Great Lakes & Seaway Shipping News Archive

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Port Reports -  September 30

Lorain, Ohio – Phil Leon
Manitowoc arrived an unloaded at the Jonick Dock on Monday.

Several ships were secured to all the lower and upper walls at Snell and Eisenhower Locks Sunday night and Monday. The Tecumseh was moored at Eisenhower upper wall, the Isa was at Eisenhower lower wall, the Juno was at the Snell upper wall and the Baie St. Paul was at Snell lower wall. Reports indicate a problem with one of the lock gates at Eisenhower. Baie St. Paul requested a report on the problem and no information was given.


Obituary: Nathaniel Barrett Smith

9/30 - Thorold, Ont. – Nathaniel Barrett Smith, well known to visitors of Lock 7 at the Welland Canal, died Sept. 26. Barrett, who built the part of his home overlooking the lock to resemble the forward superstructure of the passenger liner Keewatin and who was known to fly the flags of the fleets passing by his home, will be missed by extended family and friends. He was a proud and long-time supporter of the Welland Canal and BoatNerd, and attended many Welland Canal gatherings. Cremation has been requested, and there will be a remembrance and celebration of his life mid-October.


Lookback #317 – Greek Liberty ship Protostatis went aground in Lake Ontario on Sept. 30, 1965

The second time that the Greek Liberty ship Protostatis came through the Seaway would be its last. All had gone well until 49 years ago today, when the vessel ran aground on Traverse Shoal, Lake Ontario, while outbound from Detroit to Genoa, Italy, with a cargo of scrap.

The 441 foot, 6 inch long vessel had been built at Jacksonville, Fla., and launched as John Philip Sousa on July 4, 1943. The vessel had immediate problems due to grease fouling the boiler water and, on the second trip, 13 buckets of grease were removed from one boiler that had been there as a protective coat when it was shipped from the factory. The busy shipyard personnel forgot to clean it out.

In 1946, this ship was sold and registered in Honduras as Erato and, in 1954, it became Taxiarchis. A sale to Greek interests in 1960 led to the final name of Protostatis.

The lighter Mapleheath removed some cargo from Protostatis in October 1965 and the ship was refloated with the aid of tugs. They moved to a sheltered area off Kingston and the cargo was reloaded enabling Protostatis to head for the sea. It did not get far and stranded again, this time off Wolfe Island, on Nov. 16, 1965, and remained stuck until January 1966. By then ice had formed around the ship and the retired Keyshey was brought out from Kingston to lighter some cargo to enable Protostatis to float again. They went to Toronto to reload and finish the winter. Pumps were needed to keep the ship seaworthy while in port.

Come spring Protostatis was towed down the Seaway and then overseas to Valencia, Spain, arriving at the latter port for scrapping on July 5, 1966.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  September 30

News Photo Gallery


Today in Great Lakes History -  September 30

On September 30, 1896, SUMATRA (wooden schooner-barge, 204 foot, 845 gross tons, built in 1874, at Black River, Ohio) was loaded with railroad rails in tow of the steamer B.W. ARNOLD in a storm on Lake Huron. The SUMATRA was blown down and foundered off the Government Pier at Milwaukee. Three of the crew was lost. The four survivors were rescued by the ARNOLD and the U.S. Lifesaving Service. The SUMATRA was owned by the Mills Transportation Company.

The 660-foot forward section of the BELLE RIVER (Hull#716) was side launched on September 30, 1976, at Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, by Bay Shipbuilding Co. Renamed b.) WALTER J. McCARTHY, JR. in 1977.

ARTHUR SIMARD entered service on September 30, 1973, sailing to Montreal, Quebec, to load gasoline.

GOVERNOR MILLER was towed down the Welland Canal on September 30, 1980, in tow of TUG MALCOLM, STORMONT and ARGUE MARTIN on her way to Quebec City.

ROBERT C. STANLEY departed light on her maiden voyage from River Rouge, Michigan, on September 30, 1943, bound for Two Harbors, Minnesota, to load iron ore.

On September 30, 1986, the Canadian Coast Guard vessel CARIBOU ISLE struck a rock in Lake Huron's North Channel and began taking on water. C.C.G.S. SAMUEL RISLEY arrived and helped patch the ship. The pair then departed for Parry Sound, Ontario.

On September 30, 1888, AUSTRALIA (wooden schooner, 109 foot, 159 gross tons, built in 1862, at Vermilion, Ohio) was carrying cedar posts from Beaver Island to Chicago when she encountered a gale. She was laid on beam ends and sprung a leak. She headed for shelter at Holland, Michigan, but struck a bar and foundered in the mouth of the harbor. The wreck blocked the harbor until it was removed on October. 5 Her crew was rescued by the U.S. Lifesaving Service.

On September 30, 1875, AMERICAN CHAMPION (wooden scow-schooner, 156 tons, built in 1866, at Trenton, Michigan) dropped anchor to ride out a gale near Leamington, Ontario, on Lake Erie. The chains gave way and she struck a bar and sank to the gunwales. The crew of eight spent the night in the rigging and the next day a local woman and her two sons heroically rescued each one.

1906: The first FAYETTE BROWN ran into the pier entering Lorain, became disabled and stranded on the beach. The ship was refloated with considerable damage. It last operated as c) GLENMOUNT in 1923 and was scrapped about 1928.

1913: CITY OF LONDON sank off Point Pelee, Lake Erie after a collision with the JOE S. MORROW. The hull was later dynamited as an obstacle to navigation.

1964: DUNDRUM BAY was a pre-Seaway visitor to the Great Lakes on charter to the Hall Corporation. The vessel was driven aground on this date as f) ESITO near Necochea, Argentina, while traveling in ballast. The hull broke in two and was a total loss.

1965: PROTOSTATIS, a Greek Liberty ship, went aground on Traverse Shoal, Lake Ontario, while enroute from Detroit to Genoa, Italy, with a cargo of scrap. The vessel was lightered and refloated with the aid of tugs. It went to Kingston to anchor and reload in the shelter of Wolfe Island.

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


First Arctic cargo shipped through Northwest Passage

9/29 - Canadian arctic shipping firm Fednav’s new vessel MV Nunavik is in the midst of a historic journey as it becomes the first commercial vessel carrying a cargo of Arctic origins to make a full, unescorted transit of the Northwest Passage.

Designated with Polar Class 4, the 2014-built MV Nunavik is the most powerful conventional (non-nuclear) icebreaking bulk carrier in the world and will sail year round from Deception Bay in Northern Quebec, transporting product from the Canadian Royalties mine, Fednav says. On it’s current voyage, Nunavik will deliver 23,000 tons of nickel concentrate from Nunavik’s Deception Bay to Bayuquan in northern China.

To make the voyage, the MV Nunavik will be supported by a shore-based team of ice navigation specialists from Fednav and its subsidiary, Enfotec. The vessel will receive regular ice charts including real-time satellite imagery via Enfotec’s proprietary onboard ice-navigation system, IcenavTM.

The route to China via the Northwest Passage is some 40 percent shorter than the traditional Panama Canal route, which is estimated to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 1,300 tonnes, Fednav says.

“Fednav is proud to have designed this remarkable ship and to plan the first independent commercial voyage through the Northwest Passage,” said Paul Pathy, President and co-CEO of Fednav Limited. “It is through the extraordinary capabilities of the Fednav team, the ship’s crew, and its world-leading technology that we can undertake this journey with confidence.”

Follow the Nunavik on her journey through the Northwest Passage -



Lookback #316 – Former Eastern Friendship sank on Sept. 29, 1993

9/29 - Eastern Friendship, a Freedom Class cargo carrier, was a Seaway visitor for the first time in 1986. It had not been inland under its first two names of Grand Union and Young Soul after being built at Nagasaki, Japan, in 1971.

The 466 foot, 9 inch, long Liberian flag freighter was sold again in 1990 and renamed Tony Best. It had an inglorious finish to its 22-year career.

Tony Best stranded about 250 miles off the coast of Bangladesh on April 10, 1993. The ship was stuck in a remote area and was aground for four weeks with both food and fresh water running out. The Bangladesh Navy made a humanitarian drop of supplies to help the 23 Taiwanese and Burmese sailors who had been in danger of starving and had managed to radio for help.

The ship, on a voyage from China to Chittagong, was finally refloated on June 21, 1993, and made it to port. The vessel went to anchor near the Bhatiary Beaching site but, due to the strong river current, dragged anchor and went aground.

By September the ship was observed on the bottom at low tide and floating at high tide. In time the hull cracked, drifted away and sank in the Bay of Bengal 21-years ago today.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  September 29

News Photo Gallery


Today in Great Lakes History -  September 29

September 29, 1930, for the first time in the history of Pittsburgh Steamship Company, the boats of the fleet loaded more than one million tons in a seven-day period. The 64 Pittsburgh boats loaded 1,002,092 tons of cargo between 9/23 and 9/29.

The J. H. SHEADLE (Hull#22) of the Great Lakes Engineering Works, was launched September 29, 1906, for the Grand Island Steamship Co. (Cleveland-Cliffs Iron Co., Cleveland, Ohio, mgr.) Renamed b.) F. A. BAILEY in 1924, c.) LA SALLE in 1930. Sold Canadian in 1965, renamed d.) MEAFORD, and e.) PIERSON INDEPENDENT in 1979. She was scrapped at Santander, Spain, in 1980.

Henry Ford II, 70, of Grosse Pointe, Michigan, passed away on September 29, 1987. Mr. Ford's namesake was the Ford Motor Company self-unloader.

On September 29, 1986, the Polish tug KORAL left Lauzon, Quebec with the JOHN E. F. MISENER and GOLDEN HIND enroute to Cartagena / Mamonal, Columbia, for scrapping.

September 29, 1892 - The ANN ARBOR NO 1 was launched.

On 29 September 1872, ADRIATIC (3-masted wooden schooner-barge, 139 foot, 129 net tons, built in 1865, at Clayton, New York as a bark) was in tow of the tug MOORE along with three other barges in Lake Erie in a heavy gale. She became separated from the tow and foundered. The entire crew of 7 was lost. The wooden schooner DERRICK was used in salvage operations. On 29 September 1854, she had just positioned herself above the wreck of the steamer ERIE off Silver Creek, New York on Lake Erie when she went down in a gale. She had spent the summer trying to salvage valuables from the wreck of the steamer ATLANTIC.

On 29 September 1900, the steamer SAKIE SHEPARD was re-launched at Anderson's shipyard in Marine City. She had been thoroughly rebuilt there during the summer.

1974: J.A.Z. DESGAGNES and HAVRE ST. PIERRE collided while trying to pass on the St. Lawrence. The former often visited the Great Lakes but was scrapped in Croatia as e) A. LEGRAND in 2003-2004. The latter, originally a Dutch coastal vessel, worked on the St. Lawrence and around Eastern Canada but was deleted from Lloyds Register in 1999.

1982: ATLANTIC SUPERIOR went aground off Wellesley Island in the American Narrows of the St. Lawrence. This new member of the Canada Steamship Lines fleet was released October 1 and repaired at Thunder Bay. It was back on the Great Lakes in 2012.

EASTERN FRIENDSHIP first came to the Great Lakes in 1986. It had been stranded off the coast of Bangladesh as d) TONY BEST since April 10, 1993. While refloated on June 21, the anchors dragged on July 24 and the ship went aground again. The hull later cracked and the ship sank on this date in 1993.

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


Port Reports -  September 28

Buffalo, N.Y. – Brian W.
The Karen Andrie - Endevor tug-barge should be in port Saturday evening. This will be only the second time they have been to Buffalo/Tonawanda since they were originally paired up in 2009. English River departed Buffalo for Bath, Ont., around 6 Saturday morning. She was by Point Abino around 8:11 a.m. and headed for the Welland Canal. The American Mariner was still unloading at the Frontier Elevator Saturday morning; she cleared Buffalo, bound for Ashtabula around 3:30 p.m.

Toronto – Jens Juhl
The cruise ship Hamburg departed shortly after eight this past Friday evening bound for the Welland Canal. Starting in Montreal the ship is on the first of two Great Lakes 16 night, 10 ports of call cruises. The cruise ship is operated and managed by Bremen based Plantours Cruises. Previously the Hamburg cruised on the Great Lakes as Hapag-Lloyd Cruises' C. Columbus.

Seaway – Ron Beaupre
John B. Aird went to the dock at Johnstown to complete the inspection by the Lloyd's insurers before being allowed to sail, fully loaded, to Sept Iles. She she did not unload any cargo and was on an even keel.


Maumee River busy with new project, freighter action

9/28 - Toledo, Ohio – A busy week along the Maumee River saw one long-term project begin, one freighter become legally idled and another return to service after two years of idleness.

Sept. 17 saw the arrival of the former Bob-Lo ferry Columbia at the small drydock at Ironhead Shipyard, and the sailing of the lake freighter Adam E. Cornelius for the first time in more than two years.

Columbia, towed by the tugs Manitou and Capt. Keith, is the oldest surviving passenger steamer on the Great Lakes, and was used to ferry people from Detroit to the former amusement park on Boblo Island for many years. The five-deck steamer is at the center of a nonprofit project to refurbish her and return her to service, this time as a cruise boat on the Hudson River in New York.

Ironhead’s part of the project is to inspect the boat and make sure she is in good enough shape to tow to New York, which is expected to take place by next August, according to The Detroit Free Press.

Columbia, built in 1902 in Wyandotte, Michigan, was designed to carry more than 3,000 passengers on five decks, and included mahogany staircases and an open-air ballroom, a unique feature allowed for by a new framing system designed by marine architect Frank Kirby.

Columbia last sailed for Boblo Island in 1991; by then, competition from Cedar Point had become too much for the amusement park.

Columbia’s sister ship, Ste. Claire, briefly spent time in Toledo several years ago, with an eye toward restoration. Ste. Claire, also designed by Kirby, was built in Toledo but returned to her berth alongside Columbia in Ecorse, Michigan.

Both boats were given a cosmetic restoration for the filming of “Transformers: Age of Extinction.”

Another Toledo-built boat of more modern heritage sailed last week for the first time in more than two years.

American Steamship Co.’s lake freighter Adam E. Cornelius, idled just downriver from Ironhead, sailed Sept. 17. A reviving economy has created enough demand for iron ore and associated cargoes that Cornelius was needed.

Cornelius had been tied up since January 2012 at a piece of riverfront property along Front Street, owned by the shipping line.

Cornelius, a 680-foot, self-unloading bulk freighter, was built in Toledo and launched in 1973 as the Roger M. Kyes, the name she had until 1989. She is the largest ship to have been built in Toledo, and at the time of her launch was the first new vessel to have been built at the Toledo shipyard since 1959, according to the Great Lakes web site

The ship’s return to service has kept her busy operating between Lake Superior ports and, as of Sept. 24, a week since she sailed, she was in Lake Huron.

Finally, unpaid bills totaling $900,000 are still keeping an oceangoing freighter tied up at the Midwest Overseas Terminal on the Maumee. The freighter Fritz, registered in Liberia and with a Romanian crew, hasn’t been able to leave Toledo since arriving in August to drop off a load of steel coil.

This is the second time on the same trip the Fritz has encountered trouble, being detained for more than two weeks in Oshawa, Ontario, near Toronto after being towed there by tugs because of engine problems, according to the Oshawa Express newspaper.

She was repaired before being allowed to proceed to Toledo.

A port official who spoke to the Express in July said the Fritz, which was built in 2010, looked as though it had been “manufactured in 1910” because of its condition.

In photos taken of the Fritz by freighter fans in Toledo, the ship was showing considerable rust and wear on her hull.

There were also problems in July with the crew being paid, but the Oshawa paper cited a man claiming to be the Fritz’s captain who said that had been resolved after a new management company took over the ship.

The crew received assistance from churches in the Toronto area’s Romanian community, the Express reported.

Toledo Free Press


Lookback #315 – Frank R. Denton in a collision with Federal Schelde on Sept. 28, 1975

The Frank R. Denton lasted for 74 years, not bad for a replacement vessel. By all accounts, the ship would not have been built if it hadn’t been for the loss of the steamer William C. Moreland in 1910.

It was contracted to the American Steamship Co. and completed for the Interstate Steamship Co. as Thomas Walters in 1911. The shipyard workers made haste with this project and it took only 50 working days to move the new bulk carrier from keel to launch.

The maiden voyage commenced on May 12, 1911, when the ship loaded a cargo of coal at Sandusky, Ohio, for Duluth. It was in service before the ill-fated William C. Moreland could be refloated and repaired.

The Thomas Walters was managed by the Jones & Laughlin Steel Co. until coming under their banner in 1949. It moved to the Wilson Transit Co. when the J & L. fleet was sold in its entirety on Nov. 15, 1952. This ship was renamed Frank R. Denton the next year and sailed as such to the end.

In addition to the usual cargoes of coal and iron ore, the vessel also handled some grain and occasionally returned up the lakes with a deckload of new automobiles out of Detroit.

After only one trip in 1972, grain from Duluth to Buffalo, the ship joined Kinsman Marine Transit in 1973. Later that year, on Sept. 28, 1973, the Frank R. Denton and the first Federal Schelde were in a sideswipe collision in the St. Marys River. Fortunately, there was only minor damage to report on the accident of 41 years ago today.

While most of its trading was on the upper lakes, Frank R. Denton did venture east to Lake Ontario with 540,000 bushels of malted barley for Oswego and the Genessee Brewing Co. in October 1979.

The ship operated through the 1983 season and then laid up at Buffalo. It was towed to Ashtabula on Nov. 14, 1984, and moved to the cutting berth of Triad Salvage on Nov. 13, 1985. Scrapping began there the next day.

The pilothouse of the vessel was carefully removed and relocated as part of the Ashtabula Museum. The structure was rededicated in 2011 under the original name of Thomas Walters.

Federal Schelde had been completed in December 1967 and began Great Lakes trading the next year. It was a regular caller around the inland seas, even after becoming C. Mehmet in 1977. The vessel was delivered to Chinese shipbreakers at Shanghai on March 16, 1994.

Skip Gillham


Today in Great Lakes History -  September 28

September 29, 1930, for the first time in the history of Pittsburgh Steamship Company, the boats of the fleet loaded more than one million tons in a seven-day period. The 64 Pittsburgh boats loaded 1,002,092 tons of cargo between 9/23 and 9/29.

The J. H. SHEADLE (Hull#22) of the Great Lakes Engineering Works, was launched September 29, 1906, for the Grand Island Steamship Co. (Cleveland-Cliffs Iron Co., Cleveland, Ohio, mgr.) Renamed b.) F. A. BAILEY in 1924, c.) LA SALLE in 1930. Sold Canadian in 1965, renamed d.) MEAFORD, and e.) PIERSON INDEPENDENT in 1979. She was scrapped at Santander, Spain, in 1980.

Henry Ford II, 70, of Grosse Pointe, Michigan, passed away on September 29, 1987. Mr. Ford's namesake was the Ford Motor Company self-unloader.

On September 29, 1986, the Polish tug KORAL left Lauzon, Quebec with the JOHN E. F. MISENER and GOLDEN HIND enroute to Cartagena / Mamonal, Columbia, for scrapping.

September 29, 1892 - The ANN ARBOR NO 1 was launched.

On 29 September 1872, ADRIATIC (3-masted wooden schooner-barge, 139 foot, 129 net tons, built in 1865, at Clayton, New York as a bark) was in tow of the tug MOORE along with three other barges in Lake Erie in a heavy gale. She became separated from the tow and foundered. The entire crew of 7 was lost. The wooden schooner DERRICK was used in salvage operations. On 29 September 1854, she had just positioned herself above the wreck of the steamer ERIE off Silver Creek, New York on Lake Erie when she went down in a gale. She had spent the summer trying to salvage valuables from the wreck of the steamer ATLANTIC.

On 29 September 1900, the steamer SAKIE SHEPARD was re-launched at Anderson's shipyard in Marine City. She had been thoroughly rebuilt there during the summer.

1974: J.A.Z. DESGAGNES and HAVRE ST. PIERRE collided while trying to pass on the St. Lawrence. The former often visited the Great Lakes but was scrapped in Croatia as e) A. LEGRAND in 2003-2004. The latter, originally a Dutch coastal vessel, worked on the St. Lawrence and around Eastern Canada but was deleted from Lloyds Register in 1999.

1982: ATLANTIC SUPERIOR went aground off Wellesley Island in the American Narrows of the St. Lawrence. This new member of the Canada Steamship Lines fleet was released October 1 and repaired at Thunder Bay. It was back on the Great Lakes in 2012.

EASTERN FRIENDSHIP first came to the Great Lakes in 1986. It had been stranded off the coast of Bangladesh as d) TONY BEST since April 10, 1993. While refloated on June 21, the anchors dragged on July 24 and the ship went aground again. The hull later cracked and the ship sank on this date in 1993.

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


Algoma Navigator hits Port Robinson canal bank

9/27 - Welland, Ont. – A laker travelling through the Welland Canal was damaged Friday morning after striking one of the banks in Port Robinson.

Algoma Navigator made contact just past 7 a.m., St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp. spokesman Andrew Bogora said.

The ship continued south and tied up at Wharf 12, north of Lock 8 in Port Colborne.

Bogora said the vessel was tied up for inspection, but no liquids or fluids had been discharged into the water. He said a cause is still being determined. At the time of the incident, the area was under dense fog.

There is no visible damage to the ship, but there were unconfirmed reports that the vessel started taking on water. Calls placed to Algoma Central Corp. were not immediately returned.

Welland Tribune


John B. Aird arrives at drydock in Les Mechins

9/27 - John B. Aird arrived Verreault Navigation's drydock in Les Mechin, Quebec early Friday morning, presumably for repairs after recent grounding. Prior to arriving, Aird unloaded partial cargo of slag in Prescott and remainder in Sept. Iles.

Andy Torrence


Port Reports -  September 27

St. Marys River
The Soo Locks web cams, which had been down for repairs, have been returned to service.

Buffalo, N.Y. – Brian W
American Mariner was tied up and unloading at General Mills Friday afternoon, while English River was over at Lafarge.

Toronto, Ont. – Jens Juhl
The Hamburg (ex c. Columbus) arrived early Friday morning. The Bahamian-flagged 15,200 g.t. cruise ship is moored at the International Marine Passenger Terminal at Terminal 52. Just before noon the Hamburg took on bunkers from the Hamilton Energy.

Oshawa, Ont. – Andre Blanchard
The tug Omni-Richelieu left Hamilton and made its way to Oshawa, Ont., Friday to join its fleet mate La Prairie (currently stationed in Oshawa). This is usually the sign of an incoming ship, and a ship is most certainly on the way. The Panamanian flagged bulker Heloise is due to arrive in Oshawa around Sept. 28.


Calumet River coal storage site to shut down

9/27 - Chicago, Ill. – A company involved in legal skirmishes last year over piles of petroleum coke in Chicago has sold its facility, and a second company has been fined $50,000 for violating an order to stop handling coke and coal products, city officials said Thursday.

Indiana-based Beemsterboer Slag Corp. sold its site on the city’s southeast side earlier this month, company President Alan Beemsterboer said. The company in December agreed to remove piles of petcoke, a powdery black byproduct of oil refining, after the state sued the company for air quality and permit violations.

Calumet Transload Facility — a separate site owned by some members of the Beemsterboer family — was fined last week for continuing to handle metallurgical coke and coke products in violation of a cease-and-desist order from the city.

That company, permitted only to handle road salt, had 12,000 tons of metallurgical coke and coal products at the site and planned to bring in another 8,000 tons when the order was issued on Aug. 7, the city said, adding that the company violated the order for 10 days and attempted to bring in more truckloads, only to have them blocked by city personnel. The company has since removed the material.

Beemsterboer said the company already had an agreement with the city to remove the material before the order was issued. He said Calumet Transload now handles only salt.

The company’s troubles began last summer after residents complained about growing piles of petcoke, saying they feared potential health and environmental harm from dust that blew off the piles.

Associated Press


Three Brothers beached on South Manitou Island on Sept. 27, 1911

9/27 - The wooden steamer Three Brothers was built at Milwaukee in 1888. The 170 foot long, 583 gross ton vessel was designed for the lumber trade and initially operated as May Durr on a route between Pine Lake and Tonawanda, NY.

The vessel joined the John Spry Lumber Co. as John Spry in 1892 and the White Transportation Co. as Three Brothers in 1903. The ship became waterlogged and had to be beached, before it could sink, at South Manitou Island, Lake Michigan, 103 years ago today. The cargo of lumber was salvaged but the Three Brothers was left to rot. In time the hull was covered with sand but a remnant of the ship reappeared due to shifting sands in April 1996.

Skip Gillham


Today in Great Lakes History -  September 27

September 27, 1959: The West Neebish Channel, through which downbound traffic normally passes, was temporarily closed to permit dredging to the maximum Seaway depth of 27 feet. Two-way traffic was instituted in the Middle Neebish Channel until dredging was completed.

On 27 September 1877, the HIPPOGRIFFE (wooden schooner, 295 tons, built in 1864, at Buffalo, New York) had just left Chicago for Buffalo, loaded with oats, on a fine day with clear weather. The crew saw EMMA A. COYNE (wooden schooner, 155 foot, 497 tons, built in 1867, at Detroit, Michigan) approaching from a long way off loaded with lumber. The two vessels' skippers were brothers. The two schooners collided about 20 miles off Kenosha, Wisconsin. The COYNE came along side and picked up the HIPPOGRIFFE's crew a few minutes before that vessel rolled over and dove for the bottom.

The CITY OF GENOA arrived with the first cargo of iron ore for the new factory at Zug Island, reported The Detroit Free Press on September 28, 1903.

The H. M. GRIFFITH experienced a smoky conveyor belt fire at Port Colborne, Ontario on September 27, 1989. Repairs were completed there.

ROGER M. KYES proceeded to Chicago for dry-docking, survey and repairs on September 27, 1976. She struck bottom in Buffalo Harbor September 22, 1976 sustaining holes in two double bottom tanks and damage to three others.

GEORGE M. HUMPHREY under tow, locked through the Panama Canal from September 27, 1986, to the 30th on her way to the cutter’s torch at Kaohsiung, Taiwan.

The tanker IMPERIAL COLLINGWOOD (Hull#137) was launched September 27, 1947, at Collingwood, Ontario by Collingwood Shipyards Ltd. for Imperial Oil Ltd., Toronto, Ontario. Renamed b.) SEAWAY TRADER in 1979, sold off the Lakes in 1984, renamed c.) PATRICIA II, d.) BALBOA TRADER in 1992.

September 27, 1909 - The ANN ARBOR NO 4 entered service after being repaired from her capsizing at Manistique, Michigan the previous May.

On 27 September 1884, WALDO A. AVERY (wooden propeller, 204 foot, 1,294 gross tons) was launched at West Bay City, Michigan. Her construction had been subcontracted by F. W. Wheeler & Co. to Thomas F. Murphy.

On 27-29 September 1872, a big storm swept the lower lakes. On Lake Huron, the barges HUNTER and DETROIT were destroyed. The tug SANDUSKY rescued the 21 survivors from them. The schooner CORSAIR foundered off Sturgeon Point on Saginaw Bay at 4 p.m. on Sunday the 29th and only 2 of the crew survived. The barge A. LINCOLN was ashore one mile below Au Sable with no loss of life. The barge TABLE ROCK went ashore off Tawas Point and went to pieces. All but one of her crew was lost. The schooner WHITE SQUALL was sunk ten miles off Fish Point -- only one crewman was saved. The schooner SUMMIT went ashore at Fish Point, 7 miles north of Tawas with two lives lost.

1911: The water-logged wooden steamer THREE BROTHERS was beached off South Manitou Island, Lake Michigan. The cargo of lumber was salvaged but the 23-year-old vessel was left to rot.

1912: The wooden steamer GEORGE T. HOPE, loaded with 2,118 tons of iron ore, foundered in Lake Superior near Grand Island when it began leaking in heavy weather. All on board were saved.

1934: SASKADOC departed Erie, Pa., for the short run to the Welland Canal with 7,500 tons of coal and the hatches left open. The vessel encountered a storm on the lake, developed a list and arrived 11 hours late.

1943: NORMAN B. MACPHERSON, a small canaller in the Upper Lakes fleet, went aground on Hammond Shoal in the American Channel of the St. Lawrence near Alexandria Bay, N.Y.

1969: OPHELIA was a Great Lakes caller before the Seaway opened. The West German freighter also made 16 trips inland from 1959 to 1964. It was under Greek registry when it was abandoned off Sibu, Sarawak, with a fire in the engine room, on this date in 1969. The vessel was enroute from Sibu to Kuching, China, and the hull drifted aground as a total loss.

1991: OGDENSBURG was built as a barge to ferry rail cars across the St. Lawrence between Prescott and Ogdensburg. The vessel had joined McKeil as a regular deck barge in 1988 and broke loose in a storm on this date in 1991 while working off Blanc Sablon, Q.C. carrying heavy construction equipment. Refloated, the hull was towed to Hamilton and became one of three former railway barges rebuilt as a floating drydock.

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


Lakes Michigan and Huron surge to highest water levels in 15 years

9/26 - Grand Rapids, Mich. – After almost two years of historically low water levels on Lakes Michigan and Huron, they've recovered to heights not seen in 15 years.

All the added water prompts this new concern for beachgoers: large waves that crash onto West Michigan's piers have a greater potential to sweep people into the lake.

What a difference almost two years makes. The water level of both Lakes Michigan and Huron, which share the same measurement as they're connected, is about 579 feet for September — similar to a level last seen in 1999. It's up 3 feet from the lowest point in January 2013 and about 4 inches above average.

The uptick in a handful of inches and feet might not seem much until it translates to some 13.97 trillion additional gallons of water, said Jared Maples, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Grand Rapids.

"It appears the accumulation of precipitation really pulled ahead in April 2013 and ever since then, we not only continuously kept up with average accumulation but exceeded it," Maples said.

"We've yet to drop below that trend."

The spring of 2013 probably spurs a few unpleasant memories of historic flooding, when the Grand River peaked at 21.85 feet that April in downtown. At least 11 inches of rain fell during the month, in addition to 7-8 inches in Lansing and Muskegon. Much of it, eventually, flows back into the lakes.

Grand Rapids ended up with above average precipitation and snowfall, about 7 inches and 20 inches, respectively, for the year.

Are the relatively high water levels sustainable? It's hard to tell, Maples said. Long-term forecasts indicate warmer temperatures and equal chances of below and above normal precipitation, so only will tell.

A six-month forecast indicates the possibility of falling below average into the upcoming winter and early next year.

"It's kind of like the ebb and flow of the lakes," Maples said. "You'll have one period of wetter weather, and another with drier weather."

As fall storm systems sweep through the region and spur some high waves, it's probably best to stay away from the piers.

"There is a lot of power added to the waves when there is two feet more water," MLive meteorologist Mark Torregrossa said. "When we get that water moving around in the fall wind, the waves can overpower you easily."

M Live


Port Reports -  September 26

Lorain, Ohio – Phil Leon
Great Lakes Trader and tug Joyce L Van Enkevort departed at 6:10 p.m. from Dock #3.

Toronto, Ont. – Jens Juhl
Stephen B. Roman was discharging cement at the Essroc Villiers Street facility Thursday. Just before noon the Algoma Navigator cleared the Ship Channel Bridge inbound with a cargo of aggregate. The 47-year-old bulker is probably the last working ship using the Doxford JT series opposed piston diesel engine.


Lookback #313 – Former Lindo arrived at Aliaga, Turkey, for scrapping on Sept. 26, 1997

Lindo was built at Gijon, Spain, in 1972. The 395 foot, 10 inch long vessel first appeared on the Great Lakes in 1979 and became a regular caller through the Seaway in 1980 when it joined Manchester Lines on charter.

The vessel could carry 346 containers and it worked as a shuttle boat in and out of the Great Lakes connecting with the larger transatlantic container ships in the regular Manchester fleet.

Lindo was on the move in 1981 becoming Atlantic Prowess and, later in the year, Kowloon Express. Both ships carried Panamanian registry and the latter worked in the Far East servicing Hong Kong.

Further name changes saw the ship becoming Kobe Express in 1982, Jannu in 1985, Kuo Wei in 1986 and Medlink, Greek flag, in 1992.

It was 17 years ago today that Medlink arrived at Aliaga, Turkey, under tow. It was beached at one of the scrap berths on Sept. 26, 1997, and the dismantling of the hull got underway on Oct. 20, 1997.

Skip Gillham


Today in Great Lakes History -  September 26

September 26, 1930, the schooner OUR SON, launched in 1875, sank during a storm on Lake Michigan about 40 miles WSW of Big Sable Point. Seventy-three year old Captain Fred Nelson the crew of OUR SON were rescued by the self-unloader WILLIAM NELSON.

September 26, 1937, the Canadian Seaman's Union signed a tentative wage contract. Sailors would continue a two watch system (working 12 hours every 24 hours) and be paid the following monthly wages: Wheelsmen and Oilers - $72.50, Watchmen and firemen - $67.50, Second Cooks - $52.50, deckhands and coal passers - $50.00, porters - $45.00, Chief Cooks on the Upper Lakes - $115.00, and Chief Cooks on Canal boats $105.00.

September 26, 1957, Taconite Harbor, Minnesota loaded its first cargo of 10,909 tons of taconite pellets into the holds of the Interlake steamer J. A. CAMPBELL.

On 26 September 1892, JOHN BURT (3-mast wooden schooner, 138 foot, 348 gross tons, built in 1871, at Detroit, Michigan) was carrying grain in a strong northwest gale. Her rudder broke and she was blown past the mouth of Oswego harbor and was driven hard aground. Two died when the vessel struck. The U.S. Lifesaving Service rescued the remaining five crewmembers. The vessel quickly broke up in the waves.

CHI-CHEEMAUN cleared the shipyard on September 26, 1974.

H. M. GRIFFITH was christened on September 26, 1973 at Collingwood for Canada Steamship Lines.

C.C.G.S. GRIFFON (Hull#664) was launched September 26, 1969 by Davie Shipbuilding Ltd., Lauzon, Quebec for the Canadian Coast Guard.

ROGER M. KYES returned to service on September 26, 1984; she had grounded off McLouth Steel and ended crosswise in the Detroit River's Trenton Channel a month before. She was renamed b.) ADAM E. CORNELIUS in 1989.

The BELLE RIVER was sideswiped by the Liberian FEDERAL RHINE, of 1977, at Duluth on September 26, 1985. Both vessels received minor damage.

On 26 September 1914, MARY N. BOURKE (wooden schooner-barge, 219 foot, 920 gross tons, built in 1889, at Baraga, Michigan) was docked at Peter's Lumber Dock in St. Mary's Bay, 15 miles north of St. Ignace, Michigan. The crew was awakened at 9:30-10:00 p.m. by smoke coming from her hold and they escaped. The BOURKE burned to the waterline and the fire spread ashore, destroying the dock and a pile of lumber.

At 3 a.m., 26 September 1876, the steam barge LADY FRANKLIN burned while moored near Clark's dock, about three miles from Amherstburg, Ontario in the Detroit River. One life was lost. This vessel had been built in 1861, as a passenger steamer and ran between Cleveland, Ohio and Port Stanley, Ontario. In 1874, she was converted into a lumber freighter, running primarily between Saginaw, Michigan and Cleveland. The burned hull was rebuilt in 1882.

1979: MAHONI, an Indonesian-registered freighter, went aground on the west coast of Taiwan and was abandoned by the crew. The ship was refloated in June 1980 and sold to Taiwanese shipbreakers for scrapping at Kaohsiung. It had been a Seaway saltie as b) CLARI beginning in 1968 and returned as c) ARNIS in 1970.

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


McKeil Marine expands with addition of tug Lois M

9/25 - McKeil Marine has added another tug to its fleet. Lois M arrived in Mulgrave, Nova Scotia Septmber 17 and was registered in St.John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, September 23. It was built in 1991 by Matsuura Tekko Zosen of Japan for an Australian operation of Cleveland-Cliffs. Named Lambert it served Port Lambert, in Western Australia, a large iron shipment area.

A sister tug named Pannawonica I has also been acquired by McKeil, and it is currently working in Walvis Bay, Namibia.

Lois M is built to a similar design to Beverly M1 and Sharon M 1 acquired last year by McKeil. Powered by Niigata main engines of 4800 bhp, it rates 60 tonnes bollard pull, delivered through two Rexpeller azimuthing stern drives.

McKeil has a great deal of work in Newfoundland, and after fitting out at Mulagrave, the tug is expected to go to work in the island province. U.S. Steel Canada to sell Hamilton Works operations

Mac Mackay


U.S. Steel Canada to sell Hamilton Works operations

9/25 - Hamilton, Ont. - U.S. Steel Canada Inc. plans to put its operations in Hamilton, Ont., up for sale within two months, but delay a sales process for its Lake Erie works until March, 2015. The potential sale of the Hamilton site, which includes finishing mills, coke batteries and iron- and steel-making operations that have been shut since late 2010, is the first significant proposal U.S. Steel Canada (USSC) has made since it entered bankruptcy protection last week under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA).

“Commencing a SISP [sale and investment solicitation process] will provide USSC and its stakeholders with a better understanding of the potential options available with respect to the Hamilton Works operations and related assets,” Michael McQuade, the company’s president, said in an affidavit.

His affidavit forms part of the company’s request for approval of $185-million in debtor-in-possession financing, which will be submitted to the Ontario Superior Court on Oct. 6. The financing will be provided by United States Steel Corp., the parent company of the Canadian unit.

USSC, which consists of the main assets of the former Stelco Inc. purchased by U.S. Steel Corp. in 2007, was granted CCAA protection, citing pension solvency deficiencies of $838.7-million, ongoing losses and $3.9-billion in debt and equity pumped into the Canadian unit by its parent since 2007.

The Hamilton Works has the highest pension solvency deficiency and 12,614 members in pension plans, compared with 771 active employees.

Comments made by Local 1005 of the United Steelworkers, which represents about 600 of those active workers and the unionized retirees, are another reason to begin the sales process, Mr. McQuade said.

Local 1005 president Rolf Gerstenberger has described the CCAA filing as a fraud and said his local will oppose it.

“As a consequence and in the absence of a willingness of Local 1005 to engage in a restructuring dialogue about potential alternatives involving other existing stakeholders,” Mr. McQuade said, “USSC must explore whether other alternatives exist that might gain support from applicable stakeholders.”

Local 1005 is a key employee stakeholder group, along with USW local 8782, which represents unionized employees at the Lake Erie operations in Nanticoke, Ont.

A timeline submitted as part of the court filing showed the company beginning a sales process for Lake Erie in March and completing sales or investment transactions for both Hamilton and Lake Erie by Oct. 31, 2015.

The Ontario government, which regulates the pension plans and whose Pension Benefit Guarantee Fund faces a $400-million hit if the funds are wound up without any further contribution from USSC, will also play a key role in the restructuring.

As part of the Stelco deal, Ontario provided U.S. Steel with a $150-million loan bearing interest of 1 per cent, 75 per cent of which was forgiven if the solvency deficiencies in the pension funds were eliminated by the end of 2015.

Mr. McQuade said in earlier filing that there was no possibility the deficiencies would be wiped out.

The Canadian unit has $3-billion in net operating losses and “other tax attributes,” Mr. McQuade’s affidavit said.

“Preserving and ultimately utilizing those tax attributes could help maximize value for stakeholders,” he noted.

The debtor-in-possession financing should be sufficient to cover U.S. Steel Canada’s needs through the end of 2015, he said.

The 5 per cent interest rate on the financing compares with an average of 10 per cent for other CCAA financings, he said.

Globe & Mail


Historic Erie boat to be restored

9/25 - Erie, Pa. – It was moving day Wednesday for an historic boat on Erie's bayfront. The 37-foot wooden workboat, originally used by the Erie Water Authority, will be completely restored.

The boat was recently donated to the Erie County Historical Society. It was moved today from a boat storage facility on East Dobbins Landing to a warehouse in Girard. The goal is to get the boat back in the water, showcasing Erie's maritime history.

The society is putting together a business model to pay for the project.

"We all know the upkeep and expense of a boat can be quite significant. So we want to have a system in place so the boat is not a financial drain on the society operations and financial resources," said Caleb Pifer, Executive Director of the Erie County Historical Society.

The wooden boat was built at Erie's Lund Boat Works in 1936.


Gales of November to be held Nov. 7-8 at Duluth

9/25 - Lake Superior Marine Museum Association, in conjunction with Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center, presents its annual maritime conference and fundraiser benefit – The Gales of November, Nov. 7-8

. Funds raised support the Lake Superior Maritime Visitors Center and help in its mission to celebrate and preserve Lake Superior maritime heritage.

The two day educational, fundraising and networking event begins Friday, Nov. 7 with a joint luncheon with the Duluth-Superior Propeller Club at Grandma’s Sports Garden, 425 Lake Avenue South in historic Canal Park in Duluth, MN. The luncheon’s keynote speaker Mark Gill, Director of Vessel Traffic Services ("Ice Ops") for the US Coast Guard at the Soo. Friday afternoon provides various tour options including behind-the-scenes tours at of the Lake Superior Maritime Collections at the University of Wisconsin-Superior, Superior Public Museum’s Fairlawn Mansion and at the Great Lakes Aquarium. The day concludes with an Opening Gala reception, sponsored by Lake Superior Magazine, at the Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center in historic Canal Park at 600 South Lake Ave.

Gales of November festivities resume at 9 am on Saturday, Nov. 8 at the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center- Lake Superior Ballroom. The day is filled with maritime related educational breakout presentations, a trade show and a silent auction. Saturday’s keynote luncheon presentation features James P. Delgado, Ph.D., Director of Maritime Heritage, National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, National Marine Sanctuaries.

One of the highlights of the day will be the drawing of the winners in our “Cruise of a Lifetime Raffle.” Two winners will have an opportunity to sail the Great Lakes in style aboard the 1,000-foot Edwin H. Gott. Drawing will take place at 5 p.m. at the DECC in the Lake Superior Ballroom at the main stage. A representative from Great Lakes Fleet/Key Lakes Inc. will be there to draw the winning names. A closing reception will be held at Grandma’s Saloon & Grill in Canal Park.

Tickets to Gales of November are required. Gales of November details and registration information can be found at



Timeline: A detailed look at foreign cargo ships' visits to Port of Muskegon since 2012

9/25 - Muskegon, Mich. – For the better part of 30 years, foreign cargo ships from around the world flocked to Muskegon and its deep-water port.

Then, a stretch occurred when visits from foreign cargo ships, or "salties," were rare.

Recently, Muskegon's port has been becoming a popular destination for the large vessels once again. Over the last two years, 12 foreign cargo ships have visited the Port of Muskegon.

Here is a detailed look at the recent comings and goings of foreign cargo ships and the Port of Muskegon:

June 4, 2012
The Port of Muskegon welcomed its first "saltie" since 2004 when the HHL Amur arrived to take two, 148-foot wind turbine blade molds to Bilboa, Spain. The 452-foot ship is owned by Hansa Heavy Lift of Hamburg, Germany. The ship's home port is St. John's, Antigua. It was built in 2007 by Jiangzhou Union Shipbuilding in Rui Chang, China.

Aug. 22, 2012
The BBC Louisiana arrived in Muskegon in the summer of 2012 as the first of seven shipments of wind turbine parts bound for the Beebe Community Wind Farm in Gratiot County between Lansing and Mount Pleasant. The 454-foot ship carried 26 blades. The ship was built in 2008 in Wuhu, China, and it is owned and managed by Brockstiegel Reederei of Emden, Germany.

Sept. 11, 2012
On the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the 452-foot Aggersborg arrived at the Port of Muskegon carrying 45 wind turbine tower sections. The arrival of the Panamanian-flagged vessel was the second of seven shipments of wind turbine parts for the season.

Sept. 26, 2012
The BBC Elbe arrived with wind turbine components. The German-registered, 469-foot vessel brought wind turbine parts from South Korea. It was the third of seven expected shipments for the 2012 season.

Oct. 3, 2012
The parade to the Port of Muskegon continued in early October when the 462-foot Amstelborg arrived. The Dutch-registered and German-owned ship brought sections of wind turbine towers from Korea bound for the Beebe wind farm. It was the fourth of seven shipments.

Oct. 4, 2012
Employees at the Mart Dock in Muskegon had to work feverously to unload the Amstelborg since the 462-foot Marlene Green arrived the next day. The ship entered port just hours after the departure of the Amstelborg carrying 44 turbine tower sections from North Korea. According to a MLive Muskegon Chronicle article published in 2012, the rapid arrival of ships reminded many of the glory days of Muskegon's port. The Marlene Green was the fifth of seven shipments for the 2012 season.

Oct. 29, 2012
The BBC Balboa became the sixth of seven ships to make port when it arrived carrying 24 wind turbine blades. The ship was built in Dalian, China, and it is owned by Briese Schiffahrt of Leer, Germany.

Nov. 20, 2012
The final of seven expected arrivals in 2012 did so on this November Tuesday when the BBC Wisconsin made port at the Mart Dock in Muskegon. The 452-foot German vessel brought 21 wind turbine blades bound for the Beebe Wind Farm. According to a 2012 MLive Muskegon Chronicle article, the crew quickly unloaded the 197-foot wind blades to allow final delivery to be completed before Thanksgiving.

July 8, 2014
After more than a year absence, the "salties" made their return to Muskegon in July of this year when the HHL Elbe arrived. The 454-foot ship was the first of four shipments of wind turbine parts to arrive in 2014. The HHL Elbe is a Liberian-flagged vessel owned by the German company Hansa Heavy Lift.

The ship carried 36 blades, 11 generator units called nacelles and four containers with assorted parts.

Aug. 12, 2014
The 515-foot HR Constitution arrived. Built in 2006, the ship is owned by the German company Hammonia Reederei. The ship arrived with wind turbine towers bound for the Beebe Wind Farm and was the second of four scheduled arrivals in 2014.

Aug. 21, 2014
The HHL Congo was the third of four shipments to arrive at Muskegon's Mart Dock. It brought wind turbine blades from Germany.

Aug. 28, 2012
The HR Maria was the most recent vessel to visit the Port of Muskegon. The 468-foot vessel was built in 2008, and it is owned by Hammonia Reederei. The ship brought wind turbine towers bound for the Beebe Wind Farm.

Muskegon Chronicle


Lookback #312 – Franquelin aground below Beauharnois on Sept. 25, 1978

9/25 - The small freighter Franquelin had an occasional grounding in its career. The ship sailed under four names and owners over a period of 37 years.

Franquelin got stuck opposite Algonac on Dec. 19, 1976, and after being released, got pushed into shallow water by the ice on Lake St. Clair the next day despite being at anchor.

It was 36-years ago today that it landed on the bottom again. This time the bulk carrier was below Beauharnois in the Seaway when it stranded on Sept. 25, 1978. Franquelin was soon released from its perch and taken to Canadian Vickers in Montreal for repairs.

The stay at the shipyard was much longer than anticipated as the workers went out on strike with the result that Franquelin remained trapped on the drydock until a new contract could be negotiated.

Built as Griffon at Port Weller in 1956, the ship became Franquelin in 1967. It joined Transport Desgagnes in 1984 and was renamed Eva Desgagnes in 1987. Following a sale to Mexican interests, it became Telchac in 1989 and was scrapped at Tuxpan, Mexico, in 1993.

Skip Gillham


Today in Great Lakes History -  September 25

In tandem tow, MENIHEK LAKE and LEON FALK JR. arrived at Vigo, Spain, on September 25, 1985. The MENIHEK LAKE was scrapped at Vigo, and the FALK was towed to Gijn, Spain, for scrapping.

HENRY C. FRICK departed Bay City on her maiden voyage on September 25, 1905 and rammed and damaged the Michigan Central Railroad Bridge at Bay City.

On 25 September 1869, COMMENCEMENT (2-mast wooden schooner, 75 foot, 73 tons, built in 1853, at Holland, Michigan) was carrying wood in her hold and telegraph poles on deck from Pentwater, Michigan, for Milwaukee when she sprang a leak 20 miles off Little Sable Point on Lake Michigan. The incoming water quickly overtook her pump capacity. As the crew was getting aboard the lifeboat, she turned turtle. The crew clung to the upturned hull for 30 hours until the passing steamer ALLEGHENY finally rescued them. COMMENCEMENT later washed ashore, a total wreck. 1922: AUBE, on her first trip back under this name, went aground off Carleton Island, while carrying 65,000 bushels of grain. Tugs released the stranded vessel the following day.

1978: FRANQUELIN (ii) went aground in the Seaway below Beauharnois. Once refloated, the ship went to Canadian Vickers in Montreal for repairs and was caught there in a labor dispute.

1980: DERWENTFIELD, a British-flag freighter, first came through the Seaway in 1975. The ship grounded on this date as c) CAVO ARTEMIDI off Brazil, while enroute from Vitoria, Brazil, to Rotterdam, Holland, with a cargo of pig iron and broke in two as a total loss.

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


Canada’s new patrol vessel Caporal Kaeble V.C. christened

9/24 - Entry into service of Canadian Coast Guard's new mid-shore patrol vessel, the CCGS Caporal Kaeble V.C., has been inaugurated by The Honorable Denis Lebel, Minister of Infrastructure, Communities and Intergovernmental Affairs and Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec, on behalf of the Honorable Gail Shea, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

Mainly used as part of a joint program with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), the patrol vessel enhances security and safety along the St. Lawrence River, as well as in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the St. Lawrence Seaway and the Great Lakes.

With a capacity of up to 14 crew members, including five RCMP officers, her endurance at sea is 14 days on a course of 2,000 nautical miles. While on missions, the CCG is responsible for vessel operations and the RCMP is responsible for all enforcement activities.

Based in Québec, this vessel is equipped with two rigid hull inflatable boats for marine security response, as well as a Zodiac, which will be used for search and rescue operations.

CCGS Caporal Kaeble V.C. is the second of nine Hero Class vessels to join the Canadian Coast Guard fleet. It was named in honor of Corporal Joseph-Thomas Kaeble, member of the Royal 22nd Regiment, was the first French Canadian to receive the Victoria Cross (V.C.), the highest decoration for British and Commonwealth forces.

"On the 100th anniversary of the First World War and the creation of the Royal 22e Régiment, our government is proud to recognize the courage and sacrifice of Corporal Joseph-Thomas Kaeble, who died in combat in 1918,” Lebel said. “This new mid-shore patrol vessel named in honor of Corporal Kaeble will serve as a reminder of this important piece of our history."

Hero Class vessels are named for decorated soldiers, veterans and police officers as well as employees of Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Canadian Coast Guard. By naming these vessels after Canadian heroes, the Government of Canada hopes to encourage further generations to learn about Canadian history, culture and geography.

Economic Action Plan 2012 provided $5.2 billion to renew the Canadian Coast Guard Fleet. This builds on $1.6 billion in fleet renewal investments committed over the previous seven years.

"These unprecedented investments from our government to renew the Canadian Coast Guard fleet are making our waters safer, particularly the St. Lawrence,” Shea said. “The CCGS Caporal Kaeble V.C. will primarily be used to enhance national security, respond to potential threats and enforce regulations related to federal on-water requirements."

Since 2009, the Government of Canada has provided the Coast Guard with a number of new, high-performance vessels, including nine Hero Class mid-shore patrol vessels (five of which are assigned to the Central and Arctic fleet: CCGS Private Robertson V.C., CCGS Caporal Kaeble V.C., CCGS Corporal Teather C.V., CCGS Constable Carrière and CCGS A. Leblanc), ACV CCGS Mamilossa, five search-and-rescue vessels, two specialty vessels, three near-shore fishery research vessels, 30 environmental barges and 60 small craft.


Lookback #311 – Milverton crashed, burned on Sept. 24, 1947

9/24 - The canal-sized steamer Milverton was a new addition to the fleet of Colonial Steamships Ltd. in 1947. The vessel had been purchased by Capt. Scott Misener from the United States Maritime Commission after World War Two service in the South American bauxite trade.

The ship had been built at Glasgow, Scotland, in 1929 and came to the Great Lakes for service in the Paterson fleet as their first Coteaudoc. It was leased to Saguenay Terminals for the bauxite trade on May 5, 1941, and then requisitioned by the U.S.M.C. on Oct. 24, 1942.

The ship had been idle in the James River Reserve Fleet when Capt. Misener purchased the vessel for $113,000 and brought it back to the Great Lakes for service as Milverton.

The vessel was carrying coal and down bound in the St. Lawrence when the upbound tanker Translake got caught by the current and veered across the path of the approaching freighter on Sept. 24, 1947. While the crude oil-laden tanker spilled some cargo, it was the rupture of the fuel line on deck of the oil-fired freighter that ignited resulting in a massive fire.

The Milverton, one the few oil-fired canallers, drifted downstream and grounded at the head of Rapide Plat. It burned for at least two days and 11 sailors died in the tragedy of 67 years ago today.

Both ships were salvaged and repaired. Milverton returned to work for Misener in 1949 as Clary Foran and joined Reoch Transports Ltd. as Ferndale in 1959. The latter was scrapped at Hamilton in the spring of 1963.

Translake was repaired at Montreal and also returned to service. It became a barge in 1962 working at Halifax as Halfueler and later out of Sorel as M.I.L. Fueler. It was laid up at Louiseville after the North Traverse Dredging Project ended and was scrapped there about 1980-1981.

Skip Gillham


Today in Great Lakes History -  September 24

The EDMUND FITZGERALD's first cargo of taconite pellets was loaded September 24, 1958 at Silver Bay, Minnesota for Toledo, Ohio.

The PERE MARQUETTE 22 entered service September 24, 1924.

In early morning fog on the St. Clair River on September 24, 1962, the J.L. REISS was hit three glancing blows by U.S. Steel's SEWELL AVERY. The AVERY had lost control just below Robert's Landing and crossed the channel from the Canadian side and struck the REISS, which was proceeding slowly by radar on the U.S. side.

On September 24, 1952, the CHARLES L. HUTCHINSON entered service. This vessel was renamed b.) ERNEST R. BREECH when it was sold to the Ford Motor Company in 1962, and it was renamed c.) KINSMAN INDEPENDENT, when it was sold to Kinsman Lines in 1988. Sold Canadian in 2005, and renamed d.) VOYAGEUR INDEPENDENT. She sails today as the motorship e.) OJIBWAY.

On September 23, 1991, J.W. MC GIFFIN rescued several people in a 24-foot pleasure craft off Presque Ile State Park. The group had been disabled since the day before. They were taken aboard the McGIFFIN and their boat taken under tow. The MC GIFFIN was rebuilt with a new forward section and renamed b.) CSL NIAGARA in 1999.

September 24, 1924 - The PERE MARQUETTE 22 arrived at Ludington, Michigan on her maiden voyage.

On 24 September 1902, H.A. BARR (3 mast wooden schooner, 217 foot, 1,119 gross tons, built in 1893, at W. Bay City, Michigan) was in tow of the saltie THEANO with a load of iron ore in a storm 30 miles off Port Stanley in Lake Erie. She broke her towline in giant waves and foundered. THEANO rescued her crew.

On 24 September 1879, the tug URANIA was towing the schooner S V R WATSON into Sand Beach at about noon when the schooner struck the tug amidships, cutting a hole in the hull and sinking her in three fathoms of water. No lives were lost.

1901: M.M. DRAKE was towing the schooner barge MICHIGAN across Lake Superior when the latter began to sink. The steamer came alongside to take off the crew when a towering wave bashed the two vessels together resulting in heavy damage. Both vessels went down, but all except one sailor were rescued by the passing ships NORTHERN WAVE and CRESCENT CITY.

1915: WESTERN STAR ran aground on Robertson Rock, Georgian Bay, while enroute to Little Current with a cargo of coal. The ship was badly damaged and early attempts to refloat the freighter failed. It was not released until September 18, 1917, and was rebuilt at Detroit. The ship returned to service as b) GLENISLA in 1918 and was scrapped at Hamilton as c) PRESCOTT in 1962-1963.

1937: NEEBING foundered with the loss of 5 lives in western Lake Superior while towing the barge COTEAU in a heavy storm. The crane-equipped ship was approaching the Nipigon Strait, with a load of gravel for Red Rock, ON at the time. Nine sailors were rescued.

1947: MILVERTON, downbound with a cargo of coal, and TRANSLAKE, upbound with crude oil, collided near Iroquois, ON. The latter got caught in the current and veered to port resulting in the collision. The former, one of the few oil-burning canal ships, had the fuel lines rupture, caught fire, drifted downstream and grounded at the head of Rapide Plat. The ship burned for two days and 11 sailors were killed. Despite the heavy damage, MILVERTON was refloated, repaired and later sailed as c) CLARY FORAN and d) FERNDALE (i) before being scrapped at Hamilton in 1963.

1952: BAYTON was loading at Pool 4A Elevator at the Canadian Lakehead when there was an explosion at the elevator and chunks of concrete rained down on the deck of the Colonial Steamship Co. (Misener) steamer. One person was killed and nine more were injured.

2008: DRAGOMIRESTI was a Romanian freighter that first visited the Seaway in 1992 to load a food aid cargo in Thunder Bay for Sudan & Yemen. The ship was driven aground as j) CHUN JIANG, about 22 miles from Macao in Typhoon Hagupit. The crew were removed by helicopter.

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


Calumet River Fleeting acquires another large tug

9/23 - Calumet River Fleeting has acquired the tug Catherine Turecamo from Moran Towing Corporation of Connecticut. Shipbroker Marcon International assisted with the sale. Catherine Turecamo was built in 1972 by Main Iron Works in Houma, Louisiana. Originally named Miss Lynn, it has had numerous owners. The tug's dimensions are 111' by 35' by 15.5.’ It has twin screws turned by EMD 16-567CE2 engines generating a total of 3200 horsepower. It will reportedly be renamed John Marshal. AIS showed the tug still at the Moran tug dock on Staten Island, New York on Sept. 18.

Tom Hynes (original source, Mac Mackay's Tugfax blog)


Port Reports -  September 23

Ludington, Mich.
The carferry S.S. Badger returned to its Manitowoc port Sunday afternoon shortly after departing for Ludington, Mich., according to AIS. It is unknown why she returned but weather is the likely cause. Severe weather was reported in the Ludington area, forcing Ludington police to close the north breakwater about 12:15 p.m. Sunday due to high wind and waves. Winds, which gusted to higher than 40 mph, were downing tree branches and power lines, too, according to the Ludington Daily News.

Oswego, N.Y. – Ned Goebricher
On Monday the tanker Zhuang Yuan Ao unloaded fuel oil.


Turkish sailors stuck in Sorel-Tracy finally heading home

9/23 - Sorel-Tracy, Que. – Twelve Turkish sailors stuck in the port of Sorel-Tracy since April are heading home.

The 12 men had been flown to the port city between Montreal and Trois-Rivières by the Ontario-based company Menpas Shipping to repair the ship and sail it overseas for dismantling. However, the men said they stopped getting paid in July and by the end of August were out of food. The situation was deemed "barbaric and beyond comprehension" by a union representing seafarers.

Media reports of the sailors’ predicament led to an outpouring of help from Sorel-Tracy residents led by Mayor Serge Péloquin.

A fundraising campaign raised $10,000 for the sailors and Air Transat offered them flights to Istanbul.

Transport Canada detained the ship in order to compel its owner to pay the men and send them home. A Menpas Shipping representative said the company doesn't own the ship and denied the crew's allegations they had not been paid and were starving.

Vince Giannopoulos, an inspector with the International Transport Workers’ Federation, said the men have still not been paid. He told CBC News that the ITF is taking the case to federal court in order to get the sailors their wages.

The rusted 186-metre freighter has been docked at Sorel-Tracy since Nov. 2012, and residents had initiated a petition to have it removed.

CBC News


First oil sands bitumen tanker arrives in Sorel-Tracy port

9/23 - Sorel-Tracy, Que. – The arrival of the oil tanker Minerva Gloria in the port of Sorel-Tracy Sunday opened a new chapter in the ongoing efforts of Quebeckers to resist shipments of diluted bitumen crude oil from Alberta through their communities.

Sorel-Tracy resident Elias Harvey said he’s seen many oil tankers in port over the years, but never one as large as the 250-metre long, 44 metre-wide Minerva Gloria. Only a year ago, ships wider than 32 metres weren’t allowed in that part of the St. Lawrence River, but the federal government increased the allowable size in December 2013.

The Minerva Gloria is not only the first tanker of its size to arrive in Sorel-Tracy, but it will also be the first to carry diluted bitumen from Alberta’s oil sands on the St. Lawrence River.

Since July, Suncor has been transporting diluted bitumen from Alberta by train to a storage facility in Sorel-Tracy owned by Kildair Services. The Minerva Gloria’s arrival in Sorel-Tracy marks the start of the next phase of Suncor’s plans — the transfer of that oil to tankers ships for transport east.

Communities along the rail lines that carry the bitumen have mounted protests against Suncor’s shipments, and Harvey worries about what its transfer to tankers like Minerva Gloria could mean for the St. Lawrence River.

“There’s nothing in it for us. All it brings us is the threat of polluting the river,” Harvey told Radio-Canada. “It’s a poisoned present.”

Monique Hains and other members of the group Alerte Petrole Rive-Sud said a spill in the St. Lawrence would mean disaster for the environment and riverside communities. “Imagine a spill, it would be catastrophic. Three million people rely on the St. Lawrence River for drinking water,” she said.

Suncor, however, says that risk is reduced by the fact all tankers carrying its oil feature a double hull.

In an email to Radio-Canada, the company also said there’s nothing about Alberta bitumen crude that makes it any more dangerous than other types of oil that are already being shipped on the St. Lawrence.

“Diluted bitumen does not have any properties that augment the risks in relation to conventional crude,” Suncor said.

The federal government also has controls in place that require tankers to meet specific safety standards. Canada’s inspection regime for tanker ships is also considered one of the most stringent in the world.

University of Rimouski professor Emmanuel Guy said the safety system that is currently in place is effective for the current level of tanker traffic on the St. Lawrence River.

However, he said it should be reviewed to take into consideration the larger ships and the increasing number of tankers.

“The risk is proportional to the level of activity. If there is a rise in the volume [of oil] being transported, it’s important to adjust safety precautions now, and not after the fact,” he said.

The Minerva Gloria is due to leave Sorel-Tracy at the start of next week. Radio-Canada reports that it will sail in the direction of the Gulf of Mexico, for a refinery in Lousiana or Texas.

It’s expected that 20 to 30 tankers will take on loads of bitumen crude every year from Sorel-Tracy.


Au Sable Light Station turns 140 years old

9/23 - Grand Marais, Mich. – A north Michigan lighthouse on Lake Superior has turned 140 years old. WLUC-TV reports the Au Sable Light Station celebrated the milestone by offering free tours to visitors over the weekend, marked down from the usual $3 cost. Tours usually run until the end of September, but have been extended through the second week of October this year.

The 87-foot light tower near Grand Marais was completed in August 1874. The keepers' residences were built in 1909. The lighthouse was manned for 84 years before the Coast Guard automated it.

A Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore official says visitors can enjoy a hike out to the lighthouse even when tours aren't offered. The lighthouse is about 1 ½ miles from Hurricane River Campground parking.

Petoskey News Review


Lookback #310 – Crystal Jewel badly damaged in collision near London on Sept. 23, 1961

Crystal Jewel was one of seven “Crystal” ships that visited the Great Lakes in the early years of the Seaway. Generally they brought raw sugar inbound from the West Indies for Redpath Sugar in Toronto before loading grain for overseas delivery.

Crystal Jewel had been built at Middlesborough, England, in 1956, and began Seaway trading with one trip in 1960. There were two more trips in 1961 but the season was not without some problems.

In May, the 460 foot, 10 inch long bulk carrier struck a submerged object in the St. Mary's River and ended up spending four weeks on the shelf of Port Weller Dry Docks undergoing damage to about 300 feet of plates along the bottom of the hull. It sailed from the shipyard on June 17.

The vessel was back inland later in the summer but suffered a tragic collision, while inbound for London, England, in thick fog on Sept. 23, 1961. The accident of 53-years ago today also involved the tanker British Aviator and left massive damage to Crystal Jewel including knocking the midships pilothouse out of alignment. The Captain was seriously injured and his daughter was crushed in the cabin below the bridge.

Crystal Jewel was taken to Rotterdam for repairs and an entirely new superstructure was installed.

The ship came back to the Great Lakes in 1962 and took the first shipment of taconite ore for overseas delivery out of Silver Bay, MIN in July. By the end of 1967, Crystal Jewel had made 11 trips through the Seaway.

The vessel was sold in 1969 becoming Meltemi and continued Great Lakes trading until its final trip inland in Oct. 1974. The ship was sold and renamed Natby later in 1974 and then Teta in 1977. Following a sale to South Korean shipbreakers, the vessel arrived at Busan on July 17, 1979, for dismantling.

The B.P. tanker British Aviator dated from 1958. It was too wide for the Seaway and, following 18 years of trading, arrived at Kaohsiung, Taiwan, for scrapping on April 26, 1976.

Skip Gillham


Today in Great Lakes History -  September 23

September 23, 1922, the 306-foot NEPTUNE loaded the first Head-of-the-Lakes cargo of pig iron at Zenith Furnace, Duluth, Minnesota. The 5,000 tons of malleable pig iron was delivered to Buffalo, New York.

September 23, 1975, HERBERT C. JACKSON lost power while upbound on Lake Superior. She was towed back to the Soo by the USS straight decker D.G. KERR.

September 23, 1952, the steamer CHARLES L. HUTCHINSON became the first boat christened at Cleveland since the early years of World War II. The 644-foot HUTCHINSON, Captain T. A. Johnson, was the new flagship of the Pioneer fleet and one of 35 boats in the three fleets operated by Hutchinson & Co. Renamed b.) ERNEST R. BREECH in 1962, c.) KINSMAN INDEPENDENT in 1988. Sold Canadian in 2005, and renamed d.) VOYAGEUR INDEPENDENT. She sails today as the motorship e.) OJIBWAY.

On 23 September 1910, the BETHLEHEM (steel propeller package freighter, 290 foot, 2,633 gross tons, built in 1888, at Cleveland, Ohio) was carrying general merchandise when she went ashore in a gale on the SW side of S. Manitou Island in Lake Michigan. Lifesavers and the crew unloaded her over several days. Although battered by several storms while ashore, she was eventually pulled free and repaired. She lasted until 1925, when she was scrapped.

The scow WAUBONSIE was launched at the Curtis yard in Fort Gratiot, Michigan on 23 September 1873. 1935: HURRY-ON was a Great Lakes visitor in 1934 when it loaded bagged flour at Port Colborne. The ship was lost off Port Hood Island, near Judique, NS, after developing leaks and a list. The lifeboat swamped twice and five were lost.

1961: CRYSTAL JEWEL, inbound for London in thick fog, was in a collision with the B.P. Tanker BRITISH AVIATOR. The captain was seriously injured and his daughter was killed. The vessel first visited the Great Lakes in 1960 and was enroute from Duluth to London with a cargo of grain at the time of the accident. The vessel grounded and, after being released, was taken to Rotterdam where the entire mid-ship superstructure was replaced. The ship made many more trips through the Seaway and returned as b) MELTEMI in 1970. It was scrapped at Busan, South Korea, after arriving as d) TETA on July 17, 1979.

1980: FERNLEAF first visited the Seaway in 1965 and returned as b) AALSUM in 1974. The ship was detained at Basrah, Iraq, in 1981 as c) INICIATIVA on this date in 1980 and declared a total loss in December 1981. It was salvaged in 1993 and renamed d) DOLPHIN V but perhaps only for a trip to the shipbreakers. The vessel arrived at Gadani Beach December 27, 2003, and dismantling began at once.

2000: Vandals attacked the museum ship NORGOMA at Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., breaking windows, light fixtures and setting off fire extinguishers, leaving an estimated $15,000 in damage.

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


Tregurtha resumes voyage after running aground in Duluth harbor

9/22 - Duluth, Minn. – The freighter Paul R. Tregurtha quickly resumed work early Sunday morning, after it was cleared for action by U.S. Coast Guard inspectors looking for any sign that the longest vessel on the Great Lakes may have sustained damage when it ran aground Saturday afternoon near Duluth’s Bayfront Festival Park.

“We did a survey of the ship, and there was no indication of damage,” said Lt. Judson Coleman of the U.S. Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit in Duluth. “Fortunately, the bottom was soft where it ran aground.”

Because the 1,013.5-foot-long vessel was not taking on any water and showed no internal signs of structural or mechanical issues, Coleman said: “We were in agreement that there was no need to do a dive inspection.”

The outbound Tregurtha finally passed underneath the Aerial Lift Bridge at 12:47 a.m. Sunday, according to Adele Yorde, spokeswoman for the Duluth Seaway Port Authority. The temporarily waylaid laker was about halfway across Lake Superior by Sunday evening, headed to Detroit Edison’s St. Clair Power Plant, loaded with more than 68,000 tons of coal it received from Midwest Energy Resources Co. in Superior on Saturday afternoon.

Tom Wynne, a spokesman for the Ohio-based Interlake Steamship Co., which owns the laker, said the Tregurtha was able to extricate itself under its own power with help from a couple of tugboats at about 7 p.m. Saturday, about 3½ hours after it failed to negotiate a sharp turn on its approach to the Aerial Lift Bridge.

“It was just the bow that was aground on a soft bank,” he said, explaining that the crew shifted ballast water to the aft of the ship.

“They were able to lift the bow by sinking the stern,” Wynne said.

As for what caused the freighter to veer off course Saturday, Wynne said: “We have nothing concrete at this time, but the captain said the ship didn’t respond as he expected when they started their turn toward the bridge.”

Wynne noted that the bridge approach requires a sharp turn in sometimes unpredictable current. He also said the Tregurtha encountered another complication shortly before it ran aground. A pleasure boat anchored in the middle of the shipping channel prompted the captain to blow a danger signal, Wynne said. The pleasure boat subsequently responded by picking up anchor and moving out of the way, he said.

“This incident happened in close proximity to when our vessel ran aground, but the captain didn’t have to make evasive maneuvers or anything,” Wynne said, stating that he does not view the unexpected encounter as a fundamental cause of the mishap.

After the Tregurtha was freed Saturday evening, it proceeded to the Duluth Seaway Port Authority Terminal, where it docked to await Coast Guard inspection. Coleman said the incident remains under investigation, but said there was no initial indication of mechanical failure or of any other vessel causing the accident.

Duluth News Tribune


Port Reports -  September 22

Alpena, Mich. - Ben & Chanda McClain
The tug G.L Ostrander and barge Integrity was in port early Friday morning taking on cement at Lafarge. The Cason J. Callaway anchored off Alpena Sunday afternoon due to weather conditions. Other vessel activity on Sunday included the tug Samuel de Champlain and barge Innovation coming in during the evening to load cement. The Alpena was expected to arrive late Sunday night.

Oswego, N.Y. – Ned Goebricher
Sunday the tug Everlast and tank barge Norman McLeod unloaded fuel oil at the Oswego steam station.


Stranded Phoenix Sun sailors on their way back to Turkey

9/22 - Sorel, Que. – A dozen Turkish sailors who spent the last five months in a ship moored in Sorel are finally going home. The 12 nautical repairmen arrived in April to help repair the Sun Phoenix but soon fell into limbo when their employer stopped paying them.

The workers told CTV Montreal one month ago that they were choosing to stay until they were paid but four weeks later have still not been compensated for their work. With winter looming, they have decided to call it quits.

Sorel Mayor Serge Peloquin led an effort that raised $10,000 for the sailors while AirTransat is providing the flights to Istanbul that left from Trudeau Airport Sunday afternoon.

The municipality also provided electricity and other amenities that ended up costing an estimated $60,000, according to Peloquin.

Captain Semih Ozkan said that his shipmates are grateful for the help, adding that their families back home in Turkey have suffered hardship without their financial support.

“This is like a prison for us, we can go out and go shopping but we’re stuck here in that we have no salaries and our family is in a bad situation,” he said.

Their mission, he notes, was almost fully accomplished. “We almost completely repaired the ship but we’re waiting for some spare parts. They didn’t come."

The Phoenix Sun bulk carrier is 186 metres long and was built in 1987. The ship has been docked in Sorel-Tracy since 2012.

The ship is registered in Panama and managed by a Hamilton, Ont., company called Menpas Shipping and Trading Inc. The Canadian Coast guard seized the ship, in hopes of that the company would pay the sailor’s wages and repatriation back home.

CTV News


Coast Guard has long history and big presence in Port Huron area

9/22 - Port Huron, Mich. – Nearly 30 years have passed since Mike Popelka retired from the U.S. Coast Guard ship Bramble. But the Fort Gratiot man and his wife, Kathy, still are drawn to the Coast Guard vessels and people stationed along Port Huron's shoreline.

"It's kind of near and dear to my heart," Popelka said. "Once it's in your blood, I don't think it ever leaves," Kathy Popelka added.

The Coast Guard — and the agencies that became the Coast Guard — has been a presence in Port Huron for almost two centuries. The agency's presence here is older than the city and older than the state of Michigan.

You can't drive far along the city waterfront without seeing the ships and stations of the Coast Guard's past and present.

There's the retired Bramble at Seaway Terminal; its replacement, the Coast Guard cutter Hollyhock near Pine Grove Park; the Huron Lightship a little farther upstream; and Station Port Huron just north of the Blue Water Bridge. And next to Station Port Huron, the Fort Gratiot Lighthouse, first lighted in 1825, 12 years before Michigan was a state.

But unless you're out on the water or watching from shore, you likely won't see the Coast Guard in action — patrolling the shoreline, rescuing boaters in distress, breaking ice and tending more than 100 navigational aids in the waterways.

"I think it's always a challenge because we're gone so often," said Cdr. Justin Kimura, commanding officer of the Hollyhock. "We're always trying to get that story out there."

Coast Guard Station Port Huron is just north of the Blue Water Bridge, where Lake Huron enters the St. Clair River. The station's area of responsibility is from just north of Lexington to Algonac. Twenty-one Coasties are assigned to the station — 24 when the facility is fully staffed. The next station north is at Harbor Beach; the next station south is in St. Clair Shores.

About 125 people staff Stations Port Huron, Harbor Beach, St. Clair Shores and the cutter Hollyhock, said Operations Specialist Chief Gabriel Settel, assistant public affairs officer for the U.S. Coast Guard Sector Detroit.

Station Port Huron largely is tasked with search and rescue operations on the American half of waterways from north of Lexington to Algonac. Crews at the station also do law enforcement, boarding vessels to ensure people have proper licensing and safety materials.

"We do boardings and make sure they comply with all federal laws and regulations," Mendoza said. "We want to make sure whenever a search and rescue case happens, boaters have what they need to be helped."

Mendoza said ice rescues set Great Lakes stations apart from many saltwater assignments.

Mendoza said the Blue Water Area also presents unique challenges because of the St. Clair River's strong current, heavy commercial freighter traffic, and events that defy the dangers of both.

"Station Port Huron does have a rather large area that it's responsible for," Settel said, adding the stations' area of responsibility encompasses two very different bodies of water – the St. Clair River and Lake Huron.

Boatswain's Mate Troy Morgan, coxswain at Station Port Huron, said crews battle a 4- to 5-knot current on the St. Clair River.

"The main concern with that is if somebody was to break down in the water here, they're not going to just sit in one spot," Morgan said. "They're going to drift fast. They could drift into other boats; they could drift into walls."

The station works every major marine event that needs a U.S. Coast Guard permit – such as powerboat races in St. Clair and Port Huron – and some events that don't have a U.S. Coast Guard permit – such as the Port Huron Float Down.

Mendoza said the mix of hundreds of floaters, alcohol, a swift current, and cold water makes the event difficult to patrol for all rescue crews on the water.

"That's why the Coast Guard does not permit the event, because of the dangers that go along with it," he said.

Other resources are sent to Port Huron when needed, Settel said.

"If we have extended or large cases — similar to the case we worked with Float Down this year — we would bring in other stations to assist," Settel said.

A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter out of Selfridge Air National Guard base assisted a Station Port Huron rescue boat night and day for two days this August after 19-year-old Brady Morton went missing during the 2014 Float Down.

Morton's body eventually was recovered from the St. Clair River.

Mendoza said the station also responds to jumpers at the Blue Water Bridge — a task unique to the area. This year, there have been at least four people who have jumped to their deaths from the bridge.

Some Coasties at the Port Huron station also hitch a ride on Canadian law enforcement vessels about once a week for the Shiprider program. The presence of Canadian and American officials on board allows the vessel to practice cross-border law enforcement.

"That vessel could go back and forth over the border to enforce laws on both sides," Mendoza said. Both Canadian and American rescue crews can cross into another nation's waters for search or rescue purposes, but the process becomes a little more challenging for law enforcement.

A couple of klicks south of Station Port Huron, the 225-foot U.S. Coast Guard cutter Hollyhock waits at its moorings for its fall mission.

The primary mission of the Hollyhock is serving aids to navigation. It replaced the Bramble in 2003.

Twice a year, the ship and its 49 crew members place and retrieve about 125 buoys. The Hollyhock's area of responsibility is from the Straits of Mackinac south through Lake Huron, the St. Clair and Detroit rivers systems, across Lake Erie and into Lake Ontario.

Harsh winters and harsher ice conditions on the Great Lakes create unique circumstances that require more work for buoy tenders on the Great Lakes than it would in salt water.

During Operation Fall Retrieve, the Hollyhock collects fair-weather buoys and replaces them with sturdier aids meant to last through crushing ice and extreme cold. During Operation Spring Retrieve, the process is reversed.

For the Hollyhock, winter brings domestic ice-breaking responsibilities.

Usually, the Hollyhock would be part of Operation Coal Shovel — an ice-breaking operation that stretches from Alpena south into the lower Great Lakes.

Settel said one of the choke points susceptible to heavy ice coverage in Coal Shovel's jurisdiction is the Port Huron cut, where Lake Huron empties into the St. Clair River.

"With the Hollyhock being based there, they're going to be making most of their runs to and from that station," Settel said. "They would be responsible for most of the operations there.

"But we also may bring some other cutters to help."

Due to record ice conditions on the Great Lakes this year, the Hollyhock lent its hull to Operation Taconite — ice breaking operations north and west of Alpena.

"This past winter there was so much ice up north they had to move us around," Kimura said.

"This was my third year on the Great Lakes … and that was by far the worst ice conditions I've ever seen."

While there are ice-breaking operations in other areas of the nation — such as Alaska and New England — some of the largest ice-breaking efforts take place on the Great Lakes, Kimura said.

"The majority of that mission is tailored to District 9, on the Great Lakes," Kimura said. "The Hollyhock wasn't really designed for ice-breaking but it's ice capable. We really excel at establishing a track, creating a superhighway for ships."

It's a unique operation — one that kept the ship away from port for some time last winter.

The ship is designed to be underway about 185 days a year, but the ship already is up to about 200 days underway for the fiscal year ending in about two weeks.

Kimura said the economic effect the icebreakers' work has on water-bound commerce is worth the extra hours breaking through ice.

"The work we're doing, whether it's the St. Clair River or the St. Marys River, really affects the whole state," Kimura said.

It was while breaking ice for the Mesabi Miner last winter that the Hollyhock was hit on Lake Michigan.

The accident happened during an ice escort in early January. The Hollyhock hit a hard spot in the ice and was unable to move forward. The about 1,000-foot Mesabi Miner didn't stop in time and crashed into the stern of the Hollyhock.

The Hollyhock was back on the water several days later and received more extensive repairs to its damaged stern this summer.

Kimura said much of the summer is spent on maintenance, but crew members also participate in law enforcement and search and rescue. The Hollyhock also is equipped to do petroleum spill cleanups.

"We're still a multi-mission Coast Guard unit," Kimura said.

Law enforcement and search and rescue usually are the responsibilities of two smaller vessels on the Hollyhock. But Kimura said if there's an emergency during the winter, the cutter may be the only vessel able to break its way to the scene.

In October, the crew of the Hollyhock will undergo training certification, followed closely by Operation Fall Retrieve.

In the winter, Kimura expects to hit the ice hard. "We'll see what Mother Nature brings us," he said.

While the Hollyhock handles floating aids to navigation, fixed lights on shore are maintained by a different crew.

The lights at the Fort Gratiot Light Station and the Port Sanilac Lighthouse are maintained by the Aids to Navigation Team Saginaw River in Bay City, Settel said.

The lighthouses themselves are not owned or maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard — St. Clair County owns the Fort Gratiot Light Station, while Port Sanilac Lighthouse is privately owned.

About two weeks ago, the U.S. Coast Guard began accepting public comment on a plan to replace the 1886 Fresnel lens at the Port Sanilac Lighthouse with a light emitting diode lantern.

After more than 125 years of varying temperatures and humidity, the putty holding the prisms of the lantern in place has deteriorated. The Coast Guard hopes to remove the historic lens and preserve it at a local museum.

Just north of the Hollyhock, the Huron Lightship rests in sand beside the St. Clair River, close to the waters it safeguarded for about 50 years. The last lightship on the Great Lakes, the Huron, was a floating lighthouse six miles north of Port Huron on the shallow Corsica Shoals.

The lightship was retired from active duty in 1970 after serving about 50 years on the Great Lakes, at least 30 of which were spent on Corsica Shoals.

"That was an important aid to navigation," said Susan Bennett, executive director for the Port Huron Museum. "Many of us grew up hearing the light ship's bee-yoh signal.

"We remember all of that from our youth, and it's part of the maritime heritage — it's one of the reasons we live here."

The Port Huron Museum maintains the lightship, which is owned by the city. The museum also maintains and operates the Fort Gratiot Light Station and the campus surrounding it — including buildings formerly used by the U.S. Coast Guard.

"There actually were Coast Guard members living in the duplex at the light station until 2009," Bennett said. "They had an office at the light station well into the 2000s."

When Lt. Commander Bob Lafean, a former commanding officer for the U.S. Coast Guard ship Bramble, retired from the ship in 2000, he opted to live close to the vessel he once commanded.

A few years later, on May 22, 2003, the Bramble followed Lafean into retirement.

The U.S. Coast Guard ship was decommissioned after nearly 60 years on the water. The Port Huron Museum took over operations the same year and, in 2013, Bob and Sara Klingler purchased the ship, with a plan to bring it back to life.

The Marine City couple is close to that goal. Bob Klingler expects to have the engines running on the 180-foot cutter within two weeks.

"The crew is extremely excited about taking that ship out on Lake Huron and taking it on a recommissioning cruise," he said.

The "crew" on the Bramble consists of about 20 retired captains, engineers and boatswain's mates, Klinger said.

He said all of them have an interest in preserving the ship's diverse history, which includes work with atomic testing and Arctic navigation.

"We wanted to keep part of history alive," Klingler said. "And of all the 180s that were built, the Bramble was probably one of the top three of the 39 ships."

"It's got the most history of any Coast Guard ship that remains of that vintage."

Klingler wants to share that history with the community. He expects the ship will be ready to accept overnight guests within a week or two.

"It's been very, very rewarding," Klingler said. "My wife and I are beyond words how well it's been received and how much further down the road of history this ship is going to be available for generations to come."

Lafean said it's more than history the U.S. Coast Guard brings to the area.

He said people stationed in the area for three-year stints on the Hollyhock and four-year stints at Station Port Huron also bring money for rent, groceries, supplies to the Blue Water Area.

"That's all local money that's pumped back into the community," Lafean said.

"That's something that people don't see a lot."

When Mike Popelka retired from the U.S. Coast Guard in 1985, the Minnesota native felt at home along the blue water.

"The Bramble was my last tour of duty," he said. "I spent four years on there.

"We just decided Port Huron was a good place to stay, and we've been happy here."

In his time on the lake and near the river, Mike Popelka said he's seen the Coast Guard he once was a part of change and evolve.

"Because of the economy, they're expected to do more with less, but the mission seems like it remains the same," he said.

"The community as a whole is really accepting the Coast Guard a whole lot better these days than they used to, say, when I first came here."

Daniel Collins, flotilla commander for the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 20-03, said his group of 22 auxiliary members continues to support Coast Guard efforts in the area.

The auxiliary group, based out of Port Huron, assists the Coast Guard in many basic tasks, with the exception of law enforcement or military operations.

"We go out and do such things during the summer as work the Float Down, keeping the boats out of the controlled area," Collins said. "We also work doing the same type of mission during the two powerboat races."

The auxiliary also assists with public education and boaters' safety instruction.

"The Coast Guard helps our boating community out tremendously in the area," Collins said.

"For us, it's a way to give back, and you just feel that you're doing something important."

Great Lakes Maritime Center consultant Frank Frisk and others in the community showed their appreciation for about five years running — from 2005 to 2009 — in a celebration that started as a one-day event and morphed into a weekend.

Frisk said the annual Coast Guard appreciation events included cookouts, rescue demonstrations, baseball games and other activities.

When the economy took a turn for the worse, the committee that organized the celebrations struggled to find funds for the event.

A celebration on a much larger scale happens in Grand Haven each year.

The city on Lake Michigan celebrated its 91st annual Coast Guard Festival at the end of July. The 10-day, $482,000 festival, paid for through donations and sponsorships, started as a Coasties-only picnic in 1924.

It grew with the Coast Guard history and presence in Grand Haven — a presence that includes a station, sector field office, navigation team, lighthouse, former life-saving service station, former World War II Coast Guard training camp, and former Coast Guard rifle range.

In 1943 the people of Grand Haven raised $1.6 million in war bonds to build a cutter to replace the Escanaba, which was destroyed in a June 13, 1943, explosion that claimed the lives of 101 people.

In 1998, Grand Haven became the first designated Coast Guard City in the United States.

Since then, 16 other cities also have been designated Coast Guard Cities — including Traverse City — through an application and designation process through the U.S. Congress. The Coast Guard Festival draws about 300,000 people.

While there might not be the same celebration in Port Huron, the Coast Guard's more than 100-year watch in the city is appreciated, Frisk said.

A 10-year veteran of Great Lakes freighters, Frisk said he's always been happy to have the Coast Guard around.

"I was always glad to see them when I was in bad weather the 10 years I was out on the water," Frisk said. "I've met a lot of them over my years, even before I started sailing — I was always thankful, knowing the Coasties were around."

Port Huron Times Herald


Lookback #309 – Roger M. Kyes hit bottom at Buffalo on Sept. 22, 1976

9/22 - The American Steamship Co. self-unloader Roger M. Kyes hit bottom at Buffalo on Sept. 22, 1976. The accident of 38 years ago punched two holes in the double bottom tanks and damaged three others. Repairs were carried out at Chicago.

The 680 foot long vessel was built at Toledo for the American Steamship Co. and sailed on Aug. 22, 1973, to load iron ore at Escanaba. This was the second new American freighter built on the Great Lakes after the Merchant Marine Act of 1970 took affect.

The ship also grounded in the Trenton Channel on Oct. 29, 1987, and had to be lightered to the Richard J. Reiss to float free. Ten tugs were called to assist and this time the ship went to Sturgeon Bay for repairs.

Another grounding at Gull Island Shoal, Lake Erie, on Oct. 29, 1987, also required a return trip to Sturgeon Bay.

On June 15, 1989, the name was changed to Adam E. Cornelius and continued to trade for the American SS Co. This changed in 1994, when the vessel was chartered to Inland Steel and painted in their attractive color scheme while carrying their cargoes.

Adam E. Cornelius recently returned to active service for the American SS Co. fleet after being idle for two years.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  September 22

Saltie Gallery updated with pictures of the Ebony Ray, Edenborg, Elisabeth Schulte, and Sichem Mumbai.


Today in Great Lakes History -  September 22

On September 22, 1958, the EDMUND FITZGERALD entered service, departing River Rouge, Michigan for Silver Bay, Minnesota on its first trip. The FITZGERALD's first load was 20,038 tons of taconite pellets for Toledo. The vessel would, in later years, set several iron ore records during the period from 1965 through 1969.

While in ballast, the ROGER M. KYES struck bottom in Buffalo Harbor September 22, 1976, sustaining holes in two double bottom tanks and damage to three others, whereupon she proceeded to Chicago for dry docking on September 27, 1976, for survey and repairs. Renamed b.) ADAM E. CORNELIUS in 1989.

While being towed from Duluth, Minnesota by the Canadian tug TUSKER on September 22, 1980, the D. G. KERR rammed into the breakwater at Duluth causing $200,000 in damages to the breakwater. The tow apparently failed to make the turning buoy leaving Duluth Harbor.

On September 22, 1911 the HENRY PHIPPS collided with and sank her Steel Trust fleet mate, the steamer JOLIET of 1890, which was at anchor on the fog-shrouded St. Clair River near Sarnia, Ontario. The JOLIET sank without loss of crew and was declared a total loss. The PHIPPS then continued her downbound journey and collided with the Wyandotte Chemical steamer ALPENA, of 1909, but incurred only minor damage.

The T.W. ROBINSON and US.265808 (former BENSON FORD) departed Quebec City in tow of the Polish tug JANTAR bound for Recife where they arrived on September 22, 1987. Scrapping began the next month in October.

MATHILDA DESGAGNES was freed from polar ice in the Arctic on September 22, 1988, by the West German Icebreaker Research Vessel POLARSTERN.

September 22, 1913 - The ANN ARBOR No. 5 struck bottom in the Sturgeon Bay Canal and damaged her rudder and steering gear. After undergoing repairs at Milwaukee, she was back in service the following October.

On 22 September 1887, ADA E. ALLEN (wooden propeller steam barge, 90 foot, 170 gross tons, built in 1872, at Walpole Island, Ontario.) caught fire while moored at Amherstburg, Ontario. She was cut loose and set adrift to prevent the fire from spreading ashore. She drifted to Bois Blanc (Bob-Lo) Island and burned to a total loss.

On 22 September 1882, Mr. H. N. Jex accepted the contract to recover the engine and boiler from the MAYFLOWER, which sank in the Detroit River in 1864. He was to be paid $600 upon delivery of the machinery at Windsor, Ontario. He succeeded in raising the engine on 12 October and the boiler shortly thereafter.

1917: The wooden steamer WILLIAM P. REND, a) GEORGE G. HADLEY, foundered off Alpena while carrying livestock. All 9 crewmembers were rescued.

1951: The Liberty ship THUNDERBIRD visited the Seaway in 1959. Earlier, on this date in 1951, the ship received major bow damage from a head-on collision with the Chinese freighter UNION BUILDER (built in 1945 at Brunswick, GA as a) COASTAL RANGER) at the entrance to Colombo, Ceylon. THUNDERBIRD was also a Great Lakes trader as d) NEW KAILING in 1964 and scrapped at Kaohsiung, Taiwan, in 1967.

1979: OCEANIC KLIF first visited the Seaway in 1971. The ship stranded near Las Palmas, Canary Islands, while on a voyage from Kamsar, Guinea, West Africa, to Port Alfred, QC with calcinated bauxite and was abandoned by the crew.

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


Paul R. Tregurtha misses turn, runs aground off Bayfront Park in Duluth

9/21 - Duluth, Minn. – The longest ship on the Great Lakes was set free on Saturday evening after spending close to four hours aground in the Duluth harbor near Bayfront Festival Park.

The 1,013.5-foot Paul R. Tregurtha was wrested loose by two tugboats at about 7 p.m., said Adele Yorde, spokeswoman for the Duluth Seaway Port Authority. It had been departing with a full load of coal when it failed to negotiate the turn toward the Aerial Lift Bridge, she said.

“It was making the turn to go under the lift bridge, but it didn’t turn,” she said. “It went straight toward Bayfront Park.”

The incident occurred about 3:20 p.m., the U.S. Coast Guard said. There were no known injuries and no signs of pollution, the Coast Guard said. Ohio-based Interlake Steamship Co. owns the Tregurtha, which can carry as much as 71,000 net tons of coal, according to its website.

The stranded ship drew a crowd of spectators, many of whom were attending the Duluth Balloon Festival. No information was available on the cause of the mishap, said Lt. Judson Coleman of the Coast Guard’s Marine Safety Unit in Duluth.

The ship’s position probably did not impede other harbor traffic, Yorde said. Lift bridge operations weren’t affected.

Interlake Steamship spokesman Tom Wynne said the Tregurtha last was grounded two years ago, in the St. Marys River. The ship has gotten stuck only twice in the eight years he has worked for the company, Wynne added.

Duluth News Tribune


Port Reports -  September 21

Lorain, Ohio – Phil Leon
Algoway cleared the outer harbor at 10:30 Saturday morning.

Buffalo, N.Y. – Brian W.
Herbert C. Jackson was towed up to the ADM Standard elevator at 7 Saturday morning.

Oshawa, Ont. – Andre Blanchard
The Netherlands-flagged bulk carrier Zealand Beatrix arrived in Oshawa Saturday. The tug La Prairie is on station.


Fraser Shipyards plans bay cleanup

9/21 - Superior, Wis. – Superior’s Fraser Shipyards is planning an environmental cleanup of Howard’s Bay. The cleanup goes hand-in-hand with ongoing projects to update and improve the shipyard facility through a three-phase dock project.

“This was a heavy industrial area over the years,” said Jason Serck, Superior’s economic development, port and planning director.

With the help of federal money from the Environmental Protection Agency, Fraser Shipyards is working with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to develop a plan to clean up a heritage of contamination.

During the Hog Island cleanup that was completed in 2005, Serck said, the city played a major role in the disposal of sediment, and the city again help take some of the sediment from Howard’s Bay, also known as Howard’s Pocket.

“It won’t be all of it … but we’ve been asked to look at some options for disposal,” Serck told the Superior City Council on Tuesday night.

Tom Curelli, operations manager for Fraser Shipyards, said the goal is to get rid of the encumbrances in the water and mitigate contaminants discovered through testing — lead and tributyltin, a biocide used to prevent the growth of marine organisms on the hulls of large ships.

“It’s not the worst thing — it’s not glowing in the dark,” Curelli said. “It’s not hurting the habitat. It’s not a chronic thing, but it does need to be cleaned up … it’s got to be addressed and we’ve got to get it done now.”

Curelli said the planning for the project is expected to take about a year.

Just doing the initial phase is going to cost about $710,000 — $450,000 of which will be paid for with federal money, Curelli said. The DNR and Fraser are responsible for the remaining 35 percent of the cost.

Serck said if the City Council approves being involved in the proposal, the city’s contribution would be in-kind rather than a monetary contribution. Sediment suitable for the landfill could be used for cover, he said.

Curelli said the shipyard will provide more information before asking the City Council to help with the project.

“We’re not asking for funding,” Curelli said. “We’re asking for in-kind contributions. Moccasin Mike (landfill) perhaps or something else, but it’s not going to be a budgetary item.”

Duluth News Tribune


Whistles on the Water blasts into St. Clair this coming Saturday

9/21 - St. Clair, Mich. - The sixth annual Whistles on the Water roars and howls into downtown St. Clair Saturday morning, Sept. 27, starting about 9 a.m. The daylong festival recreates the time when steamships were the "royalty" of the Great Lakes.

Horn & Whistle magazine recently declared St. Clair's celebration of historic steam whistles the No. 1 event in North America. This is a rare - and free - opportunity to hear these historic whistles.

The St. Clair community has built a custom trailer that includes a portable steam boiler and equipment needed to blow steam whistles. Collectors and museums will bring historic whistles to the event; many have not been heard in years.

During the 19th century steamships ruled the Great Lakes. Often a ship was identified by the uniqueness of its steam whistle. Ship captains would tune their steam whistle to create a unique sound so that their ship could be identified before it could be seen.

While this custom seems quant to us today, it was very helpful to captains on the Great Lakes in identifying nearby ships in the fog and letting people know at a harbor which ship was about to dock.

When the Great Lakes shipping fleet switched from steam to diesel engines, this unique characteristic of the Great Lakes disappeared.

Another event in St. Clair that day is the St. Clair Art Association and the St. Clair Chamber of Commerce's "Chalk the Walk." Featured artists and the public are invited to use calk to create their artwork on the sidewalks of downtown St. Clair.

The Herald


Lookback #308 – Former Calgadoc sank in the Pacific as El Salinero on Sept. 21, 1982

The second Calgadoc left the Great Lakes for saltwater service as El Salinero in 1975 and usually operated in the grain trade on the Gulf of Mexico. The ship was carrying 3,800 tons of wheat when it sank in the Pacific Ocean west of El Paraiso, Mexico, 32 years ago today.

El Salinero was on a voyage from San Carlos Viejo to Santa Cruz when it went down. Two members of the crew were lost but the other 14 sailors, including seven with injuries, were rescued by Mexican naval ships.

As Calgadoc, this ship was built at Collingwood as Hull 158 and completed for N.M. Paterson & Sons Ltd. in August 1956. The 259-foot-long bulk carrier was designed for trading through the old St. Lawrence canals and, although the advent of the Seaway was on the horizon, these small ships were still in great demand to carry cargoes through the existing system of locks and channels.

Calgadoc was one of two Paterson ships damaged by the Swiss freighter Bariloche on July 20, 1963, when thick fog rapidly descended on the St. Lawrence. To the east, the Tritonica went down the same night with the loss of 33 lives.

Calgadoc tied up at Cardinal, Ont., at the end of the 1974 season and was sold on April 16, 1975, for its new career. The vessel headed south, under her own power, on May 3, 1975, for new service as El Salinero.

Skip Gillham


Today in Great Lakes History -  September 21

On September 22, 1958, the EDMUND FITZGERALD entered service, departing River Rouge, Michigan for Silver Bay, Minnesota on its first trip. The FITZGERALD's first load was 20,038 tons of taconite pellets for Toledo. The vessel would, in later years, set several iron ore records during the period from 1965 through 1969.

While in ballast, the ROGER M. KYES struck bottom in Buffalo Harbor September 22, 1976, sustaining holes in two double bottom tanks and damage to three others, whereupon she proceeded to Chicago for dry docking on September 27, 1976, for survey and repairs. Renamed b.) ADAM E. CORNELIUS in 1989.

While being towed from Duluth, Minnesota by the Canadian tug TUSKER on September 22, 1980, the D. G. KERR rammed into the breakwater at Duluth causing $200,000 in damages to the breakwater. The tow apparently failed to make the turning buoy leaving Duluth Harbor.

On September 22, 1911 the HENRY PHIPPS collided with and sank her Steel Trust fleet mate, the steamer JOLIET of 1890, which was at anchor on the fog-shrouded St. Clair River near Sarnia, Ontario. The JOLIET sank without loss of crew and was declared a total loss. The PHIPPS then continued her downbound journey and collided with the Wyandotte Chemical steamer ALPENA, of 1909, but incurred only minor damage.

The T.W. ROBINSON and US.265808 (former BENSON FORD) departed Quebec City in tow of the Polish tug JANTAR bound for Recife where they arrived on September 22, 1987. Scrapping began the next month in October.

MATHILDA DESGAGNES was freed from polar ice in the Arctic on September 22, 1988, by the West German Icebreaker Research Vessel POLARSTERN.

September 22, 1913 - The ANN ARBOR No. 5 struck bottom in the Sturgeon Bay Canal and damaged her rudder and steering gear. After undergoing repairs at Milwaukee, she was back in service the following October.

On 22 September 1887, ADA E. ALLEN (wooden propeller steam barge, 90 foot, 170 gross tons, built in 1872, at Walpole Island, Ontario.) caught fire while moored at Amherstburg, Ontario. She was cut loose and set adrift to prevent the fire from spreading ashore. She drifted to Bois Blanc (Bob-Lo) Island and burned to a total loss.

On 22 September 1882, Mr. H. N. Jex accepted the contract to recover the engine and boiler from the MAYFLOWER, which sank in the Detroit River in 1864. He was to be paid $600 upon delivery of the machinery at Windsor, Ontario. He succeeded in raising the engine on 12 October and the boiler shortly thereafter.

1917: The wooden steamer WILLIAM P. REND, a) GEORGE G. HADLEY, foundered off Alpena while carrying livestock. All 9 crewmembers were rescued.

1951: The Liberty ship THUNDERBIRD visited the Seaway in 1959. Earlier, on this date in 1951, the ship received major bow damage from a head-on collision with the Chinese freighter UNION BUILDER (built in 1945 at Brunswick, GA as a) COASTAL RANGER) at the entrance to Colombo, Ceylon. THUNDERBIRD was also a Great Lakes trader as d) NEW KAILING in 1964 and scrapped at Kaohsiung, Taiwan, in 1967.

1979: OCEANIC KLIF first visited the Seaway in 1971. The ship stranded near Las Palmas, Canary Islands, while on a voyage from Kamsar, Guinea, West Africa, to Port Alfred, QC with calcinated bauxite and was abandoned by the crew.

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


Port Reports -  September 20

Green Bay – Andy Roever
Great Republic offloaded coal at the C. Reiss dock and was headed back outbound at 11:15 a.m. Friday.

Sturgeon Bay, Wis. – Jim Conlon
The tug Victory was put in one section of the floating drydock on Thursday afternoon for repairs. The USCG Mackinaw is still in the other section of the drydock.

Port Colborne, Ont. – Nathan Attard
John J. Boland was unloading at former government elevators Thursday night and during the day Friday. She departed at 6 p.m. Friday.

Seaway – Andy Torrence
John B. Aird, damaged after a grounding last week near Morrisburg, left the Wilson Hill Seaway Anchorage early Friday morning and sailed upriver to arrive Prescott 11:17a.m. She is loaded with slag for Sept. Iles, so presumably by not resuming her voyage to unload there must have been some repair work to undertake before being allowed to proceed.


Lookback #307 – Canadian Miner broke loose and stranded off Scaterie Island on Sept. 20, 2011

The former Canadian Miner has been aground now for three years off Scaterie Island, Nova Scotia. The ship broke loose while under tow for scrapping in Turkey and came ashore in a protected area along the Nova Scotia coast. The removal of the rapidly deteriorating vessel has provided its share of challenges as the hull has been pushed closer to shore, cracked and opened up on its side.

Earlier this year, a $12 million contract was awarded by the Nova Scotia government to scrap the ship on location and haul the steel away for recycling. At this writing, there have been reports that this work is progressing with the goal of finishing the project in 2014.

Originally the Maplecliffe Hall, the 730-foot-long bulk carrier was built in sections in Montreal and Lauzon and completed at the latter shipyard in April 1966. The vessel sailed for the Hall Corporation departing on April 29.

Maplecliffe Hall lost power and sustained minor damage to the port bow from a collision with the Dutch freighter Wieldrecht on the Detroit River in October 1971.

During a down time in 1987, Maplecliffe Hall was opened for tours as a museum ship at Montreal and, that winter, was used for cement storage before being sold to C.S.L. On Dec. 15, 1992, this vessel became the final freighter to be unloaded by a Hulett at Cleveland.

The ship joined Canada Steamship Lines as their second Lemoyne in 1988 and moved to the ULS Corp. as Canadian Miner in 1994.

Canadian Miner laid up for the last time at Toronto on Dec. 24, 2008. It departed under tow on Aug. 20, 2011, and left for overseas, behind the Greek tug Hellas, on Sept. 14, 2011. Five days later it came ashore as a total loss.

Skip Gillham


Today in Great Lakes History -  September 20

John Jonathon Boland was born on 20 September 1875, in New York. Along with Adam E. Cornelius, he formed the partnership of Boland and Cornelius in 1903, and was one of the founders of the American Steamship Company in 1907. He died in 1956.

On September 20, 1986, vandals started a $5,000 fire aboard the laid up NIPIGON BAY at Kingston, Ontario, where she had been since April 1984.

GEORGE A. STINSON's self-unloading boom was replaced on September 20, 1983. The boom had collapsed onto her deck due to a mechanical failure on the night of April 19, 1983, at Detroit, Michigan. No injuries were reported. She continued hauling cargoes without a boom until replacement could be fabricated. She was renamed b.) AMERICAN SPIRIT in 2004.

On September 20, 1980, EDGAR B. SPEER entered service for the U.S. Steel Fleet.

CHARLES E. WILSON sailed light on her maiden voyage from Sturgeon Bay September 20, 1973, bound for Escanaba, Michigan, to load ore. She was renamed b.) JOHN J. BOLAND in 2000.

CHARLES M. WHITE was christened at Baltimore, Maryland, on September 20, 1951.

On 20 September 1873, W. L. PECK (2 mast wooden schooner-barge, 154 foot, 361 gross tons) was launched at Carrollton, Michigan.

On 20 September 1856, COLONEL CAMP (3-mast wooden bark, 137 foot, 350 tons, built in 1854, at Three Mile Bay, New York) was carrying wheat to Oswego, New York, when she collided with the wooden steamer PLYMOUTH and sank in just a few minutes. No lives were lost.

1970: MARATHA ENDEAVOUR, enroute from Chicago to Rotterdam, broke down in the Atlantic and sent out a distress call. The ship was taking water but survived. The 520-foot long vessel had been a Seaway trader since 1965 and returned as b) OLYMPIAN in 1971. The ship arrived at Huangpu, China, for scrapping as c) HIMALAYA on January 9, 1985.

1980: The Canadian coastal freighter EDGAR JOURDAIN was built at Collingwood in 1956 as MONTCLAIR. The ship had been a pre-Seaway trader to the lakes and returned as b) PIERRE RADISSON in 1965, c) GEORGE CROSBIE in 1972 and d) EDGAR JOURDAIN beginning in 1979. It was wrecked at Foxe Basin, off Hall Beach in the Canadian Arctic, after going aground. The ship was abandoned, with the anchors down, but disappeared overnight on December 15, 1982, while locked in shifting pack ice. It is believed that the vessel was carried into deeper water and, at last report, no trace had ever been found.

1982: BEAVERFIR served Canadian Pacific Steamships as a Seaway trader beginning in 1961. The ship stranded off Barra de Santiago, El Salvador, as d) ANDEN in a storm on this date in 1982 after dragging anchor. Sixteen sailors from the 26-member crew perished.

2011: MINER, a) MAPLECLIFFE HALL, b) LEMOYNE (ii), c) CANADIAN MINER broke loose of the tug HELLAS and drifted aground off Scaterie Island, Nova Scotia, while under tow for scrapping at Aliaga, Turkey. The ship was a total loss and, in 2013, was still waiting to be dismantled and removed.

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


Floragracht hits St. Lawrence River bottom

9/19 - Thursday afternoon the upbound saltie Floragracht hit the rocky bottom of the St. Lawrence River near the village of Port Neuf, about half way between Quebec City and Trois Rivieres. She remains anchored a short distance down river from where she struck. The latest report from the Laurentian Pilotage is that she will go back down river to Quebec City for inspection. Floragracht has cargo for Hamilton and Cleveland and this was to be her first trip onto the Lakes.

Ron Beaupre


New Heritage Marine tug Nancy J arrives at Duluth

9/19 - Duluth, Minn. – The tug Nancy J arrived in the Twin Ports at mid-morning on September 18 on her maiden voyage into the harbor, docking briefly behind the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center before moving to the fleet's home berth in Superior. She is the newest addition to Mike Ojard's Heritage Marine tug fleet. Nancy J. is 87.6 feet long, 29.6 feet wide, and 11.2 feet in depth. She was built in Houme, La., by Marine Iron Works for the Aluminum Company of America. She was later named Horace and Point Comfort prior to becoming Nancy J. She currently has a black hull, green deckhouse, and white pilothouse, but will be repainted in the fleet colors of the old DM&IR Railway tug Edna G (1896).

Thom Holden


Port Reports -  September 19

St. Marys River – Daniel Lindner
ASC's Adam E. Cornelius, which has been in long-term layup in Toledo since the end of the 2011 shipping season, passed through the Soo Locks upbound on Thursday afternoon, bound for Silver Bay, Minn., to load iron ore pellets at Northshore Mining. When the tug/barge combination Lakes Contender/Ken Boothe Sr. entered service in May of 2012 under charter of the American Steamship Company, she replaced the Adam E. Cornelius. But, due to the harsh winter of 2013-2014, ASC returned the Cornelius to service. Other passages through the locks on Thursday evening included the upbound Thunder Bay, the saltie Nogat, and Paul R. Tregurtha, and the downbound Mesabi Miner, Great Lakes Trader and her tug, Joyce L.VanEnkevort, and Spruceglen.

Port Inland, Mich. – Denny Dushane
A busy Saturday is on tap with three vessels scheduled. Due in first is the Joseph H. Thompson in the late morning followed by the afternoon arrivals of Manitowoc and Joseph L. Block. Rounding out the schedule will be the Wilfred Sykes, expected to arrive on Sunday in the late afternoon hours.

Cedarville, Mich. – Denny Dushane
Wilfred Sykes was expected to arrive just ahead of midnight on Wednesday. They were still loading on Thursday in the morning. Due to arrive on Thursday is the Philip R. Clarke during the evening hours. Rounding out the schedule will be the Joseph L. Block due on Friday in the late afternoon to early evening hours.

Stoneport, Mich. – Denny Dushane
Pathfinder and Dorothy Ann loaded on Thursday and they were expected to depart around 6:45 a.m. Two vessels are due to load on Friday both in the late afternoon with the Arthur M. Anderson arriving first and followed a bit later by the Lewis J. Kuber/Olive L. Moore. Due to arrive on Saturday is the Great Republic in the early morning hours. There will be three vessels scheduled to load on Sunday with the John G. Munson due first in the morning hours followed by the Cason J. Callaway arriving in the early afternoon hours. Rounding out the schedule is the Lewis J. Kuber during the late evening hours on Sunday.

Calcite, Mich. – Denny Dushane
The revised schedule lists the John G. Munson arriving on Thursday during the late evening hours to load at the North Dock. Adam E. Cornelius has had a change in orders and no longer is on the loading schedule. There are no vessels scheduled to load at Calcite on Friday. Due on Saturday is the Lakes Contender/Ken Boothe Sr. due in the late evening hours for the South Dock. Rounding out the schedule will be the John J. Boland due to arrive on Sunday in the early evening hours for the North Dock.

Grand Haven, Mich. – Dick Fox
The Undaunted and Pere Marquette 41 came in early Thursday morning with a load for Verplank's dock in Ferrysburg. It was observed backing out through the pier heads about 3:15 and headed north.

Toledo, Ohio – Denny Dushane
Atlantic Erie was expected to arrive at the Torco Dock in the early afternoon on Thursday to unload an iron ore cargo. Other vessels arriving with iron ore cargoes for the Torco Dock include the H. Lee White due on Sunday in the early afternoon. The Manitowoc is due on September 27 in the early afternoon. James R. Barker making a rare visit is due to arrive at the Torco Dock on September 28 just after midnight and also due in on September 28 at the Torco Dock will be the James L. Kuber. There are two vessels due at the Midwest Terminal Stone Dock with limestone cargoes and they are the Algosteel on Friday in the early morning hours followed by the Michipicoten on Saturday also in the early morning. Vessels due at the CSX Coal Dock to load coal include the Saginaw on Friday during the late morning hours. Sam Laud is also due on Friday to load at the CSX Coal Dock in the late afternoon. The Michipicoten is due on Saturday in the morning. Indiana Harbor making a rare visit to the CSX Coal Dock is due to load there on Sunday in the early morning. Rounding out the schedule is the H. Lee White for the CSX Coal Dock on Sunday during the late evening. Four other vessels were also in port at the time of this report and they were the tugs Huron Service and barge along with the tug Karen Andrie and barge. Calumet remains in port, tied-up at one of the CSX docks, and the salty Fritz of Liberian registry remains detained at the Midwest Terminal Overseas Dock.


US Steel won’t expand Keetac plant

9/19 - Duluth, Minn. – U.S. Steel Corp. announced Wednesday that it has shelved a proposed expansion of its Keetac taconite operations in Keewatin.

The proposed $300 million expansion would have nearly doubled production to about 9.6 million tons of taconite iron ore pellets annually, up from about 5.2 million tons today, and added 100 new jobs at the facility that employs about 400 people The expansion, first announced in 2008, had been heralded as another sign of growth in Minnesota’s taconite industry. It would have been the largest taconite plant expansion in more than 30 years on the Iron Range.

The Pittsburgh-based steel giant received state permits for the project in 2011 and would have been required to meet the state’s 10-parts-per-million standard for sulfate in wastewater — a rule that has not been enforced — no later than Aug. 17, 2019.

But corporate officials said the extra iron ore isn’t needed at this point.

“U.S. Steel considered its future raw materials needs for iron ore and coke and found its current production capability sufficient,’’ a corporate statement noted.

The company on Wednesday also scrubbed plans for two new modules at its Gary Works blast furnace facility in Indiana that would have boosted its steelmaking capacity. Combined, the company expects to save $800 million by not proceeding with the projects.

The company said it will let its permits expire and will not attempt to renew them, signaling that the decision is final.

“The decisions to stop further efforts relative to these investments represent another step in our transformation to earn the right to grow,” Mario Longhi, U.S. Steel president and CEO, said in a prepared statement.

“These strategic decisions allow us to redirect funding to projects to further develop advanced high strength steels for our automotive customers, premium connections for our energy market customers and capital expenditures to update and modernize our operations,” Longhi said.

United Steelworkers Union local officials said they were notified Wednesday morning. While the news was disheartening, they said it wasn’t unexpected considering the company’s lack of action in recent months on the proposed project.

Keewatin Mayor Bill King said he had heard of the decision earlier in the day. He said he’s disappointed but also not necessarily surprised, noting U.S. Steel had been going slow on the effort for several years.

“Absolutely, another 100 jobs would have been great. But the main thing is that they don’t go down from where they are now,’’ King said. “I just hope they can keep their current level (of production and employment) going.”

Duluth News Tribune


U.S. Steel Canada files for bankruptcy protection

9/19 - Hamilton, Ont. – U.S. Steel Canada, citing years of operating losses, has filled for court-supervised protection to give the company a chance to restructure in hopes of being able to better compete in the North American steel industry.

The former Stelco Inc, which U.S. Steel bought in 2007, has recorded a loss from operations in each of the last five years for an aggregate operaing loss of about $2.4 billion since 2009, the company and its parent, U.S. Steel, said in statements issued after markets closed on Tuesday.

"The company has obtained a court order from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice for creditor protection under the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act," U.S. Steel Canada said.

The order provides a stay of certain creditor claims against during the CCAA process and appoints Ernst and Young as monitor. Under the CCAA process, U.S. Steel Canada will carry on business as usual while it develops and implements a comprehensive restructuring solution, the company said.

In a separate announcement issued by U.S. Steel from its Pittsburgh headquarters, the company said it had agreed to provide the Canadian operation with $185 million (about US $165 million) of secured debtor-in-possession financing to support current operations through the end of 2015.

"Despite substantial efforts over the past several years to make U. S. Steel Canada profitable, it is clear that restructuring U.S. Steel Canada is critical to improving our long-term business outlook, Michael McQuade, president and general manager of U.S. Steel Canada, said in a statement.

"Operational changes, cost reduction initiatives and streamlining of operations cannot on their own make it competitive in the current environment. Entering CCAA was the only responsible course of action under the circumstances and it was taken only after all other options were thoroughly explored."

McQuade said that for the restructuring to be successful, the process will require "a commitment from all relevant stakeholders to pursue innovative solutions that will create a restructured business that can compete in the North American market for the long term."

"We are grateful for the continuing support of our customers, suppliers and employees at this time and look forward to working together to develop an appropriate solution for the benefit of stakeholders," he added.

William Aziz of Blue Tree Advisors II Inc., as chief restructuring officer effective immediately.

The CCAA filing was among three major strategic moves announced by the parent company on Tuesday, including a decision not proceed with an expansion at its iron ore pellet operations in Keewatin, Minn., and to forgo further development and construction of the carbon alloy facilities at Gary Works in Gary, Ind.

It addition to continue operating losses, it noted that the Canadian operation also represented about $1 billion of the parent company's consolidated employee benefits liability as of June 30.

"We know this was not an easy decision for U.S. Steel Canada's independent directors," company president and CEO Mario Longhi said, adding that the move would allow U.S. Steel Canada to continue to operate while exploring restructuring alternatives.

"We believe these actions will provide longer term stability for U.S. Steel's employees, suppliers and customers," he said.

U. S. Steel Canada, with operations at Lake Erie Works and Hamilton Works, has the capability of producing approximately 2.6 million tons of steel annually and employs about 2,000 people.

The Record


Second monthly vessel added to the Cleveland-Europe Express service

9/19 - Cleveland, Ohio – The Port of Cleveland and Amsterdam-based Spliethoff Group have announced plans to add a second monthly vessel to the Cleveland-Europe Express (CEE), the only scheduled ocean service for containerized and breakbulk freight operating between Europe and a Great Lakes port.

“We are extremely pleased to announce our intent to add a second sailing to the CEE starting next season or perhaps sooner to better accommodate the needs of the containerized segment of the market, which requires more frequent sailings,” said Will Friedman, CEO of the Port of Cleveland. With two ships, the CEE will offer regularly scheduled departures every two weeks.”

The CEE has been operating since April with one ship, the Fortunagracht. It is providing shippers with customized shipping solutions and faster door-to-door transit times between Europe and

“We have established the CEE as a legitimate, cost effective alternative for the breakbulk and heavy lift market,” said Bart Peters, Director Atlantic Department, Spliethoff Group.

“Now with the second ship, we can offer a very attractive option for container shippers. The advantages of an all-water service to the U.S. Midwest, combined with our transshipment connections in Antwerp throughout Europe and the world, make this a very powerful alternative.”

Cleveland-Europe Express


Wreck of schooner Plymouth identified on Lake Erie

9/19 - Cleveland, Ohio – In the early morning hours of June 23, 1852, the schooner Plymouth was sailing on Lake Erie from Huron, Ohio, to Buffalo, New York, with a mixed cargo of wheat, flour and other goods.

Suddenly the sidewheel steamer Northern Indiana, carrying a full load of passengers, burst from the murk, slamming into the schooner amidships at nearly a right angle, burying its bow into the Plymouth.

The hapless schooner quickly sank, but its 10-man crew escaped in the ship's lifeboat and were taken aboard the Northern Indiana.

The Plymouth lay at the bottom of Lake Erie, about 20 miles off Cleveland, for 144 years until the wreck was discovered in 1996. Though found, it could not be identified. Because it featured a tiller, instead of a wheel, to steer the ship, it became known as the "Cleveland Tiller Wreck."

Until now. The National Museum of the Great Lakes, in collaboration with the Cleveland Underwater Explorers, announced Tuesday that the so-called tiller wreck is actually the Plymouth.

According to the museum, the wreck's original discoverer, Rob Ruetschle, became a member of the Cleveland Underwater Explorers (CLUE), a nonprofit corporation composed of divers, historians and archaeologists studying shipwrecks of the Great Lakes, particularly Lake Erie.

Ruetschle suggested that CLUE survey the wreck in 2013 to see if its identity could be determined. That survey, funded by the National Museum of the Great Lakes/Great Lakes Historical Society of Toledo, involved CLUE members David VanZandt, Kevin Magee and Tom Kowalczk.

"Every time we find a new one it's exciting," said VanZandt, CLUE director and chief archaeologist. "It puts the wreck in historical context for Northeast Ohio ... ties the wreck back to the community, as opposed to being just a wreck out in the lake."

And, as VanZandt noted, there are plenty of unidentified wrecks out there, known only by their nicknames -- like the "515 barge," the "117th Street tug," the "east breakwall barge," and the "stone schooner."

Dives were made in July and August of 2013, and in June of this year. The wreck showed obvious signs of a collision with another vessel.

"The damage observed on the wreck is consistent with a collision from a sidewall steamer of this era, which had sharply raked bows for higher speeds," a museum news release said.

"When we got down there, we were swimming along the starboard rail, then the rail disappeared," VanZandt said. "There was a big gash that ran more than halfway across ship. It was a very narrow cut, like a knife slicing through bread."

VanZandt said collisions were common in those early years of lake commerce. Often those accidents were due to poor navigation lights that couldn't be seen at night.

After obtaining dimensions of the ship and preparing a detailed site plan, that survey data was compared with archival research collected by CLUE member Jim Paskert to prove that the wreck was the Plymouth, built in Huron in 1847.

"We're very careful doing all those comparisons before we try to put a name on something," VanZandt said. "If we get it wrong, it tends to stick. So if we don't know what it is, we don't name it."

Christopher Gillcrest, executive director of the National Museum of the Great Lakes, said one difficulty in identifying 19th-century boats is that often those vessels did not have a name carved on a board or bell on the ship. Or, the nameplate may have been lost in the wreck or to looters.

He also noted, "Boats do have a serial number burned into the keel as per federal regulation, but finding that number (if it survived the wreck) is next to impossible because the only way you find it is on the keel at the bottom of the cargo hold. Silt, wreckage and the nature of the cargo prevents finding that information if it survived at all.

"There are probably hundreds of shipwrecks on the Great Lakes that have been found but not identified," Gillcrist said. "The hardest part of identifying the Plymouth was that there was little information on the boat or the wreck itself. Our guys had to dig deep to come up with the hypothesis of the Plymouth and then find documentary evidence to support it.

"The National Museum of the Great Lakes collaborates with CLUE and other research groups across the Great Lakes to discover, identify and survey the submerged cultural history of the Great Lakes," he added. "We are able to offer our library, the expertise of our on staff archaeologist Carrie Sowden and financial funding to reduce the impact of research costs on our volunteer team."


Lookback #306 – Saturn sank off Sauble Beach on Sept. 19, 1901

The wooden steamer Saturn spent five years in the Great Lakes lumber trade. However, it had a cargo of coal on board for a voyage from Cleveland to Owen Sound when it sank 113 years ago today.

The vessel went down off Sauble Beach, Ont., a pleasant holiday community on the Lake Huron side of the Bruce Peninsula. The crew of seven took to the lifeboat and survived a 7½ hour ride to shore.

Originally known as the City of Owen Sound, the ship had been built at its namesake port in 1875. It carried passengers and bulk cargoes including salt and grain and traveled to a variety of ports on Georgian Bay and the upper Great Lakes.

City of Owen Sound suffered numerous troubles over the years that included a grounding in the North Channel in October 1881, another off the Michipicoten River in Nov. 1884, sinking after striking Robertson's Rock near Little Current in Oct. 1887 and losing its cabins.

Refloated and rebuilt as a steam barge in 1891-1892, it had another grounding on a shoal off the Bruce Peninsula on Nov. 5, 1895 and when rebuilt over the winter, it resumed service as Saturn. What's left of the old ship sits on the bottom in about 85 feet of water after the Sept. 19, 1901, sinking

Skip Gilllham


Today in Great Lakes History -  September 19

At Rush Street in Chicago, Illinois, a hand-operated ferry carried pedestrians across the Chicago River. The ferry operator would pull on a rope, hand over hand, to move the ferry across the river. At a signal from schooners, the rope was dropped and the schooner would sail over it. On 19 September 1856, the rope was dropped but the impatient passengers picked it up to move the ferry themselves. The incoming schooner snagged the rope and the ferry was spun around and capsized. 15 people were drowned.

When Cleveland Tankers’ new SATURN entered service and made her first trip to Toledo, Ohio, on September 19, 1974, she became the first of three tankers built for the fleet's modernization program. EDGAR B. SPEER departed the shipyard on her maiden voyage for U.S. Steel on September 19, 1980, bound for Two Harbors, Minnesota, where she loaded her first cargo of taconite pellets.

The twin-screw rail car ferry GRAND HAVEN of 1903, was laid up in the spring of 1965, at the old Pennsylvania Dock at Cleveland, Ohio and later at dockage on the Old River Bed where she sank on September 19, 1969.

September 19, 1997 - officials at Lake Michigan Carferry, Inc. announced that the CITY OF MIDLAND 41 would be converted to a barge.

On 19 September 1893, SAMUEL BOLTON (wooden schooner-barge, 150 foot, 330 gross tons, built in 1867, at Bangor, Michigan as a schooner) was loaded with lumber and being towed in fog in Lake Huron. She got lost from the tow and drifted ashore near Richmond, Michigan where she broke in two and was then torn apart by waves. She was owned by Brazil Hoose of Detroit.

On Saturday, 19 September 1891, at 11 a.m., the whaleback steamer CHARLES W. WETMORE left Philadelphia, Pennsylvania loaded with the materials to build a nail mill, iron smelter and shipyard for the new city of Everett, Washington. Her skipper was Captain Joseph B. Hastings and she had a crew of 22.

On 19 September 1900, the Great Lakes schooner S.L. WATSON foundered off Cape Cod, Massachusetts. She had been sent to the Atlantic the previous autumn by her owner, J. C. Gilchrist of Cleveland.

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


Port Reports -  September 18

Port Inland, Mich. – Denny Dushane
Pere Marquette 41 and tug Undaunted were expected to arrive on Wednesday during the early morning. Rounding out the schedule will be three vessels arriving on Saturday at Port Inland, with the Manitowoc due first in the morning followed by the Joseph L. Block during the early afternoon. The Joseph H. Thompson is also due on Saturday during the early afternoon.

Cedarville, Mich. – Denny Dushane
Three vessels are all expected to arrive on Thursday, with the Wilfred Sykes arriving first in the early morning to be followed by the Pere Marquette 41/Undaunted in the early afternoon. Rounding out the schedule will be the Philip R. Clarke, arriving during the late evening on Thursday.

Stoneport, Mich. – Denny Dushane
Joseph H. Thompson and the Pathfinder were expected to arrive at Stoneport to load on Wednesday. The Thompson was due to arrive during the morning, while the Pathfinder was due to arrive in the early afternoon. There are no vessels scheduled to load on Thursday. Due Friday in the early morning is the Cason J. Callaway followed during the early afternoon by USS/GLF fleetmate the Arthur M. Anderson. Expected to arrive on Saturday in the morning is the Great Republic. Three vessels are due to arrive on Sunday with the John G. Munson arriving first during the morning followed by her USS/GLF fleetmate Cason J. Callaway during the late morning. Rounding out the schedule is the Lewis J. Kuber due to arrive on Sunday in the early afternoon.

Calcite, Mich. – Denny Dushane
The tug Defiance and barge Ashtabula loaded at Calcite on Tuesday and were expected to depart around 5 a.m. on Wednesday howeve, they were still loading at that time. Also expected to arrive on Wednesday is the Pere Marquette 41/Undaunted in the early evening hours. Adam E. Cornelius is expected to arrive on Thursday morning to load at the North Dock. This will be the Cornelius' first load of the season and her first trip from lay-up in Toledo since January 2012 when the ship laid up in Toledo. John G. Munson is also expected to arrive and load at the North Dock on Thursday in the early evening. There are no vessels scheduled to load Friday.

Toledo, Ohio – Denny Dushane
The ASC 1,000-footer American Century arrived in Toledo in a rare visit to load at the CSX Coal Dock on Wednesday morning. Due next is the Buffalo, on Thursday in the early afternoon. The Saginaw is due at the CSX Coal Dock on Friday in the morning. Indiana Harbor will be making a rare visit is due to load at the CSX Coal Dock on Saturday in the late evening and they will be followed by the H. Lee White which is due at the CSX Coal Dock on Sunday in the early evening. Two vessels are expected to arrive at the Midwest Terminal Stone Dock with the Algosteel arriving first on Friday in the early morning. CSL Tadoussac is expected to arrive with a stone cargo for the Midwest Terminal Stone Dock on September 30 at about noon. Vessels arriving at the Torco Dock to unload iron ore include Atlantic Erie due on Thursday in the morning. H. Lee White is due on Sunday in the morning. Due to arrive on Tuesday, September 23 will be the James L. Kuber during the late evening. Adam E. Cornelius, which had been laid-up at the Old Interlake Iron Company Dock since January 16, 2012, departed her lay-up dock on Wednesday and was enroute to Calcite to load. This leaves just two ASC steamers, the American Fortitude and American Valor, left in long-term layup. Several other ships were in port at the time of this report with the John J. Boland up iver at one of the Toledo grain elevator docks. The saltwater vessel Fritz of Liberian registry still remains detained in port at the Midwest Overseas Terminal Dock. Calumet was also in port, as were the tugs Huron Service and the tug Paul L. Luedtke.


Lookback #305 – Railcar ferry Ashtabula sank following collision on Sept. 18, 1958

9/18 - The rail car ferry Ashtabula was hit on the starboard side by the inbound bulk carrier Ben Moreell in Ashtabula harbor on Sept. 18, 1958. The bow of the ore ship penetrated seven feet into the hull of the ferry and the latter sank on its side.

Ashtabula regularly carried rail cars across Lake Erie between Ashtabula and Port Burwell and had made a low total of 49 round trips that year before the accident. It had been active on this route since entering service in 1906 and, at its peak, was making two round trips per day between the two ports.

All on board the Ashtabula got off safely, yet there was still two lives lost that are directly associated with the accident. The distraught ferry captain later took his own life and an insurance inspector fell 17 feet to his death while examining the wreck.

Ashtabula was later refloated ant scrapped at Ashtabula in 1958-1959. The Ben Moreell, a member of the Wilson fleet, later sailed under the Kinsman banner as Alastair Guthrie. It last operated in September 1984 and was subsequently sold for scrap. This vessel arrived at Port Maitland, Ont., to be demolished in November 1985.

Skip Gillham


Today in Great Lakes History -  September 18

On September 18, 1855, SEBASTOPOL (wooden side-wheel steamer, 230 foot, 863 tons, built in 1855, at Cleveland, Ohio) was sailing on Lake Michigan in a gale. Her cargo included copper, tin, lead and iron ingots, safes and general merchandise. Her skipper misread the shore lights while she was coming in to Milwaukee and she stranded 500 feet from shore, broadside to the storm waves which pounded her to pieces. Most of the crew and 60 passengers were saved with the help of small boats from shore, but about 6 lives were lost. This was the vessel's first year of operation. Her paddlewheels were 50 feet in diameter.

On September 18,1679, GRIFFON, the first sailing ship on the upper Lakes, left Green Bay with a cargo of furs. She left the explorer Robert Cavelier, Sieur de la Salle, behind. GRIFFON never reached her planned destination.

E J BLOCK, a.) W. R. WOODFORD of 1908, returned to service on September 18, 1946, as the first large bulk freighter powered by a diesel-electric power plant and one of the first equipped with commercial radar on the Great Lakes. She lasted until scrapped at Ramey's Bend in 1988.

On September 18, 1959, the HENRY FORD II ran aground in the St. Marys River and damaged 18 bottom plates.

LAKE WINNIPEG was the first vessel to enter the Nipigon Transport fleet. She loaded her first cargo of 22,584 gross tons of iron ore clearing Sept Isles, Quebec, on September 18, 1962, bound for Cleveland, Ohio.

The Pere Marquette carferry CITY OF MIDLAND 41 (Hull#311) was launched on September 18, 1940, at Manitowoc, Wisconsin. She was built by Manitowoc Shipbuilding Corporation at a cost of $2 million. She was named after Midland, Michigan, for one of the Pere Marquette Railway's biggest customers, Dow Chemical Co. She was christened by Miss Helen Dow, daughter of Willard H. Dow, president of Dow Chemical Co. Converted to a barge in 1998, renamed PERE MARQUETTE 41.

On September 18, 1871, E. B. ALLEN (wooden schooner, 111 foot, 275 tons, built in 1864, at Ogdensburg, New York) was carrying grain when she collided with the bark NEWSBOY and sank off Thunder Bay Island in Lake Huron.

On September 18, 1900, the large steamer CAPTAIN THOMAS WILSON was taken from her launch site on the Black River in Port Huron out to the St. Clair River. The tug HAYNES was at the bow and the tug BOYNTON at the stern. It took an hour and a half to maneuver through the various bridges. Newspapers estimated that a couple thousand persons watched the event. Once the WILSON made it to the St. Clair River, she was towed to Jenks Shipbuilding Company where she was completed and received her machinery.

1909: LACKAWANNA lost steering and sank in the St. Clair River with a hole in the starboard bow after a collision with the wooden schooner CHIEFTAIN off Point Edward.

1918: BUFFALO, formerly the Great Lakes package freighter a) TADOUSAC, b) DORIC, was torpedoed by U-117 and sunk off Godfrey Light and Trevose Head, Cornwall, UK

1942: ASHBAY traded on the Great Lakes for Bay Line Navigation from 1923 until 1935 when it was sold for Brazilian coastal service. The ship was sunk by gunfire from U-516 on this date at the mouth of the Marowyne River, Brazil, as c) ANTONICO and 16 lives were lost.

1942: NORFOLK, enroute from Surinam to Trinidad, was hit, without warning, by two torpedoes from U-175, on the starboard side near the British Guiana Venezuela border. The Canada Steamship Lines ship went down in minutes. Six lives were lost was well as the cargo of 3055 tons of bauxite destined for Alcoa.

1958: ASHTABULA sank in Ashtabula harbor after a collision with the inbound BEN MOREELL. All on board were rescued but there were later two casualties when the captain committed suicide and an insurance inspector fell to his death while on board.

1970: HIGHLINER was heavily damaged amidships as d) PETROS in a fire at Tyne, UK. The vessel was not repaired and, after being laid up at Cardiff, was towed to Newport, Monmouthshire, for scrapping on June 12, 1972.

1978: The British freighter DUNDEE was a pre-Seaway trader into the Great Lakes and returned through the new waterway on 14 occasions from 1959 to 1962. It foundered in the Mediterranean as g) VLYHO near Falconera Island after an enginer oom explosion caused leaks in the hull. The vessel was enroute from Chalkis, Greece, to Tunis, Tunisia, at the time.

Data from: Skip Gillham, Joe Barr, Dave Swayze, Max Hanley, Father Dowling Collection, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series. This is a small sample, the books include many other vessels with a much more detailed history.


Adam E. Cornelius departs Toledo

9/17 - Toledo, Ohio - On Wednesday morning the Adam E. Cornelius departed her long-term lay-up dock. This is the first time that the Cornelius has sailed since 2011, she did not sail or fit-out during the 2012 and 2013 shipping seasons each of which having been spent in Toledo. Due to demand for hulls to move cargo on the Great Lakes, the decision was made to re-activate the Cornelius and to return her to service.

The Adam E. Cornelius' first cargo is expected to be limestone from Calcite where it is expected the ship will arrive sometime on September 18. From there, the ship will then take the stone cargo to Duluth-Superior and unload at the Graymont Dock before heading up to Silver Bay, Minnesota for a load or iron ore pellets.

With the return to service of the Adam E. Cornelius in 2014, this now leaves two ASC steamers that have not sailed since 2008 in lay-up at Toledo with the American Fortitiude and American Valor. It is expected that both of these two classic steamers will at some point meet their end as it has been mentioned that the American Fortitude is expected to be scrapped soon, while the American Valor has had parts stripped for use aboard some of the USS/GLF triple A vessels.

Denny Dushane


Boblo boat Columbia towed to Toledo as first step toward refurbishment

9/17 - Detroit, Mich. – The passenger vessel Columbia, one of the beloved but battered former Boblo boats, has left Detroit for what is likely the last time.

Shortly after 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, the steamer left her longtime home in Ecorse, towed away by the tugs Captain Keith and Manitou to Toledo. It is there that the nonprofit Columbia Project will dry dock the vessel and get her shipshape again. Or at least shipshape enough to make the trek to New York state by next August. The Columbia Project has spent years working on a plan to return the boat to service in the Hudson River Valley – and will spend some $10 million to $20 million to do it.

The National Historic Landmark vessel is now the oldest surviving passenger steam vessel in the United States, and the best remaining work by one of America’s greatest naval architects, Frank E. Kirby.

Built in 1902, the Columbia combines a spectacular array of design, engineering, and aesthetic innovations. At 207’ in length and 60’ in breadth, the ship was designed to carry 3,200 passengers comfortably on her five decks. Her interiors were created in collaboration with the painter and designer Louis O. Keil. The ship is adorned with mahogany paneling, etched and leaded glass, gilded moldings, a grand staircase, and an innovative open-air ballroom.

The Columbia’s massive 1,200-horsepower triple-expansion reciprocating steam engine, surrounded by viewing galleries, will become an unforgettable demonstration of early steam technologies for visitors. Laid up and minimally maintained for the past 15 years, the ship has suffered an accelerating decline in her condition.

This means Detroit has likely seen the last of the SS Columbia. To learn more about the S.S. Columbia project, go to

Detroit Free Press


Severstal closes sale of Dearborn plant, exits U.S.

9/17 - Dearborn, Mich. – Russian steelmaker Severstal has completed the sale of its Dearborn and Columbus, Miss., steel plants to AK Steel. Severstal sold its Dearborn plant for $700 million and the Columbus mill to Steel Dynamics for $1.63 billion.

Since purchasing it in 2003 for $285 million, the Russian company invested $1.4 billion in a mill that was once part of Henry Ford's historic Rouge complex.

"I would like to express gratitude to the whole team and to every employee of Severstal North America for achieving a lot together," Alexey Mordashov, Severstal CEO said in a statement. "I wish you the best of luck in all your future endeavors."

About 1,800 workers work at the plant today. The decision to sell the plants, first announced in July, comes amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine and a deteriorating Russian economy.

The sale also comes several months after Severstal won approval for a revised state permit to release higher levels of certain pollutants into the air.

An attorney suing Severstal in July told the Free Press he hopes AK Steel will be more willing to work with the local community on air pollution issues.

Detroit Free Press


CSL announces changes to leadership team

9/17 - Montreal, Q.C. – CSL President and CEO Rod Jones has announced two new appointments.

Effective Jan. 1, 2015, Louis Martel, currently president of Canada Steamship Lines, will assume the position of President, CSL International.

In this role, Martel will be responsible for the leadership of CSL’s international divisions, namely CSL Americas, CSL Europe, CSL Asia, CSL Australia and CSL Transhipment. He will continue to be based in Montreal.

Martel will also retain his group-wide responsibilities as head of the following programs: Safety and SafePartners, Environmental Technologies and Innovation, Sustainability and Regulatory Compliance, Global Ship Management, and Global Technical Services.

Martel joined CSL as Naval Architect in 1997, and transferred to CSL Americas as Director, Technical Operations in 2003. He was promoted to Vice-President, Technical Operations in 2006, and President of Canada Steamship Lines in 2012. Building on the solid foundation and momentum established by Louis Martel in Canada, Allister Paterson will be joining CSL as President of Canada Steamship Lines, effective in January 2015.

Paterson has over 20 years experience in the transportation industry, most recently as Senior Vice President of Finnair’s Commercial Division. Prior to joining Finnair, he was President and CEO of Seaway Marine Transport.

Paterson began his career at Pacific Western Airlines (predecessor to Canadian Airlines) before joining Air New Zealand in senior roles including Acting-CEO in 1998. Prior to joining Seaway Marine Transport, he was the President and CEO of Air Canada Vacations.



When ships sail into Cleveland, Seamen's Service knows how to shout 'Ahoy!'

9/17 - Cleveland, Ohio – When the Polish freighter Mamry steamed in to Cleveland Harbor early Wednesday, its captain and crew had been on the water 11 straight days. They left high seas in the North Atlantic for round-the-clock shifts through the locks of the St. Lawrence Seaway.

Now a city of shiny glass buildings and stately towers – plus restaurants and dance clubs – rose enticingly close. Jim Clark made sure the sailors knew they were welcome.

Wearing a bright orange vest that lets him move about the Port of Cleveland, Clark climbed a steep gangplank and followed an escort to the captain's quarters, where he delivered news of free Wi-Fi, postcards and directions, available at his office a short walk away.

And that stadium looming to port? American football would be played there on Sunday, he said.

"Cleveland Browns?" Capt. Sylvester Kacrzarksi asked in thickly accented English. "Maybe there is time enough this time."

That encounter, a version of which unfolds every few days during the shipping season, ranks among the little known but much appreciated protocols on the lakefront.

Clark, 65, is president of the Cleveland Seamen's Service, an institution about as familiar to visiting seafarers as a Lake Erie lighthouse.

The all-volunteer group greets foreign ships and their sailors and helps them to make the most of their port-of-call. The service turned 50 years old this month, making it one of the oldest private seamen services on the continent--and one of only two still holding out a lamp on the Great Lakes.

Its relevancy was quickly validated by younger members of the Mamry crew, who followed Clark across the docks to the Seamen's Service office--a modest, box-like building with a crow's nest at the edge of the port, in the shadow of FirstEnergy Stadium.

They wanted to talk to wives and children and girlfriends via the Internet. They wanted directions to a "disco club." They wanted the bus to Walmart.

"Some of us are interested in American football," said Marek Paszcuk, the first mate in a crew of 20. "How much the tickets?"

Clark grimaced.

"You know," he brightened, "we have a baseball team playing, too."

At its birth in 1964, the Seamen's Service shepherded a larger flock. Foreign ships called upon Cleveland more frequently in the early days of the Seaway, sending their sailors into the city for several days, sometimes a week at a time.

Accustomed to bigger ocean ports, the sailors often struggled do find someone who spoke their language or cooked their food. Claire MacMurray Howard, a popular columnist for The Plain Dealer, noticed that many never ventured beyond the dim taverns of the Flats.

She founded the Cleveland Seamen's Service to connect the sailors to the city, modeling it after seamen services found in ocean ports around the world.

According to historical accounts, the city embraced her concept. MacMurray Howard mustered a force of 300 volunteers, men and women who guided captains and crew to ethnic markets, soccer games, bowling alleys and cultural dances.

Veteran members say she was passionate about her goal of making Cleveland renowned as the "friendliest port in the world."

The challenge has changed but the quest remains much the same.

Today, larger ships arrive with smaller crews for shorter stays. The port sees two to three ocean ships a week from May to December. They unload quickly, with their own cranes, and are often gone in a day or two.

Still, that's time enough to dash to the store, Skype home, enjoy a good meal and even catch a ball game. That's time enough to feel welcomed.

"We are the face of Cleveland to the international visitors," said Rita Clark, a volunteer for 17 years. "We want to welcome them to our city."

The Cleveland Seamen's Service counts 21 active members, including Jim and Rita Clark of Brecksville. Most are retirees but the ranks also include young professionals and downtown office workers.

The group would love to add some speakers of Polish, Ukrainian and Tagalog, the language of the Philippines. That would linguistically cover most of the sailors sailing in on the Seaway, Clark said.

But when phrasebooks fail, English and pantomime are often enough. Many of the ships return year after year and the crews become familiar.

Maggie Wendel had the duty when a sailor she knew visited the office to talk with his family via the Internet. He had Wendel say hello to his daughter.

"The most important thing for the sailors is their families," said Wendel, a retired Euclid social worker. "Then comes the sightseeing and the shopping."

She joined the service 45 years ago, hoping to reconnect with her German roots among German ships. As the longest-serving member, she has plenty of stories of sailors and their misadventures.

Those tales shine more vividly these days, as the group marks a half-century on the waterfront with celebrations like a birthday party Saturday at Pier W in Lakewood.

Reminiscing at the Seamen's Service office last week, Gisela Luck recalled the Burmese sailors who sought to defect one day in the 1990s.

"They walked in here, seven of them," she recalled. "Only one of them spoke English."

She said they were upset not with their dictatorial government but with the ship's food; that, and lousy working conditions.

Luck called the port authority, which alerted an immigration agent, who arrived with a burly stevedore. She said she'll never forget how the pair convinced the Burmese sailors to jump ship in Montreal instead.

"Now, it's totally different," she said. "You go on a ship, the kitchen is spic and span. They serve fabulous food."

The happier sailors tend to have less time to explore the city. But if a window of opportunity opens, the Seamen's Service is ready to guide or to give a ride.

When he boarded the Mamry, Clark had in his hand a sheet listing information handy to sailors on leave; like where to find a hair cut, wire money or buy electronics. He could offer discount admission to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and game times.

A window opened wider. The Mamry had no sooner begun unloading its steel coils from Holland than the rains began, forcing the captain to close the massive hatches that cover the hold.

His mobile phone gave a shrill ring. It was the shipping agent with a weather report. It would likely rain steady for a few days, forcing the ship to stay in port through the weekend.

Capt. Kacrzarksi turned to Clark. "American football," he asked, "How much are the tickets?"


Buffalo Maritime Festival begins Friday

9/17 - Buffalo, N.Y. – The Buffalo Maritime Festival will open a three-day festival at Canalside at 3 p.m. Friday with a boat parade and the arrival of the U.S. Brig Niagara, a majestic sailing vessel.

There will be historic and educational displays, guide tours, kids activities, a chowder competition, artisan’s market, beer garden and food trucks offering seafood.

“It’s wonderful to see the Buffalo Maritime Festival becoming an annual autumn tradition, bringing people of all generations down to our remarkable waterfront to experience a great variety of activities, food, music and of course, boats,” said Robert Gioia, chairman of Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp.

Admission is free, with deck tours of the Brig Niagara costing $7, $5 for children under 12. Deck tours of the Tug DeWitt Clinton are free. For more information, go to

Buffalo News


Lookback #304 – Tragic Noronic blaze broke out at Toronto on Sept. 17, 1949

9/17 - Growing up in Toronto, I well remember the sirens that wailed throughout the night air of Sept. 17, 1949. Our family had no idea of what was going on and, as a youngster, I found it pretty scary. It was not until the next morning that we had learned that the Canada Steamship Lines passenger and freight carrier Noronic had burned as a total loss on the waterfront with a devastating loss of life.

The 385 foot long passenger ship was on an end-of-season cruise when the blaze broke out in a linen closet and quickly spread throughout the beautiful, but wooden decked, ship. It was a total loss and 118 lives were ended. The casualty rate might have been higher save for the fact that a number of passengers and crew were still ashore enjoying the night life of Toronto.

Noronic was built at Port Arthur, ON in 1913 and joined the newly formed Canada Steamship Lines as part of their Northern Navigation Division. This vessel was confined to the upper lakes until the advent of the Fourth Welland Canal allowed service east to Lake Ontario. The ship made its first trip down through the yet uncompleted waterway on June 8, 1931, and soon offered late season cruises to the beautiful Thousand Islands region before reverting to freight only service to conclude the year.

Tons of water were pumped aboard Noronic to quell the flames 65-years ago today and the ship sank at the dock. It was refloated on Oct. 29, 1949, and following a sale for scrap, towed to Hamilton in November for dismantling by the Steel Company of Canada.

On Sept. 17, 1999, a plaque recognizing the tragedy was unveiled at Toronto and a number of survivors of that awful night were on hand for the ceremony.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  September 17

News Photo Gallery
Saltie Gallery updated with pictures of the Adfines Star, Ebony Ray, Edzard Schulte, Exeborg, Floragracht, HHL Mississippi, HR Maria, Merwedegracht, Morgenstond I, and North Contender.


Today in Great Lakes History -  September 17

On September 17, 1898, KEEPSAKE (2-mast wooden schooner, 183 foot, 286 gross tons, built in 1867, at Newport [Marine City], Michigan) was carrying coal from Ashtabula when she was struck by a terrible storm on Lake Erie. Her rudder was damaged, a sail torn away and her bulwarks were smashed. The CITY OF ERIE saw her distress signals at 3:30 a.m. and came to help. With the CITY OF ERIE's searchlight shining on the doomed schooner, a huge wave swept over the vessel taking away everything on deck and snapping both masts. The crew, some only half dressed, all managed to get into the lifeboat. They rowed to the CITY OF ERIE and were all rescued. Three days later, the other lifeboat and some wreckage from the KEEPSAKE were found near Ashtabula by some fishermen.

GRIFFON (Hull#18) was launched September 17, 1955, at St. Catharines, Ontario by Port Weller Drydocks Ltd. for Beaconsfield Steamship Ltd., Montreal, Quebec. Renamed b.) FRANQUELIN in 1967, c.) EVA DESGAGNES in 1987. Sold foreign in 1989, renamed d.) TELCHAC, scrapped at Tuxpan, Mexico, in 1992.

On September 17, 1985, PATERSON suffered a crankcase explosion as she was bound for Quebec City from Montreal. She was repaired and cleared on September 21. Renamed b.) PINEGLEN in 2002.

On September 17, 1830, WILLIAM PEACOCK (wood side wheel steamer, 102 foot, 120 tons, built in 1829, at Barcelona, New York) suffered the first major boiler explosion on Lake Erie while she was docked in Buffalo, New York. 15 - 30 lives were lost. She was rebuilt two years later and eventually foundered in a storm in 1835, near Ripley, Ohio.

On September 17, 1875, the barge HARMONY was wrecked in a gale at Chicago, Illinois, by colliding with the north pier, which was under water. This was the same place where the schooner ONONGA was wrecked a week earlier and HARMONY came in contact with that sunken schooner. No lives were lost.

On September 17, 1900, a storm carried away the cabin and masts of the wrecked wooden 4-mast bulk freight barge FONTANA. The 231-foot vessel had been wrecked and sunk in a collision at the mouth of the St. Clair River in the St. Clair Flats on August 3,1900. She had settled in the mud and gradually shifted her position. She eventually broke in two. After unsuccessful salvage attempts, the wreck was dynamited.

Tragedy struck in 1949, when the Canada Steamship Lines cruise ship NORONIC burned at Pier 9 in Toronto, Ontario. By morning the ship was gutted, 104 passengers were known to be dead and 14 were missing. Because of land reclamation and the changing face of the harbor, the actual site of Noronic's berth is now in the lobby of the Harbour Castle Westin hotel.

1909: The towline connecting the ALEXANDER HOLLEY and SIR WILLIAM FAIRBAIRN broke in a Lake Superior storm and the former, a whaleback barge, almost stranded on Sawtooth Shoal. The anchors caught in time and it took 5 hours to rescue the crew.

1980: HERMION began Great Lakes trading shortly after entering service in 1960. The vessel stranded as d) AEOLIAN WIND, about a half mile from Nakhodka, USSR, during a voyage from North Vietnam to Cuba. The ship was refloated on October 8, 1980, and scrapped in 1981 at Nakhodka.

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


John B. Aird freed from Seaway shoal

9/16 - Morrisburg, Ont. - About 10:30 p.m. the John B. Aird was pulled off her strand into the channel with the Wilf Seymour pulling on the bow and Ocean Ross Gaudreault on the stern. The tugs held her there while the crew checked tanks before heading down river to the Wilson Hill anchorage for inspection.

While the salvage operation and tow were underway, Algosea and Sarah Desgagnes were held at Eisenhower Lock.

Original report - Efforts continued Monday to free the Algoma Central Corp. self-unloader John B. Aird, aground since Saturday on Doran Shoal, a mile below the village of Morrisburg.

Monday the tug Wilf Seymour joined the effort to get the Aird off the shoal.

Divers were on the scene Sunday and Monday, with underwater welding taking place. The tug Ocean Ross Gaudreault from Montreal is also on the scene.

The Aird is out of the channel and her bow is close to lighted buoy 81. She is loaded with slag for Sept Iles and is on the bottom amidships, starboard side. She is down by the head and up at the stern. The charted depth at that point is 3.8 meters or 12.5 feet.

Ron Beaupre


Port Reports -  September 16

Marquette, Mich. – Rod Burdick
A busy Monday evening at the Upper Harbor found Mesabi Miner unloading coal, fleet mate Kaye E. Barker loading ore and Michipicoten at anchor, waiting to load.

Lorain, Ohio – Phil Leon
Calumet arrived in Lorain early Monday morning and docked by the concrete plant.


New leaders at Cliffs Natural Resources close Duluth office

9/16 - Duluth, Minn. – Cliffs Natural Resources is closing a 30-person regional office in Duluth that oversaw the company's several Minnesota mines.

The Duluth News-Tribune reports on the cost-cutting move. Employees at the office have been offered jobs at Cliffs' regional mine operations or at its Cleveland headquarters.

Cliffs, which still employs about 1,800 people in Minnesota and owns taconite mines in several Iron Range cities, had a tumultuous summer. A hedge fund toppled the company's board of directors in a proxy fight with pledges to cut costs.

It's thought that the new leaders like the company's taconite business, so its broader Minnesota mining operations aren't necessarily targeted for cuts, too.

Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal


Harsh winter felt deep into Great Lakes shipping season

9/16 - Green Bay, Wis. – A harsh winter slowed the start of the 2014 shipping season on the Great Lakes, but it also helped boost water levels that had been sagging for the last decade.

Higher water levels are a boon to port and shipping officials who say the increases allow ships to carry more cargo on each trip, helping make up for early season delays caused by widespread icing on the lakes.

"The timing is great because we had all those horrible delays in March and April," said Glen Nekvasil, vice president of the Ohio-based Lake Carriers' Association. "We needed every benefit we could get. That has helped us narrow the gap a bit."

While load sizes are up, some ships aren't carrying full loads of products like coal and iron ore — that last happened in the late 1990s, Nekvasil said.

"We have to recognize that even these loads are still not full loads," he said. "Even the top loads have been have been 2,500 or 3,000 tons short of what the boat could have done."

Through Sept. 5, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said Lake Michigan's level was up 18 inches over the same time in 2013, according to a weekly water level update.

"That is an extraordinary change," said Dean Haen, director of the Brown County Port & Resource Recovery department. "Usually there's an annual fluctuation and a 10-year cycle. Basically we've been at the bottom of our 10-year cycle for 10 years. It's been a long time, and there's been a lot of concern about prolonged low water."

Cooler summer temperatures, coupled with above average precipitation are among the factors contributing to increased lake levels, port officials said.

The current water level on lakes Huron and Michigan are at the "long-term" average, according to the report. The level is forecast to fall an inch by early October, according to the corps of engineers report.

Through the end of August, the Port of Green Bay handled 1.28 million tons of cargo carried on 111 ship visits this year. Both numbers are up about 10 percent from the same time last year.

"For every additional inch (of water), they're able to carry an additional 100 tons at essentially no additional cost," Haen said. "The fuel's the same, the crew's the same, the deprecation on the vessel, it's all fixed."

That helps lower the cost per unit for shipping, a savings that should be realized by end users of the bulk commodities passing through the port.

Key products at the Port of Green Bay include limestone, coal, petroleum products, and cement.

"The first driver on port tonnage is the economy," Haen said. "The economy is strong, and carriers will be able to carry more product... with fewer transits."

Across the Great Lakes, American-flagged ships on the Great Lakes carried 49.9 million tons of cargo through August. That's about 8 percent less than at the same time last year, but a vast improvement over April when ice on the lakes cut cargo movement by 45 percent.

"Higher water levels and increased vessel utilization rates are allowing the fleet to narrow the gap between this year and last caused by the brutal winter of 2013/2014," the Lake Carriers' Association said in a monthly report. "Great Lakes water levels normally begin their seasonal decline in the fall, so going forward, loads will likely be smaller."

Nekvasil said if this is a typical year, he anticipates levels will drop in the fall.

"It's a not a permanent thing and doesn't lessen the need for dredging," he said. "When you have all that water running off (from rain and snow melt) into the system, sometimes it actually brings more sediment into a harbor than you had before."

Green Bay Press Gazette


Lake Michigan levels rise above average

9/16 - Grand Rapids, Mich. – After a few years of below average lake levels, Lake Michigan is starting to slowly rebound.

After an above average winter snowfall in the Great Lakes basin, and steady spring and summer rains Lake Michigan is slowly starting to increase levels.

After record ice coverage this winter, the Army Corp of Engineers released their spring outlook calling for increasing lake levels by this fall and it looks like that forecast was right on.

Lake Michigan first climbed above average for a short period on August 13th, but shortly after dropped slightly below. It didn’t take long as the basin received heavy rains at the end of August allowing levels to increase and by the beginning of September, lake levels were at or above average.

As of September 12th, Lake Michigan/Huron were recording lake levels at 579.17 feet. That is above the mean level of 579.11 feet and the long-term average of 579.09 feet. Even though levels are only a few inches above average, they are two feet above levels this time last year and thirty feet above the record lowest level in September.

Lake levels are expected to drop an inch in the month of October but will still be closer to average than the lake has been in the last few years.

Fox 17


Lookback #303 – Wooden steamer Charles B. Packard sank in Lake Erie Sept. 16, 1906

9/16 - The wooden steamer Charles B. Packard was mainly used to carry lumber or pulpwood. It had been built as West Bay City, Mich., and launched on Aug. 18, 1887, as Elfin-Mere. In these early years the 190-foot-long freighter also saw service carrying some coal and iron ore.

A lamp exploded in the engine room on Nov. 16, 1901, while the ship was at Green Bay and the blaze swept through the ship and it had to be abandoned. However, the vessel was rebuilt and renamed Charles B. Packard in 1903.

This steamer had several owners over the years and it was wrecked 108-years ago today. On Sept. 16, 1906, the vessel struck the wreck of the schooner Armenia near Colchester Reef, Lake Erie and sank in about 45 minutes. As with the earlier fire, all on board were saved.

With the remains in only 40 feet of water, a decision was made to dynamite the wreck as it was a hazard to navigation. This was carried out and today the remains are easily visited by divers.

Skip Gillham


Today in Great Lakes History -  September 16

On September 16, 1893, HATTIE EARL (wooden schooner, 96 foot, 101 gross tons, built in 1869, at South Haven, Michigan) was driven ashore just outside the harbor of Michigan City, Indiana, and was pounded to pieces by the waves. No lives were lost.

At about 8:30 a.m. Sunday, September 16, 1990, the inbound motor ship BUFFALO passed close by while the tanker JUPITER was unloading unleaded gasoline at the Total Petroleum dock in the Saginaw River near Bay City, Michigan. As the BUFFALO passed the dock's aft pilings broke off and the fuel lines parted which caused a spark and ignited the spilled fuel. At the time 22,000 barrels of a total of 54,000 barrels were still aboard. Flames catapulted over 100 feet high filling the air with smoke that could be seen for 50 miles. The fire was still burning the next morning when a six man crew from Williams, Boots & Coots Firefighters and Hazard Control Specialists of Port Neches, Texas, arrived to fight the fire. By Monday afternoon they extinguished the fire only to have it re-ignite that night resulting in multiple explosions. Not until Tuesday morning on the 18th was the fire finally subdued with the assistance of the U.S. Coast Guard's BRAMBLE and BRISTOL BAY. The tanker, which was valued at $9 million, was declared a total constructive loss, though the engine room was relatively untouched. Unfortunately the fire claimed the life of one crew member, who drowned attempting to swim ashore. As a result the Coast Guard closed the river to all navigation. On October 19th the river was opened to navigation after the Gaelic tugs SUSAN HOEY and CAROLYN HOEY towed the JUPITER up river to the Hirschfield & Sons Dock at Bay City (formerly the Defoe Shipyard) where a crane was erected for dismantling the burned out hulk. Her engines were removed and shipped to New Bedford, Massachusetts, for future use. The river opening allowed American Steamship's BUFFALO to depart the Lafarge dock where she had been trapped since the explosion. JUPITER's dismantling was completed over the winter of 1990-91. Subsequent investigation by the NTSB, U.S. Coast Guard and the findings of a federal judge all exonerated the master and BUFFALO in the tragedy.

Parrish & Heimbecker Ltd. purchased all nine of the Soo River's fleet on September 16, 1982, for a reported C$2.5 million and all nine returned to service, although only four were running at the end of the season.

The NORISLE went into service September 16, 1946, as the first Canadian passenger ship commissioned since the NORONIC in 1913.

On September 16, 1952, the CASON J. CALLAWAY departed River Rouge, Michigan, for Duluth, Minnesota, on its maiden voyage for the Pittsburgh Steamship Co.

On September 16, 1895, ARCTIC (2 mast wooden schooner, 113 foot, 85 gross tons, built in 1853, at Ashtabula, Ohio) was rammed and sunk by the steamer CLYDE in broad daylight and calm weather. ARCTIC was almost cut in half by the blow. The skipper of CLYDE was censured for the wreck and for his callous treatment of the schooner's crew afterwards. Luckily no lives were lost.

On September 16,1877, the 46 foot tug RED RIBBON, owned by W. H. Morris of Port Huron, Michigan, burned about 2 miles below St. Clair, Michigan. Capt. Morris ran the tug ashore and hurried to St. Clair to get assistance, but officials there refused to allow the steam fire engine to go outside the city. The tug was a total loss and was only insured for $1,000, half her value. She had just started in service in May of 1877, and was named for the reform movement that was in full swing at the time of her launch.

On September 16, 1900, LULU BEATRICE (2-mast wooden schooner, 72 foot, 48 gross tons, built in 1896, at Port Burwell, Ontario) was carrying coal on Lake Erie when she was wrecked on the shore near the harbor entrance at Port Burwell in a storm. One life was lost, the captain's wife.

1892 The wooden propeller VIENNA sank in foggy Whitefish Bay after beiing hit broadside by the wooden steamer NIPIGON. The latter survived and later worked for Canada Steamship Lines as b) MAPLEGRANGE and c) MAPLEHILL (i) but was laid up at Kingston in 1925 and scuttled in Lake Ontario in 1927.

1901 HUDSON was last seen dead in the water with a heavy list. The steeel package freighter had cleared Duluth the previous day with wheat and flax for Buffalo but ran into a furious storm and sank in Lake Superior off Eagle Harbor Light with the loss of 24-25 lives.

1906 CHARLES B. PACKARD hit the wreck of the schooner ARMENIA off Midddle Ground, Lake Erie and sank in 45 minutes. All on board were rescued and the hull was later dynamited as a hazard to navigation.

1937-- The large wooden tug G.R. GRAY (ii) of the Lake Superior Paper Co., got caught in a storm off Coppermine Point, Lake Superior, working with GARGANTUA on a log raft and fell into the trough. The stack was toppled but the vessel managed to reach Batchawana and was laid up. The hull was towed to Sault Ste. Marie in 1938 and eventually stripped out. The remains were taken to Thessalon in 1947 and remained there until it caught fire and burned in 1959.

1975 BJORSUND, a Norwegian tanker, visited the Seaway in 1966. The 22--year old vessel began leaking as b) AMERFIN enroute from Mexico to Panama and sank in the Pacific while under tow off Costa Rica.

1990 JUPITER was unloading at Bay City when the wake of a passing shipp separated the hose connection spreading gasoline on deck. An explosion and fire resulted. One sailor was lost as the ship burned for days and subsequently sank.

2005 Fire broke out aboard the tug JAMES A. HANNAH above Lock 2 of the Welland Canal while downbound with the barge 5101 loaded with asphalt, diesel and heavy oil. City of St. Catharines fire fighters help extinguish the blaze.

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


Divers work on grounded John B. Aird Sunday

9/15 - Morrisburg, Ont. – Monday the Wilf Seymour joined the effort to get the Aird off the shoal. The Aird radioed that divers will be working 'at least five hours' today.

Original report: Sunday night the Algoma Central Corp. self-unloader John B. Aird remained aground on Doran Shoal, a mile below the village of Morrisburg.

Divers were on the scene Sunday and underwater welding was taking place most of the afternoon and stopped at sunset. The tug Ocean Ross Gaudreault arrived from Montreal at mid-day.

The Aird is out of the channel and her bow is close to lighted buoy 81. She is loaded with slag for Sept Iles and is on the bottom amidships, starboard side. She is down by the head and up at the stern. The charted depth at that point is 3.8 meters or 12.5 feet.

Ron Beaupre


Port Reports -  September 15

Lorain, Ohio – Phil Leon
A problem with the Charles Berry bridge Sunday caught the Manistee in port, as she was unable to transit the partially opened span. She finally cleared about 10 p.m.

Welland Canal
Boatherds enjoying the final day of the annual Welland Canal gathering were treated to the oldest and newest vessels in the Algoma Central fleet. Algoma Harvester and Algoma Montrealais both headed upbound in the afternoon. Other traffic included the upbound Frontenac, Lake Ontario and Vega Desgagnes. The Federal Leda, Tecumseh and Merwedegracht were downbound.


Lookback #302 – Liberty ship Mesologi collided with a laker on Sept. 15, 1962

9/15 - The Greek Liberty ship Mesologi made a total of six trips to the Great Lakes. It began coming inland in 1962 and was involved in a collision the Paul L. Tietjen at Toledo on Sept. 15, 1962.

The accident occurred at the entrance to the channel at the port and the laker was found to be at fault and responsible for the close to $28,000 in damage to the foreign ship.

Mesologi had been built at Baltimore in 1943 and first sailed as the George M. Cohan to assist in the war effort. The 441 foot, 6 inch long freighter was lengthened to 511 feet, 6 inches at Kobe, Japan, in 1955 but was registered in Liberia under a fourth name of National Fighter.

Mesologi was re-registered in Liberia in 1963 and made its final appearance on the Great Lakes in 1966. Sold and renamed Blue Sand in 1968. The ship was later resold to Japanese shipbreakers and arrived at Aioi for dismantling about Nov. 13, 1969.

Paul L. Tietjen dated from 1907 and first served the Kinsman fleet as Matthew Andrews and Harry L. Findlay before becoming Paul L. Tietjen in 1965. It tied up at Buffalo on July 22, 1977, and following a sale for scrap, was towed to Ashtabula, Ohio, on Oct.10-11, 1978, for dismantling.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  September 15

News Photo Gallery we are working to catch up, please continue to send your pictures.


Today in Great Lakes History -  September 15

On 15 September 1886, F. J. KING (wooden schooner, 140 foot, 280 tons, built in 1867, at Toledo, Ohio) was carrying iron ore from Escanaba, Michigan, to Chicago, Illinois. She sprang a leak and sank in a heavy southwesterly gale three miles off Rawley Bay, Wisconsin. Her crew reached shore in the yawl. Her loss was valued at $7,500.

The A. H. FERBERT of 1942 was towed out of Duluth by the Sandrin tug GLENADA September 15, 1987; they encountered rough weather on Lake Superior and required the assistance of another tug to reach the Soo on the 19th. On the 21st the FERBERT had to anchor off Detour, Michigan, after she ran aground in the St. Marys River when her towline parted. Her hull was punctured and the Coast Guard ordered repairs to her hull before she could continue. Again problems struck on September 24th, when the FERBERT went hard aground at the Cut-Off Channel's southeast bend of the St. Clair River. Six tugs, GLENADA, ELMORE M. MISNER, BARBARA ANN, GLENSIDE, SHANNON and WM. A. WHITNEY, worked until late on the 26th to free her. The FERBERT finally arrived in tow of GLENSIDE and W. N. TWOLAN at Lauzon, Quebec, on October 7th.

The steamer WILLIAM A. AMBERG (Hull#723) was launched September 15, 1917, at Lorain, Ohio, by American Ship Building Co. for the Producers Steamship Co., (M. A. Hanna, mgr.). Renamed b.) ALBERT E. HEEKIN in 1932, c.) SILVER BAY in 1955, d.) JUDITH M. PIERSON in 1975 and e.) FERNGLEN in 1982. Scrapped at Port Maitland, Ontario, in 1985.

On September 15, 1925, the JOHN A. TOPPING left River Rouge, Michigan, light on her maiden voyage to Ashland, Wisconsin, to load iron ore for delivery to Cleveland, Ohio. Renamed b.) WILLIAM A. REISS in 1934, she was scrapped at Alang, India, in 1994.

On September 15th, lightering was completed on the AUGUST ZIESING; she had grounded above the Rock Cut two days earlier, blocking the channel.

September 15, 1959, was the last day the U.S. Coast Guard Buoy Tender MESQUITE was stationed at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan.

MIDDLETOWN suffered a fire in her tunnels on September 15, 1986. Second and third degree burns were suffered by two crew members. She was renamed f.) AMERICAN VICTORY in 2006.

In 1934, the ANN ARBOR NO 6 collided with the steamer N. F. LEOPOLD in a heavy fog.

September 15, 1993 - Robert Manglitz became CEO and president of Lake Michigan Carferry Service after Charles Conrad announced his retirement and the sale of most of his stock.

On 15 September 1873, IRONSIDES (wooden propeller passenger/package freight vessel, 220 foot, 1,123 tons, built in 1864, at Cleveland, Ohio) became disabled when she sprang a leak and flooded. The water poured in and put out her fires. She sank about 7 miles off Grand Haven, Michigan, on Lake Michigan. Reports of the number of survivors varied from 17 to 32 and the number lost varied from 18 to 28.

On 15 September 1872, A. J. BEMIS (wood propeller tug, 49 tons, built in 1859, at Buffalo, New York) caught fire while underway. The fire originated under her boiler. She ran for shore but sank about six miles from Alpena, Michigan. No lives lost.

1882: The wooden passenger steamer ASIA got caught in a wild storm crossing Georgian Bay, fell into the trough and sank stern first. There were 123 passengers and crew listed as lost while only two on board survived.

1915: ONOKO of the Kinsman Transit Company foundered in Lake Superior off Knife Point, while downbound with wheat from Duluth to Toledo. The crew took to the lifeboats and were saved. The hull was located in 1987, upside down, in about 340 feet of water.

1928: MANASOO, in only her first season of service after being rebuilt for overnight passenger and freight service, foundered in Georgian Bay after the cargo shifted and the vessel overturned in heavy weather. There were 18 casualties, plus 46 head of cattle, and only 5 survived.

1940: KENORDOC, enroute to Bristol, UK, with a cargo of lumber was sunk due to enemy action as part of convoy SC 3 while 500 miles west of the Orkney Islands. The ship had fallen behind the convoy due to engine trouble, and was shelled by gunfire from U-48. There were 7 casualties including the captain and wireless operator. H.M.S. AMAZON completed the sinking as the bow of the drifting hull was still visible.

1940: The Norwegian freighter LOTOS came inland in 1938 delivering pulpwood to Cornwall and went aground there in a storm. The ship was torpedoed and sunk by a German submarine while about 15 miles west of Rockall Island, Scotland, while inbound from Dalhousie, NB for Tyne, UK.

1962” A collision between the HARRY L. FINDLAY of the Kinsman Line and the Greek Liberty ship MESOLOGI occurred at Toledo. The latter began Seaway service that year and made a total of six inland voyages. It was scrapped at Aioi, Japan, as f) BLUE SAND after arriving in November 1969.

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


Aird remains aground, tug headed to assist

9/14 - Sunday morning the John B Aird remained aground on Doran Shoal a mile below the village of Morrisburg. The tug Ocean Ross Gaudreault is on her way to assist the Aird.

Pictures in the News Gallery


Crowded railways slow ore shipments from Iron Range to Duluth

9/14 - Duluth, Minn. – Taconite industry officials confirmed Friday that they are making taconite faster than they can move it by rail, with millions tons of pellets stockpiled and waiting for trains.

The shortage of rail service is an unintended consequence of a huge increase in demand to ship crude oil by rail. Railroads now are shipping more than 15,000 train carloads of petroleum products each week, more than double the amount in 2010. Oil shipments from North Dakota are competing for rail space with many other products nationally, but especially in the Upper Midwest.

Cliffs Natural Resources, which operates three taconite plants in Minnesota and one in Michigan, said Friday its operations “are among a number of industrial facilities that have been have been significantly affected by the national logjam of rail service in the United States.”

In a statement to the News Tribune, Cliffs said the rail backlog “creates substantial and irreversible negative consequences” because the shipping season on the Great Lakes is finite, closing in early January for more than two months. If Cliffs can’t get its pellets to Lake Superior and shipped out by ore boat by then, its steelmaking customers in the eastern U.S. won’t get the raw material they need to make it through winter.

Last winter, as cold conditions thwarted rail shipments and more trains went to move oil, the Minntac taconite plant in Mountain Iron alone “dumped 2 million tons on the ground, and they still haven’t caught up with rail service,” said Mike McCoshen, president of Hallett Dock Co. in Duluth, which serves the iron ore industry.

McCoshen noted that while taconite pellets require special railcars that haven’t been pulled away for other uses, there’s been a logjam of other trains on tracks and a shortage of locomotives at both Canadian National and Burlington Northern Santa Fe, the major rail lines in the region.

Two mines, U.S. Steel’s Keetac operation and Arcelor Mittal’s Minorca Mine, are sending product — a special taconite “pellet chip” — from the Iron Range to Duluth harbor docks by truck.

“I’ve been in this business 37 years and I’ve never seen that before. I don’t know that it’s ever happened to bring it down by truck,” McCoshen said, adding it’s good news for Hallett — which is transferring the taconite to lakers — but not a viable long-term solution for the mines.

On Friday, U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., spoke about Minnesota’s rail problems during a Senate Commerce Committee hearing on improving America’s rail system. She called on railroad companies to address the ongoing delays that have kept an estimated 2 million tons of Minnesota taconite sitting in stockpiles at the mines instead of being shipped to steel mills.

That’s about 5 percent of the industry’s annual production of nearly 40 million tons.

“Rail service disruptions are forcing mines on the Iron Range to stockpile significant quantities of iron ore,” Klobuchar said in a statement. “These disruptions hurt business and threaten jobs not only at these operations, but also at the steel mills that rely on taconite pellets to feed their furnaces. I will continue to pressure railroad companies to act quickly to ensure that pellet backlogs are reduced and that steel mills receive timely shipments of taconite.”

Klobuchar last week urged the Surface Transportation Board to address rail service delays. She also has introduced the Railroad Antitrust Enforcement Act, aimed at boosting railroad competition and keeping costs down for businesses, farmers and consumers by subjecting railroads to the same antitrust laws as other industries.

On Wednesday, Minnesota Power said it will shut down several coal-burning power plants and instead buy power from other utilities for several months — if needed — so it can stockpile coal for the colder winter months when the utility faces its highest demand. If it didn’t do that, the Duluth-based utility said, it might face a coal shortage in the winter because it can’t get timely rail delivery from coal mines in Montana and Wyoming.

Minnesota Power officials said they support some sort of government action to encourage rail competition, noting they are beholden to one rail line — BNSF — to bring them coal at a time the railroad won’t or can’t provide enough coal trains.

The problem isn’t confined to northern Minnesota.

Xcel Energy in August reported to the Surface Transportation Board that it was not getting enough coal by rail to power its massive Sherco coal-burning power plant outside the Twin Cities.

In Minnesota’s farm country, some grain elevators have moved to using trucks instead of rail to move grain to market, unable to secure enough trains to handle the harvest.

And on Friday, officials tied to the Duluth port said the rail backlog also could hurt marine business. With spring wheat and durum wheat now being harvested in the Dakotas and western Minnesota, saltwater freighters from around the world already are on their way to Duluth to pick up loads of the fresh crop to move worldwide.

If trains aren’t available to get the crop to the Twin Ports, those ships would have to wait, or divert elsewhere. David Torgerson, executive director of the Minnesota Association of Wheat Growers, said the harvest is just starting to come in because of late planting and a wet season, so it’s too early to tell if a lack of rail cars will delay shipments this autumn.

In a rail car update in late July required by the Surface Transportation Board, BNSF said it had 4,942 past-due rail cars in North Dakota averaging 32 days late. Canadian Pacific estimated a backlog demand of 10,000 to 12,000 cars.

BNSF officials have said the company has invested billions of dollars in the past two years, and is adding thousands of new employees, in an effort to keep up with the added demand.

Duluth News Tribune


Port Reports -  September 14

Lorain, Ohio – Phil Leon
Manistee came into Lorain at 5:55 a.m. Saturday morning.


Sterling Fuels, Imperial Oil enter partnership at Sarnia

9/14 - Sterling Fuels has entered into a long-term agreement with Imperial Oil to handle the marine fuels sales at their Sarnia dock. For decades Imperial Oil has been a longstanding supplier of fuels, lubricants, and asphalt products to Sterling Fuels, McAsphalt Industries, and the Miller Group.

The text of a press release from Sterling Fuels follows.

“In the past few years Sterling Fuels has made significant investments in our Windsor facility; all aimed at providing more and better services to the marine industry and at the same time to better protect our environment.

“Last year's purchase of Provmar Fuels in Hamilton provided marine customers secure and reliable fuel supply for that important industrial heartland. The newly acquired tanker, Sterling Energy, is now providing barge fuelling for vessels in the Hamilton, Toronto, and Weiland Canal areas. In Nova Scotia, with the closure of Imperial's Dartmouth refinery, Sterling has again provided the marine industry with much needed fueling options by partnering with Imperial. Sterling offers barge fuelling with the Algoma Dartmouth, pipeline fuelling at Imperial Oil's Dartmouth dock, and fueling capabilities by truck as well.

“To complement our East Coast operations we have tankage at the crude oil facility at Point Tupper and offer pipeline vessel fuelling there. And finally, later this month Sterling's expanded lube oil facility at Windsor will be fully functional, making it the most advanced marine lube facility in Canada, fully backed by a strong technical support team. Again, Sterling has partnered with Imperial Oil and Exxon Mobil in providing superb lubricants and technical support to the marine industry.”

Sterling Fuels


Lookback #301 – Ithaka stranded in Hudson Bay on Sept. 14, 1960

9/14 - The Ithaka was registered in Bahamas when it was went aground in Hudson Bay 54-years ago today. The vessel was on a voyage from Churchill, Manitoba, to Rankin Inlet, NWT (now Nunavut) with general cargo when it was blown ashore.

The vessel had numerous Great Lakes connections. It had been built for the George Hall Coal Co. and launched at Trois Rivieres, QC on Oct. 25, 1922. It served Hall in the canal trades as Frank A. Augsbury and then joined Canada Steamship Lines late in 1926. They renamed the vessel Granby the following year.

Granby was requisitioned for saltwater service during World War Two and went overseas for British coast trading. It was part of Convoy ETC22 that carried supplies for the invasion of Normandy and was due off the beachhead on June 7, 1944, returning to the Thames on June 10.

After the war, the vessel was sold to the British Ministry of War Transport and remained overseas. It was sold and registered in Panama as Parita II in 1948 and moved under the flag of Italy as Valbruna in 1951.

By the time the ship returned to the Great Lakes in 1952, it had an all-cabins aft design with the pilothouse being relocated on the stern. The former owner, now restyled as the Hall Corporation of Canada, repurchased their old vessel and it resumed trading around the lakes as the first Lawrencecliffe Hall.

It began Arctic trading in the summer of 1955 and was resold to Federal Commerce and Navigation (now Fednav) that year and renamed Federal Explorer. As such, it also made some brief visits to the Great Lakes.

The ship acquired it seventh name of Ithaka in 1960 and was sailing as such when it was blown ashore on Sept. 14, 1960, after the anchors failed to hold and the rudder broke. The wreck remains on location and it continues to deteriorate from the relentless assault by the elements.

Skip Gillham


Today in Great Lakes History -  September 14

September 14, 1962, the HORACE S. WILKINSON was involved in a collision with the Canadian freighter CAROL LAKE in the Welland Canal. Rather than repair the WILKINSON, Wilson Marine had her towed to Superior, Wisconsin, for conversion to a barge. All cabin superstructure, the engine, boilers, and auxiliary machinery were removed. The stern was squared off and notched to receive a tug. The WILKINSON was renamed WILTRANCO I and re-entered service in 1963, as a tug-barge combination with a crew of 10, pushed by the tug FRANCIS A. SMALL of 1966.

September 14, 1963, the BENJAMIN F. FAIRLESS, Captain Earl C. Bauman, received a National Safety Council Award of Merit for operating 1,001,248 consecutive man-hours without a lost time accident. This accomplishment required 15 years, 600 round trips, and 1,200 passages through the Soo locks.

Captain Albert Edgar Goodrich died on September 14,1885, at the age of 59, at his residence in Chicago. He was a pioneer steamboat man and founded the Goodrich Transportation Company, famous for its passenger/package freight steamers on Lake Michigan.

The J. J. SULLIVAN (Hull#439) was launched September 14, 1907, at Cleveland, Ohio, by American Ship Building Co. for the Superior Steamship Co. (Hutchinson & Co., mgr.). Renamed b.) CLARENCE B. RANDALL in 1963. She was scrapped at Windsor, Ontario in 1988.

On September 14, 1871, R. J. CARNEY (wooden barge, 150 foot, 397 gross tons) was launched at Saginaw, Michigan.

The 203-foot wooden schooner KATE WINSLOW was launched at J. Davidson's yard in East Saginaw, Michigan, on 14 September 1872.

The steamer ASIA sank in a storm off Byng Inlet on Georgian Bay September 14, 1882. Over 100 people lost their lives with only two people, a man and a woman, rescued. ASIA was built in St. Catharines, Ontario, in 1873, and was bound from Collingwood, Ontario, to the French River and Canadian Sault.

1960: The Bahamas registered vessel ITHAKA stranded 10 miles east of Chhurchill, Manitoba, after the rudder broke and the anchors failed to hold in a storm. The ship had served on the Great Lakes for Hall as a) FRANK A. AUGSBURY and e) LAWRENCECLIFFE HALL (i), for Canada Steamship Lines as b) GRANBY and for Federal Commerce & Navigation as f) FEDERAL PIONEER.

1965: FORT WILLIAM, which recently entered service as a package freight carrier for Canada Steamship Lines, capsized at Pier 65 in Montreal. There was an ensuing fire when part of the cargo of powdered carbide formed an explosive gas and five were killed. The vessel was refloated on November 22, 1965, repaired, and still sails the lakes a b) STEPHEN B. ROMAN.

1970: The barge AFT, the forward part of the former STEEL KING (ii), arrrived at Ramey's Bend, Port Colborne, under tow of the tug HERBERT A. for dismantling. The barge had been part of a tandem tow with the dipper dredge KING COAL but the latter broke loose in a Lake Erie storm and sank.

1998: The Cypriot-registered STRANGE ATTRACTOR first came through the Seaway in 1989 as a) LANTAU TRADER. It returned under the new name in 1996 and lost power on this date in 1998 while leaving the Upper Beauharnois Lock and had to be towed to the tie up wall by OCEAN GOLF and SALVAGE MONARCH. The ship was soon able to resume the voyage and continued Great Lakes trading through 2003. It arrived for scrapping at Aliaga, Turkey, as d) ORIENT FUZHOU on August 7, 2009.

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


John B. Aird grounds near Morrisburg

9/13 - Early this morning about 1:30 a.m. the Algoma self unloader John B Aird ran hard aground on Doran Shoal a mile below the village of Morrisburg. She is out of the channel and her bow is close to lighted buoy 81. She is loaded with slag for Sept Iles and is on the bottom amidships, starboard side. She is down by the head and up at the stern. The charted depth at that point is 3.8 meters or 12.5 feet.


Lookback #300 – Bricoldoc arrived at Spanish scrapyard on Sept. 13, 1968

It was 46 years ago today that the Canadian freighter Bricoldoc, long a member of the Paterson fleet, was towed into Santander, Spain, for scrapping.

This ship was built at Superior, Wisconsin, and entered the water as James H. Hoyt on July 17, 1902. It was the first laker built with hatches on 12-foot centers and it loaded 5,250 tons of iron ore in a record 30 minutes, 30 seconds, for its first cargo. The ship then sailed to Conneaut, Ohio, and was unloaded there in 3 hours, 52 minutes.

James H. Hoyt was originally 376 feet long but was lengthened to 424 feet in 1910. It joined in the formation of the Interlake Steamship Co. in 1913 and sailed on their behalf until sold to N.M. Paterson in 1926.

Renamed Bricoldoc, honoring the Canadian province of British Columbia combined with the Paterson tradition of “doc” names standing for Dominion Of Canada, the vessel was usually involved in the grain trade from the Canadian Lakehead ports of Fort William and Port Arthur to the storage elevators around Georgian Bay.

Bricoldoc tied up at Toronto after the 1967 season and was sold for scrap in 1968. It was towed down the Seaway by the tugs Graeme Stewart and James Battle on Aug. 6, 1968 and cleared Quebec City under tow of the Polish tug Jantar on Aug. 21, 1968. Another retired Canadian bulk carrier, the Capt. C.D. Secord, was also along for the tandem tow and the pair reached Santander, Spain, for dismantling on Sept. 13, 1968.

Skip Gillham


Today in Great Lakes History -  September 13

On 13 September 1894, the GLOBE (steel propeller package freighter, 330 foot, 2,995 gross tons) was launched by the Globe Iron Works (Hull #53) at Cleveland, Ohio. She was lengthened to 400 feet and converted to a bulk freighter in 1899, when she was acquired by the Bessemer Steamship Company and renamed JAMES B. EADS. She lasted until 1967, when she was scrapped at Port Weller Drydocks.

On 13 September 1872, the wooden schooner RAPID left Pigeon Bay, Ontario bound for Buffalo, New York with 5000 railroad ties. While on Lake Erie, a storm blew in and Capt. Henderson decided to turn for Rondeau. While turning, the vessel capsized. Annie Brown, the cook, was trapped below decks and drowned. The seven other crew members strapped themselves to the rail and waited to be rescued. One by one they died. Finally, 60-hours later, the schooner PARAGON found the floating wreck with just one man, James Low, the first mate, barely alive.

The EDMUND FITZGERALD's sea trials occurred on September 13, 1958.

The HOFFMAN (United States Army Corps of Engineers Twin Screw Hopper Dredge) collided with the Japanese salty KUNISHIMA MARU at Toledo, Ohio, September 13, 1962. Reportedly the blame was placed on the pilot of the Japanese salty. Apparently the damage was minor.

On September 13, 1968, the AUGUST ZIESING grounded in fog 200 yards above the Rock Cut in the St. Marys River. The grounded vessel swung into the shipping channel blocking it until September 15th when lightering was completed.

September 13, 1953 - PERE MARQUETTE 22 made her second maiden voyage since she was new in 1924. She was cut in half, lengthened, had new boilers and engines installed. On 13 September 1875, CITY OF BUFFALO (wooden schooner, 91 foot, 128 tons, built in 1859, at Buffalo, New York, as a propeller canal boat) beached and sank after striking a rock in the St. Marys River. The tug MAGNET worked for days to release her before she went to pieces on 19 September. No lives were lost.

On 13 September 1871, the bark S D POMEROY was anchored off Menominee, Michigan, during a storm. Archie Dickie, James Steele, John Davidson and James Mechie were seen to lower the yawl to go to shore. Later the empty yawl drifted ashore and then the bodies of all four men floated in.

1967 – The former Great Lakes passenger ship NORTH AMERICAN sank in the Atlantic (40.46 N / 68.53 W) while under tow for a new career as a training ship at Piney Point, Maryland.

1988 – The Cypriot freighter BLUESTONE, at Halifax since August 19, had 3 crewmembers jump ship at the last minute claiming unsafe conditions due to corrosion in the tank tops, but this could not be checked as the vessel was loaded.

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


Coast Guard can't adequately respond to Great Lakes heavy oil spill

9/12 - Detroit, Mich. – The U.S. Coast Guard and other responders are not adequately equipped or prepared for a “heavy oil” spill on the Great Lakes, according to a Coast Guard commander who is pushing for action.

A major oil spill could spell economic disaster for the states in the Great Lakes region, severely damaging the multibillion-dollar fishing and recreational boating industries and killing off wildlife.

Rear Admiral Fred Midgette, commander of the Coast Guard’s District 9, which includes the Great Lakes, said everyone involved in spill response on the Great Lakes is moving with a sense of urgency to come up with a plan to address a major spill.

But they haven’t found a way forward yet.

“When you get environmental groups, technical experts, oil spill recovery groups and regulators together, that’s how you find what’s the best way ahead,” Midgette said Tuesday at an international forum on heavy oils at the Detroit-Wayne County Port Authority attended by a cooperative of oil and chemical spill professionals.

Midgette said he was particularly concerned that response plans and organizations “are not capable of responding to heavy oil spills, particularly in open-water scenarios,” in an Aug. 20 memo to the Coast Guard’s Deputy Commandant for Operations.

That’s a serious issue, said David Holtz, Michigan chairman for the nonprofit Sierra Club.

“How can Michigan and the Great Lakes be in a position where two large oil pipelines are operating underneath the Straits of Mackinac, and the lead responders — the first responders to an oil spill — say they couldn’t respond effectively if something happened to those pipes?” he said.

The Coast Guard’s warning, based on its 2013 study, comes as Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette and Department of Environmental Quality Director Dan Wyant convene a task force looking at petroleum pipeline safety throughout Michigan and the state’s preparedness for spills — including on the more than 60-year-old pipelines operated by Canadian oil transport giant Enbridge along the bottom of the Straits of Mackinac.

The Coast Guard noted other vulnerable locations, including,\ oil pipelines running under the St. Clair River between Marysville and Sarnia, Ontario, and near Niagara Falls and Buffalo.

The study also cited the interest by a Superior, Wis., company, Calumet Specialty Product Partners, L.P., and others, to establish a dock to facilitate Great Lakes oil shipping by barges out of western Lake Superior. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources dealt that effort a setback in January — requiring an involved environmental assessment — but it could eventually continue.

The Coast Guard Research and Development Center’s June 2013 final report was frank on the limitations in dealing with heavy oil that sinks below the surface and makes traditional skimming recovery methods ineffective.

“Current methods are inadequate to find and recover submerged oil, with responders having to reinvent the techniques on each occasion,” the report states, later adding, “Responses to recent higher profile submerged oil spills have shown responders have almost no capability in detection and recovery.”

Those high-profile spills include the July 2010 spill near Marshall, where an Enbridge oil transmission pipeline burst while carrying diluted bitumen or dilbit, a sludgy oil product thinned for transport typically using petroleum-based thinning agents.

The oil spill overwhelmed Talmadge Creek, a tributary to the Kalamazoo River, as well as a long stretch of the river. As the diluents evaporated, the heavier oil sank to the river bottom, combining with sediments, churned by the rushing water and complicating cleanup. Enbridge has spent more than $1 billion on the cleanup effort, which still is not complete more than four years later.

The Marshall spill showed that no community is ready to adequately respond to a heavy oil spill, said Beth Wallace, an environmental consultant who has worked to spotlight issues related to oil pipeline transport.

The Coast Guard report is “just a scary scenario for the Great Lakes,” she said. “I would hope that the governor, with the pipeline safety task force, will take a hard look at this.”

Oil companies need to do more in the way of transparency and financially providing for the necessary response if their products spill, Wallace said. And while the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration oversees many petroleum pipeline safety issues, it is typically not there when a spill occurs, she said. That’s left to local communities’ first responders or the Coast Guard if the spill occurs on a major water body.

Complications include that oil companies use a variety of products as diluents in dilbit that can have varying effects on what happens with the oil when it spills, experts said — and the companies often keep those diluents a trade secret. Other factors affecting how a heavy oil spill behaves include temperature and water conditions.

Even finding and tracking submerged oil is a challenge, said Kurt Hansen, a project manager at the Coast Guard’s Research and Development Center at New London, Conn., specializing in oil spill response.

“Once the oil goes below the surface, that sets a whole new set of problems,” he said. “You’re going to have to figure out if it’s coming back up in tiny little droplets, because that’s going to need one set of recovery response and surveillance. Or, if it goes to the bottom in a clump, that’s going to need another set of response.

“And if it mixes with the silt and sand and dirt at the bottom, that’s going to need even a third set of response and information that you need.”

While responders are ready in most cases for surface oil spills, responding to a sinking oil spill requires pulling together equipment and response capability from a variety of locations — costing precious time, Hansen noted. What’s needed, he said, is pulling those capabilities together beforehand.

“Right now, there are no hard requirements for those systems,” he said. “Somebody’s going to have to look at the legal aspects of that, at what you can require.”

Said Holtz: “Speed is everything. So if the Coast Guard has to go to other places to get what they need to deal with a Great Lakes oil spill, that’s got to change. Either that or stop having pipelines in the Great Lakes.”

Detroit Free Press


Brig Niagara marks Battle of Lake Erie anniversary

9/12 - Erie, Pa. – Wednesday marked the 201st anniversary of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry's victory over the British fleet at the Battle of Lake Erie.

U.S. Brig Niagara Senior Capt. Walter Rybka, Niagara Capt. Billy Sabatini, crew members and the public commemorated the decisive War of 1812 event during an afternoon ceremony on the outdoor plaza behind the Erie Maritime Museum.

"I say always that the outstanding lesson that we get from Perry is that the real motto is 'Don't Give Up,''' Rybka said. "All of his luck, it still came so close to utter disaster, yet in 15 or 20 minutes at the end, he was able to turn the battle around.

Yes, he had to give up the ship (Lawrence) and go to the next one (Niagara), so it wasn't don't give up the ship, it was don't give up.''

Perry captained an American fleet of nine vessels to victory over a six-ship British squadron on Sept. 10, 1813.

The battle site was about 11 miles west-northwest of Put-in-Bay, Ohio.

Six of Perry's ships, including the Niagara, were built at Presque Isle Bay in the spring and summer of 1813.

"They had a job to do, they had to defend the nation, and it was just that people matter,'' Rybka said. "The decisions they make and the things they do, that's what makes our history. History matters because it's those lessons that count and the inspiration we get from people who did it right or did something that was really tough to do and they stuck with it.''

Part of Wednesday's half-hour ceremony included participation of the Niagara's color guard and a wreath-laying ceremony.

Officials placed a wreath in the water next to where the Niagara is berthed behind the museum.

After Wednesday's ceremony, Erie Maritime Museum officials unveiled a Niagara ship model exhibit at a public reception inside the museum.

Erie resident Pete Gonzalez, 76, and seven other people spent the past seven years building a 1/24-scale wooden model of the Niagara.

The Niagara model measures 8 feet 6 inches in length and 6 feet 4 inches high and is displayed in a custom-built glass case.

"Every piece on here is handmade,'' Gonzalez said. "There are no store-bought parts. Every knot is hand-tied, I'm proud to say.''

Gonzalez estimates the model took approximately 6,500 hours to build. The project began in June 2007 and was completed last week, said Gonzalez, who has been a volunteer worker at the Erie Maritime Museum since 1996.

"It's made of all wood. Plank on frame, she'll float,'' Gonazalez said.

"I think they did a magnificent job of capturing the spirit of the ship and the feeling of her,'' Rybka said. "All the details they put into it and all the rigging does reflect the ship as she is now.''


Lookback #299 – Former Canadian Ambassador caught fire on Sept. 12, 2013

9/12 - A year ago today a fire broke out at Banten, Indonesia, aboard the Pramudita, a self-unloading bulk carrier that had been built on the Great Lakes by Port Weller Dry Docks of St. Catharines. This was Hull 70 of the now-closed shipyard and the vessel entered service in July 1983 as Canadian Ambassador.

This member of the Upper Lakes Shipping fleet carried grain on its maiden voyage but spent most of its career hauling coal. It was a very modern ship, air conditioned, equipped with a swimming pool and private accommodations for the crew.

Canadian Ambassador soon left the Great Lakes for coastal and deep sea trading. It crossed the Atlantic for Sweden in 1985, delivered phosphate rock along the Atlantic seaboard but was also heavily engaged in the coal trade.

The ship was transferred to Marbulk Shipping in 1986 and was renamed Ambassador at Sorel in December of that year.

Ambassador caught fire while unloading coal at Belledune, New Brunswick, on Dec. 14, 1994, and the blaze proved challenging due to its location in the conveyor tunnel. The tunnel had to be flooded to save the ship and there was heavy, but repairable damage, to the after end.

Algoma Central Corp. chartered Ambassador in 2000 and it was renamed Algosea. Most of the service was along the St. Lawrence in the ore trade but the ship made one trip through the Seaway to Hamilton with ore for Dofasco and another from Little Narrows, Nova Scotia, to Bath, with gypsum. It was returned to Marbulk in December and again renamed Ambassador.

The ship never traded inland again and spent its final years mainly carrying coal and gypsum. It crossed the Atlantic for a refit at Gdansk, Poland, in 2003.

Ambassador was sold for Indonesian service as Pramudita in 2012 and was working in the coal trade when fire broke out on Sept. 12, 2013. There are no reports of the ship being repaired or sold for scrap but it would appear that the latter is inevitable.

Skip Gillham


Today in Great Lakes History -  September 12

On 12 September 1903, the R E SCHUCK (steel propeller bulk freighter, 416 fott, 4713 gross tons) was launched by the American Ship Building Company (Hull #327) at Lorain, Ohio for the Gilchrist Transportation Company. She was purchased by the Interlake Steamship Co. (Pickands, Mather & Co., Mgrs.) in 1913, and renamed b.) HYDRUS. However, she foundered in the "Big Storm" of 1913, on Lake Huron with all hands; 24 lives were lost.

On 12 September 1902, EXPERIMENT (2-mast wooden schooner, 65 foot, 50 gross tons, built in 1854, at St. Joseph, Michigan) was carrying firewood in a storm on Lake Michigan when she went out of control in the harbor at St. Joseph, Michigan after swerving to miss an unmarked construction crib. She wrecked and was declared a total loss. Her crew was rescued by the Lifesaving Service. Three days later she was stripped and abandoned in place.

ROGER BLOUGH was laid up at Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin from September 12, 1981, through 1986, because of economic conditions.

CANADIAN PIONEER was christened at Port Weller Drydocks Ltd. on September 12, 1981, by Mrs. Louise Powis, wife of the Chairman and President of Noranda Mines for Upper Lakes Shipping Ltd. Renamed b.) PIONEER in 1987.

CARTIERCLIFFE HALL, a.) RUHR ORE, was towed by the tug WILFRED M. COHEN to Collingwood, Ontario for repairs from a June 5th fire and arrived at Collingwood Shipyards Ltd. on September 12, 1979. Renamed c.) WINNIPEG in 1988, and d.) ALGONTARIO in 1994.

Canadian Shipbuilding & Engineering Limited at Collingwood, Ontario closed the yard on September 12, 1986, after 103 years of shipbuilding. Collship was famous for its spectacular side launches. 214 ships were built at Collingwood.

While unloading steel in South Chicago from the a.) CANADA MARQUIS on September 12, 1988, a shoreside crane lifting a payloader into the hold collapsed onto the ship. CANADA MARQUIS had a hole in her tank top and damage to her hatch coaming. She sails today on the ocean and lakes as e.) BIRCHGLEN, for CSL.

On 12 September 1900, ALBACORE (2 mast wooden schooner, 137 foot, 327 tons, built in 1872, at Port Dalhousie, Ontario) had a storm blow out her sails, driving her into the seawall at Fort Bank just east of Oswego, New York where she broke up. The tug J NAVAGH tried unsuccessfully to save her. Her crew of seven was rescued by the U.S. Lifesaving Service.

After an extremely dry summer, forests were burning all over the Great Lakes region in the autumn of 1871. The smoke from these fires affected navigation. Newspaper reports stated that on 12 September 1871, 38 ships and four strings of barges anchored near Point Pelee on Lake Erie due to the restricted visibility caused by the smoke from the forest fires.

On 12 September 1900, the schooner H. W. SAGE was raised by the McMorran Wrecking Company and was then towed to Port Huron for repairs. She had sunk near Algonac, Michigan in a collision with the steamer CHICAGO on 30 July 1900.

1889: ROTHESAY, a wooden sidewheel passenger vessel, collided with the tug MYRA in the St. Lawrence between Kingston and Prescott. The latter sank with the loss of 2 lives. The former was beached on the Canadian shore where it settled and was abandoned. The wreck was dynamited in 1901 and part of it remains on the bottom in 35 feet of water.

1900: The wooden steamer JOHN B. LYON began taking water in a storm about 25 miles east of Ashtabula and sank in Lake Erie. There were 9 lost with only 6 rescued from the 19-year old vessel.

1917: GISLA was built at Wyandotte, MI in 1916 and went overseas for war duty. The vessel was hit by gunfire from U-64 in the western Mediterranean off Cape Palos, Spain, and sunk by a timed bomb. The ship was carrying nuts and vegetable oil from Kotonou, Dahomey, for Marseilles, France, when it was attacked.

1919: The wooden barge CHICKAMAUGA began leaking in huge seas off Harbor Beach, MI while under tow of the CENTURION and the ore laden vessel sank the next day. The crew of 10 was rescued by the JAMES WHALEN and the wreck was removed the following year.

1928: B.B. McCOLL was virtually destroyed by a fire at Buffalo while loading and had to be abandoned as a total loss. The ship was salvaged, rebuilt and last sailed as h) DETROIT. The ship was scrapped in 1982-1983 at Lake Calumet, IL.

1953: MARYLAND was mauled by a storm on Lake Superior and 12 hatch covers were blown off. The ship was beached near Marquette and all 35 on board were saved. The ship was abandoned but the extensive bottom damage was repaired and the ship resumed service as d) HENRY LALIBERTE.

1989: POLARLAND began visiting the Great Lakes in 1968 and returned as b) ISCELU in 1980, c) TRAKYA in 1981 and d) TRAKYA I in 1982. The ship was lying at Hualien, Taiwan, as e) LUNG HAO during Typhoon Sarah and got loose in the storm prior to going aground. The hull broke in two and was a total loss.

1989: SACHA, Liberian registered SD 14, began Seaway trading in 1973. It returned as b) ERMIONI in 1982. The ship stranded on the wreck of the ORIENTAL PEARL while approaching Bombay, India, from Tampa as d) SAFIR on December 22, 1984, and sustained considerable damage. This was repaired but SAFIR was lost after stranding on a reef off Tiran Island in the Red Sea on September 12, 1989.

2006: TORO went aground in the St. Lawrence off Cornwall Island with damage to the bulbous bow and #2 hold. The ship, enroute from Thunder Bay to Progresso, Mexico, with a cargo of wheat, was released September 18 and repaired at the Verreault shipyard in Les Mechins, QC before resuming the voyage on October 27. The vessel had previously visited the Great Lakes as a) LA LIBERTE, c) ASTART and d) ULLOA. It was still sailing as g) XING JI DA as of 2011.

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


Lakes coal down 18 percent in August

9/11 - Cleveland, Ohio – Coal shipments on the Great Lakes totaled 2.6 million tons in August, a decrease of 18 percent compared to a year ago. Loadings also trailed the month’s long-term average by nearly 19 percent.

Shipments from Lake Superior ports totaled 1,542,703 tons, a decrease of 28 percent compared to a year ago, and a drop of 20 percent compared to the month’s long-term average.

Loadings on Lake Michigan totaled 196,413 tons, a decrease of 34 percent compared to a year ago, and some 38 percent off the month’s long-term average.

Shipments from Lake Erie ports totaled 885,120 tons, an increase of 18 percent compared to a year ago, but a decrease of 10 percent compared to the month’s long-term average.

Year-to-date the Lakes coal trade stands at 12,786,720 tons, a decrease of 11 percent compared to a year ago. The decrease would be more, but higher water levels have allowed for larger payloads this season. The largest coal cargo that moved in the Head-of-the-Lakes trade in 2013 totaled 65,796 tons. Through August of this year, the top coal load transiting the Soo Locks has totaled 67,992 tons. However, even this season’s best coal load still comes up about 3,000 tons short of a full load. Furthermore, Lakes water levels normally begin to fall in autumn, so going forward, individual cargos will be less than those hauled this summer.

Lake Carriers’ Association


Port Reports -  September 11

Oswego, N.Y. – Ned Goebricher
On Wednesday the tug Everlast and tanker Norman McLeod unloaded fuel oil at the Oswego Steam Station.


Canada finds ship from doomed 19th century Franklin expedition

9/11 - Ottawa, Ont. – Canadian explorers have found the wreck of one of two ships lost in the 1845 Franklin expedition to Canada's Northwest Passage, solving an enduring historical mystery and bolstering Canada's claim to the key Arctic trade route.

Sir John Franklin and his 128 crew in the British ships HMS Erebus and HMS Terror were seeking the fabled Northwest Passage between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans when they became stuck in ice. The men all died and the ships vanished.

"I am delighted to announce that this year's Victoria Strait expedition has solved one of Canada's greatest mysteries, with the discovery of one of the two ships belonging to the Franklin Expedition," Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in a statement Tuesday.

"Finding the first vessel will no doubt provide the momentum – or wind in our sails – necessary to locate its sister ship and find out even more about what happened to the Franklin Expedition's crew."

The mystery has gripped Canadians for generations, in part because of the crew's grisly fate. Tales handed down through the aboriginal Inuit people describe cannibalism among the desperate seamen.

Harper, who has visited the Arctic territory of Nunavut every year since taking power in 2006, said the discovery was an historic moment for Canada.

"Franklin’s ships are an important part of Canadian history given that his expeditions, which took place nearly 200 years ago, laid the foundations of Canada’s Arctic sovereignty," he said.

Global warming is rapidly melting the Arctic ice sheets, opening up the possibility that ships traveling between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans could use the Northwest Passage as a short cut.

Canada says it has sovereignty over the passage but the United States does not acknowledge this, saying the channel lies in international waters.

This year's bid to locate the ships included money spent on seabed mapping to make "Canada's Arctic both safer and more secure," according to a Parks Canada release at the time of the expedition.

Parks Canada archaeologists discovered the wreck using a remotely operated underwater vehicle.

An image released showed a largely intact wooden ship resting upright on the sea bed only 36 feet below the surface. Some of the deck structures were still intact, although the main mast had been sheared off.

Harper said experts did not yet know whether the ship found was the Erebus or the Terror.

Canadian divers and archaeologists had been trying since 2008 to find the ships, which became ice-bound off King William Island in the Victoria Strait in Nunavut.

The search for Franklin started in the late 1840s and over the decades teams have discovered traces of 70 crew members, some of whom started trekking overland in desperation when it became clear the ships would never escape from the ice.

They proved hard to find because they drifted in ice for hundreds of miles and the Inuit gave conflicting accounts of where they sank.



Lookback #298 – Former Grindefjell arrived at Mozambique ablaze on Sept. 11, 1968

9/11 - Grindefjell was one of the canal ships of the pre-Seaway era that were regular callers around the Great Lakes. This ship had been built by J. Crown & Sons and launched at Sunderland, England, on Jan. 15, 1953. It was completed in June and was soon engaged in Great Lakes trading for the Fjell Line of Norway.

Inland service continued in the Seaway era that began in 1959 and Grindefjell was lengthened in 1960 to take advantage of the opportunity to carry more cargo. It returned to Sunderland for the work and resumed service 38 feet longer and able to carry an extra 630 tons of cargo.

Grindefjell made a total of 27 trips through the Seaway and it was last seen on the Great Lakes in 1965. It was sold to the Kala Shipping Co. and renamed Lenro in 1966. The ship flew the flag of Greece, but not for long.

Lenro was carrying bagged Ethiopian Niger Seed Expellers when it caught fire 46 years ago today and put into Mozambique. The Suez Canal was closed due to the Arab-Israeli War and the ship was taking the long way around from Assab, Ethiopia, to Rotterdam, Holland, when the blaze broke out.

Flames spread throughout the ship and, at one point the hull glowed red from the fire. The ship was a total loss and eventually capsized and abandoned. In time, the remains were either scrapped or scuttled.

Skip Gillham


Today in Great Lakes History -  September 11

1872, at Milwaukee, the Wisconsin, which was transferred to the Atlantic coast from Lake Erie in 1898, struck Romer Shoal off the shore of Staten Island and was wrecked. She was sailing from Norfolk, Virginia to Saco, Maine at the time. Her crew managed to reach the Life Saving Station through the heavy surf.

September 11, 1969, the Bethlehem steamer LEHIGH, Captain Loren A. Falk, delivered the first cargo to the new Bethlehem Steel mill at Burns Harbor, Indiana. The cargo consisted of 15,700 tons of taconite pellets loaded at Taconite Harbor, Minnesota.

On 11 September 1883, EXPLORER (2-mast wooden schooner, 48 foot, 33 gross tons, built in 1866, at Chatham, Ontario) struck rocks and went down on Stokes Bay on the outside of the Bruce Peninsula. Her crew was visible from shore clinging to the wreck until the vessel broke up. All five were lost.

The GEORGE M. HUMPHREY, of 1927, was patched and refloated on September 11, 1944. She had sunk in 80 feet of water after a collision with the steamer D.M. CLEMSON, of 1916, off Old Point Light, on June 15, 1943. On May 6, 1944, the barges MAITLAND NO. 1 and HILDA were employed as pontoons for the salvage operation positioned over the sunken hull. Cables were attached to the HUMPHREY's hull and to the barges. The hull was raised through a series of lifts, which allowed it to be brought into shallower water. Partial buoyancy was provided by the HUMPHREY's ballast tanks, which were pumped out to about 25 percent of capacity. The HUMPHREY was patched and refloated on September 11, 1944. She was taken to the Manitowoc Ship Building Co. first for an estimate of repairs, which totaled $469,400, and then was towed to Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin for reconditioning which was completed at a reported cost of $437,000. Captain John Roen's Roen Transportation Co. assumed ownership on September 18, 1944, and the next year the ship was renamed b.) CAPTAIN JOHN ROEN. She re-entered service on May 1, 1945, chartered to the Pioneer Steamship Co. on a commission basis. Renamed c.) ADAM E. CORNELIUS in 1948, and d.) CONSUMERS POWER in 1958. She was scrapped at Kaohsiung, Taiwan in 1988.

September 11, 2001, the former Bob-Lo boat STE. CLAIRE was towed from Detroit to Toledo by Gaelic's tug SHANNON. In August 2005, she was taken to Belanger Park in River Rouge and in the spring of 2006 she was returned to Nicholson's Slip in Ecorse by Gaelic's tugs PATRICIA HOEY and CAROLYN HOEY.

Carrying cargoes off the lakes, CANADA MARQUIS departed Halifax bound for Philadelphia with a cargo of grain. HON. PAUL MARTIN departed Halifax the same day on her way to Tampa with a load of gypsum.

HORACE JOHNSON sailed on her maiden voyage light from Lorain, Ohio, on September 11, 1929, bound for Two Harbors, Minnesota to load iron ore.

On 11 September 1895, S.P. AMES (2 mast wooden schooner, 61 foot, 43 gross tons) was driven ashore at Pointe aux Barques, Michigan, in a storm. She was quickly stripped before she went to pieces. She had been built in 1879, at Montrose, Michigan, in farm country, well inland, on the Flint River by Mr. Seth Ames. He wanted to use her to return to sea, but he died the day before her hull was launched.

On 11 September 1876, the schooner HARVEST HOME sank on Lake Michigan while bound from Chicago for Cleveland with a load of scrap iron. She was about 26 miles off Grand Haven, Michigan. The crew was taken off by the schooner GRACIE M. FILER just as the boat was going down.

1942: H.M.C.S. CHARLOTTETOWN, a Canadian naval corvette built at Kingston, ON in 1941, was torpedoed and sunk by U-517 on the St. Lawrence near Cap Chat, QC. Nine of the 64 on board were lost. 1946:

The former Hall freighter LUCIUS W. ROBINSON, heading for new service in the Far East as b) HAI LIN, ran into a typhoon on the Pacific during its delivery voyage but was unscathed.

1961: The retired PERSEUS, under tow for scrapping overseas, broke loose of the tug ENGLISHMAN, and was abandoned in rough seas near the Azores. It was later found drifting and taken in tow only to sink on September 21.

1968: GRINDEFJELL, a pre-Seaway and Seaway-era visitor for the Norwegian Fjell Line from 1953 to 1965, put into Mozambique as b) LENRO after fire had broken out in a cargo hold. The flames spread and, at one time the hull glowed red hot. The ship was gutted, later capsized and was abandoned as a total loss. The vessel was enroute from Assab, Ethiopia, to Rotterdam, with a cargo of bagged niger seed expellers and had to take the long way around due to the Suez Canal being closed. The hull was either scrapped or scuttled.

1987: An arson fire gutted the bridge and top deck of the laid up former C.S.L. package freighter FORT YORK at Sarnia. There had been another suspicious fire three weeks earlier that had been extinguished.

Data from: Skip Gillham, Joe Barr, David Swayze, Russ Plumb, Father Dowling Collection, Jody L. Aho James Neumiller, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series.


Lake Superior gale warning posted

9/10 - Duluth, Minn. – Lake Superior will be whipped into a frenzy late Tuesday night and Wednesday, with strong northeast winds expected to build waves up to 25 feet in some open areas of the big lake.

The National Weather Service in Duluth has issued a gale warning and small craft advisory for the western portions of the lake with sustained winds of 40 mph expected Wednesday and gusts to 50 mph. Waves are expected to hit 11 feet at this end of the lake, with higher waves along the South Shore.

The Marquette, Mich., office of the weather service is calling for waves in the more open parts of Lake Superior to reach 17- to 25-feet high.

A strong low-pressure system is tracking northeast out of Iowa toward Michigan tonight and Wednesday. Along with strong winds, the system will bring heavy rain to much of Wisconsin, including up to 2 inches in northern Wisconsin. A flood watch is posted for many northern counties from tonight to Wednesday afternoon, including Bayfield, Ashland, Iron, Washburn, Sawyer and Price.

With heavy rain falling on already swollen streams from storms last week, the weather service says some flooding is expected to occur in low-lying areas.

The flood watch does not include the Twin Ports, but rain is likely across most of the region tonight and Wednesday.

After July-like high temperatures for most of September so far, much colder air will funnel into the region starting tonight, with highs only in the 40s Wednesday and Thursday, and lows in the 30s into the weekend. Areas from the Iron Range north could see frost on Friday and Saturday.

Duluth News Tribune


Stormy weather expected Wednesday on Lake Michigan

9/10 - Grand Haven, Mich. – An unseasonably strong storm system is poised to churn up the Great Lakes during the afternoon Wednesday.

National Weather Service forecasters expect Lake Michigan breakers to build to an impressive 10 feet or greater, especially out to mid lake. However, shoreline communities from about Saugatuck north to Holland and Grand Haven could see wave heights surge to at least 6 to 8 feet.

Considering Great Lakes water levels around long-term averages, the expected surf easily could inundate piers and other structures, meteorologist Bob Dukesherer said.

Winds are forecast to blow in excess of 20-30 mph from the south southwest.

"With 10-footers on top of water levels near normal, (that'll) swamp the piers more easily," he said.

Further inland, gusts from this storm system could roar in excess of 30 mph or greater. Forecasters are considering issuing a wind advisory for this threat, meaning any loose items could topple over or blow away in the heaviest gusts.

MLive meteorologist Mark Torregrossa is tracking the possibility of strong to severe thunderstorms across Lower Michigan during the day, but the chances of anything too significant have trailed off since earlier forecasts.

Dukesherer said he and his team at the National Weather Service consider the confidence in severe weather to be low, though the potential impact of severe thunderstorms to be high across much of the region. Damaging winds, heavy rains and perhaps the chance of an isolated tornado or two are still not out of the question.

"Like all weather events, there are probabilities with this," Dukesherer said.

A big cool down is in store after the system passes, with daytime high temperatures falling some 15 degrees below average.

M Live


Port Reports -  September 10

Marquette, Mich. – Rod Burdick
H. Lee White and Kaye E. Barker loaded ore at LS&I on Tuesday.

Grand Haven, Mich. – Dick Fox
Wilfred Sykes crossed the pier heads about 8 a.m. Tuesday blowing a salute on its way to the Verplank's Dock in Ferrysburg. It blew a similar salute on its way out about 3:30 p.m.

Oswego, N.Y. – Ned Goebricher
On Monday, Stephen B. Roman and English River unloaded cement.


Lakes limestone up again in August

9/10 - Cleveland, Ohio – Shipments of limestone on the Great Lakes totaled 3.7 million tons in August, an increase of 2.8 percent compared to a year ago. Shipments bettered the month’s long-term average by almost 7 percent.

Loadings out of U.S. quarries totaled 3.1 million tons in August, a slight dip compared to a year ago. However, shipments from Canadian quarries rose 36 percent 660,000 tons.

Year-to-date the Lakes limestone trade stands at 15.8 million tons, a decrease of 4.2 percent compared to a year ago. The gap between this year and last has lessened considerably since ice conditions eased in May. At the end of April, limestone cargos were down 55 percent compared to the same point in 2013.

Lake Carriers’ Association


Lakes’ ore trade stays in high gear in August

9/10 - Cleveland, Ohio – For the second month in a row, shipments of iron ore on the Great Lakes reached their highest level in 6 years. The 7,242,492 tons loaded in August are the most since July 2008 when 7,318,961 tons moved from U.S. and Canadian ports. The August ore float also represents a slight increase over this July: 10,986 tons.

U.S. Great Lakes ports continued to drive the upturn. Loadings totaled 6,743,478 tons, an increase of almost 33 percent compared to a year ago. However, shipments from Canadian ports in the Seaway decreased by nearly 32 percent, in large part because of the closure of Wabush Mines.

Year-to-date the Lakes ore trade stands at 33.7 million tons, a decrease of 5 percent compared to a year ago. Shipments from U.S. ports are down by 4 percent, but loadings from Canadian ports in the Seaway have slipped by 13 percent.

The higher water levels that have somewhat helped offset the staggering delays in March and April when heavy ice formations covered the Lakes will start to fade away in the fall if the Lakes begin their seasonal decline as they normally do in autumn. As it is, August’s top load was 405 tons less than July’s largest ore cargo. The reduction in payloads will likely accelerate in the coming months.

Lake Carriers’ Association


Long-lost Air Force plane discovered in Lake Ontario by National Museum of the Great Lakes

9/10 - Cleveland, Ohio – Somewhere in the darkness a plane without a pilot, crew or passengers flew on its final mission over Lake Ontario in 1952. Suddenly, witnesses saw a bright flash of light, then nothing. The aircraft had disappeared with no telltale wreckage to mark its grave, apparently lost to history in an enduring mystery.

But the mystery was solved June 27 when an exploration team funded by the National Museum of the Great Lakes, in Toledo, discovered the wreck of that U.S. Air Force aircraft at the bottom of Lake Ontario, near Oswego, N.Y. The twin-engine C-45 was found nearly intact, under more than 100 feet of water, during a search for historic shipwrecks in the area, including a War of 1812 gunboat.

The C-45 Expeditor, manufactured by the Beech Aircraft Corp. of Wichita, Kan., was used in military service during and after World War II for training, transport and other unarmed missions. This particular C-45 was carrying three Air Force officers and two civilians on a routine flight from Bedford, Mass., to Griffis Air Force Base near Rome, N.Y., when the left engine started failing and the plane began losing altitude.

The pilot, fearing the plane would crash, ordered the crew and passengers to parachute from the plane at an altitude of 2,500 feet. All landed safely in their first jump from an airplane.

The plane was set on automatic pilot on a heading that the pilot believed would take it clear of any inhabited area. It flew for another 70 minutes until it ran out of fuel. A museum news release noted that the owner and an employee of a refreshment stand near Oswego saw a plane circling the lake just before it fell into the water about a mile offshore. Both said "a powerful light, like that of a searchlight, appeared for several seconds after the crash."

Three Coast Guard cutters and military aircraft searched the area for two days but no wreckage was found. The plane rested at the bottom until its discovery by the team of Jim Kennard, Roger Pawlowski and Roland Stevens.

Kennard, of Fairport, N.Y., said in a phone interview that the team had been searching without luck in the area where witnesses said the plane had gone down. They continued beyond that area, when "all of a sudden we see a sonar image of it, and it's like 'Oh my gosh, there it is!' " Kennard said. "That's kind of how it was – you've been searching for a good part of the day, the flies are biting you, the sun is beating down on you, and just as you're saying 'I guess we're about ready to wrap this up,' all of sudden excitement happens."

Kennard said this is the third sunken aircraft he has found, along with more than 200 shipwrecks, during his past 40 years of exploring the Great Lakes, and the Mississippi and Ohio rivers. In this case, as with others, "it's really not just trying to find the plane, it's bringing maritime history to the surface," Kennard said.

He said the team made additional finds in that same area involving both modern and historic shipwrecks. "It's almost like fishing," he added. "You're out there, fishing for shipwrecks, and nothing happens. Then all of sudden they start biting. Oh my gosh, every time we turned around there was something else."

Christopher Gillcrist, executive director of the National Museum of the Great Lakes/ Great Lakes Historical Society, said historic shipwrecks in the Great Lakes are protected by state and Canadian laws from unauthorized disturbance.

He also noted that "generally, military hardware is never abandoned" by the armed forces, and the sunken aircraft may still be considered U.S. Air Force property. Gillcrist said there are other sunken airplanes on the Society's watch list, including a B-24 bomber lost in Lake Ontario in 1944, and a C-47 cargo plane that also crashed in the lake.


Welland Canal BoatNerd Gathering this weekend

9/10 - The annual Welland Canal BoatNerd Gathering is scheduled for Friday-Sunday. Friday and Saturday evenings the group will gather at the Canadian Corps building in Thorold to share pictures, slides and videos. There is no admission charge. There will also be a few vendor tables available.

Sunday, the St. Catharines Museum & Welland Canals Centre is offering a private BoatNerd screening of the Movie “A Stern View.” Movie will start at 10 am. Coffee and snacks included. A raffle will be drawn at approx. 11:30 am and you must be in attendance to win.

The Fry Truck on the Canal just north of the Skyway would like to extend the same meal deal as last year. Get a hot dog, small fries and a drink for $7 all weekend.


200 Years ago on Lake Erie

September 9, 1813. Oliver Hazard Perry’s U.S. fleet (9 vessels) attempted to lure the British fleet (6 vessels) out into the lake, from Amherstburg, unsuccessfully on August 24, 25 and September 1. Finally on the evening of September 9, the British ships slipped out of the harbor at Amherstburg and floated down the Detroit River into Lake Erie. At this point, the British Commander Barclay did not know where Perry’s fleet was anchored. Source: David Curtis Skaggs and Gerard T. Altoff, A Signal Victory: The Lake Erie Campaign 1812-1813 (Annapolis: Naval University Press, 1997), 106-107, 110.

September 10, 1813. Oliver Hazard Perry’s nine-vessel fleet at Put-in-Bay spotted a British ship at dawn in the direction of Rattlesnake Island, showing the British fleet. Perry left Put-in-Bay and attempted to sail NW, but the wind did not cooperate and little headway was made in 3 hours. Then, the wind changed 90 degrees and blew from the SE, and headway could be made towards the British. At 1145 the British ship Detroit fired the first shot from 5 miles east of West Sister Island. The battle lasted for hours, and most of the British fire was directed to Perry’s ship Lawrence. The Lawrence was rendered useless, with many casualties. Perry transferred to the Niagara. The British lost most of their senior officers, and Commander Barclay was wounded. The lead British ship Queen Charlotte collided with the largest British ship Detroit, becoming entangled. Perry on the Niagara sailed close and delivered the final blow to the British. Some British ships surrendered, and two ran but were caught. The entire flotilla was in American hands. It was one of the rare times in British history that the Royal Navy lost an entire squadron. Source: David Curtis Skaggs and Gerard T. Altoff, A Signal Victory: The Lake Erie Campaign 1812-1813 (Annapolis: Naval University Press, 1997), 118-147.

Tom Nutter


Lookback #297 – Marengo sold for 75,000 pounds on Sept. 10, 1967

9/10 - The British freighter Marengo made 11 voyages through the Seaway into the Great Lakes. It began trading to our shores in 1962 and finished with five trips in 1964. It remained on saltwater for the Ellerman's Wilson Line until being sold for 75,000 pounds sterling on Sept. 10, 1967.

Marengo was delivered to the new Greek owners on Oct. 20 and renamed Nea Moni. As such, it operated on deep sea runs until being laid up at Piraeus, Greece, on April 2, 1971.

This vessel was built by Swan Hunter & Wigham Richardson and launched at Newcastle, England, on Feb. 5, 1947. It was completed the following July and its regular cargo capacity of 7075 tons deadweight included side tanks for vegetable oil. There was also space for 6 passengers in an era where freighter travel was quite popular.

The green-hulled Marengo was also strengthened for service in ice and spent two decades in the Ellerman fleet before it sale of 47 years ago today.

As New Moni, the ship was sold to Turkish shipbreakers and arrived at Yalova, a city on the Sea of Marmara, for dismantling on July 22, 1972.

Skip Gillham


Today in Great Lakes History -  September 10

On 10 September 1890, the PORTER CHAMBERLAIN (wooden propeller bulk freighter, 134 foot, 280 gross tons, built in 1874, at Marine City, Michigan) was floated free of the Wolverine Drydock in Port Huron, Michigan where she had steel arches installed. When she floated free, the arches broke in three places and she stayed in Port Huron to have them repaired.

September 10, 1952, the forebody and afterbody of the future JOSEPH H. THOMPSON arrived at the American Shipbuilding yard in South Chicago. The two sections were delivered to the lakes via the Mississippi River and Chicago Ship Canal. The afterbody departed Baltimore, Maryland on August 2 and the forebody departed Pascagoula, Mississippi on August 21.

On 10 September 1884, the 137-foot steam barge HENRY HOWARD was sailing up bound with the schooner-barge GEORGE WORTHINGTON in tow when she caught fire near Harsens Island at the mouth of the St. Clair River. The fire broke out near the HOWARD's engine room and spread rapidly. The vessel was beached on the island but the WORTHINGTON ran against her and was thus scorched. No lives were lost. The HOWARD was valued at $5,000, but only insured for $3,000 by her owners, B. Hoose and Julia Miner.

The whaleback tanker METEOR was towed from Manitowoc, Wisconsin by the tug JOHN ROEN IV to Superior, Wisconsin on September 10, 1972.

The KINSMAN ENTERPRISE turned 75 years old on September 10, 2002. When she entered service as a.) HARRY COULBY, on this date in 1927, the 631-foot bulk freighter was the third largest on the Great Lakes.

While up bound in the Welland Canal on September 9, 1986, it was noted that the port anchor of the J. W. MC GIFFIN was missing, her chain was almost touching the water. Rebuilt with a new cargo hold section by Port Weller Drydocks, Ltd., in 1999, renamed b.) CSL NIAGARA.

On 10 September 1909, COLUMBUS (wooden propeller bulk freighter, 136 foot, 439 gross tons, built in 1874, as the tug JOHN OWEN) burned to a total loss at her dock at Gargantua, Ontario, in Lake Superior. She was cut loose and allowed to drift out into the bay where she sank. The top of her engine reportedly still shows above the water.

September 10, 1979 - The SPARTAN was laid up. She remains in Ludington, Michigan.

The barge N. MILLS was launched at P. Lester's yard in Marysville, Michigan on 10 September 1870. Her dimensions were 164 feet x 30 feet x 12 feet.

1910: PERE MARQUETTE 18, inbound for Milwaukee with 29 rail cars, began leaking and sank 30 miles off Sheboygan, Wis. There were 33 survivors but 29 were lost including the captain. 1918: The barge SANTIAGO, under tow of the small bulk carrier JOHN F. MORROW, sank in Lake Huron off Pointe aux Barques without loss of life. 1940: A.E. AMES was once part of Canada Steamship Lines. The vessel was sold for saltwater service about 1917 and was lost, via enemy action, as c) GINETTE LEBORGNE on this date in 1940 when it struck a mine on the Mediterranean, west of Sardinia, while returning demobilized troops from North Africa to France. Data from: Skip Gillham, Max Hanley, Joe Barr, David Swayze, Russ Plumb, Father Dowling Collection, Jody L. Aho, James Neumiller, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series.


August another strong month for U.S.-flagged lakes fleet

9/9 - Cleveland, Ohio – U.S.-flag Great Lakes freighters moved 11 million tons of cargo in August, their second-highest monthly total in two years. The August float, while down 3.2 percent from July, also represents an increase of 5 percent compared to a year ago.

Iron ore for steel production totaled 5.5 million tons, an increase of 23 percent compared to a year ago. Higher water levels again allowed some cargos to approach 70,000 tons, but with 18 million cubic yards of sediment clogging ports and waterways, the industry continues to surrender carrying capacity to the dredging crisis. The top ore loads in August were still about 3,000 tons short of what vessels were carrying in 1997, a period of near record-high water levels.

Coal cargos totaled 2 million tons, a decrease of 19 percent compared to a year ago. Loadings at Lake Michigan and Lake Erie ports were largely unchanged from a year ago, but shipments from Lake Superior ports fell by 25 percent.

Shipments of limestone totaled 2.8 million tons, a decrease of 7 percent compared to last year.

Year-to-date, U.S.-flag cargo movement stands at 49.4 million tons, a decrease of 7.7 percent compared to a year ago. Higher water levels and increased vessel utilization rates are allowing the fleet to narrow the gap between this year and last caused by the brutal winter of 2013/2014. At the end of April, for example, U.S.-flag cargo movement was 45 percent off the previous year’s pace. However, Great Lakes water levels normally begin their seasonal decline in the fall, so going forward, loads will likely be smaller.

Lake Carriers’ Association


Shipwrecked schooner found on Lake Superior

9/9 - Whitefish Point, Mich. – The Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society has found a 115-year-old shipwreck. The shipwreck society was searching recently west of Whitefish Point, near Deer Park, when they noticed a blip on their side-scan sonar.

After sending divers down to investigate what it may be, they were excited to find that it was the three-masted wooden schooner, Nelson. The Nelson sank in a rare spring gale on May 13th, 1899. Nine people died including the captain's family – the captain was the only survivor.

Nelson, built in 1866, rests in over 200 feet of water and is amazingly intact, despite laying on the bottom of Lake Superior for 115 years after foundering in heavy weather.

In the spring of 1899, Nelson was in tow of the wooden steamer A. Folsom, along with the schooner Mary B. Mitchell bound for Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula. A northwest gale with freezing rain and 50 mph winds descended on the trio and thick ice soon formed on the ships’ decks. Captain A. E. White of the Folsom was attempting to turn the ships and head for the cover of Whitefish Bay when he witnessed the Nelson’s towline part and the schooner rapidly sinking.

He later noted that “…the Nelson disappeared as suddenly as one could snuff out a candle.”

This is a particularly tragic shipwreck,” Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society Executive Director Bruce Lynn remarked. “Captain Haganey of the Nelson remained aboard his sinking ship to lower the lifeboat, which contained the crew, his wife and infant child. Once lowered, Captain Haganey jumped overboard to gain the lifeboat himself. He landed in the water, and upon surfacing witnessed the stern of his vessel rise up as the ship dove for the bottom. The line was still attached to the lifeboat, which took his crew and family along with the sinking ship.”

Captain Haganey was the only survivor and later struggled ashore to the Deer Park Life-Saving Station, where he was nursed back to health.

The Nelson wreck-site is now being documented by the Shipwreck Society and her story will eventually be told at the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum, located at Whitefish Point, Michigan.

Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society


Port Reports -  September 9

Grand Haven, Mich. – Dick Fox
The Bradshaw McKee and barge St. Marys Challenger brought in a load for the St. Marys Terminal in Ferrysburg about 9 am Monday.

Toledo, Ohio – Jim Hoffman
There was no activity around the American Fortitude as of Monday. All of her lines are still out, anchors are down, and no white towing stripe painted at the base of the bow. American Valor has no activity around her. Adam E. Cornelius still has a crew working on her. A section of steel plate is still removed from the port side of the hull near the stern area. Unknown when she will fit out and sail. The saltwater vessel Fritz still remains under arrest at the Midwest Terminals Overseas Dock. The Manistee was inbound Maumee Bay with a load of salt bound for one of the upriver docks. American Century was loading coal at the CSX Docks with Algosoo waiting to follow. Catherine Desgagnes remains anchored in western Lake Erie and will follow the Algosoo loading coal. The tug Huron Service and barge 6506 remain in temporary layup at the Midwest Terminals Overseas Dock. The saltwater vessel Erieborg was loading grain at Andersons K Elevator. There are no vessels at the Ironhead Shipyard at the present time.


National Museum team discovers rare schooner off Oswego

9/9 - Toledo, Ohio – A rare dagger-board schooner, Three Brothers, has been discovered in deep water off Oswego, N.Y., by a volunteer team, the National Museum of the Great Lakes in Toledo announced Monday.

The schooner was located in early July with assistance from sonar equipment.

The schooner, which was heading from Pultneyville to Oswego with a cargo of apples, cider, and 700 bushels of wheat when it sank in a gale in 1833, is the first fully working dagger-board schooner ever found and is believed to be the oldest confirmed commercial schooner to have been discovered in the Great Lakes, according to the National Museum of the Great Lakes.

Dagger-board schooners were in use on the lakes from the early 1800s until the 1830s.

Christopher Gillcrist, executive director of the National Museum of the Great Lakes, said in a prepared statement that collaboration with a three-member team continues to produce “the most stunning shipwreck discoveries on the Great Lakes. The find and identification of the Three Brothers is not only important to the Lake Ontario region but all of the Great Lakes.”

The survey of historic shipwrecks in Lake Ontario was funded by a grant from The National Museum of the Great Lakes/Great Lakes Historical Society of Toledo.

“Finding shipwrecks is not easy. Finding money to find shipwrecks isn’t easy either,” stated Mr. Gillcrist. “There is not a lot of grant money for this type of activity, so we generally fund our shipwreck research out of our general operating budget.”

Funds are generated through membership, annual giving and the organization’s annual fundraiser H2Oh, which included a limited raffle for a Great Lakes freighter trip and $10,000.

Several days after the schooner went down, apparently in a severe gale that blustered that day, the ship’s tiller, a barrel of apples, and the captain’s hat were found just east of Oswego near 9 Mile Point. In addition to the captain, two crew members and a passenger, all of New York, died.

The schooner was constructed in 1827 on Galloo Island, a few miles from the northeastern end of Lake Ontario near the St Lawrence River.

In early July, during a survey by the shipwreck search team, the discovery of the schooner came as a surprise because this was not one of the shipwrecks thought to be in this area, according to the National Museum of the Great Lakes.

After six weeks of research and collaboration with shipwreck historians, the schooner was identified as the Three Brothers, and in early August more details were obtained, including through video surveys.

Historic shipwrecks abandoned and embedded in New York State underwater lands belong to the people of the State of New York and are protected by state and federal law from unauthorized disturbance.

Toledo Blade


Lookback #296 – Desdemona stranded off southern South America on Sept. 9, 1985

9/9 - The small West German freighter Desdemona was completed in April 1952 and made two trips through the old locks of the St. Lawrence to reach the Great Lakes that year. On the first trip it stopped at Milwaukee to load salted pork backs.

The ship was a regular inland caller and this pattern continued into the first two years of the Seaway. The vessel made three visits inland in 1959 and its final call on the lakes came in 1960.

The 254 foot, 11-inch-long Desdemona was sold in 1961 and resold in 1962 for service under the flag of Argentina. None of these owners changed the name.

It was 29 years ago today that Desdemona ran aground at Cabo San Pablo, Tierra del Fuego, in the Magellan Strait off the southern tip of South America. It stranded on one of the island archipelagos in that region and became a total loss.

The ship was seen there intact but badly rusted in 2010 and there is every reason to believe it will remain there for many more years.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  September 9

Saltie Gallery updated with pictures of the HHL Congo, HR Maria, Larsholmen, Merwedegracht, Miedwie and Volgaborg


Today in Great Lakes History -  September 9

On 09 September 1889, the FOLGER (wooden propeller wrecking tug, 69 foot, 64 gross tons, built in 1881, at Kingston, Ontario) was sailing upbound past St. Clair, Michigan when fire was discovered in her engine room. Her wheelsman stuck to his post as long as possible, trying to beach her at Courtright, Ontario, but the flames engulfed the vessel and all hands had to abandon her.

September 9, 1936. For the second consecutive day, boats of the Interlake and Pittsburgh fleets collided. The SATURN collided with the HENRY H. ROGERS in heavy fog above Whitefish Bay. The SATURN continued upbound to repair damage at Superior Shipbuilding. The ROGERS continued downbound to South Chicago where the anchor of the SATURN was removed from the Mate's starboard cabin.

September 9, 1940, the steamer MARITANA, Captain Charles E. Butler, went to anchor in Whitefish Bay due to weather. When they retrieved their anchor the next day, they also recovered a second anchor. The second anchor had an oak stock 12 feet across and 17 inches in diameter. The 8 foot forged metal shank was stamped with a date of 1806.

On 09 September 1886, GENERAL WOLSELEY (wooden side-wheel steamer, 103 foot, 123 tons, built in 1884, at Oakville, Ontario) caught fire on her way to Dyer's Bay, Ontario. She was run ashore for the crew to escape near Cape Croker on Georgian Bay and burned to the water's edge.

The WOLVERINE (Hull#903) was launched September 9, 1974, at Lorain, Ohio by American Ship Building Co. for the Union Commerce Bank (Ohio), Trustee (Oglebay Norton Co., mgr.), Cleveland, Ohio.

DETROIT EDISON (Hull#418) was launched September 9, 1954, at Manitowoc, Wisconsin by Manitowoc Ship Building Co. for the American Steamship Co. (Boland & Cornelius, mgr.) Buffalo, New York.

The Steamer PERE MARQUETTE 18 sank on September 9, 1910, with a loss of 29 lives. No cause for the sinking has ever been determined. The PERE MARQUETTE 17 picked up 33 survivors, losing 2 of her own crew during the rescue.

The first of two fires suffered by the Grand Trunk carferry GRAND RAPIDS occurred on September 9, 1980. The cause of the fire was not determined.

On 9 September 1929, the ANDASTE (steel propeller self-unloading sandsucker, 247 foot, built in 1892, at Cleveland, Ohio) was probably overloaded with gravel when she 'went missing' west of Holland, Michigan. The entire crew of 25 was lost. When built, she was the sister of the 'semi-whaleback' CHOCTAW, but was shortened 20 feet in 1920-21, to allow her to use the Welland Canal.

On 9 September 1871, Captain Hicks of the schooner A H MOSS fired the mate, a popular fellow, in a fit of anger the same time that a tug arrived to tow the schooner out of Cleveland harbor. The crew was upset to say the least, and when the towline was cast off and Capt. Hicks ordered the sails hoisted, the crew refused to do any work. The skipper finally raised the signal flags and had the tug tow his vessel back into the harbor. When the MOSS dropped anchor, he fired the entire crew then went ashore to hire another crew.

The ROY A. JODREY (Hull#186) was launched in 1965, at Collingwood, Ontario by Canadian Shipbuilding & Engineering Co. Ltd. for Algoma Central Railway Ltd.

1924: A fire aboard the ship SOUTH AMERICAN at Holland, MI destroyed the upper works of the popular passenger steamer.

1964: A collision between the GEORGE R. FINK and the Swedish freighter BROHOLM occurred in zero visibility on Lake Huron just north of the Bluewater Bridge. The latter, on her only voyage through the Seaway, received a gash on the starboard side above the waterline while the former had only minor damage. BROHOLM arrived at Hsinkang, China, for scrapping as d) PROODOS on September 2, 1974.

1977: The British freighter PERTH began service to Canada in 1951 and ooperated into the Great Lakes until 1960. The ship ran aground about 200 miles south of Suez as e) GEORGIOS on this date but was later refloated and taken to Suez. The ship was arrested there and subsequently sank on October 1, 1979. The hull was likely refloated and dismantled at that location.

1993: INDIANA HARBOR received major hull damage when it struck Lansing Shoal. The ship was repaired at Sturgeon Bay.

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


Port Reports -  September 8

Marquette, Mich. – Rod Burdick
Regular visitors Herbert C. Jackson and Michipicoten loaded ore Sunday morning at LS&I.

Lorain, Ohio – Phil Leon
Algorail left Lorain Sunday at 4 a.m.


Lookback #295 – Grand Rapids caught fire at Muskegon on Sept. 8, 1980

9/8 - The rail car and passenger ferry Grand Rapids sustained fire damage that developed in the pilings alongside the vessel at Muskegon, Mich., on Sept. 8 1980. The ship had been inactive for almost a decade after receiving ice damage on Lake Michigan in February 1971.

The arson blaze of 34 years ago today buckled hull plates on the car deck and the U.S. Coast Guard and Muskegon Fire Department had to put it out.

The ferry had been built at Manitowoc, Wis., in 1926 and was equipped with 4 tracks to handle 30 rail cars for the Lake Michigan crossings. It was a good carrier for 44-years but not without incident.

The 360-foot-long steamship stranded on a sandbar off Grand Haven on Dec. 8, 1927, and repeated the event on March 9, 1933.

A second fire on April 15, 1987, was the result of an attempt to steal equipment. The thieves used a cutting torch to remove valuables from the upper deck but their work burned more than they had bargained for igniting the pilothouse and they had to flee.

Grand Rapids was sold for scrap in 1989 and towed to Port Maitland, arriving Sept. 10, 1989. The hull was dismantled there in 1994.

Skip Gillham


Today in Great Lakes History -  September 8

September 8, 1936, the Interlake steamer CRETE and the Pittsburgh steamer CORNELL collided in heavy fog above Whitefish Point. After temporary repairs were made in the Weitzel lock, the CRETE proceeded to Chicago Shipbuilding to repair a damaged bow. The CORNELL proceeded to Manitowoc to repair damage to her starboard side just forward of her boiler house.

On September 8,1868, HIPPOCAMPUS (wooden propeller, 152 tons, built in 1867, at St. Joseph, Michigan) stranded in a storm off St. Joseph and was pounded to pieces. 36 of the 41 passengers were lost. Litigation continued until November 10,1884, when the owner was held innocent of blame in the U. S. Court at Grand Rapids, Michigan.

GEMINI (Hull#745) sailed on her maiden voyage in August, 1978, from Levingston Shipbuilding Co., at Orange, Texas, to load fuel oil at Baytown, Texas, for delivery at Detroit, Michigan. Passing up bound the next month on September 8 through the Welland Canal, GEMINI became the largest U.S. flagged tanker on the Great Lakes with a capacity of 76,000 barrels. GEMINI was renamed b.) ALGOSAR in 2005.

The W. E. FITZGERALD (Hull#167) was launched September 8, 1906, at Wyandotte, Michigan, by Detroit Ship Building Co. for the Chicago Navigation Co., Chicago, Illinois (D. Sullivan, mgr.).

The bulk freighter HENRY A. HAWGOOD was launched on September 8, 1906, at Cleveland, Ohio, by the American Ship Building Co. for Minerva Steamship Co. (W. A. & H.A. Hawgood, mgr.), Cleveland. Renamed b.) C. RUSSELL HUBBARD in 1912, and c.) W. W. HOLLOWAY in 1935.

RADIANT departed the shipyard September 8, 1913, light on her maiden voyage bound for Montreal, Quebec.

September 8, 1970 - MILWAUKEE CLIPPER made her last run from Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

On September 8, 1985, the downbound the Panamanian NORCHEM collided with the upbound CANADIAN PROSPECTOR near Kanawake, Quebec. PROSPECTOR had little damage but NORCHEM was ripped open near her port anchor.

On September 8,1885, ADVANCE (wooden schooner, 119 foot, 180 gross tons, built in 1853, at Milwaukee, Wisconsin) was carrying wood when she became waterlogged and capsized in a gale and blinding rain near Port Washington, Wisconsin, in Lake Michigan. All but one of her crew of seven drowned when her yawl capsized in the surf.

On September 8,1871, the schooner MORNING LIGHT was sailing from Kelley's Island on Lake Erie with a cargo of stone for Marquette, Michigan, in heavy weather. Trying to enter the Detroit River, the crew miscalculated their position and ran the ship aground on Pointe Mouille, just below Gibraltar. The crew scuttled the vessel in the shallow water to save her from harm. The following day, the tug GEORGE N. BRADY was sent out with steam pumps and hawsers and the MORNING LIGHT was raised and towed to Detroit for repairs.

1860: The wooden passenger and freight steamer LADY ELGIN sank in Lake Michigan following a collision with the schooner AUGUSTA with an estimated 297 lost their lives.

1979: The Norwegian carrier INGWI first came through the Seaway in 1960 and made about 10 trips inland through 1967. The hull was reported to have fractured as b) OH DAI enroute from Singapore to Calcutta. The ship foundered in the Bay of Bengal but there was speculation at the time that this was an insurance fraud.

1980: The idle rail car ferry GRAND RAPIDS sustained fire damage from a blaze in the pilings at Muskegon, buckling plates on the car deck. It was extinguished by the U.S.C.G. and Fire Department.

2010: The tug MESSENGER came to the Great Lakes for the Gaelic Tugboat Co. in 1984 and was renamed b) PATRICIA HOEY. It was later sold and became c) NEW HAMPSHIRE and then d) SEA TRACTOR II before leaving the lakes, via Oswego, about 1991. It was known as e) SHARK when scuttled as an artificial reef near Miami, on this date in 2010.

Data from: Skip Gillham, Max Hanley, Joe Barr, Al Miller, David Swayze, Russ Plumb, Father Dowling Collection, James Neumiller, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series.


Canadian Miner cleanup progressing

9/7 - Main-A-Dieu, N.S. – Work is progressing on the cleanup of the former Canadian Miner, a derelict Great Lakes freighter that was being towed to a scrapyard in Turkey when it became grounded off Scatarie Island, Cape Breton, nearly three years ago.

Rob Jessome, a general supervisor with Nova Scotia Lands, the provincial agency tasked with overseeing the abandoned ship’s removal, said contractors have built a stone breakwater and access road to reach the ship.

Workers are currently putting up an emergency radio communications shed because cellphone service at the work site is unreliable. Others are inside the vessel removing asbestos and preparing the ship to be cut apart.

The province’s contractor, RJ MacIsaac Construction of Antigonish, is waiting for the arrival of large steel-cutting shears before work to remove the vessel can really begin, Jessome said.

However, he added, asbestos removal is a large portion of the job, which is expected to be finished by November. “They can’t cut it down until the asbestos abatement is done, for safety reasons,” Jessome said.

So far, the project seems to be progressing as expected, he said.

“The contractor doesn’t seem fussed. I’m not going to make assumptions at this point. They’ve said November is a go.”

RJ MacIsaac was awarded an $11.9-million contract from the province to complete the cleanup. Company president Boyd MacIsaac said in May the scrap steel could bring the firm up to $3million in additional revenue.

Halifax Chronicle-Herald


Port Reports -  September 7

Lorain, Ohio – Phil Leon
Algorail arrived in port Saturday evening.


Ad salesman's apology will clear extortion charge

9/7 - Milwaukee, Wis. – An advertising salesman who got too aggressive in his pitch to the Lake Express will have to apologize to the ferry service to avoid a felony extortion charge, according to an agreement with the Milwaukee County district attorney's office.

"This is unique," said David Feiss, assistant district attorney who recently agreed not to charge Brian D. Larson with extortion if the Minnesota man writes the apology, does 40 hours of community service and doesn't break any laws for six months. If Larson violates the six-month deal, known as a diversion agreement, Feiss may file extortion charges, the agreement states.

Larson's troubles began last year when he tried to use the power of the press in order to earn a 32% commission by selling ads in Outer Boundary, a 20,000-circulation quarterly magazine based in Menasha.

"The general allegation was that if Lake Express did not buy advertising in Outer Boundary that there would be a negative story about Lake Express" in the publication, Feiss said.

Contacted by phone, Larson, 56, hung up on a reporter after saying: "I don't have any comment on anything. Have a great day."

Larson's threat was believable in part because Outer Boundary had just published a story that made Lake Express appear to be the key villain in an ongoing environmental dispute over the dumping of coal ash into Lake Michigan by the SS Badger, the Manitowoc ferry service that competes with Lake Express. Both companies ferry cars and customers across Lake Michigan.

"After we shook the coconut tree it was revealed the entire ambush on the SS Badger appears to stem from one entity ... Lake Express, the Badger's only competitor," Steve Krueger, the magazine's publisher and owner, wrote in the article.

The story also took shots at other players in the dispute, including U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Lake Express lobbyist William Broydrick and Sheldon and David Lubar, key owners of the Milwaukee ferry service.

After the story ran, Larson, named the magazine's head of marketing and national sales in December 2012, contacted Lake Express seeking to sell it advertising in Outer Boundary. Larson also warned Aaron Schultz, Lake Express marketing and sales director, that an additional pro-Badger, anti-Lake Express story was in the works. But in a voice mail he left for Schultz, Larson said that if Lake Express bought an ad package, it would "probably preclude me from putting in the second half of the article on the Badger because I would not then have room."

In a follow-up voice mail, Larson said Krueger was working on another story dealing with Lake Express. "I mean if we're going (to) try and put the kibosh on this, I want to do it before Steve puts too much energy into it."

Instead of buying ads, Schultz and Broydrick met with Feiss, the assistant DA.

Krueger stressed Larson was never an employee but rather was an independent contractor hired to run his advertising sales efforts. He cut ties with Larson months before he learned about the threats to Lake Express.

The publisher said he didn't know the specifics of the voice mails left by Larson until a reporter read them to him. "It's no wonder that Aaron Schultz had the vehement reaction that he had," Krueger said.

Feiss said the voice mails and emails were key in convincing Larson to agree to a diversion rather than filing a charge. "Everything that was alleged to have occurred, occurred in emails and voice mails," Feiss said. "If you knew you were committing a crime ... would you be so blatant as to put things in writing and leave voice mails?"

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel


Lookback #294 – Amaryllis aground on Florida beach on Sept. 7, 1965

9/7 - Hurricane Betsy was churning through the western Atlantic 49 years ago today, leaving considerable destruction in its wake. Included was the freighter Amaryllis on a voyage, in ballast, from Manchester, England, to Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

The 20-year-old cargo vessel landed on the shore about 1.5 miles north of Palm Beach Inlet, Florida, and, initially, there were hopes it could be refloated. The crew lived aboard for about four months and kept up steam but all efforts to pull the ship free failed.

Plans to build a cofferdam might have worked but the project was too expensive and was abandoned.

Amaryllis went from being a tourist curiosity to a nusiance as it grew increasingly unpopular with local residents. Its presence changed the shape of the beach, created a new sandbar that surfers liked, and spoiled the view for patrons of the Routledge Motel.

The crew, save for a ship-keeper, left for home and the latter got in trouble with the legal system for allowing some local youths to live aboard ship. There were lawsuits in an effort to have the ship removed and an on board fire.

Finally, in 1975, a gravel road was built out to the ship and it was dismantled with the scrap steel from the upper works being taken to Tampa for recycling. They were finally able to refloat the lower hull and it was taken out to sea and sunk as an artificial reef off West Palm Beach.

Amaryllis had been a Seaway trader in 1959. It was built at Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1945 as Cromwell Park and made its first trip to India with a mixed cargo of grain, lumber, canned fish and six landing craft on deck. It returned via the Middle East for New York. It later worked along the west coast of North America as Harmac Vancouver and served as a lumber carrier until moving to Greek interests, but Panamanian flag, as Amaryllis in 1948.

Skip Gillham


Today in Great Lakes History -  September 7

On September 7, 1978, the ROGER M. KYES lost all power in Lake St. Clair requiring tug assistance from the Great Lakes Towing Co. tugs MARYLAND and MAINE, which escorted her to the Great Lakes Steel dock. Renamed b.) ADAM E. CORNELIUS in 1989.

CADILLAC of 1943 was laid up on September 7, 1981, for the last time at Toledo, Ohio. She was later transferred to a West coast marine operation in preparation for conversion for a proposed container ship for service between Chicago, Detroit and Quebec City. However these plans never materialized. On September 7, 1921, the D. G. KERR pulled up to the ore dock at Two Harbors, Minnesota to load exactly 12,507 gross tons of iron ore in the record-breaking time of 16 and a half minutes. This was accomplished through the cooperation of the dock superintendent, the dock employees concerned, the ship's captain and crew and the Pittsburgh Steamship Co. as a means of "showing up" the competition. Her time of arrival and departure to and from the dock took only 19 minutes. For comparison, a good average loading time at that time was about three hours and 45 minutes.

On September 7, 1975, on the St. Marys River loaded with iron ore pellets, WILLIAM G. MATHER, forced out of the channel by a saltwater vessel, struck bottom. Upon proceeding further onto Lake Huron it was discovered that her pumps were unable to cope with incoming water caused by the damage. She was beached at Frying Pan Island (De Tour, Michigan) in 19 feet of water when it became evident they couldn't make dock.

On 7 September 1883, LAURA BELL (wooden schooner, 138 foot, 269 gross tons, built in 1870, at Toledo, Ohio) was carrying coal from Cleveland, Ohio to Marquette, Michigan when she stranded off Shot Point, east of Marquette in Lake Superior. Her crew spent 3 days in her rigging and all but one was rescued by a tug from Marquette.

September 7, 1916 - The PERE MARQUETTE 3 ran aground 10 miles north of Milwaukee.

September 7, 1996 - The American Society of Mechanical Engineers designated the propulsion system of the BADGER a mechanical engineering landmark.

The launch of the 188-foot wooden schooner ELIZABETH A. NICHOLSON was set for 4 p.m., on 7 September 1872, at E. Fitzgerald's shipyard in Port Huron, Michigan. Just before 4 p.m., a telegram was received at the shipyard from Capt. Nicholson, the owner of the new vessel, which read, "Wait a while. We are coming." The launch was delayed until another dispatch was received which said to go ahead anyway. The boat Capt. Nicholson was on had broken down. The launch went well. The vessel was painted deep green with her name in gilt. All present cheered the sight, but there was no party afterwards. All of the food and beverages for the celebration were with Capt. Nicholson on the disabled vessel.

On 07 September 1883, the COLORADO (wooden schooner-barge, 118 foot, built in 1866, at Fairport, Ohio) was in tow of the steamer DON M. DICKINSON along with the schooner-barge N. P. GOODELL in a gale on Lake Huron. As the gale worsened, the string of vessels went to shelter in the harbor at Sand Beach (now Harbor Beach), Michigan. The COLORADO broke loose as they entered the harbor. Deckhand Abbot Way jumped on to the breakwater with a line to secure the COLORADO, but the line broke as soon as it went taut. It broke three times and the barge drifted out into the gale, stranding Mr. Way on the breakwater with six-foot waves washing over it. He managed to get to the harbor light at the end of the breakwater and climbed up above the waves where he was stranded for two hours until the crew of the Lifesaving Station got to him. COLORADO beached herself with no loss of life. She was later recovered and lasted until 1902 when she was abandoned.

1901: WAWATAM ran aground on Gratiot Beach above Port Huron with the whaleback barge #102 in tow.

1929: CHARLES C. WEST went aground on Gull Rock Reef damaging both frames and plates. The repair bill topped $46,000.

1942: OAKTON of the Gulf & Lake Navigation Co. was torpedoed and sunk in the St. Lawrence by U-517 about 15 miles west of Cape Gaspe. It was struck amidships on the port side and went down stern first without any loss of life except the ship's St. Bernard dog. The ship had a load of coal on board from Sandusky, Ohio, to Cornerbrook, NF when hit. Two other Greek ships, MOUNT TAYGETUS and MOUNT PINDUS were struck in the same attack with the loss of 6 lives.

1956: The former Canada Steamship Lines freighter WINONA stranded on a sand bank at Aparii, Philippines, island of Luzon, as b) EDDIE while enroute to Japan with a cargo of logs. The ship broke in two and was a total loss.

1965: AMARYLLIS was driven ashore about 1.5 miles north of Palm Beach Inlet, Florida, during Hurricane Betsy. The crew lived on board for another 4 months keeping up steam in hope of being refloated but the ship was eventually abandoned as a total loss. The vessel, enroute from Manchester, England, to Baton Rouge, LA in ballast, visited the Great Lakes in 1959. The hull became increasingly unpopular with local residents and, in 1975, a gravel road was built to the ship to truck the scrapped steel away. The remains were later floated off and sunk off West Palm Beach as an artificial reef.

1979: INDIANA HARBOR loaded a record 61,649 tons of iron ore at Two Harbors.

1997: NORTH ISLANDS, a Cypriot flag SD14, came through the Seaway in 1994 and loaded peas at Thunder Bay for Cuba. The vessel went aground near San Antonio, Chile, after losing her propeller. The ship broke in two, but all 30 on board were rescued by a helicopter from the Chilean Navy.

Data from: Skip Gillham, Max Hanley, Joe Barr, Tin Stackers - The History of the Pittsburgh Steamship Company, Father Dowling Collection, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships. We Remember series


American Spirit freed Friday after unloading part of cargo

9/6 - Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. – American Spirit, a 1004-foot freighter that had been hard aground off Mackinac Island since Thursday afternoon, was refloated early Friday morning.

The vessel made its way to St. Ignace, Mich., where it anchored. Coast Guard marine inspectors and American Bureau Shipping surveyors were inspecting the vessel prior to the vessel getting underway again.

Part of the vessel’s cargo was offloaded into fleetmate Sam Laud. The G-tug Missouri also assisted in freeing the vessel.

At 6:30 p.m. Thursday, a search-and-rescue controller at Coast Guard Sector Sault Ste. Marie received a report from the crew of the American Spirit, a 1004-foot U.S. flagged freighter, stating that they ran hard aground on muddy/sandy bottom at Round Island Passage, located between Mackinac Island and Round Island.

The vessel was transiting to Gary, Indiana, with 64,800 tons of iron ore. The crew reported being pushed against the south side of the channel by strong winds.

No pollution or flooding resulted from the grounding or from the refloating operations.

Coast Guard Sector Sault Ste. Marie marine inspectors received and approved a salvage plan from the American Steamship Company early Friday morning.



Port Reports -  September 6

Oshawa, Ont. – Andre Blanchard
The Netherlands-flagged cargo vessel Merwedegracht arrived in Oshawa early Friday morning. This is its first visit to the Great Lakes. The vessel was built in 2011 and is registered in Amsterdam. According to the Spliethoff Bevrachingskantoor BV website, this vessel is listed as a M-Type cargo vessel.


Expansion of Great Lakes Marine Sanctuary approved

9/6 - Detroit, Mich. – The Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary in northern Michigan has received federal approval to expand its size nearly tenfold and boost the preservation of scores of sunken vessels in an area of Lake Huron once known as "Shipwreck Alley."

Thunder Bay, the only freshwater national sanctuary, is announcing Friday that the Obama administration approved the years-in-the-making effort to grow from about 450 square miles to 4,300 square miles. The expansion — which incorporates the waters from off Alcona, Alpena and Presque Isle in the northeastern Lower Peninsula and to the maritime border with Canada — also doubles the number of estimated shipwrecks to roughly 200.

The effort to expand the sanctuary, originally created in 2000, started with three failed Congressional bids and then the administrative review process through the Commerce Department. The department oversees the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which manages the sanctuary along with the state of Michigan.

"It's been a long, long effort," sanctuary superintendent Jeff Gray said. "It's a pretty monumental thing. ... In a small way we raise the Great Lakes into this national dialogue."

While many spots along the Great Lakes are hazardous, Thunder Bay became known as "Shipwreck Alley" in the 19th century, as it was part of a major shipping channel during an era when the region had few alternatives.

The sanctuary was established to protect cultural resources and focuses on shipwrecks, but its research often finds dual uses. For instance, the systematic mapping of the lake bottom has helped to identify the wrecks and provide scientific data — such as fish-spawning areas — to share with fisheries biologists.

Still, the wrecks remain the main attraction. Among the better known is the Isaac M. Scott, a propeller-driven coal carrier that fell victim to the Great Storm of 1913, which scuttled 11 vessels in 16 hours and killed 150 mariners. Another is the New Orleans, a wooden side-wheeler that hit a reef on a fogbound night in 1849. All 300 passengers and sailors were rescued.

Expanding the sanctuary's boundaries also fosters further exploration and the possibility of locating other vessels.

"It's really the timeline of Great Lakes shipping down there," Gray said. Vessels are found at all depths — some are accessible by kayak or glass-bottom boat, others can be explored by snorkelers and recreational divers, while the deepest are accessible only to technical, professional diving crews.

Gray said the sanctuary has worked over the years to iron out concerns and criticisms, such as divers fearing blocked access, but sanctuary officials have encouraged them to visit by placing buoys on sites. Officials also worked with the shipping industry, which led to excluding the waters in three area ports, as well as regional Indian tribes to ensure that the expansion wouldn't affect treaty fishing rights.

The sanctuary draws about 80,000 visitors annually, and Gray said they hope to hit 100,000 this year.

Associated Press


Ashtabula River removed from Great Lakes watch list after $85 million cleanup

9/6 - Washington, D. C. – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today that cleanup of the Ashtabula River has progressed enough for it to be removed from a list of contaminated sites along the Great Lakes that are designated "areas of concern" by the United States and Canada.

"Today is a great day for the Ashtabula River and Lake Erie," EPA Region 5 Administrator Susan Hedman said in a press release to announce the change.

Sediment at the bottom of Ashtabula River and Ashtabula Harbor was contaminated by unregulated chemical discharges and mismanagement of hazardous waste from the 1940s through the late 1970s, EPA says.

According to EPA, the federal government, state of Ohio and several private companies have spent roughly $85 million to remove pollutants such as mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls from its sediment and to restore its plant and animal life. Since 2010, almost $14 million from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative was used for the cleanup.

"This success story demonstrates why we must ensure that the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative receives the funding it needs," said Russell Township GOP Rep. Dave Joyce, who has worked to protect the program from funding cuts.

Representatives of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service joined Joyce and Hedman at an Ashtabula Yacht Club press conference to announce the change.

"I believe that our actions here and in other Great Lakes areas of concern will be remembered for years to come as the point in history when our country rallied our expertise, our resources and our hope to usher in an era of Great Lakes water stewardship," said Fish and Wildlife Service Midwest Deputy Regional Director Charlie Wooley.

"The cleanup of the Lower Ashtabula River and Harbor area of Concern has been a long journey but the payoff will be well worth the investment," added OEPA director Craig Butler.


Lookback #293 – Algoport lost on Pacific Ocean on Sept. 6, 2009

9/6 - It was five years ago today that the Algoport, under tow across the Pacific for reconstruction, ran into heavy weather associated with Tropical Storm Dujuan. The 30-year-old laker broke in two and sank while under tow of the tug Pacific Hickory. The ship went down in very deep water about a week away from its Mainland China destination. There were no injuries or pollution.

Algoport was Hull 217 from the Collingwood Shipyard and it had been launched on May 7, 1979. The $30 million vessel was given a special bow for easier handling in ice and for coastal service. The ship saw considerable service around Maritime Canada in the salt, gypsum, ore and stone trades.

At 658 feet in overall length, the ship was less than full size but still a very capable carrier for the Algoma Central Corp. It loaded the first cargo of potash at the Thunder Bay terminal in 1981 and took on 19,091 tons in 15 hours.

The vessel was modified to burn cheaper residual fuel, a blend of bunker C, heavy crude and marine diesel, at Port Colborne over the winter of 1991-1992.

Algoport completed its Great Lakes service and left Hamilton for the Far East on June 28, 2009. There, the old cargo section was to be removed while a new fore body, almost completed, would be joined to the existing stern. The ship traveled through the Panama Canal under her own power until the tug took over for the transpacific tow.

With the ship a total loss, a new after end had to be constructed and the completed vessel returned to the Great Lakes as Algoma Mariner in 2011.

Skip Gillham


Today in Great Lakes History -  September 6

On September 6,1872, nine days after she set sail from Port Colborne for Detroit, the schooner J. W. SARGENT was listed as missing in the Detroit newspapers, probably a victim of a August 29 storm that struck Lake Erie. Later on the same day that the newspaper announcement was published, the SARGENT arrived in Detroit. Captain William Simms stated that the storm drove him south to Erie, Pennsylvania, where he sheltered for a few days. He sent a telegraph message to the ship's owner but the news was not relayed to Detroit. The SARGENT only lasted another three months. In November 1872, a storm got her on Lake Erie.

The BADGER was launched on September 6, 1952, at Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. A christening ceremony included the SPARTAN (launched earlier that year). The BADGER was named in honor of the University of Wisconsin. The BADGER was built by Christy Corporation, and is powered by two Skinner 4 cylinder Steeple Compound Uniflow Marine Steam engines, developing over 7,000 horsepower. She was the last of the large, coal-fired steamers to be built in the United States, and the only ship of her type still operating on the Great Lakes. The BADGER offers seasonal passenger service from Ludington, Michigan, to Manitowoc, Wisconsin, from mid May to early October.

BELLE RIVER began her maiden voyage when she loaded 56,073 long tons of western coal at Superior, Wisconsin, on August 31, 1977, and arrived at Detroit Edison Co.'s Belle River power plant at Recors Point on September 6, 1977. Renamed in 1990, she sails today as b.) WALTER J. McCARTHY, JR.

On September 6, 1992, H. LEE WHITE was in tow of the "G" tugs COLORADO and LOUISIANA entering the Trenton Channel when she struck a section of the toll bridge at Grosse Ile, Michigan, knocking down a 150 foot span immediately east of the main river channel. The WHITE was not damaged but a new section of the bridge had to be installed at a cost of $1.7 million. The bridge was back in service in late January 1993. The U.S. Coast Guard investigated this casualty and their report states that it was the failure of the bridge tender to operate and open the bridge that caused this casualty. The Coast Guard found that the master of the WHITE was operating his vessel in a prudent and lawful manner including the use of whistle signals.

CHARLES E. WILSON completed her sea trials in 1973. Renamed b.) JOHN J. BOLAND in 2000.

GEORGIAN BAY collided with the steamer CHARLES HUBBARD in the fog-covered lower St. Marys River September 6, 1955.

On September 6, 1989, the twin-screw rail car ferry GRAND RAPIDS left Muskegon, Michigan, in tow of the tugs ANGLIAN LADY and PRINCESS NO 1, and arrived at Port Maitland, Ontario, on September 11th. Scrapping was completed in the fall of 1994.

On September 6, 1887, BLUE BELL (2-mast wooden scow-schooner, 84 foot, 122 gross tons, built in 1867, at Milwaukee, Wisconsin) was carrying lumber from Wilt's Bay, Michigan, to Milwaukee when she missed the harbor entrance at Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, in a storm. She was driven ashore where she broke up. Her crew made it to the beach with the aid of the local U.S. Life Saving crew. The total loss was valued at $5,000.

On September 6,1871, the wooden schooner ROSA STEARNS, loaded with coal, was battling a storm for hours off Cleveland, Ohio. The ship was driven on the stone breakwater about 1 a.m. and was pounded to pieces. The crew jumped onto the breakwater and crawled to safety as the waves crashed over them.

1908: The wooden steamer CHAUNCY HURLBUT began leaking and was beached at Whitefish Point, Lake Superior, along a rough and rocky shore. It became a total loss and the hull was removed in August 1910 and sunk in deep water.

2009: ALGOPORT ran into heavy weather from tropical storm DeJuan while under tow of the PACIFIC HICKORY, broke up and sank in the Philippine Sea about a week's tow from the destination of Jiangyin, China.

Data from: Skip Gillham, Joe Barr, Jody L. Aho, Max S. Hanley, Ahoy & Farewell II and the Great Lakes Ships We Remember series.


American Spirit refloated

9/5 - St. Ignace, Mich. – Friday update - After lightering 5,700 tons of taconite into fleetmate Sam Laud, the American Spirit was freed Friday morning. The G-tug Missouri was also on the scene. American Spirit proceeded to Moran Bay for inspection.

American Spirit was cleared to sail Friday afternoon, there were not reports of damage.

Original report: The 1,004-foot-long freighter American Spirit, which ran aground near Mackinac Island Thursday, was still stuck late Thursday night.

The Sam Laud was en route to the Spirit’s position and was expected to take on some of the cargo in an attempt to lighten the thousand footer and help refloat the vessel.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, the vessel was pushed out of the channel in the Round Island Passage around 6:30 p.m. by strong winds that passed through the area. Social media photos show she has a list to starboard. The storm also knocked out electrical power to much of the Eastern Upper Peninsula.

There were no injuries or pollution reported. The American Spirit, operated by the American Steamship Co. is carrying a load of taconite from Two Harbors, Minn., to Gary, Ind., according to the Coast Guard.

The shipping channel was closed to freighter traffic, but was open for ferry traffic.

Coast Guard marine inspectors are working with the vessel owners and crew to come up with a plan to free the ship.

"Sector Sault Ste. Marie will continue to work through the night with the crew of the American Spirit to develop a safe salvage plan," said Lt. j.g. Derek Puzzuoli, public affairs officer at Sector Sault Ste. Marie. "Marine inspectors will continue to carefully monitor the vessel's condition until it has been refloated."

9 & 10 News, Up North Live


Port Reports -  September 5

Lorain, Ohio – Phil Leon
Robert S. Pierson cleared the Lorain harbor at 7:50 a.m. Thursday.


St. Lawrence Seaway cargo shipments surpass 2013 levels by 3 percent

9/5 - Total cargo shipments on the St. Lawrence Seaway have now surpassed 2013 levels despite one of the most difficult starts to the shipping season in years due to ice coverage.

According to Seaway figures, total cargo tonnage from March 25 to August 31 reached 20 million metric tons, up 3 percent over the same period last year.

The strong recovery has been fuelled by grain exports, increases in road salt inventories for Great Lakes municipalities and an influx of specialty steel and other metals for the automotive and construction industries. Construction materials such as stone and cement have also been in strong demand.

Total grain shipments (including U.S. and Canadian) have reached 5.6 million metric tons, up 73 percent over last year. U.S. grain so far this season has totaled 630,000 metric tons, up 13 percent.

General cargo tonnage — including specialty steel imports as well as aluminum and oversized project cargo like machinery or wind turbines — has topped 1.5 million metric tons, up 66 percent.

Specialty steel is shipped through the St. Lawrence Seaway to the ports of Cleveland, Detroit, Burns Harbor, Toledo and Milwaukee, and then further processed by U.S. manufacturers for use in the automotive industries.

Year-to-date dry bulk cargo totaled 4.9 million metric tons, with strong increases in construction materials such as stone and cement, as well as road salt.

Chamber of Marine Commerce


Stationary Lake Ontario ships explained

9/5 - St. Catharines, Ont. – Each summer, the vessels line up on Lake Ontario from Port Dalhousie to the Welland Canal. While most are passing through Niagara, a handful just stay put. For days — sometimes a week or more — they remain at anchor.

On Wednesday, several were seen stationary about two kilometres off Municipal Beach.

Several Standard readers noticed the same thing in recent weeks and contacted the newsroom wondering what gives. The answer is nothing mysterious, but not exactly straightforward.

Alvina Ghirardi of the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp. said generally, the vessels are research ships or commercial vessels in a holding pattern.

“The ships wait in this area, outside Port Weller … for a variety of reasons,” said Ghirardi, a Seaway manager of maintenance planning and logistics.

Reasons could include awaiting orders or instructions from their agents/owners about their next cargo shipment and destination. Others might be queuing for an available dock at ports in Toronto or Oshawa, or they’re staying where they are due to fueling needs or weather conditions.

Some stationary boats are simply on standstill until a pilot arrives. “Those ships would be waiting for that pilot to board and take them into the canal,” she said. In this case, Wednesday’s sightings were commercial vessels and not doing research, Ghirardi said.

The ocean-going ships seen were the Miedwie, Appollon and Wigeon, which have been anchored since Aug. 4, 23 and 28 respectively. “The information we have is they are awaiting orders or a dock.”

Stationary ships are a “fairly common” sight, Ghirardi said. “I live in the area and you’re always seeing at least a couple of vessels out there. Sometimes it’s a day, a week or a bit longer as they are waiting for their agents, principals or owners on what their next shipment is, or what the destination or (loading or unloading) dock will be.”

Research vessels include some involved with environmental sampling. Among them is the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency research vessel the Lake Guardian.

According to an e-mail from Eda Lam of the EPA, the monitoring programs are sometimes done in Ontario waters off Niagara by co-operative agreement with Canadian authorities.

Its tasks include sampling the water and checking the aquatic life, sediments and air to assess the health of the Great Lakes ecosystem.

St. Catharines Standard


BoatNerd Welland Gathering Sept. 12-14

The annual Welland Canal BoatNerd Gathering is scheduled for Sept. 12-14. Once again, BoatNerds will gather at the Welland Canal for socializing, sharing pictures, slides and videos, plus watching the passing traffic. Friday and Saturday evenings the group will gather at the Canadian Corps building in Thorold to share pictures, slides and videos. There is no admission charge. There will also be a few vendor tables available.

Saturday, the St. Catharines Museum & Welland Canals Centre will offer a private BoatNerd screening of the Movie “A Stern View.” Movie will start at 10 a.m. Coffee and snacks included. A raffle will be drawn at approx. 11:30 a.m. and you must be in attendance to win.

Click here for more details


Lookback #292 – Torpedo missed Meadcliffe Hall in St. Lawrence on Sept. 5, 1942

9/5 - The Meadcliffe Hall was a sister-ship to the Teakbay and George L. Eaton. The vessel was built at South Bank-on-Tees, England and sailed for Canada on March 30, 1929, for service in the Hall Corporation fleet.

The 258 foot, 6 inch long bulk carrier traded through the old canal system bringing grain to the St. Lawrence and returning inland with pulpwood for Cornwall, Ontario, Waddington, N.Y. or Erie, Pa.

It was 72 years ago today that the ship was upbound on the St. Lawrence, near the Fox River, when it was fired at by a German submarine lurking beneath the water. The Nazi U-boat Captain misread the speed of the loaded canaller and shot well ahead of its target. The projectile continued to shore where it exploded breaking virtually all the windows in St. Yvon, Que.

Meadcliffe Hall survived the war and was sold to the Colonial Steamship Co. of Capt. Scott Misener in 1955. Renamed Picton, the ship joined their grain, coal, pulp and, eventually, ore trade between the Great Lakes and docks along the St. Lawrence.

Picton was sold for West Coast service as a log barge but was damaged by Hurricane Gracie off Bahamas while under tow during the delivery voyage on Sept. 28, 1959. This was a major Atlantic storm that lasted 10 days and did major damage to the South Carolina coastline. The name Gracie has not been used since for an Atlantic hurricane.

Picton continued to have trouble and later ran aground at Colon, Panama. Abandoned to the underwriters, the vessel was salvaged and renamed El Llanero for Venezuelan trading.

There is a report that this ship was resold and renamed Olga for Dutch flag service in 1961 and then broken up for scrap at Flushing, Netherlands, in the last quarter of 1962. I do wonder if this was a case of mistaken identity but, otherwise, the ship's fate is unknown.

Skip Gillham


Today in Great Lakes History -  September 5

September 5, 1899, the DOUGLASS HOUGHTON grounded at Sailors Encampment and sank when rammed by her barge, JOHN FRITZ. The HOUGHTON completely blocked St. Marys River traffic for five days. More than 300 boats were delayed at an estimated loss of $600,000.

On 05 September 1898, the MONTGOMERY (wooden schooner-barge, 204 foot, 709 tons, built in 1856, at Newport [Marine City], Michigan as a passenger/package freight steamer) sank in 21 feet of water on Lake St. Clair after colliding with the whaleback barge 137 (steel barge, 345 foot, 2,480 gross tons, built in 1896, at W. Superior, Wisconsin) which was being towed by the ALEXANDER McDOUGALL (steel propeller semi-whaleback freighter, 413 foot, 3,686 gross tons, built in 1898, at West Superior, Wisconsin). The MONTGOMERY was raised and repaired. She lasted another two years before breaking up in a storm in 1901.

CHI-CHEEMAUN completed her sea trials on September 5, 1974, and then cleared the Collingwood shipyard on September 26th.

BENJAMIN F. FAIRLESS cleared Lorain on her maiden voyage September 5, 1942 for the Pittsburgh Steamship Co.

J. P. MORGAN, JR. returned to service September 5, 1948, after repairs suffered in an accident in June.

NEW QUEDOC arrived at McLouth Steel, Trenton, Michigan, on her maiden voyage September 5, 1960, with a load of Labrador iron ore. Renamed b.) QUEDOC in 1963. QUEDOC was scrapped at Curacao Island, Lesser Antilles in 1985.

The WYANDOTTE of 1916, a.) CONNEAUT, was towed down the Welland Canal on September 5- 6, 1973, on her way to the cutter’s torch at Santander, Spain.

On 5 September 1905, ABERCORN (wooden propeller 'rabbit', 126 foot, 261 gross tons, built in 1873, at Marine City, Michigan) burned at the dock at Goderich, Ontario, while unloading coal. She reportedly caught fire from the explosion of a signal lamp.

The schooner CALEDONIA, wrecked the previous autumn near the Fishing Islands on Lake Huron, was raised and arrived in Port Huron, Michigan, on September 5, 1882, under tow to be rebuilt.

1896: The Canadian passenger ship BALTIC, built in 1867 as FRANCES SMITH, burned at the dock in Collingwood. The hull drifted to shallow water and remained there for several years.

1964: A. & J. MID-AMERICA, a Seaway caller in 1963, was driven ashore at Lantau Island near Hong Kong by typhoon Ruby. The vessel was refloated October 5 but came ashore again days later during typhoon Dot on October 13. Refloated October 21, the vessel returned to service and was scrapped as e) UNION TIGER at Inchon, South Korea, after arriving in April 1968.

1964: The former HEMSEFJELL, a pre-Seaway trader, was also blown aground at Hong Kong as d) PROSPERITY during typhoon Ruby but released on October 5. It was scrapped in Thailand during 1972.

1964: The three-year old bulk carrier LEECLIFFE HALL sank in the St. Lawrence, 65 miles below Quebec City, following a collision with the APOLLONIA. Efforts to beach the ship failed and three lives were lost. The hull was dynamited as a hazard to navigation in 1966. The latter, a Greek freighter, had been a Seaway trader in 1964 and was repaired at Levis, QC. The ship was scrapped at Shanghai, China, as c) MAYFAIR after arriving on May 3, 1985.

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


American Spirit aground in Round Island passage

9/4 - The 1,000-foot American Spirit grounded Thursday afternoon in the Round Island Passage off Mackinaw Island. There is no word yet on damage. Photos show a list to starboard. The cause may be associated with a seiche or other bad weather that moved through the Straits area Thursday and knocked out power for much of the Eastern Upper Peninsula. The vessel is bound from Two Harbors to Indiana Harbor with taconite.


Upper Great Lakes continue to rise

9/4 - Duluth, Minn. – The Upper Great Lakes continued their meteoric 2014 rise in August, with Lake Superior’s monthly water level the highest in 18 years and lakes Michigan and Huron reaching the highest August level since 1998.

Lake Superior rose 0.4 inches in August, the usual increase for the month, and sits at 6 inches above average for Sept. 1 and 8 inches above the level at this time last year, according to the International Lake Superior Board of Control.

Lakes Huron and Michigan saw an even faster rise – up 2 inches in August, a month the lakes usually go down 2 inches. The two lakes now sit just 1 inch below their long-term Sept. 1 average, and a full 17 inches above the Sept. 1 level one year ago.

Water supply for lakes Superior, Michigan and Huron were above normal, with continued increased rain, reduced evaporation and more stream inflow.

The upper lakes have been on an upward trajectory for more than a year, easing concerns over below-normal water levels that had lingered for about a decade.

The lakes’ level is considered important for shipping as well as recreational boating, which have been plagued in recent years by unusually low water levels. Unusually high levels can be a problem as well, especially for increased erosion.

Bemidji Pioneer


Update on Lake Superior outflow and expected conditions

9/4 - Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. – The International Lake Superior Board of Control, under authority granted to it by the International Joint Commission (IJC), has set the Lake Superior outflow to 3,090 cubic metres per second (m3 thousand cubic feet per second (tcfs)) for the month of September, effective September 3.

The September outflow will be released by discharging approximately 2,189 m3 hydropower plants and passing most of the remaining flow through the control structure at the head of the St. Marys Rapids.

The gate setting of the control structure will be reduced to the equivalent of approximately six gates open, on September 3 (achieved by setting 14 gates to a partially open setting of 80 centimetres (cm) (31 inches (in)) each).

As a result, the flow and water levels in the St Marys Rapids are expected to decrease from those experienced last month, but will still remain relatively high throughout September.

There will be no change to the setting of Gate #1 which supplies water to the channel north of the Fishery Remedial Dike, but with the equivalent of six gates fully open in the main rapids, water may overtop the dike along the north side of the rapids.

Soo Today


Lookback #291 – Imperial Hamilton caught fire at Sarnia on Sept. 4, 1961

9/4 - The Imperial Oil tanker Imperial Hamilton caught fire while loading ethyl gasoline at Sarnia on Sept. 4, 1961. While the blaze of Sept. 4, 1961, did significant damage to the ship, it was able to complete the season operating on short runs to Sault Ste. Marie and Georgian Bay ports.

The vessel was retired at the end of the year and eventually converted to a barge. It was towed to Windsor but saw little, if any service, before being sold for use as a breakwall on Lake Michigan. Before departing, however, the pilothouse was removed and taken to Corunna, Ontario, and opened as a marine museum. Sadly, this project was not a success and, after being vandalized, it was decided to demolish the structure.

The hull saw only brief service as a breakwall. It was eventually refloated and cut up for scrap at Kewaunee, Wisconsin, in 1970.

This ship had been built at Collingwood as Hull 47 and was launched as Sarnolite on Sept. 27, 1916. It was used as a fleet training ship in the 1920s and 1930s combining east coast and Great Lakes service. Due to its work carrying bunker and crude oil, it was referred to as a “dirty ship” as compared with company carriers that hauled refined, and cleaner, products.

Imperial Oil renamed this tanker Imperial Sarnia in 1947 and then Imperial Hamilton in 1948 when the new Imperial Sarnia was finished. It operated around the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence and, in later years, hauled more refined products cleaning up its image. A new pilothouse was built at Port Dalhousie and installed over the winter of 1951-1952. This is the structure that saw limited service as a museum.

Skip Gillham


Today in Great Lakes History -  September 4

On September 4,1889, the new steamer CHEROKEE (wooden propeller freighter, 209 foot, 1,002 gross tons) arrived in Port Huron, Michigan, from M. P. Lester's yard in Marine City, Michigan, for the Phoenix Iron Works in Port Huron to installed the engine and boiler. Her outfitting was completed by Carleton and Cole of Port Huron.

On September 4, 1876, CITY OF PORT HURON, a wooden steam barge, sank a few miles off shore near Lexington, Michigan, at about noon. She was heavily loaded with iron ore and sprang a leak at about 11 o'clock. Most of the crew managed to get on top of the cabin while two were in the forward rigging as she went down in 6 fathoms of water. The heavy seas washed over those on the cabin. Captain George Davis and two others floated ashore on wreckage while a fish boat picked up the five others. No lives were lost.

1921: The former laker RANDOLPH S. WARNER was cut in two to leave the Great Lakes during World War One. It was rebuilt with the pilothouse amidships and sank on this date about 40 miles off the Bosporus after reportedly striking an unrecovered mine.

1926: HARSEN, loaded with a cargo of sand, capsized and sank in a storm 3 miles northeast of the Pelee Passage Light in Lake Erie. The wooden-hulled vessel was a total loss.

1961: IMPERIAL HAMILTON caught fire while loading ethyl gasoline at Sarnia and sustained considerable damage. Six on board were injured.

1963: The Egyptian freighter SALAH ELDIN, a former Victory ship, caught fire in the crew quarters in Hamilton but the blaze was extinguished before it reached the cargo hold. The vessel almost capsized due to the weight of water but it remained upright. Two crew were injured and the Chief Steward died. The ship was towed out by GRAEME STEWART and JAMES BATTLE on November 22, 1963, for Quebec City and sold as is, where it became d) MERCANTILE VICTORY after a refit at Houston, Texas. Another fire on April 23, 1964, this time in the engine room on the Red Sea shortly after re-entering service in March 1964, led to an eventual resale to Spanish shipbreakers. The vessel arrived at Castellon for dismantling on May 10, 1965.

1967: The tugs MICHAEL McALLISTER and AMERICA towed the retired passenger ship NORTH AMERICAN through the Welland Canal enroute to a new career as a training ship for the S.I.U. at Piney Point, MD.

1972: NORSE CORAL was new when it entered the Seaway in 1962 and returned as b) TOTEM STAR in 1963. The ship opened the Seaway season on April 8, 1964, and returned to our shores as c) SILVERBEACH in 1965. It sustained heavy damage off Victoria, BC while inbound from Hong Kong to Vancouver on this date due to a collision with the C.E. DANT. The two ships were locked together. They were towed to Victoria the next day and then separated September 6. The damage was repaired and the former lakes trader survived until scrapping at Xingang, China, in 1986.

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


Large propeller stolen from Owen Sound Marine & Rail Museum

9/3 - Owen Sound, Ont. – City police say a “priceless” brass propeller has been stolen from the Owen Sound Marine & Rail Museum.

The historic artifact, which is about one-metre in diameter and weighs about 240 to 300 pounds, went missing sometime between Aug. 27-30, police said in a news release.

“Scrape marks on the pavement suggest the propeller was dragged towards the roadway,” Owen Sound Police Service acting Sgt. Bill Ringel said in the release.

The propeller had been on display next to the north outer wall of the museum, which is in the city-owned former Canadian National train station near the west wall of the Owen Sound Harbour.

The propeller is stamped with the name William Kennedy & Sons.

“The historic value of the propeller is priceless, however the scrap value for the propeller is estimated between $1,000 and $1,500,” Ringel said.

Anyone with information about the theft is asked to call Owen Sound police at 519-376-1234 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.

Owen Sound Sun Times


Port Reports -  September 3

St. Marys River
A slow day Thursday saw the Herbert C. Jackson, Whitefish Bay and American Integrity upbound and the Paul R. Tregurtha and Great Lakes Trader downbound. The tug Evans McKeil and her barge, Huron Spirit departed Essar with a load of steel coils for Detroit in the early evening. The saltie Torrent left the export dock upbound to anchor and await orders, also in the early evening.

Alpena, Mich. – Ben & Chanda McClain
There was some vessel activity in port over the weekend. Calumet brought a load of coal to Lafarge on Saturday night. The tug Samuel de Champlain and barge Innovation loaded cement at Lafarge late Sunday night. On Monday the Alpena was in port followed by and the tug G.L Ostrander with barge Integrity. Cuyahoga arrived at the Alpena Oil Dock around 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday. The lines were secured and unloading of road salt began. Cuyahoga finished before 7 p.m. and backed out of the river.

Grand Haven, Mich. – Dick Fox
The tug Petite Forte and barge St. Marys Cement made a rare visit to the St. Marys Cement Terminal in Ferrysburg late Tuesday afternoon. It was still unloading at 7:30 p.m.

Buffalo, N.Y. – Brian W.
The tug Washington towed the English River up to Lafarge around 5 p.m. Tuesday afternoon.


Buffalo waterfront history tours do a booming business

9/3 - Buffalo, N.Y. – Aboard the Miss Buffalo II on a Sunday afternoon, old Erie Canal folk songs blared out of the stereo. Captain Tom Woodrow greeted the passengers, most older than 60, who filtered onto the boat. Some were looking for a seat with a good view, while others made a beeline for the bar. But out-of-towners and locals alike were there to do one thing: learn about those strange, cylindrical structures that were abandoned so long ago.

“Silo City has been the No. 1 attraction for people taking tours this summer,” said Brad Hahn, executive director of Explore Buffalo. “It’s definitely the most popular tour we have.”

Renewed interest in the waterfront has brought plenty of attention to Canalside. It also has created a cottage industry for three organizations taking advantage of the public’s desire to know and see more.

• Hahn’s Explore Buffalo, which officially launched this winter and provides tours all over the area, started its waterfront history tours in May.

• The Industrial Heritage Committee, a nonprofit organization that documents Buffalo’s industrial and commercial history, has been educating people about the grain elevators on “The Historic Buffalo River Tour” for 29 summers. Its pamphlet states, “The Original, Accept No Substitute …”

• The Queen City Ferry Company did four historic tours a day out of Canalside’s Commercial Slip docks on the River Queen, a boat they had built specifically for these tours.

When Rick Hilliman started his Queen City history tours in summer 2012, he said, there were days when only two people would join them. This summer, the tours often reached their capacity of 40 people.

“It’s something people want. We get a lot of people through word-of-mouth and advertising. People recommend it to others all the time,” Hilliman said.

About half of the business is from people visiting Canalside who notice the signs, Hilliman said. Six years ago, that would not have been likely.

“You could shoot a cannon and hit no one,” he said.

Hilliman co-owns the Queen City Ferry Company with his son Rich and is the captain of the new River Queen. He and his crew, which includes Rich, do four historic tours a day out of Canalside’s Commercial Slip docks on the River Queen. They call the tours “Buffalo River History Tours,” and there are two varieties.

The 90-minute tour takes off three times a day and keeps patrons on the boat. The boat traverses most of the river, making it out to Concrete Central. The second tour is two hours and goes once a day. During this tour, the boat docks at Silo City, the site of the American and Perot elevators, and has customers walk around the grounds, now owned by Rick Smith, for most of the two hours.

The Industrial Heritage Committee was forced to add more tours to its summer season to keep up with demand: seven compared with five in previous years. Those tours, with a 200-person capacity, generally sold out.

“People keep coming. We haven’t saturated the market yet,” said Lorraine Pierro of the Industrial Heritage Committee.

Hahn has two grain elevator-themed tours also at Silo City. “Silo City Vertical” takes adventurous spirits up to the heights of the structures, and the other keeps people on the ground. A third waterfront tour called “Down by the River” leads patrons from the Swannie House to Silo City and includes more general Erie Canal history than the other two.

The “Vertical” tour allows for a maximum of 20 people and has sold out every occasion to date. Hahn said that the other two tours consistently have 10 to 20 people. Each tour happens a few times a month.

All three groups have made an effort to fill their tours with historical facts that would be new even to some people who have lived in Western New York their whole lives. Of the many locals on each tour, very few knew the answers to the trivia questions tossed at them and were surprised at fun facts.

“Did you know Buffalo once had the largest bar per capita than any other city?” Hilliman asked his guests while passing under the Ohio Street bridge.

About four years ago, Hilliman began to operate the Queen City Ferry and noticed that people would ask him historical questions, so he started to research the answers to expand his base of knowledge.

“The only thing I remember of the Erie Canal from school is the song,” he laughed, referring to “Low Bridge,” the song about the Erie Canal.

Hilliman said he wants people to take the tours and leave with a sense of pride in their community and with a better understanding of the way the Erie Canal shaped Buffalo.

“People come on the tours with preconception that the grain elevators are ugly and should be torn down if they just see them from the Thruway. After this tour, they feel differently,” Hilliman said.

Buffalo News


Lakeshore area could have national marine sanctuary

9/3 - Manitowoc, Wis. – The area’s lakeshore could be home to Wisconsin's largest museum. The proposed underwater museum — a 875-square-mile area of Lake Michigan from Two Rivers to Port Washington — would be home to more than 33 known exhibits and many more to be discovered. These underwater exhibits are shipwrecks, which once ruled the surface.

The proposed marine sanctuary would be part of the current 13 preserves and would be one of only two in the Great Lakes, established by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association.

"We are so fortunate in the Great Lakes to have incredible level of protection with our shipwrecks," said Ellen Brody, NOAA spokeswoman.

The lakeshore communities are among the first in a new selection process for marine sanctuary status. The process is by self-nomination and nominees submit why their community would be ideal for preservation. At this time, no communities have submitted nominations, Brody said, but she anticipates many will be sent in the fall.

Manitowoc County officials believe if the nomination is accepted, the sanctuary will generate tourism and educational benefits to the area.

"If successful, this will lead to increased research on these wrecks, as well as creating tourism and educational opportunities for sport divers, students and the general public," said Jason Ring, president of the Manitowoc Area Visitor & Convention Bureau..

Brody said there's a set criteria for the nomination process communities must meet before being considered for a sanctuary designation. Criteria includes having national, natural resource and cultural significance as well as having important economic uses.

"A marine sanctuary in Manitowoc would allow our citizens and visitors to experience the power and beauty of Lake Michigan and protect its rich maritime history through research, education and resource protection while enhancing our pride in Manitowoc's maritime heritage," said Mayor Justin Nickels.

After that, other criteria include education and research opportunities, facing potential threats, existing management and regulations that could help conservation efforts and community-based support, according to NOAA's website.

After nominees submit, some are selected and inventoried for further perusal. In the past, the process took years but Brody said self-nomination may speed up the task because of limited opposition.

"This detailed application should be submitted by early autumn, however, it will require months of review in Washington before a decision is made on the status of this application," Ring said.

The self-nomination process ensures communities are welcome to the idea of a federally regulated preserve, which has received nearly unanimous favor among officials and residents in the lakeshore communities.

"The communities are contributing content, the state of Wisconsin, Wisconsin Historical Society and (Wisconsin) DNR are contributing content because the shipwrecks are state owned and state managed," Brody said.

The lakeshore sanctuary wasn't the location analyzed by the Wisconsin Historical Society. Death's Door in Door County has many of the same cultural resources, but Brody said the society deemed the lakeshore area more of a priority.

"I'm thrilled that this is fostering a collaborative effort between all these cities and all these organizations," said Rolf Johnson, CEO of the Wisconsin Maritime Museum. "Even if the sanctuary should not happen, it's going to lead to a really great alliance between these port cities."

Much like the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary (the lone Great Lakes sanctuary) in Alpena, Mich., created in 2000, the proposed marine sanctuary would be based on cultural resources —not solely natural resources such as reefs or flora and fauna — which are shipwrecks. The other cultural-resource based preserve is the Monitor National Marine Sanctuary in North Carolina, which protects the wreck of the USS Monitor, an ironclad ship from the Civil War.

Green Bay Press Gazette


Lookback #290 – Donald Stewart torpedoed and sunk on Sept. 3, 1942

9/3 - World War Two was on Canada's doorstep 72 years ago today. The infamous U-517 was prowling the East Coast waters and intercepted convoy LN-7 in the Strait of Belle Isle. A torpedo slammed into the hull of the Donald Stewart, just forward of the engine room, and ignited barrels of gasoline that were being carried on deck.

The vessel was bound for Gander, Newfoundland, and was carrying cement in the hold and drums of fuel on deck. The drums were covered by lumber to support nine large dump trucks and an airport fire engine. In addition to the hole in the hull, barrels of fuel ignited the lumber and the ill-fated freighter sank in seven minutes. Three crew members perished. All were part of the engine room crew.

The loss of the valuable cargo, needed for runway extensions at the Gander airport, delayed the project by six months.

The Donald Stewart was launched at South Bank-on-Tees, England, on April 14, 1923. The ship first worked for the Bruce Trading Co. and then joined the International Waterways Navigation Co. in 1927 before moving to Canada Steamship Lines, due to a litigation judgment, in 1929. The 261-foot-long freighter was designed for the canal trades of that era and operated in and out of the Great Lakes until being needed for wartime service.

The captain of the Donald Stewart had also been the Master of C.S.L.'s Lennox when the latter ship had also been torpedoed and sunk on Feb. 23, 1942. He survived both attacks.

Skip Gillham


Updates -  September 3

Saltie Gallery updated with pictures of the Charlotte C, Lake Ontario, and Pacific Dawn.


Today in Great Lakes History -  September 3

September 3, 1919, the WILLIAM A. McGONAGLE loaded a record 15,160 tons of soft coal at Toledo, Ohio for delivery to Gary, Indiana. The record lasted less than 24 hours as the D. G. KERR, Captain Harry Harbottle, loaded 15,532 tons of coal at the same Toledo dock for delivery to Gary.

September 3, 1942, the 250-foot STEEL VENDOR, Captain G. L. Kane, sank at 3:45 a.m. on Lake Superior with a cargo of 3,000 tons of iron ore. The lone casualty was Oiler John N. Sicken. Twenty-two survivors were rescued by the CHARLES M. SCHWAB, Captain Alfred Drouillard, and 2 survivors were rescued by the WILLIAM G. CLYDE, Captain David M. LeRoy. Other boats standing by were the B. F. AFFLECK, ELBERT H. GARY, JOLIET, and EUGENE P. THOMAS.

September 3, 1957, the HARRIS N. SNYDER of the Boland & Cornelius fleet, Captain Elmer Murray and Chief Engineer Frank Mc Cabe, rescued 2 from the waters of Lake Michigan. Not only did the crew rescue Mr. and Mrs. Leslie Colby, but the crew used the unloading boom to recover their sailboat and place it on the deck of the SNYDER. The entire maneuver only required 55 minutes.

On September 3, 1899, the Great Lakes Towing Company's RED CLOUD (wooden propeller tug, 62 foot, 40 gross tons, built in 1883, at Buffalo, New York) was sailing on Lake Erie for Lorain, Ohio, when a storm forced her to head for port at Cedar Point, Ohio. However she was thrown on a reef and broke in two - a total loss. The crew made it to Sandusky, Ohio.

On September 3, the BELLE RIVER (now WALTER J. McCARTHY, JR.) set a then Great Lakes record for coal when it loaded 62,802 tons of coal at Superior Midwest Energy Terminal on its maiden voyage. This record has since been surpassed many times.

At Lorain, Ohio keel-laying ceremonies for the 437-foot bow section of the ROGER BLOUGH (Hull#900) took place on September 3, 1968, and was float-launched December 21, 1968, less ballast tanks because the existing dry dock wasn't wide enough to accommodate her 105-foot width.

SOODOC (Hull#210) of 1976, on her maiden voyage from Collingwood, Ontario, loaded salt at Goderich, Ontario, on September 3, 1976. Renamed b.) AMELIA DESGAGNES in 1990.

U.S. Steel's SEWELL AVERY was laid up for the last time September 3, 1981, at Superior, Wisconsin. She was towed to Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, in 1987, where the superstructure was removed and the hull was sunk for use as a dock.

THOMAS W. LAMONT was laid up for the last time at Duluth’s Hallett dock #6A on September 3, 1981. She was scrapped at Aliaga, Turkey, in 1987.

H. H. PORTER sailed on her maiden voyage for the Brier Hill Steamship Co. (Pickands Mather, mgr.) on September 3, 1920, light from Lorain, Ohio, to load iron ore at Two Harbors, Minnesota. Renamed b.) WALTER E. WATSON in 1957 and c.) NATIONAL TRADER in 1973. She was scrapped at Thunder Bay, Ontario, in 1978.

On September 3, 1985, PHILIP R. CLARKE plowed into the Drawbridge Cove Marina in Lorain's Black River, damaging 5-10 small craft and sinking one at the steel dock. CLARKE managed to stop before hitting the Route 6 drawbridge.

On September 3,1887, BULGARIA (wooden propeller, 280 foot, 1,888 gross tons) was launched at West Bay City, Michigan, by J. Davidson, as their hull number 16.

September 3, 1910 - The MARQUETTE & BESSEMER NO 2 (Hull#450) was launched in Cleveland, Ohio by the American Ship Building Co. for the Marquette & Bessemer Dock & Navigation Co. She was the replacement for MARQUETTE & BESSEMER NO 2 of 1905, (Hull#428), which foundered on Lake Erie, December 7, 1909.

On September 3, 1869, the 167-foot wooden propeller BOSCOBEL burned about two miles below St. Clair, Michigan. Three lives were lost. The ship was only about two years old and was in service of the New York Central Railroad, though owned by the Peshtigo Lumbering Co. of Chicago. The burned hulk was raised in 1876 and rebuilt as a schooner-barge at Algonac, Michigan. She lasted until 1909, when she sank on Lake Huron.

1905: The GEORGE STEPHENSON was blown aground at Pointe Aux Pins, Lake Superior and struck by her consort barge JOHN A. ROEBLING. Both were released and returned to service.

1942: DONALD STEWART, a canal trader for Canada Steamship Lines, was torpedoed by U-517 and sunk while in a convoy on the Gulf of St. Lawrence while carrying barrels of aviation fuel and bulk cement for the air base at Goose Bay, Labrador. Three members of the engine room crew were lost.

1944: LIVINGSTON, a former Great Lakes canal ship, was torpedoed and sunk by U-541 in the Atlantic about 80 miles east of Cape Breton Island. Fourteen lives were lost but another 14 were spared and rescued.

1965: The tanker EASTERN SHELL sank the small wooden goelette MONT BLANC in a collision blamed on fog about 20 miles from Trois Rivieres. All crewmembers of the pulpwood carrier were rescued.

1970: KENNETH made a single trip to the Great Lakes in 1959. It caught fire in the engine room on this date off the coast of Israel while enroute from Alexandria, Egypt, to Tripoli, Libya, as h) CHRISTINA MARIA. The ship was abandoned by the crew, towed into Haifa, Israel, September 6 and sold to Israeli shipbreakers later in the year.

1998: ORKANGER, a chemical tanker that first came through the Seaway in 1977, began leaking while inbound at Rio Grande, Brazil, as e) BAHAMAS with 12,000 tons of sulphuric acid and sank in the harbor. The hull was eventually refloated but never repaired although it had subsequent renames and was reported as broken up in 2003 as h) ORIENT FLOWER.

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


Port Reports -  September 2

Northport, Mich. – Chris Holton
The tug Erika Kobasic with two barges in tow with Moran Iron works structures onboard were waiting out weather in Northport Bay off the Municipal Harbor on Monday. They are downbound for Pigeon Lake.


Ukranian crew ordered to not exit vessel in Toledo

9/2 - Toledo, Ohio – If you look north down the Maumee River toward the bay beyond, you may notice something unusual – a large vessel just sitting on one side of the river. It’s been there for nearly a month and shows no signs of going anywhere anytime soon.

“It has a Ukrainian crew, the registration is Liberian,” said Toledo Mayor D. Michael Collins, “and my understanding is there’s a huge amount of money owed.”

Documents say the U.S. Marshal’s Service is holding the vessel Fritz pending payment of about $900,000 in fees.

Complicating matters, it’s not clear if the crew has been paid in a timely fashion. If not, that could increase the chances of a desertion — leaving no one to move the ship even if the fees are paid.

“The federal government is over there, monitoring the ship,” Collins said, “to make sure…none of the crew leaves the ship, and all of a sudden, disappears.” The U.S. Coast Guard has ordered the German owners to make sure no one deserts, but federal authorities are on the scene making sure none of the crew members leave the ship.

The crew, which may include Romanians as well, may also no longer be covered by a maritime union agreement. It’s not known how many supplies the crew has on board, or what will be done if those supplies run low.

The Fritz was apparently supposed to offload steel coils weeks ago, and then depart. But that hasn’t happened, so now, after more than three weeks in the Maumee River, the ship, and its crew, continue to sit and wait to learn their fate.

Fox 8 Cleveland


Marine New reports saltwater vessel scrappings

9/2 - Marine News, the monthly journal of the World Ship Society, reports the following ships with Great Lakes connections going for scrap in the September 2014 issue.

The Chinese freighter An Ze Jiang was built at Guangzhou, China, in 1987 and came through the Seaway later that year. The vessel was sold to Chinese shipbreakers and arrived at Zhoushan, Zhejiang, China, on May 5, 2014, for scrapping by Zhoushan Changhong International.

CSL Shannon was owned by CSL Europe, part of Canada Steamship Lines of Montreal. The vessel had been built at Ulstenvik, Norway, in 1986 and came through the Seaway that year as a) Trones. It was sold and renamed b) CSL Shannon in 2011 but the small self-unloader spent most of its time operating around Europe and did not visit the Great Lakes. The ship was sold for scrap in 2014 and arrived at Aliaga, Turkey, on May 8 to be broken up by Leyal Gemi Sokum Ltd.

Danny Rose was a Seaway traveler as a) Lijnbaansgracht first coming inland in 1999. The Dutch flag ship had been built at Shimizu, Japan, in 1987. It was carrying general cargo, including a deck load of fermenting tanks, when it came to the Great Lakes for Port Stanley and then Duluth. It returned for another visit in 2001. The vessel was sailing as c) Danny Rose when it was sold to shipbreakers in India and it arrived at Alang on July 27, 2014, for dismantling by JRD Industries with work beginning July 31, 2014.

Golam-E-Mostafa visited the Great Lakes in 1986 as the Cuban freighter Bahia de Cardenas. The vessel had just been completed in Japan, when it came inland. Following a sale to Bangladesh shipbreakers, the vessel arrived at Chittagong as e) Golam-E-Mostafa on May 1, 2014, and was broken up beginning on June 24.

The tanker Jens Jacobsen had come to the Great Lakes in 1986 as a) Shoun Olympia. It was sold to Indian shipbreakers as g) Jens Jacobsen in 2014 and arrived at Alang on May 18. Work on scrapping the hull got underway on May 30 with the work being done by Rajendra Shipbreakers Pvt. Ltd.

The Liberian freighter Kate first came to the Great Lakes in 1986 as a) Trudy and returned as b) Pan Voyager, while registered in South Korea in 1998. The ship was registered in Liberia as c) Kate in 2011 and carried this name to the scrapyard. It arrived at Chittagong, Bangladesh, on April 29, 2014, and was broken up beginning on May 19.

While the bulk carrier Sifnos Mare carried a total of four names, only the final one did not make it to the Great Lakes. This ship was built at Sasebo, Japan, in 1985 and came through the Seaway that year as a) Fiona Mary on a long-term charter to Fednav. It was renamed b) Federal Aalesund in 1993, and delivered a cargo of bauxite from Australia through the Seaway to Thorold on its first trip inland on Sept. 1. The ship was a regular caller around the Great Lakes and returned frequently after becoming c) Spar Jade in 1997. It made in the range of 30 trips through the Seaway as such with its last call during November 2010 with a voyage to Duluth.

The ship was then sold in 2011 and renamed d) Sifnos Mare. The vessel arrived at Alang, India, for dismantling on May 28, 2014. Lakes related:

The tug Ocean Wrestler was briefly owned by McKeil Marine and it came through the Seaway in 1999. It had been purchased, along with a pair of barges, in 1998, but the barges were resold to Caribbean interests while on the delivery voyage to Eastern Canada. Originally, the Belgian built fire-fighting tug was known as a) Wrestler, last operated as f) Kunduz. The 42-year-old vessel arrived at Aliaga, Turkey, on May 20, 2014, for dismantling by Ege Celik Gemi Sokum AS.

Compiled by Barry Andersen, Rene Beauchamp and Skip Gillham Lookback #289 – Chicago Tribune aground in Georgian Bay on Sept. 2, 1975 Many will remember the unique profile of the second Chicago Tribune. The ship was built at Hull, England, and completed in March 1930 as Thorold. It crossed the Atlantic in June with a load of china clay and joined the Ontario Transportation and Pulp Co.

The vessel had a significant trunk deck as it was primarily designed to transport newsprint. During 1931, its first full season on the lakes, the Thorold made 23 trips between its namesake community and Chicago. During the year the ship carried 68,562 tons of newsprint.

Corporate reorganization in 1933 resulted in the ship moving under the banner of the Quebec & Ontario Transportation Co. and a change in name. From here until going for scrap in 1988, the ship was known as Chicago Tribune.

The 258 foot, 6 inch long vessel was repowered with Fairbanks Morse diesel engines in 1958 and lengthened to 319 feet overall in 1962. As cargo demands changed, the trunk deck was lowered by 30 inches in 1973-1974 to permit easier loading of grain as the height of the deck could interfere with the loading spouts.

Chicago Tribune ran aground in Georgian Bay 39 years ago today while headed from Thunder Bay to Collingwood with a cargo of grain. The ship was lightered of about 30,000 bushels by the Charles W. Johnson and released three days later with the aid of the tug Rod McLean. The accident of Sept. 2, 1975, resulted in a trip to Port Weller Dry Docks for repairs.

Chicago Tribune joined the Desgagnes fleet in 1984. It operated for two years and made one final trip in 1986, Thunder Bay to Toronto, before tying up for good. The last load was a storage cargo of soybeans and that came aboard from trucks at Toronto in October 1987.

Following a sale to International Marine Salvage, the 58-year-old freighter was towed to Port Colborne on Dec. 14, 1988, and broken up for scrap in the outer harbor during 1989.

Skip Gillham


Today in Great Lakes History -  September 2

September 3, 1919, the WILLIAM A. McGONAGLE loaded a record 15,160 tons of soft coal at Toledo, Ohio for delivery to Gary, Indiana. The record lasted less than 24 hours as the D. G. KERR, Captain Harry Harbottle, loaded 15,532 tons of coal at the same Toledo dock for delivery to Gary.

September 3, 1942, the 250-foot STEEL VENDOR, Captain G. L. Kane, sank at 3:45 a.m. on Lake Superior with a cargo of 3,000 tons of iron ore. The lone casualty was Oiler John N. Sicken. Twenty-two survivors were rescued by the CHARLES M. SCHWAB, Captain Alfred Drouillard, and 2 survivors were rescued by the WILLIAM G. CLYDE, Captain David M. LeRoy. Other boats standing by were the B. F. AFFLECK, ELBERT H. GARY, JOLIET, and EUGENE P. THOMAS.

September 3, 1957, the HARRIS N. SNYDER of the Boland & Cornelius fleet, Captain Elmer Murray and Chief Engineer Frank Mc Cabe, rescued 2 from the waters of Lake Michigan. Not only did the crew rescue Mr. and Mrs. Leslie Colby, but the crew used the unloading boom to recover their sailboat and place it on the deck of the SNYDER. The entire maneuver only required 55 minutes.

On September 3, 1899, the Great Lakes Towing Company's RED CLOUD (wooden propeller tug, 62 foot, 40 gross tons, built in 1883, at Buffalo, New York) was sailing on Lake Erie for Lorain, Ohio, when a storm forced her to head for port at Cedar Point, Ohio. However she was thrown on a reef and broke in two - a total loss. The crew made it to Sandusky, Ohio.

On September 3, the BELLE RIVER (now WALTER J. McCARTHY, JR.) set a then Great Lakes record for coal when it loaded 62,802 tons of coal at Superior Midwest Energy Terminal on its maiden voyage. This record has since been surpassed many times.

At Lorain, Ohio keel-laying ceremonies for the 437-foot bow section of the ROGER BLOUGH (Hull#900) took place on September 3, 1968, and was float-launched December 21, 1968, less ballast tanks because the existing dry dock wasn't wide enough to accommodate her 105-foot width.

SOODOC (Hull#210) of 1976, on her maiden voyage from Collingwood, Ontario, loaded salt at Goderich, Ontario, on September 3, 1976. Renamed b.) AMELIA DESGAGNES in 1990.

U.S. Steel's SEWELL AVERY was laid up for the last time September 3, 1981, at Superior, Wisconsin. She was towed to Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, in 1987, where the superstructure was removed and the hull was sunk for use as a dock.

THOMAS W. LAMONT was laid up for the last time at Duluth’s Hallett dock #6A on September 3, 1981. She was scrapped at Aliaga, Turkey, in 1987.

H. H. PORTER sailed on her maiden voyage for the Brier Hill Steamship Co. (Pickands Mather, mgr.) on September 3, 1920, light from Lorain, Ohio, to load iron ore at Two Harbors, Minnesota. Renamed b.) WALTER E. WATSON in 1957 and c.) NATIONAL TRADER in 1973. She was scrapped at Thunder Bay, Ontario, in 1978.

On September 3, 1985, PHILIP R. CLARKE plowed into the Drawbridge Cove Marina in Lorain's Black River, damaging 5-10 small craft and sinking one at the steel dock. CLARKE managed to stop before hitting the Route 6 drawbridge.

On September 3,1887, BULGARIA (wooden propeller, 280 foot, 1,888 gross tons) was launched at West Bay City, Michigan, by J. Davidson, as their hull number 16.

September 3, 1910 - The MARQUETTE & BESSEMER NO 2 (Hull#450) was launched in Cleveland, Ohio by the American Ship Building Co. for the Marquette & Bessemer Dock & Navigation Co. She was the replacement for MARQUETTE & BESSEMER NO 2 of 1905, (Hull#428), which foundered on Lake Erie, December 7, 1909.

On September 3, 1869, the 167-foot wooden propeller BOSCOBEL burned about two miles below St. Clair, Michigan. Three lives were lost. The ship was only about two years old and was in service of the New York Central Railroad, though owned by the Peshtigo Lumbering Co. of Chicago. The burned hulk was raised in 1876 and rebuilt as a schooner-barge at Algonac, Michigan. She lasted until 1909, when she sank on Lake Huron.

1905: The GEORGE STEPHENSON was blown aground at Pointe Aux Pins, Lake Superior and struck by her consort barge JOHN A. ROEBLING. Both were released and returned to service.

1942: DONALD STEWART, a canal trader for Canada Steamship Lines, was torpedoed by U-517 and sunk while in a convoy on the Gulf of St. Lawrence while carrying barrels of aviation fuel and bulk cement for the air base at Goose Bay, Labrador. Three members of the engine room crew were lost.

1944: LIVINGSTON, a former Great Lakes canal ship, was torpedoed and sunk by U-541 in the Atlantic about 80 miles east of Cape Breton Island. Fourteen lives were lost but another 14 were spared and rescued.

1965: The tanker EASTERN SHELL sank the small wooden goelette MONT BLANC in a collision blamed on fog about 20 miles from Trois Rivieres. All crewmembers of the pulpwood carrier were rescued.

1970: KENNETH made a single trip to the Great Lakes in 1959. It caught fire in the engine room on this date off the coast of Israel while enroute from Alexandria, Egypt, to Tripoli, Libya, as h) CHRISTINA MARIA. The ship was abandoned by the crew, towed into Haifa, Israel, September 6 and sold to Israeli shipbreakers later in the year.

1998: ORKANGER, a chemical tanker that first came through the Seaway in 1977, began leaking while inbound at Rio Grande, Brazil, as e) BAHAMAS with 12,000 tons of sulphuric acid and sank in the harbor. The hull was eventually refloated but never repaired although it had subsequent renames and was reported as broken up in 2003 as h) ORIENT FLOWER.

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


Port Reports -  September 1

Marquette, Mich. – Rod Burdick
Hon. James L. Oberstar loaded ore Sunday evening at the LS&I Upper Harbor dock. Oberstar has had very few Marquette loads so far this season.

Oswego, N.Y. – Ned Goebricher
Sunday the tug Margot and barge transited the New York State Barge Canal for Lake Ontario.


Lake Michigan ferry fight rages in Washington

9/1 - Washington, D.C. – On one side is the S.S. Badger, the only coal-fired steamship left in North America and a multi-million-dollar linchpin for the economy of the historic lakeshore town of Manitowoc. On the other is the $18 million high-tech, high-speed Lake Express ferry, based in Milwaukee.

Both traverse Lake Michigan daily during the summer sailing season, carrying passengers and cars between Wisconsin and Michigan. Both have spent an inordinate amount of time and money in the nation's capital trying to sink each other.

The battle has involved an alphabet soup of federal agencies from the EPA to the DOT, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle -- and the lake -- and a federal lobbying tab nearing $1 million. So far.

On its face, the struggle is simply good old-fashioned, free-market competition, but it is also a fierce clash between urban and small-town interests and environmental conservation and historic preservation. And it provides a revealing look at how business is done on behalf of competing interests in the nation's capital.

The Badger has been docking in Manitowoc for more than 60 years, and it contributes as much as $14 million annually to the region's economy. Its sentimental value is even greater, some say.

Manitowoc Mayor Justin Nickels recently hailed it as "a beautiful boat that honors our city every day with her graceful presence and multitude of wonderful visitors." Historians in town recall making the lake crossing as children, and they say a group of local residents still turns out to greet passengers when the Badger chugs into port.

"There's about two or three, four guys that go down there during the summer months and they'll just sit there, wait for the car ferry to come in, and they'll shake hands as the passengers come out," said Phil Groll of the local historical society.

But the ship has been discharging tons of ash into the lake each day -- the remnants of burning coal to power its steam engines -- and the Environmental Protection Agency determined in 2008 that it had to stop. The company that runs the Badger, Lake Michigan Carferry, was given until the end of 2012 to comply. Company officials said at the time that the Badger would be forced out of business if it had to stop dumping ash.

Competing Milwaukee ferry Lake Express then hired a Washington lobbying firm Broydrick & Associates and has so far paid it a half million dollars to lobby against the Badger.

When the steamship applied for a $14 million federal transportation grant to convert its coal-fired engines to diesel fuel in 2010, Lake Express opposed the application, saying the money would provide the Badger with a "huge advantage in a market like this," and would represent "an egregious overreach by the federal government." Broydrick lobbied against the grant, according to disclosure reports, and the Department of Transportation ultimately declined to award the funding.

The next year, the coal-fired ferry was nominated for status as a national landmark and Badger officials appealed to theNational Park Service for the designation saying it would play a "critical role" in its survival as an "invaluable" asset in negotiations with the EPA. Lake Express lobbyist Bill Broydrick opposed that, too, saying it would amount to nothing more than "special treatment for a polluter," according to an Associated Press report. The park service tabled the measure.

Lawmakers supporting the Badger and representing its lakeshore port cities -- including Republican Reps. Tom Petri of Wisconsin and Bill Huizenga of Michigan -- then tried to protect it by sponsoring a legislative amendment that would allow the Badger to continue sailing despite the EPA mandate. Lake Express's Broydrick reported lobbying against the effort, and it also failed.

As the deadline approached in December 2012, the Badger applied for an extension and ultimately reached an agreement with the EPA that allowed it to keep sailing. At least untilthe start of next year's sailing season, when it faces another deadline to stop dumping coal ash.

For their part, the operators of the Lake Express say they just want a level playing field. If the Badger is allowed to run as is, it has lower overhead costs, which means the steamship can charge less for passage than Lake Express.

"Why are we involved in this? Because . . . when these guys avoid a year's worth of compliance, it's worth somewhere between something like $400,000 and several million dollars' worth of costs," Lake Express marketing director Aaron Schultz said. Ferry

The Lake Express charges $163 round-trip per passenger, while the Badger charges $130. The ferries ply parallel routes across the lake, the Badger between Manitowoc and Ludington, Mich., and the Express between Milwaukee and Muskegon, Mich. The steamship takes four hours to cover about 60 miles, while the diesel-powered Express makes its 80-mile crossing in 2½ hours.

When it comes to the Express lobbying effort, some could also argue that turnabout is fair play. Both sides have given generously to federal lawmakers who champion their cause. And the Badger vehemently fought the launching of Lake Express a decade ago and paid its own Washington lobbyist $120,000 to try and block federal assistance to build the ferry.

Lubar & Co., the Milwaukee investment group that owns Lake Express, applied to the U.S. Marine Administration for $14 million in loan guarantees to help it build the boat. But Robert Manglitz, the president of Badger operator Lake Michigan Carferry, said there was only room for one ferry on the lake and federal assistance would provide an unfair market advantage to Lake Express. In the end, however, the Badger's lobbying effort failed, and Lake Express secured the guarantees and built its ferry, launching in June 2004.

At the time, Manglitz decried it as a "pork barrel" carve-out. "We got a lesson in politics," he said. "He who has the gold, rules."

Both companies appeared to compete cordially for the next few years. That is, until the Badger cut prices and engaged in what its own officials called a "ferry fare war" in the summer of 2009.

"We take passengers from them and they take passengers from us," Manglitz later told the Ludington Daily News. "There is a finite number of passengers out there."

Shortly after the fare war began, Lake Express hired its lobbyist, Broydrick, and the battle was on.

The latest salvo came last month from U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, a Milwaukee Democrat who fired off a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder in July asking him to crack down on the Badger for an alleged violation of its agreement with the EPA. She asserts the ferry didn't reduce the amount of coal it burned in 2013.

Moore's office didn't announce her effort. Rather, the letter was distributed to media by Lake Express lobbyist Broydrick.

The Justice Department has not responded to the letter and did not comment for this report. The EPA declined to weigh in on the potential violation, saying decisions about Lake Michigan Carferry's compliance have yet to be made.

Lawmakers Petri and Huizenga are frustrated by the efforts to push for a crackdown on the Badger.

"It's my understanding that the Badger is already reducing discharge of coal ash and is on track to stop all discharge," Petri said. "It should be allowed to continue operating without political interference."

Huizenga agrees.

"I find it stunning that some elected officials are making false claims against the Badger and attempting to use the federal government to eliminate jobs in communities they do not represent," he said.

The Badger's spokeswoman, Terri Brown, maintains that the steamship is on track to stop dumping coal ash into the lake by the deadline. She says the company plans to install a system that will allow the steamship to keep the ash on board and dispose of it in port, rather than in the lake, although she's not sure exactly what that system will look like.

In the meantime, the company has been hoping the Badger would win status as a national landmark. It has been nominated a second time, but it appears that effort has been scuttled, too, for now.

Broydrick said that he recently received word that Interior Secretary Sally Jewell won't grant the designation until the ship stops dumping coal ash.

Schultz, the marketing director for Lake Express, calls the ferry showdown "a spaghetti ball of outside influence," but he says the Badger remains an "anachronism."

"They've had a good run, and I think they've gotten a little spoiled in thinking they should be able to run as is forever," he said. "You find any other business that runs at 1950s standards and gets rewarded for it? I'd be shocked if there's even a one out there."

Gannett Washington Bureau


Lookback #288 – Benmaple sunk in collision with French liner Lafayette on Sept. 1, 1936

The steamer Benmaple combined Great Lakes and Atlantic Ocean service. The ship was built at Ecorse, Mich., and completed as International in 1914. It initially served the Atlantic Coast Steamship Co. and often carried pulpwood down the lakes.

It was sold to French interests and went overseas for service as S.N.A. No. 1 for coastal service out of the port of Rouen. In this capacity, coal was believed to be it most popular cargo.

Following the end of hostilities, the ship returned to the Great Lakes after a sale to the Port Colborne and St. Lawrence Navigation Co. It was registered in Toronto as Benmaple on Oct. 6, 1922. Now, the ship was used to carry grain from Port Colborne to storage elevators along the St. Lawrence on behalf of Maple Leaf Mills. It was also a frequent caller to Toronto to load at Toronto Elevators and, when available, the ship returned to the Great Lakes with freight.

On Sept. 1, 1936, 78 years ago today, Benmaple collided in fog on the St. Lawrence with the French ocean liner Lafayette, near Father Point, while on a voyage to Halifax and Sydney, Nova Scotia. On board Benmaple, one sailor was crushed in his bunk and killed while three others were injured. The accident occurred at about 0400 hours and the ship sank in deep water as a total loss.

Lafayette, inbound for Quebec City at the time of the collision, was required to pay 75 percent of the damages. It did not last much longer. Lafayette caught fire while on a dry dock at Le Have, France, on May 4, 1938. This vessel was broken up for scrap at Rotterdam, Holland, shortly afterwards.

Skip Gillham


Today in Great Lakes History -  September 1

September 1, 1880, the Cleveland Vessel Owners Association, later Lake Carriers’ Association, was created, with Alva Bradley as its first president.

September 1, 1892, the upbound WESTERN RESERVE, flagship of the Kinsman fleet, sank approximately 60 miles above Whitefish Point. There were 31 casualties among the crew and passengers. The lone survivor was Wheelsman Harry W. Stewart.

On 01 September 1891, EDWARD H. JENKS (wooden propeller freighter, 119 foot over all, 180 gross tons, built in 1882, at Port Dover, Ontario as the passenger/package freight steamer E.M. FOSTER) was carrying limestone up the Detroit River during a foggy night when she collided with GEORGE W. MORLEY (wooden propeller freighter, 193 foot, 1,045 gross tons, built in 1888, at W. Bay City, Michigan) in a misunderstanding of passing signals. Three were killed in the collision and the JENKS quickly sank at Ballard's Reef on the Detroit River. Her cargo kept her in place until she was recovered the following month and rebuilt.

Tragedy struck four days after the launch of the AGAWA CANYON, September 1, 1970, when the ship was rocked by an engine room explosion, killing one of the crew and injuring seven more. The AGAWA CANYON entered service in November, 1970, equipped with four 10 cylinder, two stroke cycle, single acting opposed piston diesel engines, built in 1970, by Fairbanks, Morse (Canada), Kingston, Ontario. Total bhp 6,680. Rated service speed: 12 knots (13.8 mph).

The TEMPLE BAR (Hull#101G) was launched September 1, 1970, at Govan, Scotland by the Govan Division of Upper Clyde Shipbuilders Ltd. for Lambert Bros. (Shipping) Ltd., London, England. Renamed b.) LAKE NIPIGON in 1977, c.) LAKETON in 1984, d.) LAKE NIPIGON in 1986, and e.) ALGONORTH in 1987.

Upon her arrival at Quebec City on September 1, 1962, the LAKE WINNIPEG was the first vessel of the Nipigon Transport Ltd. (Carryore Ltd., mgr.) fleet.

The self-unloader B.H. TAYLOR (Hull#787) was launched September 1, 1923, at Lorain, Ohio by American Ship Building Co., the third self-unloader built for the Bradley Transportation Co., Rogers City, Michigan. Renamed b.) ROGERS CITY in 1957. Scrapped at Recife, Brazil in 1988.

From September 1, 1947, to September 15, 1959, the U.S.C.G.C. MESQUITE was stationed at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan.

On 1 September 1854, ABIAH (2-mast wooden schooner or brig, 134 foot, 353 tons, built in 1848, at Irving, New York) was sailing light from Chicago, Illinois, to Oconto, Wisconsin, when she capsized and sank in a squall about 10 miles off Sheboygan, Wisconsin. The schooner L. LUDDINGTON rescued her crew and 2 passengers.

The 135-foot wooden schooner JOSEPH E. SPARROW was launched at Bangor, Michigan, on 1 September 1873.

On 1 September 1900, the Canadian steamer ADVANCE (wooden propeller package freighter, 168 foot, 1,178 gross tons, built in 1884, at St. Catharines, Ontario) was placed in service. In August 1899, when she was named SIR S. L. TILLEY, she had caught fire off shore, about 7 miles from Fairport, Ohio, and was destroyed. However, the hull was later recovered and used as the basis of the steamer ADVANCE. She lasted in this role until 1903, when she burned again.

September 1, 1919 - A switchman was killed in the yard at Manitowoc, Wisconsin, while the ANN ARBOR No. 6 was being loaded. This caused a delay of four hours in her sailing time.

September 1, 1931 - W. L. Mercereau retired as superintendent of steamships, a position he had held since 1899.

1916 DRONNING MAUD, a Norwegian freighter visited the Great Lakes on charter to Keystone Transports beginning in 1909. It hit a mine in the North Sea on this date and sank off the east coast of England, between Southwall and Lowestoft.

1929 EDWARD BUCKLEY caught fire and was destroyed in the North Channel of Georgian Bay. The blaze broke out aft while enroute to Little Current to load pulpwood. The hull burned to the waterline and sank near Narrow Island Lighthouse. Local fishermen rescued the crew.

1936 The Canadian canaller BENMAPLE of the Port Colborne & St. Lawrence Navigation Company, sank in the St. Lawrence at about 0400 hours, near Father Point, after being hit in fog by the inbound liner LAFAYETTE. A wheelsman was killed but all others on board were rescued.

1983 INDIANA HARBOR sets a record loading 67,896 tons of iron ore at Escanaba.

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



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