Huron as he stood on the tower’s balcony. He said it didn’t seem that long ago that restoration work began on the lighthouse. “It’s pretty sweet,” Zimmer said. “... I really didn’t think it would get done this quickly.”

Work tackled so far only marks the beginning of planned renovation of the station’s buildings, Bennett said. National Restoration, the contractor restoring the lighthouse, is expected to repaint the lighthouse at no cost.

David Brooks, chairman of the Friends of the Fort Gratiot Light, said the next big project will be to renovate the former Coast Guard building.

Jill Secory-Moore of Fort Gratiot said many people have put in time and effort during the past 40 years to get the lighthouse restored. She said the tower became a historic site in the 1970s.

“(It’s) such an awesome thing to see everybody here and have it open,” said Secory-Moore, a member of the Friends of the Fort Gratiot Light and a longtime museum volunteer and board member. “... It’s really thrilling, honestly.”

Bob and Renee Kulp of Port Huron walked around the light station grounds Saturday afternoon. Both enjoy visiting lighthouses in Michigan and on the East Coast while on vacation. Renee Kulp hoped the restored lighthouse would attract more visitors to Port Huron.

“The big thing is it should bring more people to Port Huron,” Kulp said.

Port Huron Times Herald


Ship museum near Bay City gets a seaworthy attraction

5/22 - Bay County, Mich. - The 418-foot destroyer USS Edson, which served during the Cold War and the Vietnam War, is expected to become the centerpiece of a ship museum near Bay City. Saginaw Valley Naval Ship Museum President Mike Kegley and the Navy's Inactive Ships Program Manager Capt. Chris Pietras signed a contract Thursday to transfer ownership to the museum.

Officials worked for 15 years to get it. "Donating ships is not a regular thing, and this was a longtime coming," Pietras said.

The Navy's paperwork for the six-year process to secure the USS Edson weighed 17 pounds, Kegley said.

The signing took place at the Independence Bridge boat launch in Bangor Township, where the ship is expected to be moored. Officials now have 60 days to tow the ship from Philadelphia to its new home on the Saginaw River.

The USS Edson, launched in 1958, is a National Historic Landmark. Its first deployment was to the Western Pacific in January 1960. It was deployed to Vietnam three times. Turning it into a museum is expected to cost $1.4 million, officials estimate.

Detroit Free Press


Updates -  May 22

News Photo Gallery
Historical Perspectives Gallery updated - Wyandotte galleries


Today in Great Lakes History -  May 22

On 22 May 1901, FRANK H. PEAVEY (steel propeller bulk freighter, 430 foot, 5,002 gross tons) was launched at the American Ship Building Company (Hull #309) in Lorain, Ohio, for the Peavey Syndicate. She lasted until 1934, when she struck the south pier while entering Sheboygan, Wisconsin, and was declared a constructive total loss and scrapped the following year.

The A.H. FERBERT (Hull#289) was launched this day in 1942, at River Rouge, Michigan by Great Lakes Engineering Works for the Pittsburgh Steamship Co. May 22nd was the tenth National Maritime Day and on that day 21 other ships were launched nationwide to celebrate the occasion. The "super" IRVING S. OLDS was launched the same day at Lorain, Ohio, by American Ship Building Co. This marked the last of the "Super Carrier" build program. The others were the BENJAMIN F. FAIRLESS, LEON FRASER and ENDERS M. VOORHEES.

The SIR THOMAS SHAUGHNESSY sailed under her own power down the Seaway on May 22, 1969, for the last time and arrived at Quebec City.

BAYFAIR was launched as the a.) COALHAVEN (Hull#134) at Haverton-Hill-on-Tees, U.K. by Furness Shipbuilding Co. in 1928.

While bound for Escanaba, Michigan to load ore, the JOSEPH BLOCK grounded at Porte des Morts Passage, on Green Bay, May 22, 1968, and was released the same day by the Roen tug ARROW. The BLOCK's hull damage extended to 100 bottom plates. Surrendered to the under-writers and sold in June that year to Lake Shipping Inc. Built as the a.) ARTHUR H. HAWGOOD in 1907, She was renamed c.) GEORGE M. STEINBRENNER in 1969, she was scrapped at Ramey’s Bend in 1979.

The 143 foot wooden brig JOSEPH was launched at Bay City, Michigan, on 21 May 1867. She was built for Alexander Tromley & Company.

CITY OF NEW BALTIMORE was launched at David Lester's yard in Marine City, Michigan, on 22 May 1875. Her master carpenter was John J. Hill. She was a wooden propeller passenger/package freight vessel built for the Detroit-New Baltimore route. Her dimensions were 96 foot keel, 101 feet overall x 20 feet x 6 foot 6 inches, 130 tons. Her boiler was made by J. & T. McGregor of Detroit. Her engine was built by Morton Hamblin & Company of St. Clair, Michigan. She was rebuilt as a tug in 1910, and lasted until abandoned in 1916.

1914 - W.H. GILBERT sank in Lake Huron, about 15 miles off Thunder Bay Island following a collision with CALDERA. There was no loss of life. The hull was located in 1982 and rests at a depth of about 200 feet. CALDERA later became b) A.T. KINNEY and c) HILLSDALE.

1942 FRANK B. BAIRD was sunk by gunfire from U-158 on the Atlantic while bound for Sydney, NS with a cargo of bauxite. All of the crew were saved and later picked up by the Norwegian freighter TALISMAN and landed at Pointe Noire, French Equatorial Guinea

1968 JOSEPH BLOCK ran aground at Porte des Mortes Passage, Green Bay, and released the same day. It sustained heavy hull damage to the bottom plates and was surrendered to the underwriters. The vessel was later repaired and returned to service as c) GEORGE M. STEINBRENNER (ii).

1978 AGIOS NICOLAOS, a Seaway caller in 1968, was about 60 miles north of Bahrain in the Persian Gulf, enroute to Kuwait, when an explosion and subsequent fire erupted in the engineroom. The ship was gutted, towed into Kuwait and abandoned. The vessel was later broken up. As a) BORGHOLM, it began trading to the Great Lakes in 1953 and made 21 voyages through the Seaway from 1959 to 1967.

1979 IRISH PINE made 19 trips through the Seaway from 1960 through 1964 for Irish Shipping. It arrived at Kaohsiung, Taiwan, on this date in 1979 as c) ARAMON. The ship had been traveling from Piraeus, Greece, to Port Sudan, Sudan, when the cargo of bitumen solidified in the holds. The vessel was sold for scrap and dispatched to Kaohsiung to be dismantled by the Taiwan Ship Scrap Co. Ltd., with the cargo still on board. Work began on July 18, 1979.

Data from: Skip Gillham, Max Hanley, 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 -  May 21

Twin Ports - Al Miller
Twin Ports vessel traffic Sunday afternoon included Atlantic Huron loading at CN ore dock, Americaborg at the Duluth port terminal and HHL Congo at the Duluth port terminal. Anchored off shore were John C. Leitch, waiting to load at the CN ore dock and Vancouverborg, waiting to enter to load grain.

Buffalo, N.Y. - Brian W.
Rebecca Lynn and barge A-397 departed the North Entrance at 4 p.m. Sunday afternoon. She had been unloading asphalt at the Marathon dock in Tonawanda.


Foreign sailors look forward to docking in Cleveland

5/21 - Cleveland, Ohio – With their ship safely in port and its steel cargo being unloaded by local dock workers, the crew of the Polish freighter Wicko headed into Cleveland for some fun.

The captain went shopping on the city's West Side for a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. The electrical officer took in a game at Progressive Field, his first taste of professional baseball. And the cook meandered the aisles at West Side Market shopping for bread and produce.

But the most popular destination of the ship's 22-person contingent wasn't one of the city's main attractions, like the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum or the Cleveland Art Museum. It was the Walmart at Steelyard Commons.

If time allows, "we run from the vessel because we like to see normal life," said Wicko Captain Jacek Miler, relaxing onboard recently in a gray sweat suit and sandals.

Foreign sailors are a common sight around Cleveland during the shipping season, which runs from April to December on the Great Lakes. While Cleveland is not considered a top-tier destination for international travelers, seamen prefer it to other ports because the docks are close to downtown.

That makes it fast and easy to leave the boat and return, an important consideration for sailors who have limited time but are eager for a change of scenery after weeks, if not months, at sea.

Foreign freighters call on Cleveland about five times a month, usually bringing specialized steel from northern Europe. The voyage is often rough this time of year because storms roil the North Atlantic. Steel riding low in the hold gives the ship a lower center of gravity, making it even more susceptible to severe rolling.

The Wicko, more than 600 feet long, took 14 days to cross the Atlantic from the Netherlands -- two more days than usual. Then it took three more days to cruise up the St. Lawrence Seaway to Lake Erie and then to Cleveland. When it arrived about 7 a.m. on May 7, shipping agent Tom Gierszal was at the berth awaiting its arrival.

"The agent is like the ship's mom," said Gierszal, 41, who along with his twin brother took over their father's business, Columbus Shipping & Trading Agency of Westlake, more than a decade ago.

Besides handling paperwork, Gierszal is called on for all manner of assistance. He often takes sick or injured sailors to a doctor or dentist, and the problems can be serious. One Lithuanian sailor, years ago, sustained a broken nose in a fight, he said, but when the doctor assessed his health more closely, the man needed a liver transplant.

And if a sailor complains of a sore tooth, generally it's too far gone for even a Cleveland dentist to save.

"So nine times out of 10 the guy comes back with that tooth pulled out," Gierszal said.

Gierszal gives special attention to the officers because if they're happy, the whole ship is happy, and that reflects well on the agent.

When another Polish freighter, the Isolda, arrived in April, Gierszal got a call from its captain around midnight. He was at the Red Lobster at Great Northern Mall and couldn't get a taxi back to the ship. Gierszal had one there in 10 minutes.

And when Miler, the Wicko's captain, said he wanted to buy a motorcycle, Gierszal took him to a Harley-Davidson dealership on Lorain Avenue on the city's far West Side.

"You pay in Poland, double," Miler said of the iconic but pricey American bike.

Wearing a brown leather jacket and faded black jeans, Miler straddled several Fat Boy models. He makes about $6,000 a month and can afford such luxuries. In the end, he didn't have enough time to make a deal for the bike.

"Always the question is the money, huh?" he said, sitting on a 2011 black-and-white Fat Boy. " . . . Harley-Davidson should make some special offer for the Polish guys."

Gierszal is not the only one attending to foreign sailors in town. The Seamen's Service office, which operates out of a small port building just west of Cleveland Browns Stadium, has volunteers to help with a variety of issues, from finding a bus route to purchasing a phone card to call home.

Last month, a Filipino chef from the Dutch-owned freighter Victoriaborg sat in the office using the free wi-fi to view pictures on his laptop of his daughter's birthday party back on the island of Mindanao, when, minutes later, two seamen from the Isolda, which was also in port, walked up to the office with backpacks.

Volunteer Priscilla Mohr, a retired Rocky River school teacher, drove them downtown to catch a bus to Steelyard Commons.

More often than not, officers and crew want to go to Walmart, where they load up on snacks, bath products and electronics to bring back to the ship. A bottle of Popov vodka might even find its way on board.

After leaving the Harley-Davidson store, Miler and steward Janusz Antol, 50, hitched a ride with Gierszal to Steelyard Commons where they supplemented their wardrobe at Walmart's bargain prices.

Antol spent several minutes selecting a pair of sunglasses and later grabbed a pair of shoes. The captain, who recently dropped 60 pounds from his nearly 5-foot, 9-inch frame, snatched several packages of underwear and T-shirts and then tried on a pair of khakis for under $20.

They fit. He would add two more pair, a couple of knit shirts, shorts and belts before checking out. Shopping may be the primary pastime for visiting seamen, but sometimes they find time to experience the unique aspects of Cleveland.

Przemyslaw Mielniczuk, 31, the Wicko's electrical officer, remembers docking here in 2009 and going to the "jazz museum," as he called the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. He saw Janis Joplin's car and "some stuff of the Rolling Stones," he said.

On his most recent trip, with rain delaying his ship's departure, Mielniczuk was able to see an Indians game with the ship's second engineer.

"He paid for ticket," Mielniczuk said. "I paid for beer." They left in the sixth inning because the second engineer had watch duty aboard the ship.

"I didn't know that they hit this ball so quick, so fast," Mielniczuk said the next day. His biggest thrill might have been viewing Chicago White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski's Polish last name flashed on the big screen.

Many of the sailors who come to Cleveland are Polish. The Isolda and Wicko belong to Polsteam, a Polish government-owned shipping line. But other lines that serve Cleveland hire nationalities they can pay less. Wagenborg, based in the Netherlands, often has Russian and Ukrainian officers and a Filipino crew, Gierszal said.

In all cases, the ships are narrow enough to navigate through Canada's Welland Canal, which skirts Niagara Falls. The freighters are called "tramps" because they generally don't know where they're going next. After dropping off a shipment of steel, they may return to Europe with a load of grain, but sail first to Duluth, Minn., at the western end of Lake Superior, to pick it up.

Sometimes going ashore is part of the crew's duties. Several hours before the Wicko shipped out, Gierszal drove its cook, Slawomir Jeglinski, 49, to the West Side Market to stock up on provisions.

No sooner had Jeglinski walked down the row of produce stands than he was recognized. "Where you been, man?" said Shadi Nader from behind his stall of vegetables. "You remember me?" Jeglinski said. "I remember you," Nader said, even though it had been two years since they last transacted business.

Nader let Jeglinski examine his produce more closely. "You want to pick from the box?" Nader asked. Moments later he hoisted a 15-pound bag of baby cucumbers onto a hanging scale.

Fruits and vegetables are an important part of a ship's menu. While in port, the crew of the Wicko feasted on mushroom and pasta soup one day and a purple-colored beet and pork soup the next.

After dropping $77 on vegetables and melons, Jeglinski popped inside the West Side Market's main building to buy three loaves of rye bread at Vera's Bakery. From there it was on to Dean Supply where he picked up two knives, a strainer and an aluminum frying pan.

Better load up now is the seamen's refrain, because captain and crew may not get a better chance for several weeks.

After nearly three days in Cleveland, the Wicko's next scheduled stops were Milwaukee and Burns Harbor, Ind., two Lake Michigan ports in heavy industrial areas where it might mean an expensive 30- to 40-minute cab ride to reach shops and attractions.

Nothing like the convenience of Cleveland.

Said Gierszal of the other ports, "It's a pain in the neck."

Plain Dealer


Tower taking shape at Hamilton steelmaker

5/21 - Hamilton, Ont. – A new tower is taking shape on Hamilton’s industrial skyline. ArcelorMittal Dofasco’s $120-million No. 6 galvanizing line will eventually be 65 metres tall and will be clad in high-strength steel produced in the plant.

“It is state of the art. It has all the bells and whistles in terms of fuel efficiency and it will allow us to create a greater product range,” said Tony Valeri, vice-president of corporate communications and public affairs.

No. 6, which is replacing No. 2 galvanizing line, will enable the development and production of a range of advanced high-strength steels that are in high demand in the auto sector, said Valeri.

“It’s the key steel product to (original equipment manufacturer) car designers because it adds less vehicle weight but improved safety,” said Valeri. “We want to be the supplier of choice. It’s a high-value product.”

The flat sheets of steel are dipped in zinc, travel up one side of the tower to be annealed (a heating process that brings hardness and consistency to the coated steel) and then travel down the other side of the tower to be cooled, strengthened and levelled.

“The tower design will improve the quality, consistency and reliability of the steel,” said Valeri.

The tower controls the final thickness of the coating on the steel and also cools the steel strip in a controlled manner. A vertical tower is more efficient compared to a horizontal arrangement, the company said.

The project is about halfway completed. The line is fully designed, the majority of engineering is done and most of the equipment has been manufactured. What remains is equipment installation, commissioning and startup, the company said.

A slowdown in the international markets also slowed down the construction of the tower. ArcelorMittal Dofasco stopped paying overtime crews to get it done for the original timeline of the first quarter of 2013. The project is now expected to be finished in the fourth quarter of 2013. ArcelorMittal employs 5,200 in Hamilton and about 260,000 worldwide.

When asked whether the new galvanizing line will create jobs or make jobs redundant, the company said the investment will help sustain employment levels in Hamilton.

Hamilton Spectator


Great Lakes lake levels still below average

5/21 - Petoskey, Mich. – Over the 20 years East Jordan residents Jim and Helen Truchan have lived on the northern side of the South Arm of Lake Charlevoix, they've watched their water line slowly recede.

Lake Michigan-Huron, hydrologically one lake connected at the Straits of Mackinac, is a foot below its long-term average, said John Allis, chief of Great Lakes Hydraulics and Hydrology Office with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Detroit, and Lake Charlevoix rolls with Michigan-Huron's punches.

The man-made Pine River channel connecting Round Lake and Lake Charlevoix to Lake Michigan lowered Lake Charlevoix by about 20 feet when it was constructed in the late 1800s, said Truchan, and makes Round Lake and Charlevoix susceptible to Michigan's fluctuations.

Truchan notices these things. For more than 30 years, it was his job. Truchan, who holds a doctorate in entomology, retired from the Department of Natural Resources in 1997. There, he worked as a scientist in several divisions, including a now-abolished environmental enforcement division, a thermal division that monitored state nuclear power and fossil fuel programs and worked on re-licensing dams in the fisheries division, among other appointments.

Originally, Jim grew up on Saginaw Bay, and, an avid angler, has watched the Great Lakes go through several high and low cycles, including the high water point at which he and his wife bought their East Jordan property.

His assessment of the situation?

"It's Mother Nature," he said. "Too much evapotranspiration, not enough snowfall in the winter or rainfall in the summer."

Truchan still talks like a scientist. "Evapotranspiration" is the process by which water returns to the atmosphere either by evaporation or by loss through the leaves of plants, and can be the culprit behind the lowering of Great Lakes levels.

Though last winter's almost complete lack of ice would lead one to believe that the Great Lakes lost water to evaporation, that's not the case, said Allis.

"It's a little counter-intuitive," said Allis. "With the warmer temperatures we were seeing, we didn't have the real evaporation."

The highest evaporation occurs when cold, dry air moves over warmer lake temperatures — a situation that didn't happen last winter.

In fact, not much has changed from last year's lake levels.

"Lakes Michigan, Huron and Superior are, right now, right about where they were at the same time last year," said Allis. "We didn't get the snow we'd normally get, but we only got slightly below average precipitation."

So while Michigan got less snow, it got nearly the same amount of total precipitation — rain and snow — as it does every year.

And while the lakes didn't see an inrush of water from spring snowmelt, continuous rainfall over the winter added water directly to the lakes.

In a typical winter, a snowpack would have built throughout the Great Lakes basin, melted in the spring, then run off into streams and lakes, and ultimately, the Great Lakes. Instead, the rainfall the Great Lakes region received through the winter fell directly into the Great Lakes system.

"The end result is we were still right about where we were last year. We just got here a little differently," said Allis.

Still, said Allis, the lakes are in a 10-year low period because of a decade of lower-than-average precipitation.

"We've been average for the last year, but the lake levels are really well below average," said Allis. "So even over the past twelve months, we've seen average precipitation, that's helped to keep levels where they were last year. But those levels are still about a foot below the long-term average."

Locally, the National Weather Service Weather Forecast Office in Gaylord keeps an eye on lake levels, but only to the extent that their levels might affect homeowners along the lake shore — that is, in case those properties are in danger of flooding.

"It's something we check once in a while," said meteorologist Justin Arnott. "It's going to take one heck of a storm to bring any coastal flooding issues."

And it could take several such biblical storms. Currently, the Gaylord station predicts below-average levels through October 2012, and the Army Corps predicts levels between 2 and 6 inches below normal at least through July and August, though that forecast is weather dependent.

At any rate, Truchan's Lake Charlevoix frontage probably won't look like it did in the early 1990s.

"We about had to put docks on top of docks ... the Great Lakes typically fluctuate and always have," said Truchan. "My friend has this quote from Yogi Berra: 'Mother Nature always bats last,' and that's really what it's all about."

Petoskey News


Underwater archaeologists searching for lost village

5/21 - Empire, Mich. – A group of underwater archaeologists are preparing for a project off the shores of Empire. The goal is to discover clues about the village's booming history, a history that currently lies several feet below Lake Michigan.

The action will begin on June 8th, when a team of divers will employ the latest electronic and underwater sonar technology to find evidence of a once thriving lumber town.

More than 100 years ago, the small village of Empire boasted one of the largest hardwood millis in the state of Michigan. Dave Taghon, with the Empire Museum built a scale model of the Empire Lumber Company.

"There were two 50 feet wide by 500 feet long docks used in shipping between 1887-1917," said Taghon.

It's those huge piers that has history buffs intrigued. While the lumber company burnt down in 1917, the piers are still out there and a group of underwater archeologists are setting out to rediscover them.

Troy Wilson, who is a part of Northwestern Michigan College's Nautical and Underwater Archaeology Department says, "Instead of taking hand measurements by tape, we will have lasers to do different spots. They will do the math for us."

He says the group could also find old tools and machinery along the way.

The second part of the mission is to plot the position and diameter of tree stumps that are out in 20 feet of water. The tree stumps are more than 10,000 years old and are from the Ice Age.

You can watch this project from the shore. Just go to the public beach in Empire on June 8th through 10th.



May Marine News demolitions reported

5/21 - Marine News, the monthly journal of the World Ship Society, reported the following Seaway Salties going for scrap in the May 2012 issue.

LAMA M. only came to the Great Lakes as a) SAGAFJELL and made her first inland voyage in 1968 after four years of deep sea trading. The ship was operating under her 15th name of LAMA M., and under registry in Bolivia, when she was beached at Aliaga, Turkey, on February 29, 2012.

MAHESHWARI was built in 1986 and visited the Seaway as a) LOK MAHESHWARI for the first time in 1998. The Indian flag bulk carrier was renamed b) MAHESHWARI in 2009 and arrived at Gadani Beach for scrapping on March 14, 2012.

STORMAN ASIA, a heavy load carrier dating from 1977, first came through the Seaway as b) STARMAN ASIA in 1985. The Portuguese flag freighter arrived at Aliaga, Turkey, for scrapping on March 3, 2012.

The very familiar inland trader ZIEMIA SUWALSKA dated from 1984 and was a frequent caller to Great Lakes ports beginning that year. The vessel arrived at Alang, India on February 28, 2012, and was beached on March 8 for dismantling.

We acknowledge the annual publication Seaway Salties, compiled by Rene Beauchamp, as an excellent resource and his 50 Years of Seaway Salties has provided us with the years that the above ocean ships first came to the Great Lakes.

Barry Andersen, Skip Gillham


Today in Great Lakes History -  May 21

On 21 May 1883, SAILOR BOY (2-mast wooden scow-schooner, 75 foot, 76 net tons, built in 1866, at Algonac, Michigan) was carrying wood from Pierport, Michigan to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She anchored outside Milwaukee harbor waiting for a gale to abate but she broke her anchor chains and was driven aground. Her crew of three made it to shore on a line with help from bystanders on the beach.

The AMERICAN REPUBLIC's maiden voyage was on May 21, 1981, from Sturgeon Bay light to Escanaba, Michigan, to load ore pellets for Cleveland, Ohio.

Interlake Steamship Co.'s HENRY G. DALTON's maiden voyage was on May 21, 1916. She was scrapped at Vado, Italy, in 1973.

UNITED STATES GYPSUM in tow of the German tug FAIRPLAY X was lost in heavy weather on May 21, 1973, near Sydney, Nova Scotia.

The G.A. TOMLINSON, a.) D.O. MILLS, stranded near Buffalo, New York, on Lake Erie on May 21, 1974, suffering an estimated $150,000 in damage.

The 143 foot' wooden brig JOSEPH was launched at Bay City, Michigan, on by Alexander Tromley & Company. She was built by the owner.

On 21 May 1864, the NILE (wooden passenger/package freight vessel, 190 foot, 650 tons, built in 1852, at Ohio City, Ohio) was sitting at her dock in Detroit, Michigan, with passengers, household goods, and horses and wagons aboard when her boiler exploded, destroying the ship and killing eight of the crew. Large pieces of her boiler flew as far as 300 feet while other pieces damaged houses across the Detroit River in Windsor, Ontario. A large timber was thrown through the brick wall of a nearby shoe store, striking the cobbler in the back of the head and killing him. At least 13 other crew members and passengers were injured. The wreck was moved to the foot of Clark Street in Detroit in July 1864, where it remained until it was finally dynamited in August 1882.

May 21, 1923 - The ANN ARBOR NO 4 was refloated after sinking at Frankfort, Michigan, the previous February.

After spending three weeks in quarantine at Buffalo, New York, because of the discovery of smallpox on board, the steamer JOHN OADES has been released and has started on her way to Duluth.

1919 FERDINAND SCHLESSINGER, enroute from Erie, PA to Port Arthur, ON with 3,514 tons of coal, began leaking in a storm and sank 15 miles off Passage Island, Lake Superior. The crew was picked up by the ASSINIBOIA

1932 The C.P.R. passenger ship MANITOBA goes aground in Georgian Bay off Cape Croker in heavy fog and has to be lightered before being released the next day.

1942 TROISDOC is the latest member of the Paterson fleet to be a victim of enemy action in World War Two. It was torpeded by U-558 about 40 miles west of Jamaica and the crew escaped in the lifeboats. The vessel was enroute from Mobile, AL to Georgetown, British Guiana, with 55,700 bags of cement, vegetables, 1600 cases of beer and cigarettes.

1963 The Taiwanese freighter VAN YUNG had visited the Great Lakes in 1960 and 1961. It was laid up at Keelung, Taiwan, on this day due to fire damage and was sold for scrap in October 1963.

1965 Leaks developed in the boiler room of the Norwegian freighter LIONNE and the ship, enroute from Caen, France, to Montreal, sank in the Atlantic. Two members of the crew were lost. The vessel had made 5 trips through the Seaway from 1961 to 1963.

1973 The retired American Steamship Company self-unloader UNITED STATES GYPSUM, under tow for scrapping at Vado, Italy, broke loose in the Atlantic off Sydney, NS and sank.

1979 The second PRINS WILLEM V, a Dutch freighter of 1956 vintage, was damaged extensively by a fire amidships while idle at Port Elizabeth, South Africa as f) ARAXOS. It has been for sale and was scrapped at Durban, South Africa, in 1981.

2007 A fire broke out in the engineroom of the Canadian owned salty UMIAVUT while enroute from Kolundborg, Denmark, to La Corogne, Spain, with 8600 tons of flour. The ship was towed into Brest, France, and repaired. It visited the Great Lakes as b) LINDENGRACHT in 2000 and was back as c) UMIAVUT in 2011.

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


Port Reports -  May 20

St. Marys River
Saturday was a busy day on the St. Marys. Upbound traffic included John D. Leitch, Lee A. Tregurtha, Tecumseh, American Century, Emilie, Sam Laud and Frontenac. The Cedarglen, Ojibway, PML 9000/Wilfred M. Cohen, Herbert C. Jackson, Burns Harbor and Great Lakes Trader were downbound. The Jackson dropped the hook in the Lake Nicolet anchorage area in the late afternoon, and got underway about four hours later. The reason for the stop is unknown, however a Coast Guard vessel was alongside for part of the time.

Marinette, Wis. – Dick Lund
Algosteel arrived shortly after noontime Wednesday with a load of salt for Marinette Fuel & Dock. This was the company's third load of salt this year; coupled with approximately 20,000 tons left over from this past winter, the dock has nearly 80,000 tons of salt currently on the dock. Also, late this week, Marinette Marine began "walking out" the new NOAA research vessel, Reuben Lasker, to the launch area. The launch date is not known at this time.

Saginaw River –Todd Shorkey
Mississagi was inbound early Saturday morning, heading upriver to the Sargent dock in Zilwaukee. Once unloaded, Mississagi turned and was outbound for the lake during the early afternoon.

Oswego, N.Y. - Ned Goebricher
Tug Evens McKeil and barge Metis were unloading cement at the port of Oswego Saturday.


Updates -  May 20

News Photo Gallery


Today in Great Lakes History -  May 20

On 20 May 1872, the iron-clad passenger/package freight steamer MERCHANT struck a rock and sank at the mouth of the Detroit River. No one was injured. The wrecking tugs MAGNET and HERCULES took off the cargo of railroad iron and general merchandise, then attached two pontoons, but the vessel would not budge. On 26 May, the steamers MACKINAW and SWEEPSTAKES joined the scene and d two more pontoons. With all the steam pumps working, the MERCHANT still would not budge. Two days later, two more pontoons were added and the MERCHANT finally floated free and was towed to Detroit for repairs. She had two holes in her hull, one of which was a gash 23 feet long.

On May 20, 1909, while lying at the Lackawanna Coal Dock at Buffalo, New York, the LeGRAND S. DEGRAFF was struck by the SONORA which caused $4,000 in damage to the DEGRAFF. Later renamed b.) GEORGE G. CRAWFORD in 1911. She was scrapped at Duluth, Minnesota in 1976.

The STANDARD PORTLAND CEMENT sank on Lake Huron two miles above Port Huron, Michigan in a collision with the steamer AUGUST ZIESING on May 20, 1960, with no loss of life.

On May 20, 1967, during docking maneuvers in the Trenton Channel of the Detroit River, the W.W. HOLLOWAY's KaMeWa propeller shaft sheared off and the propeller reportedly sank to the bottom.

The RENOWN (Hull#396) was launched May 20, 1912, at Lorain, Ohio by American Ship Building Co. for the Standard Oil Co. Renamed b.) BEAUMONT PARKS in 1930 and c.) MERCURY in 1957.

WILLIAM A. McGONAGLE (Hull#154) was launched May 20, 1916, at Ecorse, Michigan by Great Lakes Engineering Works for the Pittsburgh Steamship Co. Renamed b.) HENRY STEINBRENNER in 1986.

On 20 May 1862, BAY CITY (wooden propeller tug, 199 foot, 480 tons, built in 1852, at Trenton, Michigan) sprang a leak in a storm and sank near Port Burwell, Ontario. She then washed in to shallow water. Her crew was rescued by the tug WINSLOW. Her engine and boiler were removed in June and July of that year.

On 20 May 1875, the passenger package freight vessel GLADYS was launched at D. Lestor's yard in Marine City, Michigan for the Toledo & Saginaw Transportation Company. Her dimensions were 135 feet overall x 26 feet x 10 feet. She had twelve staterooms and along with ample cargo space. The pilot house was forward, 8 feet square and 11 feet high. The engines, from the old ESTABROOK and, previous to that, from DAN RHODES, were two high pressure double engines acting on one shaft with an 8 foot propeller. She also had a pony engine to feed water to the boilers and wash the decks. She was sold Canadian in 1877, and renamed NORTHERN BELLE and lasted until November 1898, when she burned on Georgian Bay.

1923 – The steel bulk carrier EDWARD U. DEMMER sank in the deep waters of Lake Huron after a collision with the SATURN at 0740 hours, in heavy fog, while about 40 miles southeast of Thunder Bay Island. All on board were saved.

1924 – STATE OF OHIO, an iron sidewheel passenger steamer, burned at Cleveland on this date in 1924. It was rebuilt as a barge but stranded on the main breakwall at Lorain on December 17, 1929, and became a total loss.

1928 – The CLEARWATER stranded near Trinity Bay, in the St. Lawrence while inbound with a cargo of pulpwood and was blown on the beach. The brand new vessel was abandoned to the insurers but the hull was salvaged in July, repaired and returned to service later in the year as TRENORA. It last sailed as KEYSHEY in 1963.

1942 – TORONDOC of the Paterson fleet went south for the bauxite trade during World War Two. German broadcasts reported that it was torpedoed and sunk by U-69 on this date. All of the 23 member crew were lost when the ship went down in the vicinity of the French island of Martinique.

1945 – The CALGARY had operated on the Great Lakes from 1912 to 1916 but left for the sea and was converted to a tanker in 1921. The ship was renamed b) BACOI and served on coastal runs for Standard Oil and even returned to the Great Lakes in 1938. It suffered an explosion and fire while in the Cape Cod Canal on this date in 1945 and had to be beached. It was scrapped at Jersey City in 1948.

1946 – The Georgian Bay area passenger ship MANITOULIN stranded at Clapperton Island but was released the next day by the tug NORTHERN.

1960 – The STANDARD PORTLAND CEMENT settled on the bottom of Lake Huron, with her decks above water, after a collision in fog with the upbound AUGUST ZIESING. The former was refloated, sold to Redwood Enterprises and came into Canadian service as ELMDALE. The latter resumed trading for U.S. Steel after bow repairs.

1960 – PAUL H. TOWNSEND was hit from behind by the British freighter TYNEMOUTH on foggy Lake Huron while trying to avoid the wrecked STANDARD PORTLAND CEMENT and the anchored AUGUST ZIESING. The PAUL H. TOWNSEND had stern plates damaged while the salty sustained bow damage. TYNEMOUTH had become a regular Seaway trader in 1959 and made 18 trips inland through 1967. It ran aground off Fuga Island, the Philippines as b) EASTERN RIVER on April 24, 1971, and became a total loss.

1981 – The West German freighter VIRGILIA made 30 trips to the Great Lakes between 1959 and 1967. It was renamed b) MARIA in 1974 and suffered an engineroom fire in the Red Sea and had to be abandoned while enroute from Mersin, Turkey, to Bombay, India, on this date in 1981. The hull was towed to shallow water and beached about 5 miles south of Suez. It was later sold, via auction, and apparently scrapped as c) FARIDA II at Gadani Beach, Pakistan, in 1989.

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


Laker collides with fishing boat

5/19 - Port Colborne, Ont. - Friday the CSL Laurentien is reported to have lost steering or power when it entered the Welland Canal from Lake Erie, causing it to drift into the fishing tug Lincoln-R which was tied up on the west wall of the canal.

There were no reported injuries and St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp. personnel were on board the tug assessing damage.

Niagara Falls Review


Port Reports -  May 19

Twin Ports - Al Miller
Twin Ports vessel traffic Friday morning included Americaborg at the Duluth port terminal unloading wind turbine parts, Algoma Quebecois unloading cement at the Holcim terminal (formerly St. Lawrence Cement), the saltie Wicko loading grain at CHS terminal, HHL Congo anchored out on the lake waiting for port terminal berth one to unload wind turbine parts, and Great Lakes Trader with tug Joyce L. Van Enkevort loading pellets at CN ore dock. Vessels due later Friday included Arthur M. Anderson, arriving with stone, CSL Tadoussac arriving for iron ore, James R. Barker arriving for iron ore, Algowood arriving Superior for iron ore, and Alpena, due in with cement.

Marquette. Mich. - Rod Burdick
On a summer-like spring Friday evening at the Upper Harbor, Herbert C. Jackson arrived to load ore.

Milwaukee, Wis. - John Monefeldt
St. Marys Challenger was in Milwaukee Friday unloading powdered cement.

Saginaw River - Todd Shorkey
The American Century arrived on the Saginaw River, Friday morning, stopping at the Consumers Energy dock to unload coal. She completed her unload, backed from the dock and out to Light 12 in the Saginaw Bay to turn around and head for the lake, late Friday night. Mississagi stopped in the outer bay to allow the American Century to make her turn and head outbound, before continuing inbound for the Saginaw River early Saturday morning.

Lorain, Ohio - Phil Leon
Friday afternoon the Undaunted and barge Pere Marquette 41 were leaving the Jonick Dock.

Oswego, N.Y. - Ned Goebricher
The tug Wilf Seymour and barge Alouette Spirit unloaded aluminum on Friday.

Buffalo, N.Y. - Brian W.
Friday morning English River arrived at the Lafarge Dock.


Michigan’s oldest lighthouse to reopen to the public today

5/19 - Port Huron, Mich. – A beloved icon is standing tall. After four years and $700,000 in gentle renovations, Michigan's oldest lighthouse reopens Saturday.

About 1,000 people are expected at the public event at the mouth of the St. Clair River to celebrate the Ft. Gratiot Light, the 1829 brick tower that began service back when wooden sailing ships plied the Great Lakes. Its green beacon can be seen 17 miles away.

"This lighthouse, think of the stories it could tell -- the ships that have passed, the storms it has seen," said Dennis Delor Jr., marketing coordinator for St. Clair County Parks and Recreation. The county became owner of the 5-acre retired U.S. Coast Guard light station in 2010.

Ft. Gratiot Light is the second-oldest lighthouse on the Great Lakes, after Ohio's Marblehead Light on Lake Erie. Lighthouses today are valued for their beauty, but they represent much more.

"A lighthouse represents a time when you didn't have GPS or the navigation systems you have now," said Kathy Duffy, preservationist and project manager. "Back then, it could save your life."

Detroit Free Press


Detroit-area Coast Guardsman awarded medal as 9th District Enlisted Person of the Year

5/19 - Cleveland, Ohio – Petty Officer 1st Class Bethannie Kittrell, a boatswain’s mate stationed at Coast Guard Station Belle Isle, in Detroit, was recognized during a formal ceremony Friday for being named the 2011 9th Coast Guard District Enlisted Person of the Year, announced earlier this year.

Kittrell was recognized at her unit by Rear Adm. Mike Parks, 9th Coast Guard District commander.

“Petty Officer Kittrell is very deserving of this award,” said Capt. John Bingaman, the 9th District’s chief of staff. “She signifies everything that is good about the Coast Guard and is a great example for her shipmates.”

Kittrell, a native of Columbus, Ohio, was named 9th District EPOY in part for demonstrating superb leadership and adaptability while acting as Station Belle Isle’s executive petty officer, a position normally reserved for a chief petty officer.

The crew of Station Belle Isle conducts search and rescue, ice rescue, law enforcement and homeland security missions throughout the Detroit River and around metropolitan Detroit. Built in 1942, Station Belle Isle has been in operation as a light station since 1881 and falls under the operational control of Coast Guard Sector Detroit.

Acting as operations petty officer, Kittrell worked proactively with Canadian, federal, state and local agencies to strengthen partnerships and enhance the law enforcement presence along our shared border with Canada and throughout the critical infrastructure around Detroit. Outside of her duties as a Coast Guardsman, Kittrell actively volunteers in the community as a children’s t-ball coach.


Milwaukee’s Father Frank Sanfelippo, minister to sailors, passes away

5/19 - Father Frank Sanfelippo was born on March 12, 1932 and was ordained into the priesthood on May 31, 1958. He died on May 14 at the age of 80. Fr. Sanfelippo was born and raised in what is today Milwaukee's Historic Third Ward, where the heart and hub of life was Our Lady of Pompeii Church. It was at this Church that Fr. Sanfelippo offered his first Mass on June 8, 1958. After serving at St. Kilian Parish in Hartford, he was assigned to Old St. Mary's in downtown Milwaukee where he served for more than 23 years. In 1972, Fr. Sanfelippo and a group of St. Vincent de Paul Society men founded Milwaukee's International Seamen's Center. In 1983, Mayor Henry Maier appointed Fr. Sanfelippo to a seat on Milwaukee's Board of Harbor Commissioners, a post he served for 9 years. A mass of Christian Burial was celebrated in the Chapel of the Holy Spirit at Alexian Village of Milwaukee, 9301 N. 76th St., on Friday.


Today in Great Lakes History -  May 19

On 19 May 1894, LORETTA (wooden propeller freighter, 140 foot, 395 gross tons, built in 1892, at Sebewaing, Michigan as a schooner) was driven ashore near the mouth of the Au Sable River at Oscoda, Michigan in a terrible gale. She was heavily damaged but the crew was rescued. She was salvaged and put back in service but only lasted for two more years when she burned.

SIR THOMAS SHAUGHNESSY (Hull#164) was launched May 19, 1906. at Wyandotte, Michigan by Detroit Ship Building Co. for the National Steamship Co. She was scrapped at Castellon, Spain in 1969.

On May 19, 1973, the whaleback tanker METEOR was moved from the Pipeline Tankers dock to a permanent berth on Barkers Island at Superior, Wisconsin to serve as a museum ship.

B F JONES and EDWARD S KENDRICK, towed by the Polish tug KORAL, arrived for scrapping at Castellon, Spain, near Barcelona on the Mediterranean Sea, on May 19, 1973, a trip of over 4,000 miles. The LAKE WINNIPEG in tow of the tug IRVING CEDAR arrived in SacavŽm, North of Lisbon, Portugal, on May 19, 1985. She was the largest Canadian laker and the first Seaway-sized ship, as of that date, to be scrapped.

On 19 May 1835, PARROTT (wooden 2-mast schooner, 43 foot, 20 tons, built in 1834, at Ashtabula, Ohio) sailed for Detroit, Michigan carrying iron, glass, whiskey, and hogs on deck. She never made it. The following day, west of Ashtabula, many of the hogs swam ashore and later a lot of gear from the boat drifted to the beach. No storm is mentioned and all six onboard lost their lives. She had been enrolled to a new owner the day before she set sail.

On 19 May 1876, the Port Huron Times reported that Capt. Alexander Mc Dougall, formerly master of the steamer JAPAN, had built a large steam fish boat named SASKIWIT at Buffalo during the winter and was then sailing from there to Marquette, Michigan.

1919 – The rail car ferry DETROIT collided with the wooden freighter JOHN PLANKINGTON while crossing the Detroit River and the latter sank. All on board were rescued.

1988 – COMMON VENTURE, a first time Seaway caller in 1980, was in a collision with the Indian freighter LOK VIVEK near Bangkok, Thailand. Both ships were repaired.

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


Port Reports -  May 18

Marquette, Mich. - Rod Burdick
Great Republic departed the Upper Harbor Thursday morning after loading ore during the night.

Green Bay, Wis. - Jake P. Heffernan
Sam Laud arrived in Green Bay late Thursday morning with a load of coal for Georgia Pacific.

Saginaw River - Todd Shorkey
Olive L. Moore - Lewis J. Kuber made a quick trip in and out of the Saginaw River on Thursday, arriving just after midnight and heading back outbound for the lake later in the morning. The pair unloaded at the Bay Aggregates dock in Bay City.


Updates -  May 18

Historical Perspectives Gallery updated - Wyandotte galleries


Today in Great Lakes History -  May 18

On 18 May 1872, the 3-mast wooden schooner MARQUETTE was holed in northern Lake Huron by a floating log. The crew manned the hand-operated bilge pumps but could not keep up with the incoming water. The steamer ANNIE YOUNG took the MARQUETTE in tow even though she was sinking and headed for Cheboygan, Michigan. During the tow, the schooner stopped sinking and arrived in port no lower in the water than she had been earlier. An investigation revealed that a large fish got caught in the hole and plugged it.

The WILLIAM C. ATWATER departed Sandusky, Ohio May 18, 1925, on her maiden voyage loaded with coal bound for Duluth, Minnesota. She was the first freighter on the Great Lakes equipped with a gyro compass. She was renamed b.) E. J. KULAS in 1936, c.) BEN MOREELL in 1953, d.) THOMAS E MILLSOP in 1955, e.) E. J. NEWBERRY in 1976, and f.) CEDARGLEN in 1982. She was scrapped at Port Maitland, Ontario in 1994.

Bethlehem Steel's steamer JOHNSTOWN cleared Erie May 18, 1985, for Quebec City under tow bound for Spain for scrapping. This vessel was the first post-war built U.S. laker to be scrapped.

On May 18, 1903, the MAUNALOA hit and sank the 69-foot wooden tug EDWARD GILLEN at Superior, Wisconsin.

May 18, 1992 -- The BADGER made her maiden voyage for the newly formed Lake Michigan Carferry Service.

On 18 May 1853, CITIZEN (wooden schooner, 54 tons, built in 1847, at Manitowoc, Wisconsin) was driven aground 6 miles north of Chicago. The U. S. Navy steamer MICHIGAN tried in vain to pull her off, breaking a 14" hawser in the process. She was reportedly the first vessel built at Manitowoc, Wisconsin.

On 18 May 1882, AMERICAN EAGLE (wooden propeller, passenger packet & tug, 105 foot, 161 gross tons, built in 1880, at Sandusky, Ohio) was racing off Kelley's Island on Lake Erie when her boiler exploded. Six lives were lost. She was later raised and repaired and lasted until 1908.

18 May 1894: A big storm swept the Lakes on 18 May 1894. The next day, the Port Huron Times gave the following account of the ship wrecks in that storm: "The big storm on Lake Michigan has cost the lives of many men. Only 2 men were saved from the schooner M J CUMMINGS, 6 lost. The C C BARNES is ashore at Milwaukee but the crew was saved. The schooner MYRTLE was wrecked just outside the government pier within a half mile of Michigan Blvd. in Chicago with 6 lost. The schooner LINCOLN DALL went to pieces at Glencoe, 8 miles north of Chicago. She was 196 tons. The schooner JACK THOMPSON, 199 tons, wrecked off 25th Street. The schooner EVENING STAR, 203 tons, wrecked off 27th Street but her crew was saved. The schooner MERCURY of Grand Haven, 278 tons, wrecked off 27th Street and her crew rescued. The schooner J LOOMIS McLAREN, 272 tons, wrecked off 27th Street. The schooner RAINBOW of Milwaukee, 243 tons, wrecked off 100th Street; the crew was rescued. The schooner C J MIXER, 279 tons, wrecked off 100th Street; crew rescued. The schooner WM SHUPE waterlogged and ashore at Lexington, Michigan on Lake Huron. Four were drowned in an attempted rescue. The scow ST CATHARINES is ashore at Rock Falls near Sand Beach. The crew reached shore safely but the boat will fare badly."

1919 – CITY OF MEAFORD, a wooden hulled passenger freighter was destroyed by fire at the dock in Collingwood

1922 – GLENFINNAN, downbound with grain and MIDLAND KING collided in fog southeast of Passage Isle, Lake Superior, and both Master's received two month suspensions.

1928 – The whaleback steamer JOHN ERICSSON was heavily damaged in a collision with the A.F. HARVEY of the Pittsburgh SS Co. in fog on Lake Huron. The latter was lost as b) CEDARVILLE in another collision on May 7, 1965.

1971 – TRANSPACIFIC was entering the harbor at the island of St. Pierre in the Gulf of St. Lawrence to get technical help for a malfunctioning radar when the ship stranded on the rocks. The West German freighter, a regular Seaway trader since 1959, was abandoned. The hull has gradually broken apart by the elements over the years.

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


U.S.-Flag lakes float little changed from a year ago

5/17 - Cleveland, Ohio – U.S.-flag Great Lakes freighters carried 8.2 million tons of dry-bulk cargo in April, a virtual repeat of a year ago, and 2.7 percent better than the month’s 5-year average.

Iron ore cargos for the steel industry registered a modest increase compared to a year ago. Coal for power generation and steel production dipped 16.5 percent. Aggregate and fluxstone for the construction and steel industries rose by more than 14 percent.

Through April U.S.-flag cargos stand at 14.6 million tons, an increase of 3.6 percent compared to the same point in 2011, and 12.2 percent better than the 5-year average for the first four months of the year. Iron ore and limestone have registered noticeable increases over a year ago, but coal has decreased by 650,000 tons.

Lake Carriers' Association


Port Reports -  May 17

Twin Ports – Al Miller
Iron ore traffic remains brisk in the Twin Ports, and Wednesday morning was a good example of that. Mesabi Miner was about to depart from the BNSF ore dock in Superior, Indiana Harbor was finishing up its load at CN ore dock in Duluth while Cedarglen was just easing into the ore docks to load. The Hon. James Oberstar was due late in the day at CN. Elsewhere, Americaborg remained at the Duluth port terminal after unloading wind turbine parts. It was expected to shift to the CHS elevator in Superior to load grain.

St. Marys River
A brisk spring day Tuesday saw Burns Harbor, Algoma Quebecois, Great Republic, Wicko and Great Lakes Trader pass upbound. Downbound traffic included Roger Blough, Mapleglen, American Century, Lee A. Tregurtha and Stewart J. Cort. Tregurtha dropped her hook in Lake Nicolet for a few hours late in the afternoon, waiting for water levels in the Rock Cut to come back up. The water was low due to a strong northwest wind.

Cedarville and Port Inland, Mich. - Denny Dushane
Both Pere Marquette 41 and the Lewis J. Kuber loaded stone cargoes from the Cedarville dock on Tuesday. The next vessel due to load at the stone dock in Cedarville is the Calumet for a morning visit on Wednesday. At Port Inland, Cuyahoga loaded a stone cargo on Tuesday. Wilfred Sykes is due for an early morning arrival on Wednesday. Following her will be the Frontenac, making a rare visit to Port Inland. Frontenac is due to arrive in the early afternoon Wednesday. Calumet is due to arrive early on May 17 at Port Inland.

Stoneport, Mich. - Denny Dushane
Vessels due are Lakes Contender on Wednesday and on Thursday the Pathfinder is scheduled for an early morning arrival followed by Lewis J. Kuber in the evening. There are no vessels scheduled to load on Friday. Two vessels are due on Saturday, Algoma Navigator in the morning followed by a late evening visit by the Pathfinder. Three vessels are due to load at Stoneport Sunday, the Manistee and the Lewis J. Kuber for early morning arrivals within a half hour of each other, to be followed by an afternoon visit from the Philip R. Clarke. No vessels are scheduled to load for Monday, May 21. Rounding out the Stoneport schedule will be the John G. Munson for an early morning arrival on Tuesday, May 22 and the Lewis J. Kuber for an early afternoon arrival also on May 22.

Calcite, Mich. - Denny Dushane
American Mariner loaded at Calcite and was due to depart during the morning of May 16. No vessels are scheduled to load for Thursday and Friday. Due to load at Calcite on May 19 is the American Mariner for an early morning arrival at the North Dock and the Arthur M. Anderson, due for a late afternoon arrival for the South Dock. John G. Munson is due to arrive on Sunday during the evening for the North Dock and, rounding out the Calcite lineup, is the Manitowoc due on Monday, May 21 for a late evening arrival at both the North and South Docks.

Toledo, Ohio - Denny Dushane
Due to load at the CSX Coal Dock are Michipicoten on May 17, Herbert C. Jackson on May 18, McKee Sons on May 19, Manitowoc on May 20, Saginaw on May 22 and Catherine Desgagnes on May 24. Vessel activity at the Midwest Terminal Stone Dock has Algolake due on May 18 along with the Algoway on May 20 to unload stone. Due to unload at the Torco Dock was the Cason J. Callaway on May 16. Following the arrival of the Callaway is the Atlantic Huron May 17, Great Republic due on May 19, Rt. Hon. Paul J. Martin May 20, John J. Boland May 23 and a return visit by the Great Republic on May 23. Four vessels still remain in layup at Toledo: Adam E. Cornelius and the American Courage both remain at layup at the Hans Hansen former Interlake Iron Company Dock. The Cornelius may be in for long-term layup. Both American Valor and American Fortitude continue their long-term layup at the Lakefront Dock.

Buffalo, N.Y. – Brian W.
Wednesday the tug-barge Invincible-McKee Sons arrived around 2 p.m. for the Sand Supply Co. landing on the City Ship Canal.


Positive outlook as St. Lawrence Seaway opens the 2012 season

5/17 - Washington, D.C. – The steel and construction industries pushed the demand for North American commodities such as iron ore, stone and cement, and provided the 2012 shipping season with a solid start. The St. Lawrence Seaway reported that year-to-date total cargo shipments for the period March 22 to April 30 were 4.4 million metric tons, up 2.24 percent over the same period in 2011.

Coal shipments, the Seaway’s second largest commodity by tonnage for more than a decade, registered a 40 percent increase in April to start off the waterways 2012 navigation season strong, said Rebecca Spruill, Director of SLSDCs Office of Trade Development. Overall tonnage numbers reflected a modest jump over last year’s figures, with the Seaway’s historic commodity leader – iron ore – posting strong gains (up 8 percent) to offset overall poor grain performance (down 9 percent).

The North American steel industry is showing signs of continued improvement. Iron ore shipments through the Seaway rose to 1.1 million metric tons, which included transshipments to Quebec for international export. Bulk materials, which include among other items, construction materials such as stone and cement, increased by 15 percent to 1.2 million metric tons in April compared to the same month in 2011.

Coal shipments increased to 600,000 metric tons compared to the same period last year. Midwest Energy Resources Company, which has a facility at the Port of Duluth-Superior, expects to export 1.5 million metric tons of coal this year as they continue to build on their market strategy to expand their service area into Europe.

Salt tonnage posted a 28 percent rise over last year to 328,000 metric tons as North American cities replenish their reserves for road salting next winter.

U.S. ports along the system are bullish on the season ahead.

Although it is still very early in the shipping season, the outlook is good, said Joseph Cappel, director of cargo development at the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority. In 2011, port tonnage surpassed 11.5 million tons for the first time since the 2007 season. That is a good indication that the economy is turning around in our region. For 2012, we can expect that iron ore and pig iron volumes will be solid in support of the steel industry. Construction aggregates like liquid asphalt, limestone and cement are also predicted to remain steady. We also hope that we can continue to support the wind industry by discharging blades, towers, nacelles and hubs for local wind farm projects.

Duluth is off to a strong start with heavy-lift and project cargoes this year, said Adolph Ojard, executive director of the Duluth Seaway Port Authority. Were expecting nearly 20 ships with heavy machinery and other energy-related cargoes through the Port of Duluth-Superior during 2012, the majority of which will include components for U.S. wind energy projects.

The Port of Oswego Authority received the largest single shipment of aluminum to eveK r cross our docks 10,000 tons arrived in the middle of April, said Jonathan Daniels, executive director. We felt that 2012 was going to be a solid year, but the first shipments have exceeded expectations and the projections are strong.

Cargo volume at the Port of Cleveland rose 25 percent in April compared to the same period a year ago, as an uptick in manufacturing led to an increased demand for steel. “In April we received a charter vessel from Brazil carrying steel billets, a cargo we haven’t seen in more than five years,” said David Gutheil, the port’s vice president of maritime and logistics. “We are optimistic that our volumes through 2012 will remain strong as a result of both the growth in steel cargoes and our focus on marketing the ports capabilities.”

Marine Delivers


Full speed ahead for Project Ojibwa

5/17 - St. Thomas, Ont. – After more than three years of discussions between the Department of National Defence (DND) and the Elgin Military Museum (EMM), Ian Raven, Museum Executive Director, signed the official Donation Agreement to transfer ownership of the decommissioned submarine HMCS Ojibwa to the Elgin Military Museum in St. Thomas, Ontario.

“It went right down to the wire, but I am thrilled to say that Ojibwa is finally ours and Project Ojibwa is going full speed ahead!” said a happy Raven. The final signing took place at the office of Joe Preston, MP who worked hard behind the scenes to facilitate the donation. The Hon. Peter McKay, Minister of Defence, had signed the agreement on behalf of the Government of Canada earlier in the day clearing the way for the transfer of ownership.

Ojibwa will become the centrepiece of the new Elgin Military Museum of Naval History to be built in Port Burwell, Ont., on the north shore of Lake Erie. “This is going to be a museum of national and international status, bringing Canada’s naval history to the centre of the country and making it easily accessible to a huge audience,” remarked Project Coordinator Dan McNeil, Rear Admiral Retired.

The EMM began discussions with DND to acquire HMCS Ojibwa in March of 2009 shortly after they became aware that the government planned to send the then three remaining Oberon submarines to scrap. Ojibwa has a proud history as Canada’s first Oberon Class submarine, purpose-built at the Chatham Ship Yards in England to provide service to Canada and NATO during the Cold War.

“We couldn’t let her go for scrap without making an effort to save her,” said Raven. “This is a huge accomplishment for a small museum from St. Thomas, Ontario. I don’t mind telling you that there were times when we wondered if it was ever going to happen, but we never let ourselves give up.”

An expert team of engineers, led by Project Manager Andy Wills from BMT Fleet Technology of Ottawa, has carefully planned every aspect of the move and mounting of the submarine.

Things will move very quickly now that we finally have a signed agreement, said McNeil. Heddle Marine’s floating dry dock has left Hamilton, towed by the tug Florence McKeil, on the 10-day trip to Halifax. There the dry dock will be submerged while Ojibwa is carefully positioned above it. The dry dock will then be refloated and Ojibwa secured for the journey. She is expected to depart for Hamilton on May 28.

The 10-day journey back to Heddles Hamilton shipyard will take Ojibwa through the St. Lawrence Seaway and across Lake Ontario, giving many Canadians the opportunity to salute her as she goes by. In Hamilton, she will be transferred to a shallow-draft barge and fitted with permanent cradles. Ojibwa will leave Hamilton on her final voyage travelling through the Welland Canal and across Lake Erie to an official arrival in Port Burwell on September 7.

September 8 has been designated as Landing Day in Port Burwell, when the most complex part of the move will take place. The international heavy-lift company Mammoet will use their Self Propelled Mobile Transporters to carefully remove Ojibwa from the barge and slowly transport her over land to her permanent foundation overlooking Otter Creek and Lake Erie.

Once Ojibwa arrives in Port Burwell, she will be spruced up, and made ready for tours to begin in the spring of 2013. The 15,000 square foot interpretive centre, expected to open in 2014, will be an industry leader in application of green energy to museums and will house exhibits covering the breadth of Canadian Naval history.

Her route and schedule will be available on the Project Ojibwa web site Her location will be updated frequently to enable anyone interested to watch her go past.


Updates -  May 17

News Photo Gallery


Today in Great Lakes History -  May 17

On 17 May 1887, the WILLIAM RUDOLPH (wooden propeller "rabbit", 145 foot, 267 gross tons. built in 1880, at Mount Clemens, Michigan) was raised from Lake St. Clair. She sank in the fall of 1886. She was towed to the Wolverine Drydock in Port Huron, Michigan where she was repaired. She lasted until 1913, when she was beached as shore protection near Racine, Wisconsin.

ALTON C. DUSTIN (Hull#708) was launched May 17, 1913, at Lorain, Ohio by the American Ship Building Co. for Cleveland Steamship Co. (John Mitchell, mgr.) Renamed b.) J.A. CAMPBELL in 1915 and c.) BUCKEYE MONITOR in 1965. Sank on December 16, 1973, in position 43.3N x 30.15W, in Atlantic Ocean, while in tandem tow with ROBERT S. MCNAMARA and German tug SEETRANS I, bound for scrapping at Santander, Spain.

NORTHCLIFFE HALL collided with the Cuban salty CARLOS MANUEL DE CESPEDES in the St. Lawrence River above the Eisenhower Lock on May 17, 1980. Built in 1952, by Canadian Vickers as a,) FRANKCLIFFE HALL (Hull#255), renamed b.) NORTHCLIFFE HALL in 1959, and c.) ROLAND DESGAGNES in 1976. She sank after running aground on May 26, 1982, near Pointe aux Pic, Quebec.

The E.G. GRACE arrived at Ramey's Bend May 17, 1984, in tow of the tugs GLENEVIS and GLENSIDE for scrapping.

May 17, 1941 -- The Ludington Daily News reported that the former carferry PERE MARQUETTE 17, which had been purchased by the State of Michigan for use at the Straits of Mackinac, was to be renamed b.) CITY OF PETOSKEY. She was scrapped at Ashtabula, Ohio in 1961.

The schooner ST. ANDREWS was launched at A. Muir's shipyard on the Black River in Port Huron, Michigan on 17 May 1875. This was a rebuild job, but Mr. Muir stated that it was the most complete rebuild he ever undertook since there was only a portion of the keel and bottom left from the old hull. Her new dimensions were 135 foot keel x 30 feet x 14 feet, 425 tons (an increase of 102 tons).

At about 9:00 a.m., 17 May 1885, the tug E.T. CARRINGTON (wooden side-wheel tug, 76 foot, 57 gross tons, built in 1876, at Bangor, Michigan) was towing a raft of logs from L'Anse to Baraga, Michigan when she caught fire and burned to the water's edge. The crew was rescued by the steam yacht EVA WADSWORTH. The CARRINGTON was later rebuilt and lasted until 1907.

1916 – ROCK FERRY, a wooden steamer, ran aground due to fog off Main Duck Island, Lake Ontario but was salvaged and repaired.

1924 – ORINOCO sank about 6 miles off Agawa Bay, Lake Superior while upbound with coal. The wooden steamer had sought shelter behind Michipicoten Island while towing the barge CHIEFTAIN, but then tried to return to Whitefish Bay. ORINOCO began to leak under the stress and was lost.

1957 – The composite hulled steamer YANKCANUCK ran aground in mud at Whitby but was released in what proved to be her final season. She was laid up at Sault Ste. Marie at 1014 hours on June 27.

1969 – The tug COLINETTE sank in Toronto Bay after the hull was punctured while docking the freighter ATLANTIC HOPE at Pier 35. All on board were saved and the vessel was raised and repaired. It apparently survives as a private yacht named NOMADA.

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


Coast Guard assists ailing 67-year-old engineer aboard Joseph L. Block

5/16 - Cleveland, Ohio — A Coast Guard rescue boat crew medically evacuated an ailing 67-year-old man from aboard a bulk carrier in Lake Superior Monday evening. The man's name and hometown are not being released.

Radio watchstanders at Coast Guard Station Marquette, Mich., received a call from local 911 central dispatch just before 7 p.m. EST. The 911 call relayed contact from the crew of the motor vessel Joseph L. Block. The crew of the vessel were reporting a crewmember suffering from stomach pains and severe dizziness.

After conferring with an on-call flight surgeon, it was determined the man needed to be evacuated. Search and rescue controllers at Coast Guard Sector Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., determined that, given the ship's location, a rescue boat from Station Marquette could get on scene faster than a rescue helicopter.

A rescue boat crew launched from the station aboard a 45-foot Response Boat-Medium at 7:13 p.m. They arrived on scene, 38 miles northeast of Marquette, at 8:10 p.m. and transferred the man onto the RB-M. During the transit to shore, the man was treated by a local EMT, who was already aboard the RB-M. The man was transported to Station Marquette, where a waiting ambulance crew took him to Marquette General Hospital.

The Joseph L. Block is a 714-foot bulk carrier and was en route to Indiana Harbor with a cargo of taconite.

Whenever possible, the Coast Guard uses local EMTs and other first responders who have more extensive training to treat injured mariners. The Response Boat-Medium is one of the Coast Guard's newest response assets, capable of a top speed in excess of 40 knots.


Port Reports -  May 16

Grand Haven, Mich. - Dick Fox
Wilfred Sykes came in as expected early Tuesday morning with a load for Verplank's Dock in Ferrysburg. It backed in, unloaded, and blew a salute to boatwatchers on the piers as it headed out at 10:30 a.m.

Alpena, Mich. - Ben & Chanda McClain
The tug Samuel de Champlain and barge Innovation were at Lafarge on Tuesday loading cement for Whitefish, Ont. Also visiting on Tuesday was the Calumet. It arrived in the river around 6:30 p.m. to unload 10,500 tons of coal for the Decorative Panels International Plant.

Marblehead, Ohio - Jim Spencer
The tug Dorothy Ann and barge Pathfinder loaded Tuesday at the LaFarge stone dock at Marblehead. The pair were discharging the cargo in Cleveland Tuesday evening.

Hamilton, Ont. - Eric Holmes
Algoma Discovery departed winter layup in Hamilton on May 15.

Rochester, N.Y. - Tom Brewer
The tug Evans McKeil with the barge Metis arrived at Essroc's Rochester Terminal Tuesday morning.


Fire on Coast Guard ship

5/16 - St. Clair River – An incident in the St. Clair River caused a stir along the shoreline as a U.S. Coast Guard ship caught fire Tuesday afternoon.

A smoke stack fire broke out on the Bristol Bay ice-breaking tugboat during a training exercise around 1 p.m. The ship was anchored in the middle of the river near Ferry Dock Hill for over an hour.

The crew could be seen spraying water into the stack as local residents watched from the shore.

Nobody was injured in the fire and the ship sustained minimal damage, U.S. Coast Guard officials confirmed.

"It's a complicated piece of machinery, and on occasion, you have to put out a fire," said chief petty officer Kyle Niemi.

Sarnia Observer


Grand Haven Pier deteriorating, public warned of risk

5/16 - Grand Haven, Mich. – The pier along Lake Michigan in Grand Haven is deteriorating and the US Army Corps of Engineers is urging people to be extra cautious. The problem stems from a lack of funding and is expected to get worse.

The entrance to the pier has warning signs and a memorial with the faces of two young men, Dan Reiss and Andy Fox.

"I just went through Mother[s Day yesterday without my son. It has been 8 years, but it still hurts. I don't want anyone else to lose a loved one unnecessarily," says Vicki Cech, Andy's mother.

The US Army Corps of Engineers says the tale of caution has never been more important because much of the pier is deteriorating. "There's a lot of slipping or tripping hazards, cracks, little holes in the concrete," says Tom O'Bryan with the Lake Michigan Army Corp of Engineers.

There are additional safety measures on the pier. Every 100 feet is a life ring that is connected to the 911 Center. However, O'Bryan says the pier itself hasn't had a major repair since the 1950s because of a lack of funding.

"Obviously it’s hard to put a value on lives but we have so many priorities across the nation for our federal tax dollars," says O'Bryan. "I live it everyday. I want people to be safe and enjoy this beautiful pier and the water," says Cech.

City officials say if the pier is safely improved, they'd like to open tours to the lighthouse someday.

O'Bryan says at this point, there have been no serious injuries because of the poor condition of the pier. He says fixing it would cost $1.5 million.



Reservations deadline this Saturday for Badger Boatnerd cruise

Reservations must be received no later than Saturday, May 19, for the annual Boatnerd Badger Cruise which will take place on Saturday, June 9, with an optional overnight on the Badger on Friday, June 8. Only 42 staterooms are available. Boatnerds will be the only passengers sleeping on the boat.

Reservations received after May 19, 2011 will be handled on an if-available basis. Click here to print your reservation form. Get yours in the mail today.

Annual Boatnerd Freighter Chasing Cruise planned for June 29
This year's St. Marys River cruise will again be aboard one of the American Soo Locks Tours boats departing from Dock #2 (next to the Valley Camp) at 6 p.m. on Friday, June 29. Boarding begins at 5:30 p.m. The cruise will be three hours and we will travel through both the U.S. and Canadian Locks, and will do our best to find photo opportunities for any traffic in the river.

A buffet dinner is included in the $35 per person cost. Dinner will consist of pasta with meatballs, baked chicken, cheesy potatoes, mixed veggies, tossed salad and dessert. There will be a cash bar on board.

Reservations are a must as we are limiting the group to 100 persons. This will afford everyone enough space to take photos and enjoy themselves. Mail-in reservations must be received no later than Friday, June 22. If any space is available, reservations will be taken by Dave Wobser Wednesday evening in the Soo, or at the Soo Boatnerd Picnic before noon on Thursday, June 28. Call 419-722-5507 to locate. Click here for reservation form.


Updates -  May 16

News Photo Gallery


Today in Great Lakes History -  May 16

On 16 May 1894, the SHENANDOAH (wooden propeller freighter, 308 foot, 2,251 gross tons) was launched by J. Davidson (Hull #60) in West Bay City, Michigan. She lasted until 1924, when she was abandoned.

The CANADIAN PROSPECTOR passed upbound in the Welland Canal May 16, 1979, with Labrador ore bound for Ashtabula, Ohio. This was her first trip after being reconstructed.

W. R. WOODFORD (Hull#626) was launched May 16, 1908, at West Bay City, Michigan by West Bay City Ship Building Co. for W. A. & M.A. Hawgood. Renamed b.) N F LEOPOLD 1911, and c.) E. J. BLOCK in 1943. She was scrapped at Port Colborne, Ontario, arriving in 1998.

IRVIN L. CLYMER departed Superior, Wisconsin, on May 15, 1981, and went to Duluth, Minnesota, to load 11,154 tons of taconite ore for Lorain. On May 16, 1981, having departed Duluth in 35 mph winds and 10-foot seas, the CLYMER began taking on water in her ballast tanks. She returned to Duluth, and was quickly repaired.

On May 16, 1972, in dense fog, the ROBERT HOBSON struck the Peerless Cement dock at Port Huron, Michigan when her bow was caught by the strong current at the mouth of the St. Clair River. Damage to the hull was estimated at to $100,000.

In 1985, the steamer PONTIAC was towed down the Welland Canal by the Mc Keil tugs GLENEVIS, ARGUE MARTIN and STORMONT bound for Quebec City. She would later be scrapped in Spain.

The tug B. W. ALDRICH burned at Ludington, Michigan, on 16 May 1874. The damage was estimated at $5,000 and she was rebuilt.

May 16, 1997 - The BADGER's planned first voyage of 1997 was delayed for one day because of a faulty boiler tube.

E. W. OGLEBAY (steel propeller bulk freighter, 375 foot. 3,666 gross tons) was launched at F. W. Wheeler's yard (Hull #114) at West Bay City, Michigan, on 16 May 1896. She lasted until she stranded on Shot Point, 10 miles east of Marquette, Michigan, on Lake Superior, during a heavy northeast gale and blizzard, on December 8, 1927. Shortly afterwards the hull was gutted by fire and declared a constructive total loss. The hull was removed, partially scrapped, and used as dock at Drummond Island, Michigan.

1905 – The second THOMAS W. PALMER, a composite bulk carrier, collided with HARVARD of the Pittsburgh Steamship Company off Stannard Rock, Lake Superior in dense fog and was nearly cut in two. The crew were able to walk to safety aboard HARVARD before their ship sank.

1919 – D.R. HANNA sank in Lake Huron 6 miles off Thunder Bay Light after a collision with the QUINCY A. SHAW. All hands were saved but the sinking of the grain laden 552 foot freighter was the largest insurance loss on the lakes to that time. The hull has been located upside down in 90 feet of water.

1941 – The Norwegian freighter REINUNGA began Great Lakes visits in 1926 and was forced to spend the winter of 1932-1933 at Dain City along the Welland Canal. The vessel, which dated from 1902, was bombed and sunk by German aircraft as d) KYTHERA at Suda Bay, Crete, on this date in 1941.

1962 – ARGENTEUIL, a former Canadian Coast Guard buoy tender, was rebuilt as a coastal freighter in 1961. It sank in the St. Lawrence near Lauzon, QC with the loss of 3 lives on this date in 1962.

1975 – MANCHESTER RAPIDO provided a container shuttle service in the Seaway beginning in 1971, went aground off Pasajes, Spain, on March 15, 1975, and then sank. The hull was refloated May 16, 1975, for repairs and a return to service.

1987 – MARIA ANNA SCHULTE first came inland in 1958. It ran aground as e) LUCKY VIRGIN off San Andras Island, Colombia, while en route from Colon, Panama, to Aruba in 1974 and had to be abandoned as a total loss.

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


Great Lakes iron ore trade up 6-plus percent in April

5/15 - Cleveland, Ohio – Iron ore shipments on the Great Lakes totaled 6.1 million tons in April, an increase of 6.1 percent compared to a year ago. Loadings were also nearly 23 percent ahead of the month’s 5-year average. Shipments from U.S. ports totaled 5.4 million tons, an increase of 5.7 percent compared to a year ago. That total included 435,000 tons transshipped to Quebec for final delivery overseas. Loadings at Canadian ports rose 9.7 percent.

Through April the iron ore trade stands at 11.9 million tons, an increase of roughly 11.5 percent compared to a year ago and 28.2 percent better than the 5-year average for the January-April timeframe. Shipments from U.S. ports are up 12.4 percent compared to a year ago and 31.5 percent ahead of their 5-year average. Loadings at Canadian ports are basically unchanged from both a year ago and their 5-year average for the first four months of the year.

Lake Carriers Association


Port Reports -  May 15

Marquette, Mich. - Rod Burdick
Cason J. Callaway loaded ore Monday afternoon at the Upper Harbor. The visit was her second of the season and followed early season trips by fleet mates and sisters Philip R. Clarke and Arthur M. Anderson.

St. Marys River
Monday traffic included Tim S. Dool, Philip R. Clarke and Herbert C. Jackson, upbound in the morning, and Americaborg, upbound at around 10 p.m. Edwin H. Gott and CSL Assiniboine were downbound. Yankcanuck remains in long-term layup at Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., while the retired carferry Arthur K. Atkinson looks to still be intact at the MCM Marine dock in the Michigan Soo, where she had been scheduled to be scrapped.

Alpena, Mich. - Ben & Chanda McClain
On Sunday morning the tug G.L. Ostrander and barge Integrity were in port at Lafarge, taking on cement. The Alpena arrived on Sunday also, on a beautiful evening. Cuyahoga returned Monday evening with a load of salt from Goderich, Ont. It departed the river before 10 p.m.

Grand Haven, Mich. - Dick Fox
St. Marys Challenger came in at 3 p.m. Monday with a load for the St. Marys Cement terminal in Ferrysburg. She was still unloading at 10 p.m. and was expected to depart just before the Wilfred Sykes comes in just before dawn.

Midland, Ont. - Andre Blanchard
Frontenac arrived in Midland Monday.

Saginaw River - Todd Shorkey
Olive L. Moore - Lewis J. Kuber arrived overnight with a split load for the Bay City and the Saginaw Wirt Stone Docks. Once finished with the unload, the pair were outbound for the lake late Monday afternoon. This was the first load of the 2012 season for the Bay City and Saginaw Wirt docks.

Lorain, Ohio - Phil Leon
Sunday afternoon the Mississagi was unloading stone south of the Lorain railroad bridge at Jonick’s dock. She departed about 3:15 p.m.

Buffalo, N.Y. - Brian W.
American Mariner departed around 8:30 a.m. Monday.



Temporary layoff of 14 workers at dry docks

5/15 - Port Weller, Ont. – A destroyer undergoing a retrofit at Seaway Marine Industrial was found to need relatively little structural repair, resulting in the temporary layoff of 14 workers there. “It has reduced our need for steel fitters in the short-term,” said Charlie Payne, director of operations at the dry docks. “These will be temporary layoffs for a about two weeks.”

Of those positions, some are steel fitters and others “C” class painters. Earlier this year, the Port Weller facility was awarded a $21.7-million federal contract to refit the 39-year-old Iroquois-class destroyer based in Halifax.

Payne said overall work is about 20 percent complete, with physical work on the vessel about 1/10 finished.

Factoring in the temporary layoffs, there are 170 people now working on the job. The refit will include underwater work, as well as comprehensive maintenance and repairs on ship systems, such as firefighting and electrical systems, as well as deck equipment. The project will be completed in early November.

St. Catharines Standard


Participatory ‘experience' planned for Great Lakes museum in Toledo

5/15 - Toledo, Ohio – To Chris Gillcrist, the National Museum of the Great Lakes that is scheduled to open next year on Toledo's riverfront should be more than just a collection of photographs and artifacts, more than just information and education.

And certainly more than just the museum ship Col. James M. Schoonmaker, although the century-old freighter surely will be a focal point of the museum planned for the Toledo Maritime Center, off Front Street near the Craig Memorial Bridge.

Mr. Gillcrist, executive director of the Great Lakes Historical Society, said the design development phase of the museum's planning, now complete, has produced what he explains as a participatory "experience" for patrons, not just a static exhibit.

"Over the past 10 months, though it seems like forever, we've created what we feel like is a one of a kind," he said Friday. "There's going to be nothing like it in the Great Lakes."

The museum's 9,000 square feet of space is to include more than 50 interactive features — some of them audio-visual, other mechanical — that will offer visitors realistic opportunities to do and observe things Great Lakes mariners have done and observed during the several centuries since European explorers and settlers entered the region.

"It will be the most educational, interactive, and fulfilling maritime experience on the Great Lakes," said Paul Lamarre III, executive director of the Schoonmaker, who characterized the museum's goal as to become "the Smithsonian of the Great Lakes" with the ship as an "appropriate" centerpiece.

One mechanical exhibit is to feature a working bilge pump that participants can set to simulate different levels of water flow into a sailing schooner's hull: normal splash and spray, heavy weather, or hull damage.

"One of the most common experiences of a schooner back in the day was that someone worked the bilge pump pretty much 24/7," Mr. Gillcrist said, calling the demonstration "an actual sweat experience."

Visitors also will have the chance to work together in simulations of an early 20th-century freighter bridge and engine room to run a ship. The simulated engine will emit heat and light like the real thing and require stoking with simulated coal.

"They will have to communicate back and forth using the ship's telegraph," just as was done in the days before radios, Mr. Gillcrist said.

The overall idea, he said, is to have things to do for visitors of all ages, so that younger children won't be bored, visitors more familiar with Great Lakes maritime history will be entertained as well as enlightened, and everyone will come away with an appreciation for the Lakes' vital role in the broader scope of United States history.

America's first millionaire, Mr. Gillcrist said, was Jacob Astor, who made his fortune in the Great Lakes fur trade. White pine from the Great Lakes region "built this country" during the 19th century, and in 1842, Huron, Ohio, was the second-largest grain port in the world, he said.

And during the age when the United States gained electricity and the telegraph became a primary form of communication, copper from Michigan's Upper Peninsula was a vital resource for stringing all the necessary wires.

"Great Lakes history is not just about boats. Great Lakes history is about the nation's history," Mr. Gillcrist said.

"He's really doing some fantastic things," said Robin Whitney, who as Toledo's commissioner of engineering services has been on the museum planning committee and is charged with overseeing the use of a $6,075,000 Ohio Cultural Facilities Commission grant that will pay for the bulk of the project.

The museum, Ms. Whitney said, will be "a great asset for our waterfront and for our community."

Besides the indoor exhibits and the Schoonmaker, she noted, the museum grounds are to have outdoor memorabilia and to function as a park.

Among the outdoor artifacts is to be a 22-ton propeller from the freighter John Sherwin, cast in Toledo as a single piece and big enough to dwarf anyone who might pose before it for photographs, Mr. Gillcrist said.

The museum is to welcome visitors with a "theatrical experience" four to six minutes long "that will basically tell everybody why the Great Lakes are so important," he said, followed by a "tech ring" that will outline the evolution of Great Lakes vessels from early cargo canoes to 1,000-foot bulk freighters.

Exhibits will be divided into four basic, sequential sections: Early Exploration and Settlement, Expansion and Industry, Safeguard and Support, and Shipwrecks and Survival.

Although no plan is in place to have an exhibit dedicated to Toledo's maritime history, Mr. Gillcrist said, displays with Toledo connections are to be highlighted in some way still to be determined.

"Toledo's port has played a major role in the Great Lakes', and the nation's, history," he said.

The museum's plans to incorporate Toledo-specific elements in its exhibits are to be the subject of a lecture Mr. Gillcrist is to give May 27 at the Maritime Center, 1701 Front St. It is to be the first of four lectures Mr. Gillcrist and nautical archaeologist Carrie Sowden are to give this year in Toledo, in part to establish the museum as a city institution.

Museum officials expect to begin exhibit construction in the Maritime Center by autumn.

Between now and then, Mr. Gillcrist said, is the drafting of construction plans.

The Schoonmaker, rechristened last year during a centennial celebration to its original name from Willis B. Boyer — the name it held when first moored in International Park in 1986 as a museum ship — is to be fitted out as it appeared during the 1950s, Mr. Gillcrist said.

He conceded that a few "purists" who would prefer an older-era restoration probably won't be happy about that decision but said certain elements from the earlier eras would be prohibitively expensive to re-create — most notably, the vessel's original steam engines.

There will be some exhibits on board, such as photo galleries in some of the cabins, Mr. Gillcrist said. There also are future possibilities that won't happen right away, he said, citing the potential for placing iron ore pellets and the clamshell bucket from a Hulett ore unloader in one of the ship's holds to give visitors a feel for how a staple cargo of Great Lakes shipping was unloaded in the days before automated handling.

To become a part of the new museum, the Schoonmaker is to be towed from its current berth to a freshly dredged slip next to the Maritime Center.

Preparatory work for the slip's bulkheads is under way, and sheet-pile driving for the bulkheads could start "within the next week or so," the port authority's Mr. LaMarre said.

Ordinarily, Mr. LaMarre said, the dredging would be done first, but in Toledo it has to wait until after July 1 because of the walleye spawning run in the Maumee River. Plans call for 78,000 cubic yards of sediment to be dug out of the slip and dumped into a long-idle city-owned disposal site on the river's opposite bank near Jamie Farr Park, he said.

The Schoonmaker is to reopen for public tours May 25, Mr. LaMarre said. It was closed for most of last year during a repainting project that is expected to be finished by then, he said, but if the painting stretches into June, admission will be discounted until the entire ship is accessible.

The target date for moving the ship to its new home is Oct. 15, he and Mr. Gillcrist said, but that is subject to the weather and other complications.

"The project has a great number of moving parts," Mr. LaMarre said, citing the recent discovery in the slip area of buried concrete-capped sheet piling.

Besides the state grant, the Great Lakes Historical Society is in the midst of a $2.5 million capital fund-raising campaign for the museum, including $400,000 that society board members have donated to the project. The fund-raising canvass involves a mix of private foundations, individuals, and corporations in Toledo and across the Great Lakes, Mr. Gillcrist said.

Toledo Blade


Updates -  May 15

News Photo Gallery
Historical Perspectives Gallery updated - Wyandotte 2 gallery


Today in Great Lakes History -  May 15

On 15 May, 1901, the GILCHRIST (Hull #603) (steel propeller freighter, 356 foot. 3,871 gross tons) was launched at the West Bay City Ship Building Co. in West Bay City, Michigan, for the Gilchrist Transportation Company of Cleveland, Ohio. She lasted until 1943, when she was sunk in a collision on Lake Superior.

On May 15, 1997, the "This Day in History" feature started on this web site.

The PHILIP R. CLARKE, first of the AAA class of vessel, began her maiden voyage from Lorain, Ohio on this date in 1952.

After extensive renovation at Fraser Shipyard, the IRVIN L. CLYMER departed Superior, Wisconsin on May 15, 1981, and went to Duluth, Minnesota, to load 11,154 tons of taconite ore for Lorain, Ohio.

On May 15, 1971, the STONEFAX was sold and was scrapped at Santander, Spain.

On 15 May 1854, GARDEN CITY (wooden passenger/package side-wheeler, 218 foot, 657 tons, built in 1853, at Buffalo, New York) was sailing from Chicago to the Soo in a storm when she went on Martin Reef, west of Detour, Michigan, and was wrecked. Her passengers were picked up by the steamer QUEEN CITY.

May 15, 1992 -- The BADGER was rededicated and began a new career as a non-railroad carferry.

At 3:30 a.m., 15 May 1874, the tug TAWAS came along side of the schooner ZACH CHANDLER several miles off shore from Sand Beach, Michigan on Lake Huron. The boiler of the TAWAS exploded and she sank. Capt. Robinson, 2nd Engineer Dyson, Firemen Thomas Conners and James McIntyre, and Lookout Dennis Burrow were all on the tug and died in the explosion. The blast tore the CHANDLER's sails and rigging, and caused the death of one of her officers when he was struck on the head by a flying piece of debris. The CHANDLER drifted away in the heavy seas, but returned to pick up five survivors from the water. The TAWAS was built at Vicksburg, Michigan by Myron Williams in 1864. Her dimensions were 95-foot x 18-foot, 6-inches x 8-foot, 6-inches. She carried the two old engines from the tug BLISH, which when new were 11-1/2 inches x 20 inches, but having been bored out several times, were 15 inches x 20 inches at the time of the explosion. Her boiler was built by Mr. Turnbull of Corunna, Ontario.

1907 – SAXON ran aground near Caribou Island, Lake Superior, and dumped about 1,000 tons of ore overboard before being released. The ship went to the Atlantic in 1918 and was scrapped at Copenhagen, Denmark, as c) ANNE JENSEN in 1927.

1923 – PERE MARQUETTE 4 and PERE MARQUETTE 17 collided in fog off Milwaukee and the former sustained severe damage above the waterline and was laid up.

1929 – RALPH BUDD stranded at Saltese Point, near Eagle Harbor, MI and was abandoned to the underwriters. The grain laden vessel was released by Reid and sold to Canadian interests. It was scrapped at Hamilton as b) L.A. McCORQUODALE of the Upper Lakes Shipping fleet in 1966.

1963 – LOBIVIA, WESTMOUNT and ROGERS CITY were in a three-way collision in the St. Clair River at Port Huron but there was only minor damage.

1967 – GOLDEN HIND was loaded with grain when it stranded off Cassidy Point, Lake Erie, and was holed in the forward compartment.

1968 – The stern cabins of HOMER D. WILLIAMS were damaged from a collision with WHEAT KING in the St. Mary's River and this ship was repaired at Lorain. The latter vessel received bow damage that was repaired at Port Weller.

1972 – The Dutch freighter COLYTTO first came through the Seaway in 1963 and made 8 trips to the end of 1966. It was swept ashore by a typhoon near the mouth of the Limpopo River off the coast of Mozambique as b) CAPE NERITA on this date in 1972. All on board were rescued but the ship was abandoned on the beach as it was not feasible to dig the ship out by a canal. The nearest road was 25 miles away so the hull was not scrapped either.

1999 – The former sandsucker NIAGARA II was scuttled as an attraction to divers off Tobermory, ON.

Data from: Skip Gillham, Jody Aho, Max Hanley, 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 -  May 14

Green Bay, Wis. – Wendell Wilke
Sunday the tanker Colorado Star remained dockside at VT Venture; she arrived early Saturday morning. Manistee was unloading coal at Georgia Pacific. She departed around 10:30 a.m. and by noon was outbound on Green Bay.

Saginaw River – Todd Shorkey
After an eight day stretch with no commercial traffic on the Saginaw River, the tug Karen Andrie, and her tank barge Endeavour, arrived early Sunday morning, unloading at the Bit-Mat Dock in Bay City. The pair were back outbound for the lake during the early evening. Inbound on the Saginaw Bay, headed for the Saginaw River Sunday night, was the Olive L. Moore - Lewis J. Kuber. The pair should arrive very early Monday morning.

Marblehead, Ohio – Mike Garrarie
The tug Bradshaw McKee and barge Cleveland Rocks were loading for Cleveland Sunday. The pair was on their first trip together. They departed the Donjon yard in Erie, Pa. on Saturday.

Cleveland, Ohio – Dan Simpson
The new tug Ken Booth Sr. and barge Great Lakes Contender remained in Cleveland Sunday. The pair arrived on their first trip carrying a load of taconite early Friday morning. It is unknown why they have remained in port for an extended stay.

Buffalo, N.Y. – Brian W.
Saturday the American Mariner arrived for General Mills about 2p.m. with a load of grain.

Toronto, Ont. – Andre Blanchard
Whistler docked at the Redpath Sugar pier in Toronto on Friday. Manitoba is also in port.


Coal power plants under cost, environmental pressure

5/14 - Schroeder, Minn. - Inside the Taconite Harbor Energy Center along Lake Superior's North Shore, three turbines the size of train engines crank out 225 megawatts of electricity. That's enough for all of Duluth and Superior, Wis.

The plant has helped power taconite operations since the 1950s. But it also produced unwanted substances. In 2007, Minnesota Power spent nearly $50 million dollars to capture some of the mercury and other pollutants here, Plant Manager Dave Rannetsberger said.

"Now we have a whole new building that was added just for the emission control technologies," he said.

This week a state agency took the unusual step of recommending that five of Minnesota Power's aging coal fired generators in northern Minnesota shut down by 2016, including one of the three turbines at Taconite Harbor.

The Department of Commerce contends it would be cheaper to switch to other sources of electricity — a stance that would have been unheard of just a decade ago. But strict new environmental regulations, combined with cheap natural gas, are forcing utilities and regulators throughout the Midwest to take a new look at their aging coal plants.

The cost of making the plants cleaner is clear at the energy center. Every day workers make their way along a narrow walkway four stories up, past two huge silos full of lime that is injected into the boilers to help remove sulfur dioxide from the plant's emissions.

Minnesota Power installed pollution controls only on two of the three generating units at Taconite Harbor. Officials say they're waiting to see final EPA regulations before they decide whether to install the expensive equipment on the third generator.

State officials aren't waiting. They're now siding with some environmental groups, and calling on Minnesota Power to shut down a total of five coal-fired generators at three plants in the next decade.

"It's a very expensive proposition to continue to maintain plants that were built in the 50s and 60s," Minnesota Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman said.

Rothman and other state commerce officials say closing Minnesota Power's oldest coal generators would save ratepayers as much as $450 million. That's a scenario likely to play out at many coal plants.

"It's maintenance costs and federal clean air requirements that are at play, and the expense just outweighs keeping them in the fleet," Rothman said.

Minnesota Power officials say more analysis is needed. The company's assessment should be ready in the summer of next year, said Al Redeck, vice president for strategy, planning and asset optimization.

"At that time we'll be more poised to maybe make some more decisions about those plants and where we're going," he said.

The Commerce Department and groups like the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy want the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission to force Minnesota Power to move faster. Beth Goodpaster, an attorney for the environmental group, said the utility generates over 90 percent of its electricity from coal.

"Minnesota Power is so heavily dependent on coal in its generation system, and has been for so long, that they have a bigger job to do," she said. "So they should get started earlier, is our opinion."

The utility is planning to cut its coal-based production nearly in half by 2025 by buying hydropower from Manitoba, Canada, and adding wind power. Rudeck, the company vice president, said natural gas will also be in the mix.

"We don't have any gas in our system today, so we think adding some gas is very good to be prudent and more balanced," he said. That's a move utilities across the country are already making. Xcel Energy has converted two of its coal plants near the Twin Cities to natural gas.

Natural gas plants are a lot more energy efficient and cleaner than coal plants. Technologies such as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, have helped make natural gas cheaper or more abundant than ever before. Fracking remains highly controversial because some say it damages the environment, but over the past two decades, 80 percent of additions to the power sector have been natural gas plants, Bloomberg Energy analyst Rob Barnett said.

"So already the industry has been choosing natural gas as kind of the default fuel of choice," Barnett said. "And right now, especially where gas prices are, coal is way out of the money."

Even so, most utilities are spending huge sums upgrading their newer and larger coal plants to meet EPA guidelines, rather than shutting them down. Just this week Minnesota Power announced it will spend nearly $400 million on new environmental controls at its Boswell power plant in Cohasset.

Minnesota Public Radio Lake Ontario water levels close to average Oswego, N.Y. – Water levels in Lake Ontario are now close to average, said officials with The International St. Lawrence River Board of Control. The board recently reviewed conditions in the Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River system and found that water received by Lake Ontario from its basin and inflow from Lake Erie were close to average in March and below average in April. Monthly precipitation also was below normal.

Board officials state the board's plan to moderately decrease Lake Ontario outflows has slowed the recent decline in levels. Water levels are now close to average; although they had been as much as 16 inches above average in early February. Board officials said the risk of Lake Ontario levels exceeding the upper monthly average limit has decreased to almost zero this year.

And because of the increasing risk of low levels later this year, the board has decided to continue restoring the water that was removed from Lake Ontario during the winter. The water is expected to be completely restored by June 22, board officials said.

Should Lake Ontario rise to a level of 246.39 feet, the restoration will stop. Board officials said they may vary outflows to adjust water levels downstream, or to meet critical hydropower, navigational or other needs. The level on Lake Ontario as of April 24 was 245.73 feet, 18.5 inches below the upper limit and 0.8 of an inch below the long-term average for that time of year.

Water levels on Lake St. Lawrence are above average. The level at the Port of Montreal on April 25 was 25.7 feet, a full 34.6 inches below average.

The Post-Standard


New SAR station to be occupied by summer

5/14 - Goderich, Ont. – The Canadian Coast Guard Search and Rescue Station is coming along well, according to project manager for Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Dwayne Jordan. The $1.7 million project includes a four-bedroom residence for the Coast Guard crew, as well as a new wharf for the Cape Discovery and the high speed Zodiac rescue craft.

"There is a dock associated with the job so there is a little bit of reshaping the shore there," Jordan said. "(The boats) will be right out in front of the building on a new wharf there. It's all part of the project." Construction is coming along on schedule, he said, and occupancy is expected for late June. Inside the building, things are getting down to finishing touches like paint and flooring, he said. The outside of the building will be a mix of block wall and anodized aluminum paneling.


Massena mayor sees tourism potential in Seaway

5/14 - Massena, N.Y. - Mayor James F. Hidy sees potential for Massena as the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corp. transitions into a new administration.

Seaway Development Corp. Administrator Collister W. “Terry” Johnson Jr. was fired by U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood last week. Seaway Deputy Administrator Craig H. Middlebrook will fill in as acting administrator until Mr. Johnson’s successor is named, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The change in administrations could provide the Seaway with a new opportunity to reinvest in its Massena facilities, Mr. Hidy said. He said he would like to see Massena expand and improve its tourist offerings, and sees a reinvestment in the Seaway grounds as an important step.

When he was growing up, the grounds surrounding the Dwight D. Eisenhower Lock were well-manicured, Mr. Hidy said. The grass was green and frequently cut, and a St. Lawrence Seaway logo was sculpted into a nearby lawn with flowers.

At some point, the grass surrounding the locks became brown and overgrown, Mr. Hidy said. He said he would like to see the grounds surrounding the locks restored to their original condition.

“We’re hoping they can also take a look at the overall appearance of the facility,” he said. “We’ve got to better enhance them and make them more appealing.”

In addition, Mr. Hidy would like the Seaway to expand its offerings to tourists. The viewing area at the Eisenhower Lock doesn’t offer tourists the full experience of a Seaway freighter, he said.

“Once it gets in that box you can’t really see it,” he said of the ships in the locks.

Instead, the Seaway should consider a parking lot and viewing area in between the Eisenhower and Snell locks, where visitors could get much closer to the ships and look up at them, he said.

Mr. Hidy once drove down a back road in Robert Moses State Park with his son, Robert, and said he found a much better spot to watch the ships than where tourists usually go. He said his son’s eyes were “as big as saucers” when he saw the ship up close.

“You could see everything just perfectly,” Mr. Hidy said. “It’s a small effort to construct something. ... We’ve got to get a little more creative out there.”

The Seaway’s Massena facility was better maintained when its policy administrators actually lived in the region and not in Washington, D.C., Mr. Hidy said.

“When they were here, this was one of the best-kept facilities in the system,” he said.

Mr. Hidy said he looked forward to working with Seaway Deputy Associate Administrator Carol Fenton, who so far has been “outstanding” on cooperating with him. He said the maintenance of the grounds surrounding Massena’s locks should be on par with the appearance of national monuments in Washington.

“That’s the way we should look at the locks, as a national monument,” he said.

Spokeswoman Nancy Alcalde said Seaway officials will be speaking with Mr. Hidy about his ideas. “We are taking it under advisement and plan to discuss it with Mr. Hidy in the near future,” she said.

Watertown Daily News


Updates -  May 14

News Photo Gallery


Today in Great Lakes History -  May 14

On 14 May 1881, CITY OF ROME (wooden propeller freighter, 268 foot, 1,908 gross tons) was launched by Thomas Quayle & Sons in Cleveland, Ohio. She was the largest vessel on the Lakes when she was launched. She lasted until 1914, when she burned near Ripley, New York on Lake Erie.

On May 14, 1959, the SHENANGO II and the HERBERT C. JACKSON both entered service. While the vessels have been fleet mates since 1967, the SHENANGO II was built by the Shenango Furnace Company. She operates today as the c.) HON. JAMES L. OBERSTAR, renamed last spring.

On May 14, 1943, the THOMAS WILSON entered service as the first of the sixteen vessels in the "Maritime" class.

The HOCHELAGA's self-unloading boom was installed on the RICHARD REISS, which had lost her boom April 13, 1994, when it collapsed at Fairport, Ohio. The REISS’ replacement boom was installed on May 14, 1994 by Port Weller Drydocks Ltd.

BLACK HAWK (wooden schooner, 98 foot, 178 gross tons) was launched in East Saginaw, Michigan on 14 May 1861. Thomas A. Estes was her builder. She was active until abandoned in the Kinnickinnic River at Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1908. On 13 October 1913, she was filled with flammable material and burned off Milwaukee as a public spectacle for the Perry Centennial Celebration.

On May 14, 1905, the new Anchor Line passenger steamer JUNIATA made her maiden voyage from the yards of the American Shipbuilding Company in Cleveland, Ohio to Detroit, Michigan. Sailing under the command of Capt. Edward J. Martin she left Cleveland at 7:05 in the morning and arrived at Detroit shortly before 4. On board, in addition to several officials of the line was her designer, Frank E. Kirby. Detroiters were treated to the sight of seeing both the JUNIATA and TIONESTA together for the first time as TIONESTA was loading for Duluth, Minnesota when the JUNIATA arrived from Cleveland and tied up alongside her older sister. The JUNIATA later departed for Chicago where her furnishings were installed.

On 14 May 1861, COMET (wooden side-wheeler, 174 foot. 337 gross tons, built in 1848, at Portsmouth, Ontario) collided with the 2-mast wooden schooner EXCHANGE, ten miles off Nine-Mile Point on Lake Ontario. Then an explosion rocked the COMET and she was destroyed by fire 2 or 3 lives were lost, but the survivors reached Simcoe Island in a lifeboat.

Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., May 14, 1900. - The tug W.A. ROOTH of the Great Lakes Towing company fleet was caught between the barge JOHN A. ROEBLING and the steamer HENRY C FRICK in the American canal last night and sunk. The crew escaped without injury. The tug was towing the barge ROEBLING out of the canal and in some manner got between the ROEBLING and the big steamer FRICK. Her sides were crushed in and she went down immediately in twenty feet of water.

1917 – SAXONA and PENTECOST MITCHELL collided head-on in the St. Marys River near Detour and both ships sank with their bows locked together. The former was refloated and repaired as LAKETON while the latter was also salvaged and remained in the U.S. Steel fleet.

1921 – The barge MIZTEC broke loose of the steamer ZILLAH in a storm and sank with all hands in Lake Superior northeast of Vermilion Point.

1952 – The JAMES NORRIS began her sailing career, loading a cargo of grain at Fort William.

1991 – The Yugoslavian bulk carrier MALINSKA ran aground off Main Duck Island, Lake Ontario, while outbound from the Great Lakes with a cargo of steel coils. It was lightered and released. The ship had been a Seaway trader since 1987 and now sails in the Algoma fleet as c) ALGOMA DISCOVERY.

Data from: Skip Gillham, Chuck Truscott, Jody Aho, 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 -  May 13

Sandusky-Marblehead, Ohio - Jim Spencer
Lee A. Tregurtha sailed from Sandusky Saturday morning, after loading overnight at the NorfolkSouthern coal dock. She was upbound, nearing the Detroit River at noon. At Marblehead, The tug Dorothy Ann and barge Pathfinder continued loading.


Michigan’s mysterious treasure ship Westmoreland found after 156 years

5/13 - Scuba diver and shipwreck hunter Ross Richardson calls his discovery of the wreck of the Westmoreland in 2010 “providential.” How else could he describe it after about a dozen attempts had been made to find the wreck since it sank in a terrible storm in December 1854 near the Manitou Islands, north of Traverse City in Lake Michigan?

Of course, advances in diving and sonar technology certainly gave Richardson advantages over all of the expeditions before him, but ending up in the right place at the right time and dogged efforts to find the wreck certainly helped his cause.

Ross Richardson discussed his discovery of the wreck as part of a symposium at the Dossin Great Lakes Museum on Belle Isle in April.

Richardson began researching the Westmoreland in 2003. It wasn’t long after he moved to the Lake Ann area in 2008 before he convinced his family it needed a boat for “recreational purposes.” Richardson had once searched for the wreck with another expedition in 2006 and became fixated by the Westmoreland. Now he was living in the backyard of where the ship had gone down and he began diving for the wreck on his own in 2009. Soon, his boat became a search vessel and Richardson purchased side-scan sonar equipment that cost almost as much as the boat. About a year after purchasing the boat and the sonar equipment, he discovered the wreck.

“I think the story just intrigued me: Treasure, whiskey, hardhat diving, all those cool elements were in the story,” Richardson said. “So I really started researching that, not even thinking that someday I would actually find it.”

According to newspaper and other accounts developed after the sinking of the Westmoreland, the ship was carrying $100,000 in gold coins (valued today at somewhere between $5 million-$25 million) and was loaded with barrels of premium quality whiskey and brandy.

Seventeen people went down with the ship, 15 when a lifeboat caught on a davit and flipped as the ship was sinking, and two more died as a lifeboat got caught in huge waves close to shore. Seventeen people survived.

A book published in 2011 titled “Grand Traverse: The Civil War Era,” by John C. Mitchell, indicates the Westmoreland was also carrying dozens of water-tight barrels of flour, which popped up to the surface during the sinking and ended up along the shoreline of Lake Michigan, helping early settlers survive the brutal oncoming winter.

In large part because of the alleged valuable cargo, expeditions to find the ship started in 1872 with a search conducted by the ship’s surviving first mate. After the turn of the century, expeditions continued in the 1930s, ’50s, ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, ’90s and the early part of the 21st century. Each of them came up with stories, including an 1851 penny found on the deck of some wreck in a 1936 expedition, but none came up with conclusive proof that they had found the mysterious Westmoreland.

That’s until Richardson came along in 2010.

On the morning of July 10, Richardson was beginning his third of two-mile runs, each about 100 yards apart, when he passed over what was unmistakably a shipwreck. He crossed over the area several times in an attempt to gain better sonar images and discovered what appeared to be an intact ship that looked very similar to the construction style of the Westmoreland. It was lying in about 200 feet of water in a hole between two large underwater hills near Sleeping Bear Dunes. He was by himself, but immediately called Jim Sawtelle, a previous searcher who carried out an expedition in 1957. Richardson had been in regular contact with Sawtelle exchanging information, so Ross wanted to share the discovery with him.

Now Richardson had to decide what to do next. He didn’t want to tell too many people and decided to dive the wreck by himself, a dangerous task in 200 feet of water. So, he headed out with his brother, grappled the boat and descended by himself. It would be his deepest solo dive ever. And to add to the circumstances, he decided to videotape the dive.

“I was never really fist-pumping. I never really got excited that way. I was more nervous, like what’s the next step,” he said. “So I decided to dive it alone.”

As the ship began to take shape beneath Richardson as he descended on his grappling line, he became the first person to lay eyes on the ship since she had sunk to the bottom of Lake Michigan 10 years before President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated.

As for the gold, the pilothouse, where the ship’s safe was located, was blown off as the ship sank and presumably has never been found. Richardson admits he will continue searching for the pilothouse and the gold coins.

“I haven’t gotten rich off of this. I don’t have a gold-plated car in the parking lot. I drive a Saturn,” he said.

The whiskey, which if intact could also be worth millions of dollars, couldn’t be seen because the hold was collapsed under the weight of decks above it. Richardson discovered an access hole into the hold but with virtually no room to move within it.

“I wouldn’t go in there. I don’t need a drink that badly,” Richardson quipped.

Richardson also said it’s possible the remains of the victims of the sinking are on or around the ship, but that looking for them was “not his thing.”

“I’m more of a preservationist, and more into the history. I’m not a treasure hunter, it just happened that the legend is this ship was carrying gold,” Richardson said.

“But it’s a great story and a great find. I feel privileged and humbled to be able to claim that I found it and share everyone else’s stories and the legend. It’s a great local legend for the northern Michigan region,” he added. “So I’m glad that it was me that found it so I could tell the stories as opposed to a treasure hunter.”

Richardson has refused to divulge the location of the Westmoreland, but said he will publish a book this summer about the discovery called “The Search for the Westmoreland: Lake Michigan’s Treasure Shipwreck,” with Arbutus Press. GPS coordinates will be in the book.

Learn more about Ross and his discoveries at his website

To see video from Richardson’s first dive on the Westmoreland and for more stories about shipwrecks and scuba diving-related activities, head to

Macomb Daily


Historian of the Year named by Marine Historical Society of Detroit

5/13 - St. Clair, Mich. – Emory A. Massman Jr. was awarded the Historian of the Year honor Saturday by the Marine Historical Society of Detroit at its annual dinner meeting at the St. Clair Inn.

Massman is the author of the new book "The Nicholson Lines and Their Captains," published recently by the society. The book is excellent historical and photographic account of the fleet from the 1920s-1960s, interlaced with interesting stories of the captains and crews that manned them.

Chris Winters, author of the book "Centennial," was the main speaker for the event, which was attended by MHSD members, guess and friends. For more information on the Marine Historical Society of Detroit, or to order Massman's book, go to


Today in Great Lakes History -  May 13

The tanker GEMINI (Hull#746) was launched at Orange, Texas by Levingston Ship Building Co. in 1978, for Cleveland Tankers Inc., a subsidiary of Ashland Oil. Renamed b.) ALGOSAR in 2005.

The tanker JUPITER made her maiden voyage May 13, 1976 from Smith's Bluff, Texas loaded with lube oil bound for Marcus Hooks, Penn. She was destroyed after exploding in the Saginaw River on September 16, 1990.

On May 13, 1913, Pittsburgh Steamship's THOMAS F. COLE collided with the barge IRON CITY on Lake St. Clair. The barge was cut in two.

Delivered May 13, 1943, the str. THOMAS WILSON departed under the command of Captain Henry Borgen on her maiden voyage from Lorain, Ohio, light bound for Duluth, Minnesota, to load iron ore.

The green-hulled schooner EMMA C. HUTCHINSON was launched at 4:00 p.m. on 13 May 1873, at the E. Fitzgerald yard in Port Huron. She was the largest vessel built at that yard up to that time. She was named for the wife of Mr. J. T. Hutchinson of Cleveland. Her dimensions were 195foot keel, 215 feet overall, 35 foot beam, 14 foot depth, 736 tons. She cost $55,000. Frank Leighton was her builder and Matthew Finn the master fitter. She was outfitted by Swan's Sons of Cleveland. Her painting was done by Ross & Doty of Port Huron.

On 13 May 1874, the Port Huron Times reported that someone had stolen the schooner ANNIE FAUGHT and that John Hoskins, the owner, was offering a reward for her recovery.

May 13, 1898 - The steamer JOHN ERICSSON, having in tow the barge ALEXANDER HOLLEY, bound down with ore, went aground while making the turn at the dark hole in little Mud Lake. She is on a sand bottom. Tugs and lighters have gone to release her. When the steamer grounded the barge ran into her, damaging the latter's bow and causing a large hole above the water line on the starboard side of the ERICSSON. Both were repaired temporarily.

On 13 May 1871, NORTHERNER (wooden barge, 220 foot, 1,391 gross tons) was launched by Capt. Wescott at Marine City, Michigan. Her master builder was John J. Hill. She was towed to Detroit to be fitted out and there was talk of eventually converting her to a passenger steamer. She remained a barge until 1880, when she was converted to a propeller freighter in Detroit. She lasted until 1892, when she burned at L'anse, Mich.

1914 – The package freight carrier CITY OF OTTAWA was upbound in the Cornwall Canal when it sheered over and struck the downbound S.N. PARENT on the port side at #2 hatch. The former was part of Canada Steamship Lines but was best known as the INDIA of the Anchor Line.

1915 – VALCARTIER and A.W. OSBORNE collided in Lake Huron above Corsica Shoal.

1933 – CALGARIAN, en route from Toronto to Montreal with automobiles and general cargo, stranded at Salmon Point in Lake Ontario, and was refloated two days later.

1943 – The caustic soda tanker DOLOMITE 4 was in and out of the Great Lakes via the New York State Barge Canal system. The vessel was torpedoed and sunk by U-176 off the north coast of Cuba on the date in 1943 as b) NICKELINER.

Data from: Skip Gillham, Jody Aho, Joe Barr, Dave Swayze, Father Dowling Collection, Historical Collections of the Great Lakes, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series, the Detroit Free Press and the Duluth Evening Herald.


Port Reports -  May 12

Marquette, Mich. – Rod Burdick
The Lower Harbor Shiras Dock received two stone cargoes in 24 hours. Great Lakes Trader was first on Friday evening, followed by Herbert C. Jackson Saturday morning.

Alpena, Mich. – Ben & Chanda McClain
The tug Samuel de Champlain and barge Innovation were in port on Thursday taking on cement. On Friday, Cuyahoga arrived at Lafarge around 1 p.m. to unload product into the storage hopper. Cuyahoga departed during the late evening and passed fleetmate Manitowoc, waiting out in the bay for a clear to channel to back into Lafarge. After tying up at the dock, the Manitowoc began unloading coal.

Sandusky-Marblehead, Ohio – Jim Spencer
Mississagi replaced the Dorothy Ann-Pathfinder at the Marblehead stone dock early Friday. The Interlake tug-barge unit had moved to the Lafarge quarry dock Thursday when the Calumet departed for Detroit. Loading at the NorfolkSouthern coal dock in Sandusky on Thursday were the tug/barge Invincible-McKee Sons, which sailed early Friday for the Soo.


Buffalo Coast Guard station accepts new, more capable response boat

5/12 - Buffalo, N.Y. - The crew of Coast Guard Station Buffalo, N.Y., took delivery Thursday of the station’s new 45-foot Response Boat-Medium, built by Marinette Marine, of Manitowoc, Wis.

The station crew has been running tests on the new boat out of the Buffalo’s Outer Harbor, demonstrating its advanced capabilities. The RB-M can respond faster than previous boats of similar size with a top speed in excess of 40 knots, has advanced search capability with an installed forward looking infrared search technology. Additionally, with twin jet propulsion, the vessel is able to respond in shallower water.

"This boat further enhances our ability to be ‘Always Ready,’" said Chief Petty Officer Dennis O’Connell, officer-in-charge of Station Buffalo. It can handle heavy seas and waves up to 12 feet and carry up to 25 people.

"This will be a great asset for us,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Thomas D’Amore, executive petty officer of the station. “It really increases our capabilities. With increased technology, we are able to respond quicker to a better defined location."

The RB-M is being added to Station Buffalo’s current complement, consisting of two 25-foot Response Boats-Small and one 33-foot Special Purpose Craft-Law Enforcement boat.


Lights of Milwaukee are seen from Muskegon

5/12 - Muskegon, Mich. – The technical term is “fata morgana” but in Muskegon it’s called “the lights of Milwaukee.”

Late in the evening Thursday stretching into early Friday morning, you could see the lights of Wisconsin from the Muskegon shoreline. The rare atmospheric condition allows lights 80 miles across Lake Michigan to be seen as if one was looking from one shore to the other on Houghton Lake.

As the reflect image fades and intensifies -- magnified at times by the layer of warm air resting over colder dense air over Lake Michigan – it was as if an armada of lake freighters were in a line off the shores of Muskegon. Another described it as a “string of jewels on a necklace.”

But when looking out into Lake Michigan, there is no doubt that one is seeing the other shoreline. Actual lights, such as the red beacon of a communications tower, are seen not just a glow on the horizon.

The lights appeared to stretch from Kenosha, Wis. on the south to south Milwaukee on the north. At times, Racine, Wis. was so brilliant that a lighthouse or a navigational aid flashed on the horizon as it if was 10 miles off shore.

The last time the fata morgana was reported was April 29, 2010.

The mirage is caused by the differences in temperature between the water and the air. Back in 2010, Dennis Donahue described it as an “optical illusion.”

The marine superintendent of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Great Lakes Environmental Research Station on the Muskegon Channel, Donahue is a veteran Great Lakes mariner. He has said he has observed the phenomenon aboard lake freighters in Lake Superior and across the Saginaw Bay.

The fata morgana mirage is described in the “American Practical Navigator” of the U.S. Department of Defense Mapping Agency. It is seen as a narrow band near the horizon and the atmospheric conditions distort the image being seen.

The visual effect can be observed on land or at sea, day or night, according to the federal instructional manual. The layer of warm air settling over colder creates an “atmospheric duct,” which acts as a refracting lens. The images seen are inverted.

What is happening to the light rays is similar to what happens a night with radio waves of certain frequencies, as when AM radio stations can be heard from hundreds of miles away.



Book detailing construction of Welland Canals to be launched today at St. Catharines

5/12 - St. Catharines, Ont. - The St. Catharines, Museum and Welland Canals Centre will host a book launch Saturday May 12 for a work of literature the publisher claims reveals previously unpublished information about the construction of the canals.

Authors Roberta M. Styran and Robert R. Taylor, who are retired Brock University professors, will be on hand from 1-3 p.m. to sign copies of “This Great National Object: Building the Nineteenth Century Welland Canals,” published by McGill-Queen’s University Press. The museum and canals centre is at Lock 3, at 1932 Welland Canals Parkway about a kilometre south of the Garden City Skyway, where the Queen Elizabeth Way crosses the canal.

The book is said to describe the experiences of the engineers, contractors and labourers of the inland waterways between 1824 and 1889.

“Making extensive use of the National Archives and the Archives of Ontario, Styran and Taylor unveil previously unpublished information about the construction of the canals, including technical plans and drawings from a wide variety of sources,” the publisher states on its website. “They illustrate the technical and management intricacies of building a navigational trade and commerce lifeline while also revealing the vivid characters - from businessman William Hamilton Merritt to engineer John Page - who inspired the project and drove it to completion.”

Copies are available from the St. Catharines Museum.


Updates -  May 12

News Photo Gallery


Today in Great Lakes History -  May 12

The CABOT (Hull#649) was launched May 12, 1965, at Lauzon, Quebec by Davie Shipbuilding Ltd., for Gulf Ports Steamship Co. Ltd. (Clarke Steamship Co. Ltd., mgr.). In 1983, the CABOT's stern was attached to the bow section of the NORTHERN VENTURE to create the CANADIAN EXPLORER.

The THOMAS WALTERS, American Shipbuilding, Lorain (Hull#390) entered service on May 12, 1911, with coal from Sandusky, Ohio to Duluth, Minnesota. Renamed b.) FRANK R. DENTON in 1952, she was scrapped at Ashtabula, Ohio in 1984.

The carferry GRAND HAVEN was sold to the West India Fruit & Steamship Co., Norfolk, Virginia on May 12, 1946, and was brought down the Mississippi River to New Orleans, Louisiana for reconditioning before reaching Port Everglades and the Port of Palm Beach, Florida.

On 12 May 1875, the scow-schooner SEA BIRD of Chicago was driven onto the beach a half-mile south of the harbor at Holland, Michigan by a Northeaster. After the storm, she was high and dry on the beach.

The wooden J S SEAVERNS ran aground and stranded near Michipicoten Island on Lake Superior on 12 May 1884. She had been carrying passengers from Chicago to Port Arthur. She was pulled free by a tug, but then sank. She was formerly a steam barge, being built on the bottom of the side-wheel tug JOHN P. WARD in Saugatuck, Michigan in 1880. The WARD dated back to 1857, had burned in 1865, was then rebuilt as a schooner, and in 1880, was finally rebuilt as the SEAVERNS.

1975 – The tug TARA HILL was damaged by a fire set by vandals at New Orleans. This vessel had operated on the Great Lakes as NORTHERN, CHARLES R. RANDLE SR., HELEN HINDMAN, SUSAN HINDMAN and HERBERT A. Lloyds notes “continued existence in doubt” in 1997 but the hull was likely dismantled much earlier.

1978 – PHOTINIA ran aground off Milwaukee in rough seas and the crew was rescued. The ship was refloated but declared a total loss. It was towed to various Lake Michigan ports in the next two years and was eventually dismantled at Kewaunee, Wis., in 1981.

Data from: Skip Gillham, Jody Aho, Max Hanley, 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 -  May 11

Grand Haven, Mich. - Dick Fox
The tug Undaunted and barge Pere Marquette 41 delivered a load to the Verplank dock in Ferrysburg early on the afternoon of May 9. They unloaded and left later that day.

Lorain, Ohio - Phil Leon
Manistee called the Lorain bridge tender around 4:20 a.m.; she cleared the bridge around 4:55 and docked just south and east of the rail road near the Jonick dock.


Thunder Bay hopes Wheat Board change brings more business

5/11 - Thunder Bay, Ont. – The head of the Thunder Bay Port Authority says the reduced role of the Canadian Wheat Board in marketing wheat and barley may help the port.

Tim Heney said after the board loses its monopoly in August, grain companies will be in charge of transporting their own wheat. He added the route up the St. Lawrence Seaway will be attractive for shippers.

“Many of these companies have facilities in the lower river as well, so they're going to want to use that supply chain,” Heney said. “So I think so far … we're optimistic.”

In an interview at the Port Authority's annual meeting Thursday, Heney also said he wants to see a review of mandatory fees charged to users of the St. Lawrence Seaway. He says it costs about $135,000 in piloting fees alone to bring an ocean ship to Thunder Bay. That, he said, hurts the competitiveness of the port.

Ultimately, the success of wheat shipments through the port depends on the success of the grain companies that use the port, Heney said.

The Port Authority says nearly 900 people are directly employed in shipping-related jobs in Thunder Bay.

CBC News


Will environmental pothole make this Badger’s last season?

5/11 - Ludington, Mich. – In the dim light below deck on the S.S. Badger, chief engineer Bill Kulka worked toward a deadline. He and other employees had torn apart the ship's two steam engines, removing mammoth pistons and bearings, and were laboring to get it back together before the start of the car ferry's summer season May 24.

Nearby, the ship's four boilers were being readied to burn the 8,700 tons of coal that will power the ship across Lake Michigan this season — and therein is the problem.

The company that owns the Badger, the last coal-fired ship on the Great Lakes, is facing another deadline. Unless Congress intervenes or the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency relents, this season could be the Badger's last. The EPA has given the ship's owners until Dec. 15 to stop dumping coal ash into Lake Michigan.

Environmental groups contend the ash contains chemicals that contaminate the water and pose a threat to fish and, ultimately, humans.

The trace amounts of those chemicals are too small to harm the environment, responded Robert Manglitz, president and part owner of Lake Michigan Carferry, the Ludington-based company that owns the ship.

"People are unaware what's in that ash," he said. "It's basically sand."

If the Badger stops sailing, it will devastate the Ludington area economy, Manglitz and other local business and civic leaders contend.

"Shutting it down would basically change Ludington as we know it," said Jeff Curtis, who manages a Holiday Inn Express and a Best Western motel. "Probably the best way to explain it is if you had a hotel right next to an airport, and they closed the airport. You're going to lose jobs, and businesses are going to close."

When the Badger cut its season by one week a few years ago, Curtis saw his business drop 20 percent during that period. He has delayed buying a shuttle van and building a breakfast room at the Holiday Inn until he can be assured the Badger will continue sailing after this year.

Each year, the Badger pumps about $25 million into the Ludington area economy and $15 million to $20 million into Manitowoc's — the car ferry's port on the Wisconsin side, Manglitz said. He based the estimate on a 1991 study by West Shore Community College that found the ferry then contributed $15 million annually to the Ludington area economy.

The ship employs about 200 in season and 30-40 in the off-season. It draws about 140,000 tourists each year and produces 500 indirect jobs in Mason County, a West Shore Community College follow-up study concluded in 2003.

"We'd hate to lose those jobs," said Brandy Henderson, marketing director for the Ludington Area Convention & Visitors Bureau. "Most of the downtown businesses and hotels are only open in season. They really depend on that business."

Beyond its economic impact, many residents have a sentimental attachment to the Badger as a symbol for the city. For some, losing it is unthinkable.

For generations, kids in Ludington have played Badger on their bikes and rode down to the dock to watch the ship come in after the four-hour, 60-mile trip across the lake, said Brad Reed, who runs a downtown photo gallery with his father, Todd. He and other community leaders founded Save Our Ship and a website ( supporting the vessel's continued operation.

"It's embedded in our culture," Reed said.

Car ferries have been sailing to and from Ludington since 1897. At one time, seven were based here. The 410-foot-long Badger was built in 1952 to carry railroad cars, as well as passengers, across the lake.

By the 1970s, the railroads decided they no longer needed the ferries. The Badger was sold to a private investor, who converted it to transport autos, freight and passengers. By 1990, his company was bankrupt, and the Badger's run appeared to be over.

In 1991, Charles Conrad, a local businessman and former purser on the ship, bought it, and the Badger resumed sailing. When Conrad died a couple of years later, Manglitz, his son-in-law, took it over.

As other coal-burning ships went out of service, the Badger continued sailing. In 2008, the EPA required it to obtain a five-year permit to dump ash into Lake Michigan, a grace period for the company to convert the ship to another fuel. That permit expires in December.

The Sierra Club put the ship's owners in touch with DTE Energy Co. to consider converting the Badger to compressed natural gas, but Manglitz said the fuel tanks would be too large to make it practical.

Instead, with a $75,000 grant from the Wisconsin State Energy Office, his company is conducting an engineering study into converting the ship's boilers to liquefied natural gas, which would require smaller tanks. The Great Lakes Maritime Research Institute, with an $800,000 federal grant, also is using the Badger as a test case into the feasibility of converting Great Lakes ships to natural gas.

Converting the Badger to liquefied natural gas would cost about $8 million, Manglitz estimated. "It's a huge deal," he said. "It would be like converting your car to steam."

The problem is that liquefied natural gas is not readily available in Michigan. The nearest liquefied gas plant is in southern Illinois. No ships in this country currently run on the fuel.

That's why Manglitz last November asked the EPA for a five-year extension on his permit, allowing the Badger to continue dumping coal ash in the lake. "What I need is time for liquefied natural gas to catch up with us," he said.

In a Feb. 6 letter to Manglitz, the EPA rejected his petition because it "did not contain adequate support (i.e. technical and/or economic information) for its conclusions." The company can reapply for a new permit by June 29, the agency said.

On a conference table in his office, Manglitz plunked down the application's 2,000 pages. "I think the attorneys charge by the page," he said.

He declined to reveal the company annual revenue but said it remains profitable.

"The company's doing well, if I could stop spending dollars for the EPA," he said. "The government certainly hasn't been a friend in this."

That's why he's hedging his bet. At Manglitz's request, U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Zeeland, sponsored an amendment to the Coast Guard Reauthorization Bill allowing the Badger to continue dumping coal ash in Lake Michigan because it has been nominated for designation as a National Historic Landmark. Representatives of 14 environmental groups signed a letter to the National Park Service urging it to delay granting the landmark designation.

State Rep. Marcia Hovey-Wright, D-Muskegon, opposes allowing the Badger to continue dumping ash, saying it would be unfair to the only other Lake Michigan ferry — the high-speed Lake Express, based in Muskegon.

The U.S. House passed the Coast Guard bill, including Huizenga's amendment, Dec. 9. But it faces formidable Senate opposition led by Richard Durbin, D-Illinois. "It is the height of irony that your car ferry operation is threatening the future of the very lake you depend on for your livelihood," Durbin wrote.

Manglitz knows his opponents wield a great deal of influence. "We've got an uphill battle. It's been an uphill battle from the start," he said.

Still, Manglitz remains optimistic. "We believe we'll be running next year."

Crains Detroit Business


Canadian gill netters caught in Ohio waters of Lake Erie for the second time in a week

5/11 - The Ontario commercial fishing boat ADCO II was caught with its gill nets in Ohio waters on Wednesday, the second time in a week the Canadian-flagged net boat has been found illegally fishing on the wrong side of the international border.

The U.S. Coast Guard boarded the ADCO II just after noon on Wednesday after locating five gill nets straddling the Ohio-Ontario line southeast of Middle Sister Island. The Coast Guard was alerted by Homeland Security forces of the illegal fishing activity. Coast Guard officers seized almost 1,000 feet of gill nets and five net anchors, and documented about 350 pounds of walleye in the gill nets.

The ADCO II was also boarded on May 3 while pulling gill nets in Ohio waters near North Bass Island.

The ADCO II took the walleye back to Ontario, where Ministry of Natural Resources officials will donate them to charity. The Ohio Division of Wildlife plans to file additional charges in Ottawa County Municipal Court in Port Clinton against the boat's owner, Pisces Fishery Incorporated of Wheatley, Ontario, and Melchiorre Pace, the boat's captain.

"It's something of a puzzle that a Canadian commercial boat would fish on the border and risk being cited," said Gino Barna, the head of Lake Erie law enforcement for the Ohio Division of Wildlife. "Homeland Security and the Coast Guard are constantly patrolling Lake Erie border waters, making it unlikely the illegal nets would go unnoticed."

The Cleveland Plain Dealer


Head of U.S. Seaway steps down

5/11 - The embattled head of the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corp., Collister W. “Terry” Johnson Jr., appears to have finally caved in to political pressure and has stepped down with five months left on his seven-year term.

Seaway Deputy Administrator Craig H. Middlebrook will fill in as acting administrator until Mr. Johnson’s successor is named, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. Mr. Johnson’s leave was announced abruptly but was not unexpected.

In February, he said that the Obama administration had been pressuring him to resign and that he was not sure how long he would be in the job. He was appointed in October 2006 by George W. Bush — his college roommate at Yale — and was the last remaining appointee of President Bush at the DOT.

Mr. Johnson said in an interview with Great Lakes-Seaway News, a daily online journal of the waterway, in December that he has been facing “ongoing, petty harassment” on the job — such as finding his office door locked — for nearly a year since Deputy Transportation Secretary John Porcari initially tried to force him to quit.

DOT spokeswoman Sasha Johnson declined to comment on the circumstances surrounding his departure, saying only that it is the department’s policy not to discuss personnel matters.

While she confirmed Wednesday that Mr. Middlebrook became acting administrator this week, she did not disclose when or even whether Mr. Johnson had submitted a letter of resignation. When asked about the timeline for finding Mr. Johnson’s replacement, she said simply that the department is “just beginning the process of searching for a new administrator.”

His predecessor, Albert S. Jacquez, was appointed by President Bill Clinton and was allowed to complete a full term.

Word of Mr. Johnson’s nomination came just shy of two months of Mr. Jacquez’s last day, and he was named the Seaway’s ninth administrator upon Senate confirmation a month later.

Jennifer J. Caddick, executive director of Save the River, Clayton, said that although her group and Mr. Johnson have “never seen eye-to-eye” on issues such as winter navigation or rules on ballast water treatment, he “never turned away a phone call” and was always “very clear and specific” about his role at the Seaway.

“He was always clear about his position. I remember him saying to us once: ‘My job is to look out for the shipping industry, and your job is to look out for the environment,’” Ms. Caddick said. “At least he was honest with us.”

Unlike many of his predecessors, the New York native also had several years of ocean shipping experience already under his belt.

Mr. Johnson had once headed the largest economic development agency in Virginia as chairman from 1986 to 1994 of the Virginia Port Authority, where he oversaw the authority’s acquisition and merger of the ports of Norfolk, Newport News and Suffolk.

He also was president and chief executive officer of FastShip Atlantic, a company that develops technology for rapid transoceanic freight service.

His temporary successor, Mr. Middlebrook, has been a career employee of the U.S. Seaway since 1995, and described by environmental advocates as being “familiar with the river and the issues.”

Watertown Daily Times


Today in Great Lakes History -  May 11

On May 11, 1953, the HENRY STEINBRENNER went down in Lake Superior near Isle Royale with 17 of her 31 crewmembers. The storm followed an unseasonably warm and humid stretch of weather in northern Minnesota for that time of year, which fueled the storm's fast growth. The high temperature of 87 degrees set in Grand Marais, Minnesota on May 8, 1953, still stands as that town's all-time record high for the month of May, and it is just eight degrees shy of the town's all-time record for any month.

The 144 foot, 3-mast, wooden bark JESSE HOYT was launched at East Saginaw, Michigan, by Smith & Whitney on 11 May 1854. Later in her career, she was converted to a schooner and lasted until 1896, when she sank in Lake Michigan in a collision.

The A. WESTON (wooden steam barge, 164 foot, 511 gross tons) left Mount Clemens, Michigan on her maiden voyage on 11 May 1882. She was built by William Dulac. Her hull was painted black. She was powered by a single 28 inch x 32 inch engine and she was designed for the lumber trade. She was sold Canadian in 1909, and was renamed CONGERCOAL. She lasted until she burned to a total loss at Fair Haven, New York on 10 May 1917.

On 11 May 1886, OSSIFRAGE (wooden propeller passenger-package freight steamer, 123 foot, 383 gross tons) was launched by F. W. Wheeler & Co. (Hull #26) at West Bay City, Michigan. She was rebuilt a number of times and ended her days on salt water. While being towed in the Northumberland Strait in the Atlantic Ocean, she struck a shoal and foundered in September 1919.

1934 – KEYBAR ran aground above the Canadian Lock at Sault Ste. Marie and was stuck for 12 hours. Part of the cargo of grain was lightered before the ship floated free. The vessel was scrapped at Port Dalhousie in 1963.

1945 – MOYRA began Great Lakes trading in 1931. It was owned by the Government of Newfoundland when fire broke out in the St. Lawrence east of Quebec City on this date in 1945. The ship was beached off Ile d'Orleans and was heavily damaged. The vessel was rebuilt at Montreal and sold to Norwegian interests as b) HEIKA returning to the Great Lakes in 1953. It also visited as c) MARISCO in 1957 and foundered in the Gulf of Laconia, Greece, while en route from Varna, Bulgaria, to Genoa, Italy, with iron ore on October 20, 1959.

1974 – While outbound in the Cuyahoga River, a fire broke out aboard the GEORGE D. GOBLE. The Kinsman Lines bulk carrier was docked and the blaze was extinguished with about $2,500 in damage.

1987 – LONDON FUSILIER, an SD-14, was a year old when it first came through the Seaway in 1973. Fire broke out in #5 hold while unloading at Hamburg, West Germany, as c) HER LOONG on this date in 1987 resulting in extensive damage. The ship was towed to Valencia, Spain, in July 1987 and scrapped.

Data from: Skip Gillham, Jody Aho, Joe Barr, Dave Swayze, Father Dowling Collection, Historical Collections of the Great Lakes, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series. The Detroit Free Press and the Duluth Evening Herald.


Port Reports -  May 10

Twin Ports – Al Miller
The new saltie Clipper Gemini remained at the Duluth port terminal Wednesday afternoon after unloading several large pieces of generating equipment bound for Canada. Indiana Harbor and Cason J. Callaway were loading at the CN ore dock, and Kaministiqua was loading at Midwest Energy Terminal.

Ashland, Wis. – Al Miller
USCGC Alder was working aids to navigation off Ashland, Wis., on Wednesday afternoon.

Marquette, Mich. – Rod Burdick
Lee A. Tregurtha arrived to load ore on a foggy Tuesday morning at the Upper Harbor.

Munising, Mich. – Rod Burdick and Lee Rowe
Great Republic opened the small Lake Superior port of Munising when she arrived Wednesday evening to unload coal at Neenah Paper.

St. Marys River – Michelle Hill
Wednesday afternoon the articulated tug/barge Ken Boothe Sr. and Lakes Contender were downbound in the Poe Lock with a load of taconite on the return portion of its maiden voyage.

Straits of Mackinac – Al Miller
St. Clair was eastbound under the Mackinac Bridge about 7 a.m. Wednesday, upbound to Lake Superior.

Alpena, Mich. – Ben & Chanda McClain
The Alpena loaded cement at Lafarge on Tuesday and departed by early evening for Milwaukee. The Durocher tug Nancy Ann and a barge with equipment were out in the bay Wednesday evening. The pair came in before sundown and tied up in the river in separate locations.

Buffalo, N.Y. – Brian W.
Calumet was in port on Wednesday early in the day.

Hamilton, Ont. – Andre Blanchard
Mississagi arrived Wednesday evening. Cuyahoga departed Tuesday morning and was headed to Alpena. Algowood, Federal Nakagawa and Algoma Quebecois are due on Thursday.

Bowmanville, Ont, – Andre Blanchard
John B. Aird left Bowmanville Tuesday and is en-route to Superior. Sea Eagle arrived Tuesday and left Wednesday.

Oswego, N.Y. – Ned Goebricher
The tug Evans McKeil and barge Metis unloaded cement on Wednesday.


2 Pelee Island ferries won’t be in service until end of month

5/10 - Pelee Island, Ont. – The two ferries that run to Pelee Island, the southern most part of Canada, will not be in service until at least the end of May, the company that runs the vessels announced Tuesday.

Two ferries that run the international route have been out of service for weeks. The Pelee Islander provides service from Sandusky and the Jiimaan runs to the island from the Canadian towns of Leamington and Kingsville. The vessels usually start shuttling passengers and cargo back and forth to the island in April.

The Jiimaan was expected back on the water this week and the Pelee Islander was due to be released for service on May 15.

“It has been confirmed to [Owen Sound Transportation Co.] that the necessary repairs to Jiimaan will not be completed in time for a May 11 return to service date,” the company said in a statement. “At this time, our best information is that the repairs are estimated to be completed at the end of the month. The actual return to service date will be updated as the work progresses.”

The company further stated: “Regrettably, the Pelee Islander will not operate any service between Pelee Island and Sandusky, Ohio, until the Jiimaan is back.”

Currently, the only way to get to the island is by small plane but there is usually a 40-pound baggage limit on the small charter flights. The island’s small airport cannot handle large cargo planes.

The Canadian government, which owns the two ferries, is now subsidizing small aircraft flights from Windsor to the island. The flights, which are usually only available during the winter, currently cost just $7.50 for a regular ticket and $5 for seniors, the same cost of a ride on the ferries.

Toledo Blade


Lake Express cruise points up Muskegon’s fondness for the Great Lakes

5/10 - Muskegon, Mich. – Muskegon's love affair with the lakes was on display at Saturday's Lake Express cruise. That was obvious when several hundred people took an hour-long excursion out into Lake Michigan aboard the high-speed ferry. The event was a Lake Express fundraiser for the Grand Valley State University Water Resources Institute in Muskegon.

The combination of a water-based transportation company and Great Lakes freshwater research are perfect Muskegon examples of the “blue economy” – the economic engine that is driven by water resources.

Water has been a huge draw as the Muskegon River and Muskegon Lake have created economic eras here from fur trading to lumber and industry. Yet, the water’s draw is not enough to keep some of its best and brightest at home.

Jonathan Freye grew up along the shores of Muskegon Lake from a family that has a long history with the lake and sailing out of the Muskegon Yacht Club. Susan Walker had a similar childhood attachment to water growing up on Duck Lake. The two recent graduates of Muskegon Catholic Central High School are living in Battle Creek and Grand Rapids, respectively. But when offered an opportunity to get out on Muskegon Lake and Lake Michigan aboard the Lake Express they jumped at it.

“The future of that lake is important to Muskegon,” Freye said, waiting in line for the Lake Express trip. “It is a tremendous, tremendous resource.”

What will sadden any Muskegon parent or grandparent are the young couple’s plans. They will be moving to the Washington, D.C., area to pursue careers, they said. “It’s going to be hard to leave,” Walker said of leaving Muskegon County and its waters. But each of them said the day will come when the water will likely call them home.

“I don’t see being away from the lake forever,” Freye said of wanting to return to Muskegon after 10 or 15 years on the East Coast.

Glenn Hoffman also grew up along the southern shores of Muskegon Lake. He and his wife, Evva moved away from Muskegon … all of the way north to Whitehall. The Alcoa Howmet retirees also were on board The Lake Express for the first time Saturday.

When thinking about Muskegon Lake, Glenn Hoffman’s thoughts went to the current issues involving the redevelopment of the Sappi paper mill property – a 120-acre site with nearly a mile of Muskegon Lake shoreline. The lengthy Whitehall Tannery property cleanup on White Lake provides lessons for the Muskegon Lake site, he said.

“We want it unpolluted and fixed up,” Hoffman said of the Sappi site. “I would hope some kind of recreational use of the water would be possible.”

But Evva Hoffman said that keeping the lake “safe for generations” is the most important issue when it comes to Muskegon waters.

Steve Belmarez is a former Sappi paper mill worker who lost his job as the plant was closed in 2009 and the property eventually was sold to Melching Inc. for demolition and redevelopment. A Muskegon Lake recreational boater and fisherman, Belmarez said he hopes that Sappi and the Muskegon Lake waterfront is used to create jobs.

“We are fortunate to have this body of water,” said Belmarez who worked 16 years at the Sappi plant and was out on the Lake Express excursion Saturday. “It’s a sporting lake and we are fortunate to have it in our town. There is no place better to live than in Muskegon.”

But Muskegon Lake needs to be more than just about fishing, boating and swimming, he said. The lake needs to be clean but the community must be open to using the deep-water port for industrial-type uses that will create good-paying jobs, Belmarez said.

“This is a versatile harbor that can support industry and sports fishing,” Belmarez said while walking on board The Lake Express. “We’ve got to get it going and find the money to propel it forward.”

But when it comes to living around water in Muskegon, there is no experience like a storm coming in off Lake Michigan. Part of Andrew Zimmerman’s love of living in the Lakeside Neighborhood is running down to Pere Marquette Park beach to watch the weather build over Lake Michigan.

“I love the lakes,” said the bread company merchandiser as he awaited his first time on Lake Express. “I really love the scenery of the storms coming in. I love to sit and watch the storms move in over the lake.”



GVSU wind buoy now collecting information in the middle of Lake Michigan

5/10 - The WindSentinel unit that was tested for two months last fall four miles into the lake off the Muskegon shoreline now sits on the “mid-lake plateau,” where it will be working until December. The floating buoy is 37 miles west of White Lake in a shallower part of Lake Michigan in 175 feet of water, university officials said.

GVSU’s Michigan Alternative and Renewable Energy Center in Muskegon has partnered with other researchers from the University of Michigan and Michigan State University along with public and private funding sources to collect data for the study of offshore wind turbines in the lake.

“This is the first time a research buoy of this type will operate this far offshore,” said MAREC Director Arn Boezaart. “Project supporters across North America are eagerly waiting for the research season results.”

The buoy spent the winter months on the wall of the Muskegon Channel next to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration field station. It was transported to its 2012 research location by Andrie Inc. – a Muskegon-based marine transportation company.

The buoy is a six-ton floating structure looking like a little yellow boat. It is anchored to the bottom of the lake with a five-ton weight. The platform built by AXYS Technologies of British Columbia is equipped with a Vindicator laser wind sensor manufactured by Catch the Wind Inc. of Chantilly, Va.

The buoy is only one of two in existence and the only one in the Great Lakes.

The laser wind assessment system will measure wind speed and direction every second from 250 to 575 feet off the lake surface. That height is critical for the next generation of offshore wind turbines, which will have hubs reaching such heights, Boezaart said.

“The wind measurements will be especially interesting because researchers have not had this kind of real-time, hub height field data before, especially from this location which is expected to have very high wind energy potential,” said Jim Edmonson, a consultant and project manager for GVSU.

Besides the information gathered on the wind, the buoy is equipped to measure dozens of other lake factors from water temperature and wave action to the presence of birds and bats, university officials said. All of that detailed data will be stored on the buoy’s computer.

Basic hourly wind information will be transmitted by satellite to GVSU researchers. But the complete package of information will be downloaded every six weeks as the Andrie work boat makes a run out to the buoy location, Boezaart said.

Participating in the wind assessment project is WE Energies in Wisconsin, which is particularly interested in the mid-lake wind conditions, Boezaart said. A U.S. Department of Energy research grant was the financial foundation for the $3.3 million wind buoy project.

Because of a loss of funding from the Michigan Public Services Commission, GVSU is financially supporting this year’s data collection effort. However, scientists will have a huge collection of information that will not be able to be analyzed until further research dollars are secured, Boezaart said. The university continues to seek funding partners on the project, he said.



Updates -  May 10

News Photo Gallery


Today in Great Lakes History -  May 10

1923 – The H.A. ROCK of the Forest City Steamship Co., went aground in Georgian Bay. The vessel was taken to drydock where the plates were removed, re-rolled and put back. The ship was idle May 18 to June 1 and the cost was $13,707.60.

Steamer COLUMBIA (Hull#148) was launched in 1902 by the Detroit Ship Building Co., Wyandotte, Michigan. The steamer was built for day excursions between Detroit and Bob-Lo Island. The vessel has been in lay-up since September 2, 1991 at Nicholson's Terminal.

On May 10, 1981, the WILLIAM J. DELANCEY entered service for Interlake Steamship Co.. She became the largest vessel on the Great Lakes at that time, and at least in the last 130 years, she has held the honor of being the largest vessel on the Great Lakes longer than any other vessel. Renamed b.) PAUL R TREGURTHA in 1990.

On 10 May 1858, LEMUEL CRAWFORD (3 mast wooden bark, 135 foot, 450 tons, built in 1855, at Black River, Ohio) was carrying wheat from Chicago to Buffalo. She ran into a heavy gale and went out of control near Pelee Passage and struck a reef 1-1/2 miles off East Sister Island in Lake Erie. She began to sink immediately and the 13 onboard scrambled up her masts and lashed themselves to her rigging. After two days, they were finally rescued by the tug R R ELIOTT out of Detroit.

May 10, 1922 -- The ANN ARBOR NO 4 ran aground at Green Isle. She was released with no damage.

The first Welland Canal was opened between St. Catharine's and Lake Ontario on 10 May 1828. The first vessel to navigate this route was the schooner WELLAND CANAL. This was a new vessel having been launched at St. Catharines, Ontario on 24 April 1828.

On 10 May 1898, ISAAC LINCOLN (wooden propeller freighter, 134 foot, 376 gross tons) was launched at Anderson's yard in Marine City, Michigan for A. F. Price of Freemont, Michigan and Capt. Egbert of Port Huron, Michigan. She cost $40,000. She lasted until 1931, when she was abandoned.

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.


Fast start for Lakes limestone; up 21 percent in April

5/9 - Cleveland, Ohio – Shipments of limestone on the Great Lakes totaled 2.6 million tons in April, an increase of 21 percent compared to a year ago and 5.1 percent better than the month’s 5-year average. The strongest gains came at U.S. ports. Loadings rose by almost 370,000 tons (again 21 percent). Shipments from Canadian quarries increased by nearly 80,000 tons, or 20.5 percent. Year-to-date the Lakes limestone trade stands at 2,753,400 tons, an increase of 26.5 percent compared to a year ago and 6.5 percent ahead of the 5-year average for the January-April timeframe.


Port Reports -  May 9

Sandusky-Marblehead-Huron - Jim Spencer
Herbert C. Jackson steamed into Sandusky Bay before dawn Tuesday and began loading at the NorfolkSouthern coal dock. She was expected to deliver the equivalent of 160 rail car of coal in Ecorse before continuing upbound. North, across the bay on the Marblehead Peninsula, Manistee was loading at the LaFarge stone dock. A few miles to the east, at Huron, Arthur M. Anderson was discharging a Stoneport load at the Huron Lime Co. dock. Thus far, the 2012 shipping season appears to be more active in all three ports.

Buffalo, N.Y. - Brian W.
Rebecca Lynn - A-397 was downbound at the Black Rock lock at 7 a.m. Tuesday. They were tied up and unloading at the Noco pier in Tonawanda by noon.

Rochester, N.Y. - Tom Brewer
The tug Evans McKeil, with the barge Metis, departed Tuesday morning after unloading bulk cement at Essroc's Rochester Terminal.

Lake Ontario Ports - Andre Blanchard
Oshawa, Ont. - The Panamanian-registered bulk carrier arrived in Oshawa early Tuesday morning. She was assisted into port by Ocean tugs Omni-Richelieu and Jerry G.

Toronto, Ont. – The cement carrier English River left Tuesday evening destined for Bath, Ont., a regular port of call for this vessel.

Hamilton, Ont. - Cuyahoga arrived Tuesday evening.

Bowmanville, Ont. - John B. Aird was docked at the St. Marys Cement pier. Sea Eagle II was due to arrive early Tuesday evening.


Mackinac Island Creamery comes to Vantage Point

5/9 - Port Huron, Mich. – The Mackinac Island Creamery trailer has opened at Vantage Point, adjacent to the Great Lakes Maritime Center on the St. Clair River. The trailer is open on Friday nights (5-9), Saturdays (11-9) and Sundays (12-6) for the month of May. After Memorial Day, the Mackinac Island Creamery trailer will be open seven days a week.


Toronto Marine Historical Society auction ending this Saturday

5/9 - The TMHS Silent Auction closes for final bids this Saturday, May 12, at 11:59 p.m. Bidding has been active on many artifacts but other items have few or no bids at all. This is an inexpensive way to add to your marine collection and help support a volunteer organization dedicated to the history of Great Lakes ships. For more information click here


Updates -  May 9

News Photo Gallery (we forgot to link this on Monday)


Today in Great Lakes History -  May 9

The JOHN J BOLAND (Hull# 417) was launched May 9, 1953 at Manitowoc, Wisconsin by Manitowoc Shipbuilding Co. for the American Steamship Co. making way for the keel of the DETROIT EDISON (2) to be laid. The BOLAND was renamed b.) SAGINAW in 1999.

On May 9, 1951 the CLIFFS VICTORY arrived at the South Chicago yard of the American Ship Building Co. completing her 37 day, 3,000 mile journey from Baltimore, Maryland. There her deck houses, stack, masts, deck machinery, rudder and propeller were installed and the floatation pontoons removed.

The ROBERT C. NORTON (2) was laid up on May 9, 1980 for the last time at the Hans Hansen Dock at Toledo, Ohio.

PETER REISS (Hull#522) was launched at Superior, Wisconsin by Superior Ship Building Co., on May 9, 1910 for the North American Steamship Co. (Reiss Coal Co.).

On 9 May 1864, AMAZON (2-mast wooden brig, 93 foot, 172 tons, built in 1837 at Port Huron, Michigan as a schooner) was carrying coal from Cleveland for Lake Superior when she went out of control in a storm just as she was leaving the St. Clair River for Lake Huron. She was driven ashore near Point Edward, Ontario and was broken up by the wave action. At the time of her loss, she was considered the oldest working schooner on the Lakes.

May 9, 1900 -- The carferry PERE MARQUETTE (15) began carferry service to Milwaukee for the Pere Marquette Railway.

On Friday night, 9 May 1873, the schooner CAPE HORN collided with the new iron propeller JAVA off Long Point on Lake Erie. The schooner sank quickly. The only life lost was that of the cook.

On 09 May 1872, the CUBA (iron propeller bulk freighter, 231 foot, 1526 gross tons) was launched at King Iron Works in Buffalo, New York for the Holt and Ensign Commercial Line. Innovations in her design included water-tight compartments for water ballast, 4 water-tight bulkheads that could be closed if the hull were damaged, and a new fluted signal lamp that could be seen for 13 miles. She was powered by two 350 HP engines. She was a very successful vessel and lasted until 1947 when she was scrapped. She was renamed b.) IONIC in 1906 and c.) MAPLEBRANCH in 1920. Converted to a tanker in 1935. Scrapped at Sorel, Quebec in 1946-7.

1906 – The schooner ARMENIA was wrecked in Lake Erie near Colchester Reef when it began leaking in a storm while under tow of the FRED PABST on the first trip of the season. The ore-laden barge was cut loose but all on board were saved. The wreck was later struck by the CHARLES B. PACKARD on September 16, 1906, leading to the latter's demise.

1926 – While backing from the NHB Elevator in Port Colborne, the JOHN P. REISS struck the A.D. MacBETH at the dock, damaging the latter's stem.

1964 – The small ferries JOHN A. McPHAIL and JAMES CURRAN broke loose while under tow of the G.W. ROGERS and sank in a storm off the mouth of Saginaw Bay. They were en-route to Kingston from Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., for a new service to Wolfe Island.

1974 – The coastal freighter ST. PIERRE ran aground in the old Lachine Canal at Montreal, was holed, capsized and sank. The vessel was broken up on location later in the year.

2011 – The Erie, Pa.-based passenger excursion ship VICTORIAN PRINCESS sustained major fire damage when a welding torch ignited materials in the engine room. The ship was out of the water and on blocks for maintenance work when the blaze broke out. The vessel missed the 2011 season.

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.


Great Lakes coal trade dips slightly in April

5/8 - Cleveland, Ohio – Shipments of coal on the Great Lakes totaled 2.2 million tons in April, a decrease of 3.8 percent compared to a year ago. However, when compared to its 5-year average, the trade was down nearly 27 percent. Loadings at Lake Superior ports increased by nearly 10 percent, but shipments from Chicago fell by a third. Lake Erie ports were off 12.3 percent, or 90,000 tons.

Year-to-date the Lakes coal trade stands at 3.3 million tons, a decrease of 8.7 percent compared to a year ago. Loadings are 31 percent behind the 5-year average for the January-April timeframe.

Lake Carriers Association


Port Reports -  May 8

Douglas, Mich.
Keewatin is due to leave Douglas about June 2 but will no longer lay over at De Tour, but will stop at Mackinaw City instead on her way back to Port McNicoll. The tug Wendy Anne will tow the Keewatin to the unused ferry docks. The original plan to stop at De Tour was scrapped when the owners required security procedures.

South Chicago/Indiana Harbor - Matt M
Ebroborg was at Iroquois Landing around noon Sunday; John J. Boland was under the loader at KCBX at the same time.


Updates -  May 8

Weekly Website Updates


Today in Great Lakes History -  May 8

The 1,000-foot COLUMBIA STAR was christened May 8, 1981, at Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, for Columbia Transportation Div., Oglebay Norton Co.

EDGAR B. SPEER (Hull#908) was launched May 8, 1980, at Lorain, Ohio, by American Ship Building Co. for Connecticut Bank & Trust Co. (U.S. Steel Corp., mgr.) , after long delay because of labor strife.

The FRED R. WHITE JR was christened May 8, 1979, and was named for Oglebay Norton's then vice-chairman of the board.

On May 8, 1979, the ASHLAND struck the north entry pier of the Duluth Ship Canal while outbound loaded. Thick ice blowing in from Lake Superior had interfered with her maneuverability. She dropped her anchor to lessen the impact but drifted over the flukes ripping a two by five foot hole in her bottom port side forward. She was inspected and repaired at the Duluth Port Terminal. One anchor was lost.

The CHAMPLAIN's starboard side was damaged when she sideswiped the Swedish steamer BROLAND near the lower end of the St. Clair River cut-off, May 8, 1963.

May 8. 1936 -- The Pere Marquette Railway Co. announced plans to construct a new million dollar ferry dock at Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

The 3 -masted wooden schooner FRANK C. LEIGHTON was launched at 10:30 a.m. on 8 May 1875, at Dunford & Leighton's yard in Port Huron, eight months after work on her began. She was launched complete except for her mizzen mast which was just about ready to go in position. She was named for Capt. Leighton's son. Her dimensions were 138 foot keel, 145 foot overall, 26 foot beam and 12 foot depth. She cost $20,000 and was owned by Dunford & Leighton.

The 254 foot wooden freighter AMAZON was launched at A. A. Turner's yard at Trenton, Michigan, on 8 May 1873.

On 08 May 1929, GEORGE W. PARKER wooden propeller sandsucker, 105 foot, 143 gross tons, built in 1903, at Marine City, Michigan by A. Anderson for Fishback Plaster Co., formerly a.) L. G. POWELL) was destroyed by fire and sank in the channel 6 miles south of Algonac, Michigan. Her crew escaped in the yawl.

1916 S.R. KIRBY was downbound in a Lake Superior storm when it was struck by two huge waves, broke its back and foundered. The composite hulled freighter sank quickly and only two of the 22 on board survived.

1918 The Norwegian freighter POLLUX came to the Great Lakes in 1907. It was torpedoed as b) DUX by U-54 about 7 miles northwest of Godrevy Lighthouse while carrying coal from Swansea, UK to LaRochelle, France.

1934 The hull of the first CANADOC was punctured when the ship went hard aground at St. Joseph's Island. The vessel was later freed, drydocked and repaired.

1938 JAMES B. FOOTE hit a dock at Chicago, under tow of the tug KANSAS, while loaded with corn for Sorel. The rudder, stock and a propeller blade were lost.

1942 The Hall Corp. canaller MONT LOUIS was torpedoed and sunk in the Caribbean by U-162 with the loss of 13 lives. Only 8 survived by clinging to the wreckage. The ship was carrying bauxite from Dutch Guiana to Trinidad when it was attacked and it sank so quickly that the lifeboats could not be launched.

1949 The E.C. COLLINS and HENRY FORD II were in a collision in the St.Clair River.

1967 ELIN HOPE had been chartered to the Ontario Paper Company to carry newsprint from Baie Comeau to New York from 1950 to 1953. The ship came to the Great Lakes as b) PROCYON in 1961 and arrived at Madras, India, as c) KR ASHOK with the cargo of coal on fire on this date in 1967. The vessel settled on the bottom during firefighting operations. It was refloated May 19 and eventually scrapped at Madras in 1968.

1978 The third OUTARDE went aground in the St. Lawrence near Buoy 41-M and was not released until May 16. There was only minor damage to the ship.

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. This is a small sample, the books includes many other vessels with a much more detailed history.


Updates -  May 7

Weekly Website Updates

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Today in Great Lakes History -  May 7

On May 7, 1965, the CEDARVILLE was struck by the ocean vessel TOPDALSFJORD in the Straits of Mackinac during dense fog. The CEDARVILLE sank about 40 minutes after the collision with the loss of ten crewmembers.

ALGOPORT (Hull#217) was launched at Collingwood, Ontario, by Collingwood Shipyards Ltd., May 7, 1979 for Algoma Central Railway.

The HUTCHCLIFFE HALL entered service on May 7, 1954.

A.M. BYERS (Hull#448) was launched May 7, 1910 at Cleveland, Ohio, by American Ship Building Co. for the North American Steamship Co. (R.A. Williams, mgr.). Renamed b.) CLEMENS A. REISS in 1959 and c.) JACK WIRT in 1970.

May 7, 1903 - The Benton Harbor, Coloma & Paw Paw Lake Railway was purchased by the Pere Marquette Railroad.

May 7, 1929 - The Pere Marquette notified Ludington it was interested in buying the frontage on Pere Marquette Lake that had been used by the Monroe Body Company. The city council asked $25,000 for the property, and the railroad agreed. Work on the No. 3 slip began a few months later.

On 7 May 1874, the schooner JENNIE MATHEWS was launched at Hardison's yard in Port Huron, Michigan. The launch started very slowly but with the help of men pulling on ropes, the vessel slid into the Black River nicely. Her first skipper was Capt. McGifford and her owner was Mr. Hardison.

On 07 May 1954, official ground-breaking ceremonies were held for the Mackinac Bridge. It was completed three and a half years later.

1891 ­ The new Canadian Pacific steamer MANITOBA, although built in 1889, had been laid up due to a recession and finally sails on her maiden voyage on this date in 1891.

1935 ­ A fire aboard ALEXANDER LESLIE at the port of Erieau, ON killed one member of the crew and injured two others.

1965 ­ CEDARVILLE and TOPDALSFJORD collided in fog in the Straits of Mackinac. Ten lives ere lost when the former, a self-unloader in the Bradley fleet, sank. The latter, a Norwegian freighter, had been a Seaway trader since 1960. Later, on May 11, 1984, as d) JIN XIAN QUAN, it sank the SEA CARRIER, another former Seaway trader as SVANEFJELL, in the Strait of Formosa off Taishan Island. TOPDALSFJORD was last noted as e) CHANGHI and was deleted from Lloyd's Register in 2005

1998 ­ CANADIAN ENTERPRISE loaded a record 32,366 tons of road salt at Goderich for delivery to Milwaukee.

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


New tug and barge off on maiden voyage

5/6 - Duluth, Minn. – The recently christened tug Ken Boothe Sr. and barge Lakes Contender departed the builder’s yard early Saturday operating for the American Steamship Co. Her first trip is upbound light to load taconite in Silver Bay; she was in the Detroit River Saturday afternoon.

At some future date, a ship will arrive in the Twin Ports. It may arrive carrying limestone and will leave loaded with iron ore or coal.

What will make the event noteworthy is that it will be the first visit by the recently christened tug/barge Ken Boothe Sr./Lakes Contender. The articulated tug/barge begin operating for the American Steamship Co. this weekend, according to American Steamship’s parent company, GATX Corp. The ATB’s main cargos will be iron ore and coal with some limestone.

“We are very pleased to add this new ATB, designed to transport dry-bulk commodities, to our fleet,” American Steamship President David W. Foster said. “This U.S.-flagged 10,700 horsepower tug and 740 foot self-unloading barge with a cargo capacity of 34,000 tons … will allow ASC to more efficiently serve our customers.”

American Steamship is leasing the vessel from a partnership formed by Donjon Marine and Seacor Holdings Inc. Donjon Marine’s subsidiary Donjon Shipbuilding & Repair built the tug and barge in Erie, Pa.

“It’s the first one we’ve built,” said John Witte, director of Donjon Shipbuilding & Repair. It also is the first bulk cargo vessel built in Erie since the 1,000-foot integrated tug/barge Presque Isle nearly 40 years ago.

“It is nice to see that money is being spent on new ships because that speaks to the long-term future of the lakes,” Duluth Seaway Port Authority Executive Director Adolph Ojard said. “I think it is critical to recapitalize the fleet.”

Getting into shipbuilding and repairs seemed like a natural progression for Donjon Marine, whose principal business activities since 1964 have included marine salvage, dredging and transportation, Witte said. Donjon began building the Ken Boothe Sr./Lakes Contender without a customer.

“It was a risk,” Witte said. “But we thought the future of the lakes includes ATBs.”

Tug/barge vessels typically are operated by fewer crewmembers than a traditional self-propelled vessel, Witte said.

“In our opinion an ATB is a more economical use of shipping,” he said. “We have had a very positive response from the marine industry, we’re hopeful this will result in additional ATBs being put out there.”

This is the third laker added to the U.S.-flag fleet this century, said Glen Nekvasil, vice president of the Lake Carriers’ Association. The Great Lakes Trader joined the fleet in 2000; the cement barge Innovation in 2006. Both are also tug/barges.

“The last self-propelled vessel for the lakes was built, on the American side at least, in 1981,” Nekvasil said. That was the Columbia Star, since renamed the American Century.

Despite a slow pace of new ship construction for the U.S. Great Lakes fleet, the fleet is good shape, Nekvasil said.

“Since our vessels never leave the lakes — they don’t go into salt water — they can last really as long as you want them to, as long as you take good care of them,” he said, noting that more than $75 million of repairs, maintenance, and upgrades were done on U.S. flag lakers over the winter.

Still, he said, “everybody on the lakes is happy to see a new vessel come into service, and we wish her smooth sailing.”

Duluth News Tribune


Port Reports -  May 6

Marquette, Mich. - Rod Burdick
H. Lee White, Great Republic and Herbert C. Jackson visited the Upper Harbor for ore on Saturday.

Saginaw River – Todd Shorkey
Algorail was outbound early Saturday morning after unloading overnight at the Sargent dock in Zilwaukee. The Olive L. Moore and Lewis J. Kuber were inbound around the same time, stopping at the Bay Aggregates dock in Bay City to unload. They finished their unload and were outbound late Saturday morning. Inbound on Saturday was Algoway, making her first visit of the season to the Saginaw River. She stopped at the North Star dock in Essexville to unload, and was expected to be outbound early Sunday morning.

Sandusky, Ohio - Jim Spencer
Canada Steamship Lines' Hon. Paul J. Martin loaded Friday night and Saturday at the NorfolkSouthern coal dock. She is bound for Nanticoke, Ont.


Updates -  May 6

Historical Perspectives Gallery updated - new images in the Wyandotte galleries


Today in Great Lakes History -  May 6

On May 6, 1984 the CANADIAN RANGER sailed from Port Weller on her maiden voyage to load coal at Toledo, Ohio.

In 1944 the HILDA (2) and the barge MAITLAND NO.1 started the rescue operation of freighter GEORGE M. HUMPHREY (1) which sank in a collision with the D.M. CLEMSON (2) in the Straits of Mackinac. This day in 1923 the EDWIN E. SLICK was struck by the steamer J. LEONARD REPLOGLE in the ice on Whitefish Bay, Lake Superior.

The HARVEY D. GOULDER entered service on May 6, 1906.

On May 6, 1934 the ROYALTON (1) helped rescue the steamer TEN, which had lost power in a Lake Superior ice field and required a tow to safety.

On May 6, 1975 while unloading iron ore at Conneaut, Ohio, a leg and bucket from No.2 Hulett gave way and fell into the RALPH H. WATSON's cargo hold. A crane was rigged to remove the wreckage. A nine by twelve foot patch was required on her port side tank, which was holed in the accident.

On 6 May 1847, CUBA (wooden schooner, 89 foot, 139 tons, built in 1844 at Peninsula, New York as a brig) was carrying wheat near Point Breeze, New York in Lake Ontario when she was run down and sunk in a collision with the steamer GENESEE CHIEF. No lives were lost.

On 6 May 1858, the barkentine E.S. ADAMS began her voyage from Amherstburg, Ontario to London, England with a load of walnut timber. The transatlantic portion of the voyage took only 26 days and the vessel was back on the lakes in September 1858.

EASTLAND was launched on 06 May 1903 at the Jenks Ship Building Company (Hull #25) at Port Huron, Michigan for the Michigan Steamship Company. She was christened by Mrs. Frances E. Perene.

1914 CITY OF ROME caught fire in Lake Erie and the blaze spread quickly. The vessel was run aground near Ripley, NY and the 15-member crew took to the lifeboats and rowed ashore. The 33-year old wooden freighter was a total loss.

1977 The West German freighter SUSANNE FRITZEN made 19 trips through the Seaway from 1963 through 1967. The vessel arrived at Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, with engine trouble as c) MARGRIT B. on this date in 1977. It remained idle and had to be towed to Piraeus, Greece, and laid up in 1978. The ship left there February 15, 1979, for the scrapyard in Barcelona, Spain.

1988 The Cypriot flag freighter PONTOKRATIS was under tow and downbound in the Little Calumet River at Chicago when the CSX railroad bascule bridge ended up across the stern cabin and pilothouse. There were no injuries and both sides launched a lawsuit. The vessel was released May 16 and continued to visit the Seaway as late as 2006. It renamed NAVIGATOR M. in 2010.

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


Maiden voyage from Hong Kong to Duluth; weekend discharge of heavy-lift cargo

5/5 - Duluth, Minn. – In the wee hours of Saturday, most likely before sunrise, a newly-christened oceangoing vessel, Clipper Gemini, is expected to sail into the Port of Duluth-Superior. Its not often that Duluth ends up being a port of call on a ships maiden voyage from Hong Kong.

The 393-foot Bahamian-flag vessel was loaded in and left Kobe, Japan, on Feb. 23, 2012. En route to Duluth, she wound her way around the globe via Xingang, China; Songkhla, Thailand; Singapore; the Suez Canal; Gibralter; Poole, UK; and Hamburg and Rostok, Germany, before entering the St. Lawrence Seaway on April 28. She made one last stop in Valleyfield (Quebec) before arriving in the Twin Ports.

Over the weekend, crews from Lake Superior Warehousing Co. will discharge its breakbulk cargo of gas and steam turbine/generator components for a large electricity generation project (including six heavy-lift units) at the Clure Public Marine Terminal, the port’s only breakbulk terminal. From Duluth, the cargo will move its final leg via specialized railcar and truck to the ENMAX Shepard Energy Centre in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

“Delivery of this significant cargo has been painstakingly planned down to the last detail,” said Gianna Manes, ENMAX Corporation President and CEO. “Each of the natural-gas fired turbines weighs about 735,000 pounds and are the equivalent to a 4-story building in length. Once in place and operational, the 800 MW Shepard Energy Centre will be a pivotal facility to Alberta’s growing electricity needs.”

Cargo onboard the Clipper Gemini is one of nearly 20 shipments of heavy machinery and other energy-related equipment expected in the Twin Ports during 2012, the majority of which will include components for U.S. wind energy projects.

Duluth Seaway Port Authority


Port Reports -  May 5

Saginaw River - Todd Shorkey
Algorail arrived on the Saginaw River Thursday evening, but was forced to tie up at the Essroc dock in Essexville instead of heading upriver to unload at the Sargent dock in Zilwaukee. This was due to the Independence Bridge having electrical problems that left it unable to open. Workers were able to open the bridge late Friday afternoon, allowing Algorail to head upriver, almost a day behind schedule. She was unloading at Sargent Friday night. Independence Bridge will now remain in the open position until at least Monday and is closed to vehicle traffic. Algorail is expected to be outbound early Saturday morning.

Marblehead, Ohio - Jim Spencer
The barge Pathfinder and tug Dorothy Ann loaded for Cleveland Friday evening at the Lafarge stone dock at Marblehead. The duo has been making a daily run between the dock and Cleveland in recent days to meet demands of workers constructing several new commercial-residential structures in the city's North Flats area.

Buffalo, N.Y. - Brian W.
English River departed at 2 a.m. headed for Bath.


Updates -  May 5

News Photo Gallery


Today in Great Lakes History -  May 5

May 5, 1904 the Crisp Point Light on Lake Superior went into service.

The WILLIAM CLAY FORD (Hull#300) was launched at River Rouge, Michigan, by Great Lakes Engineering Works, May 5, 1953, for the Ford Motor Co.

On May 5, 1980, the SHARON, a.) ARCHERS HOPE of 1945, grounded in the Trenton Channel of the Detroit River. She was freed on May 7th and proceeded to Monroe, Michigan, and was laid up there on May 8, 1980. No repairs were made and she never sailed again.

On May 5, 1914, the GEORGE F. BAKER was traveling down bound in Lake Superior in dense fog with 10,500 tons of iron ore from Ashland, Wisconsin. She ran hard aground on Sawtooth Reef off Eagle River, on Upper Michigan's Keweenaw Peninsula.

May 5, 1914 - An unusual cargo, two "Jack Johnsons" (Navy guns) were hauled by the PERE MARQUETTE 17.

The small schooner ST PETER was loaded with grain when she sank 35 miles from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on 5 May 1874. The crew reached shore in the yawl.

The steam barge KITTIE M. FORBES was launched in Bay City, Michigan, on 5 May 1883. She was owned by Capt. William Forbes and named for his daughter. Her keel was laid on 1 December 1882. Her dimensions were 195 feet keel, 209 foot overall, 35 foot beam and 14 foot depth. Her engine was built by Samuel F. Hodge.

On 05 May 1902, MILWAUKEE (steel propeller freighter, 325 foot, 3,327 gross tons) was launched at the Chicago Ship Building Company (Hull #55) at South Chicago, Illinois, for the Western Transit Co. She lasted until 1940, when she was scrapped at Hamilton, Ontario.

1960 The coastal freighter FEDERAL EXPRESS had been built at Midland in 1944 as H.M.C.S. WEST YORK. It was hit at the dock in Montrealon this date in 1960 by the Swedish freighter POLARIS, drifted downstream and sank. The stern was raised August 12, 1960, and the remainder of the hull came up in pieces.

1964 The downbound bulk carrier ERNEST T. WEIR sustained damage to the port bow when it collided with tanker MERCURY in Lake St. Clair. The latter had sheered to the left, went aground after the accident and developed a list. Both ships were repaired and ERNEST T. WEIR survives today as the idle self-unloader AMERICAN FORTITUDE.

1978 JALAVIHAR first visited the Great Lakes in 1966 under the flag of India. It ran aground in the Red Sea as d) KATERINA on this date in 1978. After being released it continued to Palermo, Italy, where it was declared beyond economical repair and was eventually scrapped at Split, Yugoslavia.

2009 VICTORIA first came through the Seaway in September 2004. On May 5, 2009, the ship, loaded with 10,000 metric tonnes of rice and its crew of 11 Romanian sailors, were captured by pirates, about 75 miles south of Yemen and held hostage. After the payment of a reported $1.8 million ransom, the vessel was released on July 18, 2009. It was back on the Great Lakes in 2011.

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


Port Reports -  May 4

Grand Haven, Mich. - Dick Fox
The St. Marys Challenger came in for the first time this season with a load for the St. Marys Cement Terminal in Ferrysburg. It arrived about 5 a.m. and was expected to depart about midnight.

Sandusky-Marblehead, Ohio - Jim Spencer
Michipicoten loaded overnight at the NorfolkSouthern coal dock and departed Sandusky at mid-morning for Marquette. The LaFarge stone dock at Marblehead was beginning to resemble a parking lot Thursday. The barge Pathfinder and tug Dorothy Ann were loading, while Cuyahoga was on the hook in the South Passage, awaiting her turn at the dock.

Buffalo, N.Y. – Brian W.
English River arrived around 3:30 a.m. Thursday for LaFarge. The tug Rebecca Lynn and barge A-397 remained in Tonawanda.

Oswego, NY - Ned Goebricher
The tug Wilf Seymour and barge Alouette Spirit unloaded aluminum at Port Authority West Dock Thursday.


Keewatin to leave Kalamazoo Lake on June 2

5/4 - Douglas, Mich. – The historic steamship Keewatin will be leaving its home of more than 40 years at the beginning of June. Work continues on the vessel and in Lake Kalamazoo in Douglas for a departure date of June 2.

“It depends on the weather,” said Eric Conroy, spokesman for ship owner Gil Blutrich of Canada. Blutrich is chairman and president of Skyline International Development Inc., a private Canadian investment and management company. Blutrich plans to make the ship part of a renovated waterfront and tourist attraction in Port McNicoll, Ontario.

The ship could be towed out June 1, Conroy said. Strong winds are the deciding factor. The 48-foot wide ship will be towed through a 50-foot wide dredged channel in Kalamazoo Lake. “It’s that tight,” Conroy said, with little room for the ship to be pushed around by winds.

The ship will be taken to Lake Michigan to DeTour Village in the Upper Peninsula, where it will wait to be towed into Port McNicoll on June 23 — the 100th anniversary of the when the ship first arrived in the port and the 45th anniversary of the year Douglas marine owner R.J. Peterson had it towed to West Michigan.

A waterfront park with historic attractions is planned for the Keewatin.

The ship was built in 1907 in Scotland then brought to the Great Lakes where it carried cargo and passengers for the Canadian Pacific Railway. It was retired in 1965 and headed for the scrap yard. Tower Marina’s Peterson bought the Keewatin and brought it to Douglas in 1967 where it has been a museum.

The modern cruise ship Yorktown will arrive in Saugatuck June 17.


U.S., Canadian agencies respond to vessel fishing vessel in U.S. waters

5/4 - Cleveland, Ohio – U.S. Coast Guard personnel, working with members of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, interdicted a Canadian commercial fishing vessel allegedly fishing illegally on Lake Erie in waters subject to U.S. and Ohio jurisdiction, Thursday morning.

Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources personnel contacted Coast Guard Sector Detroit at about 8:45 a.m., alerting watchstanders in Sector Detroit’s Command Center of a commercial vessel potentially fishing in U.S./Ohio waters near North Bass Island.

A law enforcement team from Coast Guard Station Marblehead, Ohio, launched aboard a 33-foot Special Purpose Craft-Law Enforcement and determined that the ADCO II was actively engaged in fishing about 160 yards inside U.S. waters. Aircrews from Coast Guard Air Station Detroit and U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office of Air and Marine were also on scene. After determining the vessel’s location, law enforcement personnel boarded the vessel and were granted a statement of no objection to temporarily detain the vessel, fishing gear and any associated catch.

“Partnerships, like the ones shown clearly in this case, aid in the prevention and interdiction of illegal activity,” said Lt. Jillian Lamb, chief of enforcement at Coast Guard Sector Detroit. “Working with state and Canadian agencies helped us to accomplish our shared mission of protecting marine resources.”

ODNR will be the lead agency pursuing any enforcement action against the vessel.


Corps doesn’t have funding for complete long-term repairs

5/4 - Ludington, Mich. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers crane barge Manitowoc has been in town working on the Ludington South Breakwater. Area Engineer Tom O’Bryan said the Corps does not have the funds for permanent repairs to the structure, which is losing sheet piling, so crews are making Band-Aid repairs where they can.

O’Bryan said the crew could do anything from placing stone in the water to support the structure to minor concrete repairs and painting. The crew will also remove sand from the walkway that accesses the structure. The crews work a Wednesday-Wednesday shift with eight days on and six days off, O’Bryan said, so they will stop work at the end of the day today and should return next Wednesday.

Ludington Daily News


USS LST 393 honors America's veterans

5/4 - Muskegon, Mich. – There are a ton of great places to go and things to do in West Michigan. So many in fact, many of them often go unnoticed. One of those hidden treasures is sitting on the Muskegon waterfront just 41 miles from downtown Grand Rapids.

To the thousands of people passing by every day, the USS LST 393 may seem like an old hunk of steel docked on Muskegon Lake and a large but somehow inconspicuous remnant of days long past.

"This ship came to Muskegon in the late 40s and the bow was boarded up and it became a cross-lake freighter for a couple of decades," said John Stephenson, board president of the LST 393 Veterans Museum. "Then it sat unused for a couple of decades and people kind of got the impression that it was a crummy old freighter and it would eventually be a barge or go out and be sunk for scrap." The ship's preservation association had bigger plans.

"I'm the only one who has been here the entire seven years. When we started this it was just a rusty, leaky, dirty wreck. It was just terrible. It took us the first four years to get it in any kind of condition to let the public in. Since then it has just been gangbusters," said Dan Weikel, curator and Veterans coordinator."

This war ship turned floating veterans museum is steeped in history and honor. She was commissioned in December of 1942 and was 1,051 landing ship tanks built to transport troops, tanks and equipment into World war II.

Weikel says people know a lot more about the ship than they did seven years ago but too many don't know that once they step inside the main deck they can't help but sense how special the place is.

"You are walking where heroes walked," said Stephenson. "This is one of the most priceless, American historical artifacts anywhere. There is only two of these ships left and these ships helped win the war. Eisenhower said we couldn't have won W.W.II without LSTs"

The ship has thousands of artifacts and documents and hundreds of books. It is open to the public between May through September and appeals to people of all generations. During tours visitors can roam the five decks. Exhibits include the main deck with a wall of honor photos of service men and women as well as the actual damaged and smoke-stained battle flag that flew over USS LST 393 when it landed at Omaha Beach on D-Day 1944.

"Every time I think about what this flag saw and what it meant, it just gives me the shivers," said Stephenson.

Other exhibits include the berthing deck, where combat troops slept, engine room, officers' staterooms complete with authentic letters and photos, and the galley.

Weikel said, "The cooks were so proud of what they did on these ships. Even in combat there was never a time when there wasn't a hot meal for the troops."

He says another popular place on the ship is the chart room, complete with maps and authentic radio equipment.. It is a place where some of the nation's most important decisions were made.

"If they were going to Omaha Beach, if they were going to invade Italy, they had to mark where they were and plot a course," said Weikel of the place he considers one of the most important on the ship.

Visitors can also check out the captain's quarters, sick bay or they can stand at the helm or visit the troop messing deck. One of the original messing decks is now a hall of uniforms filled with combat boots, uniforms, hats and helmets to honor veterans.

"I'm a veteran myself and I think the veterans represent the best that America has," said Weikel. "To be able to represent them and honor them and to show the public what these men and women sacrificed is inspiring to me. It keeps me going."

Stephenson feels the same way. "Our mission is to honor America's veterans from all the wars and to educate the various generations who might be losing touch with the important things America's heroes did," he said.

"It is a very cool place to come. This ship was in three invasions. It went all over the Atlantic and Mediterranean and carried soldiers, equipment and tanks and artillery to places where they had to go to war."

There is so much to do and see on the LST 393 people should come prepared to be carried into another place and time and expect to leave with a new appreciation for the men and women in uniform.

"We like to say the spirits of all those sacrificed veterans are still walking around," said Weikel.

Tour admission is $6 adults, $4 for students and kids under five get in free. The ship is located at 560 mart street in the heart of downtown Muskegon. And, on Friday nights during summer months they show free movies on the top deck of the ship out in the open air.

For more information about tours or events held on the ship click here.



“War on the Great Lakes!” exhibit sails into South Haven

5/4 - South Haven, Mich. - Whether a maritime buff, history aficionado or lover of all things sail-related, you'll want to get your sea legs ready for the “War on the Great Lakes!” exhibit, cruising into South Haven's Michigan Maritime Museum on May 4 and docked there through December 2013. The bicentennial exhibit focuses on the Great Lakes' link with the War of 1812.

"Players" at the exhibit include a young United States, Britain at the height of her Empire, and native nations fighting for the survival of their lifestyle.

The war was comprised of several Great Lakes conflicts and exploits. As for a direct South Haven connection, you could say it's buried. "Although the town had not yet been founded at that time [it was founded in the 1830s], a veteran who fought in the war was buried in a cemetery in what is today South Haven Township," says James Spurr, chairperson of the exhibit. When not volunteering at the museum or sailing, Spurr is an attorney for Miller Canfield in Kalamazoo.

Museum visitors won't want to miss viewing a document that was carried by a Great Lakes sailor attesting that he was a citizen of the United States and should not be impressed by the Royal Navy. (Many of the men the British captured were actually American citizens. Even so, the British impressed these sailors into duty in the Royal Navy.)

There's also a handwritten recollection by Oliver Williams, original owner of the tallship Friends Good Will. Williams recorded the ship's exploits, including her capture by the British. Patrons will also want to check out the muskets, weaponry, paintings and relics from ships that were at the Battle of Lake Erie.

"If you wanted to see fascinating Great Lakes items relating to this war, you'd really have to go to ten or fifteen different places," Spurr adds. "We're producing one exhibit in one spot with partners, museums and more from all over the Great Lakes region."

"The exhibit offers a unique opportunity through its artifacts, displays and sailing aboard Friends Good Will," says Patti Montgomery, the museum's executive director. Friends Good Will [a beauty of a ship that was built in 2004 as an exact replica of its original], will be available for public sails throughout much of the commemorative period.

"The War of 1812, while not the birth of our nation, forged it and gave us an identity," Spurr says. "Before the war, we referred to the United States in the plural. After the war, we referred to the United States in the singular."

NW Times


Updates -  May 4

Historical Perspectives Gallery updated - new images in the Wyandotte (2) gallery


Today in Great Lakes History -  May 4

On May 4, 1958, the JOHN SHERWIN entered service. The SHERWIN has now been in lay-up for half of her life on the Great Lakes. She last sailed on November 16, 1981.

On her maiden voyage May 4, 1976, the ST. CLAIR departed Sturgeon Bay for Escanaba, Michigan, to load 39,803 gross tons of iron ore pellets for Indiana Harbor, Indiana arriving there on May 5th.

The OREFAX ran aground on May 4, 1963, way off course near Manistique, Michigan. She was lightered and pulled off by the Roen Salvage Co. and made her way to Toronto, Ontario, where she discharged her cargo and left for repairs.

The tanker VENUS, a.) MARTHA E. ALLEN of 1928 suffered an explosion on May 4, 1972, when the crew was cleaning tanks while at anchor waiting for the fog to lift about seven miles west of the Eisenhower Lock in the Seaway. Two explosions rocked the ship, killing her skipper, Captain Stanley, and injuring three crewmen.

On 04 May 1839, ATLAS (wooden schooner, built in 1836, at Dexter, New York) was carrying building stone from Chaumont Bay to Oswego, New York, when she foundered 6 miles from Oswego. The steamer TELEGRAPH rushed out of Oswego to assist her but only found a little flotsam. All five on board were lost: Capt. Asahel Wescott, Ortha Little, William Ackerman, John Lee and Asa Davis (a passenger).

1889 The new Canadian Pacific steamer MANITOBA was launched at Owen Sound.

1911 The STEPHEN M. CLEMENT sank the ERWIN L. FISHER in a collision on the Detroit River. The former last sailed as PEAVEY PIONEER and was scrapped in 1968-1969.

1963 OREFAX went aground off Manistique, MI in a bad storm but was lightered and released on May 7

1968 The Swedish freighter BRORIVER made 9 trips to the Great Lakes in 1965-1966. It was sold and renamed d) THALIA later in 1966 and caught fire on the Atlantic on this date in 1968. The blaze originated in the engine room but gutted the ship. It was abandoned the next day and was eventually towed to Dakar, Senegal, where it was forced to anchor 8 miles out, as officials did not want it in the port. The vessel later sank at the anchorage.

1972 Two explosions rocked the tanker VENUS while anchored in fog near Massena, NY killing the Captain and injuring 4 other crewmembers. The ship sustained heavy damage but was towed to Sorel for repairs.

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 -  May 3

Marquette, Mich. - Rod Burdick
Hon. James L. Oberstar loaded ore and departed Wednesday afternoon at the Upper Harbor.

Saginaw River - Todd Shorkey
April on the Saginaw River saw better numbers in 2012 than during the same period in 2011. The season started on April 2nd with the arrival of the Samuel de Champlain - Innovation. This was ten days earlier than last year's season opener. For the month, there were 14 commercial vessel passages on the Saginaw River, an increase of five passages compared to 2011.

Erie, Pa. - Jeffrey Benson
Presque Isle returned to Erie for repairs to one of her propellers. Crews were working on the port side propeller, as they have a cofferdam submerged around that area.

Oshawa, Ont. - Andre Blanchard
The tug Spartan and tanker barge Spartan II arrived in Oshawa Wednesday.


Lake Superior gains just an inch in April

5/3 - Little or no snow to melt and below normal rainfall over much of the watershed led to a slower than normal rise for Lake Superior in April. The International Lake Superior Board of Control reported that Lake Superior rose just an inch in April, a month it usually goes up 3 inches. That puts Lake Superior 12 inches below normal for May 1 but still 2 inches above the May 1 level one year ago.

Meanwhile the dry spell was even more pronounced on Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, which dropped one inch in April, a month they usually rise four inches. Michigan-Huron now are 16 inches below normal and 1 inch below the May 1, 2011, level.

Duluth News Tribune


Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur christens tugboat Handy-Three

5/3 - Cleveland, Ohio – Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, Representative of Northern Ohio’s Ninth Congressional District, was the sponsor and principal speaker for the naming ceremony for the tugboat Handy-Three at the Great Lakes Shipyard.

“She is here today because of her sponsorship and commitment to small shipyards,” said Ron Rasmus, President, The Great Lakes Group. Kaptur has championed the passage and funding of the Assistance to Small Shipyards Grant Program, which makes grants for capital and related improvements for qualified small shipyard facilities to foster efficiency, competitive operations, and quality ship construction and repair. Great Lakes Shipyard has been the recipient of such grants.

The Handy-Three is the third of a class of Handy Size tugboats designed by Jensen Maritime Consultants, Seattle, Washington and built at Great Lakes Shipyard. Specifically for harbor and coastal towing, the Handy Size-class fills the market niche in the 2,000 - 4,000 horsepower tug market for harbor work, fireboats, and construction operations as well as for coastal barge towing. All three boats have been sold to Caribbean and Central American buyers in Great Lakes Shipyard’s competition with other international shipyards.


Updates -  May 3

News Photo Gallery
Historical Perspectives Gallery updated - new pictures in the Wyandotte and Henry Ford II galleries


Today in Great Lakes History -  May 3

On May 3, 1959, the first large saltwater vessel to transit the new St. Lawrence Seaway arrived at Duluth. The RAMON DE LARINAGA of 1954, took the honors as the first salty, passing under Duluth's Aerial Bridge at 1:16 p.m., followed by a salty named the HERALD of 1943, sixteen minutes later.

In 1922, the PERE MARQUETTE 16, as the barge HARRIET B, collided with the steamer QUINCY A. SHAW, and sank off Two Harbors, Minnesota.

On 3 May 1840, CHAMPLAIN (wooden side-wheeler, 225 tons, built in 1832, at Chippewa, Ontario) was carrying general merchandise when a storm drove her ashore four miles south of St. Joseph, Michigan. Although abandoned, she was later recovered and rebuilt.

On 03 May 1883, lightning struck and set fire to the barge C F. ALLEN while she was loading at North Muskegon, Michigan. She burned to the water's edge. Her loss was valued at $6,000, but she was not insured.

1905 HESPER was blown aground in 60 mph winds near Silver Bay, MN. The vessel was carried over a reef by a giant wave and broken to pieces. All on board were rescued.

1909 The EDWIN F. HOLMES hit a dredge in the Detroit River. The 108-year-old vessel still survives as the J.B. FORD.

1941 TRAJAN had been built at Ecorse, MI as a) YAQUE in 1915. It returned to the Great Lakes as b) DORIS in 1928 taking out the head gates at Lock 13 of the Welland Canal on September 23 and was back for several trips after becoming c) TRAJAN in 1932. The vessel was bombed and sunk by German aircraft in the North Sea on this date while enroute from Blyth to London with a cargo of coal.

1961 The tug BERT VERGE was towing the retired laker FORESTDALE across Hamilton Bay to the scrapyard at Stelco when it got caught by the wind, pulled over on its beam ends and sank with the loss of 2 lives. The tug was later salvaged and survives today as a pleasure craft out of Port Dover.

1982 A fire in the officer's quarters aboard the rail car barge SCOTIA II broke out at Sarnia. The damage was repaired and the ship resumed cross-river service until making its last run in April 1995.

1987 The Polish freighter ZIEMIA BIALOSTOCKA began Great Lakes service in 1980 after 8 years of deep sea trading. The ship hit the Sidney Lanier Bridge at Brunswick, GA on this date in 1987 with major damage to the vessel and structure. The ship last visited the Great Lakes in 1996 and arrived at Alang, India, for scrapping on September 20, 1998.

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


Firefighters knock down fire inside Algoma Discovery

5/2 - Hamilton, Ont. – Firefighters have put out most of a fire that erupted inside a bulk carrier vessel docked at Pier 22 in Hamilton. Emergency crews were called to Burlington Street East and Hobson Road at about 3:30 p.m. Tuesday for a fire at the base of the Algoma Discovery. Most of the blaze was extinguished two hours later, but firefighters continued to work on eliminating residual smoke. Hamilton fire public information officer Dave Christopher said they suspect the fire was electrical. The flames were in a service tunnel in the hold of the ship and firefighters could not access it, so they were flooding out the tunnel, he said.

The captain of the ship has notified Transport Canada. The Algoma Discovery was in Hamilton for the winter. A fire in the engine room on the same vessel also occurred in March.

The Hamilton Spectator


Tug Victory tow update

5/2 - Lake Huron -  The tug Victory and barge are under tow by the tugs Manitou and Bradshaw McKee heading for Monroe, Mich. The tow was off Saginaw Bay early Wednesday morning and should reach Port Huron about 8 a.m. Please send any pictures to


Port Reports -  May 2

Marquette, Mich. – Rod Burdick
USCGC Alder placed buoys at the Upper and Lower Harbors on Monday then docked for the night at Mattson Lower Harbor Park.

Sandusky and Marblehead, Ohio – Jim Spencer
Herbert C. Jackson loaded for Detroit on Tuesday at the NorfolkSouthern coal dock. The barge Pathfinder loaded at the Lafarge stone dock at Marblehead. The Pathfinder and her tug Dorothy Ann have been shuttling between the quarry dock and Cleveland on a regular basis for the past couple of weeks

Seaway - Kent Malo
Tuesday the Algoma Olympic remained between lock 4-3 at Beauharnois with reported engine trouble that is expected to take several days to repair. It was moved to the upper wall above lock 4 by the tugs Georgie Bain and Duga, the tugs departed for their home ports after the move was completed.


Business leaders raise money to dredge money-making harbor

5/2 - Leland, Mich. – Business owners in Leland Township have raised thousands of dollars to dredge their money-making harbor, in hopes of ensuring a prosperous summer season.

Since its construction back in 1965, the harbor has been a vital addition to the Leland economy, as Great Lakes boaters spend their money at local grocery stores, bars and restaurants. Harbor Master Russell Dzuba says, "From the fourth of July to Labor Day, its non-stop traffic thorough the harbor and those people come in and drop a lot of money."

The Leland harbor hasn't been drenched since 2009 and as a result sand has built up, making it impossible for most boats to enter. In past years, Leland harbor was able to pay for dredging by applying for funds from congress. But lately, it has not been granted the earmarks.

"The federal government has left us on our own and that being said we're not going to sit and cry about it, we're going to do the job ourselves," says Dzuba.

In January, Township officials, business leaders and fisheries started a fundraiser to dredge the harbor, and since then have raised $60,000 dollars.

But the $60,000 dollars raised locally will only cover a small portion of the work. Dzuba says, "We're going to have to agree to a promising-note to pay remainder of the tab at the end of the season, when we've had a chance to make some money."

While the harbor will be open this summer, Dzuba says local business owners can't and won't pay for the dredging service year after year. So the harbor is looking to the federal government to step up. They have joined the Great Lakes Small Harbor Collation, a group of federal harbors and channels that are asking congress for assistance.

In fact, there is legislation in the Senate right now that would tap into the $6 billion dollar Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund, to pay for dredging services.


Lake Erie island's tourism business sinking after ferries are grounded

5/2 - Sandusky, Ohio — Two ferries that deliver tourists to a Canadian island in Lake Erie have been shut down for weeks, sinking much of Pelee Island's economy. Farmers who are ready for spring planting are stuck too, unable to get deliveries of seed to the island in the western Lake Erie basin between Cleveland and Detroit.

"It's affecting our entire economy," Pelee Island's mayor, Rick Masse, told the Sandusky Register.

The two ferries normally make regular trips to the island, with one traveling from southern Ontario, Canada, and the other from Sandusky, Ohio. With both out of service for repairs for at least 10 more days, the only way to get to the island is by small plane.

But a 40-pound baggage limit on the small charter flights that are available cuts down on the amount of supplies that can be transported that way, said Louisette Durocher, the owner of Island Memories Bed and Breakfast. The island's small airport would not be able to handle large cargo planes, she said.

Durocher said it also is hard to take reservations when there is no firm date for the ferries to resume service.

The lack of ferry service is more than an inconvenience, Durocher said. "It's a terrible, terrible loss to all of the businesses on the island," she said.

The Pelee Islander, which provides service from Sandusky, won't run this weekend or the next, according to the Owen Sound Transportation Co.'s website. The boat has been in Cleveland since March 30 undergoing an out-of-water inspection required every five years.

That inspection has shown that the 52-year-old vessel will require additional structural steel renewal and the replacement of both propeller shafts, meaning the ferry will be out of service about two more weeks, the company said in a release.

Masse said that if the Pelee Islander isn't back into action until the middle of May, there could be potential transportation problems for visitors wanting to attend a bird-watching festival beginning May 11.

The other ferry, the Jiimaan, which runs to the island from the Canadian towns of Leamington and Kingsville, has been out of service for about two weeks for repairs to both of its propellers. It's not expected to return to service until May 12, the company said.

Masse said he is talking with other officials to try to find a stopgap solution until the ferry starts running again.

Pelee Island, about 20 miles north of Sandusky, is a popular summertime destination. It is known for pheasant hunting and fertile farmland, with winery tours, cottage rentals, beaches and bird watching.



New report details opportunities for natural gas-powered vessels

5/2 - The American Clean Skies Foundation released a study that highlights how the maritime industry could switch to operating vessels on natural gas and benefit from low prices and low emissions.

The study offers the first in-depth look at the challenges and prospects for converting U.S.-flagged marine vessels to liquefied natural gas (LNG). Low natural gas prices – coupled with rising oil prices – have opened up a significant gap between LNG and traditional marine fuels.

On the environmental front, the maritime industry is facing federal regulations to reduce emissions of nitrogen oxide, particulate matter and sulfur dioxide, which will require switching to ultra-low sulfur diesel. Low in sulfur, LNG can be used to comply with the regulations. Norwegian shipping fleets have been successfully operating on LNG for years.

The report points to two obstacles to fuel switching: the high cost of vessel conversion and the lack of LNG infrastructure, especially at marine ports. The most promising sites are where LNG liquefaction/storage facilities are located close to ports.

The most promising and economical conversions would be large towing tugs, medium-to-large car and passenger ferries, and Great Lakes bulk carriers.

The maritime industry can follow the path of other transportation sectors, which have looked to natural gas to move goods instead of relying on more expensive (and dirtier) diesel fuel. One Great Lakes bulk carrier consumes about at much energy as 110 tractor-trailers or more than 4,100 cars.

The principal authors of the report are Thomas Balon, Dana Lowell, Tom Curry, Christopher Van Atten and Lily Hoffman-Andrews of M.J. Bradley & Associates.

The Maritime Executive


Help wanted at Lower Lakes Towing

5/2 - 1st Mates
We are looking for competent, practically skilled 1st Mates (or on the threshold of practical capability to function at the 1st Mate level) with a minimum certification of Chief Mate Near Coastal to join our team. Thorough knowledge of the Great Lakes system of harbours, rivers and pilotage requirements west of St. Lambert is preferred. Applicants must possess a good work ethic and the ability to work in a fast paced environment. Strong interpersonal and communication skills are a prerequisite, as is a leadership style based on mutual respect of all Officers and Crew within a proactive, team oriented work environment. Candidates must be bondable, possess a valid passport and will have all applicable certificates and Transport Canada medical in good order. The candidate will demonstrate strong managerial and leadership skills.

If you are a leader that is looking for a change we offer a very competitive wage and benefit package, positive work environment and an industry leading leave system. Consideration will also be given to candidates that are looking for part time or training work.

Marine Engineers
We are looking for competent, practically skilled Junior Engineers with Class Motor TCMS certification to join our team. Canadian Great Lakes dry bulk experience or related experience, a good work ethic and the ability to work in a fast paced environment are considered prerequisites for this position. Strong interpersonal and communication skills are a must, as is a leadership style based on mutual respect of all Officers and Crew within a proactive, team oriented work environment. Candidates must be bondable, possess a valid passport and will have all applicable certificates and Transport Canada medical in good order.

If you are a leader or potential leader that is looking for a change we offer a very competitive wage and benefit package and a positive work environment.

Applicants who meet the job requirements for this position are encouraged to send a resume and cover letter to: Personnel Manager, Lower Lakes Towing Ltd. PO Box 1149 517 Main Street, Port Dover, ON Ph: (519) 583-0982 Fx: (519) 583-1946, email:


Long-time Cliffs’ Captain William Pollard dies

5/2 - Retired Cleveland-Cliffs captain William "Bill" H. Pollard, also known at the "Mad Englishman," passed away on Sunday, April 29 at the age of 91. Calling hours will be held Wednesday night at Green's Funeral Home in Mantua, Ohio. The funeral will be Thursday morning, May 2. Bill worked for Cleveland-Cliffs from 1930 until his retirement in the fall of 1981. He was captain of the William P. Snyder Jr. from 1974 to 1980. He was outgoing and enjoyed reminiscing about his time with Cliffs. He was preceded in death by his wife, and leaves behind two sons.


Updates -  May 2

Historical Perspectives Gallery updated - New for May The Wyandotte (1) and (2)


Today in Great Lakes History -  May 2

The STEWART J. CORT created a sensation as she passed Detroit/Windsor on mid-day on May 2, 1972, amid throngs of people lining both sides of the Detroit and St. Clair Rivers, whistling acknowledging salutes on her up bound maiden run.

ADAM E. CORNELIUS (Hull#53) was launched at St. Clair, Michigan by Great Lakes Engineering Works on May 2, 1908. Renamed b.) DETROIT EDISON in 1948, c.) GEORGE F. RAND in 1954. Sold Canadian in 1962, renamed d.) AVONDALE. She was scrapped at Castellon, Spain, in 1979.

On 2 May 1874, the steamer 8TH OHIO was chartered by Magner & Company to carry their circus to various Great Lake ports throughout that season.

The 3-mast schooner EDWARD KELLEY was launched at Dunford & Leighton's yard in Port Huron on 2 May 1874. She was built for the Lake Superior Transportation Company of Cleveland, Ohio. A. O. Miller's coronet band played at the launching.

On 02 May 1903, ACADIA (wooden schooner-barge, 102 foot, 188 tons, built in 1873, at Smith's Falls, Ontario) was carrying coal from Oswego, New York to Kingston, Ontario, when she went aground in a storm near the Duck Islands on Lake Ontario. She was later recovered, but foundered again in July 1908. Again she was recovered and this time rebuilt as a barge.

1895 N.K. FAIRBANK was traveling from Chicago to Ogdensburg, NY with 50,000 bushels of corn when it stranded, due to fog and smoke, off Morgan's Point 6 miles west of Port Colborne. The wooden steamer caught fire and burned to the waterline. The hull was later refloated and, in 1899, rebuilt as the ELIZA H. STRONG only to burn again in October 1904.

1967 SHELTER BAY went aground in the Brockville Narrows when a bolt in the steering gear sheared off and the vessel veered off course, was holed by rocks and had to be beached off Royal Island. This member of the Q. & O. fleet was bound for Chicago with iron ore, but had to be lightered and then sailed to Port Weller Dry Docks for repairs.

Data from: Skip, Gillham, Jody Aho, Joe Barr, Dave Swayze, Father Dowling Collection, Ahoy & Farewell II 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.


Tug Victory under tow

5/1 - Cheboygan, Mich.  1 p.m. update – The tug Victory and barge stopped off Cheboygan, Mich. about 4 a.m. Monday morning with engine trouble; the barge is loaded with coal for Monroe, Mich. The pair remained at anchor throughout the day and were taken under tow by the tugs Manitou and Bradshaw McKee Tuesday morning. The tow was off Alpena Tuesday afternoon, at their current speed they should reach Port Huron about 8 a.m. Wednesday morning.

Rob Miller


Port Reports -  May 1

Cheboygan, Mich. – Rob Miller
The tug Victory and barge stopped off Cheboygan, Mich. about 4 a.m. Monday morning with engine trouble; the barge is loaded with coal for Monroe, Mich. The vessels remained at anchor throughout the day and were expected to be towed downbound to Monroe by the tug Manitou. Manitou was upbound Monday and expected on scene around 12:30 a.m. Tuesday. The tug Bradshaw McKee arrived over night and was assisting the Victory. About 6:30 a.m. Tuesday morning they were downbound near Roger's City.

Muskegon, Mich. – Mark Taylor
Bradshaw McKee departed the Mart Dock Monday and headed north. The tug will sail to Erie, Pa. to join with its barge, Cleveland Rocks.

Grand Haven, Mich. – Dick Fox
The tug Undaunted and barge Pere Marquette 41 delivered two loads to Verplank's dock in Ferrysburg over the weekend – one on Friday and one early Monday.

Sandusky, Ohio – Jim Spencer
The Rt. Hon. Paul J. Martin spent the bulk of Monday loading at Sandusky's NorfolkSouthern coal dock. She will deliver the load at Nanticoke. Across Sandusky Bay on the Marblehead Peninsula, the Saginaw was loading at the Lafarge stone dock. She was posted as being bound for Goderich, Ont.

Fairport, Ohio – Kerry Defer
Calumet left Erie, Pa. headed for Marblehead to load limestone. She arrived at Fairport about 3 p.m. Monday to unload at Osborne stone.


Pelee Island ferry out of service temporarily

5/1 - Pelee Island, Ont. – The Pelee Islander, which provides service from Sandusky, and the Jiimaan, which runs to the island from the Canadian towns of Leamington and Kingsville, have been taken out of service after inspections revealed the need for repairs.

In the meantime, people who need to get to the island have been flying from Windsor, Ontario. The ferry Jet Express plans two trips to Pelee Island next month, at 7:45 a.m. May 3 and again at 7:45 a.m. May 10. Prior reservations are required, a Jet Express employee said. Jet Express is headquartered in Port Clinton, Ohio.

The hull of the Pelee Islander will require the replacement of some steel in the hull. The structural problem was discovered during the vessel’s mandatory five-year inspection. She is also going to have both propeller shafts replaced; another issue that was raised during the Coast Guard inspection. The work is expected to require an additional two weeks in drydock, which likely means she won't begin the 2012 Leamington-Sandusky-Leamington run via Pelee Island until shortly before Memorial Day. The Pelee Islander entered drydock at the Great Lakes Shipyard in Cleveland on April 2.

Sandusky Register


Vessel naming ceremony for tugboat Handy-Three

5/1 - Cleveland, Ohio - A newly constructed tugboat, Handy-Three, is to be ceremoniously named at Great Lakes Shipyard, Cleveland, Ohio, on Wednesday, May 2. The tugboat has been sold to Puerto Rico Towing & Barge Co. of San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, Representative of Northern Ohio’s Ninth Congressional District, will be the sponsor and principal speaker. The vessel is the third of a class of Handy Size tugboats designed by Jensen Maritime Consultants, Seattle, Washington. Specifically for harbor and coastal towing, the Handysize Class fills the market niche in the 2,000-4,000 horsepower tug market for harbor work, fireboats, and construction operations as well as for coastal barge towing.


Bramble could be listed on National Register of Historic Places

5/1 - Port Huron, Mich. – The decommissioned U.S. Coast Guard cutter Bramble could be headed to a spot on the National Register of Historic Places. Commissioned in 1944, the Bramble is owned by the Port Huron Museum, which received the ship after it was decommissioned in 2003.

The state’s Historic Preservation Board will consider the nomination at its next meeting in May. If the nomination is approved, the nomination materials will be forwarded to the national register and a decision should be reached in about six weeks, said Robert Christensen, national register coordinator.

Jon Ottman of Warren, Mich., has been working on the designation since January. He was a relief site manager at the Thomas Edison Depot and Bramble from March to August 2007 and volunteered at the Fort Gratiot Light Station and Huron Lightship during that time, too.

He said he put together the nomination to recognize the great history of the Bramble. “It’s one of the most historic cutters ever to serve the United States Coast Guard,” Ottman said. “She’s a proud ship with a proud history, and she deserves recognition.”

The museum’s board of trustees decided in December 2009 to sell the ship. It has been on the market since April 2010, said Susan Bennett, executive director of the Port Huron Museum. A few offers came in, but some were too low, and others couldn’t secure financing.

It has been closed since August. Bennett said museum officials will not object to the national registry listing.

“I’m thrilled that somebody in the community thought enough about it to (complete the nomination),” she said. “And unfortunately, it won’t change the status of the ship.”

Whether the ship is on the list will not impact the sale, Christensen said.

“As a private owner, the museum is free to do with it as they choose,” he said. “… This is just an encouragement. The ship is important, and that should be taken into consideration with whatever is done with it. That’s really all this is. Hopefully, it’s one more thing to remind everybody concerned the significance of the ship.”

Bennett said whatever happens to the ship, it needs to be handled right and stressed that “scrapping has never been on the table.”

The ship has been winterized, and the museum still pays insurance on it, she said. “Until we have a real offer in hand with financing, there is no decision to be made,” she said.

Port Huron Times Herald


Today in Great Lakes History -  May 1

The EDMUND FITZGERALD collided with the Canadian steamer HOCHELAGA at the mouth of the Detroit River, May 1, 1970, suffering slight damage at hatches 18 and 19.

The STEWART J. CORT departed Erie on her maiden voyage at 0400 May 1, 1972. She was delayed by fog in Western Lake Erie.

The steel-hulled bulk carrier SHENANGO (Hull#62) was launched on May 1, 1909, by Great Lakes Engineering Works, Ecorse, Michigan.

Scrapping began on the CHICAGO TRADER at Ashtabula, Ohio, on May 1, 1978.

The JOHN T. HUTCHINSON (Hull#1010) was launched at Cleveland, Ohio, by American Ship Building Co. on May 1, 1943.

The IRVING S. OLDS sustained an eight-foot long crack across her spar deck and eight inches down one side in a storm on Lake Huron May 1, 1963.

LIGHTSHIP 103 (HURON) was launched at Morris Heights, New York by Consolidated Shipbuilding Corp. on May 1, 1920, for the U.S. Lighthouse Service.

The SOO RIVER TRADER brought the first shipment of bulk cement to open the $18 million St. Lawrence Cement distribution dock at Duluth, Minnesota on May 1, 1982.

May 1, 1903 - The ANN ARBOR NO 1 sighted a burning vessel about 15 miles out of the Sturgeon Bay Ship canal, the steamer JOHN EMERY OWEN. The crew had already been picked off after the fire started, so the ANN ARBOR NO 1 put out the fire with her fire hoses. The NO 1 then towed the abandoned steamer to Sturgeon Bay and tied her up at the west end of the canal.

On 1 May 1875, CONSUELLO (wooden schooner, 103 foot, 142 gross tons, built in 1851, at Cleveland, Ohio) left Cleveland with a load of black stone for Toledo. Near Kelley's Island, a storm caused the cargo to shift and the ship capsized and sank. When she hit bottom, she jerked upright so the tops of her masts were above the water. Two of the crew, Fred Donahue and James King, were able to cling to the masts and they were rescued after about an hour and a half. Five others, including the captain and his wife, were drowned.

On 1 May 1876, the little steamer W.D. MORTON, which for two years had run as a ferry between Port Huron's Black River and Sarnia, left her dock for the Delaware River where she ran on a centennial excursion route for the exposition held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania She left the Lakes via the Erie Canal.

On 01 May 1858, OGONTZ (wooden propeller steamer, 343 tons, built in 1848, at Ohio City, Ohio) was purchased by Capt. A. E. Goodrich and George C. Drew for $5,600. This was the second vessel in the Goodrich Line. Just two years later, Capt. Goodrich had her machinery removed and she was sold to W. Crostin for $500. He converted her to a sailing vessel and she operated for two more years before she foundered in a storm.

1892 CELTIC, enroute from Fort William to Kingston with wheat and general cargo, sank in Lake Erie east of Rondeau after a collision with the steamer RUSSIA. The accident occurred in fog and one life was lost.

1909 ADELLA SHORES foundered with the loss of 14 lives in a Lake Superior storm while enroute from Ludington to Duluth with barreled salt.

1917 CASE began leaking on Lake Erie and was beached at East Sister Island, near Point Pelee and the ship caught fire when a lantern was knocked over. Some cargo was salvaged in August but the hull was left to break up in place and today the remains are scattered on the bottom.

1933 WILLIAM SCHUPP stranded on a shoal off Cockburn Island, Lake Huron, while enroute to Fort William in ballast. Once released, the vessel was repaired at Collingwood. It became MONDOC (ii) in 1945 and was scrapped at Deseronto, ON in 1961.

1940 ARLINGTON foundered in a Lake Superior storm on the second trip of the 1940 season. The wheat laden steamer was bound for Owen Sound went down stern first, taking Capt. Burke to his death. The rest of the crew survived and were picked up by the COLLINGWOOD.

1963 CAPE TRANSPORT was mauled overnight in a wild storm on Lake Huron off Harbor Beach. The steering gear was damaged, the radio knocked out and pilothouse windows were smashed. The HOLMSIDE, and later the RALPH S. MISENER, stood by. The ship reached a safe anchorage on May 2. Fleetmate OREFAX sustained damage to the forward cabins while upbound on Lake Huron in the same storm.

Data from: Skip Gillham, Jody Aho, Joe Barr, Dave Swayze, Father Dowling Collection, Ahoy & Farewell II 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.


News Archive - August 1996 to present

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