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Port Reports - May 31
Erie, Pa – Gene P.
Buffalo, NY – Brian W.
Keweenaw Star offers summer lighthouse cruises
5/31 - Charlevoix, Mich. – The Great Lakes are home to hundreds of lighthouses, dating back to the mid-1800s. You're invited to view them from the Keweenaw Star on one of five multi-day cruises this season offered by the Charlevoix-based Keweenaw Excursions.
All trips include the cruising experience as well as continental breakfast, hot lunch and afternoon appetizers on the boat, overnight accommodations and transportation from the boat to the hotel and back each day.
This year's schedule includes:
• "Explore The Door" (Wisconsin's Door Peninsula and the waters of Green Bay, June 22-25)
For details on all excursions, including pricing and itineraries, visit www.keweenawexcursions.com or call 231-237-9365.
Operating since 2000, Keweenaw Excursions is owned and operated by brothers Jason and Kraig Funkey. The company originated in Houghton, in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, and moved to Charlevoix in 2009. With a capacity of 130 passengers, the Keweenaw Star offers a range of cruises from mid-May through mid-October, including sunset tours, sightseeing trips and multi-day lighthouse and ship-watching cruises.
Lorain Lighthouse still works as a marker for ship captains
5/31 - Lorain, Ohio – When Dave Kramer was a child growing up in Lorain, Ohio, he could lie in his bed near the Lake Erie shoreline and hear the haunting sound of freighters sounding their foghorns as they negotiated the turn from the lake into the Black River. He found it so haunting, he would sometimes run to a spot from shore where he could see a big ship coming to his hometown.
Kramer, 79, is still in love with Lake Erie and the ships that turn into port, bound for the heavy-industry factories upriver in Lorain. Only now, he watches the ships from about a mile offshore as he works to restore the old Lorain Lighthouse. Kramer is part of a group of volunteers of the Lorain Lighthouse Foundation, which is repairing and restoring the building, which sits in 35 feet of water.
"This place was a mess," said Kramer as he replaced hinges on an interior door to the lighthouse. "Actually, birds lived in here for 25 years, so you can imagine the mess it was."
The Lorain Lighthouse was built in 1916 as a U.S. Coast Guard facility. It was manned every hour of every day, ensuring the big light at the top of the structure was working properly, sending its beam 15 miles across the Lake Erie waves. In 1965, the Coast Guard pulled out of the lighthouse when another one was constructed farther out into the lake and could be run without human hands.
During that time period, the wind, waves and winter ice took a toll on the lighthouse, which had become an iconic place in Lorain. Eventually, a foundation was established and it bought the structure from the federal government for a dollar. For years, the foundation volunteers have taken small boats from the pier to the lighthouse. For several hours a day, they work, repairing windows, stairs, and other parts of the lighthouse.
The foundation has raised tens of thousands of dollars for the repairs. It sponsors sunset dinners on the deck of the lighthouse and tours of the building. Sometimes, there is a wedding of a couple wanting to tie the knot amid the nautical knots of small boats which bring them to the lighthouse.
With every tour, there are many stories which are told of how the lighthouse has been vital to industry in Lorain. For generations, freighters have plied the waters as their captains steered the ships into the Black River from Lake Erie. The Lorain Lighthouse has played a vital role in keeping the ships on their chartered courses.
However, foundation members are quick to tell of the story of a 1959 incident when a freighter captain brought his ship too close to the lighthouse. There was a bump against the base of the lighthouse. "That caused the lighthouse to drop about six inches, which is currently settled at a nine percent lean," said Ed Baker, foundation president.
He beamed with the story, pointing how where the ship hit.
"It is the jewel of the port," said Heather Fraelich, marketing coordinator for the Visit Lorain County organization which markets the county. As the foundation workers went about their work in restoring part of the building, she watched how intently they worked. "They come out here every day and they work on the renovations and they give lighthouse tours and they give lighthouse dinners and we get to benefit from that," said Fraelich.
Indeed, for all who view the lighthouse, whether from the Lorain shoreline or from the deck of the building itself, there is a feeling of pride and history, knowing the part the lighthouse has played over the last century. It helped Lorain's industry grow in that it pointed the way for ship's captains.
In many ways, the lighthouse helped point the way for a community which still points to it as a major tourist attraction. In many ways, it continues to be the "jewel of the port."
ABC NewsNet 5
Lookback #560 – Gordon C. Leitch ran aground in St. Clair River on May 31, 1974
The first Gordon C. Leitch was stuck for 3 hours and 55 minutes at Buoy 2 on the St. Clair River 41 years ago today. The 663 foot, 6 inch long steam-powered bulk carrier was able to free herself with only minor damage.
The vessel was named for the founder and first president of the Upper Lakes Shipping fleet. The vessel was Hull 36 from the Midland shipyard and departed the port to begin regular service on Nov. 11, 1952. It was bound for Fort William and the first of the many loads of grain it carried during its brief 29-year career.
In the early days, the Gordon C. Leitch was confined to the five Great Lakes but was able to trade down the St. Lawrence once the Seaway opened in 1959.
A second grounding near Cap de Madelaine, Quebec, occurred on Oct. 6, 1980, and this time the ship needed to be lightered before tugs could pull the freighter free.
The Gordon C. Leitch tied up at Toronto on Dec. 22, 1981. It was sold for scrap in 1985 and cleared Toronto behind the tug Prescotont on July 15, 1985. After lingering at Kingston, the tugs Glenada, Robert H. and Irving Cedar pulled the laker down the Seaway on July 25.
The latter tug was outbound off Sept-Iles with the ship in tow on July 31, 1985, and they arrived at Setubal, Portugal, on Aug. 20, 1985, where the still-young vessel was dismantled.
Updates - May 31
News Photo Gallery - We are almost caught up, we are finishing the captions on the 250 images we received over the last week.
Today in Great Lakes History - May 31
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 cutter’s torch that 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 - PERE MARQUETTE 21 arrived Ludington, Michigan, on her maiden voyage. Captain Charles E. Robertson was 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 12 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: 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.
Phoenix departure delayed again after employee wage complaint
5/30 - Quebec City, Que. – A complaint sent to Transport Canada by the 17 sailors aboard the Phoenix — many of whom are Indian — alleging three months of non-payment has prevented the vessel from leaving port once again.
The ship, known in a previous life as the Phoenix Sun, had been docked in Sorel-Tracy since November 2012.
The ship was sold to Holborn Shipping in November 2014 for just over $682,000. Holborn then sold it to London Bridge Shipping Ltd., based in the Cayman Islands.
The Phoenix finally left Sorel-Tracy on May 22, destined for Dubai where it is supposed to undergo extensive repairs. However, it only made it as far as Quebec City before the engine broke down.
The ship was scheduled to depart again on Friday morning.
However, on Thursday night Transport Canada received a complaint from the 17 sailors aboard the ship alleging they had not been paid by their employer for the last three months.
Transport Canada blocked the ship from leaving port while it investigates under the Marine International Labor Convention.
The ship was moved from the port to just off the southern edge of Île d'Orléans to make space for other ships at the port.
Port Reports - May 30
Alpena, Mich. – Ben & Chanda McClain
Buffalo, N.Y. – Brian W.
Montreal, Que. – René Beauchamp
Lookback #559 – Sam McBride ran aground after missing the dock on May 30, 1969
The double-ended passenger ferry Sam McBride has been plying the waters of Toronto Bay since 1940. It is well known for its service between the mainland and the Toronto Island communities of Ward's Island, Centre Island and Hanlan's Point.
The ship cost $150,000 when it was built at Toronto. Its completion was delayed as the steering engine was lost when the ship bringing it to Canada late in 1939 was torpedoed and sunk.
The Sam McBride had its moments in the news, landing on a sand bar in 1949, hitting a dock in July 1950, and striking an anchored dredge in 1961. And it was 46 years ago today that the ferry missed the Centre Island dock, due to fog, and went aground. Fortunately, the vessel was slowing down and I do not believe anyone was hurt.
The veteran ferry remains active on the Toronto waterfront as it has for the past 75 years. It has been repowered, rewired and upgraded over the years and is a fixture to the traveling public wishing to enjoy the cool breezes of the beautiful Toronto Islands.
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.
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 standstill. 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 five 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.
Landmark Captain John’s tugged from Toronto on its way to scrap yard
5/29 - Toronto, Ont. – They came to see John Letnik. Hundreds of spectators lined the guardrail and fences at Toronto harbor on Thursday morning as the Jadran — the ship that housed Captain John’s floating seafood restaurant at the bottom of Yonge Street — was unhooked from its mooring.
“There were about 400 or 500 people along Queens Quay to see her off,” McKeil Marine marketing manager Brent Kinnaird said of the impressive turnout.
The hashtag #captainjohns was trending in Canada on Twitter Thursday as hundreds of people shared photos, thoughts and memories of the defunct restaurant.
Two McKeil Marine tugboats – the Molly M on the bow and the Jarrett M on the stern – guided the Jadran backward into Lake Ontario at about 10:30 a.m., capping off nine days of preparatory work and three years of uncertainty over the ship’s fate.
The procession arrived at Port Weller at about 3:30 p.m. — an hour ahead of schedule — and tied up below Lock 1 to await inspection from St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp. before entering the lock. The journey in its entirety, including moving through the Welland Canal locks, is expected to take about 44 hours,
Several people were at the send-off exclusively to see Letnik, the restaurant’s long-time owner. Captain John’s was located aboard the Jadran from 1975 to 2012, when Letnik, owing more than $1 million in back taxes and fees, saw his water supply cut off by the city.
Marine Recycling Corp. — the Jadran’s owner as of earlier this month — invited Letnik aboard as a paid consultant for the ship’s final voyage, which will end at MRC’s Port Colborne scrapyard.
“He knows more about the ship than anyone,” said Wayne Elliott, Marine Recycling’s director of business development. “He’s part of the crew. He’s the commodore.”
Letnik, meanwhile, said he was excited about the journey. “I feel great. It’s a sad day, but I have to accept the way it goes,” Letnik said. “I hope we’re going to have smooth sailing.”
Thursday’s trip was years in the making. City council voted to seize the Jadran in October 2013 and the ship was sold to entrepreneur James Sbrolla the following July, on the condition that he undock it by an August 22 deadline.
Sbrolla couldn’t follow through and, earlier this month, a federal judge approved the Jadran’s transfer to another buyer — Marine Recycling, who received an undisclosed amount from Ports Toronto to dispatch the ship.
The tow marked a relatively swift end to Captain John’s saga — but Thursday was a celebration as much as anything.
Letnik arrived at the harbor shortly after 9 a.m., sporting a gold-buttoned Captain John’s jacket and a Canadian-flag tie, holding his captain’s hat in his hand. He hugged old friends and held court with invited guests, posing for photos in an enclosed area.
Later, Ports Toronto presented him with a parting gift: a framed, black-and-white snapshot of Letnik with the Jadran in 1977, smiling at the edge of the harbor.
The photo was a tangible snippet of the ship’s history. Captain John’s hosted weddings, bikini contests and other gatherings throughout its four decades in Toronto. By its last few years, the Jadran was a shell of its former self, overwhelmed by mould and debris strewn across its floors.
Boris Spremo — a friend of Letnik’s since 1957, when the two emigrated separately from the former Yugoslavia — preferred to recall the positive. One of his daughters was married on the ship, where he also celebrated his 50th wedding anniversary.
“It’s like a part of me going away, a member of my family,” said Spremo, who often covered events on the Jadran as an award-winning Toronto Star photographer.
“It was just a joyful place in the middle of summer to be aboard. I’ve been around the world five times, and every big city has a ship as a restaurant or a hotel. It was just excellent and beautiful for Toronto. It’s sad to end it this way.”
Kinnaird said he suspects crowds will be seen along the canal as the ship continues its voyage, which is scheduled to end in Port Colborne early Saturday morning.
McKeil Marine has taken on several significant tows in recent history, including the HMCS Ojibwa, a decommissioned submarine that transited the canal on its way to Port Burwell in 2012.
“Our company has the vessels and our crews have the experience to handle fairly significant and high-profile tows in a safe way,” Kinnaird said.
McKeil, he added, has also taken on the challenge of towing vessels “much larger” than Captain John’s in the past.
National Post, Welland Tribune
Port Reports - May 29
Oswego, N.Y. – Ned Goebricher
Buffalo, N.Y. – Brian W.
Lookback #558 – A. & J. Mercury seized in the Welland Canal on May 29, 1964
Officials seized the cargo ship A. & J. Mercury 51 years ago today as it headed upbound in the Welland Canal. The former C2 cargo ship was en route to Ashtabula, OH to take on a cargo of coal.
The dispute was over the payment, or non-payment, of stevedore fees at Toronto and Hamilton when it had stopped there with a cargo of tin and rubber. The ship was released only to be arrested again on a complaint by the Seafarer's International Union over $90,000 in back wages owed to the crew.
On July 27, 1964, the vessel was put up for auction but the top bid of $180,000 was rejected. In time, the dispute was settled and A. & J. Mercury was cleared to leave the Seaway.
This ship had been built at Kearny, NJ in 1946 and joined the Grace Lines as a) Santa Monica. The 459.2 foot long C2 cargo carrier first came through the Seaway in 1959.
It was sold and renamed b) Maximus and then c) A. & J. Mercury in 1963 before reverting to d) Santa Monica again in 1964. Another sale in 1966 brought the final name of e) Cosmos Trader and the latter arrived at Kaohsiung, Taiwan, for scrapping on Oct. 8, 1969.
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.
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 icebreaker 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. 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. Two 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.
USS Cod subs for other fighting boats in film project
5/28 - Cleveland, Ohio – The USS Cod Submarine Memorial will be impersonating three sister World War II subs for the next two weeks as part of filming for a series of documentaries for the National Geographic Channel and the Smithsonian Channel.
The documentaries are being shot by Parallax Film Productions of Canada, using local actors and reenactors. The Cod is docked on North Marginal Road, between East Ninth Street and Burke Lakefront Airport.
Paul Farace, memorial president, said the Cod was chosen because it is identical to three Navy submarines depicted in the documentaries, plus it is one of the most complete and historically accurate of the 17 memorial subs located around the U.S.
Farace said six documentaries are planned in the series -- three dealing with American sub commanders during the war, and three about German U-boat commanders.
The three American commanders include Dudley Morton, skipper of the USS Wahoo. Farace described him as a gung-ho guy, whose "battle cry was 'Shoot the sons-of-a-bitches!'"
Commander Richard O'Kane, the second featured skipper, made a reputation aboard the USS Tang for sinking Japanese ships and rescuing Allied airmen shot down over the Pacific.
Commander Sam Dealey of the USS Harder was "very aggressive, known as the destroyer killer," Farace said. All three subs were sunk during the war.
Farace said the sub's volunteer crew has been hard at work getting the Cod camera-ready. Filming will take place both inside and outside the sub, during the day and at night, according to Farace.
"Apparently they can 'erase' the city, and the North Coast Harbor will be standing in for the South China Sea and the Yellow Sea," he added.
A special pump was rigged so the deck could be covered with water to make it look like the submarine had just surfaced. Farace and his wife cut red plastic circles to be fitted in goggles for night vision scenes.
The Cod's conning tower, normally closed to public tours to minimize the risk of damaging delicate, vintage equipment, will be opened to filming. So far there are no plans to fire the Cod's deck gun for the filming, Farace said.
This isn't the first time the Cod has been the subject of lights, cameras and action. Farace said the sub has been used in about a half-dozen film projects over the years, including work for National Geographic and the History Channel.
One of the first stipulations made of any filmmaker is that the project not interfere with public tours of the sub, Farace said. "We never close the boat to the public for any reason," he said. "She belongs to the American people."
From prior film projects "we've developed a technique for holding people up for a moment, waiting for a break (in the filming) before walking through," he said. The Cod is open daily, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The old sub benefits from the project in several ways, Farace said.
"It's certainly an ego boost for our crew to see someone else appreciating our restoration work," he said. "And it certainly helps to get a little bit of money that otherwise wouldn't be in our coffers to help restore and preserve a 72-year-old submarine.
"But another important aspect of this applies to our mission of educating the public," he added. "The documentary will help carry on the memory of these famous ships and captains."
Shepler’s new ferry Miss Margy makes first voyage – by land
5/28 - Onaway, Mich. – The newest addition to the Shepler’s Mackinac Island Ferry fleet, the $3.8 million, 85-foot Miss Margy, hit the road Wednesday for her maiden voyage aboard a semi-trailer moving between Moran Iron Works in Onaway to Rogers City.
The all-aluminum ferry, constructed at Moran, was carefully transported across 21 miles of backroads where utility wires have been erected high enough to allow passage to Moran’s deep-water Port Calcite Collaborative.
Over the next few days, a crane will lift Miss Margy into the water and Shepler’s CEO Bill Shepler will pilot the ferry, named after his mother, to the Shepler’s dock in Mackinaw City. He’ll be accompanied on the 50-mile journey by his son, Billy, the company’s fleet captain.
Updates on Miss Margy’s journey will be posted on the Shepler’s Mackinac Island Ferry Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/sheplersferry
Once at the dock on Friday, she’ll be decked out in an eye-catching banner so that the hundreds of attendees at the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Mackinac Policy Conference can see her on their return trip to the mainland. Shepler’s is providing ferry service for the annual conference, which attracts the state’s leading political leaders, including Gov. Rick Snyder and legislators from across the state.
The ferry will be christened by Gov. Snyder and Bill Shepler during a special ceremony in Mackinaw City on July 12. She will carry her first passengers a few weeks later.
The 281-passenger ferry includes an air-conditioned cabin, as well as a ventilation system to remove interior condensation from windows – important amenities for passengers during extremely warm or inclement weather. The ferry, Shepler’s largest, will have a top speed of about 40 mph. Shepler’s currently has a fleet of five passenger ferries and one cargo vessel.
Although ferries are usually constructed in ship-building centers such as Louisiana and Wisconsin, Shepler’s wanted to keep the work in Michigan and partnered with Moran to get the job done.
“Construction has required some 12,000 man hours on the shop floor over the last four months, keeping a crew of 13 plenty busy,” said Jason Willis, project manager at Moran. “Both Moran and Shepler’s have an amazing amount of local talent to have completed such an incredible project.”
Detroit making waves for water taxis
5/28 - Detroit, Mich. – Water taxis could join the flotilla of pleasure crafts, tugboats, barges, dinner cruises and freighters on the Detroit River. The Detroit Riverfront Conservancy hopes to offer the service on the U.S. side by 2016.
Efforts are underway to raise approximately $4.2 million, allowing the non-profit to operate six water stops and 14 trolley stops in the downtown core. Long-range plans could include a water taxi stop in Windsor.
“There’s definitely an opportunity,” said William Smith, the DRC’s chief financial officer. “It’s a little ways down the line.”
The proposed fare would be US$1 for a trolley ride and $7.50 for a water taxi.
The DRC has already been working with the Detroit/Wayne County Port Authority for some time on a passenger ferry service between Detroit and Windsor. “We’ve had discussions about crossing the water,” Smith said. “It’s a matter of getting the customs issue in order.”
The Detroit/Wayne Port Authority hoped to have a pilot project offering international passenger service in place for this weekend’s Belle Isle Grand Prix but couldn’t clear all the hurdles in time.
“We’re still working with border agencies on both sides to figure out exactly how to make it happen,” said Kyle Burleson, the authority’s deputy director. “We’re still hoping for August.”
The authority’s other pilot project involves a ferry service for Aug. 8-11 to coincide with a large Detroit convention that will see participants stay at hotels on both sides of the border. “We want to do a pilot project to show there’s a market here,” Burleson said. “If we can run it for a weekend, I think that will show there’s a serious desire for it.”
The Windsor Port Authority is working with U.S. officials on the passenger ferry.
“We’re trying to see what the requirements are going to be,” said David Cree, president and CEO of WPA.
While the Detroit Port has space in their Atwater Street headquarters to accommodate customs agents, no such infrastructure exists on the Windsor side.
“We’ve had some preliminary discussions with the mayor’s office about it,” Cree said. “Once we have something more substantial, we’ll sit down with the city.”
Cree said WPA has never looked into water taxis but believes the significant cost for customs services might not make it economically feasible.
Smith said the conservancy is looking at water taxis between 50 to 60 feet long that can hold 125 people.
Phase 1 calls for six stops at Cobo Hall, the Detroit Port Authority, the Renaissance Centre, Rivard Plaza, Stroh River Place and Belle Isle. The service would run May to September.
The Detroit Port Authority is offering U.S.-only ferry service for the Grand Prix. One ferry will shuttle patrons from the Atwater dock to the Harbor Master terminal near the race course entrance Friday with two boats operating Saturday and Sunday.
It’s a US$10 round trip or a three-day pass for $27.
Lookback #557 – Fire broke out aboard the tug Comanche on May 28, 1982
The aging tug Comanche suffered an electrical fire at DeTour, Mich., on May 28, 1982, that gutted the pilothouse and cabins. The 82-year-old tug was surrendered to the underwriters and not repaired.
Originally the iron tug Richard Caswell, it was built for the Corps of Engineers at Baltimore in 1900. The 85 foot long vessel also saw service with the United States Navy during World War Two and was rebuilt and repowered in 1947.
The ship was stationed at Sault Ste. Marie as d) Seaway No. 1 for Seaway Towing Inc. in the early 1970s and used for local towing. It was renamed e) Comanche in 1981 and was bound for work at Kenosha, Wis., when fire broke out 33 years ago today.
The hull was taken back to Sault Ste. Marie and remained idle until late 1985. It was under tow when it sank off Ludington, Mich., on Dec. 12, 1985.
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.
Port Reports - May 27
Port Weller, Ont. – Paul Beesley
Oshawa, Ont. – Lorraine Morrill
Feds looking for stewards for 3 lighthouses
5/27 - In an effort to save taxpayer dollars and preserve the past, the U.S. General Services Administration is looking for stewards to care for three historic lighthouses.
They are being offered at no cost, to eligible state or local governments, nonprofit corporations, historical preservation group, or community development organizations as part of the National Lighthouse Preservation Act program.
One of the lighthouses, the Detroit River Light, has been standing since 1885. It is near the end of Bar Shoal in Lake Erie, south of the entrance to the Detroit River.
The Detroit River Light is a 49-foot-high cast iron plate tower. It is 22 feet in diameter at the white base and 18 feet in diameter at the black top. It resembles a vessel, with the pointed end directed toward the mouth of the river to break ice flows coming downriver.
A steward may use the lighthouses for education, park, recreation, cultural or preservation purposes and must maintain them according to the secretary of the interior's standards for rehabilitation.
The U.S. General Services Administration works with federal agencies to dispose of unneeded properties, including lighthouses, said Cat Langel, U.S. General Services spokeswoman.
Also in need of a steward is the Minneapolis Shoal Light, which marks the entrance to Little Bay De Noc in Delta County, and the North Manitou Shoal Light.
The three lighthouses occupy Great Lakes Public Trust bottomlands owned by the state of Michigan. They will also serve as active navigation aids and will remain the property of the Coast Guard, said Langel.
If no qualified applications are received, the National Lighthouse Preservation Act program authorizes the U.S. General Services Administration to sell the lighthouses through public auction.
To date, 25 lighthouses in Michigan have been transferred under the act or sold. Across the country, 114 lighthouses have been sold or transferred out of federal ownership.
For more information on the program and how to apply, visit disposal.gsa.gov.
Mesabi Nugget, Mining Resources idled indefinitely
5/27 - Duluth, Minn. – Steel Dynamics, the parent company of Mesabi Nugget and Mining Resources, announced Tuesday that the two Iron Range facilities will remain idled indefinitely, affecting about 200 workers.
The workers found out at a meeting on Tuesday, at the Mt. Iron Community Center. SDI wanted to break the news to them in person, rather than over the phone.
"I've never been laid off before. But I feel like the layoff payments and severance are generous. I'm not worried about myself. I'm single, and I'll be fine. But I am worried about the families who will be affected," said Heather Nelson, who worked at Mesabi Nugget for three years.
"I was expecting a layoff," explained Rich Yuretich, who worked at Mining Resources. "But not to the timeline that they're talking about. We'll make it through. I have a millwright degree, and I'll try to get on somewhere else."
VP of Iron Resources Dave Bednarz was there to talk to the employees. "We are going to maintain the facilities, with the hope being that the market will turn around and we can re-start them. They did immensely good work at Nugget to make things more profitable over the past 12 months. In this market though, it's still impossible."
He and other SDI leaders are meeting individually with each affected employee, to see if he or she would like to relocate to other SDI facilities.
Mesabi Nugget in Hoyt Lakes and Mining Resources in Chisholm had already been idled. Steel Dynamics now says the two facilities will remain idle for at least two years because of low iron prices, which had made the facilities unprofitable.
"Current global currency dynamics and world iron ore supply / demand factors support lower pig iron prices. We currently do not see strong drivers that would suggest a reversal of this trend for some time," CEO Mark D. Millett said in a press release. "Our Minnesota operations were intended to serve as a hedge to high pig iron and scrap prices. While this lower raw material cost environment certainly advantages our steel operations, it has resulted in an uneconomic situation for our iron nugget operations."
A small group of workers will be retained to maintain the Iron Range facilities. The company said it is attempting to find jobs for the affected workers at Steel Dynamics facilities elsewhere in the country.
Mesabi Nugget is a joint venture between Steel Dynamics and Kobe Steel, while Mining Resources is a joint venture between Steel Dynamics and Magnetation. Steel Dynamics is based in Fort Wayne, Ind.
Duluth Seaway Port Authority to break ground Wednesday on Intermodal Project
5/27 - Duluth, Minn. – On Wed., May 27, the Twin Ports maritime community will gather with business leaders, elected officials and dignitaries from across the state and nation to officially break ground on the Port of Duluth Intermodal Project – the largest infrastructure project undertaken by the Duluth Seaway Port Authority since the construction of the Clure Public Marine Terminal prior to the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway in 1959.
Those in attendance at the 10 a.m. ceremony will be celebrating not only the revitalization of this 28-acre dock but also Duluth’s working waterfront. The long-awaited rebuild and expansion of Dock C&D will put a vacant, underutilized dock back into maritime service after more than 20 years. The completion of this project will enhance the Port Authority’s intermodal capabilities, expand its capacity to handle more heavy-lift and project cargo, and enhance the competitiveness of this entire region by increasing freight capacity via the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway system.
The $17.7 million redevelopment project was funded, in part, by a $10 million Transportation Infrastructure Generation Economic Recovery (TIGER) Discretionary grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT). An additional $2.75 million in funding has been provided through the Minnesota Port Development Assistance Program (PDAP); $990,000 was awarded by the State of Minnesota’s (DEED) Contamination Cleanup Grant program; and the Duluth Seaway Port Authority is investing over $3.9 million of its own capital in this infrastructure renewal project.
The redevelopment process will include replacing corroded sheet piling and deteriorated wooden dock walls, resurfacing the deck, reinforcing heavy-lift capacity and constructing a new roll-on/roll-off dock. The project also involves dredging adjacent waters for vessel berths, installing road and rail connections, plus adding enhancements for safety and security. Port officials expect this first phase of reconstruction to be completed in the fall of 2016.
Duluth Seaway Port Authority
Freighter from 1980 Duluth drama reaches the end of its journey
5/27 - Its name blacked out, its forward progress dependent on the tug towing it, a once-powerful Great Lakes freighter that frequented the Twin Ports in years past glided through Ontario’s Welland Canal earlier this month, on its way to end its career in a scrapyard.
The 690-foot, 62-year-old American Fortitude – formerly the Courtney Burton, and before that the Ernest T. Weir – once carried taconite, grain and other cargo across the lakes. For a time, it was the flagship of Oglebay Norton’s Columbia Transportation fleet, replacing the Edmund Fitzgerald after that vessel’s tragic sinking in a Lake Superior storm in 1975.
And on April 8, 1980, the ship — then sailing under the name Courtney Burton — had a memorable mishap while trying to enter the ice-choked Duluth ship canal.
“The captain and crew of the Courtney Burton and about 300 Canal Park spectators spent an anxious hour Tuesday afternoon as the 690-foot ore carrier was pushed broadside by waves and wind to within 150 yards of the Duluth ship canal breakwater,” the next day’s News Tribune reported.
The ship canal was filled with ice chunks from pier to pier, with the jumbled ice estimated at 10 to 20 feet thick in places and northeast winds blowing at 10 to 20 mph. The captain of the Burton, Sam Ring, later told the Duluth Herald that he had made a run at the ice pack at about 6-8 mph and utilized all of its 7,000 horsepower in an effort to power through the ice and get into the harbor.
When that failed, the Burton tried backing out — but ice and waves pushed it perpendicular to the piers. Ring called for two tugs to help him break free, but they couldn’t make it through the ice.
“It was a very, very serious situation,” Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Douglas Lundberg, captain of the buoy tender Mesquite, later told the News Tribune.
Eventually Ring was able to work his ship free, following a path along the Park Point shore and back out to open water.
“Oh, yes, we’ve had conditions like this before,” a jokingly nonchalant Ring told the Herald the next day in a ship-to-shore phone call.
The freighter was built in Lorain, Ohio, and launched in 1953 as the Ernest T. Weir, honoring the founder of the ship’s owner, National Steel Corp. According to a history of the vessel on the website boatnerd.com, the Weir sailed to Superior to pick up a load of iron ore on its maiden voyage.
The ship was on Lake Superior in the same storm that sank the Edmund Fitzgerald on Nov. 10, 1975, the boatnerd.com history reported. In 1978, the Weir was acquired by Oglebay Norton to serve as the flagship of its Columbia Transportation fleet, replacing the Fitzgerald.
The Weir eventually was renamed the Courtney Burton to honor a longtime chairman of Oglebay Norton who also was the grandson of company co-founder Earl Oglebay.
In 2006, Oglebay Norton sold the Burton and five other freighters to the American Steamship Co., and it was renamed the American Fortitude. It sailed for a few seasons longer until it went into layup in Toledo, Ohio, in late 2008, the Port Colborne (Ontario) Leader reported.
In December, the ship left Toledo under tow and passed through the Welland Canal from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario. It spent the winter docked in Oswego, N.Y.
Zelko Kirincich, executive director of the Port of Oswego Authority, told the Syracuse Post-Standard earlier this year that the American Fortitude had been sold to a Texas holding company to either be sold overseas, or scrapped.
On May 11, the ship left Oswego under tow. On May 14, it arrived at the International Marine Salvage scrapyard in Port Colborne to be dismantled.
Duluth News Tribune
Marine News Casualties & Demolitions 2015
5/27 - Marine News, the monthly journal of the World Ship Society, reports the following ships with Great Lakes connections, going for scrap in the June 2015 issue. Demolitions: The Atlantic Eland arrived at Alang, India, on Jan. 31, 2015. Scrapping got underway by Rajendra Shipbreakers Pvt. Ltd. beginning on Feb. 6. This vessel was built at Krasnodon in 1990 and initially sailed under the Russian flag. It came through the Seaway for the first time as d) Thorslake on Nov. 12, 1999, headed for Hamilton. It was back for three trips in 2000 for Toronto and Hamilton carrying steel, lumber, machinery and general cargo. It was sold to the Lykes Line later in 2000 becoing e) Lykes Inspirer and returned to the Seaway on May 22, 2001, again for Hamilton. It made a total of three trips to Hamilton with general cargo as well as manganese ore in 2001 and another to the same port in 2002. It was sailing as i) Atlantic Eland until earlier this year.
The small chemical tanker Hudson arrived at Aliaga, Turkey on Feb. 2, 2015, for dismantling. The ship was built at Busum, Germany, as Odet in 1975 and was initially classed as a wine tanker. The French-flag vessel was a Seaway trader in 1991, 1992 and 2000 and, on the latter occasion, stopped at Valleyfield with a cargo of coconut oil. It was converted to a chemical tanker of 2,146 gross tons in 1995, renamed b) Othello in 2003 and c) Hudson in 2014. Scrapping began by Ege Celik Gemi Sokum AS on Feb. 6.
The bulk carrier Thea K. dated from 1984. It was built at Shiogama, Japan, as Garnet Star and sailed under the flag of Liberia. While the ship was not a Seaway trader, it did get as far as Montreal in 1991. It was renamed b) Dorothea following a sale to August Bolten Shipping, with registry in Cyprus, in 1994. It arrived at Montreal again on March 19, 2001, and anchored for the opening of the Seaway. This was the first saltwater ship into the lakes March 23 and headed to Toronto with a cargo of sugar before going to Burns Harbor for a load of corn. It returned with sugar in 2002 and carried steel during a visit in 2003. The vessel was registered in Panama as c) Thea K. in 2008 and spent the rest of its career in saltwater trading. It arrived at Aliaga, Turkey, for scrapping on Feb. 21, 2015, and was to be broken up by Simsekler Gida Gemi Sokum.
The tanker Sunway B. was sailing as a) Bum Dong when it first came through the Seaway on Oct. 4, 2003. On board was a load of urea ammonium nitrate and the destination was Hamilton. The 444 foot 8 inch long, 9,559 gross ton tanker was sold and renamed b) Spyros K. in 2004 and c) Sunway B. in 2009. Following a sale to Bangladesh shipbreakers, the 35-year old vessel arrived at Chittagong on Feb. 8, 2015. Scrapping got underway on Feb. 16.
The bulk carrier Suraya-Y arrived at Alang, India, on Feb. 16, 2015, and scrapping commenced on Feb. 24. This vessel dated from 1982 and was built at Sac Flix. The Spanish flag freighter came through the Seaway for the first time in 1991 and remained in service until a sale and rename of b) Thuraya-Y in 2009. It had been sailing under the final name of c) Suraya-Y since 2011.
Casualties: The former Canadian Naval support ship Cormorant, a) Aspa Quatro, came to the Great Lakes in 1989, 1994 and 1997 and helped with some underwater research projects. The vessel had been inactive in recent years and settled on the bottom at her berth at Bridgewater, Nova Scotia, on March 18, 2015. A heavy build up of snow and ice on deck resulted in a list putting the ship on the bottom.
Compiled by Rene Beauchamp, Barry Andersen and Skip Gillham
Seaway Notice – Security at approach/tie-up walls
Lookback #556 – George M. Cox caught on Rock of Ages Reef on May 27, 1933
The George M. Cox was getting ready for a new career providing Lake Superior cruise service after many years on Lake Michigan as Puritan. There were also plans to carry passengers to the World's Fair Exposition at Chicago during the summer but the ship was lost 82 years ago today during a good will and publicity voyage.
The newly refitted vessel struck the Rock of Ages Reef on May 27, 1933, while traveling from Houghton, MI to Port Arthur, ON after losing its way in fog. The ship hit at 17 miles per hour and stranded at a precarious angle. All on board were rescued before the ship slid off its perch and sank in deep water. The Captain and First Mate both lost their certificates as a result of the inquiry.
This ship had been built at Toledo in 1901 and initially served the Graham & Morton Line. It provided freight service as well as overnight accommodation for passengers on a run between Chicago, Benton Harbor and St. Joseph, MI.
During World War One, Puritan was requisitioned for war service and left the Great Lakes. It returned in 1920 for the Chicago, Racine and Milwaukee Line working on the western side of Lake Michigan.
There were additional owners and routes before Puritan tied up at Manistee, MI due to the Depression about 1930. It remained there until the plans for a new career ended up on the rocks.
Today the wreck of the George M. Cox is popular for divers but the hull has broken in two due to the stress of wind and waves in the ensuing years.
Updates - May 27
Saltie Gallery updated
with pictures of the Onego Rotterdam.
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 sawmills 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 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
Saginaw River – Todd Shorkey
Toronto, Ont. – Jens Juhl
Quebec City, Quebec – Paul Beesley
Help wanted: Licensed marine engineer, Allied Marine Niagara Region
5/26 - Requirements include a minimum 2nd class Marine Engineer ticket. Applicants must have a minimum of 5 years experience, be able to multitask, have excellent mathematical skills and troubleshooting capabilities. Marine and Industrial experience would be an asset. Availability to work shift work if required. Must be bondable, have a valid drivers license and passport. We will provide competitive hourly wage to commensurate with experience, comprehensive benefit package and participation in our company profit sharing plan.
Please Email resumes to firstname.lastname@example.org or apply in person at 118 West St., Port Colborne, Ontario.
Obituary: Paul Lindberg
5/26 - Paul Allen Lindberg, 72, of Charlevoix, passed away Saturday, April 25 in his home. In the late 1990s, he and his wife Georgeann purchased and renovated the historic Round Island Lighthouse on the St. Marys River, turning it into an architectural showpiece. As a result, he invented a landscape tool for large rock removal, “The Rock Jaw,” manufactured in Petoskey and sold worldwide.
Mr. Lindberg was born Aug. 1, 1942, in Cleveland, Ohio, He studied landscape architecture at Michigan State University and later cultivated landscape projects on Grosse Ile, highlighting his classic design and passion for wildlife and land conservation. He moved to Charlevoix in 1982 where he owned and operated Dairy Queen franchises in Petoskey, Traverse City and Alanson. He continued his landscape work and conservation throughout the United States as well as on numerous local projects. Services have already taken place.
Lookback #555 – Former Wilfred went aground at Buenos Aires on May 26, 1984
The Norwegian bulk carrier Wilfred was built at Bergen, Norway, and completed on Oct. 4, 1965. The 541 foot, 7 inch long by 70 foot, 7 inch wide vessel could carry 20,951 tons of cargo in the six holds and was diesel powered.
Wilfred began Great Lakes trading in 1966 and returned on occasion in ensuing years. It was sold and renamed b) Psili in 1977 and operated under Greek, then Liberian registry before moving back to the flag of Greece. It was 31 years ago today that Psili went aground at Buenos Aires, Argentina. Fortunately, they were able to refloat the freighter undamaged.
Psili was laid up at Piraeus, Greece, on May 15, 1985, likely due to a lack of contracts. It remained idle until May 28, 1986, when it was resold to Intertrans Shipping Ltd. and registered in Malta as c) Glory Bay.
Its service, if any, was short lived and, following a resale to Chinese shipbreakers, the vessel arrived at Dalian, China, for dismantling on Sept. 18, 1986.
Updates - May 26
News Photo Gallery will be updated tomorrow
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.
Crews prep ex-restaurant ship Jadran for trip to breakers
5/25 - Marine Recycling Corp. workers have been working all weekend getting the Jadran ready for its final voyage to Port Colborne. Both anchors and chains have been removed. A heavy hawser has been passed down each hawse pipe with the inboard ends secured to the anchor windlass drums. The outboard ends have been shackled together to form a formidable towing bridle. Back aft a heavy hawser is attached to two pairs of bollards, and this will be used to hook up the "tail end Charlie" braking/steering tug.
In preparation for passing through the Welland Canal, anything that could make hard contact with the lock wall and get torn off has been removed. Both bridge wings have been cut off and stowed inboard. Up forward, the starboard cargo boom has been swung inboard and stowed. It had been used to support the shore power cable. The six metal lifeboats have been canted inboard and secured.
For the past two days workers have been using a four-inch portable pump to top up the ballast tanks in order to optimize stability and get the ship into proper towing trim. Measured by recently painted in draft marks the Jadran is drawing about 12 feet forward and 13 feet aft. A two-foot wide horizontal white towing bar has been painted across the bow and the stern at the 16 feet draft marks.
Welders have been busy welding metal blanks over the overboard discharge openings located at or just above the water line. On the port side there are more than two dozen discharges. When the Jadran was built back in 1957 all sorts of stuff went over the side, including every thing from the galley sink. Apparently during last winter's deep freeze one of the overboard discharge valves froze, cracked and flooded the aft shaft compartment. Given the dubious integrity of the piping and valves connected to these through hull openings, they are all a potential source of serious down flooding.
For the final voyage, the Jadran's image has been much improved. The rusty boarding ramps have been torched off. The cheap plywood sheets have been removed from the starboard main deck promenade. The "Captain John" sign and the gaudy string lights along the bow cap rail are gone. A big new Canadian flag snaps briskly in the breeze from the stern flagstaff and below it flies the MRC house flag. The bow flagstaff sports the MRC house flag and the Green Marine flag.
The towing job will be done by the McKeil Marine "M team" – the tugs Molly M1 and the venerable Jarrett M (ex Atomic).
Port Reports - May 25
Marquette, Mich. – Rod Burdick
Saginaw, Mich. – Todd Shorkey
Lorain, Ohio – Phil Leon
Toronto, Ont. – Jens Juhl
Buffalo, N.Y. – Brian W
Training ship for Great Lakes sailors draws attention during brief stop
5/25 - Buffalo, N.Y. – The imposing ship seemed to appear out of nowhere Saturday morning, docked just past the USS Croaker and USS Little Rock on Buffalo’s Inner Harbor. It turns out the 224-foot, black-hulled boat – emblazoned with its name “State of Michigan” – was simply on a break from its long tour of duty navigating the Great Lakes.
Onboard were 56 students – or cadets – in their first year of learning how to be sailors and officers in the commercial shipping industry. The State of Michigan, it turns out, is their 1,800-horsepower floating classroom – a training ship for the Great Lakes Maritime Academy based in Traverse City, Mich.
Originally built as a submarine surveillance ship, the State of Michigan had sailed from Toledo, Ohio, and pulled into Buffalo about 9 a.m.
The ship has been stopping in Buffalo around the Memorial Day weekend each of the last three years, though it doesn’t stay long. At 3:45 p.m. Saturday, crews were hauling in the gangplank and stood in single file to haul in the thick ropes that tied the ship to the dock.
Mike Surgalski, a ship officer and chairman of the Deck Department overseeing navigation and deck operations, took a few minutes to explain the ship’s presence as the cadets prepared to cast off and head to Cleveland, the ship’s next port of call.
The first year of the four-year Maritime Academy program is meant to help students not only learn about the nuts and bolts of being a commercial sailor and member of the Merchant Marine, but to adjust to the confining life aboard a ship, he said.
The academy is a public college, not a military program, though it does attract some veterans. Of all the first-year cadets onboard, half are students right out of high school, he said. Of the remaining, a dozen or so are veterans of the U.S. military, and the rest are working toward second careers, he said. The typical age of the students is 27, Surgalski said. About 10 percent of the cadets are female.
The stop in Buffalo, like many other stops along the Great Lakes city ports, are meant to relieve the drudgery of ship work and onboard living.
Along the third deck railing, dozens of bicycles were parked. At every port stop, two-thirds of the students are allowed off the ship to explore while the remaining third remains onboard to complete day work. Surgalski, one of 11 professional crew members, had only made it as far the Tim Horton’s in the HarborCenter building, but he was impressed with the new development.
“It’s very pretty,” he said. “Wow.”
With the Canalside carnival underway and the other new attractions drawing fun seekers downtown, the sidewalks were packed with adults and children, many stopping to look at the ship and wonder what it was doing here. Surgalski was surprised to learn the waterfront isn’t always so crowded.
“OK, I’ve got to go,” he finally said, after swinging shut the gate where the gangplank was and placing two crew members to hold it shut. A punctual departure was important if the crew was going to make it to Cleveland in time to watch the Indians play the Cincinnati Reds at 1 p.m. Sunday.
“We’ll definitely be back here,” he said. “It’s too beautiful to pass up.”
Lookback #554 – Seaway visitor Braheholm launched on May 25, 1951
There was excitement along the waterfront at Gothenburg, Sweden, 64 years ago today. The local Eriksbergs shipyard was about to launch a 431-foot -long freighter for the Swedish-America Line. The event went smoothly and, in August 1951, the white-hulled ship was ready for service.
Too large for the pre-Seaway era into the Great Lakes, Braheholm joined smaller company running mates once the new waterway was opened. The vessel traded inland on two occasions in 1960 but made three trips most years until a final voyage in 1967. This made for a total of 21 transits.
The ship was sold later in 1967 and registered in Liberia as Sea Challenger and then became New Hysan, flag of Panama, in 1973. This proved to be the final name in a career that spanned 33 years.
Following a sale to Taiwan shipbreakers, the former Seaway trader arrived at Kaohsiung on April 3, 1984. There it was broken up by the Tien Cheng Steel Manufacturing Co. beginning on May 12, 1984.
Updates - May 25
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, 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 11 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: 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.
Captain John’s is readied for its final voyage, expected Tuesday
5/24 - Toronto, Ont. – Almost every day this week, “Captain” John Letnik has made a heart-wrenching pilgrimage to the foot of Yonge St. to watch his life’s work being dismantled, bit by rusting bit.
The iconic Captain John’s Seafood Harbour Boat Restaurant sign that stood for decades on the aged bow of the waterfront landmark, the Jadran, was lifted down by crane on Wednesday.
The gangplank that used to welcome businessmen and, later, busloads of tourists onto the former Mediterranean cruise ship is now gone. So are the twin anchors of the 90-metre ship.
Even the tattered Canadian flag has been removed from the upper deck and replaced with a snappy new flying ad for Marine Recycling Corporation, the Port Colborne ship scrapping company that will guide the Jadran to its final resting place starting next Tuesday morning — weather, wind and waves permitting.
“People say to me, ‘How can you take it?’ But the ship and the restaurant were part of me. I invested my life inside that ship,” says Letnik, 76.
One thing remains connected and, strangely, still working — the restaurant’s reservations line. It dates back to 1976 when the city’s first floating restaurant, on what was then a desolate stretch of Toronto waterfront, threw open its doors on what was considered, at the time, a fine-dining experience.
“People are still calling, leaving messages,” says Letnik. “Some are saying the foot of Yonge St. won’t look the same without Captain John’s. Others are saying it’s time for Captain John’s to go.
So much of the ship — and its long history — is already gone.
Letnik has spent the last three years, since public health officials shut off water to the ship and civic officials shut down the business over unpaid back taxes and other fees, slowly removing anything of value.
Sadly, that’s included most of the brass fittings and elaborately carved wood panels that have graced the former luxury cruiser since it was first built in the former Yugoslavia back in 1957. It would later go on to become the private ocean-going getaway for former president Josip Broz Tito and his entourage.
When Letnik bought the ship back in 1975 for $875,000 (U.S.), it came with a statue of Tito, as well as fine linens and bedding in its 355 guest cabins. Letnik donated all of it to Adriatic-based shipping company Jadrolinija Rijeka as part of the deal.
It took more than 15 days and a crew of 16 to navigate the ship across the North Atlantic from Pula, Yugoslavia to Toronto.
“It was quite stormy. For three days we spent more time under the water than on top of it,” said Letnik. “She would pitch 45 degrees and then roll.”
When they finally arrived in Toronto in November of 1975, a crowd of 150 civic officials and curious onlookers were there to greet the ship as it eased into the Queen’s Quay slip where it would become a pioneering attraction on a waterfront that, back then, had little else to offer.
Letnik would spend some $3 million installing insulation, new wiring and a new kitchen where he would man the decks on a dream that thrived through the ‘80s but crashed onto the rocks during the 1990s recession.
Until the downturn, a sizable list of the Who’s Who of Toronto’s business elite had their own tables and would make the ship a regular stop for Letnik’s trademark clam chowder or drinks on the deck. The novel floating restaurant — which offered one of the best views of the city next to the recently opened CN Tower — was the unique go-to place for bar mitzvah’s, Christmas parties, visiting relatives.
Letnik’s daughter, Denise, got married on the ship in 1994, as did many other couples over the years.
As late as a week ago, when Letnik did a final, nostalgic and teary-eyed walk around the Jadran’s battered and duct-taped decks, the thank you note and picture from Dan and Anna Sprague’s September 3, 2006 wedding remained tacked on the wall of his dishevelled office.
“Our wish to be married on the deck came true!”
Even as debts mounted, Letnik struggled to keep the business going: At last count, he owes well over $1.7 million in realty taxes, berthing fees and mortgages.
Much of the history of the Jadran — from brass lights to massive rope cleats — now sits on the lawn of a low-rise Scarborough apartment building that Letnik still owns. He’s now living in a basement unit after years in the top deck Captain’s Quarters of the Jadran.
Letnik’s last hope is that Marine Recycling will honor its promise to reserve a spot for him on the ship as it makes its final journey.
“It’s not going to be easy leaving the ship in Port Colborne. But I understand that its time is up.”
Port Reports - May 24
Toronto, Ont. -Jens Juhl
Buffalo, N.Y. – Brian W
Lookback #553 – Ternefjell sank in English Channel after a collision May 24, 1953
The ships of the Fjell Line hailed from Norway and were well known around the Great Lakes in the pre and early Seaway years. Their first Ternefjell to visit the Great Lakes was launched at Sunderland, England, on April 10, 1948, and completed in June for Norwegian flag service.
The 1,451 gross ton freighter could carry 2,513 tons deadweight and was steam powered.
On its first trip inland in July 1948, the vessel loaded 900 tons of flour, valued at $75,000 at Buffalo, NY for Skein, Norway. Before being lost, the ship made 17 trips through the old canal system.
Ternefjell sank on May 24, 1953, after a collision with Dotterel in the English Channel about 11 nautical miles SW by W of Start Point. The Norwegian ship had loaded at Rotterdam, Antwerp and Glasgow for Chicago before plunging to the bottom. Insurance paid 3,200,000 krona for the loss.
Dotterel, a British ship, dated from 1934 and had no Great Lakes connection. It was scrapped at Bilbao, Spain, in 1961.
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 BURNS HARBOR was christened for the Wilmington Trust Co., (Bethlehem Steel Co., Mgr.) Wilmington, Delaware.
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.).
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 was 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.
New icebreaker for Great Lakes closer to reality
5/23 - Duluth, Minn. – Earlier this week, out on Lake Superior aboard the research vessel Blue Heron, scientist Jay Austin described some of his research into ice on the Great Lakes.
He talked about ice keels — the submerged undersides of ice ridges that form on the lake. He said the keels, like icebergs, are much larger below the waterline than the ridges are above it.
"The North Shore is a nursery for ice," said Austin, a University of Minnesota Duluth professor and physical oceanographer who does work for the Large Lakes Observatory located in Duluth. "Then it gets blown around."
Back-to-back winters of historic ice coverage have reversed a 15-year trend of diminishing ice cover on the Great Lakes. The epic ice coverage of the winters of 2013-14 and 2014-15 led to difficult and extended ice-out seasons that hurt the shipping industry and led to a drumbeat for more icebreaking resources.
This week, the U.S. House of Representatives approved $8.7 billion in funding for the U.S. Coast Guard that would include money for a new Great Lakes icebreaker. The new icebreaker would be similar to the Mackinaw, the only heavy icebreaker among the Coast Guard's Great Lakes fleet that includes eight other capable but smaller vessels.
"The need is very real," said Glen Nekvasil, vice president of the Lake Carriers' Association that represents 16 American companies operating U.S.-flag vessels, including the Duluth-based Great Lakes Fleet. "These past two winters we've had significant delays and reductions in the amount of cargo that's been (able) to move."
April's shipping totals were down 6 percent from historical averages, with Nekvasil blaming the heavy ice formations in Whitefish Bay on the eastern end of Lake Superior. That early April soup of ice was 8 feet thick in some places, with slabs as big as pickup trucks. It left 18 vessels tied up in the bay, requiring a massive icebreaking effort that drew in the Canadian Coast Guard's icebreaking fleet to assist.
The House Transportation Committee responded by authorizing the construction of a new freshwater icebreaker.
"This state-of-the-art ship will be especially designed for freshwater ice, which is much harder to break up than seawater ice," Rep. Rick Nolan, D-Crosby, said in a news release at the time.
Nolan is a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. His communications director, Steve Johnson, said similar vessels to the one in the funding package approved by the House have cost "in the $240 million range." The authorizing legislation will need to clear hurdles with the Senate and President before it's fully approved. Assuming all goes according to plan, Johnson said, the ship would be included in the 2017 Coast Guard appropriations bill, in which Congress will approve the actual amount that can be spent.
In President Barack Obama's commencement address at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy earlier this week, the President gave a hint at his commitment to Coast Guard funding when he said, "These are tight fiscal times for all our services, including the Coast Guard. But we are going to keep working to give you the boats and the cutters and the aircraft that you need to complete the missions we ask of you.
"And I've made it clear that I will not accept a budget that continues these draconian budget cuts called sequestration," the President continued, "because our nation and our military and our Coast Guard deserve better."
Late this week the Ontario-based Chamber of Marine Commerce weighed in, too, urging reforms and action to ensure greater industrial competitiveness. The group represents more than 150 marine industry stakeholders in Canada and the U.S.
"Our industry can improve its competitive position by increased icebreaker resources to critical regions of the Great Lakes," said Rick Ruzzin in a news release. Ruzzin is an executive with Compass Minerals, a Kansas-based company with operations in Duluth, and a member of the Chamber of Marine Commerce.
All of this has been music to the carriers' ears.
"We have to recognize that we have to move cargo in the ice season," Nekvasil said. "The mines want a navigation season from mid-March well into January. That's just what's required."
The Soo Locks in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., at the eastern end of Lake Superior, close annually on Jan. 15 and reopen March 25. In the weeks before and after those dates, "we can move as much as 20 percent" of overall cargo, Nekvasil said. "We need to minimize stockpiles. (Iron ore) pellets sitting on the ground is a cost we need to minimize."
Nekvasil said there are nine U.S. Coast Guard icebreaking vessels on the Great Lakes, including the Mackinaw, twin 225-foot cutters — including the Duluth-based cutter Alder — and six 140-foot icebreaking tugs.
"The 225s are really buoy tenders with their bows reinforced," Nekvasil said. "They're not designed to do icebreaking; they're OK for track maintenance, but not good for doing heavy icebreaking."
The tugs, he said, "do a very good job," but were built in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
"It's time for them to be modernized," Nekvasil said. Currently, the tugs are undergoing modernization on a one-in, one-out rotation, leaving the fleet down a tug throughout what figures to be a three- to five-year update process, Nekvasil said.
The drumbeat for another heavy icebreaker like the 240-foot Mackinaw started during the winter of 2013-14, when the Great Lakes were as much as 92.6 percent covered in ice. Ice out that year on Lake Superior wasn't declared until June 6.
"The need is obvious," Nekvasil said, "and they have gotten the message."
Duluth News Tribune
Phoenix Sun saga ends as long-stranded boat set to leave Sorel
5/23 - Sorel, Que. – After two and a half years, the Phoenix Sun will finally be leaving the port of Sorel-Tracy, after being authorized by Transport Canada Saturday to leave the downtown dock.
People in the City of Sorel-Tracy are so pleased about the ship's impending departure, they're popping champagne on the dock as a celebration. "It's a story that ends well," said mayor Serge Péloquin, adding that it "could've turned into a tragedy."
The exact day and time the ship will sail is not presently known.
The rusted 186-metre freighter has been docked at Sorel-Tracy since Nov. 2012, and residents had initiated a petition to have it removed.
A Montreal company oversaw the boat's repair. In 2014, the company Holborn Shipping bought the ship for $682,500. The ship is now headed to Dubai, where it will undergo major repairs and be renamed as "Phoenix."
A dozen sailors from Turkey were safely sent home after they were not paid for two months and ran out of food.
Ontario-based company Menpas Shipping flew the men from Turkey to repair the ship and sail it overseas for dismantling. But the sailors said they stopped getting paid in July, a claim refuted by the company. People in Sorel raised $10,000 to help the sailors go home.
CBC News, Mac Mackay
Canadian Miner removal process prevented possible catastrophe
5/23 - Main-A-Dieu – Nova Scotia Transportation Minister Geoff MacLellan says the removal of the former laker Canadian Miner has prevented a possible environmental crisis.
MacLellan, who is also the Glace Bay MLA, said the removal process uncovered an oil leak last Sunday, but protective measures in place by contractor RJ MacIsaac Construction resulted in only a trace amount getting into the water.
"If we hadn't of been out there with this contract this would have eventually been into the waterway, onto the protected beach, into the lobster traps — this would have been an environmental crisis like we haven't seen in a long time."
MacLellan said three engines were already removed and this was the final engine. "They cut a piece and under this piece they removed there was a pipe and there was oil seeping out of this pipe.”
MacLellan said when lifting the piece to look deeper and get into the engine, 800 litres of oil was discovered in the tank. He said the oil was pulled out of the engine and into a holding tank.
Sean Howard, spokesman for the Main-ŕ-Dieu Community Development Association, said news of the leak sparked major concerns in the community.
“We were just trying to settle into the fishing season.” Howard said the annual blessing of the fleet ceremony was held Sunday. “We had a beautiful powerful ceremony as we always do, and at the same time so close to us — not that we knew it at the time — oil was leaking from the Miner. The blessing of the fleet was very nearly cursed from the wreck.”
MacLellan said once the engine is removed there will be a final scan of the debris field, which includes 1,000 metres from where the vessel was.
"That's done by scuba divers and by robotics to check the ocean floor and the coastline to check for any debris that would have been remaining."
The last task will be removing the heavy equipment and scrap metal off Scatarie Island. He said the contractor will work closely with the community group to ensure the fishery is not disrupted.
Lake Superior beach made up of ore leftovers opens to public
5/23 - Silver Bay, Minn. – A Minnesota beach on Lake Superior that's made up of leftovers from the ore-mining process is officially opening to the public.
WDIO-TV reports the Silver Bay beach known as Black Beach for its color was already a popular spot for locals and tourists, but it was on private land. The mine owner added more "no trespassing" signs last summer and enforced them.
The mine owner and local officials worked together, and the state and the city of Silver Bay now lease the land. The TV station reports the public opening is effective Friday. The city also got a grant to help plan a new campground at the site.
The beach consists of taconite tailings, which are what's left when the ore is extracted.
Seaway to receive international award for hands-free mooring system
5/23 - Cornwall, Ont. – The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SLSMC) has announced that it will receive a award from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) for developing the world’s first Hands-Free Mooring (HFM) system for ships transiting its locks.
The Promising Innovation in Transport Award is offered by the International Transport Forum at the OECD, an intergovernmental organization for the transport sector, with 54 member countries.
It will be presented on May 28th in Leipzig, Germany, during the 2015 Summit of Transport Ministers.
The SLSMC will receive the award in the freight category for its pioneering work, with the aid of its supplier Cavotec. The St. Lawrence Seaway’s 15 locks serve to lift ships a total of 168 meters (551 feet) as they transit from Montreal to Lake Erie. The HFM system employs vacuum pads mounted on vertical rails to secure the ship during the lockage process, tracking the ship as it is raised or lowered, while keeping it at a fixed distance from the lock wall.
With this equipment, the SLSMC will replace the traditional practice of manually securing cargo ships in locks with steel mooring lines, which is time consuming, labour intensive and potentially dangerous if a line breaks. This revised method of processing ships enables the SLSMC to orchestrate gains in operating efficiency and safety.
Full deployment of HFM at all high-lift locks is slated to be complete in 2018.
St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation Chamber urges celebration, policy reform on National Maritime Day Ottawa, Ont. – The Chamber of Marine Commerce joins governments, policymakers, industry and the general public in celebrating the nation’s merchant marine industry, but also urges reforms to ensure greater industrial competitiveness, jobs and prosperity.
U.S. commercial shipping is a critical economic driver with a recent study from Martin Associates estimating that port-related activity contributed $4.6 trillion to the American economy and supported 23 million jobs in 2014.
As the nation’s economy strives to accelerate, these numbers can continue to grow as companies, manufacturers, farmers and miners seek to cost-effectively ship materials and products across North American borders and to markets further afield.
Notable policy changes that can foster this growth include:
• Putting in place protective, yet practical and harmonized ballast water regulations;
The Chamber of Marine Commerce is a bi-national association that represents more than 150 marine industry stakeholders including major Canadian and American shippers, ports, terminals and marine service providers, as well as domestic and international shipowners. The Chamber represents the interests of its members by addressing government issues affecting marine transportation. Advocacy extends to federal, state/provincial and municipal levels of government.
Chamber of Marine Commerce
Lookback #552 – Andora aground while outbound in the Seaway on May 23, 1959
5/23 - The St. Lawrence Seaway had been open for less than a month when the Liberian flag freighter Andora went aground 56 years ago today.
Andora was outbound with barley when it got stuck on shoal below the Snell Lock. The ship initially broke free, spun around and grounded again near Reynolds Aluminum close to the bridge to Cornwall, ON. Traffic was held up for 7 hours and 24 ships were delayed.
The tugs Robinson Bay and Luis II made an initial attempt to dislodge the hull and the vessels Norco and Elisabeth Hendrik Fisser were allowed to pass down hoping that the wave action would dislodge the ship. It did not but navigation was permitted to resume.
Andora was eventually lightered and released on June 18 and it was deemed a total loss. Following a sale to Italian shipbreakers, the ship arrived Savona, on Aug. 15, 1959, and was broken up.
This was one of the North Sands general cargo ships of World War Two. It was built at Montreal as a) Fort Wayne in 1945 and the 441 foot, 6 inch long freighter initially served the Canadian Government until sold to private interests as b) Angusdale in 1950. Beginning in 1954, it worked as c) Cape Adan, British flag, before acquiring the final name of d) Andora in 1956.
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 five sailors survived while another 16 were lost.
1954: 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
St. Marys River
Alpena, Mich. – Ben & Chanda McClain
Erie, Pa. – Gene P.
New vessel on charter for Desgagnes fleet
5/22 - Transport Desgagnes have chartered the general cargo ship Nordana Sky. It was registered in Quebec City May 20.
The ship is almost brand new, having been delivered in March 2015 by the builders, Ferus Smit, to owners Symphony Shipping BV of the Netherlands. Although it was built as Symphony Sky, it was named Nordana Sky on delivery and has been operating for Nordana, a Danish shipping company.
The ship measures 6749 grt and 10,600 deadweight, has one hold and one hatch, and is fitted with two 85 tonne cranes that can work in tandem for a 170 tonne lift. The ship is distinctive because it has its superstructure forward laker style, and only a funnel aft.
Rosaire Desgagne, Sedna Desgagnes and Zelada Desganes have all been working for Nordana, and Sedna Desgagnes has also just been returned to Canadian flag for summer work in northern supply.
Great Lakes museum marks National Maritime Day with discounted admission
5/22 - Toledo, Ohio – The National Museum of the Great Lakes announced that it will offer discounted admission to the museum and Col. James M. Schoonmaker Museum Ship on Friday to commemorate National Maritime Day.
Visitors to the National Museum of the Great Lakes who purchase a regular museum only admission price will receive free admission to board the Col. James M. Schoonmaker Museum Ship – a savings of $4 per person. Additionally, each person, couple or family will receive one complimentary signed and numbered lithographic print by marine artist James Clary.
National Maritime Day was established in 1933 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and has been celebrated every year since with a presidential proclamation. Christopher Gillcrist, Executive Director of the National Museum of the Great Lakes stated that the objective of National Maritime Day is to raise awareness of the important role maritime life has played in the historic development of this country.
National Museum of the Great Lakes
Lookback #551 – Borgholm suffered an explosion and fire on May 22, 1978
5/22 - The Swedish freighter Borgholm had a long connection to the Great Lakes. It was built at Landskrona, Sweden, and completed on Dec. 29, 1951, for the Swedish-America Lines.
The 258 foot long by 42 foot wide cargo vessel was an excellent fit in the old St. Lawrence locks west of Montreal and Borgholm began Great Lakes trading in 1953 with two trips inland.
It was back as a regular caller in the Seaway era and benefited from being lengthened to 303 feet long in 1960. It could now carry 3600 tons deadweight and came inland every year through 1967 with a total of 21 trips.
After being sold to Greek interests in 1968, the ship passed through the Seaway again in 1968 as b) Agios Nicolaos. Several different Greek flag owners are listed in the next ten years before the ship was wrecked.
Agios Nicolaos suffered an explosion in the engineroom on May 22, 1978, while crossing the Persian Gulf about 60 miles north of Bahrain. A serious fire ensued as the ship was on a voyage from Marina de Carrara, Italy, to Kuwait, with general cargo 37 years ago today.
The vessel was towed to Kuwait and abandoned as a total loss. It was sold for scrap and broken up.
Updates - May 22
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.
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.
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
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 engine room. 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.
Spring water levels of Lake Huron highest since 1998
5/21 - The news continues to be positive on the water levels front for Lake Huron—a far cry from this time only a few short years ago.
The Manitoulin Expositor spoke with Environment Canada’s Derrick Beach last Friday who reminded this newspaper that the Lake Huron water levels came back to average levels after a time of record lows in September 2014 and have risen ever since. An unseasonably cool and wet summer last year started the rise, which didn’t stop – Lake Huron skipped its usual seasonal decline, which, on average, begins in July.
There were some slight dips in levels this winter, Mr. Beach explained, but levels have been back on the rise since March, slightly slower than average but above the period of recorded data (96 years) nonetheless. “The cold winter seemed to have kept water levels more or less stable,” he said. “This really sets us up nicely to continue (the rise) right through the summer.” (The period between January 2014 and December 2014 saw the largest rise in levels for Lake Huron in 96 years; the water rose 96 centimetres in that period of time.)
In April, water levels sat 46 centimetres higher than in April of 2014, 15 centimetres higher than the 96-year average.
This has been a largely dry spring, which is also reflected in the numbers, Mr. Beach explained. “The increases we’re seeing now are slightly below average, especially compared to last year.” (Last year saw a high spring runoff coupled, due to plenty of winter snow and ice, with a rainy spring to make levels rise dramatically.) As of Friday, the lake continues to rise, but is still slightly below the average climb for this time of year, he added.
However, even if Lake Huron faced an extremely dry summer, “dry levels still wouldn’t pull it down below average,” Mr. Beach observed.
If Lake Huron sees an average amount of summer precipitation this year, Mr. Beach anticipates Lake Huron could see water levels rise between 20 and 30 centimetres above last year’s numbers.
“Even with dry weather, we’re still looking pretty good,” he reiterated.
The last time Lake Huron reached above-average levels for its monthly comparisons, as was the case in April and now, likely, May, was in December of 1998.
New USACE Soo Lock bulkheads fabricated by Moran Iron Works
5/21 - Onaway, Mich. –Moran Iron Works, Inc. was contracted to fabricate, galvanize, and deliver two bulkheads for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Detroit District for installation in the Soo Lock complex located in Sault Sainte Marine, Michigan.
The bulkheads are used when dewatering the locks to enable a safe work environment for maintenance and repairs to be performed during the annual lock closure each winter.
Fabrication was completed on time, and delivery took place in May 2015 to accommodate an expedited turnaround requirement. The bulkheads will be installed in the locks in early June 2015.
The bulkheads are replacing those that were originally installed in the Davis Lock and the Sabin Lock drain tunnels in 1914 and 1919, respectively. The newly fabricated bulkheads are intended to meet a 50-year life expectancy.
Moran Iron Works
Port Reports - May 21
Owen Sound, Ont. – Paul Martin
Great Lakes surprisingly warm for springtime
5/21 - The surface water temperatures on the Great Lakes have warmed up significantly in the past few weeks. They are now much warmer than this time last year, and even warmer than the 20-year average.
On May 17, Lake Superior had an average surface water temperature of 37.7 degrees. This is 2.5 degrees warmer than May 17, 2014 and 0.8 degrees warmer than the 20-year average. Lake Michigan had an average temperature of 42 degrees May 17, 2015. This is 3.1 degrees warmer than last year and right at the long-term average. Lake Huron is up to 40.9 degrees, which is almost 2 degrees warmer than last year at this time. Lake Erie has warmed up to a lake-wide average of 53.1 degrees, over four degrees warmer than last year and 2.5 degrees above the long-term average. Lake Ontario is almost 5 degrees warmer than this time last year.
The warmer lake temperatures will have a bearing on Michigan's summer. When water temperatures are cold, a cold cycle develops. The cold water keeps the air cold, and in turn allows cold air from Canada to more easily move into Michigan. Last summer's chill was a classic example of this cycle.
Already this late spring the temperature pattern is acting somewhat different from last year. We have had an easier time warming up already this month. The abnormally cold pocket of air in Canada that has been dominating our Michigan weather is still there. The cold pocket isn't as abnormally cold as in the past 18 months, and doesn't seem to be sliding down into Michigan as easily.
So, in all, I think this means this summer will not be as chilly as last summer. I do think the cold pocket up north will occasionally park itself over Michigan this summer, leading to a few days in a row of cool weather.
And if the Great Lakes continue to warm, next winter will have a tougher time being extremely cold.
M Live, Mark Torregrossa
Lookback #550 – Ferdinand Schlesinger sank in Lake Superior on May 21, 1932
The wooden bulk carrier Ferdinand Schlesinger was built at Milwaukee, Wis., and completed in 1891.
The 320 foot long by 43'4” inch wide freighter had loaded 3,514 tons of coal at Erie, Pa., for Port Arthur, Ont. (now part of Thunder Bay) when it ran into foul weather out on Lake Superior.
The 28-year -old wooden hull began leaking in the wind and waves and eventually sank about 15 miles off Passage Island Light 83 years ago today. All on board were saved. They were picked up by the crew of the Assiniboia.
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.
AMERICAN REPUBLIC's maiden voyage was on May 21, 1981, from Sturgeon Bay light to Escanaba, Michigan, to load ore pellets for Cleveland, Ohio. She now sails as GREAT REPUBLIC.
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.
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 - 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, Ont., 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 torpedoed 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 engine room 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.
Heavy ice weighs down U.S.-flag cargo total on lakes in April
5/20 - Cleveland, Ohio – U.S.-flag Great Lakes freighters moved 6.7 million tons of dry-bulk cargo on the Great Lakes in April, a decrease of nearly 6 percent when compared to the month’s 5-year average. Another brutal winter again spawned heavy ice formations lakeswide that slowed the vessels that were put into service and delayed others’ sail date.
With five of the six U.S. iron ore loading ports on Lake Superior, it follows that the iron ore trade was most affected by the ice fields. Shipments totaled 3.4 million tons, a decrease of 10 percent compared to the month’s 5-year average. The ice in Whitefish Bay at the eastern end of Lake Superior was particularly daunting and many vessels bound for Duluth/Superior, Two Harbors, Silver Bay and Marquette had to wait until U.S. and Canadian icebreakers could lead them through the ice field.
Coal cargos in U.S.-flag lakers totaled 1.3 million tons in April, a decrease of 8 percent compared to a year ago. Shipments of limestone nearly equaled their 5-year average.
It must be noted, however, that the anemic cargo totals recorded in April 2014 distort the 5-year average. If April 2014 is discounted, cargo totals are substantially below their long-term average. Iron ore and coal are 20 percent below their average for the years 2010-2013. Limestone lags its 2010-2013 average by 6 percent.
The House of Representatives has addressed the clear need for more U.S. Coast Guard icebreaking resources on the Great Lakes. The Coast Guard Authorization Act (H.R. 1987) passed recently includes a provision authored by Rep. Candice Miller (R-MI) that directs the Coast Guard to design and build a new, multi-mission icebreaker to strengthen its capabilities on the Lakes. The next step is for the Senate to approve a Coast Guard Authorization Act.
Lake Carriers’ Asssociation
Port Reports - May 20
Suttons Bay, Mich. – Al Miller
Thunder Bay, Ont.
Lorain, Ohio – Phil Leon
Toronto, Ont. – Jens Juhl
Help wanted: S.S. Badger
Lake Michigan Carferry is accepting applications for immediate placement in the engine department aboard the historic S.S. Badger. Candidates must possess a valid MMC with QMED endorsement and a valid TWIC card. Position will be for 2015 sailing season from May to Oct and offer competitive wages. Visit our web site at www.ssbadger.com/contact-us/join-the-badger-crew.html to obtain a printable LMC application. Email to email@example.com or fax to 231-843-4558 For more information contact Laurie at 231-843-7223.
Lookback #549 – Former Filleigh wrecked on May 20, 1978
The British freighter Filleigh was only two years old when it came to the Great Lakes for the first time in 1959. The 460 foot long by 60 foot, 3 inch wide general cargo carrier made three trips through the Seaway during its inaugural year of operation but does not appear to have returned.
The vessel was sold and 1960, resold in 1963 and headed south for service under the flag of Peru as b) Ucayala on the latter occasion. Another sale in 1969 brought the final name of c) Anna Maria S. and this continued in service until it was wrecked 37 years ago today.
The vessel was on a voyage from Gdynia, Poland, to Tripoli when it ran aground about 15 miles southwest of Bornholm, Denmark, on May 20, 1978. The ship was refloated on May 29 and arrived at Kiel, West Germany, the following day for survey.
The news was not good as Anna Maris S. was declared a total loss and sold for scrap. It departed Kiel for Hamburg on Sept. 7, 1978, and was broken up at the latter location by Eckhardt & Co.
Today in Great Lakes History - May 20
On 20 May 1872, the ironclad 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 – 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 – 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.
Grain graders gauge quality
5/19 - Superior, Wis. – Wheat gushed from metal chutes connecting giant concrete elevators to the ship's hold as workers wearing goggles and hard hats leveled the great mounds of golden kernels destined — in one form or another — for dinner plates in Italy.
As 765,000 bushels of wheat poured into the ship, a tiny portion was diverted to a nondescript building at the port of Superior where Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection employees inspected the valuable commodity.
Grown on the North Dakota and Canadian prairies, the wheat had been shipped by rail to Superior, where it was loaded into grain elevators while waiting for a ride across the Great Lakes, St. Lawrence Seaway and Atlantic Ocean. Before grain leaves the Wisconsin port, though, it's first tested to make sure it's top quality.
And that decision is up to the 11 Wisconsin grain inspectors.
"We ensure that both the buyer and seller are getting an independent quality check of the grain," said Greg Ukkola, manager of the Grain Inspection Service for Wisconsin DATCP.
It's a task that affects commodities valued at millions of dollars flowing through the port. This year's season started April 15 when the first ship arrived in Superior.
Wisconsin grain inspectors travel by boat to the large oceangoing vessels that line up in the Superior port waiting to fill up cargo holds. They check holds for rust, standing water, insects and cracks that can allow grain to spill out. If a ship doesn't pass muster — which seldom happens — it must be cleaned or repaired and re-inspected before it's allowed to load grain.
Meanwhile, inspectors and a dozen employees who work from spring through the fall harvest check every shipment for bugs, stones and other impurities as well as grade the grain for quality. Grade determines price.
"It takes many years before someone is allowed to grade grain," said Ukkola.
Wisconsin inspectors handle grain for both the Superior and Duluth, Minn., sides of the port, where each side has three massive export grain elevators. In the 2014 shipping season a total of 1,303,437 tons of grain moved through the port, with all but 190,000 tons heading overseas. That's down slightly from 1,319,996 tons of grain in 2013 but an increase from 2012 when 1,065,348 tons of grain were handled.
Grain is a small percentage of the cargo passing through Duluth-Superior. Iron ore and coal — about 30 million tons last year — account for the majority of commodities.
Wisconsin grain inspectors have an impeccable reputation, said Ron Johnson, trade development director for the Duluth Seaway Port Authority.
"There are a number of countries that supply the world with grain, and you want to protect the reputation of your exports," said Johnson. "One of the things buyers are worried about is if the grain is inspected to No. 1 or No. 2 grade, that it needs to be that when it gets to their facility."
Testing a load As grain poured through the chutes on a recent day, every 30 seconds a mechanical sampler cut across the stream diverting a small portion into the inspection building where it flowed into buckets. That's done to evenly test a load of thousands of bushels.
Moisture is checked. Protein levels are evaluated. A Falling Number test determines if a grain kernel has sprouted, which means a change in enzyme. The more vitreous — or glassy appearance — the higher the quality and price.
In a room in another building near the port, Dave Martin used large tweezers, a scale and his eyes to ogle a batch of durum wheat from North Dakota.
"I'm looking at the color, ones without white spots," Martin said, holding up a tiny grain. "I'm also looking for damage, stones, bugs."
Martin has worked for the Wisconsin grain inspection service since 1974. He admits it can get a bit tedious looking at individual grains all day, especially at the peak of the season when shippers are trying to move their grain quickly through the port.
But despite looking at grain throughout his work shift, Martin occasionally dines on pasta for supper.
"I still eat it after seeing it all day," said Martin.
On a wall across from Martin's workstation is a large color poster of grain-loving pests, including the granary weevil, saw-toothed grain beetle and lesser grain borer. According to state and federal regulations, only one bug is allowed per 10,000 bushels of grain. Any more than that and inspectors will not give the load a passing grade, and without the inspection certificate, sellers cannot deliver their grain to buyers.
Grain sellers can appeal inspectors' decisions, which is why half of each 8-pound sample is stored in cloth bags for further testing if required. Inspecting grain from a 110-car train can take up to four hours until the inspection certificate is issued. Grain left over from testing is put back into the shipment.
About 95% of grain handled by Wisconsin inspectors is wheat, with the majority headed to Europe and northern Africa, said Ukkola. Several years ago a lot of corn and soybeans flowed through the port of Superior but much of the corn is now diverted for ethanol production with soybeans shipped down the Mississippi River.
Spring is busy with grain stored during the winter getting loaded onto ships. It's grain that either arrived too late for shipping last season or because sellers wanted to wait until prices improved. This spring, elevators on the Superior side held 375,000 tons, mostly spring wheat, said Superior Terminal manager Richard Carlson.
There's usually a lull in the middle of the summer after elevators are emptied and before the harvest comes in. Then it picks up again in the fall as shippers try to get their product out before winter ices up Lake Superior and inspectors are back at work grading and testing every shipment.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Port Reports - May 19
As soon as the Callaway tied up at the Calumet fuel depot at the Duluth Port Terminal, the oceangoing vessel Houston let go lines at Port Terminal #1 and made a speedy exit from the harbor. Houston met starboard to starboard with the inbound Indiana Harbor, which kept south of the usual approach to the entry until the Houston passed. Indiana Harbor coasted into the Duluth harbor basin and then held position there until the Callaway finished her relatively quick stop at Calumet Fuel. Callaway then proceeded up to Hallet and Indiana Harbor took her turn at the fuel dock before loading at Midwest Energy in Superior. Out on Lake Superior the Houston, sailing at over fourteen knots in ballast, quickly overtook the Olympic as both headed downlake.
The Wilmington, DE registered Houston had spent the past several days unloading what was reported to be a relatively large cargo of structural steel, which possibly came from India or another location around the Indian Ocean basin. Houston's visit as a U.S.-flagged saltie was a rare one for Duluth-Superior. She's carried a U.S. registry for around the last five years, also under the name BBC Houston. Before that she sailed as the BBC Australia, registered in St. John's Antigua & Barbuda, a common flag for vessels with ties to the German shipping industry.
The tug Zues and barge Deegan arrived the Superior entry shortly after the flurry of activity at Duluth subsided. The pair were headed for Hallett #8 to discharge calcium chloride solution. On their way in they passed the Burns Harbor, loading during one of her regular visits to the BNSF ore dock in Superior. The Callaway is scheduled to load there early Tuesday morning after the Burns Harbor clears.
Toronto, Ont. – Jens Juhl
National Museum of the Great Lakes offers Cleveland river tour
5/19 - Cleveland, Ohio – The National Museum of the Great Lakes will hold its first "Museum on the Move" program in Cleveland on May 23, featuring a visit by the USS Brig Niagara, and a tour of the Cuyahoga River and the Great Lakes Towing shipyard.
Christopher Gillcrist, executive director of the Toledo-based museum, said the program was established to "bring our programming directly the people," and similar visits could be made to Buffalo, Chicago and other Great Lakes ports in the future.
The Cleveland event will feature a 10 a.m. reception aboard the Niagara, a reconstruction of the flagship that Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry sailed during the Battle of Lake Erie in the War of 1812.
The Cuyahoga River tour will be offered aboard a smaller ship, the Holiday, taking guests to the last navigable mile of the river. Sites visited along the way will include the location of the infamous 1969 Cuyahoga River fire, the old entrance of the Ohio and Erie Canal, the place where John D. Rockefeller built his first refinery, and assorted bridges.
Cost of the program, which includes a light lunch aboard the Holiday, is $65 for museum members and $100 for nonmembers. The event ends around 3:30 p.m. For additional information or reservations, call the museum at (419) 214-5000.
French tourists aboard a luxury cruise stop in Clayton for a day
5/19 - Clayton, N.Y., welcomed a slew of new visitors last week. A luxury cruise ship on its maiden voyage from Montreal stopped at the town’s docks. The ship was filled with nearly 200 tourists from France. Most on board were seeing the Thousand Islands for the first time.
The motor vessel Saint Laurent sailed down the St. Lawrence River and came to rest in Clayton around 9 on Thursday morning. The ship is an eye-catcher, docked in the center of the village; its royal blue hull contrasted with the colorful row of Adirondack chairs that faced the river.
Milie Anderson and her husband stopped to take pictures. “It’s beautiful, just beautiful. We stay in Cape Vincent for the summer and when the boats are here we always come up and see them. That’s the biggest one I can remember though,” Anderson said. The St. Laurent is relatively small compared to the ships that cruise through the Caribbean, but it is the biggest to stop in Clayton.
Gene Howard lives in the village all year. He watched as people emerged from the boat and stood in line to clear customs. “Look at the people who are getting off. They are going to spend money here. My taxes are going to go way down,” Howard said.
As the tourists filled the sidewalks, cameras slung over their shoulders, cars slowed down. One guy stopped his truck and yelled from his window. "Where are they from?" he asked. Someone replied, "The people are from France. The ship is from Montreal." The man in the truck said, "Wonderful. Welcome to Clayton.”
Bertrand Figuier is a travel writer who lives in Paris. He said most of the people on the ship work in the travel industry in France and are in some way connected to the company that operates the cruise. “And they came to visit and taste the first cruise on the St. Laurent,” Figuier said.
He said it was breathtaking when they entered the Thousand Islands. “Extra, great, far out. No really. It was really surprising. I think it will be surprising for all French. They can’t imagine what they can see in this place. The islands, the house, the lights. This morning coming in with the boat. It was just far out. Superb.”
Ingard Fillette waited for lunch at the Clayton hotel. “We took a little boat to the see the islands. The mille islands. No, Thousands Islands. Mille is in French,” Fillette said. She closed her eyes and nodded her head when she thought back on her tour of Boldt Castle. “Oh, magnifique, magnifique.”
The village of Clayton scrambled to prepare a list of activities for the ship’s passengers. News that the cruise would stop there was only made official in April. The ship is scheduled to stop in Clayton 10 more times throughout the season. It’s a big economic boost to the village that relies on summer tourism to keep it afloat during the long winters.
At the Antique Boat Museum, Margret Hummel strapped wristbands onto a handful of passengers as they got off a bus. She said just like for every business in the village, every extra bit of attention helps. “You know, 10 stops and with 140 passengers at every stop, that’s a lot of visitors who are guaranteed in a season,” Hummel said.
Businesses downtown said the French tourists shopped in the day and a half the ship was docked. They even made a visit to the local cheese shop, River Rat Cheese where Fran Voght worked behind the counter. “Most of the people that we got from the cruise ship were interested in the honey. They were all parle-vousing Francaise. I was able to use the little that I learned in high school to talk with them. One of the even called me madame,” Voght said.
Local Gene Howard stayed at the dock and chatted with people who stopped and marveled at the ship. “The people who live here enjoy it. Whatever comes into this village rubs off on me. It doesn’t put money in my pocket but ya’ know, Clayton will take anything. Help keep Clayton green, bring money. Right?" Howard said.
The Saint Laurent Laurent’s final stop in Clayton will be October 10. Between then and now, more than 1,000 new visitors will tour the village of Clayton and the Thousand Islands.
North Country Public Radio
Lookback #548 – Former Zinnia arrived at the scrapyard in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, on May 19 1965
The Zinnia came to the Great Lakes beginning in 1959 under the banner of the British fleet Stag Line. It made six trips inland through the 1963 season and spent its final years strictly on saltwater.
This 441 foot, 6 inch long vessel was built at Vancouver, B.C., and completed at Portland Bill on Oct. 31, 1945. By then World War Two was over but the ship went to work for the British Admiralty as a maintenance and repair ship.
It was sold to the Stag Line, a well-known and highly regarded British fleet, for 61,700 pounds in April 1951 and rebuilt as the bulk carrier Zinnia. It resumed service in the new capacity on June 18, 1951.
While most of its service was uneventful, the ship hit bottom while outbound on the Mission River at the Canadian Lakehead in May 1963. A hole was punched in the hull but it was repaired and made one last trip inland later in the year.
Zinnia was resold for $63,500 pounds and came under Liberian registry as Chrysopolis in 1964. It finished the year and saw brief service in 1965 before arriving at the scrapyard at Kaohsiung, Taiwan, 50 years ago today.
Updates - May 19
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 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 was 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 McDougall, 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.
Data from: Joe Barr, Dave Swayze, Father Dowling Collection, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series.
5/18 - 8 a.m. update - The Groupe Ocean tugs Ocean Ross Gaudrault and Ocean Pierre Julien pulled the Algoma Spirit off Cornwall Island and took her down to the anchorage at St. Zotique last night. The Seaway opened soon afterwards and the ships are moving up and down the river.
Original Report - Algoma Spirit, which lost power, blacked out, and went hard aground on the south side of Cornwall Island on Saturday, remained there on Sunday. The tug Ocean Ross Gaudreault was assisting, with another tug expected.
Canadians building new freighters for Great Lakes trade
5/18 - Port Huron, Mich. – It's a good time to be a freighter watcher. Seven new freighters have entered the Great Lakes trade since 2012. Another ship has been launched and is fitting out; four more are being built; and two more are on order.
They all have a couple of things in common: They're Canadian ships, and they were built overseas. Such numbers of new freighters haven't been seen on the Great Lakes in years, said shipping experts.
"The current building boom of lake freighters, especially on the Canadian side, is unprecedented since the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway in 1959," Skip Gillham, who has written the "On the Lakes" column in the Times Herald for 43 years, wrote in an email. "That led to numerous lakers being built, and in some cases deep sea tankers being rebuilt, to serve in the bulk trades.
"This construction boom went from 1959 until the end of the 1960s before it slowed down through the 1970s. During the 1970s the U.S. side owners began investing in the thousand-footers, and I think 12 or 13 of them were built."
Roger LeLievre, editor and publisher of guidebook, "Know Your Ships," said Algoma Central Corp. and Canada Steamship Lines are ordering new freighters. "It's quite a rebuilding, fleet renewal program, on the Canadian side with those two companies," he said.
Why new freighters and why now?
A change in Canadian law helped spark the shipbuilding boom, LeLievre said. "A few years ago, Canada repealed its tax on building ships overseas," he said. "That, combined with not having any major shipyards on the Great Lakes in Canada, drove shipbuilding overseas."
He said he has been told that shipping lines can have three ships built in China or other countries for what it would cost to have one built in Canada.
"Canadian shipyards are virtually closed," Gillham said. "The ones in Collingwood, Midland and St. Catharines no longer exist. The one in Thunder Bay may still serve as a repair facility.
"They turn to China and Croatia, which allow ships to be built at a competitive market price, and sail them to the Great Lakes for service.
Debbie Murray, director of policy and regulatory for the Canadian Shipowners Association, said the government lifted an import duty of 25 percent in 2011.
"We couldn't afford to build ships here No. 1, and then No. 2, the government is looking to use shipbuilding capacity for navy vessels and Canadian Coast Guard vessels," she said.
"The bottom line was the import duty was lifted," she said. "That generated considerable investment by our membership."
She said the new freighters represent an investment of about $1 billion.
While most of the new freighters have been built — or are being built — in China, Algoma Central recently broke that mold. The company signed contracts with a shipyard in Croatia to build two new 650-foot, self-unloading freighters that are expected to be put into service on the Great Lakes in 2017.
Algoma Central owns two of the new freighters on the Great Lakes and operates a third for the Canadian Wheat Board — the Algoma Equinox, built in 2013 and the Algoma Harvester, built in 2014; and the CWB Marquis, also built in 2014. All three ships are 740 feet — the longest vessels that can fit through the St. Lawrence Seaway locks — were built in China and are members of what Algoma calls its Equinox class.
The CWB Strongfield, said Wayne Smith, Algoma senior vice president, has been launched and is fitting out. "These are the first four Equinox Class ships and they are all gearless bulkers," Smith said in an email. A gearless bulker carries bulk cargo such as grain and ore and is built without the large cranes and conveyors of a self-unloader.
Smith said Algoma Central worked with the Croatian shipyard 3.Maj Brodogradiliste which built the Algoma Spririt in 1986 and the Algoma Discovery and the Algoma Guardian in 1987. The three ships are 729 feet long and are bulk carriers.
"It has a long history of building high quality ships, and we have every confidence in the yard," he said.
In addition to the two new freighters to be built in Croatia, the company has four ships on order that are being built in China: The Algoma Conveyor, the Algoma Niagara, the Algoma Sault and a hull that has not yet been named. They all are 740 feet long.
"These are the Equinox Class self-unloaders Algoma has ordered," Smith said. "They are not delivered yet. The Conveyor is the most advanced as its hull is being formed at the shipyard. The other two named ships are at the block construction phase."
The Canada Steamship Lines has in service the Baie St. Paul, built in 2012; the Baie Comeau, the Thunder Bay and the Whitefish Bay, all built in 2013; and the CSL St-Laurent, and the CSL Welland, built in 2014.
The Baie St. Paul, Baie Comeau, Thunder Bay and Whitefish Bay are 739 feet, 10 inches long and are self-unloaders; the CSL St.-Laurent and CSL Welland are the same length and and bulk carriers. They all were built in China and are members of what CSL calls its Trillium class of freighters.
Why the new ships?
The building boom is partially in response to environmental regulations and the need to increase fuel efficiency, said Frank "Freighter Frank" Frisk at BoatNerd.com in Port Huron. "They couldn't refit the older boats with the equipment that's required," he said. "They opted to have new boats built."
Gillham said both Algoma and Canada Steamship Lines needed to replace their "fleet of 50-year-old freighters.
"They also wanted more efficient ships and more environmentally friendly ships," he said. "The new ones are more automated and need less crew, and that keeps costs down. They also employ the latest pollution reducing technology and are much more fuel efficient."
Smith said the new ships are far more advanced than their older counterparts.
"The ships will have diesel engines that will use heavy marine fuels, but are equipped with integrated exhaust scrubbers, which will remove 97 percent of sulphur oxides from exhaust streams," he said. "With the optimized hull form, larger size and better speed, we expect the ships to be 45 percent more efficient per cargo tonne mile than their predecessors."
A ton-mile is equal one ton of cargo shipped one mile; a tonne is a metric ton, which is about 2,204.6 pounds, roughly equivalent to a U.S. ton of 2,000 pounds.
Do the old freighters pollute?
Most of the vessels on the Great Lakes, LeLievre said, are powered by diesel engines, and some of them have been refitted with pollution-reducing scrubbers.
"Interlake Steamship Co. has put a lot of money into repowering their ships over the years," he said. "Over 90 percent of the ships on the lakes are powered by diesel. They are just now getting into the scrubber technology."
Both he and Frisk said Interlake this winter refitted the Hon. James L. Oberstar, an 806-foot self-unloader built in 1959, with scrubbers.
The Lake Carriers Association, a Cleveland-based group representing the owners of U.S.-flagged vessels, argues freighters are "greener" than trains and trucks.
The group cites a 2009 study by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that found a freighter uses one gallon of fuel to move a ton of cargo 607 miles. A locomotive can move a ton of cargo 202 miles on a gallon of fuel, and a truck can go 59 miles with a ton of cargo.
The study also claims a cargo of 1,000 tons transported by a laker produces 90 percent less carbon dioxide than the same amount moved by truck and 70 percent less than a load moved by a train.
What about the American fleets? The Canadian building boom is not being mirrored on the U.S. side, where most shippers opt to maintain or refit their existing ships.
That's because federal law doesn't allow American shippers to contract with overseas shipyards, LeLievre said.
"The U.S. fleets cannot do that," he said. "In this country we have something called the Jones Act. In order to sail and carry cargo between U.S. ports, the ship has to be built in the U.S. and crewed by U.S. sailors."
Since U.S. carriers can't go overseas to build new ships, they're keeping the ones they have.
"It's so expensive to build a ship that the emphasis over the past couple of years has been to renew and refit the ships on the American side," LeLievre said. "You'll see new engines going in and new technology, such as scrubbers — older ships, but technology constantly being updated."
He said U.S. shipyards include Marinette Marine Corporation in Marinette, Wisconsin, Bay Shipbuilding in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, and Donjon Marine Company Inc. in Erie, Pennsylvania. There also are shipyards in Toledo and Superior, Wisconsin.
Marinette and Bay Shipbuilding both are part of the Fincantieri Marine Group, which is the U.S. subsidiary of the Italian company Fincantieri. The group also includes ACE Marine, which builds response boats for the U.S. Coast Guard.
Marinette built the USS Detroit, a Freedom class combat ship for the U.S. Navy that was launched Oct. 18, 2014.
According to information from the Lake Carriers Association, American vessel operators had planned to spend $75 million preparing the fleet for the 2015 shipping season.
Most of the ships that are being replaced will be scrapped, LeLievre said.
"It is always fun to see new boats come in," he said. "The downside is some of the boats you've seen over the years are going to be cut up for scrap (in Port Colborne, Ontario). They're weeding out their older, less efficient boats and replacing them with new ones."
Smith said Algoma already has started the process. "A number of ships have already been sold for scrap in recent years as we make room for the Equinox Class vessels, including our last steamship, the Algoma Montrealais," he said.
The Algoma Montrealais was truly the end of an era, LeLievre said. It was the last steamer to sail under the Canadian flag in the Great Lakes. Several American shipowners still have freighters powered by steam turbines.
"They're dwindling," he said. "There's a few left, but in a few years they'll probably all be gone."
Port Huron Times Herald
Port Reports - May 18
Grand Haven, Mich. – Dick Fox
Saginaw River – Todd Shorkey
Buffalo, N.Y. – Brian W
Kingston, Ont. – Jens Juhl
Coast Guard stresses importance of free vessel safety checks
5/18 - Cleveland, Ohio – As National Safe Boating Week continues, the Coast Guard 9th District is reminding boaters to get a free vessel safety check from the Coast Guard Auxiliary before going out onto the lakes this boating season.
The Coast Guard Auxiliary is an all-volunteer force that keeps the nation’s waterways safer and more secure by providing vessel safety checks and boating education courses.
The Coast Guard recommends that all recreational boaters, including personal watercraft users and paddlers, take advantage of these free offers. Boaters who have undergone a vessel safety check recently may also find that vessel boardings by Coast Guard boarding officers could be expedited.
“Getting a vessel safety check is the best way of learning about problems that might put you in violation of state or federal laws,” said Mike Baron, the recreational boating safety specialist for the Coast Guard 9th District. “And a boating course will teach you not only how to properly navigate on the lakes, but what to do in emergencies.”
According to the Coast Guard Office of Auxiliary and Boating Safety's 2014 Recreational Boating Statistics, of the 610 deaths across the nation, more than 250 boat operators had not taken a safety class.
Qualified volunteer organizations, such as the Coast Guard Auxiliary, U.S. Power Squadrons, and others sponsor many boating courses and state boating agencies also provide classes.
Boaters should go to http://cgaux.org/vsc/ to schedule vessel safety checks or http://cgaux.org/boatinged/ to find available boating courses nearby.
Boaters can also request safety checks through the new U.S. Coast Guard smartphone app, available to download on the Apple App and Google Play stores. Features of the app include: state boating information; a safety equipment checklist; free boating safety check requests; navigation rules; float plans; and calling features to report pollution or suspicious activity. When location services are enabled, users can receive the latest weather reports from the closest National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather buoys as well as report the location of a hazard on the water.
Lookback #547 – City of Meaford burned at Collingwood on May 18, 1919
Small wooden steamers served around the Great Lakes on a variety of routes in the 19th century and the early part of the 20th century. They carried passengers and freight to communities that lacked the road systems that we are all now accustomed to.
The 199-foot, 3-inch long Seaman was built at Meaford in 1906 and served a number of the Georgian Bay ports. It was renamed City of Meaford in 1908 and operated out of the Canadian National Railway terminal at Meaford.
The ship was docked at Collingwood 96 years ago today when fire broke out. The vessel was destroyed in the blaze of May 18, 1919.
Updates - May 18
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 shipwrecks 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 masters 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: Skip Gillham, Max Hanley, Joe Barr, Dave Swayze, Father Dowling Collection, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series.
Algoma Spirit loses power, grounds in Seaway
5/17 - At 4:15 p.m. Saturday afternoon, Algoma Spirit lost power, blacked out, and went hard aground on the south side of Cornwall Island. She is about a mile below the international bridge that crosses the river from Massena to Cornwall and across the river from light 11 on Raquette Point. The bow is on the river bank and the stern is out in deep water.
Traffic stopped as follows: Lyulin in Snell Lock, Ojibway above Snell Lock, Spartan and Spartan II on the wall above Eisenhower Lock. Algoma Equinox will likely go to anchor at Wilson Hill.
Lookback #546 – The first Yankcanuck ran aground in mud off Whitby on May 17, 1957
Yankcanuck was nearing the end of its service when it got stuck in the mud off Whitby, Ont., on May 17, 1957. The composite-hulled steamer only lasted a few more weeks before being tied up at Sault Ste. Marie at 1014 hours on June 27, 1957, and retired.
The vessel was built at Wyandotte, Mich., in 1889. The ship was designed with iron frames while the upper works were of wood planking. It sailed as Manchester until becoming Jos. W. Simpson in 1921, Mindemoya in 1938 and finally Yankcanuck in 1946.
Originally 296 feet, 1 inch in length, it was shortened to 256 feet, 9 inches for the canal trades about 1922. It served a variety of owners over the years, on both sides of the border, before spending the final years under the banner of the Yankcanuck Steamship Co.
When retired in 1957, this was the last composite hulled freighter on the lakes. The hull was stripped out and then taken to Algoma Steel in June 1959. The vessel was gradually dismantled into 1960 with the old iron frames serving as scrap.
Today in Great Lakes History - May 17
On 17 May 1887, 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.
E.G. GRACE arrived at Ramey's Bend May 17, 1984, in tow of the tugs GLENEVIS and GLENSIDE for scrapping.
On 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 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.
Harsens Island ferry owner wants to end service
5/16 - Clay Township, Mich. – For a second time in three years, the owner of the Harsens Island ferry is seeking to terminate service between the island and Algonac.
The Michigan Public Service Commission announced Thursday it has begun an investigation into the notice of Champion's Auto Ferry Inc.'s "intention to suspend, discontinue or terminate ferry transportation services for the general public sometime after March 5, 2016.
The commission received a letter on March 18 from David Bryson, president and CEO of Champion's, in which he indicated that intention, said Judy Palnau, commission spokeswoman.
Palnau said Bryson and Champion's has 60 days to file a plan indicating his intent. A prehearing with all the parties in the case will be held on July 15 before an administrative law judge. The ferry is important to island residents and business owners such as Kristin Bane, owner of Harsens Island Schoolhouse Grille.
"The government would have to step in some way, there are people who live on this island and obviously they have to get people back and forth," Bane said. "They wouldn't leave an island of people stranded. Something would come into effect. How much chaos would it cause? I am sure quite a bit."
Calls to Champion's and the supervisor of Clay Township in St. Clair County where not returned.
The year-round ferry is the only way visitors and the roughly 1,000 residents can get on or off Harsens Island. The mostly undeveloped island offers waterside living at the foot of the St. Clair River where it dumps into Lake St. Clair.
Under Michigan's Carriers by Water Act, the Public Service Commission regulates the company's operations. But the regulative power soon will be shifted to the Motor Carrier Division of the Michigan State Police, Palnau said.
On Aug. 14, 2012, the commission started an investigation into Champion's intent to terminate service after Bryson indicated he was retiring. "At that time there was a proceeding similar to what was announced Thursday that the commission was starting an investigation and the public needed to know," Palnau said.
On March 8, 2013, the commission approved a $1 increase on most of the scheduled fares which was made effective March 10 of the same year. A portion of the money was to be set aside to hire a manager to facilitate the retirement of the owner to allow for continued operation of the company. A second increase of $1 was also approved to take effect Jan. 1, 2014, and that money was to go to fleet renewal or capital improvements to existing ferries.
"I don't believe that second dollar ever went into effect," Palnau said. "There were concerns at the time about the existing fleet and just making sure there was enough money to deal with ... repairing them."
According to The Blueways of St. Clair web site, Champion's charges $6 per vehicle, $2 for motorcycles and $12 for larger vehicles for a roundtrip.
While no one is expected to work forever, Palnau said, the service between Harsens Island and Algonac must continue somehow. She said Bryson can seek a buyer for his business. In January, Bryson got into a dispute with the commission.
The Times Herald of Port Huron reported the commission ordered Champion's to explain why it failed to provide documentation the commission says the company is required to submit. In a November filing, the commission staff called Champion's "serially noncompliant."
The staff also asked the commission to fine Champion's for failing to provide financial information, reverse its 2013 approval of a $1 rate increase and order Champion's to refund ticket money collected after the $1 rate increase.
Bryson says the commission doesn't have the right to the information it requested
Champion's must publish a notice of investigation and opportunity for the public to comment in a newspaper serving Harsens Island and Algonac by June 1 and to display the notice in a manner that is visible to the public on the company's docks on both sides of the river channel according to the Commission.
Public comments can be sent to the Motor Carrier Division, Michigan State Police, 333 S. Grand Ave., P.O. Box 30634, Lansing, MI 48909-0634.
Port Reports - May 16
Marquette, Mich. – Rod Burdick
Buffalo, N.Y. – Brian W.
Lookback #545 – Former Maria Anna Schulte became a total loss on May 16, 1987
Maria Anna Schulte was built at Emden, West Germany, and completed in December 1957. The 259 foot long by 39 foot wide freighter began Great Lakes trading the following year.
When the Seaway opened in 1959, Maria Anna Schulte waited a year and then was back on the Great Lakes for 13 more visits. It was often on charter to Canadian Pacific and made a total of 18 trips on their account. It was sold and registered in Cyprus as Tehonga in 1970 and then as Byzantine Eagle in 1977.
The name was shortened to Eagle in 1981 and by then the ship was flying the flag of Greece. The last change came in 1984 when the ship was renamed Lucky Virgin and registered in Panama. It did not return through the Seaway under any of these last four names.
Lucky Virgin ran aground off San Andres Island, Colombia, on May 15, 1987. On board was a cargo of empty containers for delivery to Colon, Panama. The ship was abandoned by the owners and declared a total loss.
Updates - May 16
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.
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 was 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.
Port Reports - May 15
Manitowoc, Wis. – Korey G
Oswego, N.Y. – Ned Goebricher
Fishing trawler makes unusual catch of the day
5/15 - Port Dover, Ont. – A piece of nautical history has been lifted from the bottom of Lake Erie. The top-half of a wooden mast — believed to date from the 1800s — was brought up from one of the deepest points of the lake, near Long Point, when it got caught in the net of the fishing trawler Iron Fish last Friday.
It is not known what shipwreck it was attached to, though Iron Fish Captain Glenn Spain says his local diving pals have suspicions it is from a three-mast vessel. But, whatever it was, Michael McAllister of the City of Hamilton — who is co-ordinator of the War of 1812 Hamilton and Scourge shipwrecks in Lake Ontario — says the estimated 23-metre mast section is part of a very large ship.
"At the very least, we could say that," McAllister said Wednesday. "If I'm right, this would be a substantial vessel, for sure. This would be one heck of a big mast. Typically, the top mast is shorter than the bottom."
Spain, 53, was fishing with a two-man crew when the net snagged the mast Friday morning. He says the Iron Fish was about six kilometres east of the tip of Long Point and, the corked-line net was about five metres off the bottom of the lake. Spain said they did not know what they had scooped up.
"The net did not want to come up," he said. "We tried to pull it aboard, but there was no way. There was no way we could lift it anymore."
They headed for home at a reduced speed towing the mystery object and, at one point, the net came to the surface and he could see it. He said it looked like a pipe and he suspected it might have fallen off the barge of a natural gas company. Spain said once he got into harbor, he tied up alongside the east pier and called a friend for help.
"He came up with the little tug boat that he has, with the crane on the barge, and lifted my net up to the point that we could get a better line on it, and get my net off of it, and, lo and behold, it was the head of a mast," he recalled. "It was not what I thought it was. We all kind of went 'holy crap!'"
Spain said, like other fishermen, he has caught everything from trees to a ladder off the side of a freighter, but said the mast is by far the biggest. He has been fishing for about 25 years. Spain believes the mast is "pretty old" because its pulleys and blocks are made of wood and the metal pieces are wrought iron.
There are believed to be hundreds of shipwrecks surrounding Long Point. Some call it "The graveyard of ships."
The mast is now sitting on the east pier and has created a buzz in town. George Gibbons, a fisherman who operates the Pleasant Port Fish Company, said people are coming by to view it and take pictures. He says the mast appears to be in good condition.
"It looks like it sank to the bottom yesterday," said Gibbons, who says he has caught anchors in his nets. "It's a massive piece of wood."
The Crown owns the lake bottom, and therefore shipwrecks. Its future is for the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sports to decide. Angela Wallace, curator of the Port Dover Harbour Museum, is visiting it Thursday with a volunteer to take photos and measurements for the ministry. She calls the discovery "pretty exciting" and says, "It's amazing what gets caught in fishing nets."
Tough times for saltwater shippers as world market contracts
5/15 - How bad is the market for shipping commodities across the world’s oceans? Consider that more than 100 vessels will probably be scrapped this year – a record – and daily earnings for the industry will still tumble.
Having predicted as recently as February that shipping rates this year would jump, forecasters are turning increasingly bearish as China’s coal imports plunge and its iron ore buying expands at the slowest pace on record. The Asian country’s economy, which is the second-largest after the U.S., will expand the least in a generation in 2015, estimates compiled by Bloomberg show.
Against that backdrop, owners will demolish the equivalent of about 6 percent of all Capesizevessels this year, according to GMS Inc., a Cumberland, Maryland-based company that purchases obsolete carriers. Even so, earnings per vessel will still slump by about 20 percent this year based on a Bloomberg survey of 10 shipping analysts.
“You can’t make the market good just by scrapping, that’s only going to protect the downside,” Eirik Haavaldsen, a shipping equities analyst at Pareto Securities AS in Oslo, said by phone May 13. “Coal is collapsing and iron ore is just not growing.”
The drop in demand for commodities shipping comes as the market is glutted with vessels ordered as long as a decade ago. That’s pushed freight rates to historic lows.
Ships competing for spot cargoes earned $4,228 a day this year, the worst start since at least 2000, according to one of two global rates for Capesizes published by the Baltic Exchange in London. They’re the biggest freighters within the Baltic Dry Index, a measure of freight costs for commodities, which averaged 607 points since Jan. 1, the weakest for the period since it was first published in 1985.
Capesize average earnings, including from longer-term charters whose rates aren’t as volatile as the spot rates published by the exchange, will drop 20 percent to $11,000 a day this year, according to the median of 10 analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg. A similar survey in February anticipated $18,750 a day, which would have been a 33 percent yearly gain.
That’s because demand from China for products carried by ship has slowed or is contracting. Coal-buying averaged 17.25 million tons a month, a collapse of 38 percent from the same period in 2014. Iron ore imports averaged 76.82 million tons a month this year, up 0.6 percent compared with the corresponding period in 2014, customs data compiled by Bloomberg show. That’s the smallest growth for this time of year since at least 2000.
Overcapacity for seaborne iron ore will persist until at least 2019, as the world’s largest suppliers expand production further, the China Iron & Steel Association said Thursday. Cheaper supplies of the commodity are displacing higher-cost seaborne shipments, according to BHP Billiton Ltd., the world’s largest mining company.
The higher pace of scrapping will eventually help eliminate a fleet surplus, according to Anil Sharma, the chief executive officer of GMS who founded the company 23 years ago.
“Owners with deep pockets are quite pleased to see blood on the street,” he said by phone May 13. “They feel that’s going to help them stabilize the market.”
The practice of scrapping involves steering vessels onto beaches to be broken up by local workers using equipment including blowtorches to cut chunks of steel from the ships’ hulls, according to Sverre Bjorn Svenning, director of research at Norwegian shipbroker Astrup Fearnley AS.
Orders for new ships have plunged to about 400,000 deadweight tons of new ships each month this year, according to Clarkson Plc, the world’s biggest shipbroker. That’s the smallest since the early 1990s and about 98 percent below the peak commissioning rate, set in December 2007, when 23 million tons were ordered in a single month.
Operators have also been switching orders to tankers from dry bulk vessels, London-based Braemar ACM, the world’s second- biggest publicly traded shipbroker, said via e-mail on May 11. Even so, the Capesize market remains oversupplied by an estimated 16 percent, limiting prospects for a recovery in freight prices, it estimates.
“I don’t think it’s even near sufficient to balance the market,” Svenning said by phone May 13. “We have a supply side that is far too big for demand.”
gCaptain / Bloomberg News
Lookback #544 – Ralph Budd stranded at Saltese Point on May 15, 1929
Ralph Budd lasted from 1905 until 1966 and served as a package freighter, bulk carrier, auto carrier and grain storage barge. It was built at Ecorse, Mich., and launched on June 10, 1905, as Superior. Initially a package freighter, it was operated on behalf of the New York Central Railroad from Buffalo to the head of the lakes before loading grain or bagged flour for the return trip east.
The vessel was renamed Ralph Budd in 1926 and was abandoned as a total loss after running aground near Eagle Harbor, Lake Superior, 86 years ago today. After being abandoned to the underwriters, the ship was refloated by Capt. Thomas Reid, repaired and entered Canadian service in the grain trade.
It joined the Upper Lakes and St. Lawrence Transportation Co. in 1938 and remained in their colors to the end. The company was restyled as Upper Lakes Shipping in 1959 and the vessel was renamed L.A. McCorquodale that same year.
It once again saw service for two years as a package freight carrier but was retired at Toronto at the end of the 1963 season. It worked as a grain storage barge at the port before being sold for scrap. The ship was towed Hamilton on May 5, 1966, and broken up by United Metals
Updates - May 15
News Photo 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, Mich., 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. Marys 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.
Badger readied for 2015 sailing season with new ash retention system in place
5/14 - Ludington, Mich. - The SS Badger is expected to sail from Ludington to Manitowoc, Wisconsin Friday, putting its new ash retention system to use.
Lake Michigan Carferry has spent an estimated $2.4 million over the past two years in adding a new combustion control system before the 2014 season and the ash retention system over this past winter in order to meet the requirements of the U.S. Department of Justice approved consent decree between LMC and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The consent decree required the Badger, the last coal-fired, steam-powered vessel operating on the Great Lakes, to stop discharging ash into Lake Michigan before sailing in 2015.
LMC had planned to show the media how the new system works, but Tuesday canceled a media event scheduled for Thursday afternoon. According to Terri Brown, LMC director of marketing and media relations, “the new ash retention system has been completed and is waiting for testing, but the ship’s original steam generators that were sent to the East Coast to be refurbished took longer to complete than we had anticipated. This delayed the startup of the boilers and our ability to test run the new ash retention system. The new system will be operational for the first day of sailing on Friday, May 15.”
Work was under way Tuesday reinstalling the steam generators.
A planned press conference on the Wisconsin side of the lake for Friday afternoon will continue as scheduled, at which time the new ash retention system’s operation will be explained in detail, Brown said.
“It was laborious, but it is in place and it is ready,” Brown said of installation of the ash retention system made by Kalamazoo-based Hapman, a manufacturer of standard and custom bulk material handling equipment and systems. Brown told the Ludington Daily News the installation “was as difficult as we thought it would be, but it is done.”
The system transports ash from the four boilers to four retention bins on the car deck. Like almost everything else on the ship, first placed in service in 1953 and the largest carferry ever to sail the Great Lakes, the conveyor was designed and built especially for the historic ship.
LMC says the ash will be recycled through approved methods.
The Badger was undergoing some annual inspections Tuesday afternoon. The new ash retention system will undergo ABS and U.S. Coast Guard inspection prior to sailing Friday.
Ludington Daily News
Project moves ahead to generate energy from St. Clair River current
5/14 - Port Huron, Mich. – A project to generate energy from the St. Clair River's strong current is moving forward with plans to install four energy-harnessing devices in the river this year.
Vortex Hydro Energy will install the devices between August and September near Dunn Paper in Port Huron, the Times Herald of Port Huron reported. The river is used by commercial traffic and recreational boaters and connects Lake Huron with Lake St. Clair.
Vortex Hydro Energy, a spinoff company hoping to commercialize technology invented and patented at the University of Michigan, placed prototypes in the St. Clair River near the paper mill north of the Blue Water Bridge in August 2010 and September 2012.
The devices — which stand about 18 feet high, 10 feet wide and nearly 12 feet long — have cylinders that move back and forth, creating energy on the river bottom. That energy is harnessed by what those involved in the $1.25 million project call an oscylator and is sent to a generator that converts it to electricity.
The devices are expected to be a few feet from the surface and buoys will indicate their presence to boaters.
Eight more are to be installed in May 2016 and will stay in the water two to three months.
Michael Bernitsas, a professor of naval architecture, marine engineering and mechanical engineering at the University of Michigan, invented the technology that's being used in the St. Clair River. It's called VIVACE, or Vortex Induced Vibrations for Aquatic Clean Energy.
Judy Ogden, a member of the Blue Water Sport Fishing Association, voiced concern that the devices could pose a hazard to recreational boaters.
"This is a high traffic area at certain times of the year," she said. "There are people from outside the community who would not be aware of these buoys."
There were no navigational issues in 2012 when a device was left in the river for about three months, Bernitsas said.
Port Reports - May 14
Saginaw River – Todd Shorkey
Buffalo, N.Y. – Brian W
One-time shipyard site up for auction at Buffalo
5/14 - Bufflao, N.Y. – A prime piece of waterfront real estate in downtown Buffalo, with frontage along a stretch of the Buffalo River in the midst of fresh entertainment and economic activity, is going up for public auction next month.
The former industrial property has five buildings, totaling 54,544 square feet, and it includes almost 2,000 feet of riverfront, as well as 851 feet along Ganson.
“It’s got a ton of frontage on the Buffalo River. It’s right next door to the Riverworks project,” said Cash Cunningham, whose company is auctioning the site. “It should bring some significant interest.”
Built in 1945, it was originally used as a shipbuilding facility by American Ship Building Co., but more recently housed tree-cutting firm Man O’ Trees, which went out of business two years ago in the wake of mounting legal and financial woes after the firm’s bonding company had to step in to ensure work was completed.
The property is still owned by Man O’ Trees owner David C. Pfeiffer, who bought it in March 2007 from an affiliate of marine construction firm Bidco Marine Group, which operated from the site before Man O’ Trees. Pfeiffer had assumed the $2 million mortgage as part of the purchase, and refinanced it a year later. But with his business closed, he no longer has a need for the property, and still has bills to pay, including his $1.5 million mortgage from Five Star Bank.
The live auction will be held at the site on June 17, starting at 10 a.m.
Tashmoo and Fitzgerald artifacts in temporary exhibit
5/14 - Toledo, Ohio – What Great Lakes maritime artifacts are held in private collections and what motivates people to collect such material? These are two questions that a new temporary exhibit at the National Museum of the Great Lakes hopes to answer. “For Your Eyes Only: Private Collecting on the Great Lakes” opens to the public on Sunday, May 17, and remains open through June 21.
The exhibit features artifacts from nine different collectors across a broad sampling of Great Lakes history. Most of these artifacts have never or rarely been on public display to the general public. Christopher Gillcrist of the National Museum of the Great Lakes said that “the goal of the exhibit was to offer the general public the opportunity to get a glimpse of what is held in private collections as well as a better understanding of how and why such artifacts were acquired.”
In one small exhibit, visitors will get a chance to see the exquisite name-board from the Benson Ford and the two capstan covers from sister ships Eastern States and Western States. Whaleback history is reflected in the name-board from John Ericsson and tugboats are considered in the builder’s plate from the Jesse James. The exhibit also has less traditional artifacts including a beautiful representation of Great Lakes china and logbooks and diaries.
Gillcrist was intrigued by why some people collect Great Lakes memorabilia. Clearly, family tradition plays an important role. However, the nature of one’s business might also explain the desire to collect.
One of the most interesting artifacts in the exhibit is the massive steam whistle from Tashmoo. Gillcrist loved the fact that the current owners of Tashmoo’s whistle are the Market family, which owns and operates the Miller Boat Line on Lake Erie.
“If the whistle is going to be in private hands, it is fitting that the whistle decorates the offices of one of the last passenger ferry providers operating on the Great Lakes.” Gillcrist said “One only has to walk through the Miller Boat Line offices to see how much they appreciate Great Lakes history” he added.
Another interesting artifact is seemingly innocuous but explains why the person collected what they did. The artifact is a cancelled check written out to Phil Ketala who served as a porter on the Fitzgerald in 1971. Dolores Brown and her husband took a trip on the Fitzgerald that year and the check represents the personal tip of the couple to their porter. The check was filed with other cancelled checks for four years until the Fitzgerald sank. At that time, Brown searched and found it and began amassing a substantial scrapbook related to the loss of the famous boat. Brown and her husband collected no other Great Lakes material except articles related to the Fitzgerald. Their two trips on the boat were the inspiration for a large manuscript collection of newspaper clippings, photos and other research material.
National Museum of the Great Lakes
Lookback #543 – Pentecost Mitchell and Saxona collided on May 14, 1917
5/14 - The bulk carrier Pentecost Mitchell served U.S. Steel from 1916 until 1943. The 434-foot-long by 50-foot-wide steamer had been built at Lorain, Ohio, in 1903 and first sailed for the Acme Transit Co. as H.B. Hawgood.
On August 23, 1905, the vessel struck the bridge at Duluth but I am not aware of how much damage the ship or structure sustained.
After joining U.S. Steel in 1916, the ship was renamed Pentecost Mitchell and was used in the ore trade. It collided with the Tomlinson steamer Saxona in the St. Mary's River, above DeTour, Mich., 98 years ago today. The two ships settled on the bottom with their bows locked together
Both ships were refloated and repaired. Saxona eventually came into Canadian service and last sailed as Laketon (i). Pentecost Mitchell was traded to the United States Maritime Commission in 1943 and chartered back for service to the end of the war.
After being laid up at Erie, Pa., Pentecost Mitchell was sold to the Steel Company of Canada in 1946, towed to Hamilton passing down the Welland Canal between the tugs A.W. Macaulay and Towmaster on Oct. 16, 1946, and broken up in Hamilton in June 1948.
Updates - May 14
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 – 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.
Captain John’s restaurant sold to ship scrapper, will be gone by end of May
5/13 - Toronto, Ont. – Ports Toronto refuses to disclose how much it is paying a veteran scrapper to tow Captain John’s floating restaurant from the foot of Yonge Street and cut it into tiny, rusting pieces, other than to stress it won’t cost taxpayers a dime.
The costs of the complex tow by two specialized tugs through the Welland Canal to Port Colborne — estimated by some marine experts at well over $400,000 — are being shared by the federal port authority, Waterfront Toronto and Cityzen Developments.
Waterfront Toronto, which gets most of its funding from the three levels of government, said its share will come from the sale of waterfront land.
Ports Toronto stressed that it is financially self-sufficient through its port and island airport operations and that the bid details are proprietary.
Cityzen, which couldn’t be reached for comment, is a private development company which is building the waterfront Residences of Pier 27 condo complex immediately to the east of the rusting relic and had been promised the ship would be gone last year. It’s launching sales soon for a new, 35-storey condo tower on the parking lot adjacent to Captain John’s.
Federal court justice Kevin Aalto approved a deal Monday that will see the ship sail one last time — by May 26, weather willing — tied to two massive tugs that will take it to the Port Colborne scrap yard of Marine Recycling Corp.
Alto approved the sale — after a first auction last summer ended in failure — after being warned that the aged ship, the Jadran, is in “shocking” condition and has almost sunk twice in the last month.
“This is clearly a case that requires closure,” Aalto said, adding that Marine Recycling’s bid was the most credible of four proposals, two of them “negative bids” that will see waterfront officials pay, rather than get paid, money.
The other was an offer from Priestly Demolition in partnership with entrepreneur James Sbrolla to remove it for $250,000.
Sbrolla agreed to pay $33,501 for the ship last summer, but failed to meet some payment deadlines and later partnered with Priestly in hopes of starting demolition at the foot of Parliament St. Ports Toronto eventually rejected the plan and returned Sbrolla’s money.
“I’m sure they don’t want the number made public because they overpaid so badly to have it taken away,” Sbrolla said outside the court, referring to the Marine Recycling bid.
But it’s been clear from the start that this is no easy feat: Marine surveys have shown the ship is top heavy, polluted with asbestos and now weighed down by about 10 feet of oily water.
The biggest risk is that the ship could “turtle” as it’s being angled out of Toronto’s harbor and become a new kind of landmark — a costly impediment to seaway traffic, salvage master Wayne Elliott of Marine Recycling told court.
“The vessel is ripe,” Elliott testified Monday. “That doesn’t refer to a nice ripe piece of fruit. It’s more like a rotten piece of fruit.”
“This is not a vessel that anything else wants to go wrong with,” he added.
Of course, it was far from smooth sailing right up until the end for the once fine-dining establishment that was shut down by public health officials almost three years ago. It has been the subject of legal wrangling and two court auctions since then aimed at somehow recovering more than $1 million in back taxes, berthing and other fees that “Captain” John Letnik owes to Ports Toronto, Waterfront Toronto and the City of Toronto.
Letnik, 76, was pressing the court to look at other options, widely seen as long dead, that might give the ship a new life as an entertainment venue and help pay off his debts.
But as the desperate, last-ditch effort to save his life’s work came to an end, Elliott reached out his hand to Letnik, calling him “a gentleman.” He even offered Letnik a spot on the Jadran as it’s towed away from its prime waterfront real estate later this month.
“I would like to be part of the last voyage,” Letnik said outside court, fighting back tears. “I’m very much honored that he has invited me.”
The Toronto Star
Federal judge issues order forcing Corps to dredge Cuyahoga shipping channel
5/13 - Cleveland, Ohio – A federal judge said Tuesday that the Army Corps of Engineers must fully dredge the Cleveland Harbor and Cuyahoga River shipping channel, writing that the Corps' refusal to do so is unreasonable and inferring that it is trying to blackmail the state of Ohio into footing the bill.
In a 15-page opinion granting an injunction requested by the state, U.S. District Judge Donald Nugent ordered that the dredging project begin on or about Friday, when it was scheduled. He said the Corps must pay the costs of dredging and dumping the sediment into a disposal facility.
"Refusing to dredge possibly the most commercially significant section of the Cleveland Harbor, after receiving specific congressional approval and funding to do so," Nugent wrote, "violates the Corps' duty to expedite operation and maintenance of the Channel to authorized project depths, and would fail to support (and in fact actually destroy) commercial navigation through this channel."
The Army Corps has already agreed to dredge five miles of the six-mile channel. However, it refused to dredge the sixth mile — which serves ArcelorMittal's steel mill — because it disagreed that the sediment from that mile would be harmful if dumped into Lake Erie. The Corps argued that it could save money by not dumping into a facility, though Congress approved about $8 million specifically for that purpose.
The state filed suit in April, alleging that the Army Corps is violating federal law by asking that a "non-federal partner" pay to dredge the sixth mile and dispose of the sediment. It argued, both in briefs and during a hearing Monday morning, that the city of Cleveland and state would be damaged economically if the channel was not fully dredged.
In Tuesday's opinion, Nugent wrote that the state is likely to succeed in its litigation.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, in a news release sent by a spokeswoman, praised the judge's ruling. "Properly dredging the entire Cleveland Harbor is absolutely vital to the economic well-being of the state and to the environment," he said in the release.
Army Corps spokesman Bruce Sanders said he could not comment, since the case is ongoing. A representative from the Department of Justice, which represents the Corps, wrote in an email that its staff is reviewing the decision.
Occasionally employing a scathing tone, Nugent wrote that the Corps' attempt to not pay to fully dredge the channel "appears to be nothing more than an attempt to deflect costs that the agency is statutorily mandated to bear itself.
"The state cannot be blackmailed into contributing to these costs under threat of shutting down what is potentially the most commercially important section of the project," he wrote.
The judge also took note of the Corps' decision to not appeal the state's decision to allow dredging, with the requirement that the sediment not be dumped into Lake Erie. He wrote that it is fair to conclude that the levels of cancer-causing PCBs in the water would be too high, despite the Corps claiming otherwise, if the sediment was dumped.
"Forcing the State to permit the introduction of pollutants into Lake Erie in order to guarantee the continued navigability to the Cleveland Harbor is deleterious not only to Ohio but would clearly negatively affect the general public interest," the judge wrote.
Per the order, the state will set aside more than $1.3 million – the cost to dredge and put the sediment into a facility, as well as for further dredging through 2017 — in case the state does not prevail.
Port Reports - May 13
Duluth, Minn. – Daniel Lindner
Lorain, Ohio – Phil Leon
Buffalo, N.Y. – Brian W.
Port Weller, Ont.
Montreal, Que. – Rene´ Beauchamp
Could Detroiters be hailing a water taxi soon?
5/13 - Detroit, Mich. – Detroit's residents and visitors might be able to hop on a water taxi to six destinations on the Detroit River as soon as next year, and if plans come to fruition, ferry service between Detroit and Windsor could be in the works as well.
William Smith, chief financial officer of the Detroit RiverFront Conservancy, said regular water taxi service on the river to places like Belle Isle, Rivard Plaza and Cobo Center from late April or early May to September would be a boost to Detroit.
"This is the front door of Detroit. It just adds another amenity to our existing tourist infrastructure," Smith said.
The water taxi service is included in a $40,000 study the nonprofit conservancy undertook with Freshwater Transit in June 2014. It also incorporates 14 rubber-wheeled trolley stops at places like West Riverfront Park, Dequindre Cut and Harbortown to better connect neighborhoods to the riverfront, other area transit options and attractions, Smith said.
The fare for the trolley would likely be $1 and $5-$7.50 for the water taxi.
Detroit Free Press
Lookback #542 – Valcartier collided with A.W. Osborne on May 13, 1915
It was 100 years ago today that the Canadian bulk carrier Valcartier and the American freighter A.W. Osborne collided in Lake Huron above Corsica Shoal. The former sustained about $35,000 in damage to the hull and another $25,000 in damage to the cargo of grain.
Valcartier dated from 1903. It was built at Cleveland as William Henry Mack and joined the Mack Steamship Co. early in the shipping season. It was sold to the Jenkins Steamship Co. in 1906. Later, on July 10, 1911, the ship rammed and sank the John Mitchell (ii) off Vermilion Point, Lake Superior, and three lives were lost.
The ship moved to Canada as b) Valcartier in 1914 and had several owners. It was sailing for the Lake Commerce Ltd. of Toronto when the accident of a century ago occurred. It later worked for the Sault Shipping Co., part of Algoma, the Montreal Transportation Co. and then joined Canada Steamship Lines in 1920.
Valcartier last sailed in 1931 and was laid up, due to the Depression, at Midland until being broken up for scrap there in 1937.
Updates - May 13
News Photo Gallery
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, THOMAS WILSON departed under the command of Captain Henry Borgen on her maiden voyage from Lorain, Ohio, bound for Duluth, Minnesota, to load iron ore.
The green-hulled schooner EMMA C. HUTCHINSON was launched at 4 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.
American Fortitude towed from Oswego
5/12 - Oswego, N.Y. - The tug Molly M. 1 and Jarrett M towed the American Fortitude from the Port of Oswego Monday. No destination was reported but the vessel is expected to go to Port Colborne for scrapping.
The boat, which was built in 1953 and once one of the longest and fastest boats on the Great Lakes.
Port Reports - May 12
Alpena, Mich. – Ben & Chanda McClain
Saginaw River - Todd Shorkey
Time to reserve for 2015 Badger Gathering on May 30
Plans have been completed for the annual Boatnerd Gathering aboard the S.S. Badger for a round trip from Ludington, Mich., to Manitowoc, Wis., and return on Saturday, May 30. While in Manitowoc Boatnerds will have an option to reboard the Badger for a Wisconsin Shoreline Cruise or visit the Wisconsin Maritime Museum.
Join us in traveling aboard the only coal-fired steamer left on the Great Lakes.
Staying on board the Badger on Friday night, May 29, is also an option. Friday night guests will be treated to guided tours of the pilothouse and engine room, and buffet breakfast on Saturday morning. Only 28 staterooms are available. Make your reservation today as these rooms always sell out.
Don’t be left on the dock: Reserve now for Engineer’s Day Soo Cruise
We are again hosting the annual freighter-chasing cruise on the St. Marys River on June 26 as part of the annual Engineer’s Day Gathering in Sault Ste. Marie. The cruise will be three hours long, we will travel through both the U.S. and Canadian locks and do our best to find photo opportunities for any vessel traffic in the river. Reservations are a must, as we are limiting the group to 100 persons. A buffet dinner will also be served. Reserve now and save $5.
Lookback #541 – Former Helen Hindman damaged by fire at New Orleans on May 12, 1975
5/12 - Helen Hindman was one of five different names carried by this ship during its years of Great Lakes service. It was built for the British Admiralty at Aberdeen, Scotland, as a) Watchful in 1911 before becoming b) Xelda in 1928 and c) Zelda in the 1930s.
The 155 foot long tug was the largest on the Great Lakes when it came inland in 1935. It was converted for the logging industry and first sailed around our shores as d) Northern. It joined the Diamond Steamship Co., of Capt. George Hindman, as e) Charles R. Randle Sr. in 1951 and moved under the Hindman Transportation Co. in 1953 as f) Helen Hindman (ii).
This ship towed company consort barges in the pulpwood trade and was renamed g) Susan Hindman in 1965, h) Herbert A. in 1969 and finally i) Tara Hall while at Sorel in 1973.
The latter left Canadian waters for the Caribbean in January 1974 but may not have seen much service. The vessel was damaged due to a vandal-set blaze on May 12, 1975, leaving considerable damage.
There the trail runs cold and I suspect that the ship was broken up locally. Lloyds deletes Tara Hall in 1997 as “existence in doubt,” but that may have been the case for some time.
Updates - May 12
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 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
Buffalo, N.Y. – Brian W.
Lookback #540 – Former London Fusilier suffered a fire in the hold on May 11, 1994
London Fusilier was an SD-14 general cargo ship. It was built by Austin & Pickersgill and launched at Sunderland, England, on April 26,1972. The 462 foot, 2 inch long, 9210 gross ton vessel could carry in the range of 14,700 tons per trip for London & Overseas Freighters.
The ship first came to the Great Lakes in 1973 and was one of a number of company carriers to use the St. Lawrence Seaway. It was sold and registered in Singapore as b) New Whale in 1979 and in Panama as c) Her Loong in 1985.
The latter was unloading at Hamburg, West Germany, 28 years ago today when a fire broke out in #5 hold. The blaze roared for considerable time, causing extensive damage and leaving the former Seaway saltie a total loss.
Following a sale to Spanish shipbreakers, Her Loong departed Hamburg, under tow on July 2, 1987, and arrived at Valencia, Spain, on July 14. There the ship was broken up by Aguilar y Peris S.L.
Updates - May 11
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.
Escanaba boat viewing platform proposed
5/10 - Escanaba, Mich. – A retired developer from Escanaba has suggested a way to draw in tourists into the city's downtown - build a viewing platform for people to see freighters on the bay. Charles Huntwork presented his idea to the Escanaba Downtown Development Authority last Wednesday.
"I think it would be a boon to the city," Huntwork said when he introduced the concept of a viewing stand. "I think it would really be a tourist attraction. This would draw the tourists into town."
Huntwork's idea basically includes a high platform for viewing built on top of a structure that could possibly house a restroom, gift shop and office - all elevated from the ground built on city property along the shore. The structure would also include an elevator, he said.
"We need something unusual to catch the tourist's eye. Boats are a big thing," he told DDA members, also recommending signage about the vantage point be placed along the highways to bring people into the downtown area.
"We need to drive tourists into Escanaba's downtown," Huntwork said, explaining his "See the Great Lakes Freighters" proposal could improve business downtown and potentially help create jobs.
Huntwork also suggested the attraction could be tied into tours in the area such as historical building and home tours.
DDA Director Ed Legault and City Manager Jim O'Toole both agreed the concept could be included in public input to be considered during an upcoming update of the city's master plan.
Escanaba Daily Press
Seaway Notice to Shipping: Water levels on Lake St. Louis
5/10 - Click here to read: http://www.greatlakes-seaway.com/en/pdf/navigation/ntsmlo20150508.pdf
Lookback #539 – The second Federal St. Laurent hit bottom on May 10, 1994
5/10 - The second of three ships to visit the Great Lakes as Federal St. Laurent went aground in the St. Marys River 21 years ago today. The ship stranded at Johnson's Point while up bound with a cargo of foreign steel for Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.
The 622-foot, 7-inch-long bulk carrier received a 75-foot-long gash and some ballast tanks were flooded. It also had a 375-foot-long crease in the hull and had to go to Sturgeon Bay, Wis., for repairs.
The vessel was idle until June 19 when it departed to load 907,000 bushels of barley at Duluth for Israel.
This Federal St. Laurent had been built at Ulsan, South Korea, in 1978 and began Seaway service that year as part of the Federal Commerce & Navigation (now Fednav) fleet. The ship was a frequent Great Lakes trader on their behalf.
It was renamed b) Federal Dora at Toronto on June 20, 1995, and became c) Dora in 1999. Both ship were Seaway traders. The latter also grounded in the St. Marys River, this time off Six Mile Point, on May 5, 2000.
Following a sale to Bangladesh shipbreakers, Dora arrived at Chittagong on May 5, 2003, to be broken up.
Today in Great Lakes History - May 10
1923 –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, 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.
Corps opposes dredging Cuyahoga shipping channel while lawsuit pending
5/9 - Cleveland, Ohio The Army Corps of Engineers has asked a judge to defer to the Corps' decision not to fully dredge the Cleveland Harbor and Cuyahoga River navigation channel while a state lawsuit is pending.
In a document filed this week, Stacey Bosshardt, a Department of Justice attorney representing the Corps, wrote that federal law leaves dredging decisions up to the Corps because of the agency's' expertise.
The Corps asks U.S. District Judge Donald Nugent to not grant the state of Ohio's request for a restraining order, filed last month, to force the Corps to fully dredge the channel while the lawsuit is pending. Nugent will hold a hearing Monday on the state's request.
The state's lawsuit, filed in April, alleges that the Army Corps is violating federal law by asking that a "non-federal partner" pay to dredge the last of six miles of channel and dispose of the sediment in a facility. The Army Corps maintains that the sediment is not polluted and that it would save money by dumping the dredged material into Lake Erie.
The Army Corps has already agreed to dredge the first five miles and put the sediment into a facility. The dredging of the channel's sixth mile, which will produce the most sediment, is the only disputed portion of the project.
The suit asks a federal judge to order the Corps to fully dredge the channel and to bear the cost of dumping the sediment. It also asks a judge to bar the Corps from dumping sediment in Lake Erie in future projects.
Ohio Environmental Protection Agency Director Craig Butler previously pointed out that Congress budgeted about $8 million for the dredging project. But the Corps writes in its court filing that the money "can be redirected to any other authorized project" and that the law allows that money to be used on similar projects throughout the Great Lakes.
"Although the Corps identified dredging of the sixth mile as a priority at the time it submitted its proposed budget ... budget requests submitted to Congress do not create enforceable obligations," the motion reads.
The filing also asks Nugent, if he orders the Corps to dredge while the suit is pending to force the state to put up a $1.3 million bond in case the Corps prevails in the case.
The Army Corps previously said federal regulations require the agency to identify the least expensive dredging option that's technically feasible and environmentally suitable. Costlier alternatives can be implemented if a non-federal partner contributes the difference.
One boater rescued, 1 presumed dead in Saginaw River accident
5/9 - Zilwaukee, Mich. - Police searching for two men who jumped overboard from a small boat in the Saginaw River say one person was rescued and the other person is presumed dead.
The two men were in the boat sometime before 11 a.m. Friday, May 8, when investigators believe a tug and barge approached and the pair believed a collision would occur due to engine trouble on their boat. The men then jumped into the river, the Michigan State Police reports.
Earlier information that the larger has been updated because investigators believe it was a tugboat or different type of large watercraft.
A 911 call about 10:50 a.m. Friday sent area firefighters and members of the Saginaw County Sheriff's Department to the Saginaw River near the Bay-Saginaw county line after someone on shore saw a man clinging to a buoy and calling for help, Saginaw County Sheriff's Sgt. Mark Garabelli said.
The Zilwaukee Fire Department was first on scene and rescued the man. He was transported to a hospital where he is recovering, police said.
"He was pretty badly hypothermic but he was conscious and able to talk," U.S. Coast Guard Spokesman Lt. Davey Connor said, noting the Coast Guard assisted the search-and-rescue operation with a helicopter.
"They were afraid they were going to get hit so they dove in the water." - USCG Spokesman Lt. Davey Connor said.
U.S. Coast Guard hits Saginaw River and Bay for annual buoy inspections
5/9 - Hampton Township, Mich. - U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Hannah Amos was in for a battle on the Saginaw River Wednesday. Her opponent: a 4,000-pound anchor holding down Buoy 6, located near the mouth to Saginaw Bay in Bay County's Hampton Township.
Revving the engines of a 49-foot stern loading buoy boat, Amos maneuvered the vessel back and forth, working in a circular pattern, its bow rising up out of the water, until the giant anchor gave way, dislodging itself from the bottom of the river.
Cheers rang out as Chief Petty Officer Brian Sieg used the boat's hydraulic lift to raise the massive anchor.
"Just wait for the smell now," joked Petty Officer 2nd Class Cameron Mayasich, as those on board watched the anchor -- covered in mud and muck -- surface.
It was all part of a routine day for members of the U.S. Coast Guard's Aids to Navigation Team working out of the Coast Guard Station Saginaw River. Each spring, the team is charged with inspecting 37 buoys placed in the river and bay.
Six members of the team -- Sieg, Amos, Mayasich, Petty Officer 1st Class Andrew Tetrault, Petty Officer 2nd Class Scott Blue and Petty Officer 3rd Class Kennith Paige -- spent three hours on the Saginaw River on Wednesday, May 6, inspecting buoys 2, 5 and 6 and the heavy chains that hold them in place.
Buoy 6 was the only one that gave the team -- which also oversees lighthouses and range lights from Alpena to Port Huron -- any trouble.
"Our job is to make sure it's where it's supposed to be and working correctly," said Sieg, explaining that every buoy has to be touched at least once a year.
Buoy inspection requires lifting each buoy from the water, replacing worn lettering, checking position and inspecting the chain for wear.
"I love this job," said Tetrault, who hails from Rhode Island and has been in Bay County for two years. "I think Aids to Navigation is the most rewarding job you could have in the Coast Guard."
As the Coast Guard vessel departed its harbor on Wednesday, Tetrault's love for the job was obvious. "Lets go slay some buoys," he said.
One of the more important parts of each inspection, Sieg said, involves checking the chains. Each chain must be measured for chafe and inspected for wear. Typically, sections of the chain are covered with what Sieg calls "buoy critters."
The chains typically can be hauled up using the boat's hydraulic lift, but sometimes -- about 1 in 4 -- the entire anchor must be raised in order to properly inspect the chain, Sieg said. That was the case on Wednesday with buoys 5 and 6.
The crew of the Aids to Navigation Team uses Global Positioning System technology to ensure the buoys are properly placed.
The team is relatively new to the Coast Guard Station Saginaw River having been established there in July 2014, according to Sieg. The team -- once part of the search and rescue and law enforcement team -- has 11 crew members.
After three hours on the water Wednesday, crew members were wet, tired and partially covered with muck. But Tetrault wouldn't have it any other way.
"It's good hard work and the camaraderie is fantastic," he said. "It's always a lot of fun."
Lookback #538 St. Pierre ran aground in thhe old Lachine Canal on May 9, 1974
5/9 - The Canadian coastal freighter St. Pierre was one of the “Empire Ships” of World War Two. It was built at Wallsend-on-Tyne and completed as a) Empire Seagreen in October 1945.
By then, the peace had been won but the ship still saw service under the British Ministry of War Transport. The 148 foot, 2 inch long cargo carrier had a capacity of 400 tons deadweight.
It was sold to private interests as b) Seagreen in 1950 and came to Canada as c) St. Pierre in 1959. It was rebuilt at Lauzon, QC for St. Lawrence and coastal trading and it helped pioneer winter navigation in that region.
St. Pierre also entered the Seaway on a number of occasions beginning in 1965 and returned, from time to time, through 1974.
It was 41-years ago today that the small ship ran aground in the Lachine Canal area at Montreal. A hole was punched open in the hull and the ship capsized and sank. Repair work was not feasible so the hull was broken up for scrap on location.
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.
Ice and weather slow resumption of Lakes stone trade in April
5/8 - Cleveland, Ohio – Shipments of limestone on the Great Lakes totaled 1.8 million tons in April, a decrease of 9 percent compared to the month’s 5-year average, and a drop of 30 percent compared to 2012, the last April in which ice conditions were not near arctic.
Heavy ice cover on the Lakes was the major factor behind the decreases. The ice formations were so formidable that the U.S.-flag Class V lakers that are heavily engaged in the stone trade collectively delayed their sailings by 60 days compared to 2014. Class V lakers are vessels that range in length from 600 to 649 feet and can transit rivers such as the Cuyahoga in Cleveland or the Saginaw River in Michigan.
Cold temperatures also slowed the resumption of mining at several quarries. Only 510,000 tons of aggregate and fluxstone had moved by mid-month.
Efforts to get more icebreaking resources on the Lakes are moving forward. Rep. Candice Miller (R-MI) included a provision in the Coast Guard Authorization Bill approved by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee that directs the U.S. Coast Guard to design and build a new, multi-mission icebreaker to enhance its capabilities on the Great Lakes.
The past two winters have been so brutal that millions of tons of various cargos have gone undelivered and that has cost the economy hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity and thousands of jobs.
Lake Carriers’ Association
Ceremony Saturday to honor lost crew of SS Cedarville
5/8 - Rogers City, Mich. – Of the 18 years he spent sailing, Rogers City resident Leonard Gabrysiak can't recall a foggier day than May 7, 1965. Visibility was so low aboard the SS Cedarville that Gabrysiak, now 84, remembers he and other crew members could barely see 5 feet in front of them.
That day proved to be a deadly one for 10 men of the 35-member crew of the Cedarville, which sank into the icy depths of the Straits of Mackinac exactly 50 years ago today.
"My wife used to wake me up in the middle of the night, and I'd be fighting myself or having nightmares about jumping off the boat and getting off the boat before it went down," he said. "I finally got over it."
The Cedarville, built in 1927, was the third-largest freighter lost on the Great Lakes, according to the Michigan Underwater Preserve Council, a private, nonprofit volunteer organization.
The 600-foot ship sank after an oceangoing Norwegian freighter, the Topdalsfjord, collided with it. According to the Michigan Underwater Preserve Council, the Cedarville remains on its starboard side, nearly broken in two, in 105 feet of water.
For Gabrysiak, the day remains vivid in his mind. "My memory is sharp," he said. The ship was hauling more than 14,000 tons of limestone, Gabrysiak said, and was traveling through the Straits of Mackinac when the crash happened.
Gabrysiak, who was the wheelsman, recalls that the captain had trouble contacting the captain of the Norwegian freighter, which was in the vicinity.
"It hadn't anchored and we hadn't anchored, either," he said. "We altered our course numerous times to get away from it, and we happened to get hit. The Norwegian ship backed off in the fog and that's the last I saw of it."
Gabrysiak said his crew dropped the anchor, but there was a sizable hole in the ship. Crewmembers rushed to cover it with collision tarp, but it wouldn't hold so they decided to try and beach the ship on shore.
"Suddenly the ship shuddered a little bit and started tipping to the side," he said. "The captain shut the engine off and I went out on the port side and it started to roll. ... The boat rolled right over and I got pulled down in the suction. I was down underwater and didn't think I was going to come back up."
A German ship was in the area and rescued the crewmembers who survived.
Gabrysiak said the water's temperature was only 37 degrees and doctors marveled at the fact he survived the incident. "I don't even remember how many days I was in the hospital," he said. "I was pretty banged up."
Saturday, the Great Lakes Lore Maritime Museum in Rogers City will hold a service at 2 p.m., honoring the ship's crewmembers. Seven of them are still living. Attendees will ring a bell for those who were lost in the shipwreck.
"I don't want to forget the people, who are now 55 or 56 years old, who were only 5 or 6 at the time," he said. "Losing a father at that age, I couldn't imagine. Let's remember all those who sacrificed their lives on the Great Lakes."
Detroit Free Press
Congress considering a new Great Lakes icebreaker
5/8 - Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. – Congress is considering whether to build another icebreaker to serve the Great Lakes, a move that's sure to please shipping companies singing the blues over ice-related drops in iron ore shipments.
On April 30, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee approved an appropriations bill that would authorize the U.S. Coast Guard to build a new Great Lakes icebreaker of yet-to-be-determined size.
The U.S. Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2015, which authorizes Coast Guard spending for fiscal years 2016 and 2017, includes a provision for the new cutter submitted by outgoing Rep. Candice Miller (R-Harrison Township).
Vessel operators have been lobbying for a new heavy cutter in earnest after the 2013-2014 winter plunged the region into a deep freeze that resulted in historic ice cover and job losses around the region related to spring shipping delays.
Great Lakes ice cover peaked at 92 percent in 2014 and 89 percent in 2015.
This year, iron ore shipments were 60 percent below the March's 5-year average and 15 percent below April's "long-term" average, according to the Lake Carriers Association (LCA), which represents U.S. flag lake freighters.
Watch Coast Guard cutter slice past 20-foot ice on thawing Lake Erie Coast Guard cutter Neah Bay of Cleveland breaks ice on Lake Erie near Vermilion, Ohio on March 13, 2015. The cutter was breaking jams that may cause inland flooding. The crew encountered ice stacks as high as 20-feet.
"We will be working with the entire Great Lakes delegation to ensure this provision remains in the final bill passed by the House and Senate," said association president James H.I. Weakley, in a press statement.
Miller, whose name has been floated as a possible Michigan gubernatorial candidate, said the Coast Guard's "aging" Great Lakes fleet, which consists of 9 icebreakers, is "challenging their vital mission to keep our waterways clear and safe."
"Starting the acquisition process now will minimize the loss of operating hours on the water as older cutters undergo repairs and maintenance," she said in a statement.
The LCA wants to see any new cutter mirror the capabilities of the USCG Mackinaw, a 10-year old heavy cutter launched in April 2005. The Mackinaw was one of several cutters busy in Lake Superior last month trying to clear a path through a wind-driven ice field that trapped nearly a dozen ships in Whitefish Bay for days after the Soo Locks opened for the season.
Through April, ore trade on the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway stands at 8.2 million tons, a decrease of 16.5 percent compared to the long-term average, according to the LCA, which says loadings out of U.S. ports on Lake Superior and Lake Michigan are down more than 21 percent compared to long-term averages.
Port Reports - May 8
Lorain, Ohio – Phil Leon
Buffalo, N.Y. – Brian W.
Early 19th-century schooner discovered in Toronto condo development site
5/8 - Toronto, Ont. – It is the oldest ship ever discovered in Toronto, an early 19th-century schooner found this week by archeologists doing a routine exploration of the site for a condo development near Fort York Blvd. and Bathurst Street.
It the ship’s day, everything south of Front Street would have been underwater, with several wharves jutting into the lake, the largest of which was the Queen’s Wharf, a major commercial hub built in 1833.
“We suspect this ship was scuttled deliberately to provide a scaffold for the workers building the wharf,” said David Robertson, senior archeologist at Archeological Services Inc.
The archeological dig began in early March with the intent of documenting the wharves built there in the early 1800s, Robertson said. On Monday, they discovered the wooden skeleton of the schooner.
Only a small portion of the ship remains: the ship’s keel, or spine — which runs about 15 metres from bow to stern — and a portion of the hull.
They also found possible debris from the crew, mostly broken ceramic plates that would have ended up at the bottom of the ship. That is what archeologists used to date the vessel.
“This is a very exciting discovery. It is not too often we come across (vessels) from 1830, particularly in landfill rather than the water,” historian and York University archivist Michael Moir said.
“This is Toronto’s maritime heritage,” he added. “It’s discoveries like this ship that remind us of how Toronto grew and developed into the city is today.”
Studying it “will give us some insight into aspects of 19th-century ship-construction techniques,” Robertson said. They will continue to expose and document the ship and the sections of the Queen’s Wharf they have already found on the Concord Adex development site, he said.
The ship’s future remains under discussion, he said, but it would be difficult to preserve.
One possibility being explored, Robertson said, is using 3D imaging technology to create a model of what the ship may have once looked like.
This is only the fourth ship to have been unearthed in Toronto, though it is believed there may be many more beneath the paved streets.
Updates - May 8
News Photo Gallery
Lookback #537 – James B. Foote under tow when it hit a dock at Chicago on May 8, 1938
The Great Lakes canaller James B. Foote was under tow of the tug Kansas when it hit a dock at Chicago 77 years ago today. The small bulk carrier was loaded with a cargo of corn and leaving for Sorel, Quebec, when the accident occurred.
The James B. Foote hit so hard that it lost its rudder and damaged the propeller blades resulting in a bill of $16,039.18 for repairs.
The ship had been built at Birkenhead, England in 1924 and came to the Great Lakes as a) Eugene C. Roberts. It was renamed b) James B. Foote in 1926 and became c) Portadoc (i) on joining the Paterson fleet in 1939.
Portadoc was requisitioned by the British War Ministry on May 31, 1940, and was assigned duty as a collier. It was torpedoed and sunk by U-124 on April 7, 1941, about 150 miles off Freetown, Sierra Leone.
The crew spent six days in lifeboats on the open sea before landing in French Guinea. There, they was questioned and then imprisoned by the Vichy French forces and one crewmember died of malaria before a prisoner exchange could be negotiated.
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.
FRED R. WHITE JR was christened May 8, 1979, 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.
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 $1 million 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: 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.
April ice not nice to Great Lakes ore trade
5/7 - Cleveland, Ohio – Shipments of iron ore on the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway totaled 4.3 million tons in April, nearly 15 percent below the month’s long-term average. The heavy ice blanketing the lakes not only slowed the vessels that were in service, it delayed many vessels from sailing. Several U.S.-flag vessel operators held back ships rather than sit in ice because the U.S. and Canadian Coast Guards do not have enough icebreakers to adequately cover the system.
“April was again proof positive that we need more icebreaking resources,” said James H.I. Weakley, President of Lake Carriers’ Association, the trade association representing U.S.-flag vessel operators on the Great Lakes.
“Even though domestic steel production has been slowed by dumped foreign steel and global overcapacity, the mills and power plants needed to be resupplied after the winter closure. Unfortunately, extreme ice conditions, especially in Whitefish Bay at the eastern end of Lake Superior, forced many vessels to wait until convoys could be formed and led through the ice fields.”
This is the second year in a row a brutal winter has slowed early season shipments of iron ore and other cargos on the lakes. As a result, Rep. Candice Miller (R-MI) included a provision in the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2015 (H.R. 1987) approved by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee that directs the U.S. Coast Guard to design and build a new, multi-mission icebreaker to enhance its capabilities on the Great Lakes.
“We thank Congresswoman Miller for recognizing the need for more U.S. Coast Guard icebreakers on the Great Lakes. This new icebreaker must be at least equal to the heavy icebreaking capabilities of the Mackinaw. We will be working with the entire Great Lakes delegation to ensure this provision remains in the final bill passed by the House and Senate.”
Through April, the Lakes/Seaway ore trade stands at 8.2 million tons, a decrease of 16.5 percent compared to the long-term average. Loadings out of U.S. ports on Lake Superior and Lake Michigan are down more than 21 percent compared to their long-term average.
Lake Carriers’ Association
Port Reports - May 7
Buffalo, N.Y. – Brian W
Oswego, N.Y. – Ned Goebricher
UW-Superior wins grant to preserve ship drawings from Fraser Shipyard
5/7 - Superior, Wis. – The University of Wisconsin-Superior has won a $50,000 federal grant to preserve hundreds of historic technical drawings from Fraser Shipyard of Superior and make them more accessible to researchers and the general public.
The drawings include working design documents and blueprints of such well-known vessels as the Edmund Fitzgerald, the Mackinaw, the Leon Fraser and others.
The award was announced recently by the National Park Service, in partnership with the Maritime Administration, as part of a $2.6 million package of grants to 18 projects nationwide that preserve and teach about our nation’s maritime history.
“The UW-Superior Special Collections is thrilled to be selected as one of the National Maritime Heritage Grant recipients,” said Laura Jacobs, interim director of UW-Superior's Jim Dan Hill Library and lead investigator on the project.
Jacobs has served as President of the Association for Great Lakes Maritime History, and has published numerous articles for maritime periodicals and newsletters as former archivist of the UW-Superior Special Collections. Also contributing to the project is Dr. Richard Stewart, co-director of the Great Lakes Maritime Research Institute. Dr. Stewart also served for six years in the Board of Advisors for the Great Lakes Maritime Museum, Duluth, Minnesota.
“This grant provides the opportunity to preserve a key part of the region’s unique maritime heritage,” Stewart said. “When the work is completed, researchers, students and the general public will be able to access the special historical artifacts from Fraser Shipyard.”
Tom Curelli, Fraser’s director of operations, said the company was proud to be in a position to donate its historical records to the UW-Superior archives. “The collection includes original and in many cases the only surviving plans and documents on vessels which form the legacy of Howards Pocket and its contribution to the maritime community,” he said.
Funding from this grant will allow UW-Superior to inspect, clean, repair, index and preserve historic maritime materials, including large-format technical drawings of ships built, modified, and repaired at Fraser.
Library staff say the blueprints and ship plans will be of interest to academic researchers and Great Lakes history buffs alike. Some of the drawings in the Fraser Collection are of ships still in operation, making the collection of particular interest to shipping companies and engineers.
“We anticipate this collection being heavily used,” said Shana Aue, special collections librarian at UW-Superior, who will manage and oversee day-to-day work on the project. “There's a lot of really valuable material in there.”
Specifically, UW-Superior will stabilize, process and store these valuable materials. The large-format drawings will be unrolled, cleaned and repaired as needed, cataloged, labeled, and transferred to archival storage containers. Another group of drawings currently on an obsolete film retrieval system will be scanned and digitally copied for easier access.
Work on this grant project will begin this summer and continue for two years.
The grant represents more than just a dollar figure. Several consultants are donating a total of hundreds of hours to the project, including maritime research consultant Eric Bonow and C. Patrick Labadie, retired Director of the Lake Superior Visitor Center, founder of the Lake Superior Marine Museum Association, and retired historian for the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary at Alpena, Mich.
Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center presents National Safe Boating Week events
5/7 - Duluth, Minn. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center will host two National Safe Boating Week Events at the Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center in Canal Park in Duluth.
• Wear Your Life Jacket to Work Day - Friday, May 15 – ALL DAY - nationwide
National Safe Boating Week is the launch of the 2015 North American Safe Boating Campaign. This yearlong campaign promotes safe and responsible boating and the value of voluntary, consistent life jacket wear by recreational boaters through the national theme, “Wear It!”
U.S. Coast Guard statistics show that drowning was the reported cause of death in three-fourths of recreational boating fatalities in 2013, and that 84 percent of those who drowned were not wearing life jackets.
Boating safety advocates across the U.S. and Canada have teamed up to promote safe and responsible boating, including consistent life jacket wear every time boaters are on the water, during National Safe Boating Week, held from May 16-22.
The Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center is at 600 Canal Park Drive in Duluth. More information is at Lake Superior Maritime Museum Association: www.LSMMA.com
Lookback #536 – Cedarville and Topdalsfjord collided on May 7, 1965
It was 50 years ago today that the Norwegian freighter Topdalsfjord and American self-unloader Cedarville found themselves on a collision course in the foggy Straits of Mackinac. The two freighters crashed together and efforts to beach the latter fell short. The Cedarville went down, with the loss of 10 lives, near Mackinac City, Michigan.
By all accounts this was a needless tragedy as the combination of speed for the conditions and human error led to the loss of the ship and part of the crew.
Cedarville had been built at River Rouge, Mich., and completed in May 1927 as A.F. Harvey. It served as flagship of the U.S. Steel's Pittsburgh Steamship Co. until succeeded by the Myron C. Taylor.
Originally a straight deck bulk carrier, A.F. Harvey was rebuilt as a self-unloader and renamed b) Cedarville in 1957. It moved under the Bradley Transportation division of U.S. Steel in 1957 and spent eight years in the new service.
The Swedish-built, but Norwegian-flagged, Topdalsfjord dated from 1959 and began Seaway service in 1960. It was a regular inland trader for many years before being sold to Panamanian interests in 1978. It had one further Great Lakes connection when sailing as d) Jin Xian Quan. The latter sank the Sea Carrier, a Seaway caller as Svanefjell, off Taishan Island in the Formosa Strait, on May 11, 1984.
The final known name of Topdalsfjord was e) Changhi. It was last noted as registered in Belize but was deleted from Lloyd's Register in 2005.
Updates - May 7
Today in Great Lakes History - May 7
ALGOPORT (Hull#217) was launched at Collingwood, Ontario, by Collingwood Shipyards Ltd., May 7, 1979 for Algoma Central Railway.
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 sailed on her maiden voyage on this date in 1891.
1935: A fire aboard ALEXANDER LESLIE at the port of Erieau, Ont., killed one member of the crew and injured two others.
1965: CEDARVILLE and TOPDALSFJORD collided in fog in the Straits of Mackinac. Ten lives were 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.
Final portion of Canadian Miner being removed; barging of scrap material to follow
5/6 - Sydney, N.S. – The last of the former laker Canadian Miner should soon be out of the water and the process of barging the scrap to shore will then begin.
Nova Scotia Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal Minister Geoff MacLellan said crews are currently removing the final portion of the derelict ship from the water.
"We're essentially down to the stern, which contains the four engines of the boat and the transmission unit that holds them all together," he said. "From that point we're left with the scrap metal from the vessel that is now on Scatarie (Island), as well as the camp setup, the generators, the heavy equipment that's out there that's been used for the operation, so we'll immediately switch to the barge process — removing things off Scatarie onto the mainland."
With the barge process likely to coincide with a portion of the lobster fishing season, MacLellan said the contractor doing the removal, RJ MacIsaac Construction of Antigonish, and government officials are co-ordinating the logistics of how that will work with the local fishing community.
"We're in full discussion with the local fishers and the community group that's been leading the way the whole time. Basically, we have to find a setup, a schedule and a game plan that's acceptable to them," he said. "We have to avoid at all costs the disruption of the very important lobster fishery and the fishing industry there in the Scatarie area."
The Miner ran aground on Scatarie Island in September 2011, while on its way to Turkey where it was supposed to be scrapped. The province began cleaning up the site last year but work was delayed when additional contaminants — asbestos and diesel — were found and had to be removed. Tough winter weather conditions in recent months also pushed the timeline ahead.
While the federal government has so far refused to contribute money to the removal of the Miner, MacLellan said his department is continuing to push them to do so.
"The additional contaminants have really added to the cost and the timeline and I'm hoping that (federal Transport Minister) Lisa Raitt will look at that and see the responsibility from the federal side," he said. "We really are encouraging them to take a second look."
MacLellan said the final cost of removing the Miner is not known at this point but did acknowledge that costs have increased from the original budget of $11.9 million. "We don't have a final number but certainly when we have that number we'll make it public," he said.
Cape Breton Post
Provision to add Great Lakes icebreaker to Coast Guard passes committee
5/6 - Washington, D.C. – Rep. Candice Miller (Mi.-10) issued the following statement after the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee passed the U.S. Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2015 (H.R. 1987), which included a provision submitted by Rep. Miller authorizing the commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard to design and build a new icebreaker for its Great Lakes fleet:
"Last winter, I had an opportunity to ride aboard the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Hollyhock on a regularly-scheduled ice breaking mission on Lake Huron. I was amazed to see, firsthand, the harsh conditions and challenges they faced as they worked to clear the vast amount of ice that blanketed the lake. They demonstrated such precision and skill, especially given that freshwater ice is much harder to break, making their mission in the Great Lakes more challenging.
"This past winter, for the second consecutive year, ice coverage on the Great Lakes was well above normal. In fact, this year saw a peak of 89 percent of the Great Lakes basin covered in ice - last year was even worse with 92 percent covered in ice. Commercial navigation on the Great Lakes is critical not only to the economies of the eight Great Lakes states, but to the U.S. and Canadian economies. In a strong economy, the Great Lakes can handle 200 million tons of cargo, support 227,000 jobs, contribute $33.5 billion to the economy, pay $14.1 billion in salaries, and provide $4.6 billion in tax revenues.
"Unfortunately, the Coast Guard's aging fleet on the Great Lakes - which includes only nine icebreaking-capable cutters - is challenging their vital mission to keep our waterways clear and safe, which is why I have included a provision in this authorization to allow the Coast Guard to add a new icebreaker to the Great Lakes fleet. Starting the acquisition process now will minimize the loss of operating hours on the water as older cutters undergo repairs and maintenance.
"The brave men and women who serve in the U.S. Coast Guard put themselves in harm's way and often face harsh conditions to secure our waterways, and we must ensure that they have the resources they need to safely do their job. I appreciate my colleagues' support for this provision and am hopeful that it remains intact as it moves through the full House and Senate."
The U.S. Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2015 (H.R. 1987) authorizes Coast Guard and Federal Maritime Commission funding levels for two years and includes provisions to improve Coast Guard mission effectiveness, help modernize the Guard's aging vessels and other assets, and reform U.S. maritime transportation laws.
Marine News Casualties & Demolitions 2015
5/6 - Marine News, the monthly journal of the World Ship Society, reports the following ships with Great Lakes connections going for scrap in the May 2015 issue.
Bright was also dismantled at Chittagong, Bangladesh. The former Seaway caller arrived on Jan. 19, 2015 and scrapping got underway on Feb. 3. This ship was built at Akitsu, Japan, in 1981 and first sailed under the flag of the Philippines as a) Ho Ming No. 3. The 5971 gross ton freighter began Great Lakes trading in 1982. It returned as b) Maya No. 3 in 1985 and as c) Kathrin in 1994. The latter made three trips to our shores that year. It became g) Bright in 2009 and was registered St. Vincent when it was sold for scrap.
Great Lakes related:
Compiled by Rene Beauchamp, Barry Andersen and Skip Gillham
Lookback #535 – The first Western Shell blew up on May 6, 1977
5/6 - The first Western Shell never made it to the Great Lakes but was part of Shell's Canadian Tankers fleet that was once so well known around our inland waters.
The ship had been built at Portland, Oregon, and completed as YO-119 in May 1943. The vessel served the U.S. Navy as a yard oiler until sold to Shell in 1947. The small tanker was renamed b) Western Shell and, following a refit at North Vancouver, helped distribute Shell products to company customers along the coast of British Columbia until 1961.
It was sold and renamed c) Pacific Rae for work as a bunkering vessel at Vancouver and for local trading and then became d) Pacific Star in 1966. It headed south for new service under the flag of Panama in 1975 operating first as e) Layla Express and then f) Punta Macoris.
The latter was at Acajutla, El Salvador, 38-years ago today when sea water entered the engine room and mixed with the cargo of sulfuric acid setting off an explosion.
The heavily damaged tanker was towed out to sea the next day and scuttled in the Pacific.
The second Western Shell had a Great Lakes connection, having sailed inland for Shell as a) Lakeshell (i), b) John A. McDougald, c) Eastern Shell (i), and d) Fuel Marketer (i) before ending its days as the barge f) Alfred Cytacki. It never operated while named e) Western Shell from 1970 to 1971.
Updates - May 6
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.
HARVEY D. GOULDER entered service on May 6, 1906.
On May 6, 1934, 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 bark 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.
This year’s Operation Taconite comes to a close
5/5 - Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. – On Monday at 9 a.m., the commander of the U.S. Coast Guard Sector Sault Ste. Marie concluded the domestic ice breaking effort known as Operation Taconite. With ice throughout the western Great Lakes nearly melted, ice breaking in support of commercial navigation is no longer required.
During the 122 days of the 2015 domestic ice breaking operation (02 Jan-04 May), Op Taconite resources (7 USCG cutters and 3 Canadian CG ships) delivered 3,181 hours of ice breaking to assist 677 vessel transits; 353 of these transits (200 US, 145 Canadian and 8 foreign-flagged vessels) required direct icebreaking assistance.
Ice breaking resources spent an additional 3,568 hours establishing and maintaining tracks in the ice-choked waterways of Georgian Bay, Straits of Mackinac, Green Bay, southern Lake Michigan, St Marys River and Lake Superior in its entirety.
It is estimated more than 23 million tons of dry bulk and liquid cargoes, valued at $829 million U.S., were shipped during the 122 days of the ice breaking operation. These commodities were crucial to sustaining industrial production and power generation for the Great Lakes region during the winter.
Port Reports - May 5
Marquette, Mich. – Rod Burdick
Lorain, Ohio – Phil Leon
Buffalo, N.Y. – Brian W
Thomas Rayburn joins LCA as Director of Environmental and Regulatory Affairs
5/5 - Cleveland, Ohio – Thomas Rayburn has joined Lake Carriers’ Association in the newly-created position of Director of Environmental and Regulatory Affairs. Rayburn is well-versed in the economic and environmental benefits of Great Lakes shipping, having spent a number of years with the Great Lakes Commission and the U.S. Coast Guard’s Ninth District.
“I am very pleased to welcome Tom to the LCA team,” said James H.I. Weakley, President of the Association. “The challenges facing the industry right now are significant, and how we resolve issues such as regulation of ballast water and restoring ports and waterways to their proper depth will decide the future of Great Lakes shipping. Tom brings not only deep knowledge of our industry to the table, but also that important ability to achieve a balance between economic and environmental considerations.”
Prior to joining LCA, Rayburn was Program Manager for EnSafe Inc. Before that he spent seven years with the Great Lakes Commission, rising to Senior Project Manager, and a year as Assistant Branch Chief, Marine Safety Response for the U.S. Coast Guard’s Ninth District. He has over 25 years experience in government and industry consulting.
Rayburn received his Bachelor of Science degree in Geosciences from Purdue University. He has done post-graduate studies in Environmental Science and Engineering at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Author John Henry to speak at National Museum luncheon
5/5 - Toledo, Ohio – On Saturday, May 9, John Henry, author of “The Great White Fleet: Celebrating Canada Steamship Lines Passenger Ships,” will speak at the National Museum of the Great Lakes Annual Luncheon in Toledo. Henry has had a long career in journalism matched only by his interest in passenger boats on the Great Lakes. The luncheon will be held at the Park Inn in Toledo starting at 11:30 a.m. Reservations are required and can be made by contacting Ben at 419-214-5000 extension 204. Cost including lunch is $35 for general public and $25 for museum members.
More photos needed for BoatNerd AIS
We are continuing to upgrade the Ais.BoatNerd.Com system, replacing failed hardware and expanding the number of receivers. Photos are needed of the following vessels for use on the BoatNerd AIS ship tracking site. They typically show up in the following areas:
Gulf of St. Lawrence:
Havre Saint Pierre:
We are also in need of photos of any of the following small vessels that frequently show up on the AIS site in summer months, as well as Canadian search and rescue boats on lakes Ontario and Erie whale-watching boats based out of Tadoussac and Baie Sainte Catherine.
Thanks to Viktor Kackowski, Rob Farrow, Mike Garza, Rene Beauchamp, Jacques Gauthier, Mike Wolowich, Gord Campbell, Mac Mackay, Roger LeLievre and others for generously responding to our first request.
Please submit any photos to firstname.lastname@example.org
Obituary: Captain Richard James
5/5 - Captain Richard James, of Toronto, has dropped his final anchor. More then just a harbor sailor, he will be missed by all of his Great Lakes friends.
Lookback #534 – Former Jalavihar aground in Red Sea on May 5, 1978
Jalavihar was built at Vizagatapuram, India, and completed for the Scindia Navigation Co. on June 22, 1954. The 476 foot long by 58 foot wide general cargo carrier first came through the Seaway in 1966.
The Scindia Line freighters were frequently seen around the Great Lakes. Beginning in 1963, they sent 48 different “Jala” ships through the Seaway and they continued to send new vessels to our shores as late at 1986.
Jalavihar was sold to Greek interests and renamed Marilion in 1971 and then resold and renamed Kalavria in 1973. The final name of Katerina was acquired in 1974.
The ship was passing through the Red Sea when it ran aground off Kamaran Island on May 5, 1978. While released, it was evident that there was considerable damage and the 24-year-old freighter went to Palermo, Italy, arriving for inspection on May 22, 1978.
The news was not good and the ship was declared a total loss. The hull was taken to Piraeus, Greece, and laid up there until sold to Yugoslavian shipbreakers. It arrived at Split on Sept. 25, 1978, and was dismantled by Brodospas.
Today in Great Lakes History - May 5
May 5, 1904 the Crisp Point Light on Lake Superior went into service.
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 Montreal on 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.
Coast Guard assists 2 kayakers from Detroit River
5/4 - Cleveland, Ohio - The Coast Guard rescued two kayakers from the Detroit River after they were overturned by a wake from a large vessel Saturday.
The names of the individuals rescued are not being released by the Coast Guard.
At about 10 a.m. the kayakers, neither wearing lifejackets, were paddling in the Detroit River when they were over taken by a large vessel, and the vessel's wake overturned the kayak and caused the kayakers to enter the water. The individuals swam to the seawall in front of Coast Guard Station Belle Isle. One of the individuals self rescued and the other was pulled out of the water by the officer of the day.
Station Belle Isle personnel notified emergency medical services, which responded and treated the people for symptoms related to hypothermia. EMS released the individuals after treatment.
The Coast Guard reminds boaters of the importance of wearing lifejackets because an emergency situation similar to what the kayakers faced can happen at any time. Had these kayakers not been in the vicinity of Station Belle Isle, this emergency situation could have turned out much worse.
Port Reports - May 4
Lookback #533 – Former Broriver caught fire in the Atlantic on May 4, 1968
The Swedish freighter Broriver made nine trips through the Seaway in 1965 and 1966. The vessel was sailing under its third name at the time, having been built at Malmo, Sweden, as Naboland in 1946. The 423 foot long freighter was strengthened for work in ice and had side tanks for vegetable oil, making it a handy carrier in the post World War Two era. It became b) Nyland in 1955, c) Broriver in 1964 and d) Thalia late in 1966. The latter was under Greek registry when a fire broke out in the engine room while on a voyage from Hsingkang, China to Marseilles, France, on May 4, 1968. The blaze was soon out of control and the crew abandoned ship on May 5 in a position recorded as 3.60 N / 11.40 W. The hull was taken in tow by the Capital Trader, taken to Dakar, Senegal, and left at the anchorage, eight miles off the port, at the insistence of the local authorities. The gutted vessel was beyond economic repair. It later sank at anchorage, underlining the wisdom of the local authorities who did not want it anywhere near their port.
Capital Trader, a deep-sea tanker, was originally the Dovrefjell, part of the Fjell Line of Olsen & Ugelstad. While the latter sent numerous ships to the Great Lakes, this one was too large to visit our shores. It dated from 1961 and arrived at Kaohsiung, Taiwan, as c) Aigle D'Or for scrapping on June 19, 1978.
Updates - May 4
Today in Great Lakes History - May 4
On May 4, 1958, 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, 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.
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.
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.
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
Toronto, Ont. – Chris Kelly
Five things going on this season with Muskegon's S.S. Milwaukee Clipper
5/3 - Muskegon, Mich. – The S.S. Milwaukee Clipper isn't cutting across Michigan anymore, but it still stays busy. One of only two National Historic Landmarks in Muskegon – the other one is the U.S.S. Silversides submarine – the 110-year-old ferry is owned, preserved and operated by a nonprofit board in Muskegon. It's a floating display, museum and archives dedicated to the history of passenger ships on the Great Lakes.
Here's some news about what's going on with the Milwaukee Clipper this season:
1. Work continues to find a different location for the Clipper. The 361-foot, six-deck Great Lakes ferry right now sits on the Grand Trunk Dock at the foot of McCracken Street in the Lakeside Business District, but it's always supposed to have been a temporary berth. Muskegon County officials earlier this year were not upbeat about the chances of putting the ship at Heritage Landing in Downtown Muskegon. But S.S. Milwaukee Clipper Preservation, Inc. board member Jim Plant says the work continues to find a different place for the Clipper.
"We'd rather not be a stand-alone object," he said. He thinks the Clipper has much to offer in terms of tourism, or even as a meeting space or venue for events.
"Basically, Muskegon's next industry is tourism, and we think we could be a part of that," he said.
The nonprofit group that owns the ship continues to explore other avenues for re-location. "We've got a good, strong board now," Plant said.
2. How's this for a field trip? Plant reports that a school class from the Milwaukee area plans to travel to Muskegon May 1 on the current Milwaukee-Muskegon ferry service, the Lake Express, and then tour the Milwaukee Clipper in Muskegon before returning home. The Express and the Clipper ought to make for an interesting comparison. Plant will open up the Clipper before its regularly-scheduled season just for the students' field trip.
3. The book published last year about the Clipper's history recently got some love. The illustrated history of the ship was reviewed in the Spring 2015 edition of PowerShips magazine, published by the Steamship Historical Society of America.
"This is a beautiful book in two ways," reviewer William A. Fox wrote. "First, co-author Dr. Steven S. Demos, through his work with computer graphics has made the graphic presentation wonderful, including the enhancement of the photographs. Second, it is the beautiful work of the many volunteers of S.S. Milwaukee Clipper Preservation, Inc., through the pen of Marylouise Plant, bringing their affection for the ship to life through these pages."
4. An upcoming fund-raising event. The Clipper will hold a Country Club Brunch and benefit auctions Sunday, May 17 at the Muskegon Country Club, 2801 Lakeshore Drive. The Country Club Brunch will be held 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Live and silent auctions will be held from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. A Love Muskegon basket will be raffled off. Tickets to the auction and brunch are available for $30 and can be purchased by calling 231-722-2375 or 231-744-5101.
5. Upcoming season schedule. Tours of the Clipper will be held 1-5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Admission is $7 for adults and $5 for students. Children under the age of 5 are admitted free. Tours take 60-90 minutes and cover four of the ship's six decks.
Muskegon Chronicle / MLive T
Door County shipwrecks nominated for preservation
5/3 - Two shipwrecks off the shores of Door County are nominated for state and national historic preservation. The nomination will be considered at the Wisconsin Historic Preservation Review Board Meeting on May 8 in Janesville, Wis.
The Success near Sevastopol and the Hanover near Gibraltar may join the list of about 2,300 places in Wisconsin deemed worthy of preservation for their historical significance. The National Park Service maintains the list nationally and the Wisconsin Historical Society (WHS) on the state level.
“Right now they’re protected under the Abandoned Shipwrecks Act,” said Tamara Thomsen, underwater archaeologist for the WHS. The act transfers title of the wreck to the state, making the site a public resource while preventing divers from salvaging the remains. “If it’s on the register, it gives federal level of protection, so should someone loot the wreck or damage it, then it gives us some application of the law to be able to keep it nice for future generations.”
The Maritime Trails division of the WHS tracks maritime culture and history, including a detailed list of all shipwrecks in the state. Six other shipwrecks in Door County are recognized on the register for historical preservation. Fifteen sites across the entire Green Bay area, including Marinette, Oconto, Brown, Door and Kewaunee counties, are also on the register.
Thomsen wrote the nomination for the Hanover after DNR Conservation Warden Mike Neal discovered the site while investigating an incident with a boat running into a shoal near the Strawberry Islands.
“They noticed that there was a wreckage in the area so he went to our database and there was nothing in the vicinity that was reported as a known shipwreck so we made plans to come up and take a look at what he had found. We went out and did a preliminary investigation and determined it matched the measurements of a vessel that was lost in the vicinity that was known as the Hanover,” said Thomsen.
At the time of the wreck, the waters near Gibraltar were uncharted. When the charts came out and named an area near Chambers Island to be Hanover Shoal, researchers assumed it was named after the sunken Hanover. But divers were unable to find it.
“In fact [the Hanover] is further east of there on the reefs south of the Strawberry Island chain,” said Thomsen.
The Success was built locally in Manitowoc and used in the lumber trade before sinking in Whitefish Bay while waiting out a storm. The Success was a scow-schooner, an “everyman’s” boat according to Thomsen.
“You didn’t have to have a whole lot of understanding of shipbuilding. They used to say, ‘If you could build a barn, you could build a scow’,” said Thomsen. This fact makes every scow-schooner slightly different, adding to their importance in understanding historical shipbuilding.
Thomsen believes that both the Success and the Hanover were buried until the past few years. Shifting sands caused by significant changes in lake levels caused the ships to be unearthed. Being buried in sand, the ships were not eroded or tampered with. The Success is still almost entirely intact.
“It’s sort of this Pompeii experience,” said Thomsen. “If you could salvage the ship machinery you could use it on another ship. So this ship must have been swallowed by the sand because there’s lots of pieces of machinery with it.”
Every time a ship came into port for repairs or to drop off cargo, the local newspaper reported it. The WHS combed through these records to get an idea for what was lost and when. If the society is notified of a wreck, they are able to reference this record to verify that they found the right ship.
In order for a shipwreck to be recognized as a state and national historic site, it must satisfy two criteria: the wreck has to further the understanding of historic shipbuilding and contribute to the broader history of Wisconsin. Shipwrecks do this by providing information on the cargo that was shipped and the people that participated in this maritime activity.
“They’re time capsules that went down with everything that would have been aboard at the time of sinking,” said Thomsen. “It gives us this glimpse of a brief point of time in history.”
If the state review board approves the nominations, they nominate the sites to the National Park Service. If a site is approved at the state level, it is usually approved at the national level as well.
The State Historic Preservation Review Board Meeting will take place at the Rock County Historical Society in Janesville on May 8.
Door County Pulse
Lookback #532 – Fire aboard Scotia II at Sarnia on May 3, 1982
The rail car carrier Scotia II was built in England in 1915 and crossed the Atlantic, in wartime, under her own power. They ran out of coal en route and had rip out interior woodwork for burning to maintain steam pressure on what must have been a harrowing journey.
Scotia II served across the Strait of Canso connecting Nova Scotia railroads to those on Cape Breton Island. This work continued until the Canso Causeway was built making its final trip on May 14, 1955.
The ship then served as a stand-by ship for service to Prince Edward Island but, in later years, was idle at Summerside, PEI.
The Canadian National Railway transferred the ship to the Great Lakes and it was upbound in the Welland Canal in Dec. 1968 for new work between Windsor and Detroit. These plans failed to materialize as the ship was too wide for the apron at Detroit and too high for the dock at Windsor.
Following modifications at Port Weller Dry Docks, Scotia II saw some service as a barge between Sarnia and Port Huron. It was at the former port when fire broke out in the old officers quarters on May 3, 1982. The damage was cleaned up but the area was not restored before the ship resumed service. It later carried oversized loads and is believed to have made its last run on April 4, 1995.
Scotia II was sold to McKeil Marine and towed to Hamilton in May 1996. It was reported at Amherstburg, Ont., in 2003-2004 and is believed to have been broken up for scrap at that location.
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.
Port Reports - May 2
St. Marys River
Port Huron, Mich. – Frank Frisk
Oshawa, Ont. – Andre Blanchard
Toronto, Ont. – Bill Bird
Worldwide ore trade in slump due to slowdown in Chinese demand
5/2 - New York, N.Y. – The worst start to a year for ships hauling iron ore since at least 2000 has gotten so bad that rates no longer cover crew costs. Now for the bad news.
China, whose demand for iron ore grew the most over the past decade, will consume less steel on an annual basis for the first time since 1995, the World Steel Association says. That’s a sign to Morgan Stanley that the economy’s need for imported ore cargoes will drop, something that last happened in 2010, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
“What we see clearly is a significant slowdown in Chinese demand,” Fotis Giannakoulis, a New York-based shipping analyst at the bank, said by phone April 29. “The next 18 months, they look very difficult.”
A record expansion over the past half-decade in the global fleet of Capesize vessels flooded the market, leaving some of the 1,000-foot vessels earning $22 a day less than crew salaries on global trade routes. The same carriers earned about $230,000 a day back in 2008 when rates reached a record.
Capesize ships are the largest cargo ships; ships which are too large to transit the Suez Canal (Suezmax limits) or Panama Canal (Panamax limits), and so have to pass either the Cape of Good Hope or Cape Horn to traverse between oceans.
Capesizes earned $3,211 a day on May 1, according to one of two global prices published by the Baltic Exchange, a London- based provider of freight rates. The ships need $3,233 to pay crews, according to data from Moore Stephens, a U.K.-based consultant that tracks the industry’s expenses.
Freight rates vary across routes and vessels can also earn more money on long-term charters, according to Erik Nikolai Stavseth, an analyst at Arctic Securities ASA in Oslo.
China imported an average of 75.7 million metric tons a month of iron ore in the first quarter, about 2 percent more than a year earlier, customs data show. The nation’s purchases of seaborne cargoes this year will decrease by 3 million tons to 927 million, Morgan Stanley estimates. That drop is the equivalent of about 20 Capesize cargoes.
Steel use in China, which accounts for about two in every three iron-ore cargoes, will drop 0.5 percent to 707.2 million tons in 2015 and 703.7 million tons next year, the World Steel Association estimates. Dry-bulk ships carry more iron ore than any other commodity.
“This is extremely negative for Capesize demand,” Eirik Haavaldsen, an analyst at Pareto Securities AS in Oslo, said by phone April 28. “You’re still going to see fleet growth exceeding demand growth if this is the new scenario and then rates will not move from the current levels.”
The optimistic scenario is that iron-ore markets are so bad that China’s higher-cost domestic miners may be more vulnerable to weaker steel consumption than international suppliers, according to Clarkson Plc, the biggest shipbroker. The company estimates a 6 percent increase in cargoes to the country, down from 8 percent growth it anticipated at the end of last year.
While benchmark iron-ore prices have rallied 19 percent from their trough April 2, they’re still 65 percent below the peak reached in 2013, Metal Bulletin data show.
China’s domestically mined ore, typically lower-quality than international supplies, will drop by the equivalent of 50 million to 55 million tons of international-standard ore in 2015, Colin Hamilton, the head of commodities research at Macquarie Group Ltd. in London, said by phone April 29. Most or all of the missing supply will be replaced by seaborne imports, he said.
“The low-cost producers are based in Brazil and Australia so those ones could potentially replace your Chinese domestic second-tier iron ore producers,” Henriette van Niekerk, head of dry bulk analysis at Clarkson, said by phone April 24.
The slump in rates will also hasten demolition, curbing the growth that caused the slump. As much as 6 percent of the world’s fleet could be removed this year while owners are also idling ships, according to Charles Rupinski, an analyst who follows shipping for Global Hunter Securities LLC in New York.
The portents from China and the iron-ore market are not encouraging. The nation’s economy will grow 7 percent this year, its weakest pace since 1990, according to the average of 66 economists surveyed by Bloomberg.
“The dry bulk market needs a faster growth environment from China,” Stavseth, the analyst at Arctic, said by phone April 30. “Do you believe in China? If the answer is no, then I say forget it.”
Lookback #531 – N.K. Fairbank went aground west of Port Colborne on May 2, 1893
The wooden steamer N.K. Fairbank was en route from Chicago to Ogdensburg, NY with 50,000 bushels of corn when it went aground off Morgan's Point on May 2, 1893. A combination of fog plus smoke led to the ship wandering off course.
A fire broke out in the forecastle of the marooned freighter and the vessel was abandoned before the ship was consumed to the waterline. The burned out hull was sold for $625.00, refloated and brought to Port Colborne where the corn was sold to area farmers at 20 cents per bushel for animal feed.
The wreck was towed to Buffalo and laid up before being rebuilt as b) Eliza H. Strong in 1899. This latter vessel lasted until a fire on Lake Huron on Oct. 26, 1904, and it sank the next day in a storm. The remains were dynamited and machinery removed. What was left lies on the bottom as part of the Sanilac Shores Underwater Preserve.
The 220 foot long N.K. Fairbank was built at Marine City, MI. The financial panic of 1873 delayed completion until 1874 and the ship saw early service in the lumber and bulk trades. It was equipped with sails as well as a double low-pressure steam engine.
Updates - May 2
News Photo Gallery
Today in Great Lakes History - May 2
A total of 60 ore boats departed Cleveland between March 31 and April 2 to start the 1948 shipping season.
On 02 April 1900, the JOHN MINER (wooden 3-mast schooner, 134 foot, 273 gross tons, built in 1866, at Detroit, Michigan as a bark) was purchased by S. R. Chamberlain from Frank Higgie for $800. She only lasted until 19 October 1902, when she was lost in a storm on Lake Huron.
On April 2, 1951, CLIFFS VICTORY was towed, bound for New Orleans, Louisiana, with her deck houses, stack, propeller, rudder and above deck fittings stored on or below her spar deck for bridge clearance. She was outfitted with two 120-foot pontoons, which were built at the Baltimore yard, that were attached to her hull at the stern to reduce her draft to eight feet for passage in the shallow sections of the river/canal system.
LEON FALK JR. was launched April 2, 1945, as a.) WINTER HILL, a T2-SE-Al, World War II, a single-screw fuel tanker for U.S. Maritime Commission.
CLIFFORD F. HOOD was launched April 2, 1902, as the straight deck bulk freighter a.) BRANSFORD for the Bransford Transit Co., (W. A. Hawgood, mgr.).
SENATOR OF CANADA sailed under her own power on April 2, 1985, to Toronto, Ontario, where she was put into ordinary next to her fleet mate the QUEDOC. She was scrapped in Venezuela in 1986.
WHEAT KING was lengthened by an addition of a 172 foot 6 inch mid-section (Hull #61) and received a 1,000 h.p. bowthruster. This work reportedly cost $3.8 million Canadian and was completed on April 2, 1976.
On April 2, 1953, the straight deck bulk freighter J. L. MAUTHE (Hull#298) of the Great Lakes Engineering Works entered service for Interlake Steamship Co. She operates currently for Interlake as the self-unloading barge PATHFINDER.
April 2, 1975 - The State of Michigan filed a Federal Court suit to stop the Grand Trunk Railway from selling the GRAND RAPIDS. It was felt that selling the ferry would build a stronger case for abandonment of the entire ferry service.
On 2 April 1874, A. H. HUNTER (wooden propeller tug, 58 foot, 28 gross tons) was launched at Saginaw, Michigan. She was built for Donnelly & Clark of Saginaw by Wheeler. The engine was built by Bartlett & Co. of Saginaw. Her boiler and some other equipment were from the almost new tug KATY REID that burned at Salzburg, Michigan in October 1873.
1976: WHEAT KING was refloated at Port Weller Dry Docks. It had arrived on December 12, 1975, and was lengthened to 730 feet over the winter. The ship would only sail six years with the new dimensions and was retired at the end of the 1981 season.
Data from: Skip Gillham, Joe Barr, Dave Swayze, Jody Aho, Russ Plumb, Ahoy & Farewell II, Father Dowling Collection and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series
Port Reports - May 1
Marquette, Mich. – Rod Burdick
Saginaw, Mich. – Todd Shorkey
Toledo, Ohio – Jim Hoffman
With mine layoffs coming, Iron Rangers prepare for hard times
5/1 - Every year, Doug Ellis sells hundreds of pairs of expensive steel-toed boots to miners, and a lot of hunting rifles.
"My business is built on mining money," said Ellis, who owns the Virginia Surplus sporting goods store. "It's what drives all these towns."
Ellis has operated the store in Virginia for 25 years, through three downturns in the mining industry.
People on the Iron Range are used to the booms and busts of the cyclical mining industry. But the latest downturn has Ellis and many others worried. They're bracing for the impending layoffs of 1,100 mineworkers later this spring. The job losses likely will significantly affect a regional economy that relies heavily on mining.
The loss of 1,100 jobs on the Iron Range might not seem like much compared to the 3,100 jobs that Target eliminated in the Twin Cities last month.
But in a region where mining makes up about 30 percent of the economy, the impact of the layoffs is enormous, said John Arbogast, vice president of the United Steelworkers union Local 1938 at Minntac in Mountain Iron.
"On the Iron Range, mining is everything," Arbogast said.
U.S. Steel has announced that it will lay off 700 employees from Minntac, the largest taconite producer in the state. About 400 workers at its Keetac mine in Keewatin also will lose their jobs.
That's nearly one-fourth of the 4,500 mining jobs on the Iron Range — jobs that on average pay more than $80,000, according to officials with the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board.
"This isn't the Twin Cities. This is all we have, and they're good paying jobs," Arbogast said. "And these are hard-working people. They love living here. They love the fishing, the hunting — everything that comes with living on the Iron Range."
The miners aren't the only ones affected by the job cuts. A 2012 University of Minnesota Duluth study commissioned by the state and industry groups estimated that every mining job on the Range creates nearly two spinoff jobs.
That includes jobs at companies that service and supply the mining industry directly, as well as many in the region's restaurants, gas stations and retail stores.
Virginia is one of the largest of the nearly 20 small towns that line the Iron Range, second only to Hibbing. But the population of both has dropped by more than 4 percent since 2000.
Local residents and leaders hope the trend doesn't continue. But Virginia — surrounded on three sides by huge open pit mines — has long depended on those operations.
"When the mines catch a cold, we all catch pneumonia," Ellis said. "Everybody is impacted; nobody is exempt."
On the Iron Range, where people are hardened to the traditional boom and bust cycle, his attitude is typical.
"We're a resilient bunch, and anytime times are really tough, we always seem to find four wheel drive, dig ourselves out of the mud hole, and move on," Ellis said.
But some say the latest downturn seems different from the last one in 2009, when U.S. Steel also laid off about 1,000 workers, said Arbogast, the iron worker. John Arbogast of the steelworkers union local Dan Kraker | MPR News
"In '09, everything was down, it was recession; you could feel it coming," Arbogast said. "Now America's doing great, unemployment is at record, low-type levels, everyone's doing well and we're the ones getting hit on this.
"So that's what makes it tough."
After the last downturn, the global price of iron ore soared to over $190 a ton in 2011. In recent months, it has dropped to about $50 a ton.
The lower prices largely stem from decreased demand for steel in China, which until recently seemed to have a seemingly insatiable appetite for iron ore to produce steel, said Andrew Lane, an analyst for Morningstar.
"We've seen lower demand from China, and China consumes about half the world's steel," Lane said. "So as goes Chinese demand for both steel and iron ore, so go steel and iron ore prices on a global basis."
Lane said a global oversupply of iron ore and steel also is hurting Minnesota's taconite operations. The world's three largest iron ore miners ramped up production in the past decade, largely to meet Chinese demand they assumed would stay strong.
The strong U.S. dollar has also encouraged a surge in foreign steel imports into the United States, one of the few places where demand for steel is strong. Minnesota politicians allege that steel companies owned by foreign governments are illegally dumping the steel, or selling it in the United States for less than it costs them to produce.
"These things have come together in a perfect storm," said Tony Barrett, an economist at the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth.
While some analysts predict the price of iron ore will drop further, Barrett thinks Minnesota's taconite iron ore industry will stabilize, for one simple reason.
"The world needs steel," he said. "I see the demand for steel recovering, and with that the demand for taconite."
The question everyone is asking on the Iron Range is when. Locals say if workers are only out of jobs for three to four months, the effect of the layoffs won't be too bad.
For Keewatin Mayor Bill King, however, every layoff and every closed business takes its toll.
"It just seems like a small part of the town dies away. Each time," King said. "You know, you lose this business, or a couple citizens move away, so it's hard, it's hard to watch."
Minnesota Public Radio News T
Lookback #530 – Celtic sank following a collision on May 1, 1892
Celtic was a wooden passenger and freight steamer that dated from 1874. It had been launched at Hamilton on May 6 that year and originally operated on Lake Ontario from Toronto, Hamilton and St. Catharines, down the St. Lawrence to Montreal.
The 140 foot long ship was chartered on occasion to supply government lighthouses and also saw extended service in the 1880s between Montreal and Chicago. Cargoes varied and were known to include nails, blasting powder, prefab sections of an aqueduct, grain as well as various other general cargo items.
On Aug. 8, 1889, Celtic struck a yacht in the Burlington Canal cutting the pleasure boat in two.
The final voyage was from Fort William to Kingston with wheat and general cargo. Celtic encountered thick fog on Lake Erie 123 years ago today and was in a collision with the steamer Russia. The accident sank the Celtic east of Rondeau on May 1, 1892, but the crew remained calm and abandoned the ship with only one life lost.
Russia was beached and eventually patched, refloated and towed to Buffalo for repairs.
Updates - May 1
News Photo Gallery
Today in Great Lakes History - May 1
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.
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.
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